Chapter 57: Revolve

“Men make swords, Heavens the sheath.”
– Callowan saying

The moon was out in full, and though part of me still grew irritated at the sight of the pale orb I’d learned to ignore it. I’d wondered once or twice at why the Winter King had granted me the title of Duchess of Moonless Nights, when his court had such a close association with the same celestial sphere. I still remembered the dream that had followed the usurpation, doubted I would ever forget even a single detail of it, and in it it’d been Summer that wanted to break the moon. Was that the intent from the beginning? To have it in my very mantle that I would seek to destroy you? Now and then I had to wonder who had really played who, when I’d tangled with the Deadwood Crown. If my every desperate gambit had been foreseen by the immortal thing that now ruled the whole of Arcadia, turned to his purposes. I could have lingered on that line of thought, and wanted to, but the feel of Kilian’s arm under mine was a reminder of why I’d begun this walk. I would not suffer cowardice from myself, not even in this.

Southern Callow took well to autumn, even at night. Though the shades of orange and gold some godly brush had painted across fields and trees could not be glimpsed after dark, there was an undercurrent of serenity to the country. Of peace, more than anywhere else in my homeland, for these parts had seen less of war than any of the rest. The last two years had been eager in attempting to make up that disparity, though even the worst of Summer was no match for centuries of Praesi invasion. I caught myself sidestepping the heart of this again, and clenched my fingers. The two of us moved in silence, away from the bonfire and closer to a small pond bordering wheat fields. The muddy banks were covered with footsteps from the soldiers who’d come here to fill canteens and barrels, but at this time of the night we were entirely alone. Except for the frogs, I thought, sharp ears catching echo of their song. We found a pair of carved stones by the shore, polished by what must have been decades of wind and rain, and sat there without a word.

The wind brushed the reeds ahead of us, and as I watched them I realized I had no idea what to say. A glance at Kilian told me her face was hesitant as well, though the reasons for it were her own. Some part of me thought there should be a physical weight to this, given how serious it all felt, but I found none on my shoulders. Something like a quiet laugh escaped my lips. Look at us, grim-faced as if the fate of the world rests in the balance of this conversation. Like this isn’t two girls of not even twenty summers settling a dispute of absolutely no import to Creation.

“Would you care to share the jest?” Kilian asked.

For a heartbeat I’d expected her to take my laugh as mockery, but that had been doing her disservice. She was not offended, merely curious. She’d never been the prickly one between us.

“I was considering matters of perspective,” I said.

I finally gave in to the urge I’d avoided all night and looked at her properly. She’d trimmed her hair. Last time we’d spoken it had been at the edge of what regulations allowed, but now it was in a clean pixie cut like when we’d first met. She was still, I thought, heartbreakingly lovely. Porcelain and flame framed hazelnut eyes, and the body I knew so intimately radiated a warmth I knew was completely imagined. Winter had seen to that. The mantle had done a great deal more, though. I’d been months since I needed to look at her to know she was there, ever aware of the measure of fae blood she carried in her veins, but as my power had grown so had that awareness. I was a Duchess, and she unsworn to any of the lords of the fae. There was a whisper in the back of my mind that spoke of mastery, of needing only to reach out and will it for her to kneel at my feet. The disgust that welled up in me at that spoiled what enjoyment I’d had of the peace and quiet.

“Great things,” Kilian said, “are made up of myriad smaller ones. I do not think import and magnitude necessarily walk hand in hand.”

A few sentences traded, and what I saw was our relationship made plain. I stepped away from it, making mixture of retreat and reason, while she stepped forward to bridge the gap at the cost of making herself the vulnerable one. There was, perhaps, expectation I would follow suit. But never demand. Time and distance had allowed me to see the boundaries we’d set more clearly, and the shred of shame I felt over them was well-deserved. There had never been anything equal about this, in what was given or received. The question that had hung in the air for the last few months was whether or not something that had never been balanced could be made so. Speaking with Hakram had broadened my outlook, but little else. I bared the blade first because in the end that was my nature, wasn’t it?

“Were you happy?” I asked. “Before.”

The redhead smiled, somewhat ruefully.

“You have a trick to tell when people lie, don’t you?” she said. “That does seem a mite unfair, going into this conversation.”

I looked away, gazing at the pond and the small ripple I could see a fish making as it swam.

“Of all the things that are unfair in this,” I said, “I would consider that a lesser measure.”

She sighed.

“The point of this,” she said, “was never for you to take lash to your back like an Ashuran supplicant. What has blame ever done to mend the world?”

“Ignoring fault is how tyrants are made,” I said.

“You are hardly that, Catherine,” she said, and without looking I felt her hand rise.

It hesitated, then went down again. I was uncertain whether or not to be glad.

“I was,” Kilian finally said. “Sometimes. Others not. We had our conversation because I feared one side would grow at the expense of the other.”

It had been kind of her to phrase it so delicately but the meaning was clear enough. Whatever had been good about it, for her, had been giving way to the bad. And I’d hardly noticed, my mind on a hundred other matters. The thing was, I did not have it in me to apologize for that. I wasn’t even sure she wanted me to. At the end of the day, my life didn’t come first. Neither did the people I shared it with. The lines I was willing to cross to ensure both of those were preserved had only grown in number, but that part of the matter remained unchanged. Because there’s a difference between important and important to me.

“You did most the talking, last time,” I said. “So I’ll get the wheel moving tonight.”

I itched to pick up a stone and toss it into the pond, anything to break the damned stillness that smothered the air around us, but I’d done quite enough running for the night.

“It was hypocritical of me to hold you up to standards that I break myself,” I admitted. “Standards I don’t even hold up everyone close to me to.”

Kilian brushed back her bangs, face wearing an expression I could not quite read.

“You thought well of me,” she said. “And so you thought I kept to the same principles as you. That’s not a crime, Catherine. It was just…”

“Presumptuous?” I suggested, a mirthless smile stretching my lips. “I placed expectations on you, then grew angry when you didn’t meet them. That’s on my head and no one else’s.”

Ferreting out exactly why I’d had those in the first place had been more delicate, the kind of introspection I was always reluctant to delve in. It hadn’t been that I cared for her, or at least not just that, because I cared for other people too. If Masego had spoken of a ritual fuelled by human sacrifice, would I have been angry? Yes, absolutely. But it would not have felt like a betrayal, the way it had with Kilian.

“I used you,” I said, tongue stumbling on the ugly word, “as a refuge. From all the dark shit that goes on in my life. And that meant I wanted you to keep your hands clean regardless of what you actually want. Or need.”

I felt her eyes lingering on me but did not meet them.

“I hadn’t thought you would actually admit that,” she said.

The faint surprise in her voice was probably the deepest cut she could have made, because she hadn’t meant it to be one at all.

“You once told me one of my virtues is recognizing when I’m wrong,” I said. “It’s fallen a bit to the wayside, lately, but it’s not gone.”

I’d made a lot mistakes, in the last two years. Won great victories too, but one did not excuse the other. I’d make more, because I had talents but also flaws and no matter what Warlock said in the end I was only human. But at least I could stop making them out of wilful ignorance. It wasn’t as much as I wished it could be. But it was what I could do. Power alone was never enough.

“I was not blameless, if we have to speak of it that way,” she said. “We did not have a conversation, last time. I’d made the decision before we ever spoke, and that was unfair to you.”

I nodded slowly. Silence followed, until I pushed forward.

“So what do you want, Kilian?” I asked quietly.

A lot could have been avoided, I thought, by asking that question a few years ago.

“Catherine, look at me,” she hissed.

Her emotions were roiling. I could feel that with my sense that wasn’t quite a sense. But it was in her voice I read the anger, and it surprised me enough I obeyed. She was, I realized, genuinely furious.

“Don’t do you fucking do this,” she said.

Irritation flared up.

“Do what?” I bit out, exasperated. “Amends? Gods, Kilian, I’m trying. What more do you want?”

Her cheeks were flushed red, and for a moment I felt like kissing her. It passed.

“You’re not trying,” she said. “You’re treating me like someone you have to bind to you. I’m not Hakram, Cat. Or Aisha. I know you. And this is what you do when you bring someone into the fold. You’re acting like I’m the enemy, not the girl who shared your godsdamned bed for two years.”

“I know a lot less about that girl than I thought I did,” I flatly replied. “I’m-“

I bit down on my tongue, took a deep breath.

“No,” Kilian said, eyes hard. “We’re not doing it like this. Like I’m a horse you have to soothe or a hound you have to feed. I’m not interested in the Squire, Cat. She has no place in this conversation.”

“I don’t know what you want from me, Kilian” I hissed. “I just tried asking and you bit my fucking head off.”

She met my gaze, the demand that I not look away laying bare.

“Do you really need that badly to be in control, even for this?” she asked. “Gods Below, Cat, there’s no one else here. Would it cost you that much to allow yourself to be a person for an hour?”

“Yes,” I said, and I was surprised by the fury in my own voice. “Because people break. People have limits. I can’t have that anymore, Kilian, not when I’m making pacts with the Empress and planning wars with Black. Legends don’t blink, and if I’m anything less than that we are fucked. Because they’re stronger and they have decades on me and Weeping Heavens, this entire Empire is a house of cards and everybody’s tugging at it. I am in over my head, I always was, and it is this close to catching up with me and everyone I’ve dragged into this.”

The only sound in the silence that followed was my panting breath, paired with the unpleasant realization I’d begun to speak furious and ended up pleading. I passed a hand through my hair, exhausted in a way my body no longer allowed me to be.

“I can’t do this, Kilian,” I whispered. “There are no good choices anymore, just a spread with different shades of horror that I’m forced to pick from. Every time I think it’s coming together another thing drops and I have to become a little worse to deal with it. By the time I finish what I set out to do, I’ll be more poisonous than what I wanted to break. And I can’t back out because the alternative is every single one of you dead. And you know what’s the part that actually grieves me? I did this. I got us here in this mess, and I would do it again. Because this is bigger than me or you or the others, and if that’s not ritual sacrifice by another name then I don’t know what is.”

All hail the Black Queen, I thought bitterly. I’d already put thousands to the sword to get here, what were a few thousand more for the pile? Blood was the grease in the wheels of Creation, and whose it was they cared not. Kilian reached over and slid her fingers through mine. I let her, though I knew I’d regret it.

“You are not alone,” she said.

Of course I was. Because at the end of the day I have the power, I have the authority, and no amount of love can fit two people on a single throne. I parted our hands and rose to my feet, brushing off my knees.

“Your ritual,” I said.

“Tonight doesn’t have to be about that,” Kilian said.

“It already is,” I replied steadily. “I have no grounds, as either the Squire or the Vicequeen of Callow, to tell you not to do it.”

The redhead frowned.

“And yet you still find the very notion repulsive,” she said.

“This isn’t about me,” I said. “That was the mistake from the start, thinking that it was. I will, one day, grind that practice into nonexistence. Because it offends me, because it is a blight on Creation and the way of thinking it spawns is my enemy. But until then, it is against no law or regulation. Do what you deem best.”

Her face went blank.

“That sounds,” she said, “like goodbye.”

“I love you,” I said. “I’ve never said it before, not like this, but I do. It didn’t really sink in until I saw the amount of principles I was willing to break to keep you.”

A shiver went through her frame.

“Is that supposed to make this better?” she said, voice raw.

“It was due, regardless,” I said. “You were always the one that reached out. But this was about being equals, wasn’t it? I don’t think that means power, or titles, or authority. It’s about neither of us being expected to bend our knees to the other’s beliefs.”

My hand rose, going for her cheek, but she shook her head.

“Don’t,” Kilian said. “Not if you’re going to excise me out of your life. It would be crueller than just walking away.”

“I’ll still care for you,” I said quietly. “That’s not going away. We are friends.”

The redhead smiled bitterly.

“You bloody fool,” she said. “Do you really think friends is what I want from you? Getting just a part of someone after having had all of them can’t be counted anything but a loss.”

I almost took it back, right there and then. I could still do it, I thought. Salvage something out of this mess. But I didn’t. I felt like weeping for what I was giving up on, but it’d been a long time since I’d been in tears and I wasn’t sure I still could. My mantle and my Name woke, intertwined beyond separation, and I could have shunted all this… tangle off into them. Let the cold clear it all away. But I was not yet so far gone, and so my hand came down instead. I did not say goodbye. It was too cheap and end for this. Instead I bowed my head, and left. Grace had never been my strength, and there’d been precious little of that on display tonight. I found my feet taking me back to camp instead of the bonfire, where I knew Hakram would be. I had no taste for the conversation that awaited there, would not for a long time. Instead I found a tent, still lit with magelight even at this hour, and let the wards wash over me as I entered. Black was seated on one of his rickety stools, his thin shirt for only armour as he poured over papers arrayed before him. He took one look at me, then let out a breath that was almost a sigh.

He leant back to claim a cup from his bedside and filled it with the wine at his table, pressing it into my hands. I could have sat across from him, but instead I went on his bed. I folded my knees against my chest and cradled the cup. I barely remembered what it had felt like, to be a child, but it must have been something like this. He did not speak, but neither did his eyes return to the papers.

“I met Ranger,” I heard myself say. “She almost killed me, in Arcadia.”

“So I’ve heard,” Black said. “She is… difficult at the best of times.”

It was not an apology, nor had I expected one. The Black Knight did not apologize for himself, much less others.

“But you love her,” I said.

He inclined his head in agreement.

“I have, on occasion, thought of it as a singular obsession,” he said. “But perhaps that is merely as close to love as I can manage, given what I am. It is enough for the both of us.”

“Why?” I asked. “Why do you love her?”

He smiled faintly.

“I have wondered the same for many years,” he said. “I have loved – still love – others, but never quite in that manner. In the end, I think it is because she does not need me.”

I drank from the cup, a bitter Wasteland red that lingered on the tongue. I was glad of it, in no mood for sweetness.

“Does it get easier?” I asked. “Carving away pieces?”

Pale green eyes met mine.

“Yes,” he said.

It was a lie. We both knew that. But I loved him a little, for saying it anyway.

The last part I remembered of that night was my father’s hands putting a blanket over me.

70 thoughts on “Chapter 57: Revolve

    1. sheer_falacy

      Everyone thinks he’s doomed, including himself. But a key part of this story is figuring out how to defeat the tropes – how to twist them, how to bring a different and contradictory trope into play, how to forge your own story without violating the overall story “rules”. Black isn’t even going to try to do that here – he’s content with a couple more years. I wonder if Cat will figure out how to beat it.

      Liked by 11 people

      1. Daniel

        He’s done cause the story requires it. The story that we are reading requires the mentor to die so the student can progress like obi-one Kenobi

        It’s a step in the heroe’s journey

        Liked by 4 people

      2. stevenneiman

        I think he really is doomed. What he’s about has never been breaking the stories, just twisting them in a way that allows him to get what he wants. The only story that doesn’t end in a mentor figure like Black dying would be one in which he betrays Cat, or in which Cat betrays the cause to save him, neither of which would accomplish the things he’s worked so hard and sacrificed so much for already. As a result, he’s decided that in the long term he doesn’t need to survive to get what he wants.
        Besides, one thing that’s always been a heroic ideal is that there comes a time for the old to exit the stage to make way for the young. It would be a fitting end for someone like him to steal death from the forces of Good and leave behind the agent of their ruin.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Jeffery Wells

        The other key part of this story is that a Story always wins, in the end. That’s how Cat usually wins now, by making a better story, and it’s how Bard beat Black – she knew stories he didn’t and manipulated them to damage him.


  1. Aeon

    Beautiful chapter, just like basically everything here. That talk went about how I was expecting it, but I’m still hoping for a happy end for the relationship. I like Killian… Thanks for the awesome update.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Big Brother

      A stab wound from a scalpel to remove the shrapnel in your chest, maybe. This was one of the last steps Cat had to take before she’s truly ready to move on to her next Name, in my opinion. Without her relationship with Killian holding her back, all that’s left is Black dying. That’ll do to Cat what Frieza killing Krillen did to Goku.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Big Brother

          Instead of physical energy, she’ll project a massive blizzard infused with necromantic energy that raises the dead without any conscious effort on her part. And her hair will go bone white from the Necrotic Winter flowing from her.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. therealgridlock

        I’m thinking perfect cell vs gohan, and black is the android.

        “I’d say he was in a better place, but we all know he never had a soul”

        *Unmei no hi begins*

        “….wait why am I hearing boss music?”

        ***Unmei no hi intensifies***


  2. Gunslinger

    Man, Cat’s character development in this was fantastic, one that’s been foreshadowed quite brilliantly across this book. I wish Cat wasn’t so dramatic though, she could still be with Killian even if their dynamic changed.


      1. unoriginal

        Uhhhh. Not really at all.

        We’ve already had proof that the trope even evil has loved ones is in play here. Namely Akua and her Father and the quote from one of the Good Kings in another chapter. The most obvious example of the trope, however, is Black. Namely from his POV and even from the view of those around him we see that he does intensely care for his adopted pseudo-family.

        Black as much as he denies feeling anything feels quite a bit. Hells, even wandering bard points this out to the Tyrant of Helinke.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. letouriste

    ooooh snap.
    the introspection on your characters is amazing:o how do you do this? how old are you? i can’t go as deep no matter how i try…and you manage to post several times a week too. battle plan,extensive universe,sub plots everywhere,multiple characters and most have a lot of layers…layers really evolving with time:o
    seriously if you don’t manage to get your work published i will scream.i read a lot of books of all kinds and most are not as interesting,even amongst big names.i’m serious

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nairne .01

      I really agree with your opinion. The degree of expression in EE’s novel is on a whole another level. I sometimes wonder whether EE has multiple personalities writing this so he can switch between characters.


  4. Keyen

    Hum, just though of something. You guys remember Cat lost her Name for a moment during Book 2 because the gobelin usurped the Name, right? Remember where it happened? In … Liesse, “the place where you can bind or usurp a Name”.

    What if Black and/or Cat have no intention of the Black Knight dying, but instead Cat simply takes his Name from him? I’m pretty sure they can manage to do it without killing him (they can use Hierophant and/or Warlock to do it), and this way, he can avoid his doom, while staying alive so he can keep teaching Cat and still serve the Empire. Warlock is happy because Amadeus doesn’t die, Amadeus is not the #1 target anymore and has no “FATE reason” to die anymore, and so on.

    The only problem is to convince him, and I’m pretty sure they can manage if she talk to him about retirement after Sabah death.


    1. Mindsword

      Take that path and he dies. Creation has no room for ties when it comes to Names. Look back at the chapter where he buried his family and see that Cat would have to bury him before the year is out if he took that path.

      There is a chance down that path though. Acquire a different Name for him and then do the swap. Perhaps the Warlord will survive where the Black Knight would have died… yet I feel his death is a part of this story now.


      1. Keyen

        The problem is how Black’s death is anticipated by everyone, characters and readers. I can’t believe the only question is the how when the “are we sure it will be the case?” is still hanging.
        If something like I described happens, it will be obviously going with Black faking his death (Since Cat will be the new Black Knight and nobody will be able to believe she got the position with Black still alive).

        Concerning what he could be doing during his retirement -> Going to Refuge once he is done with teaching Cat.


        1. Note that all of that is derived from his own calculations, in fact it’s inferred from a single fact: He didn’t get a Pattern of Three with White Knight. From that narrow point he’s leaped directly to “I’m gonna die, better finish everything up real quick.”. And he thinks he’s realized his own arrogance, but he really has no idea…. yet.


    2. Draeysine

      Yeah sorry but I don’t see Black taking well to retirement. What would he do all day? Drink and talk to Cat. He’d be a liability without his name to give him power and would still be a target considering how much Cat doesn’t want him to die. Perfect hostage material, and something he would rather avoid being a possibility. Just by existing he poses a threat to everybody regardless of name because of the information he holds and the people who would trade to save his life.


    3. edrey

      no, i think the story of black and cat will be after the purge in praes, i was thinking of cat repeating the resurretion trick, there is a serafin for sacrifice, the trick of the inmortals and lots of undeads, it should be possible, the problem is the calamities who are crazy


    4. If he was Good, then the mentor surrendering his mantle of power to pass on the torch would be valid, and there’d be no real narrative reason to kill him. He isn’t, there’s no rest for the wicked and giving up his power doesn’t get rid of his enemies, just his ability to fend them off. That aside, everything we know about him says that he’d never give up the agency his name gives him even if it extended his lifespan, because it wouldn’t be an even trade. He doesn’t care about his lifespan but for the things he can achieve during it.

      As for him acquiring a new name, Warlord is out. I’m led to believe it is an orc exclusive Name. It’d probably break something irreparably between him and Alaya to have Maddie take on the role of Chancellor and the same can be said of Dread Emperor for obvious reasons.


    5. Metrux

      A part not sayd by the others yet, can he even survive without his Name? Villains are effectively imortal, and he has being a Villains for a VERY long time… What would happen if he suddenly isn’t Named anymore? Would he age in few moments what was stopped for decades? Would he start aging from them on? Would his body still function without the Name keeping it all together? Of course, we can be sure that he wouldn’t like it, and probably would drive him a little crazy not having the machine anymore, but even his body may sufer from it.


      1. letouriste

        he would probably go completely insane.
        asylum insane.
        at this point most of his personality is tied to his name too deeply for his mind to survive an extraction in my opinion.
        in the first place removing a Name kill the host.we know that since the battle of liesse n°1.
        also,old age is ok so long you still have familly/friends/someone/a goal,here his only purpose without Name would be to observe.even his advices would not have much impact anymore because he would be out of the loop


  5. Thenre

    I’ve had relationships end pretty much this exact way (with less superpowers). Gods Below that stings. On the plus side pain is just fuel for making the world bend and break.


  6. alegio

    “my father’s hands putting a blanket over me.” Damn that just hit me in a place I didnt even know, and makes me feel even more bad about all the “Black is gonna die” vibes.


  7. nigeltheoutlaw

    I have to say, this is consistently one of the best Web novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. On par with worm even. Keep it up.


    1. letouriste

      i never understood why worm is considered the best^^
      even just looking to topwebfiction contestants,mother of learning is better.
      that’s not the same kind of story though and the writting style is pratically opposed,so i guess this is debatable.


  8. Cat’s already made the choice that SHE’S fucked, instead of the people around her. If your thought processes are so far gone down the paths of control that thoughts like “No amount of love in the world can make two people fit on one throne” are coming to you when you’re barely out of your twenties…Cat is absolutely, 100% right. By the time she accomplishes what she’s set out to accomplish, she’ll be more evil and toxic than anything presently in Creation.

    The powerful have been making unequal power-dynamic relationships work for THOUSANDS of years. Madame Pompadour as the Uncrowned Queen of France. Nothing but the King’s mistress..whom he loved.

    Elizabeth I and Raleigh (admittedly quite a bit bumpier, but the relationship had stamina).

    Hell, even Genghis Khan had a favored wife, who by the laws of his people wasn’t as valuable as a prize mare once her womb punched out some sons for him.

    Cat wasn’t even able to take in the fact that Killian absolutely, 110% does-not-give-a-shit about the power imbalance between them.

    I have GRAVE fears for Cat, so long as she continues grasping this “I need to be the Legend 24/7” mindset. Even Malicia takes time off just to be Alaya with Amadeus.

    Name powers or not…nothing that began as a human being can sustain that sort of drive each and every moment of each and every day. Most days, sure…but there has to be time (Admittedly in the heart of your power, where you can trust to your defenses to guard you while you let your hair down) to just take deep breaths and be a human being.

    Otherwise the Name becomes a Noose. Slowly strangling everything out of you, until you don’t even care whether you win or lose anymore.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sniggs44

      I agree with the general thrust of this post. Cat’s behavior in this chapter seemed wrong headed. She kind of arbitrarily went from “self sacrificing” to “self flagellating”.

      Taking steps towards turning herself into an emotionless robot a la Black is just one (bad) possibility when it comes to becoming someone who can accomplish her goals. Another possibility is to be, you know, a well-adjusted human being whose values align with said goals. And if this turns out to be impossible, maybe take it as a warning that your goals are the things that need adjusting.

      Yeah we can theorize about how the whole magical aspect plays into things, but without any solid proof one way or another it seems like her maintaining a balanced, healthy psyche would be the best way to go. Since that’s generally the best way to go in pretty much any other endeavor, tbh.

      That’s why the “hard (wo)men making hard decisions” trope is such nonsense, because those two things aren’t necessarily linked at all. She doesn’t need to become a sociopath in order to be capable of making difficult decisions. You can totally cultivate a mental state that allows for, for example, being a general that regularly sends troops to their deaths while still being a morally/mentally good person. Just take the time to ensure you’re doing the right thing and then align your values accordingly. It may be tough, but correcting your way of thinking usually is.

      If she has niggling doubts about what she’s doing, she needs to confront those thoughts and brainstorm on them, not paper them over with half measures and nonthinking. Her ditching Killian strikes me as a step in the complete wrong directjon: she’s become so used to feeling like crap about what she’s doing that she’s come to believe that it’s the correct mind state someone in her position should maintain. She’s trained herself to pursue being unhappy/lonely, because she falsely equates it with being effective.

      Her entire outlook is skewed and frankly quite toxic, but I guess that’s to be expected with this universe’s dubious parental figures and lack of therapists. Still, she should really work on adjusting her outlook/though processes before resorting to this “peel away the weaknesses rahrrr” penitence stuff. (And also maybe ask for advice, since she’s barely out of her teenage years. There have to have to be some leaders out there who have learned to manage their work/life balance.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Keyen

        It’s obvious she is heading to a breaking point sooner or later. But I think it’s perfectly anticipated by EE.

        The said breaking point will be a renewal, either to a more neutral Role, or at least, she will manage to let go.

        Somehow, I think Cat is very similar to Rand (from WoT). He think he has to be hard, unbreakable, unbendable, and it nearly destroy him in the end. Funny thing, it got solved by nearly killing his father (if you get what I mean :D)


      2. Metrux

        I actually think this just wouldn’t work, not while she is a Villain. She employs morals and ways fo heroes, yes, but in the end her center is that of a Villain, ust what Black saw right there at the beggining: Heroes change for a better world, Villains change the world for a better view. She won’t change her objectives, no matter how far she has to go, because that is what binds her to her mantle of Villain. If/when she transitions to a more Neutral Name, then she can do this, and I really think she will, unless this is, in the end, a tragedy =X


    2. I don’t think real life examples are applicable in this case – especially if you just list the names like that. It’s one thing to have a confidant and a lover when you’re at the height of your power and another altogether when you’re a small fish in a very big pond.

      Cat’s main concern is as follows: she’s much weaker than all of her enemies (the nobility, Malicia, Akua – the establishment basically) so she can’t afford to have any extra weaknesses, which is what Kilian would amount to. I agree that overall the view is self destructive but it’s also right –
      Kilian is exactly the sort of leverage Malicia would use. Cat needs to be more than she is if she wants to change the world, at least temporarily.

      You don’t climb the Tower by smelling daisies – you do it by becoming the scariest monster there is.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have no idea how but i bet Cat will find some middle ground to save him, like sure his role will be over but instead of dying he will retire or something and get a “happy” ending along with Ranger.

    PD: I say happy because i really doubt it will be a normal happy with these 2 crazy bastards xD


  10. Gerion

    Help! This socially blind person here needs someone to lead him through this chapter step by step. I feel there are so many things going on between the lines I simply don’t get. For example why Kilian suddenly gets angry or weather or not Cat had planned to clutter their ties from the beginning.


      1. oldschoolvillain

        Killian and Cat love each other, but they’ve been fighting. So, when this talk comes along, a nice Moonlit stroll through the woods, I think Killian was expecting to make up. Instead, Cat treated her just like another member of the gang who just needed to be understood and brought into the fold, rather than a lover. So that didn’t help.
        And yes, Cat did plan to cut the tie from the beginning, because they’re perhaps a year away from the biggest war that this generation will ever see. In that war, Cat and the Woe will be drawing a LOT of fire from heroes, and Cat doesn’t want Killian to be caught up in those kinds of fights. If they make it through the war with Proper, she might try to reevaluate the relationship and see if it can be rekindled.
        Overall, there wasn’t enough communication between them to avoid something like this, where they both got angry. If either of them had been more considerate with their words, this might have been avoided, but honestly this needed to happen. Killian being too considerate and Cat not being considerate enough is what led to this, so Killian had nothing more to give and Catherine has forgotten how to give back. It’s a salvageable relationship, I think, once Killian is a full-blooded Fae, but not until they’re both powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Warlock and the Heroes that Procer will bring down on them.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. What the hell does “godly brush” mean? Is that a typo? UNgodly brush would have worked fine, in an odd yet intriguing sort of way. But the phrase “godly brush” does not parse in the English language. I’m really hesitant to call it a typo though; because of the story’s subject matter, that could well be important symbolism. I mean, a character is named HEIROPHANT. There’s no way that phrase isn’t significant, maybe extremely so.



    1. Roland

      Godly, an adjective which can mean coming from God; divine.

      Godly Brush, meaning a divine brush. As in a painting instrument used by a god. This is poetic language.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right, I understand that it’s an adjective, I even understand the connection to the root word that it’s a form of. I can see that you didn’t know what to make of it either, so you threw “it’s poetic!” out there as a last-godly-ditch defense. Hell, maybe it really is poetic, who can say? But being “poetic” doesn’t help clarify anything. It’s more excuse than explanation really.

        If you’re wondering, yes, the godly ditch is filled with a beatific boscage and a row of heavenly hedges. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  12. nasiba

    Wow, I am really at odds with a lot of the comments here. Although it was sad and Killian had very good points I completely understand where Cat is coming from and I think everyone is forgetting a lot. The girl has gone from one war to the next almost without break, against impossible enemies and situations, dealing with the deaths of thousands while constantly having her very soul changed over and over. Learning by the worst trials by fire and oh, btw, the fate of the Empire and the entire reason she is doing all this, for Callow, now pretty much determined by *her* actions. Also facing the War of the Millenium in a few months. And the death of her father figure. But she is supposed to have time so somehow deal with her first real adult relationship and all the delicacy entails at the same time? People with boring nine to five jobs often can’t pull that one off. And they don’t have to think that their actions might get their beloved killed on top of everything else. Get off her back, she is dealing with this the best she can.


    1. Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

      Honestly, I agree with you. I really wanted Cat and Killian to work it out. But I don’t really fault either of them for it not working out. It just makes me QQ.

      Another thing people seem to be forgetting… Cat is now a member of the Winter Court… Killian is an obvious decedent of a Summer fae.Remember how Cat instantly, irrationally hated the realm of Summer the moment she laid eyes on it? They are doomed to be at odds with each other by their very natures.

      It makes me cry… but that changes nothing.


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