“Tell me Erf,” Anaise said without taking her eyes off the scroll she was reading, “have you thought about getting a given name?”
“No?” I scratched my head. “Besides, picking a name for myself feels rather weird. A name given to me by my mother would be better than anything I would come up with. At least as I see it.”
“I hope she does,” she replied. “Otherwise my mother would need to do it. A Domina is the mother figure to an entire Manor, after all. Preferably quickly, so that I can use it. Something like…”
Anaise put her scroll down and faced me head-on. “Erf Kiymetl Biparva! Just what were you thinking!?”
I coughed without saying anything back. Something told me she meant it as ‘reckless’ rather than ‘fearless’.
“I knew that Albin Chasya was a bad influence on you but this is beyond even his antics!” Anaise fumed. “Irje! Say something!”
Irje put away the wooden shortsword blank with partially carved runes and examined me. “Did they try to get their hands on you?”
“No.” I shook my head. “While they did accost me in the river, they kept their distance. I did check their horns for you, by the way. As I expected, they are soft and warm.”
“Irje! Now isn’t the time. They were made aware of what we think about sadaq interlopers,” Anaise shrieked, scandalised. “Erf — first of all, you do not touch other girls’ horns! Even if Irje asks you to!”
Her finger stabbed my chest as her tail swooshed left and right in agitation. “Most importantly. You. Do not. Ask. About. Flow. Secrets! Do you understand? The spells of every Manor are their strength and power. It is akin to asking for the keys to their treasuries and gold coffers! You are extremely lucky that they desire alliance and I am a daughter of Enoch myself, because, if they chose to inform their Matriarch, Zamindar Enoch Azrin would have fleeced us raw for your blunder!”
“I know how important those spells are, Anaise, which is why I was very specific that I wanted none of those. My desire was for the spells that were already well-known among all Manors.”
She looked at me askance. “Why? Why would you incur a favour to them for something that I’ve given you already?”
“I am looking for patterns. For you — a spellcodex is a guide, telling you when and where to turn so that you can reach your destination. For me — it is a maze of cryptic messages, a string of landmarks that I can’t perceive. While your spellcodex, and your guidance, are helping me tremendously, there are simply too many unknowns for me to be confident in my findings. At least to the level where we can experiment without fear of reenacting the fate of my first workshop. Or even worse — creating a spell that would aim inward at the caster and cause harm either to you or Irje.”
The cougar’s ears flicked. “You are planning on making spells for us?”
“I am a murk, Irje. This is a fact of life. I am not studying this expecting to cast spells myself. I am studying Flow to understand it first and foremost. What it is, what it isn’t, and how far we can push it. If I am extremely lucky and find some loophole allowing murks to cast magic — that would be fantastic for me and I won’t deny it. But I am working under the assumption that I would only scratch my burning curiosity and possibly improve your spellcasting in the process.”
“Still.” Anaise rapped her fingers on the latest drone-delivered package from Samat, chewing on her lip. “This is the type of trap that I wanted you to avoid. The Kausar Twins aren’t clients of our Manor and they are shrewd enough to exploit it. By choosing not only to meet your outrageous request but to exceed it, they have created a situation where the honour of Kiymetl will force you to repay them in kind or have our reputation tarnished.”
“I mean,” Irje made a vague gesture in my direction, “this is Erf we are talking about.”
Anaise nodded. “Precisely, and the twins are aware of this as well. This isn’t some harebrained plot to throw mud on our faces. They did it fully expecting an equally outrageous token of thanks in turn. An outrageous gift from the Kiymetl’s daimon. They won’t be satisfied with blade steel, Arksite glass, or other trinkets.”
“Hold on.” Irje turned toward me. “Did they ask for any magic enhancement?”
“Even if they were hinting about it, I am not going to start teaching. First of all — Aikerim would kill me, second of all —” I gestured at the cabin we were occupying, probably our last residence to be sufficiently private for clandestine talks, “I am not stupid enough to have those discussions at the bonfire or in the ‘privacy’ of a canvas tent.
“I am also rather satisfied with the current amount of people I am teaching, especially after ditching that Shebet annoyance in Samat.”
Anaise rolled her eyes, a slight pink on her cheeks. “There are rumours that the recent growth in our skills, as well as Irje suddenly becoming a wermage herself, were caused by taking in your seed. Some whisper that my mother intentionally drained your Spark in such a way so that she could control the now-powerless daimon.”
I grimaced. “Great. No wonder that rat was clawing her way into my crotch. Am I to assume there will be similar attempts in the future?”
“No. The Denag wermage was being stupid.” Anaise scowled, showing off her tiny but sharp fangs. “And I made it clear to everyone that any further foolishness of a similar kind would face all of my wrath and the wrath of my Manor. That doesn’t mean there won’t be other attempts to acquire your seed willingly. Especially since our reaction likely strengthened those rumours. I am sure that even the Kausar twins might risk it.”
Her tail wrapped around my torso. “But that doesn’t mean we will let them. I will be honest with you — it took me two decades and that damn Feast to receive my adult Kiymetl spellcodex. Obtaining an Enoch spellcodex is immense, but I would rather apologise and reject their offer than give them that kind of leverage over you.”
Irje nodded along. “Especially since those rumours are false to begin with. They will suck you…”
“They will suck him dry,” she pressed on, “realise that their Spark is unchanged, and demand even more in turn. Or worse — start craving that taste!”
“Well, they can fuck right off if they do that: I am not a walking cum dispenser.” I rolled my eyes. “But there is no need to reject the codex. Because I know their wish. And I can make it happen with ease without sacrificing my dignity.”
“And what do they want?”
“The Kausar twins want to fly.”
Anaise scoffed. “Every wermage wants to fly, our magic can lift boulders but it can’t lift the caster. Neither can it lift a boulder with the caster on top. Only Gods know the secrets of flying castles.”
“So the Pillars were made by gods?”
“That is why they are called Gifts. Because they were gifted to the Seven Manors by the Goddess herself.”
I scratched my chin. “What about Irje? I thought her spellcasting could affect her too.”
The cougar grinned. “It can! Unfortunately, my spells are still too weak to lift me in the air, which is why I would prefer to practise my art rather than see what Enoch has to offer.”
“Perhaps they are weak because they lack that limitation. Wermages use themselves as leverage while you apply the effect directly. You might actually benefit more from this invention than the twins would.”
Anaise looked at me. “You aren’t talking about flying with Flow.”
I smiled and shook my head. “They were rather ambiguous with their wish, allowing me to interpret it as I see fit. That is something that every wisher should beware of. I can make them fly, I can even make sure the flying would be comfortable and they will survive the landing. It won’t even take that long to make either, provided that we use the best fabric that only your Manor can provide.”
She ignored my conspiratorial grin. “What are you planning?”
“A hot air balloon. An enormous sack, made with strong and lightweight cloth and filled with hot air. We can light a bonfire to start it but I am sure wermages can keep it afloat with fire magic too.”
“And it would fly?”
“It will go up into the air. As long as there is hot air inside in large enough quantities — it will continue floating like a fishing bobber.”
“I’ve read about quite a few unsuccessful attempts done in the past. Can you make yours work?”
“I can. While the idea is simple and easy to grasp, the challenge is in construction and available materials. Compared to the past Emanai inventors, we have fabric good enough to hold the air inside without tearing itself apart or being incredibly heavy. There are limitations too. Unless the twins are willing to travel at the mercy of the winds, the balloon would be tied to a spot and only travel up and down. Irje might be able to move a balloon with magic, but only in calm weather.”
“Yes, it might satisfy their ‘fly’ request,” Anaise murmured.
“I say, make it!” Irje clenched her fists in excitement. “We can keep the balloon to ourselves if they scrunch their noses. Or let them have that codex and work on this instead!”
“Or I could make two of them.” I smiled. “I’m happy to know you are that excited about it.”
“Of course I would be, you silly man!” She crossed her arms. “If what you say is true, this balloon would only listen to me and no one else.”
The previously discarded wooden sword lifted up and floated over. “I know I can move small things around and I am working on my control, but every wermage can do what I do. I would rather have a few spells that only I can do than many I can barely perform. I am Irje, the first of my kind, not just a weaker form of Anaise.”
“The question is — how long would it take and how are you going to get it all the way north?” Anaise asked. “We won’t be staying in Uureg that long, I am afraid. Just long enough to meet the Kosenya Matriarch and get assigned to a proper arm.”
I glanced out the window. The boat was moving quickly downstream and we weren’t that far from our destination. “As long as we are talking about the balloon itself, my drone is strong enough to carry it. We can make a basket here.”
“A basket? I thought you were going to attach it to a boat.”
“I wish,” I chuckled. “The design is simple but weight is a limiting factor as the balloon can only lift so much. Unless you use multiple balloons or make a single huge one. But then you would have trouble replenishing the hot air with ease. All balloons leak and the air cools with time; flame spells might be easy to cast but something that enormous would quickly deplete even the most robust wermage.”
“Large enough to lift people into the air but small enough not to be too burdensome itself.” Anaise nodded with a smile. “Sounds very reasonable, as long as I forget that we are talking about the feat previously thought impossible.” Anaise glanced at Irje and smiled. “Considering her eagerness, we have a consensus among us. Send the message back to our Manor.”
While lacking in splendour when measured against Samat, Uureg was still a very respectable city. The weather wasn’t as welcoming here compared to the Mediterranean climate of the south, and the buildings reflected that — chimneys were more common while windows were smaller and less frequent. It was also an unquestionably Emanai city. There were still aqueducts bringing water into the city, the walls were painted in bright red and clean white just as some rich dwellings in Samat were, and there was still shit on the streets here and there. More in the poorer areas where public latrines were less common, but even rich neighbourhoods had horses and mules to leave their marks on the road.
And manors had similarly enormous walls to separate elite families from the plebeian rest.
The most striking difference in the population wasn’t the prevalence of pants but the sheer amount of canine wermages out and about. While the Samat called the capital their domain, it was more of a melting pot of many different wermage lineages under the loose governance of a single Manor.
Uureg was the throne city of the Kosenya Manor and they made sure to show it. Even if their Pillar remained far away in Samat.
Apart from the multitude of statues across the city, most fountains were carved in the shape of dogs, werewolves, or other types of wolf- and dog-people. The symbols of canine heads were also common on banners and walls. Even Cerberus showed up here and there — a symbol of the House of War and the three Manors it was split into.
At least, that was the extent of what I managed to see. While I was curious enough to continue exploring the city, the Kausar twins made good on their promise and gave me their spellcodex. Suffice to say, I shelved Uureg exploration until better days and secluded myself into a tiny room with heaps of parchment at my disposal. The Kiymetl were everywhere and this city had one of Anaise’s aunts to oversee the local trade. Someone who was quite receptive to my navigation tools and a potential agreement for steel shipments. Asking for a private room at that stage wasn’t that hard.
Nevertheless, the Kosenya Matriarch was showing us an appropriate level of respect by making us wait for days, and I had no intention to waste that precious time. The spellbooks were cracked open, spells were meticulously compared with the help of my wife, and I got myself busy analysing the spell poetry for future research.
I didn’t cut corners about security either — the copies of spells existed only in my mind and research notes used the Standard Terran Protocol as their language and were written in binary to boot. An unknown or secret script could attract unwanted attention, and some wermage could have a spell to translate such things, so I decided to go a bit overboard. One had to understand the concept of a binary system to recognise they were looking at some message in the first place.
Well, judging by the Orb of Truth, their gods probably knew boolean logic. But if a god was shuffling through my notes, the knowledge of Enoch spells was the least of my concerns.
I stopped, sighed to myself, and threw the half-written parchment into the nearest brazier. And started to write in Morse. Just in case.
“Do you need help?” Anaise walked over.
I sighed and leaned back, feeling her arms wrapping around me in support. “Not yet, love. Just making sure that no one can read my notes in the future. Sorry for not keeping you company — how are you girls doing?”
She scoffed. “I am not a child for you to watch over me, nor am I spoiled to crave your constant attention. Irje and I are busy too — since you only glanced at the spellcodex for a few moments, we are taking our time to study it in detail. Are you sure you don’t need to look at it again?”
“Nope.” I tapped my head. “Everything is in here already. Clear as the moment I read it for the first time.”
“You and your worms,” she huffed. “You could’ve just asked to look at it once, you know? The price for that would’ve been much lower.”
“Then you wouldn’t be able to study it to your heart’s content without the twins growing suspicious.”
“I know,” she gently bit my ear, “and I am grateful for that thought.”
I shivered from her warm breath. “Oh? Did you come here to show your gratitude?”
She giggled. “Later, love. We want to show you something but we aren’t ready yet. I came to tell you that the Kosenya Matriarch is ready to meet us.”
“Tell her it is a bad time,” I grumbled. “How about some early practice, instead?”
Her hand slid down and rubbed my thigh. Close but not close enough.
“You know,” she whispered into my ear, “you have been rather restless recently. Your scandalous displays of music, the outrageous deal that you’ve brokered with the Kausar twins…”
She climbed on my lap and brought her face close to mine. “Speak to me, Erf — what troubles your heart?”
“I…I think I am frustrated a bit by my pace, Anaise. I feel like I could do so much more right now, yet I am stuck playing make-believe as a soldier. My mind knows that this is a necessary step to claim my freedom as well as free my family for good, but my heart is still uncertain.”
Anaise gently combed my growing locks without taking her emerald eyes off me. “Only you can be so dismissive about Emanai without meaning to. Every Pillar Manor is running around like chickens with their heads cut off while trying to predict where the storm by the name of Erf will head next, and you are complaining about moving too slowly.”
I chuckled. “Was I that reckless in your eyes? I was trying to vent some steam, really.”
“Remember that Yeva and Isra are building a steam engine right now? It needs a lot of steam squeezed together to work, but if there is too much steam inside it can explode. So those machines are designed to expel or vent some steam before it breaks them apart.”
“And you were expelling that desire through those frivolous acts before it could overwhelm you? How fitting. I hope that those won’t be too frequent, however — your wife could only tolerate so much of your antics.”
Her hand slid between us and squeezed my junk, gently for now, to indicate her seriousness.
“With that spellcodex in my mind, I will be occupied for quite a while,” I was quick to assure her. “And I am already getting some ideas forming. Remember that fire-generation passage in your spells?”
“The willow and the spring?”
“Yes, that one.” My finger stabbed into a specific row of dots and lines. “What if it wasn’t about the willow and the spring at all? The Enoch verse has none of those.”
“Well, obviously not. The poem isn’t designed to be taken literally.”
“Yet both verses do talk about one specific thing — water and nourishment. And that might explain my previous lacklustre attempts to influence your flames. I think your magic is using water to create flame.”
“You think Flow turns water flammable?”
“I think Flow magically splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, only to let them burn once again, which is why my suggestions to add an air or wind spell had little or even negative effects — the fire spells already create optimal ratios of fuel and oxidiser to begin with.”
Anaise snapped her fingers, creating a small flame. “But there is no water around us.”
Her other hand kept caressing me, encouraging me to speak.
“There is always some in the air: from our breaths, from the waters of nearby Bay of Tir, and from the morning fog. What if, instead of trying to add oxygen, we added more water?”
“They say that lamura fire mages are deadliest at the sea…” Anaise smiled. “We should try that, but not right now. We have something more important to do.”
I sighed with relief, only to groan when her fingers left my aching dick. “Anaise!”
“I did tell you, love,” she purred as she slid down from my lap, “that the Kosenya Matriarch is waiting for us.”
Her teeth nibbled on my earlobe. “You wanted some early practice? Practise your patience then — because you will need it when we come back tonight.”
Calling the residence of Roxanna Kosenya Inayat a manor was a stretch. It was a damn castle. Rather than having servant quarters and some appropriate workshop areas to generate income, this place had barracks, storage areas, and training grounds within its walls.
It was a testament to the Emanai administration and warrior culture that such a large Manor could exist and maintain its status. While I had heard about their lacklustre finances, that was only in comparison with other Pillar Manors. There was a lot of wealth in these halls, but this was the wealth of steel and rations rather than the wealth of gold and gems.
The place looked well-kept and guards wore properly fitted armour of a similar style, indicating an established system of manufacturing. Standardised to an extent where Kosenya soldiers looked better than our Samat delegation. While we likely had better gear, there was no unity between the Ladies of the House. Even Lita’af’s breastplate looked distinct from Mushaf’s scale mail made from hundreds of carefully assembled shards of Creature carapace.
We looked like a group of wealthy brigands in front of a professional army. There was a feeling of quiet competence and the Kosenya had enough gold coming their way to maintain it.
It made it unlikely that I could easily sway them to our side with gold or even steel alone, but, at the same time, I now felt more confident in serving alongside them. Aikerim knew what she was doing and she had Yeva by her side. They could weather the combined pressure from three if not four Pillar Manors while we were surrounded by competent warriors that treated war as a way of life rather than opportunists seeking to quickly enrich themselves.
Roxanna Inayat looked imposing as well. Surrounded by ten husbands, she watched us enter the meeting room with the sharp gaze of a mature matron or a trained guard dog.
I shared a glance with my wives — Roxanna looked visibly pregnant.
“Don’t worry about it,” Anaise whispered. “Our gift will still be welcome.”
“It could’ve been better if we knew this ahead of time,” I murmured back. “Something that would fit her current figure, or something to assist the upcoming delivery. Like forceps.”
Her ear flicked. “Matriarchs keep their pregnancies secret; you don’t inform everyone that you are not at your strongest. Forceps? Erf, what are you talking about — she has a baby, not a chunk of hot metal.”
“In case there are compli-”
Irje jabbed my side with her elbow “I suggest you avoid talking about such things in front of her, Erf. It is considered a bad omen to do so in front of the expectant mother. Besides, they have magic for that.”
I quickly shut up and glanced at the Matriarch. Luckily for me, she was busy talking to Mushaf at the moment. Something about the Kishava’s chicken hut. Her words were brief but not without praise for the skill of the preening lady.
And then it was our turn.
“Your sight is in my heart, Anaise Hilal.” Roxanna’s ears followed her slight nod. The Kishava and the Kosenya shared many traits among themselves with the main distinction of the dog ears on their heads. Kosenya wermages always had them upright. “It has been a long while since I’d heard so many things about someone so young, living this far north. I tend to learn the names of most prominent wermages once they have their Entrance Feast, yet you managed to meet the Goddess herself during yours! Will you indulge my curiosity and share your meeting with me?”
The other ladies squirmed on their couches, as they were politely reminded who Anaise was. While many things happened after that historic poof, Anaise was the only one amongst them who had attracted the curiosity of the Goddess.
“Your name is on my lips, Roxanna Inayat.” Anaise politely greeted her back. “The words of Catriona Emanai Aethil were larger than me and I likely missed more than I understood. But I know that she urged me to act. To go forth and to accomplish what I was destined for. For the sake of my Manor and for the sake of Emanai.”
She glanced at Mushaf and Muramat. “And I am here for that reason.”
“I see… Then, with the powers bestowed upon me, I will assist in your undertaking. Rather than watching seasons pass by while you guard our borders, you will find yourself amongst the Emanai elite of the fifth arm: Kiannika. The brave soldiers of the first palm will accompany you on your path.” Her eyes shifted from Anaise toward me and Irje. “Your sadaq will join you, of course, but your male will serve in the thumb of the first palm instead.”
Irje frowned. “But-“
“Do you know the tasks of the palm?” Roxanna immediately interrupted her. “Do you think he can fire a werbow?”
“Perhaps he is a hidden war mage and knows his way with a Flow oar?” She raised her eyebrow, causing a few snickers to spread through the room.
I placed my hand on her shoulder. Irje gritted her teeth but said nothing back.
“There is only one reason to have murks in the palm — servant slaves that tend to mules and pack equipment. Do you wish to see him as a warrior with a spear in his hand or as a slave shovelling manure?”
“Your words are wise, Matriarch,” Anaise gently reinserted herself into the conversation, “and your insight has no equals. My husband will make a fine warrior.”
She clapped her hands. “Please accept these gifts of gratitude from my Manor for this show of support.”
A suit of brigandine was brought forth, causing obvious murmurs among the crowd of onlookers. I was fairly certain it wasn’t the make or shape of the armour that caused such a stir. The outer layer of cloth was dyed bright Arksite blue and engraved with a golden three-headed dog holding a shield on the backdrop of a floating tower. The symbol of their Pillar Manor, the House of Defence.
“My, the skill of your tailors grows with every year. I wouldn't be ashamed to stand in front of the Goddess herself in something like this.”
“It is more than a decorative suit, Matriarch.” Anaise rapped her knuckles on her chest. “I will be wearing a similar style of armour to battle, knowing full well that it will keep me safe.”
Roxanna Inayat picked up the suit and quickly inspected it. “I can see that it is quite flexible without being too open. The inner layers are soft to the touch and will likely be pleasant on your skin. May I offer some suggestions, however?”
“Of course. Your knowledge of warfare is incomparable to mine.”
“Don’t forget to engrave runes on it — plain metal is only half as strong as runed one. And make sure that you have a slave tending to it at all times. The plates are covered by many layers of cloth and any sweat or mud will quickly turn them to rust. Field armours look naked so that warriors can easily clean the metal and keep it dry.”
Lita’af looked at Anaise askance. “You forgot to rune it?”
“My apologies, but the metal is fully runed. The individual plates are covered with an additional layer of metal that prevents rust and covers runes away from prying eyes. There are also layers of runed silk within the fabric to maintain its pristine look and catch the tips of spears and arrows. Of course, accidents happen. As such there are replacement armour plates provided with the suit so that it can be quickly repaired in the field.”
She passed a small chest over to the Kosenya Matriarch. “Please have your smiths test their strength if you are still concerned.”
“It doesn’t rust?”
Anaise glanced at me.
I shrugged. “Unless you let it soak in seawater for a few years, no. As long as the metal is washed with clean water, say every season or so, it will be fine. It is better to wash it after heavy use just to keep the smell to a minimum, obviously.”
Roxanna picked up a plate from the chest. The runes on her kaftan lit up, and then they brightened to a level that most people in this room had to look away from. Anaise was right about the Kosenya. If anyone could give some serious juice to runes, it would be them.
“Hah! He didn’t lie!” A grin emerged on her face. “There are indeed runes hidden underneath! How devious, indeed. Thank you, Anaise Hilal — I will try this armour when I am able.”
“Yes, it is unfortunate that our gift was so ill-timed. Allow us to present you with something more.” Anaise leaned in with a grin of her own. “Just two more trinkets. They are called a compass and a looking glass. The new products of my Manor. I am sure that someone of your status would appreciate their usefulness.”
Roxanna Kosenya Inayat
She stood on top of her castle and observed the lands under her domain. A rather boring activity if not for the curious looking tube that Anaise Hilal gifted to her. She could see every heap of hay in the nearby fields and every fishing boat in the waters of the bay. She could see soldiers sparring in the nearby barracks and sailors drinking in the port.
A single glance told her more and faster than any scout under her command.
Her hand gripped the other tool. A guiding arrow that could work in the dark of the night or the fog of the day. Or twilight of the Forest. Every tool like that meant another scout that could be sent into the thick of the Forest and return alive and return on time.
Anaise, no — Aikerim Adal knew how to make her voice known.
“You wished to see us, Matriarch?”
Roxanna put the looking glass down but didn’t turn around. “Yes, Lita’af Kamshad Hikmat. Can you tell me what your mother’s plans are? Because I am beginning to have doubts about this affair.”
“Roshanak Gulnaz is concerned about their growth. Especially after Kiymetl refused to align themselves with our Manor. She fears that they are trying to establish a new faction.”
“With what? Caravan guards and merchant ships? Or are they going to ask the builders of Enoch to give them a hand? Have they been bolstering their forces behind our backs?”
“They have brokered a large slave purchase with the Esca.”
“Slaves aren’t warriors. They caught a lamura by her tail and fleeced her clan for it. I swear, if it wasn’t for Shebet encouragement, I would have nothing to do with this! I still have my doubts about her placement — she is twenty years old! A child, just like you! Neither of you should be in the fifth arm to begin with, at least until you have a child or two…”
She harrumphed and turned around.
“You too!” Roxanna stabbed her finger at Mushaf Davlat. “Carry a child first then start gallivanting through the Forest! Kids nowadays. They think everything is possible while I am stuck here with my heart heavier than my belly, wondering if I would need to inform one of my cousins that their precious daughter didn’t return.”
Her nieces remained silent.
“I should just stop this charade altogether. Let Anaise Hilal pass through training first and then see where she would-”
A loud crack interrupted her tirade. Turning around, Roxanna saw a rising pile of dust from a nearby field, not that far from the city walls. The looking glass was immediately back at her eye.
“What was that!? Are we under a Creature attack?” Mushaf asked.
“No…We are not.” Rosanna kept on looking through the tube.
“Should we ready the forces?” Lita’af suggested.
Kosenya Matriarch sighed and put down the looking glass. “You should head back to your quarters and prepare for the path ahead. The fifth arm has no place for slackers.”
I spat a mouthful of dirt and tried to clear my eyes. I failed at both.
“Ugh…” Irje groaned, “’s like bees in my head…”
“I did it!”
“It should pass, Irje.” I gave her an earthy grin. “I hope it will pass.”
The wermage hands grabbed me and yanked me into the air. “Did you hear, Erf? I did it!”
“I heard you the first time.” I tried to find some solid ground among the loose soil of the crater. “You don’t need to yell.”
“I can’t hear you, but you were right!” my fox screamed into my ear. “You need water for fire!”
Her outer kaftan was torn to shreds, and her neat hair had been transformed into a mane of red around her muddy face, but her bright smile managed to shine through all of that.
I gave her a weak smile.
"That is something that every wisher should beware of"
He did it, he said the thing! Thx for the chapter
He had to accept the inevitable!
@Snusmumriken brain no work what reference is this?
@Huskeylord "book 1" if you want to call it that of this novel is called "wisher beware" so that line is a tongue in cheek internal reference.
@Huskeylord Caveat Voltor the first chapter of book one which loosely translates to let the wisher beware
If their average flame magic is doing something akin to electrolysis that opens up all sorts of options. Assuming they can figure out the relevant spells, removing rust from metals via electrolysis or creating chlorine gas attacks from salt shouldn't be that much harder!
Well if that was the case there is still the issue of finding out how. The chlorine would be bad as magic kinda has a range (which is not often mentioned but runes can only be powered up to a certain distance away so are spells)
Up, up and away, my beautiful, my beautiful ballooooooon
It's Montgoflier time, baby! As an added bonus, you KNOW the Houses of War are gonna want to get in on that balloon and spyglass combo!
Of course, this is Erf's crew, so they'll probably figure out some way to make a super-balloon by combining supercharged wind and fire spells, aramid silk, and space-class polymers. It will match the land speed of a horse and be capable of air-dropping chicken-walkers.
They'd probably need more mature electric tech for dirigibles to be actually viable though. Lightweight motors, batteries, and probably solar cells too. Although I guess a steam turbine could double as the heater for the lift gas?
oh yeah there definitely will be some magic-tech shenanigans eventually.
@Snusmumriken Actually, I've been wondering. What does the Collective usually do for atmospheric flight? Do they grow giant versions of Chirp, and ride them like the ornithopters from Dune? Or do they have setups that are an organic frame with an inorganic engine/drive installed, like the shuttle and tree-ships?
If the 'organic vehicle' thing is the case, man, that just drives home how much of a 'game over' upgrade finding Lif would be. One bio-printer is already doing so much, can't imagine what having a couple gestation vats could open up...
@Tupperwarez They use normal technology too. the living tech is geared toward space habitation. and as the reference to tree-ships they understand that not everything needs to be organic just because it can be. More often than not living tech is used to create components and can be used for high-tier automation purposes. The reason why his futuristic stuff is predominantly all organic is because that is all he can get atm (and to a degree this was intentionally so - as it is easier to "manufacture" organic tools after emergency landing in the middle of nowhere rather than trying to cobble up lithography fabs with sticks and stones.)
@Snusmumriken Ahhhh that makes sense, he's basically working with the 'survival kit' that was stashed in the shuttle. Would that mean that what Erf is doing right now is basically starting an uplift with the barest-bones setup possible?
Looping back to aircraft, since Erf is probably going to skip internal combustion engines, and no petroleum so far, are electric airships in the cards? Or are there more futuristic options available for atmospheric flight, like a fancy electric/plasma version of a jet engine? But I guess a lot of the fancy options are predicated on massive energy generation that Erf doesn't have access to right now.
@Tupperwarez pretty much, and yes. futuristic is one things but I do expect some things to be relatable anyway. just as i would expect the hammers of the future to be like hammers. (if they use hammers at all that is) oftentimes it is the function that dictates the shape.
@Snusmumriken Like when the steam wagons get used for racing and are strengthened by flow to be pushed well past 'murk wagon' limits.
@Simonclown something along the lines
@Snusmumriken Speaking of magic-tech shenanigans, does the black wood need constant Flow channeling to remain thin and flexible? At first, I had a thought about making a collapsible frame for the balloon with the black wood, allowing for rapid deployment. But then I realized, hell, why not make the balloon itself out of super polymer?
Anaise could probably turn her catsuit into a wingsuit too, come to think of it...
@Tupperwarez It does not, but it requires Flow to be bent into initial shape first. bio-printers are making both materials anyways so it is sensible that both are made from the most appropriate material. it is easier to have slaves\servants weave the textile than have Anaise burn through her energy trying to craft it herself.
@Tupperwarez in Wisher beware they explored the pod in which Erfs predecessor crash landed, and it was just a metal ship with a fusion reactor and a warp drive, not biotech.
this reminds me of neverwinter....i think?
@Snusmumriken Ekmo may be talking about Konosuba. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEgfitvnp0M
@SiliconWolf ah, i am way behind on modern (and not so modern) anime
last chapter is 'Wet Djinn', while this one is 'Moist Consequences', so what's next, 'Tight Circumstances'? or straight next level to 'Puckered Brown Lips'?
unfortunately i am simply not creative enough to make long chains of titles and fit the plot into them too
Never play with hydrogen explosions fueled by oxygen.
Thanks for the chapter!
The ol' 'hydrogen filled balloon meets candle' demo is a chemistry class classic, though! My Chem 142 lecture hall's acoustics made for a very satisfying BANG.
Speaking of hydrogen, if Flow can split off the hydrogen from water for the fire spell, could it be possible to 'edit' the spell to just make hydrogen, and use said hydrogen to make a mini-zeppelin?
as long as you walk away from the explosions then you are cool!
@Tupperwarez where would the oxygen go? and other gasses?
@Snusmumriken Ah, if it's splitting the water to make fuel for the explosion, neatly separating the gasses was probably not a concern when designing the spell. Besides, hydrogen has that whole 'extremely flammable' thing going on, no sense in letting a mini-Hindenburg happen. Hot air it is, then.
Even a hot air balloon that 'only' goes up and down would be handy, I think? Make one just enough for a two-person crew, fly it up higher than any observation tower available (probably), and scout out the surrounding area with a spyglass. Although it would be funny if Chirp was able to pull it...
@Tupperwarez not exactly "not a concern" since concern implies knowledge. More like it worked - perfect - use it!
And yeah baloon would be immensely handy as is, which is what Erf is banking on to placate the twins.
The good old blue anime flame.
Also, if you think about it, the navigator died and got reborn in a slave boy's body, so WB and Ecdysis are an isekai saga
I mean WB did have an isekai tag for this reason
@Snusmumriken honestly forgor since Ecdysis doesn't have it
@Waddup_Dat_Boiii I try to add more relevant tags to each book and Sh has a limit
Closer to an "inheritance" of knowledge.
@Anemo "Possession" isekai
All this while, we've been wondering how Lif crashed, and it was Space Truck-kun all along!
Looks like Irje took the initiative to do her own water into fire expiriment, however reckless that was.
You mean Anaise?
@Snusmumriken its seems I do. Seemed like an irje thing to be more reckless and chapter comes out at like 1am my time. Going to use my eyes better next time.
@Redbob33 breaking things is Anaise shtick
Well, I guess hydrogen flame burns purple.
@Snusmumriken Hello, chemist here. I think it was a colorless, invisible flame in bright daylight and looked like purple blue at night.
Each element, especially transition metals have different flame colors. Check hydrogen...
@Degoneth this isn't pure hydrogen, the rest of the air is still present in the mix, often with dust, all of that would be likely to affect the colour.
Damn 89 comments, don't usually slide into your comments this late after a release, buts its good to see
“Well, they can f*ck right off if they do that: I am not a walking cum dispenser.”
This is wrong, Erf is more of a swiss army knife of a more vast variety, I mean, he can be the walking seed dispenser, but he is also a mobile chemical weapons platform, portable armor smith, marital aid retriever, walking encyclopedia of arcane knowledge (for Emani, I would it means hard sciences and advanced maths) and the dozens of other shenanigans he has pulled off in your stories...
Well he is trying to avoid a single label