449: Muted Calls

on July 1, 2010 in Book 16

In Which Mackenzie Is Silenced

Asking Two why she hadn’t told me about the mirror would be fruitless, I quickly realized. The answer might be as simple as the fact that no one had told her to or as complicated as a series of conflicting priorities regarding her desire to be helpful, to not disturb me when she knew I was doing homework, and… probably coming in near the bottom of the bile… her own desire not to be disturbed. I felt a double flush of guilt for having left my mirror in my coat pocket while I went downstairs.

“Sorry, Two,” I said.

“That’s okay, I forgive you,” she said.

“I’m going to have to apologize again,” I said as I got the mirror out. “I’m going to need to some privacy… it’s, you know, legal stuff.”

“I know,” Two said. “And it’s okay, I’m going to have to forgive you again.”

I couldn’t tell if she was rolling her eyes at me, or if that was just a side-effect of the cogitation needed to forgive me in the future for an apology I hadn’t yet issued.

“Thank you, Two,” I said. “You’re a great roommate.”

“You’re welcome,” she said. “And you’re a great little sister.”

I didn’t argue our relative positions… under the circumstances, I couldn’t really hope for a better compliment. I just waited patiently while she gathered up her things and then returned her parting “bye” as she left. Once the door was closed and locked, I opened the mirror. The was a series of short echoes of Lee telling me to reflect him back, which I did after the third one with no other information or instructions.

He answered almost immediately.

“Hello, Mackenzie?” he said. “Is Amaranth with you?”

“No,” I said. “That’s… it’s actually my information she was talking about. She just had this idea about shielding me…”

“Hold on,” Lee said. “Where are you?”

“My dorm room,” I said. “I’m alone.”

“Not good enough,” Lee said. “Those walls aren’t exactly the strongest proof against human ears, and you no doubt have friends who could make out every word we say without trying.”

He had a point. It was very unlikely that Dee was in her room, but when she was she knew everything that happened in ours. The Leightons, on the other side, only had normal human hearing but would be the most likely to use whatever they heard maliciously. Below me was Gladys and a gorgon. I had no idea what race Gladys was or what kind of hearing gorgons had, but it didn’t seem impossible that they’d be good at picking out sound coming through solid objects.

“Should I go somewhere else?” I asked. I wasn’t sure where on campus privacy would be assured. Plus, going out alone after dark while having information about the possible identity of the person who’d already killed one student inside the “safe” areas seemed like it was tempting fate even if I didn’t know that both of the potential killers were interested in me as a victim.

“No, just hold on a second,” he said. He fiddled with something or made a gesture outside the frame, and suddenly purple twinkly powder exploded out of the compact, suspending in the air about a foot out from me in every direction. My cry of surprise seemed both muted and unusually echoey. “Small-area silence spell,” he said. “It’s centered on you, not the mirror, so don’t hold me too far out.”

“Whoa… how do I make it do this?” I asked.

“You don’t,” Lee said. “There are legal controls on this kind of enchantment. That, and the charges can add up really quickly.”

That made sense. Something like the sound-dampening drapery in Viktor’s room could be done by permanently altering the properties of the cloth, but this required a fairly sophisticated spell to be stored and cast on demand. It could get new charges over the ether, but that would either be slow and gradual or require a wizard somewhere to be pushing hard.

“So, I’ve talked to you from my dorm room before,” I said. “How come you’ve never used this before?”

“Because the stakes are higher,” Lee said. “Secret information in an imperial investigation… I got the impression you wanted it to stay secret. Mackenzie, the first thing I have to ask… is this new information, or something you didn’t tell me before?”

“It’s… old information that’s only been put into context today,” I said. “By the teeth molds they released to the press. I’ve seen them before. Those teeth.”

He didn’t say anything for a bit. His face was a stone mask. I wasn’t sure if he was thinking about what I’d said, or about what he was going to say in response.

“How sure are you of this?” he asked me.

“Very sure,” I said. I tried and failed to repress a shudder at the memory of the sight of the mermaids’ teeth, a shiver at the memory of the feeling of Feejee’s teeth on me.

“You’ve seen the exact teeth that were used in the slaying?”

“Well… no, I mean I’ve seen teeth like those,” I said. “I’m sure that I can identify the race of the killer, from the teeth.”

“And where did you see these teeth?”

“Here,” I said. “In Harlowe Hall.”

He pursed his lips.

“Mackenzie… you realize that things could get uncomfortable for you, if you implicate another student in your residence hall,” he said. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t come forward. But that’s something you’ll have to think about… well, I’m sure it’s occurred to you.”

“I hadn’t actually been thinking about that,” I said. “I was more concerned with what the human population would think of me… students and the authorities.”

“You didn’t participate in anything…?”

“Lee, I know these teeth because I was on the receiving end of them,” I said. “Harmlessly, unlike Leda. It was… it was more like a game.”

“Did you have any specific knowledge that this person would attack another, more vulnerable student?”

“No!” I said.

“Any reason to believe he… she… would do so?”

“I just told you…”

“It’s a different question, Mackenzie,” Lee said. “And I want you to think about it and answer honestly.”

“Okay, first of all… there are two of them in the dorm,” I said. “I don’t know which of them might have killed Leda or if both of them were in on it. The one I… was involved with… I didn’t think was any danger. Much danger.”

“That’s not exactly an ideal place to stand, but merely thinking someone might be dangerous doesn’t carry any obligation to act,” Lee said. “Mackenzie, let’s stop beating around the bush. What do you want to do here? Come forward?”

“I want to make sure the investigators have all the information they need to solve the murder,” I said. “Not like ‘I think so-and-so did it’, but just about who… I mean what race… has teeth like that.”

“And who does?”


I waited for him to laugh, or scoff, or argue.

“I was under the impression they had human-like teeth,” was all he said.

“It’s a disguise… like camouflage, or a lure,” I said. “They can look human… very human… but they can change.”

“I’m familiar with their transformations, ah, below the waist,” Lee said. “But…”

“They can do that all over,” I said. “And to different degrees. You know how they can split their tail into scaly legs, and then make the legs go… skinny?”


“More like skin,” I said.

“I did not know that, in fact,” Lee said. “You mean they lose their scales?”

“Yes,” I said. “And any time you see one looking… well, like you expect a mermaid to look… that means they’ve done something like that up top.”

“And you’ve seen this?”

“Up close and personal,” I said. “They look like humans so they’ll seem harmless or friendly or attractive, but in the ocean they hunt us. Humans, I mean. It’s like religious for them. Anyone in the water is fair game. They’re not supposed to hunt on land, but Leda… she was in the fountain.”

“Why aren’t there any reports?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe there are but they’re just chalked up to random sea monsters, since they don’t look like merfolk when they do it. Maybe they don’t leave enough survivors? I don’t know… I’ve seen them, Lee. They’ve talked to me about it. Feejee… that’s her name… she’s so… almost… she’s naive. That’s the only word for it.”

“You know that even if she wasn’t involved in Leda’s death, things could get bad for your friend if this comes out?” Lee said. “It would be like… like if you had shown up passing as human and then found yourself suddenly exposed after becoming a part of campus life.”

That had been more or less my plan, minus the exposure part. Don’t be exposed as a half-demon wasn’t all that great, as far as plans went. It was probably a good thing I’d been outted my very first weekend, while still firmly ensconced in the company of my fellow Harlowe residents.

“Mackenzie?” Lee said.


“Do you know if she was involved in Leda’s death?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Neither of them talked about it, before or after… it’s the other one, Iona, who I was more worried about. She’s not naive at all. She’s just… cold. Vicious.”

“Isn’t it possible for the more naive one to have thought she could do something like this without consequences?” Lee asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t really know which of them did it, Lee… I don’t want to name names. If Mike Gregory knows that mermaids can grow teeth like that… well, he can find out the mermaids in Harlowe and he can question them, or investigate them, or whatever.”

“If an imperial agent knew that merfolk were dangerous, human-killing predators, do you think he’d find out which one killed this person and turn the other one loose?” Lee asked.

“Feejee would still have civil liberties, if she’s innocent,” I said. “Even humans as a race kill lots of humans.”

“So Feejee never hunted humans in the ocean?”

That stopped me. I was pretty sure that she had.

“Look… I’m not really concerned with shielding Feejee,” I said. “I’d rather this didn’t get ugly for anyone except the murderer… well, I don’t even really want it ugly for her. Justice should be… just. Orderly.”

“If at all possible, yes,” Lee said.

“If things do get ugly, though, I don’t want to be caught up in it all,” I said. “Whether because the imps think I’m too cozy with my fellow human-eaters, or because the campus thinks so, or because Iona tries to turn it around and blame it on me, or because my neighbors think I betrayed Harlowe, or whatever. I just want to be kept out of it.”

“Well, that shouldn’t actually be too hard to do,” Lee said. “The investigation does take anonymous tips, and… supposedly… they check all of them out.”

“Couldn’t checking out ‘mermaids have giant pointy teeth and eat people’ consist of comparing it to what everybody knows about mermaids and discarding it as obviously nonsense?” I asked.

“It could be,” Lee said. “And it could also be a while before they got to that one. I think the best way to approach it would be to focus on the shapeshifting and the teeth. That mermaids can alter their forms to be more or less human-like is an established fact. The teeth are what’s relevant to the case. Putting out there that they hunt and kill humans with any frequency…”

“You want to cover that up?” I asked.

“Have you been in any hurry to expose it?” he said. “If you do want to keep it quiet, you should know that it will probably come out in the course of the investigation. But if we posit it up front, when mermaids aren’t even on the table as suspects, it makes our claim look incredible. On the other hand, if we give them a single, narrow piece of information that connects to what they already know to be true, if we give them a notion worth entertaining, they can check it out and discover the rest for themselves.”

“So… that’s what you advise?” I asked.

“It’s an idea,” Lee said. “Alternately, we could have the firm provide the information on behalf of an anonymous party. That would make sure that the tip received immediate attention and was treated seriously. The downside is that it would receive more attention than it otherwise would. A tribunal could compel us to name the source.”

“Wouldn’t it be kind of transparent anyway?” I said. “I mean, I’m sure you can’t just tell me if there are any other students being represented by Pendragon and Associates aside from my friends and me, but… are there any other students being represented by Pendragon and Associates?”

“Another student might seem to be the most likely source if the information implicated a specific individual student,” Lee said. “But if it’s just a piece of particularly arcane and obscure information about a race that’s rarely seen inland, well… there are more likely sources than a student. And it’s possible that the imperials wouldn’t pry too deeply if they thought the information might be coming from… one of our higher-powered clients.”

“But it’s possible they would, and your uber client wouldn’t actually get in their face about it because he wouldn’t be affected by it,” I said.

“True,” Lee said thoughtfully. A spark lit up inside his eyes. “On the other hand…”

“What?” I asked.

“Well, Mackenzie… okay, first of all, to examine another angle: are you sure you don’t want to use this information?”

“I do,” I said. “I want to use it to speed up the investigation, find Leda’s killer, get rid of all the lingering suspicion and the imperial agents hanging out around my school.”

“I mean, use it to your advantage,” Lee said. “First, there’s a reward… and then there’s the goodwill of the school administration and the Imperium. And possibly that of a Shifter kingdom, though I don’t know how grateful they’d be or whether it would be worth it to accept any gratitude from them.”

“Can you predict how likely it is that I’d get goodwill and not suspicion?” I asked.

“No,” Lee said. “But it’s worth mentioning. Claiming the reward later would just lead to more questions. And there is potentially a way the firm could resolve this without bringing you into it at all, even if they did bring in a tribunal… but it would make it impossible for you to take credit for it later.”


“By getting one of our older and more respected clients to provide the information to the investigators,” Lee said.

I figured he had to be talking about Mr. Embries, the school’s vice-chancellor. Lee had mentioned that he was a client, and judging from the effect that he’d had on Amaranth and Ian, he had to be very “high-powered” indeed.

“You mean, you tell him this and get him to tell the investigators?” I asked.

“I meant more ask him if he wouldn’t mind us telling the investigators on his behalf,” Lee said. “It works out the same either way. He becomes the ultimate source for the tip. It won’t be worth it for the Imperium to question things any further.”

“But… if they came after you, you’d have to lie in order to get them to understand that he’s the source,” I said.

“Well, no, not necessarily,” Lee said. “This plan hinges on the idea that he very probably already does know as much or more about mermaids as you do. I just need to find out, and get his permission to tell Gregory about it.”

“If he already knows, why hasn’t he told anyone?”

“It might not have occurred to him,” Lee said. “Or maybe he thinks it’s the mermaids’ business, as a race. If I put this to him, though… well, I have a feeling he might find it amusing to help us in this way. He… some clients, that is… like to feel useful, like to have a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

It was a bold stab at restoring hypotheticalness to what was becoming a very specific conversation.

“But you’d still have to lie…”

“It will come from someone else,” Lee said. “They’ll be the focus of any scrutiny, which won’t last long and won’t have any repercussions for the firm. We’ll be reaping all the benefits here. Well, if it leads to an arrest then the cash reward will go through us to our client, which is the other reason I suspect he’ll go for it. But we’ll get the attendant goodwill for playing nice with the imperial bureau. And… more than incidentally… it would mean really good things for my future with this firm. The long-term benefits to me would be far more than what I’d earn brokering a deal for you. That’s why I want to make sure that you’d rather have the absolute assurance of anonymity, Mackenzie. It wouldn’t be ethical for me to do this at your expense.”

“Just so I’m clear… if I had you present the information on my behalf… you could get the reward for me? Without my name getting out?”

“I couldn’t guarantee either of those things,” Lee said. “Anything short of naming the killer along with a time and a place to catch her isn’t necessarily going to be considered ‘information leading to the capture’ thereof. The reward money’s in escrow. There’d be a hearing once the dust settled. You might get all of it, or a percentage of it. As for your name… it could be leaked, it could be forced out of us. The bottom line is there are no guarantees.”

“But you seem pretty certain that if you have the vi… other client do this, it’ll keep me out completely,” I said.

“I am,” he said. “Fairly certain. If the other client felt he was being trifled with or disrespected by the government… well, he’d be a fierce advocate for you by proxy.”

“Then let’s do that,” I said. I was probably condemning Feejee, one way or another… I didn’t know how to feel about that, and taking money for it would only make it worse.

Well, I knew I should feel awful about it because she was nice and my friend, and I knew that I should feel good about that because she was a killer who had feasted on humans. I just didn’t know which feeling should win and how to survive the battle between them.

“Okay,” Lee said.

“You don’t need me to sign anything for this, or anything?” I asked.

“No,” Lee said. “It’s really better if you don’t. There’s really not going to be any going back, though… if we do this, it would be way more trouble than it’d be worth for you to try to claim the reward later.”

“That’s so not a problem,” I said.

“You could never tell anyone that this had anything to do with you,” Lee said. “Amaranth… anybody else who knows… tell them you talked to me and I assured you that someone else already knows and is ready to come forward.”

I nodded, though I already knew I’d be telling Amaranth the truth. The lie would be too obvious on my face.

“Mackenzie?” Lee said.

“Yes?” I asked, wondering if my face was too transparent to him, as well.

“Do you know how much the reward is?”

“No,” I said, and I was a little surprised that I hadn’t asked. That’s how I knew it was true when I said, “It doesn’t make a difference.”

“It’s approximately one thousand platinum in mixed treasure,” Lee said. “Her family put it up. Is your mind still made up?”

It was unexpected, but then, I hadn’t had any specific in figure in mind… Leda had been royalty, after all.

“Yes,” I said.

“Okay,” Lee said. “I should be able to take care of this tonight, and then… unless it doesn’t work out… we’ll talk no more about this. Clear?”


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59 Responses to “449: Muted Calls”

  1. LetsSee says:

    Assuming the rules governing Lee are anything like the rules governing lawyers in the U.S. – especially since you have styled him as a U.S. style lawyer, rather than a solicitor or barrister … it seems that his comments are quite problematic from an ethical standpoint.

    That is, “The long-term benefits to me would be far more than what I’d earn brokering a deal for you.” strongly implies self-dealing and a massive conflict of interest. Even if he were to get permission, written or not from Mack, he could readily be disbarred due to this action. Most firms would actually fire him, if they found out about it, rather than keep him around.

    Current score: 0
    • tjhairball says:

      But this is not “most firms.” This is Pendragon and associates. I expect that the firm practically belongs to Ambrosius. I mean, Emrys. Embries. Whatever. And Lee knows that.

      I like that he’s made it crystal clear to Mack that he DOES think it’s in his own self-interest to pull a stunt like this. At least he’s being honest with his client there. Assuming that he isn’t up to something shady. I mean, so far we’ve had every reason to trust L. Jenkins, but he could still turn out to be a real slimebag under the surface.

      Current score: 1
      • Eric M. says:

        Oh, man…as a law student, I was hoping we’d see a noble lawyer. Now it looks like I’ll be disappointed.

        Current score: 0
        • Arakano says:

          Why? Is it not noble to kill two birds with one stone by helping his client AND himself? Seriously, it’s what every lawyer, no matter how noble, tries to do with most of his cases, and I find it completely okay. Most other professions act similarly.

          Current score: 7
        • Kelsi says:

          On the contrary. I thought it read as “Before I let you do this, you should know that it will benefit me a lot, so I don’t want to counsel you that it’s the best option without explaining to you that I have some bias.” I think we’ve seen Lee show nothing but honesty, and while he guides Mack in her legal struggles, he always consults her about her options and explains the full potential consequences attached to each option.

          Current score: 11
          • Moridain says:

            Especially since he then went back AFTER getting confirmation to inform her of exactly what she could earn, and offering yet another chance.

            Current score: 6
    • Krey says:

      plus, it’s only an ethical issue if he acts against a clients best interests in brokering this deal that benefits him, which he’s not since Mackenzie believes it’s in her best interest to remain anonymous.

      Current score: 2
      • firedragongt says:

        More than that, he’s actually acting IN her interests by doing this, and probably doing so in the best way possible.

        Current score: 2
    • Jimz says:

      I don’t think you’re correct. If you were correct then lawyers would often be unable to function. Anytime they would benefit from something that is in their client’s best interests they’d be unable to act. Further, how do you measure non-tangible things like “credit with the firm” or “friendship of a judge”? In fact, you sort of end up with tautologies: if your client were Embries then anything you did to serve him would earn you credit with the firm. If earning credit with the firm were to be a conflict of interest then you’d be unable to act on his behalf in anyway. It’s illogical.

      In this case, his client has directed him to act in a manner that she feels is in her interests and the way she measures best interest neglects a large sum of money. Most of us would agree this is rational in the situation, but it is contrary to what many people might do in her place or in a situation similar. To be sure that she is making an informed decision he goes out of his way to make sure she has all the facts. No bar association would fault him.

      Of course, if a client in this situation later changed their mind and lodged a complaint, it is likely that they would lie about the full disclosure. At that point, with no magic to determine truth, he would likely be in a bad situation.

      Current score: 2
    • Jack V says:

      I think the thing is, it’s not for Lee personally, any soliticor would have a similar gain from arranging it. If it was just him, yes, he _should_ bunt the case over to someone else. But if not, I think being upfront is the ethical thing to do.

      That said, I did think Mack was being over-cautious here. If all she says is “I happen to know Mermaids have teeth like that”, there’s a risk it’ll rebound badly against her, but only if someone presses Lee to release the information (which really shouldn’t be legal, but I’ll take his word for it that it’s possible/legal) AND only if public opinion is suspicious of her or dislikes her for coming forward.

      I don’t blame her for not wanting a share of the reward, but the gamble seems in her favour — a hefty bank balance would be a cushion against lots of potential disasters.

      Current score: 1
  2. Gruhl says:

    Law and intrigue seems to go hand in hand as much in muverse as everywhere else.

    Current score: 0
  3. Sapphite says:

    Great googly mooglies! 1000 plat!

    Current score: 0
    • CK says:

      that’s about two month’s raid split from my EQ2 guild.

      Current score: 0
      • Morten says:

        Or about 65 mio. dollars. If I remember the conversion right.

        Current score: 1
        • Morten says:

          Sorry ~6.4mio dollars.
          Damn. I want that plat. How much was Mercy willing to pay for a baby half-demon girl from Mack? 600 plat?

          Current score: 1
  4. Renshan says:

    Yeah 1000 Platinum, that’s nice, I wonder if the mermaids nation can match that for a price on your head afterwards. Oh right they’re literally as rich as the sea is deep right? It would not be a problem at all for them judging by what Feejee struts around with.

    Current score: 0
    • Felix says:

      Dunno if mermaids do thatβ€”does it even match their ethics? Anyway, not a problem for Mr. Embries, eh? πŸ™‚

      Current score: 1
    • Arakano says:

      Well, then again, would they want to? I am not sure that the majority of mermaids would count the fountain as fulfilling their sacred rule. They might be displeased by their secret becoming known, but outraged at the killer mermaid for acting in a way that would be almost blasphemy, maybe…

      Current score: 0
  5. EB says:

    Typo alert…

    “probably coming in near the bottom of the bile”


    Current score: 0
    • Zergonapal says:

      …oh PILE, I thought that seemed odd, but it was so unobvious I glossed over it.

      Current score: 0
    • Rognik says:

      I see your “bottom of the bile” and raise you a “the was a series”. That one has 2 letters missing, as I figure it.

      Current score: 0
  6. Peter says:

    I LOVE it when the story moves like this.

    Current score: 0
  7. Zergonapal says:

    Legal wrangling aside I am really proud that Mack traded greed for anonymity. 1KP would have set her up for life, but the issues it would spawn if her name came out would have caused a lot of potential trouble.

    Current score: 0
    • anna says:

      Plus, she’s way too low-level to be getting that kind of loot. I mean, no DM in her right mind would drop that much money on someone at the shallow end of the Heroic tier, right? (sorry, I couldn’t resist πŸ˜› )

      Current score: 1
      • Kevin says:

        Ignoring the fact that you made a reference to a system I do not play, I would agree with you that she is way too low level. However, not every DM is in their right mind, I’ve had a 3rd level Paladin pull down a thousand platinum easy (of course as a Paladin a tenth of that was donated to my church, and the better part of the rest of it went into my stronghold fund) so in a different character’s viewpoint I could see Mack getting a reward, hell if Embries wasn’t a dragon I would expect him to share part of the reward.

        Current score: 1
  8. Felix says:

    Nice. That should attract Mr. Embries’s interest. Plus, I’m sure he’ll enjoy the irony of being able to denounce mermaids as cold-blooded predators (is that what Lee meant in saying that helping would amuse him?)

    Current score: 2
  9. Rin says:

    A great chapter once again. The only problem I have with it is that Ian wasn’t in it, really. Seems like it’s been a long time since we’ve seen the guy in more than passing. Oh well, I guess with so many characters to balance you can’t see everyone all the time.

    Current score: 0
  10. BJ says:

    Am I really late in noticing that the guy’s name is Lee Jenkins? Have I been missing out on a long-running ironic gag about the EXCEEDINGLY CAUTIOUS Leroy Jenkins?

    Current score: 4
    • fka_luddite says:

      There was some commentary when his name first came out. I believe at that time AEsais the usage was unintentional.

      Current score: 0
  11. Potatohead says:

    Don’t feel bad. It took me a bit to get the joke originally too.

    Current score: 0
  12. Zathras IX says:

    Silence is purple
    And twinkly powder rather
    Than being golden

    Current score: 2
  13. XIII says:

    On the one hand I’m proud of Mac for not getting in over her head and going for the platinum, and Glad she does feel worried about Feejee (whom I’m really hoping doesn’t come out too badly in this).

    On the other i feel somewhat wary about the whole deal, seeing as how no matter how she slices it she will possibly be causing quite the stir for her friend, the backlash of which will most likely find its way to her in some form or the other. Thankfully autonomy has made it more likely that the backlash will be of the Indirect rather than the direct kind.

    Current score: 0
  14. Rey d`Tutto says:

    Another sweet installment.
    Thanks, AE

    Current score: 0
  15. Readaholic says:

    Oh, wow. While the deal is great for Lee (letting Embries get his hands on that nice pile of treasure for his hoard), having the good regard of a greater dragon is priceless protection for Mackenzie. Heh. Embries might even be able to eat one of the mermaids. Which means that the lawsuit by Mackenzie against the school looks like going favorably for Mackenzie, and Mack has a great ally against Mackdaddy, and Granny Blaise.

    Current score: 0
    • Rin says:

      That’s assuming Mackenzie would need protection from Granny Blaise. After all, while I won’t contest that the Iron Granny is a beligerent, overbearing and callous shrew, she doesn’t seem to be a danger to Mack. In fact, despite aforementioned, she genuinely seems to want to protect her granddaughter, even if she does go about it in all the wrong ways.

      Current score: 0
  16. Abeo says:

    Hmmm… the plan they are going with is actually surprisingly similar to the one Amaranth proposed. It is more complex, has more redundancy, and relies on a being truly above the law rather than just protected by it, but the underlying principle is the same.

    Current score: 1
    • Fourthnorth says:

      Well, not quite. Amaranth’s plan was that she heard it from someone else and was gonna use her divine status to refuse to give up her source. Jenkin’s plan is to have his firm drop a tip that a certain powerful client know something about mermaids (which, after confirming w/ Embries, would be absolutely true). Even if compelled to testify as to whom the source is, they could honeslty say that Embries’ has knowledge of mermaid’s transformational abilities.

      Current score: 1
      • Atalanta says:

        yeah – this way, it is absolutely truthful. the only thing they are not giving up is the fact that mackenzie also knows this, and in a way, she is just triggering embries to come forward about it.

        Current score: 1
  17. Aw, man. Poor Feejee. I hope nothing bad happens to her… she and Mack are my favorite couple =

    Current score: 0
    • Arakano says:

      Damn it, man, she is a MAN-EATER! You are probably one of those guys pitying the shark in “Jaws”, right? πŸ˜› πŸ˜€

      Current score: 0
      • Kevin says:

        That poor shark did not deserve to die, he acted completely within his nature. The shark in “Jaws” was male right?

        Current score: 0
        • Zukira Phaera says:

          The shark in Jaws was Iona’s prom date

          *bad joke on my part*

          Current score: 1
      • erianaiel says:

        No, but Feejay is no worse a vicious man-eater than Mackenzie. The only reason we do not hate our favourite half-demon is because we are in her head all the time.
        Keep in mind that Mackenzie at one occasion did bite off somebody’s finger and loved the taste and texture. She repeatedly mentioned being almost overcome with the desire to tear into somebody. In one case she was only restrained from doing so by the presence of Dee.
        In the Tomb of Horrors she was a tiny nudge away from sinking her teeth in the other half demon girl and she commented how much the smell of blood in the air made her want to feed.

        The simple truth is that Mackenzie is no less a man killer than Feejay, and she is only marginally more safe (and sane). Feejay is so utterly alien that she can not understand that the sentient person she is talking to and the sentient person she is eating are the same. (I have the feeling that Iona does understand but does not care). I can understand that Mackenzie does not want bad things to happen to Feejay just because of what she is. They both are predators but Feejay did not have the benefit of a human upbringing to help her function in human society. She also does not want others to fall victim to one or both of the mermaids, she fears them even, but that does not exclude being able to feel sorry for them at the same time.

        Current score: 0
        • drudge says:

          No, you’re missing the fundamental difference.

          Makenzie HATES her condition and tries to put it off. She never kills when she does need to drink blood and all of her injuries were caused when her state of mind deteriorated heavily. While it is bad there’s Feejee, who’s much much worse.

          Feejee is a monster, plain and simple. She LOVES eating people. She kills every time sh feeds, and she doesn’t need to feed. If she doesn’t understand that sort of makes her a sociopath, and that’s kind of not a very good excuse.

          Current score: 1
          • erianaiel says:

            I did not miss that difference. And make no mistake that Mackenzie loves to eat people too. She named them as her favourite food to the scarecrow. She lost all self control when confronted with bloody meat twice, and only once did she have the excuse of being starving. Mackenzie has been forced to grow up as a human and to see her demonic side as an abomination. Feejee grew up where eating humans (and other sentient creatures I might add) was normal and never learned that it was frowned upon.

            Near as I can tell Feejee is a kind of sentient tiger. Or rather, she is closer to being a demon than Mackenzie is. The tragic part is that she does not seem to be able to grasp how humans respond to big predators. She intellectually understands that it would be a bad thing to reveal it, but emotionally it does not make a connection with her. It is the same inability to understand the difference between Mackenzie’s desire for ‘play’ eating and her own desire to kill and eat Mackenzie.
            What makes her a tragic character is not because she is a ‘poor little misunderstood monster’ but that she is on a collision course with humanity and seems unable to understand why that is happening.

            Mind, that does not make her any less dangerous to be around. It just makes her a character in a tragedy.

            Current score: 2
            • drudge says:

              Of course there’s of course the problem with that being her favorite food. She’s physically unable to have another favorite. Half Demon remember? She doesn’t seem to enjoy eating people, and doesn’t really do out of her way to do any eating beyond the bare minimum she physically *needs* to have.

              Current score: 1
  18. drudge says:

    Indeed. You can’t sympathise with her for fucks sake. There’s a difference between Macks reluctance to take the bare minimum and her wanton indiscriminate slaughter. Hell. there’s a difference between Mack Daddies NEED to take what still doesn’t kill in order to escape damnation and her devouring civilians alive and laughing about it.

    Hell, even Emberis knows full well how fucked up this is and tries to restrict himself to once every few years, even if he doesn’t need to and should be killed in a fair world.

    Damnit even VIKTOR said Ogres don’t eat people for the taste.

    Feejee isn’t some tragic figure forced to do what she needs to get by, she isn’t someone slaughtered trying to have freedom, she isn’t even someone who’s being forced to for some reason. She isn’t even sanctioned in any way for a thin excuse.

    She’s a killer, she’s too stupid to stop and set in her ways. If she goes home she’ll just kill again because she likes how people taste, and she’ll never care. Humans are animals to her, and she doesn’t care how many she meets that are good because she wants to eat friends too.

    Current score: 1
    • KrataLightblade says:

      In a “fair world” is a very odd term.

      There’s an intrinsic difference in the nature of, say, a dragon, a demon, a human, and a merperson. The notion of a “fair world” would certainly differ greatly between the four. Dragons undoubtedly consider it grossly unfair that such inferior creations have basically grown to dominate the world that should be theirs by right. For example.

      It’s not a “fair world” you’re thinking of, really, so much as “a world where everyone is held to a particular human standard that makes no distinctions between groups”. That’s only a “fair world” if everyone in said world actually is a human from that particular culture and is treated accordingly. The very existence of clashing cultures makes any such concept of “fairness” impossible… it becomes more about “finding enough commonly acceptable compromises that we don’t have to try to kill each other off constantly.”

      Current score: 0
    • Zukira Phaera says:

      there is the ‘almost religious’ factor. “almost” and “is” are just degrees of interpretation for the one it ‘is’ religious for and the one who is observing and thinking it ‘almost is’.

      Not defending, just pointing it out.

      Current score: 0
  19. OhPun says:

    I’m guessing that with minimal information, the authorities will decide that it is an act of individual violence rather than a racial trait. I mean humans don’t go around mass-killing other humans, do they? Of course not. That would make them too dangerous to be around.

    Current score: 1
    • drudge says:

      Of course they do so with demons, and any dragons that won’t quit it. The thing is all Mermaids, everywhere, go after humans without discrimination. The vast majority of their interaction with humans is based around the idea that they’re there to be eaten no matter what they think.

      Current score: 0
      • XIII says:

        Well by that logic, every human who has ever partaken of Bush-meat, or eaten of Cetacean or at all had anything to do with the slaugher of either group should be taken outback and Shot.

        One thing you should remember, especially after the last Other Tales put it in perspective, Mermaids and their ‘community’ of Intelligent life under the sea operate such that being Sentient does not discount you from being possible food. Sure you and another sentient can converse, but when they are being the food they are being the food, end full stop. And considering just how much is sentient under there, that’s actually an understandable kind of reasoning.

        It hasn’t actually been mentioned, and i would like to get word on it, but I suspect that the mermaids have plenty of their own conditions where they expect to act the part of the Hunted instead of the Hunter by things that they might elsewise converse with at a different time. I may be mistaken, but there seems to be a high sense of ‘Fairness’ to their society… just not the same fairness the Humans of the empire (And some/many of us, the audience) share.

        Current score: 0
        • bramble says:

          I think that part of what makes Feejee both dangerous and tragic is that she doesn’t understand the dynamic she’s inserted herself into by going among humans. She still sees them as lower on the food chain than she is, and hasn’t really encountered anyone that she can recognize as being higher on the food chain. She’s used to hunting isolated humans – maybe as many as a shipload at a time, but still outnumbered and literally out of their element. People have told her that humans en mass could be dangerous if they recognize her as a predator, but she doesn’t really understand that. It makes about as much sense to her as it would if you told, say, Ian that cows were going to rise up against him.

          Iona, on the other hand, I think understands only too well. Remember, she’s a coastal mermaid while Feejee grew up “in the depths,” so she probably had more contact with humans before she came to MU. She seems to have a better understanding of how large groups of humans work, but I’m not sure that’ll translate into respect for their culture and mores. I’m actually a little afraid that it’ll turn out that Iona is the killer, and she’s planning on pinning it on Feejee.

          Current score: 2
          • Kevin says:

            I just had a memory of the Evil Cow Level of the Diablo games

            Current score: 0
          • Jack V says:

            I think “hunting humans on land = death” is like “stealing from a dwarf = death.”

            As Kipling put it, “kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man”.

            People really OUGHT to “get it”, especially after it’s explained, but there’ll always be some people who don’t think the bad thing will really happen until they’ve seen it.

            Current score: 1
  20. The Other Leighton says:

    Who’s willing to put up money that whatever race Gladys turns out to be she was somehow able to hear Mack through the silence spell? Implausible, yes, but would be great to feed to Trina. Would be interesting to see how fast people would be willing to turn on Feejee for 1k plat or if people would remain “honorable.”

    Probably better than a silence spell would have been a garbling spell kind of like what the Doctor used in the recent Lodger episode. Cross-geekination FTW.

    Current score: 0
  21. Anthony says:

    I seem to be the only one who thinks that Mackenzie just did something really dumb here. Not like Mackenzie-made-another-mistake dumb, but out-and-out Steff-grade stupidity.

    If you had the chance to bring a murderer to justice, and it would coincidentally get someone you *knew* was planning to kill you off your back *and* make you ridiculously wealthy at the same time, wuld you decline to do so out of fear of what society might think?

    Current score: 1