The Third Degree 21-03

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Two days after finding out a bit more about just how far the Crossroads and Eden’s Garden rivalry went, I was sitting out on the beach a decent distance away from the school with my feet in the water. The sun was setting over the horizon, sending a beautiful array of colors across the ocean’s surface that took my breath away and left me staring in awe for a few seconds whenever I looked up. Even after living on the island for several months, I still couldn’t get over just how gorgeous the scenery could be sometimes.

For a moment, I wondered what my mom had thought of the place when she’d stayed here. Had it been this beautiful to her? When she… left, when she started her rebellion, did she miss these sights? How many times had she sat out here on this same beach–maybe even this same spot, and watched the ocean? The buildings might change, be upgraded, have the furniture moved around, and whatever, but the beach didn’t. Okay, yeah, technically the sand would be all different from being washed in and out. But the point was that this was the same beach she would have stood on. The ocean was the same ocean she would have looked at and swum in. The… this was my mother’s school. Sometimes it just hit me that way, out of nowhere and for no well-explained reason: this was my mother’s school. This had been her home for… for so long. This was a connection to her that I had never known about.

In the present, we were separated by distance, but not time. In the past, we were separated by time, but not distance. Sitting here, looking at the water, I could almost feel my mother sitting in the same place. I could close my eyes and imagine her beside me. Younger than I knew her, but there. I could almost feel her presence, my hand curling through the sand with the half-expectation of finding hers. Just a little more, my fingers slid out slowly. I could feel her. Almost. Almost.

I found empty sand. And as my eyes opened, I had to blink a few times to clear away the wetness.

I wasn’t stupid or crazy. Well, okay, sometimes I could be both. But in this case, I’d known she wasn’t there, obviously. It was just… a nice daydream sometimes. Honestly, what were daydreams other than hope? And if I gave up on hope, well… then I might as well give up on life.

Some might have said that imagining myself sitting next to my mother-as-a-student while the two of us  were separated by around a hundred years was childish. But if it was, I didn’t care. I’d rather be childish than ever really give up on those kind of dreams, that kind of hope.

Shaking those feelings off for the moment, however, I returned my attention to the thing that I was actually working on. The block of wood in my lap was covered in runes. I had spent about half an hour carefully drawing the runes while repeatedly checking each against the book beside me. After that, I’d spent at least another twenty minutes gradually investing power in the thing.

So almost an hour to get this far. Obviously, the theriangelos spell, the one that my mother had used to send that monkey to me and that Gaia had been teaching me, wasn’t meant to be done quickly. The headmistress said I’d get faster with it over time. But even then, like most spells that Heretics used, it was never going to be very fast. The best thing to do would be to do several ahead of time, get them almost done, then carry them around and add the last bit when I actually wanted to use the spell. Which was apparently what most Heretics did with spells they liked.

And hey, at least I’d figured out the best way to gradually invest power in the spell over an extended period so that when I actually cast the spell for real, it only took a little bit to finish.

After checking over the finished product fully for the fifth time, just to make absolutely sure that I hadn’t messed anything up, I was finally satisfied. Turning the page in my notebook to the actual spell,  I took a breath before beginning to recite it. I’d gotten better at the pronunciation and speaking quickly without stumbling over the words (mostly from repeated practice without actually using it on a completed block), but it still took a good forty seconds to say the whole thing even with everything else done. I couldn’t even imagine how many attempts it would take to do that in the middle of an actual stressful situation instead of on a calm beach without any distractions.   

Eventually, I finished without messing anything up. As the last word left my mouth, I felt the spell take the last bit of power that I needed from me. Even with as much as I had primed the spell throughout the past half-hour, I still felt little bit dizzy for just a second before my head cleared.

The wood was already floating off my lap, creating a bright red and gold glow that filled the air. As the glow faded, I could see my newly-created fox sitting there in the sand, looking at me.

And just like the other times that I’d cast the spell (always in Gaia’s presence), I also saw myself through the fox’s eyes. And smelled myself through its nose, along with the nearby ocean. Not to mention how much I could hear. Wow. Doing this outside was a lot different from being inside Gaia’s office. The fox could hear, smell, and see so much that I couldn’t even come close to noticing. The sound of the ocean waves, the smell of the plants and animals in the jungle behind me, even the noise that some of the other students who were so far down the beach that they were barely visible were making. Through the fox’s senses, I could pick up all of it and a lot more.

Closing my eyes, I focused on shutting out the input from my own body and on experiencing things through the fox. For a few long seconds, I didn’t make her move or do anything but sit there. I was still just letting myself grow accustomed to everything I could sense out here.

I’d done it. Oh god, I’d actually done it. I’d pulled it off. Yes, it’d taken what was probably over an hour by that point, but I’d actually managed to cast the theriangelos spell without messing up, and without Gaia standing right behind me, supplying her power and watching over the whole thing.

Once I was relatively sure that I’d gotten accustomed enough to experiencing the fox’s senses, I focused on starting to move. First, I made her move from a sitting position to standing on all four feet. Telling myself it was just like when I’d made the fox run around Gaia’s office, I got her to walk around me. The feel of the sand against her paws with each step was just as distracting as all of her other senses, and I found myself lifting one paw, letting the sand run through it, then lifting the other. God, it was just… it was amazing. Ridiculously amazing. I’d used magic to create a fox that I was now controlling. How–just–how could I ever get used to that kind of thing? Honestly, I hoped I didn’t. The wonder that I felt in that moment, as I looked through my fox’s eyes to see the sand running through her raised paw to fall back to the ground, I wanted to feel forever.

Eventually, I managed to focus and started walking the fox around my body. Gradually moving it up into a trot, I got her to run in circles around me, kicking up a small cloud of sand in the process. The wet sand under her paws, the water itself as the waves rose, the wind on her snout as she ran faster, they were all more sensations to get accustomed to while being outside like this.

After letting myself get accustomed to that,  I sent the fox away from me a short distance off the beach and into the jungle. Not far, just enough that we weren’t right next to each other, and so that I could practice depending on her senses in an area that I wasn’t actually in. I wanted to get used to experiencing things purely through the fox without my own body’s normal input.  

It took a bit, since it was a lot like trying to pay attention to one television show while a different one was playing in the same room. But keeping my body’s eyes closed helped. Then it was more like watching one television show while a radio played in the background. Still distracting, but better. And from what Gaia had said, there were some Heretics who actually gained the right powers to be able to control their own animal while simultaneously engaging in actions of their own. Sitting there like that, with my eyes closed tight so that I could focus on what the fox was seeing, I couldn’t even imagine being able to do that. But then, it hadn’t been that long ago that I wouldn’t have been able to imagine using magic to create a fox out of wood to begin with.

I probably would have kept playing around with the fox in the jungle for a lot longer,  but I was interrupted by the sound of a phone ringing. I was so disoriented in that moment that I can’t understand why a phone was ringing in the middle of the jungle. It took me a few seconds, and a couple more rings, to realize that I was hearing the phone in my own pocket, back with my body

Shaking off the disorienting feeling, I opened my own eyes while shutting the fox’s so that I could focus. Digging for the phone, I found that it was actually the other one. It was the private phone, the one that didn’t show up on the Crossroads security logs or in their recordings.

After checking the number, I tapped the button to answer the call. “Seth?”

“Well hey there, my second-favorite Heretic,” his voice drawled casually. “Sorry, you’re right up there, but I kinda gotta give first favorite to the little half-sis. You know how it is with family.”  

“It’s fine,” I assured him, not wanting to get into all that. “Did you get the meeting set up?”

There was a brief pause before he asked, “You sure we can talk about it just like that? From what I hear, that school of yours isn’t exactly super-trusting. I might not be the only Big Brother around.”

“Like I said,” I assured the older vampire, “they can’t hear anything that goes through this phone. It bypasses Crossroads security. We’re good. So like I said, did you get the meeting set up?”

“Hey, it’s me.” His voice was a mixture of smug and teasing. He worked the very edge of the line between confident and arrogant, like he knew just how far to push. “I said I’d get the meeting set up, and now it’s done. You got a piece of paper to write down the nitty-gritty details?”

“Yeah, hang on.” Picking up my notebook with the spell written in it, I flipped to a blank page and set it back on the sand before taking the pencil. “Okay, go ahead.”

“Meeting’s set for three weeks from now,” Seth began. “Yeah, yeah, I know. You wanted it to be sooner, but he’s a busy man. Well, not a man, but you know what I mean. He’s busy. That was the earliest time I could make him agree to, without raising his suspicions. And I doubt you want his suspicions raised. So three weeks. That’s Friday, February ninth at six p.m. He was trying to push for the morning, but I figured that’d interfere with your schooling. And we do want you to grow up to be a great little Heretic, now don’t we? Gotta get that learning in. So six p.m. it is.”   

“February ninth, six p.m., I got it.” Writing that down, I asked, “Where’re we meeting this guy?”

“Sudsy’s,” the response came. “It’s an old motel in Ashland, Oregon. Little town right off I-5 about fifteen miles north of the California border. It’s a great little place to visit. They’ve got this Shakespeare Festival you should check out. It should be starting about the time you get over there. First time I went was in 1947. That was the first year they had it since the second world war. And let me tell you, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Honestly. And that’s saying a lot.”

Raising an eyebrow, I asked, “Are you moonlighting as a tourism director now, Mr. Tiebreaker?”

There was amusement in his voice. “Hey, gotta pay the bills somehow, don’t I? Don’t always have super-special Heretics-in-training offering thirty thousand dollars to set up meetings with nasty shark-mercs. Anyway, Ashland, Oregon. Sudsy’s. Six p.m. February Ninth. Got all that?”  

“Yeah,” I confirmed. “I got it. Thanks, Seth. You’re a lifesaver. There was no way someone like Fahsteth was gonna agree to a meeting with a Heretic, and Senny says she and Twister have the kind of reputation that he stays away from. So like I said, thanks. We’ll get the money to you. ”

Pausing then, I bit my lip before asking, “Have you heard anything from Namythiet or Roxa yet?” I was pretty sure that we would’ve heard from the latter long before he did, but still. I was nervous about how long it was taking, and wanted to know what was going on out there. And I really, really wanted to be sure that they weren’t underestimating Pace and her pack. If anything happened to Mateo, Roxa, or…well, any of them, I didn’t know if I’d be able to forgive myself for sending them.

“Sorry, kid,” Seth replied. “Nothing to report. I mean, the plucky pixie’s checked in, sure. But I’m pretty sure I don’t have any news that they didn’t already tell you. They’re still out there looking.”

Sighing in spite of myself, I nodded. “Thanks anyway. And like I said, thanks for setting that up.”

His voice was smooth. “No problem. I mean, just enough of a problem to warrant that cash you promised, but no more than that. Unless you’ve got some kind of bonus in mind if it was just a–”

“Bye, Seth.” Shaking my head, I disconnected the call before picking myself up. Staring down at the notebook with the date and place of the meeting with Fahsteth, I started to wander back up the beach toward the school.

Before I reached the school however, I remembered the whole reason that I’d been out there. The reason that I could still sort-of half feel the dirt and leaves beneath my feet even though I was walking on sand. Right, the fox. I’d left her sitting there with her eyes closed and had been working to tune out everything from her throughout that call to the point that I had briefly forgotten about her.

Focusing briefly, I opened the fox’s eyes and looked around. It was almost tempting to just dismiss the spell. But honestly, I had worked on it for too long. I kind of wanted to bring her back so I could at least keep the wood, even if I had to redo the whole spell all over again. I… felt connected to it.

Not as connected as I was to the trusty rock in my pocket, of course. No piece of wood could replace Herbie. But still, leaving the fox out there in the jungle to just disappear when the spell faded felt wrong. So I kept control of it, guiding the fox back through the trees to the beach. Then I’d just run her up the beach straight to where I was waiting.

Or at least, that was the plan. But when the fox was just passing the last tree before hitting sand, she… I, rather, saw a figure straight ahead. A figure right where I had just been sitting.

Making the fox freeze and crouch down a bit,  I stared at the figure. It was dark enough by that point that I wouldn’t even have been able to see them at all from that distance with my own eyes, or hear them with my own ears. But I wasn’t using my eyes or ears. The fox could see and hear much better than I could.

It was a woman. I couldn’t make out any real details, but I could tell that much. She had dark skin and short hair that was pale enough to be white. She definitely wasn’t a teacher. I may not have known all the upper-grade instructors that well, but I did know enough that I would’ve recognized her. I’d never seen her before in my life.

“Fahsteth,” the unfamiliar woman muttered. Her voice was distorted, like I was hearing things while my head was underwater. Either I wasn’t used to using the fox’s hearing yet and that was throwing me off,  or she was distorting her voice somehow, magically muffling it in a way that the fox could mostly hear through. Whatever it was, I could barely make out what she was saying.

“She has a meeting with Fahsteth. Find him. No, I don’t care how upset he is. I know he said he wouldn’t take any more calls. I’m not asking you to hire him. I’m telling you to track him down. Make sure he can’t tell them anything. Shut his mouth. Permanently if you need to. Just do it. He’s a lead they can’t be allowed to have.”

She was moving, walking away from where I had been sitting and back toward the school, the same way I had gone. “Find him and kill him, before I have to do something drastic to slow this human bitch down. No more excuses, just get it done. Or you can explain your failure to Manakel.

“That’s what I thought. Deal with him. I have to get back to the body before anyone finds it. No, this doesn’t mean she suspects anything. She didn’t tell anyone about it. Probably to stop them from talking her out of it. I promise you, the Chambers child trusts me. And so do her little girlfriends. Well, not me

“But they certainly trust my host.”

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  1. Well… that happened, huh? Now to find out what Flick does with that little bit of information. But hey, at least I was nice enough to let Flick know that Avalon and Shiori are safe. That’s something, right?

    Anyway, if you liked this chapter and are enjoying this story in general, I would really appreciate it if you could take the time to click right here in order to cast a vote on Top Web Fiction. If you’ve already done it in the past, remember that the votes reset every week. And thanks, both for voting if you choose to do so, and for reading!

    Tags for this chapter were: Charmeine, Felicity Chambers, Flick, Oh Come On – As Soon As She Sent The Fox Out You Knew It Was Gonna Overhear Something., Seth, Well Flick Was Just Given A Hard Shove Into Wyatt-Brand Paranoia.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. First, I made her move from a sitting position standing on all four feet.

      Typo: missing the word ‘to’ between ‘position’ and ‘standing’

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh. Charmeine. You just made a big mistake. Flick may not know your name, but she knows that your possessing someone that she, Avalon and Shori are close too.

    This is the beginning of your downfall and the down of Seostein.

    Thanks for updating and please turn this into a Netflix show.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Huh. I wonder why she left Columbus to make that message.

    Interesting that Fahsteth isn’t taking their calls anymore. He’s gonna be pissed when that meeting rolls around.


    1. Huh. I wonder why she left Columbus to make that message.

      Didn’t want Columbus to register as not being on the grounds. Which should probably open up some other questions.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Okay, Flick, here’s what you do next: Go grab Avalon and Shiori then get a private meeting with Gaia. Then explain the situation and use that contact number Prosser gave you, because if “one of the members of my conspiracy is possessed” isn’t cause, then I’m not sure what is. Cerulean has stated on either SB or SV that it is very difficult to tell if someone is Seosten-possessed, but they’re bound to have procedures and protocols for dealing with it and Gabriel is almost guaranteed to have some sort of equivalent to Petan’s protection, which I think was stated on one of the fora to also be able to uncover possessed people. And while she’s at it, send notice to Fahsteth via Seth that he’s being hunted down.

    Okay, it’s going to be more complex than that, but I can see Flick pursuing a course of action like that. From her perspective, the people in Crossroads trusted by her, Avalon and Shiori are: Sean, Columbus, Sands, Scout, Vanessa(limited), Tristan, Koren, Wyatt, Deveron, Herbie, Dare and Gaia. Provided she makes the connection between Charmeine, the Seosten and the Avalon plot, she can reasonably remove Wyatt, Dare and Gaia from the equation due to Wyatt already stimying several attempts, Dare’s actions on the ship and Gaia… being Gaia. Seriously, if Gaia had been compromised then Avalon would be long gone. Tristan can also probably be considered safe by virtue of being with Nicholas Petan for several years and likely already warded against possession.

    If Flick can get her hands on an anti-Seosten from Gabriel, Petan or someone, she should pass it on to Wyatt to be improved. I would be honestly surprised, no, absolutely shocked, if Wyatt hasn’t already researched such measures.

    In other news, I think we can say that Flick is now significantly ahead of her class in spellcasting ability with her successful casting of Theriangelos. That said, we don’t know much about the mechanics of HE spells or the Crossroads curriculum to be certain. And I suspect that “able to use specific advanced spell with practice and tutoring” is rather distinct from “highly skilled with magic”. Her magical stamina is probably much higher though.

    Incidentally, if anyone from Doug’s team was listening in on that phone conversation, and I’m convinced that they are trying to spy on her, they must be absolutely convinced that she’s an EG spy. Actually, that’s my personal headcanon on what they think of her until Cerualean says otherwise.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. tearlessnevermore:
      Okay, it’s going to be more complex than that, but I can see Flick pursuing a course of action like that. From her perspective, the people in Crossroads trusted by her, Avalon and Shiori are: Sean, Columbus, Sands, Scout, Vanessa(limited), Tristan, Koren, Wyatt, Deveron, Herbie, Dare and Gaia. Provided she makes the connection between Charmeine, the Seosten and the Avalon plot, she can reasonably remove Wyatt, Dare and Gaia from the equation due to Wyatt already stimying several attempts, Dare’s actions on the ship and Gaia… being Gaia. Seriously, if Gaia had been compromised then Avalon would be long gone. Tristan can also probably be considered safe by virtue of being with Nicholas Petan for several years and likely already warded against possession.

      Me: Actually there’s another reason she can remove Gaia, Dare, and Wyatt from the suspects list; they all knew about the deal to contact Falsteth already.

      Oh and Hendy? I suspect the reason she left Columbus’ body for this is that she has an easier time concealing herself when she doesn’t need to hide her host as well, (or maybe it’s a power of the Seosten.that doesn’t transfer to/affect their hosts) She was close enough to listen in on Flick’s side of the conversation but hidden somehow so that Flick didn’t notice her with either her own or the Fox’s senses.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. #TeamTearlessnevermore

      Awesome plan and logic, if I am ever in some kind of magical world ending crisis I would definitely want you on my side :p


  5. Hm, Flick’s daydreaming about her mother in her younger student days? I wouldn’t say her feelings/thoughts regarding that matter are childish, but she needs to keep devoting focus to findings ways to avoid Fossor’s plots, else the only way she’ll see her mother face to face again will likely be as his thrall/prisoner.

    ““She has a meeting with Fahsteth. Find him. No, I don’t care how upset he is. I know he said he wouldn’t take any more calls. I’m not asking you to hire him. I’m telling you to track him down. Make sure he can’t tell them anything. Shut his mouth. Permanently if you need to. Just do it. He’s a lead they can’t be allowed to have.”

    She was moving, walking away from where I had been sitting and back toward the school, the same way I had gone. “Find him and kill him, before I have to do something drastic to slow this human bitch down. No more excuses, just get it done. Or you can explain your failure to Manakel.

    “That’s what I thought. Deal with him. I have to get back to the body before anyone finds it. No, this doesn’t mean she suspects anything. She didn’t tell anyone about it. Probably to stop them from talking her out of it. I promise you, the Chambers child trusts me. And so do her little girlfriends. Well, not me.

    “But they certainly trust my host.”

    Me: Ah. So the Seosten possessing Columbus is getting a little uneasy/panicked about Flick’s activities. Certainly is acting rashly, which has a decent possibility of backfiring on her.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It was totally time for Flick to discover the Seosten involvement – especially since we found out about it in the interlude. But I can’t help but think this is too forced and… easy.

    Forced, in that I can’t believe the seosten’s anti-eavesdropping measures are as easy to beat as with fox hearing. There are probably powers like that besides the animal spell, so anti-eavesdroppers should take them into account. Further, the seosten (unless it was all a huge coincidence) was spying on Flick, and should have known about the fox.

    Easy, as in it makes things way too easy. Like tearlessnevermore said, the suspect pool is fairly small, and the seosten should be easy to find. Maybe there is too little evidence to make the Avalon connection, but even without it. You can certainly surprise me on that with more twists, but I think more subtle hints for seosten involvement would have been better.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Remember how it was stated that the animals created by that spell ping as Stranger? That’s important, because the seosten DID have an ongoing spell checking what was around. But the spell works similarly to the Heretic-sense. In other words, it pinged the fox as an animal-intelligence Stranger (which the jungle is chock-full of) and thus not an issue. Animal-level intelligence Strangers are everywhere, and they’re hardly going to run off and tell anyone what they hear (usually).

      And as far as knowing about the fox existing goes, remember, Flick thought about just dismissing the spell and leaving the non-reusable wood in the jungle. That’s what Charmeine assumed she did. Because what person is going to bring the whole thing back to her AFTER walking away, just to have some useless piece of wood? She had no reason whatsoever to think that Flick would start bringing the fox back like that.

      So yeah, the jungle she’s standing next to has dozens of animals within range of her detection spell, at least half of which register as Stranger. And she had no reason to think that Flick suspected anything (because she didn’t), and thus no reason to think she’d walk the fox back after what happened. As far as she knew, Flick dismissed the spell and then walked away. Because that’s exactly what Flick intended to do.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Hmm. I have to agree with the sentiment that this was convienant, but the explanation does help. I had forgotten that the messenger animal spell pings as a Stranger.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like how even millennia-old bad guys can make mistakes. There is no power of “not making mistakes, ever”. Except possibly Path to Victory from Worm, and the Liquid Luck potion from Harry Potter.

        Liked by 5 people

      3. That does clarify things. Why not a coin-like spell, though?

        Normally she would. But in that case, she made a mistake. Even the best villains are capable of that kind of thing. It was late, she was annoyed and focused on the realization that Flick has been doing things that Columbus doesn’t know about, that she has a meeting set with Fahsteth, etc. She had to UN-silence herself to make her call to whoever she was talking to, and didn’t think about re-doing the spell again with the other person included because as far as she could tell using the detection spell, no one else was around.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Flick should probably follow Charmeine with the fox, see who her host is, talk to Gaia, and set up a trap for said host. Weapons enchanted to hit incorporeal creatures are a must.

    As for warning Fahsteth, why would she? All she has to do is get Gaia’s help in locating him, waiting for the Seosten attacker to arrive, then counter-ambush him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think Gaia can locate him easily enough for that. If she could, they could have just went and ambushed him instead of settinf up this meeting. Also, judging by their exchange in Interlude 3, Gaia probably would have killed him a long time ago if she could find him.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Except that the Theriangelos registers as a Stranger (as stated above) meaning that Flick can’t send it into Crossroads like that. And once they’ve left the jungle behind Charmeine’s detection spell would let her know something was up and then she’d know that Flick was on to her.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. As Tearless said, it’s much easier for Charmeine to end up detecting the fox once they get away from the jungle. Not to mention how much trouble it would be if the fox set off Crossroads anti-Stranger alarms, which Flick doesn’t know if it would or not.

      Don’t worry though, we’ll cover all this in the next chapter and see what she ends up doing. Remember, her best advantage right now is that Charmeine doesn’t KNOW that Flick knows she exists. Throwing that away immediately could do more harm than good, especially since Flick knows there are at least two others involved (whoever she was talking to, and Manakel).

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Come on, paranoia 101. Just because you can’t see someone else standing near enough to hear doesn’t mean someone isn’t there. Always use your magic sound-cancelling button.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yeah, when Flick said, “they can’t hear anything that goes through this phone. It bypasses Crossroads security.”, I was thinking that seemed like something you really shouldn’t be saying out loud. Doesn’t even matter what the topic of conversation is, anyone not already in the know is going to find that super suspicious, even people who aren’t particularly interested in Flick’s activities (assuming there are any such people).

      Good chapter overall though. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Goggle-Eyed:
    Did a primary Villain just appear before Flick on a BEACH?
    This should be the easiest murder of a Seosten in the history of the Seosten. Lift 20lbs of sand, stuff 20lbs in breathing orifices. Lift and stuff, lift and stuff. Repeating as necessary until kill-gasm.

    Now way, no how would I let an entity who can possess Heretics take another step. Just the act of throwing down for real would likely trigger some kind of alarm….if that’s even necessary. All the people Flick has attacked with sand before have been “on guard”…I would imagine you could get much more sand into a relaxed individual.

    Oh, I know it wouldn’t fit the arc. It’s not how storytelling is done…but still, a BEACH? Why not have the Seosten huddle in a scrap metal refinery while Flick’s teammates with metal manipulation powers discover her.

    A BEACH?!?!?


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Flick herself is not at the beach. Her fox is. We don’t know if she can use her powers through it. And even if she can, she has no way of knowing whether or not Charmeine could teleport away or just, y’know, dodge the sand. Because the sand control isn’t fast enough to be an insta-kill. It worked on that shark-guy, but it didn’t work on Pace. And while Charmeine would be surprised by the attack, the element of surprise doesn’t guarantee success. Especially since, if Tristan is anything to go by, the Seosten may naturally have extremely fast reflexes.

      There’s something to be said for just attacking Charmeine, but there are far too many uncertainties for it to be the obvious choice.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This was me (hendy853), by the way. The computer I’m using logged me out of my account when I was posting this for some reason. Not sure why.


    2. Charmeine would just go incorporeal, turn around, then nail Flick with a banishment. One casting her into the sun, to be precise. You don’t fight a five-thousand-year-old alien witch that once pretended to be a goddess and was believed, without preparation and as many powerful allies at your side as you could beg, borrow, or steal.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. first off, I’m gonna echo Seth’s endorsement of Ashland’s Shakespear Festival. I’ve never gone, but my mom did when she was in college and still talks about it sometimes

    plus getting people to visit my state is just a thing I should be doing yeah?

    anyway, in terms of plot things I am once again surprised at how fast this development came up. I was expecting Flick to find out about the Seosten infiltrators a lot closer to the end of the arc, but then I suppose she still doesn’t know exactly who is possessed, just that it’s someone she trusts, which opens up the potential for trap shenanigans which, let’s face it, is kinda Flick’s *thing* by this point


    1. I have gone to the festival and it really is that memorable 🙂

      I got a big kick out of seeing places I have been mentioned in the story. #TeamOregon


  11. {Where are you getting 5000 years specifically?}

    Charmeine was once Nemesis, one of the older Greek deities. She was known at least as far back as 2000 BC. Since she already was sent in an important position on Earth, she was probably somewhat experienced already, thus add another millennium to that.

    Of course, she could well be older than that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, but we don’t know that the Seosten were playing the Greek gods from the beginning. It’s possible that they only came and starting impersonating them later.

      5000 is possible, but it’s npt certain.

      Wow I’m being nitpicky today. I’m sorry. I’ll drop this now.


  12. Just had a thought. It’s to do with Ammon rather than this chapter, but I thought I’d mention it here. Someone mentioned somewhere that Cerulean likes redemption stories and I was wondering how that might happen for Ammon. Then I remembered that Cerulean teased us a while back with the idea that Ammon inherited Scott’s reincarnation.

    I was thinking how that would work when I remembered that newly restored Pookas are reverted to age 8 or 9, and don’t regain their memories or powers for a few months. According to Twister, past life memories are more akin to having someone else in your head then actually having those memories.

    Meaning that Ammon could reincarnate without whatever Fossor did to him, then live a few months with normal human experiences and morality and only then regaining his old life at sufficient remove that he doesn’t revert to sociopathy.

    It’s just a theory, and it makes the Pooka!Scott reveal a bit more relevant to the plot. And I’d be genuinely interested to read Flick unsure of whether or not she can trust Ammon, especially if we’re reliant on her PoV for our facts.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Because Scott is a Pooka. An Alter. And Ammon’s powers are derived indirectly from a Reaper through Denuvus’ blood. He can absorb the powers and abilities of Alters when he kills them, and Scott is an Alter that he killed (who then resurrected).

        Also, technically speaking, Flick’s dad would be the side husband. He’s ultimately not, because that’s not how Joselyn rolls (Deveron confirmed that she’s poly in arc 13). But she probably wouldn’t have started a relationship with a Bystander if she hadn’t been memory-wiped.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Holy crap, can a Pooka be farmed? Kill it over and over and over and over and over and I’m tied of copy pasting, but you get the point.


      3. In theory, yes. But the strength of the inheritance and the chance of getting the reincarnation power is dependent on how long it has been since they last “died” so you hit diminishing returns. This came up in a discussion, I think it was on Spacebattles.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Before the story moves on, I feel the need to say that I think revealing Charmeine to Flick like this wasn’t the best move.

    The irony of Charmeine being exposed because she made the same mistake Flick did that let her hear about the meeting with Fahsteth, assuming that she was alone, is a fantastic little bit of irony that I appreciate, but I feel like revealing the Seosten like this to Flick undercuts their role in the story just a little bit. I think it would have been a stronger choice to keep Charmaine hidden from Flick until being exposed by doing something like trying to lure Flick away during an Avalon assassination attempt, or failing to immediately grasp something Columbus should know despite having access to his memories (can you imagine seeing her try to explain the Summers family tree on the fly?).

    Ultimately, I can see the benefits of this direction (the aforementioned irony does soften this opinion), and I don’t necessarily think it’s the wrong move. But this is going to be one of those story decisions I think I’ll continue to disagree with in the future.


    1. The thing is, everything you said about how Columbus could be revealed can still happen. After all, Flick knows there’s a Seosten impersonating someone at the school that she trusts. She doesn’t know who it is. And for the record, that is a big part of the reason that I established more people than just her team as being in on at least some of the secrets, so that it would be harder for Flick to narrow down. After all, now we have several teachers, her team, her therapist, Tristan, Vanessa, Koren, etc as potential suspects.

      Ultimately, I want her to try to track them down. AND I don’t want it to be a fast process. I want Flick to work at solving this, and play with her having to pretend everything’s fine when she doesn’t know which of her friends might be possessed.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Felicity: Hey guys, you wanna play some Among us…? The gam ethat you have to deceive your friends in? Ya know, so we can all have a fun time and certainly not so that I can try to find out how all of you go about using deceit and who does it best, along with which one of you would happen to be the best a playing the impostor. Nothing like that, just a good ‘ol game between friends 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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