Dresden Files Grave Peril Ch25

Farla's NaNoWriMon

Last chapter, Harry wears a dumb outfit and the vampires get cartoonishly outraged.

This chapter, Harry’s remembering he has to complain about fucking everything, so the fact the outfit he chose to outrage vampires outraged them is now terrible.

Hell’s bells. I’d meant to give the vamps a little thumb of the nose with the costume, but wow. I didn’t think I’d get this much of a reaction.

Now, you might think I’m characterizing this unfairly. Surely it’s reasonable to be upset you misjudged the level of reaction?

No. No it is not. As ridiculously absurd as it is the vampires are literally hissing at Harry right now, that’s not an issue of how much they hate it, that’s an issue of the vampires somehow having no self-control. Bianca in the first book seemed to have a moral sense but third book’s vampires are just your typical petty murderers kept in check only by immediate consequences, and even then there’s a good chance they’ll try to bite you in the face anyway. They aren’t only going to kill you because your costume made them super ultra mad. They’re going to kill you if you do anything to slightly irritate them, or if you don’t irritate them at all but they think they can get away with it.

The issue was never precisely how mad this might make the vampires. It was just whether or not it was a good idea to get vampire attention when they’re trigger-happy giant bat monsters with really good memories. That’s why it’s stupid for Harry to act like their slightly different reaction to his dumbass joke matters. Either he’s willing hold up a neon arrow pointing to his jugular or he’s not.

“Steady, Harry,” Michael murmured. “They’re like mean dogs. Don’t flinch or run. It will only set them off.”

First it’s a wolf den, now they’re dogs. In either case, all this does is bring up yet another way this metaphor is bad: vampires are not pursuit predators. Given their reaction time, with Bianca nearly taking Harry’s head off even with him knowing she was a danger, they may be stalking or ambush predators, but the fact they have addictive spit, glamoured hotness, and seem to prefer keeping around a stockpile of humans implies they really are parasitic when it comes to dinner. What sudden movement does to a dog, a drunken grin should do to a vampire.

Now, perhaps this isn’t a food issue, but a territorial issue. In that case they might lunge at Harry when he shows weakness but making him leave is the point of it, so they wouldn’t do anything to actually get in the way of it. I guess they might tear him up a bit because a warning bite to a vampire might take off the arm of a mortal, but in that case the core issue is Harry’s somehow got them treating him as a fellow vampire. It also makes little sense that vampire on somebody else’s territory would be feeling hyper territorial rather than subdued – and if vampires did work that way where new place = increased aggression, then as soon as someone does an aggression display at Harry, it should set off their neighbors and the vampires should be tearing each other apart instead.

In conclusion running actually would be the best option. And there’s no reason not to say as much, either, because it’s not an option available to Harry.

The only way, or at least the only way that isn’t too much effort for Harry (given he evidently doesn’t tell us other options until he’s got no choice but to go to plan E), to deal with the nightmare now is to find whoever’s in cahoots with it. Furthermore, he just aggroed the nightmare but we know now that it may be a super ghost that can tear you to bits, it can’t cross thresholds after all, meaning while he’s safe inside the building, trying to walk out will be another thing (especially since whoever’s in cahoots with it has probably magic-dialed it to say to get over here).

This is the perfect time for “shit shit abort oh fuck can’t I’m trapped”.

I really think this is may well be a narrative rule – it works so much better to say, “There is a good solution to this but it isn’t available, oh noes!” than “The thing you were already doing, keep doing that, it is the ideal response to this new thing also. Tension? What’s tension?”

Anyway, sexy sex vampire saves the day again by laughing before anyone can shoot Harry to death. Dammit.

His head was thrown back, every lean line of muscle on him displayed with the casual disregard of skilled effort. The butterfly wings caught the light at the edges of the spots and threw them back in dazzling colors.
“I’ve always heard,” Thomas drawled, his voice loud enough to be heard by all, artfully projected, “that the Red Court gave its guests a warm welcome. I hadn’t thought I’d get such a picturesque demonstration, though.” He turned toward the dias and bowed. “Lady Bianca, I’ll be sure to tell my father all about this dizzying display of hospitality.”

I mean, it’s nice to see a character in any of the books I’m reading actually doing a bit of diplomancing. Just…ugh, it means Harry doesn’t die.

Also all of this feels like it was originally supposed to be a fae ball. The over the top reactions, the generally giving a shit in the first place about a party, and now the idea hospitality is a particularly big deal.

Anyway then Bianca comes up and, like with Katniss, also goes with the idea that it’s intensely clever to just say “fuck it the clothing was fire”. Harry’s description of her is is standard creepiness, however: She had on a pair of real heels at least, adding several inches to her rather unimpressive height. I think this is him just being a dick but I really, really think it’s cool to think about how human populations vary across time. Vampires should be by and large unusually tiny people, with the occasional imposing six footer being some fragile newbie. Also, if they’re sensitive to their height then you could even get a situation where vampires keep getting shorter even as the average height grows larger.

Also in his noir creeping is this line: The curve of her smile promised things that were probably illegal, and bad for you, and would carry warnings from the Surgeon General, but that you’d still want to do over and over again.

And this isn’t just your typical sexy lady who’s threateningly sexy. The illegal things she wants to do to you involve eating you, and we know that even when she tries not to kill she can do it by accident. In that context, but that you’d still want to do over and over again is, I think, the mindwammy talking. This is not a femme fatale who metaphorically destroys you with lots of hot sex all the time. This is literally a lady who kills you, straight up, with her inhuman strength and various sharp bits. It’s like a con artist saying, “Okay you got me, man, you’re really clever…” She knows people know she’s dangerous and she leans into it, because it’s so easy to tweak it into “dangerous…at making you commit the sexiest sins!”

I wasn’t interested. I had seen what was underneath her mask, once before. I couldn’t forget what was there.

Anyway, in that light, I also think the problem is she’s misread Harry’s kinks. The only thing Harry loves more than refusing to have sex with women is refusing to have sex with fallen women. He’s probably getting off on this right now. If she switched tactics to “are you looking at my boobs? HOW DARE I THOUGHT YOU WERE A GENTLEMAN HERE ON IMPORTANT BUSINESS! SOMEONE FETCH ME MY WHIP!” or something Harry would melt at her feet.

She makes barely-even-innuendo about eating him, Harry says fuck off, she’s all well we’ll see, Harry flips out.

She had given her tacit permission for her people to try to get to me. They couldn’t just walk up and bite me, maybe, but yeesh. I’d have to be on my guard.

You could probably make a drinking game of how many times Harry announces that oh my god, this is serious, he’d better be on guard. Did the nightmare eat the part of his brain in charge of laying down memories?

I thought of Kelly Hamilton’s narcotic kisses on my throat, the glowing warmth that had surrounded me, infused me, and shivered. Some part of me wondered what it might be like to let the vamps catch me, and if it would be all that bad.

Yes because you deliberately and repeatedly burned your bridges with them. Even assuming your speculation that they’d like a pet druggie wizard is true, you’ve made it clear to them you’re not housebroken.

Look I realize this is just supposed to be more ~ooh sexy temptation mindwammy drugs~ but come on. There are actual facts in play. The whole seductive drug vampire thing only works if the vampires have not explicitly said they’re going to murder you. They’ve said it. Repeatedly.

He then tells us about how Bianca clearly had something in mind based on what he’s just seen, having evidently not worked this out before now.

My legs were shaking, making the trip down unsteady. I prayed that none of the vamps noticed it. Wouldn’t do to let them see weakness.

This is surprising. While Harry does often have the level of vulnerability involved in complaining this new thing is the worst ever and he’s screwed, actual frailty is a lot rarer.

I’m not sure I can read anything into the fact he’s hoping to conceal this – do the vampires not have super senses, or even the sort of attention and focus a regular mundane predator has? I mean, we’ve established they are wolves and also dogs, and I feel both of those animals would notice if some delicious num-nums was having trouble walking, let alone one who just hammered a squeaky toy in front of them to make sure it had their full attention. But Harry knows nothing about vampires and is also an idiot, so even if vampires have a specific power that does nothing but alert them to leg-trembles, Harry would still say this.

While we can’t get any information on general vampire abilities from this, we can know for certain that the vampires know Harry is one more hiss away from peeing himself, because Michael, without any prompting, reassures Harry that he’ll stick close right behind him. If the ordinary human with lots of other things to worry about easily noticed, so did everyone else.

Thomas was waiting for me with one hand on the hilt of his sword, his pale body on shameless display.

“Oh, my, that was marvelous, Harry. May I call you Harry?”
“No,” I said. I caught myself, though, and tried to soften the answer. “But thanks. For what you said, when you did. Things might have gotten ugly.”

Huh. This is surprisingly nice for Harry. I think it only reinforces my supposition he’s not into guys, though, because he’s generally such a creep to people he wants to fuck.

While they’re chattering sexy vamp’s drink rolled off and someone else is pondering picking it up and popping it open.

While I watched, the man reached out and stroked his fingers over her shoulder. He made some comment that made the lovely girl laugh.
“Excuse me,” Thomas said with distaste. “I can’t abide poachers.

The nerve! It’s almost like everyone here is some sort of bad person.

The courtyard was full of people. Many of them were young, pretty folk, dressed in all manner of black, poster children for the Goth subculture. Leather, plastic, and fishnet seemed to be the major themes in display, complete with black domino masks, heavy hoods upon cloaks, and a variety of different kinds of face paint. They talked and laughed, drank and danced to the music. Some of them wore a band of scarlet cloth about their arm, or a bloodred choker around their throats.

They are also snorting drugs and taking pills, because goths, ugh, kids today, with their black and their pills and their wanting to be killed by vampires.

Anyway because vampires are completely into this kind of thing, the vampires have their own one-color outfit, red.

“The kids with the red bands are what? Junior vampires?”

You see why I said earlier that Harry hoping the vampires don’t notice he’s scared tells us nothing about if that’s possible. He’s a fucking idiot.

“Marked cattle, I’d say,” Michael rumbled. There was anger in it, steady and slow anger.

Now, you may recall that Michael said he was not going to sit quietly if something horrible went down in front of him.

“Easy, Michael. We need to move around a little. Make it harder for them to hem us in.”
“Agreed.”

The book’s already forgotten, though!

Also, what’s going on is the vampires are circling around them and Harry/the author have decided that if they keep moving in this enclosed location packed to the gills with vampires, they can keep from being surrounded, because I guess the vampire pathfinding AI was set to Very Easy when they started the game.

Kyle Hamilton wore a harlequin’s outfit, all in shades of scarlet. Kelly followed along with him, dressed in a scarlet body stocking that left nothing to the imagination

The pair continue to illustrate the gender divide.

Harry comments on the fact Kelly is showing signs of burns from their previous encounter.

I expected her to snarl or hiss or go for my throat.

And it’s not that he’s too stupid to realize this is a bad idea, he just seems to have forgotten that he’s scared of being attacked by vampires. He keeps whiplashing between provoking them and trembling in terror at the fact they’re provoked.

But yeah, she doesn’t do as expected.

she turned to the table, collected a silver goblet and a crystal wineglass from the attendant there, and offered them to us with a smile that mirrored her brother’s.

Now, obviously accepting food from

I accepted the goblet.

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST HARRY

Right, so she makes smalltalk wondering where his girlfriend is and continues to show mysterious self-control. I’m assuming the idea here is that it’s all sinister because she’d only be calm if she knew he was going to suffer later, except all previous interactions with her made it very clear she’s got the impulse control of a drunk toddler. In order to have this scene, the author needs to have throttled back the misogyny earlier.

Also, Harry’s excuse for his girlfiend not being their is having to wash her hair. Now, the non-joke version of that excuse stopped applying by the seventies at most, but it came up so often as an excuse that it stayed in as a trope for some time afterward. This book was published in 2001. If Harry is thirty, then he might’ve still been hearing it in sitcoms or something when he was growing up if we either ignore the techbane or assume it doesn’t kick in until you’re officially a wizard.

Which means, weirdly enough, this is one moment when this doesn’t seem to be written by a grounchy ninety year old – they’re the generation who would think this was a legitimate reason, and Harry is being nonstop antagonistic here so he’d only say it if he knew it’d sound like bullshit. Of course, the fact the vampires are of unknown age means they may well be from that earlier era and not get why he’s saying this with that weirdly sarcastic edge because like, yeah, that’s a reasonable answer.

She then assumes the guy with Harry is also somebody he dates and I officially cannot tell who is and isn’t being sarcastic at this point. She’s a sexy uninhibited vampire and I understand they’re contractually mandated to be bisexual, and wizards are powerhouse recluses who seem super unlikely to worry about what average people will say about who they’re dating, so “lol did you know this makes you look gaaaaaaaaaay” seems really pointless. I assume we’re to just understand that being called gay is so inherently an insult that the situation it’s happening in and people involved are irrelevant.

Harry is completely unflustered by this: “What can I say? They’re just so big and strong.” which I think is yet another point against bi Harry. It’s really, really a shame that he didn’t call up Morgan for backup because if my theory is correct he might’ve had more difficulty brushing that off.

“If I was surrounded by people who wanted to kill me as badly as I want to kill you, I’d want a bodyguard about, too.”

And so we drop the whole gay thing because it was always just a meaningless insult. Next Kelly starts hitting on Michael while Harry details precisely how she looks the whole time.

Kelly’s hand touched Michael’s steel-clad arm-and erupted into sudden, white flame, as brief and violent as a stroke of lightning. She screamed, a piercing wail, and fell back from him to the ground. She lay there, curled helplessly around her blackened hand, struggling to get enough breath back to scream. Kyle flew to her side.

I looked at Michael and blinked. “Wow,” I said. “Color me impressed.”

Michael looked vaguely embarrassed. “It happens like that sometimes,” he said, apologetically.

Ah, so close to being decent.

There really do not appear to be any non-torturous deterrents in this world. We’ve now repeatedly seen that, at least in the case of female monsters, anything that harms or repels them does so by searing apart their flesh while they scream in agony. It’s honestly rather fetishistic how strictly we keep to this formula.

In most situations, what’d have happened here is, at most, a stinging shield. She’d have yanked her hand back, maybe gone so far as to hiss and shake it like touching a hot pot handle on a stove, and maybe there’d have been some extra force shoving her hand back at the same moment to emphasize that the point is blocking her from touching him. Because that is supposed to be the point, under normal circumstances.

With that sort of flashy overkill of a shield, you can then go on to have the contrast of the humble paladin who didn’t actually mean for something so dramatic to trigger.

Instead, we have the twin questions of “why does holy power focus on causing agony?” and “why does Michael not even register that someone’s in pain here?”

This all suggests that whatever god Michael follows, it is not the Christian one, or at least not a version compatible with most notions of Christian morality in our world.

And…that’s really not out of the question. There are plenty of stories about cults using churches of an established religion as cover, and a good argument to be made that’s in fact what’s going on with some of the nastier branches of current-day Christianity. And there’s also stories of demons using false miracles to convince people they’re angelic messengers. It would fit with the fact none of Michael’s behavior has mapped well onto existing Christian belief, the way their church either has a single priest or none of the other priests know about Michael, and the fact there doesn’t seem to be any wider network of Christians Michael can go to for aid.

What god is really behind this? Perhaps…

Anyway, once against boy vampire is mad girl vampire got hurt.

“Go ahead, Kyle,” I dared him. “Start something. Break the truce your own leader set up. Violate the laws of hospitality. The White Council will burn this place down so fast, people will call it Little Pompeii.”

Except Harry’s guest just made an unprovoked attack on her.

Even if we assume accidental holysplosions aren’t technically a violation, there would absolutely be a debate on this point first. And honestly…I really can’t see how you could make accidental holysplosions not count. If you can cover yourself in tiny mines because technically the other person is the one triggering it, everyone here would have done so. People would be wearing spikes covered in instakill poison while shaking caltops loose with every step. At absolute most, Michael might not be at fault if we assume he has no control over it – but Harry chose to take a live mine into the party in the first place, and the vampires absolutely hate him so even if it’s a situation that could be judged either way, it should probably be assumed the judgment doesn’t go in his favor.

For this reason, even if we put aside the moral issue, or the fact it’s creepy how women seem to keep going through the same sequence of pain and helplessness, having Michael’s protection be an actually protective flashbang rather than an offensive one would help keep this from being a massive plot hole.

But that would get in the way of the power trip, so instead the two run off and when Harry remembers to check out how this went over with everyone else, naturally, Some of the vampires in scarlet looked at Michael, swallowed, and took a couple of steps back.

I grinned, as cocky and as confident as I could appear, and lifted my glass. “A toast,” I said. “To hospitality.”

And the dumbfuck, in the middle of a vampire party hosted by a vampire who hates him who was just handed food by someone else who hates him, drinks, because it’s not like there aren’t a million ways taking food and drink from malicious magic creatures ever ends badly. Doesn’t just sip, either, he chugs the entire thing, which brings up another issue – there is a super good chance that was spiked with human blood. I mean, of the different options, blood drinking is the least disturbing way to accidentally commit cannibalism, but still, don’t chug mystery red drinks from vampires.

Incidentally, Michael just politely raises the glass to his mouth and then lowers it, because he has goddamn standards, Harry. Stop drinking murdered people’s fluids.

Oh also Harry mentions that Kyle’s aura wasn’t the one they want. Does not bring up Kelly presumably because sexism means she’s too incompetent to do anything like this.

Then chatty sexy vampire comes over to say that by the way, the drinks are poisoned so don’t touch them. Oh, chatty sexy vampire, you are trying way too hard to keep Harry alive! I know the enemy of my enemy is my friend and all, but at a certain point you need to recognize some of those people are actually dead weight and the most they’re good for is tiring out your enemy by being used as a chew toy.

43 Comments

  1. Socordya says:

    This post is two similar versions of the same post back to back.




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  2. Negrek says:
    Unrelated to actual post content, but ah, hell, your NaNoWriMon was one of the ones that didn’t reach its final stage even though it was supposed to?



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    1. Farla says:

      Oh, huh.

       The one I made originally did:

      http://thousandroads.net/fanfic/nanowrimon/serve?user=Farla&id=6652

       but I reentered my data to get the one with a full bar to post last night. I guess that’s what messed it up.

       




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  3. Cosmogone says:
    >>they really are parasitic when it comes to dinner

    I’m sorry for this weird tangent, but imagine how much more interesting the undead would be if, instead of regurgitating the same nonesensical clichés, creators added a couple of elements from real-life parasites. The only work I’m aware of that does this is The Last of Us, but there are so much more, like Cymothoa exigua, Toxoplasmosa gondii, Sacculina, ect. At the very least, a genital-eating barnacle wouldn’t have such shitty taste in clothing.

    >>whatever god Michael follows, it is not the Christian one

    This is pretty in vein with the Old Testament, so Orthodox Christianity or whatever the hell is going on in the Bible Belt. At least this would work with the idea that Dresdenverse paladins’ source of magic isn’t a god, but their own beliefs. Or, this is Butcher running on DnD logic again and I’m overthinking it.

    As a side note, I horrifyingly find myself looking forward to moments when these books are enraging and offensive, because otherwise they’re just mind-numbingly boring. How do you even manage to actually stay focus on what’s happening?




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    1. illhousen says:

      This is pretty in vein with the Old Testament

      It is pretty consistent with Left Behind theology: Michael gets to be virtous and humble as he righteously mingle with evil while doing nothing because God is going to personally smite the sinners.

      Orthodox Christianity

      Nah, it doesn’t have a particular emphasis on smiting, actually, it’s more about profits as far as I can tell (granted, I’m observing from the periphery. I get sick in churches, so I didn’t get much of an exposure even back when I was a kid and my grandmother tried to get me interested in it, and since then I don’t look into such matters beyond whatever’s on the news or people talk about).

      How do you even manage to actually stay focus on what’s happening?

      By imagining what could have happened in a better book. Mostly Harry dying.




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      1. Socordya says:

        it’s more about profits as far as I can tell

         

        Wikipedia tells me the patriarch of Moscow (who is somehow named after a DBZ character) made billions trading cigarettes. Good thing Jesus threw the merchants out of the temple.

        I get sick in churches

        You might want to get that checked out, I am told it’s one of the primary symptoms of demonic possesion. How far can you twist your neck?




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        1. illhousen says:

          Yep, the tobacco thing is something that happened. Sure good to be extempt from taxes, especially at a time when cigarette prices were artificially bloated.

          You might want to get that checked out, I am told it’s one of the primary symptoms of demonic possesion.

          Nah, the thing here is that a big feature of Orthodox churches is the lack of pews. You’re supposed to stand throughout the service, which is long. And churches tend to be crowded and hot as hell, and it burnsss usss, which is obviously not a good combination.




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        2. illhousen says:

          Also, a typical Orthodox church:




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      2. Cosmogone says:
        >>It is pretty consistent with Left Behind theology

        I thought it was intimately familiar, though my guess was more along the lines of asshole tabletop players Farla brought up earlier.

        >>it’s more about profits as far as I can tell

        Eh, I think it varies greatly depending on the region. Maybe Russia is more about money and Ukraine is all about accusing children of demonic possession.

        >>By imagining what could have happened in a better book. Mostly Harry dying.

        Yeah, but that’s exactly what keeps destracting me from the text.)




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        1. illhousen says:

          Eh, I think it varies greatly depending on the region. Maybe Russia is more about money and Ukraine is all about accusing children of demonic possession.

          A fair point. I don’t know much about the Ukraine church, and there are definitely differences within the overall doctrine. Even if the Russian church as an organization is more about profits than some specific religious agenda, individual priests is another matter.

          Yeah, but that’s exactly what keeps destracting me from the text.)

          The text provide new ways for Harry to die every other page, though. That is something that may keep you reading.




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          1. Cosmogone says:
            >The text provide new ways for Harry to die every other page, though. That is something that may keep you reading.

            Huh, that’s a productive way to see it.Thanks, mate!




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      3. Farla says:

        It is pretty consistent with Left Behind theology

        Now now, there’s no need to be mean here. Michael didn’t start laughing like a hyena while explaining that the vampire deserved the agony for being a slut, and so far the only people torturing animals for the lulz are the bad guys.




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        1. illhousen says:

          Well, he’s only introduced in this book, give him time. Once Molly becomes a prominent character…




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    2. Keltena says:

      I’m sorry for this weird tangent, but imagine how much more interesting the undead would be if, instead of regurgitating the same nonesensical clichés, creators added a couple of elements from real-life parasites.

      Dropping in out-of-context from the new comments bar here, but the first thing that comes to my mind is Peeps by Scott Westerfeld, which is pretty much entirely about vampires as parasites. Or rather, vampirism as a parasite which gave rise to most of the popular vampire mythology. The biting and ~sexy vampire~ promiscuity are how the parasite spreads, and one of the other primary symptoms is that infected individuals develop an intense, instinctual aversion to anything that previously felt familiar or safe, as a way of getting them to move and spread the parasite further. Which in most cases includes sunlight, one’s own reflection, and, in predominantly Christian cultures, religious symbols like crosses.

      I read it years ago and can’t remember the actual plot or characters at all, so those evidently didn’t make an impression, but the vampire lore stuck with me.




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      1. Cosmogone says:
        Huh, this sounds pretty interesting, thank you. And Wikipedia mentions somethiing about “mysterious forces from under the earth that are waking up after centuries of slumber”, so I’m intrigued.



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        1. Keltena says:

          Let me know what you think! It’s been ages since I read it, so I’d be curious to hear how it holds up.




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    3. Farla says:

      How do you even manage to actually stay focus on what’s happening?

      That sweet unintentional worldbuilding! What sort of society would vampires actually have? What sort of way should a paladin behave? 




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  4. Xander77 says:
    Unless historical vampires were exclusively putting the bite on malnourished farmers / industrial workers, height differences shouldn’t be meaningful.

    Hell, since vampires at least play up the whole “aristocrats by blood” (heh) angle, they should be slightly taller than average even in modern day.




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    1. illhousen says:

      It is actually interesting to think about vampire class demographic.

      The issue with embracing aristocrats and other influential people is that they’re way too visible. Even if we’re talking about Gray Cardinal type of figures who rule from shadows already, a lot of people would notice them suddenly stopping going out during the day, shunning food and seemingly not aging at all.

      It is not to say that high and mightly are unatrractive for politically-minded vampires, but they probably require a delicate touch. I imagine vampire mystery cults with the inner circle of vampires and the outer circle of mortals bound at this point primary by political and business considerations rather than dogma. As they move up in ranks and are initiated into deeper mysteries, they learn about the supernatural (tested at each step to check if they would turn against their masters because such people can potentially be trouble), with the last mystery being the embrace itself, at which point the new vampire “tragically dies” as far as the outsiders are concerned.

      This is a very slow process, however, so if you want to boost your numbers in preparation for some conflict, you’re better off looking at marginalized elements of society, people nobody would miss to whom you can afford a better life compared to their lot. Criminals, oppressed groups, homeless people… I imagine they would be the bulk of vampire numbers simply because they’re easier to conceal in the shadows and easier to recruit in the first place in such a way that they won’t inevitably betray you.

      So, we may well have two distinct castes of vampires that you can roughly tell apart by height, especially if the attrition among the mystery cult vampires is low enough that they just stick around instead of sensibly dying off.




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      1. Xander77 says:
        There are aristocrats and there are aristocrats. There are always plenty of expendable aristos around (even now, when flashing an inherited title does nothing but enchance your allure make you look like a git). Back in the day – you’d have dozens of third sons, distant cousins – all sorts of castoffs that had proper education and upbringing, but absolutely no wealth, meaningful prospects or anything to lose. Perfect vampire fodder. (And that’s one obvious way for an individual vampire / vampire clan to gain wealth and power. Turn a minor relative, then spend a decade or two arranging accidents for the other family members)

        As for recruiting enforcers and bodyguards – that what ghouls or charmed humans are for. Which makes sense regardless of how much of a connection a specific setting has between sire and new vampire – you don’t create competition for resources frivilously.




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    2. Farla says:

      Nah, even the wealthy back in the day were tiny. That’s why you’ve got all those deaths in childbirth by noble ladies, their hips were too narrow. Even those who could afford to eat food were eating terrible food (sometimes they bought extra terrible food so they were actually smaller than the peasants, the idiots) and when they weren’t getting sick from that they were getting sick from close proximity with others, and then every now and then you had a famine that killed off the few people who managed to get big anyway, leaving their tinier relatives to repopulate. You’d have to move away from civilized areas to places with low population density to find big people, and once you’ve got civilized areas they tend to take over the good land and pretty soon the low population density areas are full of famine too.

      The only way for vampires to be tall is if there’s very low turnover among vampires and they like to make new vampires who are about the same size, but the fact Bianca is tiny contradicts that. In such a case, either vampires are constantly shrinking or vampires like Bianca are totally okay getting loomed over all day long, and the first one not only makes more sense but is way funnier.




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      1. SpoonyViking says:

        There have been archaeological findings in the last decade which suggest ancient and medieval people were nearly as tall as modern man. There was a period when the average height dropped, but it was sometime from the Early Modern Period to sometime after the Industrial Revolution.

        By the way, do we know what is the average age of an elder vampire in the Dresdenverse?




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        1. Farla says:

          You mean like this?

          That’s a thousand years ago, though, and most vampires seem to top out at a couple hundred years old. And a thousand years ago in Europe was good times – keep going back toward when the Roman empire was dying and people should shrink down again. Like, let’s say in accordance to one tradition, vampires start at Jesus, two thousand years ago. They’re soon surrounded by a collapsing empire and food riots. People are tiny. Then later people get bigger, but they’re tiny, so fuck those towering giants they’re gonna make people they can look down upon as servants. (And it’s not like they could head east to healthier established cultures for tall people, because long city living had already shrunk those guys down.)

          Flash forward to modern day and vampire are basically hobbits.




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  5. illhousen says:

    What god is really behind this? Perhaps…

    ALL HAIL THE BURNING HATE!

    I actually don’t know how I feel about Harry drinking Kool-Aid here. On the one hand, it’s a direct consequence of his arrogance and cockiness, and presumably would at least cause him mild inconvenience now, so it’s a case of a genuine flaw biting him in the ass finally.

    On the other hand, it’s moronic and, honestly, even Harry as written should be better than that.

    Did his feelings atrophy to the point that getting suicidally addicted to vampires became attractive because it means feeling something? I guess that would explain his earlier musings about how it wouldn’t be so bad.




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    1. Roarke says:

      Yeah, Harry accepting the food here was such an obvious dumbass move that it feels OOC even for Harry. Hundreds and hundreds of stories about not accepting food from supernatural entities exist, and it’s not like Harry’s ever gone “Unlike the movies, you should definitely eat the brownies that vampire baked.”

      Did his feelings atrophy to the point that getting suicidally addicted to vampires became attractive because it means feeling something?

      It’s possible that you could swing a Sherlock Holmes type of deal into it, where Harry is constantly doping up or getting high in his downtime because it’s the only way to force his body to feel emotions for hours at a time.

      Maybe by now Harry’s built up a huge tolerance for mundane drugs, but can’t kill himself with them due to wizard biology. That’d also go a long way toward explaining why he’s constantly poor: he’s a junkie. So now he finds a relatively benign (if he could control the addiction) substance that feels great and is supernatural, so it’s possible he’d never build up a tolerance for it.




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      1. illhousen says:

        To be honest, I think we need more junkie wizards in general:

        “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

        You know when you’re high you can see for miles. The longest journey begins with a single trip. If your mind is your altar then you better alter your mind.

        People have been chasing alchemy for most of the last millennium. Some think it’s a magickal art that turns lead into gold. Others think it’s just a precursor to chemistry. Still others think all the potions and bottles were a side effect to the transformation of self, rising above the base matter of
        one’s body into a more perfect and sublime form.

        You know all this.

        For much of the last century, a bunch of other people have been chasing psychobiology and psychopharmacology. They think just about every mental illness, disorder, or discomfort known to humanity comes from imbalances
        in brain chemicals. By tinkering with serotonin uptake, they can purify the emotions of a patient or – potentially – improve memory and cognition.

        This, too, you know.

        Finally, for all of human history there have been those that pursued the practice more than the theory. They harvested coca leaves or poppies or hemp and used it to get high, talk to spirits, or improve their mind in some fashion. Their modern counterparts can explain how much better the world works for you with a noseful of cocaine. And if you join them for a
        line, their explanation even makes sense.

        You’ve joined. It makes sense. It’s all old hat to you.

        Because you’re something different.

        You stand at the intersection of these three groups. You’ve given hoary alchemy a nitrous boost from the latest science and hooked it up with the rawboned know-how of street culture and drug ritual.

        Now you’re a street drug in human form: powerful, innovative, confusing, and dangerous.

        You learned to change yourself, to make your body a chemical crucible, altering its ebb and flow with dope and blow. But transforming yourself is only the first step to transforming others, refining them into a higher state or corroding them down into dross.

        The central paradox of Narco-Alchemy is that in becoming a superior spirit you’re becoming an inferior human. You’re a transcendence addict, and your jones for transformation is just as desperate and crippling as any other
        unstoppable need. You master the drugs that master you, mastering yourself by becoming a slave to powders, drams, and vials. It’s a vicious circle, a self-speeding psycho cycle, and you can only hope to become something higher before you’re six feet under.

        Maybe when you’re perfect, you’ll become free again.”




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        1. Farla says:

          You master the drugs that master you, mastering yourself by becoming a slave to powders, drams, and vials. It’s a vicious circle, a self-speeding psycho cycle, and you can only hope to become something higher before you’re six feet under.

          Oh, what’s also cool about this is it introduces better time limits. Such a wizard needs a solid base of operations, they need to time their outings around the peaks and get back before they crash, they never have spare money stored up for a bad day because every cent of it gets spent on making spare drugs stored up against a bad day…

          And maybe this isn’t exactly new – maybe traditional wizards were limited to the wealthy aristocracy, who burned up their money getting as far down the path as they could and then burned up themselves. It’d fit with how stories talk about the nobles dabbling in black arts, then seeming unable to stop doing more and more involved rituals, needing more and more resources, getting more and more obvious about it until they die mysteriously or the locals storm the castle.

          But hey, now we know more and we know better and you can buy blood from the hospital without having to slice anybody’s throats, so the fact literally every person throughout history who tried this failed doesn’t mean you’ll fail too! Just a little farther…




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          1. illhousen says:

            Unknown Armies in general is great at creating those cycles where you do crazy things for power and then use power to deal with the consequences of crazy things you’ve done, which means you need more power, etc.

            And while it’s deeply postmodernist in its approach to magic, the basic ideas are actually applicable to fantasy in general, while the flavor can be changed. I mean, we’ve already seen an Enthropomancer in Umineko that was more dignified than usual for bodybags, with Western-inspired craft.




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      2. Farla says:

        where Harry is constantly doping up or getting high in his downtime because it’s the only way to force his body to feel emotions for hours at a time.

        What if it’s not just his downtime? If emotions fuel spells, Harry’s stronger while he’s high. We might even be able to make sense of Harry’s behavior if we assume the narrative just doesn’t mention it when he swallows mundane pills and then washes it down with some mundane vodka. Maybe that’s why sometimes he energetically won’t stop pursuing something no matter how bad an idea it is and sometimes he just sits down and doesn’t even try and sometimes he bounces around between a whole bunch of things without accomplishing anything on any one of them.

        This could also explain why Shadowpants went right for magic drugdealing, drug use is a natural path for magic users to go down to buff their own abilities.




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        1. Roarke says:

          Honestly, I love that every other new headcanon/worldbuilding makes Victor von OneWizardIndustrialRevolution an even better wizard who truly deserves main character status.

          Being a junkie would also help explain/improve Harry’s interpersonal conflicts. You could replace the misogyny as the reason that Harry’s relationship to Murphy broke down. She could be the first person to call out the narration’s tendency (rather, Harry’s own tendency) to gloss over the drug use.

          It’d also explain the police force’s continued skepticism of Harry long past the time he’d proved his magic worked. Harry might have skills nobody else does, but he’s also tripping every red flag and setting off every instinct to put him in jail where he can’t be a danger to himself/others.  Though it keeps Charity in harpy housewife territory, keeping your husband/kids away from an obvious junkie is actually sound logic.

          Generally, Harry’s massive persecution complex would feel a bit better (not MUCH better, but a bit) if half the flak he took from others was a result of this choice he had to make that seems to have no simple analogue in society.

          Things like getting drunk and taking drugs have historically figured deeply into magical doings and the like. I’m actually surprised more folks aren’t picking it up.




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        2. illhousen says:

          Honestly, doing drugs just makes sense for reckless wizards even without our emergent worldbuilding. You do drugs to fuel your emotions that fuel your magic, allowing you to make more powerful drugs, etc., and so long as you can ride this wave, you’re on top of the world.

          Of course, sooner or later you crush and burn, but who has the time to think about long-term consequences?




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          1. Roarke says:

            That’s literally the Enchantment/Alchemy cycle in Skyrim. Make potions to boost your Enchantment, so you can enchant stronger Alchemy-improving gear, which you then use to make even better Enchantment potions. Then of course you expand the cycle to make all of your other skills and magics more powerful.

            Wizard biology could even be the end result of all the drug-taking and not actually an inborn mutation in humanity. Being a wizard could have less to do with how much power you’re born with and more how your body coped with all the juice you had to soak it in to obtain that power. Since that power leaves wizards in a precarious state, physically and mentally, of course they end up with a governing body that is only interested in policing wizards themselves and not letting the wider world know about them.




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            1. illhousen says:

              So, basically, White (Powder) Council is a drug cartel combined with rehab. Makes sense. Obviously, they dislike vampires because vampires are competition (and also seem to produce downers when magic works better with uppers).




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            2. Roarke says:

              Well, the White Powder Council doesn’t seem interested in wider distribution, so it’s harder to call them a cartel. Every supplier in the cartel really only sells to himself and seems to be jealously competing with the others in making stronger drugs.

              On the rehab side, they’re obviously not trying to get the wizards clean. Maybe asylum is more apt? It kind of recognizes the fact that wizards are never going to be clean and its sole purpose is to separate them from everyone else.

              Now the vampire competition angle, that seems like it could bear fruit. Maybe in the past creatures like vampires, fae, or demons found it laughably easy to corrupt/enslave wizards. Wizards who survived formed the White Powder Council as deterrent such that, even though they’re highly dysfunctional as a group, outsiders see a unified force of strung-out psychopaths slinging fireballs and stay away.




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              Reply
            3. illhousen says:

              Current leader of the White Powder Council:




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    2. Farla says:

      On the one hand, it’s a direct consequence of his arrogance and cockiness, and presumably would at least cause him mild inconvenience now, so it’s a case of a genuine flaw biting him in the ass finally.

      The problem with that is he spends the entire goddamn chapter telling us he’s terrified and on edge and completely outmatched and expecting the worst and keeping his eye out for any attack. If he’d merely flounced into the place secure in the knowledge nobody could harm him while he was a guest…well, it’s still moronic, but at least it’d be visibly a flaw instead of Harry just doing a thing for no reason.

      Did his feelings atrophy to the point that getting suicidally addicted to vampires became attractive because it means feeling something? I guess that would explain his earlier musings about how it wouldn’t be so bad.

      That’s a thought. He’s not just directly addicted to the spit’s pleasant properties, he’s enticed by the fact it does anything at all. Maybe he’s getting to the point where even getting ripped apart by vampires is tempting. It wouldn’t be so bad to die to them as opposed to burning his last three feelings futilely struggling against a superghost.




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      1. Roarke says:

        Maybe he’s getting to the point where even getting ripped apart by vampires is tempting. It wouldn’t be so bad to die to them as opposed to burning his last three feelings futilely struggling against a superghost.

        Heck, maybe all that is why Harry keeps baiting supernatural creatures/wizards/mob bosses in general. No matter how badly he burns himself out, his body still clings to a lingering self-preservation that he can always fall back on by putting himself in convincing mortal danger. No matter what state he’s in, it’ll always give a reliable burst of clean fear. Like a half-suicidal adrenaline junkie.

        His dumbass soulgaze with Marcone ended up giving him a deep-seated fear of fridges. Baiting Bianca into a fight the first time put him a hair’s breadth from death. Taunting Victor Sells. Taunting soulwolves/beltwolves/cursewolves/Tera. Existing within three-and-a-half feet of Morgan. It’s all different-sized doses of the same drug.




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  6. Act says:

    I think it only reinforces my supposition he’s not into guys, though, because he’s generally such a creep to people he wants to fuck.

    I dunno, the whole casual descriptions of Thomas’ muscles and perfect poise coupled with the over-the-top cartoon-villain sexism of the descriptions of women screams ‘overcompensation’ to me. He sounds like he really, really doesn’t want to be attracted to men  but he is so just goes WOMEN AM I RITE SO SEX BANGABLE while eyefucking the dudes.




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    1. Farla says:

      Eh, he’s not getting Harry’s loving descriptions of his tiger soul or wind-ruffled hair. Thomas seems to be objectively hot but Harry’s just not lingering on that fact properly. Also, he’s not baiting the guy into threatening him, which seems to be his preferred form of flirting.




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  7. depizan says:
    I think a better author could pull off a really arrogant and foolish character drinking something they (generally) know better than to drink and have it seem like a plausible mess-up rather than that the character is just too stupid to live. Granted, I don’t think I’ve seen that done outside of comedy, which makes it a really weird trope for Butcher to even be going for here.

    I mean, I know the books have elements of humor, but this really doesn’t seem like the time and place for it. Then again, that’s a problem with Dresden’s discount vampire get up, too – it makes both the author and the character look like they’re not taking the plot seriously. Which makes them both look like jackasses. And not about the vampires.

    Like, his friend’s wife is in the hospital, there’s a (completely forgotten about!) teenage girl out there who’s probably getting murdered right now, and some kind of ghost demon thing on the loose…and Harry Dresden stopped at the local party store so he could blow raspberries at vampires? Wow. I think there are supervillains from other works who’d take him to task for his utter lack of caring.

    And then there’s Michael’s shield and I just… you know, I hope the vampires eat them. Then maybe some actual hero can appear and save the teenager and do something about the demon ghost.

     

     




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    1. Farla says:

      I think a better author could pull off a really arrogant and foolish character drinking something they (generally) know better than to drink and have it seem like a plausible mess-up rather than that the character is just too stupid to live. Granted, I don’t think I’ve seen that done outside of comedy, which makes it a really weird trope for Butcher to even be going for here.

      I was actually pondering the possibility of it being an accident. I could see someone going on autopilot for a moment because they’ve got a glass of wine in their hand and normally they drink from glasses they have in their hands. There’s been times I’m distracted while holding a cup and start to lift it before remembering I’m transporting fish food.

      The problem is he should really have remembered by the time it was in his mouth that this was a bad idea rather than someone else explaining that, and they’re surprised too, the vampire wine given to him by vampires who hate him is compromised.




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      1. depizan says:
        He’s…surprised???

        Okay, not only is this unsalvagable, he really is too stupid to live.

        This whole bit just seems to be made of WTF. But then, one of the problems with the Dresden Files – from the very beginning – was Butcher wanting to have things that were mutually exclusive of one another. Which has resulted in really incoherent world building and a main character who has pocket lint where his brain should be. (Among other problems.) We began with Dresden advertising as a wizard in the phone book, despite there being a masquerade, and being pissy that people don’t think he’s real, despite there being a masquerade, and somehow not getting killed over this, despite…well, you get the idea. And it’s just all been downhill from there.




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        1. illhousen says:

          and somehow not getting killed over this, despite…well, you get the idea.

          I don’t know about that. Harry consistently fails to prove the existence of magic to other people despite having, like, a dozen obvious ways to do so, and even people who already believe in magic and hire him (like that guy who wanted an exorcism) are disappointed and think he’s a fraud, so it may very well be that Harry is actually contributing to protecting the masquerade by calling himself a wizard openly.




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