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A note from a_man_in_black

A quick jump back to Stormbreak Isle to keep us up to date with Constable Zizzy the Good Succubus and her investigation into The Defiler. Next up after this we'll be back with Morgan again in The Wildlands, after a brief time-skip so we can check out some of her new skills and her storage belt rune tattoo.

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On any other day, in any other circumstance, Zizzy would have been overjoyed to be flying across the entirety of Stormbreak Isle. Chances for her to stretch her wings were few and far between, usually limited to training exercises with other teams of Wardens and her coveted free days that were, by the terms of the accord she struck with the city, afforded to her merely twice a year.

 

This was not one of those enjoyable days. Training exercises were varied in their purpose, but always satisfying and goal-oriented. Her free days were less structured, but still restricted in where she was allowed to fly. But today she had a mission. A mission sanctioned by the [Oracle] herself; this fact, hanging over her, made Zizzy as nervous as she was excited.

 

The [Oracle] rarely intervened in worldly affairs on her own initiative; usually, petitions on behalf of or bargains between nations were required to drag her into things. The fact that she had sent a missive in just such a way was a grim reminder of the potential disaster looming over the island. With such implications weighing on her like a funeral pall, and with explicit permission to top up her own reserves of power, Zizzy flitted southwards along the eastern coast of the island. She had an important stop to make before she could even attempt the two-day flight to Southpeak Village.

 

Roughly an hour by flight south of Stormbreak City, a massive block of grey and black stone jutted out of the sea just off the coast. Officially known as Stormbreak Prison, it was known to the locals by a name as mysterious as it was fitting: the Pillar. No bridge connected the facility to the rest of the island; instead, a broad platform butted up against the cliff facing the isolated tower of stone. The platform was ringed halfway around with one half of a levitation array, and its mate was inscribed on a balcony jutting from the side of the prison.

 

Zizzy swooped down towards the platform on the edge of the island cliffs, wary of the Pillar’s enchanted defenses. The passive wards made flight impossible, turning the ocean winds into vicious downdrafts that would smash any potentially flight-capable escapees straight down onto the jagged rocks that encircled the prison just above the water-line. What prevented escape also prevented entrance, and the only way in or out of the imposing structure was the floating platform.

 

With no small measure of satisfaction she banked sharply into a quick turn to halt her forward flight, a double beat of her wings in quick succession kicking up swirls of dust in front of the guard station next to the ferry platform. Not even the urgency of her mission could totally dampen her pleasure at being given a reason to fly. Her boots touched the ground with a soft crunch of gravel, and she took a moment to straighten her uniform while she waited for the dust to settle.

 

Even this far out, and isolated from the rumor mills present in more central cities, news of the [Mage-Eater] had managed to travel. A very tiny settlement had grown around the small clump of guard buildings and barracks. Normally it was lively, but today it lacked the normal hustle and bustle of the families brought in by Wardens serving their year long posting for guard duty. Zizzy’s demonic nature was completely unshackled after her exertion from the flight, and she could taste the nervous fear and wariness in the air all around her.

 

The ambient fear was not enough to abate her own arousal and hunger, however. A succubus had to feed to survive, and her feedings were always fatal to the unfortunate ones who became her meals. Word of her impending arrival, and the purpose thereof, must have been sent ahead by the Lord-Commander via expensive communication spells, because most of the men had cleared the area around the local Warden Captain’s office, save those who had enough mental resistances to endure the full expression of her own sensual aura.

 

“So it’s true then, Constable?” asked the young guardswoman standing outside the Captain’s door after a nervous salute, the slight quaver in her arm replicated in her voice. “We’ve heard all the rumors, but if they’re sending you here, then he must be as dangerous as the last supply caravan people were claiming…”

 

Even with wings I can’t outrun rumor! The thought was grim in the back of Zizzy’s mind. The ferry platform operators were charging up the the crystals to prepare for the unscheduled crossing, so she couldn’t avoid the necessity of speaking to the young woman.

 

“He is dangerous, of course. But we know how to deal with people of his class,” Zizzy replied soothingly. “Stay paired up with fighters or brawlers, don’t leave our mages alone for any reason whatsoever, and swap out your gear for stuns and riot suppression instead of mana-based focus items.”

 

“But why riot gear? Isn’t that for huge crowds?” asked the other woman as the door to the office opened to reveal the grizzled Captain.

 

The Captain’s voice broke in suddenly. “Because riot gear is loud, and guaranteed to get everyone’s attention. The Constable has the right of it,” His voice was gruff, and somewhat strained from the proximity of Zizzy’s aura, but he spoke with the calm experience of a life-long professional about his trade. With a very rare specialization in physical combat, the [Steel-Whip Sentinel] was one of the few class types who had little to fear from an anti-mage. “Classes like the [Mage-Eater] can’t tank a straight fight, Lieutenant, not unless they live long enough to reach higher levels and more powerful specializations. Which is why he needs to be stopped now, before his Worldwalker traits let him out-pace us.”

 

Zizzy nodded at the young woman as the trio walked down the cobbled street to the ferry platform. “On the off chance that you do encounter him, get loud, get flashy, get as much attention as you can and try to get away from him.” She regarded the junior guardswoman soberly. “Flash grenades, bright-sticks, sticky-balls, shock-nets. Don’t hold back, but keep your magic skills on lockdown. Attack with a single spell of your own, and he’ll turn it right back at you, but even stronger.”

 

“Aye,” continued the Captain as they waited for the crystals to charge the platform enchantment. “We haven’t had to deal with one in...what...thirty years or so, Constable?”

 

“Twenty-nine years and some months, Captain, but there were three of them,” Zizzy replied meticulously. “Mercenary spies, though; not true anti-magic classes, merely trained in similar skills. They all three managed to suicide before I could take them. Likely a Deskren geas --” the succubus almost spat the phrase -- “although we couldn’t prove it at the time.”

 

The younger Guard tentatively made to back away as the low hum of the charging platform reached a steady keen, but the Captain stopped her with a gesture. “I know it’s your first posting here at the Pillar, Lieutenant, but you were going to have to make this trip soon anyway. You’ll be rotating weekly between the shore and the prison for your entire tour of duty here, and now is as good a time as any to give you the tour of your new part-time home. I’ll see to that while the Constable attends to her...business.”

 

Zizzy’s aura pulsed with an intensity that beggared even the veteran Captain’s composure, and the Lieutenant struggled and failed to keep a blush from coloring her cheeks before the succubus wrangled her inner self back under control. “You are new, Lieutenant. You’ll be seeing me every month when things are running normally. Though, usually I come here with the regular supply run, so my aura is not this pronounced. Today is by no means regular.”

 

“Lieutenant Kanessa here is a [Dreamsinger],” the Captain spoke up, saving the young woman from what would have been a stuttering attempt to respond. “Bardic types tend to be more sensitive than most to empathic auras like yours, and being around you is good training for what she needs to look out for to protect her mind on duty. Sometimes our tenants can get rowdy, so a strong bard or singer for calming a mob or riot comes in handy.”

 

The trio stepped onto the platform once the sigils lit up to indicate the levitation array was ready. As they came within range of a small, glowing crest set into a simple pedestal in the center of the ferry, the captain’s badge began to glow in concert. As the safety rail closed around the edges, Zizzy cleared her throat and spoke up once again to get the awkward part of the conversation over with.

 

“Any volunteers from the condemned to go early, Captain?”

 

Lieutenant Kanessa made a choking sound, the blood draining from her face.

 

“As a matter of fact, yes. A new arrival since your last visit has requested the Kiss of Mercy,” replied the older man with a solemn tone. He continued speaking, giving Kanessa a moment to compose herself while Zizzy’s attention was on the Captain. “The young woman who burned down her husband’s shop when she caught him cheating. Girl admitted to it after she found out the collapsing wall killed a child. She’s tried to hang herself twice already.”

 

Zizzy winced at the news. “The truly penitent ones are always the hardest, sir, even though they don’t try to fight it.”

 

The captain’s gaze slid to the side. “The other two we have on the list might be more to your liking, then; a thief who turned to cutting throats instead of just purses, and a verified pirate who had the misfortune of being recognized by some local tavern patrons who saw his wanted poster. He’s regretting his choice of drinking establishments now.”

 

“Southpeak is two days away by wing, and more killings will happen before I can get there,” the succubus stated flatly. “Were these any other circumstances, I would give the woman a few months to reconsider, but I’ll need all three if I’m to fly through the night without stopping to rest.”

 

The Lieutenant finally worked up the nerve to speak, blurting out a question that had been on her mind since the Constable arrived. “How will you fight the [Mage-Eater], Constable Zizzy? Can’t he turn your magics against you too?”

 

Zizzy’s response was a throaty chuckle, laced with such lethal promise that the junior officer unconsciously retreated a pace. “I hope he does, Lieutenant. Truly. All of my succubus magics are fueled by lust and demonic hunger.” The Constable shivered for a moment, struggling with her predatory nature. “He may be able to match me in direct combat; there’s no way to know unless someone manages to live to tell about it. But all he will accomplish if he throws my magics back is to make me even stronger, and his own hungers will feed mine as well.”

 

The Lieutenant stared at the succubus for a long moment, deep in thought. “Everyone knows about the Good Succubus of Stormbreak, Ma’am. You’re very... “ The woman struggled to find words. “Different than I thought you would be. Nicer in some ways than I thought...not as nice in others.”

 

“Good is not always nice,” said the Captain with a gravelly chuckle. “Zizzy has done good work for decades, but she needs to eat just like the rest of us. She’s not once fed upon the innocent since she arrived in Stormbreak, so allowing her to act as executioner solves two problems at the same time. She gets to feed, and nobody else has to burden their conscience.”

 

As the platform passed the halfway point between the Island and the Pillar, it carried its passengers into the aegis of the Pillar’s protective wards. The security enchantments began audibly humming, filling the space with sound. The captain’s badge and the pedestal glowed brighter still; then, both glow and noise died as the wards accepted the arrivals. Once they were through, the air was calm enough to resume their previous discussion.

 

“So it’s true then, the stories about how you were summoned?”

 

The Captain and the Constable chuckled, sharing a glance before Zizzy responded. “Absolutely true, though incomplete. I was summoned by an unusually young student at the old Stormbreak Academy, but instead of taking me to bed or selling me amongst his friends, he merely asked me hundreds of questions about demonium runes. The boy never even looked at me, naked and kneeling in his room. I never even got his name before he cast me out with orders to stay out of his sight.”

 

“Might as well tell her the rest of it, Constable,” gruffed the Captain as he turned to look at Kanessa. “Her other orders were simple and had no loopholes for a young demoness to exploit. Merely to never feed on the innocent, and to be useful to the city.”

 

The succubus nodded as the Captain spoke, then continued herself. “I nearly starved the first few years. I didn’t know what to do. A summoned familiar literally cannot disobey their summoner. I didn't even have enough leeway to go back and beg for an explanation. They caught me after I had chased down a murderer I witnessed committing his crime.”

 

“The reports from the Wardens of the time were quite detailed,” said the Captain. “They’d been tracking him for weeks, but he was always two steps ahead and could hide his mana traces. Zizzy, however,” he said with a nod at the Constable, “did not know how to do that back then. So they followed her demonic energy trail from the last victim, and found her in the middle of feeding.”

 

The younger guardswoman goggled at the story, more detailed than the publicly known tales and rumors, albeit less fanciful. “And you never found out who summoned you? Even after more than eighty years?”

 

“No clues whatsoever,” admitted Zizzy. “And the Wardens tried. By the time they caught me there was no trace of anyone matching his description at any of magic academies, and no-one has come forward to admit performing a restricted ritual in the middle of the city. I know he’s still alive through the link we share, but that’s all I know.”

 

“You know the rest,” said the grizzled [Sentinel]. “The city petitioned the [Oracle] to find out who the summoner was, but the request was denied and a suggestion sent back to the Wardens that they might benefit from recruiting someone like Zizzy.” The emphasis he placed on the word implied it was more than mere advice. “And now she’s the longest serving Warden in the history of Stormbreak.”

 

By the time the Captain finished speaking, the floating platform had crossed the distance to the Pillar. It came to a stop with a smooth whisper as it slid into its berth on the stone ledge that led into the side of the imposing prison structure. They did not immediately step off the platform, however, as the entrance was guarded by three massive [Obsidian Gatekeeper] golems.

 

All three golems had turned to face the platform as it approached, and the Captain and Constable Zizzy approached the central golem, badges held ahead of them. Like its brothers, it stood nearly two meters tall, imposing and blocky, rough-hewn from the same rock from which it took its class name. Its head was a smooth plate, vaguely reminiscent of a person’s, and its entire surface was occupied by a smooth crystal oculus. Zizzy stepped down first, holding her badge out as she waited a few heartbeats for the red stone eye of the golems to shift to blue.

 

“Right, Lieutenant, we can get this out of the way as well,” said the Captain as he presented his own badge, gesturing for the now very nervous guardswoman to approach. Turning back to the golem, his tone became terse and clipped.

 

“Command authorization: Danram Krev, Captain. Register new Warden identification.”

 

The central golem’s blue eye flickered, and a moment of silence hung in the air as it processed its new command.

 

Command authorization confirmed. Ready to register new Stormbreak Prison warden. Present badge and state name and rank.” Its voice held a distinctly mechanical edge, and was as slow and ponderous as its owner.

 

The rookie Warden help up her badge, emulating the Constable and the Captain carefully.

 

“Kanessa Merron, Lieutenant.” she stated clearly and with a touch of pride.

 

Identification registered. Life essence and Mana Signature recorded. You are now known to Stormbreak Prison, Lieutenant. Do not lose your identification. Loss of identification will result in detention until a superior arrives.

 

With all the visitors now accounted for and identified, the golems retreated to the wall farthest away from the ferry platform and backed into their carved nooks in the stone to clear the way. The Captain assumed a kindly teacher-like tone as he continued explaining things to the Lieutenant.

 

“Postings here at the Pillar are for one year, Lieutenant Kanessa, as you already know. We have three shifts that rotate in and out of the prison itself, staggered so a third of the guards swap out every week. The ferry platform is only active one day a week barring situations like today when the Lord-Commander overrides protocol for emergencies.”

 

The younger woman paid rapt attention while the trio walked. “Will I be allowed to sing without causing trouble, sir?” she asked cautiously, as timid as any rookie and not yet sure of herself. “I’ve levelled some from combat training, but my Songs give me the most benefit to levels.”

 

“It’s encouraged, actually,” Zizzy broke in. “There’s very little entertainment here, for guards and inmates both. Don’t think you have to wait for a riot to break out to sing calming songs.”

 

Danram gave a nod in the affirmative. “As long as you don’t have other duties, there are several places along the Walk where you can sing. The Walk circles above the central yard that’s hollowed out a few floors deep in the top of the facility. Don’t be surprised if the inmates sing along with you sometimes.”

 

As they made their way deeper into the prison, more people began to appear in various uniforms noting their role or station. A pair of scribes stepped to the side of the passageway after recognizing the Captain and the Constable, nodding respectfully as the three Wardens passed by.

 

“There’s a hospital wing, and a chapel for any staff that are so inclined. You’ll get your own room here, and the kitchens serve three times a day. You won’t be in the same room every rotation, though,” the man said with a knowing grin. “Once the storm season passes there’ll be a lot more pirates working the local island waters, and a lot more bounties getting claimed because of that. If the Pillar receives more guests, we post more guards.”

 

“That makes sense,” Kanessa replied. “What about you, Constable? How does it normally- um, work for you here when things go according to schedule?”

 

“Once a month feeding visits,” Zizzy replied in a matter of fact kind of tone. “That keeps me strong enough to perform my duties. The condemned inmates usually make peace with it all before I even meet them. My Kiss is preferable to the noose, by far.” The succubus’s expression turned thoughtful before she resumed speaking. “I am not cruel, Lieutenant. My demonic nature requires me to feed to survive, and the pleasure and satisfaction is undeniable, but I show them all due respect for the Ending of their Stories.”

 

“And the woman the Captain mentioned?”

 

Zizzy’s expression was solemn once more. “Cases like her are rare, and more difficult for me. The feeding itself is always as easy as a simple reflex, but I feel their emotions in the act. Her request is a sign she is truly repentant, as if the priests could not determine that with their divinations and spiritual delving.” She shook her head sadly, then continued. “I wish we had more time to try to talk her out of her decision, but The Defiler may be working his horrors upon another victim as we speak here. I need all the power I can get to be sure I’m able to take him down.”

 

As the three of them came to a junction in the corridor they were faced with two doors on either side. The one to the right was heavy black stone with an enchanted locking mechanism, and Zizzy touched her badge to its center.

 

The Captain stopped the Lieutenant from following the Constable, turning her towards the other door as he spoke to Zizzy. “I’ll take our newest guardswoman here to talk to the lady and get her ready. Are you sure you don’t want her to be first?”

 

Zizzy shook her head, wings rustling gently behind her. “No,” she said as her eyes began to pulse with a reddish light in time with her inhumanly powerful heartbeat. She continued with a husky rasp to her voice. “I’ll be more in control after these first two, so I can be gentle with her. Let her know her life won’t be spent in vain, despite her accidental crime.” The massive door to the cell block where the condemned were kept rumbled open with an ominous thud, punctuating her statement and adding even more gravity to the situation.

 

The grizzled old Captain nodded somberly, and with a gentle touch to the Lieutenant’s elbow turned to other doorway. Neither of Zizzy’s companions saw her expression finally give way to unbridled lust as she strode through the black stone entrance, and she was silently grateful for that.

 

For it was time for Zizzy to feed.

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Belhambone @Belhambone ago

Yay a chapter! Awhhh a side chapter.

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    a_man_in_black @a_man_in_black ago

    i am utterly baffled. why do SO MANY people consider my chapters about other people to be side chapters? it's not an interlude or a slice of life, it's part of the main story...

    i just don't get it...

      MalcolmR @MalcolmR ago

      "Original ONGOING Action Adventure Fantasy Female Lead LitRPG Magic Strong Lead"

      The tags off the book, I guess from those they do have an point Wink
      yhe it is an part of the main storry, but it is an side charaters that is the MC in this chapter so then it is an side chapter. It might be as simple as what people are talking abaout when they use spesific words.

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      a_man_in_black @a_man_in_black ago

      maybe. i guess i just see it differently. morgan is the main character, yes, the strong female lead and our leading protagonist.

      but she's not operating in a vacuum, even in her isolated time in the wildlands. things are shaking up with the other worldwalkers and other events that are moving, that will lay the foundation for what plays out in the chapters coming soon.

      Aadarm @Aadarm ago

      People don't consider chapters that don't focus on the MC, in this case Morgan to be part of the main story.

      Personally I just don't care about any of the other characters. Especially in a story that only updates once a week.

      Dradixx @Dradixx ago

      I am guessing that, since there are less chapters about theses characters, people are less attached to them, thus considering them "side" chapters.

      Personally I enjoyed it, even though every time I see Zizzi, I can't help but remember that it means dick in french (or close to).

      Given that it is a succubus, now I wonder if you did it on purpose ? Tongue

      I like how Zizzi answers the questions like "Its just another day at work" to the young lieutenant. You can feel that she has a conscience, but does not hesitate to go against it when necessary. Like she said; good is not always nice.

      Anyway! thanks for the chapter !

      Eladar @Eladar ago

      It depends on the book. Some books are made to have many characters. e.g. The Wandering Inn. Some aren't.

      Lynnaryas @Lynnaryas ago

      It's because we love Morgan.

      We want to read more about her, and while Zizzy is nice, she is not Morgan.

      Belhambone @Belhambone ago

      I admit, reading The Wheel of Time broke me of really being able to enjoy changing perspectives to different characters that aren't close to the MC.

      I honestly enjoy a change of perspective when it's someone directly in contact with the MC. The MC does something crazy but doesn't realize, then you have the perspective of the people they are with giving the reaction of everyone else. But it's right there in the line of the rising action of the story.

      Wheel of Time would have several rising action story lines running and just as the climax would be coming it would jump to another perspective in a totally differnt place. It feels like sitting down to a steak dinner, cutting into it, seeing it's perfectly cooked and then the waiter comes to take it away for another entree.

      So honestly it's not your story, which is a very rich world and story with a secondary perspective that is quite well done and intersting. It's the taint of all the other stories that have broken the pacing that automatically leaves a bad taste in my mouth when the MC is no longer the focus.

      Draconic @Draconic ago

      I wonder what these people would do with the Wheel of Time... There is an obvious main character, but there are at least 10 other point of view characters. And the MC does not get more chapters with him than most other characters. I think there was even a full volume where the MC barely even appeared.

      ed.: I see someone else also mentioned the Wheel of Time... Though it seems we have very different feelings about it :D

      MalcolmR @MalcolmR ago

      For me saying that WOT have one MC is like sayign the bible have one MC.

      It might also be taht when people start reading the book they are expecting one MC. When one start reading Lord of the Rings one are expecting this large world with a lot of diferent POV characters. I belive a lot of people are seeing this story and expecting something closer to Metaworld Cronicles than LOTR.

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      a_man_in_black @a_man_in_black ago

      while i don't think my writing is on the same level as wandering inn(Yet! i hope to get there one day!), the character thing is a good comparison. i like to open a chapter with one character's point of view, and stick with it for that chapter, similar to how wandering inn and a few other of my favorite books do. jumping the POV around within the same chapter can give me mental whiplash, especially if it's not obvious, and i hate it when authors do that.

      so while morgan most defintely is going to get the lion's share of skyclad chapters, there are other characters with their own unique personalities, and various plot arcs that i'm attempting to weave together. and i do not see those other characters and their chapters as "interludes" or "side chapters" in any way, shape, or form. the loofah gets interludes. random slice of life or comedy scenes will get interludes. but the dozen or so important characters i have mapped out in my notes, those aren't interludes, they're part of the main story.

      Belhambone @Belhambone ago

      Don't take it as a criticism of the writing. The story is done amazingly well.

      It's just for me, and I believe several readers like me, we prefer stories that focus on the MC and pretty much only the MC. So for us a story that actually has several character perspectives that rank almost as important as the MC feels like trying to read several books simultaneously and it's jarring.

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      Aihnman @Aihnman ago

      Lots answeres here for why one would consider it seperate, but here's mine.

      Morgan is my main perspective in to this world. Not only is she interesting, but she's an isekai prtagonist; bringing the world views and common sense I'm familiar in to the fantasy world. This is fantastic. I love following her story.

      Zizzy has not yet made a connection to Morgan. While I personally find Zizzy's story so far even more interesting than Morgans, I still percieve Morgan as my primary window in to the world and Morgan's never seen or even been even slightly impacted by Zizzy. They're not connected. Yes, I know with my mind that they're in the same novel, the same fictional world, and will probably meet later. This doesn't change the fact they don't feel connected. Neither has had any influence on the other yet. Maybe there will be some awesome climax that connects the two later, but I'll have trudge through the current total segregation of their time lines to get there.

      Draconic @Draconic ago

      I agree with you, and like your plans, but I think that you may be in a bad situation in this regard.

      The reason for this is the same thing you mentioned earlier (ed.: I think you mentioned it. Can't find where.). That Morgan is a thousand kilometres away from civilization. This makes it harder for her to interact with the other point of view characters, and I think until the multiple plot lines directly influence one another, people will complain about "unrelated side chapters". Don't mind them.

      MalcolmR @MalcolmR ago

      I guess we are her seeing why it is sometimes an great ide to start in an small vilage have the party split up later so that the plot is like an tree one have the trunk that is the MC and the other characters are branshes growing out from that tree. This storry have one tree with one bransh then there are two branshes on the ground that might be grafted onto the tree or planted to make an new tree, but so far they are just on the ground somewhere.

      Eladar @Eladar ago

      Having a story with many POVs isn't impossible at all. The Wandering Inn has done it. However, Pirateaba consistently uploads 2 gigantic chapters a week, so people don't complain about it, cause they get their fill of main character. Don't listen to all the people going "Want an MC chapter". If you look back at The Wandering Inn's beginning it was at the start mainly from Erin's point of view, until Ryoka got introduced. Most people actually skipped the Ryoka chapters, until Ryoka met Erin and then people started reading the Ryoka chapters. If you go take a look at the first Ryoka chapters you'll see similar comments to the ones on here. Just write what you want to write, not what others want to write. Just beware that attempting to do a second Wandering Inn is very, very hard.

      MalcolmR @MalcolmR ago

      She actualey still se those coments on chapters with characets that some people don't like espesialey if one get 2-3 chapters in a row with that charater

      Unmaker @Unmaker ago

      Part of the desire to stick with one main character might be a reaction to lower quality works. Some less-skilled authors let parts of the story 'take over' or divert the story rather than keeping the story going. So anyone who is used to that trend will be immediately wary when non-MC chapters are posted.

      In truth, good authors usually use multiple characters. For example, I are rereading some William Gibson and Neal Stephenson (yeah, I am sort of on a cyberpunk binge) and they have multiple viewpoint characters who eventually converge in the final climactic scenes. And they do it well.

      Another part of the aversion to multiple characters might be the format and context. Just like much of Dickens stuff, the intermittantly published format forces changes on the story style. For readers who are reading multiple webnovels, it is easier to remember and follow each of them if they have one central character. That would not be as much the case if this were a finished novel someone was reading. I dropped reading The Misplaced Dungeon because it diverged to multiple short viewpoints in every single chapter and it became harder to follow. A few sentences per chapter for each veiwpoint are not enough to provide continuing story threads to remember (for me at least).

      In short, and IMO, you are doing well as-is, please continue.

      mephi @mephi ago

      Would you prefer it be called a backstory? Even if Zizzy is going to be a main character, she's not part of the main plot right now.

      naturalnuke @naturalnuke ago

      I think the Wandering Inn really works character POV wise because each perspective is part of what’s almost its own short story. Or the perspectives are all dealing with the same plot thread.

      While I did like this character if we don’t continue this plot thread or we do so later chronology gets wonky it just feels unsatisfying.

      Belhambone @Belhambone ago

      I actually burned out on Wandering Inn several months ago. It is done well, but the long separate arcs just became too much.

      Garrdor @Garrdor ago

      I don't like em for all the reasons above, but also cuz I feel like it's kind of a cop out. It's like saying "and now this is happening over here to people you don't know, pay attention it's important to the plot. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming."

      Like that first POV told us more people came to the world with Morgan. But how's that effect the plot right now, for her? Now when she finds out, she'll be surprised and have an emotional reaction to not being alone, but the readers will have known for thirty chapters. There was no more natural way to impart that info to the readers?

      I read chapters like these eventually, instead of as you soon as you post them, not because I enjoy them but because they have plot information. Not that they're not well written or uninteresting, but, mumble mumble mumble

      I'm sure it's a tightrope between laying the foundations for plot and having readers think you're just making it up as you go along, I don't know the right answer this is all my opinion.

      And I haven't even read this POV yet I'm sure I'll find a way to gripe even more once I do.

      Ninetails @Ninetails ago

      I am going to have to be blunt here, changes in PoV inheirently are hurtfull to a story, so it is up to you the author to make it worth it to do any of those changes. If you just eat up the "other people have done so and it worked out nicely for them" argument and then do PoV changes then your story will just end up worse for it.

      To deal with PoV changes nicely, you are going to have to ask yourself these two questions:

      • A) How exactly does this hurt my story, and how can I limit/mitigate the damage.
      • B) How do I make use the PoV to add value to my story.

      The net effect of a PoV is B-A, which funnily defaults to a negative value, which is also why it is in general a bad sign for a novel to have multiple main characters, especially for amature writting, where the authors are on average not as good at making B-A become a positive. This means we want to maximixeB and minimize A.

      There ways to go about B, and others have already mentioned several options in this thread. For this I would like to add that you can use it to control pacing of a story, where one part has way too little or much going on, then it can be balance with another point of view that corrects for this. Do note that it could also damage the pacing of the story (which kind of is the case with this chapter, because it is a travel chapter for a less important character, following a calm chapter, which means it is more of the same, which in turn means a problem in the pacing, though there is a difference in kind so it isnt completly bad).

      To minimize A it becomes important to realise all the ways such a change in perspective can hurt the story. Here are some of the problems:

      1. It inserts a wait on whatever you were antisipating for part of the story you were following just before the change. This can be reduced by there being a change back in not so long, and when the part of the story you observe is about the same part of the story.
      2. You may not be as invested in the other character. This effect is proportional to how long you stay in this PoV, so it can be reduced by lowering the length of points of view that the readers would be less invested in. It can also be reduced by making the reader more invested in that character, such as by characterization and plot.
      3. You have to recall the state and story around the target of the switch. This is reduce by it still being fresh in your memory and the situation not being too complicated or different from where you were before.
      4. You have detect the change and do a mental switch. This can be reduced some by clearly denoted switches.

      I have tried to rank them based on how servere a problem I see it as personally. One thing to notice, is that many of the problems are reduced by the other point of view being short, so you can get back to the part of the story you were on before, and by view being closely related to the plot of what is already going on. There is also the route of balancing between several important characters, by making the reader invested in several of them, but it takes a lot of work to get the readers invested in all of those characters, and you are still left with problem #1, which can be a real challenge to deal with.

      Of these 4 problems, the one that these chapters hurt your story the most over is clearly #1, because when you take full length chapters and do not get back to the previous point of view in the same chapter, the wait periode goes from a few minuts till another week. Full length books can get away with this much more easily, because you are going to have the next chapter available strait aftwards, so the time is still on the order of minuts to many an hour or two. It is not reduced either by the plot going on in Zizzy's story to have practically any influence on what we expect to hear about on the Morgan end of things either, which means that this reduction doesnt play in either. The result is that we get a chapter about a different character that feels barely connected at all, and that we therefor have to wait another week for the story to actually continue.

      The thing about whether these kinds of chapters are side-stories and whether Zizzy is a side character, I can pretty definitely say that I consider this chapter an interlude (much more so that the fluffy chapter) and Zizzy a side character, on the simple grounds that I am significantly less invested in her than the main character Morgan, and that she is not going to qualify for as a shared main character until the investment is decently close between them.

      That said you have done a fairly good job of making us start to be invested in her, which is why I manly mentioned thar problem #1 was the one to be concerned about here.

       

      As for many main character stories, it is sufficient to know that they too are flawed, in the sense that you still have to divide the time up between each character, so you have to devote so much more time to building up investment in each character, and it can easily lead to effectively streching out the same plot, which means that the effective concentration of each of the plots lowers, which lowers the effect the plot has. Note that often movies and tv series can get much better away with this than books, since the scene structure there means that it only takes minuts before we need to change something anyway, and they are less reliant on telling the story from one specific perspective.

      On a side note, my biggest problem with the wheel of time (at least the first 3-5 books, I dont recall which one I stopped at), is that they do a horrible job with problems #1 and #2. Because of the way the first book is structured you (or at least I) end up being way more invested in the main character (Rand), so when they start to leave him for long periodes of time later on, then even though you know something about the other characters, you (or I) are not anywhere near so invested in them, and the wait is just sooo loooong until you get back to him, and then you still just get bits and pieces and it doesnt really feel satisfying.

      JBRhorst @JBRhorst ago

      Problem is that there is no relation between your characters. If there was then at least we can be like "Oh, I wonder how Morgan is going to react." But as it is its just at the point where there isn't really a reason to care. This is an entirely different story within a story about a MC we are used to and really enjoy. If you want some real tips then read the Wheel of Time series. It's way too lengthy, but the POV changes make sense because no one is just randomly introduced and everyone can tell how everything will effect the story.

      Garrdor @Garrdor ago

      Can't really use WoT as a framework, that crew all started together and slowly diverged, harder to make em relate when the mc starts off alone in the woods.

      Let's stop expecting a Wheel of Time experience here, no offense meant to the author but that's one of the most well read and beloved fantasy series of all time. It's also long as f*ck, was released over like twenty years (by two different authors, sadly), and those POVs were super skippable to start (especially the female POVs, Jordan could not write an interesting female perspective).

      There are plenty of well received stories on this sight that have multiple points of view. Savage Divinity comes to mind, although that's usually just to give a different perspective on the MC

      Unmaker @Unmaker ago

      @Ninetails

      I suggest you go read the Cryptonomicon. It switches POVs, time points, and places in the world regularly. It is simply impossible to tell the full story with one POV. Even if you came as close as possible, using linear narrative and single POV until the character's story was finished and then switching to another character, the story would suffer for it. Basically, the shifts make for a much better story. So I disagree with your statement that they are inherently negative.

      They are like several other powerful tools in the author's toolbox: very bad if misused, very good if used properly.

      JBRhorst @JBRhorst ago

      That's actually the point I was trying to make. We cared about the MCs POV in WoT because we knew who they were. We don't know OR care about the side plots going on right now because they are pointless to the main story as we see it. The author might have an idea going, but it sucks for us because that idea is lost in the sauce. I would argue against your assertion that Jordan couldn't write an interesting female POV though. The only problem was that it was only interesting when they actually did something (like catching the spider) and they normally were just reacting to everything or on R's coat-tails.

      Serpentine13 @Serpentine13 ago

      For me, I'm usually in the main protagonist's boat. Very rarely do I care about other characters so much that I'd rather read about them. This is especially true when I wait for more than a couple days to read every subsequent chapter.

       

      I check my bookmarks daily and when I saw Skyclad had updated I eagerly opened it up when I had some downtime thinking, " Awesome! What's Morgan doing next? What skills is she going to improve? Will she level up and get new stuff?" Was a bit disappointed it wasn't Morgan taking the stage this week. I personally have no attachment to Zizzy at all, all I recall is that she was the focus of a previous chapter some number of weeks ago. And that she was succubus.

       

      It would be different if I was reading Skyclad all in one go, but to me all these chapters with other points of view only really serve to tell me what else is going on in the world. Thus, side chapter/interlude.

      Ninetails @Ninetails ago

      @Unmaker

      I am asserting that the shift itself is inherently hurtful, not that you cannot use them with a net positive outcome. This should be understood the same way a surgery is inherently hurtful to the patient, so you should try to minimize the damage and only do it when necessary.

      As for the cryptonomicon, then if I recall the right story (which I saw the movie version of), then I find the story quite poor, and it feels way too long compared to what actually happens in it, which is consistent with what.I wrote earlier. While that story seems to be only able to write this way, you have to recall that it is the kind of science fiction story which is more concerned about telling you about some idea than actually telling a good story. It is kind of in its name. These kinds of stories have their reader driven at least partially by some other motivation than story (slize of life stories tend to also fall in this category).

      Writing is full of exceptions, which is why the argument of "other people have done so and it worked out nicely for them" just doesn't work as a disprovement of general rules. Heck there are tons of writing out there without even something close to a point of view in it, though this doesn't mean that it is a good idea to write your story like that, even though someone might find a way to get away with it.

      Olivebirdy @Olivebirdy ago

      It's because of time. We had only two chapters with her. When you write an interlude or a side character's chapter, you only have a short time to write up an emotional journey and a short story. You're not sticking around to write it, so she's a side character and this is an interlude.

      The Oracle chapter was good. Self-contained, an emotional transition. Would have been better with action, but it had a beginning, middle, end with a reasonably well explicated character voice.

      The first Ziz chapter was good. Character, exposition, threat, character reveal and transformation.

      This chapter was not good. We already knew enough about Ziz, we left her in expectation that the next scene would be action. ...and you're spending words on security measures. On a summoner that has no relevance save for as a possible hook later on. On characters we won't meet again for two dozen chapters.

      There was no emotional journey, there was no conflict. Succubus talks to two people is not a plot. Nothing happened in this chapter, and now we'll have another six chapters without her.

RyuNaga @RyuNaga ago

thanks for the chapter

Blue Crow @Blue Crow ago

Feels like a massive infodump of stuff readers don't care too much rights now.

If you ever work on editing it, you should probably introduce the new character right on the action of feeding/executing. The reader should be able to make a rough idea of her power as a succubus and of her moral. Or lack thereof. Then close the scene telling enough info to complete the bare minimal picture of the new setting focusing on the stakes at hand.

That is just an example. but if you introduce a new character the most important goal you have Is making readers create an emotional connection to it. Until then will be difficult to care about what's happening in the new setting or her backstory.

 Anyway keep the good works!

 

 Edit. Although it's true I forgot zizzy earlier apparitions (sorry, lol) that is also telling. I think she wasn't in enough conflict to display her character. So I find her kind of forgettable and this chapter of exposition didn't help me.

    Draconic @Draconic ago

    I disagree. I think this chapter was fine as it was. And I also disagree with your opinion, that this was stuff the readers don't care about. Besides, Zizzy was not a new character. Though if you skipped the first chapter with her I can understand finding this one dull.

      Blue Crow @Blue Crow ago

      Eh I've edited the 'don't care' with 'don't care too much'. I was being to much hyperbolic.

      JBRhorst @JBRhorst ago

      Honestly I would have agreed with 'dont't care'. There's no point to this yet. You just shouldn't introduce a plotline without the reader knowing why their is another plotline.

      skydragonknight @skydragonknight ago

      Was explained in Z's first appearance that each of the Worldwalkers is plot important, so we as readers are meeting one of them soon, and this is a setup for that. The Mana storm and Oracle both certainly relate directly to the MC and will come up later. So yeah, nott sure how Z herself will directly relate to the MC, but the other Worldwalker will give some good contrast in Z's next chapter.

      Exposition is required somewhere, and we can't expect the old witch who's news of current events is hundreds of years outdated to provide much for us, so this is what we get until Morgan reaches civilization (if they let her naked self inside!) Imagine if the author left all of this for later. If you think you're fatigued by the tidbits now...oh man. This is a mercy to spread it out some.

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      a_man_in_black @a_man_in_black ago

      spreading it out is definitely part of the intent. morgan is at least a year, maybe even closer to two, before she encounters anything resembling civilized people. yeah, she could cross the distance faster, but she has no maps, moghren hasn't travelled outside her small territory in over a millenia and coudln't give reliable information beyond what she alread has, even if she were willing to indulge morgan in such a way. to her, morgan is a curiosity, and a tiny bit of satisfaction that her line has continued back on earth, but mostly the old witch is concerned with her own territory and little else.

      while morgan is travelling the wildlands, a full blown war is kicking off with the Deskren Empire. EVERYBODY knows about the worldwalkers, various factions are wanting to corner an opportunity to grill them for knowledge or gain them as allies, or in deskren's case, collar them. the oracle is trying to learn her new role as quickly as possible while juggling all these responsibilities and powers that basically fell in her lap, and then the mage-eater starts offing Storm Breakers, which is a danger to the entire continent because of the storm. there's a LOT of stuff going on, enough i could easily be throwing out chapters in order of each of hte worldwalkers and the couple of other important characters, and only get back to morgan every seventh or eighth chapter. i try to keep it so we get pulled away from morgan as little as possible, but there's just some things i have to show if i want the whole story to make sense.

      otherwise we'd get a few dozen chapters with morgan, and then she'd have to sit for a few days getting a history lesson on all the happenings. i don't want to do that.

    MalcolmR @MalcolmR ago

    I can definitely see your point, how who'd you rate the oracle introduction?

    Peraonaley i feel an a lot better conection with that story line that this one. For me I think that there something happens to her while her zizzy hears abaout what is happening to others. We dont see what is happening we are told what is happening.

    In this chapter did we need to know the guard rotation? Why did the new guard not know this already. Who in the storry other than the reader is this information for? If this fact have relevance for the plot, have someone talk abaout it in the background, one way is to have more people on the transport. People that is so used to zizzy that they don't notice her more than an quick acknowledgement and an 'you are early this month'. So unless the bard and the other guard is relevant for the later plot are they needed for the info dump? The background talk also showes that she is known to everyone we dont have to be informed that she is comonplace while the way it is done one have one character that thinks of zizzy as normal and one that don't know who is she and know of her at the same time. This did get longer than planed...

    I still like the story but while writing this I started to see why I might not like the zizzy chapters as much(who'd have to do an read bit I think I liked the first one more as it was no indication that she was diferent untill the wings). The whole show not tell.

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      a_man_in_black @a_man_in_black ago

      a lot of it is my writing style, i'll admit man. i write by parking the mental camera on a character's shoulder, and then i'm along for the ride. not everything the character sees, or goes on around them, is going to be of epic importance, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. real people have idle conversation all the time. in this chapter, instead of inane dialogue and silly jokes, i kept the conversation centered more around obliquely using their words to shed light on some of the class mechanics and system quirks. i know most RR readers know all about litRPG and gaming, but i cannot and will not assume that everyone does. not eveyrone is going to know that a sneak-rogue type class is easily countered by fighters and brawler tank types.

      the talk on the ride to the pillar was in part to show zizzy's more empathic side, and shed a little light on her origins, and there's some deeper stuff coming up in the future about her time BEFORE she was a succubus, and why she actually /wants/ to be good. succubi are not born demons in Skyclad. they are MADE, in one of the Seven Hells, in the circle of lust. she was once a human woman who committed a soul-crime. the reason she did not just drop the demonic pact contract is because if she returns to the hells, she'll be right back in the throes of her damnation. this is why she longs for the comfort of the temple, which she cannot ever set foot in.

      i want to show this stuff in the story, instead of having her just meet morgan one day and them have to sit for six chapters while they discuss backstory events.

      Olivebirdy @Olivebirdy ago

      Documentaries are boring, and even they cut out the uninteresting bits.

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      a_man_in_black @a_man_in_black ago

      different things are interesting to different people. i'm telling the story i'm telling, and if it's not your cup of tea, there's not much all i can do about that. i am not going to rewrite my plot outline over a few dissapointed people. zizzy went to a prison to feed on a couple of death row inmates before flying for two days straight, with a fight against an enemy that is literally "threat level: unknown".

      there are going to be other people in and around the prison, there's going to be nervous chatter with the environment of fear that this new serial killer has caused to permeate the local people's attitudes, and talking about him to soothe a rookie's fears is absolutely something zizzy would do as "the good succubus". Kanessa is a rookie. it is absolutely relevant that the captain would explain stuff about the prison to her. i park the mental camera on the chapter-character's shoulder, and what they experience is what i write. not all of that is going to be all epic importance, sometimes people make small talk. i'm sorry if you don't like that kinda my take on it, but it's how i've written EVERY chapter of skyclad. some chapters will be more interesting than others to different groups of readers, and i can't really help that, other than trying to tell the story i want to tell in the best way i can.

      all sorts of people read stories on here, and if i lean towards pleasing one type, it pisses off another. too much system message spam and one group screams, not enough and the litRPG crowd screams. break away from morgan for a chapter and one group screams while another thanks me for the different window into the world of anfealt and the extra lore of the world thrown in. i can't please everyone, every chapter, and if i tried i'd lose my hair and end up with blood pressure problems within a month.

Draconic @Draconic ago

Thanks for the chapter!

I love Zizzy and the chapters about her. I hope her hunt will go well.

shader009 @shader009 ago

Pretty deep chapter. You can almost feel the characters, their conflicts. Also about that female convict......

P.S. You might consider adding a multiple lead character tag. Although I like these breaks from Morgan's story and enjoy these glimpses into the world at large through the eyes of other major players, others might take these chapters to be fillers or extras.

Also I'm assuming that someday all the major characters are going to meet? Just curious.

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    a_man_in_black @a_man_in_black ago

    many of them will meet morgan, or each other, at various points. others will be doing various important things, and their actiosn will ripple out and affect morgan or the other characters just as much as morgan's arrival shook things up on Purple Night. not all of the worldwalkers will get screentime in the first arc, and may be just laying low, keeping their heads down trying to survive in a new and confusing world. others are gonna be movers and shakers of the deskren war, and i've gotta get them positioned properly before morgan gets herself dragged into the conflict.

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    a_man_in_black @a_man_in_black ago

    also i went ahead and added the multiple lead tag. i don't really like doing that, as i still see morgan as the lead character even though others get screen time, but maybe it'll stop some of the screaming.

      JBRhorst @JBRhorst ago

      It probably won't. Your side characters aren't developed enough to be leads and their stories aren't relevant enough to Morgan's story to affect the plot right now. I would have waited until there are immediate correlations the reader can make because right now the side stories are somewhat pointless and will be forgotten by the time anything else happens.

mightykk @mightykk ago

Nom nom nom

Thank you for the chapter.

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Elendar @Elendar ago

Bleh... tbh, this was a rather boring chapter.