448: Playing With Fire

on June 25, 2010 in Book 16

In Which Mackenzie Shoots The Breeze

The first thing I did after dinner was retrieve the stickfighting book I’d dealt with so dismissively before. I intended to give it a more attentive look, but it wasn’t even a full minute after I sat down that I realized I was flipping pages and looking at paragraphs with very little sinking in.

I was reading it the same way that I read the less interesting parts of a story: skimming through it for anything that jumped out as important or interesting while waiting for the good parts. The problem was that very little of it looked interesting to me, I didn’t know what was important, and there probably wasn’t going to be anything that struck me as a good part. I was twenty-three pages in and I knew the basics: that I was reading a book about fighting with a big stick, and that it talked about grips and stances and things.

When I thought back on the adventure stories I’d read, I realized that it was mainly the fight scenes… at least the ones that went on for page after page and described each blow in every exchange in excruciating detail… that I tended to skip over. I knew which characters were fighting each other and it was usually apparent who was going to win… or if not, it wasn’t too confusing to come out of a fugue and find that the guards were holding the now-disarmed hero at weaponpoint or that another character had burst onto the scene and changed the course of the battle.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care about the fight scenes… they were part of the story, and their outcomes would change the course of the story. But that being the case, it was the outcome that interested me the most, and trying to visualize the positions of the combatants and what they were doing with their weapons usually left me feeling like I was missing way more than I did by not paying attention.

On the other hand, I’d been far less bothered by fight scenes in television shows… it was much easier to be impressed and carried along by watching someone do something flashy with a couple swords or cleverly shaped gouts of flame or energy than it was reading about it in detail that bordered on an instruction manual. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any imagination… I just didn’t have an imagination that was good at following directions. In fact, when I thought about it more, I realized that I was much less likely to zone out through fight scenes that used broader language. Short, snappy descriptions like three quick cuts or a clever feint gave me something I could envision without slowing the scene down, as opposed to a mountain of detail about grips and angles and reversals and whatever.

All of this made the book hard going for me. It wasn’t enough to know that I needed quick, skillful strikes and clever feints and deft parries to win a fight. I needed to understand the boring details, and I needed to be able to run through them in much less time than it took to write about them in a tedious fight scene.

I decided to try a different approach. The book had diagrams and illustrations. Some of them were still, some were animated. Now that I’d actually spent some time holding a staff in my hand, swinging it around and blocking with it… feeling things out… it was a lot easier to relate to them.

I flipped back to the first chapter. The introduction was a handful of paragraphs talking about history and tradition, about how old and widespread a weapon short staves or sticks were… not too surprising, since picking up part of a tree and hitting someone with it wasn’t exactly a huge leap for people who wanted to extend their thwacking power.

Right below that were a pair of pictures showing either a boyish woman or a slightly feminine guy in padded clothes holding a staff. It looked like the fighter was holding the same weapon in both pictures, but one was captioned Quarter-Staff Grip and Half-Staff Grip.

I’d always thought of “quarterstaff” as a type of staff, but as the paragraph below that explained, it was actually a body of techniques that revolved around how you held the staff. The way I’d held the staff under the coaching of its defensive enchantments was evidently the half-staff technique: about half of the staff was between your hands, balanced around the halfway point of its length. Quarter-staffing meant keeping about a fourth of the staff between your hands, and holding it nearer to the end.

The book made it clear that the half grip had supplanted the traditional quarterstaff grip while the name lingered on in public consciousness, so that most of the non-professional and fictional/dramatized staff fighting used the half-staff techniques while referring to the weapon as a quarterstaff. Though I’d found the quarter one way more useful, the book stopped short of saying that either one was better than the other:

“Neither school is deprecated by a true master, who recognizes the varying strengths of both the quarter-staff grip and its longer striking range and the half-staff grip’s ability to fight in tight quarters. For the sake of clarity and to encourage fluidity in switching between them, this manual shall use the terms ‘quarter-grip’ and ‘half-grip’ to refer to the arrangements of the hands.”

Below that was another illustration, showing the padded fighter shifting between the two grips.

Okay… so I hadn’t learned anything new about fighting, but I had some sort of interesting background and a sort of point of reference between what I’d experienced playing around with grips and what I was reading. That was sort of progress.

Chapter two was about the basics of the half-grip. It started with blocks, which it called “guards”… I found my eyes sliding off the descriptions, but looking at the illustrations I found that the basic guards were exactly that: basic. They were the things that the enchanted staff had been doing pretty much on its own, and they weren’t that hard to figure out if you just held a staff out in front of in the half grip while someone swung something at you.

The book showed the stickfighter warding attacks using the ends of the staff as well as the middle portion… that this hadn’t come up so much during my time in the temple of pain probably said something about how limited the defensive enchantment was in scope and something about how limited Gloria’s offensive skill was in scope. She’d mostly stuck to well-advertised frontal attacks, which the half-staff could pretty much be a wall against.

The basic strikes were equally basic, but just looking at them I knew I needed a lot more work in that area. Trying to lash out with the ends of the staff while holding it in the half-grip had felt horribly awkward to me. It wasn’t too different from blocking with the ends, something I’d need to work on in case I ever fought someone more creative than Gloria… or Gloria got creative.

I spent a few seconds trying to envision myself holding the staff in my hands before I went and got it. It didn’t even take a few seconds of envisioning myself swinging it around in the room before I realized that it would be a bad idea. It was taller than I was, the room wasn’t that large, and I wasn’t that graceful. If I didn’t whack one end into the bed, I’d probably hit the other one into Two, who was working quietly at her desk.

What was the alternative? The only space in the dorm big enough was the downstairs lounge, and I really didn’t want to humiliate myself in front of whoever was on front desk duty and anyone who was hanging out. Brandishing a weapon outside at night seemed ill-advised, even ignoring how cold it would be. There were labs available for our use on the first floor… most of them weren’t bigger than a dorm room but they were empty, now that the imperials had moved their investigation out of them.

I felt a somewhat Two-ish aversion to taking weapon practice into a space meant for spell work, though I couldn’t really see a way around that. Well, it would be handy to be able to practice my fire-throwing technique a little before trying to craft a spell out of it, and I couldn’t do that in my room, either. I’d just take the staff down with me while I went down to do my elemental invocation homework, and while I was down there I’d try out a few staff strikes and guards.

“I’m going down to use a spell lab,” I told Two, rifling through my backpack for the hastily scribbled version of my flame jet spell.

“Okay,” she said. She glanced up from her own homework so she could look at me when she said that. “The spell labs aren’t for weapons practice,” she said.

“I know,” I said. “But neither are dorm rooms. I’m really going down to work on a fire spell. There’s nothing wrong with taking the staff down with me and swinging it around a bit while I’m in there, is there?”

Two thought about it.

“No,” she said. “I guess not. Most students carry their weapons with them everywhere. And I’d rather you did that downstairs than in here.”

“Yeah, that’s what I figured, too,” I said.

I was glad that I didn’t have to carry a weapon any more, as the staff was long and awkward. It was kind of surprising that I fell down the stairs with it less often than I did without it, but that was probably only because I became really intensely aware of where my arms and legs were and where it was. Holding the thing like a walking stick or a wizard’s staff seemed to be the best way to carry it… or at least the way that was least likely to involve dinging it into the walls and/or myself, but it was too tall for that to be completely comfortable. If I couldn’t get a staff that shrunk away completely for my personal weapon, then one that could be shortened at least a little would be a good thing.

Thinking about that, I realized that it already was a foot or two shorter than what was being called a “short staff” in the manual… that could explain why I was having such a hard time lashing out with the ends in the half-grip. A full-length one would be easier to use but harder to carry around… that made some sort of size-changing feature all the more appealing. Once again I envied Amaranth’s abilities when it came to personal inventory management.

The lab room had a small folding lectern in it that had been pushed to one corner. I dragged it to the middle of the room and propped the stickfighting book open on it so that I could look at the images with the staff in my hands. I mimicked the moves as best as I could, walking my way through them slowly and then more quickly. It went okay when I was doing the guards, but as soon as I tried the offensive moves I ran into problems.

First there was the fact that the staff’s enchantments, which had been pulling me along through the guards, was no longer leading. It wasn’t exactly resisting my movements, but the difference was striking, no ironic pun intended.

Second, the length of the staff was definitely an issue. I’d need to get a longer staff before Callahan’s class reconvened if I was really going to learn to fight like this. For that learning to have any practical value in the long term, I’d need to get a size-changing one that I could carry around, but that could wait if it wasn’t practical.

Despite the relationship to my field of study, I had very little idea of the typical cost and availability of weapon enchantments. I figured that extending/retracting spells had to be a pretty common gimmick for staves, but changing the size and shape of a thing was trickier than altering less tangible qualities. The only way to know what the market was like would be to go looking. I knew that there was at least one weapon shop in town that catered to students (and thus, I could assume, to their budgets), but I figured I’d try scrying the weave first just in case their business model depended on the intersection of the school’s requirements and parents’ wallets.

In the meantime I’d keep focusing on the quarter-grip. It seemed to take advantage of my strength better than the half-grip could, anyway. I flipped to the next chapter and worked through the strikes and guards that it showed. I was interested to see that in addition to thrusts and swings, they detailed something called pulls, which basically consisted of swinging the staff back around to hit someone after you missed. They were a little awkward, but seemed like a better alternative to being pulled off-balance and flailing around after an errant attack.

After going through each of the techniques illustrated, I went back and practiced some of the guards over and over again, trying to imagine a sword or axe coming at me. I wasn’t sure how much benefit I was getting from the exercise, but it seemed like a few minutes every night in between my melee classes would at least help the movements become familiar enough to reach for when I needed them.

Maybe I was half-assing things a bit again by putting the staff down after maybe fifteen or twenty minutes of hefting it and moving it around, but I didn’t think I was going to become a master stickfighter in room by myself. A lot of what the first few sections covered was just going back over what I’d managed to work out for myself, only codified and formalized. I wasn’t groping around, I was copying the graceful movements of the fighter in the book. It was progress. I wasn’t going to turn into the fighter in the book by standing in a room by myself, but I’d inch a bit closer and be in a better position when next Tuesday came around.

Even after I decided to put the staff down, though, I found myself holding on to it, giving it a few more swings. I stopped short of trying to twirl it like a baton… since it was a magic weapon, that seemed like a good way to give myself a painful welt or worse.

Stranger still, I found that I felt good about it… good about holding it in my hands, good about feeling its weight, good about the way it moved when I moved. It wasn’t like the way I felt when my pitchfork was with me, or even the natural feeling I got when I held the staff in the half-grip and blocked with it. It was just… good.

I kept the staff in one hand while I put the paper with my fire spell notes on it on the lectern and looked over it, remembering how it had worked: tease the fire out, and then using the same sort of invocation, draw it along to a point further along. I found myself playing with the staff again while I followed through my notes. The spell I’d written down looked like it should work, but it was every bit as sloppy as the circumstances of its writing would have suggested. It could be both streamlined and improved in strength with only a little thinking.

I also realized that in following Professor Bohd’s instructions, I’d overlooked one of my strengths. For purposes of the assignment I needed to work out a spell to pull fire out of the proverbial thin air… or from myself… and send it zapping along. With a standing source of fire that wasn’t necessary. Most people would need to learn how to do it from scratch because you couldn’t count on having an open flame around when you needed it. But I could “invoke” my own fire without a spell or even much concentration. I could just ignite a hand with a thought and use that.

I was holding a magic staff covered with defensive enchantments… full demon fire could melt enchanted swords and burn enchanted wood, but I was a native of the wrong plane to have that much infernal bite behind my flame. I tried lighting my hands, ready to drop the staff if it caught or smoldered but nothing happened.

Well, that was something I couldn’t do in melee class but it would certainly make for an interesting option in a real fight, if I couldn’t avoid it. I held the staff in the quarter-grip and swung it through the air a few times, watching the flame move as I did. What would that look like to an opponent? I leveled the staff in front of me and drew the fire from both of my hands forward along the shaft. Flame lanced out in front of me, splashing against the brick wall. It didn’t take much effort to sustain it, so I played around with it a bit, moving the stream around. It wasn’t necessary to move the staff to redirect the fire, but it made it easier, giving me something to focus the pull on.

Just like a flamethrower, I thought, then shook that childish thought away. I switched to the half-staff grip. I could throw fire from both hands separately, though it was a bit harder to aim in two different directions. I wasn’t sure if having actual targets would make that easier or harder, but it was something to think about.

There was more than one person in the world that didn’t like me, after all.

I realized that I’d gone from spacing out every time I tried to focus on fighting to focusing on a weapon when I was working on my actual academic subjects. Bohd might have been impressed with what I was doing, but it didn’t fulfill the assignment and that aside, the real purpose of the elemental projection assignment, my renewed… or just plain newed… interest in melee fighting… and my experiments in combining the two was to defend myself, not have something cool to show off in class.

Especially since there wasn’t any one class that I could throw around both a staff and fire in. I’d have to just hope that Callahan would be impressed by the fact that I actually made it through a whole week without losing the focus I’d shown her today, and that Bohd would be impressed with what I came up with when I actually took the time to think through what I was doing.

With some reluctance I put the staff down and got to work on the full spell. I based it on what I’d been doing when I was projecting from my extant flame… I wanted to turn in something elegant and workable, but it didn’t make any sense to be working two completely different techniques in case I needed to do one or the other when it counted. Even if producing flame and then lashing out with it was easier, doing it from nothing could still be faster.

It was like the two different staff grips… they each had their uses.

I couldn’t help playing around a bit more, and I found I could make the fire twist in a spiral by moving my focus around a bit. This was more effort and was definitely showing off, but after some experiments involving spots on the wall I found it actually had some advantages for hitting what I was aiming at more than a couple feet away. Not when I was doing it “by hand”, but once I had the spell fixed in my head and wasn’t having to think about the rotation it was easier to direct it.

It was a combination of things. One was the fact that the spell was continually changing directions… it only took a small adjustment to twist it off to the side or make a small adjustment. Another was the fact that the spout was wider, rather than being a single stream. Then there was simply the fact that more sophisticated spells often benefited in some way or another from their sophistication. It was one of the less predictable exploitable facets of spellcraft. Sometimes you tried to get fancy and you got a little bonus from it. I hadn’t had it in mind when I started playing around, and I resisted the temptation to try pushing it further.

Magic could be generous, but it could also be persnickety.

I wrote the spell up in two different forms, the plain flame jet and the spiral version. After a few moments of idle thought, I shifted the focus of the spell and tried doing it with air. I only needed the second part of the spell… there was air right there, all the time. I felt the gust of wind… I felt it in my “grasp” as I yanked it out ahead of me but I also felt the air in the room moving… and saw the papers on the lectern rustling.

I thought about blasting the lectern with a wind gust, but decided against it. The room was shielded from harm but I didn’t figure that it was. Instead I aimed for the staff lying on the floor. It went clattering across the floor. I rattled the closed door.

I wrote the wind gust spell down on the paper, too. We’d been given an extra two days to write the spell up, and that had mostly been to my benefit… both insofar as Bohd had revealed herself as a demonblood to help me and insofar as I’d needed the extra time. It seemed that I might as well have something to show for it.

Looking at the timepiece on the wall, I realized I’d spent more than an hour in the lab… almost an hour and a half. I hadn’t expected to spend much time on either the spell write-up or the staff work. The heavy lifting on the elemental invocation assignment had already been done in class and I’d spent an hour and a half actually fighting with the staff that afternoon. How much time had I spent playing flamethrower? Making twirly fire jets?

It wasn’t that I had nothing to show for it, but I’d planned on spending a lot more time on my local history project.

I supposed that even if it was more interesting to me than stickfighting, the history assignment would be less useful in the long run than any of the things I’d done. I wasn’t going to impress Hart no matter how well I did because he didn’t care about local history. The only reason he was doing a local history day was because he had to, and the only reason he’d given the assignment to me was because I’d pissed him off about it. Unless I could find some way of tying the history of Prax around the time of Magisterion’s War into Magisterion’s War, he probably wouldn’t do anything more than snark.

On the other hand… maybe there was a way to do that. What had the human inhabitants of Prax thought of the colonies to the east? Of the revolution? The human presence in Prax had originally been Merovian… Merovia had ceded its interest in the region by the time of the war, which took away some obvious connections, but there were still some things I could possibly work with. The Merovians still controlled the ports to the south at that time, and the Praxians would have traded with them.

Maybe I wouldn’t be able to find anything. Hart had certainly acted like nothing that had happened in this region had anything to do with events back east, and there was certainly a lot of unexplored… or at least not-human-explored… space on the old maps between the colonies and Prax. But maybe he’d been dismissive because he resented having the local history requirement forced upon him… and maybe he’d appreciate having a way to deal with it in the future without having to deviate completely from his own lesson plan.

My mind was full of ideas as I headed upstairs. I tripped myself up on the stairs twice, and that was before I realized that I’d left the staff back down in the lab and went back for it. By the time I got back to my room, I was ready to spend another hour or two on history. Luckily Two was still up and working at her desk.

“Hi, Two,” I said.

“Hi, Mack,” she said.

“Do you think you’re going to be awake for much longer?” I said. “I’ve got some history work I’d like to do, but I could take it to the lounge.”

“I have more studying to do,” Two said. “And I don’t think I could sleep, with your mirror going off so much.”

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40 Responses to “448: Playing With Fire”

  1. Chloe says:

    Oh my, that’s not a good sign.

    Current score: 0
  2. zebra says:

    awesome update, Ms.Erin. I miss the weeks of multiple updates but the story is better for you being rested. Many thanks, zebra

    Current score: 0
  3. Sapphite says:

    Hilarious ending (and “Next”)! I want that Twirly Fire Jets of Doom spell.

    Current score: 0
  4. Jbluphin says:

    Nice to see Mackenzie actually thinking about school work. Not surprising she’s still terrible about her phone….
    I was waiting all day for this – I’m not at all disappointed, but now am craving another fix, please!!!

    Current score: 1
  5. Niall says:

    awesome! Mack’s really been pulling herself together and facing the world it seems, she certainly has come a long way. This historical stuff gets me especially interested, a shame as it doesn’t seem to be a large focus of the story. I don’t know enough about American history to know weather the magesterian war you mentioned has any kind of parallel in our dimention. War in Mack’s universe must be completely different, for instance there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a magical atom bomb so WWII and the cold war would have been completely different just to start.

    Current score: 1
    • Arakano says:

      The Magesterian War (sp?) roughly equals the American War of Independence. Merovia would roughly equal France, btw, I suppose, but in this world it does not seem like it got involved as much in the fighting [Merovingans were an early medieval dynasty of France].

      Current score: 1
  6. Zathras IX says:

    Mackenzie’s reach may
    Exceed her grasp until she
    Comes to grips with grips

    Current score: 2
  7. Pinkieh says:

    I love how Mack’s actually getting *interested* in her fighting course. Too bad she isn’t nearly as interested as keeping track of her calls. (=P) Great update as usual, AE.

    Current score: 0
  8. Anders says:

    I was waiting all day for this – I’m not at all disappointed, but now am craving another fix, please!!! [x2]

    Current score: 0
  9. Greenwood Goat says:

    It’s only been an hour and a half, it’s the end of the working day, it should be fine. What I want to know, is what a flamethrower looks like in the WoMU. Perhaps there is more than one sort: mundane, arcane and divine, perhaps?

    Current score: 0
    • Helen Rees says:

      As I understand it, she dismisses flamethrowers as childish because they’re a ‘scientific artefact’ seen only in children’s cartoons.

      Or were you wondering what they’ll look like when she patents them?


      Current score: 1
      • Brenda says:

        I agree – we’ve only seen the word “flamethrower” in reference to MechKnights, I believe.

        Current score: 0
  10. Andra says:

    “…wasn’t exactly a huge leap for people who wanted to extend their thwacking power.” Made me smile. Please do continue!

    Current score: 1
  11. Zergonapal says:

    Ha! Extending her flame out both ends of the staff certainly fixes the staff shortness, now all she needs to do is get some red and black face paint and she could be Darth Blaise 😛

    Current score: 2
  12. blue_x says:

    I’ve noticed the last couple updates have come in pairs, and that you haven’t been doing as many Fantasy in Miniature pieces lately. Have you changed your writing technique again? Or is it just the way things pan out when you’re traveling so much? This is in no way meant as a criticism or complaint, purely professional curiosity.

    I’ve really enjoyed the last few updates. In some ways it reminds me of the inverse of the demonic-possession/pitchfork storyline, where Mack’s whole demeanor, how people respond to her, and how she thinks things through seem to be affected… but in this case, in a divine way instead of demonic. Given recent events, it could just be character development, but I’m still working on the theory that something is going on to give that development a “boost.” I really need to reread all the recent chapters to get more of a sense – with updates so erratic for a while and my life equally crazy, it’s hard to tell how smooth or abrupt the transition was, so hard to theorize whether it’s meant to be suspicious.

    Part of me is wondering whether Mack-Daddy held to his promise to leave her alone if she dumped Gloria on her ass, and part of what we saw (especially right after the fight) is from that.

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      from what I understood of Mack Daddy’s promise, it was that she was earning opportunities to tell him to leave her alone. He’s willing to give her twenty-four hours without his interference for each time she knocks someone on their ass, but she has to ask for it first.

      Actually, come to think of it, he may even be depending on her NOT using her “daddy-free day” credits. If Mack’s smart, she’ll think carefully about when she tells him to shove off. If she just thinks she’s smart, she’ll decide to save them when she really should be spending them, because what if she needs them later?

      Current score: 0
  13. C8H9NO2 says:

    I wonder about Mackenzie’s apparent natural affinity to the staff, or at least weapons of similar kind. Is it a demon thing, a half-demon thing, or just a personal thing? Also fun to see her getting caught up in something she *intellectually* doesn’t find interesting, but still has a hard time focusing on other things. Maybe the “disinterest” in fighting scenes and theory is because of her over all reasons for not wanting to or actually fighting herself, not because of a genuine lack of interest. She’s not been interested in it because she haven’t been able to let herself be caught up playing at it, because a demonblood hurting somebody else by mistake or in play is soon a dead demonblood. She seems to have taken to the offensive uses of spellcrafting, too.

    Wonder when she’ll be far enough along to make her own enchanted staff, maybe with an affinity to fire that permits it to not burn but propagate the fire, with the whaminess she used against Gloria, with a shrinking enchantment for carrying along, maybe with some general wizards-staff-like properties like enhancing spell casting and focus.

    Current score: 1
    • Zergonapal says:

      She could call it the Flaming Staff of Fire.

      Current score: 2
      • Potatohead says:

        And then get her own short-lived adventure show on the Crystal Ball Comedy Channel.

        Current score: 2
    • green 42 says:

      Yes, I think that Mac needs a real staff. One point to remember is that staffs are made out of wood only because a thin metal staff would dent/bend and a thick metal staff would be too heavy for a human to use. Also, sometimes a staff is thought of/referred to as a two headed spear.

      Given her strength, she has lots of options. A heavy iron bar enchanted to tend to shatter whatever it strikes/blocks would be interesting. But, as always, the question is how will she use them.

      Of course, what she really needs is to develop the mental fortitude and willpower to control that damn pitchfork.

      Current score: 0
    • Wysteria says:

      My theory on her combat affinity: as her dad says, she spends a lot fo time and energy repressing her violent side. Staff work is something both the human and demon halves can enjoy and be good at. The human half doesn’t have to worry about really hurting anyone, and the demon half can be happy about not dying and getting to hit things with sticks.

      Generally, Mackenzie’s desires are so conflicted as to be paralyzing, as we saw in the minty bath foam incident. Here, Mackenzie can be united! Woo.

      Current score: 1
    • Les says:

      I get the immpression most of Mack’s aversion to fighting is less about pacifism or about being intellectually above violence, than it is that fighting is in her mind associated with ‘Jock Things’. She’s a Nerd and enjoys ‘Nerd-Things’ and thus should naturally be at war with ‘Jock Things’, she’s still just learning to crawl out of the High School Paradigm.

      Current score: 1
  14. Havartna says:

    It’s great to see Mack finally working with her natural gifts (?) and thinking things through regarding the staff. I’m wondering how long it will take her to figure out that Steff would be a willing sparring partner outside of class, although I’m assuming that Amy would insist on being around to administer healing as necessary. For that matter, Ian would probably be glad for the opportunity to mix things up with Mack in a melee context, again with Amy providing a safety net.

    Also, I wonder if utilizing the spiraling fire pyrotechnics as a distraction would be outside of the rules of melee class… it would probably shake Gloria up for a millisecond or two and give Mack an opening.

    What I’m really hoping for is for Mack to go shopping and find a good, solid pitchfork or trident that isn’t possessed by any alien entity. She’s shown an affinity for that sort of weapon, and she needs every advantage she can get. Her talent for enchantment should come in handy, and I’m thinking that with her natural creativity she can arrange some very interesting and surprising enchantments.

    I’m glad the updates are coming with some regularity, and the story is moving in an interesting direction. Could we ACTUALLY be seeing some personal growth from Mack? Maybe her head isn’t as thick as we once thought 🙂

    Current score: 0
    • Zergonapal says:

      If she could shrink and glamor the weapon to look like a normal dinner fork and then with a twirl and a fiery spiral effect enlarge it into a pitchfork that is on fire, that would be super cool 😀

      Current score: 2
    • Brenda says:

      She doesn’t need something else shouting out “Look, I’m a Demon!” But a spearpoint or other blade would probably be effective. She’d have to learn all new techniques, though…

      Current score: 1
  15. Yay! Martial nerdery AND thaumaturgical nerdy! Two great tastes that taste great together!

    Reminds me of my character Marcus from our Nain game- it’s sort of a grade-school version of MU, maybe crossed with HP (everyone gets a wand). He’s interested in both martial arts AND magic, so he’s been secretly practicing incorporating spells into his sword forms (against the warnings of teachers on both sides).

    Current score: 1
  16. I need a cool name says:

    Now if she could take the twirly fire and air and twirly them together so that the fire feeds off the air…….Kinda like a blowtorch.

    Current score: 2
    • Wysteria says:

      I’m looking forward to the spinning fire shield of doom. Woo, defensive spells.

      Current score: 2
  17. Helen Rees says:

    typo alert

    ‘held a staff out in front of in the half’ looks like it’s missing a pronoun.

    Current score: 0
  18. Helen Rees says:

    typo alert

    ‘master stickfighter in room by myself’ looks like its missing an indefinite article.

    Current score: 0
  19. Eastie says:

    Loved it, for some reason I prefer the updates involving her school work to anything else. More please!

    Current score: 1
  20. Marx says:

    Two should’ve actually taken the cellphone down to Mack as soon as she noticed the persistence of the caller.

    Anyways, very cool chapter, with all the “Twirly flame jets of doom” or whatev.

    Current score: 1
    • Erianaiel says:

      I think Two could do no such thing without first being told in no uncertain terms that it is ok to do so.
      Right now it is Mackenzie’s mirror so Two can not answer it, and it is Mackenzie’s mirror so Two can not pick it up, as it is not hers.

      Current score: 1
      • Ducky says:

        She wouldn’t have picked up the phone and taken it, but she could have gone down and said, “Mack, your mirror has been buzzing for the last *insert time here*. I think it’s Lee.”

        Current score: 1
  21. steve says:

    Nice work, as always. A possible thought for the staff, if Mack had it magically break in half, and then the two halves magnet-like stick together, it becomes much more portable without having to lose its physical properties of length or weight. (Or if she upgrades to a longer staff, have it split in 3)

    Current score: 1
  22. LlubNek says:

    “They were the things that the enchanted staff had been doing pretty much on its own, and they weren’t that hard to figure out if you just held a staff out in front of in the half grip while someone swung something at you. ”

    missing a “you” I think

    “They were the things that the enchanted staff had been doing pretty much on its own, and they weren’t that hard to figure out if you just held a staff out in front of you in the half grip while someone swung something at you. ”

    “Maybe I was half-assing things a bit again by putting the staff down after maybe fifteen or twenty minutes of hefting it and moving it around, but I didn’t think I was going to become a master stickfighter in room by myself.”

    missing an “a”

    “Maybe I was half-assing things a bit again by putting the staff down after maybe fifteen or twenty minutes of hefting it and moving it around, but I didn’t think I was going to become a master stickfighter in a room by myself.”

    “Bohd might have been impressed with what I was doing, but it didn’t fulfill the assignment and that aside, the real purpose of the elemental projection assignment, my renewed… or just plain newed… interest in melee fighting… and my experiments in combining the two was to defend myself, not have something cool to show off in class.”

    missing a comma

    “Bohd might have been impressed with what I was doing, but it didn’t fulfill the assignment, and that aside, the real purpose of the elemental projection assignment, my renewed… or just plain newed… interest in melee fighting… and my experiments in combining the two was to defend myself, not have something cool to show off in class.”

    also, odd phrasing. Maybe this instead:

    “Bohd might have been impressed with what I was doing, but it didn’t fulfill the assignment, and aside from that, my renewed… or just plain newed… interest in melee fighting and my experiments in combining the two were to defend myself, not have something cool to show off in class.”

    Current score: 0
  23. Heh, go Mack and her interest in fighting! Or, not, since now people will think she’s MORE dangerous…Geh. Something tells me that there’s going to be some pain for Mack involving her staff and Gloria soon…!

    And I’m not sure I want to know – well, I lied, I totally do – about who’s been calling Mack?

    Current score: 0
    • tjhairball says:

      Do you really have to ask who’s been calling Mack? I will not be the only person surprised if Lee hasn’t called her. She left him a message in #447, and he is, if I’m not greatly mistaken, also the person she talks with by mirror most often. He may not be the only person that has called, of course…

      Current score: 0
      • Erianaiel says:

        Not to mention that he gave her that mirror for the express purpose so she could talk to him (and had it fixed so that nobody else could contact her without first going through his office).
        He probably realised three seconds into their first interview that letting Mackenzie speak with anybody was a legal disaster waiting to happen.
        Of course either Mackenzie’s demonic possession or her father had fried the Wall of Fire and its protection, leaving her open to being hounded by journalists and I am not entirely certain if the new mirror she got had the same restrictions placed on it. Still, unless something happened off camera that put Mackenzie back in the zoomlenses of the paperazzi, the list of people being able to contact Mackenzie through that particular mirror is rather short and Lee is at the top of the list.

        Current score: 2
  24. Sher says:

    I want more chapters like this! This is getting so good!

    Current score: 0