Chapter 12: Relief

“After Isabella the Mad was appointed to the command of the hosts of Procer to turn back the forces of the Tyrant Theodosius, the First Prince asked of her when she expected the war to be brought to a successful conclusion. ‘It should take,’ she famously replied, ‘about a hundred battles.'”
– Extract from ‘The Banquet of Follies, or, A Comprehensive History of the First League War’ by Prince Alexandre of Lyonis

It was around half an hour before Noon Bell that we got close enough to Sarcella to get a decent idea of what was happening inside. Well, aside from the fire. That one had been pretty obvious even from miles away, which in my surprisingly extensive experience of setting fire to things wasn’t a good sign for the people in the area. As it turned out the city of Sarcella itself was, well, almost offensively Proceran. How anyone could bother to shell out coin for an elaborate ring of ogre-tall statues and arches around their city but not a proper curtain wall was beyond me. Oh, sure, whoever that tall bald man in furs with a sword was might be nicer to look at on a sunny day, but that was the kind of thinking that got you invaded by the Legions of Terror. The damned things were granite, too, which I vaguely remembered being one of the cheaper stones floating around Principate markets. Bastards hadn’t even been able to afford marble or limestone, had they? There was still a tax on granite back from the days of House Fairfax, I was pretty sure, though it wouldn’t have been applied in over forty years – trade with Procer had understandably hit something of a low point after the Conquest. I supposed the saving grace of the whole affair was that granite statues would at least take more than a single glancing trebuchet shot before breaking.

Still, for all that at least Sarcella was slightly more defensible than I’d expected. It’d been raised on a few lazily-sloped hills, so there was some incline to work with, and unlike the flammable nightmare maze that had been Rochelant this city had a few paved and relatively straight avenues for troop deployment. Some parts of the outer city had houses of wood and stone clustered so tightly together they were impassable, a wall in fact if not in name. I couldn’t quite get a look at the furthest reaches of Sarcella, but it looked like it’d been the same parts of it burning for most of our march: with a little luck, the flames had run into row stone houses or a ditch of some sort. I really hoped it’d been accident, to be honest, because if it wasn’t odds were it’d been Nauk giving the order and if that was the case I might be responsible in a broader, metaphysical sense. Well, it was my army, but aside from that I doubted Rat Company officers had been so prone to tactical arson before they’d come under my command. Aside from Robber, anyway, who in these matters did not count since he was both a goblin and a sapper – the moment he’d chosen that career track at the War College he’d grown beyond saving. Regardless, most of the southeastern corner of the city was a hellscape of flames and smoke but it wasn’t spreading much further out. Which had done absolutely nothing to prevent the inhabitants of Sarcella from fleeing in a panic.

That was even more obvious than the fire, in a way, because the Procerans were crowding the road out Sarcella like a massive flock of startled birds. There were at least five or six thousand civilians streaming out of the city, with more behind, and they were moving at a slug’s pace. Few of them had carts to carry their possessions, and those that did got stuck on the muddy road out more often than not. The overwhelming majority were carrying everything they could of what they owned in bags or tied on their backs, a roiling exodus of people and goods. Some were even dragging furniture, with a least one very nice armoire put on planks and dragged by two middle-aged men. Probably the most expensive thing they owned, I mused. The river of fleeing Procerans filled the road in full, moving forward sluggishly, and as my gaze lingered on the armoire I realized why they’d been allowed to drag even furniture out of the danger. General Rumena caught up to me after I reined in my horse ahead of the first fleeing civilians, our six thousand warriors still further behind.

“This is madness,” the old drow said, eyes contemptuous as it watched the civilians. “Why was this allowed to happen?”

“Because Nauk’s tactical acumen has improved,” I replied. “Watch the city’s sides, Tomb-Maker.”

He caught what I had quickly enough. Levantine light cavalry out in the snow, at least a thousand on either side. Not massing for an assault, at the moment – if I had to guess, there’d be crossbows and spikes awaiting them at every street large enough for a charge. But if I were the enemy commander, I’d keep them there to force those crossbow companies into remaining there where they weren’t shooting at my soldiers. Maybe strengthen the cavalry numbers when things got heated on the main front enough that a simultaneous charge on both sides could serve as the killing blow for the entire Callowan army. Having to watch both sides as well as the city’s back, where the avenues where the largest and most open, would have been a waste of soldiers. So I was thinking Nauk had encouraged the Procerans to flee with their possessions, neatly filling that space with scared civilians the Levantines couldn’t ride down without starting the kind of major diplomatic incident that’d send cracks going down the Great Alliance. I was honestly impressed with my general. He’d never been a fool, but his cleverness had always been a military one. It now seemed his thinking had expanded to other theatres. Unfortunately, at the moment his clever trick was also preventing us from reinforcing him quickly. I weighed down my options in silence.

I could probably scatter the crowd with some application of Night, but should I? That’d be leaving a hole in Nauk’s defensive perimeter, most likely. There’d be enough of a risk I’d have to leave drow behind to hold that territory, and considering the size of those cavalry contingents it would have to be at least two thousand warriors. Light horse or not the Firstborn just weren’t used to facing down cavalry charges, and they lacked the bows, pikes and discipline to be naturals at turning them back. Slipping in through one of the flanks would take longer, though. Maybe an hour or so, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to take that risk without a better notion of how the fight for the city was going. There was no point in arriving neatly if the delay cost us the battle. And that the fight was going, there was no doubt about that – I could make out the command horns and the faint sound of screams and steel even from where I sat. There was nothing quite as catastrophically loud as a hard battle, was there? Clenching my fingers, I spit to the side.

“Rumena, pick out two thousand warriors,” I said.

“Will you be spitting on them as well, First Under the Night?” the old drow drily asked.

“That one’s a bit of a stretch,” I replied without missing a beat. “Careful with those, you know your back’s not what it used to be.”

“At least one of us should live to reach old age,” Rumena smoothly retorted.

Damn it. Was it really too much to ask to get the last word against it even once? The fact that my bloody goddesses were quite literally crowing in the back of my head at this most recent of defeats only made it worse. My eyes flicked ahead. It wouldn’t be long before the first fleeing Procerans arrived in shouting distance, but I’d have the drow at my side before it came to that. I yelled at Rumena to fetch me Robber while it was at it, watching it stroll away to carry out my orders. I looked up at the noon sky, that vast spread of blue without a single cloud to temper the glare of the sun. It was good fighting weather, I thought. Mild for a winter day, and the snow might thaw a bit if it kept up. Twin shadows flickered into sight, gliding down with lazy grace, and I turned my eyes back to the Procerans as the crow-shaped slivers of godhood landed on my shoulders. They ran their metaphysical fingers down the spine of my thoughts, partaking of my intent.

“First time I ever saw Black use the trick, I wasn’t sure it was one,” I mused. “The second time, though? I promise myself I’d make it my own one day.”

“Not a subtle tool,” Andronike said.

“Yet versatile,” Komena opined.

We left it at that, for now. General Rumena came back holding a wiggling Robber by the scruff of the neck – impressive, considering it was day and my Special Tribune still had his armour on – before offering him up like some kind of furious green cat.

“Get on,” I said, cutting in before the goblin could complain. “There’s a war on, Tribune. Rumena, tell our warriors to stick close to me and not spread out.”

“As in all things your guidance is paramount, Losara Queen,” it replied.

I detected the faintest hint of sarcasm in that, due to my unparalleled courtly sentivities.

“Wait, you speak Lower Miezan?” Robber hissed out. “You prick, you pretended you-”

I cleared my throat, and with ill-grace the goblin scampered onto the back of my mount. I patiently watched until my six thousand drow formed into a rough column. The vanguard of the fleeing civilians had finally noticed our presence and distant shouts in Chantant and Tolesian sounded. Some angry, some curious, some afraid. I could have tried to engage, but to be frank I didn’t have the time to be gentle about this.

“Follow,” I called in Crepuscular.

My staff of ebony rose, and I reached for the Night. The Sisters helped me shape it, refine my intent and cut away the impurities until all that was left was fear. I felt Robber stiffen behind me, then almost defiantly loosen his limbs and grip. Zombie started at a gallop without further ado and the drow followed behind me.

With screams of blind terror, the inhabitants of Sarcella parted like the sea.

It was a simple enough working that maintaining it wasn’t too much of a strain, especially with the guidance of the Sisters, but I was noticeably tired by the time we reached the tall arch that was the broadest entrance into the city. There’d been a few incidents making our way down the road, civilians who reacted to even supernatural terror with aggression, but they were beaten down and thrown to the side without any deaths involved. One drow was nicked by a wildly flailing sausage knife and was loudly mocked by the rest of its sigil for the rest of the walk, but that was the closest thing to a casualty we incurred. To my approval, the sight of my army approaching by the largest road into the city was met with hastily assembled palisade and at least half a hundred crossbows. From atop my horse I could even see messengers running further in to ask for reinforcements. I rode up ahead of the drow, allowing the fear to die and my shoulders to loosen. I felt like I’d run a footrace – in a metaphysical instance where both my legs were still in good shape, it should be said – but I was tired and not exhausted. Tired I could work with. It was old hand to me. The Sisters took flight before we were hailed, more interested in taking a look at the killing than staying around for the formalities.

“Close enough, stranger,” an officer called out from atop the palisade. “Identify yourself. This city has been seized by the Kingdom of Callow, in the name of Her Majesty Catherine Foundling – are you friend or foe to her?”

I cocked my head to the side. A mop of blond hair could be made out from under the helmet, and that was definitely a Liessen accent tainting the hail spoken in very shaky Chantant.

“Yes, Boss,” Robber murmured, sounding utterly delighted. “Are you friend or foe to Her Majesty? I think a case can be made for both. Tough call to make, really.”

“You’re talking to her, lieutenant,” I called back in Lower Miezan. “Split those palisades and take me to General Nauk.”

“Come off it,” the Liessen laughed. “You’re way too short. If you’re the bloody Black Queen then I’m Empress of Procer.”

Blowing up the palisade was not an acceptable response, I reminded myself. It was my palisade, technically speaking, so it was doubly beneath me to do so. Robber shook convulsively behind me, trying not to cackle out loud. There was some talk coming from out of sight, behind the palisade, then a goblin’s head popped over the edge. I squinted. I’d seen that one before, though I couldn’t put a name to the face. He was one of Robber’s officers.

“Captain Borer,” the ingrate gargoyle behind me provided, still snickering.

“Open the way immediately,” the goblin ordered. “Your Majesty, welcome back.”

I inclined my head in thanks. The Empress of Procer turned white as a sheet. I barked out orders in Crepuscular for the drow to follow me in good order, then put Zombie to a trot as the wooden fortifications were dragged open. Captain Borer, unlike his commanding officer, snapped a textbook-perfect salute when I approached. There were less than a hundred soldiers here, most of them crossbowmen, though I suspected with the runners I’d seen move out earlier that was about to change. I glanced at the still-pale Liessen lieutenant, who’d joined the throng of officers gathering around me, and cocked an eyebrow.

“Your Highness,” I drily said. “What a surprise to find you here.”

He forced out a shaky laugh, but ended up choking on it for trying to swallow nervously while keeping it up.

“Who’s in command here?” I asked.

There were lieutenants and sergeants here, but no one any higher up the ladder. Unusual.

“That would be me, Your Majesty,” Captain Borer replied. “I am the sole captain of this front.”

Not a good sign, I thought. Not only was the goblin a sapper, he was part of Robber’s cohort – which was detached from the usual chain of command, by my personal authority. Sappers were usually passed over in favour of the closest same-rank officer when it came to combined commands, which was hinting at a severe officer shortage.

“You’re relieved, Captain,” I said. “Behind me are foreign troops from the Empire Ever Dark, to be considered auxiliaries for the duration of this battle. They’ll be holding the area in your place. Robber?”

The goblin leapt down with unnatural agility, landing with a flourish.

“Boss?” he asked.

“Gather your full cohort, then join me wherever the general staff has set up,” I ordered. “Captain Borer, I’ll need you to appoint a liaison to the drow. At their head is General Rumena, who’ll be advancing deeper into the city with four thousand infantry. Have it led at a location allowing for easy deployment to the fronts.”

“I’ll see it done, ma’am,” the goblin saluted.

There was a shudder of whispers through the assembled officers, looks were cast at the grey-skinned warriors still advancing towards the arch. The drow in the front ranks were looking back, looking distinctly unimpressed by the first human city most them had encountered.

“Merciful Gods,” a tall, dark-haired man with sergeant stripes said. “Drow. I thought they were stories.”

“Stories start from something, sergeant,” I amusedly said. “And our friends came out from the Everdark to fight on our side. Do pass the word along that they can be rather touchy, though. It’d be best if a little distance was kept.”

The stares I got at that made me rather uncomfortable. It was just a handful of officers, I thought, already part of my army anyway. And still I wondered if there’d be as much awe on their faces, if they knew how badly botched and misguided my journey into the Everdark truly had been. I doubted it. All they saw was old stories with strange weapons and eerie eyes come to swell our ranks. Shaking my head, I dismissed the thought.

“I’ll need someone to guide me to the general staff,” I said. “Is General Nauk holding command from there, or has he gone to the front?”

The awe was gone, whisked away in a heartbeat.

“Ma’am,” Captain Borer quietly said. “General Nauk no longer holds command. He was killed last night when the assault began. Legate Abigail is the current commanding officer.”

I was in front of my soldiers, I couldn’t show weakness. And still I closed my eyes. Breathe in, breathe out. Control. You can grieve when the city’s no longer burning, when your people are no longer fighting. He’d not been the same man I had called my friend, but I’d come to hope… Hope is always dangerous, I remembered. My eyes opened and my voice came out calm.

“I will need a guide, regardless,” I said. “Let’s get to it.”

I pulled my hood over my head, then Zombie impatiently stepped into the avenue and away from my officers. Thirty heartbeats later, I had my guide and I rode the city with dried eyes.

Pittance that it was, it was all I could afford to spare.

The high command for what I’d been informed was currently being called the ‘Third Army’ – presumably Juniper’s four separate columns each having been granted such a number – was clearly buckling under the weight of its responsibilities. It’d been a mansion, once, though clearly a wealthy merchant’s and not a noble’s as it was near the heart of Sarcella and not one of the more rarefied quarters. The location had been well-chosen, close to most of the arteries of the city and so easy to get messages to and from. I was ushered through a parade of wide eyes and gasps, until I reached what must have been the war room. It was at the very highest of the mansion, with broad windows overlooking the parts of the city either currently fought over or burning down. My attention, though, lingered on the fact that there were too few people here. A few aides, a few messengers, mages and hornblowers. But the actual officers? Less than ten. There were more tables loaded with scrolls and maps than there were people above the rank of tribune in here, which was stark statement as to the state of the Third Army. The presumed commanders saluted tiredly when I entered, obviously warned in advance, but I noticed the gaze of several brighten at the sight of me. I offered a smile, and turned to the only person in the room wearing a legate’s insignia.

Legate Abigail, I realized with a start, was younger than me. Barely twenty, by the looks of her. I’d come across her once or twice before Akua’s Folly, and later Juniper mentioned her to me before as the woman who’d drowned the incipient riots in Laure through strategic use of the royal palace’s cellars. She’d had a field promotion to legate after that, so she’d have the authority to keep the capital in order, but I was surprised the Hellhound had chosen to confirm the promotion afterwards. At most I’d expected her to move up from senior tribune to commander, after an actual legate relieved her. Were we really that hard up for high-ranking officers? I set aside the worry for now, looking over the younger woman discretely. Her black hair was slightly longer than Legion regulations allowed, but acceptably so for a foreign campaign. Sunburnt cheeks, watery blue eyes and a delicate nose. She had dark rings around her eyes like she hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in much too long, quite visibly exhausted. She was taller than me, I noted, but then who wasn’t?

“Your Majesty,” the legate croaked out in that thick Summerholm accent. “Gods, am I glad to see you.”

The general staff around her really was absurdly sparse, and what remained was in rough shape. There was a senior mage – Soninke, it’d be years before any Callowan was fit for that command – with a face whose rosiness betrayed recent mage healing and a staff tribune missing her right arm up to the elbow, but that was it. No senior sapper, no kachera or supply tribune. Two commanders, and one large orc tribune, but that was no proper general staff. What the Hells had happened here?

“Legate Abigail,” I replied with a nod. “Our drow allies found Special Tribune Robber’s tenth, and I hurried a march here with a first wave of six thousand reinforcements. I’m beginning to suspect the situation is worse than what was described to me.”

A few mirthless smiles bloomed at that.

“It’s a bloody mess, Your Majesty,” Legate Abigail said. “General Nauk swatted their first probe on Sarcella and the vanguard drew back, so we figured they were waiting for the rest of the army. But then they attacked last night, completely out of the blue. We think some noble showed up, riled them up for it.”

“Are you saying Nauk and the rest of his senior officers were lost on the frontlines?” I frowned.

“Them Dominion priests hit a meeting of the general staff,” she replied. “Lanterns, I think they’re called. One moment it’s night, then it’s bloody Light everywhere and most the room is dead. I was looking into a supply discrepancy so they didn’t get me and Oakes-”

“Legate Oakes,” the orc at her side provided in a gravelling voice.

“-Legate Oakes was walking the perimeter, so he didn’t get hit either,” Legate Abigail seamlessly adjusted.

I hid my amusement at the interaction, and the habitual ease it had come with.

“You’re senior to this Legate Oakes?” I asked.

“By a day, ma’am,” the woman ruefully replied. “Marshal Juniper said we were to serve under General Nauk and Legate Jwahir for proper blooding.”

She paused.

“I guess we did get that, in the end,” she darkly said.

Well, wasn’t this a mess. It wasn’t like I had another commander to pull out of my sleeve – Rumena was arguably the most veteran, but it had not familiarity with Legion tactics and was needed to keep the drow orderly besides – so she’d have to do. I could take command myself, sure, but if this was as bad as it sounded like I’d be needed in the thick of it.

“Then you’ve just received a field promotion, General Abigail,” I grimly replied. “Congratulations. Now tell me how deep into the dark we are and, while we’re at it, why the Hells this city is on fire.”

157 thoughts on “Chapter 12: Relief

    1. He was ripe for a name, the Burnt Berserk, the Hollow, or here hoping he is revived once more, as in three times alive, Nauk the Undying. There is still a chance at least in this universe.

      He would therefore be like Urgot or Sion. My favorite champs.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Argentorum

        I’m still waiting for her to turn out to be Malicia’s spy or the Bard or something.

        You don’t bite off a Fae’s jugular with your teach and drink it’s blood without having something else up your sleeve.

        Liked by 6 people

  1. Skaddix

    Abigail keeps climbing the ranks. Awfully convenient though that she just happened to be out of range of the attack. Seems odd with scrying down that the Priests would know where the General Council was meeting and be able to strike so effective. Maybe they got a few Heroes with them and/or maybe we got some spys. Abigail does seem surprisingly competent and I tend to be suspicious of rapid risers.

    RIP NAUK. Also appears Cat hasn’t told Indrani about Masego yet so that could be a problem.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Allafterme

      Abigail is like Ciaphas Cain HERO OF IMPERIUM expy which means two things:

      1. Bountiful field promotions, especially when she didn’t want them
      2. She is to be considered alive, even with contrary evidence.

      Liked by 23 people

    2. Hardric62

      Eh. Tavi got lucky in Codex Alera too, I ddidn’t complain then, see no reason to complain here either.
      Except for the ‘Nauk is dead’ part and the (again) blatant hypocrisy of Good. But I don’t expect this to go unanswered for long.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Skaddix

        I don’t know an honest to god precision strike to take out the leadership sounds pretty Good as far as these things go. They hit the leadership and nothing else, brilliant decapitation strike. My question are more how they actually knew where to aim.

        Liked by 12 people

        1. Aotrs Commander

          Sounds like absolutely textbook adventurer “scry-and-die” tactics, to me. (More hazy on the “scry” part with stuff being interfered with, but the principle is the same.)

          Knobbling the Evil Enemy High Command is exactly the sort of thing I’d expect from the good guys, even *actual* Good guys and not the substitute that pretends it is from Above. (And the bad guys. And the neutral guys. Any the “has even a modicum to tactical acumen” guys.)

          It’s just good (in the compartive, not in moral sense) tactics, and, if it works, hopefully forces the other guys to surrender without uncessary bloodshed, which is beneficial on the moral level (if you’re Good and you care about that) and the practical (whether you’re good or not).

          Liked by 10 people

          1. naturalnuke

            Thing is that with their policy of killing greenskins no one is going to just surrender.

            Battles of annihilation make people fight to the last because that’s the outcome either way and spite is a powerful motivator.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. How is it hypocritical? Catherine did the exact same thing back before the Battle of the Camps. You can’t really argue that Nauk isn’t a legitimate military target and if anything killing the leaders of an ‘Evil’ army is more morally defensible than slaughtering ordinary soldiers.

        Liked by 12 people

          1. RanVor

            What infuriates me the most in the side of Good is that they’re somehow okay with using morally dubious methods to win, but when the other side does the same, it’s suddenly Blasphemy and Vile Trickery. Come on, guys, either stick to your own principles, or stop shitting at others for not sticking to them.

            Liked by 4 people

                    1. RanVor

                      Not at all. It’s just that you can’t be truly good and engage in shady politics at the same time. So either the information that they’re behind the whole Arch-Heretic deal is simple slander, or they aren’t as pure as they want people (and, by extension, us) to believe, and I strongly suspect it’s the latter.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. I mean I never expected that the Lanterns are pure white. It doesn’t reflect on the ideals of Good, though, just on the people following them with all the hypocrisy and imperfection of y’know people?

                      Like

                    3. I mean you’re allowed whatever.

                      But we have 0 evidence that the people who made this (rather prudent both tactically and morally) decision intersect in any way with people who made that decision.

                      The point I’m talking in circles around is that the side of Good is not a hivemind. This is like saying ‘why can’t women decide on what they want’ because one woman loves McDonalds and another hates it and loves sushi. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s different people having different viewpoints.

                      Even within the same faction – like the Lanterns – the people making political decisions and the people on the frontlines are… likely to be different people. IMHO.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    4. RanVor

                      We have zero evidence that they’re any different either. But I wasn’t talking about them. I was talking about a particular view that seems to be very prevalent on the side of the Heavens, namely “we are allowed to go as far as it takes to win, but when they do that, it’s abhorrent”.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. This is the thing: who, exactly, has expressed both parts of that view? Like there are people who say ‘the other side does that and is abhorrent’ while politely overlooking their own side doing the same and there are people who say ‘we go as far as it takes to win’ and look at goals and not methods of the opposing side either.

                      Liked by 1 person

                1. caoimhinh

                  Well, to be fair, she IS a villain who bullied an Angel into giving her reincarnation and became a Fae-like being with high necromantic powers. So she was pretty close to what any of the heaven fanatics would call and abomination. Now she even made a deal with the Ever Dark, we know her reasons and the inside story, people from the outside wouldn’t see her actions as anything good, even leaving behind the obvious politics that were at play in that decision (and Bard’s involvement, as she was hinted talking with Saint of Swords at the holy see of Procer’s church).

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. RanVor

                    To be even fairer, she never did anything to them, or even anyone else they care about. They’re targeting her out of simple prejudice and are so full of themselves they won’t even let her explain herself, but that’s to be expected, considering they’re religious fanatics. What shouldn’t be expected is them deciding to declare her the Arch-Heretic over obviously more Evil and hostile Malicia for no real reason other than to spite her.

                    Liked by 2 people

                    1. I don’t think Cat was declared Arch-Heretic by people who understood the situation. Or cared about what it really was, considering Saint of Swords had a hand in that and she’s only too well known for violence against authority she doesn’t like.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    2. RanVor

                      It’s a simple fucking common sense that the Tyrant in the Tower is the archest of all Arch-Heretics in the East. So common, in fact, that most people didn’t even realize it’s possible for someone else to be branded the Arch-Heretic. Which means they had to dig up some obscure regulations to even justify holding a conclave over it. Something like that is not done on a whim.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. Skaddix

                      I think Pilgrim stated it best Cat is Arch Heretic because she is shifting the Balance of Power by shifting Callow to the Gods Below. Praes will always be Evil. But Callow switching teams from Good to Evil represents a permanent shift (or multiple century at least) in the Balance of Power that cannot be allowed. So there is something metaphysical about Good and Evil.

                      Now Saint did it more cause she thinks the whole system is corrupt and wants a New World Order. The Good Nations are not Good Enough for her. And while Named don’t tend to rule Good Countries, they can certainly exert a great deal of influence. As both Saint and Pilgrim have taken out Good Leaders with no repercussions. About the only restriction on Heroes seems to be killing other Heroes.

                      As for Gods Above and Below they don’t really exercise as much direct influence people think. As shown Callow Priests and Procer Priests split the religion but the Gods Above didn’t take away all healing from Callow. So there are some rules on how directly the Gods on either side can interact. Angels and Demons and Devils have a great deal more Freedom to act on the material plane. Gods need certain conditions to do anything hence why the Bard does most of the work.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. konstantinvoncarstein

                      From their perspective, Callow was ruled by an immortal, evil no-more-human being, who had already bullied an Angel. Personally, I would not want to have that on my continent.

                      Furthermore, this kind of actions is that of “classical” Evil. And there is no negotiation possible with that.

                      Liked by 2 people

  2. “General Nauk no longer holds command. He was killed last night when the assault began. “

    Can we get a big F for that off-screen death. Poor Nauk, first he dies, then Warlock resurrects him as a shell of his former personality. and then he gets blown up by a holy-magic powered bomb.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Aotrs Commander

      I think that is one critism that I have of the Guide is I have the impression that ErracticErrata does seem to have a little bit of squeemishness about actually *showing* protagonist-side characters dying. It’s happened basically every time (bar Warlock) – Nilin, Captain, Ratface (and the rest of the council) and now Nauk. One or twice is co-incidence (or made sense in context, given the narrative being from Cat’s PoV a lot of the time), but considering the cut-aways from other viewpoints, it has at this point formed a bit of a pattern of tell, not show with these deaths and I think that does those characters a disservice. If die they must (and I am often very vocually against gratutious or unnecessary character death, let it be noted), the emotional impact ought to be properly felt by the reader (as we got with Warlock) – at least some of the time. I don’t expect it all the time, of course (doing any one narrative thing to excess is problematic[1]), but, as I say, at this point, we have had a bit of a pattern.

      [1]Except Cat’s snark, that’s impossible to have too much of.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Milpool

        Yea, this is starting to get into a bit of a rut for a series that supposed to be all about clever awareness of story tropes. How many other beloved old characters are we going to have die off-screen with little to no explanation and no fanfare? I love the series, but this is starting to get a little frustrating. There’s no satisfaction, no closure in it. They’re just, whoop, gone one day.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. caoimhinh

        Yeah, it’s really annoying at this point.
        I mean, taking the case of Ratface for an example, we didn’t need an epic battle or long narrative making us feel that we’ll miss Ratface (And EE has already proven he can do that even with a previously unknown character, like in the case of Cordelia’s cousin who died fighting the Dead King).
        With half a chapter showing Ratface (and maybe the rest of the council) doing his work, and suddenly being surrounded by assassins and ending at that, it would create anticipation, an emotional built up for when Cat receives the news. Instead what we got is Cat arriving somewhere and someone says “hey, this person is dead.” characters being written off in such manner as if they were irrelevant, feels anticlimactic, annoying, and does a disservice to the characters. If characters must die, it should be done in a better way than the “hey, did you know? he died” treatment that so many have received.

        Liked by 3 people

          1. caoimhinh

            I don’t know about that, though I really wish he would add that, but he doesn’t even edit chapters here to fix the typos we point out in the comments, so I don’t know if he would make such major changes in the printed version.

            Like

              1. caoimhinh

                I disagree.
                It’s never pointless to fix typos. If there are mistakes they should be fixed, the very point of a draft is to be edited and errors fixed before publication. Even if what we are reading here now is not what he will publish later on, it’s weird to not fix the typos or inconsistencies (Like Cat’s bad leg that for some chapters was the right, in others the left, then dropped specifying at all, later said to have been healed by angelic resurrection but brought back by fae transformation and then again said that fae transformation had healed it but Cat giving up Winter brought back her bad leg).
                Errors should be fixed as soon as they are found, even if he wants to make a new version for printing, it’s still for the best if he takes this (the base material) with as few errors as possible, and it also makes it more pleasurable for future readers of this version too.

                Like

                  1. Andrew Mitchell

                    I’ve got to agree with you here Liliet.

                    EE is committed to 13 chapters a month. And of consistently good storytelling too. That’s a HUGE output and it’s way, way more than most people ever produce. I know I could never do it…

                    If EE wants to keep up the momentum and save all the typo corrections for publication, then that’s absolutely fine by me.

                    Liked by 1 person

                  2. caoimhinh

                    True, but fixing the typos on a novel isn’t “doing more” for an author, and fixing the typos that readers point out is on his benefit in the long run, too.
                    As for consistency I think there are only 2 inconsistencies that I have noticed: Cat’s leg and Ime’s name (According to book 4 chapter 5 her name is Sabra Niri, with kinship to the High Lord of Okoro, but book 5’s Prologue calls her Lindimi Sahelian).

                    No one points out typos out of malice, readers just want the errors to be fixed so that the quality improves, but there are comments pointing out typos all the way back to volume 2 which haven’t been fixed. There’s no real justification for that, since those typos were pointed out the within 2 days of the chapters being released, and editing doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes.

                    Now, if he let dozens of chapters with typos accumulate, and then has to read through all of them to find and fix the typos before publishing a new version?THAT is what will be a lot of work.

                    I believe everyone who has read this series up until current chapters now loves it and is convinced of the amazing talent of EE, he delivers great chapters at an amazing pace (to the point where if a chapter is late we don’t get angry at him, but the comments start filling with people worried for him, since he is always punctual), but ignoring typos pointed out by readers is a bad decision/habit that should be changed, as it’s on the best interest of everyone to fix those as soon as possible.

                    Like

                    1. “True, but fixing the typos on a novel isn’t “doing more” for an author”
                      it literally is on a ‘what do I spend my time on’ level

                      Also, you know how the second draft is usually made compared to the first draft? It’s rewritten from scratch. You just scrap the first draft and write the entire thing anew. There IS no point to fixing typos.

                      Like

      3. luminiousblu

        Have you noticed that they’re ultimately unimportant side characters? Side or tertiary characters (Captain and Nilin were tertiary at best, don’t pretend otherwise, and Ratface dangles between tertiary and side leaning tertiary). Captain stopped being relevant in any way past book 1, Nilin was barely present during the half-book he existed, and Ratface is mostly relevant as a background “oh, he did something else again” sort of person.

        Killing them off quietly shows that they’re not supposed to register.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. There is probably no person in the story more qualified to meet that challenge than Rumena. They’ve spent the last millennia sassing demigods, spitting in the face of providence, and surviving a combative hellscape that genuinely outdoes the goblin warrens. Let Robber come. In the Tomb-Maker he has finally met his match.

        Liked by 10 people

            1. caoimhinh

              As I remember it, Indrani had Robber beaten by a huge margin, everyone of his attempts were met with her laughter, while she got on his nerves with every sentence.

              Rumena is just too cool in his way of doing things. He’s Lord of Sick Burns and Cool Replies XD

              Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, Nauk dying was inevitable.

    Abigail has done well for herself, though this is nothing like what she was expecting when she got her promotions.

    Huh. I thought it was sort of widely known that Cat was short. I suppose she grows in the telling and looms large in stories about what she’s done.

    Yeah, there’s no way anybody can blame Robber and his pyromanic and kleptomanic ways on you Cat. Not legitimately, anyways. Probably won’t stop some people from trying anyways.

    Also … the Lanterns can drop long ranged smites on people? That’s ungood. They’ll probably be priority targets when night comes.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. I doubt it was long range, the Lanterns are noted as warrior monks who regularly hunt monsters. It makes sense that they’re capable of stealth.

      In fairness morally speaking it’s no different from what Catherine did before the Battle of the Camps. Nauk was undeniably a legitimate target.

      Liked by 10 people

      1. So you’re saying the Lanterns didn’t need much range because Nauk and the troops with him are/were totally incompetent?

        They nuked a meeting of Nauk’s general staff and there was no warning. That sort of thing generally takes place all behind your lines in a secure and guarded area.
        To stealth their way in to hit it at short range, the Lanterns would have needed to bypass the Callowan lines, pickets, and patrols, plus get around the guards and patrols around the location where the meeting was taking place. Oh, and that’s not counting the magical defenses and alarms that would be around.

        Sorry, but I could perhaps buy a Hero or group of Heroes pulling something like that off, but not regular humans.
        So, IMO, the Lanterns had serious help from somebody/something (if only in knowing where and when to hit), or … they have a massively broader skillset of powers granted by Above than we thought they did, and probably broader than anybody on Cat’s side thought they did too.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Sylwoos

          Aren’t they the same guys who melted a mountain?

          Like it or not, it seem the Above’s priest hold power comparable to the Praesi mage and the not-quite-mighty drow (don’t remember their exact name). So far in the story, we’ve seen many group of human holding comparable power when working together, so nuking a tent isn’t exactly a unbelievable feat. We also saw quite a lot of long range attack, like when Diabolist mage put fake-cat in a box from the other side of a battlefield.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. My concern with the Lanterns successfully nuking the command tent isn’t that they could do it at range, it’s more the fact that they knew exactly when and where to strike, and we don’t have any prior indication that priests normally have scrying capabilities.
            I’m inclined to think that they probably needed and had some help with targeting, probably Named help, under the presumption that more direct intervention by Angels would have been noticeable, and that Above wouldn’t burn direct interference points on something so (relatively) minor.

            Liked by 2 people

              1. Ehhhh … I could see a spy for the Praesi (or some faction thereof) being in the Army of Callow, but I don’t see all that much likelihood of a spy for Levant or Procer. Remember, the Army of Callow is comprised of Callowans, former Legionaries, and a few straight from Praes recruits (mostly orcs and goblins) that signed on with Cat’s armies instead of the Legions.

                Besides, again, timing is an issue as well as the communications chain from the theorized spy to the Lanterns.
                Far more likely that they had help from some sort of Hero.

                Like

        2. luminiousblu

          The Lanterns sound like Clerics, and those are almost always presented as the equal of sorcerers or wizards. Their robes just have holy symbols instead of magic circles on them. If the Lanterns brought out say fifteen dozen dudes and fired a laser beam via ritual it seems plausible, especially since scrying is completely blocked off by priests.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. caoimhinh

      I feel like when Ratface died. It’s out of the blue and annoyingly anticlimatic.
      It’s one thing if they are shown fighting or given a scene to their deaths, instead of being in the back of the story for a few chapters and then suddenly Cat enters a room and someone says “And he’s dead”

      Although we can be optimistic and think Nauk might be just in a coma again or something, odds are he just got written off from the story just because EE felt like it, same as with Ratface.

      Like

      1. If we got a death scene for every meaningful death, there’d be far too many death scenes.

        And the tone would have shifted to ‘gee look how many heroic officers there are’ or ‘this is how people die’ which is not the point of the story.

        People aren’t forgotten after they die. I find that a far better treatment writing-wise than heroic death scenes.

        Liked by 7 people

        1. caoimhinh

          Every meaningful death should be shown as they are meaningful, they deserve a scene. They wouldn’t be too many scenes, it wouldn’t even take a whole chapter to show the last moments of the character. Even Istrid got a last scene showing her death (Unlike Afolabi and Orim who were at the same battle) but Ratface and Kendall got just “hey they got killed” and that’s it.

          Do you think that if Wekesa’s death had been off-screen would it have the same effect on us as readers?

          There’s a reason meaningful deaths are shown, it because they are MEANINGFUL.

          You are right that keeping the memory of a character alive is good and makes them influential beyond their deaths, but that’s not happening here, or else name one character that’s still actively mentioned or influencing things after they died. At the most is Cat’s ocasional mention or complaint about how things are harder to do now that Ratface is dead and that has happened no more than four times in the whole volume since he died.
          Akua is the only character that had remained influential after her death and that’s because she is still walking around as a shade.

          Like

          1. I think we have different definitions of influential. Sabah, Wekesa, Ratface all stayed in the narrative after being dead; Anne Kendall was an unfortunately minor character even when alive. Nilin actually got more impact after his death, from where I stand. Same for the poor Exiled Prince lmao.

            I’d say their deaths get to be plenty meaningful even without having to shoehorn a narrative progression into them. Wekesa’s death was epic and had a story in it, so it got shown onscreen; deaths that are just depressing don’t need that.

            Liked by 6 people

            1. Skaddix

              Sabah was offscreen so Bard could screw with Black. But also did we really want the heroine skinning her on page?

              Weseka was epic mostly cause you cannot really have a spellcaster go down without going all out and to drive Masego forward for a presumably Darker Arc.

              Cat is the Lead, the Woe/Akua are the next level down and the Calamities/Scribe/Malicia are another level down.

              But basically the issue is Cat’s wars have to have cost and that is shown in her former friends biting it but you cannot just off the Woe. So someone else has to pay since the point of the series is not really to glorify war.

              Liked by 3 people

              1. I’d say Wekesa’s bigger impact was his conversation with Tikoloshe.

                We did hear from Sabah right before her death, we just didn’t see the moment itself.

                And yeah, what you said re: why this is happening.

                Liked by 1 person

            2. caoimhinh

              I know what you mean, and I partially agree.
              Nilin’s death was used as a minor plot device, simply to show that Akua had lot of influence, though it also had the effect of making the readers have multiple emotions, which was pretty good. But even his death was shown and used better than most, as he was a casualty of a battle that was shown. Sabah’s case is werid because we saw everything up until she had practiaclly already won (Champion was beaten to a bloody pulp, broken bones and all Aspects exhausted while Sabah was in full form, with one Aspect left) and then it was “she died” which while narratively coherent in the way Bard expressed it, still makes little sense and was not finished well. If the last of the battle we had seen was Raphaella using her last Aspect, and then Amadeus found out Sabah died as explained by Bard, it would make more sense.

              The problem with the way so many deaths have been handled is the off-hand manner of just writing them off as “hey, he died” instead of at least building up to the event, or at least giving them a last scene that showed things. Even Killian who is the Senior Mage in the whole army under Masego, has been written off a bit after breaking off with Cat, despite being said that she is doing important things and even attending most of Cat’s general staff meeting she doesn’t have dialogues anymore, which is weird.

              Anyways, as it is now, those kinds of meaningful deaths being done in a meaningless way are a disservice to the characters and done willingly by the author, because we already know for certain that EE can make even a one-chapter-only character be badass and remembered, he could have make a good last scene for Ratface, Kendall, Nauk, etc.
              It doesn’t have to be epic, it can be depressing, but it should be shown something, or prepare a built up or anxiety for the uncertainty before the reveal.

              Like

              1. TBH Sabah had a huge death flag and it made perfect sense to find out later then she died. You might have noticed (or not) that at the start of the battle she comments that Champion’s form is mostly suited to fighting beasts, not humanoid armed opponents, and that’s why she has the advantage.

                And then she fucking forgets that and shifts into Beast like SABAH NO

                I knew that was a big SABAH NO when we were leaving her POV 😡

                Killian is a whole other kettle of fish yeah.

                But I’d say that Nauk’s death has been built up to by the very fact that they’re at war, that Nauk was heavily injured once already, and that he’s known as the best vanguard – the guy who is sent to charge into the most dangerous places. It’s the least odd thing in existence that he died at some point, and the point is to remind us of that. It wasn’t dramatic, there wasn’t anything much to see about it. Rocks fall, everyone dies.

                Same goes for Ratface and Kendall. We’ve already had Anne Kendall survive one assassination attempt; we’ve heard Ratface talk about how he always assumed he’d die railing at the Tower. Everyone knew what kind of game they were playing; that Cat’s manoeuver at Keter backfired that badly behind her back is the entire point. We didn’t get to see it because she didn’t get to see it; the very fact she didn’t, that she wasn’t there, that it happened entirely outside her control, hit her hard. That’s what the impact was DELIBERATELY MEANT TO BE. And it was conveyed to the readers by having them in the same boat as her – not there for it.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. caoimhinh

                  Yes, but and so it would have made sense if in the battle displayed Raphaella had managed to best Sabah, but she didn’t. Champion was beaten to a pulp by Captain, and she used up all her Aspects without anyone to heal her while Sabah still had one Aspect left. If she had defeated Sabah on screen, or if she had still being fighting when the POV changed (like the example I proposed of Champion activating her last Aspect against Sabah as the last scenes from that fight), it would make sense, but Raphaela had already lost when the POV changed, she wasn’t just wounded or in battle shape, she was so throughly broken that her Aspect broke apart. And yes, Heroes get second wind and Narrative power-ups but that still was a bad way to conclude that match, just the Hero defeated by Villain and then jump to another scene where they are informing the others that the Hero won and that’s it.
                  Unsatisfying.

                  It is true that anyone can die, and it’s fine to have Cat unaware of things, but to have us in the dark too, and eliminate a group of characters like blowing off a candle is bad. We could have at least gotten a last scene for them, so that we would get a built-up of emotion and anticipation. Saying “people die at war” is not enough to justify the meaningless deaths, they got offed as they were irrelevant and that is annoying.
                  Worst is the way it’s handled, that indifference “so, they died” and move on, that’s not how this entire serial was building up to be, and that’s why it’s so glaring, because the narrative had led us to see that events are significant and deaths are too, with an author so talented that he can make an entirely new character coming out of nowhere be memorable. So it’s frustrating how these characters were just gone as if they didn’t matter.

                  Like

                  1. Sabah beat Rafaella to pulp and then let the Beast take over. We’ve had sufficient setup that heroes aren’t beaten until they’re dead that the mistake was obvious / horrifying to me.

                    And nope, it is meant to be glaring and frustrating and upsetting. Dramatic death scenes make the whole thing feel more fair, and that’s the entire point: it isn’t. There isn’t a story to tell about how this person died. They just did.

                    They mattered, and they continue to matter now that they’re dead. But their death was random, sudden and out of nowhere, because this is war.

                    Are you upset with Ashen Priestess not getting a death scene?

                    Liked by 1 person

          2. Decius

            The death scene would be the general staff meeting, followed by “And then everything blew up”.

            Because someone on the Good side decided to be effective, and that means not giving the enemy good scenes.

            Liked by 6 people

            1. caoimhinh

              That would have still been preferable than the “ah, he died yesterday”.
              It doesn’t have to be an epic fight, but those characters deserve a last scene.
              For example Ratface finishing his work and then being surrounded by Malicia’s assassins and going “oh, shit.” when noticing them, unsheath a knife and say “come on, fuckers.” would leave us wondering what happened and whether he survived, and then we get to know at the same time as Cat that he got killed by the assassins.

              Kendall reading a report of the activities in the Kingdom and thinking about its current state and the measures that have to be taken, and then a “she never saw the knife” at the end. Would have been fitting.

              Nauk and the officers sitting in the tent, they discuss, analyze their options, worry about Robber’s group and finally make a decision of what to do, “and then the room blew up” at the end of the scene.

              Much better than just writing them off with a cold treatment as if they were nameless mooks like the ones who die by the hundreds on each battle of the armies.

              Like

          3. Aotrs Commander

            I (as I commented up-thread) think we should have a bit more of split-difference. As it is, of all the characters who have died, only one of them was on-screen. Much as I dislike character death generally – you may thank Marvel for that, X-Men comics, lookin’ at you – I feel that – at least some of the time, we should actually bear witness to it.

            By the same token, I can also undestand why sometimes it makes more sense not to show it. My personal opinion is just that we have had a shade too much of the latter and not enough of the former.

            As fate would have it, the instance in which character death is handled the best in anything I’ve seen or read is Naruto, actually. Not only are the deaths meaningful, their impact is felt literal decades later in the show – and it ALSO isn’t the last time we see the characters, because there are flashbacks (and even raising of the dead!) which obiviates my major complaint that after you kill a character off, you can’t tell any more stories with them.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. caoimhinh

              I agree with you. The problem isn’t that characters died, is the meaningless way that they did, without even proper built-up, expectancy, uncertainty or a last scene to show us.

              Like

          4. Papalamus

            I believe that it is NB atural in the EE world that character not protected by narration dies off screen. It is world shaped with stories, and if you just a Cat hound without her protection why should you be immortal? Now, when we have Tyrant, Hierarch Grey Pilgrim, soon-to-be-named-again Black, Drow army generals, Winter/Night goddesses, even Malicia not safe.

            Like

            1. caoimhinh

              Is not the fact that they died, it’s the way it was done. You can’t be seriously saying that having characters that have been in the story since Volume 1 get killed off-screen and we find out simply when protagonist enters a room and someone says “hey, they got killed”. That’s a really bad way to eliminate a character.

              Like

          5. luminiousblu

            There’s a difference between a meaningful character and a meaningful death. Meaningful characters don’t inherently have meaningful deaths. Boromir dying was important so it got shown on-screen, the actual circumstances of the death itself conveyed something important about the story and wrapped up the character’s development as a genuinely good person who was led astray by the Ring, and added weight to the story where being a good person fighting for a good cause can still die having accomplished nothing (because Merry and Pippen were taken away anyway).

            What does Nauk’s death add? His character had essentially been burned away, he was suffering from some sort of partial amnesia, so beyond a generic ‘oh I remember now’ sort of scene it can’t add to his character. It wouldn’t add weight to the story because people already died both on and off screen. What it actually DOES add is the idea of irrelevance, helplessness, and just-so. Nauk was ultimately irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, named but Nameless, just a king redshirt commanding an army of redshirts. Catherine was underground for apparently months, and knew of nothing happening aboveground, so she had no way of knowing what was happening. And Nauk was in with his army, escaped death once, but this time it caught him, and it was going to happen at some point where someone finally rolled a 13 on his d20 instead of constant natural 2s and 1s. This wasn’t ridiculously bad luck or anything coming from Nauk, this was him having his stupidly good luck finally burn out.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. IDKWhoitis

      After General, only really Field Marshal, but I don’t think Callow has enough troops/armies to justify that. Unless she gets stuck as a pseudo marshal for the drow. Other than that, Juniper could get killed, and get Aby can take her place.

      Or worse yet, Aby might get pegged as Cat’s replacement for when Cat wants to retire.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Why do people keep inserting Names everywhere? Abigail is determined to be as unmotivated and self-oriented as possible. She is very much not someone who imposes her will on reality, which we know is a requirement for someone to be Named. She’s like the definition of ‘swept along with the tide’.

          Sometimes non-Named get lucky as well.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. caoimhinh

            I meant it as joke, actually.
            She reminds me of Tanya from Youjo Senki, who just wants to live safely and work comfortably behind a desk but keeps being deployed to the front lines because she is Cursed with Awesome.

            Liked by 5 people

            1. magesbe

              Well that, and the fact that that anime’s interpretation of God was petty and spiteful and determined as hell to get her killed even though he wasn’t allowed to do it directly. But yes, it was partly because Cursed with Awesome.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. caoimhinh

                Being X wants her converted, not dead, actually. The Cursed with Awesome comes from the fact that Tanya was born with A-class capacity for Magic, so there’s no way they aren’t going to send such young and powerful mage to the frontlines no matter how talented she is as a strategist. hahaha

                Liked by 1 person

                  1. caoimhinh

                    It’s a series of Japanese Light Novels called Youjo Senki (War chronicles of a little girl) also known as The Saga of Tanya the Evil, It’s very good and has a unique protagonist, and also has a very interesting way in their narrative, you can find the english chapters through novelupdates.com It also has a manga and an anime of 12 episodes covering the first volume; there’s an animated movie to continue the events of the anime in the makings and planned to be released later this year.

                    It was my favorite anime released in 2017, it has an amazing OST, with awesome opening and ending songs.

                    Liked by 1 person

                1. magesbe

                  Eh. It’s true I didn’t finish the anime, but from what I got God originally reincarnated her into a fantasy medieval wartorn country to try to force her to become his worshiper, including literally making it so that to fight she needed to pray to him, but Tanya is aggressively atheist and even though she acknowledges that He’s a higher power she refuses on principle to view him as God.

                  Eventually he starts doing things like manipulating generals to put her back on the front lines just when she’s about to go off them, or provoking another country to attack hers to force her into danger again. At that point he’s really just trying to kill her off, because if she is killed he’s going to obliterate her soul, but if Tanya lives to die of old age, she gets to reincarnate naturally, and he’s super salty and refuses to lose the bet (to make her become his worshiper or get killed).

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. caoimhinh

                    It’s not a medieval world, it’s a parallel of ours in the 20th Century, they are right at the start of the first World War.
                    It’s also not really so much fantasy as having a boost in abilities, the magic there is closer to low-level ESP used to power-up their weapons (fueling the flying machines, making explosive bullets, having higher range, penetrating power, barriers, etc)

                    I’d recommend you give it another run and watch it again until the end. It’s really good.

                    Liked by 1 person

                  2. luminiousblu

                    Their depiction of God is actually generally perfect, once you allow for reincarnation. If dying a sinner doesn’t send you into the big fire down under then all he’s really doing is trying to brute force entrance into Heaven. He’s concerned with souls, not lives, and that’s actually accurate to the Biblical God. Looking at stuff like what happened to Lot’s wife and how Jesus went on and on about “eternal life” as “Heaven”, as far as big man G is concerned once you’re a rotten apple, you’re not an apple at all.

                    If anything it’s really Tanya who’s being a complete idiot about this. You don’t judge a higher being with lesser standards, it’s like trying to directly measure the volume of a sphere by using a ruler. She’s also pulling the Discworld atheist thing, because why would you actively spite a being who could snuff you out with a finger just to be a dick about it? She can’t win, after all; Being X is actively not interfering as much as he could because he’s holding out for a change of heart. Tanya has literally seen the face of God one-to-one, knows that it’s God no matter how much she tries to pretend it isn’t, and is deciding that she’s going to be self-righteous instead of essentially just living a decent life.

                    Liked by 2 people

      1. Allafterme

        Think of Gandalf at the end of Helms Deep siege, riding on a white horse in front of cavalry, blinding the enemy with a brilliant light radiating from his white staff…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Papalamus

      What about drawbacks of lakedropping?
      It actually makes sense, that opposite side has its own plans and stays proactive. Though such strike would be impossible if Masego was there. If Good couldn’t stay for themselves, there wouldn’t be a Good states at all possible

      Liked by 2 people

    1. RandomFan

      Worst? Lanterns light up night, and are useless in the day. If the name is thematically accurate, it means both are specialized in fighting at night, but- night outlasts any lantern, in the end.

      At least, that’s my optimistic prediction.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. konstantinvoncarstein

        Anyway, the most powerful drows are Named in all but name😁 So I think they can just apply brute force on the Lanterns to kill them

        Like

  4. IDKWhoitis

    So, is Cat going to be a bit more smitey or she going back to her roots of killing things hard?

    She could also start emulating Black in the middle of an army, lifting them up and pushing them harder than mortally possible.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. antoninjohn

    Well the Lanterns killed one of Cat’s closest friends but it will probably all work out fine it’s not like she has a reputation for holding grudges. Oh wait she Callowen.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. She killed Akua and bound her soul to the collar of her cloak.
        Plus, Akua’s both actually useful, and inclined to prove herself useful and not start trouble because Cat’s all “Evil” and “Needs to be stopped”.
        Also, Akua considers Cat being declared Arch-heretic of the East something of an honor to be proud of … the Lanterns will consider that reason to keep trying to kill Cat and everyone on her side and ignore everything she tries to say.

        The Lanterns are very much not Akua. Two massively different situations.

        Besides, Cat is a good Callowan … and she was just thinking about possibly being able to cure/fix Nauk with Night. The Lanterns just might be turned into an example.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. I was just pointing out that Cat is not very good at the Callowan propensity for grudges, emotionally. She cares about people far too much far too easily for that. Example #2: Black, who she specifically said in Book 1 she’d hold a grudge against forever… and then, uh, didn’t.

          And the Lanterns killed an enemy commander, not a city full of civilians. Cat doesn’t operate on Protagonist Centered Morality.

          You’re not wrong that it’ll be harder for Cat to get along with them. It’s literally the political aim of the current campaign though.

          Liked by 4 people

  6. Morgothra

    So Cat returns to find the Callowan army is divided and in trouble – could this have been the plan by someone higher up? It’s not Junipers style, but one of the others might have had the guts to do this deliberately, as Cats story would practically ensure she showed up just in time.

    Like

    1. What do you mean? I don’t think either Hakram or Vivi do story weaving on that level, and it’s not exactly guaranteed to work either way (see: Willie Angels and overreliance on a pattern of three)

      Like

      1. Morgothra

        You’re right that no one has the right MO for this to be that kind of gambit and it probably isn’t, but it feels like something that could be done in this world – in a similar vein to the heroes being fairly sure Cat would wake during the battling the camps – her personal story is heroic enough that mysteriously vanishing then turning up with help when her side needs her most could be predicted.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. The heroes could not count on Cat not waking up, I would say. The shape for the story was there, didn’t mean it couldn’t fluke out.

          Either way, though, that was a much simpler situation with much fewer moving parts. The last time anyone had seen Cat she was going into the Everdark with a treacherous advisor and Ranger’s student at her side on a frankly ill-advised diplomatic mission, and it’s been several months since then. A lot more unknown variables than a post-battle coma.

          The thing with stories in Guide is that they overlap and get disrupted by each other. Your story can be pitch perfect but if there’s suddenly a new bigger one rolling into town it can be broken anyway.

          You need Bard level information/perception to be able to manipulate things on that kind of scale.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. RanVor

    Well, so much for Nauk. But honestly, I’m not sure why I’m even surprised, considering this is a universe where Anyone Can Die unless they explicitly can’t. This is the prime example of how ridiculously unfair the concept of Names is.

    Also, Rumena might very well be the snarkiest character in the entire Guide.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Ok how about Cat somehow revives Nauk in a sort of familiae way, somethign like Akua but less bindings and more mutual agreement? She is a priest for a religion now and Nauk already worshipped her, almost at least xD

    Liked by 1 person

  9. aran

    For a very short moment I mixed up Nauk’s and Hakram’s names, and was like “O_O Cat about to go full John Wick on someone”

    Nauk’s death also bites, though.

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