8.72

Ryoka Griffin took one moment to reflect upon her failings on her journey to meet the Archmage of Memory.

Just one. Perhaps it wasn’t even a true failing. The thing was—

She didn’t kill people. She was neither good at it nor did she have the ability to look at someone and do it.

Even Persua.

No, seriously. Even Persua. Even that wretched girl who had broken Ryoka’s leg, tried to kill her by switching her healing potions for mana potions, and threatened Ivolethe.

Even her.

Ryoka felt that was a normal thing. People fantasized about murder all the time, often in mundane office or workplace settings. But the number of people who would actually act on that impulse were low.

Infidelity, drunken fights, accidents—that was one thing. But if there was one thing this world had a monopoly on, it was a different mentality when it came to death. There were soldiers on Earth, or people who saw death far too often.

Killing—be it monsters or people or ‘monsters’ like Goblins—was more common here. Ryoka didn’t want to do it. And she thought that was fine.

Yet there was a lot of blood implicitly on Ryoka’s hands if she could not stop Tyrion’s advance. He had not gone to war just for her, but Sammial, the very real threat Ailendamus posed, and the kidnapping. Ryoka was culpable in that from trying to steal from Rhisveri, but the greatest good she could do was get him to turn back.

Rhisveri was open to the idea. That was the role Ryoka was willing, wanted to play. However…she came to a rest on one of the flat plateaus of Kaliv.

The mountain range bordered not only the north, but parts of Pheislant and Gaiil-Drome’s south. Ryoka could see some very tall trees to the south.

Ironically, there was actually different elevation in the forest nation too. Some trees were distinctly larger; a different species that occupied one corner? It must be fascinating, but Ryoka doubted she’d find three friendly kings and a magic sword in there. Or a Nama.

Maybe? If there were anywhere to go, it was further west of Gaiil-Drome, but not to Pheislant on the western coast. Ryoka might stop, if she had the time, and look over the land that even Terandrians had not yet reclaimed.

The blasted kingdom of Silvaria, still filled with death magic, where the Necromancer had once been.

The wind blew a cool breeze over the flat ground, filled with sparse and rather unpleasant weeds. But Ryoka’s wrapped feet felt none of the pricker-thorns from the long, flat weeds bursting through the rocky soil. Their long needle-spines on dark green leaves kept trying to lacerate the soles of her feet. It wasn’t mean; just self defense to keep her from stepping on them or eating them.

It didn’t work, of course. From her toes to her ankles, Ryoka’s feet were covered by the fae-wraps. Ryoka could literally hop up and down on glass and not feel a thing.

A gift from the lands of the fae. Even the giant goat-herd native to Kaliv grazing nearby gave Ryoka a look of grudging respect.

For her part, she eyed the massive goats who would make a bull think twice about rushing them. They weren’t as large as bulls, but they would outnumber one angry bovine, and they had huge horns.

“What do you eat to get this big?”

The goats chewed down on the tough weeds. None of your business. She felt that was fair. There was a point at which Ryoka had to just…understand that Ailendamus was Ailendamus. Events were happening.

“I just have to do my part so I don’t regret it later. I can’t save everyone.”

Right on, sister. A possibly-female Goat gave her a bowel movement of approval. Ryoka sighed. It beat talking to herself.

She pulled something out—well, two things—and the wind obligingly died down a bit to let her take a look at them.

Even in Ailendamus, even her private rooms, Ryoka had been very careful not to fiddle with either object that much. Especially not around anyone intelligent like Visophecin or the Agelum.

Rhisveri was an odd case; he was too reliant on his magic. Plus, he’d seen the strange technological blade break on his scales, so he didn’t see it as a threat. But Ryoka had asked for a [Translation] spell, and Visophecin had obligingly scribed it and asked why she needed it.

Well. Ryoka stared down at the alien writing as it made sense before her eyes. She had already read a bit of it, but now was the time for some quick studying.

Honestly—it was a bit embarrassing. If Ryoka had had even a week without someone trying to kill her, she felt she could have figured it out. The thing was—aliens weren’t stupid.

Oh, sure, give them some context. This was definitely a rush job. Ryoka didn’t know how long the Faerie King had given them, but they had clearly printed this off, and their technicians had rushed to figure out how to explain a modern, state-of-the-art weapon and all its functions to what was essentially a hairless monkey with rounded toenails.

It was like if she had to try to teach a monkey how to use a smartphone.

…Monkeys could use smartphones. Literally, they could use some apps and they could swipe, a skill older Humans failed to master. So it was definitely possible. But Ryoka still appreciated the logical way the aliens had done it.

First—images. Pictograms, but they had clearly realized that their concepts of even basic ideas were different from Ryoka’s. For instance, now she saw the basic instruction to squeeze the grip. How would Humans tell you to do that?

Well, with a diagram of squeezing the handle, maybe with arrows. The aliens took the opposite approach, highlighting the area and adding a symbol that Ryoka now realized meant ‘weight’. To her, it looked like a series of dots, increasing in size.

“Some kind of universal symbol for mass? Mass generates gravity…analogous to weight. They had multiple species in their federation. I mean—we have a weird one-ton block to symbolize weight.”

Maybe it just meant ‘force’. An increase in magnitude.

The point was, the engineers had tried to approximate symbols that even an…alien…would understand. But they’d done it on the fly. Probably with, what, hours or less to work this up?

So the pictograms and illustrations were part of the instructions, but then they’d run into the issue that modern technology had. Yes, you could tell the monkey to swipe left to get another picture or reject someone on Tinder or a dating app. But how did you tell the Ryoka that in order to repair a possibly damaged screen, you had to get a specialized screwdriver, open the casing, apply a gravitron solvent, etc. etc?

There were functions on this simple sword sidearm that were advanced. Ryoka supposed this was akin to an omnitool; it certainly seemed like it had a lot of functions.

She’d seen actual blueprints for buildings that had less space than this. At least the alien paper neither creased nor got dirty nor damaged.

Now—in order to solve the issue of having to just write their instructions, the aliens had given her a cipher. They had written their entire alphabet and generated all the codewords and syntax in the upper right-hand corner. But…uh…

It was still hard. Ryoka flushed with embarrassment. She was sure she could have gotten it! Just give her a few months of study. The problem was, they were trying to teach someone an entire language with no context, so they had filled the entire upper right corner with sample phrases. Some amusing ones—at least with [Translation] on.

The Federation is made up of equal peoples. Do not attack each other or we will punish you.

But they had broken it down, so it looked like

 

(The Federation)-is-(made up)-of-(equal)-(people).

 

Each word was clearly denoted, such that Ryoka could have inferred ‘The Federation’ was a proper noun, and ‘is’ was a connecting word. She took (made up) as a single word and wondered if the [Translation] spell was faulty.

“Wait. Does this just mean ‘comprised’?”

She tapped ‘made up’, and the word changed before her eyes to ‘comprised’. Instantly, the manual shifted slightly, and Ryoka saw more complicated words appearing. Her mouth worked silently.

Motherf—I still have to be intelligent?”

Maybe this spell wasn’t as good as a Tier 6 [Translation] spell or something. What would that even look like? More nuance? Translating things without words?

Talking to goats?

One of the goats had plodded over, and Ryoka shooed it away.

“Go. Go. You really don’t want to get near this. Okay…”

She was studying the advanced functions, her ruminations on the nature of communication aside. Ryoka had gotten very little from gingerly experimenting with the handle. Squeeze it, bop it, throw it at the wall—it didn’t seem to let her do much other than turn it off and on and a few other functions.

Because no alien soldier wanted to pull up the help file during combat. The goat watched, possibly eying Ryoka’s hair as a nutritious meal as she cursed.

“So that’s why nothing works. Alright. Damnit. They did underline that. But they don’t underline the same way—”

She sighed, stopped making excuses, and placed a finger in the center of the hilt. This was definitely not meant for rapid configuration, although she could hotkey some functions by the looks of it.

“I’m not touching that. Okay. Finger here…tap here…and now I give it three squeezes?”

She got absolutely zero response from the sword hilt, which made her feel like an idiot. But then she saw a flicker, and the Kaliv goat and Ryoka saw a glowing interface rise out of the Faeblade where the sword would normally be. The bleating goat fled as Ryoka stared at what was probably a well-designed interface…covered with more translated words and options.

There were, on this first screen alone, about sixty-eight options, each in their own sub-menus. Ryoka covered her face. Then she eyed one button.

“No way.”

It had to be a translation approximating the word to her understanding of it. But Ryoka still…eyed ‘Communications’ and gingerly tapped it.

Instantly, the menu changed, and she saw ‘Battle Group’, ‘Victory Commander’, and ‘Ship’. Oh—and ‘Emergency Broadcast’.

It looked like these were not regular options, and ‘Emergency Broadcast’ had a number of warning symbols attached to it. Ryoka hesitated for a long time, but tapped ‘Battle Group’, then tried the other frequencies.

She learned that aliens had a dial tone too. Also—there was no one in range. Ryoka wasn’t sure if she was relieved or disappointed. Then again, she didn’t know if she wanted to meet aliens in this world.

She went back to inspecting the functions. There were some cool things she wanted to try, but she had a purpose. And…she looked at the Faeblade.

She named it that, the Windsword, because it was good cover and it had come from the lands of the fae as much as space-faring aliens. But she never forgot what Oberon had said.

The time has come for you to do more than run.

The goats were getting tired of Ryoka’s crap—or lack thereof—by now, and the bright light she kept generating was hurting their eyes. It was getting dark. She was an uninvited guest.

They were just getting ready to eject her by literally ramming her off the plateau when she activated a different setting on what she now knew was a Hetshal-knife. The goats nearly went blind—took one look at what Ryoka had just created, and ran for it. Ryoka gulped.

“Okay. Okay. I’ve got it, Faerie King, aliens. But…who am I fighting?”

She had a feeling this sword wasn’t going to kill the enemies of Oberon himself. So. So…Ryoka stood up and, prepared, holstered the Faeblade. She took a breath, then leapt into the air to reach her destination by evening.

She had wanted to meet him. Feared the strange answers she’d gotten. Come to one terrible conclusion. But still.

When she found the Archmage of Memory, Ryoka Griffin was not prepared.

 

——

 

The Wind Runner landed in the Archmage of Memory’s camp and looked around, almost as wide-eyed as Flynn.

“Fuck me. Is that her?”

The Australian man breathed as he straightened. Pokey, his Needlehound dog, raced forwards, and Flynn called out.

“Pokey! No! Back!”

Heads rose at his shout, but Ryoka had already been seen. A [Mage] had escorted her into camp, and they’d nearly stopped her before Eldavin had told them to let her in.

He had spotted her. By now, there wasn’t a grasshopper on a leaf ten miles away he couldn’t spot.

The magic hummed in this camp, such that the Order of Seasons were complaining that some of their [Knights] who could see magic were nearly blind. Eldavin had told them to adjust their vision. Flynn was not used to this world, but he had the exact same look as the [Knights] and even Wistram’s [Mages].

He understood—

This was the age of legends come to life. He was one of the Earthers who had come with Eldavin to Terandria. In fact, one of the last Earthers in Wistram’s custody since so many had fled.

Flynn had a lot of feelings on that, including Trey never telling him what he was planning. But he had gone with Eldavin, and his reward was superhero armor. He didn’t feel like he’d lost out, but he wished he had gone with Trey or talked with the guy more.

Pokey sniffed the Wind Runner and raced back. As the dog with aggressively-pointy fur did, the [Mage] landed somewhat unsteadily next to Ryoka.

He had robes and was far, far less graceful than Ryoka Griffin. She touched down, one foot wrapped in some pale linen, coming to rest on the ground as lightly as a feather.

High Mage Telim landed like a frog in a squat and groaned.

My back! I do not know how you do that, Courier Griffin. It’s clearly practice. And I get fairly disoriented in the sky. Well—just as well the spell keeps me upright. Someone tried to do a loop-de-loop and threw up. But since they were doing a circle, they hit themselves.”

Clearly, Flynn had missed some banter. The young man hurried over as he heard a female voice, not accented as he’d presumed, but American, replying.

“I—yes. Lots of practice. Be very careful at high speeds. Thank you, [High Magus], was it?”

Telim smiled.

“High Magus Telim, at your service. Terras faction.”

He even had the symbol on his robes. Eldavin had just decided on the design—it looked from afar like a Venn diagram. And it would probably be reduced to that for the sake of secrecy. But if you looked closer…you’d realize they weren’t two circles, but two worlds, overlapping.

A message for the future. Flynn thought it was subtle enough. But Ryoka noticed it. And she noticed him in a moment. Well, Flynn couldn’t resist being cheeky about it.

“G’day, Miss Courier. Are you Ryoka Griffin? The Wind Runner?”

If there was ever a way to tell someone where you were from…she looked at him. Flynn waited for a shout or exclamation, but she had met people like him before. How else could she contain herself, blink a few times, then take his hand and shake it firmly.

“That’s me. But you can call me a yankee if you want.”

He laughed, then blinked as he realized the hand that shook his was firm—and missing two fingers. Ryoka noticed the gaze.

“Sorry—”

“No, sorry. Fuck. I’m making a fool out of myself.”

He felt instantly embarrassed by drawing attention to it, but the Wind Runner smiled.

“Drawbacks of the work. And you’re…with Archmage Eldavin’s Terras faction? I just landed. Er—High Magus. Is he expecting…?”

She looked around and found the Archmage’s tent. Well, tent was a strong word.

It was more like the concept of a tent transmogrified into an actual building via light-magic. It glowed with solid light construction, even actual stone—smooth as glass—that Eldavin had raised. Unlike a lesser construct, Eldavin had informed Flynn that it would ‘fold up’ and be able to be redeployed wherever he wanted.

This camp was still mobile since they were advancing into Ailendamus, but Eldavin was making something permanent. A powerful fortress unto itself.

Walls of light magic. Even guard-towers that [Mages] were practicing spells in, practically bunkers they could rain death down from.

Oh—and Golems and soldiers. Not the Order of Seasons. The [Knights] had agreed to attack on their own front.

Animated Earth Golems and spectral, summoned warriors. Eldavin was a peerless [Summoner] along with everything else he wanted, and so he had conjured a small army of defensive constructs. Once those [Mages] learning his magic mastered their spells, Eldavin had said that Terras might send up to two thousand soldiers into battle without so much as meeting the enemy.

‘Sip Sage’s Tea and win wars.’

That was one facet of this camp. It hurt Flynn’s head to take it all in. He had no idea how the Wind Runner wasn’t freaking out.

Because he thought that, he clearly didn’t know Ryoka Griffin. But her poker face was good, so she faced him and High Mage Telim as the man caught his breath.

“Archmage Eldavin will see you shortly, Miss Ryoka. Just give me a second—he doubtless knows you’re here. And don’t worry about, ah, covertacy. We all know you’re from Earth.”

She jumped as if someone had goosed her, and Flynn reassured her.

“Everyone at Wistram knows. At least, everyone in Eldavin’s faction who’s [High Mage] or higher. There were lots of us—recently. This is a whole story. Let me try again. I’m Flynn, from Australia. Melbourne, most recently. And this is Pokey. Don’t pet her; she’s got needle fur.”

Ryoka looked at the dog sniffing her, at Flynn, and blinked a few times. She saw two more Earthers hurrying over, the [Mages], all the magic in camp, and said…

Very little. She just drank it in. Telim flew off, still trying to master the [Levitation] spell he’d been taught. Ryoka Griffin watched him go. Faintly, she spoke.

“I’m a bit overwhelmed too, Flynn. Hi, Pokey, is it? That [High Mage] is using [Levitation]? Not [Flight], he said.”

“Yep. That’s Telim. A good sort.”

Ryoka nodded and glanced at Flynn.

“He seems that way. You know, [Personal Levitation] is considered a Tier 5 spell. It’s also complex enough—especially if you get it wrong—that virtually no [Mages] in the modern era use it. Only [Grand Mages] would be expected to know the spell. Archmage Valeterisa is the only [Mage] I have ever personally met capable of casting that.”

Flynn blinked at her rather in-depth knowledge of magic.

“I dunno about the specifics, but all that’s changed with magic. Archmage Eldavin’s been revolutionizing spellcasting for everyone. Even I’m thinking of picking it up—but I like the armor. Do you…know about that?”

He nodded to the gleaming stand of armor that he’d been working on, customizing elements to his liking. Ryoka gazed at the suit of plate armor, magically enhanced to let the wearers fly, cast lower-tier spells, and perform other magical feats. They had weaknesses; you could run out of casting power, and you weren’t invincible…but it turned any volunteer into someone on-par with a Level 30 [Warrior], if not in powerful Skills, then in utility.

She nodded briefly and looked at Flynn.

“The entire world saw it. I cannot believe my eyes. Oh—hi.”

“Are you from Earth? Oh my god!”

Someone ran forwards, and Ryoka Griffin was caught in a desperate hug. Flynn lost the chance to talk to her as more people came to introduce themselves. He wanted to catch her and insist they sit down and talk. Something about the way she’d looked when he mentioned Melbourne…

High Magus Telim came back for Ryoka, puffing and saying the Archmage would see her now. Not just him; the Summer’s Champion, Greysten, had spotted a Courier coming in and had requested a spot—after Eldavin.

“I have to go. I’m sorry. It’s great to meet you all…I want to chat. I really do. If possible, I’ll definitely stay and talk.”

Ryoka had to pry herself free of the others. She turned to Flynn, and he nodded reasonably as Pokey begged for scraps from Telim, the infinite bounty of food.

“No problem. I understand—a girl’s gotta fly, right?”

For the first time, she actually blinked and grinned at that. Ryoka gave Flynn an honest smile, breaking out of the blank look as she saw all of the magic and Eldavin’s faction around her. Just for a second.

“Absolutely. Melbourne was where you came from?”

“Yep. Have you ever been there?”

“Uh…some airport in Australia. I was young. Tell me—Flynn, right?”

He nodded. Ryoka pointed at him.

“Do you know a ‘Daly Sullivan’?”

The mention of his best friend’s name struck Flynn speechless. Everyone else looked at Ryoka as he surged forwards.

“Do you know Daly? Where is he? Have you met…?”

Ryoka shook her head and kept shaking it as Flynn realized he had to let her speak. She looked him in the eye.

“All I know is that he got grabbed too. People noticed you were missing. He might be somewhere in this world. If…”

If he’s not dead. Flynn stood there and felt a mix of hope and dread. Ryoka pointed at him.

“We’ll talk once I get out of there.”

“Yeah. Definitely. Thank you—thank you for telling me.”

He watched her go. Ryoka trotted into the Archmage’s tent, and he wondered who the heck she was. She had gazed at this amazing display of magic without losing her mind. As if she had been stunned—but not surprised.

Flynn had seen monsters, survived in Chandrar, and befriended Pokey in the time he’d been here. He’d gone through some very rough patches and seen a lot of good and ill.

He wondered what she’d seen if she didn’t blink at this. Then Flynn thought of his friend. And wondered if Daly were still out there. If he were—Flynn would find him. After all, he had magical armor.

 

——

 

Ryoka Griffin had seen a brass Dragon, scales gleaming like a different kind of gold, in a cave too small to truly encompass him, surrounded by wonders.

Multiple times, mind you. There was no experience she could ever equate to her first meeting with a true immortal, even as he was.

She would never forget that. As she trotted through Archmage Eldavin’s camp, though, Ryoka realized something.

She had seen a majesty of old, a legend hidden away and napping.

This was like seeing it all in its fullness. Like a flower that had closed as it slept—in full bloom, Eldavin’s power was all around her.

The Wind Runner was shaking so bad she was surprised no one saw, especially Flynn. Was it right to tell…?

Don’t think about it. Do what you believe is right. She believed telling him about Daly was right. Maybe tell him about Cara?

…No. She looked at the person in armor practicing flying over her head.

“Gravity magic. Nothing as adept as using wind currents to fly. Grand Magus—excuse me, Archmage Eldavin did point you out as a lesson in proper flight. He is a superb flier—the Garuda can’t match him, you know. We rely on telekinetic and gravitational magic. We fly like Drakes, in short.”

Telim was showing her up the hill to Eldavin’s…tent. It looked more like a magical fort, and Ryoka was sure the inside had dimensional magic.

The wind told her that; it was far larger on the inside than outside. She turned to Telim.

“And Eldavin made that?”

“In his spare time. Hah! It took him a single day to design the armor, and we were prototyping it within that span. Not that he didn’t have something to work off of. A young man from Earth—Aaron?”

“I know him. He made it?”

“He designed the concept. But I think it’s based on some concepts from your world?”

“Superheroes. Yes. Iron Man?”

Telim chuckled, and Ryoka felt so incredibly odd speaking to someone who got any reference from Earth.

“Wonderful movie.”

“You’ve…seen it?”

“Yes! We have multiple devices from your world. The Archmage has even speculated about using memory magic to let people share more stories. Safely, of course. But that’s just the man, isn’t it? What you can think of—he can do. It’s the Archmages of old, coming to the present. I must tell you, I’m a fan. But I take it you know each other, so look at me blathering. Do excuse me.”

“Not at all.”

Ryoka was surprised at how cool she was. Even inside. It was like someone had taken their hand off the Ryoka-panic valve. Or it had overloaded and she was just…looking at it all.

Magic unleashed. She compared this with the scope of magic she knew. It was not hard.

Let’s take…Ceria. Or no, Falene. A proper, Wistram-trained Gold-rank. Practically at the highest-level of [Mage] you could expect to find. A semi-renowned name.

Or Grimalkin, even. Capable of fighting a Frost Wyvern Lord. The Strongest Mage in Pallass.

Neither one could fly. Maybe Grimalkin could cast the spell—but Ryoka suspected he considered it a waste of mana when he could run and too slow.

But could he create Golems? No. And these were new. Neither one could permanently just…create a building when they wanted to.

The thing that struck her the most was the armor. Flying armor that could let you shoot lightning bolts.

“Eldavin made that. How hard is it for him to make…any of this?”

Telim scratched at his beard.

“Well, if he needed to, I imagine he could make a suit of armor like that within an hour. Less, but he’d spend time adjusting it and experimenting. The man has more mana than I can blink at—he must have been holding back in Wistram! The only limit on him is time. Why, he’s promised to help Sa’la do a semi-permanent shapechanging spell into a Naga’s body. Pardon me, she’s a Selphid. She won’t be able to reverse it until she masters magic, but it would be a huge incentive for all Selphids.”

“So—he’s going to polymorph a Selphid into another species? A Naga?”

The plump [Mage] was a nice man. Indeed, he’d offered Ryoka a puff pastry, which she’d declined. He’d even cast [Stonehand] to pet the Needlehound dog and fed it some jerky.

“Yes, indeed. I know what you must be thinking. A Naga. Why not a Lamia or half-Elf? If I were to try it, maybe I’d become a Minotaur. But then—ah, no accounting for taste, eh?”

His wink let Ryoka know that he knew how ridiculous and amazing all this was. Ryoka smiled back.

Permanent shape changing. Armies of summoned warriors. Flying people. And Eldavin had just mass-teleported them all from Wistram and annihilated an army himself.

Oh—and he’d just outfought eight Lucifen and taken one prisoner. Ryoka Griffin had wondered, in her spare time, as she begged him to deal with the Goblin Lord or Az’kerash, lambasted him for staying put and not doing anything, what it would look like if a Dragon truly brought himself to care and intercede in the world once more.

This was her answer.

It was too much to believe, even seeing it up-close. Polymorphing? Ironically, if Eldavin had only done one of these things, she’d be in full freakout-mode.

But she was here, and he was so close…Telim moved the flap aside, the only part of the tent that actually remained.

“He should be just inside. He told me to send you right in—no one else can even step into his tent. I understand there was some kind of incident, so he’s rather touchy. But he wanted to see you. I hope we’ll be able to talk later, Miss Ryoka. Perhaps you can teach me how to fly.”

“Yes, thank you.”

Then she entered Eldavin’s tent.

 

——

 

If this were a cliché, Eldavin would have been talking on a phone or something analogous when Ryoka entered his tent, and she would have been left waiting.

She was not. The Archmage of Memory sat at a wide table that looked rather expensive, perhaps a gift, writing on a scroll of pristine paper. He glanced up, saw her, and let the quill hang there, mid-word.

“Ryoka. There you are.”

The Wind Runner, predictably, froze. But the first thing that happened in that moment of shock, of seeing him, the tall, impossibly perfect half-Elf with mismatched eyes, so familiar, was that Eldavin stepped forwards and hugged her.

It was a tight, quick squeeze, then he stepped back and regarded her, hands resting on her shoulders, looking her up and down with keen insight.

And they knew.

Ryoka glanced at the scroll Eldavin was working on, around the room. It had all of the paraphernalia of a true [Mage], but he hadn’t had time yet to let it devolve; there were multiple rooms adjoining this one. Dimensional magic indeed. What might have been a bedroom to the right and more workstations and so on to the left.

She didn’t see Paxere. Eldavin just stepped back.

“I confess, Ryoka, I am surprised to see you. Sit. Will you take food, drink?”

That brief pause was so fast that neither one spoke on it, but Ryoka had seen his eyes change. She had seen it at once.

This was not Teriarch. And he knew that she knew…something. But what?

“No, thank you. I haven’t seen you in a long time, Eldavin. This—this is wild.”

That was the understatement of everything. Eldavin sat and gestured, and two teacups appeared and filled with some lightly-scented tea anyways. Ryoka pulled out a high-backed chair and sat. The Archmage steepled his fingers and shrugged.

“Yes, well. I took you at your word. Half-assing it, I believe? After I saw the mess Wistram was in, I confess, I lost patience.”

A slow blink was all she gave him. So he remembered that? Eldavin went on.

“Then you got yourself kidnapped. By a second powerful magic user. My entry into Ailendamus’ war was motivated by that and my personal distaste for the nation when I studied them…but it is an odd thing to see you here. I have countless questions as to how you left. But I am sure you can explain. And as I note—it is not truly an escape, is it?”

He had noticed the restraining bangle on her arm the instant he looked over. Eldavin reached out, and Ryoka stopped him.

“I think it will literally liquidate me if I try to remove it.”

The half-Elf nodded.

“Sensible. So I will deactivate the magic and remove it—or you may return, inert, depending on how you feel. It is perfectly safe; the magic is made well, but it is not superior to mine.”

Ryoka hesitated, then nodded. So he began to work on the bangle; she lost track of the magic he was using in the first minute. It was so complex, yet he kept up the light banter with her.

“Magnolia Reinhart did speak to me as well. She was rather odd. Or found me odd, I suspect. I must imagine after our last conversations you felt the same way.”

“You…did refuse to do anything, even stop a Goblin Lord. Now you’re handing out Tier 5+ spells like they’re candy.”

The half-Elf laughed softly.

“Thank you for being direct. I—dislike admitting it, but I may have been wrong.”

That sounded so much like him that Ryoka lifted her head.

“May have been?”

Eldavin exhaled and glowered at her. She imagined a Dragon huffily blowing smoke in her direction.

I was wrong. In part! I stand by my statements, but it is a disgraceful situation that Wistram is in. Morally and magically bankrupt. They treated the children of another world like toys and frankly—their own number as well. Did you hear about Archmage Amerys escaping?”

“Nope.”

Ryoka bookmarked this for later, and Eldavin gave her the briefest of rundowns.

“Another issue. The King of Destruction, other people discovering Earthers—just this morning, someone finally deigned to mention how many were in the Blighted Kingdom. Too many to be coincidental or even accidentally discovered. Well, Silvenia, the Death of Magic, might well be behind your appearances. I noticed the magic twisting towards Rhir, but I thought it might have something to do with your meeting the fae.”

Ryoka frowned deeply as she took a sip of tea despite herself. Eldavin kept poking the solid crystal bracelet. He looked up, though, and spoke slowly.

“…Did you find what you wanted? Your friend? Ivolethe?”

“I did. But I didn’t save Erin. Actually, trying to find a cure landed me in this mess.”

His gaze softened.

“Ah. Fae rules and logic. Nothing without a cost. I told you that—but perhaps it’s all part of one of their little games. You were there. You heard that all the pieces are in place. Your friend will live.”

The Wind Runner looked up and talked to him earnestly. At least about this.

“Do you think that [Doctor] is right? It’s not grand magic.”

The Archmage harrumphed.

“It is intelligent, a collection of many high-level parts, and I saw no flaw in it. Not everything need be solved by the highest-leveled spell, my dear.”

My dear. Ryoka stopped…and nodded. Eldavin watched her and took his hands away from the bangle.

“I’m done.”

Ryoka eyed Rhisveri’s bracelet, still hovering around her arm. It still glowed and looked the same as before.

“What? Just like that?”

For answer, Eldavin tugged at it, and it floated off Ryoka’s arm. She jerked, and he handed it to her.

“Adeptly made. I will own, superior spellcasting. But hasty. You understand? Whomever made it—Duke Rhisveri, I presume—assumed no one was capable of matching his expertise. So he spent little actual effort.”

Ryoka shook her head, almost smiling.

“He is going to hate that.”

“So you are speaking to him. He is not—forcing you to be here. Or rather, you are more messenger than prisoner I hope? Has he done anything?”

Eldavin sat back, and Ryoka looked at him. The Archmage of Memory’s gaze was sharp on her face. Ryoka hesitated.

“That is a hugely complicated problem. I hope you can appreciate that?”

Eldavin snorted, but softly.

“My girl, I am used to any mess you could envision. Including this one. Even the cadence of your voice is so familiar…”

He trailed off. Before Ryoka could go on, he held up a finger.

“Let me first say a few things. Firstly, no one is listening to us. No one can. Not ghost nor powerful spellcaster. Not even the Death of Magic. If anything does watch us, it is so unimaginable to me as to be beyond even him. The Faerie King himself.”

“That’s a bold claim.”

Ryoka sat up, heart beating faster. Eldavin just nodded at her.

“It is, but I recognize fae-gaze as well as the eyes of the dead. You can see them, you know. Not just ghosts.”

“I…did not know that.”

Eldavin waved it off.

“They keep trying to spy. Or others do. Actually, I could write a list of observers, ones I recognize and those too powerful to trace. But nothing is here. Not even the dead. There was a particularly ornery ghost in Wistram. I only realized it later. But I’ll just turn the academy into a null spot where it can’t inhabit. Cruel—but ghosts are like that.”

Ryoka blinked at him. No fucking way. Eldavin went on, flicking another finger up.

“Second, I appreciate how dangerous this Rhisveri character is. Not just him—you must know I ran into eight exceptionally dangerous…people. People that I do not know. Perhaps I’ve forgotten them, but they were truly, amazingly deadly, if not as powerful as Rhisveri. I nearly died.”

A tiny flutter in his voice, and he took a breath.

“I nearly died, and believe me, that was a terrifying moment. I underestimated my foes, and I will not do so again. Hence the paranoia.”

He waved a hand around the entire camp. Ryoka just listened as Eldavin looked at her.

“You’ve come because of that young woman. If you are being coerced—if that [Lord], Sammial Veltras, is in danger, I urge you to tell me whatever you need. Because, Ryoka, I can protect you here. I can lean, diplomatically, on Ailendamus, perhaps even exchange prisoners. But I cannot protect you outside of my immediate location. I would like to talk and be honest. Can we do that, or have you more reservations?”

He looked at her with genuine concern. She believed it, in every line of the way he looked at her, the way he sat, a bit too far forwards, the tone of his voice.

Yet she just looked at him.

“You’ve changed, Eldavin. You wouldn’t do this—teach all the [Mages] this magic. Never, you told me. Never.”

His lips parted, and he sighed so faintly she only sensed the air leaving his lungs.

“Yes. I suppose I have, haven’t I?”

He gave her a long look.

“…Am I that much worse than you remember me?”

Ryoka’s eyes stung. She looked at him, half-shook her head, and stared out the tent at the camp.

“No. I see what you’re doing and why. But the consequences, the risk—giving people magic? What’s your reason?”

Eldavin scratched a finger over the saucer, levitated up the teacup, and took a sip. He thought for a long time, then looked at her.

“Outrage.”

Ryoka’s head rose. Eldavin clarified.

“Outrage over petty people, wasting lives. Outrage over tyrants, or those who stand still and say nothing but shout loud when lives can be saved. If I hide away, I am culpable of doing nothing. If I do something, anything—I must do all I can. I hid until you dared me to try. When I did, I was ashamed.”

She opened her mouth, but Eldavin put a finger to her lips—or would have if she hadn’t recoiled. He went on.

“The second part is—fear. When these…House Shoel children attacked me, I feared I would die. I realized there was some group with power equivalent to mine—and they had longer to prepare. I am giving magic away because I need to combat them. See here.”

He showed her the scroll he was working on.

“Plans to improve the power of enchanting. To layer multiple effects or simply make what would be beyond Gold-rank enchantments today.”

“For who?”

“House Wellfar. They’ll be able to build better boats. Ships. Those giant tugboats. Nothing on the level of The Pride of the Wellfar—yet, but perhaps in time? I am giving them hints. It was part of their fee to enter the war, you see.”

“Why? Why are you pitting yourself against Ailendamus? For me? They’re not your enemies.”

Eldavin’s head rose and gave Ryoka a sardonic look.

“My dear Ryoka Griffin. Not even for you would I risk that much. I am a practical person. I would be less overtly aggressive after seeing the odds—and I confess, I thought it would be far easier yesterday. No. They offend me. That is it. Pure and simple.”

He rose, and Ryoka saw him gesture to the left rooms.

“No doubt you wish to meet Paxere. I hope you will tell me what you can. You are not prohibited from doing so by spell or Skill. As I said…”

“You would know. I’m aware.”

He half-turned, saw Ryoka standing, and hesitated. They locked gazes, and Eldavin strode forwards.

“Well then. Let me tell you what I have intuited and see.”

Ryoka followed slowly. She felt like she was in that dream-like state of almost believing this was fake. But knowing it was real. A sense of surreality, but she followed Eldavin, hanging on his words.

“I see a cabal of powerful individuals. Perhaps…no. I will not speculate, but a true power behind Ailendamus. So magically powerful that they put the Archmages of today to shame. Not, perhaps, this Paxere, but she casts magic as strongly, and if she is a child, I shudder to imagine how many and how powerful they are. What I see, then, Ryoka, are tyrants. Who manipulate their people into wars for their gain.”

Eldavin’s voice floated down the corridor as she followed him. He turned once, eyes flashing.

“I have fought that kind of injustice. I—remember—fighting, risking my life to end it. Once. Once, I killed my own people to end it.

The Dragonlord of Flame. She saw him there, battling other Dragons. When? When the Walled Cities stood tall, and when Dragons ruled other species?

Crossing the skies of Chandrar, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Humans like the Quarass? Eldavin’s voice was harsh, his gaze wrathful.

“They threaten me with death if I expose them. But if I expose them—that is a risky move. Other nations are already watching Ailendamus. Perhaps we fight in the shadows, things unsaid, but I oppose them. I suffer tyrants, and I have seen and left evil unopposed like the Necromancer. But evil that does not end—do you know Nerrhavia? The immortal tyrant?”

“I’ve heard of her.”

Ryoka whispered, though she didn’t know the Chandrarian tales. Eldavin hesitated as they came to a door.

“…I see how dangerous it could be. But forgive me. I have taken drastic measures, arming children with weapons and ideas from your world. I will not condone that which will change this world for the worse. But sometimes we must unveil all we have to combat evil.”

She just looked at him. The door was plain, and probably enchanted, but Ryoka reached out and turned the handle. Eldavin watched her as she hesitated, then opened the door himself and stepped inside.

Paxere’s cell was no dingy dungeon with moss and cracked stones. There were no implements of torture. The room was actually pure white.

A void. Nothing to grab or see or use. She sat in a circle of magic, without chains or other restraining objects besides…spells.

But she was a prisoner. The instant the door opened, Ryoka heard Paxere’s voice. The young, arrogant Lucifen was speaking. She stopped and heard Paxere, not precisely enunciating words, but speaking so fast she tripped over herself, a string of nonsense, of phrases of…

“—not qualified to judge, Mother? Igolze was younger. You said yourself you don’t agree with all the decisions. How am I to prove myself with stifling—Sariant Lambs are so pretty, Razia. I love them. Yes, that is irony—the value of sugar because of the Baleros monopoly—Menorkel, just tell Rhisveri you don’t want to train—”

She was switching from topic to topic without pause, and her head was lolling. The Lucifen girl’s gaze was unfocused, and Ryoka saw a healed stump where her pointer-finger was missing on her left hand.

Her horns were visible, and her Devil’s tail. The grey-skinned young woman neither saw nor noticed Ryoka and Eldavin as Ryoka came to a standstill.

The only other objects in the room were a sheet of parchment and a quill, which took down her entire confusing dictation like a blur. Eldavin lifted a hand, and Paxere’s voice muted, though her mouth kept moving.

Ryoka stared at the Lucifen, and her skin crawled. Now she felt sick. Now the shoe dropped.

“What have you—”

Eldavin was watching her. Carefully.

“[Babble]. A superior version of—it doesn’t matter. She has a death spell on her if she reveals anything important, but she refused to answer any questions, and I did not wish to…torture her. But I did have to know. I know there are more—that Rhisveri and this ‘Visophecin’ are among the best. I have a list of names, and I understand how dangerous she is.”

Ryoka just looked at Paxere. Then at the Dragon.

“Dangerous.”

He nodded, almost blocking her vision of Paxere. He looked…guilty.

Afraid.

And wary. Of her.

“Yes. She is actually immune to Tier 1-2 spells. Which is not astonishing in and of itself, but her resistance to magic is one thing. I believe she is strong, innately talented with darkness and fire magic, and capable of using some kinds of abilities or shared powers I don’t know. She is weak to light. And a certain…chaotic subset of magic.”

How do you know that?

Eldavin folded his hands in his robes.

“I did not hurt her, Ryoka. But there are dozens of her kind, aren’t there? How old does she grow? How dangerous would they be? They rule one of the largest powers in Terandria. They must be stopped. She eats people.”

“I know. Criminals.”

Eldavin’s brows snapped together.

“You know…? Criminals by whose standards? No—no, there is nuance here.”

He paced back and forth, then turned to her.

“It matters not. These are the rulers of Ailendamus, aren’t they? I had cause enough to oppose them—now I see. Do you know…Vampires? They are extinct, although I truly doubt that. But they once ruled with such terror that the world barely stopped them. Vampire Humans were bad enough. They could become Vampire Lords or Kings—those, though, had different names for them. A stupid system. Wyvern Lords. Goblin Lords. Vampire Lords. It comes from our notion of how to categorize threats.”

“Eldavin.”

He went on, ignoring her, speaking too fast, speaking over her. Like a lecturing old man, regardless of species. Ryoka looked at Paxere. She looked at Eldavin.

“Let me finish. Regular species becoming Vampires were bad enough, but have you ever conceived of a Vampire Kraken? Vampiric Selphids? Vampires of any species. And believe me—they only did a Vampire Kraken once. Even their own kind realized how disastrous that was when it ate its own kind, ate every fleet it could find, and—”

Eldavin. You are a Dragon!

There was a better way to say that. A better time. Ryoka didn’t care. Now was the moment. It had been bubbling in her chest the very moment she had walked into his tent, and she had been weighing the dangers. Trying to see him.

It came out now, as she stared at an immortal, a dangerous one who had tried to kill him…but a child, babbling under magic. At Eldavin’s paranoid gifts of magic.

At his morality and nobility changed by his forgetfulness.

The half-Elf stopped speaking. At first, it seemed like he was going to snap at Ryoka to not interrupt—then he heard her.

He staggered back. Eldavin clutched at his chest, and his eyes went wide. Ryoka thought he was having a heart-attack.

He just stood there. Frozen, panting, looking at her without words in his mouth. Stunned…and she felt her own heart beating painfully.

“You are a Dragon. You are better than this, Eldavin. Teriarch. What happened?”

The Archmage of Memory looked at Ryoka, and then his lips moved.

“I…forgot. I still cannot remember. I am trapped, Ryoka.”

He reached out to her and then stared at his hand. The half-Elf…the Dragon…Eldavin looked at the fragment of Teriarch and how Ryoka saw him.

At last, he knew.

 

——

 

Paxere sat, head in her hands. No longer babbling in her cell. She could not hear what the Wind Runner and Archmage were saying, but the magic was gone.

Ryoka and Eldavin sat back at his table. The half-Elf kept starting and stopping. When he did manage something coherent, he just said…

“Vampires. There were Vampire Dragons too, you know.”

Of all the things to bring up—Ryoka just shook her head. She felt like he was giving her another lecture, like he did in his cave, but it was Eldavin still. He was not Teriarch.

“What happened?”

“They were slain. Believe me. That kind of power mixed with vampiric nature? They were slain. I know it. I think I…killed some. I was not tempted. I saw the rot and obsession, the need for blood. You see, I can remember these things. Some of my memory is here. The rest is gone. Such as my true nature.”

She nodded. He was explaining how it came to be.

“How did it happen?”

The Archmage was shamefaced.

“…Would you believe I was struck in the head?”

Ryoka lifted her teacup to throw it at him, and he raised his hands.

“I was struck by a Truestone Golem, the most potentially magically-disruptive entity in the world. In battle. Cognita of Wistram hit me while I was unguarded, trying to undo the magics binding her to loyalty to that poor excuse for an Archmage, Zelkyr. It is still a poor excuse—but in context, it is what happened.”

Ryoka lowered the teacup.

“Cognita of Wistram? Why were you trying to free her?”

Eldavin sighed.

“I don’t recall. No, stop threatening me with porcelain! I don’t recall everything. Some of it is gone, but I can only assume I found her slavery abhorrent. She was compelled to love her creator, you see. Do you understand…?”

Ryoka did and felt sick. Yes, if there were ever something to motivate Teriarch to risk it all—it would be that. She looked at Eldavin.

“Can you reestablish the link? Fix it?”

“No. Not without going to my body. It’s like fixing something within a bottle. The link is severed so I, that is…Teriarch…would have to do it from the outside. Now I know. So that’s who I drew mana from.”

Ryoka was instantly alarmed. Eldavin clarified.

“I needed it to survive my battle with the Lucifen! I will be exceedingly careful. But I’m a Dragon. I thought I’d die.”

“And if you died in this body…”

He nodded.

“The potential for a simulacra spell, which is what I was sure I used, to kill the host is not impossible. Mind you, it’s rare. I am a Dragon. Well, thank goodness! I was worried I was something else!”

He laughed in genuine relief, and Ryoka started.

“What? You knew?”

Eldavin raised a brow.

“Ryoka, I am not blind. I noticed there were problems to begin with, but I didn’t know—a Dragon. It suits me. I thought I was a Unicorn or worse, some kind of magical plant or object that gained sentience! They can do that, you know.”

“I know.”

Eldavin eyed Ryoka, and she realized he’d picked up on that. Lady Patergost was a suit of armor that had come to life. She closed her mouth, but Eldavin leaned forwards.

“Ryoka, I understand now why Magnolia and you were so alarmed. Believe me—I can well imagine how nervous you might have been. Fear not. I swear I will head back to Izril, wake up my body, and the Teriarch you know will be back.”

Ryoka exhaled. She didn’t know what she’d feared, to be honest. It was still Eldavin.

“Good! Can you go now? Or do you not have the ability to teleport that far? I could…I have to go back, but if you can take me, I’ll go with you. And then can we see Erin?”

Eldavin drummed his fingers on the table.

“That’s a continent-wide jump. I’d need a ritual site. Which I can build. But I might as well use the Order of Seasons’. They have an inefficient version, but I can do it. You do know [Greater Teleport] is the most obnoxiously mana-intensive spell, don’t you? Scrolls are valuable, even to me.”

“Well, how long to get there?”

Ryoka rose and put her hands on the table. She was trying to think. Tyrion needed to stop his advance. She realized that they had to get Sammial to him or at least stop this impending battle, or Veltras’ part in it. Return Paxere, then—but how to tell them about Eldavin?

The Archmage was frowning.

“I think Valeterisa set up a teleportation network. I just ask her for the coordinates to the nearest one to my…cave? Did you say I lived in a cave?”

“It’s better on the inside.”

Eldavin shuddered.

“I should hope so! The High Passes. Why would I settle there? It’s dangerous—even for a Dragon! By the way—which color am I?”

“Er—brass.”

“Brass. Hm. Well, that’s good. I couldn’t stand to be gold. Snooty. Is that instinct or just bias in my current stage? So I ask Valeterisa for coordinates. That expedites the matter. I’ll head back as soon as I’m prepared. After this war is over.”

Ryoka’s head turned. She stopped grinning like a loon and focused on Eldavin.

“Huh? What?”

The Archmage looked at Ryoka, calmly, eyes alight with relief and confidence. He knew who he was. That just made the words coming out of his mouth all the more surreal.

“After the war. I cannot abandon the forces here. And these cabal members are far too dangerous, even if I don’t expose them. Now that I know I am a Dragon, I can rely on that knowledge. I wonder if I can access my memory? Either way, I can be more daring in my attacks.”

“Wh—what are you saying? No! Go back to your cave and wake up! Now!

“I must prepare first, Ryoka—”

What’s stopping you? You know who you are! Go and become you again!

She surged upright, but Eldavin caught her hands as she went to shake him. He was effortlessly strong and hesitated. Ryoka drew breath to scream, and the Archmage whispered the final clue in the dread that was returning tenfold.

“I…do not wish to die, Ryoka.”

Die? What was he talking ab—then Ryoka looked at him.

Him. Eldavin. And the Archmage’s eyes were terribly afraid.

“You won’t die. You’re a Dragon.”

“I know. I know Teriarch is. But I am a distinct entity, Ryoka. I’ve heard of it happening. Simulacra that experience distortion. Eldavin has no longer synced with Teriarch. Therefore, when I wake him—Eldavin will vanish. Unless I separate the two via magic. If I wake him now, I vanish. I am sure it is painless. Welcome, perhaps. Perhaps he would remember who I am. But I…”

She saw it. The very core of the Teriarch she knew. Nothing changed, just him—in Eldavin’s body. Fear. Old fear, the greatest survivor, beyond even Rhisveri, who had seen his kind perish.

Teriarch, Eldavin, whispered it in a cracked voice, as if asking her to understand and forgive.

I do not want to die. Please, understand that.”

Her hands and legs were so weak, Ryoka sagged. Eldavin patted them and let go. He looked at Ryoka.

“I…fear death, Ryoka. I fear it so much I cannot explain it. I must be old.”

“Ancient of days. Dragonlord of Flame.”

He twitched at that.

“I? How old…no. Teriarch. I know that name. He is not just ten thousand years old. He is so old…! Khelt is a child that was never born when he flew the skies. I am him? No wonder he hides. No wonder I—do I know Ailendamus?”

“Go back. Please?”

She begged him like a girl, but Eldavin was shaking his head.

“After the war. It won’t take long, Ryoka. And if I die—well, I can be more daring. There is no risk to me. Or little. Listen—I will return this Paxere if you wish, but I would rather exchange her for Sammial Veltras. It can be done within the hour. Less! I will tell this Rhisveri. Oh damn, I have those gnats bothering me for an interview on House Wellfar.”

There was a faint clamor outside his tent, of Telim arguing with [Mages] and…Drassi’s voice? Eldavin glanced at Ryoka.

“Let’s resolve this first. They won’t get in unless I will it. I swear, Ryoka, Teriarch is not in danger. Neither am I, unless I take a truly dangerous wound and die.”

He was distracting, deflecting. Ryoka mumbled as Eldavin turned.

“What do you mean? A simulacra…”

“…Can influence the host. The trauma of the death or injury matters, Ryoka. But I’m a Dragon, not a giant, ten-thousand year-old Sage’s Grass plant. Why, I can imagine Cognita might have killed me badly enough if I really just stood there, but a mundane wound?”

Eldavin grinned and brushed down his robes.

“Not that I am likely to take it. But they would have had to hit me as hard as they hit Lesegoth!”

“Where’s that?”

Ryoka’s head was low. Eldavin was chattering on, relieved, even energized.

“Another fragment of memory. You know, I have all this useless information about Warmage Thresk? I must have added it to my memory here so I could tell you. A mysterious fellow—Albez was wiped out by some horrific beastial creature, and Thresk I think was eaten along with a nearby tribe before a Gnoll slew it. One of those old stories. But, ah, the other great [Mages] of Albez didn’t all die. In fact, his closest companion, I think his lover, the [Temporal Mage]…Udatron? He vanished in the last battle. [Time Mages] do that sort of thing. Useless. Where was I? Lesegoth?”

“How hard did they get hit? Why does this matter, Eldavin?”

The problem was, Eldavin had true stories. Fascinating stories. All he had to do was turn and say…

“The City of Shields. The most defensive city of the Drakes ever built. Dragons like me failed to take it. You know Manus? Still around? It had nothing on the City of Shields.”

“But someone still destroyed it?”

Eldavin scoffed at Ryoka’s raised brow.

“Just listen. Every city can simply be overwhelmed by too many high-level foes. Yes, countless armies had besieged it for over three decades when the final blow came. After all that fighting, the highest-levelled individuals—and immortal beings—dealt the final blow. They launched a volcano at it.”

“…A what?”

“An entire volcano. Ash, lava—”

They threw a volcano at the City of Shields.

Eldavin chuckled. But there was a note of sadness in his tone, and he and Ryoka stopped and heard it. The Archmage of Memory grew somber.

“No. No, that was not how Lesegoth fell. It survived. So then the greatest [Alchemist] of that time used a grand experiment with devastating effects. It turned every ordinary bit of metal into something that exploded when it reached contact with the air. Or maybe it was just…unstable. Every scrap of metal in the City of Shields. Including the elements in the body.”

Ryoka’s blood chilled at the notion. Now, Eldavin was caught in the memory.

Yet still the City of Shields stood, in wreckage, defiant. Still they held. Then—and only then—the combined armies cast a Tier 9 spell. And Lesegoth fell.”

“They cast a Tier 9 spell? None of that was…?”

Ryoka’s head rose. Eldavin shuddered, shaking his head and turning away from the vivid memory he must have seen.

“Yes. They offered the Drakes every chance to surrender and leave without retribution. They refused.”

“So someone would have to hit you as hard as that to kill you?”

Ryoka’s voice was incredibly sarcastic, and Eldavin turned his head to glare at her. He searched around for the [Message] scroll he had been talking to Duke Rhisveri with. Was he…? He’d have to get it out of Ryoka.

“I’m sure you know hyperbole, my dear. It’s an analogy. I can’t survive that kind of trauma, but Dragons survived fistfights with Giants. I will be careful not to give myself that kind of shock. Short of that? Tsing. I won’t fear—”

Eldavin stopped talking abruptly. His eyes unfocused. He didn’t see, as his eyes stared vacantly ahead, the brilliantly pink blade made out of light protruding from his neck.

Then the blade moved and severed the Archmage of Memory’s head from his body.

There was so little blood. It was the cleanest cut imaginable.

She still felt it. Ryoka Griffin stood, arms shaking out of control as the body collapsed and blood began to run. His head lay there, lips still parted.

“I’m sorry. Please wake up.”

She hadn’t been able to cut him anywhere else. The Faeblade would have snapped like cheap glass on his enchanted robes.

Ryoka stared at her hands. She nearly dropped the Faeblade—but then turned to retch. He had to wake up. She had to—

No one had expected it. Not her, when she entered this place. Not Eldavin.

 

——

 

Not Emerrhain. The ___ of secrets, hovering in frustration at the edges of Terandria’s shores and trying to see past the wary defenders, frowned. His mouth opened as he sensed it.

“Did she just—what did she just do?”

 

——

 

Ryoka Griffin appeared in front of Paxere, looking violently ill. The Lucifen rose.

“You can tell that Archmage—what’s wrong?”

She could hear nothing, but she saw Ryoka checking the magical barrier around Paxere. She swung her Faeblade, yet it broke into a million pieces of dissolving light.

“Well, that did nothing. What…what are you doing? Where did the Archmage go?”

Paxere’s voice was uncertain. She had just felt his magical signature vanish. But that couldn’t mean what she thought it did? Then she saw Ryoka fumbling with the Faeblade. Ryoka motioned to Paxere.

Get back. The Lucifen backed up, and her eyes widened.

What is that?

The barrier broke as the Faeblade blasted the containment spell apart. The Archmage had made it well—yet Ryoka annihilated it. Paxere stuttered.

“That’s not an artifact—how did—?”

“We have to go. I just killed Eldavin.”

Ryoka rasped. The Lucifen girl looked at her.

“Huh? You…but I thought he was your patron.”

Ryoka didn’t answer. She just grabbed Paxere, and the Lucifen felt her connection with the outside world returning. Instantly, someone realized it.

Paxere, report.

Is that you? Where’s that damned Archmage? He just stopped talking to me!

Two simultaneous commands, from Visophecin and Rhisveri respectively. Paxere stumbled after Ryoka, stopped, and murmured a reply.

“Ryoka Griffin just killed him. I’m…I’m staring at his headless corpse.”

Visophecin went silent, but Rhisveri’s exclamation was deafening in Paxere’s head. Ryoka was peeking outside. Paxere backed away from both the Wind Runner and the body.

“We have to go. Can you get us back to Ailendamus? Tell Rhisveri to free Sammial. Or do it.”

“I…I can do that. I can open a gateway. The Lucifen’s way. Is that okay?”

Paxere looked at Ryoka. The Wind Runner turned, half blind. Was she crying? She still held the Faeblade.

“Yes. Do it.”

Paxere had the gateway open and was looking around the tent. Both Rhisveri and Visophecin were demanding clarification, and the Wyrm was also telling her to grab anything she could. One look at Ryoka’s expression, and Paxere was disinclined to.

“Should we just…?”

Paxere saw Ryoka hesitate. She swept around the room.

“No. Just go!”

“Rhisveri wants me to erase any recordings. If we can—”

Fucking go! You can do it later!

Ryoka shouted at Paxere, and the Lucifen went pale. With fright? The Wind Runner controlled herself and then realized—

Paxere wasn’t staring at her. Slowly, Ryoka Griffin’s head turned.

 

——

 

For a second, a sleeping Dragon drew breath. His eyes fluttered and his heart beat. Just once. Then—

Ryoka Griffin had made a terrible mistake. She had taken Eldavin at his word. He had trusted her in that moment enough with the truth. But she had made a single mistake, and it was this:

She had assumed a Dragon would create a simulacra that could die from something like being beheaded.

“Ryoka…?”

A severed head’s eyes moved. Unfocused. The blood began moving back into the body. The body jerked, flailed around, and then Eldavin’s torso rose. The head drifted back into place, but facing the wrong way. The blood pooling in the eyes had turned the whites red. Two unfocused pupils slowly drifted together.

And looked at her. Eldavin’s body swiveled around as Paxere froze, and Ryoka just stared in horror at him. She saw the line of blood slowly closing, and then Eldavin focused. On her.

His look of betrayal was complete.

What did they do to you? Why—

He looked up, lifted an arm, and the Faeblade shattered on contact. Ryoka had hit the wrong button, and the blade broke on his robes.

Ryoka—

The Archmage was stumbling, disoriented, and retreating. Ryoka whirled the blade at his head again as it reappeared. Eldavin, stumbling, blood on his robes, backed out of the tent as she lunged and missed his head.

That was the scene that played out on the scrying orb for Tyrion Veltras. The waiting Wistram television crew saw the Archmage of Memory fall down, hands raised, as the Wind Runner of Reizmelt stabbed down and missed his head. He shouted.

Ryoka—

 

——

 

Then the Archmage’s camp and the Terras faction exploded into fighting. Flynn was in the enchanted lavatories when he heard the first spell coming down.

“Someone’s throwing spells at the camp! Get to safety!”

As he raced outside, Pokey barking, Flynn heard a mix of voices.

“It’s the Wind Runner! She tried to assassinate the Archmage!”

Kill her!

“No, capture her!”

Ryoka? Flynn couldn’t believe his ears, but then he saw a fiery meteor hit the barrier spells above his head and detonate. Regardless, he was getting into his armor.

“Pokey! Hide!”

He pointed her to the safest place he could think of, and the Needlehound dog ran. Flynn took minutes getting into the armor and into the sky.

When he did get up there, he thought he’d made a mistake. Eldavin’s barriers were dueling with spells that punched through, some obliterating his summoned creatures or targeting the camp.

Yet the Archmage of Memory himself was up there. And—was he fighting or fleeing the Wind Runner?

None of the spells were tracking her. If anything, they were shielding her from the [Mages]. One punched down, a black bolt, and Flynn twisted to avoid it. He saw someone falling, and his heart froze as he saw a hole in a breastplate.

I thought the armor was—

Flynn dove for cover. But then he saw Ryoka fighting.

She was chasing Eldavin, the glowing sword in her hands swinging at his neck. He thought he heard her screaming and Eldavin shouting at her.

Net spells, capture spells flew around the two, but neither one was caught. They dodged and chased across the field past Telim, who flew like a rock. Ryoka curved around an armored figure, and the wind slammed one of them into the ground. She tried to behead Eldavin twice. Both times he twisted or blocked her with magic.

Ryoka!

Flynn heard the Archmage howling as the Wind Runner seemed to realize she would never kill him. The [Mages] of the Terras faction were regrouping, and the Order of Seasons had galloped into the camp. They couldn’t fight the bombardments, but their combined auras were blocking spells.

She turned to flee, and Eldavin followed her. Flynn witnessed the last moments, as Ryoka turned, screaming something at him. Why did he slow? He was furious, face white, eyes wide. They shouted confusing things at each other.

What did they do to you?”

That came from Eldavin, and Flynn understood something of that. The betrayed Archmage of Memory dove with wings of fire, shaking. He almost had Ryoka when she shouted, and then the air twisted around her.

Did he see a clawed hand grab her out of the sky? She vanished in a distortion, and Eldavin howled his fury.

Rhisveri!

But he had hesitated. Throughout the rest of it, Flynn wondered what it had meant. That one thing Ryoka had shouted at Eldavin.

Wake up.

 

——

 

There was more to this than just one Human girl’s relationship with a Dragon. It was about a war…the Dragon just happened to be a very big, pivotal part of the war. The Human had done everything she had thought was for the best, and it had backfired in her face in the most monumental way.

The fallout was just beginning. But of note was, perhaps, the Wyrm’s look of bafflement and almost-respect when Visophecin pulled Ryoka back into Ailendamus’ palace.

“Did you do that for me?”

She just began to laugh, hysterically, in his face. But the immortals certainly looked at her differently. Especially Paxere.

So…why? The immortals stood in curious judgment. They had to know. Ryoka looked at them, and gave them the same answer she would give Cara if…when she explained. To Magnolia. Of all of them, Magnolia might understand.

“Why did you do it? I thought you liked him. Did someone…did Rhisveri make you?”

Everyone turned to the Wyrm as Paxere spoke, still shaky from her rescue, but Ryoka shook her head. She turned to the gathered immortals looking at her.

Lucifen and Agelum, Fithea, Sophridel, Rhisveri, and more. They understood something of betrayal. She croaked as she tried to tell them why.

“Eldavin was not…the person I came here to find. He’s just a fragment. Part of the person I know. The person I respected. A hero.”

The only hero she knew. A true hero, who never spoke of what he had done, but who showed it in every weary line, every scar, and hid from a world he had fought too long for. Paxere glanced behind Ryoka uncertainly.

“But then why—he seemed like he was making the [Mages] stronger, but he did nothing to merit—that.”

Azemith herself was uncertain.

Ryoka shook her head. She realized…she had gone there knowing it would end this way. That was why she had looked up the Faeblade’s controls. She had known. But she had to explain.

“He was. It wasn’t for that. Not for the weapons or the magic…it was because of what he did to you. He’s killed before. But all of that?”

She looked around blindly. Terras, great magics of old. Her voice cracked.

“…Do you believe you can die of guilt? The longer he…he’d weep for what he did. When he came to his senses.”

Now he never would. The immortals didn’t understand. Perhaps save Rhisveri or a few who suspected something. Yet even the Archmage was now less threatening.

“He can be slain. We will do it.”

Fithea murmured. Fithea! Everyone else nodded. They were so contemptuous. They talked about Eldavin as if he had captured Paxere as a fluke, as if he’d gotten lucky. Ryoka shouted at all of them present.

“Don’t—don’t look like that! You think this was an accident? You think Visophecin or the others could have beaten him? If they tried, they would die. Even Rhisveri.”

She pointed a shaking finger at the Wyrm, who looked affronted. Yet Ryoka kept going, looking at each one in turn.

“You have no idea what Eldavin could do. You think you do. You think you’re the greatest beings to ever walk this world. But he could bring you all to ruin. He was preparing for war, and if any one person can end your dream of Ailendamus, it will be him. He would have woken you with fire and blood, and the more he tried, the longer he stood against you, the worse it would have been. I did not want to see him stride through the palace and leave only ash behind.”

That silenced them. Because Ryoka had seen them, knew them, and she still claimed it. Rhisveri’s eyes flickered, but the Lucifen stood in silent judgment. Paxere sounded like Igolze, her voice distant and cold as she turned to Ryoka.

“Yet you could have reasoned with him. Did you try to change his mind? Did you ask or did you execute him in cold blood?”

Ryoka spat phlegm and bile and guilt onto the floor.

“No. No, I didn’t. I couldn’t change his mind. He fears death more than anything else. So I betrayed him. I thought…I hoped it would save his soul. He should never have gone to Wistram. He was right. There is one last great war that I could have ever asked of him. I hope he’ll forgive me. I hope someday…he’ll tell me I did the right thing. Perhaps he never will.”

She had known Teriarch, the Dragonlord of Flame. Respected him, hated his inaction, but looked up to him. She did not know Eldavin, the Archmage of Memory. To Ryoka, one was just a shadow parroting the body of the other. Hurting him without even knowing why. Ryoka sat down.

Eldavin was different than Teriarch. The two were linked, but one was a stranger and the other hostage to the first’s life. Eldavin had done nothing wrong other than exist. Still, she looked up. When she met Rhisveri’s eyes, she spoke to him, and only him, and all of them…but to him.

“In another time, in another world and another if, he would have been right here. Among you all. He would have protected you without a second thought and sacrificed everything to keep you alive. For hope. I couldn’t let him destroy his own kind. If he ever wakes, that knowledge will never leave him.”

A gasp ran around the room. Rhisveri just looked at her and sighed. He already knew, but Ryoka gazed at him and then the others.

“Please. Kill him.”

 

——

 

It was all about Rhisveri. But it wasn’t about him. Ryoka had just made her attack on Eldavin a worldwide event, dramatic, and Tyrion Veltras had seen it.

So had Magnolia Reinhart. And she took the worst of the worst from what she saw. She could only speculate what it meant until she spoke to either…but she knew.

As for Tyrion? He kept watching as Drassi discussed the fallout with whomever she could find—not Eldavin—and then the news cycle cut to a horrible, discordant view of…

Ailendamus.

It should not have, but Eldavin had ordered them to stop broadcasting now. And…well…Ailendamus had paid for the time slot. Promises had to be kept. So the audience, who had just witnessed a rather upsetting battle, were treated to the magnificent vistas of Ailendamus.

The Kingdom of Glass and Glory’s capital seems far away from the front. But here I am in a rare tour of the palace. I believe that’s a real Pegasus in the background being groomed; Ailendamus does not lack for magical animals of any kind, as we’ll see, and they incorporate culture and knowledge from around the world…

A [Presenter] was reading from a script, blissfully ignorant of the drama in the world. At the very least, the tour of Ailendamus was tone-deaf, but it had layers of horribility.

Like, for instance, the possibility of capturing an Agelum or Lucifen on screen. Or Gilaw doing something. Or Ryoka Griffin just walking out of a hallway talking to Rhisveri, or…

The sheer possibilities were endless. However, interestingly, the camera did not capture Ryoka Griffin and a Wyrm. Mainly because the recording crew were not allowed anywhere near the royal wing.

They did just happen to run across a [Princess] and young [Lord] racing about in a real display of youth, athleticism, and friendliness between cultures. Oesca had been briefed and stopped to give a charming smile and bow to the camera—but Sammial had not.

Where’s Ryoka? She’s always running off! Who are you?

He was kicking around, furious at being left alone—and the Singer of Terandria hadn’t even been entertaining! The camera focused on him as he was shown to the Five Families, and his father, to be well—and, well, Sammial.

“Wistram? I’m on the news?”

When the [Lord] heard this he was agog. He peered at the camera.

“Eh. This is boring. It’s just a scrying orb.”

He lost interest at once, shoved a finger up his nose, and the [Mages] were treated to a real close up of—

“Er…did you say Ryoka Griffin, young man?”

One of the Wistram [Mages] wanted to be a reporter for the Terandrian broadcast of Wistram News Network, and he could read [Message] spells.

The aspiring [Reporter] saw Sammial glance up, and everyone traded glances as Sammial wiped his hand on his coat.

“Yep. She has a room here. Want to see? I wonder if she’s back. Maybe she is. Sometimes there are all kinds of weird people in there. Naked people, Viscounts…she’s never boring. Oesca, let’s go check!”

The…implications of what he was saying aside, the [Lord] ran, and Oesca ran too, hiking up her dress and trying to run in heels.

Another proof that trousers were the more efficient mode of transportation! She quite liked Sammial, and even if her mother hadn’t asked for the moment, she would have followed the [Lord] around.

Ryoka was interesting? Sammial was interesting! He was unrestrained, and to Oesca, that was great.

Sammial yanked the doors open to Ryoka’s room—an unwise move—having the magical passkey, but found neither [Knights] nor anyone else inside.

The Wistram team was just running down the hallway—which was right next to the royal section where Rhisveri was—clutching at their sides. They were not in great shape, and the flustered [Presenter] had lost the footrace to Oesca and Sammial, who ran like children. Eternally quick until they dropped.

“Fecking idiot! That cunt isn’t here!”

Sammial happily bellowed, using some of Cara’s adjectives about Ryoka Griffin. The TV crew were debating whether they should stay on this topic or go back to the tour and the [Presenter] was dragging them back to a safe place when Sammial’s voice drifted out of the room.

“Oh hey. She’s gotten a present. I wonder what this is?”

A brief pause, and then Oesca’s voice was suddenly high-pitched, terrified.

Sammial! My rings! Don’t t—

Then—on live television—the entire screen flashed. Sound was lost. When, after ten heart-pounding moments, the vision was restored, someone was screaming.

Two bodies were lying there—Wistram’s crew. A dizzy face of a Human came into focus, and the [Reporter], looking dazed, reached for the scrying orb.

“What happened. What…was that a spell?”

His voice was the only audible thing. Someone began blowing a horn next, and then there was shouting.

Attack! Magical—

A roaring voice came out of nowhere, and then there were [Knights], rushing around. Servants screaming and panic.

But through it all, the [Reporter] pressed forwards, one thought in his mind. And indeed—everyone’s mind.

The two children. What had…?

The blast had taken out most of Ryoka’s room and part of the palace. It left only open air, and the dust and debris was such that nothing was visible at first. [Bodyguards] rushed around, but it was the [Reporter] who followed a [Nursemaid] who leapt into the dust and began digging, heedless of the dust and cuts on her hands from the shards.

She’s here! She’s right—

The [Knights] joined her and furiously began digging. As the shaky camera watched, a figure appeared out of the dust. No…

Two?

Lord Sammial Veltras and Princess Oesca of Ailendamus lay there, unconscious, Oesca bleeding from her nose.

But unharmed. The [Princess] had clasped her arms around Sammial Veltras, and her tiara was cracked down the stem. The protective magics had shielded them both.

They were alive. More than that was unclear, as a [Knight] noticed the scrying orb, grabbed for it—and everything went dark. Queen Oiena’s first royal broadcast of Ailendamus and Sammial Veltras’ clear and unequivocal wellbeing turned off as Tyrion Veltras watched.

The wine cup rolled around on the floor as the [Lord] of House Veltras inhaled once. A shuddering breath of someone who realized his son was still alive. His heart was still intact. Then the quiet [Lord]’s head rose, and a sword rasped in its sheath as he drew it. There was no foe in front of him, nothing but the shocked exhalations, the gasps and choked sounds of his family.

But Tyrion Veltras swore that the blade that he held under the grip that ground his bones against flesh and metal would not be sheathed until he was holding his son.

As for Queen Oiena? She took one look at her daughter, dazed but alive, bleeding in her home, and made a simpler oath:

For this, someone would die.

 

 

 

 

Author’s Notes: Day 4. So. Where it went wrong was Day 3.

Not the story. The story…I will let you discuss on Reddit, here, Discord, and wherever. It’s not over, but we’re getting there. I wonder how you’ll feel at the end of Volume 8? But we are moving fast for it.

But back to my writing of these 7 days. The flaw was Day 3—I wanted to have the Eldavin section in there.

Which I failed, and this entire chapter resolves that. True, I did make it a full chapter, but it’s messing with my timelines.

Nothing for it, though. I have to do what I can, and I was not about to write another chapter as long as this one. This is live-writing, web serial writing, and it changed based on factors besides the actual writing itself, if that makes sense. If I get sick, I write when I’m sick.

Or I dunno, die, but that’s an outside chance. Hopefully I’m a simulacra and when I get to my real body I find out I’ve been taking it easy this entire time.

I’m not sick. This is an analogy. Hope you…hm. I’m not sure enjoy is always the right word. Hope you find it worth reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

 

Domehead by Enuryn!

(Full-size version here)

 


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202 thoughts on “8.72

    • “apply a gravitron solvent, etc.”

      If this is meant to refer to the hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitational interaction (the quantum of gravity) then it should be “graviton” without the second “r”.

      If gravitons exist in Innverse (iirc their existence hasn’t been confirmed irl) then that could make gravity magic even more fun.

    • Ryoka saw a glowing interface rise out of the Faeblade where the sword would normally be.
      vs
      Ryoka saw a glowing interface rise out of the Faeblade where the blade would normally be.

      The sword is the entire item.

  1. This week has been outstanding. Brilliant and unexpected! Eldavin as a potential Villain is scary as hell. Everything is up in the air at this point!

    • I wonder if Magnolia has a contingency for something like this happening (a rogue Eldavin becoming a villain) would Teriarch share a secret off switch that he has on him?

  2. Who tried to kill Ryoka? The queen thought about ti, but the ending seems like it wasnt her, and Eldavin was trying to protect and capture her, so…. who?

    • The plans of the god of magic. Limited resources, can use Winstrum to cast spells and send objects.

      The plan was less trying to kill her, but more about trying to kill her or the kid since those two are the ones that are tying everyone together within this war. If one dies then the fight will become bloody enough that the Wyrm will be forced to act to kill a dragon.

      After all the Arch Mage of Memory plans on setting up a null zone prevent the “annoying ghost” from pestering Winstrum.

      That would cut the connection between Aron and the God of Magic so long as the kid doesn’t leave… And he has no reason to leave.

      Sometimes you do not need a reason to kill someone… Just the benefits of the fallout.

      • As before he was having “Black Mage” cast a ritual by using his body as a puppet to cast a ritual that involved a perfect circle.

  3. Fucking Ryoka. Is there anything she doesn’t fuck up or make worse? Jesus.

    I’m so outraged I’m compelled to be honest: I’ve always hated the character and resented her presence in the story. But this is her usual obnoxiousness turned up to eleven. Fuck me.

    • I really don’t understand this perspective. What is she fucking up here? Eldavin is clearly a big problem, both from an in-universe perspective (handing out magical power like candy, getting ready to kill a bunch of immortals), and from a writing perspective (he’s way too deus ex machina to be allowed to meddle in absolutely everything). The beauty of his story arc is the tragedy of him coming to do the exact opposite things that Teriarch would want, but being too mortal, in a sense, to ever let himself be killed or reabsorbed into Teriarch. I think Ryoka sees the horror in it and rightly understands that she has to make it happen or it never will. She fails, but that only makes things more interesting from a story perspective. Certain readers have hated her for a number of (mostly inexplicable to me) reasons for a long time, but this is the first time she’ll be cast as a huge villain in-universe. That makes for very gripping reading IMO.

      Personally I’m tired of random things being insta-fixed with magic and a team of idiot humans in mech suits blasting into a conflict they know little about, so I’m very much for Eldavin being challenged or defeated.

      • Agree on the story mechanisms and the fun of this arc, thought I’d throw in why I too find Ryoka super obnoxious. She admitted it the last couple chapters, she doesn’t care about the victims of Ailendamus’s wars. She just doesn’t care. And to add large insult to that injury, she acts so ethical and frequently judges others around her so arrogantly, without actually having a moral pillar to stand on. The hypocrisy grates, it’s like she’s a freshman philosophy student partying with Russian oligarchs while Ukraine burns (Ailendamus immortals and dawn concord respectively ofc). She spent a paragraph in a chapter recently being outraged and worried about their judicial system. The judicial system! While they are killing strangers and making orphans for their own greed and power!

        And I can understand her, sometimes I’ve been her, she’s wonderfully written. But gah so frustrating! I really hope Rabbiteater tries to kill Tyrion Veltras on a related topic, because Veltras is another warmonger who’s gotten the sympathetic treatment lately, and it would be good to remember his misdeeds too.

        • I don’t think it’s ever felt like Ryoka doesn’t care about the war to me. I think she and Cara are on a wavelength about it, but Ryoka is, technically, a prisoner. She can’t just go run off to the frontlines and chop down Ailendamus soldiers (who are about as guilty as their counterparts, which is to say not at all), and while they’re actively working to stop the war in terms of influencing the people who *are* to blame, they’re clearly not interested in simply doing so because she told them they’re being mean.

          I think people confuse her ability to think from an immortal’s perspective with a lack of caring. And it’s true, if you do live forever, it’s hard to care whether someone dies now or a few moments later (relatively speaking). I don’t think Ryoka shares that perspective, I just think she understands it. People will always fight, and for much lesser reasons than securing a safe home, but when the last Wyrm dies there will be no more. I guess I just understand her sympathy towards the immortals rather than comparing them to Putin of all things.

          From a greater story perspective I agree that the plight of the average low-level soldier and their families is generally not focused on, but I don’t think that’s only true here. If you’re gonna be outraged about orphans, you need to be outraged about ALL the orphans, including those on Ailendamus’ side, those the Walled Cities create, those the goblins create, those Flos & co are creating, those Liscor’s war on Hectval are creating, etc. I think Pirate has chosen to portray them as bad things across the board, but also chosen not to think about them too much cause it’s just how the world works. We’ve come a long way from the very beginning of the story where Erin spends an entire chapter mourning a death. The writing would suffer immensely if we had to be sentimental about every cause. I think the real problem for people isn’t Ryoka’s lack of caring about orphans, it’s the fact that Ailendamus has been propped up as this huge enemy and now that we’re finding out it’s more nuanced than that a number of readers are unwilling to move past “Ailendamus evil and must be destroyed.” Maybe that’s not the case for you, but I feel like there’s probably some bias in that direction.

          • Once her token effort to stop the war failed and she been given the opportunity to get Teri back she immediately essentially sell out the alliance by running off to the frontlines and chop down one of their leader and try to discourage another one from participating. She negotiated nothing for the Dawn Concordat in exchange of this, she do not care at all. She only care about the few people she know. Even them, they all can burn if that mean she get Teri back as demonstrated by her complete and shameless betrayal of Cara.

            I do not particularly think Ailendamus is evil or the Dawn Concordat is virtuous. they got their pro and con. But I certainly see why people like the Order of season steeping up can been seen as hero’s. What I think though is that Ryoka is a traitorous, paranoiac, ego centrical, hypocritical, untrusting, murderous asshole. My reasoning is dispersed in other post on this page.

            • Personal insults? Charming, I guess you had to fill some space. Though more argument would have been preferable. She sold out the Draw concordat for a opportunity to murder Eldavin to get Teri faster. Removing Eldavin and Tyrion would basically condemn them. That not stopping the war, that siding with Ailendamus. As for what more could she have done. Well how about trying a modicum of diplomacy before jumping at murder. it would not even have been hard, all was there for it. A mean to bring Sammail back to Tyrion, A very reasonable archmage that was willing to listen if she only tried to talk rater than self justifies murder. Those immortals were already wavering about the war, if they could create a non aggression pact with Eldavin and assurance that their secret is safe they likely would have accepted. But no, once Teri was on the table it was all tunnel vision for Ryoka. Also her most valuable possession are indeed something noteworthy but that all, no risk for herself, no personal cost. Compare that to someone like Cara that risk everything for it. Once Ryoka could say she gave it her all she was done with it. It was mostly self gratification. Sorry, but she is not a good person. She is no murder hobo, but she is a murderer.

          • I came off as arguing about her ethical worth, and that’s not what I intended. This is fiction and I enjoy plenty of characters who’ve done awful shit, and I agree with you in terms of narrative space allocated to sentiment and outrage. What I tried to do was explain why I find her so irritating sometimes, because you’d said you found readers’ dislike of her mostly inexplicable. But you also didn’t mention Ryoka’s tendency to vehemently criticize other people, which is a big part of this.

            For me as a reader, characters who are judgy of the ethics and actions of others, e.g. Cara, cool, fun. Characters who empathize and see folks as people and don’t concern themselves with the reality of their distant actions, e.g. Erin, also fun. Characters who combine those traits, e.g. Ryoka, hypocritical and annoying.

            I think we’re also using the word ‘care’ in different ways, because to me Cara and Ryoka are not on the same wavelength. Ryoka intellectually cares about the war in that it’s a bad thing and she tries to stop it, but she doesn’t care viscerally, it’s not real to her. She is dazzled by the immortals and hobnobs with the elites of Ailendamus, actually enjoying herself while in the back of her head saying yeah they make war but all this stuff is complicated. Whereas Cara is seething with rage and disgust at these people for being warmongers, while putting on a [Thespian] act.

            Just that wouldn’t irritate me about Ryoka, that is understandable and this is fiction, but then she goes and gets actually outraged and critical of their judicial system. She places herself on this higher plane where she can and will passionately judge others, while applying it sporadically.

            Another example is she punched Laken in the stomach for taking her trebuchets to war, then genuinely enjoys herself with the Veltras’s, dismissing / distancing that Tyrion Veltras was the one who actually used those trebuchets and directly led to the deaths of Erin’s close friends. The combo is what I dislike about her. It’s believable and well written! But annoying.

            Ryoka is growing and getting better, the bicycle incident with Erin is a perfect example, where she started to get furious at Erin for being a moron and the evils of introducing gears to the world, then backed off. But she has a long way to go.

        • She does not care? But you do, huh? For a fictional people in a fictional world.
          This is pure unadultered virtue signaling…
          And a hipocrisy too, since in the Last ten years there was more Than one war And yet those deaths not make people upset on the internet so much do they? Cause thise people in the third world has Just less value apparently…
          And thats all I am gonna sqy on the topic. Sorry for the off.

      • I dislike Ryoka because I feel that, as others have said, she never went past 13 years old, emotionally speaking. Now, in the last chapter (or chapter before last) she as been off her meds for a while now but still, it does not excuse all the chapters that I groaned in pain when seeing it was her pov this time.

        She acts as if everyone where incredibly stupid and governed only by their impulses and that it is her job to corral them into some semblance of order, even though she used to be very rebellious against that kind of organisation (school) in her past, unable to even see the slightest hypocrisy or even resemblance to her actions. I believes that she is also the worst kind of person to take charge of anything pertaining to other people, as she doesn’t see much further than what she can see at the moment, not even caring that the Knights of the Hydra that she talked to some days earlier might now be maimed or dead. Not that I am saying that she should care for that but she doesn’t even think something like “Robert, Bob and Bobby, the knights that were nice to me a few days ago, are on the frontline, I wonder how they are.”

        To me, it looks like that if you’re not an immortal, high level or connected to her in some way she doesn’t care and she’d leave you to rot. I also believe that she believes that anyone lesser than an immortal will not ever be capable of wisdom and that everyone else is too stupid to realise it.

        That said, I must say that the last few chapters, even if they are in her perspective, have been more entertaining than her usual, I don’t know if it is because the character changed or something else but I think it might be due to the fact that there is a bit less moping due to the fact that there is no need to reestablish her character every chapter or so.

        In short, she’s mentally an extremely edgy 13 years old who likes to think she’s cunning enough to be the puppeteer being the throne when in truth she is just very boring, very ordinary and so so much filled of both self-hatred and “woe is me”, as proven (in part) by her batman persona.

        • Yeah, you know what? You Just decided you dont like her early on, and now you are grasping for straws to prop that up. Connitive dissonance that is what this is called.

          • Nah, when she first appeared she was my favourite but then she started to wallow in self-hatred which doesn’t make it very nice to read.

            Of course it is realistic in a way but it doesn’t mean that its not hard to read her chapters.

      • This seems rather out of character of her though. But you’re right. People in the comments thinks they’re the smartest. They think they can do better in her position. But they have no idea what they’re talking about, just like some Earthers in the stories. Which is ironic.

    • I dislike Ryoka and on most other chapters I would have agreed with you but for this one I feel that she was the best of what she could be. Granted, it still isn’t exacly ideal but at least she tries to “repair her errors” as she sees it, which is still progress.

      That said, I wonder how much of this feeling is due to the fact that we’re not so much inside her head this chapter.

      • It is her biggest fuck up to date, in which she try to commit a frankly completely not needed murder on a man that consider himself her friend and allied for what is bullshit reason. Nor do she fix her errors, she try forcefully to fix as she see it, what she perceived as Teri error despite the concerned party objection. By doing so betraying practically anyone she know. This is a new low of paranoia, impulsivity, MC syndrome and inability to put trust in other.

        What she just done should not be forgiven, not by the inn crew, not by Cara, not even by Teri as it go again every reason he even put himself in this mess.

        • Bullshit. She tried to destroy a magical construct to save a friend from killing off all those immortals and half the empire only to wake up to the horror of what he did.

          • Correction. She try to murder a person, because she was too paranoiac to listen to what the man was actually saying and too self absorbed in her hero fantasy to try to use diplomacy. Also it not so much saving him as being impatient.

            • Not absolutely certain where Eldavin really lies on the sliding scale from magical construct to personhood, but I definitely lean towards person in this case. We have examples of magical constructs being defined as people in this very story: String people, and to a certain extent, Sentient Undead. It was already deeply uncomfortable enough to try to take in how Erin treated Toren, but this is on a whole other level from that. Ryoka executed a deliberate, informed, and by all indications, pre-meditated murder attempt.

  4. Ryoka has major dragon problems again.

    Big T might be gone forever if Eldavin refuses to die.

    Emerrhain looks to be going for the perma-kill.

    Wonder who left the exploding package for Ryoka.

    • Could it be one of the Immortals? I mean… To get through all the protection the castle has. It would have to be, wouldn’t it? …. Or… Maybe something not magical in nature… Like a bomb. Someone with Cara?

    • I would bet it’s Greg. If he was around prior to the winter solstice he would totally be the kind of person to make a deal with one of the dead gods. It just so happens that one of the dead gods, Emerrhain, is seriously trying to perma-kill Teriarch, like you said.
      Greg is being portrayed as a prick that’s hated by everyone in his group. Assuming that’s not just him being the butt-end of a joke, it’ll pay off to find out he’s Emerrhain’s puppet.
      What better way to motivate Eldavin to do a reckless head-on attack against one of the strongest powers in the world than to kill Ryoka as she stays in Ailendamus?

  5. Ah, Ryoka, Ryoka, Ryoka. What a dumbass. What out of any of your interactions with Teriarch convinced you that he saw other Immortals as his own kind? He sent Perril Chandler a 200 year old gift, true, but that’s it. You’ve heard so many stories about those he cared about – Magnolia, the harpy queen, and you. How many of those were immortal? For all your encounters with immortals, Ailendamus is pretty much the first time you’ve seen them actually getting along with each other, particularly with others of different species.

    So much worry over everyone that will die from Eldavin and Tyrion attacking Ailendamus. Absolutely no worry about everyone who has died defending their countries. Or for that matter for those in the armies of Ailendamus, who die en masse for their war of conquest. No recognition that they’ve been declaring wars for their entire brief existence and there’s no reason to think they’d stop with the Dawn Concordat.

    Teriarch has slept in his cave for millenia. I don’t know if Eldavin would have actually found a way to separate them (or even tried), but you could have waited a few months to find out. But no, you had to stab him in the back.

    I am curious who was attacking the camp. Doesn’t seem like it was Ailendamus. Something Emerrhain set up? Remarkable timing if so.

    • The attack on the camp, the only clue we have was the spells were piercing the magic Ironman armor. Honestly it sounds like the Luciferian’s magic …

    • I agree with your estimation of Ryoka vis a vis handwaving away the horrors of war, the whole Ailendamus arc has made her plummet further for me. But I think you mistake Teriarch, I don’t think he’d give two shits if Eldavin kills Rhisveri or Viso. But he’d be absolutely devastated if his simulacrum killed Menorkel, or Gilaw, or even Fithea. And Ryoka is trying to save her friend Teriarch from doing that to himself, which I respect. And makes for an epic twist I certainly didn’t see coming!

      • It is not like it would have come to that, Ryoka jumped the gun and made a mountain out of nothing. Eldavin did not say he was there to raze Ailendamus or kill it leader. He came to stop their aggression to be a check to them. He is not strong or stupid enough to make it a fight to the death when it not needed. It should not and would not have come to this if a stupid impulsive woman did not set fire to the house.

        • “I have fought that kind of injustice. I—remember—fighting, risking my life to end it. Once. Once, I killed my own people to end it.”

          He would absolutely kill them all

          • If they turn out to be such evil. Eldavin is still figuring out the situation. He is saying that he fought evil and the past and is willing to do it again. Well prove to him that Ailendamus is not so bad. Don’t murder the guy at the fist pretext.

              • He was entirely rational during this whole encounter, well except after being beheaded but I am give him a pass for that. You are making a conclusion out of air.

    • Why can’t she wait a few months? Because he intends to continue this war. Risking to kill thousands, the last of immortal species and the children he brought with him.
      All things Teriarch would hate himself for. But more importantly, things Ryoka couldn’t forgive herself for to let happen.

      • Why would he hate himself for that? Killing thousands is already happening, him being in the war just changes which thousands die to the aggressors. Teriarch has fought against immortals before, and besides his general ennui after so long I don’t see why he wouldn’t do it again. This isn’t a fundamentally different person (yet) so much as it’s a version of him who doesn’t remember doing this same thing dozens of times before and watching it all turn to dust eventually regardless.

    • Its not just Ailendamus. Eldavin has been arming Wistram with Earth tech, something Teriarch never would’ve done. Teriarch would’ve brought real magic back but this is just introducing Earth tech into wars. Magnolia wouldn’t be okay with is and Teriarch knew why. He wouldn’t have wanted to be involved that, he’d rather have stayed in his cave.

      Regardless of whether or not Teriarch would’ve approved of Ailendamus, Eldavin is risking Teriarch’s death by not going back. How messily Eldavin dies will lead factor into how likely it is that Teriarch will ever wake up. Ryoka had Teriarch’s best interests at heart and she was right that he should’ve gone back. It was a risk for him to stay there, as much a risk as she was saying.

    • If she succeded, Teri would be back and could either stop this war or wage it in a less destructive manner. But nobody cares…

      • Even if she succeeded, it would be as far as she know, up to the air if it do anything. I don’t think she had any confirmation that killing the simulacrum wake the main body. She assumed and that was enough for her. Even if she knew, the spell have been throw out of order enough that it is probable that would no longer have the desired effect. Beside even if everything work, it is not necessarily convenient for her, what if it take week, month, or year for Teri to be functional after waking from such a spell. She did not know or care because all she want is to have Teri back. Beside, it make no sense to think that if she wake Teri, he would fix this situation when one of the reason that she disapprove of Eldavin existence is that he started to participate in it.

        Also yes I don’t care because even if it work as you describe it excuse in no way the murder that Ryoka just committed.

          • Then do prove that it is false. As you do so remember that this story have recognized sentient golem and undead as people. It do the same for sentient animal and object. Why would sentient simulacrum be excluded except because they are inconvenient?

  6. Wait what?
    Ryoka and her blunders again!

    This chapter is brilliant.
    Actually made me feel affronted at her .

    She always tried to solve things in the most blunt ways as possible.

    • Haha feel you, didn’t see that coming. Way to go to ruin your reputation as a runner and terminate your link to a power player.

      I don’t understand why she is not trying to make Eldavin realize that those are *his* people on the other side wanting to create a safe heaven. He is a sucker for stuff like that. That she goes there with the intention to kill even when he said he is not sure about the repercussions is also mindboggling – especially since she claims to care. In terms of hypocrisy Ryoka is a strong contender with Troy.

      Gosh, i want Erin back XD I also settle for rabbiteater kicking some ass for now.

      • Because if ryoka actually was a human and talked shit out instead of going full MC I’m gonna solve everything myself (which never works out) this story would probably be like half as long.

        That’s seriously why I hate her character, she acts like she’s better than everyone else and that she is the golden child who alone can fix everything.(when it’s clearly Erin) You see it every time she tries to do almost anything. The only time she didn’t fuck up was when she convinced house veltras to go to the dead city. It would have been 100% in character for her to go support the horns by herself.

      • > I don’t understand why she is not trying to make Eldavin realize that those are *his* people on the other side wanting to create a safe heaven. He is a sucker for stuff like that.

        Teriarch is, Eldavin is not. They’re different, opposed people at this point

  7. Excellent chapter. I particularly enjoyed Ryoka’s reaction to what she did, as well as going back and noticing her pre-reactions when she realized what exactly she had to do. The Tsing in the middle of speech was so subtle that I almost didn’t realize what had happened at first, and that made it all the more powerful.

    The irony as Eldavin described the evils of a cabal of immortals controlling society from the background, using their power and lifespan to reshape the world as they saw fit… was both powerful and sad.

    He really believes what he’s doing is for the best, but if he took one moment to stop and think he’d realize how contradictory his view is, and that makes him a really compelling villain.

  8. ” ‘It also left a mans decapitated body lying on the floor next to his own severed head, a head which at this time has no name.’ ”

    “I know his name… .”

  9. I Hope if, IF Ryoka interact with golems ( who are kind of immortal ) particulary Cognita it would be notes how she treated a Simulacrum ( not exactly Alice, like a golem)

  10. Okaay. Ryoka possibly be a persona non grata on Wistram. Well, she could be okay in Ailendemus(?) but how would her publicly assassination attempt at Eldavin affect her life on Izril (if she goes back there)

    • I’m thinking that Ryoka will be banned from the Inn personally. Explicitly siding with the nation trying to conquer Lyonettes homeland and dispossess her family seems unforgivable when Lyon already doesn’t like her. I also don’t see Erin liking the immortal cabal using their supernatural might to conquer their neighbors, assuming she wakes up this volume at all.

      • Agreed. Esp if Ryoka got nothing from there (that helps on Erin’s situation obvs failure on scroll of rev) and also with Lyonette’s and dragon’s suspcn of Eldv being ‘the dragon’

      • Lyonette theorizes that Eldavin is actually Teriarch, if she confronts ryoka about what she knows then I’m sure she’ll understand if Ryoka is capable of coming clean. Erin would both like and hate the immortals, especially on the basis they are superior than mortals simply for existing as they do. However Cara is going to KILL ryoka for this, because it seems like active sabotage to her cause.

        • I very very very much doubt that Erin or Lyon would excuse her attend at murdering a good man and a good friend. For the sake of waking up Teri faster in the name of paranoia.

          • As far as they’re aware the same person not separate individuals. Therefore killing one to wake the other, as brutal as it is, isn’t bad because “nobody” is technically harmed.

              • That’s not the point I was making, I was saying that in regards to Lyon’s and Erin’s perspective if it was explained to them. Eldavin is the only one who is truly harmed so of course he isn’t on board with it. But eldavin is a puppet (albeit sentient) so if people know him as such, a puppet, then what’s the problem with cutting his threads and letting him drop if the puppetmaster isn’t harmed?

                  • fair point but lets make it clear that the wide known understanding of the simulacrum spell is that it’s somebody controlling a separate un-sentient body. Therefore destroying the puppet wouldn’t do anything. The puppet isn’t supposed to gain sentience but it did and here we are. If Erin were to learn Eldavin was now a separate entity she’d be horrified, but if she learned that Eldavin was a simulacrum, as in a puppeteerd body WITHOUT sentience, then I see little reason as to why she would care. But Torin is a good point and I hope she’s adequately learned from that.

                    • Either Eldavin is literally Teriarch, in which case killing him is doing nothing useful and just denying Teriarch the ability to do what he was trying to do, or Eldavin is his own person, in which case killing him is murder.

  11. IMO, Oesca and Sammial’s personality kinda complement each other in someways.
    Sam is very impulsive, Oesca is observant. Oesca being trained by her queen mother for manners. If they marry tho, atleast Oesca can hold the reigns of the abrasive Lordling? And both are okay with less restriction concerning traditional noble practices.

  12. Ryoka really took a chance there. Yes she could have waited but I guess that’s just not her.

    If Eldavin truly fears “death” and his paranoia of it just worsens he could become the worst tyrant of all. Thr part of his personality that comes from Teriarch has been guiding him so far but with his mortality driving him now he could go into a bad way.

    Thanks for the chapter!

    • Or he could be a fairly decent person that tries to do good in the world that Ryoka just decider to murder because she only care about Teri.

    • Sounds like Nerrhavia, she ruled for over 2000 years as the tyrant of cloth, clinging to life. Eldavin — while technically immortal — is far weaker than Teri and easier to kill as a result. He’s creating an army in part to fuel knowledge lost I’m certain, but it’s also to fuel an empire on those subservient to his knowledge for all he gives it out more kindly than Rhisveri who craves no equal.

      • What indication he gave of any of this? this is like saying powerful and influential = evil. This is just absurd.

        • Power + Fear = potential corruptibility. If Eldavin fears for his life how far will he go to preserve it? Such as not waking up his true self Teri, especially because Teri may just erase him. His intentions are good but he is currying the favor of many powerful individuals — and his faction/leadership in Wistrim gives him unequivocal power. He’s benevolent as he’s always been, but he’s giving power to so many people that he’s unwittingly empowering his side above all others which could create problems in the future especially if he wishes to create an army in the form of the Terras faction. Eldavin is hardly evil, but his fear is compelling him to do less than savory things that he would otherwise abhor.

          • This is pure speculation with no supporting fact from his action. You could say much the same for Erin though it is still on a smaller scale. Do we finish her up cause she may turn bad? Or Liscor, they growing the monsters. As for the fear of death he was just being honest, everyone fear to die, yet people still do dangerous thing. Hell he want to war with a nation that had a more powerful spellcaster than him because he though it was the right thing to do. The idea he was not going to do it is pure paranoia brought by Ryoka mistrust of people.

            • He experimented on Paxre which is something even he realized was something he’s never do. However his fear compelled him to do so. Granted he didn’t hurt her, not really, but it was still experimentation. And as I said time and time again I don’t agree with what Ryoka did, I think it was wrong a horrible blunder — but her fear/paranoia is understandable especially if Eldavin is content as existing as is without waking Teri up ever. Fear turns people into monsters, and if Eldavin were to succumb to it then the world over would be in a loooot of trouble. And yes his reasoning is noble, going to war with a nation for the right thing which is potentially exposing the shadowy overlords who rule it. But ya know what isn’t okay? Tricking children into coming into a warzone then forcing them to fight for their life (even in magical flying iron man armor.)

              • Are you joking? because I hope you are. Everyone in innworld and in our world, all faction, all immortal including Teri would give those test to a hostile individual of a hostile species that they captured. Eldavin was remarkably gentle and had the decency to be sorry about it. The comment about the children is fair, the man is not perfect. Yet there no basic to claim the he will turn into a monster, you could just as well claim that it would be a good thing if Teri die cause he is too powerful.

              • Paxere is an unknown entity working for a hostile military force with the ability to use more powerful spells than (modern) named rank adventurers. There are a lot of very important things to find out there.

                • Yes but even Eldavin was having a moral quandary over it. The reason why he experimented on her to begin with was partially out of fear from almost dying to her attacks, so he looked for an effective way to combat her. That’s fair reasoning and I personally see no problem with it but Eldavin didn’t feel good about it in the slightest, because it went against his normal convictions.

                  • “She has a death spell on her if she reveals anything important, but she refused to answer any questions, and I did not wish to…torture her. ”

                    The greatest threat to Paxere during her captivity was her own side. They put death spells on all of their own people and Eldavin’s experiments are the problem?

                  • Would you be confident to claim that Teri would not do exactly the same in similar circumstance? As that is what you seem to imply. For all Eldavin do not want to die, Teri want it even less.

  13. This chapter was…. Infuriating. We’ve been running with this arc for what feels like ages and it looked like we were about to get resolutions of some kind at last, and then it’s just jk, reverse uno we’re back on schedule Ryoka solved literally nothing.

      • Well, what did you think, that all those princesses and rabbit and the knights are there in that fortress for nothing? Of course there will be a siege.
        Anyway, my theory is that Eldavin doesnt use the magic Of his real body .He uses Emerhains, which was told to us. And that particular dead god might influence Eldavin trough that magic.

  14. Another great chapter I think there are lots of ways T can wake up, like the other dragons that now have an idea where his cave isル

  15. Man I really hope Teriarch dies at this point.

    Ryoka has elected for the nuclear options in asking the immortals to kill Eldavin, likely the only people alive who have the capability to cause a traumatic enough death that it might kill Teri. She continues to be charging ahead “brain empty” and just reacting to things constantly with little to no forethought, and she really needs to suffer some lasting consequences other than her fingers which never seem to bother her at all.

    Nevermind the fact that she has no real way of knowing what qualifies as “traumatic enough” to kill him, and risked Beheading not being traumatic enough to do any lasting damage.

    Not to mention, like others have said, this just completely fucking reset the board. We had potential progress and now we’re effectively back to square one, only now Tyrion Veltras is double-pissed and will probably die, not to mention her attempted Assassination of Eldavin may have burned her relationship with Tyrion and the Veltras family at large as well.

    • Why does Teriarch have to die for a lasting consequence? I would be quite happy if the lasting consequence is Ryoka dying. I was finally starting to like her as a character in this arc, but this chapter put her back to square one in my eyes, and I would personally be fine if she died for her actions.

  16. Ryoka has a lot of audacity to judge other people for their morality when she pulls this shit for a cabal of warmongers just because they have a sob story and treated her nice for a few days.

  17. I don’t know why people are so angry at this chapter. Ryoka is an unconventional protagonist — she cares deeply and unironically, thinks morally, and engages with things on her own terms. There are so many ‘contrarian’ protagonists which come off as annoying or needlessly sarcastic and I don’t get that from Ryoka. It is hard bc she doesn’t have skills, so her power is often by getting other people to help (like Erin but with no buffs), but no one else is let into immortals’ inner gatherings. On one hand this T arc has been going on for a while so it feels like nothing really changed, but she tried to make some big moves, and took a stand. I did not expect her to sarcastically ask how strong he was, and then make the leap of faith to cut his head off

    • I’m not angry at the chapter, I’m angry at Ryoka, which I assume is intended.

      If a character makes a terrible decision, and it’s in line with both their personality and their previous decisions, then people will be upset with the character, not with the story. It’s not surprising that Ryoka is siding with the immortal warmongers, look at how long she wanted to be friends with Belavierr despite every single piece of evidence.

    • You essentially hit the nail on the head. She “thinks morally”, yes.

      She does not ACT morally. For all her high-vaunted thoughts about the greater good of innocent people, she really only cares about the people closest to her. And I mean that literally. She seems to give zero shits about any people who are not in immediate proximity to where she currently is. Her compassion extends only to whatever person, or group of people, she is currently having a conversation with. She can be fully aware that the person she is talking to is both a literal and metaphorical monster, but side with him because he’s the last person she had a decent conversation with, so he’s automatically the “focus” for her morality.

      She’s a shallow, suggestible, easily manipulated waste of space of a character and always has been. Her character arc up to now had been improving that, but this is such a fucking backslide that I’m done hoping Ryoka will ever become a better character. She has zero introspection into herself, zero forethought about the consequences of her actions, and I am frankly just sick and tired of reading about her deliberately ruining everything she touches and then crying about how hard her life is afterward.

      • This, basically. I’ve read through all the arguments for and against Ryoka and carefully thought through how I felt about all of her chapters until now (I just started TWI two months ago and finished it this week, so its all very fresh for me still) and…

        I just hate her character. The longer things go on, the more and more it feels like Ryoka’s character only exists to be the wild card in the deck. What she does is inconsistent in a way that isn’t even… an inconsistent character. It feels more like she exists to be yanked into any direction to fill in leaps between plot possibilities – and, as a result, her actions end up creating a shallow, unreliable, unpredictable character driven in weird directions beyond reasonable stretches of the imagination to do very weird, plot-jittery stuff that Gets The Job Done but leaves her as an unlikeable, shallow shell.

        She doesn’t have… the “depth” that nearly every other character in the series does and feels like a puppet for plot. That is why I dislike her the most – beyond her in-character decisions, which…

        I used to think Lyonette was “too hard” on her and Erin banning her from the Inn for a while shocked me back when it happened, but honestly? They were onto something. She’s not a good person, not reliable, and strikes me as a walking nuclear option if she comes within shouting distance of any of my favorite plots in the Innverse.

  18. I never valued Ryoka jugement or moral highly before but she still disapointed me massively this chapter.

    I have to make a list as I see it of all the shit that she simply do not consider with her tunnel vision to make sense of it.

    She herself admits that causing this situation by putting himself at risk again Cognita to give free will to an enslaved golem was a thing Teri would do.
    Then what does she do, try to murder a simulacrum that gained free will because he did not want to die. All to wake up Teri faster, to not put him at risk.
    Certerly, I am sure Teri would approve.

    It’s not even like that was the only possible option. It was simply the simplest and fastest accessible method.
    It would be another thing if she had tried everything else and failed. But considering her contact and position she had plenty of options to try to convince Eldavin or wake Teri. Or just wait for a solution that satisfy more than just her.
    But noooo, she must decide on what is the best for everyone and take irreversible decisions as soon as possible. She was even set in her decision to kill him before meeting him.

    She put a clear priority list on people, sure on some degree I agree that the freaking lord of fire is more important and influental that nearly anyone else.
    But in her case, as long as it is for a individual higher on the priority list, it is irrelevant who she get to burn along the way. She just twisted a knife in the back of Cara without a care in the world. Betrayed Lyon by basicaly selling out her country, which can also count as a betrayal of Mirsha and Erin in a sense. Burn the best option to get Sammial back to tyrion.

    It is also fairly disgusting how quickly she throws whole alliance to the wolf after her token effort failed.

    That whole segment where she was shocked by Eldavin treatment or his prisoner was absurd. As Ryoka have the biggest rose colored glasses when it come to Teri.
    One of the first things Teri did to her when meeting her was to put gear on her, put her under a truth spell and mess with her memory. How the hell is a Babble spell worst?
    For the test, I bet anything that it is something that Teri would be absolutely be willing to do if he feel threatened by something unknown.

    She goes on about how Teri is the biggest hero of them all. Yet he stays in his cave while she without a care trample on the arguably actual hero that try to do the right thing right now at great personal risk, like Cara and Eldavin or the Order of season.

    Sure Teri does not want to influence the world anymore, but the arrogance of Ryoka to think she knows him so well that she can take that decision for him, that she have a better grasp of his will that Eldavin.
    I pretty sure at this point that Teri would be more saddened by her action that the one of Eldavin.

    As for protecting the other immortals as protecting the mortals do not seem to be in her bucket list. If she had even tried to get to know Eldavin rater that see him as an obstacle to Teri, she may have realised that he is an intelligent and fairly reasonable individual.
    Diplomacy was a freaking option there was no need to go for the throat or set them on each other. He is again tyrant, not specifically immortals.

    As for the risk of Teri safety. As readers, we know that Emerrhain is a risk, but Ryoka was being absurd. The only real risk for Teri as she would know would have been a direct confrontation with the immortals.
    Which would be unlikely as the both sides are careful and not stupid. Would not happen soon in any case and possibly could have just not happen. The war was not about the destruction of Ailendamus but ending it aggression. Not a cause to die for when it come to the immortals,
    Again, diplomacy was an option.

    She is such a hypocrite

    • Yep, she’s clearly been established here as a treacherous and murderous hypocrite.

      She was the best chance of a diplomatic solution, and now the courier who defied assassins has turned assassin herself.

    • As long as the war continued Eldavin would not return to his body. He was stalling so Ryoka took initiative, despite it being a very poor decision all things considered. Ryoka is hardly diplomatic, and she is desperate above all else to get Teri back especially when she only see’s Teri in Eldavin. Plus it’s easier for her to mentally detach that killing Eldavin is a bad thing because he isn’t truly dead, she feels as if she’s killing a puppet not a person, which makes it easier to justify mentally even if it’s still pretty f***ing horrible. And while he is against tyrants — there comes the issue of what is left to be done when all is over and the other immortals lie dead — then what? Also Ailendamus would 100% take an opportunity to kill Eldavin or any other figure of authority like Tyrion.

      • Ryoka jumped to stupid paranoiac conclusion. Nothing Eldavin was saying indicated he was untrustworthy, quite on the contrary he proven continuity that he was trustworthy. To finish the war who was about stopping Ailendamus aggression was a very reasonable thing to ask if you even try to consider Eldavin as a person who have moral reason to be there and friend and allied involved because of him. Nothing he say indicate he was planning to kill the Cabal, all he say was that he fought evil in the past and his willing to do so again if needed. Yet Ryoka did not even try to actually be the diplomat she was supposed to be. She had decided he had to die before meeting him. This is plain unjustified murder.

        • In her mind not really murder because it’s just a puppet (despite it gaining sentience). And while Eldavin was trustworthy — his fear progressed to a point where he’d actively avoid Teriarch if it meant he could thrive. This left the main body at the mercy of a simulacrum — and Teri probably still needs to eat. Ryoka panicked hard and I will admit that was EXTREMELY foolish of her. This is even worse because she was the only person who could reason with him in earnest.

          • Teri was planning for this nap to last a very long time, long enough that all his worry would be gone. So probably a few hundred years. He won’t lack of anything. As for your gross exaggeration and extrapolation of his fear, he just say that he did not want to die so a dragon could wake up. Not that he do not want to wake the dragon or that he fear the dragon, just that he need to prepare. He was being reasonable, helpful and willing to help. Ryoka had absurd demand that considered all that he is and is doing expendable.

            • I appreciate your delightful derision and the tact you wield like a mallet to the face. Thank you for kindly ignoring the parts where I agree with you in any capacity in favor of overruling anything I say. That being said he wasn’t being totally reasonable because the war could’ve ended much faster if he just went back. He’d have had to prepare but he wanted to continue the war and win. This is at the expense of many, MANY, lives. Ailendamus needs to be stopped and what Eldavin is doing is noble, but it causes the issue to drag on extensively — especially because the other immortals are beyond ruthless in comparison.

              • I am unsure of what vexed you, but that was not my intention, so sorry. For the war, asking Eldavin to give that up is hardly a reasonable demand. Particularly as he is not aware of the politic that Ryoka knew from the Cabal. As far as he was concerned Eldavin reason for being there were all still very relevant and all the people he involved in were relying on him. he could hardly abandon them all. Nor could he suddenly throw his moral out of the window for something that he had no reason to think was particularly urgent. Also Ryoka decided that the way to stop the war was to make Ailendamus win but that hardly the only or best solution. heck diplomacy could have solved that problem too. If the stones was not enough to convince them to stop, arriving at an entente with Eldavin could have work.

                • I’m sorry for losing my temper, it was unbecoming of me and petulant. Also Considering Ryoka straight up does not care for Calanfer, only caring for the immortals, indicates how lowly she regards other mortals. Eldavin I think mentioned that he wanted to know who truly ruled Ailendamus by winning the war? If she thought for five minutes things would’ve worked out better, hell he even disabled her bracelet — she had full reign to fix this mess and she flubbed it because she wants to curry favor with all immortals possible even if they’re awful (save for azzy and belevierr who tried to kill her). Magnolia really needs to talk to him.

              • However this being said Ryoka is extremely stupid for this display. Her desperation has peaked and she was by no means rational. But we have to understand that her train of thought was probably that this person is basically wearing the face of a loved one but still isn’t 100% the same. And if eliminating the parody meant bringing said person back, she would do it in heartbeat. This doesn’t make her any less of a hypocrite, she’s bashed Erin tons of times for the slime and Toren, and Ryoka even knew what she did was beyond awful but she just wanted Teri back no matter the cost. I think her motivations were also partially selfish because Teri is a huge bargaining chip, and if he’s back (not eldavin) Ryoka becomes a lot harder to harm in any capacity.

      • In her mind it isn’t the same person, just some twisted parody. She’s also scared of what he’ll do and she let her fear win out. :/

        • Yes, and that absolutely do not excuse or justifies any of it. Particularly because she did not even try to question or challenge her view.

          • Oh no she’s self righteous as f***, she probably thought she was doing what was best for everyone even if the only person who stood to truly benefit was herself.

  19. I also hope Teriarch dies. Perhaps he could be resurrected later, but the crutch needs to be yanked out from Ryoka and Magnolia as he’s been the main enabler of the two most insufferable characters. The reason I assume Magnolia ever had any success at all and the reason Ryoka’s stupidity hasn’t gotten her killed many times over.

    I made a long post last chapter and was proven right again. I won’t go into her stupidity or hypocrisy, others have pointed that out just fine. Let’s be clear here, Ryoka is a hate-sink right now because one again she’s proved that she is as self-centered and ego-maniacal as any immortal and shows that she is completely willing to overlook the faults in Teriarch and the others that she arrogantly treats mortal people with contempt for, even though all of the immortals that we’ve seen so far (Belavierr, Rhisveri, Vespuchin, Paxere, Teriarch etc.) have been either malicious, greedy, nihilistic, vain, or useless doing nothing but either rotting away or scorching the world for their own entitled selfish desires. Teriarch the only hero you know Ryoka? Really? At this stage he’s the only true hero you’ve met? After all those who’ve suffered and sacrificed on your behalf? The blinders on her speak volumes.

    Though perhaps once again this is an example of something Tom said all the way back in Volume 2. A hero isn’t someone who does heroic things. A hero is someone who inspires others in a noble way and is looked up to and emulated, this describes several characters in the story, but not Teriarch, even in his memories.

  20. Because no one knows what’s better for the world than a young twenty something who has only lived in it a couple years…

  21. Pirate, I don’t know if you read these, but I want you to know I thought this plot twist was unbelievably amazing and so well written. In just two scenes, with no buildup except the necessary exposition to justify the twist and for us to understand it, you blindsided us with a complete reversal. Eldavin was an ally, if one at risk, and Aliendamus was an enemy, and then all of a sudden Eldavin is the enemy. That was so beautifully well done that I wish I was still in school so I could show this to my literature teacher. I’m very very impressed.

    On a story level though, I don’t think any of this was predicted by anyone. Teriarch isn’t in danger of accidentally dying, now he’s a hostage. Eldavin knows now that people value Teriarch’s life more than his own and he’s *dangerous*. Anyway I’m just blown away. Absolutely incredible work as not just a fantasy writer or webserial writer or whatever, amazing work as an *author* Pirate. That was amazing.

    • Interesting take, I personally would put it like that. To me if anyone became a enemy It is Ryoka. Of all the bullshit she pulled until now, this one gone to far. She just tried to murder, I will never call that anything else, one of her friend and allied. Also in doing so she essentially betrayed everyone that is not Aliendamus. She betrayed Eldavin of course and wistram earthers, Cara, Lyon, Tyrion, Irzril in general since it have clearly taken a side, Erin will never support her crusade to murder Eldavin regardless of her motive, the gnolls like the dude, As far as the Horn are concerned Eldavin is the one they are thankful to. She is narratively and moraly on the villain side again the hero such as the order of season, sir solstice and Cara. Plotting the murder of a man that just try to live.

      As for taking Teriarch hostage, that may be the case, but then again I would say it is Ryoka fault. You can hardly blame a man to push the panic button when driven in a corner. Ryoka did just that in scaring the cabal of immortals in a liberal interpretation and gross exaggeration of Eldavin intention. She caused that situation, the war had no need nor reason to escalade to this point before she decide to raise the stakes.

      • Something bothered me during that scene, but I couldn’t figure out what. It made my chest tight. Reading your response and others’ I think I see it now. When I wrote that comment I saw Eldavin only as a spell gone wrong and a threat to Teriarch. But he’s become his own person, and he loved and supported Ryoka. She screwed up big time, and I was wrong there.

        Eldavin may have been a threat to Teriarch in the future possibly, but he wasn’t yet. He even promised to wake him up. Ryoka jumped straight to the nuclear option and tried to kill him hoping it would save Teriarch. I mean she did have some motive, trying to save Teriarch from doing something he would regret, but again, she went nuclear from the starting line.

        So that is to say I think you’re right. If Eldavin becomes a villain or a threat to Teriarch, it’s Ryoka’s fault.

        • It makes some sense if she thought he would try to make the current situation permanent, with Teriarch forever comatose. But she leapt to the conclusion that he would do that really, really fast. And, of course, she went in there with premeditation having adjusted her weapon for murder.

          Was it all because Teriarch abducted a 30 year old “child” who attacked him with high grade lethal magic? She’s awfully quick to judge for someone who wasn’t there in the heat of the moment.

      • Technically the only person she didn’t betray was Magnolia who would 100% do the same thing but with far more tact and a lot more planning. Also for Ryoka it didn’t feel like murder because she was (in her mind) killing a sick parody of Teri, a Doll not a true person. However that aside everyone is going to f***ing hate ryoka for this, especially because it was caught on a scrying orb on WISTRIM NEWS NETWORK OF ALL THINGS.

  22. I don’t understand people mistrust of Eldavin or making him a villain. He have been nothing but honest open and helpful during his whole interaction with Ryoka. So far Eldavin proved himself trustworthy and honorable in all his dealing in wistram and outside. His treatment of his captive was better than what she could have hoped from pretty much any faction or immortal than we know and most would not be sorry about it. She was also to be returned in a hostage exchange if possible. All he asked of Ryoka was to wait for him to find a way to survive waking up Teri and to finish the war that he was already involved in along his faction. What was he suppose to do drop everything and die, abandon his responsibility and moral to wake up a dragon that he did not know? That may or may not fix this mess. He was everything that should have been hoped of him. But Ryoka want Teri enough to gratuity betray and murder a good man.

    Eldavin is as far as he is concerned a person, he won’t just drop death because someone say they prefer a dragon. Up to that point he was trying to be a paragon and be a example to the world guiding it forward. Then as a number of world shattering information fall on his lap and he have to adjust with a bunch of new memory and reality, yet because his response in this one conversation were not to Ryoka taste he had to die. She did not even try to argue, inform or influence his view beyond pitiful token effort. She was not trying to decide if he had to die, she had made that decision probably before the goat, all she was doing is look for justification for herself.

    While his distribution of magical know how can be considered a problem, as is his suggested animosity with Aliendamus secret ruler. That something that could have been solved diplomatically, Eldavin just had to be demonstrated that they are not particularly evil and not deserving a crusade. He would likely then be happy enough just checking their expansion and they would have cut their lost rater than risk themselves, to better try latter. He is a reasonable man contrarily to a murder happy girl.

    • Eldavin has issues among other things. What Ryoka did was super f***ed up, but she was desperate to have Teri back if possible. The issue is what comes after, Eldavin is creating a system of reliance through his magical knowledge which people desperately crave. He’s making allies left and right and I’ll be damned if those relationships do not endure with all that he’s given them. In other words he’s creating a bastion/army all of which he is the leader of due to his superior capabilities. Eldavin is easily the least awful person to do this, especially considering he’s still as kind as Teri albeit tempered by mortal fear. But Eldavin is stubborn and virtually nobody would be able to stop him if he desired to truly rampage/do something truly outrageous. Not to mention the power he’s giving Wistrim is making them ten times more dangerous than they used to be, even if he wishes to direct that knowledge to the benefit of mankind. I still love Eldavin though, he’s a great character and Ryoka messed up royally if Teri doesn’t wake up soon.

      • So because Ryoka is impatient murder is ok? I don’t really understand why you speak of those alliance like a bad thing. Also if that was a reason, the cabal is far worst. As for Eldavin, because a good man might be bad in the future it is ok to kill him? As for wistram, yes he make them more powerful which in himself is not a bad thing, also Eldavin had hardly be hoarding knowledge. Just this chapter he gave a lot to the Order of season and the house Wellfar. Ryoka do not have a moral high ground, she just treat teri comment as gospel.

        • Did I Ever say the Cabal was good? They’re worse by a long shot because they don’t value mortal life save for the Agelum. And while Eldavin is being generous in his knowledge, it’s merely a trifle for him. There is no way in HELL he’d give out the truly good stuff, like tier 7 spells and onwards. He’ll give building blocks, but since so much has been lost and his knowledge is vast — people will flock to him in desperation for power. And making wistrim stronger IS a bad thing because we’ve seen what they do with power under current leadership. Eldavin is now the de-facto leader of Wistrim — he’s undisputed on all fronts which is dangerous with nobody to contrast his authority. That’s why multiple archmages were good (not the current ones), Many of them could counter the authority of one another seeing as how there was no sole power over wistrim (except maybe Cognita but she didn’t care.) I don’t think Eldavin deserves to die but he is a potential problem on many fronts, especially if he avoids waking up Teri, and Teri is a bigger asset by far — at least to Ryoka.

          • Well he was not avoiding waking up Teri. Ryoka is just a impulsive, impatient, paranoiac, untrusting, murdering asshole. Unless your point is people with power should all do as teri do, I don’t know what is it you want. Eldavin is being as good for the world as could be reasonably be expected of him.

            • Eldavin is scared of death and It’s reasonable to assume that Teri won’t separate their connection but eliminate him for the things he’s done. While what Eldavin has done isn’t bad — insofar as introducing knowledge to the world — waging war and killing a ton of people is considered isn’t really considered good by most people even for a noble cause. Especially because Teri is done with the world and weary of all the death and tragedy. And terribly sorry that my admonishment of Ryoka is not equivalent to your own, but you’ve said everything I would’ve and perhaps a fair bit more. But Eldavin giving out knowledge during the waning world in which everyone loses power is dangerous because it skews known power dynamics. What I’m trying to say that even if Eldavin is doing good, or trying to, the power he gifts is dangerous as a whole despite the seemingly positive implications of elevating others. On the other hand he’s got a good moral compass and is actively trying to direct people in a better direction, but the problem is nobody can disagree with said direction even if they wanted too.

              • Not really? Sure Eldavin is a powerhouse but he is not uncontested. The vizir and the death of magic are just as much magically capable as him. The dude from Drath made him sweat. Cognita can give him a good fight. the whole cabal is on his playing field. He is not a unstoppable, his equal exist. The argument make no sense, it is a inevitability of power that people will listen to you more, unless you want to blame him for being strong his action have been for most part praiseworthy.
                As for the Eldavin not waking up Teri the whole argument is based on Ryoka paranoia. I trust Eldavin track record far more.

                  • No, not really, that it is a waning period for the world do not mean it have to stay that way. Innworld have lived trough plenty of period when those secret were candy.

                    • Actually after some thought I may agree with you because of the impending disaster that is Rhir and the gods coming back. People need to level and power up quickly. As Eldavin said in earlier chapters there hasn’t been a truly massive disaster in ages which is why so much has been lost in complacency.

  23. A lot of hate is directed at Ryoka and I get it. She is a very flawed character, but I love her despite of it, or maybe because of it. Erin is a little too Mary Sue for my taste, she can never do any truly wrong and that would get boring in the end. Ryoka can and does make mistakes. Her huge gamble didn´t pay off in the end, but she didn´t know that beforehand. Nobody did. It´s easy to judge her after failing, but at least she did something she thought was right, or at least less wrong than doing nothing.
    Remember, we are outside observers with more knowledge than any character in the story. Ryoka has been repeatedly traumatized as hinted by Cara and is in the middle of it all. I have a lot of empathy for her. She´s just human after all.

    • I have to disagree, murdering a person based on a very shaky and unproven reasoning is far worse for me than do nothing.

      Also I would be just as pissed at her if she succeeded, what she done was monstrous and entirely unnecessary. She did not even gave him a chance, that whole interaction she was just looking for justification. I don’t think this should be forgiven.

    • Big rambling essay warning

      I actually always thought Erin had some serious character flaws, and being a Mary Sue is only kind of part of that. I largely think the suffering she went through in chapters 1-2 justify her having the strength of will and character to persevere through a lot of what she has gone through, but the main problem is that for a “bastion of hope and goodness” like she’s portrayed to be, she has a particular problem that rears its head at weird times and sometimes even feels outright contradictory to her character.
      In particular I think Toren was handled HORRIBLY by pirate. He showed a lot of his frustration with body language which Erin straight up ignored. Not to mention we had that chapter with Relc and the ponzi scheme where Erin didn’t bother empathizing with Relc. Erin comes off as someone who literally can’t empathize with someone. The only times I can think of where she has, has been across a chess board with Pawn or Niers. Don’t get me wrong, she has loads of sympathy for people in trouble or pain, but empathy is sometimes portrayed as totally beyond her.
      I actually kinda dislike Erin because of this. It means that every good deed she does can be re-contextualized as less because she cares and can put herself in the shoes of others, and more because she was just raised to feel bad when she sees someone in need. She didn’t send Esthelm aid because she imagined what it’d be like to be in their position, she was just raised to help those in need and was happy to do it. She doesn’t empathize with the goblins by imagining their pain and connecting with them, she just feels bad for their lot in life in the same way that you would for a malnourished stray dog. I can actually see a version of the story where Erin would easily fill the role of a villain. After all, if she can’t empathize with people on her own and form her own values, then if she’d been raised by the king of destruction she’d make a fine queen of destruction.

      Contrast this with Ryoka

      At the very least Ryoka, for all her myriad flaws, is herself because she chooses to be. Normally that means she chooses to be the unlikable person that she is, but she certainly comes across as less of a sociopath.

      • Well, so what?

        Do good deed only count if you are empathic? Do that make the act any less if you help Esthelm because it should be help rather than because you fell sorry for the people in it? I find this a horrible and elitist reasoning that base the worth of one good deed on a variable out of their control and not of their own making. People do not chose to be empathic or how much they are, though one can certainly learn how to shut it up. Some have more, some have less, some even have none yet they can all be good or bad people. In fact it may take more effort and will for a person without empathies to become a good person. Though personal experience seem to indicate to me that how much empathies a person posses have little instance on if they are good individual.

        Sociopathy, nor psychopathy in themselves make a person bad, though true enough it tend to facilitate to be so. I may be landing you intention that you do not have, but to me it seem that you equate it to bad and that plain insulting. A single trait however influencing or crippling may it be do not define a person. A person is more than their birth or how they been raised.

        • While i certainly agree that the ends can justify the reasoning, it just makes Erin seem less “heroic” if that’s the correct term.

          The way i think of it, Batman is heroic because he has literally every reason to become a murderer like the Punnisher, but chooses to try to save even villains because he empathizes with them, sees how broken many of them are, and wants them to get help. His empathy is central to his character.

          I am NOT saying that sociopathy or psychopathy necessitates that someone is evil or “bad”. But if you’re trying to make a character that is all “sugar, spice, and everything nice” like Erin is often portrayed and even explicitly seen by other characters, yet are lacking in the ability to empathize, then that certainly taints the image, doesn’t it?

          Here’s a real-world example:
          The one of the reasons for the weird shape of plastic water bottles is to get the same amount of liquid in a more cost-efficient container. This saves plastic and helps protect the environment. This was not the intended goal for the companies that make plastic bottles.
          They just wanted to save plastic to make cheaper bottles.
          You get a positive outcome for a selfish gain, and the world is better for it! But you aren’t going to look at a water bottle and say “Oh gee, that water bottle company is so good for cutting down on plastic pollution”

          There’s nothing elitist about it and i certainly hope i got my point across more clearly.

          • That certainly better, but I still disagree. For instance the bottle example do not really apply as for many of Erin deed there was no benefits for her and often enough it actually cost her. She did it because she though it was the good thing to do, those were good deed, well when she don’t screw up. If she did that because she should, as opposed as because she care I don’t find that a taints. For example would a batman motivated by a moral code be any worst or less interesting that one motivated by empathy?

            As for Erin presenting herself like miss caring, I long held the view that it is like an act that she maintain, but I don’t find that a fault. No more that when I pretend interest in a conversation for politeness. That a useful skill that help her take care of other people, I find that admirable if anything.

            But I understand that it is a difference in point of view and value and that we are unlikely to come to a entente. Nor is it something that have a yes or no answer.

      • You did more than most Ryoka apologists because usually they all sound like, duh, I like Ryoka cuz she does flashy things and Erin is a Mary Sue with character demonstrating that I have no idea what a Mary Sue is, a Mary Sue has no flaws at all and everything goes perfect for them, that’s why they aren’t compelling.

        What shows is that you didn’t actually dig into the story, the real flaw in your argument , is that all you really did was parrot a line from chapter told from Ryoka’s POV, a POV we know is fundamentally flawed which was demonstrated in this very chapter from her rose colored view of Teriarch being the perfect hero who would protect immortals even though he made it clear that he had actually slaughtered fellow dragons on behalf of mortals and pirate is great as an author because he/she is able put the biases of the POV character into each the chapter as they change perspective.

        Erin has her blind spots and preconceptions to be sure but if she actually had no empathy at all she never would have gotten this far, even if Ryoka in her arrogant delusions of grandeur couldn’t see it. Erin may have drawn a hard line in the sand with Relc but she also knew Relc better than Ryoka and he is a type of person you really have to slap in the face with their mistake before they begin to understand what they did wrong.

        But here is the big thing this chapter revealed which I think you’ve chosen to ignore.

        Erin grew from her mistakes (which is called character development fyi), finally coming to understand and see who Toren was. Ryoka definitely has not grown as was made abundantly clear by this chapter. She’s still the same arrogant brat she always was, and what I find funny about you bringing up Toren was that Ryoka criticized Erin for not being able to see Toren as a living thing with his own sentience but then she literally turned around and became a total hypocrite about it when it came to Eldavin literally trying to murder him because she wanted Teriarch the crutch that always bailed her out back as soon as possible without bothering to consider the fallout, something you conveniently chose not to bring up.

        • I gave multiple reasons for why Erin comes across as a sociopath and you only poorly shot down a single one of them by hating on a character you don’t seem to like.
          I also think that Ryoka did totally screw up here, by the way. She had a VERY easy way to turn Eldavin away from war by just saying, “Well these people in Ailendamus are only waging war to make their home more secure so they can survive. You are fighting hard to not die. How could you rightly put them to the sword when you understand that desire to survive?” And then maybe steer him in the direction of peace talks.
          At the very least she could have attempted to argue for peace. But she didn’t. Cuz she’s Ryoka and she wouldn’t be herself if she didn’t screw everything up.

          I would also somewhat argue against the idea that Erin in volume 1 is all that different from Erin now. She’s still an uncompromising “my way or the highway” kind of character. She’s just stronger now.

          Ryoka on the other hand has actually grown quite a bit. She started as a completely antisocial person that only cared about herself with mild delusions of grandeur. Now she seems to have gotten quite a bit over her antisocial behavior and cares quite a bit about the people she forms connections with, but as a deeply flawed character she handles these NEW (to her) relationships poorly. Remember, she only really started having friends and a social life about a year ago in this story’s time. While her delusions of grandeur are still in full swing, she’s at least being challenged by them and the people around her every now and then. If anything, I’d argue that no character has developed more than Ryoka besides, perhaps, Lyonette and some of the antinium. then again, the latter’s kind of a given when every antinium is developing out of “soulless automaton”

          • I would say the same for you in hating on a character that you don’t seem to like in Erin. No character has to do a complete 180 which is the standard you want to hold Erin to. While Ryoka not being a complete asshole to everyone she meets is all she needs to be considered much better developed by you. It’s right that Erin holds on to her core traits, they literally bind the verse together (and mainly why the story became popular despite Isekai having become a flooded genre in the past decade). But to say that Erin is the same as in volume 1 is not really fair and I will admit it isn’t all that fair to say that about Ryoka. Perhaps we’re similar in faulting characters we don’t entirely wish to like. Believe it or not I was coming around on Ryoka, until she pulled this crap. She may have developed on the surface but when crunch time came she showed that she hasn’t changed where it matters and maybe that is her overall arc but right now she deserves to be a hate-sink for her actions.

            However you once again fail to address the biggest complaint I had, the blatant hypocrisy, everything you and Ryoka accused Erin of, Ryoka turned around and did, don’t create technology Erin but I’m going to give out plans for literal weapons, Toren is a sentient being you should recognize as one Erin but I’m going to turn around and murder Eldavin who just became sentient because I have an unhealthy worship of Tericarch.

            I will agree that Both Erin and Ryoka are ‘my way or the highway” characters to an extent but that’s not always a bad thing and there is a key difference. Erin was uncompromising when she had to hold the line and do what was right even if it wasn’t popular by other character’s standards. With Zevara when it came to the 5, with Relc when it came to Rags and the Golden Triangle, and with Grimalkin when it came to Ryoka herself.

            Ryoka was uncompromising because she wanted to be obnoxious and believed she knew better than everyone else. Trying to save Tyrion’s kids so that she could meet Ivoelethe because that’s what mattered, not the people who died for it who she hasn’t given a thought to since. Pushing to pester Belavierr despite clear warnings not to because she believed that her interference would bridge the gap and was only backed down when Belavierr literally had to sow her lips shut. Not confiding in Erin or anyone else about Az’Kerash which I will grant his is a menacing presence but it seemed more like Ryoka hid information about him because she believed she could outmaneuver him. Trying to push Teriarch into action over and over again when he warns her that whenever he gets involved things turn for the worse and how he’s not at core a good being she ignores him because at base she will not compromise on her belief that only immortals and grand magic can solve problems. This was on display in this very chapter when she meets Eldavin and laments that a grand working of magic and immortals weren’t what would bring Erin back, then doubts that the collective efforts of so many mortals can do the job, something that Eldavin himself believes is the correct approach. In this she shows once again that she will not compromise on her belief that only immortals and grand works by them can save the day which is a very bad blinder considered Ivoelethe herself all but told Ryoka that it is the Goblins, the youngest race, that they should look to.

  24. I feel like letting Eldavin would be the greatest threat ever to Teriach’s life. We see from this chapter that Eldavin deeply fears dying. Let’s say he travels to Teriach’s cave and see his dragon self in a comatose state. There is a high chance that out of fear, he would permanently kill Teriach just to live as Eldavin.

    Ryoka weighed the scales between a dwindling group of immortals she hardly knows vs a half-elf Eldavin that is a shadow of the dragon that saved her, and chose the former. She tried to force Teriach to wake up via the only solution she knows, killing the simulacra that is preventing the original from waking up.

    From her experience with the various immortals (in Ailendamus, Teriach etc) and her visit to the fae world, it permanently changed how she views immortals. Their dwindling number, their depression/sadness of being one of the last of their speicies, which definitely makes Ryoka want to protect them through her own methods, however misguided it is.

    I don’t dislike Ryoka’s actions near the end, it is a semi-realistic portrayal of what she would do with her personality, her experience, and equipment (fae blade).

    • Eldavin gave no reason to be doubted beyond Ryoka paranoia. What he asked was entirely reasonable. Ryoka simply did not try to consider him as the person that he is as she only wanted to see Teri. It was not a choice between him and Teri, not was it a choice between the cabal and Eldavin. It could have been resolved to everyone certain degree of satisfaction if they tried. But Ryoka did not try to look at the situation any more that the solution that would get her dragon back faster. All the rest are self justification that would not have hold if she made any effort. She is a horrible person, that gratuity try to commit murder because it was easier and faster.

      • Eldavin does gave a reason to be doubted. His fear of dying. Ryoka should not bet on the life of Teriach by leaving it to the unknown variable called Eldavin. And we also see how Ryoka wanted him to quickly return and wake up Teriach, but Eldavin tried to delay it even though he has the power to go to the cave fast enough. As I stated, what would stop Eldavin from trying to remove the original just to live.

        Also, Ryoka didn’t explicitly choose between the cabal and Eldavin to clarify my comment. It is more of a wanting to prevent the latter from destroying the former. Add to that the fact that Ryoka with a huge desire to bring back Teriach, and we see her choosing to remove the fake Teriach her own way.

        Ryoka didn’t commit murder, Eldavin was just a simulacram and is a part of Teriach. What she did was just remove a spell gone wrong. For all intents and purposes, Eldavin isn’t a real person and Ryoka betted that Teriach would remember everything Eldavin did if her bet went well (which didn’t as we all can see)

        • Ryoka absolutely committed murder, if you do not care for my view, care for Teri own belief. He proven that he think of sentient golem as people, so why the hell would he not think of the simulacrum with free will and unique personality as such.

          How is murdering one to protect the other not making a choice?

          Pretty much everyone fear to die, Ryoka fear to die. It is not a sufficient basis to mistrust on it own. Particularly not a basis to justified killing. Eldavin did not really try to delay, he was not ok with dying because Ryoka prefer a dragon which is imminently fair. He also very reasonably was not okay to drop everything, abandon his allied, friend and faction to probably die and his cause to fail because Ryoka is freaking impatient. Ryoka was absolutely not reasonable as she refused to consider Eldavin as a person and saw him as just a mean to get Teri.

          • Considering simulacram clones as their own being is a slippery slope. Simulacram’s exist as an offshoot of the main body, not a separate being like golems are, they live by the will of a sentient creator, unlike golems who are self-sustaining (in a way) and lives on mana. They are absolutely different, and you should not be using golems as an argument that simulacram are the same.
            In most stories, simulacram spells are handled with absolute care, because there is always a chance that the clone will get the desire to usurp the position of the original via permanent means. Also, we see Teriarch putting a lot of care into creating the simulacram many chapters back, because he also knew the problems with letting simulacrams “live” for too long

            Your argument also fails to consider that for Eldavin to “live” as he is now, he simply has to continue doing what he is doing by not letting Teriarch recover. For all intents and purposes, he is a parasite, and I feel like it is even more heartless for you to support Eldavin’s continued existence just because he is “living”, when his existence is based off putting Eldavin to sleep.

            If forced to choose between undoing himself vs waking up Teriarch, you don’t want to bet on Eldavin (with his fear of death) from permanently putting Teriarch to sleep.

            • I have full confidence that Eldavin know what he is talking about when he say that he can fully separate himself. I also have been given no reason at all to doubt his trustworthiness. The mater of his creation matter little, he is sentient free willed and unique, you can question the moral and ethic of the simulacrum spell. But you don’t get to handwave it away when it create people because it is inconvenient. That is called having moral and it is a bitch. As for the parasitic bit, Teri made the freaking spell and then went to sleep. Eldavin is not taking advantage of him nor he is to blame. He was not aware of this and once he was he gave every indication to want to solve this as soon as was reasonable. I am horrified by Ryoka action in great part because this was never a choice, there was no reason those two could not coexist. Ryoka just jumped on the fist opportunity to get Teri back moral and consequence be dammed.

              • I think the fact that Eldavin claimed he could separate them and then didn’t go about doing it at the mention is worrisome. It implies Eldavin is afraid Teri would simply dust him afterwards. Also Eldavin is taking advantage of Teri by siphoning his mana to power stronger spells. We have no Idea what effect this is having on the main body. Somebody even mentioned the amount he used was dangerous and that he most certainly should be worse for wear.

                • Again I disagree with your interpretation of Eldavin fear. Even if he think there risk of Teri being hostile, I don’t think anything indicated he would not wake him up. As he was saying he just wanted to prepare to make sure he survive. It do not seem impossible for him to safeguard himself from a dragon. As for siphoning the power that a fair point, but those initial case were in a scramble to survive. I think Eldavin was being honest when he say he be careful and is wise enough to use that trick reasonably. That is until some mad woman put a hit on his head from some of the most powerful being in innworld. What a moron.

                • We have been given no reason to doubt Eldavin or his world and he have proven already that the risk of death is not enough to deter him from doing the right thing. Your statement hold no basis in the actual story.

            • Everyone with this argument seems to be conveniently glossing over the fact that Eldavin specifically mentioned he was going to perform a ritual that would turn him into a real boy and also wake Teriarch up by severing the connection. You’re presenting a false dilemma. It’s not a matter of “Eldavin or Teriarch”, the option of “both” is on the table.

              • You must have missed it because I say so a few time, but no matter.
                Thank you! finally someone else that bring that fact up.

                • Got any proof? You do realize that when someone make a claim it fall on them to prove it. As it stand you just imagining scenario.

  25. Yeah this was a bit weird on Ryoka’s behalf – the 1 day nature of this writint challenge really hurt the way her backstab was expressed by giving it so little buildup. The fact she barely tried convincing him to quit the war before immediately going for the kill made her seem a lot more bloodthirsty than it should have. Some extra charaterisation showing Eldavin is truly incapable of being swayed on this position would have made her actions seem much more reasonable, hell, she could have even tried appealing to Eldavin about the good nature of the immortal kabal. I hope the middle section gets a bit of a rewrite/extra writing, as cool and dramatic as it the plot twist is.

    • The point of this chapter was that Ryoka was not reasonable. At the scene of the goat it is clear that she already made her mind about killing him. She never intended to give Eldavin a chance as she was jumping on the opportunity to get Teri back as soon as possible. I support that by how she though noting of twisting a knife in Cara back which was done before Eldavin when she tried to discourage Tyrion. She have one hell of a tunnel vision and it was set on getting Teri as soon as possible.

      Eldavin was showing himself fully willing to help and also demonstrated that he was capable of being swayed on his position as demonstrated when he say:
      “You know…? Criminals by whose standards? No—no, there is nuance here.”
      Sure that was not enough to convince him but that show he was open to reconsider. Diplomacies would in all likelihood have work.

      He got betrayed because he was not willing to drop death so Ryoka could have her dragon now. Or abandon everyone he took in the war with him, the cause that made him enter the war, which obviously mater to him and all him other responsibility to immediately work on waking up Teri. Also to be fair, he have no reason to believe it is in any way urgent and it is not. Ryoka was being impatient.

      Ryoka had no justification for this, it was not needed. This is plain Murder, caused by her impatience, paranoia and inability to trust anything that is not a immortal.

  26. Welp, absolutely a ryoka thing to do, she’s got an amount of belief that only she can do things that hasn’t really changed at all from her first apperance, all of her flaws really are just as bad as they were at the start but directed into slightly more productive and less self destructive actions.

    adding to that her ever inflating sense of entitlement to immortals and it’s not surprising she decided “this calls for immediate decisive decision by someone who understands and is capable, which of course I am”

    on the bright side it happened to distrupt whatever the god of magic was planning and teriarch apperantly got a jolt that will wake him up eventually so it might turn out ok anyway by chance.

    • I think he really uses the power of the god of magic and he tries to kill him with it somehow, or tries to control him somehow.

  27. I wonder how Tyron will react. He draws his sword and prepares for war, but it was Princess Oesca of Ailendamus that saved Sammial. While his son is very clearly in danger, it doesn’t appear that he’s in danger from Ailendamus. After all, that explosion nearly killed a daughter of the royal family. At this point the 5 families and Ailendamus have a reason to unite, if anything. someone just tried to kill their kids! Call a truce and try to figure out who the hell it was! Tyrion wouldn’t accuse them of it. Oesca nearly died.
    I know the story isn’t going to go that way, but the Great General could probably just open a path through her army and say to Tyrion “Go to the capital. We won’t stop you from reaching your recently-nearly-assassinated-on-our-watch son”
    She won’t. But she could.

    • There still the kidnaping and not giving it back problem. But yes if Rhis was not torturing Ailendamus diplomat a lot of thing would be different.

      • Given Ailendamus basically decided “we kidnapped someone very important by accident, huh, I guess we’ll keep him for no reason, I wonder why his dad doesn’t like us”, I think there’s a lot of blame to go around.

  28. I’m gonna be real, I get that this arc has been very long in the buildup, but I think a lot of people are not in the mood to be following a protagonist who is wholeheartedly supporting a dictatorship with centralized power and a vast propaganda machine/information control system who are currently waging an unjustified war of expansion for their own personal gain right now.

    • That’s fair.

      For me its more about what kind of person that character the story has me following is like. For me, she has crossed the moral event horizon here, and it feels like its going to be a lot of attempts at justification down the line. It’s all so self-pitying and pathetic, “I help immortal dictatorships in wars of conquest but I moralize from time to time, ain’t I grand with my bleeding heart.”

        • I don’t share your optimism. If I hear anything that shows that Ryoka receives meaningful consequences for her actions here later down the line, then it’ll lure me back into continuing this story, but I anticipate it will just amount to a lot of superficial post hoc justifications.

          Until then, this story really only exists for me as Volume 5, as that is pretty much the only volume that I can come back and reread in full for how much I genuinely enjoy it, ending and all.

        • Actually, I *do* kind of want to see Ryoka in the land of the dead. She seems way more suited to it than Erin. And *everyone* there is immortal … sort of.

    • This plot line is clearly something pirate has been working on for a long time. She did not have Ukraine in mind when writing it and applying that logic to it is wholly unfair and uncalled for.
      but i c wat u did ther

      Also, even if pirate deliberately made such parallels then I’d still approve purely on the basis that good art should be evocative and TWI is good art.

    • not like this is the only storyline that goes “maybe superpowered dictators are good?”

      the king of destruction plot is currently steadily advancing to “good thing we have an imperialist dictator colonizer with mind control, who else would free the slaves and djinn once the few people to who matter to him eventually convince him he might as well?”

    • But isnt it Calenfer WHO wields the propaganda machine in this setting? It was stated explicitly that they gave a bad name to Ailendamus for a long time. And manipulated countries into war, even offering Lionettes hand for Veltras help.

  29. Lotta comments hating on Ryoka for killing Eldavin, but to be fair if he doesn’t die chances are Teriarch will never wake uo again, a being of such power and fear of death would go to great lenghts to stay alive. I heavily suspect the murder attempt was very motivated by fear of what Eldavin might do. Heck I wouldn’t be surprised if he let out a plague spell or ten if sufficiently outnumbered, fear is one powerful motivator.

    • Fucking hell, what with the hate of Eldavin. This is not a crime to fear dead, that a very reasonable thing that everyone does. He have come to fight Ailendamus despite the very real risk for his person because he though the cause was worth it. So now that he gave his word that he would wake teri, when he never gone back from his word up to this point, everyone suspect him. this is bullshit.

      The man have done literally noting to justified such suspicion, quite the contrary.

      Ryoka is the one to blame, she took a situation that could have been resolved peacefully and made it about a 100 time worst. This is being done by trying to commit murder on a good man, then when that fail, by trying to start a bigger nastier war to assassinate say man.

  30. I finally caught up with the story, kinda.
    Normally I do not spend much time in the comment section because I read the next chapter as soon as possible but I have seen a lot of people hating on Ryoka I really don’t understand.

    “She doesn’t care about the people dying in the war”
    Just because it is stated here doesn’t mean she LITERALLY does not care. Her actions of trying to persuade the leaders on Ailendamus speak against that fact. She WANTS to stop the war but the problem is she doesn’t want Ailendamus to suffer because their people there are not evil. The country isn’t evil and they in fact have a somewhat better government than some of us on Earth.
    The only Problem is that they wage war like they are trying to found the USA.
    She knows both sides of the war which is why she wants to stop Eldavin and Tyrion.

    “Killing Eldavin was pointless, she could have waited or tried to talk him out of it”
    Teriarch, the original body of Eldavin with more memories and experience on his belt, was arguing with Ryoka over the fact that he does nothing and it is explained that he is tired of fighting for one side just to see them turn into something bad or realize that the side he did everything to defeat wasn’t bad to begin with. Teriarch would not want to wage war against Ailendamus, especially if he knew there is a save place for immortals near extinction in there. The powerful dragon supporting a side with unfair powers flips the balance over to a win for those he supports and then seeing the winning side change over time and their kingdoms fade.
    It is clear Teriarch would not want to be Eldavin and Eldavin will make the same mistakes that Teriarch probably did multiple times. It is a path that will lead him to grief and regret.
    Especially because he said he wants to win the war first and sees the immortals as a great threat. He would absolutely kill them and then it’s not even clear if he would go back to being Teriarch seeing how afraid he is that this version of him will die.
    She tried talking him out of it, but seeing that combined with the knowledge that Teriarch would just get hurt by his mistakes after “being half-assed about it” she decided to try to return Eldavin to his original body.
    She can’t tell Eldavin about the immortals because of her promise not to tell, same thing as she can’t tell them about Teriarch. The wyrm concluded it because he smelled dragon on her but she still isn’t allowed to tell anyone and betraying Teriarchs trust. How hypocritic would it be to tell Eldavin about the immortals she swore not to reveal to anyone. It wouldn’t only a breach in trust to Rhisveri but every immortal she ever met.
    Ryoka killed Eldavin not because she does think he would be an awful leader or bad for everyone around him. She thinks he is a hero! She killed him because of what Eldavin will do and Teriarch wouldn’t like. If you were bitten by a zombie and knew you would attack your loved ones soon would you want to be stopped or go on a rampage?

    “She has a hero complex and thinks she has to do everything by herself”
    Well, she IS the only one who knows every side. She has to be the one to tell Eldavin that he is a dragon because only her and Magnolia know. Ryoka put Magnolias attention to it but she didn’t/can’t do anything right now. Ryoka can’t reveal the secret to anyone else so she has to go and convince him herself. Other characters don’t know the intentions of the immortals and would have the impossible task of convincing someone you don’t why they started the war.

    Granted, she isn’t my favorite character but I by no means hate her. Her chapters are something I look forward to more than King of Destruction chapters with Trey mixed in.

    Maybe part of why people don’t like Ryoka right now is our current situation with the Ukrainian war, which shows similarities where Russia is the attacking force just like Ailendamus.
    But would you really want the Dawn Concordat allied with Eldavin and Tyrion kill the people of Ailendamus knowing that they are just very patriotic because they are happy in their country and the last kind of an immortal race or do you want the war to just end and be done with it?
    If Ryoka was successful with the kill then Teriarch would wake up again, Tyrion would get his son back save, the rulers of Ailendamus would be convinced to stop the war against the Dawn Concordat because Risveri would be pressured because the others would be against it.
    And even if Ryoka got into trouble there, as long as Teriarch was Teriarch she would get out of it.

    What we are left now is the possibility of Eldavin doing something he will regret. After everything he has gone through he got convinced to stand up again and try but he is on a path of doing again what he feared would happen.

    • The issue lies with this:

      “She WANTS to stop the war but the problem is she doesn’t want Ailendamus to suffer because their people there are not evil.”

      This is not the dilemma. Ailendamus’ people are suffering just as much by Ailendamus’ unjustified wars of expansion as the people they’re conquering. It’s not only the Dawn Concordat’s soldiers that die in battle.

      But Ryoka is not just trying to stop the war, which would eliminate suffering on both sides. Her moral tipping point is when she stopped trying to negotiate a ceasefire and started trying to actively make Ailendamus WIN this conflict. This ties into what I said earlier. She only cares about the people who are closest to her, in literal proximity. She’s willing to make this war continue, and sabotage the opposing force, so that Ailendamus can slaughter them all the more easily. Because she happens to have spoken with the people who rule Ailendamus, but has never been to the Dawn Concordat.

      Never mind that these people fucking EAT PEOPLE, or any of their other atrocities, and that she has never meaningfully interacted with any of the commonfolk of Ailendamus, only the royalty and their attendants, she spoke to them first and so she’s on their side. No matter that they’re the aggressor state here.

      • I don’t know if you fully read my comment but she doesn’t want Ailendamus to win the conflict, she negotiated with rhe rulers for an end to this war by pressuring the rest of the immortals against Risveri and essentially buying it with the obols. She just needed to convince all parties of to end the war.

        And yeah, they eat people. Murderers and only the most insuffarable kind. They judge them fairly despite their gain.
        Many countries, like the USA, still have a death penalty and I can’t say I like it but on the other hand Ailendamus, for their medival like time the story plays is pretty progressive.
        If they eat people that were condemned to death anyway then the criminals are put to some use. The Lucifen are not humans themselves so it is not an entirely evil act. In nature animals eat other animals constantly and are not condemned for it.

        • As Eldavin implied, the secret rulers of Ailendamus, are immortal beings who sacrice mortals like cattle for their own comfort. They are no better than vampiric parasites. Sort of like Putin but (hopefully) he’s only going to be around a decade or so. Imagine an immortal Putin.

        • Kneecapping the Dawn Concordat will cripple them at the bargaining table. Ailendamus will take them for all they are worth. They will have own this war, in large part due to Ryoka’s actions; or at least that was her intent. Or were you under the impression that wars are won by wiping out the other side? Almost all wars, historically, have ended in surrender or ceasefire, not genocide.

          “In nature animals eat other animals constantly and are not condemned for it.”

          Most animals aren’t sapient you moron. Eating a cow is different from eating a human. Commoditizing sapient life is evil, full stop. It doesn’t matter if they only do it to criminals or not. Because, by the very fact that they have something to gain by it, their viewpoints are tainted. If they go too long without food and feel the hunger pangs creeping in, you can be assured that they’ll loosen the restrictions on what constitutes an offense worthy of butchering. Which is what they’re doing. It is, quite literally, butchery. It starts with the “murderers and only the most insufferable kind”, but when the country lacks for those, what then? Does the woman who killed her abuser go to the chopping block? The man who accidentally dropped a heavy object from a window and killed something? The thief? The vandal?

          This is the exact same reasoning, by the by, on why slavery is inherently evil. It doesn’t matter how well you treat the slaves. It doesn’t matter if the slaves are only pulled from the absolute dregs of society…at first. Because it never stops there. Once there is a commodity, there is demand. Where there is demand, there is profit. Where there is profit, are those looking to increase said profit. And the best way to increase that profit is to widen the criteria for who is viable slave stock.

          The Lucifen are simultaneously the target audience, the profiteers, and those in charge of determining the laws governing who is “insufferable” enough to become food. Perhaps they will maintain fairness; even in that case they would be heinously evil, but a contained sort.

          But the Lucifen wish to use Ailendamus as a shield behind which they can rebuild their race. As said race grows, demand for food increases. As demand increases, more must be sacrificed to appease their hunger.

          There is no world in which this ends well save one where the Lucifen go extinct.

  31. Ah, Ryoka, grandest fool in all the worlds. Is it any wonder the fae love her so, when she dances so amusingly upon the stage? Doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, oh yes. Taylor Hebert herself bows to your mastery of impetuous decision making, justified after the fact with all the self-righteous belief in your own correctness. Earned and not.

    Never have I known a character who so consistently makes the worst choices at the worst moments when it matters most. How I love to watch her flail in her stumbling gait to success and destiny.

    Shine on you magnificent fuck-up, shine on.

  32. This seems a bit forced to be. Ryoka would’ve tried diplomacy first. There are many things she can do, calm Eldavin down, have him slow down or halt his war temporary, then try to convince him of the goodness in Allendamus. She talks to immortals, and have done well so far. To not be able to convince Eldavin to calm down is unlikely.

    She could’ve also compromise. Tell Eldavin to go to into hiding, not necessary return to Teriach. And then find a solution there. Elvadin isn’t in danger, just as she had stated at the end. Eldavin has access to powerful magic, surely there’s a solution to his problem. He could’ve also calmed Eldavin done by telling him he wasn’t in danger.

    I disagree with everyone criticism or support of Ryoka. From her being too immature, or being too egotistical or having a hero complex, or saying that she’s right and had done the right thing.

    So I believe that this is way out of her character. Ryoka didn’t so this. The author wants her to do it, to drive plot towards a more epic direction. Not that that’s wrong, realism is not always thrilling. But I think this twist is a bit sloppy.

    But that’s fine. This novel is still gold.

  33. Why the fuck would she do that? Why the fuck did killing Eldavin seem like the right thing to do there?
    She barely even tried to reason with him, and just went straight for the nuke button. They could have looked for a solution together, or just talked it out a while longer. Why the fuck was her first action to betray?
    I genuinely do not understand this character anymore.
    I don’t like this turn of events at all. Not as a characterisation or narrative way.

  34. Only Eldavin would consider a Dead God an “Annoying ghost.”

    I mean, really :D

    I really want Teriarch back. Reminds me of Fizban the Fabulous

  35. Ngl, when she beheaded Eldawin i was legitimately scared for Teriarch. In light of the death being compromised. I realise it would be stupid to leave a vulnerability like that, and we don’t really know the simulacra spell to really tell when happens what.

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