[8.7 Spoilers] New Other Correspondence #2

Subject: (2nd Batch) Tashlit
From: Matthew Moss (Mossball@mooseboop.ca)
CC: Avery (AKelly@tbaynorth.ca); Verona (VHayward@tbaynorth.ca); Lucy (LEllingson@tbaynorth.ca)
Attached: Cblock6.jpg

Because Verona was interested I forwarded you guys some early thoughts on Tashlit.  It’s tricky now to give you a rundown without retreading old ground.  What I can tell you is that because the approach with Tashlit differed from our usual (with the exception of the unnamed goblin painter that Verona also liked) we had to work backwards.

With most other recruits we either knew what they were capable of when they joined because we had initial skirmishes.  Others (like Montague) we sought out for specific roles.  In Montague’s case that was powering the perimeter.  For Tashlit we had only the recommendation from Verona (To paraphrase: “she probably doesn’t eat babies. Good fashion sense”) and we had to figure out what to do with her.

This is fine.  I don’t want to sound critical.  It’s good if you help vet incoming Others and have a role.  But there were a few days where both we & Tashlit felt a bit awkward trying to fit her into things.  She has had a long and tiring walk across Canada since leaving her dad’s place.  We don’t begrudge her a bit of respite and she spent a day swimming and setting up in a disused cabin south of Kennet.  But things were not easy and while she did guard the river mouth from a kelpie and drowned echo she communicated to Alpeana that she felt guilty for not doing more.

However she was able to do some healing and helped power the perimeter one evening.  We also discovered she can spend power to raise and lower the water level of the river and while not useful right now it gives us options.

Mostly now she intends to help with walking the perimeter if we expect trouble.  If Verona is serious about wanting Tashlit as a familiar then it might be best if we don’t become too dependent on Tashlit in one area.

Tashlit is sponsored by Alpeana and Guilherme.

“What is with this recruitment process, Ronnie?  Please tell me you spent more time with Tashlit before recommending her.”

“I basically said hey cool Other, I know you want the jewel Clementine has but no and she listened.”


“That counts for something!  After a night of dealing with a tour through the ruins, then butthead ghosts, old stillbirth ghouls or whatever, and then freaking Sharon?  And expecting to deal with my dad, and then there was Bristow, but that was later…”

“I really want to put Bristow behind us.”

“Yeah.  Sorry Ave.  So, uh, nothing was working that night and Tashlit was like, a reminder.  Of what I wanted the practice to be.”

“I liked her, and so did Snow.  I think it worked out.”

“I guess.”

“I think my instincts are pretty good.”

“Can you imagine the mound of crap we’d be in with the local Others if she hadn’t worked out?  We’re already on testy ground.”

“But she did work out, is the important thing.”

“I, um, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  Even if Tashlit isn’t a perfect fit, isn’t she the Other we can trust most?  We could use more of that.”

“You’re not wrong.”

“Seems like I was ahead of the game, picking her.  Really, you two need to pick things up a bit.  Why am I doing all the legwork here?”

“Easy does it, Ronnie.”

“I even picked Snowdrop.”


“Go back to sleep, Snow.”

“Is she okay?”

“She’s okay, I think.  Battered but she’s tough.”

“And you?  Are you okay, Ave?  How’s that shoulder?”

“It sucks and I’m really hoping Tashlit has the juice for a healing because I don’t know how to explain this to my parents.  I’m trying not to think about it, which brings it down from about a nine to an eight point five.”

“We could ask Zed to stop and see about buying better meds for the pain.  Want to tap him on the shoulder, Lucy?  He’s wearing noise canceling headphones.”

“I’d rather get home sooner, actually.”

“Sure, Ave.  Why don’t you send Matthew a message asking to make sure Tashlit saves her faith juice, Ronnie, and I’ll get up the next email to read aloud?”

“Good plan.  Emailing him now.”

“Next is… Lis.”

Subject: (2nd Batch) Lis
From: Matthew Moss (Mossball@mooseboop.ca)
CC: Avery (AKelly@tbaynorth.ca); Verona (VHayward@tbaynorth.ca); Lucy (LEllingson@tbaynorth.ca)
Attached: Cblock7.jpg

One persistent issue we were having was that we could patrol the perimeter at night /walk the boundaries/put power into things and that helps with more dangerous threats that come by woodland path or backroads.  It doesn’t help with those that come by car.  Cig has been handling some of that but the reality is that a hundred people will stop in Kennet on a quiet day as they pass through on the highway.  They get fast food or stop somewhere to use the washroom & any one of them can be a practitioner or a very subtle Other.  Cig can’t get into the gas stations or fast food establishments and can’t easily tail someone in a car who comes into town and drives straight to the town center.

Lis is a Wallflower Doppelganger.  Dopplegangers often copy an individual and some may mirror someone and then remove that someone to take over their life or steal boyfriends (among other things).  Lis doesn’t match herself to a single individual and instead will match to a group.  She averages out the traits of the group for physical features & mannerisms & can act seamlessly as a member of that group.  The bigger the crowd the better the effect.

I won’t lie.  Lis has had a difficult history.  She could be compared to John.  John came into being fighting from minute one.  He took lives and gained some awareness and more capability for critical thought and reflection with each one.  Is it possible that we could have a conversation with John and decide that at one point he was capable of stopping what he was doing and leaving but didn’t?  Sure.

Lis manifested in an all-girls private school in Quebec and she came out fighting in her own way.  The climate she arose in was one of backstabbing & sabotage & bitterness and she blended into that crowd and poured fuel on the fires.  From day one she turned student against student and teacher against teacher and lives were lost.  Two groups of witch hunters banded together to try to sort through the mess and the three hundred students in attendance and she joined the collective witch hunters with each group thinking she was a member of the other.  She blended in with the staff of the motel where they were staying when they weren’t investigating & acquired keys.  Then she quietly and methodically went from room to room to where witch hunters were sleeping and executed them.

That’s the reality.  This is part of what I was dreading discussing with you girls.  That some of the Others we need in order to maintain the peace and security of Kennet are ones where– I don’t know.  I don’t know where I stand on what Lis is and the history she comes from or how responsible I think she is about it all.  She sprung from humans and human nature and she has settled down since.

The last two witch hunters she tried to kill were returning from a shift watching the school and they smelled the blood the moment they opened the car door in the parking lot.  They killed a motel staff member out of paranoia before injuring Lis & driving her away.  She remained in the wind for some time after and I think that was the break she needed to start thinking straight.  She hit the ground running and then went from crisis to crisis without stopping to think– hiding meant calming down and finding a kernel of Self without being surrounded by the infighting and ugliness that helped her come into being.

Lis is now pretty quiet and thoughtful.  She has been very honest and straightforward about her past which is how & why I can tell you.  I get the impression she only really enjoys herself when part of a crowd but she sticks to observation in those circumstances now– unless we need to deal with a problem.  We set Maricica and John with the task of monitoring her but with her going back and forth to Edith a lot of the time you could consider Edith an unofficial sponsor.

She has the disguise ability with its limitations: she can pick what crowd she uses to blend herself in even if that crowd is ‘everyone on this side of the room’ or ‘all men in the immediate area’.  Structure throws her for a loop so schools and things are tougher.  She doesn’t control or edit anyone’s thoughts and her ability to infiltrate is limited mostly to never being the face that stands out of the crowd.  A big benefit is she can pick up sentiment so if someone comes looking for trouble and they are a part of a group she is mimicking & averaging out then she can feel that little desire for trouble & narrow down the sources by sorting through the groups she absorbs.

“I’m wondering if he sent these in order.  Is this him easing us into the bad stuff?  Am I going to be ticked at Matthew again?”

“I have so many questions.  How do things average with stuff like gender?  Can you put an adult and a kid together and get a really weird teenager?”

“I think they have to be part of a group.”

“But if you put them in a room then they’re part of a group that’s ‘people in a room’ and then you can combine them.  What I’m wondering is if there’s some weird combo where the average is weirder and more stand-outty than not.”

“Let’s not get too sidetracked by the interesting Other.  Zed’s being really nice while we’re being rude and asking him to give us privacy.  I don’t want him to have to do that the whole trip.”

“Lucy. Lucy Lucy Lucy…”

“Ronnie, I love you but that tone makes me want to empty this bottle of water over your head.”

“After all her smirking over Fernanda and me earlier, I think you doing that might help make my shoulder feel better.  It would at least distract me.”

“Really, Ave, we can stop for something.”

“Really Luce, I’d rather get some supernatural healing than get a pill that never does much for me anyway.”

“And if she doesn’t have the juice?  What do you tell your mom?”

“Ave can tell her mom she almost fell off a bridge.”

“That’s not going to make life easier.  And talking about this is just reminding me the injury is there and is making me notice it hurts.  I regret bringing it up.  What were we talking about?”

“I was going to tell my beautiful and judicious best friend that our duty is to get sidetracked by the interesting Others.  We figure them out and their motivations.”

“More with the original Others than the new ones, right?  These new guys aren’t, uh, our primary focus.”

“They could be assistants to the primary focus.  She’s close to two people we’re keeping a close eye on.  Checking in with E on the regular?  That’s…”

“…Possibly because Edith is the person who’s home most of the day?”

“Maybe.  I don’t like it.  And I don’t like that the Other with a serious body count of innocents and maybe-good-guys is that close to two people we don’t necessarily trust.”

“On the flip side, what happens if we ask her to average out the Kennet Others and she gets a bad sentiment?”

“Hmmmm.  She might be humans only, no Others.”

“Ugh.  I’m going to get some serious salt on my fingers as I snack, so can someone else unpack the next email?  Ave?”

“On it.”

Subject: Jabber (2nd Batch)
From: Matthew Moss (Mossball@mooseboop.ca)
CC: Avery (AKelly@tbaynorth.ca); Verona (VHayward@tbaynorth.ca); Lucy (LEllingson@tbaynorth.ca)
Attached: Cblock8.jpg

Jabber is an alchemical Other created by an alchemist who wasn’t among the kinder souls in practitioner society.  In the poor lighting he could be mistaken for a goblin but he has flesh resembling wet white clay braced with splints/screws/rods where it wasn’t strong enough on its own.  He has a mouth like a bear trap and a crude white mask that could be paper mache or plaster.  Metal bands looped around his head and screwed into bone help keep his skull from collapsing sideways and keep the mask in place.  When still he could be mistaken for a macabre doll but he is rarely still– he limps and drags himself around and makes incessant noise.  His namesake.  He makes Cherrypop seem quiet.

“Wait wait wait wait wait- stop reading.”

“Don’t tell me you have a phobia of creepy dolls, Ave.”

“Wait.  We might have forgot something.”

“Oh no.  Is it the kind of something we can have Zed send-”



“Lucy, when you grabbed our bags, did you pack Cherry?”

“I figured since you guys were hanging back you would.  Since Zed and I were carrying and you know, actually doing the laborious thing.”

“I have mud inside my jeans.  I have mud inside my shoes, in my socks, and that’s after a quick change of clothes.  I have a gaping shoulder wound.”

“I was watching Avery.  And talking to Nicolette.  Did Snowdrop?”

“Yes!  Yes, I got Cherrypop like the good friend I am.”

“Really, if anything, I could argue it’s her fault for keeping us up last night and making us so tired that we’d forget.”

“We may be among the worst guardian witches or whatever our title is supposed to be.  We’re- I feel so guilty.  So guilty.”

“I- frig!  We’ve been driving for thirty minutes.  Zed.  Zed!”

“What’s up?  I had my headphones on.”

“I know and it’s appreciated and something’s come up and we’re really sorry and I understand if you ask us to find another way home…”

Jabber is fashioned of the same kind of clay that gods would breathe life into & was hollowed out to serve as a hallow and host of sorts.  He was made as part of a set of dolls with interlocking functions.  One to stir up feelings and another to collect/ one to refine and one to recycle.  They were smashed because they were being used to gather up civilians and then keep them in place while they were harvested of all relevant fluids and parts.  Jabber escaped but was already worse for wear: the dark deeds he was part of have tainted his clay and nature somewhat and he wasn’t pure to begin with.  The hands that made him were stained enough.

Jabber has been the kind of Other that we would hear of now and then for the last five or so years.  Through luck or some strange cunning that lies buried in that clay Jabber has avoided the attention of practitioners and witch hunters.  He has gravitated closer with the Carmine blood soaking Kennet and did not put much effort into eluding us.  When we laid out terms he nodded his assent with no negotiation required.

In another context and made by other hands Jabber’s functionality on paper could be called a positive thing.  He draws out happy energies and mirth and acts as a battery.  In actuality Jabber’s laughter and smile could be considered infectious or viral.  This lasts as long as he remains nearby or until he “tops off” on what he can absorb through air.  In past years this would be the cycle and he would wander into a crowd or find his way into a house through a pet’s access door & he would fill up.  Then the stored energy would leak out through cracks or imperfections in his body until he felt the absence and sought more.  Rinse & repeat.  Affected civilians experience lost time as a blackout or disconcerting daydreams and are depressed & emotionally imbalanced after the fact.

Jabber is the closest thing we have to a big red emergency button.  If trouble brews and civilians are in the midst then he will make them forget what occurs and preserves their innocence.  He is also a vessel for raw power and in the event we anticipate an attack and Montague is not enough then we can use Jabber.  In a bad situation we could tap more civilians in Kennet to fill him up again for a second use in a short span of time.

Lis raised difficult questions about her history and habits.  Jabber raises questions about how much we’re willing to use/abuse the human side of Kennet.  Between the two of them we had a fair few debates and I would like to think you three would have sided with me.  More on that in my next email.

Jabber is being monitored by Charles and myself.  Every aggressive use stresses his body and we’re the only ones with the practical knowledge on how to look after him.  He seems content to be deployed strategically (at enemy incursions so far) and the only practical issue becomes ensuring he doesn’t wander off.  He isn’t like a goblin who will sit and watch television or sleep most of the time and he is difficult to communicate with.  But he remains a necessity of sorts in case of an emergency situation.

“I don’t get it.  This badly made doll wanders up, smiles, people smile, it moves on, and they sort of forget the last five minutes?  And we get a bit of power to charge up the perimeter with?”

“I wonder if there’s more to it.  Maybe we have to see him in action.”

“You’re getting outclassed by these new Others, Cherry.  Cig is weaker in a fight than you-”


“-Jabber is noisier-”

“Ey!  No!  I can be noisy!”

“Why on Earth would you get her started with that, Ronnie?”

“-I think Tashlit might be the coolest…”

“No!  Aaa!  No, Snowdrop is coolest!”

“Awww.  That’s actually touching.”

“Yeah, uh huh!  She gives me trash to eat!”

“A little less touching, Ave?”

“You got her all riled up and there’s still so much car ride left.”

“Aaaaaa!  Aaaaa!  Aieeee!”

“Cherry, do you know what would be hilarious?”


“Zed’s got his headphones on again-”

“No small wonder.”

“-and if you became a fork again and you were really, really quiet, you could jump out and shout boo right after we got to the destination.”

“I would love to see that.”

“Yeah.  That would be great.”


I can’t believe that worked.

“Let’s just commit to not forgetting the fork between the seat cushions or whatever.”

“Shhhhh.  We make no mention of any situation where we -hypothetically or otherwise- forgot Cherrypop.”

“Who’s the next email?”

“This is an odd one.”

Subject: Ken (2nd Batch)
From: Matthew Moss (Mossball@mooseboop.ca)
CC: Avery (AKelly@tbaynorth.ca); Verona (VHayward@tbaynorth.ca); Lucy (LEllingson@tbaynorth.ca)
Attached: Cblock9.jpg

We didn’t recruit Lis and Jabber one after the other– there were other Others between.  They were contentious picks however and they led to a lot of discussion between us about what we were trying to do and where our responsibilities lay.

The suggestion on compromise came from Charles.  Representing the people of Kennet is… Kennet.  We’ve gone to the spirit world to make our appeal of necessity and because there is no Lord here & no set system in the spirit world it was the Judges who heard our appeal.  Aurum & Alabaster.  All us Others of Kennet with Cherrypop and Snowdrop excluded attended and this left the perimeter open.  An unfortunate kind of circumstance that results when we turn to ceremony.  Ceremonies are a kind of ritual after all.

When we left that day it was with the added company of Kennet’s Anima Corporeal.  The spirit of the city made flesh.  He was fine shortening his name and even seemed to prefer it.  We also knew (as would soon be confirmed) that trouble might have slipped in during what were normally the quiet parts of early day when we relied on perimeter more than anything else.

Ken is surprisingly political and seized on the small amount of power he had as a newcomer to the council & as a representative for the citizenry.  He is vocal with his opinion and yet has little to no ambitions in leadership (preferring to complain rather than do…).  This is something of a relief on one level and a daily headache on another.  In another town or city with these same circumstances I could imagine the city or township spirit taking over the council– many city spirits are in fact Lords and trade on the power of how distinct their city’s image is.  It’s interesting to compare him politically with our last Other.

I’ve come to love Kennet where I’ve spent a third of my life and expect to spend the rest and thus I like Ken.  At the same time however Ken is our town in totality… including parts I don’t tend to grapple with.  I knew those parts existed because of the customer service side of my work at Buckheed but now I face it daily.  In lieu of family Ken turns his focus to tiredly minding the spirits of Kennet.  He does have a drinking problem.  He does have a drug problem.  These things are (usually) background.

If Lis is the average of a small group then Ken is that stretched out to Kennet as a whole.  The dynamics and effects are similar but reversed: Lis extends herself out and Ken can (if he wants) divide himself down into rough regions.  After our initial experiments doing this however we have agreed this isn’t for the best:
1)  The industrial corner of Kennet is badly cared for and malnourished with a lot of latent frustration (and so is the ‘split’ of Ken that represents it).
2)  The commercial downtown area has a rampant drug problem that is evident if you spend even fifteen minutes there (& so does the ‘split’– spend fifteen minutes in her company…)
3)  The residential area is the most active & present but is primarily focused on getting by and doing what needs to be done.
4)  The tourist end is a bit scattered & eternally hopeful but anyone who lives here will acknowledge it is only useful or awake a portion of the year.

The extra hands simply aren’t worth the hassle of finding oneself face to face with the other aspects.  Split they tend to share out the demographics of Kennet: two female and two male.  One old (usually #1 above)/two roughly middle aged (2 & 3)/one younger (usually #4).  Undivided we get Ken: a man a little older than me and ambiguously blue/white collar.  Somewhat more median/mode than mean.

Ken’s awareness & attunement to the people & places of our town of five thousand people are valuable.  Working with him lets us put some power into reinforcing aspects of the town or even quickly navigating it.  He’s not quick about it but he can alert us to problems.

Ken has been able to tell us that something’s wrong with him and getting worse: the Carmine Beast effect.  It’s a more violent edge that catches him and us off guard at times.  This doesn’t mean he turns into a killer or a monster or anything but it does manifest as temper and a darker edge at times.  He recognizes this isn’t him and this disturbs him.  Aside from this he can tell there are intruders present.  This appears to be some less human Others– no tie to any commander or summoner.  They aren’t eating and they aren’t emerging when Montague powers the perimeter diagram.  He feels they will do us harm but can’t place it.  It’s up to you if you want to help.

More than anything however is that Ken cares about the people and well being of the town and in our debates about Jabber and Lis I intuited that those of us who were more wary of their inclusion had the same general worry: that we risked focusing so much on the Other/Practitoner side that we would lose sight of the Innocent.  Ken’s primary duty is to keep us square there.

Which makes our next & last email an uncomfortable change of tone and focus…  Give me time to type it up.

Ken is sponsored by me & Edith.

“In other words they were worried they focused so much on the Other side of Kennet that they made a new Other to kind of address the regular people?  It sounds like Matthew wants a pat on the head for sparing humans a second thought but what?

“You sound annoyed.”

“I am annoyed!  How on Earth do you think that a distillation of our crummy, struggling little town is going to be anything other than imperfect and prone to dragging things out, and dragging them down?  It’s unvarnished society as an Other and society’s the thing that needs about a thousand sharp kicks in the ass to get to a better place.”

“You can go back to sleep, Snow.”

“Uggh, but this is boring though.”

“I bet- I bet this Ken guy is vaguely racist.  I bet- God Matthew I really do hope he’s a pain in the ass for Matthew.  If we’d been consulted I could have guessed most of this and they’re all surprised that there’s a drug and alcohol problem and that he’s a butt who’d rather complain than anything.  Sorry.”

“No way, don’t be sorry.  I’m not… emotionally smart.  I’m not sure I get why you’re as bothered as you are, but the more you talk about it, the more I get it.  Mostly I’m marveling at how articulate you are when you’re ticked off.”

“Is this where we drop the bad quote, ‘that’s her secret, she’s always a bit ticked’?  Sorry, I don’t mean to actually put words in your mouth.”

“No, actually you’re kind of right.  Ugh.  It’s like… imagine if the email was like, hey girls I want to give you an update, we were worried about the common man not having a voice so we invited your dad onto the council, Verona.”

“Oh god.”

“Right?  I mean, isn’t that basically the analogue?  Or Avery-”

“Oh no.”

“Imagine… what was that Incarnation that almost got you?”


“Imagine having to deal with it every day on the council now and Matthew’s all ‘give me a pat on the head, haven’t I done good, thinking of the little guy’.  Except this isn’t the little guy, this is the guy who steps on the little guy.”

“Okay, okay, but for the record I kind of got it already.  I didn’t need that mental picture.”

“Boo, Matthew.”


“Maybe I’m making mountains out of molehills.”

“Nah, I’m with you Lucy.  I vote that if this does turn out to be a pain and especially if it’s a pain for you then we all give them flack for not seeing it coming.”

“Avery, since you have the phone, do we have the last one?  It should be the Other that he held off on naming.”

“He hasn’t sent it.”

“Oh!  Nag him.  And tell him we might have to yell at him and it’ll be worse than Lucy’s wind power thing.”


“Meanwhile- sorry, Lucy, did you want to say something?”

“More ranting.  You talk.”

“I can’t help but wonder about the moves they’re making.  It feels like we made a certain move by going off to school.  And we did that because of Miss, a bit.”


“And these are some of the counter-moves they’ve made in the background.  Discreet and there are justifications for each move but there are also- there’s at least one person responsible.  At least two if we go by what Yalda said about there being two people there when she was turned into the Hungry Choir.  And they’re doing their own things.”

“Yeah.  We have to read between the lines and wonder how these things fit together.”

“They aren’t just there sitting on their hands.  They’re thinking about how to handle us and still get what they want.  And these are just the big moves, right?  The allies they’re recruiting and possible complications they’re going to throw in our way.”


“Here’s the email.  Want to look it over?”

“Good.  That works.”


“There.  It looks like we have the next email.  Cutting it down to the wire, Matthew.  And it’s…”

Subject: (2nd Batch) Crooked Rook
From: Matthew Moss (Mossball@mooseboop.ca)
CC: Lucy (LEllingson@tbaynorth.ca); Avery (AKelly@tbaynorth.ca); Verona (VHayward@tbaynorth.ca)
Attached: Cblock10.jpg

Throwing a quick note on top of this email before I hit send: Had to negotiate to share this information and didn’t get much time to formulate my response.  We went into this with a set of precepts we wanted the new Others to follow but as pressure increases we have had to compromise on precepts.  This felt like the largest compromise.

I can tell you that the new Others swore to the same deals we did and while this doesn’t hold the same exact sort of weight that them being at the awakening ritual would it does mean they are sworn not to do you harm.

Crooked Rook takes on the appearance of an elderly woman of the stiff-backed/strong & no-nonsense variety.  She carries but rarely wears a mask.  She joins us as an Other who has seen many situations like Kennet’s and is correspondingly opinionated.  It is hard to shake the feeling that she would wrest control of the council from E & I if given the chance… just to have a better chance at a good outcome.  She has seen many bad ones.

She has a keen understanding of Others and how Others are put together and knows her way around practice like Maricica knows her way around illusion.  It is for this that we brought her on board.  Even after recruiting Tashlit & Jabber & more goblins & ghouls & spirits & doppleganger infiltrators we felt the need for a way to handle the likes of Nicolette & Zed & Alexander.  We have a big emergency button in Jabber and he can give us a shock of power esp. if we’re willing to tap into the well being of citizens to get it… but that matters not at all if we don’t know how to apply that power or where to aim it.

She knows.

The price however is that she would turn Kennet into something it is not.  She would do much the same with Kennet Others.  New Others especially listen to her.  She has means of dealing with incoming practitioners that she will not directly show or teach us but they do apparently work.

She hails from Europe originally but has tentative links to forces elsewhere.  She has spent two decades in remote areas extending influence and arranging traps.  I overheard her telling Maricica that she has stepped in as a challenger against eight different Demesne claims and successfully denied all eight practitioners their claim.  She seems to prefer to prepare and direct other Others and gets involved only when she can do so decisively.  She otherwise seems to prefer to act without direct involvement and keeps her existence largely off the record with minimal traces.

Even extracting a name for her that we could give you and getting permission to share this much was a task.

If this approach reminds you to some degree of Miss then… all I can tell you is that it seems so.  I keep writing that.  That it seems she prefers this or it seems that… she shares little.

What we know of motivations: as payment for giving up a title and ‘name’ for her she wanted company for her patrols.  This was something I was reluctant to give her.   She doesn’t seem to need or want much assistance and she is aloof enough to not seem to care about the company.  Instead it feels more like politics.  Now Edith and I must perform the political math of who might listen too intently to her & who might become too much of an unknown factor.

She is not an especially strong fighter but she picks her fights and her moments well and reaches out to us when she needs assistance.  She can recognize practice at work and either intuits or has the prior knowledge to address it.  One case where this is critically useful is that she can intercept an Other on the periphery of Kennet and recognize it as bound or not.  This helps to differentiate the natural Other wildlife from the sort of thing that Nicolette’s birds or sent eye-thief were.

Expect to see her standing in high places, looking to the horizon.  If all goes well and you and she are with us for the next few decades then I confess I would not be too shocked if those twenty or thirty or forty years passed and she never warmed to you.  She has no intention of attending meetings where you three are present and has suggested she intends to have minimal interaction with you.

But to turn that around (and defend myself)… she may come for Edith and I well before she does anything to bother you three.  In twenty or thirty or forty years I would not be too shocked if she had taken control.  Maybe she becomes your headache then.  Maybe you find your equilibrium.  I don’t know.

I do know that we have had two practitioners prod at our boundary in the time between the perimeter falling and your announcement that you were coming home.  Many Others have tried to come into Kennet and many of those were dangerous.  She helped.  Several of those were actively bound by practitioners and in another circumstance we would have either had to either kill them to silence them or know that they would tell the ones who bound them that Kennet was what it was.

Instead Crooked Rook was able to erect a box around these Others.  Within she painted them in new colors.  She undid some bindings and twisted the definitions of others.  At our request she kept precepts that kept some of those Others from harming humans and simply allowed them to go free.  We need that kind of victory if we’re to turn tides or change the trends that run against Kennet.

If we can resolve the Carmine Beast business and keep up that kind of deflection (especially if Miss returns and can work with Crooked Rook) then I harbor hope that we can find a way back to normalcy.  That hope is so essential in a struggle like this because some of us would have given up already if we thought this would be Kennet from now on.

For that?  I can deal with the political maneuvering and the other difficulties this Other poses.

And I can only apologize for any difficulties this poses you.  Once I realized Crooked Rook’s stance I kept you three firmly in mind for every & all interactions with her.  I’ve worked to extract promises from her she was reluctant about (including the pledge to do no harm to you) & made sure that the prices paid for these things fell on us.  Not on you.

Guilherme and Maricica are the primary points of contact with Crooked Rook and are sponsoring her.

Ask if you have any questions.


“Digesting that.  And Lucy’s already got her phone out.”

“Hey first best friend, buddy old pal.  What are you writing?”

“Gimme a second, Verona.”

“Maybe show us before you send it?”

“I’m of two minds for this one.”

“Do tell us.  Is this what you’re writing in the email?”

“No, I’m- it’s going to help me make up my mind on how I feel.  So, point number one is I kinda like her.”

“That’s my line!  Not for her but whenever we meet a neat and weird Other I say I think they’re cool -because they are- and then you guys sigh and stuff.  But you like her?”

“Straightforward, set rules and expectations.  If she’s serious about the agreement not to hurt us…”

“I guess.”

“…And on the other hand, I’m so not a fan of the fact Matthew has some idea of what she is and is dancing around the subject.  So I’m texting him and asking if Crooked Rook is an Oni who has warred with practitioners but is mostly cool with us again like the ones Yadira’s family sort of worked with… or if she’s an Oni who was a part of all that and really hates practitioners.”


“P.S. Does she hate humans too?”

“Oh I didn’t even think of that.”

“Lucy’s so good at this side of things.  Subtext.  But you like her?  Huh?”

“Question and P.S. sent.  I mean, if she doesn’t like practitioners then I can’t say I one hundred percent disagree?  A lot of practitioner families are messed up.”

“True that.”

“And so are some solo practitioners.  And after Bristow I’m not sure I love me, Lucy the practitioner, as much as I otherwise would.”

“I really, really want to put Bristow behind us.”

“I don’t think we can or should, Ave.  He’s a jerk and he did it to himself as much as anything but we played a part and not becoming one of the really awful practitioners means carrying that.”


“Well put, Avery.”

“Oh, here we go.  Reply from Matthew.  According to him he thinks she’s the never-stopped-fighting type of Oni.  And she doesn’t care about humans but she doesn’t go out of her way to hurt or bother them either.”

“You were spot-friggin’-on.”

“I wish I wasn’t.  Not caring about humans is, uh, a lot more dangerous than it sounds, I think.  I can’t help but fixate on Matthew’s comment here… ‘you girls sure got an education in the short time you were there.  I only learned what Oni were this year.  I don’t know why I’m so surprised you’re so on top of this.'”

“The student surpasses the teacher.  I’m so glad I bugged Corbin about the Oni.”

“Lis, Jabber, and Crooked Rook sound like ones to watch out for.”

“Matthew just sent a follow-up.  Edith is asking if we want a meeting.  With everyone.  After we’ve had time to get settled and catch up with family.”

“Yes.  Yes yes yes.”

“I want that healing, then I gotta do the catch-up time… ugh.  Then meeting, I guess.”

“Sent, signed Lucy Verona Avery and Snowdrop, and presumably delivered.”

“Welcome home, huh?”

29 thoughts on “[8.7 Spoilers] New Other Correspondence #2

      • Ya’ll hating on Charles to this day is the most shitty-side of Kennet thing in all of this book. Even if it’s just jokes, it’s a very dead horse. The fact Lucy hasn’t stopped this yet is one of the many reasons I keep flip flopping on her character.

        That said, good odds Charles had good intentions on this one and his Karma situation made it incredibly worse. He either didn’t consider how this would look or did but thought it was still worth it, but it’s gonna be read in the worst light anyways.

        Matthew sure jumped on it fast. This business with the Crooked Rook is shitty at the best of times, made worse because they’re under the impression the girls are getting classes in binding and absolutely cherry topped by the fact Matthew is proving to be either real bad at thinking ahead to subtle angles or very, very good at it.

        The comparison to Miss had me ready to go for blows though. This one is vaguely related to Miss, yeah, but went in all the opposite directions she could.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’m of two minds here – on the one hand, Matthew has certainly taken point and seems up-and-up.. but I have this itch in the back of my brain that continually questions his motivations actually.
          Conversely, though Charles is constantly presented in a way that Karma paints him, through the story. And we all feel bad for hating on him. However, I’m increasingly becoming convinced this Carmine Beast problem is a play by Charles to fix his position by claiming another power. He keeps showing up in the background of these large-scale Other happenstances, being his specialty.. and seems to me the pelt of the Beast would be a physical object from which to do the power-grab, because of his lack of ability to practice. (tinfoil hat territory there though)
          Considering that Alexander just got offed, the one who foreswore Charles.. by John’s hand (could this involve John as the accomplice?) I think that if Charles is our guy, this is the time for him to play his hand. (where my chit lies)


        • I see where you’re going with this and it does make sense but I think that’s very surface level, if nothing else. It feels shitty. “Turns out the desperate homeless coded man was a horrible person all along!” is not… good… you know?

          I’d prefer, and this is very much a personal opinion, if it turned out Charles has been a super up and up and great guy all along (He certainly sounded like an interesting fellow who fucked up but just wanted to do his own thing after learning a very severe lesson, in the Alexander cig memory), just trying to get by and the fact he keeps popping up places is literally just his karma putting him in position to take a beating from the universe. It feels terrible to have this guy who has been continuously kicked while he is down turn out to be some kind of 5D chess playing mastermind who is actually just plain unhinged enough to tank a massive karma debt( Because I can’t imagine fucking around with the Carmine Beast and causing continued issues for all the Innocents in Kennet is free) because of desperation and hunger for power.

          Similarly I very much doubt John is at all involved in a conscious way in all this. He is most probably being used as a pawn however.

          My opinion of Matthew has been on a steady decline for a while now. The man is either an oaf in position to do damage or a manipulative bastard and neither is very good. Edith being connected to the Carmine Beast situation, as shown by the memory the Trio visited, doesn’t make this look good either because either they’re in this together(very likely) or Edith is in very deep shit and Matthew is, again, a massive clueless oaf in a very dangerous postion.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I would actually agree on the “good intentions gone bad because karma” thing, actually, reading it over. But if he’s part of the conspiracy, even if only as an accessory, it would be in his benefit to get an obstructionist Other on the council. (Also, I don’t believe “in on the murder” and “horrible person” are synonymous. Charles in particular was vehemently against the idea of Awakening children)

          Liked by 1 person

        • To be fair to Lucy, it was said outright from the beginning, everyone is a suspect. And Charles hasn’t done anything to take himself off that list, and Lucy’s just not the kind of person to take someone off unless it’s definitive.
          He’ll always get points from me though just because of chapter one, when he was the only one who seemed to want to warn the girls about how much more fucked the practice is than they thought at the time


  1. oh gosh the WHOLE concept behind ken is so fascinating, i cant wait to meet this guy whos probably kind of insufferable. so many interesting new characters to meet!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. ‘Welcome home’ only works when home isn’t literally there waiting for you to whine about how full of suck their life has been for the last few decades.
    I just hope he’s less of a pain than VD…

    Let’s see how that meeting goes, and I fully expect Verona to hit it off with Lis & Jabber without a single hitch.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I just hope he’s less of a pain than VD…

      I now want Ken and VD to meet up and engage in a spontaneous whine-off.

      …ideally while nobody else is within earshot, because that sounds dreadful for anyone who has to put up with them.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. When I saw the name Crooked Rook, my first thought was “Oh shit, it’s Wnzrf Pbeivqnr from Pact!” I’m not sure if the person described here is better or worse than that. We’ll find out.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Probably quite a few. There’s a lot of crows in mythology, European and otherwise, though I mostly know the European ones. Despite that, however, I took ‘Rook’ in this instance to be the chess piece, not the bird. Not sure why, when I know so little about chess.


  4. …the recommendation from Verona (To paraphrase: “she probably doesn’t eat babies. Good fashion sense”)…

    Verona has…odd standards.

    Two groups of witch hunters banded together to try to sort through the mess and the three hundred students in attendance and [Lis] joined the collective witch hunters with each group thinking she was a member of the other.

    That’s hilarious.
    Also, thanks in part to the name, I can’t help but compare Lis to a certain supervillain…
    It’s a weird comparison. I can see said villain doing a lot of the things Lis did, but differently and for different reasons.

    Structure throws her for a loop so schools and things are tougher.

    Must have been rough when she was living in a school.

    “Lucy, when you grabbed our bags, did you pack Cherry?”

    “Did you pack our goblin friend?” is such a weird sentence.

    The suggestion on compromise came from Charles. Representing the people of Kennet is… Kennet.

    Oh my gods that is so cool.

    Ken can (if he wants) divide himself down into rough regions.

    Ken is so cool. I hope the story finds some use for this power, despite how strong the problems of each district are when unmixed like that.

    “I am annoyed! How on Earth do you think that a distillation of our crummy, struggling little town is going to be anything other than imperfect and prone to dragging things out, and dragging them down? It’s unvarnished society as an Other and society’s the thing that needs about a thousand sharp kicks in the ass to get to a better place.”

    “Is this where we drop the bad quote, ‘that’s her secret, she’s always a bit ticked’? Sorry, I don’t mean to actually put words in your mouth.”
    “No, actually you’re kind of right.”

    Lucy’s such a great character. You could say I love Lucy, if you were inclined to make that kind of pun.

    I can tell you that the new Others swore to the same deals we did and while this doesn’t hold the same exact sort of weight that them being at the awakening ritual would it does mean they are sworn not to do you harm.

    Good to know, ominous that he’s bringing this up in relation to this specific Other.

    Crooked Rook sounds cunning and dangerous, and if she stays in the background while the Carmine Beast stuff wraps up I hope we get a Pale sequel 2-3 books down the line about her attempts to take over Kennet. Also because I want to see what the Kenneteers are like when they grow up, even if they’re just mentors or otherwise distant figures to a different protagonist(s).

    “Not caring about humans is, uh, a lot more dangerous than it sounds, I think.”

    When it comes to sheer quantity, apathy has motivated far more cruelty than malice ever could. Apathy is easy.

    Welcome home, girls. Have fun in the new arc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • God I completely agree that CR seems incredibly dangerous, like ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ type dangerous. Kennet is much better equipped to deal with practitioners now, but at what cost?

      The town has really descended into chaos now that Miss is gone, especially once the perimeter fell, and as M&E use increasingly desperate measures to keep the town together in the wake of the Aware screwing things up, Kennet drifts further and further away from Miss’s vision of a peaceful town that flies under the radar.

      Now when she returns, who knows how much influence Crooked Rook will have gained? I can totally see CR taking over the town completely, and her goal certainly isn’t to help Kennet get by on being quiet and unassuming to practitioners. She’s a powerful Oni who ‘never stopped fighting.’ She would totally turn Kennet into a battleground for her war on the Practice.

      I said something similar on Reddit, but the Kennet Others are dealing with forces and histories way bigger than them by bringing her here, and I can’t help but feel like it’s a huge mistake.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Honestly, if Crooked Rook is that kind of other, she might have recognized what Miss was trying to do. Didn’t we see in an interlude that Miss was trying to use Kennett to change something about the Seal of Solomon, or set a new precedent, or something?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Miss is basically setting up a kinder gentler version of what the one dude did in Pact. Coexistance without violence


  5. I look forward to Saturday and actually meeting these new guys, even if Crooked Rook doesn’t show up until an interlude, possibly from her point of view.

    Jabber is interesting, alchemy’s something I’d like to see more of. More info on Tashlit, and she’s got some waterpower too, which isn’t much of a surprise given her history. Ken’s going to be an arse, and I look forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was expecting this update to come next Thursday, or potentially usurp one of the Tues/Sat updates if it would become relevant before then. It looks like I get to have my cake and eat it, too.

    Anyway, I’m super excited to see the new Others in action. More potential familiars for Lucy and Verona, although Avery’s probably going to do that ritual with Snowdrop ASAP and I’m not betting on the trio doing a second round of the Big Three rituals before the end of the story. Maybe we’ll get to see their picks in the epilogue.

    And some of them seem like they might not be great candidates for familiar-ship, now that I think about it. Lots of bad experiences with Practitioners, potential trouble for Innocents, and one (1) whole-ass Oni among them. I wonder if the story’s gonna go into how much power the Kennet Others can take from the population for the sake of protection from outside threats before becoming a threat themselves. Or they just decide to stop giving a shit about the residents entirely and only focus on protecting themselves.


  7. Ohhhh boy.

    Crooked rook sounds cool, and I like her… but so so dangerous.
    Hopefully, once its established that they don’t intended to bind her, she’ll warm up to them? Or like… stop being enemies. She seems pretty cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Crooked Rook certainly fits in with a lot of the non-mainstream opinions the trio have shown during their time at school, with the views on binding and whether the Oni were in the wrong and so on. It is unlikely that she will give them credit for that, because trust is dangerous and this universe rewards unconditional positions with power.

    I’m surprised Matthew was able to answer further questions about her – if I were trying to limit information exposure to the point that I was reluctant to allow any info to be shared, I certainly wouldn’t put in an exception for questions.


  9. What an incredibly concerning chapter. I posted some similar thoughts on Reddit, but:

    For Tashlit we had only the recommendation from Verona (To paraphrase: “she probably doesn’t eat babies. Good fashion sense”) and we had to figure out what to do with her.

    This is fine. I don’t want to sound critical. It’s good if you help vet incoming Others and have a role. But there were a few days where both we & Tashlit felt a bit awkward trying to fit her into things.

    I find it strange how unenthusiastic Matthew seems to be about Tashlit. The way he laid it out in his previous emails, this is what he wants in new Others:

    (1) play nice with humans
    (2) play nice with us
    (3) work with what we’re trying to build.

    He also adds:

    We are also trying to cover weaknesses. Ways enemies can come at us or gaps in the perimeter they could slip through. In some cases we were after power.

    The way I see it, Tashlit easily fits goals (1) and (2) here, and really (3) as well since in the long term, she a friendly face to add to their community, and she probably has similar motivations to the original Kennet Others in terms of her ambitions being simply living peacefully away from practitioners.

    Her only shortcoming is in Matthew’s second point, that she doesn’t obviously cover a weakness in the perimeter (and even then, it’s not like she’s useless).

    Now think of all the rest of the Others that M&E have brought in. They only really fit the goal of protecting the perimeter. They’re strong, but generally don’t have a great history with humans, and some are pretty adversarial and tricky to keep around long term (a creepy doll that needs to feed on human happiness, for example, or a scary Oni who’s pretty clearly gunning for control of the town); these are Others in pretty direct conflict with all 3 bulleted goals.

    The fact that they’re so unenthusiastic about Tashlit and willing to bring in the other newcomers shows that those three goals are very low priority in comparison to strengthening the borders.

    Which matters. Because isn’t the main goal for Kennet ultimately to be a sanctuary for friendly Others? So whether or not Tashlit has an obvious role in terms of defending the town, she’s still someone the town purportedly exists to protect. These new Others, on the other hand, make it harder for the local Others to coexist peacefully with each other and with Innocents in the longer term.

    As Matthew and Edith try to arm the town with these heavy hitters, they’re steadily but surely drifting further away from Miss’s vision of what Kennet was supposed to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A realization about Mathew’s hesitance about Tashlight:
    I think this is second hand.
    As in, I don’t think MATHEW has any particularly strong reason against Tashlight, but I think Edith does, and that her frustration/negativity with the trio fetching their on others is leaking through, and colouring Mathew’s interpretation. Don’t really know why I feel that way, just do.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Every time I see that connection blocker attachment, I misinterpret it as Clockblocker and get all excited.

    Anyway, glad to be getting back to K-town. All that Bruised Heron stuff was fun, but it was also kind of a tangent and I’ve been getting hungry to return to the meat of the story. The bloody, furry meat that Crooked Rook is obviously going to swipe just as the Trio thinks they’ve successfully resolved everything. Fighting will ensue, the goblins will form Toadtron, yadda yadda, and in the ruckus nobody will notice as the Carmine City sneaks in, dons a fur coat, and gives new meaning to the word boomtown.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think it would be fine. In 1.3 the Alabaster told us that whoever takes the seat will both mold and be molded by the role. The current state of that role is:

        “She handled monsters and those who kill monsters,” the woman in white said. “She handled matters of war and murder, carnage, blood, and execution. Justice, in its bloodiest form.”

        Being filled by the spirit of a city instead of a beast might help to temper the savagery a bit, but it goes both ways. Note the effect that just being drenched in the blood has had on Kennet. Now imagine that blood pulsing through everyone’s veins. Carmine Kennet might be a good option from a “Give the power to the people” angle if it comes in at the tail end and survives the ascension, but I don’t see it being good for society or civility. I think it would make the city powerful, but it would become the sort of city that’s scary to live in. Sort of a libertarian dystopia where justice is reliable but brutal and reactionary with little to no effort put into prevention. Also, if Lucy’s intuition about Ken pans out, I’d worry about how just his brand of justice would actually be.

        Fortunately, Ken is not ambitious, so this will hopefully remain another silly joke rather than how events actually play out.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Thoughts on the new crew.

    Lis. Basically seems like John but went the social route rather than direct action.

    Jabber. Terrifying to picture but the fact that they now have a MIB/scp style amnestic is… Ominous metawise as now it means shut can go even more wild but I love the concept. That and the fact they have another significant power source. Though whether they utilise could be ethically questionable depending on the effects on civilians. In sure we will see.

    Ken. I mean I get it Lucy, your frustrated with how they are ignoring/neglecting the civilian population. But like, they are a group of others. Only 2-3 I’d them interact with people, and even then the vast majority of there time is spent in magical affairs. Ken seems like a good way for them to at least get a good overview, not to mention just the fact that he can sense the infiltrated others is well worth manifesting him. Hope he ain’t any type of bigot. Though that seems… Unlikely.

    Crooked rook. Knew there would be a bigger pay off than the shadow knife. Skill set seems crazy versatile. Seems like she can fill the hole miss left in the towns skill set but at great risk. Carmine crow? Let’s find out.

    Liked by 1 person

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