[9.z Spoilers] Magic Item Identification

“Can we bleed Avery’s little sister?” Verona asked.

“Having spent some time around Kerry, I think she’s drawn blood more than your average person,” Lucy said.

Nicolette was laying out flower petals.  “If it helps, convention suggests that it’s about bleeding a ‘drop’.  If it stays on the surface of the skin or gets wiped away first, they’re still a virgin for the purposes of practice.  If it hits the ground, you’re out of luck.”

“I’m pretty sure Avery’s kid sister has made blood spatter on the ground,” Lucy said.

“Yeah,” Verona echoed.

“Anyway, point is, that’s how you draw blood for use without contradicting the definition of the virgin in the process.  Don’t spill while you’re drawing the blood or you’ll ruin your virgin.”

“If you’re going to ruin-” Verona said, at the same time Liberty chimed in with, “There are funner-”

They looked at one another and laughed.

“Are you taking those notes you said you’d take?”


“I’ve got some diagrams copied out of a text on Collections, they’re very basic.  I think an actual collector would have something specialized.  Then they’d commit to it.”

“Combat, prices, finesse, longevity…”

“Every collector will use a different system but they’ll refer to things like this or item ‘colors’ as a shorthand among other collectors, and they like numbering items because numbers have power and make sorting out items really easy.  Some use tarot or card suits, others use other ways of measuring.  However you organize, there’s power in the organization.”

“A good excuse to tidy my room,” Fernanda said.

“I could walk you through all of this but that’s a whole afternoon lesson and I’d only scratch the surface,” Nicolette told them.  “I recommend getting in the habit.  The more you do it and the more systems you have you can go through, the easier it gets.  Some things like the circular objects or the collector diagram won’t work for everything, so have multiple systems.  Let’s start with the simplest and most straightforward item you want to identify.”

“We already sort of know what it does,” Verona said.

“That’s perfect.  You start out a lie detector test by asking questions to calibrate the subject’s responses.  Similar idea here.”

Verona took a picture of the knife with her phone, which was now useless for phone calls, then picked it back up and put it away.  “Lifelines?  Is there a way to measure those?”

Nicolette shook her head.  “No.  There’s a system for coup and claim and measuring length and firmness of ownership, but it’s not something I’ve paid a lot of attention to, sorry.”

“I know some of those things,” Fernanda said.

“Fernanda focuses on connections and her older brother, my old ‘master’, Chase, was really good at using them to find and track people.  Normally I wouldn’t get sent to go find a lost item or person.  That’d be Chase.  I suppose I should start learning.”

“Can I teach you?” Fernanda asked.

“Please,” Nicolette said.

Liberty bent down and looked at the knife.  “It’s not a combat item?”

“No.  I think it could be.  If the item grew or got more power the nature might flow that way,” Nicolette said.  “I don’t know why, though.  Too weak, different priorities?  Zed?  You work with material objects and tools a lot.”

“It could be that it was used as a tool more than it was as a weapon,” Zed said.  “Simple, boring answer.”

“I think that was your mistake, previous owner,” Liberty said.  “Start by stabbing things.”

“Stumped?” Zed asked.

“I’m glad I’m warming up with all of this before Jude’s family shows up.  How are we doing for time?”

Verona looked over.  “Doing okay.  They’re going over everything first.  Tymon has a familiar so he’s helping.”

“Any ideas?” Nicolette asked Zed.

“No.  Man, no, no idea.”

“Let’s go over what we know…”

Lucy tore the paper with the rune on it, making the fog dissipate.  Verona took a picture of the watch on the floor and then put her phone away.  Some Lost were hanging out and sitting on steps by the side of the archway, watching with amused expressions.  Non-hostile, apparently.

Liberty, who was supposed to be standing guard as a just-in-case, was juggling Cherrypop and Peckersnot, badly.  She seemed more focused on chucking them higher than on catching them with confidence.  They were having a grand time, apparently, flipping head over heels.  Snowdrop kept flinching and moving like she’d run and catch them if Liberty wasn’t going to.

“Interesting note,” Lucy said, looking over Verona’s shoulder.

“I think we found everything but I can picture, like, five people, all tied to a realm, bringing items tied to that realm, and making their camp more… rainy?  Foggy?  I dunno.  More like home, with these five hypothetical pillars.”

“Six if you count the two knives.”

“Well, sure.  You want to go ask Ave for that pin Ken gave her?  We could do the rope but it’s getting a bit redundant.”

“Everything okay?” Zed asked.

“Not sure.  Can we use the scales, Nicolette?”

“Let me.  It’s sensitive and you might mess up the readings.”

“Is it because Verona’s a future convict?” Lucy asked.


“It’s a delicate instrument.  What do you want to measure?”

“There’s a few odd things in here,” Verona mused, going over the list.

“Huh,” Lucy said.

“I like the dark fall glamour.  Why’s it bad?  Is it cursed?”

“It could be something else,” Nicolette said.  “An item can be good or useful for you but carry bad influences or sentiments because of what it is…”

“Like the thorn’s ambient badness?”


“Does straight dark glamour tend to carry bad sentiment like that?”

“No,” Fernanda said.

“Alright then,” Verona said.  “How am I supposed to do my dark and badass transformations without dark glamour?”

“You might have to deal, Ronnie.”

“What’s next, then?”

Verona’s pen scribbled in the notebook.  She wished she could use the feather quill for style points.

“Are we done?” Nicolette asked.

“Can I?” Liberty asked.  “Goblins can become items.  I’m curious about these guys.”

“Yes, yes!” Cherrypop cheered.  She sat on Liberty’s shoulder.  “I was such a stabby fork!”

“I don’t know,” Nicolette said.

“One of you two, quick, first one to make me laugh,” Liberty said.

Cherrypop looked around, frantic.

Peckersnot bent over, spread his butt cheeks, and mooned Liberty, full confidence.

“It’s the tiniest asterisk,” Verona said.

Liberty smirked.

Cherrypop pulled her hair, looking around.  “I know jokes!”

“Tell one!” Liberty encouraged her.

“I can’t think of one!  My brain isn’t working!  Augh!”

“It’s kind of funny, at least?” Lucy asked.  “Her freaking out.”

“It’s sad,” Liberty said.  “Come on, Cherry!”


Peckersnot turned and aimed his butthole at Cherrypop, which produced a laugh from Liberty, which horrified Cherrypop further.  She threw herself at Peckersnot, tackling him to the ground.

“I temporarily bind you, Peckersnot, until you wish to be free.  Take your weapon form, little goblin,” Liberty said.

Peckersnot became a scratched up water pistol.  Cherrypop kicked the scuffed plastic repeatedly until Liberty picked it up.

“Water pistol?” Nicolette asked.

“This isn’t water,” Liberty said.  Cherrypop hugged her ankle.  She investigated the gun, peering at it from different angles.  “One shot, useful, can do a lot of things with slime.  Let’s see those scales…”

“Don’t touch- Liberty, seriously, if you get not-water on my things I’m going to curse you.  I need that for work.”

“I’m just going to-”

“Don’t.  Permission not given.”

“If I can slide by you, a full check-up by me would make this little guy’s day.  Think of how happy he’ll be!”

“Permission.  Not.  Given.”

“Guys,” Tymon said.

They stopped.  Liberty started to inch around Nicolette, until Nicolette jabbed her in the stomach, the knuckle of her middle finger sticking out.  Fernanda stood by Nicolette, helping to bar Liberty’s way.

“I think we’re ready.  Avery wants to start before the rest of Jude’s family arrive, so we don’t hold them up.”

20 thoughts on “[9.z Spoilers] Magic Item Identification

  1. Well, this is interesting. And water pistols count as weapons, who knew? Makes sense for Peckersnot, though, given his best trick is his gluey sticky snot-slime. Wonder why Cherrypop became a fork, though. Does that mean Peckersnot’s higher on the goblin rating than Cherry is?

    Really like that watch, it’s good stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And water pistols count as weapons, who knew?

      Of course they count. Lots of interesting stuff is water soluble: salt, chalk, and wicked witches, to start with. Then there are the many other fun liquids that can be loaded, especially if your weapon is magically immune to dissolving or corroding from its contents. Ink, gasoline, acid, highly concentrated capsaicin solutions…


      • inb4 chem pedants: Literal chalk isn’t water soluble unless you’re using acid rain. Sidewalk chalk is made of gypsum rather than actual chalk, however, so it’s a fair bit more soluble. Nowhere near the solubility of salt, though, let alone wicked witches.


  2. Unofficial Transcript:

    Page 1:

    Nicolette is walking me through the process of doing a magic item diagnosis while Ave & Snow get ready.

    First step is to handle the item as little as possible & place it within a heraldric diagram using the right tools. Cast iron tongs work well for all items except some elemental ones and some technomancy ones. Makes them a good go-to.

    [Diagram of blue circle with black dovetailed inner rim]

    Nicolette’s etched plate looks like this. She says this is specialized and in a pinch a flat, white, balanced surface will do, but to clean it carefully with pure spring water first.
    NOT doing this means that the read may get tainted, leading to misreads, false signals from the surface your item is on, or even from yourself or your tools.

    Step two, measuring danger. Nicolette uses iron scales with 3x drops of virgin blood in one side and 3x of the last drops of blood from an executed convict.

    [Picture of half of a scale, with 3 drops of blood in the pan]

    The virgin blood is often harder to get than the convict’s. ‘Virgin’ means the person has never drawn a full drop of blood, been made to bleed a drop, or had sex. Rarely tilts ‘good’ unless given with love or sentimental
    Hard or audible tilt ‘bad’ = item of malign intent. Gotta be careful, Nicolette says, not to get the blood of the wrongfully executed.

    Page 2:
    Step three – identifying motive. Nicolette surrounds the inside of the circle with white rose petals. Any higher quality or symbolic flowers will be better, white is better, but anything will do. If the petals stir from sources that aren’t the wind or anything then it suggests the item is capable of acting on the world or something can act through it. Petals may burn, curl up, blacken, stain, or whatever, so that’s a clue too.

    Item is cursed and has motive force? Abandon the Identification process and seek help or take measures.

    There are a bunch of smaller rituals and diagrams & Nicolette went through them pretty rapid-fire. Lay down five equal sized, circular objects, one bone, one iron, one wood, one knotted cord, one smooth stone.

    [Picture of 5 circles, white, pink, green, blue, and khaki]

    Cards are laid out in a circle, with set distances she used a ruler to measure: 22 closer to the centre & then 49 in a ring around that. & so on…

    [Two pictures of elaborate diagrams, one pasted on top of another. Lower one is a six-sided star with circles at ever junction and midpoint. Top one is the earlier blue heraldric circle with a knife in it, surrounded by black tiles.]

    It’s less about having good systems & more about more systems. The important thing is to have a process where you can keep something every test, if an item responds or moves or whatever. Keeping a couple cards, a stone, a few markings on a collection diagram. Drawing a picture.

    Page 3:
    [Picture of a Knife with a blue handle and somewhat tarnished blade. Next to it is the six-sided star diagram, with XIV in the upper corner, and the four right-most circles circled in red. IV is written in the right-most circle and I in the midpoint. Below it is a picture of Ares, Neptune, air, and water symbols, the red and green circles, a heraldric line and a Magician tarot card, labelled “Not actually inscribed”.]

    Avery picked this up at the Transient camp, left behind by Others who tried to raid Kennet.

    This is a motiveless, elemental-heavy item, with no response from the scales. It is a solid 4/10 item, probably, but Nicolette stresses she isn’t good at reading that… that’s something a collector would be better at.

    It points definitively toward war and less heavily to nature. A kind of natural diagram came into being here & Zed stepped in to comment, saying that realm-focused Others who are tied heavily to an area or bring the area with them (Abyssal Beast?) can act as moving ‘gardens’, altering items that are kept in their possession over time. Effect is small, simple, but gets stronger as the Other does. Usually they are humanoid & can carry stuff (so not Abyssal Beast). The ‘diagram’ that is worked into the knife is like a river carved out by the flow of water over time.

    Page 4:
    The collector diagram responded on four points, suggesting it’s something lending itself to precision & finesse, that it has a barrier to active, & it has a duration. This lines up pretty well with what Avery figured out about how it gets activated. It also has very strong ties to a realm and we’ll get back to that in a second.

    If the knife is wet it gets sharper and if it’s wet with rain or droplets it gets sharper still. Through this diagnosis, we found that it’s not intentional but its strong tie to war and its means of activation do allow it to be activated with sweat. The longer the person holding it is in the rain with it, the sharper it gets and the easier it is to use. This ease of use gets better if the holder is also rained on a lot (or beaded with sweat as the case may be), according to the magician card taking front & center.

    Zed: “The realm part of this sorta neat. It came from an artificial garden (a walking Garden) and it acts as a mini, super-weak realm influence on its own. While holding it, rain takes a tiny bit longer to go away and water elementals & spirits will listen to the holder more.”

    Tymon: “Fire spirits will listen less.”

    Zed: If you had an air knife- this is a bit of an air knife, then Avery’s air-runed shoes would work a little better while holding it.

    Note: Second knife is much like the first, but has a shorter & thinner ‘lifeline’.

    Page 5:
    [Picture of a watch with missing hands. Next to it is the collector diagram, with IX? in the top left corner, and five of the right circles blacked out and circled, with a question mark on the bottom right most one. Below it is a picture of a complex diagram with Neptune, air, and water symbols in the middle, with the khaki circle and a Moon tarot card.]

    Same as the knife, picked up at the Transient camp. We haven’t figured this one out since Avery was doing the experimenting and Lucy had the watch, then. It’s elemental, no motive, no response from the scales. We can note the differences. this has a much stronger ‘line’ to it, suggesting it was owned for longer and was more important to the person who owned it. It’s stronger, Nicolette is making a very tentative & non-official rating of a ‘9’ instead of a ’14’ (lower is better, with Ted being Bristow’s #1 in his collection of Aware or something), actual numbering of items will depend a lot on what your collection is. It falls toward the smooth stone, Time, and drew the ‘Moon’, suggesting subtlety, fear or illusion.

    This effect wasn’t carved out and was either crafted by the Other who owned it or they infused the effect with their being over the course of many tunings & repairs. It’s hard to interpret because it hooks into subtlety and there are a lot of internal workings.

    Page 6:
    The item’s function has the same roots as the knife, the Neptune link to water framed in air, but the proportions are slightly different. The collector diagram suggests it could sit in positions relating to attention and focus, to Practice with influence over other individuals and their awareness, and then the same stuff as the knife, minus the finesse part: conditional or activated usage, realm and duration. We don’t know which places are more emphasized, though.

    Working this out (and this is actually a process of working it out instead of knowing the answer & then figuring it out in reverse), water in the air as rain or vapor maybe feeds the mechanism, links into Time and influences the user and the people around them. It’s subtle (moon card) and that suggests you or those around you wouldn’t even know it’s having an effect, but it’s not weak either.

    Hypothesis made, rune drawn to produce an elemental effect, Lucy wearing the watch… tested. Speeds up the wearer’s perception of time and slows down the same for those nearby. Pretty minor and only works in mist or rain but it’s a bit of an edge over the next guy.

    Interesting thought: Avery has the rope and we don’t want to bug her, but we’ve got a blade, a timepiece, and a rope. Goes back to the Edge, the Hours, the Threads. Is there a Bough or a Pale? The big forces of Incarnates? Might be worth checking/searching again. A camp of five, each carry one, maybe?

    Page 7:
    [Picture of a pin showing a mountain at night, with the moon dripping blood, and Kennet written on the bottom. Next to it is are the World and Hermit tarot cards, and a picture of a scale tilting left with the pan glowing gold. The collector diagram is labelled VIII, and has 6 circles blackened, running along the bottom and including the midpoint of the bottom left. The rightmost circle is labelled VI, and the bottom left is labelled I.]

    Here’s an interesting one. Scales tilt positive and they stay there. Cards indicate Hermit & World, no real indication from the rough stones that point to Edge, Hours, Threads, Bough or Pale. No clear diagram either; if there’s one, it’ll take more trial & error to figure out and we don’t have time for that.

    The collector’s diagram suggests it sits heavily in ‘lore’, extending into deeper understanding, having more than once facet, interaction (with spirits), some barrier to entry (time), and finally resting in ‘realm’. Because earth/the city is a realm. Makes sense, no surprises.

    But it’s really interesting & cool that it has a tilt towards positivity. Because it was given as a gift, presumably, but also it promotes good things. Good one, Ken/Nettie.

    Which makes me want to experiment…

    Page 8:
    [Table of GIFT and SCALES]

    SCRIBE’S PEN Gifted by Miss — Slight tilt positive, but too broken to get any reads.

    BLACK ROPE Gifted by Miss — Tilts positive. Given with good intentions?

    WEAPON RING Gifted by Miss — Positive again, good intent.

    DOG TAGS From John — Slight Positive or Neutral

    RATFINK KEY Toad made, Cherry gave — Initial positive, then settles to neutral with force. Nico: ’cause it’s a ‘fair’ item?

    THORN I.T.F. From Gash — Slight positive to start Then settles at negative? Ambient?

    SUMMER GLAM From G. — Initial slight positive, holds at slight positive after.

    DARK FALL GLAM. From M. — Initial neutral. Then tilts into negative!?

    HIGH SUMMER ROSE From G. again — Initial slight positive. veers into medium positive after.

    Page 10:
    Fernanda: “Estrella could tell you more about this sort of thing but I consider myself an expert in getting the most out of a minimum of effort or price.”

    “Tip one: you can kill the golden goose, if you know that story.”

    Lucy: “Of course we know that story.”

    “I don’t know what you learn if you’re not born to practice. Anyway, items that supply power or give up an effect over time can be used up for a final or an emergency amount of whatever it is they supply. You, the item, and the situation have to be ready. Some words will help, and so will having a good way to use the power: an implement, another tool, like a Fae weapon if you’re crushing up this rose… destroy it and be ready to See and use the power.”

    Me: “Handy!”

    “Lesson two: the more you have, the easier it is to get more. Applies to money in our world, applies to Glamour in theirs. If you get down to a last petal, it’ll take more than twice as long to get to full than if you used up half and let it regrow.

    “Lesson three: connections. Getting something means owing something. It also means you establish that relationship. Be prepared to give back or you’ll give them a little claim over you.

    Lucy: Okay, we wanted to help him anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Tip one: You can kill the golden goose if you know that story.”
    “Of course we know that story.”
    “I don’t know what you learn if you’re not born to practice.”

    I’m glad some wizards are aware they don’t know what their Muggle-born colleagues grew up with.

    Fun chapter. It’s as informative as an Extra Materials should be, but with plenty of character moments sprinkled between chunks of exposition.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. This is awesome… but it feels weird that testing goodness/badness is so easy?

    Lovely to see the Kennet Pin (Oh god, that blood moon) and see that it is SO positive. Interesting that the Fae Rose is also heavy positive. Yay? Guilihereme is good dude confirmed?


      • It’s Guilherme, so you’re close enough. And it’s not detecting if it’s good/evil, it’s testing positive/negative, as part of a whole process to determine what a thing does. It’s still risky using a thing if you don’t figure it out, and this is Nicolette’s personal method, using stuff she’s gathered to make it as easy for her as possible. Without her and her equipment- that balanced set of scales especially- it won’t work as well until they’ve got their own methods and equipment.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Unclear why none of Pact’s magic has appeared here other than glamour, and that binding goblins turns them into weapons. Boogeymen aren’t similar flavor. These stories aren’t even geographically far apart but it feels like extremely little continuity. Why none of Johannes’ friends, enchantment, time magic, demons, angels, necromancers, balance/karma magic users, major gods, parallel (mirror) worlds, witch hunters, Feorgbold, indigenous ritual magic, etc. haven’t even had a cameo unless I missed something. The whole Lost/Paths thing, and the greater emphasis on Ruins, is fine as world-building but feels kind of boring. And Snowdrop as comic relief is super hilarious and fresh and it’s so great she’s being cemented as a recurring character (I MEAN – NOT!!! HA! HILARIOUS.) I hope you do us a favor and give her a tragic death in a backfire of the Familius ritutal. The desmene process can be contested, I am hoping something gets in the way of a Jar Jar Binx – level character marrying into the trio.


    • Unclear why none of Pact’s magic has appeared here other than glamour, and that binding goblins turns them into weapons.

      Also runes, familiars, implements, demesnes, the awakening ritual, technomancy, elementals, incarnates, forswearing, tracking/breaking connections, the sight, summoning, casting from HP, possession, elementals, wards, harnessing echos, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.

      But yeah, aside from that tiny list, none of Pact’s magic has appeared here.


      There’s been plenty of this, actually, just only at a basic level. All that connection blocking the girls are always doing? That’s enchantment. We just haven’t seen much fancy stuff because this story doesn’t have a coven of enchantresses as one of the primary antagonists like Pact did.

      time magic

      We literally just saw an example of time magic, and there was another pretty big one back when Clem found that other watch. Temporal shenanigans haven’t been a primary focus of the story, sure, but that’s because we already had a story with prominent use of chronomancy. Giving it a heavy role would be redundant. This story is exploring other stuff, like augury and technomancy, that only had passing mention in Pact.


      Again: been there, done that. And in this case it goes extra because if demons were involved they would totally take over the story. Besides, demons are rare, not some commonplace part of practitioner life. That said, if you really need there to be demons in the story for some reason, tb gnxr n pybfre ybbx ng gung negvsnpg Pyrz qebccrq bss (naq gur ernpgvba bs gur cenpgvgvbaref) orsber fur ivfvgrq Xraarg.

      witch hunters

      We haven’t seen any yet, but they’ve been mentioned a few times and did some stuff off screen. And yet again: been there, done that.

      haven’t even had a cameo unless I missed something

      No Pact cameos, but we do have a prominent Poke cameo, and it’s also implied that Eloise is one of the Duchamps (though not any of the ones we met in Pact).

      Liked by 3 people

      • Wait, there was Technomancy in Pact? I couldn’t think of any, and did actually think its introduction didn’t totally jive with Bguref orvat pyhryrff rabhtu nobhg grpuabybtl sbe Wbunaarf’ qrzrfar gevpx gb jbex.


  6. The tiny goblins are just the best haha

    Wonder what the little gremlin(Ranjan? I’m having trouble keeping track) can become? One of his hammers?


  7. When did we learn about the “Bough” and “Pale” stuff? Trying to find it myself is a daunting task of spoiler-dodging, but I can’t remember anything at all about these terms appearing in the story (other than Alex mentioning a “pale” tho it sounded like a different context than this). I feel like I’m missing something major here, obviously, since it’s the title of the novel and clearly a significant term.

    I’ll try some very careful Googling, but it’d be awesome if a kind reader could point me in the direction of a specific chapter to reread.


    • The people talking about that stuff might be pulling info from Pact or the Pactdice documents rather than Pale’s text.


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