The Final Calling: Progress Report Four

Chapter Three is now available online.

I’m paid up through Chapter Nine, which isn’t bad, but I know better than to get over-confident; these things can slow down quickly.

I’m partway through writing Chapter Eight, getting into one of the parts of the story that’s plotted in less detail than I might like, but I don’t expect any problems. Chapter Seven, incidentally, is the shortest to date, but still half a page over my minimum.

Chapter Four will be posted on Wednesday, July 7.

54 thoughts on “The Final Calling: Progress Report Four

  1. Just read chapter 3, and noticed another misediting: “realized” for “realization”.

    I didn’t read the comments on chapter 2, so it didn’t occur to me that Vond was coming back. It should have, I know. Things are going to get interesting…in a distinctly Eric Frank Russell sense of the word “interesting.”

  2. Very good chapter. I just remembered about the blog space so I’m catching up on comments.

    I seem to remember in one of the books that the Towers were described as being the power source that holds the primordial miasma at bay from The World. I doubt that Vond will be allowed to tamper with that for very long.

    I’m glas to see Hanner as a major character. As I had read the short story without knowing it was chapter one (or prologue,) I didn’t expect that.

    I don’t think I’m going to want this book to end.

  3. The new important questions seem to be:
    1. Can Vond still adjust other warlocks to let them use “his” alternative source?
    2. Can he undo that adjustment? Sterren wouldn’t mind, but some people might want to use him against Vond.

  4. Me, I still think that warlocks were using the Gaia broadcast, and that every strong enough sorcerous device may be heard by a warlock close enough, if it manifests its effect on a distance. Also, does drawing power from broadcast harm the device in any way? Just because Vond uses them as a source , does it mean that he is tampering? Although the wizards are going to end him anyways, I think.

  5. Also, Vond is still a warlock, so he should be able to do the same stuff as before, including adjustment. The question is, can other warlocks adjust themselves? If they get close enough to Lumeth?

  6. I think the bigger problem, from the wizards’ point of view, is that there doesn’t seem to be ANY check on Vond any more. He can become arbitrarily powerful to whatever level of power the towers can source, which would seem to be very very high. I don’t think the Guild will want a godlike Vond wandering around. Furthermore, there isn’t any more restriction limiting him to the southern Small Kingdoms. He can expand his empire into the Three Ethshars or anywhere else he chooses. The question is, what can they do about him? Wizardry doesn’t seem to work very well directly on warlocks. I suspect Vond will eventually end up on the other side of Hanner’s transporting tapestry which we know will work on a powerful warlock, since it’s been tested on Hanner.

  7. follick, interesting points. Also the Wizards have a major problem: at the end of the Vondish Ambassador, they very publicly forbade all warlocks from going to the Empire of Vond (or many of its neighbors). Now Vond is returning there with 80+ warlocks. They’re going to *have* to back up their edict, somehow — or lose serious face. That’s leaving aside the danger to the world, of course.

    As far as what they can do, maybe the spell of the black dagger would help? Give it to someone trustworthy, let them execute a lot of criminals (or oxes), cats, etc., and you’ve got a fairly effective assassin… who would then, of course, be a problem.

    Or they could try the Seething Death again. After all, what’s another dead zone in the middle of nowhere?

    (Yes, I’m guessing wildly. I would give the above two harebrained ideas less than 10% chance of being used, unless all else failed. I suspect the transporting tapestry is more likely, or else something else which will be revealed later — after all, it is still just chapter 3!)

  8. How do you propose to push Vond through the transporting tapestry? As you say, there’s no limit on his power, he’s got an “honor guard” that will (presumably) remain loyal through the simple logic of being the next targets on the list after Vond. Taking out Lord Ferran, a Warlock before there was really an idea out what all they could do with a fraction of Vond’s power, was hard enough on the Guild- and left them with the nasty idea that the even such “lesser” Warlocks could take out their attackers.

    Vond straight back into emperor-mode and heading for an area the Wizards-guild declared Warlock free with an honor guard of Called Warlocks… is a fast-track to epic conflict. (and there’s no way this is a Bad Thing for everyone in the Small Kingdoms… *cough*) Vond guarantees that Warlockry isn’t dead. The question now is what Warlockry post-Call is going to look like.

    I assume there’s still some sort of limiting factor; every kind of magic seems to have one even if, like sorcery, we don’t know enough about it to know what the limit is (yet).

  9. Oh I think it would be fairly simple to dupe Vond into walking through the tapestry into Hanner’s World (for lack of a better name). Simply show him how much simpler it is to transport to Ethshar and back or between other places he might want to go. Vond has shown in the past that he is very much up for taking the simplest way of doing things, and very impatient. Then once he is accustomed to using tapestries, just use the one to Hanner’s World.

    The only problem I see with that is his lingering paranoia (he was just being attacked rather relentlessly from his perspective), and he will likely face imminent attack again. If the Wizard’s Guild were crafty about it, and Hanner could get them the info they need quickly enough to forestall any attacks for a bit, it could be done.

  10. I’m half a continent away from my copies of the previous books and I’m trying to get an idea what the timeline for the Calling of warlocks was. Hanner was a Night of Madness warlock, scanning back through the first chapter I don’t see a reference to how long he’d been a warlock before being called (though presumably most of the 34 years of warlockry if he was gone a “long time”), and anyone happen to know off the top of their head when Vond was called?

  11. As much as Vond is about the “easy way” he’s also 110% about using his Warlock powers- they don’t tire you and become stronger with use… Why use the devices of potential (or explicit) enemies when you can fly yourself and become more powerful for it?

  12. Well, that was true about the old source, and seemingly the Lumeth source, but we have not seen whether that will continue to be true. Once Vond starts to see some limits, if they appear, his inherent impatience could be used against him. I do understand and agree about his paranoia, as I mentioned previously. That’s why I think it is unlikely to be simple, since I doubt the Wizard’s Guild will be patient enough to hold off their attacks.

  13. I was sympathetic to the plight of the Source. I’m glad it got rescued.

    As for Vond, yes, he’s going to be a problem real soon.

  14. I cannot exactly recall the extent of warlock’s resistance to wizardry – I remember their being some, but I also recall Farran being petrified nicely, so I think wizard will think up a spell to deal with Vond, if they feel threatened enough. That honey-loving assassin thing may work, for instance. Or maybe a trained spriggan:) They do seem to be unkillable. That is not the only problem, though- other warlocks WILL want the power back, for many reasons – addiction, job security, etc, and many of them has just seen that there is some sort of power somewhere. Also, they are not technically warlocks now, so they can enter Lumeth freely, become warlocks and be killed…or something.

  15. I don’t know exactly what will happen, but this being the Ethshar series, I can virtually guarantee that the major conflicts will be resolved with calm negotiation and people being talked into doing the sensible thing. That’s why we love the series so much, right?

  16. The Source turns out to be pretty much what I expected, but the complications resulting from its discovery are more interesting than I’d anticipated–I liked the politics in Night of Madness, as various interest groups tried to adjust to a new status quo, and this seems to be shaping up into more of the same. I’d expect the wizards to be better prepared to fight warlocks than they were during NoM, but Vond is just crazy enough to threaten to smash the Lumeth tower if any attack is made on him or his followers, if he can’t find any other threat that will deter them.

    Some of the questions that come to mind:

    1. Do the gods now recognize the former warlocks as human, now that their brains are no longer receiving an extradimensional transmission?

    2. If so, do the gods recognize Lumeth warlocks as human?

    3. Does power drawn from Lumeth interfere with wizardry the same way as Source warlockry?

    4. Is drawing vast amounts of power from the Lumeth towers something that will even bother the wizards? (I presume so, but if it doesn’t hurt the towers or their function at all, the wizards might not necessarily need to do anything except enforce their usual rules about magic and politics.)

  17. Oh, and one more question:

    5. Can the wizards turn off the Lumeth source, do they believe they can turn it back on, and what do they believe the effects would be of doing so for, say, five minutes? This seems every bit as sensible and risk-free as the Seething Death plan in Spell of the Black Dagger, so I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t try it.

  18. I like the description of plan 5 as “every bit as sensible and risk-free as the Seething Death plan in Spell of the Black Dagger”.

    But I think this time they’ll be STARTING to try to find a solution at roughly the high council of wizards level. So I suspect stupidity on quite that level is out. The high council has no reason to get all that desperate since they can all retreat from the world in the absolute worst case.

    To me the title of this book, and the emphasis so far on Hammar and Sensella (niether going with Vond) says that Vond is probably a minor side-issue. That COULD be because he spends the entire book in the far south, or it COULD be because at some point the Wizard’s guild pulls out something we didn’t know they had and Vond goes SPLAT.

  19. Well if Vond and other warlocks start drawing power from Lumeth, and it’s understood that Lumeth is a sorcerous talisman that keeps the vapors of death (or unreality, or whatever it might be,) at bay, what happens when it is drained to the point where it can’t do it’s job anymore?

  20. Lots of interesting discussion, some of it hitting on stuff that’s coming up, some of it off in entirely the wrong direction — and of course, I won’t tell you which is which. Several of the questions brought up will be answered, though some not for awhile yet.

    I will mention that one comment has me considering a slight plot change, as it’s a nice bit I hadn’t thought of, and fits really well.

  21. Oh, and on dates:

    Night of Madness, 5202.

    Hanner Called, 5219.

    Vond becomes emperor, 5220.

    Vond is Called, 5221.

    Warlocks banned from Lumeth, 5224.

    Response arrives, late in 5236.

  22. Awesome commentary everybody, although I’m surprised nobody mentioned my first thought when Vond lit up the sky, which is, this is Aldagmor, so where is Yellowbelly? It’s now been fifteen years, so she and Dumery should have a whole Dragon fiefdom going up there.

  23. The possibility of such a discussion is only possible until the book goes out, after all – a sliver lining on having to wait. My first time participating in one, though.
    To continue with the theories:
    I am not sure warlock actually draw energy from the source, more like the source broadcasts it regardless of whether there are receivers or not. Although the presence of many warlocks near the border may weaken the effect of the towers.
    Also, I think it was mentioned that outside the border there are poison gases, remaining after creation.
    Still, there are a lot of warlocks in the world. With the Calling gone, what would all of them do? Waiting to see it.
    Sorry for ranting.

  24. Ah, so Dumery is probably just finishing his leveling up to Merchant Prince. It’s too bad though, Dumery’s natural antimagic and Dragon immunity to the Aldagmor Source kind of gave them a buffer zone to build up their infrastructure, establish safe living areas for young dragons, and such. With it gone, wizards will have less of a problem coming into kick the dragons back into the ghetto.

    Hoping this is a chance to see some high power combat wizardry. Tabitha was more like a theoretical problem, but Vond is more like a peer(now with a corps of Lumeth Warlocks). One would expect the Wizard’s Guild to pull out some of the magics from the War they haven’t used in a while. (Or some of the PEOPLE from the War that haven’t been around much).

  25. I think Vond dies off screen. The girl seems to be the main charecter and it sounds like her and Hanner are going to be the lead the action. Vond problay will be killed by the Wizard’s Guild. He won’t atune the ohter warlocks in time causing all of them to get attacked and killed by the Guild off stage with a sizable fight by Vond. The others are just going to be rippied to shreds as they have no magic. No called Warlock will have any idea or capacity to attune themselves. If they don’t have their powers then Stern is the only person in the World that can attune someone and he is not going to do it. I really would be interested in finding out what the crash is. Since I want to say spaceship but it seems wrong since I don’t see Watts turning Esthar into a cross genre piece.

  26. I wouldn’t lay money either way on Vond living or dying at this point. It really depends on how much pain the Wizard’s guild is willing to endure out of sheer stubbornness. Remember, Night of Madness laid out that the most powerful Warlocks returning with a grudge against the Wizard’s guild was essentially the Worst Case Scenario for the Wizard’s guild… Now that scenario has come partially true, with the bonus that the *only* active warlocks are lead by the most powerful ‘lock EVER. This could easily turn into a pure-magic version of the Great War if cooler heads don’t prevail.

    It’s hard to imagine just pushing that off screen and say “nothing to see here,” the consequences are too big. The Wizards are going to be looking for tools, scapegoats, and who knows what else. Former warlocks the world over are going to be scrambling for any clue what’s going on, and the only source of warlock-y activity looks like it’s going to be the Empire (Ethshar v the ~Southern~ Empire? Eh, what?). Then you’ve got the super-locks that were left behind… a chunk of which have spent a lifetime thinking of themselves as magicians and all of which are still marked as “Warlocks” by the Wizard’s guild…

    I’ve got to say the waiting between chapters is killing me.

  27. Hmm, now I wonder if wizards turned to warlocks can engage in wizardry now that the calling is over. Can they engage in Lumeth warlockery and wizardry if atuned?

    The calling as a mating call was a long shot. It just seemed like such a twist.

    The fact that the thing fell from outside the Aldagmor reality was really interesting.

  28. the thing had called for help, and because it was not from the World, not from this entire universe, it had needed to call so very loudly that its call resonated in certain human minds. Some of those humans had immediately obeyed, their will overwhelmed by the demand that whoever heard the Call must come and help; others had been able to take the sheer power of the Call and shape it with their own will, using it to perform magic.

    So the source is gone for good, the speculation about the possibility of other similar sources is a dead end (i.e. not very likely at all, this isn’t something that is likely to show up again in different parts of the world), the Lumeth power a completely different issue in many ways, yet not in others.

  29. Stephen said:
    > Hmm, now I wonder if wizards turned to warlocks can engage in wizardry now that the calling is over.

    My speculation: Yes, but. The Wizard’s guild at the time of the night of madness said that wizards turned to warlocks had to either (a) break their athame or (b) die. Both choices prevent wizards from doing much of anything. However, any wizards who were “called” on the night of madness (or before the edict) ought to (still) be wizards. They would probably not be too effective in the near term, as they wouldn’t have many ingredients with them…

    As I recall, the problem that Wizard/Warlocks had after the night of madness was that their warlock powers would mess up the gestures/rituals/etc they needed to trigger their spells — if the spell required picking up something with their hands, for example, using warlock powers to pick the thing up would ruin everything. The shorter the casting time, the more likely the spell was to work.

  30. There was actually 3 options:

    – break their athame (become warlocks only)
    – go to another reality (remain wizards)
    – die

    It is possible some decided to leave to another reality, and can return now.

  31. The question to me about Vond is, does he seek revenge against Sterren and the leadership of Vond? He was always foolish in not making others into Lumeth drawing Warlocks, if he is even a little bright he will correct that with his cadre while they are still flying south. If he had been even a little smart he would have helped his fellow Warlocks first and foremost to survive and that way made allies out of all of them instead of just a hundred followers.

    The question about Sterren is more involved. We know that Warlocks use their power without thinking about it awake or asleep by force of will. We know that Sterren started drawing on Lumeth when Vond changed him and that he was able to influence dice in 5221 and that 15 years have passed. Even if he has not consciously been using Lumeth unconsciously and while asleep he has, and has been growing in the power all 15 years. By now he should be up to the level Hannar was at the start of Night of Madness, able to do things but still able to hide his power. It was implied the Wizard guild knows he has the power but allow him to stay on because he is smart and subtle and doesn’t flaunt it.

    Someone also pointed out up thread, if sorcery opens the door to the Warlock power an adjusted Warlock might be able to use any old Talisman as a point source. Put on a Talisman necklace and be able to fly and do other things requiring moderate levels of power but not things like building a granite castle overnight? It seems that each source a Warlock draws on requires tuning, it was certainly true for both Vond and Sterren, so a Talisman source would be an individual source, not a group source.

    Another point, clearly Strella clearly knows who Vond is, after all the Wizards Guild made their edict about Lumeth and Vond the empire known to all the Warlocks around 5224. I always wondered why Warlocks didn’t move to the area close to Vond but outside the exclusion zone and draw on Lumeth from there, nothing forbids them from doing so and now it is their only potential source of power unless they can tune to Talisman’s. We know that several Warlocks working together can defeat any individual Warlock so I don’t see the Wizards acting to kill all the Warlocks who will now want to tune to Lumeth so long as they keep their structure of self regulation in place.

    Because of the Wizard edict of 5224 every Warlock knows about Lumeth, they will have held the knowledge inside their organization because of the edict. Now every Warlock in the three Ethshar’s has lost access to Aldagmor, naturally they want their power back. If any of them are close enough to Lumeth to tune in as Vond did in 5220 then all of them will be adjusted very soon and the world rolls on. I know the Wizards guild might go all out and try killing every Warlock before that happens now that they are defenseless, but i don’t see them adopting that act without a lot of planning, it would be far to risky. After all a man like Vond could tune every wizard he meets to Lumeth, after that they would not be Wizards any longer but rather Warlocks. Where would their loyalty lie, the Wizards guild or self preservation?

  32. Something else just occurred to me. Certainly the Wizards Guild would have used divination to determine the boundaries of the Warlock exclusion zone for their edict of 5224. It seems likely that Warlocks who pass inside those boundaries can self adjust to hear Lumeth while those outside the boundary have to be adjusted by someone else who can hear Lumeth. That being the case if any of the cadre Vond took along survive and move back to the Three Ethshar’s they would be able to adjust new apprentices to Lumeth without violating the Edict. I can also see a situation where the cadre decide Vond is too dangerous and work together to get rid of him, Vond was never a team player but the various cadre members are likely to include some members of the Council who have leadership skills to organize the rest if they decide Vond is a threat.

  33. Sterren was “adjusted” by Vond, but he was an extremely weak warlock. Vond just “listened” to the tower’s whisper for power. He could hear their noise from the start – it was driving him crazy. I believe that any warlock going near the towers would be able to use their white noise power as the Calling/source wouldn’t be interfering anymore.

    I don’t think that Warlocks not being seen as human by the gods matters whether the calling is present or not. Something was changed in them that attuned them to the source. And that change also means that warlocks still can’t be wizards or other magic users.

  34. I thought the ban was just for warlocks entering the empire of Vond. It didn’t specifically reference the towers. They were trying to prevent other warlocks learning of the towers, so they are unlikely to make that public.

    Warlocks could easily know about Vond without knowing about the towers. In fact, that seems to be the situation. Otherwise, as you say, a few of the warlocks would have tried to connect to the towers and some of them would eventually been Called.

    Given that Vond can still fly (and lift 100 others), the range of the towers extends way beyond the small kingdoms. However, that could just be due to Vond’s strength. A weaker warlock, even one who was Called, might be to far from the towers to fly, but should still be able to make light.

  35. I just have a feeling that if Vond stays in then that would result in much of the book resolving that angle and would constituite lots of action. Esthar novels as we all know tend to be low key. For example, In most books Valder’s missions into the Empire to assassinate soccrer politicain and who knows what woul have been most of the book. HIs retirement would have been just a chapter or two. So it just seems that in that theme we not going to see much out of Vond just based off of the series we are reading.

  36. So Vond grabbed a few volenteers and flew off. He didn’t stop to help the injured, provide them with protection from the elements, etc, all of which was within his power. And I’d wager that at least half of those volenteers signed up just so that they can find the source of Vond’s power and use it for themselves, meaning that once they get that power they aren’t likely to remain loyal.

    Seems to me that Vond just made a bit of a mistake. Instead of having ALL of the warlocks grateful to you, he grabbed the ones who are most drawn to power. He could have become king of the warlocks, but instead he split them.

    This is shaping up to be a showdown. Vond and his croneys on one side, Hammner and the rest of the powerless warlocks on the other side, and people on both sides that will turn traitor. Then there’s the Wizard’s Guild, and somewhere in there the Witches Coven may come into play.

  37. Once again, not commenting on a lot of stuff, but there’s no Witches Coven; there’s the Sisterhood, which has some actual power, and the Brotherhood, which is pretty useless.

  38. A lot of series that have the sort of sprawling worlds and characters that Ethshar does have wikis full of the sort of timelines and personas that we’re throwing about here… but I have yet to find one for Ethshar. Anyone know where good one is?

  39. I’m not aware of an Ethshar wiki as such, but there’s a surprising amount on Wikipedia, and it’s mostly accurate.

  40. So, I’m going back through some of the other books, looking for bits and pieces, and I ran across a throwaway comment in Taking Flight about the tavern the Crystal Skull getting trashed on the Night of Madness.

    I’ve wondered since I first read the book (and then didn’t see any related reference in the Night of Madness) if it was incidental, just one more place where someone had a nightmare that turned real, or if there was something about that particular piece of quartz.

    It’s the sort of thing that might or might not come up so I thought I’d see if it was something that would be “revealed in a few chapters,” or, if not, if I’m just seeing connections where there aren’t any.

  41. Wow.

    No, that really was just a throwaway. I have no plans to do anything more with it.

    Though now that you’ve reminded me, who knows?

  42. ~Laughing.

    I’m awesome at this game. I had read With a Single Spell twice and Taking Flight at least once and still hadn’t figured out that Azray of Ethshar was the same person, let alone a character that there were plans for, until I found your web page. I guess that’s the result of being a part of a generation that knows to look for the gun on the mantel in the first act but doesn’t bother to figure out the genre of the play til its over.

  43. I take it back, I just got to meeting Azraya in Taking Flight, I’d forgotten how detailed the reference to WaSS was, so I got that- I just assumed she was going to be a repeating background character rather than there being plans for her to have her own story.

  44. Yeah, I love seeing the active comments. I need to be careful replying to them, though, because I don’t want to give away surprises, or spend time answering them when I should be writing.

  45. It’s been awhile since this chapter was written but when Vond first appears and makes his “offer.” I love how you wrote Sensella’s warning to Hanner. It was reminiscent of someone telling a friend not to get involved in Amway. THAT exchange is one of the gems that really makes a book click, not the magic, not the detailed descriptions. Well-written pieces like that are what (I know you know this- I am just trying to compliment a much-admired writer) make me read things over and over.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *