Epilogue – Volume 3

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Warm weather had lingered throughout the continent, to the point that rumors had begun circulating about Ouvis’s displeasure and the Empire’s plans to employ various magical schemes to bring on winter. Any of these could be debunked by theological scholars acquainted with Ouvis’s habits (he had none to speak of) or magicians aware of the possibilities regarding weather control (there were no possibilities; you could manipulate the weather, not control it, and the manipulation was exceedingly inadvisable). Fortunately, the winds turned cold and the first snows began to fall before any of these nascent fears could get out of hand.

In a certain cabin barracks at the Silver Legion’s main fortress in Tiraas, more than a few jokes were made about how perfectly the onset of chilly skies and falling snow coincided with the return of one Bishop Basra Syrinx.

Three weeks later, they weren’t laughing. The housing provided to the Legionnaires of the Ninth Cohort was perfectly adequate—Avenist ethics wouldn’t allow soldiers to be deprived of necessities—but there was a wide distance between adequate and comfortable. The cabin was kept warm enough by the decades-old arcane stove provided, barely. Changing in and out of armor had become something of an ordeal, and all of them had changed bunks to sleep as far from the door and as close to the heat source as possible. Ironically, the much older technology of wood-fired iron stoves would have put off more heat, but in Tiraas, power crystals and enchanting dust were easier to obtain (not to mention store) than firewood, and the Legion quartermasters obstinately refused to spring for a refurbishment. Meanwhile, at the other end of the cabin, it remained cool enough that frost didn’t melt from the outside of the windows.

Thus, Principia got the usual round of unfriendly looks when she threw the door open. Her sunny mood, unsurprisingly, did not improve the reception.

“Gooooood evening, ladies!” she said brightly. “Everybody enjoyed dinner, I trust?”

“Shut that damn door, you maniac!” Merry barked, huddling by the stove.

“First, Lang, I have spoken to you about melodrama. It isn’t that cold. You wait till midwinter; you’ll feel a right fool for complaining about this. And second, we have company, so could you turkeys at least pretend there’s a semblance of a functioning chain of command in this barracks?”

She continued into the room, revealing the other soldier behind her, as the rest of Squad One got to their feet. In the next moment, they all snapped to attention, saluting.

“Bishop Shahai,” Farah blurted. “This is a surprise.”

“At ease, ladies,” Nandi said with a little smile, turning to pull the door closed behind her. “And surely you know it’s no longer Bishop. I was merely keeping the seat warm, as it were, and now its owner has returned to reclaim it.”

“Yes…we know,” Casey said quietly, relaxing her posture. “Sorry, ma’am. It’s, uh, good to see you again.”

“And in armor,” Ephanie added with a smile. “That’ll take some getting used to, Captain.”

“I fancy I’ve grown rather adept at getting used to things over the years, Avelea,” Nandi replied, smiling back and hoisting the rucksack she was carrying over one armored shoulder. “But before we all catch up, I believe Sergeant Locke has some announcements to make.”

“Yes, indeed I do,” Principia went on with the same mischievous cheer, opening the folder of papers she had held tucked under her arm. “Front and center, Avelea!”

Ephanie blinked, but didn’t join in the round of puzzled glances that passed between the others; relaxed as Principia preferred to keep things within their own barracks, she was the most devoted to military decorum among them. As ordered, she stepped forward to the middle of the aisle between bunks, falling naturally into parade rest.

“Ephanie Avelea,” Principia said more solemnly, “you are hereby advanced to the rank of Corporal, with all attendant duties and privileges. Furthermore,” she added, quelling Farah’s excited gasp with a stern look, “I am designating you executive officer of this squadron. Both are effective immediately.”

Ephanie’s lower lip trembled, but only for a second, before she snapped to attention and saluted, fist over heart. Only the lack of a sword, which she wasn’t wearing, diminished the gesture, and that not by much. “Thank you, Sergeant,” she said crisply.

“That’s all you have to say?” Principia asked somewhat wryly.

Ephanie swallowed once. “I… It really is. Thank you.”

“Now, I’m aware that it’s tradition in the military for officers not to bother explaining themselves as a general rule,” Principia went on, sweeping a glance across the rest of the squad, all of whom looked more excited even than Ephanie. “However, we’re a small unit, and within this little family, I want to make sure you all understand where I’m coming from with this.”

“It’s hardly a question, is it?” Farah burst out eagerly. “She has tons more experience than any of us! Weren’t you a Lieutenant, Ephanie?”

“Sides,” Merry added, grinning, “any of the rest of these jokers claiming to be officer material would be good for a laugh and not much else.”

“Stow that kind of talk,” Principia said flatly. “You’ve all got potential I don’t think you’re aware of, and the only reason I don’t ride your asses harder about it is the rest of you have all indicated you’re not planning to stick with the Legions as a career once your contracted enlistment is up. And even so, there are going to be some changes around here in that direction. But yes, back on point. Avelea does have the experience and the know-how, but that’s only half of it. You’re a by-the-books soldier, Ephanie,” she added directly to the new corporal. “And I, to put it mildly, am not. More importantly, you’ve consistently managed to support me with your knowledge of and devotion to the Legion’s principles and regulations, without ever undercutting my authority or butting heads with me.”

“You get the credit for that, ma’am,” Ephanie replied, still saluting. “You’ve always been quick to ask for input.”

“It’s a two-way street, and at ease, woman, for heaven’s sake. The point is, quite apart from your innate qualifications, you’re what I need both backing me up and counterbalancing me.”

“I won’t let you down, Sergeant,” Ephanie promised fervently.

“I know that quite well, Corporal,” Principia said with a grin. “Quite frankly I’ve had this in mind almost since I was promoted, but there have been…details to consider. Which brings me to our next item of business!” Turning, she smiled at Shahai, who was watching the proceedings with a warm little smile of her own. “This had to wait, Avelea, so you could be promoted first to preserve your seniority in the squad—an outdated and perhaps unnecessary little rule, but I’m being very careful to leave no wiggle room for someone to start picking us apart, and you know who I mean.”

She paused for emphasis, and they all gazed back at her in mute understanding. So far, none of them had heard directly from Bishop Syrinx, though Jenell Covrin had been spotted around the temple and adjoining fortress.

“The other thing I’ve arranged required paperwork which needed the approval of High Commander Rouvad, who did not want to give it.”

“Sergeant Locke approached me about this some time ago,” Nandi said, her smile tugging upward further on one side and taking on a sly undertone. “I began a campaign of persuasion upon Farzida as soon as I was able to relinquish the Bishop’s office. It has only borne fruit, finally, today.”

“The voluntary grade reduction for someone of Shahai’s status goes all the way to the top, I’m afraid,” Principia said smugly. “But Shahai has proved her worth—as if we haven’t all seen plenty of evidence of it already—and got her way. Ladies, may I introduce Corporal Nandi Shahai, the newest member of Squad Three Nine One.”

“Bwuh?” Farah said.

“Pick any bunk you like the look of,” Principia said directly to Nandi. “Except Lang’s, of course. Not that I don’t encourage you to push Lang around, but I think she has mites.”

“Oh, look,” Merry said dryly, folding her arms. “She ruined a nice moment. What were the odds.”

“W-welcome aboard…Corporal,” Casey said hesitantly.

“Yes, welcome,” Ephanie repeated. “I think…this is a very good idea, Sarge. She’s perfect for our squad’s assigned objectives.”

“Not to mention the un-assigned ones,” Principia said easily.

The others exchanged another wary look.

“You’ve, um, talked with her about…?” Casey trailed off, looking uncertainly at Nandi.

“Not explicitly, no,” their new squadmate replied, “but it’s exceedingly obvious that you will be contending directly with Basra Syrinx, and sooner rather than later. That she will be coming after you is an unavoidable conclusion—quite apart from the humiliation she suffered right under your eyes, which she won’t forgive, the fact is that your squad is a professional threat to her. Your assigned duties eat into the additional powers and responsibilities she has taken on beyond the standard job of the Bishop. I strongly suspect none of you are complacent enough or foolish enough to let her come without meeting her in kind, and I know Sergeant Locke isn’t.”

Principia beamed like the cat who’d eaten the whole aviary.

“And you’re…okay with this?” Casey asked warily.

Nandi’s smile faded, and she shook her head. “I am not okay in any sense with any part of this, ladies. What I am is in. I’ve been watching Basra Syrinx for a long time, and I know exactly what she represents and means for the Legions and the Sisterhood. Farzida believes she can be controlled and used to good advantage. So, I rather suspect, does the Archpope. I think you and I know better.”

“Nobody at the very top has a good view of what goes on in the shadows,” Principia agreed, nodding. “For now, let’s help the newbie get settled in, here, and then we have a promotion to celebrate! I know a perfect pub—discreet enough to keep us out of trouble, but not too much to be fun. And then…” She grinned wolfishly. “…we start working on our dear friend Basra.”

The office was illuminated only by the dim light of her desk lamp. She didn’t need even that to see; to elvish eyes, the moonlight streaming through the windows behind her was more than adequate for the letters she was writing. It cast a faint, rusty light over her desk, however, and created interesting shadows around the room. The lamp was more for ambiance than anything; she used it to great effect when intimidating unruly students (and sometimes parents), but had come to enjoy it for its own sake, too.

Only the soft scratch of her old-fashioned quill sounded in the room, at least aside from the soft flutter of wings as a small bird landed on the sill outside. Tellwyrn, who of course could hear that perfectly, too, ignored it. She also ignored the increasingly insistent croaking which followed. Only when the sharp, persistent tapping of a beak on the panes started up and refused to stop did she sigh in irritation, blow upon the ink to dry it, and put her quill away.

Spinning her chair around without bothering to get up, she un-latched the window and swung it outward, the bird nimbly hopping aside.

“I’m half-surprised you didn’t just blast it in,” she said acerbically.

“I really cannot imagine why,” Mary replied, swinging her legs in over the sill. She simply perched there, though, not coming the rest of the way inside. “When have you ever known me to do such things? Not everyone suffers from your delusions concerning what constitute social skills, Arachne.”

“From arriving to insulting me in seven seconds,” Tellwyrn said sourly. “Sadly, that is not a record. What the hell do you want, Kuriwa? I have a shit-ton of paperwork to get done before I’ll have the chance to enjoy a week’s vacation from the little bastards, and so help me, if you ruin my holiday you’ll leave this mountaintop minus a few feathers.”

The Crow stared piercingly into her eyes, all levity gone from her face. “Where is Araneid?”

Tellwyrn gazed right back. “Who?”

Mary just stared at her.

“You’re not as inscrutable as you like to think, Kuriwa,” Tellwyrn said, idly turning back toward her desk, but not too far to keep her visitor in view. “I know you recognized my name. I knew it the first time we met. And yet, in three thousand years, you have never once asked me about this. So now I have to wonder…” She edged the chair back to face the Crow directly, and leaned forward, staring over the rims of her spectacles. “What just happened?”

“I returned to Viridill weeks ago, on your advice,” Mary replied. “It was good advice, by the way, and you ended up being more right than you knew. I thank you; it proved very good that I was there. Among the interesting things I learned was the repeated occurrence of spider webs as a theme, seen binding and drawing various players in that drama to one another. They were glimpsed only in the medium of dreams, thanks to Khadizroth’s intervention—that is a specialty of his, as you probably remember.”

“Of course.”

“And the matter put me in mind of a conversation I had with Sheyann not long ago,” Mary continued. “I have been noting for a while that wherever an event of significance occurs, particularly on this continent, it seems to be centered around the same few people. The dreamscape, of course, has a way of interpreting complex things in a way that is meaningful to intelligent minds. All this makes me wonder what strings have been tightening around us all that I was simply not in a position to see, before.”

“Spider webs, hm,” Tellwyrn mused.

“And so, I repeat my question,” Mary said, her stare sharp and unyielding. “What is the current location and status of Araneid?”

Tellwyrn sighed. “Uh…dead? Undead? Mostly dead? Maybe sort of comatose, with a bit of unborn… It’s not simple, and quite frankly I never understood it well.”

“Go on,” Mary said flatly.

The sorceress twitched her shoulders in an irritated shrug. “You know, you really could have asked me about this in the beginning. It’s not a great secret. Or rather, I suppose I should say I’ve no care for the opinions of those who might want to keep it secret. I just don’t know, Kuriwa. What I know, you now do, and it took all of a moment to tell. I can add a little insight, though,” she said, folding her arms. “The corpse or sleeping body or whatever it is of a god makes a tremendous power source—but only another god would be able to make use of such a thing. To ask about a dead or almost dead deity, look for the living ones who have custody of her. If you want to know what happened to Araneid, ask Scyllith. If you want to get at her now, you’ll have to go through Avei. And in all seriousness, I wish you luck with it. I had just finished washing my hands of the whole sordid affair when we met the first time, and I will not be dragged back in.”

“Hmm,” the Crow mused, finally breaking eye contact and staring thoughtfully at the far wall. “The spider webs are not, after all, definitive proof of anything… But I have taken so long to come back here because I did my own research first. They are strongly associated with Araneid, and not just in myth. You say this goddess is…sort of dead, but not?”

Tellwyrn grimaced. “That’s as good a description as I could come up with, I suppose. Ask at the Abbey if you want to examine the…uh, body. I rather doubt they’d let you, though, and not even you are going to get through those defenses. Get too close to that thing, and Avei will land on you personally.”

“Is it possible,” Mary persisted, “that she could influence events across time? Your description suggests a revival of this Elder is possible. If this happens soon, what are the chances she could—”

“Kuriwa, I don’t know,” Tellwyrn exclaimed. “I’ve told you that. The magic involved is heinously complex and maybe comprehensible to me, but it was never explained, and I haven’t gone looking. I want out of the whole business. In theory, though? Sure, Araneid probably had that power, back in the days of the Elder Gods. I suspect most of them did. They didn’t have any equivalent of Vemnesthis watching against intrusions like that, and by the way, with him around and on duty she would have to be powerfully subtle to get away with it. Also… This would have to be very closely linked in time. If this is Araneid at work, she hasn’t been at it long. Someone would definitely have noticed before now. Probably someone in this room. Although…” Her expression grew faraway and thoughtful. “If it is within just a few years, though… There’s that great doom I haven’t been able to pin down. Alaric’s research points at an alignment of some kind… But of what we can’t figure out. It’s likely to be in just a few years, however. That could theoretically be a short enough time.”

Mary straightened up, suddenly frowning. “…Arachne, have you seen what is under Linsheh’s grove? I have long assumed that was an early stop on your own research.”

Tellwyrn grimaced. “Linsheh and I don’t get along.”

“Yes, your feud made waves I have not managed to ignore, but I’ve heard nothing about it in four hundred years. I had assumed you two made up.”

“Well. For a given value of ‘made up.’ I’m pretty sure I won.” The sorceress grinned. “After her last stunt, I teleported her eldest son’s birth tree out of the grove, had it carved into a collection of exotic marital aids, sold them off in Puna Dara and sent her the receipts. I haven’t heard a peep out of her since, so I declared victory.”

For a long moment, Mary stared at her in utter silence. Then, finally, she shook her head.

“You really are the worst person,” she said in a tone of weary disgust. “In all my ages alive on this world, I have known the sick and depraved, the cruel, the truly evil. But you. There is no soul, living or dead, who is your rival in sheer, pigheaded obnoxiousness.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” Tellwyrn said, smirking. “Especially not when you come pecking on my window in the middle of the night smelling like a haystack and with your hair badly in need of a brush. A lady likes to be finessed.”

“If you are investigating what’s coming, particularly if you’re curious about alignments,” Mary said curtly, “you need to look at what is underneath that grove. The answers there could reflect on other things that are of interest to you, as well. And for the love of whatever it is you may love, Arachne, try to mend fences with Linsheh while you’re at it. I don’t know what happened between you or who started it, but she doesn’t deserve that kind of abuse. And we all will need to be able to reach out to one another in the near future, I suspect.”

She paused only to snort disdainfully, then turned and swung her legs out over the other side of the sill.

Tellwyrn watched the crow flap off into the night, frowning pensively.

“Hm… Well, it beats the hell out of paperwork.” She glanced disparagingly at her desk. “Then again, what doesn’t?”

“Have you all lost your goddamn minds!?”

It was well past dark and more than halfway toward midnight; sleet was pounding on the windows of Darling’s house, and the downstairs parlor had its fairy lamps turned as far down as possible, lit chiefly by the fire in the hearth. It was a cozy environment, the kind that would encourage sleepiness, if not for Style stomping up and down the carpet, raging at everyone.

“C’mon, now,” Darling protested. “You can’t possibly fail to see the benefits.”

“I don’t fail to see the benefits of ripping off the fucking Imperial treasury!” she snarled, pausing to glare down at him. “That doesn’t mean I don’t also see how that would bite me right the fuck on the ass!”

“How, though?” Tricks asked mildly. Aside from the circles under his eyes, he looked livelier than he had in weeks; all evening, he’d been growing more jolly as Style grew more irate. “You think the Sisterhood are going to spy on us? Quite apart from the fact they’ve shown no interest in doing that in eight thousand damn years, Style, this is not how you plant a spy. You don’t send a ranking officer of your army up to the enemy’s fortress and say ‘hello there, I would like to come spy, please.’ They’re not thieves, but a divinely-appointed military is definitely clever enough not to do something so thickheaded.”

“This is pretty much exactly what it looks like,” Darling added in the same calm tone. “A damn good idea, far too long coming, with huge potential benefits for both cults. I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of it first…although, it pretty much couldn’t have come from anyone else.” He grinned at the room’s other, quieter guest.

Style, meanwhile, clapped a hand dramatically over her eyes and groaned loudly. “You do it on purpose, Boss. And you, ex-Boss. You just like to see me suffer. I oughta throttle you both with your own fucking nutsacks.”

“Tea, Style?” Price asked diffidently.

“Don’t fucking start with me, Savvy,” the enforcer warned.

“It is my solemn hope that I do not have to start with you,” the Butler replied with characteristic serenity.

“What she means,” Sweet said with a grin, “is that it’d be politically awkward if she had to finish with you.”

“Style, you’ve been raging up and down for half an hour and generally making the point that this bugs you on an instinctive level,” said Tricks. “Fine, I get that. It’s your job, after all, to watch for threats. But if you’d seen a specific, credible threat here, you’d have said so by now. So with all respect, hun, button it. I’m making my decision: we’ll go ahead.”

Style snarled and kicked the rack of fireplace tools, sending them clattering across the carpet. Price swept silently in to tidy up.

“We’ll have to arrange a disguise, of course,” Darling said more seriously, studying his houseguest. “There’ll be all kinds of a flap if this gets out.”

“How the fuck are you going to disguise that?!” Style shouted.

“This is why I hate you sometimes,” Tricks informed her. “You never listen when I talk about what’s important to me. You don’t change a person’s whole appearance to disguise them, you just change the identifying details. Yessss… We’ll dye her hair, lose the uniform and give her a crash course in not walking like a soldier. It’s not like her face is widely known.”

Style snorted thunderously and halted her pacing directly in front of the chair next to Tricks’s. “Don’t you think for a second,” she warned, leveling a pointing finger, “that I’m gonna go easy on you, trixie.”

Trissiny, who had been silent for the last ten minutes as the conversation continued around her, slowly stood, her eyes never leaving the chief enforcer’s.

“If you insulted me by trying,” she said quietly, “I would lay you out. Again.”

Tricks burst out laughing. “Oh, but this is fantastic! It’s exactly the opportunity both our cults need—I love every part of this! Especially Style’s bloomers being in a bunch, that’s always good comedy.”

“I know where you sleep, twinkletoes!”

Ignoring her, he stood as well, turning to face their guest, and extended a hand. Trissiny clasped it in her own, gauntlet and all.

“It’s decided, then. You may all consider this official.” The Boss grinned broadly, pumping the paladin’s hand once. “Welcome to the Thieves’ Guild, apprentice.”

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32 thoughts on “Epilogue – Volume 3

  1. My day started at 2 AM with aching joints and nausea. After heaving pretty constantly for a few hours I called in sick to work.

    Feelin’ much better, now, though still having trouble keeping food down. Seems to be a minor and quickly-passing bug.

    By the standards of my life, this barely registers as an inconvenience.

    Everybody have a good weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.


      1. It’s probably more akin to Paladin/Rogue/fitting prestige class. :p

        My favourite epilogue chapter so far. Can’t wait to.read about trissinies… Apprenticeship.


      1. What you said must have been offensive enough to get the gods to edit it and wipe your mind clean. Either that or you were drunk.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Hah, I knew she’d go to the Thieves Guild. Now it’s only a matter of time until she hears of Principia. ^^

    I’m surprised that Arachne has never been to the vault beneath the grove, one would assume that to be one of her first stops in her quest.
    We now have the confirmation that Arachne is not Araneid. Mh… who or what is she then?
    Scyllith holds Araneid’s power and Avei holds Araneid’s body… and that’s the result of the event 3000 years ago, which was Arachne’s first appearance. Interesting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A priestess would be my bet… And, to her goddess what paladins and higher fae are to the current lot.

      She may be the reason Araneid isn’t totally gone: think “external hard drive with an integrated recovery program”. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I don’t think Scyllith holds Araneid’s power, I think Scyllith is just the one who “killed” Araneid.


      1. You are correct. I re-read that passage again and it is Avei who holds the body and with it, the power of Araneid. Although it doesn’t look like she’s using it herself?


      2. It could be that – given the connection between Araneid and the Drow – the means by which Scylith now controls the deep Drow is somehow related to Araneid or Araneid’s power.


    3. Okay. I admit I saw the thieves guild part coming, but I could have sworn Arachne WAS Araneid. Apparently not. I have to wonder if the readers figured it out, and Webb changed it on us…

      Anyway, I guess it is the high priestess idea instead. The two certainly have to have some relation, at least. But, whatever her quest was, why didn’t Avei help? She does have araneid’s body, after all, so she’d have to know that Scyllith DID do something… Argh!


  3. I love this so very much. I can’t wait to see what happens, and I really, really look forward to Trissiny interacting with Locke again. Plus, I mean….I have a lot sympathy for Trissiny’s original declaration to Locke, despite how cold hearted it sounded. Trissiny’s religious, highly so, her life is service to her goddess, she can’t exactly make big decisions without recognizing that impact. I don’t blame her for it, though my heart broke when I read it for these fictional characters (shut up, I get into stories.)

    But I’m really glad Trissiny is now in a position where she’ll be able to take that statement back and hopefully reconcile with Locke. I can’t, can’t, can’t wait for those two to interact again. By FAR they’re my favorite storylines.

    Also, I am so happy about the Arachne/Mary interaction in this chapter because I can finally speculate on something completely minor that I’ve been sitting on. There’s WAY bigger things to discuss–new Araneid information! Tellwyrn hasn’t interacted with the Avatar! And from the last chapter–Eserion implies Ellial is a great authority! Is he looking to reconcile?

    But nah. I’m going to ignore all the really big things coming up (for right now) in favor of this very minor one that’s been bugging me.

    A while back, Arachne grumbled about alignments and how stars far away can’t possibly move on a scale of 80000 years, and I came in too late to comment and it never seemed relevant to bring up again, but now, it’s finally mentioned, so I totally can!

    She’s wrong on one rather obvious point. Sure, the stars themselves won’t move much–provided their nearest neighbors are pretty far away which it sounds like it’s safe to assume, especially because if they were in a galaxy zone where star neighbors were that close by they’d be just….blasted with radiation in general. Living that close to probably supermassive black holes wouldn’t be fun.

    But planets orbiting those stars absolutely could have periods on a scale of 80000 years, or specifically, a planetary syzygy of some kind, could have a period of 80000 years. One of the ways to search for planets is to check for a dimming of the star–a big planet passing in front of it. So, yes. Information from stars very, very far away could absolutely change on a scale of 80000 years.

    I’m not saying it’s relevant to the story (though it might be!), I’m saying it’s interesting that doesn’t come up to one of the most well studied pair of mages we’ve seen. It’s possible those little dips simply haven’t ever effected magic in any way shape or form, so Arachne doesn’t consider that relevant, or no one’s considered the possibility that other stars had planets (which would….strain the imagination.) The former seems probable–it takes a very, very big planet to dim the stars even by 1%, and this world might not have the technology to record or notice that. Still…it’s kind of an obvious sort of guess to someone who knows astronomy, and I’m a little surprised Arachne didn’t make it.


      1. I actually assume D.D. Webb does know! He’s been pretty good about obliquely referencing other scientific facts on the regular (I swear there’s better examples but the only things I can remember off the top of my head are the center of gravity bird and the scale of astronomical movement), so I’ve taken it as a given that he’s got a working knowledge of general “science”, or at least enough of an interest to keep up with the news. Pop sci news recently has had a few notable events featuring that kind of study– KIC 8462852, the “possible–but not really–alien megastructure” springs to mind.

        But uh, maybe I’m really bad at estimating what pop science/general knowledge is, given that I’m a grad student in physics.

        Also, 8000, not 80000. My bad. Point stands, and hey I was only off by a factor of ten. That’s not so bad. 😀


      2. I am aware of the phenomenon, yes, but it honestly didn’t occur to me (and thus, to Arachne) that such a thing would have an impact on another planet. Probably because I was thinking at that time that magic exists on THIS planet and not on others, so the fastest thing moving between them was light, which doesn’t go anywhere in a hurry on that scale, and it’s very unlikely that extrasolar planets would bear on anything happening on this one.

        Well spotted and good thinking, though. I consider myself a science enthusiast; I love to read about it but haven’t been formally trained in any field. I include my little nods to scientific reality in my fantasy because they please me, but it’s inevitable that I’ll forget or miss things here and there.


      3. Hahah, all right then. Well, I was trying to speculate on why such distant objects would effect things on this planet, as is implied in the text, and figured it might not be so much of a “push” from the stars (I have no idea how astrology plays into magic in this world, since according to Arachne there is…SOME truth to it) as a….state check kind of thing. Some magical receiver set up to wait for a specific periodic signal from a star. It was possible! Guess not!

        I’m trying to prevent myself from going full nerd mode here, and failing miserably, but one of the big mental changes you have to make when learning quantum mechanics is the idea that “if you’re seeing/measuring it, you’re interacting with it.” Literally the only way to gather information about the world necessarily has to involve disturbing the system–even if it just means bombarding it with photons so it can reach your eyes. So on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re seeing light from the distant stars, they are, in fact, hitting you with energy of some kind–light, in this case. THAT I could well see passing by Arachne, that kind of thinking took a long time to develop in physics and frankly that might not even be true in this world.

        I thought that might be all it took. Ah well! 😀 Guess I’ll have to keep speculating.


  4. Really enjoying the story. Every chapter is better than the last. I’m dreaming of the day when I can buy the whole book set 🙂


  5. “You don’t send a ranking officer of your army up to the enemy’s fortress and say ‘hello there, I would like to come spy, please.’ ”

    Hands down the best sentence in the entire serial, bar none. Made me laugh so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello, all! A quick update from your author.

    It’s gonna be a calm, quiet sort of week around here. After months of moving the main plot, this’ll be sort of a vacation. Monday and Wednesday’s chapters will finish up Tazun’s side-story set in Tar’naris; Friday will be the prologue of Volume 4, wherein shit commences to get real. I’ve been looking forward to the fairly restful episode and think it’ll serve well between the blocks of more intense storytelling, both right now for my purposes and especially in a read-through of the archives once they’re complete.

    Tomorrow’s chapter is going to be a little late, though. I’ve picked up extra work at my day job, and also messed up my schedule so I’ve spent basically a whole day sitting around there having showed up a half-day early for my shift. It’s an hour commute, so going home and coming back isn’t a practical option. Next chapter is partly done but I’ve considered my options and I’m going to catch up on much-needed sleep tonight, get up early to work on the chapter and have it up at some point late Monday.

    It’s having to go back and forth that keeps screwing me over. What I need is to be making a living from my writing… That’s not a call for donations, though, don’t worry about me! I’m okay financially at the moment. I’m looking into options for paid freelance writing, though. It’d make a huge difference to be able to work entirely from home. What I’d save in travel expenses alone would be tremendous, not to mention the mental health benefits of no longer working in retail.

    However, all that’s trouble for another day. Catch you later tomorrow with the further adventures of our favorite drow silversmith.


    1. A bunch of people fro RoyalRoad are publishing their books on Amazon you can look into that,plus your writing is several times es better than theirs


    2. Rewriting/editing books and publishing them is a good idea. The author of The Gam3 did something like that and i think it works for him. But this only works if you have the time for it. You could also put an ad or two on your site. Most people use ad blocker so they won’t notice but some will surely whitelist your site. I already did. You could also make it like Citadel, where every new chapter must be read on the main site, not wordpress.


  7. wow… somehow missed this chapter entirely on my first read. I’m surprised I didn’t notice at the time. Three pretty important scenes here, too.


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