The Final Calling: Progress Report Nine

Chapter Eight is now on the web.

I’m paid up through Chapter Sixteen.

I’ve written to the beginning of Chapter Sixteen.

I’ll be away this weekend, at NASFiC in Raleigh, so I won’t be replying to comments or acknowledging donations, but I should be back online by Monday afternoon and will catch up in time to get Chapter Nine posted on Wednesday, August 11.

I think that’s it. Am I forgetting anything?

33 thoughts on “The Final Calling: Progress Report Nine

  1. Sterren sure knows how to lie BIG. Just for the principle’s sake, though, I hope it will backfire. Wonder if all other warlocks will believe it?

  2. Vond is so bad at dealing with people I think a LOT of the warlocks he brought with him will flee before it even occurs to him that he should talk to them and make them comfortable with him. After all when dealing with ‘lessors’ his pattern is to intimidate or use force, not reason or charm.

  3. … so, I guess Sterren decided not to go the “maybe 100 warlocks together can defeat Vond” route.

    Allen, I agree with you. Also, Vond only took the warlocks along to have people to talk with; once he finds out that there are lots of people he can speak Ethsharitic with, the warlocks will be even less important to him. After all, they don’t know what’s happening in the world (some probably were called before him), and they certainly don’t know anything about his empire.

  4. Just a suggestion here. On your second draft you may want to take advantage of the conference among the councellors to explain the ending of chapter 7, where Sterren states that he is a warlock tuned to the towers. People who have read the Unwilling Warlord will know what you’re talking about, but new readers probably won’t understand why if Sterren is a warlock he’s not using any powers. Perhaps you could work into the conference a brief discussion of what the councellors were doing before Vond came along where Sterren could say, or at least think about, his gambling days and how he used his power?

  5. So interesting that Sterren is still in the same pattern as before, minimizing potential damage.

    He also seems to have ignored (or decided to ignore) the fact that there’s no longer a reason for him to avoid using his powers.

    Interesting that a spy network ‘sneakernet’ is still the fastest way to get word around. Nobody has magical long-distance communication? Was that sorcerous cellphone Lord Faran gave Ithinia a one-off?

  6. It’s looking increasingly like I was wrong on the Empire being a sideshow in this book and the main action being with Hanner and his group.

    And it looks like Sterren may be the main character. But I’m not sure it’s plausible for him to SURVIVE this book, much less solve any of his problems.

    Sterren is hardly keeping his activities a secret. All but telling the entire council to conspire against Vond, sending word to everyone he can, trying to get warlocks to run off. I just can’t see Vond and all his supporters missing that (and it’s clear enough that he does have suporters). And surely after the events in The Unwilling Warlord (aka Last Week as far as Vond is concerned) surely Vond won’t unconditionally trust Sterren.

  7. I’m sure there’s magic for faster communication (Spell of Invaded Dreams if nothing else), its just expensive to buy (especially out at the edge of the world), and how often does Sterren really need that? I’m a little surprised that Sterren didn’t send for Annara (the wizard he hired that stayed behind), and I’d be absolutely stunned to find out that if she hadn’t moved on that the guild didn’t give her some sort of faster communication (akin to what they gave Morkai in Lumeth).

    He did not tell the council to conspire, in fact he very specifically told them to not conspire… instead take individual action if they felt it was necessary (because the empire, read that; council, must survive).

    I’m betting that Vond is the reason that the Wizards’ Guild gets involved at all. Some wizards might feel bad about a few thousand refugees in Aldagmor but the Guild would simply find it unfortunate. Vond being back, however, makes that group a potential resource.

  8. Ahh, I expect that once Vond realizes that the ex-warlocks can feel the buzzing and might attune at random, he won’t be any more interested than Sterran was at having them around. Especially if the local source has a finite amount of power.

    I suspect that will come to his attention in one way or another.

    Nicely done.

  9. Justin, I would say that not wanting to piss off the Wizard’s Guild off is a perfectly good reason to continue not using his powers. Sterren isn’t dumb. He may be playing both sides, but that’s taking a risk, not acting impulsively. He was contacted DIRECTLY by the Guild about warlockry being off-limits in Vond, and was given a specific exemption. Only an idiot, a nut, or someone as powerful as Vond would even CONSIDER challenging the Guild.

  10. Ryan, also note that Lar Samber’s son may very well have quite potent and quick ways to contact the Wizard’s Guild and others. Sterren is good at this: his discussion with Lar is, like his discussion with the council, a wonderful case of plausible deniability. All Sterren *says* is that some people ought to know about the situation, and “leave as soon as you can”. Of course, the sub-text is “Tell everyone as quickly as possible that we’re not all automatically on Vond’s side and we don’t want to get smeared as collateral damage”.

    If Vond is willing to listen, Sterren could justify all of his actions in this chapter as being for Vond and the empire’s good. Of course, he’s really more interested in the empire’s good than Vond’s good, but he wouldn’t play up that part, if pressed.

  11. golly if vond has half a brain he will atune all the warlock’s loyal to him before the Wizard’s Guild shows up to clean house

  12. By the way, I’m packed and will be leaving in the morning. I don’t know what internet capabilities, or how much time, I’ll have during my trip to Raleigh, so don’t expect me to say anything again until Monday.

  13. Also, once they are attuned, they could be similar in power to Vond very quickly. Warlocks gain power by using it, so all one of them would need to do would be to try to lift a mountain for a while (or even just progressively larger boulders until they can lift a mountain.

    When Vond was talking to Sterren, he realised that it might be a bad idea. Sterren could easily say that he assumed that Vond had regretted his decision to bring them.

    I wonder if the towers have a max power output and so a warlock that is fully attuned to the towers reaches an upper limit in their power.

  14. Come to think of it, what does happen to headaches? I mean, warlock draw power from them, so they still hear the buzz, and it gets louder as they use power. Of course, it does not call them anywhere, but isn’ having a constant buzz in your head.. distracting?

  15. I thought it was reasonably clear in The Unwilling Warlord that once you tune in to the Lumeth source, the headaches stop — your brain’s readjusted so the power isn’t noise or discomfort any more.

  16. Well if I were him I’d hire a witch to detect lies and perform a vetting process
    Hey I can make you a warlock again. Wizard’s Guild is coming and I want your help to stop them. Will you accept me as your leader and help fight the Guild?
    But Vond might not think of that or be scared the Warlock’s might surpass him.

  17. That leads to infinite regress. How can you tell the witch is honest? Presumably, witches don’t scan other witches. (though, priests can also check for truth telling)

    Ofc, he can always say to the witch that if it turns out that the person was lying, then the witch dies.

    However, the only reason Vond is powerful is his magic. If he upgrades the warlocks, they don’t need him at all. Sterren is powerful even though he has little warlockry power.

    Even if they do stay loyal to Vond, in order to defeat the guild, they have little reason to stay loyal, after they have won. Vond was able to raise mountains (or at least bend the edge of the world), 100 people who can do that, fighting to be the most powerful would do a lot of damage.

  18. If I were Vond, a witch is one of the few things I’d be afraid of. Direct magical confrontation? he’s all over it. Wizardry? weak against him and he can work against it directly. Someone that can screw with his head? er, no thanks. Who’s to say he can trust the witch any more than the warlocks he already has?

  19. its trading a potential fight for a definite one. Vond knows he can’t take the Guild on his own. It is speculative whether the warlocks would really want to be ruler. Many of them problay would want to live there lives. Some people are born to be want to lead. Some want to open up a shop and do what they were doing before called. Its the same reason any of the associations don’t have constant duels and assassination attempts.

    Off topic why is the sisterhood of witches more powerful than the brotherhood
    if a witches power is based on his/her physical strength wouldn’t the brotherhood tend to be the stronger witches. Is the sisterhood just better organized. Also why does mental strenght not play into their power. It never made sense to me that a 20 year old inexperienced witch would be able to move a bigger rock than the 60 year old master. I always thought about it like Yoda vs a new jedi. The experienced witch seems like they could use their mental energies more efficently and have more of it because they built up their mental muscles. Is it one of those things were it is what it is because that is the rules to the fictional universe. Also shouldn’t most witches be body builders constantly trying to build up their muscles? Maybe I read it wrong.

  20. Alan, while *we* know (or think) Vond can’t take the Guild on his own, I don’t think that Vond thinks that. He seemed pretty unconcerned about the Wizard’s guild in chapter 6. And I actually think he’s got good reason to think he’s got a good chance. After all, *he’s* never seen the Seething death. The closest he’s probably ever worked with wizards was during Sterren’s war, and he probably didn’t realize just how low-level those wizards were.

    As far as why he brought the ex-warlocks, I think that he wasn’t being deceptive in ch 6 when he said he mainly wanted people to talk to. And, when Sterren brought up the idea *they* might attune themselves to Lumeth, I think that he honestly hadn’t considered that and wasn’t pleased.

    Given the way that Vond acted last time he was in power, I think that using the power of other magicians isn’t even going to occur to him.

    On the subject of magicians, though: in Chapter 6 Sterren asks for the council to meet, “And see what magicians are in the castle – I want to see whoever’s available in the throne room immediately!”

    Presumably there wasn’t anyone available and that’s just omitted because it would slow down the story. I probably wouldn’t even notice this if I were reading this all at once.

  21. My guess (and that’s all this is) is that witches are at their most powerful when they aren’t trying to do physically strenuous stuff. Subtlety is the witches watchword and greatest strength. That explains both why the Sisterhood is stronger than the Brotherhood (traditionally its more of a female approach to finesse rather than force, thus the magic tends to be appealing to more females than males) and why most skilled witches don’t feel a need to be bodybuilders (the physical manipulations are a secondary skill for them, to be used selectively and with great care).
    Honestly, the Warlocks are more like Jedi when it comes to telekinesis; they channel an outside energy (the force) and their skill determines how well they can do so. If yoda was strictly limited to his internal power he would have been pretty hard up; look at how he walks under his own power.
    It’s only when he taps into the energy around him that he can fly.
    Witches get the mind-tricks, which warlocks don’t though, but what do you do?

  22. Plus Alan’s confusing energy with work. Witches convert the potential energy within their bodies into kinetic energy without using their muscles. So it’s more important to a witch to be well fed and well rested than it is to be well endowed with muscles.

  23. sure but that does not mean the later is not very important as well
    e.g. the witch in the unwilling warlor strangled people from afar
    that would be much easier if the witch could dead lift 415

  24. I still think someone is going to start creating Lumeth warlocks, they are just too useful to have around as a school of magic to discard completely. So long as they don’t get too close to the towers the Wizards shouldn’t care much one way or the other, and if a Lumeth warlock is living in any of the Hegemony they are far enough away.

  25. The problem is that the only people who can “create” Lumith warlocks are in the forbidden area and not interested. For warlocks to spontaneously attune they have to be within the forbidden zone. Being in the forbidden zone creates conflict with the Guild unless the Guild is willing to renegotiate the banishment (and the Guild never backs down). Once someone is attuned to Lumith it becomes less important for them to care about the niceties of what mere mortals want (ie; them leaving the Lumith area) and only slightly greater consideration regarding what wizards may think they can do…

    Here’s a question; wizardry has difficulty effecting warlocks, presumably the more powerful the warlock the more difficulty it has… is there a point where the warlock get’s Tabaea-level resistance to wizardry?

  26. Don’t know about resistance.. But there are other problems. !. Warlock age much slower than normal people, since they can adjust their bodies to erse aging effects. Maybe a warlock strong enough will actually be immortal, to a degree. 2. No matter the ditance, the warlock will become stronger with time, so in the end the distance to towers will not matter, and you will get hundreds overpowered near-immortals loose in the world. 3. As long as there are warlocks, there will always be rogue warlocks. One (Vond) is bad enough, so I don’t think guild will approve of making more.. of trust the Warlock guild to regulate them without power limitation.

  27. Satsuoni: Actually, from what I recall in _Night of Madness_ (and _Spell of the Black Dagger_, one Warlock can neutralize the powers of another to a certain extent, and many warlocks can act together to do this. So hypothetically, if there were enough “good” warlocks who were powerful enough, they could act together and stop Vond. The problems are: (a) Vond is extremely powerful, (b) nobody knows what the impact of so many powerful warlocks using the Lumeth source will be, and, of course, (c) you end up with lots of powerful warlocks and the problem of how to deal with *them*. So I agree with you, the Wizard’s guild will never approve of this approach.

    Tabaea is not a good precedent to use in terms of “wizardry-resistance”, since the black dagger itself was an _extremely_ potent anti-wizardry artifact.

  28. Regarding the Sisterhood being “more powerful” than the Brotherhood, I assumed that was more or less a matter of effective organization rather than anything magical or esoteric. The Sisterhood is well-run and organized; the Brotherhood is scattered and divided.

    It’s looking more and more like the danger of Lumeth-warlocks is going to be effectively neutralized in one way or another by the end of the book. A little too tidy for my taste, but I supposed uber-powerful unhindered warlocks can’t be left loose to run around the setting.

  29. The Sisterhood is more powerful as an organization because there are more female witches than male, and the females are much better organized. On a one-to-one basis, male witches generally are stronger, both physically and magically, but females are often subtler and better trained. This is a cultural thing — Ethshar isn’t as sexist as most historical cultures have been, but it does have definite ideas about what’s appropriate for each sex (all the overlords have been male), and witchcraft is seen as more suited to women.

    Warlockry is seen as more appropriate to men; the Night of Madness didn’t discriminate, but most warlocks who got there through apprenticeship were male. Not all, by any means — I’d guess it at maybe a 2/1 ratio.

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