As the forgewagon crested a small rise in the road, Rain spotted Ameliah waiting for them in the distance, standing next to a wooden bridge over a frozen stream. She had the hood of her cloak raised, and Rain was sure that he’d have missed her completely had Detection not warned him that she was there. He raised his hand to wave, and Ameliah waved back. Instead of slipping back into the trees, she started walking toward them.


Looks like we’re stopping here,” Rain said to Tallheart, pointing. “Distance should be close enough. Drive over the stream before you stop. We’ll probably end up melting it when we camp, so we’d better do it now.”


Tallheart nodded, pulling back on one of the levers, sending them crunching off the road and down toward the bank. It looked like he had decided to drive straight over the ice rather than try the bridge, which was probably wise. That thing looks like it’s on its last legs.


They crossed without incident—the stream wasn’t that deep and was probably frozen through. Rain’s legs were burning as he dismounted from the bouncing forgewagon, and he almost fell as his knee buckled. Hmm. I guess it’s not as healed as I thought.


“Problem?” Ameliah asked, walking up to them.


Hurt my knee,” Rain said. “I healed it, but it looks like the damage was worse than I thought. I’m not very good at judging levels of pain anymore. Physical pain, anyway.” Damn headaches.


Here, let me see,” Ameliah said, laying her hand on his shoulder. Rain forced his face to remain neutral as he felt Tissue Scan sweep through him. She doesn’t know that I know what that skill actually does. Play it cool, Rain. It’ll only be weird if you make it weird.


“Yeah, you definitely hurt it. You’ve got a torn ligament.”


Rain shivered as the rush of healing flowed through him. Barely recognized aches and pains vanished in an instant as his health overflowed his cap, leaving him with only the dull throbbing behind his eyes. “Whoa.”


“How did it happen?” Ameliah asked.


Rain rubbed at his neck, “Uh, I kinda did it to myself. Imbalance. The ring, you know?”


“Have I mentioned how ridiculous that thing is?” Ameliah asked, glancing at Tallheart.


“Yes, you have,” Rain said. “Tallheart says he’ll make you one, by the way, as soon as we can find another Arcane GranCryst. Seems like something like that would be pretty useful for a Jack. All your stats are equal, right?”


Ameliah nodded. “Yes, they are. As nice as it would be to have something like that, it wouldn’t really work for me, though.”


“Why not?” Rain asked.


“It’s a Jack thing,” Ameliah said with a shrug. “Balance works better.”


“Mmm,” Tallheart said, not looking up from where he was fiddling with something underneath the forgewagon. “I can make something more suited to you once I have the materials.”


“You really don’t have to,” Ameliah said, “but thanks.”


“Mmm,” Tallheart said.


Ameliah’s eyes flicked to the side, and Rain turned to see Vanna approaching them. “We’re stopping?” she asked, looking at Ameliah questioningly.


“I think we should,” Ameliah said, glancing at Rain playfully. “Do you agree, Captain?”


Rain snorted. “Yes, I suppose I do.”


“Good,” Vanna said. “I was about to say something if you didn’t call a halt soon. A few people are having trouble. I think we should slow down the pace a bit tomorrow.”


Rain frowned. “You’re probably right, but I don’t like hearing it. It’ll take us forever to get anywhere at this pace. How hard do you think I can push them before they start hating me for it?”


Vanna considered for a moment, then shrugged. “We can try to keep this pace, I suppose. Managing a company is a bit different from a work crew. I knew how much my crew could take, but…” She shook her head. “I couldn’t tell you if the ones having trouble are actually at their limits, or if they’re just whiners. I haven’t known them long enough.”


“We will march for as long as is needed,” said Tarny, having joined them as Vanna was speaking. “Lord Rain, do not concern yourself with such matters. Your task is to lead; ours is but to follow.”


Rain thought he hid his sigh admirably. Who talks like that? He didn’t bother telling Tarny to stop calling him ‘Lord.’ There was no point. “Thank you, Tarny, but I don’t want anyone to hurt themselves by working too hard before they’re ready. I’ll call a few more stops tomorrow for rest, but we’ll be marching the whole day, instead of just half.”


“Yes, my lord,” Tarny said, bowing.


“No bowing, Tarny,” Rain said. “For the last time.”


“Sorry, my lord,” Tarny said.


Rain did sigh this time. He glared at Ameliah, who was smirking at him. “What?”


“Nothing,” she said, turning away. “I’m going to get started on the fortifications. It shouldn’t take me more than an hour. Do you want to set up right here?”


“One moment,” Rain said, checking with Detection. He didn’t feel any significant sources of metal in the earth below them, so he nodded. “Nothing around that’s worth moving for. There’s a bit of iron in the soil, but not much. Unless you’re low, Tallheart, I wouldn’t bother.”


“Mmm,” Tallheart said. “I am fine at the moment. Ameliah, if you would not mind, I would prefer some walls so I may rest in peace.”


“Sure,” Ameliah said. “Whatever you’d like. I’m going to set up a few partitions anyway so we can have some privacy.”


“Thanks, Ameliah,” Rain said. “Do you need any help?”


Ameliah shook her head. “I’ll be fine.” She pointed. “I left a Stumper in the trees over there. If you want to get some people breaking it down, that would be good. I’m hungry enough to eat the thing raw at this point. I shouldn’t have skipped breakfast.”


“I’ll see it done, my lady,” Tarny said, bowing to her. She rolled her eyes but didn’t correct him.


“Get Carten and Jamus to go with you,” Rain said, hiding his smile as he glanced at Tarny. “I don’t sense anything around, but you never know, even with the trees. Speaking of, pass out the axes. We’ll need firewood.”


“I’ll take care of all that stuff,” Vanna said before Tarny could reply. “Anything else, Rain? What are you going to do?”


Rain considered. “I’ll go wander around, I guess. See how everyone’s doing and listen to any problems they’re having so I know what needs fixing. After that, I’m going to work on the codes. I want to talk to people about that once we’re dug in. Ameliah, do you think you’d be able to do some healing once you’re done with the walls? I’m guessing we’ll have some blistered feet to deal with. Is that too frivolous, you think, using Healing Word for something like that?”


“I don’t mind,” Ameliah said. “It’s not like mana is a problem with you around.”


Rain grinned. “On that note, I should find Kettel. He needs to rank up his spells. I’m gonna make him in charge of starting all the fires. Something to keep him out of trouble.”


“Cunning, my lord,” Tarny said. “You are killing two birds with one stone, to use your expression. Perhaps three birds. I will find him and send him to you.”


Thanks, Tarny,” Rain said, glancing at him. Asskisser.


“Before I forget, Rain, here,” Ameliah said, tossing him a sack. “That’s everything that I found today. There’s something like a hundred Tel, plus a couple Chem-Crysts. No Cold-Crysts, even though I ran into some new Cold-Aspect monsters out there. I’ll go over them later once everyone has eaten.”


“Awesome,” Rain said, peering into the sack. “How much of this do you want to keep? You did all the work, basically. I need to write down the rules for how this stuff works.”


“It’s fine,” Ameliah said with a shrug. “A hundred Tel makes no difference to me. But you’re right; others are going to care. Whatever you do, make sure you keep the math simple. I’m still not convinced I understand that whole Rankin thing, and you’ve explained it to me like six times.”


“Simple, right. Probably for the best,” Rain said, laughing. “At least until after math class. I’ll see if I can come up with an idea, and we can discuss it along with the other thing.”


“What other thing?” Vanna asked.


“Rules for who gets priority for blues and such. That’s the main thing I wanted to go over tonight. We need to straighten that out before we actually find one. Maybe I can find a way to solve both problems at once. Anyway, daylight’s burning. Let’s get to work.”


“Daylight is burning,” Tarny repeated as if tasting the individual words. “You have a marvelous way with words, my lord, as always.”


Rain pinched the bridge of his nose. “Tarny, nobody likes a brown-noser.”




“I’ll explain it to you later,” Rain said.



Rain stood surveying the gathered members of Ascension. They were standing in a large open room of mud walls with no ceiling. The walls were thicker than they were tall and would be sufficient to stop a Stumper. Smaller monsters could climb them, but those could be dealt with by the defenders. At the moment, there was nothing in range of Detection, and little chance of something spawning nearby. The closest trees had been felled, providing fuel for the fires burning atop the wall. A few of those also had been set up with cauldrons, filled with chunks of both river-ice and Fungiform Stumper. Delicious.


There was a gap in the wall that led to a similar room, except with some partitions to break up the space. That room was to be for sleeping, while this one was for more general use. The sleeping-room was deserted at the moment, as Rain had called a meeting. The main room was cramped with everyone gathered, thanks to the fact that the sleds were in there with them. The forgewagon, at least, was still outside. Ameliah would put some walls up around it later to keep it safe overnight.


Rain cleared his throat, and when no one reacted, clapped his hands sharply, then waved. “Attention, everyone. We’ve got a few things to talk about.” After waiting a few moments for the conversation to die down, Rain cleared his throat again. “Right. So today, we marched for eleven point nine kilometers. There’re five kilometers to the league, more or less, so that’s a little over two leagues. I’m going to be teaching you all about kilometers later tonight; don’t worry about it now. We’re going to try to keep up this same pace tomorrow. As slow as that is, we’ll be going for the whole day, or until we reach the village of Essed, whichever happens first. Any questions about that before I start on what we’re doing for the rest of the day today?”


Several hands rose.


“Yes?” Rain said, pointing at Mahria.


“Are you going to let us loot Essed?” she asked.


Yes, though that isn’t the term I would use,” Rain said, nodding to her. “There are likely supplies there that we will need. We’ll look for survivors first, then give any dead we find a proper funeral. Only then will we take what we need. That includes coins, Tel, Crysts, and the like, which are of no use to the dead. All of that will get split up according to the codes, which is one of the reasons I called this meeting.”


“Good,” Mahria said. “As long as you’re not going to do something stupid like burying their valuables with them.”


Rain frowned at her tone, but he decided not to make an issue of it, as he’d seen something else that needed dealing with. “Staavo,” he said, staring at the old man who was fiddling with the generator near the back wall.




“Would you mind leaving that alone until I’m done talking please?” Rain said.


“But it’s almost—ow!”


“Thank you, Jamus,” Rain said, shaking his head. “Anyway, the codes. As the captain, I’ve decided that I want anyone to be able to submit an idea for a new rule or a modification. Anyone who has an idea can call a meeting like this, and then we’ll discuss it and have a vote. If there’s more than seventy-five percent in favor, it gets added to the codes. On that note, that will be the first thing we add. All in favor, raise your hand.”


Rain raised his own hand to demonstrate. After a moment, a few more hands joined his until about half of the members had their hands raised.


“Excuse me, Rain,” said Samson, who didn’t have his hand raised. “I have a comment, but I can’t raise my hand without voting. May I speak?”


“Go ahead,” Rain said. “You can put your hands down, everyone. We’ll have a little discussion, then we’ll vote again.”


Thank you,” said Samson. “I have a question on the rule you just proposed. Won’t it be chaos if everyone is allowed to just submit rules? Won’t we be spending all of our time voting on ideas if just anyone can submit stuff whenever they want? Wouldn’t it be better to just have a few people in charge of working on the codes, then only call a vote when they feel it is ready for everyone?”


“Good,” Rain said, nodding. “Yes, eventually, we’ll want to do something like that. A direct democracy—everyone votes on everything—really only works when you don’t have that many people. Fifty is already pushing it. Like I said, though, it’s not just adding stuff, but also changing it. This first rule is only so we have something to use as a base to build on. We can amend it later.”


“I suppose I can agree to that,” Samson said, nodding.


“Anyone else?”


“Who is in charge of writing all this down?” asked Romer.


Rain shrugged. “I made sure to bring plenty of paper. Are you volunteering?”


“I suppose I am,” said Romer. “I am a scribe, after all.”


“Great, thanks,” Rain said. “Okay, let’s have another vote. Hands up if you think it should take a seventy-five percent majority to modify the codes. Romer can figure out some formal language for the rule later, and we can have another vote to confirm it. For now, we’re just going on the spirit of the thing.”


Hands started going up, but someone spoke up before Rain finished counting.


“What is seventy-five percent?”


“Hmm?” Rain asked, searching for the speaker. “Finn, was that you?”


“Yeah,” said Finn.


Rain spotted him and nodded. He hadn’t had much of a chance to talk to him after the entrance interview; he only knew that the man had been one of the merchant’s guards trapped in the Lee. His full name was Finnbogi. “I’m sorry, what was the question?”


What does seventy-five percent mean?” Finn asked. Rain blinked. Oh.


Percent was a thing—Staavo was familiar with the concept at any rate—but most people used smaller fractions.


“Percent just means ‘in one hundred’,” Rain said. “Seventy-five percent is seventy-five in one hundred, or three in four. Since there’s fifty of us, that’s thirty-seven and a half, so thirty-eight votes needed to add something to the codes.”


“Oh,” said Finn. “Got it. Thanks.”


Rain nodded. “I figure that not everyone here is going to be an expert scholar, and there’s no judgment if you aren’t. Nobody should be ashamed of not knowing a thing. If you need help, just ask someone. I’ll be teaching math, reading, and writing later, starting with math and units tonight. Winter should make things a bit easier, but we’re getting off track again. Anyway, hands up for the vote on adding stuff to the codes.”


Hands went up. Rain counted, then smiled and stopped. “Unanimous. Great. That should do to get us started. Now, to formalize a few things, let’s see.” He cleared his throat. “I hereby submit the following for inclusion in the codes: The leader of Ascension is called the ‘captain’ and is responsible for the company’s day-to-day leadership. The captain decides where the company goes, what jobs they take, and is nominally in charge of everyone when it comes to company matters. The captain’s decisions can be overruled by a seventy-five percent majority, provided that the situation is appropriate for calling a vote. If overridden, the captain must go along with the group’s decision or be replaced. If the captain steps down or is removed for any other reason, the next captain may be elected by a simple majority.” Rain looked down. “Again, we can figure out better wording later. I just want something in there so it’s clear what my job is. No vote yet, questions first. Anyone?”


Lyn raised her hand. “Does the captain get to pick who gets awakened?” she said.


“Good question, Lyn,” Rain said, turning to her. “The answer is no. That’s a recipe for abuse of power. Nepotism and so forth. That’s actually the other of the two main things I want to get straightened out at this meeting. Like I said yesterday, the captain isn’t a king. They’re only in charge of the day-to-day.”


“This is all very vague,” said Romer without raising his hand.


Rain nodded. “I know. I’d say sue me, but we didn’t bring a lawyer.”


Lyn snorted. Atyl, Staavo, and a few others looked amused. Most people had blank looks, which was what Rain expected. Lawyers were a rare breed. Disputes in Fel Sadanis were mostly taken care of by the Watch, and they didn’t have a lot of patience for legal proceedings.


“Anyway, we can formalize all of this later once we’ve got some precedent set up,” Rain continued. “For now, you just let me know if I’m overstepping what you think the captain should be able to do. Otherwise, just do what I say, mmkay?” He smiled to show that he wasn’t entirely serious.


“What if I wanna be captain instead?” said Kettel loudly, a shit-eating grin on his face. “I just need ta’ get people ta’ vote fer me?”


“Yes, actually,” said Rain, hiding his annoyance. “That’s the whole point. If someone can win over seventy-five percent of the company, then obviously people think they’ll do a better job of it than the current captain is doing. I just want to formalize it in the codes before I move on to what I actually wanted to talk about this afternoon.”


Kettel opened his mouth to speak again, but Rain raised his voice, riding right over him. “Okay, let’s have another vote: office of the captain as I’ve outlined. Hands up if you’re in favor.” He raised his own hand.


Rain’s eyelid twitched as no less than three people spoke up, interrupting each other in their efforts to be heard. A sudden, resounding clang made Rain jump and startled the speakers into silence.


Tallheart lowered his hands. The noise had been him slamming his gauntlets together. “I tire of this,” he said. “Vote.” He raised his hand, staring at the crowd.


Hands went up.


“Forty-one to nine,” Rain said with relief. “Good enough. Motion passed.” He nodded to Tallheart. “Thanks.”


“Mmm,” Tallheart rumbled.


Rain rubbed at his eyes. Man, this is what I get for trying to half-ass a constitution. “Okay, next, moving to the subject of the company’s resources and our policy on loot,” he said, looking back up at the crowd. “Firstly, I’d like to put a person in charge of keeping track of all that, and making sure everyone has what equipment they need and so forth. Quartermaster, to use the nautical term.”


He cleared his throat. “The quartermaster of Ascension shall be nominated by the captain and confirmed with a simple majority vote. The quartermaster shall be responsible for managing the company’s finances and equipment, including seeing that all members are properly outfitted. The quartermaster shall also serve as second-in-command for any issues not requiring the captain’s direct attention. Hands up to vote on adding that to the codes.”


Rain raised his hand. Mercifully, there was no discussion, several people glancing at Tallheart and clearly thinking better of opening their mouths. The motion passed with a large enough margin that Rain didn’t bother to count.


“Right, that passed,” he said. “So, now I’d like to nominate someone for the office. Vanna, would you be willing?”


Vanna blinked. “Uh,” she said, looking around as the crowd looked at her. “Wouldn’t someone like Ameliah be better?”


“No,” Ameliah said. “Leave me out of this.”


“Perhaps someone with…more experience with such things,” Atyl said.


“Ye mean a noble,” Kettel said accusingly.


“I didn’t say that,” said Atyl.


“No offense to Vanna,” Mahria said, waving a hand dismissively, “I’m sure she’s fine, but I think it would be better to have an awakened as your second in command. Someone who can back up their authority with some, you know, actual combat capability. Someone with experience as an adventurer. If not Ameliah, then maybe I could—”


“No way I’m letting someone like her boss me around,” said Smelt. “And watch what you say about my sister, or I’ll thump you, awakened or not.”


“What do you mean, someone like me?” Mahria demanded. “I’d like to see you try it, you—”


“QUIET!” Rain roared, his already-strained temper snapping like a dry twig. “Vanna is my nominee,” he said, slashing his hand down with finality. “Vanna, are you willing?”


Y—Yes,” Vanna said after a moment. Rain blinked, then looked at her. She looked rattled. Looking around, she wasn’t the only one. Some of the other unawakened had actually pulled back, and Cloud was cowering behind Meloni. Rain forced himself to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Damn soul leakage. Damn headache.


He shook his head, unwilling to apologize for his outburst. He was still annoyed—at Mahria and Kettel in particular. “Simple majority vote,” he said. “Hands up.”


Rain counted, glaring his best glare until the threshold was met. “Good, Vanna is quartermaster. Anyone who doesn’t like it, tough. Next, let’s talk about what she’s going to be doing.” Rain held up a notebook. “In here I’ve written down a list of all of our equipment, plus monetary assets. Right now, the company has around a thousand Tel, plus half that in copper. We’ve also got some Crysts: thirteen Chem, eight Heat, and seven Arcane. That was all I could find before we left, plus what Ameliah gathered today when she was scouting.”


He paused, taking another deep breath. “For reasons of transparency, anyone is welcome to check the books whenever they want. As Quartermaster, Vanna is authorized to manage this wealth as she sees fit, including buying whatever the company needs. Vanna, I’ll leave it to you to set some rules for yourself, and we can formalize it all in the codes later. In general, for small stuff, you should just deal with it, but if its something big, like buying everyone plate armor, we’d want to have a little oversight. You okay with that, Vanna?”


“That’s…a lot of responsibility,” Vanna said. “What about, like, wages and stuff?”


“Good question,” Rain said. “Let’s move right on to that. It’s all related, so here’s what I was thinking. We’re going to work on a system of credits, with one credit being one tenth of a Tel. For example, when we were attacked by slimes earlier today, everyone fought to defend the company, so everyone gets some portion of the rewards. That was thirteen Tel, which works out to two-point-six credits each. You can either cash that out into copper, or leave it under your name in this book.” He waved the notebook around.


It will work like that for everything, with the rules for a specific job being determined before we do it. For example, tomorrow, when we loot Essed, I was thinking we just split everything up evenly; otherwise, Ameliah and I would dominate because of Detection and Attract. As another example, Ameliah brought in one hundred and three Tel today, plus three Chem-Crysts, all of which she donated to the company. She did that on her own, so at four Tel to the Chem-Cryst, she earned herself one thousand one hundred and fifty credits. As I donated six thousand Tel to get things started, I’m sitting at sixty thousand credits, not including the two-point-six from today’s slimes.”


Rain spotted a few raised hands but ignored them. He wasn’t done explaining.


“Now, there’s an obvious problem with this in that Vanna is going to be using the actual Tel and such to buy things like food and supplies next time we hit a city. If everyone cashes out, the company won’t have enough physical money to cover it. That brings me to the next point, which is why I think we should bother with something like credits in the first place instead of just using Tel. For one, I don’t want to deal with physical currency. Counting out Tel is a pain in the ass. Credits, on the other hand, can be exchanged just by moving some numbers around in the quartermaster’s ledger. It’s like how the Bank’s coins aren’t worth the same as the metal they’re made from, just taken one step further by doing away with the metal altogether.”


“Rain,” Staavo interrupted. Several others had lowered their hands, but not him. Rain frowned, looking at the old scholar.


Perhaps you can finish explaining the nuances of representational currency another time,” Staavo said. He looked around, speaking to the crowd. “Rain is just saying that your share of the loot will get held by the quartermaster until you want it.”


Rain sighed. “Basically, yes, but there’ll also be some things that you’ll only be able to buy with credits. I’m thinking we use them as a means of determining who gets awakened. Whenever we find a blue and circumstances allow, we’ll let people bid. The winners get the blue, and their bids get subtracted from their credit totals. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to donate as much as you can to the company if awakening is what you’re after. If we set it up right, the company should build up some cash for the airship fund, while all the members still get paid.”


“That’s still not any different than working in Tel, but okay,” Staavo said.


Rain shook his head. “It isn’t just going to be Tel that let you earn credits. I want the system to encourage people to do things that help the company, even if there’s no direct value in it. Things like healing the sick and charging magic items and so forth. I was also thinking we add some credit-offsets for things. If someone who’s already awakened wants to bid on a blue, they’ll have to pay more. As much as I’d like to raise my cap from eighteen to nineteen, it would do the company a lot more good to take someone from zero—unawakened—all the way to nineteen instead, especially if they decide to specialize as something like a healer.”


Rain swept his gaze over the sea of confused faces and sighed. “I’m not even going to bother calling a vote on this right now. Let’s just talk about the credit idea until the soup is ready. I didn’t just want to drop something on you like this without everyone getting a chance to share their opinion, as it’s going to shape everything that the company does going forward. If we can’t come up with something we’re all happy with by the time we’re done with dinner, we’ll just keep working in Tel for tomorrow. I still want to save time for math class, and then we’ll have tonight’s defense to discuss.” Rain sighed, rubbing his neck. “Hand’s up if you’ve got something to say.”


Dozens of hands shot into the air, and the throbbing behind Rain’s eyes seemed to double on the spot.



By the steady light of an oil lantern, Romer scanned over the text of the page in front of him. Satisfied, he set down his quill and reached for the blotter. It wouldn’t do to have any smudges. “There, that’s the third page done,” he said once he was finished dabbing at the ink, then slid the page across the small folding table to Vanna, who was scribbling on a page of her own. The soft sound of a flute could be heard from the other side of their muddy fortress, and, looking around, Romer saw that more evertorches had been lit, the sun having finally slipped below the horizon. The monsters would be coming soon.


With a sigh, Vanna looked up, then spun the page around to glance over it. She crinkled her nose. “Are you sure it needs to be this formal?”


Romer snorted, reaching down to his lap to scratch Nibs behind her ears. In response, Nibs pushed her head into his hand contentedly, the continuing thrum of her purring proof that he was doing his job properly. The warmth of the cat on his lap was comforting against the chill of Rain’s Winter.


Vanna sighed as she continued to read.


“Our captain, whatever else he is, seems to be a bit of a dreamer,” Romer said, watching Vanna read as he continued scratching Nibs the way she liked. “Fortunately for him, I know what I’m doing when it comes to this stuff. Being a scribe is more than just copying lines and having neat handwriting. It’s about translating intent.”


“I’ll have to clear this part with him,” Vanna said, pointing. “I’m not sure he’s going to like making people pay dues.”


“He told us to come up with a goldsink, so I did,” Romer said with a shrug. “It’s just to cover things like food and recurring expenses like lamp oil, canvas, and so forth.”


What is a goldsink again?” Vanna asked. “Sorry, I’ve got those strange numbers of his bouncing around in my head from that damn lecture. Doesn’t leave a lot of room to remember all of the other crazy stuff that he was saying.”


A way to remove credits from circulation,” Romer said, giving her an understanding nod. His own brain still felt a bit wrung-out from trying to unpuzzle the concept of how nothing could be treated as a number. “Don’t ask me why he called it a ‘goldsink’ and not a ‘creditsink’, though. I have no idea.” He tilted his head. “Where is Rain from, anyway?”


“I don’t know,” Vanna said. “He always dodges the question.”


“Mmm,” Romer said, lifting his hand from Nibs’s neck to pick up his quill once more. “A mysterious man, our captain. So clever about some things, and yet, so clueless about others.” He gestured to the page. “I still can’t believe he tried to set something like this up by committee. People don’t know what’s best for them, and that’s a fact.”


Vanna sighed, sliding him a stack of notes. “I trust him. I’m sure he could just set up some ridiculously complicated system on his own, but he won’t do that. He wants us to understand how it works and why it is the way it is. Whether you think this whole credit thing is a good idea or not, that’s what really matters. He isn’t forcing things on us.”


“Isn’t he?” Romer said, raising an eyebrow. “What was that…pressure…that he used? I always feel a bit on-edge when he’s around, but that was on a different level.”


Vanna sighed. “Don’t worry about that. He can’t control it, or at least, he says he can’t. All it really means is that he was annoyed, which was completely justified, in my opinion.”


Romer opened his mouth, but his planned inquiry got cut off in a strangled shout. He lunged for his inkwell, barely saving it from toppling and spilling ink all over the table. “By the depths, Nibs, be careful!”


Nibs lashed her tail dismissively, then settled down directly atop his notes. She stared up at him smugly, as if to say, “This is what you get for not paying attention to me, human.”



Staavo looked up at the noise, but not seeing any apparent source, looked back down at his notes. He was sitting on the ground, using his company-issued shield as a writing board, lacking a proper table. Night was falling, and the unsteady torchlight was irritating him with each flicker.


Unfortunately, without flowing water, the generator was useless. The entire thing had been rebuilt after a series of discussions with Rain back in Fel Sadanis. It now had a coil of alchemically-coated copper wire, wound much tighter and more evenly than the old paper-wrapped steel greatbow cable. It also was about twice the size, with a second chunk of ferrous iron—a magnet, to use Rain’s word—added to double the ‘magnetic field’. To accommodate the second magnet, the entire thing had been re-configured such that magnets remained stationary, while the wire spun instead. The coil was now what Rain called an ‘armature’ with a pair of ‘slip-rings’ to keep the wires from getting tangled. It was ingenious. Not being able to use it was infuriating.


If he could just figure out some way to turn the thing without having to crank it manually, they’d have all the light they ever needed. Magic was the obvious answer, but he had no Crysts, nor any skill as an enchanter. Besides, he didn’t want to use magic. Rain had said that it was possible to do without.


Asking Rain was the next obvious answer, after magic; however, Rain was busy up on the wall somewhere. Even that wasn’t an obstacle, not really. Staavo could have asked days ago, but he wanted to figure it out himself, and he’d been focused on the generator at the time. Rain obviously didn’t consider it a priority; otherwise, he would have come over to help of his own volition.


Staavo glared at the evertorch, then looked away, the glowing afterimage of the flames drifting across his vision. Evertorches were regrettably sufficient for their needs. They didn’t give off much heat, but they had bonfires and idiot Fire Mages for that. There was no need to get the generator working.


Damn it.


Staavo returned to his notes, determination driving his pencil as he sketched a piston, like the ones Tallheart had been building earlier for the suspension of his forgewagon. Rain had talked about something called a ‘steam engine.’ They hadn’t gotten into details, but the name of the thing was enough. If he could get steam to push the piston somehow, then he could connect it to a gear, and then use that to drive the generator. One campfire and a pot of boiling water could light the whole damn camp. Staavo smiled as he sketched, reveling in the challenge. Never underestimate a scholar.


A note from SenescentSoul
Post-chapter blurb, version 0.0.8

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AnthonyL ago

Thank you for the chapter.

SPOILER WARNING: if you are reading this in the future this spreadsheet might have been updated to future chapters.

Please wash your hands and stay inside if at all possible.

    Justice ago

    16 months - 115 chapters - 2066 pages since his last LEVEL UP (18) cap ! ☹️

    Author please give this poor MC some blue monster 19+.

      NesterII ago

      Damn, has it really been that long?

      Misery's End ago

      Think the time spent at level 18 is more important then the time since his level cap was raised. So unless the blue in question is going to push him to the next tier, I doubt he will be part of the subjugation force.

      manapotion ago

      The progression fantasy that does not progress.

      manapotion ago

      I thought he would find some way around the need for a blue, like some perk for unlocking all possible skill trees for his level, or some meta-soul programming

      Litrpg101 ago

      Yeah, I definetly thought something would have happened by now. It's a shame really.

      blackmamuth ago

      Depends on the blue, after all, they have very few decently leveled awakened, so if a level 20+ blue appears, who is going to fight it to reduce it? Ameliah and Tallheart would not benefit, and most of the awakened are low level, so maybe they aren't strong enough to kill it.  Jamus, stavoo or carten would benefit, (Not sure if they are Capped, In Rain's list it isn't mentioned)  so having them taking care of that as a team makes sense. since all benefit, instead of some High level not benefiting.

      Of course, best case is Ameliah subjugates that Blue, and a handful of unawakened awaken.

      I think rain Forgot to mention about builds, etc... most of the "commoners" would have no idea on what build go.  Also, I think Capped individuals should have a discount on killing blues.

      Also, since Rain is thinking on leveling up the crafter class, he may want to pick tallheart and specially ameliah brain on that. Ameliah being a jack and having all those skills, she may have access to hidden Skills that Rain doesn't know about.  just putting all the skills on paper, so people can browse ahead, it would be a godsend for planning their build.

      Onyavar ago

      Wouldn't the whole company benefit if everyone takes a stab at a level-20-blue before they finish it off?

      It works when you contribute only <0.1%, after all. It was how Rain got his 18 cap.

      DmitriyOD ago

      Blue can raise cap only to the top 8 with highest contribution. So if 2 high level participate, they already take 2 spaces by default.

      KKdemona ago

      IIRC, the Guild master was narrating something like other forms of leveling after someone gets above certain power threshold.. I don't remember it in detail though. Either way it seems plausible that Rain will discover that method, if it exist. From perspective of the story - getting higher cap by killing a blue may work for him with Ameliah and Tallheart, but it is unlikely to find high lvl one without going into a lair or wastelands, and I think things like that will happen in distant future.

      There was some limit.. I think it was 'a party, which member killed the blue', but I am not sure.

      Derze ago

      only 8 at a time though , hard limit there.

      Doramas ago

      That is not exactly how it works. If more than 8 people are fighting a blue, then the essence only goes to the party that dealt the final blow, even if that party is formed by less than 8 people. And I mean parties as in system recognized parties. Everyone in that party will get a new cap as long as they get a contribution of at least <1% instead of 0.

      That means 2 high level people can weaken and immobilize a monster and let other 8 people finish it off and awaken. You have to remember thatn when their health gets low enough, attacks that didn't do anything before start to cause damege and shave off health too.

      Sosseres ago

      I think rain Forgot to mention about builds, etc... most of the "commoners" would have no idea on what build go. Also, I think Capped individuals should have a discount on killing blues.

      I disagree. Awakened will earn many many more credits than unawakened. You need some way to promote new people instead of somebody gaining a single level.

      Perhaps just dividing the offer on amount of levels gained. So a level 10 blue example.

      An unawakened would gain 10 levels. Multiplying any offers they make by 10.

      A level 9 would gain 1 level. Thus gaining no multiplier on their bids.

      Making it likely high level awakened can get a decent multiplier on the truly good stuff. Thus factoring in higher credit gains a level 15 might offer 3k with a 3 multiplier and an unawakened offers 500 with a 18 multiplier for the same bid.

      Irrelevant Reader #1739 ago

      I don't think it's too late for that yet. I feel like that will happen eventually, but the author might have him reach a higher level normally before letting him break his limiter and surpass the concept of level

      Ayashi ago

      i see a lot of complaining going on about him being level capped.

      I'll point out that our protag struggles with dealing with level 12 monsters let alone monsters of his own level, so wanting to move onto an elite tier monster above his level should be the last thing on his mind.

      Irrelevant Reader #1739 ago

      Yeah, he'll definitely need some external help in buffing his level cap, because right now he's specialised in AoE and support rather than damage dealing

      DmitriyOD ago

      That is even more reason to move forward, he need new tools. And ability to fight without actually killing yourself.

      Ayashi ago

      The point is that the story needs time to grow the protag from level 10ish issues to blue lvl19+ encounters.

      "Random farmhand goes from killing rats to slaying dragons in an afternoon" makes for a good laugh but not for a good story. At least not if you want the story to last any significant amount of time.

      DmitriyOD ago

      He spent huge amounts of time on development, the great opportunity for rise was during shift arc. Sure, now the moment is lost it would be strange to meet another random blue on road.

      But he needs have some development as you say he has problems with lvl 12 monster. Yeah, he has but he will still have this problem 1000 chapters from now on if he doesn't rise his cap.

      His build is seriously lacking for group fight too. So he needs to progress to next class soon, as he can't rely on Ameliah forever, especially with additional risk from Tall heart's presence.

      ZorbaTHut ago

      Am I the only one who just doesn't care about this?

      The story made it clear, early on, that Rain is specializing for group combat and group effectiveness. Right now there's very few people in the group who are seriously combat-capable and the group as a whole needs power more than Rain does; in addition, Rain's power will be dramatically boosted by the rest of the group leveling up.

      I just don't see any need for Rain to gain levels right now. He's good at what he does - so good that he's bottlenecked by his teammates - and we need the teammates to level up more than we need Rain to level up.

      It's progression fantasy, sure, but progression doesn't have to mean a single number going up.

      starburst98 ago

      Rain explained the world is built around the idea of parties of 8. A single level 18 fighting a level 12 is actually amazing. The proper party for fighting a level 12 would have a collective level of 96.

      Amelia and tall heart could fight such things one on one because they are a higher tier, think of tier like a power multiplier, a level 25 is more than 1 level stronger than a level 24 due to the various bonuses their class gives them.

      DmitriyOD ago

      No, it was said for blues. So to fight lvl 12 blue you need whole party. For regular monsters people usually can kill ones several lvls higher.

      DmitriyOD ago

      The problem here is that he is just mana supplier and thats all. All his other skills are not usefull in group fights.

      Litrpg101 ago

      "Random farmhand goes from killing rats to slaying dragons in an afternoon"

      Is still better than, "Man does not develop his fighting ability or do anything else of note for five years."

      These last 30 chapters could be summed up with a few sentences and this chapter could be largely unaffected.

      ZorbaTHut ago

      He's figured out how to interact with an entire ancient technology, he's defended a city from invaders *and* monsters *and* thirst *and* heatstroke, he's put together a new Guild, and he's built up a slew of personal relationships. He's done plenty of stuff of note.

      starburst98 ago


      the level 12 he killed was an elite monster not a normal one. So yes it should have had a party take it on.

      seimsisk ago

      I don't get the obsession with level ups. He only got to his skill caps a few days ago, and he still has a lot to work on his stat synchronization and tolerance. Also he's making all this progress with the company, and there's just so much to improve on the company! He doesn't need to get stronger individually right now, he needs to get a whole company of people stronger, which I think is much more challenging!

      Babosa ago

      Right from the start this story said that this is nearly slice of life so I don't get why you guys are complaining like you were promised a intense progression fantasy. The system may make the story look like that and honestly there should be a progression fantasy in this universe but Delve is not that.

      Litrpg101 ago

      I know people might sound obsessed now, but let me assure you that the comment section wasn't anything like this 5 or 6 months ago. It's just that this story read almost nothing like a 'slice of life' story in the beginning. Rain made progress and met freinds. But recently, it feels like Rain is losing his focus, and has no drive. He's changing the world sure, but he's doing it at a snail's pace. We are more likely to get a whole chapter on Rain bitching about a political ideology than we are one with him actually doing something about it. If the world hands him an oppertunity, he'll moan and deliberate about for twentie chapters before, inevitably, going and taking it anyways.

      Also, people are hoping for a blue so the story might pick up pace. So much more happened to Rain when he was leveling. A lot happened to Rain during the whole 'Simpsons' arc, but you can't deny that the whole arc moved slower than a sick slug. Maybe since Rain finally left the city, something that should have happened before the simpsons arc, the story might pick up again.

      Also, that summary is relatively new. I didn't even know it was there. It didn't use to say that. (If that is what Babosa is talking about. I can't think of any other examples.)

      Gernia ago

      To me it seems like he is putting the cart before the horse. He wants change, but is trying to create this before he has the power to back it.

      If anyone in power finds his new way of looking at things to be dangerous to their powerbase, they can just send a single goldplate to kill everyone before they rise in power.

      Ameliah is propping up his entire group (combat wise), and as far as we know she is a silverplate. Why is Rain making this group when the risks are so high that everyone will be murdered?

      I like this story, but I'm however tired of Rain never taking the time to seek personal growth, and taking inane risks for everyone else.

      TheLeakingPen ago

      hard disagree. the last 30 chapters has been great plot and character development.

      DmitriyOD ago

      That monster was not killed by himself, there were other people helping a lot.

      And anyway, Val would be able to easily kill something like that at 18 lvl, as he gave pretty good fight even underleveled. Where if rain did not have all the equipment that is significantly better than what he should have had he would have been in even worse state than lvl 9 Val.

      Voracious Consumer ago

      These last 30 chapters could be summed up with a few sentences and this chapter could be largely unaffected.

      Depends on the type of story. This one focuses on the details, and that's okay. Very much in the Slice of Life genre. It's even tagged as such.

      Elaborate ago

      While I agree that Rain is vastly underleveled to lead a big company... with his friends to help, he's more or less qualified to lead a small one.

      His group is currently beneath notice except for Tallheart. Once he's awakened a bunch of people, that changes, but as long as they stay on the move in the countryside, with only the occasional brief town visit to resupply, Rain can keep word from getting out until they're around Silver-level.

      Silver is where things get iffy. Rain'll be nearly the same level as everyone else, decreasing his authority. Someone else might take power. Some people might cash out and leave to become adventurers, spreading the word. Ascension will recruit more members, thereby spreading information further. He will have a bunch of recognizably-Silver-level crafters to tempt asshole nobles. Spies and saboteurs will try to join up. The Empire will want his secrets.

      I'd give even odds on the whole Company collapsing at the Silver level, Rain barely getting out with 20 people, who can serve as the core of his next group - though this time he might level to Gold first.

      boonerunner ago

      I know that Rain said that they would bid credits for the chance to kill a blue, but how does that work, practically speaking? If a Blue finds them, it's not going to just sit around waiting for them to bid. And even if they did the bid beforehand, they can't just send out the 8 top bidders in a Party and tell them to kill the Blue; that would only work if the Blue was weak, and Blues are (almost by definition) not weak. So you have to decide ahead of time who the high-leveled helpers and who the low-leveled/unawakened candidates are going to be. But that ideal makeup of the party (and their equipment needs) could vary wildly depending what kind of Blue it actually is. Maybe they can handle the problem by sending out stealth/scouting specialists to find Blues without being detected, then they will be able to prepare an ideal party to deal with them (this was Tallheart's approach).

      itbe silly ago

      The biggest problem Rain will have isn’t collecting blues to awaken but convincing these people to Awaken supportive builds that don’t directly benefit themselves.

      Rain himself is somewhat crippled in the self-preservation aspect being an aura-mage, he wouldn’t survive without the support of a team.

      Putting yourself at the mercy of faith in other people is a massive hurdle despite synergistic builds amounting to 1+1 equaling 5 or even 10.

      Voracious Consumer ago

      @boonerunner That's a good point. Maybe they can bid as a team? But I think normally, it'd be 1-2 who "need" the blue, plus 6-7 carries to help them get it, though maybe the carries' max levels will go up slightly as a result too.

      starburst98 ago

      It depends on the level. If they find a level 5 blue then amelia can just put the thing in a headlock and the winning group can take turns hitting it with a stick.

      Misery's End ago

      Eh, depending on where they find it, I'm thinking it gets pushed into a hole and they throw rocks / shoot it with crossbows. Just hope it's not one that digs or jumps/climbs and all is golden

      seimsisk ago

      I disagree with your basic premise, that is, that you need personal power to get a chance at forming/protecting a powerful group. Rain's whole outlook is that groups of people working together are stronger than if everyone is fending for themselves, and he believes that the people of this world are basically weaker than they should be because they never have supports in their parties. I think he's right. Maybe the company lacks powerful individuals, but every single one of them can be buffed by Rain at the same time, and if they start taking Rain's mathematical advice in their builds, everyone will be a little stronger than other people their level. If they share their knowlege, they'll have an edge. And they're also gonna be walking in the middle of a ranked area, so they're probably gonna have a lot of fighting experience before they even have to worry about politics. Rain doesn't need to protect them personally, he just needs to be part of the party.

      seimsisk ago

      So much more happened to Rain when he was leveling.

      seimsisk ago

      So much more happened to Rain when he was leveling.

      I'm rereading the story and I found out that Rain got to his cap in chapter THIRTY SEVEN, before they even went to the first lair/dungeon!! That's forever ago! Pretty much none of the plot had happened! There hadn't been any really cool battles, because until quite recently Rain was super weak and couldn't make a difference in battle. He reached his cap right after learning Essence Well. In my opinion, the whole dungeon-crawling arc in the Mine was super cool, with cool battles and Rain almost dying, and Val going after the blue -- and all of that was with Rain capped.

      Then Rain got his armor, and learned to charge items, that was cool. Then there was the whole major plot of the city bubble barrier, where we learned about the Citizens and the Empire and all of that, and Rain became famous, we met a fuckton of characters of all levels of power, and Rain became the leader of a bunch of people, and if I recall there was a whole lot of fighting and training and leveling and learning about some metaphysical stuff. I just. Rain has been capped for pretty much the whole story.

      seimsisk ago

      I think it would be pretty funny if Rain somehow got a level 19 blue lol

      Can you imagine the frustation? Oh I'm not capped anymore, for about thirty minutes.

      Ayashi ago

      Pretty sure Rain just said that he wouldn't use one of the eight slots if that was the case. +1caplevel for him is less valuable than someone going from unawakened to lvl 19.

      Gernia ago

      Problem is the power disparity seen between gold and silver rankers further exacerbated by acolades. If a gold ranker want's Rains crafters and secrets, he can just take them and kill all the witnesses.

      Misery's End ago


      Will likely never happen. Why? Because the second it does, Rain either gets killed or enslaved. After that the novel starts shedding readers in droves. That's what it means to have plot armor. By the time the gold rankers or high end nobles notice what Rain is doing, it will be to late to do more then piss off the new powerhouse group. Individuals like Warden will still be an issue, but that is also a two edged sword for her. So while you're technically correct (because it already happened to an extent with Velika), it's not going to escalate to the point it effects Rain's end goals.

      starburst98 ago

      I want warden to try and mind whammy rain. but it backfires horribly because his mind copy is still running the macros and when it starts telling her soul to use spells she doesn't have she is basically incapacitated.

      Litrpg101 ago

      @seimsisk Eh, I still count leveling his skills as leveling. Also, him leveling motivated most of Rain's actions. Everything was 'if I don't get stronger, I'll die in this fucked up world.' Him getting a few levels would be great for his motivation. It would also be a great segway into more of the story. It just seems as if he's faffing about at this point.

      Also, I feel like Rain is underestimating what a 'few levels' can do. When one has complementary skills, their power can multiply with just a few levels. Just imagine if Rain had that one metamagic that lets him use two auras he wanted a hundred chapters ago.

      One more thing, I'm pretty sure Rain is pretty powerful for a level 18. I don't think your standard level 18 could take on hordes like he could. Maybe some prestegious people with good acolades, training and equipment, but surely not your average 18.

      Gernia ago

      @Misery's End

      Yeah, obvious plot armor is shitty writing though. Hope we get a better story, however horrible it will be for Rain.

      Misery's End ago

      Honestly dont see it as shitty writing though. The scenario you detailed could happen, or not, even in a real world. So within reason, the author's whim is just as valid as any other. Even in the case of Velika and Tallheart, the resolution ended up being her loosing interest due to being used by Westbridge. She might still turn up later and try to extort a sword from them, but I doubt it will turn out the same as it did before.

      boonerunner ago

      Personally, I count Rain's improvements to his synchronization as "leveling". He has also had some other improvements with link-sight, meditation, and system control (e.g. making a calculator and a word processor), but those improvements aren't as easy to quantify as "levels", per se.

      TheLeakingPen ago

      Exactly! he's found stats to improve, even after his "cap" . He might still open up hidden skills to read about by meeting their conditions through other actions, and he still has plenty of work to do by finding new ways to use his powers. he figured out a lot about auras and created the nova effect, theres other things to do.

      One thing... he's never had two people with the same aura use it at the same time. what happens in overlaps?

      what if he threw out a refridgerate nova and someone else throws a combustion? what happens where they meet?

Ansraer ago

How the hell are you guys so fast?

Has Rain realized that he is ruining the world view of scholars all over the world? Just imagined beeing a scholar and overhearing two common Ascension members casually discussing Analysis and discrete mathematics in a tavern.

    CalvinCopyright ago

    Ha! SenescentSoul, take notes, this would be a hilarious scene to have once they get somewhere that hasn't been hit by rank shift.

    Ayashi ago

    I can see the scholar getting bluescreened by it.

    a funny reaction would be for him to believe the barman simply spiked his drink with something funny...

    itbe silly ago

    It wouldn’t surprise them I think, Scholars have debated over everything from maths to the human soul since time immemorial.

    The only difference being that 150 years ago technology has advanced to the stage that we can parse the knowledge to the common Man, Woman and child at little effort or cost.

    The Maajistral that exists in the story is an example of this, it was always there but only to those in certain circles.

WhirlyKing ago

Thanks for the chapter.

Wow Rain is even worse than I expected. I know most of what he was talking about and I could tell that his ideas, while noble, were far too complicated for the current situation. He gets stuck on ideas and explanations too much. It might be because of his overabundance of Clarity or just a character quirk but he definitely needs to not be the one to explain things. Maybe he could confer with someone and have them express/explain the things he wants to talk about. Staavo would probably the one who understands him best but is likely only a bit better than Rain is considering his own attempts at writing. The scribe or Vanna seem like a better option though the scribe will probably be too busy writing down stuff and listening. He put Vanna as his second and command and should probably give her the responsibility of expressing his wished to everyone else. She seems good at dealing with the workers and not afraid to deal with the nobles. He needs to learn about delegating and making sure everyone focuses on their strengths. He's a good idea person but is quite possibly the worst at public relations. His amazing failure was amusing though since I just kept asking myself "why did you think this meeting was a good idea?"

    hakatri gin ago

    While his ideas are over complicated Rain clearly wants to get people on track with the system, its as much of a meeting as it is a training for the real meetings down the like

    He is not teachng them his ideas, he is teaching them to listen to ideas and to propose new ones

      WhirlyKing ago

      Yea I just found his presentation hilariously bad. He's explaining too much without the people having a proper foundation to understand. He needs to keep things simple until he can teach enough people the things he thinks they need to know. His tangents were also amusing in that it was Staavo who told him to stop.

    Babosa ago

    Rain is not good at public speaking so if he doesn't get some practice he can't lead.
    The way he talked while not ideal, it wasn't inappropriate, he wants to present his ideas and get people to start discussing, considering, evaluating and adjusting them. As far as any confusion he created by the amount he said and when he says words others don't know, the others are ignorant not dumb. Rain has plenty of time to explain things during breaks and while they walk.

      Elaborate ago

      Yeah. He needs to get regular feedback on how he's doing, so he can adjust his approach better. Otherwise, it'll be a good environment for some non-System growth.

      Doramas ago

      He wanted people to discuss his ideas until it became bothersome to him. He wants people to vote but without having any kind of debate. And when, oh surprise, people had doubts and questions, he "threatened" them into agreeing. It's like he wants everyone to have a voice, because they are all equal, but only if they agree with his obviously better ideas

      Babosa ago

      What are you talking about? The only time he interrupted was when people were arguing about who can be quartermaster and even then people were free to vote no if they didn't like it, he wasn't forcing them to vote yes. When did he threaten them? Not counting the soul thing he has no control of.
      Also how he set it up anyone can take over if Rain loses people's support so can can't force the group to go along with his ideas

      KKdemona ago

      Well, he glared them into submission accepting Vanna as quartermaster... What a tyrant! :)

      Doramas ago

      I was talking about how Rain glared at them until they accepted the candidate that HE had chosen. Even though there were people who belived themselves, Marhia and that noble, to be a better fit to the job, they were simply brushed off. Regardless of if they were actually right, they weren't given the chance to defend or promote themselves. The quartermaster had already been chosen before the meeting.

      All of this vote was a farse, a charade. Rain didn't actually want everyone to contribute. He wanted to impose the rules that he had tought of beforehand. His only reaction to questions, doubts and opposing opinions was to get increasily annoyed. Any time someone didn't agree with him, he forced the voting to get the result that he wanted.

      And let me make this clear, I'm not against Rain choosing the rules himslef. This is his company after all, no matter how much he tries to deny it. What bothers me is that he is trying to make it seem as if everyone is agreeing with him through this sorry excuse of "democracy", when most of them don't even understand what are they voting in favor or against of.

      Seriously, what is even the point of a vote if the people don't understand anything that you are proposing and you barren any kind of discussion or debate? Deciding on the fly if you agree with some overcomplicated rules is simply absurd. I can only see Rain as a hypocrite.

      Onyavar ago

      I somewhat agree with what you say there, Doramas, I had a similar feeling. It was either Rain or Tallheart who stifled further (endless) debates.

      Rain could have installed a whole governing system first, then opened it up for change at some later point.

      Yes, at first people don't get why this-or-that rule is necessary. So give them time to adapt and then "invent" a new rule so that it's no longer Rain who is the "benevolent tyrant".

      SyllavonBronkov ago

      I agree a 100% with Doramas, I actually got really annoyed at Rain in this chapter, that wasn't even close to true democracy, he actually just forced what he wanted. Like some cheap dictator trying to make people believe that it was their choice. I wonder if this was deliberate by SS and will lead in to a future conflict, I hope not, as I wouldn't be able to think of Rain as anything else but the villain.

      DragonWyrm ago

      Same. That was such a sudden shift.

      I understand Tallheart, but Rain ignoring questions and not giving discussion time. That was strange. I understand his glare (tired, soul keeps leaking), but not answering questions.

      elyalyn ago

      I don't think that at all. A lot of governments work that way. You elect the leader, and then the leader installs people into positions.

      In this case it's more like a US Supreme Court Justice. The leader nominates, and then the constituents confirm. In the US it's confirmed by representative democracy, as opposed to in Delve where it's direct.

      Rain got mad they were nominating themselves, which isn't how the system works. If they didn't believe the nominee could do the job they vote no since they need 75% to confirm. He should have allowed discussion, but some systems work where you vote, then discuss, vote, then try someone else.

      seimsisk ago

      I don't think he's a hypocrate exactly, just terribly incompetent at democracy. He obviously never had the chance to take part in a horizontal organization before, so his attempt at democracy ends up being dictatorial. It doesn't help that he seems to believe his worldview is just superior no anyone else's. But it also doesn't help that the culture he's struggling against is pretty terrible, so his prejudice keeps being justified.

      itbe silly ago

      Hey now, The Dictator let everyone vote in a fair democratic way, it’s not his fault they can’t appreciate the grandness of his Tank up close.

    heridfel ago

    I agree. Rain is making a typical smart-person mistake of assuming that everyone else is as smart/knowledgeable as he is. He is making a lot of proposals, enough that I doubt any of us would be able to remember them without looking over notes, and having people vote on them immediately without any discussion unless someone interrupts him. (That bugs me, by the way. There's a reason that Robert's Rules of Order lay out the difference between putting something up for discussion and calling for a vote.)

    At this point, most of the votes are just referenda on "do I trust Rain". Heck, we saw that many people didn't even understand what percents were! If this isn't leading up to a problem equivalent to the U.S. prior to the Constitutional Convention, I'll be a little disappointed. We even have a weak executive being set up.

    People need to understand what they're voting on, or the votes are essentially invalid.

      PlushyMoss ago

      Man he aint doing that. He knows that a lot of them dont really understand whats going on but you have to start somewhere so he starts by introducing rules that otherwise would have been default rules of the company so that people can start to get a feel for how it is supposed to go. This meeting to me wasnt about people understanding what was happening but to introduce them into how a meeting/vote is supposed to go/how it will go in the furture. It was about saying "to truly participate/understand the full benefits out if this company, understanding this meeting is the baseline."

      This meeting sets up things for the less educated to be asking others about so everyone can begin getting on the same page.

      msng ago

      I would add to that and say that he also makes a typical failing in assuming that democracy is the gold standard of leadership/governance. In reality, most organisations know that direct and public democracy for all members is just not that effective. Most militaries and businesses do not operate as democracies for a reason. And even in the few countries where it could be argued to be effective, there are checks and balances because of its known failings (e.g. independent judiciary, other unelected senior government members/civil service, age and criminal record voting restrictions, campaign finance restrictions, campaign advertisement/propaganda restrictions, continuous education on the need to use their vote, etc.).

      And then moving past that, he also wants to immediately implement a democratic system amongst people who are not used to such a system. No steady progression into this new system or sufficient education and preparation. Just jumping right into it. Because throwing people into the deep end is frequently seen as a good way to teach people to swim; rather than a good way to traumatise and/or drown people who cannot swim.

      All of which I find very realistic. Somewhat recently, well-educated (albeit culturally ignorant) leaders in the US tried that in South Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Countries that had no real democracy for at least a few decades, if not longer. So I believe this approach is very flawed, but also very believable. I am interested to see if this follows a Song of Ice and Fire / cynical branch, or a more Naruto / optimistic (good feelings and intentions triumph) branch.

      WhirlyKing ago

      I somewhat object to bringing up corporations as good examples of non-democracy but I hate corporations so a bit biased with that. Good points though on it being both believable and a bad idea. I think his failing though isn't about democracy so much as him thinking he knows what's best for people. It's fairly common for smart and well intentioned people to believe that they know the best way to run things without listening to what the people want.

      I think it's more likely to end up more optimistic but a lot of that is my own wishful thinking. I've never been a fan of stories with downer endings.

      msng ago

      Thanks for the reply and reading through a relatively long comment.

      When I mentioned businesses, I did not mean just large corporations, but also small businesses, family-run businesses, and startups. Some of them probably do run democractically, but that requires a rather driven and intelligent membership for it to probably be effective over the long-run.

      On the way it branches, I am a fan of both Song of Ice and Fire and Naruto. I like the grittiness and believable consequences of GRRM, but I think the power of friendship is also real. If not maybe as easy or quick as in Naruto. There might be some terrible friends out irl, but there are some good ones too. I am not fond of downer endings either, so I am hoping the author steers towards realism without melodrama. I quite like how he handled Mel's death with the nightmares and some angst, without going completely catatonic or murder-hobo. Especially considering how the MC was isolated at the time and had already lost his parents at an early age.

      WhirlyKing ago

      I too appreciate the realism. The setting is grim but doesn't become cynical and grimdark. I'm hopeful as well that it will continue to handle things as it did with Mel and the other's deaths.

      msng ago

      Always good to know there are other people with similar tastes in fiction! Hope we both get what we want.

    Nnelg ago

    Agreed. He's terrible at this.

    Some of his ideas are good though, and not just in principle. His idea of how a captain and quartermaster and (generally) equal shares is a tried-and-true method in real life, particularly on age of sail pirate ships.

    The credits thing is way too complex to work, though.

      WhirlyKing ago

      Yea and having a quartermaster in charge of the logistics is definitely the best thing to come out of the meeting. The Awakened seeming to think that there needed to be someone stronger in that position is missing the entire point of it. Vanna is clearly the best choice since she's already doing a lot of the work and her being an unawakened helps with making it clear that the company is for both the the Awakened and unawakened.

      The credits system is a good idea but explaining it as much as he did only really confused everyone.

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