With her arms crossed, she scowled at the rabble in front of her. Southerners. Despite doing almost nothing since their arrival and gorging themselves on every berry that had been gathered to make sweets and delicious jams, they dared to sulk in their given quarters and continued to do little else.
While Yeva was busy working day and night in her study room! The mistress of the estate!
This was all Erf’s doing. He was probably jealous that Yeva was spending time with her occasionally and even made sweets and candies for her to eat, so he sent this crowd to keep Yeva busy. His mother was no good either — she kept shooing her away from the green houses. Meila even threatened to hit her with a wooden spoon when she caught her last time trying fresh fruits.
Yeva saved her, of course. Only to make her feel worse than being smacked by telling her how disappointed she was.
“How many of you can read and write!?” she demanded. “Step forward.”
“You are?” One of them glanced at a nearby lamura studying a reading codex, then at Viter with his hands full, and finally back at her. “Are you the daughter of the medicine woman?”
Vera glanced around. “Who?”
“The one that calls herself Yeva.”
Vera squirmed. “Maybe?”
“She is one of the slaves of this estate,” the voice of the evil snake crushed her pleasant dream. “But she is acting on Yeva’s behalf in this matter. You will listen to her.”
Vera coughed. “Yeva is more than a mistress. She is special!”
She shifted closer to Shahin and quietly hissed. “Don’t you have some kiln to oversee? Yeva asked me to do this, not you.”
The lamura flipped a page. “Watch your mouth, foolish child. Or it will lead you into the quicksands where even Yeva can not drag you out.”
Vera bit her lip. “She wouldn’t mind.”
“Yes, she seems to be rather fond of you, as you are of her. So tell me this — what would happen if Domina heard you say that? Some slave girl claiming to be the first daughter of Yeva and through her — an entire sadaq that owns this estate. Claiming to have the right to inherit everything around us? This is not a mere ‘lashing until you are bloody’ matter — she will make you disappear.”
Vera glanced fretfully around. “Uhm… Thank you, wise snake Lady. Please don’t tell this to Yeva?”
“How will you bargain for my silence, child? For me to trade Yeva’s gratitude for yours? Hmm?”
She stared down at the ground, gouging dirt with her toes.
“Is she a fairy from Emanai forests?” a mother cradling a babe asked. “To nurse a child back to life when Shaitan brought Fate to the doorstep… I asked around but-”
“Yes!” Vera vehemently nodded her head. “I’ve been saying that all this time — she is a Fairy and one of the good kind, the sweet kind. The ones that lead lost children out of the Forest with a handful of berries rather than trick travellers away from roads!”
She froze for a moment and glanced at the lamura towering nearby. “Uhm…”
Shahin’s tail pushed her toward the crowd. “Watch your tongue, now and always. While Yeva and Erf are generous enough to entertain your acts, others will not be as kind. Worse, they will use you to strike at the very same person you adore. You have a task to complete first, do you not?”
Vera gathered herself and glanced at the ones that did step forward. She pulled a piece of birch bark, carefully scratched out a sentence, and thrust it into the hands of a slave that was closest to her. She was still learning how to write herself but there was one sentence that Vera mastered perfectly.
He looked at it with a frown. “Vir-ah…likes-”
“What are you reading!” she fumed. “Can’t you see that the tail of that letter turns? It is ‘love’, not ‘like’!”
“It should turn the other way-”
“Give me that!” Vera scowled and snatched the bark, her ears aflame. She didn’t dare to look back at where the tiger wer and the lamura stood. “Your reading is too slow anyway.”
Before he managed to reply, she grabbed the reading codex and pushed it into his hands. Her finger poked at the letters with colourful pictures inside. “This is Virtana. Vir, Tana.” She made sure to stab each letter as she pronounced it. “Since you have no work at this moment, make sure you memorise every letter written in the first half and then test yourself with the sentences and stories written in the second half. Then present yourself in front of Yeva. If she is satisfied with your growth, you will get a small silver cut!”
A grimace disappeared from his face. “I just have to prove to her that I can read?”
Vera harrumphed with a nod. “Once you get better, yes. She is a generous mistress.”
His hands clutched the reading codex. “And I get to keep this?”
Vera frowned. There were a lot of codices in the estate but she was a smart girl and knew that they were very expensive. Her mistress was simply that rich. “Once you prove that you can write just as well, you will return this codex and get another one. With numbers. In the meantime, your name will be recorded with this codex number. If you dare to damage it, lose it, or even worse sell it — my mistress will know.”
He nodded with a grin. “I will ‘study’ hard. I am certain that our mistress will be impressed with my speed!”
Shahin sighed nearby. Probably because she was reading a similar codex herself. Vera always wanted to sigh and yawn when she had to study it.
Vera shook her head and glanced at the next one. She had a task to complete. “You are?”
The other slave glanced at the first then at Viter, who held a bundle of codices. “Uhm, I think that my skills are somewhat lacking. Can I practise first as well?”
Vera smiled at the display of humility and beckoned Viter closer. “Very well, take another codex and study hard.”
By the time she wrote down the numbers and names that Yeva requested, every slave rushed forward with their eyes set on the now rapidly dwindling heap of codices in Viter’s arms. Both young and old.
“No pushing or punching!” Vera shouted, making sure to stay close to the menacing wertiger. “By Yeva’s orders, only those that are older than five winters will be allowed to receive one!”
“This is what happens when you are lazy,” Shahin spoke from above, indifferent to her frustrations, “and prefer to waste valuable resources, given to you by your mistress, than spend just a little bit more time to figure out who will benefit from one of those codices the most. I wonder why Yeva was so sure to send you on this task at all — what are you going to do when you give out the last codex?”
“Viter will bring more from the storage room.”
The lamura turned toward the slave wertiger. “And that storage room has enough codices for every slave that is present here?”
Viter shrugged. “There are probably enough to give two of them to everyone. I am still learning numbers, honourable Esca, but there are hundreds of them there. Probably even a thousand — Yeva said that other codices will find their use at a later time.”
Someone gasped. “She is that rich!?”
“That she is!” Vera proclaimed. “Now stop clamouring and patiently wait for your turn.”
Shahin rubbed her temples. “This is not a question of wealth — a good scribe would have been able to make no more than two of these since I proposed this deal with Erf. Three, perhaps, but no more. Erf does not have a hundred scribes for something as frivolous as this.”
She sighed. “I need a cup of kava before I talk to Yeva.”
Vera grabbed every codex that Viter still had. “Bring the rest, please!”
She hurried up as much as she could, quickly distributing them to the slaves. Vera even ran twice to the storage room herself just to make it quicker. The lamura didn’t look like she was in a hurry but her final words sent chills down her back.
Shahin was going to talk to Yeva.
Vera wasn’t sure what exactly made her decide to tattle now, but she needed to be first to talk to Yeva. To explain. To apologise.
To do something so that the lamura’s wicked tongue wouldn’t make Yeva throw her away.
The rest of the task passed in a rapid blur and soon Vera found herself sprinting across the estate. Both fearing and hoping to be first.
By the time Vera reached the study room, Shahin was already there. They weren’t talking, as the lamura was quietly observing Yeva drawing ships on her blackboard. Something that she was quite busy with the last couple of days.
Both of them turned around at the sound of her intrusion, scaring away every thought that Vera managed to come up with. She stumbled for a quick moment and did the only thing she could think of.
Vera lunged at Yeva and hugged her as hard as she could, unwilling to let go at any cost. Her frantic thoughts gathered up into one single word.
“Mommy,” she whispered as she buried her face deeper into Yeva’s side, craving the comforting warmth of her body. The arms that enveloped her felt like the strongest walls in Emanai. Repelling Creatures, Dominas, and evil snakes just by being here.
“You’ve done well, Vera.”
Those words were like honey to her heart.
“You expected her to fail,” Shahin quipped, “and give out codices to everyone.”
Vera thought about turning around and sticking her tongue out but somehow felt more content just to keep hugging. The evil snake didn’t matter as much as the comforting warmth was.
“I expected her to do the task as she had done it,” Yeva refuted.
“You need to value your time more — Esca can provide you with well-educated slaves faster than you can teach them, even with your daimonic methods of conjuring codices. Especially if you continue to share your knowledge with us.”
“I am aware that your family is eager to trade for more, but it is not the education that I seek, Shahin. This step is but preparation for the future — I need to make sure that all of them can read so I can simply give them codices to learn from at a later time rather than teach them in person.”
“You can order them to study.”
“I could.” Yeva reached into her pouch and pulled out a wrapped lump. “Shahin Esca, would you eat this if I gave you a thousand gold cuts?”
Vera snickered as she saw the evil snake frown at the piece of dirt presented to her.
“What is it?”
“You are uncertain and worried.”
The lamura shrugged. “It does look rather unappetising.”
It looked like Yeva would finally avenge Vera’s humiliation and feed the lump of clay to Shahin.
“Or is it the offer that worries you more? After all, if it was something good, I would be the one asking for gold myself. Since I am offering it instead, your mind makes an assumption that it is you who will incur the cost. Despite this being nothing but a sweet I’ve prepared for Vera.”
“You can drag a camel to the oasis, but you can not make it drink,” Shahin mused. “Rather than forcing them to take something as expensive as a personal codex, you made them eager to swindle from a child instead.”
“I am not naive to think that all of them would serve us unquestionably. Especially when we seek intelligent workers and not mere beasts of burden, devoid of all thought. Erf and I need thinkers and problem-solvers. I know such a path isn’t fit for everyone and many of them will remain as manual workers, but I will not squander the possible few by forcing them into obedience.”
Vera knew that they were discussing something important, but she was focused on something else. She slowly reached closer and closer only for Yeva’s fingers to deftly place the sweet straight into her mouth. Vera couldn’t hold a moan from the pleasure such a small lump of clay could cause.
“You are panning for gold,” the lamura sighed. “I am starting to dread what kind of gold you will find.”
She gestured at the ship drawings on the blackboard. “Especially when something like this is already causing me to shed my scales earlier than expected. And you have no intention to stop any time soon if I can judge it by your daimonic speed in making codices.”
Yeva smiled and pulled out another lump of sweetness.
As I expected from the collection of Baba Yagas, the meeting took place in the chicken legs hut that the Kishava Lady of the House brought over from Samat. Considering that the commanders and officers were predominantly female and obviously wermage, I wouldn’t be lying if I called them hags to their faces. Sophia Chasya looked the youngest among the war matrons gathered here yet Virnan Shah, the old wise fox of Kiymetl, had called her old.
It wasn’t just their gender that dominated the command structure. Wermage appearances made it impossible not to notice that almost everyone in charge belonged to one of the three Houses of War. There was some variety in genders and Manors among the ‘assistants’ and ‘messengers’ but otherwise, this was a den of wolves.
There were a few familiar faces too. I noticed Lita’af Hikmat and her brother standing behind a severe-looking werwolf lady with a nasty scar across her face. Our Manipular, if I understood the medallions on her sash correctly. Mushaf Davlat, the owner of this arusak, stood close to them as well. Even the rat wermage, that tried to grope me, somehow got herself assigned as the messenger of the First Bow.
I narrowed my eyes. My wives were absent, and so were the Kausar twins, but that was expected. What surprised me was that a certain pair of bunny ears were missing too. Or draconic horns for that matter.
“Where the fuck is he?” I quietly mumbled to myself.
“Remember where you are and who is in front of you,” the First Spear, my Aunt Yaga, whispered into my ear. “Whatever title you’ve held in Samat matters little here. You are one of the messengers of the first maniple and nothing more.”
I nodded with a small sigh and carefully looked around, trying to learn as much as I could.
The interior of the siege arusak was surprisingly luxurious. I was expecting a walking siege tower where wermages could rain fireballs on their enemies. Instead, I witnessed the walking throne room where wermages could showcase their superiority to their subordinates dredging in the muck below. Frequent images of three-headed dogs holding Flow oars made it obvious to whom this arusak belonged. The equally numerous scribe feathers of Shebet reminded everyone that, while Kishava owned it, it was Sophia Chasya who was in charge here.
Maybe this arusak was special in this regard. Kiannika had two other siege arusak-at and Ulastai had one; those might have been used as actual siege platforms while Sophia claimed this one as her command tent.
My commander stepped forward slamming her fist into her chest. “Hajar Kishava, First Spear of the first maniple! It is an honour to serve!”
I mimicked her salute but remained silent. My status was too low for such proclamations. Now I knew the name of my superior officer, however.
“Hajar…” Sophia dragged out the name. “I’ve heard of your deeds.”
“My deeds, General?”
“Yes. Your spears have been sharp every time there was a call to battle, while your shields always kept our enemies at bay. Some boast about their feats of valour on the battlefield but few have a record as consistent as yours.”
The First Spear stood even straighter. “Emanai victorious!”
Sophia smiled. “I even heard that you stopped an arrow destined to reach your Manipular. Quite honourable.”
Hajar gaped. “H-how did you hear about that? I thought no one knew!”
The Censor inspected the tips of her tail. “I have my ways. Speaking of things that few should know — I was informed your new messenger managed to lose his sword almost immediately upon his entrance into the fifth arm?”
I kept my face straight among the grins and snickers, observing the crowd in front of me. Lita’af looked constipated, Muramat curious, and Mushaf bored. The rat stared daggers at me. The rest looked mostly amused but kept their attention on Hajar rather than me.
The First Spear coughed. “It appears that he had acquired some enemies before joining our arm, and they followed him here.”
Sophia smiled. “As the Censor of Emanai and the General of this campaign, I bring forth justice with my name. We have caught the thief trying to hide under the kaftan of a noble lady and punished him most severely.”
She pulled out my blade. “Justice was served today.”
I blinked. That…was surprisingly civil when it came to Sophia.
“The fuck?” Hajar muttered as others started to snicker once more. “What is that thing?”
“The sword of your messenger, of course. Does he not recognise it?”
The First Spear groaned and pushed me forward. “I don’t care anymore. Shovel your own shit.”
“That looks like it was made by someone who only made hoes before. This thing is more suited to plough the fields rather than pierce its enemies!” someone in the crowd decided to voice their opinion.
“Hey! Watch your fucking mouth.”
The snickering lady froze and glanced back at the fuming minotaur behind her. “Eh? Did you chip your hoof or something?”
“Do you wish to fix your armour by yourself in the future? I can make that happen.”
“The fuck is your problem, old man?”
He scowled at her one more time then turned toward me. “I spoke to the Kausar twins previously about the recent news from Samat. Was this sword crafted by Isra Enoch Haleh? Just like your armour?”
I nodded. “Her skill is exemplary.”
His eyes returned to the sword. “So the shape has a purpose?”
“Yes. It is not a stabbing blade, but a slashing one.”
He nodded. “If you need to mend your armour or your blade, seek Dumuzid Sumun in the architect maniple. I will work on something that little Isra has created.”
Having said all that, Dumuzid sent another glare at the Kishava officer who quickly took a step back.
“How am I supposed to know that one of the recent Enoch favourites is giving away her swords to murks!? I didn’t even know that this Isra Haleh was a smith until today!”
“That is why you need to watch your mouth!”
The bickering continued. Hajar decided to find her inner zen and mentally checked out of the current conversation. Lita’af looked even more constipated, Muramat finally started to show some signs of concern, and Mushaf grimaced at the sight of her kin getting verbally chastised in this manner.
Other officers eventually joined in with their jokes and jabs, throwing extra kindling into the argument. The first few were careful, with occasional glances at the new General but, when Sophia didn’t react, others quickly followed suit.
Luckily for me, their argument was more about the blade and its maker, rather than its owner.
Sophia ignored them outright. Her eyes were on me all this time, even when she slid her finger across the blade and curved her eyebrow.
I shook my head. If this was one of the other three blades, her fingers would’ve been rolling on the floor by now. “The Collector that stole it was both cowardly and stupid. He wouldn’t dare to approach Anaise Hilal, who holds an actual blade, and went for me instead. And took the sword blank rather than the finished blade.”
Her lips spread into a satisfied smile. “Sounds like you owe me quite a lot for returning the blade.”
I smiled back with similar honesty. “That is why I’ve brought an appropriate gift of gratitude.”
The looking glass was supposed to make my General more favourable toward me, but I would take what I could. Even without my blade going missing and Sophia suspiciously recovering it almost immediately, this gift was unlikely to change her opinion about me.
Her fingers gripped the blade. “You were supposed to stay in Samat!”
I blinked and glanced at the officers of Kiannika, frozen mid-argument. Grinning with glee from some recent joke one of them had said.
Ah, yes. Chasya twins. Can’t forget that.
“I was going to. Then someone encouraged Roshanak Gulnaz to throw her youngest son at my wife. Even Aikerim thinks that the Kamshad Matriarch didn’t act alone in this matter.”
“The Kamshad Matriarch will eat Aikerim alive without her daimon in the capital. Watch your pride when the only one who can protect you in the future is my brother!”
Speaking about wayward brothers. I glanced around the static room, seeking the barest hint of movement.
“Where the fuck is he, anyway?”
“Where the fuck is he, anyway?”
I blinked and turned back at a scowling Sophia, who glanced away in a huff.
“Roshanak Gulnaz will choke on Aikerim.” I decided to ignore our stumble. “The daughter of Kiymetl grows at a pace unheard of before. Every plan that Roshanak makes will be woefully out of date by the time she manages to execute it. Because for every step she takes, Aikerim will take a thousand.”
“The Kamshad Matriarch is leagues ahead of a mere Domina.”
“Not when said Matriarch is chasing after that Domina.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You did something… more than leaving the knowledge of your crafts. You left a piece of yourself… a shard of your power.”
“I did a lot of things, Sophia Chasya. I am not stupid to leave my rear unguarded as I march forward. I do not build upward by stealing bricks from my foundation.”
“Yet, you are walking into the Forest. With me as your General. Here, I am your Domina and your Matriarch. You will do every word I say, exactly how I say it. Was it worth it to struggle so much, yet end up where you belong in the first place?”
I slammed my fist in a salute. “The safest place for ships is in the harbour, but that is not what ships are built for, General. Your power is immense but it is not infinite. You can order me around but you can’t make me reveal the secrets of Kiymetl. No General has that power over Pillar Houses. I will do what I must so that at the end I return to my harbour.”
“If you return at all,” she hissed. “Men more powerful than you have walked into the Forest to never return. I can make you disappear merely by sending you on a scout mission where Can… where Creatures were spotted previously. And neither your Domina nor your wife will be able to stop me.”
“You will find me more resilient than you realise. Besides, something tells me that you aren’t interested in making me disappear at all. You aren’t Amanzhan Irada, threatened by the growth of her youngest sister, nor you are a Samat Domina or a lamura from Yusuf that is eyeing her competition. You do not want me gone,” I tapped my head, “you want what is inside here. And you know that you will get nothing from my corpse. Moreover, I am certain that your brother would be rather… disappointed if you made me disappear.”
She scoffed. “What do you even know about Albin? Nothing! All you ever saw of him is but a mask! You hide behind his khalat like he is your mother without realising that he is using you just like anybody else!”
“I know. Do you think he hasn’t told me? Albin has been pretty upfront about his curiosity from the beginning. Likewise, I have been neither deaf nor stupid to miss his mumblings about things like rivers or fate and the ripples that I or others cause. What makes him different is that he doesn’t play with me like a child plays with a toy. Instead of ordering me to act in a certain way, he argues his position. Not once has he ever tried to take my agency away.”
Her enormous tail slammed into the ground. “Because he doesn’t need to! You are walking along the path he made for you without even knowing it.”
I grinned. “You said it yourself — ‘made for me’. Even in trying to cause a rift between me and your brother, you are proving me right. If I was a key, he didn’t bend me to open the lock, but remade the lock itself to fit my shape. Agency, Sophia Chasya.”
“Do you even know where that path leads to? Do you even know if you will be alive by the end of it?”
I shook my head. “You could unnerve a lesser man with your words, but not me. Because I know myself. I do not fear whatever path he saw for me because I walk my own and his path merely overlaps with mine. Perhaps they will continue to overlap for a long time, even to my final thought. I would then be proud to call your brother a lifelong friend. And if his path should stray from mine, I will bid him a good bye and keep walking by myself.
“If he manages to sway me in a new direction, I wouldn’t mind. I know that I can grow, I know that I can change. And my path in life will reflect on that. I would welcome that change because I know myself.”
I looked down at my hands and clenched them into fists. “Because to live is to change. Because trying to chase what was in the past is to lose sight of the future. Your brother can hail from the Divine Castle itself and even then he wouldn’t be able to turn ‘me’ into ‘not me’.”
I lifted up my eyes and glanced at an uncomfortable-looking Sophia. “Because no being can take ‘me’ from me, but me. Because I know myself. You can walk alongside us, if you wish, oh Censor of Emanai. The goddess knows, your brother — the Speaker of Shebet — doesn’t find me too beneath him. Nor do the other, highly respected members of the Pillar Manors. Or you can stay along with the likes of Roshanak Gulnaz and watch us disappear over the horizon.”
There was a time when I looked at the ‘Jasmine’ in front of me and felt anger. Now I was just tired. Every time we met, her threats grew weaker and weaker as my position grew stronger and stronger. My family was secure and safe from being ‘donated to the Sky Goddess’. Amanzhan had lost a lot of influence in comparison to Aikerim. Roshanak’s gambit fell flat as Anaise left the capital. And now I’d met our General that could technically chop my head off at any moment, yet had her own hands tied from doing so.
“And why do you think I want to?”
“It doesn’t matter what I think, does it? That is your choice to make, your goal to want or want not. But I do think that you do. And it is not because of me either. It is because of your brother.”
She flinched. “You-”
“You respect him.” My words interrupted her retort and I nodded. “There is nothing to be ashamed about — he is an upstanding person. With many traits that few could achieve.”
Sophia harrumphed and crossed her arms. Her tail slowly coiled around her seat. “You don’t even know a tenth of what he is!”
“You are quite correct — there is probably no one else in this world that knows him better than you. But I know enough to appreciate his character.”
She sat still for some time, tapping her finger. “So what?”
“So you get curious about things that interest him. You seek what he has. Including the weird murk that he spends too much time with.”
Sophia harrumphed and crossed her arms even tighter.
“You won’t be like him by taking his ‘toys’ or claiming his wants,” I continued. “If you want to be like him — try acting as he does.”
“If you think that I will lower myself to playing music…” she growled.
“Oh not at all! I am talking about traits that define your brother, not how he spends his leisure time. Your brother doesn’t seek solutions that are quick, dirty, and ‘good enough’. He doesn’t run away from challenges but welcomes them instead. And grows alongside them. Music is actually a good example of it — he liked it but he knew that simply ordering me to drop everything and stay by his side to play wouldn't have worked. So he took the hard route. He learnt to play by himself. Now, not only can no one stop him from listening to the music he likes, but he’s developed his own style of music already! There is literally no kitharist, myself included, across Tana and beyond that could play some of his new songs. Albin would have never achieved that if he somehow strong-armed me into being his bard. Even if I wanted to play for him day in and day out.
“That is probably why he walks alongside me. Because that way he gains more than I could ever give him.”
She sat in silence for a while. Suddenly her tail uncoiled from her seat and slammed hard into the ground, making me flinch from the impact.
“…I will make you apologise to my spear — it was crafted by a renowned artisan!” the sudden sound of an offended werwolf smashed into my ears.
“An artisan of dildoes, more like. Just look how crooked that shaft is!” Someone was quick to reply and immediately laughed at their own joke.
With a single cough, the General sent the entire room into silence.
“An appropriate gift?” Sophia tilted her head.
I blinked. Then blinked again.
Hajar elbowed me from the side. “Your box, you dimwit!”
Cursing the time magic under my breath and ignoring the slight smirk on Sophia’s face, I reached into my kaftan for the box.
I will definitely miss this story next week BUT, take what time you need. This story is certainly worth the wait. :)
Thank you. I have found that being late was getting to me and i started to write slower and slower. I need to shift the schedule to avoid that.
@Snusmumriken this story has far less chapters released than many others. But the quality of every chapter is way beyond that of all those. And it results in a story well told. I'd rather have you take all the time you need to keep the quality that high and whats even more important, that you still enjoy spinning the tale. Don't let anyone pressure you while you're creative.
@cdr_white yeah it is not like i don't want to write or have no idea where to go with the current plot is that the ticking clock makes me waste precious time and trip when I could be running.
Oh Sophia, you big dumb dumb. Nice trick with the time magic tho.
If only you looked at your own fate (can they even do that, peer at their own fate like they do to others) you would see were Erf is. Your own wedding!
Yes, I know we don't really know what Albin and Cationa saw, but I made my bet and I am sticking with it.
Also, Albin is probably doing play by play commentary of this to Anaise.
it is a bit hard to look at themselves, so to say there are no fate mirrors.
Remember mother did not approved that marriage xD
What? Sophia and Erf are canon?
@S6pence @ashevn We just have a whole shipyard of builders here, that's all
Been shipping since chapter 2 of WB.
@Cerulean_Nymph Yall, Evergreen company by now
@S6pence : We can say ( about 80% ) for sure that the deal when Aikerim become 8th Matriarch with mommy dragon are each Pillar Manors will has atleast 1 girl join to Erf sadaq . So 8th Pillar Manor will not much over power other like the wolf house in past .
@ashevn that would give a ton of power to that new Manor instead though. they have primogeniture so Erf wealth will go to one of his first children (unless he keeps printing boys) and other additions to the sadaq could only will their own wealth to their children.
@Snusmumriken not the wealth but the tips and advice (daimon knowledge) come from Erf will be the true treasure thought . If they can direct ask him somehow and gain adv from his knowledge like current Kiymetl then they will be ok with it .
@ashevn the question is whether they consider his tips to be worth it and how quickly it would diminish due to all others being in the sadaq. A large reason why Kiymetl (and Aikerim) values Erf as much isn't because his knowledge is vast but because that knowledge is monopolised by them. Most other Manors wouldn't consider it worthwhile to give away their daughters to him if everyone is doing it, And, if they do, they wouldn't be the cream of the crop Matriarchs-to-be Ladies of the House but third-fourth-fifth daughters of branch families out of the primary succession chain. Something that Nanaya was thinking about in order to dilute Aikerims monopoly on Erf.
And Muramat is actually well-above all of those as an offer to sadaq (by Emanai standards) Technically Kamshad offer was better than what Nanaya offered to Erf.
@Snusmumriken A knowledge of other world , the wikipedia of all thing they can remember ( until they got bio space ship ) it should be priceless for a country with the leader stay in dark keeping ballance and peace and wait for the country ppl discovery themself in next few k years . But that it our view (reader view), as u say kinda hard to think as char in story if has diffirent view . I shouldnt disturb you story board thought with some of my overly pink image anymore , and let wait how this arc go . What come out after our Erf got direct view on other world war and the hopsital/medic work by Eva seem promising .
Thx for answer.
@ashevn The price (or worth) is highly subjective matter. There were kingdoms where people used cowrie seashells (which is why one of the cowrie species is called Monetaria Moneta due to its use as hard currency) as money and the wealthiest clans and people were swimming in those shells. But for others -- they would be nothing but seashells, a gaudy jewellery piece at best. Even gold or money of today -- they suddenly worth little if you are stranded on an island as they are not immediately useful for your survival.
Same with knowledge. just as other forms of wealth it is highly subjective.
@Snusmumriken Honestly im not thinking some thing hard here . Just something like . AIkerim told Erf when he teached her (i dont remember ) she would give Anaise for him despite again her will if what his told her are true , same with how Yeva + Shahin + Isra send gift for Enoch . The " offer they can't refuse " , maybe . That is if we go for that route , but seem like my dream still be dream
@ashevn Aikerim case was different. It wasn't just giving him Anaise. it was binding him to her Manor. True - he had Yeva and Irje by that time, but in her eyes they weren't associated with any Manors - they were extra. Anaise bound him to Kiymetl for good. Any other high-standing Lady would hurt Anaise's standing, and Aikerim's influence. Therefore other Manors would send either concubines (low standing fifth daughters I mentioned before) not to threaten Anaise, or they would have to usurp Anaise position altogether and push her down from "solitary" spot as Pillar wermage of the sadaq.
@Snusmumriken Story in my imagine something be like (it full of holes thought ):
As time go . the girls stay close and spy on Erf family , and our daimon show them( or they realize themself ) that he over power them in most of case . Only suff he didnt get it yet are the local stuff and how their civil work , that needed can be done by manyway, if they not the one provide it then there alot other ready to do it . So their Matriarch has to change way aproach , if they cant hinder their opponent adv then the best they can do is make their manor not fall behind too much . So operation begin .
Kausar twin : " What do you thing about earth mage ? we can help you find thing you need in deep land easy . Plus how about cute deer tail ? 1 plus 1 for best "
Lita'af : " You got red fox now ... how about silver wolf "
Anaise : " She is good deal "
Erf : Let me take time tell you about a guy name Hugh Michael Jackman i know
Sophia + Sahin stare : "racist "
Yeva : " Shahin will be good for us with her envoy skill "
Irje : " As long as i can play with them "
So as the girls accept that this sadag is equal inside and they much more benefit from this marriage (and their manor after that ) than what benefit they can bring for him (like Anaise before). By loyal to him , contribute to his work , they can get better themself and their manor behind .
Sophia :" i am Emanai leader and strongest mage out there . hmm "
Then suddenly the flow disturb , the true goddess as Mreea appeal , even Catriona have to huury and kneel down before her . Mreea then tell Erf that she are the one pull his ship down when they travel near her house (Tana) , for reason ? Because Arkshi are eat and run badstard , he leave Tana with his deed left behind ,Cancer are result of his deed with other goddess ,and Mreea want clean them of her home .
Erf are " children from other star " to her, and his child with wer mage will be greatest force to deal with her problem . She will return his ship when his child born .
Erf " dam u and you plot for my child .Fine you will get my child born as you wish and return my ship. But i will deal with the annoying myself instead of my child '
Book 3 : " Tana at war "
@ashevn Well this story is definitely not "Pokemon: Gotta catch them all!", so no
Take as much time as you need to write your masterpiece dude. Thanks for the new chapter!
Thank you for your understanding
I love how both Sophia and Erf are like "where tf is he?". Albin, my man, never change. I'm sure next time that guy meets Sophia, he will be teasing her for admitting she admires him. AKA he will be sicking her on Erf once again just for fun.
She was also going to say "Cancer" instead of Creatures, wasn't she? Damn, if she only said that, Erf would already have another small component of the key to controlling the Forest I'm sure.
And this whole dialogue was under stopped time huh. So, whose Stand is Erf? Star Platinum or The World?
Erf: "Yes, I am!"
And Albin isn't one to directly tease his sister, I think. He is more subtle than that.
@Snusmumriken I don't know, Albin is a troll. Take what rest you can, you deserve it!
@Snusmumriken oh no he's not one to do amazing things in front of them and then talk humbly to them
@MartiKerri8 yeah but that is his sister. He treats different people differently. it just most of his character is shown through interactions with Erf. Besides he can troll without overtly teasing her too
@Templary that does sound like Erf though
@Snusmumriken Sophia's reaction was strangely endearing to me though. She admires him, and we don't know whether they like each other's company. I assume they do, to some extent, although she uses him as a bargaining chip (like with Aikerim's older sister). But yeah, that moment was well-written, she's an earnest grandma, Sophia.
@MartiKerri8 They do have their own morals, however. just because she admires him doesn't mean it is done with our standards.
And she didn't specify him as bargaining chip, Amanzhan assumed him to be. Something that Nanaya pointed to her at a later time.
@Snusmumriken She did play with the ambiguity though, but I do agree. And yeah, I know that it's an Emanai thing to use boys and men just as women were in our history, aka wedding offerings to tie noble families together.
@MartiKerri8 Albin is trol but he cares and want to grow his sister, teach her the meaning of 'no' and maturity to accept it.
I feel that most of us would be big trolls with time magic. So that's pretty accurate.
She gotta win any battles she can
That's perfectly alright, I go to this fiction for quality. Take all the time you need. I trust you to know what's best for your own story. you certainly write better than I do.
I am mostly flying by the seat of my pants here myself. just need to take a few loops to gain some air first.
@Snusmumriken wait really, I thought you were one of those "I have 200 pages of notes and plans" types, your writing seems incredibly coherent and thought out
@Cynical_Pasta I mean I DO have pages and pages of setting outlines, history, and geography. And i do have a general series of major events that likely will happen even without Erf being present in the picture. But this is my first time writing this kind of stuff ever (school assignments don't count - those were A-horrible B-a long time ago.) and I do not have a heavily outlined direction how individual characters will act as i let them grow and evolve with every chapter so to say.
Hell, if i went in with my first outline, Aikerim would have been a fat wife of a merchant.
Damn, that sounds like a healthy plan to be honest, stories need to a certain level of dynamic. And you doing incredibly well on this all things considered. I can never commit to any of my ideas long enough to get a functioning story. I think I have 14 basic plot outlines and 6 standalone prologues in my Google Drive.
@Cynical_Pasta Honestly the beginning was hard to commit as well. I just forced myself to write despite not wanting to. What also helped me was that I didn't just have immediate goal in mind that could be resolved in 5 chapters or less but an overarching thing that would take a few books to uncover. So by the time I have gotten my first itch scratched I already got accustomed to writing.
It's nice to hear that even those as skilled as you struggle. I hope to try something similar once my schedule clears up, thank you for the motivation.
@Cynical_Pasta Rather than skill I would say it was effort. I've spent 1-2 months-ish before i even started writing WB to figure out what kind of setting i wanted to write in. basic concepts magic system tech level etc. And I spent (and still do) a lot of time reading up historical papers, math and physics and other subjects to enrich each chapter, not only that but i do heavily rely on all the books i've read over the years and what emotions they made me feel.
None of those things make you less skilled, arguably more really, though perhaps I'm using the wrong word, effort is a great virtue and I'm not trying to diminish the work you put in.
My point is that the end result is great, no matter the process. And you've got great humour, hard to read yourself to that, I think.
@Cynical_Pasta I was trying to say that there is no unassailable barrier to do as much if not even better. everyone has a ton of experience and can eventually fill whatever gaps they have with research. For a long time I was certain that my prose was bland (and it was bland when I was writing school projects. And even more blander when I was writing papers)
I see, thank you. I'll try to take that advice to heart.
@Cynical_Pasta Good luck!
@Snusmumriken thank you!
Yeva smiled and pulled out another lump of sweetness.
oh shit, they're about to get a sh*t f*cking ton of money
You expect them to give away Vera's precious treasure? Treason!
@Snusmumriken Death By Chocolate! Quite literally if the toxicity to dogs carries over to wers. Now that would be a hell of a way to deal with the Houses of War...
In any case, Erf's care packages just got a major upgrade! Actual chocolate chip cookies!
@Tupperwarez A huge portion of our poison resistance (though not all of it) is due to our sheer mass. It just gives our metabolism time to deal with things that would have already killed something much smaller. That said, accidentally poisoning of the Dogs of War via chocolate is a funny thought.
@fox6s @Tupperwarez Luckily for them, they are human races first and everything else later. Erf is more likely to receive pure chocolate MRE instead that he can use as he sees fit later.
@Snusmumriken Erf with a brick of pure, uncut *anything* in an army camp is an idea that is at once terrifying and hilarious.
Then again, what better way to butter up your commanding officers in the cold northlands than a steaming mug of hot chocolate? Ooooh, or Aztec hot chocolate if they're feeling spicy, or even champurrado!
@Tupperwarez Chirp is rather limited at lifting weight capacity lol
Have a good break, man! Hope you get what you need from it, and that you come back recharged, reorganized, and ready to rock!
This is more like raising the debt ceiling - i still have to pay
@Snusmumriken Like I said, you gotta do what you gotta do to keep things moving, even if it means stopping a little. If that makes sense.
Plus, I think I mentioned this before, but it feels like with this Northern Campaign Arc we're getting an extra book's worth of story. Was the intention to have each 'book' of the saga take place over the course of a season? Wisher Beware was summer, and it's looking like Ecdysis will be autumn.
@Tupperwarez not really bound by the seasons. I mostly have an 'ending' or 'setting' for a book and I write it until it's done. I just took too long with setting up the Feast. From the beginning, Ecdysis was planned to complete the northern campaign.
What? I must wait an extra week?? How will I live! I must get my fix lol
Thanks for the chapter! *Casually breaks laws of space time to mess with her brothers playmate*
She gotta win no matter how!
@Snusmumriken to quote a certain villain "when everybody's super, no one is". The amount of hijinks they could get into if they actually knew what they were dealing with.... Scary
@TehFoxFire They are technically not trying to draw attention to themselves by the way. This is them "laying low"
Did you ever make a glossary page? I forgot who Vera was until it clicked that she was the slave girl.
Gotta say, I could see Sophia finding herself in the sadaq if she isn't careful. The way to a woman's heart is her curiosity. Erf now has her full attention. I could see him spending a large amount of time with Sophia where she pesters him into knowing everything about erf.
There is a glossary page, but it is a bit outdated (as it reflects the characters at the beginning of the story.)