Chapter 7: Local Color

on April 20, 2011 in Volume 2: Sophomore Effort
Timeline: , , , ,



When I enrolled in Magisterius University, it had been with the understanding that taking a weapon proficiency class was part of the general education requirements for an undergrad degree. That’s pretty standard.

The fact that MU only required three credit hours where some other universities required six had been one of the things that drew me to it, on top of it having a top-notch enchantment department. The jerk who stood up to pick at Acantha’s qualifications might only have been incidentally heaping praise on the absent professor Leclerc, but he deserved it… the department attracted the best.

So, the idea had been that I could take one little fighting class, no matter how basic, and I’d be done. It wouldn’t be the only class I had to take that didn’t directly contribute to my major… MU was a liberal arts university, not a trade school. But I had figured it would be the only class I had to take where I couldn’t find something that sounded fun or interesting to me.

Of course, I’d ended up making a deal with my fighting instructor to take another class of hers in exchange for being spared a GPA-destroying C in the first one, so I wasn’t done with fighting. Worse, the school had added another graduation requirement. Students who were sophomores and juniors in 222 were spared, but all of us who had been freshmen and all the incoming students behind us would have to take at least one delving and discovery class.

They called it the “survival credit”, and it was supposed to be aimed at decreasing the death rate among the student body after the number of high-profile deaths in the past year. My take? The delving department was making a grab for power and/or continuing relevancy. The catalogue got shuffled around so that a number of courses that focused on things like wilderness survival and monster lore got put under the delving heading.

They could have been left where they were and the requirement could have been “one class from the following list”, but now literally every student who enrolled would be taking a delving class. I had no idea how the university’s bookkeeping worked but I had to imagine that would result in more money for delving programs.

The good news for those of us who had no interest in climbing out of pit traps or avoiding giant spiders was that the requirement could be filled as easily by taking in a lecture as it could be by taking what was laughably referred to as a “practical” class. More easily, in fact, as all but the most basic 100 level examples of the practicals had a lecture or two as a prerequisite.

I’d heard those entry-level dungeoneering courses did get a big surge in applicants from a combination of people not realizing that the required delving course didn’t have to actually require delving and from people who actually thought it sounded cool and now had an excuse to take one.

Me? I’d taken a lecture. DND 117… Local Hazards… was a new class, constituted from the remains of another much more general class about local interests. Unlike some of the more spider-oriented courses, it seemed likely to teach stuff that could actually be useful in fulfilling the purpose of the new requirement.

It was held in a smallish lecture hall… a medium-sized classroom, but small for the sort of room I thought of as a lecture hall. It also seemed to be one of the older classrooms, with institutionally uncomfortable seats bolted into rows. They were the kind where the “desk” was like a big wooden tray attached to one of the arms.

I really hoped this wasn’t going to be a note-intensive course. I was lucky to be skinny enough that I could slide into my seat and twist around to write. Yes, I’d put on the infamous “freshman fifteen”… well, not quite fifteen, but probably more than ten. But ten pounds of fat on a skinny girl is still just a skinny girl who squishes out a bit more. The fact that my stomach wasn’t concave meant I’d never get credit for being thin, but it wasn’t like I had ever had guys lining up to congratulate me for successfully living up to beauty standards.

Before, I’d been bony and awkward and plain. I was still awkward and plain, and could be called “skinny” or “pudgy” depending on how the person who wanted to disparage me felt at the moment.

The year before, Amaranth shared with me her theory that beauty is subjective… not only in the sense that personal preferences and beauty standards are subjective, which seems like it should be able to go without saying. Her idea is that most people fall into a pretty average-ish range to begin with, having a collection of traits that are more like the ideal and traits that are more like flaws… but which of those traits we see depends on how we feel about the person, and in a social setting that will depend on how the crowd sees them.

In other words, the pretty, popular girls aren’t just popular because they’re pretty… they’re accepted as pretty despite their flaws because they’re popular.

I’ve spent most of my life being seen as a non-entity or a threat, so I look plain or I look threatening to most people. If someone thinks that a half-demon is sexy and exotic, then maybe I’ll end up looking alluring to them… my habit of walking around with my head turned down and not saying much becomes mysterious, or whatever. I don’t know.

The theory was Amaranth’s. Even if I thought there was something to it, I wasn’t necessarily versed in the practice of it. Whenever I try to imagine how other people see me, it never ends well.

The classroom wasn’t a large one, as I said, and it was only about half full when the timepiece on the wall was showing two. I spent a few moments wondering when the instructor was going to arrive, but then I noticed a head of curly red hair bent over the lectern. I hadn’t seen or heard the professor arrive… or noticed her dragging a stool over to stand on.

Unless we’d had another last-minute substitution, it seemed that Professor B. Swain was a gnome. Probably a burrow gnome, like Two’s friend Hazel, though I didn’t know enough about gnomes to say that definitively. Her garments looked more practical than their floor-length dresses: a vest full of pockets worn under a heavy jacket of tweed or some similar material, and pants with long cuffs that flared out to hide all but the tips of her fuzzy toes. That would probably be considered risque back in the shire, from what I knew about gnomish women, but wouldn’t register as even mildly salacious to anyone else.

The professor was flipping through papers and she ended up knocking a pen off the podium. It clattered to the floor. All the scattered little conversations around the room stopped as everyone who hadn’t already noticed the presence of the woman at the lectern became aware of it at once.

“Ah, boots,” she said, with the inflection of an oath. She looked up and around the room as she reached into an interior pocket of her jacket and pulled out another pen. “Whoops! Pardon my elvish. I’m a little out of sorts, this is my first time giving a lecture in one of these big east campus halls. I’ve sent multiple requests to the facilities blokes about getting some proper sized furnishings sent in here with no answer, and to top it all off I’ve yet to find a route to a smoking area that doesn’t require a packed lunch, and I only have three of those to last the day. Ah, well. Bell’s chimed two now, so best we be getting on with it, eh?

“My name is Professor Bryony Swain. That’s ‘Bryony’, like the flower, not ‘Byrony’, like some big hulking bloke named Byron. I recognize some of you from my courses in herbalism or forest craft over on west campus. For all those I haven’t met: common myth has it that the first name-family name thing is a human invention, unique to humans, so if any of you feel funny about calling a wee little shireling ‘Professor Swain’… suck it up and do it anyway. The rest of you can call me whatever portion of my name is most pleasing to your ear… from none to all of it… just so long as it begins with ‘Professor’.

“This is DND 117, Local Hazards… formerly GEN 153, Local Interests. If you were looking for anything else, I’m sorry to inform you that you haven’t found it. I have a syllabus for you, but I’m meant to have a teaching assistant who I expected to hand it out, or I would have left them on the desks before climbing up here… but it doesn’t look as though she’s going to be showing. So, everyone come up and get one from me at the end of class, alright?”

It wasn’t the best-organized class, obviously, but gnomes had a hard enough time being noticed by people… I couldn’t imagine they were any better at getting attention from bureaucracy. Personally, I felt really reassured to know the teacher was a “wee little shireling”. There had been a note at the bottom of every page of delving classes in the course catalogue saying that any lecture could require fieldwork. Gnomes were sort of notoriously adventure-averse, and a teacher who considered it an ordeal to walk from the classroom to an outdoor smoking area probably wouldn’t be big on quests.

“For today, we’re going to be doing a bit of an overview of the region and its perils. This lecture isn’t just a preview of what you’re going to be hearing for the rest of the semester, it’s a useful primer that probably everybody who lives or studies in the area could stand to hear.

“Prax is considered to be one of the central prairie provinces. For people who’ve never been here, that means they picture a vast flat and empty plain. You’ve already been here for at least three days, so you’ve probably noticed that this doesn’t necessarily hold true. Western Prax is flat and empty, and the farther west you go, the flatter and emptier it gets. Eastern Prax is in the Enias River Valley system, which means we have rolling hills, lakes and rivers and bogs, and more than enough trees to give a whole kingdom of elves w… er, a place to hang their hats.

“We’ll be talking about the forests of Prax not just because of the dangers they hide, but because they qualify as a ‘local hazard’ in and of themselves. The local woods are classified by the Imperial Geomantic Survey as ‘wild’, and they are. Wild does not just mean unsettled or unexplored. It means wild. They have never been mapped completely, and may never be completely mappable. Though the forest system covers less than a quarter of the four provinces it spreads across the corners of, it is believed… and quite rightly so, to my mind… that the actual interior of that forest could be larger than the continent of Magisteria.

“Fortunately there is something of an inverse relationship at play here… the largest bits of the forest would take up the smallest amount of space as seen from the normal, outside view. Maybe ninety percent of the forest is just forest. If you flew high up over it and looked down, what you’d see would be what you’d get if you went crashing down through the canopy. For ninety percent of what was left, you might notice the light changing and the trees getting bigger and more majestic, or more threatening, or the time it takes to get from Point A to Point B doing funny shifts on you. Ninety percent of what’s left after that might be visibly and obviously ‘off’, but you’d probably be able to find your way back to normal woods if you backed out of it as soon as you realized. And so on.

“The key to the whole thing is to keep your eyes and mind open when you’re in the woods, because you’ll usually be able to spot when you’ve started to go wrong. We’ll be talking about the signs to watch for later on, including a few you won’t learn from any textbook. While stumbling between the wrong two trees could land you in the middle of an almost infinite expanse of forested wilderness without any warning… well, there are really rather quite a lot of trees in the forest, and the chances of stumbling between the wrong two are quite low, you know? Though there are plenty of trees that you don’t want to get too close to, even in the ‘normal’ neck of the wood…”

She went on to describe various kinds of plant monsters, from the semi-ambulatory “green men of the woods” that moved only very slowly but had a paralytic sap that could be used to trap anyone who stumbled into one to venomous cobra vines to a willow-like creature called the “hangman’s tree” that couldn’t move at all but that lured its prey in with whispers on the wind.

“The more dangerous flora is found most often in the wilder parts of the wood, but the problem is that these things can get around,” she said. “And I don’t just mean the ones that can move under their own power. Plants spread. It might take a while for a seed in the deepest of deep woods to catch just the right breeze to blow to somewhere where it can sprout in the ‘shallows’, but they’ve had forever and a half to do it in. The university grounds crew and patrols by student adventurers keep the worst of it away from the edges of the campus, but you can follow a path through your woods that starts on your safe glowing walkways that leads you straight into the waiting arms of a green man, no fooling.”

She went on from there to give an even briefer overview of the non-vegetable threats that lurked in the woods, because there were more of them: dire beasts, fae creatures and spirits, intelligent or semi-intelligent but territorial folk who weren’t aware or didn’t care that an Imperial Republic had been constituted that included their woods inside its borders…

She punctuated her speech with variations of “and you won’t learn that from any textbook”, which was dismaying in a couple ways.

First was that the class had three different texts assigned. They were cheap compared to most textbooks… two were paperback field guides… but if their main purpose was for her to have something to point to and say, “This won’t teach you anything you couldn’t get from my personal experience,” she might as well have stuck with a single book.

The second was that it gave me the very disconcerting feeling that Professor Swain really was speaking from experience when it came to the hazards of traipsing around the weirder parts of the woods, which meant it was just possible that she’d expect us to go out and do that at some point. It would have been unusual, but not every gnome could live up to the stereotype. She was definitely cut from rougher cloth than any of the gnomes I’d met. “Boots” probably sounded like a ludicrously childish swear to most human ears, but I had an inkling that even Two’s friend Hazel would have blushed at the sound of it.

“The forest is only half the story,” she said, near the end of the hour. “The other is the water.” She swallowed. “Now, I have to stress to you that we’re going to be referring more to textbooks when it comes to this sort of thing. I certainly have far less direct experience with the navigation of waterways than I do with the byways of the forests. I may have climbed aboard a billy a few times out of sheer necessity… excuse me, I mean a, ah, er, you know, a boat… but I’m not exactly what you might call a river person, if you follow.”

It was interesting to note that even a worldly gnome could share in the prejudice towards “river people” that Honey and Hazel suffered from. That was to say, Honey suffered from having the prejudice and Hazel suffered from the fact that Honey had it. Professor Swain didn’t blush when she blurted out a mention of footwear, but she felt embarrassed to spit out the word “boat” in a classroom setting.

I also didn’t miss her confirmation that she was, in fact, not averse to traipsing through the less safe parts of the woods. I really hoped that the fact that the class was located in an east campus lecture hall instead of whatever she was used to on west campus meant that we wouldn’t be going on any excursions… though it could also mean that we were expected to do field research on our own time, which would be even worse. If I had to go do any adventuring exercises, I would have preferred to do it in the company of a whole group of people and with a guide who knew what she was doing.

“Now, water obviously does pose its own hazards to the incautious,” she continued, “but most folks are less apt to go take a stroll in the river and then realize four hours later that they’re lost, so we’re mostly going to be focusing on the hazards that water breeds, with a particular focus on the ones that can come to you even if you stay a respectable distance away from banks. For instance: Prax has the largest wild population of ghouls in the Imperium, and the largest that we know of in the world. One in four students who leaves Magisterius University with an undergraduate degree will have had an encounter with ghouls or seen direct signs of their presence. One in four students who never leave the university will have had a closer encounter with ghouls or seen even more direct signs of their presence.”

She didn’t have to tell me this. I’d already had my ghoul encounter. It had taught me that I didn’t have much to fear from them personally, and that I didn’t want anything to do with them ever again.

“The good news is that ghouls don’t like the deep and wild woods very much, so if you find yourself hopelessly lost in there you can cross one thing off your list of worries.” She glanced up at the timepiece. “And on that cheery note, I believe we’ll stop for the day. Everyone come up and get a copy of the syllabus. We’ll be going over it in more detail Wednesday.”

The syllabus only confirmed what I’d feared: in the section labeled “Grades”, independent fieldwork was not just listed as a requirement, it was weighted as twenty-five percent of our final grade. I’d have to wait until Wednesday to find out what it would entail, but it didn’t take much of a guess to say that it wouldn’t be as fun or as interesting as my spellbinding homework.


Soon: Callahan!

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89 Responses to “Chapter 7: Local Color”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Bryony! Sweet! Which should also give us some opportunities to learn more about Gnomes.

    Also, I like the fact that the department course listing is DND, nice little reference there.

    Current score: 1
    • Lunaroki says:

      If I recall correctly that’s short for “Delving ‘n Discovery”.

      Current score: 1
    • K says:

      DND 117… Love it! 😀

      Current score: 0
  2. Smiles says:

    Took me a while to realize why Mack didn’t recognize Bryony, apparently I’m confusing my MU and MoarMU a bit.

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  3. Glenn says:

    I’m hoping that Mack will eventually end up doing some field work with Jamie in this class.

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    • Zukira Phaera says:

      that would be cool, say if her second year students got credits or something for doing guide duty for the DND 117 class. I might not particularly like Jaime and crew (except Marlot and Violet to a lesser degree) but he’d be a decent lesser antagonist value in the story.

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  4. jefsolo says:

    I miss Jaime….:-(. But am glad to have Bryony back.

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  5. nemka says:

    I kind of hope Jamie doesn’t show up – reading MoarMU and comparing his excessively arrogant/unfounded/prejudiced commentary to what we knew was true about Mack irritated me.

    But rock it for Byrony, I enjoy her.

    And I hope Mack meets some greenmen.

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    • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

      I agree with you about Jamie.

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    • Warclam says:

      Yeah, I never cared for him either, or his creepy friends. I’m glad it looks like they’re not going to win the donation drive. Definitely nice to see Bryony again though.

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      • DaManRando says:

        Always felt he was too fracking elven for his own good…. really it occurs to me that I rarely run across an Elf in fiction that I enjoy

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        • drudge says:

          That’s really not an uncommon trait. No matter what anyone does with elves, I usually wind up with the urge to shove a sword between their eyes(and in games, I usually do).

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    • Alice says:

      Man, I love Jamie. I actually like him quite a bit more than I like Mack. When MoarMU was updating regularly, I was way more anxious to read that one than this one, although I do love this one quite a lot. I wish this weren’t the worst possible month for me to contribute to the story drive. Any other time I’d throw down massive cash for the MoarMU team, but I’m in the process of starting a business right now, so… yeah.

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  6. moofable says:

    “That’s ‘Bryony’, like the flower, not ‘Byrony’, like some big hulking bloke named Byron.”
    So much love for that. So. Much. Love.

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    • Null Set says:

      Gotta admit, I had been calling her “Byrony” in my head, and would likely have kept on transposing those letters without that note.

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      • Elisa says:

        Same XD

        Is it Brye-ony or Bree-ony?

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        • Oitur says:

          According to Wikipedia: “Bryony (pronounced /ˈbraɪ.əni/) is its most well-known common name.” That’s “BRY-uh-knee” if yr not hip to the IPA.

          Current score: 0
          • cnic says:

            Thanks, all this time I was pronouncing it [bɹɐ.jɔ.ni]

            Current score: 1
  7. bramble says:

    I laughed and clapped my hands in the middle of a crowded cafeteria when Bryony showed up, no lie. Now everyone thinks I’m crazy.

    Current score: 0
  8. Brenda says:

    Delighted to see Professor Bryony! Amazing how no one seems to notice gnomes…

    One typo I noticed: “Plants spread. it might take a while”

    Needs either a capitalization of “It” or a semicolon or dash or something to replace the period.

    Current score: 0
    • Oitur says:

      “…but they’ve had forever and a half to do it in.”

      Nice

      Current score: 0
  9. Vee says:

    Well, that was a surprise! I’m happy to see her again. She plays favorites, but I enjoy her teaching style anyway. Extremely informal.

    Current score: 0
    • cnic says:

      I was really shocked she didn’t bring food for the class.

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      • Zukira Phaera says:

        True, but she did mention she had only 3 packed lunches for the day. Snacks for class might just be too much to transport on top of that.

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  10. Janus says:

    “The good news for those of who had no interest in climbing out of pit traps or avoiding giant spiders was that the requirement” should probably have an “us” in it somewhere.

    Current score: 0
  11. Angnor says:

    Great chapter, and it’s nice to see Professor Bryony Swain back!
    Sounds like this could be an interesting class.

    Current score: 0
  12. The Dark Master says:

    I notice that Mackenzie seems really adverse to real experiences. Hopefully she learns to enjoy them a little more over the semester, or at least understand their value.

    I am also happy to see Bryony’s triumphant return, but she seems much more annoying this time, I wonder if Mackenzie’s and Jammie’s perspectives warp the characters’ dialogs and the way they are interpreted?

    Current score: 0
    • Angnor says:

      I would say that Mack certainly shows an aversion to certain types of experiences. She didn’t care about her weapons class at first, was down on the gladiators when Ian wanted to join, and still seems at least unenthusiastic about skirmish and Shiel’s war game (can’t recall the name… ‘Stones’?).

      But she’s had plenty of ‘real’ and quite unique experiences that she ended up being enthusiastic about (some outdoors, even). Including her major coursework.

      Current score: 0
      • Lunaroki says:

        I believe the name of the game is ‘Stone Soldiers’.

        Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      Keep in mind that “real” experiences in this world can be rather lethal. This is not a world where walking in the woods is relatively safe.
      This is a world where walking in the woods can leave you stranded in another reality, one where the fae are not the kindly Disney type.
      One where some plants, instead of being occasionally poisonous if you seek them out and eat them, actively try to eat you.
      Personally, Mack shying away from “real” experiences is an entirely reasonable response, much like someone who is avoiding a war zone, when going on vacation, is just being sensible.

      Current score: 1
  13. Angnor says:

    Typos, I think…

    “Plants spread. it might…”
    ‘It’ should be capitalized.

    “…trees couldland you…”
    Needs a space.

    Current score: 0
    • ShadowKat says:

      I was reading the comments looking to see if someone had already noticed that missing space. gg.

      Current score: 0
  14. Zathras IX says:

    Shouldn’t the very fact
    That Mack still survives count as
    “Survival credit”?

    Current score: 1
    • Krista says:

      I love your haikus Zathras IX. Please don’t ever stop??

      Current score: 0
    • Alice says:

      Lovely, but one too many syllables on the first line, I think?

      Current score: 0
      • Sapphite says:

        Shouldn’t is tough to count, but very=mere would do the job.

        Very interesting point Zathras – she did after all already have a delve experience at the school’s ‘insistence’.

        Current score: 0
      • Zukira Phaera says:

        Should not would be 2, shouldn’t is one due to the drop in a vowel and contraction of the words.

        When in doubt, http://www.wordcalc.com/index.php does the counting for you 😉

        Current score: 0
        • No, “shouldn’t” is still two syllables. There’s no vowel letter there but there’s still a vowel sound. If you really slur it into “shou’n’t” (pronounced “shunt”, I suppose) it could be one syllable, but “should-ent” is very distinctly two.

          Current score: 0
          • Brenda says:

            I agree, the apostrophe is basically a schwa.

            The line would work with “can’t” instead of “shouldn’t”.

            Current score: 0
          • Zukira Phaera says:

            ah, then the site I listed needs a fix.

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  15. zeel says:

    What’s the sub title? There is just a big blank where it should be. Is this intentional, forgotten, or you just haven’t thought of one yet?

    Current score: 0
    • carson says:

      Chapter 7: Local Color

      In which the subtitle is omitted.

      (grin)

      Current score: 0
    • fka_luddite says:

      Gnomes tend not to be noticed.

      Current score: 0
    • OhPun says:

      It was written by a gnome, so you just don’t notice it.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        That makes putting it on the timeline difficult 😉

        Current score: 0
  16. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report

    Only a very tiny quibbling little typo to report this time.

    skinny girl who squishes out a bit more.The fact that my stomach wasn’t concave

    Needs a space between the two sentences.

    Current score: 0
  17. Sumnular says:

    I have this feeling that one of the other gnomes is going to be the TA >.<

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      I was under the impression that Bryony’s gnomish unnoticability resulted in either the administration forgetting to assign anyone as her TA or in the TA forgetting they needed to show up.

      Current score: 0
    • Durragh says:

      I was kind of thinking it would be Jaime, not hoping mind you, just thinking it would be. Jaime really annoys me. For me, Margo and the telepath, can’t remember her name, are what made MoarMu worthwhile.

      Current score: 0
      • Jennifer says:

        You mean Marlot and Violet.

        Current score: 0
      • Zukira Phaera says:

        glad I wasn’t the only one dread/fearing that, and I agree, it was Marlot and Violet who made MoarMU something I’d read on occasion. I certainly never caught myself playing refresh monkey hoping to catch an update of MoarMU like I do sometimes with MU.

        Current score: 0
    • Zukira Phaera says:

      Thinking about it, another gnome would remember. So that kinda crosses the gnomes off the list except as potential ‘replacement’ fodder.

      Current score: 0
  18. Chris says:

    Bryony! Awesome. I love her.

    Current score: 0
  19. Cadnawes says:

    If I could choose, which I can’t of course, this is what I’d like to see happen to MoarMu. Salvage the good characters out of it, and leave the narrator behind. Don’t get me wrong; he’s well written. I just want to punch him in his judgmental mouth. For all that he had no patience for Iason’s attitude towards women, his own could take some serious revision. On a variety of subjects, actually.

    Current score: 0
  20. tannenFuchs says:

    Anyone else get the feeling that the subtitle is “invisible” because it has to do with gnomes?

    Seriously, great chapter, AE! I really enjoyed Bryony in MoarMU, so I’m looking forward to seeing her more in this volume! xo^.^ox

    Current score: 0
  21. Dashel says:

    If Moar-Mu doesn’t get the reader’s vote to be continued in any form as a whole, why not hold a reader’s poll to find out which characters actually make the cut?

    That way you would have a fairly good idea of who clicked and who didn’t.

    Current score: 0
  22. anne says:

    While stumbling between the wrong two trees couldland you in the middle of an almost

    missing space between could and land (I still don’t know how to do itaics here…)

    Current score: 0
    • Calia says:

      HTML tags.
      I’d show you, but I can’t figure out how to make them actually show up 😛
      If you do a google search you’ll be able to see it.

      Current score: 0
    • Zukira Phaera says:

      Putting in the < i> and </i> tags around text will result in italics.

      (to get the less than greater than symbols to show in a post to explain this you use the html codes rather than the keyboard strokes to make the code work to do the quotes you use the actual keystrokes obviously.)

      Current score: 0
  23. Zathras IX says:

    It should probably be noted that, among the local hazards to be found in the woods to the east of MU, there’s likely to be a (*ahem*) familiar possessed and possessive pitchfork.

    Current score: 0
    • Angnor says:

      While it was certainly dropped off at the edge of the woods, I harbor doubts it remained within them for long. Hopefully, we’ll see soon.

      Current score: 0
  24. Abeo says:

    “The good news for those of who had”

    Missing an “us”.

    Current score: 0
  25. Tomo says:

    ” We’ll be talking about the signs to watch for later on, including a few you won’t learn from any textbook. While stumbling between the wrong two trees couldland you”

    no space between could and land.
    Other than that, great chapter as always, AE….OOK.

    Current score: 0
  26. Readaholic says:

    Awesome chapter, Ms Erin.
    While Jamie and Iason were annoying in some ways, they provided a good insight into more standard elvish and human culture. They’re also fairly typical adolescents. Jamie, especially, demonstrated the human reflexive thinking regarding half-demons: that once people hear the “demon” bit, their brains shut down and the “half” bit is pretty well forgotten.

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    • Rin says:

      Indeed. Jamie’s response to Mack might irk some of us since we’ve seen inside her head and know that she isn’t evil or or even just dangerous, as long as she remembers to feed. Jamie however does not know Mack. He’s just a mostly human boy who was most likely taught since childhood that demons are pure evil and the Great Enemy. His reaction was entirely understandable.

      Some prejudices are born out of hatred or maliciousness, but many (most even, I suspect) are the result of simple ignorance. Jamie’s reaction would fall under the latter category. For that reason alone I would like to see Jamie interact with Mack, to get to know her as a person and not just as some demonic thing.

      PS Also, he got a rather skewed perspective on Mack from Barley’s less than entirely complete and accurate account of what had transpired between them.

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      • Cadnawes says:

        It’s not just about Mack. I’d give him a pass on her. It’s not that she’s a half demon although I’m sure that doesn’t help. I can see why people wouldn’t like her.

        But. . . EVERYONE he’s seen including Puddy is a “whateverblood”. Amaranth is “dumpy”. He’s got a serious grudge against the physically imperfect, which is most revealed in that he swears up and down he has no feelings for Marlot, but wigs out when she gets a lover, and seems mystified that someone could be physically attracted to her.

        Sure, Mack doesn’t like everything and everyone, but she’s got a bit more of an excuse and you can see her trying. Jamie’s life seems to have been pretty idyllic thus far, and he’s too busy pointing out everyone elses shortcomings to even try to work on his own. In short, I’ve got no patience for him. That’s ok; he’d have no patience for me.

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        • Zukira Phaera says:

          indeed – he’s a fine example of a character foil when compared to Mack. As much as I dislike him he’s well written for that sort of characterization objective. While MoarMU as a whole I’ve always read as an intended foil subplot feature.

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        • Rin says:

          I’ll agree that those characteristics are less than admirable, Jamie is certainly flawed enough. For the most parts I can understand where they’re coming from though and I believe there’s still a chance he can learn to overcome those traits. After all, there have “only” been a 117 chapters of More MU so far, which might seem like a lot, but it’s at least as long as it took Mack to begin overcoming her own more glaring character flaws.

          I can sort of understand him classifying non-humans as “whateverbloods”, for example, since that is what he apparently habitually gets labeled as himself for his small amount of elven blood. Doesn’t make it right, especially not since he doesn’t like it when people do that to him, but it is human nature to treat people in roughly the same way you are treated yourself.

          His rather judgmental attitude towards anybody who doesn’t match a very specific beauty ideal is also understandable, given that he got those ideals from his elven family. Again, doesn’t exactly make it right, but a flawless character really wouldn’t be very interesting, would it?

          So, yeah, Jamie can be an ass sometimes, but I don’t believe he means to be. Than again, maybe I’m just too willing to see the good in people, even fictional ones.

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          • Cadnawes says:

            Oh, he’s got some good in him. He’s not a horrible person. He’s not a bad character. The traits that drive me up a wall are understandable. (Just because I understand them doesn’t mean I want to put up with them, though.) As Zukira Phaera noted above, he offsets the story as we already know it admirably. It was interesting seeing some of the events through his eyes. But given a choice, his head is not one I’d like to spend a lot of time inside.

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  27. machinarabbit says:

    Holy cow, didn’t notice I had caught up until I didn’t see a link for the next chapter! I just started reading MU about a week ago, at a friends insistence, and I love it!

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  28. Amelia says:

    Hurrah! Professor Bryony is back!

    I get the feeling that Boots is rather akin to Bugger: sounds innocent to Americans (enough to be frequently repeated in shows like Buffy for example) but really isn’t.

    (any more than a similar word starting with F would be, I’d rather not draw you a picture but if you don’t get it go back through MU for a bit, say the bit with Steff and Mack in the hotel, or, well, large portions of MoarMu)

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    • Amelia says:

      incidentally bugger is still somewhat milder than the other word, I have no idea why.

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    • Burnsidhe says:

      Gnomes don’t wear footwear. It’s a cultural thing. Boots does, in fact, refer to the article of clothing. And probably, more specifically, to the act of actually wearing boots.

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      • bramble says:

        Yeah. Remember how incredibly scandalized Honey was, when she saw that Hazel’s Veil costume included sandals? It’s not just that gnomes don’t need footwear. Anything altering the natural state of the foot is seen as fairly obscene (Honey was also shocked when she discovered that Hazel had been shaving).

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      • Amelia says:

        That’s what I meant: it sounds innocent to human/American ears but to Gnomes/Britons it has other connotations.
        I got the import I was just drawing a parralel.

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  29. Greenwood Goat says:

    Was that rhyming slang that she used there (billy goat = boat)? If so, a diminution of her footwear-related curse could be “Ah, daisies!” (Official Cockney Rhyming Slang: daisy root = boot).

    We’ve already been shown that space isn’t properly orthogonal in the world of MU, and it looks like these anomalous topologies aren’t confined to the Shift. So I’d imagine that the word “bewilder” has an even weightier derivation in Pax than it does in English. Who knows what Mack may encounter out there? It sounds like the sort of place that Mack’s Daddy would hide out in; indeed, folklore suggests that it is the sort of place that he did hide out in. I’m sure he’d like to meet her in the flesh (or reasonable facsimile thereof). Then there are the sidhe, who might have their own opinions about a demonblood walking their forests.

    As for water, put that way, I can’t help thinking that Bryony Swain’s people might have a point. If their water-related odium is derived from fear, and that fear might be justified in some cases… Perhaps there’s a Bill Springstep tale that only gets told at Veil…

    As the huge, tentacle-faced dragon thing ducked its bat-wings under arch of its foul, mind-boggling home, and testily slammed the cyclopean, black stone door shut behind it, Bill began to realise just how lucky he’d been. That had been a really lucky punch, and really lucky kick, and even then, if he hadn’t been so very lucky navigating all those strangely-angled back alleys back to his boat, well, the worst part was that he couldn’t begin to guess what the worst part would have been. As the stinking island began to sink once more beneath the waves, Bill decided that the seas, with their depths and currents and that Day-Gone fellow, about whom the less said the better, were just too large and alien and hazardous for decent folk like him. And from this, it seemed quite obvious that all bodies of water connected to the seas must be suspect too. And all bodies that might be, or might have been. In fact, the only water that might be considered truly safe was that sitting on tables in mugs and ewers, and Bill, directing his boat firmly homeward, resolved to warn his descendants of this in the strongest possible terms. They were really lucky, he thought, that he had found all this out first.

    One last humourous thought that I must let out:

    “On the subject of ‘wild’ and unchartable waters of similar ilk, the most authoritative text is the one I shall refer to by its authors, Anderson and Howe, though Professor Squire, Captain White and Lord Wakeman made significant contributions. Its actual title, translated from the draconic, is Tales from Topographic Oceans.”

    I’ll get my goat, I mean, coat.

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  30. 3023ogilvyd says:

    All these comments, and no love for the Fantasy in Miniature reference? It made my day to read that.

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  31. Kaila says:

    ‘Independent fieldwork’ – suck it up, bookworm, and keep your infernal eyes open out there.

    Also, I do love Prof Swain. She’s like a shireling druid almost.

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  32. Dan says:

    I’ve noticed that not everyone gets the freshman 15- a number of my friends club teams and took Ian’s route (well, not exactly his route). But yeah, the partiers usually managed to put on 15+ pounds, easily.

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    • drudge says:

      Well muscle is heavier than fat. Ian probably put on 15 as well by sheer physical weight.

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    • Cadnawes says:

      I think it’s more that the partiers put on fifteen OBVIOUS pounds. Your body does its last shift into its mature form right around college age. Hips broaden even if they don’t acquire any more upholstery. Muscles can firm up, even your bones lay down more material.

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  33. MistyCat says:

    “Prax has the largest wild population of ghouls in the Imperium, and the largest that we know of in the world.”

    My Venn diagram of this tells me that A ∪ B = A ∩ B.

    I fail either logic or geography.

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    • Null Set says:

      It might be the biology you are failing on. A population can refer to “A particular section, group, or type of people or animals living in an area or country”, and also “A community of animals, plants, or humans among whose members interbreeding occurs”.

      The size quality of the population in Prax is greater than the size of the populations of ghouls “living” in all other known and similarly scaled regions of the world.

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  34. Add me to the list of readers who are happy to see Prof. B. And I wouldn’t be too upset if some MoarMU characters ended up mixing in with the regulars, either, Violet in particular.

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