495: Easing Along

on March 16, 2011 in Uncategorized Chapters

In Which Mackenzie Gets Committed

One immediate effect of the hours I spent with Teddi on Saturday was that by virtue of being an interruption to our weekend plans it helped the life I went back to afterwards feel normal again. What was normal, if not a word for the parts of your life that get interrupted by other things?

The others, now plus Shiel, were playing Shiel’s war game when I got back. I hadn’t been expecting it, but I wasn’t terribly surprised… I had been gone for hours, and others had wanted to play. Two had gone to see if her friend Hazel was back and if she wanted to play. There were two games going at the moment, with Ian playing Shiel and Steff playing Dee.

The questions about how my session went didn’t go beyond “How did it go?” and my answer of “Good, I think.” wasn’t scrutinized, which was nice. It was good to be able to just sort of slip back into things.

“Do you want in on our game, Mack?” Steff asked me. “If you jumped in with a fresh army, you’d probably stand a pretty decent chance of catching up even as a newbie.”

“Yeah, still not interested in playing army,” I said. “Thanks.”

“I’m not interested in war myself, in particular,” Shiel said. “Violence for self-defense and even pre-emptive strikes can be justified to secure rights, but armed struggles and the periods of chaos they cause tend to go poorly for the least powerful groups. I’m more interested in the tactical side of it. Every situation is like a puzzle, and finding the right tactics will unlock the solution.”

“I can see the intellectual appeal of that,” Amaranth said. “Though, I wonder why you couldn’t get the same effect using something more abstract than warriors holding weapons? I mean, I know they’re not actual people fighting and dying, they’re just game pieces. But if it’s just about problem-solving, why not go all the way and just have different game pieces?”

“Well, it’s not just problem-solving,” Shiel said. “Not even for me, and of course other people play for their own reasons. I suppose on a practical level, it keeps things easy to relate to and allows more diversity in choices. I mean, if you changed the generic infantry to Unit Type 1 and the generic cavalry to Unit Type 2 and made their pieces abstract symbols or numerals, there would be nothing about the 2s that told you at a glance that they cover more ground in a move, or why. And there’d be less reason to make up different subtypes. If goblins on wolf-back or riding on giant swamp rats became Unit Type 2.50 and 2.51, what would the point be?”

“Making them people lets you turn it into a story,” Steff said. “I think you’d like that, Mack.”

“Okay, but it’s still big troop movements and all… that’s not what interests me in fantasy or in history,” I said. “It’s the individual stories. I mean, when I did modern Magisterian history in high school, our text books was this super patriotic one that focused on all the ‘adventuring opportunities’ that imperial troops had during the Chaos Wars and all the little conflicts that followed it, but the part that interested me were in the sidebars where they had personal accounts from people who’d served, or people who’d been there during a battle. That’s something I can get into.”

“So give the little people names and make sure you have one of them tell the others about his girl back home just before you move them into arbalest range,” Steff said.

“Maybe you’d be more interested in roleplaying games, then,” Ian said.

“Yeah, can you picture me sitting around on Friday nights playing Subways and Scientists?” I said.

“Yes,” Steff and Ian said at the same time.

“Anyway, Shiel,” I said. “To get back to what you were saying… how does the puzzle-solving approach even work when the movement of the other pieces are controlled by someone else?”

“You have to look at your opponent as being part of the puzzle,” Shiel said. “If I’m playing against a seasoned player, I have to expect that they’ll recognize certain gambits, but because of that I also can predict their responses to a degree. When I play against Hazel, I have more freedom to move but I also have to react more within the moment. She’d probably win half her games out of luck if she played against some of the tournament players in the warrens. They’re too used to playing against people who share the same unspoken assumptions that they do.”

“But even if you’re doing everything ‘right’ and you’re tailoring your tactics to your opponent, you could still lose,” I said. “I mean, they could be doing the same thing, or they could realize what you’re doing.”

“Yes,” Shiel said. “But that’s life. Sometimes you do everything right and you still lose. We call that… well, the word is bolkub, but it translates as ‘cave-in’. Because nobody does any new excavation on a whim. Everything is checked, double-checked, and triple-checked. All the tools and materials used are enchanted as powerfully as the armaments and fortifications we use at the outer layers of the warren. But sometimes, even with all that…”

A tic of sorts passed over her face that gave me the impression that her skin was shrugging.

“Sometimes the best-played game ends in a bolkub,” she said.

“What do you do then?” I asked.

“Lose,” she said.

Two came back, and after exchanging greetings, she said, “My friend Hazel says to say that she’ll be more than happy to come and teach Shiel a thing or two about that game of hers if Amaranth thinks she can keep her mind and her mouth on her own business.”

“Oh, well, that’s terribly mature of her,” Amaranth said. Two was looking at her expectantly. She added, “It’s not like she’s going to be able to avoid this forever. What’s she going to do when she’s ten months pregnant?”

“What happens at ten months?” Shiel asked. “Is that when the fetus becomes public property?”

“What? No..”

“I guess it’s still none of your business, then,” Shiel said.

“I am inclined to agree,” Dee said. “Perhaps you should take into consideration that her recalcitrant attitude towards discussing the matter with you does not necessarily equal recalcitrance in ‘dealing with’ it.”

“But if she won’t even admit to herself…”

“What she admits to herself is known to herself,” Dee said. “It may or may not resemble anything that she admits to you.”

“Two’s still waiting for a real answer,” Ian pointed out.

“Oh!” Amaranth said. “I’m sorry… Two, please tell Hazel that her business is her business, I guess.”

“That’s okay, I forgive you,” Two said. “Please excuse me while I tell her that.”

When she came back with Hazel a minute or so later, I really thought Amaranth’s eyes or mouth were going to leap out of her skull, but she restrained herself.

“That’s right,” Hazel said, and that’s all she said before negotiating her entry into Ian and Shiel’s game. If the miniature stone warfare held any appeal for me, it was the social aspect, and by that I meant it was fun to watch Hazel valiantly try to convince herself, Shiel, and possibly the tiny soldiers that she was winning. She was like a one woman wartime propaganda department.

At least she seemed to be having fun, and maybe that was the key to her outrageous bravado… she wasn’t trying to beat Shiel, she was enjoying the process of losing. In an actual war, there would probably be worse people to be stuck in a desperate situation with than Two’s friend Hazel.

Steff and Dee’s game was a good deal quieter, and had been even before Two brought Hazel in. It was kind of weird to watch the two of them doing something together. With the game in between them, there was a level of comfort they didn’t usually show. There were so many reasons the two of them might not have worked as friends. There was the racial rivalry that Steff couldn’t shed no matter how much she outwardly rejected elven attitudes, and to Dee Steff was not just other but lesser, no matter how much she might protest otherwise. They were both prejudiced, but both were better than their prejudices.

Amaranth, Two, and I were spectators, though Two was engaged with the games much more than Amaranth and I were. There were times where she pointed out a missed opportunity or a rule infraction in the making… though never to Hazel, which made me wonder if Amaranth wasn’t the only one to be given a topical ultimatum. It hardly mattered, though, since Shiel caught Hazel’s errors anyway.

Saturday gave way to Sunday, where a trip to the library helped me slide a little bit closer to normal. Not the old, familiar normal, if there had been one… a new normal, with some comforting features. The very structure of the week did a lot to help people adjust to things, I realized… you did something for a few days and it was new and different and maybe scary or uncomfortable and you kept waiting for it to click. Before it could, though, here comes a break in the rhythm and then you’re back it. Something like going to class didn’t become a routine on its own… it was going back to class after a break that made it feel like one.

I received a brief and apologetic a-mail from Lee that explained nothing but said that he would understand if I would prefer to seek other representation and that he would do what he could to help me find it.

I didn’t respond immediately, because I didn’t know how to respond to it… I thought if Lee were trying to drop me as a client he’d be more direct about it, so it seemed like he really sincerely believed I’d want nothing to do with him. Unless the encounter in Embries’s office had been his idea, and I doubted that, I couldn’t see why.

It was Wednesday afternoon before I knew it, and that meant I’d made very little headway on the sheets Teddi had given me. Teddi was understanding about it.

“Remember what I said about writing?” she asked.

“And not knowing what to write down?”

“Yes,” she said. “Narrowing your gaze like this is a necessary step, but it’s a skill that has to be learned. Have you ever kept a journal?”

“I’ve tried it, in the past,” I said. “I couldn’t really make a habit of it, and anyway, I was always more interested in things that were happening to other people, or things that weren’t happening to me.”

“Like journalism?”

“More like fiction,” I said.

“Well, let’s try something else then,” she said. “Between this session and the next one, I want you to make a note… mental note, or a written one if necessary… any time you find yourself saying or thinking something like ‘Sometimes, it just feels like…’ or ‘I don’t understand why…’. Those are the sorts of things that might make good starting points. They seem to work for other people.”

“So, is there anything we can actually do now besides just talking?”

“You seem to expect me to tell you that it’s pointless to be here,” she said.

“I guess I have low expectations,” I said. “Not about this, or you, specifically… just in general. I can’t exactly get away from the fact that you’re working at a handicap with me.”

“Well… I’ve already told you how we can try a mental contact, but your… conscientiousness… about that has me researching other alternatives,” Teddi said. “For instance, there are spells that allow communication through thought.”

“Wouldn’t they have the same problem?”

“As it happens, no,” Teddi said. “If a spell picks a word out of your head and conducts it to mine, it’s no more a direct mental contact than when you do the same with your voice. It still wouldn’t be the same thing that I’m used to doing, but I’ve been told by my colleagues in the College of Communication that if such a spell is properly attuned… or rather, improperly attuned so as to suit our purposes… it can pick up stray thoughts, things lurking beneath the surface, bits of memories, and so on.”

“I’m not sure I want to be the test homunculus for someone’s mind-magic,” I said.

“Alright,” Teddi said. “I just wanted to show you that there are possibilities out there. Do you mind if I keep looking into them?”

“No,” I said. “Feel free.”

“Okay, so if you don’t have anything specific you want to address, how about we go back to something you said last time?”

“Okay, sure,” I said.

“You said you could do a lot of damage, if you were careless,” Teddi said. “And that you had done ‘some’ damage already. Would you mind if we explore that?”

“The damage?”

“The feeling,” she said. “The fear. Do you see yourself as a threat, Mackenzie?”

There was a cold prickle of suspicion in my stomach, as involuntary a reflex as Amaranth’s need to help Hazel sort out her troubles or Steff or Dee’s reactions to each other. I could imagine someone from Law or the IBF poring over my file and saying “Gotcha!” or “Aha!” or something when they find the part where I admit I think I’m a threat to others.

“I’m not sure that I’d say it in those words,” I said.

“Noted,” Teddi said. “Or, unnoted.”

“My girlfriend… she’s immortal,” I said. “Not just ageless but immortal. I mean, it’s sort of situational but nothing I can do here could harm her in the long term. But I can still hurt her. She’s… been burned. Anybody else, any of my friends… some of them could defend themselves if something went wrong, but if I just lashed out with all my strength at the wrong moment…”

“How often do you use all your strength?”

“Never, that I can think of,” I said. “But I’m clumsy, and I’m kind of impulsive. I’ve been known to overreact.”


“Not so much, I guess,” I said. “But if I can’t control my emotions, it could happen anyway.”

“Let’s follow that, then,” she said.

I did my best to explain to her how violence made me feel… the practiced disdain I put on for those who reveled in it, and the very real and very visceral churning of my gut at being involved in it… and even the perverse hunger for it I’d felt when under demonic influence, notably my own. That was difficult to talk about. It took up a lot of the session without actually going anywhere or resolving anything, but getting that out still felt… well, it wasn’t an accomplishment, exactly, but it was something.

“The really awful thing is,” I said, “is that if I’m honest with myself… what worries me the most is what would happen to me if I did something bad. The consequences to me. I mean, I’d be devastated if I killed someone, but… I’d also be dead, most likely.”

“It’s not easy to face that as an eighteen-year-old,” Teddi said.

“But other people do,” I said. “It’s a dangerous world.”

“It is, but a surprisingly large number of people go for years without giving a thought to how dangerous it can be,” she said. “It sounds like you can’t avoid it.”

“Well, it’s not like I spend every day thinking about death,” I said. “Or that it even comes up that often in so many words… my grandmother sort of managed to instill in me a generalized terror of it. Of… messing up, and then being killed. She made it very clear that she’d be the one to do it, but she also made it clear that if she didn’t someone else would. She used to keep buckets by my bed, two with regular water and one with holy water, in case I had an ‘accident’. When I got better at controlling my fire, she got rid of the regular water, but the holy water stayed. When I left for good, I thought about kicking it over out of spite, but… well, I gave it a wide berth. I’m honestly surprised I don’t have a bucket phobia.”

“That’s pretty poor parenting,” Teddi said. “To put it mildly. Could you feel the sanctity of the water?”

“It didn’t exactly radiate divine energy, no,” I said. “I figured it’s sort of inert. I might have, if I’d held my hand over it or something, but I didn’t ever do that.” I thought about the demonstration my grandmother had given me, with her own hand and the hot oil, but I wasn’t ready… wasn’t able… to share that yet.

“My understanding is that water doesn’t hold sanctity any better than it holds magic,” Teddi said. “Outside of a specially consecrated vessel, it becomes just plain water pretty quickly. Even a holy vessel can’t keep it in if it’s open… that’s why clerics reconsecrate the fonts in the temples so often.”

I realized as she said this that I knew it… that was pretty much a fundamental property of water. It was pure. It washed things away. The very reasons that so many religions liked it symbolically made it a poor choice for a sacramental liquid.

“Even if she was bluffing about that, I don’t think she was bluffing in general,” I said. “And even if it was just regular water… well, maybe she didn’t want me to be killed or maimed accidentally. She could have blessed it herself as she dumped it over me.”

“True,” Teddi said. “And I don’t want to minimize what she did to you, either. The effects were the same, regardless.”

“So, yeah… I grew up with it being pounded into my head that tomorrow or the day after I would probably go on an evil rampage and be slain,” I said. “And I still have that in my head, even when I’m trying to plan for the future… which I am. I mean, I’m in college to try to have a life and a career, and I’m making plans for the summer, sort of.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Not going home, for one thing,” I said. “I mean, back to my grandmother’s. I have the opportunity to stay on campus, helping one of my professors and going to classes during the summer, but… well… I’m starting to appreciate the importance of breaks in life.”

“What’s that?”

“They let you come back to things,” I said. “The funny thing is that I’ve gone from thinking I’m mostly going to be killed in my sleep one night to facing the prospect of living halfway to forever. I’d never really thought about how long half-demons live. Half-elves can live for centuries, if not millennia, and they probably inherit more of the ‘mortal failing’ stuff since both of their parents are from this plane. If I don’t die tomorrow, I could live a thousand years… but all I really want is to have a life. A lifetime. And now that I’m thinking about it, it almost feels like these few years could be the most dangerous ones of my life.”

“More dangerous than living with a woman who threatened to kill you in your sleep?”

“Well, back home… when I was in high school, I mean… she sort of protected me, too,” I said. “She made it clear that she would ‘destroy’ me, but she was also going to wait until I did something to deserve it. Here, I’m more on my own. Whatever consequences would or wouldn’t fall on someone who messed with me, there’s no… well, I mean, I’d like to think that if someone out-and-out murdered me there’d be a criminal investigation and all, but for someone who sees me as a threat or a monster or a non-person it’s all really diffuse and abstract compared to having someone specific in their face saying ‘no, you can’t kill her’. Back home, my grandmother was a force in the community. No one would mess with her. Here, if someone looks at me and thinks, ‘I could make the world a better place by taking her out of it,’ what’s to stop them?”

“Have you been attacked often?”

“Not on a daily basis,” I said. “And more often by the people in Harlowe than by random human students. But it would only take one person who doesn’t think there will be any consequences for killing a half-demon or doesn’t care.”

“Wouldn’t that have been true back home, too?” Teddi asked. “It must have crossed your mind that someone might not have had as much respect for your grandmother.”

“My world was smaller there,” I said. “I’m pretty sure there are more people living on campus than there were in the town I grew up in, and that includes the outlying farming communities.”

“So it’s a matter of odds,” Teddi said. “But the world is a bigger place than MU… why do you think you’d feel safer outside it?”

“Fewer people would know I’m a demon,” I said. “Okay, yeah, I’ve attracted a bit of attention, but if I keep my head down for the next three years, then who out there is going to know who I am?”

“Do you think hiding would feel safer”

“Not hiding, so much as not revealing,” I said.

“Do you regret revealing yourself as a half-demon?”

“It happened,” I said. “It wasn’t really my choice. Circumstances just sort of piled up on me…”

“And these circumstances are unique to a college campus?”

“Possibly,” I said. “Possibly not. I guess I don’t really know if I’ll be able to keep the secret any better out in the ‘real world’… but it’ll be another chance to try.”

“And if it doesn’t work out, will you pick up and move? Keep your head down for another four or five years? Like you said, you could live a very long time… if you don’t get this right the first hundred times, you might have a chance to try again.”

“Yeah, I see your point,” I said. “Really, I don’t want to live a life in hiding or on the run… and that’s why I think I’d probably be dead if I did screw up. Even if I could run and get away, I wouldn’t be a college student, I wouldn’t grow up to be an enchanter, I would never have a good house and a good life… I’d be another monster hiding in the wilderness, skulking around the edges of civilization… which I suppose means that in a really fucked-up sense I’m afraid of turning out like my father.”

“That isn’t particularly ‘fucked-up’,” Teddi said. “It’s a good thing to be concerned about, as long as you’re doing so healthily. Did you ever meet your father?”

“Yes and no,” I said, then made the decision to not talk around this at all. There were enough impediments in our conversation as it was. “He comes to me in dreams sometimes… I know it’s actually him, or actually someone and not just me because they aren’t like my regular dreams. They’re more coherent, lucid.”

“That’s actually pretty common with dream visitations, when one mind is sharply stronger than another,” Teddi said. “There are no hard or fast rules about anything relating to dreams, but if one party is asleep and the other party isn’t, the conscious party can usually exercise a fine degree of control or impose a viewpoint.”

“So much for the ‘this is my dream’ thing,” I said. “I suppose that only works in television shows.”

“If it is your dream, then you do ultimately have certain powers, usually including the ability to wake up,” Teddi said. “Lucid dreams are often fairly easy to wake up from. If it happens in the future, you might try that.”

“That’s… really kind of obvious, in retrospect,” I said.

“Well, it’s why they pay me the shiny bucks,” Teddi said. “What does your father do in your dreams?”

“He tries to give me advice, mostly,” I said. “At least, that’s what he tries to pass it of as. Just fatherly advice… but he does things like refer to people as insects, and one time he was dismembering people, which kind of undermines his whole ‘really-I’m-just-a-concerned-father’ routine. He’s… not the sort of person you’d want to take advice from. But even when he’s not really hiding the fact that he’s evil, he’s still… well, there’s something compelling about him. I’d really like to be able to shut him out for good.”

“That is something I might be able to help you with. I’ll have to do some research. It’s a difficult situation,” Teddi said. “You probably realize that things could get complicated for you if you sought any official help in dealing with him, right?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m hoping that he’ll lose interest, but I’m not sure that’s worth hoping for. It seems like he was already willing to wait until I moved out from my grandmother’s house.”

“So, you think he has plans for you.”

“I’m sure he does,” I said.

“Do you have any idea what they are?”

“No, and I don’t want to know,” I said. “If he offered to share them with me, I’m sure whatever he’d tell me would just be like a wriggling bit of bait on the end of his hook. Steff, my… well, you know who Steff is. She said something like, when you’re dealing with someone you know is untrustworthy, you don’t figure out if each thing they say is worth trusting or not. That’s what untrustworthy means.”

“I’m not sure I would endorse that absolute a view as good advice when dealing with people in general,” she said. “But there is some truth to it. A person… and I’m talking about denizens of this plane in particular… is not categorically trustworthy or not, but there are points where you have to go, ‘This isn’t worth my time. This isn’t worth the grief.’ And I have the impression that you’ve been learning that.”

“Yeah, I suppose I have,” I said. “If there’s a big moral to my first taste of semi-adulthood, I suppose that’s it.” I realized then that I knew where I needed to start. I realized right after that realization that we were getting near the end of the session. “Um, in case I forget, could you please make a note to ask me about Puddy next time?”

“Duly noted,” she said, and because she picked up her tablet when she said that I realized that she hadn’t written anything down before that. “On the subject of noting things, I’d like to ask you to try something for next time.”

“Okay,” I said. “What?”

“When I said you should write it down if you find yourself thinking ‘sometimes it just feels like…’, I was only half-joking,” she said. “I’d like you to forget about the sheets and try to keep a journal. Write down what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling. This isn’t homework. You’re not going to be graded on it. You don’t even have to show it to me, but if you do it, it might help you see patterns that you’re missing, or pick up on threads that you’d want to address if only you knew they were there.”

“If therapy and writing are so much like each other, what makes you think I’ll be any better at dealing with a blank page?” I asked.

“Nothing in particular,” she said. “But when one thing doesn’t work, you try another one.”

“I’m sorry I’m so difficult to work with,” I said.

“None of that,” Teddi said. “I told you that you’re not my challenge for the year. You know, a lot of people end up doing the ‘Oh, by the way, here’s what’s really on my mind.’ thing as they’re on the way out the door, and they don’t commit to talking about it next time.”

“I guess I did commit to talking about Puddy, huh?” I said.

“Oh, you can still back out,” Teddi said. “This early in the process, if it comes to a question of you showing up versus staying away in order to avoid dealing with something, I’d rather you show up… and I mean that. Mental healing can be a struggle, but sometimes we have to ease our way towards a place where we have the strength to conduct that struggle. As long as I can tell you’re easing, I’m always going to think it’s worth your time to be here.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll try to remember that.”

“I’ll send you another reminder.”

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141 Responses to “495: Easing Along”

  1. For those who missed it on Twitter, I’m going to be doing a Wednesday-based update schedule for the next two chapters, which will wind up volume 1.

    Current score: 0
  2. SilverMoon says:

    Teehee, “Subways and Scientists” 🙂

    Current score: 2
    • Sapphite says:

      That’s the best alternate/future name I’ve ever heard. I think it would shatter the 4th wall if she actually played though.

      Current score: 0
      • Chips says:

        I still like “Papers and Paychecks,” from AD&D.

        Current score: 0
  3. Matt Doyle says:

    Subways and Scientists! This is going to be stuck in my head for *days*, making me alternately laugh and groan.

    By which I suppose I mean: great job!

    Current score: 0
    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      Wish they’ll eventually play it so we know what its like but doubt it, it was probably only meant as a clever name 😛

      Current score: 1
  4. Miss Lynx says:

    “Subways and Scientists” was pretty funny (as was Steff and Ian’s instant “Yes!” to whether they could see Mack playing it), but my favourite exchange in this chapter was:

    “What happens at ten months?” Shiel asked. “Is that when the fetus becomes public property?”

    “What? No..”

    “I guess it’s still none of your business, then,” Shiel said.


    Current score: 4
  5. Zergonapal says:

    “….who Steff is. She said something like, when you’re dealing with is untrustworthy, you don’t figure out if each thing they say is worth trusting …..”

    Missing some words I think.

    I would just like to say I thought the transition from the weekend to Wednesday felt really natural and smooth. Nothing really happened that Mack felt necessary to dwell on, is what I took from that.
    Its a good way to move the timeline along without bogging down in every little detail. Not that I wouldn’t have minded more class chapters or dinner table discussions 🙂

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  6. Kaila says:

    Because it still bears mentioning: Teddi is awesome.

    Current score: 0
  7. Oitur says:

    Typo report:
    “…here comes a break in the rhythm and then you’re back it. ”

    I like “bolkub”–you do everything right and lose anyway. Been there done that.

    Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      Typo Report

      I was going to mention that one myself. Seems to be a word missing after “back”. Probably “in” or “into”.

      I mean, when I did modern Magisterian history in high school, our text books was this super patriotic one

      I think the words “one of” are missing in front of “our text books was”.

      “The funny thing is that I’ve gone from thinking I’m mostly going to be killed in my sleep one night to facing the prospect of living halfway to forever.

      Westley: Why won’t my arms move?
      Fezzik: You’ve been mostly-dead all day.
      So most of her is going to be killed in her sleep? How’s the rest of her going to be killed? XD This is badly worded. Of course this is Mack talking so this might just be the way she misphrased herself, but it would be more correct for her to have said “from mostly thinking I’m going to be killed” or alternatively “from thinking I’m most likely going to be killed”.

      “At least, that’s what he tries to pass it of as.

      Classic “of”/”off” switch.

      Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        Perhaps “I’ve gone from mostly thinking I’m going to be killed in my sleep”…

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      • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

        Having holy water dumped on you if you flamed in your sleep would mostly kill you in the process of waking you up. Once awakened she would die of her injuries. after waking up. Also with scalds/acid burns that severe she would probably wake from sleep only to nearly immediately pass out from the pain and then expire in that state.

        Hence mostly in her sleep. 😛

        Current score: 0
  8. Silver says:

    Heh, my friends and I have been getting together to play D&D… er, S&S… on Friday nights for about 6 months now. Our current adventure has been actually dealing with subways and/or scientists pretty extensively. I could totally see Mackenzie and crew getting into it.

    Also, waiting to see what sort of surprises Volume 2 holds in store.

    Current score: 0
  9. Bau says:

    Where can I pick up a copy of Subways & Scientists? Sounds like an awesome game, really. You could even get Subway to sponsor it.

    Current score: 0
    • Durragh says:

      i want to see the monster manual “you burst thru the door and find a level 3 ticket booth operator” or traps like the “information kiosk of mis-direction”

      Current score: 3
      • Krail says:

        I imagine they’d probably fight a lot of robots and dudes with guns.

        Current score: 0
  10. avire says:

    i have got to incorporate s&s in my campaign evej if i am the only who gets the reference

    Current score: 0
  11. If you can think of anything else I can do to bore you, please don’t hesitate to suggest it.

    Current score: 0
    • Tierhon says:

      Muhahahaha (you rock AE)

      Sometimes life is dull, but that is also what keeps things interesting.

      As far as I know the pregnancy was a subplot. And in addition to that, an abortion (if that is what happened) isn’t necessarily the end of that episode of Hazel’s life. It could be, but sometimes in real life that is just the start of the drama. As this is the story of Mack’s life we won’t know everything that did or didn’t happen in Hazel’s life (even if AE did script it out for background purposes) unless it becomes a part of or known in Mack’s “World View”

      AE I like the way you’ve been weaving plots and subplots in the story, and am of the opinion that the good authors don’t and shouldn’t resolve every plot point, especially in a multi volume format that this is destined to be. I guess that is hard for some to see as we are “seeing this written” rather than taking an entire book in all at once.

      Well, I didn’t realize I had rant mode on. I also like(d) the snippets of Mack’s surprise that Two has matured while she wasn’t looking.

      Current score: 0
    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      RE:”AlexandraErin says:
      March 17, 2011 at 4:15 am

      If you can think of anything else I can do to bore you, please don’t hesitate to suggest it.”

      By having a chapter or at least a long paragraph describing Soonie combing her hair.

      She picked up the comb, she slowly started brushing, 100 long even strokes. She makes the cats count. One said Kai as she rand the brush through the hair. Two she said as she ran the brush through the hair. Three she said as she ran the brush through the hair. and so on through one hundred.

      Do not change up the sentences, stroke one must be the same as one hundred. This is to reinforce the repetitiveness of the task and make us really feel like we are doing it. Be sure nothing interesting happens during the combing, and nothing note worthy after. 😛

      Current score: 0
      • cnic says:

        Sadly, I’d actually read that chapter. I miss Sooni.

        Current score: 1
  12. Witmer says:

    I am a huge fan of your character development.

    All of your chapters lately have been a real pleasure to read.

    Current score: 0
  13. Potatohead says:

    I’ve always prefered Cubicles and Co-Workers for my cheesy in-reference, but Subways and Scientists is excellent.

    Current score: 0
    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      Cubicles has the advantage of feeling more dungeon like. But subways are underground like most dungeons.

      Neither coworkers or scientists are really like a dragon. Hmm.. I shall have to think of one now 😛

      Current score: 0
  14. Calia says:

    What else, exactly, would you expect a very “forward thinking” gnome (she shaves her feet!) who obviously did NOT want the pregnancy to do? She’s obviously pretty invested in staying in college, and from what I can recall, it was made fairly clear that if she had the child she’d have to go back to the shire (of course, I could be wrong on this- I haven’t read the first few chapters mentioning the pregnancy in some time). So not only would that be not in her best interests, it would also probably end up being MORE dull for the readers because Hazel would be gone.

    This could still easily be an interesting point of contention between Hazel and Amaranth anyway.

    Current score: 0
  15. Rina says:

    I’m running a Changeling group right now, I am going to find some way to include Subways and Scientists!

    Now I want to know what made Amaranth’s eyes pop. Hazel is one my favorite characters. I love how she mothers Two and anyone else that will let her.

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      The comments above posit that Hazel got an abortion since we saw her last.

      Current score: 0
      • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

        I think it is that Amy can now tell she has like 18 babies in there. And they are goblinoid not dwarven.

        Current score: 0
        • Ducky says:

          They must be half-goblin, half-elf. And it’s probably like 50.

          Current score: 0
  16. The Dark Master says:

    I figured that Mackenzie had three main issues when she first came to the university. It was how these issues wrapped themselves together that created the complex problems that she had to face. I’m not talking about mundane things like introversion or poor conversational skills, these are big things.
    1) The trauma of losing her mother at a young age. The one person that she was truly close to, maybe the only one.
    2) Being raised by her grandmother to think that she was inherently bad or wrong.
    3) Being taught by her grandmother to believe that certain things where dirty or bad, even though they where perfectly fine or normal for what she was. While this issue was largely addressed, it wasn’t at the same time as the other issues, thus creating a different set of problems, possibly more complicated.
    That’s my analysis of Mackenzie’s character on reflection, it is not the current state of her character.

    Current score: 0
    • Dani says:

      4) Being dangerous. Mack isn’t just blowing smoke: The thing that is most likely to get her killed (with company) is the fact that she’s very dangerous (especially when driven by hunger or panic) and wasn’t taught good mitigation strategies.

      Current score: 0
      • The Dark Master says:

        Look at her brother, it is definitly possible to control their natures if they learn how. The first step in doing just that would be to understand themselves, something Martha never allowed Mackenzie to do; thus this is covered in how her grandmother raised her. Also note that she is not the only creature that can be extreemly dangerous, this is a magic university…

        Current score: 0
        • bramble says:

          Which is why Mack’s lack of coping strategies is such a problem, but it’s still a problem directly rooted in the larger issue of the fact that Mack is legitimately dangerous. The fact that Dan is so well adjusted shows that it’s an issue that can be mitigated, but just because one sibling has learned to work through the issue of being dangerous doesn’t mean it’s not still a very real problem that the other also needs to deal with. Likewise, I’m sure that there are other people on campus who do/would benefit from some professional help in dealing with their own dangerousness.

          Current score: 0
    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      #1 wasn’t her fault.

      Current score: 0
      • The Dark Master says:

        Doesn’t matter if it was or wasn’t. It still greatly affected her afterwards both because of the lose and the absence of her mother.

        Current score: 0
      • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

        “She died. It wasn’t my fault.” every time it comes up 😉

        Current score: 0
  17. The Dark Master says:

    Out of interest AE, did you use the design of a world from a D&D campaign(s) when you created the world of MU? Was there some inspired parts, is it an Earth clone? Or is it an completely original creation for the story of MU?

    Current score: 0
    • It’s an inexact analog of earth. The concept is a D&D-style (not a particular one) “medieval fantasy world” aged up five centuries or so into the modern world. The genesis came from the notice that we have what we call “medieval fantasy”, which is usually set on something that bears only a slight resemblance to medieval earth, and “modern fantasy”, which usually means “the real world but with magic”. I wanted to make a “modern fantasy” that was modern in the same sense that medieval fantasy is medieval.

      Current score: 1
      • The Dark Master says:

        Thanks, I’d mostly figured that but I remember somewhere you mentionning that you’d played D&D and I was just wondering if you’d used a world from a D&D game and jumped it ahead a few hundred years.

        Current score: 0
      • KrataLightblade says:

        That would be exactly why Tales of MU caught my imagination so much.

        Well, that and it’s sexy. I totally real Tales of MU for the articles though.


        Going away now.

        Current score: 0
  18. Kirine says:

    First off, AE only minutely implied that. Hazel could be pregnant with more than one child. If Hazel’s pregnancy or lack thereof was meant to be a major plot device, it would be upfront and “out there”. It’s not. It’s a minor thing.

    Secondly, if you don’t like the story or the way it’s going, you don’t have to read.

    Current score: 0
  19. Kirine says:

    Excellent chapter. I’m still hoping we find out what happened to Laurel, whether it’s through the counseling sessions or not.

    I have the feeling though that we’re going to start seeing Nanna Blaise in a different light.

    Current score: 0
    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      We know what happened already:
      ‘She died. It wasn’t Mack’s fault.’

      Current score: 0
  20. Bov says:

    “They were both prejudiced, but both were better than their prejudices.”

    –i love the honesty of that line.

    Current score: 1
  21. beappleby says:

    I’m glad you mentioned this because I totally didn’t catch that! It does make sense.

    I hope they gave her a pamphlet on how to use protection.

    Current score: 0
    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      No need. Can’t get pregnant if you’re on top. River girls know water doesn’t flow uphill.

      Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        Pretty sure she’s realized that not all those sayings are true – at least, not the one she was counting on…

        Current score: 0
      • Bilbo says:

        Actually… a University in NY came up with a laser etch on glass technique that wicks water uphill.

        You should do a Subways and Scientists episode with the players arguing quantum physics.

        And have somebody walk by and say, “Oh, foo, that’s not Science, it’s ordinary old Magic.”

        Current score: 0
  22. beappleby says:

    I really enjoyed this. It was definitely worth waiting an extra few days. It’s such a relief to have Mack just *talking* to someone about all this – we’ve seen her internal narrative, but even with her friends she hasn’t told how deeply she really feels about some things – and they don’t always make the best listeners.

    Surprising about the holy water…

    Current score: 0
  23. Major says:

    The bit about the holy water was a bit surprising, but not without its mundane precedent. I remember reading that domesticated elephants were trained almost from birth that they couldn’t break a restraint around a leg. By the time the elephant was strong enough to break such a restraint, it had given up trying to do so, and a rope that would be much too weak to stop it would keep it from escaping.

    Similar psychological trickery is used in training horses, so Nana Blaise just adapted the idea to control Mackenzie.

    Current score: 0
    • Zergonapal says:

      No, I really don’t think you can use such simple tricks on a sentient being. I think its more that Granny is a class A badass who beats down dragons when shes bored and Mack lived in mortal terror of the day she might accidentally cross the Line.

      Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        I think the threat of Holy Water was used to force/terrify Mackenzie into getting control of her powers. Granny wasn’t doing it to be a badass, but to protect her – in her own messed-up way.

        Current score: 0
      • drudge says:

        But …Mack didn’t know about the whole “class A badass who beats down dragons” bit.

        While there’s more than one reason we’re different from animals, this is the sort of thing that’s liable to work and is rather believable.

        Current score: 0
        • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

          especially since it was happening in her sleep so the subconscious needed to be given a reason to control it not the sentient waking mind.

          Current score: 0
          • Rey d`Tutto says:

            Yeah, I got this new medication from Russia, and it works wonders. It’s called [Placebo ®™], and I take 150mg 3/1-Day.

            Ever since, My GhonnaSiphilHerpeLitis© hasn’t flared up!

            Current score: 0
      • Kevin says:

        If those tricks didn’t work on sentient beings the entire human race would have the attitude of a 2 year old.

        Current score: 0
      • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

        Doubt the water was ever holy to begin with, she just knew Mack would never test it.
        She demonstrated the effects of holy water on her own hand, didn’t drip some on Mack.
        It was probably just way to force/condition mack into not unconsciously igniting. Is she burns in her sleep the subconscious needs to be able to prevent it.

        Current score: 0
        • Jinzo says:

          Grandma didnt use holy water on herself, it was boiling oil. If she had dropped it on Mack it wouldnt do a thing. She did say this is what happens to me with boiling oil, and if I use holy water on you, this will be the result on you.

          Current score: 0
          • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

            thats what i meant. said it badly lol

            Current score: 0
      • Aversion Therapy and Behavior Modification; and since Mack is a caring, sentient being it worked all the better. Grandma Blaise burned herself with oil, and told Mack that the holy water in the bucket would burn her the same way – Mack is adverse to pain, not only her own but of people around her. Martha probably also drummed it into Mack that Mack would suffer more from the holy water than Martha did from the oil. Even if she doesn’t sit on the best of terms with her grandmother now, at the time of the instruction, she was very young and very impressionable.

        She learned with a non lethal consequence, knowing that there were larger consequences. Even if the last bucket wasn’t holy water, she’d come to believe that it was, knew that it was lethal (if it really was holy water) and that gave her id a reason to keep itself in check.

        It was far more focused than simply spanking a her and telling her what she did was wrong, and with Mack igniting in her sleep, the dousing was necessary in the first place, so tacking on an aversion to help her gain control was actually reasonable in one sense even if it seems harsh.

        Current score: 0
  24. Zathras IX says:

    What is “Normal”? It’s
    What happens while you’re busy
    Making other plans

    Current score: 0
  25. Laszlo says:

    Not sure what the correction should be on this:
    Before it could, though, here comes a break in the rhythm and then you’re back it.

    It just seems like it should be something like:
    then you’re back at it.
    then you’re back to it.
    then you’re back in it.

    Current score: 0
  26. Kechara says:

    I have a picture at home of dragons sitting at a table playing “Houses and Humans” It is in my D&D room 😀

    Current score: 0
  27. arsenic says:

    I like how Mack is opening up so much in therapy. It makes sense that she would, too, because it’s a safe place to think/talk. Teddi’s made it obvious that there are no consequences to Mack bringing up a subject. If Mack doesn’t want to dwell on it, it’s fine, and Teddi’s completely nonjudgmental and (unlike Mack’s friends) doesn’t try to get Mack to take some sort of action.

    Current score: 0
  28. Arachia says:

    On the point of “Subways and Scientists” here is me thinking this is a referance to a real game since I do alot of RPG stuff and it sounded familar. so I went and found it and here it is http://www.kmant.com/RPG/UnderworldRule.htm

    On another note where can I find a copy of the “Houses and Humans” picture?

    Current score: 0
  29. J says:

    Hi AE, great chapter! I’m really looking forward to seeing how volume 1 ends and volume 2 begins.

    On a side note, I thought I’d mention here that you’ve got a few comments from me (and others) on the “Get your degree” page wondering what’s going on with the diplomas. Since you weren’t responding, I thought maybe you just haven’t seen the comments on that page; hope you don’t mind me posting this heads-up here.

    Current score: 0
    • Oh, dang it. I thought it notified me every time somebody comments on one of the not-story pages, but I guess it’s only the first time for each person.

      I’m out and about at the moment but I’ll email you tonight when I’ve got back to the house and looked into this. I remember doing an order in January, but my memory sometimes trick me. Just to let you know I’m hiding the Degree page for now… this isn’t to try to hide the record of your order, it’s to stop any other orders/queries from falling into a black hole.

      Current score: 0
  30. Ducky says:

    If you think abortion is always the end of a pregnancy struggle, you have another think coming.

    Current score: 0
    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      Like zombie baby.
      Maybe she used the necro-potion and had a weird reaction because she didn’t mention that other potion she drank lol.

      Current score: 0
  31. I totally want to play “S&S” now. The list of fictional RPGs I want to play is starting to outweigh the real ones…

    Current score: 0
  32. OhPun says:

    I understand that there used to be “scientists” (those who thought the world was consistently explainable, or something like that) in the past, but where in Mackenzie’s world was (or is) there a thing called “subway”? I really don’t expect an answer, but I’m hoping sometime in the story this tidbit will be resolved. Lexiconically yours, OhPun

    Current score: 0
    • allie says:

      Where in our world was (or is) this thing called a “dragon”?

      Current score: 0
      • Marguerite Mingorance says:

        They died out long ago, you can see their incorrectly-assembled bones in many museums, under the erroneous heading “dinosaurs”.

        Current score: 2
    • Rin says:

      There might not be such a thing as subways in the world of MU, but why would there have to be? There are no and never have been any dragons in our world, yet we still have the game Dungeons & Dragons along with a whole bunch of other games, books, movies, etc. that deal with dragons.

      Current score: 0
      • OhPun says:

        There is a long history, both in stories and pictures, of dragons in our world from multiple unconnected sources across all continents. What makes you think there have never been any dragons in our world?

        Even if your assertion was true, there are enough stories (even if fictional) that someone could create a game or story (*cough* ToMU *cough*) using these well described ‘fictional’ creatures.

        I am wondering what is the real or fictional basis for a “subway” in the world of MU? “Subway” may mean something entirely different in the world of MU than it does to you and me. Also it apparently a common enough word that everyone knows what “subway” means, just like we know what “dragon” means.

        Current score: 0
        • beappleby says:

          Their science fiction includes motorcycles and chainsaws, just in the one kid’s show. Why is it hard to believe they imagined subways?

          Current score: 0
          • OhPun says:

            It is very easy to believe that they imagined subways. Obviously they did. It is in the story. What I am interested in is *what* they imagine a subway to be. In modern day ToMU where magic works, science is totally medieval. Delving is a University major, so what are the goals of a ToMU RPG? How does that different world view show itself in the Scientists and Subways game? Hopefully, someday, Ms. Alexandra will include that in a chapter.

            Current score: 0
            • beappleby says:

              Well, a subway is an underground train… perhaps it’s a variation on dungeons! Who knows what dangers might lurk in the subway tunnels…

              Current score: 0
        • Rin says:

          As for your further clarifications of your inquiry I won’t comment. Wondering what the basis is for a concept like a subway in the world of MU is a valid question. As far as the existence or non-existence of dragons is concerned however, I base my judgement on a complete and utter lack of any concrete evidence.

          It is true that stories and pictures about dragons (or at least creatures we would describe as such) exist in various unconnected and independent cultures around the world. It is also true that there has never been any evidence supporting these pictures and stories as being anything more than fiction and mythology.

          Which is not to say there is no basis for such tales and images. A likely explanation for the prevalence of dragon-like creatures in many separate cultures might for example be found in the fossilized remains of what we now call dinosaurs.

          An ancient culture confronted with such remains would be apt to try to explain such unfamiliar and intimidating creatures in mythological terms and dinosaur remains can be found all over the world.

          Current score: 0
    • I had a nagging feeling we’ve seen a ‘subway’ in Enwich – so I got to digging, came up with this:

      The city coaches had more in common with the cross-country ones than with the black carriages that carried us to and from the school. They were long and wide, with the benches split down the middle by an aisle, leaving barely enough room for two people on each side.

      I read the description as bus or train-like originally.

      The transit center was underground, and clearly done in an older style of architecture, with stone walls and vaulted ceilings. The continual light fixtures installed in old torch sconces and converted braziers didn’t do much to update the look of the place. Neither did the gorgon-face stone fountains or the suits of armor which seemed to have been converted into information booths…

      Sure, it was bustling with people, but they were mostly looking down at the floor… unless they were gape-mouthed tourists like us.

      Amaranth clearly was enamored of the place, babbling something she’d read about it having been the lair of a famous warlock who’d ruled the original town, three hundred years before. That part caught my attention.

      Subways don’t always travel underground. The transit is being described as carriages, but the composition still seems rather bus or train-like to me, which seems to reinforce the subway parallel. The particular setting makes me think of the transit center as being a bit like Grand Central Station.

      Chapter Referenced: 218: Old Fashioned

      Current score: 1
      • And I hit submit too soon.

        I meant to add that extrapolating from that, a Scientists & Subways setting might see the carriages as being horseless, and science driven rather than enchanted – as with the motorcycles in MechKnights.

        Transit stations could hold secret entrances to lairs which are labs for mad or evil scientists.

        There could be potentially steam-punk or gas-lamp fantasy twists in the particular types of science employed so as not to be a specific translation to modern science in our world.

        Depending on how the science/magic transposes and the imagination of the DM and the players of such a game the potential is literally endless as to how to address the Mu Magic to Science translations in a game scenario. It is easy for me to see the potential for something almost Shadowrun-esque complimenting such a thing with some classic D&D thrown in along with at least one Zork “You’ve been eaten by grue” reference thrown in for good measure.

        Current score: 0
        • Hoeppner says:

          It’s actually been made kind of clear that that some things just seem “magical”.

          For instance going faster than a horse trot in a “carriage” would be as weird of a thought as a university having a medical staff capable of “lay on hands”.

          The thought of “golems” being used to mass produce everything better, faster, and more efficiently than a skilled enchanter would probably be another alien thought.

          Current score: 0
    • This conversation is interesting to me, because I chose “Subway” carefully and deliberately, using the two criteria that the word must 1) describe an underground structure and 2) be an almost entirely (if not entirely) unsuitable word for the purpose I’m putting it to.

      The word “dungeon” as it’s used in D&D and its descendants is so ubiquitous in our pop culture that video gamers who’ve never played D&D talk about “the last dungeon” and “the boss of the dungeon” and so on, but the fact is that before D&D “dungeon” didn’t mean this. It’s a very weird etymological leap where one of the first games of what became D&D took place in a castle, and when they ran out of castle the only way for there to be anything plausibly left to explore was for it to be underneath.

      What’s underneath a castle? A dungeon, maybe. Oh, but now we’re out of dungeon. Oh, well, it has another level!

      And so eventually you end up with this very illogically and implausibly constructed structure with a castle that’s more dungeon than castle. And when you go to recreate the experience again, what’s more important… the tiny little castle or the infinitely expansive dungeon? So you design more “dungeons”.

      And here we are decades later and if someone draws a map of an entirely-above-ground castle for adventurers to explore, the castle is a dungeon.

      Current score: 0
      • OhPun says:

        C|N>K Thank goodness I was not drinking anything while reading this or my keyboard would have been destroyed. Alexandra FTW!!!

        Current score: 0
  33. Dashel Illioni says:

    Threatening a kid with death is not “poor parenting”, its abuse pure and simple. Mack is right in never wanting to go back home to a conflicted, guilt ridden, religious zealot who failed her own daughter and granddaughter.

    As for the possibility of the Hazel undergoing an abortion, the effects of that process could linger for some time. A combination of social factors could implant a massive dose of guilt and other (including physical) factors that would continue to haunt her for years to come. How that would affect Mack and company I am not sure of.

    Current score: 0
  34. Burnsidhe says:

    First, pregnancies do naturally abort, and usually this happens relatively early. If it weren’t for Amaranth’s “life sensing”, Hazel might not have known she was pregnant at all.
    Second, I read Amaranth as doing more of a “It’s really hard to restrain myself from saying anything” reaction than “What happened to your baby?”

    Current score: 0
    • The Dark Master says:

      Loss of a child that was not intentional is called a miscarriage.

      Current score: 0
      • Rethic says:

        Medically it’s called an abortion whether it’s intentional or not. That’s how we got the word abortion for the intentional purposes.

        Current score: 0
        • also how that quack in the state of Georgia (I think it was or some other southern state) is trying to pass a bill to create a uterus police to investigate every miscarriage or “spontaneous abortion” which is outlandish. He wants to demand a reason for a miscarriage when most of the time not even the doctor can be sure why a pregnancy failed to go past a few days or weeks or even a couple of months. A woman who loses her baby has enough to deal with without that sort of interrogation.

          an article about it for anyone interested. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/17/946257/–GALegislator-Wants-to-Create-The-Uterus-Police-to-Investigate-Miscarriages

          Current score: 0
          • Ducky says:

            South Dakota and Nebraska are currently considering making it legal to kill abortion doctors. Just sayin’.

            Current score: 0
            • I wonder when:

              They’ll rename amputation of a limb to semi-self-abortion-post birth activity, and declare it murder of limb.

              They’ll call start calling a hysterectomy, having one’s tubes tied, or a vasectomy preemptive abortion.

              The insanity needs to stop – these people in government are just too ‘educated’ to be aware of anything past the tip of their nose or the bottom of their bank account.

              (sorry about the non story related side rant)

              Current score: 1
            • me says:

              Except limbs don’t fall off a few months later and become its own person. your analogy only works if humans reproduce by budding… since amputation doesn’t end a potential person’s life.

              Current score: 0
            • That is the point, its just as silly, to me at least.

              Current score: 0
            • Neither does abortion. Abortion ends a pregnancy. You’re ending several potential persons’ lives by virtue of everyone you’re not mating with. If you do have a child with someone, you’d still be ending many potential persons’ lives because of all the possible babies that could have otherwise been born. Every baby who could be born that isn’t is a “potential life” that didn’t come to fruition. The ones who might have been born but were aborted aren’t special.

              ACTUAL extant human beings do not have the right to use someone else’s organs and blood to stay alive against that person’s wishes. A parent cannot be forced by the law to give blood or bone marrow or a kidney to keep their living child alive.

              If you want to elevate “potential” human beings to a position higher than actual human beings–and particularly higher than the people with uteruses who are carrying them–you can please keep your comments right the fuck off my story website.

              Current score: 3
            • Dragoness says:

              Huzzah! *applause*

              Very well said.

              Current score: 0
            • me says:

              I want a real world delving major, that would be awesome

              Current score: 0
            • Dragoness says:

              I think it’s called archaeology…

              Current score: 0
            • bard says:

              Indiana Jones style maybe, but real archeology isn’t.

              Current score: 0
            • bard says:

              At least not any more.

              …Before the 1900s maybe.

              but Not since countries decided not to let people take anything they find home.
              …stupid antiquities act

              That and the fact that killing a random band of drugloards who moved in to an Aztec pyramid in the middle of the jungle as a base is for some reason frowned upon these days.

              Current score: 0
            • Altima says:

              But their stuff isn’t covered by the Antiquities Act, right?

              Current score: 0
            • Kim says:

              1940’s war ammunition’s not covered. archeology remains intact… for some values of old, at any rate.

              Current score: 0
    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      I read it that way too

      Current score: 0
      • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

        meaning that amaranth was trying not to say something, not necessarily there not being a baby
        as a rely to
        “I read Amaranth as doing more of a “It’s really hard to restrain myself from saying anything” reaction than “What happened to your baby?””

        Current score: 0
  35. Not that girl, the other one says:

    Great job on the counselling chapters AE. Teddi is awesome.

    I also read Amaranth’s reaction as restraining herself from saying anything ‘helpful’, given her history of thinking “if I just say xyz everyone will see that I am right and the world will be better for it”.

    Current score: 0
    • The Dark Master says:

      And that is what we call vanity and naivity.

      Current score: 1
  36. Mackenzie says:

    I saw amaranth’s reaction as oh shit your huge and I can’t say anything.

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    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      me too, and hazle’s “thats right” as ‘thats right, keep your mouth shut’

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  37. Amelia says:

    Great chapter AE: loved the attack of Foot-in-the-Door Syndrome, so true to life.

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  38. Erm says:

    well, the word is bolkub, but it translates as ‘cave-in’.

    In other words, Rocks Fall Everyone Dies?

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  39. Abeo says:

    I am also one who interpretted Amaranth’s (muted) reaction to be one of restraint rather than surprise.

    While it doesn’t particularly look like Amaranth is thrilled about the idea of abortion (the topic hasn’t directly come up so it is difficult to tell), I just can’t see her making a big deal about one happening. If there was no pregnancy that wasn’t Amaranth’s business, there would be no reason to make Amaranth stay out of Hazel’s business (pregnancy).

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    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      Yeah, I saw it as her eyes bulge because she wanted to say something and couldn’t.

      And the hobbit’s reply as “thats right keep your mouth shut” not “thats right no more babby”

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  40. Erm says:

    Teddi is indeed awesome. Two still easily holds her position as my favorite character, but Teddi is up there.

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    • pseudopoiuytfgh says:

      the turtle thing is the best one lol

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  41. jagroq says:

    Thinking about this chapter I realized that they have 8 people and 2 games of what I imagine to be a Warhammer analog in All ONE DORM ROOM!! I don’t think i could comfortably fit that many people or even one good sized game board in my freshman dorm, and that’s if we removed the furniture first.

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    • beappleby says:

      I switched dorms after a year because my roommate couldn’t afford to stay in the newer, more expensive dorm for another year and I wanted to stay with her. We ended up in a much older building – built by the WPA! – for literally half the price, and the room was almost twice as big. Especially when we bunked the beds, it was huge! Since this is the dorm I usually picture for Harlowe Hall, it makes perfect sense to me.

      (Although the lounge is an odd merging of the kitchen/lounge from the first dorm, and the main lounge of the second dorm…)

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    • Imagine it to be a Warhammer analog invented by tiny people who live in mines.

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  42. drudge says:

    As a general rule, anything can go in lots of interesting directions until the first step is actually taken.

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  43. tannenFuchs says:

    On the topic of Hazel, AE gives no clues as to WHAT it is that has Amaranth’s eyes bulging. One could assume two possibilities: she had an abortion or she’s as huge as a house yet STILL wants to deny being preggers. Either way, if this subplot is ever explored, it’s bound to be interesting.

    Also, I want to play Subways & Scientists!

    As far as Mack and Grandma Blaise’s parenting abilities (or lack thereof), what goes through my head is that while Granny is/was a Paladin, you cannot know what goes on in a person’s head when confronted with, literally, evil in their own bloodline. I would bet she’s been torn in half between wanting to care for her deceased daughter’s child and wanting to “slay the beast” in her midst, complete with the self-loathing for contemplating killing her own granddaughter. Oooh. Feeback loop! Also, if she’s a Paladin, who holds with the Law, she would recognize that her granddaughter DOES deserve a chance at life due to the human half of her parentage, even if the demonic half drives her innate Paladin-ness bonkers. And it’s been well proven that Pavlov conditioning works just as well on humans as it does dogs, and I wouldn’t expect it to work any different in the MUverse. Hell, the affirmation techniques that many therapists and self-help books use is a form of conditioning not too unlike Granny showing Mack the effects of holy water and then telling her she’d use it. Or a parent warning an erring child that there’s spankings/grounding/etc. if behavior doesn’t improve. It’s kind of fucked up, yeah, but it DID work in getting Mack to at least not set her bed on fire in the middle of the night… Not saying that it’s right, just that it worked.

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    • bramble says:

      There’s a big difference, though, between telling a kid that you’ll spank her and telling a kid that you’ll melt the flesh from her bones, and saying it in a way that makes it very clear that you believe her to be fundamentally unlike and less than everyone you or she cares about (I don’t remember precisely, but I’m pretty sure that the demonstration included telling Mack something along the lines of “that’s what holy water will do to your kind.” Not “you,” “your kind.”)

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    • Burnsidhe says:

      Or, and this is most likely, it’s Amaranth struggling to keep her mouth shut and *not* say anything, as she promised she would do.

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  44. AE: Over several hours yesterday & today, I caught up on ToMU (I’d fallen behind while traveling last year). It was the perfect comfort reading while I was ill, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the recent innovation in pace, as well as Mackenzie’s growth. I especially enjoyed reading Mackenzie’s interactions with Mariel, Teddi, Puddy, the fishbeast, Embries, Bohd, and Callahan. And I’m pretty glad to have wound up, for now, ending my feast with Mackenzie’s talk(s) with Teddi, because my heart softens and warms with gladness to see Mackenzie finally getting to open up to someone as helpful, as agenda-less, as non-snarky, as perceptive, and as kind.

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  45. Sindyr says:

    Great chapters as always, AE! Keep up the fantastic work! 😀

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  46. Bilbo says:

    You know, some mammalian species are capable of getting pregnant twice.

    Dogs, for example.

    Maybe Amaranth was shocked because Hazel is pregnant AGAIN.

    And now I can’t get the image of Scientists eating at Subway out of my head…

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  47. Bilbo says:

    Would Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) be the ultimate Subways and Scientists character?

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  48. Bilbo says:

    I just realized the CNC Lathe I used yesterday would totally geek Amaranth out.

    I’m thinking of making a prototype for a new design of muffin tin with it.

    I know… who needs a new design of muffin tin?

    The inventor does !

    If he has $500, that is.

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