8 – 20

< Previous Chapter                                                                                                                           Next Chapter >

Addiwyn pushed open the dormitory door and stalked through as usual, making a beeline for her own room without pausing to engage with anyone present. This time, however, she paused, half-turning to peer through narrowed eyes at Szith.

The drow stood alone against the front wall, between the room’s two doors. Her posture appeared relaxed, but she was just…standing, doing apparently nothing. None of the other freshman girls were present.

“What are you doing?” Addiwyn demanded suspiciously.

“Waiting,” Szith said in perfect calm.

“Waiting for what?”

Szith looked over at her, raising one eyebrow. After a moment, Addiwyn snorted disdainfully and entered her own room, slamming the door behind her.

Half a minute later, she came storming back out, stomping right up to Szith and glaring murderously.

“I suppose you think you’re clever,” the elf snarled.

“Compared to whom?”

Addiwyn bared her teeth. “What have you done with my things?”

“I haven’t touched anything of yours.”

“All right, fine. Very amusing. We can do this all night, bitch. Where are they?”

“By ‘they,’” Szith asked mildly, “are you referring to your belongings, or the rest of our roommates?”

“I’ve got a funny feeling those two questions have the same answer!”

“Why are you so hostile?” Szith inquired.

“Is that a joke?” Addiwyn snapped. “You’re holding my entire wardrobe hostage and you want to ask why I’m hostile?”

“You know very well what I mean,” the drow said with inexorable calm. “If all you wanted was to be left alone, you could have had that easily. Your words and actions create a stark disconnect, Addiwyn. If you are so disinterested in us, why go so far out of your way, risking the consequences you have, to cause us all hurt?”

“I will see you rotting in your grave before I deign to explain myself to you, darkling,” the elf said venomously.

Szith raised an eyebrow. “If it were just me, I doubt I would even wonder. Yet you’ve attacked every one of the others, and I know your people are not at war with humanity or the gnomes. There is no logic to your actions, and it is beginning to grow disturbing.”

“Good,” Addiwyn sneered. “Be disturbed. Now where. Are. My. Clothes?”

“I am trying to get through to you,” Szith persisted, “because if I do not, you’ll have to deal with Ravana. Not knowing what you want or intend, she is of the opinion that you represent an actual threat to our well-being, and will address you accordingly.”

“I really cannot stress enough how little I fear the wrath of that stuck-up porcelain doll.”

“Then you fail to comprehend what you are dealing with,” Szith said, a sharp edge entering her tone. “And for your information, I don’t believe she understands restraint in dealing with her opponents. The consequences for challenging House Madouri would be significant.”

“I’m getting tired of this, Szith.”

“As am I,” the drow shot back. “Whatever you may believe, I am trying to help you, and all of us. Just explain, Addiwyn. We only want to understand.”

Addiwyn curled her lip contemptuously. “Why don’t you just be a good little lackey and lead the way to your mistress?”

Szith held her stare for a long moment, then sighed very softly and shook her head. “As you wish.”


 

Among the campus’s numerous nooks and hideaways was a shadowed grove along the east wall, at the middle terrace. Ronald Hall rose above, but had not been built against the actual wall of the campus—nor, for whatever reason, had the terrace itself. The result of this was a small alcove, about nine yards square, buried beneath the terrace wall and the perimeter wall, which lurked in deep shadow, accessible only from one direction. There was no paving or furniture, nothing placed there to indicate it had been intended for use, but it did have a carpet of dense brown clover, several fluffy little bushes and even three small trees of a thick, twisted shape, all species from the Deep Wild which thrived beneath the shadows of the thick canopy. They did quite well in this dark little nook.

Needless to say, it was popular among students for a variety of purposes. Thanks to Stew’s industriousness, the area remained clean no matter what took place there. Relatively clean, at least.

Despite the brief time they had been on campus, Addiwyn apparently knew the spot well enough to recognize the goal of their trek and pull ahead of Szith once they rounded the corner under Ronald Hall, pausing only to sneer at the drow in passing. Szith continued without altering her speed, or her expression, and arrived a few moments after the girl she was escorting.

Addiwyn came to a stop just within the shade of the little nook, planting her fists on her hips and glaring.

The largest of the twisted trees stood along the back wall of the square nook, slightly off-center. It was a little taller than an average male elf, its thick, spiraling trunk sprouting stubby branches with patchy leaves the color of mold—never an impressive sight at the best of times. Now, it was festooned with skirts, blouses and undergarments like some kind of deranged solstice tree.

Iris stood next to the tree, arms folded, looking smug. Maureen sat upon the small lip of stone at the base of Ronald Hall, some ten feet above, kicking her legs idly. A folding stool had been set up in the center of the nook, and Ravana perched upon this, her spine straight, a faint smile playing about her lips.

“Good evening, Addiwyn,” she said politely.

“My interest in you trollops and your hogwash is at an all-time low,” Addiwyn snarled. “Haul your gangly ass out of my way and I will consider not bringing this to Tellwyrn’s attention.”

“From what I understand of Professor Tellwyrn’s educational ‘talks,’” Ravana said idly, “you are in no position to be carrying complaints to her and won’t be for a while. Indeed, she has a long history of using students of the Unseen University to educate, control and even discipline one another. Quite elegant, really, and more subtle than her reputation would suggest. Of course, there is really no other way she could keep control over this particular student body.”

“I do not have time for—”

“Much as I usually enjoy verbal fencing, let us skip past the obligatory time-wasting, shall we?” Ravana daintily crossed her legs and folded her hands in her lap. “After your persistent, unprovoked, and utterly demented campaign of harassment against your roommates, you will receive no sympathy from the University’s administration or our house mother at finding yourself facing a much gentler version of the same treatment. You have no notable magical skill, and physically? You’re probably not a match for Maureen, definitely not for Szith, and most assuredly not for both. Your father the merchant may be able to buy you out of the little intrigues you created back home, but his fortunes compared to those of my House are a candle against the sun. In short, Addiwyn, you have nothing with which to threaten us. Therefore, if you wish the return of your things, you will discuss whatever we wish. And you will do so politely.”

“I am going to walk past you and collect my clothes,” Addiwyn said flatly. “And if any of you lays one finger on my person to stop me, you’ll be in front of Tellwyrn for assault, and find out how much less sense of humor she has about that than practical jokes.”

She strode forward, coming nearly abreast of Ravana before Iris spoke.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you.”

Iris shifted slightly, moving a step closer to the tree, and abruptly a half-ring of light sprang up around its roots, terminating against the back wall. The entire tree shuddered as if in a breeze, then moved further, its trunk actually twisting faintly. Wood groaned softly, a faint floral scent arose from midair, and there came a tiny, sourceless puff of wind.

Addiwyn froze, her eyebrows drawing together in consternation. Behind her, Szith moved silently into the nook and took up a position against one wall.

“Were you aware that our Miss Domingue is a witch of some skill?” Ravana asked pleasantly. “I was not. Really, it is quite impressive, what she is able to do with trees and plants. If you are concerned at all for the condition of your belongings, I really do suggest that you don’t attempt to touch them until you are told that you may.”

“You’re a contemptible little shit,” Addiwyn said flatly, turning to her.

“That is true,” Ravana said, still wearing a polite smile. “But I am also a clever, powerful little shit, and you have entirely consumed your allotment of my patience. Now, Addiwyn, shall we have that conversation?”

“You know,” Addiwyn said, a tiny little smile quirking her lips, “none of this is going to make Daddy love you.”

Ravana gazed at her in silence for a long moment, her expression altering not a hair. Then she drummed her fingers once against her leg.

“What are you doing, Addiwyn?”

Addiwyn folded her arms. “Waiting for you to finish your pitiful little drama.”

“It is your pitiful little drama that concerns us here,” Ravana said calmly. “None of us have done anything to provoke you until now, and yet you seem willing to defy all reason and the boundaries of civilized society in order to cause us grief. You risk increasingly serious punishment and seemingly disdain the preservation of your own well-being to attack us. And if you were a lunatic out for blood, that would at least be consistent. Yet for all your totally disproportionate aggression, it seems you can manage nothing but contemptibly juvenile pranks. It is puzzling.”

“Or,” Addiwyn suggested, “maybe it all makes perfect sense, and you’re just stupid.”

“I don’t think you get it,” said Iris. “You’re not getting your stuff back or leaving here until we have this out, bitch.”

“Iris,” Ravana said with gentle reproof, “let us not be needlessly offensive.”

Iris curled her lip contemptuously. “Why not? She is.”

“That is precisely why, my dear. Ideally we can all come to an understanding and put these hostilities behind us, but if Miss Addiwyn will not oblige us even to that extent, we ought at least to retain the moral high ground.”

Addiwyn looked pointedly at her clothes festooning the twisted tree. “Good job.”

“Really, though,” said Maureen from atop the ledge, “what has gotten up yer bum that makes ye light into us the way you have?”

“It really is a simple enough question,” added Ravana. “All we seek is a little understanding. With that done we can all be finished with this absurdity.”

“All right, enough already!” Addiwyn snapped. “You’ve had your fun, got a little of your own back. Let’s just call it even, agree to a truce and go our separate ways. Fair?”

Ravana shook her head slowly. “At issue, Addiwyn, is the cause of your irrational, aggressive behavior. To be perfectly frank, I am concerned about our well-being. So long as I have to sleep in a complex with a belligerent unknown quantity, the prospect of waking up with a slit throat is not unthinkable.”

Addiwyn stared at her. “You…actually think I’m going to kill you? Woman, are you utterly daft?”

Ravana tilted her head to one side. “I understand your adoptive family are human, Addiwyn. How familiar are you with elvish culture? With the language?”

“My personal history is in no way any concern of yours, you little goblin.”

“Do you understand what the term anth’auwa means?”

Addiwyn jerked back from her, eyes widening. In the next moment, they narrowed to slits. “You are very close to crossing a line.”

Ravana shrugged. “Then convince me otherwise. Explain yourself. You must have reasons.”

The elf stepped closer, leaning forward till her face was less than a foot from Ravana’s, and spoke in an icily quiet tone. “You don’t know me. You will not know me, and you don’t need to know me. I am done with this idiocy. Take yourself out of my way, and give me back my clothes, Madouri. Now.”

They locked eyes in silence. The other three girls looked on, Iris and Maureen frowning, Szith apparently without expression.

“One last time, Addiwyn,” Ravana said quietly. “Answer the question. Why?”

“I have made my final offer,” Addiwyn replied. “Drop this, leave me alone, and we can have peace.”

“Peace is a lie,” said Szith. “There is no peace in you. Show us the root of your belligerence, convince us it’s over. Then we can drop this.”

Addiwyn looked up at her, curled her lip in a sneer, then stepped back from Ravana. She planted herself firmly in the middle of the space, folded her arms, and just stared.

Ravana sighed softly. “Well. Let the record show we attempted to do this the civil way.”

“While the record has been brought up,” Szith said evenly, “let me reiterate that I believe the matter ought to end here.”

“So noted,” Ravana said, turning to nod to her. “Iris, if you would?”

“You asked for it,” Iris said with a note of satisfaction, then knelt, grasped something hidden amid the clover, and abruptly straightened, flinging her arm out to the side. The glowing semicircle surrounding the twisted tree went flying with it, the braided cord that had formed it flicking through the air and sending up a cloud of faintly luminous dust.

A deep, low groan filled the air, and the tree began to move.

It slowly pivoted around itself, its twisting trunk seemingly trying to straighten out. Branches jerked, then flexed, setting the clothes draped on them to swaying. With a soft rumble, it tilted to one side, roots popping loose from the ground.

“You seem fond of practical jokes, Addiwyn,” Ravana said calmly. “We thought we might show you how to properly perform one.”

Staring in fascinated horror at the rising tree, Addiwyn took two reflexive steps backward from it, toward the path out of the nook.

The tree leaned back the other way, wrenching the remainder of its root system free from the earth, its trunk flexing back and forth with a crunching of bark. Branches cracked, bending sharply at specific points.

Ravana slipped quietly from her perch, pacing across the enclosed space to stand alongside Szith.

Iris was busy wrapping the still-glowing cord around a small doll she had taken from within the loose sleeve of her dress. Finally knotting it off, she held it up to her face and whispered, “Awake.”

The tree twitched once, shuddered, and suddenly cracks opened in its bark. Two limbs rearranged themselves.

A yawning knot opened in the middle of the trunk, below two horizontal (but uneven) cracks which flexed wide, knocking loose fragments of bark. The matched pair of limbs flexed their furthest extremities—like fingers. Suddenly, its shape held meaning. It had a face, arms, and grasping hands. A low groan emerged from deep within the tree, this time very clearly coming from the single, now-gaping knothole. From its mouth.

“What have you done?” Addiwyn whispered.

“It’s called an entling!” Iris said, beaming in pride. “Isn’t it adorable?”

The entling shook its arms, causing Addiwyn’s skirts and blouses to flutter, and groaned again.

“Oh, and by the way,” Iris added sweetly, “it has your scent. Ah, ah!” she added as Addiwyn took a rapid step backward. “I would not do that. It’s curious, see—your smell is part of the magic animating it, so it’ll be irresistibly drawn to you. Best not to make it chase you, though. If it burns too much energy and needs to replace some, well… There’s a thin line between ‘drawn’ and ‘hungry.’”

“You’re all insane,” Addiwyn breathed, staring at the entling in horror. It began shambling toward her on its groping roots.

Behind her, Maureen suddenly stood and jumped off the ledge. She plunged ten feet straight down, landing right in the thick bush positioned below her, which exploded under the impact, spraying a thick blast of greenish liquid into the middle of the nook, misting Ravana’s sleeve but practically dousing Addiwyn. A sharp, citrusy smell suddenly hung in the air.

The elf shrieked in startlement, leaping straight up and whirling around to glare at the gnome, who was already struggling backward out of the bush, dragging a hefty apparatus that had been hidden therein.

“What the hell?!” Addiwyn squawked. “What is wrong with you people?”

“You’ve used a perfume spritzer, aye?” Maureen said cheerfully, brushing leaves off the device and turning to face the soaked elf with a grin. It appeared to consist of a mess of hoses and brass tanks connected to a huge rubber bladder and a thick nozzle set on a tripod. “Or at least seen one? This is basically that, on a somewhat larger scale. Remarkably simple t’put together! Oh, an’ the stuff in there, we got that from Professor Rafe. Jus’ like the purple ink!”

“Except we had to be a little sneakier about this stuff,” Iris said smugly. “It’s not the kind of thing a professor would let students play around with. It’s basically…bait. For fairy creatures. Makes things smell irresistible to them.”

Addiwyn broke off trying vainly to wring the thick, lime-scented fluid out of her blouse, straightening up, her eyes widening.

Even with all her elven agility, she wasn’t fast enough.

The entling, despite its previously ponderous movements, lashed out with both arms faster than a striking cobra. They extended to twice their length in an eyeblink and grasped Addiwyn by the shoulders, hiking her bodily off the ground. She yelped and kicked, struggling vainly against the summoned creature’s grip.

“I really would be quiet,” Iris advised. “You’re already appetizing twice over to him, you know. Best not make too much noise, or squirm around, or do anything that’ll agitate him. He’s a newborn, y’see, and will be wanting a meal.”

“Have you all lost your minds?” Addiwn squalled, flailing furiously with her legs.

The entling groaned again, more loudly than before, then lifted her up over its center of mass and abruptly lowered her, stuffing her flailing feet into its suddenly gaping mouth.

“Told you,” Iris said with a shrug.

“Help!” Addiwyn shrieked.

The entling shoved her farther down, her legs disappearing up to the knees in its trunk.

“I can make him be still for a bit,” Iris said idly, “but you’ll need to be still for it to work.”

Addiwyn froze, wide-eyed with panic and quivering.

“Attagirl,” Iris said with a fiendish grin, and held up the little doll before her face again. “Calm,” she whispered to it, stroking its head.

The entling emitted a deep, contented rumble from around Addiwyn’s feet, but stopped shoving her downward.

“Now, then!” Ravana said brightly. “Shall we resume our discussion?”

“You are completely insane,” Addiwyn whispered, staring at her in horror.

Ravana shrugged. “I was raised in a disgusting degree of privilege with a regrettable dearth of affection. It tends to warp a person. What’s your excuse?”

“All right, I have to register an objection,” Szith said rather sharply. “I understood that the plan here was to intimidate her, which in frankness I only consented to so as to present myself as a moderating influence. This verges on torture. I think you should release her, Iris.”

“Oh, come now,” Ravana chided, “we are so close to reaching an accord. As you can see, my dear Addiwyn, we can play jokes, too. The difference is, we have considerable resources and the will to exert them beyond childish sabotage. Are you at least convinced to cease your own campaign?”

“Help,” Addiwyn whispered.

“I would still prefer a diplomatic solution,” Ravana said in perfect calm. “But if you decline to oblige, we can begin by establishing that your continued aggression will lead only to—”

“HELP!” Addiwyn howled.

Iris flicked the doll’s head with her finger. The entling grunted in displeasure and shoved the elf a few inches deeper into its maw. She squeaked and froze again.

“If this does not cease immediately,” Szith said sharply, “I will be forced to insist.”

“Aye, I’m startin’ ta be in agreement,” Maureen said nervously. “Iris, ye described this as a prank. She looks scared half t’death, there.”

“I think she can only benefit from knowing what it feels like,” Iris said grimly.

“We are undoubtedly in violation of numerous campus rules as it is,” Szith stated, “simply by virtue of this being an extravagantly cruel action. I am all for displaying strength, but it should be done with restraint.”

“She looks plenty restrained to me,” Iris said.

“It seems we’ve a difference of opinion, then,” Ravana mused. “Well, Addiwyn, rather than encourage further discord within the ranks, I’m inclined to oblige my friends and call a halt to this.”

“Aw,” Iris complained, frowning.

“On the other hand,” Ravana continued, “we can hardly afford to back down without gaining some concessions. That’s simple politics. Have you anything to add?”

“Tellwyrn is going to skin you imbeciles alive!” Addiwyn grated.

Ravana shrugged. “Do you imagine that is news to me? Now you understand that you are not the only one willing to face consequences in order to strike at an enemy. It would seem the difference between us is that our enmity has been earned.”

A soft giggle sounded. They all froze, then turned toward the front of the shaded nook.

Full dark had fallen over the campus, but thanks to its omnipresent fairy lamps, a dim light prevailed even in the middle of the night. Now, a black silhouette stood between the freshmen and the exit from their secluded nest—a silhouette surmounted by slowly twitching triangular ears. Eyes gleamed an eerie green in the dimness.

“Well,” a silken voice purred. “What have we here?”

“P-professor Ekoi!” Addiwyn spluttered. “I’m being murdered! Get them off me!”

“Mmmurdered?” Ekoi’s ears twitched once more and she angled her head to one side. “You’re being manhandled, you silly thing. Entlings do not eat. Your feet have reached the bottom of that trunk. It can’t do more than push you in, and can’t push much farther than you already are. Someone has been pulling your little leg.”

Addiwyn blinked, then blinked again, then her expression of fear slowly melted into a deep scowl. She twisted as far as she could in the entling’s grasp to glare at Iris. “Oh, you vicious, snub-eared little whore!”

“Ah, well,” Ravana said resignedly. “It was a good trick while it lasted.”

“It’s…it’s just a bit of fun, Professor,” Iris said nervously. “We were just scaring her a bit. Nobody’s in any real danger… I mean, you know that, surely.”

“I would have appreciated knowing that beforehand,” Szith said sharply.

“Nobody’s in danger?” Ekoi mused, gliding forward a couple of steps. Her luminous eyes suddenly seemed excessively wide in her shadowed face. “You think not?”

A tense silence fell, in which the girls glanced uncertainly at each other and even Addiwyn stopped struggling against the entling.

“Professor?” Szith said carefully. “Are you quite all right?”

Professor Ekoi moved closer, languidly holding up one hand. A palm-sized orb of blue fire burst alight in her grip, then slowly drifted away to float aimlessly through the air around the stilled entling. In its eerie illumination, they could finally see her expression. Her eyes were insanely wide, her mouth stretched in a grin that displayed a great many very shiny teeth. As they stared, she slowly licked her lips.

“Tell me,” the kitsune all but whispered, “what is that absolutely delicious scent?”

“Oh, bugger,” Maureen mumbled.

“Iris?” Ravana said, a note of tension in her voice for the first time.

“It’s—it’s just a floral p-perfume,” Iris stuttered. “C’mon, it’s not really fairy pheromones, that’s…that’s ridiculous. There’s no such…”

“It’s been just so long,” Ekoi crooned, “so long since I’ve had a proper hunt. The taste of fresh prey, so delicately seasoned…”

“Ah, Professor,” Ravana said carefully, “I think perhaps—”

Ekoi moved faster than even an elven eye could follow, flickering around behind Ravana and wrapping both arms around the girl. One hand gripped Ravana’s slender neck, tiny claws pressing against the pulse in her throat.

“Why,” the Professor cooed, “you reek of it, delicious little morsel.”

“Professor, I believe you should release her,” Szith said, drawing her sword.

Ekoi’s gleaming eyes flicked to the drow. “Why, Miss An’sadarr, why ever are you holding that sssssssnake?”

Szith gasped; the serpent whose tail was in her hand twisted around to hiss menacingly at her. She flung it away, hopping backward.

Her sword landed in a bush on the opposite side of the space, eliciting a yelp from Maureen, who stood uncomfortably close.

“Professor,” Ravana whispered, wide-eyed and trembling, “please unhand me.”

“Arachne won’t miss one,” Ekoi murmured, her tongue darting out to flick across Ravana’s cheek. She glanced slyly around the group. “Or four. Or five.”

“You unspeakable bloody idiots,” Addiwyn rasped. “I wish I had wanted to kill you!”

“How was I supposed to know!” Iris babbled. “It was supposed to be a fake perfume, how could it possibly—”

A sharp pop sounded, and suddenly the space was flooded with brilliant white light.

Professor Tellwyrn stood at the mouth of the nook, a blazing globe of light hovering over her head.

“Kaisa,” she said flatly, “what did I tell you about eating the students?”

Ekoi pouted, loosening her grip on Ravana. “I know, I know. Not until they graduate.”

“There is no circumstance in which you should be fondling one of your pupils quite that intimately, Kaisa. Step back.”

“Oh, pooh,” the kitsune said sullenly, abruptly shoving Ravana away. “You’re no fun.”

Ravana immediately skittered to the opposite side of the nook, pressing herself against the wall.

Tellwyrn turned her gaze on Addiwyn. “Miss Domingue, do I even need to say it?”

Iris gulped heavily, then lifted the doll to her face with a trembling hand. “R-release,” she whispered.

The entling grumbled softly, but lifted Addiwyn carefully from its mouth and set her feet down on the ground, then finally let go.

The freed elf instantly bolted away, zipping around to hide behind Professor Tellwyrn.

“Kaisa,” Tellwyrn said calmly, “I need to borrow these…delightful little scamps for a bit. Can you put that damned thing back the way it was? And perhaps return Addiwyn’s clothing to her room?”

“Can I?” Professor Ekoi asked, tilting her head inquisitively and peering upward as if in thought. “Why…yes, I do believe I can. Is that really the requisite question here, Arachne?”

Tellwyrn heaved a sigh. “Why do you insist on being difficult?”

“Why must the sun rise in the east? It’s just so arbitrary, don’t you think?”

“Ugh. Fine, go tell Stew to straighten all this up.”

“We weren’t going to hurt her,” Iris said tremulously. “It was just a—”

“Domingue,” Tellwyrn said flatly, “shut up.”

Another, louder pop echoed through the space, and suddenly Tellwyrn and all five students were gone.

The entling twisted in place, the clothes festooning its branches swaying, and let out a guttural mumble that sounded almost inquisitive.

Ekoi Kaisa examined it thoughtfully for a moment, then smiled. Humming to herself, she turned and strolled casually away, her bushy tail waving behind her.

< Previous Chapter                                                                                                                          Next Chapter >

34 thoughts on “8 – 20

  1. Good lord, I am wiped. Still dealing with residual flu symptoms (and royally sick of them). Bleh… Bed for me. Have a great weekend, everybody, and join us Monday morning as usual.

    Like

  2. Huh, I find myself really liking Addiwyn. There’s something about her pure stubborn determination. Her roommates, on the other hand… Meh.

    Like

      1. Except, is it baseless? Like Ravana said, it’s extremely rare for people to be Joker-style psychopaths ie. ones that do literally whatever they want, with absolutely no regard for the consequences). If Addiwyn was like thought, I doubt Tellwyrn would’ve let her in.

        Her reason may or may not be a good one, but it exists.

        Like

  3. Ooh, now this is interesting. Addiwyn is an interspecies adoptee. My first wild thought was that she’s another Cobalt Dawn survivor–I have a hard time imagining that humans adopting elves is terribly common, regardless.

    I hope you feel better soon, Webb!

    Like

    1. Her situation is certainly odd enough to explain why she has some very unhealthy views (if she was raised by humans with nothing but human children… guess who probably the main target of teasing was?). But, until now, I don’t think she really thought too long and hard about what being on campus meant about her fellow students. Not to mention the teachers.:/

      Like

  4. My theory hinges on how old Addiwyn is. She’s an Elf. The live forever, but heal and mature slower. She could be in her mid-thirties, for all we know.

    How many human friends didn’t just leave her behind, but effectively turned on her?

    Like

  5. i find myself lacking a useful response besides the sotto voce option:

    “now, if you ask me, this is shaping up to be a psychologically combustible situation.”

    Like

  6. Well… that was certainly an unexpected way for this to play out. I’m willing to bet that Tellwyrn won’t put up with Addiwyn’s reticence to share, even if her roommates were torturing her for the information. That said, I’m distinctly displeased with Ravana and disappointed in Maureen and Szith.

    I already didn’t like Ravana, just because she’s the type of person in real life that I would go out of my way to be cordial to in person while not befriending them (a tact I hope Maureen and Szith adopt thanks to this display of needless cruelty), and this just sealed my dislike of her as a person. She is now a character that I love to hate. Like… Rimmer Dal from the Heritage of Shannara series. She’s a terrible person but a WONDERFUL character.

    Szith, at least, I think will be far more stand-offish than her other dorm-mates, not just because of being from the Soldier house, but also because growing up in a culture where “spider-box” is a legitimate punishment hopefully put her in a mind-set where doing the kind of thing that just happened is a negative in her mind. Maureen… I’m not sure how she’ll react as we don’t know a /ton/ about Gnomish culture yet, but I still hope she has enough common sense to not put herself under Ravana’s patronage… er… matronage. It’d be a bad influence on the dear. Ideally, both of them would become added parts of the main cast of students party – another good warrior for Triss to depend on and a clever mechanist to augment and compliment the skills Fross and Gabe bring. We’ll see.

    Glad to hear that you’re starting to feel better, DD Webb. Hope this weekend proves restful for you.

    Like

    1. Tellwyrn might already know why Addiwyn is so insanely aggressive. She lacks the excuse of being a paranoid noble, but there’s at least one other thing in-universe which causes aggression of various sorts: infernal magic as a part of you. It can have various outlets depending on the person/demon type, not all of which are violent. And there has to be some reason Addiwyn’s here if she has no remarkable skills at fighting or magic.

      Like

  7. I really found Ekoi’s appearance incredibly creepy. Fairies tends to be the most alien of the races, and even though it may be due to vastly different upbringings, it still makes their motivations unpredictable enough to be unsettling.

    Like

    1. And I was just saying a few chapters back that it was fortunate for the kids that she’s not a kumiho! It looks like she might be a fox fairy of the older tradition anyway, which more closely resemble kumiho than any other modern incarnation–dangerous, clever, vicious spirits with a taste for human flesh. Personally I like this better, it’s more interesting, and less common in contemporary fantasy, which tends to represent fox spirits as sexy more often than legitimately threatening.

      Like

      1. Ah, never heard of the term kumiho before, though it seems really interesting when I googled it. I think most contemporary fiction spoils my appetite for fox spirits somewhat as they focus too much on the seductress aspect instead of the feral one. Arachne’s in for a tough time keeping Ekoi in line.

        Like

  8. I am of the opinion that Ekoi was just pranking them. She is kitsune after all.
    As for what’s up with Addiwyn I have no idea. One possible explanation is that she really does not care about the group but is blackmailed/ordered but somebody else to pester them.
    Ravana’s reaction is somewhat strange too. “I don’t understand you therefore maybe you are planning to kill me” sounds sensible but actually isn’t. So I still find her a little suspicious.
    And yeah, why did nobody explain to Szith the nature of ents. That kind of ruined the plan. Then again Addiwyn has almost reached the bottom of the hole anyway.

    Oh, btw I think I this is my first comment here, so… em, you have a new reader!

    Like

    1. Well, when you belong to a feudalesque nobility, “I don’t understand you therefore maybe you are planning to kill me” actually is kind of sensible. Generally speaking, killing off rivals and forming factions is fairly common in such societies and if you remember her father and brother were plotting treason. So if they knew she knew and wasn’t planning on joining them, they probably would have killed her. So to me it seems reasonable that if you don’t know someone’s motive in that environment, especially when they offer you aggression like that, they very well could be planning to kill you.

      Not saying it excuses her actions, just that I can understand them.

      Like

      1. If somebody was planning murder from the beginning they would not start with harassment. She already said that Addiwyn does not seem insane. Sure it could escalate, but most probably it would not. I mean most dormitory squabbles don’t end up in murder. And the statement itself is just illogical. “I don’t understand you therefore tomorrow you could take up gardening” makes as much sense. That is none. “She hates us, therefore she could kill us” is the argument she is actually making. Except there is no proof for that.
        I would understand if she said, “I want to get back at her”, but then she would lose the high ground. I would understand if she said “I want to understand why she hates us” but that would not require such drastic measures. Instead she made the argument she did.
        She could believe what she says and act out of paranoia. But similarly it could be that she is using faulty logic to manipulate others into helping her with this. Therefore I am suspicious.

        Like

  9. Great chapter, here. Lots of characters clashing in an intriguing way – and in the process, highlighting both flaws and potential for greatness.
    I’m still not quite 100% sure that Addiwyrn is not being framed by someone else, but in either case, she has an iron will. Ravana once again shows that she is a very capable leader and I think she is a social creature at heart, not just playing the game – but she needs to learn some restraint and compassion, and she is apparently self-reflected enough to be somewhat aware of that. Definitely a character with a lot of story waiting to happen. Concerning Szith, i just have to say, whatever their methods are, this drow culture is producing a lot of very capable and moral adults. It is very, very hard to speak up against your own group’s action in a charged situation like this, and she does it seemingly without hesitation once she thinks a line has been crossed.

    Kaisa Ekoi is an utterly intriguing character as well – going for Ravana like that, she is replicating the situation the students put Addiwyrn in almost exactly – being in apparently life-threatening danger without hope of outside intervention, while in fact not endangering her in the slightest. Also her going directly for the right person immediately suggests she either has been watching for a time, or what is more likely in my opinion, she is very much aware of the dynamics between those particular students and thought up a way to perhaps teach Ravana a lesson in restraint on her feet. I am looking foward to learn more about her, and see her interact with others.

    Thank you for your consistently great work, and get well soon!

    Like

  10. Typos:

    “By ‘they,’”
    (should the closing single quote go inside the comma?)
    “By ‘they’,”

    hostile?”
    (the closing quote is in italics also – is this deliberate?)

    eyeblink
    (usually)
    eye blink

    Addiwn
    Addiwyn

    Reactions:

    I can’t figure out if Ekoi’s behavior is an act, real, or something in between. She may be playing a long game with Arachne. In any case, she pulled the perfect prank reversal on the pranksters.

    Addiwyn’s use of ‘snub-eared’ as an insult seems to be telling. It is a distinct reversal of of the ‘knife-ear’ insult humans use on elves. Interesting that she is adopted – perhaps her demeanor got her thrown out of her clan, or they wouldn’t raise a half-elf. In any case, my guess as to her behavior still stands (https://tiraas.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/8-16/comment-page-1/#comment-3386). That would give her adequate reason to keep the truth secret, even under significant pressure. Once it got out she would be a target for ridicule. Chase especially would have a field day.

    “Kaisa, what did I tell you about eating the students?”
    “Not until they graduate.”
    On graduation day: “Congratulations, you graduate! I advise any of you who pissed off Ekoi not to run – it wouldn’t change the result and it would just please her more.”

    Some people seem to have poorer opinions of Ravana. I don’t – the prank was harmless, even if the target didn’t know that, was well-played, and Ravana is willing to deal with the consequences. Szith and Maureen added a lot of realism with their reactions when they started advocating for ending it. Either that was real and Ravana was playing them too or they were good actors.

    And for those whose opinion of Ravana has changed from this chapter, you did note that she got her father and brother executed for treason by framing them, didn’t you? Even if she was correct that they were actually guilty of treason, that’s a (perhaps literally) insane thing for a teenager to do. This chapter’s behavior is significantly less extreme than that.

    Like

    1. Well, I found the witch and the wardrobe but I’m still looking for the lion.😉

      No, I haven’t seen anything. There are some things that seem familiar like the sword turning into a snake but I couldn’t tell you where that’s from.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. So i’m fairly sure Ravana is behind the ‘pranks’, Addiwyn might be a b*tch but her words ring true to me. Ravana on the other hand is a manipulator that is smart enough to cover her bases, i think you need to read the whole Book at once to see it however.

    Does anyone else have anything to add to my theory?

    Like

    1. I’ve been thinking that myself for a while. The biggest thing I have to add is that while she claims want to be “just one of the girls,” Ravana has pretty consistently put herself above the others in a way that is wholly aristocratic in nature. And while she probably could have pulled that of through more subtle means, she knew that she couldn’t get Addiwyn into her posse, so she instead used her as a stick, with the fancy dinner at the Ale&Wenches as the carrot.

      Beyond that, her statement about them “wanting to play the victims” which went unremarked by the rest of her classmates at the time is SUPER suspicious.

      Like

      1. Yeah when you look at what she does and says its actually fairly suspicious.
        I’m betting that it ends with Arachne revealing everything and ruining her plains and then turning around and raking Addiwyn over the coals for her actions.

        Like

    2. Your theory doesn’t explain the most explicit piece of evidence so far – the device Maureen set up to dye the person who broke it. Yes, this is a world of magic, so it is theoretically possible for Ravana to have hit an innocent person with it, but Occam’s razor says that Addiwyn was the actual person who destroyed the device.

      Like

      1. Sure it does, if you recall the idea to trap the device (and how to do so) was Ravanas, further more its not exactly hard to rig it so that it blows up on command.

        Addiwyns response confirms this (yes i know she could be lying) if you look at all her comments and apply the theory that she didn’t do it, then they make sense and back up the idea that Ravana is behind it.

        Lastly here is the core evidence.
        1) Teal warns Gabe about Ravana in a way that is very unusual.
        2) Addiwyn nearly always says that she didn’t do it or just doesn’t address it at all.
        (yes she’s rude but basically none of it has her admit to doing it)
        3) Ravana is a manipulator and her words do not match her actions,ie deceitful.
        4) Ravana is the driving force behind nearly all the responses and always trys to make more trouble when ever possible.
        5) Finally Ravana is taking advantage of the issue to seize control of the group, its basic psychological tactics that have a lot in common with entrapment scenarios.

        A few of these need to be carefully looked for but most of them are easy to spot.

        Like

      2. @Rowan Fleer-Stout

        See my previous post on how I think, start with “I don’t see the world as black and white…”: https://tiraas.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/8-16/comment-page-1/#comment-3387

        So, your theory remains a viable alternative hypothesis, but I think you are severely stretching a piece of evidence to fit:

        “its not exactly hard to rig it so that it blows up on command”
        I disagree. I personally couldn’t, could you? The device was built by Maureen, not Ravana. In order for your statement to be true:
        1) Ravana would have to have at least a strong hobbyists skill in either mechanical engineering or enchanting. That is possible, despite it not fitting her background – Ravana has a heavily customized lightcapper, so she could have helped design it. However, when a rich person has an expensive custom gadget, the default assumption is that they simply bought it.
        2) Ravana would have to be good enough in setting the trap to avoid Maureen noticing any alterations. This seems unlikely.
        3) Ravana would either have to have serious remote sensing and manipulation capabilities to accurately target the trap or she had to be there. We have no evidence for either of those. Otherwise the trap could have gone off against the house mother or one of the other girls.

        And furthermore, whichever one is doing this is judging risks poorly, by doing it on Arachne’s campus. Furthermore, the whole thing is ham-handed. If you accept her statement about her father and brother, Ravana is a competent judge of risks and a competent plotter, not a stupid and inept one.

        So, yes, it is possible that Ravana is setting Addiwyn up similarly to the way she set her father and brother up, but the evidence weighs against it. I don’t see sufficient motive either. Ravana could have played against Addiwyn’s hostility and tried to buy friendship without this ridiculous escalation.

        Like

  12. I find it interesting that never once has Addiwyn actually confirmed or denied she’s the one who’s been pranking the others. So she either has been at least a part of them, or she knows who is behind them and has been made to not reveal the truth, or she isn’t a part of them at all, and her behavior seems.. actually reasonable.

    She started the school year believing she was better than everyone else anyway. It would have continued on that way, her treating the other girls as beneath her, without the pranks. But then the pranks started, and they immediately assumed it was her. So then they came to her, angry, accusing–and since the pranks started out not that bad, Addiwyn probably got some pleasure out of their misfortune, so she didn’t really push too hard to clear it up. But then the pranks KEPT happening, getting WORSE over time and in scale, which led the others to be proportionally even ANGRIER at her.. When you came in believing yourself better than everyone else, and everyone started attacking you for things that weren’t your fault, wouldn’t YOU, in turn, start to hate them and act as Addiwyn has been?

    I also find it intriguing that Ekoi went straight for Ravana. If she was REALLY drawn and overwhelmed by the supposed fae-pheromones, wouldn’t she have gone directly for the most overpowering source–Addiwyn, who was DOUSED in them, instead of Ravana, whose sleeve was merely misted by them? So, either she went for the prey that was loose at the moment, knowing that the greater, um, treat, was restrained for the moment and could be let loose to chase after.. the first course.. or she was drawn in, realized Addiwyn was a target for this madness, and went after who seemed to be the perpetrator, OR these aren’t pheromones at all, she’s been keeping an eye on the group, knew what the were planning, alerted Tellwyrn, and then pulled a prank of her own on Ravana.

    I wonder how they came across these “pheromones” in the first place. With the reveal that Iris is a witch, surely she’d know if fae pheromones existed–and since she is of the belief that they DON’T exist.. Did they really lift the substance from Rafe’s supplies, thinking he just mislabeled or wrongly assumed pheromones existed? Or did they actually use a floral perfume from their own belongings, TELL Addiwyn they were pheromones, and then get blindsided by Ekoi?

    ..But in any case, I’m doubtful that actually was fae pheromones. When I first read them say that, I was like, “..are they not aware that there are powerful fae students, teachers, and university staff on campus? That’ll draw every one of them, and possibly lead to a dangerous fight over who gets the delicious meal, and certainly leave at least one or two of them dead. Plus whatever other fae happen to be close to the university from the Golden Sea, eventually, just adding to the danger..”

    So I guess we’ll see what happens the next time the story follows this lot. If all the fae on campus are seemingly inexplicably drawn to what I assume will be Tellwyrn’s office, we’ll know those really were pheromones. If nothing happens, it was probably just Ekoi messing with Ravana while waiting for Tellwyrn to get there.

    Ahhhh, wonderful as always, Webb! I hope you feel better soon!

    Like

    1. I just realized–when I say “never once has Addiwyn confirmed or denied”, I mean like under serious circumstances. Of course whether she’s guilty or not she’s going to deny it when suddenly facing trouble. But, it hasn’t been shown whether someone outside of the group of girls (and house mother) has sat her down and just simply asked, “Hey, are you really responsible?” without pressuring her with immediate consequences. Like if, say, another student, maybe one of the guys of someone from another year, was just curious and couldn’t/wouldn’t punish her for confirming or denying.

      But like, usually whenever the other girls or the house mother or whoever asks Addiwyn–DEMANDS to know–she doesn’t really confirm or deny.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s