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WIP A Practical Guide to Evil by Erraticerrata - T - Original Fantasy

Discussion in 'Original Fiction' started by DvorakQ, Apr 14, 2016.

  1. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    Just read Swan Song and oh boy. Wow. Um, taking a moment to process this--I felt before and still feel now that how the whole Akua plotline was wrapped up was...random, in a lot of ways. For the amount of time spent on it, it didn't seem like a logical or satisfying conclusion, to have it wrapped up the way it was, though I suppose it technically isn't wrapped up, what with her soul still unaccounted for. Looking back, it very much feels like the last chapter happened solely to get us to this one already.

    Having said that, it did get us to this chapter, and goddamn was it a powerful chapter. A bunch of things that were a long time coming finally came to a head, as Cat clashed with Malicia over this whole mess and the costs Callow's had to face, hashing something out between them--but, more than that, Black and Malicia argue about their methods. And, horrible though both methods are, you can see the logic, the points that both have to make. Malicia fears the armies Procer brings, the forces it has arrayed, and more, believing that if they fail or even fight, everything they've built will burn in the process. The Crusades are something they cannot face as they are, especially with the heroes that will no doubt back it. War with half the continent is risky fucking business for them at best.

    But Black's point is just as good--this whole mess killed hundreds of thousands to build a superweapon that can beam permanent Hellgates into the heart of any major country on the continent--it's a sword held over the heads of millions and even if Malicia says she won't use it, who can believe that? And even if people believe it, who's to say they can trust the next madman to come along with it? It will bring down a heroic response, and not in small numbers; every hero on the continent who finds out about this is immediately doing to go to war, including the one's who'd been doubting and waiting. And even if this avoided a Crusade in the short term, the moment the sword over everyone's heads is gone, every country is going to go to war with Praes. And what's worse, they don't really understand or control the weapon. THat's bad news.

    And yet this 'solution' does not help either. Even leaving aside the consequences Keagen mentioned about what would happen if all the souls were unleashed--something like burning down a third of Callow, IIRC?--getting rid of it like this throws everything straight to hell, burns a lot of bridges, and, perhaps worst of all, leaves them all in that shitty situation with nothing to show for it. Six armies broken, the heart of the South torn out, quite possibly the South burnt down because of this, war on it's way, and the biggest reason to call for a Crusade in living memory--and they have nothing to show for any of it.

    It's a massive clusterfuck and the Bard wrecked everyone casually with, like, three sentences a month ago. Wow.
     
  2. FriedIce

    FriedIce Seventh Year

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    Honestly, I think Black has the right of this. Even if you believe that Praes wants nothing more than to stay in its corner and eat Calowen food (which no one will - thank Triumphant for that) that only holds true under Malicia. The second Malicia gets replaced, and she will eventually, you have a new Dread Empress who will have a completely different set of drivers. You're gambling on the rationality and moderation of the ruling class of Praes. There's always the risk that a successor will decide to go a-conquering.

    Praes having a weapon of this magnitude is too much of a threat and every hero, every deniable band of miscreants, hell even a lot of the villains will be drawn to it. For years. Its too much of a threat for them to do otherwise.

    The weapon needed to be destroyed.

    Kudos to Erratice for building a world where we can actually have realistic conversations about comparative risk and the balance of power.
     
  3. Touzb

    Touzb Squib

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    Previously I posted that I want shit to get real and, oh well.. it's getting real, so I can't complain too much. Even if the Akua plotline by itself feels somewhat unsatisfying.
     
  4. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    Oh, I'm letting it go for the moment because of the massive, sprawling implications of this shitstorm are even more interesting than what I thought of for Akua's whole mess, but it was absolutely unsatisfying. When you get down to it, we had two books of Akua as a secondary antagonist constantly causing problems and being a huge bitch, only for her to step into the role of main/major antagonist in Book 3 and get a lot of build up. She commits crimes against Humanity, kicks off vast conflicts, gets Cat to swear an oath of bloody vengeance and death and rage, and it leads into a huge, sprawling conflict. Six Legions gather and are nearly broken, a portal to Hell is torn in the world, three demons appear, the Calamities and the Woes fight side by side, and Cat and Black team up to invade her fortress and take her down. In the end, Cat is making her way towards Akua's throne, killing everything in her path, and is faced with a test of her very nature. She gets through it and she and Akua clash, putting their wits and preparations to the test, and Cat's one step ahead as she leads Akua on and crosses over into Arcadia--but in doing so, she's mad a mistake. Her power is turned against her, her past mistakes undermine her, the weight she twisted and shrugged off now weighs her down, and Cat is defeated. She's put in a seemingly unwinnable situation and all the ways out look to spell doom for her and she's struggling to even think of a way out--

    --And now we're done with that plotline; don't worry about the details, Black handled it all off-screen. Moving on.

    Wait, what?
     
  5. Touzb

    Touzb Squib

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    Very well summarized.

    Now, in the heat of the moment, so to speak, it is unsatisfying. Hopefully new developments will be interesting enough to make this seem a small misstep in retrospect. The clean break I wanted seems to be upon us.

    That said, this Black/Malicia/Catherine spar could have happened even after an interesting Cat/Akua resolution and there would be no missteps to make up for.
     
  6. Xarlor

    Xarlor First Year

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    I think the abrupt end of Akua was part of her story. The whole time before it was always stated, that the old ways do not work, they only make a mess before they die. That was the whole point.

    Akua did create her mess and that mess might break Black and/or Malicia depending on how the next choices go, which is quite a big mess. As far as I understood it, the only reason she managed to defeat and bind Cat was, the cheated fourfold crossing in which Black meddled. Without that Cat may have won outright. And like Cat stated earlier her story is that her soldiers and Callow pay for her mistakes rarely Cat herself. And in the End even with Black shaking Akua and therefore weakening the binding, Cat had to pay the price with her soul and become a half Fairy winter something, to get such a clean win. She may have won without, but lost Thief or something else. But that is not what happened Diabolist died to the equivalent of at least a princess of winter in the fullness of her power, with her mainway of dealing with such gone.

    It was stated that Cat is now as strong as a prince or princess of the courts, additionally she has her name or what remained of it, thief and the story on her side how should have Diabolist fought that? It was stated that Akua made it about names the second, she opened the hell portal. And there she was outnumbered 8 to 1. It would have been alot stranger in my opinion if she could have beaten those odds, since that is not her story.

    So I wouldn't say that it was disappointing or a mistake, it was simply the way the villians of old go, and all the real problems still remain.
     
  7. Nazgus

    Nazgus Headmaster

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    It's not about Akua not being defeated, it's that having Cat be an uninformed pawn in Black's plan undermines Cat's development. The start of the fight, with Cat considering the ramifications of the tempo and how many moves she has to win within was one of my favorite scenes so far. It very clearly showcased all of Cat's growth, and painted her as someone who could stand on her own two feet.

    To have her screw up and be bound was also fine, because it showed she's not at Black's level of outthinking and planningfor her opponents perfectly, but to have that growth stand, she had to make it out of it by herself. And that's not what happened. It's not even Black managing to improvise, or a contingency coming into play that distracts Akua enough for Cat's contingency of Thief stealing the binding to come into play.

    Instead, we get shown that Black knew this was a great risk if Akua went into Arcadia, but didn't warn Cat. He chose instead to use Cat as a pawn in his scheme to win, and while it did get them the win, it shits on the growth we thought we'd seen. As it turns out, that wasn't Cat planned ahead and executing beautifully. It was Cat blinding stumbling into a trap so Black's plan could go ahead. It weakens Cat's confrontation with Malicia and Black after the fight, because we just saw she doesn't come close to standing as an equal in that circle, she's still seated at the kiddie table.

    Overall love Swan Song, but the way we got there was really poorly done imo.
     
  8. Stealthy

    Stealthy Slug Club Member

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    I guess I'm kinda in the middle here. I don't have a huge issue with it, though there's probably a better way it could've gone down. I do think that his planning/prediction here is overblown. His plan seems to have been a whole two steps: 1) Avoid the ten thousand Mentor Death stories with the Assassin Decoy. Yeah, no problems there. 2) Capture Dumisai of Aksum, as he is the Only Thing The Heartless Villain Loves and is ergo obvious leverage in case Cat loses the confrontation. Enough to give Cat an opening, which it did and which she took. It's a simple plan, but it doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.

    I think the main thing that could've solved all the complaints is if Cat knew that Dumisai was being targeted. There's a very obvious reason for it, after all. You can have everything play out the exact same and just add in that Cat sent Robber after him. Audience has certainly come to accept that Robber is bullshit enough to pull that off on his own, and Black helping is a convenient coincidence, but it gives Cat a hand on the reins in every step of the plan (except the Decoy, but that's fine. She can't know about that one).

    Calling it bad or anything isn't quite right. Overall this was a solid enough arc - and at times excellent - but I think it's more of a "I expect better of you" sorta deal that catches extra flak. Just weaker than it should've been.

    Also I went back and skimmed that chapter with Kegan about what would happen if the gestalt blew up. Nothing good, that's for sure, but Masego mentioned that you could contain the souls with the right set of wards. Maybe not enough to re-forge it (which is a shame. Also there goes the Watch), but it would stop Callow from becoming a second Wasteland... if that's what were to happen. I suppose it's possible that Hierophant can manage the wards if Ranker didn't waste him (Warlock is obviously not around to do it), but isn't Liesse in a pocket dimension or something right now?
     
  9. Nazgus

    Nazgus Headmaster

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    You're missing the part where Black tells her bringing Diabolist to Arcadia was a mistake, and that she should consult people other than Masego next time. Cat responds in her thoughts that she did, she'd consulted with him. That means that this wasn't a contingency plan, this was the plan. And that's where it falls apart for me.
     
  10. Stealthy

    Stealthy Slug Club Member

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    Huh. I just wrote off that line as foreshadowing that Cat was talking to a fake, but that's pretty damning. Fuck me for missing the argument. Yeah, agreed. Undercuts the lot of it, and what a damn shame given how good everything else has been in the last several chapters.
     
  11. Spacegnom

    Spacegnom First Year

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    TBH I always expected the weapon to blow up/ be dismantled.
    A weapon powered by a gestalt consisting of Deoraithe souls? Said gestalt can be used/interacted with by the Deoraithe to strengthen themselves via 'Oaths'? What, the main character is at least a half-blood Deoraithe?
    ...
    So, good bye 'Black Queen' and hello 'Queen of the Dead'(?) I guess.
     
  12. Lamora

    Lamora Definitely Not Batman

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    BOY SHE ABOUT TO DO IT

    'me, drumming fists on table' queen of blades, queen of blades, QUEEN OF BLADES, QUEEN OF BLADES-
     
  13. Stealthy

    Stealthy Slug Club Member

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    Book 4 hype fucking confirmed.

    So yeah, Black fucking played her. Clearly intentional now rather than an (unlikely, because this story is too clever for that) authorial fuckup. But oh boy did that pay off exactly how it should have.
     
  14. Lamora

    Lamora Definitely Not Batman

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    An awesome observation I saw in the comments was that this - since Catherine is no longer the Squire, Black no longer has an expiration date.

    Another interesting effect is in Catherine forming her own faction of Callow, she may have suborned the apprenticeship effect of all the Woe as well. We see that immediately in Archer being released by Ranger, but Hierophant no longer narratively needs to replace his father, assuming he stays loyal to Catherine.

    Also, Akua’s Folly being her literal cape lined with all the banners she took on the way to killing her, with her enemy’s soul on top.

    ‘kissing my fingers like an Italian chef’

    It dragged near the end, but god, the payoff. I’ve never supported a better Patreon.

    Fat guess for next chapter: epilogue, with a Catherine and Grandmaster Talbot scene where she either takes the name Fairfax or chooses Eleanor Fairfax’s banner as her own (as foreshadowed in her previous conversation with him), thereby becoming the Queen of Blades.
     
  15. Mutton

    Mutton Unspeakable

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    I don't know, this kind of felt planned on Black's part which still undermines it a bit. He breaks the mentor role while giving her the needed boost to the next level and stabilizes Callow and the Empire against Procer. He doesn't give a damn about Callow's level of Independence and is okay with them basically being an independent nation which has a very successful trading arrangement with the Empire. He's breaking the cycle, setting his apprentice in the road to true power, and gets out alive.
     
  16. Stealthy

    Stealthy Slug Club Member

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    I don't see Cat taking the Fairfax name, and certainly not the banner. Malicia had a line about all Names forming around one crystallized moment, and Cat's banner is tied directly to her moment (Black offering her a knife, and Cat taking bloody action to right wrongs), so she's not gonna move on from that. Also dunno if it'll be Queen of Blades exactly, since she's gotta have Winter mixed in at this point.

    On that note, what happens when the seasons in Arcadia change? She has so much power because she's the last of the Winter Court. What happens when there's no longer a Winter? What happens when Winter comes again?

    I'm thinking we get one Interlude before the epilogue. Too many people to check in with, though I guess the epilogue could be a fat bastard. You've got the First Prince and White Knight at minimum. White Knight may be able to cover whatever tie ups there are left in the Free Cities, but otherwise you've got one more perspective from there. Malicia's gotta ruminate Cat, Black, and the coming Crusade. Maybe Black has a scene too. Top it off with Bard, and I'm gonna take a shot in the dark and say we'll have one of those old monstrous heroes Black mentioned in Swan Song (I recall the Saint of Swords being namedropped earlier, whoever that is).
     
  17. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    Seems I'm once again gonna be the odd man out--I thought it was something of a mixed bag. After Akua's rather disappointing resolution to begin with, I didn't really expect her plotline to be wrapped up interestingly, and it kind of wasn't--they just find her soul, the problem is solved, that's it*. Similarly, dealing with the captives was...eh. Somewhat badass, somewhat stupid, completely driven by her current mindset. The new Gallowborn seem like a liability to me, just because she told them all outright that she was going to use them until they died, when she's about to fight people that are masters of putting traitors in other people's ranks--like, given the end of this chapter, do you think Scribe will need five minutes to fill her ranks with fresh spies, or a full ten? Denying the ransom was...completely understandable, but still unwise. She needed to make a point, to be sure, but she's also making a lot of enemies and her coffers were empty before Liesse blew up.

    The meat of the chapter, though, is Black and Cat, which was...good, in some ways, but mostly late. It was well done, but the thing we're reacting to happened a week ago and we meandered our way over to it. The confrontation they finally had was long overdue...in kind of a bad way? It was overdue in the sense that we should have already had it, essentially, and maybe a more lengthy form of it. The talk itself was good--I still think Black was right is his way and Cat in other, that it was the right move at the wrong time--but it just doesn't have the emotional weight now that it should have had. I don't think it was the type of thing that should have been the third part of a chapter three chapters after the fact, essentially.

    Also, and I really can't emphasize this enough, but antagonizing Scribe seems like a terrible idea and Cat managed to be the first person to make her show anger in the entire series. Like, I get it--Cat's angry and impatient and this whole thing hits close to home. But if I was desperately cobbling together a support base in the middle of a faltering, divided country while desperately trying to keep what I'm doing a secret from my enemies and former allies immediately after drafting a bunch of questionably loyal to flat-out disloyal soldiers into my ranks from scattered, devastated foreign legions to flat-out former enemies in the face of an on-coming major war, I might try to not piss off the greatest spymistress on the continent, you know?

    Because, like, everyone knows every move Cat makes from now on, right? Like, anyone with even a little bit of a grudge against her. Right?

    *Though, you know, binding your archenemy's soul to something you wear on your back seems like it might not be the best idea?
     
  18. Xarlor

    Xarlor First Year

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    I think you oversimplify things with a statement like that. Who would or could Scribe report to? As far as I remember she hates Malicia and was of the opinion, that they should have an emperor (Not that Malicia doesn't already know everything that Cat does.). I can't really see her reporting to the first Prince or the remains of the True Blood, so who should she inform of all of Cats moves?
    In the end she and the rest of the Calamities are Blacks people and Black is still alive. And as long as that doesn't change it shouldn't be an issue. What happens after the crusade is up in the air, or if Black dies, but for now I don't really see either side truly fighting the other, as long as they aren't sure they can survive the crusade.

    Not that mouthing of Scribe was a good Idea, but when has Cat ever been able to stop herself?
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  19. Touzb

    Touzb Squib

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    Epilogue is posted. I would have liked one more chapter/interlude showing how Cat's oldest 15th legion pals feel about her current form and overall state of affairs, or even a chapter from the point of view of some common Callowans, but no such luck.

    Book 4 is looking to be a kerfuffle of epic proportions. Especially if old Heroes and DK chime in and our guy Anaxares continues to be based beyond belief. (As always I hope for chapters focusing more on small personal fights, not large armies moving around.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
  20. Lion

    Lion Denarii Host DLP Supporter

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    I'm super excited to see how everyone reacts to the Fae swearing to the Ice Queen. That adds an extra layer because the Prince, or whatever he is now, is at least as strong as a name. Along with whatever former Fae nobility he bought along will definitely even the odds. That or it will catapult some more people in coming after Callow and the Empire. Cat has set herself up to make or break the Empire, especially by sending Theif to talk to people.

    Some people have been saying that red light at the end is the Tower contacting the Dead King or that it's Dread Empress Triumphant who had the villages in hell. Personally I want it to be Triumphant who is deciding to conquer the world this time. It's gonna be a great next book.