Basic Training 7-04

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“Could I ask you a few questions, Pro—errr, umm, Nevada?”

It was a couple hours later. After our cross-country field trip (and how amazing would it be if every school could just walk through a door and end up on whole new continent for an hourly field trip like it was nothing?), we’d gone on through Introduction to Heretical Magic and Stranger Truths 101. Now that class was over, but I’d told the others to go on to lunch without me while I talked to the teacher.

Nevada, looking as bubbly as ever, perked up even more. “A question? Oooh, I do love answering questions!” She stood from the desk, looking like she could barely restrain the urge to clap. Instead, the woman (who still looked like she was barely older than me), asked, “What can I do for you, Flick?”

I’d spent most of the class hour rehearsing what I wanted to ask her and in what order. “Professor Ross took us to ‘s-Hertogenbosch.” I was careful to pronounce the name of the city the way the teacher had.

Nevada’s thousand watt smile brightened even further at that. “Oh! I bet that was fun and interesting. I remember my first time there. Did you get a chance to have one of the Bossche bollen?” When I shook my head, she gasped. “No? Aww, you have to go back and get one. They’re these chocolate pastry balls with whipped cream inside. Seriously, Flick, they’re almost as big as a baseball. You’ve gotta try them.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I promised before pressing on. “But why do they leave that rope just sitting there? I mean, why do they leave the hangman demon’s rope hanging from that tree like that? It seems kind of morbid, doesn’t it?” I had other questions, but the feeling that rope had given me made it the first on my mind. And I wanted to work my way up to the others after seeing how she reacted to this.

Nevada paused, a slight flinch marring that perfectly cheerful expression for a split second before she let out a long breath. “You wanna know why that rope is still there, huh? Well, because it’s cursed.”

“Cursed?” I echoed, frowning in spite of myself. “What do you mean, cursed? Like an enchantment?”

She cocked her head to the side a bit, considering. “A little, only this one’s permanent. You see—okay, we don’t have time for a full lesson, so I’ll give you the… what do bystanders call it, Clifford’s Notes?”

“Cliff’s notes,” I replied. “Close enough. Thank you, Pro—Nevada, I just really need to know.”

“Aww, darn.” Nevada shook her head slowly. “I thought it was Clifford’s notes and I liked picturing that big red dog telling short versions of all these books.” She gave a brief wistful sigh before shaking it off as she continued. “Okay, so here’s the short truth. The hangman demon is a sub-group of what we call Reapers. You know, as in the Grim? Reapers are these demons that are attracted to death. Like, super-attracted, they basically feed off of death. Most people think they actually absorb part of the dead person’s… soul or essence or whatever. They take in their memories, their past, their whole lives and add all those thoughts to their own collection. They’re like hoarders who collect people’s memories.”

I couldn’t help the slight shudder that came. “So what’s the difference between them and Hangmen?”

Nevada hesitated, drumming her fingers a little before she finally answered me. “The difference is that Reapers are willing to wait. They go where death happens to be and feeding when opportunity presents itself. Hangmen actually make those opportunities happen. See, the way the story goes, it started in Britain back in the fifth century, when the Germanic tribes introduced hanging to them. There was a public execution, and a man tried to stop it from happening. He was killed on the spot, and his death attracted a Reaper, who was feeding off of his, you know, memories while the actual execution happened. According to the story, the combination of seeing bystanders execute a healthy human being and absorbing the already dead man’s memories of, you know, how unjust and wrong that was actually changed the Reaper. It made him understand that he didn’t have to wait for death to happen.

“So the demon took the rope of the man who had been executed and used it to murder the executioner and three others. For the first time, the reaper made his own food. He became the first Hangman. And from there, he made more of it. He went from place to place recreating what had led to his change. Whether it was a personal choice or one magically enforced because of the exact situation that led to his change from Reaper to Hangman, well, people still debate that. But what we know is that he killed a lot of people, and every time he killed someone, that rope of his took in some of the… energy of their deaths, the same way the Hangman himself did. With every death, the rope grew more powerful. And as the Reaper introduced more of his own to these changes and more became Hangmen, they too took the ropes of the execution that they first witnessed and used them as their preferred tools of death.”

I swallowed hard in spite of myself. “Are other Strangers like that? Do they change because of things that humanity does, or concepts that humans introduce them to? Is that a common thing?”

“More common than you’d think,” Nevada admitted before sighing. “Anyway, to the point of your question, a Hangman’s rope is cursed. Anyone who takes it is infused with a completely irresistible urge to kill, to murder everyone they can in order to give the rope more power. No one can resist it.”

I almost exploded at that, “So why the hell is it just sitting out in the middle of nowhere tied to a tree?!”

Rather than chastise me for the outburst, Nevada replied simply, “Because we can’t move it, Flick. Like I said, anyone who takes it becomes a vicious murderer. That includes any method of transportation. Any attempt to move it makes the rope consider that person its new owner, and the urge to kill overwhelms them. Do you want someone like the Headmistress to risk moving it? As powerful as she is, if she was taken over by the rope’s murderous energy, how many of us would it take to stop her? How many of her own students would she kill to appease its hunger? It’s not worth the risk. So Bosch and the old Heretics did the best they could. They erected a magical barrier around the whole area that keeps Bystanders from noticing the rope, and prevents them from building up the land. You might’ve noticed that that whole area is still undeveloped. That’s because of the magic that makes them ignore it. Beyond that, there are the same enchantments around the rope itself that are around the Pathmaker building. So anyone approaching it anyway, like a student who can see through the first spell, or a Heretic that completely loses their mind, shouldn’t make it more than a few steps toward it. And if they do, there are at least two more lines of magic protecting the rope that I won’t detail to you right now.

“No one can move the rope without being seen as its new master and thus end up a murderous psychopath. So they did the best they could by making sure that no one could get close enough to take it.”

I almost asked her about the feeling I’d had, the sensation that had come over me when I looked at the rope back in that grove. But no one else had said anything about it. Avalon had even said that she hadn’t felt anything when she looked at it. Which meant that whatever the feeling was, it wasn’t normal.

“What about Stranger breeding?” I forced myself to change the subject, even as the very thought of the rope made me want to continue talking about it, almost like a compulsion. It took effort to push on to a different subject. “One time Sands said that one of the reasons people hate Eden’s Garden here is that they supposedly experiment in Stranger-Heretic breeding experiments. Why would you need to experiment? I mean, we’re practically Strangers ourselves, aren’t we? The Edge changes our genetics so that we can see Strangers, so that we can absorb their powers, so we can… do everything we do. Why wouldn’t we be able to procreate with certain Strangers anyway, at that point?”

Nevada winced once more, her bubbly expression dampened a bit. “Careful, Flick. Some people are really sensitive about that line of thought. They say that we use the demon magic, but we’re not overtaken by it. The idea that we’re so far not human that a Stranger could breed with us is a… a very harsh topic. There’s dangerous people on both sides of that debate. But the gist of the argument isn’t that breeding a Stranger and a Heretic is impossible, it’s that the offspring won’t be viable. The problem isn’t making an actual genetic match, it’s that, according to one side, any offspring will die shortly after being born. The experiments that Eden’s Garden gets into are to make those offspring live after birth.”

I thought about Ammon, about how dangerous he was, and couldn’t help the little shiver that came. But before I could say anything else, there was a short knock at the door and Professor Carfried poked his head in. “Hey, I was wondering if you had a chance to—oooh, sorry, am I interrupting something?”

Realizing that any other questions I had would have to wait, I shook my head. “No, sir. I should probably get to lunch anyway.” To Nevada, I managed a weak smile. “Thanks, that’s… helpful.”

“Of course, Flick,” she replied. “Let me know if you have any other questions, okay?”

Nodding slowly, I made my way past Professor Carfried and out the door. I had a couple of answers now, though not nearly enough to really do anything with. And I still had no idea why the rope had given me the feeling it had when nobody else had experienced it. Questions were still piling up.

And if I wanted to start really answering them, I needed to get busy.

******

Later that same night, I was making the first step of that effort by standing outside of the twins’ room about an hour before the three of us were supposed to report to track training (I’d missed the last one for my birthday visit). Forcing my nerves down, I raised a hand to knock on the door.

Scout was the one who opened the door. Her eyes flicked up to me and then the girl hesitated before nodding once. She stepped back out of the way a bit, gesturing for me to come into their room.

“Who is–” Sands started to ask before falling silent as I stepped into the room. She was sitting on her bed, looking at a box that was in her lap. When she saw me, the girl closed the lid of the box, setting it aside on the nearby dresser. “Oh, uhh, hi, Flick.” Her voice betrayed her own confused feelings.

“Hi,” I replied, pausing slightly before looking toward her sister. “Scout, umm, could I have a minute?” From my pocket, I produced my favorite little rock. “Herbie can keep you company.”

The quiet girl nodded quickly and shot her sister a brief glance before taking the little guy out of my hand as she stepped out to the hall. She closed the door after herself, leaving Sands and me alone in the suddenly very quiet room.

In the end, it was Sands who broke the silence. Without looking up, she asked, “Are you mad at me?”

The question made me blink. “Wha—mad? Why would—I was going to ask you the same thing.”

That actually made the girl look toward me. Her face was pensive. “I thought you’d be mad because you thought I didn’t care about saving your mother, that my—that I didn’t want to help.”

I was quiet for a moment, thinking that through before stepping over to sit down on the bed beside her. “I guess part of me did hope that you’d just… get over this reaction. But that’s not very fair, is it?”

Emotion twisted the girl’s face before she turned away again, shoulders hunching up. “They’re supposed to be monsters. Vicious, evil, irredeemable monsters. And we’re supposed to be heroes.”

Before I could say anything, she looked back to me. There were tears in her eyes. “You’re asking me to throw away everything I’ve been taught since I was born. You’re asking me to change… to change everything. I’ve been waiting for this year my whole life, Flick. Do you have any idea how many times I had to sit and watch everybody else get to learn this stuff? I grew up here, on this island, with these people. I watched class after class go through, all of them going on to do… amazing things. They went on quests, they saved people, they protected everyone. I just wanted that. I just wanted to be a hero.”

“That’s what I’m asking you to be, Sands.” My voice was soft as I met the girl’s gaze. “Because, as far as I know, being a hero isn’t about killing something because someone tells you it’s bad. It’s about doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is or how many people tell not to. It’s about saving someone, protecting someone, even if everyone you know says it’s wrong, because you know it’s right.”

Her gaze flickered a little, and I went on. “I’m not trying to tell you that every Stranger is good, or that everything you know is wrong. I’m telling you that the vampire I met was not evil. I’m telling you that if it wasn’t for her, I’d be dead, or worse. Without her, my father would be dead, or in prison. Without her, an awful lot of innocent people would have been killed by the deputies that Ammon took control of. She saved me, she saved my father, she saved Rose, and she saved all those people.

“I’m asking you to believe that evil is something we do, not something we are. If someone is evil just because they exist, then what’s the point? How can you judge someone or something that doesn’t have a choice? That’s not evil. That’s just… programming. Real evil requires having a choice. And even if ninety-five percent of them choose evil, that means there are five percent who don’t. Five percent that might be able to help. Five percent who wouldn’t hurt an innocent, who are innocent. Five percent for whom we are the monsters, Sands. Not heroes, not champions, monsters. We are the creatures under the bed that they scare their children with. Children who grow up hating us, who might not have if we gave them a chance. If we could find those five percent, help them, grow with them… well then it might actually turn into more than five percent.

“But for now, for now we’re killing all of them that we find. We are killing them, Sands. No trial, no jury, no chance to defend themselves. And that’s not heroic. That’s murder. And it’s wrong.”

Reaching out then, I took the girl’s limp hand and squeezed it with both of mine. “Listen. I want you to think about this. A human is altered by a Stranger’s blood and becomes a powerful being who can live for a very long time and gains strength by fighting others. Think about that and then tell me if I’m talking about vampires or heretics, Sands. Because I don’t see that much of a difference.

“What I want… is for you to believe that it’s possible for a Stranger to make a choice. Call it mutation, call it random, call it whatever you want. I just want you to… believe that the girl who saved my life and helped me save my father isn’t evil. Don’t look at what she is, look at what she does, what she did.

“I’m not asking you not to be a hero, Sands. I’m asking you to be a real one. Make the hard choice.”

My hands squeezed both of hers. “I need your help, Sands. I need my team. I refuse to be a victim. I will not just sit around and cry for a year until that son of a bitch comes after me again. I will train. I will work my ass off. I will be ready. Most of all, I will save my mother. But if I don’t have you guys… I… I won’t make it. A year isn’t enough time. I need you. Please. If I’m going to have any chance, I need help. I can’t do it by myself.”

For the first time, Sands actually returned the squeeze against my hands. She took a breath and let it out before looking up. I could still see the doubt in her eyes, but she gave a tiny little nod. “I’ll try. I’ll… think about what you said, I promise. All of it. I still think they’re mostly evil, but maybe there’s…” She trailed off before shrugging. “I dunno. But I’ll help you save your mom. Of course I will. We’re teammates. As long as you want to be, I… I’ll be there. I’ll help.”

Letting out the breath that I hadn’t known I was holding, I managed a weak smile. “Oh, good. Because you’re probably not going to like the first thing we need to do.”

“Less than I like everything else you’ve said?” Sands managed an even weaker smile to meet mine. “I find that pretty hard to believe.”

I gave a weak shrug at that. “Well, that depends on how you feel about sneaking around your own father.

“Because I’m pretty sure he’s the one who took my mother’s weapons.”

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37 comments

  1. Thanks for reading, guys and girls! I want to take a second and thank everyone who has voted and reviewed on Web Fiction Guide, and those who remember to vote on Top Web Fiction every week to keep our numbers up as much as possible. You’re all amazing and so wonderful to help spread the story and keep it in people’s minds. It really is an enormous help, and is absolutely appreciated in every way. Thank you all.

    On the donations front, we had one more 2 dollar subscription last month, which brings us up to 36 dollars per month. Which lowers the extra chapter requirement just a teensy bit more from $66.50 to $66, of which we are currently still at 7 dollars for the next chapter.

    So thank you everyone, and I hope you enjoy this update. More to come soon!
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    1. I’m a little confused by this still, we get an extra chapter every time that counter gets to $66 right? But does the counter reset every week or not.

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      1. Nope, it doesn’t reset until it reaches 66. After it reaches 66, the next Wednesday after it does gets an extra chapter. Then it resets. I don’t want people to feel like they’re wasting their donation if it doesn’t reach 66 within a week.

        Edit: More to the point, it doesn’t ‘reset to zero’ so much as take 66 dollars off the current total. So if, say, it was at 100 when the bonus chapter comes out, I take 66 off that and you’re at 34 dollars toward the next bonus.

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      2. Nope, it doesn’t reset until it reaches 66. After it reaches 66, the next Wednesday after it does gets an extra chapter. Then it resets. I don’t want people to feel like they’re wasting their donation if it doesn’t reach 66 within a week.

        Oh that makes sense. Yeah I actually was a little off put by that, I’ve got it set up to donate on Patreon but I was actually putting off donating any money through Paypal until it looked like we were near a new bonus chapter.

        Now that that’s cleared up I’ll probably donate $15 or so (Canadian, not sure how much that’ll be in US dollars with the current horrible exchange rate…) in a day or two, as soon as I actually set up a Paypal account.

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      3. Aww, sorry for the confusion! Yeah, I wouldn’t do that to people. I want every donation to actually matter, so it won’t reset until we get the bonus. I’ll add in a bit about that to the explanation on the page.

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  2. I’m willing to bet Flick practiced that speech in front of a mirror before she performed it.

    Or maybe she’s just an infinitely better improv speaker than I am. 🙂

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  3. Well, I ain’t got a whole lot to say about this chapter.

    The Heretics’ response to the Hangman’s rope sounds vaguely SCP-ish. Although I’m not entirely sure why they haven’t just destroyed it – you can do that without moving it anywhere, or touching it, or doing anything that could be construed as ‘taking’ it. (For instance, loads and loads of fire.) I’m assuming it’s not that simple, though. Or maybe that’s exactly what they do do to every other Hangman’s rope they come across, and they’re just saving this one for the historical value. That would also explain why they didn’t just remodel the landscape so that the Hangman’s rope is, for example, under a small hill.

    I wonder if other Hangmen used other tools? (I mean, they wouldn’t be called Hangmen then, I guess…) But yeah, amusing tags notwithstanding, did any Reapers come to possess other objects, be they tools of execution or murder weapons or suchlike? Or were they obliged to use only hangman’s ropes because magic?

    In other news, Sands is still on board! Flick gets to practice her heroic speeches again! (Flickerbusters?) Scout is also there! Nevada is a super-helpful authority figure! (Gosh, there’s a few of those around! Although I guess they might not feel so kindly disposed towards our crew when Flick’s plan to seduce the Masons into snooping around/stealing from their dad inevitably goes horribly wrong, possibly due to one of the antagonistic forces lurking somewhere at Crossroads.)

    Looking forward to more classes!

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    1. wonder if other Hangmen used other tools? (I mean, they wouldn’t be called Hangmen then, I guess…) But yeah, amusing tags notwithstanding, did any Reapers come to possess other objects, be they tools of execution or murder weapons or suchlike? Or were they obliged to use only hangman’s ropes because magic?

      Rope is most common, hence their name, but there’s a few other variations based on different execution methods. Particularly if the person executed was very infamous or important. That helps the magic empower the execution weapon.

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      1. So there is probably guillotines? And whatever things they used in witch trials? Firing squads? Also that tag about the electric chairs, is that a reference to something?

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      2. Nah, it wasn’t a reference to anything even though it might have seemed like it. Just a joke about how loud dragging a heavy electric chair around would be.

        There are definitely hangmen using things like the rifles from firing squads. One in particular would be a hangman who is using a rifle from the squad that killed Mussolini.

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    2. Although I’m not entirely sure why they haven’t just destroyed it – you can do that without moving it anywhere, or touching it, or doing anything that could be construed as ‘taking’ it. (For instance, loads and loads of fire.) I’m assuming it’s not that simple, though.

      I’m having difficulty thinking of destruction methods that definitely do not move the target. This isn’t the kind of thing you take chances with, and I suspect the rope will take absolutely any excuse to gain a new owner.

      I really hope none of these guys were around when Rasputin died.

      If Rasputin was a Bystander, I’ll be astounded.

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      1. Lots and lots of fire – I don’t mean explosives, but literally a great big bonfire built around the rope, which is then set off (at a safe distance) by a relatively weak Heretic (or even a Bystander who’s been tricked into lighting the fuse), who is restrained by many other powerful Heretics in the time between lighting it and the fire actually catching, just in case. You could also do things with glue that would stiffen the rope, and allow it to burn without actually changing position.

        This is just off the top of my head, within 24 hours of hearing about the problem, and with an incomplete knowledge of what can be done with magic. So I’m guessing it’s actually a lot more complicated that it sounds.

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      2. Fire produces hot air. Hot air produces updrafts. Updrafts produce movement.

        Oh, and that method is rather morally dubious as well. Particularly the trickery part.

        On a vaguely related note, odds on Bosch having moved the rope?

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  4. ““More common than you’d think,” Nevada admitted before sighing. “Anyway, to the point of your question, a Hangman’s rope is cursed. Anyone who takes it is infused with a completely irresistible urge to kill, to murder everyone they can in order to give the rope more power. No one can resist it.””
    Me: Hm. I suppose that little wrinkle would stymie efforts of developing countermagic tailored to dispel that infused curse.

    “Do you want someone like the Headmistress to risk moving it? As powerful as she is, if she was taken over by the rope’s murderous energy, how many of us would it take to stop her? ”
    Me: Given Headmistress Gaia’s inferred strength, that is a rather unsettling scenario to contemplate. Still, interesting that Nevada instantly jumped to her rather than another professor or other person of note in the Heretic community.

    “Emotion twisted the girl’s face before she turned away again, shoulders hunching up. “They’re supposed to be monsters. Vicious, evil, irredeemable monsters. And we’re supposed to be heroes.””
    Me: Never a pleasant thing, facing and acknowledging the possibility that what you’ve been told all your life is not true.

    ““I’ll try. I’ll… think about what you said, I promise. All of it. I still think they’re mostly evil, but maybe there’s…” She trailed off before shrugging. “I dunno. But I’ll help you save your mom. Of course I will. We’re teammates. As long as you want to be, I… I’ll be there. I’ll help.””
    Me: Well, some progress was made at least. But it will take time and more information imo for Sands to more readily accept the situation.

    “I gave a weak shrug at that. “Well, that depends on how you feel about sneaking around your own father.

    “Because I’m pretty sure he’s the one who took my mother’s weapons.””
    Me: I’m curious as to Sands’ reaction to that particular blurb of guesswork.

    Overall, a nice update. Flick’s appeal to Sands was honest and forthright, stressing critical thinking. Looking forward to the next one.

    *looks at tags*
    What the? How the heck is Herbie, a rock, losing the Quiet Game?

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  5. I mean, we’re practically Strangers ourselves, aren’t we? The Edge changesour genetics so that we can see Strangers, so that we can absorb their powers, so we can… do everything we do. Why wouldn’t we be able to procreate with certain Strangers anyway, at that point?”

    Nevada winced once more, her bubbly expression dampened a bit. “Careful, Flick. Some people are really sensitive about that line of thought. They say that we use the demon magic, but we’re not overtaken by it. The idea that we’re so far not human that a Stranger could breed with us is a… a very harsh topic. There’s dangerous people on both sides of that debate. 

    I’m guessing that asking a question like that would get a student in a lot of trouble in a Crossroads Academy that isn’t staffed by Gaia’s people.

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    1. I’m guessing that asking a question like that would get a student in a lot of trouble in a Crossroads Academy that isn’t staffed by Gaia’s people.

      Or if she happened to talk about it to one of the staff members who isn’t with Gaia. Or if one such staff member happened to hear about it later. Hypothetically.

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      1. To clarify: would ANY student get in a lot of trouble for vocalizing those kinds of thoughts or questions? Or just the ones that are already under some level of suspicion like Flick and presumably Avalon?

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      2. Mostly the latter. More specifically because of Joselyn’s history. The slightest hint of Flick leaning the same way will make certain people very… well, nervous is one word for it.

        In the eyes of some, Joselyn was BASICALLY Voldemort. Trafficked with what they saw as evil creatures, got into magic they don’t allow, openly tried to CHANGE the entire world, often through violence and, *in their minds*, replace good with evil.

        Now there’s her daughter, who a lot of them never wanted near the school again, here for a couple months and already asking similar questions. If they weren’t convinced she’s working with her mother in secret already, some would be pushed to that conclusion.

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      3. In the eyes of some, Joselyn was BASICALLY Voldemort. Trafficked with what they saw as evil creatures, got into magic they don’t allow, openly tried to CHANGE the entire world, often through violence and, *in their minds*, replace good with evil

        *sigh*

        Am I a bad person if I admit that I also kind of want to see the looks on these people’s faces if Fossor had gone with his first plan? Because thinking it makes me feel a little guilty.

        I’ve mentioned in the past that I find Crossroads’ M.O. somewhat cult-like. But these last two chapters have pretty much convinced me of that. Crossroads is a cult (in my eyes).

        Also, I’m pretty sure that Shiori’s fear of being killed is more likely than I originally thought.

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  6. Okay, so, breeding Heretics and Strangers doesn’t work according to Crossroads, and according to their information on Eden’s Garden as well.

    Except we know very well that it does. So how did they come to that conclusion?

    Either Nevada is lying (though it’s information that could surely be easily confirmed by looking it up in a library or asking Avalon or something, so that would be odd), I assume for motives related to “let’s try to avoid fucking over Flick by potentially giving her information she could use to become more like her mother in the eyes of other people”, or they just _don’t know_,

    (Or, at least, the general public of Crossroads, including the teachers, don’t know. I feel like Gaia would be aware that it’s actually possible).

    Either way, that’s interesting. Very interesting.

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    1. Notice that Nevada never said that SHE believed that. She said ‘The gist of the argument is…’ and ‘according to one side.’ Not once did she state these things as though they were fact.

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  7. hmmm, once again Cerulean has me thinking. its very uncomfortable! So i think Navada is a Stranger sympothizer, simply on her reaction in discussing how humanity has changed certain species of Stranger. which has got me wondering about the supposed idiot faculty members of the school. I wonder if they are acting as a kind of trap pawn? After all who better to try to manipulate then the supposed stupid or oblivious? Also Felicity’s thoughts on good and evil are interesting and actually mirror my own, can a demon or angel really be evil or good if they cannot choose? can God? Can a God be perfect or imperfect when you are trying to apply the Human concept of such to a being that is not human? Does it really matter if a God exists or not, the world is exactly the same either way? Anyway back to the story. great chapter! P.S. Are Reepers really evil if they preserve the memory of the dead? in many ancient and modern cultures this would be a way to prevent real death. as being forgotten is far more serious to them then the actual act of dying.

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  8. I really like Nevada for some reason, I can’t quite put my finger on why. She seems like she is trying very hard to not tell Flick which side of the debate she is on here. Why is Flick giving a melodramatic speech about what a hero is? I am glad that she talked to sands about their feelings.

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    1. Yup, Nevada was very careful to phrase things as ‘this is what people say’ or ‘some people have this opinion’

      And Flick’s father is a reporter and SHE has wanted to be one for a long time. So her first instinct when she doesn’t know what to say is to write it down. Hence, she writes down the things she wants to say to Sands and it turns into a speech.

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  9. I don’t quite know how the murder-rope works, but couldn’t you just make a hill and bury its location? Or just put concrete over it?
    If that gives you ownership why don’t they take somebody weak/stupid and have them take the rope and then manipulate them into a vault/hiding spot for the rope by leading them with a victim like a cat after a laser pointer dot.

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    1. Those first couple things are the sort of things they do with most such items. But THAT one is special, almost like a monument. They want it to be visible, but protected.

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  10. Woo! Finally caught up. Although I’m not exactly sure if this is a good thing. I’ll now have to Wait!

    So the origin of the Heretic powers were from Reapers. Does that make the Heretics Shinigami? 😛 Also, it was confirmed this is the reason they can absorb powers from other Strangers. Is this also the reason for the huge pleasure they feel by killing a Stranger or is it something else? And I don’t think anybody has asked this yet, but would they have the same feeling when killing other Heretics or Bystanders?

    Nice heroic speech, Flick. It seems you are quite fond of these, Cerulean. They are generally very good, but it does seem a bit out of place that in the middle of stories these people, most of whom are teenage girls, deliver these huge, deep, thoughtful speeches. Most of the time without practicing at all. It’s pretty much the only thing that seems a bit unrealistic in your stories. Not that it’s really a bad point.

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    1. Welcome to being caught up!

      Also, it was confirmed this is the reason they can absorb powers from other Strangers. Is this also the reason for the huge pleasure they feel by killing a Stranger or is it something else?

      Let’s just say that’s not the only reason for it.

      And I don’t think anybody has asked this yet, but would they have the same feeling when killing other Heretics or Bystanders?

      Bystanders, no. Heretics, no comment.

      And yeah, I actually went back and forth a little on how Flick should talk and how much of a speech it should be. I know it’s something I do, but in this particular case I felt it made sense. Given Flick’s history as I’ve answered elsewhere, she IS accustomed to writing her thoughts down, and she has had actual time to put them in order, write down what she wants to say, and get through it.

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