Thrall 3

Making more wolfen turned out to be a tricky problem. Originally I’d hoped that my flesh sorcery would be up to the job, provided I could get a decent look at the magic involved. Cerise had helpfully bent her power-stealing abilities to the task of collecting a sample of felwolf magic, which we’d picked up a bit over a week ago while we were testing out our new flight abilities. So I sent for a couple of wolfen volunteers, and settled in to spend an evening comparing their physiology to the magic in Cerise’s sample.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Thanks to my mana sorcery it was easy enough to figure out what was in the sample, but the important parts were more mystical than biological. My flesh sorcery was good at moving atoms around, but not so great at inventing new forms of innate magic. If I wanted to duplicate the enchantment that made the wolfen I’d have to start by turning some poor sap into a miniature felwolf, and then spend a few months experimenting on him.

Yeah, not going there. People already thought I was an evil wizard. No need to prove them right.

It was Cerise who finally pointed out that we already had a way to bypass that problem. The next morning we pooled our efforts to render a sample of felwolf essence into physical form, and then headed down to the kitchen.

Avilla examined the vial full of dark, syrupy liquid dubiously. “This doesn’t look very appetizing.”

“You don’t need very much,” Cerise said. “A teaspoon of that stuff is about what you’d get from a felwolf heart with your normal ritual.”

“Oh, so it’s concentrated? That might work, then. Give me a moment.”

She carefully measured out a few drops of liquid, and diluted it with a cup of milk. Then she sniffed it like a wine snob sampling some exotic vintage, and tasted a tiny sip.

“Strong, but not unpleasant,” she declared. “There’s a bit of an aftertaste, but I can fix that. Use it in a sauce over red meat, or as seasoning for a hearty stew. I suppose I could serve feasts to make more wolfen now and then, if you can supply me with enough essence. Will that take a lot of hunting?”

“Oh, I can make more,” I explained. “My mana sorcery is good enough for that. I just couldn’t quite make the jump from creating felwolf essence to transforming people safely. So we figured I’ll just make you a bottle of the stuff that refills itself automatically, and then you can make us as many wolfen as we want.”

She stared at me incredulously for a moment. Then she giggled, and shook her head.

“Only you, Daniel. Do you realize how precious an ingredient like that is for me? An unlimited supply of even one essence will make me the most powerful hearth witch in Europe.”

“I think you were already there, honeydew,” Cerise told her. “Have you shown Daniel your new trick?”

“Nope,” I answered for her. “I haven’t been around much. Have you started animating the utensils or something?”

“Better,” Cerise said. “Come on, show him already!”

“Alright, alright, if you insist. Really, it’s not that impressive. I’ve just been deepening my claim on our home.”

Avilla took a step back into the cabinets that lined the wall behind her, and vanished. Just like a dryad stepping into her tree.

“That’s pretty cool,” I observed. “Can you still hear us like that?”

“Yes,” came Avilla’s voice from out in the dining room. I turned to find her standing on the other side of the breakfast bar, with a proud little smile on her lips.

“Traveling, too? How far can you go?”

“This is my limit right now. But my reach grows a little further every day. Give me a few weeks, and I’ll be stepping across the palace and back whenever I like.”

“Normally that takes about twenty years of daily rituals, and it doesn’t reach more than a dozen paces from the hearth,” Cerise pointed out. “My girl’s already stronger than her granny ever was.”

Avilla blushed prettily. “Thank you, kitten. Just remember that raw power isn’t everything. I have a long way to go before I can match granny’s subtle hand with enchantments, and I have no one to learn from. A few more hearth witches have turned up among the refugees as they trickle in, but so far they’ve all been young apprentices like Mari.”

“At least you’ve still got your recipe book,” Cerise pointed out. “Hey, Daniel, think we could swing back north to pick up honeydew’s implements sometime soon?”

I winced. “Ouch. I’d love to, but that would probably take three days with the Intrepid. I’ve got some ideas for a faster flying machine, but I need to come up with a way to supply our troops with skimmers before I can take time for that.”

“It’s alright, Daniel,” Avilla assured me. “To be honest, when we left the house I didn’t think we’d ever be back. I’ve already started to make replacements, and with the power you’ve given me it won’t take nearly as long as when granny made hers. I’m sure rescuing villages is a much better use of the airship’s time.”

“I guess there’s no telling where we might find an old granny who’s really an experienced witch,” Cerise pointed out. “Just don’t hesitate to tell us if you realize you’re missing something you can’t replace, okay? We’ll make sure you’re taken care of, sweetie.”

Avilla walked through the bar like it wasn’t there, and pulled Cerise and I both into a group hug.

“You’re too good to me, both of you,” she said. “Thank you. That means a lot to me. But really, I’m fine. In fact, I’m going to have some fun surprises for the Yule feast.”

“The what?”

“Do they not have that where you’re from?” Cerise asked. “It’s the biggest holiday of the year, and it’s only a few weeks away. Come to think of it, we should arrange something for the troops too. It would be good for morale.”

“My to-do list never seems to get any shorter,” I said. “At this rate I’ll have to invent time travel just to keep up.”

“Maybe Elin can help with that,” Cerise joked. “The dryad groves are practically turning into faerie realms with all the power we’re feeding them, and I’m sure you’ve heard the stories about how strange time can be in faerie. Of course, knowing Pelagia I doubt you’d ever get any work done there.”

“Yeah, somehow I don’t think that would turn out very well,” I agreed.

“Then again, I could go for a few years of banging hot nature spirits in between our weekly disasters.”

“Slut,” Avilla said affectionately. “You’d spend your whole life in bed if you could get away with it.”

“You complaining?” Cerise pulled her lover into a kiss. Avilla squeaked in surprise, but didn’t put up much resistance until Cerise’s tail started to snake up her thigh. Then she pulled away, and swatted Cerise on the butt.

“Stop that! I have work to do, kitten. Go play with your dryads if you’re so worked up.”

Cerise pulled away with a giggle. “Nah, I think I’ll seduce Elin. She’s been getting wrapped up in her books again, so someone needs to remind her that she’s not alone anymore. You’re done with me for now, right Daniel?”

“I don’t know, I’m tempted to get in on this Elin seduction business.”

“You’d better save your strength for tonight,” she advised. “You don’t want to disappoint Pelagia.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right. Go on and have your fun, then. I can take this from here. Avilla, I’ll have Gronir handle all the organizing for wolfen recruits, so you won’t need to do anything but the cooking. I’m sure you two can work out a schedule, and you can add in some of the maids if you want.”

“Alright, Daniel. With a large essence supply I can make a much stronger recipe, so it won’t take long to start seeing results.”

That was one problem out of the way. Could I do something about the other transformations and enhancements I’d been thinking of while I was at it? There was an interesting personal enchantment I’d never used, that would make the subject a lot stronger and more durable than a normal human. But laying enchantments on people is a more delicate process than burning them into a piece of equipment, and I’d never had the luxury of spending a whole day on something like that.

A day of work just to make a single soldier twice as strong wasn’t worth it, but maybe I could make a device that would do the work for me? Something like the factory enchantments I’d been building to make guns and mortar shells? That might work, but the idea of using it on people made me a little nervous. I’d never done anything quite like that before, and a mistake could have nasty side effects.

So I decided to start out with something a lot less complicated. Could I make a device that would apply a simple cosmetic change to the wearer? There were a lot of those I could do with my flesh magic.

An amulet that changed the wearer’s hair color was trivial, but that was just a magical dye job. Making it change their natural color was more complicated, and I found that it was best to give the magic some time to work instead of trying to make the change instant. There were also some interesting complications, like making it smart enough to realize when it was done instead of just re-running the transformation forever. Making it recognize when the wearer already had the desired hair color also seemed like a good idea. Stuff like that turned out to be the hardest part of the exercise, but even so it barely took me an hour.

What would be a good step up from that? Something involving more tissue, and maybe a mass change, but not a full-body effect?

I snickered at the first idea that came to mind. Why not? Avilla had already told me there was a demand for it.

My kitchen goddess was rather bemused when I stopped by her domain again late in the afternoon to present her with a collection of little gold amulets.

“Ask, and ye shall receive,” I said grandly. “But I want you to keep these under lock and key, and be careful about how they get used. Some of them could cause problems if the girls get careless.”

She eyed the handful of amulets cautiously. “How mysterious. What do they do?”

“They’re transformation amulets. Each one has a different effect, but they’re pretty simple to use. Here, let’s start with this one. See the little glowing crystal? It changes the wearer’s hair color to match whatever is showing.”

“Oh, my! That will be very useful,” she exclaimed, taking the amulet and studying it intently. “How do you set the color? Some sort of intent control?”

“Yes, but you have to feed it a little magic while you’re setting it. I did it that way so you can have the maids use it, and they won’t accidentally change the settings. It takes about ten minutes to work, but once it’s done that’s their natural color.”

“Marvelous. I’m surprised you had time to make something so frivolous, though.”

“I’m working my way up to more complicated things,” I told her. “I just figured I might as well make the test pieces something you can use. This next one does the same thing, only with skin tone. Notice it’s got a little ‘S’ engraved on the back, and the other one has an ‘H’? It takes a little longer to work, and you don’t want to take it off before it’s done or the color might not come out even. If you keep it on after it’s finished with the basic change it’ll go on to remove freckles, moles and small scars, so if you’ve got someone who likes her freckles you’ll want to be careful with that.”

“Alright, that will be handy for making some of the girls look exotic. What about the other three?”

I grinned, and held up one of the amulets. “This one makes the wearer’s breasts bigger.”

She giggled. “I knew it!”

“Yeah, I had to go there, didn’t I? It’ll also fix some common problems, like removing stretch marks and making them match if they aren’t quite the same size. It’s a lot slower than the color change amulets, though. It takes about half an hour to make a noticeable difference, but it just keeps working for as long as you wear it. Don’t let anyone wear it to bed, or they’ll end up way too big.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, Daniel. We wouldn’t want to upset Tina.”

“We also don’t want anyone to get suffocated by her own breasts,” I said dryly. “Seriously, most people aren’t going to need more than a couple of hours. But I know women can be picky about these things, and it could take some experimenting to get it just right, so this amulet does the opposite. Notice the engraving says ‘B-’, and the growth amulet says ‘B+’. That way the ones who get carried away can get back down to a reasonable size without having to bother me.”

“How thoughtful. You know, Daniel, that’s one of the things I love about you. You always try to think these things through, and make them work out right for everyone.”

“Um, thanks, I guess? What else would I do?”

“Most wizards would say that people are cheaper than magic,” she pointed out. “Letting a few fools die in mishaps is a lot easier than trying to make your enchantments flawless. But we all know you don’t think that way.”

“No, I have this strange idea that lives are actually valuable,” I replied.

It really got to me sometimes, how little anyone else around here seemed to care about that. I know life is cheap in preindustrial societies, but I don’t have to like it.

“Anyway, this last one is going to need special handling. It turns the wearer into a catgirl.”

A breathless squeak from the other side of the kitchen informed me that we had an audience. A couple of the maids were putting away a load of groceries, and the pantry was easily within earshot.

Avilla smiled indulgently, and raised her voice. “Did you see a mouse, Cami? I hope so, otherwise I’ll have to punish you for eavesdropping again.”

“I’m sorry, Miss Avilla!” One of the maids exclaimed. “I didn’t mean it! I just, I mean, I couldn’t help myself.”

“I know how much you want to be like Tina,” Avilla said. “But you still overstepped. Finish your work, and then go to the training room and wait for me.”

“Yes, Miss Avilla!”

I thought about intervening, but the breathless anticipation in the girl’s reply changed my mind. Instead I raised a sound barrier around the two of us.

“Must not be much of a punishment if she’s looking forward to it that much,” I said.

“Ten swats with the paddle,” Avilla admitted. “Slow, with lots of attention in between, and I usually can’t resist playing with them a little afterwards. I know, I’m a softie.”

“It seems to be working out for you,” I said with a chuckle. “So, anyway. I tuned the catgirl transformation to go with your idea of making exotic maids, so it still leaves them looking pretty close to human. They’ll have the ears and tail, but no fur to speak of. It’s also going to give them better hearing, a much better sense of smell, faster reflexes and enough strength to arm wrestle your average soldier. But it takes most of a day to finish the transformation, and it’s important to keep the amulet on the whole time. If the process ever gets interrupted somehow don’t let them put the amulet back on, and get them to me as soon as you can.”

She frowned. “How dangerous is that?”

“Oh, it isn’t going to kill them or anything. It’s just that the amulet isn’t smart enough to pick back up where it left off, so they could end up with a distorted transformation that doesn’t work right. I don’t think anyone wants to get stuck with an extra pair of cat ears, or a nose so keen she can’t stand to get near the kitchen.”

“I see. That’s not so bad, then. Does it also give them Tina’s, ah, proportions?”

“No, it just gives them some extra physical fitness. I figured anyone who wants to go catgirl can use the other amulets first, to get the cosmetic changes right. Oh, but that’s an important safety issue. I designed these enchantments to work on human women, and they aren’t necessarily safe for anyone else. The wolfen should be fine, but no elves or catgirls. Or you, for that matter. Not that I can see why you’d want to change anything about yourself, since you’re already perfect.”

She playfully swatted my arm. “Oh, you! Don’t start with the flattery when I’m supposed to be keeping my hands off of you. Shouldn’t you be heading down to the grove soon?”

“I know, I know. I’m just going to go change first. What do you wear to a revel, anyway?”

“Something that’s easy to take off?”

“No doubt.”

I turned to go, but she suddenly pulled me back and kissed me.

“Thank you for the gifts, Daniel. I’ll put them to good use.”

I headed back to my room with a smile.

What do you wear to a nature spirit sex party? I pondered that question for a few minutes as I looked over my wardrobe. Avilla had been adding new outfits when I wasn’t looking, and I found that I now had quite a selection. Comfortable lounging robes. Practical work clothes. Fancy formal outfits. There was something appropriate for any normal social function.

Hmm.

Mythology paints nymphs as simple nature spirits, spending all their time dancing naked in woodland groves and leading satyrs on giggling chases through the wilderness. But for all that they seemed to spend half their time naked, the women in Pelagia’s grove tried to be more sophisticated than that. When they did bother with clothes they favored surprisingly elaborate gowns, and Pelagia was always bragging about how refined they were supposed to be. Her ‘girls’ were immortal nymphs and their nearly ageless companions, and in a thousand years even the most flighty of creatures could learn a thing or two.

In the end I decided to dress for a formal ball. That meant a shirt and pants instead of the robes mages usually favored, and a tailored jacket to go over it. The tails on the jacket took some getting used to, and I had to get a maid to help arrange the braid properly. But at least Varmland didn’t seem to have ties.

I knew I’d made the right choice when I reached the entrance to the dryad complex, and found a nymph wearing what had to be a formal dress waiting for me. With a skirt that almost reached her knees and a neckline that barely showed a hint of cleavage, it was the most conservative thing I’d ever seen a nymph wear.

She was still stunning, of course. The thin silk clung to an hourglass figure that would put any centerfold model back home to shame, and her long mane of curly chestnut hair was done up in a complicated arrangement that framed her face and left her delicate neck bare. She even wore earrings, dangly twists of gold set with big green gemstones that matched her eyes.

She favored me with a brilliant smile. “I bid you welcome to an evening of celebration, my lord. May I escort you to the festival?”

I struggled to remember her name, but luckily it came to me.

“Certainly, Xenia. I take it Pelagia has big plans for the evening?”

I offered her my arm, and she took it without making any attempt to get closer.

“Of course, my lord. We haven’t had such cause to celebrate since before the Grove of Bloody Thorns was properly formed. All our best entertainers are going to be part of the show.”

The door I’d come through opened onto the bottom floor of one of the agricultural areas, between the habitats I’d built for Pelagia’s Grove of Bloody Thorns and Corinna’s Fangs of the Forest. I hadn’t been here in weeks, and I found that the dryads had turned it into a garden at some point. The overhead lights were turned off, but there was a grassy path lit by floating balls of green and blue faerie fire. On either side of the path were patches of flowers between tall bushes, all of which had colorful blossoms of their own. It almost looked natural, except that I knew there had been nothing here but bare dirt when I built the place.

“Very nice,” I said. “But doesn’t this make things difficult for the farmers?”

“They use the other doors,” she replied. “This one is closest to your palace, so Pelagia and Corinna decided to make it look nice. Now please, my lord, no more talk about practical things. Tonight is a time for relaxation and enjoyment, not work.”

“Alright. What would you like to talk about?”

The path crossed a little stone bridge in the deceptively deep stream Elin and I had carved out between the two groves, and I saw that someone had made a few additions to the structure. A mass of vines grew up around the posts at either end of the bridge, and twined together atop them to form miniature tree shapes adorned with tiny balls of faerie fire.

We crossed the bridge, and started down the path to Pelagia’s grove.

“Well, Nomiki wanted me to thank you for convincing Lady Elin that our offers of massage services aren’t just a plot to seduce her.”

“You’re welcome. I think you had a good idea there. That girl seriously needs to learn how to relax. Although I doubt Nomiki would pass up a chance if it came up. I’ve seen how she looks at Elin behind her back.”

Xenia giggled. “Well, of course not. Lady Elin is quite beautiful, and she helped you build our new home. We’re going to seduce her quite thoroughly one day. But it’s clear that she isn’t ready for that yet, so for now we’re simply working to get her comfortable with us. Thankfully your other ladies are more open about such things.”

“Oh?”

“Oh, yes. Avilla asked for a demonstration a few days ago, and she was a lot of fun. I think she’s working out a plan to have us ambush Cerise and pamper her into a pliable puddle of bliss. And Tina is just a joy! She came wandering down here wanting to meet everyone, and spent the better part of a day just visiting. There’s not an ounce of human hesitation in that one.”

“No, she’s pretty enthusiastic. She told me once that if she’s going to be one of us sinful heathens, she wants to try out all the sins and figure out which ones she likes. I can’t imagine her reaction to some of the things you girls do, though.”

“She was fascinated by the restraints and costumes,” Xenia confided. “I put on a little show with Hela, just some light bondage and paddling, and she couldn’t take her eyes off of us. It was adorable.”

We came to the end of the path. It opened out into a grassy clearing, surrounded by the tall trees of the grove. A crowd of beautiful women filled the space, all of them dressed for a party. Lean, athletic dryads in miniskirts and halter tops, their weapons put away for the evening. Taller, more mature hamadryads mingling with the outrageously curvy nymphs, all dressed in formal gowns like Xenia’s. The naga I’d seen once before, who was draped in so many gold necklaces, bracelets, earrings and waist chains that they almost hid the fact that she was naked.

Pelagia emerged from the crowd, and enveloped me in a warm hug. “Welcome, Daniel! I’m so glad you could make it. Ladies,” she said, turning and raising her voice. “Our guest of honor has arrived.”

The murmur of conversation died instantly, and the whole crowd turned to face me. Then they all curtsied in unison, and smiled at me.

“Welcome, my lord.”

Pelagia claimed my free arm, and smothered it between her soft breasts as she went up on tiptoe to murmur in my ear. “Every one of my girls is eager to serve you in any way you desire.”

I couldn’t help it. I was hard as a rock already.

“But first, let us show off our less predictable talents,” she went on, louder. “Come, we’ve prepared a place of honor for you. Have a seat, and sample our wine while you enjoy the show. Xenia will ensure your comfort.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Xenia led me to a large cushion surrounded by soft grass, where a pair of dryads waited with wine and a bowl of fruit. They settled me on the cushion, with a dryad curled up on either side of me. Xenia settled herself behind me, and they pushed me back to recline with my head on her mountainous breasts.

“Wine, milord?” One of the dryads asked.

“Or food?” The other said.

“Both,” I replied. “But go easy on the wine. I wouldn’t want to overdo it, and miss something. ”

“Of course, milord,” said the dryad with the fruit bowl. “Just relax, and let us take care of you.”

I started to say something else, and she popped a grape in my mouth. Then wine girl leaned in to hold a goblet to my lips, incidentally pressing her perky little breasts into my shoulder.

Well, guess I wasn’t going to need my hands here. I let them settle around the dryads’ waists, and they practically purred at the contact. Fruit girl fed me an orange wedge.

Around us the rest of the crowd was taking seats on the grass, facing a low wooden stage. Pelagia took to the stage as the crowd settled, and looked out over the group with a brilliant smile.

“My dear friends and beloved sisters, we are gathered here this evening to celebrate a momentous occasion. For the first time since the fall of Olympus, our grove stands on hallowed ground!”

There was a burst of applause, and several cheers. Pelagia waited for the noise to die down before she continued.

“For ages we nymphs were playthings of the gods. They lent us a faint reflection of their power, feeding our cravings for protection and support. But they had little care for their toys, and we often suffered under their rule.

“Then came the fall, and for long centuries we were left to fend for ourselves. Hunted by men and gods alike for our beauty and compliant nature, with nothing to defend us but our wits. Each of us has known the bonds of slavery at least once, and for many of us the only escape was the mortality of our captors.

“We survived as best we could, and over the centuries of our exile we learned to work together and hide ourselves. Our dryads mastered the warrior arts, becoming fierce protectors as well as beloved companions. We turned our grove into a hidden refuge, and took in a few kindred spirits who had magic of their own to contribute to our defense. But our safety has always been precarious, dependent on walls of misdirection woven from the dying echoes of the magic we once held.

“When Fimbulwinter fell, I feared it was the end of us.”

She bowed her head, and was silent for a long moment.

“But now, our long exile is at an end,” she went on. “For we have a new patron. Not some arrogant, uncaring god who will ignore and abuse us, nor yet some feeble wizard fumbling to bind us with scraps of power no stronger than our own. No, our new lord is a man of rare wisdom, steeped in hidden lore and wielding the power of a demigod. A man who greets us as comrades instead of pleasure slaves, and shares the fruits of his mysteries with any who pledge their loyalty. A man who is already as ageless as we are, and with our aid may one day become more than a man.”

She raised her arms in a triumphant gesture. “And see what he has wrought! Our refuge now stands within the mightiest fortress in Europe, surrounded by walls that could withstand even the Thunderer’s mighty hammer. Hard men and subtle elves stand ready to defend us while we turn our magic back to its true purpose, nurturing our hidden fastness of verdant life. In this sorcerous realm the very sun and rain come and go at our command, thanks to the implements our lord has gifted us.”

She knelt, and placed one hand flat on the stage. “Then we have the final miracle. Our new lord’s limitless magic floods the land and waters of our grove, filling us all with a warm glow of protective strength. Even our old masters never offered us such power, and this time there is no hidden corruption or terrible price to be paid. We nymphs will soon be restored to the station we once held, as demigoddesses of nature’s bounty. Only this time we have the will and the wisdom to use our power for more than idle games. Our dryads are fast blossoming into huntresses of fell power, fit to contend with even the strongest of monsters. Muriel and her sisters have already turned their pool into a little faerie realm, and in a week we’ll be ready to do the same with the entire grove. Even dear Renshitrinashlit has benefited, through the bonds of sisterhood we all share with her.”

Pelagia stood, and I saw that there were tears in her eyes now. “My sisters, our time of troubles is finally over. Tonight we celebrate the birth of a new era for the Grove of Bloody Thorns. We celebrate safety and healing, the end of tears and the beginning of new joy. We celebrate the end of our lonely struggle for survival, and the companionship of strong new allies who stand ready to protect us. But most of all, we celebrate the indulgent embrace of our new lord, who assures me that any nymph who seeks a personal bond with him shall be well and truly conquered before morning!”

There was a round of laughter and catcalls at that.

“Just remember to wait your turn!” Pelagia went on. “Especially all you performers. No trying to sneak in a quickie before your show. Now, let’s demonstrate for our new lord what the Thorns can do!”

A band started up, laying down a smoky beat with drums and some kind of wind instrument. A tall nymph with long black hair swayed onto the stage as Pelagia stepped down, dancing sinuously to the beat. Three dryads followed her up, and worked their way into a circle around her. Then the nymph opened her mouth, and began to sing with the most beautiful voice I’d ever heard.

I leaned back into Xenia’s breasts, and let the dryad with the goblet feed me another sip of wine. This promised to be an interesting evening.

87 thoughts on “Thrall 3

  1. Nice! I’m looking forward to the rest of the story, though I suspect we won’t see any more details of the revel (not that such would likely advance the story anyway).

    One minor nit, “Avilla walked through the bar like it wasn’t there, and pulled Cerise and I both into a group hug”, that should be “and pulled Cerise and me”. If Avilla was just pulling in Daniel he wouldn’t say “I”, he’d say “me” (“pulled me into a hug”), so he shouldn’t say it when it’s himself and someone else. I’ve noticed this grammatical tic in the other books and it regularly jars me out of the story.

    Anyway, really looking forward to getting the whole book! Thanks for the previews:-).

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    1. A fair point on proper grammar, but recall that this is from first person, as such, you have a fallible narrator. I had a similar criticism towards Garon Whited for a scene in Nightlord: Void, where he’d taken all of the subtlety out of a reference and just beat us over the head with a blunt object. His response was simply that what we’re reading is in essence his MC’s journal and human foibles are to be expected.

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  2. I get the feeling that empire building is going to be a theme in this book. Daniel commits to fortifying and upgrading the docks last chapter. This chapter he lays the foundation for rapidly augmenting all his soldiers with powerful physical augmentations. Last book he mass produced weapons that require minimal training. Once he has a mass produced armor solution, nothing would prevent Daniel from rapidly building a very large – and very tough – human based army. And the power vacuum in the city makes it fairly easy to recruit if he promises shelter, food, coin and leadership — all of which Daniel should be able to provide.

    Logistics (aka – food) is still an issue, but it is solvable provided the Dryads and Nymphs can scale their power to cover other buildings.

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  3. Thx for the medication William, its just enough to keep away the shakes.

    Any info on if or when Thrall will be out in Audio would be great!? As far as I have been able to see Thrall will be released on amazon on the first of December but there is no mention of any audio version.

    Audible Is the absolute worst when it comes to advertisement or any kind of working timetable for their releases. So I am still hoping its just that they suck and not that the audioversion will be release some time next year or some such.

    Would be great to know so one can plan purchases it being December and all.

    YS.

    Your addict O.M. 😉

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    1. As I’ve said before. Audiobook production takes about two months. Seeing as last we heard about audiobook information from him he was still editing, you can expect the audiobook in January or February (if he got the ebook to the guy when he finished editing asap). I don’t think we are seeing an audiobook for 2018.(unless William pays extra to get it done yesterday, which I doubt he would do).

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      1. Two months you say well then that would suggest some time in January at the latest.

        Having read the post about the book being finished though.. In that post William stated that it would take another week or so before he got a time table for the audiobook version.

        It’s now the 27th day of November more then a month later and I have found no info on the subject.

        @Kervyn, It would be great if you could reference/direct me/us to where (Seeing as last we heard about audiobook information from him he was still editing) you got this info from it would be appreciated.

        YS

        O. M.

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    2. Yes, very interested in when the Audiobook comes out. I got the Kindle version when it came out, but like the audiobooks for the previous books and can’t wait to add the new one to my library.

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    1. Same can’t wait for more Alice but having said that I preordered this when it came out can’t wait for when the clock chimes the midnight bell tonight.

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  4. I hope It doesn’t take long for Amazon to release the book cause I’m gonna be the idiot that checks every 30 minutes starting after midnight

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  5. In the best more sweet part it stop. This new book seems to be quite the good stuff, I though I had my cravings under control but this sneak peak just showed how hooked I am in this. Great work Mr. Brown well worth the wait.

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      1. Hopefully #5 will come sooner, but if sales don’t justify it then they don’t justify it:-(. Apparently the Alice book did better. Pity I don’t like to read about female protagonists.

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  6. Sooooo when can we expect book 5? 😉

    On a serious note: i really liked the book but some of the grammatical errors really broke immersion.

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    1. It’s been the nature of the beast. I keep meaning to figure out how to get into the books with Calibre so I can edit out the errors.

      And who was Jakob? He was mentioned when Lagap’s wife was getting her bath-house, but the context made it look like it should’ve been Filip (as in Filip Lund, the Harbormaster).

      Anyway, Oliver should be happy not that Daniel has a helm:-). Pity we didn’t get to see Iron-Dan vs. Godzilla!

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      1. Yeah, a helm! Finally!

        Though the potential was not fully realized. Why have a physically transparent. visor?

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  7. Liked the book a lot.

    Wondered at the end there when the dryads named that elf “Navnlos” if you meant to write it is Navnløs meaning nameless in Norwegian. The los sound sounds more like how you would say “light” in Norwegian (think Ljósálfar meaning light, or bright, elves) so when I read it I didn’t get the meaning at first. Did you mean to have a ø there instead of an o? Might be easier (and more accurate to old norse) if you went with the Islandic Nafnlaus instead but it was a fun easter egg anyway

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    1. The Varmlanders seem to call their language Danish. But it is unlikely to be identical to our Danish or any Scandinavian language. Nor is there a reason they should have stayed with Old Norse. So they speak something close to Norvegian or Danish but not identical to it.

      The form -laus is indeed the ancient form but Danish and Swedish (and German) lost that form over a thousand years ago. So it is unlikely to be found in Varmland.

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      1. True, I did not even consider danish nor remmember that the Varmlanders spoke that language, though I had the idea that Kozalin was in Denmark for some reason.

        Still -Los sounds more like light in Norwegian so I would think that they would go with -løs in their naming of “nameless”, unless I am completely mistaken at what the intention was there

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      2. If they are quite Danish, ‘light ‘ should be ‘lys’.
        This ties in very much with the question when the Kattegat closed. That must have influenced the Scandinavian languages.

        And I think Kozalin is described to be on the right bank of the Elb, so it seems to be somewhere between Hamburg and Cuxhaven in what in our world would be Germany. Unless of course Daniel is mistaken and it is located on the river that drains the Baltic. In that case it would be in the Kattegat.

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      3. My point is the the o and the y sound is similar in both danish and norwegian, while the o and the ø sounds is not

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  8. So does anyone else suspect Steelbinder is Stormbinder? He has a power whose depths Daniel has never been able to feel out, despite his mana sorcery, and he was able to see that Daniel wasn’t an Atlantean reincarnater. Evidently, Daniel makes a convincing one to the Lightbringers, but Steelbinder ‘Knows better.’

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    1. Maybe, thought Atlantean magic seems to be beyond the average magican not because it is somehow more arcane thren usual magic, but rather that its enchantments are byzantine in complexity. That is not something that would permanently stump Daniel as he showed in Thrall

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      1. Was it a suprise though? We saw that the Atlantis had Power Stones, but we also saw that they were overcomplex – probably because the Atlantean mages didn’t have Mana Sorcery. I don’t think that their design was one that an individual could reproduce, since it took Daniel days to work his way through.

        So Steelbinder now knows that Daniel can individually reproduce a power stone. He also go one from him, which might mean he can now run magic that he couldn’t use since the fall out Atlantis.

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      2. the power stones in the rod of destruction (or whatever it was called) was overengineered to a ridiculous degree, which I think is the only example of atlantian powerstones we have seen, he might have been very suprised by Daniels version and of the relative ease he was making them with. It did not really seem like the atlantians actually knew how the powerstones worked, just that they did

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      3. Alanna describes the Sunspire (and Atlantis itself for that matter) as having been dreamt into excistence. She might be talking metaphorically here but I get the impression that Atlantis, and the Sunspire, was an idea that they imagined and because of that it became real, not something they built from the ground up.

        Kinda pulls the rug under the idea of the Atlantians being these omniscient wizards though.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. later she says that the dream shamans pulled it into the waking world and that the wizards that came with it forged it to bring it to fruition, so I am a bit under the impression that the wizards did the finishing touches but did not have to know all about how the tower worked for it to function

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      5. Quite. Also the Sunspire works on different principles then the Power Stones. Power Stones are matter to mana converters. The Sunspire is a gate (known magic that multiple, if impressive, people have used) that connects to the sun, and then uses sympathetic magic to channels its energy through bound souls.

        So it’s NOTHING like a power stone, and the power stone gives every sign of being a kludge that they didn’t understand, only understanding ‘if we do all of this, we get that.’

        Another thing. Steelbinder is the only wizard we’ve seen who displayed instant familiarity with ‘exotic energies.’ Danial knows wizards know about them… from him. And when he was talking about his power source Steelbinder jumped to the conclusion that the risk he was talking about was them.

        We assumed that was just general knowledge among master wizards, but it could have also been simply that… he knows what a damaged power stone would look like and how it would behave.

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      6. I got the distinct impression that the Sunspire was primarily a working the Dream Shamans created via the Dreamlands. Then the Wizards turned it into a weapon in their campaign against the gods, providing the finishing touches so to speak, However, the Dream Shamans were dreaming of something they could conceptualize but didn’t really understand, so they got something which did (at least roughly) what they wanted, but which wasn’t efficiently and effectively designed the way it would have been if they’d actually understood what they were creating.

        Regarding Steelbinder, there’s always the chance he’s actually relying on knowledge passed down from someone else. Perhaps the Runsage was Atlantean? We know from Elin that a lot of people thought the Runesage was reinventing Atlantean magic, though presumably the Lighbringers disagreed or couldn’t manage to kill him given he’s meant to have lived for quite a long time…

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      7. Wasn’t there a passage in the book about how the Spire was ‘dream-like.’

        In Chapter 15,
        “The dimensions of the halls seemed to shift and bend as I passed, and even gravity didn’t seem stable.”
        “A dream it began, and a dream it remains,” Alanna murmured.”

        So, what does that mean?

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  9. Book 4, very good story. MUCH better on the proof reading, only spotted 1 mistake? I wasn’t quite speed reading but close and when I go that fast my brain ignores many of the minor mistakes. Hopefully Mr. Brown will write book 5 shorty, I agree 3 years is a lot to ask of readers. I was very happy to see that there was 49 reviews, one of which was a 5 star from me for an average of 4.9 stars, and the book has been out less than 24 hours! Hopefully Mr. Brown will be in a position where he will be able to do write for a living soon.

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  10. Book 4 was good, but hooo boy, did the kink factor ever get dialed up to 12… Asgard is a swinging place!

    Plenty of fodder for a speculation thread…

    I marked typos I found with red; can the author see parts where a single person has highlighted? I know a regular reader can see when a lot of people have highligted a particularly awesome package, but do authors have more options?

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  11. BAD Daniel! Not sure, but seems possible he may have invented LOLTH during his conversation with WEAVER in the Spire.

    Yet another reason to look forward to Book Five and that FUN conversation with Hecate….

    “Daniel, what did you do? Who or what is Lolth?”

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    1. That’s not even taking into account who or what else was modeled off his imagination or gaming memories. Remember that we only saw the conversation with Weaver who know what/who else he may have unintentionally or unknowingly created.

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      1. Suddenly the entire Faerûnian pantheon appears. Too bad if he spawned Lolth into excistence and not Eilistraee to even it out

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      2. There were some allusions to powerfull gods outside of the universe Daniel currently is in so there are no reason why a Chutuluesque god already exists

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  12. William, I do have a point of order I would like to mention. I imagine you are busy, I am assuming you have not yet been able to give up your day job in favor of writing full time. However when you have a book come out you should take a moment to engage with your readers. It is an opportunity missed to post a quick note hours before the book comes out, inviting your readers to dig in and enjoy. I would suggest that you need to be more carefully engaged with your audience. It does not need to be a snippet everytime, just a short paragraph to let your readers know you are still breathing and writing. Those types of notes could even be self to prevent reader responses. But a bit more engagement letting your readership know that you are alive and well and looking forward to them being able to read what you have written will go along way.

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  13. Not to give too many spoilers, but unlike the last two books, the focus of this book is NOT on Daniel’s efforts to enhance his island, soldiers, island defenses, gathering allies, or otherwise territory builds. The focus on this book is really on Daniel learning about Asgard, Atlantians, and boosting his own personal capabilities.

    It is a good story, but it is just not a big “industrialization of magic” story. Really all the industrialization of magic and territory development updates occur in the first few chapters (and then obviously carry on without Daniel)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Book four was excellent and I can’t wait for book five. My suggestions for strengthing Black Isle are three. Daniel can create an air force to project power and provide a supply train. If he builds at least four giant blimps and either learns box of holding magic or has the elves fill the blimps with them, they can make supply runs for grain, dried fruits, dried fish and meat with the blimp carrying capacity many multiples of its size. He can creat heavily armed smaller fighter blimps to both patrol the area and project air power with both gun and bombs and ramp up the speed on both size craft. The fighter craft can also accompany the large blimps as air cover on their provisioning trips. Finally he can create auto mortars circling the island, fixed in place that fire singly, in groups or all together so that the fields of fire are overlapping in concentric circles from the base of the wall out to one mile. They would have to manufacture their own ammo and be controlled with a control panel. That would make it impossible for any army even with magical protection to approach the walls.

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  15. Wow some good comments here but after serval weeks having past since I turn the last page on Thrall I feel let down and disappointed. Three years to get sex and bad choices by the main character shit I kept reading hoping it was going to get better but not to be. (For me)

    Well only if I’m in the need of wasting another 8 to 10 hours will I pick up the next book in this series.

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    1. I agree. Totally let down and disappointed. Was expecting x-rated and got pg sex scenes. Daniel is still getting his ass kicked by pretty much everyone, and all the characters we love (his girls and the groves) were almost non-existent. I’ll still read the next one though, in the hope that it gets back to the first 3 book’s formula of powering up, killing bad guys, and getting with the ladies.

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  16. I don’t know if most of you realize it, but Aesir worship is still a going thing, mostly in Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia. And also how many Yule/Christmas tradition come down to us from the Vikings

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  17. So, I had a general question that I didn’t want to put in my official review (a bit off topic).

    I was wondering, why is food an issue for The Black Tower (Castle Black?)? Or even Kozalin? While I could see vegetables being an issue (at least until the dryads get the land going), meat should be plentiful. Considering what took place in the books so far, Daniel should be able to clone any livestock they could possibly need. And if they don’t have the means to support the clones (i.e. greens and veggies yet), he should be able to conjure it with the basic base of samples.

    That’s not even taking into account creating a machine with flesh enchantments to KFC a bunch of chicken bits out regularly. Even if there’s some form of degradation, one pig could still feed hundreds.

    Also going by that logic, I’d imagine healing baths/tanks that work just like the amulets, coupled with soul catchers that can recall his fighters would make The Black Tower a regular Valhalla.

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    1. I’ve sort of had a similar problem. He can explicitly conjure blood during his healing, so he can call up proteins if not fats. Like, I think he can create fat an muscle, since he seemed to conjure tissue and bone after fighting the sea serpent on the way home, but that wasn’t explicit, so maybe he was cannibalizing fat and muscle.

      But he has explicitly said he can conjure blood while healing as one of the advantages he has over, for instance, Water Sorcery based healing. So he should be able to conjure protein blocks of some sort. Might not be a complete or balanced diet, but it could stretch their food situation a great deal.

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      1. Yikes. I don’t think I have your dedication, but I did CTRL F ‘Brown’. Out of the 24 hits, it was just the first one that dealt with the food situation. Which I would have agreed with, but considering all of the innovations he’s made in the latest books..

        But for spoilers sake, let’s keep with what we have so far. We know he can imbue his magical abilities like enchantments on objects (guns, amulets that heal), and we know he can automate certain tasks as an engineer/programmer should. While it would be slightly ghoulish, take a (dead?) pig, put it in a healing pin, turn off it’s brain/pain receptors, and go crazy with the bacon bits. It’s seriously no different from my KFC reference from before. If anything, he would make it more humane.

        The only problem I could see is where the blood/flesh would regenerate from, but we’ve seen his magic do a lot more with a lot less materials.

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      2. But I don’t think so far Daniel has had a problem with meat, his major concern with food was croops because there would hardly been any land to plant them, and besides Avilla needs a special type of diet to survive, sadly c**k and mana alone wouldn’t let her survive, thats why he is no concerned anymore about food because of the dryads, with meat he can buy livestock and raise them in the citadel, or if needed fly away and hunt a couple of fewolf or any other meaty monstrousity that its edible.

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  18. Something that been gnawing at me. Doesn’t really affect the story but, it turns out orichalcum isn’t a type of mystical stone but instead refers to a type of naturally occurring metal alloy, used as protective covering
    You see they found 39 ingots of the stuff in a sunken ship, over 2600 years old. Very, very recently.
    It’s also known as Red Brass, and it’s used for many many things, from armour, to weapons. As best as we can tell, it doesn’t corrode. Even in seawater. We know it’s a naturally occurring alloy, because there’s a couple of mines, that produce the stuff—-the existence which also brings forth some really interesting problems in it’s own right. Yeah the only mines that were historically know to produce the stuff were supposedly on Atlantis.
    Btw, 80% copper, 15% zinc, 5% odd mixture of lead, zinc, some traces of gold and silver.

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    1. Different materials hold enchantments with differing degrees of stability. Possibly the Orichalcum alloy is really, REALLY good at holding certain *kinds* of enchantments, hence its mythic significance and use in Fenris’ prison.

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  19. Exactly my thought. BTW, it seems that gold was used for Solar focus, and was used in construction of both the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids, as well many of the so-called impossible ancient constructs. Just think of them using solar-powered lasers. There’s actually traces of precision cutting of stone, in many old monuments.
    My slightly strange hobby of looking for old technological artifacts has all kinds of interesting implications. If you have blue eyes, there’s a good chance YOU, might be an artifact. Blue eyes were genetically traced back to a single individual, around 10000 years ago, in the Black Sea area.
    Modern archeologists really really suck at recognizing technology.

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    1. Well, when the Goa’uld were still on earth, they could’ve used that sweet stolen Atlantean technology to cut the stone for our ancestors. How could humans have done it, right?

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    1. HAHAHAHAHAHAH I totally undesrtand where you are coming from @Kevin, but good things do take time, so lets give Mr. Brown time to workl his magic on Daniel Series.

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  20. Being drunk is suffering alcohol intoxication. So when Daniel drinks why doesn’t his amulet cure the drunkenness, leaving him sober?
    And if one of the twins guarding the garden of Idun was in Asgard and the other in Kozalin you could evacuate the whole grove.

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  21. #1 Your “Daniel Black” books are bloody great! 🙂
    Seriously some of the most fun I’ve read in years.
    hurray for a character using his brains 😉

    #2 one huge problem:
    You’d get a lot more sales if you had better book covers 😦
    I only found your novels while digging through Amazon, gave Fimbulwinter a go and found it far beyond what the cover led me to suspect (since good authors tend to afford better graphics and “eye candy” is important to catch readers’ attention)
    Your books have nowhere near the prominence on the store they deserve! 😦

    #3 Ideas
    ~hypersonic weapons, so Daniel can now create greater velocities…which leads to “dragon slayer” weapons, and need to leave a few such on the roof of the island in case a Great Beast attacks when he’s not there?
    Hypersonic impacts on flesh = splat. catastrophic hydraulic shock, eeeew! :p
    of course, bit dangerous in front of the muzzle when firing….

    ~ summon some of the Earth’s *inner* core in dust form, dispersed over an area = Fuel Air Explosive.
    Very, very big Baddaboom.

    ~ grenade launcher for smarter soldiers and allies (Avilla and Tina really need some weapons)
    variable projectile choices:
    #1 rather large load of buckshot for up close (maybe some enchanted for fire, dispel etc)
    #2 standard explosive metal summons
    #3 magical smoke, blind sight and magical vision
    #4 several “bouncer” grenades for slice and dice (and avoiding causing fires etc)
    #5 flamethrower, as it might be handy and doesn’t have to only fire grenades, being a magical item
    (just give Tina a “shotgun” version)

    ~enchantment on item for when he’s surrounded kind of like right back at start of the novels
    summons several rings of iron around him (or a sphere split in sections for better coverage)
    Each has force blades, counter rotating = instant Cuisinart!
    then can toss the rings into enemies.
    enough mass to give the blades better cutting effect.
    Also handy next time a big enemy grabs him….

    ~Flame throwing
    Daniel’s fire sorcery is weak but his Earth is strong
    What about conjuring raw petroleum from the ground?
    can project (squirt) it farther than mere flames and it could be sticky
    burns longer than mere “flames”.

    ~rods from the gods
    well the famous wizard in the novels who built the soul devouring Gate device also made the “sky hammer”
    maybe summons orbital kinetic impactors?
    and his familiar wants to see space 😉

    ~minigun
    with each barrel having a different effect, thus overwhelm enemy defences

    ~sentry guns with cameras in ceiling of critical spot in island defences
    controlled form the security rooms as was described in one of the novels

    looking forward to more fun, new allies, maybe fighting Ra etc in next book 🙂

    Like

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