Chapter 1 - Playing with Fire

"You've been to Earth?"

Kaede's eyes were as wide as saucers, as she stared unblinkingly at the Worldwalker amidst the barren, wintry forest. The two women were taking a stroll through Ceredigion's woods, not far from the main camp of the Lotharin army.

"Third orbital of Sol? Indeed," Gwendolyn nodded. "The first realm I visited after I began traveling the worlds."

A bittersweet nostalgia spread across her lips as she leaned back against an oak tree:

"I was rather depressed and wanted to leave everything behind. So I found this beautiful lake on a rainy, forested island to relax in. But it seems that once you're a queen, you stand out no matter where you go. The tranquil years passed, and I eventually came to the attention of a local Prince in search of help."

"I take it you turned him down, treaty and all?" Kaede mused as she munched on a mouthful of lamb stew, its warm bowl nursed between her small hands.

"The Treaty... has far too many loopholes," Gwendolyn scoffed with a disdainful smile. "It's what happens when you force a complex group together to draft a compromise, when all each of them could think about was their individual political gain. From what I've heard, the wartime unity of the 1st Generation Worldwalkers had already fractured by the time of the treaty. And too few of them came from administrative and legal backgrounds to understand proper law-making in the first place."

So, worse than a day at the United Nations, Kaede thoughtfully nodded.

Most people never seemed to understand that 'defeating the evil empire' was the easy part compared to what came afterward. Destroying a reviled system was simple. Creating and negotiating a new, functional administration that would be satisfactory to everybody? That was exponentially more difficult.

To set rules that governed the actions of immortal archmages with world-rending powers? Killing Hitler suddenly sounded like a quiet, afternoon walk in the park.

"But I digress," Gwendolyn continued as her smile returned to a calming serenity. "I didn't want anything to do with that local Prince at first. However, he was so righteous -- kind, passionate, and not just handsome but cute as well..." Gwendolyn closed her grinning eyes as though enjoying a pleasing dream.

"So, I tiptoed around the treaty a weee bit. Worldwalkers aren't allowed to hand out artifacts or leave behind any equipment 'foreign to the standards of the realm', to use the legal term. However, we are allowed to discard locally made tools that we just happened to temporarily bless for our own use -- you know: like animating tools to do the household chores since we can't bring any servants from world to world, other than our familiars."

Kaede had to chuckle, as the image of a Queen who achieved immortality washing her own dishes drifted across her mind.

"Assuming the blessing is finite and the spell isn't archmage tier or above, nobody really cares. Therefore, I temporarily blessed two swords -- both for my own use, of course," Gwendolyn grinned with a wink. "It's not my fault I only needed them for a minute and my magic easily lasted decades. I even tried to prevent mortals from using them by shoving one into a rock and throwing the other into a lake! Because you know," her sarcastic tone now saturated her voice, "that worked so well with the others."

Kaede almost snorted the lamb soup she'd been eating out of her nose.

No wonder why we have so many tales finding random magical swords! Rocks and lakes are not effective means of weapons disposal! At least use the Marianas Trench or an active volcano!

Meanwhile, Gwen's gentle laughter slowly faltered into a faint grimace.

"...That story didn't end well. Taught me a lesson too."

"That can't be right," Kaede suddenly realized. "You said you've only been 'Worldwalking' for a few centuries. No mythical swords had been pulled out of rocks on Earth for well over a thousand years!"

"Time, is a fickle spirit when you journey between worlds..."

Gwendolyn rubbed the familiar's head as the much-younger girl stopped within reach to pause and think.

"--I wouldn't overthink it, dear," she added with a peaceful smile. "After all, the universe must keep some secrets to itself."

Earth's astrophysicists might scream heresy at that, Kaede thought.

"Then..." the familiar girl gulped down a breath of courage. "Would it be possible for you to take me back?"


Kaede felt like Gwendolyn had just punched her hopeful, innocent heart; proverbially speaking of course.

Shot down, so easily! Not even the slightest room for negotiation!

The Samaran familiar wasn't sure if and how she would say goodbye to the still-unconscious Pascal. But it was always better to know her options ahead of time.

"That really hurts, Grandma."

She had meant to say Obaasan, an appropriately respectable way to address the elderly in Japanese. But some terms just didn't translate.

"Grandma? Now who's the hurtful one!?" Gwen was still smiling though as she feigned outrage.

"But," Kaede paused for a brief moment before deciding to tag along. "You're over several centuries old!"

"--And my heart is still romantic and young!"

"...Plus you have great-great-great-grandchildren!"

The Worldwalker's meadow-green gaze did darken this time, sending a chill up Kaede's spine in an instant.

"Don't remind me, after how idiotic one of them turned out to be," Gwendolyn answered, the pressure in her voice immediately put an end to the conversation.

A true queen would always remain a queen, no matter how many centuries passed by.

"But why can't you send me back to Earth?" Kaede returned to the original subject. "Is it because of the timeline fluctuation?"

Male body or not, if Kaede's only choice was an Earth in a different time period -- when her family and friends did not exist -- then Kaede would rather not return at all.

"The time issue isn't insurmountable, just... complicated," Gwendolyn brushed aside the topic as though it were obnoxious legal code. "But the simple answer is that it's against the rules."

"The treaty between the Worldwalkers that you spoke of?"

"Yes," the elderly lady nodded. "Just like intervention in mortal affairs, cross pollination of individuals between worlds is forbidden. We're allowed to spread ideas ourselves through conventional means, otherwise it becomes a gag order on all interactions with locals which no Worldwalker wants. But it stops at that: no propaganda spells, no evangelical armies, no interdimensional cults; an equal footing between us all on each new world we step into."

"Then how do you explain my presence here?" Kaede spread her arms, one hand still holding onto her bowl. "Captain Markov -- he's a Samaran skywhale merchant -- once surmised that the immortals must have played a joke on me, since it's abnormal for a Samaran to be 'born' in a fully-grown body, luggage and all."

Gwendolyn brows furrowed:

"Well, I admit. Your case is... peculiar. Not that I'm an expert on Samaran reincarnation, you understand."

Do politicians like you always leave a back door? Kaede scowled as she crossed her arms in challenge: "does that mean you also believe that a Worldwalker likely had a hand in me being here?"

The former queen pursed her lips:

"It's possible..."

The Samaran girl gawked in awe as Gwendolyn bit her bait... or at least nibbled on it.

Ever since Kaede heard the theory from Captain Markov, she had acknowledged celestial interference as a possibility, however remote. The arrival of Gwendolyn increased the chances, as it not only proved the existence of the fabled Worldwalkers, but also showed that under the right circumstances, they did and could intercede upon mortal affairs.

But to seriously consider her arrival on Hyperion as not just Pascal's doing, but the intervention of divine forces as well. It would imply that a Worldwalker had hijacked Pascal's spell as an opportunity, perhaps even boosting it with the power to reach across worlds. But that would also mean that Kaede's summoning was no mere coincidence. She had been plucked by some fateful search criteria to become a pawn in the political chess between timeless beings.

"But why would they choose you? To what purpose? What motive?" Gwendolyn stared back. "As far as I can tell, you're just a bright, curious, but otherwise fairly average girl. There's no evidence, or even implication, that some machination of divine politics is at play."

The Samaran girl deflated at once.

If even a Worldwalker could not see any obvious evidence of misconduct, how was she -- a young girl without even any spellcasting ability of her own -- ever going to find it?

"I have to admit though," Gwendolyn added. "If your presence here truly is a part of some greater political scheme, then it is an impressive play indeed."

"But... it doesn't make any sense though," Kaede puzzled. "If the Worldwalkers banned cross-pollination of individuals and ideas, then doesn't that mean that the Samarans' very nature breaks the law?"

Gwendolyn shrugged as she made one of those 'it can't be helped' looks.

"The Samarans predate even the First Generation Worldwalkers. Obviously, since several of them are Samaran. Of course, many of us never cared, since the Samarans are also the least likely to force their ideals onto others."

Kaede tilted her head in perplexity, and Gwen simply mirrored it with a grin and her own tilt:

"It's almost a racial behavior for them. You included."

With her thoughts turned inwards, Kaede had to agree. She had introduced many ideas to Pascal as potential 'solutions' to problems he faced. But very rarely did she try to impress ideologies upon him, nor did she hold any great desire to. One could even argue that she had always been this way, possibly as a byproduct of her cross-cultural education and heritage.

Are Samarans mostly like this? How much did it contribute to me becoming one?

It only raised more questions that Kaede would like to ask Captain Markov the next time he brought King Alistair.

"Though in either case, you can't send me back to where I came from?"

"No," Gwendolyn put down her foot, albeit with a sympathetic look. "However, if a Worldwalker was responsible, then I know whom I'd suspect first. I wasn't even alive yet when she made her famous intervention. Nonetheless, I can only think of one individual who has both the skills and the foresight to take advantage of your presence here"

"A name would help," Kaede's enthusiasm sparkled in her rose-quartz eyes.

"Sure," Gwendolyn grinned. Clearly this did not violate any code of 'immortal conduct'. "But keep in mind that names are as fickle as the wind for many of us, especially the older Worldwalkers. The one I speak of -- I call her 'Tara'. It was the identity that I first met her in, but she has at least a dozen others."

Tara? Kaede searched her mental archives and came up blank. It was far too simple and generic of a name to begin her research with.

"She is better known as the Grand Strategist during the Dragon-Demon Wars. Though I recommend you start with the Great Eastern War fought between the Polisian Federation and the Great Khanate, predecessors of the Grand Republic and Dawn Imperium. Focus on its great turning point at the Battle of Samara and the man responsible for it," the older women added. "His victories and his allies' reforms are what transformed the region into the modern Grand Republic of Samara."

Kaede nodded. The Samaran Captain had given her the exact same example, which was a good sign of not only its correlation, but also the availability of its information.

"What was his name?"

Gwendolyn bit down on her lip in thought.

"It's hard to pronounce, so I may not be saying it right. But I believe his name was... Subotai."

The familiar girl's eyes almost popped out of their sockets.

Kaede had never encounter a greater irony: that the only man who managed to conquer Russia on Earth was responsible for forging it in another world.


How could a man whose military conquests led directly to tens of millions of deaths somehow be reborn with the serenity of a Samaran?

Kaede was still in her little world when a cell phone ring tone began in the back of her head, jolting her out of her reverie. She sat in the tailgate of a small, covered wagon that carried Pascal's unconscious form. A bump in the dirt road rocked the carriage at the same time.

Magic always seemed to adjust to the user, even in the case of her earrings' ability to receive Farspeak.

Must be Onee-sama calling, Kaede thought as she gave it a mental 'click'.

"Hello. You've reached voicemail box of Kaede S--"

"Cease whatever joke you are playing at, Miss Familiar," Kaede immediately recognized the serious tone of Karsten, Pascal's Majordomo in his Nordkreuz estate. "Is your master -- His Grace -- available? I've been trying to reach him for two days now."

"He's... unconscious," her voice darkened. "Injuries from recent combat..."

"Then why are you fine?" Karsten snarled. "Is it not your duty to protect your master?"

Kaede wanted to retort. She had been kilopaces away when Pascal cast that reckless spell. How could she have helped? Yet, at the same time, she was also the reason he experimented with magic beyond his comprehension in the first place.

"I was in a different battle... his orders."

Even Karsten couldn't reprimand her for that.

"I hope you're taking proper care of him then," his stern voice rang as authoritative as to the estate's other servants.

...And in Karsten's eyes, Kaede was exactly that: a servant of the House of Moltewitz.

"I am, and he's slowly recovering," Kaede tried to sound reassuring. "May I ask what you are calling about? Perhaps the Princess would like to know as well."

"The Princess does not need to be bothered by such trifles," the Majordomo reprimanded. "Though it may help if you inquire one of her advisors. We're running into some... business trouble... here in Nordkreuz. The Public-Private Investment Partnership that His Grace created before departure has developed some questionable behavior as of late."

Kaede's lips twisted. She should have expected this. Every economic reform throughout history has run into its share of road bumps and, occasionally, massive pitfalls.

"What's the issue?"

"Do you remember the North Sea Company -- one of the three created by His Grace?"

"Yes," Kaede nodded. Pascal had established a company to spur the redevelopment of each Nordkreuz sector: public infrastructure, industrial workshops, and trading/docking facilities. The North Sea Company's responsibility was focused mostly on the port itself.

"Stock values in the company have been rising at a phenomenal rate," Karsten continued, his tone growing increasingly worried. "I believe this is normally good news, as the stocks are openly traded and its rise in value will boost confidence and bring in more investment. However, Her Grace, Cardinal-Chancellor von Lanckoronski, have expressed concerns that the changes are... 'too unnatural'... which is ironic since that better describes her own deviancy."

You mean her love of young boys, Kaede snorted a little. Even she had heard the rumors by now.

"...At any rate, the guild leaders say that the availability of capital should not double and triple from nothing. Yet the city is awash with rumors of how quickly the company could profit, once the Skagen Peninsula's territories are annexed by the King's peace treaty with the Northmen. They claim that there is great wealth in the north, with new products like cocoa and sugarcane soon to enter the market to earn a fortune..."

Kaede frowned. Assuming things remained similar as they often were, cocoa was a product of the new world. Both it and sugarcane grew in tropical climates, and certainly not in the cold north. Weichsen soldiers no doubt acquired batches of it during Operation Winter Typhooon, which in turn made its way back into Weichsel to energize public curiosities. But the Skagen Peninsula -- if annexed -- could hardly yield any such crops!

"The traders within the city should know better!" she retorted.

"They do, and many of them have actively opposed these rumors." Karsten declared. "Yet they continue to spread, as if all voice of reason has been pushed into a corner. It doesn't help that even when one rumor is dispelled, another -- such as claims that the Northmen's silver mostly come from their peninsular mines -- replaces it."

Kaede furrowed her brows. This was an ominous sign. The marginalization of accurate information requires propaganda, purposeful propaganda. Some entity was actively spreading false information to engineer public opinion, then switching gears to distract the populace once they have achieved their aims. It reminded Kaede of just how vehemently her father cursed the western media for its blatant lies during the 2008 War in Georgia.

"These rumors are causing... 'speculation', as the Cardinal's supporters describe it, to run astray," Karsten added. "One local guildmaster claims that all his apprentices have sunk their savings into the company. Because of such rash behavior, the North Sea Company's stocks have multiplied tenfold over the past few weeks, achieving total values that -- according to the Cardinal's agents -- surpasses even the gross value of Nordkreuz combined before the air raid."

The Samaran girl bit her lip. The story now sounded familiar enough to clear her doubts.

Someone at Nordkreuz -- likely a group of shareholders for this North Sea Company -- had learned to game the new system. The false rumors were almost definitely started by them, and the rampant speculation was fast forming a 'financial bubble' where asset prices grow to be implausibly, unrealistically high.

If such a bubble was allowed to keep growing, it would eventually burst. The collapse of the Japanese Assets Bubble in 1992 ruined an entire generation to stagnation. A single company in Nordkreuz should not have such catastrophic results, but with public confidence on the line, even a small disaster could ruin Pascal (and her) attempts to introduce modern finance and investment.

"Karsten, please listen to me -- this is a potential problem that Pascal foresaw in our discussions," Kaede told an outright lie to fabricate some authority for her following statements. "The Cardinal's supporters are partly correct, although the guild leaders probably hold ulterior motives of their own as they never liked the idea to begin with. The North Sea Company is developing what we call a 'bubble', and if left unmanaged it could spell disaster for Pascal's new economic policies. We must nip this problem in the bud by popping this bubble with a sharp needle."

"His Grace always did show foresight," Karsten spoke as proudly as a father would. "He has left instructions then?"

"Yes." Kaede's thoughts were running on overcapacity now. Even for her this was frontier territory, as she had no experiences at all when dealing with finance. "We're not sure if this'll work. But -- Pascal suggested pulling out all of his initial investment in the troubled company at once. As the original shareholder, his stocks represent a sizeable slice of the pie and will surely cause a noticeable dip in the company's asset value.

"People will notice, and their confidence will waver. Seize this opportunity and spread a counter-rumor that the North Sea Company is facing a crisis of mismanagement and lying about their future prospects. Use the estate's maids, footmen, deliverymen -- anyone you have access to propel the rumor..."

"The maids and footmen, spreading rumors!?" Karsten sounded insulted.

"Karsten, please. More is at stake here than just the honor of the house," Kaede pleaded. "Someone is likely manipulating the system in a most treacherous attempt to earn a greedy profit, perhaps even sabotage Nordkreuz."

Now that she considered it, Kaede would not be surprised if the whole incident was deliberate sabotage. The Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin once warned that "Imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism." But by the same token, capitalism could be monopolized and controlled to aid imperialism. The Holy Imperium of the Inner Sea certainly has a history of tying military and economic expansion together. Weakening Nordkreuz by sabotaging its economy certainly played to its geostrategic interests.

Faced with the dire circumstances, Karsten replied with only a begrudging "...I understand."

"Once the rumors begin clashing and the stock prices waver, you should openly, publicly confirm the Landgrave's loss of confidence in the company using your position as the estate's caretaker," Kaede steadily hammered out the plan's supporting elements. "It will discredit them, hopefully delivering a Coup de Grâce to the whole charade. Meanwhile, put a trade-ceiling -- a daily limit on the value of stocks bought or sold at once by any investor -- on each individual stock. Consult the guild leaders on what is the yearly earning of a new craftsmen and use that figure. This will stop the culprits from trying to hide the stock's decline using their own funds, but also help protect the poor investors if our actions are successful."

"But the estate cannot control all of this!?" The Majordomo countered.

Kaede twisted her lips. This was the biggest problem of new ideas. There isn't enough system set in place to manage everything -- to control, to supervise, to enforce.

Then a lightbulb lit.

Weichsel was a near-absolute monarchy, which gave one body the highest authority to... interfere as they saw fit.

"File an official appeal in Pascal's name to the King's Black Eagles in the city," Kaede answered. "Ask them to enforce these actions using their authority. Request them to monitor and report on anyone who attempts to retrieve sums exceeding five times the daily purchase ceiling. This should require only a few agents from them. Tell them there may be foreign subterfuge at play when they demand why. Pull in the Cardinal-Chancellor for extra leverage if you need."

Kaede still remembered when the King personally named the Cardinal as the overseer for this endeavor. If some catastrophic failure were to happen, Cardinal von Lanckoronski would not be able to escape responsibility either.

"Understood," Karsten confirmed.

"If our counter-offensive proves successful, the North Sea Company's stocks will begin a sharp decline as people lose their confidence and pull out their funds," Kaede stated. "Once the fall begins, I want you to slowly re-inject ninety percent of Pascal's pulled funds over a six-day period to stabilize its descent. Let the company collapse, but not all at once, so the people's losses may be mitigated."

Kaede left ten percent so Pascal wouldn't lose everything he had thrown in. An early pull would net him tenfold earnings to spend. Since this was his money, it was best if she could return his original investment and not... earn a beating.

She doubted he would. But Pascal did have a scary temper.

"Do you understand everything that I've said?"

"Yes." Karsten confirmed. He even rephrased a list of all the actionables, which rather impressed Kaede given how new the subject must be to him.

Though that's not really surprising, Kaede smiled to herself. After all, Pascal was allergic to stupid people.

"I'm not keen on such rapscallion behavior, you understand, the Majordomo added. "But I believe I understand its necessity."

"I have no doubt that His Grace will be thankful for your sacrifice," Kaede grinned. "Please keep me apprised of day-to-day development. I'll see if any of the Princess' advisors may weigh in on this problem before Pascal has recovered."

"Understood. Please take care of His Grace." Karsten was almost imploring. "I'm counting on you."

With a mental 'click', the Farspeak call ended, and Kaede took a deep breath to calm back down.

It was her first experience with just how much power she could wield through decrees in Pascal's name. Not a lowly rank like Pascal the Captain or empty titles like Pascal the Crown Prince Consort, but the one position that Pascal truly held authority in: Landgrave.

Even a slight taste of it felt... intoxicating, in a self-righteous sort of way. Her conversation with Karsten began with him patronizing her. It ended with her giving him a list of orders to carry out.

She had better be careful with this power, especially as her influence with Princess Sylviane grows. Plenty of trusted, close advisors have lost their heads because they grew overconfident in issuing orders in their master's stead.

Kaede stared back at the supply train that she was now a member of, with over a hundred wagons following behind the main army. It was often too easy to forget how many pieces must be in position for history to be made. The people who worked in the background were often forgotten by everyone except scholars, but that did not mean they lacked the power and influence to affect the world.

The Samaran girl was still gazing into the distance when she felt a faint stirring over her familiar link. The placid void she felt instead of Pascal's consciousness was growing active once more, radiating waves of awareness, discomfort, even confusion and pain. Then, just as Kaede spun around in uncertainty, she saw a twitch from his exposed right hand as his arm tried to lift it up.


Relief and joy flooded across her mind at once. The driver turned around to stare but she didn't even care. She scampered over to Pascal's side and took his shaky hand into her own. A warmth filled her entire body as she felt the weak movements of his fingers.

The healers hadn't been sure when he would awake from his coma: perhaps this week, perhaps next month, perhaps never. It was a miracle that he survived at all. To be conscious again after just six days' time -- some higher power must be watching over them.

She felt his weak arm trying to reach up. With his right hand arrested by her grip, he tried next with his left, steady with noticeably better control this time.

"Don't..." Kaede caught his other wrist before it could reach his face. "Don't take off the blindfold. Your eyes haven't recovered yet. You'll go blind."

"K-kaede?" A sickly, raspy voice emerged from Pascal's parched throat. The healers had kept his body fed and hydrated through Sustenance spells. Though it clearly wasn't enough. His body continued to tax itself in a low fever, gradually repairing the horrendous damage taken from the directional thermonuclear blast.

"Don't..." She added before remembering. "Don't tire yourself out. Just speak to me by telepathy."

Kaede thumbed the back of his hand as she stared at his pale cheeks. She felt her eyes grow blurry as she brought his fingers up to her tender cheeks. His touch was cold and clammy but she didn't care. She was just glad that he was back among the living once more.

The pain and nausea that ebbed over their empathic link was growing. Pascal's body was clearly still in a state of recovery from the acute radiation poisoning that -- had this been on Earth -- would have easily killed him. His next appointment with the healers wasn't until dusk, when two of them would cast Regeneration, Cleanse, and Invigorate on every one of his damaged organs and muscle groups again. 'Magic' was the only reason he still lived, and even then, the healers wasn't sure yet on how much of his bodily functions he could recover.

Yet, despite his misery and agony, Pascal's first statement had nothing to do with his own personal well-being:

"I failed... did I not?"

Kaede could almost feel the tears that leaked from beneath his blindfold. With her own palm, she cupped the hand still feeling its way across her cheeks and pressed herself into it. She wanted him to feel the smile that he could not see, to sense the joyful tears and be reassured that all was still well.

There was so many, so many things she wanted to say to him. But at the moment, none of them seemed to matter. Just the fact he was still alive was enough for her, for now.

"No, you didn't, she replied. "You blew away the Caliphate's entire right wing -- their best cavalry brigade by survivor accounts. It did hurt our forces as well..." She didn't try to hide. "But, in the end, we won."

Pascal didn't need to hear how exactly they won yet. There would be a time for that later, when he was feeling better and not stuck in depressing blackness.

There was an audible sigh of relief as Pascal relaxed in his wagon-bed. Then, as a hot tear dripped from Kaede's eyes onto his fingertips, his blindfolded eyes turned towards Kaede once more:

"I am sorry..."

"You... idiot!" the familiar girl choked back a sob. Unable to hold back all of her thoughts, she let one leak, just one:

"Did you even have any idea of just what kind of fire you were playing with!?"

Kaede almost burst into tears as memories of that night came rushing back in. Thousands of burned out tree husks that stretched on for kilopaces. Tangles of blackened limbs as soldiers dumped bodies onto corpse wagons. She would have thought Pascal dead had it not been for her own life. Yet the state she found him in wasn't much better -- with severe burns covering him from head to toe and entire patches of inflamed red skin sloughing off.

A mental sigh emerged from Pascal as his feeble fingertips tickled her cheek.

"I am sorry to have worried you..." He replied slowly with a tinge of regret, and Kaede remembered that he could acutely feel her emotions -- much better than she could feel his. It offered him a perfect mental image of her expression, even if his eyes couldn't actually see.

"But..." He continued more forcefully. "It was a necessary fire to play."

"And just whom do you think would be happy if you had died!?" Kaede retorted. "Your father in heaven? Your fiancée? Or your King?"

Kaede knew that she herself wasn't even near the top. Pascal would always uphold his social obligations first: as an heir, as the crown prince consort, and as a vassal lord. In his growing list of responsibilities and priorities, Kaede ranked somewhere far down, somewhere closer to his own personal safety.

...That was the price of the 'special bond' they shared.

"That is not for any of us to decide," Pascal added dryly. "Unfortunately, only the Holy Father can ultimately decide where my fate lies."

His comment knocked Kaede off balance, leaving her staring back in surprise.

She couldn't quite grasp it yet. But, something about Pascal was... different. Something beyond merely his injured state.

This wasn't the same Pascal she had left before the Battles of Lysardh Point and Glywysing.


"The Lotharin Rangers estimated that out of almost ten thousand Cataliyan troops who arrived on the battlefield, less than a thousand escaped." Kaede briefly explained the Battle of Glywysing's final outcome.

Pascal replied with a thoughtful nod.

"And our losses?"

It felt odd for Kaede to not see his clear, turquoise gaze, only the black blindfold wrapped between his golden light curls and his pale, faded cheeks.

Even his emotions seem to have vanished from their empathic feedback link, leaving only his ebbing pain and nausea behind. Pascal must have suppressed it, and the master-to-familiar channel was not as sensitive as its reverse. Kaede could only sense powerful sentiments through it to begin with, or moderate emotions if she concentrated. But now, there was almost nothing on the other side.

It was as if she was talking to a faceless... well, certainly not a stranger, as he was easily recognizable even with his blindfold. But it just felt... weird.

"We... lost around twenty-five hundred out of our four thousand troops," Kaede noted, trying to sound positive. "The lowest casualties were actually on your flank, as your spell destroyed the enemy right wing wholesale. However, it also left your wing so disorganized and shaken they hardly participated in the remainder of the battle."

"I see..." Pascal sighed.

An uncomfortable silence settled over their private channel, while only the creaking of the wagon wheels and the chattering of distance drivers disturbed the air around them.

"Pascal, please... don't block me out like this."

"Then speak clearly," he countered, his harsh words almost accusatory. "What are you not telling me?"

"W-what are you talking about?"

The question came so sudden it caught her off guard.

"I'm blind, not stupid, although I guess there is not a huge difference," Pascal sighed bitterly. "There's no way we could have won that battle if my spell neutralized both sides at once. My entire gamble rested on blowing away the Cataliyans' right wing so that my troops -- still fresh -- could smash into their flank. Their deployment was premature which gave us a short window of opportunity to knock them off balance. Otherwise, there was no way our outnumbered and underequipped soldiers could win!"

Without much of a choice, Kaede told Pascal the whole story of the battle as she heard it: of how the Lotharins had lost the town, how the Princess had been pressed to the brink of defeat, only to be rescued by divine intervention. She avoided mentioning Sir Robert and Lady Anne's death or how it nearly broke Sylviane, but... Pascal was also too smart for his own good.

"So... in the end, what I did mattered not at all," Pascal took a deep exhale.

The void where his emotions had been suppressed returned once more. Kaede could feel the gloom of guilt spreading from their empathic link. The dark fog soon took on a sickly hue, turning to one of disgust, even loathing -- hate not directed towards anyone else, but at himself.

"Pascal..." She felt his anger tore into her own emotion, stabbing into her heart like glass shards.

It smashed her calm self-control as though a raging bull in a China shop. Her eyes grew teary once more as she realized why he was trying to bottle everything in.

"What do the troops say about me?" He demanded next, as if already knowing the answer.

"Pascal..." Kaede pleaded, tears brimming her eyes once more.

She hadn't even realized that she dropped out of telepathy and spoke through the real air.

"Pascal, please. You're overthinking things."

"J-just answer the question, you silly girl," his raspy voice blurted out. "What do the troops say about me?"

For a moment, Kaede gawked back as if she had just been slapped.

One crucial moment -- that was all it took for him to learn the horrible truth.

"They're calling you the Deathbringer," the wagon driver spoke out with barely-concealed contempt, perhaps even hate, in his tone.

55 thoughts on “Chapter 1 - Playing with Fire

  1. Velrix

    Kaede is maturing, it's great. After all even before he was just a teen, now she has to make herself truly at home.
    Kaede is here, this world has to change.

    The more pressure and hardship she will endure, the more she will have impact on this world. All the path are opening; War, Counseling, Merchant or intelligence office...
    She has the intellect to rivalise the genius Pascal, she is her half, so now it's time to show it. A meek girl is cute when she is young and live in a pink world, but she is now a commander in front line, genius historian, sister of empress. She has four near death experience where she hasn't meekly await her death, three were she has kill in this near death, she has multiple trauma but she endure and do not break, a diamond will have to form !

    More pressure, and more hardship... Kaede will become a sight to admire for future generations of historians.

  2. izik1

    I finally caught up on this, and wanted to say just how much I enjoyed it ^-^ okay, it's a lot. I really enjoyed reading this, through the fun and the sorrow, it has been one of the better things I've read thus far, and I'll keep looking out for any more chapters in the future. (I have a terrible habit of waiting, so even if you drop this, I'll still be waiting)


    I suppose I'm a bit late to the party as I marathoned up to here in the past 10 or so hours, but I have to say they were 10 hours well worth.
    World building is often my favorite thing to see in works of fiction. It makes whatever environment or world so much more compelling. It adds an extra layer of immersion as well as shows dedication to a project. But Hyperion takes it a step further and demonstrates the contingency of human interaction on an international scale. It's easy to create a work in which the environment revolves the main character. It's not nearly as but still reasonably easy to create a static environment. However, representing the interaction of many individual key actors and how the culmination of their imperfect decisions affect the geopolitical environment, is hard to say the very least, and something I don't think I've seen more than a couple times outside of this. I hesitate to my inexperience in both history and fiction, but I do think Hyperion does this justice.
    And to balance out the world building are the characters. World building is often the neglected aspect, but if all I wanted was world building than I'd read a history book. World building makes the story more immersive, but characters are a core component to make the story interesting and to give it stakes. This is another point where Hyperion excels, with exploring character psychology. I though volume 3 was wonderful, exploring Sylv's bipolarity and how it very nearly ruined her was well handled to say the least (my guilty favorite scene was the end of chapter 8 where Kanade wishes herself a Merry Christmas, and in the following bit where her suffering gets concrete acknowledgement and attention was so so satisfying, my petty self wants it to leave an eternal scar on Sylv).
    Some commentary on the work itself: My favorite character is Kanade. She's the one that has a mindset closest to that of most readers, and is often kind of an anchor character. Some minor qualms I do have was the synopsis did say that "[pascal] received more than he could bargain for - and in return so did the world", so I had hope Kanade would have a more significant impact. I do anticipate that to change with her now in a prime position of more influence, but I'm kind of tentative of how the shift is happening. That is to say, yes, Kanade is gaining more profile, but the way she's integrating Earth ideas seems a bit too...Light Novel-esque. It feels like Kanade is implementing ideas that she feels are "superior to the current system" for lack of better word (stock market, checks on monarchy) without fully understanding the context, complexity, or drawbacks. Particular in the case of the former, and I'm probably less versed in the field, but I'm not sure that implementing stock markets was a wise choice on her end, considering the massive unpredictability of the entire system. It is one thing, however, if Kanade is intentionally setting up systems without fully understanding them, and the result of that and the different culture of Hyperion and Earth create unpredictable outcomes, in which case I'll have to wait to see how that turns out. However, Kanade's response to the Stock Market bubble felt a step deeper than "trivia" level which was kind of jarring, since Kanade has only supposedly finished high school level curriculum, and Japanese curriculum not western curriculum. Aside from that, I really am enjoying the work. My reading comprehension is pretty bad so it's entirely possible these may have been pointed out but I just missed a sentence. Thanks for the chapter, and I hope the next one comes out soon!

    1. Aorii Post author

      Thanks a bunch for the detailed feedback ^^
      It might have helped if you actually spelled Kaede's name correctly once... as for some of your thoughts about her:
      (1) Kaede is a modern character. She's very handy to use since much of her reactions aligns with someone of today. But she's also a character who loves to learn and holds knowledge on a higher pedestal than all others... which I feel is something you've missed in the following comments.
      (2) I've gone over in v3ch5 already that concepts like Stock Market is not new to Hyperion. It's only new to Weichsel. And it's a natural evolution of advanced markets accelerating growth and the more merchantile states (Samara, Inner Sea) already reached it. Just like ending of volume 3 makes it clear that Constitutionalism checks and balances are not something Kaede introduced. It's something Sylv came up with in order to help guide her own behavior and life, and Kaede is simply astounded to see how bipolarity can also have such a positive side-effect since most people rarely self-assess their strong biases.
      (3) I do not understand this presumption that Kaede should only know what a Japanese high school might teach her (and Japanese standard history education is TERRIBLE). Is it so hard to believe that someone who LIKES history would go read history on her own outside a classroom setting? Especially when v3ch1 highlighted that Kaede had a university professor for a father whom she openly discuss geopolitics with? She has also expressed a desire to have a career in the subject since vol1. The economics knowledge used in this chapter is based on a very famous historical event (the South Sea Company Bubble) and anyone who has the slightest interest in economics in history is likely to have heard if not read some about it.
      (4) I rarely go into great depth on any topic within a single chapter, because I prefer to have such subjects slowly evolve while having characters discuss it in real time (for example the Stock Market concept is dropped all the way back in v3ch5 and it's not until v4ch1, when their implementation actually encounter issues, does the topic come up again on some of its dangers and necessary oversight). I generally feel that discussing subjects like economics in a vacuum, without present circumstances to work off of, feels like I'm just infodumping what you could have read in a wikipedia article. Therefore any concept, when first introduced, might feel a bit shallow.

      Daybreak has a lot of details crammed in between every conversation, and I feel like in the 10 hour marathon you missed much of it.

      1. SACCFFT

        I did I did miss a lot. (Embarrassingly enough mispronounced Kaede's name the entire time in my head - did I mention my reading comprehension is really bad (I'm sorry)). I haven't gone through and read all of the other comments, but I very much appreciate the clarification!

  4. bobjones

    Haven't even read it yet but I'm stoked there is a new chapter out thanks for your hard work just want to comment first

  5. Kryto

    Oh man welcome back! Right away we're dealing with some heavy fallout. Pascal has a lot on his plate right now. Some interesting backstory and economics thrown around too. Where did Kaede learn how to manage stocks like that haha.

    Thanks for the chapter!

  6. nipi

    (mumbles) "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
    "What did you say miss?"

    Oh crap. You brought in time shenanigans.

  7. Sortale

    I predict other empires will try to research the nuclear spell given the demonstration of its feasibility. much like soviet/USA coldwar [probably with similar result]

    How would the King respond to a vassal/potential head of rival empire possessing such magic/technology of mass destruction is also interesting to speculate. Also the diplomatic consequences of using weapon of mass destruction would be a contention issue.

    also maybe other empires may form a coalition against the possession of such spell [sanction, active war, sabotage, assassination etc... similar to USA sanction to north korea for similar reason]. As if it can be replicate can give an enormous advantage to the possessing side. Even if they have to sacrifice an average mage each casting. The result should be like the USSR/USA division of block with a nuclear-capable country at the lead.

    I am surprised that no assassination attempt have been made on Pascal yet considering the number of factions that would want him dead, from disgruntled soldier, faction inside the Rinth empire, the threat to the Wesch King, aside from opposing army who no doubt have spies in the Princess army. It seem the perfect time to strike given the vulnerability of a recently engaged army.

    Also I am not sure if this have been discuss but have there been any mention of a magical engine run by yeowmen [aside from leyline machine]? consider a massive cold storage run by constantly casting ice spell. or a steam engine run by fire/kinetic spell? phantom horse to pull carriage?

    1. Hakurei06

      Nuclear proliferation would require several obstacles to be cleared:

      1. Technical knowledge of what just occurred.
      So far as anyone can tell, he let out a beam of light that scoured everything in its path. This isn't the manhattan project, where the Russians were taking notes. They don't have a Kaede to go over "High School Physics". They didn't know that a spell of this magnitude would be cast and It'll take more than a single casting they weren't paying attention to to get what happened and how it occurred. Letting Pascal repeat the feat in attempt to gain more information is also a terrible idea. How many battles would you have to lose, how many objectives would need to be sacrificed to possibly recreate the spell of mass destruction that he's unleashing on you?

      2. Technical Ability to replicate it.
      So far as I can tell, this is supposed to be an archmage class magic. Maybe 1 in 5 archmages would be capable of reverse engineering it, but they'd have their own tricks up their sleeve. The other alternative would allowing entire teams of mages blow themselves up in the attempt to recreate it, but mages are already a limited resource. Not only are they useful on the battlefield, they're also usually at least lesser nobility. I know some people consider lives cheap, but noble lives are expensive.

      3. Logistics for 1 and 2. How much Time, money, and people are you willing to devote to this task? How much of those do you have that aren't being used on other concerns?

      The obvious solution would just be to kill him.

      1. Sortale

        you are assuming that any foreign power would have to start from scratch.

        assuming all empires in this conflict already have a think tank on military technology, pursuing a variety of technologies with varying degree of success [and the bigger empire usually have bigger think tank], some report of this event would have reinvigorated research into spells of similar appearance.

        while the technology that Kaede share with Pascal can be considered secret for now, the basic structure of the spell is not entirely unknown as Pascal in turn was taught by a Wesch military officer [who did some research into that area]. Considering an opposing nation with bigger budget and incentive to compete and the estimated time and effort required to replicate it would shrink considerably [again like the USA/USSR nuclear situation which took 4 years ]

        not to mention Pascal did testing of the spell previously and assume that he would constantly be spied on due to the nature of the active conflict and his political position. I would argue that it is entirely possible that the spell can be replicated in a year. possibly sooner if Pascal or his entourage let slip or leak info by accident or coercion.

        1. nipi

          "Pascal had spent an entire afternoon for the conversation that followed, during which Ulrik passed one of his personal inventions -- a catalyst spell that could mimic the sun's power. But there was a catch: the ether required to initiate the spell was tremendous, yet the overall output efficiency was far lower than that of traditional elemental spells. Ulrik had already given up on this path of research when Pascal called.
          In other words, it was a spell catalyst that lacked a cascading chain reaction. But thanks to Kaede's "high school physics", Pascal knew roughly what that missing elements were:
          Extreme pressure and hydrogen fuel."
          Would I be wrong in guessing that magic "fills in the gaps" in the casters knowledge drawing more mana from the caster as compensation? And tisk tisk, there is no chain reaction in a fusion reaction.

          As for mages of other nations. They would probably be suspecting a new chemical reaction or something. Im not sure they even know about the structure of atoms. There are plenty of ways to get heat and light. He and Kaede should still be the only ones that know about fusion. Well there might also be some worldwalkers but they can get the knowledge and more by simply visiting Earth far enough in its timeline/causality.

          Surely Pascal took precautions against spies. And most anyone aside from Northmen would glean little from his trials. He is a rune mage after all. Its also questionable if he used all the needed runes in his trials as he had trouble carving them with the needed precision.

          As for assassins. It might take some time until he is singled out as the caster. And at the moment his survival is questionable so why make a move.

          Not to mention that the whole thing might be written off as a miscast spell gone horribly wrong. Or maybe divine intervention.

          1. Sortale

            well he is famous in the troops/healers group [basically everyone] as the caster of the spell. it is also certain that he would be heavily spied on due to his position that he is marked for dead would be evident on the very first spy report.

            and the thing that singled out this type of spell would not just be light and heat but radiation. symptoms of radiation poisoning would be endemic and prominent. If other spell of nuclear nature were tested these would also be of noted, making the comparison inevitable.

            I must agree though the odd that such similarities are put together can be low

          2. nipi

            Its questionable if anyone has ever before cast a sufficiently radioactive spell to cause visible symptoms of radiation poisoning. Fusion is after all relatively clean. And I doubt the know about radioactive isotopes let alone play around with them.

            Its one thing to ask a spell to mimic the Sun even if you dont know the processes, its another to ask it to do something you dont even knows exists.

          3. Sortale

            let's pare my argument down then.

            "Ulrik passed one of his personal inventions -- a catalyst spell that could mimic the sun's power"

            so the spell is available for fusion [arguably for fission]. There is economic interest in such research branch. this research was done by a small country [Wesch] [or one person]

            Imagine a bigger country, more test, more record, more monitoring.

            the odd still low but not as low as you make it out to be.

            besides nuclear power is not limited to fusion, this spell may spur research into fission which would be some kind of terror in the end.

          4. nipi

            "But thanks to Kaede's "high school physics", Pascal knew roughly what that missing elements were:
            Extreme pressure and hydrogen fuel."

            Fusion without pressure and without a fuel. Im still saying they are getting effects without knowing whats happening. Magic is cheating. See my first comment to you.

            And the means to observe whats happening at the atomic level probably dont exist. Otherwise Ulrik would have known as much as Pascal learned from Kaede. Pascal does describe him as "infamous" and "the only spellcaster Pascal knew on Hyperion who focused on light-based offensive magic."

            While for fusion deuterium and tritium are the easiest fuels to fuse, regular hydrogen-1 is still feasible. For fission you really need radioactive isotopes in high purities. Cant get a chain reaction without them. And asside from Uranium-235 all other weapons grade isotopes are man made. Other isotopes have too long half lives for achieving critical mass or had too short half lives and have long since decayed and are thus near non-existent in nature.

          5. Sortale

            I think I should capitulate now on several points.

            I hope I was able to make some valid points?

          6. nipi

            I feel its plausible that foreign powers are now more keen to see Pascal dead. I just feel that they would have more doubts than you outlined. "The effect might have been accidental but what if it was not? What if he perfects the spell? Maybe we should devote a bit more resources to killing him?"

    2. Aorii Post author

      Also unlike Earth, this is not the first time Hyperion has seen Mass Destruction Spells. I've been dropping hints in regards to the southern continent's wastelands for a while; there's also Admiral Winter's past of wrecking a whole invasion fleet using acid rain spells (and carrier aviation).

      You'll notice very few military leaders have ever been assassinated during a campaign. Why? Because in assassin(s) vs army, army always wins. Reality just doesn't mirror Assassin's Creed xD
      There're plenty of enchanted 'machines'. Cold storage was back in v1. Or most recently the Levitation-powered elevator in v3epilogue.

      1. Sortale

        I mean Earth have stories of mass destruction [the Bible flood, Ragnagok, certain African tribes have mythology of warrior that can wreck the earth]. It is not entirely the same of course, but to know about the past mass destruction and to know about contemporary mass destruction would be very different. [imagine yourself thinking about the mass destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, of course, it's terrible, but notice the distance from the atrocity, the firm conviction that it would not be you who's on the receiving end of it, that you are safe from its threat. Contrast that to someone living under the cold war when the threat is real which spur people into building fall out shelter and missile defense.]
        I don't think it's equivalence the example you present
        the acid rain is much less powerful in many ways [It is much less overwhelming and can be ward/counter among other things]. This nuclear spell make wholesale destruction on a similar area [smaller? how much smaller? I have terrible sense of scale in novel]

        even though the rain spell may cost less raw mana [unsure?] to make it is still an Archmage level spell. Pascal no matter how gifted he is should be nowhere near that level which any dossier on him would show. So aside from the spell itself the secret would also be how Wesch manufacture enough Archmage level individuals that it can just dispatch with minimal protection?

        It also beg the question of Rinth/Wesch having hidden Archmage/Spell of national import. the fear alone would be enough to spur diplomatic maneuver.

        Also you notice how nuclear bombs are equated to such and such tons of TNT. If it's the same why not just drop that amount of TNT? Practicalities aside [size, transport, etc...], the point is it is easier to manufacture a nuclear bomb than to manufacture that many TNT. The similarity is also presented here: it is easier [less mana intensive, less mage skill require] to make this spell than to make an equivalence spell of similar magnitude. Any spies who observed the situation would not fail to see the implications.

        While I conceded that I have no historical research backing my claim that assassination in army is relatively frequent [I would quote the fail assassination of Oda Nobunaga while retreating but anecdotes are not data]. I should note that military officials usually have a security detail which Pascal lack at this moment in time [the Princess Armigers only?]. Also noted that a successful assassination would sometimes [most of the time?] registered as dead by natural cause.

        That said assassination is rife in politic [Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Archduke Franz Ferdinand] and attempts need not be restricted to a person's physical well being. Mental, Psychological, social all can be used to manipulate a person in many ways.

        [illegible mumbling about yeowmen social class]

        1. Aorii Post author

          Producing a nuke is extremely difficult due to the expenses (both time and money) of nuclear enrichment. Uranium fuel straight out of the ground doesn't react as needed. Compared to that, achieving implosion is actually much easier (Chinese nuclear program scientists calculated the necessary force equations with only pencil & paper; not even a calculator). TNT is actually much, much cheaper. The reason nukes are a thing is because of their size. Miniturization = ease of use. There's aren't any ICBMs capable of lifting a 20kt payload.

          Well, despite the prevalence of ninjas in Japan and many, many clans wanting him dead, Oda Nobunaga was never assassinated; nor was any of the unifiers. It took the Honnō-ji Temple Incident -- a military coup launched by one of his top generals -- to achieve that. Military officers' security detail are mostly small in properly organized armies (Roman generals don't even travel with bodyguards within their camps). It's the encampment's security detail, checkpoints, patrols, hidden watches, etc. that makes infiltration/assassination hard.

          Political leaders are much easier to assassinate because it's hard to control who approaches them =P

          1. nipi

            As Ive understood it making nukes has a high initial cost because of all the industry you need to set up. Once you have the industry they are relatively cheap to produce. Making them just takes time if you dont scale up the industry.

            The soviets were looking into peaceful uses of nuclear explosions. Not much point in making artificial lakes with them if conventional explosives in quantities that provide the same yield are cheaper.

            But maybe if was just part of the nuclear craze.

            And I found a nice propaganda video:

          2. Sortale

            I was wrong then


            quoting this book [unsure about the author authenticity?] it seems assassination is common in Japan at least in the Sengoku period assassination is common and that "The confusion of the bartlefield might also allow the opportunity for an assassination to take place." and the security detail is usually the difference between life and death for the general.

            the assassination I mentioned is also in this book.

            an assassin name Sugitani Zenjubo was hired to make an attempt on Nobunaga life. He fired 2 shot both hitting Oda but fail to kill. The shots are stopped by Oda's armor.
            I had a look around and while most illustration depicts Oda as being in a military procession no written source actually claimed such. I found the presence of the armor lend credence to the idea that he is in an army though [weak evident I agree].


            I am under the impression that the bost of nuclear war head is more in the design of the carrier than in the fission material itself,

            I mean if it cost less for TNT to deliver the same explosive/energy output as nuclear then we would not have nuclear power plan. we would just have TNT power plan.
            while the logic is faulty, it shows that in term of power delivered per cost, nuclear should be ahead by a certain margin. The most basic nuclear power plant is just having heat eater off the chain reaction then turn to useful energy. switch to explosive reaction for the same heat eater would not be too much of a stretch.

            I do agree though that initial cost for setting up enrichment facility maybe unimaginably huge and that cost have to factor into the calculation.

            so I concede that an atomic bomb may not [does not?] costs significantly less than TNT bomb for equal out put. I wish to revise my argument to that nuclear energy unlock more power for cost

          3. Hakurei06

            Well for starters, R&D aside, most of the cost of nuclear weaponry production is enrichment. Nuclear power feedstock doesn't need to be enriched nearly as much as weapons grade materiel.

            Also, do you know what's even cheaper than burning Trinitrotoluene? Not having to produce a bunch of nitric and sulphuric acid and burning the crude oil you get toluene from.

          4. nipi

            Yeah its expensive to separate nuclear isotopes. Aside from having a slightly different weight nuclear isotopes are the same. While chemical reactions can be used to separate different elements for separating isotopes you need to run the gaseous ore through centrifuges again and again and...

        2. Hakurei06

          Distance? Weichsens live right next to an entire mountain range that's been denied to any life for the foreseeable future because of the magical equivalent of a genocide-induced dirty bomb.

          1. Hakurei06

            "The vampire clans were wiped out centuries ago by the not-yet-Holy Imperium, although not before their curses destroyed sixteen whole legions and left the Dead Mountains perpetually filled with murderous mist..."
            –Cecylia Renata von Falkenhausen (Daybreak on Hyperion Volume 1, Chapter 13 - Scarlet Cultural Exchange)

      2. Hakurei06

        Y'know, the more I think back on the whole 'powerful energies'/High School Physics conversation the more it picks at my nerves.

        Pascal asked about the most powerful energies and Kaede replied with the four fundamental forces. For one, energy and force are not equivalent. They also aren't, strictly speaking, the most powerful. Gravity is easily overcome, you can get up from your chair without it coming along with you. Earth, an object as massive as 5.97 trillion trillion kilograms, exerts only 9.8 newtons of gravitational force at its surface; the amount of materials needed to escape orbit is trivial in comparison. What makes them fundamental is that they're not composed of underlying forces in the way that chemical elements are elemental because they aren't made of other elements. So to continue the analogy, it's like asking about the chemical properties of water and being lectured on the atomic makeup of hydrogen and oxygen. Furthermore:

        Electromagnetic was easy to grasp. All trained battlemages learned the fundamental physics of lightning to better imitate its armor-piercing killing power on the battlefield.

        Easy to grasp? Electromagnetism isn't just electricity. Does pascal understand the electromagnetic force's role in chemical bonds? The strong force may bind atoms together individually, but what binds them together collectively would be the former. There's also its role in light. It's called electromagnetic radiation for a reason.

        1. nipi

          Pascal can be forgiven for his ignorance and for certain applications his knowledge is probably very good. Sort of like Newtonian gravity was believed to be able to explain the movements of all celestial bodies until a closer look at Mercurys orbits was taken.

          What picks at my sensibilities is the:
          "In other words, it was a spell catalyst that lacked a cascading chain reaction. But thanks to Kaede's "high school physics", Pascal knew roughly what that missing elements were:
          Extreme pressure and hydrogen fuel."

          Clearly Kaede failed that test. There is no chain reaction in pure fusion. A chain reaction is what you have in fission.

          1. Aorii Post author

            Electromagnetism isn't hard to grasp because both electricity and magnetism are easily observable. Furthermore, as Hyperion science understands molecular chemistry, they have to have a grasp understanding of how electrons work as well. (remember volume 2 when they discuss synthesizing prussic acid as a weapon).

            Sustained fusion requires a chain reaction. Heck, sustained ANY reaction requires a chain reaction as it requires one reaction's heat to energize another. I have no idea where you're pulling the "only fission chain reacts" from. The energy requires to start a chemical reaction from stable molecules doesn't start from thin air.

          2. nipi

            For some reason I was under the impression that in nuclear physics a chain reaction refers specifically to fission. Might be because fission gets addressed as such quite often while fusion does not.

            My bad. Point taken.

  8. John Connor

    That was impressive chapter, thanks. Not everyone ever heard of Tara the Green or White as you pictured in samaran side story because GuanYin is the most famous in Asia. Anyway, thanks again for the update.

  9. Glacierfairy

    This is a fantastic start for a new volume! Victory is won for now, but the price to Pascal is simply too immense. Even if he could fully recover physically, I fear his psychological scars would remain with him forever. This would definitely make an interesting topic to explore in this volume.

    Also, I like the reference to the South Sea Bubble and how you emphasised what many other fictional works sidestepped or glossed over: the post-war recovery process.

    1. Aorii Post author

      Post-War Recovery is also way harder than the war itself so I often find it criminal that it's so often ignored in media...
      And yay, someone recognized the reference xD
      For everyone who doesn't know it, this is famous:

  10. Hachi

    Great first chapter Aorii! I really liked the economics, since I was sitting alongside Kaede nodding in agreement. The first scene with Kaede conversing with Gwen was really nice too, since it ties in perfectly to Flowers. You've taken an interesting direction with Pascal, and it makes sense with the results and fallout of his actions. It had completely slipped by mind that there would be social consequences not only with the officers and court, but especially with the common troops.

    Seeing Pascal like this results in this strange blend of sympathy and satisfaction. (I might be becoming a sadist... -_-;) My personal hopes is that this becomes a learning experience that tempers and matures him some more, and perhaps a parallel development whereas Sylv and Kaede are the ones that come out even more mentally tough and independent than before. I'm too tired to say much more, but thinking that Tara might somehow be involved makes me really curious for what the future holds for Kaede, if it really is true.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Aorii Post author

      There's a saying that the more an author likes a character, the more they want to torture them. ^^'
      (but usually that's not the case for readers =P)
      Most novels have a degree of causality that I find underwhelming.
      And Sylv is independent enough =P This'll certainly push Kaede into the spotlight more.

  11. MechaKingGhidorah100

    Holy shit new update and gosh was it sad. Kaede getting screwed over via literal divine bureaucracy and on top of it all it is pretty clear that Pascal is undergoing a major crisis in self-confidence and considering what we have seen of Kaede I imagine she is going to feel all the more awful about even giving him the idea. On top of it all he gets slapped with nickname that shows that the troops pretty much consider him to be a General Ripper. I definitely have a feeling he thought Kaede was exaggerating a smidge when she likely described nukes as the doomsday weapons they are.

    Great chapter and I am definitely excited for more.

    1. Aorii Post author

      Just note I only said divine intervention was a 'possibility'! =P
      I'm not sure anyone would believe what nukes were capable of unless they say it for themselves. Even Oppenheimer was shocked.

      1. MechaKingGhidorah100

        I was more meaning how Kaede is stuck on Hyperion because of the crosspollination law as I would say that if one of them did sneak Kaede to Hyperion that would be more a case of divine politicking :P.

        And yeah it really does take seeing nuclear weapons to realize the sheer scale of them and with Pascal knowing Kaede's heavy anti-war tendencies I imagine he would chalk even more of it up to exaggeration. How much has Kaede explained to Sylvianie during the time between the end of Vol 3 and the end of this chapter in her exact role in "inspiring" Pascal? I imagine that would be an interesting conversation as while I doubt Sylviane would blame Kaede Kaede would likely blame herself. Also really interested to see what Edith and the more religious characters view Pascal and the situation as a whole.

        Depending on how badly Pascal is viewed among the other nobles/officers I can see Kaede deciding to take the blame for herself and saying that she was the one who convinced him to use it while deliberately not mentioning the radioactive fallout. It would still be bad for Pascal it would direct anger and blame away from Pascal who is the Princess's fiance and future general (and depending on how badly Walther and the other Weichsens view his actions could be sacked or simply have his authority reverted back to that of a Major) to Kaede who currently practically doesn't exist to pretty much everyone that isn't connected to Pascal in someway so having all the important people being mad at her would certainly suck wouldn't be nearly as bad as it being directed towards Pascal.

        1. Aorii Post author

          You know... I haven't considered Kaede saying anything to Sylv. Sylv also hasn't blamed Pascal any as she knows perfectly well that he did it to help her, so it's not like there's some misunderstanding to solve either.

          Mmmmh, you comment reminds me I'm far from considering all the potential implications from this. Thanks~ I don't think the case with Kaede will be very simple though, as she actually has a better reputation than Pascal among the Lotharin troops since she's more visible on the front. And few people actually understands the connection from idea to implementation even if Kaede does say something (you don't see nuclear-ban activists hating on Einstein or Fermi)

          1. MechaKingGhidorah100

            Oh I don't think there would be a problem between Kaede or Sylvianie but I feel like Kaede is going to blame herself and so atleast tell Sylvianie her role in all this no matter how indirect it is though i would seriously doubt that Sylvianie would blame either of them.

            "as she actually has a better reputation than Pascal among the Lotharin troops since she's more visible on the front." While Pascal being unpopular with the rank and file is bad its his reputation with the Lotharin nobles and the other Weichsens that could be a real problem depending on how they view his actions. He is still only a Major and it was made pretty clear that the Lotharin nobles REALLY don't like some of the shit he pulled and while Edith and the other religious elements may have their faith in Sylvianie, Pascal's nuclear stunt will have made their impression of him far far worse and they already didn't like him.

            "And few people actually understands the connection from idea to implementation even if Kaede does say something (you don't see nuclear-ban activists hating on Einstein or Fermi)" Thats why I mentioned Kaede fibbing a bit. Instead of a passing conversation that inspired Pascal she could say that she taught him how to make it and advised him to do so while deliberately not mentioning all of the really nasty shit that followed and real strength of the bomb. Inspiring someone with ideas is far different from misleading someone about the power of the mini-doomsday device your teaching them to build. The fact that Kaede was the only one who knew what was afflicting everyone afterwards would lend credence to the lie. Sure Pascal would still be dealing with the common troops hate for him and his own newfound self-confidence issues but directing the wrath of those he had already pissed off away from him and onto Kaede.

            Of course this all me speculating (Ch 2 hype!) as so far we have no real idea how the higher ups view Pascal's actions and they could be placated by the lie Sylvianie told the doctor about the dirty heathens interrupting the spell.

        2. nipi

          Im pretty sure the troops know about the fallout. Kaede had to get them to move their tents. Not sure how much good it. The fallout region should be rather large when moving injured in a medieval setting is concerned. And most of the radiation should have dissipated in 48 hours or something.

          1. Hakurei06

            Considering this is basically pure fusion there will be few radioisotopes generated. almost none, compared to your standard nuclear warhead. Fusion emits primarily Neutron radiation, which is only indirectly ionizing.

          2. nipi

            Neutron activation would still occur.
            While in a nuke it would mostly happen in the bombs shell in Pascals spells case the irradiated elements would probably be more random.

            Granted there wont be any left over fissionable material which is a huge pro for everyone there. Especially in the long term effects.

            I was referring to The Seven Ten Rule:

            I think its so mostly because many of the radioactive elements that form through neutron activation have relatively short half-lives. So the neutrons will be released again soon and they will spread away from the blast area.

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