Chapter 42, Part 1: The Owl of Ascension

The Elder Realms


2300 Years Ago

The lanterns burned low, if they burned at all. With the portal masters having fallen to Omar, almost no one was willing to be out on the streets anymore. Morgyn watched helplessly as Marshala paced by the window and then went uncharacteristically boneless when Pinot hugged her.

“I want to call Orbalis home to replenish his energy,” she sobbed, “But I don’t want him to have to cross through the portal. They’ll make a note of him, and then Omar will use my own child against me.”

No longer conduits between worlds, the portal masters were now Omar’s spies. Orbalis was a god, but he was so young that he had no followers yet. He still needed to come home for a few weeks at a time to be closer to more powerful gods, like his parents.

“Is no one willing to carry him forth for you?” Morgyn tried.

Pinot shook his head as Marshala pulled away, “Gods with their own realms are loathe to trek to here for fear they won’t return. Maybe it’s for the best he can’t come back.”

For the best? Could Pinot not see how she was hurting? They sliced a hand through the air, “That is absurd! We will talk to the Fates. Surely, they can’t allow this.”

“They deliver Fate,” Pinot shot back. “They don’t make it. They will not intervene, even you aren’t naive enough to—”

Marshala’s sob cut them both off. She took a deep breath, trying desperately to compose herself. “What if he becomes forgotten?”

Forgotten gods were lost to Time. Where she took them, no one knew. But their magical signatures, even their names, became a hazy memory and then nothing at all.

“He won’t,” Morgyn insisted, furrowing their brow. “I’ll sneak him in with the next round of Threads. A thousand are expected for the birthday celebration; no one is likely to notice one extra creature milling about.”


Miss Hell

The dust kicked up as they surveyed the plane. She hadn’t been to StrangerVille in at least a hundred years. Back then, they called it Strangetown, and it was a barely-there outpost with one bar and a half-constructed church. 

She nudged a tumbleweed with her foot. 

Not much had changed.

“What are we doing here?” Jimena complained, “It’s hot, these clothes are ghastly, and I’m tired of this world.”

Miss Hell snuck a look at Maverick. In her fantasy—the one where Jimena was grateful, not a whiny little brat—she imagined them both having a bit of fun with the mortal before they figured out the best way to leverage him. They were supposed to be partners. Even now, Miss Hell threw her entire plan into chaos just to take a detour for this rescue. She didn’t imagine the attraction that had burned between them since Windenburg. Where was the powerful huntress who dared to call her Anastasia and spoke of them together in the Elder Realms?

I thought you were just using her, an insidious little voice whispered.

Maverick let out a long-suffering sigh, “We are here because they will be hot on our tails and assume we left town. This is a place we can rest overnight and then get a change of clothes and set out tomorrow.”

“This is your place?” Jimena frowned.

“No, it’s a secret palace owned by your mother,” Miss Hell snapped, “Of course, it’s his place. Now shut up, and let’s get the hell off the street before someone sees us.”

Maverick snickered as they walked inside. “It’s not my place,” he whispered, “I know a guy. But still, thanks.”

Miss Hell hated that she wanted to return his smile.

“What in the worlds took you so long?” Jimena complained, “You expect me to shower in this filth trailer, and you used up all the hot water?”

“The phrase you’re looking for is ‘thank you, Miss Hell, for coming all the way to west bumblefuck to bail me out of a military prison. You can take as long as you want in the shower.’

Jimena rolled her eyes and stomped into the bathroom. Somehow, Miss Hell managed not to strangle her. 

“She is…” Maverick hesitated, as they sat on the floor.

“Insufferable. I know. Great tits, terrible attitude.”

He laughed, “But you like her.”

“I’m using her,” Miss Hell corrected, though the lie sounded ridiculous even to her own ears.

He rested his elbow on his knee and gave her a long look. “I loved someone like that once. They took up so much space, I didn’t even realize I was suffocating.”

Am I suffocating? The thought was automatic. She kept her mouth shut as Maverick poured out his story and tried to ignore the buzzing against her skin as he listed the red flags that sounded painfully familiar.

“As a last resort, I bought her this necklace: the ‘heart of Sulani,’ and she threw it in my face. Called it cheap. I still carry it around in my pocket like an idiot.” He rubbed the back of his head, “Or maybe not an idiot. Maybe just as a reminder that I can’t chase after someone who didn’t choose me.”

The buzzing grew almost unbearable. If he was an idiot, what did that make Miss Hell? “Love is such a mortal emotion. You’re all so desperate to belong to someone or something. Let me give you some advice, Maverick. Stop caring. I don’t. It’s how I’ve survived so long.”

They stopped talking when Jimena stepped out of the bathroom. She didn’t spare them so much as a glance before she commandeered the bed and shut off the lights.

The message could not have been more clear.

“Why would you risk everything to help us?” Miss Hell asked quietly. Jimena hadn’t seduced him, and she couldn’t fathom another reason he would willingly do something so dangerous.

“You don’t know this, but my sister is different,” he said finally. “Like you. A…something I thought couldn’t exist but does. And if she ever got into trouble, I would want someone to help her. Like I’m helping you.”

“You mean Jimena.”

“I mean you,” he said firmly.

Miss Hell tried to ignore the warmth spreading through her. Maverick was not meant to be her friend. She knew exactly who and what his sister was, and she was planning to leverage him to get what she wanted: a ticket off this planet with The Owl. And she’d bring the demigod along not because she was stupid but because…


She slid down the wall and pulled her knees in close.

“Why are you helping her?” Maverick asked, taking a seat next to her. 

Miss Hell pinched the bridge of her nose. Why indeed?

She meant to lie, to hold him at a distance like she held everyone else. But she was so exhausted, and no matter which way she tried to turn it, she wasn’t executing a master plan. She wasn’t a hundred steps ahead of everyone else. She wasn’t avoiding their mistakes.

“I’m stupid,” she said numbly. “I’m in over my head, and I don’t know how to get out.”

His eyebrows rose.

“I made a deal with a god. A terrible deal, and of course it was, because gods are liars and cheats and the worst kind of monsters. And I’ve been paying for that deal my whole long life. Suffering for it. And I can’t get away.”

“Can’t you?” His question was so earnest, so naive.

“No.” It was a truth she had not even verbalized to herself. She swiped at her eyes. “All this time, I’ve been walking a path that someone else laid out for me, and every time I think I’m breaking out, I find myself manipulated again. Now, I’ve risked everything for…for…” she choked, unable to say make herself say the words, to articulate what must be evident to him now. “I’m propelling myself forward on nothing but hope and a prayer to the gods out me in this situation in the first place.”

“Can I?” he asked, his hand hovering next to her.

She froze and then nodded, letting out a long breath as he gently rubbed the back of her neck. It had been a long time since anyone comforted her, and for a few minutes, she let herself enjoy it.

They made quick work of the blow-up mattress, and even though she wasn’t tired, Miss Hell curled up on her side and closed her eyes. She felt Maverick sit down on the edge of the bed beside her.

“Are all gods really liars and monsters?”

“Yes,” Miss Hell answered without hesitation. “It’s their nature. How or why I don’t know. But I’ve never had cause to meet one who didn’t have cruelty at the core.”

Maybe it was wrong to say. If Alice got her hands on The Owl, she would become a god, and Maverick would undoubtedly relay all of Miss Hell’s commentary.

“They are dangerous,” she warned, “Even if you think you know them.”

Belatedly, she realized that she already decided to let him go. They could part ways in Windenburg. She and Jimena could still get off this planet, and that would be enough. They didn’t need The Owl.

“Maybe you can get away this time,” he breathed, “If you just run and don’t look back.”

She didn’t know why, but his words felt like he was warning her too.

  • Dolly Llama
    May 3, 2021

    have you ever been so disaster that you fell in love and it ended up taking down an entire pantheon for thousands of years and you had to go hide in a conduit & hold a sneaker once

    Okay, this is a REAL problem in that while I do have many, many observations on everyone’s outfits, and am processing the information we got about character relationships, and am worried about Contessa, and am wondering where Maverick is going with this—is he living up to his name?—and am bouncing at the sepia tones because sepia tones scream BERNARD to me even though this is bad Bernard (fuck you ColdChip&Truth!Bernard), I want to get other stuff done today, so this comment is going to be big-picture speculation that you probably can’t respond to. Mostly because this chapter has sent me reeling.

    There are so many answers to questions I should have asked about the Owl but just… didn’t. Even though the big reveal is its true purpose, and that it wasn’t even initially the Owl of Undoing, the more troubling part for me is that it isn’t single-use like I assumed. So that’s a couple lies the gods told us. Now both Alice and Vlad can get what they want, but I’m getting the message that Vlad can be emotionally healthy and whole and dismantle the patriarchy even though a death cult infused him with the essence of fear itself, which is one I’m Obama-nodding at. The concerning part for me is that it’s not clear how the Owl is used, and in particular whether the Owl can access its own abilities, and I absolutely do not trust Gwendolyn with that kind of power. Yes, it would be awesome for the God of Winning Arcade Games and the God of Vampire-Safe Ice Cream to casually ascend and descend every week or so, but I only think it’s awesome because I don’t live in that universe.

    I’m still not buying that Marjorie is dead, and am now questioning whether Alice transferred the Owl’s consciousness or created a new one. But that’s a long shot, given how B’Olliebacksideoneeighty is describing the hoops he jumped through to make it. On the other hand, if he can access magic controlled by other gods behind their backs, I’m not ready to rule that out entirely. And there might be clues related to who was at Gwendolyn’s transformation.

    This is another wild guess, but if my suspicious are correct, Orbalis is the spitting image of his father. Well, crap. Now I have to go back in the archives and check again how B’Ollieollieoxenfree responds to seeing him. Oh, oh, and Jimena! If my assumptions are correct. I’m faceblind enough to not recognize Miss Hell in her low-key getup, and had to figure it out from context. That being said, I do recognize the Titans, don’t recognize Janus—but don’t sleep with your students, Solis, holy cow.

    Is Solis… controlling Sims? Experiment with them? What a monster! Some Goddess of Calculus she’s turning out to be.

    Lastly, either Morgyn is being a really good sport about having worn the same dress as Marshala to the party or they’re silently dying inside and plotting revenge.

    • Dolly Llama
      May 3, 2021

      Experimenting* dammit

  • feroshgirl
    May 3, 2021

    I have died, ascended, and then been undone in reading this comment, all while laughing until my sides hurt.

    Oh, you know how I like to do, casually drop a bunch of secrets to send everything careening out of control just I promise to wrap up in two chapters. Actually, this is my method with BBD. Throw out so much insanity with one hand that you can’t see what the other hand is doing. Your eyes are on The Owl, not on Miss Hell’s real name being Anastasia Barrister. Like…Gwendolyn Barrister, which I’m sure is *fine* and won’t result in any kind of conflict with Vlad at all.

    :: whistles a little tune ::

    I love how suspicious you are! I also love how changing a character’s perspective in one chapter can completely throw a wrench in things. I mean, Janus/Transmutation is Solis’s magic—he belongs to her. Not so different from Vlad/Phobos, who technically belongs to Alice. Vlad and Janus are both sleeping with the boss.


    Morgyn is actually wearing the same outfit as Marshala in every scene they are in together. Untamed Magic belongs to the Goddess of Fertility. In Morgyn’s view, they are supposed to act as a support and an extension of her. They see Janus/Faba’s galavanting around the worlds, having relationships with their gods, and pursuing their own interests as selfish and frivolous. They are horrified by the idea that Transmutation might see himself as a separate entity with a life outside of his god. To them, that is not love or devotion.

    Fast forward 2500 years, and Morgyn (who has lost their god) is willing to do anything to keep that separate form. In Chapter 29: Life After Death, they ponder outfits at the end of their meeting with Miss Hell. The chapter isn’t just “life after death” because Alice brings Deacon back. It’s life after death for Morgyn, too—the life they live after the death of their God. Choosing their outfits based on their desires and goals has become commonplace for them, unlike Faba, who has a god (Nyx) and always wears some form of purple/pink.

    Meanwhile, B’Ollithiranon (every time you spell his name, I crack up) starts out in rags when he is young and hopeful and makes The Owl of Ascension. A few centuries in, at the height of his power and using The Owl to make Somnus a God, they are dressed to the nines—Hair: on point. Nails: on point. Everything: on point.

    Yes, chew on that. Somnus’s motivations just got a lot murkier. I mean, the God who made you a god suddenly falls, and they intend to hand the job over to a 30-year-old convenience store clerk from the worst desert town in Simnation (stunning, but holy hell is StrangerVille a tiny world)? Who wouldn’t be pissed?

    Anyways, when B’Ollithirnanon hits the place in the timeline right before they are about to lose their godhood, he is back in rags. And he looks much closer to the version of “Ben” that Alice comes to know.

    And this has been Outfit Choices with Ferosh LOLOL.

    I love Vlad’s future, becoming emotionally mature and dismantling the patriarchy. Though he lacks empathy and a moral compass, and it’s hard to imagine his way of “dismantling” would not be a bloody coup. But, ya know, semantics.

    You are 100% right that Gwendolyn should not be trusted with that kind of power, and it would be irresponsible of me as an author to give that to her. :: looks directly into the camera ::

    Who else was at Gwendolyn’s ascension? MY GOD, THAT IS A GOOD QUESTION. :: looks at notes, grins :: Yup, great question.

    “have you ever been so disaster that you fell in love, and it ended up taking down an entire pantheon for thousands of years, and you had to go hide in a conduit & hold a sneaker once.” — This is the most beautiful distillation of BBD ever, and when I get around to updating my site, I may beg you to use it, lol.

  • feroshgirl
    May 3, 2021

    Solis is THE BEST Goddess of Calculus damn it.


    Yeah, the Universe is the one who made sims, cough, I mean mortals. I wonder who she is?

  • feroshgirl
    May 3, 2021


    cold chip and truth bernard is officially the worst bernard.

  • ThePlumbob
    May 5, 2021

    Ooh, I wonder what Maverick’s agenda is here. Hopefully he’s not actually giving Miss Hell the real story and is more of a double (triple?) agent… though there’s probably a reason his family didn’t take him along or share more of their plans with him. Unless they did share and we just didn’t see that yet. Which could be good or bad.

    Oh wow, old timey god realm, I didn’t epect that! 2000 years ago is quite the flashback! For some weird reason I assumed pre-sage Morgyn that was pure magic didn’t have a physical form. Though that would be a nightmare to screenshot if it was all just chatting mist, lol! Oh, how interesting, so the three sage disciplines were sort of just decided at random out of the three magics that were willing to go to the mortal realm? Those could have been some interesting combinations – not that the one we ended up with a safe and easy one, haha. Oh look, it’s Titania and Akira! Back when they had a god status! Aww. OMG, and Elmyra! Oh boy. It’s all about to go tits up! At least this was thousands of years ago, I guess!

    The owl has a failsafe? Interesting! Don’t shush Ben now, Morgyn!

    That escape went very smoothly. “I loved someone like that once. They took up so much space, I didn’t even realize I was suffocating.” Must know more! Who did Maverick love? And what happened? Is that what drove a wedge between him and his family? Oh my god. He is helping them BECAUSE of Alice? Urgh…. Oh Maverick. I blame the family, they really should have included him in their road trip.

    “if you ever mention destroying The Owl again, I will show you the many things that lie between here and oblivion.” That’s definitely not going to come back in any shape again, I’m sure.

    Oh, the Contessa, I’ve forgotten all about her! I’m sure she’ll not have any ill will or dwell on some minor incidents that happened way back, right? I’ll just will all these deluusions into reality haha. I wonder if the Contessa infilitrated the police, or if this is not really the police. I suppose it might not necessarily matter as far as Miss Hell’s predicament goes. So the Contessa accepts a speculative offer of the owl, though it’s not clear if the contessa even knows what the owl is. Perhaps she doesn’t care, though, beyond it clearly being something that matters to her adversary here. I suppose the value of things is always just determined by what someone is willing to offer in return, so all it might be to Contessa is a valuable trading asset. Aaand that’s not looking great for Maverick.

    I mean, Morgyn claims that affection is a weakness Faba gained among mortals, but they clearly are no stranger to affection. In fact they’ do anything for their god and her children, and are helping out L Faba here on her quest to protect her loved one (I think? Faba and Nyx? I don’t really remember all that much about Nyx anymore, other than the general god disclaimer of “can’t be trusted” :D). Just because they express it slightly differently doesn’t mean they’re not already suffering from the same “weakness.”

    Oh, I guess the magics were not all that random after all. I think. Ok, I probably understood about 5% of that scene. I wonder how much of it present-day Morgyn understands. Probably more than me, lol. Sooo is Morgyn now intending to steal the owl and pring it to Omar? Or just flat out destroy it? Whatever it is, they are certainly not sharing with William. Which is a shame because a) it will inevitably cause their fragile relationship and any resemblence of trust between them to be irrevocably damaged and b) I need a version for dummies so it would be helpful to hear them explain it to William 😀 Lol.

    Oh shit, is Maverick dead? I wonder what Miss Hell said to the contessa, that it was him or Jimena that was more important to her. Oh man. Just as they were starting to build that connection. Although, when it comes to a change of heart, in the long term Maverick may have changed Miss Hell more by dying than if he lived. Not that that’s much of a consolation for him.

    • feroshgirl
      May 5, 2021

      I love and am terrified by how your mind works and I am so enjoying the divergent paths our Morgyns are on, even as they both make insanely terrible, self-destructive choices (I know, I know, they got reasons!). I don’t think Morgyn sees how fragile this thing with William is and they are about to enter an even more fraught situation—meeting his family, a family that now includes The Owl which (you are right) Morgyn is determined to use as a weapon and then destroy.

      When I finally wrap up book one, the first thing I’m doing with my break time is making an updated character page and a worldbuilding page that explains the magic because holy f-balls it is complicated!

      The main thing to know is that all gods have magics and all those magics, like Morgyn, can have physical forms. This is mostly because (as you pointed out) trying to do screenshots with the magics as sentient mists was a nightmare so conveniently, if a magic is present they’ll be in “human” form. Anyways, B’Ollithiranon is a bit of an anomaly. His skill and the reason why he was granted godhood, is that he can take magics from other gods and combine them together to make something new. For reasons we don’t know yet, B’Ollithiranon wanted to create The Owl of Undoing and needed help making it work, so he asked the Universe for advice. She told him which magics he would need from the other gods and everyone agreed except Omar. So B’Ollithiranon made the “smart” decision and decided to just steal some magic from his ex-boyfriend who was dangerously possessive and already furious at being dumped for his sister.

      Ah, love, so sweet and simple 🙂

      Really though, I do think as the story progresses and Morgyn and others have to actually explain the Elder Realms to Alice and crew, some of this will start to make more sense. This is my biggest struggle with creating this insanely large fantasy world—when and how do I introduce information?

      Anyways, yes, The Owl has a fail-safe! Should you be concerned about that? Hmm. Moving on, you really have Morgyn dead to rights. They can’t really see themselves clearly and their words don’t always line up with their actions. And yes, Faba is Nyx’s magic and you know, not trusting the gods is probably a safe bet in this story. They are complicated, as seen in B’Ollithiranon and the way he threatens Morgyn. No wonder people fear The God of Death.

      But I digress.

      The Maverick/Miss Hell adventure is so fun! Man, the hard thing about these chapters coming out once a week is that Contessa showed up in the story like a year ago so it’s easy to forget all about her. Her motives are…opaque. But since this already happened, I can confirm that the police job is one that Alice got her and Contessa knows all about The Owl, despite what she said to Miss Hell. The rate at which everyone in this story lies to each other is alarming.

      Speaking of lies—interesting that you immediately questioned Maverick warming to Miss Hell but are also very worried that he’s not and he’s in over his head and he might be dead. Is he dead? Should you be worried? Hmmm. Moving on…

      HAHAHAHA jk jk all I can say is that you’ll have your answer next chapter but Maverick’s family did call him during all their heist plotting and the necklace he gives Miss Hell is the same one Amisyia and Caleb retrieved and shipped to Strangerville. That doesn’t exactly confirm that he’s alive but we shall see! Either way, you’re right, it’s definitely made an impression on Miss Hell.

      • ThePlumbob
        May 6, 2021

        Haha, all the self-destructive Morgyns, I love it 😀 Oof, meeting the family should definitely be interesting…

        That helps! I think the main thing I was confused about was the reason why B’Ollithiranon decided to make the owl, but if we don’t quite know that yet maybe I’m not as confused as I thought! 🙂 I do love the nunaces of the different relationships the magics had with their gods and the different attitudes the gods had to the bond with their magic too. It’s fascinating!

        Lol yes, clearly my thoughts about Maverick are all over the place! I definitely initially thought he was playing an angle there but he kept sticking to his guns for so long that I became convinced. Or thought maybe his angle changed in the process. I’ll definitely cling on to hope that he is alive, though. Or if he’s dead that he’ll meet up with Alice in the underworld, or something 😀

  • Yimiki
    May 6, 2021

    I have written a novel-length comment on this chapter three times now, and every time I end up brain-broke and wanting to re-read the whole story so I can comment something better than complete brain-gibberish.

    Soooooooo that’s what I’m gonna do! Once I have enough free time, at least. I’ll be back later 😙 after thoroughly re-reading everything because all these reveals are just blowing me away and my perfectionist self wants to look at everything again from the beginning 😁

    • feroshgirl
      May 7, 2021

      Lol I cannot express to you how deeply I understand that impulse hahahahahaha. Hooray!

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