Winter Wonderland 18-05

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“Let me see if I understand your claim, Miss, ahhh… Chambers.” The centaur spoke gruffly, his voice sounding like he was auditioning for the role of Batman. Squeezing the back of the chair that he was standing behind, he met my gaze intently. It was like he was trying to stare straight through me. “According to you, for a good portion of this past century, a group of Heretics led by your dam—err, sorry, your mother– and a group of Alters were part of an alliance combating the rest of your Heretic herd in an attempt to change their ideology? And then your mother’s entire identity was completely erased from their—possibly our memories, and with it, all knowledge of this supposed alliance?”

Swallowing, I forced myself to keep meeting his stare. “Yes, sir,” I confirmed. “That’s about the size of it. They were rebelling against Crossroads and Eden’s Garden, trying to change things. And they were doing pretty well. The establishment thought they won when they kidnapped–” I stopped, frowning.

The vampire, a pale guy who looked like Sufjan Stevens with longer hair, leaned forward in his seat. “When they kidnapped whom?” His voice was silky smooth, and hearing it combined with the look that he gave me actually made me forget what I was saying for a second. Which, judging by the smirk that immediately crossed his face for a moment before he controlled it, was what he had been going for.

Shaking that off, I turned my attention toward the other Septs. “I—um, I can’t really say,” I admitted before quickly explaining. “There’s a spell protecting it. One of their memory spells. I can’t say who was kidnapped, just that someone important was taken, and they used it to make my mother surrender. So they thought that would be the end of it. But the rebellion kept going on for decades after that. They finally figured that if they erased my mother entirely, since she started the rebellion, it would disappear. And they were right. My mom lived as a normal person and everything in the Heretic world went back to the way the establishment wanted it to be. At least, she lived a normal life until Fossor abducted her.”

That got plenty of attention. I immediately saw all seven of the people up there, Calvin included, stiffen and look around at each other. The short, gnome-like guy was the first to speak up. “Fossor,” he repeated in a high-pitched voice after jumping to his feet to stand on his chair. “Did you say Fossor?”

Swallowing hard, I gave a slight nod to the gnome. “I take it you know him,” I murmured quietly.

“We are well aware of the Nocen Necromancer,” the older, beautiful blue-skinned woman confirmed. Her voice sounded pained, like she was remembering something specific and personally tragic. “He has caused our people a great deal of pain. If he has your mother in his custody, you have my sympathy.”

The Rakshasa female straightened a little, nodding. “He is a monster of the worst kind. And–” she added after a thoughtful pause, “there have been reports that he has been accompanied by an unknown female here and there. Some even claimed this female was a Heretic, though none of those reports were ever truly taken seriously.” Meeting my gaze, she mused softly, “Perhaps they should have been.”

“It was probably her,” I agreed while trying not to think about the kind of stuff that Fossor would have taken my mother onto field trips for. “And he made her… he made her have a son with him. Ammon.”

“We know of the spawn,” the rocky Thing-like man grumbled with as much obvious anger as the Septs had shown at the name of Fossor. “His experiments with his abilities have ended many Alter lives. And those are the ones we consider to be fortunate. Suffice to say, the child is as monstrous as his father.”

“Wait, you’ve actually had Alters around that encountered Ammon enough to know about him?” I was surprised by that. My impression had been that Fossor didn’t let his son out that often, but if these guys knew enough just to recognize him by name, then he must have been more active than I’d thought.

Behind me, Asenath spoke. “How much do you know about him? I have a case that involves the boy.”

“A case, hmm?” the male vampire spoke up, his tone and posture making it clear like he found the whole concept incredibly amusing. “You sound like a real detective when you talk like that, Senny.”

The look that she shot back at him could have frozen magma. “And yet, you still don’t sound like an actual leader, Seth. Also, my friends call me Senny. Which means you will always call me Asenath.”

“Not friends?” the vampire, Seth apparently, lamented with raised arms. “We’re practically family. After your father saved my life at the Battle of Trenton, I might as well be your big, handsome brother.”

Whoa. Apparently there was history between the two of them. Quite a lot, it seemed like. This Seth guy was turned by Asenath’s father during what was probably the American Revolution, from the sound of it. And Asenath herself really didn’t like him very much, despite that connection. I wondered what had happened between them, and what Tiras himself would have thought of it. Hell, why had he chosen to save this single man and turn him into a vampire? What had drawn him to do something like that?

Senny looked like she was going to say something nasty back to Seth, but stopped herself. Instead, she forcibly turned away to focus on the other Septs. Her voice was hard. “You mentioned the boy.”

The centaur spoke up in his rough voice again. “Rumors that would appear to be more substantiated given the information you have already provided. They say that he appears to be a Heretic, but different. Those who have escaped him say that his… mind control ability is stronger than any they have ever encountered. Even those who should be immune to such effects are still vulnerable to it.”

“Yup, sounds like Ammon,” I muttered. “He was even able to affect a high level Heretic. Our security chief, actually. And you’d think if anyone would be stacking up anti-mind control powers, it’d be her.”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I paled and felt the sudden urge to smack myself very hard in the forehead. Or possibly lower. “I mean–” I winced, shaking my head. “Sorry. I just—she should have plenty of defense against being controlled, and it still affected her. That’s all I meant.”

From the looks I was getting, the Septs didn’t enjoy being reminded about the fact that Heretics essentially harvested powers from Alters that they killed. But none of them said anything. Not even Calvin, which was odd since I would’ve figured that he’d jump on any excuse to turn the rest of their opinions against us. Actually, he hadn’t really said much of anything since I’d started telling the story.

Finally, the blue woman interrupted the awkward silence that had settled over the room. “Your point is taken, Miss Chambers. It seems that in all of our experiences, the boy’s power is stronger than it should be.” She paused then before looking toward the Rakshasa. “Perhaps there was some truth to the rumor.”

“Rumor?” I blinked, looking back and forth between them. “There’s a rumor about Ammon’s power?”

Asenath suddenly started with obvious realization. “Denuvus,” she blurted. “They think it’s Denuvus.”

“Denuvus?” Shiori finally piped up, looking from her sister to the Septs and back again. “Who’s that?”

The gnome who answered in that high voice. “Denuvus was never more than a rumor. His existence was never, ever confirmed. You’re talking about a rumor about a rumor. It’s utterly unsubstantiated.”

“And yet,” the Rakshasa almost purred, “it would seem to fit quite well, would it not?” To the rest of us, she added, “Denuvus is—or possibly was– supposedly a boogeyman among both Alters and Heretics. Rumor had it that he was both. An Alter who became a Heretic. Or an Alter with the ability to gain powers from other Alters, like a Heretic. But his most powerful ability was the one he began with: his ability to control others through his voice. Even those he really shouldn’t have been able to control.”

“Like Ammon does,” I murmured before looking back over to her with a thoughtful frown. “But what do you mean, an Alter with Heretic powers? How is that possible? I mean, I assume he wasn’t just a Reaper or a Hangman. He wouldn’t be just a rumor then, so it’s gotta be something more than that.”

Seth spoke then, having lounged lazily back into his seat with one foot up on the arm of it. “Got that right. According to the rumors, whatever Denuvus was, it came with the most powerful mind control anyone ever saw. Nobody was safe. He told you to do something, you did it. All he had to do was-”

“Say his name,” I interrupted. “He introduced himself, and then everyone who heard it had to obey.”

There was a series of nods from the whole group, before the rock-guy took over the explanation. “According to the rumors, he had a Djinni under his control. They, ahhh, they say that he made the Djinni use her magic to merge him with a Reaper, so he could have its power. Sort of a homebrewed Heretic. So whatever he was with that mind control that worked on everyone, suddenly he was a hell of a lot more dangerous. And he killed Heretics and Alters alike. Didn’t care who they were as long as they gave him power. Like they said, kind of a boogeyman. Especially since he didn’t register as a Heretic to anyone that looked at him. Normally your kind are—well we know you by sight. Not him.”

Rocking back on my heels, I thought about that. “So now you think that Ammon… that he was…” Swallowing, I pushed on. “You think that Fossor made him a Heretic by taking this Denuvus guy’s blood. Maybe killing him, maybe not. The point is, you think Ammon’s a Heretic based on Denuvus.”

“And no one knows what he was before?” Shiori interrupted. “Denuvus, I mean. You don’t know what um, what species of Alter he is, or where his mind control power came from and why it’s so strong?”

There was a collection of shaking heads before Calvin finally spoke up for the first time. “You know, we’re saying an awful lot to these two when we don’t even know if we can trust them or not.”

“And I’m trusting all of you,” I shot back. “If certain people find out what I’ve told you, it won’t be hard for them to figure out where that information came from. And if that happens, well, we’re pretty screwed. All of us. Me, my friends, and especially Shiori.” Nodding toward the girl, I added, “What do you think the Heretics are going to do as soon as they find out that there are half-Alters among them?”

“The girl has a point,” the centaur allowed with a stomp of one of his hooves. “And these are not the sort of tactics that Heretics normally use. They would have to respect us as a civilization to bother with this kind of underhanded strategy. You don’t send someone to infiltrate an organization with a story that appeals to their compassion unless you believe that the organization you’re infiltrating has compassion. In my experience, Heretics would never even entertain such a notion, let alone build a plan around it.”

Calvin immediately shifted gears. “But the point remains, what do they want from us? And is providing it to them worth the risk that they pose? You heard the girl. Fossor is after her. Having her around attracts his attention and the Heretics. She’s got two different bullseyes on her from two really god damn scary sources. And that’s just the ones we know about. If you ask me, she’s too dangerous.”

The gnome gave Calvin a look before nodding once. “I’m not one to agree with the new Bebarlang, but he raises a fair point. What exactly do these two expect us to do now that they’ve told us their story? Are we expected to start another war against the Heretics, just because she says that her mother led the last one? Or will she instead insist that we aid her in rescuing her mother from the necromancer?”

“I don’t expect you to do anything,” I insisted. “I didn’t even know we were coming here today. But now that we are here, I just… I just want to be able to come and get information that I can’t get other places. Maybe later it can turn into something more. But right now, I’m just trying to be a student. I…” Biting my lip, I paused before going for it. “In less than a year, Fossor’s going to come for me too. I’m training to fight him, but—but I’m still just a teenager. I’ve barely been a Heretic for a few months. When he comes, it’ll be a year. That’s not enough. They’re teaching me, trying to help, but I’m afraid it’s still not enough. I need to learn more. I need to learn from sources that Fossor won’t plan for. I don’t expect you to help me fight him. But I would… I would like it if you could teach me to fight for myself. Teach me things that the Heretics won’t or can’t. Teach me things that Fossor might not know about.”

That made them whisper among themselves for a few seconds before the blue woman held a hand up to stop them while looking at us. “Miss Chambers and Miss Porter, we have been incredibly rude to you both in demanding answers without introducing ourselves. I am called Limnoreia. My people are known as Nereids.”

The rock-man gave a slight nod, clearly agreeing with her decision. “I am Stav, the Granakin.” Lifting his large hand, he indicated the others. “You already know Calvin, the Bebarlang. The Centaur’s name is Fennicus, the Rakshasa is Xi, Kimper is the Gnome. And, of course, the vampire is called Seth.”

Slowly looking down the line of them, I nodded with each name. “Calvin, Stav, Xi, Seth, Fennicus, Limnoreia, and Kimper. It’s a um, surprise to meet you today. But I uh, thanks. Thanks for listening.”

Clearly I didn’t exactly have the charisma of my mother in leading massive groups of both Alters and Heretics to follow her into a war. But at least they were paying attention and considering what we said.

“We would like to discuss what you’ve told us in private,” Limnoreia explained gently. “There are some other considerations to be made, and… well, quite frankly I would prefer you not have to stand there listening to our arguments. If you would like to continue looking around Wonderland while we discuss, you are welcome to do so. Quing will ensure that you are not accosted. Correct, Quing?”

The bird-man stepped forward before giving a sharp nod. He didn’t look happy about it, but he agreed. “Yes, Sept Limnoreia. They’ll be safe.” Pausing then, he added pointedly. “Just like everyone here.”

That bit was clearly meant as a warning to Shiori and me, but I let it roll off my back. I couldn’t blame him for his reaction, or his suspicions. Especially not after finding out about what he’d lost.

“Good,” the Rakshasa, Xi, gave a wave of her paw. “We will send for you after we’ve deliberated.”

So we left. Walking back past all those guards and out into the main mall, Asenath remained quiet until we were out. Then she looked at me. “Sorry. I know that probably felt a bit like an ambush. But I wanted whatever you said to come without sounding rehearsed. The Septs have ways of detecting lying, and sometimes rehearsed speeches come off as lying. It could be explained, but… I thought it was better if it came out completely naturally.”

“I guess I get that…” Biting my lip, I glanced to her. “But you didn’t know they had any information about Ammon?”

“I thought they might,” the vampire admitted. “But this was the best way to get it out of them without Seth sabotaging things because he thinks it’s amusing.”

Shiori raised a hand. “Um, what’s the deal between you two? Is he really… basically family?”

Asenath shook her head sharply. “No. Not–” She sighed. “Not exactly. He showed up after Papa left, said he was supposed to help take care of us. But he’s not exactly the ‘caretaker’ type. Whatever my father saw in him that made him save his life… I don’t know. He’s not a Nocen or anything, but he just… doesn’t take anything seriously. Everything is one big joke, and his world revolves around whatever amuses him the most at the time.”

I opened my mouth to say something else, but before I could actually speak, a sudden boom reverberated throughout the mall. It was followed almost immediately by another. They felt like earthquakes or small explosions.

“What th–” I got out before a hand abruptly grabbed my arm. Senny yanked me backward, moving so fast she was a blur. An instant later, a chunk of the ceiling slammed into the floor where I had just been standing. It had to weigh a couple hundred pounds, and hit with another boom.

There was a figure on top of the chunk of ceiling. Or rather, a body. What looked like a lizard man lay there, a gaping wound in his stomach and another in his throat.

“Pestel!” Quing took a step there, the horror and grief in his voice hitting me hard. “Our man on the roof. He–”

“Down!” Asenath grabbed me around the waist and leapt backward just before another huge chunk of the ceiling fell in right where I had been standing.

By that point, most of the Alters who had re-emerged were running for cover. I heard one of them scream that the Heretics were there and that it was all a trap. My mouth opened to try to shout something, anything. But before I could, something else fell from the ceiling.

Or rather…dropped. The figure landed easily on the same pile of debris that had just fallen, straightening with a shake of her head.

“Aww,” Pace lamented. “I really thought that one was gonna hit you. How rude.”

“Pace!” Eyes widening, I grabbed the staff from my hip, yanking it free. “What the hell-how did—what?”

Grinning, the crazy werewolf-heretic did a little spin. “Dear old Doxer’s really good at finding people.” She focused on me, her smile growing. “Peekaboo.”

“You made a mistake, Heretic,” Quing informed her, straightening away from the body of his subordinate. “You shouldn’t have come here.”

“You’re surrounded, Pace,” I managed through gritted teeth. I was trying not to stare too much at the choker that hid her werewolf status from my Heretic-sense. “I don’t know what you thought you were gonna do here, but–”

“Surrounded?” Pace echoed, as if the thought had only just occurred to her. “Huh. Surrounded. That was dumb. I guess I shouldn’t have come by myself.” Pausing, her head tilted slowly, that manic smile returning. “Oh yeah.”

She snapped her fingers, and an instant later, there were over a dozen more figures falling through the holes in the ceiling, all the way past the railings around the other two floors. They landed all around us, large figures that were growing bigger and hairier by the second. Werewolves. There were over a dozen werewolves surrounding us, while Pace gave that chaotic laugh.

She wasn’t alone. She had brought her pack with her.

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26 comments

  1. Well, this is clearly going swimmingly, isn’t it? -_-

    Hope you guys enjoyed that little chapter, and the hints about where Ammon’s power comes from. I figured it was time to explain a little bit of that. Or at least… start to. 😀 More on that front soon enough, I promise. But for now, well, Flick’s a bit distracted. Understandably.

    Later on this week we should have one more (so far) quick little mini-interlude that was commissioned: 500 words focusing on Avalon and Gaia after that certain liiiiiiiiiitttle kiss. So that should be fun.

    Other than that, we’ll see you back for the regular chapter on Friday! Where we will see how… well, how this goes.

    Oh, and before I forget, for those of you who like to use this comment to click over and vote on Top Web Fiction (which I love you guys for!) you can do so by clicking right here

    Tags for this chapter are: Asenath, Calvin, Felicity Chambers, Fennicus, Flick, Kimper, Limnoreia, Look On the Bright Side – Flick. At Least This Is A Chance To Prove You Protect Alters Too., Oh Good – The Crazy Chick Is Back In The Story. Maybe Now I Can Settle On Whether Her Name Is Pace Or Pacer., Pace, Quing, Seth, Shiori Porter, Stav, Xi

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  2. Okay, so Seth and Tiras were almost certainly in Malcolm Harkess’s vision at the beginning of the story, the genie this Denuvus guy supposedly had under his control was most likely Nevada, and this is going to put a serious damper on further relations.

    Calvin’s points were entirely valid concerns, and the werewolves prove the second one because they seem to be here for Flick. She really does have a lot of targets on her back. But at least this means there’s a good chance Flick will get Pace’s necklace for Roxa (which, considering my theory for why Pace is with Lemuel’s pack, might eventually make me sad).

    Look On the Bright Side – Flick. At Least This Is A Chance To Prove You Protect Alters Too.

    Yeah, this too. Quing I’m particular I can see going either way, either the attack will make him more hostile to Flick and Shiori, or seeing them fight for Wonderland will lessen it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Okay, so Seth and Tiras were almost certainly in Malcolm Harkess’s vision at the beginning of the story

      It was indeed a (long-awaited) reference to that. I wondered if anyone would remember one of the students having a vision about vampire redcoats.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Out of curiosity, is Seth the Tiebreaker? I doubt a guy like him would get elected or chosen, but winning his position through battle seems more likely.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Out of curiosity, is Seth the Tiebreaker? I doubt a guy like him would get elected or chosen, but winning his position through battle seems more likely.

        Yes. His name is Seth Dozeran. Or at least that’s the name he’s using at the moment. He’s the one that took Namythiet as his apprentice.

        Edit: On a sidenote, his first name was originally going to be Dozeran, but I decided I wanted a more normal name for him. Also, I didn’t want to do the whole Deveron/Dozeran thing.

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      1. I’m reasonably confidant that attacking Wonderland and killing a guard will qualify Lemuel’s pack as Nocen to most. Especially since Pace, who Quing immediately recognized as a Heretic herself, is leading the charge.

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  3. Swimmingly, as in water jokes regarding the boatload of trouble that just dropped in their lap, sure 😀 on the subject of creating trouble, would we be allowed some more sneak peaks as to the limitations Djinn have? Because the process described is kinda scary in the light of a not so nice Heretic maybe getting their hands one

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    1. on the subject of creating trouble, would we be allowed some more sneak peaks as to the limitations Djinn have? Because the process described is kinda scary in the light of a not so nice Heretic maybe getting their hands one

      Oh, I’m sure we’ll see more of how the Djinn stuff works soon enough. 😉

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  4. On the one hand, I’m seriously beginning to wonder what is WRONG with Pace (That’s rhetorical, I’m aware that the answer would require an exceptionally long list), but on the other, this isn’t the worst case scenario I envisioned when the attack started.

    A werewolf pack invasion lead by a (psychotic)Heretic is bad, but my first worry was that it was a group of Crossroads Heretics, who could utterly obliterate Wonderland and cause MAJOR problems for F&S if they recognised them as Crossroads students.

    I’d forgotten that Malcolm’s Edge Vision had featured vampire redcoats and I’d somehow failed to make the connection between them and Tiras being around in that time period. I sincerely hope that his name wasn’t mentioned in the vision or Malcolm could cause significant troubles for Dare.

    It’s a bit off-topic, but I was thinking that Flick should take up her Dad’s suggestion of starting a school newspaper. It would allow her to make connections and establish herself some influence within Crossroads if it worked. Ruthers would almost certainly stomp on it, but recruiting some other students into it could get around that provided she didn’t seem to be running the show. Mostly though I was thinking about what a pity it was that something that constituted a fair bit of her ambitions at the beginning dropped out of view (mostly) before we got a chance to see if Flick was as persuasive a writer as she is at talking people around to her point of view. I understand that journalism has been massively overshadowed by conspiracies and assassination plots by this point and Flick’s motivations for doing it have been channeled into her studies (can’t remember the exact chapter she talks about it). Just a passing thought though.

    Also, before I forget, I was rereading through the series again, keeping an eye open for any further clues about Professor Pericles killer and a few things stood out.

    Firstly, all of the assassination attempts on Avalon have tried to abduct her first or kill her in an indirect manner (death during childbirth, drowning while paralysed, eaten by Peridles, murdered by angry Gardeners etc.). This would seem to imply that if her death was traced back to her killer then it would interfere with their ability to claim Bosch’s inheritance. That or they’re scared that if the link is too direct Gaia and Seller will annihilate them before they have a chance. But, to go back to Prof. Pericles, in 13-07 the person talking to the terrible trio didn’t say they killed Pericles. Instead, the exchange was :

    “Pericles?” Doxer put in. “I thought he was six feet under already.”

    “He should’ve been,” the voice snapped. “Especially considering everything I did to make sure of it.”

    We know, from Word of Cerulean, that if a Heretic kills another Heretic then they get more or less the same response as if they had killed an Alter (fitting considering that they ARE Alters). In other words, they would know for CERTAIN if Pericles was dead, and with the pretty massive boost that I’d imagine would come with killing one of Crossroads strongest it’d be hard to mistake. But they don’t say they killed them, they just say that they made sure he was dead. Flick has already wondered, back in the Meregan arc, how indirect a kill can be before it’s no longer considered their kill. And this is how its relevant. There are plenty of reasons why a Heretic would want to avoid killing Pericles directly, the most obvious being that it’d be too risky to show such a sudden power boost just after Pericles had died. Gaia would be suspicious. The Runners would be on the lookout. But that same logic shouldn’t apply to Avalon, whose power is almost insignificant compared to the strength displayed by the assassin on the cruise ship. It’s a mystery. If they were in a position to paralyse Avalon and try to drown her, they were in a position to just take her head off. But they didn’t.

    Secondly, also from 13-07, we have the trio’s contact say that they can only be in Eden’s Garden while “she” is asleep, and that they have to be there when she awakes. At this point I’m tempted to start theorising about Heretic with possession powers, but as I’ve previously stated, down that path lies madness. There are only a few females at Crossroads that they could be referring to. I doubt that it’s Gaia or Avalon herself, as they are at the center of the whole affair. I think Dare and Flick can be eliminated as neither of them sleep for long enough for anyone to risk them waking in their absence. Nevada only showed up after Pericles had been killed and is too closely trusted. I think Kohaku is accounted for during at least two of the attempts on Avalon (the drowning and the cruise ship) so she’s likewise dismissed. Tangle has been comatose and examined by many experts, so I think we can safely say that nobody would be in a rush to be back before she wakes up. Which leaves… actually I don’t know who it leaves, I’m just throwing out a few inconsistencies that I’d noticed.

    Getting tired now, so thank you for the chapter and very much looking forward to the next Minilude 🙂

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    1. It’s a bit off-topic, but I was thinking that Flick should take up her Dad’s suggestion of starting a school newspaper. It would allow her to make connections and establish herself some influence within Crossroads if it worked. Ruthers would almost certainly stomp on it, but recruiting some other students into it could get around that provided she didn’t seem to be running the show. Mostly though I was thinking about what a pity it was that something that constituted a fair bit of her ambitions at the beginning dropped out of view (mostly) before we got a chance to see if Flick was as persuasive a writer as she is at talking people around to her point of view. I understand that journalism has been massively overshadowed by conspiracies and assassination plots by this point and Flick’s motivations for doing it have been channeled into her studies (can’t remember the exact chapter she talks about it). Just a passing thought though.

      Oh don’t worry, that’ll pop up again. I just didn’t want to rush into it, and there’s a lot going on. Look for something to come into play likely in the second semester.

      Also, before I forget, I was rereading through the series again, keeping an eye open for any further clues about Professor Pericles killer and a few things stood out.

      Firstly, all of the assassination attempts on Avalon have tried to abduct her first or kill her in an indirect manner (death during childbirth, drowning while paralysed, eaten by Peridles, murdered by angry Gardeners etc.). This would seem to imply that if her death was traced back to her killer then it would interfere with their ability to claim Bosch’s inheritance. That or they’re scared that if the link is too direct Gaia and Seller will annihilate them before they have a chance. But, to go back to Prof. Pericles, in 13-07 the person talking to the terrible trio didn’t say they killed Pericles. Instead, the exchange was :

      “Pericles?” Doxer put in. “I thought he was six feet under already.”

      “He should’ve been,” the voice snapped. “Especially considering everything I did to make sure of it.”

      We know, from Word of Cerulean, that if a Heretic kills another Heretic then they get more or less the same response as if they had killed an Alter (fitting considering that they ARE Alters). In other words, they would know for CERTAIN if Pericles was dead, and with the pretty massive boost that I’d imagine would come with killing one of Crossroads strongest it’d be hard to mistake. But they don’t say they killed them, they just say that they made sure he was dead. Flick has already wondered, back in the Meregan arc, how indirect a kill can be before it’s no longer considered their kill. And this is how its relevant. There are plenty of reasons why a Heretic would want to avoid killing Pericles directly, the most obvious being that it’d be too risky to show such a sudden power boost just after Pericles had died. Gaia would be suspicious. The Runners would be on the lookout. But that same logic shouldn’t apply to Avalon, whose power is almost insignificant compared to the strength displayed by the assassin on the cruise ship. It’s a mystery. If they were in a position to paralyse Avalon and try to drown her, they were in a position to just take her head off. But they didn’t.

      Secondly, also from 13-07, we have the trio’s contact say that they can only be in Eden’s Garden while “she” is asleep, and that they have to be there when she awakes. At this point I’m tempted to start theorising about Heretic with possession powers, but as I’ve previously stated, down that path lies madness. There are only a few females at Crossroads that they could be referring to. I doubt that it’s Gaia or Avalon herself, as they are at the center of the whole affair. I think Dare and Flick can be eliminated as neither of them sleep for long enough for anyone to risk them waking in their absence. Nevada only showed up after Pericles had been killed and is too closely trusted. I think Kohaku is accounted for during at least two of the attempts on Avalon (the drowning and the cruise ship) so she’s likewise dismissed. Tangle has been comatose and examined by many experts, so I think we can safely say that nobody would be in a rush to be back before she wakes up. Which leaves… actually I don’t know who it leaves, I’m just throwing out a few inconsistencies that I’d noticed.

      Iiiiinteresting thoughts. 🙂

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  5. Have a theory about how one of Wyatt’s enchantments on Avalon works, that would explain why her would-be assassins are always going for the abduction, then murder later. What if Wyatt has essentially turned Avalon into the metaphysical equivalent of a bank anti-theft dye pack? As in: If someone kills her, they’re magically “tagged” in a way that’s prohibitively difficult to eliminate. Wyatt’s all about the redundancies, so surely he’s considered (and planned for) the eventuality where he fails to keep Avalon alive. Having failed, the next step is making sure the killer goes down for it.

    Alternatively, the assassins being able to detect (but not easily remove) such an enchantment on Avalon is a deterrent against killing her in and of itself (at least for some killers it would be).

    I don’t have anything to substantiate this, but I believe the plot to get into Bosch’s/Avalon’s vault stems almost entirely from Eden’s Garden. They may have people in Crossroads, as the perdidle incident confirms, but the initial thrust came at Avalon while she was a Gardener. I think their entire plan started to spiral when Gaia swooped back in and oomphed Avalon into Crossroads. (I mean look at that cruise ship assassin. He/She was a SERIOUS sign of escalation on the part of the conspirators. Rapid escalation isn’t something one usually associates with conspiracies going even somewhat according to plan.)

    I mean tampering with explosives that could theoretically have gotten an entire first-year Team killed, in such a way the Crossroads administration would know it for the foul play it was? (The explosives were checked by a track leader just before the Hunt.) Nobody whose conspiracy is even remotely on track wants the Big Wigs nosing around what just amounted to an anti-Crossroads terrorist attack.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “She’s got two different bullseyes on her from two really god damn scary sources. And that’s just the ones we know about.”

    Is it foreshadowing if the hammer drops half a chapter later?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Was wondering when the other shoe was going to drop with trouble Flick once again during this arc, and here it is, as Pace and her some her pack of werewolves decide to once again go after Flick, being so bold as to directly attack Wonderland. Wonder if any of her fellow psychos are joining in? As I’m sure there are a decent number of combat-capable Alters there, curious as to just what else Pace has in store.

    Wonder just how much damage this attack will do, as well as how it might complicate Flick’s plan to build a bridge to the Alters? Though on the upside, Flick fighting another Heretic to protect Alters might be a positive in that regard, and there’s a chance that Flick might be able to snag a certain necklace to give to Roxa for a Christmas present. And there’s certainly a few werewolves who could use an introduction to the Buddy System right about now.

    Though if things get sideways enough for Flick to have to ask for help, or trip one of the alarms Wyatt & the rest of the staff probably put on her, she’s going to have a heck of a time explaining this.

    Interesting, but not surprised that the Septs would know about Fossor, and that he’s been a real thorn in the side of the Alter community as well.

    Then the Septers are able to fill in a few blanks on how Ammon was made, and they, in turn, learned some stuff about him, even if Flick did have a bit of foot-in-mouth issue when telling them what she new about Ammon. And considering that Fossor possibly made Ammon what he was by burying him with the blood of Denuvus, who scared the crap out of a lot of people with his mind-control abilities, which included forcing a Djinn (Nevada?) to merge him with a Reaper, effectively giving himself the abilities of a Bosch-type Heretic- if that is indeed the case, could Ammon gain more powers through killing the right sort of individuals? (As if he wasn’t bad enough as it was…. o_O)

    Though wonder if we’ll get to see Flick & Asenath trading notes on Ammon.

    And the Septs having some sort of lie detector is a useful thing to happen- wonder if it’s something Flick could pick up, and if so, how?

    Maybe Now I Can Settle On Whether Her Name Is Pace Or Pacer.

    I’d stick with Pace, since ‘Pacer’ can refer either to an odd-looking AMC hatchback from the ’70s, or the electronic case records system used by Federal courts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As I’m sure there are a decent number of combat-capable Alters there, curious as to just what else Pace has in store.

      Probably very not fun things.

      And there’s certainly a few werewolves who could use an introduction to the Buddy System right about now.

      They’ll get a crash course in it. 😀

      I’d stick with Pace, since ‘Pacer’ can refer either to an odd-looking AMC hatchback from the ’70s, or the electronic case records system used by Federal courts.

      lol, yeaaaaaah. It’s supposed to be Pace, but I keep finding places where I said Pacer instead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Heh, I’ve played entirely too much Fallout New Vegas, because I associate Pacer with the name of the 2IC of The Kings.

        I knew I knew that name from somewhere!

        Like

  8. “But his most powerful ability was the one he began with: his ability to control others through his voice. Even those he really shouldn’t have been able to control.”

    “Like Ammon does,” I murmured before looking back over to her with a thoughtful frown. “But what do you mean, an Alter with Heretic powers? How is that possible? I mean, I assume he wasn’t just a Reaper or a Hangman. He wouldn’t be just a rumor then, so it’s gotta be something more than that.””
    Me: Hmm. Some possible insight into Ammon’s birth/creation?

    “She wasn’t alone. She had brought her pack with her.”
    Me: Rather brazen of her. On the other hand, a chance to take them all down at once and maybe get some answers (though if she is as cracked in the head as I suspect I am not expecting much coherent from her).

    Liked by 2 people

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