10 – 32

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“The point is this: I don’t believe we are under attack.”

Basra’s pronouncement had the desired effect; the undercurrent of murmuring in the office immediately ceased, and all those present fixed their eyes on her, most frowning. In many places such a statement might have brought on a rush of shouts and denials, but the individuals here were all of a more disciplined nature.

Governor Tamshinaar’s spacious office was very nearly cramped with the full complement of those assembled. Basra occupied the middle of the central floor, with the rest of her party—now including Mr. Hargrave—spread along the wall behind her. The Governor herself sat behind her desk, with her secretary Mr. Dhisrain standing discreetly against the wall behind. Assembled on the upper tier of the office around the desk, and spilling down the steps where space ran out, was nearly the entire upper leadership of Vrin Shai and Viridill itself. Generals Ralavideh and Vaumann, who commanded the Fourth and Second Silver Legions, respectively, stood together to the left of Tamshinaar’s desk, with Legate Raizheh Salindir, the ranking priestess of Avei in the Vrin Shai temple and the province itself. The city’s mayor, a stout and surprisingly young woman named Lorna Mellon, stood on the other side of the dais with Colonel Nintaumbi, who commanded the Imperial forces in Viridill. Nintaumbi was a broad-faced Westerner whose wide frame was all muscle and a testament that he didn’t take his rank as an excuse to sit behind a desk, and incidentally the only man on the dais aside from the Governor’s secretary.

“How would you describe these events, then, your Grace?” General Vaumann asked pointedly, arching a blonde eyebrow.

Basra partially turned to glance behind her. “I spent the early part of the morning with Mr. Hargrave, here, and several of his friends. For those of you who don’t know, Hargrave is a practicing witch and a respected figure in the local community of fae magic users; when I first set out from the Abbey to investigate the elemental incidents, he was the first person I visited, and has spent the last few days meeting up with his fellow witches from around the region. Mr. Hargrave, would you kindly summarize the situation for them as you did for me earlier?”

“Of course, your Grace,” he said politely, stepping forward and pausing to give a deep bow to the assembled dignitaries. “Ah, Ladies, officers…everyone. I’m sorry, I’m more accustomed to my little town…”

“Please don’t be self-conscious, Mr. Hargrave,” Lady Tamsin said with a kind smile. “I appreciate you putting forth so much effort on behalf of our province. Now, what can you tell us about this?”

“Yes, well,” Hargrave said more briskly, “as Bishop Syrinx said, I went to meet with some of my…well, I suppose ‘colleagues’ is a word, though the nature of our association…is immaterial, sorry.” He paused, grimacing, and tugged on his collar. “Most practitioners of the fae arts are rather solitary creatures, aside from being the least popular type of magician among humans. There are probably several hundred scattered throughout Viridill, but I’m personally acquainted with a few dozen, and it was them I sought out to consult about the elemental problem. And actually, I am back here so quickly because many had the same idea. I was spurred into action by Bishop Syrinx, but it seems many of my friends have been receiving…portents.”

“Can you be more specific about that?” General Ralavideh asked sharply.

“It’s…the answer to that question is generally going to be ‘no,’” Hargrave said hesitantly. “I presume you are familiar with the basics, but the main difference between arcane scrying and fae divination is the tradeoff between specificity and…you might call it penetration power. Scrying gives you very precise information, almost perfect pictures if you do it just right, but scrying is quite easy to block or deflect with counterspells. A mage of sufficient skill can even intercept scrying spells and feed them false information, so I’m told, though it’s not really my field…”

“Mr. Hargrave,” Colonel Nintaumbi interrupted, “everyone here is either a military professional or works with them closely. We know the nature and limits of tactical scrying.”

“Ah, yes, I’m sorry.” Hargrave was clearly badly out of his element; the normally self-confident man hunched his shoulders slightly under the rebuke.

“Kindly refrain from badgering the specialist I’ve brought in to help, Colonel,” Basra said coldly.

“Yes, let us keep the side commentary to a minimum until we’ve heard everything, shall we?” the Governor suggested. “Please continue, Mr. Hargrave.”

“Yes, of course,” Hargrave said quickly. “Well, oracular divination is the opposite: nearly impossible to interfere with, but far more…vague. The information one gets that way tends to be rather symbolic. Any serious witch performs divinations at various times for specific reasons, but we also make ourselves receptive to them; the spirits and beings with which we have congress often communicate most readily in that manner. And that is why many of my fellow practitioners were urged into action at the same time I was, despite having different kinds of urgings. We met near the center of the province, not far from here, and compared notes. It seems many of Viridill’s witches have been contacted quite deliberately. It is, as I said, vague, but we believe these visions to have been sent by the being responsible for the elemental attacks.”

“Indeed,” Lady Tamsin replied, leaning forward and frowning intently. “And what does this person have to say?”

“Filtered through the perceptions of a dozen different practitioners,” said Hargrave, “and after comparing notes amongst ourselves, we feel the visitor is trying to court us. Well, them. I was not approached.”

“Court,” General Vaumann said sharply, “as in recruit?”

Hargrave nodded. “The overtures varied somewhat by individual, but the common theme among all was a sense of friendship.”

“You mentioned, Mr. Hargrave, that you were prompted into action by Bishop Syrinx,” said Mayor Mellon. “Does that mean you did not receive such an invitation?”

“Indeed not, your…ah, ma’am,” he said. “For a fairy practitioner of sufficient skill and power—which this person surely is—it’s possible to send out a message tailored to a certain range of emotional perceptions. Fae magic is very good with emotional states. Any time you hear of some ‘chosen one’ being designated without a god doing it specifically, you can bet you’re dealing with fairy magic. We think this mysterious summoner was sending out his message to target those most easily agitated against the establishment here in Viridill.”

“I see,” the Governor mused. “And yet, many of these who got this message came to discuss it with you.”

“Well, m’lady, we’re all creatures of emotion,” he replied. “But we are not ruled by our feelings. That’s just…being an adult. Due to a certain dark chapter in Imperial history which I’m sure you all know, witches in particular tend to be rather standoffish toward the rest of society; it’s a state of mind which could attract such a questing spell. But we all know which side our bread is buttered on, so to speak. Especially those of us here in Viridill; the witches of this land may be reclusive, but we greatly appreciate the shelter offered by the Sisterhood of Avei, and certainly have no wish to see our neighbors harmed. Presented with the likelihood that someone was trying to undermine Viridill itself, most of my friends were moved to meet and compare notes, see what we can do about this. Not being a receiver of the message myself, I wasn’t included in the dream summons they sent out until I was already on the way to investigate, and then it naturally picked me up. But since Bishop Syrinx spoke to me, I was able to direct everyone back to Vrin Shai. Well, first to the Abbey, but she was already gone from there so we thought…”

“This ‘everyone’ you speak of,” Legate Salindir said quietly. “I know you and your witches were instrumental in pacifying the water elementals last night, for which you have our appreciation. I was told there were fourteen of you present?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, nodding. “And more who didn’t come here. Once we brought each other up to speed, helping the capital was one concern; the others have scattered through the province to gather up more support and direct it wherever more elementals may pop up.”

“How many?”

“Seventeen others when we left them, your, uh…ma’am. There will be more by now, I’m sure.”

“And,” the Legate continued, staring piercingly down at him, “how many practitioners do you think will respond favorably to the aggressor’s overtures?”

Hargrave tightened his mouth unhappily. “There…are always a few, aren’t there? Much as I’d like to think my folk have better sense and better morals, there just aren’t any barrels without a bad apple or two. I shouldn’t think more than a handful, if that. Honestly I don’t know of anyone I’d consider likely to turn against the Sisterhood or Viridill that way, but I hardly know every witch in the province.”

“Nonetheless, your insights are extremely helpful, Mr. Hargrave,” said the Governor.

He grinned, bobbing his head. “Well, ah, thank you, m’lady. I try to be useful.”

“It was the other thing you told me that I thought everyone most urgently needs to hear,” Basra said pointedly.

“Oh! Yes, right, I’m sorry.” Hargrave turned to nod to her, then faced the dais again, his expression growing dour. “A constant in everyone’s visions and dreams has been… Athan’Khar. After talking it over, we’re reasonably sure the messages are coming from there. That’s probably where the summoner is hiding.”

“When I spoke with the elves in the Green Belt,” Basra added, stepping forward again and raising her voice over the murmurs that sprang up, “they hinted at the same. All current evidence is circumstantial, but I consider it a solid working theory at this point that our enemy is hiding in Athan’Khar.”

“That casts another color on this entirely,” General Ralavideh said sharply. “We all know there’s only one kind of powerful spellcaster native to there…”

“In point of fact,” said Basra, “I consulted with Colonel Nintaumbi just before this meeting on that very thing. Colonel, if you would kindly share with us what you told me?”

“Certainly,” he said, nodding and turning to face the others on the dais. “I know what you’re all thinking, but it needn’t necessarily be a headhunter, and in fact I think the circumstances counter-indicate that, even if we accept the hypothesis that our enemy is hiding there. Everything we know of this summoner suggests a fae magic user of immense skill and power, correct? Headhunters, by contrast, are not notably skilled or strong in any one school of magic. In terms of straightforward destructive ability, they aren’t really comparable to an archmage, paladin or sufficiently talented warlock. What makes them dangerous is their ability to counter any kind of magic used against them, and the fact that their magic is not wielded consciously, but by the spirits within them. They have faster reaction times than even an elf, and an arsenal of spells that enables them to mitigate any attack, even one far stronger than their own.”

“That,” said General Vaumann dryly, “and they are homicidally insane.”

“Indeed,” the Colonel agreed, nodding to her. “And that’s another point. All this indicates planning. Headhunters simply don’t do that, at least not in the long term. Whatever the personality traits of the elf who makes the journey to Athan’Khar, when dealing with a headhunter our business is with the spirits within, and those are wildly aggressive. There has never, ever been a case of a headhunter doing something so well-planned and subtle. To the extent that when they do exhibit such controlled behavior, it’s usually the elf’s personality breaking through and attempting to subdue the voices of the spirits, which some have been able to do for fairly long periods at a time.”

“What’s to stop a headhunter from being in total agreement with those spirits about needing to destroy humanity and the Empire?” General Ralavideh asked pointedly. “I assume no elf makes that pilgrimage without knowing what to expect.”

“Not impossible,” Nintaumbi conceded. “Interviews with headhunters have been necessarily brief. It would be without precedent, though. I cannot imagine having a brain full of screaming maniacs is good for anyone’s mental stability.”

“Surely nothing but a headhunter could live in Athan’Khar,” the Mayor protested.

“Actually, that’s not necessarily true, ma’am,” Schwartz piped up, seemingly not noticing the quelling look Basra directed at him. “Anyone powerful enough to do what we’ve seen them do could contend with the forces in there. Especially if they’re not human; the spirits of Athan’Khar are dangerous for anybody, but it’s only humans they always go out of their way to attack.”

“Bear in mind that anything we conclude at this point is speculation,” said Basra. “We are just barely beyond the realm of guesswork; there’s scarcely enough information to begin forming theories. But we have been dealing with this individual long enough for certain patterns to emerge, and from those we can draw some preliminary conclusions.”

“And just what have you concluded, your Grace?” the Governor asked.

“Elder Linsheh made the point that for a witch or shaman to accumulate this much power they would have to be quite old,” said Basra, beginning to pace slowly up and down the floor. “Humans possibly can live that long, especially lifelong practitioners of fae crafts, but as Schwartz points out a human inside Athan’Khar would be too constantly on the defensive from the inhabitants to arrange anything like this. We are, therefore, likely dealing with an elf or a green dragon, if not some kind of miscellaneous fairy. Naiya’s get are not well-categorized.”

“The Conclave of the Winds insist they represent every living dragon on the continent,” Colonel Nintaumbi mused. “There are several names of dragons the Empire presumed active missing from their roster, which we had taken to mean those dragons were dead. A few of them were greens. Then again, there’s no reason the Conclave would be entirely honest with us. Dragons are always cagey about their business.”

“And,” Basra added, “Mary the Crow is active. I myself met her in Tiraas last year.”

“I’m surprised you survived that,” the Governor said over the mild stir caused by this.

“Don’t be,” Basra said with a shrug. “She’s a crafty old bird, more prone to making long plans than violent outbursts, which is why I mention her in this context. It’s somewhat off-track,though. What’s significant right now is my original statement: looking at this pattern of events, I do not believe our antagonist is actually trying to assault us.

“Consider the elemental incidents which have occurred. The early ones disrupted travel and trade, then came a more ominous attack indicating planning ability—misdirecting Silver Legionnaires away from one of their bases in order to attack their stored supplies. In all of these, direct harm to individuals seems to have been avoided; there were some minor burns and bumps, but based on the records I’ve seen, all such could be ascribed to the chaos of the elementals’ presence. Then there were two elemental attacks directed at my party specifically; a shadow elemental which posed very little physical threat, and a large rock elemental which certainly could have but never actually harmed us. My bard responded quickly to distract it,” she added, nodding back at Ami, “but it’s possibly it wouldn’t have done so. Then, last night, the water elementals here in Vrin Shai, which were clearly not dangerous.”

“What are you getting at?” General Ralavideh demanded.

“These were not attacks,” said Basra, “they were messages. This summoner is communicating quite clearly with us. The first events show they understand trade routes and the importance thereof, and that they are capable of executing military tactics. The shadow elemental showed that they can afford to waste valuable agents, so secure are they in their power and resources. Mr. Schwartz commented on the difficulty of diffusing a rock elemental into sand to sneak it into our courtyard, a clear message that they can plant a highly dangerous foe behind our defenses. Plus, by repeatedly dropping elementals on me, specifically, they show they are aware exactly who is on the hunt for them. And as for the water elementals… That demonstrated that the vaunted defenses of Vrin Shai are nothing to them. They can hit us anywhere, and in almost any way. The overall point of all this has been to show that they do not specifically wish to harm Viridill, but they very much can.”

There were no mutters this time, but the various dignitaries assembled on the dais looked around at each other, frowning in thought.

“An interesting theory,” said Mayor Mellon after a moment.

“It does hang together,” General Vaumann acknowledged. “But such a message is, in and of itself, a threat. It’s also missing a vital component: why tell us this?”

“I suspect that’s coming very soon,” said Basra, folding her hands behind her back. “The question has been going around my head ever since this began: who would have such an argument with the Sisters of Avei, and why? The Black Wreath doesn’t and can’t use fairy magic, and the Huntsmen of Shaath lack the manpower, the magical power, and frankly the imagination to do something like this. I realize, now, that I was missing the point. The summoner specifically doesn’t want to attack the Sisterhood, or Viridill. They want to go through Viridill. This is aimed at the Empire, or will be; right now, we are being warned to stay out of it.”

“Doesn’t make sense,” Nintaumbi said sharply. “If someone wanted a clear line of attack at the Empire, why go through Viridill at all? They could avoid the Sisterhood’s defenses entirely by striking to the west into N’Jendo.”

“And that is what a headhunter would do,” Basra agreed, nodding at him. “But if we presume our foe is not insane or obsessed with all humanity, that clarifies their purpose even further. The civilizations of the West are fairly recent additions to the Empire; only Onkawa actually wanted to be part of it, and stayed loyal even through the Enchanter Wars. And that is all the way up on the northern edge of the continent. But if someone had a grudge with the Tiraan specifically, as a society, they would look east. Just beyond Viridill is the Tira Valley and Calderaas, the cradle of Tiraan civilization. To reach that, you have to go through Viridill.

“The fact that they have not defaulted to all-out war as a first measure strengthens the theory,” she continued, starting to pace again. “Even when Athan’Khar was a living country, and the Sisterhood and the orcs skirmished across the border all the time, there was respect there, and a lack of real animosity. Both possessed codes of honor governing battle that enabled them to relate to one another in a way that no one else ever really tried to do with the orcs. Even the Jendi simply regarded them as monsters—but they, at their worst, just tried to fortify their border to keep orcish raiders out. It was Tiraas that razed Kharsor and the entire country, and left it as it is now. Whoever’s in there has a sense of history.”

“If what you’re suggesting is correct,” Governor Tamshinaar said slowly, “soon we can expect a more direct approach from this summoner. Specifically, to propose that Viridill and the Sisterhood stand down while they pass over our lands to attack the Imperial heartland.”

“That is my theory, Lady Tamsin,” Basra agreed, nodding.

“It should go without saying,” the Governor said coolly, “that such a proposal will not even be considered.”

“Absolutely,” the Legate said firmly. “Even without getting High Commander Rouvad’s personal endorsement, I can guarantee that. The Sisters of Avei do not stand by while innocents are attacked over ancient grudges.”

“And,” said Basra, “as soon as that is made clear, we become targets. At that time, we will see the full power of this enemy, which so far they have demonstrated only in a rather…playful manner.”

A chilly silence fell, in which the expressions of those around the Governor’s desk grew even darker.

“How can we defend against something like that?” Lady Tamsin asked, turning to Colonel Nintaumbi.

“My people are already fanning out through the country, m’lady,” Hargrave chimed in. “They’re not military, but they will be in position to respond to any elemental incident, and on the alert to do so.”

“I also suggest involving the Salyrites,” Branwen added, smiling briefly at Schwartz. “They have already expressed a willingness to help, and this threat is clearly relevant to their expertise.”

“Ah, if I may?” Schwartz said rather diffidently, stroking Meesie, who was perched in his other hand. “Getting elementals summoned long-distance is…hard. It’s plenty impressive that this character can do it, but nobody can keep it up indefinitely. If it comes to all-out war, there’ll definitely be more incidents like that, but if they plan to move a large force of elementals, they’ll have to actually, y’know…move it.”

“Which is the entire point of this,” Basra said, nodding. “If they could just materialize an army in the Tira Valley, they would do it. They want to be able to cross over Viridill, which means their way can be impeded. Specifically, by Silver Legions backed by priestesses, the best possible counter to elementals.”

“I’ll move the Second Legion to the border,” said General Vaumann.

“And I,” added Colonel Nintaumbi, “will be sending to Tiraas for reinforcements, and specifically strike teams. Those will be absolutely essential if this comes down to responding quickly to magical threats cropping up all over.”

“The central problem we face,” said Basra, “is that we are stuck on the defensive. Invading Athan’Khar is totally impossible; what’s in there would chew up an army in hours.”

“Do you have any suggestions, Bishop Syrinx?” asked the Governor.

“Yes,” said Basra. “I would like permission to move my team into Varansis.”

At that, the outcry of protests from the dais took the Governor a few moments to calm.

“Excuse me?” Ami asked pointedly. “But what is this Varansis and why are we just now hearing about it?”

“Fort Varansis,” said General Ralavideh with a scowl, “is a fortress positioned at the mouth of the River Asraneh, marking the ancient border between Viridill and Athan’Khar. It is, obviously, abandoned.”

“What?” Ildrin practically shrieked. “That is in the corrupted zone!”

“Actually, it’s not,” said Schwartz. “The corruption of Athan’Khar has been steadily receding ever since the Enchanter Wars. It’s about a half-mile south of the river, these days.”

“However,” Colonel Nintaumbi snapped, “the Imperial and Avenist defenses are set up well on this side of the Asraneh. You are talking about moving into a crumbling ruin that’s been home to nothing in the last hundred years but monsters, ghosts, and more recently wild animals, well beyond the range of anyone’s ability to help or protect you. This is madness, Bishop Syrinx!”

“No, Colonel,” Basra said evenly, “this is a calculated risk. I am as familiar with the scouting reports as you; spirit incursions as far northwest as the river are rare these days, and in any case, my team represents a range of skills that can fend off most attackers. We will not be going into Athan’Khar proper, and thus should not run afoul of its inhabitants. The point is that placing ourselves that close to the enemy’s base of operations is an aggressive move, which, since we know they are watching my group specifically, will get their attention. The summoner likes to make blustery moves to send messages; well, two can play that game.”

“And what precisely do you intend to do once you have this summoner’s attention?” the Governor demanded.

“Whatever seems necessary,” Basra said calmly. “With us, as the Colonel points out, isolated and beyond help, it’s my hope that this person will finally reveal themselves, or at least communicate more directly. How we proceed from there will depend upon what is revealed at that time. Ideally we can exercise diplomacy, or subterfuge, to prevent all this from coming to a head. First Doctrine of War: war is to be avoided if at all possible. Failing that…” She shrugged. “If they show themselves, that can present an opportunity for more direct action, if such is appropriate and possible.”

“You just will not be happy until you get us all killed,” Ami breathed.

Basra half-turned to give her a chilly smile. “It’s not us I intend to get killed. For the record, none of you have to come.”

Jenell, who had been silent throughout the meeting, subtly moved her hand to her belt, where she touched not her sword, but a book-shaped bulge in one pocket.

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45 thoughts on “10 – 32

  1. Midway through my course of antibiotics, the tooth is doing better…mostly. For hours at a time,it doesn’t hurt at all, but when it does… I was awakened at four AM today by pain on a scale that had me literally (but briefly) screaming. Fortunately I live out in the country; no cops were called.

    So, I’ve been following links in my stats thread to see what people are saying about TGAB in other places where it’s being discussed, and ran across a conversation I want to bring up here.

    The folks over at spacebattles.com, some of them anyway, seem to think this story is too political. Now, some liked it, some disagreed, and some thought it was good enough to read despite that. I don’t have an account over there and at Wildbow’s recommendation I don’t plan to go out of my way to engage with them, but I still read their comments now and again and I take such things seriously.

    I’ve written before in the comments about my philosophy of writing: I think a story is much stronger for having a message, but the message must always be in service to the story, not vice versa. I also think that discussions are far more interesting than sermons, which is why I try to include ambiguity and multiple perspectives wherever possible. No one in the Bastardverse has a monopoly on either good or evil, and indeed, I’m not sure I believe that such extremes really exist. Apart from possibly Joe and possibly Thumper, I don’t think there are any purely good or purely evil characters in this story.

    Obviously, the key word here is “try,” as in I try to write this way; you really can’t have such discussions without your own viewpoint filtering through.

    Do you guys think the politics (or ethics, as I prefer to think of them) are too overt in the writing? I realize this is a more sympathetic audience than on SB, but I can also count on a lot of you to let me have it when you perceive a problem. Something like this affects the quality of my writing directly, so please be honest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In short: no.

      In longer, and of course, IMO:

      The politics of your world are essential to the plot and story.

      The politics of your world interact with each other in believable ways.

      Your various groups have no obvious relationship to real world political parties.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. No, there’s nothing too overt in your writing.

      If one wants to find something they find disagreeable, they can probably find text passages that could be labeled liberal or conservative in every story. People need to stop being so sensitive about politics, not every issue has to be framed in that context.

      There are certain topics like feminism and discrimination (among many others) that are being dealt with in the story and while your personal stance is noticeable often, I think you’re handling them perfectly. This isn’t politics though. As you said, ethics would be a better description. (Or common sense.)

      You are definitely -not- using the story as your soap-box, you don’t force the issues into every chapter and your characters don’t all have the same opinion about it. Those would be bad writing that needs to be fixed. You’re fine though.

      Speaking of good and evil and ethics… Joe is an anti-authorian gambler, mercenary and vigilante. Some people might argue that by breaking the law as he does he is not such a good person after all. 😉


    3. The politics in the writing is overt, but I don’t feel this is really a problem as the amount of real ‘bad’ guys is basically zero, everyone obviously think they are doing the right thing (With exception of the players doing it for shit and giggles).

      In general the writing would be a problem if not it was as nuanced as it is.


      1. I’m honestly curious about this now. Could you give an example for (overt) politics in the writing please?


      2. @Daemion
        To people who oppose liberal-progressive values there are things in the worldbuilding that could be regarded as promoting those values. For instance, the Shaathist machismo is plausibly interpreted as a strawman for discrediting patriarchy. The war god is a goddess, who inspires armies of homosexuality accepting women, and this is normal in the world.

        When trying to interpret criticism about political values in writing, it matters a great deal who/where that criticism is coming from. Particular complaints made by certain people would be interpreted as a badge of honour by others. In the end, Sturgeon’s Law also applies to criticism.


      3. @Daemon Basically what @anonymous coward said, everything is largely weighted out by the fact that there is no place where people are really completely “wrong” or “right”, mutiple cabins obviously are rather accepting of transgenders (while others are not but I will bet you that they have other sides to them too), we are shown that having a ‘one gender dominates the other’ relationship is not necessarily wrong as long as the love is mutual.

        The good have ugly sides to them and the ‘evil’ guys aren’t really that.

        But really sometimes the authors own feelings shines through and that is not a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t overtake so much that the other sides are pictured in a too biased light.


    4. In a word: Yes.

      In more words: One man’s politics is another man’s common sense is another man’s basic ethics. While nothing in TGAB is an obvious analog for anything in real-world politics in the sense of elected political parties, there are other kinds of politics.

      On the Internet, for example, the term “gender politics” is broadly used to mean “the discussion around feminism and gender imbalance”, and your story definitely has a stance on that issue. If nothing else, it’s pretty obvious that the reader of the story is supposed to agree that women should not be forced to be subservient to their husbands and spend their time at home raising children.

      Now, this is common sense to you and probably the vast majority of the readership here, but to someone from Saudi Arabia or some parts of the Internet it would probably qualify as a political stance.

      But please note that under that definition of “politics” (and I can’t be sure that’s what the people on SB were talking about), writing an apolitical story – or even a politics-neutral story – is basically impossible, so I wouldn’t sweat it.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. you’re telling a story about the large-scale and small-scale movements within a civilization as it goes through a great deal of social upheaval, with a willingness to show as many of its affected parties as possible. there’s just no way that isn’t “political”. but even so, you deal fairly and you deal honestly and you’re willing to examine the ramifications of people’s opinions and actions and what puts them in the mind to doing it, even in a setting that is chock full of dragons and elves and all manner of other magical whatsit, which seems to be a problem for some people but i appreciate as a matter of finding it more entertaining when i’m reading something by a body what takes the conceits of their story and its format seriously. i’m undoubtedly biased, but i can still recognize strawmen deployed in the name of supporting me and i can still not be thrilled by how useless such a gesture is in doing anything meaningful or, more importantly to the question at hand, narratively satisfying with its position.

      personally i would consider being called “too political” by the spacebattles forum a badge of honor, but you’re no more political than, say, terry pratchett (who i know you’ve not really read much of) or david eddings (who i know you have). as long as you’re still you – meaning considered and careful – i think you’re doing fine.

      like i’ve said before, it’s not every story i read where i take the time out of my day for to actually explain myself when it does things i maybe don’t agree with, instead of shrugging and moving on. if that’s “too political” for some people, it’s hard for me not to take that as a statement that they don’t think these kinds of stories should be for an audience like me.

      Liked by 1 person

    6. I like how you’ve included politics/ethics in TGaB. I’m not going to into any further detail, everyone else has covered it, and I’d just be spending a couple hundred words repeating the same message the Nth time.


    7. If the story is about the swords and sorcery then it’s too overt. I believe it’s about the politics (of the Bastardverse, that is) so it’s fine. It’s an essential element which you’re forced to overtly describe.
      Yes, this reduces the accessibility of your story, but this is the story you’re telling so that’s just a price you have to accept. I would be a little careful not to go further than the story really calls for, though.

      Just to be clear, however, I personally agree with the politics displayed so I’m not one of the people you’re potentially chasing away.


    8. I’m going to make a fairly lenghty response to this that I’ll probably post as you post the next chapter.

      The short answer is that the more the story goes on, and the more it feels to me like the handling of the political aspects are getting worse. At first I felt that everyone had a voice and you tried to represent a lot of sides, but lately (the last 4 or so books?) it really feels that we are always getting one-sided trash talk, there hasn’t actually been a real dialog in multiple books, and that we actually have never ever seen any political opinions that weren’t anarchic.

      Like, this is bizarre, given that anarchy is like 0.1% of the population, but every single character in the Tiriian Empire are anarchic. Including nobles/royals/etc.

      As said, expect a very long answer on this when you post the next chapter. Hopefully, if I don’t get lazy.


    9. Your story is awesome, and the rich, complicated world is a big part of what makes it so – the politics / ethics of the characters and story themes elevate this well above the usual fiction (web or otherwise).


    10. Recent binge reader here; loving the story as I’ve blazed through the archives during the past week. I don’t know what the line is for “too overt”, but the politics/ethics/whatever are definitely more overt than I would like, and they keep recurring to the point where I think your “high fantasy western” — which as you mentioned previously is also crossed with Hammer horror and gaslamp — comes close to getting “political pamphlet” appended as an additional genre tag in my head. It’s no tract or screed, and I like your writing enough that I’ll certainly keep reading, but I am irked.

      Another facet of the issue is that several of the irksome issues are strangely contemporary in many ways, which is perhaps what jars me more than their overtness (or contributes to their overtness) in the context of this story. As a specific example, the term “gendered slur” is a recent construct dating to approximately 1980 in our history.
      If it were appearing along with other bizarre imports in an anachronism-happy “western”, I probably wouldn’t notice.
      If it were a throwaway element in a setting that was more about the action (including arguments) and less about the worldbuilding, I probably wouldn’t care.
      When your high fantasy western is so detailed about the careful worldbuilding and setting and so on, that’s when characters objecting to gendered slurs start to stick out like sore thumbs — they’re modern imports, who look as out of place as a cellphone in the era of the railroad and the cowboy.


  2. Hey, Arillius here. You might not have always liked what I had to say but I do sincerely mean nothing but to help. The reason why is I love your story. I love it so much that I’ve taken elements of it for a D&D game I’m writing (and my players ended up loving it too). I read every chapter and I plan on reading every chapter again… and probably a third time.

    More specifically, I do love that very few characters are entirely bad. I think the wreath is infinitely more complex for their ideals, the protagonists infinitely better served for their flaws and even the gods themselves infinitely more complex for their, well, complexity.

    I would argue that there are a few more purely good and evil characters then you intended (despite their flaws, the first bunch we were introduced to is always trying to help people. I give them a lot of credit for effort. And you remember my feelings on the sociopath). But it could be argued as well that the former have made royal messes now and again and the latter has probably saved lives to get to where she is.

    This world you built isn’t just living and breathing. It’s thinking. So many strings to follow, so many thoughts to have, with few true villains standing out amongst a world of danger and chaos one must learn how to face or die trying.

    For that, for the true and intelligent thought put into every choice, for the clear tendency for characters to learn from their mistakes and develop, for turning some of the characters I disliked the most into some I like the most (Triss is one of my favorites. Gabriels right there with her) and doing so without really messing with who they are as people, I do love your story, and hope to continue to enjoy it for years to come.


  3. I think over the course of the story, you have begun interweaving message with plot. As a result, the overt messages that were a bit jarring in earlier chapters are now more supportive of the overall story.

    I also want to say, I like how, for all her faults and immoralities, Basra isn’t treated as a moustache twirling villain, but exhibits some strength of purpose and dedication to her chosen cause. It’s nice to see character flaws treated as flaws instead of defining characteristics of the person. I was going to mention it anyway, but it certainly fits with what you are saying about good and evil in your story.

    Oh and you mention Thumper as a true evil. Interesting, because his actions seem to derive from a flaw in his character where he is unable or unwilling to recognise women as people. Meanwhile, the Children of Vanislaad are constantly described by characters (mostly Triss) as the most evil of the evil (dedicated to evil enough for their souls to come back, fight their way to the position through cruelty, etc) and yet their actions so far in the story have been far less evil than some of the human characters’. I’m wondering, is it a case of show being more powerful than tell, or is there another lie being told by the universal church about just how evil they may be?


    1. “Meanwhile, the Children of Vanislaad are constantly described by characters (mostly Triss) as the most evil of the evil (dedicated to evil enough for their souls to come back, fight their way to the position through cruelty, etc) and yet their actions so far in the story have been far less evil than some of the human characters”

      We can’t really know what they would do if left to their own device, when we saw them they always were magically controlled or under the watch of someone powerfull. The chapters that showed us Keshiri perspective showed us that she really wasn’t nice though.

      On the politic, it’s probably what makes TGAB different (and more interesting in my opinion) from a generic fantasy universe.


  4. Politics is a major part of your story, so much that I’d say it’s what’s tying the different viewpoints together. I’m basically waiting to see what the picture is when all the characters/parts of the politicking puzzle/game fall together.Politics is also what happens when you get multiple people in high positions of power interacting. Your story is not about the little people of your world. It’s about dragons, headhunters, the Sarasio Kid, Tellwyrn, paladins, gods. So it’s sort of inevitable.Consumed all at once in a binge read, it might be ‘too political’. There’s a lot of characters/plotlines/places to keep track of, and sometimes that’s a little overwhelming.In case you’re actually referring to ‘too political’ to mean ‘too like real world issues presented by politicians’ – maybe that’s a good thing. There’s probably more viewpoints to some of those things presented in your story than are being discussed by said politicians. I’ve certainly encountered ways of thinking by your characters that I’d not ever considered before.


    1. The “story is not about the little people of your world.”

      This is a recent development I think. Go back and re-read from the beginning, I was surprised at all the things I had forgotten, as I’d bet most readers would be. (I suspect even the author himself has forgotten a little.) For example, you probably don’t remember the chapter section early on from the viewpoint of an unnamed Lizardfolk shaman on his vision quest, looking out for his small, humble village.

      In the beginning, Gabe was a little person too, his sole claim to “fame” (or importance, or even relevance) being his friendship with Toby. I think his development is a microcosm of the story’s development. As he’s grown in power and stature, so has the story. This is unavoidable, of course, and I don’t even think it could be called undesirable. Stories grow, stakes are raised. Part of me wishes we could have seen even more of the diversity in the world, but I don’t see how a renewed focus on, say, Lizardfolk could serve the story anymore considering its chosen direction.


  5. I think self-censoring to please those people at SB would be a mistake on every level. It would make the story less relevant to us reading it, you’d have to drop a number of good characters and storylines, I suspect writing the story would be less satisfying to you, and with hundreds of thousands of words already written no one who’s avoided it due to the implicit message(s) would change their minds if those messages changed now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. New reader here, never commented before.

    I enjoy the “messages” you’re putting in your story. They align with my interests. So, full disclosure there. Also, everything I’m commenting on is obviously my interpretation of what’s going on, etc.

    I very much enjoy the way that in the Shaathist story threads you’re undercutting the initial strawman you crafted of a controlling, patriarchal society, and in showing the nuances thereof you’re making it clear that it has good and bad just like everywhere else. Ingvar and Andros are quickly becoming two of my favorite characters.

    I’m interested to see where the Syrinx threads go; you could have ended those threads pretty easily in a number of ways, but just the fact that you haven’t done so should be a sufficient clue to detractors that that’s going to be a story, not just a trivial vehicle for a moral message.

    Thumper’s pretty clearly a Bad Guy on a number of levels, but given the way you’re handling Shaathism and Basra, I figure the way that resolves isn’t going to be a garden-variety Aesop. So I am also looking forward to that.

    You’re putting a lot of work into making the parts of your story that carry a ‘message’ very intricate and nuanced. I would really like to see how those continue, and I don’t think any messages contained in those threads detract from the story at all.


  7. Ugh, americans. 😉

    I’ve read all the comments above and I have to say: Dealing with issues like homosexuality, patriarchy, feminism, individuality vs. conformism, LGBT etc… isn’t politics.

    Politics is essentially a process of decision making within a group or, if you really want to stretch the definition, using power to influence people. Nothing and nobody here does that. Webb isn’t in a position of power unless you want to think of him holding his story and your enjoyment of it hostage in exchange of making you read his political messages. (That’s not what’s happening.)

    Having an agenda doesn’t make you a politician and in this case the issues are usually presented from multiple points of view, so you can’t accuse the author of being biased.

    Most importantly though, this is a fantasy world. Yes, there are definite parallels to our world because otherwise it wouldn’t be very accessible but you can’t take everything literal. Humans being the only race defining heterosexual relationships as normal and having hangups with homosexuality has been brought up several times… by elves. How does that correspond to our world? We only have humans here, so our definitions of normal are bound to be different anyway.
    We also don’t have an all female army/militant organization, so how the Sisters of Avei deal with transgendered people and feminism doesn’t matter outside the story since they don’t have an equivalent in our world.

    So really, please let it go. You’re ruining this story for yourself if you go through it looking for liberal/conservative talking points. Homosexuality is not a political stance and neither is feminism. We don’t vote on our sexuality. 😛

    These issues are more… ethics, philosophy, culture, common sense and so on… but certaintly not politics. It is entirely possible to talk about these issues without putting them into a liberal/conservative context and in my opinion dragging politics into the discussion is only going to make it more complicated.

    Last but not least… Tiraas isn’t the USA and not every reader comes from the same background or country. I’ve noticed for quite some time that people react sharply to some story elements I simply accept as part of the worldbuilding or interpret them very differently from me. I’m not saying I’m right and they are wrong, Webb had to correct me too often for that illusion to remain unshattered but I’m usually coming from a different angle. Which is one reason why I prefer to comment on other comments (Hi, Unmaker!) instead of writing my own.

    Honestly, I find the notion that addressing social changes in a fantasy world is politics both hilarious and frustrating.

    Wikipedia: Politics (from Greek: πολιτικός politikos, definition “of, for, or relating to citizens”) is the process of making uniform decisions applying to all members of a group. It also involves the use of power by one person to affect the behavior of another person. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance — organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (a usually hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities.

    P.S. There are quite a few fantasy authors who dealt with social issues in their writing but I don’t recall people complaining about politics when Sir Terry Pratchett wrote about feminism and patriarchy as he introduced the characters of Angua and Cherry into his Discworld novels. Not even when his chosen topic was war in third world countries did people accuse him of having an agenda.
    Although… if he had writtens his novels today, perhaps they would have…


    1. Even if feminism and like isn’t politics, I think feminism and the like is the issue here. The people at Spacebattles are what started this discussion, and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t ethical issues that they were referring to as politics.

      And ethics are intertwined with politics. For example, legalizing homosexual marriage. It is politicians who do that. Then it also intertwines with unarguably politics, in America at least, when the federal government overrules the rights of individual states to make laws and legalizes homosexual marriage.


      1. Again, there is absolutely no need to bring politics into it. Said politics exist in our world, not in the Bastardverse.

        Why is it so difficult to discuss homosexuality, for example, without bringing politics into it?


      2. It is difficult to discuss homosexuality without bringing politics into it because a lot of people are very passionate about it.


      3. Wait, what?!

        People are passionate about it, so they bring politics into the mix? That doesn’t make any sense.

        So if I was being passionate about cooking, then I am supposed to involve the branches of government? I don’t see why the ruling of a judge concerns my appetite, why the introduction of a new law would change my love for food or why the election campaign of the mayor would make me reconsider my recipes.

        I’m perfectly able to discuss topics I’m passionate about without involving politics at all. I can talk about movies, games, books, food, sports, cars and all kinds of topics without getting political once.

        I don’t see why that’s so hard or why it suddendly becomes more difficult just because the topic is homosexuality, feminism, war etc. There are more than one angle to look at things. Hell, I can even discuss taxes without politics, I can discuss them from a micro/macro economical point of view, too. 😛

        I think what you’re trying to say is that currently politics in certain parts of the world are making these issues their topic and now people are discussing them in that context. And they are passionate about that for lots of reasons, most of which have little to do with the actual issue.
        What I’d like to see is people realizing that context matters and that you can’t just transplant a discussion into a different context, like a fictional universe with a completely different society. You simply can’t bring RL politics into it and expect a sensible, productive discussion, you have to seperate it.
        For example, you can’t discuss RL religion in the same venue as TGaB religion, that just doesn’t work. No matter how passionate you are about it. 😉


      4. Actually, I think that the reason politics gets confused with ethics (particularly in the U.S.) is because most people are used to using government as a means of ethical determination (I.e., if it’s wrong then it should be banned, if it’s not wrong then government shouldn’t touch it).

        In an age when social media allows for widespread outrage, people feel that their ethical beliefs are validated by political victory, rather than by the rightness or wrongness of their cause. For instance, opponents of transgender bathrooms are simply accused of being “on the wrong side of history,” when there should be a constructive dialogue on what problems exist, and how the current system might be reformed to help avoid bullying of transgender without placing a burden on survivors of sexual abuse. Instead, a group with a political agenda (both sides of the debate, mind–I’m not arguing for or against here) uses a legitimate issue to polarize society and gain political points. People fall for it because that’s what they expect from government now.


    2. > Having an agenda doesn’t make you a politician and in this case the issues are usually presented from multiple points of view, so you can’t accuse the author of being biased.

      Having a following of people who pay attention to your words provides those words a greater opportunity to influence social change. Social change rarely comes from politicians – but from influential people whom the politicians (through the people) take note of. You don’t have to be a politician to take part in politics.

      >Honestly, I find the notion that addressing social changes in a fantasy world is politics both hilarious and frustrating.

      Yet fantasy worlds (and sci fi) have always been a vehicle for influencing social change. The Iliad pushed its viewpoint of male dominance, the dangers of hubris, and the benefits of a strong leader. The Lord of the Rings was intended to provide a white Anglo-Saxon “mythology” which the author thought was lacking. Science Fiction stories choose to take, as standard, what they wish the world to eventually see as standard (eg The Expanse taking homosexuality as standard in an effort to normalise it; Ancillary Justice ignoring gender boundaries to point out how irrelevant those boundaries are).

      Just because a book isn’t set in our world, doesn’t mean its politics (or politiks really, to use the term in its meaning of “enlightened political ideals with pragmatic realities”) are any less relevant to the social order from the world in which the story emerged.


  8. All this discussion about politics made me realize how loosely regulated ‘gun control’, wand control in this universe, is. Gabriel had not gone through any sort of official certification process, but is able to legally and easily gain access to a very high power wand. What’s stopping some nutjob from buying a wand and killing a bunch of school children? There isn’t even an easy Circle of Enchantment protection that public areas can be protected with, since wands are arcane, infernal trumps arcane, and nobody is going to teach teachers how to use infernal magic to trump wands. And divine magic, the most easily accessed magic for this sort of thing, is weak to the arcane.

    Relevant to this actual chapter:

    I suspect the person behind the attacks is the ‘dead’ orc god. Plenty of power, strong motivation, and could very well be able to reside in Athan-Khar. As far as I know, this was the only example of a god being killed by having its homeland killed, so it’s fully possible that the god was never killed after all. I mean, Scyllith didn’t die when she was separated from the sun. Then the god could have been just biding its strength for a good moment to strike, and given that something Big is going to happen very soon, the god could have just been pressed into action even though it never got the good moment to strike.


    1. I’m fairly sure the pantheon confirmed the death of the orc god. Arachne certaintly thinks he’s dead and she’s a bit of an expert.


      1. Arachne’s not infallible. Normally I would say that the odds of the orc god still being alive are very low, but currently I don’t think there are more than 4 options as to what could be happening:

        1. A green dragon is causing the attacks,
        2. An old elf is causing the attacks,
        3. Mary the Crow in particular is causing the attacks,
        4. The orc god is causing the attacks.

        I don’t see the motivation for the attacks from either option 1 or 2, plus both would know Viridill wouldn’t just step aside and allow an invasion into Tiraas. Mary the Crow I think is still busy with other events, and also would know Viridill wouldn’t allow an invasion into Tiraas. A crippled orc god however would have motivation, and it could be plausibly explained why it doesn’t know Viridill wouldn’t allow an invasion. It would also explain why it isn’t just asking Viridill to allow an invasion with words and is instead sending hard to interpret messages via elemental attack.


      2. Don’t forget that Webb has previously interlinked two apparently unrelated plotlines (the undead rising and the chaos dragon’s skull). Perhaps these elemental attacks are somehow related to Ingvar’s vision quest.


      3. @jeray2000: I see no reason to doubt Arachne or the pantheon in this. If there was any doubt the orc god died, it would have been brought up before. What you’re doing here is a fallacy… or possibly two. Not that I can remember their names.
        You’re saying “these are the only four options, three of which are already disqualified, so it has to be number 4 despite it having astronomically low odds”. 😉

        You’re also basing your entire theory on assumptions so fragile that the characters who came up with them explicitly said so.

        “Bear in mind that anything we conclude at this point is speculation,” said Basra. “We are just barely beyond the realm of guesswork; there’s scarcely enough information to begin forming theories. But we have been dealing with this individual long enough for certain patterns to emerge, and from those we can draw some preliminary conclusions.”

        @kenkoden: If I am not mistaken, then Mary knows what the vision is about and who sent it. If those storylines are connected, then that would mean Mary is involved in the elemental summoning somehow. Since Malivette was informed about the arrival of Darling, Ingvar and Joe by a shadow elemental and Mary was aware of Malivette because she visited Trissiny there, then we might have a connection already.
        Mary is an enemy of the state, so attacks on the Empire would be in her wheelhouse.
        While interesting, this theory seems unlikely and flawed. Mary wouldn’t resort to open warfare, most of the Elders of the elves know her personally and would recognize her type/frequency of magic and she isn’t the one who sent the vision. Also, Mary is friendly towards the Sisters of Avei. Two of her offspring are in the organization and she herself as a long history of helping the Sisters and Avei.

        Oh, remember that green dragon with a grudge against the Empire? The one who tried to breed an army to march on Tiraas? I wonder what big K has been up to lately.


      4. I suppose I did use a fallacy. I still feel moderately confident in my prediction. This isn’t something I’m going to fight about though, I’m nowhere near as confident in this as I am in Justinian being a power in the world on par with Arachne or the Black Wreath being an inept organization.


      5. “I don’t see the motivation for the attacks from either option 1 or 2, plus both would know Viridill wouldn’t just step aside and allow an invasion into Tiraas.”

        A couple quick points that really should be obvious: just because you don’t see the motivation doesn’t mean there isn’t motivation. Indeed, Daemon pointed out that in fact, green dragon Mr. K has PLENTY of motivation! That one point invalidates your entire theory. But as you say, it’s quite unlikely Mr. K doesn’t know Viridill would not stand down.

        Most importantly, however, is that you omitted options 5 through 8, which are astronomically more likely than 4.

        5. Another character not covered by 1-4 is responsible.
        6. Some person or force not yet introduced to the story is responsible.
        7. Syrinx’s conclusions are incorrect, and the elemental summoner has a different agenda entirely, or their actions so far are a distraction. If Tiraan forces move to reinforce Viridill, they will be unavailable if the actual attack comes from another direction.
        8. This is a catch-all to cover all possible options that haven’t even been considered thus far.

        I will say thus in all caps for emphasis: NO LIST IS EVER COMPLETE WITHOUT POINT 8. You will never, ever, consider every conceivable option, not even every plausible one. Thus, you see that it makes no sense whatsoever for you to just randomly decide “I don’t know who did it, therefore it must be the former orc god that doesn’t even exist anymore!” I’ll repeat: this theory is totally random and has literally zero supporting evidence! Please take a moment to read HPMOR (or better yet, peruse lesswrong.com) and learn the art of rationality before adding more fallacious drivel to this discussion.

        P.S. what makes you so sure Arachne ISN’T infallible, at least for matters outside of ascension to godhood or her own past? I’m not even playing devil’s advocate here, it’s seriously worth considering that Webb wrote her that way.


      6. @The Warren Peace NFL Daemion already pointed out the fallacy. I already said I still stand by my prediction, although I didn’t go into much detail over why, using the reason it’s not something I feel particularly strongly about. Since you seem very passionate about how my prediction is wrong, I’ll go into some more detail about why I support it.

        1. I don’t think reasons 5-8 you provided are particularly likely. It would be very odd for Webb to introduce an entirely new major force into TGaB when it’s several hundred thousand words in, that discounts 5 to a large degree. It’s still possible, but unlikely. If you can a character that’s not covered by number 4, I’ll consider number 6 valid, until then I’m discounting it. I don’t see Syrinx being wrong likely. Syrinx is smart, and I personally agree with her arguements, so that discounts 7. As for number 8, if there is something I haven’t even considered, there is no point in making predictions at all.
        2. I am not certain in this prediction, I am not saying you have to believe this and are an idiot if you don’t. I do not even very confident in this prediction, I’d say odds are 1/3.
        3. It is fun to make predictions and discuss the story.

        Also, I think Arachne isn’t infallible because she tried to commit suicide and failed. If she was infallible and could do whatever she wanted to, there’d be no reason she would want to commit suicide. In addition, Ellial feels at least somewhat comfortable working alongside her. If Arachne was infallible, then Ellial would want to stay far away, since her strength is based around manipulation, and there’d be no chance of manipulating Arachne.


    2. “ll this discussion about politics made me realize how loosely regulated ‘gun control’, wand control in this universe, is (…)What’s stopping some nutjob from buying a wand and killing a bunch of school children?”
      The bastard verse is coming out of a mix of renaissance and middle age and coming into an magical industrial revolution. Apparently not long ago, the empire was still waging war at its frontiers, and magical critters still appear randomly. Also they do have a classification for natural disaster persons.
      I’m not sure gun control is their priority.


  9. Well, you guys have all said a lot of things I only wished I could have said as well as you did so I’ll keep in brief : I think you could add even more politics into the Bastardverse. I get my kick from those chapters and my main pleasure comes from seing the world continue to unfold layer by layer in all their complexities.

    Please don’t change that ! 😥


    1. If it’s frustrating for ME to see some johnny-come-lately story at #2!!!, I can’t imagine how it must feel for Webb or Wildbow, or especially someone like Zoetewey or Hayes. Making it worse is the fact that said stories arw invariably fucking TERRIBLE. I can’t imagine where those 300+ votes come from, without turning to unfair shenanigans for an explanation (and not even Citadel-style shenanigans, which were at least arguably fair).

      In honor of Jeray5000, I have narrowed it down to the only 4 possible explanations:
      1. It’s some high schooler who got his whole class to vote
      2. It’s one person who spoofed 300 different IP addresses
      3. Donald Trump.
      4. Steven Colbert.

      As much as I want to blame 3, obviously the answer is Steven Colbert.


      1. This isn’t uncommon, and it’s usually the first reason; somebody manages to finagle a bunch of people into voting. Sometimes they can keep it up for a few weeks, but these folks haven’t actually built up a readership and have nothing to motivate people to keep clicking the vote link. Most are gone within a week.


      2. @The Warren NFL Report, Could you please try to be polite? I said I wasn’t insulted the first time I brought this up, but I am starting to get annoyed the hostility. I manage to have civil debates all the time without it resorting to insults.


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