Chapter 11: Arch Enemies

on May 2, 2011 in Volume 2: Sophomore Effort
Timeline: , , , ,

In Which Two Doesn’t Save Room For Dessert

The Arch’s dining hall was a smaller domed circle that slightly overlapped the main floor. Where the seating area protruded into the main body of the student life center, it was surrounded by a low wall to keep the open-air feeling.

It seemed more like a restaurant than a cafeteria, at least compared to the one in the student union. It was still buffet style, but more of the food was self-service, kept in heated or cooled trays on islands in the middle of the floor. The line of counters in front of the prep area were only for made-to-order stuff, which had been added to the menu as a solution to the problem of students with more specialized diet needs.

Goblinoids and reptilians can’t digest milk and its products. Neither, for that matter, can a lot of mammalian humanoids. Some races have traditionally preferred food that was quite a bit more or less cooked than local human cooking methods traditionally leave it. Vegetarians… whether by nature, divine edict, or inclination… also found themselves with a lot more options at the Arch.

We all had more options. My dietary needs weren’t being served, but I had them well enough in hand that I wasn’t going to ask the food services folk to procure a bit of human virgin blood every month for me. The rest of the time, I was happy to take advantage of the sandwich station that would make me a grilled chicken sandwich with a ton of bacon on it.

It had taken some serious prompting for me to rediscover the joys of solid food. I had a bit of a sweet tooth, but I also had a craving for meat that I could use to gauge the approach of my other craving.

“Would anybody have any objection to eating here more often?” Amaranth asked. She had a grilled eggplant sandwich, on bread that had been certified vegan.

“I wouldn’t,” Two said. She had taken a brownie sundae with her plate of food, on which there was an artfully arranged bit of chicken, asparagus, and mashed potatoes that were collectively smaller than her dessert, which she was eating first “to prevent excessive melting”. Two had always eaten… her original function as a living reservoir of magical power was enhanced by her having true-to-life life functions… but she had also only discovered the joy of doing so during our freshman year, and dessert was still one of her favorite things.

“I confess I find myself conflicted on that score,” Dee said. She had the top of some kind of mushroom, as large as a steak and prepared in the same fashion. “While the food here is certainly more palatable… and it is easier to avoid troublesome grains… I do believe that the stated goal of fostering a welcoming atmosphere for all, while laudable, has not been met.”

I had somewhat naively wondered if the reason she’d pulled her cloak around her and lowered the hood over her face was just because the more open construction left her feeling exposed. Now I realized what I… what most of us… had overlooked. I was so used to seeing Dee and Steff hanging out together that it had never occurred to me how uncomfortable she might be in a place where surface elves gathered, or a place that was in part a monument to surface elves and their culture.

I didn’t want to be too conspicuous about looking around, but I didn’t have to be… a group of five elven girls was lounging around just outside the low wall around the dining area, glaring daggers at our group. They were wearing gowns of gossamer-light material in the style that Steff’s more generously cut dress imitated. Two of them had scarves over their mouths, and one had a lacy veil covering her whole face.

“Yeah, I’m not really digging that part of the scenery myself,” Steff said. “I mean, there are reasons I lived in Harlowe and not Treehome, even before I met Viktor, you know?” She put her hands under her breasts and gave them a little shake, saying something else about how the bouncing bits didn’t help the bouncing bits helping the bouncing…

“Close your mouth, baby, your sandwich is falling out,” Amaranth said.

“Wow, I wish I could break her that way,” Ian said.

“I wish I could break her every way,” Steff said.

“I’m sorry, I guess I was staring a little bit,” I said, blushing madly.

“Oh, honey, you weren’t doing that, believe me,” Steff said.

“There’s nothing wrong with honest and open appreciation of your lover’s physical form,” Amaranth said. “Anyway… I guess I wouldn’t want to make you two have to choose between being uncomfortable and dining with us.”

“Why give them the satisfaction of letting them know they can run you off?” Hazel said.

“Hazel’s right,” Steff said. “Fuck those bitches right in their vaginas.”

Across the crowded floor, the elves visibly stiffened, their own sidelong conversations skidding to an abrupt halt. As vulgar as it was to anyone who understood Pax, among elves it was a bit like accusing a gnome’s mother of having sex on a boat while wearing shoes. Even in mixed-sex relationships, elves avoided procreative intercourse as a way of managing their unaging population.

“That isn’t quite what I said,” Hazel said.

“Whatever,” Steff said. “If they’re going to glare, that means they’re uncomfortable, and if they’re uncomfortable they can leave.”

“For the present time, I am inclined to agree,” Dee said. “I may find that my resolve weakens as my desire to eat in peace grows, but for now I say let them scowl as they will. We are as welcome here as they are.”

“You know what would really give them something to scowl at?” Steff asked.

“No, but I greatly fear that I am about to learn,” Dee said.

“If you and I just started making out in the middle of the room,” Steff said.

Dee gave this suggestion the response she thought it deserved, which is to say that she ignored it completely. Our audience, which could hear every word we were saying, was not as good at controlling its reaction… they all looked a mixture of revolted and embarrassed and were starting to slink off, giving as much of an impression as they could muster that they were leaving of their own accord, because they had better things to do.

“I’d expect elves to be more grown-up,” Hazel said. “Aren’t most of those folks in their fifties or so by the time they go off to school?”

“Yeah, but elven kids don’t get to join grown-up society until they turn a hundred,” Steff said. “It seems pretty awesome for the first decade or so but then you run out of stuff to do. Some of them end up joining human society, since they’re technically adults under Imperial law… but their own folks will treat whatever they’re doing as a childish hobby, sometimes even after they come of age. Like, ‘Oh, you’re still playing at being an investment banker?'”

“Ah, see, dwarves aren’t anything like that,” Hazel said. “My Andy had to work for a living for better than eleven years before they’d let him come here. Dwarves don’t get anything for free. They owe their clan service for every year they’re raised. Not a bad system, to my mind. Let kids be kids, let grown-ups be grown-ups, and in between they get plenty of time to find out how the world really works while their noses are to the grindstone.”

“Would you really want to do more than a decade of hard labor before you got to do anything you wanted with your life?” I asked.

“Can’t say how it would have suited me, since it didn’t happen,” Hazel said. “But, I mean, it seems like a better way of making sure everyone goes out into the world with her head screwed on straight than what most kinds of folks do. If Andy and I ever do have a kid… and we have given it a fair amount of thought, since, you know, last year… I’m not sure I’d mind raising them the dwarven way. At twenty-eight, he’d be just about grown-up anyway.”

“Really personal question,” Ian said.

“Ask it,” Hazel said.

“What would happen if you two had a girl?” Ian asked. “A little half-dwarven girl. Would Andreas go all grrr-smash on her when she grows up?”

“Well… that’s one of the reasons we’re still thinking,” Hazel said. “Neither one of us would mind a boy… we both have our reasons to not prefer a daughter… but so far as I know there isn’t any way to work that out in advance.”

“There isn’t,” I confirmed.

The slaver with the hilariously ironic name of Mercy had once offered me an almost unfathomable sum of money if I would have a girl with one of her “pet” half-demons, so she could breed even more of them. This was her back-up plan… her own preference was that I sell myself to her. As horrifying as the whole thing was on the surface, it would have potentially required me to have as many children as it took to get a girl one.

“Mother Khaele hears prayers on that score, but it’s an area where it’s really hard to say if she ever really answers them,” Amaranth said. “There’s definitely no mortal power that can force the matter.”

“Doesn’t dating a dwarf get awkward when you’re rooming with a kobold?” Ian asked Hazel. “Or two kobolds, I guess.”

“Closer to one and a half,” Hazel said. “Granted Shiel’s just a bitty slip of a thing to begin with, but Nae’s downright, what do you call it, diminutive. And quiet, too… I could almost forget she was there most of the time.”

“Did you say Nae?” Amaranth said.

Nae… that was why the tiny kobold in my class had seemed slightly familiar. I’d only seen her once before, and that time she’d been fully ensconced in bondage gear, but her size was very distinctive.

“Yeah,” Hazel said. “You know her? Guess I shouldn’t be too surprised… I guess you’re sort of into her scene, aren’t you?”

“We’ve met her in passing,” Amaranth said.

“Anyway, she’s obviously got nothing to say against dating a dwarf, and as long as she is, then Shiel can’t say anything against Andy without it getting all awkward-like,” Hazel said.

“So she and Caron are still together, then?” Amaranth said.

“In a manner of speaking,” Hazel said. “Obviously Caron can’t visit her here… dwarven men and women mix like oil and water, if ‘water’ means ‘fire’… and this is men’s territory, in their eyes. Nae said that Caron is letting her have her liberty while she finishes her education, though she doesn’t seem to be in any real hurry to chase after anyone, or be chased.”

I exchanged a look with Amaranth. We both knew… or strongly suspected… that the “liberty” in this case was more literal. Nae’s education had been previously interrupted by Caron’s entirely legal enslavement of her, as punishment for trying to steal from her store on a dare. Caron claimed to have offered Nae freedom papers many times since then, but Nae had always torn them up. If she’d re-enrolled in the university it meant she must have finally accepted them.

The realities of slavery in the Imperium were brutal. We’d come all the way up to the point of nearly abolishing the institution about half a century before, when it had become apparent that legally and philosophically an entity could either be a person or property but not both. The improvements in enchantment and automation had helped bring us to that point by making slave labor less economically feasible… golems were expensive, but so were slaves, and golems lasted longer and could be made to fulfill specific purposes better.

With demand for slaves slacking, universal rights activists had pushed for legal abolition. Unfortunately, the entities that were in favor of the status quo wielded more power and influence, and so when the question had come before the Dread Tribunal, they had ruled that yes, a person could not be property… but rather than ruling the institution of slavery untenable, they had ruled that slaves weren’t people.

That was the end of any legal protection slaves had enjoyed. They now had fewer rights than a hunting dog or a draft horse… the notion of trying to get animal cruelty laws to apply to intelligent, free-willed beings had been too bitter a pill for many abolitionists to swallow.

There was now a slave welfare movement separate from the abolition one, but the fact was there wasn’t a lot of opposition on either front. The changing economic situation meant that slavery had become a plaything for the rich and powerful. Out-and-out slave labor still existed in places where modernization was seen as too expensive, and those places tended to be remote and far removed from the public eye. There was no public face of slavery any more because the public in general rarely had to face up to it.

I’d had plenty of opportunities to think about it in the past year, having been targeted for slavery by Mercy, but for most people it didn’t even impinge on their consciousness. It was easy to forget that slaves existed, or to accept their lack of personhood as a matter of actual and not just legal fact.

Even my passing acquaintance with Caron was tied up in the issue… she had tried, albeit somewhat half-heartedly, to trap me in a position where she could sell me to Mercy. She used the Imperium laws on slavery… which allowed shopkeepers with clearly posted signs to take thieves as slaves… to basically enforce her own legal death penalty, since that was what usually happened to people Mercy owned.

She shrugged it off as no more than people who try to steal from her should expect or deserve, but it was impossible for me to think of her as a good or even decent person. That made it difficult for me to know what to think of Nae, at once her victim and loving partner.

It had been Nae’s disapproval that had made Caron’s efforts to snare me half-hearted, but Nae stayed with her knowing that she was the sort of person who would sell another into bondage and death. She’d accepted her legal slavery as a point of pride until it became inconvenient and then she’d cast it off, an option most slaves didn’t have.

The appeal wasn’t completely foreign to me… after all, I enjoyed the feeling of being objectified through play. I found it relaxing to yield control. During my first year with Amaranth, I had encountered the idea that what I was doing was disrespectful to the people who really were used as toys and treated as objects under the law.

It had gnawed at me, but I’d come to understand the comparison was false. I hoped one day to have the resources to make a real contribution to the cause of abolition, but for the present time… regardless of what I did or did not do with Amaranth… I wasn’t condoning or participating in the institution of slavery. We treated each other with decency, and we tried to do the same for others.

Of course, for all that I condemned Caron, there was the fact that I enjoyed the benefits of citizenship in a country that had been built with slave labor and that still gave cover to atrocities. It was something I’d always known about… well, not always. We were all children once.

My adolescence and what followed had not given me much room to believe that the world was a fluffy place full of bright shining golden lights… I knew there were ugly things in it because I’d been told that I was one of them, and I feared what golden lights there were as things that would only harm me.

My grandmother had always believed the Imperial Republic of Magisteria’s government was only flawed insofar as all mortal governments are flawed. She’d made it clear that she believed it was the next best thing to governance by the divine hand of Lord Khersis himself. I’d been pretty willing to accept the dichotomies of good versus evil that she had set up for me when they impugned my soul, but to my credit I’d sometimes been less willing to believe her when she started talking about the faults and failings of others.

Oh, sure, I swallowed quite a bit of her prejudiced bullshit… I was nine when she first took me in, and I was taken in as only a child can be. I was still unraveling the assumptions she’d planted in my head after more than a year of freedom. But I’d never been willing to believe that the plight of slaves was something they brought on by themselves, or that it was the will of Khersis.

“Wow, I guess Nae’s not very popular,” Hazel said, misattributing the sudden silence around the table. While Ian and Steff hadn’t been present for our interactions with Caron and Nae, they knew the story. Dee probably did, too. She was the model of discretion, but she was also a telepath and empath with elven hearing who had lived in the room next door to me for my entire freshman year.

“Nae seemed like a sweet girl,” Amaranth said. “Or young woman, I suppose. We just don’t know her very well.”

“Ah, I know what you mean. She’s an odd duck,” Hazel said. “Wears a collar and sleeps on the floor. It can be hard to get past that sort of thing.”

“We probably just need to spend more time with her,” Amaranth said.

“Well, you’re welcome to come over any time,” Hazel said. “She seems like she could use a few more friendly faces around… she jumps at everything. Even her own shadow’s afraid of its own shadow. Anyway, we’ve a bit more room for entertaining than you do, I expect.”

“Yeah, I’m already planning on coming over this weekend,” Ian said. “If not sooner… but I’ve got my first battle of the year on Saturday, with all my own soldiers for the first time.”

“Oh, right,” Hazel said. “Shiel said you’d started carving.”

“Well… most of them I bought or traded for,” Ian said. “I did carve some of them myself. Granted, they’re all earth elementals and stone giants, but still, it’s a start.”

Even though Ian had worked his way through his gladiatorial aspirations, he hadn’t given up the idea of play-fighting… he’d just taken it to what was either a larger or smaller scale, depending on how you looked at it. Even if it was just because big hulking creatures that happened to be made out of rock were easier to make than little finely detailed humanoid soldiers, I thought it was kind of fitting that his army was skewing towards the plane of earth. Despite his pyromantic father’s hopes for him, Ian had a lot of earth influence in him.

While I couldn’t bring myself to be excited over massive war games involving tiny playing pieces, I was glad that a topic of conversation had presented itself. I knew that serious issues like slavery or the lurking menace that people like Mercy posed to me personally weren’t about to go away just because I didn’t acknowledge them, but they also weren’t going to be solved by stewing over them.

I’d just made it through the first day of my second year. It was a small accomplishment, but big accomplishments… like finishing a year of school, or graduating… were made of little ones. If I’d learned anything in my first year, it was that getting small things done was better than waiting for big ones to happen. It was how they happened.

And so… surrounded by friends, enjoying better food than we’d come to expect, I looked back on the close of my first day, and forward to the next one.

Friday: Another familiar professorial face or two, and more refugees from the other side of the story.

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54 Responses to “Chapter 11: Arch Enemies”

  1. Hey, all! Just an announcement… my e-book The Gift of the Bad Guy is on sale this week. The minimum price has been temporarily slashed to 49 cents to celebrate the fact that I no longer have to manually fulfill every order.

    On a related note, the special edition Author Appreciation copies will be going off the market after May 21st, so get them while they’re… extant.

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    • Zergonapal says:

      Can you access an e-book with Adobe or is there a special program required to read e-books? It seems a a pretty obvious question, but I’ve no experience with e-books.

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      • Novaseer says:

        AE kindly provides them as PDF files – Adobe should be fine for your e-book reading needs… it’s an awesome book BTW, buy it – no, wait – buy two or three, spread the love 🙂

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      • nobody says:

        ebooks in general are a huge subject; there are a large number of different formats out there, competing it out to see which will “win”. some of them you need special readers for, most will open in fairly generic software.

        PDF is a commonly used one, but has drawbacks in that it can’t be reflowed — the word and letter spacing is fixed, the lines break where they’re set to, it’s basically prepared for printing onto paper; ebook readers often prefer formats where they can break lines and pages dynamically, to fit the screen. still, PDFs are dead easy (and free!) to create using most any software out there, so i’m not surprised that many authors use it even for e-publishing.

        the current “top dog” format for pure e-publishing seems to be EPUB. it’s an open standard that’s free to use, but there aren’t yet that many import/export plug-ins for major word processors and such, so it’s still kindof tricky to create. if you’re looking for ebooks to read, look for epub or PDF in that order. somewhere in between them you might rank plain old RTF and Mobi (a semi-open standard that originated on PDAs).

        several manufacturers also have proprietary formats that work only with their equipment, and/or are locked down with digital restrictions management. these should be avoided unless you simply can’t find a title in any open format. notably some (older? bigger selling?) kindle titles fall under this heading, regrettably.

        as for reading ebooks, i myself use FBReader on my laptop PC. it handles most of the open and semi-open formats and works quite well for me; your mileage may vary.

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      • This particular one is in PDF and EPUB. So yes, Adobe’s reader program will read one format, and the EPUB format can be viewed by several free programs. You get both formats when you buy, because some people will want to read it on multiple platforms.

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  2. Calia says:

    It was a small accomplishment, but big accomplishments… like finishing a year of school, or graduating… were made of big ones.
    Big accomplishments… were made of little ones?

    A bit of a slower pace and a little more introspective than the classroom chapters, but good overall 🙂

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  3. Janus says:

    “but I also had a craving for meat that I could use to what gauge the approach of my other craving. ” What indeed.

    “Anyway… I guess I wouldn’t want to make you two have to choose between being uncomfortable and dining with us.”

    “Granted Shiel’s just a bitty slip of a thing of to begin with,”
    of to?

    “Anyway, she’s obviously got nothing to say against dating a dwarf, and as long as she is, then Shiel can’t say anything against Andy without it getting all awkward-like,”
    Maybe “she’s obviously fine with dating a dwarf”, or “and as long as she doesn’t”? As is, it’s all awkward-like. 😛

    “My grandmother had always believed the Imperial Republic of Magisteria’s was only flawed insofar as all mortal governments are flawed.”
    The IRM’s what was only flawed?

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    • bramble says:

      “Anyway, she’s obviously got nothing to say against dating a dwarf, and as long as she is, then Shiel can’t say anything against Andy without it getting all awkward-like,”
      Maybe “she’s obviously fine with dating a dwarf”, or “and as long as she doesn’t”? As is, it’s all awkward-like.

      I’d taken this to mean that Nae had told her roommates about the fact that she’s involved with a dwarf – Nae has nothing to say against dating a dwarf [because her own partner is a dwarf], and as long as she is [involved with Caron], then Shiel can’t say anything against Andy without it getting all awkward-like.

      Of course, revealing her relationship with Caron to Shiel might have been a risky move, but Shiel tends to be incredibly liberal, especially by kobold standards.

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      • Zergonapal says:

        hrmmmm, perhaps you need to make a typo submit form AE, I mean its great that people care enough to take the time to point them out. But I’d rather be reading peoples thoughts on the story.
        But y’all keep up the great work ya hear?

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        • Lyssa says:

          Agreed. Sifting through them is a bit annoying, especially since you do adjust as you go. So some of them are uninteresting and don’t pertain to anything that exists anymore.

          And it’s especially annoying when some of you guys get into grammar wars. This coming from an English major. My goodness! It’s usually just semantics.

          But yes. A form or something would be nice.

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        • No amount of “Put Typo Corrections Here” would actually get new people to not post them in comments. I’d rather keep them all in one place.

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  4. Abeo says:

    The title made me think “Sooni”. I’m glad I was wrong.

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    • Kallio says:

      Aw, come on. Don’t you know Sooni’s the real heroine?

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  5. bramble says:

    Oh, Steff.

    Also, I’m a little surprised at how openly they’re discussing Caron and Nae’s relationship here – didn’t Caron indicate that if the greater dwarven community found out about them, it was likely that they’d both be killed? I’d think that Mack & Co. would be a little more careful about talking about it in the middle of a campus with a significant dwarven population.

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    • Jennifer says:

      Yes, I was surprised by this as well. Perhaps Nae and Caron actually “came out”, so to speak, by letting their relationship become known. Or perhaps they found that Dwarves don’t have any problems with Kolbolds being enslaved by Dwarves, since, well, that doesn’t really imply a relationship between equals. And may even have a history between two races of ancient enemies.

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      • Lyssa says:

        I don’t think so. Caron was made so uncomfortable about the idea of Amaranth knowing (and possibly telling someone) that she made sure they could pull off their performance, thereby eliminating any chance of her sending them off to Mercy. She was intensely disturbed and afraid of the idea.

        It seems to me that she must have already thought this through by then, so the thought that they had come out to everyone since that time is dubious. At best. I don’t have any real guesses about what happened, but I suspect it’s something more interesting and less plot-devicey than that. AE is a wily one.

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    • Abeo says:

      Different dwarves. Aren’t any female dwarves on campus.

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      • Kevin says:

        I haven’t seen any.

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        • bramble says:

          Male and female dwarves don’t get along, but I’d assume that the “ancient ancestral enemies” thing with kobolds would supersede that.

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  6. Emmy says:

    Typo report-
    “I had a bit of a sweet tooth, but I also had a craving for meat that I could use to what gauge the approach of my other craving.”

    Is that a superfluous “what”, or am I misreading? This is the first time I’ve done one of these- I’m usually afraid to contribute to your inundation with them. Still, I see no one else has said anything, which leads me to wonder if it’s my reading comprehension, in which case I must of course apologize for wasting your time.

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  7. sliversith says:

    Small correction (I think?)

    Second to last paragraph:
    “It was a small accomplishment, but big accomplishments… like finishing a year of school, or graduating… were made of big ones.”

    I feel should read:
    “It was a small accomplishment, but big accomplishments… like finishing a year of school, or graduating… were made of SMALL ones.”

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    • sliversith says:

      Whoops. Already caught. Damn me and my poor reading skills 😛

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  8. Zathras IX says:

    Steff’s new bouncing bits
    Have more bounce to the ounce than
    Those she likes to pounce

    Current score: 1
  9. monsterzero says:

    Dread Tribunal = Dred Scott Decision?

    Say, is there a map of Mackenzie’s world? A political map would obviously look very different, but would a physical/topographical map of her world be identical to one of our own?

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    • sliversith says:

      Would LOVE to see a map sketched out of the Tales of MU world

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      • Vee says:

        Me too! Even a rough sketch that’s labeled would make it easier for me to follow what’s happening when a continent or country is mentioned.

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    • No, it wouldn’t be identical. There are some very rough similarities but they have different landmasses.

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      • zeel says:

        Not to mention magical lands that can not be mapped.

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        • Kevin says:

          Ignoring that which cannot be mapped, from the sounds of it the Shift (which sort of has an Eastern Europe feel) is both closer and less East and more West than real world equivalents.

          Now this is just an estimate AE could be thinking something completely different.

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          • If the IRM occupied the same space as the United States, the Shift would be a region primarily covering parts of what is Russia. Travel between the two regions is usually by polar flight.

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            • Lyssa says:

              I’ve always sort of considered Terry Pratchett’s idea of “What is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons?” to apply here, honestly. But then, I’m not a map-lover, so that could be it, too. I don’t see it adding much of anything.

              Still, maybe someone could put it up as one of the Tales of MU art pieces. Interpretations based on information given could be neat, even if they aren’t accurate.

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            • zeel says:

              I have always thought it would be interesting to see. The MU-world/real-world parallel is an incredibly intriguing part of the story.

              Question: We know there are plains of existence besides that in which MU is located, extra-plainer stuff has been seen before, the EFB for one. Would the “real-world” exist in the MU omniverse? Would it be, in theory (and fictionally of course), possible to travel between the two?

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            • spoonybrad says:

              Dan’s dragon buddy mentioned plans for travel between parallel worlds, and said so far the path he is aware of seems to follow a string where humans are the same and everything else including the existance of anything but humans is up for grabs. So at least a similar world probably does yeah

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            • The Dark Master says:

              I give my full support for map of 90% of the world of Tales of Mu to be made. Hey, has anyone run an RPG in this world or a world like it yet?

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            • zeel says:

              RPGs are fun. . .

              Would definitely be interesting. Magic as the every-day rather than a heroes only sort of thing.

              As for a map, it would be cool, just to get the general placements of things. Many famous fantasy books have the first two pages covered by a map, so readers can follow. However those tend to deal with great quests, and journeys. Mackenzie only goes as far as the town.

              A map of the campus (wasn’t there one at some point?) might be nice. I never can figure out where all the buildings are in relation.

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            • Yeah, that’s pretty much my idea, too… also, filling in the whole map of the world in exacting detail strikes me as terrible world-building. I mean, it would have to be terrible world-building unless it happened to be perfect world-building. Sure you can get everything right exactly where you’ll need it to be in advance in one go? Make a detailed map of the world! Not sure? Better off with HTBDing it.

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            • zeel says:

              So the “mother islands” would be around Europe? and Sooni is from the general area of japan?

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            • The Dark Master says:

              I think the “mother islands” is the United Kingdom.

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            • zeel says:

              Right, but the exact location may not be there, but somewhere in Europe. It dose obviously serve the same historical purpose.

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            • spoonybrad says:

              I tend to get feels of both europe and ancient rome from it.

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            • spoonybrad says:

              Its definitely alot bigger than england at least lol..although maybe its capitol is somewhere around there (equivalent)

              It seems to fill both roles of england/europe and aincent rome…
              could just be me tho lol

              ex: that general’s family line killed off bit, Rome did that sometimes. Also they mention old empire architecture when describing things like columns which in our world are aincent roman etc.

              I just figured the undying emperor represents an equivelent of ancient rome when it included europe and it just never fell in this world since hes some sort of undying creature and had magic on his side when repelling the sacking barbarian hordes(similar to magic winning mu’s version of little bighorn with telaported troops). So that whole general europe region and some extras where they spread over the equivalent of most of where both rome and European powers like england had in our world

              and the bits about spread too thin and going raggity at the edges is like europe losing former colonies like india and rome shrinking back(when it shed europe and eastern roman empire doing the same later on etc.) just a bit less so and more slowly

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            • zeel says:

              Ya, something like that.

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      • erianaiel says:

        Not to mention they have extraplanar lands, pocket dimensions and entire forests the size of a medium country that are even bigger on the inside …

        And all we have to compare to that is Second Life …

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  10. Readaholic says:

    Om nom nommy noms! Excellent update Ms Erin. I like Steff’s way of getting rid of elvish eavesdroppers.

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  11. The Other Leighton says:

    Can someone post a link back to the chapter where Caron threatens to enslave Mack and Nae’s reaction?

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    • erianaiel says:

      But it is much more fun to try to find it for yourself (and read a couple of dozen chapters again) …

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    • beappleby says:

      Caron and Nae can’t be in all that many chapters! There’s actually a search box for the ToMU website. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t spot it – it’s smack in the middle of the ads, looks like part of one, and I couldn’t find it myself when I was actively looking for it a few weeks ago!

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  12. Miss Lynx says:

    “You know what would really give them something to scowl at?” Steff asked.

    “No, but I greatly fear that I am about to learn,” Dee said.

    I really love Dee’s dry comebacks to Steff’s excesses.

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  13. Erm says:

    among elves it was a bit like accusing a gnome’s mother of having sex on a boat while wearing shoes.

    adventurous sex on a boat while wearing shoes.

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    • Helen Rees says:

      I’m not sure they get more adventurous than ‘on a boat while wearing shoes’.

      I guess one of them could be dipping their shod feet over the side, mind…

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      • Calia says:

        Except that “adventurous” is an insult, too…

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  14. Oitur says:

    “…getting small things done was better than waiting for big ones to happen.”

    Thanks, AE. Well said. My new motto.

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  15. Alan Rustwater says:

    I love it when we get more socio-economics and historical background. Keep it up!

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  16. Avire says:

    Been a while since my last comment (i lurk ;P)

    But this last part
    “… If I’d learned anything in my first year, it was that getting small things done was better than waiting for big ones to happen. It was how they happened.”

    i absolutely love it.

    i honestly dont think i have thought that thought before, but now i cant stop. it has quite a bit of meaning, perhaps i should read more.

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