Chapter 38: Pinnacle

“For the left hand is strife and the right hand is ruin, and only one may be clasped. The worthy take, the worthy rise; all else is dust.”
– Extract from the Tenets of Night

The Saint of Swords wasted no time and no words: forward she went, an arrow shot. There was not a motion wasted to the way she moved, a sort of flowing gait that was neither run nor walk. The Spellblade simply walked barefoot through the ruins to meet her, utterly indifferent to the sight of one of the most dangerous heroes alive with her blood up.

“A known weakness?” the Grey Pilgrim conversationally asked.

His eyes had never left the Revenant, and neither had mine.

“Not ice, I’ll tell you that much,” I muttered. “Or stabbing. To this day I’m not even sure if I baited an aspect out of it or if it’s just that ridiculously powerful.”

“He, I suspect, not it,” the Peregrine noted.

There’d been nothing particularly male about the dead elf to my eyes, either now or then, so he probably knew something I didn’t.

“Suspect?” I repeated.

“There is an old story,” the hero said, “about Death taking the Forever King’s only son.”

I’d never heard anything like that, and unlike Tariq I’d been born in a kingdom that bordered the Golden Bloom. On the other hand, he had decades of going around Calernia nudging villains to their deaths and unearthing secrets as well as the Choir of Mercy whispering in his ear. So, the Spellblade had been a prince once. Assuming elves saw kingship as we did, which was anybody’s guess: what went on in the depths of that forest was a mystery to anyone but the elves.

“Doubt the dangling parts are going to affect this any,” I shrugged. “But good to know.”

“Knowledge is always of use,” the Peregrine agreed. “No particular weakness, then. Unfortunate. That will prolong the matter some.”

I almost told him he had a gift for understatement before I caught sight of the look on his face and realized he was deadly serious. That, to him, a millennia-old elven Revenant was simply a vexing delay on our way to the end of this journey. The serenity on his tanned, creased face was not forced or posturing or an attempt to reassure. It was simple certainty that he would be the victor, regardless of the odds. I was surprised, still, by how utterly infuriating I found the sight. Because if a hero that old, that seasoned, could feel that way? Then there was some truth to the attitude. And though that strength on my side tonight, there was still something at the heart of me revolted by the nature of it. No wonder it’s impossible to bargain with you, when you have a mandated from Above to always get your away. I was, I supposed, my father’s daughter in the regrettable ways as well as the rest. I took my hand off my staff and it stayed still and standing as I rolled my shoulders to limber them.

“Let’s get this going, then,” I said.

A moment later, two of Calernia’s finest swordsmen had their first clash. If I’d not woven a sliver of Night into my eyes, I would have missed half of it. It was not that they moved that quickly, I thought, though while the Saint was drawing on her Name and the Spellblade made a mockery of mortal means simply by being who he was. I’d faced fae quicker than them, and likely some with more strength behind their swings as well. It was, for lack of a better term, the timing of their movements that was at their craft’s pinnacle. The Saint feinted high and right, the Revenant stepped to the side and somehow that led him to be behind her and swinging at her neck: then, even as the Saint pivoted on herself and aimed a cutting blow at the side of his own neck, the both withdrew a step. I took me a heartbeat longer than them to understand why. It would have been a double kill, I realized, if they’d both finished the arc of their swing. So instead they’d withdrawn, and gone for a second pass. I almost let out a whistle. I doubted I’d ever like Laurence de Montfort even if I didn’t end up killing her but I could certainly admire her skill.

Black was the one of the few people I’d ever seen move like that – it was how he’d beat Captain when they sparred, even though she’d been massively stronger and quicker on the swing – though on occasion Archer got close to it as well. She still relied on an aspect to get there, though, her Flow. Ranger would be more than match for either of these, I thought, but though rather skilled with a blade I’d never been even remotely in their league. Impressive as the spectacle of the two of them trading not-blows like dancers was, I’d not come here to be a spectator. The tricky part would be, I knew, intervening without getting in the Saint’s way.

“All is Night,” I murmured in Crepuscular, wrist flicking outwards. “The left hand is strife and the right hand is ruin, only one can be clasped: I call on you, Komena, war-bringer and red of deed, breaker of spears and devourer of hope. In your name I curse my foe.”

A brush like feathers of my cheek, the flap of wings, and distant cawing laughter. She approved, it seemed, as she was want to do when I spoke words from her Tenets. Night flowed through my veins, like a cool shadow cast on a spring morning, and I released the working on the two fighting in the distance. Tariq stiffened, for the barest moment, though the tension ebbed when he saw that the Saint had not been hurt by what I’d done. It was a subtle touch, at first. The shadows of the ruins where they were duelling lengthened a little, and the air began to swell unspeakably in that way it did before a storm. Neither of the combatants took notice, for after four bouts they’d now taken each other’s measure and were now going for blood. I waited patiently, and only struck when I found my opportunity: the Revenant’s bronze blade had been cut through by the Saint’s longsword, and when it burst in a flash of flame that blinded Laurence she drew back. The elf’s hand extended and the air began shuddering as rust-like flecks were attracted to its open palm and began to form a fresh blade.

“No,” I replied.

And the flecks went grey, the shivering air went still and the Revenant’s eyes snapped straight to me from across the field. That’s right, I thought. Look at me. I just swung decay and entropy at you look a bludgeon, look at how irritating I am. The burst of flame hadn’t even finished dying when tip of the Saint’s blade went straight through, going half an inch into the Spellblade’s throat before he could react. Laurence’s footing shifted, she began to pivot on herself, and even as the elf took a fluid step back she finished tearing her sword out through the right side of his throat. Too shallow to have caught the spine, I saw with disappointment. Eyes flashing with fury, the Revenant’s left hand shot out and with an open palm he struck at the Saint’s arm – there was a thundering sound of iron being bent and she flew back a dozen feet from the strength of it, the angle of her upper arm making it clear the bones must have been broken badly enough it tore up through skin and muscle. The Revenant’s other arm rose horizontally and moonlight clustered around his fist.

“Still no,” I replied.

The Night clustered around his fist smothered the gathering glow before it grow strong enough to contest that ending. Visibly irritated, the Revenant shook its fingers free of the power and took a step forward that brought it in front of the Saint – just as her arm snapped back in place, wisps of Light swirling around it as the Pilgrim’s work bore fruit. The heroine was ready when the blow came, nudging aside the elf’s forearm with the pommel of her sword and then angling her wrist. Her foot circled back, her body twisted, and the Saint of Swords swung her blade halfway through the neck she’d already cut before a familiar shiver of power began. I knew that feeling. Last time I’d felt it my entire face and the forward half of my body had ended up vaporized because I’d been too close, and whatever this was the Revenant had been able to use it again on the massive pile of blocks Hierophant had tried to bury it under. Come on, I thought, and gathered the Night to pit it against the shiver. There was maybe a tenth of a heartbeat where the forces were even, and then to my horror the Revenant’s working plowed right through. All the Night I’d sunk into the area went into smoke, fully and instantly and harshly enough it felt like someone had ripped off a chunk of my skin.

Shine,” the Grey Pilgrim hoarsely said.

I forced Night into my eyes even though the sensation was unpleasant and it felt like they were boiling, as I was wary of being blinded even for a moment and the radiant shine of the star the Peregrine had just unleashed would have robbed me of sight without it. It almost did anyway, for even though Tariq had unleashed only the palest shadow of the morning star he’d hung in the sky in Creation even that shred was terrible to behold. A ghostlike shimmering globe had appeared between the Saint and the Spellblade, for an instant, and some sort of massive pressure had swatted the Revenant trough the paved ground. I still caught a glimpse of the heroine’s face and saw that all the way to the bridge of her nose the flesh of her face looked like a blanket of acid had been laid over it. It was the same with the entire flank of her body that’d been facing the Revenant most fully, though strangely her clothes were untouched. In the moment where the Night had fought the shiver I’d learned one thing for certain, that it was in fact an aspect, and taste of the nature of that power. Looking at the Saint’s tabard and tunic I frowned: they were, I thought, looking too pristine.  And with the harsh taste of the power I’d fought still resounding, I suspected I’d put my finger on the face of that aspect: it related, one way or another, to ‘purification’.

Gods, elves were such assholes. It looked like Ranger had come by it honestly.

Body unmarred by any of the wounds that’d been inflicted on it, the Spellblade leapt out of the wreckage it’d been smacked into, a half-formed blade of light green scales in hand. My working had been scattered, so there’d be no shutting that shutting the door on that quick enough. Time to go on the offensive, then, I grimly thought. A panting Tariq strung healing Light around the Saint once more, and as he did I snatched up my staff. Or would have, were it still there. For a surreal moment I looked to see if I’d simply missed it while reaching but no, the alarm welling up in my stomach was quite warranted and it was nowhere to be seen. Shit. With the amount of power I’d sunk into that, over the months, this was not the kind of artefact I would want in anybody else’s hands even if it wasn’t also my contingency for the Saint. I tapped a foot on the ground, sending out a pulse of Night. If it was close I should get something out of that.

“Pilgrim, there’s another-”

I had gotten something out of the Night pulse, though by the time I did it was pointless because my eyes had done the work already. I’d glanced at Tariq, when beginning to speak, and so caught sight of the Revenant standing behind him. It was hard to even tell she was dead, truth be told, for her tanned leathery skin and the single blond tress going down her back were strikingly lifelike. This one too was an old friend: the Thief of Stars looked no worse for the few hours she’d spent as one of my own Thief’s possessions. Though, if the harsh look she flicked at me was any indication, she hadn’t forgotten that bad turn either. More interesting was the way she was holding my staff, pointing it directly at the Grey Pilgrim’s back. Strange, since in her hands it might as well be a walking stick: she wouldn’t be able to do anything with it. Well, unless she had – and there it was, the shiver of an aspect being used. Something to facilitate using what she’d stolen maybe? It didn’t matter. I raised my hand as the Thief of Star roused the Night in my staff-that-was-not-a-staff, baring my teeth savagely.

“Mistake,” I said in Crepuscular, and snapped my fingers.

Night lashed out viciously and the sound of talons rending flesh rang across the plaza. The Thief of Stars’ upper half splattered the ground, entrails trailing like grim garlands, but there was no hiding that a gaping chest wound had split her in two. As if some great bird’s talons had snapped out of the sea of Night awaiting within the staff, where they had been waiting. They must have thought I was a fucking idiot, making something that dangerous without putting in contingencies – like the attention of the angrier half of the goddesses that artefact was linked to. She might have managed to flee with it, though certainly not remain hidden. Using it, though? That was opening a door for Komena to express her displeasure. It’d had absolutely nothing to do with my fingers being snapped, but given such a beautiful opportunity to pretend otherwise why would I not? Posturing aside, I sent out a simmering coil of Night to catch the staff before it fell and dragged it back to me. I’d just slapped into my palm when I slammed onto the ground, biting down on a scream as my bad leg gave and rolling fruitlessly to the side. A vivid green sword seemingly made of scales was swung down at my head, though with a grunt the Saint carved through the damned thing. Foul-smelling droplets flew everywhere and I wove a spinning top of Night above me that proved to be the right reflex: wherever the liquid fell, it smoked and ate at whatever it’d touched.

Move, Foundling,” the Saint of Swords snarled, slapping aside a blow with the side of her sword.

I almost did, but then I paused. This slugging match with an effectively indestructible and inexhaustible demigod wasn’t going anywhere, and it was a losing fight for us. Sure we were pulling slightly ahead right now but both the heroes would tire eventually and the Peregrine had already dropped an aspect once. Engaging the Revenant like we were storming a bloody wall was just going to get us killed. What did I know about my allies? Tariq I had a read on, could play off of, but the Saint… Sever, I realized. She had that brutal little aspect still. If she was given an opening, she could use I to remove the source of our troubles. I just needed to… Halfway into rising to my feet, I theatrically groaned and flopped back to the ground. The Spellblade saw that as the opening it was and struck again, so it’d just made a tactical mistake. I was prone and crippled, the Saint was having an increasingly harder time fending off its blows and I pointedly did not get up. I stayed there on the ground, hilariously unarmored and basically just asking to get killed. The Saint, though it must be said she did so with considerable ill-grace, heroically defended her fallen ally in a doomed venture. I suspected she was going to cut her losses soon, but that was fine. I’d gotten what we needed.

“What are you-” Laurence started, but she was interrupted by the Grey Pilgrim nailing our opponent.

It was easy to forget that, for all his power, Tariq was not meant to be the tip of the spear in a band or even the healer. He was, by Role, a helping hand. He was at his strongest and ablest when serving as that hand, as demonstrated by the fact he’d been able to once more use an aspect that he should have thoroughly exhausted earlier to save the Saint’s life earlier. Now, the radiant beams of Light bit into the side of the Revenant harshly and as the better part of his left shoulder and kneecap were incinerated, it called on its favourite trick. The air shivered as it drew on its aspect, and the Saint of Swords’ own blade fell on the floor with a clang. Breathing out sharply, the old woman swung nothing at all and the Spellblade screamed. That aspect had cut Winter, elf or not he wasn’t getting through that with a shrug. And, while we were at it, I killed the pain in my bad leg with a sliver of Night and pushed myself up with my staff. The Revenant was staggering back in apparent pain – and disbelief at the fact that it could feel pain, I suspected – while the Saint looked like she was about to keel over. She’d be out of it for at least a bit, so best to tip the scales a little further. The Spellblade’s eyes fell on me just as I leaned forward and rammed my hand through his chest.

“What,” he croaked. “What are you-”

Restocking,” I replied with a feral grin.

I’d had a knack for taking from my foes even before I’d become the herald of goddesses who’d made theft of might the central tenet of their culture. Now? I’d had tutors in the art, patrons who’d touched the godhead and a Wastelander of the old blood. My fingers, coated in Night, dug through its soul and skimmed over the raw ruin the Saint had made of the first bundle. Another two were there for the taking, one still faintly vital and the other necrotized for centuries if not millennia. I could only get a vague idea of what it was I was taking until I’d taken it, but there was no room for hesitation. The aspect still in use felt like some sort of wheel, or maybe a kaleidoscope. The dead one felt like… nothing. Absence, maybe. Denial or gamble? Double down, I decided. A little too late to start playing it safe. Letting out a hissing breath, I withdrew my fingers from the Spellblade’s chest and found they were holding a slim branding iron. Ban, I knew sure as my own breath, and cackled. I called on the Night, and began pushing it into the iron.

“Hold him,” I yelled.

The Pilgrim wove shackles of Light around the Revenant’s limbs but we were the winning side, now – it tore through them effortlessly. But where Role and story failed, Laurence de Montfort instead scathingly said something in Tolesian and carved straight through the elf’s right knee with the longsword he’d already picked up. But already it’d formed a blade out of some eerie pulsing red haze, and instead of attacking one of us he stabbed himself – only the blade broke, and fresh flesh began to sprout where the Saint had cut him before the severed limb even began to fall. But I’d been sinking Night into the brand this whole time, and though the symbol it depicted hurt my eyes to try to discern I could still see smoke was wafting from it. It should suffice. Even as the Revenant dipped forward from the sudden loss of limb, I shoved the branding iron against its chest. The moment it touched the satin shirt it went straight through, and though I saw the Revenant’s skin blacken around where the brand touched the flesh it did not react. It would not feel pain from this, I thought. Or, indeed, anything else. The red pulse shattered, the flesh ceased growing and the elf flinched back once more. I supposed it was rather in shock at the way I’d used his dead aspect to kill the other one. I stepped back and smiled.

“All yours,” I told the Saint.

She was a fearsome one, but he was still an elf and an old one.

It took her seven blows, before his head rolled on the ground and the Dead King lost his second Revenant of the night.

213 thoughts on “Chapter 38: Pinnacle

  1. ruduen

    Just imagine how much worse the Pilgrim would be if he always had an ally who knew when to be ‘vulnerable’.

    It really goes to show how much damage this band is capable of, especially since they only have three of the five around right now.

    Liked by 26 people

  2. Elves are fucking hax.

    Well done, Cat.
    Manipulate the story into unleashing Pilgrim on the Spellblade. And, yeah, Laurence definitely would have left you to die.

    Stealing power from your foes is an interesting and useful trick, Cat … but can’t be relied on too much, since you know that stolen power is ultimately unreliable in the end.

    Liked by 12 people

      1. OK, one more comment: I differ on the “only once” constraint. I’m betting she gets to use it at least one more time against a different opponent; the third use may be weaker and will probably consume it entirely. Yes, I think it’s basically the same power as Take.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Another thought in this vein: If she gets even one more use out of it, well that’s an very powerful one-shot weapon. Every DM knows that if you ever give a player even one “arrow of slay anything”, they will use it against the boss you spent a week designing.

          Suppose she uses it to Ban the Dead King from Masego?

          Liked by 3 people

            1. NerfContessa

              Indeed. But unlikely.

              Second great chapter in a row. Excellent tactics from cat, abusing stories seems like fun 😦

              Like

    1. SilentWatcher

      Finally a possible path of growth for Cat. Stealing power of her foes. If stolen power is unreliable is not Night always unreliable? Can Cat also harvest Night? Would be nice to get the experiences of an Elf.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. werafdsaew

        The Night IS unreliable, since it doesn’t work well when the sun is out, and the priests have counters. For example the Mighty had to flee once the Pilgrim used Shine. The point is if you rely on the Night, and there’s no backup plan, then you’re screwed once it gets countered inevitably.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Insanenoodlyguy

      if her power was to steal it long term, it’d not work well. You’ll note Rise got less and less effective. But now she’s learned to mold them into strong one time uses. The former-name inspired power to take is her own, so it’s fine to use it. In fact, as Lilliet points out, using it in the very encounter it was given is the safest way to use this sort of power.

      Done this way, it’s not a weapon that fails when yo need it most, it’s a versatile trick that can be used creatively enough to keep from getting too repetitive.

      Liked by 6 people

  3. Stormblessed

    Well that certainly went better the second time. Cat with her power up. The saint is absurd and having Heros and Providence on your side will do that for you hun?

    Either way, I wonder if the Dead King is going to be pleased or miffed about this. I expect pleased for he wouldn’t put those peace’s there if he wasn’t afraid to lose them.

    Basically I think he is trying to goad Cat into putting the Heros in a position not to dissimilar to her situation with Night. Basically she binds her purpose to them and can then use their powers for her own ends.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. The Dead King is successively getting rid of the Revenants Cat met when she visited Keter. For every story he’s involved in, he’s got a certain allowance of Revenants he needs and is limited to to use effectively. And he also needs to selectively use up those Revenants over the course of the story, as any that survive into the next cycle would become a narrative liability.

      I suspect that he wouldn’t have minded the Thief of Stars surviving this engagement to be thrown away in another gambit, but the Spellblade absolutely needed to die here, of that I am certain. His survival here would have locked him into the role of a Dragon, and that isn’t a path favorable for the Dead King, especially not with such a comparatively weak Dragon.

      Liked by 10 people

          1. Short answer; No.

            He has to do that every story cycle, such as a crusade or an invasion. Interludes, like a small-time massacre of a party of green heroes, or Ranger’s visits are not subject to such laws.

            What happens with her visits is more of him giving her a sacrificial offering than anything else.

            Liked by 6 people

          1. Andrew Mitchell

            That’s right. However my vote comment was held for moderation so Aston probably didn’t see it before he/she/they made their comment. I assume my comment was flagged by the WordPress spam filter because it included two links.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s just a PSA, nobody’s staring into your soul and demanding it. A reminder and a convenience for those of us who’d forget otherwise but are glad to click the link as it is.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. Andrew Mitchell

    Nice to see another fight scene with the action kicked up a notch. Clever work from Cat there:
    – putting contingencies on the staffswordprayer
    – feigning injury to give her an opportunity, and to boost Tariq
    – using her powers of theft to get Lawernce the opening she needed

    I wonder if Cat gets to keep Ban.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. JJR

      Probably not. The artifacts she made from aspects before with Winter were one use only. This was made with Night, but the idea of making them one shot so as to not become reliant on them still holds.

      Liked by 9 people

    2. Yeah, it’s probably one use… and it’s most definitely narratively better for them to be one use, because otherwise they’re an immediate narrative liability.

      Also, that was some sweet fucking providence with her leg buckling just in time to save her life.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. SilentWatcher

          Cat used Willies stolen Aspect a long time, her stolen Mantle of Winter was kept for a while and her resurection from the Choir of Contrition was kept permanently. If shes not keeping the stolen Aspect how about harvesting the Night of the Elf? Would be Idiocy of High Priestess of Night not to use the greatest Advantage Night has to offer.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. The resurrection was a one-time effect, it’s not a continuously ongoing effect keeping her alive. She was dead, the resurrection made her alive again, and that was it.

            Also, to all the people urging Cat to harvest the Spellblade: literally he belonged body and soul to the Dead King. You *do not* willingly take the essence of that creature into yourself when the entity he belonged to is the one who coined the phrase “the essence of sorcery is usurpation” (IIRC, it was either him or one of the extra-magicky Dread Emperors but since IIRC DK literally invented the school of magic that Praes uses it’s still relevant).

            In Bk. IV Ch. 43 (https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/chapter-43-masegos-plan/) when Cat is fighting Skein she comments “the Revenant was not of my own raising, but there was an… affinity there, now that I knew to look for it. Not a door into usurpation – in those eldritch struggles knowledge was always paramount, and compared to the likes of the Dead King I was a babe in the woods”. Taking an aspect from a Revenant is one thing bc at least there’s a degree of separation there in that the Revenant was the DK’s creature but the aspect was the Revenant’s power and not the DK’s *directly* at least; usurpation of a Revenant any more directly than that is playing with soul-eating mind-controlling fire. I would still urge Cat to at least be cautious about even keeping an aspect from one of them long-term as well (well you know, if I was capable of speaking to fictional people I would urge her but you know what I mean).

            Liked by 4 people

          2. Adding to other comments, the Mantle of Woe was by no means stolen, that was earned. Based on a cloak given her by her patron Amadeus, and augmented with trophies of her early kills. The question is whether she’ll take a stripe for Spellblade, since he was a group kill. Admittedly, she is the leader of the group, but it might not be politic to be too blatant about that.

            Liked by 1 person

    3. Also note that nobody really got worfed — in fact, Pilgrim called the fight up front. If Saint had been alone, she would have been toast — but she wasn’t alone, she not only had her usual healer backing her, but also Cat throwing debuffs and spoiling his spells. And then all three of them used their signature “ultimate powers” near-simultaneously to break him. (The Thief of Stars had basically walked into the wrong fight, RIP at last. 😉 )

      That said, remember that Spellblade was just a miniboss here, and DK got exactly what he wanted out of this fight: A good look at all three of them in action, using both their “ordinary” abilities and their respective haymakers. The question is where Kairos and RS are, and whether they got their own independent fight. If so, we can guess it was against something particularly magic-resistant with strong physical attacks, likely set to capture, separate, and/or disable them (perhaps with help from Kairos’ CBD).

      Liked by 3 people

  5. liate7

    Typo:

    She approved, it seemed, as she was want to do when I spoke words from her Tenets

    s/want/wont/
    (“Wont” is certainly a good word.)

    The chapter is very good, as always. Nice to see what new tricks Cat now has other than better skill in storycraft.

    Liked by 4 people

          1. Andrew Mitchell

            Agreed.

            Fyi I wasn’t suggesting EE do a re-write. I’d never suggest anything of the sort… I was trying to communicate to Iilate7 what the sentence meant.

            Admittedly, that was when I was under the mistaken impression that they did not understand the sentence as written. But still, my intent was sound. 😁

            Liked by 1 person

      1. liate7

        Yes, it is grammatically correct. As the wont, not as want. They’re often pronounced the same, but I checked before putting it as a typo. (I even said it was a good word, because I know that word, and use it sometimes.)

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Modern British English still trots it out on a regular basis, as we are wont to do with anachronisms. Usually when one wishes to sound either pompous or to underscore an observed trait.

        Also, it’s “wont”, not “want” — strong verb, convoluted conventions surrounding verb-nouning, yada-yada…

        Liked by 4 people

  6. JJR

    Losing two of his revenants like this is gonna seriously inconvenience the Dead King. Hell the elf that was the Forever King’s only son was basically a holographic first edition revenant. Even after he get himself another elf, it just won’t be the same.

    That being said, the aspect was ban, but the artifact wasn’t a tiny hammer? How could you erraticerrata?

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      The elf was certainly a one-of-a-kind asset and they both were important assets for the Dead King, but I suspect he’s got hundreds of revenants, maybe more. An inconvenience for sure, but probably not too serious IMO.

      A branding iron and not a hammer… Yes, such a wasted opportunity.

      Liked by 6 people

    2. See thearpox23’s comment above for a reasonable counterargument: Basically, the revenants Cat has faced before are “used goods”, he’s using them up as a probe before he pulls out a fresh batch. Skein might still show up, if it wasn’t actually destroyed (I’m not completely convinced), which would match the number of fighters here.

      In any case, DK has a lot more Revenants on call. Once the band has come together, I’m guessing there will be five new opponents for them: some combination of Revenants, demons/devils, and perhaps possessed!Masego himself (or Masego might be matched against the band’s Sixth Ranger, if they have one by then).

      I find it interesting to see how drastically Cat’s powers have changed, and her methods with them. No more brawling, and she’s gotten much better at “playing with others”, not to mention defending herself properly instead of regen-tanking through everything.

      In fact… her magical techniques have advanced much the same way as her military methods: She’s gone from agile bruiser to Meta Master, manipulating the fight itself — including her opponent’s powers. And while she’s no longer jumping around platforms and generating swords, she has regained the ability formerly known as Take… because that was and is a meta-power, and so doesn’t really depend on its substrate.

      More musing: Her necromancy as Squire I was already anomalous, which was explained when she retroactively claimed a Winter sigil. I’m wondering how much of her current power is based on her continuing destiny. Below may not grant power directly, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t scheme and meddle. Heck, the whole Everdark might have been waiting until she came along to wield it! (“Simmer a few thousand years, then add Winter to clarify. Decant onto surface…”. 😉 )

      Liked by 5 people

  7. IDKWhoitis

    That mental image of Cat tearing out an aspect and effectively cripple a Named is going to scar Tariq.

    Cat has always had a tendency to mulitlate her own soul, but now she is able to turn that sadism onto others…

    Also, let’s just acknowledge the fact that Cat is able to keep up with two old Heroic Named, just by moving the story around and manipulating fate into doing the leverage for her.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Rook

      It probably feels worse for the Pilgrim than any of the other Heroes. By virtue of limited Ophanim omniscience, he knows beyond a shred of doubt that Catherine was born under such a strong Heroic star that she still had Heroic intentions even as one of the most notorious Villains of her generation. He also knows that the reason she’s a Villain now is because he, and the rest of the big-league Heroes of the west, essentially abandoned Callow in their time of need until it was far too late.

      Every time she pulls a horrifyingly competent new trick out of her hat, it’s a fresh reminder for him that she could’ve been the greatest Hero of her generation instead, if he hadn’t let an entire Good nation down so badly.

      Liked by 8 people

  8. Xinci

    Interesting, I do wonder now at the connection of the wheel to the Elves ability to negate rules. The pattern of Creation is noted as a wheel, perhaps similar to winter the Elves essence is always connected? The perspective on the wheel shifts but it remains connected regardless. SpellBlade actually seemed more versatile in the number of blades it could wield here, presumably as it has access to more assets in Creation proper. I am quite glad that Cat has taken to taking once again. The old pattern of taking what she can mould and breaking what she cannot still holds true.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Cap'n Smurfy

    Huh. So the Spellblade’s swords were aspect driven. Bit disappointed to be honest, I’d thought it was more sorcery in nature. I’d always thought of Masego’s feelings toward someone using potent magic to make what are essentially fancy sharp sticks, absolutely hilarious

    Also arguably Calernia’s best swordswomen with a buffing and a debuffing master? Yeah elf boy didn’t stand a chance.

    Liked by 12 people

  10. A little dissapointed that we got epigraph basically repeated later in the chapter.

    Elfs really are Nazi’s. A Cleanse that kills humans? You just know someone is onto some racialcleamsing. And they are also Good, for some godforsaken reason. Does that mean being prejudiced fuck is the same as doing Above’s will in Guideverse? That explains too much.

    Also I suspect there’s ought to be bad Nazi, like Soninke for example. They also would like to cleanse the world from those pesky humans.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. >elves as a race are good
        That, somehow, does not sound good. Are they good in the sence that they have inherent goodness in them, or in that their actions are the definition of good is? In other words, are they good, because they do good, or because what they do IS good? The first almost requires that there will be races that are inherently evil in a sence that they can’t help but do evil. The second is simple double standarts that are a sample of human behaviour.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      > And they are also Good, for some godforsaken reason. Does that mean being prejudiced fuck is the same as doing Above’s will in Guideverse? That explains too much.

      LMAO…. But still, it’s a very good question and I hope we get some more insight into why the elves are classed as Good.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sanctus-obscurum

        Good is following the commandments of Above. Good is acting in accord with the will of the choirs. Evil is acting against Above. The only democracy on Calernia is Evil because it is a state where the will of humans is used to lead entirely rather than the will of a human who is devoted to, or following, Above. Below wants to see what mortals will do with power and no guidance, Above grants power to better follow their commands.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. > The only democracy on Calernia is Evil because it is a state where the will of humans is used to lead entirely

          I actually had a different take on that, which I can’t remember if I already posted somewhere. In brief, basically my take on why the only democracy on Calernia is Evil/crazy Bellerophon is because Below are sneaky fucks and they deliberately created an example of democracy that embodies all the worst possible traits of it in order to discredit it as a mode of government. I mean, we’ve seen more than ample evidence of how hard Princes/High Lords/nobles in general fuck shit up for their own people right? Think about it, when Cat was contemplating the government of Callow back in chapter whatever it was (sorry, I don’t have the patience to try to find it right now), she explicitly went “sure I dislike nobles and inherited power in general, but no way do I want Callow to be like Bellerophon so democracy’s not an option”. You really think that dynamic is an accident? That dynamic is the *point* of Bellerophon, beyond just it being “a maddened altar of a city” in itself.

          Liked by 4 people

    2. Novice

      The Elves of the Golden Bloom were exiled from the greater elven empire for being huge assholes IIRC. But the fact that they still were on the Good side is something really uncomfortable tbh.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. SITB

        They probably still worship Above and disdain Below.

        Possibly a remnant of the culture they left.

        (And to preempt the discourse, Above is pretty hands off with their interventions, which is why both the Grand Alliance and Callow’s armies have priests in them)

        Liked by 8 people

              1. Razor Eddie is a recurring character in SRG’s Nightside/John Taylor series.
                Shows up a couple times in the Secret Histories series, too.

                Razor Eddie would probably like Cat, though.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. Potted summary: Simon R. Green has at least three mostly-separate (and lengthy) series under his “Secret Histories” umbrella. (A couple of characters have visited between series.) The two series I’ve read fall under “campy horror”; I assume the third is similar.

                I’ve read and liked the entire “Nightside” series (where this guy comes from), which wrapped up in satisfying fashion, and 8 or so books of the “Eddie Drood” series, but the latter eventually (6-8 books in) went downhill IMHO, and I got bored; I never got around to picking up the “Ghost Hunters” series. There’s also a standalone novel in a distant corner of his ‘verse, “Shadows Fall”.

                The Nightside is a secret city beneath London, where all the monsters and gods go to let their hair/spines/ichor down, anything can be bought and sold (especially your soul), and it’s always 3-o’clock in the morning. The Punk God of the Straight Razor is a supporting character; the protagonist is John Taylor, a private eye with a background even he doesn’t understand (until late in the series). When John Taylor walks the streets, some folks make the sign of the cross, while others make the sign of the extremely cross….

                Liked by 1 person

  11. magesbe

    And Cat shows just what she’s capable of now that she’s reclassed into Cleric. Pretty awesome. I suspect she would also be capable of causing a fair amount of devastation, but this wasn’t the opponent for that kind of blow.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. And once again Cat proves that she’s actually a bard who took levels in cleric to augment her favored strategy. Let’s be real, buffs/debuffs are totally a bard thing.

      As is, of course, her other major contribution to the battle ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Excuse me, but have we even seen her pick up an instrument? Or sing for that matter? Admittedly, music doesn’t seem to be a big thing in the Guide (battle-songs excepted); I would venture to guess it’s not a big thing for the author..

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Andrew Mitchell

          Yes. To me, Bard = Music & Story Telling. Cat’s got the second but not the first. But, as you suggest, the guideverse could well have a different definition.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Maybe. Bard doesn’t play *well*, but she always has the instrument, so it’s apparently an attribute of her name.

            But many other characters have fearsome story-fu without music, so in this world, I don’t think story-fu is particularly a “bardic” attribute.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I’m talking about a more meta ‘dnd archetypes’ approach, in which music is actually incidental to everything else that makes a bard.

              Substract music, and you get what Catherine is.

              Liked by 2 people

          1. Also, if you start taking about “bard, but with no music”, you’re not only abusing the archetype (*), you’re getting an unnecessary terminology collision, especially since this world already has a Wandering Bard.

            (*) The use of music (or at least poetry, in some cultures) is certainly more central to bard-ness than the magical strategies that one FRPG assigned to them. E.g., long before the newer editions started layering magic onto Bard characters, it was already a cliche that “piss off a bard, and embarrassing songs about you start showing up in taverns”. That one goes back to the Society for Creative Anachronism, which AIUI has occasionally done it for real.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I mean yah obviously bard irl means the music person, but the bard archetype in TTRPG is the topic of discussion here.

              And ‘unnecessary collision with Wandering Bard’ define ‘unnecessary’ 😀

              Like

              1. The thing is, the Guide isn’t TTRPG, this is actual fantasy literature. The relevant “archetype” isn’t gaming rulesets, it’s the real-world archetype stretching back to mythology (which gaming drew on for its own purposes).

                Liked by 3 people

                1. …to be clear, all the times I say “Catherine is a bard” are my answer to the question which has been repeatedly discussed “what DnD class is Catherine”. I’m not saying she is somehow parallel to actual historical bards (who probably also didn’t go down into dungeons to hunt dragons)

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. I mean yeah but that doesn’t make it any less fun to go “what class is she most similar to” / “if this was a DnD campaign what class would she most likely be playing” :3

                      Liked by 1 person

  12. The Gentlemen

    Ah, the glory of counterspell.

    Wait… fancy clothing with symbolism and trinkets from her enemies, priestess of the goddess of deceit and night, and placing a firm emphasis on outsmarting and stealing her opponent’s wins…

    She’s taken a level in bard.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Most of her levels are in bard, really ❤ ❤ ❤

      Counterspell is the fucking best annoying bard thing to do (and I don't care if any particular game system allows it, it's the spirit of the thing)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Aotrs Commander

        As the poor DM that at one point had to suffer through a party of eight with a cleric, a druid and TWO bards (and some NPCs – all of whom relied on multiple attack stuff (rapid-fire, TWF) because the module was being silly), I can safely say, no, *that* honour has to go to “work with the other bard, so that everyone gets bonus to attack and damage AND +3D6 fire damage.”

        ‘S me own fault, I ‘spose, I shouldn’t have insisted that one of the bards had Dragonfire Inspiration so that they didn’t step on each other’s toes…

        Liked by 3 people

  13. Xinci

    I do also realize that Komena is the aspect of Strife while Andraste is the aspect of Ruin. Quite fitting given their characteristics, Komena being the more…spritely of the two while her sister focuses more on the magical aspects. Though it may be been referring to Below or Above for a bit but given the context of Cat speaking the exert its probably about them as a pair instead.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Andronike, not Andraste. That’s from Elder Scrolls, right?

      But yeah, I agree. Strife and ruin, Komena and Andronike taking on these aspects/domains (in the dnd deity sense) respectively.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Relyt

      1. Because Providence is literally Godly cheating.

      2. Goes to show that the deadliest part of Cat was never her ability to drop lakes and summon ice – it was leveraging small details into clever plans and story-fu.

      Liked by 4 people

  14. 🐈 keeps coming back to the taking of aspects thing. Is this a sign if her final form?

    I’m starting to think she’s going to be double named. One from above for intent, another from below for confirmation.

    Thief and Thief of the stars are both up for grabs now.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. konstantinvoncarstein

      How did Neshamah managed to kill him in the first place? This thing could have win against the 2 most powerful heroes of the continent! Maybe burying him under thousands of deads? It seems too simple, and he was probably not the only elf send by the Forever King.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. KageLupus

        I feel like Elves have the same kind of problem that the Fae do, where they are much more tightly coupled with the current story they are in. Cat has gotten slightly better at acting in a way that triggers a narrative benefit (compared to blatantly tricking a Fae into monologuing at her before running away) but I doubt playing helpless would have worked against a human opponent.

        If the Elves are more susceptible to narrative shenanigans than Neshamah would not have had all that much trouble getting the Spellblade killed and raised. The man has actual millennia of experience weaving stories like that. Experience helps with the setup, having all of the time in the world helps with the preparation, and vast hordes of undead monstrosities help with the execution.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Caerulea

          Also, he turned an entire kingdom into undead and created a permanent portal to hell. And his power has only increased. I think he has the raw power to kill an elf, even a named one. (Granted, he probably also rigged the battle with story.)

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Catherine did not play helpless, she actually deliberately put herself in danger, which is normally a bad gambit but no when it gives your ally a huge power-up.

          It wasn’t Spellblade that the story part worked on there 😀

          Liked by 2 people

    2. I don’t know about Names, she’s so far had two major power bases that aren’t based on them. But yeah. she’s definitely screwing with the boundary between Good and Evil. Aside from her general good intentions, remember that she actually redeemed an entire species from their doom.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. TheDerangedOne

    “I just swung decay and entropy at you look a bludgeon, look at how irritating I am”
    That first ‘look’ should be ‘like’. like a bludgeon.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. SpeckofStardust

    Eh Just going back to what the dead king said a good while ago to Cat that everything that he has on the field is to him expendable. Makes me wonder if he has a way to remake any of the Reverent’s and simply wont use them again anytime soon due to story reasons. After all the idea that he’s waited this long to use the Elf Prince seems, off.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The Elf Prince will have had some use in many, many stories. Generally the survival/slasher horror kind where most of the characters don’t make it out alive and the ending for the sole survivor is, at best, bittersweet, knowing that That Horrible Thing™ is not eliminated.

      If you have a hax character, use ’em for haxxor stories. Eventually, you’ll get the one where The Tragic Monster Is Put Out Of Its Brainwashed Misery, but… until then, you have Freddy Krueger on the payroll. 😛

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Given prior discussion regarding meat-puppets, I doubt that a soul without a matching body is all that useful by DK’s standards. Consider that Akua apparently doesn’t have her original Aspects anymore, at least she hasn’t used them. It may well be that Apects are tied to the body and/or life-force.

        Liked by 3 people

          1. We’ve heard of the Face-thief, but they preyed on an un-named princess. We’ve seen Aspects that can affect or steal one Aspect from another Named, but I’d be really surprised if any mortal Named could go much further than that. And even DK’s revenants apparently can’t keep all their original power. ISTR Skein had three aspects, but one of those (Spool) might well have been a localized replacement power provided by DK.

            Liked by 3 people

    2. konstantinvoncarstein

      Or he cannot remake them, but he has a lot of them and can catch others easily.

      Or he could said that as long as his survival is assured he don’t care what happens to them.

      Liked by 3 people

    3. Andrew Mitchell

      > After all the idea that he’s waited this long to use the Elf Prince seems, off.

      OTOH, the arrival of a player of Cat’s caliber on the scene may have been exactly the right time for the DK to pull the Elf Prince out of storage. I think that’s actually the case because, during the first conversation between the DK and Cat, the DK was talking about Cat’s potential for immortality and Apotheosis and how rare that was (with only the DK and the Bard achieving it).

      Liked by 3 people

  17. Meh

    Cat is kinda making a mockery of names. If all it took to be this powerful was a contract with pseudo gods, half of the old aristocrats in wasteland would be demigods. We are sadly hitting dragon balls levels of power bullshittery.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. konstantinvoncarstein

      The problem is that there are not many gods around. Furthermore, not a lot of them have access to a power easily usable by mortals.
      And the Wastelanders use contracts with powerful devils.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. konstantinvoncarstein

          I doubt the Warlocks would make that kind of power available to anyone but them. And Sve Noc seems to be a particularly powerful goddess, and the Night in particularly well suited to the gifting of power.

          The other problem is that Catherine does not really own this power, she borrows it from Sve Noc, who can revoke it as she pleases. No highborn would let himself be at the mercy of someone.

          Liked by 6 people

          1. ^^^

            This this this. Cat’s power is 100% contingent on her goals continuing to align with those of her goddesses’. And given how her goddesses dealt with the Longstride Cabal when they started getting uppity it’s not out of the question that they could snuff her very life out at any time just by thinking about it. God-tier power like Sve Noc’s isn’t just lying around all over the place, and even when Cat had the power of all Winter (theoretically) at her disposal she didn’t actually conquer/claim Sve Noc’s power, or even strike a bargain as equals. She literally threw what was left of her power (and basically her life) at Sve Noc’s feet and said “please help me”, and in return Sve Noc decided on a 100% discretionary basis to grant her 100% revocable power. Does any of that sound like something a Praesi highborn would go for literally ever?

            Liked by 7 people

            1. Meh

              And how does that stops the wasteland highlords from enslaving and forcing gods to give them the same kind of power cat has? ”I doubt warlocks would share the gods” is such a weak argument -.-

              Dont be blind to bs in a story just because you enjoy it.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Three reasons:

                1) it’s really fucking hard to do;

                2) story shenanigans: faith gives a powerup of its own no matter the power;

                3) that said, IT’S NOT THAT GOOD. Like… Masego would smear Komena and Andronike across the floor even post-Winter powerup if properly prepared. Wastelanders had access to more efficient ways to destroy shit than binding gods – they could bind many demons instead of one god, for instance :3

                Liked by 3 people

                1. > Masego would smear Komena and Andronike across the floor even post-Winter powerup if properly prepared.

                  Strongly doubt that. Even with days of “proper preparation” Masego couldn’t manage more than brief containment/stalling of the Summer Queen, and the Sisters were arguably more powerful than a fae monarch (difficult to say for sure since while Cat certainly had that power in the Everdark she never really mastered actually using it) even before eating the power of an entire fae Court.

                  Otherwise, good points! Though given the above I’d change/clarify “Wastelanders had access to more efficient ways to destroy shit than binding gods” to “Wastelanders had access to less insanely dangerous and difficult ways to destroy shit than binding gods”.

                  Liked by 2 people

              2. And to be more specific: are you asking why Praesi didn’t mount expeditions to the Everdark to fish out Sve Noc from there, or are you asserting there’s plenty of entities of their power level around on the surface?

                Liked by 3 people

                1. Meh

                  Lol not asking why Wastelenders didnt go to Everdark. Just asking if pseudo gods could grant power like what Cat has why wouldnt the wastelenders abuse it. Just enslave some psudo gods to your bloodline and force them to grant powers arguably better and more flexible than names. Doesn’t even have to be as powerful as Sve Nocs, they would settle for far less i imagine. And we already know there are people like the late warlock who goes around dissecting gods for fun. How believable is it that the only example of this kind of power is Cat and not the Wastelenders this method seems to be tailored for? I dunno bois, this is some obvious bullshittery if i have ever seen one.

                  Like

                  1. Yeah, so

                    – the power is not that great in the first place, Cat’s just really good at tactical use of it;

                    – there’s probably not that many ‘pseudo gods’ and most would probably be far weaker than Sve Noc with Winter;

                    – why exactly do you think Wastelanders HAVEN’T been doing that?

                    Like

              3. Isi Arnott-Campbell

                Enslaving gods? With what power of their own? The Warlock wasn’t just any Praesi sorceror, he was Named; such mages don’t grow on trees even in the Empire, whose human constituents seem to have spec’d pretty heavily into sorcery on a cultural level.

                I understand your position, but gods are rare, elusive, well-protected beings whom only the most powerful of mortals can survive against long enough to outsmart them–and a lot of mortals aren’t fit to outsmart them anyway–, which is presumably how Warlock used to do it.

                Also, Warlock did stuff like that in the backstory, sure, but onscreen all ever comes of that history is that he and his son have relevant skills. The implication to that, to my mind, is twofold: it didn’t happen often and/or he did, in fact, refuse to share his kidnapped divinities with his friends.

                At any rate, dissent can be valuable in any community; thanks for your thoughts despite my disagreement with them.

                Liked by 2 people

              4. Did you mean to reply to Konstantin? Because no offense, but it seems like you literally didn’t even read my comment. Since:

                > And how does that stops the wasteland highlords from enslaving and forcing gods to give them the same kind of power cat has?

                Is very much directly addressed by “even when Cat had the power of all Winter (theoretically) at her disposal she didn’t actually conquer/claim Sve Noc’s power, or even strike a bargain as equals.” A semi-professional god-murderer with the power of an entire fae Court at her fingertips couldn’t successfully take down those gods; you think some High Lord rando could do it just like snapping their fingers? Press X to doubt, mon frère.

                Liked by 1 person

            2. On the flip side, DK had a point in his latest appearance: At least three times now, Cat has died and came back more powerful than she was before.

              The first time was when she was operating as an apparently-normal Named — but even so, she survived not only getting killed, but then having her Name stolen, then went on to mug an angel for her resurrection.. Then she got her heart ripped out by the King of Winter, and went on to become the incarnation of Winter. Then she got the Winter ripped out of her by Sve Noc, and went on to become the priestess and “front man” for the goddesses of Night.

              And they say a cat has nine lives….

              Liked by 3 people

    2. Well they had an entire nation sacrifice its future, then fight and condense itself for millennia while under pressure from both the dwarves and the Dead King, then Cat willingly sacrificed herself and her two Goddesses now keep her around because they like her.

      I think the Praesi would want to own that power but the problem is once you start that chain rolling once how do you get someone else to bring you all of Winter?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Andrew Mitchell

        > and her two Goddesses now keep her around because they like her

        Plus, she’s the best possible guide to help Sve Noc navigate the surface world and successfully carve out a new home.

        Liked by 3 people

  18. Am I the only one disappointed that the Thief of Stars didn’t steal the Grey Pilgrim’s star? I was expecting this one ever since it was confirmed that one of his aspects was to summon one. Maybe it was too obvious, or she survived and it will come later…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. > disappointed that the Thief of Stars didn’t steal the Grey Pilgrim’s star?

      The Dark-empowered staff was the more obvious threat, compared to the astral orb that was weakened outside Creation (and possibly because he’d used it recently). On the other hand… it occurs to me that she only showed up when he summoned the star, and it did only last a moment. The “interesting” part (maybe Story-pushed?) was that Cat first noped ToS’s attempted theft, then immediately turned around and successfully did the same thing to Spellblade!

      I guess I was wrong about the next Shine killing Pilgrim — he was not only still going, but still using his powers. Maybe last time it only took so much out of him because then he was doing a full wind-up instead of an fast strike. She may also be wrong about just how he healed Saint — I could easily believe he has priest-like healing powers and also an aspect extending them. Compare to aspects like Rampage and Swing (or for that matter, Sever), all of which boost(ed) the wielder’s already-considerable fighting ability.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Andrew Mitchell

        > I guess I was wrong about the next Shine killing Pilgrim — he was not only still going, but still using his powers. Maybe last time it only took so much out of him because then he was doing a full wind-up instead of an fast strike.

        I agree with your reasoning. After the first Shine he did weaken considerably, and yet he’s still able to act quickly and to good effect. I think that may be partly because of story support provided by the new party of five that’s been formed to do away with the big bad.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Darkening

        We know all of Pilgrim’s aspects. They’re Shine, Behold, and Forgive. He’s also capable of doing everything priests can at a much higher level though, so healing magic miracles are pretty well in his wheelhouse. Cat explicitly said a few chapters ago that him becoming part of her Band of Five instead of her defeated opponent would result in creation accelerating his and Tyrant’s recovery so that they can contribute properly to the story, so I’m not surprised to see him able to fight still. Dunno if he’ll be able to pull Shine out *again* after this point though.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Right — Forgive shouldn’t be the onlyway he can heal, but rather the culmination of his healing miracles.

          Re: Shine, I don’t think it’s been explicitly stated, but I’d expect it to be either once-per-day or thrice-per-day. The previous Shine ended with Creation’s true dawn… which may well have recharged it, but also wasn’t that long ago and he’s been doing other stuff too..

          I mean, they were fighting a battle since an hour rt two before dawn, then came the surrender, and the “conclave”, which argument ended with Cat opening a gate for them. Even with various sorts of magic/miracle supporting their stamina, they’ve gotta be getting tired.

          Liked by 3 people

      1. erebus42

        One can only hope. I just really wanna see some arrogant ass of an elf talk some good shit and then precede to get their ass handed to them by Ivah or someone.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. At least as I understand it laws of creation roughly correspond to laws of physics. “Can be affected by Night” is more of a metaphysical concept than a physical law. Elves might be able to affect whether they can be harmed by the effects of a particular application of Night (maybe they could do something with “can’t be dissolved by acid” or something like that, for instance), but since they can only do that with one law at a time a drow with a versatile repertoire would still definitely be in with a chance.

        Liked by 4 people

          1. Yeah, exactly. Not to mention that IIRC only one of the aspects of Night that Rumena was using against Saint was one that affected her directly (I think it was an acid one as it happens). Rumena’s crazy strength and speed, Rumena’s magical healing, Rumena’s illusory doubles… all Night-powered stuff of immense use in a fight that doesn’t have shit to do with directly targeting anyone else.

            Liked by 3 people

        1. Lithrandil2

          It might actually work. Back in their first fight against Pilgrim Masego used something he learned from an Order Demon (Which has a strikingly similar effect to the elves: The Demon changes one law of Creation the Elves ignore) and basically made everyone in the area ignore light (Exact part is: “Masego had fought demons at Second Liesse. One of them had been a demon of Order, what Praesi called a Beast of Hierarchy. Their essence, as I understood it, was a perversion of laws. Hierophant had learned to mimic that, to a a very limited extent. Inside my killing grounds one law had been established: Light had no effect” https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/chapter-16-pirouette/). Assuming Light and Night are somewhat similar (which is reasonable as both seem to act pretty similar basically beeing stuff to weave miracle with). It might work but as was already said Rumenas most powerful tricks isn’t really direct damage stuff. And with that much experience he would probably easily find out that he cant hurt him directly that way. If the fight would take more time he would (assuming he didnt already know as he was already alive when the elves came to Calernia) find out he can just ignore one thing and basically bait the elve to choose the lesser evil but still be damaged by one of his tricks.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. Use Magic Device (trained only).
          One of the best and most versatile skills around, and a class skill for Rogues/thieves, but almost no other class gets it. In D&D (various editions) and other d20 OGL systems (plus Pathfinder/derivatives).

          Liked by 3 people

  19. The more we see of Cat’s Night powers, the more I wonder how she’s going to end up on top when all is set and done, because there is no way the story concludes with ‘First Priestess of Night saves Callow’. However, the snippets of the Drow holy book indicate that both they & Sve Noc are alive and well in the future.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Some musings about the Spellblade as he once was: An Named elven prince (hmm, yet another crown? And Cat did get a token), proud and powerful enough to think he (and perhaps his warband) could take on the Dead King. Three aspects:
    1) The “shiver”, an external aspect linked to “purification”. It seems to be able to destroy any of many different things, but perhaps only one thing at a time. But there is some limit — both Cat and Saint were badly hurt, but not disintegrated outright, and back in Keter!Arcadia it had to chew through stone progressively. This was the one that Saint Severed.
    2) “… some sort of wheel, or maybe a kaleidoscope”. Apparently the one that produced the swords. Probably can turn any given “element” into a sword: metal, fire, acid, healing (or whatever would heal a revenant). Cat took it out with a stolen…
    3) Ban. This one was described as “dead”, presumably killed by the Dead King. Would that have been too powerful for DK to allow in his retinue? Or… perhaps it would have allowed the Spellblade to commit suicide before being converted to a revenant. And maybe even afterwards, which would be why DK never restored it…. so maybe Cat did “put it out of its misery”.

    Three very powerful aspects, at least one of them “meta”… It’s perhaps understandable why it once thought it had a chance against the Dead King.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Nice breakdown! Destroying only one thing at a time feels like it has some symmetry with elves in general (given their racial powerset ties into ignoring one creational law at a time) so also tying that into purification (given their frothing racism) feels very appropriate for an elven Name.

      Regarding your speculation re: Ban being a dead aspect, it’s been repeatedly mentioned regarding Revenants that they are undead with a *portion* of their former Named power. I think that losing an aspect when making a Revenant is more likely a limitation than a choice per se (DK prob has some influence over *which* aspect gets lost tho). Keep in mind, given that DK is essentially pulling not just a person but a Name itself into undeath, being able to preserve even 2 out of 3 aspects is still an incredible feat of necromancy.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Darkening

        Y’know, that makes me curious about the time Cat came back from William cutting off her head. She had her name intact, (or as intact as it already was, anyways) so I’m not sure why the dead king, with so much more necromantic expertise, would be getting worse results than Masego. I suppose the soul stone to catch her soul, her willingness to be brought back, and the comment about creation wanting her not to be dead because of her remaining pattern of three probably contributed, but still.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. I think the difference is in the control that DK exerts over his Revenants – he reforms them into something different, something pliable to his will. Meanwhile Catherine just got a puppet body that either her or Masego could pull the strings of while staying essentially herself.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Also, we haven’t had this close an examination of many Revenants — offhand, I can only think of Skein, who was anomalous in other ways.. (I don’t actually remember Thief “stealing” the Thief of Stars, though — when did that happen?)

            Liked by 4 people

            1. Let me find…

              All According To (Redux)

              >“That was all the questions,” Adjutant told us. “It seems unwise to simply leave her here, if we are to act now.”

              >“That one’s mine to solve,” Thief noted. “No card, mind you, but it’s the obvious solution.”

              >She got up and laid a hand on the Revenant’s arm. Nothing happened. Vivienne sighed.

              >“Hold,” she said.

              >While the sight of the undead vanishing was interesting in its own way, it was Hakram’s body-wide twitch that took my attention.

              Liked by 3 people

        2. Lili and Mental Mouse already said both the things I would have, so I’m just going to say that while I think their counterpoints are valid that’s still a really interesting point you brought up and I wanted to say I appreciate that.

          Like

        1. Coming back to this, I was thinking “one thing at a time” because it damaged Saints flesh but not her armor/clothing — indeed, from Cat’s comment it might have cleaned blood off the armor.

          Power-versus-power conflict at the same time as a physical effect doesn’t seem too unreasonable — it might be that it cleaned Night out of the whole area because it had already been fighting Cat’s attempt to contain it with Night.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. I think the idea is that the power has a set definition of what is ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. Clothing was something to be cleaned, human flesh was something to clean everything else of.

            That’s what made Cat think elves are assholes.

            Liked by 4 people

                1. Dirt is dirt. If your power is to clean things, to make dirt disappear, and you continually keep using your power, you can chew through a dirt wall by continually cleaning it. And what is rock but a whole bunch of dirt?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Oh man.

                    A power that, if scaled up infinitely, would destroy the planet and most of its inhabitants but leave a particular kind of mortal-made stuff floating around in perfect emptiness.

                    I could see elves being like that.

                    Like

  21. Also, Cat may be mistaken here:
    > just as her arm snapped back in place, wisps of Light swirling around it as the Pilgrim’s work bore fruit.

    The Pilgrim was working on a Shine; I suspect this was Saint’s own Decree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I think Shine was spontaneous – it comes up when an ally needs help. He doesn’t need to work on it unless it’s something bullshit like forcing dawn to come early over the entire battlefield.

      Liked by 1 person

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