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26 April 2018 @ 09:25 am
_Marooned_ part 21  

But apparently she was a good excuse for Sam and Connor to ignore butchering, as Xen hoisted the bear with a levitation spell, and cut its throat.

“So, some of the original Exiles were Chinese?” Rael batted her eyelashes.

Connor tried to tighten up his muscles and look sexy.

Sam looked cynical. “According to the history books? Maybe forty. They said the Chinese didn’t approve of genetic engineering—of themselves. Boozy Jaejong, his descendants and their wives and children were first among them, of course.”

“Of course.” Rael suppress a giggle. “And I’ll bet they’re still running the whole world.”

Connor snorted. “Of course.”

Sam scowled. “We’re the only people with any . . . potential to gain eminence. We just have to impress the leadership with our brilliance.”

“Or not, and bring down everyone around.” Connor glanced at Xen as he walked by with a large bowl and large sack of something in his other hand. “I’ll never eat sausage again.”

Rael frowned. “I’m surprised at your low birthrate. I didn’t notice anyone starving. Is there a problem with inbreeding? Is that why the . . . recruiting of Lengmen?”

“We have a pretty high miscarriage rate. The oldest doctors say that it’s worse than the early years.” He shrugged, but looked uncomfortable.

“Hmm, well, no matter. Sam and Mike are recovered, more-or-less—with Sam it’s hard to tell the difference between normal and hungover—from Xen’s treatment. If you two want it . . .”

“We’re not Moshushi!” Jerry looked over from the butchering.

“It’s got general healing as well, better than the spells he’s been throwing at you.”

Xen walked back and gave her a thoughtful look.

She nudged him. “Go on. The poor lads are still pretty scared up and some of the charred spots are getting infected again.”

“Right.” He tapped Connor on the back of the hand then strolled over to Jerry. Who rather tentatively held out his hand for a tap.

“You ought to do flashing lights and stuff.” Jerry scowled. “I don’t believe in mofa. Oww!”

Sam lowered his hand. “Don’t ever let me hear you say that again.”

Connor staggered over. “Yeah! Whoa, I feel funny.”

Xen stepped away and met her gaze with a nod. “You were right. How very interesting.”

“How’s the sausage coming?”

“Well, I managed a small amount. I haven’t a clue what it’ll taste like with no salt or pepper. Then I gave it up as bad job and tossed the rest of the blood. Saved some casing for regular bear sausage, which won’t have any salt or pepper either.” He gazed up at the sky, opaque to her. His mind closed. “Well, well. I think I’d better help with the rest of the bear.”

Rael stiffened her back. I killed it. I can help butcher it.

She walked over to volunteer and Xen handed her a huge bone, shredded muscle hanging from it.

“Could you toss this to Hunter? I sort of want to keep him around.”

Jiol was lighting a fire in the smokers as she walked past. “I’d laugh at your expression, but I suspect mine was worse the first time I saw Xen butchering a poor little bunny rabbit.”

Rael giggled and hiked back up the hill. Hunter was still wary of her, standing up and getting ready to run. But he caught the tossed bone in mid-air and carried it off.

And slicing meat for the smoker wasn’t very icky, once it was off the bear.

Jiol was collecting all the fat into a big clay pot. “Soap. It’s harsh and nasty, but it’s so nice to be clean!”

“Soap . . . is fat?”

“And lye water. Xen says to let it sit for as long as possible and it’ll mellow a bit . . . but so far ‘long as possible’ has amounted to a few days.” Jiol looked suddenly worried. “I don’t like to think about more months of living here . . . or worse.”

“Yeah. This is almost fun . . . for a short while. Xen’s been here for over five months now. You’ve been here for three. And yes Inso and the kids are upset and worried, but we will get out of here. Either because Xen’s gotten over the shemofazing, or because Q finds us.”

Jiol straightened her shoulder. “Indeed. As long as Q’s out there, we’ll be rescued.”

Chapter Sixteen

Q stared up at the metal lattice reaching up above the concrete wall. “Well, Py, we’ve found them and their gate mechanism. But what I want is Xen. Shall we head for town?”

ekuah on April 26th, 2018 03:56 pm (UTC)
...Q should ask them which year they have. Helping her to decide what to do with unruly guards.

Wouldn't it be great if they could celebrate the year of the hare (or the sheep) in Xin Zhongguo like they never had before. ;-)
matapampamuphoff on April 26th, 2018 04:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Maybe...
"Year of the Snake? Too bad. I don't do snakes. The year of the goat or hare would have been perfect. Oh well." Q opened the mental box and rolled up a dozen copies of the Purple Bunny spell . . .
ekuah on April 26th, 2018 06:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Maybe...
Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is no year of the goat in the Chinese calendar. Only a year of the sheep. Which shouldn't be any problem. There is at least one wolf in a sheep's pelt running around the pastures near ash.

Edited at 2018-04-26 09:45 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2018 05:14 pm (UTC)
better than the spells he’s been throwing at you ... how very interesting
There is a subtle thread running through here that took me several re-readings to get. Probably the side actions and unattributed dialog made it difficult to fish out. I wonder what will become of it.

(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2018 05:37 pm (UTC)
Re: better than the spells he’s been throwing at you ... how very interesting
Do you mean bits like "Xen stepped away and met her gaze with a nod. 'You were right. How very interesting.'"?

I've got quite a few theories floating around in my head. 1. Jerry and Connor have a gene like the wizard/priest gene, and it does't give them much power because they lacked hormone repression, but they've actually been told they have no magic. 2. The Chous have done something to suppress magic in some that would otherwise have it. 3. Jerry and Connor have engineering to make them susceptible to the likes of Sam.

I await with great anticipation finding out what Pam has in store.

mbarkermbarker on April 27th, 2018 12:57 am (UTC)
Re: better than the spells he’s been throwing at you ... how very interesting
Oh, good. I was trying to decide whether I missed some sideplay between Rael and Xen that would explain this, or whether it was just a tasty hint tossed out there of something yet to be explained... So, waiting is.
matapampamuphoff on April 27th, 2018 03:43 pm (UTC)
Re: better than the spells he’s been throwing at you ... how very interesting
I'm going back in and dropping more hints, here and there.

Sam snorted and picked up a stick to poke the bear with.

“Sam, how many of your people are magic—I mean, Poobah and the guards, two of you four. Is that a representative sample?”

“Certainly not! Even though almost all of us have a bit of Chou in us—thirty generations, you know—the Thorne Blood is weak, not much magic, miserably low fertility.”

“Thorne? Like Jerry?”

“Descendants of AnnaKarina Thorne. Too inbred, and still lost the magic. Pity.”

A rattle of stones and everyone except Xen showed up to admire her kill, and muscle it up to the “village.”
(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2018 05:36 pm (UTC)
life on Wolf World
Too bad Xen does not know the ore-refining and metal-working spells of the Ash witches. That would provide kitchen utensils easy enough.

Xen does know stone-working spells (e.g. Rael's new house on One World), so with Xen at full power there should be no lack of housing.

What is Killerbite up to? Could he catch some small wildlife? Act as surveying equipment? Serve as a computer, diary, record-keeper?

As Mike's magic returns, does he regain the ability to fabricate things with the magic metal? Or does that require additional tools? Perhaps he could snip some magic metal off Killerbite.

(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2018 09:13 pm (UTC)
Re: life on Wolf World
Ah, but he does. Some of the flatware at the Fire Mountain Inn are his practice pieces. I think that that is in "Young Warriors", but it might be another book. In "Earth Gate" (I think) he mentions prospecting for and finding gold as a young man also.
(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2018 10:25 pm (UTC)
Re: life on Wolf World
Then there has to be a reason why Xen is not metal-working on Wolf World. Back in Chapter Fourteen, Xen "would kill for a keg of nails" as he was building their log cabin. Of course, that was before Rael came on the scene bearing joy juice assemblers. Maybe Xen just hasn't found any suitable ore.

matapampamuphoff on April 26th, 2018 10:22 pm (UTC)
Re: life on Wolf World
First, find the ore desired . . .
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 26th, 2018 10:52 pm (UTC)
Re: life on Wolf World
Extract aluminium from clay?

Find an acid bog and dig for bog iron?

Edited at 2018-04-26 10:54 pm (UTC)
matapampamuphoff on April 27th, 2018 12:28 am (UTC)
Re: life on Wolf World
If he thought he was actually stuck forever, he might have explored more. He spent his first month on basic survival and fighting infection on top of poisoning with a long term magic suppressant.

He spent another month getting back in reasonable physical shape, building a shelter, hunting, and ceramics.

Spotted the forest fire, and found Jiol. Took her home and nursed her back to health, and worked on building up the early signs on returning magic. And hunting and so forth.

The he saw Cali's drop off. Fetched her, then headed south to finally check out who's setting fires and found Karl and the city boys.

He did get a month off rescue work then, but he was hunting for eight people (and a wolf), building a cabin for them, a proper large smoker . . .

Then Rael, with PooBah and company.

Poor man hasn't had time to look for iron ore, and most likely would really like to find salt.

Edited at 2018-04-27 12:31 am (UTC)
(Anonymous) on April 27th, 2018 07:15 pm (UTC)
Re: life on Wolf World
Oh, yeah. The story has been good at showing Xen being run ragged. There is just so much stuff to do!

The obvious place to find salt is to evaporate sea water. Just have to throw corridors a few thousand miles east or west and you'll surely find an ocean. My survival guide also says that fresh blood is a decent source of dietary sodium chloride (for some strange evolutionary reason, its chemical composition is similar to sea water). Some plants, such as hickory roots, are somewhat salty. After that, you have to find mineral deposits.

matapampamuphoff on April 27th, 2018 08:15 pm (UTC)
Re: life on Wolf World
That's one of the reasons he's trying blood sausage.
(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2018 05:51 pm (UTC)
But what I want is Xen
If Q made a permanent gate to Xin Zhonggou, the next time Xen looks he will see it, and his obvious course of action would be to make a gate from Wolf World to Xin Zhonggou, step through it, and call for Q.

In fact, I'm kind of surprised that Xen has not already gone a few 100 miles away from the village and made a permanent gate from there to Xin Zhonggou. As a signpost to Q, if nothing else.

Joe Wojo Jrwojorider on April 26th, 2018 08:11 pm (UTC)
Re: But what I want is Xen
but couldnt a permanent gate there also be a sign for the bad guys that something has gone really wrong?
(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2018 08:40 pm (UTC)
Re: But what I want is Xen
Well, yes, but it's not at all clear how competent the bad guys are at scanning the in-between. It seems they somehow noticed the Last Merge and tracked Disco's permanent gates back to Embassy. Since Poobah's visit Q has been building a long chain of gates out to Xin Zhonggou. Did the bad guys anticipate this? Are they even watching for it? The motivations and actions of the bad guys remain pretty obscure.

matapampamuphoff on April 26th, 2018 10:37 pm (UTC)
Re: But what I want is Xen
Xen's just about recovered enough to make a gate.

Give him a week . . .
(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2018 11:16 pm (UTC)
Re: But what I want is Xen
The stages where Xen regained the ability to see and manipulate bubbles were effective in showing his progress in regaining that ability. We haven't seen Xen see any cones yet, but neither have we seen Xen noticing that he couldn't see any. Neither have we seen Xen try and fail to make a gate. So we don't have any way to judge his inability to make a gate except for the fact that he has not actually made one yet.

(Anonymous) on April 27th, 2018 05:54 pm (UTC)
Q and Pyrite? Pyrite and AK might recognize each other . . . Interesting choice for backup!

"You used to feed me apples at TransWorld, but now you hurt my Xen!"