9 – 11

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Teal tugged the rope a second time; once again, they heard the bell chime distantly within the manor.

“Maybe no one’s home?” Teal suggested, stepping back from the door and craning her neck back to peer up at the towering face of the house.

“Grusser said he never leaves the house,” Sheaine replied. “I inquired further of Pearl this morning, who concurred. It’s apparently common knowledge in the city. Lord Sherwin has accounts with local merchants and gets his supplies delivered.”

“Mm. He surely doesn’t live in there all alone.”

“From here,” Shaeine said tactfully, “it looks as if he might. Malivette’s house suffers somewhat from having only four servants to look after it. This seems like it could result from a residence of this size having none.”

Leduc Manor was less isolated from the city than the Dufresne residence, but still lay outside its walls, and occupied a defensible position in the mountains overlooking Veilgrad. In fact, the grounds were on a broad ledge, its rim now secured behind a towering wall, reached by a single wide trail which switchbacked twice on the way up. It had a stunning, if somewhat vertigo-inducing, view of the city and the prairie beyond. The plot of land might have been an acre or two; it was difficult to tell due to the walls and structures therein.

The manor itself was of a similar general style to Dufresne Manor, with its intricate carving and steeply tilted roof, though its plan appeared to be more rambling and less square. The primary difference between the two was that Leduc Manor was falling apart. One entire wing, off to their left, had a collapsed roof, and to judge by the sky visible through its glassless windows, a missing wall on the opposite side. In fact, the only windows which had any glass left in them were cracked or broken panes which opened onto dark rooms. It seemed that only the central part of the house was still inhabited; there, at least, the windows had been boarded up against the fierce Stalrange winters. The grounds were overgrown with weeds, vines, and several enormous thorny bushes, and strewn with a variety of trash. Piles of masonry were left here and there, both broken rubbish that had clearly fallen off the house and newer-looking specimens that appeared to have been slated for repairs before the idea was abandoned. An entire carriage—old-fashioned, not a modern horseless one—sat broken and decaying with a scraggly bush growing up through it.

Still, there was no sign of the lord of the manor.

Teal pulled the bell rope a third time. Then, after a long moment, she banged her fist against the door.

“It is not necessarily suspicious that he won’t come out,” Shaeine observed. “This behavior suits the harmless recluse people seem to believe him to be. However…”

“Yeah,” Teal said, nodding. “It also suits some less harmless possibilities.” She turned to peer back the way they had come.

The outer gates of the manor had long collapsed; the grounds could be easily entered, and the doors reached by way of an overgrown path which still held pieces of paving stones amid the weeds.

“Can you hear anyone nearby?” Teal asked.

Shaeine shook her head. She had lowered her cowl when they passed into the Leduc grounds, exposing her face to the cool air. They had decided unanimously not to subject the people of Veilgrad to the sight of a drow if it could be avoided. “There is nothing living in the vicinity that I can detect. In fact, that is rather odd. An abandoned building this size, even if only partially abandoned, would normally be teeming with small animals.”

“I guess that depends on who lives there,” Teal said with a grimace. “All right, well… I don’t like to be pushy, but we’re going to have to deal with this guy, one way or another. In the long run I think digging him out of his hole for a talk will be less intrusive than having to come back here with Trissiny and Ruda.”

“What do you intend?” Shaeine asked quietly.

“Just a little something that I suspect will get a warlock’s attention.”

She took a step back from the door, glanced suspiciously over her shoulder again at the empty gates and the city far below, and shifted.

Vadrieny stretched her wings once, then wrinkled her nose, glancing around. “What a dump.”

“That’s hardly polite, love,” Shaeine said with a small smile.

The archdemon grinned at her, the expression warm and fond despite the fangs it displayed. “I promise not to say it to his face. In fact…best I don’t talk with him at all, don’t you think?”

Shaeine tilted her head. “Doesn’t that rather defeat the purpose?”

“If it comes down to terrorizing him, sure. I think we’ll get better—calmer—results from making him wonder what it was he sensed out here.”

“Ah.” The drow nodded, smiling approvingly. “A very good thought, strategic and considerate.”

“Teal’s idea,” Vadrieny said, stepping forward. She raised one hand, formed a loose fist—her claws weren’t retractable, and prevented a clenched one—and hammered hard on the door. It rattled violently in its frame, the wood splintering slightly on the last blow, and fragments of dust were shaken loose from the entire door frame. A single screw popped out of one of the heavy iron hinges.

“Ah,” Shaeine said a moment later, “someone is coming.”

“Good,” Vadrieny said smugly. “See you in a while, then.”

The drow forestalled her with a gentle hand on her arm. When Vadrieny paused, looking down at her in surprise, Shaeine stepped forward, craning her head up to kiss her on the cheek.

Vadrieny was still smiling as she withdrew, leaving Teal to inherit the grin. She mastered her expression, however, as the footsteps approaching the door grew loud enough for her ears to detect.

There came a rattling as locks were undone from within—several of them—and finally the door jerked open. Unusually for such an apparently defensible structure (at least it had been, when it was built), the door opened inward.

“What the hell do you gah!” Sherwin Leduc actually jumped backward at catching sight of Shaeine. He was a physically unimpressive sight: short and slight of build, his sandy hair in need of a trim and wearing three days’ growth of beard. A pair of round spectacles perched on his nose, the lenses lightly scratched in a few places. He appeared to be in his pajamas, with a threadbare robe thrown on over them.

“Have I the pleasure of addressing Lord Leduc?” Shaeine asked, bowing.

He stepped back again, keeping one arm fully extended to retain his grip on the door, and squinted suspiciously at her. “Who wants to know? See here, I have nothing to offer Scyllith and I don’t want anything from her.”

“Excuse me, you are mistaken,” Shaeine said, the faintest note of warning entering her tone. “I am a priestess of Themynra. My people have spilled lakes of our blood over the millennia to ensure that Scyllith’s agents do not darken your lands.”

“Well, that exhausts my only theory for what a drow would want here,” he said, eying her up and down, and then turning to peer skeptically at Teal.

“I am Shaeine nur Ashale d’zin Awarrion of Tar’naris; this is Teal Falconer. We are not here in any official capacity related to my home, but visiting from the University at Last Rock.”

Leduc’s expression collapsed into a scowl. “Oh. Come to finish what the last group of Tellwyrn’s students started here?”

“We actually don’t know anybody who’s been here before,” Teal said quickly. “Whatever happened then, it’s got nothing to do with us.”

“What happened is… Well, no, sorry, I’m being irrational.” Leduc sighed, scrubbing a hand through his shaggy hair. “House Leduc killed itself; Malivette’s University friends just ended up being the weapon. Still. Having you show up here out of the blue is a little disturbing.” He resumed staring suspiciously at them. “What do you want?”

“Well, hopefully we won’t have to bother you any further after today,” Teal said. “We’re just eliminating possibilities. How much do you know about what’s happening in Veilgrad?”

“Don’t know, don’t care,” he said bluntly. “I stay up here, people leave me alone. I’m happier, town’s happier, everybody wins.”

“Have you heard the howling in the mountains at night?” Shaeine asked quietly.

At that, he grinned unpleasantly. “Oh, sure. They don’t come here, though. Let ’em try; I’m not helpless.”

“Well, that’s basically the issue,” Teal said. “The city is slowly but surely falling apart; something is stirring up dangerous elements on all sides. The werewolves are just part of it.”

“Oh just let me guess,” Leduc said, rolling his eyes. “And you are here to get to the bottom of it.”

“In a nutshell, yes.”

“Well, I’m not at the bottom,” he snapped. “Or the top, or anywhere in between. I am not involved. You hear me? The Leducs don’t rule Veilgrad anymore, and never will again. In fact, this is it: you’re looking at the last of the line, and good riddance to it. Malivette can have the title and may it bite her harder than the thing that turned her. I stay on my property, I bother nobody, and when I die no one will notice for months. That’s how I like it. Good day.”

He started to close the door; Shaeine deftly inserted herself into the gap. “If you’ll consider the matter from our perspective,” she said smoothly, “surely you understand why that doesn’t really address any of our concerns?”

“Did I stutter?” he exclaimed. “I don’t care about your concerns. Now go away!”

“We really just want a few minutes of your time, Lord Sherwin,” Teal said. “Just to get your perspective on things, so we can go back and tell the others you’re not a factor here. That’s all we’re doing, eliminating possibilities.”

At that, he hesitated. “Others?”

“Indeed,” Shaeine said placidly. “We are traveling with, among others, all three current paladins. And a dryad.”

Leduc sucked in a long, slow breath through his teeth. “So,” he said tightly, “I can talk to you, or I can talk to them, is that it?”

“People are in danger,” Teal said softly. “Believe me, we’re not normally this pushy, but the problems in Veilgrad are escalating. If you could just help us rule you out as a factor, that would be tremendously helpful, and then you’ll never have to hear from any of us again.”

The young lord sighed heavily, and more than a touch melodramatically. “Ugh, fine, if that’s what will make you go away. You might as well come in, I guess.” He turned his back on them and stalked into the manor, leaving the door standing open.

They followed, Teal pausing to gently push the door shut behind them. The great hall into which they stepped was a panorama of ruined grandeur; unlike Malivette’s, it had not been cleared out, its opulent furnishings simply left to decay. In fact, the degree of decay was startling, considering it had taken place within a span of a relatively few years. Finely carved end tables were partially collapsed, shards of broken porcelain lying amid their ruins. On marble bust of a woman lay face-up, missing half its head. Tapestries were ragged and torn in addition to rotting; oil paintings appeared to have been slashed, those that hadn’t fallen to the ground, their frames splintered by impact. In one corner, the walls black with mold, a large crop of toadstools was growing. The centerpiece of the whole sad display was an enormous wrought iron chandelier, still containing the burned-down stubs of candles, lying broken in the very middle of the hall where it had fallen. The floorboards beneath it had cracked and buckled severely.

The smell was indescribable.

Leduc led the way along one side of the hall, where tracks had been worn into the dust—and into the carpet—a safe distance from the ruptured floor beneath the chandelier. His path avoided the grand double staircase at the opposite end of the room, leading straight to an unobtrusive door hidden beneath it.

Teal and Shaeine drew closer together as they followed him into the dim hall beyond, pressing the backs of their hands against each other. Even here, Narisian modesty prevailed, but it was a place that made them instinctively reach for comfort.

The corridor was dark, dusty and smelled of mildew, though less severely than the once-grand entry hall, but it blessedly wasn’t terribly long. After only a minute, they turned a corner and shortly emerged into a warm and brightly lit space, a very pleasant sight after the one which had preceded it.

It was a kitchen, a long, stone-walled space large enough to have served the fully-inhabited manor in its heyday. The whole thing had been heavily altered, though. A warm fire burned in the hearth, which bore the fixtures of an old roasting spit, long since removed. There was also an oven with a stove top, and a currently dark cast iron stove with a pipe leading out through a hastily-cut hole in the ceiling. Firewood had been stacked along one wall. A modern enchanted cold box stood next to the fridge, alongside a faucet and sink attached to a water-conjuration apparatus—difficult and very expensive work, seldom used because it was generally cheaper and easier just to install indoor plumbing.

The rest of the room, however, had been cleared of any kitchen-related paraphernalia and converted into an obvious living space. Laden bookshelves lined the walls, a single bed was tucked into a corner—unmade, of course—and there was a heavy armchair dragged up near the fireplace, with a small end table beside it on which sat a mug of beer.

It was cluttered, but in the way of a casually maintained bachelor pad—clothes were tossed about the sleeping area, books were stacked on the floor by their shelves somewhat haphazardly, and there was a pile of dishes on the counter by the sink. The whole place could have used a good sweeping and dusting. It was a lived-in state of disorder, though, quite unlike the filthy decay of the rest of the house.

“All right, here you are,” Leduc said with poor grace, stalking across to his armchair and flopping down in it. “So, let’s have it. What do you want to know so badly?”

“The pattern of incidents growing in Veilgrad have no immediately discernible root,” Shaeine said, gliding over to stand in front of him, a few yards away. “In addition to the werewolves, there has been a recent proliferation of minor chaos cults, several incidents of necromancy, and a Shaathist offshoot cult that has taken to harassing the local Huntsmen. More than that, violent crime and violence in general are rising, as if the general populace is becoming more prone to acting that way. There was an actual mob attack upon Malivette’s property.”

“Couldn’t happen to a nicer person,” he sneered. “Though I’m not sure that word still applies to good ol’ Vette.”

“I found her rather nice,” said Teal. “In her own way. Not that she isn’t eccentric.”

“That isn’t the word I meant.”

“It has been pointed out to us,” said Shaeine, “that one possible root cause of generalized aggression is a great deal of loose infernal magic. Clearly, thus, it is advantageous that we speak to you.”

Leduc frowned thoughtfully, rubbing his chin. “Hm. Yeah, infernal magic does have that effect… That really can’t be it, though.”

“Why not?” Shaeine inquired.

“All kinds of reasons. For one thing, that’s only one of its effects; if there were widespread infernal corruption going on, people would be getting sick, plants would be alternately dying or growing thorns where they didn’t use to have them, any animals born would be mutated… Apart from that, people would notice infernal energy loose in the streets. The Shaathists don’t actually have more than a couple of priests, I don’t think, but there’s a sizable Omnist temple here, and a grand old Universal Church chapel. Plus, the Empire keeps an eye and has means to notice such things. Hell, I would’ve noticed, and something like that I would have to respond to. Ninety percent of being a warlock is control; you just cannot have infernal magic running loose.”

“I see,” Shaeine mused. “That certainly seems reasonable. I suppose it only leaves the question of what it is you actually do up here alone.”

“None of your business,” he snapped.

“Lord Sherwin,” she said solemnly, “I come from a culture which prizes discretion and personal privacy. I assure you, the last thing I wish is to intrude upon yours. I would not dream of coming here to ask such prying questions were there not an immediate need.”

“The problem in a nutshell,” Teal added, “is we don’t know what is causing all this to happen, which means any major unanswered questions look more suspicious than they otherwise would. With all respect, my lord, it’s very unusual for a person to live alone and shun all contact.”

“If you’ve made any inquiries into the recent history of Veilgrad,” he grated, “you might understand why my own life has been somewhat traumatic, and why I’m not inclined to give a damn what happens to that town or the people in it.”

“That sentiment,” said Shaeine, “is somewhat more ominous in light of the town’s troubles, not less.”

“What we really want,” said Teal, “is to be able to go back to the others and assure them you’re not an issue. You get left alone that way, and we write off one more avenue of investigation. It helps us both. But if we have to leave with no hint as to how you spend your time, or why you need so much privacy or to practice infernal magic… Well, if we can’t find any other promising leads, we’re probably gonna come back to the warlock on the hill. You see what I mean?”

“This is bullying,” he complained, grimacing.

“I am sorry that it seems that way to you,” Shaeine replied calmly. “If you insist, we will go. Hopefully something else will turn up and we will not need to come back. I’m afraid not all of our associates are as patient…”

“Bullying and threats,” he grumbled. “All right, fine. Look. I’m not a bad person, okay? I just want… I want to be left alone, to not have to deal with any of the bullshit of the nobility or the damn city, and… What I mean is, I don’t need people getting into my business, or stories circulating about me. That is… Well, if I tell you anything, I’m concerned about who it might get back to, all right?”

“I assure you,” said Shaeine, “we have already intruded upon you more than is comfortable. We would only share anything you’ve revealed with others if there were an immediate need, pertaining to the safety of the city.”

“The thing about safety,” he began.

“Can I just interrupt you there?” said Teal. “I bet I know the speeches you’ve heard about infernal magic, and most of them weren’t wrong, but with all due respect, we don’t much care what you do with yourself. If you end up cursed or sick or exploded, well, that’s your business.”

Leduc actually grinned at her. “Now I’m curious why you’d have heard those speeches. Well, anyway, fine. It’s…it’s people I don’t much like or trust, get it? Growing up the way I did, I’ve repeatedly observed that demons are pretty predictable, and actually pretty understandable if you take into account where they come from, but people are just… A person might do anything. Any damn thing at all, and half the things they do are just mean for no good reason. So… Well, it is a little lonely up here, and I have the means to, erm… Create my own company, as it were.”

“We assumed there was a certain amount of demon-summoning involved in being a practicing warlock,” said Shaeine. “At issue is what you do with anything you summon.”

“Really, that’s it?” he said, surprised. “No speeches about how demons aren’t good company?”

“It depends on the demon, doesn’t it?” Teal said quietly.

Leduc frowned at her. “Why did you two get the job to come talk to me?”

“That is neither here nor there,” Shaeine said smoothly. “Can you perhaps be a little bit more specific? Many kinds of demons are no great threat if properly contained.”

“Can’t I keep a little bit of privacy?” he complained.

“You can keep most of it,” Shaeine assured him. “We only want some assurance that you’re not doing anything dangerous to the town.”

Leduc sighed heavily. “It’s… Well, just… You’ll judge me. I hate that. It’s half the reason I don’t like talking to people.”

“Without going into too much detail,” Teal said wryly, “none of us are in a position to be judgmental. And whatever you’re up to, I’m willing to bet we’ve heard worse.”

He sighed again, heavily, and gulped down the rest of the beer in his mug. “I… It’s… Well, a person does have some needs, you know, even if… And, I, what I mean…” He trailed off, glaring into the bottom of the mug.

After a few moments, Shaeine opened her mouth to speak, but before she could he burst out. “I summoned a succubus, all right? Are you happy now?”

Teal’s eyes widened and she took a step back.

“Not particularly, no,” Shaeine said quietly. “That is not the kind of harmless thing we can ignore, Lord Sherwin. Children of Vanislaas are incredibly dangerous.”

“If you let them run around loose, yeah!” he exclaimed. “I know what I’m doing! What did I tell you? Ninety percent control! Trust me, my containment systems are absolutely foolproof.”

“Famous last words,” Teal said.

“Oh, what would you know?” he scoffed. “You wanna know what I’ve been doing up here for years? That! I’m not an idiot, I know how dangerous Vanislaads can be, so I’ve spent my time devising a proper facility to hold one. Years! And believe you me, it works! She can’t get out or she would have long before now. And my training program hasn’t really had time to work fully, but I’m already loosening her up a bit. She’s difficult, yeah, but in no time…”

He trailed off again, finally noticing the way they were looking at him.

“Let me see if I understand you,” Shaeine said in deadly quiet. “You are keeping a woman locked in a cage for the purpose of breaking her will so you can sexually exploit her?”

“A demon,” he said, more than a hint of whine in his voice. “Not a woman. I think you’ll find it’s perfectly legal to treat demons any way you like.”

“Not a woman, huh,” Teal said, barely keeping her own outrage in check. Her fists were clenched at her sides. “So, an incubus would’ve been just as good for your purposes?”

“Oh, please,” he said disdainfully. “I’m a loner and a warlock, not a pervert. Everyone has lines they won’t cross.”

“You disgusting little—”

“There! See!” He pointed accusingly at her. “Judging! I’ve had just about enough of you two. Get out of my house!”

“I think we had better see this…containment system,” Shaeine said coldly.

Leduc folded his arms and slumped back into his chair, adopting a mulish expression. “Not happening.”


 

“This is a serious imposition,” Leduc griped five minutes later, grudgingly inserting a key into the door at the bottom of the spiral staircase from his kitchen apartment. “I’m in the middle of an isolation phase. She’s not supposed to have any company for another couple of days; you’re setting back my program by who knows how much…”

“You know what?” Teal said tightly. “It might be best if you just didn’t say any more.”

“Open the door, please,” Shaeine said quietly.

Leduc sighed dramatically, but turned the key and pushed it open, stepping through. They followed right on his heels.

The basement room was completely covered in charms and sigils. They practically plastered the walls and ceiling, and even the floor; a raised path of wooden planks led from the door to the huge apparatus in the room’s center. Icons of every conceivable deity were present, pressed against each other and in some cases overlapping. The entire Pantheon was represented, even the trident and hurricane sigils associated with Naphthene and Ouvis, who lacked organized cults. In several places, the balance scale emblem of Themynra began to shine subtly at Shaeine’s presence. The icons were of a variety of metals, wood and stone, some even formed of clay. There had to be thousands of them.

Other things had been built up in the chamber: fairy lamps occupied each of the corners, filling it with a cold, white light. There were also stands interspersed along the walls that resembled small altars, displaying a variety of natural objects: shells, rocks, crystals, branches and a variety of dried plants, even the bones of small animals. Each had an inscrutable array of modern enchanting paraphernalia built up onto it.

Predominating the space, in the center, was an enormous cube of metal, also decorated with holy sigils, and also with pipes, wires and crystals of arcane enchantment bordering its corners. More mundane systems of gears and pulleys connected it to a metal structure bolted to the ceiling directly above; a little examination revealed its obvious purpose of lifting the sheets of steel that formed the sides of the box.

He clearly hadn’t boasted; this setup must have taken years to construct, especially if he had worked on it alone.

“This is probably the most holy place in Veilgrad,” Lord Leduc said smugly, seemingly oblivious to his guests’ expressions. “Sure, you don’t get as much power per sigil with the god in question not actively blessing it, but basically all the cults sell holy icons. Oh, they don’t call it selling, but you make a donation and get one. Religious people can never just call something what it is. Now, those altars, there? Those are also important; I had them designed by an expert witch to produce pure fae magic. That’s the trickiest part of the whole thing, ‘cos I have to re-charge them from time to time, which means gathering up more sacred fairy crap to put on them. It’s expensive, too, but I have people who work on that for me. The altars themselves have enchantments designed to convert that fairy power into the divine, which adds more juice to the sigils. Well, not convert it directly, you need an actual magic user consciously doing that, but if you’re willing to accept a power loss of over ninety percent, you can rig it so the divine magic tends to naturally feed on the fae. It’s enough to make a completely demon-proof barrier. I could hold an archdemon in this room.”

“Wanna bet?” Teal asked softly.

Leduc nattered on, ignoring her, apparently pleased to have an audience to whom to boast about his project, despite their clear antipathy. “The enchantments over the cage itself are the most complex part; obviously I have to have some protection for my demon or she’d just be incinerated in this room, right? So that’s what that is. You see the sigils suspended outside the superstructure, there? Those are actually keyed into an infernal spell matrix, a kind of reverse blessing that counteracts all the loose divine energy in here. So, yeah, she probably can get out of that cage, but she’d regret it. Briefly.” He snickered. “I made sure to demonstrate this before leaving her alone, of course.”

“Open the cage,” Shaeine said quietly.

“Whoah, now, I agreed to show you my containment system,” Leduc said. “Seriously, you are going to mess up my training program if you go any further, all right? She’s sitting in the dark thinking about what she did, and going to for a few more—”

He broke off as Shaeine turned to face him fully. She was as still and superficially calm as always, but whatever he saw in her face made him take a step backward, eyes widening.

“Open it,” she ordered.

Leduc opened his mouth, shut it, grimaced, and swallowed heavily. Muttering sullenly to himself, he stepped to one side of the door, carefully picking his way between the holy sigils laid into the floor, and tugged on a large lever attached to a system of chains and pulleys that ran to the cage via the ceiling.

With a loud rasp of metal, the sheets of steel blocking off the sides of the box slid smoothly and quickly upward, revealing the rather mundane iron cage within. There was nothing in there with the inhabitant except a few bowls and buckets of obvious purpose.

She sat on the floor with her back to them. Her skin was pale, oddly mottled and striated with patterns of black and purple. Short, spiky hair was surmounted by a pair of barbed horns sweeping back from her hairline over her skull, rather like the ones Elilial was often depicted with. Her tail lay limply upon the floor of her cage, tipped in a wicked stinger. Aside from spiked bracers of beaten iron, all she wore was a simple wrap of some kind of leather. Her shoulders were broad, her arms thickly corded with powerful muscle, but despite the intimidating figure she made, she hunched in on herself at the loss of the barriers between her and her captor.

“You fool,” Shaeine hissed, “that is not a—”

Teal erupted in hellfire as Vadrieny burst forth with a furious howl. Leduc barely had time to stagger backward from her when the entire basement erupted in light. A tone like a struck gong resonated through the air, and Teal collapsed to the plank path, human again and unconscious. All around the room, sigils smoked, several of them now visibly cracked, but the light faded as quickly as it had come.

Shaeine was instantly on her knees at Teal’s side, ignoring Leduc as he ranted above them.

“What the hell? Why didn’t you tell me your friend was possessed? Do you know the kind of risk you took, bringing her in here? And why would she try to—I just said this room is demon proof, I even told you how it works! Omnu’s balls, does she have a death wish? Gods above and below, this is not my fault, you have to…”

He carried on babbling, while Shaeine gently took Teal’s face in her hands, closing her eyes in concentration.

Behind them, the demon had turned, and now clutched the bars of her cage with clawed fingers, her slitted eyes staring intently at Teal. None of them were looking, but her expression was intent, ardent, and alight with sudden hope.

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49 thoughts on “9 – 11

  1. Man, did he pick the wrong audience for that “demons aren’t people” argument.

    It’s not my custom to reveal details before they come up in the story, but since there’s one individual who likes to accuse me of using sexual violence for cheap drama, let me just say that 1. Sherwin hasn’t laid a finger on his captive, and 2. if there’s a point to this sequence of events (stories don’t need a point, in my opinion, but tend to have them whether the author means to or not) it’s that obliviousness can be as dangerous as malice.

    So here’s something interesting. I follow my stats page carefully, and over the last day, for the first time, by far the largest number of hits TGaB has received have been from search engines. Since Google hides their search results, I can’t tell what was being searched or why; the only search term aside from “unknown” listed on my stats page was “the gods are bastards fanfiction.” I checked that out myself, and if there is any, I didn’t find it.

    Anybody know what happened here? Was I mentioned in a podcast or something?

    Like

    1. Well i’ve been spreading word TGaB on SV and SB, but i doubt that was it.

      Would i be right i guessing that the girl is Not one of the Archdemons? Maybe one of those two idiots that gained ALL the warlock knowledge?

      Like

      1. I for one, found this story a few months back via a recommendation on SB.

        And since I can’t seem to directly reply to Webb’s reply I’ll mention here that SB and SV are the Spacebattles and Sufficient-Velocity forums respectively.

        Like

  2. I understand that you post these at night, but do you really think replying to honest critique from a reader who genuinely loves your work and calling it ‘accusations’ is a good way to entice others to offer their honest opinions? Or are the only opinions you are interested in praising ones? How do you expect to grow as an author, if so?

    I offered critique. Honest critique. It was not insulting or derogatory. It was a comment on an element of the story that you hadn’t touched, at the time I wrote said critique, even once since it was brought up despite the fact that the story at the time was revolving around the many crimes of the character who committed that particular one. Your end cap for it, whether or not it was influenced by that critique, was a good answer to many of the issues I had and left only one really large issue that I’ve seen consistently show up in your writing. (Which I will speak of below).

    If you don’t want critique, say it. If you do, accept that not all of it’s going to be warm and fuzzy and pleasant. No author is perfect. Hell, I made a few grammatical mistakes in my critique that were cringe worthy and got two names wrong. That just further illustrates my point though. You have your strengths. I talk about them as do others. But you have your weaknesses too and I rarely see people talk about those constructively, especially over the internet.

    I’m trying, but there’s no way I can phrase ‘I feel you’ve made a few mistakes’ that won’t come off as negative. Perhaps there are more polite ways to phrase it or even more constructive ones, but in that case you can start replying as to how it could have been better written to suite your need to learn and grow, or to correct me if I come off as insulting when I try and state from the start that my intention is not to deride but to offer an opinion you might want to take note of.

    Now, as far as the issue I still feel holds true in your story…

    Your pacing in chapter is fantastic. Your outline and the details for the story is fantastic. Despite what you may think of my opinion I love your work. I have even gone back over Junipers character in my head and I believe the moments, the payoff, was perfectly written. Your end cap for the issues I wrote about last was, similarly, brilliantly handled. You did more then just give that character agency and life, in my eyes, but you touched on details I thought quite important in the world you are building with a subtly I struggle with in my own writing.

    Yet you withhold these moments too long, to the point where it seems like they either won’t be addressed or won’t be addressed with any satisfaction. It soured Juniper for me, as a character. Perhaps with a second read from the archive it will seem less stalled, but does that excuse the fact that it seemed stalled in the original medium it was presented? The best example I can think of is raising an issue and then waiting a book to even begin addressing it as an issue. It’s there, growing worse and worse through out the story, but no one comments on it until it becomes to painful to ignore. By that point, your kind of fed up with it being a problem, but only now does the rest of the cast in the book start to see what you did from the start. Now you have to deal with them dealing with that growing realization until it hits yet another breaking point.

    Personally I think it might be one of the dangers of having such a large cast, which you handle with far more skill then a lot of writers I read, and such a long and expansive story. I might be wrong but I’m not being a sarcastic ass when I marvel at how you handle so many story lines at once. I don’t think it unreasonable to expect some things to slip through the cracks, sometimes, or get pushed back because there’s something else that needs to be touched on. It’s something I feel you can improve on. Take that with whatever grain of salt you will. I do ask though that if you just see this as more accusations, just say it in the reply, rather then waiting till it might seem like a good barb at me in your comment of a chapter. I read those too.

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    1. General advice from an ancient commentator on loads of works: starting with the “I don’t want to offend you, but let me just offend you” sales pitch isn’t a good option to run with. However many words you throw over the concept.😛

      Perhaps you should have thought before you made it? Because serious writers generally want constructive critics, you dolt. They help sharpen the finished product.:/

      Sycophants are no good.

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    2. The thing is… you base your critique on subjective feelings (dislike of Juniper) and that doesn’t have much value until many other readers agree with you. It’s just your opinion, not objective facts like spelling/grammar mistakes or anything that can be measured.

      I assume this about the “Basra is a rapist” discussion… I said what I thought about it back then and I’m not going to repeat it here.

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      1. Only refering to Arilius last 3 paragraphs, I think he refers more to a general pacing : for instance, Juniper had a holier than thou attitude relying on : “I’m natural and right” for 6 books, it’s quite long, character developement was well done when it happened, but 6 books with only hint of future developement is quite long.
        If the shophomore group the only focus on that story it wouldn’t have been that long but we are following regularly at least 5 groups : Darling, Darling’s goons, the sophomore, the freshman, Principia (these groups being fluctuents). It multiply the time needed for getting a resolution to any action. And sometime we get extras thrown in (imperials, dragons, Thumper, Yornhald…).
        As an exemple, we get Principia telling people she’s going to go see Rouvad right now, even if she has to wait behind her door and we me may have to wait 2 to 3 chapters to get the result of that action, and if we have the resolution of this next chapter we may have to wait for the Shayne, Teal/Vadrieny situation.
        I really would have prefered to get the resolution of something concerning one of the main group we are following to a passage with Yornhaldt which can be summed up with : he got caught. Having one half chapter spent on his battle while there were many interesting things happening to other people I’m more invested in was a bit frustrating for me. I’m more interested in Arachne reaction if she learns about it than in fact the martial prowess of a tertiary (at best) character.
        The cast is one of the thing that makes Tgab so captivating, but since it has become so big I’m not sure so many time should be put on minor characters.

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    3. I love critiques. They are by nature useful to me.

      You have a pattern, however, of calling something bad writing if it gives you an unpleasant emotional reaction, which is not helpful in the least. In every case where you’ve done so, creating that reaction was deliberate and the specific purpose of what I wrote. In every case, you were the only one who complained. TGaB is fairly light-hearted in many respects, but it is not all sunshine and giggles; this story faces some dark themes and subject matter. It needs the painful moments to have gravitas. Honestly, as much as I love reader engagement, it galls me to be reprimanded every time one of those comes up, especially because you’re chiding me for achieving precisely the effect I wanted. It’s like giving someone a papercut and then rubbing salt in it all in one breath.

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      1. @Others: Subjective critique is still critique. An opinion can be wrong, but does mean that it always will be. I have never said he was a bad writer, so trying to brush it aside like that really doesn’t do anything in regards to dismissing my critique.

        @D.D. My problem wasn’t the negative reaction that I had. As I have mentioned in several of my posts, I am fine with bad things happening. My problem is that the pay off is often so delayed that the negative reaction often sours my feelings on a character permanently. Pacing, then, is my problem. It’s not that Juniper was a a spoiled brat being shaped into a sociopath, it was that it took so long for any other character to recognize it.

        The ‘no one else said anything’ line is particularly poor when trying to judge if my critique is worth a damn. You aren’t getting hundreds or even tens of people commenting on every chapter. You may get around 20 and some of that is people posting multiple comments. So 1/20 people says something. That’s about 5% of your vocal reader base, which represents a similar amount of folk in total, at least in simplistic terms. Someone else actually says something similar in regards to your pacing with Juniper “but 6 books with only hint of future development is quite long.” Because discussion has been opened up, more people are willing to speak of it. Perhaps it’s just occurring to them as they read the critique or perhaps it just seemed like a good spot too say something, So even ignoring the fact that I’m taking the time out of my life to try and respectfully offer my opinion to you in a way that could be constructive, for you, if utilized trying to say I’m the only one with a problem ignores simple math. I’m was the only vocal one, and now I’m not, even if their opinions on it do differ from mine a little.

        You have a habit of, each time I create one of these posts, making it seem like a personal attack on you. Despite repeatedly saying, multiple times within the last example, that I was offering a critique. You were so willing to believe the worst that you found a threat to leave your writing out of nowhere and told me, without even confirming if that was my intention, that you didn’t care if I stopped reading. Now, you leave stinging remarks meant to hurt and insult in your commentary of a chapter because what you heard on a previous one wasn’t all glowing praise. None of that suggests you love critiques. It suggests you may love critical critiques that, by and large, praise your work. If something in your opinion is overly critical of you, though, then you shall lash out instead. Shall you eventually fall to challenging me to a boxing max or will my posts eventually start disappearing? That seems the path this all will lead down too.

        As far as the pacing goes, if working as intended is your answer, then that’s your answer. But now you have two of your vocal minority pointing out that the six books where Juniper was holier then though was a bit too long for the payoff, well written as it might be. You may be dealing with a very large and sweeping story but some feel that you took too long with some pay off. Oddly enough, not all pay off, just some. Maybe instead of giving the company line again, you might try and look into why these events are different from other events that took time to resolve? I have no problem with Gabriel’s development even though he’s equally slow in some regards, and slower then Juniper, in some regards.

        Perhaps it is that they illicit negative emotions. As I mentioned way back when I spoke of Juniper (or at least, I think I did?) part of being an author, or story creator in general, is managing those emotions. You want people to sympathize with some of your bad guys, so you give them a bit of pathos. Too much though and people get annoyed. You want someone to have a really deep and meaningful problem that stems from a traumatic moment. Too long though and the problem becomes a joke. You handled triumphant moments wonderfully. However, there’s a pattern that could be traced between the two moments I’ve spoken off. Both times, you were dealing with a more negative thing. The pay off for it or even the hints for that eventual pay off took too long and someone pointed out how it could, and did with Juniper, sour their taste of the character.

        Maybe development that illicit such negative reactions shouldn’t be treated the same as those with positive ones, in regards to pacing. I’d suggest building trust with the reader using smaller moments. When the ball finally got rolling for Juniper to deal with things, it all happened immediately. At least, immediately compared to how long it took for it to start. We have Holier then the Juniper for a long while, then Denial Juniper for a long while, and then talking about it and acceptance rather abruptly.

        The trying is better paced and you’ve already demonstrated that’s because you know how to pace more triumphant development, or at least less negative character traits and their development. Instead, the talk with Juniper could have probably been a earlier, spread out more evenly in the story.

        Damning stuff like ‘a cannibal racist being turned into a sociopath by an immature culture’ for a main villain might go far, but for one of the heroes, it’s requires a careful balance of give and take.

        You have managed the size and scope of this story immensely well. You are right, for the most part the character development is amazing. You are also, at least in my opinion, overly critical of yourself in regards to the structure of some of it. I haven’t ever had a problem with the slower stuff. It actually felt necessary to me because it let me appreciate the bigger stuff more while giving me what I wanted. Character development. But you’re 1/3 so far with the really awful things (and I mean awful as in having to deal with such things would be awful, not your writing).

        Juniper seemed poorly paced to me in the beginning, the Basra things pay off was not short of it’s mark but it didn’t come a chapter too late for it to be perfectly timed, and Gabriel being betrayed was awesome. Interestingly the two most similar things in regards to simple length of time from introduction to satisfactory conclusion of a kind are Gabriel being betrayed and the Basra thing, as they were both introduced and then given a small ending that doesn’t disregard the possibility for more in those veins of thought in the same book. I do think with the end cap for the chapter the Basra thing is also handled much better then Junipers arc too. Still off with the timing, but you are still experimenting with a format that’s been around for less then a decade.

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      2. I dunno, what sticks in my mind is how your argument turned into “pacing” after the fact. In your initial complaints about Juniper you stated outright that it was bad writing.

        The nature of human thought is to form an opinion emotionally and then construct rational justifications for it; that’s just how we’re wired. We aren’t logical beings. Reading your specific complaints I can’t help seeing an aspect of that in them.

        With regard to pacing, it might help you understand what I’m doing to know that I think of this story, structurally, more like a TV series than a traditional novel. Between its length and the way it’s presented–serially, rather than in large, discrete chunks–arcs are always going to be dragged out, and character development is one of the things that will necessarily take longest.

        And if I seem to feel attacked by your posts, ask yourself how many other people, even those who criticize, evoke that reaction.

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    4. And on the subject of pacing and delayed payoffs, this is a huge story. We’re currently in the second quarter of it and it’s already longer than many fantasy sagas ever grow. Character development is not only going to be protracted, it needs to be. The end result if I had all the characters resolve their issues over one or two books each would be very tedious. Ultimately, my problems with pacing are shorter-term and have to do with the structure of certain books; there are several I’m not happy with. But in terms of character development, I’m happy with the speed at which they’re progressing.

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      1. I quite agree with the general pacing (juniper waiting for volume 6 was an exemple of length but the impact of the resolution made the waiting and building up necessary). It is maybe more the jump of point of view which happen very often in book 9 that troubles me.

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    5. Coming in late, but Arillius, your critique of pacing causing you to dislike a character makes no sense to me. The pacing of the story is the main critique I would make of the story, but it doesn’t make me like characters less. In a seperate comment, Unmaker provides what I think is the correct cause of the relatively slow pacing (huge cast of characters, all with independent plots).

      If you could write exactly five sentences on why you think pacing hurts your impression of the character, that could be valuable. Otherwise, it seems like really long-winded nitpicking. Or picking a fight with DD Webb.

      By the way, I had no expectation that Juniper would ever change from predator morality. Lions don’t feel bad about eating gazelle, why should she? It was very interesting that she changed, but I think the story would have been fine without (darker, but still fine). As for how quickly she adjusted, I’m not sure that’s actually true. Even if it were, do you really think repeatedly attending Juniper’s therapy sessions would be interesting to read? It certainly would slow the plot even further.

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  3. I think you need to put a trigger warning at the start of the chapter, not the end.

    Please note, I think this chapter is perfectly appropriate without the warning. The internet is getting all polite and $H!^ these days, though, and things that would have flown without comment a decade earlier now provoke – well, the previous comments. Plus it is an -actual- trigger for a lot of people.

    That said, it’s a heavy enough character development/description tool that repeated deployment comes off as clumsy. Hopefully this is more relevant to her backstory than him.

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    1. If there really need to be trigger warnings, then they should be placed in the description of the About page and not in front of specific chapters.

      I like that you know the difference between -actual- triggers and “triggers”.🙂

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    2. If someone locked in a cage is triggering for people…well, I apologize. I suppose that’s something that has to have happened to a few people out there, though to my knowledge I’ve not met any. It’s a common enough occurrence in fiction in general and I haven’t seen complaints about it, but maybe I’m wrong.

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      1. Well in all fairness, the demon isn’t just locked in a cage, you’ve heavily implied the Warlock is trying to turn her into a sex slave.

        Or maybe that’s my fucked up brain.

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      2. People with -actual- triggers have mental issues, typically classed as PTSD, that can seriously impact their ability to function and quality of life. Repeated triggers can make it worse. People with ‘triggers’ are typically whiny brats who need to be slapped for taking advantage of and trivializing the first group of people.

        One company I worked for had a safety guy who watched a couple friends get smushed. Simultaneously the best and worst safety guy I’ve ever seen. Another guy who came from Syria (Years ago) had a thing about loud noises – which made it ironic he was a tin-basher.

        00000

        D. D.:

        In this case, it isn’t so much the imprisonment, it’s that the imprisonment is implied to be for sexual purposes. This makes at least four relationships that are involve sexual coercion or sexualized abuse in this story. You have stayed away from classic rape, however implied it was to be in the works in this incident.

        Given that this is otherwise a rather light, (though complex and excellent,) piece of fantasy, you might want to put a warning so some poor girl who recently had a bad night doesn’t now have a panic attack. Intro and/or before the first chapter might be the best place for it.

        As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think it’s that bad myself, but others may disagree.

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    3. I don’t see the point. Why shove a trigger warning on a story that doesn’t advertise itself as PG? You should expect drama from something that promises drama.

      In short: triggers are for those people with them to manage… not everybody else. Heck, cute little kittens can be a real trigger for somebody traumatised while some were in a room with them.

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      1. If said theoretical young female reader made it this far (after seeing someone like herself become possesed and physically taken over by an archdemon, a tribe of children kidnapped by a dragon intending to implement institutional rape repeatedly until they were literally used up, hearing about another woman being treated like property before her dire backdoor decampment, finding yet another girl tied up in a bag hung from a tree, plus many, many other similar scenes [I’m not so sure that “light” was ever the right adjective to describe TGaB, lol]), I doubt anything happening now is FINALLY going to be a trigger for them.

        The story really isn’t as dark as all that might make it sound like. This reminds me about a time I was talking about The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, referencing something from the rape scene, but my friend had to ask for clarification, “WHICH rape scene?”

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      2. Still don’t see the point. Triggers aren’t “it makes me uncomfortable to read” — they’re “sparks an anxiety spiral” or “hello, delusional episode”.

        Them getting diluted in popular use annoys the hell out of my inner psychologist.

        There’s a difference between a trigger event and a berserk button topic. I wish people would learn it. -_-

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  4. When you are wondering who is in a chapter, check the tags first: the demon’s name is Scorn.

    For those of you who are saying it can’t be a hidden daughter of Elilial, I agree that would be against current evidence, but why else would Vadrieny react? She does not remember anything specific about her prior life. Would she react that strongly to imprisonment of a type of demon instead of a specific demon? That doesn’t seem likely either. But the specific demonic appearances that Vadrieny knows are from the tapestry depicting the daughters of Elilial:

    All seven of them had the same burning eyes, but beyond that, their features were a mishmash. Horns, hooves, claws… Some had wings, though only hers seemed made of fire. Four had fiery hair. There was a more mundane commonality to their features, too, a certain angularity to their faces, a tall and rangy aspect of their build that spoke of their mother’s blood.

    And we know from Along Came a Spider, Part 3, that black and purple can be colors of Elilial’s daughters: Azradeh is described as “She had birdlike talons for feet, though, and her hair was an ordinary if glossy black. Wings spread from behind her shoulders, feathered like a bird’s in shades of deep purple and midnight blue, though small claws were visible at their joints.” (Prologue – Volume 3)

    I could go on point by point, but the bottom line is that Vadrieny’s reaction does not fit if the prisoner is “generic demon #44”; current evidence doesn’t fit if Scorn is a daughter of Elilial.

    And really, how in the world did a practicing demonologist get so stupid as to mistake what he has for a succubus?

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    1. “I could go on point by point, but the bottom line is that Vadrieny’s reaction does not fit if the prisoner is “generic demon #44”; current evidence doesn’t fit if Scorn is a daughter of Elilial.”
      Vadrieny would probably not recognize her sister anyway, she shouldn’t remember them. Perhaps the appearance is close enough that she lost it? Perhaps it is really one of her sister but diminished in some way?

      “how in the world did a practicing demonologist get so stupid as to mistake what he has for a succubus?”
      I would say if someone using the one kind of magic which is a quasi garantee to get cancer. Then pay fortune for putting an installation to summon a demon in order to “break her”, he is pretty stupid. Seriously, he doesn’t work and is apparently able to buy costly “fairy crap”. He could probably have hired company anyway which would also be less dangerous (and probably less costly).

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    2. Remember Teal’s bonus chapter. It took her a while to find Vadrieny’s real form. Until then the result of the demon taking over was barely recognizable.
      Succubi are shapeshifters, too. If one clings to a form…

      Maybe Scorn is another mix like Vadrieny, only this time the other way around? Human mind in demon body? Although how another arch demon could have survived when Teal basically performed a miracle to make it happen once .. I don’t know.

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    3. At this point, there are a couple things that don’t seem to add up. He’s obviously not overconfident, because overconfidence doesn’t overkill. He also doesn’t get that all the holy sigils in the world won’t stop a succubus because that’s not how they play. The succubus would convince him to turn them off.

      This means that he’s not just stupid–he’s either uber-deceptive or uber-naive. Which brings me to ask–where did he learn warlockery? I think Ludec is being played by someone, and I also suspect that someone happens to be linked to whatever Yornhaldt found last chapter.

      It is perhaps too early to say for sure, but I’m wondering what the chances are of a rogue faction of the Black Wreath–a faction, perhaps, that is pursuing vengeance for whoever murdered her daughter.

      As far as what caused Vadrieny to burst out…I don’t think it was a daughter of Elial. I’m guessing she reacted to a threat, mainly because whatever Ludec did summon, it was an immediate enough threat to make Shaeine lose her composure. I honestly don’t recall that EVER happening before (barring her first meeting with Tellwyrn🙂 ).

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    4. Could also be a granddaughter of Elilial, with a strong enough resemblance to her mother or an aunt that V thought she recognized her from the painting.

      …wouldn’t it be funny, though, if Vadrieny had a daughter all this time?

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    5. I do not believe the demono is a threat, or someone related to Vadrieny.

      There is the fact that she doesn’t remember anything about her “old live”, and if the picture of Elilial’s daughters was enough to trigger a “It’s her!” moment, Teal would’ve also reacted.
      But instead it is Vadrieny who suddenly comes out, all hell-bent on tearing down that prison. Why did she do that?
      Certainly not because Teal wouldn’t have cared about the demon. There was no need for her to appear when Teal could’ve acted for the two.
      And if we think about it, what exactly is this prison like? A dark place one is trapped in, totally cut off from anything, where you are unable to do anything.

      Doesn’t that sound kinda like the nightmare the Crawl subjected Vadrieny to?

      Right now she is basically witnessing how someone else is tortured with what she considers her worst fear and nightmare. Thinking about it like that, it makes sense to me that Vadrieny acted the way she did.
      Speculating that a random hedge-warlock with more money than brains is somehow able to hide one of Elilials daughters from her, someone who is considered a god… doesn’t that feel a bit too farfetched?
      Besides, there were 6 confirmed immolations via demonic possession, so who was the “fake daughter” and where did she come from?

      Like

  5. Typos:

    On marble bust
    One marble bust

    Lord Sherwin
    (in my experience, titles are used with the last name, not the first one)

    Shaeine/Sheaine

    Reactions:

    OK, Leduc is a crazy obsessive caster. Who hopes to ‘train’ a succubus even though he caves to real social pressure in short order. Good thing he didn’t actually get a succubus – he would be putty in her… hands already.

    His wards are good enough to snuff Vadrieny? Wow, they are powerful.

    Still deciding whether I will weigh in on the sexual violence commentary, but I will talk about pacing: Realistically, most authors cannot create multiple worlds that are equally good in my opinion. Whether or not they can do that, most authors cannot create multiple long-form stories that are equally good in my opinion, no matter which world(s) they occur in (*see below). This is partly a matter of time and partly a matter of creativity, with a few other factors thrown in. So when I find an author with a good world and a good story in that world, I would prefer to extend my pleasure by having a longer story rather than a shorter one. Massive web serials are pretty much perfect for that. As far as pacing within the world, I think it is primarily to do with the rather wide scope and large cast of the story; I have made my comments previously when DD asked about pacing, but the short form is: the opening was slow IMO but the rest is fine.

    *(this is below) I expressed my opinion of the world and stories as my opinion because it is. If you took a random bunch of people and had them read both RR and TGAB, they might be equally liked or RR might be better. So Rowena’s Rescue might be just as good or better than TGAB based on others’ opinions, but I tried it and didn’t like it as much.

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    1. Snuffing out Vadrieny doesn’t take all that much once you remember she’s basically an infernal spell effect. Touching any higher fae would do it.

      There are fae altars and symbols of a dozen gods in that room … Vadrieny is very powerful but even she has weak points.

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  6. There was a scene in Schlock Mercenary where the protagonists were captured and being intimidated by an enemy and one of the enemy’s men reported on open intercom that a protagonist who everyone thought was dead was actually alive and kicking ass. To paraphrase that quote:

    “Ooohh, that’s going to set the whole ‘intimidation’ project back a bit.”

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  7. Morning, all! Looks like no chapter this Friday. I want you all to know that I greatly appreciate every donation, pledge and contribution. However, after a few solid weeks of Friday chapters, right now I also greatly appreciate having the day off! This is pretty much the worst time of year to work in retail, which is still what pays the bulk of my rent; I’m pushed pretty hard these days, and it’ll be more of the same for the next couple of weeks (AFTER Christmas comes the return season, which is not better).

    These little breaks are good for the story overall, I think, because they’re good for my state of mind. I’ve had time to really mull over the next few chapters and I think they will be improved for it.

    See you all Monday!

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  8. The pacing is fine it just seems off due to the serialized nature of a duuh web serial, try an archive dive and you’ll see. As for the trigger stuff in the first chapter we have a young girl being burnt alive, drug and alcohol use, a lesbian mentioned in passing, demon worshippers and as a topper suicide, so yeah if people not wanting to see the darker facets of life kept reading it’s their own damn fault.

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      1. Yeah I’d realised after I’d posted that lesbian is not a darker facet of life still a portion of the population views homosexuality as aberrant, they are wrong. It was more another example of the non-disneyPG nature of the story though given the acceptance level of homosexuality shouldn’t be too long before Disney has a gay princess.

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  9. I’ve been thinking about how the warlock in this chapter claims that 90% of being a warlock is control. Supposing that he made an honest mistake, that whatever he’s got locked up isn’t secretly in cahoots with him, what’s the other 10%? Ambition? Complacency? Foolhardiness?

    If this incident is more norm than outlier, unlike what the Black Wreath would have people believe, then the government going after them so ruthlessly isn’t as foolhardy and irresponsible as it first appeared

    Like

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