The Final Calling/The Unwelcome Warlock: Progress Report Twenty-Nine

Chapter Twenty-Nine is now online.

There was a satisfying jump in donations right around Christmas, including a very generous one, so I’m pleased to report that the serial is paid for through Chapter Thirty-Two, and Chapter Thirty-Three is just a few dollars short. (I haven’t run the exact numbers yet, but I think it’s about $15.)

The writing has gotten complicated — I started skipping the even-numbered chapters, writing just an opening sentence or two of each before moving on to the next odd-numbered chapter. I’m now writing Chapter Thirty-Nine, and will go back and write Chapter Thirty-Six and Chapter Thirty-Eight later. I’m not sure where Chapter Forty will go in the production queue.

The novel, unless something very unexpected happens, will run forty chapters in all.

Happy New Year!

32 thoughts on “The Final Calling/The Unwelcome Warlock: Progress Report Twenty-Nine

  1. Thank You! Happy New Year,by the way šŸ™‚
    As the book progresses, I am starting to root for Vond more and more. He certainly isn’t stupid, using safeguards such as these. Safely, too – doesn’t seem to have killed anyone while lifting the castle. And he has shown formidable restraint when dealing with a witch, too, at least IMO. Although he still is megalomaniac. Wonder what is he talking to Ithinia about… Maybe next chapter will be from her viewpoint šŸ™‚
    Also IMO, there should be at least SOME people curious enough to look out of their windows after all that noise, and at least some of them will be considerate enough to wake the others… before they run screaming out of their homes in underwear. So I think the emptiness Hanner observed is just a calm before the storm…

  2. Wondering whether it’s a personal flaw that at this point I can’t decide who I want to ‘win’ in the coming confrontation.

    Both Vond and Ithinia are insanely powerful people who genuinely seem completely incapable of dealing with other people outside of the two modes of Polite-Discussion-With-Barely-Concealed-Condescension and Kill-For-Insolence.

    Maybe they need a grown-up like Fendel to come separate them? Like some commenters on the last chapter, I’ve also been waiting for Ithinia to remember that while Hanner was the reasonable one, he ended the last crisis by offering a ready-made peace in one hand, and forced conversion to warlockery, and endless magical guerrilla warfare in the other. Warlocks can’t be bullied effectively, she’s really causing problems by running off political instincts honed on cowing apprentices and non-magicians.

    Really gripping tale, as always, super excited to see the next chapter.

  3. Well, using the palace as a weapon was unexpected (and AWESOME!), but aside from that this was an entirely predictable outcome of over aggression and arrogance. Hoping the next chapter is from the point of view of someone inside that discussion. I usually respect Ithinia, but here Iā€™m looking forward to seeing her taken down a peg.

  4. Clearly, Vond isn’t dumb. He’s not a genius, but he’s not dumb.

    His self-control may or may not be better post-Calling, but his chief failing is still his temper.

    I don’t think that I’m having much of a quandry as to who to root for between him and the Guild. The Guild is arrogant and sometimes reactionary, but it largely restricts itself to its own business. Guildmasters don’t wade through crowds on a regular basis using their magic to throw people around and so forth. They could, but they don’t. (Obviously, they’d use a sylph or a gargoyle rather than TK, but it would be the same thing.)

    Of course, who I really root for is Hanner. He just wants people to be safe.


  5. This reminds me of a discussion of anti-kryptonite measures for Superman: it was suggested that he could head into space and set up dinosaur-killer asteroids in lethal orbits as a dead-man switch to discourage government agencies from assassinating him.

    Unfortunately for Vond I don’t think he has any comparable methods available to him that would take longer than one sleep cycle to wreak havoc. Even IF Vond has learned how to keep a spell going while he sleeps (what WAS going on with the defense around his ursettor fwal, even while he was sleeping?) the wizards might be able to use the floating castle spell on the palace while he was sleeping before firing off a transformation spell.

    It’s also plausible that Vond’s over-the-top power has reached a point where even transformation spells, the warlock kryptonite, will be too disrupted to work.

  6. The Guild is not purely heroic, but it’s still no contest whether they or Vond are the more sympathetic side in this conflict. Vond is a multiple murderer who’s become way too powerful for anybody but the Guild to deal with him; they have to do something, and given the nature of the situation, most possible ways of de-powering him without killing him are fairly unlikely to work and about as likely to cause civilian casualties as trying to kill him.

    The floating castle spell is a good idea; depending on the casting time and other requirements, I wouldn’t be surprised if some wizard isn’t already preemptively starting to work on it just in case the negotiations with Vond break down. And I wouldn’t be surprised, either, if the fact that Vond is actively levitating the palace prevents the wizardly levitation spell from working right.

  7. Happy new year, a bit early!

    Yes, as the book goes on, the question of exactly what the difference between Vond and the Guild is becomes more and more relevant, doesn’t it? The primary difference seems to be that the Guild has been around long enough…and calling the shots long enough…that everyone just accepts their legitimacy.

    Of course, the Guild also has rules in place to keep its members more-or-less in line.

    I wonder if Leth is going to play a more significant role in this than it first appears? It certainly seems like a lot of space was devoted to her in the last two chapters for a casual bedwarmer–and simply being a professional wouldn’t be likely to keep her calm in the face of a Vond-sized meltdown.

    I wonder if Demerchan is taking a hand after all?

  8. Two other points just occurred to me:

    1. While holding up the castle, Vond is not getting more tired; in fact, he is getting more powerful by the moment.

    2. I wonder what–if anything–is happening at the edge of the World as more and more of the Towers energy is diverted in this way.


  9. What I wonder is whether the new source and the physical/magical things within Vond’s body are still ramping up power the way the Calling did. The mechanics of WHY warlocks got stronger over time still isn’t clear. Is it just that their ursettor fwal gets more attuned naturally or was the Calling also tuning them/it?

    If the latter, Vond should no longer be getting more powerful, yet he is at least somewhat. So the question then becomes, assuming we are talking about the power source doing the tuning, at what point might it stop, or will it?

    If the buzz from Lumeth and the Calling behave the same way, including the tuning, without the “come hither” aspect, then Vond has to go down before he starts becoming enough of a drain on the Lumeth source that he endangers the World. Not much of an argument there.

    If there is a limit, and Vond eventually stops getting more powerful/attuned, then a determination must be made as to whether Vond is already too powerful to be allowed to exist. That decision, if made, could have enormous fallout if the public ever learned of it. “Wait,” one might ask, “so is Fendel too powerful? Is Ithinia? Where IS the limit?”

    If the Guild makes it about his attitude instead of power, then I think that is the only scenario where Vond has a slim chance of surviving all of this. As many have said, Vond isn’t stupid. If he realizes his power has a limit (big assumption made earlier) he might be more willing to listen to reason.

    I am not confident this will end well for him, though.

  10. Is he getting more powerful? Building the palace in the Empire and turning up the edge of the world seem to be much larger in terms of overall energy use than merely floating a small castle. And the lack of mention of impact on the towers or magic of the world in that instance implies that there was sufficient power there.

    Again, it’s fun, like a rollercoaster, to now be sure about what direction this is going.

    I’m guessing that this is not the palace that Tabaea invaded and now has a magical hole in it, right? Not near my books to clarify that. It’d be interesting to see what would happen if the tried to lift THAT palace.

    That also lends itself to another solution to this problem: the nuclear solution. Bring in Tobas, zap the magic around Ithinia’s house, and then sent in the bully boys to execute Vond. Neat, clean, simple. Except you have to track yet ANOTHER sphere of lack of magic.

  11. Tabaea was in Ethshar of the Sands. This is Ethshar of the Spices. Still, it is not a small palace — was it this chapter where it’s mentioned that the south facade is 804 feet from end to end?

    That’s not small.

    (It’s 804′ x 288′, with the two north corners clipped so the north facade is only 612′, and the ends are 192′. Three levels of cellars, going down about 40′)

  12. I’m pretty sure Ellran’s Dissipation doesn’t have any effect on warlockry — wasn’t the palace in Ethshar of the Sands rebuilt by warlocks after the Seething Death took a bite out of it? Bearing in mind how wizardry can blur warlock senses, I’d expect warlocks’ magic to work better in a dead zone, if anything.

  13. Gordon A: No, Tobas would be the *last* person to call in now — it’s been established that the sphere is a “no wizardry” sphere, not a “no magic” sphere. If Tobas were to cast the no-wizardry spell, Ithinia would *really* be screwed. (Vond might be able to break the no-wizardry spell, but he probably wouldn’t, once he understood it made him more powerful.)

  14. I am still of the opinion that Vond is just picking up the static from the towers and nothing he does with it changes the output holding the poison mist at bay. What I was wondering about all day today is, what if Vond uses Warlockry to repair the damaged tower at Lumeth? Will the mists be pushed back a bit and that much more land and sea become inhabitable? Will the static be cut off because the three towers are all working as intended? On the other hand will the static get louder because the three towers are all working at full capacity?

  15. Speaking of anti-magic spells, if things turn sour and Vond needs a place to sleep and defend himself, he could fly off to Ethshar of the Sands (with hostages) and sleep in the magic dead zone (he could find out from some of the former warlocks, since the Sands government has been relying on non-wizard magicians in the dead zone) with a city full of hostages surrounding him. Unfortunately, the narrative problems with leaving Ethshar of the Spices would add too much work, so I assume he just won’t find out about it in time.

    Also, we still don’t have an account of whether demonology works well against warlocks (theurgy didn’t because the gods ignored those with the ursettor fwal, but it seems like demons could still kill warlocks). I would like to see some discussion of that, if not an actual attempt (demonology’s high-end capabilities remain obscure).

  16. Also speaking of anti-magic spells, depending on how Elran’s Disapation works, Vond (or Sterren, if he ever muscles up) might be able to help out the Guild by dispelling it.

    There are two models of the spell that come to mind: Larry Niven’s disk and the D&D Anti-Magic Shell.

    The disk spell (in the The Magic Goes Away) works by using up the local supply of mana, which powers magic in the world of that story, permanently rendering an area non-magical. In Eshthar terms, mana would be replaced by chaos.

    If the Disapation works by depleting the useable chaos in a radius, then it isn’t a continuing spell and couldn’t be dispelled. It’s the lack of a non-renewable resource.

    On the other hand, Anti-Magic Shell (in the D&D world) is an ongoing spell. It’s a sort of uber-spell that supresses other magic within its radius.

    Vond might be able to sense the structure of such a spell and disrupt it.

    LWE hasn’t given any clues as to which model the Disapation works on. It could, obviously, work in a third way that hasn’t occurred to me.

    But it is an example of how having around a least one powerful warlock (not necessarily Vond) could be very useful to the Guild.

    Just thought I’d throw that out there.


  17. The difference between Vond and the Guild is one of deliberation. Vond’s whims are instantly made reality. When a high-level wizard creates a very powerful spell, it represents a ton of planning and prep. In that time, said Wizard may decide they aren’t that upset or they can’t get the ingredients they need to create the spell. Also, they may not get the spell right; that happens quite often. Vond has none of those restrictions. That is what makes him so dangerous. I know that someone else has mentioned Superman. Think about how hard it is for him not to pancake people 24/7. Vond has that same problem. I honestly do not think of him as being a bad person, just someone who has no self-control. I honestly think that they are going to have to make one more Lumeth warlock to stop him or a few. I think that a few carefully monitored very powerful warlocks is what Ethshar is going to end up with, subject to Guild approval (prior to being trained). That’s assuming that the Guild isn’t able to off Vond. I realize that Ithinia has already decided that the World is fine w/o Warlockry.

  18. Well, on the “small castle” comment: everything is relative. A castle is “small” compared to turning up the edge of the world in big chucks.

    We are also seeing a lot of overlap between the magics here. Kirris couldn’t detect things in the other room because of Vond’s use of his magic. Vond could see the tower of flame and interact with it.

    Perhaps we might see Sterren again. It’s fun to read and discuss in serial fashion.

  19. Could Vond “hear” anything from other Sorcerous Taismans? Is it just the towers? If it is just the towers, it is hard to imagine that he is not interfering with their operation. If it is all talismans, then is he on the verge of rediscovering High Sorcery? It would be a much bigger deal if could make talismans. He seems to be able to “see” magic in its essence. If he translaets that into being able to recreate those patterns on his own, he could make things like transporting tapestries. It will be interesting to hear what he says when he looks at Hanner’s tapestry. Could he make a new one? Could he just recreate the effect and teleport himself anywhere he wishes? How about Ithinia’s gargoyles? Could he “see” their magical patterns? Would it be easier to make sorcerous talismans or wizardy enchanted objects?

  20. As far as deliberation goes, we only get to see low and middle rank wizards in action. High level wizards are likely to be a different story. Since to be a really powerful wizard you virtually need to be able to “read” a spell in progress and change it, they should have found all sorts of shortcuts after a thousand years of spell casting. I tend to think that the partcularities of Fendel’s spells are they are situation specific variations and only a handful of them are recorded. He would not need to have general purpose spells like lesser wizards as he would craft them to meet the present needs. Now obviously Fendel is a different case from other wizards as he is a humorous homage, but the logic holds to the rest of the top level wizards.

  21. Another thoguht. If the “Buzz” is from the broken tower, could someone ask the Gods to fix it? Would that solve the problem? OK, the story is definetly not going in that direction, but is an interesting idea. I lean towards the story concluding with Vond being forced into the tapestry and a witch “curing” his warlockery in the other world. But Vond just getting killed is also still very possible. I just think having a powerless Vond on the run from people who would like to kill him for personal reasons makes for a much more interesting epilogue.

  22. Well, it doesn’t seem like the Gods sent the Answer, so we’re forced to wonder: who did? Where did the Aldagmor Source come from, and where did it go? Why did it come to Ethshar in the first place? Was it a complete accident, or did it have a job to do there before the crash?

    I suspect, though, that we’ll have to wait for another book (if ever) to find out the answers.

  23. I wonder, though: could Vond grow so powerful that the same monitors that picked up the Aldagmor call could also detect HIM?

    Here’s a really wild, totally out-there thought: what if they have, and they’ve sent someone to study him up close, disguised as a normal human?

    Say, Leth?

  24. I really like that idea. Say Vond gets powerful enough and starts hearing the “beings” all the time. Except this time he can understand them!Goes competely insane from it. For instance what if all they talk about is Justin Bieber. šŸ™‚

  25. As far as finding out about the source, remember that this is the first draft. You never know what the final version will have.

  26. I like the fact that, when Leth says that Warlock House might not be there tomorrow, and Hanner says that in that case she can get the money from his sister at the palace, neither of them has any inkling that the palace might not be there tomorrow.

  27. To Paul Fritsch,
    I don’t think Vond can actually create pattern of wizardry. He can sense them, as the “holes” in his sense of the world, if I am not mistaken, and suppress them, breaking the pattern that holds them together (in the same way his attunement naturally suppresees wizardry aimed at him), but not make them. Only sense and break. Also, it may be that breaking the spell pattern will lead to the spectacular spell failure, similar to the miscasting.
    As for the Vond interacting with “beings” – well, maybe if he starts broadcasting something coherent, rather than settling for the local changes. Then he will become like the source in Aldagmor then, powering other warlocks šŸ™‚
    Also, maybe the UFO thingie have heard the Lumeth towers and came to investigate the noise before falling šŸ˜‰

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