455: Pressing On

on August 4, 2010 in Book 16

In Which The Focus Is In The Wrong Place

Professor Hart had a grave look on his face, more serious than annoyed… seeing him with a more neutral expression than I’d expected, I realized he’d always looked annoyed before, at least slightly, even when he first came into the room. Even when he smiled. I wondered if what I’d taken as looks of annoyance actually represented thoughtfulness, like he always had something on his mind, or if he really did go through life… or at least our class… in a state of perpetual irritation.

I supposed either was really possible.

“As most of you are probably aware,” he said, his eyes slipping over Keri La Belle as he said “most”, “Chancellor Davies is going to be holding a press conference at five P.M. tonight. We have been ‘asked’ to show the conference in class. Now, we don’t have a whole class period before the conference starts, I don’t know how long it will last, or what will be said in it. I don’t even know for certain what the subject of the conference will be.”

“I wasn’t aware, actually,” La Belle said.

“Yes, I knew that,” Hart said.

“You looked at me like you thought I did.”

“Anyway,” Hart said, “there’s not a lot that we can cover, under the circumstances… I’m not sure whether it’ll be worth trying to continue class after the conference ends, so I’d like to get…”

“Hey! Do you think it’s about the dead swan girl?” La Belle said. “Don’t you think it’s a bunch of crap that one non-human dies and it’s this whole big thing, with imperial agents and press conferences and things?”

“Don’t you think if any of the humans had been royalty from a politically sensitive area, they would have received the same attention?” Hart asked. “If not more?”

“Hell no,” La Belle said. “Humans don’t get shit… we don’t have special dorms, or special meals. Nobody organizes a protest when we go missing. If we had a group for the advancement of humans, people would say it was racist.”

“Or normal,” Ms. Carter said. “There are plenty of groups that advance humanity.”

“Yeah, but, we wouldn’t be allowed to say it right in the group’s name,” La Belle said. “If we had a human channel or a united human college fund or a… a… human league, everybody would jump on their ass and call them racist until they gave up.”

“An organization doesn’t have to say they’re for humanity,” Carter said. “It’s the default state in human-controlled society.”

“What human-controlled society? Like, Hart says it’s okay that she’s getting all this attention because she was a princess, but we humans don’t even have royalty,” she said. “We’re like all advanced past that, and stuff. Oh, unless you count the emperor and empress, but that’s not inherited… is it?”

“The imperial titles are not explicitly hereditary by law, but the emperor traditionally names his successor, and in most cases the person he’s named has been both a descendant or collateral relative of his and in a strong enough position to enforce their claim. Let’s call it semi-hereditary and move on,” Hart said. “But the empires are not the only human states in the world, and there are a number of feudal states and a few constitutional monarchies with human royal families at the head.”

“Whatever, none of them even go here,” La Belle said.

“Well, that would be a very good reason for their deaths to get less attention around campus,” Hart said. “Now, ladies… I wouldn’t mind giving up half of a class period to discussing this kind of topic if I thought it would lead anywhere interesting, but since we can’t do anything more than speculate about what the Chancellor will have to say…”

“We can do that, though,” La Belle said.

“Do what?” Hart asked.


“Not in an informed way,” Hart said. “And it seems pointless when we’re going to be find out for sure in… twenty-five minutes. So, let’s talk about Republican History until then.”

“But why do you think it took…”

Thankfully, he just started talking over her at that point. It ended up being more like twenty minutes, because he got the TV set up and attuned to the university’s news feed at a few minutes before five.

“Can we speculate now?” La Belle asked.

“It seems even more pointless to do so, which makes me think there’s less chance I’ll be able to stop you,” Hart said.

“I just want to know why they waited until now to say anything about this,” she said.

“I’m pretty sure the university’s been giving statements pretty non-stop for the last four days,” Hart said. “I imagine they didn’t hold a press conference until they had something worth holding one for.”

“Don’t you think it might just be because the royal family’s coming?” someone asked.

“Well, that would fit the definition of ‘worth holding a press conference over’,” Hart said. “Guys, seriously… I don’t know any more than you do what’s going to happen and what they’re going to say.”

“Would it be the university holding the conference if they actually have something to say about the case?” some guy sitting on the end of the second row asked. “I mean, I’d think it would be the imps announcing if they’d solved anything.”

“That could be,” Hart said. “I really don’t know.”

“That’s a bunch of crap,” La Belle said. “Like you wouldn’t ask what it’s about when they told you to show it in class.”

“Who said I didn’t?”

“And they didn’t tell you?”

“No, even though the folder the dean was carrying was stamped ‘top secret and confidential unless anyone asks’,” Hart said. “One more time: I really don’t know anything. Now, let’s all be quiet… I think this is it.”

The image in the box had just dissolved from a static image of the university… one unfortunately highlighting the fountain… overlaid with floating announcements to a fixed shot of a raised platform in front of the administration building. A large number of people, students and others, were gathered in front of it. The view was pulled too far back to make out a lot of details about the people on the stage, but it looked like a lot of guys in suits. There were a large number of campus guards and provincial officers in between the crowd and the stage.

A man stepped up towards the podium and the image zoomed in on him. He looked a bit like a lawyer, and a lot like he hadn’t slept all week. His short, dark hair was neat in an air-puffed sort of way and his suit looked well-made. He cleared his throat a couple of times before he began.

“Good evening, students, members of the press, and esteemed representatives of the Lebedev family of Mariinsky Lake,” he said, and the view swung around and zoomed in on a group of people sitting in chairs near the stage. The cordon of security around them made it impossible to see much more than a mass of fur hats and coats. “For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Mitch McSmeagol, director of public relations for the university here. In regards to the ongoing investigation into the death of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Lidiya Petrovna Lebedeva… a matter which concerns us all very deeply… we have been informed by the Imperial Bureau of Finding of this Republic, appointed by the grace of His Excellency Magisterion XIII, that the case has been brought to a close. Chancellor Bethany Davies will be reading a statement, after which we’ll be taking a number of questions.”

There was a tiny amount of scattered clapping. He stepped back from the podium and put his hand on Chancellor Davies’s back and said something to her as she stepped up to take his place. She nodded and waved him away.

“Good evening. After a thorough inquest, the Imperial Bureau of Finding has determined that the death of Princess Lidiya was due to natural causes, relating to a monster or monsters who were able to strike due to a previously unconsidered aspect of the university’s protective spells,” the chancellor read. “We stress that there is no reason to worry about the integrity of our protective spells, which are the strongest and most comprehensive in the province. There was more than one casualty of Veil Night frivolities, and in each and every case the victim was found outside the lighted areas protected by our paths. This was also true in Miss Lidiya’s case. While no doubt she felt safe being surrounded by the protective sidewalk that ringed the fountain, the fountain itself was not so protected.”

This was about the last thing I’d expected to hear, though it was all arguably true. If the fountain didn’t have its own separate protective spells woven into it, a ghoul could drop down into the middle of it and be perfectly safe. How it would have got there was the question, and the obvious hole in the story… unless they were claiming that a flying creature had gone after Leda?

Of course, they weren’t actually claiming anything had… just there had been an unspecified “monster or monsters”. That could be a ghoul, it could be a winged terror… it could be a transformed mermaid whom the safety spells didn’t even recognize as a monster and who could just as easily walk up to the fountain and step in as Leda herself had.

Were they trying to fob this story off on the family as a quicker alternative to actually solving the case? That was a better outcome than picking a scapegoat, but only marginally so… what would stop her killer from restraining her appetite after she’d literally got away with murder?

“The death of Princess Lidiya was as tragic as it was unforeseeable, but there is a lesson in it for all of us: be careful. None of us could have guessed a person would be so vulnerable in the fountain after dark…”

“I could have,” Steff whispered.

“…but that’s all a part of why we urge students not to linger out of doors after sunset. When you have to go somewhere, travel with friends and stick to the paths. There has never been a monster attack on a student within the network of sidewalks and footpaths since it was put in back in 198. We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of the victim, the ruling Lebedev family of Mariinsky Lake, and are pleased to be able to offer them our hospitality during these trying times. We hope they will join with us in looking for a way forward, a way to prevent such future tragedies before they happen. Agent Greer from the Imperial Bureau’s field office in Enwich will now discuss his team’s findings.”

I didn’t recognize the man who stepped forward. The fact that they were using someone other than Mike Gregory to deliver the “findings” screamed cover-up to me… maybe he simply wasn’t available, but from what Lee had said it seemed like he’d be unlikely to go along with a story that served political expediency over justice. Greer mumbled his way through a statement that said nothing more than what Davies had already said, which was almost nothing.

I wondered what it would do to the official story when my information reached the authorities, but then I realized that unless Lee had been unable to get a hold of Mr. Embries completely then it was unlikely that he wouldn’t have spoken up before this plan was put into motion. Even if he was only the Vice-Chancellor, he was probably among the people on the stage, and he would probably have been in on the plan.

If they knew but were doing this anyway, what did that mean? Would they rather blame things on some unknown flying creature or mysterious hopping ghouls than go after the mermaids? What exactly would stop them?

“Did you hear Davies? ‘We hope the family will join us in not suing our asses for using their daughter as ghoul chum’,” someone said, to general snickering.

“Hey, it’s not their fault she couldn’t stay on the paths,” La Belle said. “If they sue, I hope they lose… because any money the school pays will just come out of our pockets. Why should I pay for someone else’s stupidity? I pay my fair share already.”

“No argument here,” Hart said.

“If she wanted to swim, we do have a swimming pool,” La Belle said. “Though I don’t think animals should be allowed in it.”

“She wasn’t an animal,” I said, my frustration at the situation boiling over. “She was a person.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t want people-feathers and people-poop in my pool, either,” La Belle said.

“Do you even go to the pool?” one of the other girls in the front row asked her.

“I haven’t yet, but I’m paying for it with my fees,” La Belle said.

“Well, so was she,” someone else said.

“Shh,” Hart said. Mitch McSmeagol had rejoined Davies and Greer at the podium and they were getting into the question-and-answer part of it. Whoever was working the camera for the university’s news channel was having a hard time getting the view and audio pickup focused on the person asking the question. He zoomed way in past the head of the man who was speaking, getting a close up of the lip of the stage. The view jerked upwards as he pulled back, giving us a glimpse of the row of men backing the Chancellor up. They were other high-ranking university officials, probably. Vice-Chancellor Embries was indeed among them. After whizzing past him, the camera came back and focused on him, like he was the most interesting thing the cameraman could see.

The Vice-Chancellor looked entirely too pleased with himself… I meant that both in the general sense that he looked more pleased with himself than was probably altogether healthy for an individual, and in the specific sense that he looked way too happy about the idea that the institution he helped to head up was likely to be facing a lawsuit from the family of a slain student, especially since it seemed really unlikely he’d be able to claim any reward from the family in that case.

“Yes. We have already been meeting and working with the royal family, today, to come to a private solution to… any lingering… issues they may have,” Chancellor Davies was saying, as the view continued to hold on Embries. It was a little muffled, but it was easy enough to make out now that the classroom had fallen completely silent. “They are our guests in the Imperium, and we’ve extended every courtesy and cooperation to them, trying to come to terms with… with what has happened.”

“We would ask that everybody please try to respect their privacy in this time of grief,” the PR head added, quickly and smoothly cutting her off. “Thank you.”

I gathered that the “good question” she was avoiding answering had been about the possibility of a lawsuit… the mention of meeting with the family in private made me wonder just how much pull Embries could have. Enough to all but own a law firm, it seemed. Enough to broker a “private resolution” between Leda’s family and the Imperium that kept the university insulated from the worst fallout?

Pinning it on a totally random wandering monster encounter didn’t exactly make the school look blameless, but it would probably be better than the panic and outrage when it was proven that one of the school’s non-human students had done it. Back towards the coast there would probably be a panic and furor over mermaids, but here in the midst of the woods and plains of Prax there wouldn’t be any targets for people’s worst instincts except for the other residents of Harlowe and the university itself.

But what would become of Iona and Feejee, if neither were officially implicated in Leda’s death? I doubted her family would go along with any plan that didn’t involve bringing the killer or killers to justice, but I wasn’t sure that it could be called “justice” when a representative of the Imperium stood up and read a bit of creative writing and then a “private resolution” took care of the killer.

I didn’t know whether I wanted to be right about all this or not… I supposed it would be better if the panic could be avoided and the threat of mermaid attacks ended at the same time, but for all that this might be a nice, neat solution, it didn’t feel like a clean one. If I was right, then I was really glad I’d kept my name out of things.

I turned to ask Steff what she thought of it all, only to find her staring at the TV with a look that could only be called slack-jawed wonder. Like, her jaw was literally hanging over. There was even a bit of drool in the corner of it. The image in the box was still the same close-up of Mr. Embries… I would have suspected the cameraman had wandered away, but the focus stayed on him too perfectly even when he shifted slightly.

He was really kind of handsome, in a silver fox kind of way. Kind of dashing, kind of stately, with an odd sort of presence that you could feel even through the TV… he didn’t exactly seem like Steff’s type, though.

“Steff?” I said quietly.

“Shh,” she said.

“Steff, come on, what’s the big deal? You’re drooling over this guy,” I said.

“Shh!” several other people said. I looked up and saw that everyone in the room was as transfixed by the image in the TV as Steff… and apparently the cameraman… were. I stared at Embries, wondering exactly what it was about him that demanded this much attention, but I still didn’t see it. I mean, he was handsome and well-dressed, but he was also… old.

He’d been looking slightly to the side… focusing on the podium, probably, but then his gaze slowly turned and focused on the camera, like he’d just noticed it was pointing at him. As he stared out from the screen, there were a few gasps, sighs, and even a moan from around the room. A look of irritation flashed across his face, and the image in the box flickered away, then became the static image of the fountain again.

“Uh… looks.. looks like they’re having some mystical difficulties there,” Hart said, sounding like he was just waking up. “Well, I guess we have all heard the important parts. Class… um… dis… let’s pick it up on Friday, okay?”

“Dude, who was that old guy?” La Belle said. “I kind of think I want him to eat me.”

“Oh, shut up, Keri,” one of the other front row girls said.

Next: Everybody goes to dinner like nothing happens. Or else something happens. You’ll just have to find out, won’t you?

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66 Responses to “455: Pressing On”

  1. Thomas says:

    I love Mack’s total bewilderment at everyone else’s reaction to Embries…

    Current score: 3
    • Rey d`Tutto says:

      Nothing says half-Demon like resistance to mind control.

      Current score: 6
      • Oni says:

        Indeed. Leads me even more to wondering how long before Mack is invited to brunch.

        Current score: 7
  2. Zergonapal says:

    Hmmm so this is a cover up? Was Mack’s information digested and regurgitated as something more palatable?
    Its interesting how Mack isn’t effected by Embries aura. Amaranth probably had an orgasm if she was watching.

    Current score: 3
  3. Ogg says:

    La Belle is one classy chick.

    Current score: 1
  4. Kolor says:

    “and our pleased to be able to offer them our hospitality…”

    Our/Are confusion, perhaps? Or a missing noun, either way a slight typo. 🙂

    Embries losing his cool enough to affect everyone watching suggest he’s rather annoyed at the proceedings, or at least extremely distracted by them. Maybe his tip was ignored?

    Current score: 0
  5. Jon says:

    > and our pleased to be able to offer them our hospitality

    First “our” -> “are”, please.


    Current score: 0
  6. Anders says:

    Embries’ Aura. Interesting

    Current score: 1
  7. Scarlett says:

    Do they really think that the little bit of non-information is going to help settle things down?? Course it’s still probably better than announcing the information about the mermaids. If they even actually did it. Where are Iona and Feejee anyway?? Are they just lying low or have they gone home?? hmmmmmm

    Current score: 0
    • drudge says:

      My guess is that either

      A: They made a break for it.


      B: FeeJee is the guilty party and thinks she’s safe. Surely her friend Mack has her back on this, right?

      Current score: 0
      • Rethic says:

        Or C the little agreement they had with the family was to send the mermiads off with them for their own kind of judgement.

        Current score: 3
  8. Glenn says:

    I suspect they plan to let the victim’s family watch while Embries kills and eats the guilty mermaid. If it’s Iona, they don’t even necessarily have to tell the family that she was a student, if the fact that she has feathers means that she can fly in her “monster” form.

    Current score: 3
    • Myself, apropos of nothing says:

      Oh, I do believe the winner is you. I think that sort of resolution is exactly the sort that would make the ancient dragon with no need for cash practically beam with happiness over the “resolution” of the little difficulty facing MU.

      Nice episode, AE. Keep on rockin’!

      Current score: 3
      • Myself, apropos of nothing says:

        …though I don’t believe that Iona has feathers, being a mermaid.

        Would her devouring, if she was in fact the killer, make a delicious bonus story?

        Current score: 0
        • Myself, apropos of nothing says:

          I continue to talk to myself… just read Hallowed Halls. She does have feathers. Hmph.

          Current score: 2
      • smashy says:

        just because Embries has no need for cash doesn’t mean he doesn’t WANT it

        Current score: 3
  9. ConstantlyPuzzled says:

    So Dragon’s have an aura of ‘you want me to eat you?’ that’s just several kinds of awesome.

    Current score: 3
  10. Yes Keri. I think we all want that. For you.

    Current score: 6
    • Greenwood Goat says:

      If Embries is watching his cholesterol intake, he’d probably reject her – her head is going to contain too much saturated fat.

      Current score: 3
  11. redbeard says:

    it occurs to me that Embries could have been the predator in the pond. While he has some sanction to prey, he could be enjoying that he has someone else to pin for Leda’s death.

    This depends upon Embries having some form between his human appearance and (true?) dragon form so that his bite could appear to be like that of a mermaid.

    Current score: 1
    • drudge says:

      The imperium has enough experience with dragons that they’d recognise the teeth fairly quickly.

      Besides, Emberies already gets away with devouring his staff as it is. He has no motive for killing Leda.

      Current score: 4
      • Rey d`Tutto says:

        not to mention, if he killed her, there would most likely be no body for teeth marks to be found in.

        Current score: 3
      • Yumi says:

        Plus, the legal term for a dragon killing a mortal (at least according to Mack Daddy) is “death by natural causes,” and it’s not a crime.

        Current score: 5
    • Greenwood Goat says:

      Also, I think Embries would have been able to swallow her whole. Certainly he would have been able to bear her away under cover of the storm. Either way, he wouldn’t have left a corpse behind.

      Current score: 2
  12. Greenwood Goat says:

    That’s the trouble with magnetic personalities – unless you can turn it off, you’ll end up dragon *ahem* dragging every iron *ah* eye on to you. Disabling the camera isn’t a particularly subtle workaround. Of those who were drawn in, we will have to see if anyone ferries themselves over to his maw, though Mack seems to be non-ferrous in that respect…

    Enough puns.

    Yup, I’d say it’s a whitewash, and the real business is yet to be done. Embries got his hot tip in and trousered his reward, the IBF have assessed the legal ramifications of one non-human outlander killing another non-human outlander and decided to wind things up and stand back, and the discreet horse-trading about acts of retribution against that other non-human outlander has commenced. Mike Gregory, who saw this happen in an earlier story, has been given a back seat. It took some heavy bribes and manoeuvering by Clan Sternbauer to square the killing of a human citizen of the Imperium after the fact, but neither of our mermaids are human or citizens. The Lebedevs of Mariinsky Lake will likely neither know nor care which of the two mermaids murdered their princess, and neither will the Imperial authorities at the end of the day. Feejee and Iona would probably be advised to head for the nearest seacoast at this point. And if I can figure this out, so will others in-story. Steff, Lee, Callahan (if she’s ever seen a mermaid’s teeth), Embries and, of course, Agent Gregory will all have a clear view of the writing on the wall, though what they will do about it is another matter. If Mack finds out, she will have a dilemma on her hands.

    Current score: 3
  13. Renshan says:

    I think the local mermaids will face a private resolution at Embries’ dinner table, It might satisfy both him and Leda’s family.

    Current score: 1
    • Sage Blackthorn says:

      You’re assuming that it was Feejee or Iona who attacked and killed Leda. You see, that’s the problem with murder in a universe that has shape-shifters. The evidence that everyone is focusing on is the bite marks, and a shape-shifter by it’s very nature could’ve changed the shape of it’s teeth and the structure of it’s jaw to simulate any other species that suited it. I should also point out that Penn&Teller just did a show on “Forensics”, and interpretation of “bite marks” was on their hit list of techniques that are more art than science.

      Who says that it wasn’t Embries himself that decided to have a late night snack of Swan Under Glass?

      Current score: 1
      • Don says:

        More accurate to say that this is the problem with fiction. When our attention is brought to a loaded gun on the mantle in act one we expect it to be used before the curtain closes. Similarly, if our attention is drawn to a carnivorous beastie or two earlier in the story and there’s a subsequent storyline about someone being eaten then we expect that it IS related.

        If in fact they are not related then that would have to be a plot unto itself, despite how reasonable you point is. It’s not about the universe, it’s about how storytelling.

        Current score: 1
      • drudge says:

        We covered this already. If Emberies did it, his jaw is large enough that he wouldn’t leave much of a body, if any at all.

        The thing is just about no one else knows about mermaid teeth. Everyone is taught early on mermaids DON’T have that kind of teeth, and no one else is aware of this and has a motive as far as we know.

        As well, Feejee and Iona are stupid enough to try this. It meets their social requirements and they just LOVE eating people.

        What other kind of shapeshifter lives near enough to Harlowe to get there in a storm, feeds on sentients in water, knows Leda loves water dancing, and would go through with it?

        Current score: 2
  14. Billy Bob says:

    I wonder if Ella is still alive?

    Current score: 0
  15. Marx says:

    …so, every student in class during the announcement watched that, right?…

    Heh. So, perhaps a quarter of all students @ MU want to be eaten by Embries by now. The ramifications! Hopefully, for the students and for him, nobody’ll figure his name out and tell the others. I have reason to believe he’d very much dislike that amount of attention.

    Current score: 1
    • Marx says:

      ah, yes… of course, those having been present… yes. Much worse for them, because they have a realistic chance at finding out his name without much trouble.

      Current score: 0
  16. Zathras IX says:

    Mitch McSméagol’s
    Official statement offers
    Precious little

    Current score: 3
    • carson says:

      What has it got in its pocketses?

      Current score: 1
    • Greenwood Goat says:

      A journalist’s art:
      Pad out McSméagol’s statement;
      Fill gollum inches.

      Fishing in the dark,
      They’ll write screeds devoid of facts,
      Or the ring of truth.

      Current score: 2
    • wocket says:

      Ha, I was about to leave a separate comment asking what he sounded like when he cleared his throat….

      Current score: 2
  17. Frost says:

    One of these days something straightforward will happen. M. knight-shamalan or however you spell it would be proud xD

    Current score: 0
  18. The Rain King says:

    The political consequences of revealing the predatory nature of mermaids is greater than the public’s need to have the case resolved; if it was indeed the mermaid(s) who did it, Embries is likely being paid by someone – likely the mermaid tribes – to cover it up. The public is too foolish to understand the complex nature of the mermaids’ predation.

    Current score: 2
  19. Yahrlan says:

    Infernal minds are supposed to be very dangerous to come in contact with…Maybe even a dragon can’t touch one ‘en masse’ without injury.

    Current score: 0
    • Gordon says:

      If I remember correctly, Dragons fought the Gods to a standstill.

      It seems unlikely that a being of comparably insignificant power like Mack would be able to injure a a being of Embries’ power. In that manner, at least.

      More likely, Mack’s demonic heritage simply gives her a resistance to passive mental effects, like a dragon’s fear/awe aura.

      It makes me curious, though, as to what would happen if Embries was actively trying to use his aura on Mack.

      Current score: 2
      • bramble says:

        For that matter, I wonder if Embries can “actively try to use his aura” on any level other than choosing to interact with his intended target? I’d think that if he could choose to turn it on and off, he’d have simply stopped entrancing everyone when he noticed, rather than disabling the camera.

        Current score: 3
        • Gordon says:

          Perhaps it’s more effort to turn it off than it is to disable the camera?

          Or, more likely, given the ego of a dragon, he viewed the camera broadcasting his image as the problem, rather than his aura. It’s not like he’s apt to find fault with his own actions.

          Current score: 1
  20. Arancaytar says:

    > Mitch McSmeagol


    Current score: 2
    • Chips says:

      By the prickling in my thumbs…
      Something precious this way comes.

      Precious… oh, my precious…

      Current score: 1
  21. readstospouse says:

    Unexpected, but appropriate. The trouble with involving dragons in your business is that they don’t always act the way you expect.

    Embries should get enough payolla from the shifter and mermaid kingdoms to compensate for his annoyance at the broadcast speech. I suspect both mermaids will leave school and neither will reach the coast.

    Current score: 1
  22. Arancaytar says:

    It sounds as though Mack has an inherent immunity to Embries’ dragonly “awesomeness aura” or something.

    Current score: 1
    • Rin says:

      Indeed, which is somewhat surprising to me. As I recall, the last time Mack had an encounter with vice-chancellor Embries in chapter 421, Q&A, she was most definitely not immune to his aura. Of course, it is possible the television broadcast just transmitted a diluted form of his aura which Mack can more easily resist.

      Actually, reading it back again, even then, while definitely affected by Embries’ aura, it did seem to have less effect on her than it did on Ian and Amaranth. So perhaps she’s not exactly immune to it but merely more resistant and a diluted aura doesn’t really affect her at all.

      Current score: 2
  23. readstospouse says:

    Never thought of it this way before but Embries is probably really pissed at the little mermaids that poached in his territory and disturbed his orderly kingdom.

    Current score: 0
  24. Ylistra says:

    Come to think of it, the two mermaids have access to quite a bit of coin if they call home. Merfolk have more treasure than they know what to do with, and as far as they care it’s just trash.

    It might just be that Embrie’s found an even more lucrative method of spinning the hot-tip information.

    Current score: 2
  25. rummy says:

    Given Mack’s fondness for the idea, almost seems a shame that she’s immune to Embrie’s nom-charm. Almost.

    Current score: 0
  26. Richard says:

    Uh… Am I missing something?


    “Who did you last kill?” – Griz

    Leda, of course.

    Wait, were you serious?

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      I thought that Callahan was pretty clearly being facetious there. She was being pretty cagey about everything she was asked.

      Current score: 1
  27. Botec says:

    I find it interesting that Embries’ draconic aura was transmitted by the television, where Mother Khaele’s divine aura was not.

    Current score: 1
  28. Moose says:

    Wait, didn’t the press conference just say that the reason Leda died was because the protections did not extend to the fountain? Wasn’t the whole issue with mermaids that they felt that any water was their turf? So, could this whole press conference just be a way of saying “we’re sorry, we forgot to tell the man-eating mermaids that they couldn’t nom in the fountain area?”

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      Except that almost no one knows that the mermaids are man-eaters in the first place. By using the “protections don’t cover the fountain” excuse, they’re avoiding what could have been a nasty public panic against any other merfolk living on land, caused by the actions of a couple of stupid college kids.

      Current score: 3
  29. Roadbug says:

    Or it could have been something else that decided to have Leda for a late snack and the mers are actually inocent.

    Current score: 0
    • Drudge says:

      Something else able to get on protected walkways and has a mermaids distinct features?

      Current score: 0
      • Roadbug says:

        There could be more than one critter that matches the bites. It’s also possible that what ever did the deed can fly. Or it could actually been one of the mers. Since there are a variety of shape shifters around, and since some magic users can temporarily change shape with spells, there are more suspects than just the mers.

        I’m just keeping an open mind till I see the next chapter.

        Current score: 1
        • cnic says:

          While even I won’t subscribe to this, we do know dragons can shapechange so Embries could have done it.

          Current score: 0
  30. Growling says:


    “Not in an informed way,” Hart said. “And it seems pointless when we’re going to be find out for sure in… twenty-five minutes. So, let’s talk about Republican History until then.”

    >”going to be find out”<

    Current score: 0
  31. Great post, this is something different yet entertaining, please do continue the good work.

    Current score: 0
  32. Triof says:

    Didn’t La Belle say in an earlier chapter that she didn’t pay to go to uni, ’cause of her scholarship?

    Current score: 0
  33. BlackWizard says:

    This REALLY makes me wonder about all the stories about dragons eating women now…Did the dragon go after them, or did the women chase him down to jump in his mouth? 🙂

    Current score: 1
  34. Dalgorian says:

    New poster but something kind of jumped out at me. When Mack saw a Divinity on TV it had no affect on her because TV is really just an illusion. So why does an illusion of an aura affect the whole class?

    Current score: 1
  35. Lara says:

    The end of this chapter was amazing.

    Current score: 0