Extra Chapter: Awkward Meeting
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This is very short, even for an extra chapter. I wrote this as a "tone setter" for the upcoming Arc 3. In retrospect, this might have been as a prologue but hey. In any case, there is a laundry list of things I need to say, and so I figured drafting a quick Extra Chapter would work better than doing this all on a main chapter or releasing another "Not a Chapter". A lot of this is related to stuff that has been going on for some time, though the Covid stuff is new.


Spoiler

Regarding my Covid tests: Still waiting for results. But HR is being a bit assholeish about me quarantining. Basically, I never actually went to the hospital. My risk factor for Covid is super low (Vaccinated, under 30, no preexisting conditions), so I just called my GP and asked if I should get a test done as a formality. Well HR doesn't like that, and are being cunts about me not going to work the past few days. If the test doesn't come back positive, they might try and fire me. (I do plan on suing if that happens).


This isn't so much towards the people who will actually read it, but just in case. The synopsis has a line in it: "Do not comment to inform that you are 'Dropping the Story because of X/Y/Z' These comments will be removed." I don't need to see you saying your dropping the story; just go. I can deal with honest criticism just fine, but "I'm dropping here." comes across entirely different from normal criticism.


As far as the clean up project is concerned, I've added the Tragedy Genre. I still disagree with this, however it seems my own opinion goes against the general consensus. That said, this kills the story's growth. Most people filter that tag out, so by having it there I imagine a lot of people who would otherwise have enjoyed the story won't find it.

To that end, I'd just like to ask you all to share the story occasionally. If you see somebody asking for isekai recommendations, consider pointing them over here.

As an aside, this doesn't have anything to do with the recent review; that was shitty timing. I've fed the story to an English lit teacher I'm friends with to get their thoughts, and it is on their recommendation that I decided to add the Tragedy Genre.


To the Future: Writing Tricked has been a journey. I've learned a lot, and we are far from finished. That being said, it is also starting to feel a little bit stifling. Not that I don't enjoy writing it, far from that. I just have a lot of other ideas that I can't properly express with Tricked as a medium. You might have noticed a bit of this frustration in the chapter lengths; with some exceptions, chapters from the second half of Arc 2 were markedly shorter than Arc 1 and the first half of Arc 2. Another example I can point to and that people have commented on, is how some aspects of recent chapters have seemed a bit disjointed or "out of nowhere." 

Starting two weeks from today. (So on 01/30/2022) I plan on reducing the upload frequency from three chapters a week to two. The new upload schedule will be Mondays and Fridays at 11:00 AM UTC-7.

This is something I've been considering since January, and have finally decided to do.


Going along with this, I am planning to launch a new series. It will have some similar tropes to Tricked (Fantasy, Gender Bender, Isekai, LitRPG) but will be set in a different world, and have a different tone. My hope is that people who are frustrated by Tricked receiving less content can at least enjoy this new story.

I don't have an official release date for it yet, just that the first will be in early February. I've been flipping the idea for this new story around in my head almost as long as I've been writing Tricked, and now I've decided to use it to give myself a breather and break up my writing.

This is not going to replace Tricked, it is simply going to be a project running concurrently.

[collapse]

Stahlia, Ten Years Old, Eighth Month of 947

I stood at the entrance to the meeting room in trepidation. Waiting for me inside was the grandfather of Asten, the boy I had consigned to death. Along with him was Count Francois, the father of my Fiancée, and Prince Rupert von Drakas, third prince of the realm.

At my side, I had my Fiancée Dominic, who I had just learned was, in fact, most likely controlling me. Or at least influencing me to some extent. Frankly, that knowledge was as relieving as it was frightening. On one hand, I knew for sure that my conflicted and confusing feelings were, in all likelihood, not entirely mine.

On the other hand, that meant that I was dealing with thoughts that stemmed from an outside source. In a way, I guess it’s sort of similar to how Pet and Claire are with each other…. No, that was just rambling on my part. There were only the shallowest of similarities there.

Still, knowing exactly how low he was made for cold comfort when he was at my side like he was. I took his hand while forcing my own to not twitch and allowed myself to be escorted into the room. I have to keep up appearances. I felt like that was becoming my mantra, but it was true. I needed to blend in while training myself up.

Though I had been getting distracted from that. Part of me wanted to blame the boy standing on my left, but deep down I knew it was also me. Despite having thought I had acknowledged that this world wasn’t a game, I hadn’t done anything to really change how I was “playing” it.

I entered the room, and gave my greeting as stiffly and as formally as possible. After all, one of the Princes was in attendance. I still wasn’t sure how I should feel about that, probably glad? It will at least help contain Percius. On the other hand, this Prince in particular was the one who introduced me to Dominic. It’s only logical to wonder how much he knows about him.

For now, I marked the Prince as a “potential enemy”. He was of course a very real enemy in the grand scheme of my goals, but for now, I was willing to play nice if he was.

“A pleasure to meet you again, Lady Stahlia. I am glad to see you are doing well, all things considered.” The prince gave me a seated half-bow, to which I responded with a proper full curtsy and gave my own  personal greeting, “Indeed, I am most honored to find myself in your presence once again.”

At that, I took my seat in the indicated place, and Percius cleared his throat, signaling the commencement of the meeting, “Lord Dominic, Lady Stahlia, Tell… Please share with those present what happened.” His voice sounded tired and empty. He really did love his grandson.

I took a deep breath and began recounting the events that had happened in Ang. Dominic occasionally supplemented something I missed, at least until I got to the part where he was knocked unconscious. For this, I told the same fabricated fight that I had already shared. It was a minor concern that Dominic would learn that these events were a fabrication by question Jacqueline, however, there was little I could do about that until I had time to come up with an answer to that problem.

In this case, however, he was either biting his tongue or was not aware of the ruse. Either way, I was able to speak uninterrupted. It was a bit difficult for me to portray things properly given my Remorse was still off, so I adopted a hesitating tone of voice, hoping to make it seem like my delivery was dry because I found the events so horrifying.

By the time I had finished, Count Francois had begun tapping his gloved fingers on the arm of his chair, while Percius was trying to discreetly wipe tears from the corner of his eyes. The prince didn’t say anything, merely held his hands clasped in front of his face, appearing deep in thought.

After a while, it was Percius who finally broke the silence, “Well, Lord Francois, Your Majesty, I can confirm that the demon encountered was indeed at least a high demon. The fact that they managed to wound it at all is exceptionally impressive.”

Then, turning to me, Percius did something rather unexpected. Rather than blame me for Asten’s death, he thanked me, “Lady Stahlia, thank you for recounting my grandson’s final moments. I am sure that was difficult for you.”

All I could do in response was briefly nod. I had prepared a few excuses under the assumption that he would be angry or upset, but I hadn’t thought of anything to say if he was grateful. I mean, you’re welcome? It wasn’t hard to recount at all though…

From there, things moved along swiftly. It was quickly established that I should be granted early leave from this school year, and would be able to return to spend it in my home village. That’s an unexpected boon. Getting away from everybody for a few months should give me some time to reevaluate what I should be doing, and hopefully come up with countermeasures to Dominic.

The fact that it’s my home village as well means I should be able to level up a few times at least, it might be that I can find a skill or two that will help with my issues. I can also speak with Sieg about Jacqueline’s arm… though there’s no way that such a small remote shop will be able to provide a restorative for that.

We were let out of the meeting after another hour, and Dominic escorted me out of the building and down towards the street, where he helped me into the carriage. It was strange, but now that I knew that it wasn’t my own influence that was leading to my conflicted feelings, it was like some sort of veil had been lifted from over my eyes.

Rather than set my heart aflutter when he squeezed my hand, all I felt now was a bit annoyed. Even when he kissed my hand after letting me on the carriage, instead of being at a loss for words, I was just annoyed. I still found myself blushing, it was embarrassing after all. But I was able to look past my own embarrassment and see what was really going on.

I have a lot of planning to do for the next few months. Considering everything I need to do, two years until I graduate might not actually be enough time. I had a lot of work to do, but the future was at least hopeful, as long as I kept my eyes forwards.

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