Execution 13.3

Last Chapter                                                                        Next Chapter

We stopped moving once we were clear of the small war that was going on at the lakeside.

Evan settled on my new shoulder.

Green Eyes collapsed, rolling onto her back in the snow, and picked a small bit of glass out of one hand.  The blood looked surprisingly red against her pale skin.

“You okay?”

“Yes,” she said, smiling.  “This is nothing compared to where we were before, you know.”

War, blood, destruction and various Others roaming everywhere, cold, icy, generally hostile.  I wasn’t sure I agreed.

But I could at least say that this world wasn’t actively conspiring against me, right?

No.

Well, at least it wasn’t actively conspiring against me with some malign intelligence.  It was just general karma and bad luck.

“I’m glad you’re happy, all things considered,” I said.  It would have been douchey to disagree, and less than entirely honest to agree.

She smiled wider.

“Evan, how good are your eyes?”

“Good?  Try great.  It’s like having a superpower.  I’ve got bird eyes when I want bird eyes and human eyes when I want human eyes.”

“Great.  Jacob’s Bell isn’t that big.  Less than twenty thousand people, if I remember the sign on the highway right.”

“That’s a lot of people,” Green Eyes said.

“Figure two to six people to a house,” I said, “Eliminate a chunk by saying there are people in those squat apartment complexes, but we can probably rule them out.  The local families are established enough to have houses.  Stay away from the areas with apartments, and the downtown area where it’s all businesses…”

“Okay…?”

“I’m just thinking… Molly mentioned that Mags is with the junior council.”

“You want to find Mags?”

“Yeah,” I said.  “She’s… I’m somehow doubting that if all the junior Behaims and Duchamps and whoever elses are meeting, tonight of all times, they’ll be meeting at Sandra’s house or any of the major Behaim meeting spots.”

“Maybe,” Evan said.

“Process of elimination, to figure out what sort of places we need to look.”

“Not near the house, right?” Green Eyes suggested.

“Good,” I said.  “Right.  Unless they wanted a view… but they’d want to be safe, first and foremost.”

“And out of their parent’s way,” Green Eyes added.

I nodded.  “They’ll have guards.  Both against each other and against outside threats.  If what happened here happened there…  chaos.  A bunch of kids trying to get their bindings in order while their Others are now free.”

“Okay,” Evan said.  “That’s something I can look for.”

“Loop back regularly,” I said.  “Don’t get too far away.”

“Got it,” he said.

Evan took flight.

I looked down at Green Eyes, who was looking up at me.  Her hand still had a small wound in it.

“You shouldn’t crawl with your hand like that,” I said.  “Especially with the salt on the road.”

“It’s mostly healed, and I’m tougher than I look…” she said, trailing off as I offered her a hand. “But, um, sure!”

She smiled a little too wide as I lifted her up, pulling her back to a piggyback position.  Her tail encircled my middle, to anchor her in place.

I followed Evan, carrying Green Eyes.  I could barely see him in the dark, a white and brown shape against a background of pitch black.

I felt a stab of envy.

“What are you thinking?” Green Eyes asked.

“Right now?  I’m wondering if I could make wings out of branches, or if the cost would be too great.  Getting the ability to fly would be an awfully nice compromise for losing my motorcycle.”

“Can’t you ride now?  Like this?”

I looked down at my hands of wood.  “With gloves, clothing covering me head to toe, and a full helmet, maybe.  But it wouldn’t be my bike.  I know that sounds stupid, but… man, I remember working my ass off for that bike.  Skipping meals to put an extra five bucks in the jar.”

“Skipping meals?” she asked, aghast.  It took me a second to realize she was joking.  Poking fun at herself.

I hadn’t really thought about her having a sense of humor.

“I was homeless for a while, I got used to being hungry.  For a while, it felt like my body forgot how to tell if it was hungry or not.  Sometimes I’d be ravenous just after I’d finished a meal, and sometimes I’d realize I hadn’t eaten all day.”

“I know what that first bit is like,” she said.  She shifted position, and settled her chin on my shoulder.  The point of her chin might have dug in a little, but I wasn’t that easy to hurt.

This would be the time to talk, I thought, but nothing came to mind.

“We don’t really know each other that well,” I spoke my thoughts aloud.  “Beyond the obvious.”

“Yeah,” she said.  Then, impulsively, she shifted her grip and raised her chin off my shoulder.  You wish you could fly?  I wish I wanted my motorcycle,” she said.

“Huh?”

“I mean, I wish I had something I wanted like you want your motorcycle.  But I didn’t.  There was nothing left for me to want so I went and I went to the Drains.  I had no reason to stay and nobody and nothing wanted me back.  I think if I’d even had a dog, that would have been enough to keep me out?  Or get me back out when I started to go in there?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“I feel like the biggest loser, when I think about it all like that,” Green Eyes whispered.  “Better to think about food and comforts and being useful and company.

Her arms and tail squeezed me just a little tighter.

Right.

“Well, I’m here,” I said.  “So you’ve got me.”

“And there’s food,” she added, as if she’d forgot.  “Can’t forget the food.  Thinking about food is good.”

Don’t eat me,” I reminded her.

“Okay.  Until you’re dead.”

“Until I’m dead, no eating me.”

“Got it.”

Evan returned.  “That whole block is a no.  Nothing except some goblins which might be coming this way.”

“Okay,” I said.

“Going thataway,” Evan said.  He didn’t even point before he headed off.

I glanced around for the goblins that were apparently headed this way, and didn’t see them.  I picked up the pace all the same.  My feet were wood, as were my toes, and though the general shape matched the feet I was supposed to have, they had a gnarled texture, branches criss-crossing one another, mingling like roots grown over one another.  They bit into snow like the best pair of rugged boots.

Green Eyes grabbed me a little tighter, getting a better grip as I picked up the pace.  Her fingers hooked on branches and bones, some even inside my body.

It struck me that I was okay with it.

That I’d been okay with it, even since the revelation that, yes, I was a vestige, or something close to one, but my memories were real.  Carl was real.

That was hard to process, and I didn’t like where my thoughts were going, as I dwelt on it.

I spoke my doubts aloud, instead.

“I didn’t miss the implications, when you talked about company,” I said.

She squeezed me just a bit tighter, like it was an involuntary thing.

“I’m not very good with girls,” I said.

“I’m not a girl.  I’m a mermaid,” she said.

“Someone once tried to use sex to control me,” I said.  “It was one of a few ways he had of getting into my head.  Touching other people, even being friends with people, it was hard.  It’s hard to untangle the good stuff from the bad memories.  I get a hug, and the first place my mind goes is to… him, and the person he wanted me to be, leading the life he wanted me to live.  Because back then, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get girls or hugs or friends again, if I didn’t get the ones he and his people offered me.”

“Was he more family?”

“No,” I said.  “But I think he wanted to be.”

“Do you want me to let you go?  I can crawl.  My hand is better.”

“It’s fine,” I said.  “I’m… I thought it wasn’t real, but recent events have opened my eyes.  It’s hard to reconcile it all.”

Snow crunched under my feet as I tried to keep up with Evan.

Green Eyes’ head turned about a second before I heard more crunching.

And there were the goblins.

Bigger than the others I’d seen around Jacob’s Bell.  Almost human in size, but with monstrous features.

A fat one had rings in his nose, with chains reaching over and to either side of his head, making an already large nose into almost a pig snout, his hair looked like it had been shaved off with a rusty knife, and his upper row of teeth were exposed by the way the nose was pulled up and stretched.  Both upper and lower rows of teeth had double-edged razor blades or box cutter blades stuck between each tooth.

The female goblin in the group was swaddled, a scarf or two wrapped around her head.  Her eyes glowed like red dots in the shadows where her eyes were, while a long, narrow tongue lolled out of a gap between wrappings.  Her hair was long and tangled.

Two more, of matching height and build, were muscular, and far too hairy to be real people.  Thick sideburns and bristly hair on their heads was normal enough, but their necks were hairy as well.  Their teeth were pointed.  They were built like bodybuilders.

Unlike so many of the small ones I’d seen, these ones were fully clothed, and they were armed.  Winter coats, scuffed leather jackets, pants, and general accessories.  Fatty had two large butcher’s cleavers that looked like they could take a head clean off.  The woman goblin had a pole or a pipe, and the men had smaller weapons in each hand – knife, bottle, knife and hatchet.

“When I said I wanted company, I meant it,” Green Eyes said, her voice low.  “I’ve been awfully alone for a very long time.  Even before I fell into the water.”

“Yeah.”  We’re talking about this while we’re about to be attacked?  I would have said something, but… Green Eyes had been helpful.  Unquestionably helpful.  If she was untrustworthy at all, it seemed like a fairly predictable sort of untrustworthiness.

If she did like me, I wasn’t about to make this harder.  It was a bad idea to screw around when sensitive feelings were on the line.  It risked making friends into enemies.

“It’s like the bit of glass in my hand,” she said.  “Things have sucked for so long, even this… inconvenience, it’s cool.  It’s great, like the nugget said.  Because I’m not there.  I’m not dealing with that.”

“Yeah,” I said.

The goblins were spreading out, drawing closer.

“If we’re here and we only ever talk, that’s great,” she said, as she climbed off me.  She dropped to the ground, elbows bent, ready to pounce, “If you’re carrying me that’s great, too.  If you decide you want to date or whatever it is monsters do together, or if you want to do something with none of the strings attached or people trying to make you into something you’re not, then that’s great.  Better than great.”

“I’m not sure how this is going to turn out.”  If we’ll survive the night?

“So?  You’re being weird and overthinking it.”

I think you’re being weird by talking about it right now, when we’re about to get in a damn fight.

“I don’t want to mislead you, or hurt your feelings.”

“You got me out of there.  You freed me and you didn’t have to.  I’m not… you’re not that guy you were talking about.  You’re you and you helped me and you’re my hero.  Hell, you offered to let me eat you.  You’re nice.”

“That’s an odd metric for nice,” I said.

“I don’t think big about the future, I don’t think complicated.  The only way you’re going to hurt me is if you lie to me or if you decide you never want to see me again.”

“I don’t think I can lie,” I said, “And in terms of the future, if we make it out of this, if I’m being honest, I’ve always thought of the future as this place I’d go where I could get away from it all, get away from everyone…”

She wasn’t facing me, but I could see the muscles in her arms and back tense.

“…But,” I said, “You’re on the short list of company I’d like to keep, anyway.  Only way that’s going to change is if you eat someone I care about.”

“Great!”

“‘Ey, fish,” one of the hairy goblins said.  He moved his knife over to the hand with the bottle and then groped his man-parts.  “You want company?  I got some right ‘ere.  Two ‘andfuls.”

To his credit, it did look like two.

“Already stanks like pussy,” the other hairy goblin said. “Fishy smell.  Gets the heart pumping, ‘ey?  You can ‘ave us both at the same time, fishy.  If you’re good, we won’t cut you up for sushi after.”

I saw her tense.

Thinking she was stressed or bothered delayed me by about a second.  Then I realized who I was thinking about, and only just managed a “Wait!”

But she pounced.  Strength of arms and tail together, she covered a solid ten feet, from ground to eye level.

Right for the one with the knife and hatchet.

He staggered back a few steps, trying to keep from being bowled over.

It was pretty impressive he managed to keep his feet at all.  They were strong.

But Green Eyes’ jaw strength wasn’t that bad, either.

She sank her teeth into his throat.

Dropping the hatchet, grabbing her hair, he tried to pull her away.  It wasn’t that effective – basic engineering at work.  To get her to let go, he’d have to pry her jaw open, or pull her teeth out of his throat sideways.

She swung her tail around and up, and slapped the second hairy one in the face.  Pulling the tail away, she removed a full quarter of the face, and sent him staggering toward me.

Having them both at the same time, in a way.

I was already moving forward, acting on instinct.

The goblin’s arms were already up around his face, so I went for the body, rather than risk hitting the arms.  I stabbed him in the ribcage, stomach, then a few more times in the ribcage.

I wasn’t sure what I was stabbing for, and he was big enough that I wasn’t sure the Hyena’s relatively short blade was penetrating anything vital.  If goblins had the same vitals.

I stabbed, then cut, forcing it out sideways.  The blade penetrated between two ribs, and exited about a half-foot below the armpit.

I couldn’t focus too much on the one.  Green Eyes was still attacking the other, and the other two goblins were on the attack.  Fatty and the woman goblin with the tongue.

The woman squared off against me, which left Fatty to go after Green Eyes, cleavers in hand.

The woman goblin’s pipe was held like a spear.  I could smell the substances on the end.  Caked in shit and blood, from the smell of it.

I tried to move around, but she was almost as fast as I was, and her weapon had reach.  She jabbed for my face.  I slashed back in retaliation, trying to strike the spear.  I hit only air.

“Watch out!” I called out.

The fat one was attacking, cleavers swinging.

Green Eyes leaped away, pushing herself off with as much force as she’d leaped onto the hairy goblin.

In that half-second where I was looking, the woman goblin caught my throat with her tongue.  She turned in a quick circle, her tongue winding around her head, then leaned her head back in the same moment her spear came forward.

I managed to turn my head just in time to avoid losing an eye.  The spear’s point raked the side of my head, digging over my scalp.

She leaned to one side, using the fact that my head was turned, pulling me just a bit off balance.

Enough that I couldn’t do anything as she stabbed the spear through the bottom of my chin.  The point hit the back of my throat.

I could taste it.  The metal, the shit, the blood.

I cut with the Hyena, but the tongue was already retracting.

The spear was yanked out, and I was pulled forward.  I caught myself, and backed away before she could stab me somewhere else.

Tongue came out, lighting fast, like a frog’s, and caught my knee.  She retracted it, pulling her head back, and tried to pull my leg out from under me.

I wasn’t that lightweight, though she did succeed in making my feet slide on the road’s surface, where tires had packed the snow down into an almost ice-like slickness.  She retracted her tongue in the instant I started to swing the Hyena.  I saw the spear coming, and elbowed it off course with a change in direction of my still-moving sword arm.

Fatty appeared at her side, cleavers in hand.

“Nuh,” she said.  “Mah fog!”

“Share,” Fatty sneered.

“Mah fog!” she said, her voice shrill.  She swung the spear, striking him across the face with the flat of it.

He swung the cleaver at her head.  She ducked out of the way.

My throat was healing, but slowly.  I wasn’t sure I could speak, with the damage to my tongue.

I couldn’t call a message to Green Eyes.  We were allies on the battlefield, but until we could communicate, we weren’t much of a team.

These two were mine to deal with.

I took a step forward.  Tongue slashed the spear’s point in the general direction of my head, and I was forced to stop and back away a step.  She then kicked fatty in the side, screeching, “Mahn!”

He swatted the cleaver in her direction again.

Green Eyes was retreating, trying to get into a position where she could pounce, but the hairy one I’d stabbed and the hairy one she’d bitten in the throat were giving chase.  She couldn’t stop for a second without letting them get close enough to hurt her.

Fatty saw me edging in Green Eyes’ general direction, and hurled a cleaver.

I barely registered it, but instinct won over.  My left arm came up to shield my face, and the cleaver bit deep enough to hit bone.  I was surprised to see blood.  My grip on the Hyena slackened.

At my throat too.

Great.  They were fighting among one another, and I was still losing.

Bigger goblins weren’t slouches in a fight, it seemed.

He was reaching into a pocket.  I started to back away, ready to dodge, and the tongue caught me.

He hurled a snowball, with surprising strength, right for my face.

My hand caught it.

Bits of broken glass and gravel fell to the ground as the ice and snow crumbled.  He’d thrown it hard enough that two of the nails in the midst of the snowball had stuck into the wood of my hand.  Not even a little.  I’d have to pull them out, and my other hand already had the Hyena stuck in it, and a cleaver in the arm.

Man, fuck goblins.

I couldn’t even reach up to grab the cleaver with the nails in the way.  I brought my hand up to my mouth, gripped the nails with my teeth, and-

He hurled the snowball from the other pocket.

I twisted my body and face away, but it still struck me in the temple.  I kept moving, walking away, but I was staggering a bit, and the snow and glass in my eye was making it hard to stay focused on the pair.

I didn’t even see Tongue before she’d cleared the distance between us.  She was airborne, spear in both hands, and thrust it, right for my chest.

I thought of Evan.  He wasn’t here, as far as I knew, but he would have been really helpful to have around.  It was a moment’s inspiration, but I moved as I might if he were present, pushing me.

I twisted around, turning almost three hundred and sixty degrees.  The spear slid past me.

Barely looking, she took a step back, and used the butt end of the spear to catch one of the chains that extended around Fatty’s head, and ripped it away from his nose.  “Mahn!  Mah gob!  Mah kill ya!?”

I finished turning, stumbling as I faced her again.  I tugged the cleaver from my forearm.

Fatty, bleeding profusely from a ruined nose, pointed at me, as if reminding her she was still fighting.

Tongue stabbed.  My eyes weren’t on the spear.  I watched her face-

Saw the wrappings part.  I started moving before I even saw the tongue.

The Hyena cut it.

“Ahhhhn!  Gahhrk!”

She stabbed, but this time I had the advantage.  I caught the pole with both of my weapons crossed into an ‘x’ of sorts, and pushed it down and away.  I managed to step close enough that I wasn’t in danger of being stabbed with the spear’s point, and uncrossed the weapons, cutting her forearms.

She backed away before I could hit anything more vital.

I backed away as well.

I saw Fatty moving in the corner of my eye.  I ducked the thrown cleaver.  It hit a more distant window, across the street.

“Blake!”

After so much guttural non-speech from a goblin who had far too much tongue in her mouth, the very clear voice was almost disorienting.

I turned to see that the one I’d stabbed several times had the bottle in hand.

He’d turned it into a molotov.  Cloth sticking out the top, already lit.  The cloth wasn’t well soaked, it seemed, and it wasn’t burning all that well.

Still, a molotov.

His hairy buddy was keeping Green Eyes at bay, keeping her from interfering.

I threw the cleaver at the bottle.

No years of practice at butchery here.  I missed.

The goblin, though, backed away a step.  A bit too much.

He raised his hand to his wounded side, in reaction to some pain the movement had elicited.

I turned on the spot, bull-rushing him.

Because…

I didn’t have a great idea of why I was charging the guy with fire, when I was mostly made up of dry wood.

But it put Tongue Spear and Fatty McCleaver behind me.

I kicked the hand with the bottle.  It was on the far side of me, and the end result saw the bottle falling free, a couple of feet away.

The resulting fire was far, far less impressive than I’d anticipated.  The pool was barely two feet across.

He’d probably already drank the rest.

The other side effect of my attack was that I’d practically collided with the goblin, my chest touching his chest.

I reached over and dug my hand into the wound I’d carved out with the Hyena.  He flinched, and I used the opening to stab his throat.

He still didn’t go down.

I saw his eyes widen.

Looking over my shoulder.

I moved, and Tongue’s spear impaled him, right through the middle.  Now he went down.

She backed away, tugging the spear free before I could attack her.

The ones who remained were scared, now.  I could feel it, clarifying me.  Mending me.

Was this how the monsters in the movies got the energy to keep going, just when you thought they were down?

Green Eyes moved to my side.  Her hairy goblin’s throat now fully torn out.

“I’m in a good mood,” she said.  “You do not want to get in the way of that.”

I saw Tongue Spear and Fatty McCleaver exchange looks.

Fatty wiped the blood away from the side of his face.

Then, very deliberately, gave us a very bloody middle finger.  Because just flipping the bird normally wasn’t emphatic enough.

The remainder of the fight took less than a minute.  Tongue Spear didn’t have a full-length tongue anymore, and Fatty didn’t have any more cleavers or snowballs.  They were scared, even if they’d decided to fight to the end, and that only helped us.

In the end, we had them broken and bleeding, lying on the ground.  Green Eyes had Fatty pinned, and I had Tongue at bladepoint.

“I’ll let you live, but I need concessions,” I said.

“Gkkk, hrrgle,” Tongue gurgled.  She snorted, looked for an instant like she was going to spit in my face, then twisted her head around and spat a mouthful of mucus and blood on the side of Fatty’s face instead.  “Mak krggle,”

Even less intelligible with a length of her tongue lopped off.

I wished I could sigh.

“You,” I said, to Fatty.

“What want?”

“See any gatherings of young practitioners around?” I asked.

“Wut?”

“Kids?”

“No.”

I frowned.

“Who sent you?  Who brought you here?”

“Goblin King Hal Spikedick.”

“Is his wife blonde?”

“Fuckably,” Fatty sneered.

Green Eyes gave me a sidelong look.

“I need a promise you’re going to never attack or hurt another-”

I could see his expression change before I was even done speaking.

“Nevermind,” I said.  “Does the binding Mr. Spikedick arranged keep you from doing that whole ‘turn into a weapon’ thing?  Binding yourself?”

He shook his head.

“Because the third option, after pacifism and you doing the weapon thing, is me putting you down right now.”

It took him only a second.  His skin peeled like old paint, and the rest of him crumbled.

What didn’t crumble congealed.

I reached into the congealed mass and pulled out a fairly shoddy looking piece of meat cleaver.  Where the blade would normally be flat, a bit had been carved out of the middle, in the shape of an animal with legs splayed out like roadkill.  The genitals, I noted, were both generous in size and displayed erect, sticking out into the carved-out portion.

When I gave it a shake, the blade rattled in the wooden handle.  It didn’t give the impression of something well made.  I doubted it would last for more than a few whacks.

I looked at Tongue.

She turned her head and spat.

She dissolved much in the same way.

I picked a length of chain out of the muck.  Rusty, with barbed wire woven through it to the point that it was impossible to hold easily.  I had to give it a few shakes to get most of the bodily fluids off of it.

“Want?” I offered Green Eyes.

She gave me a look like I was crazy.  It was extra effective, considering it came from the mermaid with goblin blood all over her face and chest.  The blood was fitting into the cracks between the finer scales, making them more pronounced.

“Right,” I said.  I wrapped the chain around my arm, over the sleeve of my sweatshirt.  I looked around.  “Where the fuck is Evan?”

We spent a moment looking, then started moving, Green Eyes crawling at my side.

In about twenty seconds, Green Eyes perked up.

Her hearing was slightly better than mine.  I could hear Evan.

“Help help help help help-”

Growing louder with each ‘help’.

He flew past.

Green Eyes lunged, and caught the gargoyle-thing that was chasing Evan out of the air.  She landed in a snowbank with a bit of a puff of snow, before shaking her head like a dog might, killing it.

Evan settled on my shoulder, very obviously breathing hard.

“Couldn’t-” he started.

“Breathe.”

“Could- couldn’t turn.  Or he’d get me.  Used my Evan-mojo, dodge.  Kept having to fly away.  Saw a chance, space in trees, big enough for me.  Not him.  Turned, flew here.  Thank you, thank you.  Good mermaid.”

“Bleugh,” Green Eyes said, dropping the gargoyle.  “It’s not meat.”

“Then I really owe you one,” Evan said.  “For saving me.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.  Because fairness is power and power is my road to awesome, and because I’m really really super duper grateful I didn’t become gargoyle food.”

“Food, then.”

“Yeah?  What food could I provide?  I’m a sparrow, I’m dead, I’m…”

I pointed, and we started moving again, still talking.

“A snack,” Green Eyes said.  “Um.  I’m really hankering for chicken nuggets.”

I shot her a look.

Real chicken nuggets,” she said.

“I’m not sure real chicken nuggets exist.”

“Real, like from a fast food place.”

“Now I’m not sure what not-real chicken nuggets are.  You mean homemade ones?  Are those even a thing?  Do people make homemade chicken nuggets?  I’m suddenly really interested.”

“Sort of?” Green Eyes said.

She looked up at me.

“I’m not digging you out of this one,” I said.

“Digging?  Did I miss something?” Evan asked.  “I missed something.  What did I miss?”

I could hear the tolling of the bell.

Distant.  Whatever was happening at the lakeside, it hadn’t ended yet.

“Put a pin in that thought,” I said.  “I promised Molly I’d help her against Sandra.  That promise holds.  Did you see what we were looking for?”

“No, not exactly.”

“What, exactly?”

“It’s a barrier.  A big one.  It’s protecting an area.  And I’m pretty sure I saw guards.”

“A barrier.”

“Around a neighborhood.”

“Show me.”

“It’s not super obvious.  But… this way.”

“Okay,” I said.

“So, about the chicken nugget thing,” Evan said.  “Green Eyes?  Can you explain?”

I let them talk as we moved, watching Green Eyes be uncomfortable

The barrier was three blocks away.

Except it wasn’t quite a barrier.

“Do you get it?” Evan asked, “Because I’ve flown over this town a lot, and I still almost didn’t get it, especially being distracted by the gargoyle things.”

“Things, plural?” I asked.  Perched at my shoulder, he used a wing to point.

They  were flocking.  Them and something larger.

The skies weren’t much safer than the ground.

But they were avoiding one area, and by doing so, they were being forced into tighter clumps.

Ah.

“They’re being redirected,” I said.  “It’s… almost impressive.”

“What’s impressive?” Green Eyes asked.

I looked around, and confirmed my suspicion.  “Opposite side of the street… George, Chapel, Hubert street…”

“Yeah?”

“This side of the street… George, Hubert.”

“One’s missing?”

“It’s… hidden,” I said.

“Tucked away or something,” Evan said.  “I tried to fly into it, but I got turned around, and then the gargoyle came after me.”

“Protecting a territory,” I said.  “Seems like something Duchamps might do.  Direction and redirection.  Powerful enchantment.”

“Maybe,” Evan said.

He took off, flying toward the section of road between George and Hubert.

The second he was out of view, flying close to the rooftop, he came right back.

“Huh,” he said.  “What?”

He hopped around on my shoulder, trying to get different perspectives, to the point that it got annoying.  I raised a hand and placed it gently on top of him, to hold him still.

“Let me try,” I said, out of sheer curiosity for what it was like to get turned around so readily.

I passed between houses, into a backyard.

Passing a point, halfway across the backyard, I felt a stir of wind.  My hair, grimy as it was, didn’t move the slightest, but my sweatshirt fluttered momentarily.

I had to check three times to make sure I was still on course.

I… was immune?

It took nearly a minute of thought before I connected the dots.

“Guys,” I shouted.

“Yeah!?” Evan called back.

“Back in a bit!  Don’t worry unless it’s a long bit!”

“Define a long bit!”

“Do you have a watch?”

“No!”

“Then does it matter, if you have an exact time?”

“No!”

“Bye!” I called out.  “Back soon!”

I passed through the backyard.

In doing so, I must have tripped a secondary barrier, because I got attention.

There were Others on the street.  Shadowy, fat, tall, figures, with eyes that glowed like coals.  All wore loincloths, and looked like they were made of condensed smoke.  Their expressions were bestial.

If I’d never seen a demon before, I might have taken them for demons.

Three of them.

I watched a woman stride out of one house, approaching.

I’d tripped an alarm, so to speak.

I spread my arms, glad I’d already sheathed the cleaver.  I wasn’t as menacing as I might have been if I were fully armed.

It was the sister.  The one that Joyce had dragged away from the gathering of Duchamps.

This wasn’t what I’d wanted.  I’d wanted the junior council.

“I talked with your sister earlier,” I said.

“You’re the reason she’s acting strange?”

She had that general tone to her voice, one of the ones that made me instantly dislike certain people.  As if she were trying to sound casual, but came across as hostile by default, because that was just how she was.

I ignored it and nodded.

“Sitting on the couch, eyes on the floor, nonresponsive, except to take the food and water I gave her.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“What did you do?”

“I spared her,” I said.

“Spared?”

“The alternative was that I’d cut her throat,” I said.  “But I overheard her talking to Lola on the phone, and…”

I shrugged.

“I could end you right now,” she said.  But I felt how spooked she was.  I’d waded past their defenses.

“Maybe,” I said.  “But, before you decide to, I should tell you that your sister swore to take no action to stop or interfere with me.”

“That’s why you were able to get past the barrier.”

“Is it?  That’s not my point.”

“Get to the point, then.  It sounds like all hell is breaking loose down there, and I don’t like being outside,” she said.

“Your sister took you away, which did help.  One less person for me to deal with.”

“Deal?” she asked.

I saw her expression change fractionally.

“I played a role in killing your husband and his brother,” I said.  I left out the Duchamp woman.

She staggered like I’d struck her.

Damn her,” she said.  “That wasn’t her call.”

But she sounded different.  The hostile tone was gone.

She sounded a little choked up.

“It wasn’t,” I agreed.  “Me and my friends did it.  Now, I’m not looking for a fight, here.”

She didn’t respond.

“I want to speak to Lola,” I said.  “Where can I find her?”

“Inside,” she said, still sounding dazed.  She seemed to rally her senses.  “If you think I’ll let you in-”

“Just ask,” I said.  “I’ll meet her out here if need be.”

“I…”

Please.

I watched her turn to go.

It was an awkward few moments, waiting with the smoky things, quite possibly ogres, standing there, staring at me.

She emerged.

“Come in.  Protections inside are a better safeguard than anything inside.  If you try something-”

“I don’t intend to do anything overt,” I said.

“Overt?”

I shrugged, “I only want to talk, ideal world.”

“Your funeral if you don’t.”

I passed inside.

Much as before, I could sense the change.

Not an ordinary home.

Sure enough, Joyce was on the couch, sitting on her hands.  She looked at me.

Lola was standing by the kitchen table in the adjoining room.  It was an open concept, and we had a clear view of one another.

“You again,” she said.

“Not meeting the junior council?” I asked.

“I am,” she told me.

I raised an eyebrow.

She took a step to the side.  I could see the laptop on the table.

“Ah.”

“What do you want?”

I gestured to the laptop.

“Um, I don’t-”

“Please.  And a phone.  This is important.”

I saw her look at her mother, who only stared at the floor.

“I think maybe you’d better leave,” Lola said.

“I helped kill your aunt’s husband,” I said.

Her eyes widened.

“I’m interested in continuing the process.  But, here’s the thing, I get it if you can’t tell me to go after your fiance.”

“Um, yeah.”

“But I’m suspicious that if I put out an open call, asked the Duchamp kids in the chat… he wouldn’t be the only one that deserves to die, harm to the family aside.”

“That’s-”

“I only want to ask,” I said.  “And open a proper discussion.  Unfiltered.  Nothing more.”

I saw her look at her aunt.

“Who are you calling?”  she asked.  I had her.

“Thorburns,” I said.  “Or a friend, who can get my cousins online.”

Last Chapter                                                                        Next Chapter

Advertisements

214 thoughts on “Execution 13.3

      1. Also:

        “I played a role in killing your husband and his brother,” I said. I left out the Duchamp woman.

        I thought that the necromancer was her husband, not the ogre shaman.

      2. Her eyes glowed like red dots in the shadows where her eyes were
        -clumsy phrasing

        I barely registered it, but instinct won over. My left arm came up to shield my face, and the cleaver bit deep enough to hit bone. I was surprised to see blood. My grip on the Hyena slackened.

        At my throat too.
        -What’s at his throat? This bit seems to be floating, disconnected.

        The cloth wasn’t well soaked
        -italicized T.

    1. overthinking
      usually over thinking

      Nevermind
      usually Never mind

      snowbank
      usually snow bank

      You wish you could fly?
      missing an opening quote

    2. “Come in. Protections inside are a better safeguard than anything inside. If you try something-“

      better than anything outside?

    3. You wish you could fly? I wish I wanted my motorcycle,” she said. –> quotation marks not opened

      lighting fast –> lightning fast

      watching Green Eyes be uncomfortable –> period

      Protections inside are a better safeguard than anything inside. –> anything outside?

    1. But but she didn’t use her hooks! Which makes it like a cat that chooses not to over-use its claws when climbing your shirt — lovable, a potential threat which chose to be careful on you because it loves you.

      Just saying, she’s kind of the ideal dark-and-edgy mermaid love interest.

  1. She had that general tone to her voice, one of the ones that made me instantly dislike certain people. As if she were hostile by default.

    Yeah, you just hinted you had a hand in traumatizing her sister. No fucking shit she sounds hostil, Sherlock. Oh, my how dare her not be happy about you attacking her family.

    Sorry, sorry. It’s jus that Blake completely blew threw my petulance threshold with that one line.

    I have to wonder what Blake thinks he’s doing here. Ostensibly he seems to want to assassinate Duchamp allies with consent. But with the situation the adults are currently in it can seem that he’s going to manipulate the Duchamp into indirectly getting their direct family killed by robbing them of firepower at a crucial moment.

    Considering that he explicitly said he wants to avoid going after their kids, and that he’s supposed to be against the rules lawyering manipulative bullshit like Ben is. That hypothetical plan above would be a pretty big step in going against everything he thinks he stands for.

    1. It doesn’t quite square with the “getting his cousins online” thing though. And, I mean…it’s not like he needs permission to go after the Duchamp husbands. He could do that anyway. And the Duchamp kids are all trained enchantresses who go after diabolists they see on the street with faerie with giant swords, so I sort of doubt that they’re going to let any weaknesses slip to him.

      Actually, why is he trying to get his cousins online? Getting his cousins online seems like a good way to sabotage any potential sympathy for them, given his cousins. Unless it’s Christoff, but then Christoff might just alienate people by pointing out that he is now an only child thanks to them.

      1. Considering that as far as he knows his cousins are still in the abyss, this could amount to bringing a direct link to the abyss in the middle of their kitchen. Which could either work for intimidation or convincing them he can do what he says he can.

        And getting their permission to go after their husbands could give him karmic weight to kill those men. Which might make it easier to get past the defences of the Duchamps to get to them.

        Unless it’s Christoff, but then Christoff might just alienate people by pointing out that he is now an only child thanks to them.

        He seems like the kind of kid who would make graphic bodily threats instead. As long as he has the internet between him and his target anyway.

        1. But as Lola pointed out this chapter, they can’t give out permission to kill. They can just tacitly approve. Really, given Joyce’s actions, I’m guessing that this would be more them taking the opportunity to enforce change on their terms by manipulating this bogeyman who is trying to manipulate them. The Duchamp kids are pretty hardcore.

          He seems like the kind of kid who would make graphic bodily threats instead. As long as he has the internet between him and his target anyway.

          Nah, remember his first appearance a couple days after Molly’s death, when he outright asked Blake to his face “did you kill my cousin” and said it like a punch? Christoff has had the Standard Thorburn Package, he’ll use what he’s got.

            1. Ah, but Sprint is the one that nobody ever thinks about. It stands to reason that they’d have great coverage in the Abyss.

    2. He’s offering to go after people the kids don’t want anything to do with (because they’re icky or dangerous or both). Considering that we’re talking about a woman who just got saved (and even she sees it that way once she finds out what happened) from a marriage she felt forced into… Well…

      I don’t see how this is going against the kids (and, those still in their early twenties who haven’t drunk too deeply of the status quo Kool-Aid). 😐

      1. But those men are also presumably part of the Duchamp picket line by the lake, if they lose power during Molly’s assault…

        1. So? Those particular Duchamps are not the young ones or those who for other reasons are sitting the various battles out. That kind of narrows the pool.

          Yes, the girls are still related to what aunts, mothers, grandmothers and cousins are in potential danger should the blokes they’re using cave. But, I’m getting a Thorburn vibe, here: they’re probably closer to those their own age and their immediate family… the rest? Not so much. 😐 And, even a few of them will feel somewhat estranged from their mothers, given who is likely trying to pressure them into being “good Duchamp, cookie-cutter girls”. 😛

          If they can extract promises that those they actually care for are spared, I’m willing to believe they’d quite happily play ball. Or even gloat a bit when the people who were trying to push them into marriages they didn’t want get their comeuppance. -_-

          1. This goes beyond just making the kids help kill the people they love. It’s about breaking the bonds of their family. One adult loses her sister who blames her niece and therefore blames her niece’s mother.

            This is an effective way of destabilizing the status quo. But it’s also risking fucking over the younger practitioners, who are the lynchpin on whether whatever situation takes over from the previous one doesn’t involve all blood, all darkness, all the time.

            If they can extract promises that those they actually care for are spared, I’m willing to believe they’d quite happily play ball.

            Based on, what? From what very little we’ve seen of the Duchamps, they seem close knit. The only mother/daughter relationship we’ve seen (Lola/Joyce) was hardly unloving. And the closest to inner family hatreds was Joyce not saving Gail, which was a traumatic experience.

            All the families have their own seperate problems. And as far as the current evidence goes “parents not giving two shits about their kids” is distinctly a Thorburn issue.

            1. Keep in mind the Duchamp’s have been marrying for power. Not everyone is happy with who they’ve been paired up with, or who their daughters get paired up with. Joyce isn’t exactly upset with her husbands death here. Someone who could make a bane… That’s a powerful ally sure. But would you really want to be married to someone who could do that to another human bieng?

              Simply put right now is the best time to get rid of the asshole husbands. It’s a question of risk vs how much you hate someone.

            2. Are you telling me that Joyce and her sister weren’t weren’t constantly worried that her husband would decide that having the Duchamp link wouldn’t always outweigh a pressing need for raw materials?

            3. @euodiachloris

              I’d imagine the wedding vows had something about not scrapping the wife for parts and dodging the “death till we part” bit

            4. I’d imagine that the vows went something along the lines of, “You can’t kill her until after she bears us a daughter. At that point, she’ll have been with you long enough to learn your moods and your desires and if she hasn’t figured out how to please her husband, well, you can always buy another one, but the price is going to double each time. And remember, only after she bears and gives us a living daughter or you’re in breech of contract and we’ll call you foresworn.”

      1. “Everyone who’s hostile to me is someone I dislike on sight, even if they have valid reasons” is by no means a perspective with which Blake is unfamiliar. He used to try to avoid it, but…he has not had a day that is conducive to critical thinking and maintaining self-reflective thought patterns.

        1. To be fair pre-Abyss Blake just tended to presume that the family of his enemies were bound to fuck him over. While the Thorburn bogeyman seems wired to assume that the other families are just plain bad people.

          sigh I really miss that guy. Before he starting killing things because Dark Souls Blighttown told him to.

          1. Generally speaking we refer to people that send monsters after children as “bad,” yes. Blake has in fact been trying to discriminate between who he kills, so he acknowledges that the families aren’t all composed of bad people, just that he thinks of them as having bad people and people who stand by and support bad people.

            1. Yes, but to be honest, while I’ve mostly been resisting the “Blake is going more and more insane” calls up until now…

              I mean, the last few chapters? That’s something else. Sane people do not aggressively attempt to divide everyone into “monsters” and “not-monsters” and then murder the former category.

              For that matter, I don’t understand why Blake didn’t go back to his friends after starting the fire. Wasn’t that the plan? Yes, he was angry at them, but it feels like he completely snapped after that — suddenly he decided he was going to categorize as many practitioners as possible as monsters and start straight-up murdering them in order to fix things, somehow.

              I mean, seriously. How is he any different from Laird and Sandra crusading against diabolists at this point? The monsters he’s killing have friends and family, too, and their relatives can’t all be enchantresses forced into a marriage they hate. Some of those relatives will want revenge on him, and will probably take it out on any Thorburns they can reach. All he’s doing is perpetuating the cycles.

            2. How much shit can one person take before they snap? It’s been one trauma after another for Blake, and it adds up. But he hasn’t compleatly lost it yet. If he had he wouldn’t be trying to limit casualties and sort out who is and isn’t a monster. I would argue the idea that sane people don’t divide who is and isn’t a monster. It’s just most people never really have to do it on a large scale. Serial killer who skins working mothers in front of their children? Most people will label them a monster. Guy who wins the lottery and gives it away to feed starving children? Probably labeled not a monster.

              The world has been trying since day one to either make Blake a monster of one sort or another, or destroy him. The world can put an awful lot of weight into it’s nudges. You can say that if Blake did this or that he wouldn’t have ended up here, and it’s the resualt of his own choices… But to me it seems like the universe conspires to always ensure Blake’s choices will be the wrong ones no matter what.

  2. I’m not gonna lie. I kinda find the Picture of a mute Blake cleaving his enemies with two blades to be kinda disturbing. Not sure why.

    So is BlakeXGreen Eyes official? Someone please say it’s official.

    I don’t really understand Blake’s final line. I suppose it’ll make ¢ Monday night.

    Blake should totally grow wooden wings and fly. He just needs to make sure he hoards enough spirits/fear before doing so.

    Have we seen Hal Spikedick or his fuc blonde wife during anywhere? Why would Blake assume his wife was Blonde? Is she a Duchamp? Was David Bowie’s wife blonde?

    1. Hey cousins, remember that whole sanity eroding thing where all the storybook monsters tried to kill you? I know where the people that sent most of those monsters are at, how does payback sound to you?

    2. Why would Blake assume his wife was Blonde?

      Because the Duchamps make a habit of marrying for power, and they were calling those husbands in to help them, so if a random Goblin King had shown up, it was probably a Duchamp’s husband.

      1. I find it odd that a Duchamp would marry a Goblin King. Those two don’t seem to mix. I think of Duchamps allying themselves with Faeries, the opposite of Goblins, and looking upon the trenches of Goblin Practioning with disdain.

        1. The two other examples of Duchamp husbands we’ve seen so far include ogre shamans and the worst sort of necromancers (making Bane if seriously fucked up), so a Goblin King would hardly stick out compared to them.

            1. Not exactly prime husband material, though.

              Depends. In an alternate universe where Sandra didn’t have lofty responsibilities Jeremy might have suited her just fine.

            2. Hell if his god hadn’t thought it’d be funny to give Sandra a boy, the two would still be together. Sandra did luck out. But mostly at this point the Duchamps are marrying for power and influence, and at least some of them are marrying those that got power from doing serously bad shit.

            3. the last bit wasn’t so bad. it was the more predatory things that she disliked and that was mostly cause she was planning to have to raise a daughter near them

      2. I never thought of that. Honestly the thought that a human woman might have been married to him is just sickening. Good heavens. I thought I’d just forgotten about some blond goblin woman that Blake had met earlier. There are not words that I can use in this polite forum to describe my negative thoughts on what that marriage is probably like. Looking at the necromancer/ogres, i think we can say that family has a lot wrong with it.

        1. I think you are misinterpreting the phrase “Goblin King”. Mags is a self-proclaimed “Goblin Queen”, no? Sounds to me like he’s probably a human — even though he definitely has a goblin-sounding name — who specializes in Goblins like Mags does.

          1. I could be wrong, and I hope that’s the case, because any woman who actually married a “goblin” goblin king and was beholden to him in some way (which he’d probably stipulate in his marriage contract) would soon become a goblin herself, in essence.

        2. . I thought I’d just forgotten about some blond goblin woman that Blake had met earlier.

          same.

          but I was also thrown off by the name the probably human guy had

    3. Yeah, sounds like Blake figured if he didn’t know the name of the guy who sent the goblins, chances were that they’re a Duchamp husband.

    4. molly’s backstory I thought. maybe not. not sure if blake knows about the goblin queen 100%. I’d have to go back and check which scenes were really the elf douche(pretty sure it was most of them when she and blake were in the same room)

  3. This unholy family that Blake has made is pretty cute. He could retire to a lake cabin with Green Eyes and become a really effective horror story. Hunting monsters with her is just as fun though.

    1. Blake x Green Eyes OTP.

      Poor mermaid. She just wants to be loved. Hopefully she can turn off that skin-ripping effect contact with her skin has, or else having sex with her would likely be… less than pleasant.

        1. Green Eyes mentioned that she had a lot of sex with the merman who saved her when she fell into the Drains back in the chapter that originally introduced her, so she probably does, yeah. As for Blake… maybe? He still had it back when he was still stuck in the mirrors, at least. Not sure about his current body, but it’s got flesh and blood under the wood, so it might.

          1. Well most animals like Sharks that have skin that can shred, the skin does have a way you can safely touch. And she didn’t mess him up too bad when she was wrapped around him this chapter and before. Also he’s largely made of wood, not flesh and blood at this point.

            As for Blake having the equipment still, I say he probably does. And if not he’s still got plenty of wood to work with.

            Course all this talk with Green Eyes is starting to make me worry that she’s going to die.

            1. i know fish can choose to put up the pins in the top fins atleast. but to me it sounds like she can flare the scales and become made of blades, or use them a bit like scoots on a snake.

          2. he tore off unspecified fleshy chunks and slapped them on and most of his flesh was in the lower half of his torso or on his back.

            but I feel like if he’d carved off his dick and slapped it on the effigy that’d be comical enough to be worth a moodbreaking mention by somebody

            but he fell into himself when he went through the portal and ended up wearing his cloths…at that point continuing to think of himself as male was probably enough to keep it, what with the way he mentioned his face grew in.

        2. If Blake doesn’t, he’s already been making a lot of boners (as in mistakes, pun intended): http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/136/

          Not to mention all the bones he’s grabbing off dead people. If he doesn’t have the right equipment already, it wouldn’t be too difficult for him to make his own. And Green Eyes has, well, she can talk, right? And she promised not to chew him up until he’s dead. And if she does bite a little hard, well, Blake can always make more and she did say she wanted some chicken nuggets, little bite-sized pieces of meat.

          1. “in the drains of the abyss when fishing one night,
            a tug at my rod made me pull it real tight,
            i’d reeled in a beauty like no man ever saw,
            just cute as can be human leg in her jaws

            her eyes shone like fire, and fangs filled her mouth,
            her gills winked at me as she breathed in in and out,
            her hips were for flayin she’d tear a man apart,
            oh the sad irony her legs couldn’t part

            she was greeneyes the mermaid my undersea dove
            her skin and her hair have that pale look i love,
            her lips were translucent her fluke was bladed
            i jumped in to kiss her now I smell like fish

            she jumped on my shoulders and tangled we got,
            in branches and feathers man it was hot.
            she tied me in seaweed and threw me on the bed but we couldn’t stay there so we escaped instead

            she was greeneyes the mermaid my undersea dove her skin and her hair have that pale look i love,
            her lips were translucent her fluke was bladed i jumped in to kiss her now I smell like fish

            the next day i saw her sunning on shore
            chewing up seagulls 12 maybe more.
            she kissed me on the cheek then turned and headed south
            she had no lowerhalf she still has a mooouth
            (and promised not to chew(unless I was already dead))

            she was greeneyes the mermaid my undersea dove her skin and her hair have that pale look i love, her lips were translucent her fluke was bladed…i jumped in to kiss her now I smell like greeneyes the mermaid my undersea dove her skin and her hair have that pale look i love, her lips were translucent her fluke was bladed i jumped in to kiss her now I smell like fiiiissssshhhh”

            http://www.last.fm/music/The+Poxy+Boggards/_/Nelly+the+Mermaid

            1. Don’t know why it won’t play for me, probably because I don’t have this spotify thing that it mentioned on the page. I did find it elsewhere, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKhZCnLXwoY By the way, in the YouTube version at least, they didn’t say “chewing up seagulls” they mentioned her sisters.

              Oh, I was looking around for a better version (where you could hear the words better) and found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLkPwxTiJJo and apparently that song is like Yankee Doodle in that people can just make up verses.

              “She jumped on my shoulders and tangled we got.
              [kelp bed?] and fish scales, man it was hot!
              She tied me in seaweed and threw me on the bed
              She wasn’t turned on it was [something] dead.”

              At this point, with her description, with the verses, I’m saying that Wildbow must have heard the song before and taken it was a bit of direction with which to take the story? Which is cool, they say to base your story characters on someone in real life and obviously the Nelly story is biographical. 🙂

      1. Yeah, it looks like she chooses when to turn her scales from smooth/slick to slightly gripping to death by a thousand cuts. Reminds me of snakes’ ventral scales, but maybe some fishes can do the same.

    2. They could wear glamour to look like humans and visit all the lovely places like abandoned mental hospitals, dark street corners and Disneyland and when some monster thinks they have spottet easy prey they turn the table and kill and eat it.

    1. That’d probably be the opposite of what Blake wants to do; she’s all for maintaining the Balance, while Blake is currently working towards upending it.

    • I’m liking Blake’s interactions with the Duchamps. They’re behaving like decent human beings, more or less, and he’s being politically savvy and intelligent. Maybe this isn’t a Blake Plan (TM).

    • Green Eyes is the most adorable Other that ever there was.

    • Evan is the most awesome bird spirit that ever there was.

    • Blake has now claimed 3 Jumbo-Goblins as his weapons. Rule of 3 means that he just did some sort of level up in the eyes of the spirits.

    • ‘Man, fuck goblins‘ – Goblins : Blake :: Tinkers : Taylor

    1. As for the “fuck goblins” brigade… add Rose. Don’t forget that Rose had “goblin fun time” trying to keep one in vague check back when she and Blake were working together.

  4. Cousins-wise, the only one he has of apparent value in a discussion is Peter, the master manipulator. He can cold read the fuck out of them over webcam. Are Blake’s friends going to use blood-given to create a magical internet connection that extends into their Abyss portal?

    …Also Blake just inadvertently revealed he’s a Thorburn cousin himself, whoops. Good luck figuring out how that one works, Duchamps.

    1. Cousins-wise, the only one he has of apparent value in a discussion is Peter, the master manipulator.

      Good luck being a “master manipulator” (AKA I can con idiots out of their chump change and talk girls into buying me drinks) in the presence of people who do the same thing except with MAGIC.

            1. Have the Duchamps shown themselves to be pretty stupid? Just asking.

              The reason I ask this is that we’re making a lot of Peters capabilities. Even though his personal experience using magic so far has been minimal, and unrestrained intelligence can be just as bad as stupidity especially when you involve demons.

            2. Smart, yes. Ignorant of vast quantities of social context elements that are crucial for pulling a con or interpreting cues correctly, also yes.

              He hasn’t had enough time to get to know this world to operate at his full capability.

          1. From Blake’s accounts, Peter is smarter than the average person. There is no reason to believe that the Duchamps are smarter than the average person, other than, perhaps, the fact that managing connections is probably hard. Even then, just because you can do that it doesn’t mean you can tell when someone is trying to con you.

            1. No reason aside from them specializing in a field of magic that demands social awareness. Why are we suddenly assuming that people on Blake’s side must be smarter than people not on Blake’s side. Need I remind you that Alexis, Ty and Tiff are more experience than them, and are less likely to do something stupid?

              Because intelligence is never a replacement for, y’know, not being a dyed in the wool part of a family of grasping shitweasels.

            2. Personally, the Duchamp children we’ve seen so far haven’t particularly impressed me in the intelligence department. I’d take Peter over Lelitia’s master.

              Not that they’re stupid, but Peter’s been picking up things about magic pretty fast and has demonstrated an excellent grasp of the psychology of others.

    2. Christoff might be useful as well; he just watched Callan get horribly murdered by a monster created by one of the Behaim husbands, so his testimony might be able to sway them somewhat.

    3. “…Also Blake just inadvertently revealed he’s a Thorburn cousin himself, whoops. Good luck figuring out how that one works, Duchamps.”

      Well, it is known that practitioners can become Others. Maybe that’s all they’ll assume happened.

      Which could have some interesting consequences, if they assume/realize it was a recent occurrence.

  5. Also, I think that Blake has caught on that Green Eyes wants to eat Evan, with the exchange about chicken nuggets, LOL.

    1. I thinks it’s best if Evan doesn’t remind Green Eyes that he’s dead ’cause the question she asks others most is if she can eat them when they’re dead.

  6. Huh, Joyce is foresworn. She swore to refrain from practicing until sunrise, but she had to have either raised or modified the barrier after saying that.She also swore not to interfere with “you or yours”, so if she was obligated to modify the barrier not to block Blake then she broke her oath when it interfered with Evan.

    Granted, Blake is unlikely to call her on it unless things go seriously south

    1. If she did break her oath, she didn’t do it knowingly, so she can probably make good on it if Blake asks her to let his friends that are waiting for him outside in, and she does so.

      1. I’m pretty sure the spirits would back Blake if he decided to push the matter. She prevented Evan from scouting the area covertly before Blake announced his presence, and her oath was “I swear I will not act or interfere against you or yours in any way from here on out.” If she’d said “knowingly act or interfere”, she’d be fine, but she didn’t. Also, technically she isn’t sitting on her hands, and the spirits apparently are sufficient sticklers for literalism that’s a problem.

        That said, the hugely destructive backlash for being foresworn only happens if someone actually opts to name you foresworn. She’s held to the general intent of the oath, so Blake won’t unless a fight breaks out. No one else is likely to, because Blake hasn’t mentioned the “or yours” part, and going by the conversation with Duncan after Liard’s death you really don’t want to call someone foresworn and have the spirits decide they aren’t.

          1. Blake had made a promise about not hurting them any more than necessary. There was some disagreement over whether that applied to killing Liard. Duncan ultimately decided it was arguable enough he didn’t want to chance calling Blake foresworn.

            1. Ah, found it:

              “My uncle is dead. It doesn’t look like it was clean,” he said. “I could call you forsworn. The spirits will get around to it if it’s deserved, but I could call you on it right here, decide how it plays out.”

              I nodded slowly.

              The older girl said, “Nothing to say? No words in your own defense?”

              “If you’d name me forsworn,” I said, “I’d challenge you to walk through the last ten minutes in my shoes. See what I saw, feel what I felt, and then decide I was out of line and that I didn’t try.”

              “Maybe I can’t call you forsworn,” he said. His voice was small, and it sounded like it might break. “Don’t want that backlash. …

    2. In all likelihood the barrier was set up before she made that oath and she an monitor it with her Sight and grant access to Blake without actually practicing which would apparently be putting together new workings. Similar to how Blake swore not to practice in his conflict with Conquest and still managed to turn June on and off.

  7. Sooooo, I have a question. Blake said the girl he spared promised to not harm or hinder him, right? He also said he connected the dots as to why/how he could pass the redirection-barrier. But when the other duchamp came out and said the former was the reason of the latter, he acted as if that was news to him.
    So, does that mean that when he “connected the dots” that he figured out the reason was something else besides that?

    Or was it just Blake being misleading again? I kinda hope so, because I’m NOT liking the implications of bringing validity to theories about blake somehow being a mote of the barber, or the barber himself.

    Let me get this straight. His plan to go after sandra and the dunk is to make an approved hit-list with the help of some kids over a skype conference chat, and including his cousins of all people??? I can see how pre-drains rose could get so infuriated dealing with blake- I’m just READING about him and I am getting pissed because I can’t fathom what the hell he’s doing or why.

    1. Some of the exchange at the end was a little odd to me especially the reference to the Thorburn cousins, but this looks like an extension of what he did already. “Hey, are you a good person, would an average Canadian call you a good person? No?” Kill.

      He’s being careful to target monsters, human or not. Now, getting the Duchamps to finger their own relatives is a new and extremely nasty twist.

      You know he reminds me of something from Worm in that respect: Jura gur Raqoevatref jrer sehfgengrq sebz gurve tbnyf be gnxvat fvtavsvpnag qnzntr, gurl jbhyq punatr gnpgvpf, trggvat zhpu anfgvre. That’s what Blake is doing here.

          1. Blake’s connections are in weird state and so can bypass protections set up that involve connections and things of that nature. This includes demesnes

            The barber hasn’t been clasified by RDT as a demon, she doesn’ know what he is, and says he more like a goblin in come areas. What’s special about him is his ability to pass through demesnes and other protections practioners employ, and most involve connections to some degree.

            I don’t want to believe it, but if blake’s nature is the reason why he passed through the defense so easily, then it adds weight to him either being the barber or the barber’s mote.

  8. Green Eyes is turning into a combat nightmare.

    Green Eyes is flirting with Blake… which is so adorable.

    My brain is having a seriously hard time reconciling those two. Flirt, flirt, rip throat out, tear off face. Brain hurts.

    1. In all honesty, if you told me ahead of time that a mermaid would make a fierce predator when there’s no water in sight, I would have thought you were making it up. She’s probably got one of the highest body counts tonight on their side.

      1. That’s true — in hindsight, I think I’ve been conditioned by “real life” movie/tv mermaids. When a woman has that big heavy prosthetic binding her legs together, she can’t do much more than lay there or roll around a bit or something. But when you consider how much a decent fish can flop around on the ground and in the boat in an attempt to jump back into the water, then multiply that up to something like an intelligent shark with arms, you get a pretty awesome creature.

          1. I mean aside from the leaps since we’ve seen her tail being more eel-ishly flexible than is traditional and the whole fish flop thing. more talking about general locomotion

    2. just think of it like when cats bring you dead things. hey blake. I got you this goblin throat to show you how much I like you…not hungry? all right (swallow)

  9. The chicken nugget thing has made me decide what I hope is the epilogue:
    Blake, Green Eyes, and Evan all going out for chicken nuggets. Picture the shawarma scene in the avengers. Or something else, I guess, for Evan, because that’s kind of cannibalism.

    Now I hope someone does a fanart of this. 🙂

      1. Hell Chicken and Sparrow are probably not that closely related. Also that’s assuming their real chicken nuggets, as the ammount of chicken in them would be up for debate.

        1. Hell Chicken and Sparrow are probably not that closely related.

          According to the cladogram of Order Aves found on Wikipedia, Chickens and Sparrows are about as far apart as it is possible for two extant bird species to be without one of them being an ostrich/emu/cassowary.

      2. humans are omnivores. not sure if sparrows can even process meat. bugs and seed are one thing, but between the salt grease and small but existent meat content…

        but as I was typing I just remembered we give birds tallow so hes probably fine.

    1. birds eat birds all the time. if that were cannibalism greeneyes couldn’t have fish or human meat without being some kind of monster 🙂

  10. Wait a minute… When he says he wants to bring the thorburns “online”, and he’s contacting the person who can do that… What if he doesn’t mean the internet?

    I can think of another possible interpretation of that word, involving Awakening. 🙂

  11. Blake is bouncing back from injury faster and faster. A goblin stabs him with a shit-coated weapon through the mouth and he is talking again shortly. Cleaver in the arm? No obvious disability once he pulled it out. Spear to the head? Worth one mention. I know bogeymen gain power from fear and he seriously put the fear into the goblins, but his repair rate has picked up insanely.

    I am thinking that he is starting to specialize as a bogeyman, picking a focus that gives him extra strength when he is in it. And the specialty is monster-hunter. When he takes down something particularly vicious, he gains more power.

    1. Probably doesn’t hurt that he adorns himself with trophies from the monsters that he’s defeated. That’s three Goblins now, right? I think that any other Goblins had better stick clear of him if they know what’s good for them.

      1. In RPG Terms:
        Right Weapon: Shoddy Cleaver
        Left Weapons: Broken Hyena Blade
        Accessory: Barbed Chain

        Bonus: Goblin Armaments (Power of Three) – Blake will get a boost when combating Goblins.

        …..You’d think Maggie would have a few of these items given she keep catching Goblins… then again, he keeps picking fights with the big ones while she catches the smaller bastards.

        1. But they’re not as good as they’re cracked up to be, the Shoddy Cleaver may as well be a consumable item with 2 uses left and the Barbed Chain has low accuracy, inflicts on the User Damage Over Time while wielded and has a 75% chance of Entangling the User.

        2. “You’d think Maggie would have a few of these items ”

          these items from even human sized goblins are shit tier. she hunts the little guys

          (although she knows (but has yet to find one to use it) how to bind the large goblins. hyena was the larger side of medium so that’d be a good item to have. too bad a quick trip to claim the dragon would probably cost her too much to be worth it)

  12. And Blake continues his plan to prune the family tree.
    Actually my own line has gotten me thinking.
    If they were unaware of his backstory they could of assumed he was an other with an interest in rooting out undesirable members of family trees.
    It would certainly fit his aesthetic.

      1. Not really,pruning makes a tree stronger and healthier…heck,Blake already pruned himself by removing his heart and letting it into a new body.

  13. QUESTION NUMBER ONE ON THE ARE-YOU-A-TOTAL-JERK LIST:

    Would your own family (or other closest positive relations if applicable) agree to be friends with a demon if he told them that he was going to personally kill you and take your soul to Hell?

    If yes, please stop. Just stop. Stop being a jerk.

    If no, please read the next section…

    1. bogy and demon have some massive gulfs separating any of their traits. (although some of the worst goblins can come close to the lesser guys)

      1. When you don’t know anything about the guy except that he had an interest in rooting out monsters and isn’t picky about where the peer review comes from? There’s no real difference.

        1. demons do permanent damage to the world causing it to spin down that much sooner. . everything else is more of a change in states

  14. I wish wraith!Molly could think bigger/long-term. Turn into a goddess of chaos punishing any practitioner trying to exploit the system, flagging them as fair game for any Other in the vicinity. I doubt many would try after a few hundred established circles disappear overnight.

  15. “But I could at least say that this world wasn’t actively conspiring against me, right?

    No.

    Well, at least it wasn’t actively conspiring against me with some malign intelligence. It was just general karma and bad luck.”

    Sorry Blake, it’s just that it wouldn’t be as interesting to read if you didn’t have problems. Though I do hope that you get thrown a bone at the end. That is not an entradre for hims and Green Eyes getting it on, but it could be.

          1. If anything, that would be Wildbow calling himself stupid (and Blake wasn’t calling anyone stupid), although I’d say this is more a case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. 😉

            1. Aaah, my bad. Yeah, lets be honest. If someone told blake he was in a story, he’d probably have a list of adjectives to describe the person in charge of making his life so terrible, and I’m pretty sure “stupid” would be somewhere on that insanely large list

  16. The Blake X Green Eyes is strong in this chapter. Good fight scene, lots of funny moments, liked the dialogue, excellent chapter over all. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

  17. I’d just like to say this. If there is indeed a Duchamp who is married to a Goblin King Spikedick, I pity that poor woman. Unless it was her idea, in which case more power to her.

    Still with Goblins you know she’s never getting all the shit they track in off her clean kitchen floor.

    1. It’s a nice little confirmation that the elder Duchamps qualify as monsters. Hmm, who should I marry my daughter to? This Spikedick fellow seems rather cuddly…

  18. Also, a thought occurs to me: both Green Eyes and the ogres are Others that eat people. The main differences I can see between them, if mythology is accurate about the latter, is that Ogres kill people just to eat them, and tend to cook their food, while Green Eyes tends to eat people who have happened to have died in front of her or who she’s killed for other reasons, and she tends to eat her food bloody and raw.

    I think that she could probably have a pretty interesting conversation with them about the subject!

  19. It’s interesting that Blake’s practitioner nature is still going strong here – some Others might collect power from life, or from flesh, and he does collect from fear and bone – but he’s also collecting trophies where he can, sources of power or tricks up his sleeve. Some Duchamp glamour might be really helpful about now, though.

  20. Looking at all of this, and the fact that Pact’s ending is coming soon, I reeeeally wish that there’s a happy ending to this story for Blake, Green Eyes and Evan. A cute little cottage by a lake, the three of them going out hunting for monsters in the area every weekend, and a happily ever after. Or atleast something that has even the smallest chance of leading up to an ending that way.
    I had tears in my eyes by the end of Worm. Tears of happiness. Really hope that it’ll be the same for Pact.

    1. I reeeeally wish that there’s a happy ending to this story for Blake, Green Eyes and Evan.

      I’m all for Evan and Green Eyes having a happy ending. Personally, I don’t think Blake deserves one. He’s been borderline evil since arc 6 (starting a war and purposefully dragging innocents in it), borderline monster since arc 9 (losing his humanity) and has been losing more and more of the borderline part throughout the entire story. At this point, saying Blake is an evil monster isn’t the type of statement that can be mindlessly dismissed anymore.

      That being said, I don’t think Blake deserves a bad ending. He didn’t deserve most of the stuff he had to go through. I hope he has a more neutral ending, enjoying himself in his happy place, alone.

      1. My main hope is that Blake is stopped before his attempts to overturn things just end up fucking up the world. Not that I want the status quo to win and everything goes back to normal. But for someone else not-batshit to take the chaos he and Molly creates and spins something less Bloody Darkness out of it.

        Because, honestly, the High-Chaos scenario will only lead to a bad end for Blake and everyone he cares about. Either due to demons or by the Inquisition or something. His biggest hope for a happy ending is to lose gracefully, instead of losing violently or winning but crashing and burning.

      2. Yeah, Blake’s been steadily losing his moral high ground for a while, though I don’t really hold reaching out to his friends for help as an act of evil. It’s just that the Duchamps and Behaims are complicit in some really evil shit, so Blake will have to try very hard before he’s less evil than the worst of them.

        1. I don’t really hold reaching out to his friends for help as an act of evil.

          I won’t disagree, but a paragon of good wouldn’t subject innocents to that live imo. That’s why I said borderline evil. In retrospect, I probably should’ve used arguably instead of borderline.

      3. If Blake doesn´t deserve a happy ending, why does Green Eyes do?

        Sure, she is cute and loyal – but only to Blake so far.
        She is killing who he tells her to, just because he tells her to, which is arguably more wrong than making effort at setting the criteria who to kill in the first place.
        It is (in my opinion) hinted, that without Blake she would kill with less selection who to target, not more and apparently the only reason she hasn´t tried to eat Evan, is because Blake wouldn´t like it.

        Green Eyes is more of a pure monster than Blake to me at the moment, with him being sort of a leash.
        Part of her might have been changed by the Abyss, but if that counts as an excuse, it would go tripple (Barber, Abyss, Tenements) for Blake.

        1. If Blake doesn´t deserve a happy ending, why does Green Eyes do?

          Sure, she is cute and loyal

          You’ve answered your own question. I like Green Eyes more than I car about her monstrousness.

          1. So, I agreed with you completely until you said this. You essentially dismissed most of your argument about blake. Because NOW, it’s not that “blake is evil and doesn’t deserve a happy ending” it’s more like “blake lost his hero-crediblility in my eyes and so I personally favor him not having a happy ending based on my own aesthetics”.

            Not to be a butt, but if you make an argument about monstrosity and what borderline monsters/villains deserve, you kinda gotta stick to it and apply it to green as well. But since you like her more than her monstrousness, that means you don’t really care about one’s level of badness or monstrous-ness, but more about your own personal preferences. Just because you like her doesn’t mean she deserves a better life. I’m sure there’s a few people who thought hitler was a fantastic person and loved him.

            So, instead of what blake “deserves”, you’re talking more about what you personally want to happen to blake because of your personal taste preferences for him and his personality/actions.

            Anywho- I don’t think Blake deserves a happy ending. But that’s because I don’t believe many people in this world do. Evan’s pretty damn innocent. Mags has been trying to do the right thing but has screwed up multiple times, resulting in bad things from her actions. Uhh… fell’s Niece deserves some good in her life as of now. Blakeguard are victims of circumstance more than anything so they deserve SOME good, but they aren’t exactly paradigms of “good”, so maybe a “better than average” ending? Alister’s a prick but doesn’t deserve an bad ending, as far as I know. Yeah that’s pretty much it. (oh and Ivy and everyone who is a child, for the most part)
            Green no longer cares about right and wrong and will absolutely eat an innocent child if she feels like it. Rose has been literally crafted to not be an upstanding and moral person who puts herself before others. Behaims have “drank the coolaid” and care more about their family’s standing than reason. Duchamps… I don’t even know where to begin with them. They aren’t “Evil” but are pretty bad people I would not like to know more than a first-name basis if I met them in real life. Blake is actually insanely selfish disguised as a moral compass. Isadora would totally kill an innocent if she didn’t like the answer they give her (like “what am I? A man”). Thorburns are essentially crafted to be terrible people. Everyone who let conquest do his thing because it was easier for them, regardless of how fucked up he was fundamentally are bad people. Crona Mara is pretty damn evil, cut and dry (I doubt anyone disagrees with that one…),

            This world favors monsters and bad people. The good and righteous don’t last very long, and wind up getting screwed or tainted. Both, in Blake’s case. No one thinks he’s a good and upstanding person, it’s just that some sympathize with him because he is the way he is because of all the shit that has happened him, and how it isn’t technically his fault- the world and the jerks in it created the monster he is now (literally, in RDT’s case). But that’s not really an excuse. If you train a kid at a young age to be a villain and a terrible human, the sins of the kid’s are absolutely his fault. Sure, the one who cultivated him to be like that is also to blame, but free will kinda means that even if the circumstances tipped one’s hand, it’s still your hand that gets tipped, and the consequences that follow are your fault.

            1. While I agree with you in principle, I have to point out that our perception of the Behaims and Duchamps is still covered by a thick fog of war, we assume that they’re all terrible people because we’re trained via Blake’s POV to think they’re terrible people. Not because we have objective first hand experience of them being so. Most of their terrible actions (and they are terrible) are told or seen second hand, devoid of context.

              The under twenties in particular seem to just be kids swept up in events beyond their reckoning who only have one real choice, support their families. I seriously doubt that Alister is the odd man out in being the only not-horrible one.

              Ultimately, I don’t buy the idea that this is a universe where most people are bad, evil bastards inflicting themselves on good, righteous and doomed people. I think the situation is more like Worm than we realized. There’s no good or evil, there’s just people. Some are worse than others, but there’s few that we can just brush off as rotten. The only difference is that Pact doesn’t do nearly as much to give the perspectives of the people on the other side of the protagonist line. There are less interludes, less frank discussions with other characters. And I think this is intentional on part of Wildbow to tie into the Cold War and Propaganda theme.

              Except for the Others. The nature of Others being distillations of often negative impulses and character traits steers them to being pretty fucked. But even so we see good traits amongst them.

            2. Well I have no problem with the fog of war covering how they are perceived. I can understand a lot of their actions due to the conflict and war about them. It’s not their actions towards blake and the other “good guys”, it’s their actions towards themselves and the world around them that I disagree with.

              Like the marrying off daughters despite their wishes. It’s essentially a form of slavery when you think about it. Not as bad as ACTUAL slavery but still bad. The daughters are given the illusion that they have a choice, but they don’t and are bound to someone they might actually hate until they die, and have to bear a child with that person. All for the sake of their family. Then, they start going down the same path and doing the same thing to their own child, perpetuation the problem.

              Behaims care about their position of power for the family and not much else. Laird had little problem agreeing with RDT’s plans “as long as (his) family benefits”. That line of thinking isn’t bad by itself, but when taken to the extreme (which it HAS… many many times…) it is a source of excuses to do terrible things.

              I get that we are looking at things through the eyes of blake, but when taking empathy into account, as well as the “histories” chapters focused on them, one can totally understand their motivations for their actions. As you said, they aren’t inherently “bad” people, but just people. Just like in real life. However, when “just people” become so deluded to not even feel remorse when they do clearly terrible things (I don’t care if it was for the betterment of the world, molly was presumably innocent and they didn’t care after causing her death, they even had a meeting shortly afterwards about marrying the behaim with duchamp families, with bright smiles on their faces) I start to think that they are bad people. Or getting there.

              You could totally write a spinoff book from a behaim or duchamp’s perspective, and have them be the hero/protagonist. Actually, I can totaly see that. But if I read it, I would say “wow, these people are messed up. I kinda don’t want them to win. Go diabolist!”

            3. Because NOW, it’s not that “blake is evil and doesn’t deserve a happy ending” it’s more like “blake lost his hero-crediblility in my eyes and so I personally favor him not having a happy ending based on my own aesthetics”.

              Sorry if I wasn’t clear, but my point was always that I personally don’t think Blake deserves q happy ending. Hence the “I’m all for Evan and Green Eyes having a happy ending. Personally, I don’t think Blake deserves one. . . That being said, I don’t think Blake deserves a bad ending.”

              It’s my opinion, bias and perception of Blake. I personally feel that every belief should have a basis, and if you express that belief, you should be able to back it up (with at least reasons. A reference at the right moment can be like whipped topping to hot chocolate, that is, fantastic)

              My intent was, not to make an argument about monstrosity, but to give my desire about Blake in response to Dragon’s desire about Blake. I stand behind my position and reasoning and openly acknowledge that my like for GE is enough for me to willingly suspend that reasoning to satiate my desire for her to end happy.

            4. Oh, no I totally get where you’re coming from on THAT angle.

              However-
              “and if you express that belief, you should be able to back it up with reasons”
              Your reasons for not wanting blake to have a happy ending and for wanting GE to have one directly contradict eachother. That’s all I was point out- that if two reasons like that are so contradictory, chances are one of them is wrong, like, in this case, you don’t like blake the way you like GE and what you think they deserve is based on that.

            5. What.evil.actions.has.blake.done.

              NONE,the only borderline was dragging his friend into it.

              Or do you hate him for what he is?

      4. Wut.In the whole story,he has purposefully done one action that can be construed as selfish or even slightly evil,dragging his friends into practitionerhood,and that was out of the purest form of unability to cope,and after telling them what they will enter to,he gave them a choice.And he regrets that,even though it was not really that evil an action,it just had bad consequences and even though it was THEIR choice,which he asked them to affirm repeatedly..Everything else has been out of altruistic reasons,or at least for survival,with no intent of harming anyone undeserving.

        Problem is,he is cursed and everything he does turns into disaster,but does that make him evil?Some of his plans were badly thought and had predictable fallout,but you can blame Granny Rose and Barbatorem for that,he literally couldn’t help it thanks to being split in half,he still had the best intentions.He might be needed to be put down,but its not the way you kill a villain,but the way you kill a carrier of a plague so that he doesn’t spread it.Man is a saint,even after he turned into a monster of pure anger that feeds on fear,its just that….he in unwholee and unlucky.

  21. Functionally, the end conversation with Lola there was, I know that you cant say that you want me to kill your fiance, but I’m going to kill your fiance and I know that you are going to like it.

  22. Before this chapter, it was getting a little too painful to continue this series. I was empathizing too much with Blake, feeling too much of his anger and pain from having his friends stolen from him and used against him.

    But Green Eyes is so cute, and it’s so wonderful that a man-eating mermaid has Blake’s back that I can continue on. I draw strength from her existence.

  23. I really love how green eyes is talking about being friends/dating/sex-buddies while getting ready to rip some throats out. I ALSO loved blakes reaction to that.

    Totally made my day.

      1. Which could be really bad.
        “So, Blake, enjoying your cigarette? Was it as magical for you too?”
        “It was great, I never thought it could be this good.”
        “Ready to go for an eighth time tonight?”
        “Oh, no, I don’t think I can go again, I’m dead. Wait, I…”
        “Too late.” chomp

        1. That’s his fault for, as one that can’t lie, saying he’s dead. Totally deserved to get nomed on. Then again.. depends what she goes for first…

          The 12 year old in me really wants to make a “wood” joke, but I just can’t even… on a scale from one to even, I just can’t.

        2. The idea of blake with a cigarette makes me smile.
          Also.. how would that work? Does green even have those parts still?

  24. Perhaps I have been a bit slow catching on, and haven’t had the time to keep up with the comments on the whole, I wanted to offer some sincere appreciation for the direction the story has taken.
    Crafting a sympathetic monster, man, today’s chapter really hammered that theme home. Well done Wildbow. /slowclap

  25. Gotta say, the general aimlessness of the story recently was really putting me off. That said, this chapter may be the beginning of turning that around. Can’t for-sure say why, but definitely a relief to have Blake have a semi-positive interaction with those Duchamps, glad to see that the other characters in this story have personal motives…
    ->sidenote, the pseudo-drama endings are getting old

  26. You know, the question has to be asked, what was Green Eyes black monster? What was the “truth” that she is still so afraid of that she’s spent years running from?

    We know that she was completely alone in life and that she just slid into the drains, and that she hates people who drink/get drunk.

    What sort of black fish truth could we create from that, what is it that she’s still running from? I would postulate that the truth is that her loneliness is a result of some of her own actions.

    What action could have been bad enough to drive others away? Perhaps, and this is just speculation, perhaps she had a kid, or was watching someone else’s, had a good time getting drunk in a socially acceptable situation, but then the kid she was responsible for died. And everyone blamed her for it and shunned her from then on, and she blamed herself for it and shunned herself from then on as well. Because, here’s the deal, you don’t get to Drains like she did unless not only does everyone else shun you, but you shun yourself as well. You need to lose all ties. Like she said, if she’d just had a dog, she might have been able to hold on.

    So her current mindset is that she was all alone, poor her, she was shunned. The black fish “truth” behind her, though, just like the truth of Carl is that Blake wasn’t really real, is that her loneliness was sort of her fault — she did something monstrous that drove others away.

    I know we all love her for basically unconditionally loving Blake and kicking butt and taking names, but she has some sort of truth following her, something that she doesn’t want to realize is true. What is that truth?

      1. Yeah, that’s presumably where she picked up her drinking habits. Kids of parents with drinking problems are far more likely to grow up to have drinking problems themselves: http://www.nacoa.org/pdfs/addicted.pdf because there’s a strong genetic component. But kids of parents who have drinking problems usually think that they’ll be “stronger” than their parents were, and rather than avoid all alcohol/drugs forever, they usually get into it in an attempt to demonstrate that they are stronger than their parents were. And then the genetic component kicks in and they’re hooked for life.

        Still, I’m not saying that theory definitely is the truth behind Green Eyes, I’m just saying that there is some truth that she’s running from, something that she really doesn’t want to acknowledge, that she’s spent years not embracing. That truth, whatever it is, could be pretty devastating. It’s likely not the same as Blake’s, we can be fairly certain that she was once a real live human, but her physical development/changes have sort of paralleled Gollums, haven’t they — a normal person who maintains that he was shunned by everyone else, ran off and found himself living alone in the darkness at the bottom of everything, trying to catch the odd fish/goblin/whatever to survive, and he’d then eat it raw. So maybe her truth is that she killed her best friend because she was jealous of that friend then tried to get with the friend’s husband and everyone shunned her after that? That would neatly parallel Blake/Evan.

        There’s something about Green Eyes, something major, something on a par with “Blake isn’t actually real” that we don’t know yet.

        1. Blake had to confront a present, a past, and a future. Maybe the black fish is not a past but something else – a representation of hunger, maybe? Something she rejected, keeping at least some humanity in herself. After all, she still asks if she can eat people…

        2. I’ll agree with “she did something she saw as despicable” and “she (maybe) drank” but I highly doubt her secret is something like killing somebody.
          I picture her as a minor who recently left home (in a hurry) and blames herself for her parent’s neglect or abuse. Being shunned by a parent can make it seem like you’re being shunned by everyone, without the requirement that everyone hear about some dramatic event that she didn’t go to jail for. Leaving home doubles up on the effect, since she really would have had no-one. I’m picturing a bare apartment in a bad part of town, and a job handing out flyers or something, where people ignore you by default.
          Tragic but common. She may have done something blameworthy at some point, but not enough to make us hate her

  27. It’s still odd to see Blake being so blasé when talking about killing people. Sure, he’s a scary tree using scary gross ex-monster weapons, but still.

          1. Necromancer? Maybe. Depends on whether he has a sympathetic backstory or some nonsense like that. I mean, that’s why we like the tree monster who runs around killing things.

            The Ogre shaman? We know nothing about them, any evidence surrounding them is circumstantial at best.

            1. Sympathetic or not, a Bane is not something you make and still have the moral high ground. As for the Ogre shaman, his wife/sister-in-law thought him getting killed was cool so I’m taking that as good enough proof.

            2. there aren’t many backstories that jsutify twisting several cancerpatients souls into a predatory undead horror or using obviously pained ones to recover from injury.

              and he flat out asked the shout user if he was a monster and he couldn’t say no..

  28. Can someone explain the chicken nugget thing? I’m getting that it’s something sexual, but I’m not a native speaker and the Internet has not helped.

    1. Actually, it’s not sexual. They’re a type of food from fast-food restaurants comprised of a paste allegedly made mostly from chicken. The significance here is that Green Eyes wants to eat bird.

    2. haha no no, it’s not sexual at all. See, Green Eyes was saying she wants to eat chicken, or, in this case, bird. Evan is a bird. She was making another joke about eating him and he clearly has no idea.

      Like last chapter, Evan says “Just tell me how good I am” And she replies, “Oh, I would love to find out how good you are”. In here, Evan was saying how awesome he is, and SHE was reffering to finding out how good he tasted.

      She’s been doing that a lot, and he’s been clueless this whole time because he’s a kid and not suspicious of her at all.

      So, when he said “Am I missing something? I’m missing something aren’t I? What am I missing?” Green was looking at Blake for help to come up with an excuse so she wouldn’t have to tell him that she was joking about eating him, and Blake essentailly said “haha, no, you dug your own grave on this one. Good luck”

    3. bird chunks.

      traditionally taste more like soggy vaguely fishy cardboard than chicken.

      google “mcnugget”

      (if you’re thinking its sexual because evan didn’t get it that was because she’s been casually referring to evan as food since they met and it keeps going over his head)

  29. Just watched the Doctor Who episode Flatline. Spoiler alert, if you haven’t watched it — it’s almost a month past its release date by this point.

    “I tried to talk, I want you to remember that, I tried to reach out, to understand you, but I think that you understand us perfectly and you just don’t care. I don’t know if you’re here to invade, infiltrate or just replace us and I don’t suppose it really matters now because you are monsters! That is the role you seem determined to play so it seems that I must play mine. The man that stops the monsters!”

    Whew, I got chills at that, just imagining Blake in that position saying the exact same things.

    Just thought I’d share.

    1. Season 8 was pretty clunky and uneven overall, but ‘Flatline’ has to rank up there amongst the best episodes of Nu Who. The antagonists were clever in concept and their execution was even creepier than the Weeping Angels or Vashta Nerada. The episode also had some good humour and it created an interesting dynamic by forcing the Doctor into a more passive role than he’s used to, requiring his companion to take point.

      Capaldi’s good in the role. I just wish they could just give him more episodes of this calibre.

  30. I’ve loved all the modern takes on fantasy critters so far, but goblins fighting about kill steals (and then the would be kill getting away because that’s what happens when you worry about KS) is just perfect. I may be a teensy bit straight for wildbow after reading that.

  31. “Was this how the monsters in the movies got the energy to keep going, just when you thought they were down?”

    Eh, what? Wouldn’t they have to be doing something to invoke fear to gain energy which almost needs power to do so?

    Seems like being powered by fear is a win more button. The goblin doesn’t think you’re almost down otherwise she wouldn’t be scared…

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