Epilogue – Vol. 4

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The High Commander’s office was deep enough in the temple that the sound of thunder penetrated it, but even the fiercest rain was muted by intervening walls. It was not thundering now, and the dreary patter of Tiraas’s usual weather made no sound within—at least, not to the humans. Commander Rouvad and Squad One were left in silence.

She had not directed them to stand at ease, or in fact said anything since their arrival. For over a full minute, Rouvad just studied them with a quizzical little frown, as if struggling to figure out what she was looking at. For such a famously self-possessed woman, it was an unusual expression. Almost alarmingly so.

“Well,” the High Commander said at last. “Another mission completed, and with a nearly optimal outcome. I had a secondary reason for sending you there and placing you in charge, Lieutenant Locke. My intention was to give you the chance to become familiar with the other special forces squadrons, and get them accustomed to you. And, more specifically, to taking orders from you. Yet, all other squads have nothing to report of your interactions except that they arrived in Puna Dara to find you there, looking insufferably pleased with yourself, and reporting that the entire matter was settled.”

She paused again, her mouth twisting to one side in a sardonic half-grimace that was far more characteristic of her.

“Anything to add to that, Lieutenant?”

Principia cleared her throat. “I am extremely pleased with the performance of my squad, Commander, but the situation placed us entirely in a supplementary role. I believe our assistance was useful, but ultimately it was adventurers who settled the crisis in Puna Dara. I cannot take credit, individually or on behalf of my unit. And I am always insufferably pleased with myself, ma’am, it wasn’t situationally specific. If I’ve done something to offend any of the other squad leaders, I’ll owe them an apology.”

“You may be the most irritating presence in all my Legions, Locke, but you’re far from the only large personality, particularly among the special forces. Had you given offense, I’m sure I would be hearing about it. No, they are simply left in the same position they were to begin with: wondering just who and what you are and why I would put you in command. And as usual, you’ve managed to make a wreck of my careful planning without seeming to realize you were, and while fulfilling the letter of your orders to perfection. It’s an incredible talent you have, Locke.”

She inhaled deeply, shoulders rising, and let out the breath in a heavy sigh.

“You once had the gall to take me to task about the state of the Silver Legions’ combat readiness. You were not entirely incorrect, either. I certainly have not failed to notice that we are trained and equipped to fight the wars of two centuries ago. Nobody has, Locke; you weren’t clever for pointing it out. If anything, you underestimated the issue. The Silver Legions have not stagnated since the Enchanter Wars, we have regressed. The Legions which beat the Imperial Army at the borders of Viridill fought with battlestaves and magical artillery—primitive compared to those of today, but still. They also made heavy use of what, in any other organization, would be called adventurers. The last, lingering remnants of the Silver Huntresses and the old League of Avei. Those are truly gone, now, their only heirs the Legion special forces you didn’t get the chance to work with in Puna Dara recently.

“Today’s Silver Legions serve a different purpose than did those of a hundred years ago. When we are sent to fight, it is against the same universal evils we always have. Demon infestations, renegade warlocks, necromancers, the odd outbreak of aggressive fae… The methods of wars past still work against them, as do our corps of priestesses wielding Avei’s light. In some ways, these events are relics of a world that is slipping further into the past every day. Apart from that, the Legions remain a calming influence, a reminder of Avei’s presence. It assuages the fears of many, and dissuades others, like the Huntsmen of Shaath, from becoming too aggressive in areas where we maintain a presence. In the century since the Enchanter Wars, we have specialized in very specific kinds of war—and they do not include grand interstate conflicts. The Silver Legions have not, since that time, acted against any mortal government by force of arms. And because of that, we are welcomed nearly everywhere…despite the memory of the war in which we were instrumental in bringing down the world’s mightiest empire. The nations of the earth permit our presence because we bring stability, and do not threaten their power. And so we are a universal force without having to fight for an inch of the ground we hold. Politics: the continuation of war by other means.”

She paused, frowning slightly, then inhaled a slow breath as if steeling herself for something. “This was not a strategy instigated by any High Commander. It was a command directly from Avei.”

Rouvad stood, suddenly, and paced out from behind her desk to stand in front of it, studying each of them in turn as she continued.

“Avei’s orders were that this measure must be unequivocally genuine. No surreptitious preparations or great secrets: the draw-down of the Silver Legions was to occur in exactly the manner it appeared on the surface. Naturally rumors arose at first that this was a ploy, but they have faded with time. No hint has ever emerged that the Silver Legions are engaged in any hidden program to suddenly bring forth unexpected power, because no such program has existed. The only way to guarantee that a thing will not be found is to guarantee that it is not to be found.

“You have all heard rumors of the First Silver Legion?”

She paused, watching them. One by one, they nodded, as it became clear the Commander was actually waiting for a response.

“That rumor persists throughout the Legions,” Nandi said finally. “It always has.”

“It is a real thing,” said Rouvad, turning her back on them to stare at the wall behind her desk, on which was hung a map of the continent. “But not in the manner people suppose. Avei commanded the designation of First Legion be reserved, as we do for first cohorts within each Legion and first squadrons within each cohort, for special forces. The First is to serve as a military force that can actually take on any known opponent and win. And it does not exist. The First Legion is not training in secret; it is waiting to be called, at the goddess’s command.”

Rouvad’s tight braid shifted slightly back and forth as she shook her head infinitesimally, still looking away from them.

“Gods don’t commonly speak to their followers, and ours is no exception. I have rarely had orders directly from Avei during my tenure. One concerned you, Locke, as you know but I presume your squadron does not. Do they?”

“If so,” Principia said carefully, “they didn’t hear it from me. You ordered me not to reveal that, ma’am.”

“So I did. You do generally stop short of open disobedience, don’t you? Well, ladies, for your edification, when this one showed up here with her rap sheet longer than the history of some nations, transparently angling to get close to her estranged paladin daughter, my inclination was naturally to toss her out on her dainty ear. It was at Avei’s direct order that she was allowed to enlist.”

The entire rest of the squad turned their heads to stare at Principia in disbelief.

“Attention,” she snapped. Five pairs of eyes immediately faced front again.

Rouvad turned, looking across their line with faint amusement on her features. It faded immediately.

“The goddess has given orders again. What I am about to tell you is, until further notice, a secret of the highest order. You will reveal it to no one. So far as the Third Legion’s chain of command is to know, your squad will be answering to me directly in pursuit of a classified project, which is true, and your status is not otherwise changed. That project is the creation of a secret military unit within the Silver Legions capable of contending with and defeating any rival force which exists upon this planet. Avei’s orders come with a warning: a great doom is coming. She anticipates it will be less than two years before this force must be put to the test. That is how long you have, Locke.

“For the time being you will remain ostensibly assigned as you presently are. Known only to yourselves and to me, however is your new designation: Squad 111. The First Legion is raised, ladies. Whatever is coming…it is nearly upon us.” She shook her head again. “May the goddess watch over us all. Any questions? Locke?”

“You…that…” For once, it appeared Principia had nothing to say. She swallowed heavily and tried again. “To clarify… You expect me to bring the Silver Legions forward a hundred years? In less than two? In secret?”

“I frankly don’t know what to expect,” Rouvad replied, with open bitterness. “Do you imagine this fills me with confidence, Locke? Do you really think I would choose to place this burden on your scrawny shoulders? But I am overruled. Here’s a great secret for you, perhaps more secret to some than to others: the gods are not always right. But they unquestionably know a great deal that we do not. And I trust Avei. Not merely as a divine being, but as an individual. From my survey of history and my personal experience with our goddess, I believe she knows what she is doing, even when no one else does. Let me tell you, this tests that belief. Tests, but does not break or even bend it.

“You will answer directly to me in this, Locke. I am not advancing you to the rank of General, that would be ridiculous. I expect you to continue showing the proper decorum and respect toward your superior officers—the fact that you technically command a Legion now does nothing to change that expectation. Whatever and whoever you need, if it’s within my power, is yours. Everything goes through me, you are not to go off on your own or cut me out of the loop. But you will have my unconditional support, and are entitled to every resource I can muster for your project. Beyond that… The means by which this shall be done is left entirely to you. Understand?”

“This is impossible,” Principia breathed.

“No, Locke, you are impossible,” Rouvad said sourly. “This is merely the ludicrous, pestilential millstone round the neck you have been to countless souls over the last two and a half centuries. I bet it surprises you as much as me to learn that your career has been actually leading up to something. Regardless, you will doubtless have questions and require clarification, but I believe you had better take time to compose yourself before bringing them, otherwise they are unlikely to be pertinent. For now, dismissed.”

They stood there, Principia with her mouth half-open in a totally uncharacteristic expression of baffled shock. The rest of her squad were varying degrees of stunned and alarmed; all had shifted their heads slightly to look at her sidelong.

“You are dismissed, ladies!” Rouvad barked.

Principia jumped physically, then sketched a salute. Ephanie, at the other end of the line, turned to open the door. They filed out in silence, the weight of the High Commander’s stare seeming to push them physically from the office. It didn’t let up until Ephanie shut the door behind them.

The hall, fortunately, was deserted for the moment.

“Sooo.” It was Merry who finally broke the silence. “Szaravid, you’re the historian here. On a scale of the Enchanter Wars to the Second Hellwar, how boned would you say we are, exactly?”

“The Second Hellwar didn’t leave a single functioning kingdom anywhere on the continent,” Farah said faintly. “It won’t be anywhere near that bad. I mean, it can’t. Surely?”

“Cut the chatter,” Ephanie ordered. “The LT is scheming.”

They turned their attention on Principia, who was indeed staring into space, but not with the lost look she’d worn moments before. Her eyes were slightly narrowed, darting this way and that as if studying a large, complex diagram none of them could see. Noting positions, charting connections, extrapolating…

“Okay,” she said, and nodded slowly. “All right. I have an idea.”


By now, the Archpope’s seclusions were a known habit, and his personnel knew better than to try to dig him out when he was sequestered in prayer. He actually did sequester himself in prayer, at least enough to be seen doing it and preserve the legitimacy of the claim. But the habit served most importantly to earn him time to vanish into the catacombs beneath the Grand Cathedral and pursue the various projects which demanded his personal attention. Those no one else could be allowed to see.

On this occasion, he passed through the labyrinthine passages and numerous barriers by rote, knowing every turn, every combination, every step to avoid setting off a trap, and came before a simple metal doorway with a small glass panel set into one of its upright columns. The maze Justinian had created beneath the Cathedral would have been a very irresponsible thing to leave for his successor, did he not specifically plan that there would not be another Archpope after him.

The panel blazed alight at his touch, emitting a soft white glow. He submitted his palmprint, traced a pattern with his fingertip, tapped one corner in a specific rhythm, entered a fourteen-digit alphanumeric code, and played three bars of a melody on the one-octave piano keypad which appeared at the final stage. Only after all that did the door truly come alive, filling with a luminous panel of inscrutable blue light.

Time was precious. Justinian stepped through it without pausing even a moment, despite the enormity of the step he was taking. He had grown accustomed to this particular miracle.

That was related to the matter which so troubled him now.

He emerged on a walkway of spotless, gleaming metal, extending hundreds of feet ahead and broad as a city avenue, lined with a waist-high balustrade along which softly glowing panels were spaced, providing gentle illumination. In fact, the path was curved, but on such a scale that it appeared perfectly straight from the perspective of any person standing upon it. Ahead, it terminated against a coliseum-sized structure which extended downward, like a massive, inverted tower. He did not step to the side to look over the edge; aside from being a disturbing view, he knew what he would see.

Nothing, straight down, for countless miles until far below, at the center of the moon, was the mass shadow engine—now more a phenomenon than a structure. The awesome power source which provided not only the energy that had once ignited magic itself on the world, but the gravity which governed the very tides.

He did pause to look upward, as he always did, at the transparent panel which formed the ceiling over this walkway. Above it stretched infinite space. It was good timing; at the moment, he could also see the world of his birth and all his careful plans, half-hidden by the moon’s shadow.

There seemed no specific sound, save for the soft yet omnipresent ambient hum of powerful machines functioning at low power—unusual, in this century, but distinctive to those who knew it—yet mere seconds after Justinian’s arrival a whirring began. From the huge complex at the other end of the path, a small form rounded the corner of its open doorway and came whizzing toward him on nimble little wheels. It veered from side to side in excitement as it approached, emitting a pleasant series of chimes and brandishing its multiple insectoid arms in the air.

Justinian smiled as he paced forward to meet it with a measured step, pausing when the Caretaker unit intercepted him. It wheeled around him in a full orbit in its glee before stopping, and he placed a hand atop its upper protrusion.

“Hello, CT-16. It’s good to see you again. I am afraid the pace of events keeps me from visiting often, but it is always pleasant to meet you.”

The little golem chimed happily back, ducking out from under his hand to whirl around him once more, then fell in beside him as he continued forward toward the huge structure.

Justinian allowed the smile to melt from his features as he walked beside the Caretaker.

“It has been bad, recently,” he said, staring ahead at the complex they approached. “This last week… My plans continue to develop apace, with no further major upheavals. It seems I have even gained some ground. The price, though, is bitter. Many who have seen the value of my ideas and shown loyalty to me because of them…sacrificed. Apprehended by the government and their lives and careers greatly disrupted. And those are the more fortunate. Others have perished…in unfortunate events when the Empire came for them, in violence at the hands of that creature Tellwyrn…”

He sighed softly, and closed his eyes for a moment without slowing his pace. The Caretaker made a whirring little series of chimes and produced a brush on one of its arm tips, and gently stroked his sleeve in a comforting gesture.

“And poor Ildrin,” Justinian whispered. “Loyal, trusted Ildrin, who has served me with such diligence. I killed her, CT. Oh, I was nowhere nearby. But I maneuvered her into a desperate position, orchestrated the systematic loss of all her support, left her isolated and vulnerable, knowing just how this would act upon her psyche… And then stranded her in a situation with a group of angry Eserites and a vengeful paladin. The outcome was mathematical. It doesn’t matter who held the blade, the blood of a faithful friend is on my hands.” For just a moment, his normally controlled features twisted in disgust. “Because she was no longer useful. Because knowing as much as she did made her a liability. Because it was…strategic.”

He slowed, swerving to the side, and finally come to a stop, planting his hands on the rail and leaning over it, head hanging. The Caretaker sidled up beside him, chiming questioningly in concern.

“I feel it coming on,” Justinain said, opening his eyes and gazing down into empty space. Before him was a perspective the human mind had not evolved to see; it was dizzying, disorienting. The infinite abyss extended down to a swirling mass of light and shadow, the size of a continent and which his mind wanted to believe couldn’t be anything like that in scope. All around, more complexes extended downward from the outer crust of Luna Station, which curved away in all directions.

“I was so passionate when I began this,” he said into the void. “So full of indignation at what the gods have done to us. I have learned…sympathy. For them, for their choices, even for the costs they have inflicted on the world in the name of protecting their power. They were hopeless rebels who rose up to oppose omnipotent beings—just as I am now. And it begins so easily. One compromise, then another, and so on, and each makes the next easier. The cost not so painful. The guilt…more distant. Already I have reached the point where it does not hurt…enough. Not enough, CT. All this, Ildrin alone, this should make me weep. Yet I see only the place it served in the larger plan. This is the sign that I should stop. I am no longer the pure-hearted idealist who began this. I no longer trust myself with the work.

“And yet…and yet, I have no choice. There is no one else who can take up the task. If I leave it now, it will all have been for nothing. The work still needs doing; all these sacrifices cannot have been wasted. The best I can do, anymore, is loathe what it is making me.”

Surreptitiously, the Caretaker grasped his robe firmly with two of its arms.

Justinian smiled, reaching around to pat the golem’s top again, and straightened up, away from the drop before him. “Thank you, my friend, but you needn’t worry. I don’t desire to rest. I do not deserve peace. No…there is only the work, now. But I’m afraid, CT. I am so very terrified that by the time I come to the end of this, even if I succeed… That I will have become a monster who absolutely cannot be allowed to have the power it will grant me. And this hideous cycle will only begin again.”

He stepped back, and raised his head further, again looking up at the arch of space ahead. The world had risen, its edge now clipped by the rim of the skylight. In minutes more it would pass out of view.

“I wonder,” he whispered, “if they ever reached this point? If they faced the knowledge that they needed to stop…but could not afford to?”

Man and golem stood that way, silent, for long moments of contemplation.

At last, Justinian began walking again, resuming his course, and the Caretaker came with him, finally releasing his robe.

“I appreciate you, my little friend,” he said. “Confession is very healing; it is no accident it plays a role in Izara’s faith, and several others. There is simply no one else to whom I can unburden myself, anymore.” He patted the Caretaker again. “Few and fleeting as these meetings of ours are, they are precious to me. If I could not admit to someone how much all this troubles me… I believe I would be lost already if not for you. Thank you.”

The golem chimed pleasantly in reply, again reaching up to gently grasp his sleeve in one of its metal appendages.

“I shall do my utmost,” Justinian said gravely, “to make the outcome of my labors worthy of your trust. I know you waited alone for a very long time. Your first masters began in pursuit of science and the ultimate truth of the universe, and fell to vicious insanity. The Pantheon sought justice, freedom, and a new hope for all the people of this world…and look what they immediately did. The cycle must break, CT. I hope against hope I shall be the one to do it. That you will not have to be disappointed yet again.”

The Caretaker just chimed soothingly, and stroked his arm again with the brush.

They were silent until they reached the broad opening into the complex, the massive round tower of metal descending into a spire that aimed at the moon’s terrible core.

“More immediately,” Justinian said in a thoughtful tone as they descended a long ramp, “I find that I have made fundamental errors which I must now correct. I underestimated how difficult it will be to keep all these various factions and foes stirring for the time it will take, without allowing them to destroy me. They are more capable than I anticipated, this is true. But more significantly, I failed to account for so many sharing information. Far too many are starting to realize who sits behind all their troubles. I blame Vesk,” he added wryly. “In the bardic epics, fairy tales, even the modern chapbooks and comics, enemies never talk to each other—at least, not openly. And now I find myself greatly threatened because so many of my opponents have simply had conversations, like adults. Foolish of me, unforgivably foolish.”

They rounded a curve, the ramp switching back down; this part of the complex had been built to be navigable by wheeled servants like CT-16. Ahead, an opening appeared at the end of the arched passageway.

“That can be dealt with,” Justinian said, frowning deeply now. “At the cost of causing more stains on my soul, and more pain and havoc for who knows how many other souls who have done nothing to deserve it. But…I cannot see any other way. They must all turn on me in the end, but not yet. It isn’t time yet, and I can be easily overthrown, still. If I am to postpone this reckoning until the right moment, I must give the heroes and villains and meddlers in general something else upon which to focus for a time.”

They emerged from the tunnel onto a balcony which ringed a circular space with no floor; below was only the infinite drop. From the dome arching overhead extended machines which projected suspensor fields holding up the object in the center of the open space. The thing itself was fully encased in a rectangular brick of transparent material, almost as clear as the air and visible only by its corners, but incredibly hard and a disruptor of transcension field energy besides. Not despite but because of its open plan, this spot was the most secure space in the solar system to keep a highly dangerous object. If the suspensors shut off for just a second, the thing they held would plummet straight down to the annihilating force of the mass shadow event, which nothing could survive.

“And so,” Justinian said grimly, stepping forward to grasp the rail before him and stare at the thing he had secreted away here, “I will regret that there is no one left in a position to forgive me for this. I must…unleash something upon them all.”

Within the clear block, the long skull, larger than he was, seemed carved of ebony. Justinian stared at the huge, empty eye sockets, meeting without flinching the knowing grin of Belosiphon the Black.

“Something great. Something terrible.”

 

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52 thoughts on “Epilogue – Vol. 4

  1. So we come to what I had originally planned as the midpoint of the story, but the way things have shaped up, looks to be more like the two thirds point.

    Friday chapters are funded for at least two week! As I mentioned previously, it’ll be bonus chapters for a while, so I can work on the upcoming book and as a much-needed break. I had been planning to take a break from updating TGAB at one point, but I changed my mind about that. I’ve been in a really creative frame of mind lately and don’t want to waste it, so while this story is in a slower phase, I’m doubling down on Project 2, my next serial, about which I am very excited. It’s going to have each book completely written and edited before I start posting chapters, though, for several reasons. I do not have the wherewithal to update two serials by the seat of my pants as I do this one, writing and planning and editing in advance will help me remedy some of the structural problems which plague TGAB, and this will allow me to offer chapters early to Patreon backers. I have been wanting to do something nice in support of my backers for a long time, but the means by which I write TGAB hasn’t left me with anything to offer. I am looking forward eagerly to rectifying that.

    For now, if you are enjoying this serial, I would like to ask for your help! Please don’t feel bad if you’re not in a position to donate; I appreciate everybody who reads my silly little story. But if you’re willing to spend a little time, you could help me out a lot in getting the word out.

    TWF updates, of course, are a great source of new readers for me, which is why each chapter ends with a vote link.

    The story’s TvTropes page needs more love; this is a tremendously troperiffic story simply due to my style of writing, and has great fodder for that site! Wildbow has credited TvTropes as a major source of views for him; it only brings me a handful a month, though, largely because TGAB’s page there is modest and many of the tropes listed don’t seem to have links back to their own pages on the wiki. Any love shown to that entry would help out a lot.

    TGAB’s entry on Webfictionguide.com, also, hasn’t had any reviews or ratings posted in nearly two years. That’s where people go when they’re looking specifically for webserials; attention paid there brings motivated readers!

    Some kind reader established a Goodreads page, too, which has lots of ratings but only one review so far.

    I could go on–all of these are listed on the site’s sidebar, along with our subreddit, Facebook page, wiki, etc. Anything that helps generate attention for the serial helps me keep going and keep growing, even if it’s as simple as telling a friend!

    But at the end of the day, you help me just by reading. I want to thank every one of you for doing so.

    I’ll see you all on Friday!

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Wish I could do the Patreon thingy but I’m far too poor, I’ll just keep doing what I’ve always done tell people they should check it out if they read fiction.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I have an idea how to help with exposure. I’ll report back tomorrow, because I’ve been wanting to share the love for this and other Web Serials. In fact, it’s already done, but it needs some editing.

      Like

      1. Radivel, can you poke me about this as well? snag@theleakingpen.com , I’ve been a serial novel evangelist for a while, and am working on SNAG, the Serial Novel Advocacy Group, as a way to get more eyes on serials in general. Anything you’re doing in that regards, I would love to amplify and advertise!

        Like

      2. Don’t tell people that you’re about to tell them something, just tell them. You have a full page of, “the tips are coming…” before you actually get to the tips and your first tip is basically, “Let me Google that for you…”

        Don’t tell me to do a Google search for topwebfiction, link to http://topwebfiction.com

        Then your first two recommendations are for stories that completed and aren’t even running anymore. I think Worm completed a few years ago.

        Then you have a couple good ones followed by one that rarely updates and hasn’t really advanced the plot for a long time.

        Boom, that’s it. Kind of short and not very helpful, kind of like this post here that I just wrote. :p

        Like

      3. I haven’t looked at the post being discussed, but FYI there is a school of thought that teaches exactly the opposite: you tell the audience what you’re going to tell them, you tell them, then you tell them what you just told them. Sound stupid? I won’t disagree. But the format can be very effective for persuading a neutral or hostile audience to your side. It used to be a standard format for political speeches, back before all Republicans became infallible never-liars.

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      4. You (as in some nameless person who is writing things, not you personally) have your introduction where you allude to what you’re about to tell people, where you introduce the stuff that you’re about to flesh out. Then you get into the meat of things. Then you have your conclusion.

        When there’s a full page of “I’m going to be telling you something” but no introductions, no allusion, it’s kind of pointless. Also, it’s easy to avoid telling people to do a Google search even if imgur doesn’t like topwebfiction.

        topwebfiction <– go to this website but add the normal com ending after it

        Like

      5. Maybe I should just make another post with the exact same information, delete the first one, and try again. Hm.

        Like

      6. It’s still a nifty post! Thanks for linking it; people can cross-link the imgur page to other boards they’re involved with, if they like.

        If I could make one suggestion, a couple of the stories you listed are fanfics. Which is totally fine, but original webserials are a kind of different category in a lot of people’s minds. If your target audience is people who don’t know about serials, they probably do still know about fanfic, and especially starting with HPMOR they might misunderstand what you’re talking about.

        Like

      7. Bart person – imgur wouldn’t let me link to topwebfiction. It banned the post. The mod said they fixed it, but it still banned the post. So, I gave up.

        Like

    3. I’m still a student and I don’t have the money to donate, but I’ll make sure to tell everyone I know who is into fiction to read it – well, to the ones I didn’t already tell. I love your story so it’s sad that it doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves, so I’ll do all I can to help you improve your readership!

      Keep up the good work and thank you for all the chapters you uploaded until now!

      Like

    4. Has anyone tried recommending this story to r/rational? It’s exactly the kind of thing they like, and could get you some new readers.

      Like

    5. I’d definitely help out if I could! I’ve been meaning to work on the wiki and the TVTropes page for a while but this is a really busy year for me so I haven’t had the time. It’s definitely my summer project though! I got into TGaB because of TV Tropes in fact, so I’d definitely be of the opinion that it’s a good way to get readers

      Like

    6. Hey D. D. Webb,

      I was just wondering if you may be able to spare some time to discuss community building efforts across the various existing platforms (Facebook group, Subreddit, Wiki, etc.). I’m hoping we can revive these various platforms and maybe get something like a Discord server up and running managed by community volunteers.

      Let me know if you have a preferred communication platform that I can provide my contact info for; otherwise, we could discuss some ideas here via comments where everyone can weigh in – a great start if we’re looking to build a more active community, I think.

      Hope to hear from you soon!


      Nevan

      Like

      1. Hi Nevan, thanks for the idea and the offer! I think discussing this here in the comments is a good idea, especially for a matter specifically of setting up community involvement. The more people who can weigh in, the better, it seems to me.

        I’ll be quite honest: I don’t do social media. Never saw the appeal, and frankly can’t stand it. So I’m rather in the dark on the whole subject and any information or insight offered would be welcome. Discord I have rarely used, but I’m aware of it due to gaming, a hobby of mine which is intermittent.

        What did you have in mind?

        Like

      2. Not so much a solid plan as a general idea as of yet.

        Starting up a Discord server would probably be a good idea. It would provide a place for people to chat and discuss theories in real-time, and serve as a notification platform if we got a bot to post any time a new chapter is published. Once the server is created, it should be as simple as adding the invite link to the sidebar of the site, as well as any other social media groups going (Facebook, Reddit, etc.).

        If you don’t want to take that on yourself, I’d be happy to at least get it up and running so there’s at least a starting point. For reference, my discord handle is Nevan#6292.

        The Facebook group, at the moment, is fairly small and not very active. I went ahead and posted a link to the latest chapter at the time of this writing (April 2, 2018) to the group to ping the people that are still around. As I am currently the moderator of the group, I’ll also be going over the settings and such to make sure everything is up to date – do, however, let me know if you would like ownership of the group passed to anyone in particular.

        As far as what to do with it, encouraging readers to join up and use Facebook as a means to let their friends know about the serial would be a good first step. Posting to the page every time a chapter goes up will also help the group look more alive and keep current members engaged.

        Reddit is going to be far more community-driven and there isn’t as much we can do with that. A thought might be to set up an “official” discussion thread for each chapter to try to prompt discussion each week, rather than waiting for stuff to just show up. The current goal is to get the sidebar updated with a description + links.

        For all of these points so far, I can go ahead and get the ball rolling, I just wanted to make sure I’m not stepping on any toes in doing so. With that, I believe I’ll shut up now and see what people think.

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  2. Every vote counts! It’s super easy to vote.

    The first legion is going to invade hell. Put money on it.

    In Justinian’s Final Boss Dungeon 10(8 and 9 don’t exist. Weird naming sense? IO time weirdness?) he makes a dramatic reveal:
    Since when were you under the impression that TGaB wasn’t a commentary on political activism?

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  3. One Mastermind reveals himself more and more but will we ever learn about the Masterplan from the very beginning of the story ?
    With Justitian being involved with Scyllith somehow I can’t believe Elilial would work with him.
    On second thought. If Scyllith is not involved but the Goddess which took over Scylliths domain, Elilials Plans to reconnect herself and her Children to the mortal Realm start to make sense.

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  4. This just continues becoming a more and more interesting story. I really wonder how all of this is going to end.

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    1. And now we know the exact nature of the great Doom coming. Evil Elder Gods? Meh! Unleashed Chaos dragons? Pah! It could be worse though. Imagine if one of the Ifinite Order had thought about installing a “Dance Dance Revolution”-controler infront of that door …

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  5. Justinian: “Oh, my soul reels from the things I’ve already done!” ::://////drama::::: “Welp, time to get back to it!” ::::whistles a jaunty tune::::

    Khazadroth: so to foil your plans, I need to not foil your plans. Got it.

    Crazy thought: what if one of the Infinite Order guys was vindictive enough to leave a time bomb ticking away for 8,000 years, and Justinian is just the puppet they maneuvered into position. CT-16 is really the true mastermind behind everything (or the extra smart A.I. avatar driving him).

    Does anyone else picture Justinian as a real Pope? If so, which one? I kind of bounce between the three from my lifetime, but I get the most amusement out of picturing Francis.

    Also acceptable: https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/en.futurama/images/6/6b/SpacePope.png/revision/latest?cb=20071229224536
    The Space Pope

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      1. Since I saw the short series “The Young Pope” Justitian is basically nailed down as Jude Law in my head.

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    1. Yes, Justinian here reminds me both of Frollo singing “Hellfire” in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I want to say some Communist dictators have portrayed/ excused/ justified themselves with the same sort of language (maybe mob bosses?).
      On the other hand, he also reminds me in a nostalgically bittersweet way of Taylor
      Hebert.

      I found several details later on particularly perfect: when he talks about the costs of fixing his oversight, he considers/expresses first the stains upon HIS soul and then the harms upon countless INNOCENT OTHERS. Bit of a deep stain there already, eh?
      Second, the “I cannot see any other way” line is just classic for the ‘hubristic & self-obsessedly path-dependent’ archetype. I’m deeply skeptical that, clever as he is, there’s no other way for him to safeguard his ultimate goal via manipulation, genuinely opening up to/converting/coopting one or more of his opponents, etc. No other way than unleashing a halfbreed between Hell and the Cthulhu Mythos? Not bloody likely.

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  6. For the longest time I was thinking that Justinian was actually a plant/agent of the society that the Infinite Order came from.

    But now I think…I don’t know. An adventure who stumbled across the Infinite Order bunker and learned The Truth(tm). Scyllith’s unknowing puppet? The Genome Conspiracy’s patsy? The reincarnation of one of the Elder Gods?

    I have no idea, but I can’t wait to find out!

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  7. And I am always insufferably pleased with myself, ma’am, it wasn’t situationally specific.

    Well, at least she recognizes her own failings well.

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  8. It’s been a long time since I’ve read. I had to finish book 3, and had all of book 4 waiting for me. I forgot how much I love this story. I constantly recommend it, and it’s seriously one of my favorites. I’m sorta sad about this being two thirds rather than halfway, but I’m sure the ride will be no less enjoyable. I always look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Going to be a few hours later than usual with Friday’s chapter. I was having some trouble with it even before ending up sick as a dog; at this point I’m gonna try to sleep if I can and get up early to finish. Hopefully some shut-eye will settle both my stomach and brain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kay, I’ve been up a couple of hours and got more writing done. Feeling fine now (I wasn’t truly ill, just having stomach issues due to an unwise culinary decision), but this chapter is still a struggle. For one of these backstory bonuses I’m having to arrange a while lot of history into a few thousand words, ideally without telling more than showing, and I underestimated how difficult this was going to be. Won’t be structuring one like this again, that’s for sure.

      Anyhow, I’m reaching the point where I’m gonna have to stop and head off to the day job, and this isn’t nearly done. I will try to finish when I’m home and have it up tonight. I apologize for the delay.

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      1. If the current bonus chapter is proving intractable, you could always try writing another and coming back to it later. Just another option.

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  10. Funny thing is.
    Here in NZ the emergency services# is 111.
    So guess what I immediately thought the squad are for 🙂

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  11. Heya,I have been reading this novel in a blitz since yesterday night and I’m at the 4th book now.
    I know this would be a kind of dickish and fanshipping thing to ask……..

    Does trissiny get together with Gabriel?Or anything between them later in the books?
    Cheers!

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    1. As with most pairs of characters in the series, their relationship continues to evolve, and not always in predictable ways.

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      1. Yeap.

        The Series has only produced one married couple so far, which you will not expect at book four I guess.

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  12. I’m enjoying the story quite a bit, am running out of lead-time before catching up and being unable to binge.

    There are a few topics that I’m unclear on, am hoping more attentive readers can help clear up:

    1) Who did what in the Fabrication Facility?
    a) 10 years ago someone used it to mess with fertility at the palace
    b) At some point after that someone messed with the avatar, causing it to slowly go off the rails.
    c) The Rust took advantage of the situation to steal the Elixir

    Ruda accuses the Rust of having sabotaged the avatar, but they don’t acknowledge it and it seems implausible. Without the Elixir, the Rust are no-special-powers civilians; how could they find the facility, get into it, know how to use the equipment, know how to sabotage avatar, have the foresight to set up a many-years-before-payoff sabotage, […]? Did JPope hand them the keys (that would raise more questions, but at least I’ve gotten used to him behaving seemingly-erratically)?

    2) BigK says that JPope has some leverage on him, but it isn’t clear why being trapped in a Lesser Form would specifically give JP leverage. Is there something else?
    – If that _is_ the relevant leverage, wouldn’t Team Darling be better off if Kuriwa dropped the hex? (assuming they have called off their respective assassination orders?)
    – Wasn’t getting K off the leash a big part of the Conclave’s whole goal? IIRC four of them went to Tiraas and they’re each roughly in Arachne/Kuriwa’s weight class. Seems like the kind of thing they should be able to handle.

    3) Whoever stole the Zeppelin managed to take out Vex’s special team, suggesting they have some special juice. Is that followed up on outside the marshmallow roast?

    4) Lots of machinations within The Crawl:
    – Whatever Rowe was building in the backroom… did Arachne not know about it?
    – Several mentions to the effect of “this might be the group that finally gets to the end level” suggesting it hasn’t been done before, but the faculty says it has been done a few times. Huh?
    – Why is the Naga Queen hanging out at the Visage? It seems like she’s beholden to Rowe for some reason that is not clear.
    – Related, shouldn’t the Naga Queen be a more than match for the Rogue Hand?

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    1. Oh one more: there was a discussion about what would happen if Headhunters could be made non-insane, and IIRC the Emperor had an internal “well that’s how the Hands are made, but I’m not going to say anything” moment. Was that retconned, or am I remembering wrong?

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