Chapter 295: Who Is Mackenzie Blaise?

on April 21, 2015 in Volume 2 Book 9: Who Is Mackenzie Blaise?

In Which The Truth Comes Out

“Humans call me Grant,” the gargoyle said. “I’m majoring in elementalism, with a focus on urban geomancy. Kind of predictable, I know. But I like it, and I’m good at it. No, I’m great at it. I can look at a building and tell you everything that’s right or wrong about it. If I can touch it, then I know it, the way you’d know an old friend. The way you’d know your favorite t-shirt when you slip it on. Or, I mean, I assume it’s like that. They don’t exactly make clothes for gargoyles, you know?”

There were three people left between him and me. A dozen or so had already spoken. We weren’t given any format for our introductions, but most of them started the same way anyway: name, sometimes followed by the major.

In any other lab class, this whole go-around-the-circle-and-introduce-yourself thing might have seemed a little junior high, but this was Basic Circle Magic. Despite the name, there wasn’t much basic about the kind of magical forces we would be weaving together. This was an entry-level class on a high-level subject, and it was all about the circle.

Working in tandem with other mages required both a sort of empathy and honesty that don’t come naturally to most people. We wouldn’t be joining minds… that might have been hazardous for anyone working with me… but we would be mixing our energies. Whatever we did or didn’t tell each other about ourselves on the first day was secondary to the fact that we were opening up to one another.

Not for the first time, I questioned the wisdom of taking this class. Not for the first time, I reminded myself that my major required either circle magic or line magic, and I did not want to be a line enchanter.

That meant I had to suck it up and figure out how to open up to a room full of mostly strangers.

My name is Mackenzie Blaise, I thought.

That’s an easy place to start, isn’t it? My name.




Or it would be, if I’d managed to stick to my original plan upon coming to college of keeping my head down, keeping my nose to the grindstone, getting out in four years with a valuable degree and making a ton of gold in the rapidly-growing field of consumer enchantment.

Things hadn’t worked out that way, and not just because it looked more and more like the ench bubble was going to burst before I ever got a chance to cash in. Right from the start I’d attracted way more attention than I’d ever wanted. Some of it was for good causes, or causes that seemed important at the time. Some of it was down to simple misunderstandings or things that had been blown out of proportion. Some of it was both… random happenstance that had put me square in the middle of fights I hadn’t asked for, but ultimately believed were worth fighting.

Magisterius University had been my way out, the only path I could see to get out from under the thumb of my grandmother, an ex-paladin turned country exorcist called Martha “Brimstone” Blaise. I’d only learned about the nickname and her past in armor after coming to MU. I’d actually learned a lot about her, my life with her, and the things that she’d instilled in my head only after I left.

My grandmother once said, of a house that she considered an eyesore, that if the owners had to look at it from the outside as often as their neighbors did, they might reconsider their choices.

I admit I don’t often think kindly of my grandmother or the wisdom she attempted to impart to me, but I think she had a point here. It was only when I’d moved some distance away from her house and could turn back and look at it that I really started to take in everything that was wrong with the place.

Metaphorically, I mean… I hadn’t actually been back to look at the place. I’d spent all my holidays and breaks on campus, with one recent memorable exception. I had no home to go back to.

If home was where the heart was, then my home was an imperial university on the plains of Prax, at least for the moment. Of course, if home was where the heart was, then I was looking forward to a future of heartbreak and a broken home.

Maybe it was ungrateful of me to complain about having multiple lovers, which was one reason I tried not to think about it. The other, larger and more pertinent reason was that it was painful. There were times where I could manage to convince myself to live in the now and not go borrowing trouble. There were times where I recognized that this was a good idea, but couldn’t quite manage it.

…ruminating on all of this wasn’t getting me any closer to figuring out how I was going to introduce myself to the class. I mean, I could just picture it:

Here’s a fun fact, guys: I have one boyfriend and, oh, yeah… like four girlfriends… or at least women I am fond of and with whom I am intermittently sexually involved, though one of them would insist that I’m her girlfriend and not the other way around, and another one things are kind of up in the air with.

There were just two people left now, and not only had I completely missed everything the guy after Grant had said, I was no closer to knowing what I was going to say.

My name is Mackenzie Blaise. Um, you’ve probably heard of me, especially if you were here last year. I got pushed into running for the student senate as a sort of demihuman advocate, but I withdrew when I realized I wasn’t actually going to make a difference that way. There was a huge protest after I was accidentally teleported into the dungeon labyrinth after I was deliberately warded inside a sickroom by a healer who was paranoid because, oh, yeah, I’m a half-demon.


Definitely not.

It wasn’t like people didn’t know I was a half-demon. More so than any on wild story that was connected to me… true or false or somewhere in between… that was what I was known for, after all. It was the only reason that anybody cared what I did in the first place.

Demons, the unholy enemies of humanity. Humanity, the dominant mortal power on the world. I was as much human as I was demon, which meant I had the same privileges under the law as humans did. What the law said and what society did weren’t always… or maybe even often… the same thing.

In theory, the sexes as recognized under imperial law had been equal for years. Did anybody think that was really the case in practice? Well… some people did, sadly. But it was pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that it wasn’t the case.

The temples preached “human blood, human soul”, but they were among the wort offenders when it came to discriminating against semi-humans even before we got into the infernal stuff.

Yeah, if people knew anything about me… or thought they did… then they would know I was a half-demon. They might imagine this meant I had wings, or horns, or claws and fangs. A lot of people thought that’s what a demon was. The truth was scarier: demons look exactly like humans.

A lot of creatures, even many intelligent folk, had a taste for human flesh. Someone more cynical than pious might suspect that a lot of other gods had it in for Khersis, the great god who first fashioned humanity in his own image. But while a few of them, like merfolk, could assume forms that were fair to human eyes, most of them were suitably monstrous by human standards. Demons had been patterned after humans, though, which meant that they, too, were made in the image of Khersis. It was a bit of blasphemy that had made them perfect hunters in the ages before the fall.

The fall was where demons went from being one more natural folk walking on the skin of the world to infernal creatures of fire, theoretically bound to a hellish lower plane. The Khersians celebrated this casting-down as one of the greatest achievements of their lord and god, even though it served to make demons immortal, nigh-invulnerable, and incredibly powerful.

I’m not immortal. I’ve been told by someone who had no reason to lie about this in particular that I might live practically forever, but I’ve also been reminded that the actual lifespan of a known half-demon in human lands can be very, very short.

I’m invulnerable to mundane harm, but not mundane hurt. If you prick me, do I not bleed? Nope, I do not, but I’ll still say “Ow, fucking quit it!” because that shit hurts. Oh, if you prick me with something magical, I will totally bleed, and if it’s imbued with elemental cold or water it might paralyze or kill me. Fire doesn’t do anything but tickle, but prick me with something that’s been sancitified and I’ll burn.

…not that I could exactly introduce myself to my new classmates by reminding the humans among them that I am descended from their ancient enemy and then giving them a litany of my weaknesses.

I mean, I could.

It would just be a monumentally bad idea.

My name is Mackenzie Blaise. I’m an applied enchantment major.

There. What more did I have to say than that? Grant had mentioned his affinity for earth and architecture, but I couldn’t exactly bring up my own elemental affinity or my enhanced magical reserves or supernatural strength without brushing right up against the topic I most wanted to avoid. So what if it came out sounding a little boring, a little mundane? Mundane was good.

I didn’t want to be interesting, did I? The new hairstyle and wardrobe I was sporting for the new semester might have argued otherwise, though, if anything, the chic pageboy cut and sleek black neo-elven minimalist jackets and pants I’d started sporting just made it less likely that anyone would recognize me as the clumsy, grungy geek who’d made embarrassing spectacles of herself all over campus for much of her freshman year.

Others were mentioning their accomplishments… but what had I accomplished? Okay, I’d had something to do, peripherally, with the fact that more non-humans on campus were rooming outside of Harlowe Hall, the designated dorm where we’d all been segregated in… but I hadn’t been trying to do that.

I’d just decided to take advantage of the full range of dorm choices that any human student would have offered to them, and picked the residence hall that had best suited my needs. Gilcrease Tower, with a private bathroom for every four-person suite, was a better choice than Harlowe Hall.

It shouldn’t have been controversial that I’d wanted to room there, and mostly it hadn’t, but enough of a fuss was made about it that a bunch of people noticed, and it became a whole thing.

I’d been a bit more actively involved in breaking down a similar housing barrier regarding elven students, but even though we’d passed some significant hurdles, that was still something of a work in progress. Also, I wasn’t sure how much the non-elven population on campus even knew about that.

I had contributed work to the magic item that everyone on campus had started using to play Stone Soldiers, but I was kind of hesitant to mention that both because I felt like I should be glancing at the contracts before saying anything about the production process and because if it came up again in conversation I would be forced to admit I didn’t actually know much about the game.

One person left. I tried to think of what Amaranth, my first girlfriend and my guide to many aspects of love and life, would have advised me to do. I knew the answer without thinking about it: tell the truth.

How, though?

What truth?

Where would I start? Where would I end?

I could maybe tell somebody the truth of my life, if they were very patient, but that sort of assumed I knew what that truth was. Even just trying to sum up some kind of essential truth of the chaotic events of my life since I’d left my grandmother’s house seemed like the sort of thing that could take me years.

What was the truth? That I was a half-demon? That I’d come to school a gigantic tangled mess of self-hate and repression, sexual and otherwise, and now I was openly bisexual… maybe lesbian-leaning, if I was honest… and starting to come around to the idea that I could be a fairly cool person?

Was the truth that I still cringed thinking about a couple of embarrassing missteps I’d made my first day on campus? Was the truth that I’d never felt so at ease or at home anywhere else as I did on campus now?

Was it that I used to be so deathly afraid that any attention would end in mockery if not violence that I would throw up if I thought too many eyes were on me, and now I’d served as the face woman for a socially anxious adolescent elven queen?

That I used to be such a klutz I… okay, I was still a klutz, but I was a klutz with semi-demonic senses and instincts that I’d been learning how to harness in tandem with elemental magic, which not only made me a halfway competent fighter but let me get up or down a fucking flight of stairs without landing on my face some of the time?

What was the truth of me?

Was it any of that? All of that? Something else?

“Next,” Professor Goldman said, and then it was on me. What was I supposed to say? What could I say?

“My name is Mackenzie Blaise,” I said. “I’m still figuring things out.”


The truth.

Tales of MU is now on Patreon! Help keep the story going!

Or if you particularly enjoyed this chapter, leave a tip!

Characters: , ,

19 Responses to “Chapter 295: Who Is Mackenzie Blaise?”

  1. tomclark says:

    If home was where the heart was, then my home was an imperial university on the plains of Prax,

    Is that anywhere near the Prairie of Prax?

    Current score: 3
  2. zeel says:

    Damn. That break did you well, this is some excellent prose.

    It’s interesting to see what is essentially a primer on all things MU, when I am in fact working my way through volume one again.

    Also, I see from the tags that Professor Goldman (thaumatology prof) is back! Every time I go back through I am reminded how much I love that character.

    In some unrelated news… I found in my trawl a link to the forum that, to my surprise, still worked. The forum was hacked, but is still semi-navigable. There I found something I have been looking for: The Timeline.

    A user named Pheonix1123 (apparently the original creator) posted the old wiki code for the timeline shortly before the forum died. In an effort to preserve such things I have made a copy of this data In This Google Doc. I don’t know if Pheonix is still around under another name, if so: Nice work.

    Current score: 8
    • That other guy says:

      Suggested edits to correct spelling. Also tried to fix formatting, but it was too confusing when in suggestion mode.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        Yes, thank you for the help. The suggestion mode thing is kinda… interesting. It’s great for keeping people from ruining things, while still permitting contribution… but when someone contributes a lot it becomes a problem. I am approving all the edits now.

        I think it’s probably best if anyone who wants to make substantial edits were to Email me (I’ll put my address in there) so I can add them as an editor.

        Current score: 0
  3. Another Greg says:

    Typo report:

    Working in tandem with other mages required both a sort of empathy and honesty that don’t come naturally to most people.

    …that doesn’t come naturally…(sorry, that one pounced)

    Great chapter “I’m still figuring things out.” 🙂

    Current score: 1
    • Toby says:

      honesty doesn’t come naturally
      empathy and honesty don’t come naturally

      plural form.

      Current score: 0
      • Another Greg says:

        She used ‘that’ after the plural…perhaps two sentences. (shrug…)

        Current score: 0
    • Brenda A. says:

      I think “didn’t” is what would agree with “required”…

      Current score: 0
  4. pedestrian says:

    Sad thing is, at my age?
    I still am trying to figure things out…people often accuse me of being very trying! But I “don’t” care.

    Current score: 2
  5. LetsSee says:

    So… I admit, what I want to know is ….

    What where her grades last semester?!?

    Current score: 6
    • Lyssa says:

      Yes! And what happened with the collar promise dangling in front of her? I seriously doubt that she got an A in Callahan’s class, but I’d still like to know if Mack and Amaranth ever sat down and talked about it, if there’s a different goal instead – anything.

      Current score: 1
      • That other guy says:

        I hope it gets swept under the rug. Imagine, announcing that you’re “owned” by someone who’s owning field can itself be bought. It’s like the dwarven shop fiasco.

        Current score: 1
  6. PrometheanSky says:

    Typo report:
    but they were among the wort offenders

    Unless the church has a heretofore unrevealed issue with fermented barley…

    Current score: 3
  7. Zathras IX says:

    “My name is Mackenzie
    Blaise. I’m still figuring things
    Out. Prepare to fry!”

    Current score: 5
    • That other guy says:

      You can’t split a thought over multiple lines like that. Try:
      I’m Mackenzie Blaise,
      I’m still figuring things out.
      Who has my pitchfork?

      Current score: 3
      • Silverai says:

        I think Zathras IX was attempting to riff off The Princess Bride’s lines for Inigo Montoya.

        Current score: 4
  8. Iain says:

    Oh, Zathras Eye Ex.
    No matter what changes here
    You’re the one constant.

    Current score: 5
  9. Brenda A. says:

    This is such a great way to introduce new readers to the general timeline of events thus far! And that closing line was just perfect.

    Current score: 1
  10. […] but always for internal reasons. Here I’m going to have a mixture of internal and external. The current book is already intended to be a good jumping-on point for new readers, so I’ll also point it out […]

    Current score: 0