Chapter 60: Opening

“Victory is transient. To seek it is to remain so. I have seen the face of that which is eternal, and it stands beyond struggle.”
– Translation of the Kabbalis Book of Darkness, widely attributed to the young Dead King

Flight was markedly less exhilarating when people kept trying to kill me during, I decided as I guided Zombie the Third into a sharp dive to avoid a bolt of black lightning. Half a league up in the sky, the wind howling around me, I watched disaster unfold on the field below. The order of battle agreed upon had been fairly simple: the first wave would be the Legions. The Fifth, the Sixth and Twelfth would strike the initial blow, as the Fourth and the Ninth moved to the sides of Liesse bolstered by Callowan levies. The Deoraithe bowmen would move behind the centre, followed by the men-at-arms, and the Fifteenth would remain as a reserve. I was to soften up the enemy fortifications with Archer’s help and a wildfire trick, and until the aftermath of the green rain everything had been going to plan.  Then Akua had opened a fucking Hellgate and Liesse had just… disappeared. Gone into thin air.

She’d chosen the place for the gate perfectly, I had to admit. Behind the Fourth’s advance, though the gated was oriented towards the Deoraithe second line. There were only a few devils coming out of the woodworks right now, but if that trickle turned into a flood our armies were going to break. The Fourth would be cut off and overwhelmed, the back of our centre up to its neck in hellspawn from behind and fortified casters from the front. The entire host would be splintered, and of the only two forces still in play – the Fifteenth under Juniper and Ninth with half the levies – the Ninth was positioned on the opposite side of the field where it needed to be. With out entire centre in the way. In the span of a single heartbeat, Akua had fucked both our left flank and centre while making our right wing useless. I would have admired that a little, if I wasn’t too busy being furious. Zombie responded to my spurs as a living beast would, though I could still command its undead flesh regardless of its own will, and we arced down gracefully.

The staff officers of the Fifteenth parted for me in haste and I reined in the winged horse before someone could get trampled. Juniper, leaning over a table, ignored my entrance. Her brows were creased in thought. I cleared my throat.

“I heard you coming, Foundling,” she said. “Now shut up. I’m thinking.”

Yeah, that was about par for the course. I sighed and dismounted, Hakram appearing just in in time to be handed the reins. Hierophant and Archer were still out of sight, but I could feel them approaching. No, feel was perhaps the wrong term. It was an instinct, like the the one that warned me of danger, whispering that they were coming close. Whatever we’d done in Dormer, when all of us save Thief had fought as one, it had left a mark. The implications of that worried me.

“The Carrion Lord’s advance has not slowed,” Adjutant said.

“I saw,” I grunted back.

There was danger in that, though I knew better than to assume Black wasn’t aware of it. With the legionaries he had under the mantle of his Name advancing so much more swiftly, what had once been a wave was turning into a sloppy wedge. If he got too far ahead… He wouldn’t, I told myself. Black had been winning battles before I was even a look in my mother’s eyes.

“Senior Mage, report,” Juniper growled.

I almost jumped. I hadn’t noticed Kilian was there at all. Red hair free, she’d had her eyes closed and a loose chord of interlocked runes clutched between her fingers. After a moment she flinched in pain and opened her eyes.

“The Hellgate is beyond my ability to understand,” she announced. “As for Liesse, I have some notion. The city is not gone, merely phased a step out of Creation. There is still a point of access to it.”

The Hellhound made room at the table, hairless brow raised.

“Here,” Kilian said, pointing down at the map.

I leaned over to see and winced. That was behind the palisade and trench, in open space overlooked by all three bastions and currently filled with wights. This one was on us, I thought. We’d all been so convinced the field fortifications were a battle measure none of us had taken the time to inspect them for anything like this. Not when we’d barely scratched the surface of understanding the kind of wards covering the walls. Juniper did not reply, brow creasing deeper. Archer and Hierophant passed the ring of legionaries exactly when I knew they would, the brown-skinned woman the only one smiling of the two.

“Masego,” I called out. “I need an opinion.”

“My preliminary analysis is over,” he replied. “This is a Greater Breach, Catherine.”

Kilian sucked in a sharp breath, but everyone else seemed as confused as I was. I assumed bad. Very bad, even. Usually the best bet to make when it came to Diabolist.

“A stable Hellgate,” Hierophant added when he noticed the lack of understanding.

He sounded a touch irritated. I sucked my lip. If this had just been a play to pull out reinforcements like Akua had done at Liesse, the gate would have eventually closed on its own even if we didn’t manage to shut it first. A major danger, but something that could be handled. This was different. There was a hole in the fabric of Creation in the middle of Callow and on the other side was a literally endless horde that wanted to devour everything in existence. At least I assumed. I didn’t know much about the lay of the Realms Below or the beings that dwelled inside, but I doubted Diabolist had reached for Hell that was all about weaving straw baskets.

“Withdrawal is not feasible,” Juniper said, calm tone cutting through the silence that had followed Masego’s words. “The god bound above the Palace is not gone, and regardless time plays in her her favour more than ours.”

“Hierophant, can you close this?” I asked.

He snorted, then realized I’d been serious.

“Catherine, a Greater Breach cannot be closed by definition. It is a permanent bridge between layers of existence,” he said.

I grimaced.

“Can you just pop a cork in the hole, then?” I pressed.

“Theoretically,” he agreed. “It would be temporary, however. And require power superior to that employed in the original breaching.”

“He means no,” Archer cheerfully said.

I kind of wanted to hit her in the face for that.

“If we shut down her ritual, does the gate close?” I pressed.

“You do not seem to grasp the principles involved,” Hierophant said flatly. “The ritual is done. The gate is there. The Breach was made. There is no unmaking this.”

I turned my eyes to Kilian, who raised up her palms in surrender.

“Diabolism is not a field of study covered in the College,” she said. “I know nothing of this.”

“Juniper?” I tried, grasping as straws.

The orc’s hands left the table and she folded them behind her back.

“If we do not contain the Hellgate within a half-hour, the battle is lost,” she said. “And so will be all of Callow west of Summerholm and south of Daoine, within amonth.”

The weight of that announcement rang like a bell. How many people was that? Most major cities fell within those borders. Vale, Southpool, Laure, Denier and even Ankou. I couldn’t quite remember the exact numbers from the last Imperial census at the moment, but Laure alone was almost half a million souls. I spat to the side.

“Then get your blades out, people,” I said. “We’re going for a walk.”

Whatever answer I might have gotten to that was drowned out by the sound of neighing and crackling flame, followed by the pungent smell of brimstone. The chariot landed with a crash, pulled by two pitch-black winged horses, and in it stood a man decked entirely in scarlet: the Sovereign of Red Skies, dressed in his full glory of war.

“Belay that,” he said, and there was nothing lazy or amused in his voice.

That had me even warier. He was not a man to take the situation seriously unless he had to, in my experience. With a flourish of the wrist the Warlock produced a small flat stone and tossed it at me. I caught it without missing a beat, raising an eyebrow.

“Into your mouth, Squire,” he said. “Welcome to the Link.”

My eyes flicked to Masego, who nodded absent-mindedly.  Safe enough, then. Gingerly I put the stone in my mouth and shuddered in discomfort when I felt it move on its own, fusing with the flesh beneath my lower teeth. A heartbeat later sorcery gently flared and I heard the sound of flesh being run through directly in my ears.

“Catherine,” Black said. “Good.”

“Black,” I murmured. “We’re in deep shit.”

“Perhaps less than it seems,” he replied, and on the other side something screamed and died. “You are to join me on the front along with Adjutant and Archer. The bastions must fall, and quickly.”

“The Hellgate?” I asked.

“Wekesa has a theory,” Black replied.

“That leaves Masego free,” I frowned.

“He’s going to-“

My teacher was interrupted by a sound I’d heard once before. A faint scream, rising higher and higher in pitch. Then another. Then another. Oh Gods. Had she really? Even for Akua this was playing with fire. The ‘Link’ cut out, before I heard Warlock grunt and sound returned as suddenly as it had gone.

“Hurry,” Black ordered. “The Fifteenth is to accompany Wekesa against the Hellgate. Overall command is ceded to Marshal Ranker as of now.”

Silence returned to my ears and I turned to face my officers. Several of them had gone pale, hands shaking.

“Demons,” I said.

“It was a given they would be used here,” Warlock said conversationally. “Not even Sahelians are so mad as to call on the Unmakers within a closed realm. Masego, you are to contain them.”

Hierophant’s glass eyes did not move under the cloth, but I could feel his attention move across the field and find the unfolding catastrophes.

“Madness,” the dark-skinned mage said. “Apathy. And…”

He hesitated.

“Order,” the Warlock finished. “That one seems to be the oldest. It might be Shango’s Doom itself, the contract is still unaccounted for. Begin with Madness nonetheless, before we lose half our men to the spread. They devour grounds unlike any other breed.”

Hierophant nodded, not bothering to reply, and strode ahead without paying attention to any of us. So much for planning together. I forced myself to focus even as in the back of my head threefold song began to be sung. How much worse, I thought, did it have to be close to them? Unless my sight betrayed me, the rebels had brought forth the madness right in front of the centre of their outer palisade.

“General Juniper,” I said. “We have our orders.”

The orc’s eyes flicked to the most powerful mage in the Empire.

“We are meant to escort you,” she deduce. “Am I to take this as meaning the Hellgate may be closed?”

The Warlock smiled.

“Oh, that clever child’s work is not so easily undone,” the man said. “The gate will remain. Destruction, though, is the tool of the uncreative. I have other means.”

That cleared up very little. Was is something that came with the magic, the urge to be a mysterious jackass? The dark-skinned man rolled his shoulder to limber it and cast a wary eye to the looming Hellgate in the distance.

“Well, no time dawdle,” he sighed. “General, I will need your men to establish a solid beachhead on the other side of the gate. Do be quick about it. I’ll limit the spill until you arrive on the scene.”

The reins came down like a lash and the winged horses neighed, the very sound unnatural. Within moments he was tearing through the sky again. My fingers clenched, then unclenched.

“Juniper,” I said, turning to meet my general’s gaze. “Can you do it?”

The was a heartbeat of silence, then the Hellhound chuckled and her lips split into a grin that was nasty little piece of work.

“I am,” she said calmly, “a general of the Legions of Terror, anointed and sworn under sacred standard. If a Hell wages war upon the Empire, then I will invade that Hell.”

Her voice did not rise, or her intonation shift. It was, as she said, as simple statement of fact. There was something in her eyes when she spoke that wasn’t quite a Name – she did not have the weight behind her for that, likely never would – but was just as fearsome in its own way. It was cold, absolute and merciless certainty. The stare of a woman who had killed the enemy a hundred times in her mind already, and knew all that remained was acting out the movements. The tremors left the limbs of her officers, straight-backed pride flowing to fill the gap. Named did not have a monopoly on greatness, I thought. Sometimes all that was needed was the unshakeable will of one who never even considered defeat a possibility.

“Then hear my order, General,” I said, and my mantle stirred at the shape of this. “Even if it is impossible, even if all that rules Above and Below stands arrayed against you – win. I will allow nothing less from you.”

“Warlord,” she said, chops bared and head bowed.

I left it at that, because between the two of us nothing more needed to be said. There might be a day where Juniper failed in the face of ruin, because in the end did we not all fail? No matter how clever or powerful, an ending always came. But, I thought, it would not be today. Not against this. Adjutant stood at my side, loosening the leather ring holding his axe, and I found Archer staring at me with a pleased smile.

“Zeze’s playing with the hellspawn and Fury Green’s got her own battle to win,” Archer drawled. “So what do you have for us, Cat?”

My eyes found the distant silhouettes of the bastions, flickering with sorcery and siege engines.

“String your bow, Archer,” I said. “The three of us are taking down the strongholds with Black.”

Had the day not been so dire, I might have been unsettled by how feral the grin I got in response was. Today, though? I was counting on it.

Zombie the Third got us near the front, but that was all I would ask of it. Three people were too much to have any room to manoeuver, and twice we were nearly torched on our flight forward. We made a slow, fat target for any mage with a little juice to send out. I sent back the undead horse behind the lines and took a deep breath. Shit, steel and blood. The scent of battlefields. I’d landed us close to General Orim’s Fifth Legion, which currently made made up the left side of assault. He trailed behind Black still, even though my teacher had abandoned the centre for the right, but he’d caught up some since I’d last had a look. Black had run into some heavy resistance at the palisade, and had yet to pierce through the enemy centre. That wasn’t the part of this battlefield that worried me.

Hierophant’s lid on the demons unleashed was paper-thin, it was obvious to see. Not only had he been ordered to maintain three sets of wards against demons simultaneously, but he was facing constant pressure by the mages in the bastions trying to undo his work. It was worthy of a little awe, I thought, how he was still managing to keep his head slightly above the water for all that. I could not even see the demons, save for the occasional heartbeat-lasting glance, since they were surrounded by smooth globes of ivory-like solid sorcery. Around those wards sticks of incense floated, slowly burning out only to be engulfed in ivory flames at the last moment and from ashes born anew and full. The strength of the wards? It made sense. I’d seen some sticks burn much more quickly when the ovals came under fire. Regardless, those few moments where the demons were not completely contained were enough to twist their immediate surroundings. I saw legionaries but also wights, things that should have no soul of their own, begin howling and tear at themselves and everything close to them. Others simply… ceased. Fell down, dead for their hearts no longer beat.

The creepiest was the work of the third. What it touched of Creation became… unwoven, in some fundamental way. Air was breathed, but gave no breath. Flesh remained fixed even as men moved, sliding off like oil. Ground became like the sea, and I even caught sight of a man who took a ball of flame to the face rise and walk back, flesh mending, only to advance as he first had and be struck by the very same spell. It was not that the demons ran amok. If they did, the Legions would have broken already. But just by being contained in front of the first palisade protecting the bastions, they created a rampart of death that could not be passed. The legionaries had to go around them, and not come too close, which took them straight into the enemy fire. Tough the goblinfire still burned and had thinned the ranks some, the wights were still thousands and bitterly contested the palisades. Most of the killing, though, came from the bastions. Sorcery lashed out in never-ending waves, trebuchets and scorpions that were the deadly work of goblin engineering carving bloody streaks in the advancing men. Already at least a thousand dead carpeted the field, and dozens more died every heartbeat.

I breathed out and unsheathed my sword, gathering power. Archer idly nocked an arrow and Adjutan’s grip tightened against the shaft of his axe with a crisp leathery sound.

“All right,” I said. “Let’s get this started.”

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33 thoughts on “Chapter 60: Opening

    1. Zayits

      Looks like it makes matter/states constant at random. Before I read the third description, I honestly thought it was the “instant death” one.

      Given the effect it has on magic, I wonder whether Akua’s plan is to have it eventually plug the entrance to Liesse. She seems to pick the demons so they would affect her mages the least, but the Order one stands out. Bad idea, regardless, when you look on how the Madness and goblinfire (nice typo in the beginning, btw) spread the chaos on the battlefield, which arguably benefits Cat and Amadeus more than Akua.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. *Grumble grumble*

    Why do you have to stop there?
    Also, I feel like this section will have tons of interludes, going to be nice afterwards to see what everyone is doing, but before that… having to wait a few days for each chapter is going to kill me.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Gunslinger

    Well shit, things are properly dire now. I suppose it was too much to expect that the Fifteenth could chill in the rear and not have to constantly fight demons/demigods. Speaking of demons, I wonder if the whole tainted by the Chaos demon thread would come up again now that Masego is facing 3 others.

    Can’t wait till Wednesday but in the meanwhile vote for the guide on topwebfiction.com if you can http://topwebfiction.com/vote.php?for=a-practical-guide-to-evil

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Idan Dor

    The following comment was written before I read the chapter so there is a chance I’m already wrong.

    I have thought for a few days about how the Calamties will die. It is obvious that now that the Woe exist, the Calamties are redundant to the setting and with what the Bard started, they have already started to “leave it”. This comment is mostly my predictions, I’m at least somewhat placing this out here so I can see where I was wrong/right later.

    English is also not my first language so I apologize in advance if things are grammarly incorrect or confusing. This has also turned out to be rather long, I have tried to split it a bit so hopefully it is readable.

    Let’s start with the death we already observed and diagnose it, The Captain, Sabah. Her death already happened, but I would like to mention a few things notable things in it. First, it was a very thematic death, the Monster brought down by a Hero, a Champion. Second, Captain was killed doing what she does best, all out fighting. I’m bringing both of these points up because they are going to be repeated in the deaths of the rest of the Calamities and to contrast it with the Exiled Prince’s death. In his death, he did not die melee fighting or leading, he died “alone”. It would be as if Captain was killed by a spell like the Tyrant attempted. No, instead she got to fight all out, 1 against 1 melee combat. Naturally, with this being a story in which the characters know about themes, precedent and lore I fully expect it to be inverted or evaded by at least one of the calamities.

    Alright, with that in mind let us go back to the present where I predict (as do others) that Warlock will fall. Now, Warlock is not your typical evil sorcerer. He is not out there to terrorize and take over the world, he does not seem to use demons or devils a lot and as his states himself, he is bored with politics and just wants to do magic. With that in mind, look at what Diabolist has turned out to be basically his exact opposite. She wants to rule the world, terrorize it to submission and she will do whatever warlockly things are required to do this (undeading people, summoning devils, releasing demons).

    Now, usually evil sorcerers fall to their own summons/creations/subjects but Warlock does not fit that mold. He instead relies on his skills, knowledge, research and power to get done what a more standard “warlock” like Diabolist will do with sacrifice/demons and blasphemy. I believe he will be defeated and killed by Diabolist in a battle of skill (Malicia claimed she would have been a match for him had he been younger) due to the army of devils she has under her control. His “thing” is also boundaries which Diabolist very much just broke so I believe it will be a very fitting death.

    Guessing the other Calamities deaths’ is harder because we don’t particularly know much about them, but I’m going to start with Ranger. Ranger is a half elf obsessed with hunting those worth hunting, she has also been described as someone unbeatable and has considerable amounts of experience and skill under her belt.

    She is also technically retired so I’m not quite sure if she still needs to die, but if she does my guess is that she is going to be killed by her opposites: the Elves of the Golden Bloom. She is the diametric opposite of them in quite a few ways, she is a half elf while they “will remain forever unmarred”. They think themselves above the affairs of mortals while she does “meddle” (if only for sport). We also know from her chapter that the Emerald Swords occasionally trying to purge her. Overall, they pretty much are the only thing that can actually kill her, it will be a fitting death and because something needs to drag them to the uncivil war (like the rest of the continent) and this seems like a good premise.

    Next, Scribe. She is technically not a Calamity but she is affiliated and she must die before Black does so she gets on this list. So what do we know about her? Not much really. She is from the free cities, her name is Eudokia and she is a scribe. We also got a few start of chapter quotes by a “Eudokia, the Oft-Abducted, Basilea of Nicae” which I can only assume is the same person as Scribe and that everyone but me noticed the connection even though I haven’t seen it mentioned.

    If she is the same person it is very interesting as it means that she is royalty in Nicae while her Name of Scribe is most likely related to the city of Delos, the city with huge bureaucracy where “the will of the Heavens and the will of the asekretis of the Secretariat were considered to be the same thing”. This also seems to imply that Scribe is supposed to be an heroic name because Delos is on the side of Good. With the Oft-Abducted part of her name though and her quotes, I can only assume that she experienced a lot of Free Cities politics and was deeply hurt by it.

    This, while very interesting, does not give me too much to speculate on, so I can only assume she will die in the Free Cities by the hands of the Hierarch who lived his life as a diplomat and then was abducted by Tyrant. This feels right but is not much as we still don’t know enough about her. It is also, like with Ranger and the Elves, a great way to drag the free cities to this mess.

    I have pondered quite a bit about Assassin. We know that he has been on screen before but we have no idea who he is. Some have speculated that Scribe and Assassin are the same person while the writer mentioned that some people in story don’t believe he even exists but simply think Black has a lot of talented assassins in his use (at least I remember such a comment). We only really know he has an “interesting” sense of humor, a bit mentioned by Black about him being raised in a school of hired killers and whatever can be learned of his appearance in Theif’s chapter. We don’t know his ethnicity, origins (though he was not mentioned as not Praesi by Warlock so it makes sense that he is Praesi) and even if he is a “he”.

    As a completely wild speculation I’m going to guess he is actually Ime (Malicia’s helper) due to Assassin knowing how Theif was (something Black didn’t seem to), being a woman (from what I have seen the author refers to Assassin without gendered pronouns) and because we don’t know anything about that her. Anyhow, the only being I could think of which can actually beat this whimsical pile of murder at his own game is the Dead King. I find it to be very fitting but I’m kinda speculating over nothing at all here.

    And finally, the one which must be the last Calamity to die, Amadeus, Lord Black himself. About him we know a lot, we know how loyal people (and entire armies) are to him and how loyal he is to them. He is very much a leader and we know he will be the last to go due to all others (except Assassin) saying how they will avenge him. His kit is mostly about leading armies and groups to battle so I will not expect him to fall quietly.

    The most obvious way he can die is Catherine stabbing him in the back. However, she has repeatedly shown no wish to do so. Unless he loses it completely, which is a road he somewhat started, I don’t expect this to happen. It is merely “too standard” for Black Knights to be killed by their Squires.

    Option two: The White Knight kills him. The White Knight could beat him at his army leading game (with a bit more experience and some luck) but his fight is supposed to be killing Catherine not Black.

    Option Three and most fun (and very wild prediction): Malicia kills him. admittedly it is a very out there theory but I very much like it. Conflict between Malicia and Black has been “hinted” for a very long while and Malicia has been whispering betrayal for a while and craves control, so what happens when someone starts becoming a loose cannon and losing his perspective? It is very possible that Malicia will not kill him directly but merely orchestrate his death at the hand of someone else.

    Option four, which a few people seem to believe in, he simply does not die. To quite a few commenters it seems like Black’s death has been hinted too much and that it will simply averted.

    I’m not sure I buy that, but it does bring me to what seems the most likely to me, option five: he dies and then Catherine necros him up. We have known that her necromancy is different then regular (Masego comments on this somewhere around chapter 40) and her connection with death has been direct with her using necromancy all the time and even dieing herself. I think this is the most likely as patterns can’t be beaten but they can be transcended and this will be a very clean transcension of “the Calamities dieing” and will even allow Black his “real” victory/happy ending.

    I have seen some comments suggesting that Triumphant (may she never return) is going to pop out of the hell Diabolist has opened. If she does pop out, she will be a very fitting leader to beat Black at his own game. I’m just not very certain she is going to be back, though admittedly it will be very awesome.

    TLDR – Warlock dies to diabolist, Ranger to the Elves of the Golden Bloom, Eudokia to Hierarch, Assassin to the Dead King and Black dies but is necroed to life by Catherine.

    Thank you for reading. Now to read the chapter.

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    1. Ed

      Nah sorry I disagree.

      Your work up there is logical and makes sense but I really do think that Black will die in a way that is squarely pointed at Cat even though she didn’t do it… so then the other Calamities all die at her hand.

      Eventually… after severely mauling her and Cat having to arse pull victories as she does 😀

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      1. Idan Dor

        It has been hinted at before so it makes sense:

        “It was a reasonable precaution,” he said. “Arrangements like it aren’t uncommon among villains. I know Uncle Amadeus has a way to kill Father should he ever be corrupted, and he himself has an arrangement with Assassin to be executed should he ever become a threat to the Empire.”

        Though I stick to my reasoning that Warlock will be the one to die here not Black. If someone gets corrupted by the demons then it is going to be Warlock who will be killed by Black. I remember Black thinking “and he wondered how many of the people he loved he would have to kill, before it was all over.” and we already know he is supposed to have contingency against Warlock.

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      2. Duckie

        I have to agree. I am leaning more towards Warlock being taken by demons and killed by Black then Black being taken by demons or killed by Akua. For one Blacks story does not cross in anyway with Akua’s or enough so that it results in her killing him.

        It is far more likely Warlock is corrupted, killed by Black. Black who is already suffering the loss of one friend, snaps after being forced to kill another. Decides enough is enough and tries to do what he hinted a few chapters ago. Make Cat attack the empire, he thus becomes a threat to the Empire. Which in turn sets the plan he made for Assassin to kill him if he becomes a threat, in motion. Which makes Cat even angrier and gives her a justification for waging war on the Empress, revenge.

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    2. Metrux

      My own take on this: Assassin dies off-screen, and we never know who he or she is. Ranger, if she must die, will die hunting, maybe even Cat herself. Black, on the other hand? I can see two options. He finally snaps, but in the wrong direction, and dies protecting his daughter in all but blood, Cat; or, option two, he kills himself in some manner (even if just by letting something happen insteado f stopping it) so Cat can follow her way.

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    3. Engineer

      Remember Black is not losing his mind. The only person who said that was Malicia and her reasoning for that is because he plans to murder the entire nobles and destroy their bloodlines, something Malicia doesn’t approve of. But look at the shit that’s happening now, you’ve got a Noble that has opened a permanent gate to hell. If Alaya had listened to Black and allowed him to murder all of them back at the end of the Conquest they wouldn’t be in this situation now.

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  4. Letouriste

    I honestly expected them to already have counters against all kind of demonic things given that’s what akua is known for. I thought her trump card would be something different from demons and devils flooding^^.

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  5. Soronel Haetir

    I don’t see Ranger needing to die, also with the way she is I am not certain she would not withdraw from a fight she is losing. She does what she does because otherwise she is bored, not because she is actually interested in whatever good or ill she achieves.

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  6. soonnanandnaanssoon

    Did anyone pick up on the change of relation with Killian? I remembered Cat being able to feel her presence before, but now she doesn’t even notice Killian around anymore. My bet is either some Akua fudgery is going on with Killian or there was some Role development that was ongoing when they were together that stopped when they split. Regardless, I think this is gonna bite Kat in the ass. Unpleasurably, coming from Killian.

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    1. Metrux

      It’s more that she could feel the Fae Blood and since she’s a noble fae she got the feeling she should dominate her. But, with the final choice of full break, there is no compulsion anymore.

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  7. Yay, thank you for the chapter. Two quick typo note with the corrections in square brackets []:

    “[Though] the goblinfire still burned and had thinned the ranks some, the wights were still thousands and bitterly contested the palisades.”

    “I breathed out and unsheathed my sword, gathering power. Archer idly nocked an arrow and [Adjutant]’s grip tightened against the shaft of his axe with a crisp leathery sound.”

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  8. Nobody

    Warlock is definitely going to die before Black. He would freak out if Black died and Catherine would be the first one to be blamed and killed by him. Maybe he will be forced to sacrifice himself to save Black….

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  9. Author Unknown

    This fits perfectly with Diabolist’s character, holding the world hostage. Again and again, the orphanage, the city, the chapel, she had taken hostages to try and control others. In fact, the chapel bears a considerable resemblance to her current stronghold. A dimension she controls. Where at the chapel she threatened to collapse the dimension and kill them all, who knows what she will do with this little pocket when faced with losing. I certainly don’t think all of her spellwork is going to quietly unravel if she dies.

    Like

  10. Myself

    “It was a given they would be used here,” Warlock said conversationally. “Not even Sahelians are so mad as to call on the Unmakers within a closed realm. Masego, you are to contain them.”

    Well don’t be so sure about it, Ubua nearly summoned a freaking corruption demon inside a closed realm back in Book 2

    Like

  11. Edrey

    Now that i re-read the chapter i found something interesting, how kilian scaped cat’s senses when she can literaly feel her fae blood, is a ward or a name? Now that is something

    Like

  12. Engineer

    Time for my regularly scheduled fanfueled erroneous prediction. Without further ado, let’s get to it. Ok so FIRSTLY, I know nothing.

    That is all.

    Chapter was great, except for the blue balling at the end. But all is forgiven since it was Monday and we can get our sweet “release” tomorrow.

    Go Team Woe, Go!

    Like

  13. Redlaw

    No that i think about it the woe are really like the calamity. Squire = Black; warlock=masego ; adjutant= scrib ; thief = assassin ; ranger = archer. Now we only need someone to equal capitain.

    Like

    1. narcoduck

      I think Nauk was Captain’s counterpart. The big brute who resolves to control their inner fury and utterly loyal. But due to their leaders’ arrogance, they’re brought into fights where they’re lost.

      Like

  14. satoshikyu

    “I can’t believe I have to lower my standards lower than they already are,” I complained. “Well, nobody’s opened a permanent portal into the Hells. There. I refused to go any lower.”

    “Give it time,” Juniper grinned, ivory fangs flaring.

    From chapter 33. WELP. She asked for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. arancaytar

    General, I will need your men to establish a solid beachhead on the other side of the gate.

    Forget closing that gate; use it to stage an invasion of hell. Because fuck it!

    Like

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