Chapter 68: Poised

“Obviously you can’t kill me now: your enmity is with the Dread Emperor of Praes, and I’ve already abdicated. I am now but a humble shoemaker, and what kind of hero slays a shoemaker?”
– Dread Emperor Irritant, the Oddly Successful. Later noted to have made surprisingly nice shoes during his three abdications.

“So is there, like, a branch of sorcery all about lakes?” I mused. “Because if I’m going to keep using variations on the same trick it feels like there should be.”

Akua’s brow arched, expressing a monologue’s worth of disdain without her speaking a single word.

“Lakeomancy,” I suggested. “Catherine Foundling, foremost lakeomancer of her age. I could get a stele done like the old emperors – you know, basically a whole monument’s worth of bragging.”

“It would be lacusomancy,” Diabolist sighed. “And there is no such thing. Even hydromancy is not a true discipline, properly speaking. Like most physical effects it falls under the broader aegis of manifestation.”

“That just means we’re pioneers, Akua,” I grinned. “Look at us, bravely exploring the many ways you can steal, drop or otherwise move lakes.”

“Stolen is something of a misnomer,” the shade noted, looking down. “We’ve only borrowed it, practically speaking.”

Well, she wasn’t wrong. Great Strycht had proved as much of a wonder as Great Lotow, in its own way. It was, well, the easiest way to put it was that it’d been a port. Not unlike Mercantis the city had been raised on a large island, though instead of a river it’d been a lake that surrounded it. A lake that was about as large as half of Daoine, which was rather impressive. Useful, too. It hadn’t been this large originally: the basin had been artificially deepened and broadened before tributary rivers were dug into the stone to feed it. Tunnels and waterfalls, some coming from underground sources but others from the surface peaks of the Everdark. Lake Strycht was the freshwater source for an entire third of the inner ring, feeding a complex array of canals and sluice gates that were constantly fought over by sigils. The city itself was a bloody mess – scraps between sigils had sunk entire chunks of what’d once been a single island, leaving some sort of demented urban archipelago instead – but it was full of old sigils and would have been horridly difficult to assault. Drow ships were pretty much either rafts or small woven reed boats relying on oars. We’d seized a few, but it would have taken weeks of constant back and forth to get even a small army across.

Besides, the good people of Strycht had made it clear that we were not only unwelcome but currently at the top of their ‘murder and harvest’ list. I’d sent a few of my lords – the Peerage, Akua had taken to calling them, and the name had kept – to make polite inquiries about holding a council to discuss the dwarven threat and the cabal founded to answer it. They’d, uh, not taken well to that. Long story short, Soln and its fellows had harvested a few Mighty in a spurt of traditional drow diplomacy before making a tactical retreat back. They’d made enough of an impression that all seven cabals dedicated to maintaining control of the waterways had been called upon. Strycht was going to be swimming in old monsters before the month was out, and until then they’d taken to raiding my sigil’s camps on the shore. The damage had been limited and we’d mostly come out on top due to sheer numbers and Winter fuckery, but after the initial probes they’d identified the weaknesses in our defences and begun concentrating on those. My sigil had taken the Hylian ways out of Lotow after stripping it clean of everything remotely food-adjacent and absorbed another six sigils on its way to Strycht, but while it’d massively swelled it was still a far cry from a real army. It was a confederation of tribes, if anything, bound to me by oaths and fear. Not exactly the kind of troops used to maintaining proper watch rosters and fielding patrols. So with the situation steadily worsening and the opposition refusing to talk, I’d decided a rebuttal was in order.

So I’d confiscated Lake Strycht.

It’d taken about two days to empty most of the basin even with two gates as large as we could make them. Taking every last drop had proved impossible: the tributaries kept feeding it and the basin wasn’t even so there’d been pockets of water remaining. Still, in my estimating about nine tenths of the initial lake had been shunted off into Arcadia. What had once been water was now a stinking marsh of mud clogged with drying weeds and fish. It was a good thing we’d never attempted a crossing, because when the lake ebbed low some creatures were revealed that even Praesi would flinch at. Some kind of massive oily octopi with barbed tentacles, blind pale lizards the size of houses and long eels with an inexplicable amount of teeth. Most the monsters had gone through the gates, those that didn’t either settling in the larger puddles or going wild as they died stripped of water. It’d been a display of power meant for the recalcitrant inside the city, now perched atop hills or small plateaus surrounded by mud, but it’d also been a form of diplomatic pressure. I’d just killed half a dozen rivers crucial to keeping an entire chunk of the inner ring from going thirsty and done a great deal more damage to Strycht itself.

That lake had been their granary. They lived off the creatures swimming in it, of the weeds and plants now dying for lack of irrigation. The city’s drow had wells and cisterns, but the population here was easily triple of Great Lotow. They’d beginning running out soon, and after that they’d be forced to sally out for puddle water with my Peerage waiting in ambush. The Mighty would be able to stick it out until reinforcements arrived, sure, but what about the rest? Nine tenths of their people were going start withering on the vine. Even if the cabals proved victorious against me in a few weeks, sigil-holders would lose most their sigils to thirst. And they had to know that even if they got my head on a pike, there’d been no guarantee of getting the lake back. How many years would it be until the tributaries filled back even half of Lake Strycht? So I’d sent a handful of my Peerage forward again, to revisit the subject of a council. I’d instructed Ivah to make it clear that if they really pushed me they might just get the lake back directly on top their heads, which ought to make at least a few of them reconsider. Once we had a foothold in the city, well, if the rest dug their heels in I wasn’t above ordering an assault. I’d glimpsed what my Peerage was capable of, during our passage through the ways.

I was glad of the oaths, because I wasn’t sure I could win the fight if it ever came to that.

“I don’t know about borrowed,” I said. “I’m considering keeping the lake, or at least a portion of it.”

The slight shift in Akua’s stance indicated surprise, though I knew better than to think she hadn’t allowed it consciously.

“There is no lack of usable geographic features in Arcadia,” Diabolist said. “Archer has brought forward the interesting notion of-”

“Yes, Indrani wants me to start dropping mountains,” I sighed. “I’m well aware.”

“There are also volcanoes in what was once Summer,” the shade reminded me. “Actually triggering an eruption when we need it would be significantly more difficult, but not outright impossible.”

“There’s basically everything in Arcadia, if you look long enough,” I grunted. “That’s not why I’m thinking of redeploying the lake.”

“Decoration?” Akua drily suggested. “I suppose it’s never too late to acquire taste, though I must warn you ‘monster-infested underground lake’ is rather passé. Very sixth century.”

Ugh, and she probably thought she was actually funny.

“Well,” I brightly replied, “as the foremost lakeomancer of my generation-”

“There is no such thing,” Diabolist insisted.

“- it occurs to me I’ve been mostly, um, dropping large bodies of water on people,” I said. “For tactical purposes.”

“As one does,” Akua agreed.

“It seems like a very narrow use of the ability,” I said. “When I have an entire region of Callow that, between you and Summer, was effectively ravaged.”

Scarlet eyes narrowed.

“You want to move the lake to Callow,” she said.

“I’d have to consult governors and landowners,” I noted. “And someone familiar with farming practices. But it occurs to me that Summer-torched land might benefit from fresh irrigation. Hells, there might even be enough fish left for actual fishing.”

“And you want to use a lake born of Creation. because moving an Arcadian body of water might very well have… unforeseen consequences,” Akua murmured. “Wise.”

I passed a hand through my hair.

“Look, there’s so many problems I can’t solve with killing,” I said. “So it might be time to consider other solutions. One of the reasons Praes has been such a murderous shitshow play of correspondingly shitty and murderous thespians is that the Wasteland is exactly as termed. If I take a lake from somewhere else and sell it to whoever’s holding the Tower, it could tip the balance the other way. The Empire wouldn’t start starving its way into an invasion every other decade.”

Horrifyingly enough, Diabolist was beaming.

“You want to steal pieces of Creation and auction them off to nations,” she said. “Dearest, this might be the first of your designs I can say I wholeheartedly endorse.”

“It’s not stealing,” I protested. “You can’t own a lake. I mean, legally yes and nobody better take mine, but when you think about it in a religious sense-”

“You are preaching to the choir, my heart,” Akua intervened. “Admittedly the choir is made of damned souls, but let us not pretend talented singers are usually headed for the Heavens.”

“Why am I talking to you about this?” I muttered. “Of course you’d be on board, this is basically Dread Empress Sinistra’s plan only with riches instead of hero-delivered death at the end.”

“It could be useful to mark some mountain peaks rich in ore, when we return to the surface,” Diabolist suggested. “Mercantis would pay a fortune for access to mines where there can be no dwarven claim. And Callow itself is famously poor in precious metals: acquiring a source of mintage would be quite useful.”

The worse part was that it wasn’t actually a bad idea. Gods knew my kingdom could use the coin and the mines both. What I hated most about Akua was how useful she could be when she put her mind to it, which was always.

“Something to consider in the future,” I said.

She studied me carefully.

“There is more,” she noted.

“Someone broke one of my cities last year,” I frostily replied.

“And so you have hordes of refugees in need of shelter,” Diabolist said, delicately avoiding the subject. “As well a myriad of standing structures about to be permanently vacated.”

Not to mention a treasury that’d effectively be a glorified war chest and granary until the Tenth Crusade ended, which meant no funds for the kind of reconstruction that southern Callow badly needed. Hakram had produced miracles in keeping the tent cities clothed and fed, but come winter things were going to get ugly. The Waning Woods were too far, and absurdly dangerous to take lumber from if you went any deeper than the very outskirts. I’d seen it coming, of course, and we’d set aside wood and coal for fires, but it wouldn’t last all the way through the cold season. And Great Strycht was now a pack of very nice stone districts set atop hills and plateaus, many of which would fit inside a gate. It’d be tricky to get them through without wrecking them, of course, but not impossible. And even ruins would make great building materials, if worse came to worse. There’d be more cities ahead, too. I’d be leading the drow to the surface and until I could settle them where I wanted them to be there’d be a need for something to host them, but it didn’t all have to be used for that.

It was a little ironic that I’d waited until Thief was gone to start thinking about stealing cities.

“There is merit to the notion,” Akua said. “And though you now seem intent on civilian use, there is another side to the coin. If you can take a fortress…”

I could just leave it in Arcadia for later, then plop it out as field fortifications while on campaign. Near instantly. Juniper might just forget to hate Diabolist to the bone for a few heartbeats, if she heard about this.

“They’re not heavy on fortifications so far,” I said. “I wouldn’t get my hopes up.”

“We’ve not yet penetrated deep into the inner ring,” she replied. “There may yet be opportunity.”

I didn’t disagree. If I could get my hands on even just a fort, it’d be a nasty surprise to pull on my foes down the line. Field battles against the Dead King would be a chancy gamble even if the entire Grand Alliance was mobilized, this kind of sudden upset might be able to turn the tide. The first time it was used, at least. Neshamah wasn’t the kind of enemy that’d fall for the same trick twice. We stood there for some time in silence, the mood shifting as the conversation ebbed. The sight of the cavern before us wasn’t something a few days could get me used to, I silently admitted. The sheer size of it was staggering. It had the length and breadth of a province, the walls so distant even my eyes found them hard to discern, but the ceiling was what awe me every time. It was uneven, betraying that this was no singular cave but hundreds of them carved into a single place by what must have been decades of hard labour. I’d never seen anything taller save for the Tower itself, and the Tower was millennia of Praesi madness made into edifice. What kind of people had the ancient drow been, to make this?

What had broken them so deeply they’d become a pack of rats scavenging their own ruins?

“Not even Keter is match for it in scope,” Akua softly said, gaze following mine. “Fitting, I suppose. The Crown of the Dead is a mere gate to the Dead King’s true realm, impressive as it is. This must have been one of the beating hearts of their empire.”

“Don’t you have a bureaucracy to run?” I said.

“Subordinates must be assessed,” she replied. “At my behest you granted Centon much power. If it proves incapable of discharging its duties without my constant supervision, replacement must be found.”

And by that we both knew she meant Centon would be harvested and another drow raised in its place. Not killed, I’d set down rules about that, but Night could be taken without killing. The disgrace would probably cut deeper than death, though. Ivah certainly hated speaking of how it’d come to have that name in the first place. It was cold-blooded of Diabolist, but then I expected nothing less from her. Your average Wasteland aristocrat made lizards look warm in comparison, and Akua Sahelian had remained on top of that pack for years.

“Sometimes I wonder what it takes to make someone like you,” I said. “But then I remember all I heard about your mother, and I stop wondering.”

Her lips quirked.

“And what exactly did you hear, dearest?” she asked.

“Black called her brilliant,” I said. “Said that she’d managed to survive Malicia’s rise while supporting her enemies with little loss of influence. He was wary of her.”

“High praise, coming from the Carrion Lord,” Akua noted. “Mother was a creature of nuances.”

“You must have hated her,” I said. “That story you told me about your friend. No child should have to live through that. Not even you.”

“I suppose I did,” the shade murmured. “But not in the way you mean. You – your people – marry personal hatreds with your actions in a way we are taught not to.”

“Praesi keep grudges too, Akua,” I said. “Take revenge. There’s an entire hall of screaming heads in the Tower speaking to the truth of that.”

“I do no explain myself well, I think,” Diabolist said. “I was raised to treat Akua Sahelian and the heiress to Wolof as different persons. I could hate, and take revenge, as the first. The second must be a creature suborned only to ambition. Those among my people who do not learn to separate one face from the other die young.”

“That’s absurd to me,” I admitted. “I can understand necessity dictating your actions. I leapt down that slope years ago. But you can’t just pretend it’s two different people, Akua. It’s still you. Your actions. I didn’t somehow fight the Diabolist and spare you. It’s all on your head, like it’s all on mine.”

“Perhaps in Callow that is true,” she mused. “But in the Wasteland? We must clasp hands with those who’ve slain our kin, stabbed our predecessors in the back, stolen riches and appointments. It is a necessary distinction, Catherine. We can make sport of each other, so long as it is that. We would all lose for the stripping of that veil.”

“Then shouldn’t you?” I said. “Lose, I mean. Your entire philosophy is that conflict breeds strength, yet I can’t call what you describe anything but fragile.”

She quietly laughed.

“How harsh a judgement you cast on my people,” she said. “Will you hold all others to the same standard? The severe Ashurans, strangling their own kind with a rope of rules and tiers. The quarrelsome Procerans, who war with all under the sun out of hungry ambition. And even your own, Catherine. How many teeth-clenching grudges has Callow followed to dark endings?”

“None of the others wound Creation bartering for power,” I said. “Or bleed thousands upon thousands in rituals. I have axes to grind with my enemies, Akua, but I know what they are. Where their limits lie.”

“Then the issue is of means, not philosophy,” Diabolist said. “And so for the greatest monster of all, you need look no further than your teacher. What limits does the Carrion Lord have?”

“And he, too, will be held to account,” I quietly said. “For what he has done and may yet do.”

“Ah,” Akua smiled. “And are these the words of Catherine Foundling or the Black Queen?”

“That’s my entire point,” I said. “They’re the same person. That’s what responsibility means.”

“And mine is that your decisions will always be a choice,” Diabolist said. “Between what the woman wants and what the queen requires.”

I waved a hand dismissively, tired of the argument. Her logic only held up because it was a closed circle.

“But since you asked,” Akua said, looking at the distant city. “I despised my mother. For what she did. For what she wanted from me. But it was Tasia Sahelian that was my enemy, and her I admired until the day she lost.”

“Because she was brilliant,” I said.

“Because she was everything I was taught to want,” she mused. “Powerful and cunning and every bit the match of our Empress.”

“Until she lost,” I said.

“I severed our relations before I could be dragged down with her,” Akua said. “But I would not call that revenge. It was not a matter between us but between the Diabolist and the High Lady of Wolof.”

“And do you regret it?” I asked. “Leaving her behind.”

I wasn’t sure, I thought, what I was looking for. Humanity, maybe. Some speck of a person who had more to her than Wasteland iron and villainy. But what would I even do with it, if it was found? There was no saving someone like Akua, and I did not want to try. A hundred thousand souls demanded otherwise. The shade’s face was distant, lost in her thoughts.

“I do,” Diabolist finally said. “What a strange thing that is.”

“She was a lot of things,” I said. “But your mother was one of them.”

“She was,” Akua Sahelian agreed.

Her lips quirked.

“I should have killed her myself, mother to daughter.”

174 thoughts on “Chapter 68: Poised

    • This will be a duel for the H’s.
      Puns aside, we have best mage vs best ogre. On one hand, the very talented and interesting Zeze, coming off a very emotional chapter. On the other, Hune, one of the only characters to tell Catherine to her face that she doesn’t believe in her.

      Liked by 4 people

        • I voted for Hune. Honestly, I think she (or other contrariam characters) should have more screen time. So far, IIRC, we’ve had Hune, the Pilgrim and Wekesa tell Cat off for what she stands for. And mostly only Hune from the side of the oppressed.

          Liked by 5 people

          • A good number of characters have called Cat out about specific things, but Hune was noteworthy as the only one who was speaking truth to power rather than speaking opinion from power when they did so.

            Liked by 5 people

            • The Pilgrim sort of kind of counts, having refused to get involved in his country’s politics because he knows it would lead to unnecessary bloodshed.
              The issue, of course, is he is a powerful Named and has the influence ghat gives whether he wants to or not.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Pilgrim gets some credit for speaking frankly in the hopes of avoiding bloodshed, and more for being willing to compromise to avoid warcrimes even when he couldn’t get a surrender, but he was still speaking as an equal, with the assurance that he couldn’t make things worse because he was already dealing with an enemy.
                Hune could probably have gotten Cat to like her without too much effort, but she chose to tell her unpleasant truths and refuse to get swept along in her will. That took a lot of courage, because Hune herself pointed out that Cat could have her punished arbitrarily.

                Liked by 3 people

                • You have a point, though I’ll add that with what we’ve since learned the Pilgrim has in his arsenal he may have some credit for speaking to Cat as equal when he may have been her superior.


                • Wow. I literally feel like we’ve read 2 different books if you think well of the Grey Pilgrim.

                  “He spoke frankly to avoid bloodshed”

                  Then refused to use his influence to end a pointless series of battles because it would hurt Cordelia’s position. Even though, due to his truth-sensing power, he now unequivocally that Cat was telling the truth when he spoke to her. Cordelia’s hope was worth more than all those lives lost in northern Callow. Arguably, the whole crusade actually. If he spoke up the entire crusade would have probably been smothered then and there. If he had given her the slightest opening, Cat could have told him about the Liesse Accords. He would have been able to see an arguably better potential possible future that would have left everybody, except maybe Praes, stronger and better positioned to attack the Dead King, Chain of Hunger, Everhart, etc. With the 10th crusade dismantled early on, an undamaged Procer, Callow, Levant, etc could have worked together against those threats and more. Plus they wouldn’t have to devote troops to watching their shared borders while doing so.

                  “He was willing to compromise to avoid warcrimes even when he didn’t get a surrender”

                  Which is only right. Agreeing to mutual codes of conduct when the country you’re invading doesn’t roll over and let you conquer it unopposed definitely doesn’t make you the morally superior side. Really this whole thing says better things about Cat, than Pilgrim. Let’s not forget, the terms were not only offered by her, she actually offered BETTER terms. She was refused prisoner exchanges and GP tried to limit her to no devils & demons while arguing that they should get to use angels. He only agreed because Cat made him. It’s also not like he gave up anything extra to stop Cat”s side from doing something monstrous. He agreed to a reciprocal limiting of extreme options. And he did this from the position of invading army that had turned down an honest offer(which again, he knows sure to his powers) to help them achieve their stated goal. Cat would gate the army of the crusade, and probably done even more to help honestly, straight to Ater. Instead they just wanted to conquer Callow again and divide it amongst themselves. Basically what I’m saying is, you don’t get credit for agreeing to terms with the country your invading, especially when they honestly restrict your victim(and that’s what Callow is here if we’re honest) more than they do you. I actually think you lose all right to be patted on the back for things like that when you’re not only the aggressor, but show how thin your justifications really are by turning down the multiple attempts and offers Cat made to try and end the unjust war you insist on prosecuting. All that’s one thing though, but did lets not forget that he ran away at the earliest opportunity, and what was his very first action upon doing so? Here’s a refresher since you seem to have forgot: he committed the worst(and only that we know of) war crime since Akua’s Folly. He used biological warfare that targeted military personnel as well as civilians. He doesn’t get a pass because he’s “Good” when his actions are evil.
                  P.S. This isn’t really germane to the story at hand, but there’s 1 more action we should think about in the context of GP and war crimes. He smothered his nephew in his sleep to prevent him from uniting Levant against Procer. Whether Procer and Levant sound be at odds or not is irrelevant. There’s no 2 ways about it, the Grey Pilgrim is just as bad as, and in some cases worse than, the Evil he fights. I think with just the info we have, it’s safe to say GP is a bigger monster than Cat, hands down. Add that to what’s definitely happened offscren, plus everything he surely did in the past without us hearing about it, and you’re left with just somebody whose as much of a monster as any who’ve held the Tower.

                  “He was still speaking as an equal, with the assurance that he couldn’t make things worse because he was already dealing with an enemy.”

                  Except he made it worse. The armies on both sides could have walked away if he had taken Cat’s offer.

                  Basically my stance bike down to: Screw the Grey Pilgrim and the sanctimonious, hypocritical, self-righteous horse he rode in on. He gets no passes for his half-assed attempts at conflict resolution and limiting collateral damage. Not after not only spurning offers made in good faith to give the crusade exactly what the leaders claimed it was after, but resorting to warcrimes while still thinking his side is morally superior. Between him and Saint we see that heroes can be just as bad as, and sometimes worse than the villains. You’re not better than the other side just because you kowtow to Angels instead of worshiping Below. Especially not when some of your enemies barely, if at all, pay lip service to the Hellgods while someone the people on your side manages the mental gymnastics needed to be the Heavens axe-man, but mentally absolve themselves off wrongdoing and even responsibility for their actions with “the Heavens willed it”. Every human, barring that one radical outlier, is guilty in the angels eyes. Hanno knows that, so every time he clips that coin he’s making a choice. He knows that if hhe flipped it for any priest, innkeeper, or beggar he would be forced to kill them. He doesn’t do it with every person he meets though, does he? No, he reserves it for the people he want to kill. Therefore, his whole “I don’t judge” shtick is bulkshit.

                  In my opinion, Hanno and Tariq – the White Knight and the Grey Pilgrim – are the most hypocritical characters in the story. Are there ones who are more bloodthirsty, unrepentant, and morally bankrupt? Yes. There aren’t, however, any characters that are more hypocritical, deluded, or undeservedly self-righteous. I hope they, mostly GP though, don’t get to go out in a blaze of glory, holding back the tides of evil and cursing the hells with their last breath. I want them, him, to die powerless, alone, far from home, and knowing that their death means nothing and everything they accomplished in life will be either forgotten or swept away. It honestly shouldn’t be super hard to be on the morally superior side when opposition is people called the Black Queen, Dread Empress, and Black Knight. Somehow the fall short of that though.


        • Hune was interesting in her own way, and she might have actually had a real shot if she’d ever had more than one genuine interaction on screen. And since everyone knows that this particular vote is a foregone conclusion, I think a fair few people who liked that one interaction voted for her, not because they think they can get her (I think hune was female? could be wrong, too lazy to go back looking for pronouns) a victory, but because they want to see more of Hune. Still though, Hune’s probably the least important character (except *maybe* Nauk) to get on the roster, as well as being against a much stronger candidate (in my opinion, at least), and that shows in the results of this vote.


      • Let’s be honest, Hune was probably just there to pad the roster out to 16. The innkeeper Cat used to work for got more screen time, and I don’t even remember his name. Hune’s one focal scene was pretty memorable, but it’s all she really got.


        • Let them take it into their own hands. It’s their life, it belongs to them. If they ask for help, then sure, but don’t take this from them.


          • I believe the op is not referring to medical euthanasia, but to grudges and family members that have stabbed you in the back and abused you.


            • Since I don’t believe in a death penalty, if there isn’t some major reason the person HAS to die I still think they should be given the option of offing themselves.


          • Isn’t that the worst thing you could possibly do to a person? Let them kill themselves? Don’t virtually all the religions say that killing oneself results in bad things? And therefore if there is even a chance of a good afterlife why get rid of it for them? Kill them yourself before they get the chance. ‘Tis kinder.


            • I maintain that killing somebody is wrong, but letting them die is acceptable, so long as they want it and it ends their suffering. Of course, this is very much dependent on the situation.


            • What does religion, especially IRL religions that don’t exist in Creation, have to do with morality, tho.
              If someone *has* to die, I’d rather empower them to go into oblivion by their own hand, unless they ask for help.
              Of course, if they don’t have to, I would rather they don’t die, but that’s not the question that was posed.


    • That does remind me of Taras Bulba: “Stand still, don’t move! I gave you life, I will also kill you!” said Taras, and, retreating a pace, he brought his gun up to his shoulder. Andríi was white as linen: his lips could be seen to move softly, and he uttered a name; but it was not the name of his native land, or of his mother, or of his brethren; it was the name of the beautiful Pole. Taras fired.


      • An even earlier version of this can be found in Euripedes’ Medea!
        “No! No! No! By the Furies of Hell,
        I’ll not abandon them to my enemies and their violation.
        It’s all done now, anyway, there’s no escape.
        They must die too. And since they must,
        The one who gave them life must end it”

        Liked by 4 people

  1. Hah. Looting natural resources to sell off. And sounds like she’s planning on stealing a city or two weeks she’s at it.

    Cat, this habit is more likely to lead to a title, nickname, or cognomen than a branch of magic. “The Lakedropper”, “Lady of the Falling Lakes”, etc.

    Liked by 13 people

    • Other fun things about stealing gigatonnes of water would be the resulting earthquakes & landslides, introduction of foreign and possibly invasive species and, yes, messing with weather patterns. You really could mess up as badly as the Dread Emperor who tried to steal Callow’s weather.

      With this underground lake she’s incredibly lucky not to have had the quakes & landslides already. It’s probably noticeably saltier than most surface lakes what with all the cut stone exposed to the water, and even Cat saw some of the monsters. Most of those probably wouldn’t enjoy the sun but you never know what would do well outside its native environment.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Lake bed dries up and shrinks. Pressure holding the lake sides disappears. Lake sides collapse inwards. Landslide happens.

          Considering that lakes can seep kilometers deep into the ground, causing a collapse due to disappearing pressure down there can lead to a domino effect radiating upwards and outwards. Thus, localized earthquake.


        • Pressure suddenly not being there has a habit of leading to push-back. See all of Northern Europe slowly springing back from the weight of the glaciers being taken off its landmasses… and southern regions sinking a bit as it tipples in response, too.

          Mud and rock: more dynamic than you’d think; more fluid dynamics involved than my poor brain like a to cope with. ;P


  2. Catherine is channeling her inner Black, seeing as she’s taking entire cities without a fight.

    And dammit Akua, WHY DO I LIKE YOU SO MUCH. And not even in the way that I liked her in book 3, where she was an amazing antagonist I loved to hate.

    Liked by 11 people

    • This chapter makes me doubt Akua again.
      Her talking about Akua and Heiress as almost split personalities makes me think that Cat’s questions can be answered by Akua who likes her and not Diabolist who’s actually plotting the betrayal.

      Liked by 8 people

      • Except that’s kinda bullshit, and as such shouldn’t be enough to fool Speaking. What Akua is talking about is not split personality or anything like that, but separation of the needs of her social status from her personal desires.

        Liked by 3 people

      • The problem is not that Auka is secretly planning betrayal. The problem is that she will serve faithfully and loyally right up until the moment that it benefits her to betray Cat, and then she will betray Cat regardless of having been sincerely loyal up until that moment.


        • Nah. Per Akua’s discussion with Ivah/Lord of Silent Steps in Ye Mighty, Akua has realized that a perpetual cycle of backstabbing and betrayal is fundamentally flawed.

          Also, per Akua, her highest priority is survival. Survival only comes through continually proving herself loyal, competent, and useful to Cat – and doing so to such an extent that Cat decides to agree to finding a loophole in the Oath she made to Viv regarding the utter obliteration of Akua’s soul.
          Permanent escaping/freedom from Cat’s hold over her soul is not actually in Akua’s interest either – without Cat’s aegis, Akua is an instant target – and nobody else is going to keep her soul around in any sort of state remotely acceptable to her.

          Liked by 1 person

        • If so, then I believe Cat is quite safe, because I have no idea what would have to happen to make Akua’s betrayal of Cat not immediately lethal to the shade in question. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to allow Akua to roam the Creation unchecked again. If such situation ever arises, Cat is probably going to be ultra-fucked anyway so it doesn’t really matter that much.


  3. Attacking Procer will get the heroes to kill Cat but to Take the silver mines will not and Callow could use that silver better than Procer can anyway


    • I’d also suggest stealing all the Houses of Light from every Invading Nation and “donating” them to the Callowan House of Light one by planting them as pseudo-fortresses around the Ruins of Lisse as anti-undead measures. You can’t tell me that there wouldn’t be hordes of undead crawling out of there years down the line.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Akua has slowly risen to be perhaps my favorite character in the serial, except possibly Masego or Robber. Such a delight to read – I absolutely love how her philosophy is written, and how it forms her character.

    It doesn’t hurt that her dialogue is reliably fantastic.

    Liked by 7 people

    • you reminded me i miss robber. I miss a lot of characters actually: Nauk,robber,aisha,ratface (i can’t believe he got out without chara devellopment:/) and a few others more minor characters;)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I honestly don’t miss Nauk, but I can understand why some would. Aisha and Ratface needed more screen time, though, so much time in the back, not enough limelight…

        Liked by 2 people

        • To be fair, Ratface and Aisha are strictly background players when you consider the story follows the adventures of Catherine, not Callow. In Callow I imagine both Aisha and Ratface are far more important than everyone but Hakram, including Vivienne, but Catherine, ironically for all her talk about saving Callow, doesn’t really interact with the country besides shouting HAKRAM GET THE CROSS


  5. So uhh way back in the past I may have argued in a previous chapter that Dread Emperors do not get to abdicate. I hereby retract my statements and apologize because of course Irritant would not only abdicate and remain alive but also do it three fucking times. How in the hells did he manage to convince the High Lords to reinstate him again and again is beyond me.

    The tyrants of the tower are all mad. Every single one of them.

    Liked by 20 people

  6. The whole terraforming the continent with stolen lakes and mountains, is downright beautiful. It sounds like a straight up evil plan from a Saturday morning cartoon villain but it is so casually practical that it is glorious.

    I also think Irritant might be my favorite dread emperor.

    Liked by 13 people

  7. Man… Akua is the gift that keeps on giving. And I mean “gift” in German.
    Cat was right, Akua just keeps reminding us how effed up she is.
    Also, stealing landscape: good idea. Trying to solve Praesi hunger: maybe not the best. Recall earliest lessons from Black.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Ah, but she’s not (yet) Dread Empress.
      Also, her method would be selling water and fertile soil to the Praesi High Lords that wanted it, not telling them to do things. No room for them to launch a rebellion in protest of her policies if they choose to buy what she’s selling.
      Plus, she’s a lot harder to kill off by (arranged) accident or assassination than the typical Dread Emperor/Empress.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So it won’t go wrong in those ways, but it turns out that the mountain she stole had the grandparents of some kid who goes on a journey with the blessing of the Heavens and offs her.
        Or maybe one of the High Lords gets enough power from this to overthrow Malicia and negotiations break down, with the war to depose Malicia creating even more Wasteland.
        Or, hell, they don’t depose Malicia but the war still happens and destroys large chunks of fertile land.


        • Just steal fertile land and dump the wasteland on your enemies.

          If you can make a portal the size of a fortress, you can either steal the fortress or cover it in dirt. Only do a couple hundred feet or so, wouldn’t want to accidentally drop any dwarves on the bottom.


        • Everything can go wrong when you’re a villain. There’s no helping it. Logically, they should never do anything, for everything is too risky to try.

          And yet they do things all the time, and not all of them backfire. Amazing.


          • It’s more of a “don’t go against the full narrative weight of the Empire by yoursel” than “don’t do anything as a villain”.
            “Fixing the weather of the empire never works because it goes against immense narrative weight” was one of the first things Black taught Cat.

            Liked by 1 person

      • She also does not need to sell geographic features if “gifting” them could set off political strife.

        Transplanting the income generators of the Crusaders into each other’s “pockets” near their borders and setting of a bidding war to deny the other access to Cat’s logistics services will be enough.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Except that it’s the erratic weather that makes the Wasteland the wasteland and not the soil. The water probably can be used to make the Green Stretch more productive though.

        Liked by 4 people

        • If a large enough body of water is introduced to an environment, and from the description this lake is massive enough to constitute a small ocean by some definitions, it would also shift weather patterns as the evaporating water would alter where rainfall and other precipitation occurs. The wasteland was also described as desert, which I’m assuming is less sand and more large swaths of dried out earth if she is speculating a lake could change things. Also, from the way it was described the lake she currently has in Arcadia also contains the aquatic life and plants which would slowly make the ground more fertile over time.

          There are a lot of assumptions that go into this like assuming weather shifts enough that the lake will replenish, the animals and plants can survive in sunlight, there is a basin dug that will actually hold the water, and so on, but the guideverse has narrative smooth over the little details from time to time so these assumptions may just be kinda handwaved in.

          For an idea of how stuff like this works you can google draining the entire Mediterranean Sea, which was an engineering thought experiment for doing kinda the reverse the make more building space, I think that was the idea anyway.

          Liked by 2 people

          • The only thing though is while that is true that would change the weather under normal circumstances, we have to remember that the wastleand was magically indused when a dread empress tried to steal Callow’s weather. It might not be that simple, unfortunately


          • Other fun things about stealing gigatonnes of water would be the resulting earthquakes & landslides, introduction of foreign and possibly invasive species and, yes, messing with weather patterns. You really could mess up as badly as the Dread Emperor who tried to steal Callow’s weather.

            With this underground lake she’s incredibly lucky not to have had the quakes & landslides already. It’s probably noticeably saltier than most surface lakes what with all the cut stone exposed to the water, and even Cat saw some of the monsters. Most of those probably wouldn’t enjoy the sun but you never know what would do well outside its native environment.


        • But the Empress was stealing from Callow, which means Heroes, Evil vs Evil plans work out better and who would be opposition in this operation? And what could be worse than weather that actually destroys country without instantly killing it that doesn’t insta-kill it, because Narration won’t let Praes randomly disappear


  8. Was going to mention portalling stuff from the inside of pressurized containers to emulate high yield explosives – but that was already in the recent noosphere strata thanks to certain anime, and before that – to last book of WoT.

    So, let’s up the ante for the future Magistress of Borrowwithoutexplicitconsentomancy, shall we – how about stealing Callow itself? Gonna wager Crusaders and other neerdowells will have one hell of a time looking for a way to invade a kingdom currently residing somewhere in Arcadia…

    From other branch of thoughts – of slicing and dicing, primarily: if someone would be able to used portal technique to cut out a slice of Arcadia, and splice it into Creation as a wall on the border of Callow – that could pass as a decent Curtain, depending on the contains of the spliced part of course.



    • Leaving ruins or empty cities in Arcadia is one thing, a world like that LIKES that sort of mystery.

      Putting a living city there is a different story. At the very least, prolonged life there will make residents… change.


          • Years ahead in the story, Dread Cthulu comes to creation, for he is not bound to one dimension. The time of doom is upon the land. All will go mad at the sight and laugh and find new ways to kill and to die.

            Well, in some places at least. In another, the Callowans look up at the mountain that moves and have different thoughts. “Huh” says Marshall Abigail. “That thing looks an awful lot like last weeks dinner. Bigger though”

            “Bet they’d let us keep a piece” said General Krolem.

            Abigail shook her head “That thing was Chewy as all hell. Bet this thing is even worse.”

            Krolem nodded. “No bones. It’s not right, biting through something that doesn’t crunch. But this one we probably can’t cut a big enough piece off to reach bone anyway. We have to at least try it once it’s dead Marshall. I will be sure to get you the best piece”

            Once again, Abigail wondered how she’d come to marry this consumption-obsessed orc. Still a vast improvement over a ferret cousin, though.


    • The only mortal people to ever live in Arcadia without being Named were the elfs of the Golden Bloom, not even the main elfs did that, and all elfs are practically Named. So… Not the best idea. Taking them there for a while and then coming back? Now that could work.


        • Um… Androl can pretty much only use Gate without accidentally burning himself out or having the weave fizzle out on him, though. A restriction like that quickly teaches a guy to get highly creative. 😉

          Also, it’s handy to never need to carry scissors ever again. To use on anything.


      • ***SPOILERS ABROAD***

        Goblin Slayer, end of episode 4 – titular Slayer uses a modified Portal Scroll to gate in a continuous stream of water from the bottom of the ocean to use it as a form of a water cutter.

        WoT – Wheel of Time, in one of the endtail books an asha’man uses portal to gate in a torrent of pressurized lava on the battlefield, using it as impromptu liquid-thrower to eliminate a troublesome army of significant size.
        Also featured – moving autonomous gates of erratically changing dimensions, swallowing wide swaths of enemies; minuscule gates opened high above the battlefield to use it as observer drone-cam; hidden in a safe place cannons shooting through a gate which closes afterwards, giving the cannoneers time to reload their weapons and protecting them from harm – and also allowing them to shoot anywhere the gates can be opened…


  9. Hi there, Catherine Foundling here with a deal so great I have to be crazy to offer it, and with all I’ve been through since I was 16, who can blame me?

    Anyway, I’ve got everything a nation could possibly need. Stuck in the middle of the desert with no water? We’ll get you a lake for $29.99, and if you scry now to the Observatory, we’ll throw in another, absolutely free!

    No gold in your treasury or iron for steel? We got your back, Peak Mines, mines on mountain peaks are free of those pesky dwarves, allowing you to mine to your heart’s content. $49.99 apiece, and if you scry now you get 25% off, what a steal! But wait, there’s more! Order now and we’ll throw in a second, absolutely free!

    And now on today’s biggest seller, Fort-in-a-Pocket! Fighting a battle on an open plain with nowhere to muster your troops? Just drop one of these bad boys in and you don’t have to worry about bad weather or outriders torching your supplies! Scry now and we’ll deliver it to you, free of charge! ArcadiadeliverytakesnoresponsibilityforanycollateraldamagethatmayresultfromthedeliverofFortinaPocket,delivery is limited to one(1)timeonly.Termsandconditionsapply

    Liked by 14 people

    • Before, all gates to arcadia were topological fixed.

      I was under the impression that every point of Arcadia had a corresponding point in creation – and now, arcadia is serving as a plane of holding? Where Catherine has immediate access to the point she aims for?

      That shouldn’t work, should it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • More like a gate correspond to an exact point in both creation and arcadia. So you need to calculate where exactly you want to form a gate.
        Everywhere can be gate-ground (even fae cities)


    • …ahem…

      Benighted drow, your Queen is here –
      My Power holds you, it’s too late to fear;
      All your lives long ago went wrong –
      Let me sing you a little song:
      We’ll take the Sve as I can take a form,
      And all of you will form a mighty swarm,
      You will kneel, or ‘ll be brought down low,
      Crushed and chained by the will of Woe.

      You must be smart, you must be wise,
      You must be loyal to obtain the prize.
      Sve of Night has nowhere to run,
      She’ll be hunted by everyone.
      Soon she will die – just as her pets and friends,
      And with her death this part of story ends;
      Careful planning is what you need,
      Moderate, wise, prudent, and discreet.

      But worry not – for your Queen has a plan:
      We will go up, and claim you a new land!
      Strength in numbers we’ll have on staff,
      So we will have the final laugh.
      Now listen close to what I have to say:
      Prepare to fight, and we will win the day!
      If you’re patient – you’ll carry on,
      And our foes will all soon be gone!


  10. Wait, is Akua using positive reinforcement on Cat to make her more of her ideal leader?

    She’s been using “Dearest” and “My heart” whenever she’s even slightly pleased with how Cat’s going.
    I think.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. >Cat looking over Everdark

    “Hmmm. I’m gonna have some of that.”

    The funny thing is, she could totally sell some of the drow shit through Mercantis. The type of stuff they sell in the Closed Circle auctions include: written invitation to Skade, the original piece of the Tower and the materials Akua used for the Second Liesse.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. “I waved a hand dismissively, tired of the argument. Her logic only held up because it was a closed circle.”
    Catherine really needs to learn to stop dismissing or avoiding arguments she can’t think of a retort to, it’s one of her biggest flaws. Half of her confession episodes amount to “I knew I was wrong but I didn’t want to admit it half a book ago”.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Except she’s right here. Akua’s philosophy is insane. Praesi nobility is totally ineffectual at everything except infighting. Not to mention when you’re dealing with a known manipulator who is smarter than you the best thing to do is disregard everything she says that isn’t related to practical matters.


      • 1. A circular argument is a logical fallacy, but unlike formal fallacies, informal fallacies don’t necessarily mean the argument itself is wrong. “Humans walk on two legs because walking on two legs is what people do” is a partially circular argument, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t walk on two legs. Dismissing an argument that comprises entirely of a logical fallacy is alright. Dismissing its position isn’t unless you can refute it, and Catherine is pointedly just refusing to engage.
        2. Akua’s statement isn’t circular. It’s actually pretty weird that Cat thinks that the argument is circular, and I suspect it’s because she really hasn’t come to terms with the fact that the private and public spheres aren’t naturally unified, and that a genuinely nice person can do monstrous things because it’s the best way for his country and vice versa. The argument being made is a pretty basic one in statecraft – the King does what is necessary for his country and people, the man wearing the crown does what he thinks is right, the two don’t always coincide and you’ll have to choose (in fact, Catherine already has). The simple example Akua used of her mother can be flipped to “you find your (beloved) brother has committed a crime worthy of execution, do you execute him?”. Catherine’s position of responsibility is a non-sequitur – it’s got nothing to do with responsibility, it’s about what you need to do and what you wish you could do.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Points of view.

          Akua posits that Ruler and Wearer of the Crown are two different persons, and it is how it’s done, because they are two different persons.
          An institutionalized form of artificially induced schizophrenia.

          Cat thinks this is wrong, and Ruler is the Wearer of the Crown, or at least must be – ergo, to wear the Crown rightfully one must change to become a Ruler, otherwise the whole country will suffer consequences; and if one separates two roles – that person must be kept as far away from the Crown as possible.

          Usual separation of a Person and a Crown is caused by the inherent conflict between the inhumane prerequisites needed to wear the Crown, and inescapable humanity of one who wears it.
          Person who without a shadow of doubt or hesitation will answer “yes” to your flipped question is the only one who is worthy to be allowed to rule. That person also will be universally despised – if not outright hated by the populus due to the utter unconcealable.inhumanity. But only utter inhumans can rule humans properly.

          There also are several major pit-traps on that rout due to parasitic feedback chains skewing the perception of the Ruler, and regulatory capture eventually distancing ruling class from the people they are supposed to rule to an impermissible degree. By strict sets of imposed rules *ghm*Constitution*ghm* a rigid cage can be formed to contain the metastasis – or, rather, suppress; by regular pruning of the ruling apparatus with a proper instrument a-la NKVD administrative evolution can be shaped – but only to a degree. All this can be mitigated, of course – all but the inherent nature of the people, without error eventually leading to rise of sun-kings and caligulas regardless of amount of contingencies and type of political structure.

          Cue the schism.

          Liked by 1 person

          • >Points of view.
            Catherine insists on bringing her personal morality into play where it neither belongs nor has historically been relevant, and where the setting actively works against her. This isn’t a point of view, this is Catherine being pedantic because she’s obsessed with self-flagellation. Akua isn’t literally saying that there are two different people involved. Akua is saying that you need to put aside what you want in order to do what you must.

            >ergo, to wear the Crown rightfully one must change to become a Ruler, otherwise the whole country will suffer consequences; and if one separates two roles – that person must be kept as far away from the Crown as possible
            A ruler isn’t a person. It’s not even a group of people. It’s an entity that has nothing to do with humans and so pretending that you can morph into one, even in your private life, is beyond stupid, and Catherine has already been confronted with that in the form of Kilian and Akua’s continued existence.

            >That person also will be universally despised – if not outright hated by the populus due to the utter unconcealed inhumanity.
            Says who? Historically, many “inhuman rulers” who were very capable leaders were beloved by the populace.

            >There also are several major pit-traps on that rout due to parasitic feedback chains skewing the perception of the Ruler, and regulatory capture eventually distancing ruling class from the people they are supposed to rule to an impermissible degree.
            Which is ironically what Catherine hates the most yet is also what Catherine thinks is necessary.

            >By strict sets of imposed rules *ghm*Constitution*ghm* a rigid cage can be formed to contain the metastasis – or, rather, suppress; by regular pruning of the ruling apparatus with a proper instrument a-la NKVD administrative evolution can be shaped – but only to a degree. All this can be mitigated, of course – all but the inherent nature of the people, without error eventually leading to rise of sun-kings and caligulas regardless of amount of contingencies and type of political structure.
            I don’t know what you’re trying to say here. I imagine it’s just promoting some constitutional structure or whatnot, though it still doesn’t matter.

            My point is that Catherine isn’t actually thinking about the argument, she’s dismissing it. Someone dismissing an argument without engaging with it means they’re either convinced they’re right or they know they’re wrong, and I really do doubt Catherine is as self-confident as she’s putting on.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I’ve just remember the scene in which Cordelia holds two different positions in an argument in the Highest Assembly – one as the First Prince, the other as the Princess of Rhenia. That doesn’t make her schizophrenic – it means she has to separate the affairs of her two different social positions for practical reasons. This is the perfect example of what Akua’s talking about – the separation of affairs. And she speaks sense, too – if the Praesi didn’t do this, they would quickly descend into the same murderfest that destroyed the Drow. Cat of course misunderstood, partly because Akua explained it rather poorly, but also because she didn’t want to understand.

            Liked by 1 person

            • While that scene doesn’t make her schizophrenic, it also only tangentially related to demonstrating the separation of Person and Crown. In that particular example she is a Person wearing two Crowns, and taking actions from behind, making that construct a singular entity.
              Now, if she was to enact her duties related to each of the Crowns in full and sooth, and such duties would go counter to each other – that would result in an early onset of the illness in question.
              Throw into that mix a notion of “what needed to be done” antithetic to her interests as a living woman, and most of her will would go into mending the schism that will break and devour her otherwise. “Woman wearing a Queenly mask” trope was born not out of idle speculation.

              Now, as for separation itself. Pragmatic reasons, you say. Well – yes. While it is, indeed, crucial to proper functioning of the Seat, it is also unreachable due to inescapable inherent nature of the ruler. Without the separation, Person would be unable to wear the Crown properly, with separation the Crown will break the Person. Schism between the “want” and “need” will break a person, make no mistake. But as people are generally pretty malleable, some compromise between the Person and a Crown is struck – usually with some supportive measures like the codes of honor and laws, or external regulatory organ with proper mandate, be it overly-enthusiastic Cheka commissars, or random impotent qahal a-la constitutional court.
              Cue the artificially induced schizophrenia. Its host may be high-functioning, but it still is there. And if there are none, that would mean that there are no separation, and – usually – needs of the Crown are dominated by wants of the Wearer, with corruption train inbound. Outside of that stream of nonsense, person routinely separating its two personalities of, well, the Person and the Crown-wearer is prone to fall into “it’s not me” pit-trap, when selfish “needs” of the Person bleeds into the domain of the Crown without conscious intent to do so – which is usually explained away as “I hate you personally, but this is of no consequence – for the King is not me, so you will be executed for totally unrelated crimes before the Crown”.

              Outside regulators are not panacea, as it is, for they are bound to suffer from regulatory capture, becoming compleately useless; or – depending on their mandate – either displacing the ruling organ in all but name, or creating a political machine(s) to puppeteer it.

              All this is mitigated in modern structures by limiting time allotted for the Crown-wearing to alleviate the stress, or/and breaking the Crown into little pieces and creating bureaucratic institute complex enough to make the ruling organ useless, therefore delegating the process of decision-making to lower level positions where stresses caused by the schism between “need” and “want” are significantly less profound.

              There is a way, however, to eliminate the need for such schizophrenic measures compleately. It is optimal and efficient, if overly idealistic.
              It is, also, compleately inapplicable in concurrent human society due to the inherent nature of humanity being, well, inherent.
              I am talking about person changing to such a degree, that Person’s “wants” will become Crown’s “needs”. As long as humans remain humans this solution will be unfeasible and unapplicable in any way, shape, or form – and currently implemented artificially induced schizophrenia will remain implemented simply because it works and we have no better working solution.

              Teal deer: for all her pragmatism Cat comes as highly idealistic in this exchange. She doesn’t “does not want to understand” – as I see it – but rather “doesn’t want to accept”. Would she be able to do it, finds a way to remain idealist, or there will be something compleately different – only time and EE know.

              Also, you saying “schizophrenia” as it is something bad. Artificially induced paranoia is crucial for the proper functioning of any regulatory organ, mind you. Why other mental mindphuks must be subjected to such prejudices?..

              Liked by 1 person

        • I loved reading your reply.

          I think it’s worth noting, this argument didn’t take place in a vacuum but between Heiress and the Queen of Winter. This does imply a certain regidity of thinking you would not have with say two moral philosophers.

          But regardless, I am still of the opinion that Cat was justified in dismissing the argument. Consider the context, the reason they are debating the nature of rulers is that Akua is defending the Praesi. A people who find it normal to follow mad men and summon reality corrupting demons. Further, Akua has suspect motives in this situation.

          Considering this backdrop, any fallacy in an argument makes the already suspect words fall apart. Akua sacrificed an entire city full of people for power after all.

          Out of context, simply looking at the idea separately… Well, I definitely appreciate your point. I still find I agree with Cat’s side in this discussion but it does take further thought to reach that conclusion.


          • Why, thank you, dear.

            Also – yep, outside of pure speculation nothing exists in vacuum, and if someone wants to interpret words in a certain way – it will be done, be the fallacy real or perceived. Especially in ideologically influenced arguments.

            >it does take further thought
            *silently tips budenovka*


        • I really disagree on those 3, all of them are what they are through her, and would be diminished without her. Yes, even Black. Though I see the possibility of she loosing to one of the big monsters, like Ranger, Masego or a Dread Emperor… To bad we don’t have a dread emperor competition :V And I’d really enjoy studying history at Praes, full of strange and interesting occurances.


          • The fact that some characters’ arcs are dependent on the protagonist doesn’t automatically make the protagonist more popular than them. Characters don’t exist in a vacuum – the protagonist is shaped by those around them as much as the other way around. It’s true that Hakram and Black would be dimnished without Cat, but at the same time Cat would be equally dimnished without them.


  13. I wonder if Cat could “borrow” part of the Tower. Just cut the top half off and drop it near Liesse. Maybe make Malicia buy it back, or offer it to the Tyrant and the Dead King.


  14. There’s a book, I believe it’s called Guns, Germs, and Steel, I haven’t read it but I had to watch a documentary about it one of my history classes… but I digress. Basically it explains why we have the world powers we do based off of the resources, basically how much food we can grow in an area, what kind of domesticated animals we have been exposed to (which includes what diseases we have been exposed to since many come from animals), and what metals we can mine in the area. It’s what the book claims to seperate the haves and have nots of the world.

    But imagine the kind of world Cat could make by moving all those resources around?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Just so you know, Guns, Germs, and Steel is a lot of repeating things we already knew and a good amount of shoehorning (it tries to fit China to the pattern at one point and immediately ignores the fact that it doesn’t really fit the pattern after the 1400s) and desperate preemptive refutations of racism (way too much of the damn book is taken up by his gushing over Papua New Guineans and how they’re actually super intelligent possibly more than everyone else, it makes you feel like he’s never been to a rural area). Diamond isn’t a historian and it shows quite a damn lot. It’s not a laughingstock book since its claims aren’t straight up false, but it’s looked upon poorly in historical scholarship.

      >But imagine the kind of world Cat could make by moving all those resources around?
      A world with trade? You know like what happened historically? That’s what it amounts to, really. That and large-scale irrigation projects with knock-on effects that will make Anthropocene climate change look glacially paced in comparison.

      Liked by 4 people

      • In fairness, though, it’s one of the better pop history books that a person can cite – most other books talking about history targeting the general public are… Of unfortunately low quality. Either reinforcing popular myths, obsessed with debunking popular myths to the point that they forget to talk about actual history, or pushing some kind of personal agenda. It’s not great, but a layperson would still gain some useful insight after they read it.

        I wouldn’t bring up GGS when talking to an actual historian, mind you, but I also wouldn’t start cringing the way that I would if someone brought up certain other books…


    • I think that all Calernias Villains will return along with That One Empress in some kind of All Hells Break Lose moment, partly because Below isn’t doing a lot and that would screw over literaly everybody on continent


  15. Cat, don’t pretend you know anything about having an abusive parent, the only one you ever had is like the furthest opposite from that possible 😡

    Akua’s opinion is… very person-like


  16. Umm… Cat. Couldnt Theif “summon” fortifications too? Maybe to a lesser degree. I mean she did produce a whole fleet in an instant.

    Im wondering why no-one has considered all the ways that aspect of Thiefs could be abused.


  17. How unfortunate. Cat is making such incredible advancements in new fields of magic, and yet Masego is nowhere nearby. She’ll have to tell him all about Lakeomancy when they reunite.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. After some thinking I realized that they most frustrating job in existance is to be a hero that has to kill Irritant. May the Gods be mercyfull with them, couse clearly wasnt


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