Sine Die 14.2

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The furniture in the living room of Hillsglade House had been moved out into the adjoining kitchen and back hallway, and fairly tidily stacked on the ledge where the window jutted out at the front of the house.  The floor had been cleared, and a diagram drawn out.  Clear alcohol burned in little braziers that had been set on the floor, producing blue flame.  With no power in the house, the little flames were the only source of light; low to the ground.

Green Eyes’ eyes were among the only things in the room that weren’t painted in vivid shades of black and electric blue.  She lurked beside me, her head at my waist level, upper body propped up by her arms, peering through her hair, much of which draped in front of her face.  The green of her eyes looked out of place here.

Different Behaims stood at different points at the periphery of the octagon.  Adults.  Elders.  I recognized Ben, and the one that had sent the clockwork soldiers after us, killing Callan.  He was the one I’d failed to kill.

Alister’s demeanor was an interesting thing to see.  He looked poised, supremely confident, and utterly at ease in this setting.  When he walked across the diagram to the center, he didn’t miss a beat, walking over and between the lines.

He placed the ring in the center, standing on end, then flicked it, spinning it like a top.

“That’s not part of the ritual,” Rose observed.

“Theatrics,” Alister and I spoke in the same moment.

Alister smiled.  I didn’t.

“By their presence, the family elders agree to draw from the well,” Alister said.  “Let this ritual be completed.”

The fires went out, but the manner in which they went out was unique.  It was as if they were opened at the bottom, the burning liquid emptying along the lines of the diagram.

It animated, the individual components moving.  Everything rotated, circles spinning, individual components aligning.

I heard a ticking sound.  A cosmic clock, slowing down.

The components of the diagram all gathered together.  Like a great piece of machinery settling into place, everything came to an abrupt, town-wide halt.  My heart might have skipped a beat, if I’d had one.

The blue light that ran along the lines of the diagram traced its way to the center of the circle, leaving only darkness in its wake, and then used itself up, the fuse of an old fashioned bomb sparkling its way down to the base… then nothing.

“There,” Alister said.  “That buys us a day.”

“Good,” Rose replied.  “Ty?”

“Be right back,” Ty said.

He shot me a glance as he exited the living room and headed down into the basement.

Flashlights were flickering on, as we collectively stood in the front of the bottom floor.

It was a fairly pointless endeavor.  The breaker was thrown, and the lights came on, all at once.

Tiff shrieked.  At some point between the ritual and the lights going on, Green Eyes had climbed off me and crawled over to Tiff’s side, at the far end of the room.  Tiff had seated herself on the arm of the couch that had been dragged into the kitchen, Alexis sitting on the couch cushion itself.  Green Eyes was on the other side, her face six inches from Tiff’s, at about the same level.  Unmoving.

“Shit on me,” Peter said.  “I did not need to flashback to the mermaid melting the giant man to death.  Burned into my retinas.”

“Please don’t give her ideas,” Tiff said, not breaking eye contact with Green Eyes.

Green Eyes smiled, showing her teeth, then dropped to the ground, moving easily through, under, and around the pieces of furniture that had effectively blocked off the entire kitchen and back hallway.

“Try to behave,” Alister said.  “Things are touchy enough as it is.”

“As the frog said to the scorpion?” a Behaim asked.

“Said me, to you,” Alister said, his voice stern.  “What I’m saying isn’t for just the bogeymen and Others.  It goes for you too.  Don’t pick fights.”

I could tell, at a glance, that the older Behaims were not keen on being told off by an eighteen year old.

Had they expected to have a pawn they could control, who would be a more obvious target to any enemies?  He’d been a more obvious target to me.  Had things played out a little differently, I might have wounded him, bankrupted him of power by forcing him to undo the damage the Hyena had inflicted.

Green Eyes returned to my side.  I offered her a hand, and she used it to climb up my back.  She settled, her upper arms and chin resting on my shoulders, hands sticking out in front.

Better to keep her close, just in case.

“How’s your pet demon?” Alister asked Rose.

“Bound.  I should check on it in two hours.”

Alister didn’t respond.  Instead, he raised one hand, showing Rose his watch.

“Stopped?  All clocks?”

“All clocks in Jacob’s Bell.  The real power comes in when we need to smooth things over.  We’re borrowing against tomorrow, adding to today.  Except, as you’re well aware, given how you broke through my uncle’s barrier around this house, there’s more to some Chronomancy than simply altering time.”

“Or less to Chronomancy than altering time,” I observed.

“Ah…” Alister said.  He glanced at some of the other Others in the house.  The faceless woman and burned Revenant weren’t standing that far from me, and could see into the living room.  “Yes.  Both are true, depending on your perspective.  Right now, however, our focus is on the consequences.  We effectively skip a Tuesday.  Certain important mail isn’t delivered.  Errands are skipped.  We put everything out of order.  The real cost is in smoothing out the wrinkles, paying our debt to the universe for leaving things a bit out of order, and giving this enough backbone that it won’t fall apart the second it’s tampered with.”

Rose frowned.  “Does that mean the time-delayed effect around the demon’s circle is paused, or is that exempt?”

“Don’t know,” Alister said.  “What’s the timer?”

“Three hours.  I should check it in two.”

“I’ll remind you,” Alister said.  “If I can’t, someone should?”

A few older Behaims nodded in agreement.

“We expect you to hold to your end of the deal,” Alister said.  “It’s not just for our sake.  It’s common sense.”

Rose glanced over at Tiff, Alexis and Ty.

“Yeah,” she said.  “We’ll arrange it before we move on to the next steps.”

He cut the deck, glanced at the card, then pocketed it.  “Blake.  A word?”

I raised my eyebrows a little.

He gestured toward the front door.

I led the way out, walking past the faceless man and burned revenant.

I didn’t like him.  I didn’t trust him.  It wasn’t that he could lie to me.  It was a question of loyalties.

Stepping outside, I could see the sky.

The clouds had frozen overhead.  It wasn’t that they were that bright or easy to see to begin with, given the oppressive darkness and the lack of light from the city itself, but they formed a tableau now.  Like a cave roof overhead.

The longer I stared, the more artificial it looked.  Like an oil painting.

And it was so quiet.

Green Eyes reached out and touched a snowflake that had frozen in position in mid-air.  The snowflake drifted away from her touch, melting away.

“Perception,” Rose said.  “Neat to see, but it’s only a trick of the mind, a great many spirits playing along.  Pay too much attention to it, and you’ll start to see holes in it.”

“If it was a weaker effect, I’d urge you not to poke too many holes in it, but I didn’t make it weak,” Alister explained.  “I’m half expecting Johannes to send a genie or two to start trying to undo it and speed things along.”

Rose and Alister stepped down from the front steps to the driveway, joining Evan, Green Eyes and I.  Alister was in the process of pulling on a coat, Rose hadn’t taken hers off while in the house.

I expected Alister to tell my companions to leave.  He didn’t.

Rose studied me, her eye taking in every bit.  Including Green Eyes.

Finally, as if she’d come to a decision, she said, “Before we discussed the marriage in detail, Alister told me that he thinks someone’s pulling strings behind the scenes.”

“This abyss thing?”

“That’s part of it.  We can’t be sure without the full cooperation of Sandra and Johannes, but we think there might be more going on with the number of Others in town,” Rose said.  “Goblins without masters.  Many of your new acquaintances.”

“Gravity,” Alister said.  “As if we’re at the center of a whirlpool, and things are being drawn in.  Summoning is easier, control is harder, and thanks to the involvement of the Abyss, bogeymen like you and the faceless woman are thriving, recuperating faster, hitting harder.”

“Me too,” Green Eyes said.  “And the bird.”

“The bird?” Rose asked.

“Here,” Evan said.  He climbed up and settled at my shoulder.

“He got a small blood transfusion earlier,” I said.  “Back when the High Priest had us under siege.”

“Trying to rest.  Want to fly again as soon as possible,” Evan commented.

“Mm,” she said.  She pursed her lips.

Alister tilted his head to one side, then held up a hand, as if warning me or warding me off, even as he stepped closer.  I didn’t move as he approached.

“May I?” Alister asked.  He held up the ring.

Before I could voice my thoughts, Rose spoke up.  “Go ahead.”

Evan shied away from Alister’s hand.  Green Eyes moved one arm, half-cupping Evan, to shield him.

“You’re not going going to ask me my permission?”  Evan asked.

“Do you want to fly again?” Alister asked.


“This is me being nice.  Offering valuable power to give you flight.  Pure goodwill,” Alister said.  “Believe it or not, manipulating spirits is a talent of mine.  I can patch you up and stall the problem of you running out of energy.  I promise.”

Evan looked up at me, obviously unsure.

“Up to you,” I said.  “But it’d be good to have you flying again.”

“And it would be good to keep the Abyss from getting too much of a grip on him,” Rose said.  “The element of time should fit with his spiritual makeup, and that’s a void that the Abyss isn’t filling.”

“Okay,” Evan said.  He shifted position and hopped up.

The wound had healed in the interim, while Evan lurked within me, but not by much.

His ring just around the end of the finger, at the base of the fingernail, Alister ran the loop of metal along the length of the wound.

Putting feathers back in order, wound closed.  Evan stretched, testing, and his feathers stood on end in the process.  When he settled down, he looked more like a proper sparrow than he had since before I’d left for the Drains.

“Heck yeah!” Evan said, checking out his wings.  “Could do with more blood and fire for decoration, but-”

As if he couldn’t wait long enough to finish his sentence, he took to the air.  A faint trail moved in his wake as he disturbed snowflakes that were no longer falling.

“See?  I’m not hostile,” Alister said, backing away from me, showing me his hands, ring included.  “We’re not your enemies.”

“I know,” I said.  Even as I said it, I was thinking strategically.  Warily.

Twice now, he’d used the ring and a favor to pacify me.

With the third, what advantage could he glean?

I spoke up, “Believe me, that thing Rose is worried about, the hostility between severed halves?  It’s a double-edged sword.  Her paranoia over it is one edge.  Seeing me as more of a monster than I am.  She’s already tainted your thinking.”

Rose narrowed her eyes.

“You’re an Other that is racking up a notable body count overnight,” Alister commented, eminently calm.  “Can you name everything you’ve killed tonight?  Others included?  I’m betting you can’t.”

“If I could,” I retorted, “I think that would be a point against me.  Counting kills would be a little obsessive, a perfect recall almost more monstrous.”

“Okay, okay,” Alister said, raising his hands.  “Right.  That came out as being more combative than I meant it to.  I’m just saying-”

“I protected those people in there when Rose was taken away.  Are you going to fault me for the Others I killed while I did that?  It’s a war, Alister, and I’ve been fighting the only way the smaller force can fight.  I’ve been trying to do it in a way that leaves the right people alive.  So I’m pruning for future growth, rather than simply destroying.”

“Is that why you destroyed the-” Rose started.

Alister stepped between me and her, a hand raised in front of each one of us.

Green Eyes bared her teeth.  Because it was easier, I shifted position, turning back so one shoulder and the mermaid head that was resting on it were both further from Alister’s hand and ungloved fingers.

“Back to what we were saying before,” Alister said.  “The abyss, and our mysterious player.  We all thought the wraith of Molly Walker was a little too strong for what she was.  She’s only a vehicle for larger events.  A gateway between here and the Abyss.”

“And me?” I asked.  “Are you implying that I’m a vehicle?  Did I enable this?”

I extended an arm, as if to encompass Jacob’s Bell.

“No,” Rose said.  “Believe me, I wish I could pin it on you.  It would make things far, far easier, if I could simply point to you as the source of the problem.  Put the karmic weight for recent events on your shoulders, then get others to remove you.”

“You’re merely a player,” Alister said.  “You simply happened to be a well-positioned player.  The Abyss wants one thing.  You gave it what it wanted, at a time and in a place where the abyss maintains a great deal of sway.  In exchange, you got more of what you wanted.  Fuel to keep going.  Momentum.  You should recognize and take advantage of that, if you’re going to keep up the same string of successes, tonight.  What’s happening with the Abyss isn’t a good thing, but you gain little by rejecting it wholesale.”

“I gain more than you’re implying,” I said.  “Earlier, I told myself that I’d be me, in the midst of all this.  Not trying to be human, not trying to be bogeyman.  I’ve got to make that call when the situation calls for it.”

“Damn shame,” Rose said.

I shot her a look.

“You’d be easier to predict if you stuck to one course,” Rose said.

I tensed a little.  Green Eyes did too.

“I think what Rose means,” Alister said, interjecting himself again, “Is that you’re an ally.  Our goals are the same.  We want to stop people we care about from getting hurt, yes?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Yes,” Rose said.

“That means we want to find whoever is behind this chaos and stop them.”

“Yeah,” I said.  Rose was nodding.

“It’s easier for us to work in concert with you if we can predict you.  But you’re inherently unpredictable,” Alister said.

“Basically,” Rose said.

“You’re unwilling to take on the seal of Solomon,” Alister said.

“Yes,” I said.

“Which would make you easier to keep track of and form deals with.  It would nail you down in shape, form and demeanor, stop the Abyss from getting as much traction with you, and quite possibly slow down the rate at which the rift between yourself and Rose widens,” Alister said.  “If you want to maintain the balance of your Other and your human selves, this is a damn good way to do it.”

“Didn’t know all that.  The answer is still no,” I said.

Why?” he asked, with uncharacteristic emotion in his voice.

“Because of who and what I am.  I’d be giving up an integral part of myself.  Maybe I’d seal myself into one shape or one mindset, but I’m pretty sure I’d be insane, or I’d lose it fast.  I’d be closing a door.”

“Some doors need to be closed,” Rose said.

I grit my teeth, frustrated.

“Christ,” Alister said.  “Let’s… not have you two talk to each other, okay?  Make it a rule.  Blake doesn’t want to make the oath.  Fine.  We’ll go with that.”

“We can’t cater-”

“We’ll go with it,” Alister said.

“Okay,” Rose answered.  “Well go with it.”

“We’re standing at the center of an intricate spider web.  One wrong step, and we hit a snarl,” Alister said.  “Right at the center, right here, we’ve got people at each other’s throats.  You two.  My family against me.  The demon, poised to get loose.  More people, ready to go after Rose and me the moment the demon isn’t a concern.”

“The lawyers,” I said.  I hesitated.

“I explained,” Rose said, answering the question I hadn’t yet asked.

I nodded.  “The state of the house… we’re supposed to take care of it.”

“Okay.  If that even counts as a problem at ‘home’,” Alister said.

I could remember my last interaction with Ms. Lewis.  “I’m laying odds that the next time we see them, they’re going to be a problem.”

“Should we call them?” Alister asked.  “Head off the problem at the gates?”

No,” Rose and I said, in the same moment.

Alister frowned.

“They agree, for once,” Green Eyes commented.

“Which is either a very good sign or a bad one,” Alister said.  “I’m not sure how to interpret it.  Damn it.  Okay.  There’s still Sandra to deal with. The family is in shambles.”

He gave me a pointed look, as he said that.

I nodded.  Leadership broken.  Power base broken.  We’d still have their help.

Shaking his head, he said, “And Johannes is… quite likely gearing up to respond to this problem.  If he wants to throw muscle at it, we can hold out.  If he wants to get creative, I might have to be ready to respond.  More likely, he’s going to do both.”

“He’s not going to be able to tear down the time effect, you don’t think, but he might work around it, or pervert it to his ends?”  I asked.

“I forgot for a moment that you were a practitioner, once,” Alister said.  “You’ve grasped the problem.”

“It takes you out of the picture, Alister,” Rose said.  “Me too, if I’m going to stick by you.”

“You’re not,” Alister said.  “It just doesn’t make sense.  We need to do what we can.”

“What, then?” Rose asked.

I could see the pained expression on his face.  The fleeting eye contact with Green Eyes.

“Something to do with me,” I spoke my suspicions aloud.  “Wait.  You want us to team up?”

“No, not exactly that,” Alister said.  He extended a hand, palm up, and Rose placed hers in his.  He extended a hand to me.

I wasn’t comfortable with giving him my hand.  not when he had that ring on his finger.

He plowed ahead, ignoring my reluctance, indicating me with his empty hand.  “You’re close, though.  Imagine, if you will, the scales.  Blake on one side, Rose on the other.  Stick Blake on the Rose side of the scale, things go full-tilt, stick Rose on the Blake side of the scale, same problem.  Let one get too big, the other small, the scales tilt, and we get problems.  More of a rift.  Actions of the one hurting the other.  We need to keep you on a level playing field.”

When he looked at us, he didn’t seem to have the response he’d wanted.  He finished, “You two need to coordinate.”

Shit,” Rose said, and Alister nodded in agreement.

I nodded my agreement, suddenly getting what Alister had been saying, about not being sure if agreement between us was a good thing or a bad thing.

The city was a frozen tableau, utterly silent.  Clouds of snow had been stirred by the wind and frozen in the shape of claws and twists in the air.

In the midst of it all, Others lurked.  A fleeting shadow here and there.  The snow stirred in their wake, belatedly.  Out of sync with reality.

The scrape and squeak of footsteps was incredibly loud.  The periodic huff of breath surprising in its intensity.

Coordination.  Balancing the scales.

Halves of wholes.

I had Tiff.  Rose had Alexis.

I had Peter and Roxanne.  Rose had Ellie and Kathryn.

Christoff was staying behind.  At least, Alister wouldn’t be a worse role model than the rest of the Thorburns had been for Christoff already.

I had the Faceless Woman.  Rose had the Revenant.  I had the feathered Other, a brute of a man that might have been ogre or part ogre, and an Other in fine clothing, complete with a hood and a mask, no skin showing.  Rose had three of the ones that remained.  The leftovers stayed at Hillsglade.

I had Evan and Green Eyes.  Because they were mine.  Rose had the backing of the young Behaims, with Alister staying behind, staying in contact.  Hers.

“Johannes makes his move soon,” I said.  “Alister says it’s a big one.  Be ready.”

“That’s not encouraging,” Tiff said, her voice small.

“We got you,” Green Eyes said, with a smile.  “Got your back.”

Tiff turned, and offered Green Eyes a smile that was about as far from reassured as one could manage, while still being a smile.

The negotiation had been fast, swift, and fairly brutal.  Ty had too big a tie to Evan, so him coming with me was a problem.  Alexis and I were a problem on a number of levels.  Too strong a tie, in my mind.  Too much of a breach of trust, in my heart.  I couldn’t look her in the eye, or coordinate with her.

Rose’s tie to Alexis was milder.

All down the line.  We’d hammered it out.  Taking the Faceless Woman had been a call I’d made with Green Eyes’ brief interaction with the woman.  Rose could at least communicate with the Revenant.

The High Priest was waiting at the far side of the street, after we crossed the road at the base of the property.

“Well?” he asked.  He reached out to touch a snowflake that was trapped in mid-air.

“Change of plans,” I said.

“That seems to be a trend when young Alister is involved,” he said.

“I need you to divvy up your minions.  Give us some, but make it an even number.  Half to me, half to Rose.  The rest, yourself included, should go talk to Alister.  He’s waiting at Hillsglade House, he knew you were waiting here, and he told me to tell you he promises no harm will be done to you.”

Jeremy the High Drunk gave me a level stare.  Thoroughly unimpressed.

“You had a plan,” he said.


“Break one family, then break the other.  Pick up the pieces of each, go after Johannes.  I give you the backing of my god, so our motley army can break through and reach the man himself.”

“Yes.  The Behaims spent their power, doing this.  The plan stands.”


“But there’s someone pulling strings.  The rumble earlier?”

“Multiple rumbles.”

“Yeah.  The abyss is claiming the city, and it’s going to claim everything here with it.  The real problem is that something or someone is helping it along.”


I thought back to the tail end of the conversation with Rose and Alister.  After the discussion of coordination.

“Rose and I are splitting up.  Checking the obvious suspects.  It’s not Johannes, according to Alister.  He’s taking advantage, and if it happens it happens.  Jacob’s Bell disappears, along with all his enemies and Hillsglade House, he drains the marsh and expands east, ignoring whatever’s left to the south.  But the cards suggest it’s not him.  That means we need to look to the other practitioners and Others.  Ones with territories that wouldn’t necessarily be part enough of Jacob’s Bell to get drawn into the abyss with the rest of the town.”

The man frowned.

“We gather who we can on the way, the junior council if nobody else, and investigate the possible threats behind the scene.”

“The Briar Girl lives nearby,” he observed.

“Rose is tracking her down, with her group.  We’re after the Hag.  Or the remaining Duchamps, then the Hag.  We’re better equipped to travel a longer distance.”

“Speak for yourself,” Roxanne muttered.  “Short legs, I hurt all over, and-”

“You’re hunting an experienced  Other and practitioner in her own domain?” the High Priest asked, interrupting her.  “And you want my devotees to help?”


He frowned.

“You have one Satyr and one Maenad.  I’ll send the same to miss Rose.  You don’t involve them in a fight if you can help it.  If you get the Duchamps on board, they’ll act as bodyguards to those Duchamps.”

I nodded.

“Fine,” he said.  He turned and looked.  “About a twenty-minute walk from this end of the town to the other.”

“Half an hour, with Tiff, Peter and Roxanne along.”

He nodded.  “You’ve seen Johannes’ play?”

“Play?  No.”

“You will,” he said.  He touched a Maenad and a Satyr on the shoulders, then pointed at me.  They nodded.

Not the most trustworthy allies, but I’d take what I could get.

He turned to go, heading toward Hillsglade House.

“You, what?” Peter asked.  “Hey!  You can’t do that!  You’ve gotta tell us!”

Jeremy turned, and I saw a gleam in his eyes.  A mean one, just a little wicked.  More than a little mad.

I flashed back to when he’d betrayed me to Conquest.  Starting the whole event, complete with a war in the city.

Peel away the surface, and you see what lies beneath.  Remove him from Sandra…

…Or remove Sandra from him.

This was what he was, before.

“Take it from someone who works for a god,” he said, spreading his arms, still walking, albeit backwards.  “Some things just can’t be described with mere wordsDon’t get my followers killed, or you’ll lose what little grace I’ve given you.”

“Shit,” Peter said.  “Aw shit, what?”

“Calm down,” Roxanne said.

“Dirty pool,” Peter said, sounding annoyed.

We didn’t make it a block before we saw what the High Priest had been talking about.

If the area had been unchanged, the snow still falling, I might never have noticed.

But I saw the snow move at one rooftop of a very old building downtown.

A lot of snow moved, as a matter of fact.

Wings unfurled, briefly highlighted.

Red eyes opened, gazing at us from a distance.

A toothed mouth opened, and roared.  A screech.

I saw a flicker of flame, and brief illumination of a scaled body.  The noise of the screech was enough to disturb the snow, pushing it away from the rooftop.  To highlight other shapes.

A man.  Larger than the Astrologer’s creation, craggy in features, with a heavy beard.  Tall enough I could see him head and shoulders on the far side of a two-story building.

“Johannes is going full mythic on us,” Tiff said.

“Helping us on our way to the Abyss,” I said.

“Huh?  I don’t get,” Roxanne said, backing away a step.  I could see the marks in her skin, standing out with how pale she was.

“If you want to sink people, you gotta drop something big on them.”

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191 thoughts on “Sine Die 14.2

    1. You’re not going going to ask me my permission?
      You’re not going to ask me my permission?

      well positioned player
      well-positioned player

      usually spider web

  1. I like Alister. He’s level headed, confident, smart and not obviously evil.

    So we’ve finally come to the part near the end of the story where the arch nemesis team up to face the big bad. After that matter is settled, the 2 must have their ultimate, final battle. Who will strike first, Blake or Rose?

    An agent of the Abyss is pulling the strings. I wonder who that could be.

    I kinda want to see Peter and Alister team up. I Think they would make a good duo.

        1. Eh, doubt it. Ur’s breakout was apparently scheduled for a decade later when the factory fell apart enough to break the binding, and I don’t think he could radiate enough power through the binding to pull this off. I also don’t see a particular motive. He’s eating into the Drains, but Jacob’s Bell probably won’t wind up near there in the Abyss.

          Frankly, I don’t think it’s anyone we’ve met so far. None of them quite fit the profile: it needs to be someone who is strong enough to pull it off, they need to have some motive to do it, they need to be able to do it without having gotten caught already by the locals, and they aren’t Johannes.

          1. I highly doubt any of the long-term resident wild Others could pull it off. This feels like it would take a lot of power and almost certainly a big ritual. That’s more a practitioner thing. Maybe the Fae could, but I somewhat doubt they want to and am confident they’d want to be outside of the effect radius if they were orchestrating it.
          2. Corvidae has substantial connection powers, but he hasn’t been around at the right times. I can see him either masterminding or signing on with it, but he’d need a proxy (knowing or otherwise) to get all the uncontrolled Others in place and keep things going according to plan.
          3. Briar Girl sort of fits; while she apparently does benefit from the town somehow she doesn’t mind if a lot of other people have to spend a ton of money to make sure it grows, so as long as she gets him to leave the swamps partially intact she’d be happy to hand him a win like this. However, it just doesn’t seem like her style.
          4. Crone Mara has the motive, but I don’t think she has the power. Not without a ritual, and one that would not be easily concealed. Or short, and probably not a one-woman job either.
          5. Crooked Hat is dead and yet the problem is worsening.
          6. Toronto is busy even if it’s finally stopped smouldering, and none of the practitioners there were big on the Abyss anyway.
          7. The Lawyers probably could, but it doesn’t quite fit. They seemed to be planning to recruit a Thorburn, and they haven’t run out of heirs yet. Sure, they’ll get the house this way, but if they weren’t planning to recruit someone why would they have given Blake free samples?
          8. If it were the Goblin Queen, I think she’d have moved more openly by now.
          1. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be dude behind the Seal. Yes, I know he’s supposed to have been dead for millenia but I’m not letting that get in the way of a good story.

            That or it’s Granny Rose who actually faked her own death and is planning to drop the town into the abyss to keep it away from the Lawyers.

            1. Considering the type of story this is, I don’t think being dead is much of a hinderence. Look at Evan. Now imagine what one of the greatest practicioners ever to have lived could have pulled off.

            1. What bat god thing. Did you mean to type bell goddess? It certainly doesn’t fit with Faysal, and it would be rude to say that about Allister. Allying with Molly could be interpreted as somewhat Faustian, but I don’t recall anyone since then. I’d be wary of spoilers, but you seem to have posted on the same day it updated! And so I am left in suspense, wondering what you were talking about.

      1. i don’t think hes actually a bogy, just one of those catchall terms for the irregulars with certain behavior patterns. we saw where he came from and he doesn’t seem to have been forgotten enough to fall?

    1. An Agent of the Abyss… Someone who tries to grind people down, break them, make them suffer…

      To take the hard road. My money’s on the Crone.

      1. Nah, too obvious an antagonist. She doesn’t strike me as the type to make large scale plans either. She’s been around for ages, presumably only being a small problem. Why, then, would she suddenly upgrade to BBEG, when she’s had centuries to cause destruction before this?

    2. have to admit, im starting to warm up to him. if nothing else,he SEEMS to at least have the stones to TRY and do something other then be a puppet to his family while whispering hollow platitudes to his siblings.
      still feeling irritated that Rose still seems incapable of recognizing how her Perceptions of Blake are being warped and fighting it, since Blake SEEMS to be TRYING to do so himself, and he’s got generations of her bad karma tilting his perceptions even more.

      it reminds me of a book/series, i dont remember the name. the two main characters are two mage brothers. with control of shadow-based magic the other of light. they manage to kill the big bad and it’s dieing curse is to warp their perceptions to try and convince each other they are mortal enemies. long story short, mr i know im-infallible-light-wielder starts going more and more off the chain and starts cheerfully executing people for refusing to accept him as their ruler ( as he is clearly starting to go out of his Gourd to anyone not being influenced by his presence) while flat out claiming that even if his perceptions are being warped by a curse, his brother is still “omgee teh evils wizardz111!” whilest the other is clearly struggling to remain lucid, but is constantly trying to run AWAY to avoid being forced to fight his increasingly-detached-from-reality brother.

      the problem i have is Now that Blake knows his perceptions are being constantly shoved out of true by something other then the Thornburn Karma, he seems to be attempting to remain reasonable, while Rose is looking more and more likely to have a paranoid breakdown and try and shank her allies at the worst possible time (“they were siding with my other half! they were turning on me i had to kill them all and doom myself to the Abyss to stop them throwing me into the abyss!!”). it makes her look weak-willed, or even outright stupid, which despite my mild to moderate dislike of her as a person, seems out of character.
      makes me wonder if something ELSE is going on that we. dont know about yet.

      1. Wars of Light and Shadow by Janny Wurts. With Curse of the Mistwraith as the prequel that sets the whole thing up.

        It doesn’t help that the light-wielding brother was raised as a prince, while the shadow-wielding one started out as a pirate.

          1. It’s been too long since I’ve read them, particularly Curse of the Mistwraith that sets up the whole scenario. I don’t recall all the details of the political situation. But, yes, they were raised by opposing factions, and so started off as enemies. Then they wind up going through the gate to the mist-shrouded world from which their ancestors had fled (I forget how or why). They cooperate, first to survive, and then to use their combined powers of light and shadow to imprison/defeat/kill (again, I forget details) the mistwraith. Said mistwraith curses them to absolutely hate each other.

            However, the light mage has only his inborn power to wield light. The shadow mage is also trained in traditional magics. (There’s reasons why that have to do with the political situation surrounding their births; I forget details.) It’s not just that the light mage has given into the curse while the shadow mage is fighting it. The shadow mage has additional knowledge and power that enable him to fight it, which the light mage lacks. (The parallels between Rose and Blake break down here.)

            Then there’s the political situation which both affects and is affected by the strife between the brothers. To give one example, there’s a scene in which the shadow mage contemplates suicide as a means of ending the curse. Without the curse driving him, the light made would be an effective ruler, and a great deal of the chaos and misery caused by these wars could be ended. However, the ancient sorcerers forbid him from taking that path–going so far as to magically compel him to preserve his own life–because his powers of shadow may again be needed against the mistwraith.

            It’s a huge, sweeping series with a lot of background and massive worldbuilding, much of which I no longer recall clearly.

  2. We haven’t seen Paige in s while. I’m sure she’s learned some skills that would prove useful in the siege.

            1. So basicly there are two ways that Paige could have been eaten. One that leaves her alive (Unless Isadora is really good at it) and one that leaves her dead (Unless Isadora is really bad at it). As we have no way of knowing which one it is Paige currently exists in an uncertains state. Like Schordingers cat.

            1. Thinker 2. Most people in Worm have it, the others generally spent their build points on ridiculous gamebreakers they can’t use. Taylor sprung for the Improved Analysis (Powers) upgrade, and proved that it was actually worth the surprisingly steep point cost.

    1. We will probably see Paige together with Isadora once we get the next peek into Johannes’ domain. The situation I imagine is that Johannes’ made some sort of “I will restore the balance if you help me” deal with Isadora, which brings her “pet” along.

      But the city being plunged into the abyss, forcing one mortal enemies to work together to save their collective skin, changing the dynamic on a fundamental level… I can see this as final phase of Granny Rose’s plans to “bring about change”

    2. cunning linguistics while useful in not being mauled by her new ‘goddess’ won’t help much to keep a town out of the abyss

      1. The town is clearly in desparate need of more allies who can generate and parse legalese on the fly. They might finally stop getting tricked by entities who cannot lie and can be forced to answer questions.

      1. Very badly for the dragon and giant, I imagine. Theatrics and playing to the spirits is a major part of this world, so they’re pretty much doomed from the start.

  3. What is it about this story that gives me those boss-fight chills? Conquest, Isadora, an honest-to-goodness dragon.

    Wildbow, please, never stop writing. (Wish I could up my patreon subscription to underscore this, but alas, a part-time job paycheck is a part-time job paycheck)

    (Or wait, please only stop when doing other things makes writing more comfortable)

  4. A dragon and a giant, eh? Surtur and Nidhogg?

    I mean, obviously if he could actually summon them he wouldn’t be bothering with something as petty as this town, but I feel like these guys are understudies.

    1. If the dragon is one of Fafnir’s get, bathing in it’s blood would do Blake a world of good unless being made of wood associates him with linden leaf rendering the process pointless.

        1. Siegfried slew the dragon Fafnir and bathed in or drank his blood. It gave him powers. Depending on the version, he either learned the language of birds (hint hint nudge nudge) or he became invulnerable, except for a single spot, where linden leaf landed on his shoulder, so it wasn’t touched by the blood.

    1. Tiffany really strikes me as too smart and too reserved to be into Blake like that anymore. She had a crush on him when he was human and a local handyman who’d gotten into some trouble. Now he’s turned into a monster made out of wood, bone, and probably some metal wiring, this is romance-novel level stuff and she knows when to get the hell out.

      1. As long as it doesn’t sink to the Twilight-level of Romance were she decides to fall into the Abyss for him or something….

        But yeah, she’s had her chance. Green Eyes ship all the way.

        1. Yeah, I’m with Green. Though I guess we could get some sort of crazy time travel shenanigans, where Tiff sacrifices herself and falls into the Abyss to save everyone and they are all sad and then Green Eyes is all “No wait I remember now, that is actually me.”

      2. she seemed at least open to being interested in regaining those memories when he was in the mirror…of course he was considerably more human at the time

    2. Funny thing, Tiff and Blake had a pretty good connection, kinda like he was valuable to her or something, and then Tiff summoned Corvidae and then coincidentally all this shit’s been happening to drive a wedge.

    1. Of course she is. She and Alister are obvious head over heels for each other and here’s Blake talking shit about them and Blake sliced the guy’s hand with a sword.

      1. One thing I liked here was that Alister was so exasperated with both of them. It’s clear that he and Rose are aiming for flushed (or possibly something paler) but Blake’s presence is forcing them into ashen territory.

        Seriously, this is textbook auspisticism. “No, no, no. Look, just stop talking to each other, all right? We’re going to do separate-but-equal activities now while I figure out how to make you two not kill each other the moment my back is turned.”

        1. “Okay now this magic dance will briefly re-merge the two of you, but you can’t mess it up even a little, or you’ll… Well just don’t mess up.”

          Blake and Rose mess up and end up fused into a fat person for a half hour.

        2. Let’s see… Blake&Bogies, Rose&Thorns, stray Duchamps husbands, renegade Behaims, Johannes’ posse and a mysterious force at work on top of that…

          Alister: Defuse critically important 6x SHOWDOWN COMBO.

  5. Oh… shit.

    Who wants to bet Blake would have been running down to poke that fucking Balrog with the hyena if Rose an Alister weren’t around to be the smarter people?

    1. I’m sure that Johannes would have even thrown in some fake screaming innocents, just for him. Because Johannes is nice like that.

  6. …For a second there I totally thought that the balance/coordination that Alister was proposing was that Blake also needs to get engaged to him.

    1. Since we haven’t seen a confirmed familiar for him I thought they might be about to propose that solution.

    2. Funny coincidence. Rose gets engaged/married, and immediately her mirror self starts a relationship. Did I say coincidence?

  7. I’m getting exasperated with Rose once more. Throughout all this chapter she did nothing but try to pick a fight with Blake. I get she is afraid of Blake and probably with good reason. Blake probably has gotten in the way of her plans a lot, and has become a rather scary Other. But here is Blake being peaceful and cooperative and she does nothing but shoot ill-intended comments at him.

    Not much else to say, I’m excited to see where this is going.

    1. Take a look at how others have treated Blake and Rose and you realize it’s not really her fault. It’s basically the same as the karma burden they’ve been operating under since the beginning; everything he does is taken in the worst possible light, and even though Blake is watching for it his thoughts are incredibly suspicious of her as well.

      Although it seems like it massively intensified once they realized exactly what their relationship is. Which is a bit weird; you’d think they’d recognize it and be able to work past it. They were suspicious of one another to begin with (and Rose seems to have been revealed as acting on that suspicion fairly often), but they could at least cooperate when they needed to. In Blake’s case I guess it’s amplified by his real feeling of betrayal and abandonment, but Rose seems to have it worse. Am I missing some exacerbating factor?

      1. I’d imagine since they’re predisposed not to trust each other finding out the truth just inclined them to go “See! I knew I was right not to trust them!”.

        See: Confirmation bias

    2. rose got the “heir” traits when they got cut up…which apparently mostly means she got the bitch half and had to jerryrig the rest of a personality from there

      1. Er, hello, but karma? Neither Rose nor blake are bad, but everyone’s view of Rose is tainted by her inherited bad karma. You know the stuff Blake had until just recently? And Rose’s view of others come off in a offputing maner because the manner is innfluenced by karma. Or at least that’s what it would seem Padriac was implying.

        People’s view of Blake is largely influenced by the abyss and by the fact he’s a boogyman who has killed a rather significant amount of people. No matter his reasoning, he’s scary as fuck because he can’t seem to be stopped or predicted.

        Everyone in the comments needs to chill with the polemics against each side. Or don’t. It’s just that there seems to be an undercurrent of a moral to the story about viewpoints that maybe should be thought about. I suppose everyone could be roleplaying and acting like they were being influenced by the spirits in the story I guess, oractually being the spirits themselves.

        First rule about spirit club….

        1. “Everyone in the comments needs to chill with the polemics against each side”

          i mean isn’t that blank slate + bitch thing pretty much supposed to be cannon right now(well,at least until they figure out rose is totally wrong)

          1. It’s probable theory in canon that Blake retained the majority of Ross’s background and personality where Rose was a smaller ‘offcut’. The idea that she specifically kept the ‘bitchy bit’ of Ross is highly speculative.

        2. But she’s aware she has bad karma and should be equally aware of what that entails. Blake might have suspicious thoughts, but he’s picking his words to avoid antagonizing things further. She’s blurting out what she thinks, which seems to come out 90% Bitchy.

          Let’s be real here, if Blake was in full-on monster mode then she’d be dead because she keeps pressing buttons.

          1. One of the first things that Blake did in that conversation was try to turn Alister against Rose by calling her paranoid and saying that she’d tainted Alister’s thinking. He is being equally bad.

            1. …he said “chill bro i’m not as bad as you think, remember the source of your info is just as biased as I’m supposed to be for the same reason”

            2. That may have been his intent, but it was rather badly phrased and very ill-timed. It most definitely comes off as “You should side with me over the other mirror double.” It didn’t tell Alister anything he didn’t already know, it was guarnteed to make Rose angry as a deliberate attempt to undermine her credibility, and it is highly unlikely anyone except our two feuding idiots would make with the backstabbing before resolving the bit where they’re plunging into the Abyss while Johannes is directing the local high school production of Ragnarok.

            3. No,I disagree,I think it was a remark to remind Rose that she sees him in a worse light than she should,as does he,to try to make her remember her emotions are not logical.It was a reconciliating move,not a backstabbin move,as it is explicit that he is also affected by this.Instead,Rose took it as an attack attempt because prosecution syndrome stemming from hating him due to Barbatorem’s influence.

          2. Interesting note: As you say, he’s carefully avoiding making things worse here. Does that seem at odds with his monster-mode combat behavior to anyone else?

        3. “People’s view of Blake is largely influenced by the abyss and by the fact he’s a boogyman who has killed a rather significant amount of people. ”

          it doesn’t help that blake is unaware of the crow’s tweaking his “crippled but intact” win into ‘apparent attempted familicide’ levels of smashed to bits(unrelated side statement its probably a good thing he only got the 2 helpers from the drunk)

    3. That negative karma of hers is a double-edged sword, though. Not only are others predisposed to think ill of her, but… Those she might actually need, she’s likely to not think nice thoughts about, either. Particularly if there is a magically-induced rift between them. 😐

      In short: if she can alienate anybody in a way that’ll bite her, that karma sink will weight it to happen. 😛

  8. I haven’t read his other works of pre-Worm stuff, but I kind of like the idea that no matter what, one way or another a Dragon will appear in Wildbow’s works.

    1. Of all the many reasons I enjoyed binging Worm over the summer, the newest one is that I could get this joke.

    2. Why don’t they just leave the city? Let Johannes and Molly pull the town into Abyss. That will make the Barber their problem.

      1. Then Johannes would be Lord of Jacob’s Bell by default. This is a problem because titles carry clout. If he gets the title, he becomes someone worth listening too, and the survivors of the town will continue expanding into the now freed-up marshlands, giving him thousands more victims to prey upon and the ability to set his little torture farm up as an example to other Lords.

      2. I suspect it will prove much more difficult for practitioners to escape than innocents. At the very least, they’ll make excellent targets for wild others and Briar Girl’s pets. And they’d lose their stuff and break contract with the lawyers.

        Also, I’m not sure crossing out of the time warp is neccessarily possible and won’t just dump them to Wednesday morning. Granted, since it’s not (or at least not entirely) actually altering time, it’s probably not going to tear them apart mid-step.

  9. The Abyss effect would explain the Benevolent’s death. Blake’s rampage looked fueled by karma and targeted against people who probably had a lot of bad karma. It’d be reasonable for the Benevolent to assume that the karma gradiant would be too steep for Blake to overcome, but he underestimated the way the Abyss was dumping power into Blake. Heck, there might even have been an extra power boost; his good karma might have helped the town fight the pull.

      1. relied on his karma shield, “stab me if you can” stabbed.

        apparently abyss says “fuck karma, spirits have no power here”

  10. Not chapter-specific. I was trying to think of movies/tv shows that are canon in the pactverse, and how. I could only think of a couple:

    David Bowie as a goblin king. This explains why he was king of the goblins, while also obviously a human. The crazy labyrinth was his demesne, the crystal balls he was always playing with are his implement. Probably has no familiar.

    A mystical puzzle box that opens a portal to a nightmare world? Clearly we’ve got a portable gateway to the Drains made by a scourge, populated by bogeymen (actually the Barkerverse has tons of synergy with the Pactverse, and I don’t think its just genre overlap).

    I know there must be others that fit to various degrees, any ideas?

  11. ““Christ,” Alister said. “Let’s… not have you two talk to each other, okay? Make it a rule.”

    Annnd I officially like Alister.

    1. Yeah, Wildbow has an incredible ability to make a character instantly likable with a single line, and then build off it.

  12. I was seriously worried for a moment that they would need to split Green Eyes and Evan, that Rose would get one and Blake the other.

  13. Rose is getting a little one-dimensional here. All she does is verbally pick at Blake. Has/can anyone check for Corvidae interference, a faerie replacement, or similar shenanigans? Because I sincerely hope this is an effect rather than what the character is devolving to.

    1. It’s because Blake called her out on how he got everything during the initial split and she only got bits and pieces, taking what was left over like a scavengers after he fell. Doesn’t make her less of a bitch lately, but does give a reason.

      1. The fact she’s made out of whatever bits Grandma Rose thought her ideal heir needed doesn’t help. Grannie Rose was not very good understanding people. I doubt she would have been able to figure out a way to divide traits and actually get someone who has all the right things, without messing up and taking out something she shouldn’t have.

          1. Exactly. And I doubt you can just divide up someone like that for what you want and actually get it. Look at the episode of Star Trek where Kirk gets split into his good and evil halves. Yeah, his pure evil side is the beastly animal. But without that his good half is an ineffectual pussy.

        1. it;d be ironic, and fitting, if all the wheels fell off Rose SR’s plans and everyone was killed/obliterated ( as in everyone. the entire planet) simply because of that ( in a potential Timeline) just because of that. its like genetics. if you try to remove “undesirable” traits,( like something out of one of Liquid Snake’s ignorance-fueled rants) you are more likely then not to create something or someone that is defective/unstable/unviable. Rose and Blake arent a “perfect Heir” and a “Guardian monster”, they are two badly damaged, barely functional people who are consistently being crippled by the damage their idiot grandmother did as part of her nebulous plan.

    2. Barber.

      Honestly, I’m pretty sick of both our mirror doubles when it comes to their interactions with each other.

    3. The problem is that we mainly see her when she’s interacting with Blake. Before, there was a veneer of civility, but since Blake became a bogeyman his unrelenting hostility towards her makes her respond in kind…

      1. that’s the word. Veneer. her time with Conquest stripped a big chunk of it away. 2/3 of the current hostility of the relationship here is coming from ROSES side, and the remainder from blake is due to knowing she essentially brainwashed his friends in agreeing to murder him. wither she was always like this and playing nice, or she cracked under pressure is hard to say form this viewpoint.

        1. It doesn’t help that at that point she had to play nice with Blake, and she would have been operating on the belief she was more the real one than him, and that he was basicly usurping her life.

      2. WHAT unrelenting hostility from Blake?even his most biting comments were to pacify her by making her understand her nature,not to hurt her.

        I think you want to see moral ambiguity that doesn’t exist,why the hate on Blake?(not saying Rose is evil,she is barely a person,but she has an eexcuse only because she is unwhole)

    4. maybe she is getting a little one-dimensional right now. blakes been pretty strong since he smacked her down with the “we were ross and I got almost all his bits” thing…i mean he even actually had a decent plan that worked (until that crow showed up but he doesn’t know about that bit) and then stopped to think when the situation clearly called for it!

      1. It doesn’t help we still really haven’t seen things from her point of view, and we don’t know how she’s developed as a character compared to Blake. She may not be taking things well at all. Oh and Blake made things go from “Well at least I’m more of a person and closer to the original than him” to “No I’m not.”.

    5. Blake literally fired first here with a blatant attempt to undermine her alliance with Alister. I’ll forgive her for not taking Blake’s shit.

      1. I think that this was actually Blake subconsciously attempting to steal Rose’s new connection to Alister, actually. It’s sort of their curse, since they’re constantly pulling at each other in a desperate battle for metaphysical survival, they try to take the other’s connections to the world.

        1. Maybe,but even the words had a reconcillatory meaning,through I’d accept the “raise hostility”explanation for Rose not taking them well,and maybe for Blake unconciously making them more aggressive that he intended.

      2. What fire?maybe subconciously,but it seemeed more like trying to make her understand she had a problem and try to combat it,like he did,than aggresion.Their hostility effect might have made it sound worse,but its anything but an attack,you just want reasons to hate Blake.

  14. To change something you need destroy it and re-create it. Yin and yang.
    Blake is destroyer, Rose is creator. And Alister divide resources of both of them by half. It isn’t the best way to balance them… for them, not for him. Intresting.

  15. “Twice now, he’d used the ring and a favor to pacify me.”

    Wait, johannes is TRYING to sink jacob’s bell even though there’s still a bunch of innocents sleeping in it still? That’s can’t be good karma….

    I’m curious how he got his hands on a dragon…

    Damn, the abyss gave blake karma and strength. Awesome.

    Alister. Having a rule that rose and blake shouldn’t talk to each other is literally the best thing that has ever exited the bs-emitter you call a mouth, and probably the best thing anyone has ever said for the past three arcs.

    1. Johannes is trying to break the time warp and drive the innocents out, sending the town and likely the other practitioners to the Abyss.

      1. aside from a relatively small number of sympathetic persons, would this actually be a bad thing? in general its no real loss when a practitioner buys it. you could even spin it is burning a cancerous growth off teh face of the earth

        1. and then they crawl back out unbound and ANGRY, having whatever small redeeming features they’d held onto on the surface scoured away

          1. (and possibly fusing to their implement… and possibly having eaten eachother and lumped into one big monster via “you are what you eat”) no longer restrained by karmic backlash and powered by fear

        2. Of course a “meh, they deserve to die anyway” attitude will solve problems. I mean, it’s not like other people used that exact same reasoning to go after the Thorburns or anything, and that totally didn’t have terrible repercussions…

          1. it wouldn’t have if they’d been actually competent about it and finished the job in one clean sweep. if american vs german history shows anything its that a genocide done well isn’t a real crime. same reasoning behind the un helping the rwanda ‘hiccup’ happen in the 90s

            1. The UN did not “help” the Rwanda Genocide happen. Allow it to happen due to lack of political will for intervention and bureacratic inertia, yes.

            2. By German vs American history I assume you’re talking about the methods used to take down Nazi Germany. First of all a lot of the wholesale destruction was done by the society union. Second of all the sheer scale of how Germany was buttfucked led to the country being unable to support a nation state and being split up between NATO and the Soviets for forty years. After all, even if you bomb out the Nazis people still need to live in the rubble.

            3. actually meant injuns…what’d we do to nazis that’d trip a requirement for genocide? why wasn’t that in middleschool history?

            4. Well, strategic bombing campaigns of the time carried massive collateral damage. The Allied bombing campaigns torched entire cities, though they focused on military infrastructure rather than civilian casualties.

            5. Plus one small town that was literally bombed (get this) because it had a lot of unusual consonants and unusual letter patterns in its name, allowing the Allies to crack the German code when they talked referred to that town in their messages (and a lot of previously rare letters and combinations showed up together).

    1. They’re bait. With their karma accumulated as Thorburns, the most dangerous Others will home in on them like flies to shit, allowing Blake & Co to flank & blindside the Others.

    2. Well, maybe Peter, because he does seem to be a logical thinker, but with Roxanne the psycho and Ellie the thief, not really.
      My memory is kind of fuzzy about them so correct me if I got the descriptions of them wrong.

    3. Kathryn, maybe… unless she’s finally shaken herself out of the “this can’t be happening” mentality. 😛 That shoulder is a problem, regardless. 😐

      But, Peter, Roxanne and Ellie have their strong points. Even against many Others, I’d rate them as a team. (I think Roxanne has been through enough to actually consider becoming a team player for the time being, now). An inexperienced and badly beaten-up team, sure; but, each of those three can be pretty sodding viscous in their own ways if you give them even a quarter-chance. Come on: they didn’t completely crumble in the Tenements, even though it gave it the good college try: that says a lot. 🙂

    4. tasty bait for anything karma themed, splits the family to remove temptation to try and kill them all with one big blow(again), peter and ellie together make the party rogue

      and roxanne…can help carry stuff? i mean if you don’t care that she’ll put it down on a rock a few minutes later and it’ll be miles away by the time you ask for it back(might get worse and figure out she can use some kind of “human hive” based bug powers in a pinch and spend a few humanity points to play crappy chinese knockoff skitter?)

  16. So, about this sudden influx of masterless goblins. Am I the only one thinking that maybe its Blood, Darkness and Fire time?

    1. nah, they’ll fix this first and just when they think theyve done good….then its blood and fire time.

      because wildbow is a bastard like that 😉

  17. a problem i actually have in the comments is a fair number of people keep talking about the “unrelenting Hostility” Blake is showing towards Rose, and im Genuinely starting to wonder if ive missed a chapter somewhere. ever since the reveal about what she strong-armed their Friends into agreeing to, Blakes been obviously feeling anger towards her, but from what ive seen he’s containing it (most of his irritated-angry reactions have been Internalized, from what i recall, at least), while she’s getting more and more paranoid ( she keeps trying to have him bound by the seal/ tries to stir up trouble at what could be the worst time possible in the current situation). have i missed something or?

    1. General problem is that Blake did exactly same things as Rose, but doesn’t understand it/doesn’t want to put himself in her shoes. I think.

      1. Elaborate,cause no,he didn’t,he internalises and tries to hold himself from acting,while Rose just ….is aggressive.

    2. First, Blake’s hostility towards Rose dates back way, way further than that. It’s been a theme for basically the entire story.

      Second, it’s wildly out of line with Blake’s behavior towards just about anyone else. Back in Toronto, Blake flared with paranoia about Rose wanting to summon things and meanwhile decided to extend trust to Maggie on the subject of apparently being possessed. Someone who he believed was the person who tortured his favorite cousin to death.

      1. Yeah, this is the guy who summoned a minor demon, and then proceeded to wander into it’s lair and try to bind the thing singlehandedly, and failed at doing so. He really doesn’t have a leg to stand on criticizing Rose for her conduct as a practitioner, and the fact that he doesn’t seem to realize this proves that his attitude towards her is nowhere near fair or rational.

        1. Actually, I don’t remember if Blake himself was responsible for summing it. But he did try to make a deal with the thing to let it posses an anthropomorphic personification of Conquest, which is a whole new level of Jackie Chan “mind is full of fuck” level of what the hell.

          1. Actually, that was both Blake and Rose making that deal, Rose thinking it up and Blake handling the binding. Still possibly the worst idea either of them has ever had. Which is impressive, considering recent Blake and Rose. Maybe they’ve learned something.

            1. maybe thats why ross got cut…his decision making always sucked so grannie figured “fuck it, what could it hurt”. i mean he did spend a sizable amount of time as a hobo and accidentally joined a cult…

            2. On the other hand if you cut out the bad experiences and mistakes, then how can they learn from them?

            3. There’s something about the Thorburns that makes about 90% of them incapable of any sort of good judgement whatsoever. The only one who seems to be immune to it is Paige and maybe Peter.

              Oh, yeah ,and Kathryn owns a restaurant, whatever, I bet you anything it’s the Amy’s Baking Company kind of restaurant.

            4. The only one who seems to be immune to it is Paige

              lol, the one who allowed herself to be owned by a sphinx with a habit of eating those who don’t grow into perfect little molds of herself?

        2. When did he summon a minor demon?and the only thing he did as a practicioner that caused harm to others was declaring war on Conquest,which might have saved more than it killed,literally everything else was Rose’s fault or Ur’s fault,you cannott blame him for taking on a demon and losing.

      2. Yeah,but thats only because it was his nature to think like that,but every time he had a logical reason to trust Rose,and even some times when he didn’t,he still trusted Rose,see:actions vs thoughts.Also see:bleeding for her halfway to death,trying to pacify her with reasonrather than using the “im real,i act”argument.

    3. its just the same people who kept insisting he was a demon mote of barber and the ultimate big bad fining some other outlet


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