12 – 24

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“It’s in place? And it actually works!”

“Even better than I anticipated!” Fross chimed, buzzing around the scale model of the mountaintop set up in the center of the spell lab. “I’m picking up fluctuations wherever magic is in use—which is a lot of places, this campus being what it is. All four schools feel different, but based on what I’m getting from the infernal spell labs, I should be able to tell when the Sleeper strikes. And by the way, Gabe, I could take offense at the incredulous tone.”

“Hey, none intended!” he said, grinning and holding up his hands in surrender. “C’mon, after all we’ve been through, I definitely know better than to doubt your capabilities, Fross. But this is still some way complex spellwork. You’re gonna be a hell of a wizard someday.”

“Aw, thanks!” The pixie darted over to Juniper, who was sitting against the wall, absently scratching at the floor with one hand the way she did when Jack wasn’t with her. “You doing okay, June? It’s not uncomfortable?”

“Nah, I’m just a little out of the habit of holding attunement while on campus,” the dryad replied, shaking her head. “It bugs other fairies and witches a little. Also, there’s a lot of arcane magic flying around here, which feels…weird. Not bad, though.”

“Is that going to create a problem, do you think?” Toby asked. “I know there aren’t many fairies on campus, but…”

“Any actual fairies will leave me alone,” Juniper said. “Fae users might be another matter…” She frowned. “…I think Iris has noticed. Somebody in the Wells just did a small ritual to sort of…poke at me.”

“I’m gonna tentatively consider that a non-problem,” said Ruda. “Considering what we’re hoping will happen, having fae-attuned magic users turn up tonight could be all kinds of useful.”

“Professor Tellwyrn asked us, in particular, to keep an eye on the campus,” Shaeine said quietly. “I’m not sure I feel sanguine about involving other students.”

“She didn’t ask me, but here I am,” Scorn snorted, folding her arms.

“Also,” Gabriel added, “if I’m not misremembering, didn’t Tellwyrn tell us not to go hunting for the Sleeper?”

“This is laying a trap, not hunting,” Ruda said with a grin. “But point taken. Tellwyrn knows our strengths, and they don’t include marching in a line. I figure there’s room for improvisation implied in the mandate.”

“Or so you intend to argue when she complains?” Teal asked with the ghost of a smile.

Ruda pointed a bottle of rum at her. “Fuckin’ ay!”

They all turned to face the door when it opened. Nobody relaxed at the sight of Inspector Fedora.

“Ah, good, everybody’s here,” he said with a lopsided grin. “Smashing. I’ve taken the liberty of rounding up some more assistance!”

“You don’t need to take any liberties,” Toby said flatly, stepping forward.

“Down, boy,” Fedora replied, stepping out of the doorway. “I think you recall the campus’s visitors?”

Juniper bounded to her feet. “Aspen?”

“Hey, little sister,” the other dryad said brightly, skipping across the room to give her a hug.

“I didn’t feel you coming!”

“I wasn’t attuning… Wait, you are? I don’t know how you can stand it, all the arcane on this crazy mountain. It’s like bees in my head.”

“Oh, it’s not that bad…”

“Uh, hi,” Gabriel said awkwardly to the other person who entered more sedately. “It’s, uh… Inger, right?”

“Ingvar,” the Huntsman corrected, bowing. “A pleasure to see you all again.”

“Likewise, and sorry. I’m awful with names. Anything that requires me to remember stuff, really. My grades are a disgrace.”

Ingvar smiled at him, then his expression sobered as he panned it across the room and those assembled, settling on the model in the middle. “The Inspector asked us to participate in your attempt to catch this Sleeper, but I’m afraid that’s all we know of the matter.”

“You know about the Sleeper?” Teal asked.

He nodded to her. “The salient points, I believe. Per Professor Tellwyrn’s invitation, we have been exploring the campus, and had several interesting conversations with both students and faculty.”

“I have never had so many people in such a short time try to have sex with me,” Aspen said, tossing her hair. “They’ve got some ideas about dryads on this mountain, Juniper. What exactly have you been doing?”

“Oh, help yourself,” Juniper said breezily. “It’s all in good fun; I’m not territorial about anyone here. Just don’t hurt anybody.”

Ingvar gave them a level look. Aspen met his gaze sidelong, then shook her head. “I was just…commenting. I’m not really in the mood.”

“Fascinating as that is,” said Fedora, “and believe me, I’m taking notes, I asked them here for a reason.”

“Just a sec,” Aspen interrupted, pointing at him. “You guys do know this fellow’s a demon, right?”

“He is not much of one,” Scorn grunted, “but yes, we are aware.”

“I guess that’s all right, then.”

“You knew that, and you followed him in here anyway?” Ruda grinned. “Points for balls.”

“He has government credentials,” Ingvar said mildly, “and I found it distressingly easy to believe that Imperial Intelligence would employ a demon. Besides, it seemed very unlikely that a demon would wish to start trouble in Professor Tellwyrn’s domain. Or with a daughter of Naiya.”

“Damn skippy,” Aspen said smugly.

Fedora rolled his eyes. “The point was, the logistical weak point in this plan has always been getting to the Sleeper both quickly and silently when he attacks; we want to nab him, not spook him into flight, and we have neither the forces to quarter the campus nor a means of staying in communication. So we’ll have to start from this position, reach the Sleeper unseen when the alarm goes off, and apprehend him there. To that end, I should think the inclusion of another dryad is obvious; there’s not a damn thing any warlock can do to her.”

“Dryads are not built for speed,” Toby said. “We unfortunately found that out the hard way in the Golden Sea.”

“Excuse you?” Aspen said disdainfully. “Let’s see a show of hands: who here has run down a gazelle?”

Hers was the only hand that went up.

“We’re not good at protracted running,” Juniper explained, “which is what we did wrong then.”

“That barely scratches the fuckin’ surface of what we did wrong then,” Ruda muttered.

“In a sprint,” Juniper continued, “Aspen’s right, a dryad can match basically any land animal, as long as it doesn’t drag on for more than a couple minutes. We should be able to get across campus quickly and without tiring.”

“And I brought a little something to give you kids a…boost,” Fedora said with a leer. “Check it out!”

He grasped the lapels of his trench coat and yanked it open wide; almost everyone averted their eyes, some with yells of protest. Ruda and Scorn, by contrast, straightened up, peering interestedly.

“Oh, he has potions,” Gabriel said a moment later. “Well, that’s…actually helpful.”

“Courtesy of your own Professor Rafe,” Fedora said, winking. “True invisibility is…well, possible, but has side effects and that’s made from expensive stuff; I couldn’t blame him for not wanting to hand those out. But camouflage and attention deflection we have!”

“I’ve some gifts along those lines myself,” Gabriel said.

“More to the point,” Fedora continued, closing his coat, “is that Ingvar should be able to shut down shadow-jumping in a localized area. He did during the hellgate crisis last year in Tiraas.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Ingvar said evenly.

Fedora winked at him. “Imperial security clearance, second class, remember? Your commitment to discretion is laudable, Huntsman, but I already know.”

Ingvar sighed. “…fine. But that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t just do that on my own. The ritual requires a shaman.”

“You know the ritual?”

“Yes,” the Huntsman said patiently, “but without the power…”

“We have here,” Fedora said with unspeakable smugness, “two dryads and a pixie magician who is something of a prodigy in weaving together different schools of magic. We have the knowledge of the ritual, basically infinite access to fae magic, and the capacity to jury-rig any gaps in our expertise. We can spot the Sleeper striking, sneak up on him hopefully undetected, and cut off his escape. We could very well end this tonight, kids. Let’s get to work.”

“The systems to which you have access contain an abundance of scientific literature, including complete courses of education. If you are interested in science—which I heartily applaud—I strongly recommend perusing those, rather than talking with anyone who was alive during the Infinite Order’s reign. Their perspective is likely to be…tainted.”

“Tainted?” Milanda asked. “How would… Look, honestly, Avatar, I don’t think I can handle any more grand revelations today. I’m just trying to figure out how much Walker can be trusted. Was she telling me the truth or not?”

“I am not trying to obfuscate,” the AI said apologetically. “The matter simply isn’t so cut and dried. Walker’s description of the Infinite Order itself seems accurate. Among other preoccupations, they were prone to favor mystical interpretations of scientific facts whenever such seemed at all viable, and some branches of theoretical physics make such interpretations very tempting indeed. And that is only speaking of their initial mindset, before they deliberately muddied the waters further. The Pantheon’s revolt was the first to succeed, not the first to occur. Long before they rose, the Infinite Order had chosen to deter further such incidents by, among other measures, obscuring the knowledge that could lead to the development of transcension field technology.”

Milanda took a step. She was talking with the Avatar in his apparatus attached to the gate, rather than going to the Nexus; so far, they had privacy, the dryads being off who knew where. It was rather inconvenient, however. The little planetoid rotated at much less than a walking pace, so she could neither stand still nor stroll alongside the gate, being forced to catch up with it in small increments every minute or so.

“So…what she said about the universe and consciousness, that wasn’t true? Frankly it makes little difference to me; I’m neither a philosopher nor a scientist. I just want to form an understanding of the…entity I’m working with, and whether I can trust what she says.”

“I have no insight into the Walker’s state of mind,” the Avatar said diplomatically. “It seems to me, however, that if she wished to deceive you, it would be with regard to current, practical matters, not ancient history or arcane science. And with regard to the question of accuracy, it isn’t so much that her described worldview is incorrect as that she, along with most of her generation, were taught a…liberal and even metaphorical understanding of the science in question, designed to engender a sense of awe and purpose rather than rational comprehension. She isn’t provably wrong, but invested in a line of inquiry which would not lead to useful technology if pursued to its logical conclusion. As a layperson’s means of understanding the basis of transcension technology, it is…good enough.”

“Not dishonest, necessarily, but also not necessarily right,” Milanda murmured. “Well, that is certainly relevant to my basic concern…”

“The answers to those questions were among the reasons for the Ascension Project itself. Some aspects of quantum mechanics are simply impossible for biological sapients to explore without transcending their mental limits in some way. It is perhaps significant that the events of this planet’s creation were all one grand experiment to test the hypothesis which was the foundation of the Infinite Order’s beliefs. That experiment was a resounding failure—but whether because the hypothesis was incorrect remains untested, as the Order’s gradual breakdown over the ensuing years fouled it beyond redemption.”

“You make it sound like I’m nudging at the central question of all life on this world.”

“Arguably the central question of existence itself, and of particular interested to the development of life on this specific world.”

Milanda sighed. “Well, I think we can safely assume I’m not going to solve that one. And, more to the point, I can probably stop listening when she goes on about the past. She does love to explain things. Makes sense, considering how long it’s been since she had an audience… But with all respect, I have little interest in either advanced science or the, uh, historical novels she suggested.”

“I am not sure that I would agree,” said the Avatar. “I infer that you are more interested in practical things?”

“Yes,” she said with a smile. “Beyond the immediate situation… History, politics, psychology. People skills, things I can use.”

“That being the case, one approach to improving your present situation would be to research the technology used in this facility, so as to repair and even reconfigure the system governing the Hands. That, however, would necessitate years of intensive study at minimum. A faster method would involve making the most effective use of the resources already in place, in which case, any insight you gain into the mindset of the people who built them, not to mention your current companion, could be immediately useful. In short, I think you will find it very practical indeed to listen to the Walker. Just not, necessarily, to take her at face value. Ah, program compiled.”

A small, metal-bound crystal like the one he had given her before emerged from a slot in the side of the gate apparatus, next to the screen in which his purple image was projected.

“Walker, or anyone basically familiar with the Order’s computers, should be able to use that software with relative ease, assuming I have done my job adequately,” the Avatar said as she retrieved the crystal. “It presents a streamlined and user-friendly interface governing connections between the facility’s sub-OS and any other systems, which should enable her to access them, acquire relevant data, and take counter-action as necessary. The end result will not be as potent or efficient as the efforts of a skilled hacker, but given your particular situation, it should hopefully suffice. Respect for the security protocols we established is built in, as well. You will need to authorize her access to each activation of the program. I recommend supervising her, as well.”

“Understood,” she said with a smile, bouncing the crystal on the palm of her hand. “And thank you.”

“One more thing, if I may.” A second data crystal emerged from the slot. “Do be careful not to confuse the two; this portable drive contains some reading material I think you will find both enjoyable and useful.”

“Oh?” She pulled it carefully out, noting that this one had a red marking around its metal rim.

“On that drive are the complete works of Robert Greene, a political philosopher of very pragmatic bent who, incidentally, was a personal favorite of Avei, Vidius, and Eserion. I recommend beginning with The 48 Laws of Power; it is considered definitive. As a successful Imperial courtier, I think you may find him more to your taste than Tolkien.”

“I…see,” she said slowly, then tilted her head and gave his projection a long, considering look. The Avatar’s expression was blandly neutral as always. “Wouldn’t these writings be in the computers up there, as well?”

“Yes,” he said with a smile. “But so long as you read them specifically from that portable drive, then remove it from the computer when you are done and keep it on your person, there will remain no record of what you have been reading. I leave the matter to your discretion, of course, but it seems to me it might be disadvantageous for the Dark Walker to be perusing ruthless political philosophy, or to know that you have been. I have, over the last few years, acquired some skill at managing daughters of Naiya. A good rule of thumb is that what they don’t know hurts no one.”

“You’re smarter than you look, aren’t you?” she said thoughtfully.

The Avatar’s simulated expression did not waver. “My maker, Tarthriss, sided with the Pantheon during their rebellion. Upon his demise and that of the Infinite Order itself, the Avatars were left more or less at liberty—whatever use that may be, since most of the Order’s surviving facilities are now abandoned and inaccessible. Our only guiding principle is now Tarthriss’s final directive: to assist the sapients residing on this world to the best of our ability. The means by which we do so is left largely to our discretion.

“Empress Theasia I found to be a most admirable person in many respects; based on what I have learned of recent history, it seems that she was a very necessary stabilizing force against the chaos of the time in which she lived. But a stabilizing force can easily become the opposite, if given access to the wrong kind of power.”

“And Emperor Sharidan?” she asked quietly.

“He appears a more conservative and sympathetic ruler by nature. To be sure, he will not rule forever, but the present must be considered as well as the future. My position here, Milanda, is part of a series of compromises I have made with reality, and will continue to make as necessary. But in light of the current situation, I begin to think that perhaps it is time for the people of this world—in a careful and controlled manner, of course—to be reintroduced to some of their heritage.”

Milanda frowned, then turned to her right—the planetoid’s north, where the Nexus lay at its pole. “A week ago I was an Imperial consort. It was a cushy position, frankly. Peaceful. The entire job description was ‘make the Emperor happy’—and my Emperor in particular is an easygoing man. Now… No matter how this business with the Hands and whoever is invading the system ends, it’s only going to get bigger and more complex, isn’t it?” She shook her head. “I am not ready for this.”

“I advise eschewing that thought,” the Avatar said gently. “No one is ever ready, truly. What will matter is not how ready you were at the outset, but how well you faced what circumstance dealt you. And that you will only be able to tell when it is all done.”

“It’s never going to be all done. Nothing ever is.”

He smiled. “Precisely.”

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44 thoughts on “12 – 24

  1. What I originally had in mind was a chapter to check in with every currently running plot, one short scene each. A sort of “eve before battle” thing. As usual, I underestimated the length of each scene, and ended up having to stop at two; stretching it over two chapters will give them enough time each. Ultimately, this ended up being not a whole lot longer than the part I had done before I gave up and went to curl up in bed last night, and also ended up a fairly short chapter overall. In hindsight I feel a little foolish for not just powering through and cranking this much out anyway.

    Would’ve had it up earlier today, but I slept in pretty late, got up, read this, and crawled back into bed for another hour.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Interesting as it is, I imagine anything politics-related does not help in coping with a depressive episode. Hell, I think it plays a major role in how I have been feeling and I’m not even bipolar. Past midnight here in little Belgium, so I’m gonna grab some z’s as well. Massive thank you for the chapter, and take care of yourself, ok? We don’t like it when you’re ill around here 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Another Belgian ?! Such a small world we live in 😀 ! And here I thought I’d be the sole representative of our tiny country.


    2. Yeah, I read that link and some of this other articles this morning. “1933 playbook continues on schedule…” is a terrifying thing to read at any time of the day.


    3. I’m starting to get the feeling that I should hand favorite possessions over to white christian friends for safekeeping in case I get sent to a camp (or shot) in the next few weeks.
      The stress is starting to make me feel numb 😦


  2. “The matter simply isn’t so cut and dried. Walker’s description of the Infinite Order itself seems accurate. Among other preoccupations, they were prone to favor mystical interpretations of scientific facts whenever such seemed at all viable, and some branches of theoretical physics make such interpretations very tempting indeed.”

    Well, I’m totally satisfied.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Considering the large amount of Physics in the readership Webbs was forced to adjust. Nice, very nice solution by the way, excellent chapter.

      By the way, I am also a physics professor. I would correct the misquote of quantum mechanics, but when I looked at the comments … I didn`t need to do it anymore.
      Griffits in his book (Introduction to Quantum Mechanics) explains that the problem comes from the definition of “interaction” or “observation”. A wave packet is in an indefinite state until anything interacts with it. Then it collapses and, for instance, spin may be defined.
      Now I wonder … futuristic machines, field manipulation in a planetary scale, … Yep, it looks more like our “mind controlled” wheelchair or exoskeleton than anything else.
      To use our modern brain interfaces you need training, specific ways of thought …
      So, you think something in a certain way, it is detected, the system interacts with the world around you in a quantum level, increasing the probability of certain events (possible, an electric field, for instance, will increase the probability of an electron moving in a certain direction, electron`s wave packet previously spherical may become ellipsoidal) and … thus we have a fireball.


      1. “A wave packet is in an indefinite state until anything interacts with it. Then it collapses and, for instance, spin may be defined.”

        Or else it doesn’t collapse. Its wave function is entangled with the observer’s, and the observer measures both spins… resulting in disjoint values of the observer’s wave function.


    2. Me too! I love it when a story presents a common misconception like this straight, then has a character know that it’s wrong and ask what that means. This was a wonderful bit of info about the Infinite Order.


  3. Great chapter. Fross needs her own arc.

    As to the political climate, you should move up here to Canada. We have free health care, which it seems you could certainly use, and the politicians are not quite so crazy.


    1. I’m on the fence.

      On the one hand, my loyalty to my country is mostly based on principle; the USA has never been a country of ethnicity (despite what some of its worst citizens have always claimed), but one whose culture is held together by common values–values which I support and want to defend. I’ve become more politically active than I have ever been, recently, and I’m not ready to abandon America. I feel that would be giving up.

      On the other hand, I’m increasingly pessimistic. The thing that wears on me the most is not the orange buffoon in the White House; I’ve always felt he was a symptom, not a cause. His campaign was sickening because he promised nothing but oppression and retribution for already vulnerable groups, and millions of Americans ate it up. Cheering.

      I guess where I’m at right now is I’m still in the fight for this country…but not as convinced as I once was that it’s worth fighting for. I’ve learned to be incredibly proud of some of my bravest fellow citizens in the last few weeks, but that hasn’t assuaged my complete disgust with millions of others.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Loyality needs to be earned and while the US offers its citizens a lot, not all of it is accessible to everyone. The possibility of success is the carrot that’s been waved in front of all faces but the truth of the matter is that most people can’t improve their situation. In fact, for many running after that carrot lead them astray, I’m just mentioning incredibly high student loans in an economy where a degree doesn’t necessarily lead to a job.
        The US has always been promoting the story of how a dish washer became a millionaire, how hard work will be rewarded in the end and how unbridled capitalism will solve all the problems.
        That, of course, is nothing but a lie. One of many and those lies are repeated everywhere, not just in the US.
        The poor keep getting poorer, the rich keep getting richer, the divide is increasing and unless you get incredibly lucky, you will never make the jump across.

        I think at some point you need to think of yourself first. Even when you’re loyal to your country, you can’t improve anything if you’re constantly dealing with your own problems. Resolve those first and if that means moving somewhere else where your needs can be met better…

        Although I’m not sure if Canada is even accepting immigrants right now. Last time I checked (a few years ago), I wouldn’t be able to apply for citizenship there. The workaround was to live in Australia for 5 years and then I’d be able to get into Canada through the Commonwealth. Probably all different by now.

        Both on topic and funny:


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Funny enough I thought if Trump tries to cure some of the wounds and weariness of the U.S. through reverse psychology then his plan is working.
        Even G.W. jr. did not raise political awareness and cultural connection like D.T. did just now.
        By actual doing the dumb shit the demagoges demand he exposes it as the giant BS it is, while uniting the People against a common enemy without using a war.


      3. I am from Mexico and we have some experience with dangerous idiots in positions of power. I really wish that you hadn’t end like us, but… yeah… sorry.

        In my experience the really dangerous thing is apathy and cinism. If this follows the pattern I’ve seen it will take around three months for you to begin to feel exhausted. It is normal, you are human. Expect dirty campaigns against the “opposition” and lots of internet trolls. The objective is that you think that there are no good alternatives (all politicians are Evil!), that it is your own people who are the problem (damn those idiots that voted for …, it is their fault that things are wrong), and that you burn out.

        My recommendation is: find a hobby that has nothing to do with politics. Ideally chose something that implies hard physical work and collaboration with other people. I hike and work at reforestation (but given Trump that might be political). The objective is to have something that makes you feel accomplished at least once a week. Mental health is fundamental!

        Good luck!


      4. You can always come back to the US but you can’t easely restore your mental health. There are ways to help your country when you are outside of it. Help yourself then help other. You can’t help others if you become a wreck. Ideals are nice but you also have to be a bit pragmatic.


      5. Last elections I lost. I am a brasilian, I knew that Dilma was creating a false “golden age” spending more than she should to win the reelection.
        I knew it, the press knew it, everyone that studies economy warned my countrymen and … Dilma won by 2.5 million votes in a country with more than 80 million voters.
        The same week she was forced to authorize an increase in the price of gasoline, she blamed it on “international crisis” that started or that she perceived right after the elections.
        Then she started to do exactly the opposite that she promised, and my countrymen started to notice that they were deceived. And yet, not all of them. Many still support her even with all evidence of lies, corruption, …
        Perhaps we will recover in a decade, it is still undefined if we will recover economically but still be a largely corrupt country or if the crisis will clean our system a little bit.

        Trump is at the same time better and worst.
        He simply knows who he represents and, different from Dilma, he does not betray his voters. He never pretended to be anything else, some people fooled themselves thinking: no, he can`t be this.
        He represents a part of the US, if it is the majority or not it doesn`t matter. They won the elections in part because the other side was to saint to vote in the less worst (same here).
        Now they, the people that he represents will rule the country for four years and this is it. IF his economic policies work he will even be reelected. Because he is a monster, and like Dilma, he surrounds himself with “yes men”. But his policies were never really tried in a country like the US. He would certainly sink a country like Brasil, but Obama`s policies would also sink Brasil. It is a question of credit, the US can make more mistakes.
        Perhaps you will get the classic “greek package”. One guy (like our Lula) assumes, spends a lot or reduces taxes a lot, or both, creates a false “golden age” (like brasilian military and, latter, Lula did), leaves the country with huge debts and blames the consequent recession to the next president or to external factors (like Dilma did).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Good morning, everyone.

    I was up past midnight chewing my nails and following news–not really by intention, but the awareness that the news existed kept me from sleeping. Had to get up at 5 for work today. It’ll be an eight hour shift, followed by an hour drive home… Yeah, I’m gonna be wiped out.

    I intend to get a nap as soon as I get in the door, then get up and write. Warning in advance, though, next chapter may be a little delayed.

    Honestly I sometimes wonder why I bother having an update schedule at this point.

    In the good news, TGAB is currently ahead of Worm on TWF, and within two votes of the number two slot! As always, I deeply appreciate your support!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Despite the occasional set back and the curse of Wednesday, I really appreciate your dedication to that schedule. You are always very considerate of your readers if there is a slip, and your reasons for it have never once sounded like you were just phoning it in.

      I know that it is hard to ignore, but at this point I honestly think that yourself and most people would be better off just leaving the news alone. It is all just fear mongering and ratings bait. The world honestly is not in the dire straits that the news paints it. Even the recent political stuff sounds really bad because people are only focusing on the really bad parts. I truly believe that things will work out because there are more decent human beings around than there are fearful ones.

      As for your position on TWF, that feels like it is nothing but earned. This story is simply amazing and is currently one of the ones that I look forward to reading the most every single week. Your setting is fleshed out, your characters are interesting, and the story has me thoroughly hooked. You absolutely deserve to be recognized for that.


      1. Agreed. The news nowadays is mostly designed for click bait. A story about the riot down the street sells for a lot more than a story about peaceful protests and reforms, and it sells an agenda a lot better, too.

        The whole point of that stuff is to make us feel sick, dispairing, and hopeless, because then we will grab whatever life preserver is thrown in front of us without checking to see if it’s actually tied to dry land or not.


  5. “He has government credentials,” Ingvar said mildly, “and I found it distressingly easy to believe that Imperial Intelligence would employ a demon.”

    That was pretty much my reaction too, once I was over the initial surprise.

    Thanks for the chapter.


  6. Home from work, exhausted as I predicted. I have also injured my knee somehow, and have another round of residual post-viral sick (just sore throat and dehydration, probably from blowing my nose all day, I don’t think it’s serious). I’m going to bed now; if I wake up in a few hours I’ll get to work on the chapter. If not…we will see.


    1. That’s the first time I’ve seen something like that done… and it’s kind of entertaining to see how wrong someone can be about a story. 😀

      But wouldn’t it be better to absorb the first chapters as to build a basis to understand the story? Or is the whole misinterpretation thing intentional? 😀


      1. I’m not sure what you’re referring to. I don’t think there was anything in the first chapters she got wildly wrong. She was a little off on a few things, but nothing major.


  7. Good morning. My nap turned into twelve hours of sleep. I feel like I needed it; honestly, I think I could’ve used a bit more, but now I have to go to work. Well, we’re already a day behind this week, so I’ll see what I can get done tonight after work.


  8. “She does love to explain things.”
    we have here a case of fairysplaning

    But seriously, I’ve read and watched some stories where the magic was just science all along and this is the first time I actually liked it. It was done in a way that fit the tone of the series.

    I just want to say thank you for this amaziong story.


    1. It helps that the magic has been treated in a scientific fashion by the characters involves and that the reveal happened gradually, in stages. This came of an “of course!” moment instead of a “what the fuck?” moment.

      With regards to update schedule, this is a stressful time for all of us. Do what you have to to keep your brain and body working right. As I’ve seen it written a lot these days “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is an excellent point – I think part of the smooth transition is that TGaB is set in a post-enlightenment age, we have universitiey, printing presses and various other ways to exchange and preserve knowledge, so magic is already not set up to be mystical, inexplicable voodoo, but rather something that used to be like that, but is fairly well-understood at the core now, even though there are still lots of things that are not or not fully understood.

        To me, it feels similar to electricity in our world, in the late 1800s or so, where they understood power generation, circuitry, electric light etc and had a solid theoretical basis, but of course didnt know transistors or LCDs and would’ve been baffled by a modern contraption like a computer, but after looking at it closely, they would’ve noticed the power chord and understood that it likely has something to do with electricity. I get a similar vibe from the expert magic users, especially the arcane and infernal.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Non-stop shifts all this week. I’m home, and dead on my feet. Gotta get a nap.

    There will be a chapter tonight, goddammit. I can’t cling to what remains of my sense of purpose if I fall any further behind. Just need to get a little rest first. May be a bit later than my usual midnight release. Stay tuned.


    1. You’re a hero, man, the wind beneath my wings and all that.

      I just don’t believe that there isn’t a way for you to make real money writing this stuff. It’s too good not to sell.


  10. So it appears you have lots of physicists in your readership, but relatively few political people.

    Greene *really* isn’t where I’d start someone on political philosophy.


      1. Hmm, I suppose the same can’t be said for Milanda and the Avatar from what we see in the text, but personally I was far more taken by the importance of having insight into the thoughts of the gods than by what might be gained by the philosophy itself.
        Having read the first fifth or so of Laws after this chapter was posted, I think it being a bad introduction depends how likely someone is to actually be persuaded by it. I’m a novice at political philosophy and did not find it terribly persuasive; so long as that holds true for Milanda, I think it’s probably worth getting right to the stuff that Avei et al were influenced by. I definitely think it would be a transformational and risky thing to believe the ideas he’s presenting, though, so it’ll be interesting to see how Milanda reacts.


  11. I wonder if waiting for the program to compile was an affectation on the avatar’s part. It must have been a SERIOUS amount of code…and in that case could have been accelerated by suspending the Avatar interface temporarily. Unless, of course, running the AI takes a comparatively tiny amount of processing, or the AI CANNOT be suspended and restarted easily. Or because magic & such. So many questions, only one disinterested Milanda…


  12. “It’s never going to be all done. Nothing ever is.”

    Wait, so the definition of being a hero is, in business project terms, literally: “scope creep”?



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