Signature 8.2

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It was still strange, seeing Patrick attending high school.  Like Ev and Keller, he showed up once in a blue moon, as interest suited him.  He wore different faces, stirred up drama, and then disappeared when he’d scratched that itch.  Maggie suspected that it might be a way of keeping tabs on the local players, as humans grew up and the local dynamics shifted.

Evonne, Essylt in her tongue, had only showed up to talk to Patrick the once, that Maggie was aware.  The woman was more predatory, and interrogation of bound goblins had revealed her father was some Faerie De Sade, someone known to be a very good and creative torturer, among a people who’d had centuries to pursue torture as a hobby.  He’d been executed for some failure, and the Ev had been banished.  Keller, a friend of hers and something like an apprentice to Ev’s father, had elected to come along and protect her.

Keller, doing the grunt work in Ev’s plan, showed up now and then among the student body, primarily during lunch hours or after school.  Faerie liked pretty things, and had a way of gravitating toward the prettiest person in a group, but Keller targeted the fringe groups.  The kid with the funny ears and his friends, who all liked the roleplaying games but hid what they were really talking about because the faculty considered.  The French-speakers in French immersion who seemed to do their very best to avoid learning or speaking more English, and the less than successful drama club members.  To them, Keller was the guy with connections, old enough he didn’t attend high school, young enough he could relate to them, even flirt, without crossing a line.  He wore a different face for each group, and he seemed to be equipping them.  More than one had trinkets with some kind of power that Maggie could recognize.

The kid with the funny ears with no cartilage to keep the top ends upright had a regular old book, nonmagical, that had been loaned to him by Keller, that he was apparently using to inspire the adventures he made up for his friends.

The cigarette smoking Quebecois girl that led the French immersion crowd had something in her pocket, and she’d made a recent trip to Toronto, returning with a completely overhauled and rather expensive wardrobe, albeit largely in black, with gifts for all her friends.  Maggie’s suspicion was that the girl was finding she was suddenly far, far better at shoplifting since she’d received the good luck charm from ‘Alain’, Keller’s Quebecois guise.

The rather round member of the drama club was finding his diets were working, he had Keller’s advice on fashion, and was exercising.  Some guys, even, were not-so-subtly gravitating his way, and the drama club was transforming with new membership.

Maggie didn’t have the fancy books.  No library, no resources to tap.  The only reliable source she had right now was, well, Patrick.

Except Patrick was the one at the head of the problem in question.

That left Maggie with the internet, storybooks, the brief and chaotic notes in her binder, and basic deduction.

She was pretty certain that presents and boons like the ones Keller was giving out were traps.  That they’d be wonderful and fantastic up until the point that things turned sour.  Maybe they became too much of a good thing, maybe there was a rule that had to be followed, with some horrific backlash if it wasn’t.  Maybe there was a catch.

Exiled Faerie weren’t allowed to go after innocents, not directly.  But, Maggie was fairly certain, they weren’t forbidden from doing something like giving a kid a flute that would summon a sprite to do their chores for them, with the caveat that the sprite would blind them if they ever tried to watch it while it worked.

End result?  The kid would be stupid, the sprite would eat the kid’s eyes.  People, the kid included, would rationalize it away as an accident, an infection, or just a freak occurrence.  Life would go on as normal, and the local Faeries-in-exile got their jollies without breaking the rules.

Maggie could look across the field where the students who weren’t eating indoors were spending their lunch hour.  She could see the stories playing out.  Connections, two Others among maybe three hundred scattered students; a student that seemed content to repeat the same grade without any teacher noticing he’d been on the class roster for ten years, and Patrick himself.

One of the Behaims took a seat on the ledge where Maggie sat.  A girl.  Strong jaw, full lips, and a hat with flaps over the ears.  Sort of what Maggie thought a female dwarf would look like, except without the dwarf part of it.  The girl was probably taller than she was.

The Behaims were healthy, as a general rule.

“Your rear end is going to get wet and cold,” Maggie said.  She was sitting on her own backpack.

“I’ll deal.  I’m supposed to ask you if you’re willing to look the contract over.”

“Finally?  You guys have been bugging me a couple of times a day, like you’re all worried I’ll change my mind.”

“Have you?”

No.

“Then will you look the contract over?” the girl asked.

Stubborn.

“Not right now,” Maggie said.  “Lunch ends soon, and if that contract is as solid as I’m hoping it is, then I won’t be able to read it all.  I’m thinking, anyway.  I’ll look after school, if I can.”

“Okay,” the girl said.  She didn’t move.

“I don’t know your name.”

“Tenth grade.  Elspeth.”

A year younger, then.

“The Behaims have a thing for really tragic names.”

Old family names.  There’s a power in it.”

“Ah.”

“Yeah.  You’re right, the names we get stuck with can bite, but there’s a reasoning behind it.  Am I interrupting your thinking?”

Maggie shrugged.  Yes, but she wasn’t in a mood to be a bitch about it.

When Elspeth didn’t take the excuse to leave, Maggie said, “Patrick, you see him?”

“Yeah, I see him.”

“What do you know about him?”

“I know of Patrick.  I don’t know him.  He shows up at the council meetings.”

“I mean, tell me something I wouldn’t know myself.”

“He was at the heart of this whole thing last year.  Slept with this guy, Duke, a straight guy.  While glamoured up as a teenage guy.  Ended a relationship that had been going on since middle school.”

“Four years, through high school?  That’s like lifetimes in real years.”

“Exactly,” Elspeth said.  “The aftermath was something to see.  Duke and his girlfriend Mary had been part of this really tight clique.  Just about fractured in half, one side backing Duke, the other backing Mary.  And maybe things would have calmed down, except the news got out that Mary was pregnant.  If Patrick hadn’t split up the friends, maybe they would have broken up over the pregnancy, but feelings wouldn’t have been as hurt, and a full fifth of the graduating class might not have gotten involved in the whole thing.”

“It’s like network television,” Maggie said.

“You’re not wrong.  Things are never simple with Faerie involved.  One thing led to another, which led to another, and so on.  All with Patrick stepping in only now and then to keep the flames fanned.  For him, it’s like a real-world soap opera, interactive.  A nudge here, and stories unfold.”

Maggie wasn’t too surprised, though she hadn’t heard this story in full before.

The hurt feelings, broken friendships and reams of pain and chaos aren’t really something he understands or pays attention to, except when he needs to leverage and use it.

That’s what he is. 

“Creepy, something as old as him sleeping with a high schooler,” Elspeth said.

“I felt that way once.  Then I adjusted my perspective.  Years are to a Faerie what dollars amounts are to a priceless artifact.  You could do your research, find experts to help figure it out, cross-check facts, but it doesn’t really matter in the end.  The priceless artifact costs a lot.  The Faerie are old.”

Elspeth nodded.  She didn’t look convinced, and Maggie didn’t care enough to keep trying to sell the idea.

He’s old.  Old enough to grow jaded and then find new faith in existence a dozen times over, until neither case has any meaning.  Old enough to be bored with reality.

The goblins had told Maggie stories about Faerie that had decided they couldn’t be entertained any more.  Faerie older than Padraic, who had seen enough permutations of everything that they couldn’t be surprised or amused any more.

Padraic didn’t eat or drink in the conventional sense.  He supped only on entertainment, and he’d been hobbled when he’d been sent here.  He was fighting and endless battle to stave off that ennui that would turn him into a monster that ranked up there with the worst.  All Faerie were.

On a level, it meant he wasn’t evil.  He was just… working with a different set of sliding scales.

On another level, fudge that.  He was evil.

Whether it was evil or sliding scales, he was idly moving among the student body right now, talking to some people, charming other.  The equivalent of picking wings off flies.

Maggie ventured, “There’s something like seven plots I’m aware of.  Keller has three charms and one questionable book that he’s given to people around the school.  Patrick has been talking to three people or groups of people, besides me.  This is going to end badly.”

“Maybe.  But if you try to fix it, it’s liable to end worse.”

“I can imagine,” Maggie said.

“Don’t get involved.  They’ve probably anticipated what might happen if any of us stepped in.  If you try to intervene, they’ll get you wrapped up in the game or the drama or whatever they’ve got going on here.”

“Yeah,” Maggie said.

She didn’t mention that there was something else eating at her.

The goblin she’d interrogated, Buttsack, had confessed to systematic attacks on more or less random targets.  There was a lot of little hurt here and there.  Some big hurt.  Buttsack had used a curse on a girl to make her envision everything edible as rotten and disgusting.  Every plate of salad practically compost, meat appeared and tasted rancid, festooned with maggots.  She’d been hospitalized a month ago, on the belief that she had an eating disorder.

Buttsack was upset because he wanted the curse back, so he could use it again.  Maggie managed to twist his arm until he shared the way to break the curse.  She’d scribbled it down and emailed the hospital with a message for the patient.

She’d left a note in the locker of the diabetic with the cocaine-tainted insulin, and discreetly removed the gremlin bait from her math teacher’s keychain, keeping it for herself.

Something told her that Buttsack hadn’t shared every victim of his.

The Faerie were active, the goblins allowed to run rampant so long as they were minor goblins.  Bogeymen and boggarts lurked in the outskirts of town.

The atmosphere was dark, here.

The council was letting bad things happen to innocents because it was, in a roundabout way, a path to power.

A seeing man is king in the land of the blind.  Protect your own eyes and let everyone else get blinded, and you rise to the top of the heap.

The dynamic here was toxic.

Places like this were a haven for those who didn’t want to kowtow to a proper Lord.  For every person here that hadn’t been directly affected by an Other in one way or another, there was another who had.

Too few were benevolent.

As Jacob’s Bell became something bigger, some would leave, because the city was no longer a haven.  Others would try to mark their territory and ride the cresting wave to the top.  They would get bolder, fight one another, or prey on people in an effort to grasp at power.

She hadn’t been able to help everyone that Buttsack had hurt or plotted against, and even though he was the most malicious and capable goblin she’d run into since she’d arrived in Jacob’s Bell, he was still a minor goblin.  Resourceful, but minor.

She wanted to help, but how was she supposed to help with the rest of it if this was all she could do to help him?

How was she supposed to help Blake if she was this powerless?  How was she supposed to face the blood, darkness, and fire that was inching her way even now?

Padraic was taking his leave.  He stepped on ice and used the slippery surface to do a half-turn.  His eyes fell on her.  She could see his smile.  She could imagine his voice in her ear.

“Was he just looking at you?” Elspeth asked.

“You know, if Penelope or Gavin pushed you to come and try and be friendly, you can stop pretending.  It’s not going to change what I decide to do with the contract.”

“Thanks for letting me off the hook,” Elspeth replied.  She stood, dusting snow off her rear end.  “My ass was freezing.”

“See ya,” Maggie said.

Exiled faerie were kept out of towns with Lords as a matter of course.  The Court apparently didn’t want exiles making deals or gaining power, so they stuck them only in small villages and towns, or even in areas well out of reach of humans.

Maggie made a mental note to ask him what would happen to the Exiles when Jacob’s Bell made the transition.

She put her hands between her thighs and pressed them together for warmth, watching the crowd.  Now that Patrick was gone, she was free to watch the practitioners.

Owen was being an idiot over a senior girl, and she’d turned him down despite some shenanigans affecting the connection between them.

Lola seemed distracted by something, fidgeting, her attention on her phone.  Every time she looked down, a connection ignited.  Someone far away.

Penelope was particularly focused on Maggie.  She was one of the people who’d worked out the idea for the contract, and she seemed especially intent on it.

If things worked out well, Maggie knew who to thank.  If they didn’t, she knew who to blame.

She made a long list of mental notes.  Weaknesses, ideas, clues, identifying details.  Whether or not she accepted the contract, they could easily become enemies.

Any information was a possible vector of attack.  Even romantic entanglements, even doubt over some distant boyfriend or family member.

She’d learned that much from the goblins and Faerie of Jacob’s Bell.

Maggie nudged the meat around her plate.  It looked like someone had cut away the good parts of the chicken, leaving only the giblets and tattered bits, and slathered it all in some weak, slimy sauce of vinegar and gluten free flour and cooked up in a baking pan with far too much fluid.  It looked undercooked.

No, scratch that.  It looked like limp, shredded, groin giblets.  Undercooked, limp, shredded groin giblets.  With overcooked asparagus and undercooked potatoes on the side.

Had Buttsack found a way to curse her?  Or was she just being influenced by the goblins, seeing rude things when they weren’t there?

“I know it’s not your favorite,” her dad said.

“That suggests I’ve had this before.  I’m pretty sure I’d remember this.”

Much as I’d want to forget.

“It’s pretty bad,” her father said.

“…Just eat what you can,” her dad said.  “We’ll have something else soon.  To take your mind off it, why don’t you tell us about school?”

Maggie suppressed a groan.

Full disclosure.  It was part of the deal, for her being allowed to practice.

Not that she was telling them everything, but she had to make a good faith effort.

“Bunch of kids approached me a few days ago, offering a truce.  Today they delivered the contract.  I’m halfway through.  I’m thinking I’ll read the rest in bed tonight.”

“Why have a truce if you aren’t at war?” her dad asked.

“Because they want to make sure I don’t go and help Blake with whatever’s going on in Toronto.”

“Does that have anything to do with the box of unpacked stuff you have up in your room, that’s been grunting and moving around?”

Maggie tensed.  “You said you wouldn’t go in my room.”

“I didn’t,” her father said.  “But it’s hard to ignore, and since I’m working from home, it’s… distracting.”

“It’s… a goblin,” she said.

She hated this.  The wounded looks, the bewilderment.

Her dads had been introduced to this world, they were scared of it, and they were vulnerable, even if they hadn’t awakened.  She didn’t have the heart to share her thoughts on just how overwhelming the problems here were, the number of lesser Others who were preying on people.

Let alone Padraic with his games, or Keller with his trapped gifts.

“Okay,” her dad said, “this meal was a failure.  Let’s clear the dishes and we’ll figure out if there’s something fast and healthy we can do.”

Healthy eating.  Her dad’s attempt at asserting control over something, as a way of coping.  It was just stressing her out more in the end, but she couldn’t say that.

You guys and mom are my favorite people in the world, but I feel like we’re falling apart just like Jacob’s Bell isHow can you build something better when the foundation is so unsteady?

“Are you okay?” her father asked.

“Meh,” she said.  “Not really.”

“You can put that entire world behind you, you know.  You don’t have to get involved.  Just… reach out.  Find help, don’t feel you have to tackle it yourself.”

Both her dads had been there to hear the prophecy.

Twice more.  Blood, darkness, and fire.

Hundreds would die.

No, it wasn’t that easy.

“I’ll be in my room,” she said.  “Love you.”

He put his hand on her shoulder, letting it fall as she walked away.

She reached her room, turned on her laptop, and plopped herself down in her computer chair.  She picked up a fat gold coin from the shelf above the computer.

One of the Rescuer’s coins.  Retrieved from the man who had tried to save her from the goblin attack back home.

Yeah, even now she still thought of it as home.

A kick sent her skidding over to the cardboard box.

Buttsack glared at her as she opened the flaps, a post-it note stuck to his face, a rune on the front.  The inside of the box had runes for metal on it.

The silence rune on the post-it was from her binder, the metal ones were from Padraic.

She flipped the coin, then caught it, flipped it, then caught it again.

Heavier than it looked.

She couldn’t carry it around with her all the time, but she appreciated the weight it had, in more than one sense.

No matter what her dad said, she couldn’t just ignore it all.

She left the post-it in place, debating what to ask for.  Did she press for more details on his past victims, in hopes of helping someone out?  It was good to build up goodwill, but as power grabs went, it was weak, and she wasn’t sure he would share details all that easily.

Was it better to ask for techniques?  Tricks?

Expand her repertoire?

The computer bleeped, interrupting her thoughts.  She spun around and kicked herself back to the desk, rolling.

An email, notifying her of a message on her wall.

Maggie,

A situation came up.  I’m going head to head with the biggest name in Toronto, and there aren’t many people I can call on for help.  You have your field of expertise, and I have my hands on something that’s not small potatoes.  If nothing else, could I get you to call me?  It’d make a big difference in figuring this out.  Our previous deal stands, whatever you decide.

This was the deciding moment.  She’d read most of the contract, and it was what they’d outlined outside the school.  Lessons, borrowed books, trinkets, safety and access to their properties.  Tutoring lessons.

It was, she suspected, exactly what her father wanted her to do.  It meant allies.  People who could back her up if everything went to hell.

Not that she wouldn’t hold on to her notes.

Blake, though, had something related to goblins, something that wasn’t small?  A moderate goblin?

The old deal stood.  She helped him out, he gave her access to books.

It wasn’t enough.

“Sorry, Blake,” she said.

“What’s that?”

Her dad stood in the doorway.

“Guy we met before needs help.  But it’s not worth the trouble.  Would mean angering a lot of locals.”

“That’s what was making you look so down at dinner?”

“Part of it,” she said.

“Listen, there’s nothing in the fridge.  I think the potato bar is still open, if-”

“Yes,” Maggie said.

“-You’re hungry.”

“I’m hungry.  Yes,” Maggie said.

She practically bounced as she stood from her chair, pausing only to lock the laptop so it would go straight to low-power mode.  She shut the box and hurried downstairs.

“You don’t have to act that enthusiastic,” her father said, as she reached the ground floor.

“Real food,” she said, just a touch breathless.  “Ridiculously thick milkshakes.  There’s two or three things that are tolerable about this town.  Those milkshakes and that greasy food are them.”

She had her coat on before her dad was even downstairs.

“Can we buy some junk food at the magazine store on the way back?” she asked.  “I want to torment the goblin by eating it in front of him.”

“I’m not paying for you to torture another creature, goblin or no.”

Torment, not torture.”

“No tormenting either.  Yes, you can get junk food, but you pay for it yourself.”

Maggie grinned, grabbing her backpack and slinging it over one shoulder.  Her wallet was still within.

“And you do your homework after,” her father said.

She rolled her eyes.

She, her dad and her father ventured out into the dark side streets.  In the dead of winter, the only light was from the street lights, and they were intermittent, with whole streets cast in ominous pitch darkness.

Her thoughts about the state of the city gave her pause.  She turned on the flashlight she kept in her coat pocket.

The potato bar was part of the little stretch of stores in the ‘downtown’ area.  A third of the storefronts were empty and desolate, others were only open in the summer and looked empty and desolate, and the others had dingy signs.  Even though it was downtown, only three cars passed them as they made their way to the bar.  One completely ignored the stop sign.

She held the door for her dads.  In the time they blocked her view of the dark block of parkland opposite the bar, a pair decided to appear.

Maggie held the door open as they approached.  A woman and a child.  Both so beautiful they could be models.  Neither were human.

Ev and Padraic, both wearing glamour.  Pretending to be a twenty-something mother and her young child.

Maggie joined her dad, remaining keenly conscious of what the Faerie were doing.  She was focused enough she needed a nudge before she could give her order.

The food arrived fast.  Chipped chicken in poutine and a chocolate milkshake so dense the mug could probably be used to bludgeon a bear to death.

Padraic used a high child’s voice to order a milkshake, little legs kicking as he sat on his stool to Maggie’s right.

The five of them and the one cook were the only ones in the dim bar.

Maggie ate her poutine as fast as she could without burning herself on the hot grease.  Poutine wasn’t good if it got cold.

She’d kick herself if she got into something with Patrick and let this rare treat go to waste.

Fortune prevailed, and she was largely done when the cook disappeared into the back, clattering with dishes or something.

She wiped her mouth, then asked, “Did you want something, Patrick?”

“I want a lot of things,” child-Patrick said.

“What?” her dad asked.

“I said I want a lot of things,” Patrick repeated himself.  “I want freedom, I want to go home.  I want sweet, cold revenge.”

The words were chilling, coming from someone who looked and sounded like a small child.

“What does that have to do with me?” Maggie asked.  “I’m enjoying time with my dads.  I don’t want hassle.”

“What makes you think I came here for you?” he asked.

“Tell me you didn’t.”

Patrick didn’t reply.  Instead, a smile crept across his face.

“I think we’ll step away,” her dad said.  Her father nodded in agreement.

They gathered up their sweet potato fries and chicken-potato wrap and retreated.

Maggie felt a moment’s loathing for the Faerie, independent of all the rationalizing she’d done earlier.

Events of blood, darkness, and fire could strike her at any time.  Moments like this were precious.

“I’ll clarify,” Maggie told him.  “What do you want with me?”

“I’m bored.  Can we chat, Maggie-closest-to-my-heart?”

Again, hitting those creepy notes.

“Define ‘we’,” Maggie said.

“Essylt is along for the act, nothing more.  She can leave now, if she wishes.”

Just like that, the elegant young mother stood from her stool.  She flashed a smile at Maggie’s dads.

Gross.

“Can we just not dance around the subject?  You approached me for a reason.  I’m guessing it’s something that recently came up, because you didn’t approach when I was visiting the dip by the bridge this afternoon.”

When I was visiting the ghost.

“The Briar Girl is spying on Blake, and she offered me knowledge for a point in the right direction.  Mr. Thorburn apparently intent on vigorous leaping from frying pans to fires, idiomologically speaking.”

As he spoke, he was breaking up his own glamour.  It was subtle, the changes only obvious when Maggie focused elsewhere, then returned her attention to Padraic.

He continued, the pitch of his voice changing just as gradually as he spoke, “He’s started a little contest, and even handicapped himself.  It’s really quite interesting.  You were named as a possible champion for his undersized, underarmed side, and I’m very keen to hear any details.  I’m limited to this grim little town, you see, and it’s rare to experience any involvement in greater events.”

Maggie sucked on her milkshake while he talked.  She put one finger on the top of the straw to trap the air inside and keep the milkshake from dropping back into the glass.

“I’m sorry to disappoint,” she said.  “If I had more to share, I’d barter for something.  He sent me a message.  I’m thinking I’ll have to tell him no.  Refuse him even answers to his questions about goblins.”

“No, Maggie dear, you can’t do that.  He’s interesting, you’re interesting, and you want to just leave it be?”

“I’m planning on signing the contract, unless something comes up.”

The cook stepped out, glanced at Patrick, and gave Patrick a puzzled look.  Patrick was grown, ordinary.

But Patrick was taking a taste of his own milkshake, and the cook seemed willing to accept he’d already been served.  The man disappeared into the back.

“This is tragic,” Patrick said.  “So much could have unfolded from this.  Do I need to offer you more knowledge, to urge you to go to Toronto?”

“Maybe,” Maggie said.

Knowledge was good.

“The prophecies the others mentioned?  It’s because Mr. Thorburn is going to perish, if he doesn’t get help at the right time and place.  All of the contract business, unsigned or not, those pages are primarily a manipulation, to keep you away from that place until that time passes.”

Blake was going to die?

That was different from ‘Blake isn’t going to come back to Jacob’s Bell.’

So many things wrong and rotten with this city.

Could she accept responsibility for another Thorburn’s death?

She had to.

“I’m… no, Patrick.  That doesn’t change anything.  My first and last priority is getting stronger, to prepare.”

“They called you the wild card.  Be wild, Maggie Holt,” Patrick said.

His words had glamour in them.  They aroused an excitement and restlessness in her that she knew wasn’t supposed to be there.

She suppressed it, and found it surprisingly easy to do.

In learning from him, she was getting better at dealing with this sort of thing.

“Then you leave me no choice but to make one grand offer,” Patrick said.  “You want power?  Shall I put Maggie Holt in the same place as one of the more powerful and respected beings in the area?”

He let the idea hang in the air.  Maggie suppressed the compelling glamour that was trying to get her excited.

“That sounds like a terrible bargain,” Maggie said.  “Far too many traps.”

“You’ll face zero risk from him.  You stand to learn a great deal,” Patrick said.

“Who is he?”

“An entity with the experience of Lordship, though he’s been stripped of much of his power.  It’s really quite an unbalanced deal, so I must alter the terms.  I’ll arrange the meeting, alongside my guarantee that you’ll personally face no meaningful risk from this being, in exchange for, let me see, I want you to consider helping Mr. Thorburn, and…”

And?” Maggie asked.  “There’s an and?”

“Trading in opportunities and maybes alone is feeble.  It can breed ill-will with the spirits, if you leave too much abstractness up in the air.  What if we agreed to the deal, you refused the opportunity, gave consideration to serving as the diabolist’s champion, and decided against that too?  The spirits might sort through all that, trying to decide if we’re disturbing the system or if the deal was struck in good faith.  Much like someone might draw ire if they tried to game the system.”

“Assuming I’m interested in this bargain, what’s the solution?”

“A token exchange of something concrete.”

“And that exchange is one way?” Maggie asked.  “I don’t believe it.”

“As you wish,” Patrick said.  “Good for you to be on your toes.  I’ll arrange a meeting in some form, with a personal guarantee that he won’t touch you.  I promise opened doors and troves of new lessons, and, let me see,” he paused.

Faerie didn’t need to pause, not really.  An act, theatrics.

He bowed a little, “In this shop that smells like rancid grease, I hereby offer Maggie Holt a ring from my finger, impregnated with my power, should you accept this deal.  It bears a connection to me, and through it, the owner can draw out glamour until I’m spent of it.  I’ll give it to you for one month’s time, thirty days.”

Maggie managed to suppress her shock.  She settled for being very still, her eyes fixated on the ring.  Gold and obsidian, with the gold formed into branch-like protrusions.  “You’ve lost it if you’re offering that.”

“Not at all.  Handing this over would mean I’m extending a measure of trust.  Imagine it as a prelude to taking me on as a familiar, Maggie my dear.”

Her heart nearly skipped a beat, but she remembered Lola’s advice from the other day, and barely hesitated.  “You’re assuming I want you.”

“Are you pretending you don’t?  As partnerships go, it would be mutually beneficial.  I’m powerful enough that when I speak in that council room, everyone present listens.  Familiarhood is an out, a way to slip the shackles of exile.  To be free to leave this city.  It wouldn’t earn me fast friends, but the court can keep track of me by keeping track of my partner.  The smallest of hurdles.”

“‘Small’ is relative,” Maggie said.  “And again, you’re still assuming I want you as a familiar.  I’m not even sure I like you.”

“Everything is relative, if it’s definable,” Patrick said.  “This ring is defined very simply.  An extension of myself, a golden circle.  Gold for bounty, a circle for an aperture, a gate.  If you were to take this ring and prove you won’t abuse the ability to wield all the control over glamour I have, and if make a good showing of it, I would sign myself to you as a subordinate familiar, swearing whatever oaths are necessary to keep my power from overwhelming you.  Maybe you don’t like me, but I think you like the font of power I offer, my knowledge and skills.”

Maggie took a pull on her milkshake, as much to give herself a moment to think as to drink.  It had partially melted, and it tasted delicious.

This deal sounded delicious too, which only made her wary.

“And in exchange for this, I’m giving you…”

“Consider going to Toronto to help Mr. Thorburn, and give me my pick of one thing from inside your backpack there.  The value isn’t so important to me as the sentiment.”

“That isn’t reassuring,” she said.

“Maggie dear,” Patrick said.  She expected the glamour to hit her before it even did.  Imbued words, charming, meant to tug at her heartstrings.  He continued, oblivious or uncaring to the fact that he’d had little effect, “My primary interest here is in what is happening in Toronto.  Interest being the operative word.  Allow me to sate that interest, and I’ll embrace this uneven deal.”

“One thing from my backpack?”

“Yes.”

“Is it something I’m aware is inside?”

“I dare say it should be, barring mental defect on your part, like amnesia.”

“I’m going to look inside my bag first,” she said.  “I reserve the right to take stuff out, if I don’t want you to have it.”

“You’re considering my offer then?”  Patrick asked.  He smiled, hitting her with glamour again.  “Fantastic.”

She dismissed the glamour, dashing it aside, and dusted herself off to be sure.  Before she did anything else, she paused, making sure she wasn’t thinking strangely.

Taking full mental stock of what was going on…

She glanced back at her dads.

“They’re content,” Patrick said.  “I’ve distracted them and the man behind the counter so we can talk in private.”

“If you’re looking to win me over, messing with my dads is not the way to do it,” Maggie said.

“I’ll take note of that.  I swear to leave your parents be.”

She relaxed, and set to sorting through her bag.  The wallet was inside, and she wasted no time in removing it.  The remains of her lunch, which she really should have removed earlier… nothing of value there.

Textbooks, she could afford to lose them.  Unfinished homework… even there, she couldn’t imagine his interest.  Pens?

One nice pen her father had given her.  Sentimental value.

Patrick had said something about sentiment.  Did he want to take the pen along with the attachment to her father?  Could he?  She wasn’t sure he was capable, and he’d just sworn to keep them safe.

She set it aside, just in case.

Leaving only textbooks and notebooks.  She took her time paging through the notebook to be safe.  Half a year of notes and handouts.

She could handle the inconvenience if he took the notebook out of some idle curiosity over how humans operated, or as material to help him in his schemes.  It’d make the next semester harder, but her education wasn’t the highest priority.

“Is this a trap?” she asked.

“I harbor no animosity toward you, Maggie dear,” Patrick said.  “I find you interesting, I would tarnish myself if I suggested becoming a familiar to someone boring.  I’m motivated by interest: Maggie Holt in one hand, Toronto in the other.  Combining the two seems like common sense.”

Patrick used his hands to gesture, clasping them together as he said ‘combining’.

“Are you anticipating that this Lord-level entity I’m supposed to meet is going to trap me or otherwise act against me in some form that escapes the protection you’re offering?”

“No.”

“Are you anticipating that I’ll cause trouble by going, breaking the truce and obviating the contract with this Junior Circle?”

“Yes,” Patrick said.  “I’m disappointed, but yes.  You will bring chaos down on your head by accepting the deal, refusing the contract, and assisting Mr. Thorburn.”

“Maggie,” her dad said.

Time was out?

Maggie drummed her fingers on the counter.

“Maggie,” he said, again.

“You could probably have distracted them a bit longer,” she said.

“Yes, but I’m impatient,” Patrick said.  “Yes or no?”

Maggie drummed her fingers more.

“Yes.”

Padraic smiled.  “Your bag?”

Her heartbeat was like something else, the way it pounded in her chest.

Padraic took his time removing the content.  Textbooks and a pencil case, some tampons, a bit of loose change, her notebooks.

“Maggie,” her father said, joining her dad in the orders.

“Just go,” she said.  “I’ll catch up.  This is important!”

Her father shot her a very unimpressed look, but the door shut, and it was just Padraic and Maggie.

She made doubly sure her Athame was on hand, in case there was trouble.  She’d cut goblin hair with it, and it was probably laced enough with impurities to do some real damage to Patrick if he made a fuss.

When the bag was empty, Patrick examined it thoroughly, turning it inside out.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Satisfying my curiosity, for one thing,” he said.

“And for the other?”

“Looking,” he said.

He picked up the notebook, then paged through it.

“For?”

“This will do,” Patrick said.

He picked one piece of paper from among the various slips and handouts she’d stuck between pages, so everything fell in chronological order.

The test paper, with the underlined ‘D’ on it.

Patrick pulled his ring off.

“That?” Maggie asked.  “That’s it?”

“Not exactly,” Patrick said.

He used a ‘branch’ on the knife to swipe across the paper, once horizontally, once vertically.

He tore off one corner, “I’ll give this to you, my dear.”

She took the test paper.  Every part of it, the underlined D included, was present.  “I don’t understand.”

Patrick turned the slip of paper around so she could read it.

Maggie Holt

She felt a chill run through her.  “I don’t understand.”

“You’re repeating yourself, my dear.”

“So are you,” she retorted.  “Keep calling me ‘my dear’, it’s weird and creepy.”

She knew she sounded defensive, but she didn’t like this unease in her gut.

“What should I call you, then?”

She opened her mouth, but the name wouldn’t come forth.

It dawned on her just what a horrible mistake she’d made.

She reached for the ring, but Patrick was quick, pulling it out of reach.

“The deal-” she started.

“The deal was that the ring would go to Maggie Holt,” Patrick said.  “Maggie Holt is my name.”

His name in the possessive.

He swiveled around on the stool, then hopped down.  “And, as promised, I’ll work to ensure that the person with the name of Maggie will cross paths with the de-powered Lord when I make my visit to Toronto.  As promised, you face no risk in the process.”

Me.

“Who am I?” she asked.

It was such a dumb question, but it held so much weight.

“That is a very good question,” Patrick said, with a smile.  “I’d hurry up and answer it.  Names are a lynchpin in the composition of our being.  You’re going to suffer if you don’t fill that void.”

“You bastard.”

Padraic began cloaking himself in glamour.  Short black hair with a hairband, canted eyebrows that looked perpetually caught between anger and a frown.  A shorter, female body.

“I look forward to this,” she said, “Getting to go to Toronto.  Finally getting out of this city.  While you’re suffering for lack of a name, I’ll be shoring up my disguise.  If it makes you feel any better, I’ll help out Mr. Thorburn.”

“You said you felt no animosity.”

“I don’t.  Like I said, this is pure interest.  I have a great deal of interest in ‘Maggie Holt’, the name, but I have no strong feelings either way for you,” the new Maggie said.

“You’re a bastard,” the girl in the real checkered scarf said.

“Be sure to consider going to Toronto, lest you be forsworn on top of everything else, not that I recommend it.  You might collapse like a house of cards if you venture too far from the connections you have here,” ‘Maggie’ said.  “I have a trip to Toronto to arrange.  It’s been so long since I had a good ruse and got to practice my acting.”

The girl in the checkered scarf stared, horrified.

A moment later, she found the Athame.  She stepped close, hiding the weapon with her body until the last possible moment.

Maggie blocked it with a fork, catching the blade between the tines.

A twist, and a strike with her free hand, and the girl in the checkered scarf was disarmed of the implement.  She found a hand around one wrist and her neck, a gentle tap of heel to the back of her knee took away her balance.

Dishes spilled from the bar counter as she was pinned, facing skyward.

“This implement, if I remember the rituals right, rightfully belongs to Maggie Holt, the name is invoked as part of the ritual.  I can’t really use it, but I’ll have to make do,” Maggie said, taking her implement in hand.  “You’re already weaker, I can tell.”

The girl in the checkered scarf grunted, struggling to win the contest of strength, but the fingers tightened around her throat, punishing her.

“Don’t interrupt,” Maggie said, whispering in the other girl’s ear.  “Save your breath, and save your strength.  You’ll need both.  Like I said, you have lessons to learn.  Doors have opened to you, as they are wont to do for lost souls.”

Fuck you,” the girl in the checkered scarf spat the words, despite the fingers at her throat.

She seemed more surprised at the epithet than Maggie did.

Maggie let her go, dancing back with wallet in one hand and mostly-empty schoolbag in the other, Athame stuck in her belt.

“This is fun,” Maggie said, smiling wide.  “I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’m hoping it won’t be for a long, long time.  Bye!”

Then she was out the door, half skipping, half running.

The girl in the checkered scarf composed herself, catching her breath.

DadFather.

She collected all of her things that she could carry, stupid scattered school things, useless, then ran to catch up to them.

To Maggie’s family.

She only stopped running when she reached their back steps.

She knocked, unable to breathe past the lump in her throat.

The lack of recognition in their eyes was like a sword through her heart.

She looked like their daughter, but she wasn’t Maggie Holt.  When push came to shove, the latter won out over the former.

She was adopted, her birth mother lived in Toronto, meaning she couldn’t even claim a blood relationship.

The girl in the checkered scarf turned away before any questions could be asked.

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451 thoughts on “Signature 8.2

    1. On the upside, this means the real Maggie has a connection to Blake still, as she is currently not “Maggie Holt”, connection wise. That said, I’m currently not sure how Maggie will solve this and get her name back.

      You really have to be on your guard with trades and deals in Pactverse. Handing over a piece of paper with your name on it can equal cessation of existence 😦

    2. I’m now wondering how the exiled Faerie is possibly going to handle being a Goblin Queen. It’s a fundamental conflict of natures. We saw Maggie handling goblins in Toronto…I wonder how that was pulled off.

      The best case scenario is that Scarf was the one we saw in Toronto, having somehow regained her identity at the cost of being possessed. I can’t believe in this outcome too much, though…Wildbow has trained me too well in the art of not hoping.

          1. She also reached out for Blake’s cheek in that chapter, a classic Padriac move that we saw all the way back in 1.1.

            1. Ahhhh! Damn this is freaking me out. Although… I’ll echo my words from the first arc: Bladriac all the way.

      1. Ah, but it’s not Padraic the exiled fairy helping Blake in Toronto. It’s Maggie Holt the goblin queen, and the name proves it. As far as the universe is concerned that is Maggie Holt. No clue who the scarf girl is though.

        1. But if he only acquired the name Maggie Holt, that does not mean he lost the original one. One person can have multiple names. So even though he is Maggie Holt, he still is Padraic the exiled fairy as well.

      2. least this gets her out of the whole goblin apocalypse…now its a bored fairy’s problem and….hes totally gonna make it as bad as possible

    3. Man, I got jossed hard. Congrats to all those who guessed that contest!Maggie was faerie and not psycho queen goblin.

      And now we have both protagonists cut off from their connections, drifting through the cracks. As usual, never ask how a wilbow story can get worse. It already did.

      1. And now we have both protagonists cut off from their connections, drifting through the cracks.

        Maybe people who drift through the cracks are lost to the world but can find each other. After all, how would the rest of the world notice if they did? Hmm….

          1. I’m getting less and less certain of what Ur did to Blake, but more and more certain that it wasn’t just “he got eaten, poof, no more of that guy”.

            The Law of Conservation of Detail is a law for a reason. In Worm (and on the few occasions when it happened in Pact until now), when somebody dies we’re told so pretty unambiguously. (Sometimes we’re told after a delay, but only when the event doesn’t happen on-screen.)

            There’s too many things that look like foreshadowing, too many ambiguities of language, too many cracks left open. Hell, even Ur’s POV section is vague and ambiguous about what happened exactly.

            Not that Wildbow couldn’t pull it off if he wanted to, but it doesn’t feel like his style.

            Unless perhaps he wants to do something like make everyone remember they lost someone because of Ur, but not who, then they meet a girl with a scarf but not remember who she is, and somehow confuse the two and assume it was her they lost or something.

            (Though both she and Padraic appear to remember her history, and Isadora seems to remember enough of Blake, to be able to tell what’s what. I also get the feeling that Padraic might be willing to give her name back to Maggie, though probably at some price.)

            1. Considering Padraic’s price, we have a potential detail in this chapter: “I want freedom, I want to go home. I want sweet, cold revenge.”
              Possessing Maggie’s name only gives Padraic more freedom; if Scarf can help him with his other goals, she might be able to get her name back.

            2. Yes, likely. But I find it suspicious that (1) neither the rest of Blake, nor anything about the encounter, are mentioned from Ur’s point of view (though its’ thoughts are present in the narrative), and (2) it’s “a hand” (and an already dismembered one at that) which is crunched, not anything vital, and it’s not even explicitly said to belong to Blake (the only detail is that the hand crunched, which can refer to a broken doll as well).

              Wildbow is not usually squeamish about gruesome scenes (nor would Ur have reason to be), and he’s not this evasive when people really die in his stories. Of course he could just be messing with us on purpose.

            3. Without necessarily disagreeing with you, I’ll point out that people can break laws. Particularly laws of writing that have no authority enforcing them…

          2. In 7.x histories it mentions that void creatures can’t create anything only change it. Erasure had three new kids, it got Blake and two goblins. Blake is alive but he’s a demon now.

            1. That won’t be Blake. It’ll be a demonic being of pure evil, malice, and oblivion. It’ll be Blake in the same way a baby is the chicken it’s mother ate while pregnant.

        1. At least a couple people brought the idea that contest!Maggie was loaded with glamour (since it cracked apart when Duncan pistolwhipped her rudely) and was possessed by a faerie/Padraic.

          From a not-so-quick glance back…
          – in 7.4, greatwyrmgold had doubt about her identity and mahasim expected Blake’s healing to have a coating of glamour.
          – in 7.5, Unmaker and Kazemi predict Maggie is a glamoured faerie, coming from Padraic-shenanigans.
          – in 7.7 Unmaker and bogdanulb pointed it out again.
          – in 7.8 farmerbob1 postulates original!Maggie let a faerie possess her (to counterbalance the goblin influence).

          1. Woot! Called it!

            Although I honestly thought that it would have been Ev in her place (silly me; gender doesn’t matter for Padraic) and that it was part of Maggie’s plan and connections. Unfortunately, it’s looking like things aren’t quite that consensual.

      2. DnD teaches us faerie (read:elves) don’t have to sleep. They meditate for 4 hours a night. So Padraic!Maggie’s sleep schedule was a big clue.

        Also, agree 100% that this is a worse fate than what we’ve been lead to believe Blake’s fate is.

    1. The kid with the funny ears and his friends, who all liked the roleplaying games but hid what they were really talking about because the faculty considered.

      I suspect this sentence is incomplete.

    2. “If you were to take this ring and prove you won’t abuse the ability to wield all the control over glamour I have, and if make a good showing of it”
      if you make a good showing of it?

      Not sure if typo or deliberate, last sentence when talking about the ring:
      “I’ll give it to you for one month’s time, thirty days.”
      To you, not to Maggie Holt.

    3. Typos:
      – “He was fighting and endless battle” -> “an endless battle”
      – “Mr. Thorburn apparently intent on vigorous leaping from frying pans to fires, idiomologically speaking.” -> is apparently intent”; and I don’t think “idiomological” is a word
      – “and if make a good showing of it” -> “and if you make”

    4. You’re right, the names we get stuck with can bite, but there’s a reasoning behind it.
      either “there’s a reason” or “there’s reasoning” is more correct, but given that characters often use imperfect speech, probably written as intended.

      underarmed side
      usually under-armed side

      Athame
      from Maggies’ viewpoint, seems to be always capitalized; from other’s viewpoint, seems to be lower case, so perhaps deliberate

      Mr. Thorburn apparently intent
      Mr. Thorburn is apparently intent

    5. (talking about Buttsack. “She wanted to help, but how was she supposed to help with the rest of it if this was all she could do to help him?”

      Should that be “help with him”?

    6. Years are to a Faerie what dollars amounts are to a priceless artifact. –> dollar amounts

      fighting and endless battle –> an endless battle

      Mr. Thorburn apparently intent on –> is apparently intent on

      and if make a good showing of it, –> if ‘you’?

    7. The kid with the funny ears and his friends, who all liked the roleplaying games but hid what they were really talking about because the faculty considered.
      Sentence unfinished.

    1. Same. I just, what the hell? Oh gah, that was … jkagfagjkfdjklhkbx. NOOOOOOOO, girl in the checkered scarf!

      Fuck almost all Others that we’ve seen so far up, down, sideways, and in every conceivable way encompassed by non-euclidean geometries.

      Also, I have to say that this setting keeps feeling more and more insane as I see more of it. You can say “let me take something from your bag”, take a piece of paper with someone’s name on it, and thereby take their name and identity? I guess that ties into the emphasis on symbols (the written form of someone’s name represents their identity) and might have a little to do with the Faerie glamour.

      Oh, and I really liked ‘girl in the checkered scarf”s commentary on how this town is so utterly, horrifyingly awful and how she hinted that a lot of places with proper Lords have something at least resembling decency and cleanliness and sanity in the functioning of their paranormal public life.

      1. Also, I just realized that what Maggie said implies that Wildbow in this story is agreeing with King, that small towns are almost literally hells.

      2. I also concur that I am pretty glad to hear that the entire setting is at the very least close to Toronto at peace, where people are more or less protected and the supernatural amounts to maybe a few disappearances a year, and it’s just that Jacob’s Bell is an awful, miserable place where everything is terrible.

      3. to be honest, it’s a bit ridiculous that he can do that with such a simple deal, not mention the whole keepsies bit with the ring and her athame. If connections and meanings are key, I feel like his is pretty shallow. She explicitly notes she places no value on anything in the pack. Maybe if the card was an ID or something that directly identified her as herself, but it’s just a simple piece of paper, with something she gave no importance at any time. Would it have carried the same power if someone else had written her name on the handout for her? I know Wildbow likes to write hopeless worlds out to get you, but this is just kind of dumb. It would have made more sense if there was more staked in the deal, rather than just a ring and some considerations.

        On a side note, maybe this has something to do with how Blake comes back? She’s missing her identity, and as padraic says, “doors have opened”. We know of one identity that recently got ripped wholesale from reality. Perhaps as someone whose lost all their connections she’ll keep her knowledge of him and bring him back, maybe as a familiar or something?

        1. I believe the shallowness of Padraic’s possession is intentional, as the fairie’s whole schtick is making something out of nothing

          1. Exactly. The Fae are all about glamor and illusion. If they can convince everyone that something will work, then it will.

        2. We know of one identity that recently got ripped wholesale from reality.
          That hasn’t happened yet, though (and won’t happen for a week). The ‘5 days ago’ stamp makes me think the nameless!Maggie arc will be the following 5 days (December 21st to 25th) of not belonging anywhere and getting harassed from all sides for being a ‘newly arrived’ practitioner in Jacob’s Bell.

          Brace yourselves for the Christmas climax.

          1. It’s more that he knows how to word a deal to make it sound good to the other person, and to even let them think they found and removed the catch, before drawing them into his real snare.

            Example: This one. Here, he asked to take something in the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie’s backpack. She grabbed several things that could have given Padriac power over her or seriously inconvenienced her if taken (e.g, the pen, the wallet), but then Padriac took something she hadn’t even thought of–Maggie’s name (which was in the backpack).

            1. I believe it goes beyond simply clever wording on a deal. By any objective measure, the (now) nameless one didn’t give Padraic her name, she gave him a piece of paper with her name written on it. Not the same thing. Not even representative of the same thing.

              This goes beyond wordplay – completely redefining something like that is itself a form of magic. IMO, there’s something of the fae’s ability to magically misrepresent (ie. glamour) involved in that trick.

      4. Well, her name was in the bag, I guess. And names have power (as foreshadowed in the conversation with Elspeth – anyone know the “tragic history” of the name?)

          1. Well Elspeth the Planeswalker from Magic the Gathering was just killed off, so it could be a reference to that.

        1. I think it’s not so much a name with a tragic history as it’s a name that’s tragic for a 21st century woman to be saddled with. “Elspeth” sounds like a Magic: the Gathering card.

        2. It’s also the sort of sneaky shit Fairies pulled in old fairy tails. Makes me wonder how it would have worked if it were someone who signed with a nickname. Like signing “Bill” when your given name is actually William. And what about middle names? Did he only get 2/3 of Scarf Girls name?

      5. It probably helped that Padriac decided to act as if he’s now the rightful Maggie, and checkered scarf girl decided to go along with it. You can probably get away with a lot if you can fool your opponent into thinking you’ve already won.

        1. Yeah, this. Theatrics matter in this universe. I think she could have argued the point in much the way that someone has an opportunity to defend their own forswearing. Something like “No, you don’t have my name. Your interpretation is a stretch of the letter of our bargain and a complete violation of its spirit; my interpretation holds to both the letter and the spirit. You have a piece of paper with my name on it, and nothing more.”

          …Also, she really should have twigged when he didn’t answer “Is this a trap?” with “No.”

          1. The Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie lost her name before she caught onto what was going on, as indicated by the fact that she was confused about what was going on mere sentences before being unable to say her name. Theatrics didn’t hurt, but they weren’t the core of the thing.

            And…well…she gave Padriac the right to choose anything in her bag. Since she had written her name on at least one and likely many things in that bag, her name was in the bag. Sucks to be her.

            (Although yeah, shoulda seen that.)

  1. Oh, in this State, Maggime could be the only person able to see Blake, or by going to Molly’s Ghost, take on her identity.

    1. I don’t know about completely taking on her identity. Molly is dead, and presumably her connections died with her. The ghost that Maggie spoke to was just an echo. Taking on Molly’s identity could also be a case of jumping from the frying pan and into the fire – does Scarf really need Thorburn karma on top of her ‘Blood and Darkness’ deal? I think not.

      That said, I think it’s entirely possible that she could intentionally let herself be possessed by Molly’s echo to preempt something nastier from filling in the void. It would be characteristically twisted of a Wildbow story: The murderer, already plagued by guilt, has to harbor the ghost of her victim in order to cling to existence.

  2. Holy wow! So Maggie wasn’t possessed. This is not quite what I had expected to happen.

    I guess the both the Maggie/Whatshisface and the Padraic/Whatshisface ships just gained some fuel.

    Heh. “I am Maggie Holt” indeed.

    So checkered scarf girl is going to the place where people without connections are forced to. Who else do we know that could possibly be going there? That’s a serious question. I feel like there was a character, but I just can’t seem to remember who.

    I kinda like Padraic. He’s like faerie Joker.

    I have to agree. Maggie Holt is indeed interesting.

    I am really looking forward to the rest of this arc now. Bravo, Wildbow.

    1. Well, technically, “Maggie Holt” was possessed. It’s just that we didn’t know exactly how deep the possession went.

      1. OK. “Maggie Holt” (the name) was possessed (as in ownership). The girl Maggie Holt from Void was not possessed. She was truly Maggie, not dominated by some Other.

        1. Glamour and a name can go a long, long way – connections, appearance, behaviour, near everything that’s not a name can be wrought in glamour.

            1. Well, at the very least Supernatural bad. Angels in this setting would be the inverse of demons: bits of Creation left over, with an imperative to go on making shit.

              And really, that’s just as scary as demons. Think about it, an angel could create a connection, out of whole cloth. All of a sudden you’re working for someone you didn’t know a second ago, or you’re MARRIED to someone you didn’t know a second ago.

    1. If you’re clever enough to correctly display who Maggie Holt is and whatshisface without immediately spoiling it, I’ll be mighty impressed.

      1. If I’m clever enough to do that I’d be impressed. I’m barely keeping up with the shenanigans going on.

        All I know is that Padriac just tainted shipping Maggie with Blake and himself.

        1. Are you kidding? Assuming Blake can be rescued from his ErasUre, this is the perfect opportunity for him to marry a man who’s a bastard, an even better opportunity than Fell was!

        2. Why not just have the Maggie Holt page be linked to the name and therefor following Padriac after it is taken, and then create a separate “checkered scarf girl” page that links off from that page at this event?

    2. I advise making a separate contest!Maggie page, split the content between original!Maggie and the new one appropriately, and then link/merge/redirect that to to Padraic’s.

  3. Wildbow’s out of town, Maggie’s chilling in Jacob’s Bell, she seems to be mostly okay in the future… I didn’t expect you to pull something tonight and I let my guard down. Now I’m kind of traumatized.

      1. Heh, I stopped caring after that horrible Obarfnj fprar (that’s rot13.com btw) fprar va Jbez Naq vg qvqa’g rira raq onqyl (eryngvir gb jung pbhyq unir unccrarq)!
        I sometimes wonder, especially now that Pact is here, whether Wildbow made a deal with a demon (or Faerie) where he exchanged his empathy to attain immense writing skills. Or maybe he got tricked out of it.

        1. Wildbow is a demon. He devours the time we spend reading his works, and causes us suffering by tourturing the characters.

        2. Which scene scene?

          Or maybe he just likes writing darker fare than you’re used to. Worm and Pact don’t seem all that dark to me–more tragic than comedic, definitely, but that’s not their defining trait or anything. If I had to choose one, it would be something like “ordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations”.

  4. Signatures 1 was kinda unimpressive to me. I felt we were seeing a build up to events that we already knew about. A useless flashback. This chapter changes everything. I love it. All the things that have retroactively changed by this revelation. Looking forward to signatures.

    1. Damn it, now I have to find the time to read the entire Void act again. Hmm. Not quite a chore, though. Um. Nevermind.

      1. Eh, I’m putting it off until I reread the whole thing some time after the last chapter. Just like I did with Worm.

    2. I agree, with the caveat that Signature 1 actually threw me off, and now I’m really glad it’s taking this direction instead; I thought after 1 that each chapter was going to be paced more or less like it, including with a goblin bit (because, after all, with Maggie for a main character we need to reach that profanity quota somehow :p).

    3. Eh; Signatures 1 was a nice little breather/exposition chapter. Nice bit of fleshing-out done for Maggie and some minor characters.

    1. Things were like that from the beginning of the story. We just didn’t have enough information about the world to know it yet.

      1. If there is one thing Pact is teaching us, its that no matter how bad things look… They can always get worse.

        1. That’s why you never, ever, EVER, EVEEER, say: “How could things possibly get worse?”
          Wildbow/the world might just take that as a challenge.
          Btw, Wildbow, I know how we (me very much included) always make fun of the fact that nothing ever works out well for people we love in your stories, but we actually love it. We don’t want Blake to die, or Maggie to become the girl with the checkered scarf, but it makes it that much more interesting. Keep being awesome. Love bruh.

          1. Oh I read Worm. Plenty of things getting worse in that too. Rot 13 time.

            Jbez qbrf abg unir n unccl raqvat. Vg vf ng orfg ovggrefjrrg. 98% bs gur uhzna enpr va nyy cbffvoyr ernyvgvrf vf qrnq, naq gubfr rneguf qrinfgngrq. Grnpure vf n fzht nff qhzoshpx jub guvaxf ur’f n ybg fznegre guna ur vf, naq vf gelvat gb erperngr n Jbez. Gur Haqrefvqref zvtug trg rirelbar nsgre gurz vs gurl nera’g noyr gb svaq gur evtug jnl gb fgbc uvz. Gnlybe vf nyvir, naq ba n aba ehvarq rnegu jvgu ure sngure… Naq fur jvyy arire frr nal bs ure sevraqf ntnva, jvyy arire or noyr gb qb nalguvat gung jvyy srry nf jbegujuvyr jvgu ure yvsr ntnva, naq yrgf snpr vg, fur’f tbvat gb unir n uneq gvzr jvgu nyy ure frpergf naq rkcrevraprf sbezvat arj eryngvbafuvcf. Gurer’f n ernfba Gnlybe qvqa’g xabj vs vg jnf n erjneq be n chavfuzrag. Bu naq gur Fzhes vf fgvyy bhg gurer. Gurer ner fbzr tbbq guvatf. Abg rirelbar vf qrnq. Qentba vf serr naq fur naq Qrsvnag ner gbtrgure. Ohg guvf n abg n tynff unys shyy raqvat. Guvf vf gur tynff jnfa’g oebxra, naq ubcrshyyl pna or ersvyyrq.

            However if there is one thing I learned from Worm, it’s that things can always get better. But it will be costly. Pact is so far more brutal to it’s leads than Worm was.

            1. Gnlybe’f raqvat vf npghnyyl cerggl penccl. Vtabevat yvgrenel pbapreaf (r.t, gur ernfbaf V guvax vg znqr gur fgbel jbefr), gurer’f gur snpg gung Gnlybe unf ab vqragvgl ba Rnegu Nyrcu. Zhyy bire gung sbe n frpbaq. Abg gb zragvba, fur unf ab cynaf be tbnyf be nal cnegvphyne jnl gb npuvrir nal fur pbzrf hc jvgu. Fur’f n oevtug xvq, ohg jvgu ab uvtu fpubby qvcybzn be rira VQ, fur’f tbvat gb unir n uneq gvzr trggvat n pbyyrtr be rira n wbo ng ZpQbanyqf. Naq…jryy…Gnggyrgnyr jnf jbeevrq nobhg ure orvat fhvpvqny orsber. Abj? Vg’f orggre sbe gur jbeyq, ohg jbefr sbe Gnlybe.

              Anyways, here’s what you said in the last paragraph.
              “Yeah, Worm sucked for Taylor, but it got better. Pact is much worse to its protagonists than Worm is.”
              …Ignoring that it got better for Taylor, rira vs jvyqobj unq gb tb gb na rkgerzr yratgu gb qb fb?

            2. Do you mean in the end, or just in general?
              Anyways Taylor got a lot less of your evil just for existing, you’ll doom us all, it’s best if you hurry up and die than Blake did.

              Although I always tend of come across looking at the negative, and expecting the worse when reading Wildbow’s stuff, that’s just a way of preparing myself. That way I don’t get discouraged as much, and get pleasently surprised more. Nyy gur fuvg gung cbbe Qentba jrag guebhtu sbe rknzcyr… Jvgu frireny ubcr fcbgf vs V erzrzore pbeerpgyl, naq gura fuvg orsber Qrsvnag svanyyl sbhaq n jnl… Naq cbbe Cnaqben. Nyfb jr qvq unir n srj erqrzcgvbaf jvgu Evyrl naq Inyxlevr.

            3. One downside of using rot-13 for things is that you forget what the heck you were talking about.
              I was referring to just-in-the-end.

              My point was that it might get better for Rose than it was for Blake, even though it probably won’t (and, given Blake’s fate, I hope it won’t) get better for Blake. After all, it got better for Taylor.

            4. Jurer qvq lbh trg gur 98% sebz?gung jnf gur znkvzhz,abg gur bayl pubvpr,naq vgf vzcyvrq vg bayl nppbhagrq sbe Org (ubj pbhyq n cbjre onfrq ba frrvat cbffvovyvgvrf onfrq ba nygreangr ernyvgvrf frr gur shgher bs nyy ernyvgvrf?)

  5. What a build-up. As threat creep goes, there’s little more disturbing than finding out what one sinkhole-sized demon can do in one arc, a half-demon can almost-do in a following arc, and a bored fae can do in an even later arc.
    This chapter really throws my standards of reality for a loop.

    Really, take a full identity and its connections by taking a signature?

    And also, if Padraic fully possesses Maggie’s identity, why would her eyes look weird to Whatshisname?

    1. He didn’t take a signature, he took a name. I’m sure it wouldn’t have worked if there wasn’t a power differential and a deal; don’t forget that he needed a sworn oath where the demon didn’t.

      1. Practitioners can cloud someone’s active attention.
        The Duchamps can twist connections.
        The Urasurr voids connections, but that’s basically all it does.
        Corvidae swaps connections, but that’s all it does.
        Padraic used a deal to take a connection, with little power and a loophole that he just made a deal with himself.

        Granted, she did agree to a deal, but I’m still having issue that:

        a) The ability to break someone’s whole identity or something equally OP is becoming ever more commonplace.
        b) In a world of active powerplays like Padraic and Corvidae pulled, you’d think the world would have less to fear of Ur. As in less “Shit, he kills identities!” and more “Well yeah he takes identities, but shit we can’t kill him!”
        c) An exiled burned like no noticeable power taking an identity, just because glamour and the “gift of something.”
        d) You’d think the universe would spit more bad vibes at “So you’re promising to trade all oaths and debts and deals to someone else” or at least make it harder.

        1. When a demon takes or destroys something, it causes a whole lot more damage than it appears to at first glance, and what is lost to them is irretrievable. Nameless here could still get her name back by either cutting another deal with Padraic, or strong-arming him into returning it.

          1. Scarfgirl’s name still exists, she just doesn’t currently have it. Whatshisface’s identity seems to be gone for good.

            1. I don’t think his identity is gone; ErasUrr ate his connections on-screen, so nobody has any idea who he is except Isadora who protected herself as much as possible. Unless it got him entirely, and it’s certainly possible it did, he would still have his identity; it’s just that nobody would know what it was, save for someone who had had her connection stolen from her…

        2. The difference is Ur KILLS identities.

          Corvidae moves them around.

          Padraic moved them around.

          Ur kills identities, and those identities can no longer be retrieved. That’s the entire schtick of the demons. They destroy, and what they destroy can no longer be recovered.

          If you look at names like energy, moving them around and manipulating them is commonplace, but outright DESTROYING them would be a cause for alarm.

        3. Padraic had to go through a whole lot of trouble to get Scarf’s name. Corvidae is considered almost a demon. Ur takes connections at a massive rate, damage can’t be undone, and it completely removes everything. Scarf at least retains something.

        4. Incidentally, now that Padraic possesses Maggie’s name, does he have to fulfill all oaths sworn in her name? What about ones he doesn’t know about? When Blake was erased, Evan’s oath to die with him was forgotten and void, but I don’t see why that would apply here.

          Conversely, what about Scarf? For instance, she swore to her dads that she’d go to school, but now they kind of aren’t considered her dads anymore, right? So do either contest!Maggie or Scarf still have to fulfill that promise/oath?

          1. Judging by Madraic’s behavior, she still has to uphold the no-swearing oath whereas Scarfgirl does not. I assume that the familial karma, almost all deep connections, and oaths connected to the name/family just got transferred to Madraic.

            Which most likely includes the oath of blood and darkness, since the oath was given on a condition that her family lives. It does not include the magic ritual, since the latter is focused on the practicioner’s perception of self rather than their name or outward appearances.

            Madraic’s life is going to be interesting, that’s for sure. An identity-stealing faerie against a power-absorbing goblin: who will win?

            1. Course Padraic could go find Scarf girl, have her be Maggie Holt again, and leave her with multiple shitstorms about to rain down while he merrily goes on his way.

        5. “c) An exiled burned like no noticeable power taking an identity, just because glamour and the “gift of something.”
          d) You’d think the universe would spit more bad vibes at “So you’re promising to trade all oaths and debts and deals to someone else” or at least make it harder.”

          We don’t know how much power he burned, and I’m guessing the universe has a lot of bad vibes toward Padraic right now. That whole not liking one-sided deals? This was blatantly and massively one sided. Plus the logic of it just doesn’t work. He would have to claim he was talking about himself in the second person at one point if he doesn’t want to give Scarf his ring. Also the name was given in exchange. for “this”.

          I also note he said, “you” would face zero risk from Conquest. It would have been hilarious if Scarf had shown up and gotten involved. Maybe she could Glomp Conquest and declare Maggie forsword.

          1. If the universe views him as dealing with himself presumably it’s impossible for the deal to be one-sided.

            He might actually be immune to Padraic’s karma now that he’s Maggie Holt, anyway. The karma system doesn’t seem infallible…

    2. The way I understand it is that Padriac took Maggie’s name (which was a thing in the backpack of the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie, however nonphysical, and which was what he chose), and then used glamour and his knowledge of the name’s former owner to fill in the gaps.

    1. Psycho Goblin Lady didn’t say “Maggie” would experience blood and fire. She said “you” would. I think Maggie’s blood and fire from void/subordination was more so just Maggie trying to have fun. The checkered scarf girl will probably still have to deal with it.

      1. Worse, the round of blood/darkness/fire that contest!Maggie took part in won’t even count. There are still 2 events left.

        screams internally

        1. Scarf girl may be able to use this. If Madraic doesn’t want her curse, she could say something like “OK, you want my identity, you should have the curse too… unless you give me back everything you ever took from me” and try to make it stick with magic.

          Still, very risky. Madraic might actually want to fight with goblins. However, I bet the boss goblin from the destroyed town would give Madraic a run for his money, and scarf girl might have enough of a connection with both to sic one on the other.

            1. I disagree. I’m not even sure why it’s needed–I mean, he didn’t give the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie his name or anything.

          1. Problem: Padriac doesn’t have the identity of the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie, he has her name. Her former name, whatever. Point is, he only gets what comes with the name (and what he can fake with glamour). As noted, it wasn’t said that “Maggie Holt” would face the curse, it was stated that “you,” as in the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie, would. Just like the parts of the promise aimed at “you” didn’t stick while the ones aimed at “Maggie Holt” did, this plan would fail.

      2. On the other hand, Scarfgirl swore the oath in exchange for her family’s lives. Which means that all of Holts go free, and in exchange Maggie Holt was to experience two more rounds.

        That said, given that Madraic thrives on drama and cares nothing for collateral damage, he would probably regard the oath as a good thing.
        I mean, he is fated to confront a badass monologue-happy evil overlord, who also happens to be a natural enemy of his species, in the middle of a city on fire. Things don’t get much more theatrical than that.

        1. On the other hand that ambassador didn’t like having his limbs amputated by a table, and that was pretty dramatic.

          As Mel Brooks said: “Comedy is when you slip on a banana peel. Tragedy is when I fall down a manhole cover and die.”

          1. Dramatic, yes. But theatrical? Poignant? Not quite. Having limbs amputated by a table lacks a certain poetry.

      3. Padraic didn’t just take Maggie’s name, he took her identity.

        I think we can reasonably safely assume that particular “you” transferred to Padraic along with Maggie’s inability to swear. He’s Maggie. She isn’t.

      1. I think holiness has an aspect of perception to it. A particularly exceptional bottle of wine might take on a holy quality for a priest of Bacchus, and Pauz may very well devote himself fully to the right shit.
        I don’t know that I would argue the point after awakening, but there is a point there to be argued.

    1. “Really!?” she asked. “I did not mean anything rude! Not even close! And how does that count!?”

      Hah. Maggie can’t swear. Padraic is not used to this. Girl-in-checkered-scarf can swear.

        1. Clearly the inability to be rude and swear will prove too much for Padriac and he’ll track down scarf girl and beg her to take her name back.

      1. Void 7.11 again:

        “That’s right,” Maggie said. She was standing with her back to the car and the factory both, bundled up, not even willing to look in the general direction of the factory. She kept talking, injecting false confidence into her voice. “If it was easy to puzzle them out, humans would have worked it all out a long time ago. But no, you wind up with stuff like this.”

        (Emphasis mine). Padric is so scared of Ur s/he’s actually letting his act slip. The fae must be extremely vulnerable to demons, or at least those from the Darkness Choir.

        1. In case it’s not very clear due to the formatting, the emphasis I added is on “humans” and the last “you” of the quote.

          Also, in that same conversation, s/he paradoxically seems to have the most genuinely human emotions. It was mentioned earlier that faeries, even if they’re really good at glamour, are also liable at starting to believe it themselves. I wonder if Padraic might have bit more than s/he could chew when taking the Maggie name, and became a bit more human than s/he intended in the bargain.

          Random thought: what if the name stealing and associated connection splicing also redirects the Ur’s effects? It makes a sort of twisted sense, that if you’ve fallen between the cracks in reality, a virus eating along the connections might not reach you; it could also explain Maggie-Padraic’s fear. Maggie might actually remember Blake after all this.

          (Note her connections were broken asymmetrically: she could remember and recognize her parents, but they could’t see her.)

          1. Oh, I like this. Theory: the “becoming a bit more human” bit is deliberate, as he wants to feel mortal, to make things interesting again.

          2. The bit about “Oh, some of the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie’s connections were screwed up, she’ll remember Blake” is driving me up a wall.

            The connections were severed from Blake’s side, days later, and have nothing to do with the name of the other person. Or the name of the victim, for that matter. I don’t know what in the Choirs makes you all think that.

            1. The bit about […] is driving me up a wall.

              Dude, you need to chill out 🙂

              I don’t know what in the Choirs makes you all think that.

              Void Histories 7.x:

              The wrongness […] lanced through Isadora, and she did what she could to distribute it[…] It didn’t wound her awareness as it did the others.

              She remembered, at least in part. […]

              It helped that she hadn’t maintained a close connection, that she hadn’t been on a first name basis with him, and that the impact she had made on him had already been partially erased […]

              One by one, they stopped running, no longer pulled along by the connection that was supposed to bind them to Rose’s counterpart.

              Signatures 8.2:

              “Who am I?” she asked. […]

              Names are a lynchpin in the composition of our being. […] You might collapse like a house of cards if you venture too far from the connections you have here […] Doors have opened to you, as they are wont to do for lost souls. […]

              The lack of recognition in their eyes was like a sword through her heart. […] She looked like their daughter, but she wasn’t Maggie Holt.

              The quotes from Signatures suggest that the name-stealing business works at least in part by moving name-related connections from Scarf to Padraic. (If for no other reason, because pretty much every significant perception-related effects we’ve seen in Pact appears to require the manipulation of connections.)

              Interestingly, Scarf recognized her parents, but they didn’t recognize her, which suggests some asymmetry in whatever went wrong with her connections.

              The part about the “doors” and “lost souls” suggests that such having one’s connections rerouted might also have enable one to do stuff we haven’t seen yet. (Yes, faerie are born bullshitters, but they tend to twist things rather than lie, especially in Pact.)

              Isadora’s section from Void Histories suggest that Ur’s destruction follows paths of connection, and weaker, faded, or “erased” connections tend to make it less effective.

              Thus, given that connections towards Maggie don’t seem to reach Scarf, it isn’t completely unthinkable that most of Ur’s effects went to Padraic instead. (Even if Scarf was touched, which she probably was, the effects could conceivable be much less grave.) Together with the “open doors” comment, and the fact that pretty much everything we know about “lost souls” and “people that fell through the cracks” we’ve learned from the perspective of the rest of the world, it’s not implausible that Wildbow has something like that at the ready.

              (Think about it: In real life, we don’t believe in the existence of Others because we see no reliable evidence of them. In Pactverse, this is explained by the Others hiding themselves from muggles. Also in Pactverse, people who fell through the cracks or fell victim to Ur are believed to no longer exist, because no reliable evidence of them is seen. This might also be explained by them being hidden or not noticed rather than non-existent.)

              Note that I emphasized suggest above, twice. None of this is iron-clad evidence, but it’s enough to speculate for fun, and especially so given Wildbow’s masterful sprinkling of foreshadowing. (Hell, he foreshadowed Pact in Worm, and he wasn’t even sure he would do Pact. I bet there’s pieces of his other “prototype” stories in there—and maybe here as well.)

              Trying to figure out from foreshadowing what the author plans, and the author planning something unexpected that also fits with the foreshadowing in retrospect is a very pleasant game for some. There’s no reason to get worked up about it.

            2. The thing is, not being on a first-name basis just means Isadora doesn’t typically refer to Blake by his first name. It’s also implied (at least, I thought it was) that Isadora’s ability to vaguely remember Blake was in large part due to her purpose or something to that effect. Regardless, the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie was on first-name basis with Blake, would have called Blake by his first name if he hadn’t been eaten before they met again (and vise versa if she still had a first name), and she lacks any particular defense or even significant power. Saying that “Isadora kinda remembers, so TPFKAM might” is like saying “a tank wasn’t completely destroyed, so an ant might survive”.

              And my problem with it is twofold. One, it means that instead of having an interesting variety of interesting debates, I just have to keep pointing out the same issues with the same theory. Two, I’m worried that if enough people clamor for Blake to be remembered or come back, he will. The reasons why this would be bad have been adequately explained va gur Raq Vagreyhqr, ersreevat gb Gnlybe but the same applies here.

            3. Regardless, the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie was on first-name basis with Blake, would have called Blake by his first name if he hadn’t been eaten before they met again (and vise versa if she still had a first name), and she lacks any particular defense or even significant power.

              The main point of my argument was that TPFKaM’s connections have been asymmetrically broken. I.e., while she might address a hypothetically living Blake by name, that same Blake might not, nor even recognize her. And since Ur’s damage was described in a way that suggested it followed connections from Blake outwards, it’s plausible she might be (partly) protected, despite not having any relevant skills or powers.

              It helps if you think of Ur in the Astrologer’s terms, i.e. as a virus rather than a bomb. Once triggered, a powerful bomb can be countered only with powerful defenses. A virus can be devastating, but they are relatively simple, and can often be defended against by relatively cheap measures or even accidentally. (Most computer viruses, no matter how awful, can be completely countered by disconnecting your computer from the internet, or—more pertinent for our case—by preventing any inbound connection. The analogy even extends to biological viruses and other parasites; there are cases where an otherwise harmful mutation can protect an organism from much worse diseases.)

              All that part about Isadora and the names were arguments meant only to justify why the connections (and thus their asymmetry) could be relevant to Ur’s attack.

            4. I’m still not buying it. First off, I’m not buying the whole “one-directional connections” thing. The Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie recognizes her dads, but that’s because she knows what the hell just happened (and they are still her dads), while said dads don’t know what was going on, and the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie is no longer what they thought of when they thought of her. Also, there was another Maggie already there, and there can’t be two.

              Moreover, if only connections going from Blake outwards were destroyed, why would people remembering Blake (presumably connections going from the rememberer inwards) be affected?

            5. I’m still not buying it.

              Well, if you scroll a bit to where this started, you were wondering why would the commenters think Maggie might remember Blake. I was only arguing that from the little we know about the rules, one can imagine a plausible explanation for it. I never claimed that it is a proof, just that it’s not unreasonable to speculate about it.

              Moreover, if only connections going from Blake outwards were destroyed, why would people remembering Blake (presumably connections going from the rememberer inwards) be affected?

              Well, my working “theory” was that connections are almost always bi-directional (a fact Ur exploits), but there are also rare exceptions, such asTPFKaM’s situation (which Ur’s power might not hadle).

            6. If you mean why I personally thought there might be exceptions, I’m not sure I remember exactly, but I think it was because Blake seemed to remember there were people outside the factory when Ur ate chopped the connection, while those outside (except for Isadora) didn’t seem to remember much of anything, not even that there was someone inside. Which I took as an example of an asymmetric connection, even though I wasn’t sure how much Blake could remember.

              Also, at one point one of the Duchamps girls tricks the school principal with a one-sided “connection”, though now I’m not sure if that happened early enough in the story (8.1?) to contribute.

          3. People keep likening this to what happened to Blake, but it’s not, really. Blake had his connections to everyone severed. Maggie had her identity taken. The connections are all still there and haven’t been tampered with. Someone’s just updated the DNS server and assigned “Maggie Holt” to a different address..

        2. Also, Subordination 6.9:

          “Not too heartless,” Maggie said. “That would mean demons, and I don’t think anyone here wants demons.”

          S/he might be more sincere than it looks.

        3. Well, if you are thousands of years old and almost immortal, something that can erase you along with all memory of your existence is bound to be scary. You might think it’s scary for humans, but every one of us expects to bite it in a few short years anyway, generally with little chance of lasting influence on the world.

          1. I think just about everything is terrified of First choir demons. Unless your really, really, really stupid.

            1. Wait, that… no, actually I can’t see any reason to disagree. Even the Pactverse agrees: Blake is The Fool drawn with the right hand 🙂

            2. Hey, Blake was scared shitless of demons in general and ErasUrr in specific. It’s just that he couldn’t just ignore them after seeing the damage they do.

            3. Oh Blake was scared of ErasUrr. He wasn’t stupid. But ErasUrr was much bigger, and much sneakier than anyone realized. Lack of information.

          2. Good point. But the Padraic (and the fae in general) are both powerful and confident, almost irresponsible, when facing other dangers. If he’s so scared of this, I don’t think it’s just because of the consequences of the danger, but because he knows he’s vulnerable to it.

            1. Faerie work by fooling their enemies, since glamour is their element after all; looking powerful and confident is a great way to do that. But (I think we can assume) it’s completely useless against Ur. Hence, consciously or not, they drop the act around them. That’s how I’d interpret this.

            2. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what you are. ErasUrr eats you all the same. Glamour doesn’t help there because it’s eaten too.

        4. They’re probably vulnerable to demons the way that bears are vulnerable to heat-seeking antitank missiles: No more so than anything else, but that’s more than enough.

          1. Yeah, that is probably part of the cause. But still, Padraic seemed to be somewhere between relaxed and enthusiastic with respect to being around other dangerous things.

            A bear is also vulnerable to high-caliber rifles and flame throwers, so in this analogy Padraic would be more like a tank. (Also, Ur might be closer to a nuke.) But it’s still strange that Isadora only realized the danger of Ur after Padraic already ran away. And she’s supposed to be very attuned to balance and sensitive to demons’ stink.

            Which suggests that Padraic either already knew of Ur specifically (not terribly unlikely, now that I think about it), or he’s for some particular reason much more careful around and better at detecting demons than sphinxes, which are the most demon-opposed creature we’ve yet seen.

            1. It’s also possible that whatever binding bound the demon hid its power from a brief observation, and that Padriac either looked harder first or was better at breaking through that kind of obscuring measure. Or he was closer and so it didn’t affect him as much.

              It says something, but I’m not sure it says something significant.

    2. “You were calling me a friend? That makes me feel things. I don’t have many flesh and blood buddies, you know.”

      Aw. I wonder what feelings Padraic is feeling. Probably not positive ones.

    3. Remember Void 7.8? They bound Conquest using the blood of a freed man, the pages of book used to bind Pauz, now freed, and the hair of Rose, conquered and freed.

      Maggie tied the knots with locks of Rose’s hair.

      How did they get the hair out of the mirror? The only one we’ve seen accessing the mirror-world (other than Conquest, Ur, and some Rose’s summonings, none of which were there or willing to help), was Padraic.

      The biggest mind-fuck is that nobody asked how the hair got out of the mirror at the time. Not only in-story, but not even the comments asked about that.

      1. An amazing catch!
        (That said, when corporeal Rose was freed from Conquest’s domain due to the rules of the competition, her body immediately dissolved and she moved to the mirror again. So while I can see how Padraic could get Rose’s hair from the mirror world, I don’t see why it endured.)

      2. I don’t remember clearly, but I think I thought they bound him in the mirror with the hair. Like, bound in the mirror, with hair that existed in the mirror.

        1. The quote is right there:

          Maggie tied the knots with locks of Rose’s hair.

          Regardless of where the knots are with respect to the mirror’s surface, it’s telling that Maggie tied them, when the only things we’ve seen enter the mirror are Padraic, Ur and Conquest. (I think Bloody Mary was there as well, but she was already associated with mirrors.)

    4. From Void 7.9.

      we were lined up against the wall, Maggie by the toolbox at the dining room table, with one eye on the kitchen

      Half a chapter later:

      Conquest, who was in an ignoble location, in the bottom half of my double-decker toolbox, not five feet from me.

      Those are the only two occurrences of the word “toolbox” in that chapter, BTW. (Including the comments!)

      1. Ouch. Hm. Padraic would certainly find it interesting to rekindle the conflict.

        On the upside, he did tell Scarf that “If it makes you feel any better, I’ll help out Mr. Thorburn”. On the downside, Blake was erased and this promise is void; and even if it wasn’t, his promise to “help out” would already have been fulfilled at this point, so he could still free Conquest to harm Blake later.
        Then again, Padraic is now in some sense “Maggie Holt”, and faeries do seem to relish acting, so it’s very possible that he won’t do this stuff because original!Maggie wouldn’t.

        (More importantly, the Conquest arc was so long that I really, really, really don’t want Conquest to return.)

        1. I doubt Padraic would just release Conquest on a whim.

          On the other hand, he might have other uses for an incarnation of conquest, what with being exiled and wanting revenge and all…

        2. “(More importantly, the Conquest arc was so long that I really, really, really don’t want Conquest to return.)”

          Agreed. The only way I’d ever want to even see Conquest again is.

          Blake is in his apartment. Something happens to free Conquest.
          Conquest- “At last I am free! Now I will crush you Blake Thorburn!”
          Blake- “Oh it’s you. I don’t have time for this, I’m dealing with important things.” Blake casually rebinds Conquest with one hand.

          1. I really don’t want Blake, or Rose, to reach the point where they can just bind major spirits without really paying attention. wildbow seems to be at his best when he’s writing characters scrambling for power in an unforgiving world. Check Worm. Almost the whole time, Taylor’s trying to get one kind of power or another (experience, reputation, allies, whatever) for one goal or another. The chapters where this fades in exchange for mere high-power beatdowns…probably some of the weaker ones, definitely would have been if they had kept up for a few arcs running.

            1. Yes, but… Gnlybe vzcebirq fvtavsvpnagyl va cbjre naq fxvyy bire gur pbhefr bs gur fgbel – vg’f whfg gung gur qvssvphygl yriry bs gur bccbfvgvba rfpnyngrq rira snfgre.

              Va gur ortvaavat, Gnlybe fgehttyrq ntnvafg gur yvxrf bs Hore, Yrrg naq Onxh, Bav Yrr naq Fxvqznex naq gur Zrepunagf. Unq gurl ernccrnerq gbjneqf gur raq bs gur fgbel, bqqf ner tbbq fur jbhyq’ir zbccrq gur sybbe jvgu gurz nf rssbegyrffyl nf fur qvq Gbcfl.

              Vs Cnpg sbyybjf gur fnzr fbeg bs guerng rfpnyngvba nf Jbez, ol gur raq Oynxr jvyy or infgyl zber pbzcrgrag naq frevbhfyl bhg-thaarq ol gur shyy-syrqtrq Ryqre Tbqf ur’f gelvat gb svtug. Vs Pbadhrfg ernef uvf urnq ntnva ng gung cbvag V jbhyq rkcrpg Oynxr gb rssbegyrffyl fznpx uvz qbja.

            2. I suppose that the question is if this power escalation would be more like in Worm, or more like in Dragon Ball.

        3. Looks like my worries about Padraic were unfounded.
          Subordination 6.09:
          “I gotta ask. Are you doing anything nefarious here?”
          “There’s no real malice or hostility in my heart, honest. I’m here because it’s a way to improve my personal situation, because I don’t like guys like the Lord of the City, or even the idea of Lords in general. Besides, it’s a heck of a lot more interesting than sitting in podunk nowhereville and going to high school.”

          So Padraic might even end up bullying Conquest. An amusing prospect.

    5. Damages 2.6:

      “Kriss-style athame. It’s used a lot in Wicca, but that’s more because this one guy was a blade aficionado. I like it more for its roots as a sacrificial blade. [… I like the old stuff, the mysteries, the biblical stories about God as a deity of sacrifice and blood. It resonated with me.”

      Void 7.11:

      “how did you put it, Maggie? […] When I asked about your implement?”
      She drew and flourished her athame with a measure of skill that suggested an easy sort of familiarity with the tool. “It’s not a weapon, exactly, it’s something that you use to deliver the coup de grace once you’ve got your opponent.”
      “Not that,” I said.
      “It fits me? It resonates with me?”

      The first part was apparently pure bullshit (though whatshisname doesn’t notice apparently), but she did get the “resonates” part right. Hmm.

    6. Bit of a hint in Histories 7:

      Isadora looked for Maggie, but Maggie was gone, and had been for some time.

      1) Isadora didn’t notice when “Maggie” left, although she’s supposed to be more observant than that.

      2) “Maggie was gone, and had been for some time.” can mean more than one thing, one of which is only clear in retrospect after this chapter.

      1. Concerning 2): as far as we know, Isadora has never seen original!Maggie, so I’m not sure about that interpretation.

        1. I didn’t mean that Isadora thought about the second interpretation, I meant that Wildbow probably worded it that way on purpose for us readers.

          (Though one might also argue that Isadora thought of it that way because, with her innate sense for balance and destiny, she could see the “name didn’t fit the person”, though perhaps unconsciously. Who knows how Freudian slips work for a Sphinx Haruspex. Interesting, I was sure Isadora was called that in the text on my first read, but I can’t see that mentioned anywhere except in a comment now.)

    7. Subordination 6.10:

      “The goblin catching expedition was a wash,” she said. “I have my gremlins, and some Faerie tricks I’ve picked up, but that’s it.”

      “Faerie and Goblins are usually opposing,” Fell said. “Allying or borrowing the help of one usually scares off the other. A feud dating back thousands of years, even. It’s surprising you’re able to balance the two.”

      “I know,” Maggie said. “But I hate goblins, and that counts for something for at least one Faerie.”

      That did sound suspicious at the time. Later down:

      Maggie – Maggie was just as problematic, but for different reasons. A touch too young for my conscience. What I could see of her without looking right at her was surprising. She was second only to Rose, and Rose was pretty much an astral body made solid, Maggie was the most intense to look at. She was something wild and restless, her hair tangled and bristled like a briar bush, eyes dark, slightly thinner than she was in reality, her fingertips and ear tips were pointed.

    8. This happens in mostly chapters, but it’s most obvious in Subordination 6.8: whathisname seems to be the least oblivious with respect to Maggie. He feels something’s wrong from the start and he keeps noticing things are off. Even when it’s others that tell him, e.g., that she’s not sleeping, they tend to find justifications, but he can connect the dots.

      It might be just that he has the strongest connection to her, but I wonder if it’s related to his apparently remarkable facility with glamour. He broke through it a bit too easily (in retrospect) in his duel with the faery familiar, and could use it easier than expected afterwards.

      Perhaps it’s because the fae are particularly vulnerable to demons, and the presence of the demon lawyer lady helped him in the duel. (Alternatively, the presence of Rose and her demon-mediated origin might have helped. Interestingly, Ur is from the Darkness choir, the barber is as well, and from what we’ve been told of the costs for joining the lawyers—loosing one’s name and identity—it seems their patron would also be of Darkness.) Then when he took his prize from the defeated faerie, he might have unconsciously taken not only her glamour, but (part of) her ability to use it.

    9. And just a bit of fun foreshadowing in Subordination 6.7:

      “She’s Maggie?” Tiff asked.

      “I’m not sure,” I said. “Are you Maggie?”

      “Oh boo on you, Blake. You do not want to hear the trouble I went through to be here. Yes, I am Maggie Holt.

      I relaxed some. “Are you compelled? Otherwise enchanted?

      “No and yes. I’m dressed up in my finery, so to speak. Ready to fight in your war.”

      Heh 🙂

    10. Void 7.11 once more (emphasis mine):
      “But I think you’re interesting, at the very least. The world might even be a better place with you in it, and there isn’t enough of that these days.”
      Padraic’s enemy is boredom, so he values interesting people. And “these days” refers to his long lifespan.

      Later on, though, contest!Maggie says “I don’t even know why I came”, and then “This isn’t my thing. Being on the sidelines, being the side character”.
      And I’m not sure whose words those are. Are these supposed to come from Padraic’s personality? Or from acting like Maggie?

      Still later, Blake enumerates: “Maggie, my friends, Rose” – I originally found that weird because Blake once said he considered Rose to be a friend; I’m not sure how he usually referred to Maggie, but if he did call her a friend, that enumeration would be another hint.

      And later: “I really want to give you a kiss on the cheek,” she said. “But I can’t, can I?”
      I think this was mentioned already, but it parallels (mirrors, hah) 1-5:
      Ev: “I’ll settle for him giving me his apologies. Perhaps a kiss on the cheek?”
      And later in 1-5, Padraic kisses Rose on her forehead.
      (As an aside, considering people discuss the word “bastard” as swear word vs. descriptive word somewhere above, in that chapter Laird also says “Oh, I’m a little bit of a bastard,”)

      And then there’s the cut-off sentence “Maggie, on the other side of the” – which might just be a typo, or contest!Maggie escaping his attention with a tricky use of glamour, or it could even mean something like “Maggie, on the other side of the veil”, and refer to Scarf being in some sense present after having fallen through the cracks of the world.

  6. I think the biggest question is. . . How will this affect the Maggie Holt young adult series? Surely the kids wouldn’t like a POV switch mid story!

    1. Irony, shaped into a hammer. Forged in a Spanish church.

      With teeth that frenzily chomp on your posterior end when you least expect it.

    2. I’m guessing that the young-adult-novel series would follow the character rather than the name. I’m also guessing that, sooner or later, the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie will get her name back, likely to your relief given your previous response to that title.

  7. I just reread the previous chapter, and am confused. Patrick shows up there, and Buttsack is being bound for the first time. I don’t get it.

    1. I don’t understand what confuses you. The previous chapter takes place before this one. Can you clarify what doesn’t make sense?

        1. He lasted at least 3 since meeting Conquest. He was given 3 days to deal with Pauz, the Hyena, and ErasUre, right? Then 1 day spent on the battlefield, and maybe a day in transit to Toronto, or a day spent milling around before meeting Conquest or something.

      1. I take this as a flashback from nameless!Maggie’s point of view. ‘Now’ is Boxing day, she’s face-deep into shenanigans, and reminiscing how that mess got started.

        1. Nope. This chapter is in 3rd person unlike the Blake chapters. This is not Maggie telling us her story, it’s the narrator (presumably the same one as in ‘Histories’) telling us about what happened to Maggie. Maggie’s POV would be in first-person.

  8. I think Pact has a new power trio! Whatshisface, Checkered scarf girl and that Knight Kid’s Provably Girlfriend. Hopefully they’ll make a team together beyond the cracks.

    1. Well, one is still in the real world, one is probably “under” or “beside” the real world (whatever that might mean), and one is either in thrall or the stomach of a major demon. Aside from a mild thematic thing, I don’t see it happening.

  9. Well played Padraic, well played. So will the darkness and fire follow the new Maggie? Might lead to Padraic’s downfall.

    Hopefully that gold coin saves Scarf girl. Can Maggie make a new ritual? Can she choose her new name? Can she make new connections?

    I hope the next chapter follows “Maggie” and Scarf girl.

    Something tells me a Padraic and Rose alliance is possible.

  10. I don’t why but everytime things get worse in Pact, I just like it more and more. As soon as you get to like Maggie a bit BAM, she gets done for. A shame.

    Buuuut there’s a silver lining in all this. And that is that now Padraic has inherited the prophecy and that will be joyous. Too bad about Maggies’ parents.

    1. Padriac swore to leave Maggie’s parents be, but given that Maggie has a father, a dad, and a mom, I have no idea who that oath covers.

        1. Except that doesn’t work, because new!Maggie is bound by old!Maggie’s oaths, including the ones to go to school and tell her dads about what she’s been up to. Add one more broken oath and maybe checkered scarf girl can declare Maggie three times forswarn and take everything Madriac has?

          1. I think it’s fair to say that we don’t know just what all Padriac took, but Occam’s Razor suggests that he only took her name (covering the rest with glamour), and that either…
            A. …the promise she made not to swear went something like “I, Maggie Holt…” (thereby connecting it to the name), or…
            B. …Padriac set up some kind of magical reminder to not blow his cover.

            This would suggest that he didn’t take all of her oaths and whatnot, just those tied to the name.

            1. His “blood and fire “comments indicate otherwise

              Also,why would other things,like connections,be tied to the name?I think he took something more intristic to her personality,as far as the world is concerned,that you indicate.

            2. Which comments?
              The name is an intrinsic part of her. Disregarding the importance of names in many mythic/literary predecessors, how many people that you know well do you not think of by name?

            3. “lets go make some blood and fire”
              If the…interesting fate was not tied to the name,his desire to do so would not really exist.

          2. When asked about school, new!Maggie said she had some “elbow room” or something like that. My interpretation post name-change-reveal is that Padraic is mentioning the litigatable difference between him being Maggie Holt and him not actually being the one to swear that to Scarf’s dads.

    2. It always gets worse because Wildbow… I mean, we’ve been through 7 whole arcs of shit going down now… Murphy’s Law is even stronger than Karma here.

  11. I’m a bit confused about the chronology. The Grand Theft Maggie event clearly takes place after last chapter, yet this chapter begins with “Five days ago…”. Maybe this was originally meant to be Signature 8.1, or (unlikely) maybe the Behaims are doing some time fudgery?

    Also, goshdarn, is The Girl In The Checkered Scarf in some deep poop. Her fate is arguably worse than Whatshisname’s, with the only bright spot being that she has a chance to come back from this. Here’s hoping we see her rally back and kick Maggie Holt’s butt.

    I imagine that Scarf will be running around next chapter trying to anchor herself to the world. Irrelevantly, I’m amusing myself by imagining her pinning her identity to ‘Milkshakes and Poutine’, similar to how The Doctor once clung to ‘Fish Fingers and Custard’.

    1. There’s a section break between the section starting “Five days ago” and the one at the poutine joint. In the latter section, she mentions Buttsack. I read it as a flashback from her POV, which simplifies things.

      1. In the first section she discusses the contract, so both sections take place after last chapter. It seems like the chronology is straightforward (8.1 -> 8.2 Section 1 -> 8.2 Section 2), so I don’t see why “Five days ago” is even present.

        1. Chapter 1 of signature takes place five days before the end of Void (the great de-Blakeing).

          This chapter continues on from Signature 1 and I believe it takes place the next day or so. (Original Maggie spent some time considering the contract with the Duchamps/Behaims – That presumably took a day).

    2. What is Maggie’s middle name? Madriac didn’t take that, and it’s at least something to call her other than “girl with the checkered scarf”.

            1. I’m pretty sure Glassware is right. I’ve been consistently noticing “bastard” used apparently without consequence, and “fuck” is a definite deviation there.

        1. It does seem to depend more on what the spirits consider rude; there’ve been instances (I couldn’t tell you where and which words,) of Maggie saying something that could be taken rude, and not being able to even though her actual meaning didn’t match the rude interpretation. So it’s more the spirits’ interpretations than Maggie’s.

  12. WIIIIIILDBOOOOOOW! D:

    Aaaah. Stop fucking up the lives of everyone I like :< Next thing we know, Evan is going to be the next protagonist of Pact and he is going to suffer unimaginably. Then Alexis, Ty, Tiff et cetera.

    More seriously, what a twist. This explains Maggie's great knowledge in binding, deflecting bullets and healing. So Blake was healed with glamour and nobody knew, which is why it worked. It is also suggested that the new Maggie had a meeting with Conquest from which she could learn. Maggie did meet with Conquest, yeah, but I fail to see how it benefited her.

    I find the narration very enjoyable. I really liked how Maggie was thinking along certain lines and then changed her mind twice in the narration. I also like how she differentiates between her parents by calling them dad and father. On that note, where is her mum?

    Finally, this could be observational bias, but are all Others such dicks? If Others grow to be very old and bored with the world, one would imagine some would actually try to help humans, if only to sate their curiosity. I can see how our sample is biased, though, since bad deeds are easier to spot than good ones.

    1. So, you said something that really caught my imagination just now, and that was “Blake was healed with Glamour”.

      Does that mean that, after Blake comes back, if he does so, “Maggie” can just remove said Glamour from his body and cause the wounds to manifest again?

      1. I thought glamour became real if enough people believed it was real. So everyone believed Blake healed nicely, and he did.

  13. Lesson learned. Only deal with Fae when you have allies along to break the tricky bastards. The Duchamp from earlier in the story had the right idea bringing a troll to the table.

      1. The Fae seem to have a drive to prove their better, especially that they are more clever, than anyone else. They’ll always go for the subtle complicated plan. Sandra decided to counter that by getting the proverbial sledgehammer, and beating the truth out of the ambassador.

  14. Maybe Rose and Corvidae can make Maggie’s parents feel parental attachment to the checkered scarf girl. Though I’m not exactly sure how Corvidae works, perhaps Padraic it too powerful.

    Any chances this backfires on Padraic and he gets stuck in the Maggie form because everyone in town believes she/he is Maggie. Still, I think he isnt coming back for awhile. He has to make plots without fae keeping tabs on him. Hopefully he didnt steal the conquest mirror since she took off before everyone.

    1. I thought of Corvidae, too. Supposedly, he can only rewire connections between objects and people, or something. So he might not be able to generate parental attachment. But apparently, names (or signatures) are possessions now, so maybe Rose can use Corvidae to rewire the name to Scarf, until it returns to her?

    2. It can also backfire on Padraic because if he took all the things of Maggie’s identity… Well not all of them are going to be fun. Interesting yeah, but some things are much more fun to watch from the sidelines, and not fun at all to be in the thick of. Like what if Goblin Bitch Queen proves more than he can bite off?

      1. I’d say it is worth the trouble. Padraic was exiled to Jacob’s Bell for eternity. He got really bored. Now he has opportunities to do something else, even if that gets him hurt or killed.

  15. Well. This explains a lot and makes it more interesting, at the same time. Well played, Wildbow. Well played.

    On the plus side, at least there isn’t a smidgen of doubt that Padraic is operating off classical fae rules. That name-taking deal only makes sense through their very particular approach to things, and I’m surprised to see it done so well. Of course, that also means he’s a scary powerful one.

    Is it just me, or does it seem like he wants Maggie to still be alive when he comes back? I don’t think he’s done with her just yet… 😦

  16. No, no, no. This is not right. You cannot claim that a piece of paper with a name written on it is the same as the name itself. That is simply not a sane way to understand the world. Fundamental concepts break if you do that. It’s the same as if he took a map of Toronto from her and claimed he now possesses Toronto itself.

    Sorry, Pact has suddenly gotten much worse. You completely broke my willing suspension of disbelief.

    1. Maggie doesn’t own Toronto, though. Conquest does. Maggie does own her name. And deals that she makes are binding.

    2. this is completely in line with how fae in folklore operate though. There was once a story where the illegitimate son of one of the fae lords stole his holdings by using a literal meaning to the words of an agreement to let him be lord of his lands for “a night and a day” which he argued was every day since all of them consist of “a night and a day”

    3. It was quite jarring for me as well, but the rules set up in previous chapters have helped soften the blow. It’s well established that words have power in the Pactverse, and names doubly so.

      Pactverse also runs on the power of BS interpretations. I want to believe that if The Girl In The Checkered Scarf had called Padriac out on it then and there, she could have reclaimed her identity and shattered the glamour.

        1. While he did say that he offers “Maggie Holt” the ring, he later added that “I’ll give it to you for one month’s time, thirty days”. So I think Scarf could have pressed the issue and gotten the ring – then proceeded to drain all of the glamour out of it so that Padriac can’t look like her.

            1. His later statements regarding the ring makes it seem like ‘owner’ and ‘holder’ are synonymous in this case. Either way, I sincerely hope that the spirits who enforce deals would devour anyone who tried that stunt.

    4. The heart of Pact is symbolism. One thing can stand for another, a small gesture goes a long way, and abstract things like reflections or names can be given a measure of concrete reality.

      Padraic bargained for a name, though checkered scarf girl never knew it, and because that is how the symbols of things work, he won and claimed it. It’s like the geometric circles binding demons – that stands for order, and so it repels much greater forces of chaos.

      So, if Maggie had owned a title such as Lord making her the nominal owner of a city, you could perhaps take from her the title.

      The other thing to consider is the abstraction of the concept of a name. Toronto is a real thing – a place of steel and glass and music on the deep lake’s shore. Take a map freely given by one who owns it, and perhaps you could gain some measure of power over the place, but a name is different. Written, it is both a representation of itself and the thing itself. Though it can be distributed among many places, the abstraction itself remains fluid, yet whole. So, when one piece of it is traded away, the rest follows, taking certain aspects of character and connection with it like fishing net dragged away by a shark.

      And, seriously, the Fae stealing a name is what wrecks your suspension of disbelief?

    5. I suspect that Padraic is using a fairly large amount of glamour to keep the name. There is quite a lot of history of fey replacing people (changelings) too. However I disagree more with the phrasing “one thing from inside your backpack”. If he said “one thing inside your backpack” I’d feel better. Her name is definitely in her backpack, but he can’t take her name from her backpack, because that isn’t where it’s stored.
      So I feel that Padraic is spending quite a bit of power and karma too keep the name, I think it is not going to be a permanent. He’s bending the rules not breaking them if he simply borrows the use of it for a while – which seems perfectly in character for a fairy to me.
      See also “I’ll give it [the ring] to you [not to Maggie] for one month’s time” where Padraic is bending rules. (He never said when…)

    6. As I commented above, her name was in the bag. He took it. Yeah, it was also in a lot of places, but it was there and he took it. What’s the problem (in terms of consistence, I mean – I’m sure Scarf sees lots of problems there…)?

      1. My issue was one of power and limits: if things like this were routinely possible, you could trivially take over someone else’s identity, possessions, power, etc., and Pactverse wouldn’t look like a modern world plus a hidden practitioner world; instead, one practitioner or Other would eventually come to possess everything in a total monopoly à la Scrooge McDuck. No need for verbal trickery; some entity like the Borg would just assimilate everything by force.
        But given that glamour is involved, and Padraic had to make Scarf believe he took her name, means that there are limits to stealing names of things, which makes this scenario rather less likely.

        1. Remember what Padraic said. His exact words were:

          “Consider going to Toronto to help Mr. Thorburn, and give me my pick of one thing from inside your backpack there. The value isn’t so important to me as the sentiment.”

          So what he took wasn’t the value of the name, but the sentiment of the name. The sentiment of a name is the identity it represents, and that’s what he took.

    7. Remember that a huge part of how successful glamour is, is belief. Padriac probably only needed to ensure that Maggie believed that he could take her name that way, after which, he was able to.

      Maggie was canny, but uneducated. She was breaking the enchantments she expected left and right, but she was dealing with a being that might be thousands of years old. He snuck something in on her. Something to make her more susceptible to his glamour.

      So after a little hocus-pocus, scarf girl believed that Padriac was capable of stealing her identity that way, so he could and did.

      If scarf girl learns that what he did is simply a glamour, she can start hammering that glamour by trying to force people to recognize her. This may have been why Maggie left Toronto, because scarf girl was beating the hell out of the glamour.

      1. Oh, wow. The glamour explanation makes all this much more plausible and understandable. So this was a trick on several fronts: he used glamour in a way Scarf could notice and counter, so she wouldn’t realize his far more subtle use of glamour when he took her signature and made her believe she’d lost her name and identity along with it.

        Trouble is, to break the glamour, Scarf might have to confront contest!Maggie in person again, and just finding her will be hard enough. Not to mention that Padraic is old and powerful, and that he doesn’t seem willing to part with the name.

        1. Maggie signed her name herself, meaning it was what she identified as herself in a tangible form. He took that name for himself in a completely plausible way when you consider glamour tricks even the world into believing a lie if well woven.

          1. Though it occurs to me that if Padraic ever took the name “Blake Thorburn” he’d probably be begging the original owner to take it back after a day.

        2. Scarf Girl might be able to hammer the glamour remotely as well. Remember that this glamour, if it is a glamour, is also redirecting connections, and connections extend a very long way. Scarf Girl’s parents might have been confused and easily mislead while the thief was around them, but after the thief goes to Toronto, Maggie will be able to hammer that glamour at will, if she thinks to try it. Every time she confuses her parents “Wait, isn’t that Maggie?”, “Didn’t Maggie say she was going out of town?”, or whatever, it’s going to hammer that glamour.

          1. Perhaps she can hammer on it simply by finding Madraic and addressing him/her as Padraic, repeatedly. That did a number on Blake’s glamour long ago when Blake was speaking with her and her dads, enough so that he asked her to stop it.

            1. Or, come to think of it, get Rose to address Padraic, with whatever power her Thorburn Voice contains. Watch the glamour disintegrate.

              No idea how that might come about, but it would be pretty awesome.

            2. I doubt that would work very well. Padraic is still Padraic, he didn’t renounce his name or anything. (He changed his appearance to look like a Maggie, but he did that all the time anyway, and I’m not even sure faerie have a “real” appearance.)

              Calling him Padraic would hammer against glamour that tries to camouflage that he is Padraic, but not against one that tries to make it obvious that he is also Maggie. (I.e., if she did it in the presence of someone else who is not aware, she might help them figure out that Maggie is also Padraic, but in and of itself it shouldn’t affect him possessing the female name as well.)

              On the other hand, insisting that she is Maggie might affect any glamour contributing to the name-stealing, but she would probably be judged lying. (Unless her not remembering her name was exclusively a memory trick, rather than Padraic really taking possession of her name.)

            3. @bogdanulb I had a similar thought, but ‘Error’ is right – merely calling him by name when glamoured weakened it. It’s possible there’s a tacit assumption in the universe that if you are person A then you are only person A – that you can’t be multiple people simultaneously. In which case calling nuMaggie ‘Padraic’ should do the trick…

          2. Assuming that it’s glamour. Which it isn’t, at least not the bulk of it. Minor details might be helped with it, but Padriac definitely owns the name Maggie Holt, and almost certainly variants, middle name, etc.

        3. I don’t think its Glamor. Rather, its the deal made that allows for it. After all, the serial’s name is Pact. Deals hold the ultimate power in this world, Scarf’s part of the deal allowed Patrick anything from her bag, including her name.

    8. It’s referencing the classic myths, though. If I recall correctly, there’s a strong prohibition on ever giving one of the Fae something with your name on it.

      (Or, you know, dealing with them at all if you can avoid it…)

      1. It worked on her before she even realized what was going on, as demonstrated by the fact that she was confused about what was going on mere sentences before being unable to tell Padriac that her name was Maggie…because it wasn’t.

        Maggie’s name was in her backpack, and Padriac chose to take the name, not the paper that the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie had written her former name on.

        1. Every time I read you say “the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie “, I feel a little part of me die inside. Its just that its so wordy as compared to something Simple like Scarf. I don’t mean to criticize or give orders. Please continue to do as you please. I’ll just bare the pain of reading that title whenever you refer to Scarf.

          1. Keep your own opinion; I find the title I’ve given her to be more descriptive and at least mildly amusing, both of which are absent from yours.

    9. Maggie’s name was in her backpack. Padriac could take anything that was in her backpack, and he got to choose. Padriac chose to take her name.

      Let me ask you something: Does this make any less sense than being able to radically change peoples’ behavior by manipulating their connections, without them noticing? That happened early in the story. How about manipulating how one senses the flow of time, such that they sit for hours in a diner without realizing it? Also happened. What about a being that destroys “connections” between people and therefore makes everyone forget they ever existed as well as quickly making new memories to fill in the gaps? That exists. I could go on all day.
      Why is this the one thing that breaks disbelief?

    10. I had a similar reaction at first.

      My suspicion is that there’s some glamouring involved and that not just anyone could’ve pulled off that trick.

      The ‘this bit of paper with your name on it equals your name” bit is dodgy. IMO, Padraic only got away with it because (a) he infused that idea with enough glamour to make it seem legit, (b) Maggie bought into it and failed to call him on it.

      Remember that magic in the Pactverse isn’t absolute – we’ve seen repeatedly that putting on a convincing show is key.

      One of the other commenter said that magic in Pact isn’t science and it isn’t art, it’s Law. Not law as in books of legislation, but Law as practiced in a courtroom. There are many laws that are often vague or conflicting in specific cases and which side the jury comes down on depends largely on how good a case each party makes.

      Some practitioners make their case through careful study of the laws and appeal to precedent, some invoke concepts that will hopefully appeal to the jury like logic and justice. Still others use razzle dazzle to distract and misdirect the jury into producing the verdict they want.

      Guess which one the fae are very, very good at…

      HINT: The fae are more likely to be seen on Boston Legal or Ally McBeal than Law and Order. 😀

  17. When I first read:
    “Shall I put Maggie Holt in the same place as one of the more powerful and respected beings in the area?”
    I assumed that he was talking about possessing her. Everyone seems to be assuming the powerful being is Conquest, but couldn’t it also be Padraic? Thus the literal interpretation of putting “Maggie Holt” in the same place as one of the more powerful beings, “an entity with the experience of Lordship, though he’s been stripped of much of his power“.

    Though I admit it does also describe the big C.

  18. I was wary when he answered “Is this a trap?” with half a novel instead of no (especially when the next answer was a straight no), but I didn’t expect this.

  19. I mean I now understand why glamour is sooo precious and scarce resource (remember Briar Girl negotiations?) and why almost no one risk to get more of it.

  20. Inconsistency:
    Padriac says “I find you interesting”
    He then says “I have a great deal of interest in ‘Maggie Holt’, the name, but I have no strong feelings either way for you”

    In both cases he refers to “you” rather than “Maggie Holt” and it’s clear that all “you”s in the deal apply even when “you” is no longer “Maggie Holt” as shown by: “As promised, you face no risk in the process.”

    He lied in the process of making a deal, there should be repercussions, possibly even the deal being void.

    1. Because he was speaking in the present tense both times, the statements are not necessarily inconsistent. In the first statement he could mean that he finds her interesting because she is the current possessor of the name ‘Maggie Holt’. Once he has stolen the name, however, he no longer finds her interesting.

      Some tidying up of the “you”s, “Maggie Holt”s, and “My dear”s in general would be welcome, though. I’m pretty certain that he lied and/or voided his deal at some points in his deception.

  21. Padriac just willfully and intentionally created a scenario to allow him to violate exile. This wasn’t good fortune falling into his lap. This wasn’t a boon offered. This was simple theft of an identity to allow him to violate his exile. He was in complete control of all the driving factors.

    Scarf Girl could, potentially, make a deal to expose Padriac’s behavior in exchange for assistance in getting her identity back. She just needs to find the right practitioner or Other to speak to. I have a suspicion that the witch hunters would be able to help her find the right entity to speak to. Failing that, bringing the matter up in the next meeting of practitioners might get her some assistance, provided that she can make her case in such a way that it is believed.

    Padriac’s taking a big risk here, violating his exile. I expect Scarf Girl will figure out enough to get back at him, painfully.

    1. You could say that having an untutored and new practitioner falling into his lap would be considered good luck. Maggie’s existence in and of itself was not controlled by Padraic.

    2. Good luck to the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie. Even ignoring all the obstacles that Maggie, aka Padriac, would likely put into place, a nameless human girl who deals with goblins is going to have a tough time even getting the figurative address of a fae in any position to change things.

  22. Wow. Conflicted. On the one hand this chapter was amazing. Awesome magic, good fairy bargaining, more insight into Scarf’s character and the world in general.

    On the other hand I think it might have put me off the story. 😦 The pacing is such that we get an ever escalating series of awful events with no real breathing room. I mean, our main character just ‘died’, apparently while being betrayed by the character who is both closest to him and the best equipped to bring him back, and then during the cliffhanger for that we get a similar fate worse than death for one of the few sympathetic characters in a position to make any impact… I’m not saying its bad, but the very quality is almost working against it here. The gut punchs are too real and there’s not enough breathing room between them. At this point I’m starting to believe that things /can’t/ turn out right, since every prior victory has been immediately subverted and it’s hard to invest in characters/situation when you already know it’s going to go so badly so cruelly and so quickly.

    Man. That went on longer than I was planning. Tl:dr: the chapter was great but I think I’m losing my stomach for the rest of the story. Maybe I need to wait and read the whole thing at once after it’s already posted.

    1. Things aren’t all that bad. Sure, it’s going to be tough, and maybe the battles are lost, but as long as there’s a story they’ll be fighting, and they don’t lose all the time.

      Enjoy the ride.

  23. Hmm…

    Demons burn the world.

    Goblins shit upon it.

    The Fae, they seem to steal the bits that catch their fancy.

    Fair metaphors, yes?

  24. Wait, he took all of maggie connections, Erasur eats and erased that stuff, does that mean she could remember blake?

    1. No, because all connections to Blake were erased, not just the ones connected to someone named Maggie Holt. Proof: People other than Maggie forgot Blake.

  25. Padraic might have stuffed up big time. He says “I hereby offer Maggie Holt a ring from my finger”, and he is now Maggie – but he also said “I’ll give it to you for one month’s time, thirty days” and ” If you were to take this ring… I would sign myself to you as a subordinate familiar”. Is Blake’s champion “Maggie”, or the girl in the checkered scarf glamoured up to appear as her? But no, it reads rather more like Padraic under Maggie’s name than anything else.

  26. Poor Scarfgirl, getting duped by every player with a bit of experience.
    Whatshisface wouldn’t fall for that, he’d totally contest the claim.

    The name has got to be bound to its owner much stronger that some piece of writing – Padraic may take the [ink on paper] out, but the name wasn’t in the rucksack, nope.
    The spirits can look either way, though, so go theatrics :3

    Wildbow is being very impressive as always.

    1. Whatshisface would have argued that Padraic only got two thirds of his name, and if he wants all of it, their would have to be a new contest.

      1. Whatshisface would have said “You said ‘I’ll give YOU this ring, and make myself your subordinate familiar,’ so give me the damn ring or I name you forswarn.” He would have then used the ring to take all of Padriac’s glamour, ripping away the little bit that made him think that Padriac could take his name by taking a piece of paper with his signature.

        Then he would have taken his subordinate familiar and ordered it into the factory to bind ErasUrr, and when it failed and died he’d go bind Evan. 🙂

        1. Or Blake would have brought up the fact his middle name wasn’t included, and used that as a wager for a rematch.

        2. Problems: Padriac couldn’t have taken fragments of Maggie’s name (otherwise it would be impossible to explain why Padriac but not the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie was recognized as Maggie); the “you” part applies only to the giving of the ring, not the taking of power; the “subordinate familiar” thing wasn’t a promise, since (if nothing else) it was clearly stated that this would only be the case if Maggie didn’t abuse the power; and the last paragraph is incredibly out-of-character.

          1. ” you were to take this ring and prove you won’t abuse the ability to wield all the control over glamour I have, and if make a good showing of it, I would sign myself to you as a subordinate familiar”.

            I have visions when all this is over of reinstated Maggie going “So you were Maggie Holt? Did ‘she’ abuse your power? No? Did ‘she’ make a good showing of it? Yes? YOINK“. 😀

            1. I suppose it depends a lot on what deals went to Scarf Girl and which stuck with Maggie Holt.

    2. Her name was in the bag, indirectly but still present. And Padriac got to choose what he took.

      Maggie is Padriac.

  27. @wildbow: Beginning the chapter with the line “Five days ago…” totally confused me – I thought it was five days ago relative to Signature 8.1, but now I have no idea what it’s supposed to be relative to – relative to a later event in Scarf’s life, or relative to Blake’s erasure, or something?. And I wasn’t the only one in the comments who was confused by that, so maybe rephrase it, or replace it with a date?

  28. Son of a BITCH. Not what we were expecting was it? Remember kids, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

  29. Comments:
    1) I do appreciate the hint that Jacob’s Bell is particularly screwed up, and that practitioners elsewhere in Pactverse may not be as bad. On the other hand, Maggie doesn’t have knowledge about global affairs, and for all we know, there could still be equivalents of arc 8 in Worm.

    2) I did NOT expect the conclusion of this chapter. What the hell? No wonder contest!Maggie was this powerful in fights. (Also, now that I think of it, so knowledgable – she helped Rose with summoning Others, and she really wasn’t supposed to know how to.) Blake’s glamour disguise broke whenever he was doubted, but he didn’t have as much glamour as Padraic. Blake doubted contest!Maggie multiple times, and we didn’t see much of an effect.

    3) I love how this scene was foreshadowed in chapter 1-5 with Rose’s “I’m afraid he can’t give you his apologies. It’s too high a price”.

    4) Now that Maggie’s name has apparently been transferred, I have no idea which parts of the deal between former!Patrick and former!Maggie are already honored, will still be honored, or need not be honored. (Wow, writing these dialogues must be hard.)

    5) Scarf can no longer recall her name, and according to Padraic’s “You’re going to suffer if you don’t fill that void” she really need to choose a new name. Which one? Knowing wildbow, she’ll have to rush against the clock and won’t have the time to choose deliberately, but rather grasp desperately at the first name that fits. I liked the suggestion above of taking on Molly’s identity. Or what about her title of Goblin Queen? Is Maggie Holt the Goblin Queen (e.g. Conquest called her that), or is Scarf still in possession of that title?

    6) Blake’s connection with “Maggie Holt” was erased. So maybe Scarf won’t forget him, assuming Ur didn’t erase Blake himself?

    7) I didn’t expect another “void” to arise here. People speculated that if Blake survived his apparent erasure, it would be a good thing since he’d lose his sworn enemies and his bad karma. But for Scarf, losing her name has none of these benefits. On the other hand, Scarf could still bargain her name back if she ever gets powerful enough.

    8) I was worried about how Padraic’s deal could possibly make sense in Pactverse, but if he just took over Maggie’s signature and made Scarf believe the rest with glamour (as someone suggested above), I understand.

    9) Wildbow did say this was the “Maggie Holt” arc. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a chapter from contest!Maggie’s perspective.

    1. I don’t see any specific reason that Scarf Girl would be prohibited from knowing that her name used to be Maggie Holt and that the name was stolen from her. She’s had her connection to the name stolen, but considering Padraic!Maggie was talking about the theft after the theft took place, she can retain memories to that fact. She can know that her name is SUPPOSED to be Maggie Holt and simply ISN’T. (There’s also the possibility that her name is Margaret Holt…)

      1. Somehow, I don’t think that that kind of loophole is going to help the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie. Padriac got to choose what he took from the backpack, and he chose “TPFKaM’s name”. That’s Maggie, Margaret, Midge, whatever.

      1. I’d say that the contest was pretty similar in scale, if distributed over a longer time. Maybe a bit like the follow-up arcs? Still, there probably are things like that jolly green giant.

      2. Padrac’s a lot better at glamour than Blake, too. Doesn’t hurt that he stole a good bit of the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie’s identity, too–Blake wasn’t so much doubting that Padriac looked like “Maggie” as he did doubt that he was “Maggie”.

      3. Try rereading it. Shouldn’t be hard to guess.

      4. Padriac probably has the “Maggie Holt” part, but the “the Goblin Queen” part is a title, not a name, and only Maggie’s name was in her bag.
        Taking Molly’s identity would be…creepy and problematic.

      5. I doubt it. It’s erased because it’s a connection to Blake, not to the being currently known as Maggie Holt.

      6. Well, most of it is just severing the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie’s connection to the name “Maggie Holt” and tying it to Padriac. The rest, I’m not sure, but glamour likely helped.

      7. I hope not. That would be a bit of a letdown at this point, since we already know more or less what happened with Padriac/Maggie.

  30. Hurm, wonder if chequered scarf girl had been a bit faster on the uptake she could have negated that ruse with a bit of drama before the spirits. Pull a “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” and said “that’s not my name, it’s a piece of paper with an image of my name on it” rather than saying about the worst thing she could and sealing the deal in front of the spirits.

    1. wonder if chequered scarf girl. . .

      So, chequered. Is that a typo, pun or alternate spelling of checkered? If so, what country uses it? I legitimately want to know.

      1. According to google, alternate spelling. I didn’t even realise I’d spelt it differently. I’m in the UK, so…

    2. Hopefully, that would work. However, it seems probable that she didn’t catch onto what was going on until she couldn’t give her name, and before then she certainly didn’t agree that that’s what he took.
      Moreover, it said that Padriac got to choose what he took. Dealer’s choice, even if the players don’t like the interpretation.

  31. “On a level, it meant he wasn’t evil. He was just… working with a different set of sliding scales.

    On another level, fudge that. He was evil.”

    Nice little refutal of Blue and Orange Morality. You know it says something about Others when the one who is probably the closest to good is the sphinx that eats people.

      1. Evan is also a noted anomaly among Others, because of his lucidity while being a ghost. Isadora is the Other whose axes of “normal” and “good” are closest.

    1. ‘Evil’ is a cute little word the humans like to use for things that are detrimental to them and/or don’t follow their favoured rules.

      Why should the universe march to a human drum?

  32. Oooh, The thief is a crafty bastard too, but we already knew that.

    “That is a very good question,” Patrick said, with a smile. “I’d hurry up and answer it. Names are a lynchpin in the composition of our being. You’re going to suffer if you don’t fill that void.”

    If she does fill that void, and renames herself somehow, I bet it makes it easier for him to keep her name… If she stubbornly remains nameless, it’s a void that her original name will be the best fit for, and that’s probably going to cause difficulty for the thief. She will have to be careful though, because people will try to give her names, and those connections will need to be severed before the names attach to her too strongly.

    1. I’m going to venture a guess keeping in mind that Wilbow is pretty damn good at tying up loose ends. Now, we know that the connection between Blake and everyone he knows has been cut. But what if, even while the connection between Blake and Maggie is cut, maybe the connection between the girl with no name cannot be cut because, well because Maggie is the one that has a connection to Blake not the girl with no name. In the same way that Sphinx is able to avoid forgetting about Blake, perhaps Patrick or the girl with no name or even both are somehow able to avoid said thing from happening.

  33. Funny thought: we don’t actually know how long Padraic will have hold of Maggie’s name. For all we know, the Maggie Holt series from Worm wasn’t actually about the girl in the checkered scarf at all, but about our plucky young(-ish) faerie getting revenge on his people in the guise of a human girl.

    1. Possible, but somehow it feels off. Seems likelier that this would be the book where the protagonist needs to trick the faerie into giving her her name back than the start of a book about Padriac. Not to mention that he’d make a pretty terrible young-adult-novel protagonist.

  34. Conquest, Pauz, the Abstract Demon, Hyena, Johannes (though he’s human) and now Padraic. The more this goes on the clearer it becomes they the Others are the real bastards here and everything else is petty human drama.

    It seems to me like something should be done about that…

    Also, I like Elspeth. It’s clear she barely gives a shit.

    1. So what your saying is that Pact is in dire need of the God Emperor of Mankind? Starting to look that way.

        1. Yeah. Pactverse is alright by comparison enough that Practitioners could be let off with a stern warning.

          But demons? CLEANSE. PURGE. KILL.

          1. And they’d have a small army of practitioners who’d gladly provide all the stuff they’d need, not to mention embedded experts e.g. Blake’s ilk.

          2. We don’t have the Orks to lighten things up. And besides things can’t actually get worse for WH40K since that would mean advancing the story.

          3. Pactverse demons are kittens compared to 40k demons. Extremely dangerous kittens, mind, but kittens nonetheless.

            1. Really?An intermediate demon eats part of reality here.40k demons are not worse,just bigger in scope (thats assuming the crumbs theory is wrong).Plus,I’d argue that they are not entropic,as each of the chaos gods of 40k just wants to propagate the ideas of its existence,which even has good stuff sometimes.So morally?I’d prefer 40k demons at least to the choir of darkness,and equate them with the other choirs.

            2. Examles on how a 40k demn is worse than Ur?(I cannot stretch it enough-Ur the intermediate demon)

            3. Ur only eats a few things at a time, and is easy to contain. WH40k daemons have no real countermeasures short of Exterminatus, and corrupt entire planets.

            4. -You assume there are no more planets that earth in pact
              -they destroy planets,but not really weaken the universe,only society
              -Ur is intermediate.

  35. Oh my!
    As far as deleted expletives come, Padraic is definitely a big one.
    This kind of surprises is why I love reading Wildbow’s work so very much!

    There’s just one thing that’s bothering me:
    “I hereby offer Maggie Holt a ring from my finger, impregnated with my power, should you accept this deal. It bears a connection to me, and through it, the owner can draw out glamour until I’m spent of it. I’ll give it to you for one month’s time, thirty days.”

    That last “you”. Either Padraic got sloppy, which means the girl in the checkered scarf a claim on his ring after all, if he doesn’t want to be forsworn, or the wording might need a little nudging once Wildbow comes back.

    1. Well, he can be forced to give it to her for a month, but the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie won’t be able to draw power, because nowhere does it suggest that ownership would change to “you”.


      Or Maggie Holt.

      1. Ooh, but conversely, if Scarf gets her name back in the next 30 days, Padraic is toast. Extraordinarily unlikely, but still interesting to think about.

        1. Only if Padriac doesn’t try to get the ring back ASAP.

          If he tries and fails, or if he is simply unable to, then it’s still not good for him, but probably not toast-level.

  36. There’s no reason Scarf girl can’t rename herself as Maggie Holt. There is no limitations that there can be only ONE Maggie Holt. She can hammer the glamour with this.

    Also, since she was given the chance to remove stuff before Padriac took it, she should have emptied the whole bag, and pop in some random crap from the store for him to take.

    1. Maggie wouldn’t do that, though; she operates in good faith.

      Which is why “Before we make a deal, swear an oath that you will act towards me in what I would interpret to be good faith” MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA.

      1. So, the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie, like Blake and Taylor before them, is too nice for her own good.

  37. Thinking by typing…

    “On another level, fudge that. He was evil.”

    What, she can’t even curse in her thoughts? Or is this just her way of taking care so she doesn’t accidentally do them in reality? Or is this a reaction to the limit, like a dog reacts to an invisible fence by no longer testing the barriers? Eh, minor point either way.

    Evil? No, he is an entirely different species, an Other. Despite his human appearance he feels as much kinship with as as we do with insects. He kicks the ant’s nest and pulls the wings off of flies (her analogy) for amusement.

    “Maggie will cross paths with the de-powered Lord when I make my visit to Toronto”

    Previously Padraic knew the length of time that Laird’s family had left to live. Those numbers ended up being altered by magic, but that is still a ridiculously powerful ability. Here, he knows the outcome of the contest before it is finished. I assume he helped guide the contest to the end he predicted, but that is yet another demonstration of insanely powerful prescience / prophecy. Even if he couldn’t personally change the outcomes he predicts, he could bargain with others who could, since it is clear from Laird’s case that it can be changed. There better be some serious limits to his power that we find out later; otherwise this combination of abilities (having both prophetic knowledge that extends for years AND the power to change the outcome) is ludicrously over powered.

    Now, who wants to bet that Madraic stole the Conquest mirror on her way out of Toronto?

    1. Remember that Conquest and Blake were both “depowered” from the moment the contest started, since Blake set the rule that both couldn’t use personal power, only their champions. So Padraic isn’t really predicting an outcome other than predicting that Maggie will cross paths with Conquest before the contest ends.

    2. I don’t think his reference to the “depowered” lord was a reference to Conquest losing the contest; rather he was referring to Conquest being a figurehead who had grown weak without anything real to conquer. Which doesn’t require him to see the future, just to have heard a bit of Torontoan gossip. And knowing the lifespans of the Behaims doesn’t require him to see the future, it just requires him to have gotten information from someone who has. The most obvious source would be the Behaims themselves, since they are known to conduct auguries about their remaining lifespans in order to swap years around for their own convenience.

      I’m not at all convinced Padraic can see the future. Being able to deflect bullets, heal wounds, swindle people out of their identities, and generally be a faerie asshole is plenty of power for one Other to have.

        1. And if things look to be going good, brace yourselves as best you can, because saying they are going to get worse is like saying the sun is hot.

    3. Evil, from the point of view of that sentence (as opposed to the former, which is from more or less yours), is blind to species or race as long as the victim is sentient. It’s as bad for Padriac to do that as it would be if the Practitioner Formerly Known as Maggie did.

      I could see him doing that.

  38. “Old family names. There’s a power in it.”
    “Ah.”
    “Yeah. You’re right, the names we get stuck with can bite, but there’s a reasoning behind it. Am I interrupting your thinking?”

    Nicely done. Names have power…

  39. Does anyone else think Blake might be a demon now? It states in 7.x that void demons can’t create anything, but it also mentions erasure having three new kids. Erasure ate two goblins and apparently got Blake. The numbers match and it fits all the evidence and explains why it suddenly “gave birth”.

    1. The imps hand had the iron bar that ErasUrr used to start the fire, so it was around before Blake got eaten. Also ErasUrr ate a bunch of Knights of the basement, why no imps for them? And finally, I don’t think this is one of those series where demons are going to be anything but pure evil, and certainly not one where the main character can gain demon powers and still be the same bieng they once were. An Imp made from Blake is likely to be such an awful thing, we’ll wish he’d just been fully erased.

      1. Also we don’t know how long those half formed imps have been there. Remember nobody can actually look at ErasUrr, and from it’s narration it seems like it’ll be years before the bindings break, and possibly years before the imps are born.

  40. So when “Maggie” said during the contest, she had seen an 8 out of 10,
    that wasn´t a town massacred by goblins.
    Good to know…

    1. Good point! And I quote (from 7.11)
      I’ve dealt with goblins for a while. I’ve seen how bad they get when they’re bad.
      So, there’s a possibility he was a soldier in the eternal seelie/unseelie conflict before his exile.

      Also, this:
      “If you say so,” [Blake] said. “You helped out, I owe you.”
      [Madraic] smiled.

      And now Rose owes her. Him. Whatever. ARRGH.

      1. Why would Rose owe her? Yes, Pauz said Rose counted as Blake’s hands and mouth, that they counted as one person… but Blake was erased, and even his promise to Evan was forgotten. Why would this one be any different?

        (Incidentally, Blake did owe contest!Maggie. Without her help, Blake would have lost his contest. She helped Rose with her summonings and deflected bullets, among other things; Scarf couldn’t have done that. Although he wouldn’t have desired it, Blake did benefit from the outcome of this chapter.)

        1. Reality rearranged itself after Blake was erased, right ? For the ‘new story’, there never was Blake, so when Rose started the contest against Conquest, she was the one who called for Maggie. Then the fights probably happened in a similar enough fashion to last an equivalent amount of time – Isadora likely mauled Rose in this new setup. The final trick to bind Conquest… I wonder how it happened.
          Maggie was still an important asset.

          Anyway, after that Rose went after Erasurre a second time, and told ‘Maggie’ that she owed her. QED.
          Well, we’ll see I guess. Padraic will definitely collect his due if he judges he’s owed.

          1. I’m not sure everything attaches to someone else after an erasUre. Events that don’t leave a visible mark, and thus don’t need justification, might simply disappear.

            So there’s no reason for Isadora to have mauled someone (since there are no wounds left to explain). Even if she managed to remember that due to her resisting the attack, there’s no reason for anyone else to.

            The same for the debt: as long as there’s no written note of thanks, there’s no reason for “Maggie” to remember anyone telling her they owed her (unless Padrick can do what Isadora did, which doesn’t seem likely). Of course, that could open a whole other can of worms, if Padrick decides the Thorburn chick s/he did so much for was disrespectful in not acknowledging the debt…

          2. Remember, only memories change. Well, and connections and such. And somehow Rose got a body. But mostly, it’s just memories.

            1. As I understood it, Rose was fated to get a body no matter how Blake died; this part wasn’t ErasUr’s power, it was senior!Rose’s, i.e. part of the rules governing the vestige Rose.

  41. Oh dear. I’m starting to feel really, really bad about this.

    So Padraic goes to Toronto to watch and help the Thorburn Diabolist. That’s his entire purpose. Then, the Thorburn Diabolist is gone. We saw what effect this had on the eye; what about Padraic? I’m worried because I think he got all of Maggie Holt’s baggage. If he did, this is probably a good thing for Scarf. Though she will have to reintroduce herself to her parents and I suspect her personality is going to change as she adapts to a unique individual, she’s no longer doomed for Evil Goblin Lady Possession; Padraic is. I hope he doesn’t enjoy it, but I think he’ll find the freedom and power novel enough to have a blast.

    I blame Laid for all of this, FYI.

    1. So Padraic goes to Toronto to watch and help the Thorburn Diabolist. That’s his entire purpose. Then, the Thorburn Diabolist is gone.

      Last I checked, the Thorburn Diabolist was still in Toronto and just announced to her allies that she was heading back to Jacob’s Bell. I don’t see the problem.

      Why do you think Maggie took Scarf Girl’s baggage? Any baggage not specifically addressed to Maggie should remain with Scarf. Maggie even pointed this out when she warned Scarf to fulfill her end of the agreement by considering going to Toronto and thus not becoming forsworn.

      1. Why do you think Maggie took Scarf Girl’s baggage?

        It’s hard to say exactly what comes attached with the name. Since one’s name signifies one’s identity, many things may come with it, even if the name did not come up explicitly when acquiring them. I know Padraic mentions the name being part of the awakening ritual, when he claims the Athame, but that might be just a sufficient condition without being necessary. (Or it could have been just misdirection, to prevent the Scarf Girl from calling him out on it, or to trick the spirits.)

        The most telling hint is that Maggie mentions fire and blood several times while in Toronto, as if expecting them. (She actually seems excited about it, and while we thought it was because she wanted to get it over with far from her family, it was probably just due to someone who hated goblins itching for an interesting fight.) That could have been just part of playing the role, but there was no reason for it since nobody in Toronto other than her knew what it was all about.

    2. It would be really fun if the reality-altering worm Ur unleashed followed the connections, “ate” the fact that Padraic took the Maggie Holt name because of Blake, and the universe rearranges itself so that Padraic himself believes he always was Maggie Holt.

      He might even think the memories of being an exiled faerie are false, maybe a trick caused by that mysterious girl in the checkered scarf. After all, he remembers making some deal with her, but he can’t remember who she is. Everybody knows the fae are tricksy and it’s dangerous to deal with them, after all, maybe she tried to possess him… er, her, and steal her identity! 🙂

  42. Patrick said. “You want power? Shall I put Maggie Holt in the same place as one of the more powerful and respected beings in the area?”

    Heh.

  43. Be sure to consider going to Toronto, lest you be forsworn on top of everything else, not that I recommend it.

    Scarf seems to still be bound by agreements and Oaths she’s made, just not ones made in Maggie’s name. This leads to the scary thought that Scarf may still need to go to school as a new, nameless practitioner with no friends or family.

    1. “go to school as a new, nameless practitioner with no friends or family.”

      This is what I expect from this arc.

  44. The other kids should still want to make the contract with her.

    Besides her name and (some) peoples memories of her, she is still the same, and proving she is a practicioner is easy and then everything she says is more or less bound to be true, so explaining what happened, even if some of the others can´t remember her, should not be hard.

    Which means, among other things, there has to be a reason she didn´t warn Rose.

    1. proving she is a practicioner is easy and then everything she says is more or less bound to be true

      I wonder. Padrick said something about the name being part of the ritual (presumably the Implementum ritual), to justify taking the Athame. IICR, the name (and one’s identity) is also a part of the awakening ritual. Whatshername might still be “awakened”, as in aware of the magic world, but it’s possible she does not have access to much of her previous power, meager as it was.

    2. there has to be a reason she didn´t warn Rose.

      I don’t understand this part: how could she have warned Rose? Rose doesn’t have a phone, she can’t go home to her computer, and Maggie took her wallet, so going on the internet is going to be tricky. (Besides, it’s not clear if she would remember her login…)

      1. You are right.
        I forgot about that.
        Not so easy then.

        I just find it a bit strange, that she wouldn`t try to warn the guys in Toronto, that the “Maggie” that helps them isn´t her, but no phone on their side and maybe not remembering her own login for her email account are good reasons.

        The awakening ritual is another good point.
        Not sure, how much that one got affected.

  45. So I had a dream about Pact and the last few chapters. It’s a bit jumbled, but I remember something about the younger Behaims and Duchamps getting mad at Maggie and cursing her. A really lame curse that didn’t do anything. Duncan getting kidnapped and dragged around, and mostly ignored while screaming. Whatshisname and Scarf Girl meeting in the cracks, and some Whatstheirname shipping. And when Padraic tried giving the name back Scarf Girl said she wouldn’t be Maggie Holt anymore.

  46. Yet another way Padraic screwed Maggie badly:

    Padraic promised not to hurt Maggie’s family. However, Buttsack is still in the house and has not capitulated. All Padraic has to do is help free the goblin or let it free itself (if it can) and it will ruin Maggie’s family – no direct harm done. We had some hints in the text that Maggie’s family knows too much about magic to have all the normal protections that non-cognoscenti have, so the goblin can really hurt them badly. And scarf girl will have problems getting inside the house to deal with the goblin because she isn’t recognizable as Maggie Holt.

    I am personally hoping that Padraic ends up drowning in goblin shit for a few eternities as retribution, but this seems unlikely at best.

    1. Worse, now that I go back and read it:

      “I swear to leave your parents be.”

      So Padraic will not help them in any way. Not that helping them is in his nature, but that sealed the last significant loophole – no-one can even bargain with Padraic now for direct help for the parents.

      Goblin shit. Several eternities.

  47. oh wow. I was sure something was going to happen such that Maggie ended up possessed by Molly’s echo. Oh well, I’d say this is even more interesting.

  48. That would be the “Darkness Induced Apathy” trope. I understand how you feel. I’ve felt that way myself at times. Worm had it happen a few times. Pact is actually even worse and darker. But Wildbow isn’t a complete sadist, and ocassionally somehow things do work out okay. Sometimes. Somehow. Serously I can’t believe Wildbow can even remotly manage to write his characters out of some of the shit they get stuck in. Not always though..

  49. WAAAAIIIIIT!
    Oh my goodness, how did I miss this?

    I have a big question-
    Padiac’s deal was to take anything in her backpack. She agreed. He took her name, which was written on a paper in the backpack (whatever).

    What’s-his-name asked the Shepard for something. Shepard gave his signature to him, as a way to consent to his request. Even though it wasn’t explicitly said that he will give it to whatshisname, it was the only way for him to give his consent for use of magic. So…. it’s his now, right?

    So, If he’s still alive, can that one diabolist guy use/take the signature? Or, give it to scarf-girl so she has another signature/name in written form? Goblin-queen-ghost-Sheppard t the rescue!

    1. Scenarios like yours made me think taking possession of names would be horrendously overpowered. Given that practitioners aren’t known to routinely steal names in Pactverse, it can’t possibly be that easy. As discussed above, the likely explanation is that Padraic used glamour to trick Scarf into believing he had taken her name, even if he only took her signature. It’s a giant ruse, but until glamour is uncovered, belief is reality.
      Or, put differently: If giving other practitioners anything in written form was so dangerous, this would be common knowledge, and the Shepherd wouldn’t have done it.

      1. That makes sense. Especially considering what the person says at the end of the next chapter, about how the people who know the dangers of faerie, don’t deal with them, or something like that.

        1. Taking someone’s name is not as simple as taking their signature – you have to talk them into giving it to you. If someone says “you may have this paper”, you may have the paper.
          Maggie agreed to give him anything in the bag – and that was very, very dumb of her. It was akin to signing a blank cheque. Her name was in the bag, and he took it, with the signature as a token.
          Simply saying he could have any of the physical objects in the bag might have prevented him from taking the name…
          So yeah, one could take names from people, but mostly only if those people are either normals or novices, and normals might be protected from such things (either by innocence or convention).

  50. “The prophecies the others mentioned? It’s because Mr. Thorburn is going to perish, if he doesn’t get help at the right time and place.”
    Like what? A sharp tap on the head as he’s about to tackle Ur–?

    “And, as promised, I’ll work to ensure that the person with the name of Maggie will cross paths with the de-powered Lord when I make my visit to Toronto. As promised, you face no risk in the process.”
    Huh. I see that either Maggie swore the no-swearing thing as “I, Maggie Holt” (meaning that whoever the goblin-girl is can swear), or Patrick!Maggie (we need a name for him…her…um…) made some kind of charm to warn hir when zhe was swearing.
    This could get annoying. I’ll just call him male, that should help.

    I’m a bit confused. Important as a name is, it isn’t the whole of your identity. Shouldn’t what’s-her-lack-of-a-name’s connection to her dads win out over the fact that Maggie has her old name?

    1. yeah, it feels inconsistent if it didn’t. maggie’s connections should be independent of her name, they didn’t adopt “maggie holt” they adopted HER

      stealing the implement, that I get. transferring oaths made in a certain way that I get too.(did the blood and darkness one involve her name or her as a person? wasn’t it “i’ll do anything” not “maggie holt will do anything?” not sure padrik gets what he seems to want there imo)


      names are important but they shouldn’t be this important by any kind of story internal logic that wouldn’t also give you their body soul and mind. although if things work as depicted this seems like a last ditch thing one might do intentionally….like a lawyer deal but with almost none of the cost. and find something to either trick into taking your name or that wants to be some psycho diabolist.
      they won’t get your knowledge it seems, and so they don’t get demons right off the bat you just have to release or rebind anything you’ve got on hand first. no matter what they do with your identity its gotta be better than a foothold going directly to demons like the lawyer karma deal

      1. this wasn’t nearly carefully enough worded to work either. for example about the ring he says he’ll give it to maggie holt blabla describing the ring and what it does. full stop. ” I’ll give it to you for one month’s time, thirty days” full stop.
        no statement on when he’ll give it to her but he does have to do so eventually or hes forsworn(does leaving it with a corpse count? otherwise it has to be before she dies and she gets to “draw his power until hes spent” in retaliation which can’t be healthy. or even better she could not abuse it and…well ” If you were to take this ring and prove you won’t abuse the ability to wield all the control over glamour I have, and if make a good showing of it, I would sign myself to you as a subordinate familiar, swearing whatever oaths are necessary to keep my power from overwhelming you. ” sounds binding enough to me. he says if she takes the ring(which she would given the chance) and all he could do is prevent her from making a good showing of it

        he left loopholes for people who want to be anal and the universe seems to love anal…if sarcasm can fuck you this seems like it would

        (…then again in a world where labeling ownership of a paper counts as putting your name in the bag counts then saying things like “fuck you” seem problematic as well so whatever)

        1. That’s the beauty of it: she can’t very well call him forsworn because he never said when he’d give it to her. Thin excuse, yes, but the fact that he’d said he’d give it to Maggie Holt helps it float.
          Also, her name was there, in the bag. He took it, as well a a token of it. Being able to say “fuck you” means she’s not Maggie Holt anymore – and nothing good will come from reinforcing that.

        2. Interestingly he just gave himself (as Maggie) the ring so the thirty days have started. Since he’s now ‘Maggie’ so long as he complies with his own conditions (make a good showing of it and don’t abuse the power) then he belongs to Maggie Holt.

          If the original Maggie gets her identity back after that…

      2. Names have power. Give away your name and you give away your reputation – something like the Thorburn voice, for example. Since magic is so tradition-based, giving away the thing that ties you to your family can be a very, very bad move. Even more so since you’re also giving up all sorts of connections, which is bad enough.

      3. I think part of it is how central Maggie’s name is to her identity. When people thought of her, they thought of her as “Maggie Holt”.
        There’s likely a decent pound-of-flesh analogy to make. Traditionally, the taker is forbidden from taking a single drop of blood; however, the Antonio has to bring up this loophole for it to matter. Padriac took Maggie’s name, and some of the stuff attached to it came alone.

        1. damnit,DAMNIT,you just said the argument I wanted to make,and so close to the end of the page…..

          Oh well,I will do it,and more theatrically,anyway,when I reach it :p

  51. “The French-speakers in French immersion who seemed to do their very best to avoid learning or speaking more English”

    that sort of shit is exactly why having a country be bilingual is retarded. it just helps people fuck themselves over and just makes the place that much harder to live in. communication if basic. its a requirement for civilization to function. bilingual fractures that and makes everything a chore because something like a ridiculously vocal and whiny 15% decided to be stubborn assholes

    1. It also diversifies the culture, respects a minority which (gasp!) has rights, and stimulates people in the country to be bilingual. But yeah, it’s such a hassle.
      Imagine if there was this whole “globalization” phenomenom, ahnd people made contact with other languages on a daily basis? Imagine a technology called, I don’t know, “Internet”, with which people from all over the worls could interact? Madness. It would never work, since having more than one language keeps civilization from functioning properly.

  52. Basically my reaction to this…it makes absolutely no sense. it is internally inconsistent even with this same page let alone the story at large.
    therefore this HAS to be a ruse, a trick powered by her willingness to believe it worked rather than anything concrete because otherwise suspension of disbelief would be as fucked as that poor poor dog repeatedly mentioned in worm. (and the stories don’t have holes in it like that. so obvious twist is obvious)

  53. Well if that’s not an easy abusable mechanic I don’t know what it is. Always refer to yourself in third person, never use I, have a dozen names which you can separate from your identity at leisure.

    1. Assuming its easy to get more than one names….or,if you are willing to make deals,assuming you can find fools to trick and you can do it well enough….its kind of a gamble,they must be convinced to give you something abstract.,and if they catch on,they gain and you lose much…

      Also,assuming everyone that matters won’t call you on your shit.This sounds conspicuous enough that a seasoned practitioner or Other would press you when an important deal in concerned,until you give him all your names and you promise once for each.

  54. Pact:where none is OP because everyone is-except the protagonist,because his OPness is too morally reprehensive to use.

    Seriously though,I think I understand how that works.
    1)the name is a symbol of the identity,thus it is,in many ways,the identity.
    2)the name is inside the bag
    3)Padraic asked for something inside the bag
    4)something can refer to an abstract thing
    5)thus Padraic stole Scarf’s identity and assorted oaths and limitations and connections.
    Not really OP,anyone important (heck,even many uniportant)practicioner or Other wouldn’t fall for it,he would at least specify it could only be a physical thing.To convince someone to part with something nonphysical is hard to pull off,especially if the guy is good,remember most of Blake’s negotiations?or Sandra on the fairy grounds?no one but a total newb with lack of training would fall for this,and his name wouldn’t be important,Padraic lucked out,as I doubt he could have stolen it,not his powers,for fae such things must be given.
    Even then,the world is based on law bullshiting,so an experienced practicioner could screw him 10 ways to thursday,

    My tactic?
    “ok you took my name,Maggie,but not assorted connections”
    “oh,but the connections are part of the name,my litle nameless girl”
    “doesn’t matter,the connections were not inside the bag,you cannot take them…haven’t you seen the merchant of Venice?if you do not give me my connections and oaths and everything assorted to my name,you are forsworn.Oh,and you must give me a new name so that the connections stick,but if its a bad name,I’ll refuse it…anything other than my original name is bad,imo,so hurry and give me the name “Maggie Holt”,so you can give me back my connections,so you aren’t forsworn,and keep the scrap of paper you took from my bag”.

    1. I maintain that Padraic only managed to pull that off because (a) Padraic used glamour to make the claim more convincing (both to Maggie and the listening spirits) and (b) Maggie didn’t call him on it.

      Magic in Pact is all about legitimacy in the eyes of the surrounding spirits. They’re supposed to be impartial, but it’s pretty evident by now that they’re just as susceptible to some convincing showmanship as a human jury would be.

      If Maggie had responded with something like “Heck no! A piece of paper with my name on it isn’t tmy name itself, it’s simply a written reference to that name. I’ve given you that reference in good faith and I keep to our bargain. The name itself remains mine. Besides, my name is not my identity. I could name this glass ‘Maggie Holt’ and it would not be me – it would be a separate thing called Maggie Holt. In fact, I imagine there are several different people called Maggie Holt in the world right now.”

      Ideally she could find a third point and declare him a liar in three ways in front of the spirits, but an emphatic enough objection on those grounds could do trick.

      Working against her is a long history (and spirits have long memories) where writing was inherently magical rather than purely representational and names did hold power over their owners. But if she makes a strong case that scribbles on a piece of paper aren’t her identity incarnate then she has a decent chance to convince the spirits.

      1. But,you see,this is her name.Writing your signature on a paper,or giving someone a paper with your name,doesn;t give him your name (though a signature has power too),but you certainly put your name on it.You still own your name,though,no matter how many of these you give.

        But Padraic asked for something,without specifying if that something is material.Thus,he can take something immaterial that is,technically,on the bag.It is rules lawyering,but it os solid rules lawyering,and not antithetical to the principles of the Pactverse.The Fair world have argued over much les stable semantics in stories succesfully ,I think his claim is solid and challenging it head on is stupid.

        1. You’re entitled to your opinion even though it’s wrong. 😛

          You can maybe make some argument that written letters symbolising her name are her immaterial name itself. I think it’s questionable but you can argue it.

          What you cannot argue in any reasonable way is that her name = her entire identity.  In a way, you and I have argued the same thing only you used the word “connections” where I used the word “identity”. But either way it boils down to: Maggie’s life and the people in it are associated with her as a person, no matter what name she does or doesn’t have. Her name is just a label for her as a person.

          I can see maybe giving away her name so that it is no longer hers to use. That should not automatically transfer her entire identity to someone else. Not the way it went down here.

          1. 1)written words that symbolize the name are not the name,per se,the name exists there,along with the scrap of paper with the ink.Though,since Padraic said he would take one thing,he could technically take either the name (what the word symbolizes)or the scrap of paper,but then again,after he earned the name he gained ownership of the scrap of paper.

            2)reread my original post,that was my exact argument:the name might be the symbol,the shorthand,of most of your being,but most of your being was not inside the bag,and anyone who has seen the merchant of Venice knows it matters,so even if it is impossible,Iargued,you should still ask for the pound of flesh to have no blood,or for the name to be gained with no connection.Problem is,if nobody called the merchant of Venice out,he would still get the flesh and the blood,and Maggie didn’t call Padraic out,so he took a large chunk (but not the whole of)her being,since he took her being’s very symbol.

            3)remember,this is a universethat runs on courtroom battles,Padraic has a point of semantics that works extremely well,it is uncounterable directly,i think,so your only option is to counter wiyth more semantics.

            1. 2) I realise that was you made the same argument. That’s why I’m a little surprised you disagreed with me when I made the same one!

              1) Neither you nor Padraic have demonstrated that Maggie’s entire name is physically located in the same place as the scrap of paper with her name on it. I find it a little hard to swallow that something as ephemeral and omnipresent as a name is stored in her backpack. A description of it or reference to it, maybe. But the entire quintessential name itself?

              3)  That the universe runs on courtroom battles is precisely my point: Maggie let the opposing counsel steamroll her when she could have cross-examined Padraic and made a persuasive case for the defence.

              She lost because Padraic dazzled her and seemed legitimate, not because she had a weak case.

            2. 1)ya see,thats the thing

              the name is not located only at the backpack,it is,however,fully located both at the backpackand on other placesBy Padraic asking something abstract he could ask a full thing that exists in different places,as long as that thing existed at the backpack too and belonged fully to the person carrying it (ie no taking a globe to own the earth)

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