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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. someone010101

    someone010101 Groundskeeper

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    Calling it now. One of Sve Noc wants to espace to the surface (away from the dwarves). Cat somehow makes a deal with it, neatly sidestepping her enemies.
     
  2. Seratin

    Seratin Proudmander Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I'm calling it that Cat comes out with all the power of Winter Night and some shennanigans involving the life stolen from the Drow yet to be born makes her mortal and sane while still being able to weild the power of an immortal lunatic.
     
  3. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    I'll admit, the drow have become somewhat more entertaining in recent chapters. Chalk it up to having actual people who matter amongst them and ongoing plotlines and such.

    Having said that, said plotline is still trying to take shape and is struggling to do so. Right now, we're sitting in a pool of 'Why don't they just kill Cat' and 'What does Sve Noc stand to gain from all this,' and the story doesn't seem sure how to answer. Cat's first argument is one of stories, which anyone her knows bugs me because when stories do and don't matter seems to be entirely a matter of whim in a Practical Guide, but more to the point, Cat actually doesn't know stories; she has cheap, second-hand knowledge knowledge from a guy who recently got an abject lesson that his knowledge only applies to Praes and Callow. She knows jack shit about drow stories.

    They turn to the topic of legacies and Cat herself is reminded that she hasn't really done a whole lot; the most that can be said is that she's preserved Callow, a place she hasn't been in at least three months, and which has spent most of her time tending to it on fire. Undeniably, being on fire is better than not existing, but it's still not a great legacy. The only thing she can think of that she might leave behind is the Accords, which have been nebulous and vague since she came up with them, and which were a product of Winter Cat besides, to say nothing of the fact that it's hard to imagine anyone agreeing to sign deals with her after she's gone out of the way to not help. Hell, with what Malicia's done recently, the entire continent things that Callow and Praes have sided with the Dead King; who's going to bargain with her? Her only defense is the Accords, which we know nothing of and have no reason to believe in.

    She then makes an honestly impressive move, however--she apologizes and offers aid. This is an unexpected move based on what we've seen of Cat lately and a bold choice. She apologizes for her actions as a slaver, apologizes for her actions as the Winter Queen, and then asks Nike to work together with her, to deal with her, and honestly try to escape the bad situations they're both in.

    And that's great, but...it doesn't really seem like she has much to offer on that front? Like, the whole problem with the drow is that the Twilight Sages fucked them all hard and if they don't stick with the bad hand they've been dealt by the Gods Below, they will literally all die*. Cat's response to that is to go 'Man, fuck the Gods!', which is all well and good conceptually--but still fails to address the key point of 'And if they don't do this, they all die.'

    Cat's right in that Winter, by all accounts, is a shitty way out. To be fair, the Night was an even shittier way out, and it's been the one they were all stuck with, so it's at least an escape from one problem, right? The problem with Cat's argument at the end of this chapter is that it's a good speech and it's a great character moment, but it's also just words, because it doesn't offer the drow any kind of solution to their problems. Sve Noc is stuck in a hospital bed, being poisoned to the point of madness by the medicines that are being pumped into her to keep her alive, but all Cat is really giving as a solution to her is 'Fuck life support; don't let your hospital bed hold you back!'

    Sweetie, it's good to see you're learning, but that's not really the answer they're looking for.

    *Also, again, where's this view of the Gods Below coming from? Like, by all accounts, the Gods Below have been some of the only people in this story who pay their dues, except with the drow, which is a bit odd.
     
  4. Xarlor

    Xarlor Second Year

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    But the gods bellow pay their dues to the drow aren't they? The drow are still alive a thousand years after their folly should have killed them all. So different than the White Knights mother or Warlock the drow don't have a due to call on at the end of their life, but got the due payed already just so they could life at all.

    And I think Cats upbringing shows here, she never saw someone get their due back from bellow, remember how suprised she was when she saw Hune pray? Akua could probably expain it to her, but when was Cat actually interested in another culture?
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
  5. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    Here's the thing, though--first of all, the Twilight Sages made that deal, paying other people's lives to do so, and those people then objected and killed the Twilight Sages, so just from the get go, the drow are being held accountable for a deal that other people made three thousand years ago, with everyone alive being people who didn't like the deal or people who were completely uninvolved.

    And that part is actually fine, because as far as we know, the Gods Below weren't involved there at all; that was all wild magibabble shit, which is as incomprehensible as ever, but that's not the point. See, the Gods Below only got involved after that, when the sisters went to them as the only way out, and rebuilt their society as an altar to the Hellgods, with endless sacrifice wetting the temple that is the Everdark. This too is fine, as it's a pretty understandable trade; death for life, to put it simply.

    But here's the thing that doesn't make sense based on the previous actions of the Gods Below--the assertion that the Gods Below are intentionally keeping the drow kneecapped and in a cycle of perpetual service and sacrifice, wherein every drow that's born and dies does so to glorify the Hellgods, and the Hellgods smile, shrug, and deliberately set things up so that they can't escape doing so. The issue is not, in and of itself, a matter of debt; the issue is that the Gods Below are charging an infinite debt and screwing over the people that are, by all accounts, their most faithful worshipers. This is surprising, because every other time we saw the Gods Below intervene, it was by paying back their debts to their worshipers, whereas they are solely dicking over the drow here, for something that no one involved had any part in, and in such a way that it seemingly cripples their own side.

    The source of the drow's debt is that the Twilight Sages stole years from all their lives, millennia ago--but the thing is, the drow have spent three thousand years in ritualistic murder orgy trying to pay that debt back.
     
  6. Mutton

    Mutton Unspeakable

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    My thought was that it's an infinite dent machine; when Drow A kills Drow BBit's worth a bunch but it also ends up with Drow A taking on Drow B's debt; they're running Peter to pay Paul. Either that or every extra year they live is even more debt than they're able to pay off. Which would partially explain why they aren't off raiding the surface; the Gods Below don't want them to pay off their dents, they want them to be don't the minimum payment each year.

    Hence the big difference from Warlock; he was their creditor while the Drow are debtors.

    That's still me twisting it; this has been a terrible arc and I really don't buy the "oh, mantle is gone, guess slavery is bad now" change.
     
  7. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    That's not really my point--like, there's a bunch of ways to make it an infinite debt machine, if the Hellgods want to do so, it's just that that doesn't really match their previous portrayal. Hanno's mom kept to their rites and when the council of Ashur refused to give her husband a decent burial, she sacrificed her life and asked the Hellgods to repay her service--and the Hellgods went 'Aw hell naw; ain't no punkass Ashuran bitches gonna fuck with our girl's man like that!' and proceeded to drive everyone involved with that decision horrifically insane until they committed suicide, and sent threatening dreams at everyone until they reconsidered their options. Warlock was about to die and so was his son, so he went 'Boss, these Crusading douchebags are about to hurt my boy!' and the Hellgods went 'Aw hell naw; ain't no Crusading cunts gonna do our boy's boy like that!' and gave him godhood for a while.

    The problem with how this scene portrays the Hellgods isn't that the Hellgods couldn't be massive dicks and screw the drow over, it's that Hellgods have, shockingly, been some of the most honorable and faithful guys in the series and while demanding high prices, have consistently paid their dues thus far.
     
  8. Mutton

    Mutton Unspeakable

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    The Hellgods always pay their dues, sure. But this isn't a case of them owing the Drow, it's the opposite. It's entirely reasonable to think that they're bound to deliver a certain level of service for the sacrifices made in their name but that they can and will screw you if you end up on the other side of the ledger.

    It's not the best interpretation but I think it fits the text a bit better than not. I think it's really dumb as a way to explain the Drow; these guys could be shitstomping the surface world in the name of the Gods Below and that's got be worth more than their incestuous ritual they've got going on
     
  9. Stealthy

    Stealthy Seventh Year

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    Let's also remember the sheer size of the ask made by the sisters. The Hellgods aren't real stingy about what you want to buy, so long as you can pay for it. Hanno's mom, after a lifetime of paying her dues, asked to collect by laying a curse upon those who wronged her. Her sacrifices were sufficient, and so those Ashurans suffered. Warlock, after a lifetime of serving Evil, asked for the power to save his son. Again, his service was deemed sufficient, and so he obliterated a fleet. And both of these bargains cost them their lives.

    Komena and Andronike needed enough power to save their race. The nisi lifespan is from the original debt by the Twilight Sages. A debt the drow were defaulting on thanks to the war with the dwarves, and so the sisters asked Below for a second mortgage. They got the Gloom to keep out the dwarves, and the Night to extend their lifespans. But they never paid up front. They never had a debt to collect from Below. And so every year a Mighty lives past sixty is a debt owed to Below. A sacrifice would be needed, and since Night can only be collected through murder, well there you go. Looking at the map, there's only two realistic sources of sacrifice: the ratlings and themselves. One of those will be easier to obtain, especially as the drow fracture.

    Yes, it's basically an infinite debt machine. One that Below allowed and bestowed, but one that the sisters asked for, however unwitting. Think of it less like paying dues, and more like honoring bargains, and I think you'll find the portrayal more consistent.

    That said, we've been saying for a while that the drow are overpowered. Apparently, that's the point. The Everdark has been an incubator of power for three thousand years, which fits the desire of the sisters and Below. It's why Below was so damn excited when Cat came to play, because their pet project would finally come to fruition. Somebody was going to complete their apotheosis and have an army of overpowered drow behind them to lay waste to Calernia. And the sisters? Finally a chance to escape the cycle they trapped themselves in and reach that apotheosis.
     
  10. Imraefi

    Imraefi Third Year

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    Even if it is usury—it's the Gods Below. It's probably fair to imagine them as lawyers who are very good at keeping to the letter of their contracts. This cuts both ways.
     
  11. Mutton

    Mutton Unspeakable

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    I still don't think them sticking around in a crab bucket makes sense. Apparently going raiding is considered the holiest of duties and it couldn't be that hard for you shadow melding Drow to sneak around and depopulate a few nations for their harvest
     
  12. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    Here's the thing though--the drow have made their entire society a ritualistic murder-orgy for three thousand years. By default, the night does very little--you yourself quoted what the Nisi were like--yet we've seen what the drow can become, as a result of their endless murder fest. I think it's worth mentioning that the drow have been an altar to the Gods Below for longer than Praes, Callow, and Procer have existed combined. The situation started with the drow being sacrificed by the Twilight Sages, as well, and the drow replied by murdering them all and turning them into the first of the Night; everything they do now, they do because the Twilight Sage's fuck up meant they were already passed the edge and starting to die.

    The thing here is, first of all, the Sisters didn't ask for a second mortgage--for one thing, the Twilight Sages didn't, as far as we know, make a deal with the Gods and for another, none of them had anything to do with the bargain--they asked for a way out and made their entire country a ritualistic sacrifice to the Gods for longer than most countries in Calernia have had the written word.

    Which doesn't really make sense from what we've seen of the Gods Below. They've spent an era paying of a debt literally none of them had anything to do with, spent all of that time honoring the cause of Below with every drow in the Everdark, and the Gods apparently replied not just with indifference, but by intentionally perpetuating it to their detriment. This is not how they've otherwise responded to loyal service.

    Oh, well, that part is bizarre, but then, by all accounts, any of the three nation's Below has kept in store up North could casually devour the rest of Calernia and just hasn't felt like it, so it's eh. Like, it makes no sense, but if Book 4 has shown us anything, neither does the existence of human life on Calernia.
     
  13. Xarlor

    Xarlor Second Year

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    I think the main thing with that is this:

    “There is more power in blood spilled willingly than unwillingly. The latter is simply a great deal easier to obtain.”
    – Dread Emperor Sorcerous

    there is probably not enough power in unwillingly sacrifice to risk losing more drow and going deeper into debt. What would it have cost them to lose a mighty to heroes villians or that nice new king in keter with the interesting ideas?
     
  14. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    The issue with this is that quote refutes your argument. Indeed, it's a known fact that there's less power in blood unwillingly spilled--but on the other hand, it's fairly easy to find people who don't want to bleed. As a random example, Procer's capital has over half a million people in it that can do fuck all if an army of drow shadow-walk into town, and that's a lot of blood spilled without much cost to the drow.

    Even ignoring the fact that heroes in this story are a joke 99% of the time, Cat's already stated outright that even low-tier city Mighty like Urulam would go though heroes casually and said that if a band of real Mighty took a walk, half the heroes on the continent would need to rally to stop them. Guess what? By all accounts, the Everdark has at least a thousand Mighty stronger than Urulam; if they took at walk through Procer, there wouldn't be a Procer anywhere they walked. The idea that anyone south of the Everdark that isn't the ratlings or Dead King could even momentarily inconvenience the drow is laughable. There might be less power in it, but the drow could pile human corpses sky-fucking-high.

    Also, killing drow, as far as we're aware, no longer counts towards the original, magical debt the Twilight Sages incurred, because that debt already bottomed out at 'kill everyone', and these guys are essentially the children that got their lives stolen besides.
     
  15. Xarlor

    Xarlor Second Year

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    Of course if the everdark had a border with Procer, the drow could get all the sacrifices they want there, but they do not. How many of the Farestrider covern can use the shadow portals and can they be used at all outside the gloom? Because if not they need to go through either the golden bloom, keter or the chain of hunger. And here the chain of hunger is probably their best bet, depending on how many horned lords are there. So their ability to get mass sacrifices is sharply limited here and they would need a real army to get through either of those most likely, something that drow culture in right now doesn't really have.

    Or they could try the dwarves a second time.

    And then there is the question of what it would take to replace the night of one mighty like Urulam, should he fall outside the gloom.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
  16. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    Oh those whacky Praesi.

    So, update. Right off the bat, we see why 'Nike rejected Cat's offer--part of it was what I said last time, about the Gods Below having the ability to just cut the drow off, going by what we know of their deal, and part of it is, somewhat unexpectedly, the Bard. Unless this was all an act, what we see here is the Bard acting on behalf of the Gods Below for the first time, which is interesting. Interestingly, we also get told that the Gods Below have been a lot more careful with where they placed their power since the Dead King rose which, uh, hasn't been evident.

    Still, Cat goes on to speculate that the Gods Below wouldn't or couldn't cut their loses, because it would enable the Gods Above to act? I'm not sure I understand that, since the bargain they made with the Bard was 'Do this or die' and it seems like all the Gods Below would have to do to snuff them all out is stop giving their blessings--but whatever, say we accept that point. She then says that they were showing her the Bard as the reason they didn't say fuck the police and leave, even though they supposedly could, and I'm not sure I get that. Like, don't get me wrong, the Bard shares the pedestal of 'Most Accomplished Hero in the Story', it's just that that's a fairly low bar to make, and she shares it with Will and the Pilgrim. Thus far in the story, outside of some cool background stuff with the Dead King that I admittedly love every goddamn second of, pretty much every time we see her, things aren't working out for her, and the forces opposing her are running amok for fairly enormous periods of time; the one exception, Captain, was almost entirely off-screen fiat, which doesn't help.

    Given that, it's still hard to accept her as a paralyzing threat to thousands of Mighty. It's part of the general hero problem, really, where the Saint talks about coming from behind and all that, apparently not realizing that none of the showings of heroes in this story at all support that.

    The conversation is neat, though. I liked this bit, at least:

    The Sisters are, pretty understandably, unmoved by Cat's lack of a plan, however, and we get a bit of a calling out about the Mantle deal, which I'm glad for, because while the Mantle messing with Cat's head is good, writing everything she did off on it and saying she's squeaky clean now is less so. They also point out, pretty rightly, that Cat has compromised on every point of principle she's ever claimed to have and why this makes her a dangerous ally, though they fail to bring up when she betrayed all the Sigil Holders of Lotow under a banner of peace and enslaved them, which seems like a wasted opportunity.

    We end on Akua coming to the rescue yet again, which is bound to be amusing, though I have to say that her entrance this time isn't as good as the power of friendship she used previously. That might just be my personal issue with this, though:

    You sure, Akua? Because from what we've seen, there's enough demigods in any random drow City to wipe out your fucking nation.

    Uh, we know for a fact that drow power's work outside the Gloom. Literally the first time we see them used was outside the Gloom, in fact. Urulam falling is meaningless as well, because the drow can also harvest night outside the Gloom; we literally see Ivah do that, as well. What would it take to replace a Mighty like Urulam? Literally a few minutes work on the part of literally any drow.

    And no, it was stated outright that there were tunnels that led to both Procer and Callow, it's just that for some goddamn reason, only the shamed and powerless risk going out there.

    That's not even getting into the fact that the Elves have only inhabited the Golden Bloom for about two thousand-ish years or some such--the drow were around for at least a millenia prior to that and specifically had waged war with proto-Callow.

    Also, let's be real here--I believe it, because people keep saying so, but I'm still waiting on the explanation for how the dwarves have a goddamn chance in hell against the drow. In all honesty, they are thus far the most impressive faction we've seen by a lot.
     
  17. Seratin

    Seratin Proudmander Prestige DLP Supporter

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    You forgetting the part where the Dwarves used some lava formed balrog-esque monster to literally melt the ground underneath an army of Drow. And that's just referred to as their their mining equipment?

    Dwarves are no joke, brah.

    There's still so much fun to be had in the south, we'll probably see the giants. Probably encounter the Ratlings again and the endgame will probably involve the Gnomes all while dealing with the Dwarves. Maybe I'm hopelessly optimistic but fun times ahead.
     
  18. Davinelulinvega

    Davinelulinvega Third Year

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    Calling it here and now, the Bard is to names and stories something similar than Scion was to powers in worm.
    She might be a parasite to the gods or something else entirely. Might be the drow did not make a deal with the gods below after all. Neshama called her intercessor, but he might not know the full story either.

    --

    mark this post to either call me out if its turns out different or if am PROVEN RIGHT, YET AGAIN!!!!
     
  19. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Jazz Hands!!!

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    Citation needed, Cat. Generally speaking, your interactions with Akua tend to involve you getting played either a little or a lot, and little else. But putting that aside, it seems we have a court battle here, which makes little sense, but could be amusing. To bad Phoenix isn't here, but I'll do what I can.

    Objection! We've seen how 'justice' gets carried out in Praes, which is to say that it doesn't, and everyone just kills each other. Also, you know, this:

    They aren't in Praes and if they were, the Empress would probably just say to kill her anyway. Akua moves on to say this:

    Which is all well and good, but as far as we know, 'all attendant duties and privileges' in the Everdark are 'Fuck you, I do want I want, because I can, and you can't stop me.'

    Akua then proceeds to use some examples that...don't matter at all to this case? Akua is supposedly trying to set up a story against the sisters, which is all well and good, but this whole story has proven that stories aren't a be all end all, unless Cat or Black suddenly say they all. Seriously, though, Cat even says that Will would have need a very, very good story to beat Urulam; in order for these two powerless bozos to defeat a pair of gods, I'd assume they'd need more than this cobbled together schlock. Like:

    Akua tries to brush that aside, but, you know, it kind of is important. As is this:

    What Cat did sure as hell wasn't done in fair bargain. Akua then argues 'that servants finding other employment was no crime', which is also bullshit, see above.

    Yeah, the trial portion of this is...shaky, in part because people are arguing falsehoods about laws that none of them care about--which actually comes up in a good way, as Cat realizes the trial is bullshit and going nowhere:

    The only thing is, we still aren't addressing the part where if the drow don't keep to their deals or get Winter, they all die. Like, this is a good argument:

    It's just not a solution. Cat says that they can't have Winter or the Night, as neither works out, but they kind of need one of the two. Or at least that's what she said at first, but she then gives them Winter? I are confused.

    Having say that, this:

    Was legitimately badass and, if nothing else, an actually great moment of character growth. I can't say I'm sure it was worth the eighty-odd chapters it took to get her to grow this book, but none of that changes the fact that, on it's own, this was a great way of concluding this personal and story arc, as a character, whatever the problems with that arc. I'll be interested in seeing what happens to her now.
     
  20. Ferdiad

    Ferdiad Unspeakable

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    I'm wondering if this whole arc will read better once it's completed and you can read through it all at once. It's the weakest in the story sure but I think it's been exacerbated by the format we're getting it in.