The Final Calling: Progress Report Six

Chapter Five is now online.

Sorry this is late; I posted all the other notices last night and flat-out forgot this one, and when I got up this morning a storm had taken out the power. It wasn’t out for very long, but I’ve only just now managed to get my computer (her name is Chloe) back up and running.

Anyway, Chapter Five is up.

I’m partway through writing Chapter Eleven.

The serial is paid for through Chapter Thirteen. Chapter Six will be posted Wednesday, July 21st.

A further note on moderation: While you’re welcome to post links, including one in a comment puts that comment in the moderation queue rather than letting it post immediately. I’m willing to consider removing that requirement; if anyone has strong feelings either way on the subject, please let me know.

And here we are.

31 thoughts on “The Final Calling: Progress Report Six

  1. (Ahem, copying this from the other thread)

    Bah, there will be 2 weeks before we find out what happens with the dragon, since only the odd chapters are from Hanner’s viewpoint :).
    (well unless the next chapter is about the dragon traveling to where Hanner is … or maybe the dragon’s thoughts on how best to deal with the warlocks).

    Given that she didn’t kill Dumery outright, it is probably here to talk.

    The Source represented pretty good defence for the dragon, since she was unaffected by the Calling.

    If she had wanted to kill lots of humans, she could have hit nearby towns and then retreated into the dead zone around the Source.

    Maybe she was taking the long viewpoint, and/or humans are more trouble to kill than their food value. As was pointed out in Split Heirs, one human is weak, but groups of humans bent on revenge are a threat (this may also have been pointed out in Blood of a Dragon).

    Also, given that dragon’s blood is such a major wizardry component, I wonder if the arrival of the dragon is a way to provide an ingredient for a spell. From wikipedia, that would give:

    – Enral’s Eternal Youth Spell (with lots of other ingredients)
    – Explosive Seal
    – Fendel’s Spectacular Illusion
    – Servile Animation

    None of those look especially useful given the current circumstances. However, it can probably be used for others. Also, they might be able to get blood by injuring the dragon without killing it. For example, the sorcerer might be able to drive it off with the handgun … but it’s probably not that powerful.

    It is possible that the Wizard’s Guild will consider the actions of the magicians as practising 2 disciplines. I guess they are relatively safe as they aren’t technically capable of warlockry at the moment and anyway, they will be busy dealing with Vond. Also, some of them were never really warlocks.

    I wonder what way the story is going to go. Getting Hanner to Lumeth would take a pretty long time. Fast transport seems to be restricted to Wizardry. Transporting tapestries, flying carpets and that flute spell are all wizardry.

    Maybe, it is possible to convince a god (or maybe even a demon) to move you from place to place, but probably not 1000 people.

    Sorcery could have a teleporter talisman, but it would presumably be one of a kind. (Which technically would be useful if it worked like Star Trek where you only need a teleporter at one end and also one of the sorcerers in the group had the Ethsharic equivalent of a mobile phone).

    Witchcraft might have a run fast ability which degrades health, but allows you to run faster. This might have been mentioned in Blood of a Dragon, but anyway, it wouldn’t be useful for long distance travel.

    Warlocks were one of the few magic types that could travel fast due to flight, so the other option is that they figure out how to tap the Lumeth Source.

    The fastest “conventional” travel would likely be by ship. However, they would need to go pretty far West to hit the ocean. Alternatively, they could travel down the big river that separates the Hegemony from the Little Kingdoms. The fact that they are following a river would give support for that option.

    On the relationship between theurgistry and demonology, it looks like gods also make deals. With a demon you need a rock solid contract before you risk calling them. However, the god gave a reasonable deal after the food was provided. While they both use deals, you can trust a god to be reasonable, so there is no advanced agreement required, but with a demon, they will twist the agreement if there are any loopholes, so you need a rock solid contract.

    In the Spell of the Black Dagger, one of the gods refused to help Sarai’s father, because he had broken his word. Breaking a deal with a demon would probably be more directly and immediately deadly.

  2. I don’t think so; there were theurgists doing stuff in Night of Madness and The Vondish Ambassador. It’s the biggest and most public action by a goddess since the end of the Great War, but not the most screen time.

  3. I’m sorry…

    on the other hand;
    “Aldagon is, in fact, only the fourth-oldest dragon in the World; it’s just the three older ones have never been seen or mentioned.”


  4. Yes, really. Aldagon is fourth of the seven Great Dragons.

    At least one of her elders will turn up in Dumery of the Dragon, if I ever get around to writing it.

    Generally speaking, the Great Dragons tend to stay out of sight. You don’t get that old by making trouble.

  5. It’s not that I didn’t believe you; I don’t remember if that tidbit’s in The Blood of a Dragon, but I certainly didn’t remember that or the concept of the seven Great Dragons and its something of a jolt to realize she’s not just old she’s that old.

  6. I don’t think it’s in The Blood of a Dragon, but the list of the seven Great Dragons — well, I just found the original hand-written list while straightening my office, and it dates back to the late 1970s, so this isn’t exactly a recent addition.

    It just hadn’t come up in the stories.

  7. To fill the time between serial chapters, I’ve re-read Night of Madness, The Unwilling Warlord, and The Vondish Ambassador. A couple of things from The Unwilling Warlord seem to want some explanation:

    1. In Night of Madness it’s made clear that the Wizard’s Guild doesn’t allow heads of state or other high-ranking officials to practice any form of magic, or any kind of magician to hold high office. But when Vond makes himself emperor, no one (as far as I noticed) objected to it on those grounds; when Sterren and the two low-power wizards were talking about whether the Wizard’s Guild might or might not eventually intervene, none of them suggested that it would be likely to do so on those grounds, only on general principles because Vond was growing more powerful than any previous warlock. Is this because the concept of magical and political power being mutually exclusive was something you hadn’t yet decided on when you wrote The Unwilling Warlord, or because the low-ranking wizards involved don’t know of that rule, or for some other reason?

    2. Since the gods don’t perceive warlocks as human, I wonder why that didn’t affect the god of genealogy’s ability to identify Sterren as the late warlord’s heir. Maybe the question was phrased so that being human was irrelevant, being kin to the late warlord was the only thing the questioner was interested in, so he would have been found by the god of genealogy even if both his parents had been transformed into dragons and he’d been born (or hatched) as one…?

  8. 1. I had decided that the Wizards’ Guild didn’t allow magical and political power to co-exist, but I hadn’t yet decided how well-known that was, and I knew it wasn’t going to be an issue in the story, so yeah, I decided those wizards didn’t know about the rule.

    2. Not only did no one specify that the heir had to be human, but Sterren was such a lousy warlock that his status was ambiguous from the gods’ point of view.

  9. Hooray for theurgists! I always knew they were cooler than their appearances thus far in the series. Good on Piskor, providing three days of food and water for thousands of people is no joke, as miracles go.

    Very interesting to learn about the Great Dragons. Is there a list of the oldest wizards around? I would imagine they would be similarly withdrawn, and unlikely to show up in stories. (Other than Fendel, whom we’ve met via his desire for isolation during the war).

    Here’s hoping it’s Aldagon and not a younger, more irrational dragon.

  10. I don’t think it’s actually too surprising that the wizards who were willing to go with Sterren didn’t know about the rule (or didn’t feel it was in their place to discuss it). Didn’t one of them not even know any guildmasters?

  11. At least they didn’t summon the God in Red by mistake…although he might have been at least as helpful. What time of year is it again?

  12. semi-random wiki-related questions;

    1) There’s a Great Northern Desert where the Northern Empire used to be. There’s a Great Eastern Desert where half of Old Ethshar used to be. On the map, there’s an area marked “wilderland” in between… so these are separate deserts?

    2) Demons… there’s a description of rampaging demons from Taking Flight and a shapeshifting demon from The Spell of the Black Dagger. Do either have names?
    (ironically, there are 2 names for demons, from With a Single Spell, neither of which came with a description beyond sinking a ship with all hands.)

  13. They’re separate deserts.

    I’d have to look it up to say whether those demons have names; I don’t remember off the top of my head. In fact, I don’t remember… oh, wait. I think I do remember the shape-shifter in The Spell of the Black Dagger.

    Okay, the demon in Taking Flight was Ansu the Destroyer, also known as Ansu of the Many Bodies — yes, that was all one demon.

    And in The Spell of the Black Dagger, I think it must have been Fabai the Deceiver. I’m looking at the catalog of demons, not the notes for the novel, so I’m not 100% certain.

    As for what time of year it is, I think it’s the middle of Newfrost, which is equivalent to early November. Might be a bit later.

  14. Small bit of confusion regarding Hanner’s view of the refuge. In the latest chapter, you have the following:

    He had not left her wealthy; so much of his money had gone toward that ridiculous tapestry and its useless refuge that Mavi would have been far from rich after his departure.

    But in the opening chapter, the one which describes Hanner’s experiences with the refuge, it is not at all clear that the experience would have left Hanner with the opinion that the refuge was “useless.” Quite the opposite, I would have thought.

    The refuge fit the bill perfectly, it was only Hanner’s total lack of preparation for the return of the Calling that left him unable to return and tell others about it. So why does Hanner now suddenly view the refuge as useless? Unfortunate in how things transpired, maybe, but useless?

  15. I assume that Hanner thinks of the refuge as useless because, currently, it is — he’d hoped to make a place where warlocks would be safe from the Calling, and the Calling is gone. He spent his life savings having it made, and it didn’t save anyone, nor is it of any use now. (Well, presumably it’s a place where you can’t access the Lumeth source, either — so it might turn out to be of *some* use later on.)

  16. Actually, that’s a good point on the refuge. He knew it worked, so, he probably should have asked Sensella if the council attempted to send someone else. However, they had other issues at that particular time.

    He might also not have much memory of actually being called. He hit the tapestry to return and then woke up in the mound.

    Also, from his perspective, it was useless. He spent money on it, and ended up being Called anyway.

    The refuge could have had some kind of economy, so maybe he might have been able to make some money to support his family. It probably wouldn’t have been worth it as an investment though.

    Was “Warlock House” technically Hanner’s, did he inherit any property when Lord Farran died? I guess the cost of a tapestry could bankrupt a “minor” lord.

  17. As Joe says (now that I’ve approved him — welcome!), the refuge is useless now, isn’t it?

    The legal status of Warlock House is unclear, but yes, he did inherit property when Uncle Faran died.

  18. The refuge could be reused as a prison for Vond, but I can’t blame Hanner for not thinking that far ahead at the moment.

    Anyhow, what about the just ended situation was it that made it so hard for the gods to explain it to humans? “A distressed traveller from very far away calling for help” isn’t all that complicated.

  19. The tapestry is useless from Hanner’s perspective as a refuge for warlocks, but it seems as though it ought to be pretty valuable as a piece of magical real estate. Hang it in the small back room of a small shop in a high-rent district of a city, or in whatever’s Ethshar’s equivalent of a studio apartment is, and you’ve got a vast country estate for the price of a small shop or apartment. It might not be worth what Hanner paid for it, but it would be worth as much as a large house in an expensive neighborhood — enough for his family to live on for a while, if it was inherited by them instead of the Council, which it apparently wasn’t. Or maybe it was just stashed in a back room by them because Mavi didn’t understand how general-purpose it could be and didn’t see it as potentially useful, either. But now that Hanner’s back, he can demand it back, sell it, and live off the proceeds with his family (if Mavi hasn’t remarried) for years… or use it as a prison for Vond, if Vond doesn’t get killed outright, or conquer the world.

  20. One issue is that the tapestry for the refuge is actually 2 tapestries. You need to own the place where it returns. From chapter 1, that is the attic of the Council House.

    In fact, I wonder if his exit from the attic has broken the return link, since they wouldn’t be able to match it exactly. It depends on where the hole in the roof is, and of it can be replaced to look exactly the same.

    In principle, if there actually were inhabitants of the refuge, they could suddenly start appearing in the attic.

    However, even if you didn’t own the Council House, it would represent the halving of the cost of making your own refuge.

    On the whole manufacturing mechanism, presumably only wizards who happen to be artistic can make them? Does the wizardry sense tell them if they are drawing part of the scene incorrectly.

  21. I’m also curious just what the gods can do.

    Maybe, it is possible to convince a god (or maybe even a demon) to move you from place to place, but probably not 1000 people.

    If it is or is not true it tells us a good deal about the gods.

  22. It seems that gods have powers linked to specific areas. There might be a god of travel.

    In fact, on second thoughts, it is probably the case that if there is a god who will move 1 person from place to place, the god would be able to move 1000 people and maybe willing in an emergency.

    It is unclear if the distinction is due to ability or due to preference. Maybe all gods have equal power, but some prefer certain areas over others.

    It was said in the Unwilling Warlord that specific gods react to specific prayers. However, you can ask 1 god to contact another god. That could be the way new prayers are obtained. Alternatively, maybe expert priests are able to figure them out somehow, or a god might contact one priest in order to start things off.

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