Conviction 5.6

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“Scared?” Rose asked.

“Yep,” I said.  I moved the wreath, and checked it over.  I pulled some tape from my pocket to fix a spot where a branch had come loose.  Four feet across.  I wasn’t sure how to make it fit any geometric principle, so I’d simply repeated a simple pattern.  One large circle, one smaller circle, and y-shaped branches filling the space between, all taped together.

“Me too.”

Evan descended, setting down on my shoulder.

“It’s an old building,” he said.

“Yeah,” I replied, still pushing the wreath forward.

“Plants growing all over it.”

“Yeah.  Did you see anything?”

“No,” Evan said.  “I looked in windows, but you said not to get too close.”

“Don’t want anything lunging out of the window to eat you,” I said.

“There’s nothing in a lot of the windows.  No people, no things, no walls, no floors.”

“Yeah,” Rose said.  “Only emptiness.”

“A little more afraid, now,” I said.

“Good,” Rose told me.  “Fear keeps you alive.  Just don’t panic.  There are rules to follow.  It’s abstract-”

“Can’t look straight at it,” I said.

“No.  You’re going to have to put my mirrors away.”

“Yeah,” I said.  I still carried the little stand-up mirrors that had been in the roadside kit.  I began to put them away.

“We’re close,” Rose said.  “Let’s get geared up.  You know what your number one priority is.”

“Staying alive,” I said.  “You and Evan are the scouts, you’re the voice.  I’m the vulnerable lump of meat that you two are stuck with.”

I worked while I talked.  Only two hands.  Four things I really wanted to carry into the building.  Gas can, emergency kit, torch and wreath.  The torch slid into the holster I’d left for June, a plastic bag over the head, where I’d soaked a strip of bandage in gasoline.

“Evan, whatever happens, you can’t look at the monster, okay?” Rose asked.

“Okay.”

“It might try to trick you.  Just look away, and stay away, alright?  It might be best if you stay outside the building, unless you absolutely have to come in.”

“Okay.”

I put the emergency kit down on the edge of the wreath, and grabbed a few items, preparing.  More tape, right pocket.  Jumper cables, around my waist, clamps tucked into left pocket.

Box knife?  I looked at the reflective surface.

“You heard what we said in the car?  You know what tools we use here?”

“Light, fire, and growth?”

“Yes.  If you see something, let us know.”

I removed the blade, sprayed it with the spray sealant, and scratched it with the bottom of the sealant can until the blade itself was uncovered.  Blade replaced, knife in pocket.

“Can we have signals?” Evan asked.  “In case we’re far away or something happens?”

“Signals are a fantastic idea,” I said.  “Signal number one?  Screaming?  Screaming means something bad is happening.”

“Don’t be a jerk, Blake,” Rose said.

“I’m not,” I said, at the same time Evan said, “He’s not.”

“Ugh,” Rose said.

I tested the weight of the sealant in my hand.  It wasn’t any heavier than a typical spray can, but my arm strength was practically nil.  It was like the morning after my first day at work, feeling the impact of nine straight hours of physical activity.

“Can you sing?” Rose asked.

“No,” Evan said.

“Tweet?  Chirp?”

“Dunno how.  Maybe.”

“You’re a song sparrow,” I said, as I stuck the sealant can in the pocket further down my leg, “I think.  You’re not rusty enough to be a swamp sparrow, not red enough to be a fox sparrow.  Maybe a Le Conte or Savannah sparrow?”

“You know birds,” Rose commented.

“There was a point where life sucked.  Then life became okay.  Good, even.  When I think about the between times?  Two memories stick with me.  There’s the time Alexis reached out for help, and there’s the time I was in my first apartment.  No furniture, aside from a few things I’d borrowed.  Living on the street, you have to deal with boredom.  You watch people.  Deal with them all the time, but not really dealing with them.  They’re there.  No television, no computer, needed to occupy myself, stay sane and keep from backsliding and missing out on the opportunity I’d been given.”

“Bird watching?” Rose asked.

I nodded.  Talking while I prepared myself.  Emergency blanket?  Why the hell not?  It was small.  Back pocket.  Flashlight went in my other cargo pocket, further down my leg, along with two batteries.

“I try to rationalize it now, but I dunno if it makes sense.  I wanted to be away from people some.  I paid attention to the birds outside my window, even fed them until Joel got pissed off.  My landlord.”

“I know who Joel is,” Rose said.

“Evan doesn’t.  I’m explaining this to him too.  I got my tattoos because I needed to do something to make what I had permanent.  I would have done the moment Alexis helped me, but I dunno how I’d even do that.  The birds… above it all, I like the aesthetic, and I liked the idea of the detail contrasted with the vague watercolor… I’m yammering on, here.  You gotta stop me before I do that.”

There was a noticeable delay before Rose said, “No harm done.  Does it help you to feel more grounded?”

I felt like the delay said more than what had actually come out of her mouth.  “Yeah.  I guess it does.”

“How are you physically?”

“I feel like I got gently rolled over by a few cars,” I said.

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Only to me, I guess,” I said.  I checked everything was secure in my pockets.  All of the stuff would make running difficult, but I wasn’t in any shape to run.

I made my way to the fence that enclosed the area, leaving the kit behind, hand on can and wreath.  Weather-worn signs were bolted to the fence.  No trespassing.  A man in a circle with a line drawn through it.  Barbed wire ran along the top of the fence.

In a way, the ‘no man’ thing seemed ironic.  Or prophetic, depending on how I looked at it.

“Evan?” I asked.

He flew forward.  The locked gate in the fence swung open.  I kicked the door open wider and passed through.

There were tools here, abandoned so long they had gone rusty. Had a crew come here at some point to revitalize the place, only to disappear?

Shovel, not so useful.  Hedge trimmers, same.  Both were so rusty I doubted they would serve their purpose.

The building loomed.  Graffiti covered every surface that humans could reach without the use of ladders, paint peeled from red brick.  The windows were dark.

Wasn’t even good graffiti, I noted.  Big, bulging letters, scrawled letters.  People making a mark on the world, showing that they’d been here once upon a time.

That, too, was ironic in a way.

Fucking up here meant being forgotten, being erased.  There would be no legacy.  No mark left behind.

My existence, recent events excepted, had been a quiet one.  I hadn’t made a huge impact in my parent’s lives.  I hadn’t done anything so defining that removing me from the picture would make the world a noticeably different reality for anyone.  No angel would be getting his wings from showing me some Blake-less world.

Practitioner bullshit aside, I couldn’t see myself having kids.  I’d yet to see any good parenting, and it seemed better to be safe than sorry.  I had Evan now, but Evan would leave the world when I did.  I had friends that would mourn me.  I hoped they would mourn me.  Being accused of child murder might have hurt me on that front.  But mourning was temporary.  Those wounds healed.

I wanted to make a disturbance.  If the universe maintained a balance, then I wanted to leave something of an imbalance in the grand scheme of things, to be big enough that the world would hurt a bit for my passing.

I clenched the handle of the gas can and the larger branch of the wreath.

Evan’s parents had cared.  That much had been obvious.

“You think mom and dad will miss you, Rose?”

“…The fake mom and dad from fake memories?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, of course.  Why?”

“Nothing,” I said.

My number one rule here was that I wasn’t allowed to die.  The others relied on me to be some kind of pillar that fixed them in the world.  Refining that rule… I wasn’t going to go quiet or gentle.  Most certainly not into oblivion, as this demon would have me do.

The thought gave me the extra strength and grit I needed to scrape up a bit more energy from the bottom of the barrel, to move forward and ascend the metal stairs to the front door.

Someone had blocked the graffiti-painted door with a two-by-four to keep it from fully closing.  Snow had blown against the front of the door and made it into the factory through the gap.

I moved the door and stepped within, my feet touching down on a cloud of powdery snow.

Darkness.  Oppressive.  I quickly tossed the wreath down onto the ground and limped into the center of it.

I reached for the flashlight and clicked it on, eyes on the ground.

The inside was very much the same as the outside, though the graffiti was more pronounced here, where the urban explorers had been able to take their time.  I’d always been under the impression that graffiti artists had a code, and wouldn’t paint over each other’s work, but this stuff overlapped.

With my eyes fixed on the ground, picking up details from peripheral vision and stolen glances, the vague, nebulous shapes and colors that the graffiti left on the walls all seemed like they could be the demon, lying in wait.  They were grimy, painted with the illusion of three dimensions, sometimes given three dimensions where leaves or architecture allowed.

The light the flashlight provided was seductive.  I could feel the demon’s presence here.  No connection I could make out, nothing obvious or apparent enough for me to put my finger on it.  When the light was cast on more distant objects, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the demon was just behind me, or to the side of me.  So close it could caress my cheek.  When the light was closer, it was out there.  Watching.

My eye wanted to follow the light.  Human nature, common sense, a desire for security.  Knowing had a way of making things better.

Distant or close, there was no sign of my demon quarry.  I kept scanning my surroundings.

The plants had grown into the structure in patches, in much the same way weeds grew up from cracks or slats the sidewalk, but they were stunted, meager, and blighted.  Places where the elements had been able to enter the building were littered with debris, the other places so clean and clear that the factory might have been open days ago.  The room just inside the entrance was broad and empty of any fixtures.  Stairs on the far side led to a catwalk that overlooked the bigger room beyond.

The ceiling had collapsed at one corner.  More debris, more snow, and a fairly large barrier to progress.

Something moved at the edge of my field of vision.  Not the demon.  Evan, flying by and looking in.

Here and there, there were holes on the floor.  Cracks, deep enough for me to lose a foot in them.

I knelt on the cold floor, and put the can of gasoline down.  I drew the torch out, and removed the plastic bag that kept the gasoline within from soaking into my clothes.

I painted a circle on the floor with the torch, soaked it again, and continued painting.  A more complex diagram, very similar to the one I’d seen used against Barbatorem in the house’s attic,  but with a wide enough space to spare the wreath within.

I wasn’t even done when the light subtly changed.  Rose doing her thing at the window at the far end.  Covering things up on her side of the window, leaving space uncovered to let faint light through.  It was… it was feeble and weak, I had to admit.  It had seemed clearer in my head.  But I had a dim oval of moonlight surrounding me.

Something moved in my peripheral vision.  Not Evan.  Not Rose.  A stirring.

“Hurry,” Rose said.  Faint and far away.

There was nothing to do but press on.

It took only a second to get the diagram burning.  All of my surroundings were dimly illuminated, now, cast in faint yellow and orange.  The shapes on the walls seemed to move back and forth as the flame did.

I saw it to my left.  It was barely visible in the shadow before it retreated to further darkness, vague and nebulous when I looked at it without really looking.  It moved like a hand without an accompanying body, of its own volition, using fingers to drag itself along the floor, perhaps.  A bulky, multi-limbed, asymmetrical body, with limbs that moved so quickly they might have been flickering.  Matte black.  It might have been a spider gone wrong ten times over with some full-body cancer, or a giant hunchbacked man with a dozen arms that were stretched long enough to reach over and under one another.  But it wasn’t.  It was a demon of the choir of darkness.  Something that had been given life in counterpoint to creation.  It was aged limbs, withered ones, from every species and no species in particular.

It was nearly silent.  There was only a shuffling, the faintest scrape of body against floor.

The front of the body disappeared, and some form of lower body or tail dragged behind it, like entrails trailing behind a man that had been bisected, a spine without the accompanying stomach, or a naked tail.  The trailing flesh was bent in places, as if it had been broken badly and bones had reset improperly.  A kind of detail that teased, invited me to look, as if it were a clue I could use.  But looking was a trap.

The thing didn’t stop moving.  I could make out the larger body shuffling forward to my right, and the ‘tail’ was still being dragged along the floor to my left.

Staring into the fire made my view of the darkness less clear when I moved my eyes to stare at a different section of floor.  Afterimages danced in their wake, spots in my vision, and imagination filled in the gaps to tell me that I was looking at was a part of the demon.

There was no end to it.  It thinned out, leading me to think its tail would pass me by, but then the tail turned out to be dragging something like a fleshy version of an ant’s abdomen, teardrop shaped, moist enough to leave a wet, slick on the ground.  It smelled like bile tasted.  More tissues dragged behind it.

There were now three places around me where the tissue was dragging along in a continuous, snake-like mass.  There were features on parts to my right that didn’t match what I’d seen on my left earlier.

The shuffling could be heard from every direction.  Something was knocked over and the collapse prompted more collapses.

“Demon,” Rose’s voice echoed throughout the space.  “I am Rose Thorburn of the Thorburn line.  All of the choirs know who we are.  We are not to be trifled with.”

I heard spattering behind me.

I couldn’t see without taking my eyes off the ground within my circles, but I could infer from the black spatter that was falling down onto the floor.

Some landed just beside my flaming circle, spatter sizzling in the flame itself.  The flame’s intensity dropped.

If he was close enough to do that, the circle of moonlight wasn’t doing enough.  Couldn’t say whether that was because moonlight didn’t work or it wasn’t clear enough as diagrams went.

“Demon, I compel you to tell me your name!  Tell me, or I will claim the right to name you!  I will repeat myself thrice times thrice.  Prove your weakness by refusing to provide an answer, and I will prove my strength by giving it!”

She hadn’t gone into any detail on this trick.

The demon stopped.  All of the coils and cordons, the segments and limbs, they froze.

The only movement was the distortion in my field of vision, where my eyes had gotten used to movement.  The darkness kept moving, even as the demon remained still.

There was silence, still enough that I could hear my own heartbeat, the creak of the open front door being moved by wind, and the periodic drip of fluids falling from the demon’s body overhead.

It moved.  Faster than before, from zero to fifty in a heartbeat.  It took me a half second to realize why.  Even if I had realized, even if I had been in perfect shape, I might not have been able to move fast enough to dodge.

It lunged.

Maybe it was a small grace that I couldn’t.  I remained where I was, within the circle, not falling into fire or passing beyond any little protection it afforded, and I froze in stark terror rather than look at the massive shape that was now airborne, leaping my way.

It had doubled back, perching above the front door.  It landed a matter of feet from me.  Inches from the circle.  The impact of the landing dashed pitch fluids from its body, a lopsided mouth yawned open, then snapped shut.  The blade of a guillotine.

Blood poured forth, and the demon shook its head like a dog might with caught prey, the movement distorting its features further.

The gore that flowed forth dashed out the flames of half of my circle, giving me only a fleeting glimpse before the darkness made it impossible to see, and the demon’s clutching limbs snatched at morsels.  Where the light touched it, flesh sloughed away, showing muscle and bone, ill-fit together.

It reared back, to draw much of the main body away from the remaining flame, but the periodic spatter was now a downpour.  Flesh falling away in pounds and gallonsWet and smelling so violent that I doubted I’d be able to breathe, if I hadn’t already been holding my breath.

I was intact.  Time seemed to go still.  With the flames flaring and dying, the creature closer to the light than it had been, I could make out the fine detail, even with peripheral vision.  I could tell that it had eyes that were less eyes and more slits in the darkness.  Bright without being light.

I was already turning to run, feeling how uncooperative my body was.  How slow.

Limbs caught me.  Fat, brutish ones, like fingers that could bend in any combination of directions, and being so disproportionately long didn’t make them any less fat or brutish.  They hooked between my legs and into the flesh of my belly, trapping one arm against my side.  Clutching my body.  My feet were lifted clear of the ground.

A flutter of wings.  Evan flew right between the demon and me.  As he’d cast the snow aside at the morgue window, the movement had an uncharacteristic force to it.  Enough to dislodge the fingers, to lift me momentarily free.

I fought, and there was too much to fight off to allow me anything but flailing, weak flailing with my current state.  I managed to get loose enough to slip my head free, and I toppled and dropped to the floor, my face mere inches from the ignited gasoline.

I flipped over, grabbing at the gasoline can.  I didn’t bother with the wreath.  The creature’s limbs and bulk were crushing it.  Decimating it.  A waste of time, putting that together.

It was clutching, limbs grasping one after another in Evan’s wake, reaching in awkward ways to stay out of the light and away from the flame, zig-zagging around the barrier with bends in places that shouldn’t have bent, as if it was breaking arms so those arms could work their way past the barrier.

I averted my eyes.  I was coming dangerously close to looking, and it was all too easy for this demon to sinuously slide into my field of view.

When Evan was clearly out of the reach of the hands, coils fell away from the walls where the demon had suspended and hung them.  A falling curtain, the closing portcullis.

Evan found his way through the gaps between the coils, segments and half-formed limbs, momentarily ceasing all flapping and continuing forward with momentum alone, so he could make himself small enough.

I was already moving.  Sluggish compared to Evan and the demon both.  I hopped over the flame, meager as it was, stumbled and crashed to the floor.

It loomed to the side, and I twisted my head away before I could look, twisting my arms around as well, can in hand.  The contents sloshed out, touching the short patch of dying flame that still remained.  It exploded to life with light and violence.

The demon was burned as if the flames themselves had touched it.

It recoiled, more like a snake than anything.  The silhouette wasn’t so different from a cobra, top heavy, supported on too small a lower body.

The darkness consumed it.

I wasted no time in working on my new circle.  Another splash-

It reacted.  On the ceiling, trying to slip by, it recoiled once more, rearing back like a horse might, limbs flailing.

My gaze fixed on the ground, I wasn’t ready or aware enough to see what it was doing.  It lunged again.

This time, it simply crashed into the wall of flame.  The fire did far more damage than it should have.  Incinerating mountains of flesh, torching bent limbs and digits.

In its death throes, it clutched.  One claw blindly reached a foot over my head, me, only to disintegrate as it passed further into the space.  A ‘hand’ reached out to the side, then jammed itself into the thing’s yawning mouth.

Guillotine teeth severed the hand.  Blood flowed forth.  Not the demon’s.

This time I was ready, repairing the barrier with splashes of gasoline.

A naked, jawbone lined with yellowed, uneven fangs clattered to the ground, gums included.

I couldn’t wrap my head around any of it, and that wasn’t helping my mental state.  My hand shook so violently from fatigue and fear both that I dropped the gasoline.  Depositing a pool right in front of me.  Dangerous and wasteful.

It was destroying itself, feeding more and more of itself into the fire.

If there were hints or clues as to why in the creature’s behavior or body language, I couldn’t see it.

I grabbed the gasoline and righted it, then mopped up what I could with the torch’s head, drawing out more of a line.  Two splashes of gasoline closed the circuit, setting the flame alight.

This wouldn’t burn forever.

My eyes fell on the ruins of the roof, on lengths of what had to be too-damp wood.

But still wood.

Outside of the circle.  Beneath reams of the demon’s flesh that had yet to be fed into the fires.

“Blake!”  Rose screamed.

I turned, but all I experienced was disorientation.  I couldn’t search for Rose, because the demon was leveraging its sheer mass to make it impossible to look anywhere without risking looking at it.

“Rose!”

My careful and furtive glances around me showed that the demon had cut itself off.  This part of itself that it was feeding into the fire was dead.  Like a worm cut in two, it had grown another head.

That head had thrust its way into one window, high above.  Nothing in the neighboring windows suggested that it had left that same windowframe.  It had gone in, it hadn’t gone out.

It was in Rose’s domain.

Rather than risk moving my eyes across the intervening space, I closed my eyes until I was looking straight down.

“Blake!  Please!”

I struggled to find my feet, swayed, and nearly collapsed into the fire.  Or, worse, over the other side of the circle.

Was it a trick?  I couldn’t imagine it was.

I dropped the gas can and torch, reached into my pocket and withdrew the small mirror.  I held it straight overhead, covering it with my other hand, and faced it straight down.

“Here!”  I shouted.

I moved my eyes along my body, a safe territory, up my arm, and to the mirror.

Reflected in the mirror, safe within the circle, was Rose, curled up on the ground, so she could remain small enough to be entirely within the reflection.

The demon’s strategy and form had both changed, though it remained a sinuous thing, a centipede of spidery, grasping limbs at the top end and an endless snake body fashioned of oversized intestine, spine and segmented insect parts at the bottom.  A bulbous, tumorous mass three times as wide as a window hit the wall, squeezing through with enough force that fluids leaked forth, streaking the wall beneath.  The fluids encroached on my circle of flame, but stopped short of interfering with it.

The demon’s reflection was it, as much as any part of it.  It passed in and out of windows and unrusted patches of metal without traveling the intervening space.  It kept extending, spreading, claiming all of the darkness.  Becoming the darkness.

It chose only the windows shrouded in enough shadow that I couldn’t see if there was glass or not, metal in the gloom.  At times it bubbled before it erupted forth, seeping in.  Other times, it simply lunged out.  When the clouds shifted and a window saw more light, the demon simply abandoned that section of itself, letting it blister, boil, and die.

I could only hope there was no angle or means by which it could enter the mirror I held.

I heard a scream, and my thoughts turned to Evan.

No.  Trickery?

Not trickery either.  Blood spattered windows, and the creature used the resulting gloom to occupy more territory.  The light that filtered through the stained glass was red.

There was the light of the circle, faint moonlight that came in through some windows and around the collapsed section of roof, and darkness.

This time, when I saw spots and blotches in the darkness, phantom movement in my peripheral vision, it was real.

I could not look directly at the dark here without looking at the demon.  At cords and sinews rubbing against one another, columns of flesh grinding against limbs.

It finished eating whatever it had caught and murdered in order to stain the windows crimson.

“It dawns on me,” I whispered, feeling somewhat numb, “That we really should have hunted this demon in daylight.”

“We’re in over our heads,” Rose said.

The demon’s movements continued.  I was put in mind of a boa constrictor drawing tighter.  Parts rubbing against one another, locking in.  Crushing our little patch of fire-circle light tighter.

I looked to the window, and what had been a gap between the windows uncoiled.  My eye moved a fraction, and I was looking at the demon.

I looked away, and I saw that ‘s’ of bent, broken tail, or arm, staying in my field of vision. creeping out.

I fumbled for and grabbed the flashlight, raising it to my eye.  I held it there, half-blinding myself.

It helped, but not enough.  I couldn’t light the torch without dropping Rose-

I dropped the flashlight, reaching to my back pocket.  The blanket…

I opened the zip bag, clawing it with my fingers more than anything else.

I was going blind in one eye.

I unfurled the blanket, swept it across the patch of unlit gasoline, then into the flames.  I reached up, grabbing too close to the flame, and thrust it at my face.

Not into my face, but enough to fill that one eye’s field of vision with fire and light.

The fire extended to cover the rest of the blanket, and I was forced to keep shifting my grip.  My arm jumped as flames licked it, and I moved the blanket, only to give the remaining tendril ground at one side of my field of vision.

I reasserted my grip, moved the flaming corner of blanket, and burned the rest of the tendril away.  I tossed the blanket into the sea of darkness, where it continued to burn.

Was this measure enough?  It had only been a slim fraction of the demon.  Maybe a bit of the demon’s power rather than the demon itself.  Unintelligent…

No.  There was nothing I could say to convince myself fully.  I could have an expert look me over, and I wouldn’t be convinced.

But this thing didn’t seem to be that intelligent, to be that cunning.  It would take over if it could, and it had tried.  Now it had stopped.  That had to be good enough.

Had it been both eyes, I might not have been able to do what I’d done here.  I laughed a little, heady with relief and nervousness.  I was all too aware of what else was in this space with us.

“You okay?” Rose asked.

“No,” I said.  But the upside is this thing is apparently minor.  Or was it moderate?”

“Being a smartass doesn’t help, Blake.”

More serious, I said, “You’re right.  Um.  I think three of our allies just died.”

“What?”

“Three others.  Maybe more, but I only saw three.  At least one was a goblin.”

“We didn’t bring help.”

“We don’t remember bringing help,” I said.  “If we don’t remember bringing any help, there’s none left, so I have to question how much it matters.  It’s a moot point.”

“Moot point doesn’t mean it’s not a point.”

“It means it’s up for heated debate.  And this is,” I said.  “Just so you know, my arm is getting tired.  I don’t have any stamina, Rose.  I can’t hold this mirror overhead forever.”

“If I don’t have room in this circle, I’ll get shoved out there.”

“I know,” I said.  “Can you jump to grandmother’s house?”

“I don’t think I can without crossing the space in between.  She’s in the space in between.”

“Is it a she?  I thought of it as more of a he.  Or an it.”

“I don’t know, Blake,” Rose said.  She sounded tired.

“Might as well try that binding again,” I said.

“Yeah,” Rose said.

A moment passed.  She apparently needed to compose herself.

My hand was shaking so badly I thought I might drop the mirror.  I felt more hollow than scared, but my body acted scared all the same.

“Demon!  For the second time, I compel you to tell me your name!  Tell me, or I’ll claim the power to name you!  I will repeat myself thrice times thrice, all in all.  Will you give your name, or will you let it lie fallow, all the weaker for being unused?”

“Sounds awfully good,” I said.  “Will it work?”

“Supposed to,” Rose murmured.  “But she can best me in a contest of her choosing, to claim the right to keep the name a secret.  This is kind of a last ditch thing.”

“What if she can’t talk?”

“I don’t think she can’t not.

“Why not repeat it seven more times, all at once?”

“Theatrics.  It becomes a gimmick instead of a power play.  Have to show confidence.”

“We’re not confident,” I murmured.

“Still have to show it,” she said.  “Demon!  You have not answered my last two entreaties!”

Good word, entreaties.  If I were a demon, I’d give more weight to words like that.

I reached up and very carefully shifted the mirror to my other hand, to give my right hand a chance to relax.

“Name thyself, or forfeit that right!  Nine times, I’ll say this, and I’m saying it for the third time now!  I call you coward, for refusing me this nicety!”

Our entire world had been reduced to a space no more than five feet across.  For all intents and purposes, the only thing beyond that circle was the demon, unfurling and unfolding, slithering against and through itself, the occasional mess of grasping, scrabbling, flailing limbs appearing in the molasses sea.

The fires were steadily dying.  Gasoline could only burn for so long, and fluids were encroaching on our space.

I splashed out more gasoline to replace what was missing.

“Four times, I ask you, demon!  Four times you decline to answer!”  Rose’s voice was loud in the relative quiet.  “Are you a mere beast?  No better than a dumb spirit!?”

The coils constricted further.  Our available space shrunk.

A shadow passed over one window.  More of the demon’s mass occupied the area in between.

If I squinted and unfocused my eyes, the factory was only what it was.  A dark factory.  When I didn’t, when I looked clearly, the demon filled the space. Slithering, endless.  Infinite.

“You have the torch,” Rose murmured.

“I do,” I replied.

“And how much gasoline left?”

I swished the can.  “Not enough.”

“Light the torch?”

“I was waiting until we had a game plan.  There’s a chance we can forge a path, use the torch to stay mobile-”

“Splash gasoline in our way?”

“Fire burns me too, Rose.  That’s… I’d rather burn myself than let that thing get me, but I don’t think I can walk on fire long enough or fast enough to make the gamble.  I’d fall and it would be over.”

“Okay,” she said.

I switched the mirror back to my right hand.  It wasn’t only my hands that were failing.  My legs didn’t feel strong.  I swayed.  The morass of demon in the space around us was making me feel seasick.  Another ploy on its part?

“What game plan were you thinking of?” Rose asked.

“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours,” I said.

“What makes you think I have a plan?”

“I don’t think.  I hope.  Because my plan sucks moose balls.”

“What we saw, before she took over the factory… she didn’t touch the plants.  She stays to the shadows, as a rule.  Plants in places where the sunlight usually reaches were mostly okay.  Patchy in other places.  She’s staying in this building, when she could roam.  She needs a den,” Rose said.

“A den.”

“A hiding spot.  Probably the darkest place in the factory.  If we can find and penetrate that place, maybe we could find the demon itself.  Its heart, its head, its source.  I dunno.  It’s a gut feeling, I guess?”

“It’s a good plan,” I said.  “Better than mine.”

“What’s your plan?”

“Get over there, to where the roof fell in, and get to the wood.  Use it for a longer-burning fire, if we make it.”

“And then?”

“I didn’t get that far.  But maybe you could ask for a name a couple more times?  Speaking of?”

“Yeah,” Rose said.  “Demon!  This will be the fifth time now I’ve asked for a name.  Five times, you’ve proven the coward.  Name yourself, or-”

The demon rumbled.  A groaning sound, as if the entire building were straining with the demon’s mass.

“Urrrrrr-” it whispered, a sound from very far away, off to one side.

I wasn’t sure, but I suspected maybe the ‘head’ was there.  Be it the many-limbed head I’d seen earlier, or the actual source of the thing.

The guillotine teeth slammed shut, cutting off the prolonged syllable.

“Name thyself!” Rose called out.

“Urrrr-”

Again, the guillotine teeth.

“It’s name is Ur?” I asked.

“Too short,” Rose said.

The teeth, slamming together…

I shifted the mirror to my other hand.  I almost, trusting my body’s demands, sat down.  I remembered I couldn’t, and shifted my weight instead.

“He’s eating it,” I said.

“Eating what?”

“He’s giving the name, and he’s eating most of it before it can reach us,” I said.  “He’s technically obeying.  It’s not going to work.”

“I guess that decides what our plan is going to be,” Rose said.  “Your plan, it would only buy time.  My plan, it’s a possible win.”

“Getting to the heart of the demon,” I said.  “Probably that way, if it isn’t tricking us.”

“There’s a door and a stairwell leading down.  Maybe a boiler room or something?”

I nodded.

“I don’t think you can keep that mirror clear of the demon when you leave this circle,” Rose said.  “If you get me to the window, though, I can slip outside.  Two paces out of your way, but it’s safer for all of us.”

“Sounds like a plan,” I said.  The window wasn’t far.

Looking at the window, my eyes fell on Evan.  He was there, perched on the far side, his wings spread.

A shadow had fallen over the window earlier.  It had been my familiar.

“It sounds like a plan… but I think Evan has the better plan.”

“What’s that?”

“Forfeit.  Like you said, we’re in over our heads.  We run.”

“Run?”

“It’s… we can’t beat this.  Not here, not on its turf, not in its medium.  In the dark.”

“We burn the place down,” she said.

“Concrete and brick?” I asked.  “I dunno.  Maybe it could slip away in the darkness of the smoke.  It’s not going to work.”

“Guess not,” Rose said.

I searched my pockets for matches, for a lighter…

A kind of horror hit me.

“I forgot to bring something to light the torch with,” I said.

“No,” Rose said.  “That doesn’t make sense.”

“I don’t have anything.”

“You lit the circle.”

“I-”  I stopped.

“She ate it,” Rose said.

I sighed.

The thirty or forty feet to the door seemed far too far away.

“I can’t run,” I said.

“I know.”

“That’s… that looks like the longest walk I’ve ever had to make.”

“I know,” Rose said.

I closed my eyes, and turned to look to the window.  I saluted Evan, who still remained there, perched on the snow that had accumulated on the window ledge, his small wings outstretched high and wide.  The moon was above and behind him.  He wasn’t so big that it mattered that much, but I respected the idea and the effort.

I bent down and ignited the torch by touching it to the flames below me.

I strode away from the door.

“Blake!  Don’t be dumb!”

Torch slashing low, close to the ground.

Claws grasped at me, only to let go as the torch got closer to them.

Hands gripped at my ankles.  I used gasoline to splash at the circle, eliciting flares of light and fire, and they let go.

Most did.

Only a short distance to the nearest window.

“They’re in here!”  Rose screamed.  Then, “In the Thorburn name, I compel you to leave!”

I had no idea if it worked.

The main body of the demon was drawing closer, if my peripheral vision wasn’t lying to me.  Flanking me.  The head, complete with a mess of grasping limbs around it.

I grabbed the can of sealant and heaved it through the window.  I was weak enough I thought it might bounce off.  I had bad luck with breaking glass.

Glass shattered all the same, and without the grime obscuring it, it made the interior brighter.

I threw Rose’s mirror through the gap.

Hopefully she had a safe escape to Grandmother’s house, from the factory outskirts on.  Nothing barring her path.

The demon’s proper body lunged, and its body constricted around me.  I held up the torch and it fell back a fraction.

I nearly threw myself through the window, but I remembered the tendril that had hidden themselves in the space between windows, only to jump into my field of vision.  If the panes of glass there were two feet by two feet across, was there something lurking in the meager space between?

I waved the shoddily-made torch around, coals falling off, and the constricting body fell back.  I turned around.  I now had a fifty foot trudge to the front door.

I started, pulling against claws and other limbs that scratched at my feet.  Some weren’t shying away from the torch.  I didn’t want to chance a look, out of fear that I’d blind myself permanently this time.

Evan used his trick, closing his wings, moving.  The meager amount of moonlight that he’d been blocking flooded into the factory, and limbs and body all pulled away, overreacting.

The demon got its bearings.  It closed the distance, moving faster than I could move my arm and the torch.

Evan came through the hole in the window, and tendrils and cords snapped shut just behind him, as though the window had hidden a net.  He darted close to the demon, and the demon grasped for him.  Dumbly pursuing the closest available target.

It bought me time.  As the demon moved in pursuit of my familiar, the coils and limbs that moved and constricted around me weren’t moving with me as the target.  They got in my way, but I could stagger over them, stumble through, and use the torch to scare away the worst of them.

I used the last of the gasoline, drawing a line from the the dwindling circle to my left.  More tendrils moving and lurching, this time at Evan’s benefit.  I let go of the empty can, letting it fall somewhere near the thin trail of fire and burning demon.

Fifteen feet.  I staggered forward, nearly losing my balance.  I could barely make out the door, had to shut my eyes for terrifying moments when the light began to fade, a cloud passing over the moon, because I couldn’t let the demon in.

Something barred my way.  Like an arm in my path, pressing against my chest.

Evan flew close, and jarred it enough for me to slip past.

The head of the demon was drawing closer, shuffling, near-silent, and I heard teeth slam shut.

Evan turned, clearly intent on distracting it.

I caught Evan out of the air.  “No.”

Let go.  He took another path.

Something told me Evan wouldn’t escape a third time.

I ducked  under the next limb to bar my way.  Between fatigue and the activity of the demon, the increased shadow closer to the far wall, I felt like it was getting twice as hard with every handful of steps.  As I bent low, the stretches of demon nearest to the floor shrunk away at the sudden approach of the light.

I saw one of the demon’s arms that didn’t shrink away.

Dead, severed.  It had cut the arm off when it had been snatching up a goblin.

I grabbed it.

As I staggered to an upright position, though, my idiocy became apparent.

My torch hadn’t been made that well.

The wood branch that held the burning coil of gasoline-soaked bandage burned before the bandage did, and the head fell to the ground.

Ten feet to the door.

I kicked the torch’s head.  Limbs and body shrunk away, and I broke into a shambling run, off-balance, so slow a person that was walking fast might have outrun me.  The torch head bounced off the door, leaving a small, lingering flame.

Evan soared forth, through the gap of the partially open door.

I reached the door and Evan came back inside, forcefully enough to blow it open a fraction.  I saw the approaching connection, moved  my hand-

Dropped the useless torch-branch and caught him, instead of letting him continue forward, back inside.

We stepped out of the factory.  The door banged against the two-by-four that still held it partially open.

I collapsed on the snow.  I saw the limb shriveling in the light, and shoved it into the cold snow where the light wouldn’t find it.

Evan settled onto my stomach.

We’d failed.

Only a detached limb to show for it.  Three allies gone.

How were we supposed to face down Conquest like this?

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593 thoughts on “Conviction 5.6

  1. Not going to be able to do many typo fixes tonight. Have to be up in 4 hours and 55 minutes for an appointment. Thanks for reading. I’ll see your responses tomorrow morning.

    1. I’ve got to ask. What happened to Blake’s broken fingers that resulted from grappling with the faerie when hunting for the wolf? The entire end of that chapter Blake kept stubbing and hurting his broken fingers, but there hasn’t been one mention of them since then.

      1. As I understood it, they weren’t really broken so much as afflicted by a glamour that made them “broken.” As soon as Blake had the time, he could have removed the glamour and presto, his fingers were fine. That was my thought, anyway.

        1. That is how I understood it as well, but this solution was neither foreshadowed by Blake’s thoughts in this direction, nor explained after the fact. An injury as serious as that one (at least it was made a big deal by its treatment in the wolf-hunt chapter) deserves at least some resolution.
          Finally if solving it was indeed as simple as wiping away glamour (which it could be), then Blake may have accomplished it even as he was hunting the wolf. Certainly the injury caused him enough pain and loss of concentration that if he spent a few seconds fixing the fingers it would likely have been time well spent.

            1. That’s certainly possible, and I admit that it is strange that it was never mentioned–I think I had some vague thoughts about how it would take too much focus from him while he was on the run/hunt.

              Man, I really hope that this gets cleared up at some point.

  2. Did they have allies to begin with? They didn’t have June with them, Leonard hasn’t left his bottle, Rose is still in the mirror, Evan’s fine, he returned the “Pokeballs” to Maggie.

    Am I missing anything?

    1. They always had several allies, possible prepared before they even went after Pauz. But when they got here the allies were all erased. We never read about them because they never existed.

        1. It makes me wonder. Bear with me, this is rather stream-of-consciousness…
          UrSula, demon of Darkness, got into Rose’s mirror-verse.
          Rose says that all that exists on her side is darkness, except the circles of light in the reflections around Blake.
          She’s called a vestige. “Vestige” is literally defined as a trace of something that no longer exists.
          Maybe her mirror-verse got eaten. She remembers her life in the same way the Knights remember having more friends, or that Blake now remembers having three allies. Or maybe Rose Sr.’s spellwork kept her memories mostly intact, as she says “I remember everything about my life, but I don’t feel like I experienced any of it.”
          It’s ironic (and sodding BRILLIANT) that we, like Blake, can only assume the identities of his allies by looking for the gaps in the narrative.
          Like, during his introduction to Conquest, there were empty seats. Maybe only some of them belonged to the missing groups Conquest named.

          1. Ooh, maybe her mirror-verse “real” self got eaten and all that’s left is the Rose that we’ve seen since the beginning of the story.

            1. That’s certainly worth thinking about 🙂
              Her original body or maybe just her connection to the mirror-verse got eaten, so the only thing keeping her tied to existence is her connection to Blake, which was protected within the circle. That might help explain why she still has her original memories… the mirror-verse still exists, but her ties and ability to travel back have been “ret-gonned”.

              I’m also thinking that some or all of the three missing amigos were people (or Others) recruited just this night. I may be missing something, but there seems to be some lost time between getting out of the police station and the trip to the factory. One says four hours left, the other gives only a half-hour. I also tend to think they were Others, as Blake’s wreath is way too small to fit another person, especially with Blake’s “personal space” issues.

          2. That’s an interesting idea about Rose, but I don’t think that history goes back and rewrites itself with the information missing. That is, I think that Rose would have then said “I remember everything about my life, but I don’t feel like I experienced any of it,” before the demon ate anything. I think it’d be more like a gap missing for any dialogue that should’ve been related to missing characters.

            1. “That is, I think that Rose would have then said “I remember everything about my life, but I don’t feel like I experienced any of it,” before the demon ate anything.”
              Didn’t she basically say just that when she and Blake were first comparing notes about their lives and what they remembered and what was real, etc.?

            2. What I mean is that there’d be no reason for her to say “I remember everything about my life, but I don’t feel like I experienced it,” if she “didn’t experience it” because of ErasUrr. ErasUrr doesn’t retroactively change what people say, ergo she felt that way before ErasUrr did anything.

        2. From CONVICTION 5.5 …“Can we count fire as one idea?” I asked. I held up a pack of matches.

          With regards to the “Retgon” powers. We’ve been assuming that it was a lighter that was used and then erased from the story. While the actual lighting process in this chapter does not specify what Blake is using, it’s probably a safe bet to assume that it was matches. If She did eat his matches, and Blake held them up last chapter, then this would mean that the Retcon does not extend back multiple chapters. This means that overall, Blake has indeed been a reliable narrator and Wildbow has decided to let us assume in these comments that he hasn’t been. Clever.

          1. Or he held up the matches to emphasize the point, but ended up only bringing in the more convenient lighter, which was consumed and thus never mentioned. Lighter fuel was, yes, but a lighter itself wasn’t.

            1. Or the matches that he used prior to the rest of them being eaten didn’t disappear . . . not sure if that makes sense or not.

            2. It isn’t past or future tense, it is called omniscient point of view (or narrative mode) versus first person point of view.

              We always see Pact from Blake’s point of view. He doesn’t remember the allies, so he can’t tell you anything about them other than what he observes.

              You can search on the terms above for more explanation.

          2. I’d like to combat the idea that Blake should be assumed an unreliable narrator as a result of reality being changed from what it once was. It’s not simply his perception of the situation being limited or distorted, it’s literally reality becoming different. In some sense, this is all there ever was, and just because we don’t know what was erased doesn’t make him less reliable as a narrator than anyone else.

            1. Except reality isn’t actually changed in an exhaustive way. The powers of that… thing seem to affect connections, which in Pactverse basically mean people’s memory and stuff they affected in a superficial way. It’s superficial, and doesn’t have the impact a cosmic retcon would have.

              For example, Blake doesn’t remember bringing anything to light up a fire, even though he obviously managed to do it. So, if we assume he basically brought a lighter or matches that were eaten by the entity. If the entity had modified space-time to “create” a reality where the lighter had never existed in the first place, there would be no reason for the fire to be lit at all, and it would extinguish retroactively, or the universe would invent some reason for Blake not to have a lighter but remember lighting fire (like, he lost it, or he use convenient super-powers, or he found something burning close to the building).

              Instead, Blake realize he has no lighter AFTER it’s eaten, which means the reality is still the same, but his memory has been tempered with. Thus, unreliable narrator.

            2. Yes, but what I’m suggesting is that there isn’t a more reliable narrator, because everyone’s perspective is changed, because reality is either changed or effectively changed. The point of “unreliable narrator” is that we expect another narrator (a “reliable” one) to present a better picture of what’s happening.

            3. You’re assuming that because everyone thinks and remembers something different, it changes the way the reality is. It goes the other way : the reality shapes our vision of it, our vision of reality has no impact on it (except for, you know, what we do depending on our opinions and so on). I think I read something like that on LessWrong about maps and territories, but then again, this isn’t a rationalist setting and things tend to go the other way, so my point may be moot.

              Still, there still is a point to call Blake “unreliable” as a narrator. For example, Blake looked like he was stupid because he was attacking a powerful monster while weak even though he didn’t have to. But if he actually had allies who attacked with him, it mean he possibly had good reasons to attack at that one point, meaning he may not be a complete moron.

              The point is, I call Blake unreliable because he narrates something that make us draw a conclusion “He’s stupid, he attacked at the wrong time” that is possibly untrue (assuming the entity just modified his memory and didn’t make him retroactively stupid).

            4. If you want to talk about the map vs. the territory, then what I said is that either the territory has changed or there is now a quirk of the territory causing everyone’s map relating to that portion of the territory to be wrong.

              But that’s not the point. I really don’t see how a character having incomplete information or acting stupid makes them an unreliable narrator. As I understand it, an “unreliable narrator” has to do with reliability: if the narrator tells a story with inconsistencies or in general one that is markedly different than what we would have experienced in their shoes, they are “unreliable”. Thus, the insane, immature, mentally handicapped, liars, and exaggerators are “unreliable”, because they present a story that is not similar to what we would have experienced in their shoes.

              If “unreliable” simply meant “inaccurate”, many first-person narrators would be “unreliable”, because there’s almost always some element of confusion or deception for main characters in stories.

            5. He’s unreliable because what he’s telling us is not what actually happened. That’s all it takes to be unreliable.

              If you really need someone who would be a more reliable narrator, then I guess you can pick the ErasUrr, though I really don’t think it’s needed.

            6. Unreliable narrators are usually identified by some combination of:
              lack of understanding (child)
              incorrect perception (madman)
              lying (liar)
              But these are evaluated against a standard. For example, with lack of understanding, we don’t call a narrator unreliable if they simply aren’t smart enough to realize the trap that has been set for them. For incorrect perception, we don’t call it unreliable if the person is tricked by an optical illusion that anyone could have seen. For lying, we usually don’t call it unreliable if the person has no intent to lie. The way I see it, we call a narrator “unreliable” when we could reasonably expect we would have been able to understand the situation much better if we’d been there ourselves. Lacking a complete and accurate perception of their circumstances does not make a narrator unreliable, or else every first-person narrator that has ever been wrong is unreliable.

              We are receiving a narration that for all intents and purposes faithfully represents reality as it now is. He was not high on drugs, affected by a mental disorder, or affected by anything that targets him specifically. Just because reality changed during the story doesn’t make him unreliable. If anything, it makes reality the unreliable one. His narration doesn’t relate information that an omniscient point-of-view potentially could, but no first person perspective can.

              Also, ErasUrr’s perspective would be actually be particularly unreliable if Blake is right, since it’s little more than primal instincts and Other.

            7. I suppose the disconnect here is that, due to the demon’s ability, I feel that Blake may as well be afflicted with a mental illness or some other affliction. He’s not reporting what actually happened and what he actually perceived, because his ability to recall his perceptions is being screwed with.

            8. It doesn’t count if everyone experiences it. “What actually happened” is a vague phrase. You don’t call it unreliable narration when a character doesn’t notice the gamma radiation that sets off a trap. Why? The character doesn’t report “what actually happened”, but gamma radiation is not typically perceivable.

              I think I see the disconnect, though. Because of your interpretation of ErasUrr as erasing connections, you’re imagining that there really, truly are allies that you’d be able to see and hear “in the moment”, and Blake simply forgets them. You’re saying he’s unreliable since he doesn’t give you the perspective you feel like you should be able to have “in the moment”.

              If I’m understanding correctly, I can see what you’re saying, but what you want is for the story to be told from the present perspective so that you can “see” what is being erased “in the moment” of erasure. However, the story is being told from a future perspective. Even if your view is right and they were simply disconnected from the rest of reality, for all intents and purposes the “current version” of reality has those three allies missing. They are well and truly gone from anyone and everyone’s perspective. He’s not unreliable to not include them in his story; it would be incongruous if he or anyone else did mention them. I suppose you could say that ErasUrr makes everyone an unreliable narrator, but that seems like a misuse of the word “unreliable”.

              Wildbow could have written it in the present tense and shown us the allies, but then there would’ve been no way to properly understand how the past looked from this point on, and we would’ve been disconnected from Blake’s perspective.

            9. You’re not totally correct in your assessment of my perceptions, but you’re close enough in some parts.

              If you believe reality itself to be altered, then how do you explain the fire being lit even after the lighter(?) was retconsumed?

            10. I see it as a causality-breaking change. Everything is the same except now the fire was lit without anything to light it. I see it as changing the reality of the past without changing the results. There is no longer a causal chain and “the present” is a real-ish thing for the purposes of this effect, rather than simply where we are on a timeline.

              Pact often follows mythological beliefs in regard to the effects of things, and it’s been (and still is) commonly believed that there really is a “past”, “present”, and “future” that are not simply positions in time.

            11. Ugh. Okay, I can see that, if only under the principle of “magic works like you think it will,” like invisible people still being able to see despite the fact that light should not be hitting their retina.

              To be short about it, I can see it working the way that you describe it, but it doesn’t seem like a natural extension of the world as it has been described, which reduces the likelihood of it to me.

      1. I don’t think they had that many more allies this early, because ghosts like LIAB and June would either still be at Blake’s appartment or be stuck in the police station. It’s unlikely he kept a Pokeball while returning an other.

        My best guess is that he called for help some of the things that were terrorised by the Hyena and weren’t ghosts. I think the way the Hyena was bounded (extremely lucky happenstance that a branch happened to lodge itself in the chain just in the right spot) hints at the intervention of some other that has later been RetGone.

        1. That assumes that Blake would have ended up at the police station when he had the allies. He might have had an easier time getting out of things. More help from the Knights, or there might have been other minor practitioners who were helping him, he might have had some goblins, some other ghosts. Maybe he never got arrested, maybe did not end up so beat up, thanks to the extra help he had.

          And then She ate them.

          At least that is how it looks to me given the clarification of this chapter. Everything we have read up until now is the story modified by the effects of this encounter – echoing back through time and removing all impact that the devoured had on the world. The only hint that there was anyone else are those few moments when Blake hears or catches glimpse of something being eaten.

          1. If he was never arrested, then he wouldn’t have been emptied out, leading to all of these problems.

            The Ur doesn’t seem to erase what happened, just memories of what happened. That means that even with his allies, he had to empty himself out, make himself small, to escape. He might be remembering it differently from reality, but what actually happened has to have stayed the same.

        2. The chain thing was something blake intentionally set up. One end was hooked to the tree via june and the other was tied into a noose. There was a twig lodged in the chain to keep the noose from collapsing, but Blake put it there. At least that’s how I interpreted it, reading it again.

        3. Actually, I had thought that was a bit easy of a win for something that the surrounding practitioners thought was too much of a bother. After all, Blake had nothing but glamour and some basic assistance from Evan in determining its weaknesses. If there was a mystery assistant? Well, I hope they’re important enough to deserve an interlude later on because I’m really, really curious about what they actually did.

          Actually, maybe it’s better that they aren’t important enough for an interlude…

        4. We know the Hyena had some goblins associated with it, but they never showed up. Maybe when Blake bested the Hyena he gained power over them and they’re just helping him from the shadows, or he called on them and now he just doesn’t remember because they are erased.

      2. How do we know, actually? How did Blake suddenly figure out there were any allies? If they’ve been obliviated, there shouldn’t be any trace of them, how did he just randomly know hentarted with three allies?

        1. One could say that se doesn’t erase Things from existance, just memory. Take the lighter that she ate. If it were to be erased from existance Logic would dictate that another lighter would have taken its Place since how else would Blake have lighted his torch earlier? But instead it dissapeared, leaving nothing in its Wake for him to use, erasing itself only from his memory. Using this Logic you could say that the bodies remain, its just that Ur eats them. As such, Blake can see the blood of his allies that she uses to cover up the Windows so he can Guess how many allies

          1. I had not thought about the lighter, but Blake could have struck something against the factory floor to make a spark. My thoughts are more on how the Knights are…

            They acted as if they did not know anything. If it was just memory that was erased then they would have an idea of how things were. There would be items – keepsakes – that they would not understand because the people they were associated with would be people they could not remember. Events which still happened but which would not make sense without the memory of certain people.

            Although fiction likes to think that you could just “fill in the blanks”, that could require people or things to act completely contrary to how they do in reality. You end up with something patchwork at best, and when you really try you can intuit existence from absence. But the Knights spoke as if they had no idea of the magnitude of their loss. They only figured out something was wrong originally because it did not make sense for them to have never scouted the factory. And wouldn’t there still be things like email records, phone records, letters? Hell – an address book should still retain a record of who you knew. I don’t see how it can just be memory or connections and work like it did on the Knights.

            1. I think the way the demon messes with things the people are connected with, erasing them much like Imp’s power. I imagine it’s influence snaking out across the person’s connections and severing/devouring them. Once something has lost it’s main purpose, it slips through the cracks much like Marcie did (Nick’s son’s girlfriend). Records (digital or physical), possessions, even properties are likely lost or glazed over. I think something is more likely to remain if it is a) far enough removed from the victim or b) supported by enough connections to survivors. However, without a connection to the victim Nick wouldn’t know whose book he had borrowed (assuming it didn’t become ‘his’ by default of not having an owner anymore).

              This lets the Knights indirectly notice the people missing. It wasn’t that they hadn’t checked out the Factory yet that clued them in, it was that the Factory was way too big for a group their size. In fact, all the places they’d been checking out were far too big. Once they noticed that odd fact, a closer look might show other discrepancies, like how they each have familiars and implements and that they’d all read up on those topics, but none of them own enough books related to those to account for their knowledge. They may be able to make a list of these to get a better idea of what they once were (looking at costs for reunions, parties, and other past events), but do they really want to experience that pain of loss rather than blissful ignorance?

            2. I feel much the same, except with perhaps a little less emphasis on “falling through the cracks” and a little more on “no connection.”

              Connections seem to be insanely powerful here, enough that the Duchamps look increasingly powerful the longer the story continues. Also, given that the allies died without being obliterated, I’m much more inclined to the “erases connections with extreme prejudice” theory.

              Think of it the way that Fell described killing Blake, in one of their first meetings; Blake’s body in the lobby, all of them smelling something and avoiding walking over it, but not actually aware of the rotting corpse. All just from screwing with their connections. Given that the demon doesn’t wipe out their physical bodies, I’m thinking that the records of the other Knights still exist–it’s just that no one can perceive them anymore.

            3. @Seaman: “A jawbone hit the floor” seems an awful lot like the rest of the body disappearing.

            4. I really do feel that it’s possible for the jawbone to have simply fallen from the mouth while the body was being chewed, rather than requiring all of the rest of it to just dissipate. But hopefully we’ll find out later.

          2. What if the only reason the fire wasn’t erased was due to it being fire, which the demon is weak against.

            Main reasons I think the demon actually does affect the existence of things instead of just memory: Knight kid’s girlfriend wasn’t eaten, but still fell out of existence due to her parents being eaten. If it had just been the memory of her parents, she could just as easily have thought she was an orphan from a very early age instead.

            1. That’s possible, but I wouldn’t bet anything on it.
              /rim-shot

              To me, that reads as what the Knights say it was, the connections holding her in the world being eaten. Blake gave up too much of himself, and ended up in the nega-Toronto. The gf lost too much of everything else, and slid there on her own.

        2. He made a connection with her guillotine teeth and the blood that he felt didn’t come from her.
          Everytime she bites down on “something”, you don’t remember what it is because it’s erased, but you remember the bite itself. And If what she bit can bleed…

    1. windowframe
      more commonly window frame

      creeping out.
      Creeping out.

      the the
      duplicate

      , the other places so clean and clear
      , but the other places were so clean and clear

      Blood flowed forth. Not the demon’s.
      How is this not the demon’s blood? No one else is bleeding.

      A naked, jawbone lined
      A naked jawbone, lined

      “No,” I said. But the upside is this thing is apparently minor. Or was it moderate?”
      “No,” I said. “But the upside is this thing is apparently minor. Or was it moderate?”

      1. There’s the time Alexis reached out for help-
        This is probably not a typo, but just in case:
        There’s the time Alexis reached out TO help

        My number one rule here was that I wasn’t allowed to die. The others relied on me to be some kind of pillar that fixed them in the world.
        Also not a typo, extremely unclear sentence.

        weeds grew up from cracks or slats the sidewalk,
        in the sidewalk

        imagination filled in the gaps to tell me that I was looking at was a part of the demon.
        either that which I was looking at, or I was looking at a part of the demon

        moist enough to leave a wet, slick on the ground.
        ‘a wet, slick trail’, or ‘a wet slick’ as in oil slick.

        Couldn’t say whether that was because moonlight didn’t work or it wasn’t clear enough as diagrams went.
        or if it wasn’t

        One claw blindly reached a foot over my head, me, only to disintegrate as it passed further into the space.
        over my head, over me

        A naked, jawbone lined with
        either another adjective or ‘a naked jawbone’

        I looked away, and I saw that ‘s’ of bent, broken tail, or arm, staying in my field of vision. creeping out.
        vision, creeping out

        “No,” I said. But the upside is this thing is apparently minor. Or was it moderate?”
        “But the upside

        More tendrils moving and lurching, this time at Evan’s benefit.
        To or at Evan’s benefit. Really weird choice of words. Bene is good.

        As I bent low, the stretches of demon nearest to the floor shrunk away at the sudden approach of the light.
        shrank away

        1. “My arm jumped as flames licked it, and I moved the blanket, only to give the remaining tendril ground at one side of my field of vision.”

          Might I humbly recommend that the last half of this sentence could be phrased more clearly? It’s a bit confusing in the transition from the character obscuring his vision to thinking of a tendril being in his “field” of vision and understanding the word “ground” in that context.

    2. Typos: (I didn’t remove duplicates this time.)
      – “I’m explaining this to him too.” -> ‘to him, too’
      – “I would have done the moment Alexis helped me, but I dunno how I’d even do that.” -> To me, that sentence looks like something is missing. At least I can’t parse it correctly in its context.
      – “in much the same way weeds grew up from cracks or slats the sidewalk” -> ‘in the sidewalk’?
      – “holes on the floor” -> ‘in the floor’?
      – “and imagination filled in the gaps to tell me that I was looking at was a part of the demon” -> ‘that what I was looking at’
      – “moist enough to leave a wet, slick on the ground” -> ‘wet slick’?
      – “staying in my field of vision. creeping out.” -> ‘Creeping out.’ or ‘vision, creeping out.’
      – “drawing a line from the the dwindling circle” ‘from the dwindling circle’
      – “I ducked under” -> one space too much
      – “moved my hand” -> one space too much

      1. “I would have done the moment Alexis helped me, but I dunno how I’d even do that” is perfectly fine. In more explicit English, it could be parsed as something like, “I would have gotten a tattoo associated with the moment Alexis helped me, but I am completely at a loss as to how that could be accomplished.”

    3. tell me that I was looking at was a part of the demon. –> ‘what’ I was looking at

      A naked, jawbone lined with yellowed, uneven fangs –> naked jawbone, no comma

      “No,” I said. But the upside is this thing is apparently minor. Or was it moderate?” –> opening apostrophe before ‘But’

      In the dark. –> wrong italics

  3. Freaky. I guess this story is a retrospective probably. Anyone we see hasn’t been killed by the demon. I suppose he kept some of his allies from Maggie and used them as a weapon, helping him survive impossible odds.

  4. “I’m not,” I said, at the same time Evan said, “He’s not.”

    Evan is adorable and probably my favorite character.

    “You’re right. Um. I think three of our allies just died.”

    Evil demon is terrifying and not my favorite character at all

      1. Or just pyromaniacs. Hallucinating, clad of red or blue, and wearing thick-goggled gas masks.

        muffled laughter

          1. Hey, I get that reference! Because I’ve read Worm now!

            Don’t binge-read Worm like I did kids. Learn from my mistake.

            1. Don’t binge-read Worm like I did kids. Learn from my mistake.

              What other way is there to read it? I don’t think many people have that much willpower.

          2. Well, the vaporization radius of a small nuke should be enough to take out a factory completely, and the vaporization is an expression of released energy. There would be no shadows, because there would be nothing to make shadows.

            The whole “nukes near a human population area” thing would have to be considered though, and whoever was responsible for it trying to justify the use because “There was an Erasurr Demon there.”

            Yea, problems.

            So, Blake, when are you going to start summoning angels? Hrm?

      2. Really, you just come up in the day and knock the place over, then dig it up. Leave no place for it to hide.

        1. Too sloppy – it would hide in the rubble. You would need some way to confine its movements to a certain area, combined with a way to flood that entire area – no cracks, crevices, or exceptions – with daylight or firelight. That probably requires at least some minimal Practice.

  5. The Demon is either Oray (a variant name of Leraje) or Orobis, assuming the Goetia still applies and the given syllable was the first one. (Orias is already accounted for, as Ornias). Haven’t been able to find their power sets to confirm.

    1. Leraje causes conflict, which does not seem too likely a fit. Orobas is more oracular in nature which could be in line with erasing things… If you twist the concept of giving answers on many things, past and future, could you get erasure of things from reality?

      Ur also might not be the first sound in the name.

      1. Dang. Neither of those seem to be good fits. Orobas is the better one, keeping in mind Ornias’ blurb as given by Ms. Lewis, Placing truths in consciousness turned to removing them (yeah it’s a stretch).

        But if we expand the definition to “Any demon in Goetia with an “Ur” sound somewhere in their name”, then the list of suspects is too lengthy to note here.

        1. Could also be that this is such a relatively minor demon that the name is not one in any major book. Ornias and the Barber both seem to have matches, but they are also supposed to be high ranking. I do not think Pauz has a match (?) so this could be a similar case.

          While She does not seem minor… she is fairly limited in her available actions. I imagine a greater demon of the Choir of Darkness might be the kind of thing that would… shorten the lifespan of the Universe slightly? Increase entropy on a much larger scale? Generally cause things to have less usable energy – burning fuel releases a little less energy overall, food becomes a little less sustaining – or require more of everything to get started – crops need a little more water to grow than normal?

            1. The description of Ornias was more about reducing light in general. I picture the Darkness as being about reducing usable energy in general – winding down the Universe and destroying the capacity for creation.

              I’m also imagining that many of the greater demons tend to have effects on similar scale to how Ornias was described: very widespread, small effects that add up over a long time.

            2. @Apozzle if that’s true then I think that Barbie’s effect might have something like “every small cut you get hurts more”, therefore he brings in more pain to the world.

            3. @Diabolist: I don’t think Barbatorem is nearly as high-level as Ornias, and think it’s more like a mid-level demon. Also, I don’t think the barber is a global-effect kind of demon; it doesn’t seem to be working for entropy in general, really.

              Pauz was low-level, but he was actively undermining a system in a local area. The Hyena and goblin in Maggie’s backstory also seem to fit the “undermining the system” theme, but the description of the barber had nothing like that, and even noted he didn’t seek out mischief. The description of the barber was more like a wandering murderer than one trying to screw over humanity/the universe. As such, I think that actually the barber is low or possibly medium-level, which is supported by the fact that it was the first demon that Rose Sr. signed onto the Standard.

  6. Um. . . yeah. Blake needs to rest, level up and come back later.

    Could the erased goblins be the Hyena goblin followers that we heard about but never saw?

    I say, let Pauz win tonight. He already vowed to not harm Blake or those who are Blake’s.

    1. But if that were the case, then Fell wouldn’t have known about them to tell to Blake in the first place.

      …unless there were some goblin followers, and Blake managed to nab all of the ones that he ran into (without running into all of them), resulting in some goblin followers that still existed while simultaneously giving us a reason to not see any personally.

      1. It’s possible that ErasUr only causes a limited retcon. Blake had a pack of matches earlier, in a previous chapter, before he noticed that he had no way to light the fire.
        So, the goblins are gone, but the conversation still exists through a time limit on retcons.
        Another possiblity is that Effects stay with no Cause. Fire stays with no lighter, cat familiar stays with no instruction book, girlfriend stayed with no parents, until she fell through the cracks. I think I need to reread the Knights chapter, I am starting to rely on fanon as opposed to actual memory…I think the girlfriend stayed for a while with no parents, then disapeared because of a lack of connections. Not a retcon, but an erasure of memories, and a consequent sink.

  7. Lets see, assuming the goblins were Maggie’s, on loan to Blake (as he could easily have sent Evan out as a courier to tell her what was up, and bring back the bound goblins), I think having the goblins erased actually did Blake a favor (as he no longer borrowed them, is no longer responsible for them, and no longer owes Maggie whatever favor he promised her for them).
    Interesting that Blake was even able to remember the goblin that was killed, yet not remember where it was from. Maybe it wasn’t an ally after all, but something that someone else sent to kill him? Urrrsula might not have liked someone interfering in their playtime.

    1. He isn’t able to remember the goblin that was killed I don’t think. He remembers the demon attacking and blood going everywhere, and he saw dead goblin parts and extrapolated that he must have had goblin allies before.

    1. Probably because the demon didn’t have time to eat them entirely. As in:

      “I saw one of the demon’s arms that didn’t shrink away.

      Dead, severed. It had cut the arm off when it had been snatching up a goblin.”

      Now, I assume that later on the demon is going to come back and erase them completely, but maybe Blake can somehow commit to memory that he knew that there were three allies, thus patching the hole that the demon already left. Like, he can invent names for them and the demon won’t be able to eat that because there’s no connection?

      I’m not a big fan of the “we had unseen allies this whole time”, so I hope we learn later more about how they came to be and what they influenced in the past. I can understand how it could defeat the horror a bit, but I think the willing suspension of disbelief is more important. And I have a hard time maintaining it if I know that any past event can be modified by “that goblin was with them and helped them” and I’ll never know for sure.

      1. Mixed reactions here. Blake was stretching in his guess, but now we have the WOW (Word of Wildbow) to suggest his guess was correct.

        This sort of thing is probably a bitch to write in first person – omniscient viewpoint would be best, but that is not an option.

        I am left with a vague and uncertain belief that there could be a better way to describe what happened, but I am damned if I know how.

        Eh, still a good read. Very tense.

    2. Huh, I forgot he had those goblins on him. I remember he gave the one in a whistle back though. Well, Maggie might not take it too personally… Actually, it was mentioned the hyena had goblins with it, but we never saw them either…

      This demon is the personification of the fear of the unknown. I’m with Rose, burn that place to the ground.

      1. Burn it down after the the entire area has been contained by multiple layers of redundant circles, just so it can’t run. Maybe you could just bind something like that, too – circling the target without its knowledge.

        1. And put up a sign reading “Future site of ____” In some belief systems Destruction isn’t always a bad force. It’s a force for renewel. By destroying the old, stagnent and obsolete, you can then create something new and better to replace it. Like tearing down a collapsing old building to build a new one. Demons though are the other kind. The pure entropic kind that just plain lessens the universe.

          1. Which belief systems would that be? Because the first off the top of my head is Dungeons and Dragons’ Doomguards, who might still fucking love these demons. Figuratively and literally if they could.

            1. Hinduism, IIRC, has something like that in the interplay between Shiva and Vishnu. Also from an ecological standpoint, how some plants have evolved to capitalize on forest fires.

  8. One possibility on the “allies” who went away is that the demon caught some of the spirits that entered Blake. He was certainly touched enough times that he should have lost more than just the lighter.

    The other possibility is he got some allies when he bound the Hyena, as gratitude. The timing fits.

    1. 3 restored spirits that swore to protect Blake from harm as a boon makes sense.

      Blake swore to strive to fulfill C’s errands, he did strive & has a severd part as proof so he’s not forsworn.

      Maybe they could have succeeded with a circle of glamoured moonlight with a portable moon.

        1. I can’t believe no one has said this before. One of the stock means of fending off monsters in movies. A flare gun. This thing does not handle light and fire well. So use something that shoots those two things. If you could get a flashbomb or something to go off in it’s face, that would work too. Best would be to get it to go off inside Ur, but that probably wouldn’t work at all.

  9. This things “biology”reminds me of the garden but dark and scary instead of awe inspiring and scary. Seriously thought Blake was going to die and we’d see the story reset with the nxt person in line. So glad i was wrong about that.

  10. Okay three allies…
    June, the drunken ghost and Dickwizzle? I guess we’ll find out if they never get mentioned again.

    Also Wildbow loves his memory erasers. On the plus side: DEMON LIMB! I bet he could make a whip or something out of it. Feed it stuff once a day and grow it into a full fledged imp! Could be Rose’s familiar! It would make Rose damn scary. It would also be very confusing. “Hey Blake, what’s up with this empty enemies binder? No idea. Maybe Ur-limb ate them.”

    1. The allies were erased, because they were never mentioned to begin with until they were erased. You can’t have stuff getting mentioned, getting erased, and still appearing in the earlier posts. Thus, June is still with us.

            1. Yeah, I remember that line, and I remember not knowing what he was talking about. What was he talking about?

            2. I can’t tell whether your question is serious or a ret-gone joke. If serious, it was implied (but never outright shown or stated) that Blake had Dickswizzle and the 3 paper goblins returned to Maggie. If joke, what line?

            3. No joke, hadn’t thought of that. On second thought, if Erasurr had gotten those demons, I guess the eraser effect would probably have gone back the entire way, so maybe Maggie gave him more goblins than we thought, and he only gave her some of them back.

      1. Actually the paper goblins and/or Dickwizzle make a lot more sense. He fired them into the dark and they died.

  11. It pains me how I didn’t realise the obvious on the previous chapter… i want to yell “Blake you idiot why did you decide to attack a demon on darkness in the middle of the night“, but since neither of us thought of it in three days, I guess Blake can be excused as well…

    Oh well, better call off the whole “attack Conquest tonight” plan, and hope Pauz doesn’t transform Toronto in a Jurrasic Park with demons instead of dinosaurs and no fences overnight. Because if he does that, Blake might have a much harder time finding allies in the future… “Yeah i’m the guy who handed Toronto to the demons. Yeah, two million known casualties… But I swear I’m one of the good diabolists!”.
    And if they do have some time, they can come back at noon with Tesla coils, neon signs, a letter of apology to all the Others that are offended by neon signs, and a circle of pregnant women holding hands… It doesn’t matter if they’re eaten, they will never have existed in the first place, right? 😉

    1. He’s going to go face Conquest tonight, “I faced the demon, Conquest. Here’s the only part of it that made it outside the building in those last few hectic minutes.” (He’s specifically phrasing it so that if the demon comes after its arm, he won’t be a liar.)

      Then Conquest starts his ritual and it fails badly, because one demon isn’t really a bound demon, it’s just a leftover arm. Then Pauz breaks free.

    2. It was clear that attacking at night was a bad idea, but he didn’t have a lot of choice. He was held in the police station until late afternoon, he had a deadline of midnight to take action and he needed some prep time.

  12. New Typo Thread. Yay, it’s my first time ever starting one, in Worm or Pact. 🙂

    “No,” I said. But the upside is this thing is apparently minor. Or was it moderate?”
    There should be a quotation mark after said, before but — there are only three quotation marks in that paragraph.

      1. So Wildbow can take it easy, and not have to worry about correcting the typos because Ursula ate the corrections?

    1. “No,” I said. But the upside is this thing is apparently minor. Or was it moderate?” is bmissing a quotation mark before but.

  13. Hmm… interesting. It’d be interesting to see the previous chapters with all of Blake’s allies intact. Everyone’s especially hostile attitudes and Blake’s amazing survivability might make more sense if he had goblins and other allies. And maybe the reason the “Allies” field was empty in Rose Sr.’s book was because Blake accidentally zerg rushed them at this monster.

    I think the reason he could remember enough to know that they existed is because they were close enough to the protections to leave something behind that he could remember.

    1. I doubt the allies section was empty because Urrr- ate them. For one, when she eats something it doesn’t retroactively remove its existence; even after eating the lighter, the fires started by the lighter were still there. All memories of it were simply erased. So with that in mind, it’s unlikely that any text would be erased or that entire conversations would change as a result. Didn’t Rose and Blake specifically comment on the allies section being empty? If so, it probably was empty. If they didn’t specifically comment on it and he only remembers it being empty, then it’s likely that he simply cannot remember what was written there, and we have a possible candidate for oblivion lunch.

      That would really suck, because anything Rose Senior left behind as a potential ally/resource would likely be of good quality and hard to replace. This Urrr- thing is a nightmare to fight.

      Maybe… maybe Blake should throw the Barber at it, if he can ever figure out how to get back into his house.

      1. Ursula doesn’t remove the consequences of its actions (which is how you can now it ate them, because memories of the past don’t make sense, as in “how did I light this fire since I never had a lighter with me).

        She does, however, remove all memories or records of them. It gets a bit complicated because the distinction between consequence and record isn’t clear. Like the fire could be a record of the lighter having existed…. But yeah, from what we know of the Knights, the person’s name in any database or record is going to be erased.

        I still don’t believe that’s the cause of the “allies” section being empty, because presumably beings powerful enough to warrant being listed (Grandma Rose clearly didn’t list LIAB for example, even though she used him in the past) wouldn’t show up on short notice to help Blake bound something really scary without a big favor in exchange that Blake can’t really promise.

      2. Ah, you make a fair point: it was specifically commented upon, which is how we know it was empty in the first place.

  14. Oh, I get it. Blake didn’t go in with poor intelligence, a weak body, no allies, and bad gear. He went in with better and it got retconned. The decision to go in was not erased, so he still went in. The preparation was enough for him to survive and get his allies out, but that is all.

    So, did a certain Stonehenge charm get eaten? We saw it in story, so I guess not, but that would be quite satisfying if it did.

    1. It makes a lot more sense, why Rose didn’t use her opportunity to stop Blake now, once you keep that in mind.

    2. I had exactly the same reaction. I’m not someone who likes congratulating authors on plot twists, but pretending whoever he was had been acting stupidly when we were actually going through a memory retcon ? I don’t know who wrote that, but he’s brilliant.

          1. Once again, I can’t tell whether a comment is serious or a ret gone joke? If serious, Wildbow is the writer and creator of Pact. You may notice that he is generally the first to comment and his comments sometimes include production info. If a joke, Wildbow is an enemy from Final Fantasy Tactics.

  15. The level of detail that Blake was reporting was strange, considering that it was all via peripheral vision. It’s amusing, even, that there’s so much more description of something that Blake can’t really look at than there usually is of things that he can.

    It’s a strange comment for this deep in this particular story, but it’s good that we are reminded how the protagonists can still lose. The ideas were presented to us, their various plans revealed, and I still thought at first that he would dive into the heart of the demon to destroy it. Instead, he shambles out of the factory, barely preserving his existence. It’s a very good reminder.

    On the upside, what did they really lose in this engagement, beyond allies that they no longer remember and we knew nothing about?

    1. it’s good that we are reminded how the protagonists can still lose.

      I’m more impressed by the fact that, given what’s actually been happening to Blake since arc 3, Wildbow has somehow been able to give any impression otherwise.

    2. Yeah-it was pretty refreshing to see Blake’s insane perseverance backfire hard on him here. Maybe next time he’ll listen to Rose about them not being ready for this.

      I mean, I’m confident that he’ll win eventually, but him getting the crap kicked out of him due to making a stupid decision made my evening. Hopefully he’ll learn from his mistake!

      1. Portmanteau of “Retcon” – standard fanboy parlance for when backstory is changed without warning – and “consumed” – ate. Taken together, it means “got eaten from history.” It’s a nice, workable descriptor for what the ErasUrr does. Like “assassineated” from Schlock Mercenary, which describes a particular action perpetrated by the title character.

  16. I just thought Blake was imagining things. otherwise, it’s a pretty bad spoiler knowing the 3 people in danger are going to survive unharmed. (Except w/ Blake maybe refilled a bit more, via demon essence)

    1. “Except w/ Blake maybe refilled a bit more, via demon essence”

      Ohh, that could be interesting. Also dangerous. We’ve seen what Pauz’s radiation does, I wonder what this one does? Probably not quite as much, since Urrr-‘s retconsume ability is something she has to actively use as opposed to something that’s just always on.

      1. Hard to say. Pauz is like a dirty nuke. But by it’s Nature ErasUrr seems more like a black hole. It doesn’t give off things, it just consumes them. I may however be compleatly wrong.

          1. Oh, yeah forgot about that! And I’ve played enough Super Robot Wars that I should remember the principles behind the black hole engine.

  17. If he went back to C like this & confronts him without the Knights backung, he’s fucked unless he can talk C into summoning it into his realm with the limb with a “like calls to like” thing.

  18. Ok. Theory time:

    “Some practitioners have barometers, to measure where they stand in the grand scheme of things,” I said.

    “Implements and the like, yes,” Fell said.

    Blake actually already has an inplement, his tattoos. Either they became his implement unintentionally, or someone helped him with the ritual. That somebody just got eaten.

    1. the implement ritual is probably not the kind oh thing that can happen by accident, intention is very important in this universe, and if someone helped him with the ritual he would remember doing it himself, while probably being very surprised of how much power he managed to infuse into it.

      1. *Click.

        *Chang.

        *Pow!

        And just like with that girl Heather from my youth, my proposal has once again been shot down.

  19. When I first started reading this chapter and saw that Even was scouting the factory, my first though was “How horrible would it be if Even literally just dropped out of the story and never appeared again”. That power was a terrifying opportunity and personally I’m glad it got put to use. Even if it will burn in my mind forever that we don’t know about Blake’s 3 lost allies.

    Seriously. I may lie awake tonight thinking about what could have happened. For all we know Blake could have had a best friend, Rose could have had her own familiar, maybe Blake met a girl practitioner from the Knights of the Basement, fell in love with her and she went with him to bind the demon.

    Dear God I take it back. This is an absolutely horrifying, madness inducing question that will end up putting me in a mental institution.

    1. Perhaps Blake found the girl who slipped through the cracks and rescued her, only for her to be eaten in her quest for revenge!

      1. No, because then we wouldn’t have read about her. She can’t have had come along. However, maybe her brother or sister, who wanted to do whatever they could to stop this demon; went with Blake and, when they were eaten, Marcie retroactively fell through the cracks as she didn’t have enough tying her to the world.

      2. Wildbow, a write so brilliant (and lazy), he manages to get other people to imagine awesome stories for him !

    2. Nah, trust me, it could have been much, much worse, krustacean.

      Remember, Blake’s all fucked up and possess-able. And was getting up close and personal with that demon. And saw part of it.

      But hey, at least he’s out now, presumably unpossessed by it. I mean, sure he doesn’t remember being possessed by it, but it’s not like it’s a demon that affects people’s memories, is it?

        1. Bah, that’s ok. Here, maybe if I show you a weaker little demon, maybe that’ll put your mind at ease.

          No good can come of thinking about all that goes on behind closed doors, don’t you think? Well, that goes double when you worry about “The Many Doors of Albert Whale”

          Careful what you wish for, kiddies. You never know when you’ll get your heart’s desire…and what else desires a heart.

          Sleep tight, boils and goyles.

            1. No, it was a great binding, she was still bound even after his presumed death. She then did what she was presumably bound to do — protect his demense and kill any intruders who broke in.

            2. Considering what Blake went through there and how lucky he was to get out with the help of Rose and Evan, you now get a better idea of what the Knights faced. We’re back to the same thing the Knights wondered about: just how many people did they have with them when they went in there?

      1. Bah, speak for yourself. Unless somebody’s opening up a portal to the Pact universe, I’m as perfectly safe as anyone can be who has the kind of organization gunning for me that I have, on top of all the heroes hating me. Plus, there’s still some unresolved issues related to what I did to the Statue of Liberty and this one skyscraper. And possibly a parking ticket or two.

        Long story short, it’s in this thing’s best interest if it leaves the fourth wall alone, because it might pick on the wrong dimension. And my eyes are cybernetic prostheses.

        Mwahahahahahahaha! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOY3O_d3GbQ

    1. yes he is, i was initially disappointed in the decision but the massive dodge bonus has proved it right all by itself, a less mobile familiar probably wouldn’t have made it .

  20. “I feel like I got gently rolled over by a few cars”

    Is that not a bit of a lie? I’m sure being rolled over by a few cars, gently or not, would mean you stop feeling at all… because you are dead :3

    1. A) There are pretty light cars.
      B) He specified /gently/ for a reason.
      C) He used ‘like’ and therefore it is almost impossible for it to be a lie on mere factual terms, so long as he intends it not to be a lie.

      1. Well, I will grant you A and B. But to “feel like something” is a comparison, and remember you can’t exaggerate in this world, for that is a lie. if I literally felt like a big car rolled over me, then I would be feeling like I just had my organs, bones and muscles squished and they stopped functioning. Therefore, I would feel like I’m dead, and you can only feel like you are dead if you are dead.

        But yeah, it could be a light car. Maybe even a model car, for what it’s worth. :3 I feel like a couple of Hot Wheels just rolled over me!

        1. Some people survive getting rolled over. With minor injuries, even (I’ll let you google the creepy stuff).

          From a physics point of view, a 4-wheeled car has plenty of ways to lighten the dynamic load under a tire. Sometimes it happens when the tire is over someone. Other times you have a tire full of gore.

          Oh, also isn’t there that crazy “human speedbump” thing. I’m pretty sure Blake feels like one of these.

        2. It depends on what it runs over and what speed it was going. I had a small original Volkswagen Bug run over my leg when it was going about 5 MPH. It was painful, I couldn’t walk on it for a few hours, but no real damage.

        3. I am using an internet connection with limits on what I can see, so no YouTube, but there are videos out there of people getting run over deliberately while lying on a bed of nails. The human body can take an amazing amount of punishment sometimes, especially if prepared and trained for it.

        4. Wait, what? Where did you get that? We see exaggerating all of the time without consequence (that we know of). Blake telling Joel that Conquest was of less help than he hoped, or saying that he could eat a horse, or Duncan saying that he was dying for some coffee; no reaction from those or ones like it have been noted that I’m aware of.

        5. See, this is what always gives me a headache when dealing with the ‘anti-lying’ system in place. It’s yet to be stated whether it’s a ‘lie’ when the statement is false or if the person saying it thinks it’s false. For example, would it be considered a ‘lie’ if person A saw person B enter a room, but didn’t see them leave through a different exit and then said “B is in that room”? Alternatively, if person A didn’t see person B enter the room and then thought they were lying when they said “B is in that room”, would they take a power hit?

          1. It is not a lie. If you look at Laird’s introduction, when he pulls the time-skip trick on Blake, Laird says that he had no plans to harm Blake. Laird believed that to be true at the time, thus he lost no karma, even though it was made false by a truth learned at a later time. Intent is one of the greatest factors in this universe in determining most things, like lying, binding, and power.

            1. It wasn’t a lie. He said that he didn’t have any such plans, and he didn’t; the fact that he later had such plans is irrelevant to karma or power.

            2. It wasn’t made false though. He said that it ‘isn’t‘ a trick. At that point in time, it wasn’t a trick. He came up with the trick, which furthered his primary aim of finding out who Blake was, as they walked.

              However, his intent was to deceive Blake, to get him out of his house. Why would that intent not be considered when talking karma hits?

            3. Sarcasm in the sense they used it is technically a lie – you are stating a falsehood intentionally. Now, it’s borderline because you’re not actually trying to deceive, but that doesn’t change that it’s a falsehood.

            4. Which leads back to what’s important, the intent or the truth. In this case it was the fact that it wasn’t true. Does that mean that the mother, that Blake convinced to say that she loved him, told a lie? Is it as simple as what the spirits know is true is considered truth? Can the spirits be fooled?

          2. That depends. It seems like, it wouldn’t be a lie if person A doesn’t know that person B isn’t in the room.

            It probably becomes a lie after person B is shown to have left the room.

            A lie has to fulfill both requirements, apparently:
            That the lie is untrue
            That the person who said the untruth knows it’s not true.

            If a person disguised as person B left the room, and A saw it, but said person B was in the room, it wouldn’t be a lie.

            If person B left the room but person A assumed person B was in the room, it wouldn’t be a lie unless he finds out person B left the room.

            … I think.

            1. Hmm… I have a theory about statements not about the future:
              You lose power when you say something you have no reason to believe is true. This avoids the problems of discovering truth through making claims and losing power while relating what you believe (incorrectly) to be the truth. The way I understand it, the system is supposed to get you to speak what you have reason to believe is the truth, not clam up for fear of speaking an untruth.

              My theory about statements about the future is that you must ensure that your claim comes to pass or you will suffer consequences.

          3. This was actually explored pretty early in Pact. Blake and Rose decided it mus be the second possibility because otherwise they would be able to figure out whether the person was still in the room by saying both that they are in the room and that they have left the room and seeing which statement drains power.

  21. What if some of the Knights eaten by ErasUrrr and the allies eaten in this chapter are the SAME people? Maybe some survivors from the first time Knights went there; they went again with Blake and retroactively joined the missing.

      1. Yeah, that nickname is boss. Maybe she was singing “Open your eyes…. your eyes are open” to trick Blake. That means she’ll always wanna be with him, and live in harmony, harmony oh love… 😀

        Also, I suggest the factory should be named “the Castle of Urrrrrrrrrrr”. Because it’s been a while since we made any Holy Grail jokes.

    1. The way I see it. The only things that seem to stay after something gets eaten, are decisions made that might be related to the demon. Like the knights attempting their run (they said something about possibly being more prepared) or Blake attempting his run, at night, with no allies, as an integral part of his plan to defeat Conquest.

      I think that there were more players involved in his plan to go against Conquest and some of them got eaten. It makes his whole “Maybe we can defeat Conquest” a whole of a lot more realistic seeming than his current reliance on maybe getting help from a bunch of longshot sources like the knights and the astrologer. If he had some allies in his corner, it would make his decisions over the last couple of days (such as not calling up the lawyers at various points in the story) make more sense.

  22. I’m confused…

    I mean, I think I understand the whole allies thing, but I don’t understand how the story makes any sense anymore. Unreliable Narrators usually manage to give off some some hints of how reality was different, but if Blake had unmentioned allies before now it would have completely changed everything.

    I’m sure there’s a plan here to explain everything coherently, and the implications I’m gathering from the chapter aren’t correct.

    Man, can you even conceive of someone getting their hands on that power, though? Like, someone competent who doesn’t hide it away in an abandoned factory? That’d be such a complete and utter game changer of a power.

    1. Logically, the allies in question have to be either minor (like the bound goblins) or recent enough that they would not effect events prior to this-the existence of allies lends support to Blake going in when he can barely walk (which was still an incredibly stupid idea, of course) but I think that any practitioner allies, or Others that weren’t bound to help them, would have raised objections.

      Basically, when Blake says “allies” I think he means it in the context of “firepower.”

    2. But the point of ErasUrr (Wonderful, wonderful nickname, kudos to Sid Cypher) is that your allies have never existed. There’s no change until and unless something occurs to highlight the hole where allies should be. Like in this case – the demon rears back, strikes, draws blood on three occasions – but there’s nothing where the demon struck to draw blood from. Therefore, something must have been there, something the demon would have seen as prey, and therefore it would have been allied with Blake and co. But Blake went in with no human allies, and we still remember both June (in the precinct evidence room) and Leonard (from his summons), so the only remaining sacrificial allies would be goblins whose names we don’t know (I think the Dickswizzle flute was returned to Maggie).

    3. “Man, can you even conceive of someone getting their hands on that power, though? Like, someone competent who doesn’t hide it away in an abandoned factory? That’d be such a complete and utter game changer of a power.”

      Yeah, maybe that is the narrative reason Blake doesn’t bind this one and hand it over – Conquest with this thing would be a bit overpowered.

    4. Yeah, I thought about that too, and maybe I’m nitpicking, but it seems kinda like a waste to send a diabolist you don’t trust (and don’t really expect to succeed) on the entity, rather than seriously trying to bind it. I mean, a being that deletes you from other people’s memories ? That a game breaker, unless someone finds a counter.

      You can use it to kill your enemies without their allies retaliating, use it to scare other enemies into submission, make people forget about their assets and look weak and reckless, and so on.

      1. It seems like an enormous waste, especially since it would stop Conquest’s ability to get at the Thorburn information.

        1. Conquest seems to be a lot like Pauz in that he acts in accordance with his nature even when that means acting against his own best interests.

          Come to think of it, humans are a lot like that too…

    5. I’m not sure that its power is especially more effective than some other power. It’s a terrifying power, of losing memories, but in direct combat a more combat oriented power is more useful.

      I mean, consider say a fire demon of a similar strength. What would it do differently? Well, when it got its hands on Blake it would have burnt him. It would have won.

      1. I was thinking something similar. The ability to erase people makes for a great terror weapon. But if it has to eat you to have that effect? Given that that’s lethal anyway it’s no more of a threat to the practitioner trying to bind it than any other big gnashy demon would be.

  23. If I would have been Blake I’d have used the wind rune to nourish the flames (reducing fuel consumption), and probably several copies scratched into my skin (so they’re wet with blood but not outside myself) to shape the flame into a floating ring in which i’d feed the gassoline.

      1. Also the connections between OthersPractitioners or OthersSpiritsPractitioners seem to be the only points of interaction between the natural and supernatural. So if this thing erases, it does so by following a graph (of the nodes and vertices type) of connections. It may, therfore, be possible to manipulate some particular nodes which interact with the wind, quiet, let alone, etc. runes that Blake knows so that you stop the demon from doing some types of damage.

        1. it seems that less than minu more than is interpreted as html brackets… there were so me arrows intended between Others and Practitioners and Sprits

          1. also i’m focusing on shamanism beacuse it seems the most versatile of Blake skillset right now, provided a decent power source.

            On the topic of power sources can’t Blake use the spirits invading him as a power source by modifying his natural reaction to them from repulsion to digestion or hegemony?

    1. also since he is a theatre craftsman of sorts he could just have picked some limestone off the ground used a wind rune to intesify the flames, tossed the lime in and after it reaches about 1700 celsium BAM YOLO I GOT LIMELIGHT

  24. Wait, I’m confused. The demon are his lighter, so he has nothing to light his torch with, and then a few seconds later he’s lighting it? This isn’t even a typo, this is a big inconsistency. Unless his second lighter gets eaten later in the story, maybe.

    Can the demon create time paradoxes? Blake survives, so just have had second lighter, but second lighter is then eaten……

  25. At least this story’s surprise guest came out ok. Of course, I mean Ripplex Spleendick the Unwaxed. He does interesting things with body hair and organ removal.

    As for the dead goblins, I have to say RIP Fartknocker and Fartlicker. They were twins, you see. I guess some might see it as a smart move, to use them as distractions like he did, but then he kinda just left them there outside the circle like that. It’s licker’s scummy ole tophat I’m going to miss the most, though knocker almost had him beat that time he tried to make his own monocle out of that plastic ring in the Hyena’s forest.

    Never has a practicioner had such true, if disgusting, companions. At least Rose doesn’t have to go out on that date with Fartlicker now, though. Which was a shame, because the guy was rather charming by goblin standards. Not like Fartknocker, always trying to stick Evan in inappropriate holes. There was even that time he took a handful of bird seed and tried to trick Evan up there. Whew. Good thing fell pulled up at the right time to knock Fartknocker and spill all that bird seed around.

  26. So… imagine if this was a contingency of Conquest’s all along. Piss off everyone by capturing the diabolist to be used, use him to get some demons, then erase him and the reason all the practitioners had to be mad at him. Perhaps if Blake had died earlier, Conquest would have fed him to the demon anyway to erase his existence for the same reason.

  27. During Blake’s fight with Hyena, I found it odd that:
    1) He never ran into any other goblins, and
    2) He managed to get respite from the Faeries that were attacking him, assess the situation, and then escape without having them chase him.
    Perhaps he managed to bind whatever subservient goblins he ran across and they also provided a distraction for the Faeries so he could escape.

    I was also a little surprised he managed to survive Pauz’s animals alone, since I would’ve assumed they’d just dogpile him, rather than attacking him in small groups like they did. Perhaps an ally helped screen the animals?

    However, I don’t see much evidence of an ally in the fighting with Duncan, since I’d assume an ally wouldn’t let Blake get tackled by Duncan. Unless Duncan also had an ally that Blake stole and lost? There were at least 3 allies, and there were 3 fights in Toronto…

    1. Dammit… the mindscrew of could have beens, should have beens & would have beens is giving me a headache. Blake could have been flushed with 3 victorys & confident enough to challenge EraasUr only to have this happen, I was right, the Universe is out to make sure Blake can’t keep the prizes of his victories.

      1. But remember, history rewrites itself to be at least plausible, apparently. We can guess that someone else might have helped in some situations, but we can’t know.

        1. I think that rather than history being rewritten, things that have been erased simply aren’t there anymore, so the thing to look for would be strange lapses, incongruous behavior, or a simple lack of pieces of information, like what Blake would light the fire with.

          I’d say that what makes this especially hard is that our perspective is basically filtered from a refined stream-of-consciousness, essentially taking from Blake’s internal monologue and some sensory information. People usually don’t remind themselves about everything they know, see, or do, so important pieces of information get left out simply by virtue of him not thinking about it. We don’t catch that Blake didn’t mention what he would light the fire with because we assume he just didn’t think about it too much and it was filtered out simply by virtue of not being terribly important.

          1. Agreed, I suppose it’s more that the human mind would fill in the gaps. There was no gap to fill in the complete lack of fire when Blake was trying to find something to light gasoline with.

            Waaait a second. This demon has potential. Whenever someone is convicted of genocide or crimes against humanity, feed them to the demon.

            Of course, if you do that enough times, then it becomes unclear why you are keeping a demon like that around because society doesn’t remember it’s monsters.

            Since a lot of those type people tend to be megalomaniacs who want to put their names in the history books, knowing that your name will, for all intents and purposes, never have existed might actually be a meaningful deterrent.

            1. Yes, let’s take the worst, most creative, and most destructive people in the world, then feed them to a monster which apparently takes their essence and adds it into his own. I’m sure he won’t get any more powerful from that. :p

            2. YOU’RE NOT ERASING MY LITTLE PONY!

              I wonder what would happen if you fed a leader like that to the demon. I mean, the soldiers that carried out the genocide would have still carried it out, but now they won’t remember why they did it.

            3. But, But, it would be for the greater good? Pollute the terrible evil of the Erasurr demon with cuteness, rainbows, and mostly lawful good little blue communists?

            4. 1) It’s not shown that the Erasurr demon absorbs the positive traits of whatever it eats. In fact, I’d argue that it doesn’t, as all the knights it ate would have had some positive effect on it.

              2) Eating ‘My Little Pony’ would erase all the good it’s done. All the people that might have relied on it during hard times, or learnt positive things from it, would be back to the state they were before. All the friendships that developed through people talking about the show could disappear. Heck, the money raised for charities through fans of the show could be gone as well…so yeah probably wouldn’t be that good.

              3) A little bit pedantic but, in the latest generation at least, they’re not communists; they’re very much capitalists.

            5. Not to mention do you really want to give ErasUrr cartoon physics powers. Offscreen teleportation alone would make it a hundred times more dangerous.

            6. My Little Pony ? You mean, that show with evil gods, love-eating monsters, swarms of quickly replicating locusts, Cerberus, dragons, cockatrices, and a pony that can beat of the above with a mere look ?

              Sure, let’s feed this to the monster and hopes he doesn’t acquire it. No way it could backfire 😀

              Cony : they have no money (or sometimes they have, except when they don’t because you need to introduce money so they can learn An Important Lesson). So, probably not capitalists. But not communists either, at least not in the sense of “anything like IRL communist states”.

              Also eating mlp wouldn’t erase all the good it’s done. People would still try to defeat basiliks by staring at them, they would just forget why 😀

    2. “During Blake’s fight with Hyena, I found it odd that:
      1) He never ran into any other goblins, and
      2) He managed to get respite from the Faeries that were attacking him, assess the situation, and then escape without having them chase him.”

      Good observation. We were told at least once that the Hyena had goblin allies. So maybe Blake cut a deal with the goblins and Faerie and they were his temporary allies against ErasUrrr.

      1. it is especially mentioned (not know where exactly) that the hyena has “goblin followers”, not allies, and that they “steer clear of it” > they are parasites thriving in its wake.
        also, fairy zombies/spirits/ghosts may likely fall into the “walker” category, not very fast but persistent.

        1. The Faeries he saw running at him were pretty damn fast.
          I didn’t remember the goblin followers were keeping away, so I suppose it wouldn’t be that surprising if he didn’t run into them.

        2. No, we were told that the Hyena is “a twisted goblin that even other goblins steer clear of” (4.03) and that “it has goblin followers” (4.04). As someone pointed out in the comments, Ganghus Khan had human followers and other humans steered clear of him, so they don’t conflict, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they were saying that the Hyena had goblin followers who steered cleared of it.

    3. and we can add to those observation what Blake told Evan just before the police appeared:
      “I’ve dealt with a lot of ghosts and goblins, and… it sort of feels right?”
      “a lot”? he dealt with maybe three goblins, doesn’t sound right.

    4. Honestly, I thought that between the riot he incited and the “squeeze” that he, uh, slipped through, they just lost track of him, and he got far enough away that they couldn’t see him when he reached the surface again. No assistance required, though I could see how it could be there in theory.

      The 3 allies and 3 fights bit makes his comment about making it out of fights stronger and with more tools make much more sense, especially given his previous assessment of that thought process.

  28. A question suggests itself: How did Blake not lose anything when it got into his eye?

    An idea: Perhaps the times when Blake felt most off or least grounded were times where he was heavily influenced by one of those who has been erased, and when he is least like what he was before the existence demon got to his allies.

      1. Are you perhaps suggesting a cutting specialist got into his eye(s)? Maybe that’s why he cuts himself so much…

            1. Gadzooks, you’re right! I wonder if Laird’s long-term plan is to destroy all Others with Zeus’ cannon, with reckless disregard for the damage to Earth. And Blake has to stop him by finding all eight plot coupons.. I mean special spirits.. to stop the Others from being such jackasses to humans all the time.

            2. Ah, I never saw it, so I didn’t know it sucked. On an unrelated topic, Wikipedia is a wonderful resource.

    1. Blake is low on self. Blake gets an eyeful of null-demon. Here’s to hoping there’ll be interesting effects on his vision or people who look him in the eye.

      1. I’m imagining a combination of Imp and Valefor, where people who look him in the eyes forget about him. Or perhaps connection-removing eyesight. It could be pretty awesome for Blake, which is a good reason to doubt it’ll happen.

        1. Are you suggesting Blake could have an amnesia geass? I could totally see that happening, and because it’s Blake, it would probably be always on. He would have to wear an eyepatch normally.

          Wait a minute.

          Feared by many. Taking what he wants by force. Having a bird companion. Wearing an eyepatch.

          Guys. . .

          Blake is becoming a diabolist pirate!

          1. Are you suggesting that in the future Blake may be able to do what he wants, ’cause a pirate is free?
            I wonder if he’d force Rose to dye her hair pink…

  29. In each of my posts, mentally replace every instance of “demon” or “existence demon” with “ErasUrr” because awesome.

  30. Ahahahahahahanononononononopenopenopenopegodsno.

    Existential horror, visceral horror, bump-in-the-dark horror, unknown horror, brutal horror, and Lovecraftian horror in one big nasty.

    Hahahahahahaha no.

    Nuke it from orbit. Nuke it again. Never set foot upon that site for the rest of eternity.

    1. No, better thought! Sloths can move so slow that they get algae growing on them. What we need is an army of sloths, preferably led by a three-toed general. You can’t sway me from this plan, either, not with an army of wraths or lusts even.

      1. Or maybe it’s because they’re just dirtier creatures. After all, I don’t hear much about algae growing on turtles…

        You see them strollin’, you waitin’, boling tryin’ to catch them climbin’ dirty.

        1. Kudzu would be a hilarious thing to connect with Conquest. Does it grow that far north, though?

          I’m liking this plan. Slowly strangle ErasUrr to death with an advancing wall of leafy green.

          1. Oh, wait! Glowing mushrooms! There is a certain species of phosphorescent mushroom found on an island just off Japan, said to glow so bright enough to read by with just a tiny one.

            Is there any glowing algae? We could sprinkle some on the sloth army…

            1. there are, but they are aquatic so probably not sloth-friendly,unless we equip them with some kind of water filled plastic backpacks, oh, the plan just gets better and better.
              according to wikipedia kudzu was discovered on ontario on 2009, on one of the warmest regions of the country, that’s probably good enough for conquest.

  31. Speaking of three missing allies, what happened to the three spirits that were with Duncan earlier? Perhaps they saw what Blake did with Evan, and what Duncan did with Evan, reconsidered who they were allied with, switched to Team Thornton, and were subsequently erased?

    If they weren’t erased just now, then what happened to them? Sure, Duncan might have lost his own power, but he still had a lot of borrowed power, plus the power from the spirits.

    1. Evan nicked one, but Duncan presumably still has the rest of the borrowed power. It’s just that he needs all of it for a rollback, and also he’s been arrested. Even if he could escape with magic, his career’s been shot to hell, and he can’t use any more police resources against Blake. And the other Behaims probably aren’t going to be very happy with him when it turns out he not only failed to hold Blake for even a whole day, but also lost some of the borrowed power. He’s still a practitioner that hates Blake, of course, but considering that Blake already defeated him thrice, he doesn’t really rate as much of a threat among the various practitioners that hate Blake.

  32. I’ve got to mention something I’m pleased about here. Upon reading the last chapter, I was really disappointed with Blake and Rose because they seemed to be way, way underprepared to take this demon on. It looked like they were taking entirely too much of a risk, with Blake in his condition and almost no plan or resources. Well, this decision makes sense now: They had much better odds when the fight began. They had at least three allies (either as fully autonomous practitioners/others or dumber beings like Dickswizzle to serve as munition). But of course, these things get eaten, and thus never existed at all. Past events are changed and B&R’s reasons for going through with the mission are retconned into being something that A) doesn’t involve people and objects that don’t exist anymore and B) still end up with them going to the factory, because that’s what happened and that fact has no reason to change. So we’re left with particularly unsatisfactory justifications for their attendance, because all the good reasons they went got eaten. Great. I wonder whether anyone noticed how silly it was that they felt confident enough to go and predicted something like this? I sure didn’t. I’m not absolutely certain that this interpretation is intended or that this is consistent with the way the demon works, but I definitely like the flavor of it.

    Maybe I should say something about some common sentiments I’m seeing in these comments that I disagree with. I think people who are wondering whether the allies were June, or Leonard, or Dickswizzle are sort of missing the point of what this demon does. Those beings couldn’t have been lost because we still remember them. Anything the demon eats, we have no memories of, and we only see their lasting effects on the world; this is why Blake thinks he forgot a lighter even though Rose immediately figures out that that isn’t (strictly) true.

    There’s also no special “bond” or anything like that that lets Blake remember that his companions existed. It’s just that he sees blood that doesn’t come from anyone else he knows of, so it must be someone else. Also, the only reason he knows one of them was a goblin is because he saw a goblin body part, I assume. I can’t find a direct reference to one, though. People discussing a “goblin arm” seem to be conflating the goblin with the demon’s severed arm (as far as I can tell?).

    1. right, but– isn’t his lighter mentioned as existing prior to being eaten?
      need to go re-read, but how did he light the torch/fire initially, before existential hell broke loose? shouldn’t that also have been retconned?

      1. ErasUrr doesn’t retcon existence, otherwise there never would have been anything to eat in the first place. It just seems to retcon memories and records. Changing everything everyone can remember of something until it is as close as possible to having never existed.

      2. No lighter was mentioned, no. He didn’t mention how it was lit, it simply was.

        What Sengachi said. Also, from all indications we’re reading from the perspective after everything has been erased, so we’re in the same boat as Blake is regarding confusion and possible horror at lost allies.

    2. Remember that about half of their planning phase wasn’t put in the text – we know about their circle ideas and the idea for the torch, but there was a break in the text between what we saw planned and when they arrived at the factory. I’m going to presume that it will be revealed if they manage to defeat this thing later on and hopefully their memories are restored.

      1. The more I soak up the flavor of Pact, the less I think that things work like that–i.e., that their memories could be returned, especially given that it was a demon that ate them.

    3. That also means that as long as the demon is alive, we can’t trust anything we read. We could better assume that everything that has happened and will happen until this demon is dealt with is just retconned story missing important parts.

  33. I don’t know if you noticed, but there are interesting implications to this:
    – female demon
    – keeping to a den instead of hunting around every night
    – protecting it savagely

    You don’t want to go to the boiler room, Blake.

    “Who’s a cute tiny little eldritch horror baby ? How sweet, he already has his mother’s teeth !”

    1. it seems that demons are more likely to reproduce by releasing imps/motes and assigning them some tasks, a demons actively nurturing and protecting its offspring would imply that it has a plan that requires many relatively strong followers,we don’t have much evidence though and i guess it may be a common tactic.

  34. amazing chapter wildbow, would i be wrong to assume that you really enjoyed writing this? loved everything about the fight, how disgusting and large the demon is, how intense everything was, i remember this story was described as horror/modern fantasy, and i finally felt the “horror” part.
    btw, i totally called the whole “allies being retroactively erased from the story” thing, it feels good, i wonder if blake can find out about those lost allies by looking at the demons corpse once/if he defeats her, it certainly looks like she’s been adding all that biomass more o less intact to her body.

  35. Conquest mentioned that he can easily bind anything that was bound before. So Pauz coming unbound won’t win the day.

    1. Bound inside Conquest himself. Pauz won’t want to leave the inside of Conquest. Just like Grandma Rose said, if you get the Barber in your eye he will never leave.

  36. Maybe Blake did take some of the followers from the Hyena incident. At the police station they kept asking him if he saw goblins (perhaps they were surrounding the police station). Maybe Conquest had someone besides Fell watching Blake to make sure he didnt run.

    I dont think the allies were from before Blake arrived at Toronto (I really hope Dudeman is wrong about the Ally book. It would suck if this fight is the reason Blake is so outnumbered in Jacob’s Bell, but Sir Fuente’s idea about the tattoo does sound interesting).

    Is it possible that Blake used the Lawyers? They seem like they have some useful practitioners that could help in this situation. But if they get eaten, no one remembers the deal (though its likely have a better way to keep records)

    The knights mentioned a female that escaped with them, but then she disappeared days later because she lost too many connections. Maybe she went back with Blake. Maybe once you face Urrr once, its erasing powers dont work as well (or Blake knowing he lost an ally ensures her name is remembered).

    1. while it would, in theory, be a cool narrative thing to pull off, i nonetheless hope the three allies were not major figures in blake’s life. it makes the story too confusing. i’m with the people hoping these are reasonably new torontonian allies, not, like, blake’s childhood best friend who has been with him his entire life and was there supporting him through his homelessness only you know now he never existed. it makes the story far too confusing to connect to, otherwise

      1. I agree. If everything up till now, and until this demon is finally dealt with turns out to be retconned it kinda breaks my investment of disbelief.

    2. I don’t think she could’ve gone back with him, and this is why. The knights still remembered her. If she is ever erased they wouldn’t remember her in the slightest because of the ret gone

  37. So, for those reading Wildbow’s PRT Quest: Department 64, I wonder how Lightslinger would stack up against the Darkness Demon.

    1. Lightslinger would do really well for a few minutes, but then ErasUr would figure something out and twist the situation to something unworkable.

  38. Here’s a thought. When it comes to time rollbacks versus existence erasure, who wins? If Duncan were to roll back time right now would Blake’s allies then be back to existing? If so, and honestly even if not, Blake needs to go make a deal with Duncan.

    “You’re basically FUBAR’d right now, Dunc. So I’m gonna make you a deal. You give me an oath to repeat that time warp one last time, do everything in your power to get me released from prison with no strings or traps attached within the hour, and not to make any move against me for a month. In exchange I put you in a position to accomplish that, and you go back to NOT being under arrest for attempting to frame and then kill someone on your uncle’s orders.”

    1. Blake has the magical time amulet himself. He could presumably ask Duncan how it works for the sake of fixing his fuck-up.

    2. rollback would win, time travel is extremely OP, ErasUrr only erases connections and lets the mind rebuild the memories around that void. the Behaims are assholes though, they would probably refuse even if it was a perfectly reasonable offer, blake really needs to ask a sixth choir devil to make them irresistibly attracted to rabid bears or power outlets.

    3. I’d say existence erasure. As after the rollback, things remain fundamentally the same, as Duncan said in 5.4:

      “Don’t suppose I could get you to turn back the clock?” [Blake] asked. “We could have a round three.”

      “Wouldn’t matter. You remain fundamentally the same.”

  39. I don’t think the demon has the power to retro-actively remove people from existence. That’s extremely powerful, it would directly oppose the creator (if there is such a thing). A minor abstract demon simply can’t be that powerful.
    The knight with the shotgun has a son but his wife is missing thanks to ErasUrre, if she had never existed, then where did the son come from? Same is true for all the body parts.
    In the end… do you know how big your impact on reality is? Over your entire lifetime? Erasing all of that would mean rewriting history, it would change the entire world each and every time a victim is devoured.

    No, I think it’s far more likely that the demon eats the connections people have to their surroundings. Perhaps the memory is still there, somewhere, just not connected to anything. If you can’t associate it with anything, then it might as well not exist for you. It’s a blind spot, a crack in the world of memory.

    For example… let’s say Blake had an ally named John Smith. This ally was connected to his family, to his friends, to some Others he dealt with, to his neighbours, shopkeepers and so on. And to Blake, of course. Now the demon bites down and devours all those connections. At this moment Blake wouldn’t see John Smith anymore, there would be a blind spot in his perception. For Blake (and everyone else in the world) John Smith would cease to exist, ripped out from the pattern (to use WoT terminology). But all his accomplishments, his existence up to that point wouldn’t vanish. People just wouldn’t remember them and their minds would make something up to fill the blank spots after a while.

    Still scary but more realistic. In the context of fiction that is. :p

    I don’t think Blake had any now forgotten allies prior to his escape from Duncan’s trap. There are no obvious holes in the story that I can see. And really, who could he call? The lawyers would not be beaten so easily, Blake wouldn’t call on any demons or involve his friends and he had zero resources except for the stuff taken from the police station. Which was nothing more than his clothes, Evan, Rose and the trinket Evan stole from Duncan. Which might not even be useful to Blake.
    We have (bloody) evidence of the presence of at least one goblin but unless he really sent Evan out to contact Maggie his only source would have been the Hyena’s hunting grounds and somehow I doubt Blake had the power or time left to bind any goblins. How would those help against an abstract demon anyway?
    I think time is the major factor here. Blake only had a few hours left for his attempt, that was not enough to do much recruiting.
    They could always check the distance and time traveled with Fell’s car. If it is more than necessary to reach the old factory, then it might be a clue that they forgot something they did before entering.

    1. the demon erasing all connections seems the most plausible explanation, it avoids paradoxes and the mind just fills in the blanks with whatever sounds likely to have happened or just forgetting details, kind of how people find an excuse to leave an area when a rune compels them to. however i do believe blake had allies with him in the fight, we saw the parts that weren’t eaten (like the blood spatter, and some body parts), there a many possible explanations for what those allies were (family friends, grateful victims of the hyena, goblins he managed to bind or were given to him by maggie, remnants of the knights, blake’s girlfriend and the reason he didn’t agree to the threesome, etc), but chances are we will never know for sure.
      the fact that the blake mentions setting the diagram on fire, while not mentioning how also supports the theory.

    2. Blake went out to the Hyena’s territory to find Evan’s body, but they started back in the Hyena’s territory. He could have picked up some of the goblin allies in that time frame.

    3. I’m mostly in agreement with your argument (barring that bit about a creator) except for your “blind spot” point. If that was the case, then Blake shouldn’t have seen the goblin bits and blood.

      Unless your point only counted while “Smith” was alive? That would be more plausible, I suppose. I wouldn’t have thought that it works like that, but since it apparently can eat something as intangible as sound…

      1. I imagine it working like this: There is a goblin, Blake knows it is there, he knows its name and he’s given it a task. Then the demon bites down and all the connections vanish. Blake now has no memory of the goblin, nothing connects him to it. But he can still recognize goblin body parts, he just doesn’t associate them with a being he knows.

          1. My point was “At this moment Blake wouldn’t see John Smith anymore, there would be a blind spot in his perception.” Clearly that’s not the case, because Blake could perceive the body parts. If the cutting allowed you to see the objects but not remember their significance, then the Knights should have still had people scheduled for that fateful weekend and just not know who the hell the names they jotted down were referring to.

            If the monster has a large mouth, it’s reasonable for the rest of the body to go, you know, inside of the mouth.

            1. Actually, I wasn’t disagreeing with you. I was disagreeing with Daemon because it sounded like he was suggesting that it was purely a breaking of connections with no oblivion at all, which doesn’t make much sense unless ErasUrr spat the goblin jawbone back out for no apparent reason.

            2. I was disagreeing with that, however. It may be possible for there to be some sort of…selective oblivion effect going on from this repeatedly-described-as-beast-like demon, but as I’ve said elsewhere, it really feels plausible for the jawbone to have simply fallen from the mouth while the rest of the body stays in.

              Hopefully we’ll find out soonish…

            3. Meh, I disagree. I don’t see how erasing all connections erases all records of a person. It seems silly that a record of a person (which probably has a very loose and weak connection to the person anyway) is suddenly erased by having that connection broken. It’s not that the connection-breaking flows to other connections, either, because if some scratches on paper disappear/lose connections, one Knight getting caught should have removed all of them. It targets a person directly and effectively removes all trace of them, and ErasUrr just uses contact with the person to do it (ErasUrr doesn’t surreptitiously steal records). Connection breaking simply doesn’t adequately explain the observed phenomenon to me.

            4. Hmm… but at the same time, how did Blake see a ‘hand’? That’s actually confusing for either perspective… so you can remember bits as long as you don’t recognize it as relating to the removed? Or the hand of the goblin didn’t contact the erasing part of ErasUrr? Maybe it has erasing saliva, and the hand didn’t touch it? Maybe the goblin thrust its hand all the way through the monster, and then the monster erased the arm and the rest of the goblin? Weird. I want more description for that bit.

          2. I reread the Knight’s chapter, they seem to think that the demon retcons, not just erases connections and memories. As in, makes actual changes to the past, not just the peoples memories. Or possibly that the memory changes cause reality alteration in the past.

            “Makes you wonder. Were we something different, before? Did we have more dreams? More aspirations? Did we lose important people that were supposed to prop us up, and settle into a different position when we tipped over, without them?”

            “As in, maybe you weren’t all a bunch of dabblers working within a small scope, before?” I asked.

            “I look back at the places we were investigating,” Shotgun said, “And they were big. A factory? An old farmstead? Far too big for our sad little group. Too big for a group twice our size.”

            “That thing in the factory fucked us up so bad we can never even fathom what it did to us,” [Shotgun] said, his voice low. “I think we had actual lives before.”

            1. No offense to the Knights, but I’m not really going to place a great deal of weight on the words of “a bunch of dabblers working within a small scope.”

          3. I’m rather surprised by your skepticism at the power of connections, given that that one Knight seemed to fall out of reality because too many of them were cut.

            Hopefully this disagreement is one of those things that Wildbow uses to inform him on what he needed to explain further in future chapters.

    4. I think it’s a little bigger than just breaking connections. For example, if it were just the connections being eaten, what about all their stuff? Not the items or implements they had on them, but their homes, cars, pets, furniture, etc. If it were just the connections that had been eaten, surely the Knights would have been able to piece together who they lost by what they left behind.

      1. If all memory and record of a person are erased, then how would you know what address the person lives at? Their house is just an abandoned house with stuff in it, and you’d have no reason to visit it anyways.

        If it’s someone who lived in your own home, you might be able to piece together a little bit from objects left behind, like what their hobbies might have been or what your relationship is, but that’s not the same as remembering a person.

        1. Their house is just an abandoned house with stuff in it, and you’d have no reason to visit it anyways.
          Unless you were, say, a member of a group that had several of its members ‘erased’. Then I imagine you’d be looking for abandoned houses.

          It might not be the same as remembering someone, but at least they’d know, roughly, how many they’d lost. When Blake was talking with them, they didn’t seem to have a clue

          1. How many abandoned houses do you think there are in a city the size of Toronto? How would they find them at all, considering that the houses wouldn’t look abandoned since they would have been maintained by their owners before erasure? For that matter what if they lived in an apartment?

            1. Ok, I’ll give you that one…but they’d at least have some records of the people who were eaten. If it were just the connections that broke, they’d be able to tell who they’d lost by, let’s say, the number of phone numbers that they don’t recognise on their phone.

            2. Unless the severed connections meant that others would ignore them entirely, like Blake’s bloody improvisations that kept all of those cops from noticing him while he was “escaping.”

        2. Yeah, but groups keep records. “One weekend, they found they had nothing scheduled.” The records disappeared, which doesn’t make much sense if it were just connection-breaking.

  40. I like the approach of having the demon’s power affect even the readers. But I think I found its weakness:

    I let go of the empty can, letting it fall somewhere near the thin trail of fire and burning demon.

    Looks like the gas can is about to get eaten.

    “I forgot to bring something to light the torch with,” I said.
    “No,” Rose said. “That doesn’t make sense.”
    “I don’t have anything.”
    “You lit the circle.”
    “I-” I stopped.
    “She ate it,” Rose said.

    Yep, but we still remember it, which mean that it’s obvious what Blake needs to do. He needs to ram the demon with a huge oil truck 🙂 Now we just need an Other that can relay messages from the readers back to Blake.

    1. ErasUrr doesn’t eat literally everything it can. The gas can wasn’t eaten, but that doesn’t imply that it couldn’t eat it. Otherwise we’d have to assume it couldn’t eat dirt, the floor, the walls, the stairs, the snow, or any debris or other objects in the room.

  41. I just realised: Pauz promised he wouldn’t go after Blake or those who are Blake’s, but right now, Others, practitioners and the Universe seem to consider Blake as “not himself”. Pauz may be free to attack Blake now.

    Also, what if Blake started gaining allies before the Pauz binding? It would make the prohibition against harming Blake’s allies far more efficient.

  42. Has anyone reread Pact yet? I may know who the 3 erased companions are. If you look through the archives, you’re not going to find any mention of Fenrir, Damgulp or Atie now. Ret Goned?

            1. Haha, nice. I’m thinking:
              +1 Pact point for telling the truth in a clever way
              -1 karma for deception

            2. That’s rather steep…if my maths are correct, that’s -41 Pacts.

              MATHS:
              Considering that 1 internet can get you 5.6 Pacts at the moment…
              1 – 7.5(5.6)
              1- 42
              -41 Pacts

            3. Hmm… while 1 Internet can get you 5.6 Pacts, it’s not an exchange. You can get 5.6 Pact for free just by having “teh Internets”. According to my research, “teh” is a unit roughly equivalent to 1, so as long as he has or can get an Internet, he can still get 5.6 Pact.

              If he doesn’t have an Internet, perhaps his staff could send him one, though it might take a while if the tubes are clogged. Senator Ted Stevens noted it can take up to half a week to receive an Internet.

  43. My guess is that The Knights, when Blake found them, were much more powerful practitioners than the readers see them as, and that Blake and two of their senior members, plus a goblin from Maggie, one of the knights, or from the Hyena ‘s victims went into the factory. The knights got eaten and the goblin too. The loss of the powerful knights, “retconned” the remaining knights into shadows of their former selves by erasing the elders and all their teachings. The loss of the goblin helper made Blake’s encounter with Pauz and the Hyena far less plausible sounding, but history mended the holes.

    Why they chose to go in at night? They really didn’t have a choice. Not with the time Blake spent in Jail. The more powerful knights probably helped him get out of jail too, providing assistance that Blake can no longer remember.

    All in all, I love this chapter 🙂

  44. My mind just jumped to one of the worst ideas possible. Do the shapechanging ritual from Briar Girl with the demon arm. That can’t go wrong, can it?

      1. Alright, I have sat and thought about it. I will endeavor to come up with equally incredible ideas for each chapter.

  45. Interesting that EarasUrr has so common weaknesses as light and fire. Now of course that didn’t make it a pushover. But those are still pretty common. Gentlemen we have a narrative balance here. At least in this case to make up for a great and awful power we have the common, and kinda not so great weaknesses. You see it in the older DC superhero stories for example. Superman has his Kryptonite. But that at least is uncommon. Then Green Lantern has a do anything ring… That is powerless against the color Yellow. And then we have the Martian Manhunter. Even more powers than Superman, offset by a immense weakness where fire is concerned.

    1. A, best name yet. Sid Cypher should get into naming characters. Especially Worm fanfic ones (mfw Tailor, God Empress Rose).

      B, we already saw this in a sense when she sacrificed parts of herself on the fire to pursue Rose. The tongue is just an extension, the guillotine maw is what’s important, so I guess tongue -> uric acid gloop.

  46. Next problem that comes to mind: how close will midnight be, when he finally ends the pursuit and returns to Fell? Angled light through window means there is much time.

    Blake needs to give his full effort to capture the three, and calling Fell at 10pm saying “Yo, I failed” doesn’t sound like full effort. Especially when Blake said he could challenge Ur– with so little energy and blood.

    “Let’s start from the initial deal my partner proposed. You would be bound until… shall we say five minutes after midnight, two nights from now, as a starting point?”

    I look forward to Fell holding Blake until midnight’s chime, and then Paws being freed while he’s traveling in the car.

    1. “Especially when Blake said he could challenge Ur- with so little energy and blood.”

      Problem with that: he had more help than we know. He lost three allies in the fight with ErasUrr, and presumably he thought those would be enough to tip the scales. Now that he’s exhausted, bloodless, essence scattered, AND three allies down, and no longer has a source of light or fire, there is no reason to go back into the fight.

      You bring up a terrifying point, though: a group of people intent on attacking this demon, who suffer losses and are driven out, might be convinced to go back in because they see themselves as no worse for the wear. And then they are promptly finished off.

    2. Would Fell do that, thought? He doesn’t want to see this thing bound-he was passively resisting letting Blake go after it as much as he could last chapter. Unless he receives direct orders from Conquest, I think he might just go with the flow.

  47. Assuming that blake had the allies the whole time and we didnt read about them because they never existed it removes a lot of tension from this chapter. We know blake, rose, and evan all make it out. Of course following that line of logic there is no hope that blake can use this demon for personal gain.

  48. My brother’s thoughts jumped to a better place than mine. He jumped to someone who specializes in torching buildings, Eye of the Storm.

  49. Ok so we basically know pauz will get loose and try to influence conquest. But here’s what i’m wondering if Pauz influence reversed Blake and Rose’s connection could he do the same to conquest? As in could Pauz turn Conquest into a being sworn to serve his own servents? I mean i know he’s godlike whatever that means but Blake thinks of him as the man behind the curtain so is it possible he is weak enough for that to happen? Because if so conquest would be an awesome familier for rose.

    1. Well Conquest is what he is. That’s why he’s such an asshole. He can’t just take a place over. He has to utterly dominate it. He can’t just have someones alliegence. He has to compleatly crush them, and force them to be his slaves. He has to make it so someone else looses out when he wins. Can’t be the conquerer if you serve another, can you?

        1. Ah but the General is human. Conquest is an incarnation. Back when Blake is first going to meet Conquest they touch on it. They state the normally conquerers become something else, like rulers, or they rebuild what they conquer, but that Conquest due to his nature cannot.

          1. we are also talking about the effect the imp Pauz would have on such an entity. and the general effect Pauz has is to reverse the natural order of things. so if you’re arguing that his effect wouldn’t make conquest subservient then what effect would you expect to come about instead?

            1. I don’t really know. But making Conquest tottally subservient is making him the oppisate of his very nature. And Pauz doesn’t reverse everything. He doesn’t turn carnivores into herbivores. He twists and corrupts the order of things, he doesn’t make left right and right left.

      1. I’ve been thinking about this Conquest obviously enjoys playing the conqueror but the concept of conquest encompasses both conqueror and conquered. If Conquest truly does embody conquest then he embodies both aspects of it and I wouldn’t be surprised if he rolls over once defeated.

  50. Ok, I don’t think Blake is as fucked as he thinks he is. He’s got a limb. He’s got a piece of the thing, and this works into his other plans.

    He needs to get the Hyena unbound to strengthen Conquest. The Hyena is very much Conquest’s type of creature – it maims things, bites off a piece of them to leave them suffering, and they are bound to it and can’t go far from it. It conquers its victims by holding a piece of them.

    If Blake can get to Conquest with enough time before midnight, he needs to convince Conquest to unbind the Hyena. Conquest has stated he should be able to control anything that has been bound before, so he should be able to control the Hyena. Feed the severed limb to the Hyena, and this will link ErasUrrr to it. Conquest should be able to use that link to yank her into his realm so Blake can bind it. Conquest should be pleased since this will likely strengthen him as an act of conquest, Blake fully meets his obligations, and his plan to strengthen Conquest before Pauz gets loose is implemented.

    1. But even then, he’s fucked. Remember, Conquest already gets a boost against things that have already been bound. Blake could very easily go too far the other way and give more power to Conquest than necessary.

      1. He’s MAYBE fucked then IF he gives too much power to Conquest, but things are definitively fucked if he does nothing and Pauz has too easy of a time finding a weakness. He has to take a risk of some kind to strengthen Conquest.

          1. Yeah, we’re at the point where we’re looking at legitimate risk of demons getting control over a Lord of a City, and therefore enough power to cause immense civilian casualties. But if Conquest gets them like he wants, then he’ll use them in an organized fashion to cause a similar amount, if not more.

            The terrifying thing is that what Blake’s trying to play is, in lieu of just killing himself, probably the best chance of this ending without massive amounts of people dead or twisted beyond repair.

            1. What’s a highly fiddly, dangerous, and improperly-directed game without obscenely high stakes anyway?

    2. “Feed the severed limb to the Hyena, and this will link ErasUrrr to it. ”

      I like this idea – leverage the abilities of a bound Other to control an unbound one.

          1. I think if their powers came into conflict like that, either the stronger one would win or they would short out (like with Clockblocker/The Siberian).

    3. Feed ErasUrr’s severed limb to the Hyena. That’s bloody brilliant.

      Hopefully the body part doesn’t have to be attached to the creature for the Hyena’s effect to take hold, and that the piece still counts as ErasUrr’s own body what with all the assimilation it’s been doing.

      But if it works, it’d be a good way to turn a potential loss into an unexpected victory.

  51. The question I’m not coming up with an answer for is, how can the story continue from here in a consistent way? There are some possible interpretations of what happened, which have different implications, but none of them result in the story progressing along the same lines that it has been.

    If Blake believes he’s lost significant resources, then he can’t trust his memories of how things happened. Everything he’s learned about his opponents and their capabilities is suspect, because history needed to contrive a way for him to win even if he wouldn’t have without the resources he now lacks. More importantly, he can’t trust his own abilities, since the impact of all of his remaining resources would be overemphasized in his memories.

    1. Right. In other words, the universe has been taking it easy on Blake so far, and now the gloves come off. It would strain plausibility, if this weren’t Wildbow.

            1. I’m not sure you can necessarily compare the two situations.

              Molly barricaded herself in the house and only learned some defensive magic. Once she had to leave the safety of the house and actually face something, she immediately died.

              Blake has consistently been facing enemies for 2 weeks and coming out ok not horribly murdered. Blake is a survivor.

              After this amount of time, a (tiny) bit of the family’s bad karma should be used up. There’s still a lot, but less nevertheless.

            2. That’s actually a very good point. Molly stayed most of the time in the house. Were here enemies going easier on her, or was she making scary deals with the lawyers in order to achieve that? And what happened that the Behaims and Duchamps are going harder on Blake?

              Maybe it was Blake’s attitude, they might have seen him as a hazard.

            3. During the infiltration, Laird mentions that Blake is more proactive than Molly and requires a different approach to handle.

            4. Blake fought back. Serously, I think that’s all their is to it. Look at Laird’s reaction to the letter. He was outraged about it, and immediatly declared that Blake wouldn’t be as restrained as his grandmother. He wasn’t going to let them push him around then meekly die like he was supposed to.

  52. Nother random theory. The demon has stayed inside the abandond building that building is covered in grafiti and random plant growth. grafiti is random and this grafiti seems to ignore comon practice by overlapping where as blake thought grafiti artists wouldn’t do that. The grafiti and plant growth intentionally or not are acting as an abstract binding which is a like binding. If i remember corectly a like binding is less likely to upset the demon maybe even calm it. Blake used structured diagrams, and the demons response was definatly violant. So maybe this is one of those throw the txtbook out the window cases where u need to ignore the normal procedure. That said i also have one big concern/ flaw in my theory the door to the warehouse is propped open by a board befor and after the attempted binding. So if i were correct about needing an abstract binding that would beg the question why hasn’t the demon taken advantage of the whole in the exit? And will it do so now?

    1. The building is its lair. The propped-open door is the equivalent of bait for the trap. Humans are supposed to think “Oh, look. An easy way in.”

    2. Not related to the current chapter, but I’ve come up with an off the wall idea for Blake’s implement. One of the standard implements listed in Implementum is the Tome. I think most of us might think of a spell book for this type of implement, where the practitioner gets some kind of boost to using the spells or types of spells in the tome. But there are other kinds of tomes, and there is one in particular relevant to Blake. So, continuing on with the exercises in Implementum…

      The Tome: Black Lamb’s Blood

      The Declarative. This is a diabolist’s tome, and so the practitioner would be easily identified as a diabolist. Given the contents, it could declare that the user is willing to embrace change, has a desire to do what is good and Right, and is prepared to make sacrifices to meet those goals.

      The Authoritative. This is a tome containing propaganda. It is a tome that uses the power of words to sway the thoughts of others, and it could be inferred that the wielder would be able to use that power. The tome itself is heavy, so this may also lend metaphorical weight to the practitioner’s words.

      Socio-cultural. This tome is about diabolists. Diabolists as individuals, as a community, as they relate to other practitioners and how they relate to the world in general. It also relates to changing those relationships.

      1. Good idea, but you gotta take in account the practical aspect of carrying the thing with you all the time, even in a fight.
        How about a Chain?

        Wrapped around an arm, it is easy to conceal and carry.
        Coiled, it is defensive; Stretched and whipping, it is offensive.

        The Declarative: The diabolist binds and is being bound, by contracts and convictions.
        The Authoritative: The chain is a versatile tool, with durability and weight, but also flexibility. It constricts and punishes, limits and provides security, insurance.
        Socio-cultural: The practitioner is connected to the world in a rather harsh way and has to make the best of it.

        1. He could have a pack to carry it. Also, I don’t think there’s any rule that says you have to carry around your implement all the time. There’s obvious advantages to it, but it’s conceivable that you could have a large, stationary implement.

          As for the chain, as with the Hyena the binding element is a loose binding. In the past I have suggested shackles as an implement to focus on binding and imprisonment.

          1. “When you read the second chapter and imagined the type of individual who might wield a stone as an implement, did you think of […] someone stupid? Certainly possible, if the stone is so heavy it cannot be readily carried, and the practitioner still chose it.” (2.x)

            The chain/shackle idea certainly seems interesting. It might be something yet further out in left field, however.

        2. Get a slim book coughBlack Lamb’s Bloodcough and put it in one of those iPad cases. Or put it in a laptop case. Look — Blake has had, and likely will continue to have, trouble with the police for some time. He can’t go walking around with a chain wrapped around his arm and concealed beneath a coat of some kind.

          1. I’m not sure the police would find a conceled book on demons that much less suspicious than a chain. Anyways it seems that their might be some sort of perception filter going one for things like familiars and implements.

            1. I don’t think there is a perception filter specifically for implements and Familiars. The non-awakened can see them and Others. Blake was able to see Laird’s inplement and Briar Girl’s familiar. Blake saw some inhuman looking others before awakening and Tiffany saw The Drunk’s bacchae and Others. Maggie saw goblins. Even the police saw Evan in bird form.

              The mundane can’t, however see spirits, ghosts and the like. I guess if someone connected their Familiar and Inplement to something like that, it might not be noticed.

            2. Not a full on don’t see it at all filter, but a soft one. The other cops reacted a lot less to Blake taking a bird into his cell with him than they should have.

            3. There may be a soft filter. I think the case at the police station may have been more because the universe tries to keep practitioner and Familiar/Inplement together. Or it could be a side effect of the ret gone. Or a combination of all 3.

            4. “The other cops reacted a lot less to Blake taking a bird into his cell with him than they should have.”

              This has already been somewhat explained – the connection between practitioner and familiar is so strong that non-practitioners have a hard time breaking it. Look back at the case study of Lacy and Vic. In spite of eating someone, Vic couldn’t be sent to prison unless Lacy was also sent to prison because the bond acts as a leash. Note that when Blake was put in his cell one officer actually said “You keep that bird here” – it’s similar to how Duncan linked Blake to the interrogation room to keep him there in that it makes normal people think at some level “this bird belongs with him, must act keep it that way”.

          2. He walked around with a locket and a chain wrapped around his hand for quite a while. I think just the chain will be manageable.

            Nobody said it had to be a big iron shackle.

            1. Too bad Blake isn’t into Norse Mythology. He could use a ribbon. Like the one that bound Fenir.

            2. The locket chain was a small chain, the kind you’d have for a locket or necklace. Smaller chains have different symbolism than larger ones – they are more ornamental than utility focused. That would affect what the implement itself does, and I don’t think a small chain like that would be very binding focused.

    3. But the graffiti observation is interesting. Plants growing in an abandoned building I get, but how did so many graffiti artists get there without getting retconsumed? Graffiti needs light to work with, so that somewhat explains why the graffiti artists didn’t get eaten, but there was still an awful lot of tagging both inside and out. Possibilities:

      ErasUrrr just moved in / only recently became active. This is not what others have been telling Blake.

      ErasUrrr is not active during the day or is only infrequently active (or both). Possible.

      But there is a more interesting possibility (though admittedly less likely): the graffiti was created or encouraged by ErasUrrr. So it either didn’t retconsume graffiti artists or it did some of the work itself. Blake did observe that Barbatorem, who is presumably of the same choir, was bound by carefully ordered diagrams, so perhaps the opposite is pleasing to ErasUrrr, equivalent to decorating or creating a nest.

      Another weird possibility, even less likely (but hard to disprove): The factory was originally the location of an awakened gang that tagged the building. And their scribbles and magic dabbling eventually turned the factory into the equivalent of a large summoning circle, with very, very bad results.

      1. you know your last possibility might not be so far fetched. since the knights don’t remember anything about the members they lost (possibly including one or both of the non goblin entities that just died) it’s possible that one or several of their members who had a thing for graffiti, decided to set up shop in the building and somehow got the attention of the ErasUrrr.

        the somehow part has my imagination working overtime now though, what if one of the nights was trying to be a diabolist and messed up? his budy sees it happen and calls for backup getting more people killed? or the knights diabolist escapes and brings backup getting more people, and possibly himself, killed? the knights diabolist escapes twice agrees to help Blake and finally runs out of luck?

        so many possibilities. really hope the next interlude provides some answers.

  53. I think the battle is not done yet. Atleast for the sake of his lost friends/allies/loaned slaves he might go in and try binding the demon. There is an off chance that collapsing the roof of the factory will bring in a whole lot of light into the room. I still think there is a chance that Blake will go in with the bound demon as that is the only chance he has to make allies without being the lone fighter against conquest.

    1. If Blake remains largely a free agent, he can hardly /not/ go after that demon. He knows it’s weakness (fire) and is bound to try and take out the evils of the world.

      Given choice and opportunity, he is going to go back in.

      1. That’s a stupid way to handle it. Don’t go back in. Strip away the building until it has no place left to hide.

  54. What if ErasUrrr is wrongly categorized as a demon of darkness and is a demon from the choir of madness or something like that, thus his power is to make you believe you lost something and immerse you in despair and insecurity?

    1. I was thinking about something like that earlier, actually, but didn’t know how to put it succinctly. The main problems I see with it are the girlfriend and lost foot, the size of the areas the Knights were exploring, and everyone being fairly sure it’s an existence-eraser.

      I could see everyone else getting information from the Knights about ErasUrr, and the Knights being fooled by their madness. However, it seems odd that it would give them false records of what they were searching before and a missing foot and girlfriend. Also, coordinating all of their false perceptions of loss about these things would be rather difficult, especially after they leave ErasUrr’s domain.

  55. Rose got a little dose of reality in this chapter. Before, she had the possibility of dying due to Blake’s death, but that doesn’t have the same “in your face” feel as having something nightmarish come after you directly. ErasUrrr entering the mirror realms and going after her must have been quite a shock. Now, will this make her more sympathetic to Blake’s problems or will this make her push even harder for him to avoid doing anything?

  56. Okay so here’s my plan. Either Blake or Rose (probably Rose, she seems to have maxed out INT as a trade-off for having virtually no DEX, CON or STR scores) must take a few ranks in Knowledge (Architecture). Then Blake takes a sledgehammer and punches a few holes in the factory walls that are not load-bearing, and installs large mirrors to channel the sunlight directly inside and in such a way that the light creates a binding circle.

    1. There was an older story about a creature that hated light but lived in a cloudy region and created its own fog around it as protection. The hero was motivated to beat it when it ate his sister. So he conquered lands near it and set up a bunch of mirrors to bring the light in and trap it in a box of light. I swear it was called “Phog Runner” but searches on those terms do not show results.

      As far as counters, I was thinking magnesium metal or flares – fire and light together. Of course, you would need a lot of them. But binding in a circle of magnesium metal would at least be nicely symbolic.

      Far easier, ingredient-wise: home-made thermite. Go to a junkyard and get them to let you collect rust by scraping it off things (many other sources exist, that’s just the most concentrated). Grab a bunch of aluminum cans and shred them – heavy duty shears work if you are patient. The ingredients are not expensive and are readily available, so patience, time, and effort can net you a lot of it. You do need a fairly hot fire to start it, though. Symbolically, starting the initial reaction with a solar furnace would be nice and theoretically possible, but probably impractical.

      But if budget and availability were no object? The “nuke it from orbit” quote comes to mind. That thing needs to go away.

      1. Even easier option: hydrocarbon-resistant pressure sprayer and your flammable liquid and igniter of choice. Dangerous as hell, since the fire can get on you or melt your container, but portable, potent, fast to implement, and fairly cheap.

      2. You say that now, after seeing the incident from Blake’s POV. But this thing, and things like it, have been being used by good diabolists for centuries to erase dangerous demons. It was mentioned in Black Lamb’s Blood…once.

        1. The closest I found to what you are talking about is:

          “To start a war that included gods, incarnations and spirits, and make the deaths that resulted true deaths, ones that left the world bereft of those forces and the structure they gave to our reality.”

          That wasn’t exactly erasure so much as true death. Was an equivalent power to erasure mentioned in Black Lamb’s Blood?

          1. Yes, but it turns out that if you write down “we are going to weaken the city-destroying monster until it can be fed to ErasUrr” and then it actually works, well, wildbow only shows us the final version.

      1. But then we run into the cat problem again.

        Subbak April 20, 2014 at 11:59 pm
        Ah, but if you make a circle out of lasers you risk attracting every cat familiar in the neighbourhood and they would just ruin it….

  57. “to tell me that I was looking at was a part of the demon”
    Should probably be: “that what I was looking” or just removing the second “was”.

  58. Alright, so I am not certain that this logic holds up, but if it does than Blake and Rose might have actually succeeded on some level in this chapter. So one of the defining characteristics of an abstract demon like EraseUrr is that it exists fully within anything that represents it, which is why it can move through reflections, into eyes and in Rose’s visage realm. If this is the case, then isn’t the arm that Blake grabbed technically the entire demon on some level? Could they not bind the arm and trap the entire creature?

    1. “it exists fully within anything that represents it”

      I interpret that to mean “can exist within anything that completely represents it.” So it has a choice and can only fully exist in something that represented all of it. If Blake had seen the whole thing, with him being already an empty shell…

      But there is another aspect. Barbatorem had a consistent aspect that manifested as a physical object – its shears. In past times it was other weapons, but there was always a cutting implement at the sites it appeared at. ErasUrrr might have the same thing – a focal point that it can’t or won’t fail to manifest, like the point that Rose said she could sense.

  59. Considering what Blake went through there and how lucky he was to get out with the help of Rose and Evan, you now get a better idea of what the Knights faced. We’re back to the same thing the Knights wondered about: just how many people did they have with them when they went in there?

  60. Comments:
    – Blake’s ‘I mustn’t die’ monologue is so ironic given that he himself decided to go on this suicide mission. And despite advice to the contrary! Not to speak of common sense!
    – I expected Rose to speak more after her line ‘Demon, I compel you to tell me your name!’. What was she doing while Blake struggled with staying alive, until she got caught and rescued?
    – Being unable to look at some of these demons is an interesting drawback. It makes them more mysterious, too, since one can’t see them properly.
    – Given that Blake lost three allies and can’t even remember them…did he have help from allies in his previous encounters (with Pauz and the Hyena) and just forgot them? That would be…interesting. And bizarre.
    – I’m glad that, for once, Blake’s foolhardiness didn’t work out. Though I’m too confused by the demon’s ability – maybe what appeared as foolhardiness in the story just seemed so because Blake & co had more allies and support and these just disappeared when the demon ate them and eliminated their existances?
    – If Rose’s behavior in the story so far is so passive and lackluster because part of her got eaten by the demon (a comment above brilliantly suggested something like that), I don’t know what to say. On the one hand, that would be utterly brilliant writing from the perspective of the plot. (Kind of reminds me of the way Imp was written in Worm, actually.) On the other hand, the resulting behavior is still way too passive.

    Possibly my favorite line this chapter: (I’ve taken notice and will no longer copy & paste walls of great lines):
    – “You think mom and dad will miss you, Rose?”“…The fake mom and dad from fake memories?”“Yeah.”

    1. Addendum:
      Now that I think about it, this hypothesis – that Blake had help from allies for a bigger portion of the story, than just here – might allow for some actual predictions: If his allies were just erased and his story made to fit, he might, in the future, act less foolhardy – take less risks, go on less suicide missions without sufficient preparation, and so on. Because he never originally did – some of his suicide missions were less like suicide missions before his allies were erased.
      I don’t find this outcome of a more risk-averse Blake particularly likely, though.

      Also, why can Blake & co remember what they used to try and bind the demon? Shouldn’t they be unable to remember? Or was it just that the demon can’t eat circles and so that’s practically the only thing they remember using against it?

      1. “I don’t find this outcome of a more risk-averse Blake particularly likely, though.”

        Also, as other commenters have said before: Wildbow protagonist. When is he ever going to actually be completely prepared and fight something equal to or less than his weight class? Give him a couple more allies and resources and he would be facing down a Conquest at the height of its power.

    2. Hmm… maybe Rose was ordering their allies around. She is the voice, after all.

      I don’t think this was nearly as much of a suicide mission before they entered, so I don’t think Blake’s perspective was as amusing as it might have seemed. Also, his point is still valid: “The others relied on me to be some kind of pillar that fixed them in the world.” Also, I find the reference to “the others” interesting for only two people…

  61. Something Blake hasn’t thought of: Rose is in real danger of being forsworn. She repeatedly said she’d order the demon nine times to say its name, and only got through five. Maybe she did the rest to distract it while Blake went for the door, but maybe she didn’t.

    Well, they were going to have to face it again anyway, and she never said when she’d say the rest of them.

    1. The demon technically named itself, and her statement that she’d name it was conditional on it not doing so. She’s in no danger.

      1. “Demon, I compel you to tell me your name! Tell me, or I will claim the right to name you! I will repeat myself thrice times thrice. Prove your weakness by refusing to provide an answer, and I will prove my strength by giving it!”

        She’s off the hook for naming it, assuming its trick worked, but the “I will repeat myself” bit isn’t explicitly conditional. It’s pretty forcefully indicative. If it comes down to intent versus literal words, she’s in trouble.

        1. I think it’s still ok because in this case the sentences strung together make sense as a singular statement of intent.

          1. And those clearly work because Blake has saved his rear end from lying via qualifiers in the next sentence before, a number of times. I remember, because I thought that it shouldn’t work like that, but apparently it does.

        2. Technically speaking, the ordeal isn’t over yet. She still has a chance to repeat herself a few more times when they next encounter ErasUrrr.

    2. Every kid knows that saying “I will do” something doesn’t mean you ever have to actually do it. It means that you will, at some point, in the future, far, far away. “Unload the dishwasher!” “I will, Mom…”

    1. Nope, wasn’t me. And I’m not Pencil Monkey. For one thing, I’m terrible at drawing stuff. Not a good singer either. My writing could be better. Not the best at public speaking, or even over a telephone. No good at fashion or style.

      Pretty much the only thing I’m good at is existing and killing stuff.

      Which is a shame, because even though they had their ups and their downs, I do miss the days when I was good at masturbation.

    2. Well, we still remember him, so he didn’t have an accidental meeting with ErasUrrr. 😉

      But seriously, I think he took a break before.

  62. OK! Awesome chapter, and the eaten allies make some of the things bugging me in the last few chapters much more plausible. I definitely believe one or more of the Knights decided to help Blake. I haven’t gone back to fact-check, but here are my reasons:

    1) When Blake first meets the Knights, the situation goes from life-threatening “you have 3 seconds to live” to “oh, let me teach you some runes and oh HERE! Take my awesome shotgun”. This situation makes more sense if at least one of the group opted to go with Blake and helped convince the others to contribute.
    2) That twig/stick that serendipitously lodged itself in the chain around the Hyena’s neck was probably lodged there by an ally.
    3) I don’t recall Blake complaining about his finger(s) when he gets handcuffed. It really bugged me that he was never inconvenienced by his broken/savaged finger(s) during his incarceration. So, this Knight must have been some type of healer that fixed Blake’s finger after they bound the Hyena and before Blake returned to the woods to collect Evan.
    4) Blake calls out to the Knights in desperation while incarcerated. They actually show up(!) AND give him an alibi. I recall Blake wondering how this Knight could LIE for him, giving him an alibi. It wasn’t a lie, but this Knight WAS with him tracking and trapping the Hyena.
    5) Blake goes from barely escaping by jumping out of the window (how high was it, third floor?) after losing a LOT of blood, to feeling up to tackling a full-on demon within a couple of hours or so. His cuts on his arms are not mentioned again, but he wouldn’t be able to scratch his bum without hurting his finger(s) and reopening those cuts within a couple of hours of leaving the police station. Again, he must have gotten some sort of healing that closed his wounds and gave him a minor boost to his constitution/energy levels.
    6) During the planning/equipping phase, Blake stuffs a blanket in his pocket because “why not?” That was out of character. More likely, someone else had a plan for the blanket, but Blake forgot what it was as soon as they got eaten and he just improvised.

    I’m sure there are several other clues, these are just the ones that I’d been trying to overlook. 🙂

    1. Oh. Wow, losing a healer would be huge, and would definitely explain why Blake didn’t consider his physical condition to be a major factor in challenging the null demon.

  63. Rose only needed to challenge the demon if it hadnt answered.

    Do you think Blake would keep Urrr and the Hyena (and Pauz if he cant destroy it)? His grandmother has that barber thing bound, and that thing is dagerous. This Urrr demon seems like it could be a good tool to threaten the Behaims and Duchamps with. They care about their legacy. But I suppose its a dangerous demon to use and would probably add to his karmic debt. I mean, would Blake even remember using this demon on his enemies? Would he end up using it over and over without realizing it?

    1. That could get out of control quickly. He’d have to make a note stating when he intended to use Urrr- without leaving enough details for her power to wipe it, and hope that it wasn’t just past him trying to mess with future him.

  64. Alright- as far as guessing who the allies could have possibly been-

    Blake has been tailed by briar girl for a long time now, since he was on his way to Pauz. So it’s likely she sent some spies to either watch or observe him. They MIGHT have been there to help him not die so she could get the land he promised her, but either way- some of her companions have the best reason for being there at that time. (she had a multitude of different kinds of companions dwelling in that forest with her- one might have been a goblin. Blake might have even seen this goblin, but it no longer exists. And yeah, she could have also told goblin-queen and had her send some help too)

    The best part? is that if I’m right (or close), that Briar girl doesn’t remember sending failed help. So she’ll send more to observe or help him in his battle with Conquest.

    1. Well Briar Girl sure as hell won’t want Blake to have to fulfill his deal with Pauz. The part where Pauz gets some of the land to bind himself to the world. I’m damn sure she wouldn’t enjoy having an animal corrupting demon for a neighbor.

      1. The land penalty clause is no longer in play. Blake met all his obligations to avoid that penalty – he gave the bound Pauz to Conquest with no intent to immediately reclaim him and he took reasonable action to ensure that Conquest would keep Pauz.

  65. If something gets eaten, it ceases to exist backwards through time, but does it cease to exist back through all times? Plural emphasis.
    If that holds water, any place there’s time reversals or loops, there’s a chance threads of a victim’s being remain that weren’t slurped up like spectral spaghetti, since they exist not technically before, but aside.
    Just musings.

    1. It seems many people think so, but it’s clearly not retroactive. The guillotine teeth sever connections, but not past deeds. No grandfather’s paradox:
      – if the lighter was retroactively destroyed, Blake couldn’t have started his first blazing circle, and the fight would have been over in a couple minutes.
      – the goblin’s jaw hit the floor. It was still real. Blake just couldn’t pinpoint what it was or why, because of the lack of connections. Same with the blood.

      So far, bad ends of encountering ErasUrre include:
      – surviving, but losing yourself through the cracks of the world because your self is suddenly bereft of connections keeping it afloat
      – escaping, but dying from the very real wound(s) she inflicted
      – being dinner

      1. I’ll rephrase.
        The memory of a thing is slurped up along with it, including connections. Would those memories and connections still exist in an alternate, disjointed time loop? Could somebody scry the alternate past and infer who or what a victim was by seeing where those alternate connections lead, or fail to lead? Or worst case, does ErasUrr snack on the connections that would split off to nearby similar timelines where you otherwise weren’t demonchow and leave those alternate victims dangling without connections, liable to fall through the cracks?

    2. Things erased only cease to exist in memory. The actual stuff done in history still happened, but that which is erased is not remembered – Blake started a circle of fire, but the lighter or matches he used to start it are eaten so he doesn’t actually remember starting the fire.

  66. “Supposed to,” Rose murmured. “But she can best me in a contest of her choosing, to claim the right to keep the name a secret. This is kind of a last ditch thing.”

    This suggests that they came in with other plans. Rose depending on a “last ditch kind of thing” is rather odd given her personality. Given her reservation on facing this threat it seems unlikely she would agree without additional means. If this is the case then it seems likely that the other now missing allies were the ones who brought the other options or made it possible.

    1. I just thought that it meant that she couldn’t find anything better in the limited period of time that she had /shrug

    2. Weird left-field idea: They actually tried other plans, but can’t remember doing so because ErasUrrr ate the plans.

      I wonder what she can’t eat? I mean, if she can eat her own name, can she eat concepts, too? I imagine she could attack anything with “connections” tied to it…

        1. We also know it doesn’t eat the plants growing at the spots in the factory that get sunlight, and it didn’t eat the circle made from branches. My guess on that is that it can’t eat them due to them being something that absorbs sunlight, but they aren’t opposite enough of it to stop it either.

          1. So essentially, Blake needs to channel his inner Teddy Roosevelt. He just has to sneak close and whack the creature into submission with a big wooden stick.

      1. I don’t think ErasUrr was eating the concept of it’s name. It was eating the sound of it’s name. Which is still pretty scary if you think about it.

  67. So, in non ErasUrrr discussion. . .

    It seems that Blake’s bird motif is confirmed. I think he should learn to do that thing characters sometimes do in fiction. The thing where, when they have to leave quickly or dramatically, they turn into a flock of birds(or bats and the like) and fly away. This would work for Blake both practically and thematically, assuming such a thing is possible in the Pactverse. Perhaps Evan can even help out with it.

    1. That would be cool. Except the only beings I can think of doing that are villains. I am even playing a game now where minor demons show up as clouds of birds and then coalesce. Any heros with that ability?

      1. Isn’t Blake considered a villain in universe? I’d even dare to say that if this story were written from someone else’s perspective, Blake would be the obviously evil guy the hero should stay wary of.

        Blake:
        1) comes from an assumed evil background

        2) introduced himself to everyone by basically threatening an end boss level demon

        3) has made multiple deals with demonic entities

        4) probably looks evil. Pale, washed out, generally covered in blood (which may or may not be his own), carries concealed bladed weapons. . .

        5) is currently collecting seemingly evil Others

        6) used the soul of a child as his familiar

        7) Beat a woman like faerie to unconsciousness with a rusty pipe

        8) stole the identity of a child to infiltrate an enemy’s home

        And probably more. Blake shouldn’t limit his skills to ones that “villains” don’t generally use.

        1. That’s why I generally give most people in the universe a pass on opposing Blake. Even the Behaims are perfectly believable, even with their refusal to consider what Blake is saying. Not only is he a noob who knows next to nothing about this world, I’m sure that at least some knowledge corrupts in the practitioner world, and the kind of knowledge Blake is privy seems to be exactly that kind of knowledge. Not to mention he’s been given access to some seriously huge hammers… the more he learns about the world, the more competent he will be, so they want to nip that in the bud before he can actually become a big threat. The Behaims are smug, but many people are like that when they think they’re doing the right thing and they see their plan coming together.

          1. However, most people don’t know the full depth and breadth of Blake’s crimes, and half of those would not have occurred had the Behaims and Duchamps left him the f**k alone. Think about it: If Laird Behaim had not frittered away Blake’s trust with the Faerie ambush, Blake would have been less likely to start with the ill-advised Apple of Discord ploy. (He probably would have anyway rolls eyes, but that’s beside the point) If Laird Behaim had not warned Blake of his circle’s plan with the time-stop, Blake would not have thought to use the kid’s form to infiltrate. If Joanna had not sent Letita to act as hitwoman, Blake would not have resorted to beating her with a rusty pipe. If Sandra had not taken steps to keep Blake in Toronto, he would not be collecting evil Others, which would have left Duncan with no excuse.

            The rest is appearance (and anyone who is aware of glamour should be very doubtful of appearances by default) and “the sins of the fathers.”

            It’s like everyone in Jacob’s Bell has no real idea how to defuse a diabolist. Or how to make friends.

            1. But all these things do is turn Blake into a sympathetic villain. Now I’m not saying Blake hasn’t been justified. I like Blake. I think most of us do. My post had to do with appearance.

              All I’m saying is, in universe, Blake would give the impression of a evil or a villain to onlookers. Even if we consider that Blake didn’t strike first, his actual actions and looks appear evil.

              We have the story from his perspective. We know (some of) his background as well as his thoughts and feelings. We know that Blake isn’t a bad person. A practitioner hearing truthful reports (not even slanted or stretching the truth. Just the events as they happened) about him, could easily draw another conclusion.

              And just some food for thought: It’s only in this arc that Blake really starts to shift from victim to hero. Before he was just trying to survive. Now he has a new conviction. He wants to defeat evils.

          2. “Blake shouldn’t limit his skills to ones that “villains” don’t generally use.” Best and more important line of the post.

            @Dudeman: Maybe for some of it, but the fact that they don’t even try to convince the Thorburns to swear oaths that would forswear them should they so much as start to summon darker things disqualifies most of those in Jacob’s Bell in my eyes. They’re doing it for power, clear and simple.

      2. Alice in Alice: Madness Returns could turn into a cloud of butterflies.

        Or maybe instead of turning into birds, Blake could turn into feathers?

    2. Hey, Blake has a bird theme and roosters are technically birds right?

      Get a lot of roosters
      Have them all participate in a tourney style deathmatch.
      Eat the winner and absorb its power. Symbolically.

      Actually, nevermind. This sounds like it’d summon something unpleasant.

  68. Honestly I don’t think most commenters are on to much with the speculating over allies yet. Neither am I, but a lot of people seem to think they have something when it just looks like air to me.

    If people actually want answers they need to go over the last few chapters looking for gaps, with particular emphasis on the dialogue bit of this one. i.e. early in this chapter the dialogue feels a little stilted when Blake’s talking about his birds, odd pauses, Blake explaining things he probably didn’t have to. I explained them away the first time through, but I’m fairly certain there was someone else with them now.
    The mystery Knight from the first time loop is also a very good candidate for being among the disappeared, since Blake didn’t know who she was when he noticed her, never actually saw her, and the erasure might have been thrown off a bit by the time looping.
    Briar Girl’s spies are also a good bet. There’s nothing saying the 3 who got erased actually were allies, and we know at least one of them was unhelpfully outside/next to the window.

    I find it unlikely large parts of Blake’s timeline were blanked out, making it unlikely he got allies from the Hyena’s following.
    I find it unlikely he really had allies to begin with, inexplicably foolhardy behavior or no.

  69. Research Notes:
    -At the end of the last chapter Rose asked if ‘you’ could make a torch. This isn’t explicitly Blake. Blake also never explicitly states that he made the torch.

    -“Only to me I guess” seems like an early cutoff to that exchange, leaves room for someone else to have interjected

    -seems about the same for the signals thing, doesn’t make a ton of sense for that conversation to only have been between the 3 of them, especially considering how tightly connected they are

    -the moonlight diagram was meant to be clearer, might even have been, the folks stationed at the other windows were probably meant to contribute

    :will continue posting as I find things

    1. It’s not actually horror, though, is it? If I recall correctly, “Face” would be the horror one and Pact is modern\urban supernatural.

      1. I find myself wondering if Wildbow has ever read Dennis Wheatley’s books, especially, the Devil Rides out. I can just see Blake under the tutelage of the Duc de Richelieu.

      2. Some things don’t adhere ridgedly to one Genre or the other. Some blend them, and are far stronger than others. I actually am not too fond of straight horror, but I like to see it’s elements mixed in with other things. Both Pact and Worm have some excellent horror elements in them. It’s something that really adds to them.

        1. which was true with Dennis Wheatley’s Gregory Sallust series which mixed Espionage with some supernatural,.

      3. Wildbow’s sensibilities seem to run towards horror. So far it seems to be ann integral element in everything he’s written, regardless of ostensible genre.

        Although it should be noted that an urban fantasy/supernatural story with a main protagonist who’s a diabolist was always going to have horrific aspects to it. It’s roughly the same sort of genre as Constantine or Supernatural…

  70. Registering my guess now. Ourobouros. (the snake that devours its own tail) It seems too powerful for a minor demon, but in my opinion this demon is hardly minor….

    1. As I understand it the ourobouros is a symbol of recreation and rebirth, but Wildbow has hinted twice now that the demons may be forces of creation corrupted and turned to destruction.

    2. It’s not a minor demon, it just eats the connections making anyone think it’s a big deal.

      Also jeez this is worse than the Weeping Angels and the Silence combined.

  71. Something I found very weird about the dialogue is how the conversation on signals and Evan being able to sing was completely abandoned. Would there be anything to it, or did ErasUrr have a hand in it?

    Could someone explain to me how Blake holding the mirror above the circle of fire would help Rose? If the fire appeared on Rose’s side, does this mean Blake can control the mirror world?

    1. Rose started the fight in the windows lining the building, i.e very far outside of Blake’s circle of firey protection.

      From the few times it was described, Rose’s mirror world is completely empty. When Blake gets near a reflective surface, that opens a similar-size window in Rose’s side, illuminating the surroundings depending the reflectivity of said surface.
      So, either Rose’s world isn’t empty, but just dark, and she needs that light to interact with her stuff (which isn’t a 100% equal copy of Blake’s), or there’s actually nothing until a window pops up. I feel it’s the latter.

      Blake held the mirror high up, face down (looking at the fire circle). On Rose’s side, a light started shining ~7 feet up, shining down, and created the reflected circle of fire in her world. She ‘jumped’ into it (didn’t cross the fire, just directly landed into the reflection) to relative safety.

  72. Hmm, I’m now thinking that Blake didn’t have any bound demons/devils before coming to Toronto. When Blake is trying to argue he’s not really a diabolist at Conquest’s:
    I stopped myself. I couldn’t actually say that I hadn’t dealt with demons in good conscience. If the lawyers were representatives of the demons and devils and darker things, then I had.
    which would be odd to say if he’d done other bindings already.

    and when dealing with Pauz:
    “Were you calling me diabolist, before this?”
    “No,” he said. He smiled. “Because you weren’t. But you are one now, hm?”
    implying he hadn’t done any binding of demons or devils before this.

    As for allies, Rose and Blake say when Conquest captures them:
    “We don’t have many allies.”
    “We don’t have any,” I said. “Maggie’s… sort of questionable, and she’s hours away. The others people who were at this meeting aren’t on their Lord’s side, but they’re just as likely to murder us as help us. Maybe more likely.”

    So any allies were probably acquired after Conquest, and any binding of demons/devils came after Pauz, and probably also after meeting the Knights. He could have bound another type of non-ghost Other that they don’t consider an “ally”, but that seems unlikely to have happened in Jacob’s Bell. That leaves before, during, and after Hyena for binding demons/devils. He also might have gotten practitioner allies after Conquest, but besides possibly some Knights that seems unlikely.

    Blake calls them allies because they were there with him, but we don’t know if he would have called them “allies” before they were erased. Someone mentioned a spy from Briar Girl and possibly a goblin loaner from Maggie, and Conquest did mention he had “subordinates”… I think that the “allies” were most likely largely or entirely Others bound by someone other than Blake/Rose.

    1. Provided they were acquired after Conquest, which I find likely, as was mentioned above the allies were probably the goblins that were associated with the Hyena. Fell told us about them, but they never showed up. I’m thinking that in between binding the Hyena and Nick showing up to pick Blake up he may have made a deal with them or gotten some boon – perhaps they didn’t like their old boss and were grateful for being free of him. There’s also the bit of planning that Blake and Rose did on the way to the factory that we didn’t see. I’m sure we’ll get the details after the thing is actually dealt with.

    2. Other things for consideration: Whatever his “allies” were, they’d have to leave blood or some tangible remains on death, since those were the ways he noticed their passing at all. We can probably rule out ghosts.

    3. On the allies timeline front, this quote is from the meeting with the KotB:

      Damn it. I couldn’t help but feel a profound disappointment, with a hint of panic. I’d found an in, possible help, and they didn’t have any muscle. I was running out of time, and I didn’t have any meaningful allies. I was actually losing progress in terms of allies, if I counted losing Rose.’

      No allies before the KotB.

        1. No, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work like that. The dialogue stays the same, just like the fire stays lit when the lighter disappears.

          1. So, do you believe that people get erased with no altercations to past events or people’s memories (aside from the said person not being there)? If so, then I disagree with you. I believe right now that people’s memories are affected when someone is erased. I believe their memories shift and change until things make sense to them.

            Also, you’re not really comparing like with like. In one case, we’re talking about a memory (Blake’s internal monologue) and in the other we’re talking about an action (fire being lit).

      1. Technically, it says “meaningful allies”, which could be a clue. He never concluded that they lost 3 meaningful allies, and I doubt the goblin was a particularly important ally. Still, good catch. He almost certainly didn’t meet any potential practitioner allies (subsequently erased) in the first meeting with Conquest, then.

    1. Heh, nice. I kept looking at it waiting for it to turn into a gif and for something to leap out. Or just blood splatters. I like the shafts of moonlight.

  73. Hopefully Blake won’t have to deal with the Erasure demon again.

    However, I wanted to bring this out as a possibility.

    There are demons, and diabolists work with them.

    There are probably also angels, and I bet it’s possible to summon them as well.

    If there is some sort of good vs. evil, order vs. chaos thing going on, then I’d suspect there really should be some action on the part of the good/order side to keep Blake from stepping over the edge, especially after his binding oath to Evan in the Familus ritual.

    This isn’t to say that angels would be sugar and spice, kittens and Carebears nice, but they could be very interested in Blake, and be willing to listen to him if he has the thought to call one up.

    I’d be willing to bet that Rose didn’t have much literature on proper calling of angels though. It would be highly amusing for Blake to discover that the angelic being that he just summoned to help him deal with the Erasurr demon simply walks through pentagrams and circles, because they are signs of order, and signs of order cannot bind angels.

    So much room for “fun” here. Especially if both sides start fighting over Blake behind the scenes.

    1. Angels were confirmed by the author of Black Lamb’s Blood. The author’s father would summon them to help fight imps and the incest demon mentioned in the book. However, it should be kept in mind that the angels in question are Others associated with a specific deity, and I imagine that if you’re going to call on them regularly you need to align yourself with that deity and worship it. The god of the Bible isn’t always a kind and benevolent being, so attaching himself to that deity may come with a hefty price tag. Hell, given some laws in the Bible it might be the case that angels and their god aren’t particularly fond of diabolists.

      There’s also the matter of angels not always being effective. In Pact the trope All Myths are True applies, as there are gods from multiple religions that are actually real entities. The demons are not in general actually associated with a particular religion, so the symbolism and magical affinities of angels may be utterly useless against some types of demons.

      1. On the other hand.
        The god of the Bible does have some powerful angels in its service. Whenever one shows up, it’s usually doing some of 1) striking down the firstborn of Egypt, or the army of the Assyrians, etc, or 2) saying “Don’t panic” to people who are panicking at the sight of an angel because they remember 1. And the god of the Bible has a reputation for being willing to hear out unbelievers (at least once) if they ask for help and are on the level – you have the Roman centurion who asks Jesus to heal his servant, the Phoenician woman who asks Jesus to exorcise her daughter, and Naaman of Syria who shows up to an Israelite prophet and gets cured of leprosy by bathing in the Jordan river. This makes it plausible to me that Blake could ask for one instance of help at some point

        However, even with the All Myths Are True trope in play, anything involving a universalist monotheist religion is difficult to pull off well, so I don’t expect we’ll see much in the way of angels in the main story. Works with AMAT usually veer a bit away from anything specifically recognizable as Christianity/Islam, in my experience, or stick very strongly to focusing on the priests and churches (holy ground!) rather than the powers, because those powers are trump cards that have to be rewritten a lot to fit in – it’s hard to both represent the source material fairly and not have the powers take over the story. An example of this being done badly is the recent Salvation War story, where the demons have to carry a giant Idiot Ball for the humans to win: demons have the power to open portals on Earth and unleash the fires of Hell, and they use this power to burn down… wait for it… Detroit. Because their intelligence is fifty years out of date.

        1. Keep in mind that the Bible also says that the god of the Bible flooded the entire planet and killed everyone but Noah and his family, and there aren’t any indicators that actually happened. While the gods of various mythologies are real in Pact, that doesn’t necessarily mean every myth in their respective religions is true or an actual reflection of the power available to them. The mythology should probably be viewed more in the sense that people believing it creates and shapes the deity in question, defining its nature and symbolism.

          That said I’ve speculated that the Abrahamic god may have a problem in Pact because it has too many worshipers – too many variants [Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, etc.] and too many sects within those variants. If gods are shaped by belief, that what happens when a deity has billions of worshipers that hold contradictory beliefs about it?

          1. Probably slaps down anyone who get’s too uppity. Probably a prime example of Does Not Play Nice with Others

        2. It wasn’t hellfire, it was lava. Besides there were two major points about the demons.
          1- Everything in the Salvation War is given a rational scientific expliation. Nothing is actually supernatural. The demons portal opening is a supernatural as an flourescent light.
          2- A major point of it is that the Baldricks are idiots. They haven’t changed since the bronze age in their technology, culture and tactics. They don’t ask why. They never invented the scientific method. They assume the portals are because the copper rods please the portal spirits. Humans go and actually figure out the physics of the things.

          Yeah the demons are big and tough and can shoot lightning from their spears. But they aren’t so tough higher caliber rounds won’t kill them, they group together, their command structure is vulnerable to decapitation strikes, and about a dozen other things I’ve probably forgotten.

            1. When the denizens of Hell drop burny destructive stuff on Detroit, splitting hairs over the literal nature of the fires of Hell kind of misses the point that they were dropping it on Detroit in the first place.
            2. Whether or not it’s “supernatural” misses my point: that the demons are represented as having certain powers (such as dropping burny destructive stuff from Hell on cities) related to the source material, and for these powers not to result in too much demonic asskickery, the demons have to be idiots about using these powers. And I deny that everything is given a rational explanation: no rational explanation is given for why the demons are idiots.

            3. Yes, the demons are idiots. That’s half my complaint. They’re practically sub-sentient in their idiocy. Humans were using the scientific method millennia ago (I quibble about “invented”; testing competing hypotheses happened long before someone wrote down principles such as testing competing hypotheses), and the demons could be forgiven for never independently inventing it if they stole it from the humans. But not only were the demons too stupid to invent it, they were too stupid to watch the humans doing it. The demons were, on the whole, too stupid to watch the humans doing much at all, as though Satan in his stupidity had issued an order for everyone to be stupid so that the demons couldn’t possibly pick up ideas from the humans and use them to gain an advantage, and every demon was too stupid to realize that disobeying this order might be an opportunity to learn something clever from the humans. Saying the demons of Salvation War haven’t changed since the bronze age is an insult to the bronze age. In Egypt in the bronze age, an entire dynasty could rise and fall in fifty years (as the Abydos did), but the demons fire their superweapons with targeting information that’s fifty years out of date.

            (The other half of my complaint is that the author waffles back and forth as to whether he’s writing a story about demons, who live in a Hell straight out of Dante, nine rings, ruled by the immortal Satan, legions of 666, etc, or a story about ogres who spit fire, burp poison, and fart lightning, and were mistaken for demons by the humans who built a whole load of fake mythology around it.)

            Also, typos: “expliation” should probably be either explication or explanation, “flourescent” should be fluorescent.

            1. The Baldricks attacked Detroit with 50 years out of date information because they didn’t realize that it would be out of date. Remember the Baldricks live for thousands of years, and haven’t changed. To them someone who died 50 years ago should still have current enough information. The economic, social and political changes that made Detroit go from industrial center to, well modern day Detroit are totally unknown to them. To them the idea that information from a mere 50 years ago could be so out of date was inconcievable.

              An explanation is given for why the Baldricks are idiots. They don’t have the same curiosity humans do. They don’t ask why. They are fine with it working. They would have kicked human ass up until WW1 and still probably would have won before the end of WW2 based just on physical toughness, according to the author. But they magically immune to any weapon forged by mortal man, and their hellfire isn’t a +10 and ignores armor. Also…

              “as though Satan in his stupidity had issued an order for everyone to be stupid”
              Okay not the whole quote from you, but you nailed it. Satan was a absolute dictator. Now look at places like North Korea, that are run by absolute dictators, and how backwards they tend to end up. Those Egyptian dynasties? They actually changed rulers. Hell never did. Satan’s policies would never change. Yeah, you could question him about it… And then you and your family die horribly. It’s been a while since I read the story, so I can’t fully answer your question. But the Baldricks tended to feel superior to humans, so they felt their was nothing to be learned from them. I’m not sure, but I recall one of the their generals was starting to copy human tactics. I do recall in the sequel Heaven had a culture police, so if you got caught you were fucked.

              As for what the demons were, that is at least partially explained. They are a race of homnids that share a common ancestor with humans, living in a alternate universe. Their culture was the inspiration for the Dantian idea of hell. They live for a very long time. They have a biology that lets them do stuff like breath fire, generate electricity, and possess telepathy via a form of quantum entanglement. They sen images their world into the minds of susceptible humans to torment them, thus what the human idea of hell is, is based on their world a culture. They are the demons, because thousands of years ago, they showed up and introduced themselves as such. The idea of what a demon is is based on them.

              Anyways, I haven’t read the story in years. If you want a more in-depth thing, I’d suggest heading over to spacebattles, and talking to people there.

              And yes, I know I am not the worlds best speller.

      2. A diabolist summoning angels to assist in defeating and ultimately binding demons… somehow, I don’t think there’ll be many angels or deities willing to help out with that one.

        If angels are beings of order/law at all, they’ll probably take one look at Blake’s absolutely massive karmic debt and either run far away or kill him on sight. I think the best comparison we have for any potential interactions with law-aligned beings would be that Sphinx whose name I can’t remember.

        1. Eh. Are you under the impression the demons are willing to help out?

          Managing Angels would presumably be similar: a combination of containing them by utilising their weaknesses, forcing them to comply ththrough power, convincing them that your goal fits their interests and swearing them to binding oaths.

  74. I don’t remember why I imagined it, but I once thought about a counter to amnesia based powers.

    For starters, if the “retconsuming” works by erasing connections, a good way to protect yourself against that would be to write down your biography, sever all your connections to it somehow and, if you disappear, the biography stays. Unless I don’t understand how connections work.

    The other idea I had (in case there ever was a character that could somehow make you forget everything about themselves) would be to go for the deduction methods. Like, you have a neutral party write “I’m a boy” / “I’m a girl”, “I’m 10″/”I’m 11″/[…]/”I’m 80”, while leaving blanks that you fill with actual information. Like, if you’re a 20 years-old girl, the neutral party writes “I’m a boy” and every age except 20, and you write “I’m a girl” and “I’m 20”. If you’re erased, someone can know everything about you by reading the blanks.

    1. The physical things you’ve done remain, but not your connections to them . like, the fire was lit, even though the match/lighter/flame-ghost was eaten.

      So the biography would remain, regardless if you severed your connections to it or not. But no one would have any reason to look at it or read it. Like how the medic who went to go to the bleeding blake in the jail, after blake cut the connections, the medic had no reason to even acknowledge his existence, and let him walk right by. For all we know, there probably is a “if you read this, I’m dead” letter in the Knight’s house, and has been there for a while, but it has no connections to the author, or ANYTHING.

      The Hyena could move without making a sound or alerting anyone’s instincts, because there were no connections to it from the environment.

      Connections in this world aren’t just memories, or importance, it applies to everything. Fell cuts connections to people so he can go unnoticed and unremembered. But there are connections to things, times, and Others he still has, so he still exists.

      This demon cuts connections you have to EVERYTHING. Even if you survive, as far as the universe is considered- you aren’t there.
      So a letter or note would still exist, but it would be irrelevant to everyone and everything, because it has no connections to anything anymore.

      1. That gives me an interesting thought. If the demon only affects connections then the girl who “fell through the cracks” might still exist. Instead of falling through the cracks, the girl exists but, since the original connections to her were as a result of connections that no longer exist, neither she nor anybody else can remember her place in the world.

        1. I tend to assume that the “fell through the cracks” is the same place Blake almost went. Maybe that’s where all of the destroyed things go.

        2. Probably.

          She didn’t cease to exist, since the knights remembered she was someone. But since there wasn’t anything holding her up, I think what happened to her was what was happening to Blake- she went inbetween Human-world and Other-world.
          Blake was considered, by the universe, to have partially escaped the building, and to have been inside his cell too. So, since reality had a hard time seeing him as “Blake”, it had a harder time seeing her as “existing”?

          But, she could’ve been the one who screamed just then.

          1. …I was pretty sure that he was considered still in that cell because all of the blood, the essence of himself, that he left behind. And it was the spirits that had trouble telling which was which.

            1. Yeah, what I got from it was that because he lost so much of himself, (and subsequently had so little “Blake”) the spirits had trouble telling whether it was Blake who jumped out the window.

      2. We don’t really know how connections work (and I doubt we’ll ever know, because it doesn’t seem to me like a system that would make any sense, even with magic). But even if they work like you say, it seems to be that there would be simple way to go around this. If the Knights really had a “I’m dead” note that survived ErasUrrr, they could find it without knowing what it is, and know everything by reading it.

        Severing connections doesn’t make you unsubstantial, being unsubstantial erases your connections. Well, I think.

        1. Again, the note wouldn’t disappear, but no one would have any reason to read it or acknowledge it’s existence. And even if they looked at it, it wouldn’t have any importance to them, and would slip their memories.
          The demon WAS saying it’s name, but since it ate it, they had no recollection of it completely saying the name, and to them- no name was said past the “ur”.
          The blood and the hand of the “allies” remained, even though Blake didn’t notice anyone was there until the blood made itself relevant to him.

          Remember how when blake drained himself, that the universe had trouble seeing him as “him”? Take that, and multiply it by cancer. The universe forgot you even existed. If you read something by someone who never existed (as far as the world is concerned), would you pay any attention to it? I wouldn’t.

          1. Lots of people pay attention to things written by people who didn’t exist. Far too much attention, sometimes. When it comes to things like books, what matters isn’t the author, but the information.

            In the interest of avoiding heated discussion, if you are particularly religious ignore this statement. I was referring to Shakespeare anyways. No one’s sure he existed, right?

            1. “Things written by people” is a false statement. More like, things written by someone and many people incorrectly assuming someone or something else wrote it.

              No one pays attention to someone written by someone who actually never existed. Case and point- there could be a note on your pillow right now, but since the author was eaten by the demon, you have already disposed of it and ignored its existence.

              If shakespear really never existed, then he never wrote any of “shakespear’s” works. Someone else, who did exist, did.

            2. You’re making assumptions that don’t really make sense. More importantly than making sense, you’re using the tightest loop of circular logic I’ve seen seriously used in a long time.

              Your argument: “No one pays attention to something written by someone who doesn’t exist because if there was something written by someone who didn’t exist, you wouldn’t pay any attention to it.”
              My argument: “It’s just paper and words. You’d notice the paper and read the words. Sure, it would look like fiction to you, but you’d still know it existed.”

              A consequence of your theory is that it implies that the demon eating something prevents things it’s connected to from making any connections, too. So the demon should have been harming itself each time it ate its name, and the Knights of the Basement should have had their non-eaten members separated from the real world as well; Blake wouldn’t have noticed them if they were pounding on his chest. Therefore, we can infer that your assumption is wrong.

            3. Alright. Explain how you know that something written by a nonexistent author would be ignored, then.

            4. The same reason that the statement “The perfect crime is impossible” is not true
              The perfect crime is one where no one knows a crime is committed, and will never know, except the one(s) who did it.
              So, when they die, no one would ever know that a crime was done. If this is true, then “Perfect Crimes” have likely been done correctly a bunch of times. It’s just that no one knows.

              While it’s not a perfect transition to the “nonexistent people writing something” the same line of thought to the “perfect crime” example is similar to my line of thought for this. If someone wrote something, and that author was erased from existence, to the point even the UNIVERSE is unaware the person ever existed, how could someone find out find, acknowledge, read, comprehend, and remember that message? This kind of thing could have been happening for centuries, even in real life, and no one would be the wiser.

              Anyways- that’s my opinion. However, my friend has just pointed out the giant flaws in this reasoning, and so I admit to my opinion being wrong and faulty.

              Sorry, my bad.

            5. The message is not the person. The message is words on a piece of paper, and is related to other things. They might not believe what was written on the paper…but they probably wouldn’t anyways, neh?

    2. Words in the biography are concrete, information is abstract.
      In your scenario, the words would not disappear, because the blanks convey more information than the absence of blanks. It’s like quantum teleportation still not breaking the speed-of-light limit – you can’t outsmart the Universe with cheap tricks.

      1. Well, I’m not sure about that. If the words do not disappear, then all you have to do is to write them in a different color and you can convey your information. It’s not like ErasUrrrr completely rewrote the continuum to delete information, else Blake would have no way to know about his fallen allies or the lighter he brought.

  75. Funny how my mind starts playing ‘The Rains Of Castamere’ the second the fact that Blake is taking on Conquest sinks in…

    “And who are you,” The proud lord said.
    “That I must bow so low?”

  76. Hmm, I just thought of something. Is Blake limited to one of each, of familiar, implement and demesnes?

    The familiar ritual doesn’t seem to exclude having multiple familiars.

    1. While not explicitly stated, it’s heavily implied. Picking a familiar is metaphorically like a marriage, and that particular comparison probably wouldn’t have been used if “polygamy” was allowed. Picking the wrong implement can also cripple you as a practitioner, which wouldn’t really be a problem if you could get more than one.

      1. I read it as being a soft cap, ie you gave up so much of yourself to let a familiar become mortal / tie an implement to yourself that it was unwise to try and sustain two.

        1. Yes, but, if having one familiar makes you more powerful, why not have many. Isn’t seven the number with the greatest magical power, for example ?

          1. 108 could be a workable number for Blake since he’s trying to shed negative Karma; I recommend that Blake have Duncan’s charm re-forged into a wire/chain which he can then use to collect 108 Infernal Others that he defeats and binds into the from of prayer beads which he then uses as one of his most useful weapons short of his Implement.

            1. I don’t think that would work in Canada. Numbers like 4 and 108 only really have the significance of a bad connotation in the east. In Canada, a number like 13, 42 or an interval of 3 would be more appropriate.

            2. Maggie bound goblins into ofuda, so it can work to provide greater versatility.

              I’m speculating that it may be possible using different cultural mystic traditions, symbols and systems to create exploitable power boosts for attack, defence and bindings e.g. a ritual protection utilising the four cardinal directions using the Sì Xiàng of Chinese cosmology, Buddhist Four Heavenly Kings, (Norse mythology)Norðri, Suðri, Austri, Vestri, (Greek) Anemoi and (Lakota) Eya, Yata, Yanpa, Okaga, chaining the protection together with compatible cross-cultural symbols.

            3. On the other hand, Maggie’s bound goblins aren’t really familiars.

              Magic seems to work the way you think it should. Sticking to the culture he was born and raised in would probably be more efficient/effective than switching to the most different culture that didn’t get wiped out by imperialism.

    2. In almost every reference we see it implies only one, often saying “the familiar” or “his/her/their familiar”. We also know that a highly skilled enchantress can steal a familiar if they don’t already have one. I think it’s safe to assume that it’s nearly or completely universal. The same seems to go for the others.

      Also, unless Blake and Rose misunderstood, they certainly seem to think they can get only one of each, since they talk about compromising on one in order to get better ones for the other two.

    1. Not much like it, actually. The beings are smaller, more numerous and fragile. They’re stronger in the light, not weaker. They leave bodies and shadows.
      Going for the gate is a strategy that would (probably) work on both, but…if a D-Class can get to it that easily, it’s not much like this demon’s.

        1. You can’t just keep throwing D-class at it until it works. Not always. Sure, sometimes it works, but what if it’s 006 or something else that multiplies by killing things? Or something that normal people can’t hurt at all? Or something that makes you run out of D-class before it’s finished, or causes problems from all the rotting corpses gathered in one place?

  77. I have a suggestion for an interlude chapter. A day in the life of your average practitioner. Given that they can’t say even the smallest lies, use sarcasm and maybe even hyperbole, many awkward social situations could arise. A chapter like this would help build the world and explore the rules by which practitioners live.

    I realise we have seen this before when Blake had a celebration with his friends, but it would be neat to see more of this :3

    1. This could be interesting (though I’m not sure what the “average practitioner” is). I get the feeling that most who weren’t thrust into becoming practitioners have grooming and training even before they awaken. If you’re trained not to lie, from the age of 5, you probably know how to deal with normal conversation pretty well by the time your 20 (or even 12 maybe). Still, I would like to see practitioners who have experience and aren’t constantly fighting for their lives. I don’t think Blake is the ideal example of a practitioner.

    2. It just requires that you have a good grasp of humor and diplomacy. “Honey, does this dress make me look fat?” “Dear, do you honestly think that your personality is good enough that I’d still be around if you were fat?” 😉

    3. It seems like the interludes are set in the past, in contrast to Worm’s present interludes.

      I wonder if Wildbow’s next work will have Interludes set in the future of the story.

      Insert Worm spoiler here.

      1. It’s here where I point out that Pact doesn’t have interludes (so far). It has Histories and Gathered Pages (one of which was by popular demand. It may just be a hallucination, but I seem to recall Wildbow saying that he didn’t like writing these and would stop. Unless my memory is just broken).

        Insert rebuke for Worm spoilers.

        1. Well, this could be a Histories chapter instead of an interlude per se :3 And you are right, Wildbow did say that he didn’t like Gathered Pages, but since then he wrote Black Lamb’s Blood, so it seems as though he is fine writing them now and them.

        2. They’re between arcs, they’re close enough to interludes for me. Sad to hear they’re not going to be written anymore.

          Insert counter-rebuke to Worm spoilers. I wonder if this was the best way to bring that idea to wildbow’s attention.

  78. I started reading Worm after it ended. So I’ve never been caught up before…can’t say I’m fond of it, but it’ll be interesting seeing other people talk about the story in real time as opposed to months ago.

    1. Greetings from the future! Above you’ll find fan observations, theories as and discussion. Below you’ll find. . . Something (your reply hopefully). If theory isn’t your cup of cocoa (I don’t like tea), you can always post a joke. A certain Pencil has left a void, so fan art is always appreciated. Welcome to the wonderful(ly painful) world of being caught up in a Wildbow work.

      1. Tell me about it! I thought there was going to be an update today (last night). It was a huge blow when after ten minutes nothing had been posted, I had been waiting the whole day to read it.

        1. Sorry about that. I usually aim for every other week. I didn’t announce anything one way or the other because I did try to write the update, but I was tired/distracted enough that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to follow through. Will aim to inform you guys better in the future. Next two weeks should have Thurs updates

          1. Oh, don’t apologise Wildbow! :3 I know you update every other Thursday, I just lost track of when the previous Thursday update had been (I could have sworn it had been two weeks before). Those are fantastic news though!

          2. Wait, there are updates every other Thursday?

            …That explains why there was an extra update last time I checked.
            (I procrastinate my hobbies sometimes, okay?)

  79. I wanted to make a disturbance. If the universe maintained a balance, then I wanted to leave something of an imbalance in the grand scheme of things, to be big enough that the world would hurt a bit for my passing.
    Dangerous line of thought there, Blake…

    “It dawns on me,” I whispered, feeling somewhat numb, “That we really should have hunted this demon in daylight.”

    Um, you think?

    “Um. I think three of our allies just died.”
    “What?”
    “Three others. Maybe more, but I only saw three. At least one was a goblin.”
    “We didn’t bring help.”
    “We don’t remember bringing help,” I said. “If we don’t remember bringing any help, there’s none left, so I have to question how much it matters. It’s a moot point.”

    Hm. Bright side, none of the named characters are going to get nommed.

    Anyways…I wonder what those allies were. Used to have been. Whatever.

    1. 1.) If the Universe wants to take me out for some crap my family did, then I’d like to at least be able to punch it in the eyes. Can’t blame him there.

      2.) Yeah, but they really didn’t have much of a choice because of the time shenanigans.

      3.) That’s the logic of everyone else too. Sad but cruel.

        1. Still a dangerous attitude to have, neh? Leaves you more open to trying to cause an imbalance that fucks you over once karma catches up.

        2. True. Still…demon of darkness, harmed by light, and only now you realize it would have been better to hunt it in the daytime?

        3. Well, not like they had much of a choice.
          Incidentally, did Maggie ever get the paper goblins back?

          1. I vaguely remembered something like that.

            There goes one theory. I wonder if Maggie originally gave him a more permanent companion or something.

  80. “It dawns on me,” I whispered, feeling somewhat numb, “That we really should have hunted this demon in daylight.”
    Blake did hunt it in the daylight, but it ate the rest of the day. Yeah, you want to talk about time shenanigans…

  81. “There was a noticeable delay before Rose said, “No harm done. Does it help you to feel more grounded?””

    There was a noticeable delay… while one of their no-longer-existent allies said something?

  82. Thught about posting the names of some characters,acting as if they were erased….it has been done (not with the nothingness puns I have planned,like naming one Count LeBlanc,but it has been done)

    Then I thought about posting a hypothesis that no one really dissappear,but the demon was ,in reality,one of madness/paranoia,that worked by adding things/memories instead of removing them.Kinda done,too.

    Man,I love this community.

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