A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Hello everyobdy and thank you for your support!

So Arcane continues to be excellent, and I will probably finish it in the next couple of days. I'll do a full summary on Tuesday.

So. Excession. It is a good book so far, but my God it is melting my mind. Full disclosure, I don't tend to read much sci-fi. I tend to consume my sci-fi mostly through, tv, film and video games. 

I've read like Dune and Starship Troopers and a bunch of sci-fi short stories, but I haven't really delved far into super hard sci-fi novels. Excession feels like the final boss of those novels. It's definitely a book that you need to read then digest. 

Will talk about it more as I get farther.

Anyway, onto Fool!

Messenger constructs were relatively simple compared to golems; they didn’t require a constant connection to a master or an ability to process mental commands.

Instead, they only needed simple enchantments that allowed them to recognize a destination, and then the ability to navigate to it. From there, they would use whatever form of propulsion that the creator had built into it and seek out the destination. The receiver would take the message and the messenger would then return home, bearing a reply or not, depending on its instructions.

More complex versions could travel farther, operate in areas without Generasi’s high ambient mana, and navigate directly to a recipient, no matter the weather. Some could even defend themselves against attacks or fight off anyone trying to intercept the message they were carrying using magic or force.

Alex had decided that for his purposes, he’d keep things high quality, yet simple: the messenger construct he was planning to make would be able to fly and navigate through things like fog, but he would leave out weaponry for now.

After all, it was going to be a present for a soon-to-be twelve year old.

He’d gotten the idea from Selina talking about wanting her own golem. When he’d been hired at Shale’s, they’d informed him that he’d gotten the job by sending a messenger construct with a letter. The construct had looked like a giant dragonfly. Remembering that, Alex had realized that a construct like that would make for a hell of a gift for his sister.

He was sure she’d like it since it was a construct just like a golem, and it’d be a cool way for her to communicate with him or her friends on campus. It’d also be a good teaching tool since they could talk about the internal construction of her magical messenger, which he knew she’d be really interested in.

Also, building one would give him practice in designing and crafting a new kind of magical item yet, it would be similar enough to a golem that he’d be comfortable trying to make one on his own.

He looked down at his design.

The messenger from Shale’s had been a dragonfly, but the construct didn’t have to take that shape since the shape of a flying construct didn’t really matter.

If he’d wanted to really bore her, he could design it to be a floating sphere like his forceball with a hook attached for mail.

He chuckled to himself; she definitely would hate that. For a brief moment, he entertained himself by imagining himself handing her a beautifully wrapped present only for her to unwrap it and find a big, red painted sphere inside.

‘See Selina? Now, you’ll be just like your lame big brother!’ he’d laugh maniacally while she glared at him. Or maybe punched him...

He shook the image away.

The key to making a messenger construct fly was a flight enchantment. There were ways to make one glide with just the wind, or with the wind and its wings, but true flight needed some kind of magical propulsion. And the thing with magical flight was that it made specific shapes unnecessary. Any shape would work. Even a hulking bull who’d drunk a flight potion would fly just as quickly as a lean creature who’d drunk the same potion, but giving the construct an aerodynamic shape, would definitely make it fly faster.

‘A well-designed caravel cuts through the sea much faster than a big, clumsy barge,’ he thought.

At least since the wings didn’t have to be functional, he could focus purely on aesthetics. He’d even heard of some custom messenger constructs that had like sixteen wings on them, though he had no idea what the aesthetic appeal of something looking like that was.

For Selina, though, he figured he’d go with something that she’d like. His sister loved Najyah, the prince’s familiar, and while he didn’t want to make a messenger construct that big, he thought she’d like something with a similar shape.

Alex flipped open a book on falconry from the library, turning to a bookmarked page on the anatomical structures of gyrfalcons, which showed them perching or in flight. Gyrfalcons were handsome, graceful birds of prey that were often bought and trained by royalty around the world, according to the book. Alex had thought they looked pretty cool, and Khalik had told him about one that was bought by a prince for twenty thousand gold pieces at an auction in Ar-Bishah, in the deserts south east of the Prinean Sea.

Alex shook his head: one of the worst mistakes he’d ever made was not being born rich.

His diagram for the construct copied many aspects of the falcon’s body structure; he’d made sure to get the proportions as close as possible to the real bird. Taking up his pen, he continued sketching out the wing using The Mark to enhance his skill at drawing, but recently he’d run into a bottleneck.

When he’d first started learning certain skills using The Mark, he’d grow by leaps and bounds almost every day. As his successes built on each other, The Mark had more memories to draw from, which increased the rate he was growing at even more. Lately, though, he'd noticed that with certain skills, his level of proficiency wasn’t really growing as much anymore.

His sketches were pretty much life-like now, and he could create them very quickly. The Mark had helped him learn how simple shapes came together to make more complex shapes. How a series of long ovals could turn into the feathers of a wing once he erased certain lines. With these principles down, he continued getting faster with his sketches, but he wasn’t growing much further as an artist.

The Mark in no way inspired him to paint wondrous things from his own imagination. He’d once had the idea of trying to improve his imagination, so he’d thought about when he’d imagined creative stuff in the past.

The Mark had shown him images of when he’d thought up wild ideas, but it hadn’t provided anything new.

That had led him to come to a hypothesis: that maybe The Mark might eventually hit a limit when growing someone’s skill since it couldn’t generate creativity on its own. And innovation often came from creativity. So Alex could grow his technical skill in art all he wanted: he figured he could copy paintings he’d seen hanging in the school’s main castle, but to think them up? He didn’t have that in him.

And so, the bottleneck.

Yet, in something that he was passionate about—like alchemy or baking—he found he could continue growing as he gained new experiences and tried new ideas.

Another potential limit had occurred to him when he was researching dances for the ball: the limits of his body. Different races created dances for their unique bodies: like the Hoof Parade Dance of the Centaurs. Alex didn’t have hooves or four legs, so there wasn’t really any way for him to learn it.

It all made him wonder if any of the other Marks had limits too.

It sounded like they might have some, just from what he’d heard about them.

The Mark of the Champion granted an individual massive strength and speed, and the skill and experience of all previous Champions. In some ways, it was like a reverse of the Mark of the Fool. The Champion would get all of their skill and experience front-loaded, and then be granted physical abilities that allowed them to use that skill, instead of having to learn all of it on their own at an accelerated speed.

It was convenient, but there was a bit of a trap in that.

If The Champion wasn’t already a skilled fighter and just decided not to grow after receiving The Mark, then they would stagnate. The possibilities gave him something to think about while he was drawing, and he’d become skilled enough that his mind could wander without him making a mista-

He paused, looking down at the diagram.

He’d made a mistake. Of course.

Sighing, he erased it.

Once he’d finished sketching out another part of the diagram, he looked over at his ingredients list. Like with Claygon, he’d be making a sort of ‘core’ that’d be able to interpret the simple instructions the construct would be given while it was delivering a message. The core would also power its enchantments.

A flight enchantment would be built into the core, as well as an alchemical replication of Orb of Air, which would cut down on wind resistance by surrounding the construct in a wind-shield when it flew. Finally, he would design the construct’s core to give it enough power to lift small packages and power it outside of Generasi’s ambient mana. He figured the construct would make for a pretty poor gift if it was just a dead hunk of metal whenever Selina left Generasi with it.

The design would make the ingredients more expensive. Expensive enough for him to want some extra coin.

He glanced up at Claygon.

“I hope you’re ready for combat, buddy, because you’re going to be getting plenty of it soon.”

“Oh? Are we being invaded?”

“Oh Sweet Saint of Alric!” Alex swore, spinning around.

Theresa had approached him from behind, as silent as dead air. She gave him a crooked smile. “How’s it going?”

“Well, it was going well and then I think you cut ten years off my lifespan. Come ‘ere.”

He spread his arms.

She cocked her head, and her black ponytail bounced behind her. “Why?”

“I wanna hug.”

“Get Claygon to hug you,” she said, and a slight smile fought its way across her lips.

Alex shrugged, looking at Claygon. “Guess you’re my girlfriend now. Or boyfriend, I guess. …Rock-friend?”

“Oh by Uldar, Alex.” The huntress rolled her eyes and hugged him. “Why are you such a dork?”

“I know you are, but what am I?”

She groaned and buried her forehead into his chest.

He chuckled. “What’s up?”

“Nothing much,” she said into his shirt. “Selina’s with Khalik, Brutus and Najyah. I finished my geography book, so I thought I’d see what you were up to.”

“Not much, to be honest, just working on Selina’s present,” he said.

“Oh yeah, the little bird messenger?” She slid out of his arms and looked down at the diagram. “Well, I don’t know what all the little symbols mean, but it looks like a bird. But what’s this I hear about combat?”

“Oh, well I was thinking.” Alex glanced up at Claygon again. “Remember when we beat the xyrthak and Baelin said that the class might be able to do some monster hunting on our own?”


“And how our payout from the dune worm looks like it’s going to be pretty big?”

“Oooooh.” Her eyes lit up. “So you’re thinking about doing a little bit of hunting for some extra coin?”

He shrugged. “Why not? With one less class, I’ve got some free time, and if we go an entire summer without a fight, I’m gonna get rusty. And lazy. And flabby.”

She chuckled. “You, Alex Roth, want to go hunting monsters? On his own initiative? I never thought I’d see the day.”

“Hey, I signed up for Baelin’s class! And defeated two mana vampires…and those claw monsters!”

“Which is all really awesome, but like…I dunno. This is different from taking a class or getting attacked. It’s different…monster hunting on your own, that’s like ‘fireside story’ kind of stuff.”

“It’s for coin.” He shrugged. “And besides, I’ve got a killing machine with me…and also Claygon.”

She burst into giggles. “Now you sound like my parents. I’d love to come with you, if you’re hunting monsters in the countryside or Barrens.”

He smiled, reminded of that night nearly a year ago when Theresa had walked into his room and asked to come with him on his journey to Generasi. The more things changed, he supposed, the more they stayed the same.

“I’d love to have you come with me. We could make a date out of it!” he joked.

She froze, looking at him closely. “Alex…are you asking me to go monster-hunting with you? As a date?”

He paused, his mind whirling quickly. Did he really just say that? Had they even been on a proper date before? Oh by Uldar, they hadn’t! He’d just told his girlfriend that he wanted to take her to go hunt monsters for their first da-

“That’s awesome!” A huge smile broke on her face. “I’d love that!”

His breath was nearly knocked from his body as she hugged him again, with her enhanced strength.

“I’ve always wanted you to come hunting with me!”

“Y-yeah,” he said, using The Mark to keep a straight face as he slowly hugged her back. “J-Just as planned.”

He glanced at Claygon. ‘If you’ve got a mind brewing in there, do not ever let a word of this slip out to anyone!’

Alex pulled his cloak around himself and glanced around the crowd, and then at Theresa, Selina, Khalik—who had Najyah on his shoulder—and Claygon.

Brutus was ‘guarding the apartment’…by probably sleeping. Theresa had promised to bring him back some food.

He scanned the crowd again, just in case there were any priests of Uldar around. It wasn’t likely, and they’d checked the square from the sky-gondola, but it still made him nervous.

Alex looked up ahead. “Well, let’s get to it.”

Above them rose Generasi’s City Hall. It was the furthest Alex had ever gone into the city.

A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Alex up in here forging the Maltese falcon lol. I expect approximately three of your to be old enough to understand that joke lol.

Alrighty, that's Fool for the week! I'll sees ya on Tuesday!

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