462: In Eyeless Sight

on October 7, 2010 in Book 16

In Which Connections Are Made

The blush had yet to fade from my cheeks, and I felt the warmth flaring up into real heat as I approached Ian. That feeling of belonging, of connectedness, seemed to be growing inside me as I looked at him.

And why shouldn’t it? He was the single biggest connection I’d made outside my own dorm. Or the biggest one that had been made with me… it had been more his own initiative and Amaranth’s prompting that had put us together.

Maybe years of being isolated had made isolation a habit for me.

At the start of the school year I’d expected my heritage to disqualify me from friendship or even coexistence with anyone who knew about it. That hadn’t proven to be the case, but I still acted like it was. While Two and Shiel were meeting people based on shared interests despite the obstacles they seemed to face, I still mostly worked under the assumption that no one would share mine. When I thought about the people I’d started to get to know outside of class, or even noticed in class, the names I could match with faces were the people who annoyed me the most.

I felt a stab of impatience with myself and realized that I’d spaced off and lost myself in thought while Ian was watching me, waiting for me.

“Ian, hey,” I said, coming up to him. I had an impulse to give him a kiss on the cheek, but as I got nearer it turned into a desire to kiss him full on the lips.

It seemed like it had been a while since I’d felt so self-conscious about displays of affection with Amaranth, and I wasn’t exactly embarrassed… or that embarrassed… by what I was doing with Ian, but I was surprised by my actions. The feeling of connection, of belonging, that I felt to the crowd behind me meant I couldn’t have pretended that we were alone even if Winnie hadn’t been standing right there in the periphery of my vision.

As soon as I became aware of her standing there I felt another impulse, and lifted my leg up. My thought was to wrap it around Ian’s waist, but it turned out that I wasn’t that flexible, especially in my tight jeans. All I could manage was to sort of rub my leg against the side of Ian’s. He ground his approval against me. I was suddenly very conscious of the way my jeans bound to and squeezed my ass when I moved. That thought seemed to summon Ian’s hand, which showed me what squeezing really felt like.

Winnie cleared her throat beside us, and Ian reluctantly separated himself from me.

“What… uh, what brought that on?” Ian asked.

“Don’t know,” I said honestly. “Just felt like it.”

“I think I like your feelings,” he said.

“I feel I like your thinkings,” I said.

Winnie gave an obnoxiously high-pitched sputtering laugh that seemed to shatter my skull like glass, somehow driving each individual shard right into my brain.

“Oh my kosh, you guys are way too cute to be allowed,” Winnie said. “You should forget about dating anyone else and just get married and have a lot of babies.”

“Yeah, no, I’m never having babies,” I said.

“Never say never!” she said.

It wasn’t a joke, but it was the sort of thing that I just knew she would follow with another peal of painful laughter, and for a moment it really seemed like she would. Then, mercifully, she clamped her mouth shut, a slightly confused look on her face. She shook it off, then waved at someone she knew and headed off without another word.

“Do you mind if we… go off somewhere?” I asked Ian.

“I wouldn’t mind that at all,” he said, looking at me with an expression on his face that made me feel both possessed and coveted at the same time. I blushed. It was a humbling look, both in the sense that it humbled me to realize that Ian could feel that strongly about wanting me, and humbling in the sense that it seemed to say, be humble… lower yourself before me.

Looking at him, I couldn’t really sort out how it said that. Had I always been that good at reading his looks? Probably I was just imagining things… it was far more likely that I was just seeing what I wanted, because I found I really did want to do that, to go down on my knees before him right there in the nexus…

I pushed that thought away. From the way Ian’s head cocked back, it seemed like he was fighting off a similar impulse. There were things that we had to discuss.

“I meant to talk,” I said. “First, I mean. We can also… though, I don’t really want… I mean, I kind of want to do some hanging out down here.”

“Yeah, okay,” he said. “We’ll just tell everyone we need to run upstairs for a minute.”

“I don’t think that’s a great idea,” I said. “Relying on the privacy and security of dorm rooms, I mean.”

“Okay then… um, I guess we could talk outside?” he suggested.

“Oh, right, because the problem with the dorm room is it has too much privacy and security,” I said. “As compared to the open air, in the dark.”

“We’re not going into the dark,” he said. “We’re just going to step outside.” He gestured towards the glass doors behind him, where there was a pretty broad paved expanse lit up. “See? We’ll be well inside the protective glow and in clear view of the public, of which there are a lot of members here, including a giantess with a big magic spear.”

“I suppose that’s true,” I admitted, and he opened the door to usher me out ahead o fhim.

I shrieked and jumped as soon as the blast of cold air hit me… I’d been so focused on the other reasons not to go outside that I hadn’t even been thinking about it. My wonderfully long, warm coat was upstairs.

“Oh, here,” Ian said, shrugging his jacket off and holding it out to me. I was too stunned by the cold to be expecting the gesture, to say nothing of being ready to react to it, and so its soft leather sleeve just brushed against my arm.

Suddenly I wanted to be wearing it, to be wrapped up in the smell and memory of the warmth of Ian’s body, even if such notional warmth would be no match for the actual cold outside.

“Thanks,” I said. I put it on and found that it was heavier and warmer than it had looked. I quickly worked my way through my protective spells.

Ian’s jacket didn’t make for quite as good a focus to hang them on as my own coat did, but they would be better than nothing. Fortified as best as I could be, I headed out into the cold air. If nothing else, I hoped that the frigidity would make it less likely that anybody would come out to see what we were up to, or linger outside if they were just getting back to the dorms.

The eyeless fish-beast was continuing its silent patrol of the sky over campus. Seeing it slither unsupported through the air was unnerving, but at least it didn’t seem to be paying us any special attention.

“Man, that thing is…” Ian said, then shook his head and shivered. “Makes me feel weird.”

“I know what you mean,” I said.

“Vulnerable, you know?”

“Okay, I guess I don’t know what you mean,” I said. “It’s creepy looking but I doubt it’s going to just attack… it’s supposed to be an ambassador or emissary of some kind, I think.”

“Do we know what that job description entails in the under-realms?” Ian asked. “Anyway, I don’t mean vulnerable like that. More… naked. Unprotected.”

“I do see what you mean, then,” I said. “Pala seemed to think that it can read minds, even extraplanar ones.”

“So it could be hearing our thoughts right now?” Ian said.

“Well, at the point where she said it was doing that, it had actually stopped right above us and was pretty obviously paying attention to us,” I said. “Not just circling around the general area.”

“On that subject, it does seem to be sort of hanging out around here,” Ian said. “Didn’t Dee’s people move her out of Harlowe? Was that just her, or the whole underground contingent?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe it’s getting a read on things while they think about moving back?”

“Could be,” Ian said. “Well, there are two disconcerting ideas right there.”

“What do you mean?”

“The chance that it can hear our thoughts,” he said, “and the somewhat larger chance that it can hear our voices.”

We were kind of looking up and talking at it.

“Do you want to go inside and find somewhere?” Ian asked.

“Let’s talk quietly,” I said. Somehow I didn’t think that the nagging feeling that it could be listening in would vanish just because it was out of sight. At least outdoors, I could tell it wasn’t perched in the air directly above me or anything.

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s just move a bit away from the building, all casual-like.”

I leaned into him, clinging to him and let him saunter-walk us over to a point nearer to the edge of the grass than the doors.

“So,” he said, “I think I know what you want to talk about… and I’ve got some things to say, too.”

“Yeah?” I said.

“Yeah… about the uh, whole ‘teeth’ thing,” he said. “If anybody else recognizes them, they’re obviously not willing to come forward… at this point, I think you’ve got to act. Morally.”

“I did,” I said.

“I mean you’ve got to tell someone,” he said.

“That’s what I meant, too,” I said. “Through Lee. I shouldn’t really be talking about the specifics, but I wanted you to know that I’d done something… that I made sure the authorities know what’s going on.”

As I said that, it occurred to me that I didn’t actually have any proof of what Mr. Embries had chosen to tell the Imperial investigators. He’d looked so pleased with himself at the press conference… was he playing his own game of some sort?

“Then you have to do it in a way that can’t be ignored or overlooked… and you’re not sure it hasn’t been, I can tell,” Ian said. “This round-about shit isn’t going to cut it, Mackenzie. I know you don’t want to stick out your neck, and believe me, the last thing I want is for you to take any more stupid risks this semester. But you’ve got to get the powers that be to pay attention to your information.”

“They did,” I said. I didn’t know much about the vice-chancellor, but he definitely qualified as a power that be. He definitely had some kind of power and he certainly was. “They are. They are doing so now.”

“They just got done announcing that it was a random monster attack,” Ian said.

“Did you watch the press conference?” I asked, figuring it would make it easier for him to understand why I was sure that something more was going on if he’d been caught in the vice-chancellor’s influence field or whatever. I knew he’d brushed up against it once before, when we’d gone to the administration building to talk to the investigators.

“No, I just heard people talking about it.”

“Well, the vice-chancellor’s got something up his sleeve,” I said. “Remember him?”

“The old guy?”

“Yeah, ‘the old guy’,” I said.

“He didn’t make much of an impression on me,” Ian said. “I only remember that we met him because Amaranth asked me about it a bit later. I guess he made a bigger impression on her… the ‘sexy grandpa’ thing doesn’t do much for me.”

“Ian, you were gasping at him like someone had sucked all the vital force out of the air,” I said. “Your exact response was something like, ‘What was that?'”

“My response was exactly something like that?” Ian said. “I guess I was just curious who he was, since he knew Jenkins.”

I could tell he was being utterly sincere, which was sort of disconcerting. He clearly remembered the incident, so it wasn’t like there was a hole in his memory that his mind was paving over, as Amaranth’s had done when my pitchfork messed with her mind. On the other hand, it was kind of reassuring to know that the effect Embries had on people could be so short-lived… especially if everybody who had been in a class at five got caught in it.

“Well, anyway… the official statement is not going to be the end of it,” I said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I’m sure they’re not actually washing their hands of everything and walking away.”

“And you’re okay with being part of an imperial cover-up,” he said.

“That’s pretty melodramatic,” I said. “But if it is a cover-up, what happens to me if I go public with the information they obviously don’t want getting out?”

“But why don’t they?” Ian asked. “Who benefits by keeping it silent, except the killers?”

“All of them, maybe?” I said, waving my hand back at the nexus. “Us? Everyone who gets to enjoy a relatively peaceful campus instead of more fear and hatred?”

“Things look quiet now, but people aren’t satisfied,” Ian said. “They’re going to want real closure, and that means real action.”

“It’s not a perfect situation, but things are better than they could be,” I said.

“So that’s the moral,” he said. “It’s okay to protect killers if it keeps things nice and cozy for everyone who hasn’t been killed.”

“I’m not formulating a moral here, Ian.”

“Well, maybe you should be,” he said. “What’s the point of all this happening if we can’t learn something from it?”

“I think the possibility of a moral kind of goes away when you start involving actual murder and government machinations and anything more complicated than like a hen who wants a shiny rock, or something,” I said. “The bad things that happen to people aren’t fables, and they’re not cautionary tales.”

“Is it wrong to learn something from it, then?”

“We shouldn’t be treating it as something to be learned from,” I said. “That’s… creepy, and kind of gross.”

“There are a lot of things about this situation are creepy and kind of gross,” Ian said. “I’m not sure that this really qualifies.”

“You don’t want Leda’s death to be ‘in vain’?” I said. “Would using it to… to… provoke a riot make things better for her, somehow?”

“Would it be so bad?” he asked. He seemed to be very weirdly enthralled by the idea, once it was out of my mouth. “Everybody on campus has weapons… everybody’s got a little training. Would it be so terrible to put that into action, to get out there and do something?”

“Yes,” I said. “It would be a riot. It would be terrible for everyone involved, no matter how tangentially, on both sides, by definition.”

“Okay, granted, some people might get hurt in the process, but better to have injuries from a fight than more deaths from a killer whose existence is being hidden,” he said. “People want to do something… they want action. Before the announcement, there was at least the possibility of closure, but now people are thinking that the thing that killed Leda is still out there… and they’re right about that. You could give them some direction.”

“Direction? Riots aren’t exactly known for their ability to pinpoint targets with elven accuracy. And even if nobody gets hurt, they still will have gone through a riot,” I said with growing conviction. “What do you imagine that’s going to be like? It’s not a battle, it’s not warfare… whatever those things are like. It’s getting swept up in anger and bloodshed… and that’s not even getting into the violence they’d inflict.”

“On killers,” Ian said.

“On anyone they perceived to be killers, or anyone who seemed to be in league with killers in the heat of the moment, or anyone who was in their way, or in arm’s reach,” I said.

“How exactly are you such an expert on riots? Did you see a lot of them?”

“No,” I said. I was unprepared for the question, though I also sort of felt like I’d seen it coming. I was unprepared because I really didn’t have an answer. “I don’t know, Ian… it’s just stuff that’s sort of coming to me, you know? But it all makes sense to me. I mean, this campus has been literally torn apart before… it doesn’t seem too hard to imagine that it could happen again. And anyway, even historical riots where a mob was focused on a single actually convicted killer usually wound up having more victims.”

“So we’re back to doing nothing,” Ian said.

“We’re back to leaving it to people who are equipped to do something,” I said. “We’re not heroes, Ian… we’re first year students. We barely know what we’re doing with our own lives. We’re supposed to take responsibility for things that could affect the lives of everyone on campus?”

“You’re already making that sort of decision,” he said.

“I’m deciding to put my trust in people who are more capable,” I said. “The justice system, or at least the government… okay, yes, I admit that it’s already not going quite the way I’d envisioned it, but that’s all the more reason to let someone else handle it. Things are already out of control enough.”

“If you’re not going to act, you’re not going to act,” Ian said. “But believe me when I say that people want action, and there will be action. It’s just up in the air what kind, and who it’ll be against. You could maybe swing that around so it’s at least facing the right direction.”

“Where are you getting this from, anyway?”

“I don’t know,” Ian said. “The mood on campus? I wasn’t really prepared to say all this before I came over, but it seems kind of obvious now that we’re talking about it.”

“Well, let’s not talk about it, then,” I said. “Because it seems like we’re just digging up more reasons to disagree… and…”

I blushed as the words that were meant to follow that conjunction caught in my throat. I was thinking of the look Ian had given me before.

“And?” Ian prompted.

“I don’t like to disagree with you,” I said.

“Yeah? You could have fooled me.”

“I have a… habit… of arguing,” I said. “But I don’t know that actually enjoy it, in the sense that it makes my life better or happier or anything… and anyway, that’s not really what I meant.”

“What did you mean, then?” he asked, but I had a feeling he’d caught onto my meaning.

“I don’t like to disagree with you,” I said. “Right now, I’d much rather be… agreeable. Really agreeable.”



“Just how much do you trust in the privacy and security of your dorm room?” he asked.

“Enough,” I said.

“Then let’s go inside.”

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79 Responses to “462: In Eyeless Sight”

  1. Zergonapal says:

    That must be the most level headed I’ve ever seen Mack, I feel so proud of her 🙂
    Strange though that Ian is so gung-ho to do something. It seems unusual, maybe the fish beast is stirring things up at a subconscious level? Good thing Mack was there to distract him with her womanly wiles.

    Current score: 1
  2. Dave says:

    Some people just love to argue! And if you get two of them together, sparks can fly. Which makes it very interesting if they’re also lovers. Sure confuses onlookers, who may think they’re enemies if they don’t know what goes on in private! (Not that Mackenxie is very good at keeping her feelings private 🙂

    Current score: 3
  3. Dave says:

    Drat; I wish there was an edit button! I do know how to spell Mackenzie really…

    Current score: 0
  4. Ace Dreamer says:

    Sort of half, a bit, maybe, smells of Mack and Ian being mentally influenced. And the obvious candidate is the Eyeless Fish-Beast…

    Current score: 2
  5. The Iron Muffin says:

    Hey AE…it’s been a while since I posted. About a year, if my sense of time isn’t totally distorted these days. I’m wondering if there is a place where I can find links to all of your stories, as I haven’t thought to check out More Tales, Tribe, or your other stories lately. Would it be possible for you to link to them on the main page, or on the story pages?

    Love the story, as always.

    Current score: 0
  6. Zackury says:

    My suspicion is that Jan HAS watched the annoucement and that he has been influenced by Embries to want a riot – as has everybody else who has watched the annoucement. Not a reassuring thought. I just hope Ian will not turn on Mackenzie.

    Current score: 0
  7. The Iron Muffin says:

    Hey again, AE. A year or two ago, I read a microfiction by you about a child being lured into jumping out of a window by an imp disguised as a fairy. I was looking through your microfiction archives just now, and I can’t seem to find it. I would really like to read it again, where can I find it?

    Sorry for pestering you about this kind of stuff, but I really do dig your writing. <3

    Current score: 0
  8. adam says:

    “I have a… habit… of arguing,” I said. “But I don’t know that actually enjoy it, “

    Should probably read “I don’t know that I actually enjoy it,”

    Current score: 0
  9. Zathras IX says:

    Cautionary tale:
    The bad things that happen to
    People aren’t fables

    Current score: 0
    • ceres says:

      I hope that these are all cataloged in one place somewhere… sometime I’d love to read through the entire story in haiku. 😀

      Current score: 0
      • mafidufa says:

        So would I. I think all the comments on older chapters are lost to us though. Perhaps Zathras IX has an archive stashed somewhere?

        Current score: 0
    • NatalieF says:

      Interesting haiku, almost. There are only four syllables in the first line (as we pronounce it here in the south of the UK).

      Current score: 0
      • Kindred says:

        I think that he pronounces it “caw-shun-air-ree” and not “caw-shun-ree”, which would make it five again. Probably just a regional accent difference.

        Current score: 0
      • Sindri says:

        Cau-tion-a-ry tale. How do you pronounce it?

        Current score: 0
      • Sindri says:

        or rather ˈkɔ-ʃəˌn-ɛr-i using actual IPA.

        Current score: 1
      • Marid says:

        And “People aren’t fables” has six syllables in my southwestern American pronunciation.

        Current score: 0
        • Angi says:

          I thought it was a good one when I read it. Cau-tion-air-y .. and I don’t even grasp how to get six out of the last line. Do you turn aren’t into two?

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

    “I suppose that’s true,” I admitted, and he opened the door to usher me out ahead o fhim.

    should be

    “I suppose that’s true,” I admitted, and he opened the door to usher me out ahead of him.

    Current score: 0
  11. blue_x says:

    This might be an unnecessary post, but I’ve been a part of this community (though most often on the sidelines) for so long I feel like I need to say something. I don’t really know why- maybe the update schedule, the pace, or maybe just because I have been reading this story for so long- but for whatever reason, these days I find myself skimming the chapters instead of really reading them, and I’m actually relieved in the morning when I check and there’s no update, because then I don’t have to spend the time. I realized I’m reading more because of my OCD and habit than because I want to know where the story’s going any more, and I try not to enable my OCD, so I’m deleting my bookmark for Tales of MU.

    I’ll probably check in again someday, and maybe catch up over the summer or some other time when I’m under-scheduled, but for now I wanted to say ta-ta for now. Best of luck to Mack and company, and AE.

    Current score: 0
    • Anders says:

      I know how you feel, I have a mild OCD myself, and it’s pretty complicated. This story is certainly not for everyone, it has a very particular style some of us enjoy. If you feel this is being more a cost than a gain, you are certainly doing well. Stories are to be enjoyed, not suffered.
      Just one advise: if you have OCD, you’ve got to try to say goodbye for good to things that trigger it, or you’ll be back doing them again in no time.
      Be well!

      Current score: 0
  12. Arakano says:

    I am rather certain the eyeless thingee uses psi powers to influence everyone’s thinking, it’s pretty obvious once you read it with that assumption in mind. The question is – in what way/direction/kind is it influencing thoughts?

    Current score: 0
    • Konso says:

      While that is one possibility, I think it might be Mack. I think she’s coming into her mother’s powers. Take a look at this section again “It wasn’t a joke, but it was the sort of thing that I just knew she would follow with another peal of painful laughter, and for a moment it really seemed like she would. Then, mercifully, she clamped her mouth shut, a slightly confused look on her face. She shook it off, then waved at someone she knew and headed off without another word.”
      To me that just screams that Mack shut her up subconsciously….though it might just be my own personal dream for Mack to have her mother’s power and add to her awesome quotient.

      Current score: 1
      • Jacqueline says:

        Yeah, something definitely seems to be influencing people’s feelings (minds in general?) here. Very interested to see what is coming next…

        Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        That’s a very interesting possibility – we always kind of forget about her mother.

        Current score: 0
      • Drudge says:

        She’s half demon. If she had her mothers power anyone she used it one would begin crying blood ala Hissy if she did anything conscious. Dee had to be incredibly delicate when using mind powers on her for the same reason.

        Current score: 0
        • Anders says:

          Sure about that? I wouldn’t totally bet on it.

          Current score: 0
        • Konso says:

          We know that any mind that reaches INTO her gets damaged from the infernal side of her mind. Hissy was able to make basic contact without damage, it was only when Mack (crazy as she was) invited her in fully that the bleeding tears and face clawing happened. It seems possible that if Mackenzie reaches out, either the connection is tenuous enough to cause no damage or that, seeing as it’s a human trait passed down from her mother, the power she uses to reach out is free of demonic taint.

          Current score: 1
        • Zergonapal says:

          Yeah I don’t think so, I mean when Hissy tried to scan her, Mack threw open the windows and went boo. So digging into her mind is a bad idea, that doesn’t preclude her from using her powers consciously or unconsciously without repercussions. Depends on whether AE chooses to have her infernal heritage will have any effect on her psionic abilites. Given that AE will draw from D&D when she feels like it, can anyone thing of a precedent either way?

          Current score: 0
          • Drudge says:

            I never looked very much into psionics, but given the setting alone it seems like she’d need to be particularly careful. I mean as a racial trait she’s already subconsciously messing with emotions and by extention changing lives around her. She’s altering everyone’s lives by just sitting there. If she actually went out and did something she’d need to be very careful and thoughtful about it or else even if they don’t wind up mindraped they’ll probably have some unpleasant effects.

            Current score: 0
      • lurpa says:

        Pretty sure she realized “oh, right, she’s half demon, ix-nay on the abies-bay” and that she’d stuck her foot in her mouth, then walked off.

        Current score: 0
        • Konso says:

          Hmm, while that IS a possibility I doubt it for two reasons. The first being Winnie’s personality (as we’ve seen it so far). If she really thought she had stuck her foot in her mouth I feel like she would be the kind of person to apologize, not stand there looking slightly confused and she would have had no reason to “shake the feeling off”, maybe shrug and accept Mack’s thoughts on the subject of Mack’s own reproduction, but not just walk off without a word. The second being that I don’t think having babies is as big a taboo to everyone else as it is to Mack. Certainly not strong enough to shut Winnie up instantly (maybe it would be strong enough had Mack been able to explain her view on it, but Winnie knows nothing about Mack’s “I’m a horrible, evil, no good, very bad person and anything I could bring into this world would be the same” motto.
          Maybe it’s just me, but I REALLY want to believe that Mack had some influence there.

          Current score: 0
    • fka_luddite says:

      Your argument “it’s pretty obvious once you read it with that assumption in mind” is rather weak. reading with a particular interpretation in mind emphasizes those features that support that interpretation at the cost of those that tend to refute it.

      Current score: 0
      • Konso says:

        That wasn’t my argument at all. In fact the first time I read it, the thought that it might have been Mack never even crossed my mind. I reread the chapter 3 times before I fit the pieces together and came up with my interpretation. It’s also not as simple as “I REALLY want this to happen so I’ll ignore all contradictory evidence” my assumptions are based on the reactions of the characters, the personalities of the characters to produce those reactions, past precedence, and the context that this series of events has happened in. Now lue of simply spouting “You didn’t think it through”…..would you like to present contradictory evidence? No? Then leave me to my musings please =^_^=

        Current score: 0
        • fka_luddite says:

          If you check the indent levels, you’ll realize my reply was to Arakano’s post rather than yours.

          Current score: 0
          • Konso says:

            Sorry, sorry. I was really blitzed last night when I wrote that. I found texts from three of my friends, all along the lines of “Who is Luddy? And why are you crying about him being mean to you?” sooooo….yeah. I’m sorry again? >_< drunk me gets offended far too easily. I shall endeavor to fix that about myself. *shame spiral starts now*

            Current score: 0
  13. Gorgonopsid says:

    Not really the right place, but on the context of Gloria- you don’t have to be invisible to be unseen.

    Current score: 1
    • Gorgonopsid says:

      Oops, that should be Gladys, not Gloria.

      Current score: 1
      • beappleby says:

        Well, it’s a good point – maybe it’s something like the burrow gnomes seem to have.

        Current score: 0
        • Gorgonopsid says:

          Actually, I was thinking more a long the lines of Rita Skeeter’s shapeshifting ability.

          Current score: 0
  14. Drudge says:

    Really though they both make good points. I do however still think Ian is right here. Something is gonna blow no matter what happens, and it isn’t going to be pretty. It may as well blow in th right direction and hopefully AWAY from anyone unrelated at least initially. I mean, if the crowd finishes off the mermaids and decides to swing back and turn on goblinoids they’d no doubt have gone after them anyway.

    Current score: 0
    • Gorgonopsid says:

      Something may blow anyway, but it’s not going to do any good to add fuel (or a potential target) to the fire. As Mackenzie points out, mob justice tends to be ugly and indiscriminate. Discretion is definitely the better part of valor here.

      Current score: 0
    • erianaiel says:

      Yes it is a good idea. About as good as using an air fuel bomb to get that one terrorist out of a building full of hostages.
      The amount of sense in a crowd is inversely proportional to the number of people in it and once you bring out the torches and pitchfork it is going to blindly go wherever it wants. Even if you, by some divine miracle, get it aimed in the direction of the mermaids (already a big if) it is almost certain that this means the crowd will head towards Harlowe, since that is where ‘the monsters’ are hiding. And from there it is inevitable that some of the more fanatical ‘humans first (and only)’ will throw a stone. At that point the crowd will instantly break out in violence and try to destroy Harlowe and everybody in it, because those in the middle and back of the crowd have no idea what really happened but will automatically believe that if those at the front are throwing stones and fireballs they must have good reason to do so. Given where they are at that moment they will almost certainly assume that ‘the monsters’ have attacked and they must defend themselves.
      Inciting a riot in a situation like this is a garantueed way to get a lot of people killed, simply because riots do not think rationally and go after the first target they see as hostile, or simply as ‘the other’. If the situation at campus is as tense as Ian suggests then the authorities are following the best course of action: they are giving a somewhat plausible explanation to diffuse the tension somewhat while working behind the scenes for a permanent solution. Ian is right (and Mackenzie obviously feels the same or she would not be so uncertain about all this) that eventually the authorities must come up with a way to more permanently ease the tension because what they have done is to (hopefully) ease things below the point of immediate explosion but not adressed the underlying causes for that tension (probably a sizeable portion of the students is not happy with having ‘monsters’ on ‘their’ compus).

      From the ease with which you talk about setting a bloodthirsty crowd on a couple of people (one of whom is even innocent of actual crimes at this point!) I gather you have never been in a crowd on the verge of panic or violence. You should count yourself very very lucky that this is the case but please believe me it is a terrible place to be in and something you should never consider this lightly.

      And talking about people being trampled, torn to pieces or being beaten to death as if it is ‘things happen’, shows an appalling lack of empathy.

      Current score: 0
      • Drudge says:

        Nobody is saying people aren’t going to die. Thats going to happen ANYWAY. In the next three weeks another student is going to go missing and wind up dead and eaten suspiciously. Either another Mermaid victim or a mermaid nobody knows anything about in terms of predatory nature. People seem ready to riot and SOMETHING may be pushing them in that direction. If they want to burn something down they may as well be pointed in that direction. I mean lets face it, a government cover up from an empire that cares very little for the actual lives of it’s inhabitants doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing that inspires confidence and its damn well clear the goddess of life doesn’t care about PRESERVING life of any kind aside from her favorite special shiny kids and only then in terms of mass slaughter and burnings. At this point an angry mob is barely a moral step down.

        Current score: 0
        • XIII says:

          If you think so, then in that case let me allow you to consider this. Over the next few weeks Iona MIGHT kill 1 to 5 people for her self to eat.

          Where as inciting a MOB/Riot will likely kill 10 or more accidentally… and even MORE on purpose. Putting people in a state of panic NEVER solves problems.

          The numbers game here is silly to even contemplate as Iona is no mass murderer, at worst a serial killer, at best a purely predatory beast. Which means even though either way people will die, the numbers balance over to working on getting rid of her via slower processes.

          And as for the goddess of life not caring… I’d say NO DUHH, she by definition of being a goddess of LIFE can’t be any more than SLIGHTLY partial without breaking the systems of LIFE ITSELF. You think any ant, tree, grass, mouse… ect WANTS to die and be food?

          Current score: 0
          • Drudge says:

            Of course you’re thinking too small in terms of scale and time. Iona herself within a few weeks will kill MAYBE five people. If she’s allowed much more than that she’ll undoubtedly go after more. If her friends and family at home walk around without incident they’ll kill many times that.

            Again, this is a very unpleasant situation. There is NO right answer here. People WILL die no matter who does what. My stance is that killing a few hundred now is, though rather extreme, far better than letting a few thousand die within the next few years. Obviously I’m pulling those numbers out my ass but it’s better to kill the killers doing it without discrimination by applying discrimination and having a few casualties.

            I’m not sure you know what I’m implying here with Khale. It’s a given she doesn’t care. However several people in universe assume she DOES. It’s not your or me who’s opinions matter here, it’s everyone who just watched her open her mouth directly for the first time in possibly hundreds of years and offhandedly go on about how little they and their families matter before leaving as a NATURAL disaster kills that many over again. It’s something that’d be a given for your or me looking from the outside but in universe it’s got to be kind of shocking.

            Current score: 0
            • Zergonapal says:

              What you think the merfolk at home are all hanging out waiting for the ok from Iona? I really don’t think so, Look people disappearing at sea happens all the time from shark attacks. So people are aware of sea going predators and if a merfolk happens to lure some poor sap off the rocks by jiggling her bountiful chest at them, well thats hardly a first in any genre.
              This attack was labeled random encounter because essentially that is what it was. The drama is all about the fact that the monster was able to circumvent the warded paths that everyone was under the impression made them essentially inviolable.

              Current score: 0
            • Drudge says:

              I didn’t say they were waiting for Iona. I was saying they were eating people right now. And unless someone stops them they’re going to keep going indefinitely.

              “The first in any genre” is a poor excuse. In universe and outside Sooni’s head this isn’t a genre and this isn’t a wild animal or unintelligent monster attack. It’s a planned and culturally enforced mass murder without discrimination. You miss the fact that they CAN choose not to but DON’T, unlike a shark which HAS to keep moving and eats literally anything it can get weather or not it’s actually edible.

              It wasn’t a random encounter with a monster. Again, you seem to be missing the fact that instead of an unintelligent ghoul or dire animal or something you know is lurking and can be circumvented for safety, it’s a student who signed the same forms as you and goes to the same classes, you’ve met in the halls and maybe a few classes a couple of times. And then they murder your horribly. Thats a lot different from going off a path into an area you know has monsters, bringing necessary gear, and letting people know.

              Current score: 0
            • Zergonapal says:

              You seem to forging a path into the realms o speculation here that have little to do with the what is happening in the story. You seem to think its a big deal that humans don’t know that merfolk should be lumped in the same category as other humanoids who willing eat humans. So what. Welcome to the MUniverse, stick to the paths and try not to get eaten. Oh I’m sorry the paths are no longer safe . EVERYONE PANIC!
              Look, Iona is a fishy bitch, but she is not stupid, she is not going to be sitting in a lecture listening to a professor droning on and suddenly act on her her urge to kill someone just because its getting close to lunch. In fact I’m not sure she is even hunting out of hunger anyway and she may even be going a little crazy. Too much white meat in her diet perhaps.

              Current score: 0
            • Drudge says:

              Of course you seem to be thinking it’s no big deal. People die in the MUniverse. This is a fact of life. There are monsters and demons wandering all over the place. They are however meant to be dealt with people trained and armed.

              When you’ve got possibly millions of them suddenly discovered haunting safe paths shit is about to go down.

              Current score: 0
  15. chickybluesky87 says:

    It seems to me that the feelings people are having are sort of being “bumped up” a notch, being felt stronger. Maybe it is the eyeless fish beast, maybe someone else. Who can tell???

    Current score: 0
  16. Karr says:

    Pretty sure Winnie just relized who she was talking with…

    Current score: 0
  17. LlubNek says:

    ‘“But I don’t know that actually enjoy it, …”’

    should probably be either

    ‘“But I don’t know that I actually enjoy it, …”’,
    ‘“But I don’t know if I actually enjoy it, …”’, or
    ‘“But I don’t actually enjoy it, …”’.

    Current score: 0
  18. Oitur says:

    Does it have to be the eyeless thing that’s getting people worked up? Maybe something more sinister? Daddy-o?

    Current score: 0
  19. potatohead says:

    Would Mack Daddy benefit from a campus riot, though? It seems the only outcome would be endangering Mack, and that’s pretty clearly not on his agenda. He seems to be a plotter and schemer, not so much a chaos and mayhem addict.

    Current score: 0
    • Zergonapal says:

      What does a trueblood demon feed on anyway? Maybe chaos and violence is like a drug to demons.

      Current score: 0
      • Anders says:

        Something related to virgins, I’d say, or young girls. He looks more like a devil (lawful evil) than demon (chaotic evil), D&D-wise.

        Current score: 0
        • erianaiel says:

          It was suggested that demons feed on destroying something precious. I am not sure that they need to kill their victims, but it may be that they prefer to. Mackenzie considered herself lucky that she needed something relatively harmless like virgin blood, though she considered it proof of how evil she was that she needed to fear on something pure and innocent like that.
          I got the impression that the less demon blood in one’s ancestry the more harmless the demonic sustenance became. The professor whose name escapes me at the moment needs some human hair once every month, but is subject to the same loss of self control and violent tendencies as Mackenzie when going too long between feeding.

          And I am not so certain that demons -have- to do anything, other than because it amuses them. I can not remember if it is in one of the chapters of ToMU or somewhere else that I read that trying to make deals with a demon is suicidal because there is no way to bind them to it.

          Current score: 0
          • Zergonapal says:

            Boyd, Mackenzie’s Elementalist teacher.

            Current score: 0
            • Konso says:

              Mack Daddy requires ovaries to survive. He said so himself in the Q and A section. It appears that a complete organ or complete consumption of a trait (i.e. youth or beauty) are in the highest order of demon food….moving quickly down the line to something simple like hair.

              Current score: 0
            • Drudge says:

              He said LIVE for Ovaries. Given how much importance he places on Kids and how he never reveals anything directly it’s up for debate if he was being literal.

              All appetites are not equal though. Mercies half demons eat eyes and livers, with her new thirds requirement being a mystery.

              Of course, its apparent that Mackenzie got off easy because of a combination of luck and selective breeding. I mean it’s not like blood is as lethal as tearing out a vital organ, and everyone keeps going on about her family.

              Current score: 0
  20. Alar the Stormbringer says:

    I don’t comment very often (I believe I may have commented once) but I’m currently very worried about the mental state of Mackenzie.

    First of all, why the hell hasn’t she told Ian about what Iona did earlier? Iona pretty much threatened to kill her, and said that she would be going out killing more people. Ian is one of the closest people to her. If she’s not willing to tell him, then who is she going to tell (if anyone)?

    Also, why didn’t she inform Pala about Iona as well? If she really was trying to be fair and considerate of Pala, she would have gone into more detail as to what happened and told Pala that she had potentially failed in her bodyguarding assignment. Pala would want to know this so that she could improve in the future and not make the same mistakes. Also, the fact that Pala seems to be such an honest and straight-forward person means she wouldn’t want that sort of thing hidden from her, and that she would be able to take it fairly well.

    Really, I’m just worried that Mack is going to end up not telling anyone and that she’s going to get attacked by Iona and it will be partly her fault for not telling anyone.

    Current score: 0
    • Gorgonopsid says:

      Mack is terminally naive. Emphasis on the terminally.

      Current score: 0
  21. Bau says:

    “He ground his approval against me.” Groaned, maybe?

    I’m surprised Mack didn’t pull the obvious argument — if there’s a riot hunting for the killers, it’s going to be at “the monsters”. That’s going to paint a really huge and obvious marker on Harlowe.

    So Embries’ influence is that powerful. Can’t really say I didn’t see it coming, since eventually someone would put two and tow together. Mack got some hints from the phone conversation, but she hasn’t gone all the way, at least yet…

    Winnie’s laugh (whinny?) still has that effect on Mack, apparently. I wonder when she’ll try to get into that. Probably never, since people are generally very good at not thinking about what they don’t want to remember. Kinda like random people under the Embries’ effect.

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      Um, I think he’s showing his approval of her wrapping her legs around him by grinding his crotch against her…

      Current score: 0
  22. Mime says:

    I’m currently reading through the story again since it has been so long since I’ve read the first chapters, and it just came to me to think about how exactly they know what it is that the partial demons NEED to eat to survive.

    Current score: 1
    • JS says:

      Good question. Suspension of disbelief?

      Current score: 1
      • EvilToast says:

        Maybe they test them on a list of acceptable human parts (i.e. hair and blood), and if they don’t make the list they assume they need deadly stuff and off em.
        Wonder if Mack was tested by granny or did she have to be taken to one of those places they keep unwanted part demons. You would think any kind of government would want an official record of how many half demons they got and what they need.

        Current score: 1
    • Konso says:

      It has got to be an instinctual thing. I only have one good example for my theory, but when Professor Bohd accidentally starved herself and went crazy, she was found chewing on someone’s hair. Her crazy demon half (err sixteenth?) didn’t just start chowing down on somebody….it went after what it needed first. My best guess is that when they get hungry they start craving the part they need, and that Mack doesn’t have experience with her hunger (and her need flows through almost every other part as well) so she can’t pinpoint her hunger as accurately when she losses it.

      Current score: 0
      • Mime says:

        Good point, But the whole virgin blood thing how did they find out she needed the virgin and not any other kind did they just realize that she needed blood but got worse with the adult kind and so they tried a child’s blood?
        Even with the way that her grandmother deals with demons i just can’t see her just trying it out of the blue like that or did Mack’s father possibly inform her mother about what was likely?

        Current score: 0
        • Konso says:

          Mack has said before that non-virgin blood has a heavy taste, so she can tell the difference by taste alone. She also commented when she went crazy (both starved crazy AND pitchy crazy) that she knew a non-virgin’s blood wouldn’t get rid of her hunger. Maybe it was a combination of her grandmother’s knowledge and her statements as a child i.e. she mentions being able to smell someone’s blood through their skin and granny’s ears perk up…but when generic blood leaves her still hungry granny knows the next thing to try is virgin blood.

          Current score: 0
  23. Pyra says:

    I think, while speculating is nice, I am content to wait and see what AE will do. =)

    Current score: 0
  24. JerK says:

    Mack is unbelievable. How do you go outside to tell someone extremely important and then forget about it two seconds later? Her short term memory is seriously crap.

    Current score: 0
  25. Firebat says:

    Errrr… Did Mack just kind of forget that Iona literally confessed to killing Leda and several other student?

    Current score: 0