Last time, humadoggies ate a humadoggy and there was a bit of philosophy.
Now, it’s Neleh again.
…So, the reason for the previous chapter was likely just a scene change issue.
She’s just finished rekilling the dead bodies and they’ve begun to burn them. This is apparently a pretty sucky Wyld Hunt, because they actually lost people to a couple zombies.
Let’s talk about Thorns, which has come up before. Thorns was once a city in the Scavenger Lands. One day, the armies of the Mask of Winters attacked it.
The city’s many Dragonblooded went out and battled gloriously, their essence flaring around them and tearing apart the undead.
Then they realized the Abyssals were still standing, and that’s when they all died. And that’s why Thorns is now a giant necropolis seated in the middle of a slowly expanding shadowland.
Before Abyssals, all the deathlords had were armies of mooks that could be cut down with ease. Hell, even the peasant village at the start of this book can handle minor levels of undead. If you’re expecting to take on anathema but die to a bunch of rotting corpses, you are a failure.
She says she’s looking at the survivors. From this, the remaining Wyld Hunt, including herself, is five people. She doesn’t say how many of the Hunt they lost, just that it was “several”, plus every one of their servants.
No one points out that if you can’t even take on a village of zombies, how can you expect to take on the guy who made the village into those corpses after first taking out everyone inside an Immaculate temple?
Holok told her about the fight he had. Now when she looked at him, it was with a mixture of respect and fear. Fucking Holok. He’s also one shitty Sidereal in general, the correct excuse would have been to say there were a couple more skeletons, not more look-at-how-special-and-mysterious-I-am. He won’t give her details, but she goes back to examine the gouge the sickle had made in the wall after it pierced his hand. It went three inches deep
If you’re an exalt, you can drop kick oxen. This is not impressive, book.
She’d also gone back with the intention of looting Shamblemerry’s body. It was, to her dismay, gone. Holok had been philosophical about it. “Strange things happen to her kind upon death,” he’d said
Another way Neleh’s a better character is that finally, someone admits they’re in it to loot bodies. We also see why Holok was so supportive of the monks’ “uuuuuuh maybe the bones are getting hidden by the ghosts? I mean who knows with ghosts” nonsense, it’s because he’s fond of the same line of excuse. If you really thought the body would vanish you should have looted it, dumbass.
While Neleh doesn’t know it, this totally is bullshit. They don’t know what the fuck Abyssals are because they’ve only been around five years and first appeared in Creation four years ago, when Thorns fell. While the Sidereals are undoubtedly very interested in that, they’re also dealing with 150 new Solars that need murdering while trying to deal with the loss of the Scarlet Empress and impending civil war, keeping a lid on the 300 Lunars also running around, and their own factional disputes, and then do their actual intended job of keeping fate running properly. And there’s only a hundred of them, and since their exaltations have a cooldown period where it sticks to a baby and you have to wait for it to grow up, you need someone to steal the kids and train them in Heaven, and so on. Plus, you can’t expect them to miss out on the awesome party tonight.
They’re busy people. And it’s not like you can easily grab an Abyssal for examination.
This is particularly bad because it’s unintuitive, so there’s no way they’d come to this conclusion easily. Exaltation ceases upon death. In the case of the indestructible exaltations, it then goes to jam into someone new. If an exalt type is doing weird stuff after dying, it’s behaving completely differently than they ever have before. The first assumption of a Sidereal is that they failed to kill it and it just played possum, or possibly the whole thing was a delusion.
Holok then says he’s burning the bodies in part because respect for the dead is important, Funny how that didn’t come up before, isn’t it? He follows this up with taking a peek at the script.
Obviously, the monster responsible for this is no longer here, but he’s secondary. I think we want the boy Shamblemerry spoke of to me, not Ratcatcher.”
Neleh wants to know why the fuck he thinks this. They know Ratcatcher’s the one who did this.
I have no desire to follow trails that divert us from what we’re supposed to be doing. Avenging murders is all well and good, but I’d rather prevent the ones that will follow in the child’s path if he lives.”
Because clearly, Ratcatcher will never again harm a living person. You can tell by the obvious glee he took in dismembering those children over there. Killing him now would be just closing the barn door after the horses escaped.
Holok insists, for no reason, that Ratcatcher isn’t the omen, the Wyld Hunt’s job is to hunt omens and not anathema, and that therefore, the kid must be the omen.
My gut tells me that he was drawn here as surely as we were, and by the same thing. Ask yourself this-why did the Deathknight ask us for the boy? That is the question the whole affair balances on. One would think that if he were nothing, Shamblemerry would not have asked for him, and if he were allied with the Abyss, they would already have him. That’s the only way this makes sense.”
Oh your gut. Well then, that’s sure proof.
What’s particularly bad here is that because of the constant POV shifting, we know why they’re looking for him, and it’s because he found the dagger by chance and Ratcatcher stumbled over him by chance. The fact he exalted is beside the point.
What would work here is if Holok had done an on the fly divination, and that turned up something saying the big deal anomaly seemed to be centered on the boy and not the Abyssal. (As a bonus, this doesn’t even need to be true – once Abyssals head back for the underworld, they’re invisible to fate again, so the divination wouldn’t even get results for him. And that would be taking into account the major limitation of divination for once.)
At this point he could either say that or, if he was meant to be undercover, lie and claim it was a gut instinct because he’s not supposed to be able to. But that’s boring. You need to think like a Sidereal.
Sids have a cool charm that does nothing but convince people you’re lying, because that’s how Sidereals work. What he should do is pretend to be that Abyssal when Neleh comes back to see what’s holding him up, and mention the boy but say he’s not important and has nothing to do with this. That will leave Neleh convinced that the boy is the important one.
The chapter ends with Holok muttering to himself that once he finds the boy he’ll understand. Not likely, Holok. That would require there being something to understand.