A Learning Experience 17-07

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I honestly had no idea how much time passed before Professor Mason finally made his way out of the therapist’s office and left. It could’ve been thirty seconds or five minutes. All I knew was that I spent the entire time in a near-blinding rage, and it was all I could do not to throw myself out of the wall and confront the man directly. Such a thing obviously would’ve ended badly on every conceivable level, yet I could still barely stop myself. My logic and my emotions were pretty much pummeling each other.

Eventually, however, the man did leave. Which left only Klassin Roe in his office when I emerged from the wall. I didn’t even bother going onto the outside of the office and then knocking on the door or any such production. Instead, I literally popped right out of the wall inside the room without any warning.

Klassin was standing on the other side of the office, looking out a window with his back to me. As I emerged, before I made any sound or even moved an inch, the man spoke quietly. “Hello, Flick.”

For all the anger and other emotions that had been rampaging their way through me since the moment I realized what he and Professor Mason were talking about, I finally stopped for a second and thought about what had just happened. I thought about not just what I’d heard, but why I’d heard it. And I came to a sudden realization, my eyes widening. “… You knew. You knew I was there, that I’d hear all of it.”

Rather than responding right away, Klassin remained silent. His gaze was still focused on the window. When he finally replied a few long seconds later, his voice was quiet and calm, not at all like the accusatory and inciting tone he’d been taking with the other man a couple minutes earlier. “Yes, I did.”

My mouth opened and shut before I managed to get another sound out. “You—I–you wanted me to hear all that. You started that whole conversation just so I could hear it. Why? And how?! I’m half an hour early, how could you possibly know that I’d show up in time to hear you guys talking about it?”

Finally, the man turned away from the window to face me. As he did so, I saw something in his eyes. Emotion that he was quickly blinking away while replying. “For the latter part of that, when you passed that painting of Lord Kelvin in the hall out there, my spell let me know you were coming.” His faint smile then seemed more sad than proud. “Just a little trick I learned from a.. from an old friend.”

That time, I didn’t have to think about it. The answer spilled from my lips immediately. “My mom.”

His eyes flicked downward briefly before the man gave a very slight nod. Then he looked back up to me. “Yes. Your mother and I had a complicated relationship. But I… I came to care about her a lot.”

The rage that I felt, the anger and frustration and… all of it kept trying to spill out of me. I clenched my hands tightly, staring at him from across the office. “Why set it up like that? Why trick that—Professor Mason into talking about all that stuff instead of just telling me yourself if you wanted me to know?”

“Several reasons,” Klassin answered quietly. He looked at me for a moment before stepping away from the window, moving across the room to pick up a glass of what looked like whiskey from his desk. “First, I didn’t think you’d believe me if I just told you. Better for you to hear it from his own mouth.”

Folding my arms tightly across my stomach to grab onto my own elbows, I stared at him. “A-and?”

He glanced away briefly at that, his eyes finding the floor before he looked up again. His voice was soft, yet firm as he explained. “And I didn’t want to back you into a corner. I wanted you to know, but I didn’t want you to have to talk to me about it if you didn’t want to. I wanted to get the information to you without forcing you to open up to me. This way, you could hear about it and then never say a word if you didn’t know that I knew you were there. I wanted it to be your choice. You deserved that much.”

My throat was dry, my hands wouldn’t stop twitching, and I felt even more shivers running through me. “From his own mouth,” I echoed before shaking my head quickly. “And the rest of it? Why? Why would you want me to hear all of that in the first place? Why would you want me to know about him?”

“Because you deserved to know,” the man replied, his gaze meeting mine. “You deserved to know what happened back then. You deserve the truth, Flick. Especially since Liam’s been…” He trailed off.

Swallowing hard, I gazed back at him evenly. “He’s been what? What has Professor Mason done?”

“He’s been talking about moving his girls off your team,” the therapist answered after a pause. “He’s afraid of everything that’s been happening, to you and to Avalon and he’s been making noise about moving them to a different team where they’ll be safer, switching them with a couple other students.”

My eyes went wide at that, and I blurted without thinking, “Son of a bitch! He can’t—that’s not—I don’t–” If my emotions had been a mess before, they were worse now. “We’re training to be Heretics!” I blurted. “And he’s been one this whole time, for decades, at least! Did he just fucking now realize it’s dangerous? And what the fuck, he thinks it’s too dangerous for Sands and Scout to be on the team, but he’s just absolutely fine with shoving a couple other students onto it instead? What about them?!”

“Sands and Scout are his kids.” His soft voice was a calm oasis in the wake of my turbulent emotions. “He’s not thinking straight when it comes to them. It’s not that he thinks it’s okay for others to be in danger. Hell, he doesn’t even want you to be in danger, or Avalon. But when it comes to his daughters, especially after what happened to Larissa, he’s not rational. All he can think about is protecting them.”

Shifting my weight back and forth, I held myself tightly while trying to think straight. “I—what about…” I trailed off, looking down at the floor as I struggled my way through all of my wild thoughts.

After a few seconds of silence, Klassin spoke up, voice even. “I don’t know all of what’s going on with you, Flick, but I do know most of it. And you need to be able to talk about it with someone, if you want to. You deserved to know that I know that stuff, that I can talk about it if you want. Because everything happening to you, everything you’re dealing with, you should have a safe place to vent about it.”

Unable to stand still any longer, I started to pace back and forth. I had more nervous and emotional energy than I could contain, and so many questions, demands, and rants that I didn’t even know where to start. Eventually, however, one thing stuck out above the others. “He called you Johnny. Why?”

There was silence for a brief moment before he answered, his voice holding a note of obvious emotion that he was mostly suppressing. “Because that used to be my name. I was Jonathan. Jonathan Ruthers.”

Well that made me whip my head around, stopping short from my pacing as I stared at the man. “Ruthers?” I blurted, my voice louder than I intended. “You said your name was Ruthers, as in–”

“As in the former headmaster, yes.” Klassin met my stare. “He was my father. Or, I suppose, is. He’ll always be my father, even if I’ve tried to divorce myself from him as much as I can. He is my blood.”

He took another swallow from the glass, his eyes staring off into the distance before he spoke again. “That’s why I changed my name, why I have nothing to do with him. Because I don’t agree with anything he’s done. After I found out what he did to your mother, what he did to Joselyn, I… well, I basically disowned him, Flick. As much as a son can disown a father. I walked away, I told him I never wanted to see him again, and I changed my name. Hell, I tried to change everything about myself.”

“You changed your name,” I echoed, feeling even more turbulent emotions running through me in spite of myself. It was all I could do to force myself to think straight by then. “You didn’t agree with him.”

“I despise him,” Klassin replied flatly. “Not always. I—when your mother and I met, I was my father’s son. I was a piece of shit. I was spoiled and—and wrong. And your mother didn’t stand for it. Hell, that’s what first got Jos on my father’s bad side. She laid me out in the cafeteria in front of everyone.”

Gazing off into the distance, he actually smiled a little bit at the memory. “I deserved it. I was—well, let’s just say I thought I could do whatever I wanted, just because of who my father was. But your mom, she uh, she didn’t put up with it. She put me on the floor and from that moment on, my father hated her. Even before the um, even before the rest of it, he had it out for Joselyn. Not that she cared. Pissing off the headmaster was just… par for the course. If your mom thought something was wrong, she made sure everyone knew it. She didn’t care who didn’t like hearing it, or how powerful they were.”

For a few seconds, the man was silent then as he gazed off in the distance, obviously lost in his own memories. Finally, he shook himself and straightened while putting the glass down. “Gaia’s the one that got Joselyn to calm down and think strategically. Your mother was… she’s incredibly passionate, and Gaia helped make sure that she didn’t give my father enough ammunition to expel her. Or worse.”

There was so much I wanted to ask, so many thoughts and questions swirling around in my mind. Finally, I settled on starting with a simple, yet important one. “What changed? You said that you and my mom fought at first, that you were a—well, that you were a spoiled dick. What made you change?”

Again, there was a long silence as the man clearly lost himself in his memories. His smile flickered and I saw more emotion in his eyes than I knew a single person could have in such a short time. When he spoke, I wasn’t sure he even knew he was talking. He was just putting voice to his thoughts. “When we were seniors, I knew Joselyn was up to something. I mean, I didn’t know all of it. I just figured she was spying on us for Eden’s Garden, that kind of thing. So, one night when she snuck away from the place a bunch of us were assigned to stay at for internship, I… followed her with a camera. I figured I could prove she was a traitor and get her kicked out. And that time, not even Gaia would be able to save her.”

Gesturing to one of the nearby armchairs, Klassin waited as the thing slid across the floor to him before he sat down and continued. “So, I followed her, trying to stay out of her sight. I knew what powers she had, so I could avoid her extra senses. She went to this motel. It was supposed to be closed, but there were people there. I saw her go in, so I went up onto one of the nearby roofs and watched with my camera. I thought she was meeting with her Eden’s Garden contact. But um, I was wrong. About a lot.

“As it turned out, your mom was there to meet with some Alters. There were families living there, families that didn’t have anywhere else to go, who were being hunted by—well, us. That’s the whole reason our group was assigned to that city, to find the nest of Strangers and flush them out to be… killed. But your mom was making sure that we didn’t find them. Every time we got close, she’d warn them to move somewhere else. She was protecting them, protecting the… families that were in there.”

Somehow, I managed to speak through the thick, hard lump in my throat. “I bet you loved seeing that.”

He accepted that with a nod and a pained look. “Yeah. I… I thought I hit the mother lode. I figured your mom wouldn’t just be expelled, but probably even imprisoned. Yeah, I thought it was great. So I started taking pictures. I probably would’ve taken them to my dad. Your mom would’ve been… well, everything would’ve been different. Either he’d take her in and the rebellion never would’ve started, or maybe it would’ve started early, before she graduated. But the point is, things would’ve changed a lot.”

Leaning back in the chair, he gazed at the ceiling, voice soft. “Fortunately, something else happened. There was an attack, a raid on the motel. Not from Heretics, from… you know what Nocens are?”

My head nodded. “Sure, evil Alters. It’s from um, the Latin word for wicked or… whatever, isn’t it?”

“Something like that,” he confirmed. “There used to be a few different words for them. All means the same thing. Nocens, Nequam, and lots of others. Mainly they use Nocens now. Anyway, this group of Nocens attacked the motel. And, since I was there, I got caught up in the middle of it. Not that I knew they were any different from the Alters who were already there. I figured they were all attacking me.”

He chuckled softly at his past self before continuing. “I didn’t last very long, not the way they took me by surprise. I ended up hurt pretty bad, unconscious in the basement of the building I’d been watching from. I probably would’ve died down there, except… except that a couple of the Alters found me after everything was done. They beat the Nocen that attacked, with your mothers help. Then a couple of them found me after she left. They found me, they knew what I was, but they took me in anyway. When I woke up, I was… in one of their rooms, and this… this woman, an Alter, was fixing me up.”

His silence stretched on after that for awhile, the man obviously thinking back to what had happened and the people he had met. “They took care of me,” he said quietly. “They mended me, got rid of the poison that would’ve killed me, helped give my body time to heal itself. I cursed them so much. I threatened them, screamed at them, but they held me down. They stopped me from not just hurting them, but from hurting myself. They made sure I healed, even though I would’ve killed all of them.

“I was almost better, almost healed when some of the Nocen came back. This time your mom wasn’t there. They um—they were there for me. Somehow, they found out that there was a Crossroads Heretic in the place, so they came to get me. They wanted… well, they wanted to make an example out of me. But the… the family that took me in… Truvan, Iona, and little Exa, they wouldn’t give me up. None of them would. None of the Alters, the ones I would’ve killed, they refused to give me up. I um, I wanted to fight. I tried to fight, tried to get up so I could deal with the Nocen. But Iona knew I’d fail, that I’d lose. I wasn’t ready for that yet. So she—she gave me something that knocked me out. She knocked me out and the last thing I knew, she and Truvan were hiding me.”

There was a crack in his voice as he went on, and I could see the anguish in his eyes. “When I woke up, they were dead. All of them. Not just the family that hid me, every last one of the Alters that your mom had been protecting. The Nocen killed all of them. Because of me. Because they protected me.”

He looked up to me, his eyes wet, yet fierce. “I knew from that moment that we were wrong, that Crossroads was wrong. So I did what I could to help Joselyn. I wanted to quit, I wanted everyone to know I was on her side, that I changed. But… but your mom thought it would be better if I worked as a spy, on the other side. So I did. I played the part enough that my father had no idea. And I tried to do everything I could to undermine him.

“But in the end, it wasn’t enough. He took your… your brother and sister. He took them and I couldn’t do anything about it. So your mom—she… she came in, and… and I did what I could. But when I found out that they were going to remove her, that they were going to destroy the rebellion by erasing her from everyone’s memory and violate people’s minds like that, I… I couldn’t pretend anymore. I told my father what I thought of him. I told him how much I hated him, and I… quit. I quit being his son, I took off, changed my name, changed… everything.

“I owe your mom more than I can ever repay her. I couldn’t save her twins, I couldn’t save her from prison, or from being erased from everyone’s memory. I couldn’t do anything. But I can be there for her daughter. Anything you want to say, anything you want to talk about, I can be there for you. Or not. It’s your choice. I’m not going to force you into anything, Flick. If you never want to talk to me again, if you want a different therapist, I can have someone else come in for your sessions. You deserve that kind of choice.”

For a moment, I didn’t say anything. I stood there, arms folded as I stared at the floor. Then I slowly took a step over to the other chair and sat down. “Could you…” Hesitating, I looked up. “Could you tell me a little more about my mother, what she was like? Could you just… talk about my mom some more?”

There was a slight, sad yet happy smile from the man. “Of course,” he answered quietly.

“I’d love to talk about your mother.”

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45 comments

  1. Whoooo, a new chapter! And this one hopefully without any major timeline mistakes, bonus! 😀

    I hope you guys enjoyed hearing Klassin’s story and all that. Originally this was only supposed to be half of the chapter, with the other half moving on to some interaction with Koren out with the sharks. But I figured it was better not to rush this whole thing, and we’ll see the Koren interaction next time, among other things.

    A special thank you goes to everyone who pointed out my mistake in the last chapter quickly enough for me to fix it. You guys are the absolute best, and the story (quite obviously) wouldn’t be nearly as good without you.

    On Top Web Fiction (which you can throw a vote to by clicking here if you’d like to), we’re STILL up in the top ten! 😀

    Anyway, there’s one more chapter to this arc before we get to the interlude. Look for that coming Monday!

    Tags for this chapter are: All The Work Klassin Has Put Into Divorcing Himself From His Dad And Yet They Both Drink Whiskey While Talking To Flick., Felicity Chambers, Flick, Klassin Roe, Liam Mason, That… Could Have Gone A Lot Worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Typo thread!

    He chuckled softly at his past self before continuing. I didn’t last very long, not the way they took me by surprise. I ended up hurt pretty bad, unconscious in the basement of the building I’d been watching from. I probably would’ve died down there, except… except that a couple of the Alters found me after everything was done.

    Needs to be a quotation marks after the first sentence.

    I was almost better, almost healed when some of the Nocen came back. This time your mom wasn’t there. They um—they were there for me. Somehow, they found out that there was a Crossroads Heretic in the place, so they came to get me.

    And there needs to be one at the start of this passage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your mother and had
      Add I after and

      Why trick that—Professor Mason into talking about
      There should be another dash after Professor Mason like this:
      Why trick that—Professor Mason—into talking about

      Like

  3. So, that was a bit more than I was expecting. I honestly was thinking Roe/Jonathon didn’t come to agree with Joselyn until a few decades into the war. But a spy the whole time? I’m not surprised, but I wasn’t expecting it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First, because as complicated as the spell was to do, they couldn’t just easily remove him from the list of protected people before it was cast. It took months to set up the spell properly and the requirements are too precise for them to just take him off without redoing everything from scratch.

      And second, because his father spent a long time hoping to turn him back to his side and make him understand.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. (Sorry, a lot of questions, but I just caught up with the story, and I am dying to know the answers)
    Will the story cover all 4 years? (I really hope it does)
    Do the absorbed powers stack? For example I’m pretty sure speed would, but how would the sand ability stack or the wood travelling ability.
    Also can the absorbed abilities be completely anything related to the beast, since Shiori got the sand shifting ability, while Flick got the sand telekinesis ability?
    Can Heretics have more than 1 weapon?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1) If I remember correctly Cerulean said we won’t spend all of it at Crossroads, but I’m not sure about that. There is definetly a lot more story to be told.

      2)Powers statck. For sand she’d get better control/more she can lift at a time, She’d probably get faster in wood or something similar. I actually remember asking it on SB but can’t remember the answer.

      3) Alters may grant multiple different powers on death. Quite a lot of them are in my guide which you can find on the Cast page. I haven’t updated it latly and it could be a lot prettier but it’s good IMO.

      4) Why couldn’t they?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. BBBence covered a lot of it, but yeah, let’s see what I can answer.

      1: All I can say for sure is that the story isn’t done at the end of the year. We still have several years to cover.

      2: Yes, they can improve the strength of powers they already have by absorbing identical/similar ones.

      3: As BBBence said, Alters provide a range of possible powers upon death. Basically, the Heretic rolls dice to see what they get and rolls again to see how strong it is.

      4: No reason why they couldn’t.

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      1. On the subject line of additional weapons, how would such a process take place since there seemed to be quite a ritual involved the first time? I think it was mentioned before when Felicity asked, that their weapons would only be replaced if broken, so would this take place only after their schooling if they so wished?

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      2. On the subject line of additional weapons, how would such a process take place since there seemed to be quite a ritual involved the first time? I think it was mentioned before when Felicity asked, that their weapons would only be replaced if broken, so would this take place only after their schooling if they so wished?

        Correct, a full Heretic can get a Developer to make them more weapons. Or… you know, a student can do it with the right friends. Generally speaking, they’re OFFICIALLY given one weapon through training. Part of that is to avoid students constantly changing their minds and to force them to focus on becoming experienced and skilled with one weapon before they graduate. Afterward, it’s up to them.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. CERULEAN: OK, this one has been bothering me for AWHILE now. @Cerulean: How did Monkey-Joselyn *KNOW* to equip her Therianglos-Avatar with the small silver dagger that was necessary for Flick to be able to kill the Werewolf she fought in the forest-realm outside Eden’s Garden?

    I have tried so very hard to answer this one for myself. Some possibilities I considered and rejected: 1) Monkey-Joselyn lifted the dagger from somewhere in the Garden-Tree. NO WAY, Unset security is absurdly tight, especially at the elevators and the joins where the Tree levels shift from control of one Tribe to another. 2) Monkey-Jocelyn found it in the woods, and decided to hold onto it because it might prove useful. Doesn’t make sense. That forest has hundreds of Werewolves in it, and silver has a distinctive smell when it stays wet for any length of time (if a human can smell it, surely a Werewolf can). If a silver dagger was just lying in the forest undergrowth getting rained on, it woulda been tarnished, and likely discovered. 3) Monkey-Joselyn has a preexisting contact in Eden’s Garden, and she got it from them. How would she have known she’d need it?

    See my difficulty? I understand if you can’t answer because it involves some will-be-exploited-in-future loophole in Fossor’s security…but otherwise, please…PLEASE Cerulean explain how the Monkey presciently knew to have JUST the item her daughter would need to win a fight she otherwise almost certainly would’ve lost.

    Thanks in advance either way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem at all! I can answer that, because I answered it over on Spacebattles. Here’s exactly what I said then:

      Joselyn used magic through the monkey to switch the positions of a silver knife that she already knew about and a roughly equivalent size rock. It just took time to put the appropriate spell on the rock. So yes, she is aware of where many weapons stashes. But no, they didn’t just happen to conveniently be *that* close to one. The weapons in question are purposefully prepared to be summoned by such a spell in case of emergency.

      It’s something she learned from Gabriel Prosser.

      So yes, there are many weapons stashes that Joselyn knows about. No, they didn’t just happen to be near one. She had to use magic to swap the position of the knife she knew about and the rock that the monkey picked up.

      Hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Just a note: don’t hesitate to ask a question like that if something is bugging you. Cerulean is pretty much always willing to answer non-spoiler questions.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. “There was a crack in his voice as he went on, and I could see the anguish in his eyes. “When I woke up, they were dead. All of them. Not just the family that hid me, every last one of the Alters that your mom had been protecting. The Nocen killed all of them. Because of me. Because they protected me.”
    He looked up to me, his eyes wet, yet fierce. ”
    Me: …I see. Though having another person see the truth of things is a victory, it came this time at an incredibly steep price.

    The look into Klassin’s past, both before and after he was exposed to the truth, was rather interesting to read.

    Like

    1. We don’t know exactly. She was kidnapped by whatever attacked her and Scout and showed up in Haiden Moon’s interlude helping him look for Sariel.

      Like

    2. As Hendy said, what Sands and Scout (and the rest of the group) BELIEVE is that she was killed by the Stranger who attacked the yacht seven years ago (which led to Sarah changing her name to Scout because the monster kept using her mother’s voice to call for ‘Sarah’) and that it happened while Larissa was meeting with some other unknown Stranger who helped hide Scout.

      In reality, the ‘unknown Stranger’ who protected Scout was Sariel (Vanessa and Tristan’s mother), who was projecting herself to the person she most recently possessed (Larissa as a child before Sariel stopped possessing people and ran away with Haiden (Vanessa and Tristan’s father) ).

      Larissa was taken by the attacking Stranger, some unknown stuff happened, and she was seen alive in the present day during Haiden’s interlude where both are off somewhere in Seosten worlds searching for Sariel.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true, but I’d say Flick’s point about him apparently not having a problem with putting other students in their place is a good rebuttal. Because of that, I think “understandable” might be a better word than “justified.”

      Like

  7. Your mother and had a complicated relationship.

    Missing a “I” between “and had”.

    All The Work Klassin Has Put Into Divorcing Himself From His Dad And Yet They Both Drink Whiskey While Talking To Flick.

    This is why I love the joke tags. I noticed this as soon as it was mentioned what he was drinking.

    At least now Flick has ONE non-related grown-up she can talk about this stuff with, better yet he’s an actual therapist!
    She still doesn’t seem to trust Gaia with it yet, as I’m sure we’d have seen that conversation. I’m guessing she’s wanting to hold off for a bit to learn some actual magic and combat tricks before going in deep on her mother and all of that baggage.
    I know we can trust Nevada and Virginia but Flick doesn’t know she can trust them yet, I think Nevada would be the best one to talk with first, and she and Devron really need to talk as well, think that would be good for Nevada.

    Welp, looking forward to more as always.

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  8. I totally don’t trust Klassin. It looked like his motive was more about Flick to dislike Liam Mason and less about her to know the truth. It’s also strange how they let him be the counselor. I understand them letting him go on with his own life, but… not as counselor of all things. And, if somehow they let him be counselor, they’d certainly monitor his discussions with Flick, of all people. Hopefully they delegated this task to Gaia, and not, say, Prof. Mason 😀

    Like

      1. One of the main reasons that Gaia didn’t list Klassin as one of those she trusts without question is that she didn’t want to force him to talk to Flick about his past if he didn’t want to. Considering his connection to his father, whom Flick has plenty of reason to dislike, she wanted to leave the choice of that interaction up to him.

        And another reason is that Klassin was far more Deveron/Joselyn’s ally through the war than Gaia’s. She didn’t KNOW he was a spy through the vast majority of it. The others are her friends and allies, while he’s more of an afterthought, an ally of an ally. Remember, Gaia wasn’t actually a full part of the open rebellion. She was allied to them and helped where she could, but she didn’t know all their inner workings and secrets. Partly for plausible deniability. And Joselyn preferred to compartmentalize information.

        That and, well, Gaia isn’t sure about how his emotions toward his father might affect him. She ‘trusts’ him, just not completely implicitly and unquestioningly like she does the others.

        And speaking of which, I suppose we know why she trusts Nevada and Dare, might be good to see why she trusts Kohaku and Katarin.

        But yeah, it’s not so much a matter of her NOT trusting him (she wouldn’t allow his sessions with Flick if she didn’t), as not wanting to back either of them into a corner about that interaction and not being entirely positive that he can keep his emotions under control when it comes to his anger at his father.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I don’t think anyone’s raised the important bit. How did Mr. Classy (Klassin) know that she’d gotten past the spell and was able to learn things about her mother?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He knows that Kine led Flick to her mother’s picture, so at the very least he knows that she knows Joselyn was a Heretic. According to Gaia’s explanation to Avalon relayed in 12-02, people related to the target of a memory spell have an easier time retaining information it’s trying to hide. Plus he’s been having sessions with her since she got back (even if they don’t get mentioned to us often), it’s probable that he’s figured out that she knows a lot more than she’s letting on based on their conversations.

      Hey, wait, that just raised a different question. This is the relevant section from 12-02:

      It was Avalon who answered. “Gaia explained it to me earlier. There are two spells. First, there’s the one that erased the memory of Joselyn from everyone that was involved, and stops the ones who were shielded by the spell from talking about her. Anyone who finds out the truth from some other source, or just figures it out based on other evidence, can share what they know. It’s like… a person censored by the spell would be someone who had personal knowledge and was trying to share an actual memory. The spell won’t let them. But someone like Chambers who just happened to figure it out isn’t sharing an actual memory of the specific censored person. She’s just telling a story, so it gets past the spell.”

      “Let me guess,” I put in. “The other spell is the one that stops us from sharing what we found on those papers in the security room. Specifically, the bit about Mom having other children. Which, I guess means Koren is immune to it for… some reason? Wait, is it because we’re related or something?”

      “Because she’s related to the subject of the spell,” Avalon confirmed. “That’s why she can retain the information without going to some other world to share it like you did with Porter over here.”

      Never mind, I answered my own question. I was wondering why Seller didn’t just tell Flick everything back in Visitations if those related to the spell’s subject can retain information, but that only works when they learn it form a source other than those who cast the spell.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Here’s another thing I’ve wondered. Ruthers trusted Fossor, and that went horrifically wrong and lead to the Black Death. Even if *that* mistake didn’t ruin Ruthers political future with the Heretics, how is it that all the other Senior Heretics refuse to allow for the possibility Fossor is still active and up to no good? I mean, at one point the Heretics considered him enough of a threat that they collectively cast an enormously powerful enchantment meant to block his access to Earth. That was ONLY five hundred years ago. MANY Senior Heretics are considerably older than that. For those Heretics to have considered Fossor so dangerous they wanted to block him off from accessing the Earth, surely they had to have some conception of how his power worked. More than that, Heretics (if they weren’t already) were JUST recently again made aware that their incredibly powerful banning enchantments have weaknesses. (They JUST killed a Fomorian who came VERY close to making off with Koren for the purposes of dismantling the anti-Fomorian shield safeguarding the Earth)…

    Surely some of the otherwise bigoted and conservative, but not completely idiotic and blind members of the Committee at the top of the Heretic power structure must be getting nervous after TWO solid reports…One of which was witnessed by piles of Senior and respected Heretics (the Fomorian’s attempted kidnapping) that their powerful Earth-shielding enchantments are being actively challenged.

    Shouldn’t we be seeing at least an *investigation* into the allegation made by Flick that Fossor is still able to run around on Earth freely by walking on the ashes and ghosts of his defeated enemies? Yes, I understand many at the top distrust Flick…but when someone delivers are extremely plausible warning, that’s in line with what you know of the enemy’s capabilities (Heretics know their spells have loopholes, and they know Fossor has total dominion over his ghosts)…You don’t get to be an organization that’s managed to (mostly) protect the Earth for ages by discounting possibly horrendous threats out of hand.

    I mean I can understand them being skeptical that Flick was the source of the report…but Flick’s own ignorance about the details concerning Fossor should’ve worked to strengthen the credibility of her report. After all, what she doesn’t know she can’t lie about effectively. And even if the entire committee is sold on Ruthers theory that Flick is just a spy for her mother…They’d STILL check out Fossor, for fear it was a plot of Joselyn’s that she had Flick report to them about precisely SO they’d discount the info about Fossor.

    In other words, their own paranoia and distrust of what Flick says should’ve motivated anyone but maybe Ruthers to check into this. Especially after Ammon’s break-in of Crossroads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. how is it that all the other Senior Heretics refuse to allow for the possibility Fossor is still active and up to no good?

      It’s not that Ruthers doesn’t think Fossor isn’t active and up to no good, it’s that he doesn’t think Fossor abducted Joselyn, specifically.

      I can’t recall any line or scene that indicates the Committee doesn’t think Fossor isn’t still walking around on the ashes of his enemies as an active threat to earth and humanity, just that Ruthers doesn’t believe that he’s involved in this particular situation.

      As for the rest of the Committee, we still don’t know exactly how the other members are taking everything that’s going on. All we have to go on is that half of them (including Ruthers) voted not to enroll Flick in the Academy, and that at least a few of them have been making noises about Flick attracting danger to the school.

      Shouldn’t we be seeing at least an *investigation* into the allegation made by Flick that Fossor is still able to run around on Earth freely by walking on the ashes and ghosts of his defeated enemies?

      Well, no, because Flick never made that allegation. She purposefully left Fossor out of her report on what happened when she went home because she was afraid the people in charge would start trying to bury everything she wanted to know about her mother if they knew too much about the situation. Even now that she’s told Gaia, they’re not saying anything because at this point they regard the Committee as another threat to Flick. Also, I’m pretty sure Flick hasn’t even told Gaia that Fossor is planning to come back for her when she turns 18, so the headmistress might not know exactly what’s at stake.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. As Hendy said, it’s not that they don’t think he’s a threat. It’s that they don’t believe/know that he’s involved with Joselyn’s situation specifically. And, also as stated, Flick didn’t officially report her interaction with Fossor. She left that out when she was saying what happened back in Laramie Falls.

      Another point to make, is that Flick is not aware of everything going on in the background. She’s barely aware of the identies of two of the Committee members (Ruthers and Zeke’s mother), let alone what they’re doing or what their opinions on things are.

      I’m thinking that at some point we need to see a meeting of the Committee so that everyone can get an idea of just what kind of personalities we’re dealing with. After all, while half of them voted against Flick joining the school, the other half voted for it. That’s what gave Gaia the authority to break the tie as the headmistress. And seeing a full Commitee meeting will allow for more world building as well as answer the question of what exactly they are aware of/doing about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This response makes me think/hope that one of the next interludes is goign to be a Committee meeting, maybe a B-interlude after a voted one?

        Fingers crossed!

        Now seems like it would be a perfect time for it, given the wealth of stuff that’s happened over the first semester, and the fact that they’re probably back to the discussion of whether or not to let Flick go back to her dad over winter break.

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  11. OK Fair enough about Flick not reporting Fossor…but Gaia knows, *and* Gaia knows Fossor was interested in Flick’s activities enough to attach grave-marks to her so his ghosts had her on Lo-Jack.

    I’ll take another tack. Fossor defeated a major Heretic banning enchantment essentially without breaking a sweat. He’s slaughtered entire species. Burning up a few hundred thousand ghosts a week is essentially the equivalent of me scraping small change out from between my couch cushions to buy a can of soda from a vending machine.

    The Fomorians the Heretics at least (almost entirely) stopped. How are these people not terrified to the point of their hair turning white of a guy who caused the Black Death and then shrugged off their best shot as a minor inconvenience?

    I think I blurred my essential point in my prior post. Here’s my new, trimmed-down point. If the Heretics cared enough to try and ban Fossor from Earth, they should’ve cared enough to assess how well their banning-attempt went. Since it failed so completely, why didn’t they go back to the drawing board for Plan B in the last 500 years?

    I mean, a single Fomorian comes out of hiding and its all hands on deck for Smackdown Extraordinaire. Anyone with a scintilla of powers of cognition would’ve realized on the Global Threat Scale one Fomorian is (conditionally) something like a 7.5 out of 10.

    The Black Death quite literally *obliterated* almost every last trace of the then current societal structure. The massive number of fatalities ended Feudalism, and directly lead to the social instability of the Early Renaissance. Given that we don’t even know how much effort went into generating the Bubonic Plague on Fossor’s part…the man is clearly a 9.0 out of 10.

    If Fossor did nothing but repeat his previous plot, using a SLIGHTLY hardier disease transmission vector than infected fleas…in this age of mass intercontinental air travel a Black Death 2.0 wouldn’t destroy Europe. It’d be *The Stand* as a work of historical non-fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe that’s why people are trying their best to ignore him. “Holy cow, we have nothing to stand up to this guy, we have no idea what we could do, if he comes for us we are so totally screwed. But he’s not coming for us, and as long as we leave him alone, he seems content to leave us alone, so if he wants to kill one Heretic every now and again, especially since he apparently wants the Heretic that’s a spy for the Heretic that ran the revolution… it’s no skin off my back.”

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    2. OK Fair enough about Flick not reporting Fossor…but Gaia knows, *and* Gaia knows Fossor was interested in Flick’s activities enough to attach grave-marks to her so his ghosts had her on Lo-Jack.

      Actually, Gaia probably doesn’t know about the gravewatch markers. Seller’s the one who noticed and removed those, not Gaia. And then Flick specifically asked him not to tell anyone, which he agreed to, at least for the time being. We have no idea if he or Flick told Gaia about the markers, just like we don’t know if either of them (or Avalon or anyone else) told her that Fossor intends to come back for Flick once she turns eighteen. If someone has told her, it didn’t happen on screen.

      The Fomorians the Heretics at least (almost entirely) stopped. How are these people not terrified to the point of their hair turning white of a guy who caused the Black Death and then shrugged off their best shot as a minor inconvenience?

      They are scared of him. Go back and reread 6-02 and Gaia’s Interlude, the chapters where Seller and Ruthers -two centuries old, powerful Heretics- both hesitate to so much as speak Fossor’s name.

      I think I blurred my essential point in my prior post. Here’s my new, trimmed-down point. If the Heretics cared enough to try and ban Fossor from Earth, they should’ve cared enough to assess how well their banning-attempt went. Since it failed so completely, why didn’t they go back to the drawing board for Plan B in the last 500 years?

      My guess is that they did try a Plan B, which didn’t work and probably a number of plans after that, which also didn’t work. Why didn’t they work? Because Fossor was probably a lot more careful after they hit him with that first curse so they wouldn’t get him with another. He’s been operating on this scale for thousands of years without getting killed, you don’t live that long with that level of power without learning how to be cautious. Especially when you’ve been given an obvious weakness like the ash curse.

      If Fossor did nothing but repeat his previous plot, using a SLIGHTLY hardier disease transmission vector than infected fleas…in this age of mass intercontinental air travel a Black Death 2.0 wouldn’t destroy Europe. It’d be *The Stand* as a work of historical non-fiction.

      As you said, there are over 500 years between the Black Death and the present day. We don’t know everything that happened between Fossor and the Heretics in that time. Maybe he did try to unleash another plague a few times, but was stopped. Bear in mind that he didn’t just unleash it when he wanted the first time, he apparently had to earn the trust of the Heretics for some reason before he could put that plan into action. Why? I don’t know, but it’s very possible that he has tried to unleash another plague only to be stopped.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Bonus chapters are just standard chapters that get released on Wednesday instead of Monday or Friday. Only the first one (5-08) calls attention to the fact that it’s a bonus chapter. 17-06 is the most recent bonus. Is that the one you can’t find? Because it works for me when I press the previous chapter link at the top.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. As Hendy said, the ‘bonus chapter’ referred to is 17-06. Basically, there are two different kinds of donations. The first is a general donation that goes into a pool of money. When the pool reaches a certain amount, we have a regular bonus chapter on the next Wednesday after it happens (Patreon donations lower the amount needed for this). When it’s something like that, I refer to it as a ‘bonus chapter’

      The other kind of donation is a commission for a mini-interlude. Basically, you say what kind of scene you’d like to see (and assuming it makes sense within the narrative, doesn’t spoil anything I don’t want to spoil yet, etc) such as ‘Shiori and Columbus interacting and bonding with Asenath’ and then how many words you’d like it to be. Then you pay based on the word count, and your commission comes out as soon as it’s ready. When it’s something like that, I refer to it as a ‘mini-interlude.’

      You can find out more details by looking here 🙂

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      1. Ok, I never paid attention to that part 😀 so I mixed up the Interludes with the bonus chapters ! I just donate without really paying attention to what’s happening, I’m just glad for the extra content.

        Thanks for the explanations, off to reread that chapter 17-06 then !

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