Chapter 10: Centered

on April 29, 2011 in Volume 2: Sophomore Effort
Timeline: , , , ,

In Which Dee Feels Experimental

After the class ended I spent a little time practicing unshrinking the mocked copy of my staff so I knew how to hold it while it enlarged without tripping over it or thwacking myself in the head with it or something. It was easy enough to do when I had my feet planted and was focused entirely on what was in my hands… it would take a little more practice to be able to do it in the heat of the moment.

Despite my whole worldly and wise “I never left” thing, I did feel pretty accomplished at having made it through the first day of classes without anything dire or completely embarrassing happening. I guess it was probably a sign of how far I had come in a year that I didn’t consider my performance in class to be a failure.

Yeah, I’d lost my first fight but so had half of the class. I’d stumbled, but I’d also impressed Coach Callahan… and I’d done that by doing what I needed to do. That felt like an achievement. I was in a bit of a celebratory mood when I headed for dinner at the Archimedes Center.

I’ve never been a huge fan of architecture in general. That’s not to say that I turned my nose up at it or anything… it wasn’t like I went around going, ugh, another building or anything. I just didn’t really notice it all that much. The buildings on campus mostly ranged from what I thought of as big, blocky institutional-style… like Harlowe Hall… to a slightly more modern and sleek institutional-style, like the student union and Weyland Hall, where Ian had lived the year before.

The Archimedes Center was noticeably different. It was more like something you’d find in a zoo or museum that just got a bunch of money for building modern, exciting exhibits than anything that screamed “I belong on a school campus.” It was a circular building with a dome on top. The whole thing had been devised as a marriage of elven and dwarven building methods and sensibilities.

The walls were made out of stone and the dome was made out of wood… of great big twisting tree limbs as thick as trunks that had been grown in place. The “timbers” that supported the dome on the inside were made of stone carved by dwarven crafters, and the stone blocks that made up the wall were held in place not with mortar but with a kind of vine that the elves used for joining things… when put under pressure it released a sticky sap which then hardened even as the vine remained alive and continued to produce tiny white blossoms and leaves.

The whole metaphorical image was of elves and dwarves putting aside their differences and coming together, but the truth was that for all their differences, the animosity between elves and dwarves was a little overblown in the minds of humans. That’s not to say that they were naturally the best of friends or anything, but it wasn’t like they were competing for the same land or resources. There was a rivalry there, and a lot of ancient insults, and even in modern times there was friction caused by differing values, but mostly elves and dwarves didn’t exist in the same space.

The Arch addressed that by functioning as a sort of embassy in “human territory”. Elves and dwarves both maintained their own lodgings near campus, but they very much stood as worlds apart. I’d actually managed to see the more public parts of the dwarven one, and even that had involved a private invitation and a blindfolded trip through secret passages beneath the school.

As we had observed at breakfast, there were some interesting things going on with the Arch’s message… it was, in theory, a monument to harmony among all the races on campus but the two races it reached out to explicitly were two that were already pretty accepted as part of Imperial society.

There could be many different reasons for that, but one of them was that the person who gave most of the money to build it had been an elf who wanted to see elven students more connected with campus life. Making the center about the dwarves in equal measure had, from his point of view, been an expansive gesture of tolerance. The university had shaped his vision to at least tacitly encompass all races… was it that their dedication to equality causing them to leverage the boon they were being given to do the most good, or was it them lazily using something that was happening already in order to exert the minimal effort and say they’d done something?

There was no way to know what their intentions were, or what the results would be in the long term.

Even though I shouldn’t have had far to go at all, the others were all at the Arch ahead of me… I kind of took the long way around to it, since I had forgotten that we had agreed to eat there until I was coming up to the entrance to the student union.

Again, it was kind of astounding for me to realize how little I cared about that. Taking a wrong turn or overlooking something had always made me feel like a big awkward failure in the past, and considering how absent-minded I can be that meant I had pretty much always felt like a big awkward failure. Now it happened and I just sort of enjoyed the stroll about campus.

The fact that no one else seemed to mind or consider me to be late helped, too. Everybody was kind of spread out around the floor, checking things out. Two and her friend Hazel were over by the dining area, looking at the origins of certain typical elven and dwarven dishes. Ian was sitting on a couch, fiddling with his lute… not playing it, but doing some sort of maintenance with the strings.

Tightening them? Tuning them? I couldn’t say. He was all bent over it, looking very serious and attentive about it, whatever it was.

The Center had a very open-air floorplan, with low walls dividing it into different sections but not obstructing the line of sight. It was something like a museum combined with an elaborate lounge… it was meant to be educational, but its designers had been wise enough to realize that students would learn more from it if there were plenty of reasons to spend time there. One day into the new semester, more students seemed to be passing through to see what it was all about than actually looking at any of the exhibits. If that was all there was to it, most of them would never come back.

So there was food, in the form of the second sit-down dining hall on campus, and Melina’s… an elven bakery chain that also served coffee. There was music from crystals suspended in the ceiling, there were places to sit and talk or sit and think, and there was a raised area in the center of the floor where people could give performances or cultural demonstrations.

Amaranth was among those who were actually interested in the displays, in particular a botanical arrangement of small flowering trees, and some kinds of fungus and moss growing on rocks shaded by the trees.

“Hi, baby,” she said. “You have a good first day?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “I really think I’m going to like both of my classes… both of my classroom classes, I mean. I think I had a good start in my melee class, too.”

“That’s good. Just don’t go thinking it isn’t a ‘real’ class,” Amaranth said.

“I’m taking it seriously,” I said. “I’m just… if I think of it in terms of whether or not I like it… well, I don’t like it, so I’d rather not think in those terms. I’m in it. I’m committed to it. And, like I said, I think I had a good start.”

“How did it go?” she asked.

Trying to describe it did diminish my enthusiasm a little. It was awkward, as Amaranth liked violence even less than I did. She’d managed to get an exemption from both the weapon-carrying requirement and the class requirement on moral grounds, and that wasn’t easy. Her status as a nymph probably helped her there… Mother Khaele was one of the more active deities in the mortal sphere, and she considered nymphs and their male counterparts to be under her protection. Being the goddess of nature meant there was no shortage of reasons to avoid pissing her off.

“It sounds like she just wasn’t ready,” Amaranth said, after hearing of ponytailed Meaghan’s plight.

I was surprised to find that my first inclination was to respond that she had no one to blame but herself. I stopped myself from saying that… I couldn’t imagine feeling good at all about scorning someone’s lack of preparation for fighting. In the pause I realized that Amaranth wasn’t talking about fault, she was just empathizing with the girl’s position… and that was something that I could do, too.

“So, how was your day?” I asked.

“Good,” she said, but the way she frowned when she said it wasn’t exactly subtle. “Good, but busy… I may have taken on too much. This early in the semester it’s hard to say, but some of my classes seem like they’ll be pretty demanding.”

“Well, you still have time to change your schedule, if you decide it’s best to postpone one of your classes for a semester,” I said. It would have been shorter to say “you still have time to drop a class”, but that seemed like the sort of thing that would make her dig in her heels. Maybe she wouldn’t need to drop a class, but it would be better if she looked at it with clear eyes.

I’d learned a lot about how to deal with someone who had that kind of short-sighted stubbornness… mostly over the summer, when I’d been by myself.

“You shouldn’t try to compete with your toy, Amy,” Steff said, appearing right next to us. “That’s not a good look on anyone.”

“I’m not competing,” Amaranth said. “I just saw a bunch of classes that I was interested in, and they all fit into my schedule. Anyway, I think I’ll be able to manage. It’s really only one more full-sized class than I took the past two semesters and then one hour a week of Dwarvish poetry.”

“Oh, yes,” Steff said. “Roses are red, violets are none of your business… back the fuck off or I’ll break all your fingers.”

“Dwarves don’t write many poems about flowers,” Amaranth said. “It’s really more about practical things and the joy of craftsmanship. That’s not to say that there’s no feeling in it… dwarves can be very sentimental. Like ‘The Song of the Smith’… the poet regretted that he would not be able to teach his daughters metalworking himself, so he crafted a poem that conveys both his instructions for them and the feeling and sensation of working metal as he experiences it, so that they can share in it.”

“I bet their love poems are hilarious,” Steff said. “How do I love thee? Let me count the paces.”

“It’s not like elven culture’s much less gender-segregrated,” I said.

“No, but elves have the good sense to have sex with each other when they’re shunning the opposite sex instead of periodically getting together for a baby-making brawl,” Steff said. “And anyway, that’s mostly a middling thing… young elven boys have this whole extreme machismo/girls-have-cooties things going on that a lot of them grow out of by the time they start century number two.”

“It’s not that I have any special affection for Dwarvish poetry,” Amaranth admitted. “I mean, I’m curious about it, but I really wanted to take the Elvish poetry survey. But… well…”

“Surely you do not doubt the ability of our resident Elvish poetry expert to remain impartial in her grading?” Dee asked, drawn over to our conversation.

“I couldn’t say that she would treat me unfairly,” Amaranth said. “But it seems like taking one of Professor Ariadne’s classes might seem a little… unnecessarily antagonistic?”

“So you count on her to treat you fairly just as long as you’re nice enough to never put her in a position where she has to,” Steff said.

“Well, it’s not like any of us has had any trouble with her for almost a year,” Amaranth said. “Even if she still harbors some resentment towards Mack, that doesn’t mean she’s kept up on campus gossip or would otherwise know that we’re together.”

“Amy, doll, I know you think you’re defending her, but ‘maybe she wouldn’t think to penalize me for dating her nemesis because she doesn’t know we’re dating’ isn’t a defense,” Steff said.

“I suppose not,” Amaranth said. “Anyway, I think we can all agree that it’s better to avoid trouble than provoke it.”

“Yeah, as long as you have the luxury of taking another one hour fluff course,” Steff said. “What if completing your major depended on a class that was only being taught by a raging bigot?”

“That would be something I couldn’t avoid, and I’d deal with it,” Amaranth said. “But for a one hour class that’s completely elective, it didn’t seem worth it.”

“To take another passageway,” Dee said, “if one wished to learn the extent of the professor’s bias or hostility, adding a one hour class to one’s schedule might be a good way to gauge that. It could be taken and dropped… or even completed at a disadvantage… with minimal impact on one’s academic career.”

“I suppose,” Amaranth said. “But I don’t really… what would that prove?”

“A point,” Dee said. “I believe I may add that to my schedule for next semester.”

“You’d really take a class with her just to prove a point?” I asked.

“Not solely,” Dee said. “I initially signed up for her class last year out of a desire to learn more about the surface elves from their own perspective. I would be… charitably hesitant… to conclude that I learned a larger lesson in that area. If Professor Ariadne should prove to be better than I suspect her of being, I will still achieve one goal.”

Two and her friend Hazel ambled over to joins us. Hazel had a box of some kind of little pastry bites in one hand and a cardboard coffee cup in the other. This was the first I’d seen of Hazel since the past spring. However frosty a reception she might have received back in her hometown, it looked like the summer had agreed with her. Her brown hair that had been a mess of curls before was shorter, as curly as ever, but more sort of styled up. She’d traded her floor-length farm dress for something a bit… wenchier, for lack of a better word.

She had a white peasant top that was tight enough and cut low enough to reveal that she actually did have curves… maybe one more curve than would have been fashionable for a human woman, but I believed gnomes appreciated a bit of belly.

Her long-pleated skirt did stop just above her ankles, to my surprise, and they showed off an odd sort of adornment: she had a red string with a single clay bead on it, wrapped around her left ankle, and a silver chain with bells on her right one. The furry hair on her feet wasn’t gone completely, but it had been very neatly trimmed and shaved into heart shapes.

“Hi, Mack,” Two said.

“Hey, Two,” I said. “Hazel.”

“Hello,” Hazel said. She held up the box, offering it around. “Anyone want a lembit? They’re pretty good.”

“No, thank you,” Dee said. “Wheat products disagree with me.”

“I kind of avoid baked goods unless I know they’re vegan,” Amaranth said.

“Not likely,” Steff said. “It probably has about a pound of butter in each one.”

“Nothing has to die to make butter, last I checked,” Hazel said. “Granted I haven’t kept up on the latest trends in extreme milking.”

“It’s still an animal product,” Amaranth said.

It was hard to say because I hadn’t exactly made a habit of peeking at Hazel in the shower, but it seemed like she’d filled out a little bit, and I didn’t just mean in the belly. She’d always had a womanly figure, underneath those dresses, but she looked a bit more… more. Though it might have just been that she had a more flattering support system in place.

“Oh, you, go ahead and stare… I’m secure enough in my what’s it called,” Hazel said.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I just… you look nice, Hazel.”

“Darn right I do,” Hazel said. “So, we doing this dinner thing? Not to be all impatient, but I’ve already been here more than an hour.”

“She’s been eating the whole time,” Two said.

“Snacking isn’t eating,” Hazel said. “It’s a stopgap measure at best, and there’s a danger in that if it goes on too long you won’t be hungry at all, and where’s that leave you?”

“Satisfied?” Dee suggested.

“Full isn’t satisfied,” Hazel said. “Full just means your hunger has been accommodated.”

“Baby, go tell Ian we’re ready… oh, never mind!” Amaranth said, as Ian, having finished whatever he’d been doing, had put his lute in its case and was heading over towards us.

“Hey,” he said, giving me a kiss on the cheek. “We all here now?” He looked around. “Two, wasn’t your friend Hazel here?”

“Was and am,” Hazel said.

“Alright,” he said. “Let’s go see what tolerance tastes like.”

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52 Responses to “Chapter 10: Centered”

  1. Angnor says:

    Fun chapter! Interesting little tidbits on Dwarves and Elves are always fun to read. Architecture!

    And I must say, unless I missed something, I’m still interested in hearing the resolution of Hazel’s ‘situation’.

    Current score: 1
    • WsntHere says:

      In one of the later chapters they decided to have a weekend slumber party to help keep McKenzie safe, which didn’t go as planned. Early in the party they had Two invite Hazel, who sent the message back that she would show up if Amaranth could mind her own business. When she walked in Amaranths’ eys bugged out and her jaw hit the floor. Hazel just nodded at her. I’d say she took care of it. Certainly seemed that way to me.

      Everything went fast after that, with McKenzie being a witness to fun and games and the rush to finish out the freshman year. Hasn’t been mentioned since.


      Current score: 0
  2. Meaglin says:

    Ook? Did I actually reply first?

    Current score: 0
  3. C8H9NO2 says:


    Also, “That wouldn’t happen if” seems to have dropped the rest of the sentence.

    Current score: 0
    • Tigre says:

      Could someone explain what this Ook thing is, please? I’ve been wondering for a while…

      Current score: 1
      • CB says:

        Way back when the story first started–well not when it *first* started– people would stay up and refresh the page around the time an update was expected. Those people were refresh monkeys. Refresh monkeys say “ook.”

        Current score: 1
        • capybroa says:

          …and why, exactly, do they say “ook?”

          Current score: 0
          • Wolff says:

            because the M in “mook” is silent

            Current score: 1
  4. Angnor says:


    One day into the new semester, more students seemed to be passing through to see what it was all about than actually looking at any of the exhibits.
    I’m probably wrong on this one, but for some reason it feels like the comma doesn’t belong…

    “I’m taking it seriously,” I said.”I’m
    Needs a space after said.

    In the pause realized that Amaranth
    “…I realized…” perhaps?

    Maybe she wouldn’t need to drop a class, but it would be better if she looked at it with clear eyes. That wouldn’t happen if
    Stops dead there before the next paragraph.

    Anyway, I think I’ll be able to manage. it’s really only one…
    “It’s” capitalization.

    Current score: 0
  5. Fatefox says:

    In the pause realized that Amaranth wasn’t talking about fault, she was just empathizing with the girl’s position…

    Seems to be missing the “I” between “pause” and “realized”.

    Interesting to see Hazel again. I would LOVE to see Dee take the class with the elven prof!

    Current score: 0
  6. Mime says:

    “Well, you still have time to change your schedule, if you decide it’s best to postpone one of your classes for a semester,” I said. It would have been shorter to say “you still have time to drop a class”, but that seemed like the sort of thing that would make her dig in her heels. Maybe she wouldn’t need to drop a class, but it would be better if she looked at it with clear eyes. That wouldn’t happen if

    Seems that there is something missing at the end.

    Current score: 0
  7. Lokean says:

    “Two and her friend Hazel ambled over to joins us”

    Incorrect tense?

    Current score: 0
  8. ylistra says:

    Possible typo:
    Two and her friend Hazel ambled over to joins us.

    “to joins”?

    Current score: 0
  9. Angnor says:

    It’s possible I’m seeing things, but did the font or letter ‘darkness’ or something change on the ‘Tales of MU” at the top of the pages? Sometime today?

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      The tag line is back to “High Fantasy – Higher Education,” I notice. It was something along the lines of “A Series of Goings-On” for a while. It changes the balance of the header just a little – that might be what you’re picking up on.

      Current score: 0
      • Angnor says:

        Nope. I noticed the changing to ‘A Series of Goings-On’ and back. The title font just looked different to me. Ah well.

        Current score: 0
  10. Nobody says:

    Heh. Gnomes.

    I liked it, even if it does represent the first in several weeks of fewer updates. I’d been associating “Elvish architecture” with Greco-roman stuff, but it’s interesting to see the details rather than the cultural role. Do dwarven bakeries adhere to the Discworld martial school of baking? Is that why there don’t seem to be dwarven shops in the Arch?

    …though I suppose they might just be being paranoid. S’cool to see dwarves as something other than “short, hirsute men”.

    Current score: 0
  11. Dralzz says:

    “young elven boys have this whole extreme machismo/girls-have-cooties things going on”
    Either ‘this’ should be ‘these’, or ‘things’ should be ‘thing’.

    I wonder what’s going to happen between Mackenzie and Meaghan, if anything. Callahan seemed to have opposed the idea of designated fighting partners in the last chapter…

    Current score: 0
  12. Zathras IX says:

    I could tolerate
    A tolerable place with a
    Taste of tolerance

    Current score: 0
  13. Vee says:

    Did Hazel… not abort? Or did she? Mackenzie is noticing a bit of a belly, and I think I remember something said about a long gestation period…

    Current score: 0
    • Month says:

      I would actually bet that she insists still, not being pregnant. See about stubborn in how Mack tries to tell Amaranth that she has taken too much classes.

      Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      Wasn’t it also suggested that carrying a half-dwarven baby would probably leave Hazel bedridden sooner rather than later?

      I think it’s more likely that Hazel’s gained whatever the equivalent of the Freshman Fifteen would be for someone her size – Mack’s also noticing that she’s wearing more form-fitting clothes, remember.

      Current score: 0
      • Zergonapal says:

        It could depend on Dwarven physiology, granted they are relatively short, for the human(oid) standard and stout, but is a dwarfs mass dense and if so are they born that way or rapidly gain mass once birthed?
        Also does a dwarf/halfling hybrid favour the mother or father? If anything Macks comments seem to suggest Hazels breasts are larger, which occurs during and after pregnancy. But how long was the time period between the end of Volume 1 and the new year? Perhaps she has already given birth and she decided it was best to either give up the baby for adoption or her mother is looking after it while she finishes her studies.

        Current score: 0
        • bramble says:

          When the possibility – or, according to Hazel, impossibility – of the pregnancy was first raised, Hazel estimated that Andreas weighed five times what she did, which Mack thought was a conservative guess. Even if dwarven infants are disproportionately lightly built, as compared to the adults, they’re probably still significantly more massive than gnomish infants.

          Volume one covered, what, something like six or eight weeks? Volume two picks up one year after the beginning of volume one. Here, Mack does the math on likely gestation time; dwarves gestate for 21 months and gnomes for 11, so she estimated that a hybrid would come to term in 16 months. If that’s accurate, Hazel would be near the start of her third trimester – probably out of “oh I think she’s got a bit of gut” territory and into “yup, that’s a pregnant woman” territory, especially considering the probability of a disproportionately large fetus.

          I think it’s more likely that she aborted when it was implied that she might have, and is simply dressing more revealingly now than she did a year ago. Remember, last year her usual was a high-collared, floor-length dress – now she’s showing both cleavage and feet. Mack’s eyes always gravitate to other girls’ breasts; it’s not surprising that she notices when Hazel starts dressing in such a way as to draw attention to hers.

          Current score: 1
    • Lee says:

      In a world so full of magic why do we only have those two options? Abort or not? They could have magically suspended the gestation until it’s more convenient, or transferred it to a hired host mother, or sold it as is. A lot of crazy things seem up for sale in this world. I think suspending it would be wildly convenient, since she’d already be technically pregnant, she couldn’t get knocked up again. I can’t imagine in a world where a Goddess of Fertility is walking around that they wouldn’t have a lot of magic aimed at this kind of situation.

      Current score: 0
    • WsntHere says:

      It was pretty obvious when she arrived at the weekend long slumber party that Hazel is pro-choice. Pay attention to the exchange between her and Amaranth when Hazel arrives.


      Current score: 0
  14. Month says:

    Mack has matured since the end of book 1, hasn’t see? She isn’t as much of an (enter preferred word here) like last semester. Though she still has some time before she messes something completely up…

    Current score: 0
  15. Cadnawes says:

    Hm. So So Iason’s most infuriating flaw is something he’ll grow out of.

    Oh, and I totally want to hang out at this place.

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      Yeah, for the lot of good that’ll do Jamie or any other non-elf who knows him now.

      Current score: 0
      • Cadnawes says:

        Yeah, I thought of that, too. I STILL don’t want to know the guy.

        Current score: 0
      • Kouros says:

        With his elven blood combining with those longevity earrings, I’m not so sure Jamie won’t live as long as Iason.

        Current score: 0
        • Month says:

          Meaning Iason most probably will be found with a dagger on his back?

          Current score: 0
  16. Zergonapal says:

    Ian’s mouth is gonna get him in trouble one of these days or make him a fortune, perhaps both 🙂

    Current score: 0
  17. “I initially signed up for her class last year out of a desire to learn more about the surface elves from their own perspective. I would be… charitably hesitant… to conclude that I learned a larger lesson in that area. If Professor Ariadne should prove to be better than I suspect her of being, I will still achieve one goal.”


    Ouch — I think our elven proffesor got burned – and by Dee, of all beings! xD

    Ooooh, Hazel, lovely new look~ Wonder what the ankle-bracelets mean/stand for? Rebellion against dwarven cultural norms?

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      I think you mean gnomish cultural norms – I don’t think we’ve seen anything one way or another as to how dwarves regard feet.

      I’m guessing it’s really risque for a gnome to show her feet like that, much less with the hair shaved into shapes and with those bracelets drawing attention…

      Current score: 0
  18. ShadowKat says:

    you missed a tag for TWO. good chapter! 🙂 is Hazel still with Andreas? or whatever his name is… I wish the story would hurry up and unfold but I like this sort of never ending theme too. every week something new and exciting happens!

    Current score: 0
  19. Greenwood Goat says:

    It would be interesting to hear about Dwarven poetry, whether they favour strict meter and rhyme schemes or whether they prefer blank verse, with all the unnecessary strictures eschewed.

    Steel blades are blue,
    And blood drops are red,
    Karl, keep your distance,
    Or I’ll make you dead.

    Eva, gird thee as thou may,
    Thou cannot win this war,
    Prepare the way, or meet the day,
    When I will burst thy door!

    (Karl and Eva did eventually marry, and had three children, twenty-seven major fractures and one serious explosion. They were later separated on safety grounds.) >:=)>

    Current score: 1
  20. FalseProphet says:

    If you don’t get the bells around Hazel’s ankles you might be forgetting one of the inherent traits of gnomish people. Their natural ability to go entirely unnoticed by most other races. She’s rebeling. The clothes, the first bracelet, the bells, the hair, the feet. In fact, for a gnome she’s probably as extreme as any of the more over the top “punk” culture.

    Current score: 1
    • Zukira Phaera says:

      Love it!

      Now she just needs to convince Two to wear a T-shirt that says “I’m with this gnome” and have it have an arrow on it pointing to the side Hazel usually stands on.


      Current score: 0
    • Dave says:

      Ah, Gnomish punk; that makes perfect sense. But why when I read about Hazels’ foot hair shaved into heart shapes did I think about the way some people shave pubic hair? Her exposed shaved feet would be particularly shocking to traditional gnomish society.

      And despite all the effort, Ian didn’t notice she was there before she spoke. Whereas Mackenzie has never realised that other people DON’T notice gnomes (or see in the dark) as she does.

      Current score: 0
  21. Miz*G says:

    As for the suggestion of Hazel having possibly given birth and her mom raising it…. Her mom’s dead and nobody else back home would be likely to do so. They’d probably just use the situation to validate their cultural discrimination against river folk.

    Current score: 0
  22. Longform says:

    Always psyched to see a new chapter up.
    Dunno if you want editorial feedback beyond the basic typo sort, so do with this what you will.

    “The university had shaped his vision to at least tacitly encompass all races… was that their dedication to equality causing them to leverage the boon they were being given to do the most good, or was it them lazily using something that was happening already in order to exert the minimal effort and say they’d done something?”

    A fair amount of ellipses in this chapter, but I had to read this sentence a couple times to realize what was off to me. Generally you continue the same thought on the other side of the ellipses, just using them to indicate a pause, but here you might be better served by a period to help the reader see you’re starting a new thought. It’s already a pretty long sentence as well.

    also: “I’m taking it seriously,” I said.”I’m just
    –missing a space and got the close quotes before “I’m just” instead of the open quotes.
    In the pause (I) realized that Amaranth wasn’t talking about fault,

    Loving the second year so far.

    Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      It’s an academic institution, by nature conservative and slow to change. I vote for lazy minimum.

      Current score: 0
    • Generally, no, I do not appreciate editorial advice, so advising me to “do what [I] will” with it is sort of tempting fate. 😉

      There is an error in that sentence… it’s missing an “it” between “was” and “that”. Putting that back in makes it easier to parse. As for the use of ellipses… I use them to indicate pauses in speech or thought, as well as to show where the next thought flows out from the preceding one, as it does here. The idea that the other side of an ellipses must continue the initial thought from before the pause is novel to me, as they’re frequently used to interrupt omissions and interruptions, like so:

      “Okay, Joe, let’s… wait, you’re not Joe.”

      Or cases where the initial thought just trails off incomplete, never to be picked up.

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    • Burnsidhe says:

      An ellipsis indicates dropped words, that’s all. What happens after the ellipsis can continue the same thought, or it can go on to a new thought.

      This can mean a pause in dialog or in thought, as the speaker processes what he or she wants to say, in addition to its classical “I removed some words from this quote” usage.

      As I understand the usage, an ellipsis indicates a longer pause than a semicolon or comma would. Certainly, I would not use a comma where I wanted a pause longer than a “natural breath” for speech.

      It can also mean a thought that trails off, like the way people will not end a sentence decisively in order to encourage comment from others on what they just said, without being an actual question. Or, as Erin said, one that is simply abandoned.

      English as a language is evolving. That’s why it’s not one of the world’s many dead languages.

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  23. riocaz says:

    Unless they have a way of guaranteeing that milk calves are always female, 50% of calves tend to be killed.
    They don’t have to be, but milking cows tend to produce crap beef steers.

    But thats assuming that milk production mirrors reality.

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  24. Hee @ Ian.

    Ooh, I wonder what the ankle adornments mean, if anything?

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  25. pedestrian says:

    I agree with Lee, that suspending a pregnancy would be a clever option including preventing another impregnation.

    And yes, I know that not all multiple births have the same father. But generally those happen when the woman releases two or more eggs at one time, then has multiple male-sex partners.

    I would suspect that Ian was teasing Hazel, pretending that he did not notice her after all the effort she has gone thru to make herself un-gnomishly apparent.

    Now, as my wife would have warned,I am invariably guessing wrong about any woman’s intentions.

    It usually took me a few days after some woman tried to put the moves on me before it sank in thru my thick cranium. “Oh that’s what she wanted! Du’ohh!” Alberta would make bets with her sister or friends just how long it would take for me to catch on.

    I was just wondering. A dwarf male is huge for a gnome female, a human male couldn’t be that much more massive? Could Hazel be lusting after our fair-haired bardic boy?

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  26. Khazidhea says:

    “Two and her friend Hazel ambled over to joins us”.
    Unless I’ve read that wrong, joins probably shouldn’t have an ‘s’

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  27. zeel says:

    I’ve never been a huge fan of architecture in general. That’s not to say that I turned my nose up at it or anything… it wasn’t like I went around going, ugh, another building or anything. I just didn’t really notice it all that much.

    One of the more interesting things about reading Mackenzie’s introspection, is her tendency to think/say things like the above. It’s as if she were talking to us actively, and realized what she said made no sense, so she needs to clarify.

    When writing, you can go back and make sure you said exactly what you meant – but here it’s as if she is talking to the readers, and can only move forward with her explanation.

    This makes her feel so much more “alive” as a character. And it’s also perfectly in character for her to say something such as the above, and then be self conscious as she rambles on trying to clarify.

    Current score: 1