Chapter 72: Omen

“As the long summer dies the wolves will dance with the sons of the king, and though cities will fall in the end the only victor will be death.”

– Extract from the prophetic ‘Book of Manifold Dooms’, by the Augur Kaspar Reitzenberg (widely considered useless, as it foretells events both past and future without drawing distinction)

The city of Hainaut was a beautiful sight.

When I’d first laid eyes on it, last summer, the majesty of it had startled me. The capital had been built atop a tall and precipitously steep plateau – at its highest point it must have been at least three hundred feet going down in a straight line – that jutted out of the valley in more or less the shape of a hand laid flat, with the fingers in that description representing a gradually declining slope headed down towards the valley floor. A butte, which was the Proceran name for a hill so tall and narrow it was almost as a pillar of rock, jutted out slightly to the left of where the ‘fingers’ began, almost like the point of thumb. The most eye-catching part aside from the height, though, was the pale white wall circling around the city occupying the plateau heights. From closer up the ramparts of pale granite were revealed to be more of a pale grey with impurities, but at a distance and in the morning light it looked like the capital was crowned by walls of white stone.

“It is grand city, this Hainaut,” the Apprentice said in a hushed tone. “I studied among the schools in the high hills of Ashur, yet even their splendour pales in comparison.”

“It’s pretty enough,” the Squire conceded. “Seems like a lot of trouble, though. I hope they have good wells, or it’s going to be a bloody walk down and back up that slope every morning with full buckets.”

I swallowed a grin and Hakram gave me a rather droll look. I’d made a comment not too dissimilar after having my first look at it. I suspected the shared of experience of having had the water chore – fetching buckets for baths or cleaning – had led to a shared skepticism of living anywhere water would need to be brought uphill.

“There is not a speck of romance in you,” the Ashuran mage reproached him.

“Romance I want out of a lover,” Arthur Foundling snorted, “but out of a city, I much prefer functioning sewers. Gods, just imagine if it doesn’t rain up there for a month and the drains go dry. The stink.”

I cocked an eyebrow at Hakram. Boy had a point. Mind you, the Vaudrii – the Alamans tribe that’d first settled here – had not been idiots. They’d not just picked the place because it’d look nice from a distance.

“Almost a fourth of the plateau, like a teardrop at the centre, is taken up by a great pool that the locals call le Bassin Gris,” Adjutant informed both the young heroes. “It is fed by rain, which is frequent in these parts, but also by several great underground aquifers. Though you cannot see it from where we stand, near the back of the city there is a waterfall going over the edge of the cliff.”

“See?” the Apprentice triumphantly said. “It was a sound notion, and soundly executed. You simply cannot stand to seen anyone spending coin anything but a good horse or sordidly unseasoned meat stew.”

“If I seasoned it the way you do, Sapan, my skin might just turn permanently red,” the Squire drily replied. “And a good horse is a sounder investment than white walls by any reasonable measure. The wall’s stuck in the same place, and you can’t ride it.”

Hakram cleared his throat and both youngbloods immediately went silent, looking somewhat guilty at having bickered into front of us even if it’d been amicably. The orc was only amused, though. He’d been in a good mood all morning. Some of that no doubt had to do with the way that he wasn’t sitting in a chair and instead standing on his own, though he was leaning heavily against iron-bound crutches. Even the leg he’d not lost had become weak in the time he’d spent without using it, so standing for more than a few moments at a time was both tiring and painful to him. Leaning on the crutches took the edge off that, though Masego had ordered me not to let him do it for too long. Orc musculature was different from that of humans, so doing this would actually begin pinching a muscle in his armpit that humans didn’t have.

“Princess Beatrice told me that about a century back they had to make laws about not throwing filth and detritus into the Bassin Gris,” I idly added. “It’d gotten so tainted the locals were calling it the Brown Basin instead, so now there’s a designated point for that near the waterfall. All the sewer drains lead there as well.”

See,” Arthur Foundling smugly grinned at the other Named. “I told you-”

Adjutant cleared his throat again, which killed that in the crib, and glanced at me reproachfully. I shrugged, unrepentant. Laure rats stuck together, at least to the extent that wasn’t going to get me killed. The White Knight had rather frankly told me that there simply was no one in a position to take the Squire as even an informal apprentice, at the moment, so he saw no need to move the boy form his current placement. For the moment at least. That’d been with the understanding that I wasn’t just going to put Arthur in a padded box somewhere into total isolation from other Named, though, so I’d arranged to have him introduced to a few people. Apprentice, whose given name I had recently learned was Sapan, was one of them. On the heroic side, I’d also presented him to both Roland and the Silver Huntress.

I wasn’t going to pretend I’d not chosen those names and Names carefully – Apprentice both young and based far away, the  Silver Huntress raised by Ranger and uninterested in power games, the Rogue Sorcerer both charismatic and opposed to certain aspects of traditional heroics – but I’d been careful never to actually hinder him in any way. I was well aware of how badly that story could turn on me if I dipped my toe in it. Apprentice was a peer in age and power, Roland was highly distinguished as both a researcher and a combat mage as well as one of the most broadly travelled of the heroes, the Silver Huntress was a frequent leader of bands of five. All of these connections might one day be of use, to a young man with ambitions to make a name for himself.

That they were also unlikely to be connections that came around to bite either myself or my legacy in the ass was, of course, a mere fortunate coincidence.

In the distance there were sudden flashes of light that caught everyone’s attention. They were coming from atop the butte on the side of the plateau, a thick pillar of stone topped by a tall watchtower that was best known by Hainaut folk as la Veilleuse. The prelude to our retaking of the capital had begun. A small mixed force led by Named – the White Knight, the Silent Guardian and the Vagrant Spear – would come out of the Twilight Ways, a frontline of Osena slayers brutally scything through whatever dead held the place. In small, tight places like the halls and stairs of a watchtower I’d seen few warriors more deadly than Lady Aquiline’s nimble pack of killers. Robber, who’d skirmished at their side more than once, had admitted to me that even goblins were wary of getting in close with that lot. The slayers were unusually quick, for humans, and years of monster-hunting meant that those with bad habits had already been thinned from the herd.

“Can I ask,” the Squire hesitantly began, “why we are bothering to take the watchtower?”

I hesitated. Teaching that one anything would always carry risks, and as long as he didn’t have a formal mentor the risks were even sharper.

“I am curious as well,” the Apprentice admitted. “There are barely any dead in there, I was made to understand. Should our efforts not be concentrated on the gates?”

I decided, after a heartbeat, that shared curiosity diluted this to an acceptable level.

“The gates are what we’re aiming at by taking the Veilleuse,” I said. “It’s because of the way Hainaut was built.”

“There is only one way in and out of the city,” Adjutant told them. “The Ivory Gates, a set of seven great gates. When the city was still inhabited they were each dedicated to allowing certain people in our out – one of the gates, the one in the middle, was even dedicated to solely the Volignacs and those they favoured.”

“Very orderly,” the Apprentice said, sounding pleasantly surprised. “I’d heard of the Ivory Gates in my lessons, but the Rogue Sorcerer never mentioned this.”

Ashurans, I thought with distaste. I expected they wouldn’t even mind the Hells too much, if they were set up with proper citizenship tiers and open for trade.

“The city was built with the expectation it would have to be held against raids and armies,” I said. “So beyond the natural defences the ancient Volignacs laboured on the land some. It used to be that the slope going up to the walls and the gates was relatively even all around, but over the years they dug a much steeper slope and left just a broad ramp going up to the gates. Actually taking this city, when it’s being defended, is bloody work. I’m told the last time the Princes of Arans tried to storm this place, the Volignacs just pushed great round boulders over the walls and let Creation do the rest.”

Both young heroes winced at the thought. Yeah, even I had been impressed by that particular historical anecdote. It was typical of the line, apparently. House Volignac was noticeably poorer in coin and manpower than all three of its neighbouring royal rivals, but it’d not lost a significant amount of land to any of them in about a century. As far as I could tell, they’d remained in power largely by being utterly savage at anyone who crossed their borders while simultaneously marrying into the royal houses that were enemies to their enemies.

“That’s almost in the same league as Summerholm,” the Squire said, visibly impressed.

“No,” I replied, shaking my head. “It’s significantly inferior, and that’s actually what got Princess Julienne Volignac – Princess Beatrice’s sister and predecessor – killed. Those gates and that path are the only way in and out of the city. So when the dead broke the Iron Prince’s defensive line up north and poured into the central valley, the city was a nightmare to evacuate.”

Hainaut city wasn’t that large by Proceran standards, maybe sixty to seventy thousand people, but that was a lot of scared civilians wanting to keep their earthly possessions going through the same cramped streets to reach the same seven measly gates. The way Klaus Papenheim told it, at the height of the panic it had taken literal days to get a cart from the centre of the city to the Ivory Gates. People had slept in the streets instead of their homes so no one would take their place while they were gone.

“Julienne Volignac rode out with most of her mounted retinue to buy enough time for her people to flee,” Adjutant soberly said. “Not a single horseman from that charge returned.”

That put a bit of pall on the mood, so I moved on quickly.

“Essentially, going up that ramp and taking the gates from Keter would be a messy business,” I said. “The moment our presence was revealed, the dead moved most of their garrison to defend those gates and the plaza behind them. While we could use the Ways to enter the city directly, the Dead King has proved in the past that he’s capable of putting a temporary lock on gating in the region so it’d be a risk – it could close after our vanguard got through and then the troops would be stuck in the middle of an enemy-held city.”

“I still do not see the use of taking the watchtower,” the Apprentice admitted.

“The upper half of the tower,” I told her, “is significantly higher than the rest of the capital.”

Arthur Foundling started.

“Engines,” he said. “You had siege engines moved in through the Ways as well as the soldiers.”

I smiled. Clever boy.

“Before long our sappers will have them in place and we will be able to begin firing,” I confirmed. “Straight into the undead so very tightly packed into the plaza right behind the gates.”

The enemy had meant to make that place into a meat grinder that it would cost us dearly to clear, focusing on causing damage to our army rather than defending the city properly since the garrison the Dead King had left in here was simply too small to hold it against us. We’d been disinclined to allow that, though the watchtower tactic had actually been suggested by Lady Aquiline. Girl had a knack for sliding the knife in where it hurt, couldn’t deny that. Dominion leadership was coming along nicely in some ways, and I suspected that after all this should some Arlesite princes try their hand at a border war with Levant they would be in for a rude awakening. The Blood hadn’t stayed in charge of Levant as long as it had by being slow to learn lessons.

“What happens if they then retreat into the city itself?” the Apprentice asked. “Would it not be hard fighting to clear the capital street by street?”

“To some extent, but less than you believe,” Hakram told her. “If they abandon the Ivory Gates then we will take them, and the moment we do sending soldiers into the city through gates is no longer as risky.”

“Ah,” the Apprentice murmured. “Because even if the ritual lock is deployed, the forces in the city will be able to reinforce the vanguard by foot.”

I nodded in approval. That was pretty much it. If the enemy dug in further into the city, using street barricades and ambushes, we could essentially overturn that entire set of tactic by gating in soldier behind the chokepoints they were trying to hold against us and striking at them from the back.

“It seems like a flawless strategy,” the Squire admitted.

I winced.

“Don’t say that,” I said, and he jumped in surprise. “Never say that.”

“I… apologize, Your Majesty?” he tried.

“There’s no surer way to get Fate to piss on your plans than calling them infallible,” I sharply said. “I once saw the Tyrant of Helike tip a winning fight the other way just by boasting about how godsdamned invincible he was.”

The little bastard had done it on purpose, but the point stood.

“Same goes for you,” I told the Apprentice, tone softening. “You lot won’t get your knuckles rapped as immediately as a villain making the same boast would, but there’s a reason that most heroes are intimately familiar with the concept of tragic irony.”

They both mumbled chastened agreements, and for a moment the entire situation felt like some sort of fever dream I’d stumbled into. Hakram, ever a prince among men, delivered me from that unsettling sensation.

“We’re due for a show soon, so I’d keep your eyes on the sky,” Adjutant gravelled. “Our ram is about to strike.”

I cocked my head to the side, taking a sniff from the air, and nodded in agreement. Yeah, I could feel it too. Like a storm in the making.

“I’d not heard about the Volignac men taking siege weapons with them,” Arthur said, sounding surprised. “The opposite, in fact. The sappers were vocally disapproving.”

Which usually meant insulting deeply limericks, if they were feeling nice.

“While I mean no insult to the siegecraft of the Army of Callow, rams and trebuchets won’t dent a structure enchanted the way the Ivory Gates were,” the Apprentice said. “I am told the foundational enchantments were laid by the famous wizard Yvon de Grandpré himself. The gates were made beyond decay and strength of arms, Your Majesty, so mere engines could do nothing.”

She paused.

“Unless the Rogue Sorcerer is sent out,” Sapan added. “He is a noted spellbreaker.”

“The enchantments don’t actually make the gate unbreakable, Apprentice,” I noted.

In the abstract, according to Trismegistan principles it was possible to achieve but the degree of power and precision required would be impossible. Akua had noted that ‘physical invincibility’, as she had termed it, would require an empire’s worth of sorcery simply to empower a handkerchief. And that was just the formula itself, never touching the trickier issue of materials: almost every substance known to us would shatter under that kind of strain, or some cases be outright disintegrated. And while Jaquinite magic did work in some wonky and counter-intuitive ways – it was godsdamned ridiculous that imitating the cadence and syllables of certain passages of the Book of All Things should empower and stabilize a spell – its fundamental limits weren’t actually too different from those of Trismegistan sorcery.

“There’s protections against entropies – rust, erosion, rot – and the centrepiece is the famous ‘dual enchantment’ that made Yvon famous,” I said.

Famous mostly to avid scholars of magic, but I did have a distressing amount of those in my circle of closest friends.

“The strengthening of material and the reflection of force,” Apprentice admiringly said.

Basically what good ol’ Yvon whatshisname had done was he’d made the gates and surrounding stonework denser than those materials actually were, which in practice made them much tougher. But that wouldn’t be enough to actually stop something like, say, a wyrm if the construct decided it really wanted to go through those gates. So another enchantment, bound to the other one – that was the impressive part, supposedly, since it ensured that since the magics were linked they’d never clash and erode at each other – had been laid that reflected physical impacts when they struck at the Ivory Gates. There was a hard limit to how much power could be reflected, but it’s still been very clever: a trebuchet stone tossed at the Ivory Gates would actually lose a lot of its momentum from the reflection, so it wouldn’t be powerful enough to dense the denser materials.

It also gave a pale sheen to the materials when they were touched by light at certain angles, which had earned them the eventual name of ‘Ivory Gates’.

Masego had noted the pairing to be quite clever, allowing the enchantments to effectively replicate the effects of much stronger spells for significantly less power expended – meaning there’d be a lot less decay in the magic over the years. The enchantments would have faded some over the years, of course, that was their nature. It was why both Praesi and my people usually preferred wards when it came to permanent defences. Wards were a set boundary forcing certain properties onto Creation and requiring a physical anchor, but they were also static. So long as the anchor was undamaged, any idiot with magic could add magic into the wards to keep them going. Enchantments, on the other hand, were an investment of sorcery into matter to achieve specific properties.  Eventually that initial investment of sorcery would fade, and while the enchantment could be restored by another mage it was kind of like repainting a faded painting.

Unless you had a mage of similar or superior talent who understood exactly how that initial enchantment worked and what it meant to do, then there were going to be imprecisions and those were going to keep accumulating and diluting the original effect.

“Yup,” I said. “We figure that since it’s been about two hundred years since those enchantments were laid there’s got to be at least six to ten major imprecisions from patch-up jobs by other wizards. Most of those are bound to be centred about the ‘reflection’ enchantment, since it’s the most abstract and difficult of the two.”

“You lost me some time back, Your Majesty,” the Squire admitted.

Fair enough. At his age I’d not more or less fuck all about magic too. The wind began to pick up around us, as far away in the distant sky red eddies of power rippled. Among them I could seen a faint dot around which the eddies were concentrated.

“There we go,” I said, pointing at the dot. “Here’s our ram.”

“Nothing that small could break the gates,” the Apprentice skeptically said.

The Squire laughed.

“I’d heard about this,” Arthur Foundling said. “But I didn’t actually think it was true.”

The heroine shot him an irritated look and I took pity on her.

“It’s not a thing,” I said. “It’s a person.

She started in surprise.

“That’s insane, who could actually-”

The eddied of pulsing red contracted, spinning on themselves, and with a deafening detonation the Mirror Knight was shot down at the Ivory Gates at a speed that would have been enough to shred most Named to pieces. Unfortunately we didn’t have a great angle from where we stood, so we didn’t get to see him hit the gates, but there was a heartbeat of silence and then a detonation even louder than the last as all seven of the Ivory Gates went up in a cloud of stone and smoke and power.

“What?” Sapan croaked out. “What?”

“The Mirror Knight has an aspect related to reflection,” I mildly said. “So when that nifty little enchantment reflects force outwards, it just goes right back.”

“That was enough for an explosion?” the Squire asked, impressed.

“Aspects are finicky creatures, as you will learn,” Adjutant gravelled. “In this case, after study the Grey Pilgrim determined that not only does the aspect slightly raises force before reflecting it but, by one of those caprices of Names, it counts every ‘threat’ individually.”

We’d lost Arthur again, but the young girl gasped.

“Yeah,” I coldly smiled. “So each of those patch-up jobs tacked onto that original reflection enchantment counted like a different ‘threat’ to reflect, and since they all drew on the same investment of power the Mirror Knight ended up hitting maybe six seven times harder than he should have because of that heartbeat of reflection games. Comparable to being hit by a mountain in the shape of a man, I’m told.”

So Christophe de Pavanie had shredded the enchantment trying to contain him with that excess of force, which in turn had unwoven the enchantment that was bound to that reflection enchantment – the density one. With that suddenly coming loose, massive force and a bunch of sorcery bursting out the results were the plume of smoke and gravel going the better part of a mile upwards.

“That’s really neat,” the Squire said.

“And completely insane,” the Apprentice heatedly added.

“Look, over the years a lot of people are going to tell you that something always wins,” I said. “Power, cleverness, brute strength, preparations. And it’s all bullshit.”

I jutted a thumb at the desolation we’d dealt in about the time it took to boil a kettle of water.

“That looks like the work of two Named,” I said, “but that’s all it is, a look. It took half a dozen people to achieve that. The Mirror Knight and the Witch of the Woods went through the fact, but behind that? It was the Pilgrim that figured out the peculiarities of the aspect. It was the Rogue Sorcerer that was familiar with the enchantments, and the Hierophant that ran the numbers so we were sure that the gates would be smashed without it killing the Mirror Knight. And it’s not just Named, either.”

I leaned forward.

“Princess Beatrice was the one who was able to tell us how many times the enchantments would have gotten worked on, and how good the wizards paid for would have been,” I said. “Without that, the rest was just air.”

“So what does win?” Arthur Foundling quietly asked.

“Nothing,” I said. “There is no single thing that gets you there, Squire. No one has the skills to do it all on their own – even my teacher, a man who spent his entire life learning how to twist and turn stories, got his heart ripped out in the Free Cities because he was facing someone who just… knew more. You want to know what the trick is?”

I shrugged.

“Don’t do it alone.”

I gestured at the smoke again.

“See, maybe I could have battered down those gates using Night,” I said, “and maybe the Witch of the Woods could have ripped them off the ground, tossed them up in the sky. Maybe the White Knight could have carved his way through with Light, or the Rogue Sorcerer broken the enchantments and so an assault could follow. All of those answers, though, would have cost us in some way.”

I forced myself to refocus on the pair instead of simply the orphan watching me as if spellbound, the Ashuran mage studying me closely as well.

 “So instead half a dozen people sat down, kids,” I told them, “and talked. Shared skills, shared powers, shared knowledge. And then we smashed those fucking gates without losing a single soldier.”

I let that sink in for a moment.

“It’s a big world,” I said. “There’s more than one pair of shoulders keeping it from falling. You don’t have to do it all alone.”

In the distance, a banner rose. A golden griffin rampant on blue, crowned by three golden daffodils. And under the ancient banner of House Volignac boots hit the ground at the bottom of the ramp leading up to the smoking gates, the men and women who’d fled this place with bitter tears three years ago returning to the city they had lost.

Swords cleared scabbards, glimmering under the sun, and with a roar the last soldiers of Hainaut came home.


We held the city by midafternoon.

There were still undead in hiding, waiting to serve as spies and inside forces when the Dead King came to besiege us, but the streets were ours and we were combing the capital for the infiltrators house by house. When it’d became clear the fight was over the dead had turned to sabotage, lighting fires and fouling the Bassin Gris, but it’d been nothing unexpected. There’d been fires when the capital was first taken, so the most flammable of the neighbourhoods had already gone up in flames and the humid summer air meant it was not easy for the arson to spread. As for the great pool of water, we’d put our mages to purifying it under Hierophant and already there’d been measurable success. With constant rotations of mages for the ritual,  Zeze was confident that by dawn the pool would be fully restored.

Princess Beatrice gallantly offered to cede me the right to live in the ancient palace of her house, as I was the highest ranking noble and officer in the city, but I declined. I’d rather let her savour the comeback, and besides the place was too large for my comfort. I’d rather a smaller, more easily defensible place I could cover in layers of wards. I put Robber on the task, shaking him loose from Pickler – who was designing a replacement for the Ivory Gates with Akua and Roland as designated magical specialists – and was rather pleased with what he found me. It was a large guildhouse for what had been a guild of cheesemongers, with a small adjoining estate and two side wings. Well-located, in the southeast of the city but not too close or too far from the water.

Adjutant had begun rustling up mages to install wards and organizing guard watches before Robber even told me of the place, so I left it in his hands and instead headed to the open plaza that Princess Beatrice had suggested as the most fitting location for a Twilight Gate being raised. It’d been a good pick, exactly as the princess had described: Althazac Square was large and about as square-like as the name claimed. More importantly, it was located at the confluence of four major avenues, including the great street that circled through most of the capital like an unfinished ring. Supply wagons would be able to flow in without getting stuck in sidestreets. I sent a runner to give me agreement to the location, hoping the Blessed Artificer would be as up to it as she believed she would be.

I’d wanted Roland to be the one opening a gate, but he’d been quite firm in declining. Something about his talents being poorly suited to it. He’d seemed genuinely worried about the outcome, so I’d let it go. Masego and I had already forged a gate together and the Ways got… snippy when you tried to do it more than once, so like it or not Adanna of Smyrna was our best bet. I sent for her and we were discussing how long it would take her to begin the attempt – apparently a lot less than anticipated if healing priests and the Pilgrim leant a hand – when warning horns were sounded from the very same watchtower we’d taken that morning. An army approaching, it meant. I left the Artificer to it and saddled my horse, riding for the closest rampart and intercepting a report on my way. It was not an enemy army, I learned, but a surprise nonetheless. The Fourth Army, which should be at the Cigelin Sisters right now, had emerged from the Twilight Ways and was now approaching at a brisk pace.

 That much was already unexpected, but even more so a particular detail I picked out after limping my way to the edge of the rampart. There was a banner flying above the advancing vanguard of the Fourth that I knew well, for it was my own – the Sword and Crown. That was not unusual, as every host within the Army of Callow had received one such standard when first founded. This wasn’t a standard, though, but a formal banner.

Aside from me there was exactly one person alive that had the right to fly it, and her name was Vivienne Dartwick.

171 thoughts on “Chapter 72: Omen

      1. Miles

        So many flags in this chapter. The prophecy saying the only victor will be death, a statement of what could go wrong (but nothing did yet), both rulers in the same theater of the war… yeah.

        Only I don’t understand how Viv is supposed to have met up with Abigail, unless she was there the whole time.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. therealgridlock

            It’s also an extremely apt description of the graveyard of princes.

            And, since it’s described as describing past and future with no distinction… Maybe it’s both?

            Like

      1. Sir Nil

        Well, pretty much just figuring out all the limits and specific workings of something, then use it in an extremely specific way for great effect. Here it would be MK’s reflection aspect being a multiplier and reflecting each individual instance of the damage reflected by the Ivory Gates. Leading to the huge explosion. A better phrase might be Rules Lawyering the specific wording of an ability, but since most of the Aspects are pretty simple I feel like it hasn’t shown up till now.

        Liked by 9 people

        1. Eh … I mean, we know that Antigone, the Witch of the Woods already enjoyed her habit of using Mirror Knight as a projectile against undead constructs.

          That said, I think this is probably the first time we explicitly know that somebody did the math on the exact capabilities of a specific Aspect and the target for a specific operation.
          On the other hand … where is the line between between something like that and Cat’s lakeomancy and gating tricks (especially early on) or magical or Named rituals, especially those involving or interacting with Aspects going to be drawn?

          Actually, I suspect that Warlock’s Imbricate Aspect may have involved working out the math to use it to best effect, even if it was a shortcut. Unless it’s a different Aspect of his I’m thinking of. But we don’t know for sure.

          Liked by 7 people

          1. Sir Nil

            I meant in a way that’s less about maths but more about the specific interactions between two different things, that’s why I wouldn’t count Lakeomancy, it’s smart but it still only relies on one side doing gate tricks, similar to Warlock’s Imbricate which I recall overlapped different planes of creation and since it is just an upgraded version of Cat’s trick I wouldn’t count that. I’m more so thinking along the lines of them knowing how two different things would interact beforehand. They worked out MK’s and the Ivory Gate’s reflect would create an infinite loop until one side broke. Ritual casting I suppose could count but we haven’t gotten any specifics of that, like how specific aspects would work together when used in conjunction. Especially those not originally meant to be made to work together.

            Liked by 6 people

        2. Yeah, this interaction feels significantly more rules-lawyery than most. Normally an Aspect either has an obvious, hard limit (Rise works three times per day), or a vague “power supply” limit (Black gets exhausted if he tries to Lead too many people or Destroy something too big). This is the first time where the fine details have really mattered – someone sat down and asked “So, what counts as an ‘attack’ for the purposes of Reflect? Is it a single application of force? A force applied over a certain amount of time? Does Reflect have a limit on the number of hits it can reflect with one usage?”

          And even when you do understand the details, some Aspects are just not that amenable to rules-lawyering. For instance, Black has clearly sat down with his aspects and thought “Okay, Destroy works on one object, is it limited by size? Can I destroy sorcery as well? What about Hanno’s past lives, can I Destroy that?” but it all fits pretty well with the ordinary definition of “destroy.” No matter how much you rules-lawyer it, it’s only going to blow shit up. Here, we’ve got the Mirror Knight making an argument that *crashing into something* counts as an attack he can Reflect, which is a pretty damn impressive bit of rules-lawyering.

          Liked by 8 people

          1. The funny bit is, I think that’s the intended meaning of the Aspect, not a rules-lawyering. They’re abusing the hell out of it, but Mirror Knight was always about “fuck you, your eye doesn’t get to hit my fist back”.

            Liked by 4 people

          2. Zoolimar

            Actually crushing into the gates didn’t count as attack. Ivory Gates had multiple damage reflection enchantments pasted over each other. Total power of enchantments was more or less the same as it was initially but due to being done by different people Mirror Knight’s Aspect counted them as separate attacks and smacked them right back with sevenfold power.

            Liked by 5 people

              1. There might have been some bouncing between the Gate’s defensive magic and the Mirror Knight’s Reflect Aspect involved, each cycle increasing the amount of stain on each until the Gate’s defenses broke first.
                Depending. It’s not entirely clear whether it was just the one sequence or multiple cycles of mutual reflection and augmentation being iterated through.

                It doesn’t really make a difference either way. At least for this point in the story, though if it was multiple cycles, it’s possible that it’s a trick that could be useful and repeated against other targets.
                Assuming, of course, that there are targets worth using this trick on that have the same or a similar sort of vulnerability.

                Liked by 1 person

          3. Mithyc

            MK feels like he plays off of Newtonian physics in all honesty. It’s basically a magnified reaction combined with the reaction having minimal, if any, effect on him.

            Like

  1. Frivolous

    Very nice chapter.

    I note that of those heroes introduced to Arthur; Rogue Sorcerer, Apprentice, and Silver Huntress; two are women and the man is straight, so none of them would be a possible lover or rebound infatuation.

    Something I found in book 5, chapter 50: Sunset, that has a more sinister meaning now that we know Catherine can Speak again:

    “If you feel like you’re winning,” Indrani said, “the single stupidest thing you can do is let Catherine Foundling talk. Go on, Tariq. Before she turns it around on us.”

    From now on, fighting Catherine will involve in part keeping her silent so she can’t Speak at you. Though I wonder if Speaking works on the undead.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Bennett Palmer

      That isn’t how Speaking works. You need some sort of authority over someone to Speak at them. Unless Catherine has an aspect that effects how Speaking works, like Malicia does, she can only speak to gain control over subordinates just like anyone else.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Frivolous

        Catherine was able to Speak to the talking heads in the Tower. She had no authority over them, right?

        They were even undead, probably. As in, they were dead and still talking, so maybe.

        Liked by 9 people

        1. BritishTeaLover

          She was Named, which gives a level of authority over regular mortals, and she was the Squire to the Black Knight who served the Dread Empress, and had been summoned to the Tower. That connection would also give her authority, as she was one of the highest placed individuals in Praes at the time since the only people above her in the hierary were Black and Malicia.

          It could also be there’s a matter of willpower and conviction involved too.

          Liked by 8 people

      2. Frivolous

        Sorry for double posting, Bennett Palmer, but looking back at Eschatology, the relevant quote seems to be this:

        The rules behind Speaking were opaque even to me, but usually it only worked on people weaker than you. Even then it wasn’t a guarantee, some sort of claim to authority over them tended to make it easier.

        So authority over someone helps, but by Catherine’s assessment, it isn’t necessary.

        Liked by 13 people

      3. Composaurus

        Do you need actual authority? I can’t remember every instance of Speaking but I thought it was just a will contest, basically a “I am a larger piece in the story right now” stick to hit people with

        Liked by 5 people

      4. KageLupus

        But, when Cat spoke last chapter it had a mild effect on both the White Knight and the Grey Pilgrim. Neither of which could be considered to be her subordinates. So I take that as foreshadowing that her Name itself will be related to having authority over any and all names.

        The only way Cat could affect those two is if the groove she is wearing in Creation is “Someone who all Named have to listen to.”

        Liked by 6 people

          1. The creepy part is that she affected them without even TRYING to. They weren’t among the people shouting iirc, they were just sitting there. They got hit with an AoE side effect and it was still enough to affect them.

            Like

        1. Zedalb

          As the originator of the truce and terms that everyone is operating under one could make an argument that she has some amount of authority over all named.

          Also she does outrank the gray pilgrim though she’s not directly in his chain of command the organization they both willingly serve under she is superior in.

          The white night is trickier but I would still argue she wrote the terms and gave him a position that’s equal well she is also having greater political clout so she may not have a direct authority over him but she could be seen as an authority figure greater than him.

          It’s like they’re both Kings but she is of the more powerful prosperous country she doesn’t have authority over him but she has a power over him that leads to him needing to cater to her which is sort of an authority.

          Like

    2. antlan87

      Good question, especially as the skeletons do not have ears. Which raises the question, can you Speak to the deaf? Seems like the kind of loophole the gods would employ, like in a “no weapon forged/wielded by man” scenario.

      Liked by 7 people

    3. > the man is straight

      Did we have that explicitly stated, or are you drawing the conclusion that the one (1) romance we know of him having was with a girl?

      Though that’s irrelevant considering he’s also significantly older, and without him being a creep it’s infatuation only, and that… would not be impacted by him being straight.

      Also, we don’t actually know that Arthur is gay and not bi.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. ruduen

    Just a reminder to boost!
    http://topwebfiction.com/listings/a-practical-guide-to-evil/boost

    Amusingly enough, for scenes like this, it’s good that Cat has someone to discuss things with – I think that improves the chances of things going smoothly. If you can’t discuss it with someone, it means there needs to be something else filling the gap – and with a plan this ironed out, that means the story might fill things up with things going wrong.

    Liked by 11 people

      1. Ezario Gerion

        She is definitely becoming a mentor here. The Story of it is so strong that it strongarms her, even as she tells us that she doesn’t want to become a mentor.

        I think that this is Above planting seeds for her downfall. “Two bickering Heroes, apprentices to an older Villain, destined to join forces and cast her down.”

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I honestly think Catherine is overthinking it and neither is Above “plotting” anything (asksadfjlaksdfj;l) nor is this going to lead to her downfall. SHE WAS ABDICATING ALREADY THE SQUIRE HAS NO POWER OVER HER

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Sykomantis

            I’m thinking that she’s starting to get compulsions from her future Role as Headmistress of Cardinal. With that in mind, I think she should actually be LEANING IN to her desires to mentor others, because one reason that people become headmaster of schools is that they started out as great teachers

            Liked by 5 people

            1. I’m actually not sure at this point that Cat’s going to be the Headmistress of Cardinal, but she’s been in the role of Wise Elder (who is for some reason in her early twenties) since Everdark. And it’s great.

              Liked by 5 people

        2. Cicero

          Nah, it’s a subversion story. The greatest villain who founds the new age, mentors two heroes, who go on to make her new age into one that favors heroes instead of villains as first expected.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Oshi

      It might be a reminder that he has to work with people though. Catherine just gave a speech to the kids about it. He’s probably gotten the similar one from the Pilgrim. That it has to happen now and not when he was younger is embarrassing as fuck but there it is.

      Liked by 11 people

    2. Practicality

      I don’t believe that he’s going to mind once they walk him through the logic: He’s a hardcore Proceran nationalist, that admires sacrificing the few to save the many. By being a part of the assault they save time and lives, both are highly valuable and necessary. And it is honestly a too useful gimmick to neglect.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. Cicero

        He probably had an initial reaction of “not again” only to think about it some more and decide he really likes the idea. I mean, basically he got to be the key player who took a vital location in the reconquest of his homeland.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. mamm0nn

      Well alright Christophe, I guess we’ll go and ask Champion if she wants to do it. She’s always so cheerful and helpful about it…~

      Mirror Knight: Damn it. Fine, I’ll do it. *Glares at his living ammunition rival, the only rivalry he hasn’t woefully lost yet.*

      Liked by 7 people

  3. Big I

    The Squire and the Apprentice joking with each other in the middle of a war, how nostalgic.

    Damn that’s an ominous quote at the beginning of the chapter. Maybe they will lose this siege.

    I’m beginning to like the Squire, hope he doesn’t die and gets a chapter of his own.

    Liked by 12 people

    1. The opening quote seems to refer to the fall of Sephirah and the rise of the Kingdom of the Dead. The wolves are the ancient Lycaonese invading Sephirah fighting against the Neshemah’s siblings.

      In the end the victor was death, as the Dead King converted the entire population into undead.

      Liked by 17 people

  4. I think Apprentice and Squire being a duo works in Cat’s favor, as far as defense against stories goes, especially if they share the same pool of mentors and tutors. I’ve read the story it puts them in, but I can’t name it specifically. While it doesn’t remove them as a threat to her, it does set them up as something like lower champions. Basically, Cat gets to be the eccentric and blatantly sinister “aunt” character that gives solid but strange advice while the pair take down lower threats guided by reliable instruction from RS and SH. Their stories could turn sinister, which would make them a threat to Cat, but that only really becomes probable if she puppetmasters too hard. Hell, the fact that Cat plans on stepping down and going quietly actually plays into the story.

    Liked by 14 people

    1. Oshi

      The stry is one in our world though. I’m skeptical something that like has been done in Calerinia. besides that whatever else Cat may do she won’t be leaving th stage just swapping roles.

      Like

      1. Yeah, but the role she’s promised to take as of the Villainous summit was as a broker and guarantor, which is typically a Villain that even Heroes leave be. It’s probably enough of a sidestep to dodge some of the more dangerous parts and possibly force some aspects of the story into place.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. > The stry is one in our world though.

        It’s born out of basic rules of drama though: what gets to be the center stage, what gets to be the antagonistic force, what gets to be the tension.

        Frankly, with Catherine’s impending abdication, even straight up mentorship of the Squire would not really be a death flag for her: it’d have a very specific expiration date, and long before Squire was ready to stand on his own.

        Liked by 4 people

              1. Squire needs to squire for Vivienne while learning from Cat. This sets up a dynamic that is way too interesting as such to lead to any of their deaths any time soon, and with Cat leaving for Cardinal after the war it’s going to transition into a “how the fuck do we manage all of THIS without our teacher” story without any deaths involved.

                Liked by 8 people

        1. I’m not convinced that abdicating removes the risk of mentor-related death. There are a lot of stories where the mentor’s been out of the picture for a while and then gets ganked immediately upon returning. Under that hypothesis the abdication just kicks the can down the road.

          Liked by 5 people

          1. In the scenario I presented, abdication doesn’t so much remove her as a mentor as it does shift her story. She goes from dark teacher, to the mob boss “relative” the otherwise straight laced cop (Squire into whatever Knight Name he takes or possibly even Apprentice) turns to in desperate times. It still could force her into a sacrifice, but it at least buys a few decades.

            Liked by 4 people

    2. erebus42

      Potentially it could turn against her if both stick around enough to be considered her student but one of each transitions into a Hero and Villain respectively. Then she’d be in danger and they’d both get pushed into a story of former fellow student’s turned enemies.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. erebus42

          They’re young and you never in what directions chance is gonna push people. That’s thing about transitory Names though, there’s so many things they can grow into.

          Liked by 3 people

              1. How is “Guide” an authoritative name?

                Also, no-one has ever referred to Catherine as that or described any part of what she’s doing as “guiding”.

                You’re right I’m not 100% certain, I’m… about 80% certain. I’m 99.999(9)% certain about it not being Practical Guide, though -_-

                Like

                1. A Guide is the person you follow, the one who tells you want to do or where to go. It’s not the same kind of authority as a queen has, but disobeying the guide in many cases… is just being stupid.

                  Pretty much as soon as she got out from Amadeus’s shadow, Cat’s been pulling people into her orbit… and reshaping them to varying degrees, though often with a light touch. She’s surrounded by people who are powerful enough that she can’t in fact give them orders unless they’re willing to obey — and yet, somehow she consistently sets the tune.

                  Even folks like Cordelia, Pilgrim, and Hanno would have done a lot better if they *had* done what she told them earlier. And now of course, she actually has a pair of youngsters to guide….

                  Liked by 1 person

  5. dadycoool

    So she gets the Squire after all. Big I raises a good point above me about the Squire and the Apprentice messing around while in the general vicinity of a big event. Arthur has so, so many parallels with Cat that I’m not at all convinced he’ll stay on the side of Above. After all, the Black Knight position is open. Then again, Cat didn’t go the normal Squire to Knight route, so he probably won’t either.

    I see that the tried and true method of “Witch throwing MK at it” is still considered a viable option.

    Vivienne? Is the Woe about to be reunited again? How many red flags can we raise at once? Also, maybe more importantly, why is she here?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Oshi

      If Hakram doesn’t die then i expect the woe won’t either. I think the climax of the book is set for just around Thanksgiving this year with a half month or more of denouement. Whatever it is, I think its gonna be big.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Konstantin von Karstein

      Black Knight is a specifically Praesi Name, with a Praesi Story. Cat could have become one because Callow, was part of the Empire at the time, but it’s no more the case. Arthur could become a Villain (which I doubt), but certainly not the Black Knight.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Ben

        Cat has heard the song (the Girl Who Climbed the Tower, I think?) that presages someone potentially becoming the Empress of Praes, unless I got really confused somewhere along the way. People have been speculating about her getting some sort of new name giving her specific authority over Named in general, but if she somehow swerves and tries to climb the Tower then maybe Arthur could get dragged along somehow. But that’s pretty damn speculative, I’ll grant you.

        Like

  6. erebus42

    Dammit Arthur! I know you’re still in training wheels but still, it’s really just common sense to never say shit like that.
    Careful Cat, you may not be a mage but there are plenty of stories where a master has two apprentices -especially when events unfold and have each apprentice on a different side of divide (say hero and villain)- both of their names are transitory after all…

    Liked by 7 people

    1. caoimhinh

      Yeah, and those cases are always dangerous for the teacher, because the typical way of those stories are that one disciple kills the master and the other disciples avenges the teacher.
      So Cat shouldn’t get comfy in that role of having two pupils.

      Liked by 6 people

  7. Xinci

    Well that was a lovely reminder on a lot of mechanics.
    Good to see Cat has fully embraced that methodological frameworks don’t actually have a size limit in what they can include and what entities can be part of their formulation. Would be no point in having souls and multiple different methods per individual,monster,entity, dimension,etc if you only needed one. Each part a weight on the scales in the end

    Also for all of those earlier statements that the Book of All Things may just not be true, it definitely looks like its words are binding(suspected as much with the knights armor). I wonder what entity or entities made it binding when it first got written. Well or if it was even it first being written that made it binding instead of some collective decision.

    Some more information on enchantments and enchantments is useful. Helps reinforcewhy Tariq noted similarities between miracles and wards. Both are reinforcing specific dimensional properties, but miracles presumably need no anchor as they are natural to Creation and or have a direct line to reinforcing that order(not that, the form of how they do this cant be usurped). I am still rather curious on the nature of the twinned enchantments. Seems like it possibly worked by the force being used to “increase” density also being what was used to mitigate and reflect foreign forces acting on the gate? Which would be pretty clever

    Wonder if Roland is worried about confiscating something while he makes the gate, or if its just the whole process would go against his role(Though Adanna being able to do it, makes it seem like a proper method could be used). Probably a issue in him not actually having his own magic I suppose. Might taint the gate with the magic of those one would rather not have access to such power.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. My wild speculation is, it’s that Twilight requires a mage to commit their power to one (1) gate. Going more than once is cheating. Using someone else’s power would allow you to go more than once and is therefore also cheating. Roland doesn’t have his own power to commit, and he really doesn’t want to do something Twilight would regard as cheating.

      Liked by 5 people

  8. Viv showing up is something I didn’t expect to happen.
    On the other hand, it was probably inevitable that the Woe would be properly reunited at some point.

    Squire and Apprentice learning together is a good thing because it helps lay the foundations for Named being instructed by various people, as will be an essential part of Cardinal.

    Plus, it’s a helluva lot safer to answer their questions than to be the Villain withholding knowledge.
    In addition, Cat’s going to have to do some teaching of/imparting knowledge and understanding to Arthur to make sure he understands why she’s not rebuilding the Callowan Knightly Orders as they existed before ther Conquest, so that he doesn’t decide to try to do that despite all the very good reasons she didn’t, and Viv won’t.

    Heh. Witch of the Woods is using Mirror Knight as a projectile again. I bet she still enjoys it, and doesn’t think it’s going to ever get old.
    Especially after his dumbassery at the Arsenal, where he cut up Hanno (who we’re pretty sure she’s interested in, or at least that’s implied). Hanno may not hold a grudge, or says he doesn’t, but I’m willing to bet that she’s not as forgiving of Mirror Knight.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. caoimhinh

      I will just point out that it’s not implied Antigone is interested in Hanno, just that the two are close because they share a background related to an apprenticeship under the Gigantes, and they speak to each other using the Gigantes’ silent body language.

      It’s likely that the people around them ship them or believe them to have a relationship, much like Tariq (and maybe others) initially thought that Hanno and Cat had a thing.

      When Nephele implied that Antigone had a thing for Hanno, he mentally stated that as false, as apparently the language they use conveys such nuances and they have firmly stated the boundaries of their friendship.

      Of course, he could be wrong. And one of the stereotypes of stories is the hero not realizing someone has feelings for him until a long time later or fate forces a confession out of the partner, so there’s that…

      Liked by 8 people

      1. True. We don’t actually know for sure if Antigone is interested in Hanno or not … and I kind of doubt that Hanno is necessarily reliable. After all, assuming that she is interested, it’s unlikely there was a love at first sight situation – which means that they started out acquaintances, became friends, and then Antigone got interested, but hasn’t made a move to indicate that her feelings have deepened, because there’s been no indicators that Hanno’s have changed in the same way. She may feel that it’s better to not tell him and not risk their existing relationship.

        Though even if Antigone isn’t romantically interested in Hanno, she’s still fond of him and considers him a good friend. And I get the feeling that she doesn’t have that many people she calls friend.
        That would be more than sufficient grounds to enjoy using Mirror Knight as a projectile even more than she already does. Forever.

        Liked by 7 people

      1. Indeed, but later, when it’s not so much a problem. Specifically, when all that lesser nobility making up the orders are folks who were raised by the throne and enculturated to loyalty, rather than formerly-independent sovereigns absorbed by conquest.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. I think Viv’s position is going to be a lot closer to Cat’s when it comes to how the Knightly Orders are going to exist and function in Callow going forward.

        Remember, the reason the Orders were originally broken up was to prevent their quasi-independent military might, drawn largely from the ranks of the nobles, from being able to be a single, unified, voice and influence in politics.

        The Order Of Broken Bells is, IIRC, sworn directly to Cat in her position as ruler of Callow and integrated into and subordinate to the command structure of the (mostly) apolitical Army of Callow, itself largely copied directly from the post-Amadean-Reforms Legions of Terror, where the nobles had no influence.

        Point is, Arthur has expressed interest in restoring the pre-Conquest version of the Knightly Orders … which is a thing that I’m pretty sure won’t be happening. Cat’s brought back Callowan Knights, but not the pre-Conquest separate and independent Orders, and I don’t see Viv changing that any time soon, if ever.

        Liked by 6 people

        1. Cultural demands are a signfiicant political argument, though.

          People are going to want to see a multitude of knightly orders, bonus points if they’ve got the same names as the old ones. There’s a lot to be gained from wranging a reorganization of Broken Bells into technically-multiple-orders without compromising the military advantages of the curret structure, and I don’t think it’s at all impossible.

          Arthur is just the early bird of that cultural wave, and honestly it’s a good thing they are getting the warning now!

          Liked by 3 people

          1. That’d easy enough to bypass – they’re all the same order, but the primary subdivision is the chapter – which is roughly equivalent in size to the immediately pre-Conquest Orders.
            And internal organization was modeled on the old Orders by Talbot.

            If you want to reuse the pre-Conquest Order names, just use them to label the various Chapters of the Order.

            The fundamental point of Cat (and Viv) keeping the Order of Broken Bells as the only Knightly Order, and part of the Army of Callow, and sworn to the Crown of Callow, is to prevent future problems.
            Separated Orders means complicating the chain of command, and letting there be one or more independent Orders is going to get a hard no, as significant military forces not under the control of the Army of Callow or the government of Callow is not going to happen, because that’s a recipe for trouble waiting to happen.

            Liked by 4 people

  9. Juff

    Typo Thread:

    point of thumb > point of a thumb
    “It is grand city > “It is a grand city
    shared of experience > shared experience
    seen anyone > see anyone
    coin anything > coin on anything
    into front of us even > in front of us, even
    into total isolation > in total isolation
    the Silver Huntress (extra space)
    in our out > in or out
    gating in soldier > gating in soldiers
    or some cases > or in some cases
    famous ‘dual enchantment’ that made Yvon famous (should remove the first famous)
    but it’s still > but it’d still
    dense the denser (dent?)
    most abstract > more abstract
    I’d not more > I’d known more
    could seen > could see
    “It’s a person. > “It’s a person.”
    slightly raises force > slightly raise force
    six seven > six to seven
    force and a bunch of sorcery bursting out > force, and a bunch of sorcery bursting out,
    through the fact (not sure what this means)
    “So instead half a (extra space in front)
    give me agreement (is this right?)
    That much was already unexpected (extra space in front)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Woe reunion Woe reunion WOE REUNION

    We didn’t get a proper one in the Arsenal because of Harkam being indisposed and depending on if you count her, Akua not being there NOW IS THE TIME HYPE HYPE HYPE HYYYYYPE

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Eh, I’m sure that Indrani and Masego will just go hang out elsewhere and we’ll never get that reunion. After all, which is the stronger story: “the band gets back together for one big hurrah” or, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me this is better, “an endless game of phone tag”?

      Liked by 8 people

      1. Earl of Purple

        No point. If that’s what he could do against the enchantment on the gate without artificial help, they aren’t needed. And adding some to ‘just make sure’ wouldn’t be accepted, either. Cat can’t replace the goblin munitions easily any more, since the civil war in Praes and the situation in Foramen and the Grey Eyries make resupply functionally impossible. The only munition that could have had an affect is goblinfire, and there’s no way they’re using that in Procer.

        Liked by 3 people

  11. Guess you can’t have the pivotal battle of the war without all the main characters being there. Cat will have to do some crazy thinking to dodge the “band reunites for a last stand” trope.

    It would be suicidal but I really want a scene where all the Woe is sitting around a campfire, just like when Procer was invading. They really do seem like a special band of five. Doubt it’s going to happen but a man can dream.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Aotrs Commander

    Finally a task which is intellectually suited to Mirror Knight!

    (It’s be too much to hope for it will knock some sense into him, of course…)

    Also, Arthur does seem to be a bit of Smaller Cat, doesn’t he…?

    Liked by 7 people

  13. laguz24

    A city of seven gates is this Hainaut or Gondolin here, also a moment of badassery from Mirror Knight. He wishes that he did all of it himself which runs counter to cat’s thinking where you need other people, Mirror Knight does not get the difference between friendship and being used as a tool. Since he is such a tool himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. JRogue

    Has it been specifically stated that the Squire only becomes the Black or White Knight? We already know of a few other “Knight” names, like Knight Errant and Mirror Knight I am pretty sure there was a Drake-Knight or something similar. All of the Paladins are technically knights as well. There is also always the possibility of a new Name which has happened a lot recently.

    As has been stated, I believe that the Black Knight is a Praes only name, although Below, by its very nature, is more than willing to break the rules. Hanno is either setting up to transition into a new Name, or will have an epiphany that transcends him at an important story moment, and then most likely kills him. As has been mentioned over and over Arthur has Hero written all over him.

    Could Squire conceivably become a different “Knight”?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Considering that Name transitions can go fuckwild if you deviate from the archetype anyway, and depend on what’s really happening with you – your Role – rather than what has happened to your predecessors, – yes. Yes, he could.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. ‘Could Squire conceivably become a different “Knight”?’
      Absolutely, yes he can. This is all the long con by the Bard. The Squire, working with both Hanno and Cat, firmly with morals on the side of good and having had his life saved multiple times by the works of evil, and with the Grey Pilgrim right there as an exemplar, will become the Gray Knight. And thus the terms and accords will be smashed because there’s now a new Neutral side.

      Like

    1. And that’s why she’s going to die. She kept thinking, “I don’t want to be their mentor. I don’t want to be their mentor. I don’t… oh, hey, let me give you all a valuable lesson that will lay the foundation for everything you do in the future while waxing rhapsodic…”

      Like

  15. IDKWhoitis

    I think Cat should take the mentorship. Her paranoia is well founded, but if she can directly influence the next generation of major Heroes, it will set a solid foundation. Heroes in the future won’t need to be the strongest, or the fastest, they will need to be clever and know the shortcuts to counter the kinds of villains that will sprout and fester in the Age of Order. The villains will adapt by themselves and they would likely reject the notion of Cat mentoring some kid villain (they would try to assassinate them).

    However, if Cat can implant some deep pragmatism and awareness of consequences into the next Callowan White Knight, then I shudder to think of what Callow becomes. It goes from being a scrotched backwater country into the foremost Named Superpower in terms of influence and sway it would hold in Named politics.

    Liked by 6 people

  16. Frivolous

    Hmm. Occurred to me last night that Vivienne might have arrived because she acquired a Name. If she gained a Name, she’d have to go to Catherine to sign onto the Truce and Terms.

    After all, she’s been the only Callowan princess for 2 years. She won’t be the Shining Princess, though. She’s not a hero, I think. She might be the Shadow Princess.

    The argument against that is that someone would have noticed Vivienne’s Name coalescing during her visit to the Arsenal.

    Anyway, it’s a thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Earl of Purple

      Who says she’s not a hero? She was as Thief. And Callow still generates hero Names, Alfred’s enough for that. Say it is Shadow Princess, though, that could be a subtle enough Name that it lurked without anyone noticing until it was ready, like Thief did.

      Liked by 3 people

  17. Rathalos

    Oh gods. We have a Squire, we have an Apprentice. We have the Heroic version of Archer and a Villain’s Name that turned out to be Heroic (opposite of Vivi’s) (vide Roland’s extra chapters)… And it’s a Rogue/Thief themed, too! Now we only need 200 pounds of muscle (maybe MK?) and we’ll have the Third Calamities.
    Damn.

    Like

  18. Ben Serreau-Raskin

    Cat: “I can’t let myself become a mentor to this kid because his story could be dangerous to me.”
    Also Cat: “I’m going to teach this kid exactly my villain mentor taught me, by carefully exposing him to people and advice that will make him helpful to my cause while avoiding any villain traps by making sure it’s legitimately helpful. In no way will this result in a parental relationship with an underlying threat of prophesied parent killing.”

    Liked by 2 people

  19. So, the strategic situation as I understand it is that unless they endure(and preferably, break) this siege they’re proposing to get involved in, they’re not going to have a reasonable chance to reach the lakes and get the Gigantes wards up, nor a chance to take the bridge site, nor much of a chance to ever strike at Keter.

    I need to go reread the section where Cat was trying to plan out this campaign, because I’m laboring under the probably-mistaken impression that they had a need to take the bridge thuus campaign, I might be mistaken, maybe just getting closer is fine, and if they can break the seige before the end of campaigning season, and simultaneously build up a store of supplies for a further thrust later in the season they might still be fine for that.
    Also I guess Hainaut city would be a valuable forward base from which to try to do that in the winter campaigning season, or they can still try infiltrating a small force to do it and accepting the risk of a trap.
    The real issue is that I can’t see why they’re certain this won’t end up like another seige of the Morgentor and hold them up for the rest of the season. Maybe that conclusion is based on the relative numbers of forces? Or on the force they have in the potential siege’s rear area? But what do they do if the Dead King decides to hold back a lot in his attack, circumvalate and wait for bridge-transported reinforcements of a higher quality in the next campaigning season before he makes his serious attempt to storm the walls?

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  20. jesdynf

    Seriously? Nobody else is going to call her out for rules-lawyering her way past a two-hundred-year-old enchantment and then allowing fate to guide her to the mightiest throne cheese has built upon the continent?

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  21. Bargle Nawdle Zouss

    A couple of s thoughts:

    1. I’m kinda hoping that the new Page joins the group with Squire and Apprentice. He’d be the annoying kid brother to both, and add more international flavor (Callowan, Ashuran, Proceran, respectively), with a bit of hero worship of Arthur.

    2. How could there have been such a powerful wizard as Yvon de Grandpre 200 years ago, if mages had primarily been looked down upon in Procer for so long until Cordelia Hasenbach created the mage order (whose name escapes me at the moment; the Red Lions, perhaps)?

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    1. Earl of Purple

      1) Me too.
      2) Because even though they were looked down on and distrusted, they’re still wizards. Their abilities and powers are very, very useful, and if you own a city you will probably want to be sure that the city is proof from magic, just in case your enemies come at you with magic. And priests won’t do that because that could be seen as favouritism within the House of Light, which is a political power bloc in its own right in Procer.

      Liked by 1 person

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