12 – 48

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Milanda didn’t fly reflexively into action, either to attack or flee, which she took as a good sign. So far, her augmented reflexes had proved they could both kill whatever threat could be killed and run from one that couldn’t, all without her conscious input. The fact that the kitsune’s statement didn’t provoke a response from her suggested she wasn’t entirely serious.

“I’ve missed your penchant for the dramatic,” Walker said with a smile, further bearing out this assumption. “Would you release her, please? Dryads are not accustomed to being manhandled.”

Akane shifted to give Hawthorn a contemptuous look; the dryad was snarling and whining, while trying to yank the hand free from her ear, without success.

“Perhaps the experience would be beneficial to her in the long run,” Akane suggested, but after a deliberate moment, probably just to prove her point, she let go. Hawthorn immediately skittered backward, clutching her ear and glaring accusingly.

“You are a big jerk!”

Akane turned a cold shoulder to her, focusing her attention back on Walker. “I hope you can explain the condition of this place, Yrsa. It appears to have been upended by some kind of cyclonic toddler, whether before or after these Tiraan managed to disable the Avatar, I cannot begin to guess. Everything I have seen so far suggests to me that these people absolutely do not need to be left in custody of this facility!”

“Come on, Akane, you know better than that,” Walker replied. “No current humans would be able to shut down an active Avatar.”

“I should think you, of all people, would be familiar enough with the adventuring breed not to make assumptions regarding what humans can or cannot do,” Akane said haughtily, folding her arms. “I have learned the hard way that humans require careful shepherding—for their own good, not to mention everyone else’s.”

“Be that as it may,” Walker said, still in a deliberately calm tone, “the Avatar is fine. He’s been pulled from the main network here and installed in the gravitational isolation chamber. He did this, himself, willingly, and you can go talk to him if you wish. I’m sure he’d be glad to see you.”

“How about you stay away from there!” Hawthorn said shrilly. Everyone ignored her.

“Assuming you are correct,” Akane sniffed, “that doesn’t explain everything going on here. Why are the Tiraan keeping three dryads prisoner, to say nothing of you?”

“Nobody here’s a prisoner!” Hawthorn snapped. “Everybody but you is invited!”

Walker sighed softly. “I…sort of am a prisoner, Hawthorn. But!” She held up a hand to forestall Akane, the tip of whose tail had begun twitching in suppressed agitation. “As much as I don’t enjoy being kept underground, I’m also not inclined to fight it—not because the Imperials intimidate me, but because this is for the best.” She turned her full focus on the kitsune, her expression intent, almost pleading. “I don’t know if you’re aware of what I’ve been…like, since I was brought back to this plane.”

“I have heard…whispers,” Akane acknowledged quietly. “Troubling ones.”

Walker nodded. “As long as I’m down here, nobody dies from being near me. I consider it…a fair deal. I hate being a…walking hazard, Akane. Being a houseplant isn’t ideal, but it beats the hell out of the alternative.”

The kitsune shot Milanda a look. “I see. And…this? Standing here, clearly brimming with stolen power?”

“Given,” Hawthorn interjected before Milanda could speak, “not stolen. Milanda is very nice to us, unlike some uninvited visitors to this place!”

“I hardly even know where to begin with what the Empire is doing with all these children of Naiya,” Akane snapped. “Just the mere fact that they are in possession of this facility and have had the temerity to alter it is disturbing enough. I take some slender comfort in the evidence that they haven’t penetrated far.”

“Not even as far as we have,” Walker interjected. “The Imperials can only get into the access hall, out there, and the GIC.”

“Regardless,” Akane barreled on, “there are dangers in here which the Tiraan Empire unequivocally does not needs to get its hands upon! Yrsa, do you realize there’s an entire cache of anthropomorphs in suspended animation in this port?” She curled her lip disdainfully. “All females, in stasis chambers bearing Druroth’s personal seal, and you know very well what that means. Disgusting. It would be kinder to terminate their life support before the Tiraan find them. Those creatures have suffered enough without being unleashed in a barbaric cluster of mud huts like what’s—”

“You are not killing anyone!” Milanda snapped.

Total silence fell, even over Hawthorn. Akane turned a piercing stare directly on Milanda. Her eyes flicked over her once, and her right ear twitched.

“And,” she finally said, the full weight of her disdain filling her voice, “you are…?”

Despite the fatigue still pressing down on her, and the tension of the moment, Milanda had a sudden realization. Her outburst had been born of her own weariness and frustration, yes—some deferred horror from the death she herself had recently caused. But in its aftermath, the pressure of having to adapt and talk her way around this frighteningly powerful being, something snapped into place in her mind.

“Someone,” she said quietly, “who needs your help.”

Akane favored her with a scornful little smile. “Child, I give you credit for brazenness—whatever little credit that deserves. Why in the world do you imagine I would want to help you? I thought I made it plain I am a hair’s breadth from wiping your civilization clean like the stain I consider it to be.”

Walker had just mentioned that Akane had a fondness of drama, but it didn’t seem wise to make a point of that. “I really don’t think you mean that, Akane-sama.” The kitsune lifted her eyebrows fractionally at the formal address, but an instant later the corners of her mouth also tilted up almost imperceptibly. Encouraged, Milanda pressed on. “I understand all this must be shocking and an unpleasant reminder, but I can’t see you as unreasonable enough to take it out on so many uninvolved people. An entire culture.” It verged on fawning, but considering what this creature was capable of, that didn’t seem inappropriate. Hopefully, Milanda was reading Walker’s cues correctly, and her assessment of Akane’s temperament wasn’t too far off…

“An entire culture,” the kitsune said disdainfully. “You are down here, and acquainted with Yrsa; do I infer that you know something of the true history of this world? Something more than people at large have remembered?”

“We’ve had some very good conversations about history, yes,” Milanda said neutrally. “Obviously, I can’t say how much I may not yet understand…”

“Not much, I bet,” Hawthorn muttered. “We should think about calling her Talker instead of Walker.”

“One of my sisters and I are conducting a continuous go tournament,” Akane said, “which has run longer than your entire civilization. I am presently up ninety-three thousand four hundred thirty two games to ninety-three thousand four hundred twenty nine. Child, you are addressing the heir and custodian of the longest uninterrupted cultural lineage in existence. The kitsune have watched over and shaped the continuous prosperity of a society which stretches back long before the settling of this world—a society which was one of the noblest and most graceful cultures to exist on humanity’s birthplace. And you talk to me about culture? You’re a collection of primitives, jabbering in a borrowed language and pantomiming a hodgepodge of long-dead traditions, shaped by forces whose very existence you don’t even imagine. If Tiraas were wiped out this instant, the world would recover and be none the worse for the event in what history would come to record as an eyeblink.”

“Uninterrupted is really stretching it,” Walker said suddenly.

Akane turned a frown on her. “What?”

“Mother turned her back on her own society,” Walker said, “just as all her Order did. She later repented and revived its memories, but that’s definitely an interruption.”

“Pedantry does not suit you, Yrsa,” Akane said irritably. “My point stands.”

“More importantly,” Walker insisted, “there is no possible way an entire culture could survive completely intact after passing through the bottleneck of one woman’s recollections, goddess or no. I know you and the others did your own research in the Order’s files to piece together other fragments, but still—”

“Just who is this girl, Yrsa,” Akane interrupted with a faint smile, “that you’re so concerned for her welfare as to deliberately irritate me in order to draw my focus from her?”

Walker hesitated, glanced at Milanda, then turned her stare back on Akane.

“I have sisters,” she said quietly. “Many lost to me now…some few I can again speak to. And I owe that to Milanda’s intervention. But in all the universe, I have exactly one friend.” She shot Milanda another look, this one with a trace of asperity. “And it’s all I can do to keep her from getting herself killed, without you helping.”

The kitsune actually grinned at her, then turned her head to examine Milanda with more interest, now, and some amusement. “Very well, I’ll consider myself caught. You are correct, young lady—I am not shy about my occasional capriciousness, but genocide is something I would much rather threaten than carry out. Still, my original question remains.” She tilted her head back, her expression aloof now; her ears, though, were alert and swiveled forward, which Milanda interpreted as a positive sign. “Why should I help you? And to do what?”

This called for words to be chosen with great care. If only she were a little better rested for this confrontation…

“If you’ve been investigating the computers here,” she said, “I suspect you have some idea, at least, what this facility does now.”

“Yes, your little…project,” Akane sniffed, pursing her lips in disapproval. “I applaud the ingenuity, at least, but I take a very dim view of your Empire using the Order’s technology for its own benefit.”

“They didn’t just do that, however,” Milanda said firmly. “The Tiraan who first found this place couldn’t have forced the Avatar to move—he chose to cooperate, and to set up this system for them. And now it needs help to be repaired.”

“A curious fact, if true,” the kitsune said with a shade too much disinterest to be believable, “but I am still waiting to learn what this has to do with me.”

“The Avatar isn’t loyal to the Empire,” Milanda said, watching her reactions closely. “He’s following the last directive left to him by Tarthriss: to be of service to the survivors of the human race.” This was what she had just finally figured out, the thing that explained the Avatar’s recent machinations, as well as his entire presence here and willingness to work for the Silver Throne. It was amazing, in hindsight, that she hadn’t put it all together before. “He is doing this because he considers the Tiraan Empire to be good for humanity. At least,” she added pointedly, “in its present form. And that’s the really important thing, here. A government is not its governor; even a benign leader will be succeeded, and eventually a less competent and/or more malevolent one will rise. Having a system like the Hands of the Emperor does a great deal to secure the safety of the Silver Throne while the system works—and while its operator judges that the Throne deserves it. But if he decides it doesn’t, then he has…leverage.”

“What you are suggesting,” Akane mused, still studying her quizzically, “is that I, of all people, should be placed in a position to have that…leverage. I take it you, yourself, are skeptical of this Empire’s beneficence?”

“My loyalty is to the Emperor,” Milanda said quietly. “He tasked me with restoring the Hands to their proper state. But in the end… His loyalty is to the Empire, and to its people. He may not have realized that the Hands were placed in part as a measure to keep the Empire on the right track, but I know him, and I believe he would approve. One lever does not control the Throne, after all. This whole situation has proved the Emperor and the Empire can survive with minimal disruption without them. Even if you don’t trust or care for the Empire, having the ability to neutralize the Hands does not make you a crippling threat to it. But it does make you—and Walker, and the Avatar, and whoever else is involved—a party who can insist on being listened to.”

There was a beat of silence, in which they all regarded each other—most thoughtfully, Hawthorn with a blend of confusion and mounting alarm.

“This is a compromise,” Milanda finally added. “It’s not the ideal outcome I would have wanted. It is, of course, an imposition to ask it of you, Akane-sama. Keeping Walker here is certainly an imperfect balance of her own interests, and even the dryads infer both costs and benefits from their involvement. But I believe this is the best thing for everyone. For us, for the Empire, for the world.”

“I believe you are getting ahead of yourself,” Akane said loftily. “You are correct that I have little care for the Empire. I’m puzzled by your conclusion that I should care for the world itself. I have my sisters and our nation to consider. Nothing more.”

“However,” Milanda countered with a smile, “I am also talking to a being who can erase me with a flick of her tail—but I note that’s not the point you emphasized when challenged. You talked of culture, tradition. Yes, I am gambling, and perhaps I’m wrong… But something tells me you do care about the world. Maybe more than you’ve ever allowed yourself to express.”

Akane stared at her in silence, one ear twitching.

“The Infinite Order are gone,” Milanda said, meeting her gaze. “Whatever promises you made to Naiya to stay on your island… We both know she has not been herself for far longer than Tiraas has existed. She sent you there for your own protection, from threats that no longer exist. It’s not just that, though. The fact is, Akane-sama, you might not find it within your power to wipe out the Imperial capital now. Oh, you’re a threat which could cause unprecedented damage, but… In the century since the Enchanter Wars, the Empire has become something that can neither be ignored, nor unilaterally destroyed, by any other power remaining in the world. Even the dragons have found themselves compelled to come to terms with this. I’m not asking for a pure favor; this is a chance for you to take a hand in the shaping of the world.”

Akane continued to stare for a long moment. Then, unexpectedly, she smiled. “You sound very much like Kaisa.”

“I see,” Milanda said carefully. “Is that…a compliment?”

“Yes and no,” the kitsune said offhandedly. “She is someone whom I dearly love, who frustrates me to no end with her wild notions. You may consider me, for now…tentatively interested. Let us go see what Avatar 01 has to say. This should be quite revelatory; it’s been a very long time since I spoke with him last.”

“Now wait just a minute!” Hawthorn shouted. “This crazy jackass with the tail is not coming to our home! I live there, dang it—my sisters are there! What the crap do you people think you’re—”

She fell very abruptly silent as Akane surged forward, drawing herself up to her full height. Their proximity emphasized that the kitsune actually wasn’t terribly tall, which seemed incongruous, given the way her personality filled the whole room. Physically, though, she needed the extra few inches added by her ears to stand over Hawthorn. Even so, the dryad backed away, staring at her in alarm.

“And just what do you mean,” Akane said in a dangerously quiet tone, “by expressing yourself like a common tavern wench, to say nothing of cavorting about in the nude? The sheer disgrace. You are a child of Naiya, heir to a legacy whose importance you can’t even begin to grasp. Very well, I see we have a great deal of work to do—here, to say nothing of these humans and their little pet project. Henceforth, I shall expect better of you.”

“I—what the—hey!” Hawthorn finally drew herself up to her own full eight, crossing her arms and trying for a haughty expression, which only managed to appear childishly sullen next to Akane’s far more expert poise. “I am a dryad. I do what I do, and I don’t need to explain myself to anybody! Just who do you think you are?”

This time, Akane moved so fast she didn’t appear to move at all. Suddenly, she was just there, her nose inches from Hawthorn’s, without seeming to have crossed the intervening space. The dryad froze, eyes widening; the kitsune smiled, and something in the expression was far more alarming than her previous anger.

“You,” she said in a tone of silken steel, “may call me onee-san.”

Hawthorn stared at her. Then, very slowly, she leaned to the side to peer around Akane at the others. “Walkeeerrrrrrr?”

“It’s out of my hands now, kid,” Walker said with clear amusement. “’Fraid you’re on your own.”

“Enough of this,” Akane said decisively. “We will go discuss these matters with the Avatar—and then, depending in part on what I find there, we shall proceed…” She swept a piercing stare across the room, Milanda, and finally Hawthorn. “…with whatever needs doing.”


In a perfectly nondescript apartment in a lower-class but not too rough neighborhood of Tiraas, an unremarkable-looking man in an uninteresting, inexpensive suit sat beside an open window, a newspaper held in front of his face. Its angle did not obscure his view out the window, or through the windows of the apartment across the street and one story down.

At the sound of footsteps in the hall, he coughed discreetly, lifting one hand to his mouth and making a fist to cover it. The steps, muffled slightly by the carpet, shuffled slightly as their occupant carefully stepped over the stack of newspapers in the hall which had toppled over and partially blocked the way—providing the pretext for her to step in the prearranged pattern. It was the right sequence of steps and pauses, but even so, the man by the window did not lower his hand until she had entered the room and he recognized her face. Only then did he let his arm come to rest on the end table next to his reading chair, removing his fingers from the handle of the wand concealed up his sleeve.

“Evening, Rex,” the woman said cheerfully to the man, whose name of course was not Rex. “How’s the birdwatching?”

“Blessedly dull,” he replied with a bland smile. “The eagle hasn’t left the nest—gods send this is all that’ll happen until this whole business is resolved.”

“Nothing definitive from back at the office on that,” she replied, settling herself into the other chair facing his and positioned next to the room’s other window, “but indications are things are settling down. Whoever’s working on the problem seems to be getting results. The Hands are stabilizing, causing fewer ruffled feathers. Still suddenly popping up where they can’t be, though.”

“Mm. If they can just work out how to keep that new teleporting without having it coupled with them being unstable, that’ll be the bee’s knees,” Rex grunted, tossing his paper down next to the chair and getting to his feet. “Thanks for being early, by the way.”

“No worries—I know you pulled a double. No sense in any of us getting too run-down,” she said, smiling, but not looking at him. Her attention was also not on the book she had picked up and opened, but at the apartment across the way, watched through her peripheral vision. “Grab a few winks, I’ll hold this down.”

“Cheers.”

He strode from the room, betraying none of the stiffness that should be expected of a man who had not moved in four hours. The woman hummed softly to herself, and turned a page. She hadn’t read a single line, of course.

Outside the open window and a few feet straight up, two figures dressed in black were perched on the eaves. Flora and Fauna exchanged a long, loaded look, then in unison turned and bounded away over the rooftops, silent as falling leaves.

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47 thoughts on “12 – 48

  1. Huh. That’s Melinda doing what she’s good at. It looks a lot different to her trying to be a secret agent, or even her herding dryads.

    Walker doesn’t seem nearly as crazy as she was in solitary confinement. Sure, being let out is a change, but it’s a very fast recovery.

    One typo I saw –

    her own full eight,
    her own full height,

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    1. Shes not human, whatever else they are the psychology of the valkeries was designed for immortality, that probably requires them being able to maintain stability and sanity over a long period.

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  2. Excellent chapter, and an early one at that! I have to wonder how many times in the past Yrsa and Akane had discussed historical Japanese and Scandinavian culture and their mother (originally I had assumed the Valkyries were so named because of their circumstances, but now I half suspect Naiya was of mixed Japanese and, I don’t know, Swedish descent).

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  3. Well, things are becoming even MORE interesting I see…

    Also loved the chapter, and I’ve been wondering what Flora and Fauna were up too… Hope we see more of them in the near future.

    They are definitely one of my favourite characters of this story, just due to the sheer potential of what they are means.

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    1. Flora and Fauna are great. I also wonder what their student “Jasmine” is up to. She going through the whole Bruiser’s Academy with (insert University Alumni name I can’t remember) or being a little more Sneak-Thievey.

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  4. Wow, fae power can be scary in its own subtle way. So Milanda makes a Decision that she needs a powerful fae user, and suddenly they’re as good as lining up for her so she can *pick and choose* from among them. The green dragon wasn’t a good fit? How about this kitsune then?

    I sh

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  5. Gotta say my sympathies were all with Hawthorne in this exchange. Akane is obnoxiously arrogant. She has no idea what has been going on here over the years but feels qualified to judge the situation and everyone involved. She’s not so different from the dryads really, smarter but as socially oblivious.

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    1. True enough, she basically criticizes people for butting in and messing with/trying to control everything, while doing just that.

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      1. On the other hand, she probably has a great deal more experience with this stuff, and she has lived through multiple apocalypses/millennia so I suppose that she has a good idea what happens when people get it in their head to start doing shit like this and is sick of having to put up with other people’s messes.

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    2. Dryads are arrogant powerful and incompetent, Kitsune are arrogant powerful and seem to be very competent. Whether one is scarier than the other depends on whether they are with you or against you

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  6. As soon as Akane is on board I really hope Milanda revisits this geas thing. Sure she can’t talk about it. But as seen when she tried to bring it up with Walker, she can try, and that trying (and failing) is obvious to observers. If she tries again with Akane, it might be easy for the kitsune to find it and remove it.

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    1. Ahh, but I bet if she deliberately tries to do that, it won’t work because Khadiroth said “by word, deed, or omission” ….

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      1. From what I can tell, it can stop her from doing things, but isn’t powerful enough to make her do things to cover for it. So all she has to do is keep attempting to tell them about it over and over and her involuntary reactions to not being able to should give them the indication that something is wrong. After that Akane should be able to easily find what’s wrong and fix it.

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    1. Currently there’s one guaranteed chapter a week, functionally two because Friday chapters have been funded well in advance by several extremely generous donors. Most weeks the one chapter is meant to go up on Monday, but recently I’ve been having Sunday issues that made me push ’em back to Wednesday.

      I would like to get back to posting three times a week, but this week my Tuesday was exhausting and I couldn’t get one done for today. So come back Friday for the bonus chapter, but for now, this is it.

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  7. I’ve been rereading the latest chapter because I love this story, and something’s come up that’s bugged me. Milanda has twice made a big deal about “being sent into a nest of dryads with no warning.” But she was there for the conversation between Sharidan and Eleanora, which mentioned dryads. She had access to exactly as much information. In fact, Milanda mostly put the responsibility on Sharidan’s shoulders to warn her as much as he could, despite the gaes, because she heard Sharidan SAY Eleanora knew almost nothing:

    12-13: ““Yes,” [Eleanora] said curtly. “And she had several other fascinating tidbits to drop. Sharidan, they are all like this. What is going on, and what in Omnu’s name do dryads have to do with it?””

    And later,

    ““And,” Milanda continued inexorably, “that leaves me to handle the Hands, geas, dryads, whatever.”

    “Out of the question!” Sharidan burst out. “You have no idea what’s down there!”

    “Then you’ll have to prepare me as best you can,” she said calmly. “Unless there is anyone else you trust more? Because it sounds to me as if trust is a greater concern than competence in fae magic, in this case. You are certainly no witch, yourself.”

    12-31– ““You mentioned Tellwyrn and dryads,” Milanda continued, still giving her that unnerving stare. “Implying that she mentioned them when she was here before.”

    The Empress frowned. “Yes?”

    “And it did not occur to you to mention the involvement of dryads to me before sending me down to where you knew they were?””

    At first I thought Milanda was just getting jumpy and suspicious because she’s on similar Hand Brand Dryad Enhancement Drugs, even if they’re not exactly the same system, and presumably free from the original fiddling. But after the second instance calling attention to it, I’m not so positive anymore,.

    12-36– “I’ve just learned that the last time this happened, it involved someone knowingly sending me into a nest of dryads without warning me.” (Milanda)

    So why on earth is she now holding Eleanora responsible? What more information could she have possibly given? Dryads were mentions as being involved “somehow” and that’s literally as much as the Empress seems to know. Milanda knows there’s a possibility they’re involved.

    The only thing I’m noting is that in both these cases, Milanda is reacting to powerful people, and maybe getting jumpy and threatened as a result.

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    1. The only thing I can think of is that she assumed the dryads were captive. Less “willing participants”, more “living fae-batteries”. Which is kinda dumb, cuz who the hell would try to capture and harness the magic of a dryad? And even if that’s the case, she should definitely be irritated with Sharidan, not Eleanora.

      It’s possible she’s being affected by the same thing as the rest of the Hands, to a lesser degree. She’s angry about not getting the full story re:dryads, but the magic prevents her from being angry at Sharidan, so she goes after the next best target, Eleanora.

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    2. Good catch. That actually wasn’t deliberate, just the author forgetting small conversations that occurred weeks ago in real time.

      I’ll fix it, when I can. Right now I’m running on about three hours of sleep, recovering from an emergency dental visit today, and not certain I’m gonna be able to finish the chapter that’s due tomorrow.

      Plus, the government just eliminated my access to health care, which is stressing me the hell out. I feel ridiculous for getting thrown off-kilter by politics, but in truth, living under a regime which regards people as either billionaires or disposable slave labor for billionaires is exhausting.

      Anyway, will fix it, focusing on trying not to be late with the next chapter right now.

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      1. Oh! Well, that makes sense as well. No worries then! And I guess I’ll have to put to rest all the wild theories I was spinning about Milanda’s new nerves and reaction to authority figures. 😀

        As for healthcare and politics today in general…I alternate between fury and the unfeeling dread of staring into the void, with no hope it will get better.

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  8. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and call it. I have to apologize, but tomorrow’s chapter is going to be a day late. Hopefully not more than a day, but I work tomorrow for a long shift and will be getting home late, which usually means being very tired.

    The two issues at hand are my completely screwed up sleep schedule, which I need to correct tonight, but at the moment I’m running on three hours. And I had an emergency dental visit today. A minor one, don’t worry! They didn’t charge me and it didn’t even hurt very much, I just had one of the new crowns come loose and had to get it re-attached. It just took time out of the middle of the day when I was trying to get a nap and fix my sleep condition, and I have a lingering soreness where the gums were pressed on.

    So really, it’s just one issue, now that I think of it, the dentist thing kept me from getting the sleep I needed to be functional. There you go.

    Anyway, I’ll be on this as soon as I can tomorrow. Chapter this weekend; stay tuned.

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    1. Dental issues suck. I had a perm. retainer that kept popping loose for two weeks. At least I had (and took) the option of them removing the damn thing so it would stop happening.

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  9. Also, does anyone else want to bring up the fact that the meiji restoration would kind of also count as a break in Japanese culture? If I’m not mistaken (probably am), it wasn’t until a little while after the restoration that Japan was like “oh hey, we shouldn’t forget our culture in all the hubbub.”

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  10. I am making very, very slow progress right now. I’d really hoped to be able to do another double-post, putting up two chapters today to make up for missing one Friday. Right now, though, it’s looking like I might be doing well to manage one.

    Just having a deep depressive episode, is all, no further material problems since the dental issue. I can’t think of anything to connect it to in terms of events, so I guess it’s just a brain chemistry thing. I’m actually not feeling bad emotionally, but I’ve been sleeping about eighteen hours a day, and been almost too sleepy to function when awake. Listless, unfocused and without energy when I managed to wake up fully. Writing is a constant fight, and it’s just not working.

    I’m gonna keep plugging at it, but I’ve reached a point where I have to acknowledge a chapter just might not come right now, which is a conclusion I’ve been fighting all weekend. I hate falling further behind… But, in the worst case scenario, this episode has been doing for days now so it should break soon. It’s rare that mine last longer than a week.

    I will keep you posted.

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    1. Hope you get better soon, don’t stretch yourself too thin – I’d prefer the chapter delayed and no exhausted author, and I think I’m not alone in that 🙂

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    2. You should definitley take some time off from writing. Possibly at the end of the Volume, mayber earlier. That does sound more like burnout than depressive episodes, the way you’re desrchribg it. And no one is being helped if you fold in and cannot continue at all, compared to a few month of recovery.

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    3. It’s alright! Much love and best wishes, we know you got this! Don’t hesitate to take a break if you need too. Maybe release some supplementary world-building material, blogposts, ect, if it helps you feel well w/o as much stress or potential burnout?

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    4. Take a few weeks off and build up a buffer. That way you can post a new chapter even if you couldn’t write one that day.
      It’ll be much better for you in the long run.

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      1. I’ll take a guess that “taking a few weeks off” would result in a few weeks without writing rather than a buffer. And I remember Webb being adamantly against taking a chunk of time off, and having good reasons for it. Of course, there are good reasons on both sides here

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      2. Buffers certainly sound like a good solution, but I think that at least for some people writing is harder to motivate when you have a buffer and they can’t maintain one without significantly impacting total productivity.

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  11. The support is hugely appreciated. I’m writing right now; there’ll be something for Friday. If it goes well, more than the usual something. Sorry for being uncommunicative. I sort of shifted straight from critical depressive funk to hard at work mode, and both involve a certain amount of tunnel vision.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. sounds like you have recovered somewhat, that is very good to hear! No worries about being quiet for a bit, that is quite alright in my opinion – I’ve found that taking a break from being present on the internet can be helpful sometimes. Looking forward to the next chapter!

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    2. I would suggest sticking with the something and banking the more. You are a brilliant writer but you demand of yourself a speed people who make tens of thousands of dollars selling books don’t demand. I’m good with a regular chapter and knowing you have a little stress about future updates in the future.

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  12. Posting time now, chapter’s not done. I’m still writing, though; don’t worry, this one won’t be abandoned. We will have a Friday chapter, just a wee bit late.

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    1. I tried to send you a storybundle package – did you get it? It would have gone to the e-mail address you use for your paypal.

      Nothing fun to read, but it did have a couple books on publishing and webpublishing you might find useful to get your stuff in e-print.

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      1. … you may have already won a bundle of e-books. You just have to send us shipping and handling, and set up a bank account for us to move them through….

        Yeah, that’s why I brought it up here.

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