11 – 40

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Both carriages careened to a halt, Vandro’s skidding slightly. Tallie and Schwartz both had to cover their eyes against the sudden brightness; the roar of the explosion was enough to blot out even Meesie’s screeching.

One of the passenger doors on the front carriage swung open and Vandro himself stuck his head out. “What the hell—”

Wilberforce leaped from the driver’s seat, pivoted even as he hit the ground, and lunged back into the passenger compartment, dragging Vandro bodily with him.

“DOWN!” Schwartz tackled Tallie right off the roof before she could recover her equilibrium. Landing was instinctive to her, though it got a lot harder with a gangly witch coming down on top.

“Oof!” She pushed him away. “Have you lost your—”

“DOWN DOWN DOWN!” he bellowed, grabbing her by the shoulders and shoving her bodily at the side of Glory’s carriage. “All of you STAY IN THERE!”

Schwartz dashed to the open space between the two carriages, braced his feet, and made a double-handed lifting motion as if hoisting something heavy above his head.

Shafts of rock burst out of the ground at a steep angle, hurling clouds of snow into the air; more followed as Schwartz continued to gesticulate, grimacing, until after a few seconds he had drawn up a serviceable barricade extending up at a forty-five degree angle and blocking the ruined fortress from their view.

He was barely in time.

With a roar that put the initial explosion to shame, debris plummeted down in a massive wave, peppering the entire landscape with shattered masonry and old timbers, several of them on fire. Schwartz’s improvised rock barrier took a pounding; several large chunks broke off and one of the stone spires was broken entirely, falling to crush one fender of Vandro’s already-bedraggled carriage.

Tallie’e yelp of terror was lost in the noise; she wiggled under Glory’s carriage, arms reflexively over her head, and did not peek out again until the quiet which followed had held sway for a few seconds.

“Is it over?” Rasha asked tremulously from inside.

“Should be,” Schwartz said breathlessly, “for now. But stuff doesn’t just blow up. Somebody did that, and they have to be nearby.”

“Thanks,” Tallie said to him as she dragged herself out by one wheel. “How’d you…know?”

“It’s called fallout. My job and my religion involved being around a lot of experimental magic,” he said wryly, reaching up to soothingly pet Meesie, who was scampering back and forth along his shoulders in agitation. “Believe me, I know my way around explosions.”

“Fine work, my boy,” Vandro stated, emerging from the carriage and peering around at the damaged rock barrier.

“Hell yes!” Darius added more energetically, bounding out after him. “I told you we needed to keep this guy around! How ’bout sticking with us permanently, Schwartz? I don’t have the means to pay you a salary, but I can incentivize. You need any favors done? Pockets picked? How’d you like to marry my sister?”

“I can hear you, you preposterous oaf,” Layla snarled, leaping down from Glory’s carriage.

“Enough,” Glory said firmly, descending after her. “We are still in a predicament, here. This was our rendezvous point, and I think we have to assume we’ve just lost our reinforcements.”

Tallie gasped, turning to Jasmine, who had just emerged from the carriage and rushed to the edge of the rock barrier, staring at the burning ruins with a hollow expression. “Oh, Jas…”

“No time.” Jasmine shook herself off, turned and strode back to them. “Glory’s right; we’re now on the defensive. I suggest we pile back in and keep going. Whatever thinning of their numbers we have done tonight, it’s best to assume they have more—someone had to have done this, as Schwartz pointed out, and I’ve no way of knowing which if any of the help I called for got here…” Her voice caught momentarily. “Or survived.”

“Well, we may have a problem, there,” said Vandro. “Little did I know our boy Schwartz could do this kind of defensive magic; soon as we saw that tower go up, Wilberforce activated the shield charms on my carriage.”

“Whoah, wait, what?” Schwartz turned to frown at him. “You can’t shield a moving carriage—how’d you get around the magical interference?”

“That’s just the point, son,” Vandro said, grimacing. “I didn’t. Turning that on fried the wheel enchantments.” He patted the carriage’s abused fender. “I’m afraid this old girl isn’t going anywhere else tonight.”

Grip sighed, flicking a glance across the whole group as the lot of them finally piled out of the carriages. “Well, staying here isn’t a prospect. We’re sitting ducks in a snowstorm. Stay together and head for the treeline, the forest will hamper pursuit.”

“What if we went into the fortress?” Layla suggested.

Darius sighed. “The forest it is…”

“Oh, hush,” she said crossly. “It’s not as if they’ll expect that, and it can’t be as dangerous as who knows how many armed dwarves!”

“Too late,” Glory murmured.

The others followed her line of sight and turned to face it at varying speeds, Jasmine and the senior Eserites fastest. A line of squat figures had appeared in the darkness just ahead; thanks to the still-falling snow, they were nearly upon them before being visible, the crunch of multiple sets of feet not audible until the last moment thanks to the wind across the open space and the sound of fire raging not too far away in the ruins.

By the time they were close enough to be seen clearly, it was apparent that more than half were carrying wands.

One figure near the middle removed his hat and casually tossed it to the snow behind him with one hand, clutching a wand with the other. The face thus revealed was familiar to several of them.

“Quite the exciting evening,” Rogrind said flatly. A hint of the jovial politeness he had always displayed to them remained, though it was a clearly strained veneer over simmering anger, now. “You know something, I do believe my greatest regret about all this is that I won’t have time to sit you ruffians down and make you understand just how much harm you have caused over the course of these events. Well, second greatest. You’ve manage to kill some good people tonight.”

“The harm we caused,” Tallie snapped, “by refusing to roll over like—”

“Young lady,” the dwarf growled, “shut up. You were seen bringing several of the modified staves which started all this idiocy into those vehicles. Despite everything, I am willing to offer you terms: hand them over, and we will leave without doing any further harm to anyone, because we are still—still!—the civilized parties here.”

Grip slowly panned her gaze across the assembled dwarves, then caught Jasmine’s eye and tilted her head at them significantly. There were fifteen present, all garbed in inconspicuous winter attire, an even mix of men and women. Eight had wands pointed at the party. Jasmine nodded once in acknowledgment of Grip’s point: only four had the same calm, alert aspect as Rogrind. The rest were visibly nervous, uncertain, in at least two cases seriously frightened by all this. Civilians, somehow drafted into his campaign. Dwarven sturdiness or not, this was an army that would break at the first sign of significant threat.

Wands shifted as Schwartz made a sudden gesture with his hands.

“Stop!” Rogrind barked, too late.

Whatever he released spread outward from him like ripples in a pond, causing luminous butterflies of multiple colors to appear in the air around them, as well as illusory stalks of greenery popping up through the snow and an incongruous scent like sun-baked grass and flowers in the summer.

One panicked dwarf fired her wand at Schwartz, followed by another. No one else tried, as both weapons sparked ineffectually, the first actually igniting its owner’s sleeve and causing her to drop it with a shriek and tumble over, burying her arm in the snow.

“Those of you with wands, don’t fire them,” Schwartz said aside to his companions before turning his gaze fully on Rogrind. “I see you didn’t take our little discussion to heart. I’m afraid I was quite serious.”

Meesie leaped down from his shoulder of her own volition, actually vanishing deep into the snow and leaving a rat-shaped hole in it. An instant later, snow was hurled everywhere as she burst up into her much larger form, shook her mane, and roared.

Three more dwarves tried to shoot her; all ended up dropping suddenly-hot wands that wouldn’t fire, one also having to roll in the snow to put himself out.

“Good boy,” Grip said, stepping forward with a truly unhinged grin. She had somehow slipped on two sets of iron knuckles and produced a brass-studded club the length of her forearm from one of her pockets. Jasmine paced forward in unison, both Butlers positioned themselves pointedly in front of the group, and Meesie crouched, wriggling her hindquarters in a clear gesture of imminent feline attack.

Two of the dwarves turned and ran; most of the rest shuffled backward, looking around in alarm, and incidentally placing the hardened professionals among them on the front lines.

“Have it your way,” said Rogrind with a clear note of belligerent satisfaction.

As the two fronts collided, there came a sharp retort like a small explosion nearby, and Meesie howled in pain, vanishing from her lion form instantly. That was as much time as Jasmine had to notice the others before Grip was fully occupied dealing with two hard-eyed dwarves, and she found herself face-to-face with Rogrind himself.

He suffered one slash from her sword across his chest, and she realized her misjudgment a moment too late. First, he had some kind of armor under his coat, and second, he was good at personal combat. Stepping into her swing as it raked him, he positioned himself perfectly and slammed his fist into her ribs just under her sword arm. She managed not to drop the blade, but he hit like a mule’s kick; she staggered sideways, gasping for breath and in pain. Years of training and her innate agility kept her from losing her footing entirely, even in the snow, but Rogrind continued to defy the stolid dwarven stereotype. He pressed her, striking bare-handed; she gained a few feet of breathing room by dodging to one side and stabbing him in the upper arm. He bared his teeth in pain, his left arm suddenly bleeding profusely and hanging useless, but was too disciplined to let it stop him.

Despite the past few seconds’ education in his surprising level of combat ability, she was still unprepared for his speed. He bulled forward as swiftly as a pouncing cat, using his weight and lower center of gravity to tackle her bodily around the midsection and bear her to the ground. Jasmine twisted, trying to bring her blade back into play, but he caught her wrist. It was with his injured arm, but thanks to the famous dwarven sturdiness, he had strength enough to keep her pinned down. She clawed at his eye with her other hand, but he turned his head aside even as he slipped a stiletto from his sleeve, and a moment later she had to grasp his descending wrist to protect her throat.

That close, in a wrestling match, he was considerably stronger than she. Her arm strained to hold it off, but the blade descended inexorably.

She gritted her teeth and reached for the light inside her. There was a time to break cover, after all.


Rogrind jerked his head up, then released her and tried to stumble back, not quite fast enough. The lance that flashed down at him nailed him directly in the shoulder. It didn’t penetrate deeply enough to stick, falling out as he continued to reel backward, but left him gushing blood and with two injured arms.

A second later, Principia’s boots sank into the snow on either side of Jasmine’s head, the elf landing protectively over her from what had to have been a long leap. She surged forward, drawing her short sword and slamming her shield against Rogrind. He was too heavy for the slender elf to physically force back, but she was a whirling storm in Legion armor, pounding with her shield, jabbing and slashing with the blade, and he had no choice but to retreat after his only counterattack, an attempt to grab her shield, ended with a stab through the forearm that put his right arm fully out of commission.

More boots crunched in the snow, and then Squad One was surging past her, forming themselves into a phalanx with their sergeant at the tip. She still didn’t have her lance, but held her blade at the ready.

“Right face, shield wall!” Principia barked, and they seamlessly formed up, allowing Rogrind to scuttle away in the snow and shifting their arrowhead formation to a solid line of shields, bristling with lances, and facing the rest of the dwarves. At this development, the two who were harrying Grip also released her, backing away.

“Wait!” Rogrind said, weakly holding up his left hand, the only one he still could. “Wait! We have no argument with—”

“CHARGE!” Principia roared, and the squad raced forward.

That was too much for most of the remaining dwarven conscripts, who scattered in all directions, leaving only the few who were engaged in melee with the other Eserite apprentices, none of whom appeared to be very effective. Jasmine rapidly assessed the battlefield and bit back a curse; the Butlers, easily their best physical asset, were hovering protectively over their charges rather than contributing on the front lines. Meanwhile, golden shields of light had flashed into being around the dwarves still standing their ground.

An instant later those shields vanished, prompting exclamations of surprise. Glory and Rasha were leaning out the door of her carriage, each with a disruptor still aimed.

Six armored women collided with seven dwarves, who would have proved heavy and braced enough to break their charge completely, had they not been running spears-first. Four of the dwarves went down, so thoroughly impaled that in falling they wrenched the weapons from their owners’ grip. The rest reeled backward in disarray.

Rogrind, though, had found a moment to reach into his coat with his weakened left hand. Jasmine could make no sense of the small object he withdrew and held out, but an instant later it produced a puff of smoke, a flash, and an explosive crack just like the one which had sounded before Meesie was felled.

Merry Lang screamed as she was flung backward out of formation, spinning around to land on her side in the snow.

“Not. Another. Step,” Rogrind snarled, twisting to point his mysterious device at Principia.

Another crack sounded, this one a familiar wandshot.

More dwarves, nearly a dozen, paced forward out of the swirling snow, grim-faced and armed. They came from the direction of the road, and several were clearly injured or with disheveled clothing, as if they had limped away from wrecked carriages.

“Where do they keep coming from?” Schwartz muttered, Meesie again perched on his shoulder. He held a fireball in his right palm, balanced to throw.

“I have had enough of this,” Rogrind panted, turning to the others. “You may fire at—”

A blast of wind hurled a wall of snow over him and directly into the faces of the newly arrive dwarves. Two more wands were discharged; the bolts flew wide of the Eserites, though several of them dived to the ground anyway.

Suddenly, as if the wind had been a signal, it stopped snowing. In the absence of the thick fall of flakes, a line of six people were visible, approaching the group from the north. On the left end of their formation was Kuriwa, just now lowering her arms after calming the storm.

In the center, sword in hand, behind a glowing shield of gold, stood Basra Syrinx.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she said with a satisfied little smirk, “I believe you can discern friend from foe? We do not require prisoners. Destroy them.”

“Now, I might be mistaken,” drawled the man on the opposite end of the line from Kuriwa, an older gentleman of Western descent carrying a mage’s staff and smoking a cigarillo. “It wouldn’t be the first time. But I do believe the Sisterhood’s doctrine of war requires a clearly overmatched enemy be offered the chance to surrender?”

Basra gave him an irritated look past Joe, who stood next to her, but nodded. “Yes, in fact I believe you are correct. Very well. Your attention, miscellaneous dwarven rabble! I am Bishop Syrinx, of the Sisterhood of Avei and the Universal Church. With me are my very good friends the Sarasio Kid, Tinker Billie, Gravestone Weaver, Longshot McGraw and Mary the Crow. Ah, good, I see you understand what those names mean.”

The dwaves, indeed, had whirled to direct their aim at Syrinx’s reinforcements, now completely ignoring the Eserites, and even the cold-eyed professionals among them were visibly alarmed. One of their few remaining conscripts appeared to be weeping softly.

“If you do not instantly drop your weapons and surrender,” Basra continued pleasantly, “you will be scoured off the face of the earth with both efficiency and relish. And if, by some unthinkable miracle, you insist upon a firefight and manage to win, be assured that my goddess’s attention is fixed upon these events, and you are meddling in matters you do not understand.” Her eyes flicked rapidly from Principia to Jasmine and then back to Rogrind.

Nandi and Ephanie were both kneeling in the snow beside Merry, who was alive and monotonously cursing despite the crimson stain spreading through the snow around her. Principia had eased backward out of the remains of Squad One’s formation to hover near Jasmine.

“Win here,” Basra said, her voice suddenly as icy as the night air, “and there will be nowhere for you to hide. You may be able to bamboozle Imperial Intelligence, but you are not a match for Avei. If those weapons are not on the ground in the next five seconds, everyone dies.”

“How the hell,” Tallie hissed at Jasmine, “do you know all these people?!”

Jasmine shook her head. “I only know Joe. Guess we should be glad he has friends, too.”

“They…are not surrendering,” Darius muttered.

“Well, this is altogether unfortunate,” Rogrind said with a sigh.

“They’re government intelligence on a sanctioned op,” Grip whispered. “Shit. They can’t be taken alive. Everybody down!”

She was right; the dwarves, in unison, raised their weapons again. Joe, Billie, and Weaver did likewise.

And then the whole earth shook.

He dived down so rapidly they didn’t even hear the wind of his approach until he struck the ground hard enough to knock several of them right off their feet. The whole assemblage turned in unison, gaping in awe up at the enormous blue dragon suddenly standing a bare few yards away from them.

He swiveled his long neck around to lower his angular head directly into their midst, and bared rows of arm-sized teeth in a truly horrifying smile.

“Good evening. Nice night for it, eh?”

“By the way,” Principia said to Jasmine, “in addition to not positioning my squad in that fortress where Syrinx knew we were supposed to be, I took the liberty of calling in some additional reinforcements of my own. I apologize if this disrupts your plans.”

“Ah!” At her voice, the dragon twisted his head around to face her from a few feet away. “Prin, there you are! I must say, you throw the most terrible parties. Why is it, cousin, I only ever see you when people are getting shot in all directions?”

“C-cousin?” Jasmine’s voice jumped an octave in the course of one word and then cracked.

The dragon turned his sapphire eyes on her. “Hmph. That sounded like an exclamation of surprise. Been keeping me a secret, Principia? A less charitable person might think you were embarrassed to be related to me.”

“Well,” Principia said glibly, “I guess a less charitable person might have met you. How is she?” she added, turning away from the dragon.

“I have rarely seen anything like this injury,” Kuriwa replied. Somehow, in the intervening seconds, she had moved from across the battlefield to Merry’s side, and now paused in working on the fallen Legionnaire. “It is not excessively difficult to heal, however. Here. This was lodged in her arm.” She handed a tiny object to Principia, then lifted her head to smile at the dragon. “And hello, Zanzayed. It is a great pleasure to see you again.”

The dragon shifted to stare ominously at her. “Oh. You.”

“Since we are both in the vicinity,” she said calmly, returning her attention to Merry, “I hope you will find time to catch up. We so rarely get to talk anymore.”

He snorted, sending a blast of air over them that was hot enough to make the snow steam and smelled of brimstone and, incongruously, spearmint.

“Well,” Zanzayed huffed, “this has been fun, and all, but I’m just the transportation, here.”

He lowered his body to lie in the snow, revealing for the first time a man in a dark suit perched astride his neck, who had been hidden by the dragon’s wings. Now, he slung his leg over and slid to the ground, where he paused to straighten his coat.

“Uh oh,” Principia muttered, her eyes widening. “I didn’t order that.”

“Good evening,” said Zanzayed’s passenger, striding forward. “I am Lord Quentin Vex, head of Imperial Intelligence. With regard to this matter, I speak for the Emperor.”

He paused to sweep an expressive gaze around them, at the dwarves, the Eserites, the Legionnaires and the adventurers, all of whom had gone silent and still, staring back in alarm.

“His Majesty,” said Vex, raising an eyebrow, “requires a god damned explanation.”

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95 thoughts on “11 – 40

  1. This week I got a donation from a reader who requested that it either count toward the extra chapter tally or I put in a large building exploding with a blocks-wide fallout radius. Now, I generally don’t take requests, having learned my lesson from the Narisian bonus arc. Not that I didn’t end up liking that, and the donors who asked for it were a pure pleasure to work with. It’s just that my creative process does poorly with outside direction. This time, though, it fit so perfectly with what I needed that I couldn’t resist.

    Sorry again about this week’s delay. My back is…different. I’m not sure I can say better because it actually hurts more now, but is debilitating me less; I can sit and write for as long as I need to at a time. Which is the important thing, I guess. And I’m feeling a bit more even-keeled emotionally. I hate being bipolar sometimes. The depression I can cope with, and the hypomanic phases are actually very helpful creatively, but I deeply miss the resilience I had as a teenager before it developed. I used to be completely unflappable. Being knocked off my keel by political news of all things is embarrassing and disheartening.

    Anyway, with regard to that:


    I try to keep things politically neutral around here, but let’s face it, I sort of dropped that facade on the last chapter’s comments. This I’m approaching as a backlash against an outdated and frankly stupid relic in the American democratic system, the Electoral College, which in this case has awarded the presidency to someone who lost the popular vote. That is bullshit. If you’re an American and not a Trump fan, please sign this. I’m assuming very few Trump fans read this serial; we don’t have a lot of finger-pointing at minorities around here, and in fact I’ve been chastised for that by people whose readership I don’t particularly desire.

    Have as good a weekend as you can, everybody. Donation goal has dropped back to its previous level, but don’t worry; thanks to missed chapters we have a guaranteed three more weeks of Friday chapters before donations will be necessary to advance them again. And my thanks to the new Patreon backers who signed up this week!

    Everyone…take care of yourselves. Please.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am not a fan of trump but lumping all trump supporters are racist bigots is part of the problem. Sure some are but there’s extremists and dicks in all groups. So just because you don’t like a candidate you shouldn’t call all their supports bigots cause that’s asinine in itself.


      1. When someone campaigns specifically on a platform of scapegoating minorities to distract from his lack of any qualification for the post, I feel pretty comfortable concluding that bigotry played a role in his supporters’ motivations.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I really don’t think they can take the moral high ground. And he didn’t mention anything about all Trump supporters being racist. But racism is undeniably the biggest part of Trump’s platform and the reason he won.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Not, not all are bigots. But, any who did vote for him are willing to let bigotry slide in preference to screaming defiance at systems they actually need in place to have a chance against the forces actually behind their woes.

        Because naked capitalism with no oversight and patronism? Bad combo. Bad, bad, bad combo. Just ask Italy.

        Liked by 5 people

      4. Not every Trump supporter is a bigot, but every Trump supporter acknowledged that Trump is one, accepted it, and voted for him anyway.

        Liked by 4 people

      5. I didn’t vote for Trump. That being said, it’s not fair to call him a bigot. He’s gotten along fine with people of different skin colors before and led the fight to deracialize Palm Beach with Mar del Lago.

        Yes, he thinks illegal immigrants brought crime. We could have a long discussion about that. Yes he wants to deport Muslims because he’s scarred of jihadists. But I don’t know of anything in his long past which suggests that he treats, say, black people, any worse than he treats white people (which, to be fair, isn’t necessarily all that great).


    2. *sigh* More politics…

      Donald Trump is a liar, a fraud, a bigot, a sexist… he’s selfish, egoistical, ignorant, shortsighted and greedy. The election was a vehicle for him to promote his brand, I don’t even think he planned on winning at first. He picked a strategy that worked, even if he had to give up dignity, honor and common sense for it.
      Everyone knew him for what he was when he became a candidate. His many flaws are obvious and can’t really be excused. Still, he ran a successful campaign with very little money and might even have made a profit doing so.

      Honestly, the entire election was deplorable from both sides. Hillary Clinton isn’t a criminal, she did nothing illegal… but she made mistakes, she took unnecessary risks and her allegiance is not with the people, but with businesses, Wall Street and the political elite in Washington. She had a plan, she had contacts and over time she maybe could have produced results. I’m not sure people would have liked those results much, just look at her foreign policy as Secretary of State.
      Trump has no experience in politics, he’s obviously ignorant of most laws and rules, he burned a lot of bridges during his campaign and it’ll be difficult for him to make any friends in Washington, despite having enabled the Republicans. Donald Trump has no firm stance on any issue, he made some very concerning promises and a few of them he could even realize by repealing President Obama’s executive orders. What he cannot do is start a war, make new laws or change/remove current laws. Executive orders are subject to judicial review, and may be struck down if deemed by the courts to be unsupported by statute or the Constitution. Major policy initiatives require approval by the legislative branch.

      In the end, President is a thankless, frustrating job with not as much power as one might think.

      The election compounded already existing problems and divided the nation even further. Still, a lot of that is just noise made by the media out of greed. The more shocking the news, the higher the ratings, the higher the profit. Social media is even worse, with people posting fake stories about being attacked by Trump voters for being female/muslim/black/mexican … some of them are true but a lot of them were created to get attention. It’s not like you can spot a Trump voter that easily for starters. Not all of them are racist rednecks with a hardon for sexual harassment, I’m sure a lot of people voted for him because they didn’t like Clinton.
      If you look at the popular votes and compare the numbers with previous elections, then you can see that people didn’t like Trump more… they just liked Clinton less. That’s a fact that people need to consider, too. http://i.imgur.com/TOGIbcP.jpg

      I don’t envy the US citizens. If I had to vote, I don’t think I could have voted for anyone. Trump is an asshole, Hillary would get nothing good done and the 3rd party candidates were either clueless, had a dangerous agenda or would have made things even worse.

      Donald Trump won the election and unless 32 electors vote differently than their state, he will be President. The system is broken and needs to be changed badly. What you can not do is try to change now. Imagine Hillary Clinton would have won, would you still ask for the Electoral College to be abolished? I don’t think so.

      Having Donald Trump as POTUS is horrible… but it might be the incentive the US needs to finally catch up to the other 1st world countries and adapt to the times.
      The next 4 years will be painful, but often people need to feel pain before they learn. Evidently the history of 1933-1945 has been forgotten by too many people and the election system in the US doesn’t have any safeguards against demagogues.

      Let’s be fair here. A change has been needed for decades. Electoral college, gerrymandering and all the other bullshit didn’t just appear this week. The US could have changed that at any point in the past, but they didn’t. Now you have the result. Personally I would prevent any person with active lawsuits against them from becoming a candidate, but that could be abused…

      Maybe the electors will vote for Clinton over Trump, maybe not. I wouldn’t get my hopes up, petition or no.
      Right now you can’t change the system just because your candidate lost. It sucks, but she lost for a reason.
      For now, give Donald Trump a chance. Either he’ll turn out to be a decent president (depends on his staff really) or he’ll continue like during the election and find himself impeached very quickly. Or maybe he’ll realize he’s in over his head and resign.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if he failed the requirements because last time he was asked he didn’t even know what a blind trust is and without that… well.

      No matter what happens, this is a wake-up call the US needed. It’s not just the Electoral College that needs to go, the two party system is just as guilty, as is the way too long campaign period. This all could have been done in 3 months, without costing billions of dollars and dividing people.

      (I recommend this youtube channel, lots of very informative and objective videos.)

      The first video also explains why people voted for Trump even if they don’t agree with his views.

      For most people, changes at the top barely make a difference in their daily lives. I doubt that Trump is able to ruin the US easily or quickly. There are ways to keep him in check and those don’t include petitions to make his opponent President. Just calm down and tackle the problems as they appear. There’s no benefit in worrying and fretting now, when nothing has happened yet.

      Sometimes you have to accept shortterm pain to get better longterm. Suffer through the dark ages so the next generation doesn’t have to. Once you have hit rockbottom, the only way is up. (Although, according to John Oliver, we hit rockbottom weeks ago and have been going down further every day.)

      Anyway, my condolences for this huge mess… but in a way, it’s self inflicted. Which is probably the reason it hurts even more. I’m confident the people of the USA will fix it and tackle all the systemic problems in their nation, too. It will take time and a lot of effort and it’s going to be harsh for a few years… but the result will be worth it.
      Or you can continue to blame others, continue to never bother thinking for yourself because the media tells you what you should think and continue to let yourself be led astray by greed.

      Your choice, USA. Hopefully you’ll do better here than on Tuesday.

      Tl;dr: Trump winning is not as bad as it looks, the Electoral College sucks but for now you have to deal with it and abolish it before the next election, Trump is now more constrained in what he can do than ever before and blaming his voters is not going to help. It’s easy to hate, especially when one is afraid… but it’s not productive. Wait and see.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I actually saw a very good graphic (which I am too lazy to reproduce here) that explained why the electoral college exists and is important. It basically boils down to the fact that while Hillary won the popular vote, the people who voted for her were all concentrated into very small areas relative to the rest of the country.

        Set aside your feelings on this election and try to look at that idea from a purely objective point of view. The idea that the leader of the entire country could be decided by what amounts to just L.A and New York is absurd. There are whole swathes of the center of the country who would have their voice drowned out just because that area is less densely populated than a few other areas. The electoral college gives areas like Wyoming or Utah a voice that direct voting most likely wouldn’t.

        So, I don’t really think that getting rid of the electoral college for the next election, or any election, would really be the way to go. I will say, for full disclosure, that I didn’t watch either of the videos posted because I am at work. So if there were counter arguments to my point in them I missed it. That said, nothing I have seen or read about the subject (which, again, wasn’t that much) has given a good alternative that seems fair to people in rural areas.


      2. Okay I don’t normally talk politics but a sticking point for me is people acting like there are only two parties. I liked neither trump nor Hilary, so I picked one of the others that were available. Alot of people say this is throwing my vote away, but I think voting for someone I don’t believe in just because everyone else does is a true waste of vote.


      3. @KageLupus: This is incorrect. (Please find the time to watch the videos when you get home, they explain this so much better than me.)

        The Electoral College exists because at the time it was created, it wasn’t possible to vote directly in every state at the same time and collect the votes in a reasonable time, nor would it have been secure and it wasn’t really possible to visit every state to campaign in the election. This is why every state sends electors to Washington to vote for the president in accordance with their state’s will.

        About your numbers… it’s not wrong but also not correct. One of the videos explains it, this one corrects and explains even more:

        But really, why should a minority in Wyoming get more votes or a louder voice than the majority of US citizens who live somewhere else? You elect the president of the entire country, not a local official.
        At the moment, a vote in Wyoming is worth 4 votes in California. Is that fair? Is that helping anyone or protecting anything? No. It just skews the results.

        Not to mention that the Electoral College ignores ~4.4 million US citizens, because they live in the Territories. Even if you were born in New York, the moment you move to Puerto Rico, you no longer get to vote. All the 6.3 million americans abroad somewhere else in the world still get to, though. Does that make sense?

        Popular vote is the most democratic and fair way to elect the president.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “Even if you were born in New York, the moment you move to Puerto Rico, you no longer get to vote”

        That’s not correct because you can always file for an absentee ballot from your home state, no matter where you live.


      5. @Kellie: You are completely correct, there were other candidates. Too bad that voting for them doesn’t accomplish anything but weakening the major party closest to your political view. This is because you don’t have an alternative vote (as far as I know), also known as transferable vote.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. @Bart Humphries

        Sorry, I didn’t see your comment earlier.

        This is a complicated matter, with lots of laws, executive orders and Surpreme Court rulings. Short version:

        One would assume that this issue would be covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, but it isn’t.

        “The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act has also been challenged in federal court by U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico. Plaintiffs in the case of Igartua de la Rosa v. United States claimed that the Act is unconstitutional because it allows U.S. citizens who move abroad to vote in federal elections, but not if they relocate to Puerto Rico. The challenge was dismissed by the courts.”

        “Moving to Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa or the CNMI does not automatically mean you “lose” the ability to vote for president. In the federal election, if you declared residency in these territories, you would lose your residency in your home state. You would need to register to vote locally.
        Because these territories are not granted electors in the electoral college, they do not vote for president. You’re not losing the right to vote; you’re just residing in a territory with no constitutionally granted electors.”

        Did I mention how broken this system is yet?


      7. I disagree that HRC isn’t a criminal. Any other government employee who’d violated security to that extent would be convicted of treason. There are people who violated it to a much lower standard (taking a selfie in a restricted area, not posted or otherwise transmitted) who are serving 10 years in Leavenworth prison.

        Mishandling classified information, destroying servers that are subpoenaed as part of an investigation, failure to conform to federal data storage schemes. That’s not a mistake, and if it were anyone else would have been tried..


      8. Ben Moore: you are completely wrong. Hillary never transferred classified data to her server, which is an absolute requirement for the only possible clause in the Espionage act that doesn’t require intent… and the courts have already ruled that THAT clause also requires intent in context.

        Also, only one person has ever been even charged on that clause, and he routinely left classified material with his mistress who was a suspected (and, it later turned out, actual) foreign operative. And even THEN he wasn’t convicted of that, but of lying to government agents.

        And on the gripping hand… for what she did, basically the entire Bush administration did on a larger scale, and less securely. They “lost” millions of messages they had stored on an RNC server, and not just personal messages. A few minor people got punished, for a lot less than treason, and the people responsible will never even get a wrist slap.

        Lots of other government employees and officials at the time used private email for non-classified work mail, and not secure private servers but random commercial email services… including Yahoo which is basically a sieve. None of them have been indicted. Nobody’s even suggested it.

        So, you’re wrong two ways. You’re wrong as a matter of law, and you’re wrong that “anyone else” who had “done what she did” would be convicted of treason.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I don’t support changing the electoral college this time around. For future elections, sure, but everyone knew the rules going in, and trying to change them because your candidate lost will only lead to similar shenanigans int he future.


    4. Don’t be so quick to write off half of the population as part of your readership.

      I’m not sure what ‘minorities’ or views on race have to do with anything. Trump’s opposition to illegal immigration has been spun by many in the dinosaur media to be ‘racism,’ but that’s simply “creating the narrative” through deception. Any nation that’s not a failed state (Afghanistan, Somalia, etc) has borders and controls who is allowed to enter, settle, etc. A government that can’t or won’t enforce its own laws is pretty crappy.

      There has been a ton of misinformation from the media throughout the whole campaign. It’s Pauline Kael (“I don’t know anyone who voted for Reagan, how could he win?”) taken to the next level, topped with smugness, condescension, and pure ignorance about legitimate policy & economic differences. The dinosaur media has beclowned themselves as a result of their lack of ideological diversity – they were in the tank for Obama but have been even more obvious about their desire to see Hillary elected, and their hatred of anyone who thinks differently. I suppose you could also blame it on them going through education system that’s also lacking in ideological diversity, and then never being exposed to anything different. Ben Rhodes leading them around by the nose and bragging about it should have been a wake-up call (If you don’t know what I am talking about, look it up. Lazy media).

      I have been a libertarian since reading Harry Browne’s book “Why Government Doesn’t Work” at age 15. This year was the first time I actually voted for the Republican candidate. Trump is flawed (and has a rhetorical style I didn’t understand until reading Scott Adams), but unlike the last four presidential elections I’ve voted in, he seems to actually be willing to take on some of the problems, without being beholden to special interests or the political establishment. E-mail is better suited than WordPress comments to discuss why I voted for Trump – if you want, I’m willing to have that discussion about the policies involved. I don’t see an e-mail address for you, but I think you have mine via commenting here.

      As for Hillary? You wrote up the character of Basra Syrinx. Amoral, self-centered, power-seeking, greedy, and corrupt. The details are different, but neither one is fit to lead a city, let alone a nation.


      1. Fact of the matter is, Trump is officially endorsed by the KKK and has been supported every step of the way by white supremacists, none of whom he made any motion to condemn or even distance himself from. His victory–in an election where nearly half of those eligible to vote stayed home, an election swamped by voter suppression scandal in the wake of the recent gutting of the voter rights act, an election in which he didn’t even win the popular vote–has only validated, whether erroneously or not, the belief of these people that their racist beliefs are indeed held by the “silent majority”.

        I mean, sure, I’m certain that not every Trump supporter believes that Mexicans are rapists and Muslims need to be registered with the government, and that women and people of color need to be put in their place. But it’s definitely given the people who do believe that the audacity to act more aggressively on those beliefs. And those that don’t, at best, never gave a second thought to the fact that their candidate was endorsed by the KKK.

        Also, as a psychologist: for all her shortcomings, Hillary Clinton is definitely not a sociopath.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. “Fact of the matter is, Trump is officially endorsed by the KKK and has been supported every step of the way by white supremacists, none of whom he made any motion to condemn or even distance himself from.”

        I didn’t vote for Trump. That being said, to be fair, nobody has any real control over who they’re endorsed by. Trump has lots of pictures of him hanging out and having fun with black celebrities over the years. He was the first to break the color-rule with Mar-a-Lago and fought a bitter fight against the racist old guard in Palm Beach over that. Yes, he wants to kick out the Muslims, and no I don’t, I think that’s wrong. Yes, he wants to build a wall and stop illegal immigration and no I don’t, although I grew up in Southern CA and I’m very familiar with how much crime there is in some border areas because of the border. But to go from there to “Trump hates blacks” has just been poor journalism.


      3. @Bart:
        Hey, I grew up in SoCal too! Carmel Valley area in San Diego. Nice place to grow up, but it got to be too warm and dry for me as I got older.

        True, Trump doesn’t have control over who endorses him. But he does have control over his rhetoric, and that certainly did nothing to discourage those people. Take America back? From whom? I assume that ostensibly refers to corrupt, disconnected politicians. But the fact that the sitting president for the past eight years has been a black man; and in the context of all the deportation, wall-building, and pussy-grabbing… that has another reading, a very, very easy one to make. One that a lot of people have eagerly made.

        The President is a symbol as much as a statesman, and Donald Trump is woefully under-qualified as the latter, and deeply alarming as the former. Politicians, more so than any other public figure, have a responsibility to be mindful of the potential consequences of what they say. Does Trump hate blacks? Honestly, I have no idea. On a personal level, I’m rather inclined to think he just doesn’t particularly care. But the KKK does, the racists and white nationalists do, and Trump’s whirlwind campaign has whipped them up into a frenzy, made them feel vindicated and powerful, all because this man parroting what sounds to them like favorable rhetoric.

        I mean–alright, some people say the hyperbolic, fascist-flavored things Trump says couldn’t possibly be things he believes, in light of his personal friendships and past actions. Maybe, I don’t know. But if so, he’s parroting lies–dangerous, damaging lies–in the pursuit of power, which makes him no better than the fork-tongued political establishment he claims to be opposing. If not–well… then he actually believes those things. Which is better?

        Liked by 2 people

    5. I went through a lot of effort to avoid becoming emotionally invested in this election and it’s finally paying off.

      I spent most of the Bush years being depressed and worried about things I couldn’t control. Things got better when I figured out how to distance myself from the cruel reality.

      Try to avoid news sources with a strong emotional component. Watch less and read more. Take your politics in small doses and space it out with cool science facts, mindless entertainment, or pictures of cute animals as needed.

      The 24h News channels exist to engage viewers and sell advertising space, not to inform and educate the public. They don’t have enough actual news to fill all their time slots so they tend to rely on repetition, emotional and opinionated commentary, and miscellaneous bullshit to keep audiences hooked. Having that shit hammered into your ears for hours on end will take its toll on you.

      Text based news sources are less emotionally taxing since you can read at your own pace and it’s harder (but not impossible) for someone to manipulate your emotions without you noticing. The BBC is a good source of bland and boring world news and you can pretend you’re British and America’s problems are far far away.

      Don’t argue with people on the internet unless you hate yourself. If you do hate yourself, try to keep the moral high ground and be as polite and diplomatic (not condescending) as possible. You probably won’t convince the [s]stupid jerk[/s] person you are arguing with but maybe someone in the audience will take note. More importantly, taking a deep breath and calming down before you hit post will help you keep your shit together and is a good policy for life in general.

      Lastly, vote in every election (not just the big ones) and do what you can to change the world for the better. Don’t get caught up worrying about the things you can’t change.

      Liked by 1 person

    6. I hope you will get better soon, Webb! Magnificient work on this chapter!

      I actually had to read this twice, the first time I was somewhat giddy with all the things that happened… Now, analysis:

      That escalated quickly.
      It seems to me that this chapter is not only a fulminant high-point for this particular arc, but rather it ties in several previous books – lets look at the factions involved, here:

      The Emperor (personally) and the Empire – for obvious reasons (fortresses exploding) and less obvious (Imperial Intelligence).

      The Conclave – Zanzayed, who was apparently happy to provide transport for Vex after being called up by Prin on a “family affair”, that seems to indicate the Conclave and the Empire are still very much snuggling after that whole Anti-Dragon-Movement thing.

      The Universal Church – Basra, and generally due to the two cults that are heavily involved

      Darling (yes he gets to be his own faction) – the Eserites are up to their neck in this, especially Jasmine is a Sweet-sanctioned project, and his little band of adventurers did surely not show up without him knowing, I get quite the feeling that he might be very close, whiel staying in the background

      The Cult of Eserion – Grip, Glory, Webs, Keys, the apprentices, etc

      The Sisterhood of Avei – Trissiny, Principia’s Squad, Basra – and Avei herself, according to Basra, but lets count her in here

      The Crowbloods – Mary herself, Zanzayed, Principia, Trissiny

      Arachne – indirectly, but Weaver is on the scene, and Trissiny is as far as I know still technically a student at the University, thus under Tellwyrns protection (aka disintegrating people)

      So, this is the big guns. I did not count the Cult of Salyrene, Layla/Darius’ family and Glory’s associates/people who owe her favours into this, as they seem to be too far removed from the scene to influence much.
      Well, the dwarfes are fucked. But that doesn’t even seem to be in question, what I am far more curious about is how all the other conflicting interests/old and new grudges/history is going to play out – Basra and Darling, Basra and Principia, Basra and Schwartz, Basra and Trissiny, Zanzayed and Mary, Zanzayed and Arachne (?), the Eserites and the Sisterhood, the Cults and the Church, the Cults and the Empire, Mary and the Empire (she is a persona non grata/kill on sight, allthough Vex might not give a damn and the only one who could keep her from leaving seems to be Zanza, who will probably not be inclined to do so, but still). This is going to be fun.

      I think a big question is going to be who blew up the building – from the description and the fact that there was a bit of time between the explosion and the fallout, the explosion was big enough to cause *significant* interest on the Empire’s side, conventional explosives don’t usually cause a football-field-sized area of fortification to disperse in the atmosphere. I guess a mag-cannon could do something like this, or as schwartz said, major magics. Since Arachne doesn’t *seem* to be around, and the attack was apparently targeted against some of our protagonists (either the Eserites, or Prin) I am somewhat at a loss regarding culprits – Prin seems to suspect Basra, but it would be a *very* desperate play, I kind of doubt that – she is ruthless, but a move like that would be plain suicidal. Very much looking forawrd to the next chapter.

      Apart from the above, some observations:
      Guns, huh? Considering the prevalence of archery among elves, I assume most casters have a way to protect against kinetics, so unless things are far more sophisticated than what we have seen, I rather doubt those will have such a big impact (pun intended) as they have in other universes.

      Schwartz has become kind of a badass, hasn’t he? Comparing his wand-disabling, firerat-throwing, “wearing-sunglasses-at-night-walking-away-from-explosions” ways to the overwhelmed academic that Basra dragged out of his library, wow. Falling for Jenell made him *hot*

      Prin goes mama bear over trissiny, I really hope the two manage to patch things up further, they kind of make a great team.

      Also, I demand a crowblood family reunion/granny mary’s birthday omake. or canon.

      Seriously, what a great chapter.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You know, my immediate thought was that Darling tipped off Vex, rather than Zanza. Considering Darling has been involved in this from the start–he was the one who tipped off the sisterhood about the weapons in the first place–I’ve been waiting for him to make a more overt play.

        Also, it’s amusing to imagine. “you going to the thing?” “Yeah, why?” “Can I bum a ride?”

        … probably not in so many words, though, vex is much better spoken than that

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Hmmm. “Nana Mary” — why do I foresee some poor fool getting banged on all four walls, the ceiling and floor should any Crowblood over the age of six come out with that to her face? 😛


      3. I am so glad that someone besides me would also like to see the Crowbloods have a big reunion, I have been yearning for that since the chapter where Zanza’s ancestry was revealed. Just imagine, tons of elves with some dozen half elves (can half elves only come from humans and elves or can the other races also couple with elves?) and one (or perhaps more?!) dragon all partying it up. Or fighting it out. Or whatever else the crowbloods would do at a family gathering. With a group photo at the end of course.😊

        As to the guns, well, that depends on. We have to remember that magic shields can only take so much kinetic force and that there is a difference between shielding from physical objects, “energy” attacks (fire, electricity etc) to magical attacks. Not to mention that you can probably enchant the bullets, which is worrying since they live in an era in which mass producing enchanted bullets would not be that hard. In other words, strike teams could be outfitted with guns and bullets that have been enchanted by one of the 4 schools, making the casters job a whole lot easier (a good tactic would be to conjure up a big amount of water or anything really, and spray the opponents down with it, destabilising their shields and allowing the enchanted bullets to penetrate after some shots).
        Oh, also. Mithril bullets. Which would not only bypass all magical defences a person has. But could also be used to seriously injure magical creatures, and impede them from using their magic. If not outright kill them at once.
        Not to sure what kinds of enchantments would be useful on the gun itself. But a silencing charm could be useful, especially if you are an assassin and want to avoid making any noise.
        This could be a game changer, unless I’m overanalysing things 😅

        I approve of Schwartz changing from Adorkable, Geeky, Kind of Cute to Adorkable, Geeky, Hella Cool.

        Thanks for this amazing chapter Webb and I hope you’ll get better soon!😄

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Most people use shielding charms designed to absorb the lightning/magic from wands. They can still be hit by projectiles, they have no protection from them.
        Priests and mages use personal shields that block kinetic energy, stopping melee weapons and arrows from penetrating. A 9mm bullet has roughly as much energy as a punch with your fist. I imagine a shield would hold out for quite some time before you could break through with simple punches.
        That means, pistols aren’t a big deal for paladins, priest, mages and whoever else can shield themselves. This changes the moment someone employs a machinegun though which would use a higher caliber (and thus transfer more kinetic energy with each bullet) and a significantly higher rate of fire (depleting the shield that much faster).

        I still wouldn’t be worried. We know that you can wear bullet-resistant gear and I’m sure some mage will quickly figure out a spell that redirects fast flying pieces of metal.

        Mithril bullets sound like a great idea… but isn’t that stuff rare and expensive? I could see an adventurer like Joe having a dozen special bullets but the military? Not really.

        In a world where magic is so prevalent, where people can throw fireballs and lightning, where wounds can be healed in seconds, guns aren’t as important as they are here.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yeah you’re probably right, as far as we know guns might’ve already been invented hundred years ago in the bastardsverse and the one Rogrind uses might be an old family heirloom 😂😅

        This is mostly ramblings really but writing about mithril, made me realise we know very little about it. Who created it, and for what purpose? It was probably the Elders but why would they create this substance? What need could possible have caused the creation of it? And is it so rare because the Elders feared it could be used against them? Why not just destroy it all? Will be interesting to find out 😊

        (Maybe there is a way to artificially create mithril? (Rafe has probably already figured that out if so)


  2. Awesome chapter… and lots of funny moments. The Crowbloods all meet at last. 😀

    So, the dwarves have actual guns. That means they can bypass shield charms that everyone else is using. Of course, a proper shield like Trissiny’s would still stop a bullet… but not in infinity.

    Prin emphasized that Basra knew the location of her squad and changed her plans because of it. Seriously, is Basra really that bloodthirsty and stupid? If she really was behind it, then she just committed suicide by paladin/goddess/headhunter, because that action would cost her the protection she had so far.

    Vex appearing took everyone by surprise, even me. I wonder if they had a deal with the dwarves or if those simply hoped to avoid attention long enough to be gone before someone asked questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wait wait! As I mentioned last chapter there’s still a crowblood named Raea? Turns into a panther? Not sure how shes part of the family but she’s about as related as Zanza I’m guessing.


      1. There are probably dozens of others, most of which live in an elven grove somewhere, like Lanaera does. Raea is another shaman, not sure if she belongs to an elven community or is an adventurer.
        What I meant is… Principia, Trissiny, Mary and Zanzayed have all been in Tiraas the entire time but now is the first time they all meet. Trissiny didn’t even know about her dragon cousin. Loved her reaction btw. 😉

        Liked by 3 people

    2. She probably has fully credible alibi and degree(s) of separation distancing herself from her probable culpability in the bombing.


  3. Webb this went to pieces in the most glorious way. I love your writing. Jasmine, is getting an assist from three family members, a teacher/librarian, and a friend even when she didn’t plan for it. Basra…is being Basra, we have new dwarf tech and Vex stands to snark through the whole thing. Please rest up and keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I absolutely loved the way this kept escalating. I laughed out loud in glee when Zanzayed showed up, and Vex caught me by comlete surprise.

    Well done, and thank you for the chapter.

    As a sidenote, this is your baby, your crowd, your users, and you can be as political as you want to. Facing your fears and striving to change the situation is good.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Yes! Oh my, yes!

    You’ve said before that you don’t generally like cliffhangers, but I have to tell you that you write them so very, very well. It made for an incredible climax; I felt satisfied by the outcome and raring for more at the same time. Honestly, it feels like less of a cliffhanger and more of a chapter break in some of the better written books I’ve read. The kind of books that keep you reading until WAY past your bedtime, devouring page after page before collapsing in a happy daze.
    You are definitely one of my favorite authors. I wish only that I had physical copies of your writing on my shelves.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m just wondering which came as the worst surprise to the dwarves; Mary, Zanza or Vex? And, when they find out who Jasmine actually is (beyond being related to both Mary, Zanza and Prin)… XD


    Liked by 1 person

    1. They were either willing to die to protect the mission, or the consequences of failure were worse than death. Depending on which, Vex or Zanzayed would be worse.


    2. I feel like Zanza is. I can’t see anyone expecting to see a dragon showing up to help their opponents.


  7. Hah, and just imagine how Layla would feel after this! She went there with the plan to bring back a rogue brother, and instead of that she got into a car chase, wand fights, met quite a lot of interesting people like Eserites, adventurers, dragons, even The Godsdamned Head of Imperial Intelligence.
    I can’t even imagine how would she be able to just say goodbye and go back to her “normal” life after this little adventure 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ross had a mini-monologue earlier this book as to why goddamn is more widespread than godsdamn, suffice to say it is the more common form.


  8. @webb i don’ think you know what you are asking for with that petetion. Would you support it if the situation was reversed? I sincerely doubt it. And have you even considered for a second what happens if this goes trough and the electoral college votes for hillary? Have you even considered what such an outcome would mean for the state of this country? I dislike trump too, but i do think you dropped the ball on this one.


    1. She narrowly won the popular vote and this is the fifth time in your history the EC and the popular vote have clashed. That’s a roughly 10% error rate.

      At the very least, your political systems need overhauling. But, that’s unlikely to happen. The status quo benefits the GOP, and they’ll fight any and all attempts at reform.

      Also voting reform? Not a very sexy platform. <_<


      1. 7%.

        If you only take the elections since 2000 or so, it’s 40% though.

        While I believe Donald Trump shouldn’t win because of an outdated and broken system, I also don’t think Hillary Clinton should get the win instead. Neither of them reached a majority and voter participation was less than 50%, too. They basically had the same result, which says a lot about both candidates. The only difference are the electoral votes and those are bullshit.

        Abolishing the Electoral College isn’t enough. You need to change the entire election process.


  9. Gravestone, Tinker Billie, Principia, and Jasmine Trissiny all in one place? Holleee sheeet. We got us a poker game!


  10. Now, normally I love your work, this entire journey has been a real delight. That being said, this whole thieves guild arc is probably my least favourite for various reasons.

    But seeing the cavalry roll in and completely bring those damned dwarves to a halt was so friggin satisfying that all this mucking around with clumsy apprentices and no word of our old crews was totally worth it.

    This was the best chapter in a long time!


  11. I would bow low and gently point my hands in the direction of Glory, indicating that she should speak for me. I think she could put the best face/spin on everything.


  12. I’ve mostly withdrawn from social media. I don’t know if it’s a timing thing, or just the make up of these commentators, but this is the first time I feel like I can say something about this election without becoming exhausted. This election was keenly depressing to me for a variety of reasons (long story short she’s a very qualified woman who was punished harshly for transgressions that didn’t seem to match up to her male opponent, and lost because of it. That’s…..that’s reflected a little too well in my own life right now for me to feel neutral about it).

    I’ll say this. I grew up in a conservative Christian household, and went to a conservative Christian college, and still consider myself a Christian, am currently a graduate student in physics, which has given me a…decent (sometimes depressing) perspective on some pretty opposed groups of people on a variety of issues. I understand the feeling of your group getting misrepresented in media by a bunch of loudly screaming bigots while you feel like most of the folks you know who hold to your ideals are nothing like that, and you’re sick of being painted with the same brush.

    The thing is, that’s just true on both sides of the aisle, and there’s a lot of problems with communication there that aren’t going away any time soon.

    What matters right now is: there are people who are honestly scared for their lives and rights right now. Claiming they’re overwrought and overreacting isn’t helpful, and nothing they–well, we–haven’t heard before. Don’t do it.

    The rhetoric of this election exposed some ugly elements, and even if you’re not one of them, some Trump supporters are, and no one knows yet if Trump will follow through on some of his more (hopefully) rhetorical seeming promises.

    People are scared, and that’s not a particularly gracious, helpful, or even smart thing to laugh about.

    Also it’d be really helpful if certain people stop saying “it’s going to be ok.” The people I see saying that most often are the people who aren’t really at risk (according to the rhetoric) in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That said, I like this chapter! It was a fun break, and I love the crescendos in your work, Webb. They’re incredibly fun to get swept up in and while eagerly looking forward to the next part to unfolding


    2. No one is laughing about this.

      The reason why people from all over the world are chiming in here is that US presidential elections affect everyone. Sure, over here in Germany I won’t feel the brunt of it but there are still consequences.
      Trump said he’s against Free Trade agreements, this could lead to economic trouble and lots of people losing their jobs. The USA are the biggest export market for Germany after all and without Free Trade, well… ouch.
      Trump spoke out against the NATO. We might not like it, but right now most of Europe depends on the US military to defend them against external threats. If the US pulls out, NATO becomes an ineffectual joke and all the european countries have to increase their own military, for which most don’t have the money. Again… ouch.
      The diplomatic relations between the US and Germany are strained right now because Trump insulted our chancellor and our country several times and in return prominent politicians on our side spoke out against him. Which makes the coming year seriously awkward concerning foreign policy. Which again, is very important to Germany since we’re the 2nd largest export nation on the planet.

      I’m fully aware of the direct consequences to the american people and I’ve read about the experiences of minorities right after the election. Not to put too fine a point on it, but nothing really changed. People didn’t become racist, sexist or whatever-ist because Trump got elected, they already were. They were harassing and discriminating people before, too. Maybe a few feel more brave now but that’s them being stupid, since … nothing has changed yet.
      One thing I did notice is that how many of the stories shared on social media are fake though. This is just manipulative and divisive… and it creates doubt when real crimes are commited.
      Those are systemic problems and they’ve existed for decades. Trump’s election may shine a light on it, but no one can claim surprise that stuff exists.

      No one is better than another. Both sides are equally at fault for the current situation. Because it didn’t just start last year, it’s been ongoing for a long time.

      Last but not least… the world isn’t in a good place right now. The Near and Middle East are on fire and that affects a lot of people. Not to mention Afghanistan and all the other hot spots all over the globe.
      There’s a trend in Europe for (extreme) right-wing parties getting into power and if you know history, that’s very alarming. Those parties run on platforms very similiar to Trump’s, which means we’re being slammed with racist and discriminatory rhetoric from that side, too.

      Hate only breeds more hate. Being uncertain and scared can lead to hate, because it’s easier to reject scary things than learning about them and adapting to them.
      What I see from Clinton voters in the US right now isn’t helping. Protests against a legal election? Riots? That’s not helping your cause. It’s blaming others instead of looking at yourself to find out what went wrong. Trump didn’t win because people like him so much, he won because Clinton is disliked more than previous democratic candidates (mostly not her fault but the result of the campaign against her).

      Btw… it might seem weird to you that foreigners discuss your political system and you may think we believe ourselves to be better, more educated or something. That’s not the case. I wish we were, but I just have to read the comments on some german news sites to see that the people of my country aren’t any better. Same rhetoric, same flawed arguments, same racist/sexist comments.
      Put in the same situation as the americans, the german people would vote exactly the same. Which really concerns me since our elections are in less than a year and, as previously mentioned, right-wing populism is on the rise.

      What happened in the US might happen again in Europe. France might vote for Marine Le Pen/Front National, Germany might vote for Frauke Petry/AfD… Poland, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Slovakia, Czech Republic… everywhere you look, you see these parties gaining power, by preying on the fears of the people, by feeding the hate, by creating doubt in the establishment and democracy.

      No one is laughing. We’re watching closely to see how the US deals with it, because in a year, we might have to struggle with the exact same situation.

      It is going to be okay though. Longterm, anyway. That’s just math and social science. In 20 years we’ll all be better off than we are today. Or maybe in 30, or 50. That doesn’t change the fact that the next 4-5 years are most likely going to suck hard but it’s a silver lining on the horizon.

      It’s easy to give in to despair and lose all hope but doing so means giving up completely. Yes, it’s difficult to change anything on your own… but we’re not alone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That….wasn’t actually directed at non-US citizens at all, huh. I’m in science, and work with a lot of foreign nationals, and we’ve had lots of lively, healthy, helpful discussions about the various problems plaguing countries right now, and the examples of Brexit and Austria, among….many others (like you say, Germany.) had me entirely worried, apparently justifiably, that we’d see a repeat here. So….I sincerely wish you best of luck with that. And, no, that wasn’t….a poke at that type of comment? I can see how without that context it might seem like a defensive reaction to outside critique. Heck it wasn’t a poke at anyone in particular, but it’s a behavior I’ve seen and I’d be really, really surprised if commenters here haven’t seen friends acquaintances of their own perpetuate that same kind of dismissal–the gleeful, mocking, dismissive laughter. (Hell, had it directed at me by complete strangers for the first time! Sexist, ugly remarks too by people I’ve never met before and wasn’t talking to! Twitter is a new fun thing I’m trying. I think I’m done.)

        And again. It’s not that people are unaware it’s going to be ok. But rushing to say so right now, and especially focusing on the long term? Maybe comes across as a bit callous to those who might have to pay a more immediate price. It’s going to be ok, but my recently married gay friends are honestly in a crisis right now, depressed, their joy turned to ash, because they are completely worried, justifiably or not, that their new marriage is going to get taken away. I don’t think they need to hear “it’s going to be ok.” Or worse, “Eh, don’t worry about it, you’re getting yourself overwrought over nothing. It’ll be fine! Not that I’m in any way threatened or have anything to lose, but, your sadness irritates me and I want it to stop.”

        I think they need to hear “I’m with you, I’ll fight with you, I’ll be there for you, I care about you.”


      2. Agreed, laughing at the misery of others is a dick move.

        Even Trump managed to be a gracious winner who immediately stopped his rhetoric towards Clinton. Wish his voters were capable of the same.

        I get that people are afraid right now but just worrying isn’t going to help. Personally I don’t think there will be a lot of changes, because the President simply doesn’t have that much power, no matter what they promise during their campaigns.
        I’m not a touchy-feely guy, I’m not good with emotional support but that doesn’t mean I don’t have empathy. It’s just that the reality, if you look at it rationally, is not as bad as your worst fears right now. I believe if people stuck to the facts, then they wouldn’t have to worry as much. It’s the difference between having to pay a $200,000 fine and a $200 fine. The first is a catastrophy that will ruin your life unless a miracle happens, the second is unpleasant and will be a pain to deal with it shortterm but after that you’ll be okay.

        In situations like these I make a list of things that could happen and how likely they are. Then I look for solutions and prepare myself. After I’ve done all I can, I no longer worry (much).
        Right now many people deal with uncertainty, because they have no idea what’s coming next. In their place I’d like to be told that it’s going to be okay because Trump can’t do all that much to affect my life directly.

        Knowledge is one of the best weapons against fear and it’s never been easier to arm yourself with it. That is what I want to promote with my comments. I still acknowledge that people are worried and that emotions don’t care about rational facts but after a day or two it’s time to be productive again.
        I imagine hearing that Trump can’t repeal gay marriage would be a relief.

        Trump can’t repeal same sex marriage, he can’t ban abortions, he can’t remove Obamacare. For almost everything he tries, he either needs the Supreme Court or Congress and even in the few areas where he has authority, like immigration, his decisions can be fought in court.

        Worrying is fine, but I’d prefer if people were worried about actual problems and not about assumptions. I care, and my way to help is by providing knowledge and context. If that’s callous, okay. I’ll wear that label then.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree with you; except on one thing. While the presidential powers are limited, the republicans now have a majority in both the senate and the house. Trump will also be appointing the new justice to the surpreme court. And there are currently 3 justices aged 80+ iirc, so chances are that he gets to appoint a few more. So this could indeed lead to quite a few laws, decisions and surpreme court rulings being overturned in the long run – and not necessarily for the better. But we’ll see. And like you said, we here on the other side of the pond aren’t going to bear the brunt of it. We go on and hope for the best; and maybe try to get our own countries sorted out.


      4. Eh, Congress won’t remove Obamacare without presenting an alternative to 20 million people without healthcare, the judges are mostly republican already and are unlikely to repeal same-sex marriage even if their composition changes and for the rest… I believe Trump is far more moderate/liberal than most Republican like, so he won’t be as radical as he promised and at the same time won’t have much support from his party.

        If Trump is clever, then his first action as President will be an election reform. It’s something both sides would support currently, to prevent another him. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You severely overestimate how much Congress in general and the GOP in particular cares about the state of the average American citizen.

        And Trump is anything but clever.


  13. Interesting to see the author being against Trump when he is even more racist. Read the stated canon on Demons and you see how perfectly it fits with racist attitudes against immigrants. It’s pretty obvious what the message is: People from poorer worlds trying to achieve a better life are all criminals and rapists.


  14. People need to stop saying this is just politics. People need to stop saying it’s going to be okay. Neither of those is the case.

    The fact that a fully Republican government has been elected is just politics, however disastrous it is for everyone in an even slightly vulnerable position in society, which is most of us. Their stated plans include the obliteration of health care, de-funding any and all social programs they can, de-regulating everything so that their corporate paymasters have free reign, destroying the environment, attacking public education, abusing minorities, wiping out any protections for women’s health… If you’re not white, wealthy, Protestant, and either straight or willing to stay rigidly closeted, a Republican government is going to hurt you. A lot. But, none of that is new, and the pendulum swings both ways. Governments come and go, and the populace getting sick of one party’s screwups always results in the other coming back into power eventually. That’s business as usual.

    And yet, there are riots in multiple cities. This is entirely without precedent in the United States. We don’t riot over presidential elections; that’s simply not how we conduct ourselves. Conservatives didn’t protest or revolt in 2008 when Obama won the election, though they absolutely loathed him. More to the point, progressives didn’t riot in 2000 when George W. Bush was given the office under questionable circumstances in which the only indisputable fact was that he lost the popular vote. That’s just politics.

    This is something different.

    The issue is not that Donald Trump is personally a bigot. While he is definitely a raging misogynist, an analysis of his personal life doesn’t suggest any personal racism. His personal feelings are not relevant because he has shown himself willing to drum up support with explicitly racist dogwhistle tactics. He points at Mexicans, at Muslims, at Black Lives Matter, at any group too small and disempowered to defend itself, in order to rally his base. Then, then, and this is much more important, he has shown himself willing to further rally them by deliberately inciting violence. He has goaded his followers to assault protesters. His own campaign manager assaulted a reporter. He called for gun rights activists to assassinate his opponent. And he has done these things for the same reason he’s done everything else: not because he hates these people, but because he cares about nothing but himself, and these tactics got him the results he wanted.

    What, exactly, do you think is going to change once he’s President?

    Trump is the first President elect in history to be in the White House prematurely so that he can be shown the basics of how to do the job. He is job-shadowing Obama because he has zero political experience. He hasn’t the faintest idea what he’s doing. What kind of job do you think he will do?

    And when he starts failing, starts producing no results, starts blithely signing into law every measure a Republican Congress throws at him to strip civil liberties and siphon resources away from the people to the super-rich, which is the core of their platform, people will complain. People will protest. His approval rating will plummet.

    And then he will go back to doing what got him results: scapegoating minorities, inciting violence. This time, with the full power of the Presidency behind him.

    This is not politics as usual. This is nothing less than the rise of fascism in the United States.

    People are rioting because they are terrified. Because the results of this election put millions of people in immediate physical danger. Donald Trump may or may not try to assemble an authoritarian government of his own; if he tries, he may or may not succeed. But he will use the powers of his position to silence and attack anyone who criticizes him, as he has always done throughout his entire career. He will incite violence and direct it at the most vulnerable members of society to deflect attention from his utter lack of qualification to be where he is and manifest incompetence in the execution of his duties, as he has done throughout his campaign.

    People are going to die.

    Take this seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deny it all you want. It’s pretty clear what you think about immigrants after Trissiny’s racist rant back in the crawl. The only one of her rants that was clearly meant to be taken as fact. Here let me quote some of it:

      “The demons don’t come for us with rampaging hordes and fire from the skies. They come with pretty faces and kind smiles, with nice words and very reasonable offers of trade. They find common ground, stay polite, act forgiving and fair-minded, and when you give them an inch, they start in with the hints about how unfair it is that they’re so ill-treated just for being what they are. One little step after another, until you’re riddled with cancer because you got suckered into channeling powers your body isn’t designed to contain, and you’ve opened all manner of portals for all their equally harmless friends to come through. All because you stopped to chat with a poor, mistreated, lonely figure who was nice you to, and fair, and reasonable. Does any of this sound extremely familiar to anyone?”

      “They wiggle in, the persuade, seduce, and corrupt, and when they’ve got enough power to do so, they destroy. That’s why every established nation, religion and organization of any kind immediately greets a demon with outright violence.

      Replace the word “demon” with any racial group and you basically have something that’s lifted straight from stormfront.


      1. There was an entire arc of this story in which Trissiny, among others, sided with a group of actual immigrants, as opposed to metaphors for immigrants such as you’re conjuring here, to protect them from abuse by prejudiced authorities.

        Given the plethora of different viewpoints in this story, it beggars belief that you actually think I was using Trissiny in that one instance as a mouthpiece for my own views, especially as she has been established throughout the story (and particularly in the specific arc you reference) as a prejudiced and hidebound person. The main thrust of her character growth has been getting over these faults. None of this is vague, or even subtle.

        Using this to call me racist is a purely desperate act by someone scrounging for evidence that I’m racist in the utter absence of any. It is disingenuous and malicious, and you are an asshole.

        Fuck off. Fuck all the way off. Do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred doubloons. Fuck directly off.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. look webb, please do yourself a favour, and take a day or two off from the internet. I think right now you are in an panic mode and creating some sort of panic cyle were you see everything getting worse and worse and ignore evidence otherwise. It obviously does not help, when you are already very emotional liable.

      And when you have done that, feel free to read my comment. Thank you.

      As for the rest of your comment, look there is no denying a republican majority in both houses could end up being pretty bad, you are right. We will have to wait and see what happens..

      What you seem to be missing his the state of the american public right. The country is heavily devided and both sides were influcend heavily by scare tactics and only reading sources that confirm to their worldview. If X wins, we are doomed. Do you really think you would not have riots of Hillary had won? i can gurantee you, you would have riots then too. They might actually been even worse, because the right wing nut jobs are heavily armed, and actually now how to use them.

      “Because the results of this election put millions of people in immediate physical danger”

      How exactlyy is anyone in immediate phsycial danger? The state of america is goverened by laws and as of right now, the law enforcment still is in control of the situation. Who is going to threaten them? What exactly has changed between before and after the election? Donald trump won the election. Thats what happened, and not a lot more. There will be plenty of time to panic, but right now is quite too premature.


      1. There’s already been an upsurge in hate crimes. See my comment above for why this is directly connected to Trump and is likely going to grow progressively worse over the course of his presidency.


      2. “There’s already been an upsurge in hate crimes.”

        To be fair, there’s been an upsurge in multiple types of crime, perpetuated by people ostensibly on both sides of the debate. And I think the number of people engaging in actual assault, battery, vandalism, etc., during the riots has been higher than the number of people who have suddenly stated grabbing women by the crotch, etc. I’m just saying that there’s plenty of blame to go around.


    3. If Trump had behaved like that in Germany, he would have been arrested. Seriously, we have a law that makes an exception for Free Speech, called “incitement to hatred” and a lot of Trump’s rhetoric qualifies for that.
      There are clear parallels to the demagogues of the 1930’s and this is frightening.

      I hope for the best (a deeply divided government that won’t push through any major changes and will keep to the status quo) while you fear the worst… I guess reality will be somewhere in between. We don’t know yet.

      I guess the question here is… how much do you trust the republicans in the senate and congress to be decent people who won’t go along with Trump’s ideas even when it would get them more power?
      If they were intelligent, they’d block him completely in anything he wants to do because even if they help him… the more power he gets, the less he will need them.
      Of course, there’s still the issue of the republicans themselves doing things that could harm people.

      Btw… I have no idea where that Richard guy is coming from, even if you stretch things to the breaking point there is no connection between demons and immigrants. That’s stupid.


    4. “Their stated plans include the obliteration of health care”

      Again, let me preemptively state that I didn’t vote for Trump. No, their stated plans do not include the obliteration of health care. It involves redoing how insurance is done. The current plan isn’t stable long term — it involved getting a whole bunch of young healthy people who would help balance out older sicker people, but one important facet was missed. Young people, by and large, aren’t really making much money. They aren’t buying cars because they can’t afford them. They’re living with their parents into their 30’s because they can’t afford to move out. And now we’ve seen our old health plans rise markedly because of the new system, which is inherently unsustainable. That has to change. So no, they don’t want to destroy health care, they want to restore the ability of most people to be able to afford that health care, somehow.

      The rest of your post is similarly hyperbolic. Exaggeration for effect. Are there things wrong with Trump’s platforms? Of course. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world as we know it.

      And people being in terror because of hyperbolic posts like this one doesn’t in any way equate to rioting being ok. What do those idiots think will happen from their rioting? What sort of change do they want to see, and do they really want to set the precedent that people running around breaking stuff will cause anyone to overturn any regular laws that are already in effect? No, that would be stupid. Note, I’m not saying that you’re stupid, I’m saying that even if their rioting caused some sort of good effect (which it’s not going to), that would be a terrible precedent to set.


  15. A/N: And here we have the remnants of a bored fool who thought trolling an author on said author’s own website where said author has editorial control was a thing he could do. He was, needless to say, mistaken.


    1. All right, well, there’s no real way to tell whether you’re trolling me or are just a hateful idiot, but in either case your input has no value and any further commentary from you will be summarily deleted.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. A lot of his supporters just really hate Hillary Clinton. There’s a lot of nasty stuff floating around her like her incompetent way of handling Benghazi, her email scandal, her charity accepting large money from Saudi Arabia in a very suspicious way, her support of a no fly zone in Syria which could lead to increased tensions in Syria, and probably a few other things. I actually support Clinton of Trump, but don’t demonify and categorize all Trump supporters together- a major theme of TGaB is that all sides have their points and very few people are flat out evil. You can make a point that Trump is one of those few people that are flat out evil if you want, but a lot of people see Clinton as flat out evil and that’s why they support Trump, not because they are flat out evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, I don’t think anyone is flat out evil. Neither Trump nor Clinton, and they’re both fairly horrible people.

      My issue with Trump’s supporters is not that they’re all racists who seek to do violence, because I have talked to enough to know that isn’t true. It’s that they’re willing to accept racism and violence to get their way. Trump promised and promoted this; he will deliver it. Those who voted for him consider it acceptable. I do not.

      Clinton, loathsome as she is, just would’ve been corrupt and self-serving. She’s the personification of the broken system we’re in, and I get that so many people went with Trump because they see him as the one who’ll break the system. Which, in the first place, is incorrect; he’s a crooked Wall Street insider, the living embodiment of the narcissistic elite in this country. More to the point, embracing him means accepting fascism in order to get the change we think we need.

      That’s a bad fucking deal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. >My issue with Trump’s supporters is not that they’re all racists who seek to do violence, because I have talked to enough to know that isn’t true. It’s that they’re willing to accept racism and violence to get their way. Trump promised and promoted this; he will deliver it. Those who voted for him consider it acceptable. I do not.

        My parents voted for Trump and that’s literally the reasoning they used. I’m paraphrasing: “We don’t like him, but we think conservative policies are more likely to be enacted under his presidency.”


  17. You are KILLING ME. I’m laughing so hard on think I’m about to choke.

    I just had to give a rundown on a good chunk of your story and world just to explain to my partner WHY this is so hilarious. Bad enough that Trissiny, the Butlers, Principia, her squad, and Basra are all there. Then comes KURIWA. WITH ADVENTURERS. Then a DRAGON. And now Vex. I’m about to explode. I almost would feel bad for the dwarves.. but I really can’t must up any fucks to give for them at this point.

    (Formerly Elyse here in the comments section. It’s been a while!)


  18. ..wooow. I posted my comment immediately after reading, and only then did I look at the comments section. I’m sorry to have posted a comment quite off tone from the serious issues being talked about. Sigh, our country right now sucks. Stay safe.


    1. I don’t think you need to apologize. There is a depressed political comment thread and the usual story related comment thread here.

      Btw I had a similar reaction of “oh geez another one? Wait and them too? Is everyone just showing up for the party?”


  19. So, hm, the dwarves have guns. It’s purely kinetic (unless they embed something in the bullet) so I wonder how the various divine, arcane, etc shield handle that.


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