Chapter 42, Part 2: The Owl of Ascension

Windenburg Keep


Alice had recovered herself, and Caleb was glad to see she was now sparring with Untamed Magic instead of nodding woodenly at his every instruction. 

“This is absurd. You propose to just stroll into the Underworld?” Morgyn demanded.

“Uh, yeah,” Alice scoffed, “I do propose to just stroll into the world that I control.”

“Oh, very good,” Morgyn sneered, “And your precious mortal family? The vampires? Are you planning some red juice drinking party that I’m not aware of?”

“Red juice and cupcakes. We can make it a party if you want to.”

Morgyn made an outraged sound, but Caleb could sense that it was all for show. Untamed Magic wasn’t so different from Magnolia Promenade’s aristocracy—poking holes in things just to puff up their importance. 

“I’m not stupid,” Alice growled, “So you can stop looking at me like that. I’m a god; I did what gods do—took my powers and combined them together to create something new. They eat the cupcakes; it stops their hearts. They drink the juice; it binds their spirits. I animate them through the portal, and by the time the effects wear off, they are already in the Underworld. Like I said, it’s handled!”

She checked a look of victory that almost had Caleb applauding. He expected Untamed Magic to look annoyed, but instead, they looked a bit terrified. 

It didn’t make any sense. In fact, everything Morgyn and William told them was challenging to absorb. The relationships, backstabbing and betrayals, the fact that the B’Ollithiranon took magics from other gods to create an item that threatened the very foundation of the Elder Realm’s political system—it was all overwhelming. 

Morgyn said they didn’t know why the former God of Death did it, but to Caleb, it was obvious. Once upon a time, he and Lilith moved along the highest echelons of society. Then through a twist of fate, or rather, a twist of their father’s, they ended up on the outside looking in. Outside was a brutal place to be and if Caleb had the means to create something to even the playing field, he would have done so. With gusto. 

Shaking his head, he turned his attention back to the argument.  

“Zombies are a great fucking idea!” Alice exclaimed, “If Omar was pissed about them then, he’ll be pissed about them now. I wonder if we could get the same ones….”

Surprisingly, Untamed Magic seemed to agree. “It would be a wonderful way of thumbing your nose at him.” They grasped their chin, “There’s no reason to assume they aren’t still around. Ask Grim. Or that other one you made. What’s his name? Deacon.”

The awards ceremony was to be their last stand. Based on William’s intelligence, it was almost sure The Pious God would try and kill Alice. Their only advantage was that Omar didn’t realize she already had The Owl, and Morgyn wanted them to use that advantage to deal the Pious God a blow.

It was hard to get a read on William’s new lover. One minute, they seemed abrasive and dismissive. The next, there was concern flashing in their eyes. Were they friend or foe? Evil or good?

“I am not saying that homunculi are bad; I’m simply saying that having my power to animate them gives us more options,” Morgyn insisted, “I can easily split my power—er your power. We want them to be indiscernible from the real thing.” 

“Okay, okay. I see what you’re saying. Let them think they know what’s going on, but they don’t, and that’s when you hit them. Like in season three of The Man Who Is Not and Never Has Been Married when everyone found out Kevin was there for the wrong reasons.”

Morgyn smiled, but to Caleb, it looked a bit forced. “Exactly.”  

From there, the plotting seemed to take a different turn. Morgyn and Alice grabbed seats at the table and continued whispering and making plans. William stretched and said something about checking the armory while Vlad picked up a sleepy Gwendolyn, pulling off her socks and shoes while murmuring endearments.

“I’m not tired,” she mumbled, “Wanna stay and watch Alice.”

“Don’t we all? But, don’t worry, hellion. One day, you will grow strong enough to lure your own enemies into a false sense of security.” He smoothed her hair, “It’s always easier to cut a throat when it’s been bared to you voluntarily. Now, off to bed we go.”

Caleb chuckled and waved at Gwendolyn. Perhaps “evil or good” was too simple a descriptor. Creatures contained multitudes. 

He would leave Alice and Morgyn to wrap up the final details too, Caleb had plenty of packing to do. Amisyia and Deacon had already agreed to help him find Lilith. And besides, he had been working nonstop for nearly two hundred years. 

A little sun and sand would do him good. 

  • ThePlumbob
    May 11, 2021

    Ok I’m relieved Maverick was just that convincing and the Contessa was along with the whole thing too, phew! Sounds like her and Alice left things off way more amicably than what I remember! Looks like some of Maverick wasn’t wuite faking though – which is probably why he was so convincing. Should be interesting to see what happens with Miss Hell from now on.

    Oh, the fates are retiring? Does that mean… the world will end? Otherwise surely there will always be a need for fates… oh boy. Oh Miko, still clinging on to Akira coming for her no matter what. To save her from her predicament of… being bored. Lol.

    Aww, William’s reunion with his family was sweet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Caleb be all smiles like that. Morgyn’s meeting them… actually went ok, all things considered. Though I doubt the peace will last long. Aaand in walks Gwendolynn. Ooh, I love that she has an actual owl only Morgyn can see, that’s a neat touch! I wonder who else can see it. If Alice can’t presumably the other gods can’t either, but the other magics could? And dang, Alice is very forthcoming about their plans. You’d think she’d be a bit more cautious sharing a secret plan with someoone she just met, even though they’re claiming to be her magic. Thankfully Vlad is far more cautious, this is his time to shine. Ooh, he can access Morgyn’s fears? Very interesting!

    I’m really liking how we’re getting to experience the scene play out from several of the character’s perspectives! Caleb’s POV is probably as closed to unbiased as we can get here – not that he is entirely unbiased himself, but probably less so than anyone else in the room. Now this exchange between Morgyn and Alice where they are both trying to one up each other with casually dropping word bombs about complex constructs they’ve both been planning for a ages (ok, ages are something different to Morgyn than to Alice, but still) – Caleb is right, what they are saying would be overwhelming to someone who’s heard of this the first time around… which means the probablity of either Morgyn or Alice actually absorbing what the other one is claiming is pretty slim. They are both set on their own plans and agendas, zero true openness to the other perspective… so that will go well.

    Sidenote – if Alice really has the ability to create something new just like that, would it not technically be in her power to create a new owl, or even several? Though I suppose she’d need all the magics for that, and a the moment she doesn’t even have real support from the one that claims to be hers, haha. I do wonder what Morgyn hopes to achieve. They are desperate to retain this “human-like” existence, but if they do destroy the owl and betray Alice and the rest, they will lose William who is supposedly what’s making this all worthwhile. So what will they have left? A body that faints every time they cast a powerful spell? They don’t exactly seem to have friends left either, beyond William. Their reunion with L Faba would certainly be, err, interesting 😀 So what exactly are they fighting for?

    Ok, so the fates just wanted someone to be willing to protect the owl with their life, which, there are plenty of powerful beings being willing to do that now. Not sure what involvement Morgyn’s had to play in that though? In fact, the other sages and the good order monks probably had more of a part to play than Morgyn, certainly fast tracked Alice and Vlad’s bond with Gwendolynn.

    Ah, is Janus in the basement? If he’s still alive, that is. Gods can’t die (though can be ended by the owl, aparently), not sure about magics. Actually, I wonder if Gwendolynn’s current vampireness would somehow play a role in how the owl could end a god. Of course, ending a god might not necessarily mean killing them. Aaand Morgyn wakes up. Have they forgotten about that life before and it’s only coming back to them in the dream? I suppose if you live thousands of years, many things fade, and they did have a thousand lifetimes that have jsut come to them recently too, so it would make sense if there was only so much information they’d be able to remember. Though if that’s the case, they really can’t rely on their instinct about anything. Which they shouldn’t, because their current instinct just seems like a surefire way to wreck everything they’ve only jsut gained.

    • feroshgirl
      May 12, 2021

      If only Morgyn had you on their shoulder, warning them not to go down this path!

      Really though, I think you are tapping into the center of Morgyn’s conflict and the things they are going to have to grapple with in the next “book.” I mean, you used the word “supposedly” in terms of William and I think you’re right—the jury is still out on their committment. Morgyn is alone, they’ve burnt every relationship to the ground and the story they tell themselves each time is the same: “they are doing it for the greater good, they are making the hard decisions, they are doing it because they love someone else or something else and it must be protected.” But are those things true? They feel true in the moment, but the big test for how Morgyn really feels about William will come down to the choices they make. Can they do something truly unselfish?

      You’re actually picking up on a parallel I’m trying to paint between Miko and Morgyn. She’s got a lot of similar reasons, cycling between doing all of this as a great sacrifice because despite how much she “loves” Akira, she’s got to save the world. Miko has so many lines where she talks about herself as making the hard choices because no one else will. And its kind of absurd right? Like its clear to us that she wants Akira to come save her from…languishing in a palatial estate. And this is not to say Somnus isn’t a bad guy, as far as we know, but like…mostly she’s wearing fancy dresses and sitting at dinner and being starved for attention.

      But that’s not clear to Miko. She’d never characterize it like that. And Morgyn would never describe their actions as selfish. They are both the main characters of their story and so their perspective feels legitimate to them. We’re reading the larger story so we get to see their actions in context, to jump into other characters’ heads and consider different points of view.

      I guess this is a a really long, nerdy way of saying that I’m fascinated by the idea of a bunch of people who all think they are main characters sharing the same story. It’s been so fun to take the same scene and write it from different angles! Like you’re so right, Caleb doesn’t have a “dog in this fight” so when he is watching Alice and Morgyn go at it, he can see the ways in which they are posturing and talking over each other. When the scene is from Vlad’s perspective, he’s completely focused on protecting Gwendolyn and Alice from any perceived threat. And no matter if he disagrees with Alice or not, he’s not going to do it while a possible enemy is their midst.

      Yes! Vlad can totes see other creatures fears. It’s how he knew Grim was lying all those chapters ago when he told them that he had no idea where Ben was. It’s why Vlad is so good at finding things and weirdly, why he’s an excellent judge of character and a pretty emotionally intelligent partner. He is perplexed by his own emotions and fundamentally does not care about other people, but he can see people’s vulnerabilities very clearly.

      Oh man, Morgyn’s nightmares are beginning to pile up! Could it be guilt now that they are spending more time with Aurelius? hehe. Really though, I was trying to figure out how to write creatures who were thousands of years old and deal with their memories. I mean, you’re right, there is no way for them to keep everything top of mind all the time. So when Morgyn is awake, you’re getting the version of their memories and events that they curate. Whent hey are sleeping, their guard is down and the unfiltered versions of events rise to the surface.

      Will the world end if the fates retire? Are the fates really retiring? GAH I wish I could answer that question…


      • ThePlumbob
        May 13, 2021

        Oh I know these characters don’t hear me, but that apparently still doesn’t stop all the word vomit I keep sending their way 😆

        Absolutely, we all see ourselves as the main character in our story, most people believe their actions are justified, and nobody has access to the bigger picture the way the reader does. That’s why I’m not really into the whole hero and villain dichotomy because really, the only difference between hero and villain is perspective. Which is why I loved this chapter where we got to see so many takes on the same encounter! So fun!

        Ooh, I like the memory concept, that makes a lot of sense, yes! Reminds me of this android character in Fallout who ran out of his memory capacity so he stored his memories elsewhere, only having access to a portion of them at a time… endless to say it definitely affected his judgement, lol.

      • feroshgirl
        May 14, 2021

        Yes! Same! And thank you! lol I think this is why I enjoy simlits that explroe the messy gray area (also why one second I’m screaming at Morgyn or Faba in your story and the next I’m like: they are my babies and they must be protected at all costs).

        AHHHHH THE HOURS I HAVE LOST ON FALLOUT. But yes, yes, yes 100%

      • ThePlumbob
        May 14, 2021

        Ooh, a fellow Fallout fan! Haha I can relate, one of those games I keep coming back to 🙂

  • Dolly Llama
    June 2, 2021

    Okay! Let’s give this commenting thing another shot.

    The first time I read this chapter, I was trying to figure out what about this Alice made her suitable to be the God of Death. My preconceived theory was that her lack of desire to be the God of Death, Fertility, etc. makes her more suitable than someone who wants to be a god, because she’s less likely to go for a power grab (like B’Allertheramin did) and more likely to want to live a normal life & just go home and watch true crime shows while she looks up shirtless pics of Regé-Jean Page on her phone (like B’owlingmarathon is probably doing now).

    I’M SORRY, HE’S IN THE D&D MOVIE?!?!?!?!


    Back to the point. But that’s not the only thing going on, given that Alice is reluctant at the beginning. Could be that she needed the time loop to figure out how to control her powers before the war happens. Then, at the end, the story did exactly what I wanted it to and explained what the fates were thinking: it’s based on her love for Gwendolyn! Awwwwww. Of course, I had to stop and think whether Gwendolyn hadn’t been Owled in any other timeline (I may remember that not being the case) or whether there were a bunch of times the Fates decided Alice didn’t love the kid enough. Which I obviously find hilarious.

    Oh, I forgot about Vlad’s braids! I need to get faster at sketching because there is so much Gwendolyn and Vlad fanart I want to draw: “Mmm, Pancakes” and now another one where Gwendolyn is giving Vlad microbraids.

    And where were they keeping Marjorie?

    So Morgyn also thinks Marjorie’s not dead. Hm. On the other hand, I don’t trust Morgyn in BC, I don’t trust them in BBD, I do not trust them here or there, I do not trust them anywhere. Not in high heels, not in a dress, I do not trust that heated mess.

    Valeria, on the other hand, has me completely charmed with her tenure energy and I’m more inclined to agree with her: if Alice has millennia, the first impression she makes will be an even smaller blip in time. Also, setting up a flashy event and yelling “Hello, other gods! Look at me! Look at me! I have the Owl! I am a threat! Everyone pay attention to what I am doing!” is more Morgyn than Alice.

    Caleb’s ‘outside looking in’ comment finally drove it in for me that the Owl itself is not the problem, the hierarchy is. Is that another hidden running theme? That the only way to win in this arrangement is not to play? Untamed Magic should be jumping for joy that Alice CBA to overthrow anyone.

    (Next fanart idea: Vlad and Alice both on a float with megaphones; Alice yelling “Attention everyone: you are going to die. Don’t be alarmed. There will be cupcakes,” while Vlad screams “BOUNDARIES! BOUNDARIES!”)

    • feroshgirl
      June 3, 2021

      I want to begin by saying that Rene Jean Page in the D&D movie is my special interests colliding and is everything good and true in this world and I will not be taking questions at this time, thank you.

      whisper screams *ITS FILMING NOW*

      But I digress, you have hit the nail on the head! Hierarchy is both a theme of BBD and a structure for the story! ☺️

      Let me see if I can articulate how it looks in my brain (and I’m going to reference stuff that happens after this but you’ve read the epilogue so it’s fine lol): the perspectives in BBD shift horizontally between characters but also vertically between levels of power. Everyone on one level thinks they understand the story they are in, but when you jump up to the next level (and you’re dealing with much more power), you realize the story is very different—the stakes are bigger, the things that looked serendipitous were not, decisions aren’t anywhere near as independent as a character believed.

      This happens a million times in BBD, most recently when Jimena turns the tables on Miss Hell and is like “I’m a demigod, I been manipulating you this whole time. You don’t even know what’s really going on.” Morgyn seems like they are all-powerful and full of knowledge and running things until they run into the Fates who are like: have seat dear, the adults are talking. The Fates seem like they are in control until you realize that they’ve been given an assignment by Time and the Universe who way outrank them. Alice is ascending because she is becoming a God, but she is also ascending the hierarchy.

      And that’s the real danger of The Owl. It controls ascension, not only can it undo a hierarchical power structure that is highly favored by the creatures who see themselves sitting atop it, but it can also create new hierarchical structures. Is the only way to win the arrangement not to play? Well, now you’re getting into endgame territory and my lips are sealed.

      …but it is interesting that Alice and Vlad were chosen by the Fates because of their love for Gwendolyn and they are adamant that she is more than a weapon and that she not be used to fight any kind of battle, even a “good one”…

      In other news, I LOVE the idea of BBD Fan Art featuring Vlad wearing micro-braids and I need it immediately. I also need a children’s book called “Don’t Trust Morgyn” lololololol.

      God, I love writing Valeria. I’m so thrilled you picked up on her Big Tenure energy. I mean, she’s right, but Morgyn is very charming and Alice and she still have a bit of a fraught relationship.

      HAHAHAHAH I would love it if I was clever enough to write The Fates spinning new timelines because Alice did not love Gwendolyn enough. Alas, I was just thinking that they kept testing different “containers” for The Owl until they landed on something that worked. Gwendolyn is a singular child, after all 🙂

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