Lessons 32-01

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For a moment after the woman said those words, my mind reeled, and I was completely silent.

“M-Mama?”

Correction, my brain was silent, but my mouth spoke anyway. Tabbris, so thoroughly shocked by what the older Seosten had said, actually took over reflexively and made me blurt that single word.

I felt her immediate horror at what she had done suddenly take over then, as she mentally retreated. Her frantic apologies filled my head, the self-disgust and shame that the girl felt at the fact that she had actually taken me over for that single word almost making me feel physically ill.

My hand snapped up to stop the woman from talking for a minute. The action was my choice that time, as I focused inward. Tabbris! Tabbris, listen. It’s okay. It’s okay! Just listen to me, okay?

I’m sorry, the response came. The Seosten girl sounded sick, and weak. I’m sorry. I made you talk. I took over and I didn’t even ask. I’m sorry. She said we could find Mama and… and…

And you did the exact thing I would’ve done in your situation, I pointed out. Hell, Tab, I pretty much am in your situation. If someone told me they knew how to save my mom, I’d freak out too. I would. Do not apologize, okay? You apologize when you do something wrong, and you didn’t. You made me say one word. I don’t mind. I’m not mad. Read my mind. You can do that, remember? Read my mind and find out if I’m mad about it. I’m not. And if I’m not mad, you can’t be mad at yourself. You’re my sister, Tabbris. I love you. I’m not mad at you for making me say a single word just because you were so surprised. After everything you’ve done for me, how could I possibly be mad at you for that? It’s okay, I promise. You and me, we’re partners in all this, remember? Partners don’t get mad at things like that. Partners understand. I understand.

For a moment, there was silence. I felt the Seosten girl’s indecision and shame. She really had issues with taking me over, even by accident. I had no idea how it had been for her to act secretly for so long, taking me over and adjusting my memory when she had to. The thought made me wince a little. God, every time I imagined what Tabbris’s life had been like, spending years where nobody knew she existed and she had no idea what had happened to the one woman who was supposed to show up and help take care of her. She had been completely alone, no help, no way of even knowing if she would ever see her mother or Larissa again. And yet, she had kept doing her job. She had kept protecting me, against all that the Seosten had tried. Was I mad at her for having a single moment where she reflexively controlled me? Hell no.

Finally, Tabbris spoke up a little hesitantly. Flick? I’m really glad that I can talk to you now.

Despite myself, I smiled a little bit at that. I’m glad too, Tab. Now no more freaking out about a little accident, okay? There’s a difference between maliciously controlling someone and what you just did. You’re nothing like those bad Seosten. You’re like your mom, and Athena, or Nimue, or whatever she goes by. And Apollo, apparently. See? There’s plenty of good Seosten. There are bad humans and good humans, bad vampires and good vampires, bad werewolves and good werewolves. And there are bad Seosten and good ones. You, you’re one of the good ones. And you’re my sister.

Feeling her acceptance and relief, I finally turned to focus on the woman in front of me. Though in front of us seemed like the more appropriate phrasing since she knew that Tabbris was there.

“Sorry,” I made myself announce in as dry of a voice as I could manage. “Usually I have a much better poker face than that. I can’t imagine what could’ve happened. I guess I wasn’t myself.”

Yeah, it was a bit of a risk. But honestly, it felt like teasing Tabbris just a little bit about it would help make her feel a little more normal. I didn’t want to treat her like I was walking on eggshells. I wanted her to see that I really didn’t mind, that I really was okay with what happened and with the fact that it might happen again. And that meant teasing her a little. At least, to me it did.

Athena/Nimue seemed to understand what was going on, and what I was doing. She gave a slight smile before speaking simply, in a soft, encouraging voice. “I would very much love to meet Sariel’s child. Particularly one who has frustrated poor Manakel and Paschar so thoroughly.”

Sensing my companion’s reluctant hesitation, I gave her a little inward encouragement. It’s okay, Tab. You saw what she did to all those guys back there. If she says you’re safe here, you are.

After another couple of seconds, the by-now familiar glowing figure stepped forward out of me. The glow faded, leaving that little blonde girl staring a bit fearfully up at the woman in front of us. Honestly, that much I couldn’t blame her for. Even without all the other issues, after what we had seen the woman do back on that planet, being intimidated by her was completely understandable.

“A girl… a daughter…” The soft, gentle words left the woman, and she smiled. “Hello, little one.”

“I… I…” Tabbris swallowed audibly, shivering a little before taking what was obviously a reflexive step back. Her hand went back and down, groping until I caught hold of it and gave her a reassuring squeeze to assure her that I was there. Finally, she managed a weak, “H-hello.”

Sinking down to one knee, the woman  spoke softly, like she was trying not to startle an especially skittish deer. “May I have the name of the girl who has my former allies tearing their hair out?”

I could see the blush on the back of Tabbris’s neck as she squirmed self-consciously. “I-um. M-my name is Tabbris.” Her voice was tiny, her nervousness readily apparent as she answered.

“Tabbris.” I saw a small, knowing smile play over the woman’s face for just a moment, and she nodded. “Yes, I suppose she would choose such an appropriate name for you, wouldn’t she?”

My mouth opened to ask what she meant by that, but Tabbris beat me to it. “Um. Appropriate?”

“Yes. Of course she would have–” She paused then, tilting her head a little thoughtfully before asking in a slightly curious voice, “You are aware of what the name actually means?”

As we both shook our heads, the woman chuckled a little bit before carefully explaining, “Tabbris, as far as humans are concerned, was the angel of self-determination and free will.”

Despite myself, I laughed. “Oh. Free will… that… “ Smiling, I squeezed the younger girl’s hand, tugging her back against me. “That is pretty appropriate, isn’t it? You hear that, Tab? Your mom named you after the angel of free will. I–” Pausing then, I hesitated. “But angel names are Seosten names, right? So what kind of Seosten name is something that means free will? I mean… no offense, but that doesn’t really sound appropriate as far as Seosten go. Generally.”

Wincing a little visibly, the brown-haired woman shook her head with a soft sigh. “You are not wrong there, no. Our kind are generally not well known for such things. But… there are almost always exceptions. Tabbris of Llylewys was one such exception. A rather famous one.”

“Tabbris of Llylewys?” Tabbris and I both echoed simultaneously. And boy was it still really strange hearing the girl’s voice out loud like that instead of in my head. Hearing her say the exact same thing that I was saying, only audible for someone else to hear, was even stranger.

“Yes,” the Seosten answered with an amused chuckle as she glanced between us. “And I will tell you about him shortly, you have my word. But for now, please, I have a few very important questions.”

“Mama.” Tabbris looked up. “Y-you said… we could find… Mama…”

“Indeed.” Nodding in agreement, the woman straightened. “As I said, we have much to discuss. I just…” She paused then, swallowing as she looked to Tabbris. “I am very glad to have finally met you, Tabbris. You are… you remind me of your mother, in many ways. But how long?” Her eyes glanced up to me before returning to the tiny Seosten. “How long have you been working so hard? How long have you been protecting this girl?”

“Years,” I answered for her, squeezing the girl’s hand. “Her mom had her… uh, put in me when she was still basically a baby. She put her in some kind of hibernation and taught her everything she needed to know in, like, a virtual reality situation or something for a few years. She put all kinds of memory implants to teach her about everything, and then when she woke up she started… protecting me actively, I guess. And she’s been doing that for years. She stopped the other Seosten from using spells on me. She’s… she’s saved me a lot. More than she’s actually told me about, I’m pretty sure.”

The woman’s eyebrows had shot up dramatically. “Memory implant spells as teaching tools. We spoke of that possibility, and they have been used in minor cases or to share knowledge with a peer. But to construct an entire, as you say, virtual reality simulation based entirely around implanted memories… that would require…” She whistled, long and low while looking awed.

“See?” I teased my little companion a little, moving my free hand to squeeze her shoulder. The bones had completely mended by that point. “Even she thinks that you and your mom are amazing. And she’s–” I paused slightly, looking to her. “Actually, what do we call you? I mean, Radueriel said you were… that you’re…”

“Athena,” she confirmed. “Call me Athena. Some call me Nimue, yes. But… I would rather not use that name while my Arthur remains…” She paused before giving a sharp shake of her head. “I would rather not use that name. And I have forsaken my Seosten name. So please, I am Athena.”

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy did I ever want to ask a lot of questions right then. But I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t get any answers. She clearly didn’t want to talk about it at the moment. So, I just nodded.

Meanwhile, Athena focused on Tabbris once more. “You are so young. So small.” Her hand slowly moved to touch the girl’s face gently, her voice even softer and filled with the kind of awe that I felt whenever I thought about how much Tabbris had done for me. “So small and yet, so utterly brilliant. Do you realize how much you have driven Manakel and the others into fits of hysteria and confusion? Do you have the slightest idea how much effort they and the others have put toward trying to discover how the infamous Joselyn Atherby’s daughter was rendered immune to Seosten possession?

“And in the end, it was simply… you. A child, thwarting millennia-old Seosten. Amazing.” Her smile grew, as she shook her head in wonder. “You are truly amazing.”

For her part, the girl blushed deeply and squirmed, her hands fidgeting like she didn’t know what to do with them. It was kind of adorable. “I–I didn’t–I mean, I just–I was just trying to help.”

“Believe me when I tell you that you have helped,” Athena assured her sagely. “You have helped more than you can possibly know. The conversations about Lady Felicity’s supposed immunity that I have heard…” She chuckled, shaking her head while running a hand over Tabbris’s head fondly. “I would very much like to see the look on their faces when they discover the truth.”

“That can’t happen,” I blurted, interrupting quickly. “They can’t find out about her.”

“Not for quite some time, no,” the woman agreed with a nod. “Be at ease. Your secret is safe here. As far as anyone else is concerned, you will simply be another Seosten child on this station.”

My mouth opened, but it was Tabbris who piped up, “Another Seosten child?”

Chuckling, Athena nodded once more. “Yes. We have a dozen or so here with us who are within a few years of your age. Would you like to meet them?”

The girl’s head bobbed quickly, before she amended, “But… Mama…”

“And the others,” I put in, before we could get any more offtrack. “I have to let the others know that I’m okay, and how to find us. They’re probably–” I flinched. As thoroughly distracting as all of this had been, thinking about how Sands, Larissa, and the others were no doubt reacting made me focus. “They’re probably freaking out right now.”

Athena addressed me first. “Yes, I have people who will find your friends and get a message to them. But it will take some time. As will preparing to locate your mother,” she added to Tabbris. “But I promise you both, we are working on it. We will bring your friends here, and we will find Sariel.”

She looked to the younger Seosten then, her gaze softening. “As I said, doing so will require your blood, and a fair bit of time. Kushiel has her… lab hidden quite well. But with the blood of Sariel’s daughter, and enough time, we should be able to locate it. I only ask for patience.”

Tabbris squirmed, but gave a little nod. “Can… can we meet the other Seosten? There’s… there’s really kids? And they’re… they’re not… bad?”

Smiling warmly, Athena gestured with one hand. “Yes. And you can meet them, along with the rest of our people. Seosten and non-Seosten alike. We call ourselves the Aelaestiam. And if you like, I will introduce you.”

The two of us exchanged brief looks before we both nodded. “Yes,” I agreed, “Yes, we’d like that a lot.” I had a feeling that, among other things, seeing other Seosten who weren’t total monsters would be incredibly good for Tabbris’s mental state. So I was willing to set aside my own feeling of helpless impatience. Because that was unbelievably important. Tabbris deserved to feel better about herself, about her species.

“Good.” Athena gestured, and some kind of glowing forcefield rose up around the three of us before it began to lift off the ground. It was an elevator of some kind, and it was carrying us up toward the ceiling. “We will go and meet everyone, then.”

As the forcefield elevator rose into the air, I asked, “Where is everyone? I mean, all those houses we passed were empty, and it sure didn’t look like there was anyone in those other species’ environments.”

“They are working, or at school,” the Seosten woman explained. “We put a great deal of emphasis on education here. While you are here, you will be expected to learn. And to train.”

I coughed, smiling despite myself. “Believe me, you’re scary, but not nearly as scary as my girlfriends would be if they ever found out I wasn’t training while I was out here.”

Athena gave me a brief look at that, raising an eyebrow. But before she could say anything, Tabbris piped up. “C-could… um, could you…” She stretched out to the side on one foot, fidgeting as she caught hold of her raised heel absently. Unfortunately, doing so over-extended her balance, and she gave a sudden yelp before pratfalling.

“Ow,” she complained, sitting there on her backside with a tiny, adorable scowl. “I’m used to being taller. And more coordinated. And… and… not so weird.” Making a face, she blew hair out of her eyes before looking up earnestly as she picked herself off the floor. “Could you tell us about Tabbris? The other Tabbris.”

By that point, a space in the metal ceiling above us had opened up, as the forcefield elevator rose into another, much smaller room. It was about forty feet by thirty feet, with room for several more of these elevators to rise up. Ahead were a few sets of doors which, judging from the signs (written in a language I didn’t know) above them that seemed to indicate where they would take the person, probably all went through portals into different areas of the station.

“Yes,” Athena agreed, stepping off the elevator while motioning for us to do the same. She turned to face us once we joined her.

“Tabbris, that Tabbris, was a Seosten who lived over a hundred thousand years ago. Llylewys was his choir.  Kind of like a clan or family,” she added to me briefly before continuing. “Tabbris of Llylewys was an incredibly powerful, incredibly rich young man. And he was also one of the only open advocates of peaceful integration with other worlds that has ever sat as a Seraphim.”

Again, she looked to me, explaining, “The Seraphim are our leadership. Similar to your Committee, only… different in many ways. But the same general idea is there, unsurprisingly.”

Biting my lip, I nodded. “So this original Tabbris was some important senator-type guy, got it. And he was an advocate for, what did you say, peaceful integration with other worlds?”

“Yes,” Athena confirmed simply. “He spent his entire career and most of his considerable power and fortune arguing for more ethical treatment of non-Seostens. His speeches are considered legendary today, though most don’t actually pay attention to what he’s actually saying. He’s seen as little more than a fool by the Seosten leadership. He always was. But he fought for what he believed in, more than once and in more than one way. With his vast money and seemingly inexhaustible resources, he purchased an entire planet and made it a refuge for all non-Seosten to live freely. The planet was surrounded by weapons, shields, and every anti-Seosten defense that Tabbris and his people could dream up. It was a variation of one of Tabbris’s spells that I taught to Arthur and his knights so that they would know if any of their people were possessed and cast the Seosten out of them. The place was perfectly safe.”

“It sounds incredible,” I agreed. “Whatever happened to it? I mean, that was a long time ago.”

The woman’s head shook. “You see, that is actually the most legendary part of all. Because the truth is, nobody knows. After he set the planet up and brought over as many free beings as he could, Tabbris wiped its location and every specific thing about it from the minds of everyone else in the universe. Anyone who knew exactly where it was one day forgot about it the next.”

My mouth fell open at that. All I managed to do was make a brief, protesting squeak as my brain locked up completely. Just in front of me, Tabbris seemed to be coming up with pretty much the same reaction. She was the first to recover enough to actually ask, “Wh-what? He erased it from everyone’s mind? But that would take… th-the power that would–he couldn’t… he couldn’t!”

“Yes,” Athena replied with a little smile of amusement, “that was pretty much everyone else’s reaction at the time, apparently. Except, as it turns out, he didn’t actually do it alone. Technically, the man had the aid of every sitting Seraphim at the time. And likely most of their staffs as well.”

Squinting at the woman, I tried to figure out if she was messing with us. That time, I was the first one to find my voice, as I quickly demanded, “How could he possibly convince all of the Seosten leadership to help him erase an entire planet from everyone’s memory, including theirs?!”

“As absurd as it sounds,” the woman explained, “it actually wasn’t that difficult. He simply had to be patient. Obviously, it took quite some time for the investigation to turn up what actually happened. But, essentially, the original Tabbris spent over a decade preparing for what he ended up doing. You see, the committee within the Seraphim that he was a part of required that he collect what amounted to magical signatures from each and every Seraphim. Those were, essentially, a small bit of their own spellpower that proved that they agreed with whatever the energy was attached to. Since it’s their own personal mana, brought from their own body and tied to the object listing the agreement, it’s much harder for them to claim they didn’t agree with it later on.

“But I don’t understand how–” I started before blinking. “Wait, did he figure out how to… I mean…” I trailed off, uncertain of myself. But as I glanced to Athena, she had gone silent. The woman patiently watched, seemingly just fine with waiting while I worked it out. Biting my lip, I guessed, “Did he figure out how to, like, take a little bit of that energy each time?”

She smiled, lifting her head in a nod while giving me an approving look that made me flush a little bit. “Correct. Somehow, Tabbris managed to place a siphon spell on those same signature objects which took just a little bit of their power every time they signed it. What’s more, it would continue draining them constantly for those ten years. Ah, which would be somewhere around eighteen years by Earth calendar. It was very small amounts, not enough for them to notice. But every time he had them sign another agreement, the siphon was renewed. It would barely amount to a single percent of their power each day. But a single percent of every Seraphim’s energy every day for what amounted to eighteen Earth years amounted to vast reserves of spellpower that Tabbris had managed to steal. And eventually, he used it to pull his disappearing act. He, and all of the people who had chosen to join him, disappeared entirely.”

“You hear that?” I asked my Tabbris with a little nudge. “Your mom named you after the Seosten who basically made the entire group of Seraphim look like idiots, and the first big freedom fighter.”

While the other girl turned beet red and smiled giddily, Athena continued. “I trust that answers your question?”

Once Tabbris nodded, I asked, “I’ve got a lot more though. Like, how did you find us? Where did you come from? How did you know about… about anything that was happening? Is it just from the humans that you freed? Do you know about the Atherby Clan and what they’ve been doing? Do you–”

Athena laughed, shaking her head. “Be at ease, Lady Felicity. I will answer all of your questions that I am able to. But for now, perhaps meeting the others would help. I will explain on the way.”

She moved to one of the nearby doors, pausing to look back to us as they slid open. “Are you ready?”

My hand reached out to take Tabbris’s, and I nodded. “Yes. Let’s go meet the Logs.”

Both Tabbris and Athena blinked over at me, the latter asking, “Logs?”

“Sure!” I grinned. “Legion Of Good Seosten. What, it’s easier to remember than… what did you say?”

“Aelaestiam,” Tabbris supplied helpfully.

“Right, Aelaestiam.” Tilting my head as though considering that for a moment, I finally shook my head. “Nope, sorry. I still prefer Logs.”  

Athena shook her head, gesturing for us to move through the still-open doorway. With a slight gulp, I squeezed Tabbris’s hand, whispering, “Ready, partner?” She nodded, and I returned it. Then the two of us stepped through that doorway.

Time to meet the Seosten rebels.

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35 comments

  1. And now we are back to our regularly scheduled Flick! 😉 Thank you guys so very, very much for reading. I hope you enjoyed these four days of updates, because I sure enjoyed getting them ready for you.

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    Tags for this chapter are: Considering How Superhumanly Athletic Seosten Are Supposed To Be‚ Tabbris Being Clumsy And Awkward Really Drives Home How Long She’s Been In Flick., Felicity Chambers, Flick, Nimue/Athena, Tabbris, There Are Definitely Readers Who Will Thank Flick For Simplifying Aelaestiam Down To ‘Logs’

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  2. Seeing Athena and Flick comfort Tabbris was a much needed bit of heartwarming after yesterday.

    And the first Tabbris’s hidden planet’s gonna come into play at some point. Metatron was one of the Seosten alive at that point, wasn’t he?

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  3. Tabbris is so cute. All time. Even when she’s being cute in a horribly depressing manner like when she freaks out because she said one word using Flick’s mouth without permission.

    My assessment of Sariel’s skill level with memory magic needs to be revised upwards. Again. Athena is outright AWED by Sariel’s VR nursery spell, and apparently even much lesser analogues were a thing she’d only considered. This is very strong evidence for Sariel being the best memory magic specialist in the universe.

    Athena is a fan of Tabbris. CALLED IT! Sariel’s going to have a fan club by the time they get her free for setting this up.

    “I’m used to being taller. And more coordinated. And… and… not so weird.”

    Oh no. I was really hoping to be wrong about Tabbris having a sort of species dysphoria, but she’s calling her own body weird.

    Holy fucking shit. Tabbris of Llylewys was grade A awesome. Tricking the other Seraphim into powering the ultimate defense for his refuge world? So cool.

    And you all know said refuge world will show up at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I assumed that the “weird” comment was about how she kept stuttering before speaking (she’s used to Flick talking for her.) But your way might make more sense, and is definitely much sadder.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Remember that Cerulean did say that it wouldn’t surprise him if Tabbris used a djinn wish to stop being a Seosten, given the chance.

        I’m desperately hoping for something to prove my theory wrong and show that Cerulean was yanking my chain. I’m not getting anything like that, but I am getting supporting evidence.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. >I’m sorry, the response came. The Seosten girl sounded sick, and weak. I’m sorry. I made you talk. I took over and I didn’t even ask. I’m sorry. She said we could find Mama and… and…

    There’s nothing to be sorry *for*, Tabbris. No one will blame you for wanting to see your mother again. Well, no one with even a shred of humanity/empathy within them anyway.

    >Particular one who has frustrated poor Manakel and Paschar so thoroughly.”

    The fact that these millennia old Seosten are getting circles run around them by a pre-teen Seosten child (educated by Sariel, admittedly, but eh details) never ceases to make me laugh.

    >“ Somehow, Tabbris managed to place a siphon spell on those same signature objects which took just a little bit of their power every time they signed it. What’s more, it would continue draining them constantly for those ten years. Ah, which would be somewhere around eighteen years by Earth calendar. It was very small amounts, not enough for them to notice. But every time he had them sign another agreement, the siphon was renewed. It would barely amount to a single percent of their power each day. But a single percent of every Seraphim’s energy every day for what amounted to eighteen Earth years amounted to vast reserves of spellpower that Tabbris had managed to steal. And eventually, he used it to pull his disappearing act. He, and all of the people who had chosen to join him, disappeared entirely.”

    Tabbris’ namesake was a certified genius and manipulator to pull off a coup like this, I mean, just imagine how many things get signed every day in a government body/bureaucracy.

    I was amused at Athena’s fangirling over what Tabbris/Sariel have accomplished.

    Great update Cerulean.

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    1. Extremely low. Seosten can’t possess other Seosten unless they (the possessors) are Lies or related to the potential host. Lies Seosten seem far more likely to join the Aelaestiam than to be sent on such an important mission by the Seosten leadership, only to possess what appears to be a random Seosten child instead of doing something like revealing the location of the base to Radueriel. One of Sariel’s children is even less likely for a number of reasons (they’d be younger than Tabbris, is the main one), so it would basically have to be a sibling or parent of Sariel’s, if any of those are even alive. And there we still run into the issues of 1) How did they infiltrate the Aelaestiam, 2) Why were they selected specifically, and 3) Once they did, why would they bother to possess Tabbris instead of any number of other actions.

      Tabbris is actually pretty safe here.

      Like

      1. Good points, but…

        ‘Can’t’ is such a strong word, yet it was proven wrong so many times, for example:
        Strangers can’t be good, only evil.
        Humans and strangers can’t have children.

        A discarded experiment would be a likely candidate to be taken in by the Logs.
        And a broken mind could easily come up with a reasoning like:
        “Me gives master good info, master will love me again!”

        The location of the Logs would be very good intel, and most likely protected very well. It could be easier to piece together from lot of small pieces. And who could have new pieces, if not new arrivals.

        And Tabbris isn’t just a random Seosten kid, she is a NEW Seosten kid

        Like

  5. So…confirmation, if we didn’t have it before, that Arthur is still alive.

    Also, a hundred thousand years ago? Okay, I know you said how the Seosten used genetic engineering to vastly expand their lifespans right after they developed the possession capability, but you never made it explicit that the Seosten developed clinical immortality (as in, you no longer physically age past your prime, nor do you die of natural causes, or cancer, etc.). I mean, having FTL technology and advanced genetic engineering is pretty indicative of having a sufficiently advanced technological base to develop the means for clinical immortality. (Which is probably rooted in nanomachines.) Of course, it also goes without saying that it seems beyond impossible for the Seosten to not have developed sapient AIs to help run their civilization and operate their warships by now. I mean, we’ve gone from the most basic and primitive of computers to computers that are better at Go than the best human Go player in less than 100 years. A hundred thousand years (minimum) AFTER having developed FTL travel is far more than enough time. Bonus points if the Seosten enslave their AIs, too, to fit their racial theme and practices.

    And while the 10% birthrate is bad, when you are eternally in your prime, it’s not so bad. Population growth is much slower, but so long as you don’t keep losing population in substantial amounts, your population would still grow tremendously over time.

    Of course, that raises the question of why the Seosten even consider humans to be much of a threat without the Fomorians directly supporting/leading/augmenting them. Space combat always takes precedence, because you can’t really land troops on a planet if all of your ships get blown up before they can even get there. Granted, the Fomorians are apparently capable of opening up interplanetary portals, which gives infantry importance that it otherwise wouldn’t have, but that wouldn’t protect your own worlds or stations from enemy fleets. And ground troops can’t really withstand warship fire from orbit. And as we saw with Katarin, even a small ship’s firepower can easily kill very powerful infantry. Even Nimue was careful to sabotage the Seosten warships’ weapons before revealing herself.

    ANYWAY.

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    1. –anyway, I can’t help but want a mini-interlude showing everyone’s reactions (from the Haiden/Larissa group) to apparently losing Flick to the Seosten…and then learning that she was rescued by none other than Nimue/Athena.

      And I’m looking forward to Tristan and Vanessa meeting Tabbris. I can only imagine Vanessa giving her all the hugs, while Tristain’s charisma and lackadaisical attitude would throw her for a loop.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Where on earth are you getting clinical immortality?

      There’s nothing in the chapter to indicate that Tabbris of Llewlys is still around. Of course, I wouldn’t rule out that he IS around either, but that still wouldn’t indicate general purpose clinical immortality because there is kind of a difference between a genius mage being able to arbitrarily extend their life and being able to make everyone immortal.

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      1. You misunderstand. I was remarking about the Seosten in general, not Tabbris of Llewlys.

        But the indication for clinical immortality is logical in nature: they’re incredibly technologically advanced, and have been for at least 100,000 years, on top of extreme skill in magic. Their low birth rates and genetic engineering to extend their livespans dramatically also provides the precedent and need for clinical immortality.

        Though I just realized the obvious solution to the whole 90% fetus mortality rate: artificial wombs. That way, the fetus doesn’t attempt possession of its host body, because there IS no host body. Artificial wombs aren’t even that complicated–the main reason we aren’t putting serious effort into developing them IRL is because it’s far, far cheaper and easier to just find another woman who’s willing to provide the utilization of her own womb in exchange for money.

        I’m going to go ahead and offer a way out of that plot hole: Seosten, for whatever reason, can’t use artificial wombs, because, due to their magical/soul “DNA” (essentially, the magical aspect of genetic engineering), their fetuses require direct contact with the souls of a mother/host in order to have any chance of a successful pregnancy/birth. This may not have always been the case, but after the infectious engineering that caused the original possession ability to manifest in Seosten, it was.

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    3. I’m pretty sure it’s been implied for a while now that Arthur is a meatpuppet for some Seosten VIP, probably somewhere on the Fomorian frontlines…

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      1. Where? The implications I’ve seen is that he’s in some kind of death trance.

        Fossor’s comments about “letting sleeping dragons lie,” Athena and Gabriel’s hints that he’s only mostly dead… Harper/Guinevere/Lancelot telling his coffin they’re almost ready to resurrect him…

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      2. Nope. He’s in stasis of some sort.

        Also Cerulean was pretty clear on SB that Arthur is so rediculously powerful as to be effectively immune to possession.

        HESTIA can’t control him, and Hestia is in the top 10 powerwise ever.

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  6. Oh, Tabby… Poor girl. Even though I’m sure Sariel would have been careful about building her “VR nursery” to avoid burdening Tabbris with any “Seosten Burden,” it’s probably impossible that her attitudes about involuntary possession leak through. Not to mention that Tabby would have experienced months of Flick’s rage over Columbus’ situation before she revealed herself. It’s sad, but not surprising, that she has some hypersensitivity issues here. Not to mention, being irrationally afraid of alienating the only person she really has right now….
    I admit, when Athena started describing Classic!Tabbris’s power-theft trick, my first thought was that the Crossroads Council power-sharing trick was a clone of the Seraphim setup, and Joselyn wasn’t the first to hijack it. After the full explanation, it sounds like I was wrong, but I still wonder if the two are connected somehow — did Classic!Tabbris’s stunt inspire the Council’s setup?
    I *did* wonder if the “refuge planet” will turn out to be Earth (“Wotta twist!”), but that seems unlikely. Still, Checkhov’s Arsenal has picked up Yet Another Smoking Gun — when the story eventually gets around to pulling all these triggers, it’s going to be one heck of a Big Bang. 🙂

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      1. I do not understand the question.
        All I know is that that specific phrase is very much associated with racism and other bigotry.

        Like

    1. This has actually come up on the discussion thread. Apparently the Egyptian gods were essentially a mix of Seosten, Natural Heretics, and Alters. One god specifically (I want to say Sobek) is a Heretic, still alive, and an Eden’s Garden Vigile like Hisao.

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  7. Cerulean, you seriously need to establish hard limits to your magic system. The only limits of the magic in HE shown until now is that it is slow and seemingly power intensive. If this Tabbris story is true, you’re basically saying that universal scale spells are possible and if you want to cast any spell you simply have to accumulate the power for it over time. Here are the problems that I think that this create for your story:

    1. Someone was actually capable to cast a spell over the whole universe simply (yes ‘simply’) from draining a little power from supposedly powerful people for ten years. Cerulean, you’ve established that planetary scale spells are possible before, but I don’t think you really understand the difference in scale between a planet and the universe. In the scale of the universe there’s not much difference between a planet and a grain of sand. The idea that someone could cast a spell over the whole universe by ‘simply’ accumulating power for ten years is honestly ridiculous to me.

    2. Why haven’t the Seosten or the Fomorians simply accumulated power over time and cast a powerful spell to annihilate each other like the blood plague? You’ve basically established that universal scale spells and accumulating power over time for spells is possible, so why haven’t the Seosten destroyed the Fomorians or vice versa by casting a super spell at each other? Even if you establish right now that the supposedly undefendable blood plague is now actually defendable, which will honestly feel like an ass pull to me, have neither the Seosten nor the Fomorians developed another undefendable spell in a hundred thousand years? Or they could have developed a spell that would brute force through any defenses that would kill/enslave/disable the other and accumulated enough power to cast it.

    This is what I can think of off the top of my head. Honestly, how few limits your magic system has is already a problem, but if power can simply be accumulated over time to cast power intensive spells, your story will have some very serious holes that you will have to patch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m inclined to say that this is the sort of plot hole that’s really not a big deal and easy to ignore, like the whole concept of two species fighting for hundreds of thousands of years unendingly, or the Seosten language (Latin) and the trade language (English) remaining the same over thousands of years even though that’s not remotely how languages work. That said, this sort of thing has bothered me too. (Not this specific instance, but there’s another bit of magic at a ridiculous scale.)

      That said, I do like trying to make stories work. To take a stab at this specific one: Maybe both sides have dedicated teams of defensive mages accumulating power to block the other side’s superweapon spells. Sort of like cyber warfare, a whole additional dimension of the battlefield.

      But I’ve got nothing for Tabbris’s thing. Until you pointed it out, I didn’t consider that if he could do what he did, then logically the Seraphim as a whole could use far stronger super-powerful spells.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for your thoughts. 🙂 Basically what Pondincherry said, there are groups of magical specialists on both sides watching for that kind of energy to be gathered, using counterspells, that kind of thing. As they put it, like cyberwarfare but with magic. A different side of the war that isn’t as well known and open as battles.

      And as far as your first point goes, the original Tabbris was kind of an unprecedented magical genius that doesn’t come along very often, if ever. He did a lot of things with those spells of his that no one has really understood since. It’s not simply a matter of having enough power, it’s basically inventing entire new fields of magic. Athena was simplifying things for the story.

      So yeah, OG Tabbris was in a very unique position with a very unique skill set. And there may be more to that story to be seen in time. 😉

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