12 – 28

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“Why is it always cherry trees?” Tellwyrn complained, pacing into the inner courtyard. “Sure, they’re pretty. Useful, even. But with all the endless variety in the world—”

“On the subject of variety and preferences,” Kaisa said lightly from the branches of the enormous sakura tree growing from the center of the courtyard, “here you are, Arachne, visiting someone else’s home and about to ask for favors if I am not very much mistaken, and you introduce yourself with shrill complaints. Surely the Twilight Forest didn’t tax your entire supply of patience?”

It was a truly massive specimen of its kind, towering much larger than they naturally grew, and heavily laden with pink blossoms, offset beautifully by the heavy snow now dusting its boughs. Neither the blossoms nor the snow were in season; whichever kitsune happened to have finagled the upper hand at the moment must have found this arrangement pleasing. Kaisa herself sat on the largest, lowest branch, which was still three times Tellwyrn’s height from the ground, lounging against the trunk and plucking idly at the koto braced against her knee.

Tellwyrn stopped two yards from the base of the tree, planting her fists on her hips and staring disapprovingly up at the kitsune; Kaisa just gave her an aloof smile.

“All right, have you had your fun?” the elf demanded. “We have a contract, you know. I’m amazed you were willing to let it go at less than the full two semesters agreed upon.”

“I have invoked an early termination clause in said contract,” Kaisa replied with playful hauteur. “Due to hostile conditions on the campus and a distinct lack of respect for my personal dignity.”

“I can’t imagine it will surprise you to learn that Admestus cracked,” Tellwyrn said severely. “Immediately. Like a glass ninepin. You, yourself, deliberately arranged a lack of respect for your personal dignity in order to do this nonsense.”

“Oh?” The kitsune straightened up, blinking twice, then reached behind herself and produced a scroll of parchment apparently from nowhere. She held this up to her face as though she were painfully nearsighted, and began humming softly to herself, eyes darting rapidly back and forth across the text. Down below, Tellwyrn rolled her eyes and began tapping her foot. It took Kaisa little more than half a minute to finish perusing the scroll, at which point she held it up, pointing to it with her free hand. “You know, Arachne, I can’t find anywhere in the contract a stipulation ruling that out.”

“Why are you doing this?” Tellwyrn asked, in a suddenly quieter tone. “You are not a quitter, and you’re not this easily bored, despite the way you like to carry on. I need you, Kaisa. It’s why I asked you to come teach in the first place.”

“I’m sure Alaric has things well in hand,” Kaisa demurred. “He’s a rather unimaginative fellow, but then, good teachers sometimes are—we can’t all be as charmingly eccentric as you and I, or the young ones wouldn’t learn anything but how to make spectacles of themselves. And he is very even-tempered, not to mention so polite! A man of numerous virtues; you’re lucky to have him.”

“That’s neither here nor there, and you are avoiding the question,” the elf accused.

“Why, Arachne.” Kaisa grinned, a little too broadly, showing off her extremely sharp incisors. “Had I a suspicious nature, I could almost interpret your phrasing as a suggestion that you asked me to teach at your school for some reason other than my skill as an educator.”

“And you’re still doing it,” Tellwyrn shot back. “I know this game and I’m bored with it, Kaisa. You’re not offended, and I’m not going to bite. You know very well how much I value your intelligence, and you also know that your presence on the campus was a deterrent to more nonsense like that hellgate. Do you know what’s happening in Last Rock now?”

“Well, I would surmise you are suffering some manner of disruption caused by a very powerful and somewhat unfocused warlock, running amok in the shadows,” Kaisa said lightly. “I’m a bit behind on the news from your continent, though. I have so much to catch up on here at home, I’ve been very busy.”

“You knew this would happen?!”

“Oh, Arachne, compose yourself,” the kitsune chided gently. “As you just said, obviously I was aware of the situation. You told me about Elilial’s little trick—it’s no stretch to deduce, from there, what would happen if I removed myself from the campus. Especially now that we know dear little Embras and his Wreath have taken a shine to some of the students.”

At that, Tellwyrn bared her own teeth. “I’ve always assumed your actions were toward some greater purpose, Kaisa, but after this it had better be a good one. My students—our students—are in immediate danger! What could possibly be so important that you’d play with the whole school this way?”

“Why, Arachne, I’m simply doing what I always do,” Kaisa said with a mysterious little smile. “Teaching.”

“Who the hell do you think you’re teaching, holed away in a castle in the middle of your forest?”

Still smiling, Kaisa shrugged, and indicated the empty courtyard with a languid wave of her arm. “Do you see anyone else here?”

For a moment, Tellwyrn was actually speechless.

“You—that—I didn’t hire you to teach me!”

“Really?” Kaisa made a show of examining the parchment again, then shrugged. “Hum, it doesn’t say anything about that either. Really, Arachne, do you ever read any of the things you sign? Oh, stop swelling up like that. My sisters aren’t all as fond of you as Emi, by far—lose your temper here and something’s likely to happen to you that I can’t forfend.”

Tellwyrn very deliberately drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, her posture relaxing slightly.

“Kaisa,” she finally said in a smaller voice. “Please. The kids… I can’t protect them from this, I’ve tried. I need your help.”

Kaisa sighed softly, shook her head, and then nimbly slid off the other side of the branch. Rather than appearing below it in the fall into which she had just launched herself, she vanished behind it—then stepped out from behind the trunk at ground level a second later. Both the koto and the scroll were no longer in evidence.

“So,” she said, pacing forward, “secret arch-warlocks among the student body. At least one ambitious and unwise enough to open a hellgate over the campus—and really, Arachne, if I have one criticism of your recruitment practices it’s how many of those children I could see doing such a fool thing. However many there are, and I strongly doubt it is more than two, three at the absolute most, they have at least managed to remain concealed. Even I did not spot them. You are faced, in short, with subtlety and indirection. And how did you respond?” She spread her arms, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. “By summoning to your campus a being for whom any warlock is nothing but prey. Brute force, Arachne. Literally the greatest possible brute force that could be employed in this scenario.”

“Kaisa, if you will stop this and return to the campus, I promise you I will sit there and let you lecture me about whatever you like. I’ll give you an hour a day.”

“What was your endgame, Arachne?” The kitsune began pacing in a slow circle around her; Tellwyrn gritted her teeth, not bothering to turn and keep Kaisa in her field of view. “Had you managed to keep the warlocks suppressed, eventually they would have graduated. They would then be unleashed upon the world, with no one to stop them.”

“Two hours. That’s my final offer.”

“Despite what people say about you, I have never found you to be so…irresponsible. I have been waiting to see your plan unfold, Arachne. I left when I finally realized that…it had. That you were not building up to anything. Keeping me there, keeping them down, was the whole plan. That really is so very disappointing.”

“Oh, come off it,” Tellwyrn snapped. “Protecting my students had to be my first and highest priority. And after they graduated? Then they would no longer be under my protection, nor in a position to be a danger to my kids, and let me tell you, Kaisa, more dangerous things than untrained, over-powered warlocks have risen on this world and been unceremoniously slapped down. There’s always the Pantheon, there are still paladins… And more, now. The Empire is not to be trifled with, the dragons have banded together under one banner. Much as I’m starting to loathe him, Justinian has turned his Church into a force able to contend with such monstrosities. Hell, once they were safely away from the other kids, I’d have landed on them the moment they revealed themselves. This is still personal, to me.”

“And so, that was it?” Kaisa paused behind her, leaning forward to poke her nose over Tellwyrn’s shoulder. “Turn your problem into someone else’s problem—everyone else’s problem? Disregard the incalculable damage that would be caused to countless uninvolved parties before it was resolved? I had thought so much better of you, Arachne.”

“Is this leading up to a better idea you have, or are you just—”

“Yes!” Kaisa actually swatted her on the back of the head, prompting Tellwyrn to growl and round on her, but the kitsune had already bounded backward. “Did I think you simply as stupid and selfish as your actions suggested, I would have just ignored your plea in the first place, Arachne. You are here—I have brought you here, because a lesson needs to be learned!”

“Ugh, fine.” Tellwyrn turned and stalked toward the courtyard gates. “If you’re not going to help, I guess you’re not. What a waste of my time… Gods only know what’s happening on—”

She broke off, but did not look at all surprised, when Kaisa rounded the corner directly in front of her, striding in through the gate.

“You have come all this way, though,” the kitsune said, raising an eyebrow, “and you only just made a point of how much you value my input, Arachne. You will really march out of here without learning what you’ve come to learn, just to assuage your ego?” She folded her hands in front of her, the posture almost demure, though her expression was simply sad. “If you truly have come to so value your pride above your intellect, then I suppose you ought to go after all. It would seem there is nothing left that I—that anyone can teach you.”

Tellwyrn pursed her lips in a bitter expression. Saying nothing, she folded her arms, and raised one eyebrow expectantly.

“I am bothering with this at all,” Kaisa said softly, “because I know you already grasp the lesson—you simply haven’t applied it to yourself. You went well out of your way, in fact, to persuade none other than Naiya of this very same fact, which quite frankly is such an achievement I am almost annoyed. I doubt even I could get her to pay attention at this point, much less listen to sense. Truly, your stubbornness is a mighty force.”

“That’s your big point?” Tellwyrn said disdainfully. “That the world is changing? Please, Kaisa. Everyone—”

“Wrong!” Kaisa pointed accusingly at her. “Wrong, and you know it! The world is changing in such a way that those who once ignored it no longer can.” She took a step forward, her tail twitching, green eyes boring into Tellwyrn’s own. “Those who once bulled their way through it no longer can.”

“If you have a problem with my methods—”

“Truthfully I find your methods rather endearing, but that is not the point. You engaged me as a teacher, Arachne. Well, this is a lesson you need to learn. You can’t do this any longer.”

“What, specifically, is it you think I cannot do?”

“Everything!” Kaisa spread her arms wide. “All of this—your entire shtick. There has never been anything wrong with your mind. Nor even with your capacity for subtlety. It wasn’t easy, but I have learned the story of what you and Elilial did in Scyllithar. The whole story, Arachne.” She shook her head. “Which tells me everything I need to know about the scheming and maneuvering you must have performed to get to that point. And is that, perhaps, why you are like this? I can scarcely imagine what it must have been like—”

“Kaisa,” Tellwyrn whispered, “I will put up with much from you that I would not from anyone else. But not this. You will not pull that thread.”

“Tough,” the kitsune said bluntly. “Whether your travails among the Scyllithenes motivate your current obstinacy or not is irrelevant, except to you—and honestly, woman, I wish you would take Izara up on her multiple offers. If there has ever been anybody in urgent need of therapy, it’s you. But with regard to the point at hand, I know you are intelligent enough to be indirect, to be strategic; you just won’t, and you need to get over it. The world is not like it was under the Elder Gods, not yet…but in the shape things are taking, I see a future not unlike that one on the distant horizon. You aren’t a matchless power anymore.” She hesitated, then continued in a bare whisper. “Nor am I. Nor is anyone. The dragons, as you mentioned, have realized it, and adapted. You yourself managed to bully Naiya into adapting, and her consciousness now so diffuse it’s amazing you got her to even hold a conversation. You, though? You see the state of the world, you recognize this need, and yet…here you are. You problem is that you still think the rules don’t apply to you, just because they mostly haven’t until now. I’m afraid that much has changed.”

“What,” Tellwyrn demanded in a strained voice, “does this have to do with a renegade warlock hexing my students?”

“Is that what he is doing?” Kaisa shook her head. “You know what, Arachne. It’s a problem you, personally, cannot solve by blasting someone to atoms, or even threatening to. And so you sought to solve it by employing someone who could. That is not a solution. More importantly, it reinforces a pattern that you can no longer afford.”

“Kaisa,” Tellwyrn shouted, “this thing is un-trackable! It’s invisible, undetectable, and un-counterable. I can no more out-scheme this bastard than I can just shoot him!”

“Wrong!” Kaisa barked right back. “Wrong, ignorant, lazy. Unworthy of you! You are better than this, and it’s past time you started acting like it! If you don’t have the resources to do this, you can find more.”

“That is literally what I did!”

“You sought more force! A kitsune to counter a warlock—tactical janken when what you need is strategy, politics, subtlety.”

“I brought someone in capable of being subtle—”

Kaisa actually lunged forward, seized Tellwyrn by the shoulders, and began shaking her. “You did this so you would not have to! And I won’t have it, Arachne. This is the last chance! If you do not make your peace with the world, you will be just as helpless against the next disaster—and the disasters of the new world will be more like this than like the hellgate. Agents striking from the shadows, exercising leverage rather than force. You will be beaten, perhaps destroyed, and thanks to the responsibility you have taken to your University, your existence is no longer your own plaything to throw away when you are tired of it. Learn, Arachne. Adapt, plan, compromise. Even Avei advocates indirect strategy above confrontation in battle. Avei.” She gave her a final, hard shake for good measure. “What is your excuse?”

“I don’t know what the hell you want!” Tellwyrn snarled. “You’re not listening—no amount of scheming is going to accomplish anything here! The force you represent is the only thing that works!”

“Ah, but you are wrong,” Kaisa said, suddenly quiet again, still holding her by the shoulders. “And you know it all too well. A warlock haunts your campus—he does not haunt the streets of Tiraas. Nor Kiyosan, nor Rodvenheim, nor even Puna Dara. There are simply too many strands in the web, now—except in Last Rock. If one has the means to avoid the great Tellwyrn’s wrath, the University is the one place in this world uniquely vulnerable, because it lacks the connections that bind together the rest of civilization.”

“Those connections have too steep a price,” Tellwyrn snapped, stepping back from her.

“They have a price,” Kaisa agreed. “So does your current course. Is it steeper than watching your students being hexed while you dither helplessly?”

“Damn it, I’ve already reached out to the Empire for help, and that’s done nothing more than add to my problems!”

“Because,” Kaisa said implacably, “your University is uniquely vulnerable. To them, as much as to your current enemy. Whoever operates in this world must do so with great care, because everything they set in motion will ripple farther and faster than it ever has. Without subtlety, without strategy and restraint, a person or even a nation can easily be shaken to pieces by the vibrations she herself causes. But you? You have stubbornly kept yourself and your University separate. You’ve relied on your legend, your power and the threat of your anger to dissuade encroachers. And so, Arachne, you stand alone.”

“My students have to be free from the politics of the world, or everything we’re doing is pointless!”

Kaisa shook her head sadly. “Arachne… How free do you think you are?”

The snow drifted down around them. Thick flakes had by now formed a heavy dusting in their hair; one of Kaisa’s ears twitched as a cluster of them danced into its sensitive inner surface.

“It’s time to join the world,” Kaisa said quietly, while Tellwyrn just stared at her. She stepped forward again, reaching out to place one hand on the elf’s shoulder. “Our age has passed, Arachne. No one stands above it all any longer. Very few have that power, and soon none will; already it has come to pass that those who have the power do not have the luxury of exercising it as we once did. This is my last lesson—to you, to our students, to me… And to my sisters. They will not hear it; I can only pray you will, and that some of what I love can be saved from the future I fear.”

She sighed heavily, letting her ears droop and her tail lower to brush against the snow building on the ground.

“The time for play is over, my old friend. It’s time for us all to grow up. Hopefully…it is not too late.”

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48 thoughts on “12 – 28

  1. This chapter took a damn week to write. A week. It’s not even that long; this was the week’s fault, not the chapter.

    The good news is I’m feeling much better. For the first time since Monday, I feel like I’m actually somewhat healed from being drilled on. At any rate, I didn’t take my most recent dose of painkillers and haven’t felt the need for ’em, which is fantastic because I do not like those things. I’m a writer; my brain is everything I have. Stuff that messes with it horrifies me. I’d consider the screwy effects it had the worst part of all this had I not experienced the greatest level of pain I ever have on Monday morning. This shit has already had a measurable impact on my productivity (as you’ve clearly noticed) and I devoutly hope I never have to take such a thing again.

    Have a good weekend, all. I look forward to seeing what fucking disaster befalls next week. And so it goes.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Webb, you do what you gotta do. If it took you a week, it took you a week, and we don’t mind. You have a lot of time, but not if you don’t take care of yourself.
      Happy to know you’re doing better, though! Hope you have a good weekend!

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    2. my brain is everything I have. Stuff that messes with it horrifies me.”

      Really mate, you’re overdoing it a bit there.

      You’ve had a dental procedure done. Probably received some relatively weak opiate, tylenol-3s perhaps; if you ate a handful in one go it’d just be good for a decent high.

      And if there weren’t SOME good to that, why would people partake?

      The worst damage you’ll do to your brain is, after it wears off and you return to baseline – and trust me, you will – you’ll have a new memory. Will it be something just a mite educational, a self-aware reflection of an altered mental state, or the recollection of trembling in anxiety over what might happen, interspersed with pain?

      Take care of yourself, man. Brilliant work here. Obviously I’d like a new chapter served up every ten minutes with hot pancakes and hotter cheerleaders but a delay really is no big deal, life happens.

      Also this chapter’s about my favorite character, maybe in all fiction, so I for one don’t mind a bit. Was worth the wait.

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      1. I was prescribed a tranquilliser once, because it suppressed the self-induced motion sickness that came with some middle-ear grief. While I was on it, I liked it. While I was coming off it, I had two incompatible sets of memories. Now, I’d be very reluctant to ever take it again. I sympathise with Webb’s position.

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  2. Glad you’re feeling better. Painkillers can make a week fade away into fog like nothing else, especially for people who are very self-aware. The new installment is great! Kaisa was definitely holed up in her bedroom stewing over exactly what she was going to say when Arachne came stomping around. I bet she has a few more scrolls filled up with rant specifically for this moment

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    1. Interesting little factoid care of somebody with an education in the field: people with avoidant or OCD-like personality types don’t respond along standard lines to either opiates or other dopamine enhancers. For some reason, it just doesn’t feel comfortable and even their response to the usual dopamine-enhancing placebo effect is vastly reduced.

      It’s a feature of their baseline neurochemistry, one that the ins and outs of are still being investigated, as it has a huge impact not just on anesthesiology, but a lot of standard neuroactive treatments for a variety of conditions. And, may or may not point to other immunological quirks.

      So, you’re probably talking to somebody who doesn’t and won’t get the standard response to their meds (and, who may need to talk to their dentist about different ones). Not getting the usual high and actually finding it kind of terrifying? NORMAL — if you’re built that way. 😉

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      1. Interesting. I have both OCD and avoidant tendencies (based solely on my own observations, however) and am very sensitive to opiates and sedatives. Do you have any links to further reading?

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      2. I checked the go-to few journals and databases… pay-walled. Unless you have a very nice university library nearby. Freebie links… well, I just tried Google. And, it’s terrible. 😛 So, that’s not helpful. Sorry. 😐

        Um — you can find some stuff on bipolar and its effects easily enough (although it’s the bare bones). Um. *flounders*

        Argh, general internet: quit spewing pages and pages up about the basics of armchair diagnosis, already. -_-

        Come on, bargain basement, don’t fail me now! *tries Psychology Today in a fit of desperation* … *swats PT* Why did I bother? I should know better. 😛 No; pages on pain killer addiction, histrionic and borderline not what I asked for. Go away, cur: risk-taking in the B cluster is not what I looking for. Git.

        If in doubt, hit a bar near a hospital and find some anesthesiologist and therapists. Ask them to shove the hardcopy or pdfs on their Kindles or iPhones at you. 😐

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  3. I always thought that Arachne was/is one of the most capable people in the subject of subtlety and scheming. Only she acted like an all powerfull bruiser because its a great cover. Nobody expects intricate plans from the person who’s motto is “find a bigger hammer”.
    However this chapter makes me wonder, is it that she Won’t change or is it that she can not change? Is she bound somehow? Or has she become like the gods she killed, affected and changed by the perceptions of society?

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    1. I’ve been pretty sure she’s been suicidal for a very long time and was just acting like that so the world would finally get it’s shit together and kill her since she isn’t that suicidal.

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      1. She said as much in one of the short stories; the one where she came out of the deep wild and first met Yornhaldt.

        The sentiment was something long the lines that she wanted it all to be over, but didn’t have it in her to just quit, so she went into the Deep Wild looking for something dangerous enough to kill her. The Deep Wild chewed on her for a decade or so before it spat her out as indigestible.

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    2. My guess is that if her bluster was at one time a mask, it isn’t as much any more. Personality, even for the most stubborn, is a fluid thing. “Fake it till you make it” holds true: The longer you pretend to be something, the more it becomes a part of who you are. Children grow up pretending to be the people they are as adults, and Arachne has spent so long playing the part of the bully that the thought of acting political repulses her.

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    3. I think the last time she made an intricate plan something went very very very wrong. And she is still paying for it. So she swore off ever doing anything like that again.

      It’s a bit basic, but not surprising. Arachne is clearly smart enough to handle this. She… just doesn’t want to. And the biggest thing that can cause that is trauma.

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      1. Whoops. Misclick. Silly mobile devices.

        I’ll add a few monthly bucks to your patreon this weekend. From my own experience, I know very well having no money adds a ridiculous amount of stress, which doesn’t help recovery in the least.

        As it happens, in my professional live, I’m the marketing manager behind a small tool called Adblock Plus. 🙂 I’d love to get in touch with you to talk about potential monetization options without paywalls. (We’re currently working on something called Flattr Plus which I think you’d be a perfect candidate for.)

        This offer has no time limit, and it’s a personal one. I’d love to see you being able to make a better living from your exceptional writing.

        (Note: I’d still love to purchase TGaB as print-on-demand books. So much.)

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Wait, what happened with Naiya? Has this incident come up before, or is it yet another new shred of backstory? I’m usually pretty good at connecting these more disparate fragments as I read, like the Scyllith references also present in this chapter, but all I recall explicitly involving Naiya is Ruda’s exposition when they found her sigil in Scorn’s divine supermax and told her to poke it with a stick.

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    1. see the juniper bonus chapter for the arachne/naiya thing, #4, Heart of the Wild.

      tl;dr: Arachne went to naiya to convince her to, basically, adapt, resulting in Juniper attending Unseen University.

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  5. I really liked the lesson. I had always kinda expected Arachne to be secretly very crafty, and her domineering hammer => nail approach to be a carefully built facade that works as a shortcut most of the time. But this here shows that while she has the capacity for it, she really doesn’t want to. Very interesting.

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  6. >You yourself managed to bully Naiya into adapting, and her consciousness now so diffuse it’s amazing you got her to even hold a conversation.
    *consciousness is now so

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  7. Hey Webb, so…aside from the fact that your work is brilliant as ever and never hesitates to make me respond emotionally and perfectly…please, take the time to look after yourself, rest and recuperate. I desperately want to hear this story, but there is no use in you pushing yourself until you can’t keep going because you feel like you have to. You are truly brilliant and you deserve and need to give yourself a break. Keep updating if you want, but try not to pressure yourself about it. Everyone needs to have a rest now and then and you deserve and need a break (in both ways) far more than most. *sends hugs*

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I think this is a somewhat ironic moment for this lesson, since this is one of the few real problems Arachne has run into that’s fundamentally apolitical. When she bullied kingdoms, gods, and Dragons… those were all great times to use a lighter hand. She could have gotten what she wanted with a great deal less ill will, ill will that may well cost her,

    This situation on the other hand really is a random monster attack. It a situation created to waste her time by a god, and avoiding it would have involved actual moral compromise.

    I don’t know, it just seems weird that this is where she tries to drive the lesson home. Though regardless, it’s a lesson Arachne needs.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Can I say, I adore the fact you started off with ‘let’s make Tellwryn the Mariest of Mary Sues’ and ended up with not just a powerful and nuanced character, but managed to give her character development solely through using ideas, concepts and forces that have been in motion from the start of the story.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hi, everybody, checking in with a schedule update here. Generally speaking, with the new two-chapter weeks, I intend to update on Mondays and (if applicable) Fridays, just because that works best with my current work schedule. This week, though, the chapter’s going to be on Wednesday.

    Don’t worry, no new disasters yet. In fact, I’m doing better; making do with just ibuprofen most of the time, and sometimes not even that. I only need the wacky pills when I sleep, now, because lying down sets off the tooth for some reason. So does temperature; I can’t eat anything hot or cold, and boy does that rule out most of the options. Otherwise, though, it’s improving.

    The issue has to do with my creative process, and how this week has affected it. I write basically constantly in my head, and that’s vital to my process. I’m always working ahead, plotting events, coming up with dialogue and scenarios and generally forming things in advance before I sit down to write them, and I think it’s the main reason I’ve been able to mostly update faster than a lot of other serials do, as well as the reason I’m particularly vulnerable to depressive episodes.

    This week, between the pain and the drugs, my creativity has been fully stopped for pretty much the first time I can remember. It took the whole week to grind out this last chapter, and that I had mostly arranged in my head before starting. Right now, I have nothing but a very vague idea of what’s coming next. I’ve tried over and over today to start work on the chapter and I still have a blank document and no notion what to write.

    Don’t do drugs, kids.

    I’m going back to work this week, and if my jaw isn’t better by Tuesday when I’m scheduled, then that’s just too damn bad. I use my commute and the more mindless parts of my job to mentally write; looks like I need some immersion in my usual routine to get back on track.

    While that’s percolating, though, let me just chat about the future a bit. Based on reader advice, TGAB ebooks (and possibly print-on-demand versions) are coming. I need money to pay an editor and an artist, and plan to launch a Kickstarter to fund it, which hadn’t even occurred to me until some of you made the suggestion. Since then, life has caught up and kicked me a few times, so I haven’t begun, but I also haven’t forgotten. Point being, I would like to include some extra material in the book versions, and I wonder if anybody has requests? I’m thinking of a short story or two for each, so what glimpses into the world would you like to see? Of course, I make no promises that any suggestion will be followed, but it helps me to know what people are interested in.

    I’ve also made the decision to pursue traditional publication. That’s a tiresome process that begins with finding a literary agent, but the fact is I have a bit of a leg up on most first-time authors in that there’s an established audience here. I’ve been updating TGAB frequently for two and a half years, and for most of that time it’s been in the top ten on TWF. That’s enough of a track record that I think I’ll have good luck pitching myself to agents and then publishers. In particular, I plan a four-volume series covering the Enchanter Wars. When I have time, I’ll need to actually crank out a draft so I have something to show prospective agents, but that is the rough plan as of now.

    Thanks as always for all your patience, and I’ll see y’all on Wednseday!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Would a series covering the Enchanter Wars feature Arachne and Mary? Because as far as we’ve been told they were kind of playing important roles back then. I’d be interested anyway.

      If your tooth still hurts tomorrow, see a good dentist and have them take an x-ray. If you’re still experiencing pain then that means the infection isn’t gone or the procedure damaged a nerve. Don’t let it become a chronic problem.

      Kickstarter is a great idea and I’ll put some money forward for that, too. Side stories about the faculty members would be interesting. How did Emilio become so good at martial arts? Why is Janis a house mother, when she seems to be a harmless piece of fluff (which I doubt she actually is)? What about Mrs. Oak? etc

      Get well soon. 🙂

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    2. I wish you the best dealing with your current troubles, adjusting to your new schedule, getting off the unpleasant drugs, and making progress on your new projects! So freaking excited about the Enchanter Wars series, not to mention the prospect of rereading this series after an editing pass and some more interludes/etc. added. I personally would find it really interesting if we could see more:

      of Narisian culture/society/characters,

      of the Izarite cult members (Branwen or Justinian backstory would be especially nice if possible),

      or of the personal backgrounds/personalities of more of the deities, old or new (ie including elilial, themnyra, the pantheon, naiya, and scyllith, and preferably some of the dead Elder Gods like Tarthriss or the one who enslaved Eserion pre-uprising).

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    3. I hereby pledge support to your kickstarter/ebooks.
      Have to admit that I am very torn on the “extra stuff” for ebook people, while I am obviously a greedy bastard who wants to read moar words, I am generally not a fan of putting any part of a story into an exclusive “only in the ebook” format – even if it is something completely insignificant, to me, it sort of invokes a “transaction” mindset, where my thinking is “I want to support this story and I like it so much that this allows me to carry it around on a flash drive”. Obviously, I am the sort of person that marketing people wake up screaming about, but eh.
      So, that being said, to put *something* special in the ebook, how about some nice artwork? I still want that mural of Rafe kicking a dragon in the nuts as a desktop background 🙂

      Regarding traditional publishing, well, I think you are likely already aware of this but, a word of warning – at least on this side of the pond, publishers will pay you cents on the books they sell for 15 bucks, especially if you are a newcomer, and unless you land an earth-shattering hit that allows you to renegotiate your contract from a better position, you won’t see much money. I also know of at least one author in the US that openly calls for people to buy his work as ebooks on amazon instead of buying print, as he gets 75% of the profits from ebook and next to nothing from print.

      Whatever you end up doing, I endorse the project 🙂

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    4. I wholeheartedly endorse the idea of funding an ebook through kickstarter. Not only because it means I get to have it in ebook form, which I’m a big fan of, but it also means I get more opportunities to throw money at you to support your writing, which I love.

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      1. There is almost no downside for most authors on going through the literary agent+publisher route in publishing, safe for some black sheep and idiots among the aforementioned agents and publishers.

        Charlie Stross did an interesting series of blog posts detailing the publishing process from an authors perspective.
        He spent quite a bit of text examining the main arguments against established publishers and agents, namely loss of creative control and money.
        The former is always the point once you stop writing only for yourself and enter a formal relationship with the people who’s job it is to sell the product you create.
        The latter… there are statistics about the earnings of authors, both with and without literary agents. Statistically, authors with literary agents earn more, but, take that with a grain of salt, since statistics here get screwed because more successful writers are more likely to have an agent. But their insight and experience can be invaluable when negotiating contracts with publishers.
        I can really recommend the blog, even if for people not planning to publish anything: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/04/common-misconceptions-about-pu-1.html

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  11. I would love to read Principia’s exploits, especially the scam that led to Trissiny’s birth, paladin stories from the age of adventures, Punjabi pirate stories before they were under the emperors thumb, gnome adventures, more about dwarves… Your world is so deep there’s so much to write about. That’s leaving aside plot heavy stuff like what really happened with Arachne and Elilial in Scylithene, or the real story of the Pantheon’s battle with the infinite order.

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  12. Hello, Mr Webb. Congratulations on your huge, intricate and highly entertaining story — and your incredible work ethic. That you continue to write even through anxiety, physical pain and the depressive part of your bipolar cycle impresses me tremendously; I’m a depressive, and *I* haven’t been able to write anything for going-on 10 years. 😦

    I’m also deeply impressed by the *respect* with which you treat your readers, commenters and contributors. I’ve read (or at least skimmed) your whole online opus + comments, and I’ve noticed that your tone never falters; even when faced with an obnoxious, critical and verbose commenter, you remain polite and engaged.

    You’re incredible, Mr. Webb, as a writer AND as a person. Thank-you for the story.

    And now that I’ve finished gushing [ 😉 ], something *I* would like to read more about is 1]Gnomes, 2]Orcs or 3]Bishop Basra. Perhaps a Gnome alienist (or whatever they call their psycho-social specialists) attempting to diagnose or counsel Basra might do the trick…?

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