Basic Training 7-03

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Soon, we were all making our way into the Pathmaker building. The class consisted of about a third of the first year students, which amounted to six teams, or thirty-six of us. Apparently the remaining sixty-six would get their field trip the next time they had Heretical History. We were the first group.

We were met at the entrance by a couple adults I didn’t recognize, and that Wyatt guy that had been hired as one of the security guards. They were all wearing the same uniform, so I assumed the other two were his co-workers, though they also looked like they were only a year or two out of school, as opposed to Wyatt, whose age I still guessed to be around forty. Then again, it was still impossible to guess how old anyone in this place was, no matter how much my brain kept reflexively trying to.

Regardless of their ages, all of them wore serious faces to the point of looking downright dour. Apparently the last couple incidents had been bad enough that we were being sent with escorts.

I was walking alongside Sean, while Vulcan trotted on his other side. As we moved into the building (and I still thought that whole ‘it exists in multiple locations all at the same time’ thing was kind of crazy), I glanced sidelong toward the boy. “So how much do you know about this Hieronymus guy?”

He shook his head. “Not that much more than you do, really. Unless you’re a big Renaissance artist buff, in which case you probably know more than I do.” Cracking his neck to one side, he continued. “Pretty much all I know is that he created the Edge, he’s one of our Founders, and without him there’d be a hell of a lot less Heretics in the world today. Oh, and there’s that thing about the treasure.”

“Treasure?” It was Columbus’s turn to pipe up from behind us. “What treasure?”

That sparked a series of groans from several of the Heretic-born students, and Gavin, the tall, thin boy who was one of Sean’s fellow Security-track students, reached out to swat the Hispanic boy. “Damn it, dude, did you have to mention that old rumor? Now no one’s gonna shut up until they hear the story.”

Sean just waved a hand and chuckled. “Oh, they’d hear about it anyway, and you all know it. It’s Bosch’s Treasure, everyone fucking hears about it. Shit, I’m still surprised it isn’t a common bystander myth already. God knows they’ve already got enough myths that did start out as just ours.”

One of the boys I didn’t know, from a team I had barely paid attention to spoke up then. “Well, go on then. Tell them all about Bosch’s Treasure. I wanna see if anyone’s dumb enough to go looking for it.”

“Hey, hey!” The high pitched voice, almost like the yapping of one of those small, annoying dogs, interrupted just as Sean was opening his mouth. Wyatt, security badge gleaming on the front of his pristine white uniform (it sort of looked like one a formal officer’s uniform from the US Navy), came striding up. “What’s all the commotion? What’s all the yammering, huh? You planning some kind of prank, huh? You kids think it’s funny, you think we’re playing around now? I bet you got some prank planned, don’t you? Yeah, you’re planning something. You think you’re hiding it, but I can see right through ya. You think you’re so funny. Funny, huh? You think you’re funny, punk? Do ya?”

“Sir, no sir,” Sean replied with the air of a military cadet. “I am fairly confident that you’re providing the majority the humor in this particular moment, and I wouldn’t dream of stealing your thunder, sir.”

“You think I’m kidding?” Wyatt demanded. “You know what happens to traitors out here? I think you-”

“Yo, Wyatt,” one of his fellow security guards, a younger guy who looked like he was about twenty-three or so with sandy blonde hair and an earnest expression, stepped up. “I think Professor Ross might need your help with the portal room door. You know how finicky those things have been lately.”

Distracted, the older guard went off to the front of the group to ‘help’ the teacher. As he left, his coworker turned an broad, easy smile toward us. It was a look that spoke of a childhood full of mischief. He had broad shoulders and the tanned face that made me think of long days on a farm. He reminded me of Captain America or something. That kind of earnest optimism.

“Sorry about that, folks,” he drawled easily, going so far as to tip an imaginary hat. “We do try to keep Wyatt entertained, and he’s a damn good security enchanter. But ahh, maybe not the best to have around actual people. Don’t take it personally, he’s pretty ornery with everybody. Hope everyone’s okay. He didn’t go assigning detention for looking at him funny or anything this time, did he?”

Everyone shook our heads, and the man’s smile broadened. “Great, great. Good to know. Well, if you look at him cross-eyed or whatever and you need to get something off your record, just find me. My name’s Rucker, Reid Rucker. I’ve been Professor Kohaku’s second in command of the Security division for about twenty years now. Usually those of you outside of the security track wouldn’t even see me except in passing unless something went awfully wrong. But well, given a few events this year… well, let’s just say we’re doing things a little bit different until everything calms down.”

“You mean until you find out who killed Professor Pericles,” Koren, blunt as always, spoke up.

Rucker nodded easily. “Ain’t no reason to be coy, I guess. Yeah, that’s one of the major issues we’re dealing with right now. But don’t worry, we’ll nail him. Or her. Everyone makes a mistake sometime.”

With that promise, Rucker smiled before stepping away to say something to his partner. As he left, I took a moment to wonder why Wyatt had only been hired this year, and what he’d been before. Seriously, he was one of the newest members of the school staff, and he had access to all the security details. Not being suspicious of him would be stupid, even if he did come off as a big paranoid goof.

It was worth looking into, especially since I needed to find a way into the security office anyway. But for now, I had to focus. As I turned away, Sean caught my gaze with a raised eyebrow. Before he could say anything, however, we were being ushered through the now-open door and into the portal room.

It was a bit crowded in the waiting room, and Professor Ross spoke up while shifting her way through the mass of students to reach the other side. “I know, I know it’s uncomfortable, guys. Just think of it as if you’re standing in a really big elevator. Sixty seconds, then we can go through to the other side.”

While we were waiting, I saw the twins. Sands had been pretty much as quiet as her sister. Her gaze was on the ground, and she was standing with her shoulders a bit hunched, obviously wanting to be left alone. When she felt my gaze on her, she looked up. I expected a bit of anger or wariness, but she just looked a bit lost and even a little confused. And tired. She definitely looked tired. We locked eyes for several long seconds before the other girl looked away once more, turning her gaze to her sister.

I wanted to sigh out loud. I didn’t blame her, not really. This was a lot to expect someone who had grown up with this stuff to just accept on the word of someone they met a few months ago. Actually, I was kind of surprised that Sean was taking it as well as he was. Sands’ reaction was understandable. I just hoped that when she was ready to start talking about it again, she would let me know.

Before much longer, the temperature in the room had dropped somewhat to match wherever we were going. There was a definite chill in the air even before the door opened, and once it did, I felt a cool breeze that made me shiver a little bit. Around me, I could see most of the others react similarly.

“Don’t worry, don’t worry,” Professor Ross assured us while standing by the open door, having produced a small box from somewhere that she was holding in one hand. “Everyone just file through here and take one of these buttons on your way. Attach the button to your uniform, then press your thumb against the center circle and activate it the same way you’ve used those flash enchantments.”

One by one, we moved on through the doorway and to the other side. When it was my turn, I dipped my hand into the box and took out what appeared to be a simple blue button about two inches across. There was, as she had promised, a red circle in the middle of it, about the size of my thumb. I used the pin on the backside of it to attach the thing to my uniform jacket, then pressed my thumb against the circle while focusing on channeling power the same way we’d learned to do for those flash bangs.

By that time, I had stepped through the door, finding myself standing in the middle of a grassy field with some trees to my right. Ahead of me there was more of the admittedly very pretty grass field, and in the far distance I could see the skyline of a city with a few tall buildings, including what looked like a very impressive church. The city was clearly visible even from this distance.

Oh, and it was cold. Eesh. Just as my thumb was pressing against the button, I felt the chill wash over me. It wasn’t quite snow-cold, but it wasn’t much warmer than that. I’d put it at forty degrees or so.

The button activated a couple seconds after I pressed it, and the cold suddenly vanished. Once again, it felt like we were back at school under the weather-controlled magical shield. Clearly, these buttons were the portable, hand-held version of that. Useful. I wondered how hard they were to make.

Curiously, I turned to look at the door we had come through. Just like that day back in a very different field when my only other landmark had been an empty school bus, there was a doorway standing there in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing. Through it, I could see more students coming and the interior of the room that I had just left. But when I peered around the other side, it was, again, empty.

Actually, come to think of it, I’d been wondering why Professor Dare’s portal had brought me out of those mirrors in the main school building rather than through the obviously more commonly used Pathmaker building. Was there a reason behind that? If I asked her, would she tell me the truth?

“Welcome,” Professor Ross intoned as soon as we were all through and most of the shivers had stopped as students activated their provided buttons. “If you all look a little bit that way, you’ll see the lovely city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, or as the locals usually call it, Den Bosch, including St. John’s Cathedral. Crossroads maintains several safehouses in the city, and the Cathedral is one of them. If you are ever in the area and need help, go there and use the phrase, ‘Peasant Bruegel lost his H for Pieter.’ Try to remember that. Peasant Bruegel lost his H for Pieter. You will probably learn a lot of these phrases, and remembering as many of them as possible will end up helping you eventually.”

The older-looking woman sighed a bit wistfully. “Actually, this place is very beautiful, and is… essentially our holy place, for all intents and purposes. The city is wonderful, and I strongly suggest that all of you take the time to come here at some point on your own. Walk around the city, try to experience it as our forefather must have, through it has moved on far beyond his time. See the statue of Bosch. Climb the many, many steps in the cathedral to look out over the city from its highest point. Believe me, such a trip is well worth it, and getting away from all the… insanity is good for you.”

Turning away from the city skyline then, she twitched a finger. “Come. The city of Hieronymus Bosch’s birth will be there for you when you wish to visit. For now, we have something else to see.”

We all started walking again, and the three security guards spread out. Wyatt and Rucker moved to flank the group on either side, while the third guard (an Indian man whose dour look had not disappeared once we started on the trip like Rucker’s had) took up a position at the rear.

As we walked through the beautiful green countryside, I was about to ask Sean to finish what he’d been saying earlier when Malcolm spoke up. “So what country are we in anyway, Holland?”

It was actually Koren of all people who corrected him. “Holland isn’t a country, dude.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Malcolm demanded. “You got your wires crossed, babe. Of course Holland’s a country. You know, the land of windmills and dikes and stuff.”

“She’s right,” Vanessa piped up then. “Holland isn’t a country, it’s a region. It’s part of the Netherlands.”

“It’s like California,” Koren explained. “It’s not a country, it’s part of a country. They just tend to use the name interchangeably because Holland is where almost everything anyone who goes to the Netherlands wants to see is. Like Amsterdam. Holland is the famous area, so some people use the term Netherlands and Holland interchangeably. But it’s kind of insulting to the people that live there. Like, you know how you’re from Iowa? How would you feel if someone came there and called it New York?”

Blinking at that, I leaned closer to Sean and whispered under my breath, “Did Koren just explain why something was insulting to someone else without any prompting or cue cards or anything?”

“I know,” Sean replied in a dull, stunned voice. “Now I’m really scared.”

“Right,” Malcolm shrugged. “Holland, Netherlands, whatever. Point is, are we there? Better question, exactly how far away from Amsterdam are we? You know, just in case we get some free time.”

It was Vanessa’s turn to answer. “We’re outside ‘s-Hertogenbosch, so Amsterdam is about ninety kilometers….” She turned in a slow circle before pointing. “That way. North.”

“Okay, now you’re just making stuff up.” That was one of the other students, a girl I didn’t recognize. “How could you possibly know which way is north from here already without doing anything?”

Vanessa just blinked at her once before answering. “Because you can see the cathedral from here. It’s on the south side of the city, which means we’re south of the city. Which means north is that way.”

By that point, we had apparently reached the area that Professor Ross wanted to show us, because she stopped walking and gestured for us to come closer and circle around. “This,” she spoke in a hushed voice. “Is the spot where Hieronymus Bosch encountered the creature whose death led to the creation of the Crossroads Heretics.”

I looked. In the middle of this small grove, there was a single white tree. On that single tree, a rope had been tied. The rope was in the shape of a noose. It hung there rather ominously.

“The creature,” Professor Ross continued, “a hangman demon of sorts, attempted to kill Bosch using the very same noose that you see before you. Fortunately, Bosch managed, through sheer luck, to kill his attacker. When Hieronymus put his knife in the monster’s neck, its blood sprayed him in the face. Blood which happened to be one of very few things which is capable of eliminating the memory fog ability that all Strangers possess. Thus, Bosch was literally baptized in blood to his new calling. Later, he took that creature’s blood and mixed it into his paints. Every painting of Hieronymus Bosch that exists today possesses a bit of this hangman demon’s blood.

“Before long, Bosch found that he could see all manner of creatures, and remember their existence in ways that others could not. Eventually he met another man, an early Heretic, who told him of what now was, and that there were very, very few of them. This man, whose name has been lost through our stories, taught Hieronymus how to use his new abilities, how to kill to protect himself and others.”

“So what’s the light in the lighthouse, then?” Travis Colby demanded. “Cuz I don’t remember getting any blood on me or anything. Just that blinding light.”

Professor Ross smiled. “Yes, Hieronymus was a brilliant man even before his encounter and awakening. Afterward, he realized that even this genius was not enough. Indeed, for what he had planned, he needed to be even more intelligent. So he sought out and killed not just the warrior Strangers, the ones who did the most damage and looked most ferocious, but the cunning ones. Any Stranger whose abilities might grant him greater intelligence or understanding was a target. Hieronymus hunted them down to give humanity an opportunity. You see, his mentor had taught him that only a few humans could become Heretics at a time. But Hieronymus felt that, for humanity to have a chance of survival, there must be a way to create more, many more.

“Eventually, he learned that the answer to his question was within the very same blood that he had been putting into his paintings. The blood granted him knowledge, because this creature, this hangman demon was of a race which shared their memories through blood. From father to son, they bleed on one another in order to teach, spreading their memories through their people. This is what erased the Stranger memory effect. More than that, it’s also what allowed Hieronymus to gain the powers of other Strangers. The power of the blood overwrote his own genetics, allowing his body to ‘learn’ some of the powers wielded by each of inhuman enemies that he subsequently killed.”

Several hands went up, but the woman went on, anticipating our questions. “Through his acquired genius, Bosch was able to create a device which he then plugged the head of the long-deceased hangman demon into. That device does the same thing as the creature’s blood. It takes the power of the creature’s memories and broadcasts them in the form of light. All who see that light are granted the same gift, which manifests itself as a memory experienced by one of their ancestors who has had an encounter with a Stranger.”

“You mean the thing in the lighthouse that gives off that light is… a monster’s head?” one of the other girls demanded, looking a bit ill.

“What about Eden’s Garden?” That particular question came from Sands. “How do they make new Heretics if they don’t have the skull light?”

Professor Ross started to answer, before realizing that Sands wasn’t talking to her. Her attention was directed toward Avalon. The other girl’s connection to the Garden had become fairly common knowledge, considering she wasn’t doing much to hide it. Still, I could feel the tension in the air as soon as it was brought up.

My roommate paused, turning her head fractionally toward the teacher for a moment before answering. “The founders of the Garden…” she stopped as though considering her words. “… took the paintings that Bosch left in Crossroads which used to tell this story. They extracted the blood from the paint and used it to seed a tree in the middle of what became the Garden. From that point on, the fruit borne by that tree gained the same ability as the skull light created by Bosch.”

“You mean they stole the paintings that our founder left as part of our heritage and desecrated them to make their own offshoot branch,” Zeke, the boy who had been so annoyed at me for bringing Herbie along during the first hunt, spoke up in a nasty voice.

“No wonder they’ve always hated each other,” Columbus murmured quietly from nearby.

I thought there might be an argument for a second, but Avalon just shrugged one shoulder and looked away as though it wasn’t worth debating.

“Come then,” Professor Ross spoke briskly, interrupting the mood that had begun to settle over the group. “We have much to see and too little time to see it in. Next, we’ll visit the area where Hieronymus and his mentor trained and lived while he was still learning the truth of what he had become.”

I started to follow along with the others, but something, a sensation that I couldn’t explain, made me stop and turn around to look at that tree again. My eyes found the rope that hung there, centering on the noose. How long had it been there? How was it still in one piece, and why had no one moved it?

“Chambers,” Avalon interrupted my thoughts. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m… not sure,” I admitted even as a little shiver ran through me. “That rope, there’s something about it. It’s… I can’t explain it. Maybe nothing.”

Before the other girl could retort to that, the Indian security guard interrupted. “Is there a problem here, girls?” His voice was severe, though his eyes had softened somewhat.

We both shook our heads and moved to follow the group. Still, as we walked, I couldn’t help but look over my shoulder toward that dangling noose. The uneasy feeling that it had given me wouldn’t go away.

Somehow, I knew two things. First, there was something wrong with the story that we’d been told. Something off about it.

And second, the answer to what that something wrong happened to be was connected to that rope.

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38 comments

  1. This chapter feels off to me, there is a lot of clunky unnatural dialogue especially in the first part of the chapter. It’s interesting to learn more about the schools history but I think it could have been presented better. I do however like that you didn’t have anyone explain what the story about the treasure is and just have someone barge in and interrupt the conversation.

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    1. *shrug* Sorry you feel that way. It wasn’t written any differently than any other chapter, and the dialogue feels all right to me. Must just be one of those things.

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      1. Oh no, no problem at all. I just wasn’t sure exactly how to respond to it but I wanted to acknowledge the comment. I looked over the first part and didn’t see anything that really stood out as something I’d want to change. But to each their own, it’s just one of those personal opinion things. Don’t worry about it.

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  2. Any Stranger whose abilities might grant him greater intelligence or understanding was a target.

    Well, considering that he’s managed to multiply the number of Heretics in the world by a factor of holy crap a lot, and given humanity complete dominance of the supernatural side of things (well, as far as we’ve seen, I suppose), I guess he had the right idea. Good on Bosch for taking the smart route!

    The power of the blood overwrote his own genetics

    I’m really hoping Ross knows what she’s doing and is prepared for aghast students noticing that and asking pointed questions as to what this means for their humanity. I mean, this can’t be the first time she’s done this lecture, right? So the plan is to let the students know that their DNA sequence is no longer the one they’ve been issued, right?

    Also, hey, you never said what Bosch’s Treasure was! Let me see, throughout his time as a Heretic he acquired a lot of treasure from dungeon-crawling and bounties and suchlike. Just before he died he revealed that he’d buried it all in a single place – he’d left it in ‘One Portion’, as it were. The one who follows the trail and finds his treasure will be hailed as King of the Heretics! Ya-yo yaa-yo…

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    1. Also, I just realised, Eden’s Garden literally has Devil Fruit.

      “Hannah’s a Heretic!” “How did that happen?” “Yo-ho-ho she took a bite of Paint Pear!”

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Hmm. My immediate instinct was to guess that Seller was Bosch’s mentor from the very second Ross said that the guy’s name has been lost to history. If I’m correct, being descended from a guy who knew Bosch would be a possible reason that noose gave Flick weird vibes. That said, I don’t think I’m right. Seller being Bosch’s teacher just seems incorrect to me. I guess we’ll find out.

    Anyway, holy shit is that whole story fucking sinister. I mean, DAMN. Crossroads and Garden Heretics are the result of imbuing people with a Stranger’s mind (soul?) and blood? They’re even more Alternative from human than human vampires are! Which, to be honest, is really cool.

    And it does neatly explain the difference in the Crossroads and Garden Heretical Senses. Crossroads Heretics get a mental alert because they’re powers come from the demon’s mind, while Garden Heretics get a physical reaction because their powers come from the demon’s blood. Makes sense.

    Also, if this really is what happened… why the hell would any Heretic that knows this not think human-Stranger interbreeding is possible? They modify their own genetics by taking on Stranger attributes through the use of an ability that literally comes from a Stranger… and yet don’t think that can happen naturally? I assume the pre-Heretical Edge Heretics all got their powers from accidents involving other hangman demons or beings similar to them (I bet Gaia and Ruthers have the Hunger rather than the Screaming Alert).

    I was about to say a bunch of stuff on the moral standing of Crossroads, but that might be a bit hasty, so I’m going to sit on those thoughts for awhile.

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    1. Oh, one more thing:

      “You mean they stole the paintings that our founder left as part of our heritage and desecrated them to make his own offshoot branch,”

      Zeke starts with “they” and then transitions to “he.” Was it one guy or a group? .

      Also, I had one other theory, where maybe Bosch is another of Seller’s descendents (which would make him another of Flick’s ancestors, which again would explain her weird feeling about the noose). And again, I’m pretty sure I’m wrong, but I wanted to throw it out there on the off chance that I turn out to be right.

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    2. Anyway, holy shit is that whole story fucking sinister. I mean, DAMN. Crossroads and Garden Heretics are the result of imbuing people with a Stranger’s mind (soul?) and blood? They’re even more Alternative from human than human vampires are! Which, to be honest, is really cool.

      Indeed. And that’s a line of thought that will be explored, I assure you. 😉

      And it does neatly explain the difference in the Crossroads and Garden Heretical Senses. Crossroads Heretics get a mental alert because they’re powers come from the demon’s mind, while Garden Heretics get a physical reaction because their powers come from the demon’s blood. Makes sense.

      Good catch.

      Also, if this really is what happened… why the hell would any Heretic that knows this not think human-Stranger interbreeding is possible? They modify their own genetics by taking on Stranger attributes through the use of an ability that literally comes from a Stranger… and yet don’t think that can happen naturally?

      You may be surprised how powerful willful denial can be even when confronted with facts.

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  4. The paranoid part of me wants to assume the entire story of his luckily surviving an attack and killing his attacker is false.

    What kind of person, after a surprise attempt on their life, decides to drain the blood from the body of their killer, decapitate them, and save the pieces?

    This would make a lot more sense as a premeditated murder.

    Also I wonder why the garden had to steal the paintings for blood, when they could have hunted down another hangman demon. Are there things really so rare and/or powerful that stealing from a whole faction of heretics was the safer or easier option?

    Flick’s right, this story stinks.

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    1. What kind of person, after a surprise attempt on their life, decides to drain the blood from the body of their killer, decapitate them, and save the pieces?

      You have a point.

      Also I wonder why the garden had to steal the paintings for blood, when they could have hunted down another hangman demon. Are there things really so rare and/or powerful that stealing from a whole faction of heretics was the safer or easier option?

      It’s almost like there was a personal reason behind it.

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  5. Hmm yeah something is definitely up. I have trouble believing that any Stranger that smart (assuming it’s knowledge gaining makes it smarter) could get killed by a random lucky human. Not to mention that the hangman’s noose seems pointless, a Stranger wouldn’t need to disguise their murders considering their passive memory blocking effect.

    I’m not jumping to assume that Bosch was secretly evil, but I’m guessing he was more of a well intentioned extremist type than the genius and noble person they seem to be portraying him as, And I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the Stranger he killed was willingly helping him turn into a heretic until Bosch turned on him. Just because that would be a nice surprise to all the racist (species-ist?) members of the Crossroads.

    This makes me wonder how many heretic schools there are. If you can only make one with one of these Stranger corpses, then they must be pretty rare.

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    1. This makes me wonder how many heretic schools there are. If you can only make one with one of these Stranger corpses, then they must be pretty rare.

      In the whole North America/Europe area there’s only Crossroads and Eden’s Garden, aside from a few minor smaller groups that consist of Heretics that don’t have the ability to make more like those two schools do, and are more centered around the pre-Bosch way of doing things.

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  6. “Regardless of their ages, all of them wore serious faces to the point of looking downright dour. Apparently the last couple incidents had been bad enough that we were being sent with escorts.”
    Me: Honestly, I can not blame them for those precautions.

    ““Right,” Malcolm shrugged. “Holland, Netherlands, whatever. Point is, are we there? Better question, exactly how far away from Amsterdam are we? You know, just in case we get some free time.””
    Me: …Uh huh. Keep your mind on pertinent matters, Malcolm.

    ““Okay, now you’re just making stuff up.” That was one of the other students, a girl I didn’t recognize. “How could you possibly know which way is north from here already without doing anything?”

    Vanessa just blinked at her once before answering. “Because you can see the cathedral from here. It’s on the south side of the city, which means we’re south of the city. Which means north is that way.””
    Me: Logic is a very powerful magic isn’t it? Heh.

    “Professor Ross smiled. “Yes, Hieronymus was a brilliant man even before his encounter and awakening. Afterward, he realized that even this genius was not enough. Indeed, for what he had planned, he needed to be even more intelligent. So he sought out and killed not just the warrior Strangers, the ones who did the most damage and looked most ferocious, but the cunning ones. Any Stranger whose abilities might grant him greater intelligence or understanding was a target. Hieronymus hunted them down to give humanity an opportunity. You see, his mentor had taught him that only a few humans could become Heretics at a time. But Hieronymus felt that, for humanity to have a chance of survival, there must be a way to create more, many more.”
    Me: Hm. Bosch seems to have some traits of the classic RPG-style murderhobo. Given what we know now, I wonder how many Strangers were killed unnecessarily.

    “Several hands went up, but the woman went on, anticipating our questions. “Through his acquired genius, Bosch was able to create a device which he then plugged the head of the long-deceased hangman demon into. That device does the same thing as the creature’s blood. It takes the power of the creature’s memories and broadcasts them in the form of light. All who see that light are granted the same gift, which manifests itself as a memory experienced by one of their ancestors who has had an encounter with a Stranger.””
    Me: That’s…interesting. Given that we were previously told the Edge has limits, I’m guessing the demon’s head can only channel so much power/memory projection at one time.

    “Somehow, I knew two things. First, there was something wrong with the story that we’d been told. Something off about it.

    And second, the answer to what that something wrong happened to be was connected to that rope.”
    Me: Questions indeed, Flick. Like, “Was the demon really a demon at all?”

    A very interesting update.

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    1. Me: Honestly, I can not blame them for those precautions.

      I know, right?

      Hm. Bosch seems to have some traits of the classic RPG-style murderhobo. Given what we know now, I wonder how many Strangers were killed unnecessarily.

      Good question.

      Me: That’s…interesting. Given that we were previously told the Edge has limits, I’m guessing the demon’s head can only channel so much power/memory projection at one time.

      Indeed.

      Me: Questions indeed, Flick. Like, “Was the demon really a demon at all?”

      That’s a big one.

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    1. You’d think they’d be less abrasive about it after a couple of generations.

      I really wish things worked that way… Unfortunately, they don’t really even now, let alone in situations where some of the original offended people are still around and active even generations later.

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  7. Once he stated his late name I started to hear Reid’s lines in Rucks’ voice, the narrator in Bastion.
    I know the name is off but it was close enough.

    Sands’s reaction was understandable.

    Shouldn’t this just be “Sands'”, since her name ends with an ‘s’ and all?

    You know, I didn’t think about it before with the WTLPs but it was stated back in 2-05 that you can’t activate a magic item that was charged with someone’s mana. Is that only for that one spell or spells like it? I mean, the weapons wouldn’t work if that was the case for everything so I’m guessing that caveat is only for single use ‘spells’ placed on objects.

    and remembering as many of them as possible will help end up helping you eventually.

    remove excess “help”.

    Plugging A Demon’s Head Into A Machine That Makes It Cast Light Which Grants Anyone Who Sees It Superpowers After They See A Memory Of Their Ancestors. We Take Star Trek Jargon To The Next Level

    There wasn’t anywhere near technobabble. This was straight up understandable. Now the technology is a bit out there, yeah, but not the way you describe it.
    Also, you have way too much fun with these tags? Are you ever going to reuse some of these?

    Yeah The Name Of Bosch’s Mentor Has Been Lost. That’s Probably Not Relevant And Won’t Ever Be Important Again

    Yep. Totally unimportant. Got no guess on to who it might have been though.

    You missed another Tag though;

    The Noose Is Totally Unimportant And Will Not Be Seen Again

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shouldn’t this just be “Sands’”, since her name ends with an ‘s’ and all?

      Gramatically it works either way. There’s no real hard rule between Sands’ or Sands’s. But you’re supposed to be consistent, and I’ve used the other way before so I should probably make it Sands’ just to keep going the same way.

      You know, I didn’t think about it before with the WTLPs but it was stated back in 2-05 that you can’t activate a magic item that was charged with someone’s mana. Is that only for that one spell or spells like it? I mean, the weapons wouldn’t work if that was the case for everything so I’m guessing that caveat is only for single use ‘spells’ placed on objects.

      There’s specific advanced magic that is meant to allow other people to activate it as long as they have magic too. Flick and the others are learning extremely basic magic and thus aren’t up to that level.

      remove excess “help”.

      Whoops, thanks.

      There wasn’t anywhere near technobabble. This was straight up understandable. Now the technology is a bit out there, yeah, but not the way you describe it.

      Fair enough, lol.

      Also, you have way too much fun with these tags? Are you ever going to reuse some of these?

      Mmmmmaaaaaaybe if one becomes relevant again. 😉

      Like

  8. Damn i have so many different thoughts about this chapter. First and for most, Botsch sounds like a seriously fucked up serial killer. I theorize that he met this mysterious mentor first, Seller most likely< learned about the power of a Heretic and sought it out puposely for himself. Then decided to create his own army for more then likely less then honorable reasons. Eden's guarden could have been created for the soul purpose of counter acting Botsch. Seccondly, and i know this is really unfair, but i am starting to get irritated with Felicity. She knows that people are actually being murdered unjustly and she knows that a good number of the "monsters" her teachers gush over killing are perfectly innocent, and she doesn't seem to care at all. I get that she has her own shit to deal with, and she isn't a superhero pledging to protect the innocent or anything. But you would think she wouldn't need magical hunches to tell her something was seriously messed up about the "brillant" founder! Lastly , see Shiori everyone is sort of a Stranger, so you aren't any more evil then everyone else!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, don’t worry about Felicity. I just don’t want to rush TOO fast into her objections about what’s going on and what she’s learning. Remember, yes, she’s met a couple Strangers that she likes. But she also met a couple that she most decidedly doesn’t. She’s putting it together, and she’s obviously to the point that she knows they’re not all evil. But going beyond that to knowing for a fact that the story she’s being told isn’t the truth could conceivably be seen as a bit of a leap, which I want to avoid. After all, it’s conceivable that the story is mostly the truth with some embellishments, or it may be mostly a lie. She needs to investigate before she starts kneejerk judging too much.

      Basically, wait until you see how she actually acts toward a Stranger that she doesn’t know the morality of right away, next time they have an actual hunt. It’s not that she doesn’t care, it’s that the full scope of the situation hasn’t come to her. Sometimes it takes actually seeing or experiencing something for that kind of thing to sink in. 🙂

      She’ll have her ‘oh god’ moment, I promise.

      Like

      1. “gulp” ummm suddenly i am hearing maniacal laughter in my head. Don’t suppose you own a cat? Please don’t kill my fictional crush, who despite being imaginary still doesn’t know i exist.

        Like

      2. Basically, wait until you see how she actually acts toward a Stranger that she doesn’t know the morality of right away, next time they have an actual hunt. It’s not that she doesn’t care, it’s that the full scope of the situation hasn’t come to her. Sometimes it takes actually seeing or experiencing something for that kind of thing to sink in.

        Oooh I can’t wait for the next hunt. The last hunt arc was my favorite arc, I actually re-read it all the time. You do actions scenes really well.

        Like

  9. “Sir, no sir,” Sean replied with the air of a military cadet. “I am fairly confident that you’re providing the majority the humor in this particular moment, and I wouldn’t dream of stealing your thunder, sir.”

    Sean: professional shitlord.

    Well, that was an excellent chapter. The explanation as to how Heretics can be created is simultaneously interesting and highly disturbing, because there’s totally no way that can backfire, right? I mean, what are the odds that there’s a type of magic out there that’s based on blood and can be used as basically bloodbending on steroids, except targeted against all people whose blood shares a particular characteristic? That would be totally ridiculous… right?

    Please tell me it’s right. PLEASE CERULEAN! FOR THE LOVE OF HERBIE!

    Anyway, paranoid ramblings aside, Flick is definitely taking some steps to earning her #staywoke t-shirt. Because it’s really kind of creepy that the Crossroads heretics have a shrine to where their founder killed one particular Stanger. It’s even creepier that the noose is *still there*.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I mean, what are the odds that there’s a type of magic out there that’s based on blood and can be used as basically bloodbending on steroids, except targeted against all people whose blood shares a particular characteristic? That would be totally ridiculous… right?

      Please tell me it’s right. PLEASE CERULEAN! FOR THE LOVE OF HERBIE!

      Let’s see, given what we know about the history of vampires … you are absolutely correct.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So, I looked up Bosch on Wikipedia. And I have to say, dang but this version of him is not a stretch at all. Mysterious guy with a tendency to paint fantastic landscapes and strange monsters? Nooooo, nothing about that implies a secret and possibly morally dubious monster hunter. Nope.

    And the noose reminding me of Nicodemus Archleone doesn’t help at all.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I can’t help but notice that the whole “absorb bits of what you kill” deal Heretics have going is explicitly called out as being a result of the specific Stranger used to turn them into Heretics, and that that particular type is supposed to be rare. Do Seller/Gaia or other pre-Bosch Heretics not have that ability (or if they got it after becoming a Heretic, how did they survive the reciprocity of hostile Strangers being aware of them?), or is there something else going on?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I assume they’ve hopped into the lighthouse/ate a fruit since then. I mean they’ve had access to them for hundreds of years now, I can’t imagine them not taking advantage.

      Also I believe Seller mentions that he and the people of Eden’s Garden feel a hunger, which does suggest that he’s consumed one just like them.

      Liked by 1 person

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