Malfeasance 11.5

Last Chapter                                                                        Next Chapter

I stepped back into the house, though there weren’t many surfaces to work with.  Too many windows, glass panes and mirrors had broken in the course of the priest’s raid.

My eyes scanned the surroundings.  Here and there, things had been written down in chalk.  Runes, symbols, and diagrams.  It looked like the metaphysical equivalent of boarding up the windows.

“Thank you, by the way,” I said.  I didn’t want to sound ungrateful, but it was hard enough to get the words out that it might have affected my tone.  I shouldn’t have had to ask to come back inside.

“We’re not friends,” Rose said.  She didn’t turn around as she knelt to pick up a piece of glass she’d spotted at the foot of a bookshelf.  “This isn’t us cooperating.  This is me admitting that I’d rather have your cooperation and Evan than not have either.”

“Okay,” I said, biting my tongue to keep it at that.

“Where is Evan?”

“On his way with your creations.”

“Right.”

Tiff, Ty, and Alexis appeared in the doorway, standing by the kitchen.

“You’re back,” Ty commented.

“Mission was a failure,” I answered.  “But things aren’t any worse off, and I do have information.”

“Share,” Rose said.

I bristled at the order.  “Alister, like Laird, isn’t held back by the Behaim rules.”

“We know this,” Rose said.

“All signs point to Alister being made head of the Behaim family.  Very soon.  With the appointment, presumably, comes a gift.  Some kind of weapon.  Evan and I met him, he forced our hands with his cards.”

“The implement,” Rose said.  “There are weak points, but they’re hard to target.  He tends to take the initiative and hold it.  You don’t surprise a guy who’s as good at reading events as he is.”

“I surprised him a little.  Would probably have had him, if Sandra hadn’t intervened,” I said.  “What’s the deal with the five of coins?”

“That’s not really what I’ve been reading up on,” Rose said.

“I have.  Five of coins is poverty,” Alexis said.  “Loss.  In practitioner circles, one’s ‘wealth’ is usually measured in terms of power, so a loss of powers.  Might be being forsworn, might be a loss of something else that’s vital.”

Rose frowned.  “Who was going bankrupt?”

“Alister, and the Behaims as a consequence, while I’m thinking it through,” I said.  “He predicted he could heal the damage I could do with the Hyena here, but I guess it would have been costly?”

“Something like that, Rose said.

“I was close,” I said.  “I was going to cut him.  Because it seemed to be the thing that scared him most, after that card showed up.  I wanted to do something that would take Alister out of the running, whether it was leaving a scar so maybe people wouldn’t have confidence in him, or forcing him to spend far more than he should.”

“That would have been convenient,” Rose said.

“Right?” I asked.  “Sandra stepped in.  She’s got this, I dunno, web, or net, connecting everything in Jacob’s Bell.  If any big guns are deployed, she knows about it, and can respond accordingly.”

“Something like that would need anchor points,” Rose said.  “You can’t suspend a web without attaching it to something.  Odds are good that she had her people draw symbols at key points or landmarks around the city.  Okay.”

“She was there with one of Johannes’ people.  The other three players all in one place, and they weren’t killing each other,” I said.  “After dark, apparently, is when it all gets nasty.”

“I know that last part too.  Which of Johannes’ people?”

“Tall, brown-skinned man with glowing eyes, called Eblis?”

“Djinn.  That’s telling,” Rose mused.

“I thought he was keeping the Djinn close to home?” Ty asked.

“He was, at least,” Rose said.  “If he’s willing to send them out on errands, it says something about how confident he feels.  His area is probably fortified, and he’s making displays of strength.”

“Or his area isn’t as fortified as that implies, and he’s trying to mislead us,” I said.

“Yes,” Rose said, “Or something else altogether.”

I paced, moving across the various surfaces.  I couldn’t hear the bell inside the house, but the effects still lingered, making me feel restless.

“T-minus thirteen hours to midnight,” Ty said.  “The full set of barriers aren’t up, we’re probably not going to get a lot of visitors.  Since only a few of us can work in the same room at the same time before we’re bumping into each other, we should nap in shifts, so we’re well rested when the time comes.”

“Okay,” I said.  “I’m available to help if you want.”

“Wouldn’t hurt,” Rose admitted, sounding more than a little reluctant.  “Maybe we can station you elsewhere in the house, or we could set up mirrors in places the rest of us can’t easily cover.”

“I prefer the second idea to the first,” I told her.  “Feels less like something you’re doing to me to keep me out of the way and more like I’m genuinely helping.  ”

“Good,” she said.  “Second idea it is.  Since you still seem to maintain a degree of connection, I’ll put Evan on the same duty.  If there’s a problem you can’t handle, send him, we’ll figure it out.”

“If I was better equipped to act, I’d be able to handle more problems, which would help,” I said.

“I won’t let you read the books,” Rose said, with finality.

“That’s-” I started.  I grit my teeth and stopped at that.

In the pause that followed, none of my friends spoke up in my defense, urging her to let me have access or give our side more firepower.

I had to twist my own arm on a mental level to force my thoughts in the right directions: they were my friends, however they were acting now.  It was outside interference that was making them so much more loyal to Rose.

I had to protect them.

“Alright,” I said, though I had to force the word out of my mouth.

She gave me a curt nod. “Now, it does matter if they were all together like that and not actively hostile.”

“They were,” I said.  “If there was hostility, it wasn’t while I was around.”

“That means we’re in a precarious position.  They know our defenses are down.  They’re united in their desire to remove us.”

“How?” I asked.  “How would they do it?  You set up the dead man’s switch.  If you don’t actively keep the Barber contained, and I’m really trying to keep from going into detail about why this is a bad idea, then they’ll have a demon to deal with.  A demon that’s apparently one significant tier up from what we fought in the factory.”

“I can’t tell you the details about the switch,” Rose said.

I hit the nearest shelf before I realized what I was doing.  A book toppled on the far side, falling to the floor.

I was aware of the eyes on me.

“Blake,” Alexis said.  “Don’t get upset.”

“We’re on the same side,” I told her.

“Yeah.  We are,” Alexis said.

“Then why are you hiding things from me?” I asked.  “Do you think I’ll go out of control?  Am I supposed to turn evil?”

“No,” Rose said.  “Nothing’s confirmed in that department.  It’s possible, if the human in you loses out to the Other, but nothing’s confirmed.  That’s not the concern.”

“Then what is the concern?” I asked, barely controlling the tone of my voice.

“We can’t-”

“You can!”  I felt the television screen vibrate from the volume.

I regretted it immediately.

I could feel notes of fear from the others.  Even Rose.

I liked the clarity it gave me, even as I hated the idea of it on a cognitive level.

“You can,” I said.  “Because I really want to work with you, but I’ll go crazy if this keeps up, and I’m not sure I trust myself to hold it all together.  I can’t think of anything you’d say that would be more harmful or troublesome than leaving me to guess and assume the worst.”

Rose had her arms folded.  She wasn’t looking at me, though her brow was knit.

“I was talking with Alistar in the midst of the fight earlier.  I had one pointed comment for him, I’m trying to remember how it went.  Something about bringing prophecies to pass, in the course of trying to avert them.  Now, maybe what you’re dealing with here isn’t a prophecy, but more like a-”

Rose was shaking her head.

“No?” I asked.

“No.  Stop right there.  I’m not discussing this.  I’m not giving you hints.”

I turned, and I stalked away before I could say anything I regretted.  I paced around the room.

Being here like this was going to make me lose my mind.

“Okay,” I said.  “Keep me in the dark.  Fine.  Your choice.  But remember, grandmother had me put together for a reason.  I’d like to think she picked traits that would complement me as a vestige, and traits that would keep me fighting.  Tenacity, strength.  What did Isadora call me?  ‘Little warrior’?”

“Yeah,” Rose said.  “You do have a streak of tenacity in you.  That‘s obvious.”

“Let me be your warrior,” I said.  I pointed at my friends.  “I won’t be able to help them without helping you, because you’re all connected, and I’d only hurt myself if I tried to convince them to leave.”

I’d hurt you if you tried to convince them to leave,” Rose said.  “It wouldn’t help anything, them least of all.”

I didn’t move or say anything.  She’d dodged the first part of what I said.  I waited for her to pick it back up.

“And yeah,” she said.  “You’re more right than you know.  I’m almost positive you’re right, as a matter of fact.  You were set up to be a scrapper.  If I’ve put the missing pieces of memory back right, you made a good show of it.  But you’re not complete, Blake.  You’re a hammer in search of a nail.  What happens when everything is nailed down?  When things were quiet after Toronto settled down, what happened?  You went after the demon in the factory.”

“There were reasons I did it,” I said.

“I believe that,” she said.  “There will always be reasons.  But you’re made to follow a certain trajectory.  Everything was arranged so you would naturally self destruct.  The ‘little warrior’ in you would move from one conflict to the next, removing my enemies so my way was clear, until there were no enemies left or you perished while fighting a critical enemy.  If you died in a fight, I’d have the chance to take advantage of the confusion.  Except the enemy who did get you didn’t get confused.  I didn’t get to take advantage of any confusion.  I was the confused one.  But we managed.”

I didn’t move a hair.  She was telling me stuff.  I wasn’t going to break the spell.

“Now you’re back, and you’re not supposed to be.  Just like you weren’t supposed to kill Laird.  You’re following a different course, but you’re still a hammer looking for nails.  You’re still itching for a fight.  You’re not something I can manage.

“Except I just proved I can be managed, that I can be sort of respectful.  Even in this damn conversation, the fact that I haven’t completely flipped out should be telling.”

“It is,” she said.  “Part of that was intentional.  I had to push, to see how much you pushed back.”

Joints in my hand snapped and cracked as I clenched my fists.

I spoke with a deliberate kind of slowness, picking my words and tone carefully.  “I thought you weren’t going to give me hints.”

“I didn’t, not the kind I meant,” she said.

“Okay,” Tiff said, stepping forward, between me and her.  “Okay.  Let’s… let’s stop talking about this, before we’re back to square one.  Please?”

“Alright Tiffany,” Rose said.  She put a hand on Tiff’s shoulder, walking past Tiff to the kitchen.  “We need to talk about how we’re going to move, before dark.  Blake isn’t wrong.  The major players are organizing, they’re more secure in the free for all at night than we are.  If we’re going to move, we should-”

The front door opened.

It took me a second to get my bearings.

“Hey,” Evan told me, as I appeared in the front window.  He was perched on the wood that had been placed over the hole.  “You were inside?”

“Yeah.”

Awesome,” he said.  “I hitched a ride with these slowpokes, going back, ’cause I didn’t want to be all on my lonesome, and I was just starting to feel bummed out that I might not get to hang with Ty.”

I looked out over the city, using the section of window to the left of the broken part, and I could detect the faint toll of the bell.  Something felt off, ominous, and it wasn’t the bell alone.

“I’d really like everyone to be together,” I said, “without hostility.”

“Me too!  Yes.  Er, aren’t we?  If you’re inside-”

“Rose and I aren’t getting along,” I said.  “But she’s not imprisoning me or locking me out, so that’s something.”

“Rose,” Evan said.  “Right, wait, or go inside.  Gotta talk to Rose.”

He was gone, flying in through the open door over one of the Bogeymen’s heads.

I shifted position on the window, facing the house’s interior.

“Company,” Evan said.

“Company?” Rose asked.

“It’s your family.”

“Oh,” she said.  “It’s about that time, isn’t it?”

Tiff spoke up, “When I tried to figure out what they were doing last night, all signs pointed to them splitting up.”

“I did that,” I said.  “Or helped it along.  Mags got them kicked out of the cafe they were gathering at.  That would’ve been yesterday.  I stalled as best as I could.  If you hadn’t bound me, I would’ve tried to keep up the disruptions.”

“They would have had to get up first thing and meet to get this far this early,” Rose said, ignoring the last part of what I’d said.  She ran her hands over her clothes.  “I’m wrinkled and dusty.  Damn it.  I wanted to portray a better image.  The house is in a pretty sad state, too.”

“We could do a quick clean,” Tiff said.

Alexis added, “If you need us to back you up when they arrive, we could hang here, or-”

“Please clean,” Rose said.  “And then stay out of the way.  You being here would be ammunition.”

“Can do,” Alexis said.

“Watch the diagrams,” I commented.  “They’ll raise eyebrows.”

“Eugh,” Ty said, looking around.  “Right.  That’s a thing.  They’ve been here so long I look right past them.”

“Move the piles of books and boxes,” Rose said.  “Hide them without covering them up.  It looks like things will be messy after all.”

They worked as a group.  Even Evan chipped in, gathering the odd piece of paper and flying it elsewhere.

I could have used sympathy to help, but it was a gross and disgusting overuse of my power.  Besides, I still wasn’t a hundred percent sure I trusted Rose.  She’d promised no mischief or attacks on me while I was in the house, but I wasn’t sure she wouldn’t try something the second we were both outside of the house.

“Rose,” Alexis said, “Stop.  Go wash up and change.  We can handle this.”

I could see indecision cross Rose’s face.  “You’re sure?”

“I’m sure.  You’re going to need to tap Conquest for this, aren’t you?  Better to be a proper Lady of status than Lady Macbeth.”

“I’d really rather not tap him.”

“We knew you’d probably have to,” Ty said, moving a box.  “It was a conscious decision we made when we decided we didn’t have the time to focus on the issue of your family.  It wasn’t said aloud, but I think we all agreed.  I’m suspicious you knew it too.”

Rose hesitated.  “Right.  Back in a minute.  If they come before I’m down, make them wait.”

“Right-o,” Ty said.

Rose got as far as the stairs before pausing.  “Blake?  Don’t make me regret letting you inside.  Please.”

I wasn’t able to formulate a response, so I only bobbed my head in a curt nod.

She was gone so soon after that I wasn’t sure she’d even seen my response.

I watched the others work.  They were pretty efficient, saving breath for work, only speaking to call across the room and ask if a box or stack of books was in a good spot.

I stood watch by the front window.

“That’s going to have to do,” Ty said.  There was a sheen of sweat on his face.  “Dishes, papers…”

He hurried from the room with what he could carry.

Tiff and Alexis left with the spellbooks that had been strewn on the table in front of the couch.

Alexis was faster in returning, an unlit cigarette in her mouth.  I’d known her to do that when stressed.

“This arrival feels too convenient,” I said.

“A push from Sandra?” Alexis asked.

“It would fit.”

“Yep,” she said.

I wasn’t sure what else to say.  I continued watching the streets outside via. the window.  Alexis hadn’t visited me while I’d been bound.  She’d been the person closest to me before all this, and now she was the furthest.

When I glanced back her way to see if she was cleaning, I found her less than a foot from me.  I didn’t startle, but my heart did something funny in my chest.

“I don’t know how to feel, seeing you like that,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“My work, becoming something warped.  It’s all how I’d ink the branches, the spatter pattern, the watercolor in the space beyond is maybe a little pale, but if I was dealing with someone who didn’t give a damn about the fading…”

“The colors were more vivid when you first did them,” I said.  “In my head, anyway.”

“That’s… were the lines that good?”

“Yeah.  I think so.  My eye isn’t bad, but I was so happy with what I got I didn’t exactly study it to find flaws.”

“That would be some of my best work, either way.  Except now the darkness is using it on a symbolic level or something.  It’s being used to turn you into something else.  That…” a pause.  “Sucks.”

Sucks.  Such a simple word for an utterance she had so many subtle emotions into.

“I think I was something else to begin with,” I said.  “Rose’s attitudes seem to point that direction.”

“Blake, I can’t- if you start talking like that, fishing for tells…”

“You’re good at hiding your tells,” I said.  “But okay.  We won’t go there.”

“I’m thinking a year and a half ago, if I had to put it somewhere chronologically?”

“Yeah.  About.”

“Yeah,” she said.  “Huh.  I can even picture the week it was.  I thought it was a slow week.”

I rotated my arms, studying the tattoos that now clustered on them.  More tattoo than bare skin.

“Well,” I said.  “If I’ve got to have something changing, as I lose my humanity, this is…”

I searched for how to phrase it.  I had to be careful not to lie, and I felt like the choice of words was exceedingly important.  Alexis, standing behind me, didn’t say anything.

“It’s good,” I decided.

A light thud.

Alexis’ head forehead rested on the glass of the window.  I couldn’t make out her face, with the angle of her head, but I could see the cigarette sticking out.

I checked the street.  No sign of the family.

Reaching up, I touched the glass from my side.  The side of my thumb traced the line of Alexis’ hair.

“I know you don’t remember it.  I know it might not have even happened, but to me, you saved me, Alexis.”

She didn’t move.

“I was cursed with an inability to create,” I said.  “Maybe that’s part of being built as a warrior, with only the necessary parts.  But I could never draw.  Tried a bunch of things, but I never found that talent.  I don’t… I’m trying to sum up this one thought, but I feel like I’ll keep getting off track if I try to explain it.  I don’t really know, but if there’s any ability for an artist to be able to tell this sort of thing through their work, I really want you to be able to look at this and see it as it was supposed to be, and know that you saved me.  That-”

Again, I couldn’t find the words.

“That-  Um-  Shit.”

I wasn’t choked up, but I wasn’t sure I could be choked up in the normal way anymore.

Words simply failed me.  I tried taking in a deep breath, even though I didn’t need it. The back of my hand stroked the glass that separated me from touching her hair, then dropped to my side.

“If- If I’m stubborn, if I have any well of strength to draw from at all, I owe that to you.  That means I have a responsibility.  I can’t use that strength and stubbornness the wrong way.  I- you never let me in enough for me to really know why you were so set on helping people like Tiff and me.  I’ve guessed.  I’ve speculated…

“…But I want you to know that you did help me.  You helped me to my feet, helped me be a real live boy again.  And maybe the demon took that away when he took away the connection, and maybe that’s why you took it harder when I left.  Maybe it’s not real, maybe it didn’t really happen, I don’t really know.  But if you were trying to prove to yourself that you were capable of something… I think you proved it.”

The silence that followed scared me.

I’d conquered my demons, so to speak, in the midst of the realization that I wasn’t entirely real.  But I was a little scared, standing there.

Looking past Alexis, I could see Tiff and Ty standing in the hallway, only a sliver of their bodies visible beyond the living room door.  No doubt they’d seen or heard some of it and then stepped back  out to leave the two of us alone.

The pressure of the silence grew with every second.  I glanced back.  Nobody approached, though one car had stopped by the side of the street.

“Sorry,” I said, “If that was presumptuous or if I was adding to your burdens, saying you’re somehow responsible for me.”

“No,” she said.  She stepped away.  “That was…”

More silence.

“It was?”

She smiled a small smile, lips pressed together a little in that unconscious way she had of hiding her teeth, the cigarette in her mouth bent, maybe from when she’d rested her head against the window.  “Good.”

Was there less tension in her face and neck than there had been?

“I really need a damn smoke,” she said, with no rancor in her tone.  “Excuse me.  I’ll be outside.”

“Is that a good idea?” Ty called out.

“We’ve got some wards.  I’ll be okay,” she replied.

I was left alone, with only the faint murmur of Ty and Tiff’s conversation in the hallway.

Two minutes passed, me agonizing over ever last word I’d said, wishing I’d picked some better ones, while paradoxically not at all displeased with what I’d said in general.

I’d needed to say it.

“We need a theme song,” Evan chimed in, behind me.

“Hm?”

“Bird boy and scary tree,” he said.

“I’m not a tree yet,” I told him.

“You’re covered in branches.”

“And birds.  Can’t I be, I dunno… there’s got to be something better than tree.”

“Bird boy and tree, you and me…” Evan said.  It took me a second to realize he was even trying to sing.  “Um.  Were you good at music?”

“I was good at building,” I said.  “None of the creative stuff.  Those other guys were the artists.”

“Any of them good at singing?”

“Ty’s pretty good at everything,” I said.

“Okay,” Evan said.  “I’ll ask him later.”

“Ask him to come up with something better than tree, while you’re at it?”

“Eh,” Evan said, noncommitally.

I shot him a look.  He broke apart, becoming a ghost, just to stick out his tongue at me.  A moment later, he condensed back into bird form, flapping his way around in a circle before he could find his perch again on the lampshade by the window.

Smiling, I watched what was going on outside.

“Rose is really scared,” Evan said.

“I believe it,” I told him.  “Scared is good.  The problem is when scared leads to her acting like Molly.  We need to do something.  Act.”

“We will,” he said.  “But we gotta survive first.  And, uh, with me being dead and all and you being, um, uh, sorta you?  The surviving part is something we should work on.”

“Point,” I said.

It took another minute before the first confirmed Thorburn sighting.  Not long after that, they arrived en-masse.

Dad, Mom, Uncle, Aunt Jessica, Aunt Steph, and Aunt Irene, with just about all the kids in tow, minus Paige and Molly.

I wished I’d asked more about Molly’s status.

“Rose!”  Evan called out.

The group made their way up the long driveway.  Rose answered Evan’s call, coming downstairs.  Still wearing grandmother’s clothes, but a different outfit.  A blouse with lace around the folded collar, a brooch, and a knee- length skirt, black.

“You smell like mothballs,” Evan chimed in.

“I’ve worn and washed these clothes before,” Rose said.  “How can I still smell like mothballs?”

“Here,” Tiff said, walking up behind Rose.  “Post it, and a rune, and… a bit of blood.”

“Better already,” Evan said.

Tiff removed the post-it.

This was what I’d missed, being in the drains.

The anger nestled deep inside of me had gone quieter though.  Where I might have been inarticulate in anger before, unable to express just how and why that bothered me, even to the point of not fully realizing I was angry, I was able to get a hold on it now.

“Alexis is out back,” Ty said.

“Okay, that’s just not a good idea,” Rose said.  “You don’t split up when there’s a horror movie monster after you, and we’ve got at least thirty equivalents in town right now.”

“We’ve had a surplus of horror monsters after us for a while,” Ty said.

“She’s supposed to be smoking in the bathroom with the fan.”

“I think she needed space?” Tiff asked.

“Rule still holds, space is irrelevant.  Go get her,” Rose said.

“On it,” Ty answered.

I met Rose’s eyes.  Pale, with faint dark circles under her eyes, blond hair tied back until there wasn’t a hair out of place, a white blouse and ivory brooch, her shirt crisp.

I was rumpled, tattered, my skin riddled with dark lines and faint splashes of color.  My hair, once blond, was dark with the grime that now impregnated it.

She didn’t say anything.  She headed to the door, and as per her earlier request, the others vacated the area.  Alexis hurried past, taking the stairs two at a time to get upstairs.  Evan roosted on the back of the chair beside Rose.

Rose opened the door.

“Rose.  I’d apologize for not calling ahead,” Uncle Paul said, “But-”

“I knew,” Rose interrupted.  “We even had time to tidy up.”

That seemed to put him slightly off balance.

Rose was different.  Poised.

He seemed a little caught off guard.

“If this is the place after cleaning up, I’m very concerned about what it was like before,” Aunt Steph snarked.

“We had, how should I put it, unwelcome visitors?  Something of a break in,” Rose said.

That shut Aunt Steph up.

“A break in?” Uncle Paul asked, skeptical. “I’m more inclined to think you had a party.”

“No,” Rose said.  Confident, clearly in control of herself.  “It was a break in.  I’m guessing you found something in the contract.”

Several somethings,” our father said.

“Of course.  Come in,” she said.

She didn’t wait to see if they’d listen, or wait for a response.

They followed her into the living room.

“You’re wearing grandmother’s clothes?” Callan asked.

“Funny thing,” Rose said.  “All the clothes that I had over at mom and dad’s place were, what was it exactly?  They just happened to go up in flames?”

“They were packed into the back of the garage for storage, and, unfortunately, the garage flooded earlier this fall.”

Rose spread her hands.

One by one, everyone found seats.  Adults took the sofa and chairs first, the younger individuals – Callan, Kathryn, Ellie, Peter, James, Christoff, and Roxanne, all stood, framing their parents.

A show of force.

Evan had apparently gone completely unnoticed as Aunt Jessica sat down.  He flapped his wings, fluttering, and she startled, flying out of her chair.

Rose whistled, and Evan flew to her.

I was supposed to feel bothered by that, but I was glad she had that.

“What’s with the bird?  And the getup?  Why not buy clothes.  And act sane?  You look weird,” Roxane said.

Roxanne was twelve, her blonde hair normally straight but presently curled, spoiled rotten by Uncle Paul and Aunt Jessica, aware that she was pretty and cute, and fully capable of leveraging that to get what she wanted.  She managed to put a lot of bite into very simple criticisms.  I imagined she was an unholy terror in whatever grade she was in.

“I’m a little weird these days,” Rose answered.

“I said that badly,” Roxanne said.  “You look fucked up.  It’s like you’re a crazy bird lady only it’s more fucked because you’re too young to pull it off.  Can’t we get the house if she’s crazy?”

“The term is mentally unsound,” Uncle said.  “And yes, we could.  But we don’t need to.”

“I know false bravado when I see it,” Rose said.  “You’re confident, you’re not that confident.”

“And you’re a twenty year old girl with a high school education,” Uncle Paul said.  “The house is visibly falling apart.  You know the contract terms name you custodian and heir only if you keep things to a certain standard.”

“That’s your plan of attack?” Rose asked.  “I thought you’d surprise me.”

“This is preliminary,” Uncle said.  “We’re not going to discuss everything we found with you.  We would like to give you an idea of what we’d be saying and doing if lawyers were to get involved.”

He dropped the pad of papers on the coffee table.  It was thick enough to thud as it landed.

“You’re trying to intimidate me?  Uncle P, you have no idea what I’ve been dealing with these past few weeks.”

“Believe me,” he said, “I actually think I have an idea.”

I walked through my version of the room, and changed my focus.  Letting go.

It was harder than it had been.

My first attempt failed.

“Why don’t you illuminate us?”

“No.”

My second attempt managed to produce a reflection of the pile of papers on the coffee table.

I picked them up, and began to leaf through them, looking at the highlighted points.

“You claimed the place was broken into just yesterday?  Did you file a police report?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“That’s none of your business.  I’m not volunteering any more information, if you’re just here to fish and make one of the obvious and most easily dismissed legal stabs at me.”

She was right.  There was more to it than that.

I flipped straight to the end, and found notes.

I snapped my fingers.

Peter turned his head.  Then scrambled to get out of the way as Evan flew over.

I bent down low.

“Tell her,” I murmured, “They are going to declare her mentally unsound.  Duncan is helping.  Sandra is helping.  People are on their way now.  They are going to get her put in a mental hospital.  It will not last for any longer than they need it to, but it will free someone else to come after the rest of them, without risking hurting her.  She needs to stop it from happening.  Go.”

Evan flew back to Rose.

Looking visibly distressed, Aunt Steph asked, “Can you cage that thing?”

Thing?” Evan asked.

Nobody reacted.  His voice was only for us to hear.

“I’ll get him a bit of food,” Rose said.

She stepped into the kitchen.  I followed her.

“Mental aslyum,” Evan said.  “Just to keep you out of the way.”

Rose nodded, but couldn’t reply without being heard talking to herself.  Which wouldn’t help matters.

“Right now, they’re coming.  We need to deal with it somehow,” I said.

Rose shook her head.  “Against Sandra?  And Duncan?  They’re too strong.”

“What, then?”  I asked.

“We’re going to give them me,” she said.  She sounded a little too much like Conquest, and not quite enough like Rose.  “And we’ll let them face the consequences.”

Last Chapter                                                                        Next Chapter

Advertisements

157 thoughts on “Malfeasance 11.5

  1. Thanks for reading.

    There is one more chapter in the queue. There is not, however, a bonus chapter this week. I try to do two weeks on, one week off, and this is the week off. I’m a little worn out, and I’ve got a whole wad of apartments I’m wanting to check out this week. Been here three weeks, and aside from one less than stellar option, this new selection is the only stuff I’ve seen crop up around here, so I’m crossing my fingers. I’ve got five more days before I head home empty handed. Gah.

    If you feel so inclined, votes on topwebfiction would be very much appreciated. Thanks! 😀

    1. Ever thought about moving out west, to BC? Great setting for writers, being able to see both mountains and the Pacific – plus, there’s the coffee. If you lived in Victoria or Nanaimo, your rent would be less than half of a month’s donations. Eh? Eh?

      1. It’s a thought, but I was interested in the other location because it isn’t too far from my family’s cabin, and going up to the cabin is like… man, I can’t even convey how much it just removes the tension and stress that has a way of building up. One night’s rest there and I’m recharged.

        Ideal world, I’d like to stay close-ish. BC is a long, long way away.

    1. Auto-typo-catching robot familiar says:

      --- mismatched quotation marks:

      [OPEN]Something like that, Rose said.

      [OPEN]If- If I’m stubborn, if I have any well of strength to draw from at all, I owe that to you. That means I have a responsibility. I can’t use that strength and stubbornness the wrong way. I- you never let me in enough for me to really know why you were so set on helping people like Tiff and me. I’ve guessed. I’ve speculated…

      --- uncapitalized after end of sentence?

      I wasn’t sure what else to say. I continued watching the streets outside vi[a. t]he window. Alexis hadn’t visited me while I’d been bound. She’d been the person closest to me before all this, and now she was the furthest.

      --- missing double-space at end of sentence?

      She gave me a curt [nod. “]Now, it does matter if they were all together like that and not actively hostile.”

      I wasn’t sure what else to say. I continued watching the streets outside [via. t]he window. Alexis hadn’t visited me while I’d been bound. She’d been the person closest to me before all this, and now she was the furthest.

      Words simply failed me. I tried taking in a deep breath, even though I didn’t need [it. T]he back of my hand stroked the glass that separated me from touching her hair, then dropped to my side.

      “A break in?” Uncle Paul asked, [skeptical. “]I’m more inclined to think you had a party.”

    2. Typos:

      • “more like I’m genuinely helping. “” -> two extra spaces
      • “I stalled as best as I could.” -> “as best I could” (it’s apparently wrong because you can’t say “as X as” for superlatives; “as most as” wouldn’t work either.

      • “I could have used sympathy to help, but it was a gross and disgusting overuse of my power.” -> “but it would have beeen”

      • “Such a simple word for an utterance she had so many subtle emotions into.” -> ?

      • “Alexis’ head forehead” -> “Alexis’ forehead”

      • “a knee- length skirt” -> “knee-length”

      • “Post it, and a rune” -> ” Post-it”

      • “That seemed to put him slightly off balance.” is followed by “He seemed a little caught off guard.” – Seems like one such sentence would be enough.

      • “break in” -> “break-in” x3

      • “Why not buy clothes.” -> “Why not buy clothes?”

      Also: “Rose nodded, but couldn’t reply without being heard talking to herself.” -> And yet, she speaks a few lines afterwards.

  2. So she’s going to go quietly to the nice room with padded walls, wait for the Barber to go to town and then wait smugly for the rest of the contenders to come begging for mercy?

    1. That was my first though too. HOWEVER, if they are this confident they can lock her up for a while, they must have planned something to circumvent the Dead Man’s Switch. Accepting to be taken away without being sure they had is a really bad idea…

    1. The difference here is that this twelve-year-old bitch-in-training is… family. 😛 If you could get away with strangling family, I think Rose would try, but it’s just not done, you know? 😉

  3. The only interesting alternative I had is if she figured out from Barbatorem how to carve a reflection, and she gives them the reflection.

    1. I guess I should have been clearer: remember back when the Fae contingent had a bit of an issue telling Rose and Blake apart? That “Two Roses” sketch. <.<

      Glamour Blake up to the point he almost gets confused who he is… sit back… and watch the fireworks. 😛

      1. I’m thinking they might want Blake to have a very clear idea of who he is, actually. Don’t want to lose his humanity any faster than he already is.

  4. Halfway through this chapter, I got some pretty awful news about a guy I knew and trusted. He’s done something horrible. We weren’t close, and I haven’t seen him in months, but, it was along the line of something that when you hear it, your blood runs cold.Thanks for the chapter, wildbow. Good to have something to take my mind off of it for a bit, and good luck with the apartment hunt.

      1. Sorry to hear that man. I had a guy I ate lunch with in High School do something really awful a few years ago, so I know what it’s like.

        1. Thanks. 🙂 The whole situation doesn’t have much to do with me, but I’m sure it’s easy for you guys to imagine how it messes with your head to hear stuff like this. Like, you see the family on the news saying “We didn’t think he could do anything like this, I just can’t believe it”, and it’s that feeling, even if you weren’t too close with him. No unawkward way to close this comment (trust me, I tried to think of one), so yeah, thanks.

  5. Hmmmm. Actually, assuming you don’t actually care about the rest of theThorburns because they seem to be horrible people, allowing them to disinherit Rose and claim ownership of the Thorburn legacy and property is a pretty neat way to get out of the current situation. It’s callous and will most likely result in no less than 3 deaths and 1 demon attack, but effective.

    1. From the description we’ve got so far though, nothing seems worth a loose demon – aside from possibly containing 2 other demons, or one really bad one (bad on the demon scale that is).

  6. “You can,” I said. “Because I really want to work with you, but I’ll go crazy if this keeps up, and I’m not sure I trust myself to hold it all together. I can’t think of anything you’d say that would be more harmful or troublesome than leaving me to guess and assume the worst.”

    Blake should know better than this. As a practitioner or an Other there are some things they you can be better off not knowing. Knowing the wrong thing at the wrong moment is damning. Maybe not thinking straight due to anger?

    Where I might have been inarticulate in anger before, unable to express just how and why that bothered me, even to the point of not fully realizing I was angry, I was able to get a hold on it now.

    At least he knows where some of that anger is coming from now.

    It was harder than it had been.

    I have to wonder if this is due to him feeding his Other nature, fear and the clarity he felt, or another reason.

    “I was cursed with an inability to create,”

    Not a good sign for not being demon spawn. At least he was able to create enough art to ward out factory demon, if just a little.

    1. Wouldn’t that artwork seal hm inside the circle? Or does it only work on abstract demons?

      If Blake is a demon (or baby demon growing), would he be part of the Choir of Chaos? Seems he leaves nothing but chaos whenever he acts. He even destroyed the plan he was created to follow.

    2. I was going to say, “I was cursed with an inability to create” was an awfully ominous thing for him to say. He seems to have created things in the past, but it might not count — the line between “create” and “transform” is pretty blurry.

    3. The feeling of clarity came before his talk with Alexis. To me, it looks rather clear cut “clarity from instilling fear in others => power”, “keeping/nurturing humanity => powerlessness”

    4. Not a good sign for not being demon spawn. At least he was able to create enough art to ward out factory demon, if just a little.

      Yeah, that doesn’t seem minor to me. It had to be a fairly authentic creation to drive back Ur. I think there is a bit of unnecessary surrender in Blake’s statement. As if he is deliberately (unconsciously?) sealing away his creative ability. Perhaps as a trade for “warrior” ability? Perhaps because he’s caught in a war and not immune to attack?

    5. Some of Blake’s actions I’d definitely consider creation would include the various binding circles (including Ur’s) and practitioner defenses (his apartment) he set up throughout the story, forming the familiar relationship, etc.

      “When the First Choir takes away from existence, nothing is created to replace it. At best, we find a pattern in the chaos that is left behind.” (Histories 7)

      Demons apparently can create, except for those of the First Choir. Ur is a demon of the First Choir (Darkness), Barbatorem one of the third (Ruin).

      If Blake truly is cursed, both these choirs could be responsible: maybe he didn’t “survive” Ur unscathed. In Black Lamb’s Blood, everyone who fought and beat the incest demon was corrupted.
      Or maybe Barbatorem really had a hand in Blake’s creation, and Blake can create, it’s just that “Every time I act on my own behalf, I have to watch how others suffer as a result” (11.3), i.e. his actions lead to ruin.

      Or maybe Blake can truly create because he’s based on a human, but as he loses his humanity and becomes increasingly Other, his creations take a turn for the worse.

      (All that said, I still think Faysal would have noticed if Blake was truly demonic.)

      1. (All that said, I still think Faysal would have noticed if Blake was truly demonic.)

        Who’s to say he didn’t? He’s not stupid; when a guy comes up to you and starts telling you about how he wants to build and leave the world a better place, are you really going to tell him “I don’t think you can, because you’re actually a demon?” The longer Blake continues to think he’s human and act accordingly, the longer it’ll take for his true demonic nature to begin fully manifesting. I mean, would you rather deal with Blake or something like the Barber?

    6. Blake can only create when he’s ruining something else, only when he’s cutting away instead of adding anew. When he carved out that art in the factory, he did it by dulling his sword and making a mess of the factory floor. His only other on screen creation, the ward around his apartment, was made out of shards of broken glass and torn off lengths of tape.

      I really do think that Blake is one of Barbatorem’s motes. Just like Ur makes motes by eating people and spitting out a tiny undigested chunk of malice, Barbie makes motes by cutting a chunk off of someone. Maybe Rosalyn made a deal with Barbie: give her the service of the mote and in exchange she’ll put it into a human body to corrupt into a demon.

      1. Then the only way to go would be for Blake to become an ascended demon. Hey, I’ve made my feelings on what I want for Blake in the end very clear, what with the shit he’s gone through.

      2. Blake can only create when he’s ruining something else

        Interesting idea! I’d kind of think that Blake’s various drawn summoning circles (e.g. the chalk circle of his awakening) should count as creation, but then again, that was before he turned full Other. Maybe he’s like an incarnation and his human side supplements what his Other side is incapable of.

        As a side note, imagine if Blake was able to counter Ur not because he created something, but because he ruined something. Instead of countering Ur with its opposite, he’d have countered it with like (one demonic choir vs. another).

        1. However you could argue that all art is ruining something. The blank canvas is defaced, and the brush wears away. The pristine block of marble is broken, and chipped apart, never to be whole again.

  7. Most Thorburns in 1 location. A good time for for that Rocket Launcher.

    First chapter in a long time where I actually liked Rose.

    Maybe she will have the Lawyers handle the papers?

    Or maybe she knows Blake will act without permission or something to do with Molly.

  8. Wait a tick: do you still have mental asylums? I’d have thought “a dedicated, private psychiatric unit, nestled conveniently within the community and within five minutes of public transport affording easy access to local shops (for when you desperately need a smoke or a tub of ice-cream after visiting your mad-as-a-hatter relative)” is more the thing these days. ;P

    1. And normally, nowadays people don’t get forcibly moved there unless they’re demonstrably a danger to themselves or others. All they have is that Rose is acting a little odd, I don’t see how they’re supposed to get her arrested for that.

      Oh right. They’re unknowingly backed by people who totally can do that. Except, if they don’t know that they are, what makes them think they can get away with it? Maybe they do know that they are? But then, why on earth would they still want the house? Y’know, instead of holing up in some cave and hoping their family karma never gets them?

      1. How messed up would it be if Rose switches places with Blake again and the chapter ends with Blake getting dragged off to the mental institution.

        1. Plus getting stuck with the family Karma again while Rose is free to wage war from the shadows, while everybody thinks she is conveniently locked up? That would be an ultimate douche move.

        1. We’re already aware that Sandra caused all the Thorburns to converge to Jacob’s Bell, and Duncan, Sandra and Johannes gave them axes to grind so they would challenge Rose’s custody (10.3).

          That’s the obvious attack. Probably the first peel of a bigger onion. I expect it will end with a huge Morton’s fork in Rose and Blake’s respective rear ends.

          1. Well*, if you make each option terrible for everyone else as well, you can spread the Morton’s fork love around. That way at least they don’t beat you, everyone loses.

            (/a/ deadman’s switch? Just one? And only a magical one at that? Get some sarin or something and make some physical ones, elemental trap ones, you know make sure everyone knows that if the Thorburns lose everyone loses.)

            *To follow in this plan you have to be at least as jaded, cynical, and spiteful as the original Rose Thorburn.

            1. Well, that would require Rose to acquire some sarin or a large quantity of equivalently deadly material (and that sort of stuff can’t exactly be summoned from the Drains, not without bringing along the equivalent beings, sort of thwarting the point of all of it), which certain pragmatic and forward-thinking practitioners will have defences against anyways. The thing about magic is that, while meta-magical workings are useful and interesting, the point of it is to do things to the physical world, even through proxy. So, an air elemental, a spirit of plague or health, an entity of nullification, bound correctly, or a practitioner with a creatively applied implement, could probably mitigate the problems associated with a poison-gas-bomb dead man’s switch.

      2. They want to sell the house for the millions it’s worth for expansion. Pretty cut and dry greed. The question I have is why her father is plotting against her unless they all agreed to cut the money equally.

        1. A few chapters ago, when her parents and sister visited, she tried to make her dad agree that he would never get any of the money from selling the house. Perhaps he thinks this is the only way he will see anything.

          Also, even though it’s pretty clearly stated earlier in the story that uninitiated humans have pretty great protection from others, practitioners can still probably manipulate them fairly effectively.

  9. So Blake is getting strong. And getting clear. Maybe he should scare the other Thornburns. They certainly deserve it. Plus he actually hasn’t signed that Seal thing.

    Also Blake is a spirit devouring void? Umm… massive all consuming void, nothingness that seems to grow and do stuff. Does that sound like Ur/generic first Choir demon to anyone else? Shall Blake become a first Choir thingamajig? But then there was his act of anti-Ur creation, which means if Blake is in the First Choir the line between angels and demons doesn’t seem particularly well drawn.

    1. Except, he isn’t totally ending the spirits that he “devours” like you’d expect a demon to do: his birds keep multiplying and can be used as separate… entities. Heck, they even express emotion on their own. 😐

      It’s more like he’s doing a Drain thing than an Entropy thing: converting spirits into various parts of himself and into separate little bird-shaped ones that happen to live in and around him, whatever they had been before. 🙂

      Hmmm… that’s a point: he actually seems to be more about “birds” and less about “bleeding feathers” these days…

      1. Spirits invading bogey!Blake’s body take on bird shapes.

        Evan the soulful ghost obtained a bird’s body when he linked his life with fake-human!Blake.

        A pattern ?

  10. Maybe Rose will try something like Isadora did with Blake and friends. Can she outwit Sandra and Duncan (probably Duncan) into letting the Thornburns know more than they should? (and let them be responsible for protecting the Thornburns)

    Maybe she can get Sandra and Duncan to admit things in front of the Thornburns?

    Did you know Molly was going to be murdered?
    Will you try a similar tactic on the next Thornburn to get the inheritance?
    Do you hate the thornburns?

    Just ask questions.

    It wo0uld be funny if Rose manages to make the Behaims subservient like Conquest did with Fell’s family. Duncan lied. Shouldnt he get some sort of consequence. Maybe they can get him to make another general statement.

  11. And that’s why she’s still wearing the old clothes. Maybe hiding another reason, but that will do for now.
    I wonder if we’ll get to see more of Rose’s wits in next chapter, or if Blake will be busy fighting a familiar or two, while Rose is left alone against all three families.

    This is gonna turn into a mess pretty quick, however you look at it.

    1. Hmm, he’s increasingly wooden, runs on fear and tends to have a bird on his shoulder. If only the Drains had left him in need of an eye-patch, this’d be perfect.

      I’d be tempted to suggest The Who’s “Smash the Mirror” for the title alone, but the lyrics don’t match at all.

    2. I suggested this in an earlier chapter, but here it is again:

      Dunno if the tone is right, but a lot of the lyrics are almost eerily applicable.

  12. Mmm. Is anyone else experiencing a dissonance regarding Rose? Rose has quickly become a character I actually like. She seems mostly level-headed, willing to help others and I get the impression her long-term plans are for the well-being of others besides herself. This contrasts with the selfish, unreasonable person I saw her as during the Conquest arc. It IS true that we never were exposed to Rose’s perspective and it IS true that being stuck in a mirror should drive anyone insane, make them selfish and angry. But the change feels a bit sudden.

    Regardless, I must say I am enjoying the current Rose quite a lot. She is still ten times the bitch her grandmother was, but she has become a very interesting, deep and powerful character.

    1. On my part, I’d describe it as “confusion” instead of dissonance: it seems like the Roses in various chapters could be sorted into several types with quite distinct personalities. Rose’s personality or behavior often seem somewhat inconsistent from one chapter or arc to the next. It doesn’t help that we only see her from Blake’s increasingly antagonistic perspective. And that her words are often overtly hostile but can also be interpreted differently.

      And then there are all the factors which really could have dramatically changed her personality and her relationship with Blake throughout the story:

      Rose must have suffered extensive damage from Ur (look at what happened to Alexis!). She was bound by Conquest and is now influenced by him. And as you point out, she spent a month trapped in the mirror where she was less than human (no heartbeat etc) and had almost no agency.

      And then there’s Rose’s relationship with Blake, which was screwed up for many reasons – the Thorburn karma (first Blake’s, then Rose’s), Pauz’ influence, possibly knowledge of what she and Blake were. Concerning the latter, IIRC Rose definitely knew that she’d take his place if Blake died. But imagine if she also knew that he ruined everything he touched (similar to his inability to create), and that she was shackled to him and powerless to stop him.

      And presumably lots more which I forgot.

      Whatever the case, I also enjoy reading about this Rose.

    2. IMHORose’s character is fine. We haven’t seen her in anything resembling a normal situation from the beginning, first she basically lacked agency. Then we find out she lied to our hero. Then we find out she’s corrupted by Conquest. Then she bound our hero. While Blake is basically a determinator, I’m inclined to believe Rose is more of a guile hero, only we’re seeing her plans in the same sort of brief cuts most antagonists see them in, which makes her seem illogical.

    3. Ehh, there were a lot of things going on in the Conquest arc that could explain her actions. She was captured and tortured then tainted by Conquest in a way she couldn’t control like she seems to able to now. That and there’s protagonist bias.

    4. I suspect the taint from Conquest plays a bit into this. When she was trapped and powerless in the mirror, that part of her would have been railing against the confinement, making it even harder for her that it would normally have been. Now that she’s free and in charge (and might even have the connection somewhat under control), that influence of Conquest should be far more content.

    5. Rose started with using Blake as a basically a diversion for enemies and Karma. She was a royal asshat in the start for obvious reasons. Treating Blake like he wasn’t real when it comes down to it.

        1. Efficient though. Only problem I’d have is the fact that the laws of narrative causality would basically require Rose to come back as the final boss at that point. And Other Blake, with what little he knows of magic, and being trapped in the mirrors is scary. Other Rose, out of the mirrors, with what she knows…

  13. Not immediately related to this chapter, but I wanted to discuss geometry and mechanics of the mirror world for a long time. I’ve read plenty of comments, but not all of them, so forgive me if this topic was brought up before.

    First, how does mirror space relate to regular space. If people inside the house are seeing Blake as a reflection in the window, he has to be inside the mirror house as well, and he can see these people as a reflection in the mirrorworld window. At first I considered the alternative: that Blake has to be outside the house in the mirror world, looking through the window inside (so reflected surfaces work as windows, not as mirrors), but quickly rejected it based on combat descriptions.

    Question whether mirror space is identical or reflected copy of real space is somewhat philosophical and not extremely important. For what we know, location of Blake’s “heart” and his memories of where left and right are could have been altered; in such case he will be able to naturally read mirrored books, but will face some difficulties with “normal” text.

    So, mirror space basically repeats real space. But it is only illuminated around mirrors, the rest is darkness. There are mentions of “cones of light” originating from reflective surfaces. Presumably they correspond to what inhabitants of the real world can see through the mirrors. But we know that it’s not what they actually see at the moment (first, there were no mentions that these cones move, second we know that Blake can stand in a mirror around the corner, overhearing, without being seen by anybody). I also doubt that it is everything that could possibly be seen through a given mirror — in such case these cones would have so wide angle that they would be better described as half-spaces (if you get really close to the mirror, you can look almost parallel to its surface). So my current interpretation is that illumination represents something in between of these extremes: what could be typically seen in the mirror, or perhaps what spirits see. This notion is somewhat vague, but for a world that does not run on reductionist physics it’s ok. There is also a question how far into the mirror world such cone spans, but I’m also fine handwaving it away with Plato’s maxim (that it’s “not too short, and not too long either”).

    There were no mentions of rays coming from people’s eyes, so perhaps curved surfaces do not count. Or maybe it’s some form of Manton effect in action. Also, it appears that very small shards of glass and other degenerate mirror surfaces do not work. I understand it as only stuff that falls under the common sense idea of a mirror counts.

    Next, darkness. You can’t be in dark space. If you step into darkness, you automatically and seamlessly appear in the closest spot of light in that approximate direction. Very convenient for quick transportation. If you find yourself in darkness because of a sudden change in configuration of mirrors, you’ll get shunted to the nearest illuminated area.

    There is also small time lag before applying darkness mechanics, which allows for cool tricks like throwing objects through the mirror while at the same time breaking it.

    And finally, the part I have most doubts about. What does it mean to be in a mirror? Ok, if there is this shaft of light and you are standing in it, it’s pretty obvious that you are in the corresponding mirror. But what if scopes of two mirrors overlap? In other words, what if you are reflected in two mirrors at the same time?

    Blake never saw two images of Rose when she was in the mirror world. And so far nobody reacted as if they saw more than one image of Blake (that would affect combat scenes significantly, so I assume it did not happen).

    The model I came up with is that state of an object (especially animate one) in the mirror world, alongside with usual physical properties like coordinates and momentum, includes current_mirror variable. It is updated when you step through darkness or get shunted. If, while keeping inside one cone of light, you step into overlap area, the value of this variable will remain the same (to avoid visual discontinuities for outside observer). You will be reflected in the first mirror, but not in the second. Perhaps by closing his eyes and focusing in just the right way, Blake can change the value of current_mirror explicitly. I suppose it would look like mirror getting all cloudy and then clearing up without Blake in it (discontinuities caused by deliberate exertion of power do not offend my aesthetics).

    Is it also the case that mirrorworld Blake himself can’t see more than one image of real world person? If necessary, it’s easy to implement in this framework: all mirrors except his current_mirror do not look like mirrors to him, but perhaps like surfaces emanating light.

    Binding circle is not reflected in the mirror, so Blake can travel as far into the mirror world as light cone goes. It simply puts restrictions on changes to current_mirror variable.

    But we also know that regular objects can have more than one reflection. This means that there is a distinction between reflection of a real world object (which is not an independent object in itself) and proper mirror world object. Indeed, when Blake is in the mirror, apparently it does not produce regular reflections (except maybe for some background like floor and walls, so Blake would not appear standing in the middle of a void). How background is differentiated from foreground, well, I suppose it’s up to the spirits. It was explained that being present in the mirror, Blake automatically “pushes out” (disables) ordinary reflections, so they won’t challenge his vestige nature by accidentally intersecting with his body. When Blake concentrates in the right way, he can promote (disabled) reflection of real object in his current_mirror to an independent mirrorworld object, which gets it’s own current_mirror property set to the same value. Mirrorworld object, once spawned, is independent from its prototype, but sympathetic magic allows to establish connection between them afterwards.

    Does original keep making reflections in other mirrors? If so, it opens some munchkin possibilities like obtaining multiple mirrorworld instances from the same real object. Also, real object probably needs some way of keeping track which reflections of it were hijacked, otherwise this exploit would be even more blatant: real world accomplice puts object in front of mirror, Blake takes its mirror version and hides it, accomplice briefly removes original object from Blake’s view and returns its back, Blake produces second copy, etc.

    Thoughts?

    1. Wow, you put tons of thought into that. Well done! Maybe consider putting that on the Pact Web Serial Wiki?


      Mirror size: It seems the mirror somehow has to be “big enough for Blake to fit”, whatever that means:

      The window was small, high, and square. Occupying the space was difficult, as I stood on the ledge, my shoulder braced against the frame, my foot against the rest. If I’d needed to move, I might have risked falling. As it stood, the only risk I faced was slipping to the point I was moved over to the next patch of light. (11.3)

      But maybe I misunderstand, since Blake was able to carry Rose around with some kind of bike or car mirror.


      Darkness: There’s a very good chance that if you for some reason can’t reach that closest spot of light, you’ll fall through the cracks of the world into the Drains. See Blake’s escape in 11.2.


      Blake’s reflection: he has one (and even a shadow), though he can’t control it, and I’m not sure where he sees it:

      “He’d replaced the bathroom mirror. I stepped in there, and I gazed at my _reflection_.” (9.6)
      […]
      The further I got from Rose, the clearer my own reflection became. (10.1)
      […]
      “A shadow without a person to cast it, in the window. My eyes are sharp, you know.” (10.1)

      In any case, if Blake is able to sees his reflection, he must also be able see other mirrors.


      Reflected objects: As I understand it, all objects are originally reflected. When Blake enters a mirror, his nature as an Other alters it, and keeps new reflections from appearing, similar to a Manton effect which protects him from being hurt by newly reflected objects.

      Blake seems to think that when he affects the mirrorscape, it’s permanent:

      “If you look in the windows, you might be able to see my work, through the reflection. A diagram on the floor, in the mirror version of the factory.” (10.1)

      But that’s not necessarily the case with reflections of objects. I assume duplication either isn’t possible or, at the very least, it costs some power. And what if Blake leaves a mirror containing a reflected object? Does it disappear?


      Incidentally, I assume innocents can’t see neither the altered mirrorscape nor Blake. One person saw Rose’s reflection once, but that was all.

        1. Huh, very good point. If that works for other things, too, Blake has just acquired a new trick. Situational at best, but imagine how creepy that would be if he could pull it off: haunting practitioners by filling the mirror world around them with carved messages and threats that are somehow in every mirror they look at (if they’re surrounded by unawakened they’ll also look crazy, glancing frantically from mirror to mirror). Once the victim gets used to that, start using sympathy magic to make them also appear occasionally in the real world.

    2. Remember that covered mirrors aren’t places that Blake can occupy, I think the “cones of light” are just that, places where light would fall if it could travel through the mirrors.

      I also wondered about the layout of the mirror world. The best way I’ve been able to visualize how it could work is this: There are two parallel dimensions, real world and mirror world. Whenever Blake approaches a mirror (or makes an effort to allow it), the chunk of real world reflected in the mirror is copied over into the mirror world in the same position and orientation. The mirror is then set up so that all light that reflects from it is shunted to the other dimension. Therefore, when Blake looks in the mirror, he sees the image coming from the real world, and when practitioners look, they see the image coming from the mirror world (they would both see their world as normal and the other mirrored, which I think is correct). That of course leaves the question of why Blake never appears in multiple mirrors, which I don’t know the answer to…

      Oh, and any reflective surface seems to work for casting light into the mirror world. I believe it was mentioned that the shards of glass/mirror showed slivers of the real world, but there wasn’t enough there for Blake to actually stand on. (remember, many of the bits of glass would be face down or buried in the carpet so they have no light entering them). I also seem to remember Rose finding some barely reflective surface and mentioning that light was still coming through, but that it was much dimmer.

      Final thought: I’d like to see Blake go out after a bad rainstorm when there’s reflective puddles scattered everywhere.

      1. That would be hellish to fight him then. He breaks the puddle and it will return anew for him to strike through. Or worse your standing near a puddle and get pulled IN to his world.

        I kind of want to see an attempt to make a reflective body for Blake to occupy…

    3. Nice, a very well-thought-out explanation. I don’t know if Blake can be reflected in multiple mirrors, or see out of multiple mirrors. It hasn’t been mentioned yet, but presumably if he can do one he can do the other, and if not he can’t do either. I think whether he can occupy a mirror depends not on the mirror’s size but the size of the reflection; for instance the window was only reflecting its frame, leaving a very small place to stand, but Mags’ hand mirror was reflecting a patch of ground at least 4 ft wide. That might be why a broken mirror doesn’t work: if the pieces are on the ground they’re all still reflecting cones, but there’s no place to stand that isn’t touching darkness, unless you balance on one toe Mannequin style, standing on just the one fragment.

  14. Some theories..
    I wonder if Blake is a Barbatorem mote.

    Barbatorem had a hand in creating Blake, or so it seems.
    Blake lives in reflections – like Barbatorem and Ur
    Blake is unable to create, or was before Alexis help.
    Blake is carrying around the broken Hyena… also Barbatorem is associated with a blade.
    It feels a bit too much of a coincidence that Blake would find the Hyena right there at the exit from the abyss. Maybe the blade is not the actual Hyena at all, instead it is ‘Blake’, just like the blade probably is Barbatorem itsellf.

    Also, if abstract demons are sealed by creation/art.. maybe the tattoo Alexis created is a binding, or acts like one.
    Blake says she saved him, that he was unable to create. How did she help him create? By sealing the demon parts of him inside his human guise with art?

    I wonder if Blake has considered what exactly happen when he is reflected in peoples eyes..

    1. Ooooh, the tattoo-as-binding idea is brilliant. (Similar to the graffiti on Ur’s factory.) Though that would make more sense if Blake was related to Ur’s choir (darkness) than to Barbatorem’s (ruin), since the latter is an abstract demon and bound in a geometric diagram, rather than art. It’s in the description of 1.07.

      Concerning creation, as I mentioned above, it seems only Ur’s choir (darkness) cannot create.

      1. I can’t remember reading that only the darkness choir is unable to create, rather an explanation on how the darkness choir do not create despite leaving patterns of void.
        (Just like laying waste to a city does not create, even though it brings ruin into being). Just because it specifically mentions the darkness choir doesn’t mean that the other choirs can create.

        Or have I missed some part explicitly stating that other choirs can create?

        Also, the five of coins represent poverty – which can also be expressed as ruin. I think the card referred to Blake, not Allister. And it turns the card up explicitly as the answer to what the Hyena is.

        1. You’re actually right. Histories 7 says:

          The thing to note, however, is that these beings annihilate. In this, they are distinct from the other choirs. […] Unless otherwise noted (as in the Lonely Man’s subsection), that which is destroyed can be replaced, but it cannot be retrieved.

          This could indeed mean that the others only don’t annihilate, while still being unable to create. For example, they might steal, break, twist, pervert, deceive, etc; those are all distinct from “annihilation” in that the object or whatever can be retrieved (as opposed to just replaced), although it might not be repairable.

          Now that I think of it, quite a few of the phrases of the text are much more vague than they could be, and there are phrases like “I would suggest” and “I propose” as well.

  15. Whelp, this is going to get ugly, I can just tell. Anyone else worried about the implications that Blake can’t create?

    Sadly, I’m also starting to feel like at some point Blake is going to be, if not betrayed, left by his former friends in favor of Rose. With the very notable exception of Evan.

    1. Except Blake can create, at least simple stuff. Ur didn’t just let Blake walk out of its lair – he had to draw art to block it.

      1. A possible answer to that is he reiterated his false memories in drawn form, which is consistent with how demons circumvent the “no creation” rule by modifying the creations of others. His art was also made using a weapon to carve up the ruin..…

        1. Depends. There’s probably a distinction being made here between art and craft. While craft may require innovation, it is of a sort that’s built on extrapolation from requirements. “How can I make a cabinet that will fit in space X and will hold amount of stuff Y? Well if I apply technique Z…”. “True art” requires personal expression and intuitive leaps. Craft also tends to be handed down where art tends to involve discarding the old ways and creating novelty.

          In practice, of course, the two often intertwine – artworks generally have a sizable element of craft to them and objects built for utilitarian purposes can have an art to them.

          That needn’t necessarily hold true for Blake though. He may literally be capable of ‘craft’ but not ‘art’.

  16. I walked through my version of the room, and changed my focus. Letting go.
    It was harder than it had been.
    My first attempt failed.

    Admittedly, Blake is new to leveraging the mirror realm, but changes in the way the environment work are rarely good news. What does it mean that the mirror world is becoming harder to manipulate?

    1. Some suggestions:

      1. Blake lost too much power vs. Alister.

      2. Blake’s power is like Vista’s from Worm: it’s easier if fewer people are present.

      3. The situation made it harder to relax and let go.

      4. “Letting go” is meant literally, and refers to Blake’s human connections: the more human he becomes (e.g. by reconnecting with Alexis), the less power he has as an Other, and vice versa.

      1. I’m betting on #2. The mirror-world updates when he’s not paying attention to part of it, it seems reasonable that other people paying attention to the mirror-world might also stop it from updating.

  17. Web definition of malfeasance: wrongdoing, especially by a public official

    Laird is the most obvious person that could apply to, but he is dead. Do Sandra, Johannes, and Alister count since they are trying to become local Lords, which is sort of an official position?

    1. Official positions still extent in Jacob’s Bell: Witch Hunter (x2), Mediator, Behaim Head of Family (vacant, but Duncan is most likely the Acting Head). Though a persons parents are generally viewed as obligated to help their children survive in the world, and Rose’s parents acting against her with malice would meet the literal definition of the word’s root meaning. Especially if they’re getting her sent to a padded room knowing she’s not insane.

      Feasance (noun)
      an obligation or duty, the carrying out of such an obligation

    2. There’s also a legal definition of malfeasance that means acting in bad faith to disrupt and jeopardize something that had been contracted. The example I read referred to a company contacting a catering firm for a party and the catering firm being bribed by a competitor to cause food poisoning.

  18. Great chapter! Rose is as inscrutable as ever.

    Great lines: “Blake? Don’t make me regret letting you inside. Please.” and “The surviving part is something we should work on.” and “You don’t split up when there’s a horror movie monster after you, and we’ve got at least thirty equivalents in town right now.” and “Rose whistled, and Evan flew to her. I was supposed to feel bothered by that, but I was glad she had that.”


    Comments:

    “Share,” Rose said.
    I bristled at the order.
    […]
    “It was outside interference that was making them so much more loyal to Rose.”

    Blake still often interprets Rose’s words in a clearly negative light. How was that supposed to be an order? And conversely, he can’t imagine his friends would like or help Rose, despite them having lived together for a month…

    “Part of that was intentional. I had to push, to see how much you pushed back.”

    Wow, Rose. I don’t know whether to feel irritated or amazed.

    “You’re trying to intimidate me? Uncle P, you have no idea what I’ve been dealing with these past few weeks.”
    “Believe me,” he said, “I actually think I have an idea.”

    Paige is Uncle Paul’s son. It’s unlikely but possible that he actually does have an idea of what’s going on. In which case Rose would have accidentally lied. Actually, “you have no idea” seems like a dangerous turn of phrase for practitioners in general.

    “It’s _possible_ [that you’ll go out of control or turn evil], if the human in you loses out to the Other, but nothing’s confirmed. That’s not the concern.”
    […]
    “I didn’t [give you hints], not the kind I meant”

    If that’s not the concern, then maybe he’ll ruin things despite the best of intentions?

    Incidentally, Rose has brushed off Blake’s questions about Barbatorem’s bindings before. And in her awakening ritual, Rose associated the coin with ruin, Blake with fortune. Some more points in favor of him being connected with or born from Barbatorem of the Third Choir of Ruin.

    “You’re a hammer in search of a nail. What happens when everything is nailed down? When things were quiet after Toronto settled down, what happened? You went after the demon in the factory.”

    I’m of two minds about that revelation. I hated Blake’s sometimes stupidly suicidal actions, but I’m also not happy to find out that being suicidally reckless is (or was) at the core of his being.


    Rule of Three: Alexis was Blake’s reconnection with his third (human) friend. I hope that benefits his humanity, rather than spelling doom for himself or Rose…

    1. While Blake’s actions there were reckless, they weren’t wrong. Urr is eating away at reality itself. If it ever got past the god and ate the drains, I don’t think even the word cataclysmic would cover it. And eventually it was getting out. You can’t just leave a little problem alone and hope it goes away. That just lets in grow into a big problem. He was as prepared as anyone could be without being a full fledged Diabolist, and whats more, things were in some ways better. He got the sisters and the Astrologer to stop fighting, and had several of Toronto’s major powers working together against a common threat. It was the removal of the lynchpin that was Blake that made everything that he’d accomplished fall into ruin.

      1. I completely agree that Ur must be stopped, but fighting it then was just colossally stupid. It had been sealed for decades; there was no reason whatsoever to confront it with only a month’s worth of experience. That we have a justification for the suicidal action doesn’t make said action any better.

        Firstly, consider Blake’s insanity of picking his first fight with Ur (in 5.5): he forced himself to fight it even though he had just bled himself out and was barely able to walk! Rose even made him prove to her that he was “in good enough shape to do this”, and he cheated.
        In fact, this line of his was foreshadowing of his warrior identity: “Let’s say we _have
        to do this. I can’t speak for us, but I can speak for me, and I kind of do have to do this.”)

        Then consider the second fight: Blake knew he was fated to die soon, and Isadora had even offered him a clean death, which this one was not. Blake knew what happened to the survivors of Ur’s erased victims. And yet he took the risk and lost the high stakes he’d put up. The outcome in Toronto may not have been predictable, but it was completely avoidable. Oh, and I kind of forgot this, but Laird’s son had also just cursed Blake for the murder of his father: “Just… whatever you killed him to avoid? I hope you get worse.”

        What should Blake have done instead? The prophecy and him living on borrowed time were obviously restricting his actions, but if he had to fight monsters, fighting anything but Ur would have been the superior choice. Anything that offered a clean death.

        And if there had been neither prophecy nor the enemies of the Thorburn diabolists, Blake should have accumulated power (implement etc), freed Rose, become said full-fledged diabolist, and confronted Ur with an army.

        1. The first time Blake took on Urr he basically had to make a good faith effort at taking him down within Conquest’s deadline. And remember that he had a much better plan and resources than what we saw. What we saw is what was left of the plan after Urr retconned all Blake’s resources and support out of existence.

          The second time, he had every reason to believe he had the measure of the threat and had gone with more than enough firepower. They had every reason to believe they could just burn Urr out of existence.

          1. Also worth noting, he could have been even more prepared the second time, too, but we didn’t see that either because it got eaten.

  19. “I was cursed with an inability to create,”

    Interesting to see that this get’s the alarm bells going for a lot of other readers too.

    This screams Demonspawn to me. But I guess it’s not that simple.

    How did Rose prevent Blake from accessing books by the way? Was every reflective thing on that floor removed during the Drunk Priest fight?

      1. Even if it weren’t for that, just her telling him not to should be enough from his perspective, since he doesn’t want to completely destroy his relationship with her (and clearly accessing her library without her permission would do that.)

        From a narrative standpoint, I doubt he will get access to the library until after he’s found out what he is (since if he could read the books, he could figure it out, which wouldn’t be a very dramatic way to resolve that plot point.) More likely this means not until he’s been through the Drains again, since it’s been pretty heavily telegraphed that he will need to go there three times to resolve three questions about himself.

        1. since it’s been pretty heavily telegraphed that he will need to go there three times to resolve three questions about himself

          Can you point out where that happened? The way I understood it, Blake had to address his past (the scene with Carl; he’s a vestige, and his past is fake), present (the visions of Toronto and his friends; he left the world worse off) and future (the motorcycle scene; he’s in the mirrorverse), and he already did all that in the Drains.

          Besides, if Blake fell down again, he’d likely be forgotten again, and I just don’t see that happening as a plot point. On the other hand, Rose is a scourge (one who deals with those from the abyss), so it’s possible we’ll see her and/or Blake go there in that fashion, as practitioners or summoners.

    1. In some ways Demonspawn would be dissappointing because it’s too simple, and too obvious. Also Blake would be inherently wrong and thus for the good of his friends and the world would have to go. And who wants that?

      1. Who says that wrong can’t go right? Angels fall. Who says demons can’t be redeemed. Besides, would it matter?

        Even if he’s Wrong by birth the actions he’s taking aren’t. He’s been soaking up the Thorburn Karma like a sponge with trying to stop the demons and getting rid of Conquest…. provided Toronto doesn’t burn down by the time we get back to it.

        Judge not by birth or blood, but by actions.

        1. Consequentialism: Judge not by birth or blood or actions or intentions, but by outcomes. By that standard, Blake is still firmly in the red, thanks to his two amazing screwups: Ur and the mess left in Toronto, and awakening his friends.

          (That said, things get more problematic if we judge by expected outcomes, since Blake still doesn’t really know what he is. But if he turns out to be Barbatorem’s demonspawn, then the expected outcome of all his actions is ruin. That would make him an excellent weapon, but a horrible ally. Again, see Toronto.)

          1. Consequentialism: Judge not by birth or blood or actions or intentions, but by outcomes. By that standard, Blake is still firmly in the red,

            That discounts any change in karma which probably moved in the positive direction, since, at least in part, he seems to have been designed to do such.

        1. He also told Blake that he wasn’t that far removed from human, and could probably be pretty well human, if Blake joined Johannes side.

    2. I wonder: how does he even know that? Instinctive? Something formed or cobbled together from what made him? Something Grandma programmed into him?

      If the latter, could it be something to prevent him finding out what he, at core, is? Tell a kid they’re bad at something long enough, and they’ll stop trying as they’re convinced they’re hopeless. Even if they actually were really good at it, to start with. 😐

  20. Blake’s massive, massive bias against Rose and his denial of the possibility that she and the cabal might actually be friends is getting just a little bit grating. I do appreciate his moments of lucidity and self-reflection, and I hope that he doesn’t stop that.

    1. It’s all he has of the past life that was forged for him, artificial as it may be.
      He was a vestige made with the only good things in his life being them and meant to continue to cut his way through the enemies of the Thorburn family before burning out like some kind of bomb, a throw-away custodian for the sake of being used as a club. He’s going to cling to that like a drowning man clings to a raft, especially when you consider that’s the only reason he managed to pull himself out of The Drains.

      Well that, and to make the world a better place. I want him to go back to Toronto as soon as this is over and get to work. He’s got Pauz, the Eye, and Ur to deal with and I expect them to all be on a leash under his command soon enough.

      1. Careful, when that happens we’ll probably find out Rose has always been pure evil.

        Rose’s relationship with Blake has always been tainted by the fact that in order for her to be free he had to die, and be sacrificed for her benifit.

      2. I doubt he will, though. He was a vestige, half a person, who turned into a bogeyman driven out of the Drains (in part) to get revenge on Rose. Something tells me that the latter means it’ll be hard for him to not blame Rose, while the former means the latter will affect him all the more.

    2. KKkkkkaaaaarrrrrrmmmmaaaaaa. Rose has terrible Karma and its trying to turn Blake against her.

      Also Blake’s “Your using my friends!” No. She is keeping you friends safe after you took them to war in Toronto.

      1. His friends volunteered to take part in the war about which they didn’t quite grasp the true extent of what they were getting into. Blake offered multiple times for them to step out and he also kept them mostly out of the action.

        Maybe the thing that is really turning Blake against Rose is that

        1. She lied to him and manipulate him the whole way through which he only found out when he fell through the cracks. He was her fall guy, a useful tool meant to be killed when he had fulfilled his purpose.

        2. His friends once again decided to volunteer for another war but it seems entirely possible and even likely that Rose may have manipulated them. She called herself a bitch when Blake is defeated by the factory Demon because she knows she manipulates people to win.

        3. She imprisoned him while he was trying to help his friends, indirectly to help her as well. That’s another betrayal by her after he bought her time to recuperate against her enemies.

        4. Rose is keeping a lot of information from Blake concerning what he is and quite frankly she treats him like crap. For her it is in fact more convenient that he die now that he has outlived his usefulness and she doesn’t seem to care at all about his well being.

    3. That doesn’t seem true at all, Blake has some very good reasons to be biased against Rose.

      She lied to him and manipulate him the whole way through from the beginning which he only found out when he fell through the cracks. He was designed to be her fall guy, a useful tool meant to be killed when he had fulfilled his purpose. Rose knew about it but conveniently chose not to tell him any of it.

      Blake’s friends do seem to have volunteered for another war but it seems entirely possible and even likely that Rose may have manipulated them. She called herself a bitch when Blake is defeated by the factory Demon because she knows she manipulates people. I do believe she even thought about how she could use her connection to these people to manipulate them for her own purpose. The Rose before she met Blake was not a very good person at all.

      Another thing is that she imprisoned him while he was trying to help his friends, indirectly to help her as well. That’s another betrayal by her after he bought her time to recuperate against her enemies even know that he could at some point die in his prison. Fortunately for him, he escaped.

      Rose is keeping a lot of information from Blake concerning what he is and quite frankly she treats him like crap. For her it is in fact more convenient that he die now that he has outlived his usefulness and she doesn’t care at all about his well being.

      1. We don’t know whether Rose knew any of this before arc 1, although this chapter and clues strewn throughout the story strongly suggest it.

        We also don’t know whether Rose was able to lie. We only have that one line from hers that said she botched her awakening ritual, but that could well have been a consequence of Ur’s memory tampering. Besides, even if Rose somehow wasn’t fully awakened, she certainly wasn’t Innocent, or she couldn’t have seen many of the Others and ghosts they encountered throughout the story. And Ms. Lewis was able to notice when Rose lied; could she have noticed that if Rose wasn’t awakened?

        I don’t get why anyone would put the responsibility of Blake’s former friends into Rose’s hands. They are flawed individuals, but they certainly don’t seem the type to be easily manipulated. Would you really expect Alexis not to notice something like that after what she went through with Carl? More to the point, they are awakened and told Blake point blank that they helped her as a friend in need, and because she helped them.

        I agree that Rose is not a nice person, but she’s not responsible for setting Blake up as her warrior. That was Rose Senior.

        From my POV as a reader, Blake’s imprisonment was a clear net win for him (being allowed back into the house in one form or another, talking to his friends, and being safe for a day), though I understand if he doesn’t agree. And again, both Rose and Blake’s friends basically said this had to happen.

        Rose treating Blake badly is likely partly because of karma. She even maintains a somewhat distant relationship with Blake’s former friends (“Alright Tiffany”), because we know from Histories ~6 that that’s a way of minimizing the effect of bad karma on those you care about.
        And conversely, Rose’s bad karma and Blake’s origin as a bogeyman both negatively colour his impressions of her.

        And since it now seems very conceivable that Blake will turn out to be demonspawn (one who ruins everything he touches), that’s just one way in which Rose’s attitude could make even more sense.


        That said, Blake doesn’t have all our information. But I still wish he at least kept the whole karma-and-bogeyman thing in mind, and that he believed the words of his practitioner friends. They can’t lie, after all.

  21. Randomness: the thought that a powerful Djinn could be sent on odd jobs as a glorified, on-call, emergency glazier just to make the point that you can still makes me giggle a bit. I mean, seriously? xD

    That’s outrageous pimping behaviour you have there, Johannes.

      1. Twelve, attractive, her blonde hair normally straight but presently curled, spoiled rotten by Uncle Paul and Aunt Jessica, Roxanne managed to put a lot of bite into very simple criticisms.

    1. Eh. I don’t see the issue with it, but that was sort of me truncating one thought into a single word as I realized it was getting late in the day, deadline was coming, and I hadn’t yet covered the second leg of what I’d intended to cover in the chapter. Rewrote the paragraph to say what I meant to say.

  22. “We need a theme song,” Evan chimed in, behind me.
    Excellent prioritization, Evan.

    I’m a bit worried by Rose’s declaration at the end. Especially keeping the deadman switch in mind…

  23. So, “I sit in a cell while my deadman’s switch wreaks havoc until they agree to let me out” is, if you squint, in line with Rose’s tarot readings as suggested by Zoey. It’s waiting for a better outcome while simultaneously involving victory and conquest. I think it might be a bit stronger for Hanged Man, though, since Rose’s apparent plan involves a distinct lack of direct control. Maybe she’s going this route in order to counterbalance Conquest’s influence?

    1. Rose has shown a remarkable and admirable unwillingness to use demons so far. I would be very surprised if she suddenly did so.

      To suggest a more likely scenario, maybe she’s going to dominate her extended family with Conquest’s power, though I don’t know to which extent she can influence Innocents.

      1. I don’t know to which extent she can influence Innocents.

        Neither do I, but I got the feeling that Incarnations have much more latitude in exercising their power, and it probably works by proxy as well.

  24. It seems to me that with each social interaction,Rose’s connection with Blake’s fiends erodes,while his connection with them is getting stronger

    This will become important in a juncture….

Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s