“Okay,” I said, fear making my voice weak. “This is bad. This is very, very bad.”
“Wish I had my pistol,” Murphy said, her tone resolute. “I wish we’d had some more time to talk things out, Harry.”
I glanced over at Tera. One of the Alphas, the mouse-haired girl in her wolf-shape, was leaning against her and whimpering. “Close your eyes,” Tera said softly and covered the little wolf’s eyes with her hand.
Her amber eyes met mine, without hope, without any sparkle of life.
It’s interesting to contrast everyone here. Harry’s dialogue is bad writing and reads like a joke. Murphy’s is cliche but decent, and Tera continues to somehow exist in parallel to the rest with her own concerns and people, as if she’s an actual person and not a Harry satellite.
They were going to die because of me. Dammit all, it wasn’t fair. I hadn’t done anything grossly stupid.
Huh. Yeah, that does seem to be what Harry means when he accepts blame. He’s in some way connected to the events, but none of it is actually causal so it’s just him being noble about it.
Harry explains the trap is definitely a good trap and he, a wizard, is totally defeated by a hole. Not tempted to make dark bargains with demons, not pondering if he can get off a death curse that’d help the others out, not considering if he could call for fairy assistance, just like, wow, BIG hole, you win universe.
He then decides that he is willing to consider dark bargains with humans, or at least alliances of mutual convenience, and asks Marcone if he can save all their asses.
The loup-garou growled, low, and started pacing a circuit of the pit, glowing eyes flashing between us down at the bottom and Marcone, trying to decide who to rip apart first.
This suggests that if they’d just dropped Marcone in the pit everyone would already be dead. Bad job, FBI.
“Do you still keep that knife on you? The one I saw at the garage?”
“Denton and his associates searched me and found it, I am afraid,” came Marcone’s voice.
“Dammit all. You’re a miserable, stupid bastard for making a deal with Denton, Marcone. Now do you believe he wanted to kill you all along?”
The figure above me wiggled and writhed, swinging from the ropes that held him trussed up there. “Yes, do tell me that you told me so with your last breath, Mr. Dresden. I was already rather acutely aware of that,” Marcone said, his voice dry. “But perhaps I’ll yet have a chance to make amends.”
“What are you doing?” I asked. I kept my eyes on the loup-garou, as it circled the pit, and kept myself opposite the creature, where I could see it.
“Reaching for the knife they didn’t find,” Marcone replied.
Haha, Marcone. Even while facing imminent death, still happy to troll Harry for asking the wrong question. You’d think Harry’d know to pay more attention to wording but then what do you think he is, some sort of magic geek?
Murphy doesn’t expect Marcone escaping to help them out. Marcone doesn’t really argue but does explain what the point of the trap is, I guess because he’s always wanted to do the villain monologue as the hero enters his death trap and this way he can get it out of his system safely. He was supposed to be on top of the platform, and I guess they were super confident they knew how high it could jump because he seems certain it ends up in the pit without harming him, then nets to keep it until its morning return to human killability because yeah, nets would really hold something that plows through prison walls.
Also, for some reason, he goes on, “I use this place to conduct noisy business,” Marcone said. “The trees muffle the sound, you see. You can barely hear even shotgun blasts on the other side of the wall.”
Harry just says that’s despicable rather than a long ramble about law and personally deciding who dies is super wrong.
Marcone then throws the knife to cut one of the ropes where it’s attached in the trees.
The rope abruptly sagged, and the platform-and Marcone with it-swayed drunkenly. Marcone grunted, and bounced against his ropes a few times, making the whole affair of ropes lurch about-and then the damaged line snapped and came entirely free. It whipped out toward Marcone, lost momentum, and then fell through the evening air.
??? He throws a knife at the rope, which makes it and the platform sag as if it’s no longer attached. Marcone then bounces to stress the damaged rope, which is somehow stressable and in fact under intense tension despite it sagging.
Why not just say the rope was cut?
Harry promptly climbs up the rope because it’s not like he’s got any physical injuries that would get in the way of that and then begins swinging back and forth so he can swing out of the pit. During this, he apparently forgets the werewolf is there entirely. You know, maybe he’s got some sort of unconscious magic where he can swap physical and mental damage around and he keeps shoving his injury into his brain and then being too stupid to realize that’s a bad idea.
A bunch of rope shenanigans and just missing occur, as MacFinn jumps all over except never into the pit. Harry eventually gets off the damn rope and is like wait fuck I’m still dinner up here, but now that his stupid ass is out of the way Tera can climb up and help. Also, she claims to be able to handle a cursewolf fine so he should just go deal with the others.
And that’s when I saw the difference between Tera and the Alphas, Tera and Denton’s Hexenwulfen, even Tera and the loup-garou. Where they were fast, Tera was fast and graceful. Where they were quick, Tera was quick and elegant. She made them look like amateurs. She was something more primal, more in tune with the wild than they would ever be.
As the loup-garou threw itself at her, she slipped to one side like wind, threw her shoulder beneath the beast’s planted forepaw, and shouldered it off-balance, making it stumble. It recovered and spun toward her, but she was already gone
So yeah, the solution to MacFinn the whole time has apparently just been “get Tera there to distract him then take the rest of the night off”.
But there’s still our spellwolves, who now have to actually do spells to get their belts to work despite that not being how it’s worked any of the other times:
Benn’s voice repeated a low, frantic chant, and then I heard her words turn into an animal’s snarls.
Why? I don’t know. Because this way there’s noise alerting Harry, and if it was just snarling he wouldn’t know it was a sexy she-wolf in particular I guess?
It was time to play the last option I had, the one I hadn’t wanted to be forced to use. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I did, but there wasn’t much choice.
I slipped my hand beneath my shirt and touched the wolf belt I’d taken from Agent Harris in the alley behind the Full Moon Garage.
Okay, let’s think about this.
1) They know he took the belt.
2) Harris REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY wants that belt back.
3) Everyone else wants his belt back so he’ll shut up about it.
4) They know Harry is a wizard who could have all sorts of other wizard shit on him.
5) Harry’s wearing the magic belt in the same damn place they wear theirs.
No one searched him? Not only that, but they went through the trouble of searching Marcone but not Harry?
And then for the sake of drama Harry self-edits his own thoughts to not mention it was an option earlier while he’s all “fuck gonna die” in the pit?
It was easy. It was easier than any magic I’d ever done, leaping into me with a sort of hungry eagerness, seeping into me, making pain and fatigue and fear vanish and replacing it with nothing but strength, ferocity.
Uh, the fact muggles can use it suggests that it doesn’t take any magic to activate it therefore yeah, of course it’s going to be easier than any magic you actually do.
He then does a chant: ” Lupus,” I whispered. ” Lupus, lupara, luperoso.” despite, again, that not being any sort of thing before now. We saw them repeatedly shift just by touching the belt.
My vision was sharp and clear enough to count the hairs on the head of the she-wolf orienting on me a few feet away. I could hear the pounding of her heart, the restless motion of the wind, the heavy breaths of the other agents in the trees, moving toward me like great, clumsy cows. If the sun had suddenly risen into the sky, I could not have seen any more clearly than I did, all in glorious shades of blue and green and maroon and purple, as though God had dipped his brush into a late summer twilight and replaced all the darkness with those colors.
So are you a wolf or not? You’re calling your fellow spellwolf one, but your own description makes it clear you’re something totally different. And if you’re just a ragespirit who happens to be looking wolfy, why would a rage spirit have glorious color vision either? All you need to see is red.
But then that’s but the tip of the nonsense iceberg:
Benn came through the trees first, fast and powerful, but clumsy and impatient and stupid. I could smell her excitement, pitched to an almost sexual level. She was expecting an easy kill, a sudden rush over one of the slow, graceless two-legs and then the hot, spurting blood, the frenzied writhing. I did not oblige her. As she came through the trees, I leapt forward and was at her throat before she even realized I was there. A quick rip, hot blood, and she yelped in agony and fear, throwing herself to one side.
Stupid bitch. I’d missed the heart’s blood, but she was badly hurt. Two snaps severed her hamstrings as she tried to flee and left her writhing on the ground, helpless and terrified. I felt my body thrill with abrupt and vicious excitement. The bitch was mine now.
So the belt makes you incredibly powerful and graceful, except the other spellwolves are clumsy in comparison to the guy who’s just transformed for the first time.
The fat one then tries to rescue her, but I guess being fat despite not being any such thing in wolf form also makes you inferior, because Harry effortlessly dodges that attack. Then despite them having super sight and super noses Benn can’t tell who he is and bites at him and then the other guy rips open her throat.
My mouth watered, jaws growing damp with saliva, as I smelled the bitch’s blood, and I wanted to fling myself at her, tear her apart myself as she went screaming to her death.
Also – the belts may make you evil and blood-obsessed, but none of them kept raving about bitches. What you say when you lack inhibition is still you. This here? Is Harry.
Anyway, there’s two remaining. We’ve had the bitch get condescendingly attacked and then crippled so Harry could have fun with her, followed by the fat one being easily dodged and then the dumb girl getting killed first by a guy. Therefore, it’s natural that now the awkward ginger screws things up – seeing two wolves fighting he assumes one is one of the other group, and somehow he’s able to identify Benn but not Wilson’s wolf form, so he starts shooting.
He twisted and strained as he went down, paws scrabbling at his own stomach, until there was abruptly a balding, overweight man lying on the earth beside the dead wolf, his jacket open, his shirt unbuttoned to show the unfastened wolf belt. There was blood all over Wilson, bubbling out of his mouth.
“Holy …” Harris breathed, pacing closer, his gun held up, until he could see what he had done.
“George? Oh, God. Oh, God, I thought you were one of them. What the hell …”
Agent Wilson didn’t answer the redheaded kid. He simply drew his gun from his jacket and started shooting.
So in other words my earlier suggestion of “shoot them, they’ll probably just go nuts and attack each other” was totally right.
Harry’s smug about this whole mess because haha suckers working alone means never needing to worry about friendly fire! Harry doggy-grins and heads off to eat Denton.
He finds him. They fight for a bit, then break apart to circle.
I laughed at him silently, and he answered me in much the same way.
I assume we’re not supposed to think this is just Harry being crazy.
I understood him, then, and rejoiced with him in the power he had found. In that moment, I loved the man, felt him a brother, and longed to hold his throat in my jaws as the last of his blood flowed out of him. It was the most ancient of struggles, the deepest of conflicts: survival of the fittest.
I’m willing to accept magic can create creatures that behave in nonsense ways. That’s one of the many great things about magic. The fact this isn’t wolf behavior could be okay. But risking death to wipe out the those you think of as related to you is the opposite of survival of the fittest. Stop acting like any of this madness has to do with nature.
Anyway Harry is a sue so although he got bit in the leg he’s fine while when he bites Denton naturally that’s crippling and he’s basically won, so he starts carefully wearing him down because totally how rage spirits should function sure.
I grew contemptuous of him as he began to whimper, to seek escape. The fool. He should never have tested himself against me. Should never have tried his strength against mine. Had he yielded to me at once, I would have been content to lead him, to accept him as a follower, and taken him with me on the hunts.
I wonder if this is how the author sees the lycanthropes as working? In both cases we have what appear to be crazy rage monsters being social for no clear reason.
It’s also annoying because Denton’s group already made perfect sense as people working together because of preexisting attachment, but now apparently the belts just make you want to form packs, because why have characterization when we could have blanket traits that don’t even make sense.
Also he starts thinking about killing people with his girlfriend and then having sex with her, and somehow his elaborate sex fantasies don’t throw him off his game at all despite Benn being easy to take out.
Denton then pulls off his belt and begs for his life. Harry thinks this is hilarious. Luckily his girlfriend shows up and he’s all YES THE PERSON I LIKE TO HAVE SEX WITH IS HERE BEST ENDING TO MURDERING A GUY EVER but then he sees she’s all horrified and he’s like wait fuck she DOESN’T want to have sex??? wat even
I felt Denton’s pulse beneath my tongue. Felt his whimpers vibrate into my mouth. So easy. One simple motion, and I would never have doubts, fears, questions. Never again.
And,something inside of me said in a calm tone, you’ll never be Harry Dresden again.
This is interesting in comparison to what Harry’s been saying about the others. Denton really does seem perfectly human. He’s even lucid enough to pull off his belt here and human enough to mistakenly think that’d mean anything to a monster like Harry. He’s messed up by the belt, sure, but not that much – from what we know, he’s still pretty much following his original plan. Possibly pre-belt Denton would be more horrified by accidentally killing people, but then again, a person who has a gun and is in charge of dealing with murder investigations has probably had to face up to that already – and to the fact that people are just as dead if the mistake you make is not stopping the other guy rather than doing it yourself.
I guess it’s getting glossed over because Marcone is Chilly Kitty Daddy – the book’s willing to be up-front about him being a murderer, but basically seems to treat that with about as much moral weight as most people would apply to an actual tiger. Who is Marcone killing, and how many? The thing is, the FBI should know that destabilizing things by removing the head will just produce more deaths unless the guy up top is really into his murders, which means Denton’s motivation must either be that he’s Lawful Neutral and all that matters is wrongdoers must be punished or that Marcone is actually causing misery in excess of what the resultant gang war is expected to do.
Come to think of it, maybe Bianca would just sweep in and take over the territory – she should be able to take out Marcone as is but may have no real motivation to do so, but massive violence on her doorstep should bug her. If she makes it clear she’s going to come down on anyone causing a disturbance, the power transfer might not involve anywhere near the normal disruption.
Bianca would actually be a pretty good replacement from the law’s point of view. She seems much more invested in not killing and the usual prostitution problems are minimized since she’s somehow doing ethical brothels. Even just her habit of getting angry when her employees are harmed makes her way better than usual. Plus she’s immortal, so once she is installed you don’t have to deal with succession fights ever again. Really the only issue is I’m not sure how Denton would feel about it, because again, signs point to this being about him just hating people who get away with breaking the law, so he shouldn’t like Bianca either.
Anyway, Harry’s all OH NO THE EVIL BELT, IT IS EVIL and yanks it off. Then he tells Rodriguez not to touch him. If he was a girl, that’d mean it was required for the other character to override this and hug him, but as he’s a boy, it is totally true and must be respected, and she quickly gets away from him. Instead, she does the girl thing of saying this is bad and he shouldn’t have to do it, as seen in our previous boy/girl conversations.
Then Murphy and the human babywolf pack arrive. Harry orders the women and children to continue to escape. Murphy is offended by this bullshit, perhaps in part because she’s already looted herself a gun and is therefore infinitely more armed than Harry is now.
Rodriguez tries to object as well.
“But Harry …” she began.
Fury rose to the top of the rampant emotions coursing through me. “I’ve got enough blood on my hands,” I screamed. “Get these kids out of here, damn you.”
Susan’s dark-toned face went pale
But even darker-skinned Mexicans are still reddish! Like okay, dark enough if we’re having a discussion of institutionalized racism and prejudice and stuff, but not enough that it should be such a big deal you keep bringing up how you’re totally banging an incredibly dark chick did you mention she’s daaaaaark??? Unless you don’t tan and have never seen anyone else tan before, you should not be making that big of a deal about how oh my god her skin doesn’t resemble bleached flour. Maybe someone told the author that bringing up non-white skin tones was a good way to show off how super diverse you are?
Anyway, Harry’s snarling successfully terrotizes his his so dark girlfriend into mutely obeying his orders and going.
Then, because plot speed is working on an event flag system, completing this means Tera immediately fucks up somehow offscreen and gets crunched by MacFinn.
Harry explains that their new plan is to go after MacFinn and try to distract it so the others can escape, despite the fact there’s still plenty of time left and it shouldn’t have any trouble eating them and then catching up with the rest.
“What about Marcone?”
“What about him?”
“He saved our lives,” I said. Murphy’s expression said she wasn’t happy with that idea. “We owe him.”
It wasn’t like he could’ve cut himself loose and pranced away while it ate you. He cut the rope so you’d climb out and deal with the thing trying to kill him. Not only am I unconvinced you even owe him for that much help when it was obviously an attempt to save himself, but also you not only distracted MacFinn and returned the favor, and you even specifically yanked on the ropes midway through so it missed him when it jumped. You saved him several times in return for him dropping a rope in the hopes you’d deal with it for him.
The debt is paid.
For her part, Murphy is suspicious this nonsense is in fact part of some setup because with her dead no one’s left to say what actually happened here, and Harry just tells her to go be a baby with his girlfriend then, and she doesn’t have other options so she goes along with his stupid plan of splitting up in the hopes it’ll only go after one of them while the other has time to do stuff, because we can’t possibly let the mobster get hoisted by his own mansion designed to muffle all forms of gunshots and keep any police from investigating to help.