Date: 06/03/20 12:19 pm Title: Chapter One: The Best Two Weeks of My Life
Binged it from start to finish in one sitting, I don't regret anything.
I'm really sad that it's over, but I loved it ! It's one of these stories that really get to me, I don't know how to describe it, but I'm not going to forget it anytime soon. I'll just say a big thank you instead :)
I'll definitely take a look at your other works.
Author's Response: Wow! I'm glad you liked it so much! It's really gratifying to know that people enjoy and connect with my stories. I put a lot of time and effort into them, and it's very rewarding to see that it pays off. I'm currently working on two projects, after which I'll start work on the sequel to this, titled, The Orphan's Order.
Date: 05/31/20 09:02 pm Title: Chapter Twenty-One: Like Family
This will be my last comment. I will not comment again for a few weeks.
When I read "On My Best Behavior", I couldn't help but remember a book named "Earthsea" (1968). This was one of the best books about a world magic. This fictional world, It had a resemblance to the world of your story. For this reason I wanted to give you a summary of this world, to know your opinion:
Earthsea is a fantastic world full of magicians, dragons and warriors. In this world there are 2 large territories: the Kargo kingdom and the archipelago territory inhabited by many kingdoms, but in ancient times the archipelago used to be a single kingdom. Magicians only exist in the archipelago, because the Kargos reject magic and worship the gods (they have various religions), but in the archipelago they do not believe in the existence of gods.
Roke Island: this island is the magic academy, it also contains a town with a port where ordinary people live; It also has a magical forest named as "the mysterious forest" that seems infinite from the inside and imprisons evil people, erasing their memories over time. The island is protected by various spells, including a magical storm (named "witch wind") that drives dangerous ships away.
The Roke Academy acts as a mediator in the conflicts of the kingdoms of the archipelago. Its best graduates are hired by kings and nobles; Other students are assigned to take care of towns that don't have a wizard or sorcerer. The academy is administered by 9 “master magicians” (with different specialties (illusion, transformation, invocation, wind or weather, and others)) and an arch-magician who is the director. In the academy magic is divided into minor arts (considered harmless) and major arts (considered dangerous; because they change the natural)
Sorcerers: Students who master the "minor arts" (illusion, healing, seeking, and others) in the academy are named sorcerers. And they can start studying the "major arts" (transformation, wind magic, invocation and others) (when you transform into an animal and lose your memory you will be trapped in that way)
Magicians: students who master the "major arts" are subjected to a test, which consists of finding a staff or cane in the "mysterious forest" but they are prohibited from damaging the trees to achieve it, the forest must be given to them. Those who pass the test are named "magicians".
Witches: The first arch-magician expelled women from the magic academy. Since then witches learn magic from their mothers or other witches or some sorcerer shoeing you. Witches are discriminated against, but they also ask them for help, when there is no sorcerer or wizard nearby. Very few men dare to marry witches. So they grant offspring with unknown men, who did not reveal their identity or by outsiders. Witches also practice lesbian marriage also named "witch marriage"
The true name: in the archipelago, all 13-year-old boys and girls must receive their “true name”; the true name is revealed in a ceremony by the magician of the community, in a private ceremony (if there is no magician available, the ceremony will be officiated by a sorcerer; if not available, a witch will be in charge); people are helpless to spells that use their "true name"; the "true name" is a secret not to be shared; therefore only the owner of the name and the magician who performed the ceremony know the true name. In this ritual to reveal the “true name”, the magical potential of boys and girls can also be revealed; but in some boys and girls they reveal their magical potential at a young age (8 years old) before the ritual for the “real name”. In the books of “Earthsea” the existence of a very unusual girl was mentioned: the first was the daughter of a declining Lord, her mother was of unknown origin, and her mom died at birth. The daughter always argued with her father, because her father was stripped of his land by royal decree, so he became a very bitter man. When the girl turned 13, a sorcerer performed the ritual to reveal the "real name", however the ritual was interrupted before discovering her "true name", because the sorcerer was terrified during the ritual, later a witch performed the ritual , but the witch also interrupted the ritual before discovering the "true name", because she was terrified of the girl's incredible magical potential. Years later, a wandering sorcerer offers to take the girl to Roke's Academy of Magic, disguised as a boy. In the academy she is received by 3 "master magicians" who want to annul the prohibition that prevents having female students, but the "summoning teacher" finds out and decides to confront her accompanied by his supporters. When the summoning master tries to expel her, the girl kills the summoning master and escapes transformed into a dragon. Years later a similar case occurred with an orphan girl.
Change the "true name": only the arch-magician Gavilan, can change the true name of other people; once an event annulled the magical powers of many wizards and witches (this event was caused by a wizard who opened a portal to the world of the dead, to achieve immortality); a witch lost her magic and went mad so it was necessary to change her real name, erasing the memory of the witch. On another occasion a boy showed tremendous power, murdered several students and also the "summoning teacher" and fled the school, since then I wander around different places causing catastrophes everywhere; finally he was confronted by the arch-magician Gavilán; the boy begged to take away his powers, because he could not control them, Gavilan renamed him erasing his powers and his memory.
In ancient times, spectral beings named "the nameless" were enclosed within rocks, some of these rocks are found in a place called "Atuan". In that place a girl was dancing. This girl would become the first priestess of the "nameless" (who would be worshiped as gods), the Kargos tribes would deliver their offerings to the priestess, leave their conflicts and unify into a single kingdom. They would build a temple in "Atuan" dedicated to "the nameless", the priestess will always reincarnate as a girl identical to her and is immune to disease. Near the temple magic is weakened by is the domain of "the nameless". Centuries later a new religion would emerge in the Kargo kingdom with a new "high priest" who would become the king's adviser. The archipelago king (who is also a magician) would visit King Kargo to sign a peace treaty. But the adviser would convince King Kargo to betray and kill his opponent. It takes him inside the temple of "the nameless" where the magician king loses his powers and remains in a catatonic state. The ring of the union (the most powerful talisman in the archipelago) is broken into pieces. However, the adviser priest betrays King Kargo, corrals him and proclaims himself the "god king", with his own temple and his own priestess. The magician king would be rescued by the daughter of the deceased king, but would discover that his kingdom was divided into several small conflicting kingdoms. And the cult of "the nameless" would weaken in each generation, until the birth of Tenar (the last priestess).
The archipelago would be in conflict and divided. Wizards would begin to die out for the following reason: Ambitious wizards would begin to kill or enslave children with magical potential. Good magicians, they would seek disciples but they would only find greedy and unworthy apprentices. Years later a child would escape from a wizard acecino. Find refuge on Roke Island, protected by a storm invoked by 8 witches who live in a small town on the island. The boy convinces the witches to found a magic school, the boy magician would search for all the children with magic potential and all the magic books that are scattered. The magic school brings peace to the archipelago, acting as mediators in conflicts
Tenar and the magician Sparrowhawk, restore the fragments of the ring of the union. Without the priestess the temple of the nameless collapses. Later the archipelago kingdom is unified under a new king (descendant of the magician king). King Kargo (a descendant of the god king) is overthrown by a brave man who is later crowned new king. The new king of the archipelago and the new king kargo seal a peace agreement with 2 marriage
Someone who can speak to dragons is named lord of dragons.
Author's Response: Wow, that's a lot! I read several of the Earthsea books some years ago and, while they didn't directly influence this story, I'm sure some of its sensibilities influenced me when I was devising the magical system. Generally speaking, I come up with a few basic rules for any magic or fantasy system at the outset and then add and refine as I go along. I can only hope to be as creative as Ursula LeGuin in her storytelling and world building.
Date: 05/27/20 05:07 am Title: Chapter Twenty-One: Like Family
I do not think it is right to ignore Katherine, she is the mother (she is also a victim, influenced by Rowan Bryce), they should give her a chance but also teach humility and respect to other people.
Now Elizabeth Bryce is not a slave but she is a prisoner. However, if someone seizes their property legally (there are many ways to take away the property of inmates. For example, deviation or evasion of the prosecutor, guarantor by a relative, a civil lawsuit, expropriation by the government and many others) Elizabeth will be a slave again. Perhaps Elizabeth Bryce can exchange her bondage with Katherine, by mutual agreement in exchange for Elizabeth's estate (Elizabeth would be happy to be free and Katherine would be glad to be rich again but locked in a golden cage (perhaps she will regret later)) It seems to me the best solution for both, each one will get what they want.
You saw the series "Little Witch Academia" I detect some references in your story. But perhaps they are a coincidence.
Author's Response: Katherine Bryce is not as guilty as her husband, to be sure, and it's possible that all she's really guilty of is moral cowardice. Now she's being forced back into the regular world to fend for herself - but, with her talent for magic, I imagine she'll be okay. Really, what will determine whether she gets a second chance, is whether she earnestly attempts to make amends with her daughter and seek forgiveness from her sister-in-law. Elizabeth would, indeed, be in hot water if someone was to seize her estate - though it would have to be through a *magical* contract. Unlike some other magical universes, legal contracts don't necessarily have any bearing on magical matters here. So if somebody else seized the property via US law, then Elizabeth would have just as much power over herself and her property as ever, magically-speaking. Hopefully, she'll be completely free of any compulsions eventually, but that hasn't happened yet as of the end of CoM. I'm not directly influenced by Little Witch Academia - I've heard of it, but I've only seen snippets. But I imagine I share some of the same influences as the creators and that probably reflects in the references and themes. Thanks for reading!
Date: 05/24/20 05:13 am Title: Chapter Twenty-One: Like Family
This story was very good.
Sorry for giving my comment so late. But I haven't had time. However I have followed your story chapter by chapter. I was thinking of talking about different topics and theories about the different events in your history. However as the story has already ended, I will make my comments as short as possible. And I will try to talk only about the last chapters.
Elizabeth Bryce is tied to her current residence, so Elizabeth Bryce remains a prisoner. Being a slave must have been a major torture, after recovering her lost memories.
Reforming the other schools will be difficult. You've thought about what would happen if Nataly decides to reveal the existence of magic to the general public. Governments would begin to regulate the use of magic to prevent its abuse. The courts would begin to implement the use of magic users to prevent tampering with the verdicts. There would also be politicians and wealthy millionaires who would seek to take advantage of this new resource.
You have thought about techno-magic is a mixture of magic and technology that opens up great potential
I will send another comment soon:
Author's Response: Thanks for the feedback! In my notes and ideas, I've already decided to include some of the things you've mentioned in the next story, though getting feedback and more ideas is always good, since I'm still in the early stages and probably won't start writing for around 2 months. Basically, in the world of the next book, most people still won't be aware of magic, but it displays and reports of magic will be increasingly common, and many hedge witches and warlocks (who outnumber classically-trained witches and warlocks by about a 10:1 ratio) will now have access to magical technology, but may not have the discipline to use it discreetly or responsibly. Elizabeth Bryce is now a prisoner of her estate in some sense, but she owns the place now, which means she's compelled to act in her own best interests. This means that she's *mostly* a free woman, but has some circumstances where she finds it hard to do what she wants (e.g. when she thinks something is a bad idea but wants to do it anyway). As always, thanks for the input, and I await your next comment.
Date: 05/20/20 11:52 pm Title: Chapter One: The Best Two Weeks of My Life
It has been years since I’ve read a story I’ve enjoyed as much as this. Thank you so much for your hard work. I am literally unemployed right now, but the minute that cash flows in, I will be contributing to your patreon. In the mean time, if you publish this series, I will very much be buying copies.
To author: don’t sell yourself short, you are a really good author, and I know of at least 3 best-sellers who have written fiction here, top shelf, and fictionmania.
*Lily or her mom might have history with the fae, and a whole new school of potential hijinx? Maybe a little more foreshadowing? Haycinth seems like a ripe character to explore if you ever decide to tinker with this world again “wink wink, nudge nudge”
Your response about a story needing to not be just a series of events, I’m actually having trouble with that now. I have a project where I can see most of the main story beats in my head, like a music less montage of images comprising a story spanning several years, and it is so daunting that I’m down to making a plot line and then doing a Harmon-Wheel for each character and then using that to tell me what nuance needs to organically go where.
Did writing feel this convoluted when you started, or do you have any advice for a literary coward?
Thanks again for the amazing story.
Author's Response: Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed my story and it's extremely gratifying to know I've written a story that people connect with. I'm sorry to hear about your job situation - I'll personally be out of a job at the end of the month, but I may have something lined up already (fingers crossed). My MO is to make about half of what I write (including all of the Natalie Bryce series) free in perpetuity and to try to make a little $$ off the other half. I've got some ideas kicking around for the sequel to CoM with this byline: Natalie Bryce has a lot going on - she's inherited an ancient mansion full of dark secrets, she's a founding member of a brand-new school for witchcraft, and she's an active member in a steamy love tetrad. But when she finds a stowaway in her new home on the run from diabolical forces, Natalie is forced to pile on to her already-crowded plate and battle an enemy she didn't even know she had. Find out what happens in The Orphan's Order (working title). As for what to do about a story that doesn't really flow... keep writing. I know that pretty much every writer says it, but it's true. For me, the trick when dealing with writer's block is to stick the story on the backburner for a few weeks, shift to something that I'm really enthused to work on (or maybe a short, easy project), and then switch back to the story giving me issues. More often than not, the blockage will take care of itself. And if it doesn't? It's time for an interlude. Introduce a random side-story to your plot and see if that shakes things loose. My current project (A Princess of Alfheim) has a random two-chapter murder mystery near the middle, and they may be the two best chapters I've ever written. I was at an impasse and struggling to proceed and thought, "screw it - murder mystery time!" Sure enough, it shook things loose, introduced some new and interesting characters, and told a moving (I hope), self-contained story of sibling bonding. In brief: come up with ways to trick yourself into writing stuff that's fun for you to write.
Date: 05/20/20 03:55 pm Title: Chapter Thirteen: Festival Redux
Natalie might not have picked up on what the gangly dude was talking about, but I smell forshadowing!
Another amazing chapter. I’m gonna be honest with you I am getting upset I’m almost done with this book, I was hoping this would tide me over till Butcher’s book drops in July.
Author's Response: I do love me some foreshadowing! In fact, in the last few chapters, if you go back and re-read the first chapter, there's a fair amount of foreshadowing in there. I'm a fan of Jim Butcher's books, too, though I'm well behind on the Dresden Files. I'm too busy trying to hone my own story-writing to read as much as I used to. As always, thanks for reading!
Date: 05/20/20 12:07 am Title: Chapter Seven: Legend of the Quartopus
> And Sauvage and I did not see eye to eye on… well, anything, really. Her favorite color was gray, her favorite mood was dour, and her favorite former student was not me.
It’s little things like this that make your writing so special. There is so much personality in Nat’s narrative voice that it really makes this story, and these characters, a delight to read.
Author's Response: Thanks for noticing! I know that people don't necessarily come to TGS for literary masterworks (and I doubt I'm capable of masterworks). But I think any story worth telling is worth telling well. I like adding little snippets and tidbits that reflect the narrator - and these make the story feel more organic, like it's coming from somewhere meaningful rather than being a series of things that happen to some characters.
Date: 05/19/20 11:55 pm Title: Chapter Six: The Exile
OMG I am loving this. There is no way I’m going to be able to pace myself, and it’s all your fault. The steamies were steamed, the plot advanced and character development grew, and by god Natalie’s gonna be teaching impressionable tweens to tell the patriarchy to shove it.
Author's Response: I'm glad you're finding the story enjoyable! Yeah, Natalie's 'Miss Bryce' now. And she's going to have a role in shaping the next generation of witches, so the world better get ready.
Date: 05/18/20 05:41 am Title: Chapter Twenty-One: Like Family
Really great story. First I went and re-read the prequel, then I read this story. It's basically the only thing I've done this weekend.
Author's Response: Glad I could keep you captivated. Thanks for reading!
Date: 05/18/20 02:08 am Title: Chapter Twenty-One: Like Family
Now that the sequel is complete, I just wanna add... Wow! Just... Wow. Fabulous story, creative and perfectly told. Thank you for entertaining us!
I didn't foresee Mistress Starlight being invoked to save the day, but as soon as it happened, I thought, "well yeah, duh, of course!" -- It appears that in your world, god(s) mostly let stuff go along without interfering. Which makes sense.
Author's Response: Thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed my story, and it's always a pleasure to put something creative out into the world and see it enjoyed. I tried to lay the framework for Mistress Starlight much earlier in the story so it wouldn't come as a complete deus ex machina. If I did my job well enough, it was the logical culmination of several plot threads coming together rather than an instant get-out-of-jail-free goddess card. Not only do the gods in this world mostly let stuff proceed without interference, they're barely aware of the things that happen on an individual level. They're aware of it when people invoke them or call to them, but they're not omniscient or omnipotent (just very scient and potent), so they only get directly involved when their attention is brought to big problems and otherwise let their followers (e.g. the witches of the coven) take care of daily business for them.
Date: 05/15/20 10:00 pm Title: Chapter Twenty-One: Like Family
Dang. Well, I went back and read the first one first, because I hate reading sequels without the backstory. This is just hands-down fantastic writing, and I hope you're happy that you completely upset my work and sleep schedule for a couple of days while I finished it.
Just plain solid work. Well done.
Author's Response: Well... I'm not happy that I disrupted your work and sleep, but I'm happy that you found the story engaging enough to keep reading. Thanks for the plaudits and keep an eye out for my other stuff. I plan on releasing chapters of a new story starting in the next few weeks.
Date: 05/14/20 03:31 am Title: Chapter One: The Best Two Weeks of My Life
Great story, I will miss it.
Waiting for your next one with baited breath.
Author's Response: I'll post one of my other stories here (I'm not sure which yet) and will probably have a sequel coming out sometime July-August-ish (it takes a while to write novel-length stories).
Date: 05/14/20 02:59 am Title: Chapter Twenty-One: Like Family
Chapter 21 - Truly phenomenal. You are a True Artist. Thank you for sharing your art with us.
Author's Response: Thank you so much, and thanks for all of your feedback throughout the story. I've got a sequel in mind, but it's going to be at least a few months. In the meanwhile, keep an eye out for new stories before too long!
Date: 05/12/20 05:39 am Title: Chapter Twenty: Deus ex Magika
I’m always a sucker for reunions, so I’ve been hoping that we would get to see Natalie neé Martin reuniting with her True Family. Although, if she brings the whole gang along introductions might drag on for a while.
Natalie: Mom and Dad, this is: Cassie, my girlfriend, Simone, my Witch Sister, Amanda, technically my step-sister, Lily, my Witch Mother, etc. etc.
Mom and Dad: Wut.
This is how I’m visualizing Natalie returning home to be.
Disclaimer: This is actually fanart of the USS Johnston from the Japanese game Kantai Collection. However, Johnston has usually been my go to for visualizing Natalie. I think she works pretty well if you imagine her being a little shorter and bustier, as well as with coppery hair and green eyes.
Author's Response: That's not too terribly far off from how I imagine Natalie looking, though her reunion's going to be a lot different - the folks are coming to her place (well... Liam's place). Thanks for reading!
Date: 05/11/20 10:59 pm Title: Chapter One: The Best Two Weeks of My Life
Reply to the reply... really wish TGST updated their code.
IMO, losing control and fighting to regain it, makes for great storytelling, as it's all about gaining self-empowerment. At the same time, I hate stories that take this away, make us empathic to the character, but never allow them to retake control. ie a story that updates often and is nearly on to of recent every day does just that. The author implied I was too weak to enjoy their story, but no, these two books were just as terrible to the MC at first as their story is to their protagonists, only Nat took back control of her life and made those who harmed her ay very dearly for their abuse. Meanwhile, after 20 pages of good buildup, the reveal that it was a sex slave ring in the other story happened, and then the author basically gives us a 5-page essay why it's so clever and how awesome it was to break the MC into being a sex slave. I want to slap that author for that. But then I guess they are getting off on the empowered abuse they have over their characters. Forgetting that the readers here are mostly Transgender women, who live their lives being abused way too often as it is, we need stories that empower and retake control. This is why I will sing your praises. You might hit the depraved bottoms, but then you bring us back up, with minor setbacks and massive rushes. b25; d84; d83; d85;
So yah this story and the last deserve much praise.
Author's Response: I feel ya, and thanks for the feedback! Personally, many of my short stories are dark and with less-than-happy endings, but I just don't have it in me to give a long-form (over ~10,000 words) story anything but a happy ending. I always end up writing characters who I want to root for and, honestly, I don't have much fun writing page after page of character who I'm not rooting for. So for anything longer than a one-shot short, I always have some redemptive or retributive arc in mind for the main character and, even if s***** things happen, I just don't have it in me to make things turn out bleak and doom and gloom for the protagonists. Thanks so much for reading - one more chapter to come!
Date: 05/11/20 10:26 pm Title: Chapter Twenty: Deus ex Magika
I feel this isn't quite the end, but OMG that was a satisfying end of the main drama of 2 books. Kind of sad Val wants to be a man again, but then if is Identity is male no changing that not really, well magic did for Nat, but that was extreme, and against her will kind of stuff, and she now owns her femininity and destiny.
((Side note, normally I don't read stories with the same types of tags as these books, as self-determination is important to me, but you wrote this well, which is why I love this story.))
Author's Response: We've got one more chapter to go - hopefully, it will tie everything with a nice, neat bow. While I have more plans for these characters, it will end the main story arc of these two books. We'll see Val/Vince in the next chapter and learn what happens between her and Fabiana. Natalie's transformation was much more forceful and over time, which caused enough permanent change that she was no longer comfortable being Martin again. One of the things I like to do in developing this sort of story is to put the main character in a situation where their self-determination is taken through them, either through malice or by sheer bad luck, and their arc of character development entails reclaiming control. That's definitely the case for Natalie, who's gone from being a servant and virtual prisoner at a school for witchcraft to one of the great witches of her era.
Date: 05/04/20 02:47 am Title: Chapter Nineteen: The Battle of St. Circe's
"And with that pronouncement, Mistress Starlight unleashed holy hell upon the Gangling Men."
Excellent. I get to end my weekend with an unleashing of Holy Hell on a bunch of turdflops who truly deserve it. Well done.
Author's Response: Turdflops - I like that! Yes, I'd say they deserve whatever awful things are about to befall them. And... who knows? Maybe one or two other baddies richly deserving of punishment will also get their arses handed to them! I'm glad you liked it!
Date: 05/03/20 09:13 pm Title: Chapter Nineteen: The Battle of St. Circe's
Holy starlight! Someone's going to be very sorry for crossing against Natalie and her goddess...
Author's Response: It's definitely not a smart move to f*** with a goddess. The Gangling Men have a lot of power and spooky mojo, but I doubt they can resist the power of a full-on goddess and her stable of badass witches.
Date: 05/01/20 06:53 am Title: Chapter Eighteen: The Bryce Legacy
May I just say that whenever Natalie is fighting Gangling Men, my thoughts immediately turn into WH40K Space Marines yelling “BURN IN HOLY FIRE!”, “PURGE THEM IN FLAME!”, etc. After this chapter one more that’s going to be be added is “YOUR INFESTATION SPREADS NO FURTHER ALIEN!”
Examples of some voice lines: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4uiajvZ0WnQ
I now can’t help but imagine folks from every other major coven and magic group portaling in Endgame style. I just desperately hope no primary characters die in the coming chapters.
After CoM, do you have anymore plans for this setting?
Author's Response: :D I have to admit, I did not have WH40K in mind when I was writing this. The Gangling Men were a bit inspired by some of HP Lovecraft's creepy extradimensional stuff. But they could just as easily be the minions of some strange chaos god. Will any major characters get killed? We'll have to wait and see - hopefully, everybody ends up a-ok! I'll probably start work on a sequel to this sometime this summer. It will involve Natalie helping to build the new school, taking on an unexpected apprentice, and discovering a disturbing, ancient secret about her new sanctuary.
Date: 04/27/20 08:15 am Title: Chapter Seventeen: Prisoner Exchange
I just figured out what error was made by the creepy bad guys, "boy oh boy", "son" they just F's up :p . I can't wait for the next chapter.
Author's Response: Yup, the Gangling Men done goofed. Let's see how things play out for them! I'm sure Natalie will be measured and reasonable in her response. Oh wait - she doesn't really do measured and reasonable.
Date: 04/27/20 06:40 am Title: Chapter Seventeen: Prisoner Exchange
Natalie: Thank you for inviting me, the girl who breaks everything, into the literal heart, mind, and soul of your collective conscious! I’ll be sure to be careful when I’m burning it all down. I wouldn’t want to harm any innocent witches and warlocks.
If I may hazard a guess, I’d say Natalie is about to rules lawyer the shit out of the Gangling Men. For instance, their contract might not explicitly state which Bryce they stuck up there, so if Nat just so happens to have a substitute on hand, she could have signed the blood pact in this theoretical Bryce’s stead.
I do have one question that’s stuck with me for a while: Do Natalie (and Val) still have the Silver Tongue innate ability, even though that talent was part of their former true self?
I eagerly look forward to how Natalie slinks her way out of this. Although, I do hope that there isn’t a large time jump in between her being trapped and her being freed. Is there going to be a big time jump?
Author's Response: You're not too terribly far off - the exact gambit will be revealed soon. Do Natalie and Val still have their Silver Tongue ability? Well... it doesn't work as well against witches and summoned abominations as it does against regular folks. But let's face it: Natalie *does* convince people of her crazy magic schemes an unreasonable amount of the time. I'd say Silver-Tongued is still in play. And no, assuming she gets out (I mean, I don't wanna spoiler it but, yeah, obviously she's got to get out), there will not be a big time jump.
Date: 04/24/20 10:29 pm Title: Chapter Sixteen: Fabiana
I guess hurry can make you forget a thing or two.
And I now learned that Hebrew isn't only the language, but also a term used for certain peoples. Had to look that up. Great chapter, I absolutely loved it.
And... does the Bryce bastard have something to do with the appearance of the gnarly men in the first place...?
Author's Response: I'm glad you loved the chapter! And the Bryce b******(s) do have something to do with the initial appearance with the Gangling Men, which will be revealed fairly shortly.
Date: 04/22/20 04:16 am Title: Chapter Fifteen: Vile Worm
Byron earned his worminess. You'll need a big jar for him. Toss in a few apple peels and scraps every once in a while...
Author's Response: He sure did earn it. I don't feel bad for him at all - maybe, if Amanda decides to, Byron will get turned back one day. But I wouldn't bet on that happening anytime soon, and giant earthworms can live for like 20 years.
Date: 04/21/20 09:29 pm Title: Chapter Fifteen: Vile Worm
Excellent, You sure do know how to write. Can't wait for next installment.
Author's Response: I write enough that it would be pretty silly for me to keep writing if I was crap at it. I'm glad you like it! I'm currently putting together some ideas for a sequel, though it probably won't get started until mid-late summer.
Date: 04/20/20 11:13 pm Title: Chapter Fifteen: Vile Worm
Natalie: *kneeling over transformed Byron* “Remember what you said when you first met me? ‘Beware the fury of the tiny redhead.’ Well you never saw to your house, so now I’m doing it for you.”
Is there a way to speak to Gangling Men who have been dispelled if you have the central piece? Cause I have some funny images of Natalie interrogating these two by moving a lighter closer and closer or threatening to throw the cloth into a shredder.
Author's Response: Yup. Byron Bryce done f***** up when he crossed Natalie, and he'll have a long time to ponder it (assuming he can really ponder anything at the moment). I think to speak to a dispelled Gangling Man, you'd have to use the symbol rag in a summoning ritual to open some sort of channel to their home dimension. Then you could berate them while threatening to destroy the rag, which they need for easy access back to our world (well, this fictional world).
Date: 04/18/20 02:11 am Title: Chapter Fourteen: Stolen Away
Question: Since I believe that the magical contract between the Gangling Men and the school specifically mentions they may take students, could the school expel Cassie in absentia or graduate her early, thereby nullifying the contract (since it mentions “students”, and she would no longer be a student)? Regardless, I am sure that the Gangling Men will be seriously regretting their life choices within a couple of chapters.
Author's Response: Good question. My understanding (of the rules that I made up) is that, once somebody is taken by the Gangling Men, the contract between the girl and the school is transferred and, therefore, the school does not have the contractual grounds to nullify it. However, up until that transfer, the school can discharge the contract, provided all of the signatories are present to do so. Otherwise, the school would accrue a magical penalty with the contract co-signers (the girl and/or her parents, depending on the situation) but could technically break the contract. In other words, once Cassie is taken, it doesn't matter what the school does because they no longer hold Cassie's contract.
Date: 04/16/20 10:11 am Title: Chapter Fourteen: Stolen Away
Natalie: Simone, get the Quartocompass!
For the sake of the Gangling Men, I hope there is no way to convert unbridled rage into magic power. Because they are quickly pushing Natalie to the point where she’ll find out.
Author's Response: I suspect that the Gangling Men done goofed when they crossed Natalia Cadence Storm. They were already on her bad side, but now they're deep, deep, deep on the s*** list.
Date: 04/16/20 08:59 am Title: Chapter Fourteen: Stolen Away
Oh crap! The gangling men sure are petty
Author's Response: They're miserable, joyless things from a strange and colorless dimension. I suppose the only time they feel anything like happiness is when they're taking joy from somebody else.
Date: 04/15/20 04:29 am Title: Chapter Seven: Legend of the Quartopus
Brilliant chapter. However...
I hope she didn't brick the server that did the work. Because the ability to brick the Internet with her use of computational power is there.
Also I suspect Nat and Simone special programming and math talents are how they will eventually defeat the Pale Dudes.
Author's Response: Yeah, she bricked the server. Whatever computers are directly involved with magical computation are susceptible to getting bricked, at least with the laws of magic I'm using here. That's why Ambrose Nicht's expertise is pretty exceptional - his life's work is about merging magic and technology in a non-destructive way. Natalie figures out a few workarounds, but Nicht knows far more.
Date: 04/14/20 06:40 am Title: Chapter Thirteen: Festival Redux
MOW! NO! you can't end a chapter with a foreboding sentence like that! This is reader cruelty!
Author's Response: I uploaded this chapter a day late, so you need only wait until Wednesday to see it resolved! It's definitely a tried and true (but cruel) author's trick to keep people reading along.
Date: 04/10/20 05:30 am Title: Chapter Twelve: Virtues of Preparedness
For some reason, the Gangling Men remind me of both the Men of Leng from H.P Lovecraft’s “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, and the Dark Folk from Pathfinder’s Golarion setting. Definitely very creepy, and the fact that this one mentioned hosts makes me suspect that they are somehow either parasitoid in nature, or else have some means of possessing human hosts.
Author's Response: The Gangling Men, and a few other parts of the mythology in this world, were slightly inspired by Lovecraft, though not super explicitly. I don't know much about Pathfinder, though I hear good things. Yeah, the ganglers are definitely creepy dudes.
Date: 04/09/20 05:47 am Title: Chapter Twelve: Virtues of Preparedness
The concept of Gangling Men needing hosts of some sort bodes well for the long term survival of those they’ve taken. And hurray for Amber for getting more class time.
Speaking of Natalie and her classes, how much is she getting paid? I imagine even a junior faculty position is fairly lucrative when the school is bringing in around 200 million a year.
I eagerly look forward to learning more of this settings lore.
Author's Response: Yeah, I've been dropping hints a bit at a time as to how they work - it'll become clear before too long. They're definitely creepy b*******. I never mention how much Natalie gets paid, but, as a starting teacher, it's less than the senior faculty, but as a witch, it's probably pretty decent. Low six figures probably.
Date: 04/02/20 09:17 pm Title: Chapter Ten: Prelude to a Liaison
Just fantastic! One of the best stories I have read. You must be really bored with the movies as you could write professional.
Author's Response: Thanks for the high praise! I try my best, and I actually have a few irons in the fire re: writing professionally. For now, I'm merely a quasi-pro. I hope you'll keep reading!
Date: 04/02/20 04:28 am Title: Chapter Ten: Prelude to a Liaison
I was hoping we'd get to see the Gangling Men scan Valerie... drat!
I doubt Natalie was the first person to come up with that tongue trick, but it still deserves a medal :P
As for my last review, I did forget the $1.1M price tag... but still worth! After all, Valerie's magic made her that money in the first place, learning more is a good investment for sure.
Author's Response: I imagine there are lots of witches and warlocks who dabble in erotomancy. It's a very fertile field to be plumbed, if you'll pardon the pun. And yes, $1.1 million is a pretty sweet deal if you gain supernatural powers out of it. Though those supernatural powers don't do you much good if you get taken by the Gangling Men, so it's a fine balance to manage. Let's hope she manages it! Thanks for reading!
Date: 03/31/20 03:46 am Title: Chapter Nine: Partner, Pawn & Pupil
I'm kind of surprised that Natalie considers enrolment at St Circe's to be a punishment, but hopefully her cousin fits in!
Hopefully they don't wind up in a relationship with Natalie's sister :P
Author's Response: I don't think she sees enrollment as a punishment, per se, so much as forcing Vince to go through what she went through and paying $1.1 million for the honor. As for Vince's relationships... he's still pining for Fabiana, but maybe that will change?
Date: 03/31/20 12:35 am Title: Chapter Seven: Legend of the Quartopus
I loved the nerdy bits, but took issue with this part:
"That late at night, and with that much brainpower churning for that long, I slept like the dead."
... How could you possibly sleep!? XD
I've had simulations running with morning results before, it's worse than the night before Christmas, I tell you.
Author's Response: Honestly, I partly based it off of my own experiences, though not entirely. I've had renders or data crunching over night before, and I always watch them like a hawk for like the first hour, watching the numbers tick up, trying to think of anything I might be looking at that would indicate success or failures. And then, since it's usually at the end of a 20-hour day, I end up crashing... and usually, when I wake up in the morning, it's still not done yet. Or sometimes it's finished and something's screwed up and I'm back to troubleshooting.
Date: 03/31/20 12:34 am Title: Chapter Six: The Exile
I'm enjoying the story a lot! Especially the plot point about Natalie now being a teacher, somehow that role really solidifies her accomplishments and makes everything far more real.
Author's Response: I'm glad you like it - I wanted to bring the school back into the plot but didn't want to make Natalie a student (it would seem too contrived and a big step backward), so I decided for that instead. Thanks for reading!
Date: 03/29/20 01:29 pm Title: Chapter Nine: Partner, Pawn & Pupil
That was a pretty dramatic ritual, very impressive. Wouldn't it be interesting if Vincette was the "chosen one"?
Author's Response: That would be *very* interesting. I even considered doing that, but I think it would have taken a lot more story to accomplish successfully. Ultimately, I didn't go with that, though I do have a few twists of the prophecy here and there, and plenty of foreshadowing that might only make sense in retrospect.
Date: 03/29/20 10:53 am Title: Chapter Nine: Partner, Pawn & Pupil
I really liked this chapter. Vince, who was until now kind of a throwaway character, was this time shown as a really complex and conflicted person, someone who can realize is doing something that is not correct but can not find a way to make it right.
I feel like this story's strength, like the original, is in the feelings and tributalions of these people living in this crazy kind of world. Well, that and all of the technical/systematic portion of how this universe works. Already feeling like re reading to try to make sense of it!
Author's Response: I'm glad you like it - I originally considered turning Vince into a straight-up villain but decided this would be more fun. Much more to come!
Date: 03/29/20 07:24 am Title: Chapter Nine: Partner, Pawn & Pupil
I wonder if the rule of three will be invoked somehow with Vince's transformation. Fabiana seemed to be pushing him towards cleaning his karmic slate with three times the good deeds than bad, maybe to protect him from what was potentially coming.
I have to wonder if this transformation will be influenced by that because it mirrors what happened to his cousin Natalie who he agreed to help sell out I think three times over (possible involved in giving the gangling men and Bryces power to adopt her via his blood connection, helped smooth over her disappearance the first time making her parents forget and the third time assisting in her imprisonment in her former form and memories sealed away.
Will the transformation mirror what was done to Natalie age wise, will it be impervious to being undone for three times as long as the time from Natalie when Natalie was changed to when she escaped the Bryces, or will "Victoria" have to do three times as much good as the evil see she for the gangling men before she can turn back.
Also interesting in seeing if Fabiana might involve herself, perhaps learning of his disappearance and tracing her paper.
Author's Response: In this world, the 'rule of three' is only a general guideline rather than a hard-and-fast rule of magic. Basically if you reneg on a magical contract, then double your investment is turned back on you, which can do more than twice as much magic. It will definitely be difficult to get Vince back... if he even wants to to back... but if it's a straightforward transformation, it shouldn't be too much harder than the first way. Not unless a contract or trust is somehow being violated. And something tells me we'll be seeing more of Fabiana before too long.
Date: 03/29/20 06:50 am Title: Chapter Nine: Partner, Pawn & Pupil
Natalie: “It’ll be like a very advanced witness protection program.”
Dr. Sauvage: “This is getting out of hand. Now, there are two of them.”
Author's Response: Dr. Sauvage definitely doesn't have a soft spot for the Bryce/Warners.
Date: 03/27/20 04:36 am Title: Chapter Eight: Kovacs, Garcia & Warner
Hopefully counteracting the symbol on their head is a permanent kill. Also, I hope Natalie keeps Heirophant’s hat. It’ll be the next fashion craze and tradition amongst all the Gangling Man huntresses. Take the hat of the first one you kill, decorate it with a rag from each subsequent Gangling victim.
Author's Response: It will turn out that there's a very specific way to do a permanent kill and, unfortunately, Natalie doesn't know it... yet. I like your idea for the next big witch fashion craze! Hopefully, it catches on - we'll see!
Date: 03/26/20 11:07 pm Title: Chapter Eight: Kovacs, Garcia & Warner
"Nobody followed me." Heh, I love the way you toss clever little witticisms into your writing. And great action scene at the end of the chapter. Clearly the forbidden symbols were forbidden because they posed a threat.
Author's Response: I'm glad you like the writing! Yes, the symbols that are off limits were made so quite deliberately. However, the Gangling Men did not anticipate the technology of the 21st Century. More action scenes to come!
Date: 03/25/20 02:44 pm Title: Chapter Eight: Kovacs, Garcia & Warner
Very cool chapter thanks! (and of course we know they were idiots for not including Lily and she's going to be really pissed when she finds out.)
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked it! And we'll find out what happens with Lily, Vince, et al. soon enough - let's just say that Natalie has an idea or two about how to proceed.
Date: 03/23/20 08:03 am Title: Chapter Seven: Legend of the Quartopus
I’m trying to think of how one could take out a Gangling Man.
Maybe they are like Taken; They’re not bound by terrestrial constraints, but they can be constrained by terrestrial bullets.
Author's Response: At least some... perhaps *many*... get taken out later in the story. How? We'll find out! Thanks for reading!
Date: 03/23/20 01:38 am Title: Chapter Three: The Capture of Natalie Bryce
Ohh... Yay! Here comes the sequel! But I deferred even starting it a while, now you're up to 7 chapters and I've only savored 3 so far. Great job of introducing plot twists while bringing us all back up to speed with the past. Excellent! I'm glad you have more storytelling set in this world.
Author's Response: I'm glad you like what I've got so far! This one is 21 chapters, all complete, and I just have to get them formatted and posted. I'll continue posting chapters every Wednesday and Sunday.
Date: 03/22/20 03:46 pm Title: Chapter Seven: Legend of the Quartopus
Chapter 7- Loved the nerdy bits. I really like the fact that you are taking your time to build an internally-logical magic system. Neat thing about doing that is that you can then use it again and again, because it's intellectual property that can be re-used in other stories.
Author's Response: Thanks for the feedback! You're definitely right about magical systems (or other internal story-specific mechanics). I used some aspects of this magical system (though not all) for Curses! (the ebook is free on Amazon for the next few days) if you want to read more magical hijinks by me. Thanks for reading!
Date: 03/18/20 05:09 pm Title: Chapter Five: Alma Mater
Geez, so much for toning her down...
This might sound like complaining a lot, but its really hard to root for her when she's like this. She even got the full chad tour at school, she sounds like an asshole tbh (or perhaps, the dreaded MS-word archetype...). The conversation with Cassie also sound really bad to me as well.. I mean most of it is just couples stuff, but the 'I should have invited you' bit... well, for her to just say it like that, felt really wrong. You just dont invite someone you dont like, and at that time she just didnt.
Also I guess I wanted to complain about Lucian being wrought as the designated villain yer again but it seems you might have something planned for him. We will see!
Author's Response: I suppose when Natalie got the 'full chad' tour at school, my meaning here was to show that she'd grown past the school, at least as a student. Imagine any great witch or warlock in her place, and they also might strut around St. Circe's like a HWIC, probably more so than Natalie did. This also feeds into the idea of toning Natalie down. She's not a world-breaker ultimate balance-destroying witch, but she *is* phenomenally talented (she and Simone both) and, yes, this makes her more badass than any of the students at St. Circe's... but she's not a student anymore. She's a powerful but highly inexperienced witch suddenly immersed in some really high-caliber stuff that's, frankly, way over her pay grade. She can't just waltz through it like a MS if she wants to get out of this alive. As for the bit with relationship-mending with Cassie, perhaps I should revisit that. My intention there was to point out that, if you love somebody, you have to be especially considerate of them during their most trying times, even if doing so is inconvenient for you. Realistically, Cassie should have thought about how Natalie might feel and put off her raucous lovemaking with Liam and Magnus until a later time when Natalie couldn't hear them and be heartbroken over it. Cassie was trying to cope in her own way, and she felt like s*** when she realized that she'd made Natalie feel like s***. That's what I was trying to get across, but maybe I didn't do a great job of it. As always, thanks for the feedback!
Date: 03/12/20 12:15 am Title: Chapter Four: Oh, The Irony!
"Then I was immersed in darkness and oblivion." Well that was pretty cliff-hangery.
Author's Response: Sorry, I can't help it. I have cliff hangritis. It's a serious medical condition where I compulsively write cliff hangers. :/
Date: 03/10/20 10:22 pm Title: Chapter One: The Best Two Weeks of My Life
Hey again! Just wanted to say, its pretty cool what you did with Natalie being transformed back - I though she had gotten too good at the end of the last story (and maybe a little full of herself?), so I like to see her toned back a bit, maybe to rediscover herself. Wish he would have maybe recovered her memory bits by bits? Would have been interesting to see her adapt.
Author's Response: Thanks for the input! You know, it would have been interesting to have her recover her memory a bit at a time - I've already established that it can happen in dribs or drabs, or else quite quickly. So I could have done it over time. Ultimately, that's not what I did, but it would make for an interesting narrative. I hope you'll keep reading!
Date: 03/10/20 02:35 am Title: Chapter Three: The Capture of Natalie Bryce
Ch. 3 - Future badassery, it tingles at her fingertips. I can feel it...
Author's Response: Oh yes, there's much badassery to come. Look for it at the end of Chapter 4 on Wednesday, and then continuing as things slowly escalate. Thanks for reading!
Date: 03/05/20 11:13 pm Title: Chapter Two: Those Darn Kids
U sure are posting fast here! Excellent storyline I can’t wait for the 13 &14 on Sunday.
Author's Response: After Chapter 3 on Sunday, I'll be posting 2 chapters a week here on Wednesdays and Sundays right after I make my regular Patreon posts.
Date: 03/05/20 03:54 am Title: Chapter One: The Best Two Weeks of My Life
Oh wow what the heck happened between stories...
Author's Response: That'll be revealed in Chapter 3, which I'll post on Sunday! My plan is to post Chapter 2 tomorrow, and then a chapter on Sundays and Wednesdays after that.