16 – 27

< Previous Chapter                                                                                                 Next Chapter >

“I dare to hope this will not take long, but it doesn’t pay to make excessively optimistic assumptions about wholly unprecedented events,” Ravana said, coming to a stop in the middle of the marble-floored parlor adjacent to her chambers which she had designated an official teleportation arrival and departure point. “Regardless of how much time this demands, Veilwin, I’ll expect you to remain sober for the duration, and I will have Yancey enforce this if need be. Take us to the lodge, please.”

The elf wasn’t even looking at her, staring at one of the doors to the chamber with her eyes narrowed. Yancey quirked an eyebrow at this, which was as voluble an expression of disapproval as he ever produced in the presence of the Duchess.

“Veilwin?” Ravana prompted. “While we’re young, please.”

“Hang on,” the sorceress replied. “There’s news coming that I think you’ll wanna hear.”

Ravana bit back her instinctive reply, reminding herself that there was no point in having an elf as her Court Wizard if she wasn’t going to take advantage of all the fringe benefits.

Indeed, it was only seconds later that the pounding of booted feet came into the range of human hearing, and moments after that, the door burst open to admit the commander of her House Guard—likely the only person who could have dashed through the halls of Madouri Manor without being detained by soldiers.

“My lady!” he exclaimed upon finding her waiting, barely out of breath. “Thank the gods I caught you. There’s a situation unfolding in front of Falconer Industries you’ll want to see.”

“Lord-Captain Arivani,” she replied evenly, “there are hundreds of inexplicable refugees attempting to cross my lands, and currently detained by Sheriff Ingvar in a facility which does not have the resources to keep them. Is this more important than that?”

“I…couldn’t say, my Lady,” he admitted. “But it was your explicit instruction that any incidents of public rebellion against your authority be brought directly to your attention.”

“Gods send me patience,” Ravana hissed. “Rebellion, is it? Very well, Lord-Captain, you are correct. This I want to see. How great is the danger?”

“My men have secured the roof of the tariff office just across from FI, my Lady. It has a good view of the action.”

“Excellent work. Veilwin, it seems we shall be taking a detour before visiting the lodge, after all.”

“Yeah,” the elf said smugly, already making one of her needlessly dramatic hand gestures as sparkles of arcane light gathered in the air around the four of them. “I had a feeling.”


The rest of the excursion was uneventful and smooth, even to the extent of the entire party being teleported back to the Conclave embassy in Tiraas with a minimum of backtalk, which likely was exactly why Ampophrenon chose that moment to spring his surprise.

“Principia Locke may deny involvement in classical adventuring, but it is clear she understands the practicalities better than one who has learned of them only from books,” the gold dragon said as he and Trissiny talked quietly a bit apart from the rest of the group, who were being courteously given a city map and directions from the Conclave’s public steward. “The division of deployed assets into five-person bands is traditional for good reason, and her training style is exactly that which got the best results from the greatest adventurer guilds, when they still operated.”

“I’m relieved to hear that,” Trissiny admitted. “It all seemed a little chaotic to me.”

“In comparison to a proper military boot camp, I shouldn’t wonder,” Ampophrenon replied with some amusement. “But the looser approach will help enforce standards while respecting the freedom agents like that require, and she has applied the necessary strictures to keep everyone on task and aimed at the same goals—methods developed over centuries. Locke was either in one of those guilds at some point, or has studied them extensively. Altogether, General, I deem it a most promising endeavor, and an enjoyable visit on my part. I only regret I was unable to speak with Khadizroth, but doubtless he has his own tasks to pursue.”

Snuck in at the end as it was, that stinger had the desired effect of rocking Trissiny’s composure—not by much, but she failed to suppress a slight jerk of her head.

The dragon’s monochrome eyes made it impossible to tell exactly where he was looking, but his expression and the position of his head gave her the impression of someone watching her sidelong for exactly such a reaction.

“If I might ask a favor, General Avelea,” Ampophrenon continued in the same courteous tone before she could recover, “when next you see Khadizroth, I wonder if you would be so kind as to pass along to him that he is always welcome to join us here.”

The extra few seconds were enough for her to regain her footing, though this had altogether been a valuable reminder that she wasn’t equipped to play mind games with a being such as he.

“Attempting to poach my personnel, Lord Ampophrenon?” Trissiny replied, raising her eyebrows and affecting a bland tone. “I could call bad form.”

The dragon’s lips quirked in a faint smile, but his voice remained as even and mannerly as ever. “I suspect you must be aware that the Conclave’s formation was inspired in part by Khadizroth’s own adventures of the past few years. We do not compel any of our brethren to join, but all have a place with us should they choose it. In any case, we have long since opted not to pursue any action against Khadizroth for his various errors in judgment, in particular as he has been helpfully in contact with us concerning the deeds of Archpope Justinian.”

“Has he.”

“This was before he enlisted in the First Legion,” Ampophrenon clarified. “We have not heard from him since. It seems needlessly vindictive to castigate one of our own for errors which he has fully committed himself to correcting, in his own way. Perhaps a stint in Avei’s service will provide him the penance he seeks, as well as the opportunity to effect some progress in undoing Justinian’s schemes.”

“So,” she said, watching him intently, “you are aware of the Archpope’s…ambitions.”

“Their specifics are frustratingly obscure, but we make it a point to be as aware of the world as possible, and I in particular am quite concerned with such a betrayal of the Pantheon’s most sacred charge,” the dragon said gravely. “I lack your insight into the recent events at the Temple of Avei, but even from the reports that reached me I can discern a pattern. It seems to me, General Avelea, that this is no time for those of us who are driven by principle to let ourselves be divided by misunderstandings. Khadizroth’s place among your Legion will not be a sticking point between the Sisterhood and the Conclave. On that you have my word.”

He smiled, the expression calm and open. After a moment, Trissiny had to smile back.

That silence hung for a few seconds, in which her own expression faded back to thoughtfulness, and Trissiny decided to accept his implied invitation by taking a slight risk.

“Where do they all come from?” she asked quietly, making a subtle gesture toward the two Conclave soldiers currently talking with her own party. Joe was well-mannered as always and McGraw seemed likewise, but the two Avenist priestesses—despite the fact that neither of them would be taken for such at a glance, which was no doubt part of what they were doing here—seemed openly skeptical. “If the Conclave had been scouring the streets of Tiraas for every pretty woman who might want a job…that’s the kind of thing the Sisterhood would notice.”

“Indeed,” he acknowledged, nodding once. “It was, in fact, the opposite; the Conclave did not elect to employ many of those who first sought us out, as they were a melange of opportunists and spies. Instead, my brethren have recruited from among the most unfortunate. Employment here comes with a very progressive package of benefits, including medical care by green dragons, which in addition to being better than most nobles receive, includes cosmetic glamour of the recipient’s choice. A proper application of the fae craft can even suppress the effects of chemical addiction.”

For a moment, Trissiny was again rendered silent by the weight of it. If they could gather drunks and shroomheads out of the gutters and turn them into this… Well, it explained a great deal. And raised further questions.

“I gather,” she said aloud, “such benefits would be suspended if the individual in question left the Conclave’s service. That is quite an incentive for loyalty, Lord Ampophrenon.”

He nodded again, his expression more grim. “It becomes inherently somewhat coercive, does it not? To say nothing of the implications of deliberately recruiting among the most unfortunate in the first place. There is also the fact that such exotic benefits are a ruthless cost-saving measure, as people willingly work for less than the average wage to have access to them. I raised these concerns with my fellow members of the Conclave, who it must be said indulged me in a full meeting to discuss the matter. Ultimately, their decision was that since no one is being forced to do anything against their will and our compensation is the finest they could ever hope to receive, we are not committing any ethical violation.”

“I see,” she said, not meaning her voice to be cold but hearing it anyway.

“The Conclave of the Winds is a necessity of this political moment,” the dragon said softly, now gazing across the great hall of the embassy. “More importantly, it presents the hope of betterment, for both your kind and ours. Our institutions are never perfect, Trissiny. Governments, faiths, the Church itself, my own Order of the Light… All are unavoidably flawed. I believe the Eserites have a saying about this.”

“I’ve heard it a time or two,” she agreed wryly. The dragon gave her a sidelong smile.

“Yet we cannot abandon them,” he continued, his expression quickly sobering again. “The world is always somewhat…broken. I have come to think it is meant to be. Can you imagine a world with no hardship—or more farfetched, with no difficult decisions to be made?” Ampophrenon shook his head. “Such eternal complacency could only bring out the worst in us all. We are tested, yes, constantly. It is our duty, and our only option, to rise to these trials, and make what difference we can.”

“People have often said to me that the gods never test us beyond what we can bear.”

His lips thinned for a moment. “I have seen far too many people destroyed by trials they had no reasonable hope of overcoming. Good people, who were sorely missed. Life is not so conveniently purposeful. And yet, we stand.”

“What else can we do?” she whispered.

The dragon inclined his head to her, the gesture both a nod and a bow. “I enjoy your conversation, General Avelea. You, too, are always welcome here. Feel free to call up on me if I can aid your battles, however overt or subtle they may be. Or simply if you wish to visit.”

“Thank you for everything today, Lord Ampophrenon,” she replied, nodding back. He gave her a final smile before retreating to the stairs.

Trissiny turned around, finding her own party approaching at the signal that her conversation had ended. Zanzayed, somewhat to her surprise, was still with them, and it was he who spoke up before any of them could.

“You do realize he was hitting on you, right? You’re exactly his type, Trissiny.”

“Really, Zanzayed,” she sighed.

“Hey, you’re family! I wouldn’t lead you wrong. I’m serious, Puff absolutely does have a type, and it’s ‘Hand of Avei.’ He’s had seven of ‘em over the years.”

“The hell you say!” Shay Iraa exclaimed.

A silence fell over the chamber as the various dragonsworn present turned to stare at the rough-looking woman who had just sassed a dragon right to his face. Sister Shay was still glaring at Zanzayed, clearly not bothered by any of this. Trissiny was already beginning to like her.

“Yeah, they don’t teach you that, do they?” the blue rejoined, smirking. “You’ve got the rank to bully your way into the Sisterhood’s hidden archives; do it if you’re curious, Triss. But seriously, though. If you decide to pursue that, wait till you’re ready to settle down. Puff is a nice, old-fashioned, marriage-minded dragon. Don’t toy with his little heart.”

“Well, he did invite me to drop by,” she said. “Maybe I’ll come around sometime and see what other hilarious gossip you’ve accumulated over the millennia, cousin.”

Zanzayed grinned. “Always a pleasure. Do give Arachne my love.”

“If you keep trying to get a rise out of me, I’m gonna tell her you challenged her to a duel.”

“You are a horrible little wench,” the dragon chuckled, ruffling her hair. “You’d better come visit. We need to hang out more.”


“’Rebellion’ may have been overstating it, Lord-Captain, but you were still correct to bring this to me,” Ravana said, lowering the spyglass from her eye and handing it to Yancey. “Has this demonstration shown any signs of becoming violent?”

“No, my Lady,” he admitted. “There’s at least one Omnist monk in there, which is probably helping keep things calm. So far they’re just marching in a circle with those signs. But they’re blocking the factory’s main entrance, which is not doing FI any favors.” Yancey handed him the spyglass after having a look, and he raised it to his own face, which fell into a scowl as he studied the demonstrators. “Unwashed ingrates. If the young Mrs. Falconer and her wife want to slaughter idiots who tried to steal their dog, what business is it of theirs? It wasn’t even in Madouris.”

“You’re asking for whatever you get, fucking with somebody’s pets,” Veilwin opined, looking bored. “I’d’a just killed the bastards.”

“I pity any poor animal which has to depend on you for care,” Ravana said absently, herself frowning in the direction of the protest. It was sizable, already more than thirty people. She wouldn’t have thought there were that many people in the city who’d be willing to protest Falconer Industries, which was deservedly popular. If anything, they were risking retaliation from FI’s own employees, who had famously once squared off with Thieves’ Guild enforcers. The House Madouri guardsmen currently standing in a line in front of the closed gates were probably protecting the demonstrators as much as the factory, whether they knew it or not.

Yancey, as usual, echoed the direction of her own thoughts. “Several of those signs mention Vadrieny by name, my Lady. While not a secret, the archdemons have been absent from the mortal plane since the Hellwars; their names were reduced to obscure theological trivia before the founding of the Empire. It does not prove anything…”

“And yet,” she murmured in agreement.

“Madouris is prosperous under you,” Veilwin added, which may have been the closest thing to a compliment she had ever paid her employer. “And most of those yahoos look pretty well dressed. Takes a lot to get comfortably well-fed people out in the goddamn snow at mid-morning on a workday to march around chanting slogans. Especially over something that clearly doesn’t affect them at all.”

“I did wonder at the attempted kidnapping,” Ravana mused. “Apart from my expectation of better treatment from the Thieves’ Guild, such a fool’s gambit is unlike them. As a deliberate provocation, it makes more sense.”

“Give the word, my Lady,” Arivani urged grimly, “and I can have my men clear that rabble into cells where they belong.”

“No!” she barked, causing him to jerk back in surprise. His startled expression quickly morphed into near-hurt reproach before he mastered it.

Ravana took a breath of the chill air, reminding herself what she was dealing with. She employed Ludo Arivani because he believed the sun shone out of her skirts, because an administration such as hers which favored the velvet glove over the iron fist absolutely needed a high-ranking thug for situations in which its preferred approach would not do, and because it was generally advisable to keep a military commander who hadn’t the aptitude to organize a coup, even had he been inclined to try. Also, men like him came in useful in the event of regrettable situations in which a scapegoat needed to be discarded. All of this factored into her handling of him; it was for these reasons precisely that she had made it clear he was not to try to deal with civil unrest except under her direct oversight.

“I have made carefully-cultivated popularity a cornerstone of my rule,” she explained in a more moderate tone. “The damage caused to my reputation by engaging in the type of brutality for which my father was notorious would be catastrophic. That, I suspect, is at least part of the reason for this…episode.”

The Lord-Captain nodded, seeming mollified by the explanation. “I’ve got men under my command who’re good at knife work and listening in the dark, Lady Madouri. We can avoid more episodes like this if you’ll let me spread them through the city.”

“Madouris is not a sovereign state,” she said patiently. “I can have my own propaganda machine or my own secret police, and the one I chose is already pushing the Throne’s tolerance. If I tried to have that slice of cake and eat it too I would be set upon by the Veskers and Imperial Intelligence. I need neither headache, let alone both.”

And so she lacked convenient knives in the dark, as indeed Lord Vex would never tolerate that, but there was also the fact that her network of listeners spread through the province did not report to Arivani; he didn’t need that kind of influence. More immediately, those listeners had not forewarned her of this. A demonstration of this size could not be assembled in total silence. Thus, it had not sprung up organically. This had been orchestrated; the question was by whom?

“Veilwin,” she said, staring at the protesters through narrowed eyes, “can you work any kind of divination which would isolate members of that crowd who were set there as deliberate agitators, rather than the gullible sheep I must presume most of them to be?”

“Come on, you know better than that,” the sorceress said brusquely, ignoring Arivani’s displeased glare at her tone, “you study at Tellwyrn’s school. You’re talking about fae divination, not arcane scrying.”

“That is what I feared,” Ravana said with a sigh. “Then do you believe Barnes is competent to perform such a ritual?”

Veilwin snorted loudly. “That puffed-up—”

“Veilwin,” she interrupted in an unusually steely tone, “I put up with a great deal from you, and mean to continue so doing. In return, I expect the skills for which I generously compensate you to be available when I need them. It’s time to work. In your professional opinion, with no needless inter-disciplinary sniping, can Barnes do this?”

“Well…sure,” the elf said, her voice more subdued. “Any witch could, and…yeah, he’s better than most. But that’s contingent on the targets not having been warded against it, which when it comes to fae magic, well… That ends up being a pissing contest between Barnes and whoever’s at the other end, which there’s just no way to call in advance.”

Ravana nodded once.

Arivani opened his mouth to speak, but she held up one hand for silence, and he obediently subsided. She stared sightlessly out over the square ahead and the chanting individuals currently complaining about the violent archdemon in their midst, eyes shifting rapidly back and forth as she contemplated.

“Lord-Captain,” the Duchess said at last, “these…specially skilled soldiers you mentioned. Are there any among your command who could discreetly join that crowd, out of uniform and without revealing their affiliation, and agitate them to attack the factory?”

Veilwin turned an incredulous stare on her, which she ignored.

“I’ve just the man, my Lady,” Arivani said avidly. “Montrois used to do union-breaking work in Chevantre. That’s why he’s here, the local Vernisites set the Glassian Theives’ Guild after him and he had to leave the country. I’ve not had him train any of the other troops, my Lady, but he’s pointed out a few he thinks have the knack.”

“Splendid.” Finally, a stroke of luck. “This is what you will do, Lord-Captain Arivani. Send this Montrois into that crowd, along with whatever other personnel you and he deem competent for the task, forewarned to watch for a signal from you. Summon Barnes from the Manor and instruct him to be ready with whatever materials he needs to divine hostile intent; bring him here and have him stand by. Also, bring out as many medics from the House Guard as you can assemble, and place Barnes among them. Gather my lightcap artists and place them here and on other nearby rooftops, wherever they can get the best view of the action down there. Understood so far?”

“Yes, my Lady.”

“When all this is prepared, then you will give the signal to your men below, and get that crowd to try storming the gates. At the very least, have them attempt to attack the police forces in place and cause some property damage nearby. I want an abundant selection of lightcaps of these violent criminals in action ready for tomorrow’s papers, to discredit any further attempt at this utter nonsense. My people among the writing staffs will handle the rest. Give the cappers time to get enough shots before you intervene, and then put down the mob. No energy weapons or blades, make a show of restraint, but the more minor injuries inflicted, the better.”

He grinned wolfishly. “As you command, Lady Madouri.”

“And then,” she continued, turning to meet and hold his gaze, “take them to the medics. Understand? No jails, except in the case of any individuals who make it truly unavoidable. Use the chaos to separate your plants out from the crowd and treat everyone for injuries, then let them go—but not til Barnes has had the opportunity to scan everyone. He is to do so discreetly, passing it off as medical diagnosis. If he manages to identify any of the agitators, they are also to be released, as soon as he’s confident he can track them. When this is all done, I want a spectacle to be made of my restraint and mercy in the face of reprehensible violence by despicable ne’er-do-wells. Are my orders clear?”

“Explicitly, my Lady!” he promised, saluting.

“There is likely to be significant collateral damage, my Lady,” Yancey said diffidently, “and substantial risk to the factory and its personnel. Should we warn the Falconers?”

Ravana shook her head. “I know Geoffrey’s uses; they are many and I respect him for them, but they do not include subtlety. They can’t be brought into the loop.”

“The Falconers have been the victims in all this from the very beginning,” Veilwin pointed out with an edge to her voice.

“It is often said,” Ravana observed, “that to make an omelet one must break a few eggs. To rule is to make an endless succession of omelets while standing in the very henhouse. Explaining the process to the chickens would be not only pointless, but cruel. We will continue on our way, Veilwin. This day’s work is likely to bring the Throne’s attention, and I want numerous witnesses able to attest that I was on the other side of the province while it all happened. That means all of this will rest upon you, Lord-Captain Arivani. Hew closely to my instructions, improvising only what you must, and remember my ultimate goal.”

He saluted again, his eyes fervent. “I will not fail you, Lady Madouri.”

Ravana smiled and reached out to touch his arm, which undoubtedly made his entire week. “That is why entrust you with your position, Lord-Captain.”

That, and on the day when he did fail her, it shouldn’t be too hard to replace him.

< Previous Chapter                                                                                                  Next Chapter >

37 thoughts on “16 – 27

    1. In this one she’s not even plotting anything that the powerful in the supposed “free world” don’t do and get away with every year. If it’s a light enough offense that Presidents, Prime Ministers, Premiers, Governors and Mayors around the world can get away with it every time then this particular crime probably isn’t down to the standard of guillotine-worthy.

      I don’t argue with calling such people criminal scum though, or disagree that Ravana is a kind of person that the world needs to be better protected against.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Well I’m not comfortable with calling for a repeat of the French Revolution: A system of law and government that comes from unnecessary violence, and which accepts unnecessary violence, tends to produce even more violence. The Velvet Revolution is my first choice for how I’d like a revolution to work.

        Like

      1. Probably not be an autocratic noble? I mean as they go she’s certainly not the worst of them, especially by our world’s standards, but as long as she is the head of an anti-democratic system she’s a comfortable target for a guillotine.

        Like

      2. Fail, probably. She’s surrounded by dozens of fellow rulers who deserve to be shot where stand. If Ravana doesn’t deserve execution, she’s not doing her job.

        Like

      3. > fail
        > not be an autocratic noble

        This is what I find puzzling. She’s much better than the surrounding and she’s using the power she has to improve the lives of the people she can affect but somehow people want to guillotine her unless she fails. Why?

        You might dislike aristocratic systems of governance but this is the world she lives in: what’s wrong with doing the best with what she’s got?

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I did respect her quite a bit more before learning she employs strikebreakers. 😦 On the other hand, a personally moral-ish character who has an amoral position (autocratic ruler of a province) is very fun to read

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t think I could spin sabotaging a political demonstration to make it degenerate into a riot as a moral act by a moral person. Anybody who actually could, would, and does probably belongs on the list of people to be dealt with when (if) the revolution comes.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Eh, agent provocateur is hardly a new idea. It is an evil one, but not much of a stretch to think up.

      Fascinating that the noble who is scheming to get peaceful protesters into a huge fight where they are perceived to be at fault is the one the story is encouraging us to support.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s the point exactly; this whole story is about the frustrating complexity of morality as much as it’s about anything, hence Justinian being such an obvious protagonist if it’d been told from his viewpoint that Vesk had to make that the focus of an entire book. Ravana’s role has always been the Token Evil Teammate. I’m having a lot of fun finally getting to explore what unfolds when she’s off her leash and the other protagonists have to deal with the implications and consequences of their alliance with her.

        Liked by 9 people

  1. I’m actually curious about Puff. I wouldn’t put it past Zanza to be saying the truth, even if a relationship between a 20 years old (was it 20 or more?) and a multi-thousand year dragon seems a bit weird. I hope he’d at least wait a bit, even if waiting might allow us to have Trissiny/Gabriel, meaning he’s lost his chance.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to having Joe and McGraw back in the action! I love them, and it will be interesting to see their interaction with their new party members.

    It’s also pretty fortunate that the Conclave is open to helping with Justinian trouble. Let’s see what comes out of it.

    Thanks for the chapter, then c:

    Liked by 6 people

  2. …am I oblivious, or is Puff’s flirting just so oblique that people couldn’t be expected to recognize it unless you’ve known him for centuries like Zanzayed has? Because I didn’t recognize it, but I’m also notoriously bad at recognizing flirting so it could just be me. But on the *other* hand, that conversation was had in public, and the only person who picked up on any romantic/sexual interest at *all* was Zanzayed. Or at least, he was the only one who said anything.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I didn’t really pick up on anything either, except maybe a little at the end of the conversation. It would be kind of fitting though. From what little we know of Puff, and dragons in general, Triss does seem like the type a gold dragon in particular might be interested in. As for Zanzayed just trying to get a rise out of her, you can get more mileage from telling the truth sometimes, but it’s hard to say for sure with that type of character.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Betcha anything Puff plays the long game, re: flirting, and Zanza is just one of the only people who’s been alive/around Puff long enough to see how it starts.

        Liked by 7 people

      2. I’m sure a thousands year old dragon has mastered the art of “grooming” a woman into a relationship over a period of time and has the patience to do so over months/years/decades even. Game Theory over that time frame isn’t something humans would be expert at seeing in real time.

        Liked by 4 people

    2. It wasn’t very direct (ha), but he first put her a little off balance, then moved the conversation into a form she would be more conferable in. Sort of showed he could be a problem (in a way that he sort of had the right to be), but then turned around and was helpful and sympathetic.

      Sort of the first move to becoming friends. And depending how he did that, it could be flirty – that’s hard to get across in writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I suspect this is a Justinian trap for Ravana. Even if it isn’t, I’m disappointed in her for not being more wary that she’s being baited into this exact move: Strike-breaking and false flag, fake demonstrators are common enough things we have words for them (like “agents provocateur” or “agitators”). Didn’t Ravana just piss in Justinian’s breakfast very recently by declaring Ingvar’s splinter sect the legitimate Shaathists in the general area of Tiraas? Not considering the possibility that Justinian is aware of the connection between Ravana and Teal, and also that he may have broad, deep, subtle and wildly various resources for leading his enemies into traps, seems unwise.

    Like

    1. To steal a line from All Night Laundry, there’s this playground game of “I know you know that I know you know I know…” until somebody runs out of breath or patience. At some point, you need to just make your move and see if you win this round.

      Like

  4. They should just let Vadrieny drop like a meteor in the middle of the protest and keep doing it everytime there’s a protest. Thins out the idiots from the population.

    Like

    1. Yeah, but the manipulated idiots are protected by law, so it’s illegal to kill them even if everyone in power were to know that this event was a scheme to cause trouble. They haven’t yet done anything explicitly illegal, using lethal force against them would be wrong.

      Like

  5. So, finally caught up after binging the whole saga… on the one hand, now I have to wait for more episodes, on the other I can comment! I will be tossing in a few lengthier comments over time, but for now I’ll just offer a quote that’s very relevant to both the Eserites’ role, and actions like Duchess Ravana responding to provocateurs:

    “If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hello, all. I come with unfortunate tidings.

    While I started this week with the optimistic hope of knocking out another three-update cycle, I’m afraid it’s gone in the opposite direction. It has been a really bad couple of mental health days, depression wise. The extra time from missing Monday ironically helped me plan out the next three chapters better than I had them originally outlined, but I’ve got bad brain static that’s wrecking my concentration, plus a case of the depressives that’s manifested as physical lethargy as if I’d just run a marathon. That’s not one of my more common symptoms, but it’s one I’ve had from time to time, so I don’t see cause for alarm; it’s within the parameters of my established bipolar experience. But it is not fucking helping right now.

    It gets better: first thing tomorrow morning I have a dentist appointment for an extraction. I’ve had these done before; it’s not, like, major surgery or anything, but it’s likely to leave me wiped out for a day or so, and that’s assuming it goes well. The only real complication I’ve ever had from such a thing is dry socket, which while painful as fuck is not a crisis and something the dentist can fix pretty quick. My dentist is within walking distance of my apartment, so I’m not worried.

    The upshot of all this folderol is a destroyed update schedule for this week, and I am really sorry about that. Staring down the barrel right now, I’m forced to moderate my expectations. At the moment, I’m gonna focus on getting Friday’s funded chapter out. If my situation improves (which I can never fucking predict, my whole brain is haywire) I may be able to crank out a double update for Friday! If not, I’ll start another “missed chapters” tab on the update page and catch that up next week.

    I appreciate how patient y’all always are with my various nonsense. I’ll do my best to make sure the story continues to be worth waiting for, as I’m able to get it produced.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Allow me to join the chorus of “take the time you need”. My own mental health issues aren’t nearly as bad as yours, and I don’t have an effing ongoing masterpiece to show for it, but even I’ve learned that you do what you can, and self-care comes first.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This story is compelling enough that I’m sure we’d all prefer that you husband your strength and resources carefully and put out chapters you’re happy with rather than burning yourself out with over work. Take the time you need to rest and recover man, we’ll still be here when you get back.

    Like

Comments are closed.