Hello, friends. Just a reminder that you can go here to check out my friend’s ongoing sporking of Tiger’s Curse.

Located just north of the Phoenix Zoo, Papago Park is an odd formation of isolated hills surrounded by teddy bear cholla, creosote, and saguaro. The hills are steep red rock and riddled with holes, fifteen-million-year-old remnants of ancient mudflows that petrified and eroded over the ages. Now the hills are playgrounds for children in one part of the park, a challenging day climb in some others, and, in a fenced-off area on zoo property, home to a score of bighorn sheep.

This is a good description, and it makes me think Hearne knows what he’s talking about. I would, from reading this paragraph, believe that he’s been to this place. So good job to him, because this is a great way to open the chapter. But then it veers into ‘and then there’s this little preserve for bighorn sheep on zoo property and that’s where Atticus goes to kill bighorn sheep.’

And that’s… not exactly great? Alright full facts: bighorn sheep are not an endangered species, hunting in and of itself is a perfectly natural thing and a fine past time, especially for someone from the distant past, and this is pretty close to the natural habitat of bighorn sheep. You do need a permit to hunt them, and given that Atticus never mentions it he probably doesn’t have one, but other than that, there’s nothing else overtly morally wrong with hunting bighorn sheep with his dog.

He’s a poacher, which would make him the villain of a straight-to-home video kids’ movie, but again that’s not really big time evil or anything. I’m too worn out to hold that against him too much.

But he’s also killing them in a place specifically meant to be for viewing bighorn sheep? It’s on zoo property, but it’s not part of the actual zoo, but it’s by the Arizona Trail where people hope to see them. And Atticus notes that the bighorn sheep in question aren’t always frolicking in a place that’s visible, but they could be. So tourists can come in the morning and possibly see the corpse of a sheep there. Unless Atticus and Oberon take the kill back home, that is, but we have no indication that Atticus skins, guts and butchers his own animals for meat; as far as I know he just leaves the bodies there for people to see in the morning after Oberon eats his fill. And Papago Park doesn’t have that many predators from what I understand, so an animal corpse that’s been brought down by hounds is going to be really obvious.

So there’s that.

When he goes hunting with Oberon, Atticus turns himself into a wolfhound as well (it’s one of his four animal forms) because Oberon likes hunting “the old way,” even though Atticus notes that wolfhounds are bred for hunting wolves and for battle, not for hunting prey animals. It’s also really difficult for wolfhounds because the terrain is rocky and full of cactuses, which again makes me wonder if there’s any reason it’s set in Arizona other than because that’s where Hearne’s from.

Oberon’s ready to go and kill things when they arrive. He also has an argument with the stags that pull Flidais’s chariot, saying that if they “were not under the goddess’s protection,” he would eat them. They’re not impressed, and are basically like, “You wanna go? Come at us, bro” (that bit is paraphrased). Which is kind of amusing, and makes me wonder if I’d be happier if the dog was the main character.

Flidais parks the chariot by Hunt’s Tomb and so they get ready to hunt. Atticus turns into a dog, and we get a information on how Druid shapeshifting works, which isn’t egregious here because it makes perfect sense to explain it right now. Basically, a Druid can turn into an animal at will (later it specifies that each Druid gets a maximum of four animal forms) with no regards to time of day, and that it isn’t painful like it is for werewolves. He doesn’t like to stay transformed into an animal though, because mentally he finds it a weird to be an animal and eat as animals do. For instance, when he turns into an owl he feels gross eating mice whole. And again, credit to Hearne because this makes sense.

Hearne’s writing in this chapter is actually okay. It’s worrying me. When’s the crap coming back?

When Atticus transforms, he says “something was different” and that his mind “felt befuddled, and I was more than a little bloodthirsty.” He begins drooling over killing a sheep. He knows that something feels wrong, but instead of turning back into a human and figuring it out he just leaves it, and the narration acknowledges that he was wrong to do it. This conflicts with the narration constantly telling us that Atticus is paranoid and careful, because he keeps making reckless decisions. Well here’s another: he feels something wrong right when he transforms, but he does nothing about it.

Flidais rips the fence away (which is vandalism), and whistles for the dogs to go hunting. And then she rips up another fence and says “Now go, my hounds,” and Atticus says “as she said it I felt as if I was her hound, not a Druid anymore, not even human anymore, but part of the pack.” He tells us that he’s aware of magic around them that isn’t his, but he dismisses it because his Super Special Awesome Amulet should protect him from it, right? There’s no way that anything bad could happen by turning into an animal in front of the goddess who has control over animals, right?

Oh, right, Flidais can control animals. Atticus doesn’t explain that until it becomes important.

Yeah, Atticus sure seems paranoid, am I right?

There’s a couple pages of them finding a bighorn sheep, and then chasing it to Flidais, who shoots it with her bow. It’s an alright scene, I guess. It goes down easily because Atticus and Oberon have been here a lot, and they’re used to it. It’s not boring, but it doesn’t really feel like it adds much to the overall story or understanding of the world.

But then this happens:

But it seemed those recent visits had not gone unnoticed, unfortunately: As I reached the site of the kill, where Flidais was already gutting the animal and Oberon was standing nearby, a park ranger suddenly appeared, holding a flashlight and a gun. He demanded loudly that we freeze as he blinded us with a halogen glare.

OHES NOES!!! THEY HAVE BEEN CAUGHT!! And the crappy writing is back.

“He demanded loudly that we freeze”? Hey, Hearne, how about give us some dialogue instead of summarizing what characters are saying?

This park ranger surprises the snot out of our characters, who never saw him coming. Flidais flips out and throws a knife into his shoulder, making him drop his flashlight. Realizing he’s dealing with dangerous people, the ranger opens fire and hits Flidais in the arm. In a rage, she orders Oberon and Atticus to kill him. Atticus jumps up, but then realizes that this is a terrible idea he stops himself and turns back into a person. And then he realizes: Flidais, the goddess of animals that he does not trust, was mind-controlling him while he was an animal! Who would have guessed???

Oberon however cannot turn into a human being, and he goes on with the killing. Atticus yells at Flidais to stop, but it is too late; Oberon has already ripped out this guy’s throat.

Atticus? What happened? I taste blood. Who is this man? Where am I? I thought we were hunting sheep. I didn’t do this, did I?

Yup. Oberon doesn’t remember any of the hunt. Which means Flidais just took a dog with near-human level intelligence, and used him to murder a dude. This mind-raping from Flidais actually achieves the intended effect of being disturbing, and I feel heaps of sympathy for Oberon right now, who is just confused and shocked over what’s going on. Too bad any emotion in this scene is ruined by Atticus’s reaction.

Atticus explains that when you’ve seen enough death, you kind of get over the emotional bits and just assess the situation, which in and of itself is not a bad reaction, staying cool under pressure and all. But again this makes me think of our protagonist as a sociopath, because his immediate concern upon thinking this out is not “HOLY SHIZ WE JUST KILLED AN INNOCENT MAN!” Nope, Atticus’s concern is now he’s going to inconvenience him and his dog.

No really. His first words after it happens?

“That was not necessary!” I shouted, but carefully kept my eyes on the corpse. “We could have disarmed him. His death will cause me and my hound much trouble.”

Yup! His problem isn’t that an innocent man is dead, or that Flidais used Oberon to murder someone, it’s that he could totally get caught. Flidais is wondering why they don’t just hide the body, and Atticus has to impatiently explain that These Days (take a shot), crime-solving is much more complicated and the humans have technology to track stuff like DNA. And of course Flidais has never heard of DNA, because the gods are stoopid, tee-hee!

I hate that trope.

I ground my teeth and heard the short yips of Coyote on the desert air. He was laughing at me.

Of course he is, because you’re a twatwaffle! You say that you don’t trust Flidais, but not only do you have sex with her (twice!), you bring your dog to go hunting with her and turn into an animal, which she has complete control over.

[Coyote doesn’t appear until the next book so him laughing here is just… there. It doesn’t do anything other than establish that Coyote exists in this setting and interacts with Atticus sometimes. It should have been cut.]

Oberon’s still freaking out over having killed a dude, though Atticus assures him it’s not his fault. The dog still feels sick though. Again, I like the dog better than Atticus. Flidais points out that someone should not have been able to sneak up on her, the goddess of hunting, so Atticus goes and studies the body.

He was a young Latino with a wispy mustache and a pair of thick lips.

Look, I’m not trying to say that’s racist, but Hearne immediately goes for stereotypical Latino features. And I’m not editing out the rest of the description! That’s all the description we get for what the man looked like: thick lips and a wispy mustache. Not hair color or length, body type, or any other distinguishing features. He doesn’t check his pockets for ID to get a name or anything. Atticus takes one look at him, says he’s Latino and that he’s got a wispy mustache and thick lips.

That makes me a little bit uncomfortable.

Oh, he has an earring, but that’s not described until Atticus says that he “saw traces of Druidry in a diamond stud in his left ear” which is supposed to explain how he was able to be a stealth ninja to the goddess of hunting. He asks Flidais if she can identify the magic of origin, and notes that if she tries to lie and say the magic’s actually Voudoun when it’s clearly Irish, then he knows she’s in on whatever just happened here. Or something. She tells him though that it’s clearly Tuatha de Danann magic, so they conclude that the park ranger was clearly under the control of one of the Irish gods and Atticus assumes it was Aenghus Og.

“I’m sure it was Aenghus Og himself. He gave the man a cloaking spell and then broke it abruptly as he was about to speak, ensuring our surprise and the man’s death. It is the sort of puppetry Aenghus enjoys.”

Wait, what? Yes, him sneaking up on you was weird, but the park ranger was… doing his job? Stopping people from poaching in the park. Why would a random Hispanic park ranger be making deals with Irish deities? And why would Aenghus want Atticus framed for murder? What would that do for him? Wouldn’t it be easier to just murder Atticus? This subplot is introduced basically to add more complications to the story, but it doesn’t really make much sense in the grand scheme of things.

At this point, for Reasons, Hearne tries to justify making Aenghus the villain of the story:

I had looked up Aenghus Og on the Internet once to see if the mortals had a clue about his true nature. They describe him as a god of love and beauty, with four birds following him about, representing his kisses or some such nonsense. Who would tolerate four birds flapping about his head, constantly letting loose their bowels and screeching? Not the Aenghus I know. But some accounts provide a better picture of his character by also telling of his deeds, such as taking his father’s house from him by trickery and slaying both his stepfather and his foster mother. Or the time he left a girl who was hopelessly in love with him and who died of grief a few weeks later. That’s more the kind of man we are talking about.

No, the Celtic god of love isn’t a cherub with cute little wings, nor is he a siren born of the sea in a giant clamshell. He is not benevolent or merciful or even inclined to be nice on a regular basis. Though it pains me to think of it because of what it says about my people, our god of love is a ruthless seeker of conquest, wholly self-serving, and more than a little vindictive.

Let’s take a look at this, step-by-step, okay?

ONE: Atticus shouldn’t have to use the Internet to see what mortal perceptions of Aenghus Og are. Has he not been reading Irish literature? At all? Books of mythology? I mentioned Aenghus Og appears in the Hellboy comics, albeit briefly, but he also appears or is referenced in lots of other books and poems by Irish authors, like “The Song of Wandering Aenghus” by W.B. Yeats, James Stephens’s Crock of Gold, James Joyce’s Ulysses, and Pat O’Shea’s Hounds of the Morrigan. We might be able to excuse this with Atticus not being that much into the arts, but then the next book reveals that he has all of Shakespeare’s plays memorized. The third book shows that he’s a fan of Neil Gaiman. He’s definitely into the arts. Which means that knows the Bard like the back of his hand, reads modern English fantasy writers today, but hasn’t become familiar with any of the famous Irish authors of the last two hundred years? It’s weird because in a later chapter he goes to an Irish pub in town, and he’s got an Irish wolfhound, and he goes by an Irish name and proudly wears Druid tattoos, implying that Atticus is very proud of Irish heritage, but he’s not that familiar with Joyce? With Yeats? The guy also works at a New Age bookshop for a living, and Yeats was all over that occultist shiz as a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. No, really. And yet Atticus has to go on the Internet to know what people think about Aenghus? That’s kind of BS.

Essentially, Hearne has written a character that fits a list of Irish stereotypes, but he cares nothing about Irish literature.

TWO: I’m pretty sure that the ‘four birds following him around’ is an artistic thing? Like, it’s how you depict him in a way that he’s easily recognizable no matter the artist or style. That way someone who isn’t good at recognizing faces but knows that feature can look at a picture of the Irish gods and say ‘Hey, Aenghus Og is the guy with birds around his head, so I can tell it’s that guy!’ I don’t think anyone actually imagines a bunch of birds flying around the guy’s head, in the same way that people don’t actually think Saint Paul walks around heaving a massive sword.

And wait a minute: aren’t gods limited to manifesting in a way that reflects people’s beliefs? The story used that as the explanation for why Jesus can’t manifest as anything other than a crucified figure. So say that it was true that everyone imagines Aenghus Og with birds around his head. Then according to the rules already set down, he would have to have that feature, because that’s apparently what people believe about him. One could argue that the Tuatha de Danann are different because in this universe, they were real life people who were deified. Except that doesn’t work because Jesus is also generally agreed to have been a real life person by historians. Obviously historians disagree on that resurrection business, but that’s not the point I’m making, and please don’t let the comments dissolve into an argument about religion. The point I am making is this: if in this universe Jesus has to appear in a way that believers of Christianity imagine and all agree on, so does Aenghus Og.

THREE: Your description of birds is… not flattering. You’d think an immortal Druid, who is supposed to be all connected to the Earth and stuff, would not be that rude about birds? I get it, but I feel as if an immortal Druid would not be that crass about nature.

FOUR: TMary can correct me on these things (as I’m going off of basic research and Wikipedia), but as I said in Chapter 1 Atticus (and Hearne) are taking Aenghus’s “crimes” out of context. He tricked his father out his house; okay, yes, but again, his father (Dagda) had divvied up the land and not left any for Aenghus in the first place, so he trick Dagda out of his house so he had a place to go. And Dagda, also being a god, could probably find another place to live. Screwing someone out of a house when they already screwed you out of one isn’t particularly treacherous. It’s his own father, so it’s a bit sketchy, but not like ‘supervillain’ sketch, more like ‘con man/antihero’ sketch.

He killed his stepfather, yes, but his stepfather killed his foster father, Midir. Getting revenge on the man who killed the man who actually raised him isn’t generally seen as an evil act in fantasy fiction, especially not when it’s set in ancient Ireland. That sounds more heroic when put in-context.

Aenghus killed his foster mother, alright, but she had cursed his lover and drove her off when she found out that she was with Aenghus. Which is not great, but if someone puts a malicious curse on your girlfriend I don’t see why you’d do anything nice for her.

A girl falls in love with Aenghus and then dies of grief? How… is that on Aenghus? He’s not obliged to love her back. In any case, the one account of this story I can find here, and in that Aenghus actually did love the girl in question, but she had converted to Christianity and refused to go back to paganism and Aenghus. So that relationship didn’t work because she changed belief systems that didn’t allow for their love to work. That’s still not on him.

So out of context, Atticus drops these on us to paint Aenghus Og as a maniac who kills family members and screws over people for kicks, when the actual stories he’s referencing don’t make him out to be a particularly bad guy, especially compared to other mythic deities. I’ll admit that on short notice my sources aren’t the best, so maybe I’m wrong on all of this, but that doesn’t change that it’s all presented without context. So all of Atticus’s claims are immediately suspect.

FIVE: The second paragraph there references Eros/Cupid and Aphrodite/Venus, as if they’re the ‘nice’ gods of love, when a passing knowledge of Greek mythology would tell you that they’re not that nice. Up until Psyche, Eros was basically his mother’s hit man shooting arrows of love at whoever she was ticked off at. And Aphrodite helps to start and continue the Trojan War, endangering and slaughtering thousands of people, wiping a civilization off the map.

Aenghus sounds pretty tame in comparison to Aphrodite.

The point of these paragraphs is supposed to be an explanation as to why the Aenghus of the book doesn’t match real world legends and myths about him, but it just falls flat. None of it adds up. It still doesn’t give him a motivation or backstory, it just handwaves it all by Atticus saying, “He’s a dick! Trust me on this.” It’s a personality Hearne invented from scratch, but he’s trying to act as if this makes sense. It doesn’t.

So then Flidais and Atticus hear sirens, and they decide to leave before the police show up. Flidais offers to kill all the cops for him, but she says it in a way that proves she knows Atticus would disagree. Atticus informs us that she would actually do it too, and not lose any sleep over it. He tells her get stab happy, mainly because he’s worried it might draw attention to himself rather than because he has any problem with her slaughtering people just doing their jobs.

Instead Flidais uses magic to bury the body. Atticus thinks they’ll have it out in no time, because he thinks investigations are like in CSI, I guess, but it’s the best option they’ve got right now. It’s noted that Flidais has more difficulty with the magic than she would in the Old World because she’s

Yeah apparently the gods have to work harder to use magic in America. It would make a bit more sense if anyone outside of Ireland the Tuatha de Danann have trouble exerting their power, and the further away they are from it the more effort they have to put into it. But the way it’s phrased makes it sound like the she’d be fine doing this in anywhere in Europe, it’s just the Americas that causes them trouble.

They escape to Flidais’s chariot, just avoiding the cops. No really, Atticus tells us that they can hear the police car doors closing, which means that they wasted a lot of time not getting out of there when they had the chance. The stags mock Oberon, and the chapter ends with Flidais being frustrated that in her “first new hunt in an age of man” that “it was ruined by Aenghus Og.” Atticus tells her (and the audience) that he’s out of patience.

[He also tells us that Flidais is a sociopath, but he was the guy who only got upset at a man’s death because it might get him in trouble.]

And so ends our chapter. Join me next time, when Atticus finally picks up this magic sword everyone’s been going on about.

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Comment

  1. The Smith of Lie on 10 October 2018, 03:41 said:

    Damn, you are knocking new ones out with impressive speed. I’m glad, given that I check Impish Idea 4-5 times a die hoping for new comments and chapters, but I didn’t really expect this one to pick up so much speed. Kudos.

    He’s a poacher, which would make him the villain of a straight-to-home video kids’ movie, but again that’s not really big time evil or anything. I’m too worn out to hold that against him too much.

    Well, one of my childhood heroes, Jakub Wędrowycz was a poacher. But he was also an anti-hero and a parody character, rather than full-blown hero.

    What irks me the most is that Atticus is hunting them the preserve. It is a fenced-off area, which restricts the escape options and makes the whole thing less like a hunt and more like shooting a fish in a barrel. Even if it’s an exceptionally large barrel.

    Atticus notes that wolfhounds are bred for hunting wolves and for battle, not for hunting prey animals.

    This is sort of a tangent, but you guys can’t imagine my disappointment when I discovered that Karelian Bear Dog is not a half-dog, half-bear bred by those mad Finns, but a dog bred to hunt bears.

    He doesn’t like to stay transformed into an animal though, because mentally he finds it a weird to be an animal and eat as animals do. For instance, when he turns into an owl he feels gross eating mice whole. And again, credit to Hearne because this makes sense.

    Personally I prefer the “mind is a plaything of the body” school, where staying transformed runs a risk of becoming the thing you shifted into. Or at least gaining many of the instincts and reflexive behaviors of the shape one took. I just find the idea, that one moment Atticus is eating mice whole and loves it, because it feels natural for being an owl and only when he’s back to human the grossness and weirdness of the thing hit him, amusing.

    When Atticus transforms, he says “something was different” and that his mind “felt befuddled, and I was more than a little bloodthirsty.” He begins drooling over killing a sheep. He knows that something feels wrong, but instead of turning back into a human and figuring it out he just leaves it, and the narration acknowledges that he was wrong to do it. This conflicts with the narration constantly telling us that Atticus is paranoid and careful, because he keeps making reckless decisions. Well here’s another: he feels something wrong right when he transforms, but he does nothing about it.

    By Jove, this man is an overconfident idiot. He has been given ample red flags up to the point of knowing that something is not normal and he still just goes with it.

    And we are supposed that he survived 1000 years while being hunted by a vengeful god?!

    There’s no way that anything bad could happen by turning into an animal in front of the goddess who has control over animals, right?

    Yeah, Atticus sure seems paranoid, am I right?

    I am starting to believe that Hearne just confused “paranoid” with “complacent”.

    Flidais, the goddess of animals that he does not trust, was mind-controlling him while he was an animal! Who would have guessed???

    A paranoid individual for example. Proper paranoiac would have expected just that and would have never shifted into an animal in her presence. He’d also have Oberon isolated from her so she couldn’t turn Oberon against him. Going for a hunt with her also strikes me as something that properly paranoid person wouldn’t do, unless there was something to be gained by it.

    But that’s just me, a perfectly average dude, who certainly wouldn’t offer Flidais a rohypnol laced smoothie back in the last chapter and then legged it while she was unconscious.

    “That was not necessary!” I shouted, but carefully kept my eyes on the corpse. “We could have disarmed him. His death will cause me and my hound much trouble.”

    Our heroe everybody!

    I ground my teeth and heard the short yips of Coyote on the desert air. He was laughing at me.

    My head canon is that Coyote allows Atticus to live on his turf, because Atticus’s bumbling idiocy is a source of constant entertainment for him. This is why Coyote was nearby and watching the whole debacle.

    Or something. She tells him though that it’s clearly Tuatha de Danann magic, so they conclude that the park ranger was clearly under the control of one of the Irish gods and Atticus assumes it was Aenghus Og.

    Well finally we get some trace of paranoid reasoning. Everything connects back to the Aenghus Og.

    “I’m sure it was Aenghus Og himself. He gave the man a cloaking spell and then broke it abruptly as he was about to speak, ensuring our surprise and the man’s death. It is the sort of puppetry Aenghus enjoys.”

    And I’m sure that’ll turn out to be the case (though I think the ranger being a druid, that Atticus never noticed due to being self-absorbed prick would have been more interesting). But I have to ask, why? That is a ridiculously circuitous way of going about getting Atticus. And we have already been told that Aenghus got tired of sending incompetent underlings and he’ll come in person. So the whole charade seems useless.

    The point of these paragraphs is supposed to be an explanation as to why the Aenghus of the book doesn’t match real world legends and myths about him, but it just falls flat. None of it adds up. It still doesn’t give him a motivation or backstory, it just handwaves it all by Atticus saying, “He’s a dick! Trust me on this.” It’s a personality Hearne invented from scratch, but he’s trying to act as if this makes sense. It doesn’t.

    To be honest, at this point I’m rooting for Aenghus. Hell, even if he was as big a dick as Atticus makes him to be, he’d still wouldn’t be that much worse than Atticus himself.

    So then Flidais and Atticus hear sirens, and they decide to leave before the police show up.

    Ok, I don’t have any frame of reference for the timing of the events, but that seems like an incredibly quick intervention. From a quick glance at the google maps, the whole place is sort of out of the way and there weren’t any people around to call the cops. If I had to guess how much time it’d take the cops to show up I would guess anywhere from half an hour to few hours when someone finds the body. Maybe 15-20 minutes if the ranger reported seeing poachers via radio. They seem to have shown up in what, a 5 to 10 minutes maybe?

    It’s not really important, just seems little strange.

    [He also tells us that Flidais is a sociopath, but he was the guy who only got upset at a man’s death because it might get him in trouble.]

    Hhah. Pot, meet the kettle.

    And now, for some spite.

    It took Morrigan a while to find the stoners who insulted her in Siodhachan’s shop. But she didn’t hurry, she tracked them down leisurely and she was going to take her time killing them. She hounded them for hours, steering them away from people, finally cornering them in an empty, out of the way corner of Papago Park. “Madam, put the sword down and step away from those people.” She turned surprised. There was a man standing behind her. He looked pretty unremarkable, except for his get up. A black suit, white shirt and black tie, coupled with black sunglasses (at night!) and black, leather gloves gave him the classic Man In Black vibe. In his left hand he held a sword.

    Morrigan looked him up and down, searching for any traces of magic. There were none, the man was as vanilla as the stoners she was about to murder. His sword was completely mundane as well. It was a plain, straight blade, made from one those modern alloys that gave it black color. “You have no idea who you are dealing with.” She said. “But I do madam. You are Morrigan. I’m afraid that in this day and age even divinity does not give you a license for murder, so I have to insist you put down your sword and let them go.” “And who do you think you are to make demands of a goddess?!” He was moving from the curiosity towards annoyance. If he continued she’d have to kill three people for insolence instead of just two. The man whipped out a badge with a complex, ornate seal. “Agent J. from Society for Paranormal Supervision, Restriction and Keeping.” The name meant nothing to Morrigan, but it sounded like one of those human government organizations. She shrugged. “They’ve insulted me, so they are going to die. What are you going to do about this?” The agent sighed and took the combat stance.

    She decided to take him on first. It promised to be more fun than the stoners anyway, since he didn’t seem like a type to go down without a fight. So she started slowly, keeping well within human capabilities. And almost paid for it, when J. effortlessly parried her strike and his riposte almost took her head off. Only supernatural reflexes saved her from being hit. But that only meant she could go harder. She started using more and more of her true power, making her attacks and defense faster and stronger, bit by bit. At first he was keeping up admirably, but for the last three exchanges the agent was forced into defensive. In the next two he avoided being hit by hair’s breadth. And yet he was smiling.

    “You are losing human.” He nodded. “So why do you seem so happy?” “Because I know something you don’t.” “And what is it?” “I am not left handed.” he said taking the sword into his right hand. The difference was immediately noticeable. He kept up with her in speed and power, giving as good as he got. It was beyond belief, that a mere human could fight with her like an equal. She saw greatest heroes of their ages and none of them could have matched her like this man did. But for all his skill he was still just a human and after one of the strikes he left an opening. Morrigan struck with all of her speed and power. And he caught the blade with his bare hand. There was loud, metallic clang when it hit his palm and then he closed the fingers around it, so tightly that they should have been cut off. In a split second of shock she failed to notice his thrust.

    The wound wasn’t lethal. Not for her, a human wouldn’t stand a chance. “Now madam, killing or imprisoning a god is something we’d prefer to avoid. The metaphysical collateral damage isn’t worth it. So I’d appreciate if you didn’t force an escalation.” Morrigan nodded her head. The whole situation was just too weird to keep going. Besides, he was still standing there with a sword inside her torso, which was a mighty impressive argument. “So, what now?” she asked. “If you’d swear an oath to leave and not pursue harm to those two men you’ve been stalking and not seek retribution on me or any other agents you might meet, I’d say our business will be concluded.” It wasn’t really satisfactory, but Morrigan knew when she was beat. So she swore the oath. J took his sword out of her, cleansed the blood, sheathed it and just walked away, as if nothing unusual has happened.

  2. Juracan on 11 October 2018, 16:59 said:

    Damn, you are knocking new ones out with impressive speed. I’m glad, given that I check Impish Idea 4-5 times a die hoping for new comments and chapters, but I didn’t really expect this one to pick up so much speed. Kudos.

    Well not currently being employed is probably a part of why I’ve been able to pump out as much as I have. Not a lot else for me to do other than read, write, and apply to jobs.

    Well, one of my childhood heroes, Jakub Wędrowycz was a poacher. But he was also an anti-hero and a parody character, rather than full-blown hero.

    Oh hey that guy has a Wikipedia article, and he sounds kind of Awesome.

    I’m also not sure if we’re supposed to see Atticus as being a sort of anti-hero, I guess? Or at least not a straight-laced Lawful Good type. Problem being that he goes way too far in the other direction and Atticus is just a dick.

    This is sort of a tangent, but you guys can’t imagine my disappointment when I discovered that Karelian Bear Dog is not a half-dog, half-bear bred by those mad Finns, but a dog bred to hunt bears.

    We were all disappointed, man. It’s a disappointing fact.

    Personally I prefer the “mind is a plaything of the body” school, where staying transformed runs a risk of becoming the thing you shifted into. Or at least gaining many of the instincts and reflexive behaviors of the shape one took. I just find the idea, that one moment Atticus is eating mice whole and loves it, because it feels natural for being an owl and only when he’s back to human the grossness and weirdness of the thing hit him, amusing.

    But that involves the protagonist taking a risk to his own life and sanity, and we can’t have that Smith!

    And we are supposed that he survived 1000 years while being hunted by a vengeful god?!

    Yes.

    Yes we are supposed to believe this.

    My head canon is that Coyote allows Atticus to live on his turf, because Atticus’s bumbling idiocy is a source of constant entertainment for him. This is why Coyote was nearby and watching the whole debacle.

    I mean… you’re not wrong, actually. From the next book, it seems like Coyote pals around sometimes because he finds it useful to get Atticus to do stuff for him, and because he’s amusing to watch.

    And I’m sure that’ll turn out to be the case (though I think the ranger being a druid, that Atticus never noticed due to being self-absorbed prick would have been more interesting). But I have to ask, why? That is a ridiculously circuitous way of going about getting Atticus. And we have already been told that Aenghus got tired of sending incompetent underlings and he’ll come in person. So the whole charade seems useless.

    I don’t know! We’ve established that he’s sending monsters to kill him, along with coming himself, and as the book goes on we see more allies that Aenghus enlists to kill Atticus. So there’s no reason at all for this ‘Frame him for murder’ thing. It’s just there.

    To be honest, at this point I’m rooting for Aenghus. Hell, even if he was as big a dick as Atticus makes him to be, he’d still wouldn’t be that much worse than Atticus himself.

    I hadn’t thought about it, but…yeah, I guess for the most part he is more sympathetic. We have yet to see him actually do anything than send mooks to kill or screw with a guy he hates. Atticus, on the other hand, sells books of magic he knows are full of nonsense, herbs to stoners that he knows won’t get them high, and has no problem with letting random people get killed. Aenghus has some more obviously evil things to do later in the novel, but as of right now he doesn’t really strike us as being that villainous, does he?

    Ok, I don’t have any frame of reference for the timing of the events, but that seems like an incredibly quick intervention. From a quick glance at the google maps, the whole place is sort of out of the way and there weren’t any people around to call the cops. If I had to guess how much time it’d take the cops to show up I would guess anywhere from half an hour to few hours when someone finds the body. Maybe 15-20 minutes if the ranger reported seeing poachers via radio. They seem to have shown up in what, a 5 to 10 minutes maybe?

    Caught that too, did you? I remember thinking the same thing. Yes maybe someone heard the gunshots and called the cops, but you’d still expect a good fifteen minutes or so before the po-po actually showed up, right? The way it seems to appear here is that they’re there in less than ten minutes. And I remind you that they’re in the middle of the reserve, meaning that they’re in an area cars can’t get to. And yet they say that they hear car doors shutting on the way out? Making it seem as if the cops just drove up to the crime scene instead of parking at the lot and walking in.

    Unless the conversation, the body examination, and burying the body with magic took longer than fifteen minutes, there’s no reason that the police should be on their heels. And yet they are right here because… drama? I guess? It might be handwaved with ‘Aenghus Og set it all up’ but it’s still really weird.

    Yo Smith maybe we should let you just do articles made up entirely of spitefics??

  3. Juracan on 14 October 2018, 08:38 said:

    So double post, but I’m sorry, I got newer information.

    I was working under the assumption from Hearne’s description that the area they went hunting was on zoo property, but not part of the zoo itself. That he says it’s on a part called ‘The Arizona Trail’ made me think it was a part of the massive hiking trail that goes through the state.

    Well it ain’t. One of my Tumblr followers (the one who does the Tiger’s Curse spork, as it happens) is familiar with the area, and pointed out that it is a part of the zoo, and that the “Arizona Trail” refers to the part of the zoo showcasing local wildlife rather than exotic wildlife (like in the ‘Africa Trail’ part of the zoo). It is also a place where it’s pretty easy for vehicles to get to quickly, so it’s not out of the question that the cops got there so fast.

    You can find the zoo map here. Hunt’s Tomb, which is where Flidais parks her chariot, is even right there.

    So yes, Atticus apparently kills zoo animals for funzies. But this raises a further question of “Why did Atticus choose to go hunting in a place where he can obviously get caught?” The answer, of course, is so the Plot can work.

  4. The Smith of Lie on 14 October 2018, 09:16 said:

    Well, this only reinforces my point about Atticus being a ginormous asshole for poaching animals living within enclosed area. I wouldn’t mind too much if he poached them in the wild. Still a little of a dick move, since he does it purely for sport and not for utility, but I can live with that. But going to the Zoo for hunting is just wrong and my head canon is that Flidais went along with it only as a part of her entrapment ploy and not because she actually enjoy useless, sensless, ovely easy slaughter of semi-domesticated zoo animals…

    So yes, Atticus apparently kills zoo animals for funzies. But this raises a further question of “Why did Atticus choose to go hunting in a place where he can obviously get caught?”

    Well I think everyone here can agree that the most appropriate answer is that he is overconfident, complacent idiot, who never considers the consequences of his actions.

    And I know this is not very important or pertinent to the spork itself, but I have made a mistake in my spite-fic, which ruins one of the easter-eggs it was supposed to contain and it bothers me way more than it should. So, the proper name of agency that J. is an agent of is Society for Paranormal Oversight, Restriction and Keeping.

    Sorry for taking your time and bothering you with such minutia.

  5. TMary on 14 October 2018, 16:44 said:

    Hi again! :D I’m actually kind of on time with this comment for once, go me!

    But then it veers into ‘and then there’s this little preserve for bighorn sheep on zoo property and that’s where Atticus goes to kill bighorn sheep.’

    breathes out

    OK…I agree with most of what you said about how this isn’t great, but probably isn’t the worst thing Atticus has ever done. But on the other hand…there’s only twenty sheep in this entire preserve. Twenty ain’t very much. And if you’re picking one off every so often, it’s going to be…well, less than twenty.

    Also it looks like desert bighorn sheep, the kind in Arizona, actually are endangered, and, to be honest, being off the endangered species list isn’t always a great indicator of how well an species’s population is doing. Wolves, for instance, have technically been moved to “Least Concern”, but their population remains under significant threat from ranching, hunting, and deforestation. They’re definitely not out of harm’s way yet.

    Also, this feels quite out of the supposed character of a druid, to me. Someone who is meant to be in tune with the earth and respectful of animals shouldn’t be wantonly killing them, in my opinion, especially not animals whose populations are still under some threat. And that’s what he’s doing. I’ve got no problem with subsistence hunting; I’m well aware that that’s how much of the human race survived until fairly recently, and as long as you don’t take more than you need and you use what you take then it really doesn’t bother me. But it doesn’t sound like subsistence hunting, in this case. If he took the whole sheep and used it, it would be a little better, but it’s not, he just lets his dog eat some and then leaves. It seems very wasteful and unnecessary and disrespectful.

    I guess my big question is why it had to be bighorn sheep, the hunting of which is strictly controlled, and in a nature preserve, where as a general rule people don’t hunt. If Hearne had to have a scene where Atticus and Oberon and Flidais all go hunting together, surely there are more deer than bighorn sheep, and they’re in places where you’re actually permitted to hunt. Can’t you hunt those? Does it have to be so legally and morally questionable? Could you try to make your character less of a jackass?

    I will grant, though, that that was a pretty good description, which makes me wonder if there’s not a pretty good author hiding somewhere in Hearne’s writing, and wish he had someone to give him some serious constructive criticism to bring it out.

    P.S. I just saw your newest comment about Atticus hunting on zoo property, which kinda…well, that makes him even more of a jerk. And a nimrod.

    Which is kind of amusing, and makes me wonder if I’d be happier if the dog was the main character.

    Oberon does seem like the most likable character in the book (of course, I’m a dog lover, so that might be part of it). And he seems – so far – to react to things the way I’d expect a dog to react if it could talk. Fair play to Hearne for that one, too.

    He doesn’t like to stay transformed into an animal though, because mentally he finds it a weird to be an animal and eat as animals do. For instance, when he turns into an owl he feels gross eating mice whole. And again, credit to Hearne because this makes sense.

    I’m in two minds here, because I, like Smith, am a fan of the whole “animal instincts take over” part of shapeshifting…but on the other hand, I feel like that’s all I’ve ever seen, and it’s interesting to see a human transform into an animal and not be comfortable that way because they don’t have the animal’s instinct, or at least not enough of it to drown out the human voice going “EW EW EW THIS MEAT IS RAW”. So that is something interesting and new, at least, and not really bad.

    Although I must ask why, if one doesn’t think like an animal, one would hunt mice and eat them whole as an owl…but I guess if I had to stay an owl for some reason and needed food, that’d be the logical answer to the problem, so it’s not that big a deal.

    Hearne’s writing in this chapter is actually okay. It’s worrying me. When’s the crap coming back?

    I hate when that happens XD It’s bizarre how one can spend nearly a whole sporking wishing the author’s writing was better, and then be vaguely disappointed when it is better.

    Well here’s another: he feels something wrong right when he transforms, but he does nothing about it.

    If he was characterized deliberately as a reckless daredevil, and if he was far younger than he is, I would forgive this, since, after all, the narration acknowledges his mistake. But since he isn’t either of those two things, I have to say that it feels more like Hearne trying to justify his poor characterization with “Oh, he shouldn’t have done this” instead of rewriting so that he doesn’t, or so that it makes sense for him to do this.

    Flidais rips the fence away (which is vandalism),

    Everyone in this book is just determined to annoy me with their constant rule-breaking and disrespect of other people’s…everything.

    There’s a couple pages of them finding a bighorn sheep, and then chasing it to Flidais, who shoots it with her bow.

    I’m pretty sure that sighthounds actually are the ones to capture (and sometimes kill) the prey for their owners, who then take it from them, but that’s a minor nitpick, again.

    “He demanded loudly that we freeze”? Hey, Hearne, how about give us some dialogue instead of summarizing what characters are saying?

    I feel like now is as good a time as any to recommend the book The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. It’s a really excellent writing guide that focuses primarily on what tends to turn agents and editors off from your manuscript, written by a professional editor.

    I thought of it here because he was describing kinds of dialogue that sound sloppy and unrealistic, and one of the ones he mentioned was just telling us what people said instead of showing it. He called it “journalistic dialogue”, if I’m not very much mistaken (it’s been a while since I looked at the relevant section). In other words, it reads like a newspaper article rather than a story.

    And then he realizes: Flidais, the goddess of animals that he does not trust, was mind-controlling him while he was an animal! Who would have guessed???

    GEE, I MEAN IT’S NOT LIKE HINTS WERE DROPPED OR ANYTHING, ATTICUS.

    This mind-raping from Flidais actually achieves the intended effect of being disturbing, and I feel heaps of sympathy for Oberon right now, who is just confused and shocked over what’s going on.

    Yeah, I feel really bad for him too. Poor Oberon. Poor park ranger who was just doing his job. Poor Oberon who was forced to kill the poor park ranger who was just doing his job. :(

    Too bad any emotion in this scene is ruined by Atticus’s reaction.

    Is that jerk still here?

    Yes I know he’s the protagonist, but still…

    Atticus explains that when you’ve seen enough death, you kind of get over the emotional bits and just assess the situation, which in and of itself is not a bad reaction, staying cool under pressure and all. But again this makes me think of our protagonist as a sociopath, because his immediate concern upon thinking this out is not “HOLY SHIZ WE JUST KILLED AN INNOCENT MAN!” Nope, Atticus’s concern is now he’s going to inconvenience him and his dog.

    Yeah, and…OK, I don’t really know, but I think while it is possible to train yourself to shut down your emotions at a death for a little while until you can deal with them – after all, if soldiers or cops had hysterics every time they killed someone or someone they knew died, they wouldn’t be able to survive – you eventually do have to take those emotions back out again and process them. Having to do that too often contributes to the mental trauma soldiers and police often suffer.

    And if you don’t have to do that – if you can shrug your shoulders and go on with your day – then you probably are a sociopath.

    Yup! His problem isn’t that an innocent man is dead, or that Flidais used Oberon to murder someone, it’s that he could totally get caught.

    Yeah, also if this is your immediate reaction after assessing the situation. I don’t care how capable you are of compartmentalizing, you should still think about how that was an innocent man.

    And maybe, I dunno, comfort your dog, dude?

    And of course Flidais has never heard of DNA, because the gods are stoopid, tee-hee!

    I would just love it if at some point one of the gods fired back with, “Of course I know what DNA is, I made you out of the stuff.”

    Of course he is, because you’re a twatwaffle!

    That keeps making me giggle every time I look at it XD

    That makes me a little bit uncomfortable.

    Me too.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about lately, and it’s hard to phrase this right, but here goes: I think a lot, probably most, maybe all white people, at least in America, are at least a little bit racially insensitive. Often without our even knowing it. I don’t think all of us are full-blown racist, far from it, but racial stereotypes and assumptions are very insidious in our culture, and we’re fed them from a very early age, to the point where maybe we don’t even realize they’ve bled into our way of thinking until someone from a culture we just insulted calls us out on it. Now, in this day and age there’s less and less excuse for not knowing what’s offensive and what’s not, and obviously there’s never an excuse for outright racist behavior. But the media we watch and read is still often filtered through a very white, very American lens, and if we’re not watching for that (and even sometimes if we are!), some seemingly harmless assumptions can slide right under our radar and end up embedded in our psyches.

    (I say “American” because, even when the other culture is “white”, we’re not always that great at portraying it non-stereotypically.)

    I guess the point I’m making is that Hearne…well, he may or may not be a racist. I don’t know the man, and I’d prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s not. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be racially insensitive. That doesn’t mean he’s not carrying some racist stereotypes with him. Again, a lot of white people are. Maybe all of us. And I think the only thing we can do is be ready to listen to non-white people, and non-American white people, when they tell us, “Hey, that’s actually a stereotypical portrayal and offensive to us.” Then don’t get defensive – listen to what they’re saying and why they’re saying it, and try to be a little more respectful and aware from there on out.

    OK. Hoppin’ off my soapbox now. Hope I phrased that correctly and neither sounded like I was saying “But racists aren’t so bad, they need to be understood, this is hard for them” nor “All white people are racists!” Because neither of those things is what I meant at all.

    He asks Flidais if she can identify the magic of origin, and notes that if she tries to lie and say the magic’s actually Voudoun when it’s clearly Irish, then he knows she’s in on whatever just happened here. Or something.

    That doesn’t make a whole ton of sense. I mean, if Flidais is smart she won’t lie about the origin of the magic. She knows Atticus will see right through that. That doesn’t sound like a great way to prove guilt or innocence, frankly.

    And why would she be in on what just happened here? She wanted to kill the dude!

    Granted, Aengus being involved doesn’t make a ding-dang bit of sense, either.

    I agree with all of your analysis below, just thought I’d add my own two cents here and there:

    Atticus shouldn’t have to use the Internet to see what mortal perceptions of Aenghus Og are. Has he not been reading Irish literature? At all? Books of mythology?

    Heck, he shouldn’t even have to go that far! He was a druid! He was a priest! What were the mortal perceptions of Aengus back when worship of him was widespread? And if they were correct, why did they change? And if they were incorrect, and Atticus knew they were incorrect, then why the flaming tusky anteaters didn’t he do something about that? Again: DRUID! Teaching his people about the gods was literally his entire JOB!

    Not to mention that there doesn’t seem to be any record of Aengus behaving the way Atticus insists he behaves, except for the stories he’s twisting around. There is nothing to support his view of the god. You’d think, if Aengus was that bad, there’d be some record of it from somewhere. Atticus sounds more like he was personally wronged by Aengus at some point and cannot learn to let it go. No, Aengus must be the villain here, somehow! There’s no way Atticus could be in the wrong!

    Essentially, Hearne has written a character that fits a list of Irish stereotypes, but he cares nothing about Irish literature.

    You know what just hit me with blinding clarity?

    Atticus isn’t an Irishman proud of his Irishness. He’s an American who found out at some point that he (like most white Americans) has some Irish ancestry and, despite not knowing or wishing to learn anything more about Irish culture or history, decides to go all “Irish pride” because something something freedom whiskey magic Celtic knotwork. GREEN!

    There’s actually kind of a lot of Americans out there like that, and they’re really quite annoying. And that’s what Atticus feels like to me. He doesn’t feel like he’s genuinely Irish, like he’s got a deep connection with his culture. He feels like he learned he’s one-sixteenth Irish on his mom’s side and so he’s now going to do stereotypically “Irish” things and demand you translate a cool-sounding phrase into Irish for him, for free, so he can have a tattoo to celebrate his “Irish heritage”. Now, if you’ll excuse him, he’s off to the pub in his “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” shirt for St. Paddy’s Day to get drunk and sing “Danny Boy”. Faith, and ye can tell that he’s Irish! Look out for the wee leprechauns!

    Sorry, that, uh…that kinda took on a life of its own there. But you can see what I mean, can’t you?

    I get it, but I feel as if an immortal Druid would not be that crass about nature.

    Yeah, that’s what I thought. “Dude, Atticus, not all birds screech. And as for them constantly pooping, I dunno, have you heard of…magic, by any chance? Maybe they’re magic birds!”

    FOUR: TMary can correct me on these things

    Um…did I give the impression that I knew what I was talking about, in regards to Irish mythology? Because if I did, I am so sorry about that, that was not my intention. I really don’t know very much; half the time I’m going off Wikipedia myself. I’m just a beginner. When I see something that I know is wrong, I’ll call it out, but a lot of times I don’t know.

    Like here. I’m not sure whether Wikipedia’s account of Aengus’s actions is right or not. But it does seem to me that logically, if there were famous mythological accounts of Aengus behaving like an absolute jerk, Wikipedia would have mentioned it at least in passing.

    Epke does seem to know something? Maybe she/he can offer further information?

    Once again, I’m sorry.

    The point of these paragraphs is supposed to be an explanation as to why the Aenghus of the book doesn’t match real world legends and myths about him, but it just falls flat. None of it adds up. It still doesn’t give him a motivation or backstory, it just handwaves it all by Atticus saying, “He’s a dick! Trust me on this.” It’s a personality Hearne invented from scratch, but he’s trying to act as if this makes sense. It doesn’t.

    And that’s the thing about wildly altering mythical creatures. You have to give some kind of an explanation for why they’re different from every other depiction of them ever from time immemorial, and why, if they’re the way you say they are, nobody’s cottoned on yet. Very few people can pull that kind of thing off convincingly.

    It’s like what SMeyer did with vampires, but in reverse. Why are they excessively beautiful? Why do none of the methods listed kill them? Why do they sparkle? And why doesn’t anyone know these things about vampires? She can’t answer the questions.

    Also, um:

    Though it pains me to think of it because of what it says about my people, our god of love is a ruthless seeker of conquest, wholly self-serving, and more than a little vindictive.

    Wow, projection much, Atticus?

    Look, even if Aengus was everything Atticus says he is, Atty still wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

    Atticus thinks they’ll have it out in no time, because he thinks investigations are like in CSI, I guess, but it’s the best option they’ve got right now.

    I mean, if you made it look as if there was no grave, magically, they would never know…but there I go trying to bring magic into this fantasy story.

    But the way it’s phrased makes it sound like the she’d be fine doing this in anywhere in Europe, it’s just the Americas that causes them trouble.

    THIS IS AMERICA! We have freedom! We don’t have to obey all your “magic” hocus-pocus!

    The stags mock Oberon,

    Poor Oberon. :(

    [He also tells us that Flidais is a sociopath, but he was the guy who only got upset at a man’s death because it might get him in trouble.]

    And wasn’t he the one going on two chapters ago about how “that’s just the gods’ morality and you can’t do anything about it, and mortals just need to treat them with respect and caution”?

    Join me next time, when Atticus finally picks up this magic sword everyone’s been going on about.

    Hooray…?

    The Smith of Lie: I’m glad, given that I check Impish Idea 4-5 times a die hoping for new comments and chapters,

    I thought I was the only one who did that XD

    It is a fenced-off area, which restricts the escape options and makes the whole thing less like a hunt and more like shooting a fish in a barrel. Even if it’s an exceptionally large barrel.

    This too. At least a deer has a chance to run for it.

    This is sort of a tangent, but you guys can’t imagine my disappointment when I discovered that Karelian Bear Dog is not a half-dog, half-bear bred by those mad Finns, but a dog bred to hunt bears.

    I haven’t thought about Karelian Bear Dogs in years. I used to think they were quite scary enough as a little kid without them being half-bear XD

    Also my brother always says it “KARELIAN BEAR DOG” in an extremely dramatic thunderclap-worthy voice.

    I just find the idea, that one moment Atticus is eating mice whole and loves it, because it feels natural for being an owl and only when he’s back to human the grossness and weirdness of the thing hit him, amusing.

    Like this?

    My head canon is that Coyote allows Atticus to live on his turf, because Atticus’s bumbling idiocy is a source of constant entertainment for him. This is why Coyote was nearby and watching the whole debacle.

    Mine too.

    But I have to ask, why? That is a ridiculously circuitous way of going about getting Atticus.

    So we could reuse this clip!

    I’ve been thinking about it and giggling randomly ever since you showed it to me.

    But in all seriousness…yeah, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s more like Atticus just has an obsession about Aengus Óg and needs everything bad that happens to him to link back to the guy.

    “I broke a plate! Aengus must have put a curse on me!”

    To be honest, at this point I’m rooting for Aenghus. Hell, even if he was as big a dick as Atticus makes him to be, he’d still wouldn’t be that much worse than Atticus himself.

    YES!

    I’m on Aengus’s side too. Anyone trying to get rid of Atticus is okay in my book.

    Ok, I don’t have any frame of reference for the timing of the events, but that seems like an incredibly quick intervention.

    I almost can’t blame Hearne for this; I have issues with fictional (and real-life) time management as well, always thinking something will take a shorter time than it actually does. I just wish he’d looked at it again.

    And now, for some spite.

    Oh goody.

    “Because I know something you don’t.” “And what is it?” “I am not left handed.”

    Abwahahahaha XD

    Besides, he was still standing there with a sword inside her torso, which was a mighty impressive argument.

    I like this line. It makes me chuckle. :)

    That was an awesome spitefic, and I second Juracan’s call for articles made entirely of spite. :D It’s also my headcanon. That way I feel less terrible about the Morrigan going and eating people’s hearts.

    Juracan: Well not currently being employed is probably a part of why I’ve been able to pump out as much as I have. Not a lot else for me to do other than read, write, and apply to jobs.

    Oh. Well, as much fun as I’m having with this sporking going so fast, I do hope you find a job soon. :)

    I’m also not sure if we’re supposed to see Atticus as being a sort of anti-hero, I guess? Or at least not a straight-laced Lawful Good type. Problem being that he goes way too far in the other direction and Atticus is just a dick.

    That’s the trouble with anti-heroes. Too many authors seem to think that being an anti-hero is a justification for having them do awful things. “He’s not one of the ‘good guys’, he’s morally ambiguous! Of course he’s going to do some bad things!” But if all you’ve got is someone committing immoralities right and left, then he’s not an anti-hero. He’s a villain.

    Yes.

    Yes we are supposed to believe this.

    I refuse. I don’t have to believe anything I don’t want to.

    Aenghus has some more obviously evil things to do later in the novel, but as of right now he doesn’t really strike us as being that villainous, does he?

    It’s really interesting that at this point, all we’ve got as evidence for Aengus being the bad guy is…Atticus’s claims that he is. Atticus, a man who’s already shown himself to be callous towards loss of human life and not all that trustworthy.

    A better story would be one in which we discover that Atticus is an delusional unreliable narrator who firmly believes Aengus is the bad guy, even though he was the one who started basically everything.

    The Smith of Lie: Sorry for taking your time and bothering you with such minutia.

    It’s okay. I’m still bummed about not having checked to see if Lugh was Aengus’s father or not XD

    Apropos of nothing, but thought you might like to know: I asked my siblings about posting our sporking again, and they gave the idea the go-ahead, so now we’re editing the first chapter and hoping it meets the II standards. If all goes well, we’ll start posting our sporking. Wish us luck!

  6. The Smith of Lie on 15 October 2018, 01:17 said:

    I guess my big question is why it had to be bighorn sheep, the hunting of which is strictly controlled, and in a nature preserve, where as a general rule people don’t hunt. If Hearne had to have a scene where Atticus and Oberon and Flidais all go hunting together, surely there are more deer than bighorn sheep, and they’re in places where you’re actually permitted to hunt.

    But Hearne has to make his point regarding how backwards the gods are, so Flidais has to hunt an animal she never heard about before somehow, despite beig a goddess of animals…

    Although I must ask why, if one doesn’t think like an animal, one would hunt mice and eat them whole as an owl…but I guess if I had to stay an owl for some reason and needed food, that’d be the logical answer to the problem, so it’s not that big a deal.

    My bigger problem with completely retaining your human mind when shapeshifting is the fact you’ll have no idea how to move in the animal form. Even just going from bipedal to quadrupedal would require dramatic change in one’s habits. Turning into a bird would be even more different.

    So it is either lots and lots of practice with lots and lots of failure and never being actually able to match the real animal’s freedom of movement and abilities or it is allowing at least some amount of animal instinct to “infect” you.

    Atticus’s lifespan excuses the first option, but if that’s the case it should at least get a passing mention.

    Yeah, and…OK, I don’t really know, but I think while it is possible to train yourself to shut down your emotions at a death for a little while until you can deal with them – after all, if soldiers or cops had hysterics every time they killed someone or someone they knew died, they wouldn’t be able to survive – you eventually do have to take those emotions back out again and process them. Having to do that too often contributes to the mental trauma soldiers and police often suffer.

    Even having trained yourself for that it isn’t easy. This is why there are relatively few marksmen in modern armies compared to the army as a whole. Normal soldiers are trained to fire on enemy in a heat of battle, often as a matter of reflex and actually having killed people does contribute, as you mention, to PTSD suffered by many veterans. But they aren’t very used to killing people in cold blood, when not in immediate danger – as snipers often do. I don’t remember the exact number, but I recall that the percent of people suitable to be a sniper was allegedly somewhere in single digits, not because of skill requirements but because of psychological element.

    So yeah, Atticus is being a psychopath here.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about lately, and it’s hard to phrase this right, but here goes: I think a lot, probably most, maybe all white people, at least in America, are at least a little bit racially insensitive. […]

    Well I for one didn’t read any sterotype from that passage. But that comes from living way, way to the east. Not having to deal with the race issues in the way US had I can tell you that people here don’t really pay as much attention as I see paid by Americans to those things. It might be a different kind of insensibility, born of indiferrence, but from the outside it sometimes comes of as people being oversensitive about smallest things.

    Guess it’s a matter of perspective. For example I’ve read the passage quoted by Juracan and read none of the stereotyping in it, even as exposed to American media as I am. For us here, I guess, the full stereotype is way more overblown – I don’t know, he’d need a sombrero and Mariachi guitar on his back or something.

    That doesn’t make a whole ton of sense. I mean, if Flidais is smart she won’t lie about the origin of the magic. She knows Atticus will see right through that. That doesn’t sound like a great way to prove guilt or innocence, frankly.

    I guess Atticus is using himself as a measuring stick and this assumes everyone is idiot as well.

    Again: DRUID! Teaching his people about the gods was literally his entire JOB!

    Well there you have it! No wonder people have misconceptions if this ding-bat was supposed to teach them.

    Sorry, that, uh…that kinda took on a life of its own there. But you can see what I mean, can’t you?

    I wonder if Hearne, an American born and raised, has at some point in live learned he has an Irish ancestors…

    THIS IS AMERICA! We have freedom! We don’t have to obey all your “magic” hocus-pocus!

    If this was one of countries where population is mostly atheist and no religion holds a large inflence it’d make sense. But in US? Besides Christianity, you have all manner of believers, including the new-agey, vague stuff that any pagan god could easily claim as a power source, mainly due to the vagueness and the fact that many of those belief system steals elements from old mythologies left, right and center.

    I thought I was the only one who did that XD

    I guess the timezones are holding us back. Just imagine how the comment sections would look if we happened to be online at the same time? 40-50 comments under each spork and half of them just us :P.

    Like this?

    More or less.

    “Because I know something you don’t.” “And what is it?” “I am not left handed.”

    Abwahahahaha XD

    I recently (but after posting this particular spite-fic) accidentaly run into one of your older comments (no, I am not stalking you, really. Honestly. :P) where you mentioned Princess Bride and figured you’ll like this one.

    That’s the trouble with anti-heroes. Too many authors seem to think that being an anti-hero is a justification for having them do awful things. “He’s not one of the ‘good guys’, he’s morally ambiguous! Of course he’s going to do some bad things!” But if all you’ve got is someone committing immoralities right and left, then he’s not an anti-hero. He’s a villain.

    Making the anti-hero likeable is difficult. Returning to Flashman again – he is not a good person. Looked at objectively he is a straight up villain – he has raped a woman, he has compunction against stealing, his loyalty is worthless, he amuses himself by causing troubles to others… But for all this he is weirdly charming.

    One part of this is that he is aware and honest about it all. He knows he is a scoundrel and makes no excuses. And even though he comes through his misadventures and gains undesreved reards, along the way he more often than not suffers greatly, which makes for a sort of karmic balance – he is a bad man and bad things happen to him.

    Atticus compared to Flashman comess of as a hypocrite who get away with all his done. Which is why Flashy is weirdly likeable and I can root for him, while Atticus deserves to be dragged behind a speeding train.

    Apropos of nothing, but thought you might like to know: I asked my siblings about posting our sporking again, and they gave the idea the go-ahead, so now we’re editing the first chapter and hoping it meets the II standards. If all goes well, we’ll start posting our sporking. Wish us luck!

    I’m looking forward to it! I promise that if there’s anything worthy in there it’ll get its own spite-fics.

  7. The Smith of Lie on 15 October 2018, 03:03 said:

    Making the anti-hero likeable is difficult. Returning to Flashman again – he is not a good person. Looked at objectively he is a straight up villain – he has raped a woman, he has compunction against stealing, his loyalty is worthless, he amuses himself by causing troubles to others… But for all this he is weirdly charming.

    A quick correction and ammendment, because I was in hurry this morning.

    Flashman obviously has no compunction against stealing and looting. He also cheats on his wife. A lot. He has been married multiple times under false pretenses. He was semi-willing collaborator in the slave trade…

    To sum him up – legally he’s a criminal, morally he’s objectionable, personally I like him.

  8. TMary on 15 October 2018, 07:11 said:

    But Hearne has to make his point regarding how backwards the gods are, so Flidais has to hunt an animal she never heard about before somehow, despite beig a goddess of animals…

    sobs into her pens

    My bigger problem with completely retaining your human mind when shapeshifting is the fact you’ll have no idea how to move in the animal form. Even just going from bipedal to quadrupedal would require dramatic change in one’s habits. Turning into a bird would be even more different. […]

    This…is a really, really good point and something I am going to keep in mind, should shapeshifting into an animal ever come up in one of my stories. Which it probably will.

    Even having trained yourself for that it isn’t easy. This is why there are relatively few marksmen in modern armies compared to the army as a whole. […]

    Huh. That is all really interesting, and good to know. And very useful for my pirate story. Thanks ever so. files that away

    Well I for one didn’t read any sterotype from that passage. But that comes from living way, way to the east. […]

    I didn’t exactly see the stereotyping myself, but I’m gonna take Juracan’s word for it. That was kind of my point, that some things are insidious and you don’t even notice them until suddenly someone says, “Hey, that’s…not great.”

    Your point about the sombrero and Mariachi guitar kinda ties into that; like, if Hearne had described the man that way, I’m pretty sure most Americans, white or no, would go “Wait WHAT?! Dude, that’s not acceptable.” But littler things slide under the radar, because we don’t see them as insensitive.

    And it’s definitely not the worst thing he could have said, not by a long shot, but he could have done better, I think.

    I guess Atticus is using himself as a measuring stick and this assumes everyone is idiot as well.

    That would explain a lot.

    Well there you have it! No wonder people have misconceptions if this ding-bat was supposed to teach them.

    Atticus: “I know things about Aengus Óg that you don’t know!”
    Atticus’s…I guess congregation? (I’m not sure what the right word is): “What things?”
    Him: “Terrible things. They’d make your hair curl, if you knew.”
    Them: “Yeah, but what are they?”
    Him: “Bwa-ha, like I’d tell you plebs! You’re all infatuated with the guy.”
    Them: “Well…maybe we wouldn’t be, if you told us—”
    Him: “Ah-cht, be quiet. You’ll find out soon enough. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

    I wonder if Hearne, an American born and raised, has at some point in live learned he has an Irish ancestors…

    I wouldn’t be altogether surprised to learn that. Hearne is apparently an English name – and kind of a well-established one, at that – but there is also an Irish surname Hearn, and anyway there’s no law saying that after a couple of generations here an Irishwoman might not have married into an English family.

    Anyway, a lot of white Americans have at least a little Irish ancestry, I’d honestly be surprised if there wasn’t any in his make-up.

    If this was one of countries where population is mostly atheist and no religion holds a large inflence it’d make sense. But in US? Besides Christianity, you have all manner of believers, including the new-agey, vague stuff that any pagan god could easily claim as a power source, mainly due to the vagueness and the fact that many of those belief system steals elements from old mythologies left, right and center.

    I don’t think you quite understand, Smith. We have freedom. FREEEEEDOM!

    Yeah, I agree with you.

    I guess the timezones are holding us back. Just imagine how the comment sections would look if we happened to be online at the same time? 40-50 comments under each spork and half of them just us :P.

    Thank goodness we do live in different time zones or we’d be annoying everyone here XD

    Doesn’t help that I stay up quite late at night, either…

    I recently (but after posting this particular spite-fic) accidentaly run into one of your older comments (no, I am not stalking you, really. Honestly. :P)

    squinty eyes

    where you mentioned Princess Bride and figured you’ll like this one.

    I did.

    It’s a good thing Morrigan was actually right-handed…or left…or whatever she was fighting with XD

    Making the anti-hero likeable is difficult. Returning to Flashman again – he is not a good person. Looked at objectively he is a straight up villain – he has raped a woman, he has compunction against stealing, his loyalty is worthless, he amuses himself by causing troubles to others… But for all this he is weirdly charming. […]

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head better than I did. Or else hit a different nail, or something. At any rate, yeah, that sort of character works when the author recognizes what a horrible person they are, which makes their actions, not less objectionable, but less objectionable to read about.

    Flashman obviously has no compunction against stealing and looting.

    I guessed that was probably what you meant. XD

    To sum him up – legally he’s a criminal, morally he’s objectionable, personally I like him.

    I understand. One of my favorite characters in Order of the Stick is Belkar Bitterleaf, and he’s…well, this is a conversation between him and a prison guard, to give you an idea:

    Belkar: Look, if you humans don’t want people coming into your towns and killing you, then you ought to put up some kind of a sign. Something like, “Thank you for not killing more than five of us.”

    Guard: We don’t want you to kill ANY of us!

    Belkar: Well, now you’re just being unreasonable.

    So there you are XD

    I’m looking forward to it! I promise that if there’s anything worthy in there it’ll get its own spite-fics.

    I leave it in your capable hands. :) And I hope it is worth the wait! I think it will be…but I don’t want to spoil any of the crazier aspects of this book.

  9. The Smith of Lie on 15 October 2018, 07:41 said:

    I don’t think you quite understand, Smith. We have freedom. FREEEEEDOM!

    So you are telling me you are all Scots?

    Thank goodness we do live in different time zones or we’d be annoying everyone here XD

    And that’d be terrible, us annoying all the 3 other regulars. Or 2, because I think Juracan doesn’t mind all that much, given we are loyal fans of his sporks.

    But I’m all for establishing some other communication venue, in case we go ridiculously offtopic right I’m doing now, so we could avoid bothering others.

    squinty eyes

    innocent whistling

    I understand. One of my favorite characters in Order of the Stick is Belkar Bitterleaf, and he’s…well,[…]

    Well yeah, it’s been some years since I’ve last been up to date with OotS, but Belkar was always fun. He, even moreso than Flashy, upholds the noble tradition of comedic sociopathy.

    Lets be honest, in Belkar’s case (and in some others, like Alucard from Hellsing for example), authors just gone for refuge in audacity – the characters are so obviously and over-the-top bloodthirsty that they cross back from being hateful to being fun to watch/read about. The character I mentioned before, Jakub Wędrowycz, is also a little bit like this.

  10. Aikaterini on 15 October 2018, 10:20 said:

    His problem isn’t that an innocent man is dead, or that Flidais used Oberon to murder someone, it’s that he could totally get caught.

    And he’s not even concerned about how his dog, who’s meant to be his trusted companion, feels about this. Our Hero, ladies and gentlemen.

    Atticus shouldn’t have to use the Internet to see what mortal perceptions of Aenghus Og are. Has he not been reading Irish literature?

    Maybe it’s because Hearne hasn’t read this Irish literature or he wanted to make Atticus more ‘hip’ by having him use the Internet instead of reading books.

    You’d think an immortal Druid, who is supposed to be all connected to the Earth and stuff, would not be that rude about birds?

    This is the same Druid who hunted animals on zoo property instead of just going into the woods to hunt deer.

    A girl falls in love with Aenghus and then dies of grief? How… is that on Aenghus? He’s not obliged to love her back.

    In fact, what happened to the woman that Atticus knocked up? Did he love her? Were they a ‘friends with benefits’ type of thing? Did he stay with her until she died or did he leave before or after she became pregnant? Based on his characterization so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if Atticus just wanted a fling with her. And if she did happen to love him and he left her because he didn’t love her back…how is that different from what he’s blaming Aenghus for?

    (like most white Americans) has some Irish ancestry

    While there are a lot of Irish-Americans, according to the 2013 American census (https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk), they only made up 10.5% of the population. In that year, there were actually more German-Americans (14.6%) living in the United States. And the demographics of white Americans consist of a variety of European ethnic groups.

    He doesn’t feel like he’s genuinely Irish, like he’s got a deep connection with his culture. He feels like he learned he’s one-sixteenth Irish on his mom’s side

    To me, he sounds like a modern American frat boy. I just don’t buy him as an immortal who’s lived for hundreds of years and has gained the knowledge and experience that goes with it. Not because he’s irreverant and unserious, there are plenty of deities who are depicted as light-hearted troublemakers. But because he comes across as so utterly immature. He has no gravitas, no charisma, and he seems like the adult and crude version of Percy Jackson.

    Too many authors seem to think that being an anti-hero is a justification for having them do awful things. “He’s not one of the ‘good guys’, he’s morally ambiguous! Of course he’s going to do some bad things!”

    Exactly. Sometimes it gets to the point where there’s little difference between an anti-hero and the villain, which misses the point of the anti-hero archetype to begin with.

  11. TMary on 15 October 2018, 15:43 said:

    So you are telling me you are all Scots?

    Well, a lot of us have some Scottish ancestry XD

    But I’m all for establishing some other communication venue, in case we go ridiculously offtopic right I’m doing now, so we could avoid bothering others.

    I’ve been thinking about that, actually. Do you have a Google account?

    Lets be honest, in Belkar’s case (and in some others, like Alucard from Hellsing for example), authors just gone for refuge in audacity – the characters are so obviously and over-the-top bloodthirsty that they cross back from being hateful to being fun to watch/read about. The character I mentioned before, Jakub Wędrowycz, is also a little bit like this.

    Exactly. It’s terrible, but it’s also so absurd you can’t help but enjoy it.

    Atticus is…is not doing that.

    In fact, what happened to the woman that Atticus knocked up? Did he love her? Were they a ‘friends with benefits’ type of thing? Did he stay with her until she died or did he leave before or after she became pregnant? Based on his characterization so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if Atticus just wanted a fling with her. And if she did happen to love him and he left her because he didn’t love her back…how is that different from what he’s blaming Aenghus for?

    Those…are some very good questions.

    Yeah, at this point Atticus is so far from the moral high ground he’s sinking to the center of the earth.

    While there are a lot of Irish-Americans, according to the 2013 American census (https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk), they only made up 10.5% of the population. In that year, there were actually more German-Americans (14.6%) living in the United States. And the demographics of white Americans consist of a variety of European ethnic groups.

    Welp, that’ll teach me to use sleep-deprived intuitive statistics instead of real ones XD

    Although…I wonder how high the percentage of “some Irish ancestry” is, as opposed to “Irish-American”. ‘Cause my family has never called ourselves Irish-American – we’ve never called ourselves any-particular-nationality-American, seeing as we’re a pretty big European mixture – but I know there is some Irish, on both sides of the family. And based on how mixed up everybody here is, I wouldn’t be surprised if having some Irish ancestry was very common.

    Still, though, sleep-deprived intuitive statistics<real ones. And that is interesting about the German-Americans; I wouldn’t have guessed that.

    To me, he sounds like a modern American frat boy. I just don’t buy him as an immortal who’s lived for hundreds of years and has gained the knowledge and experience that goes with it.

    This too. That’s also a huge problem with his characterization.

    Exactly. Sometimes it gets to the point where there’s little difference between an anti-hero and the villain, which misses the point of the anti-hero archetype to begin with.

    nodnod

  12. The Smith of Lie on 16 October 2018, 06:07 said:

    I’ve been thinking about that, actually. Do you have a Google account?

    I do have multiple ones actually. The main one would be perzyn(at)gmail.com

    To me, he sounds like a modern American frat boy. I just don’t buy him as an immortal who’s lived for hundreds of years and has gained the knowledge and experience that goes with it. Not because he’s irreverant and unserious, there are plenty of deities who are depicted as light-hearted troublemakers. But because he comes across as so utterly immature. He has no gravitas, no charisma, and he seems like the adult and crude version of Percy Jackson.

    It wouldn’t be half as bad if he didn’t really come off as 2.000 years old. That’s impossible to write accurately, given none multimillenarians running around. Atticus doesn’t even act like a responsible adult however.

    Like, for example, he just left his motorcycle in the middle of the road, because he wanted to roger Flidais. Sure, it is a small thing, but they add up to what you’ve so aptly described as “American frat boy”.

    And he’s not even concerned about how his dog, who’s meant to be his trusted companion, feels about this. Our Hero, ladies and gentlemen.

    I am sometimes terribly naive. I extended an undearned credit of trust here, just assuming that Atticus actually cared about Oberon and perhaps even tried to calm him down and cheer him up and Juracan just focused on the more glaring problem of an innocent man being dead.

    Given the consensus interpretation is that Atticus didn’t even do that much, I have just one thing to say about him – Atticus you’re [REDACTED].

    Now please forgive me as I go to deposit all of my savings into swear jar.