General Update

Some odd bits and pieces of news for this week:  

Alex Verus #11, after a slow start, has managed to build up a bit of momentum.  It’s at around the 30% mark and moving along much more comfortably.  If all goes to plan, I’ll finish the first draft some time in the autumn and the completed book will come out during the second half of next year.  

The release date of Fallen (Alex Verus #10) is unchanged – it’ll be coming out in about three months, on September 24th 2019 in the US and October 10th 2019 in the UK.  Yeah, I know, this isn’t really news, but I try to repeat release dates at intervals since I know that ‘when’s the next book coming out?’ is the number one question people come to this website to answer.  

Finally, a question:  I’m planning to do another Reddit AMA around the release of Fallen, and I’m currently deciding when would be the best time.  Usually I try to do them about a week or so after release, but the release dates for the US and UK being more than two weeks apart makes that trickier.  Given that Reddit is mostly populated by people from the US, I might go for around the beginning of October, but it’s a bit inconvenient for my British readers.  Let me know if you have any opinion either way!

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Ask Luna #137

From: Seth

Not a question per se; although I love the books and your running answers. Just a comment about your response to ask Luna #124. My daughter proudly thinks of herself as a Hufflepuff. As she explains, every other house had at least one person who went traitor. Not Hufflepuff, who were decent to the core. Keep up the flow of great stuff!!!

Heh, fair point.  I should have guessed when I wrote that, really – just because one house has got a ‘protogonist’ label on it doesn’t mean that people won’t identify with the other ones.  Which I did when I was younger, too, come to think of it.  I guess that’s what fanfiction is for.  

From: Sam

Hey Luna ,these questions have to with the three magic types that Richard may be, divination, mind and enchantment, unless there are other likely types I am missing. 

1. Can enchanters/charm mages make themselves less attractive or less noticeable to others? I remember Richard seeming exactly average in terms of age and appearance and that would be a great way to throw people off, but at the same time the charm mages we have seen so far are good looking and well dressed so is this even possible since personality drives magic?

2. Regarding mind mages can they influence people as effectively as enchanters or is it more of different approach but similar goals kind of thing? Honestly they are hard to tell apart from each other at times. 

3. Do other diviners use magic items or manipulate Elsewhere like Alex as well as Alex does or is that just because he is for lack of a better term unique/awesome mage in general?. (You and the others are too an awesome mage he could not have run the mage shop or survive for so long without you Anne and Vari looking after him!) Are there other magic types that have more of an affinity for Elsewhere or is it more just based on individual mages who use it over time?

1. Yes, though it’s not as well known because they always get pigeonholed as the seductive/femme-fatale types.  The mage who goes out of their way to look as un-special as possible isn’t going to get as much press.  Though all the charm mages I’ve met have been pretty far on the extrovert side, so it’s hard to imagine them keeping it up for long.  

2. Charm mages and mind mages are like ice and fire mages in that they can accomplish very similar things but do it in different ways.  Charm magic tends to be subtle and persuasive, mind magic is blatant and brute-force – a mind mage will command you to do something whether you like it or not, a charm mage will make you think that you want to do something because they asked you so nicely and they’re such a great person that you just want to make them happy.  

3. No, those just happen to be Alex’s specialities.  And thanks!

(I don’t think there are any magic types that have an affinity for Elsewhere.  It’s a very obscure/rare thing to specialise in.)

From: Dakota

Hi Luna,

It was implied that some of the more… unique focuses and one-shots were moved to storage, and probably not lost when the shop burned down. You’ve probably accumulated some more of these items since then as well.

Have you managed to sell any of these curiosities? If so, do you remember any amusing examples?

Actually, I pretty much had to start from scratch as far as that goes.  A bunch of the really dangerous and powerful items from the safe room got saved from the fire, but Alex took those with him and hid them afterwards.  He didn’t hand them over to me, and I didn’t ask, mostly because they were the kind of stuff you really shouldn’t be putting up for sale.  

So when I opened up, the magic item section of the Arcana Emporium Mk II was pretty much completely empty, and it stayed that way for a while.  It took me a long time to build it up again, and it’s still pretty meagre compared to what it used to be.  I used to feel self-conscious about it, but on the other hand, it’s kind of nice to look at the modest selection I’ve got now and know that it was all my own work.  

From: Kevin

1. Is there a reason why time mages are more trusted than diviners on the Light Council? I believe in a previous Ask Luna you said that Diviners could bring up the wrong evidence which is why the Council was 50/50 on them but would time mages be any different wouldn’t their timesight also pickup evidence/unwanted events even if they did not intend to see it?

2. Is there a reason why Chance Mages would want to be on the Light Council? The Council does not like chance or disorder so why would Change mages want to join a place they would feel unwelcome?

On a side note I understand why you did so because they would have killed you otherwise and in fact tried to do afterwards which makes me wonder how many mages will be on the Council when this is all over?

3. Do time and chance magic have any similarities to each other? I remember how you said you felt Alex understood your magic better than others, did you get something similar with Sonder or at least better than other magic types?

1. It’s a good question.  I think it’s because time mages can be pointed at a target a lot more easily than diviners can – if you meet a time mage and a diviner on some random street corner then the time mage can’t see anything special about you, but the diviner can.  So the Council can use them to find out other people’s secrets without having to be so worried about their own.  

2. They don’t.  The Council doesn’t like chance mages much (you hear the word ‘witch’ a lot) and the feeling’s mutual.  Back when I was looking for a teacher I went looking for a Light chance mage who might fit the bill, and it was slim pickings.  

3. With Sonder, it was actually the opposite.  He was nice enough, but I didn’t really get him at all, and every time he tried to figure out what I was thinking, he seemed to get it wrong.  I haven’t got on with any other time mages I’ve met, either.  

From: Isaac

Has Levistus been losing any influence/power with all that has happened since he crossed paths with Alex? Losing the Fateweaver, the incident with Belthas, White Rose, the failed death order on Alex and general assassination attempts, the conflict with Richard’s Cabal escalating, and Alex’s rise to a Junior Council seat, I can’t see how anyone would think well this guy is the winning horse.

The thing about those incidents you’ve listed is that the only one where Levistus lost out publicly was White Rose.  The rest of the time, it was either his personal beef with Alex, or stuff that no-one on the Council was happy about (Richard and Morden).  I don’t think Levistus having his personal grudge with Alex has helped his image much, but most people on the Council don’t seem to care enough to pay much attention.  

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Ask Luna #136

From: Alec

When Alex was imprisoned for trying to rescue Catherine did Richard try to bring him back into the fold during that time? I only ask because even though Richard told Alex he wasn’t Dark Mage material in Fated, he seemed to think that he was in the running for Chosen in Rachel’s memories and to this day. I also remember Morden telling Alex that disagreements like his were normal, so do you think that was just Dark Mage training to the extreme. I also remember Richard saying that he was really upset with Alex so do you think that statement about not being strong enough was him being angry in the moment? He is human after all and seeing his favorite student go against him could of made him lose his composure. I mean out all of his potential apprentices Alex became the most accomplished and well known and while rejecting the True path which must cause some resentment/regret about how things went down, all Richard got was Deleo who is semi reliable on the best days.

I don’t think he did, or if he did, Alex never told me. But then, he isn’t exactly keen on talking about that particular episode of his life, for obvious reasons. Might have been one of the reasons we got on in the early days – we both didn’t ask those sorts of questions.

I do wonder sometimes whether Richard might have some regrets about his pick, but I’m just as happy if he doesn’t pay any more attention to us than he does already.

From: Brutus

Luna how do you feel about alexs stunt at the mordens mansion when he was negotiating for the counsel? Are u aware what went down?

That whole thing with Onyx? I thought it went off without a hitch for a change.

From: Michael

Hey Luna thanks for getting back to me on the diviners I just have a few follow ups.

1. In what ways are the diviners you met similar to Alex? I only ask because since we hear from Alex’s perspective so much it is kind of hard to see the diviner traits from his regular personality if that makes sense.

2. In what ways were they different? I don’t want to get bogged down in details but we have not seen a lot of diviners and it would be interesting to see how they differ from the one we know. And were the diviners you met on the Light Council or independent for some reason I have not heard of them being affiliated with Light or Dark Mages. Is there a reason for this? Thanks for answering these you are great at what you do!

1. They’re always sort of watchful. Different guys, different mannerisms, but you always have the feeling that they’re constantly scanning around them. It’s not the kind you get from paranoia, it’s more some kind of automatic reflex, like they’re just wired that way. It’s not obvious, but once you see it, it’s a big giveaway.

2. Colder, mostly. Alex can be harsh, but no matter what, I was always sure he cared about me. With most of the others, Light or Dark or independent, I kind of had the feeling that they saw me like an insect on a bit of cardboard. It got uncomfortable after a while. Having someone around who cares that little about you is bad enough without them being able to find out all the things you don’t want them to know.

From: Kevin

1. I don’t know if anyone has asked you this before but has the Light Council required you do anything to stay on? If not why don’t more independent mages join just to stay on the good side of the most powerful mage institution in the country? For that matter has there been any consequences for Levistus trying to kill you? I mean I know he’s very influential but I cannot imagine the others liking the idea that members of the Light Council can be killed with impunity, precedent and all that.

2. There have been some talk about a lack of female representation in the leading roles of the Light Council and I recall you went to some meetings discussing this and were not impressed with what you saw. What weren’t you impressed by and what do you think some of the main reasons women aren’t in positions of power in the Light Council?

3. I hope this does not happen but are you worried about Richard and his cabal trying to recruit you to get leverage over Alex and Anne? Plus you are really good at what you do and Richard’s cabal seem to value competence over biases on what a mage is supposed to be, and as we have seen with Onyx power does not trump being intelligent or effective. Even it is a lesser role and without the connection to Alex and Anne do you think they would want you on staff regardless?

4. I also just realized that since you were Alex’s apprentice wouldn’t that make Richard, your grandmaster? Sorry for that image but my question is are there such things as an apprentice being connected with their teacher’s master?

1. Nope. Once you’ve passed the entrance exam, you’re in for life. As for why all the independent mages don’t do it . . . you have any idea just how much of a pain it is to go through the apprentice programme? It nearly drove me nuts some days, and I had Alex to help out. No way I could have done it on my own, I wouldn’t have known who to ask. And no, zero consequences for Levistus. Some members are more equal than others.

2. I don’t like the Council much, but honestly, from what I’ve seen of the women who join it, I don’t think promoting them up the ranks would help very much.

3. That doesn’t seem to be going to happen, which I’m personally very thankful for. I’m just getting settled in to having the shop to myself, and one of the things I’m super wary of is the Council deciding to shut me down. Having my name connected to Richard would be really bad news.

4. Stop giving them ideas! Having your master’s name following you around is bad enough without them pinning that on you too!

From: Luisa

Dear Luna,
Thank you so much for taking the time answering questions!

My first question is something rather personal to me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. You said a while ago that since mages don’t talk about their relationships in general, someone’s sexuality rarely gets known, but how is the acceptance in mage society when it does? And what about transgender or nonbinary people? I imagine that life mages might be very helpful for people seeking gender reassignment surgery, do you know whether they do that?

Lastly something more silly, does it happen often that mages accidentally choose the same name?

Thank you so much again!
Sending lots of love from Germany,
Luisa

I get the ‘acceptance’ question now and again when I’m talking to adepts and I always have trouble figuring out how to answer, because going into magical society hoping to be liked and loved and accepted for pretty much any reason is likely to end badly. It’s not that they hate you, it’s that for the most part they don’t care about you at all. Going into the serious parts of mage society is like walking into the middle of some 4-D chess match that’s been running for longer than you’ve been alive. When you realise you’re in the middle of that kind of situation, ‘what do these people think of my gender identity?’ is not the question you should be asking!

Shaper life mages can definitely change your sex, along with everything else about you, but the kinds who are willing to do those kinds of drastic changes tend to be the more morally flexible types, which comes with drawbacks.

And yes, mages do sometimes choose the same name. They can get really touchy about it, too. Apparently there have been quite a few duels fought over who gets the right to call themselves some Prestigious Name X.

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Fallen UK Cover

Looking at the final drafts for the Fallen UK cover materials that’ll be coming out this autumn, I noticed that I never got around to putting up the UK cover, so here it is!

This will be the 10th book in the Alex Verus series, out of a total of 12.  Release date is unchanged, September 24th 2019 in the US and October 10th in the UK.  As usual, I’ll put up the first chapter online a month or two in advance.  

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Ask Luna #135

From: Riley

Is it common knowledge that Alex has is at odds with Richard and Morden? I remember Chalice talking to Alex about it so wouldn’t that mean that the Light Council would at the very least use Alex to get to them instead of trying to kill him irregularly? I get the manipulation or using force, but I don’t know why Richard and Morden still think Alex would be an willing ally, but Dark Mages seem to have a strange view of the world.

That depends on what you mean by ‘common knowledge’. It’s there if anyone wants to find it out, but that doesn’t mean that they see Alex as having changed sides. They just think of it as one Dark mage having an argument with another Dark mage.

As for whether Richard and Morden think Alex would be a willing ally, I’m not sure they do. They’ve spent enough time manipulating people that the ‘willing’ part probably isn’t a big deal for them.

From: Jack

Hi Luna, just had a thought about Richard’s plan and wonder what you think of it.

I think the general theory is that Richard went to another world to aquire more power somehow. But what if we’ve been looking at it wrong?

Since getting back, Richard hasn’t displayed any unbelievable new abilities. Now, I get subtle is his style, but for years of effort, you would think he would have a lot to show for it. The guy managed to get Morden on the council and successfully raid the Light Council in a much shorter period of time. Why wait to use a trump card that was worth far more of his time? It should be unbeatable.

So, if he didn’t get overt power from his absence, why did he leave?

And I could only come up with 2 reasons:

For his plans to work, he needed to remove himself from the equation. Maybe his absence made the council complacent. Or maybe he needed a chance to observe our reality uninterrupted for years to plot things out.

Or, and this is a bit of a stretch, he wasn’t going after something. He was getting away from something. If Richard is in another reality, could a long-view diviner still predict his plans and warn anyone? Dragons seem to be protective of other magical creatures. Could his plan for the Jinn have been something a dragon could see coming if he didn’t leave? Dragons see all time, but can they see into other worlds as well?

It’s . . . possible. We’ve talked about it, but the trouble with this kind of thing is we’re really working in an information vacuum. I know a lot of people were after Richard when he left, but I’m not sure that was the reason for it.

There’s probably something to the ‘waiting for them to get complacent’ idea, though. From what I can see, the Council’s only been getting weaker over the last ten years or so. Too disunited, too little support from outsiders.

From: Chen Lukai

Which would be faster for Alex Versus? Simply calculating the best move when playing chess or using divination to find the best move? I’m assuming using divination is more accurate, but I was wondering if there would be reasons for him to NOT USE divination (other than moral implications) i.e more tiring, takes more time

For something like chess, skill is way better. You can use divination for that kind of thing, but it’s really inefficient since you have to explore the pathways one by one. Just knowing how to make a good move is a lot faster. It’s kind of like being in a battle – you could theoretically win a fight with just divination if you had enough time to plan out every possible move, but it would be horrendously slow and by the time you’d done it the guy would probably have either beaten you up or just finished what he was there to do and left.

From: Jack

Hi Luna, I have a few miscellaneous questions if it isn’t too much trouble. Thanks!

1. Is it typical for dark mages to have a chosen of a different magic type? It seems like the Light mages go for apprentices of the same kind, but they don’t seem as interested in maintaining a relationship after the apprenticeship. Alex’s mentor after Richard doesn’t seem to interested in what happens to Alex, for example. Who your master was seems to be more important to dark mages. Do you think dark mages see Chosen more as a long-term asset so they want a skillset that covers their limitations?

2. Are any subjects besides harvesting considered taboo by the light mages? Do Alex or Chalice talk about subjects light mages generally don’t?

3. Have imbued items been created sporadically throughout history, or has their creation declined as those able to make them have died out. Were ancient mages better at creating them than modern ones?

4. Can a focus, something like your whip, become an imbued item under the right circumstances? Like if they were used for decades or centuries and passed down from mage to mage, or if they eventually become “attuned” to the original owner’s personality?

5. Could harvesting have arisen from the techniques used to imprison the Jinn? The impact on the victim seems similar (the victim is left connected to the vessel/harvester and also is connected to elsewhere). It also seems unlikely people would have risked madness when they could use a Jinn to steal a rival’s powers without the same consequences and do more besides.

1. It’s more common than with Light mages, yeah. Not completely sure why, but it’s probably less to do with them seeing Chosen as a long-term asset and more to do with the fact that Dark mages are more interested in teaching ‘extracurricular activities’ than magic theory.

2. Lots of things are considered taboo. Dangerous techniques, stuff that makes the mage look bad, stuff that makes the Council look bad, stuff that the Council has classified as falling under national security (which includes most of the fights and wars of the past fifty years), which mage is sleeping with who, etc. It sometimes feels like Light mages have more subjects that are taboo than ones that aren’t. At least with other mages you can have a normal conversation.

3. They’ve been created fairly steadily but they’re a huge pain in the ass to make, and not many mages are keen on spending the months or years it takes to do it right. I don’t know if modern mages are any better than older ones.

4. I don’t think so, no. Otherwise there’d be millions of the things.

5. No clue. From what I’ve seen, both seem to have pretty big downsides.

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Personal Slowdowns

It’s been a while since I’ve put out a progress update, so I thought I’d give everyone some information about how things are going on the writing front.  Unfortunately, the news isn’t great – the current book’s a fair bit behind schedule.  

Now, when I say the current book, I don’t mean Alex Verus #10, Fallen.  All the work on that was finished a while ago and it’ll be coming out this September/October on schedule.  The book I’m working on right now is the penultimate book in the Alex Verus series, number 11, and while I’d been hoping to have it more than half done by this point, it’s only around the 10% mark.  There are various personal reasons for this, but they all come down to demands on my time and attention, and while I’m trying to work around them, at the moment my writing speed’s a fair bit lower than it has been.  

On the positive side, while the writing’s moving more slowly, it is still moving – it’s just that at the current rate, Alex Verus #11 is going to come out somewhere around autumn/winter 2020, when I’d been hoping for something more like summer.  So not the best news, but hopefully I’ll manage to speed things up a bit soon!

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Ask Luna #134

From: Warren

Are there any Junior Council members who have a significant role on the Council? I only ask because it seems that Alex is the only one on his branch who is helping out with the recent Light/Dark crisis, and before that Morden and Levistus seemed to be the only ones on the Junior Council who were actively engaged in events. Are they and Alex just exceptions to the rule or is there something else that is going on that I am missing?

They do things, just not things that you’ll see. Alex is really unusual in that he still kept going on on missions and raids even after being raised to the Council. Usually Junior and Senior Council are politicians and managers. They make decisions, but they don’t actually go into the field and carry them out.

Alex actually gets a lot of criticism from the rest of the Council for doing field work like this – they think it’s a distraction from running things (not that they want him running things). Though personally I think it’d do the Council good to go out and get their hands dirty a bit more.

From: Curtis

Okay so do you remember when Morden told Alex he would resume being Richard’s assistance or else? Well right after that Richard told Alex to become Morden’s aide, which seems to indicate there is some miscommunication going on. Now do you think could mean something or am I just splitting hairs here?

I had to read this question three times to figure out what you were trying to say.

Morden sent Alex to Richard, Richard sent Alex back to Morden. Kind of annoying, but not super significant as far as I can tell.

From: James

Hey Luna thanks for answering my question about Alex and Richard I just have a few follow ups.

1. Are the things Richard can do that pure diviners cannot the weird gating and black shield/ energy projections? Sorry if that was obvious but those were the only things I can think off that would be powers that diviners would not have unless I am missing something.

2. What are some other magic types that are a similar power set to diviners? I doubt this will help out with discovering what Richard’s is, I am just curious about skillsets that overlap with diviners.

3. Lastly do you think that the weird black shield Richard uses is an imbued item? For some reason it reminded me of Alex’s shield and mist cloak at the same time, if that makes sense.

Thanks for answering these have a great rest of your day!

1. Gating, shields, and energy projection are things that diviners are very definitely not supposed to be able to do, and they’re really good arguments against Richard being a diviner, full stop. Divination magic can’t directly affect the physical world at all.

2. Not many! Almost every magic type has some way of affecting the physical world around them. Chance and time both have overlaps, but they can do a lot more than just gather information. Honestly, the only other ones who are that limited are generally adepts.

3. It could be, but it’d have to be something really special. There are defensive imbued items out there, but they usually aren’t that powerful or versatile.

From: Michael

Do you think one of the reasons why Richard and Morden want Alex on their side is because he can do what goes against what his magic type is supposed to? Morden is a death mage but we rarely see him use it, most of the time he uses his mind/will or other non magical measures seems just as good at politics, if not better what mind mages on the council are. And since Richard is most likely not an Elementalist he most likely has adapted from whatever else his non-combat type is to be powerful enough to take down several Keeper strike teams. I am sure there are other more important reasons but do you think this could be one of them?

Indirectly . . . yeah, I do feel like that’s part of it. I think Richard and Morden seem to care a lot about resourcefulness, and that’s part of the reason that they’ve both sidelined their Chosen. They aren’t just looking for brute power, they want people who can do stuff that you wouldn’t expect from just looking at their magic type.

From: Thomas

1. Do you know what Dark Mage philosophy Chalice follows? She is hard to pin down I would almost say almost a Centrist but would that even make sense for Dark Mages?

2. If you had to guess what Dark Mage faction do you Alex would follow? Granted I think he is ultimately a Light Guardian/ Independent mage wants to be left alone, but I think what makes Alex unique is that he has a foothold in all of mage society even with the Dark mages.

3. So this is bizarre but do you think Richard follows what all of the Dark Mage factions believe in? I remember Alex saying something similar about it, and aside from the obvious unite the Light and Dark/control the Dark Mages and everyone else, he also seems to follow some code of honor since he rewards loyalty and seems to not hold grudges; be pretty accepting of other paths, and of course have no concern for others or who is hurt in his path for power. His mage name does have Dark with a H in it and while I don’t know what that letter stands for, he does seem to think he is a visionary/egomaniac.

1. She’s a Dark Independent. They’re the pure personal freedom, leave-me-alone type. Difference from actual Independents is that they don’t recognise the Council’s authority either, though the line between the two gets blurry.

2. Probably none of them. I think he got burned too hard to go down that route again. Though who knows . . .

3. From what Alex has told me, I think he’s the ‘pure’ Dark type – believes in power as the only objective reality. They vary a lot, but they all tend to not care very much about small stuff and they’re not super bothered about other paths or belief systems so long as they don’t conflict.

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Ask Luna #133

From: Randy

1. Do you know what the most common hybrid types that come from the different magical families?
2. Are there adept hybrids as well? If there are do you what the more common ones are?
3. Is the magic type illusion considered to be part of the Elemental Living or Universal families? For some reason I think it could be any of them. Can they use gate magic or does it vary mage to mage?
4. Are there any magic types that belong to all three families or is it just a matter of perspective? Do you know what the more controversial ones that defy easy classification?

1. Elemental mixes tend to be the most common. Storm (air/lightning), volcanic (fire/earth), weather (air/water), etc etc. You can’t really pick a most common type since no-one can agree on what the types are.

2. Kind of. If the type of magic you can use is an overlapping spell, you can call yourself a hybrid adept if you want. Actually, you can call yourself a hybrid adept anyway.

3. It gets classified as living, but some people would say it’s more of a universal type. They can’t use gate magic, in any case.

4. There aren’t any, but that’s really just because mages say there aren’t. You could say that illusion is sort of all three, and death mages have a lot of overlap too.

From: Brian

Do you know why Morden had Alex and Anne appointed to the Keepers and Healers Corps when for the most part they did nothing while they were there? It seems to me Morden could of had them do other things that were more effective, otherwise why would you waste highly competent mages?

Also when Morden was discussing Light Council politics he mentioned something called the Downs Stones do you know anything about what they are and what powers they might have?

Because they had to be appointed somewhere to justify their new positions as Morden’s aides. Yeah, the appointments made no sense, and yeah, they did nothing while they were there, but technically Morden had the authority and no-one could say anything because that was one of his rights as a sitting Council member. I suppose Morden could have appointed them somewhere more useful, but why would he care about making the Council run more efficiently? If he wanted them to do something he ordered them personally, he didn’t go through the Council.

And no, I have no clue about what the Downs Stones are or what they can do, due to not caring one way or the other. Sorry.

From: Sean

Hey Luna these are just a few loose end questions that I have been curious about and are unlikely to be brought up again.
1. How do you think Richard would of reacted when he came back, if Alex had joined up with Morden as an intelligence officer? Sorry if this is a foolish question, but do you think this would have affected his offer of Alex joining him again if he took up employment with another Dark Mage?
2. Do you know who the male and female that Rachel was talking about in Burned when she attacked Alex? I kinda of thought it would be Morden and Vihaela but I do not know why she would think that since Alex has had no ties with them at that point.
3. Do you know anything about the Birkstead position that Undaaris was being pressured about? It must of been important if it caused him to vote for Alex’s death sentence.

1. He’d probably have told him ‘congratulations’. I get the feeling Richard’s been wanting Alex back on his team for a while, so he’d have been just fine with getting back to find out Morden had done it already. Don’t know if it would have affected the details of the offer, but I’d guess he’d have done something similar sooner or later.

2. Which attack are we talking about again? Sorry, but Rachel’s tried to kill Alex so many times that I can’t keep track of which attack you’re talking about, much less any comments she made at the time. Given how nuts she is I’m not sure trying to make sense of what she says is the best of ideas anyway.

3. No. It was some political doodad that someone traded to Undaaris or for Undaaris or whatever. Honestly, we never had a reason to care.

From: Sam Richards

Hey Luna,

When Alex was working as an Aide on his first day he was pressured into influencing Morden’s vote for for a cushy ambassador position that had a lot of opportunity for corruption and every faction wanted their guy to get the job. They agreed on ceding the rights to the Downs Stones or something.

Anyway, recently Alex has been discussing the duties and rights of junior council members and says the that the main difference between the Junior and Senior members is that Senior members are voting members and Junior members are not.

Has Alex clarified the duties at all now that he has learned more about the sorts of things Morden was expected to do?

What’s with everyone’s fascination with the Downs Stones . . .

So there’s a big difference between how important your Council rank says you are, and how important you actually are. Officially, Morden was a relatively low-ranking member of the Council who, like you said, didn’t even get a vote. Unofficially, he was the only Dark mage on the Council, with a file stuffed with blackmail material and a bunch of contacts and allies that no-one else had. That made him way, way more important than just another Junior Councillor – he was probably more powerful than the rest of the Junior Council put together. The whole reason Alex has had so many problems since stepping into the job is that he has the notoriety that Morden had, but without the clout to back it up.

From: Sam

Luna, do you think its possible that one of the Senior Council is a figurehead for Talisid?

More interestingly, do you believe Talisid and Spire are actually the same person? As far as we know not many people have seen spire and he habitually abstains from voting.

First question: very very unlikely.

Second question: no chance at all. I don’t keep up with Light politics and even I’m sure of that.

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Ask Luna #132

From: Gavin

After everything that has happened regarding Alex thwarting their plans, is it somehow in the realm of possibility that Alex would join up with Richard and Morden and become a Dark Mage? Obviously Alex would never do so but for some reason it seems like they think he would in spite of the fact that they coerced him for so long. Do you think they might be so ingrained in Dark Mage ideals that they can not see why he would not join up with them willingly? I get that Alex is very important to their plans and they need him but the fact that he told them to their faces no he does not want to be one of them makes me think that cognitive dissonance is going on.

Short answer would be hell no. He might do the allies of convenience thing, but genuinely sign up with them? Not in a million years.

As for why they don’t understand that, well, there are two answers we’ve tossed around. One is that they’re so blind that they just can’t understand what his problem is. The other is that they don’t need him to sign up to get him to do what they want. Both are potentially bad, but in different ways – if it’s the second, it means they’ve got something planned, and if it’s the first, things are going to get nasty once they eventually wise up.

From: Jack

Hi Luna, I have some questions about Dream Stones and Shadow Realms if you’ve got the time. If you’ve covered any of these questions, or just don’t have the time to deal with them, please feel free to ignore them.

Do you think Dream Stones contain their “sentient tendencies” or that they get them from a connection to Elsewhere? For lack of a better analogy, are they like the Fateweaver which was self-contained or like the focus Alex used to contact Starbreeze, a channel to an outside force? I ask because Alex’s account seemed to indicate he was being guided to the stones by an intelligent force. If so, do you think they derive their personalities and abilities from the portion of Elsewhere they are connected to?

Are Shadow Realms connected in anyway to Elsewhere? Is there a definite link or are Deep Shadow Realms so unstable that something as abstract as Elsewhere can influence them?

I got the impression that any mage with the time and resources could create a Shadow Realm. Do you need a sort of “seed” or “starter kit” focus from a space mage to do that, or is it considered general magic?

Also, assuming that Dream Stones were connected to a specific part of Elsewhere(ignore the following if not the case), would the fact that they need to be handled for years to become stable imply that that part of Elsewhere is growing or being shaped by the mage using it? That would make an interesting parallel with Shadow Realms: a personal pocket of metaphysical space instead of actual space.

Thanks!

These ones are kind of stretching the limits of what I know, but oh well . . .

With dreamstones, your guess is as good as mine. If I had to make a bet, I’d say they’re low-level imbued items, more alive than a focus but less alive than something like the fateweaver. But I’ve heard other theories too, including your Elsewhere one.

I think shadow realms have got some kind of connection to Elsewhere, yeah, but this is REALLY advanced stuff. I tried looking at a book that’s supposed to describe it once and got lost within one page. It’s sort of like nuclear physics – you can read Wikipedia on how it works, but that doesn’t mean you understand it.

As for the last one, honestly, I’m completely out of my depth at this point. Sorry. You’re really looking for an academic mage or something, the kind who gives lectures in the apprentice program. I’ve learned a lot since I met Alex, but I’ve always focused more on the hands-on stuff. There’s just not much call for knowing the theory of how to build a shadow realm.

From: Dustin

Hello Luna, I hope this year is going well for you I just have a few questions about the relationship between Richard, Morden, and Vihaela.
1. How would you describe the power structure between Richard and Morden? I can’t tell if they are partners or if Morden is just a high ranking subordinate and the same goes for Vihaela.
2. Do you know if Morden and Vihaela are of equal rank or if one outranks the other? For that matter what does Vihaela do for Richard, I know Morden was the public face but does she have a specific role in his organization?
3. Lastly being Dark Mages and powerful ones do you think it is sustainable that this Dark Mage triumvirate will last? Morden and especially Vihaela do not seem to be ones to follow orders. How do you think Richard got them to fall in line in the first place?

1. It’s a really good question. It seems like Richard’s in charge, but a lot of the time they seem to be so much on the same page that it doesn’t matter. I don’t think we’ve ever heard any real evidence of any conflict between them, which is kind of weird in itself.
2. It doesn’t seem like either Morden or Vihaela gives orders to the other. Best guess is that they have a ‘you have your territory, I have mine’ agreement. As for Vihaela’s role, she does combat and interrogation.
3. Good question. Morden and Richard seem to get on weirdly smoothly, like I said. Vihaela’s another story – if one of them’s going to turn on the others, I’d expect it to be her.

From: Xavier

Do you think Rachel/Deleo bonded Cinder like he did with Kyle? It could have happened just like when the Nightstalkers attacked, and she chose to do the same after he attacked the mansion for whatever the reason. I believe Cinder had a bad relationship with his former master so maybe she took whoever it was out and he joined up with her, and did the same with Kyle. Makes a kinda of poetic sense at least for Dark Mages but what do you think about this?

I dunno, that whole scenario just kind of feels off. From what I’ve seen, Cinder and Deleo don’t seem to have that kind of relationship – she doesn’t really act like his senior. Also, they’re either a similar age or Cinder’s a bit older, so it’s hard to see how she could have been that much more experienced than he was.

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Ask Luna #131

From: Wangus

Hi,

I was wondering, is divination visible to magesight?

No. Generally, none of the sensory effects are magesight-visible – if all you’re doing is directly boosting your passive senses, there’s no easy way for anyone else to tell. There are some complicated ways of figuring out if someone’s using those kinds of spells, but basic magesight doesn’t cut it.

From: Oscar

How is the Unity Bloc doing during this Light Council-Dark Mage crisis, is there even one after all this has happened?

Haven’t heard anything about them. Which probably says all you need to know, thinking about it.

From: Silas

Hey Luna just have a few questions about Landis.
1. Do you know what Landis’s rank/role is in the Order of the Shield? I don’t see him as just a soldier but nor do I see him as a leader if that makes sense.
2. Do you happen to know how old Landis is? I remember Caldera saying they were in the Apprentice program but for some reason I always pictured him as older than that, Alex being older is kind of strange if Landis is around Caldera’s age .
3. How you rank him as a battle mage? Do you think he is on the level of the late Belthas and Vihaela or is he just below them? And Vihaela is up there right? Sorry if that is obvious, I know she is dangerous enough because of her connections and intelligence, but is she also one of the more dangerous battle mages?

1. The Order of the Shield’s got a flatter rank structure than the other orders. You’re an apprentice or a journeyman, and apart from the commanders, that’s about it as far as formal rank goes. Informally, you get listened to based on how experienced or respected you are, so even though Landis doesn’t have any official rank, people tend to listen to him when he talks.
2. Somewhere in his forties. He’d definitely a good few years older than Caldera.
3. He’s very good. On Vihaela’s level, probably. There are supposed to be mages who can match them, but I don’t know any who are better.

From: Jim

Is there anything from stopping Morden and Richard from threatening Alex and Anne’s families in order to get them to work for their side again? I don’t want to be myopic but even without the death sentence that is pretty scary to have over you.

We’ve had time to put a few contingency plans in place, so we’ll have a much better chance if anyone tries something like that again (don’t really want to go into details for obvious reasons). If Morden and Richard really wanted to push something like that, though, I don’t like our chances. They have a lot of resources.

From: Amy

1.) Does Viheala accept volunteer slaves?
2.) If so, where does one sign up?

What.

Okay, I’m done for the day.

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