Thrall 02

The next day I paid Tavrin a visit to start working out plans for Nethwillin’s new home. The dark elves had been amazingly helpful since they’d moved to my island, especially after I’d appointed their clan head as my new castellan. But while they were capable traders I’d recently discovered that they were basically a ninja clan as well, so I figured it would be smart to give them as many reasons as possible to be loyal. They’d spent a thousand years grappling with a serious infertility problem caused by Midgard’s low ambient mana levels, so I figured building them a refuge where that problem didn’t apply should be good for morale.

Tavrin showed me a light spell he wanted to use that produced a spectrum similar to Svartalfheim’s sun, a blue-white glow barely half as bright as normal sunlight. There was a lot of ultraviolet in it, which might explain something about their complexion.

“Your human retainers are going to get sunburned pretty easily under this light,” I pointed out. “They’re all northerners.”

“Yes, some of our older texts mention that problem. Humans will acclimate if their exposure is gradual, correct?”

“Depends on what part of the world you got their ancestors from. Most people will build up a tan if you increase their exposure gradually, but sometimes northern tribes lose that ability. You’ll need to keep an eye out for people who just sunburn repeatedly, and never adjust. But if it does come up I think I can fix it.”

We had to work out how high to push the mana level in their habitat, and then there were a lot of smaller details about the layout and facilities. I was basically just going to build some big rooms and let the elves handle all the detail work, but we still had to agree on an overall design. We were working through the details when a servant poked her head into Tavrin’s office to let us know I had a visitor.

“He says he’s the harbormaster,” she told me. “There doesn’t seem to be an emergency, so we’ve put him in one of the waiting rooms.”

“Harbormaster Lund is out of bed this early? Interesting. Can you let him know I’ll be down in a few minutes? I think we’re almost done here.”

“Of course, milord.”

I spent a few minutes hashing things out with Tavrin before I took my leave. I was surprised at how awkward it made the situation, though. I didn’t want to keep Lund waiting forever like some self-important asshole, but I also didn’t want Tavrin to think I was more concerned with some human outsider than I was with taking care of his clan. Ugh, politics. I guess this is why important people normally have someone managing their appointments.

The harbormaster seemed years older than when last we’d met. There was more gray in his hair, and he’d lost weight as well. He jumped to his feet when I entered the waiting room, and bowed.

“Good day to you, lord wizard. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I’m sure you must be a very busy man these days.”

“For every problem I solve, three more pop up,” I agreed. “How have you been?”

“Holding on, milord. If not for those iron buildings you made I likely wouldn’t be here, though. When Hel’s ships attacked the harbor they docked right by my house, and we barely got out ahead of them. We bribed our way into a shelter, and then did it again after the earthquake.”

“Bribed?” I asked.

“The mayor never had a chance to appoint overseers for the shelters,” he explained. “The refugees in each one have taken them over, and chosen their own leaders. With grain rations as short as they are they take a hard line on letting anyone into their space, even in an emergency.”

“I suppose that’s to be expected. Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?”

“It’s only a symptom, milord. I’ve been speaking with the other influential men in the district. The masters of the Mariner’s Guild and the Fishermen’s Association, the grain factors and warehouse magnates, even what’s left of the shipwrights. We can all see the writing on the wall, milord. The truth is the whole city is falling apart, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can put it back together.”

“I’m hoping we’ll have a bit of a breather now,” I confided. “The ape men were pretty well wiped out in that last mortar attack, and if another army shows up we’ll just do it again. This leadership mess is another matter, though. There doesn’t seem to be anyone who can step up and take charge.”

“Some of the men thought that might be your cue, milord,” he said cautiously.

“Tempting,” I admitted. “But I don’t think it would work. The Conclave wouldn’t stand for it, and if I got into an argument with them there wouldn’t be much of a city left afterwards.”

“As you say, milord. Most likely that means the city will splinter, though. We don’t dare try to reconvene the city council, because that would just force things to come to a head. So the leaders over in the Military District will all look to the nobles for direction, the ones in the Wizard’s Quarter will turn to the Conclave, and so on.”

That made sense. Of course, the Trade District didn’t really have a local power center to turn to, and the Harbor District…

Oh. Well, now I understood why Lund was here.

“It doesn’t sound like the Harbor District has anything you could call a unified government,” I observed.

Lund frowned unhappily at that. “Not as such, no. I’ve gotten the guilds all pulling together, but that doesn’t account for the whole district. The refugees keep to themselves, and the fishermen have all banded together to take over a warehouse down in West End. There’s the Harbor Watch as well, but they haven’t been much use since the earthquake.”

“Why is that?” I asked. “I imagine you must know their commander.”

“Unfortunately he died in the earthquake. The men elected one of their sergeants to take over, but they haven’t been paid since the mayor died. They’re demanding that someone make good on their payroll before they go back to work.”

I snorted. “Figures. Well, money isn’t going to be a problem, but it sounds like the district has a lot of other issues. How bad is the shelter situation?”

“Bad, milord. About a fourth of the district fell down in the earthquake. That left the survivors packed in like sardines, where they aren’t just out in the cold. We’ve been forced to scavenge the rubble for firewood, and the garrison claimed a lot of timber for the barricades they’ve been throwing up to protect the breaches in the city wall. At this rate folk will start running out in a few weeks, and we’ll all freeze not long after. I might also mention that the city granary is over in the Military District, and things will get tight in a hurry if the nobles stop doling out rations.”

Which would probably happen at some point, when whichever noble ended up in charge of the granary decided to try starving his opponents into submission. In theory I could just seize the granary, but I wasn’t sure the Conclave would stand for that. Besides, then I’d have to guard it, and my men were stretched thin just defending my own citadel. No, I’d have to be a little more subtle than that.

Was I really going to do this?

Yeah, I was. It would be stupid not to.

“I don’t suppose there’s any space left in your fortress, milord?” Lund asked cautiously.

“Only for loyal retainers who can adjust to having strange magical affairs going on around them all the time,” I told him. “We can’t just resettle a crowd of displaced people here. I think it’s better not to put all our eggs in one basket, anyway. If I spent a day throwing up some defensible buildings along the waterfront it would make the whole district a lot more secure.”

“That would certainly help to keep the harbor running,” he agreed. “We’re starting to see loads of food coming up from the south along with the regular trade. Mind you, not many folk can afford to buy at the prices they’re asking. I’m better off than most, and my own means are feeling a bit stretched these days.”

“Oh, I think we can do something about that,” I said. “How do you think it would go over, if you quietly put the word out that I’m willing to take over the payroll for all the city officials in the Harbor District? Maybe we could hire some work crews to clear away rubble and shovel the snow off the streets while we’re at it.”

“I’m sure most everyone would be pleased to accept your generosity, milord. I know I will.”

“Good. I’ll have Tavrin, my castellan, get with you to arrange the details. How hard would it be to set up meetings with all of these independent groups? We need to get everyone working together here as soon as possible.”

“I’m sure I can arrange something, milord.”

Well, that all sounded fairly promising. I stopped by Tavrin’s office to fill him in on the situation, which seemed to amuse him.

“I’m sure we’ll find that the city payroll records have mysteriously vanished,” he said. “But of course we can take their word about what they were being paid.”

I shrugged. “I’m fine with letting everyone give themselves a raise, actually. They’ll spend most of it on food, and the profits will keep those merchant captains making the trip to deliver more. Just make sure we don’t end up paying the watch captain for troops who don’t really exist, or anything dumb like that.”

“That much I can manage. Are you planning to let Lund put himself in charge of the district?”

“I’m not sure yet. He’s corrupt, but he’s also pretty competent and he tries to take care of his people. We’ll need to do something with the leaders of these other groups, though, or they’ll wind up causing problems. I’m tempted to set up some kind of local governing council so we can give everyone a seat. Trouble is, then we’ll end up having endless meetings about everything instead of just getting the job done.”

“Make it an advisory council,” he suggested. “You’ll need to be involved in everything anyway at first, since so many of their problems will require magical solutions. Once you’ve spent some time working with them you’ll be able to pick out the best man to put in charge. Then he can deal with the council meetings.”

“Not a bad plan,” I mused. “I may do that.”

My next stop was just a few doors down the hall, where Pelagia had set up her office. She’d already found herself a secretary, a nervous-looking young man who immediately jumped up and ushered me in.

Pelagia was wearing a proper dress today, instead of armor or that gauzy negligee thing she’d shown off when we first met. But the close-fitting bodice did nothing to hide her spectacular figure, and the skirt only came to mid-thigh. The way she jumped to her feet with a huge smile the moment she saw me didn’t help with the urge to throw her over her desk and have my way with her.

“Hello, Pelagia. How’s my favorite nymph today?”

“Daniel! Good morning, my lord. I’m well enough, although I fear the tasks you’ve set me are proving quite formidable.”

The secretary hurriedly vacated the room, closing the door behind him. I raised an eyebrow. “What’s with him?”

“Oh, Edvin is a lover of men. I believe I make him nervous, but it’s better than the alternative. I’d never be able to keep my hands off of him all day if he were normal.”

I chuckled. “That’s one way to do it. So, I’ve got a job for you. Think you can find a merchant who’d be willing to sell us a few tons of grain on the sly?”

Instead of returning to her seat Pelagia just perched on the edge of her desk. “Willing to? Certainly. All we need to do is offer an outrageous price for it. Able to? That will be more difficult. The granary is heavily guarded now, and a line of wagons is hard to miss.”

“I suspect the elves can solve that problem for us,” I pointed out.

“Oh, that’s right. Nethwillin does a lot of smuggling, don’t they? They’re bound to have suitable magic.”

“They have a collection of bags and boxes that are a lot bigger on the inside than they look, and they’re pretty good at being stealthy. I’m sure Tavrin could figure out a way to smuggle the grain across the city easily enough. I’m going to be building a granary of our own on the island this afternoon, so we have someplace to put it.”

“Very well, my lord. I shall arrange it.”

That was good to hear, but good god this woman was distracting. She’d put her hands down on the desk behind her, and now she was arching her back slightly. Her mountainous breasts were nearly a match for Tina’s, and her position made it almost impossible to tear my gaze off them. Especially when her nipples started to tent the thin fabric of her dress. She couldn’t really be getting that turned on just from talking to me, could she?

Of course she could. She was a nymph.

“I hear you’re also arranging a revel, whatever that is?”

“An evening of celebration, for our new patron. You will attend, won’t you, my lord?” She licked her lips, and took a deep breath that left the lacings of her dress straining to contain her assets.

It went against my own cultural hang-ups, but it was about time I got over those. So instead of looking away and pretending I hadn’t noticed, I took a step closer and put my hand on her thigh.

“Of course I’ll be there. I wouldn’t want your girls to think I was rejecting them or something. Although you’re not making it easy to wait.”

She hooked an ankle around my leg to pull me closer, and ran her hands up my chest. “We don’t have to wait, Daniel.”

I cupped her cheek in my hand. “Some things are worth doing right, Pelagia. Besides, I’ve got an officer’s meeting in half an hour. That isn’t nearly enough time.”

She groaned, and laid her forehead against my chest. “Ugh! You don’t know what torture it is for a nymph to resist temptation, Daniel. Please, promise me you aren’t just teasing? You’ll really attend, and seal our bonds properly? No evasions, or last minute rejections?”

“I promise, Pelagia. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about you at first. But you’ve been nothing but helpful, and I think it’s about time I listened to all the people who have been telling me not to worry. Although I doubt you want things between us to be like they are with Cerise and Corinna.”

She shook her head sadly.

“My heart is far too old for such innocent games, and I fear my scars run too deep. As well, you have your ladies to attend to, and I have no wish to upset the balance of your coven. But nymphs were not meant to bear the burden of leadership, and it weighs heavily upon me. I would be grateful for the opportunity to lay it down from time to time, in the arms of a man who has no need to take advantage of my moments of weakness.”

Somehow, my arms had ended up around her. I hugged her gently.

“I understand, Pelagia. Friends with benefits sounds pretty good to me, too.”

“They have a term for it in your land? How unusual. I have not seen a society where humans admitted to such things since Rome fell.”

“Yeah, I’m from a strange place. Still can’t tell you anything about it, though.”

“I did not ask. I have no need to pry into my lord’s secrets, especially when they involve Dark Hecate. I would rather turn my imagination to more pleasant ends. Tomorrow evening, then? Come to the grove an hour before sunset, and we shall show you the hospitality of the Bloody Thorns. Feasting and performances, dance and song, and all our arts of pleasure.”

“As long as none of those arts involve shedding blood. I’m not going to judge what you do with each other, but seeing pretty girls in pain is a major turn off for me.”

She gave me a pleased look. “I’m glad to hear it. A proper lord of the land should have no need of such contrivances. But be warned, I expect to be properly conquered by the evening’s end.”

I pulled her into a kiss. Her lips were sweet against my tongue, like some exotic tropical fruit. They parted at my touch, and I plundered her mouth with unhurried thoroughness. Controlling the kiss with a hand in her hair, listening to the throaty sounds of delight that she made. Finally I released her lips, and gazed into her eyes across a distance of inches.

“You won’t be disappointed,” I told her.

I let her go, and stepped away. She swayed towards me for a moment before she regained control of herself, and slumped back onto her desk. “Tease. You’d best bring a full measure of your sorcery of endurance, for you shall surely need it. Now get out of here, before I lose what vestige of self-control I yet retain.”

“I could always tie you to the desk-”

“Go! Or I shall not be responsible for my actions!”

I went. I had to stop and adjust myself once the door was closed, but it was worth it to get the best of her. Once I would have been intimidated by the prospect of being the guest of honor at some kind of nature spirit orgy, but these days I was confident that I could handle it. Too bad my next appointment wasn’t going to be as fun.

Demetrios had set up a war room while I was away, and while it wasn’t fancy the elder satyr had made sure it had the essentials. A map of Kozalin and the surrounding region was spread across a large table in the middle of the room, and decorated with little wooden tokens representing the local military forces. A second table held a map of Varmland, with tokens marking settlements that were still holding out and the monster forces that threatened them. On one wall a rough sketch of Europe was taking shape, although our information from that far afield was pretty limited.

Demetrios and Captain Rain were already there, along with a couple of the sergeants. Tavrin arrived moments after I did, with his daughter Sefwin on his heels.

“So, how’s our military situation looking?” I asked.

“Improving, but still damnably poor,” Demetrios replied. “That’s what I wanted to discuss. With the city threatening to fragment we have several opportunities, but also a lot of problems.”

“I know,” I agreed. “First things first. The island.”

Demetrios nodded to Tavrin, who fielded the question.

“Black Island is currently well secured against a conventional assault by troops of ordinary skill, which includes most of our likely opponents. My people are implementing security measures to prevent infiltration by goblins or andregi airborne commandos, and your wards will keep out ghosts and spirits. But the regular garrison is only two hundred men, and half of them are barely trained. Our military security rests on the power of the mortars combined with the obstacle represented by the walls of the Black Fortress, and any enemy who can bypass those defenses will easily overwhelm our troops.

“The supply situation is considerably better, at least for our own people. The first crops of peas, beans and radishes have come in, with wheat and barley soon to follow, and we’re now harvesting crops a bit faster than we eat them. I’ve set up regular lumbering runs to keep our carpenters supplied with wood, and we’re stockpiling lumber and stone against future needs. Clothing is still in short supply, but our first crop of flax should be ready to harvest next week. So our truly essential needs are being met internally, and we needn’t worry about starvation in the event of a siege.

“Our greatest threat is from Kozalin. We have hundreds of civilians visiting the market down on the street level every day now, and their numbers are growing as word gets around. Those stores you set up to sell conjured building stones and mass-produced lights are making money hand over fist, and so are the farmers at the produce market. But it’s impossible to vet so many people, and we don’t have the manpower to keep all the street level exits properly guarded. A clever enemy could easily infiltrate the island with troops mixed in among the shoppers, and cause havoc.”

“Elin’s clinic is a potential target,” Sefwin put in. “I only have twenty agents, so I can’t devote a lot of personnel to security there without exposing the palace. She always has two elves with her when she’s healing, but I’ve had to rely on garrison troops to keep an eye on the place when it’s empty. I don’t have any confidence at all in their ability to spot hidden interlopers setting up traps.”

“How secure would you say the palace is now?” I asked.

“Not as safe as it looks,” she replied. “The fortifications are excellent, and having a sealed environment helps as well. But Avilla’s maids are a serious security risk, which the psychological aspect of your wards doesn’t fully address. The sheer size of the place is also an obstacle, since it will slow down our response to any disturbance. It helps that your ladies can all defend themselves, of course, but I still don’t consider the situation adequate for protecting a pregnant woman.”

Captain Rain shook his head. “You elves see assassins everywhere. No queen of Varmland has ever been as safe as Lord Black’s ladies, Sefwin. But the news on our field company is much the same. I’ve managed to assemble a force of two hundred men, with rifles and enough training that we can count on them to point the things in the right direction. Only half of them are proper soldiers, though, and their morale is a bit shaky. We don’t have enough skimmers to transport them either, and I wouldn’t like to get into a serious battle beyond the reach of the mortars.”

Vehicles. Right. That was going to be a hell of a project. It took several hours to build something as complex as an armored skimmer by hand, and we needed at least twenty of them. I’d had some ideas about building a factory enchantment to make the things instead, but getting all the mechanical parts to fit together properly would make it a big project. I wasn’t sure when I’d have time to tackle it.

“Alright, so we have some challenges. What do we do about them?”

“Against the infiltration threat, I’d say the key problem is that our human soldiers are simply too vulnerable to dirty tricks,” Demetrios said. “We need to make them harder to fool, or at least harder to disable. Better senses, basic magical defenses, perhaps something to make them more durable or harder to target for a quiet takedown. It doesn’t need to be powerful, just effective enough to upset an assassin’s plans.”

“Some of that should be doable,” I mused. “Think you’d get any volunteers for a wolfen conversion?”

“A few,” Demetrios replied.

“Not many,” Captain Rain added. “A man has to be desperate or crazy to agree to something like that, and the men aren’t feeling so desperate these days. Something about the size of these walls. But Gronir keeps asking among the refugees, and I know his list has at least thirty names on it.”

“That brings us around to the morale issue,” Demetrios said. “As Marcus observed, a lot of our troops are too green for comfort. We’re training them as hard as we can, but we all know it takes a few months for that to pay off. Until then, I think the best thing we can do to ensure they’ll stand their ground is to give them something to protect. There are plenty of desperate young women in Kozalin right now, so it shouldn’t be hard to arrange for a few hundred young men to find themselves wives.”

“That just trades one problem for another,” Captain Rain grumbled. “They’ll be forever shirking their duties for a chance to sneak off to their women.”

“I’ve seen that handled pretty well,” I said. “It’s just a matter of setting up the right incentives. First we set up a special housing area for the families of each unit, so their wives are all neighbors and gossip with each other. Then we make being absent without leave a fairly serious offense, but arrange our schedules so that each man gets to spend a day or two with his family every week. Make the standard training schedule five days of work followed by two days of leave, or something like that.”

“I suppose that might work, my lord. I’m not sure how to arrange the matchmaking, though. Our boys don’t have a lot of contact with the refugees, and most of them are a bit young to be looking for wives.”

“That’s an easy one,” Demetrios said. “Pelagia is already recruiting craftsmen and farmers from the refugee shelters. We’ll just let her recruit hopeful would-be brides as well. Set up a barracks and living area for them, tell them they’ve got three weeks to find a husband before we kick them back out, and let the men visit when they’re on leave. They’ll be hitched before you can blink.”

I chuckled. “You know, Brand was trying to get me to take in two or three women for every man on the island. Maybe we should let them have more than one bride?”

The men all laughed at that. Sefwin groaned.

“Two women sharing a man who’s gone most of the time, with no magic to prevent jealousy? Not unless you want them murdering each other, Daniel. Let the sergeants take concubines if they want, but the enlisted men are way too young and stupid to handle that kind of thing.”

“She’s right about that,” Demetrios agreed. “The civilians are another matter, though. There’s a lot to be said for taking in extra women while we can. I think Black Island has a good chance of surviving this trial, but the rest of the city is another matter.”

“Yeah, that’s the kicker,” I agreed. “Between the earthquake and the andregi attacks the city defenses are in sorry shape, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We’re going to have monsters infiltrating to prey on the civilians soon, and who knows what the next big threat will be. The question is, what do we do about it?”

“The main threat to us would be a Great Beast,” Demetrios said. “I don’t think we have anything that can kill a monster like that. The cannons aren’t powerful enough, and the mortars would have trouble hitting a moving target.”

“Desperate mobs will eventually be an issue,” Tavrin added. “We need more manpower to ensure we can deal with them appropriately. Some measures to limit the number of outsiders visiting the island would also be wise. Perhaps we could set up a market at the other end of the causeway?”

“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. What about recruiting opportunities? There are so many troops in the city, there’s bound to be a company or two who’ve gotten orphaned.”

“I have a few contacts among the officers,” Captain Rain said. “I can put the word out, if you want to make an offer. But the nobles will all be thinking the same thing, and most men feel a bit nervous about working for a wizard. It could be expensive.”

“We have money,” I pointed out. “Actually, that’s something I wanted to mention. Since we’ve got plenty of gold in the treasury I want to give everyone a raise. The best way to keep ships coming into the harbor is to make sure they make a fat profit, so I want to give our people enough money to afford the inflated prices they’re charging.”

That was a popular idea.

The meeting dragged on for longer than I would have liked. There were endless details to arrange, and a lot of decisions the men wanted my approval on. Understandable, since we hadn’t been working together very long, but it all took time.

Demetrios was a bit surprised at my plan to take over the Harbor District, although he seemed to understand my reasoning.

“We need a recruiting pool, and a place to put uncertain allies,” I explained. “The only people I’m going to let live on the island are the ones we can trust to fight on our side if the city turns against us. But it takes time for people to make up their minds about things like that, and more time for us to recruit them. So we can’t just close our doors and let the city go to hell.

“I’m thinking I’ll put up some fortified buildings around the district, and put one of the local big shots in charge of each of them. They can move the local businesses that are still running inside them, and organize militias to defend them the next time the city is attacked. With some basic defensive enchantments they’ll be proof against earthquakes, frost wraiths and monster raids.”

“That will certainly reduce their casualties,” Demetrios agreed. “Assaulting a district dotted with little fortresses like that would be a nightmare. But I’d suggest repairing the breaches in the wall as well. It will help control movement in and out of the district, and limit the number of monsters that can sneak in. Not to mention that it’s a clear way to mark the limits of your territory.”

What I wanted to do was repair the city’s outer wall, and maybe melt the moat while I was at it. But if I did that the nobles would think I was staking claim to the entire city, and that would only cause more trouble. Besides, I didn’t have time to rebuild the whole city. I had too many other urgent projects on my plate.

94 thoughts on “Thrall 02

      1. Remember Brand’s attack on the Halls of Slumber, that almost ruined Daniel’s Plan? “Apparently” the Prince was part of the raid. It is not specifically mentioned in book 3, but that is the assumption.

        Actually, that really bothered me. Why in the world did Brand do that? The raid, that is. I don’t see the point. Hopefully the next book will explain it.

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      2. I did read over the attack on the Halls of Slumber. And it never said anything about the Prince even being there. It’s more than likely he was, but it never said anything. Just the battle. I even went back to verified the knights in the cages around Bran. No Prince. I always wondered what happen to them. Anyway I still can’t find the Prince. Where is the Prince or how did he die? Does anyone knows? He was a major side character. Other than Bran the Prince was the one everyone followed. That’s a major loose end.

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      3. @cuttermasterson. I’m sure I read near the end of Extinction that Daniel saw some of the Prince’s banner men…. What are the banner men doing without their prince?

        When reading books not everything is spelt out, you have to put two and two together to get your answers. It’s why I like Mr Brown, he doesn’t hand you and point to everything, he mentions things and they add up in the end.

        When I do my reread near the end of November I will see, but I’m sure that Daniel already thought the Prince as dead.

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      4. Incorrect. We find out the prince is missing and presumed dead. Realistically this means he is probably dead, but given Brand had some secret mission, it is possible that the Prince did as well.

        I suspect comic book logic applies. If the author does not tell us Daniel sees the body, then we cannot be sure the person is dead.

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  1. Still nothing on collecting the mana-factory enchanted heat stones on the bottom of the river? I don’t know if that’s just been forgotten, or if it’s supposed to be setting up a plot point for when an antagonistic faction reverse engineers the enchantment thanks to all the samples left around ripe for the taking.

    Daniel went through all the trouble to obscure the enchantment from the Conclave, but he’s still left all those heat stones out there for anyone to take.

    If it’s been forgotten (by the author), it needs to be addressed however briefly. A sentence or two would do. If them being left there, ripe for stealing, is supposed to be a later plot point, it’s a rather dumb plot point. It goes against the characterization of characters like Daniel and Hecate who would be cautious of such secrets being stolen.

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    1. He might address it when he seizes power, and has to consolidate it. Maybe while he is pounding Caspar’s sister’s sweet cheeks he will do something about it.

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    2. Melting the entire harbor was mentioned as a potential job in the latest snippet. Presumably gathering up the old heating stones (or simply banishing them) would be part of that project. Daniel doesn’t exactly have a lot of leisure time to work with, so addressing that issue might simply not strike him as urgent enough to preempt other tasks.

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      1. Yes. This.

        If you read the snippets for timeline, it looks like he’s barely home 24 hours and already has about 240 hours worth of NEW projects piled up, to add on top of the stack of Gods only know how many MORE hours of OLD projects accumulated over the month he’s been active in his new life/world.

        At his current rate of task acquisition, Daniel shall have work for all the hours likely available to him for the entire duration of the coming Ice Age, long before Fimbulwinter is over.

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    3. I want to point out that the stones in the river are boiling hot. wile it is possible to get them 1. they are unable to approach physically close to them, and 2. any competition who might want to study them are likely going to just copy them or screw up and brake it and kill them self (think critical nuclear reactor or overpowered flash-bang)

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    4. The problem is that he would need to take a 5 mile trip through monster infested territory ( much worse than when he first went) constantly stopping to retrieve the stones from deep under water it would take a massive military operation.

      He would probably need to make a naval warship to do it. The factory and sled probably could (and should) be retrieved by an airship mission.

      But the stones are a much too difficult task at the moment.

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    5. Danial doesn’t need to collect the heat stones, he just needs to get close and blast it with a dispel, leave the rock where it sits, hell get Ellin or his naiads to swim out and do it for him so he doesn’t have to bother with all the surface trash.

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      1. I suppose Daniel could fly out in good weather and banish the stones.

        Of course, then he’d have to replace them with something equally or more effective but more secure since there are apparently still ships using the channel to dock at Kozalin, according to the snippets.

        Seems like the sort of project Daniel will put off until he has addressed some of the more urgent ones.

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      2. Creating new stones with a factory if they do not have to generate mana could be quick, just sailing the skyship over the river dropping rocks. Could be done in a couple of hours once he builds the fairly simple factory. Getting rid of the old stones would be a beast of a task as he did not design them for easy disposal even if he can easily find and access them underwater. And given they are mana factories, I am not sure Daniel would risk anything less than a perfect dispel to get rid of each one — lest he be the one to create the explosion on himself.

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  2. Mr. Brown, after reading through Thrall 2. I found the dark elves new home some what lacking. Couldn’t Daniel design the elves home more interesting. Like maybe since they have a ninja flare to them. Couldn’t they have something more shinobi inspired shrine. I think it would be awesome to have othe incredible architecture from places like Lord of The Ring or maybe gothic churches. Just a thought.

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      1. So your okay with the description of a big room for a dark elf home? I wouldn’t mind the ninja slant, but I would prefer an exotic beach resort instead. Since the elves wanted light reminiscent of their home world. Hence the tropical fell.

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  3. I think Daniel should give revolvers to his trusted officers. People like captain rain could be given the explosive charge pistols. It sounds like the weapons that Daniel makes don’t even require a wizard to operate so maybe he could give tons of these weapons to every soldier in the city but with deadman’s buttons to shutdown the weapons of insurrectionists. Maybe assign the weapons to each tower and have a control room that oversees all the towers he makes for everyone.

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    1. He would need to improve the design first to allow people who cannot sense magic to select the correct ammo.

      Giving them out has drawbacks.
      * his warheads would be studied. He might find them countered.
      * more people now have an incentive to learn how to cut mana links
      * more people now need to defend against bullets

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    2. “maybe he could give tons of these weapons to every soldier in the city”
      Why in all that’s holy would he arm the enemy? Anyone not vetted to “live” on black island is a potential enemy. And you want to give them a powerful explosive charge shot gun that could be used against his women?

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      1. Well, we are back to his fundamental conundrum. What is Kozalin? Eventually he will have to decide between taking it over and killing it off. But that is eventual. For now he is taking advantage of what the city and its port can provide.

        I would give them weapons, but only such clearly inferior to his own troops.

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      2. He has made version 2 of his fire arms. They are all powered by a central power supply so they don’t work outside a given range and he can disable the guns from the tower. I would think that negated some of the risks. If the guns are turned on him he can just flip the switch. Also, copying the enchantment may be out side of most humans as they do not have the same level of magic sight. He describes most magic users as trying to forge with a flame that can’t see.

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      3. Provided the Conclave or some noble’s household wizard don’t find a way to reconnect the guns to another power supply. If they have to sacrifice a dozen peasants to power their guns, they will do so.

        And if you arm some guards of questionable loyalty, you are forcing the Conclave into research on how to cut the power links. If he really needs to arm the city folk, he better hand out some melee weapons with force enhancements and grenades. Preferably with a real remote self destruct switch.

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  4. I would like to open a thread about weapons, if I may. I cannot help but thinking about the fundamentals here.
    What wins, guns or armor? It seems to me the answer, if magic is involved, is armor.

    Daniel’s weapons have to accelerate a projectile within the confines of a tube to killing speed, or the aim would be horrible. The shielding of the defender only has to slow down or deflect a projectile enough. It can act at a larger distance and also aim to deform, bannish or destroy a projectile. Daniel’s guns need to make and enchant a projectile within a second (or a few seconds if he modifies the design). A defender can spend weeks on enchanting his shielding. It can also be made in special procedures including exotic materials.

    Protection spells against arrows were available to weak Andregi mages. They will be ramped up now. And if we get into a contest of who can withstand more momentum, the soldier who has to hold a tube with his arms or a mage who can distribute it all over his body and physical armor, the armored mage will win.

    Now, you can turn this into a battle of magic between the spells on the offense and on the defense and you do want to retain the tactical advantage that guns give, which is range. But then you want a heavy delivery vehicle, because the amount of spellwork you can put into an object is limited by mass.
    Eventually you would not throw away the projectile. You would build something like Daniel’s earth talisman with an offensive payload and a homing capability.
    Or if you want to throw it away, subsonic delivery will do. You’d go for a slow, heavy projectile, like a crossbow bolt. Or you deliver your warhead by flash step or outright teleportation. Or you do away with physical projectiles and fling curses, like Cerise does. But then ultimately you’d do away with the gun shape. You’d used something directly coupled to your line of sight. Goggles of death (magic).

    It seems to me that with guns Daniel has chosen the solution with the least long term potential.

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    1. “What wins, guns or armor? It seems to me the answer, if magic is involved”
      …”And if we get into a contest of who can withstand more momentum, the soldier who has to hold a tube with his arms or a mage who can distribute it all over his body and physical armor”
      Bigger guns. It works for the Americans. If they develop armor to counteract Daniel’s little rifles, he just makes bigger specialized guns that accelerates the bullet faster. A tungsten bullet wrapped in a tungsten jacket. Heating it up to crazy high speeds shouldn’t be a problem.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Oliver. I wasn’t saying hold it in your arms. The bigger a gun gets in the USA, the more likely it is that you see it on a stand or tripod.

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      2. That will work for a time, but you will hit a limit where you put massive resources into a gun and a carrier. You would be better off with a more complex warhead propelled by simpler means.

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    2. Weapons vs. Armor is a long historic argument. You really can’t say that one or the other is best, not truly. Even today, there is no clear winner. But, it is easier today to get a ‘man-killer’ weapon that it is to get a High Class Body Armor. Making a 6 lb weapon vs is customized full body armor is a lot easier, so it made sense on Daniel’s Side.

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      1. It did make sense. But will it continue to make sense?

        If you are looking at combatants high in magic the ease of armor vs. guns clearly inverts. Daniel’s force shield was working less than ten minutes after his arrival. Guns took weeks and multiple attempts. Even now his shields will stop his guns.
        Even for the Andregi that was the case. Daniel could not crack their shield. He had to exhaust the power supply. You are comparing guns with an advanced power supply to shields with a crappy one. Also the artillery as such did not contribute. He broke through with warheads alone. The tubes were a handy delivery system. If he had thousands of birds carrying freight and used them to drop bombs, that would have worked, too.

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      2. And yet, even in the Book 2, when setting up in Kozalin, Danile could not create full body armor for ALL of his men – not even unenchanted ones.

        And, the Sons of Ivon easily pierced his own armor and almost killed him and the elves during the evacuation of the Dark Elven Northern Settlements.

        And, Mara’s Aura blew through his armor and unraveled his blade, Grinder, when she attacked Daniel.

        So, obviously even his own protective enchantments, and his weapons are not the ‘ultimate’ answer. There is always a way around any one.

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      3. Well, he could have created force fields. He did later for Mara, Elin and Cerise. And he could create magical shields. Although we do not know those shields would withstand a bullet. The problem was control. Yet his dangerous enemies have some magic capability.

        And yes, some weapon will work. But would it be a gun? The dwarves got him with a crossbow bolt.

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      4. Physical armor takes time and resources to make and has physical limits/gaps — and nobody else can create enchantment factories to speed this process up. So Physical enchanted armor is always going to be very limited. Protective spells are easier to create, but function like wards — they only last as long as the mana reserves

        What this means in practice is that – over time – Daniel’s enemies will need to be hit multiple times to overcome the wards — and elite troops will take little damage from even multiple gun shots. But all of the above applies to arrows, swords or any other commonly used weapon. So i am not sure why this is an argument that guns are “inferior” in some way.

        The only way to get around this is to employ a wide range of exotic attacks — which is capability that really on the most elite troops (aka – Daniel himself) are likely to be able to deliver.

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      5. “So Physical enchanted armor is always going to be very limited.”
        Yes, exactly. A purely physical armor requires mass over the area to be protected. But that is exactly the point. Magic gives further options.

        “they only last as long as the mana reserves”
        Well, yes. But so does any any magical gadget. Once you deplete the power stone in Daniel’s gun, it will stop working. Magical armor is like physical weapons. You can run ‘out of ammo’. (defendo?)

        “Daniel’s enemies will need to be hit multiple times to overcome the wards”
        Correct. And in the arms race that this describes, you want a better warhead for your weapon, to require fewer – ideally one – hits. For example an enchanted or explosive warhead. That, however, means that the ballistic performance of the gun ceases to matter, as long as you hit the enemy.

        “But all of the above applies to arrows, swords or any other commonly used weapon”
        Exactly. Yet an arrow or a sword are heavier than a bullet. In case of a sword two orders of magnitude heavier. That means they can carry a much larger magical effect. Hence they are better warheads.

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      6. If you will this is exactly the same development we have seen with anti-tank weapons for infantry. We do not fire shaped-charge warheads from guns for infantry, for exactly the same reason.

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      7. Ok my quibbles with the argument

        “they only last as long as the mana reserves”

        <<>>>

        Guns are powered by mana generators, so they do not run out of ammo. Wards are still great as it might take 5 shots to kill you rather than 1, and that means the guy with the gun is going to kill a lot fewer people in a 5 min period (hypothetically). Not arguing with your premise that magical based defenses (physical or ward) are a big boost to survival. Just arguing that they have always had limits.

        “Daniel’s enemies will need to be hit multiple times to overcome the wards”

        <<>>

        Why is an explosion more dangerous than an impact. That makes no sense. I am guessing that your actual argument is that an summoning effect (aka – like the mortars) or similar magical ranged attack can deliver a lot more damage than a gun bullet. You are correct. Daniel’s pistol can clearly dish out a lot more damage then the rifles he created for his guards, even though physically it is smaller. But recognize that there is a trade off. Ranged magical effects are subject to magic negation. Daniel created a solution for mortars, but that is a lot trickier or less effective for an infantry weapon. After all, you cannot rely on gravity to drop your hot lava on your enemy when shooting horizontally. And sky fall weapons cannot be used indoors or near objects you care about.

        “But all of the above applies to arrows, swords or any other commonly used weapon”
        Exactly. Yet an arrow or a sword are heavier than a bullet. In case of a sword two orders of magnitude heavier. That means they can carry a much larger magical effect. Hence they are better warheads.

        I think you are overestimating the defenses possible. Gaea has been building an army for a thousand years. Her elite assassin troops HAVE all these wards and enchanted armor. That did not make them immune to the dryads and their spears – and the regular nonmagical soldiers that have been defending the town. Armor is not useless,but not invulnerability either.

        Now I am sure a handful of troops have armor so powerful (like that one adept in full plate or Steelbinder) that it really does make them nearly invulnerable. But that is absolutely not something that can be mass produced. I suspect there are only very few wizards — or beings of any kind – in all the north that have battle defenses that can easily shrug off multiple bullets. The creatures that can are gods, great beasts, and other big bad monsters.

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      8. “Guns are powered by mana generators, so they do not run out of ammo.”

        So will shields be. Daniel is not going to manage to keep the secret forever. He will try to and it is worth the effort, but in the end he will fail. I am not talking about what will happen in five years. I am talking about fifty years. My apologies, if I haven’t made that clear.
        Thus the shields will have neigh indepletable mana reserves behind them.

        “Wards are still great as it might take 5 shots to kill you rather than 1, and that means the guy with the gun is going to kill a lot fewer people in a 5 min period ”

        If your enemies can get into melee range due to their shields, they will do so, if your force depends mainly on ranged weapons. My argument is not that guns will be useless or shields ultimately undefeatable. But that is not necessary. Even with our weapons, in a very confined space a dagger is superior to a firearm. No, I am saying that there is a technological tipping point, beyond which guns are just the worse choice, not useless.

        “Why is an explosion more dangerous than an impact. That makes no sense.”

        Potential and development. If you want to kill with kinetic energy (as a gun does in the end), you need to transfer momentum. Hence the shooter needs to survive the recoil of his weapon. Even with our technology this is true. Compare what damage an infantry man with a gun and a rocket launcher can do. We can carry only one or two rounds for a rocket launcher. With magic that limit goes away, as Daniel’s pistol is demonstrating. It is inherent in the technologies.

        “But recognize that there is a trade off. Ranged magical effects are subject to magic negation.”

        No, I am sorry, I am afraid that is an error of logic. There are counters to ranged magical weapons. But there are also counters to ranged conventional weapons, especially purely ballistic bullets. For example the ward the Andregi used to desintegrate bullets in the battle of the gate. Maybe I did not get the point. Please explain.

        “Her elite assassin troops HAVE all these wards and enchanted armor.”

        Sorry, but no, they did not. Magic is costly to them. They warded their mages against threats they thought likely, that is, arrows. Once guns become common, their calculation will change.
        When magic peoples go all out, Daniel’s guns fail. Try stopping a dwarven golem with bullets.

        “That did not make them immune to the dryads and their spears”

        Melee weapons enhanced with dryad magic. Making my point.

        “and the regular nonmagical soldiers that have been defending the town. Armor is not useless,but not invulnerability either.”

        It does not have to be. There is an arms race between offensive and defensive weapons and a competiton between guns and other weapons, especially melee weapons. In our world we have seen that guns are very good in attack and have outclassed every other weapon.
        I am saying that with magic things change. Armor is better, not invulnerable. Furthermore it is better at defending against guns specifically than against other magic weapons. (Case in point: Daniel’s shield takes a bullet with ease, but an enchanted dwarf axe will go right through)

        When equipping your ordinary soldier you make a calculation. He can carry only so much. So if closing in becomes a real option, he needs a melee weapon, hence bayonets were invented. Yet if they become the norm, you will need to face that and at some point you will give him body armor, an enchanted spear, a backup sword and grenades instead of a gun, just because that is more effective. Again, the question is not what is ineffective and what is not, but you need to ask what is more effective.
        And you will introduce specialised gun troops, likely with a machine gun on a platform as a crew serviced weapon. And you will likely see more guns in siege warfare. But not as the standard weapon of the standard infantry soldier, not in the long run.

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      9. No, I am sorry, I am afraid that is an error of logic. There are counters to ranged magical weapons. But there are also counters to ranged conventional weapons, especially purely ballistic bullets. For example the ward the Andregi used to desintegrate bullets in the battle of the gate. Maybe I did not get the point. Please explain.

        Let me try it this way. Blocking a ballistic attack like an arrow, sword or bullet is a straight force prospect. It takes X energy to block Y force attack. The ward at the gate was VERY powerful and blocked the bullets. None of the personal armor we have seen the Andregi use could do the same.

        A magical negation attack does not have that linear relationship. That is why Daniel had to redesign his mortars. Blocking the rounds from triggering was an order of magnitude easier to do than blocking the lava that happened after they triggered. Otherwise Daniel could have just kept using regular mortar rounds until the ward collapsed.

        But keep in mind, the mortars work by summoning ordinary lava. I suspect a ward that banishes lava would be an order of magnitude more effective (per amount of mana) than the wards the Andregi used to defend their camp. So putting all your eggs in a magical attack is just asking the enemy to custom design a magical defense.

        Bullets are an advantage because they are a purely physical attack that requires no magic to use, minimal training and excellent range. Magic cannot easily create a mana cheap counter to physical attacks — and guns operate very well at range and do not require exceptional natural gifts or extensive training by the user like a sword would. They are a highly effective weapon that is likely to stay effective for non-magical troops.

        I do agree that issuing “some” magical attack weapons makes a lot of sense. But i am just not seeing a reason to expect guns to drop sharply in effectiveness.

        ——————————————————————

        “Her elite assassin troops HAVE all these wards and enchanted armor.”

        Sorry, but no, they did not. Magic is costly to them. They warded their mages against threats they thought likely, that is, arrows. Once guns become common, their calculation will change.
        When magic peoples go all out, Daniel’s guns fail. Try stopping a dwarven golem with bullets.

        They did ward vs guns. Or to be precise they warded vs arrows. But I cannot imagine that the ward vs guns would be any different. At the end of the day, they are both stopping a fast moving physical object that does most of its damage by momentum. I am sure they can optimize a ward a bit to be better vs guns, but if they have not been able to block or seriously impede the use or arrows, what makes you think they can do so for guns.

        And it has been well acknowledged in the series that the guns are not suitable threats vs the more powerful threats like golems, dragons, greater beasts, gods. I suspect they are only a minor threat to giants or trolls as well.

        Bigger guns were built to handle the bigger threats, but none of the guns Daniel has built are a serious threat to a greater beast. There are some indications that there is a fairly low upper limit to the damage guns can deliver. It was clearly noted that Daniel still needs to build some effective weapons vs greater beasts. Guns are clearly not the be all and end all weapon. But they are clearly a lot more effective than swords, spears or bows as a weapon for ordinary troops AND as a heavy weapon vs somewhat tougher threats like trolls or giants or those skeletal golems that attacked with the undead army.

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      10. “Let me try it this way. Blocking a ballistic attack like an arrow, sword or bullet is a straight force prospect. It takes X energy to block Y force attack.”

        Yes, if you insist on actually stopping the projectile this will be true. But do you need to? Which is related to:
        ” The ward at the gate was VERY powerful and blocked the bullets. ”

        IIRC they turned them to dust. And what else can you do? Deflect the bullets, banish them, teleport them behind you …

        “So putting all your eggs in a magical attack is just asking the enemy to custom design a magical defense.”

        Well, putting all your eggs into one physical weapon is just asking the enemy …

        “Magic cannot easily create a mana cheap counter to physical attacks”

        Now look at development, as it is definitely possible to counter bullets. The counters are getting better, at the rate mana supplies are getting better, or even quicker. Are guns getting better at that rate? Unlikely. Making the force magic stronger decreases the time in the barrel.
        And will they hit an upper limit? Yes they will. The bullet cannot be arbitrarily fast. It has to travel through air. And recoil is also limited. The shooter has to survive firing his weapon without injury. Can you work around that? To an extent. But this will stop making sense.

        “Bullets are an advantage because they are a purely physical attack that requires no magic to use,”

        How is that different from a suitably enchanted sword, for example?

        “minimal training and excellent range”

        Yes, but basically a weapon must work.

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      11. Have to admit Oliver that I think we are almost saying the same thing, but using completely different words.

        We both agree that guns today are a reasonable effective weapon vs moderate threats. We both agree that guns benefit from some degree of “novelty” effect as the enemy has not designed custom defenses against guns.

        I think where we differ is in two aspects
        1) You clearly believe that defensive wards and/or magical armor can easily be made a lot more effective vs guns.

        2) You also seem to believe that enchanted ammo is the right approach to counter those more effective defenses. Ammo that explodes, burns, curses, or otherwise causes some additional nasty effect. There is also some suggestion that bigger ammo (or weapons in the case of swords) allows for a more powerful magical effect.

        With regards to #1, I think we have to agree to disagree. Outside of highly elite troops like demigods, I just do not see troops being issued magical defenses that make guns mostly useless. If they had that capability, they would have made their troops immune to ordinary swords and arrows. Most of the defenders do not have magical weapons, but have clearly been effective (if not great) and killing off enemy troops. There has been no evidence at all of even elite troops being able to attack with impunity – and they could have destroyed the defenders easily if they had significant numbers of nearly immune troops. The only example was a very powerful ward tied to a specific location (the gate). That implies pretty strongly that really powerful defenses are expensive to create and thus have to be rare.

        I think we agree on #2 that a variety of more magical attacks is clearly superior to the basic gun. They are more flexible and more powerful. That is why Daniel and his key agents can deliver that through innate magical abilities or a few weapons Daniel has handed out. We both seem to agree that Daniel could recreate his pistol with some easy manual controls and significantly buff the combat capability of his troops. But the author has mentioned multiple times that the troops are not sophisticated enough to deal with a more complex weapon than your basic gun. While I am not sure I agree with that statement, that statement has been clearly communicated multiple times in the book, precisely I suspect to explain why Daniel is not issuing his awesome pistol to everybody. Not clear if that will change as his troops get more experienced and comfortable with magic.

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      12. “You clearly believe that defensive wards and/or magical armor can easily be made a lot more effective vs guns.”

        Not easily. But can be. And weapons are usually at the high end of what technology can do.
        I am afraid and I must apologize for that I have not explicitly and clearly stated something:
        Daniel’s monopoly on factory stones, power stones and mana links will be broken. I am talking about time after that.

        “But the author has mentioned multiple times that the troops are not sophisticated enough to deal with a more complex weapon than your basic gun”

        For part of his troops he is likely right. Not for the elves for sure, though. That of cause raises the question why the elves don’t complain. Possibly because an elf with a mana link doesn’t need a gun. Time will tell.

        “I think we agree on #2 that a variety of more magical attacks is clearly superior to the basic gun.”

        To that I have to add that guns limit warhead design. Warheads would have to withstand being fired out of a gun, have to have the shape of a bullet and need to be reasonably light.
        And if Daniel wants to keep not needing ammo, the warheads must also come out of a small mobile factory stone within a short amount of time.
        Daniel has chosen a gun because R&D was partially done and the weapon is familiar to him.

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    3. Your argument is flawed. You are assuming that the power reserve for the guns and the armor are the same size. About a foot of metal will stop all but armor-piercing bullets. Your can still shoot thru if you hit the same spot enough times. So to can Daniels guns punch though most armor. The dwarves are the only ones who have been both hostile to Daniel and had Shields that held up against bullets. This is likely because of metal strength and not magic.

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      1. Daniel will want to keep the monopoly on the power stones. But it cannot last for eternity. Sooner or later somebody will use them for defensive purposes.

        “The dwarves are the only ones who have been both hostile to Daniel and had Shields that held up against bullets” – That is just not true. The Andregi camps’ shields stopped Daniel’s rounds just fine.

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      2. True enough, but the fact that their ‘great shields’ did not save them kinda means that your focus on ‘defenses are best’ is a perfect as their shields were.

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      3. Like you said, “What wins, guns or armor? It seems to me the answer, if magic is involved, is armor.”
        And, “It seems to me that with guns Daniel has chosen the solution with the least long term potential.”

        Greater Power to Inflict Damage, Greater Power to Resist/Avoid Damage, a cycle as old as evolution.

        You really cannot say one is “for sure” better than the other, only “currently,” and you best be able to switch when it cycles around again. Neither is “long term,” definitely better.

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      4. I’m going to have to go with guns winning this one. The typical shield spell covers a set area and the size of its manna pool determines its strength, taking a bullet propelled with the same amount of manna that was put into the shield the bullet is going to win, as the shield is spread out over a predetermined area and the bullet only needs to penetrate one tiny spot. The shield may be able to recharge its self and this power level would determine how many repeated shots it could take before failure. And by repeated shots lets escalate this by 50 years and put it into a mini-gun designed to be handheld at 3000 rpm really, how long is the shield going to hold. Also the guns Danial makes are not designed for mage killing they are made for mass combat aganst semi normal opponents, a garden hose for spraying bullets. modern machine guns fire at around 600 rpm, if Danial went with a Metal storm configuration where the bullets are already in the barrel (which is basically what the bullet summoning does, he would just need to up the speed or have multiple delivery systems in one gun) the rpm goes up dramatically (estimated 1 million rpm for the metal storm) granted hes not going to one hand this. and i would like to point out that a KEW is basically a gun that pushes the bullet at hyper sonic speeds. I’m just saying that overwhelming firepower is my choice over turting.

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      5. “The typical shield spell covers a set area and the size of its manna pool determines its strength”

        Now we would need the exact physics of force magic. Anyway, let’s go with the approach

        “a bullet propelled with the same amount of manna that was put into the shield the bullet is going to win”

        Well, no.

        First, efficiency

        * a bullet travels through a tight tube -> friction
        * a bullet travels through air -> friction

        Second, effectiveness

        * you don’t need to stop the bullet, slowing it down a lot does the job
        * deforming the bullet will also do the job

        Third, alternative methods

        * deflecting the bullet will also do the job

        “The shield may be able to recharge its self and this power level would determine how many repeated shots it could take before failure.”

        Why would a shield be harder to recharge than a gun? Also the gun has only the length of the barrel to accelerate the bullet. A shield is limited only by inherent range of the magic.

        “estimated 1 million rpm for the metal storm”

        That isn’t a gun. That’s a rocket engine.

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    4. Oliver, my issue is that you are advocating for the more passive option. By focusing on making defense, Daniel makes his troops live longer not get better at killing the enemy. The enemy will adapt, as you have been saying, but to his armor instead.
      War is about adaption, and the enemy will adapt no matter what you do. By focusing on armor, you extend the fight, meaning the enemy has more time to adapt on the field, or send information back to develop a counter to you armor. This was seen in the andregi shifting their weapons against his shield. They knew their attacks weren’t working, and Daniel commented that they were stealing energy. If he hadn’t killed then before the did something with that energy, he would have been killed. As such, we see the active approach of focusing on attacks is superior to the passive approach if focusing defense.

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      1. This is a major misunderstanding. I am saying that Daniel needs to concentrate on the weapons most likely to pierce armor, not on armor for his troops. I am merely saying that in a world with magic the competition between guns on the one hand and swords & arrows on the other hand will end at the opposite outcome of our world.

        The race between attack and defense is eternal. But some weapons and types of weapons do lose out and are replaced. And I am saying that magical armor is different from physical armor that a replacement will not happen.

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  5. Does this mean he’ll finally get around to testing those enhancement spells he thought he had access to (back in Black Coven, I think?), but didn’t want to test on himself first in case of problems?

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    1. I think the main vulnerability he is worrying about is curses or illusions, not bodily attack.

      Daniel is not doing this out of niciety. If a guard is sure to die, but will die noisily, guaranteeing an alarm, that will be better than a guard with a 50% chance of survival but a silent death in the failure case. His own assesment of the guard force is that it is insufficient as a fighting force. Hence they are primarily watchmen, not fighters.

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  6. I wonder whether the dark elves have their own plant species imported from svartalfheim, suited for that particular light profile…

    I would advise Daniel to fix the wall and moat by the indirect route; instead of trying to gift it away, he ought to offer to do it in exchange for something he already has – the Harbour District. Nobody else wants (or has the time) to manage it, but they will recognize that it has value and could be traded – and Daniel have proven wall-building and ice-melting skills. He could offer to do it in exchange for every contender’s seal of approval on him taking building rights and taxation rights in the area.

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    1. This city will not stand another siege. Its supply route is too vulnerable until spring comes and thaws the river (if that will happen at all – nobody in Kozalin can know)

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  7. Daniel has just been given a challenge where he needs to repeat a lot of the same tasks over time — build a lot of fortified shelters in the dock area, repair a lot of walls, build a lot of APCs for his troops. These are all areas where he was really not able to use spell factories before. Sounds like these tasks will give him a new incentive to figure out how to factory these more complex devices or spend several days doing repetitive magical grunt work. I suppose he can also train his coven to do some of these tasks, but do not see it happening. Too much depends on his sorcery.

    If he does, that sets up Daniel well to extend his magical defenses very quickly to the rest of the city. if he cannot, then his base of operations will never be able to realistically defend much more than the dock area.

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  8. I really want to read thrall, I love this series in general. However, I’m almost skittish of that plan due to the fact that I may have to wait 3 years for the fifth installment.

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    1. At this point, I’m guessing it’ll be, like, an hour before the actual book is released; close enough that I’ll miss it due to being in another timezone and just wake up in the morning with both the preview out and the book in my kindle library. Kind of a waste of suspension-building from my perspective, but then people who have already preordered are not the target audience; people who might forget buying are. (Got to get a lot of buyers in a short timeframe to get on [trending] lists and the like and get a positive feedback loop.)

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