Chapter 88: Testament

“Reputation is as rope: it can be either a lifeline or a noose.”
– Eudokia the Oft-Abducted, Basilea of Nicae

Asking Archer why the Hells she’d just killed that soldier that would have implied in front of all those people I had at best partial control over her actions. Which, while true, wasn’t something I wanted to remind the League of right now. So instead of looking surprised or angry I allowed my face to slip into a cool mask, flicking a seemingly disinterested glance at the dying man. Indrani, eyes cold, left the blade in his neck and plucked at the hand still holding the parchments: a long, thin needle was brought into the moonlight by careful fingers.

“See,” Exarch Prodocius frothed, “her thugs murder our attendants without-”

The Nicaean soldier that’d been dragging him back slugged him in the belly. He wheezed out in pain, looking like he was about to vomit.

“Poisoned,” Archer idly said, sniffing at the needle’s tip.

She casually ripped her longknife clean of the soldier’s neck, snuffing out his life with the casual flick of the wrist.

“Merciful Gods,” Basileus Leo Trakas croaked. “Queen Catherine, I swear on the Heavens that I had nothing to do with this. I would never-”

I looked at the young man in fair pristine armour, his hair perfectly coiffed and his eyebrows impeccably plucked. What I saw beneath the façade was fear. The ugly kind that clawed desperately at your insides trying to get out. It’d been there before we ever began speaking, I thought, perhaps even before he’d set out with this procession. But where it had been mastered before, now it had slipped the leash. No, that one did not have the stomach to try to kill me.

“A personal guard of the Basileus of Nicae just attempted to murder the Queen of Callow,” Akua calmly replied. “Your guilt can be debated, Leo Trakas, but your responsibility is beyond doubt.”

Would the needle have pricked me, if Archer hadn’t intervened? Possibly. I wasn’t sure it would have killed me, though. I was hardly immune to poison, but Akua ought to have been able to keep me alive long enough for Sve Noc to come to my side and purge the blight. Was this Malicia’s doing? It was a sloppy attempt by Wasteland standards, though I’d been cavalier enough it’d nearly succeeded anyway. If there was someone who’d notice I had a habit of going ahead to negotiate with others with only slight escort, though it would be the Empress. If it’d been Masego and Vivienne with me instead, would the needle have broken my skin?

It sent a shiver up my spine I could not be certain as to the answer.

“No doubt this was the work of one of your many enemies,” Exarch Honorion dismissed, cutting through my musings. “Pay reparations, Trakas, and let us return to the matter at hand.”

The smug look on the man’s face had me itching for a blade in my hand. Someone had just tried to kill me and he thought throwing a few coins at me like I was a beggar with a bowl would end the matter? My fingers clenched. If he could not curb his tongue, perhaps a curse that silenced it would remind him of – no, no I could not. I breathed out, tamping down on the heat in my blood. I was being provoked and it was not an accident. Prodocius might be terrified, but this one was not. Did he know something the other Exarch-claimant did not, as the likely favourite of Malicia among the pair? Black had been scathing in his opinion of the man’s intellect, it might just be foolishness and arrogance.

“Secretary Nestor,” I said, tone calm. “The weapon that was used, does the Secretariat have record of precedents for its use?”

The white-haired man, who’d been looking at the work of one of his scribes over the young woman’s shoulder, turned his gaze to me and dipped it before turning to Indrani.

“Lady Archer,” the askretis said, “has the tip of the needle been dipped in a substance that is green and viscous, yet dry as leather?”

“That’s about right,” Archer frowned, then sniffed again. “Smells like rotten meat, too, but with something flowery mixed in.”

Her senses had rivalled some of mine even when I’d been Sovereign of Moonless Nights, nowadays even with Night lending me the occasional edge it wasn’t even a contest.

“Wyvern venom made into a paste with periwinkle blossoms,” Nestor Ikaroi said. “Known as the ‘Taste of Redress’, brought to our records by the Magisterium’s profligate use of it during the latter years of the Stygian Spring.”

“A wild assertion, this, and without proof,” Magister Zoe said. “It is known, however that, a substance like the one you describe can be readily obtained through Mercantis. It would have no current ties to Stygia even should it truly have roots there.”

“The Secretariat’s records are without fault,” Secretary Nestor coldly retorted. “And the use of the Taste and needle is the signature of the Manifold Laments. Killers for hire alleged to be based in the League.”

“My own grandfather was slain by the Laments, Queen Catherine,” Basileus Leo told me. “I would never bargain with them.”

“You spineless cowards,” Exarch Prodocius snarled. “How can you even know this wasn’t her doing from the start? How eager you all are to lick Callowan boots.”

“Catherine,” Akua murmured, low enough only Archer and I might hear. “This is a noose. I know not how or why, but this is a noose. A situation like this does not fall into place by happenstance.”

Yeah, I was starting to agree. Something was wrong here. Leo Trakas still didn’t know about his fleets being broken and stolen, yet he was strangely desperate to get Penthes on his side. I understood he needed allies, but why would he need them badly enough to risk provoking me? He could hardly afford any more enemies, much less one that was a member of the Grand Alliance. And the two Exarch-claimants had to know they were playing with fire by coming after me this hard. Especially in the wake of an attempt on my life, when it’d be damnably easy to accuse them of having a hand in it. I was missing something.

“Mind your tongue, Prodocius,” Magister Zoe Ixioni warned. “It is the mark of a weak stomach, to grow drunk from the scant power you wield.”

The Helikean generals, still mounted, watched all this unfold in stony silence. Unconcerned or indifferent, not that it made much of a difference. I could see, stepping out of myself for a moment, how this was going to unfold. The young Basileus had too many enemies, and just given me slight, so though it was plain to all that Penthes was a stone around his neck he’d have no choice but to try to salvage the Exarchs. If he lost a metaphorical finger bringing them out of this untouched, they’d owe him badly enough they should be halfway-reliable allies. Especially if they were without other allies of their own and antagonizing most everyone else in the League. Bellerophon was a beast most prone to devour itself, and likely to fall into that old habit in the wake of this mess. Atalante had quite literally walked away from this coalition and Delos was positioning itself as aloof. Helike was, well, it was hard to tell what Helike was at the moment.

Exarch Honorion had earlier accused General Basilia of being an usurper of some sort, but then he was hardly the most trustworthy of sources. On the other hand, if Kairos Theodosian had truly massacred most his kin and there was no true claimant left to the throne of Helike it would not be surprising that whoever consolidated control over the army became the ruling authority of the city-state. Theodosius had risen to kingship in such a manner himself, and if I recalled correctly General Basilia was highborn. Either way, for now it looked like she was the one speaking for Helike and she seemed utterly disinclined to step in and stabilize the situation. If Basileus Leo was trying to emerge as the saviour and leading light of the League in the face of chaos, then Helike would be at best uninvolved and at worst likely to spike any of his efforts simply to ensure Nicae didn’t emerge as the preeminent power among the League. Stygia, I thought. I’d not accounted for Stygia.

Magister Zoe was here for the Magisterium. Given that yesterday she’d made assurances to Hakram that even if Stygia made treaties of assistance with the Tower it had no intention of ever lending military support, I’d bet they were planning to use Malicia’s ‘protection’ as a deterrent against the rest of the League while offering only token compensation for it. For that protection to be worth anything, though, they’ll have to make it public, I thought, then hesitated. Had they already? Bellerophon and Atalante holing up, Helike looming and Nicae’s old Stygian foes promised assistance by the Tower. Leo Trakas was seeing the League fall apart around him after his fleets had ravaged Ashur, and realizing that in the wake of the glories promised by the Tyrant he’d been left out in the cold. Penthes alone was offering a hand, and though there were fools they were fools with coin, a largely intact army. The kind of ally that would give an adventurous Stygia or Helike pause. I stepped out of myself and looked at the world the way Leo Trakas would.

Retribution was coming, that could not be denied. Ashur would neither forget nor forgive, had deep ties to the Grand Alliance even after withdrawing from it, and the ancient shield that was the League of the Free Cities was falling apart. The League’s treaties to resist outsiders together must be shored up and the foundations of the arrangement made firm again after the debacles abroad – all under the leadership of Nicae, preferably, since no one else seemed willing to take up the mantle. If this could not be done, though? Then Basileus Leo was in desperate need of allies that would keep the wolves away from his door while he figured out a way to avoid losing his throne to a Strategos and keep retaliation from laying waste to Nicae when the balance swung back the other way. Either way, to him, Penthes was the key. And Penthes was owned by Malicia, who had carefully been setting her schemes in place even as I fought my way through Iserre. Now she was bringing them to bear one by one. So how do you want to use them to hurt me, Malicia?

“Though Exarch Honorion misspoke, he is yet a leader of his people,” Leo Trakas intervened. “Threats help none of us, Magister Ixioni.”

“The Magisterium seeks no help from Nicae,” Magister Zoe disdainfully said.

“Already found yourself a backer, have you?” Archer said.

Indrani was, with her usual nonchalance, putting her foot in a dispute that might have been best left to the League itself. Without knowing what Malicia had planned, any step taken here might be a blunder.

“What right does a vagrant from Refuge have to ask questions of of us?” Exarch Prodocius scornfully laughed. “Still your wagging tongue, girl.”

Merciless Gods, I thought, half-awed. She was going to kill him.

“Archer,” I got out.

Halfway through drawing her blade, Indrani reluctantly stilled.

“Your choice of allies speaks poorly of you, Basileus,” Akua said.

A swing in the dark from her, as it seemed she’d come to the same conclusions as me through reasonings of her own. Both of us were watching the younger man, and both of us saw the same thing: the twitch of a repressed grimaced, followed by a resounding absence of denial. So he’s pursuing these idiot accusations because Penthes – meaning Malicia – put him up to it, I thought. They’re backing him so long as he pushes me tonight, most likely.

“Another chattering peon for the Black Queen,” Exarch Prodocius snorted. “Are you to threaten violence as well, when reminded of your place?”

Here I had no worries. Archer, for all her keen perceptiveness, was not meant for affairs like this. I’d not hesitate before sending her along with heroes for something, or soldiers, but restraint in the face of provocation was simply not the way she’d been raised. If someone slighted the Lady of the Lake, she killed them. If someone took offence to that, she killed them too. Indrani might not have the age or reputation to be able to get away with that the way the Ranger did, but she’d been raised to think that way regardless. Akua, though? Prodocius could spend all day tossing the worst insults he could think of at her and she’d hardly blink. Akua Sahelian had been playing more dangerous games with more dangerous men since before she’d had her first moon’s blood. Still, the way Prodocius and Honorion were constantly antagonizing my two obviously dangerous companions was genuinely surprising me. Prodocius in particular, as the terrified white of his eyes still showed.

“Gods Below,” I slowly said. “What can the Empress possibly have on you that’d put you this deep in her grasp?”

Akua, at my side, went still.

“And now you accuse us of being in the service of your foes,” Exarch Honorion mocked. “As if you were not merely seeking an excuse to-”

“Still Water,” Akua spoke in Kharsum. “The Tyrant helped Malicia, you said, but Helike does not border the Empire. Where did the alchemical compounds come through? It would not have been small quantities, Catherine. The Empress would have needed assistance to keep it quiet.”

And it fell into place. Penthes, who had grown rich from trade with the Empire. Penthes who controlled one of the branches of the Wasaliti river. Penthes, whose last Exarch-claimants were two venal and corrupt men who’d been chosen to survive from all the many there once were by two people: the Tyrant and the Empress. They’d been accomplices to Still Water being used on the Nicean fleets, I realized. And now, too late, they were realizing that with Kairos dead and Malicia untouchable in the Tower they might end up taking the blame for that. For murdering thousands of Nicaeans, yes, and breaking that city’s naval power. Worse yet, for betraying a member of the League to a foreign power while the Free Cities were at war and under the rule of a Hierarch. If it came out, they’d have no allies. Even if Penthes itself did not turn on them most the League would end up coming after them.

If Malicia said nothing, she owned them. If Malicia said something she still owned them, because who else could possibly protect them? Mind control was not needed when you had that kind of leverage on people. It would be redundant.

“Why is she having them come after me so hard, though?” I replied in the same. “It makes no sense, Akua. She gains nothing out of those two getting on my bad side, by virtue of being her creatures they were already there. I might as well not-”

I swallowed my tongue. I might as well not be there. Because it wasn’t about me, not really. None of this had been from the start. I’d been thinking of these people as the tool Malicia was using against me, when in fact I was the tool Malicia was using against them. A Nicaean soldier had just tried to kill me not because the Empress had believed it would work – although I doubted she would have complained if it had – but because it burned a bridge between Callow and Nicae. And the Penthesians were going after me because the Basileus needed them, and the more he defended them the more at odds he and I became. Fuck me, she was trying to flip the League wasn’t she? Leo Trakas would go home and find his fleets were gone and his reign going to the dogs, and so to avoid losing his throne and possibly his head he’d need to rely on his friends. His Penthesian friends, who unlike Stygia had not openly declared for Praes. The Tower had seeded the sickness, then offered the remedy.

Penthes, Stygia, Nicae. Bellerophon and Atalante were removing themselves from the flow, Delos wouldn’t got at it alone and how difficult could it possibly be for Malicia to spark a civil war in Helike if the Tyrant had left no clear successor? She’d run the southeast of Calernia, more or less, and with the fleet that’d been broken by Still Water she’d have leverage over Ashur as well. And all she needed to get this all started was for a Catherine Foundling, a woman with a known temper, to get angry after someone tried to murder her in the middle of diplomatic talks. Gods, but I hated dealing with Malicia. Even now I couldn’t even fucking be sure there wasn’t another layer to this plan that I’d missed. And I still wasn’t sure how to step back from the ledge even now that I might have caught the scheme. Walking away was giving her the win, but my word alone wouldn’t convince the Basileus that his Exarch allies were playing him.

It was exactly the kind of thing I would say if I was trying to collapse the League so it couldn’t be a sword at my back anymore.

“If I may be so bold, Your Majesty,” Secretary Nestor said, “might I ask for a summary of the words that were shared with your advisor? None of the attending scribes speak the language.”

I flicked a glance at the old scrivener with the tattooed cheeks. It was a genuine request, not a hint of any sort, but it still had me thinking. Could it be that simple? I’d spent all this time trying match Malicia at her chosen field and gotten dirt in my face for it again and again. But that was fighting this war the way she wanted it to be fought. Hanno had warned me, hadn’t he, that I was still thinking like I was a villain needing to threaten and fight everyone into doing what needed to be done. The latter part of that, where he’d said the might of Judgement would carry the day, had been wrong. But he was right that in some ways I still thought, first and foremost, like a warlord under siege from all directions. But I wasn’t that anymore, was I?

“It is called Still Water,” I said. “It is a sort of alchemical poison developed by the Wekesa the Warlock that lingers in the body of those who imbibe it and, afterwards, requires only a ritual trigger to kill and turn into undead all those poisoned. Those undead in fact resist healing by Light, though they remain mindlessly violent without guiding by necromancers.”

“The First Prince of Procer sent word of such a weapon, before the Tenth Crusade was declared,” Nestor Ikaroi acknowledged. “Do you then confirm its existence?”

“I do,” I flatly said. “It was used on the city of Liesse by the Diabolist. And once more since by Dread Empress Malicia on the war fleets of Nicae.”

In the wake of that there was only silence, and the scratching of Secretariat quills. My gaze found the two silent generals of Helike, who were both unsurprised and watching me closely. Had the known? I couldn’t be sure, but General Basilia was said to have been Kairos’ favourite. And if nothing else, his will might have contained such secrets. So now I had a choice to make. Either I dragged Helike into this by revealing the Tyrant had a in this, or I kept my silence on that. The Exarchs might try to drag Helike into this anyway, but who’d believed them at that point? Might be enough to stir Helike to war if they tried, too, which was not ideal but still better than Malicia sinking her claws deep into the southeast. It would not be just, to spare them the consequences of helping such a great and traitorous massacre. But if kept the Dead King from devouring Calernia, I could live with having abetted that injustice.

“That is the leash the Tower has on these two,” I said. “They helped smuggle the alchemical brews into the League’s territory. Advisor Kivule was reminding me, Secretary Nestor, that the Empress would have needed local collaborators, individuals of authority hiding her tracks to achieve such a thing. It allowed for an explanation for the continued hostility of these ‘Exarchs’ to Callow, for it is no secret that their mistress is my enemy.”

“Advisor Kivule, is it? She would know of Still Water, no doubt,” Exarch Honorion sneered. “I had not intended to speak to this, but this filthy mudfoot intriguer leaves me no choice. Prodocius and I entertained envoys from the Tower, is true. I’ll not deny it. For Dread Empress Malicia meant to warn us of a plot to destroy the League and incite war with Praes: this advisor that masquerade before us is no fae nor drow, she is the Diabolist herself. Akua Sahelian, the Doom of Liesse.”

Malicia had caught on? No, of course she’d caught on. Black had too, it would have been fairly obvious for anyone in the know as those two were. And from there it was information that could be passed to her agents, like those two. But why did she think it would – oh, fuck.

“It is not the Empire that struck at the fleets of Nicae, Basileus Leo,” Exarch Honorion said. “It was the Black Queen using the foul alchemies of the foe she enslaved. What a neat scheme she planned, is it not? The League sundered and at war with the Empire, her enemies clawing at each other even as she bent Ashur to her will.”

Malicia, I seethed. Hellgods, I had not wanted to kill someone that much in a very long time. Could I deny Akua? No, that’d be a mistake. Too many people knew, or at least suspected, and when it came out she truly was Akua Sahelian it’d lead people to believe I was lying about not being behind Still Water’s second deployment as well.

“Are you seriously accusing Catherine Foundling of using something like Still Water?” Archer said, sounding somewhere between amused and offended. “She fought a war over the last use.”

Mistake, I grimly thought.

“You would have us believe it was the Dread Empress who has possessed such means for decades and never once used them?” Exarch Prodocius said. “We’ve all read the reports from the Battle of the Camps. Thousands dead from reckless sorceries! All of Iserre was almost destroyed because of a weapon that once lay in Callow, and we are to believe the Black Queen would balk as such a ploy?”

Leo Trakas was the key to this, I decided. Delos was unlikely to lift a finger either way, and Stygia would back the winning horse. And the Basileus did not look like he knew who or what to believe, right now.

“You then make the accusation that Callow was able to brew such alchemies, then seed them unseen in the fleets of Nicae?” Akua said. “How mighty you believe us to be, Exarch.”

She knew he’d have an answer to that, he wouldn’t have risked this otherwise – and his words were likely Malicia’s, anyway, who would not make this elementary a mistake. Akua was baiting out the last part of their tale, so that we might see if there were holes to poke in it.

“An animal like you has no place in this conversation,” Prodocius harshly replied.

The Basileus of Nicae raised a hand to end this before it could escalate.

“As part of the evidence for the accusations laid against the Black Queen was the secret meeting she had with King Kairos in the city of Rochelant,” Basileus Leo said, tone cool.

He was start to lean towards believing Penthes, I realized. Because he wanted to, because it’d be easier, because Malicia was brilliant woman and it was a skillful lie.

“And to hide evidence of your malice, you then sold the Tyrant of Helike to his enemies among the Grand Alliance,” Exarch Honorion said. “I will not pretend the man was anything but a bad seed, but your treacheries are worthy of contempt.”

Gods, but she was good. It did not make me hate her any less, but she was good at this. Even through as feeble a tool as those Exarchs, Malicia was still hitting all the right notes for the Basileus. I could see it in his eyes. I breathed out. I was not only a warlord, now. I had allies.

“Are you willing to repeat your accusations before a truthteller?” I flatly said. “The most skillful of our age is in Salia. I am more than willing to do the same.”

Akua almost began to move before she ceased, and in the Night I read her uneasiness. I had made a mistake of my own, it seemed.

“A transparent attempt,” Exarch Prodocius sneered. “You’ve sunk your hooks in the Grand Alliance, corrupted even rulers as respected as the First Prince. The Grey Pilgrim will say whatever you want him to say, lest you turn on Procer.”

I almost laughed at the notion that I could force Tariq to do anything, much less bend the rest of the Grand Alliance to my will, until I caught the look on their faces. Not Akua or Indrani, but the delegates of the League. Over half a hundred people were here, some of the most influential people in the League, and after the lunacy Prodocius had just spoken not a single one of their faces expressed disbelief. Fear and hesitation, anger and doubt, but none of them believed it to be absurd. Because they weren’t looking uphill and seeing me, I realized as my stomach sunk. They were looking at the victor of the Camps and the Graveyard, who’d strung along heroes and villains and dealt death to thousands. My reputation, these days, was enough to cow thousands of charging horsemen. I knew this, I’d relied on it.

Malicia was relying on it too.

My grip tightened around the yew staff. I’d fought wars, struck deals with the Everdark and the Kingdom Under, compromised and warned and did everything I could to keep this continent from falling apart. And still the Empress, who hadn’t left the Tower in a year, was strangling me with my own fucking achievements. Malicia, though, would be Malicia – a praise and insult both. What had my blood boiling was how eager these people were to be manipulated. To believe the worse of me and in the same breath decide that the Dread Empress of Praes was looking out for them. And they had their reasons, and it was one of the finest liars alive who was making a game of them, but still it… stung. That I always had to be patient and careful and let things go, while the rest of them could just fucking blunder along and let the rest of us pick up the pieces.

I could kill them, I knew.

The Night was but a thought away. They had mages, but I had Archer and Akua Sahelian at my side. It wouldn’t even be difficult or need to be a slaughter. Honorion and Prodocius were owned by the Tower, but Penthes itself wasn’t – the Empress would have influence, but hardly rule. I could snuff them out like candles and there went this ploy. Gods, there was so much I could do if I simply took off the gloves. All these soldiers heading south, all this insistence on backstabbing and bickering when the Dead King was seeking to kill us all, it could end. It’d be as simple as telling the people here, over the smoking corpses of Malicia’s tools, that they could march north to fight Keter either living or as corpses in my service. If their armies objected? They had no Named left to match me. I’d open portal over a battalion aligned with a large lake or a sea, then repeat the process every half-hour until I got an unconditional surrender. The Grand Alliance would whine, but the whining would end when I ensured our back was secure and brought a fresh army to the table.

Gods, it would be so satisfying. To order something instead of barter and beg, to just order something and see it get done. And even if Malicia had laid some kind of clever trap behind it all, well, cleverness only got you so far in the face of overwhelming strength. What exactly could she do, if it was Praes and Keter against the rest of Calernia? And all I needed to do was just… reach out. Sve Noc would approve, if anything. And the thing was, hadn’t I done it all the right way? I’d let the heroes take their swings, taken the whipping without complaint. I’d helped the same Procerans who had meant to carve up my home for a meal, sacrificed and bargained to keep the Dead King from killing hundreds of thousands. I’d done it all right, and at the end of the day Malicia could still just upend it all with a snap of her fingers. And if it was this… weak, this fragile to do things the right way, then what was the point? If it didn’t work better than being a bloody-handed tyrant, if it was objectively worse, then why was I putting myself through all this? I was not going to let Calernia die because I needed to clutch to the delusion that I was a decent woman. I would not.

I took a step forward, Night coiling, and my leg throbbed with pain. Do not forget, it whispered. That this was never a game. That you make mistakes. And most of all, and my fingers clenched white to hear it, the pain whispered one last thing: do not forget, that there must be more than ruin. I paled, leaning against my staff. Gods, the pain was agonizing.

“Cat,” Archer whispered, looking at me with worry.

I gestured harshly. Do not forget, my leg throbbed.

“You’d really do it, wouldn’t you?” I said.

The two men that would be Exarch of Penthes milled about uncertainly.

“Let thousands of your own people die,” I said. “Birth civil war in the League. Gods, you’d gamble with the fate of Calernia itself – all because you were foolish and greedy and you’re afraid to die.”

I looked at the two of them and saw something that it was not in my power to mend. In anyone’s power to mend.

“Go,” I said. “Leave. I have nothing left to say to you.”

It emboldened them, I saw. The resignation in my voice. They’d poured poison into the ear of anyone who would listen and not been chastised for it.

“How petulant you are when unmasked,” Exarch Honorion mocked.

“We’ll survive without you,” I said, gaze sweeping across the entire lot of them. “Despite you, if we must. So let your records state this, Nestor Ikaroi: when Death came for Calernia, men and women rose to meet it. From the Blessed Isle to Segovia, from Levante to Rhenia, they came when the call sounded.”

I spat into the snow.

“Death came for Calernia, and when steel was bared to turn it back the League of Free Cities was nowhere in sight,” I said.

Quills moved against parchment, the scribes of the Secretariat recording the words spoken. Cloak of Woe tight on my shoulder, I let out a misty breath and looked at the sky. I was done here, wasn’t I? If diplomacy could mend any of this, let Cordelia Hasenbach take care of it.

“And?” General Basilia said.

The other Helikean, pale-eyed and straight-backed, let out a hissing breath.

“Yes,” General Pallas. “Yes. The blood quickened.”

“Then we part ways here,” General Basilia said, saddened.

I would have left, had Archer not put a hand on my shoulder. Indrani was smiling.

“Will you not flee back to your barracks, Helikeans?” Exarch Prodocius called out. “Your little intrigues are of no import to us, and the cripple no longer-”

General Basilia unsheathed her sword, which had the man flinching.

“I speak now the will and testament of King Kairos Theodosian, Lord Tyrant of Helike, the Unbroken,” General Basilia said, voice echoing across the plains.

Prodocius flicked a glance at the sword and swallowed whatever he’d been about to say.

“With me dies the line of Theodosius, at last conquered by death. I name no successor and offer no legacy, save for the following words,” General Basilia said, and her eyes were wetly shining, “Ye of Helike, do as you will.”

“Oh, would you shut up with the-” Exarch Honorion began.

He did not finish, for General Basilia rammed her sword through his throat. Half the soldiers on the hill had swords in hand before a heartbeat has passed, but the dark-eyed woman only laughed. She ripped the sword out and flicked blood onto the snow. Penthesian soldiers crowded around the other Exarch protectively, shields raised.

Murderer,” Exarch Prodocius screamed, voice gone shrill with fear. “How dare you, you-”

“Tyrant?” General Basilia said. “I suppose we shall see. You may consider this a declaration of war, Prodocius. Penthes can hang you as a traitor to the League and servant of the Empress, or it can burn. It makes no difference to me.”

“Are you mad?” Basileus Leo yelled. “Do you not understand the consequences of-”

“Tell me, you pathetic worm,” Basilia nonchalantly said. “What will you do, if I ignore your petty threats? What have you ever done that I should fear you?”

“I’ll not allow you to run rampant, Helikean,” the young man snarled.

“Then beat me, Nicaean,” General Basilia grinned.

And she had, I thought, so very little in common with Kairos in body. She was well-formed and made like a soldier, not striking save perhaps those sharp cheekbones but not in the least ungainly to look at. Yet when she grinned that grin, all pearly white teeth and daring, for a moment I would have thought… She reined in her mount, offered us a salute of her sword, and rode back to her soldiers. The young Basileus let out a shout of anger but did not pursue. He barked out orders in tradertongue and his soldiers clustered with the Penthesians once more, beginning a quick march back to the rest of his force. He offered no farewells, and I had said all I intended to say. Secretary Nestor Ikaroi, however, remained. Along with his scribes. They stood in silence, watching. Waiting. General Pallas dismounted. Under the pale moonlight she came to stand before me, tanned and grey-eyed and inscrutable.

“My name,” she said, “is Pallas Messene. I am a general of Helike, raised to the rank by the Tyrant himself, for a score I have been a soldier and leader of soldiers.”

“You know,” I replied, “how I am.”

“I have seen it,” General Pallas agreed. “I tonight I saw it again. Once you called me and those under my command a worm in the flesh, Black Queen. You deemed us servants of Keter, and stripped us of all the strappings of kataphraktoi.”

“And of a bone as well,” I calmly said, “for the lives in my service you took.”

“Bones mend,” General Pallas said. “Armaments, horses, they can be had again. Pride is not to easily bartered back.”

“That is not in my power to return,” I said.

‘’It is,” the grey-eyed woman disagreed. “In keeping to my oath, I spilled blood to the benefit of the King of Death. I weep not for this, for I swore to a Theodosian and there can be no higher calling. And yet I would even the balance, with oath given anew.”

She knelt, dark-haired and stone-faced, in the snow.

“Every wound I dealt, I deal anew,” Pallas Messene spoke. “Every battle I fought, I fight anew. Let spears shatter and swords break, for my oath will not. Let there be no rest nor relief until the war is won, and should death take me let me rise in indignation, for I am a daughter of Helike and we were borne unconquered. I swear to this, Black Queen of Callow: until the King of Death knows oblivion or I do, my sword is pledged to your war.”

Behind her, three hundred cataphracts dismounted under moonlight.

“How many?” I asked.

“Half,” she said.

“Half the kataphraktoi?” I said, surprised.

That was near two thousand soldiers.

“We do as we will, now,” General Pallas smiled, looking up at the night sky. “He gifted us this.”

After a long moment, she met my gaze.

“Half the army of Helike, Black Queen,” she said. “If Death comes, let it learn the same lesson as every other army under the sun: there is Helike, and there is the rest.”

249 thoughts on “Chapter 88: Testament

          1. Shveiran

            Can you not, please?

            I understand you and others dislike these jokes, but could you please just scroll down rather than complain?
            I don’t understand what you wish to achieve.

            Liked by 4 people

            1. I wish to discourage and get them to stop.

              This isn’t just several people trying to do the vote reminder. This is REPLIES, this is people deliberately trying to one-up each other with the vote reminder.

              I’m trying to get them to stop doing that, specifically.

              Liked by 5 people

              1. Jarthon

                I personally enjoy this thread quite a bit, and while I can understand your position, I also don’t think it’s likely to change because of said opinion. I’m sorry, and I say this with no mean intent–and you are, of course, ultimately free to continue as you like–but you may end up being less irritated with the comments in general if you can find a way to just skip past the comment thread and go to the story discussion that you enjoy and contribute so much too. Again, I apologize for any rudeness.

                Liked by 4 people

                  1. Yatr

                    They are suggesting either making peace with the fact that everybody has fun in different ways, and that for some people that’s comedic one upping, while for others it’s serious story debate.

                    I’ve worked in PR for years and my unsolicited advice would be to either become a moderator and have actual teeth other than the passive aggression of “can you not?” Or (and I’ve always found this option to work best for myself) to simply make peace with them having a different sense of fun from oneself.

                    Hope this helped & didn’t come off condescending💛

                    Liked by 3 people

                    1. Well I cannot just go and BECOME a mod. It’s not a spell i have access to casting :3

                      And I’d been making peace with it for a while before starting this campaign of asking ppl to stop. I definitely found the latter to be more soul healing than the former.

                      Like

    1. … the rest. Including the typo thread.

      It is known, however that, a substance like the one you describe can be readily obtained through Mercantis.
      The comma after that needs to be after however instead.

      There are a few more typos that I saw. Can you find them?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. RoflCat

        And an extra ‘gift’ to Cath, the closest thing to a soulmate he ever has.

        I’m almost certain Kairos saw this result coming (half Helike army goes to Cath to war on Keter, the other half destroying the bastards that’s been corrupting the League)
        With his Wish, he can probably tell that Basilia would choose to avenge him on the League and indirectly Malicia, while Pallas has been….’charmed’ by Cath’s charisma since that one breaking and would join the war on Keter both for answering the call and repaying for what she’s done.

        Basilia also likely knew this, that’s why she asked that question, even while internally she likely knew Pallas would go as soon as Cath made that declaration.

        Liked by 12 people

        1. I think it’s much more elementary. The Tyrant, being who he is to his core, couldn’t let a scheme like Malicia’s who he knew was being woven for years amongst his cities without throwing in a wrench for shits and giggles, another for the indignation of scheming against his city even after his death, and a third because betrayal and scheming against scheming is his very nature.

          It’s not necessarily because Cat, this three-headed wrench which is secretly a screw-driver disguised as a bolt-cutter was meant to screw over Malicia and her schemes no matter who it would concern. And the seeds of her scheme and therefore his betrayal might actually be older than his relationship with Cat by months if not years. He might’ve done this before Cat came into her Name as a Squire, that upon his deathbed he tweaked things a bit to see this wrench to be wielded by her was just a personal favourite flavour of icing on the cake.

          Liked by 6 people

          1. Correction: The Still Water against Ashur specifics are only a few months old, but that’s still just about as long as that Tyrant has personally known Cat. Their first meeting was somewhere before Iserre. The seeds of civil war at her fingertips post-Tyrant was what Malicia sowed for years, logically speaking considering he as a Named was actually older and active for longer than Cat.

            Liked by 3 people

          2. RoflCat

            He probably planned the backstabbing for sure, but I think his interactions with Cath have made him do some…final adjustment, for this result.

            The initial plan was likely just Helike going to town on those League members collaborating with Malicia, hence Basilia going that way. But him giving them the freedom to choose is most likely for Pallas, so that she can follow her ‘wish’ that Kairos saw probably ever since Cath crushed the kataphractoi (after all, Pallas will prioritize her loyalty to Kairos over her own desire if she has to choose)

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Nah, he would have gone for ‘do as you will’ either way. The key moment here is knowing what Basilia wants and wanting her to do just that. Pallas is an amusing bonus.

              Yes, I’m picturing Kairos having a view of this from the afterlife and giggling happily.

              Like

        2. Insanenoodlyguy

          the way you said it, “charmed.” heh

          I’m just imagining Akua with a flare of jealously at this point, glaring all “Bitch, she fucking ripped my heart out, you just got some broken fingers. Fuck you, I was mutilated by her first and better, talking about your blood. Didn’t even leave me any blood! Fuck off away from my woman!”

          Liked by 9 people

      2. Shequi

        Not just Malicia, but the entire League, and especially Bellerophon

        “Ye of Helike, do as you will.” is a fantastic counterpoint to “We are all of us free or none of us free; Ye of this land, brook no compromise on this”

        What Kairos has done is to give Helike a guiding principle that will echo down the years, explicitly opposed to Bellerophon’s core ideal.

        That’s not merely a betrayal; it’s setting up for a dozen wars down the long centuries, all of which will be fought in the name of Kairos Theodosian, Tyrant of Helike.

        Kairos, you magnificent bastard. The gods below are going to be entertained by this for centuries.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Ultimate_procrastinator

            Possibly, but the last wishes of the last tyrant of the city, faithfully carried out by his most loyal followers after his death, would certainly have quite a large impact, particularly if you can trace it’s impact over several centuries. Heck, one of the characters (White Knight I think) noted a few chapters back that Kairos was the closest thing to a High Priest of Below they had in that age; hard to imagine someone like that NOT having a near-unbelievably large influence on those he ruled

            Liked by 1 person

            1. > particularly if you can trace it’s impact over several centuries

              See, I just think that the only impact it’s going to have is on what his immediate followers do. Everyone else is going to act as Lawful/Good as they ever have, Basilia’s just going to mix her own actions into it the exact way she wants.

              Like

    1. Jane

      Even when Malicia loses, she wins; the sign of a well-crafted Xanatos gambit. From the moment Penthes agreed to smuggle the Still Water, there was no real scenario where she doesn’t come out ahead; either they do what she wants, or in failing her, the resulting fallout cripples a pack of possible meddlers.

      Liked by 10 people

  1. Ox

    I shiver thinking about the moment the dam breaks and Cat no longer holds back. When the cards are on the table, and we see her back in the ring. The returning champion, the broken idealist, the last resort.

    Liked by 17 people

    1. Razorfloss razor

      And when that happens creation will learn exactly why she is the black queen and fear her. When she finally cuts lose creation and anything in her way will burn

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Decius

        The DK would think “I can survive any destination that the portal opening up under me might be, if nothing else because it would be an offscreen presumed death.”

        Bard would think “I’m going to follow him through that portal and make sure he dies.”

        Heirophant would take the opportunity to Witness the Sun up close and firsthand.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. DK: I can survive whatever situation she throws me in.

          Cat: *Throws him into the gnome capital barracks.

          DK: Correction, I can survive almost any situation she throws me in. But having seen just half a second of their forbidden tech makes me now tripple tripple-red-letter’d and me and Keter the top priority to be levelled to the ground. Well shit.

          Liked by 4 people

        2. Insanenoodlyguy

          Cold space might actually be better. The sun might destroy his body and let him get another one. Just being in the middle of space? Okay, you can’t die? That’s fine. Go be immortal in the void, have fun with that.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. Ben Serreau-Raskin

    Hot damn, that was spicy. Fantastic chapter, I legitimately got chills when Cat almost cut loose.

    Also that bit with General Palas was the coolest falling in loyalty I’ve seen since Hakram first signed on board.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Argentorum

      Here’s something spicy for you. Basilia knew Pallas was taking half the army of Helike with her, and she went and started a war with Nicae all the same.

      “Do as thou wilt.”

      Liked by 21 people

      1. Basilia, even assuming she doesn’t fall into a Name which I assume she won’t but there are hints of Cat seeing it, doesn’t have to war with the rest of the Free Cities. Athalante and Delos likely won’t participate in the war lest feeling that they will be threatened if doing nothing, Bellophon will not intervene either way, meaning Helike only needs to fight against Penthes and Nicea. Assuming Nicea to face them rather than stay on the sidelines trying to pull the League together, that is. More likely, it’s just them against the Exarchs.

        What about Stygia? They seems to rely on Wasteland protection with no more intent to continue warring after 5 books of exhausting their troops in what the first or second book already described to be a waning period for them of the experienced lads growing old and the new recruits not yet being broken in. With too few Magisters, Akua having exhausted half their old garde and Tyrant the other half likely, the new generation needing all the reins they have left to keep from rebelling and the whole situation we’ve got now, they will not war unless absolutely necessary. As said, they will back the winning horse.

        Can Helike win with half their troops facing Penthes? Hey Penthes. Look at me, look at your troops, look back at me, look at the map, back to me, back to you. You’re in Procer, we outnumber your your armies in the delegation (courtesy of the late Tyrant) and you cannot return to your region without going through Helike. What will you do, go through the Ranger’s woods again? We needed two Named and all our rested armies to pull that stunt the first time. And you’re not mad enough to go through Praes AND afford Mercantis’s rates to get your armies back to your country. Face it, you need to return through our lands. Hammer and Anvil against your armies, how much have you left back home to defend against a land-based attack? Didn’t think so.

        Politically speaking when combining hostilities and the geography, Nicea likely sees themselves looking at having to side with Helike again lest they end up with one Praes-compromised ally and an equal to greater foe because of it, Stygia backing Helike or no one at all, and the rest not getting involved at all. By choosing sides and being willing to attack the other League armies on Procerian soil while backing the Grand Alliance with troops against Keter, Helike completely tore apart the suggested political system of convenience that Malicia weaved.

        New tally: Penthes supports Praes. Helike sides with Callow’s Grand Alliance. Stygia, Athalante and Delos remain neutral or Grand Alliance-inclined backers but not participants. Bellophon doesn’t involve themselves at all. Nicea has to side with the Grand Alliance if they want the League balance on their side to be in their favour AND to survive Ashur’s retaliation politically. All because Helike did a thing.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Insanenoodlyguy

          I feel like Basilla has decent odds. She loved the Tyrant (Platonically I believe, but still love), and she just effectively made a claim on the Name. If she’s the ruler of Helike doing what she wants and causing wanton carnage along the way, I feel like the shoe’s gonna fit. Plus there’s the fact that Kairos would probably support it. After all, she just showed up, stabbed one of her allies and declared war on them, in the name of the League she’s about to ensure is destroyed. Betrayal while simultaneously professing to do it in the best interests of the people she’s warring on? That’s keeping things entertaining!

          Liked by 4 people

            1. Insanenoodlyguy

              I took it as more of a “There’s things I have to do/attempt and I will either be dead or be Tyrant at the end. Lets find out how it goes!”

              I’d have to assume there’s going to be at least one other claimant and there might be some certain expectations associated with it that she has to fufil, likely in Helike, before she’d be acknowledged as more than one who is trying for the name.

              Liked by 4 people

    2. Falling in loyalty is the best phrasing.

      Also, it looked like Pallas was already halfway there beforehand, seeing how it only took a few words with Basilia to sort out what the two of them were doing ;u;

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Jane

    Oh, my. When it had been brought up multiple times that it was odd that the two city-states were allied despite the whole Still Death thing, I had thought to myself that perhaps they had somehow pinned the blame on Cat instead, but I couldn’t decide how they could make it plausible. By obscuring the flaws by having Cat accuse Malicia first, however, then exposing Akua, well, that would do it. Now I wish I had made the prediction earlier, so I could take credit for it…

    A nice trick with Malicia’s plot, though; we’re so used to seeing things through the lens of the protagonist that seeing her used as a tool against a power that we don’t pay much mind ends up both being perfectly hidden in advance, and perfectly obvious in hindsight. Granted, attempted murder does have a way of making one think that the goal is supposed to be… Well, murder.

    That said, if Cat had gone with her instincts and butchered them all, I can only imagine the celebration Malicia would have had… There are so. Many. Ways. for that to have gone wrong… I wonder if she would have gotten a Name for it, though, or if her high priestess status prohibits that. Because that sounds like the kind of stunt that earns one a Name.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Crash

      Reckon that’d be the Black Queen claim she refused to make.

      As far as being high priestess I don’t see how that blocks a name. That is a facet of Catherine Foundling and as such, is part of what would make any name she grasps for herself but there’s no reason to hinder that. Given enough time, High Priestess could well become a Name of the Sister’s faith.

      To be quite honest I’m excited for Cat’s new Name because while having her go on unnamed is very interesting, by the very rules of narrative Cat is all a Claimant is supposed to be. She has an objective and the willpower to do it while believing it has to be done and that she is the one to do so, she is very relevant to the workings of history and as a rule will bend Creation to her will if that is what needs to be done. All that is missing, I suppose, is the pivot to consolidate it all and what the heck is it going to be? Something quite great either way.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. Thorium

        I assume the idea of Cat being unable to get a Name comes from the fact that the crows reject the choirs. They might not take too well to Cat being granted a Name by Above, but they are technically servants of Below, so I doubt they can really do much on that front.
        As for the Name of High Priestess, I find that highly unlikely. The position might very well become a Name at some point, but given the drow’s thoughts on gender, something like First Under The Night sounds a lot more plausible.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. > I assume the idea of Cat being unable to get a Name comes from the fact that the crows reject the choirs.

          What?

          It’s… it’s not like the crows would have any input on Cat getting a Name, other than as part of the narrative background…

          > As for the Name of High Priestess, I find that highly unlikely. The position might very well become a Name at some point, but given the drow’s thoughts on gender, something like First Under The Night sounds a lot more plausible.

          Well, Sve Noc shared the Name Priestess of Night, so there’s that.

          First Under The Night cannot be a Name because it does not refer to an archetype.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. Sve Noc are lesser gods, and gods do seem to have a hand in giving Names. Remember with Captain’s origin extra chapter, she went to a withering lesser orc god to get her Name instead of being just a werewolf? By killing him she got her Name, had she subjected herself to him she would’ve also gained a Name but lesser or different. Not allowing for Names to be granted to them seems like something that even lesser gods like Sve Noc can do similar to preventing mind reading and predicting one’s future.

            Whether Priestess of Night, First Under the Night and High Priestess are Names rather than titles like Exarch of Nicea is a stretch either way. They’re given by the people but hold no Name powers, similar to how Cordelia is First Prince and Warden of the West from the moment she was corronated. Both are Names, but she carried both as title yet holding neither Name.

            Black Queen though, that might’ve been Cat’s Name all along since her corronation. Her fitting into Name events like the Band of Five and gaining the Yew Staff or Fairfax Sword are a lot more Story-pulled than the non-Named actions we see around. Too Story-pulled, even when assuming her Duchess of Moonless Nights title was the Name that explained her role and being controlled into a Story that Keter I and the Everdark clearly were. One doesn’t happenstance into those situations at the exact right moment or way without a Name pulling providence, with the Book 5 events being a bit vaguer in this but still suggesting Name plot.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Crash

              For the thousand time buddies, not every Above name is chained to a Choir and even when they are, as we saw in the interlude of Mr Stalwart Paladin, the Named has to accept their interference. While I would love to watch Endurance try to make a claim on Cat, she is not going to accept that.

              We’ve seem gods be part of the getting a Name with Captain yes, but she didn’t get her name because Orc god gave it to her. Sabah got it because she killed the god, as she tought that was her path to getting her new Name, and in my opnion if she tought that then that was the truth because that is the way the Story goes. The orc god being a god didn’t matter so much as Sabah deciding what she wanted and how she’d achieve it, thus making his slaying into a pivotal point for herself, did.

              As for Cat already being the Black Queen:

              From Book 3 – chapter 69 – Swan Song

              ” If I was to be queen, it would be a queen cloaked in black with hands bloodied red. Though young and half-formed, the Name was taking shape. Beckoning. ”

              Here, the Name of Black Queen was starting to come into being. Then |Black Destroyed the contraption that held the souls of the Watch and as such, Cat didn’t make a deal with the Empress and the Story of the Black Queen was no more. However, it doesn’t seem to have been fully destroyed:

              From Book 3 – chapter 72 – Curtains:

              ” Had I truly become the Black Queen, I thought, had my teacher not broken that transition as recklessly as he had the city, they would have been mine to rule.
              […]
              Gamble was too light a word, but if every other path led to a land of graveyards it was a risk that must be taken.”

              Here Cat thinks about whether gambling herself into becoming the Black Queen was still worth it and while she decides it’s too risky a gamble, she seems to indicate that it’s still a possibility altought she has no intent on doing it yet. In this chapter of today, she again wonders if it wouldn’t be best to just take that plunge and again decides not to.

              She has also been offered a Name from Above a couple times, most notably with the Sword of the Fairfaxes. Which she refused for her Yew Staff that she herself made into a weapon.

              Now, she has refused names from both Above and Below and I don’t see why she’d stop doing so. Cat’s Name is likely going to be one of the Neutral names whose alignment varies with it’s current owner.

              Liked by 5 people

              1. I’m not sure if the Sword of the Fairfaxes would have given her an Above-powered Name. Seems a little incompatible with her being literally a high priestess of Below-empowered deities.

                That said, I would love to see that. I actively loudly WANT to see that. I want to see Cat wield Night and Light at the same time as her own native powers more than I want almost anything else.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Crash

                  See my guess is that the sword would have given her a Name like Queen of Blades or something close to that, think along the lines of the Saint; Not the most decent person, but certainly still associated to Above.

                  Sorta like Queen Elizabeth (?) Fairfax, who is tought of fondly by the people of Callow, a country historically associated to the Good side, who first instituted the Forlorn Hope treating the men and women destined to the gallows as already dead and thus using them for fodder to improve the chances of her army sorta like say, using them for blood magic like a certain Bellow-affiliated Dread Empire. By that logic, associating yourself with two goddesses that bring an entire army that could make a difference in winning agains the Dead King? Well that sounds about right. Do the most good, even if to do that you have to be less nice and clean handed than other heroes.

                  Anyway, I’d pay good money to watch Cat and Endurance interact in any way, even better if the later make its pitch to her, that’d be neat.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. We have WoG that Cat has no chance for Queen of Blades specifically because she’d need to be narratively associated with actual literal blades a lot more than she currently is.

                    That said, my understanding is that most Names are Neutral, and colored by circumstance: like what Hanno recently said about Archer and Ranger, except most Named (as opposed to their Names! people specifically) don’t really flip-flop like that and tend to stick to one type of stories to be involved in and one side to be associated with.

                    And that said, the side Cat’s associated with is certainly Below.

                    For that to be broken, the Name needs to be a SPECIFICALLY Light-powered one.

                    And that.
                    Would.
                    Be.
                    Hilarious.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Crash

                      I’d like to apologize for my terrible wording on that.

                      I went with Queen of Blades because I wanted something Queen-related but still martial/Army related and couldn’t come up with anything, rather than to associate her with swords; the fact that I immediatly followed with a comparison to Saint of Swords did not help with it at all. Sorry.

                      As far as names being Neutral, that sounds right in theory but can you see a Black Knight working for a choir or a White Knight born to Praes? While it sounds interesting, it doesn’t sound like something that’d happen.

                      As far as being associated to Below yeah, I don’t know how feasible it is to get a Name from Above out of that. That said, come on choirs make your damn offer already!

                      Liked by 2 people

                  2. (sticking this earlier so you’ll see it in notifications, but I cannot access mine and so cannot make it a reply down there)

                    > As far as names being Neutral, that sounds right in theory but can you see a Black Knight working for a choir or a White Knight born to Praes? While it sounds interesting, it doesn’t sound like something that’d happen.

                    Black and White Knight are the very iconic NON-Neutral Names. Like when you ask ‘well what Names AREN’T Neutral’ my first thought is ‘well White Knight and Black Knight for example’ before I even go into ‘Grey Pilgrim’ and ‘Stalwart Paladin’ and ‘Warlock’ and ‘Tyrant’.

                    Neutral Names are the skill-based ones. Painted Knife, Vagrant Spear, Rogue Sorcerer, Thief, Hunter, Witch of the Woods? Captain, Adjutant, Hierophant, Scribe? Vengeful Brigand, Silent Slayer, Assassin? I can easily see these being reversed wrt what side they belong without anyone blinking an eye.

                    Lone Swordsman is an interesting case, as there doesn’t seem to be anything inherently heroic in the basic archetype (going off stories from our world, it probably tends more towards heroic, but an opponent to a lone swordsman is another lone swordsman but evil…), but the one we knew was Choir powered and using Light. So, looks like it would vary not only from Name to Name, but from Named to Named as well.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Crash

                      Yeah, okay, this makes sense.I guess my failure here was that the first few Names that occurred to me had too much historied association with Below (Warlock, Black Knight, Empress, Tyrant) so going off of that I got the whole idea rather skewed.

                      Liked by 2 people

              2. Not true, in Book 1 Amadeus flatly explained that Named to be are in part decided by interaction and acknowledgement by other Named. It’s because he wanted her to be Squire, that she became Squire after years of no such Evil Named coming to be. And he’s just a Named. Gods are Named and then some.

                Now, one doesn’t just give a Name, but from what we’ve seen it’s not an act that decides one’s Name being given (contrary to how some people in this chat are too eager to assign Name-earning to any heroic act) but bestowal. So all but directly and officially Names are given. Book 1 basic exposition, supported by what we’ve seen. There is a saturation limit, f.e. Cat could’ve made Named Winter Court folk but eventually she would’ve ran out of titles same as how the Winter King couldn’t give without taking from someone else. But the Gods and Lesser Gods Bestow Names, one doesn’t get it by act. The act can at most result in a God taking notice and Bestowing.

                I too agree that there is still the matter of the Named to be having to accept this, never debated or suggested that. Cordelia solidly proved that one. Not sure why Thorium brought the Choirs into this at all, they kind of came out of the right field. And the sword of the Fairfax, that’s you making the assumption that this would’ve been a Name rather than a cool magical sword. Likely it’s just Creation giving Cat a sword that comes with recognition as Fairfax/Callow’s ruler somehow, not actually a Name.

                On her no longer being the Black Queen because the Name broke, not only is that an in-game assumption by unreliable narrator, doubly so because it’s Winter Fey Cat saying it, she has been called the Black Queen by so many and has shown and proven to be helped and countered by providence that she likely has a Name in at least some capacity. The way Bard interacted with her nigh assures it, by sheer limitation of Bard’s powers. Book 5 may have mended and returned the Black Queen Name, without us being told this explicitly by Cat herself.

                And, what we saw in this chapter, that’s not her being the Black Queen, that’s her making decisive action. As she’s the first Black Queen, her title doesn’t come with any such defined actions, even if Names are that defined to begin with which they aren’t necessarily (Not every Tyrant was chaotic evil like Kairos, the accumulated treasure throve actually suggests a more prudent lawful evil character.), Cat’s Name wouldn’t be defined like that. Yet. To slaughter is not synonymous with becoming the Black Queen or taking the Name.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. > but from what we’ve seen it’s not an act that decides one’s Name being given (contrary to how some people in this chat are too eager to assign Name-earning to any heroic act) but bestowal.

                  What?

                  Source?

                  > Cat could’ve made Named Winter Court folk

                  No, she… she could have given fae titles. That’s an entirely different thing on an entirely different axis – she was Squire and a Duchess at the same time???

                  > I too agree that there is still the matter of the Named to be having to accept this

                  Most of the time, nope there isn’t.

                  > And the sword of the Fairfax, that’s you making the assumption that this would’ve been a Name rather than a cool magical sword. Likely it’s just Creation giving Cat a sword that comes with recognition as Fairfax/Callow’s ruler somehow, not actually a Name.

                  I actually agree with this one. The sword would have probably had enough narrative weight to catalyze a Name for a random non-Named managing to claim it, but Cat has too much weight of her own for a sword to be enough to push her into a new groove.

                  > On her no longer being the Black Queen because the Name broke, not only is that an in-game assumption by unreliable narrator, doubly so because it’s Winter Fey Cat saying it, she has been called the Black Queen by so many and has shown and proven to be helped and countered by providence that she likely has a Name in at least some capacity.

                  Catherine isn’t THAT unreliable a narrator, nobody has been an unreliable narrator about their own Name so far, not even Anaxares who you’d think would be the very epitome of one. And Amadeus has been called Carrion Lord by everyone the entire time since he lost his Name, are you saying that one’s a Name too? Not every common nickname is a Name.

                  And being helped and countered by providence is a function of having a Role, not a Name. Those are different things. Every Name is associated with a Role, but not every Role is matched with a Name.

                  > And, what we saw in this chapter, that’s not her being the Black Queen, that’s her making decisive action. As she’s the first Black Queen, her title doesn’t come with any such defined actions, even if Names are that defined to begin with which they aren’t necessarily

                  Names are flexible, yes. There is a specific narrative groove they’re a label on, and once you’re out of it you lose the Name, is all. And the Black Queen narrative groove, as explained in Book 3 by not ASSUMPTIONS but Name-provided intuitive understanding which has been entirely reliable and informative in every single narration so far EVEN ANAXARES’S, was already formed as associated with Cat taking charge of the Liesse superweapon.

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                  1. The Gods Above and Below give the Name with Named having influence, it’s not an act that you have to commit to be assured a Name. Saying that it’s an act is less supported than this claim, as right there in Book 1 with the basic exposition Amadeus made someone who did virtually nothing but kill some corrupt guard the Squire. Hakram did nothing noteworthy, nor did Masego. They all just got on the stage near the Named that the Gods Below watched. And the way Bard tried to make Cordelia WotW showed that the act is more a pivot of first appearance having weight that can be gamed, rather than the decisive factor.

                    Fey titles were pretty much Names, ordered in power by the height of their title. During book 2 they pretty much outright said that the entire marketplace and then the entire court was a bunch of Named going through their Stories over and over again a thousandfold. The fey indeed aren’t mortal Named, but they’re a version of Named all the same. Which Cat could’ve made, she even considered it to give Robber immortality vs his ever impeding aging to death.

                    Most of the time, Named definately have to accept it. They can do so nigh certainly and immediately, especially considering the Name recognition and them being simple folk, but they still have to. William’s case might’ve involved a Hashmallim brainwashing him because of its very presence, but technically that was a choice. All Squire Claimants had a choice to participate, and likely they would’ve just not been Claimants if they didn’t want to (unless Below wants them tied to the contest for their own amusement). Cordelia clearly shows defying her Name offered, while other Named like Masego likely felt it and immediately accepted the Name. (For all his wisdom, he’s always been a bit too eager to gain powers even at the expense of ‘pieces of soul he wasn’t using anyway.’)

                    The difference between the Carrion Lord and Black Queen is that the Carrion Lord is indeed just a title, while the Black Queen has been previously confirmed to be a Name in the making. Cordelia is called First Prince and Warden of the West without holding either Name, too. But Cat never directly said she didn’t have a Name, and with Bard’s interference, Pilgrim’s behaviour towards her and her providence of playing into things like meeting White Knight, there’s cause to believe she has a Name more than a mere Role like Cordelia.

                    If we’d only see Cat have parts of providence and abilities that mortals would have, such as Cordelia being able to jump out of a window after stabbing herself and getting scot-free thanks to reputation and knowledge on the guards’ culture, then I’d agree with you that it would be the Role and the way it and providence can control everyone. But the things we’ve seen with f.e. getting the kapactroi’s loyalty with her thresher abilities and her Role in the Band of Five, it’s too much Story-supported in ways that weren’t her skills alone that a Name ought to be there.

                    And with the hints of Sve Noc apparently roving through her mind changing or blocking memories and thought processes for her ultimate plan to ve/ /with a block of cheddar, combined with her coming fresh out of a Winter Fey state that took her free will and rationality the more she’d drink it, the transition back to a much weaker Name that doesn’t cover the same as Squire might not be as obvious to Cat. I’m not saying that Cat is being a fully unreliable narrator, I am saying that there is enough rason to believe that she has a Name that she’s not continuously referencing or which she herself hasn’t noticed yet due to the lesser gods in her mind being enough cause for her to overlook it. Considering them to be power-stealers, her Name might be hollowed out or held in reserve by the sisters too for all we know.

                    And again, the Black Queen was the groove of bloodshed that was definately the case what groove it would have to follow. Back then. It’s a first-time Name, no one but Cat knew Below’s newest Name design. Considering Cat still has the title Black Queen and there has never been a Black Queen ever to create a true precedent of what a BQ should be, there’s no need to assume that the new Black Queen Name wouldn’t be a different design by the same Name that uses Cat’s easiest and most recognised title. What was said in book 3 needs not necessarily still be the case, because there’s no previous Black Queen to have consolidated the groove that it has to follow.

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                    1. > The Gods Above and Below give the Name with Named having influence, it’s not an act that you have to commit to be assured a Name. Saying that it’s an act is less supported than this claim, as right there in Book 1 with the basic exposition Amadeus made someone who did virtually nothing but kill some corrupt guard the Squire.

                      Wait, is Amadeus now a God Above or Below???

                      It’s not about committing acts specifically, it’s about FITTING A GROVE. Matching an archetype. Amadeus accepting Cat as his student MADE HER MUCH MORE OF A SQUIRE. Because, y’know, a knight’s apprentice is what a squire IS. She still had to prove herself by killing other claimants from there, note. And all the claimants were absolutely certain – and other characters were certain of this as well – that killing all other claimants would award them the Name. It’s a stably working mechanism for this kind of situation with Praesi ambition-based Names: kill the others, get the Name.

                      There is an established mechanism for becoming a Dread Emperor/Empress, Warlock, Black Knight and Chancellor as well. Nobody at any point asked ‘but do Gods Below like me enough to BESTOW this Name upon me?’ Everyone was always like ‘okay I do this, that and that and the Name is bagged’. Akua notably constructed the Name Diabolist for herself entirely deliberately, crafting a story about herself that fit her comfortably.

                      We can insist that Gods Below are totally a part of the process, it’s just that their favor works so automatically and their selection criteria are so widely known and intuitive, everyone just KNOWS how to appease them perfectly and they never act unpredictably.

                      Or we can acknowledge that it’s a tiny invisible angels hypothesis and it would work exactly the same way if Below didn’t have any personal part in the process at all.

                      > Fey titles were pretty much Names, ordered in power by the height of their title. During book 2 they pretty much outright said that the entire marketplace and then the entire court was a bunch of Named going through their Stories over and over again a thousandfold. The fey indeed aren’t mortal Named, but they’re a version of Named all the same. Which Cat could’ve made, she even considered it to give Robber immortality vs his ever impeding aging to death.

                      Yes, fae are subject to stories. That doesn’t make them Named any more than dying of stupidity made Dorian (Exiled Prince) a fae.

                      Names are a specific mechanic of the world. You have a Name as a label on a groove you fit, you can claim it and later you can transition out of it or (rarely) just lose it and become non-Named again. You get three Aspects and a mana pool based on your Name’s strength and how well you fit it. You can do tricks with this mana pool, some of them Name-specific, some fairly universal.

                      Anything that isn’t that IS NOT A NAME. It’s just… something else. Like a fae title. Or a Role. Or a portion of Night. Or being an important politician. Or sorcerous ability. Not a Name!

                      > Most of the time, Named definately have to accept it. They can do so nigh certainly and immediately, especially considering the Name recognition and them being simple folk, but they still have to. William’s case might’ve involved a Hashmallim brainwashing him because of its very presence, but technically that was a choice. All Squire Claimants had a choice to participate, and likely they would’ve just not been Claimants if they didn’t want to (unless Below wants them tied to the contest for their own amusement). Cordelia clearly shows defying her Name offered, while other Named like Masego likely felt it and immediately accepted the Name. (For all his wisdom, he’s always been a bit too eager to gain powers even at the expense of ‘pieces of soul he wasn’t using anyway.’)

                      Oooh, this is an interesting discussion.

                      I’d argue that in William’s case it was less brainwashing and more that Hashmallim appeared to him because they already knew he was contrite. He already was half-mad wandering through woods alone when an angel appeared before him! But yes, angels always give their chosen heroes a choice. And for some choirs at least it’s an ongoing one – when Tariq stopped acting like Mercy wanted him to, they went away for a while until he returned to the groove on his own.

                      Many Praesi Names – like Squire – have ambition as a part of the groove. Like specifically a part of the story is that the person WANTS this. If you don’t want it, you don’t fit the requirement. All Champion Names are like this on the Good side. Squire, Black Knight, Dread Emp, Chancellor, looks like Warlock as well. Actually I wonder if someone might be forced into the groove of Squire beside their will… that sounds like something that might happen, with ambition being a big but still optional element.

                      At the same time, we already know there are position-based Names you don’t get to refuse if you’re in the position. That’s how Hierarch happened – Anaxares wanted nothing with it, but since others acknowledged him as the hierarch of the League, he got the Name automatically. It’s possible that the same applies to Dread Emp and Chancellor – if you take up the position, the Name comes with it, and if you want to remain non-Named while still holding it, tough fucking luck. You don’t get the option.

                      Cordelia on the verge of a new Name getting the option to reject it is something Augur had to engineer deliberately, going against Bard in doing so. The way the story would have naturally played out, she would have had a chance to run or to stay, and the Name would have come automatically with staying, inseparably tied to it narratively.

                      We have characters who came into a Name without even realizing it for a while – Vivienne and Tariq. Tariq in fact faced a choice of “I don’t want to be a Named, but the only way I can get out of it is by no longer doing the thing that puts me into the groove – and I do want to keep doing the thing”. Vivienne just had no idea she was becomign Named until a while into it. Masego likely realized he was Apprentice immediately upon coming into the Name, what with growing up in a family of Named and them being right there to tell him, but he wasn’t aiming to get a Name with the action that gave it to him, he was just trying to explain something. The only way he could have gotten out of it after the fact was to stop being Warlock’s apprentice, not just by saying ‘okay but I don’t want a Name’. Nobody asked!

                      Even when a Name’s story demands voluntary acceptance, it’s often voluntary acceptance of an object level position, with the meta level position of, well, having a Name about it, coming automatically.

                      Even for Cordelia the choice of having a Name or not came in the form of choosing object level actions she could take. Those actions would have been mostly symbolic, all having the same immediate object level outcome, making the choice fairly ‘purely’ about the Name. Again, that situaiton was deliberately engineered by the Augur for just that purpose!

                      > And with the hints of Sve Noc apparently roving through her mind changing or blocking memories and thought processes for her ultimate plan

                      What???

                      Are you talking about the visions when Cat was dying? Because those were visions, not changed memories.

                      Are you talking about the clearly cut out / blocked out memory of Bard talking to Neshamah? Because that’s not something Sve Noc would have had any interest in doing, and it makes absolutely no sense to attribute it to them. Not when we have, well, Bard, an immoral eldritch abomination with weird interaction with stories and people’s consciousnesses, to finger.

                      > the transition back to a much weaker Name that doesn’t cover the same as Squire might not be as obvious to Cat. I’m not saying that Cat is being a fully unreliable narrator, I am saying that there is enough rason to believe that she has a Name that she’s not continuously referencing or which she herself hasn’t noticed yet due to the lesser gods in her mind being enough cause for her to overlook it. Considering them to be power-stealers, her Name might be hollowed out or held in reserve by the sisters too for all we know.

                      A Name is a part of a person’s soul. We know a lot more about them than you’re pretending here. Cat knows a lot about them very intimately, considering she once had an Aspect cut out of her, then had the whole Name ripped away and then immediately violently reclaimed it.

                      There is no basis for claiming what you are.

                      > And again, the Black Queen was the groove of bloodshed that was definately the case what groove it would have to follow. Back then. It’s a first-time Name, no one but Cat knew Below’s newest Name design.

                      Below’s???? Names are STORIES. Archetypes! People make them!

                      And you need to actually FIT the archetype. There is already an idea of what the Black Queen is like in people’s minds, and the key here is that IT DOESN’T FIT WHAT CATHERINE IS. She ISN’T what everyone thinks when they say ‘Black Queen’. There are like a dozen people on the whole continent who have correct association with ‘Black Queen’, as opposed to thousands of just Callowans who have an entirely different idea about it. Note Catherine musing just this chapter about how her reputation is rather disconnected from who she is.

                      If the entire continent somehow changed its mind about what ‘Black Queen’ refers to, sure, I can see it becoming a Name for Cat. But it hasn’t!

                      > I almost laughed at the notion that I could force Tariq to do anything, much less bend the rest of the Grand Alliance to my will, until I caught the look on their faces. Not Akua or Indrani, but the delegates of the League. Over half a hundred people were here, some of the most influential people in the League, and after the lunacy Prodocius had just spoken not a single one of their faces expressed disbelief. Fear and hesitation, anger and doubt, but none of them believed it to be absurd. Because they weren’t looking uphill and seeing me, I realized as my stomach sunk. They were looking at the victor of the Camps and the Graveyard, who’d strung along heroes and villains and dealt death to thousands. My reputation, these days, was enough to cow thousands of charging horsemen.

                      See also: Abigail’s fears, for more on the mismatch.

                      The groove is there. Cat has already defined it for everyone else with her actions.

                      And then failed to fit it.

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            2. > Sve Noc are lesser gods, and gods do seem to have a hand in giving Names. Remember with Captain’s origin extra chapter, she went to a withering lesser orc god to get her Name instead of being just a werewolf? By killing him she got her Name, had she subjected herself to him she would’ve also gained a Name but lesser or different.

              Literally anyone ‘has a hand in giving Names’ in that way. If Hakram hadn’t followed Catherine he wouldn’t have gotten his Name either, does this mean Catherine hands those out now?

              > Not allowing for Names to be granted to them seems like something that even lesser gods like Sve Noc can do similar to preventing mind reading and predicting one’s future.

              Not allowing Names to be granted to themselves I’ll give you, though I somehow doubt lesser gods CAN have those. To their followers? Literally nobody has been shown to have that power, aside from for the Names tied to positions. (IE I’m sure they could prevent someone from claiming a Name of Drow High Priest(ess) just by not giving them that job)

              > Whether Priestess of Night, First Under the Night and High Priestess are Names rather than titles like Exarch of Nicea is a stretch either way.

              Pretty sure Priestess of Night was a Name the sisters shared before they finished apotheosis. First Under The Night is not a Name as it’s not a character archetype and so doesn’t qualify. High Priestess is definitely a potential Name, but it’s not one anyone we know is currently holding.

              > They’re given by the people but hold no Name powers, similar to how Cordelia is First Prince and Warden of the West from the moment she was corronated. Both are Names, but she carried both as title yet holding neither Name.

              First Prince has never been a Name. Warden of the West hadn’t been either, until Cordelia got the option to claim it as such. Anything is a Name as long as it marks a clear story groove / Role. First Prince does not have any such. Warden of the West now does.

              > Black Queen though, that might’ve been Cat’s Name all along since her corronation.

              Black Queen was tied to a specific story groove that Cat came close to fitting into, but in the end didn’t. And won’t, anymore. So that door is closed unless she goes back to the “ok fuck it let’s threaten everyone with a superweapon” mindset for real.

              > Her fitting into Name events like the Band of Five and gaining the Yew Staff or Fairfax Sword are a lot more Story-pulled than the non-Named actions we see around. Too Story-pulled, even when assuming her Duchess of Moonless Nights title was the Name that explained her role and being controlled into a Story that Keter I and the Everdark clearly were. One doesn’t happenstance into those situations at the exact right moment or way without a Name pulling providence, with the Book 5 events being a bit vaguer in this but still suggesting Name plot.

              You are using “Name” to substitute for narrative/Role. Name is just one type of thing that happens around those, not every single thing ever. Yes, Catherine is having Name-like things happen to her without holding an actual Name, because she is playing a significant Role in the current continental stories and every single action she takes short of wiping herself in the privy has significant narrative weight. This suggests that IF she were to fit into a character archetype groove that exists in-universe she’d get a Name out of that. But there are currently none that she fits, with Black Queen being already tied to a different one.

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              1. Insanenoodlyguy

                I agree with most of this, but I got the impression that Warden of the West had been a name at one point? At least in as much as Cordelia would not have been the first if she took it.

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              2. Now I’ve noticed that you aren’t digging in your heels and throwing a flame war because the argument has gone on for more than two replies, rather than remaining civil and with arguments given and considered. So let me start by saying ‘Jay, constructive discussion rather than the toxic gridlocked argumentation that most internet arguments in!’, and that I applaud you for the these days too rare ability to keep this argument civilised. I love it when I occassionally find such a person to argue with. Let me know if you feel if I’m digging in my heels or otherwise toxically arguing, I’d hate to not reciprocate in kind.

                > Wait, is Amadeus now a God Above or Below???

                No, he’s Named. If he can have a hand in it, then a god certainly can. Which he didn’t say was specifically something that only he could do. Yes, the Black Knight specifically has a hand in Squire, but the narration didn’t narrow in on that. He explained that the presence and interaction with Named aid the surfacing of a Name.

                The difference in auto-bestowal lies with Below and Above. Below is about your due, becoming Dread Emperor is a guaranteed Name because that’s your due (Assuming the act to not be easily gained by sheer inheritance, which Praes virtually never does.) while the same doesn’t go for First Prince for Procer because that requires Righteousness or a need. Also, auto-bestowal by title was more a thing of the early books, and EE shifted a bit between writing style and approach between 1+2 and onwards.

                (Also, have to reply here because the other one simply doesn’t give me the reply button any more so thin the blocks have gotten.)

                On Named and fey: You seem to have a much more narrow view on Named. Named are anyone who is granted a Name or title that both benefits and counters them in the Story, which the Fey all the more fit into because they’re nigh enslaved to the Story. First fey Cat fought knew he couldn’t possibly win when she got him to narrate his plans and proclaim victory certain.

                But, if you read back, I occassionally specify mortal Named (or human Named, though considering orcs also have Names that’s not too accurate) instead of Named. Named are more powerful, mortal Named are the base system for most humans which indeed come with the three Aspects system. As we’ve seen, that’s hardly the only Named there are. Named aren’t all with three Aspects, lest you’d consider Named and mortal Named synonymous while assuming the other variants to be not Named. Which I do, because the Fey pretty clearly showed themselves a kind of Named that isn’t the three Aspects Named.

                Hence: You say Cat cannot have a Name because you have a completely different interpretation of Named than me. I disagree that what you specify as all Named are ALL Named instead of just a subsection of them. And in this, Cat can still have a Name instead of just a Role without Aspects and such because she’s in a different category of Named. Maybe the Drow Named, maybe the kind of god-patroned Named that Amadeus said Warlock tried to get once, maybe something much rarer to not come with many precedents.

                On William’s brainwashing, that’s more a personal opinion that when one’s presence auto-brainwashes an entire city to zealous suicide-murder, then there’s technically no free choice involved even if the same choice would’ve been made without the brainwashing.

                With Hierarch, he doesn’t have free will by his own free will. It’s likely more that he had to get the People’s approval to reject his Name before he could reject it. He already said he wasn’t allowed to kill himself or have his life taken without struggle, despite wanting to do either. Quite likely the Kahenas saying he had to become Hierarch by the People’s will made him ‘willingly’ accept the Name despite not wanting it.

                With the Dread Emperors, it’s the question whether there’s a precedent of anyone ever not wanting the Name at all. Maybe there’s a precedent of there being an Unnamed Dread Emperor while Traitorous was a humble shoemaker, lest he lost his Name during that period, but likely simple killing of the Name-rejectors too quickly to make it apparent they weren’t Named made Praes always Named-ruled.

                With Cordelia, it was likely a choice she could make either way. Augur just made it a choice between “Get the Name” or “Die, Procer falls into civil war and/or to Keter while warring on Callow and such and everyone you had to protect will die because you rejected the Name.”. Because that’s still technically a choice to reject the Name, if not so practically.

                Maybe it’s partly that EE simply skips the accepting if it’s assured, maybe in-game auto-acceptance doesn’t even warrant narration or description. But when there’s an option they reject, then it’s a choice. One that they likely reasoned was 0% for Masego and with Thief was likely an act she either didn’t realise to be her Thief choice or a much more subtle transition. Cat has said that new Named tend to be bold and overconfident and radiating their Name when trying to gauge Cordelia, but such a thing would be detrimental to the very Name Thief. Perhaps her Name was willingly taken but gradually gained to prevent Thief going against her very nature drunk on power and sudden shift. Although that is indeed an assumption rather than with precedent or proof.

                With the mind control, yes I was talking about / / only to come to the conclusion that Hakram couldn’t get his hands on such tea. We’ve seen it with Bard, but also in Cat’s memories which we cannot know whether it was Bard or Sve Noc, and with Thorns guy trying to describe and remember Scribe’s appearance. At this point we don’t know whether Cat’s // was Bard or Sve Noc, but personally I like to think that Bard cannot intervene in the mind of Sve Noc’s archpriest that easily with the crows watching over her.

                >And you need to actually FIT the archetype. There is already an idea of what the Black Queen is like in people’s minds, and the key here is that IT DOESN’T FIT WHAT CATHERINE IS. She ISN’T what everyone thinks when they say ‘Black Queen’.

                This both already supports my argument and likely shows the crux of our different interpretations. People already see Cat as the Black Queen, so she would fit the archetype even if she changes because everyone see her and the Name as synonymous. Whatever Callow sees her as, would be the archetype of the Black Queen by the groove she made. However, you assume the interpretation of all non-Callowans as relevant while I assume Named to have some semblance of culture-appropriation.

                Now, even assuming that Cat isn’t at least in good part a completely different subsection of Named now rather than the three Aspects mortal Named, she is Callowan and by cultural right to be shaped and seen by the Callowans to be shaped and interpretated. Granted, there is argument that f.e. the Good countries seeing Dread Emperors as infighting self-defeating lunatics that occassionally start a year of terror creates precendent that the non-Praesi have any control by interpretation over the Wasteland Names, but at the same time such interference should have much more effect on all Names. If the Wasteland would see Heroes as incompetent and failing in the face of proper planning and more assets, that should’ve counter-balanced the entire Good prevails in the end grooves we see now. If the mayority interpretation counts, then foreign Named should all like and praise Procer rather than seeing them as land-hungry opportunists.

                >Literally anyone ‘has a hand in giving Names’ in that way. If Hakram hadn’t followed Catherine he wouldn’t have gotten his Name either, does this mean Catherine hands those out now?

                Yes. As I referenced before, Amadeus in Book 1 confirmed in narration that interaction with Named increases odds of getting a Name. Cat can’t point at someone and say ‘You’re now the new Heiress!’, but her presence and interaction does add to the odds of Name-bestowal, as Amadeus said in his Names 101 class.

                >Pretty sure Priestess of Night was a Name the sisters shared before they finished apotheosis. First Under The Night is not a Name as it’s not a character archetype and so doesn’t qualify. + previous quote and reply:

                I’m not sure whether PoN was a Name because the Drow are a bit iffy on that. Whether they follow a completely different set of Names (whether a different subsection without three Aspects like I’d reason or at least different like the inherent differences between Heroes and Villains) or have Names as all rather than a more powerful species in general, it’s too ??? to make a decisive call on it. Too vague by lack of defined situation and culture by EE, much like much on Ranger is too vague to discuss for now.

                Same as how Masego is the first Hierophant not needing such pre-existing archetype, technically First Under the Night could be a Name of the Drow or a necessary new Name because they are entering a new era and/or have no human-amongst-drow Named. Maybe Drow don’t even have consistent Names, instead each being a new one never to resurface. We don’t know enough.

                On whether Sve Noc can decline Names in Cat’s name, the question is whether Cat would even know of this before it happened. She likely doesn’t know when Augur tries to read her future, either.

                >First Prince has never been a Name. Warden of the West hadn’t been either, until Cordelia got the option to claim it as such. Anything is a Name as long as it marks a clear story groove / Role. First Prince does not have any such. Warden of the West now does.

                Now I could be wrong or merely making assumptions, but wouldn’t make Cat assuming these Names to be Cordelia’s when she was wondering whether Cordelia was now Named mean that both are indeed precedented Names of Proceran Rulers? She even discussed that one is apparently stronger than the other in most cases, though I can’t remember which one that was.

                >Black Queen was tied to a specific story groove that Cat came close to fitting into, but in the end didn’t. And won’t, anymore. So that door is closed unless she goes back to the “ok fuck it let’s threaten everyone with a superweapon” mindset for real.

                This might be a ‘Lets agree to disagree.’ because I think we’ve reached the point where we’re giving our opinions as if they are arguments. My opinion is that a non-precedented Name can easily be fluent or be discarded, so that a completely different groove or archetype can create a different Name design by the exact same title of Black Queen because that’s simply the most obvious or supported that Cat fits. Until she better fits a precedented Name that already has an established Name title, Black Queen might even be the Name of a humble shoemaker that doesn’t do anything wrong as long as the people see that as the archetype.

                The bloodshed that Cat knew would lead to the Name was the pivot to get the Name at the time, but by cultural shift of interpretation and Cat’s changed personality the very interpretation of Black Queen might since have changed. We have seen that Callow’s very interpretation of Good and Evil and on Cat has shifted drastically since book 3 especially in the House of Light now Insurgent.

                >You are using “Name” to substitute for narrative/Role.

                This is a difference in assuming how far a Role would go. Cordelia still has a Role because she has no Name but a position that makes her Role indeed inexchangeable. She is the ruler of Procer, which would fit certain grooves while not requiring a Name. However, Names are main cast while Roles are supporting characters. Cat has been too much a main character not delegated by Creation and the Name to a supporting and side character, to be a Role rather than a Name. There are Named in her employ, if she were just a Role then the Named ought to have gone through Masego and Hakram and Archer with Cat now aiding them.

                Mario and Bowser are Named while Peach is a Role of the damsel in distress, but the moment that Peach gets an actual active role then she would become a Named. Zelda was merely a Role to bestow a purpose/motivation, some boons and certain acts that a ruler has to do, but once she became that desert nomad she came into a Name and actively Story-affecting role rather than a Role. (Yes, Role is a bit of an awkward way to refer to it indeed.)

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                1. > Now I’ve noticed that you aren’t digging in your heels and throwing a flame war because the argument has gone on for more than two replies, rather than remaining civil and with arguments given and considered. So let me start by saying ‘Jay, constructive discussion rather than the toxic gridlocked argumentation that most internet arguments in!’, and that I applaud you for the these days too rare ability to keep this argument civilised. I love it when I occassionally find such a person to argue with. Let me know if you feel if I’m digging in my heels or otherwise toxically arguing, I’d hate to not reciprocate in kind.

                  ❤ ❤ No, he’s Named. If he can have a hand in it, then a god certainly can.

                  Yes, a god can have a hand in helping someone into a Name tied to a position under them, just as a Named can. With more ease even, I’ll give you that, since a god’s support narratively counts for more than a mortal person’s, Named or not. Though it’ll always depend on the specific situation, of course.

                  That said, Gods Above and Below specifically, as opposed to lesser gods inside Creation, seem to have voluntarily removed themselves from the game in a way that doesn’t apply to lower-power beings. That’s my argument here: sure, they could probably bestow Names at will just by deciding this particular person should have one. Like how you can use cheat codes in a game to get it to a desired state. Like how in a simulation you’ve programmed to run, you’re absolutely free to edit memory states to have whatever you want, except if what you’re doing is running an experiment doing so would defeat the entire point of running the simulation in the first place.

                  The Gods Above and Below are programmers, with Creation as their simulation, and they’ve given themselves only very, very limited input, because that’s the entire point.

                  > Yes, the Black Knight specifically has a hand in Squire, but the narration didn’t narrow in on that. He explained that the presence and interaction with Named aid the surfacing of a Name.

                  Yes, if you’re already in the middle of a story, you’re more likely to get a Role in it. It’s… I don’t want to say correlation, not causation, but… something close to that. Causation by another mechanism. You know like how if you hang around nerds you’re likely to absorb nerdy knowledge of their favorite topics? It doesn’t mean nerds have mysterious metaphysical power of converting people to their cause, it’s just basic cause-effect of how human relationships work. In this case, it’s just basic cause-effect of how stories work. If you get drawn in, you get drawn in.

                  > The difference in auto-bestowal lies with Below and Above. Below is about your due, becoming Dread Emperor is a guaranteed Name because that’s your due (Assuming the act to not be easily gained by sheer inheritance, which Praes virtually never does.) while the same doesn’t go for First Prince for Procer because that requires Righteousness or a need.

                  Sooooooooooooooo yeah the requirements are different for different kinds of stories. It’s still based on a story and not on a specific being’s fiat as such.

                  A specific being’s fiat (that being not being Gods Above/Below, as they are categorically different entities) is weight on a scale. That weight alone can be enough on its own – Amadeus’s favor was not quite enough for Cat to become Squire, but a Dread Emperor/Empress can make someone Chancellor just by appointing them to the position – but it can still be counterweighted by other things going on. IE a Dread Emperor/Empress cannot just appoint an attacking White Knight Chancellor and have their Name change because they said so, the weight of their other Name and also the fact they’re currently attacking beats that appointment easily.

                  > On Named and fey: You seem to have a much more narrow view on Named. Named are anyone who is granted a Name or title that both benefits and counters them in the Story, which the Fey all the more fit into because they’re nigh enslaved to the Story. First fey Cat fought knew he couldn’t possibly win when she got him to narrate his plans and proclaim victory certain.

                  Yes, I do, and I know I’m right because that’s how in-universe terminology is used. Nobody has ever at any point referred to any fae as Named. And we have WoG that it’s impossible to hold two Names at the same time, while Cat has had a Name and a fae title at the same time, ergo, a fae title is not a Name.

                  If you’re going into ‘the writer is actually secretly wrong about their own magic system’s terminology and mechanics’ I’m afraid I cannot help you there.

                  > (Also, have to reply here because the other one simply doesn’t give me the reply button any more so thin the blocks have gotten.)

                  MOOD.

                  I was thinking this conversation needs to be consolidated myself lmao

                  > But, if you read back, I occassionally specify mortal Named (or human Named, though considering orcs also have Names that’s not too accurate) instead of Named. Named are more powerful, mortal Named are the base system for most humans which indeed come with the three Aspects system. As we’ve seen, that’s hardly the only Named there are. Named aren’t all with three Aspects, lest you’d consider Named and mortal Named synonymous while assuming the other variants to be not Named. Which I do, because the Fey pretty clearly showed themselves a kind of Named that isn’t the three Aspects Named.

                  Yeah, I’m going with the terminology used in-universe and in WoG. Note how an elf Named we’ve met has worked the exact same way as ‘human, orc and goblin’ Named do – three Aspects and all. And a ratling Named, too. You’d think if anyone would have a different system… but nope, species appears to be entirely irrelevant.

                  > On William’s brainwashing, that’s more a personal opinion that when one’s presence auto-brainwashes an entire city to zealous suicide-murder, then there’s technically no free choice involved even if the same choice would’ve been made without the brainwashing.

                  I believe that there’s a difference in how the Choir interacts with their chosen champion and regular mortals on request of said champion.

                  Specifically, the Choir of Contrition on its own doesn’t make judgement calls. It doesn’t ‘know’, by itself, what is moral and what isn’t, what is the right thing to do and what isn’t. The function of figuring it out is not implemented.

                  What they do instead is find a champion who thinks like they do, aka who meets a set of ‘mindset’ criteria. William was contrite and wished to do something to make up for it (even if it hadn’t consciously come up in his reasoning per se before the Choir brought it up), Hanno wanted to be just, Tariq wanted to dispense mercy, Iason wanted to endure. The Choir picks up on that desire and as long as the person’s mindset matches their requirements, they’re invited to pick the direction the entire Choir goes. They more or less assume the person’s values. Note how not a single time has there been a values dissonance conflict between a person and their Choir, despite how hugely the values vary by culture and by person. Contrition didn’t have a problem with Wiliam being racist despite that approximately everyone else did, did you notice that?

                  So ‘brainwashing’ their chosen champion would defeat the entire point. Subject them to trauma that would keep them in the mindset the Choir likes, oh yes, and I’m :\ @ how ethical that is right there with you. Although it’s hardly worse than the entire concept of teenage Named as child soldiers, y’know, it all sucks, this doesn’t really stand out much.

                  But when the champion has decided that brainwashing other people en masse to match the champion’s values and opinions is the right thing to do in this situation – sure, they’ll do that. They just need a template to brainwash to, and that’s what the champion provides.

                  > With Hierarch, he doesn’t have free will by his own free will. It’s likely more that he had to get the People’s approval to reject his Name before he could reject it. He already said he wasn’t allowed to kill himself or have his life taken without struggle, despite wanting to do either. Quite likely the Kahenas saying he had to become Hierarch by the People’s will made him ‘willingly’ accept the Name despite not wanting it.

                  I don’t think they phrased it like that lmao

                  > Maybe it’s partly that EE simply skips the accepting if it’s assured, maybe in-game auto-acceptance doesn’t even warrant narration or description. But when there’s an option they reject, then it’s a choice.

                  In-game, huh?

                  You think there’s a text prompt popping up in a person’s field of vision asking ‘accept Name, y/n’, and we just haven’t been shown it a single time because Erratic hasn’t bothered to?

                  My point is that there’s no such prompt. Names are a meta-level thing that reflects object level facts. A person’s attitude towards their Name is a meta-level fact per se. But a person’s atittude towards Named in general (like Cordelia’s), a person’s choice of object level course of action, as enabled by a Name or not, THAT is object level facts. They are what gets to be weight on the scale.

                  Most of the time, yes, a groove that you need to fit to get a Name is a result of your own choices, and one way or another if you really badly wanted to get out of the Name you could just leave the groove. Anaxares could have gone against the Will of the People (which in your theory would do that, though not in mine), Masego could have run away from home and stopped practicing magic, Tariq could have turned into a serial killer.

                  And then there are Names that aren’t like that at all.

                  Cursed.

                  Sabah was born to it.

                  You think she secretly subconsciously wanted it, and if she’d fully gotten over her desire-since-babyhood to kill and eat people, the curse would have fallen off, or what?

                  > With the mind control, yes I was talking about / / only to come to the conclusion that Hakram couldn’t get his hands on such tea. We’ve seen it with Bard, but also in Cat’s memories which we cannot know whether it was Bard or Sve Noc, and with Thorns guy trying to describe and remember Scribe’s appearance. At this point we don’t know whether Cat’s // was Bard or Sve Noc, but personally I like to think that Bard cannot intervene in the mind of Sve Noc’s archpriest that easily with the crows watching over her.

                  It has been remarked before that Bard is oddly little known for how massively she meddles. For old records of her to have an active antimemetic effect, written into the very fabric of Creation (given that she’s working directly for the Gods and they can do whatever they fuck they want), would seem to fit.

                  And Bard has already shown herself capable of taking Cat out for a personal chat without the crows getting input on it, at that. During the campfire arc, remember?

                  > I’m not sure whether PoN was a Name because the Drow are a bit iffy on that.

                  Okay, that’s a good point. I’m assuming it was, but that’s just speculation on my part. That said,

                  > or have Names as all rather than a more powerful species in general

                  drow aren’t more OP than elves.

                  > This both already supports my argument and likely shows the crux of our different interpretations. People already see Cat as the Black Queen, so she would fit the archetype even if she changes because everyone see her and the Name as synonymous. Whatever Callow sees her as, would be the archetype of the Black Queen by the groove she made. However, you assume the interpretation of all non-Callowans as relevant while I assume Named to have some semblance of culture-appropriation.

                  Yeah, coz…

                  > “Q: The problem really is this world doesn’t really have an appropriate
                  name for Catherine to transition into. Grey Knight would fit her best of the
                  obvious options but it isn’t a Name as far as we know.
                  > A: There would be no cultural drive anywhere on Calernia to birth a Name
                  like Grey Knight, which effectively ensure it could not come into being.”
                  (WoG document, as of Book 3 Villainous Interlude Decorum)

                  Evidently existing cultural drives are a requirement, see?

                  > If the Wasteland would see Heroes as incompetent and failing in the face of proper planning and more assets, that should’ve counter-balanced the entire Good prevails in the end grooves we see now.

                  First of all there’s clearly the issue of locality: for all that Praes and Callow are deeply intertwined culurally, they are STILL different, and Callowans would still have stronger opinions = greater weight on their native Names while Wastelanders have more input on theirs.

                  Second, “Good prevails in the end” is a matter of where you stop telling the story. As far as Wasteland villains are concerned they win as long as they get to make their desired statement, their eventual death being utterly irrelevant. Amadeus is jealous of the rest of the continent getting to make a positive impact for their populace for the long term, remember the dried up watering hole story that served as an example? He’s bitter that Evil tools aren’t workable for Good goals, because he’s adorable like that. He’s using a rocket launcher to dig and complaining that it doesn’t make a good shovel.

                  > Yes. As I referenced before, Amadeus in Book 1 confirmed in narration that interaction with Named increases odds of getting a Name. Cat can’t point at someone and say ‘You’re now the new Heiress!’, but her presence and interaction does add to the odds of Name-bestowal, as Amadeus said in his Names 101 class.

                  Okay, yes, we do see eye to eye on this, good to know lmao

                  > Same as how Masego is the first Hierophant not needing such pre-existing archetype

                  He needed the word to have meaning, though, for it to serve as a Name. What the fuck DOES the word refer to in Calernian cultural context and how did it come to be is a fascinating question, but evidently it does exist, yeah? Names are common nouns, not proper ones. Nobody in-universe asked ‘wait, a hi-yero-what?’, so clearly the word exists – and with it, the archetype.

                  > On whether Sve Noc can decline Names in Cat’s name, the question is whether Cat would even know of this before it happened.

                  No, the question is whether THEY get a text prompt popping up in front of them with ‘accept Name? y/n’. My point is they don’t. They can indirectly influence Cat’s Naming or not by shaping the fabric of narrative reality around her – for example, as long as they’re by her side, Cat has very low odds of getting, say, White Knight as a Name. White Knights don’t serve as priestesses to murder crows. Though, this being Cat… Any weight can be counterweighted if you try hard enough 0.o

                  * doesn’t have to be an actual text prompt, obviously. A banner held up by angels that you need to put your blood signature on, an incoming train that you need to stand in front of, a surge of power you can let through or block, whatever.

                  > Now I could be wrong or merely making assumptions, but wouldn’t make Cat assuming these Names to be Cordelia’s when she was wondering whether Cordelia was now Named mean that both are indeed precedented Names of Proceran Rulers? She even discussed that one is apparently stronger than the other in most cases, though I can’t remember which one that was.

                  No. There is no precedented Name of any Proceran ruler, Procer has no precedent of Named rulers period. It never happened, Cordelia would have been the first one since its founding. Hence, Cat was trying to guess which new one would form from among Cordelia’s titles.

                  > However, Names are main cast while Roles are supporting characters.

                  Nope! Everything’s a Role. Names are stickers on Roles (stickers that come with Aspects and a pool of power). When Akua made herself Diabolist, it was a Role thing. When Cat forced angels to resurrect her as an heiress to Callow, it was a Role thing. I can try and find the specific quote where Akua talks about this?

                  > “Praes is a story,” she said. “A Tyrant to lead us. A Black Knight to break heroes. A Warlock to craft wonders. A Chancellor to rule behind them. And an Empire like clay, to shape into the tool they need: an entire nation built to empower the ambitions of a single villain.”
                  >
                  > “Our Empress rules,” he murmured. “Our Black Knight leads. Our Warlock crafts nothing and our Chancellor is nothing. All the while the Empire calcifies into institutions, impossible to move.”
                  >
                  > Yes. Finally, he was beginning to understand. None of them were acting as they should, not in the way that mattered. Malicia was more Chancellor than Empress, Lord Black had reigned as king in all but name for twenty years and the Warlock learned without ever building. They were trying to change the story but oh, they had not thought that entirely through had they? Because once the changes began, they were no longer in control. Anyone with the right power could shape the story too. Akua looked at them, and she did not see rulers. She saw stewards. They had made themselves to be administrators, and in Praes those ever only had one function: to enable the designs of the villain above them.
                  >
                  > “Foundling came closest to understanding,” Akua said. “It’s how she beat me, at Liesse. It wasn’t her Name she used.”
                  >
                  > Akua drained the last of her cup, gently put it down on the desk.
                  >
                  > “It’s never been about the Names, you see,” the Diabolist smiled. “It’s always about the Roles.”
                  (Book 3, Villainous Interlude: Chiaroscuro)

                  > (Yes, Role is a bit of an awkward way to refer to it indeed.)

                  That’s because that’s not what it means 😛

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. My Gods Below, these posts have gotten sooooo long, and WordPress’s word-compressing is making it only worse…. Sooooooo much scrolling. But don’t worry, you’re being an exemplary discussion partner, especially to internet standards. I mean, you haven’t called me literally Hitler once, or in more actual experience that you starting telling me what I’ve been saying and then giving arguments against the argument that you say I made. That’s an oddly oft-occurring thing.

                    On Gods, that’s a fair assumption and interpretation. In programmer terms I’d phrase my interpretation as the user having to manually click for Named.exe to start running or be applied, that the program can indeed run by itself but doesn’t and cannot automatically enable itself to start running. That the Gods Above and Below (which definately ought to be omniscient if the Choir of Judgement can claim such a thing) at the very least would get a ‘A program is trying to run, allow it? Yes/No’ notification.

                    That the gods keep some control over the matter to prevent exploitation same as how in the story Worm it’s impossible to have consistent superpower trigger events from any act or trying to control the triggering. However there is indeed nothing to solidly establish or argue this, other than Black’s attestment that Named can aid the triggering of Named and that this should logically enable Gods to do the same with greater ease.

                    >A specific being’s fiat is weight on a scale. That weight alone can be enough on its own, but it can still be counterweighted by other things going on.

                    Oh yes, definately. Though perhaps we may see a Traitorous quote in book 6 that proves you wrong, him besting someone by turning them into Chancellor would be typically him. But when we’re talking seriously, that would indeed be not how it works. One because you cannot have two Names, probably at least, two because the Name does indeed require the motivation, skills and talent without Name to support it.

                    Although I feel that this facet of the discussion has since drifted away, because even reading back two posts I’m still not sure where the dissonance between our opinions lie and what we’re thus actually discussing any more??? I think it was about the requirement of favour / the attention of power rather than just act to get a Name, but we seem to have reached a mutual concession or consensus in this I think. Jay for proper discussion?

                    >Yes, I do, and I know I’m right because that’s how in-universe terminology is used. Nobody has ever at any point referred to any fae as Named.

                    From Book 3 Chapter 9: “They’re going through stories, I realized. All of them. There wasn’t a single outcome here in the hundreds of conversations taking place that wasn’t already set in stone.

                    It was enough to make me shiver. They might almost look like us, but the fae were other. Something apart, obeying completely different rules. An entire people of actors going through the motions since before Creation even existed. How many times had they gone through their stories, I wondered? If Roles were grooves worn into Creation by repetition, accumulating power by repetition, then these were an entire race of Named. Everyone from the chimney sweeps to the king himself, following along the paths set for them. And now I’d just walked into the midst of that with a lie on my lips, throwing myself headfirst into a maze of interwoven tales that went back unbroken since the dawn of existence. Gods Below, this was more dangerous than I could have ever dreamed of.”

                    Cat calls the entire race of feykind Named at least once, and while she’s indeed not yet a fey expert at this point this chapter is kinda the first and last scene where non-noble fey appear that aren’t there for a clear Role of ‘Observer’ or ‘Soldier #325’ as extras solely. From this point on, there’s no real need to refer to any fey as either just ‘fey’ or by their court title which is likely synonymous.

                    >Yeah, I’m going with the terminology used in-universe and in WoG. Note how an elf Named we’ve met has worked the exact same way as ‘human, orc and goblin’ Named do – three Aspects and all. And a ratling Named, too. You’d think if anyone would have a different system… but nope, species appears to be entirely irrelevant.

                    More as in that the three aspect Named are the lowest bar, the only one feasible for mortals to attain. Unless of course they are literally part of a god ascending. Ratlings are still mortals and even more limited, and elves need not be that much more powerful than humans. There are other forms of Named that need bigger, older or more extraordinary triggers or patrons.

                    >I believe that there’s a difference in how the Choir interacts with their chosen champion and regular mortals on request of said champion. Specifically, the Choir of Contrition on its own doesn’t make judgement calls.

                    Oh no, I meant it on a much more basic level. Programming language, imagine making a game that gives you a choice ‘Do you want to accept this quest to start the story and your adventure?’, and not actually programming in much for the ‘No’ option other than a quick game over. Even if you obviously say yes because you bought the game and made a character to go adventuring, technically it’s not a choice as there’s nothing if you decline at all.

                    (Except for some awesome games like Heroine: Herald of Ragnarok, where the king says ‘No? This is the beginning of the game granting you an adventure, if you say no then you might as well play Tetris instead.’ and then actually letting you play Tetris with a legitimate ending by reaching a certain Tetris highscore. In most games though, they don’t let you just retreat and go to a farm.)

                    Or with a bit more human level, North Korea. Even if you’d genuinly support Kim Yong and would’ve done so even without cultural brainwashing, then it’s still not a free choice to make if you’re a North-Korean who grew up in that region. The base principle of free choice as a.o. the first US amendment intents it simply cannot work when brainwashing to reach the same conclusion as no brainwashing is a factor. That’s a personal interpretation of free will and its requirements.

                    On the stuff you said, that’s ofc the case and I’m agreeing and not contesting it. Of course the Choirs wouldn’t pick someone like book1 Akua to make their Champion just for the challenge and Redemption arc.

                    >Quite likely the Kahenas saying he had to become Hierarch by the People’s will made him ‘willingly’ accept the Name despite not wanting it.
                    >>I don’t think they phrased it like that lmao

                    That’s the sad part for Hierarch, I think they did. But that’s indeed interpretation rather than fact.

                    >You think there’s a text prompt popping up in a person’s field of vision asking ‘accept Name, y/n’, and we just haven’t been shown it a single time because Erratic hasn’t bothered to?

                    Not outright that, rather than if the narrative description of the sensation and choice would be moot or slowing down the pace and hype it’s skipped over. Like how the writer doesn’t always write that the sword is being unsheathed or that you take off your coat entering a room when this would be just unnecessary narration. Rather than that this non-literal “Accept Name y/n” does appear as a forceful sensation that you’d have to actively suppress and reject like Cordelia did, but that if you wouldn’t or feel it to be right that you wouldn’t even notice it to be a choice.

                    >Cursed. Sabah was born to it.

                    This is a bit vague by lack of chapters on it, but Sabah was born to a curse which was likely why she got the transitionary Name of Cursed. Similar to how Killian was born a half-elf and potentially could’ve gotten this transitionary Name because of it and the troubles she had with using magic thanks to her ancestory. I don’t think they ever said Sabah was born Named at all, or that the lychantrophy she got came at the exact same time as her Name.

                    >It has been remarked before that Bard is oddly little known for how massively she meddles. And Bard has already shown herself capable of taking Cat out for a personal chat without the crows getting input on it, at that. During the campfire arc, remember?

                    Jup, because Cat filled a later expositioned trigger of having to talk about the Bard to enable the Bard to take notice and intervene. Big difference between thought and what turned out to be a specific condition of Bard’ intervention. However this is indeed a matter of interpretation and I indeed do not claim that it was definately Sve Noc with no chance of Bard. With the sisters being narrated by Cat as always being in the back of her mind and listening to her thoughts, them being the cause sounds much more reasonable than Bard being able of also reading all Named’ thoughts though even on plot-relevant internal monologue.

                    >drow aren’t more OP than elves.

                    We hope, or rather we assume. We’ve seen one undead elf with a Name and if they follow fey rules of royalty meaning power they also have a lot of power. And we’ve heard of what the Emerald Blades can do against regular troops, which considering what we’ve seen some of the Drow do vs Fey Cat might be comparing a dagger to a greatsword. Or not, and they may be even more powerful. No telling quite yet, same as how the gnomes power is mostly conjecture at this point.

                    >Evidently existing cultural drives are a requirement, see?

                    Yes, but would people calling her Black Queen be such a drive while Grey Knight wasn’t an option because no one called her that?

                    >First of all there’s clearly the issue of locality: for all that Praes and Callow are deeply intertwined culurally, they are STILL different, and Callowans would still have stronger opinions = greater weight on their native Names while Wastelanders have more input on theirs.

                    So you agree, then? (Not to put words in your mouth, dread the thought because I hate it when people do this to me. If it’s not, say so. It just sounds like you agree with the point I made.) Cultural exclusivity of certain Names tied to that culture is a factor and therefore it’s not how the world and those against you view BQ, it’s how Callow views its Black Queen.

                    The point we were discussion was that you say that the Black Queen had to be with bloodshed, while I argue that the Name by Callow’s interpretation of Black Queen might’ve shifted now to have different requirements. Cat end book 3 and Cat now has a vastly different reputation amongst her own people, though we indeed only see a bit and hear rumours of it so it’s not all too reliable what this reputation is exactly. And this facet on her being Callow’s to interpretate rather than all of Calernia’s (, including the hundreds of the League’s delegates who see her as the bloody Black Queen Archheretic of this chapter). Callow matters, and maybe now the drow a bit.

                    >“Good prevails in the end” is a matter of where you stop telling the story. As far as Wasteland villains are concerned they win as long as they get to make their desired statement, their eventual death being utterly irrelevant. Amadeus is jealous of the rest of the continent getting to make a positive impact for their populace for the long term, remember the dried up watering hole story that served as an example? He’s bitter that Evil tools aren’t workable for Good goals, because he’s adorable like that. He’s using a rocket launcher to dig and complaining that it doesn’t make a good shovel.

                    That’s a good point, that’s indeed Evil’s problem now biting itself in the ass. Though mining does use a lot of dynamite, and they do love the Villains that won a lot in a row and continuously in ways that sticked.

                    >He needed the word to have meaning, though, for it to serve as a Name. What the fuck DOES the word refer to in Calernian cultural context and how did it come to be is a fascinating question, but evidently it does exist, yeah? Names are common nouns, not proper ones. Nobody in-universe asked ‘wait, a hi-yero-what?’, so clearly the word exists – and with it, the archetype.

                    That is very true, I had to look up what the hell Hierophant meant in our world and I don’t see how it corrolates to understanding of god even now. Maybe EE used hierophant by lack of better alternatives as there were very few words that would describe Masego’s brand of what he does? Without edgy names like Godbinder, of course. In terms of that the Name needs to mean something understood combined with the sometimes lacklustre simple Names while the ones that are more vague likely being strongly cultural before the Name arose, I cannot argue against this point.

                    Though that isn’t quite a point for or against Black Queen though, as she too is a title without a Name precedent to it thus formed by the interpretation. One which may still be mallable to great degrees because the cultural bed is rapidly shifting, due to Callow going from seeing Cat as an invader, to the Callowan necessary evil against the worse evil that is Proceran occupationism, to now winning and making Callow a continent-wide recognised international power.

                    >> “It’s never been about the Names, you see,” the Diabolist smiled. “It’s always about the Roles.”

                    That’s a bit of an assumption on whether Names are truly part of Roles and whether Akua is really completely correct on this. Of course people also fill Roles, f.e. Cat being Hero more often than Villain when dealing with the Evil guys, though that doesn’t mean that Roles overshadow or underly Names. Nor that Roles could grant things that we know Names to get and do.

                    When William convinced the Stygian slaves to declare themselves free (and conveniently join him in the fight), that he could nigh certainly successfully do this was accredited to his Name. If someone without a Name filling the same Role would’ve tried it, then there was a good chance of failure, being interrupted halfway the conversation or the Stygians not aiding him to instead do something like conquer the immediate region to call their new home or move to some island after trying to enforce Jon Snow’s execution. Sorry, other franchize. But success wouldn’t have been certain.

                    We’ve seen this in Grem One-eye’s interlude on the Vale of Red Flowers vs the Iron Prince. That how the very statistics of battle and way that things worked out were massively different for a cavalry charge (A Role) and one spearheaded by a Named. The Role would’ve still seen the reckless charge likely kill more Procerans than Legion soldiers as Grem’s experience in these battles without Names told him, but thanks to the Name providence or Story ensured success things were vastly different despite the Roles being the same.

                    Or, simply put: If you throw a Named off a cliff, they’re certainly not dead. Would the same apply to a Role when in the frame of the Story being woven and followed they should survive? Vague, but by my interpretation on Named powers the Role should still be bound to the statistically likely outcome of such an act for normal people. Entitled to last second save by a Named, yes, but also still bound to gravity and the effects thereof. No special powers or saving for the non-Named.

                    Which brings us back to where this part of the discussion started: Cat getting 2000 horsemen by her thresher Named power Story-influence. A Role can still raise an army of loyal volunteers of their own country if they’re queen and have the coin, and they could get a group of these horsemen by virtue of their presence and acts and if they can pay them, of course. You can survive a fall from a cliff, depending on the how. But what we’ve seen here is too smooth and orchestrated in a Story in Cat’s favour with an already credited to Cat power of thresher and/or making the best talent fiercely loyal to her by Name and presence to not be her Name rather than a mere Role. What we see here is someone unconscious thrown down several hundred feet, yet apparently surviving.

                    Which is why I think Cat still/already has a Name, even if it’s not the three Aspects variant that we know. God-patroned might make completely different Named, without overuse weakening Aspects maybe.

                    If parts of your posts + reaction have been left out in the above, I either agree or no longer remember what we were arguing about and/or have nothing to say on it. Which, considering the length of these monster posts ought to be for the best.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. > My Gods Below, these posts have gotten sooooo long, and WordPress’s word-compressing is making it only worse…. Sooooooo much scrolling.
                      OH MOOD
                      I’m copypasting this post to notepad to reply right there lmao

                      > But don’t worry, you’re being an exemplary discussion partner, especially to internet standards. I mean, you haven’t called me literally Hitler once, or in more actual experience that you starting telling me what I’ve been saying and then giving arguments against the argument that you say I made. That’s an oddly oft-occurring thing.
                      oh yeah I do take pride in my skill of actual reading comprehension of what the other person is saying lmao
                      for that matter compliments on yours, you have in fact actually been reading what I’m writing too 0.0 oddly rare on the internet indeed

                       

                      > On Gods, that’s a fair assumption and interpretation. In programmer terms I’d phrase my interpretation as the user having to manually click for Named.exe to start running or be applied, that the program can indeed run by itself but doesn’t and cannot automatically enable itself to start running. That the Gods Above and Below (which definately ought to be omniscient if the Choir of Judgement can claim such a thing) at the very least would get a ‘A program is trying to run, allow it? Yes/No’ notification.
                      Yeah that’s exactly what I’m saying isn’t happening. They could probably do a manual override if they really badly felt like they needed to, but it would be an abuse of mod powers and not a default feature. The entire point is that the thing runs on its own with minimal to no input.

                      Again, as proof I point to how there’s been absolutely no divine fiat in who does or does not get Names. Only story logic.

                      > That the gods keep some control over the matter to prevent exploitation same as how in the story Worm it’s impossible to have consistent superpower trigger events from any act or trying to control the triggering. However there is indeed nothing to solidly establish or argue this, other than Black’s attestment that Named can aid the triggering of Named and that this should logically enable Gods to do the same with greater ease.

                      In Worm, the creatures are just that – living creatures that can still be killed by other creatures. It’s entirely reasonable for them to take self-protection precautionary measures.

                      The beings on Creation cannot possibly do anything to harm Gods Above or Below. And their point is not self-preservation/procreation/continuing their life-cycle, but having a wager settled. The levels are completely different.

                      It’s reasonable for Sve Noc to not give out Night without a trigger to kill anyone who holds it and take it back, to draw a parallel that closer reflects what happens in Worm.

                      Gods Below don’t need to bother any more than Wildbow does.

                       

                      > Oh yes, definately. Though perhaps we may see a Traitorous quote in book 6 that proves you wrong, him besting someone by turning them into Chancellor would be typically him. But when we’re talking seriously, that would indeed be not how it works. One because you cannot have two Names, probably at least, two because the Name does indeed require the motivation, skills and talent without Name to support it.
                      I can actually see a Dread Emp theoretically screwing someone over by granting them one Name over the other they wanted when it’s close enough ;u;

                       

                      > Although I feel that this facet of the discussion has since drifted away, because even reading back two posts I’m still not sure where the dissonance between our opinions lie and what we’re thus actually discussing any more??? I think it was about the requirement of favour / the attention of power rather than just act to get a Name, but we seem to have reached a mutual concession or consensus in this I think. Jay for proper discussion?
                      You said ‘a Name requires a bestowal’. See above: I still disagree on that.

                       

                      > Cat calls the entire race of feykind Named at least once, and while she’s indeed not yet a fey expert at this point this chapter is kinda the first and last scene where non-noble fey appear that aren’t there for a clear Role of ‘Observer’ or ‘Soldier #325’ as extras solely. From this point on, there’s no real need to refer to any fey as either just ‘fey’ or by their court title which is likely synonymous.
                      This is Cat in-universe using metaphor/allegory. She doesn’t mean that they’re literally an entire race of Named, she means ‘kind of like they are an entire race of Named’.

                       

                      > More as in that the three aspect Named are the lowest bar, the only one feasible for mortals to attain. Unless of course they are literally part of a god ascending. Ratlings are still mortals and even more limited, and elves need not be that much more powerful than humans. There are other forms of Named that need bigger, older or more extraordinary triggers or patrons.

                      At absolutely no point has this been implied in any way.

                      Catherine means “the fae are kind of like if everyone was Named in how bound they are to stories”, not literally “what they have is Names”. If only just because we know what she bases the observation on – the fact they’re acting out stories. Not any metaphysical property.

                      Oh, and elves are powerful enough to be able to selectively ignore a law of Creation of their choosing when they’re old enough.

                       

                      > Or with a bit more human level, North Korea. Even if you’d genuinly support Kim Yong and would’ve done so even without cultural brainwashing, then it’s still not a free choice to make if you’re a North-Korean who grew up in that region. The base principle of free choice as a.o. the first US amendment intents it simply cannot work when brainwashing to reach the same conclusion as no brainwashing is a factor. That’s a personal interpretation of free will and its requirements.

                      Yeah, note how Cat did in fact get to say ‘no’ to a Choir and just go home after that.

                       

                      > That’s the sad part for Hierarch, I think they did. But that’s indeed interpretation rather than fact.

                      Uh, when it comes to ‘how they phrased it’, there’s not much room for interpretation. I mean what was the actual literal phrasing they used? (Please find the quote, it’s in Villainous Interlude: Thunder, I just cannot look right now)

                      > Not outright that, rather than if the narrative description of the sensation and choice would be moot or slowing down the pace and hype it’s skipped over. Like how the writer doesn’t always write that the sword is being unsheathed or that you take off your coat entering a room when this would be just unnecessary narration.

                      That’s because everyone knows a sword needs to be unsheathed or how to take off a coat. It cannot be applied to an actual metaphysical mechanic made up for this world exclusively.

                      > This is a bit vague by lack of chapters on it, but Sabah was born to a curse which was likely why she got the transitionary Name of Cursed. Similar to how Killian was born a half-elf and potentially could’ve gotten this transitionary Name because of it and the troubles she had with using magic thanks to her ancestory. I don’t think they ever said Sabah was born Named at all, or that the lychantrophy she got came at the exact same time as her Name.

                      Sabah said that she was born to her Name. Literally. Google “site:practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com I was born to mine”, as I believe that’s a close enough phrasing to a literal quote that it should show up early in the search.

                       

                      > Jup, because Cat filled a later expositioned trigger of having to talk about the Bard to enable the Bard to take notice and intervene. Big difference between thought and what turned out to be a specific condition of Bard’ intervention. However this is indeed a matter of interpretation and I indeed do not claim that it was definately Sve Noc with no chance of Bard. With the sisters being narrated by Cat as always being in the back of her mind and listening to her thoughts, them being the cause sounds much more reasonable than Bard being able of also reading all Named’ thoughts though even on plot-relevant internal monologue.

                      I don’t think it’s the Bard’s doing as in she literally read Cat’s memories and selectively cut them out. I think it’s a passive effect the memories themselves have. Like how Dead King did not need an occasion to read Masego’s mind for his memories, for these memories by themselves to take him over as a shard of him. Like we have literal precedent for Arcadian shard memory bundles having this mechanic – activate on access.

                       

                      > We hope, or rather we assume. We’ve seen one undead elf with a Name and if they follow fey rules of royalty meaning power they also have a lot of power.

                      Why would they? Fae are fae, nothing else is like fae titles. That was a very old Named elf, that he’s also royalty isn’t any more relevant than Hye’s mom being the trainer of Emerald Swords is relevant to Hye’s power, as far as we know.

                      Again, you’re making wild assumptions about potential mechanics that don’t have even a hint of evidence pointing towards them in the text. You are just… making them up. Additional complexity.

                       

                      > Yes, but would people calling her Black Queen be such a drive while Grey Knight wasn’t an option because no one called her that?

                      That discussion was of potential possible Names she might acquire in the future. If she started doing knight shit while dressed in grey, some people might have started calling her ‘Grey Knight’. But it wouldn’t have been enough to form a Name as there’s no cultural archetype attached. Nobody would hear ‘grey knight’ and go ‘ah yes one of those. While people clearly have association triggers with “Black Queen” – ‘ah yes, a cruel bloody queen reigning in terror’.

                      When I explain the Name system, I like to do it like this: “imagine you’re telling a bedtime story to a child, and so instead of giving characters actual names, you just call them ‘the wolf’, ‘the fox’, ‘the beggar’, ‘the king’, ‘the young knight’, ‘the princess’ and so on”.

                      You say the descriptor, and the audience instantly understands who the character is / what they’re like.

                      Catherine could have been like what the descriptor ‘Black Queen’ implies. But she isn’t, and so the story falls apart. People hear ‘Black Queen’ and think ‘oh yeah I know what this story is’, but it isn’t that story. Catherine doesn’t fit the Name.

                      Much like how Vivienne stopped being what the audience pictures when you say ‘the thief’.

                      Or like how Amadeus stopped being what the audience pictures when you say ‘the black knight’.

                      (To see this, it’s necessary to detach yourself from the story as is and think in more general trope terms. Think video game unit monikers – what’s a black knight? what’s a thief? what do those do? Think anime, if you will)

                       

                      > So you agree, then? (Not to put words in your mouth, dread the thought because I hate it when people do this to me. If it’s not, say so. It just sounds like you agree with the point I made.) Cultural exclusivity of certain Names tied to that culture is a factor and therefore it’s not how the world and those against you view BQ, it’s how Callow views its Black Queen.
                      More or less, although an important point here is that the cultural views like this are largely shared. You cannot just wave a hand and change an entire culture’s mind.

                      > The point we were discussion was that you say that the Black Queen had to be with bloodshed, while I argue that the Name by Callow’s interpretation of Black Queen might’ve shifted now to have different requirements. Cat end book 3 and Cat now has a vastly different reputation amongst her own people, though we indeed only see a bit and hear rumours of it so it’s not all too reliable what this reputation is exactly. And this facet on her being Callow’s to interpretate rather than all of Calernia’s (, including the hundreds of the League’s delegates who see her as the bloody Black Queen Archheretic of this chapter). Callow matters, and maybe now the drow a bit.

                      The drow don’t matter, she’s “Losara Queen” and “First Under The Night” to them, they don’t give a shit about her Black Queen reputation at all. Well, they matter, but they give +0 as of right now.

                      As for what Callow thinks of Cat, we’ve had two ‘Callowan everyman’ POVs on that – Abigail in Sarcella, who is utterly petrified in Cat’s presence, and Erik (I think?) the regular young soldier, also at Sarcella. Who thinks it’s fine if the queen’s a bit black, they’ll just rebel if she crosses the line.

                      That’s with House Insurgent’s influence already in place!

                      So yes, Callow still thinks of her as the original “bloody terror” archetype, same as the rest of the continent. The difference is they’re willing to stand by that and in fact find it kinda awesome.

                       

                      > That’s a good point, that’s indeed Evil’s problem now biting itself in the ass. Though mining does use a lot of dynamite, and they do love the Villains that won a lot in a row and continuously in ways that sticked.

                      y u p

                       

                      > That is very true, I had to look up what the hell Hierophant meant in our world and I don’t see how it corrolates to understanding of god even now. Maybe EE used hierophant by lack of better alternatives as there were very few words that would describe Masego’s brand of what he does? Without edgy names like Godbinder, of course. In terms of that the Name needs to mean something understood combined with the sometimes lacklustre simple Names while the ones that are more vague likely being strongly cultural before the Name arose, I cannot argue against this point.

                      yeah I encountered the word approximately once outside of Guide’s context. I guess maybe it means something closer to what Masego does in guideverse XD

                       

                      > Though that isn’t quite a point for or against Black Queen though, as she too is a title without a Name precedent to it thus formed by the interpretation. One which may still be mallable to great degrees because the cultural bed is rapidly shifting, due to Callow going from seeing Cat as an invader, to the Callowan necessary evil against the worse evil that is Proceran occupationism, to now winning and making Callow a continent-wide recognised international power.

                      Callow never saw Cat as an invader, only as a despised collaborationist and sellout. To invaders. But not an invader herself. (There’s a difference because and invader can be strong and awesome while still being an invader, but a cowardly sellout who is strong and awesome and brave is a cognitive dissonance. That’s what Amadeus was banking on) …Though this isn’t really relevant to the point either way lmao

                      The thing is, the Black Queen is still seen in Callow as just that – bloody and terrible and about to incinerate her enemies. Just also clever and awesome and good in the process? It makes sense in context (c) Callowans

                       

                      > That’s a bit of an assumption on whether Names are truly part of Roles and whether Akua is really completely correct on this. Of course people also fill Roles, f.e. Cat being Hero more often than Villain when dealing with the Evil guys, though that doesn’t mean that Roles overshadow or underly Names. Nor that Roles could grant things that we know Names to get and do.

                      …It’s also in the Prologue epigraph, the part on the origin of Names (which I regard as overall religious propaganda nonsense, but provides us with basic terminology). Never once do Roles get referenced in a way that you suggest.

                      I can drop the word if it’s so much of a problem. What Catherine has is narrative weight. Narrative weight is ALSO something that Named have, by virtue of being Named, as a Name grants it to them automatically. Narrative weight is the underlying mechanic of how all the narrative gears turn in Guide. An event that has little narrative weight concentrated around it will happen in accordance with regular laws of physics and probability. An event that has more will find itself warped in acordance with what everyone’s imagination completes it as.

                      Notably, in Arcadia there’s no such thing as ‘regular laws of physics and probability’. In Creation, narrative weight has to work against the resistance of mundanity. In Arcadia, you just get whichever outcome gets the most imagination points, even if it’s only a few of them either way. If there’s none, aka nobody cares, the event just doesn’t happen at all. A tree that falls in the woods where no-one can hear it makes no sound, in Arcadia.

                      In Creation, you need to have a lot of weight to warp events. I again insist that the incident with Pallas did not require a lot of warping – the only coincidence is that she’s the kind of person to get inspired by Cat and gets along with Basilia well enough for them to agree to share the army. Nobody asked the army – it’s Helike, it runs on discipline.

                      But Cat, yes, has enough weight to count in a pattern of three. Because there are stories told about her and because there will be stories told about her centuries later, even if there’s no Name that fits. A Name often goes with it, hell, there’s narrative weight to the meta fact of there being a Name there period, but if it’s not there it’s not there.

                      > When William convinced the Stygian slaves to declare themselves free (and conveniently join him in the fight), that he could nigh certainly successfully do this was accredited to his Name. If someone without a Name filling the same Role would’ve tried it, then there was a good chance of failure, being interrupted halfway the conversation or the Stygians not aiding him to instead do something like conquer the immediate region to call their new home or move to some island after trying to enforce Jon Snow’s execution. Sorry, other franchize. But success wouldn’t have been certain.

                      Mhm. Narrative weight.

                      > We’ve seen this in Grem One-eye’s interlude on the Vale of Red Flowers vs the Iron Prince. That how the very statistics of battle and way that things worked out were massively different for a cavalry charge (A Role) and one spearheaded by a Named. The Role would’ve still seen the reckless charge likely kill more Procerans than Legion soldiers as Grem’s experience in these battles without Names told him, but thanks to the Name providence or Story ensured success things were vastly different despite the Roles being the same.
                      > Or, simply put: If you throw a Named off a cliff, they’re certainly not dead. Would the same apply to a Role when in the frame of the Story being woven and followed they should survive? Vague, but by my interpretation on Named powers the Role should still be bound to the statistically likely outcome of such an act for normal people. Entitled to last second save by a Named, yes, but also still bound to gravity and the effects thereof. No special powers or saving for the non-Named.

                      You’re using the word “Role” in a way that doesn’t make sense to me again. Can you rephrase that without using the word?

                       

                      > Which brings us back to where this part of the discussion started: Cat getting 2000 horsemen by her thresher Named power Story-influence.

                      * by the law of the narrative, you mean. Names are incidental to it.

                       

                      > A Role can still raise an army of loyal volunteers of their own country if they’re queen and have the coin, and they could get a group of these horsemen by virtue of their presence and acts and if they can pay them, of course. You can survive a fall from a cliff, depending on the how.

                      What you seem to mean by ‘a Role’ has absolutely no clear referent in the story so far.

                       

                      > But what we’ve seen here is too smooth and orchestrated in a Story in Cat’s favour with an already credited to Cat power of thresher and/or making the best talent fiercely loyal to her by Name and presence to not be her Name rather than a mere Role. What we see here is someone unconscious thrown down several hundred feet, yet apparently surviving.

                      Not a power. A story. A story of a thresher. It’s not the same thing. The power is just Cat’s charisma and momentum of object level events (she is currently gathering a coalition against the Dead goddamn King, no-one can argue with that in-universe). The additional push comes from how potent a story it is, not anything to do with Cat’s metaphysical status. Any no-name in Cat’s position with her skill with oratory would get the same benefits, it’s a function of what’s happening, not who Cat is.

                       

                      > Which is why I think Cat still/already has a Name, even if it’s not the three Aspects variant that we know. God-patroned might make completely different Named, without overuse weakening Aspects maybe.

                      Three Aspects is the only variant of Named that exists. Everything else is called something else.

                       

                      > If parts of your posts + reaction have been left out in the above, I either agree or no longer remember what we were arguing about and/or have nothing to say on it. Which, considering the length of these monster posts ought to be for the best.
                      AGREED

                      Like

                2. Okay, so a part of my reply got eaten by careless use of angled brackets. tl;dr: if I start acting like a superheated kettle myself, please give me a second chance by telling me I am, too.

                  And I’m very happy to have this discussion be civilized, too ❤

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Replying here as the option to reply has once again vanished from the discussion string.

                    >OH MOOD
                    I’m copypasting this post to notepad to reply right there lmao

                    So true, I myself just opened the page twice. One for the comment, the other for your post.

                    >as proof I point to how there’s been absolutely no divine fiat in who does or does not get Names. Only story logic.

                    Story logic might be their fiat. Kairos’s death and standing ovation returned the rumours of the Gods being an audience to be entertained. They might hold the reins to ensure that neither side ever wins by exploiting a Name surfacing or for the wrong people to get Names. What the difference and line between the Gods and Providence or Story are is vague. If providence controls the triggering of a Name, then it holds some control if only to prevent finite doom from applying too often.

                    The gods may be synonymous with this, as there does seem to be a rule on that they get to meddle with equal balancing measure by the other side as a result. Providence is likely this meddling by the Gods Above, though I wonder how much the Gods Below since gotten as a due for Cat’s story or if they other Villains really screwed Cat over in the balancing of things. However, where the Gods end and Creation begins is quite vague indeed.

                    >In Worm, the creatures are just that – living creatures that can still be killed by other creatures.
                    The beings on Creation cannot possibly do anything to harm Gods Above or Below. And their point is not self-preservation/procreation/continuing their life-cycle, but having a wager settled. The levels are completely different.

                    I meant more in how in Worm, it has been found impossible (except for couldron’s chemicals) to trigger a superpower on command. You cannot bring it down to ‘We’ve got a Story of the Convenient Villain-killer that grants a Name to someone decorated for their efforts against Praes’s initial attack, then gets double-knighted by our ruler and has to get any magical item that gives them brand recognition. And then they are nigh assured victory against Villains with Praes’ initial victory that got the Named attention as the first in the Pattern of Three. There’s always someone befitting condition one, we collect items for condition three and I can do condition two, so we’ve got making this Named down to a science now.’

                    This could be a matter of the Gods holding some control or fiat, to prevent the simulation that they’re running from running itself by its internal intelligent beings finding the bugs and exploits of the simulation and exploiting them to the utmost. A computer simulation with active AI does requires some oversight until the simulation has been proven perfect enough. Which likely wouldn’t involve Named at all.

                    >You said ‘a Name requires a bestowal’. See above: I still disagree on that.

                    Well, I suppose that is a matter of different interpretations and not yet enough by EE specified truth on the matter to make it anything but. I respect your opinion, and can see the possibility that it will indeed be proven to be so in Book 6.

                    >This is Cat in-universe using metaphor/allegory. She doesn’t mean that they’re literally an entire race of Named, she means ‘kind of like they are an entire race of Named’.

                    Which begs the question of where the confines and definition of a Name starts and stops. The noble titles are technically Names, though of another world. The fey are heavily bound to Story, as Named are. Their titles are always capitalised, as Names are. They operate by a different system, but they are still Named. Not three Aspect Named as we know them, but not quite non-Named like demons either.

                    >Yeah, note how Cat did in fact get to say ‘no’ to a Choir and just go home after that.

                    No, think even more basic. Do not look at A Practical Guide to Evil, look at the definition and interpretation of free will and making a choice. If you would’ve made the ‘correct’ choice anyway by your own will and reasoning, but the situation is so that anything but that choice would’ve ended badly or wasn’t an option, would it still be free will and a choice?

                    If you get a choice of Yes or No and choosing No results in your death or the program indefinately giving you a choice of whether you’re sure or the option to come back to choose Yes yet being trapped in the previous area until you choose Yes, is it really a choice?

                    My opinion: No matter if your answer would be Yes without even knowing that No wasn’t an option, the mindwashing aura of the Hashmallim inherently violates the concept of free will and make it so that their choices aren’t actually choices on a philosophical level of the interpretation of free will and free choice. Even though William would’ve said yes regardless, technically he didn’t get a free will choice. Cat didn’t play by this scenario, she simply broke the rules by killing the one asking the question, stealing his key and walking through the gate without accepting the conditions.

                    >Sabah said that she was born to her Name. Literally. Google site:practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com I was born to mine”,

                    Hm, nope. Google gives me nothing but an annoyingly consistent trend to only show book 5 results. And searching for it with this site’s search option gives every chapter that uses the word “I”, a.k.a. all of them. And I think it’s trolling me by just giving the latest chapters regardless of what I search for, because looking for other terms too give me the last chapter right away.

                    Reading her Extra Chapter Beast, Sabah seems to suggest that she wasn’t a Name rather than just a Role before, and reading through the first book for this bit of knowlege is proving annoyingly fruitless. The wiki says its a Name, but that could be an assumption. Now I’m even more confused on Cursed, as even it being a Name is now pulled into question. The only thing I could confirm about her was that she was born to a blood ritual’s curse that a Warlock made, which shouldn’t be an automatic Name as that would make all of her siblings and kids Cursed too.

                    >Like how Dead King did not need an occasion to read Masego’s mind for his memories, for these memories by themselves to take him over as a shard of him. Like we have literal precedent for Arcadian shard memory bundles having this mechanic – activate on access.

                    I took from Tikoloshe’s theories on the Dead King’s continued survival that it wasn’t the Arcadian knowledge rather than the knowledge of DK’s apotheosis itself that was trapped. You read the book he wrote (which ought to be regular paper or being warded and analysed by the reader before reading it) and try to reach lichdom yourself using the knowledge and rituals therein described, and you play straight into the Dead King’s hands giving him another powerful arcanist body to work with. He likely travelled to Arcadia to add these memories into his own echoes too and maybe even changed the echoes to encourage people to find him and extract the knowledge, probably. It’s not necessarily anything that had to do with Arcadian knowledge stealing.

                    >Why would they? Fae are fae, nothing else is like fae titles. That was a very old Named elf, that he’s also royalty isn’t any more relevant than Hye’s mom being the trainer of Emerald Swords is relevant to Hye’s power, as far as we know.

                    Read back, found this little tidbit. “You bailed out of Creation is what you did,” she said. “You took your pretty little kingdom and fled right into Arcadia. And boy, was she pissed when she realized it. Wiped out two cities in rage.”, Book 2 epilogue. And the confusing way that the Deodraithe and people have been talking about them with f.e. “There is no relation between drow and elves, mind you,” the shade noted. “I’ve read the former take the sobriquet of ‘dark elves’ quite badly, given that of the two they are the race truly native to Calernia.”

                    I stand corrected, the elves apparently came out of Arcadia the second time around, their kingdom partly or kinda sits in Arcadia and William got chased by fey hunters in the Bloom that was also Arcadia or fey monsters somehow, but they indeed do not originally come out of Arcadia. Kinda. So I stand corrected, elves are not of fey ancestry.

                    >That discussion was of potential possible Names she might acquire in the future. If she started doing knight shit while dressed in grey, some people might have started calling her ‘Grey Knight’. But it wouldn’t have been enough to form a Name as there’s no cultural archetype attached. Nobody would hear ‘grey knight’ and go ‘ah yes one of those. While people clearly have association triggers with “Black Queen” – ‘ah yes, a cruel bloody queen reigning in terror’.

                    Now I’m going to have to quote something back at you that you said: “Again, you’re making wild assumptions about potential mechanics that don’t have even a hint of evidence pointing towards them in the text. You are just… making them up. Additional complexity.” You’re being just as guilty of this from time to time. Like now.

                    Not only does Grey Knight (in a world with a White and Black Knight with some pretty obvious archetypes attached to them) sound like a very obvious archetype for all to understand, it’s even more obvious than Black Queen being an archetype of a Queen reigning with terror. Black Queen without context could also refer to a tragically hated or martyred queen, while the Red Queen would be a much more obvious archetype referrence to the kind of queen you’re describing. (Even without Alice in Wonderland.)

                    There’s no proof on this claim, and vaguer names like Mirror Knight and Painted Knife contradict this base necessity of an archetype having to be this obvious and not being filled in by a culture’s interpretation of it. Mirror Knight likely refers to Perseus who slayed Medusa with a mirror shield, though ‘mirror knight’ would hardly be this greek hero’s archetype descriptor. Same for Ashen Priestess not directly referring to healing priests of Good, Hedge Wizard, Myrmidon, Red Fox, Skein, etc. Even more general names like Sentinel and Pilgrim leave something to the imagination rather than being an archetype without cultural historical background being necessary. Many names like the Fortunate Fool or Lone Swordsman indeed refer directly to the archetype that is very clear to understand, but it’s not a necessity as we’ve seen.

                    Even if Grey Knight wouldn’t be an obvious thing to understand once you see the Named and they introduce themselves to you, just their reputation should allow you to make the Named and the Name synonymous at least within that generation. Cat is a Queen and she does dress in black after a long reputation of being dressed in black as part of her recognisable traits as Squire. Saying Queen + Black = Black Queen is her name and might be her Name is pretty obvious, even if people weren’t already calling her that without the Name.

                    Granted, Pilgrim holding the Grey part of the balance as we’ve seen in the latest chapter might’ve prevented any other Grey from arising (despite Pilgrim not really being the neutral party of balance), if saturation and Story balance are facets of Creation granting Names. So Grey Knight might’ve been impossible, but not for the reasons you’re mentioning.

                    In this, Black Queen being not bloody (Red Queen) but exactly the kind of queen that Cat is being right now could just as easily support her Name of Black Queen.

                    Like

                    1. Okay, for some reason my reply decided to post itself as I was writing it. Odd. At least I didn’t lose all this writing to it suddenly collapsing itself. Continuing on…

                      In this, Black Queen being not bloody (Red Queen) but exactly the kind of queen that Cat is being right now could just as easily support her Name of Black Queen. The queen that isn’t glorious or noble or forgiving, but the one that does what has to be done and gets the win when mere shining heroes aren’t enough. The Villain redeemed fighting with the heroes, as Cat planned and Pilgrim feared during their first real peace talks and her first admission letter to the Grand Alliance.

                      >Catherine could have been like what the descriptor ‘Black Queen’ implies. But she isn’t, and so the story falls apart. People hear ‘Black Queen’ and think ‘oh yeah I know what this story is’, but it isn’t that story. Catherine doesn’t fit the Name.

                      Unless, see above, she does. Interpretation of Names and archetypes, it’s vaguer that you make them out to be. In this, your assumptions are as unbased as you claim of mine. Especially when we consider Roles, which would take a lot of wind out of your argument’s sails as what you’re saying should be more the Role that someone holds in the Story rather than the Name that they hold as an individual.

                      Names do seem to be a lot more flexible than we give them credit for. The first Tyrant created Helike and made it persist, Kairos chaotically destroys. They inherently differ in their archetype while claiming the same Name. Name and Role seem to have some synergy, but the Name isn’t purely and solely the archetype rather than a broad descriptor that the individual, the situation and their Role in the story make them to be. Even for one person, the likes of Ranger and Archer can decide whether they fall in the archetype of good or evil to be considered not Neutral but good as the Vagrant Spear showed.

                      >More or less, although an important point here is that the cultural views like this are largely shared. You cannot just wave a hand and change an entire culture’s mind.

                      Yes, but my point is, Cat hasn’t waved her hand yet since book 3 we’ve been seeing that Callow, her culture and bed of her Name probably, has been changing its mind about her. In Book 1 she was still a Praesi born in Callow, in Book 3 she was the lesser evil necessary for now and established by Praes as a vassal queen, but now Callow doesn’t distrust her like they did before. Even their House of Light rejected the other Houses of Light and declared themselves Insurgent to reject the claim of Archheretic to be Cat.

                      We’ve been hearing rumours of Callow shifting all the more in Cat’s favour and the culture of Callow seeing her more and more as a saviour and true accepted queen, rather than the bloody warmongerer that they still saw her as in Book 3. We’ve been seeing more and more hints that Callow is changing its mind on Cat decisively these last two books. The very requirement that you’re claiming is being fulfilled as seen in EE’s writing.

                      >As for what Callow thinks of Cat, we’ve had two ‘Callowan everyman’ POVs on that – Abigail and Erik (I think?)

                      Big difference between Abigail Who Balks at Success and your everyday Callowan, and a just as big difference between meeting Cat face to face and hearing of her through rumours. Remember that even the Levant leaders thought that the entire fey invasion in Callow were but bolstered rumours, so imagine how little the people really hear of everything going on. What they hear is Procer trying to annex Callow which they balk at, and Cat saying Nope to that. They hear of Procer proclaiming Cat the Arch-heretic, and their own House declaring themselves independent from the rest, obviously hearing House Insurgent’s view on this first and foremost.

                      As we can take from the banners and the adding of crow wings and such to them, voluntarily and with praise, the soldiers actually love and believe in Cat. Moreso than I’d say the Callowans back home do. There’s a delay between what people should think of her and them thinking it, but Callow is little by little warming up more and more to Cat as not just the bloody invader they need. The PoV from the actual peasants from book 4 prologue:

                      “The hero was almost nauseated. They said the villain ruling Callow had nailed hundreds to crosses after slaying her rival, made them grisly ornaments along the road. The merchant should have been appalled, but if anything he sounded grudgingly approving.”

                      “Aye, and the Black Queen killed her dead,” Albert grunted. “She’s a hard one, make no mistake, but these are bad times. Hard is what we need. Even Jehan the Wise hung himself some princes. Seven and one, like in the song.”

                      And that was mere chapters after Cat rejected the Black Queen position you’re talking about. That was when the most recent fighting had still found place in Callow, rather than Callowans hearing of victories and politics without it destroying their back yard and killing their children. Now add a year, dwarven coin lessening war taxes (taxes are inevitably the most instrinsic part of a monarch’s reputation amongst its people), the Wasteland immigration and influence being lessened if not completely cut off, Cat’s Callow being a signiatory of the Grand Alliance rather than at risk of Proceran annexation, etc.

                      >Callow never saw Cat as an invader, only as a despised collaborationist and sellout.

                      Potato potato, pronounced differently. They saw Cat as the Black Knight finding a Callowan to be a Praesi leader for them while not inherently being a foreigner. They saw her as a Praesi lapdog when she first came in said to be their new queen, leading wasteland soldiers and bringing tower mintage gold. Whatever the case, this has been gradually changing, and massively once Callow and Praes were no longer vassalaged, in federation or even with a trade agreement.

                      >Never once do Roles get referenced in a way that you suggest.

                      Or yours. See how that might be a bit of a troublesome point when you’re considering your interpretation of Roles to be supported by the story when they haven’t been. Remember: I’m the one claiming that Roles cannot give you Name-power threshed armies by providence just because they are your Role, with you claiming that they can by disagreeing and opposing this. But I’ve yet to see supporting proof for this.

                      Now, with the new chapter it’s been confirmed that Cat indeed does not have a Name at this moment, contrary to previous chapters being vaguer in terminology, so as it turns out providence does give 2000 horsemen to unnamed with a neat bow wrapped around in it in the form of no mass desertion and unruliness. But before that chapter, there was no such confirmed event yet.

                      Calling it narrative weight would’ve helped a bit pre-epilogue, because Roles are an actual thing in the guideverse and you were attaching unfounded traits and abilities to them, though I still lament that the epilogue now confirms that Named aren’t quite as special in bending Creation as they were initially said to be. We’ve seen Grem’s PoV saying how it’s different with Named. We’ve seen other cases where something never works when Named are involved. But now, Named just seem a lot less special and important to me. They’re just a convenient power-up now, not a vital ingredient of Creation using Story at all. Why even have Names in your simulation if that’s the case?

                      >You’re using the word “Role” in a way that doesn’t make sense to me again. Can you rephrase that without using the word?

                      Going back to my Mario and Peach example from a comment before, a Story would have important Roles (like damsel in distress) that wouldn’t have to be Names. Those would be Roles, and Names when involved in a story would also get Roles. In a pattern of three, one Named gets the Role of initial victor, while the other Named gets the Role of inevitable victor.

                      In this mess, Cordelia holds the Role of ruler of Procer. But this wouldn’t entitle them to Name-related providence and abilities. If Kairos tells Cordelia that she stands no chance of victory, her power wouldn’t increase as it did for Saint. A Role is a part in a Story that can befall a Named or non-Named, and by interaction with a Named the Role ought to follow the pattern by this Named’s influence. Similarly, a Named has the providence of swooping in at the last second, but unless they too have a Name a Role wouldn’t be entitled to survive and hold out until the last second when attacked.

                      If there’s no Name on either side, providence shouldn’t see to the Roles working perfectly beyond the abilities of their natural talents and actions, and neither Pallas nor Cat have Names. Making it odd that Cat managed to do this without a Name, as it goes against previously established effects of Named on Creation and Stories when they are apparently not actually necessary to be part of it. Returning me to the nihillistic conclusion of Why even have Names in your simulation if that’s the case?

                      If this happened in a story without Named like Lord of the Rings, sure. That’s called plot and no one escapes it, just ask Deadpool. But in the guideverse, I lament that plot also exists when Story is a real law of Narrative in this universe. Named used to be the explanation, but apparently they’re just an unnecessary addition to Creation’s workings. Is it really too much to ask for things like free will, individuality, imperfect information gathering and funding to apply when Named aren’t involved, in a story that has shown us exactly those things when they fit in worldbuilding and Cat’s kingdom management issues?

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                3. On reread of my post,

                  > Names are a meta-level thing that reflects object level facts. A person’s attitude towards their Name is a meta-level fact per se

                  Nah, that’s me confusing myself. A person’s attitude towards anything, including their own Name, is an object level fact. It gets weight on a scale, like any other fact. I suspect in any Name with an adjective ‘reluctant’ (we haven’t seen those but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist), it would in fact count in favor of the Name, not against it, if the person didn’t want it…

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Don’t worry, I often read back my uneditable posts around here and don’t even know what I meant myself. I know the feeling. And yes, I can see that being the case.

                    On the below, reading it back I can see this being hard to understand by my vague phrasing so allow me to rewrite:

                    >Yeah, I’m going with the terminology used in-universe and in WoG. Note how an elf Named we’ve met has worked the exact same way as ‘human, orc and goblin’ Named do – three Aspects and all. And a ratling Named, too. You’d think if anyone would have a different system… but nope, species appears to be entirely irrelevant.

                    I meant as in that the three aspect Named are the lowest bar, the only one feasible for mortals to attain. Unless of course they are literally part of a god ascending, like Cat. Ratlings are still mortals and even more limited, and elves need not be that much more powerful than humans. There might be other subsections, kinds and designs of Named that need bigger, older or more extraordinary triggers or patrons. Or even that at a certain point you get so powerful that you ascend Name limitations and can start designing and redesigning them as we may have seen with Saint.

                    >Cursed. Sabah was born to it.

                    This is a bit vague by lack of chapters on it, but Sabah was born to a curse which was likely why she got the transitionary Name of Cursed. Similar to how Killian was born a half-elf and potentially could’ve gotten this transitionary Name because of it and the troubles she had with using magic thanks to her ancestory. I don’t think they ever said Sabah was born Named at all, or that the lychantrophy she got came at the exact same time as her Name.
                    Addition needed for clarification: Killian was an example of in-universe already cursed and powered beings without a Name, and with the Wasteland’s nonsense and experiments (such as the intelligent tigers still living around there) the lychantrophy is likely a ‘normal’ thing there as in not necessarily Name-related.

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                    1. > I meant as in that the three aspect Named are the lowest bar, the only one feasible for mortals to attain. Unless of course they are literally part of a god ascending, like Cat. Ratlings are still mortals and even more limited, and elves need not be that much more powerful than humans. There might be other subsections, kinds and designs of Named that need bigger, older or more extraordinary triggers or patrons. Or even that at a certain point you get so powerful that you ascend Name limitations and can start designing and redesigning them as we may have seen with Saint.

                      Named who get domains are still Named. (And what Saint had was in technical terms a domain)

                      The mechanic you’re suggesting here shows no evidence of existing.

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                4. Also on reread,

                  > If you’re going into ‘the writer is actually secretly wrong about their own magic system’s terminology and mechanics’ I’m afraid I cannot help you there.

                  Amended to “if you’re going into that, that’s a very strong claim that you’ll need to back up with strong evidence that the system is internally inconsistent the way the writer formulates it”.

                  Liked by 1 person

            3. My turn to reply to an earlier post to make it easier to read!

              > So true, I myself just opened the page twice. One for the comment, the other for your post.

              I recommend my method, where I answer as I read~

               

              > Story logic might be their fiat.

              Too consistent. It’s not fiat if it’s consistent and people can exploit it as known mechanisms.

               

              > Kairos’s death and standing ovation returned the rumours of the Gods being an audience to be entertained.

              They evidently are! What kind of audience gets entertained by seeing the same thing over and over again though? You’d think the minute people caught on to a consistent way to get a Name they’d change it to shake it up… but no, the mechanisms ARE CONSISTENT.

               

              > They might hold the reins to ensure that neither side ever wins by exploiting a Name surfacing or for the wrong people to get Names.

              You seem to have an impression that there is a “wrong” way for a simulation experiment to go.

              As for not having it end prematurely, that seems to be Bard’s job.

               

              > What the difference and line between the Gods and Providence or Story are is vague. If providence controls the triggering of a Name, then it holds some control if only to prevent finite doom from applying too often.

              ?

              Providence/story/narrative is an automatic mechanism. It was set up by the Gods because everything in Creation was. And then they pressed the ‘start’ button and sat down to watch as it unfolds on its own.

              “The influence of the gods tends to be on the subtle side” (c) WoE. Picking who gets a Name and who doesn’t isn’t subtle.

              As for the difference, the terminology usage seems to be that providence is specifically positive luck, things turning out your way, and more specifically than that things turning out your way because of a heroic or pseudo-heroic story (the heroic/pseudo-heroic thing is the part where characters start to differ in how they use the word).

               

              > The gods may be synonymous with this, as there does seem to be a rule on that they get to meddle with equal balancing measure by the other side as a result. Providence is likely this meddling by the Gods Above, though I wonder how much the Gods Below since gotten as a due for Cat’s story or if they other Villains really screwed Cat over in the balancing of things. However, where the Gods end and Creation begins is quite vague indeed.

              Providence is non-sentient. It can be cheated. It’s a force, not a living creature’s will.

               

              > I meant more in how in Worm, it has been found impossible (except for couldron’s chemicals) to trigger a superpower on command.

              Oh yes, it hasn’t. Meanwhile in Creation it is absolutely possible.

               

              > You cannot bring it down to ‘We’ve got a Story of the Convenient Villain-killer that grants a Name to someone decorated for their efforts against Praes’s initial attack, then gets double-knighted by our ruler and has to get any magical item that gives them brand recognition. And then they are nigh assured victory against Villains with Praes’ initial victory that got the Named attention as the first in the Pattern of Three. There’s always someone befitting condition one, we collect items for condition three and I can do condition two, so we’ve got making this Named down to a science now.’

              Actually that’s exactly how the more deft story-weavers, particularly those on a heroic side that don’t get screwed over by hubris the minute they relax automatically, think. “Alright so my companions bantering makes them comic relief and therefore basically invincible, these are the ones I’ll be sending on risky missions then”.

              As for getting a Name specifically, that’s how Akua did it. “Okay so to get a Name of Diabolist I need to fit the story of a diabolist. What do diabolists do? I’m going to do this, this and that, hopefully it’ll be enough, if not I’ll just keep pouring oil into the fire until it triggers”.

              Oh and of course the inevitable “how do I get the Name of Warlock? Oh simple, kill the previous one”. “How do I get the Name of Dread Emperor/Empress? Oh simple, claim the Tower from the previous one”. Etc.

               

              > “And then they are nigh assured victory against Villains with Praes’ initial victory that got the Named attention as the first in the Pattern of Three”

              For a pattern of three there needs to be a rivalry. That said, those have been planned out and exploited?

              This could be a matter of the Gods holding some control or fiat, to prevent the simulation that they’re running from running itself by its internal intelligent beings finding the bugs and exploits of the simulation and exploiting them to the utmost. A computer simulation with active AI does requires some oversight until the simulation has been proven perfect enough. Which likely wouldn’t involve Named at all.

               

              > “There’s always someone befitting condition one, we collect items for condition three and I can do condition two, so we’ve got making this Named down to a science now.”

              Kairos made himself a Hierarch.

              I’m serious.

              People do this in-universe. People have done this on-screen.

               

              > Which begs the question of where the confines and definition of a Name starts and stops. The noble titles are technically Names, though of another world.

              They aren’t, technically or not.

               

              > The fey are heavily bound to Story, as Named are. Their titles are always capitalised, as Names are.

              And? Most noble titles are capitalized in this story. Cat’s a Countess of Marchford, not a countess of Marchford. Anne Kendall was Baroness Dormer, not baroness Dormer. Cordelia is Prince of Rhenia, Princess of Salia and First Prince, not prince of Rhenia, princess of Salia and first prince.

              As for ‘heavily bound to story, as Named are’ – yes. They have this in common with Named. Like how goats give milk, similarly to cows. Doesn’t make goats a variety of cow.

               

              > They operate by a different system, but they are still Named. Not three Aspect Named as we know them, but not quite non-Named like demons either.

              How exactly did demons enter this???

               

              > If you get a choice of Yes or No and choosing No results in your death or the program indefinately giving you a choice of whether you’re sure or the option to come back to choose Yes yet being trapped in the previous area until you choose Yes, is it really a choice?

              I’m confused. Who is getting trapped where?

              > My opinion: No matter if your answer would be Yes without even knowing that No wasn’t an option, the mindwashing aura of the Hashmallim inherently violates the concept of free will and make it so that their choices aren’t actually choices on a philosophical level of the interpretation of free will and free choice.

              For the regular people, yes. For the heroes, the aura actually doesn’t do that. It just doesn’t. The effect isn’t on. There isn’t anything for Hashmallim to brainwash them WITH. They don’t have the imperative.

              Overall though I can agree that the Hashmallim specifically don’t give their chosen champions much choice once they’ve been chosen. Less of a ‘getting trapped’ thing and more of a ‘entering a cutscene’ thing lmao. How was it relevant to the overall discussion again?

               

              > Hm, nope. Google gives me nothing but an annoyingly consistent trend to only show book 5 results.

              RIP. Let me try… Okay yeah I definitely misremembered the phrasing.

              …i tried again with ‘sabah name born’ and there we have it:

              > “I was born into mine, back when I was the Cursed,” she grunted.

              …this was quoted in comments to Beast lmao but thankfully with indication of actual chapter. Fuller quote:

              > “Some kind of Name thing for you,” she gravelled. “Squires are so bleeding dramatic. Getting Amadeus settled into his Role was a pain too, though, no reason you’d be different.”
              >
              > I raised an eyebrow. “Your Name was easier?”
              >
              > “I was born into mine, back when I was the Cursed,” she grunted. “By the time I became the Captain, no one was dumb enough to challenge me for it.”

              > Reading her Extra Chapter Beast, Sabah seems to suggest that she wasn’t a Name rather than just a Role before, and reading through the first book for this bit of knowlege is proving annoyingly fruitless.

              …so I also remembered that there was a WoG on the topic.

              > The Cursed was a transitional Name, much like Apprentice and Squire. Her Role eventually matured into a different Name, that of “the Captain”.

              aaaand there’s more on the subject of Names and Roles right there!

              > Roles don’t change, only Names do. Though aspects do change when the Name does, so there would be a difference in powers.

              …I’m going to search for every mention of “Role” here.

              > The Squire Role isn’t always Evil, no. It largely depends on who they’ll be squiring for, though anyone squiring for Black is going to be Evil.

              > There’s no Role that’s outright called Hero, much like there is none called Villain. Roles do change the appearance of the person they belong to. Usually the changes are minor, and they always reflect what the person expects someone with that Role should look like. We’ve already seen that Black is a lot older than what he looks like (partially because Names hinder aging, partially because he has the same mindset as he did when he had that appearance) and Captain is actually a little older.

              > The influence of the gods is usually on the subtle side. You’re right that Evil Roles usually let people do whatever they feel like doing – that’s because they’re, in that sense, championing the philosophy of their gods. Every victory for Evil is a proof that that philosophy is the right path for Creation to take. Nearly all Names on the bad side of the fence have a component that involves forcing their will or perspective on others (the most blatant examples of this being Black and Empress Malicia, who outright have aspects relating to rule in their Names). There’s a reason that Black didn’t so much as bat an eyelid when Catherine admitted to wanting to change how Callow is run. From his point of view, that kind of ambition is entirely natural. Good Roles have strict moral guidelines because those Names are, in fact, being guided: those rules are instructions from above on how to behave to make a better world. Any victory for Good that follows from that is then a proof of concept for the Heavens being correct in their side of the argument

              > “Rashid was part of a Praesi faction that believes in old school villainy.” While there are certainly advantages to going the old way – it usually feeds into Roles – there are also drawbacks. Usually lethal ones.”

              > A Role is the function of a Name in the pattern (as in, a Tyrant is meant to rule and a Thief to steal).

              OH LOOK WE HAVE AN ACTUAL DEFINITION

              > Catherine wasn’t born a mage, and will never learn to use sorcery. Using Legion mages as a point of reference is a bad idea, though, since the entire point of legionary magic is for every one of them to be able to do a few specific spells so they can be used en masse – a mage or warlock having gone through a proper apprenticeship would make them look like incompetent flunkies. The Name tricks displayed so far are something pretty much every Named can do with a little training, save for the necromancy – which is for Evil Names only, and not all of them. The ward recognition isn’t even a “trick” per se: any halfway decent spellcaster could do the same. Individuals with Roles are more sensitive to power as a whole, but it should be noted that if Warlock had decided to hide his wards Catherine would never have noticed them. As for the more general comment, keep in mind that a Name isn’t really a specific set of powers so much as a pool of energy that can be used in a myriad of ways. The specific tricks characters can use are more a representation of local traditions more than hard limits. The real limiter on Catherine is that there’s only so much power she can call on. That’s the whole point of Aspects: they allow you to dig deeper into the well. More than that, as a Squire she’s closer to the bottom than the top of the totem pole. She could put forward every scrap of power at her disposal and it still wouldn’t be a match for what say Malicia or Warlock can do on an off day.

              > We’ve seen the Empire – more particularly Black – isn’t above manipulating public perception but fundamentally warping a culture in the way you’re describing would be very, very hard. Keep in mind that this is not a modern era. People travel by horse, and while scrying can make for instant communication word spreads very slowly. And even if somehow someone figured out a way to do it, you’re missing the major consequence: the people powered by the old stories, which is the entirety of the cast, would be at risk of losing their own Roles. Names don’t exist in a vacuum.

              > Adjutant is a Name without precedent in the Empire. No one quite knows what the Role behind it is, or whether or not it’s transitional – though some individuals well-versed in Name lore have guesses.

              …so I think this should conclude our argument on terminology actually. You really should read through the WoG document, it’s stickied on reddit.

               

              > I took from Tikoloshe’s theories on the Dead King’s continued survival that it wasn’t the Arcadian knowledge rather than the knowledge of DK’s apotheosis itself that was trapped. You read the book he wrote (which ought to be regular paper or being warded and analysed by the reader before reading it) and try to reach lichdom yourself using the knowledge and rituals therein described, and you play straight into the Dead King’s hands giving him another powerful arcanist body to work with. He likely travelled to Arcadia to add these memories into his own echoes too and maybe even changed the echoes to encourage people to find him and extract the knowledge, probably. It’s not necessarily anything that had to do with Arcadian knowledge stealing.

              Masego didn’t read the book and didn’t try the rituals. He got Dead King riding his mind just by accessing his memories. Tikoloshe’s theories are irrelevant when we have actual precedent happening right there.

               

              > I stand corrected, the elves apparently came out of Arcadia the second time around, their kingdom partly or kinda sits in Arcadia and William got chased by fey hunters in the Bloom that was also Arcadia or fey monsters somehow, but they indeed do not originally come out of Arcadia. Kinda. So I stand corrected, elves are not of fey ancestry.

              ^^

               

              > Now I’m going to have to quote something back at you that you said: “Again, you’re making wild assumptions about potential mechanics that don’t have even a hint of evidence pointing towards them in the text. You are just… making them up. Additional complexity.” You’re being just as guilty of this from time to time. Like now.
              >
              > Not only does Grey Knight (in a world with a White and Black Knight with some pretty obvious archetypes attached to them) sound like a very obvious archetype for all to understand, it’s even more obvious than Black Queen being an archetype of a Queen reigning with terror. Black Queen without context could also refer to a tragically hated or martyred queen, while the Red Queen would be a much more obvious archetype referrence to the kind of queen you’re describing. (Even without Alice in Wonderland.)

              What do you mean I’m making things up? I’m quoting Word of God to you. Erratic’s the one making things up, we’re the ones discussing them, yes? I’m just confused at this point.

              Like

              1. >Too consistent. It’s not fiat if it’s consistent and people can exploit it as known mechanisms.
                >They evidently are! What kind of audience gets entertained by seeing the same thing over and over again though? You’d think the minute people caught on to a consistent way to get a Name they’d change it to shake it up… but no, the mechanisms ARE CONSISTENT.
                >You seem to have an impression that there is a “wrong” way for a simulation experiment to go.
                As for not having it end prematurely, that seems to be Bard’s job.
                >Providence/story/narrative is an automatic mechanism. It was set up by the Gods because everything in Creation was. And then they pressed the ‘start’ button and sat down to watch as it unfolds on its own.
                “The influence of the gods tends to be on the subtle side” (c) WoE. Picking who gets a Name and who doesn’t isn’t subtle.
                As for the difference, the terminology usage seems to be that providence is specifically positive luck, things turning out your way, and more specifically than that things turning out your way because of a heroic or pseudo-heroic story (the heroic/pseudo-heroic thing is the part where characters start to differ in how they use the word).

                Once again I’m going to have to reflect your words back at you. You’re making assumptions that are ungrounded presented as if they’re facts. That the gods are absolute hands-off on a simulation they’re running, that the mechanisms are consistent, that there is no hand of the gods in Name-granting at all. All of these are your interpretation without hard evidence while you claim that there is.

                That Names are absolutely consistent. Assumption. That the mechanisms are consistent. Definately an assumption. That the influence of the gods is subtle as in; they don’t interfere at all with Names and events at all while providence isn’t the finger of Above on the scales. Assumption.

                My point is, there is no such consistent mechanisms when we look at realistic worldbuilding. Especially considering that this is written by EE who doesn’t leave such glaring plotholes in worldbuilding like that societies should’ve upscaled and optimised the death weapons they have. If the mechanisms were really consistent, then the majority of Names would be with a clear recipe of creation and strengthening. Not bound to balancing the sides and Named saying it’s literally the will of the Gods that these Names and their power came to be (Hanno about Mirror Knight Winter II).

                If the mechanics were really so consistent that they are exploitable, some Names would quite literally appear every generation months after the Named’s death because the people since gamed its awakening. Cultures would have turned to a Name-farming war machine after just one Named who knows how Names and Stories work, or copy it from a country that does.

                Instead, we see a world that remains entertaining and ever shifting because Names aren’t exploitable like this. Cat’s White Knight trigger and Hanno’s are vastly different, because the trigger of White Knight is evidently one that can come in various ways. (I’m going to assume that Cat’s WK wouldn’t have somehow involved a boatride.) That mechanism is definately not consistent. Below has a few consistent Due’s, but in the creation of Names there are no such hard mechanics as you’re assuming there are.

                >>> I meant more in how in Worm, it has been found impossible (except for couldron’s chemicals) to trigger a superpower on command.
                >Oh yes, it hasn’t. Meanwhile in Creation it is absolutely possible.

                Except it is not because we’re not talking about any Good Named that is a consistent presence farmed every generation or every conflict. We don’t have a King’s Guard who’s an always present Named guardian of the First Prince, made by Procer propaganda and then always around to protect whomever holds the throne of Salia.

                “Heroes were rare in Procer, at best a once in a generation appearance, and they were treated with distant awe.” Chapter Warden I. Doesn’t sound like Procer has the slightest idea of how to consistently farm Named, which directly contradicts that these would be consistent mechanics like the 200 Axioms being hard rules for Named engagement. Yet when things are happening that require the ascending of Names as current events do, Named pop up like mushrooms.

                Cat killed 5 groups of Named between Book 3 and 4, and Amadeus even more before Book 1. Because these semi-chaotically appeared in reaction to their presence yet according to realistic growth of power once ascended, not according to hard, consistent mechanics. Note: Chaos is chaotic, but on a large scale follows lawful patterns. See diffusion or enthropy. If Names were bound to a hard mechanic, then Amadeus would’ve timed the emergence of Named to the week precise and known which Names they’d be. Instead we’re shown a general reactive nature of Names according to an only partially consistent emergence, which is chaotic rather than consistent.

                >Actually that’s exactly how the more deft story-weavers, particularly those on a heroic side that don’t get screwed over by hubris the minute they relax automatically, think. “Alright so my companions bantering makes them comic relief and therefore basically invincible, these are the ones I’ll be sending on risky missions then”.

                Big difference on the making of Named and the general cliches of already-Named from the Axioms. Falling off a cliff meaning assured survival is a big difference to a regular person doing a thing to ensure that they become Named at all. You are assuming that getting a Name follows the same exploitable nature of what already Named would enjoy using defined cliches of providence and Story that they are bound to, there’s no hard basis for this.

                Akua was already Heiress, a transitionary Name intended to turn into a different one. Their Name ensures that they will get a Name if they live long enough, it’s not the same as a non-Named getting a Name by defined mechanisms to follow. Big difference between a Claimant or Transition Name and getting a Name at all. And getting the Name of a Praesi is your Due, the gimmick of Below, definately not an easy feat. As we see no such thing for the Heroes, this is more a Below thing than a Named thing.

                >For a pattern of three there needs to be a rivalry. That said, those have been planned out and exploited?

                Yes, but you’re kinda taking something from this which isn’t at all the argument. Gaming the system so that someone is assured to come into a Name and already be in a Pattern of Three doing this was my point, not that the Pattern of Three itself is an unprecedented exploit.

                >Kairos made himself a Hierarch. I’m serious. People do this in-universe. People have done this on-screen.

                Kairos has Wish, he’s quite literally cheating. And he’s a Named using the “I’m a Villain, so I’m unbeatable during the first step of my plan.” part, which we’ve also seen Akua do. I’m not saying that Named once created cannot exploit the system, I’m saying that making Named isn’t allowed to be exploited. Kairos cheated and followed the rules of Below as the closest thing to a high priest to them on the continent, and even then there’s the chance that Hierarch was an accident or the way that his wish took shape in an to him unknown direction while Kairos would claim it was all according to plan. That’s part of scheming villain 101.

                >And? Most noble titles are capitalized in this story. Cat’s a Countess of Marchford, not a countess of Marchford. Anne Kendall was Baroness Dormer, not baroness Dormer. Cordelia is Prince of Rhenia, Princess of Salia and First Prince, not prince of Rhenia, princess of Salia and first prince.
                As for ‘heavily bound to story, as Named are’ – yes. They have this in common with Named. Like how goats give milk, similarly to cows. Doesn’t make goats a variety of cow.

                It does make both goats and cows mammals, which are amongst others defined by lactating. You keep accusing me of calling all Named bovines, while I’m saying that bovines are just a subsection of the larger group of mammals.

                Titles in our grammar are already capitalised by usage of proper English, so that’s more a matter of EE not bastardising the language for non-fey titles. Doesn’t mean that the titles of the fey aren’t also Names despite them following much to all of the Name patterns except Aspects.

                >How exactly did demons enter this???

                They didn’t.

                >For the regular people, yes. For the heroes, the aura actually doesn’t do that. It just doesn’t. The effect isn’t on. There isn’t anything for Hashmallim to brainwash them WITH. They don’t have the imperative.

                Before he became the Lone Swordsman, William was very much not a Named. So he was still a regular person.

                Even assuming that what you’re writing here isn’t all completely assumption, which I think it is. I don’t recall anything defined about the Hashmallim aura in this regard to support your words, so again you too are making blind assumptions a dozen. We don’t know and haven’t been told whether the Hashmallim can turn off their aura just like that.

                >Overall though I can agree that the Hashmallim specifically don’t give their chosen champions much choice once they’ve been chosen. Less of a ‘getting trapped’ thing and more of a ‘entering a cutscene’ thing lmao. How was it relevant to the overall discussion again?

                This started when I made an off-hand comment on our argument of whether getting a Name is always voluntary that, by my opinion of what free will is in real life philosophical terms, that technically one cannot make a free choice when brainwashed regardless of what their initial choice would’ve been. I think you took it as much more relevant to the discussion and literal than I intended it. You said “Oooh, this is an interesting discussion.” if you want to Ctrl+F read it back.

                >…this was quoted in comments to Beast lmao but thankfully with indication of actual chapter. Fuller quote:

                Damn, chapter 7. I even read the part two or three sentences above it looking for this…

                Fair enough, though there could be circumstancial bolstering or abbreviating. She was born into her lychantropy, but why wouldn’t anyone have smothered the baby if she was a Claimant which logically should’ve yielded other Claimants too? Cat’s awakening as Squire made others Claimants too upon demand, as they apparently weren’t around to claim Squire in the four decades before it. And again, wouldn’t Sabah’s parent and siblings also have to be born into the Name of Cursed if she was considering they too ought to be Warlock-cursed?

                >OH LOOK WE HAVE AN ACTUAL DEFINITION. …so I think this should conclude our argument on terminology actually. You really should read through the WoG document, it’s stickied on reddit.

                Yes, and I don’t see how this changes much. This doesn’t oppose my interpretation of Role and doesn’t support your argument in our discussion on what influence and importance Roles would have vs Names and over Names. In fact, this nigh seamlessly supports my interpretation of a Role: That it is one’s role and function in the Story.

                It doesn’t state much on the original discussion, which I think we started here:

                >> Her fitting into Name events like the Band of Five and gaining the Yew Staff or Fairfax Sword are a lot more Story-pulled than the non-Named actions we see around. Too Story-pulled, even when assuming her Duchess of Moonless Nights title was the Name that explained her role and being controlled into a Story that Keter I and the Everdark clearly were. One doesn’t happenstance into those situations at the exact right moment or way without a Name pulling providence, with the Book 5 events being a bit vaguer in this but still suggesting Name plot.

                >You are using “Name” to substitute for narrative/Role. Name is just one type of thing that happens around those, not every single thing ever. Yes, Catherine is having Name-like things happen to her without holding an actual Name, because she is playing a significant Role in the current continental stories and every single action she takes short of wiping herself in the privy has significant narrative weight. This suggests that IF she were to fit into a character archetype groove that exists in-universe she’d get a Name out of that. But there are currently none that she fits, with Black Queen being already tied to a different one.

                The main discussion lied in whether Named Roles and non-Named roles would have the same pull and benefit of providence and Story-created events, before the epilogue declared in clear language that Cat had no Name all this time.

                As it turned out, you were correct once the epilogue came out. But before that, everything that assumed Roles to hold the same sway and groove that Names got was an assumption, not hard fact. Before that, I assumed that those that don’t have a Name wouldn’t have a Role that would do essentially the same in terms of influencing Creation and the course of events, and now that that’s been debunked it has rendering Names oddly pointless in my eyes aside from a well of power.

                >Masego didn’t read the book and didn’t try the rituals. He got Dead King riding his mind just by accessing his memories. Tikoloshe’s theories are irrelevant when we have actual precedent happening right there.

                Tikoloshe is basing this on the existence of DK’s book and his continued survival, before Masego revealed that he already reaped the memories from Arcadia. That arcadian memories are the only means to be enthralled by DK is an assumption you make, that DK’s trapped knowledge by any medium would work is an hypothesis by an in-universe character with millenia of experience.

                Don’t make this another “All mammals are bovines.” argument. That Masego followed one path to the destination doesn’t mean that all other paths are incorrect, because there’s more ways that lead to Rome. That arcadian knowledge works for DK to hijack you does in no way discredit Tikoloshe’s argument rather than support it, and it’s no precedent to show and confirm that the book in Praes’s hidden library and other means to learn the secret wouldn’t have worked.

                >What do you mean I’m making things up? I’m quoting Word of God to you. Erratic’s the one making things up, we’re the ones discussing them, yes? I’m just confused at this point.

                My point is that you too are making a lot of assumptions based on what has been declared, but that you are declaring your assumptions to also be undeniable fact. F.e. you are apparently making the assumption that because arcadian reaped knowledge of DK’s ritual works disprove Tilokoshe, which is purely your interpretation rather than what has actually been established and confirmed. Yet you are presenting them as the word of EE himself.

                >That discussion was of potential possible Names she might acquire in the future. If she started doing knight shit while dressed in grey, some people might have started calling her ‘Grey Knight’. But it wouldn’t have been enough to form a Name as there’s no cultural archetype attached. Nobody would hear ‘grey knight’ and go ‘ah yes one of those. While people clearly have association triggers with “Black Queen” – ‘ah yes, a cruel bloody queen reigning in terror’.

                On the specifics that we’re talking about here, you are claiming that Cat wouldn’t have become the Grey Knight because it doesn’t exist if she would’ve dressed in grey armour (assumption), while she did almost become the Black Queen for being a queen dressed in black, just because you assume that the former wouldn’t be an obvious archetype while the latter is (assumption, as we don’t know to what extend archetypes are needed and which ones exist in that world).

                You are making an outright assumption that the archetype of Black Queen already exists in the guideverse and then being surprised when I call you out on making such an assumption while you’ve been doing the same about my assumptions. You are making a lot of assumptions you’re assuming to be hard in-universe things, too.

                And it’s especially comments like
                >You’re thinking in terms of stories and archetypes existing in the real world. But that’s not relevant. What’s relevant is stories and archetypes existing on Calernia. It’s been fairly thoroughly established by now, I think, that there’s no precedent for what you’re describing and no-one’s matching Cat up with ‘ah yes one of those’ in that way. That story doesn’t exist.

                that show that you don’t seem to see the difference in your assumptions and the hard defined mechanics of what EE established. Not only are stories and archetypes of our world relevant as EE is basing his on those so we know what he’s talking about and what we’re dealing with, but you’re also making assumptions on what is the case in EE’s universe and not. You’re outright assuming that the Grey Knight archetype doesn’t exist in his world while the Black Queen does, yet presenting this as in-universe confirmed fact rather than your own assumption.

                Let’s face it, anything that EE hasn’t outright mentioned and established in his world isn’t necessarily the case in his world. But let’s not forget, that applies on all your assumptions too. You’re quite often making assumptions that are just as unfounded and out of nowhere as you claim mine to be, yet you seem to not see how these are assumptions or try to make them something that EE said. You’ve been trying to counter my assumptions with yours while proclaiming yours to be hard facts. Not the case.

                (Also, real world archetypes are kind of relevant. As said before, EE’s archetypes are based off ours. The Black Knight is hardly unique to his works, same for Pilgrim being pretty much being Merlin and Gandalf; the old mentor archetype from our world.

                In this, the stories are bound to be bound to our real world archetypes. The axioms are quite literally things we often see in our fantasy and hero stories.

                On the rest, PERSONAL INTERPRETATION rather than argued to be a fact that you have to agree with, I think that he particularly takes inspiration from Exalted (Book 1-3, very fitting for the mentioned demons and exalted/Named comparison and the Fey being nigh identical with EE’s personal take on them, even with some names from the Exalted universe being used here.) going over into Warhammer Fantasy (More fitting for armies and politics, with Book 3-5 defined Procer and Levant closely reminiscing the Empire parts and military tone, with the Lyaconese being Kirslev and the ratlings quite literally being the Skaven with their Horned Lords.)

                >Yeah, I agree with this. I don’t think it’s all the way there yet – too many people still think otherwise – but we’re witnessing movement in that direction.

                This is more a personal interpretation hoping and trusting EE to deliver on this true worldbuilding: Patriotism and that sweet dwarven coin lowering Callow’s war taxes, combined with the conflict happening elsewhere while Callowan war has been a while ago, ought to be a big help. Lower taxes = happier people, regardless of their interpretation of their monarch, ought to be the case. Even a Fairfax will eventually be rebelled against if they raise taxes too high, and even Amadeus got less rebellions and a new generation being a lot more mellow and neutral towards him and Praes thanks to his non-exploit invasion of silent annexation.

                >According to Bard, who I don’t think was lying, Callowans were already divided on whether Cat was a Praesi sellout or their new hope as of start of book 2, before the confrontation with the heroes in Summerholm.
                The public opinion began shifting more categorically and universally as news about Marchford spread, as Cat had proven herself actually willing and capable to defend her land and her people.
                That was all they wanted. They are okay with her being bloody more than she herself is. See: the whole debacle about Bonfire at the start of Book 4.

                Kind of exactly what I was saying. Cat being a puppet queen of the Wasteland in Callow’s eyes and her being a Named of theirs ruling Callow holds little actual difference when it’s the opinion of a country.

                >>But I’ve yet to see supporting proof for this.
                >Yeah, quoted above.
                Nope, as countered above.

                >You can say that. Or I can say that it was actually stated outright multiple times and you just ignored it / forgot it / handwaved it away because you liked your theory too much.

                Nope, none of your arguments confirmed your assumptions to be part of the Role definition or for what you claimed Roles could do as opposed to Named&Roles. You merely made assumptions based on a few quotes and defined interpretations, claiming them to not be your own interpretation on what was being said.

                >The story is more or less ABOUT how Named aren’t all that special. They sort of are, but they make a difference by being in the right place in the right time, not by being inherently cooler than everyone else.

                Those quotes are still on what Names are, not confirming your earlier made claims and assumptions on Roles and their extend. Again, you seem to miss where the definitions given end and your assumptions and interpretations begin.Or where the crux of the original discussion lied: What falls under Names and what under Roles, and where this border lies.

                >Alright, so first of all, part of your problem was attributing to Story Power what was actually regular human reactions. See Catherine musing on how people were cheering for Cordelia because of WHAT she was saying, not because of WHO or HOW.

                That’s not at all what I’ve been saying. Read the arguments back, and you’ll see that I haven’t been arguing against people being capable of anything rather than the smoothless way that Creation can make some things happen for Named in a way that isn’t possible in real life for plot and convenience sake. Cordelia being cheered for is basic human nature and circumstance as we see it in our world as well, some people joining a Black Queen is too. But 2000/2000 horsemen joining someone that humiliated them instead of 200/2000 or 1821/2000 without any internal discussion or issues on this is a whole different matter.

                If Pallas would’ve bend the knee to Cat with a few guaranteed supporters that would follow her but her having to secure Cat’s assurances of some things like wages or the return of their arnaments or having to do politics and pressure to get a few hundred more in the weeks after her declaration of following Cat, then I wouldn’t have claimed Named powers at work. But we saw a general making a gesture and all soldiers under their command following suit with zero complications despite there definately being reason for this at an individual level to cause such a non-smoothed pattern of transition.

                That’s the issue here I think. You’re not seeing this difference in what I’m arguing and what you’re arguing.

                >It’s not odd. It’s the kind of thing that happens in the real world, too, and we don’t have Names or Roles. This is how history really works. People don’t need supernatural powers to be charismatic and sway others to their cause.

                Because this is not true. This is not combining. People followed others because they were charismatic, yes, I even argued so myself before. The issue lied in the 100% following with no problem when this shouldn’t be the case. When Napoleon broke out of prison, his soldiers rallied back to his banner. This was not however a 100% all at once, as we’re seeing here.

                I bet you you cannot find an instance where ALL of the people that were beaten or humiliated by someone followed them given the right charisma and events. Some can, and the mongols for example strongly relied on this. But not everyone in a neat little bow with just one very storylike event of a general’s gesture, which if you’d read back has been my point all along.

                >Second, note that Cat is an ex-Named. There is definitely something of an exclusive club that you enter once you get a Name, and even if you lose it, you’re still there. You’re already part of the game. You don’t have that specific power-up, but you’ve already accumulated narrative weight. Creation already has its sights on you. It’s not exclusive to Named, yes, but becoming Named is how you get it 99.(9)% of the time.

                This is something I can indeed agree to, however something not argued at the time.

                >Have you ever tried to write a story without plot? This is a serious question. Have you ever tried to come up with a story without plot? Have you ever read one?

                I meant as in, why would you have plot that isn’t tied to Named when you already have Named working by plot given tangible rules and presence? Plot is a necessity of all stories, but in EE’s guide there’s no need for the vital plot existence of other stories because he has Named as his plot to write the story and do the plot-vital things like story progression and pace while trying to make everything non-Named related all the more realistic than in most stories we see.

                >They apply?
                You don’t get a lot of individuality in the army though. You do what your commanding officer says, and your exercise of free will is called ‘insubordination’ or ‘desertion’ and generally gets a death penalty. If your commanding officer personally decides to swear fealty to a foreign monarch and there’s nobody higher in the hierarchy to stop them, well, either the entire army mutinies or they don’t.
                You’re forgetting such fun facts of human psychology as groupthink, hyping each other up in a crowd, liking to live up to expectations, army mentality.

                They apply, except now it’s been established that apparently plot also affects all non-Named apparently. All those comments you read in the extra chapters on how cool the non-Named are, that’s now wrong because apparently they too still know plot to affect their outcome. Any accomplishment by someone who isn’t Named, just as ‘impressive’ as a Hero winning in the end by getting a mid-fight power-up. ‘Impressive’ yet inevitable and therefore hollow.

                I’m not forgetting human psychology and groupthink, those have been part of my arguments up to this point. My argument all along as been that what we’ve seen Cat do and be thrown into have been too Story and plot to fall under those real-life phenomena. Some things that we’ve seen Cat do are too much plot and too little real life events where real talent and action get real life results.

                Like

            4. Part 2

              > In this, Black Queen being not bloody (Red Queen) but exactly the kind of queen that Cat is being right now could just as easily support her Name of Black Queen. The queen that isn’t glorious or noble or forgiving, but the one that does what has to be done and gets the win when mere shining heroes aren’t enough. The Villain redeemed fighting with the heroes, as Cat planned and Pilgrim feared during their first real peace talks and her first admission letter to the Grand Alliance.

              You’re thinking in terms of stories and archetypes existing in the real world. But that’s not relevant. What’s relevant is stories and archetypes existing on Calernia. It’s been fairly thoroughly established by now, I think, that there’s no precedent for what you’re describing and no-one’s matching Cat up with ‘ah yes one of those’ in that way. That story doesn’t exist.

              > Names do seem to be a lot more flexible than we give them credit for. The first Tyrant created Helike and made it persist, Kairos chaotically destroys. They inherently differ in their archetype while claiming the same Name. Name and Role seem to have some synergy, but the Name isn’t purely and solely the archetype rather than a broad descriptor that the individual, the situation and their Role in the story make them to be.

              As has been said by WoG, the Role of a Tyrant is to grasp power by force and rule maintained by said force. Anything they do more specifically that doesn’t interfere with that basic fact, well, doesn’t interfere with what their Role is.

              > Even for one person, the likes of Ranger and Archer can decide whether they fall in the archetype of good or evil to be considered not Neutral but good as the Vagrant Spear showed.

              Yes, ’cause the underlying Roles of their Names aren’t ‘be good’ or ‘be evil’. Unlike for White Knight and the like.

              > Yes, but my point is, Cat hasn’t waved her hand yet since book 3 we’ve been seeing that Callow, her culture and bed of her Name probably, has been changing its mind about her. In Book 1 she was still a Praesi born in Callow, in Book 3 she was the lesser evil necessary for now and established by Praes as a vassal queen, but now Callow doesn’t distrust her like they did before. Even their House of Light rejected the other Houses of Light and declared themselves Insurgent to reject the claim of Archheretic to be Cat.
              >
              > We’ve been hearing rumours of Callow shifting all the more in Cat’s favour and the culture of Callow seeing her more and more as a saviour and true accepted queen, rather than the bloody warmongerer that they still saw her as in Book 3. We’ve been seeing more and more hints that Callow is changing its mind on Cat decisively these last two books. The very requirement that you’re claiming is being fulfilled as seen in EE’s writing.

              Yeah, I agree with this. I don’t think it’s all the way there yet – too many people still think otherwise – but we’re witnessing movement in that direction.

              > “Aye, and the Black Queen killed her dead,” Albert grunted. “She’s a hard one, make no mistake, but these are bad times. Hard is what we need. Even Jehan the Wise hung himself some princes. Seven and one, like in the song.”

              Yep. They’re approving of her AS the bloody ruthless queen that she briefly came close to being but ultimately isn’t. They’re wrong about what she’s like, but this wrong image they approve of.

              > Potato potato, pronounced differently. They saw Cat as the Black Knight finding a Callowan to be a Praesi leader for them while not inherently being a foreigner. They saw her as a Praesi lapdog when she first came in said to be their new queen, leading wasteland soldiers and bringing tower mintage gold.

              What?

              According to Bard, who I don’t think was lying, Callowans were already divided on whether Cat was a Praesi sellout or their new hope as of start of book 2, before the confrontation with the heroes in Summerholm.

              The public opinion began shifting more categorically and universally as news about Marchford spread, as Cat had proven herself actually willing and capable to defend her land and her people.

              That was all they wanted. They are okay with her being bloody more than she herself is. See: the whole debacle about Bonfire at the start of Book 4.

              > Or yours. See how that might be a bit of a troublesome point when you’re considering your interpretation of Roles to be supported by the story when they haven’t been. Remember: I’m the one claiming that Roles cannot give you Name-power threshed armies by providence just because they are your Role, with you claiming that they can by disagreeing and opposing this. But I’ve yet to see supporting proof for this.

              Yeah, quoted above.

              > Now, with the new chapter it’s been confirmed that Cat indeed does not have a Name at this moment, contrary to previous chapters being vaguer in terminology, so as it turns out providence does give 2000 horsemen to unnamed with a neat bow wrapped around in it in the form of no mass desertion and unruliness. But before that chapter, there was no such confirmed event yet.

              You can say that. Or I can say that it was actually stated outright multiple times and you just ignored it / forgot it / handwaved it away because you liked your theory too much.

              And I did say that the 2000 horsemen were actually a completely plausible event regardless of story fiat, so…

              > Calling it narrative weight would’ve helped a bit pre-epilogue, because Roles are an actual thing in the guideverse and you were attaching unfounded traits and abilities to them, though I still lament that the epilogue now confirms that Named aren’t quite as special in bending Creation as they were initially said to be.

              Leaving aside the question of Roles (I think I’ve supported my point quite sufficiently), well… Named were never all that special.

              > “We’re Named,” Archer said. “That makes it different.”
              >
              > But it doesn’t, I thought. We’ve seen it, you and I. That when all there is holding up the choice is a story and the prediction of victory, the story fails. Because if all you do is pretend, go through the motions, then you’ve already lost what could have made it a victory in the first place.

              Thematically, Guide opposes the Great Man Theory. I’ll quote Vivienne to expound on this a little:

              > “She’s not in charge because she’s been chosen, Sahelian,” Vivienne said. “Gods, certainly not because she’s chosen either. Or even because she has power, for that matter.”
              >
              > “Is it the power of love, then?” Akua said, a touch drily.
              >
              > “There’s plenty of people who care about Callow,” Thief said. “And if I learned anything from the Woe, it’s that caring doesn’t fill granaries or run a court. She’s certainly in the right place at the right time with the right amount of power to get things moving, but that’s not really what matters. See, the thing is that she acts. Sometimes those actions are mistake, like going after the fae and leaving you to plot under your rock in Liesse. But, most of the time, she improves things. Just by a little bit. And she draws other people who act with her. You think that’s some unearthly trait, like she’s some force of nature, but that’s Wasteland talk. The Tower’s the centre of the world for you, and the most important person in the world is the one that climbs it.”
              >
              > The other Callowan paused.
              >
              > “Except she’s not,” Vivienne said. “The exemplar of whatever fucked up Praesi virtues you want to sing about, that is. She’s kind of petty, her temper’s foul and if Hakram hadn’t stepped in she’d probably be a drunk. She ogles every pretty face that shows up even if they’re our enemies, and she cannot for the life of her shut the Hells up even when she really needs to. She’s not unique or irreplaceable, but even if you think otherwise that doesn’t really matter – because she’s part of something greater than her. She’s just the rock that started the avalanche, Sahelian, and she did that by doing the most Callowan thing there is: after the invasion is done, you get up and get back to work. Others will come to help you, because a kingdom’s people and not banners.”

              The story is more or less ABOUT how Named aren’t all that special. They sort of are, but they make a difference by being in the right place in the right time, not by being inherently cooler than everyone else.

              > We’ve seen Grem’s PoV saying how it’s different with Named.

              We’ve had Grem’s PoV?

              -goes to check-

              oh yeah, found it! Praise be to CaptainOfMySouls.

              …there’s nothing about Names here. Like I ctrl-f’d “Name” and it’s not in that section. Well, there IS a lot about heroes… okay, I’m going to expound on this in a minute.

              > But now, Named just seem a lot less special and important to me. They’re just a convenient power-up now, not a vital ingredient of Creation using Story at all. Why even have Names in your simulation if that’s the case?

              Alright, so first of all, part of your problem was attributing to Story Power what was actually regular human reactions. See Catherine musing on how people were cheering for Cordelia because of WHAT she was saying, not because of WHO or HOW.

              Second, note that Cat is an ex-Named. There is definitely something of an exclusive club that you enter once you get a Name, and even if you lose it, you’re still there. You’re already part of the game. You don’t have that specific power-up, but you’ve already accumulated narrative weight. Creation already has its sights on you. It’s not exclusive to Named, yes, but becoming Named is how you get it 99.(9)% of the time.

              Third, see my quote from Vivienne and commentary on it above. Are you familiar with the Great Man Theory?

              > If there’s no Name on either side, providence shouldn’t see to the Roles working perfectly beyond the abilities of their natural talents and actions, and neither Pallas nor Cat have Names. Making it odd that Cat managed to do this without a Name

              It’s not odd. It’s the kind of thing that happens in the real world, too, and we don’t have Names or Roles.

              You know, this is a bit of a tangent, but I really dislike it when an urban fantasy type story inserts its own mechanics into history and asserts that, say, Jeanne D’Arc was actually an alien, or pyramids were built by ancient elves or whatever. It feels like it takes away the real rules by which things happened, cheapens how history really works.

              This is how history really works. People don’t need supernatural powers to be charismatic and sway others to their cause.

              > Returning me to the nihillistic conclusion of Why even have Names in your simulation if that’s the case?

              Magic is cool. Next question 😛

              > But in the guideverse, I lament that plot also exists when Story is a real law of Narrative in this universe.

              Have you ever tried to write a story without plot?

              This is a serious question. Have you ever tried to come up with a story without plot? Have you ever read one?

              > Named used to be the explanation, but apparently they’re just an unnecessary addition to Creation’s workings.

              I’m sorry, but narrative was always an explanation for Names, not the other way around.

              > Is it really too much to ask for things like free will, individuality, imperfect information gathering and funding to apply when Named aren’t involved, in a story that has shown us exactly those things when they fit in worldbuilding and Cat’s kingdom management issues?

              They apply?

              You don’t get a lot of individuality in the army though. You do what your commanding officer says, and your exercise of free will is called ‘insubordination’ or ‘desertion’ and generally gets a death penalty. If your commanding officer personally decides to swear fealty to a foreign monarch and there’s nobody higher in the hierarchy to stop them, well, either the entire army mutinies or they don’t.

              You’re forgetting such fun facts of human psychology as groupthink, hyping each other up in a crowd, liking to live up to expectations, army mentality.

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      2. Insanenoodlyguy

        The third time she was dying she sword she’d be mortal to the end. I believe that effectively disqualifies her for any new names. The one time she might have reversed that since (The sword), she very easily turned it down. I’m sure she’ll have opportunities, but at this point, they are there mostly for the story to continue that “Catherine Foundling rejects names”.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Crash

          This makes a lot of sense and it’s mainly why her current storyline of not being Named is interesting. She has been doing this on purpose because she dislikes the interplay of Above and Below. As well as her issues with the Wandering Bard.

          That said, I do still think that if she got offered a Neutral Name she might take it. It’d certainly make it easier to find the bard when necessary

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I don’t think Cat getting a Name would make a meaningful difference in HER being able to find the Bard, only the other way around.

            And she’s fairly solid on the whole ‘I need to be a villain to speak for them and make change from the inside’ thing. That’s part of why she doesn’t fit any existing groove probably: she doesn’t fit villain Names because of her clear actual allegiance, but doesn’t fit hero Names because of her clear chosen allegiance.

            And Neutral Names flee screaming from how strong her current Role already is, just… unlabeled.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Crash

              Probably gonna get something Neutral that implies change in some way, though I can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound dumb as heck. Like “Rebel”, that’d be a turn off and doesn’t quite make sense anymore.

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              1. I’m partial to ‘Warden of the East’ myself 😀

                Though something along the lines of ‘Priestess’ would fit her very well, as of post-Twilight when she chose the staff. She’s certainly leaning into the Role, nudging Kairos’s final moments to be his proper due and all.

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                  1. Cat has never wandered, ever. She was in the exact position she was supposed to be in ever since Amadeus picked her up as a Squire, and she hadn’t traveled before that.

                    So, uh, no, unless she changes her habits radically.

                    Priestess of Night is one that seems intuitive, but clearly something’s in the way of Cat taking it so far.

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                    1. Crash

                      I tought of Wayward more in the sense of her being odd for a priestess, doesn’t fit the usual archetype expect of one, maybe there’s a better word for it? I keep coming back to Monk but that’s literally just because she carries a staff and it makes me think of FFT Monks.

                      Back in book 3-4 it might’ve been Warrior Priestess or some such but she has made it clear that she’d really rather not fight at all so while she is not quite the usual Priest-person, I don’t know what qualifier to add to that.

                      I think the problem is that Night is something she wields but not a “part of her” (yes i realize this is bad wording, bear with me.), it’s a tool more than something that is really important to her, Night belongs to the Drow it’s mostly being lent to Cat instead of being hers in a way that would shape her Name.

                      Liked by 1 person

                  2. Catherine has actually been acting out the Priestess role rather faithfully, which interests me. It seems to be a groove she’s genuinely fond of and in tune with. Making up new rules and scripture for her goddesses, then pleading her case according to those? Switching to referring to Sisters in her rhetorical flourishes? Carrying a staff and playing the role of a spiritual leader, inspiring people more than anything?

                    Most interestingly, seeing to it that people who are dying get their just due. That moment when she told Kairos to get on his feet had absolutely no external motivation. It changed nothing, but Cat put it as “it’s what you’re owed”, and she took it upon herself to see to it that what is owed is given. That’s a priestess’s role – a priestess of death, ruin and blood. Death Domain is Lawful Neutral.

                    One reason I can think of for her not having a Name for it yet is that the exact Role is still in flux. She’s acting nothing like what Sisters set the groove of Priestess of Night to be – it’s possible that Name is locked altogether as long as they exist, because that Name meant being in charge of the Night, and it’s their thing exclusively. There doesn’t seem to be much precedent for dark gods having Lawful Neutral cults/followers/rules on Calernia. I’m recognizing the archetype but I’m recognizing it from different settings entirely. Even newly minted Names have to fit a pre-existing cultural impetus – Cat might cut the groove for the next person like her to get a Name out of it, but actually never have one herself.

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                  3. BTW, a tool lent can shape the Name as much as anything. Squire was based on the position that Amadeus lent her, a Chancellor is appointed by a Dread Emp. Priests and Priestesses all over Calernia and presumably Creation get Names out of it, despite the Choirs being capable of taking Light away from someone. I’d argue Light and Night are the same in this way, with the only categorical difference being that Light is governed by Above and Heavens which is a messy automated/anarchic system, while Night is governed by the Sisters personally in a much more directed way.

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        2. > The third time she was dying she sword she’d be mortal to the end. I believe that effectively disqualifies her for any new names.

          “Mortal” has many gradations in guideverse, and I think in that situation Catherine was referring to demigodhood, not Names. Although it’d give some weight to refusing Names, too, that’s not where the primary thrust goes.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Insanenoodlyguy

            I agree and I could have phrased it better, but she did make it part of her story with that. She now has a hard “I want to be detached from outside influences inside my head as much as possible. Names open me up to those, I don’t want one.” It could have been shaped in other directions, possibly even made into an anti-devine aspect/trend on a Name if she did take one, but I think she’s since crystalized it into a form that ensures that she won’t be taking any names offered (though names will be offered.)

            Liked by 2 people

      3. KageLupus

        I don’t think that Cat is going to get a new Name any time soon, and possibly never. Partly because she doesn’t need one (High Priestess of Sve Noc is a replacement, power-wise), but also because it doesn’t really make sense.

        Names are what you get when you fall into a particular role that has been established. The storied grooves in reality. Cat has spent the last couple of books breaking new ground entirely, so she doesn’t have an established groove to slip into.

        She could have become the Black Queen, but that story was broken and I don’t think you get a second chance. Just like how Cordelia was offered Warden of the West but turned it down, Cat lost her shot at Black Queen as a Name. Both of them are still doing the same things that created the story that would have given them the Name, but that critical pivot moment came and went and cannot come again.

        For Cat to get a Name now she would have to have another narrative buildup that culminates in pivot moment of suitable weight. Except now the story would have to include her already being the Black Queen as a title, as well as High Priestess for a mythical race no one understands. I think that it all adds up to being to strange of a story to lead to a Name.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. I can see Cat falling into the High Priestess (or something else Priestess) archetype neatly enough to qualify for a Name at some point.

          Keep in mind that everyone is actually different and everyone is technically doing something no-one had ever done before. Archer’s breaking new ground right there at Cat’s side, but it doesn’t stop her from being, well, an Archer.

          But yes, the roles of Black Queen and High Priestess, given that Black Queen is already tied to a specific groove she’s been avoiding falling into, would likely interfere with her getting any other Name. I’m not sure the sword would have given her a Name either, unless it managed to qualify her for some kind of Warrior Queen Name that would supplant Black Queen as her new nickname. IMHO unlikely tho.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Oshi

      That is Malicia in the best. She had time so she wrapped a dozen balls of death and set them up on the path to her. That way by the time they get to the tower there is nothing but taters for her to wipe out.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. erebus42

    Oh Kairos you beautiful little bastard. One last spanner in the works for old times sake. And really if he would have one last request for Helike “Do as you will” would be it. Open up the Lion’s cage and see what it does.

    Liked by 14 people

    1. Decius

      Critically, “Do as you will” is an ORDER.

      All of their previous Lawful traits and training weren’t undone- they were fully subverted towards “Do as you will”.

      “I don’t want to” is now a completely acceptable reason to shirk what used to be a duty, and wanting to do something makes it mandatory. What used to be Chaotic treason is now fully expected to happen.

      And it will be a glorious flame. Forget lighting the rushlight at both ends, this is grinding the rushlight into a powder and dusting it over open flames.

      Liked by 9 people

      1. I don’t think it’ll be applying to the whole of Helike, unless Basilia sets out on a quest to revolutionize the whole damn place and succeeds at it.

        And something tells me Basilia was already that kind of little shit, judging from how she supported Kairos in the first place…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jworks

    Two months ago I would have absolutely loved to see Helike burn, now it’s one of my favorite factions. Tied for second favorite with the Kingfisher Prince and whatever lands he represents.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. LarsBlitzer

    Halfway through the whole internal monologue I was wondering when the 4th dimensional chess would stop and Catherine would be able to chop through this Gordian Knot, if I may be permitted to mix metaphors. Her realisation at the end that she can do NOTHING that Malicia hasn’t accounted and planned for was rather disheartening, especially when Akua’s cover was blown. She’d fallen into the trap quite neatly. It was only when she stopped playing the part of the cornered villain that I felt any hope. And now the chaff of her alliance has cut itself away and left an elite force of mounted archers and raiders sworn to her personally. In between the Gallowsborn, the Order of the Broken Bells, an entire race of Elven Murderhobos at her command because she’s the head Priestess of their Goddesses, and her Legionnaries she’s got a LOT of power at her command, more than when she was a Fae Queen. Interesting.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. RoflCat

      Even better yet, those corrupted bastards in the League will have to deal with the remaining Helikean army, as a one last “if I maybe so rude, fuck you all for trying to ruin my bestest friend Catherine’s legend” from Kairos, so they’re unlikely to meddle any time soon.

      Liked by 12 people

    2. Decius

      Cat lost to Empress, quite badly. But Tyrant bailed her out from beyond the grave.

      A long time ago, Cat lost to Heiress, and Black had to bail her out.

      Cat loses diplomacy battles to Wastelanders. Back when she had the chance to play Mean Girls for relatively low stakes, she was doing pit fights.

      Liked by 10 people

      1. Catherine might lose tactically, but she wins strategically. Against Heiress, in the end, she had the entire country allied with her. And right now, she might be losing the battle for the hearts and minds of these specific people, but she’s already won the war for approximately everyone else’s. People coming to bail her out IS her way of winning the game.

        Liked by 11 people

      2. Did she lose though? This seems more like she could’ve won whenever she wanted and considering the League’s issue Procer might’ve backed her in it. Granted, doing so would’ve been a big issue of Cordelia once again being shoved further into the Tyrant story noose, but it’s not like the League hasn’t been burning too many bridges to pull this off and see everyone condemning Cat instead of them for their blunders.

        Cat is weary because they still get to throw pinpricks at her (both literally and figuratively) that are but a nuisance and a first-strike issue, but ones that may accumulate and be a noose around her neck in the future or carve a deeper groove to force her ways. That they keep trying to use her attempts to unify to see her having to bail them out or endulge them. With the inevitable problem of the one giving bread to those that will not work for it because of this samaritan eventually starving themselves because the selfish beggars keep coming and demanding more loudly.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Silverking

    ….Gosh, do the Gods Below want Cat to take up a Name or what? Her monologue about how crushing the schemes of petty short-sighted bastards so we can get back to, you know, saving all their ungrateful asses is practically word-for-word the temptation Cordelia recieved for the Warden of the West. I’m pretty sure that the main trigger for a Name is a moment where they look at their killed sister or hypocritical judges or oppressed species or prophecies of death or petty usurpers and saying “What we’re doing does not work, and I’m not going to take it anymore”. However, in Cat’s case, as tempting as it is to just screw diplomacy and force people to do what she wants, she knows from experience that it will win the battle and lose the war. She’s going to have to be willing to lose the cruel game everyone’s been playing if she ever wants to play an better one with the Liesse Accords,

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Hmmm.

      I think the temptation is largely internal, and comes from a person’s own logic, in both cases. You’re right that Below might juuust be giving it a tiny nudge when it’s this close, tho :3

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Insanenoodlyguy

        the way I think of it, the thought and the intent are yours, at least as far as villiany is concerned. But the words that are put to those feelings are being helpfully provided.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. caoimhinh

      It’s already weird that Catherine doesn’t have a Name.
      She is too relevant to the stories of Calernia on so many levels that the Narrative Weight that she has pretty much decides the destiny of the continent.

      She even gets Patterns of Three against Heroes (as shown in her confrontation with Pilgrim) and still has the connection with the Woe (as shown with Hakram’s Adjutant Name still being able to feel Catherine and how Masego gets empowered by Cat presence and vice-versa).
      It’s way past time she got a new Name, and yeah Creation and Providence seem inclined to get her near pivots and great events that force her to make significant choices.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Assuming Black Queen not to be a Name she has had for a while, that is. See my other comment in this chapter for further explanation. Because Black Queen is a new Name, it might be very unnoticable because Cat is defining it and it’s fitted to her personality. With the Duchess of Moonless Nights transition around the same time not making the change obvious, there’s no reason to notice Cat’s change in-universe. And remember, Bard can still see and appear before her, suggesting Cat really does have a Name.

        More likely, whomever the next Black Queen will be will notice her behaviour changed more to be alike Cat’s, but Cat is the OG BQ that defines her role.

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        1. The thing is, having a Name has in-world effects that Cat would definitely notice. She has explicitly refused Name status over and over. Iindeed, I suspect that for some time now, she’s been basically grifting off all the offering-gifts (plot and power both) that Below (and occasionally Above) are throwing at her to tempt her into accepting a name.

          But certainly, in her wake she will leave a Name of Black Queen for the next person to follow in her footsteps.

          Liked by 5 people

          1. In-world effects, like coincidentally entering the Everdark when the dwarves are invading, coincidentally coming out when Callow can reallllly use her help pulling things back together, being approachable through teleportation by Bard, being part of a Band of Five, Hakram’s Name still serving her intuitively, as shown again this chapter still having the definately Name-caused thresher ability of gaining the best loyal allies, being Kairos’s fav enemy, etc. etc. There are so many things whose providence are a bit too tightly spun for Cat to be a non-Named. Making the claim that she doesn’t have a Name is as unfounded as saying she has one.

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            1. Providence and narrative features apply to non-Named just as much as they do Named. If it’s providence that Cat met the Rat Company at the exact most convenient time to win them over, didn’t Rat Company get affected by providence themselves as the other half of that equation? Stories affect all participants, Named are only special in how easily they are able to GENERATE stories around themselves. And Cat doesn’t need that boost, considering all her stories are ALREADY going full steam.

              So providence isn’t Named-specific. What is is stuff like reduced fatigue, no longer having periods, sharper reflexes, ability to purge poison,

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Jup, which applies to the stuff that also involves and benefits Names. We’ve already seen during Amadeus vs Iron Prince that the Procerians having just a few Named on their side to give those providence advantages really bothered Marshal One-Eye, f.e. how a reckless cavalry charge over loose stones went off without a hitch where it should’ve been a matter of a single horse tripping and getting half the charge killed by their own weight and momentum. I’m not contesting that non-Named aren’t influenced by providence.

                I am however saying that Cat has been getting providence effects that a regular Non-Named wouldn’t get, which I started saying this chapter when we so clearly saw Cat’s thresher abilities. One doesn’t get 2000 horsemen showing their loyalty like this with just a Role and some side-providence. This is much more likely a Name at work. Callow remaining in her control isn’t Name-gained, the drow listen to her because of Sve Noc need not be Name-gained, the Legions in Exile accepting her as a semi-leader need not be Name-gained. All those are by act and virtue thereof. But what we’ve seen today, that’s much clearer a Name rather than act pulling the final strings that prevent at least half of those 2000 humiliated men not sharing the general’s masocism and rebelling with the general knowing this and needing a lot more time to arrange this merger.

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                1. > I am however saying that Cat has been getting providence effects that a regular Non-Named wouldn’t get

                  Here’s the thing: while regular people who aren’t very aware of how Names work, like Abigail, assume Cat is Named. Not a single actual Named has ever questioned Catherine being non-Named while having all of that shit still applying to her. Not Tariq, not Hanno, not Laurence, no-one at any point went ‘wait, she has to have a Name, this doesn’t make sense’.

                  So, clearly it makes sense in-universe for her to get those effects while being non-Named?

                  Liked by 1 person

            2. The thing is, if she had a Name, she’d be able to feel it directly — she certainly did when she was Squire. Instead, she’d breaking new ground as someone who’s manipulating fate and Providence (and being manipulated by them in turn) without the Name that everyone thought was integral to that.

              Basically she’s pulling back a curtain and showing that Names aren’t as necessary as everyone thinks — or at least (like Heirophant with sorcery), she’s learned to directly handle the powers that most people deal with indirectly.

              Liked by 4 people

              1. I don’t think so?

                I don’t think Cat’s doing anything particularly groundbreaking here, she’s just an edge case. Nobody has been actually surprised so far about her not having a Name while doing all the shit she does. It seems to be a universal understanding that narrative trickery is a function of a Role, not a Name, and as long as you have one of those, you just need a Name to be slightly less squishy. Or priestess powers, that works too.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. She’d feel it. Unless there’s something out there both creating a storm of power that lays thick in her veins and being able to leech power from that Name by their basic talents, like say a twin crow goddess. A new much more subtle Name weakened further by Sve Noc taking power from it (maybe in part why Cat doesn’t need to pay up front for her bargains) after coming fresh out of being a construct of fey magic, I can see a Name’s thrum of power being a lot less noticeable that way.

                Especially when Cat expects to be weaker and weary and limping and such, which Names as expositioned in Book 1 and 2 already stated would see to these things remaining. Thief could heal third degree burns in no time, but when the wounds stick mentally they scar physically. If Cat believes her weaknesses to return and stay, and she has put some Story significance behind them and her mortality regained, then they would be there.

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                1. That’s a conspiracy theory that has literally 0 support. Again, absolutely nobody in-universe thinks there’s anything wrong with the picture of ‘Catherine Foundling doesn’t have a Name but has a Role strong enough to be functionally a Named in all ways except the literal’.

                  Oh, and crows don’t have a single incentive to do something like this to Catheirne, to point out the main weak point.

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                  1. Remember the Pilgrim’s words: Just because we agree doesn’t mean I now bend to your will and agree with you in everything, Black Queen. (Not at all exactly what he said exactly, but it’s the gist of the words.) EE doesn’t make someone completely on your side just because they’re on your side in a way that most lazier story-writing makes them a permanent complete friend no questions asked.

                    I have no reason to assume that Sve Noc is as unconditionally friendly, not scheming and not taking concessions and arguing for more power as most people in the chat make her out to be. We assume that Cat gets a lot of power and things from the sisters for free, but we don’t know yet where the line lies, how much Cat balances the line in this and how much Sve Noc schemes in her own favour. Remember, EE is a great writer not at all lazy enough to fall for this lazy kind of ‘Once a friend, always a friend giving you whatever you want.’ trouble that too many writers fall into.

                    Sve Noc might have an incentive we don’t know of yet, even if it’s not planned all along and/or in their nature.

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                2. The thing about Sve Noc is that we know a sufficient amount of their context and incentives to understand what they want and how they plan on getting it. We know their capabilities and know their understanding of their capabilities.

                  For them to be secretly betraying Cat behind her back is… not, like, literally impossible. But WHY. There’s absolutely no evidence or foreshadowing in this direction, and absence of strongly expected evidence is evidence of absence. I’d argue evidence of Sve Noc not being straight with Cat would be strongly expected, in context. Given it’s now the end of Book 5, out of 6 planned total, yeah?

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        2. Crash

          Hierophant is a new Name. Good luck to Masego trying to hide that.

          You’re also implying that Cat hasn’t been thinking about having a Name this whole time. Like she just… forgets to take it into account in her own internal monologue for… reasons, I guess? All while sometimes considering the difference in her physical prowess compared to her time as the Squire and as Duchess of Moonless Nights (She has literally used wording like “When I had been Named”, I’m pretty sure. Which, you know, would imply that Black Queen is weaker than the transitional name of Squire. No Aspects either which is very, very odd.

          I’m not saying Cat isn’t an unreliable narrator. She often is. But hiding her Name by legitimately not thinking about it ever for what? 2 Books now? (What’s your timeline on the Cat is already the Black Queen thing?) That’s just bad writing. Erratic is better than that man.

          Now, is it possible Cat might still become the Black Queen? Certainly, but it becomes more unlikely everyday. This entire chapter is an ode to how much Cat’s ways have changed and to insist on her losing herself to the whole rule through fear and violence is to do a disservice to her character evolution in this Book and hell, during the series as a whole.

          If she does, indeed, become the Black Queen at some point it’s going to be a very different Name to the one first offered to her in the aftermath of the Doom of Liesse.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Hierophant is supported by his Name in what he already does, which the Name only supports. And Cat is already supported by her Name as Black Queen, which people keep calling her including the ones like Pilgrim who’d know the difference between a Name and a title.

            I don’t recall her ever saying ‘Back when I had a Name.’, and her limp isn’t at all something that would be resolved by her having a Name. Names cannot fix every wound, especially if the wound is supposed or Story-supported to stick. Not only does she assign value to it to ensure it stays if she’d have a Name, it’s something from before gaining her Name which is all the more likely to stay. When she was the Duchess it was gone because she was literally just a construct of Winter, but the Duchess was an odd Name because it’s not quite a mortal Name rather than a Fey Name.

            And her power, if the new Name isn’t meant for direct combat and brawn as Squire was, then she wouldn’t get a great power-up. Augur can’t lift up grown men just because she has a Name, Pilgrim may be a bit more spry than he ought to be but he too doesn’t have super-strength or speed, Kairos never performed super-human physical activity, etc. If the Black Queen isn’t a warrior Name, then it’s not going to be able to jump logs and kill four men at once without magic like Squire could.

            The thing is, you’re assuming that I’m talking about Cat being an unreliable narrator for two books just because you assume that she hasn’t been thinking in terms of her being Named. Yet when we look back, she has been thinking in terms of Stories and Patterns of Three and the likes a lot. And before, did she really think of herself as her Name that often rather than her actions in the Story? There’s no reason to assume that she’s not a Name just because EE hasn’t said “Yes, I the Black Queen who is Named, shall…”. Don’t accuse me of calling EE a crappy writer when you’re assuming that he doesn’t know subtility to not be that blatant about it. And with the way this story is, it’s quite likely that at least for the protagonist EE wants to stray away from the original system with Aspects that can conveniently appear to save the day.

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            1. Crash

              Here are some quotes from a couple different chapters:

              b1 c12 Squire
              […] Learning aspect of my Name […]

              b2 c13
              […] not the way I’d been before becoming the Squire […]

              b1 c14 Villain
              I still couldn’t feel my Name […]

              b1 c27 Callow’s Plan
              My Name was a recalcitrant little brat […]

              b2 c9 Rematch
              I smiled a devil’s smile and my Name howled, raging at the Struggle ahead of me.

              b2 c16 Trust
              I heard him long before I saw him, even with my Name vision

              b2 c17 Aplomb
              […]claiming my Name[…]
              […]in my short tenure as Squire[…]

              b2 c20 Ashes
              My Name bared its fangs in approval.

              b2 c21 Marchford
              […] even to my Name-sight […]

              b2 c45 Corpses
              I reached for my Name […]
              That I was still a Squire[…]

              So, fun story. I’ve been re-reading so I knew for a fact that Cat did speak/make reference to her Name a lot. I know you made a joke about cat not reffering to everything as “Yes, as a Named…” but uh, Cat had a lot of trouble not mentioning she was, indeed, Named or otherwise referring to her Name instincts and general use power like the eyesight and such, mate. Do you know what she does now? Use the Night to make up for that, telling us that that is what she is doing, and mention it every other chapter just like she did her Name before.

              Example:

              b5 c24 Theft
              “She wasn’t wrong. We were looking at the same thing, I thought, but my sight was better than hers. A sliver of Night had seen to that. ”

              As a side note, this habit is very interesting because you can use it to track how comfortable she is in making use of her abilities and also is a fun little character trair to keep track of, like for instance how she used to swear to the Heavens a lot in the first book and then gradually started to use Hells instead and has now shifted to calling on the Sisters. Very neat stuff.

              I would like to refer you to Liliet’s very nice mention of Cat remind us that her monthlies have come back and that her hair is now growing again, while on campaign in the Ever Dark both things at odds with being Named.

              To be quite clear, I never said EE was a bad writer, if anything I used the fact that I believe him to be a good writer to justify my tought proccess. Catherine likes to give us an insight on what she is doing and how she is achieving it, it’s a consistent character trait. The is no “subtetly” in hiding your POV character’s toughts from your readers, especially if that runs directly counter to a well established character trait, that is just a lazy way to create mistery and EE has demonstraded he doesn’t need that crutch.

              Liked by 4 people

              1. A lot of references from Books 1 and 2, which still had a vastly different writing style (I can still recall how often someone’s skintone was referenced as a way of referring to the person in those…) and where things were still a lot more about the Named. Cat still heavily relied on her Name back then, as she has recently internally monologued to no longer do for smart reasons, and she used her powers a lot more directly. Since then, she has began to rely on things like her reputation instead which is just an extention of what a Name can do, as well as use powers and means that aren’t her own Name.

                Since then, EE shifted away from using Aspects for Cat (while her Aspects like Take are still indirectly there) probably more because he doesn’t want to rely and be bound to such Words changing the Story too easily, combined with an Aspect after one or two uses losing its weight and there only be so many new Aspects that Cat could gain. Since then, EE crafted a world and a position for Cat that doesn’t need raw power and her proving herself physically to get ahead in life, instead making a rich political and warfare-based story that doesn’t necessarily need Cat to be an active Name on the frontlines.

                As such, from the way I see it EE no longer has to rely Cat to have her Name thrum in her head or howl in the back of her mind to do direct impossible etc., both because there’s now Night indeed and because her ways are now more subtle than ‘Rend! Jump, pivot, parry, slash in one second while wearing plate! Rise!’

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                1. Crash

                  >> Since then, she has began to rely on things like her reputation instead which is just an extention of what a Name can do, as well as use powers and means that aren’t her own Name.

                  Okay, cool. Why does she need a Name if she doesn’t want to make use of it at all?

                  >> A lot of references from Books 1 and 2, which still had a vastly different writing style

                  Yeah, that’s the bit I’m re-reading so I knew off the top of my head I could very easily find the exact wording I needed to quote for this. While the writing style has changed this was a demonstration of a recurring habit of Cat’s: to tell the reader exactly how she is achieving something and what she is using to do so. Her Name, her reputation, Night, the weird senses that being a Fae construct gave her; she always tells us what she is relying on to achieve her current objective.

                  >>Since then, EE shifted away from using Aspects for Cat

                  Yeah, because she lost her Name. She doesn’t have those Aspects anymore. The only reason she kept some remnants of it is because her nature as Duchess of Moonlight got mixed in with her Name of Squire and so when she became the sole fae of Winter so too did it mix with that. Finally, when she gave Winter to the new Night those traces went together with it so they’re there, but they’re not nearly as simple to use as they once were.

                  >> As such, from the way I see it EE no longer has to rely Cat to have her Name thrum in her head or howl in the back of her mind to do direct impossible etc., both because there’s now Night indeed and because her ways are now more subtle than ‘Rend! Jump, pivot, parry, slash in one second while wearing plate! Rise!’

                  This is the bit that truly gets to me. By your logic then she doesn’t need a Name at all so why would she have one? If no words of power are of use to her, she hasn’t mentioned any gained insight or political acumen from a Name and she didn’t get any physical benefit at all, what the heck is a Name doing for her? Because if it’s a subtle one and more directed towards politics then she’d get some Aspect that helped her with social situations. Maybe something like Kairo’s Wish that gave him an advantage in knowing what people want while negotiating; or the lost aspect of Seek to learn the information she needs; Anaxares’ own Receive is a great diplomatic tool. Why did she not get any of these or even something else? Not all Aspects are battle related, you seem to forget. Even Hanno’s Recall which has battle use, allows him to learn from past heroes and even pick up language knowledge.

                  Having the Story weight of a Named without any of the changes and Aspects that come with it is calling having a Role. All Names have a Role but not all people with a Role have a Name. Cordelia Hasenbach has a very big Role in the story of the Principate and the fight against the Dead King and as such, at a pivotal moment was offered a Name which she didn’t take; did she suddenly stop being relevant politically and to the greater story of Calernia? No, because while she has no Name her Role is still there. The same goes to Cat, she has been offered Names and didn’t take them but that didn’t suddenly destroy the Role she has. So she remains relevant and, at another pivotal moment, might again be offered a Name but currently all she has is that Role she plays.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. >Okay, cool. Why does she need a Name if she doesn’t want to make use of it at all?

                    Because a Name and what Squire got aren’t synanymous. Getting 2000 horsemen might be a passive effect use of her Name, same as heightened political senses and persuasive abilities. Not all Named are uber-strong with magic and stuff.

                    >Yeah, because she lost her Name. She doesn’t have those Aspects anymore.

                    I meant more as in the meta-aspect of convenient ‘Say a word, turn the tides’ that might be the kind of awesome yet lesser writing that EE no longer has to resort to because their world and writing is now so much more refined and carefully crafted. Others still do it, but the protagonist doing it when it can be done with more weight and subtility might be more preferred by EE. Spitballing on their motivation here, yes I know I cannot speak for them. But when I look at the development through the books I can see that being the case.

                    >By your logic then she doesn’t need a Name at all so why would she have one?

                    Mostly because of the writer cornerning themselves. If this wasn’t A Practical Guide to Evil, then quite a lot of things she does are indeed possible without a Name. But because Names and this nigh-omnipotent force called Creation or Providence or Named exists then her rather than another Named or these forces preventing a non-Named doing it becomes more difficult to believe.

                    Or it might be that she is a different sub-section of Named. We’ve seen with the Fey that Named are definately not all obligated to follow the exact same pattern and format, and even the Aspect Named mortals follow different systems like Heroes and Villains getting different boons and following different rules of coming to be. Dragons were kinda Named as a species with a domain in their stomach rather than an Aspect, the Drow could be an odd Named alternative, Saint was Named but transitioned into something not quite Named yet still Named by turning an Aspect into a Domain and becoming that Domain herself.

                    Named as a whole are not one hard system, rather than that the mortals most commonly see the three Aspects Named arise amongst their weak and lesser folk. Cat allying to a god ascending certainly doesn’t fit the same category as ‘Some Wastelander Noble wins a thing, or Procerean peasant with a sob story’ to require this lowest bar Name bestowal.

                    (Plus, EE has a lot more tools in his bag now. Maybe Cat has Aspects-to-be, but it will take a book and a half before she actually reaches a point where she has to have one surface because all other options ran out. No need to get them in quick succession like when she was Squire.)

                    On Names vs Roles, this depends on far a Role would go. Cordelia still has a Role because she has no Name but a position that makes her Role indeed inexchangeable. She is the ruler of Procer, which would fit certain grooves while not requiring a Name. However, Names are main cast while Roles are supporting characters. Cat has been too much a main character by act and front line action taking rather than Role not delegated by Creation and the Name to a supporting and side character, to be a Role rather than a Name. There are Named in her employ, if she were just a Role then the Named ought to have gone through Masego and Hakram and Archer with Cat now aiding them. Or at least, providence would’ve tried to do this.

                    Mario and Bowser are Named while Peach is a Role of the damsel in distress, but the moment that Peach gets an actual active role then she would become a Named. Zelda was merely a Role to bestow a purpose/motivation, some boons and certain acts that a ruler has to do because a green-capped knight couldn’t, but once she became that desert nomad she came into a Name and actively Story-affecting role rather than a Role. (Yes, Role is a bit of an awkward way to refer to it indeed.)

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            2. Crash

              So sorry for the double post, forgot to add it to the first one:

              “Hierophant is supported by his Name in what he already does, which the Name only supports.”

              I’d like to know how this is any different to what Names do in general? I don’t recall who said this in the story nor the exact working but something along the lines of Name’s being the result of people wanting/believing in doing a certain thing and Creation making it so that they can achieve that using the Roles that exist in the story and, if necessary, creating a new one(which in turn is supposed to be weaker due to the lack of repetition.)

              For instance, Vivienne wanted to steal things, be the best thief and achieve her goal of stealing enough to pay the price on her mother’s death. So she became the Thief. Hanno wanted to right the wrongs and injustice he perceived to be happening, so he became the White Knight under the Choir of Judgement.

              And as far as Black influencing Cat’s spot as a Squire he himself said that it was only because of the Name of Squire being associated to the Knight Names.

              Liked by 4 people

              1. Black influencing Squire seems very obvious. A Name has a set of narrative features, the more of them you have the better you fit it. One of those features for a Squire is ‘tutored by a Knight Named’, much like how I expect it’s much easier to get the Name Apprentice for someone who’s apprenticed to a mage Name or uhhh how it’s easier to get the Name Archer for someone who owns a bow, y’know? That it’s not a requirement is more interesting and distinct commentary on how these Names work than the fact it’s related lmao

                Liked by 2 people

            3. > And Cat is already supported by her Name as Black Queen, which people keep calling her including the ones like Pilgrim who’d know the difference between a Name and a title.

              Why do you think Pilgrim wouldn’t be calling her by a title?

              Where does he ever say or imply it’s a Name?

              > I don’t recall her ever saying ‘Back when I had a Name.’

              > It was rather pitiful that between three former Named not a single one of us could properly hold a tune but aside from that I claimed no regrets.
              Book 5, Chapter 83 “A Mould Unbroken”

              > but the Duchess was an odd Name because it’s not quite a mortal Name rather than a Fey Name.
              It’s not a Name, it’s a fae title, a completely different category of thing. Catherine had both of those at the same time in Book 3.

              > And her power, if the new Name isn’t meant for direct combat and brawn as Squire was, then she wouldn’t get a great power-up. Augur can’t lift up grown men just because she has a Name, Pilgrim may be a bit more spry than he ought to be but he too doesn’t have super-strength or speed, Kairos never performed super-human physical activity, etc. If the Black Queen isn’t a warrior Name, then it’s not going to be able to jump logs and kill four men at once without magic like Squire could.

              She would still get reduced fatigue and no more periods, though. And Aspects. And, y’know, the general pool of power for Name tricks that all Named get. Or is your theory that her Name is so weak she cannot even purge poison?

              > Yet when we look back, she has been thinking in terms of Stories and Patterns of Three and the likes a lot.

              So what? Narrative is determined by Roles, not Names.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Pilgrim has been calling Cordelia by her name rather than a Name that isn’t her Name, but he often refers to Cat as Black Queen. In the way that one would refer to a Villain Named.

                She is a former Named, she did lose Squire. And it rolls off the tongue better than saying two and one who’s.

                >She would still get reduced fatigue and no more periods, though. And Aspects. And, y’know, the general pool of power for Name tricks that all Named get. Or is your theory that her Name is so weak she cannot even purge poison?

                Cat also assumed herself to be more mortal, until she killed Saint while barely to not aging. She assumed it to be Sve Noc. Cat almost got poisoned, and reasoned what would happen to prevent her death if she had been assuming no poison resistance. But we’ve never seen her get poisoned thus far.

                She would have reduced fatigue as Squire, but Pilgrim post-revival was extremely fatigued for a long period of time despite him having his full Name minus (still unconfirmed) his third Aspect gone. Enhanced Stamina is likely more something for the travelling and fighting Names, not necessarily the Leader Names and those that don’t require quick moving and footing.

                For the period thing, I can’t seem to find back whether that was a Squire or a Fey thing. Looking for the word period (and I cntr+F’d a lot of chapters and looked through all the results that the search option of this site gave me), I didn’t find back where she said it. I remember it too, but not the where and how. But if it’s a fey thing, then periods aren’t a necessity of Named at all. Named can get children, as Captain has shown, and Named can retain weaknesses and wounds and sicknesses that fit their appearance and personality as Kairos has shown. Even if they don’t want it, as Thief has shown with retaining wounds because they mentally scarred her as well. Periods are likely something that if the Named doesn’t see a reason for them or doesn’t want them because they inconvenience her and the Story, then they’re gone. But if she wants to feel mortal and normal like Cat now wants with her limp etc., then they could resurface upon request.

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                1. >Pilgrim has been calling Cordelia by her name rather than a Name that isn’t her Name, but he often refers to Cat as Black Queen. In the way that one would refer to a Villain Named.

                  People refer to other people differently depending on their relationship. And depending on the other person’s personality. And…

                  Yeah, this isn’t evidence of anything other than them being two different people.

                  > She is a former Named, she did lose Squire. And it rolls off the tongue better than saying two and one who’s.

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                2. Ooops, accidentally hit post.

                  > She is a former Named, she did lose Squire. And it rolls off the tongue better than saying two and one who’s.

                  This is not how words work. “Former” means ‘no longer one of those’, where ‘those’ in this context is ‘Named’. She is no longer a Named. Amadeus wasn’t a ‘former Named’ during his tenure as Black Knight even though he’d once been a Squire and then no longer was.

                  And she could have easily picked some other descriptor to refer to the three of them is ‘former Named’ was inaccurate.

                  > Cat also assumed herself to be more mortal, until she killed Saint while barely to not aging. She assumed it to be Sve Noc.

                  Yeah, cause Names do it differently. She points it out explicitly in her narration, that whatever is going on with her is a different mechanism that feels differentl from the inside, as I quoted elsewhere.

                  Liked by 1 person

        3. There are specific effects that Names have. Catherine had noticed her reflexes and senses changing even when she’d first been a claimant to Squire, a fairly weak Name. She’s long familiar with universal Name tricks like purging poison and would know if she has access to those. She has specifically remarked on funny things like non-decreased fatigue and having periods again. And that’s before we consider the issue that her current Name would likely be a villain one, with the fun side effect of no aging (she had specifically mused on how that had felt when she had a Name vs now).

          And when we talk about the Name of Black Queen specifically, CAT KNOWS WHERE THAT ONE IS AND WHAT IT DOES AND REFERS TO. There was a whole thing about it at the end of Book 3. As long as Cat doesn’t go off the deep end and start terrorizing the continent to bend it to her desires, she is nowhere near that.

          What Cat DOES have is a Role. Narrative weight. It can be attracted by a Name, or it can be attracted by other factors (like being the pivot of continental politics). A Name is attracted by a falling into a groove, a character archetype from a story. Which Cat currently fits none of cleanly enough to get a Name.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. See my answer to the other guy; if the Name isn’t meant to be faster and stronger then it doesn’t have to be so. Periods was a thing she lost while being a Fey construct rather than a Named, I think? She is more resistant to aging and poison, as we’ve seen. And with Sve Noc’s presence, being Named might be a lot less noticeable if they don’t want it to be noticed and with the transition from Fey Duchess to what she is now.

            And as the Black Queen is a new Name, it’s hardly as defined as an already existing one. Which too wouldn’t be that narrow, f.e. Kairos being chaotic evil incarnate while the first Tyrant was more likely Lawful Evil creating rather than destroying and riding dying horses into their swan song. Just because the Black Queen was a creator of terror the first time around, doesn’t mean it will be so every time in every situation. Big difference between pre-conquest end of the war at Liesse and the situation after Cat returned from the Everdark.

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            1. > Periods was a thing she lost while being a Fey construct rather than a Named, I think?

              > Being Named got me out of many of the little ugly details of life – didn’t get sick anymore, tired much slower and I hadn’t had my monthlies in about two years – but it did nothing for sweat.
              Book 3 Chapter 10 “Entrance”

              > She is more resistant to aging and poison, as we’ve seen.

              Villains aren’t “resistant” to aging, they just don’t age.

              > “The years will kill me, one of these days,” I said. “If nothing else gets around to it first.”
              >
              > “Ah,” the Dead King smiled. “But how many years would it take?”
              >
              > I didn’t answer that, for the truth was that I wasn’t sure. My body now was no stronger than it’d been before I came into my Name, not without Night being woven into it anyway. Pain and exhaustion and so many things that’d felt… distant while I was Sovereign of Moonless Nights had been returned to me in full, but I had not taken sick since being proclaimed First Under the Night. As for age, though? It hadn’t been long enough for me to be sure of whether or not my aging had resumed in earnest. It didn’t feel the same way as it had under my Name, when I’d still grown but there had been something contrived about it – like I was matching a vision, not following nature’s writ. And it was absolutely nothing like it’d been after Second Liesse, where I had been frozen and fixed unto myself. My blood was still red, and had not become gray nor dark, so it might be that I did not share the stretched lifespan of the Mighty who partook in Night. On the other hand, I had come into the priesthood of the Sisters after the devouring of Winter: it was unprecedented grounds we were treading.
              Book 5 Chapter 36 “Bid”

              > And as the Black Queen is a new Name, it’s hardly as defined as an already existing one.

              > With the pivot came more. My mantle stirred. Queenship would be granted to me by the Tower, by Name and by right. But not like the rulers of the Old Kingdom, no. Mine would not be so pristine a reign. If I was to be queen, it would be a queen cloaked in black with hands bloodied red. Though young and half-formed, the Name was taking shape. Beckoning.

              Sounds like the definition was coming along quite nicely!

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Ah, monthlies. That’s why I couldn’t find it. Guess you’re right, it was a Squire thing. Still not necessarily a Named thing, as female Kairos likely would’ve still been tormented by periods same as everything else.

                Villains don’t age to death. They do age, as Wekesa and Amadeus weren’t young boys when Cat met them. They simply age to the age they prefer and/or stop aging physically while their internal age is slowed down. But in between Villains rarely living for centuries, Cat having explained what the consequence of magical anything to avoid consequences such as fatigue can do, and the non-undead villains we’ve seen, explicit proof that thousand years or more lifespans just by Name-sake rather than a longer lifespan and whatever still undefined powers Ranger has is not yet a said and done case.

                Squire is a Name that is supposed to be stronger and youthful, while the Sovereign is just a complete all round army smasher Fey Name as high Fey names tend to be. Cat has no experience with any other Name including Leader Names. Akua and Masego weren’t physically enhanced (remember how Masego would easily run out of breath despite being Apprentice?) because that’s not part of their Name. If Cat’s Name is hollowed out, camouflaged or part of Sve Noc, then she wouldn’t feel its thrum or assign the effects of being Named to it over her patrons. If she refers to things that not her Name but her Name as Squire and Duchess provided, then my point still stands.

                That definition of Black Queen still sounds pretty vague. Cat’s hands are already bloodied red, and there’s no definition of whose blood it would have to be. She’s red-handed for having killed Saint and reviving Pilgrim, she’s red-handed for having broken the kappa-Troy (Yes, I’m intentionally incorrectly writing the name wrong worse every time because I don’t remember how you really have to spell it)’s fingers, she’s red-handed for the things she did for her Callow. And she will be all the more red-handed for the things she’s yet to do. Not because she’s the one shedding blood but, as she again said this chapter, because she’s the one so easily and grandly accused of it while the bloodshed of others and especially Good is so easily and quickly ignored or overlooked as necessary.

                A queen cloaked black, and all the more black now that she is cloaked in Night, who has been for the whole book the Queen of compromises and hard actions, that sounds like the Cat we’re seeing now. You’re assuming she’s going to have to be a lot more directly bloodthirsty for bloody red hands, but as we’ve seen this very chapter the way that people see her (which is what matters for Names) is that she already is a red-handed powerful Tyrant of Callow. They already fear and hate her for what she is and has done, if they oppose her.

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                1. > Guess you’re right, it was a Squire thing. Still not necessarily a Named thing, as female Kairos likely would’ve still been tormented by periods same as everything else.

                  Absolutely irrelevant. Kairos is a special case, with his illness being the central narrative thing about him that powered his everything else, so he couldn’t get out of it. If his hypothetial periods were a part of that they’d stay, if they weren’t they’d go.

                  Periods are not in fact narratively relevant for Catherine. Note how she remarks on them, like, once in the entire Book 5, and just when musing on changes that came with her no longer being fae or Named.

                  > while the Sovereign is just a complete all round army smasher Fey Name as high Fey names tend to be.

                  Still not a Name.

                  > If Cat’s Name is hollowed out, camouflaged or part of Sve Noc, then she wouldn’t feel its thrum or assign the effects of being Named to it over her patrons.

                  That hypothesis presents additional complexity with 0 evidence pointing towards it.

                  > A queen cloaked black, and all the more black now that she is cloaked in Night, who has been for the whole book the Queen of compromises and hard actions, that sounds like the Cat we’re seeing now. You’re assuming she’s going to have to be a lot more directly bloodthirsty for bloody red hands, but as we’ve seen this very chapter the way that people see her (which is what matters for Names) is that she already is a red-handed powerful Tyrant of Callow. They already fear and hate her for what she is and has done, if they oppose her.

                  Yes, exactly. The groove is there. She just isn’t the person they all think she is, and so does not fit it.

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                  1. >Kairos is a special case, with his illness being the central narrative thing about him that powered his everything else, so he couldn’t get out of it.

                    Unless the whole issue of a travelling, fighting and bantering Name would have the monthlies is the reason for it disappearing, while more mood-swinging suitable Names would keep them. Squire lost it because she is supposed to feel the full brunt of Name change, is supposed to be the clever one outsmarting more powerful Names without two days a month weakness or change, etc. A ruler who doesn’t have to travel with everything they need carried by themselves might not get the menstruation-exception.

                    Squire being the only we know of to not having monthlies isn’t enough of a case to make a conclusion on. And for some reason EE doesn’t immediately say whether new female Named, so Squire is the only one we’ve got to go on. Akua might still have had periods for all we know, though Archer likely didn’t because of the travelling. Augur might still have them because there’s no inherent weakness in this to scrap it for her. etc.

                    >That hypothesis presents additional complexity with 0 evidence pointing towards it.

                    Similar to how assuming that Cat doesn’t have a Name because she has less narratively binding means to solve solutions, would feel the thrum of a potentially much more subtle Name in a more subtlely written than book 1 and 2 writing style when Night is thick in her veins, and that just because Cat isn’t using her Name as directly.

                    > Yes, exactly. The groove is there. She just isn’t the person they all think she is, and so does not fit it.

                    Hierarch. He didn’t have to be a ruler to be a ruler, as long as the people and the People saw him as a ruler. He never had to fit the groove of Hierarch and could in fact rebel all he wanted against it, it still clinged to him. Once the People and Kahunas declared that he had to accept it, he had to accept it. But he never had to fit the groove.

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                2. Crash

                  I’m starting to think that having this conversation with you is absolutely pointless because the problem here is that you seem to have no idea what is a Name and what is a title, and Roles just don’t exist at all.

                  >>A queen cloaked black, and all the more black now that she is cloaked in Night, who has been for the whole book the Queen of compromises and hard actions, that sounds like the Cat we’re seeing now. You’re assuming she’s going to have to be a lot more directly bloodthirsty for bloody red hands, but as we’ve seen this very chapter the way that people see her (which is what matters for Names) is that she already is a red-handed powerful Tyrant of Callow. They already fear and hate her for what she is and has done, if they oppose her.

                  What people perceive Cat as doesn’t matter at all. The only relevant thing is what Cat thinks of herself. Having people create a grove for her to fit in with their beliefs is nice and powers up her Name but it’s by no means necessary. Again, Hierophant. Masego had an objective that didn’t have a storied grove in Creation but he tought he would be the one to do it, vivisect a god, usher misteries; and so he made his own Name because he had his own idea. At that point, most people would expect him to be Apprentice until he eventually inherited the name of Warlock or some other Mage name that already existed but he, Masego, disagreed and so he became Hierophant instead.

                  People think Cat is a bloodthirsty person, she disagrees. Back when she was the Squire people expected her to get a Warrior-related name and tought she was bloodthristy. Did she get named Bloody Knight or something because people think that? No.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. I’ll note that from what we know of Name mechanics, the archetype of hierophant – like, the word itself – had to have already existed and been an established cultural groove, even if no-one had had it as a Name, per se, before.

                    For reference see: WoG about ‘Grey Knight’.

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                    1. Crash

                      So literally what appears to me as a fundamental misunderstanding of what the concepts you’re attempting to wield to prove your point actually mean and I’m sure you feel similarly about my own ideas on this.

                      I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one for now, but thanks for the long conversation anyway. Maybe we can take it up again in light of the epilogue, but most likely only when we have new things to discuss in the next book.

                      Liked by 1 person

      2. IDKWhoitis

        My running theory is that Cat is mutilating the very grooves of Fate in regards to her roles and massive weight story wise. They will remember her so long after her death, much like Triumphant or Dead King. To fully embody a name, is to chain yourself to an anchor. For every one of your successes, lays the seeds of your failures and forces you down paths carved before you.

        Cat is creating new paths, and as such faces even steeper opposition from the status quo. However, lacking any predefined path forwards, gives her enough mobility to jump over any narrative pitfalls that a lesser Name would be constrained into falling.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. > To fully embody a name, is to chain yourself to an anchor. For every one of your successes, lays the seeds of your failures and forces you down paths carved before you.

          I don’t think that’s a Name thing. It’s a general narrative thing, and Cat’s been struggling with not falling into the traps of that regardless of being non-Named.

          Liked by 2 people

      3. It’s not Creation and Providence that are forcing her into pivots and great events anymore. She’s just been in position for it since Book 3, it doesn’t TAKE Providence for someone in her situation and with her personality to be as central to continenal politics as she is. Pivots and narrative swirlies form around her actions BECAUSE her actions are narrative heavy. The object level forms the meta level here, not the other way around.

        And it’s not narrative weight that determines whether one has a Name or not. It’s whether or not you fit a groove / a character archetype that has accumulated narrative weight of its own to lend you – so it’s actually the other way around.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. That’s true for things like Callow’s political standing in the Grand Alliance, but not things like 2000 horsemen joining you or an old man being certain that he can kill you with a Pattern of Three. From what we know, it’s more likely to assume that Cat’s thresher abilities are a Named-boosted trait of hers rather than a non-Named or even Role power of hers. To see the kapatractoi join her like this same as the Hangman and the likes strongly suggests that she has some Name, even if it’s not a complete and acknowledged Name with Aspects (yet). And Pilgrim, who with his Choir insight should be able to tell the difference between Named and non-Named, hasn’t changed his approach to her. Story-ties wise, she still appears to be Named based on what we’ve seen.

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          1. > but not things like 2000 horsemen joining you

            Yeah, that’s just the Power of Charisma and also the Power of Being Right. Pallas straight up says that she’s very aware she was helping Dead King at the time and would like to make up for that. And also, to Basilia, that her blood quickened at Catherine giving her impromptu speech about the League not being there for the fight. There’s nothing supernatural about THIS outcome.

            > or an old man being certain that he can kill you with a Pattern of Three

            That’s a Role thing, not a Name thing.

            > From what we know, it’s more likely to assume that Cat’s thresher abilities are a Named-boosted trait of hers rather than a non-Named or even Role power of hers.

            It’s not a power. It’s just a trait, an ability, a tendency. It’s what she does as a person, and the narrative picks up on it and amplifies it as a feature of her Role, throwing more opportunities for it her way.

            > To see the kapatractoi join her like this same as the Hangman and the likes strongly suggests that she has some Name, even if it’s not a complete and acknowledged Name with Aspects (yet).

            You either have a Name or don’t. If you don’t, you can be a claimant, to a specific Name or in abstract, and if you’re saying Cat is one of those then I’m following, but an incomplete Name is a Name you do not, in fact, have.

            > And Pilgrim, who with his Choir insight should be able to tell the difference between Named and non-Named, hasn’t changed his approach to her. Story-ties wise, she still appears to be Named based on what we’ve seen.

            Yes, she is a quasi-Named, with the same narrative weight and strength of interaction with stories as Named usually have. Yet, she doesn’t have a specific Name, and so is still not actually Named, not having the abilities that all Named have. Even claimants to a specific Name – as one of four claimants to Squire Cat already had access to its features. Right now she doesn’t.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. caoimhinh

              I think Catherine is kind of in a state of being perpetually Claimant to something, the problem is that it just keeps changing. Ever since she mutilated her Name of Squire by embracing the Fae Title of Sovereign of Moonless Nights, she’s been in this state, barely connected to a Name and forging multiple stories and pivots that shape up to multiple paths and multiple possible Names, she just never settles into any single one.
              Even in Keter she still heard new parts of the song of the Dread Empress Claimants “the Girl Who Climbed the Tower”.

              She has a Role and actively plays it, so she must have a Name at some point.
              But since her interpretation and manifestation of that Role keeps changing according to the circumstances, her Role is never stabilized into a single Name, but she definitely is constantly moving towards that.
              When Cat finally settles into a new Name, that Name will be something that embraces everything Cat is, something that encompasses all that the manifestations of her Role are.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Being a claimant to a specific Name gives you features of being Named though. Catherine first noticed her reflexes being much faster in the goddamn Name vision Amadeus sent her to with that one stabbing, aka literally immediately. Right now Cat’s referring to herself as non-Named, and I am very much inclined to trust that.

                So the way I’m reading it, like Amadeus as of Epilogue 4, she’s abstractly a claimant – in position to snatch what power comes her way if she wants to. But until she does, it’s only a potential that doesn’t really impact her abilities or interactions.

                > When Cat finally settles into a new Name, that Name will be something that embraces everything Cat is, something that encompasses all that the manifestations of her Role are.

                That’s not how Names work. Names are archetypes, and a complete person isn’t an archetype.

                That said, I agree that it’s possible that Cat will manage to form an accurate archetype of herself in the minds of people, and it’ll birth her a very accurate Name. So far, though, it sounds like her reputation is wildly out of control and doesn’t match the real her very well stil. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for a Name.

                Liked by 2 people

            2. One general, yes. A general with their troops, yes. A general with their troops which were all humiliated, their finger broken and send away with their arnaments taken, the general still being able to make that gesture without most of the cavalry leaving or protesting because Kairos said they could is a Name-aided thing of providence, not just Charisma. Threshers can find more talent better, but this here is the Name-granted providence smoothing out the wrinkles behind Story-events.

              Pattern of Three, is it though? Would it really be so simple that anyone could get William’s plot armour simply by getting a Pattern of Three with any non-Named and then being all the more unkillable by Named? Would it really be so simple that even someone like Pilgrim would fully assume that a Pattern of Three would stick with a non-Named who’s no longer something like a Fey Duchess either, to the point that he’d sacrifice a good chunk of army to it?

              >You either have a Name or don’t. … an incomplete Name is a Name you do not, in fact, have.
              Unless of course there’s some power and Aspect-stealing lesser god thickly flowing through Cat’s veins to both take a lot of her Name and give her her Name’s powers in its stead. It’s quite possible that only the Story-threads remain of the Name, if she has one.

              Like

              1. > Pattern of Three, is it though? Would it really be so simple that anyone could get William’s plot armour simply by getting a Pattern of Three with any non-Named and then being all the more unkillable by Named? Would it really be so simple that even someone like Pilgrim would fully assume that a Pattern of Three would stick with a non-Named who’s no longer something like a Fey Duchess either, to the point that he’d sacrifice a good chunk of army to it?

                There is a Role requirement for a Pattern of Three though. You can’t just get one with whoever you like. Allow me to quote WoG on the subject:

                “I’ve been seeing misunderstandings in the comment section for the last few chapters about patterns of three, so I’ll lay out a few things here. The victory/draw/defeat setup that’s been introduced in the story is something that occurs solely between Names that are rivals in their story – in this case Lone Swordsman/Squire and Heiress/Squire. You don’t get to pick who your rival is, otherwise clever villains would just start a pattern of three with a weak hero, freeze them and ship them on the other side of the world then be more or less impossible to kill for a few centuries. Juniper doesn’t have a Name, and so can’t be involved in something like this. The Black Knight and the Wandering Bard are not rivals, so looking for a pattern there is also pointless.”

                Catherine managed to be in a mirror-opposite-but-roughtly-equal-and-similar Role to Grey Pilgrim without being Named. This is rare and notable. It doesn’t mean she was secretly Named. Again, it’s the Role that’s the key, not the Name. Akua explains that in her narration after First Liesse.

                > Unless of course there’s some power and Aspect-stealing lesser god thickly flowing through Cat’s veins to both take a lot of her Name and give her her Name’s powers in its stead.

                Unless Cat is secretly Triumphant reincarnated with memory loss. And Tariq is secretly Traitorous. And Bard is a time-traveling Cat from the future. And the Dead King was a good guy all along and all his killings have been faked by the Bard, and the memory Cat saw was just her being an unreliable narrator as she straight up lied to the audience about what she saw.

                And the entire Guide is a dying dream of a coma patient.

                Like

                1. >something that occurs solely between Names that are rivals in their story

                  This sounds like an in-story confirmed thing that Pilgrim should thus know. Again, sacrificing an army on a gamble that Cat’s Role would be opposite to his Name rather than Cat having a Name in his eyes sounds like something that not even Pilgrim would risk when DK is moving. And were they really that opposite? He’s been mostly banking it on ‘She’s an evil and clever mastermind’ while he’s not at all fitting the narrative opposite of young and unproven or the outmatched cornered one that never wanted conflict that such a pattern would require. He was banking it on a pattern that might work for Named but there’s too much dissonance from the cliches and tropes for him to rely on that against a Role considering the investment risk.

                  Which again, results in different interpretations of Named that we seem to have. I’d say, Named is not necessary only three Aspects mortal Named, that’s just a subsection of it.

                  Like

                  1. > Again, sacrificing an army on a gamble that Cat’s Role would be opposite to his Name

                    No, that Cat’s Role would be opposite to his Role. It’s not a Name thing – Cat’s rivals in Book 2 were Heiress and Lone Swordsman, and while Heiress/Squire being rivals is sort of arguably tied into the Names, Squire vs Lone Swordsman is entirely arbitrary and contextual, ie, the function of their respective Roles.

                    Like

      4. I think she’s trying her best not to create a Name out of the already deep as fuck groove she’s tearing into Creation with the Liesse Accords.
        She wants to create a new status quo. I think making a Name that makes new status quos will be against that wish, since you know, her status quo will be overridden.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Vin reisling

    Can we just put a vote link at the bottom of each chapter to cut out the obnoxious vote comments? Every time I think I’m going to see some discussion, and it’s just “hurrr hurr vote”.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. tithin

      yeah, getting a little tired of coming down to the comments to see discussion and instead it’s 6 people all tripping over themselves to reword the story to make people vote.

      It was clever / original the first time it happened, when you’ve got a bunch of people doing it on every chapter it gets really old.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. Shveiran

      You know what I dislike, though?

      Comments that complain about this kind of things.

      I like the vote posts. They often make me laugh.
      But even if they didn’t, I don’t get what makes them worth arguing over: they are usually a reply to each other and they are easy to spot.

      You don’t like reading them? Fine and dandy.
      Just. Scroll. Down. No one is requiring you read them.
      You won’t make them stop by complaining, because a lot of us do like them and will keep making them.

      Just scroll down, and go on with your day. Isn’t it simpler?

      Liked by 6 people

      1. tithin

        Right now, I scroll down, but it’s annoying to have to scroll down because there’s so many of these comments on every episode, and none of them are unique, or interesting, or contribute in any way shape or form to the community.

        So no, it’s not “simpler” to just scroll down, perhaps by making an observation that these posts aren’t enjoyable to me, it may make the people who make those posts reconsider. One or two posts? scroll. as many as are being posted? it’s valid to make a comment pointing out that too many are doing it and it contributes nothing.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. For me they actively ruin cool moments from the chapter immediately by… defacing them with the joke.

        And I read too quickly to realize I should just scroll past in time, not to mention how many times I refresh comments and have to scroll past these without reading all over again.

        They’re like a fucking enjoyment landmine, where while thinking of a cool phrasing I instead get the ‘vote! hahaha funny’ bullshit in my head instead.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Shveiran

          You. You find them annoying.

          Others enjoy them.
          Others dislike rampant speculations or shipping.
          Others, like me, dislike pointless arguing.
          Removing them is not an “objective” improvement, but a subjective one.

          I’m not arguing you don’t have the right to say “I dislike this”.
          I’m arguing it is pointless, and spawns just as many useless comments as you are trying to prevent:if I disliked the vote jokes, now I’d have to scroll down BOTH the jokes AND the comments about how you dislike them.

          Do these kind of rebuttal offer anything to the community? Really ask yourself, is it going to improve the discussion or just spawn another pointless argument?
          Because if you think it’s the letter, maybe you should stop complaining.

          Not because I have a right to ask you to stop, but because it achieves nothing and irritates some.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. I have seen people agree with me.

            I expect I’m not the only one whose enjoyment it actively improves to see things I dislike followed by criticism posted with equal amount of weight in the same format.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. caoimhinh

              And you have also seen people agree with those who post the “Vote!” comments, and many who like the post where they are creative with the way they post it.
              I particularly like that they get creative and find different ways to post the same message, as to avoid being repetitive. Sometimes they are good and funny, sometimes not so much, it varies like everything in life. It’s also not just one person who always makes that comment, but different ones.

              You don’t like those comments? Ok, fine. You are entitled to that, but could you please refrain from insulting them? Basic respect is a minimum who must have even when having differences of opinion.
              Saying things like “they actively ruin cool moments” may be your opinion, but surely calling them things like “They’re a fucking enjoyment landmine” is going a bit too far?

              They are not harming anyone, it’s not spam nor ads for money, and they are not even doing it for themselves, they do it because they want this web novel to get more recognition.
              It’s a selfless thing, it’s a good thing. No need to get annoyed or grumpy like those old people who yell at children because they laugh too loud when playing.
              Why get annoyed over someone having harmless fun?

              Liked by 1 person

                1. caoimhinh

                  No, it really doesn’t.
                  At least it harms you no more than it harms someone who gets outraged at there being LGBT characters in the story.
                  The problem lies within yourself, not in the others making comments that should in no way harm you yet due to your own personal perceptions annoy you.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. > At least it harms you no more than it harms someone who gets outraged at there being LGBT characters in the story.

                    This comparison is ludicrous. Comments about being outraged at LGBT characters ARE harmful on a level that is entirely incomparable with my complaints about shitty unpleasant upsetting vote reminders. Or, yes, the vote reminders themselves. Can we not do reductio ad hitlerum here?

                    Like

                    1. Shveiran

                      That’s not what he said.

                      He said “what the joke voters post harms you in the same way the existence of the LGBQT members harms intollerant people” not “what you and haters do has the same effect on the world”.

                      The comparison doesn’t refer to your actions. Just the perceived legitimacy of what moves you to act.

                      He simply read your “Because it harms me” comment above, and said “no, it really doesn’t. It may irritate you, but that is a different thing.”

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. caoimhinh

                      You aren’t harmed, Lilieth.

                      You are only slightly inconvenienced by the vote comments, due to your own perceptions and susceptibility, born from (as you yourself had said) a mixture of the feelings you get at the end of a chapter, and the place these comments occupy, thus generating what you called “a fucking enjoyment landmine, where while thinking of a cool phrasing I instead get the ‘vote! hahaha funny’ bullshit in my head instead.”

                      You are getting annoyed out of someone who is simply having harmless fun, because their joke clashes against the serious hype you have in your head at the end of the chapter, but that’s really no reason for them to stop, it’s you who must learn to look past them.

                      Plus, there are others who do enjoy the vote comment jokes, as shown by different people doing it and those who like those comments. So I doubt these comments will stop because of two or three complainers who don’t have a legitimate reason beyond “I don’t find it funny”

                      Like

                  2. I am not obligated to ‘look past it’ any more than they’re obligated to stop, though.

                    As for the hypothetical ‘anti-LGBT’ commenters, the issue with them is not that they aren’t allowed to get upset about things, it’s that their upsetness when expressed does a lot more harm than being upset does to them. It’s a x >> y, not y=0. Not to mention that practicing getting over this upsetness does both them and the world a lot of good, while absolutely no-one would ~tangibly have a greater benefit~ from me learning to not read the comments or something.

                    Like

              1. tithin

                There’s nothing wrong with “Vote for thing, link” and if it was just one or two of that, fine, no harm no foul.

                But I’ve already detailed why I find them annoying, and Liliet’s commentary also encapsulates some of my feeling here so I’m not going to repeat myself.

                One of the arguments being deployed here is:

                “I’m arguing it is pointless, and spawns just as many useless comments as you are trying to prevent:if I disliked the vote jokes, now I’d have to scroll down BOTH the jokes AND the comments about how you dislike them.

                Do these kind of rebuttal offer anything to the community? Really ask yourself, is it going to improve the discussion or just spawn another pointless argument?
                Because if you think it’s the letter, maybe you should stop complaining.”

                Yes, the Rebuttals serve to provide notice that *people dislike them and are expressing that displeasure, something that they have the right to do, and which you acknowledge*

                And yes, I do feel that it will improve discussion on the site by serving to make people aware that those sorts of comments, WHEN DONE BY AS MANY PEOPLE AS ARE DOING IT, are extremely annoying.

                Because ultimately, with the number of people that are doing it, it doesn’t feel like a “I want to see the web novel grow” it reads like a blatant attempt to be superfan#1 by being the fastest possible person to post such a comment.

                Just get one person to do it, and everyone else can be all congratulatory to them, and then everyone’s happy. I’m happy because I only see one of them, and y’all are happy because you get to see the rewashed content you so crave.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. caoimhinh

                  But you do realize that they aren’t actually that many people, right?
                  We see like 4 tops in a chapter. That’s out of dozens and sometimes hundreds of comments. Although they aren’t always the same people who comment, when they see someone already made a comment in that style in a given chapter, they refrain from doing it.

                  They are likely to be the first comments that you see, though. And maybe the only ones you see, if you read the chapter very early or if you only read the first few comments. But they aren’t a spam of lots of comments.

                  Lilieth pointed out that one of the issues was that she saw these comments right at the end of the chapter, thus effecting a turndown of the “epic moment in her head”. But honestly, that’s out of anyone’s control. The way someone perceives and feels about a scene and the way they feel when they see it parodied in a comment, varies from reader to reader.

                  But they are free to make those comments, either way. There is no bad intent in them.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. tithin

                    To say that “it’s out of anyone’s control” though is not the case, it’s very explicitly in someone’s control to not make that comment – again, if the comment were simply “hey, here’s a link to go vote for the thing” sure, no issues, I’ll keep scrolling, and it won’t bug Liliet because it’s not impacting on diminishing the story.

                    I don’t see the point in arguing this further as neither of us is going to change the mind of the other, so this is as dust in the wind. You’re entitled to your opinion and I to mine, suffice it to say that for me, it’s extremely annoying and as people seem wont to defend it, I will continue to point out that is irritating in the vain hope that I’ll see less of those sorts of comments.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Shveiran

                      Yes, it is pointless to keep arguing the point.

                      I am not so much of an hypocrite to keep doing what I’d like you to refrain from – argue for someone to stop doing what you find annoying, when there is no real chance that your words will affect them.

                      I hoped we could get ridd of one pointless discussion, but there is no point in spawning another.
                      So I’ll just make this last request – that you give it some thought from our perspective.

                      Can’t you see that just like I miserably failed to convince you or change your behavior, you won’t change theirs?

                      These are your own words, just now:
                      “I don’t see the point in arguing this further as neither of us is going to change the mind of the other, so this is as dust in the wind. You’re entitled to your opinion and I to mine”
                      and they are true.
                      But they don’t apply just to you and me, do they? They also apply to you and them.
                      If your argument is “I dislike that”, which is legit, they will reply “too bad.” And that is legit too.
                      Because others do enjoy those comments.
                      Because you are not alone in how you feel, but neither are them.
                      Because maybe they are spoiling your fun somewhat, but staying silent would somewhat spoil theirs.

                      You won’t change their mind, you’ll just spoil their fun while not saving yours, and making it worse for those that dislike both the joke votes and your rebuttals.
                      Everyone loses.
                      So why do it?

                      I will say no more, so long as you refrain from outright attacking them. As we both said, there is no point.

                      Do what you will, I won’t argue further. It’s not like I could stop you, anyway.

                      Liked by 1 person

                  2. > Although they aren’t always the same people who comment, when they see someone already made a comment in that style in a given chapter, they refrain from doing it.

                    You know, except for the part where these comments are being posted AS A REPLY TO THE PREVIOUS ONE.

                    I don’t have an issue with people posting separate unrelated vote reminder comments, when it’s clear the person didn’t see the previous one when they posted their own. Although I’ll continue to provide feedback on the jokes themselves, in hopes that people will actually respond to it and start going with jokes that are more actually funny.

                    But when people are clearly trying to one up each other, that’s a problem.

                    > But they are free to make those comments, either way. There is no bad intent in them.

                    And I’m free to make my own comments about those comments. There is no bad intent in that, either. Free speech works both ways.

                    Like

                    1. caoimhinh

                      >”except for the part where these comments are being posted AS A REPLY TO THE PREVIOUS ONE… when people are clearly trying to one up each other, that’s a problem.”

                      That’s called a comment thread, that’s where they are supposed to be. Comments of the same nature or touching the same topic being in the same thread has nothing strange or bad, you know? That’s why threads exist in the first place.

                      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people trying to up one another either, that’s how they improve; they are sharing a common interest and replying to each other as they share the joke and have fun, you should have no problem with people having fun on their own.
                      If some of the readers were to make a comment thread making lame puns with characters and events of the guide, and you don’t want to participate or don’t like the puns, you simply scroll down and ignore the thread, not start commenting to tell them to stop or tell them to make puns that are funny to you, right?

                      >”I’m free to make my own comments about those comments. There is no bad intent in that, either. Free speech works both ways.”

                      Except for the part where you insulted those who made vote comments and those who parodied phrases of the chapters to invite others to vote.
                      Or the part where you are trying to impose your own personal taste to other people’s comments and now want to set a standard of “if your joke is not funny to me, don’t post it”.

                      We all have opinions and the right to express ourselves; unless their jokes and comments are actually offensive or unlawful, you have no right to censure them nor to dictate what they can put in their comments or how they make their jokes.
                      It’s harmless fun while sending the reminder to vote in topwebfiction for this web novel, they are not doing anything bad.

                      Like

                  3. > There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people trying to up one another either, that’s how they improve;

                    If they want to improve, they get my feedback as guidance. I’m helping!

                    > you should have no problem with people having fun on their own.

                    I don’t have a problem with people having fun ‘on their own’. But this isn’t on their own, this is in a public place, where they are literally inviting commentary. This isn’t on their own blog, this isn’t in a private chat, this isn’t in a specialized discord channel. You don’t get to masturbate in front of a public building then complain that people are taking issue with you ‘having fun on your own’*.

                    * a hyperbolic comparison meant to delineate the difference, not to suggest this is of the same severity or nature.

                    > We all have opinions and the right to express ourselves; unless their jokes and comments are actually offensive or unlawful, you have no right to censure them

                    Are you aware of what the word ‘censure’ means?

                    If I was a mod and I was deleting those comments because I don’t like them, that’d be censuring. Notably, at least some people would argue that I’d have a right to do that as that is, in fact, a mod’s right and responsibility, and ‘the right to free speech’ applies specifically to government and mass media, not to saying whatever you want anywhere you want with no-one having a right to ask you not to.

                    Like… by those standards, you’re censuring me too. Am I doing serious harm to them by insisting their jokes aren’t funny? I’m discouraging them, yes. That’s exactly the goal I’m pursuing. I’m not seeing how it’s offensive/harmful.

                    > Except for the part where you insulted those who made vote comments and those who parodied phrases of the chapters to invite others to vote.
                    > Or the part where you are trying to impose your own personal taste to other people’s comments and now want to set a standard of “if your joke is not funny to me, don’t post it”.

                    Welp, I’ll apologize for the insults if any of those people asks me to. I don’t remember any specifically but I do believe I might have gotten a little heated =x

                    As for imposing personal taste and setting standards: yes. I’m a part of this community, I get to try to do that.

                    You are right now attempting to impose your own taste on me and set the standard of “no-one gets to complain about someone else’s jokes unless they are actively offensive to real-world marginalized groups”. I disagree with that standard, but I do not deny your right to try to convince me in its favor. It appears we’re at an impasse, good sir.

                    Like

          2. > Can’t you see that just like I miserably failed to convince you or change your behavior, you won’t change theirs?

            I am trying to, just by giving feedback on the jokes themselves. Who knows, maybe next time when they’re thinking of one they’ll go ‘hmm but can i make a joke AND get a compliment from Liliet on it? it’s a challenge!’

            It’s worth trying, and it makes people who agree with me feel better, so… win-win!

            Like

  9. Valkyria

    Gods. I really wish Cat could once just do what she wants. Use all her power and just hammer it into them.
    I won’t point out the obvious reasons why she can’t and shouldn’t bc they were mentioned in the chapter.
    But it would be so blissfull to watch those blithering, ignorant dumbasses realize how damn lucky they are that Cat is holding herself back. That Cat is not just smiting everyone. How happy they can be that she is not a Villian in the Old Way.
    That would be so satisfying.
    Stupid, alright.
    But satisfying.

    Liked by 11 people

          1. Valkyria

            I’m not saying I don’t like how great she’s handling things now. It’s just me feeling her frustration of just wanting to smash a table or two (or heads) in the face of stupidity.

            Liked by 5 people

              1. Valkyria

                That is true but I probably just put myself in there. I mostly try being the bigger person but can’t always so I know how it feels to snap. (At some point it just won’t work anymore) But it is satisfying to just let it all out.
                So I’m proud she knows how to handle herself but I wonder if she will be able to do that or if at some point she snaps too. Knowing her even her snapping would be controlled and measured but still.
                For me there was always a point where I just couldn’t take it anymore.
                Of course in my life it’s not nations or continents that are at stake.

                Nah, you just have an opinion. Just like me. It’s just not the same.

                Liked by 3 people

                1. TBH I have greatly enjoyed the moments when Cat snapping was just her going ‘guess I’ll die’ and giving up (First Summerholm, Everdark). And I am a great fan of her leaning into her heroic tendencies as well :3

                  Are you familiar with the anime ‘Trigun’?

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. Well, Vash the Stampede is one of my favorite fictional characters, and btw I recommend, it’s a pretty short series. He’s a little relevant to my opinion on this ;u;

                      Like

  10. God, this was so satisfying. I’m so fucking HERE for Cat balancing on the tightrope and not falling anymore. Not throwing a tantrum, not fucking up her diplomatic relationships for the future by trying to regain control of this one, graciously admitting loss and leaving the stage when that’s the best thing she can do.

    Not destroying her enemies out of pure spite, because there must be more than ruin.

    And winning allies without expecting any, just by being intensely herself at all times.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Agent J

      Mortality is the best damned thing to ever happen to her. To keep the limp, to take up the staff over the sword, to just walk away when a battle is lost rather than losing herself to the heat of the moment. New Cat is best Cat.

      She has finally grown up and grown into her own and I’m loving every bloody moment of it. Hells, even her father comfortably cowers in her shadow.

      Long live the Black Queen.

      Liked by 8 people

        1. Agent J

          There’s a reason he’s so beloved by readers. He is one of the most supportive fathers I’ve seen in media. Wekesa should have learned from him. Trying to imprison your son so he doesn’t get in the way of murdering your niece? Poor form, ‘Kesa. Poor form.

          Liked by 4 people

      1. It felt really climactic to me to see Cat’s bad leg do exactly what Cat wanted it to and stop her from making a shitty decision – and then having Cat just take the high road again…

        …AND THEN GET AN ARMY OUT OF IT.

        Because Doing The Right Thing is a boomerang, and you do end up inspiring people to follow your example, if you stick with it :3

        Like

  11. Masterofbones

    And here I was thinking that there wouldn’t be a reference to Aleister Crowley in this story. “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” indeed. The Tyrant is the best, and his friendship with Cat is fantastic.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Last chapter:
    “Basillia, why are you here?”
    General Basilia, dutifully: “We are here solely to carry out the final orders of Kiaros Theodosian”

    This chapter:
    General Basilia (Still dutifully): “Tyrants orders were to do whatever the fuck we want. Lols”

    Liked by 13 people

  13. laguz24

    Is it just me or is there a fate obligated providence related law that says all long term plans must be screwed up. Since I haven’t seen a single plan go off without a hitch.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A certain Mr Theodosian would beg to differ.

      As would Auger when Vs the Bard.

      As for “things going off without a hitch” – how often does that happen in real life?

      And when you’ve got three or more sides playing against one another, AT LEAST 2/3 of them are going to have their plans screwed, and more likely all three.
      Prediction is hard, especially when making predictions about the future. Mostly you’ve just got to make your plans robust, and then take the victories you can.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Shveiran

          I read it mostly as a “she is someone worth following. When she does what she does, my blood gets pumping like it did with Kairos. I can find purpose in joining her cause, because she is worthy in my Helikean eyes”.

          Liked by 7 people

        2. I’m also wondering if this is a case of Cat only half knowing the relevant language. Hence the saying would make perfect sense in its native tongue, but understand it from Cat’s perspective and hence we get soemthing which only half makes sense.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. I’m not really a polyglot myself, but I have been given to understand that grasping idiom is usually the hardest part of learning a new language since they comparatively rarely put that in the books (which IMO is a, as Amadeus would say, mistake). So that would make sense to me. I think Shveiran’s interpretation is valid, but it would also make sense that an idiom or cultural reference (e.g., maybe that’s a line in a famous Helikean play about Why We Follow Tyrants) is being used here to give the statement extra weight that Basilia would grasp immediately.

            Liked by 3 people

            1. As a non-native English speaker who is also autistic and so had to develop a special cognitive algorhythm for grasping idioms in her native language too…

              Wait, it’s not obvious from context?

              Like

        3. Zim the Vixen

          Here’s a more explicit recreation of that interaction

          “And? Did you find you were looking for? Now that we are free to do as we will, do you really wish to go with her?” General Basilia said.

          “Yes,” General Pallas. “Yes. The blood quickened. She got angry, pulse rose, she tensed. She almost took those mens’ heads off. All of our heads of. This is absolutely what I was looking for in her. It wasn’t just that one time, when she broke us cataphracts.”

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Hm.

            I took that as Pallas saying her blood quickened at Cat’s speech, ie she is excited by Cat’s leadership and wants to follow it.

            Your interpretation feels… off to me, but I cannot see a specific reason why other than ‘very different from mine’. Hrm.

            Like

    2. Well, ‘no plan survives first contact with the enemy’ is a real world saying…

      Or, as a very good Fire Emblem fic I recently read put it, “I trust my forces. I don’t trust the opponent’s”.

      Also, I suspect there is in fact a tendency baked into the very nature of Named to go against manipulations and being used, acting as the grain of sand in the machinery – as rare is the story that doesn’t have its protagonist do that, deliberately or unwittingly.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. aran

    > How can you even know this wasn’t her doing from the start?

    You… you literally just tried to throw a poisoned weapon into her face, Prodocius; they all saw you do it…

    Like

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