< Previous Chapter Next Chapter >
Captain Leingardt wasn’t destined for a career in politics; her expression clearly showed the normal reaction of a military officer to having her post invaded by a ranking politician. She managed to speak politely, however.
“Your Grace, what an unexpected…surprise. To what do we owe this…honor?”
The look Syrinx gave her was openly amused, but the Bishop chose not to make anything of it. “Just doing my job, Captain. No need to worry, I mean to do it as quickly as possible and be out of your hair, taking all this baggage with me. So! It seems we have a ‘she said, they said’ dilemma here.” She turned her gaze briefly on Sister Falaridjad, showing the tips of her teeth in a strange little grin, before shifting her focus to the apprentices. “As it happens, I am personally acquainted with all the players in this little drama, and I can attest from experience that these kids are sneaky, unscrupulous troublemakers who evince no care for the repercussions of their antics, nor regard for anyone outside their immediate circle.”
“Now, see here,” Layla began, but Syrinx simply raised her voice and continued.
“And, that being the case, if this were nothing but their word against Ildrin Falaridjad’s, I would still be more inclined to believe them.”
“This is none of your business, Syrinx,” Falaridjad said, practically vibrating with tension.
“As usual, Ildrin, you are cataclysmically wrong,” the Bishop replied, granting her a syrupy smile. “I have spent my morning dealing with this mess in particular—because that is literally my job. We have a tangle of Eserites and Salyrites having created a mess in an Avenist temple, precisely the kind of interfaith issue the Bishops exist to address. As such, Ildrin, I happen to know exactly what transpired on every level of this.” She turned to Captain Leingardt, who was now watching all this unfold without expression. “I have the full reports on the incident at the temple, and no, there was no assault. Of any kind. The only remotely physical altercation was between these two.” She pointed at Jasmine and Layla. “And since they are clearly in league, I rather doubt either intends to press any sort of charge. Further, I made it here so rapidly on their heels because Ildrin, showing her customary lack of basic sense, saw fit to forcibly remove three apprentices of the Thieves’ Guild from the region they most heavily monitor, and was followed all the way here by enforcers.”
Ildrin actually bared her teeth. “That doesn’t explain why you—”
“You will be quiet or you will be punched quiet,” Basra said curtly.
“That is crossing a line, your Grace,” the Captain interjected.
Basra ignored this, continuing. “To answer the question, I was nearby, in the process of being updated by the Eserite Bishop on these very events, and learning the most fascinating things. For example: this was an unsanctioned operation, and Boss Tricks is furious at these little know-nothings for sticking their fingers where they had no business being. However they did, no doubt by accident, manage to accomplish something worthwhile. You see, Captain, the goods they stole were voluntarily returned to the Collegium, along with stolen documentation from both the Salyrite and Avenist sides of some kind of interfaith embezzlement scheme.” She shifted her gaze back to Ildrin, and grinned broadly. “Copies also found their way to Commander Rouvad. And guess whose name featured prominently in this report!”
Slowly, Captain Leingardt turned to regard Sister Falaridjad, and raised one eyebrow. Ildrin herself held silent, glaring at Basra with her fists clenched. The four Legionnaires and three apprentices kept perfectly still, watching all this unfold with wide eyes.
“Well, that was unquestionably a robbery,” Syrinx said, turning back to the Captain. “But it seems their intentions were good, no harm was ultimately done, and in fact both the Sisterhood and the Collegium have benefited. At this point, my own concern is to soothe the ruffled feathers these brats have caused by acting out of line. It’s your call, of course, Captain, but in my official capacity as Bishop I highly recommend, and ask, that you leave the disciplining here to be handled internally by the Thieves’ Guild.”
“You don’t even have to ask, your Grace,” Leingardt replied, nodding. “I reached the same conclusion before you were done explaining. You three can go.” Narrowing her eyes, she looked at Falaridjad again. “I suppose I ought to have this one taken into custody, considering…”
The priestess folded her arms defiantly, but addressed herself to Syrinx, not Leingradt. “You have no cause or authority to do such a thing. I promise you would regret the attempt.”
“The testimony from someone of Bishop Syrinx’s rank, especially backed by documents, is adequate probable cause,” Jasmine said.
The Bishop, priestess, and Captain all turned to glare at her.
“Well,” Tallie drawled, stuffing her hands in her pockets, “as people keep pointing out, if there’s one thing we Eserites understand, it’s the process of getting arrested.”
“You lot were told to shove off,” Syrinx said curtly. “Be about it. And as for you.” She fixed another stare on Ildrin, again wearing a small, predatory grin. “Your last trick involved burglarizing a temple of Izara, nearly killing two Bishops, and almost starting a war. I can’t fathom how your buddies at the Universal Church managed to get you out of that one, but I’m willing to bet there aren’t a lot of strings left for them to pull. So I’ll tell you what, Ildrin, for old time’s sake.” She took one step closer; Ildrin stood her ground, fists actually quivering with repressed fury now. “How much trouble you decide to cause me from here out will determine whether I lean on the High Commander with every ounce of influence I have to throw the book at you…” She took another step, her smile widening. “…or lean on her to cut you loose entirely, and notify the Guild you were trying to frame and abduct some of their apprentices. Since you have so little regard for Avei’s justice, perhaps you would find a taste of Eserion’s version…enlightening.”
“You,” Ildrin said tensely, “are a monster.”
Syrinx winked. “And you are just pathetic, Falaridjad. If there’s any justice in the world, I will be there when you learn how very sad you truly are.”
“All right, that’s enough,” Captain Leingardt interjected. “I don’t know what’s going on between you two, but it’s clearly more personal than this business warrants. Your Grace, I would appreciate it if you didn’t bring political vendettas into my post.”
“For the record, I’m clearly not the one who brought anything here,” Basra said with a placid smile, “but your point is taken. Your cooperation is much appreciated, Captain Leingardt. I’ll leave you to your business.”
She nodded politely to the Captain, turned her back on Falaridjad, and strolled over to the apprentices, where she paused.
“Well? Planning to stand around in here all day?” The Bishop arched an eyebrow at them, then continued on to the doors.
They watched her go, then looked at each other, then back at the rest. Leingardt was already in the process of upbraiding Falaridjad’s four escorting Legionnaires while the priestess glared venom at them. In unspoken unison, they turned and hurried to the doors.
Bishop Syrinx was waiting for them right outside, her breath misting softly in the winter air.
“So! After being hounded very nearly to death by the Svennish secret service, the next thing you decided to do was body-slam your way into dicey interfaith politics you clearly don’t understand. Interesting choice.”
“Hardly the next thing,” Tallie protested. “That was over a month ago.”
“Oh, yes, a whole month.” Syrinx raised an eyebrow. “You kids aren’t the most luminous beacons in the firmament, are you? Well, if for some reason you insist on making enemies, Ildrin Falaridjad is a good place to start. She’s devious, pathologically self-involved, and also a fumbling imbecile.”
“Thanks for the advice,” Tallie said dryly, “and the save.”
“If I’d done you a favor you’d better believe I would hold it over you, but it’s as I said: all this is no more or less than my job. Presumptuous neophytes meddling where they shouldn’t make it more interesting, but smoothing over incidents like this is why the cults bother to have Bishops and the Universal Church itself. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go home and supervise the decorators.” She gave Jasmine in particular a vulpine smile. “There was a small fire at my house recently, with the upshot that I’m getting it completely redone for free. Well, free to me, I suppose technically it’s being paid for by everyone who does business with Tallithi Mutual. A Vernisite could explain insurance in detail; I just sign the forms. You know, the police said there were signs of arson. Clearly not by anyone who had thought through the ramifications of that action.”
“Oh, why ever would anyone want to set you on fire, your Grace?” Layla asked sweetly.
Basra grinned at her. “Perhaps the sort of person I could easily make wait to speak with me simply by telling them to leave? I’m so accustomed to dealing with the sharks of Tiraas’s politics; once in a while it’s downright refreshing to toy with presumptuous guppies.”
She let the silence hang for a moment while all three stared at her, Tallie with her mouth slightly open.
“I suggest you kids cast your lines more carefully in the future,” Syrinx finally said, in a flat tone. “You are not ready to sail these waters. Listen to your teachers, and leave the politics to those who understand them.”
With that, and a final superciliously arched eyebrow, she turned and strolled away up the street, tucking her hands in the pockets of her fur-lined coat.
“What a singularly unpleasant woman,” Layla observed, unconsciously gripping her shopping bag in front of herself.
“Yeah,” Tallie agreed, nodding. “She’s kind of awesome, though.”
Jasmine stared after the Bishop in silence, her mouth pressed into a thin line.
“Hey, Mr. Carson! What’d you bring us?”
“Nothin’ more interesting than usual, Hildred,” Fred said, pausing to give her a smile. “Now, don’t go pressin’ me for special treatment. You know how Mrs. Oak likes to keep it a surprise.”
She was clearly going somewhere, carrying an armful of books, and so Fred wasn’t bothered when she just laughed and continued on her way. He went back to his, pushing the empty cart through the gate.
Well, the old gate.
He didn’t stop himself from peering around curiously as he continued on down the path, this stretch of which was longer than it used to be. The land shaping for the campus extension had been finished two weeks ago, rendering this section of the mountain’s slope into terraces like the old campus, and now the main thoroughfare zigzagged a bit, navigating ramps, rather than being the straight staircase that ran down the rest of the mountain. Fred always took the long, back-and-forth path when pushing his full produce cart uphill, but on the way down it was light enough to just drag down the stairs. Thanks to the levitation charms which made it easy for a single person to haul, it didn’t even bounce much on the steps. For the Saturday weekly delivery, of course, he brought the much larger mule cart up, but the daily shipment of fresh produce to the kitchens required only his magically lightened push cart.
Construction had begun on the buildings just a week ago, and there were a few in partially finished states, interspersed around twice their number of still-vacant lots. Fred had actually seen Tellwyrn herself working on one in passing, summoning enormous slabs of marble apparently from thin air and levitating them into place. There were now a few people around in the near distance, hunching over diagram-laden tables rather than doing any construction work. Apparently the archmage chose to tend to that part herself, but just because she could conjure and move parts of buildings with just her big brain did not mean she was qualified to design them, or so Fred had gleaned from the gossip on campus. Architects and surveyors were at work planning the new additions, still, as well as extra magical types who would be working on the additional protections the new research facilities needed. Fred hadn’t approached them personally, but had heard they included both Salyrites from the Sapphire College and secular mages from the Wizard’s Guild, and even that snooty fellow from Syralon who figured himself too good to do business in Last Rock.
Only the new exterior wall was finished, and notably was a lot more serious than the old one—taller, thicker, with a hefty manned gatehouse and actual battlements. As usual, Fred silently chewed on the implications of this as he passed through the open gates, noting the man asleep at the guard post, slumped in his chair with a hat tugged down over his eyes.
“AH HAH!” Rook bellowed suddenly, bounding upright, and Fred yelped and shied away, losing his grip on the cart.
“Omnu’s balls, Tom! What the hell?!”
“Thought I was sleeping, didn’t’cha?” Rook replied, grinning insanely. He still wore his old Army jacket, even after having been discharged, though he had torn off the sleeves. “That’s right, nothing gets past campus security!”
“Does Tellwyrn know you’re pulling that shit on honest tradesmen?”
“Nah, but my immediate boss does. In fact, Fedora’s running a pool on who I can make squeal like a girl. You just cost me five doubloons, by the way.”
Fred snorted, taking up the handles of his cart again. “Any other man I’d pick up the next round as compensation, but I’ve seen how you bet. If he didn’t take your money, somebody was gonna.”
Rook grinned and flopped back down onto the chair. “Yeah, yeah. Take it easy, Fred. See you tomorrow.”
“Don’t work too hard,” Fred said dryly as he continued on his way. Behind him, Rook practically bawled with laughter.
He let his expression grow solemn with contemplation as he began the long trek down the mountain. Aside from keeping his legs in top shape, his daily trips up and down gave him plenty of time to think. He had a lot to think about, these days.
Fred liked the people on the campus. Most of the students were good kids. There were one or two troublemakers, but those existed everywhere; even the noble ones, though clearly stuck up, weren’t usually rude. He liked those of the faculty with whom he’d had conversations. He actually liked the groundskeeper, Stew, who despite being an altogether weird kind of a thing struck him as a regular guy, hard-working and amiable. Horns, hooves, and all. The person with whom he had the most direct commerce, Mrs. Oak, was one of the least personable individuals he’d ever met, but he didn’t hold that against her. She wasn’t nasty, just wanted to be about her work with a minimum of chitchat. Fred knew a couple like that in town, too, introverted types who meant no harm but preferred to be left alone.
He even liked Professor Tellwyrn, for all that the likes of him seldom encountered her directly, and despite also being quite reasonably terrified of her. What Fred knew about magic would fit in a thimble; he’d heard somewhere that eating too much conjured food was unhealthy somehow, but even so, it was no stretch to realize that a woman who could summon whole buildings out of her own mind did not need to buy produce from the merchants in town to keep her campus fed. And yet, she did, which was the lion’s share of the reason he made a living. Some folks muttered about it being condescending, mostly perennial malcontents like Wilson who were just never going to be happy about anything. For Fred’s part, he saw it as a sign of respect on the Professor’s part for the little people who dwelled around her feet. Some folks in this world were just bigger and mightier, and it didn’t pay to take that personally, especially when they made an effort not to rub it in.
All this had been the backdrop of existence in Last Rock for his whole life. Lately, he’d had cause to dwell on it pretty heavily, and not very happily.
Fred made it back down and into town on the force of sheer habit, absently returning greetings from his neighbors as he returned to the store and packed away the cart. No shipments today; tomorrow would be busy, due to several scheduled deliveries in town and a fresh load due via Rail from Calderaas. For the moment, though, Rick was manning the front of the store, leaving him more or less at liberty.
He brought his mind back to the business at hand as he folded back the rug in the smaller storeroom, carefully undid the three locks on the trapdoor, lifted it and passed through, then pulled it back down after himself. It was a pricey rug for one tucked away in the storeroom, not because it was pretty but because of its straightening charm. The enchantment was designed to make life a little easier for housewives, but it also served to neatly cover up the trapdoor once somebody had vanished under it.
Fred descended the wooden steps cautiously, hearing voices below. Calm voices, including the one he recognized, so hopefully there was no trouble… Maybe he should’ve checked in with Rick before coming down. Nobody would’ve got through the trapdoor without Rick knowing it.
At the bottom of the stairwell, he rounded the corner into the basement room and paused. The basement’s current resident was there, of course, along with someone Fred recognized and had never expected to see again.
“Ah, Carlson,” the Hand of the Emperor said calmly. “Please, rise. I understand you may be acquainted with Ms. Reich?”
Fred had started to kneel, and straightened as ordered. “Uh…not personally, sir, but I saw her ’round town. Before. Welcome back, ma’am,” he added carefully.
Lorelin Reich gave him one of those Vidian smiles he found so unsettling, all placid good manners on the surface and layers of meaning at which he couldn’t even guess below that. He didn’t know how she did it…but then, maybe it was all in his own head. Last he’d heard of her, after all, she had been hauled away by Imperial Intelligence after being exposed by Gabriel Arquin. Exposed, specifically, for having cast some kind of agitation charm over the whole town. She was not someone he was particularly happy to see back in Last Rock.
“I understand your unease,” the Hand said in his brusque manner, which Fred was only lately starting to realize was just his way and didn’t mean anything personal.
“Oh, uh, I…”
“It’s all right,” Reich said, still smiling. “I’ve certainly earned some mistrust around here; I won’t begrudge you that. All I can do is try to atone for my mistakes, and be careful not to become so caught up again that I lose sight of my judgment, and ethics, in the same way.”
“Her presence here would cause some agitation in the town, obviously,” said the Hand, folding his hands behind his back, “and as such will remain secret for the time being. Understood?”
“Yes, sir,” Fred replied, nodding.
The Hand nodded curtly back. “Very good. You are back from your daily campus visit, then? If you are here, I assume you learned something?”
“Nothing solid, sir, but there are rumors now that I think you’ll want to know.” Fred paused, glancing uncertainly at the Vidian priestess.
“Ms. Reich is assisting me, just as you are,” the Hand said impatiently. “You may speak in front of her.”
“Uh, yes, sir. Well, like I said, no official confirmation, but the whole campus is buzzing about Tellwyrn having approved the first major research project. Apparently it just happened this morning.”
The Hand narrowed his eyes. “And have you any idea what the project is?”
“Just conjecture, sir, but here’s the thing: three of the people who presented the proposal to Tellwyrn were warlocks. One from the Wreath and that dwarf from Rodvenheim. Plus! The Salyrite representative, and in fact they actually called back their mage and sent a warlock from the Topaz college, apparently specially for this. Also, that Syralon guy. So…it’s almost certainly some kind of infernal thing, something to do with demons. I mean, I don’t have it confirmed, but why else so many warlocks?”
“I see,” the Hand said, scowling. “Excellent work, Carson, I commend you.”
“Just doin’ my part, sir,” Fred replied modestly, ducking his head. “For the Emperor.”
Turning to Reich, the Hand raised an eyebrow. “What do you think?”
“Forewarned is forearmed,” she said. “I am at your disposal, of course, but there are significant risks if I were to try to investigate personally. I doubt my methods of stealth would beat Tellwyrn’s perceptions. Besides, I have ample proof they are not a match for Arquin, or his valkyrie friends.”
“Arquin has left the campus as of this morning, along with his classmates,” the Hand stated. Fred perked up; that much he hadn’t known. How many people were bringing the Hand information? “I am curious whether that means those valkyries went with him. Can you find out?”
“Hmm.” Reich frowned in thought. “Yes, I believe I can, though it will have to be done with the utmost care. They hang around him, specifically; none would be left stationed at the campus unless he asked it of them. And I am very curious how they are getting along with that incubus Tellwyrn is keeping up there now.”
“This is why I brought you here,” the Hand replied. “Find out what you can.”
She bowed. “Immediately, sir.”
“Carson, you look troubled.”
Fred jumped slightly; he hadn’t been aware that his thought were showing on his face, or that the Hand was watching him. “Oh, uh…it’s nothin’, sir. Just, um, the usual.”
The Hand raised one eyebrow in silence.
Fred swallowed. “I’m just…Tellwyrn’s always done right by the town. I’m with you, sir, don’t worry none about that. It’s just a hell of a thing, is all. I hate to think of her havin’ turned on the Emperor like this.”
“Don’t fall into the trap of considering Tellwyrn either a monster or a saint,” the Hand said firmly. “She is a self-interested individual doing what she deems best to secure her interests. That has long involved protecting Last Rock to a degree, and now, apparently, working against the interests of the Empire. Our task is to protect his Majesty, without hesitation, and without any unnecessary brutality. Don’t waste your time loathing her or feeling betrayed, Carson. Just go about the work.”
“Yes, sir,” he said, bowing his head again.
It still didn’t feel right. But what else was he to do? Fred Carson was the Emperor’s man, right down to his bones. If that meant he had to work against the University that provided his own livelihood… Well, the gods weren’t always kind. A man had to do what was right, whether he felt like it or not.
Raathi caught up with her less than an hour later at the prearranged spot. Ildrin did not enjoy loitering in alleys like some Eserite thug, but they had to be extra cautious at a time like this.
“Sergeant,” she said with relief at the Legionnaire’s approach. “Are you all right? The others?”
“We’re fine, no trouble,” Sergeant Raathi replied. “They’re back on patrol; I have to join them quickly. Leingardt grilled us, but our excuse is solid. This was your operation, ma’am, and Legionnaires don’t get punished for following a priestess’s directives in good faith. I’m sorry, Sister. I didn’t enjoy having to throw you under the wheels like that…”
“No,” Ildrin said firmly, “that was exactly the right thing. Leingardt was already after me, thanks to Syrinx. No sense in damaging anyone else’s cover.” She heaved a sigh, producing a brief white cloud, and ran a hand over her hair. “What a mess. I could kill that woman.”
“The Bishop didn’t seem to like those kids much, ma’am…”
“The Bishop doesn’t like anyone,” Ildrin said curtly. “And I need you to be extra careful. Now that we’ve lost the opportunity to interrogate them directly, we’re going to have to ask around to figure out what they know and who they learned it from, which I don’t have to tell you is risky. Probing for information tends to draw the Guild’s attention, and in this case maybe Syrinx’s, which is worse. She’s just as cruel as the Guild at their worst, and often for less reason.”
Raathi nodded. “What’s the plan, then?”
“We have to assume we have a leak,” Ildrin said, frowning. “Those apprentices didn’t do this at random, it was much too targeted. We have no friends in the Guild, so someone either in the Sisterhood or the Collegium had to have tipped them off. Probably not someone highly placed, or they’d have contacted the right authorities and not some random Eserite know-nothings. I’m going to have to keep my head down for a while once this gets out, which means finding their link in the Sisterhood will fall to you. If there is one.”
The Sergeant nodded again. “And the Collegium?”
“I’ll have to reach out to some of our allies for that. Beyond plugging leaks, Sergeant… Find out anything you can without risking your cover about who these kids are. Why are they so connected outside their own cult? Why does Syrinx of all people know them?”
“This is getting riskier by the minute, Sister…”
“I know,” Ildrin said grimly. “You must be prepared for the worst. Not only for danger to us, but for the possibility that we are going to have to silence someone.”
Raathi sighed, but nodded resolutely. “Whatever it takes, Sister.”
“Whatever it takes.”
30 thoughts on “13 – 4”
Nice. For once Basra did something reasonable.
I wonder what drove her to do such a thing…
So much intrigue i love it
Wow, look at Syrinx surprising everyone. And busting out some excellent one-liners while she was at it.
“You will be quiet or you will be punched quiet”
That’s gold, Basra!
LikeLiked by 2 people
Keep up the votes!
I have no idea what’s going on and I love it. Also it’s only been a month?
Well! Seems like this book is going to tackle that pesky Hand too. Lots of plot threads already tangling up; I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
Ildrin sure has no idea what’s she’s getting into… TBH other than Jasmine the other apprentices also have no idea of the amount of background powerplays that’s going on around them.
I like to imagine that Layla picked up on everything instantly because she’s a noble, then ignored it all just as fast because she’s 16.
That does sound like her. I wonder how the apprentices will finally find out about Trissiny though. I’ve been anticipating the reveal since book 11 and fingers crossed that it’s going to happen in this book and in a spectacular way like Jasmine having to play the Big Damn Hero. But knowing Webb he’ll subvert my expectations and I’ll love it anyway
I thought they already knew who she was after the gun-toting dwarf incident?
I meant her picking up on the relationships and interplay between people
I’d like to see that priestess try to silence the Hand of Avei. She will get bitch slapped into the Infernal Plane.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Fascinating. I’m not looking forward to seeing what exactly is behind the Rust, specifically because I’m certain that someone we’ve seen before will end up being involved, I just don’t know who.
That “not” should read “most”. Stupid autocorrect.
My phone does that too!
From 12-64, the perspective is of the Archpope.
“There was that, at least. The one bright spot in all this: the increasing pressure upon him had provided the leverage he needed to force Szaiviss’s hand. The Rust was her pet project, one he was not supposed to know about, and he had at least manipulated her into deploying them too early. The combined forces about to descend on them would wipe out the cult no matter what armaments they had cobbled together. All he had to do was ensure that any remaining tracks he had left in Puna Dara were covered in the chaos, which should not be hard. It would not do, of course, to think Szaiviss harmless or under control, but at least, now, he was confident she had no more external assets.”
In a way, we already know pretty much everything (not saying we won’t be surprised, but we do know the players). The Archpope is trying to use the Hand to set Tellwyrn and the Emperor against each other. Jasmine is 3 words (“Fourth legion neutralized”) away from throwing everything away and rushing to Puna Dara. Naturally, she will come with her fellow thieves and probably under actual instruction by Tricks to repair relations with the other cults.
I do wonder if Peepers is going to be joining them, not necessarily her style, but she is well connected to Sweet and knows the location. Maybe Schwartz as well as the Salyrian.
The players we aren’t sure about are Ildrin’s people in Tiraas, because they currently won’t have much to actually do in Tiraas with everyone going to Puna Dara. Maybe a third plot line with Sweet? Who knows.
Point is, we actually have a rather full picture of all involved. Which again is not the same as saying we won’t be surprised. It probably means we are due an unexpected faction/group.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Nice find, I’d forgotten about Szaiviss. But I think you’re mixing things up re: the Hand (actually can we name his HQ the Pants, so we can say the Hand is in the Pants! )
But I’m pretty sure that guy is going rogue, on account of his being in Suffering when the system rebooted. I don’t see anywhere for Justinian to be involved with him at this point, if he even knows the Hand exists.
LikeLiked by 1 person
“The combined forces about to descend on them would wipe out the cult no matter what armaments they had cobbled together.” If this is true, it’s kind of premature anticlimax to this book which seems be focused on the Rust as a threat that even Arachne is worried about.
@The Warren Peace NFL Report
Coincidences don’t occur with Justinian, it just happens that his Vidian starts helping someone cause multi factional trouble? I take it to be that he is completely involved.
Wild speculation time:
After the hand is removed from play there is going to be some suspicion left over, especially for people like Fred. Therefore, I suspect Fred will become a new Hand after proving his loyalty to the Emperor (even if misplaced).
The Archpope has been seen to severely underestimate Infinite Order tech (or at least that is how I see his actions). Also he has claimed that before the fourth legion were removed from play. It is important to see as well that he didn’t say it would be clean, them taking over Puna Dara, removing Blackbeard and getting the empire to invade and clean them up would still end up with them wiped out (which Ruda stated would happen). Just because they will not have the resources to survive as a hostile sovereign group with no allies doesn’t mean they can’t be wiped out. To make matters even clearer, even if they could repel the Empire’s invasion (which again would cause Catastrophic damage if it happens) they would simply call upon themselves pretty much everyone else, including, but not limited to, the Dragon’s Conclave, the Universal Church (they would be forced to help) and depedning on how long they last, the gods themselves. *No one* likes Scylliths cultists.
Suffering was confirmed. That is indeed the reason he is still insane. Its introduction mentioned that it is perfectly isolated and that no way in or out exists save the ship.
So, when they rebooted the system, they said that they had to leave out one Hand since they could not reach him. However, I believe they thought him dead.
All systems are corrupt, Trissiny… In fact this is probably a good example of how it’s easier to take advantage of the Sisterhood than the Guild, with all its regulations and paperwork to exploit.
I keep having all these questions about the Hand’s behaviour and what his endgame is and how his plan seems to be stupid, and then I have to remember that his behaviour is completely irrational for a reason. I guess the danger of him is either if he gets access to students without Tellwyrn’s knowledge, as none of them are a match for him but she obviously is, or if he starts manipulating the town. This would probably put Sharidan etc in a really tricky position, right? Because they can’t just up and discredit the word of someone who has the legal status of the Emperor, or say anything about him malfunctioning, that would cause panic, but also can’t let Tellwyrn do anything to him for pretty much the same reasons.
Well played, Webb, I was willing to write off the Hand as a villain until I actually thought about it, and now he seems terrifying. Literally the only way to get around this that I can see is have a paladin get rid of him, because an act of god trumps everything.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Tellwyrn actually has the same legal status as a god in an “act of god”, or maybe more like a natural disasater. After all, a god can be reasoned and bargained with, theoretically.
Scarily, she’s far from the only Designation: Zero Twenty walking around the empire.
She explains this wayyy back in book 1 or 2, after asking Gabe for a paper answering the question “Can I, Arachne Tellwyrn, kill you on a whim without suffering any unduly inconvient consequences?” or something along those lines. It’s one of my favorite chapters.
In this specific situation, I would be very surprised if the throne made any noise about Tellwyrn introducing the Hand to a death glove. This is obviously a situation the Hands’ unlimited authority wasn’t intended to cover. Milanda and Walker and that lazy kitsune are to blame, really. They knew full well that one Hand wasn’t in position to be covered by the system reboot, and that whatever did happen to him was anomalous. But he “probably died” by their reckoning, which was apparently good enough.
From 1-19: “What this means, legally, is that a person designated a Zero Twenty becomes a walking act of the gods. They are not regarded as a sentient being by the Empire, but a force of nature. You don’t jail a typhoon or execute an earthquake for treason, after all. So if I heal someone, they had a miraculous recovery. If I kill someone, they died of natural causes.”
Damn, I completely forgot about the Zero-Twenties! That cleans up the Emperor’s dilemma, I guess. Even if she wasn’t, I was thinking more along the lines of PR rather than criminal responsibility – it looks like to the ordinary Tiraan, Hands have legendary status, so someone killing one of them, even if it helps the Emperor, just kinda looks bad. But if she’s a 0-20 they probably don’t have to worry about that and can just say ‘it was the crazy archmage we don’t want to try killing, nobody worry!’
I suspect if they had to explain the actions of a rogue Hand they would say it wasn’t actually a Hand – rather an imposter using magic to make people think they are one.
Thanks for the chapter!
About the merchandise:
I would love to buy some. The shirts might be neat, but I dislike the rubber overlay method of adding a logo, plus it does not last for long. Are you planning to use the other method, where the design is inked or dyed into the shirt?
Also, sign me up for the Ebook version of this.
However, please do not put DRM on them when you sell them. It reduces their value to the reader, since the company applying the DRM controls how long or if you even can read the book. I use Linux as an OS, including on a few devices like the Raspberry Pi, that do not support DRM, and hopefully never will. While I do have an E-reader, I would prefer to own books that are not limited solely to it and that I may read regardless of whether a company somewhere wants to force people to upgrade their hardware or delete my books that I have purchased. It is a known fact that DRM actually reduces copies sold for this reason.
You may look into Baen’s Free Library, which noticed this phenomena. Sadly, it looks like they may be going out of business with the death of Jim Baen…
Vive Libra Informatica! (I give that a 50/50 chance of translating correctly. Shrug.)
Haha, of course Basra had insurance on her house. I have to hand it to her, not many people can figure out a way to profit from being hated.
And once again, the apprentices manage to stumble into something way over there heads. Should be fun to see how they handle things this time.
I’ve got some kind of a stomach bug. It’s not too serious, I don’t think, I’m just constantly nauseous and occasionally vomiting. Writing is going slowly, so the chapter’s likely to be late. Worst case, I’ll give up and try for some sleep and finish it tomorrow, but I haven’t yet decided it’s that bad. For now, still plugging away, just not as efficiently as usual.
Comments are closed.