Mansiya the Wise
It was hard to open her eyelids, but Mansiya couldn’t hear any sounds outside of her room so she didn’t hurry. This weakness of her body was expected just as it was transient. An unpleasant but acceptable price for her desire.
The light shone through the sand of her sleep and Mansiya couldn’t stop a wince — the dusk of evening felt like midday’s scorching sun. This was her room as she remembered it, untouched and undisturbed. The same glowing runes that etched the walls of her abode, most of which were carved by her hands. The same sky in the window and familiar branches of a cherry tree outside.
Mansiya scowled. “I believe we had a bargain, Godling.”
“And the bargain is met,” an expected voice was quick to respond. “But each bargain has a price.”
She flexed her neck, twisting it from side to side. “You had the patience to give me ample time for my slumber until now.”
The Divine walked into her view, dwarfing her spacious room with his size. “I am not very patient today. Rather, I am quite impatient for your talent.”
Arms came after her neck. She stretched them out and flexed her fingers so that the warm blood would return their flexibility. Mansiya sighed; all that age and power and he still acted like a child. “I would ask you to keep the time still for a while, however. While I do not mind indulging your requests, it will take me some time to wake up properly.”
“Don’t be so grumpy, Old Mansiya. Many would kill just to gain what you have, if an act of killing somehow earned that right, and I am quite aware of your ‘morning routine’.”
“You expect me to greet you with joyful smiles? Have you already forgotten that the last time I woke up, I was not-so-pleasantly informed about your mother breaking my Manor apart?”
“A necessary task, as you know. A pampered child will starve a whole sadaq.”
“I understand the intentions of Noble Emanai — it doesn’t mean I have to like them.” She sighed. “What is your quest? Have you meddled into another war you can’t resolve quickly enough before your mother notices?”
Having said that, Mansiya stretched her arm in an expectant gesture.
The Divine smiled and a scroll floated over into her palm. The weight of the parchment was at least five times lighter than she usually received after her awakening. This only further confirmed how little she had slept through.
“No. Arms move just as they are ordained and there are no major offensives on the horizon…” the Divine paused mid-speech as he played with his Flow tentacle, flicking the golden bell attached to its tip. “The near future might prove to be quite interesting so don’t be too surprised if your next nap is just as short. Unless you wish to miss all the fun and read the summary as usual.”
“Our ideas about ‘fun’ differ, young Divine,” Mansiya murmured as her eyes quickly scanned through the past events in Emanai. “My Manor is long gone and my descendants seek glory in our connection and nothing more. While I feel affection for my bloodline, how deeply should I care for my niece’s great-granddaughter’s current exploits?”
She threw the scroll on a nearby table in a huff. “Look at her! She is giving away one of her sons to some logger girl simply because she met your mother! How pathetic is that!?”
“Times change. While your contemporaries often visited our palace in person, your descendants are strong and resilient enough not to depend on us to survive another year. They still remember our power and our goodwill. Likewise, the Kiymetl isn’t some logging Manor anymore.”
“Leave your honeyed words for some naive boy. Emanai is strong — the individuals are weak! While we fought for every hill and valley in the land-between-mountains, the current generation is gorging themselves with lavish feasts within their walled Manors. Bickering at each other rather than expanding our influence. Gone is our Citadel of the Sky, leaving only the Pillars and the city that grew around it.” Mansiya grumbled to herself, “I wonder if my Manor had stayed strong and not succumbed to luxury…”
“Would its fate be different?” the Divine interrupted her. “Absolutely. It would’ve been worse. Rather than carefully growing three heads from one body, it would have shattered into a myriad of pieces, ripped apart by the ambitions of many. The task of your generation was to grow strong, while your descendants face different challenges. You were a young vigorous spring, rushing among the treacherous cliffs; they are a majestic river, nurturing the fields of gold alongside it. You are wise, Old Mansiya, but you can’t ask the river to jump and hop over its obstacles like a mountain stream would — all it would do is ruin the fields.”
She stopped and vigorously shook her head, casting off the incoherent thoughts of a drowsy mind like one would shake off water. “You are right as always, Divine. Please ignore this shameful display of mine. And, please, don’t call me old — while I was born before you, you have seen more seasons passing by your eyes. What do you require of me?”
His tail grabbed the chest of chisels on her table and slid it closer. “I need your other skills.”
“Runecrafting? To think my desire, that brought me into this room, was recognised by a Divine… While I memorised every codex in your library, my artefacts are mere trinkets by your standards.” Her eyes glanced past his mischievous smile and noticed the still-glowing runework on the wall. “Oh…”
“I am sorry, Old Mansiya, but I require a little bit of discretion for the time being.” He chuckled and pulled out a sheathed sword.
She scrunched her nose; there was more oil than metal in that bundle but the smell was unknown to her.
“Why would you apologise?” She felt her ears tilt in amusement and quickly stopped her tail from wagging. “Now I can concentrate on something I like without worrying about time. You know of my desires — while there is plenty of life within my bones, I have no intention of growing old for quite some time. These waking moments, while infrequent and short, do add up.”
Flicking her wrist, she summoned a piece of cloth and slid the blade free while making sure her hand stays clean. “What an unusual shape.”
The ‘sword’ was straight and flat, like a thin paddle, without a point for stabbing. It looked rather delicate, like some toy for a young wermage or a ceremonial sword for a limp hand. No wonder it didn’t have a point — a good thrust would crumble this blade like a leaf of grass. A symbol of an Enoch master smith further added to the confusion. Their swords were at least twice as long and ten times as heavy. If they even had swords and not warhammers.
“Careful. It is very sharp.”
“What do you want to engrave on it?” she asked him as she flexed the blade. Good steel for a toy sword. “Something flashy? Or something devious?”
“I would not ask you for intricate runework. While you know many designs, it is your talent with basic artefact runes that makes you stand out even among Artificers. Full Persistence runework. Make it outlive my grandchildren.”
She sputtered, “What!?”
The sword twitched in her hand with a low twang and something hit the side of her head. Surprised, she glanced at the freely swaying blade. Something was wrong but she couldn’t tell what.
She looked down and stared at four fingers laying in her lap. They were familiar.
The Divine sighed, “I warned you — it is very sharp.”
Mansiya let go and jerked away, watching the blade sink into the floor up to its hilt. “What is that!?”
“Give me your hand,” he ordered and started reattaching the missing fingers one by one. “It is a very sharp sword. And I want it to stay like that for a very long time.”
“You don’t say.” She didn’t bother to look at him. Healing magic was common in Emanai and she had centuries to grow used even to Divine spells. But this blade was something special, lacking even a flicker in Flow. “Since when could Enoch smiths craft something like this!?”
“They cannot. It is a murk blade.”
“What!?” Mansiya heard herself repeating the word once again. “This is a disaster!”
“It could be. But I am willing to risk it. These blades are too few in numbers to pose a legitimate threat to Emanai and their creator is well aware of how dangerous they could be in the wrong hands.” He stopped and pondered for a moment. The blade rose up from the floor and slid back into its scabbard. “As far as I know, there are currently less than five across the entire Tana.”
“And what if there are more? This quality doesn’t appear out of nowhere, nor does it vanish unless its master takes it to her grave! I remember your lessons quite well — even you can’t foresee things created without Flow.”
“Yes, I do not know when another one is created nor do any other heurisks, and that is exactly why this conversation is happening here and right ‘now’. I meant more when I called it a murk blade than the nature of its creation — its fleeting lifespan is comparable. Even coated in the embalming oil, its sharpness won’t see the light of another day. A dry blade will burn right in front of your very eyes as if the air itself abhors the impossible edge of the steel. The wermage reinforcement runes could make it last no more than a tenday. With this knowledge, I don’t need to track the swords, just their creators.”
“Enoch…murk…” Mansiya furrowed her brow and reached for the scroll of Emanai history yet again. There was something there she dismissed previously. Her eyes quickly skimmed through the text to find exactly what she was looking for. “The Kiymetl Daimon!”
His grin was damning.
Her claws crumbled the parchment. “So this wasn’t some harebrained rumour? Stupid Roshanak — you should’ve given your daughter to him, not your son to his wife! Did this Aikerim Adal catch someone’s fancy in this palace? Or is he yours?”
The Divine shook his head. “I have no progeny so far and I intend to keep it that way for some time — the stars aren’t right, yet. Neither my family nor Flow itself is responsible — Erf is a ‘murk daimon’ of sorts.”
She stared at him. “What is a ‘murk daimon of sorts’?”
“What is a daimon, then?”
“Usually the result of a male Divine blessing a wermage with his seed. Or a female one sending her children down.”
“Most of the time, yes, but not always. There are many recorded daimonas who were born from wermage parents, just as there are wermage children sired by wer or even murks. The gifts of Arkshi, as we call them. Why wouldn’t Mreea give her gifts to us as well?”
Mansiya had no answer to that reasoning. If someone else had asked her this question, she would simply have stated that this was how things were. The Earth Mother, as the Heurisks called the Supreme Goddess, provided flesh while The Sky Father gifted Flow. Ancient codices said that Arkshi knew his raw power was too strong to bear so he blessed Mreea’s wombs with his seed, ordaining future mothers to give birth to children stronger than themselves. A wer would step from the womb of a murk, and a wermage from a wer. It was said that the first Divine was born from two daimonas and there would be a time when two Divines would bear a child of Arkshi himself.
To claim that there was another type of daimon that went in the other direction, away from Arkshi’s light was… absurd at best. Incomprehensible. Something that was more murk? Daimonas lived longer than most wermages, would this one live even shorter than a murk?
“How old is he?”
“The cards say that he was born less than half a year ago and more than a few millennia. After speaking with him, I believe them.” He grinned. “Rather than Flow whispering him secrets, Mreea whispers them through his flesh. This sword is just one example of such whispers and I am eager to hear them all. Emanai is eager, for it will emerge stronger with him around.”
“You aren’t taking him to the palace?”
“No. While you both have curious minds, your main goals are nothing alike. You seek the knowledge itself, while he seeks to apply his to the world. Even if he came here willingly, Erf would outgrow the palace life in a matter of decades, if not years.”
Mansiya thought to herself for a moment. “You gave me the freedom to challenge your words so I will ask now: is this wise? Even if he is the champion of Mreea, something that only you claim right now, that is a lot of power outside of Noble Emanai’s control. What if he turns his secrets on your family? At our land?”
“Because he has something that even I do not. While heurisks see time illuminated by Arkshi’s light, Erf knows the past hidden in Mreea’s shadow. That alone makes him invaluable to me. He is also quite wilful and headstrong — pushing him under the control of my mother will only breed resentment and force me to kill him for the safety of my family. I prefer to uncover his secrets by working alongside him.”
The Divine floated over her table and poked the sword with his tail. “He is just like this blade, you know? Sharp, deadly, full of secrets… Strong, and flexible… Yet there is an attached handle for a reason, fit for a hand. Erf is no Cancer sprout — he doesn’t seek indiscriminate destruction just to feast on someone’s Spark. His power seeks to help and support.”
She opened her chest and started to pick out the proper chisels for the task ahead. “A naive hero then, that read too many old codices? Because a wilful daimon that wishes to be used doesn’t make sense to me.”
“Not used, no. It is almost as if there is an obligation buried deep within his soul. Like the duty of a mother to see her children prosper. His rants remind me of you, you know? Just as you frustrate yourself when looking at the Houses of War, he grumbles about Tana. Speaking about the things that aren’t and things that should be.”
“As if Mreea herself was speaking through him?”
He shrugged. “It fits. He might call her by different names or even deny her existence — I do not care. What really matters is the concept that he follows. There are shadows in the River of Fate that concern me, and I’d hate to lose him as my ally when they reach us. Because he, who sees this land as his home and all races of Tana as his people — humans, will stand against anything that would pose a threat to what he holds dear.”
His words were, as usual, not very easy to follow. Many Heurisks spoke in a similar way as their reasoning was both governed by things that happened and by things that were yet to come. Only now did Mansiya understand his previous apology.
“So that is why you were apologising.” She smiled and tapped her claws on the table. “Not because you woke me up so early but because you knew I would end up curious yet remain stuck here for the foreseeable ‘future’. And the next time I wake up he might be long dead.”
“Unless you want to wake up even sooner?” He goaded her back. “Or even worse — step out of this chamber and walk the earth once more?”
“Erf spoke of warfare too, you know? I didn’t need to explain how arms of Emanai worked — he already knew. Because others fought in the past like Emanai does today. The philosopher and runecrafter in you might wish to stay here and enjoy the research to your heart’s content, but what about the general in you? Does she feel fulfilled?”
“Damn you, Albin Emanai Wazara, and damn your words,” she growled at him. “Come here and help me with the runes. If you want the best result you can get, I will need your assistance. And then get out of here and finish whatever tricks you are planning so that I can wake again. Remember — if I die of boredom in Emanai, my ghost will haunt you in the afterlife.”
Amanzhan Kiymetl Irada
“What do you mean, Enoch Matriarch is reconsidering our alliance!?” she thundered at the Enoch wermage.
“Reconsider is a strong word,” Esmat Enoch Fidda shook her horns. “The alliance between the Enoch and the Kiymetl is stronger than ever. My mother wishes to maintain good relations with all Kiymetl Manors. She can’t prioritise yours at the expense of others.”
“So Aikerim managed to make an offer that Zamindar Azrin could not refuse,” she sighed in realisation.
“Watch your words, Amanzhan,” Esmat huffed. “It is the Matriarch of Enoch you are talking about here, not just some Domina. You might be frustrated about your younger sister rapidly growing in power just as I am about mine, but that does not give you the right to offend my mother. Aikerim Adal welcomed my sister in her Manor and gave her wealth, knowledge, and power incomparable to anything else Kiymetl had offered to us prior to that. It is wise for my mother to nurture a lamb with golden fleece.”
“Yes, I spoke out of frustration. What about the refuse from the smithies? Is it also void?”
Esmat’s tail swished in frustration. “If you wish to continue, you are free to do so. But my advice would be to cease — it is a worthless endeavour.”
“Does that mean you are giving up on matching your sister?”
“What choice do I have!?” Esmat thundered back. “I’ve seen the result of Isra’s work — she isn’t chasing after fulad secrets at all. All this time, she was seeking steel, very good steel but nothing extraordinary!”
Amanzhan’s heart sunk. “So this was all a ruse to waste our time? No wonder Aikerim didn’t struggle!”
“It was not a ruse,” Esmat grumbled. “The secret was not about the impossible products they were making but that they could achieve impossible results out of garbage! They were seeking refuse because it was free and plentiful, that’s all. Unless you are willing to purchase all iron ore that reaches Samat only to dump it into the sea, your efforts will be in vain.”
“Wait. If all she makes is steel, why can’t we do the same? Why is your Matriarch so concerned about it?”
“Scale. It can take almost a tenday for one smith to make enough good steel for one weapon. Isra made enough steel in a tenday for ten thousand. Pure, good steel. And then she gave it all to our Manor! Our smithies in Samat can spend an entire year working every day just on this steel alone. Do you really think our Matriarch would ignore that?”
“Do you think I would be here if I knew? I would be at the Pillar Manor putting on my new Matriarch sash! I’ve been puking my guts in the smithy for days, trying to discern how Isra was able to achieve her results.”
“He is a murk. It is preposterous to think that he taught her spells.”
“Obviously not. He is an alchemist and likely taught her mixtures that burn hotter than ever and elixirs that clean poison from steel. We both know that her Manor purchases coal in bulk: the constant smoke rising within their walls makes it impossible to miss. Yet other smithies have to use charcoal because coal poisons steel and makes it crumble from a single hammer strike. This is why she was seeking refuse — it didn’t matter to her if that steel was poisoned by the smithing process when she could purify it anyway. My problem is that I have no alchemist of comparable skill! I can’t spend centuries trying to discern the legs of what frog need to be boiled to obtain proper ingredients.”
“What if we somehow encouraged Isra Haleh to return? She is no Esca envoy, stuck under the chains of servitude…”
A nearby couch groaned when Esmat threw herself on it and crossed her legs. “My mother offered her a personal Manor and potentially the chance to become the next Matriarch. Isra vehemently refused. Do you have better offers?”
“Exactly. Tarhunna Wafiq loves his wife just as he loves his maternal Manor. He chose the best possible candidate — Isra Haleh lives and breathes metal to the point of social ineptitude. Unless you are capable of summoning one of the Hsaca smiths to teach her how to make fulad, I seriously doubt you will be able to dislodge her from her current position. Not in any way that my Matriarch would find agreeable, or I for that matter.”
“What do you suggest we do next?” Amanzhan asked her smith.
“Cut the losses here and seek success elsewhere. At this point in time, Isra Haleh is unrivalled in Samat in the production of quality steel. If she can continue at the current pace, she would make as much weapon-grade steel in a season as the entire Emanai makes in a year. Rather than trying to catch up with her, we have to remember that the daimon is gone. Either for one or two seasons — possibly forever as the Forest can be cruel to newcomers. Whatever she is doing now, her path is set for the foreseeable future. The task is to figure it out and see if we can profit from it.”
“Unless that was her plan all along,” Amanzhan mused.
“What do you mean?”
“Perhaps she gave you this much steel exactly so that you would depend on it. Imagine what Enoch smiths would say after working with this steel for a year and learning that there is no more unless they buy from Aikerim’s Manor? Do you think they will return to their old ways?”
“That isn’t Isra. Too devious.”
“You think that Aikerim herself couldn’t suggest the nature of the gift? What about Shahin Esca?” Amanzhan reasoned back.
The smith froze for a second and then swore. “She was quite eloquent during her last speech. Too eloquent. Even Matriarch commended her ‘growth’!”
“Well, there you have it.” The Kiymetl Speaker leaned back. The revelation didn’t bring her pleasure, merely informed her that yet another loophole was now closed. And a grim realisation of how much could go wrong if they stayed ignorant.
She thought for a second then nodded to herself. “The steel can’t remain in Emanai. Observe your sister and see if she tries to sell any. Make sure that no other Manor gets their hands on it. We will use whatever Kiymetl and Enoch smiths can handle and sell the rest abroad on my ships. As long as Isra Haleh sells her steel through us, our profits will follow hers. Or even eclipse them.”
Esmat grinned. “Spoken like a true merchant.”
“Can you tell me something?” Albin said with his tongue sticking out, his face full of concentration. “What made you so curious about rocks from the Babr Mountains?”
I coughed and put the pouch away. “It is an unusual formation.”
“It is?” He carefully placed his last finger on the string and struck a chord. “Mountains are rather plentiful as far as I can tell. So are badlands where things barely grow. Or are you talking about the lack of sharp peaks?”
Wooed by my skilful melodies, Albin had expressed his desire to learn the guitar as well. A decision that was rather… divisive. Anaise spent the day freaking out while Irje tried to calm her down while laughing herself silly every time she glanced at us. I could still tell where they were from the occasional laugh coming over.
In Emanai, a musical career was seen as rather… unseemly. Whorish, to be precise. It was an act of giving pleasure to others for the sake of earning money and, as such, drew parallels with prostitution. While I — a murk slave, an eccentric daimon, and an artist with decent skill — had many things that excused my ‘behaviour’, even in the eyes of my sadaq, Albin had to rely on his eccentricity alone. Granted, he had plenty of it for both of us combined, but he was also the Speaker of Shebet and overall a very bigwig around here.
In the eyes of Anaise, one of Emanai’s co-rulers asked me to teach him how to suck dick. And then started studiously following my instructions to the letter.
I had a feeling that Irje was mostly enjoying the faces Anaise made rather than laughing at Albin himself. Even I couldn’t stop a chuckle or two when my wife ran around the place while pulling her ears down in second-hand shame and embarrassment.
Facing her protestations, Albin simply shrugged and offhandedly warned her that such behaviour would only make her ears stretch as long as his were.
Anaise sputtered something incoherent and left us alone, dragging Irje away from our shameful display.
“It is the combination of all that and more.” I shifted his hand into a new position. The damned mage didn’t even need nanites to memorise movements after a single try! He was probably stopping time after every exercise so that he could repeat it a thousand times like a cheater. “The rocks it is made out of aren’t something you often find on the surface. This is the reason why plants tend to avoid growing there — they aren’t used to that type of soil.”
“Huh. An interesting way to look at it. But why are those deep rocks on the surface then? Someone flipped the earth upside-down?”
“That would be rather catastrophic. It is not that they are always deep but they tend to settle there.” I cautiously glanced at him. “Are you aware that Tana is mostly a molten ball with only the surface being cold and solid?”
There were few codices on geology in Emanai and most spoke of ores as if they were potatoes. If everything was mined out, one simply had to wait until new ores regrew. Needless to say, I didn’t want to rush too far ahead with my revelations.
“Yeah, my cousins and I once dug a tunnel down when we were playing as kids. The ground started to glow and leak after a while. We tried to dig around or dig elsewhere but it was always the same no matter where we went. Wasn’t pleasant.”
“You know, usually kids play with sand, build sandcastles, and complain when water seeps through their holes and collapses them,” I grumbled at him.
He struck another chord. “Oh, we built castles out of it too. Lava is quite easy to handle while it’s hot.”
“Ugh. Remind me to use fire protection when Anaise has my kids.” Just for that imagery alone, Albin was now designated as the bass guitarist.
“Nah, that’s the stuff you expect. It is the everyday things that will catch you by surprise. Like the food they suddenly don’t like anymore. Make sure you know how to duck quickly.”
“I can see why you would jump to the conclusion that someone flipped the ground upside down.” I scratched my head in contemplation. “Who knows, maybe this was just some overeager wermage child digging too far and too greedily. If wermages existed back then.”
I recalled the vision of Chirp flying over the Babr Mountains. The enormous plateau was carved apart by the canyons of many rivers running through it. “Well, the mountain range is still rather young, so probably a hundred million years. Maybe two or three. Hard to tell with a glance.”
Albin bent down laughing.
“No. It’s just…” He tried to collect himself. “Think how you look from the side, Erf. A murk casually calling something that is a hundred thousand millennia old as young!”
“Youth is relative,” I sniffed, “when there are mountains that are a thousand thousand millennia old and even older. Some are so old that you don’t even recognise them as mountains since they have eroded into gentle hills. By Tana’s age, the Babr Mountains are young.”
“What about the Sefids?”
I glanced west. In that direction, beyond the horizon, was the other mountain range that protected Emanai. “Even younger. They are likely still growing. Although their method of formation is different. So is their composition. The Sefid Mountains were formed by surfaces slowly folding and squishing together, like a sheet of cloth that you push with your finger. The Babr mountains likely formed catastrophically fast, when an enormous amount of deep, heavy magma decided to breach the surface and covered a vast area of land under the cooling massif. Probably killed everything around as well as most life on Tana in the process.”
Albin stopped playing and turned to the east. “How often does that happen?”
“Rarely. Very rarely. I do not have enough knowledge to give you the exact estimates for Tana but there is proof right under our feet. Remember how I said that Tana is but a ball of liquid? Think what happens if you mix oil and water.”
“Exactly. Given time, they will form separate layers once again. Something similar is happening with Tana as well where lighter magma slowly moves closer to the surface and heavier elements keep sinking. If such massive eruptions were frequent, the whole surface of Tana would be covered in badlands.”
“And what kind of ores would such deep rock yield? Orichalcum? Mythril?”
I rolled my eyes. “As if. Nickel and Chrome. Stuff that plants are dying to get.”
“So, not very magical?”
“Yes, quite murkical.”
“Sounds like an Erf metal to me.” He elbowed me and turned back to the guitar. “Planning to move in soon?”
“Yes. Right after I finish ten years of military service,” I snarked back at him, rubbing my side. I already missed his pokey tail. “Gonna get me a cosy plot of land where almost nothing grows and eke out a simple existence by herding goats. Anaise would be thrilled.”
He laughed and I sighed. “While they can be useful to have around, they aren’t as critical as iron and copper. Something that Emanai already has plenty of. Especially since getting them out of the ground would be quite an annoyance. Just because something is present in the rock doesn’t always mean it is worthwhile to mine it.”
“Are we talking about Emanai ‘useful’ or Erf ‘useful’ here? Because if it is the latter, I am heading to my tent to pick up my shovel.”
“If you want to have steel utensils that do not rust — be my guest. And you will need a bigger shovel. Maybe ask the Kishava Lady. I am certain that a single wink from you and you will have a chicken-leg excavator at your disposal.”
“Isn’t that the exact problem with your swords?”
I shook my head. “Even if I was stupid enough to mass-produce them, they would still have those limitations. For some things, steel simply doesn’t cut it and stainless steel is rather crap for weapons in general. There will be some improvements with other alloys but I am nowhere at the stage where those improvements are relevant. It takes Isra a moment to power runes on her tools. It would take me months of time and piles of gold to achieve a fraction of that improvement. Just not worth it.”
“Don’t worry, Erf,” he grinned at me. “Fight bravely and come back victorious. Once you do so, I, Albin yadda yadda of many important titles and silly squiggles on my sash, will grant you a personal plot of land on those slopes! And ten goats. No need to wait for ten years. For that, you will supply my Manor with the cutlery that lacks stains.”
I sputtered at his audacity. “For ten goats!? Do you want me to encrust them with gems as well, oh generous patron of mine?”
“Will these gems be stain less too?”
“Yes, until I stab them into you. Then they will be stained with your greed. Fifteen goats.”
“Eleven and a billy. And you get me a guitar as well.”
How many goats for the next chapter?
I second this. Asking for a friend.
@TehFoxFire Motion seconded. All in favor say AYE!
about half of a pound here apparently.
@Snusmumriken converting units is too troublesome. I will just wait patiently...
Albin: Hey Erf, I know you have trouble with women. Here, have fun with a millennia old Daimona.
I am assuming Mansiya is one.
Oh Albin, you magnificent sh*t stirring bastard.
she wouldn't be a daimona, otherwise Albin wouldn't have asked the question of what a daimona is as she would already know.
She the progenitor of the house that tried to offer one of their sons to Anaise. She reads the report and says her house is stupid for giving a son to Anaise instead of a daughter to Erf. That's when Albin explains to her that Erf is a murk daimon
@the_chief Albin is using the Socratic method
He likes to murkwatch after all
Damn Albin and Erf shenanigans always lighten up the day
So... along with time stop, Albin can teleport as well? I am assuming the first scene was either in the floating castle or some other place the Divines use...
Yeah, Flow seems to give a big fat middle finger to the rules of physics and spacetime, with the higher-end stuff just outright stopping time and warping space. That chamber is probably some kind of temporal stasis thingummy that does a Rip Van Winkle on the occupant.
I still feel that Flow is some kind of 4th-dimensional (or higher) jiggery-pokery. I'm reminded of A Sphere from Flatland, being able to see anywhere and 'teleport' any place in Flatland from his lofty perch on the Z-axis. I figure it's similarly easy to view timelines and manipulate spacetime when you're a dimension or two 'above' 3D space.
Given that there were teleportation shenanigans during the Divine Ritual, Albin being able to teleport isn't terribly surprising.
@fox6s I should have made that connection, but I keep forgetting Albin is tied to them.
Albin is a man of many talents!
@Tupperwarez it can't be magic if I explained it too quickly
Time stop is functionally the same as teleportation to any outside observers.
@Jackthedream If anyone's going to pull a Dio Brando, it's gonna be Sophia.
"How many theorems can you prove in the frozen time?"
That's a pretty big reveal that Albin is actually a brat from the floating god palace.
Good. Sounds like Albin is going to run interference and protect Erf from annoying deities.
I feel like that was already revealed by the conversation he had with his mother when they all got poofed into the castle.
Huh. I missed that somehow.
he's one of the children of a woman whose name became the city's name, so he's one of those 'Heurisks', or Divine. but i get it, i don't even remember my breakfast sometimes let alone smth from a week ago
well he will continue what he was doing previously.
@alshb Country name. the City is named after the Pillar Manor.
@Snusmumriken ah yes, the City's Samat. sorry, and thank you
@Snusmumriken Now that you mention it, I was wondering how the neighboring countries/groups work. I'd guess that the mountain clans are the jurisdiction of a different Heurisk (something Hsaca something, probably), but what about the nomad tribes? Are they 'stateless' wers who don't have a patron Heurisk?
I figure they'd still acknowledge Divine authority, otherwise they'd be branded heretics or apostates, and things end very badly when that happens. That would interesting if they respected the power of the Divines, but decline their aid and supervision out of some desire to prove their strength and conviction to the Gods.
@Tupperwarez Every large "community" has a deity. Either because that is how they grew large or once they gre large, they were "taken over". There are obviously small communities here and there which no one cares about.
I had to make a separate comment just to talk about Mreea and Arkshi, because the Tanaan creation myth is really fascinating to me. It's the closest look the reader has had to clues about what happened for Tana to be the way it is, imo It also helps that I like themes of duality, I guess
Arkshi seems pretty straightforward to me. He's the source of the Flow, possibly some extra-dimensional being who took pity on the struggling colonists, and did the necessary tweaking that allowed Spark formation. It sounds like he intended it to be a 'generational project' of sorts, introducing weak traits that would slowly strengthen through interbreeding, eventually producing a being equal to his power? If so, the wermages really threw a spanner into those works by stratifying society the way they did, huh?
Mreea is more interesting. She's the 'mundane' half of this divine union, and she apparently gets short shrift when it comes to reverence. Sure, she gets some lip service as the 'supreme goddess', but nobody's swearing oaths on Mreea's non-existent horns, are they? My first instinct is to think that Mreea/Maria/Mariam/Miriam was a leadership figure in the original Terran expedition, maybe the colony administrator?
Mreea could be the ship erf is from
@mattzem if that was true then the name that Albin would have divined would have been tana not terra, after all if lif is the source then so would erf, for he and lif are one and the same.
Also, how would one account for the increase of flow that was present during the arrival of catriona?
It could also be that Arkshi was a representative of a native species that helped the colonists acclimate to the planet
Well I wouldn't be so sure about Mreea - after all Catriona calls her name during the interlude. She is the Mother and motherhood woes are her domain.
But this is also a religion, it doesn't have to follow some literal chain of events, but might borrow from history. (Kinda like there is a hypothesis that the end of ice age caused rise in water levels and flooded what is now called Persian Gulf. The tales of that event from there could have resulted in the origin of the biblical flood)
Yeah boyyyyy, we in that DEEP lore now, let's GO! Get HYPE!
First off, we got Albin's 'government name' now! Popping a heroine of yore from stasis just to have her work on his sword, and possibly goad her into doing some 'field work' is absolutely his style. Also, demoted to bass guitar! Makes sense I guess, he's nowhere near enough of a degenerate to be the drummer, lol.
And of course Amanzhan's going to continue plotting with Esmat. Now she's trying to make a quick buck selling surplus high-grade steel in international markets, possibly in order to become an exclusive source of high-grade steel for international customers? Gotta diversify your portfolio, I guess.
But LOL, just LMAO at "...we have to remember that the Daimon is gone." Grab your Shebet-brand popcorn folks, dis gon' be good...
Erf will definitely try to get him into drums! Eventually!
@Snusmumriken He's gonna need a lot more tattoos if he's gonna be the drummer, lol. Then again, he could probably magic up some ink just by thinking about it, the lousy cheater...
By the way, so this is basically Amanzhan and Esmat shifting gears from obstruction to breaking off a little piece of the profit for themselves? Scrabbling for scraps seems to be a recurring theme with these two...
Still, it seems to be a good illustration of how Erf and co. need to keep pushing the tech gap. Esmat might be barking up the wrong tree regarding alchemical concoctions, but she understands that high temperatures and removing contaminants are the key points. I really appreciate how you don't make the locals dumb, just limited by their world views.
@Tupperwarez They are opportunistic. Rather than flailing in the dark they would prefer to opt out for something definite and gouge their chances as they go.
Personally i think its a pretty d*ck move for albin to ask erf to trust him and yet he tells him nothing of his real self.
All in due time. I get the feeling that in exchange for Erf's trust, Albin sides with him more resolutely.
And he apologised for that a long time ago. Right when they met for the first time. Besides not every trade needs to be of same kind.
Because he, who sees this land as his home and all races of Tana as his people — humans, will stand against anything that would pose a threat to what he holds dear.
HFY vibes right here.
“Perhaps she gave you this much steel exactly so that you would depend on it. Imagine what Enoch smiths would say after working with this steel for a year and learning that there is no more unless they buy from Aikerim’s Manor? Do you think they will return to their old ways?”
Its called quality assurance standards. Erf brought the quality, the rest of you need to follow closely or fall behind.
Albin and Erf make such a great pair of friends.
I would actually say it is the quantity that matters here. They could make that type of steel before. but in very small amounts with a lot of "waste" Think Japanese smiths cutting off "bad" parts of the bloom so they could work on the better steel only.
At the same time forgewelding small pieces into a larger chunk requires a very hot temperature and, therefore, burns carbon from steel very quickly, dropping the alloy ratio and worsening the steel. kinda like rocket fuel -- you need more fuel to carry that fuel and small increases in load weight increase costs exponentially. forging large pieces of good steel has similar exponential progression in cost.
Anaise's 2nd hand embarrassment is adorable.