“No man in Creation is so dangerous as a well-meaning fool.”
– Dread Empress Regalia II

When he’d been nine years old, Masego had seen the end of the world. He thought of that, sometimes, at gatherings like this one. When making meaningless small talk with strangers, wondering if they had any idea about how fragile everything around them truly was. That the world was nothing but the whim of greater beings, apt to be snuffed out the moment they learned what they wanted. But all he saw in the eyes of the highborn was hunger and ambition, and could there ever be anything more boring than that? The silhouettes melded into each other, a hundred boys and girls cut from the same dull cloth. Even those with a measure of the Gift were blind, like they were just refusing to see what was around them. They might as well be animals or statues of clay, but still he had to stand and smile and pretend he’d remember their names if he ever met them again. He usually didn’t. Papa chided him over that, said connections were always useful, but Father just laughed. Still made him come, though, even if it was only a few times a year.

“- a pureblood Liessen charger,” the girl said, and Masego only now noticed she’d been talking this whole time. “Getting her across the Wasaliti was difficult, of course, but my family is not without friends.”

The boy squinted through his glasses.

“I thought there was a decree about the Thirteenth Legion getting first pick of mounts out of the provinces,” he said.

Father had arranged for a tutor to teach him about these things, which had only succeeded in motivating him to learn how to craft illusions. If he slept through the lessons it was easier to stay up late working on his own projects. Uncle Amadeus had called him worse than his father when he’d learned, but it had sounded like a compliment. His uncle did that a lot, say things he didn’t mean while smiling. It had taken Masego a while to understand how that worked, and even now he found the man’s face hard to read sometimes. It was like he was trying to make things confusing. The girl, whose name he didn’t even try to remember because he was pretty sure he hadn’t been paying attention when she’d introduced herself in the first place, laughed like he’d said something funny and put her hand on his arm. She had warm fingers, he noted, but he didn’t enjoy strangers touching him. Well, she was Soninke and highborn so she was probably clean at least. Still, since he’d turned twelve people kept pawing at him at these receptions. He really wished they’d stop, or at least tell him why.

“What do such trifles mean to people like us, Masego?” she smiled, cheeks dimpling.

He forced himself not to squint again. It sounded like she broke the law a lot, which was kind of stupid. Yeah, Father had told him that those didn’t really apply to him until Uncle Amadeus said they did, but that was just him. This girl would probably get hanged if people knew, so why was she telling him?

“Horses are nice,” he tried.

The girl blinked in confusion and withdrew her hand. That was his chance, he decided. If you didn’t retreat early when people got grabby they’d follow you all night.

“I think I hear someone calling me,” he hastily said, and fled before she could reply.

He was pretty sure this was the city home of the High Lord of Thalassina – though why someone who lived by the sea would want a house in Ater he had no idea – so hopefully he hadn’t just been rude to a relative of… whoever the High Lord was. There was an S in there, he was pretty sure, maybe more than one. The whole place was pointlessly large and dripping with gold, jewels and weird wood Papa told him was worth more than either, but worse of all it was filled with people. So many people. More than two hundred, though there were a lot of servants and supposedly those didn’t count. Masego declined to take one of the bits of meat pastry from a plate, since he’d been told those were poisoned, and discretely tried to find either his fathers. They weren’t anywhere in sight, but there were three floors and a rooftop garden so that didn’t mean much. Before he could embark on that journey of discovery, he found himself cornered by another girl and what looked like a pack of minions. Another Soninke. He squinted, pretty sure he’d seen this one before. Three months ago, when High Lady Tasia Something had the party with the magic lightshow? That had been very interesting, though people kept trying to talk to him during. Which, rude. And they said he had bad manners.

“Lord Masego,” the girl smiled. “A pleasure to see you again. You so rarely come to these little evenings.”

Shit, he was supposed to know who she was.

“Oh hello,” he said, and after a moment found a clever ruse. “…You.”

Flawless. He was going to get away with this cleanly.

“A very familiar way to refer to Lady Akua,” one of the minions said.

The boy frowned.

“I thought minions weren’t supposed to talk when important people do,” he pointed out. “Father says they used to execute people for that.”

The minion who’d spoken, some Taghreb, went pale at that. Damn it, Masego hadn’t meant to make him feel bad about his manners. Now he felt like an ass.

“It’s all right,” the boy reassured the stranger. “It’s just an old custom. Those aren’t very important.”

The Akua girl’s smile didn’t change, but he got the impression he’d said something wrong. Was it because she was pretty? Pretty girls always had these expectations about things he should be saying but no one had ever written those down, as far as he knew, and why would people not do that? It was just bad scholarship, honestly.

“A shame you believe so, my lord,” she said.

Masego frowned.

“Why?” he asked. “Do you want him to get killed? That’s a little rude to say right in front of him.”

The Soninke girl looked bemused, and also a little pained, but before she could say anything Masego felt a giant palm settle over his head and relief wash over him.

“Aunt Sabah,” he breathed. “Wait, careful with the hair.”

The big woman grinned and ruffled his braids even as he squirmed.

“Making friends, Masego?” she teased.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I think I insulted them but I don’t know how.”

He leaned closer to his aunt and whispered.

“They must have very thin skin,” he gravely told her.

He offered the girl and her minions a smile after that, but some of them looked angry for some reason.

“Lady Captain,” the girl said, and bowed.

“Sahelian,” Aunt Sabah replied. “Growing into a proper little lady, aren’t we?”

“I am ever my mother’s daughter,” the girl smiled.

Oh, Masego thought, they must be friends. Now he felt kind of bad he hadn’t remembered her name. Aunt Sabah took her hand off his tresses and patted him.

“One of High Lord Idriss’ mages prepares to make a demonstration in the gardens,” she said. “Your father sent me to get you.”

The moment magic was mentioned he forgot all about the other people, perking up.

“Skill display or a formula reveal?” he asked. “Because they’re not usually very good at the displays.”

“Formula,” the big woman said. “Come on, we don’t want to miss it.”

Masego wasn’t a savage, so he remembered to wave at the girl and the minions before he followed his aunt to the stairs.

“You don’t have any idea who that was, do you?” she asked.

The boy glared.

“Of course I do,” he said. “It was…”

Shit, he’d forgotten her name again. Come on, Masego, she just told you.

“Lady Ubua,” he said, pretending he was sure.

Aunt Sabah’s shoulders shook like she was holding something in. She must have eaten too much.

“Yes,” she said, voice tight. “That is exactly correct, and you should always call her that.”

Masego let out a sigh of relief when she was looking away. Ubua, Ubua, Ubua, he said in his head. He couldn’t forget, just in case Papa asked him later. They slowed when they got to the second floor, and his aunt steered him to the side. He was a little confused as to why, at first, but then he saw Uncle Amadeus talking with some important-looking Taghreb. His uncle was very pale, though Father had told him it was because he was a Duni – which wasn’t a disease, even if it sounded like it – and he usually looked sinister but tonight he was smiling and standing real close to the other man. They must have been old friends, he thought. The Taghreb was smiling very widely and his hands were shaking with excitement.

“Brat,” his uncle lazily said, turning to him. “Heading up for the reveal?”

Masego nodded.

“Do you think people will try to talk to me?” he asked. “Because they did last time, and it was very tedious.”

Uncle Amadeus’ lips quirked.

“Stay close to me and I’ll serve as your guard,” he suggested.

Masego beamed. His uncle turned to the Taghreb.

“Think on it, Lord Baneg,” he said. “It would be my pleasure to arrange it.”

The Taghreb said his courtesies very quickly, bowed and left.

“What were you talking about?” the boy asked.

“Giant spiders,” his uncle said. “Lord Baneg seems to have an interest in seeing them up close.”

Masego hummed in approval. As a provably repeated phenomenon of unclear sorcerous origin that displayed manifestations going outside the bounds of the classical table of elements, the giant spiders under Ater were a fascinating study subject.

“Is he a mage, then?” he asked.

Uncle Amadeus patted his shoulder.

“No,” he smiled coldly. “No he is not.”

“He must be a great scholar,” Masego mused.

It wasn’t people’s fault, that they weren’t born with the Gift. Yes, it made them kind of useless and ignorant but it wasn’t like they could help it. Just like he couldn’t help but finish the tray of lemon tarts when Dada made them, no matter what his other father said. It was, like, Fate. Delicious lemony Fate. The three of them were given a wide berth as they headed for the stairs, which tended to happen whenever Uncle Amadeus was around. He didn’t have a lot of friends, which was why Masego had been glad to see him getting along with the lord earlier.

“Our little Masego was making friends when I found him,” Aunt Sabah said.

“Was he?” his uncle said, eyebrow quirking.

“Oh yes,” his aunt said, voice tight again. “With Lady Ubua. You know, Tasia’s daughter.”

His uncle’s face blanked, which meant he was sad. Or angry. Or happy. Ugh, people were complicated. There should be a guide.

“Auntie’s lying,” Masego said. “I think I made them angry. Somehow. I don’t know why they thought I was the rude one when she said she wanted to kill her own minion, but maybe she’s just not that bright.”

“It’s not good to insult people, Masego,” Amadeus said. “You should send a letter to Lady Ubua to apologize.”

“Do I have to?” he whined.

“I’ll help you write it, don’t worry,” his uncle said, a tremor going through his shoulders.

Aunt Sabah was grinning, which made people around them back away even further. Masego sighed, but figured he might as well.  Father always said he was only supposed to hurt other people’s feelings on purpose. They passed through the third floor and the boy tugged at his aunt’s hand.

“There,” he said, pointing ahead. “Papa’s talking with people.”

There was a cluster of at least a dozen highborn in a circle around his father, most of them women. Papa said something that had them laughing and drank from his cup, nibbling at cut of meat. Some of the ladies were looking a little red in the face, but people did that a lot around his fathers. Papa saw him from the corner of his eye and smiled, saying goodbye to his friends and sauntering up to them.

“Tikoloshe,” Uncle Amadeus said, inclining his head.

“Amadeus,” Papa smiled. “Always such a pleasure. And Sabah, dearest. A shame you did not bring your children.”

“Bad enough I have to come, I’m not going to torture them with this kind of company,” Aunt Sabah snorted.

“Do give my regards to your husband,” Papa said.

His aunt laughed.

“’Loshe, I’m not going to help you flirt with him,” she said. “Give it up.”

“But he always gets so flustered,” Masego’s father said, smiling over the rim of his cup.

Uncle Amadeus’ face was blank again. It was like that a lot, around Papa. Father said they didn’t get along very well but when Masego had asked why he’d just said it was ‘complicated’. The boy tugged at his father’s tunic.

“There’s going to be a formula reveal upstairs,” he said. “I don’t want to miss it.”

His father’s brow rose.

“Have you earned it?” he said. “How many people did you talk with tonight?”

“Ten,” Masego said, having honestly no idea whether he was lying or not.

Papa studied him closely.

“Zego, are you lying to me?” he asked.

“It’s not a lie if you don’t get caught,” Masego replied cheerfully.

The Empress had said so, once, so it must be true. Papa sighed.

“We will mingle after the demonstration, you and I,” he announced. “And I will have no backtalk.”

The boy grimaced but didn’t argue. That way lay Callowan apples instead of pastries for dessert, which was basically torture and probably illegal. The adults talked while they made their way up to the garden, mostly about Aunt Sabah’s children and how quick they were growing. She said they were going to be bureaucrats like their father, which sounded horrid but he supposed someone had to do it. The rooftop garden, he decided after they went up, was actually very nice. It wasn’t just plants, there was also obsidian sculpted to look like flowers and trees and in little nooks he could see runes had been carved. Much of this, he realized, was actually illusions. He drifted away from the adults and elbowed aside a bush of large green leaves, kneeling at the foot of an obsidian tree and tracing the runes hidden in the roots with his fingers. The work was simplistic, he thought. The harmonics in the sound production could be significantly improved if they took out the array stabilizer and separated the core into two different workings. Yeah it’d be a little trickier to power but then you could have illusionary wind moving the leaves and also-

“Look at you,” Father sighed. “They lose you for ten heartbeats and you get dirt all over your robes.”

Masego looked up at his father, then down at his knees. Huh, it was true. He’d been kneeling in soil this whole time and pushing aside the dirt covering some runes had gotten some all over him.

“This is very unprofessional work,” the boy said gravely. “They used a cascade pattern to keep the sorcery flowing, Father, it’s like they’re not even trying.”

The dark-skinned man crouched at his side, the edge of his tunic brushing the soil.

“What is the Third Law of Artifice, Masego?” he asked.

“Sorcery anchored in the material will only work perfectly for the sorcerer who created it, because every caster leaves a different mark,” the boy dutifully recited.

“And the corollary?”

“The more complicated anchored sorcery is, the more prone to failure it becomes over time,” he said. “Simplicity is pow- oh. They made it shoddy on purpose, so that anybody could use it.”

“The mage who first built the Stoneglass Garden was very talented,” Father said. “But he knew his successors might not be as skilled, so he kept the system simple.”

“That’s stupid,” Masego said bluntly. “If they’re not good enough, they don’t deserve to use it.”

“This is a showpiece, Masego,” his father said. “It’s meant to be used as often as possible.”

“All they’re showing is that they’re shit at spellcrafting,” the boy muttered under his breath.

Father looked amused as he rose again, offering a hand to help him up.

“Come,” he said. “Let’s have a look at that formula. I’m told the demonstrator has improved significantly on an old Thalassinian spell.”

Masego followed eagerly, excited again. There was a place in the middle of the garden where a large round platform of stone was left in the open, seats of pale wood set all around it. His uncle was already seated but Aunt Sabah wasn’t, which made sense. She’d probably break the chair if she tried, she was really heavy. His fathers had him sit between them, Papa fussing with the tresses his aunt had messed up and shooting her a dark look. Silence washed over the garden when some Taghreb woman got onto the platform, bowing and talking a lot about how some High Lord was great and blah blah blah, honour and old blood and Gods when were they going to get to the magic already? Eventually she raised her hands and began tracing red runes in the air. Oh, so she used Miezan tracing. That was rare, it was a lot more rigid than the techniques developed under Dread Emperor Sorcerous. A triad of runes formed a triangle as she continued murmuring, then a thin needle of blue fire erupted from the centre of it. She guided it into shapes, but Masego’s eyes narrowed as she watched. The initial quantity of fire had not changed: she was just thinning the intensity so it looked like there was more. It was inefficient. It was slow. It was inaccurate.

“No,” he said, and rose to his feet.

There was a ripple of murmurs around but he didn’t care, going onto the platform.

“You’re doing it wrong,” he insisted. “Look, look closer until you can have a Glimpse of what you should be doing.”

His fingers danced across the air, using her lame Miezan tracing instead of proper High Imperial. He slowed when he made the initial runes, making sure she’d be able to see where he differed – adding a draw pattern to her initial burst, then followed along the same lines of her spell but actually making more blue fire because the working was still drawing on his sorcery instead of diluting the power like hers had. It fit, but already his mind was running through ways to improve the spell. Refine it, cut away at the impurities. Masego felt clarity descend on him like morning dew, fresh and limpid on his tongue. A sigh came from all the lords and ladies like they were a single person, and Father came up to steer him away from the platform. Some old man that was too light to be Soninke but too dark to be Taghreb came up to them, all smiles.

“My congratulations, Lord Warlock,” he said. “A Name at his age is an achievement that will sound across the Empire.”

Masego squinted at the stranger, then leaned close to his father.

“Father, who is that?” he whispered.

The only thing that broke the silence that followed was Uncle Amadeus’ convulsive laughter.

74 thoughts on “Prodigy

    1. stevenneiman

      That certainly does explain why he’s so obsessive about it during the story proper. I always figured it was a Name-strengthened trait, but if it was the one he actually earned his Name on, it would be even stronger.

      Liked by 11 people

      1. I don’t follow the logic you’re using to claim this aspect of his personality as being integral to his becoming Named. I didn’t see that there’s any causality there.

        I mean, why focus on this little side detail? It’s interesting and funny, sure, but important? I thought the important part about becoming [presumably] Apprentice was being extremely knowledgeable about magic.

        I guess you could argue starting from the fundamental key to getting a Name, which Black explains is making the decision to take control and see things done the way you know to be right. That kind of fits if you think Masego has Decided that being a Pedantic Ass is Right. I just don’t see any real evidence that’s what happened.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dangit the site cut me off mid-comment.
        What I was saying is that every Named has some important moment where they go from being a person with the potential to gain a Name to actually being Named. While a lot of what goes into their post-Name personality is already there, the Naming moment is very important in deciding what gets emphasized. Black gained his Name when he saw his predecessor die due to tactical blunders, so his personality incorporated a more obsessive desire to use sound tactics. Wekesa gained his Name by defeating a stronger opponent in a magical duel by recognizing that more things were possible than his opponent, so he developed a stronger interest in figuring more about the rules and potential of magic than anyone else in his world. And Masego got his name by calling someone out for having what he considered a poor understanding of something, so he developed a greater unwillingness to let anyone else’s inferior understanding of any topic stand.

        Liked by 12 people

          1. NerfContessa


            Also, truly wonderfully fun chapter.

            MAsego could sing “everything’s farmed, callow land and Praes 3d…

            …dont want any ubua…”

            Shameless plugged from a great song..


  1. RoflCat

    Uhhh, who is the last person?

    Definitely not the Chancellor since Malicia is Empress at this point.
    And since this is Akua’s home, then it’s unlikely to be her father since that man was supposedly the shut-in type and I doubt Black have anything against the man enough to laugh at Masego not knowing him.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Jeffery Wells

          ? The one throwing the party is a High Lord of Thassalina, Tasia is from Wolof. This would most likely be that High Lord, whose name Masego can’t remember, but is “pretty sure has an S in there somewhere.”

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Dainpdf

    Masego sounds like I did when I was a kid. Except I didn’t actually have the genius to back it up.
    Anyways, Akua shall henceforth and forevermore be known as Lady Ubua, the Anabolist

    Liked by 22 people

    1. RandomFan

      Eh, he’s been able to remember other named associates as well. Yeah, they’re family, but I’m not sure Catherine isn’t as well, if by a more adoptive bond.

      I bet he remembers Akua’s name as well, now, if only as an interesting problem for him to obliterate. Or maybe all the enemies fall into a formless mass, it could go either way, really.

      He’ll probably even eventually remember the rest of his team’s names, eventually- if he doesn’t already.

      That said, now that I see how spacey and disconnected with humanity he can be, I’m not surprised that he became Hierophant and not Warlock.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Letouriste

      Cat,akua etc… have Names,of course he will remember them.a random high born is far less interesting than a Named when there is only ten or so Named in the empire.
      I guess he also remember the most famous mages and a few people he interact often with.i guess he only remember the name of hakram,cat,miss hellhound and Killian in the fifthteen.all the others are blurry to him and he only remember them a little


  3. sheer_falacy

    Honestly it’s astounding that he ends up as good at reading expressions and tone as he does, considering how thoroughly unhelpful his relatives and pseudorelatives are. Between hiding emotions, lying, trolling him, and using him to troll other people, even a non-autistic child would get some pretty messed up views.

    Liked by 16 people

    1. AVR

      Learning in self-defense, with no actual help can work. There’s a lot of embarrassment along the way and there’ll be holes in your understanding, but Masego’s developed immunity to the former and is pretty well described by the latter.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Cpt. Obvious

      Necroposting again…

      As someone who has severely stunted ability to read and understand emotions I totally get the confusion Masego is feeling. What for most people I can only assume is a automated process is for me something that takes conscious effort to achieve. When interacting with people I constantly have to listen to what they say, how they phrase it, tone of voice, infliction, look for body language and try to decipher facial expressions. And just to make it more fun, the signals often seem to contradict each other’s.

      Most often I make out fine, but there have been times when I got it terribly wrong. It makes me feel uncomfortable in crowds and larger parties as I can’t concentrate on more than two or possibly three people at one time. Any thing more than that is an invitation to disaster.

      At parties I tend to pretty much stay out of the way and just watch people for warning signals. I tend to only talk to friends who knows a bit about how my mind works, and just keep to empty phrases of pleasantries when others approach me.

      I find it fascinating to watch people’s interactions, but ultimately it’s frustrating the way they keep dancing around the subjects and almost never just say what they really want.

      And then there’s names. I’m probably even worse at remembering names than Masego is in this story. And it makes people think I’m a twat. The fact that I only remember the names of a handful of my closest relatives and often have to think hard to remember the names of friends I’ve known for forty years and talk to on a weekly basis is totally alien to most people. I have to really think hard to recall the names of my sister’s kids. And that makes me feel like an ass…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. tynam

        It doesn’t make you an ass, ever. It’s perfectly normal.

        Society’s expectations are heavily designed around the things that are easy for neurotypical people because they’re in the majority, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually a good idea. Just that they come naturally to people who reflect emotional cues without realising and don’t handle honest presentation well.

        This inevitably makes things hard for autistic people, and many others whose kinda don’t work like the standard, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. _They_ are doing something along, by expecting your kind to work the same way theirs do instead of recognising that humans vary hugely.


    1. Zaits

      The icing on the cake is that Akua’s father is very similar to Masego, down to using the same phrase as he was introduced. Given that they probably mocked him as soon as he left, Akua’s going to be rather unhappy with her minions now.

      Liked by 7 people

    1. LM

      I hope not. Or at least I hope it never gets brought up. Most of the main characters shown to romance are already bi or gay. Malica, Archer, Cat, Masego’s Dads.


    2. Letouriste

      Nah I think they just don’t trust each other but need to interact often.
      Tikoloche is all magic and raw power etc.. and black see that like a ticking bomb if anything.tikoloche see black…I don’t know,the only bit we know at this point is from that discussion in the « red skies » chapter and that obvious tiko didn’t know anything about anyone at that time.he only has been summoned not long ago

      Liked by 1 person

    3. stevenneiman

      No, he just didn’t trust Tikoloshe. He told Wekesa he should have just gotten all the information he could out of him and then killed him, but Wekesa refused. I think by this point Black still thought of Tikoloshe as a poor decision Wekesa ignored his advice on, though he might or might not have changed that opinion as time went on.

      Liked by 9 people

  4. Engineer

    More data points to add to Name lore, yes! So it’s now been shown that you can earn a Name in three ways:

    a) Have someone stab a sword through you and battle your inner demons ala Ichigo in Bleach.
    b) Take up a profession and become so skilled at it that the Heavens or the Gods Below smile upon you as what happened to Thief.
    c) Be born with it as Sabah was when she was the Cursed.
    d) Impose your will upon creation in a public place so that you gain Weight and earn a name.

    D feels wrong however. If it were that easy, wouldn’t most High Lords and Nobles also be Named? Since they usually enforce their will upon Creation routinely.

    Should there be a story behind the events in order to get a Name? If so, what was the story that complemented Masego’s nature in order for him to become the Apprentice?

    Because I can’t see it. There should probably be a hundred claimants to Apprentice. A glaring example is Abua’s father since his nature and gifts mirror that of Masego. He should have been the Apprentice. I remember Abua saying that her father didn’t want to claim the Name Warlock due to a disdain for politics, so it seems like the individual itself has some say in whether they become Named. But with examples like Masego and Vivienne we see that Names are just forced on you when you meet certain criteria with no regard for your own personality.

    I notice I am confused.

    EE, you should really release a supplementary guide to the guide that explains all the mechanics of your World, how Names in particular function.

    “The Book of All Things” sounds like a good Name for such a document.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Name, as I see it, is what Creation bestows upon a character within it that holds the signifigance and position of that Name.

      I think you views of A and D are somewhat flawed, but generally get the point.
      For A, the reason Catherine managed to become a claimant of Squire is because she was the student of the Black Knight. That’s why it worked when Black gave her a Name dream. Like a story, I believe Names such as Black/White Knight and Warlock have weight behind the choices of who can take the Name of their sub-class.
      To work this into D, I believe that there’s also an expectation behind the people viewing the act to have the claimant get the Name. Like the Name Chancellor, there is no inbetween Name for it like Black Knight or Warlock usually do, but yet you can still get it by simply claiming the Name in front of the whole Empire (or enough important people). It’s like what Catherine did in the Winter Court.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Engineer

        You’re right. That would explain why Masego could claim the Name Apprentice. His Father basically endorsed him for the Name. But it doesn’t explain why there would be other claimants to the Name Squire. Did Black then purposely give them Name dreams as well as an attempt to test Cat? It can’t have been White since he’s a hero and the other claimants were universally aligned with Evil.

        Or maybe an endorsement from the knight in question isn’t the only way to become a claimant. Like you said, you could just be a highly skilled swordsman so much so that people around you begin to have high expectation of your skill. Then you loudly and publicly proclaim that you are the next Squire. Thus, you become a claimant.

        Thanks, I understand name lore a little better now.

        Question of quantification: How many people need to believe that of you for it to be sufficient to gain the Name? Could you enslave an entire town and brainwash them into believing that you are the Death Knight for example, and so doing generate cultural weight to claim the Name?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Metrux

        I think it’s more about the view reality takes of you than what people do, it’s just that people are part of reality. You see, even Fae can be Named, we saw that, and they have almost no choice in who or how they are, so why would they choose others to become Named? If you have this weight to reality, then you get the Name. In Masego’s case, he already had this weight for a while, great magical genius, son and aprentice to the Warlock, always curious and learning… It was just a spark to put the Name into place, not the moment this Name “weight” was created.


    2. Akua’s father was a candidate for Warlock (and presumably could have been Apprentice if he was apprenticed), but _chose_ not to take the name or fight for it. Warlock decided to be Apprentice and then Warlock (by slaughtering his master).

      It apprears that you can claim a name, and when you unlock the first Aspect, you get it. Then, challengers can kill you for the name. Masego was already an apprentice. He ddn’t think about having a Name, or claiming it, but he was already in the Role (like Viviene). He actually became the Apprentice with Glimpse, when the universe agreed with his role and gave him an aspect to go with it.

      Aspects appear to be traits that are really amplified. And Masego had clear sight.

      Like Black said with Cat, Black had some say and could push his chosen candidate along (which he did by stabbing her). Warlock similarly could push his son along to become Apprentice.

      And once he claimed it, no one was going to challenge Warlock’s SON.

      This is how this makes sense to me, with A, B and D being linked — be MORE of what you are, with an option to say no. And the alternative being C, where who you are is so defined by a unique condition that it is a name and you have no choice.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It really tickles me how much Tikoloshe just melts at the sheer idea of kids. No wonder he and Sabah got along so well: guaranteed synchronized cooing over the latest baby news. (For those who don’t know what a tokoloshe is… Look them up. Have some brain bleach handy, though. If it helps: one guaranteed way to free a tokoloshe is to trick their master into ordering blatant harm to innocent children. They will not just snap the bond themselves and rebel, but attempt to kill their ex-master very, very messily.)


  6. Does anyone know the difference between incubii in this story vs. incubii in Webb’s Bastardverse? Are the details even really important, for this story?

    Does “Papa” always refer to the incubus and “father” always refer to Warlock, or is it loose? Honestly I think E.E. is messing with anyone trying to divine information out of this


    1. TeK

      They both draw from initial incubus myth of Christianity. A demon, servant of Satan, who seduces women for a general purpose of getting their souls. A little more tricky is Goethic view at them, as basically leeches who eat sexual energy. The main theme is the same across this webnovel and Bardverse, but the main point is that while incubii is a genuine demon from the Hell of Desire, who’s whole nature is in saturating said desires, including the sexual ones, in Bardverse they are more like some weird spies with a angst against Heaven, with clearly human origin.


      1. I read and love TGAB too 😉 And thank you for your first comment, which was informative and useful, but your second one is cray.

        The SAME fantasy-verse? Surely you’re thinking of something different, because that’s absurd. There’s no transcension fields in this story, how would that even work? Even if Calernia is on the opposite side of the plant from Tiraas there’s no way the stories are compatible


  7. Akua’s father was a candidate for Warlock (and presumably could have been Apprentice if he was apprenticed), but _chose_ not to take the name or fight for it. Warlock decided to be Apprentice and then Warlock (by slaughtering his master).

    It apprears that you can claim a name, and when you unlock the first Aspect, you get it. Then, challengers can kill you for the name. Masego was already an apprentice. He ddn’t think about having a Name, or claiming it, but he was already in the Role (like Viviene). He actually became the Apprentice with Glimpse, when the universe agreed with his role and gave him an aspect to go with it.

    Aspects appear to be traits that are really amplified. And Masego had clear sight.

    Like Black said with Cat, Black had some say and could push his chosen candidate along (which he did by stabbing her). Warlock similarly could push his son along to become Apprentice.

    And once he claimed it, no one was going to challenge Warlock’s SON.

    This is how this makes sense to me, with A, B and D being linked — be MORE of what you are, with an option to say no. And the alternative being C, where who you are is so defined by a unique condition that it is a name and you have no choice.


  8. Unmaker

    Looks like Hierophant is actually less of a ‘magic nerd’ than his father was.

    Wondering why people came up to touch him a lot. His incubus boyfriend probably had an absolute blast burning off that naivete.


    1. Morgenstern

      Eh? Hierophant aka Masego seems rather asexual. He certainly does NOT have a boyfriend. You’re mixing him up with ‘father’ Wekesa aka Warlock. The WARLOCK has the incubus friend. And HE is less of a “magic nerd” than Masego is, unless you mean this to express his skills… of course he (Warlock/Wekesa, the FATHER) is ahead in experience and thus finesse, compared to the adopted son. He had a lot more time. But Masego is certainly a LOT nerdier, seemingly being into information and ONLY information. Unless… the fated lemon tarts are offered (why the heck do I have to think of Sansa Stark now… now *that’s* a stronge connotation here ^^)… or meat pies. Ok, one CAN say he is into eating. Which is actually one of the tropes for asexuals. “PIE” is one of the banner words, so to speak, as someone coined the phrase “we are more into pies than sex, simple as that” (or sth the like). 😉


      1. Morgenstern

        The incubus is the “papa” to Masego, as this very chapter seems to clear up. No idea how you made that into “his (Hierophant’s = (here: little) Masego’s) boyfriend”.. o_Ô


      2. Morgenstern

        PS: Although, to be fair, Masego may *seem* asexual from the outside, but that does not necessarily mean he needs to be that from the inside. He might just feel awkward and simply be shy or even feel somehow undeserving of other people’s attentions, especially the positive ones, if enough mean people have picked on him. Another trait often attributed to “nerds”. Which, when it comes to THIS aspect, Wekesa/Warlock seems anything BUT. Wekesa is very socially able – if he WANTS to be social, obviously.

        Wekesa’s also consistently being described as being sexy as hell (fitting his incubus companion), while Masego is the plump pumpkin more commonly attributed to the word “nerd”, which is often associated with the awkward pimply and pale teenager who spends too much time in his room, with his tech toys (e.g. computers, here: “everything about magic”).


      3. Morgenstern

        Seeing how Masego is THAT socially awkward, it seems to come as no surprise that he might either disbelieve that or not even understand how anyone could be interested in him as a person. On the other hand, he does not seem to have an eye/taste for more “mundane” kinds of beauty, just interesting stuff, which to him mostly means food and magic, so.. whatever. Anyway, either because he’s simply disinterested overall or for some self-confidence reason (unless he’s being UN-selfconscious, e.g. when noticing / talking about magic stuff, i.e. his nerd stuff), he seems to simply be unable to fathom anyone could actually be interested in him, which disables him from understanding why someone (other than his family, where he might, to some extent at least, understand the endearment) would e.g. try to touch him. Or try to talk to him about whatever topic comes to their mind, simply for the sake of conversation (and not necessarily out of being only very strange / self-centered people, dumb people, or people constantly (trying to) embarrass/ing him).


      4. stevenneiman

        I’m pretty sure that Masego actually is asexual. His relationship with the rest of the Woe, especially Cat, indicates that he is capable of having a relationship with someone else as a friend, and he’s given no indication that he has body image issues or low self-esteem so much as he just doesn’t care. He may have eventually figured out that people are trying to seduce him either out of genuine interest or in the hopes of manipulating him or people who care for him, but he still blew off Akua’s minions’ attempts to seduce him so blatant that I doubt he could have failed to notice if he cared at all.
        There’s also the fact that he clearly indicated that he could recognize someone who would be considered pretty, but only showed any interest in the concept where it correlated with a certain behavior that inconvenienced him. He later showed that he also understood the concept of sex, but still continued to be impossible to seduce.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. What makes you assume Masego is adopted? I don’t remember anything like that.

        If you’re just guessing he’s adopted that’s fine, you may well end up being right. Eventually. I don’t know where you get off writing as if that’s a confirmed fact.

        I also don’t think you understood Unmaker’s comment correctly, but that’s of secondary importance to this unwarranted assumption.


      6. letouriste

        masego is adopted. i think the topic came up when cat learned masego existence in the tower before leaving for her first battle (at the start of the second arc).
        of course he is adopted, two males can’t have a kid the normal way (at least for now)


  9. Morgenstern

    In Masego’s case, it really seems to be more of an epiphany (to me). Same here as when he turned into Hierophant. He realized something, learned more about the world, something very significant. It’s at the core of what the Name “Apprentice” seems to be all about. As does Hierophant, btw, just on a greater level. He’s mastered the delving into mysteries that he begun very early.

    But I very much second the idea of a guide to the mechanics of the world of the Guide – at least AFTER the stories are somewhen done and over (which they sadly will be *some*when). 😉 It would be awful, at least in some ways, to forever be left with guesswork and that nagging feeling that you STILL didn’t quite get it.


    1. letouriste

      EE could do a second story in the same universe;)

      – other places and cultures
      -a prequel or sequel story in callow-praes
      -a short story from the gods pov

      this is a world built extrensively enough for that.

      well, i doubt EE would that though,he is probably sick at this point of that world^^ but he could go back to that in some years


      1. letouriste

        urgh, sorry for the mistakes:/ i wrote that too quickly.

        well, i doubt EE would do that though,he is probably sick of that world at this point^^ but he could go back to that in some years. *


  10. Gerionar

    Until now I’ve wondered why Captain ran with the villains. Now I know she is unredeemably evil to the core. Poor Masego.

    Did nobody notice that he hasn’t got his glasses, yet? He constantly has to squint to have a chance to recognize faces. No wonder he was so bad with people.


  11. stevenneiman

    Masego reminds me a bit of myself only way more so.

    And, in honor of the guy who loves to correct people, a few typos:
    “but [worse of all->even worse/worst of all] it was filled with people”
    “Which, rude” I’m not exactly sure what this was supposed to say, but it isn’t a complete sentence and I feel like Masego would think with impeccable grammar


  12. stevenneiman

    I wonder if lord Baneg was that guy who it mentioned Black feeding to spiders after he tried to interfere with the running of the Legion academy.


  13. NerfGlastigUaine

    How old is Masego here? He seems pretty young but Malicia said he got his Name shortly before the start of Book 2. Any thoughts? EE, care to answer?


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