Chapter 250: Guarded Conversation

on September 18, 2014 in Volume 2 Book 7: Courtly Manners, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Pala Gets The Message

After I left the inn, I found myself thinking that there were so many variables in my plan to meet up with Pala there… not the least of which was the unknown and unknowable nature of the inn itself… that it really probably would have been preferable to just try to catch her in a quiet moment on campus and hope for the best.

It was still true that an extended conversation between Glory’s new girlfriend/chosen agent and the littlest storm giant would probably be marked by her would-be enemies, but that was a known risk. I could take precautions against it.

Meeting Pala at her off-campus accommodations had been meant as an example of such a precaution, but the only thing even close to a known quantity in the inn was the LaBelle woman who worked as a waitress. While Amaranth would chide me for judging an entire extended family on the basis of… well, every single member of it that I’d met, but mostly the first one… there was just something about her that didn’t inspire confidence.

Still, I’d made the plan, and the worst-case scenario was that I’d show up and Pala wouldn’t have got the message. Well, actually, that was probably very far from the worse case scenario, but I had no idea what the actual worst-case scenario might be… that was the thing about unknowns.

The point was, I waited a bit after my next fighting class and then headed back to the hedge on the eastern edge of campus where the door was hidden. Passing as I close as I did to the administrative building gave me the willies, just as it had before, but knowing where I was going meant that I didn’t have to spend that long in the penumbra of Mr. Embries.

If being in sight of the office where he lurked was too close for comfort, being in another plane of existence entirely was almost far enough away for me to relax afterwards.

There was no sign of either the mercurial Lily or the unsettling gentleman with the dwarven name, but Johnny was at the bar again… or maybe still, depending on how time worked from his point of view. He saw me come in, and nodded towards the far end of the counter.

I nodded back in thanks, though it was kind of a superfluous gesture. The one good thing about looking for Pala was that she was easy to find., since she stood head and shoulders above the crowd. Actually, I think the inn was the first place I saw her standing completely upright outside of the high-ceilinged fighting salles in the athletic center. I hadn’t noticed the ceilings in the inn being quite that high when I’d last visited, but I realized that probably didn’t mean much.

She was standing by the bar, holding an oversized mug of something. She was engaged in conversation with another woman who looked like she might have been a distant relative. Her hair had much more of a reddish tinge to it than Pala’s straw blonde hair, but she was just statuesque, and a giant among humans if not visibly an actual giant. I guessed she was probably taller than Amaranth, somewhere towards the deep end of six foot… though it was hard to tell when the nearest size reference was Pala.

I noticed her because her red leather armor looked like something right out of Mecknights: sleek, studded with bands and rivets, and more form-fitting and all-encompassing than such real armor tended to be. Actually, to be honest, it didn’t really quite match anything from the show so much as what I’d always envisioned my original character Blaze Knight wearing back in my fanfiction days. That was the real reason it stood out.

Of course, I’d always envisioned Blaze as more thin and wiry, and with a mop of straight dark hair, not a cascade of strawberry curls. That, and he was a dude.

I didn’t mean to stare at her, but I could so easily picture her astride a motorcycle in that get-up, cutting a swath through an army of mechanoids with the huge battleaxe she wore on her back or something.

Realizing that I probably looked like as much of a dimensionally provincial rube as I actually was, I shook the image out of my head and headed towards them.

Pala noticed me as I approached.

“Oh, hello!” she said. “Thank you for coming to visit me! You are only the third person from university to do so. I was surprised when I got your message, though. I have never been sure that you liked me. Or that I like you! But I like having visitors.”

“Uh… well, I kind of wanted to talk to you away from campus,” I said. She sounded so lonely when she said that, and I found myself in the awkward situation of really feeling for her and having to repress the urge to pump my arm and shout yes!… or do whatever I would do in a situation like that, since that wasn’t something I would do.

“Well, we are away from campus now!” she said. She gestured to the woman next to her. “Oh, and this is the friend I was telling you about.”

“Hey,” the other woman said.

“Hey,” I said back, though I had no idea what she was talking about, and there was a good chance that she didn’t, either. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a conversation with Pala about anything other than classroom instructions, but she was something of an airhead by nature. I don’t mean that as an insult, it was her elemental affinity. The theory of balance said that there had to be an upside to it, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Maybe an air-affinity would have helped me see it. “This is still kind of public… is there somewhere we could talk without being overheard?”

While Pala had said she didn’t get many visitors, it didn’t follow that nobody else on campus knew about and visited this place… and while not all of them looked like they could be local, there were certainly elves among the crowd.

“Take one of the booths,” the other woman said, gesturing towards a wall that I now noticed was inset with raised booth-style seatings behind beaded curtains. “They’re more private than they look. I’ll watch your drink, Tiny.”

“Okie dokie,” Pala said, setting her mug down on the counter. “But this time, watch with your eyes, not your mouth!”

The other woman laughed.

“Why didn’t you just take it with you?” I asked as we headed towards the booth.

“Oh, I can’t afford to walk with them anymore,” Pala said. “Johnny won’t let me charge any more of them to my room.”

“He charges you money for walking with his mugs?” I asked.

“He charges me money for breaking them,” Pala said, right as we reached the recessed seating area, where she stumbled on the lip. “Whoops!”

I have to admit, my first thought was a really uncharitable and massively unfair one about her ability to walk and talk at the same time, but it was banished by the pang of sympathy I felt when I recalled all the times I’d been too distracted by what was in my head to notice where my feet were.

“Are you okay?” I asked, rushing forward. “Did you hurt anything?”

“Um, I don’t think so,” she said. “The, um… furnishings… are harder to break than the vessels.”

“I meant, did you hurt yourself?”

“Only my knee,” she said. “I think it will be fine if I sit for a while.”

It seemed unthinkable that the booth we picked would be sized so that she could fit perfectly in the bench on her side and I could sit comfortable in the opposite bench, so I didn’t think about the fact that it had been. Maybe the inn had just been a waystation between the giant realm that Pala as from and the world where she went to school, but even if it hadn’t, I could see why it would be appealing for someone who was too small or too big for both the worlds she knew.

Suddenly the task of convincing her to come stay on campus over break seemed a lot harder. Slightly higher ceilings wouldn’t be much of a selling point compared to a place where she could just fit.

“Thanks for meeting me,” I said, remembering both my manners and the fact that Pala tended to think of me and my friends as generally kind of rude and suspicious. “I wanted to ask you… um, what do you know about elves? I mean, the middling ones around campus.”

“I know some of them!” she said. “Asphodelos, Semele…”

“I meant, do you know about their politics and stuff?” I said, then realized that the roundabout approach was probably completely wrong. “Okay, let me start again… do you know anything about an elf named Glory?”

“Oh, yes! The dwarves are very interested in her,” she said.

“They are?”

“Yes, they will gamble on anything,” she said.

“What… oh,” I said. “They’re betting on whether she succeeds?”

“They’re betting on everything,” she said.

“… do you know if anyone’s betting that she’ll be attacked before the end of winter break?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” she said. “Certainly not!”

“Well, that’s something,” I said.

“Nobody would take that bet,” she said. “They say it isn’t a gamble.”

…and that was something else.

“Yeah, well… it’s my job to change those odds,” I said. “Um… I probably should have opened with this, but I need you to promise that you won’t talk about this with anyone else.”

“I’ll talk about gambling with anyone I want,” she said.

“I mean… I’d like to make you an offer, but it has to be secret,” I said. She didn’t seem any happier to hear that… in fact, the look on her face suggested that she was offended and scared… so I added, “Not secret like… like a secret, but… a security thing. Um… you know how the dwarves have secrets they don’t want you to share with anyone?”

“How do you know about those?” she said, her eyes wide.

“…well, I don’t know what secrets they are, I just know that dwarves have certain expectations for the people they let in to their circles,” I said. “This is like that.”

“Oh, well… those kinds of secrets are okay to keep,” Pala said.

“The thing is, like I said, it’s my job to keep Glory’s building safe, and the way I’m trying to do it is by inviting people to stay there over the break… people who will make the other middlings think twice about messing with her, and who will be able to handle themselves if they do it anyway.”

“Oh! Did you want me to ask Val to do it for you?” Pala asked.

“Who the hell is Val?”

“My friend I was telling you about,” she said.

“I’m asking you, Pala,” I said. “Glory will pay you… which might help with your broken glass tab… but it’s not just money she’s offering. It’s… camaraderie.” I’d almost said friendship, but I wasn’t sure Glory would appreciate me using that word explicitly at this point in the development of her court’s new direction. “A place on campus where you’d belong.”

“I would… move in?” Pala said.

“If you wanted to,” I said. “But we could also just say that you’d have a place in Oberrad House, when you wanted to be closer to campus life… but you could keep whatever accommodations you have here for when you need some place you can stretch out more.”

“This is not a sex thing?”

“No… definitely not,” I said. “I mean, most of Glory’s people are lesbians, but it’s not a requirement. Um… though… I know you know my friend Steff. I should tell you that she will be there, too, but it won’t be just you and her. it’s a big place. You’ll have your own room.”

“Steff is less bawdy than some of the dwarves, but she is more… I don’t know…”

“She does like to test boundaries,” I said. “But she’s not going to do more than gawk and talk.”

“I will not be gawked at or talked to,” Pala said. “Not the way that she does it.”

“I’ll make sure she knows not to,” I said. I’d intended to say if you say yes when I’d started talking, but it occurred to me that I really shouldn’t qualify that. I didn’t know how often Pala and Steff interacted… but knowing how much it bothered Pala when they did, I really should say something.

“…I do not know,” Pala said. “I am not supposed to be picking fights.”

“I don’t think anybody should pick fights,” I said. “I don’t like fighting… that’s why I don’t really like fighters. But this isn’t about picking fights, it’s about stopping them… and maybe teaching people who pick fights not to do it. Anyway, fighting is only one possibility. Whether it comes down to a fight or not, you’ll still get paid, and you’ll still have a chance to find a sense of belonging.”

“Hmmm… you said it will not be just Steff and myself,” Pala said. “There will be others?”

“Yeah, but… no one’s confirmed yet,” I said. “Anyway, I feel like the other individuals involved should be kept on a need-to-know basis. I told you about Steff because I thought it might affect your answer.”

“Well, this will affect my answer, too,” Pala said. “My answer will be yes if I may invite a friend.”

“Is it that Val woman?” I asked.

“Do you want me to ask her?”

I hadn’t, but when she said it, I honestly thought about it. She looked to be plenty capable, and while elves did tend to underestimate humans, she was visibly muscular in a way I thought might trigger their lingering doubts about what a human’s actual capabilities might be.

But I hadn’t talked to Glory about bringing anyone into the potential conflict from outside campus, much less outside reality as we knew it. It seemed like that might lead to some sort of escalation.

“Not if she’s not a student h… at MU,” I said. “I’d like to keep things among the student body for now. Who did you have in mind, if not her?”

“Semele,” she said.

“…you have problems with Steff but you’re friends with Semele?” I said.

Semele was more of a misfit among the middlings than Glory and Grace… in fact, when I thought about it, I didn’t even know if she lived in Treehome to begin with. She copied the aggressive swagger of the more predatory middling elves, but lacked their smoothness and subtlety.

“She is all bark and no cattle,” Pala said, which I thought was probably a mixed metaphor, but I knew what she meant. The fact that Semele never seemed to get anywhere with anyone… except Amaranth… and she never actually preyed on anyone made her more pathetic than scary. That didn’t make her typical come-ons any less disturbing. “She needs to belong somewhere, too!”

“I’m… honestly not sure how Glory would take to Semele,” I said. “I mean, Glory’s not… she’s different than most elves, but other elves don’t…”

As I tried to explain it, I found myself really conflicted. First, I was having a hard time not sympathizing with Semele and judging Glory for what I imagined that her reaction would be, but of course I didn’t know that she’d react badly… and I honestly didn’t know Semele enough to vouch for her.

I didn’t know Pala that much better, but I’d at least seen her fulfilling the responsibilities of a teaching assistant on a regular basis. Even if we’d never sat down and talked, I’d spent an hour a day most days for most of a semester in her presence.

“They are all alfar!” Pala said. “How different can your Glory be from the rest if she will not have Semele in her house? She will have a giant and a… you… but she will not have one of her own?”

“Yeah, okay, that’s a really big point,” I said. Glory had left me in charge. “Let me talk to Glory to make sure that it’s alr… that she knows the score, before you talk to Semele… and actually, I really should talk to Semele. I’ll talk to Glory about inviting Semele in either way, but since I’m responsible for what happens while we’re away, I’ll need to make sure I can vouch for her for the housesitting thing.”

“That is fair,” Pala said, reaching her hand across the table that was wide enough for her to extend it comfortably to a point where I could comfortably reach across and grab it. “If Semele is welcome in her house… as part of your winter guard or otherwise… then I will pledge my spear to defend it.”

“You know, Pala, I feel like I’ve misjudged you,” I said, shaking her hand.

It was a strange gesture, one I’d occasionally done in greeting a new person in the kind of half-hearted modern way that people sometimes did, but doing it with Pala in this otherworldly place, it felt as official as a signature on a contract.

“I feel the same way about you,” she said, smiling broadly.

“Well, I guess we’ve both learned something about first impressions,” I said.

“Did we?” she said. “Oh, no. I meant I also felt that you’d misjudged me.”

“Oh… well, at least we can agree on that,” I said. “Thanks again for hearing me out… I should get back to campus, and let you get back to your drink.”

“Okie dokie,” Pala said. She hit her knee as she was getting out of the booth. “Oof! That’s the other one…”

“Careful, Tiny,” her friend Val called.

“I’m fine!” Pala said. “It’s just a knee, I have two of them… though they both hurt now.”

“Oh, hey, kid,” Val called again when I was almost to the curtained door. “Did you want to see my wolf?”

“Uh, maybe some other time?” I said. My impression of her as a relative badass would seem to be confirmed, though I wouldn’t have pegged her for a ranger.

As I passed through the curtain, I heard Pala say in a quiet… for her… voice, “That’s so strange, I thought for sure she would be excited.”

Pala might have been more incisive than I’d granted, but she still did get the weirdest ideas sometimes.

Tales of MU is now on Patreon! Help keep the story going!

Or if you particularly enjoyed this chapter, leave a tip!

Characters: , , ,

41 Responses to “Chapter 250: Guarded Conversation”

  1. zeel says:

    I love the Inn, I hope we get more of it in the future. It’s easily the coolest location in the story.

    Current score: 2
  2. D. D. Webb says:

    Now I’m wondering what the deal is with the wolf. Is that from another of AE’s stories? I’ve really only read this one…

    Current score: 1
    • Order of Chaos says:

      It’s a motorbike, Pala told Mack about it at the Halloween (Equivalent) party.

      Current score: 10
    • adsipowe says:

      pala told her about this friend at a halloween party over a year ago.
      Pala was talking to someone who would have looked like a kind of big hulking guy, if he’d been standing by anyone else. He was wearing what looked like motorcycle gear: leather for more flexible protection than metal armor gave, and a helmet adapted from the typical jousting helmet with a modern transparent visor.

      He didn’t look like he was doing a Mecknight, specifically. Their cycle suits had even more of an armor look. There was something odd about the proportions of it… then he turned and started walking and I realized it wasn’t the outfit but the body beneath it.

      “Is that Moeli?” I said.

      “Yes, baby,” Amaranth said. She sounded a little irritated and I wondered at what, but then she said, “I never thought about how being a nymph takes some of the fun out of a masquerade.”

      Then I realized he was in the same leather jacket I’d seen him with down at his post behind the desk. Without the headgear, I hadn’t been able to tell what he was going for.

      “Give me your coat and then let’s go say hi to them,” Amaranth said.

      “Why?” I asked, handing her my coat.

      “Because we’re at a party and we just spotted people we know,” she said, helping me get my cape on. “It’s a dance. Let’s be sociable. If we wanted to stand around talking to each other, we could have stayed in your room.”

      “I’d say ‘people we recognize’,” I said. “Do we really know Pala?”

      “She’s nice,” Amaranth said. “Ian, you know her, right?”

      “Um, kind of,” he said. “I mean, we use different locker rooms. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with her.”

      “Well, let’s go rectify that,” she said.

      Alone, I would have felt weird about walking up to two people who were already talking and jumping into their conversation. With Amaranth leading the way… I still felt weird.

      But I would obey.

      “Yeah, I’m actually building a motorcycle as an auto shop project,” Moeli was saying as we approached. “Well, a model of one. But it’s full-sized.”

      “My friend has a motorcycle,” Pala said. “She drinks at the inn I stay at.”

      “Not a real one, though,” I said, disbelief crushing my awkwardness aside.

      “No, it is very real,” Pala said. “Just not so easy to find. The Inn of the Black Doors. You have heard of it?”

      “I mean, it’s not a real motorcycle,” I said. “It can’t be.”

      “No, I suppose it’s really a wolf.”

      It made as much sense as anything else, so I let it go.

      “You know,” Moeli said, turning to me, “just because something’s not real doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with enjoying it. Some of us have a little thing called imagination.”

      “Hey, I like them, too!” I said quickly. “I just… I like to keep what’s possible separate from what’s not. What’s your automata teacher think about your choice of project?”

      “My friend has a motorcycle,” Pala said again.

      “What’s her name, honey?” Amaranth asked.

      “Oh, it is a he,” Pala said. “His name is Skald. She lets me pet him sometimes.”


      “My friend,” Pala said.

      “Skald… is… her motorcycle,” Ian said. “Who is really a wolf.”

      “Yes,” Pala said, nodding enthusiastically.

      “It’s an interesting world you live in, isn’t it?” Ian asked.

      “Oh, I don’t live there,” Pala said. “I board there. Not many connections remain between the world I live in and this one, but the inn has doors everywhere.”

      “Black doors,” Ian said.

      “Yes,” Pala said.

      Ian gave Amaranth and me a look that said, very eloquently, this is why I don’t have many conversations with her.

      “You should go say hello to Coach Callahan,” Pala said.

      “Wait, is she here?” I asked.

      “No, it is just Moeli and I,” she said, looking around in confusion. “Coach Callahan is over there.”

      Current score: 5
    • K-Li says:

      I suspect this is a translation error. The word you should read there is “hog”

      Current score: 2
  3. pedestrian says:

    Yep, you’re correct OoC. It is amusing that Mackenzie is so fixated on the all-encompassing ‘Reality of Magic” that she ignores the ‘unreal’ possibility of a science based machine.

    Current score: 1
    • Nocker says:

      She hasn’t really “taken in” the implications of the bar yet. Hart mentioned that atom based universes existed in theory(but they had no way of solidly checking), but Mackenzie obviously didn’t connect the dots as to why she couldn’t see the first time she walked in(it is a leap of logic though, so it’s forgivable). Despite knowing things work differently in other planes and that the tavern connects, she hasn’t exactly put much thought into it.

      Though she has no real interest in the inner workings of “science” anyway. When she saw a clock with gears and cogs, she didn’t go “Hey cool!”, she went “That’s dumb. Magic is cooler and would do it better”. She’s in it for the aesthetics and nothing else basically.

      Current score: 5
    • adsipowe says:

      to be fair Skald is really a wolf.

      Current score: 2
  4. Yumi says:

    Is anyone else just really excited about Semele?

    Current score: 5
    • Lunaroki says:

      I know I can hardly wait! 🙂

      Current score: 3
      • Order of Chaos says:

        I would have been very surprised if she hadn’t shown up in this arc. I was going to list her as a guess of who might show up but couldn’t remember her name (she is the autumn elf right?).

        Current score: 1
        • Nocker says:

          Copper elf.

          Surface elves seem to go by some kind of weird metal based system if I remember right(silver and gold, copper, and a few others, and most of the non silver/gold ones being genocided).

          Current score: 0
          • Q says:

            i think its more a “this sucks, nobody wants to sleep with me or let me play reindeer games…maybe death would be interesting” kind of deal than direct genocide.

            sounds like as part of their nature elves are attracted to as close as they can get to an exact copy of themselves just as intrinsically as their thing with the anus being the primary genitals(with their ability to find mates and eventually breed apparently stemming from being eased into it with crossdressing and the idea that “hey everybodys got an ass…fuck it” and elves being more androgynous than most(possibly as a result of natural selection as much as coloration is))

            there just seem to be more summer/winter elves, which natually over time just widens that gap as they mate among themselves and aggressively exclude the others.(so i’m getting the impression there were mostly 4 kinds there which is an obvious flaw in that naming convention..i can’t imagine drow being spring and we’ve got a good idea there were MANY elf types once upon a time. but the brown elf self identified as autumn because she felt copper was insulting) so while yellow and pale elves last centuries easy(also i think i remember those groups having merged to form the current/dominant pale skin blond hair thing) odd colored ones ended up getting the ennui faster. dieing much sooner and breeding out what with elves being exactly as fertile with a few thousand years under their belt as at 19 and eventually somebody’ll manage to stick it in the wrong(right) hole by mistake increase with larger amounts of time for that to happen in.

            but i can’t remember or point to where i got that impression of muverse elves.

            Current score: 0
            • Nocker says:

              The impression I get is more malicious honestly.

              Remember what Acantha said, the elven ideal of beauty is direct narcissism. Their standards of beauty allow no faults, hence why Steff took all the shit she did from elves growing up. It’s not a diversity friendly environment.

              A group of elves with clear and notable differences is a threat to their own ideals. You can’t proclaim yourself to be the best and most attractive group if there’s a rival that even a human can tell the differences of standing RIGHT THERE. That won’t stand.

              Current score: 1
            • Q says:

              how would systematically pushing an entire group to suicide by boring them to death not be considered malice? I just meant it didn’t seem elven to be quite so blunt as straight up genocide.
              its the darkelves who appear to be survivors of an attempt in that department, driven into the underdark or whatever its called here

              Current score: 0
            • Nocker says:

              We have no idea how blunt elves are or aren’t outside of Middlings, really, outside of one crazy woman and a legendary monstrous hybrid.

              Current score: 0
  5. Nocker says:

    As a broader question: I wonder who *else* might be hiding around in the numerically impossible number of dark corners the Black Door has? If there’s one thing the MUniverse never lacks, it’s people we either never see buried or operate out of somewhere we’ve never seen. It’s an awfully convenient place to tuck into if you’re avoiding any real inspection and want an exit nobody can follow. Or if you want to have a deal in secret and want a bit of privacy.

    Current score: 0
    • Daemion says:

      I’d love to see Perfect run into Mack one day. Can you imagine their conversation? ^^

      Current score: 3
  6. Zathras IX says:

    At the Black Door can be quite

    Current score: 4
  7. adsipowe says:

    so i gather this isn’t a particularly well known or easily accessed place…seems like the sort of thing you have to either be shown or told about to find maybe? otherwise the meccans and thaumaturges would have built entire areas of study on idle conversation with fellow patrons.

    Current score: 0
    • K-Li says:

      The Inn Between Worlds
      The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
      The Black Door

      All these are names for an archetype, the place where heroes go when they fade away instead of dying. Only a few authors ever try to get a grip on the grim fate of Cohen the Barbarian, and fewer should.

      Current score: 0
    • Nocker says:

      Dimensional travel and outside laws are KNOWN, since it’s come up academically as being theoretical and MU did host a big public event with people from alternate worlds. It’s just they have no real way of verifying it.

      The Black Door, like it’s equivalents in other stories(the Oblivion Bar coming to mind), seems to be common knowledge, but only in some circles. Most of the people who aren’t Callahan that don’t just wander in are immortal badasses who can at least try to claim godhood. Mechans don’t fit into that sphere of influence and probably won’t get an invite in the near future.

      It probably wouldn’t do them any good anyway. They’re wonderful with arbitrary numbers but absolute crap with anything applicable to real life. If they were capable of actually building something of value they’d probably get a whole lot more respect than they do, and all the extradimensional conversation in the world wouldn’t help there.

      Current score: 0
      • Glenn says:

        You could say AE showed us Chechov’s Multiuniverse in this story. Giving Mack access to an interdimensional gateway like the Black Door massively increases her potential as a character. And yet, given that Mack is still largely oblivious as to what the Black Door really represents, it could be months or years before the potential is fulfilled, especially if Mack somehow fails to tell Amaranth the significant details about the Black Door.

        Current score: 1
        • Nocker says:

          Well, that is Mackenzie for you.

          Hand her an ancient and powerful demon artifact weapon and she’ll use it for gym class without ever inspecting it or studying it, and once it’s gone she forgets about it.

          Hand her a creature that can walk across dreams without issue and read thoughts and she’ll fix one problem then forget about it.

          When finding out her body gives off an aura of crazy bullshit just like the stuff The Man stuck in the bathroom, she puts up the first stopgap she can find and then forgets about it.

          I think of her as being a kind of idiot savant. She’s total shit at any kind of problem solving that can’t be solved with a book, but damn if she isn’t a mighty fine enchanter.


          Current score: 1
          • Anvildude says:

            Don’t forget that she takes mundane, simple to solve problems and applies the most energy-intensive, complex solution she can manage.

            Need to figure out a way to get to class? Enlist your flesh golem big-sis to construct a custom-made Enchanting wand to read its aura. It’s cold outside? Layer your jacket in a combination of Fire and Air spells tied to each other and feeding off your own energy. Don’t like the fact that the school has segregated you? Lead a mass migration and huge protest movement that forcefully ejects the ‘monstrous’ students into the campus at large.

            Current score: 1
            • Nocker says:

              Heck, even her actual weapon is pretty much the most ridiculously round about way of getting the results she needs. In order to carry something around casually then extend it she has about a dozen spells on it plus enchanting it to actually increase force.

              I mean yeah, it’s working for her, but after a certain point I’m getting the feeling that different approaches would probably be a bit more elegant. Or that she should swap out the staff for a weapon that does what she wants better. She’s still using her “blank staff” that she got to try out new stuff on the fly and look wizardy, but she’s basically kept doing the same thing with it for months now, so it’s likely about time for her to trade up for a more specific model.

              Current score: 0
            • zeel says:

              A systematic rebuttal:

              Getting to class: Hey, she has to take a design class to graduate, and pretty much all of them are in that building. At some point she has to figure out how to deal with that building.

              Cold out: Wouldn’t you cast a spell to make you warmer if you had the ability? Especially if you had a racial weakness to cold?

              Segregation: She didn’t lead a mass migration/protest, a mass migration followed her of it’s own accord. She has pointed this out many times, she really had very little to do with it. This did not force anyone out of anywhere, Harlowe still exists as it always has.

              Current score: 1
            • Nocker says:

              I probably wouldn’t bother casting a spell. Mainly because I’m used to subzero temperatures half the year and know it’s a good idea to dress in layers and keep gloves handy. Since it also rains a ton, I’ve discovered the neat little invention we call the umbrella that’s cheap and compact enough to fit in with my books and supplies.

              Because something one learns pretty early on is that they have to prepare for likely circumstances. For obvious reasons Mackenzie didn’t really have to do that until MU and she basically just throws out magic as a stopgap for her own lack of foresight.

              Which is distinct from using magic to plan ahead, I have to add. She fought Nae a bunch of times but never really developed a decent spell for it, instead just reusing the ones she’d learned already to mediocre effect. Which is indicative of the larger trend. She kinda just sits there and floats along reacting, instead of acting first in any capacity. Hell even as an enchanter she’s never really done anything on her own will instead of scrambling to fix an immediate problem. She’s never say, modded her inaction figures, or fiddled around with an old mirror in her free time.

              Hell, look at her Staff and Belt. She bought them so she could toy around, found one thing that kinda worked, then forgot about the whole thing instead of trying anything else.

              Current score: 0
            • zeel says:

              I doubt she forgot about those things, they simply haven’t been a part of the story during the whole Acanth and Glory arcs. If it even jumps back I’m sure we will see a lot more from those things.

              Current score: 1
          • Order of Chaos says:

            Do we know if the Black Door would let her exit away from the door she came in by? Pala must be able to do that but if the drinks are locked to MU campus what stops someone going out and in to get around that?
            In other news Mackenzie knows where to find someone who has a way to break someone apart and puts them back together again (for transport) and who to see for plans for a Mock Box that works on humans. At worst Sara and Tara could be fixed by trial and error, at best it could be used to replace Infernal energy with a substitute (again trial and error) if you were unhappy as a half demon. I guess she can’t always come up with enchantment ideas when they would work.

            Current score: 0
            • Nocker says:

              I believe Sara and Tara stopped showing up and dropped out.

              It’d be nice to fix them, but they’ve proven time and again they’re essentially beyond help, since they won’t take any of the steps themselves.

              Current score: 1
            • zeel says:

              My guess is that yes the black door can open too any place it exists – but only if you already know that it’s there. Basically, either someone has to guide you or you need to already have been to the door from that side.

              The drinks they serve probably have to do more with perspective. Mackenzie initially sees it as a place located on campus, and if from her perspective the Inn is on campus it must not serve alcohol. If you enter with a different perspective, such as “The Inn is not on this world” or “The Inn is in another world” or even “Fuck what the campus says about being dry” you may find different options.

              Pala (and Callahan) don’t see it as being on campus, so it isn’t.

              Or not, I don’t have enough data to be conclusive – but I think it makes sense.

              Current score: 1
  8. Glenn says:

    It may be that the way AE has chosen to write this book is giving you an unfair view of Mack’s ability to keep track of multiple issues. The reason you think Mack has forgotten about her pitchfork or the Owl Turtle thing or the way half demons females are cursed to be attractive targets for predators is because those issues haven’t been mentioned recently. But we know that important and interesting things are happening to Mack this year that haven’t been mentioned yet. A couple of chapters ago, in 248, she mentioned in passing how she’d learned firsthand how quickly information could spread through the deep woods. We won’t find out what happened until we eventually get some chapters describing what’s been happening in Mack’s local hazards class. I doubt that she’s forgotten about the Owl Turtle thing, since she’s obligated to do some library research for it, involving, among other things, research into what her Father’s been doing in the area.

    Current score: 2
    • Nocker says:

      In recent chapters she’s covered a whole lot of ground but remember early on a dozen chapters wouldn’t even cover a full day. She did a bit of research on her own time early on, but that kinda fell to the wayside as things moved forward in the year.

      Though yeah, a whole bunch of stuff HAS presumably happened on the wayside that we never actually saw. Her screwing around in the woods with her friends got talked about a whole bunch and they did it, but we never saw it physically take place. The library research was agreed to, but we have no idea what she found or how useful the owl-turtle found it since it was simply never brought up.

      It’s possible it’d be redundant from what Sam’s crew learned way back when, or that nothing conclusive was turned up though, but we really can’t say as readers.

      Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      Exactly, she specifically mentions that the story is going to focus on one thing for a while, and that it might backtrack later. It remains to be seen, but I hope it’s going to jump back pretty soon.

      Current score: 1
  9. OhPun says:

    Oh! If Mackenzie leaves campus, that gives Daddy Demon a chance to visit her in person. Or at least skulk about in the near vicinity. Will he take a skyliner and risk being discovered in a confined space?

    I just imagine the glee that Glory’s court would feel with a legitimate chance to hunt someone (Daddy Demon). He seems like the cautious type. What is he willing to risk?

    Current score: 0
  10. scifi_chic says:

    “Passing as I close as I did to the administrative building gave me the willies” – passing as close?

    “Maybe the inn had just been a waystation between the giant realm that Pala as from and the world where she went to school, but even if it hadn’t, I could see why it would be appealing for someone who was too small or too big for both the worlds she knew.” – Pala was from … if it wasn’t?


    Hope we see more of the Black Door soon.

    Current score: 0
  11. Arancaytar says:

    “Nobody would take that bet,” she said. “They say it isn’t a gamble.”


    “Did we?” she said. “Oh, no. I meant I also felt that you’d misjudged me.”


    Current score: 1
  12. Arancaytar says:

    I’m kind of relieved that Pala is calling it a sure thing that the elves will try something. Because otherwise, if they go to all this trouble just to defend the place for a week without any incidents? Then this whole winter guard thing would just be the shaggiest dog story ever.

    Current score: 0
  13. Daez says:

    SEMELE!!!!!!! Ohhhhhhh yay, I’ve wanted to see Semele again for so long!!!

    Current score: 1