The Fuck Pie Room: Episode Notes

Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn

Welcome to episode 10 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where it’s time for the plot to speed up in the final section of Betrayals (parts 13-19) of The Ruins of Ambrai. Ali turns into an indigent teakettle, Aradia fully embraces the chaos of being a first time reader, and Bree gleefully guides us all deeper into moral quagmires.

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Transcripts by Anna
Art by Bree
Produced by Aradia | Fox And Raven Media

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0:00:10 Introduction and welcome

Ali: Welcome to the Hot Nuance Book Club, a podcast in which a novelist, a screenwriter and a podcaster walk into a book, diving into its craft and impact, in their mission to bring nuance back. I’m Ali, and I’m a screenwriter, most recently for Rugrats on Paramount Plus. I’m also the co-host of Wheel Takes Podcast, a first time reader podcast, currently doing The Hunger Games of the Wheel of Time, and also I created the Grinwell Cup on Twitter, and I’ve talked about that several times, but you should all pay attention to it in March.

Aradia: I am Aradia. I am one half of the Wheel of Time Spoilers Podcast, currently speed rereading the ending of Crossroads of Twilight just as fast as we can, as well as a podcast producer for Fox and Raven Media.

Bree: And I am Bree. I love how we’re all half of something.

Aradia: We are. Three halves make a whole.

Bree: And I am half of the bestselling sci fi fantasy romance author Kit Rocha, currently still speedracing my deadline. I’ve been writing so much, my brain is full of writing.

Ali: You’ve got this.

Bree: For my second Horny Dragon Book, so, yay Dragons and Horniness. Very different from what we read for this week’s podcast.

Ali: I feel for you. You’ve got this though.

Aradia: We believe in you.

Bree: I can do it.

Ali: I love when we’re in different writing periods. I’m usually in the wait part of the hurry up and wait, and you’re in the hurry up part of the hurry up and wait.

Bree: That’s the way the world goes. We got to support each other through the deadlines and the craziness. So, yay?

Ali: You’ve got it. It’s going to be amazing.

Bree: It is going to be amazing. What are we currently nuancing our way, through, Ali?

Ali: Oh, fuck. I forgot that that’s me. One day I’ll remember. Currently, we’re nuancing our way through the Ruins of Ambrai. So if you haven’t read that yet, go do that and come back when you have. For the rest of you, let’s break it down now.

0:01:55 Bree’s Time Travel Adventures

Bree: And we are jumping into Bree’s time travel machine, as usual. Do not extend your limbs. I can’t promise that they will come with us to the past. (swooshing noise)

It is going to be 1994. This one I found, and I was like, This cannot be true. But apparently it is. In 1994, Michael Crichton hit some sort of trifecta which has never again been repeated, where he had a novel, Disclosure, on the bestseller lists, a television show, E.R., reached number one, and Jurassic Park, a film, also reached number one. So he had the top book, movie and TV show in the country all at the same time.

Aradia: Wow.

Ali: So, like, very respectfully, you motherfucker.

Bree: I believe he became the alpha storyteller on that day. And now –

Ali: Like, when a writer does something like that and just, like, raises the bar, is like, Here’s something I did that’s so incredible. Like, a part of you is so, like, happy for them and like, Oh my God, how amazing. And a part of you is just like, You fucking fuck. Good for you!

Bree: This is apparently what EGOT-ing is for writers, and I don’t know if any of us will ever do it again, but let’s try. Also in 1994, Adobe Photoshop 3 was released. Oh, it was so baby.

Aradia: Wow.

Bree: So baby Photoshop. The fact checking website Snopes was released as an urban folklore website.

Aradia: Snopes. Where would we be without Snopes?

Bree: Seriously.

Ali: God, every time a news article comes out, I’m on Snopes. Every time my parents send me an article, my first thing to do is go, All right, Snopes, tell me, is this real?

Bree: They have come a long way from being the Will Bill Gates give your grandmother $15 if she forwards this email, website. (barking in the background) Sorry to all of you. I am having some dogs weighing in today. They are cranky.

Ali: How dare.

Bree: How dare I have two very loud dogs. So thank you Snopes, for your continued service. And then also in 1994, Melanie Rawn said, Hey, you know what? It’s been a while since we visited a brothel. Let’s go.

Aradia: With the weirdest esthetic.

Bree: She’s got some choice brothels in this book.

Ali: Mirrors on the ceiling. A classic.

0:04:41 Betrayals part 13

Bree: Welcome to the Ruins of Ambrai. Let’s dig in to the funniest brothels.

Ali: I’m excited to have you weigh in on this.

Aradia: So I just want to say here at the last of our episodes on the section of Betrayals, I feel betrayed. I am betrayed. The betrayal is real. Over here in Oregon, this whole section, I mean, I’m happy. I feel like Gus in The Hunger Games. Like I’m having a terrible time. I’m having a wonderful time. Like, so much betrayal. I’m so betrayed.

Ali: Yeah, I’m having a terrible time. It’s wonderful.

Bree: Everybody is being betrayed.

Ali: She did not fucking stutter on that betrayal. Yeah. Here’s the thing. I spent this whole time obsessed with where those girls are. By the way, one of them is still unaccounted for.

Bree: One of them is.

Ali: I still don’t know where that second girl is, so I feel like she’s got to come up at some point. But first girl, I spent all this time looking for you. Only for you to fucking die?

Aradia: Right?

Ali: It’s a betrayal.

Aradia: Seriously.

Bree: I was like, Gosh, Ali has gone all in on Mai. And she’s going to be like – Or May. I still can’t decide how I’m saying that, so I just switch back and forth.

Aradia: Yeah Ali, you made me care. You made me care so much. And then. And then this happens.

Bree: This whole time I’m sitting there like, God. She’s going to get her face ripped off. Literally!

Aradia: So brutal.

Ali: She gets her face ripped off?

Aradia: Yeah! Or bashed in, or – she becomes unrecognizable at the end.

Ali: I did not read the word unrecognizable. I just simply, at that point, I think I was so enraged.

Bree: It was vaguely implied, we’ll get there. That’s the end. So let’s start at the beginning.

Aradia: Yeah. Yeah. For now, let’s just see her happy and alive and interacting with Sarra like a normal person.

Bree: Yes. We start with them saying their little farewells in Renig. Mai went ashore. She is now pretending to be Sarra again. Sarra went to shore as a short sailor, and so they’re off on more of their Mage gathering adventure. So basically their quest is to go all around and gather up these Mages, to bring them to Roseguard, where they’re going to supposedly have a nice, safe place to, like, educate, and gather, and organize.

So a lot of this part 13 is mostly just traveling. They’re traveling deeper into the Waste. You know, we get a lot of geography. Anything jump out at you guys?

Aradia: I mean, I like economics discussions, when they’re not too in the weeds, like it’s fun to actually have a panning shot of like, Here’s how the economy of the fantasy world works.

Ali: Now I’m scared. Should I have noticed something? I don’t know why you’re asking me that.

Bree: No, I’m just wondering if anything jumped out. Like it really did. The Trade Webs and the quotas, I think is the big thing. I love fantasy economic worldbuilding. And I think this is one of those ones where she has once again introduced, you know, inequality. And we find out in this thing that the Waste doesn’t have a local government, really, which is something that kind of makes sense when you think about, we learned in the very first section that Scraller kind of murdered everybody.

Ali: That does make sense.

Bree: It’s basically Scraller and the Ostins who refuse to do a politics. So since the Ostins refused to do politics, it’s basically Scraller. And there’s like no other big families and there’s no other one people with power. So they have this thing called the Trade Web, and all of the families have quotas of the things that they produce, and they have to give that much of, you know, X amount of whatever they produce to the Trade Web every year.

And the Trade Web’s like, Yeah, we will go sell it off and, you know, give you parts of the proceeds. And this all sounds okay on paper, but Val apparently feels very strongly that this is actually set up to, you know, really fuck them up. Because if, like his family gets some offer, like – they do horses and saddles and leatherwork. So if his family gets a huge order from someone who wants to give him a ton of money for saddles, they can’t fill that unless they’ve already paid their quota. And if their quota takes up, even if that quota is going to give them like a third as much per item, you know. So they’re stuck giving their money into this thing. And a lot of it goes away to various functionaries and grift and bribes. And if they don’t have enough to fulfill it, it just becomes debt. And we find out that there are people who have literally tried to, like, sell themselves into slavery to pay off their family’s debt to this Trade Web.

Ali: Fucking capitalism.

Aradia: Which, like, honestly, I was listening to a podcast and partway through it right now that is shredding the IMF for very good reasons. And this just sounds exactly like how the IMF like, does a neo colonialism. It’s just like, Aah! Aah, get your realism out of my fantasy!

Bree: Melanie Rawn has has some trade quibbles that she would like to put on the table.

Aradia: She has opinions.

Bree: And I don’t know enough about 1994, like what was being done politically, I guess I’m not to look, so I don’t know, like if she might have been, like literally responding to some sort of international trade stuff that was happening or being proposed. But she definitely feels strongly about this. And I will tell you that her other books also have a lot of trade stuff in them. She cares about trade.

Aradia: Hmm. That’s cool. And then we get to the brothel, I think is really the main feature of 13, which is like the weirdest aesthetic. It’s all black and white except for the room that is all purple, like, what is happening?

Bree: Yes, yes. We come back to our wonderful Bower. What is it, the Bower of the Mask?

Aradia: Yeah, I think. I think that’s what it was.

Bree: The Bower of the Mask. Yes. And it is all black and white, like chess board floors and like, you know, darker men dressed up in white shirts and paler men dressed up in black shirts, and everybody running around with, like, feathers and ribbons, too. Of course. Of course ribbons everywhere. Yeah. And Sarra is all like, Oh, am I supposed to pretend I want to rent someone again? She’s getting all ready. She’s like, Okay, here’s my turn. I’m going to pick a boy, I guess.

Aradia: I’m a practiced connoisseur of this stuff now. Coll this time, I’m going to be cool.

Ali: I’m going to be a fake Jane, once again.

Bree: Yes, yes, she’s ready. She’s got her dimples ready. She’s excited. She’s like, This time I will not mess up the Bower mission. And it turns out she doesn’t have to do the Bower mission, because Val got a job here once, for a week, which is hilarious.

Aradia: Hilarious. He had to spend a week fucking for the resistance. Mmhm.

Bree: Yes. He spent one week in this Bower and like, you know, all of the customers have been heartbroken ever since. So, Val, apparently –

Ali: Good for Val.

Aradia: Yeah, because he is a pansexual mess.

Ali: A pansexual mess!

Aradia: Actually, he’s not a mess. He’s just pan.

Bree: He apparently can change hearts and minds.

Aradia: Everyone is Val-sexual.

Bree: Yes. So, but then he – you know, Alin is having some jealousy. I do not know. Like at this point, I’m looking, how long ago was this? Let’s see, one week. So I don’t know. At some point he got this job. I don’t know if he was with Alin or not at the time, but Alin’s still not loving this. He’s just like, Yeah, can we not talk about how hot my cousin boyfriend is?

Aradia: Ha, cousin boyfriend.

Bree: But Val does a little thing where he says he got a better offer, and she offers to match it or double it. And she’s like, You can’t do that. Because you know, you can’t beat true love, right? That’s lots of Alin and Val shipping in this chapter.

Aradia: And there’s the very first hint that things are going wrong, very first subtle hint that something maybe is off, because the Mages show up early. It’s like, huh, that’s weird.

Bree: Yes, they Mages show up early. They go upstairs to the Plum Room. I’m going to read this. Walls, rugs, curtains, bedclothes, bedstead, goblets and wine pitcher on a marble table—it was all decorated with motifs of plump, succulent plums. And it was all purple.

Ali: Everyone’s horny for plums.

Bree: And yes, two walls full of mirrors, another on the ceiling. I mean, I’m not sure fucking inside a fruit pie is like – because it literally says, The sensation of being inside a fruit pie was multiplied a hundredfold. Like, I don’t know, maybe that’s a thing.

Ali: Okay, have you seen American Pie?

Bree: Maybe that’s the thing.

Ali: Don’t yuck other people’s yum.

Bree: I love purple. Purple’s great.

Aradia: Purple is great.

Ali: Purple is my favorite color, personally.

Aradia: Totally. But I don’t know if I need plum motifs screaming at me from every corner.

Ali: Well, I feel like an entire – The fun thing about purple is like, it’s like, you get a pop of purple. Like you’re like, Oh, wow. Like there’s a pop of purple flowers. I feel like an entire purple room is A choice. That is made. I feel like that would be what some people have called me, which is a sensory nightmare.

Bree: Maybe, maybe a little bit.

Ali: Sorry, if I banged on the mike last week. Just like a subtle – But this would not be a subtle sensory nightmare. This would be like a full on sensory catastrophe.

Aradia: Yes.

Bree: Yeah. Fucking inside a fruit pie. I don’t know why I drawled that.

Ali: But would you at that point just call it a fuck pie?

Aradia: Fuck pie. The fuck pie room.

Ali: The fuck pie room. Title of the episode!

Aradia: The Fuck Pie Room.

Bree: And apparently in the bathroom of the plumb room, is a Ladder.

Aradia: Another bathroom Ladder. This is the second time you’ve seen the bathroom Ladder?

Bree: Yes.

Ali: There in bathrooms or closets. I swear to God. Everyone, check your closet.

Bree: Well, do you guys know what the common denominator is? It has to be a round area.

Ali: A round?

Bree: Yes. They have to be perfectly round. And like, they can make it round by like, putting tiles on the floor. So it doesn’t have to be that the room itself is round, but I think it helps if they have a way to have a round – So apparently yeah, the bathroom is maybe round or something.

Ali: So I feel like if I walked in anywhere in this world with a circular motif, I’d be immediately suspicious. I’d be like, There’s got to be some kind of Ladder, right?

Aradia: Mmhm.

Bree: But apparently round stuff is just really common architecture.

Ali: Well, it would be.

Bree: Because at one point they talk about how the Octagon Court is so weird. because it has all these sharp angles in a world that is obsessed with circular architecture. So that makes a lot of it harder to spot.

Ali: It would have to be right. You’d have to assume that the Mages were like, Pay no attention to the round bathrooms, build your own round bathroom! It’s a fad. We’re all building round bathrooms and closets.

Aradia: So in our world we should be looking for Ladders in square rooms, is kind of the other way to be looking at that. Anywhere that’s got a square motif. Huh.

Ali: Aha. Aha, aha! I’m trying to think how that would work for, like, doors.

Aradia: Like in The Hobbit! A Hobbit door.

Ali: I guess they have to be curved or – oh! Yeah, I guess.

Bree: Oh, that is true though. That is weird. I don’t know.

Ali: Wouldn’t it be curved?

Bree: Maybe.

Ali: I’m just thinking about the door sitch, and how weird that would be. I think it would have to be slightly curved, right?

Bree: Never really thought about it before, but yeah, that’s amazing.

Ali: That freaked me out.

Aradia: Slightly disorienting.

Ali: Yeah, a little bit.

Bree: So Sarra goes and peeks out the window and the Mages are coming. Doing their best, We’re hiding under our cloaks, Definitely looking suspicious. Everybody like, look around. Like you’re being chased. Definitely not undercover agents. And they weren’t supposed to be here before noon. And so that is, as Aradia pointed out, our first sign that something weird is going on. And how did they show up? Why did they show up?

Ali: The flowers? Right?

Bree: They got flowers too.

Ali: Boom! I read.

Bree: Ali found the flowers.

Ali: I missed the unrecognizable. But I get the flowers. I was like, Oh, there’s those damn flowers again. And I spent way too much time researching last episode, thinking there’d be a clue, and then literally six pages later.

Bree: Hey, that’s okay. So we have four new Mages who have popped up. A scholar Mage, Sirralin, I think? She’s got the same name Saint as Sarra. And her son Tiron, a healer Mage, Truan, and a Prentice named Keler, who is – and then they basically, Truan is in his sixties and he seems mortified to be inside the Bower. The young son is looking around like, What the fuck is this?

Ali: He’s like 15, right?

Bree: Yeah, he’s 15. Yeah. He’s like, Wow, this is amazing. Or terrifying. I don’t know what. And then the two middle aged people are like, Want to go?

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: They’re sort of hitting on each other.

Ali: Sarra looks at her, looks at the scholar Mages like, She doesn’t look that smart.

Bree: Yeah. It’s Sarra – We need Gus’s bingo card: Sarra hates women.

Ali: Sarra hates, Sarra HATES women, Which gets validated, unfortunately enough.

Aradia: Yeah. Painfully straight, Sarra.

Bree: She says, Sirralin Mossen looked like nobody’s idea of a Scholar Mage. Tall as Imi Gorrst and more generously curved, she had skin the color of coffee and cheekbones so prominent they tilted the corners of her eyes. So basically she’s like, – Oh, and, Though she must be nearing forty, she looked thirty—and the glance she threw at Keler –

Aradia: She’s too pretty to be smart.

Bree: Yeah. Basically, she’s too hot to be smart. She’s got curves and cheekbones.

Aradia: Everyone knows you can either have brains or boobs. You can’t have both.

Ali: God doesn’t give with both hands. You know what I mean?

Bree: So she’s like, Yeah, I don’t know. Doesn’t look like a scholar. She’s hot and she wants to pretend she’s still 20, with Keler Neffe, who looks about 30. And she thinks that he probably started his studies at the academy, as you know, a child. But yeah, maybe he has not had the best education in a magic sense, because he’s been running around trying to stay off the grid.

Aradia: Right. Because he started his career and then immediately Ambrai burned. So he got, like, his education’s truncated, but technically he’s still a Prentice?

Bree: So, yeah, I mean, I guess like if you burn down the place where you can become a full Mage, you probably don’t get to make full Mages anymore.

Aradia: That would be a good reason to burn down someone’s Mage making building.

Bree: Yeah, pretty much.

Ali: Burn the Mage factory. Seize the means of production.

Aradia: Seize the Mage of production.

Ali: Hahahahaha!

Bree: But then the scholar Mage is just sort of like, Ugh, how do ordinary folk stand being in boring towns?

Ali: So, okay, but that’s kind of real though. I want to be in the trees, but I also want my, like, easy access to quesadillas. Do you know what I mean?

Bree: I mean, I – yeah.

Aradia: Bree and I both decided that we’d rather have trees.

Bree: Well, we’ll make the quesadillas.

Ali: I know. I’m on team city, but I also understand the desire for nature.

Aradia: It’s a tradeoff.

Bree: I do think that this is less nature, though, and more, magic folk versus ordinary folk.

Ali: Okay. But that’s also valid.

Bree: That’s what Sarra sort of read that as.

Aradia: Being like a working town, versus a university town.

Bree: Yeah, like she thinks that Mages, you know, are better than people without magic. And that’s a little thing we probably don’t love.

Ali: I mean they are.

Bree: So and that, but Sarra tells herself not to get judgy, which, Sarra, baby.

Aradia: Keep telling yourself that.

Ali: I mean, that I think you can get a little judgy about. And Sarra, you are the judgiest B of the entire book.

Bree: Yeah, you are judgy. But you know, honestly, that’s a valid judgment. You know, you’ve made some less, you’ve made less valid judgments.

Ali: I’m very much a live and let live kind of person, until someone’s like, You know, who we should oppress? And then I’m like, No, hold up there, friendo.

Bree: Yeah. So basically they got like pennyroyal and water willow, so flee and freedom are what those meant. And the roses were supposed to be ones like red, yellow and white, and the red was almost black. So they figured the black and white roses meant, come to here to the black and white building with the plum bathroom!

Ali: Apparently they were right. It’s kind of a leap in logic, but they were correct.

Bree: Yeah, well, they got there. They got there early, so they decide they’re going to go through in here. Let’s discuss Melanie Rawn’s joke that they’re all making in here is, ha ha, guess where the Bower Ladder goes to?

Aradia: The sewers! (unamused:) Ha ha ha ha ha.

Bree: Not sure if this is sex positive joking.

Aradia: That is confusing. It’s very filthy.

Bree: Yes, I don’t. I don’t necessarily love this sort of joke, because I feel like maybe we should not be making a, ha ha, sewers and sex work, joke. Not my favorite.

Ali: Yeah.

Aradia: Yeah. The filth nd the filth is like –

Ali: Hmm. It feels like a 1994 joke. Do you know what I mean?

Bree: Yery much. I mean, It feels like a 2023 – Like, I could not tell you the – It is actually like a hot topic in the – all words. Both filthy, dirty, clean. Describing something as clean romance is like a red flag that can cause quite a bit of trouble. We’re all struggling in romance to try to find terms to describe like, heat level? But clean… (nervous laugh) Because there’s a way that you can like sort of say, Oh, I like dirty romance, and like that doesn’t feel judgmental, as long as you’re saying it in a positive way. But when you start using clean, it starts to get weird, especially since the people who like clean romance so often tend to say, you know, I don’t like anything with sex – or gay people.

Ali: (surprised and disgusted noise)

Aradia: Right? It feels like a dog whistle kind of thing?

Bree: That’s the problem. It has been so many times. So many people have come up with clean reads, clean romance, clean HEAs, which is happily ever after. It’s like, you go to their sites and then you’re like, find it buried on there. And they’re like, No gay people, please. Or like, you know, whatever else it’s going to be.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: Ughhh.

Bree: So yeah. So I get really twitchy when this, like, dirty, clean language is applied to sex, sex work, sex anything. Which is hard because ingroup people still like, you know – if I’m talking to another romance reader, I’m going to be like, Oh my God, I just read the filthiest book! It was so amazing! But, you know, if I’m talking to someone who might not understand what I mean by filthy, I would not use that, because I am not going to give them any indication or like chance to assume that I am denigrating that content.

Ali: Yeah.

Aradia: Yeah, it’s a very sneaky place to have a Ladder though. The practicalities of hiding in a sewer, like it makes a lot of sense.

Bree: Especially since sewers are inherently places that have lots of round pipes, right?

Ali: Ah!

Aradia: Very good for spy network shit. Hehe. Literally.

Bree: So. Yeah! So we end with them jumping into the sewers.

0:25:38 Music break, the indignant teakettle defends Collan

Bree: And then we get to Collan’s point of view.

Aradia: Collan!

Bree: What do you guys think about Collan being held prisoner, except for not quite, but also not being allowed to leave.

Ali: I don’t like people being held against their will. But I mean if you’re going to be held against your will, it seems like he’s having a decent time.

Aradia: He’s being held for his own good for the larger plan, in like about the couchiest situation possible. Right? Like, he’s being fed. He’s getting to sleep. He’s getting to, like, make friends with the kids and like, they’re kind of just like, Look, for everyone’s safety we need you to stay with us. And he’s making it out like it’s a huge impingement on his freedom.

Ali: I mean, it kinda is, but (mumbles)

Aradia: It’s short term, it’s not forever! It’s not like it’s indefinite. Like he knows they’re leaving in eight days, you know, like, just, hold your horses.

Ali: Sure, sure. But then he’s like, Well, then where are you going to take me, Gorynel Desse?

Aradia: And then there’s that.

Bree: Aradia is like, I approve of light kidnappings, as long as it’s under the best –

Ali: If it is for your own good, is it really kidnapping? That’s my stance.

Ali: Who gets to decide on what’s for my own good?

Bree: Everybody who’s on my discord, like mine as well, is going to be laughing right now. Because we have this thing, going back to romance tropes. Kidnapping tropes are like a long standing tradition, and we have this thing where like, if we like a book and we decide that the kidnapping was sufficiently justified and that it plays out in the long run in a way that we will accept – and it almost always involves like aliens or something totally crazy, like we’re not usually like giving contemporary people permission to kidnap – and we call this safenapping.

Ali: Oh my God.

Aradia: Yes. And also he’s been being kidnapped up to this moment since the first time Gorynel Desse fucked with this memory. It’s like, this has always been in the cards for him. This was never not going to happen. So is it really a new kidnapping or is it just a new phase of his life?

Bree: Collan is the most kidnapped person.

Ali: Get over it, kid. This is the theme of your life.

Aradia: I mean, this is all Gorynel Desse’s fault.

Ali: Don’t be so whiny! About your kidnapping.

Aradia: This is your destiny.

Bree: So last week, you know, we were like, so far the things we have lightly approved of are, brainwashing your husband.

Ali: International espionage at any age.

Bree: And now, kidnapping. Safenapping. Only safenapping.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: (makes incoherent laughing noises)

Aradia: I’m learning so much about myself through this podcast.

Ali: (still wheezing) I was on Collan’s side so much here! This is (no idea what she is saying here)

Bree: No, I do not think we should kidnap Collan. He is definitely basically like -This is how it was –

Ali: I did not approve of the kidnapping! I want to go in here and say, and I’m not going to bang my fist, because I got a note about that. But I’m going to bang my fist metaphorically and say, I was against the kidnapping.

Bree: Ali is coming out strongly anti-kidnapping in this episode.

Ali: And I’m not afraid to admit it.

Aradia: We’re so divided.

Bree: So here’s what Orlin Renne says to him. You have two choices. You can make life miserable for yourself and everyone else at Roseguard by repeated acts of foolishness, or you can enjoy your stay. Because you will stay, Collan Rosvenir. If I have to truss you up head to foot in our best Cloister carpet and cut holes for you to eat, breathe, piss, and shit from, you will stay.

Ali: See, this, this, this is it. This is bad.

Bree: I will say, I do not know if I could qualify that as a safenapping.

Ali: It’s not a safenapping!!!

Aradia: It’s not. But like, shit’s hitting the fan. You know?

Bree: You guys, I wish we were on video just this one time, cause Ali is, like, so betrayed by us right now.

Ali: Betrayals!

Aradia: We’re on brand.

Ali: It’s a running theme.

Bree: I think you have to recognize that Aradia and I are misandrists, who support men’s kidnappings. We do not –

Ali: I’m just very on team Collan for this. And I’m genuinely shaking that I –

Bree: I’m in the middle. I mean, I feel like poor Collan has been through some shit.

Ali: Yes, correct.

Aradia: But, you know.

Ali: And no one’s explained anything to him. And he’s having frequent headaches, which as a migraine sufferer, I feel sad about.

Bree: And then they drug him.

Ali: And then they drug him! And then they hit him in the head.

Aradia: Well, that sucked. But like, seriously, he shows up. He’s got. He is like a marked man or whatever, because of the resistance and the messaging and all that. This man has children to protect. Yeah. Kidnap the 30 year old rock star for a week to protect your kids. Like, he’s got kids to think about. Like, I can’t fault a father for being like, My children need this man to not go around spreading rumors to the government that will absolutely kill us. Because Collan is not going to play subtle if he gets out of here, he’s just going to, fucking, run his mouth at the bar, the next day or whatever, and like –

Ali: Whoa. What evidence do we have of that?

Aradia: Shit’s hitting the fan! You can’t trust him.

Bree: And to be fair, the evidence we have is that Collan is going to immediately run to the next Rising person and do a favor for them.

Ali: Yeah, and say nothing about it! The history of Collan is that Collan just doesn’t ask questions. He’s a simple starfish. He doesn’t have any intellectual curiosity, and he never talks about what he’s doing.

Bree: He’s a simple starfish!

Ali: He might as well go everywhere, because he’s a simple starfish. Can we not explain, Hey, we need you to stay here just because, like, you know, safety issues, mostly your own. He’ll probably be like, Well hot dog, I’ll stay right here then, because I don’t want to get fucking murdered!

Aradia: I bet he would leave and get murdered. I think he would totally get his ass murdered.

Bree: I mean, he kind of does.

Ali: (highpitched indignation) Who is trying to murder him?

Aradia: Whoever Gorynel Desse has been protecting him from his whole life. Because that’s the thing, right? Gorynel Desse shows up. Dude has frickin memory hole headaches again. It’s like, he’s not safe to be left off leash.

Bree: Dear Collan, we ripped too many holes in your memory. Stop. You are no longer safe to go outside without a leash. Stop. Please stay in the house until we can take you on walkies. Stop. I don’t know why I’m imagining this is a telegram, but.

Ali: I still don’t know why. Why do I give a fuck about Collan? (Ali’s pitch goes higher and higher)

Aradia: I think I broke Ali.

Ali: Why do I give a shit about Collan?

Bree: Are you there, Ali? I think your mike went out, did you unplug it?

Ali: (noises) Dear god.

Bree: I heard you that time.

Aradia: Yes.

Ali: Did you hear me? I was like, Oh, you know, I think I’m speaking at a volume only dogs can hear. I think I’m so shrill at this point. Why do we give a fuck about Collan???

Aradia: That’s the real question, is why is he important to save?

Ali: (still very shrill) I still don’t have any justification to why we give a shit about this kid, when there are so many kids to give a shit about! I mean, I give a shit about this 30 year old rock star. Why?

Bree: You guys, he has entered the range of birds again.

Aradia: She’s just a teakettle.

Ali: Why would I give a shit about this kid? I’m just like, (pitch drops back to a normal range, but still frantic) Why are we imprisoning this boy? Can we give him, like, a brief explanation and then if he decides to act like a fool, then we go, Alright, you gonna act like a fool, we’re going to treat you like a fool. Well, he’s done nothing to earn this treatment!

Bree: Okay, well, let’s. Let’s go and see how this works out for Collan.

Ali: (the teakettle is back) Why the fuck are we doing this?

Bree: He’s going to go with it because he doesn’t want to shit out of a carpet.

Aradia: I mean, that sounds terrible.

Bree: Relatable.

Ali: The opposite! The other choice is carpet shitting!

Bree: So I guess that Ali’s affection for Agatine and Orlin Renne is plummeting.

Ali: I just.

Bree: If we have to give them a grade right now for, like, your favorite characters, grade them as human beings.

Ali: (exhausted) I draw the line at carpet shitting.

Aradia: Also giving him a – doing the knockout concussion thing – like we all know that the knockout concussion in fantasy is really bad, but I feel like it’s especially rude to a man with memory hole migraines.

Ali: (sputters indignantly) That’s like my whole point!

Aradia: Couldn’t you just have blindfolded him?

Ali: Or drugged him? They have drugs.

Bree: Okay, well, let’s get there. We’re not quite there yet. So. So basically, after Collan decides to stay – quote unquote decides – he just settles in and starts having fun. Well, some sort of fun, because at least the boys, all hero worship him. One wants to be a musician. And so he’s like actually having some fun teaching him. The youngest one just wants to hero worship him. And the middle two – one is girl crazy and one is horse crazy. And apparently if you’re a rock star who’s traveled everywhere on a horse, you can definitely impress girl crazy and horse crazy teenage boys. So he’s basically just got a little quartet of worshiping kids, following him around.

Ali: And I have to be honest, teenage boys are not that hard to impress. Like you show, like any knowledge about, like, I don’t know, fucking Skyrim. And suddenly they’re like, Oh, you’re really cool. Let me show you my Skyrim shit! I don’t know. I think it’s not that hard.

Bree: I want to show you my Skyrim shit now, Ali.

Ali: And I would sit there and be like, so impressed with it. You know what I mean, and that is literally all you have to do, is show any interest in whatever thing they’re interested in. You’re like, Oh, I read one article about Mario Kart once or whatever, and then all of a sudden, Ohh, and then you can’t get him to stop talking. And you just have to find out what that one interest is.

Aradia: Collan was well equipped to handle this quartet of children.

Ali: Yes. So he fits all of their super interests.

Aradia: Yes.

Bree: He’s got experience with girls and horses.

Aradia: There’s an interesting comment in here about the whole dynamics of parents wanting boys versus girls, because of the whole gaggle of boys. And can you imagine if they were daughters? And then Collan thinks that, like most families without a daughter are really sad, and these two are kind of weird for being happy to only have boys, and like, that felt like a really good one to one reversal for how we talk about boys and girls and family dynamics.

Bree: Yeah!

Ali: Well, okay, so but here’s the thing. Yes and no, because I feel like also people – Okay, people say that boys are harder in that they, like, destroy shit and get into trouble? But girls are harder because they’re mean and cry a lot. Like that’s what I hear from people.

Bree: Well, I do think there’s a lot of that. I like. I feel like there’s the toxic masculinity, I want to have boys because that will prove that I am fruitful. And you have to have the man to continue the family name or whatever. Like, that’s what I think of as that sort of thing because –

Aradia: The whole inheritance thing is really tied to gender in this world.

Bree: Yeah, like. Like Henry the Eighth. He’s like, Stop giving me girls, or I’ll fucking cut your head off!

Aradia: Yeah. Seriously.

Ali: Yeah, he straight up murdered several women over that.

Aradia: It was his fault anyway. Just saying.

Ali: But you couldn’t tell him that, or he’d cut your head off.

Aradia: If you don’t wear such tight pants, Henry.

Ali: We could time travel and let him know. And you think, like, Oh, if he had just had, like, one boy, none of that would have happened. But, yeah, I mean, I think usually – I don’t know why. Occasionally I will stumble upon somebody stitching a gender reveal disappointment video, with the hot take – and I feel like the majority of the ones are with a take, and I’m like, Ugh, I don’t want to see this, because it’ll just make me angry at people all over again. But I feel like so many gender disappointments that I see are about girls. And like there’s all these moms being like, I have all boys and I’m a boy mom! And it’s like, there’s like a weird pride in that. But I don’t know. I don’t know. I always get kind of weird about gender disappointment. I know it’s real and I know people have it, but I’m like, first of all, there’s no guarantee they’re going to stay that gender.

Aradia: That part!

Ali: You know, we live in a society, we live in a world with, you know, there’s no guarantee they’re going to stay that gender. So like, why does that even matter? Also gender is such a spectrum. Like, there’s no guarantee you’re going to get a daughter that likes to go to the nail salon with you, or a boy that wants to play baseball or whatever, like weird copy paste that you want to do. And you’re like – Because to me, it’s like those people are being parents for the right reasons, right?

Aradia: Yeah, Yeah.

Ali: At that point I’m like, What is it? What is it that you think you’re going to, like, create? Like, are you going to think you’re going to create a mini you that will like, just walk around and be you, but again, and have this weird immortality achieved? Like at that point I’m like, that’s kind of creepy, right?

Aradia: And I try to like, pick what kind of attributes you want to deal with. Like, Oh, this kind is messy! It’s like, they are children, they are varied, and they are all going to be messy and get into trouble. Like, and if you expect certain things, you will end up missing problems in half of the population, because they don’t – Mm. Mm.

Ali: Yeah. It’s just to me it’s just kind of – it gives me the ick. Yeah. Gives me the ick.

Aradia: But it’s fun that these two are kind of bucking the trend of their culture, where, you know, that’s fun.

Ali: I do like a good bucking the trend. I do like a good being chill with what you have, especially because, I mean, like, your children grow up, but they’ll just feel disappointed? I don’t know. I’m glad that they’re cool with it.

Bree: Well, in this world, though, I mean, the whole plot of this, like, this last section in this world, they can’t give their stuff to their kids because they don’t have a girl. So the consequences of not having a girl are pretty significant. You know, basically, Sarra is going to get all of her stuff now, because she can’t pass it to her kids. And Collan does think, He supposed they thought of the Liwellan brat as theirs, because he’s still not a fan in his head.

Aradia: But he does steal all of her – he rifles through all of her notation for old songs.

Bree: Yeah he does get to steal all of her stuff from the library.

Ali: So I guess turnabout is fair play.

Bree: Yeah. Also, I did notice I was like, Ugh, guys, do we have to do this? Where the boys like, talk about her like she’s their sister and they loved her and made fun of her and then, and assured Collan that after an unpromising adolescence she’d turned out pretty enough to do them credit.

Aradia: Ugh!!!

Bree: I was like, Really? Even in the girl world? She’s taking away all of your money again. Don’t give it to them anymore. And you.

Aradia: Right? Seriously.

Ali: First of all, first of all, as bisexual, my friend who is also bisexual, I talked about this. We were just like, Women? Like, we love men. Men are men, yeah, But, women. Have you seen women?

Aradia: How does everyone not see this?

Ali: They’re just so attractive all the time. Like, I’m in like, a pilates class, right? And I’m looking around and I’m just like, Wow, Everyone within here is just fucking killing it. I don’t know if it’s like that. I’m just like, yeah, some of them have things outside of the typical body, whatever, this is hot eurocentric grossness that’s all rooted in racism and misogyny bullshit, right? But I’m just like, but in this world, who again, gets to decide who’s pretty, why do the – ugh!

Aradia: And these are the foster brothers! Don’t even have that opinion. You’re gross.

Ali: Yeah. Ew. Ew!

Bree: I’m going to tell myself that the foster brothers just like Collan so much, they want him to marry Sarra. So that he can be their brother. That’s what I’m going to stick with.

Aradia: You know, That works, for the age ranges of the boys in question. And we can go with that.

Bree: That is my head canon. Because otherwise I’m just too mad.

Ali: Why does it matter that she’s pretty? Maybe she’s successful?

Bree: Well, nah, I think that they’ve tracked Collan. They’re like, Collan wants a pretty one.

Ali: Ugh, okay. I mean, listen.. Are there beauty standards for men? Absolutely. I’m just like, can there be beauty standards for no one? Can we all just, like, live in our happy little bodies and do our best?

Bree: I’m going to tell you that this is one of the things that does like – when I read Melanie Rawn’s books, the fact that they’re written in the eighties and nineties, I’m sometimes surprised at how well they hold up. But one of the things that she definitely grates on my nerves with still somewhat, is that there’s a lot of stuff about women needing to look pretty and often needing to be skinny and needing to be, you know, grow out of awkward chunky phases. And, you know, I think Sarra does that and like, you know, she’s got another character who does that. It’s a lot of, you know, eh! There’s some body issues in here. For someone who has explored so many other ways that women’s rights are infringed and shouldn’t be infringed in her books? She’s just missing that one, She’s like, Okay, well, we’ll let this one slide. Continue policing women’s bodies!

Ali: It’s like, Oh, you want to be healthy. And they’re like, Oh, but that’s implied that that’s skinny. But being skinny does not necessarily indicate health. It’s a fucking fact. I just hate it. But can’t we all just be in our happy bodies, in our little meat sacks and do our best. I’m just sick of it!

Aradia: That’s not good for capitalism.

Ali: I’m also like, you know, I think – look, there’s all this stuff where it’s like, the men think that the female gaze is Ryan Reynolds, when really that’s like the patriarchy’s idea of what men should look like. And really, women just want Stanley Tucci, because they want someone who is well traveled –

Bree: Okay, But see, here’s the thing. I love Ryan Reynolds, but didn’t like him until I watched Blade 3, and he just, I don’t know, something about the cracking. It’s the funny. It’s the timing.

Ali: Yes, but that’s the thing! But that’s the thing. He’s attractive because he’s funny. It’s not necessarily the body.

Bree: When I saw pictures of him, I was like, I don’t understand. He just looks like every other blond dude. But then like, I watched him and he was like, fucking hilarious in that movie! And I was like, Oh, okay.

Ali: No, I literally think that what women find attractive is like, you have to have one personality trait. One personality trait, and be like a little bit nice.

Aradia: And listen, at least half the time.

Bree: Competence and humor, man, if you can, if you can nail competence and humor, you’re like 80% of the way there.

Ali: And if you are nice and women are not interested in you, you are wrong. You are not nice.

Aradia: Yeah, it’s true. Nice is so attractive.

Ali: It’s so attractive. Like being like a genuinely nice person who listens, doesn’t just talk about yourself, actually asks questions and seems interested in the answer. Right. And have like any other personality trait in addition to that, like you are funny, you are well read, but not in a way that makes us feel like you’re better than us? Like it’s got to be like, you’re funny, but you’re also like, nice about it, or you’re like, well read, but you’re nice about it. You just have to be nice about it! And then we’re like, Wow, I would fuck with that. Like, That’s it! (banging noise) And it’s just, fucking did I do that. But like, there’s a reason why Stanley Tucci has fans. Because he seems like a really nice guy and a really good husband, who’s, like, well-traveled and well-read and thoughtful and, like, that’s it. Like, you don’t have to be macho, muscular, dude. You don’t have to spend 45 years at the gym.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: It’s fine. You know, whereas women have to be fucking everything. And I’m like, Yeah.

Bree: We’re not watching – we’re not discussing the movie, but the movie.

Ali: But the movie, that movie, a movie, that has come out.

Bree: Which I haven’t watched, but I have been on TikTok enough to have seen that speech.

Ali: You still haven’t seen it?

Bree: Dude, it’s not coming out on streaming. I don’t do theaters.

Aradia: It’s coming out on the 5th for streaming.

Ali: You’re right. You’re right. There is an accessibility issue, to theaters.

Aradia: And I have a pink shirt now. I didn’t have a pink shirt, but I got one from Wheel Weekly News, The Darkfriend Social shirt, I got it in hot pink. So now I own a hot pink shirt.

Ali: Yay! And there’s so much to unpack about, like, women’s feelings about pink. And it’s just so much to unpack.

Aradia: Like, fuchsia was my color when I was a little kid. Like, fuchsia was my fucking color, I think one of my first hyper fixations, was the color fuchsia.

Ali: It’s a beautiful color.

Bree: I mean, you see my wall behind me?

Aradia: I do!

Ali: Ooh.

Bree: It’s like raspberry. I like electric colors, that are almost like neon. I love those. The jewel tones and like, vivid things.

Ali: I love a good raspberry.

Aradia: Visual stims. We love them.

Ali: We love a good visual stim. Okay, What was it? What were we talking about?

Bree: We’ve discussed how Collan has been imprisoned in this remarkably nice prison. Are you raising your hand, Ali?

Ali: Yeah. I had one other thing I wanted to talk about. The fact that the parents – this is also why I’m against this parenting group. It seems as though they are letting their sons brother- dad their youngest brother, because they all had to like, put their brother abead. And I was like, should that be a sibling’s responsibility? I don’t know. Is that parentification?

Aradia: Parentification is fine.

Ali: What?

Bree: It’s a good question. I didn’t think much about it because he’s like 13 or 14. So like, I don’t think that’s really an age where you have to be put to bed anymore? Is it? That’s not a responsibility at that point.

Ali: Not really, right? Yeah, exactly. I get, at a certain point, you’re like, Go to fucking bed.

Bree: I think it was more of a, he stayed up too late, get, get the little kid out of here. We have to talk grown up talk. So that’s how I read it, because I don’t think it was like a, Now go put your –

Ali: Okay.

Bree: However. In this world, I guess you would definitely parentify by your eldest son and make him do all the babysitting and child care, so it would make sense.

Ali: Instead of your emotional support eldest daughter, you’d have your emotional support eldest son.

Aradia: Yep.

Ali: Which. So I was looking for it. I was like, Oh, are we doing a one to one?

Bree: That is possible. I didn’t catch it but like, Yeah.

Ali: But also I think your interpretation is probably more correct.

Bree: I think Jeymi’s a little older. Let’s see, Jeymi is 11, so yeah, I mean, that’s Put yourself to bed. I mean, when I was 11, people were handing me, like, two year olds, and letting me babysit them.

Ali: Yeah, I think I first started – which is wild, if you think about it! That is an infant!

Aradia: Seriously.

Bree: It is insane. Yeah. People were giving me babies to babysit, but I was like 5’7. Like I hit my adult height when I was like 11. Like I just stopped growing at 11. So I was like, I looked older than I was. I think people were just like, Oh, well, you seem well spoken, here, have my child. And I was like, Oh my God, I was a baby.

Ali: Well, yeah, I’ve talked about this a lot. The assumption of women being nurturing and how wild it is. Strangers have handed me their children and walked away. And I’ve been like, Uhh, they’re like, Can you can you help me with this list? And I’m not a bad person. So the assumption is correct that I am a safe person to give this child to, and that I know what I am doing, because I’ve been around a lot of babies. But you don’t know that, just because I have a uterus does not mean that – And you don’t even know that I have one, by the way. But just because I am a female presenting person, people, like strangers, have handed me their children and walked away, and I’m like, what is going on.

Aradia: That is pretty wild.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: It’s wild.

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: I mean, being left to take care of my little brother because that was a situation, is all different than being handed a stranger’s child.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: Well, or being assumed to be a competent nurturer at 11, just because you’re a girl. Like, that’s what, like, I think about it in retrospect, I’m like, I could not imagine trusting a middle schooler with my, like, the most precious being on this planet to me. What? That’s wild.

Bree: Okay, so let’s skip past Collan’s thing here. He decides he’s just going to continue to stay. He’s kind of anxious that nobody seems to be like getting ready to go, but, like, you know, what’s he going to do? He just continues to buckle down and figures, you know. As soon as they’re on the road, he’s out of there, because they can’t watch him every minute. And we switch to Sarra again, who has been popping around for the last four days all over the place, getting a little bit more Ladder lag. They have collected several more Mages. By the time they have done, like bopping around a few of these places, they have gotten like six more?

Aradia: It’s a lot of people.

Bree: Like, I’m starting to – name salads once again.

Aradia: Yes.

Bree: And so they get three more Mages. I’m not even going to try to say all of these Penten, Shelan, Mirre, are the last names. And then they go upstairs and get a Neffe who is related – there was a Neffe in the last bunch too. And Tamosin Wolvar and Tamosin’s uncle, Tamos. So, and some of these people are all related to each other. So we now have ten Mages, plus Sarra, Val, Alin and Elomar. So we’ve got like, a little 14 person troupe of –

Aradia: Traveling circus!

Bree: Yeah, literal traveling circus of people who are all extremely wanted by the feds.

Aradia: It’s the A-Team.

Bree: Yeah. Alin is having a small mental breakdown the more this goes well. Apparently he is not enjoying the fact that it’s all going so easily. And the more people they pick up who have gotten these flowers and everything has gone smoothly, the more Alin’s like, something is wrong here. So, how do you feel about this?

Aradia: He’s got good instincts, I think.

Ali: I mean, this is not doing a lot of good for my anxiety. Because when things are going well, I’m like, I’m always in the back of my head like, something is about to go wrong. Things are going too well. Things are too happy right now.

Aradia: Yeah, Alin’s got that voice, and is believing it, and it turns out he’s right.

Ali: Unfortunate for me and my anxiety, for sure.

Aradia: Yeah. It’s not reassuring to be like, No, sometimes the voice is totally in. Like, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.

Ali: Oh, I know. I know. Right? When the voices are right, you’re like, Oh, shit. That’s going to fuck me up. I have to go back to therapy.

Bree: Well, I mean, he tells them that they wouldn’t believe him, but, you know, they badger him to explain. And he’s like, This all feels too easy. They all got the flowers and, you know, these aren’t necessarily all the same people we were planning to get before. And they’re kind of like, I mean, we don’t know how to process this, It’s all going to well. What would you like us to say? You know? Do you wish it was going worse?

Ali: I mean, I guess that’s the thing, right, is you’re like, I mean, I don’t want it to be bad, but at the same time, like we are in literature.

Bree: Yeah, well, yeah, exactly. You’re you’re here at 47% of a book. Maybe Alin can sense that he’s at 47%.

Aradia: Yeah. He’s like, there’s a midpoint around here somewhere. I can feel it.

Ali: We’re in a chapter called Betrayals, and there has not yet been a betrayal.

Bree: So this is where we get another entry in the perplexing tapestry of Sarra’s sexuality and romantic preferences.

Aradia: So what I liked about this was that she did actually think about romance and sexuality as separate things, and that felt really refreshing and excellent. Even if I don’t like her conclusions for herself.

Bree: Especially since Jane mentioned this in the Discord, I think, a day or two ago.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah.

Bree: I think that Melanie Rawn in the past did this just for Jane.

Aradia: Yeah. Yeah. It seems like it, because yeah, Jane said that just because she might be ace, doesn’t mean she’s aro, which of course, you know.

Bree: I feel like this is explicitly her saying she is not, because what she is craving is this emotional intimacy that these two people have.

Aradia: Yeah, she very well could still be ace, but she seems to be solidly not aro. And painfully straight, just painfully straight. She is one of the few people who’s actually completely heterosexual in the entire world.

Ali: Which, I’m like, How? Have you seen women?

Aradia: She thinks about women, and is like, Nope, that’s not doing it for me. And I’m just like, How? What is that like?

Bree: But here’s this thing, where it’s like, she’s decided that if she wants romance, she’s going to have to, you know, tie sex to it, which feels like the sort of thing where she’s still not that interested, because she’s like, well, I guess it’s I don’t like women. It’ll have to be a man, one of these years I should do something about it. Which is not really that –

Ali: That’s what you want in a partner. Yeah.

Aradia: There’s a moment of clarity where she separates romance and sexuality, and then she falls back into the clouds of, It’s the nineties. And we’re back to, If you’re a virgin at 26, then shame on you. Which is like, grrr.

Bree: Well she is 23, she’s 23, but then she does virgin shame herself.

Ali: There’s a lot to unpack there.

Bree: I was like, No, Sarra, we’re not going to slut shame or virgin shame.

Ali: Yeah, that’s the thing. How about, okay, when we talk about people’s bodies, how about we just go, Hey, whatever you want to do, as long as it’s not hurting people, is fine.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: And, yeah, I want to, like, make it so clear that, I consider – because of what I do with romance and the fact that I write sexy books – sex positivity is so important to me. But I also believe that consent doesn’t exist in a world where people can’t say no. And so, if it’s not just okay for people to say no, but a perfectly valid lifestyle, to always want to say no? If you’re not including not wanting to have sex as part of your natural states of existence, you’re basically destroying sex positivity. There is no sex positivity without respecting people’s ability to say perpetually no.

Aradia: Yeah, absolutely.

Ali: Right. And like, do what you want to do. I don’t know what’s so hard about that for people. Like I’m just like, first of all, it’s none of my business.

Bree: It’s overcorrection. It’s overcorrection. I see it a lot in romance. Like people who have been repressed, they come back and it’s like – I have this very vivid memory of this thing that happened on Twitter once where, you know, there was a long time, like even in the nineties and like 2000s, where, people would react very badly if you had a romance heroine who wasn’t a virgin. And so there was like, very recently – and it’s still in some genres, like historical romance, some of them – it would still get you very angry reviews if your heroine isn’t a virgin, it’s just a thing. And so, that’s very frustrating, right? And so like I wrote lots of heroines who weren’t virgins, because that should be okay. But then I have these guys who are like, this guy was trying to have a conversation with me where he was agreeing that he was hip to it. And he’s like, Yeah, I much prefer a woman who knows what she’s doing. And I was like, Oh, no, no.

Ali: Oh no.

Bree: What we are not going to do, is start thunderdoming saying women who have sex and women who don’t have sex ,as if there’s only one good kind. Yeah. Like, how about we just say, Your worth as a human being is not remotely tied to how much or how little you have sex, and shut it down.

Aradia: Yeah, Yeah. And there’s like, also this idea that, like, there’s some sort of transcendent personality change that happens, once you have sex, and that gets put up on such a fucking pedestal. Everything’s got to be a watershed, before and after. And that’s not how it works.

Bree: No. (sings) Especially since virginity is a myth!

Aradia: Her, huh! Yes.

Ali: You could lose it riding a bike.

Bree: (still singing) It’s a construct, it’s a social construct.

Aradia: It’s like, there is before and after certain formative experiences in your life. That’s a reality of linear time. But like, there’s no transcendent personality change that happens. You just have another experience in your tool belt that you’re like, Huh, Here’s how I feel about that. I’m going to explore or not moving forward. Like, that’s it. But it gets treated like a character’s development is critical to getting laid. And it’s like, ehh. No!

Ali: Well, and maybe for some people it is a transcendent experience. And in that case, good. Sure. So can learning to ride a bike be a trance – I’m watching someone on Tok learn to read. That is a transcendent experience for him. It could be a transcendent experience, but it doesn’t inherently have to be. And that’s also fine.

Bree: Also, no transcendent experience has to be universally transcendent or experienced.

Aradia: Yeah. Yeah. Sex is not a single experience that has a single output. It just isn’t.

Ali: Well, like, Gus and I have been together – this always drives me crazy. People are like, Oh, you’ve only been married two years. And I’m like, Yeah, but we’ve been together for ten. They immediately discount everything that has come before the day you got married, as if somehow you are like a new couple after that? And I’m like, in fact we are nota brand new couple after that. I mean, I think the one thing that is different – because I didn’t take his last name – I think the one thing that is different is like, I’m harder to leave. Governmentally. Yeah. But like, I mean, other than that – and it was like a wonderful party where we got to like, say in front of all of our family and friends how much we love each other, which is a beautiful gift – But I’m like, does that make us different people than we were before? Not really, we as a couple function pretty much the same. We have a little bit more of a appreciation of how much the other person loves each other because we were forced to say so in front of other people. But like, other than that, no, not really. Change is usually more gradual rather than like one big experience. And I think people don’t realize that.

Aradia: Yeah, certainly not in nineties fantasy literature.

Bree: No.

Ali: No. Being a virgin or not changes your whole life! Like, it really doesn’t.

Bree: But I appreciate that Sarra had some self-reflection there. I mean, I feel like my demi sexual Sarra is like, you know, that’s where I’m going with now. I am firmly onboard the, Sarra does not give a shit about sex until she meets someone who makes her want to. That’s where I am.

Ali: Yeah!

Aradia: Definitely. And more power to her. Not shaming herself over that.

Bree: Exactly. Okay, so they Sarra and her Mage convention are truckng along, and they’re supposed to meet this boat in the harbor, and they get there and –

Aradia: No boat.

Bree: No boat.

Ali: That was – okay, that was bad.

Aradia: That you know it’s bad.

Ali: It’s the moment where I was like, Fuck!

Aradia: Yeah, it was like, Oh, no. Alin’s spidey senses were tingling for real this whole time. He wasn’t being paranoid. Oh no, oh no, oh no.

Bree: Oh, no. And of course –

Ali: Oh no.

Bree: Melanie Rawn being Melanie Rawn was like, So there’s no boat. Oh, no. Let’s go check in with Collan.

Aradia: Argh! Betrayed! I am betrayed.

Ali: Melanie.

1:03:55 Music break

Bree: Collan’s got a headache, as if his dreams had been filled with all the names that had ever pierced his skull.

Aradia: I’m guessing it’s like a proximity to Gorynel Desse, thing.

Bree: It could be.

Aradia: Because I couldn’t think of what else it was.

Bree: He’s dreaming. Maybe he was really dreaming something that he shouldn’t have been dreaming.

Aradia: Forbidden dreams. Maybe that.

Bree: Like, maybe, you know, you got to wonder.

Ali: Forbidden dreams.

Bree: So he wakes up and gets the healer, goes back to bed with his magical roofie potion, basically, until noon. And this is the day that they’re supposed to be leaving. So he’s like, going down to the kitchen, you know, sussing out, is anybody getting ready to leave? The whole estate still sort of looks like it’s just a normal day. But then he, like, notices that some grooms are getting journey packs and rushing off on fine horses. And, you know, it does finally start to look like maybe some things are happening. And he gets his delicious sandwich, which we, in true fantasy fashion, have described to us, because they always want us to eat bread and cheese.

Aradia: As one should.

Bree: Liver paste on bread and folding it around cheese and tomatoes.

Ali: That would literally destroy my whole life.

Aradia: Mmh, Give it to me.

Bree: So yes, he goes up. Checks out our sexy spy maid, Tarise.

Aradia: Who’s married now, I noticed. She managed to married to her master, the horse dude.

Bree: That she had the big crush on.

Ali: Good for her.

Bree: Horny, horny spy maid got her man. So I’m happy.

Aradia: She got that horse dong.

Bree: Yeah. (laughs)

Ali: Aradia, you’re really coming into your own this episode and I really am just enjoying it.

Bree: I love it. I love it.

Ali: Aradia is fully, like. Oh, I understand the game now. I understand the game, being the first time reader. You’re just here to, like, be a Chaos Goblin, and that is it. That is all you need to do.

Bree: Aradia: dropping horse dong, pro kidnapping.

Ali: Dropping horse dong

Aradia: It’s really fun. We’re supporting kidnapping and talking about horse dick. Yes, this is the joy of being a first time reader.

Ali: That’s what the first time reader experience is to me. Hot takes about kidnapping.

Bree: I’m so lucky I have two of you. It’s just like a chaos factory nonstop.

Ali: I feel like I’m infectious.

Aradia: It’s a delightful infection. I love it.

Bree: It is amazing.

Ali: It’s good. I’m proud of you. You are really coming into your own chaos goblin.

Aradia: Thank you. Chaos mode! Haha!

Ali: Yeah. You’re like, I don’t need to know shit, actually. And it’s very freeing.

Aradia: It’s a beautiful, beautiful exercise.

Ali: Isn’t it so good for you in a way.

Aradia: So good. Oh, my God. Beautiful.

Ali: You’re like, I don’t have to be smart at all.

Bree: I love it, you guys. I love it.

Ali: Okay, So, horse dong. That’s where we were.

Bree: Tarise goes out and basically calls like, is Taig Ostin here? Because he’s like, Yeah, I know what this message meant, except for he didn’t. It wasn’t that Taig was coming here, it was that they’re going to Ostin hold. And he’s like, okay well then who is the guide? And our favorite amnesia inducing Mage steps out from behind a curtain.

Aradia: So dramatic.

Bree: Like he’s literally hiding by the tapestry.

Ali: Gorynel Desse, theater major.

Aradia: Seriously.

Bree: Gorynel Desse is like, I have arrived.

Ali: See, but I identify with it. This is the most of I’m like Gorynel Desse.

Aradia: I love the dramatic entry. Yeah.

Bree: Would you just, like, lurk in castles behind tapestries?

Ali: It would be all I would do. Would be, sit there and wait for a moment to make a dramatic entry. Like, I would just sit there, like fucking What’s his name? Oh, Jesus. In Hamlet. What’s his name? The – Polonius! It started with an L, obviously it started with an L. I’d be Polonius behind the fucking curtain, constantly waiting for my moment.

Bree: Yay.

Ali: That was a sick literary reference, everybody. Anyway.

Bree: It was, it was, A-plus. So he jumps out. Collan’s like, You son of a Fifth!, like he’s going to his jump this elderly Mage and start beating him up.

Aradia: Justified.

Ali: You son of a Fifth. Melanie with these fake swears! Fake swears make me laugh the hardest of any fantasy thing.

Aradia: They’re so fun.

Bree: I love fake swears. And basically he’s just like, Shut up, boy! y You can yell at me if you want. Get it out of your system. You have a minute.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: And then Collan, like, you know, sort of gives him some back talk. And basically this is Gorynel Desse’s, Shut up and listen to me if you want to live.

Aradia: Exactly how he introduced himself to Collan back in the beginning.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: I know it’s over and over again, but he’s got one scratch.

Aradia: He’s a one trick pony.

Bree: All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again.

Aradia: The wheel wheels as the wheel wheels.

Ali: Time is a wheel. Oh, my God, We cannot escape.

Bree: I am rewatching Battlestar Galactica because Ali’s husband mentioned that on their Wheel Takes podcast, so I am deep in my BSG nonsense era. Again.

Ali: I accidentally – not to be that person – but I accidentally met a BSG writer on the picket line the other day.

Bree: That’s so cool!

Ali: It was very cool and he wrote one of my favorite episodes, but I was talking to him –

Bree: Oh, which one, I have to know now?

Ali: Okay, the one where they’re in the apartment, and they’re like, all the music is playing, and this painting.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Mm. Anyway, so. Great episode. Great episode. But here we’re talking about it because I like, literally, looked at him and went, Oh, nice Battlestar Galactica shirt. I love that show. And he was like, Thank you. I wrote for it. And I was like, (laughs)

Aradia: That’s awesome.

Bree: Amazing.

Ali: So then I wasfriends with him for the rest of the march! Anyway, so that was fun. Yeah, anyway. Continue, Bree. I’m sorry I made this moment about me.

Bree: That’s okay. No, no, it’s just reminding me, like, you know, I love it when you meet somebody whose work you love. It’s just like the coolest. It’s the coolest thing.

Ali: It’s the coolest thing to be like, You’re a human, in the world, right? And you’re talking to me? Stupid me?

Bree: Okay, so we jump back to Sarra again. She orders her Mages to scatter. We get another cool use of Mage globes. This is our – we haven’t been expanding what we know magic can do very much in this part. It turns out that Tamos Wolvar is like, apparently the O.G. Mage globe dude. He is like one of the most skilled Mage globe people ever. And so he makes these little globes for them that, once they decide where they’re going to meet up, a picture of it will flare inside the globe and show them where to go, and then it will disappear. So that’s a useful bit of magic.

Aradia: Yeah, very cool. Very specific.

Ali: Very useful, very cool.

Bree: And Mage globes tend to be like the thing, which is another way that like, circles seem to be very important to their magic.

Aradia: Oh, yeah, of course.

Ali: Oh, yeah.

Aradia: Three dimensional circle.

Bree: Three dimensional circles.

Ali: One could almost say, a wheel.

Bree: So they’re basically trying to, like, figure out, what do we do, where do we go? Sarra goes on a little shopping trip, basically getting them to yell at her.

Ali: This girl is always shopping.

Aradia: Retail therapy. Retail strategising.

Ali: I think she is always shopping and I support it.

Bree: So was there anything in this section that may have jumped out to you guys?

Aradia: I didn’t like where she sort of weirdly angrily pseudo flirted with Val, and was like, Oh, (giggles) I think so much better when a man yells at me! Didn’t like that, didn’t love that. Not a fan of, Women just need a firm hand to settle them down.

Bree: That’s the end of it. You really do have the worst manners of any man I’ve ever met—except one. Who I’m assuming is Collan. But the rotten truth is that when you yell at me, it helps me think! Yeah, it’s not maybe the best dynamic.

Ali: Okay, I’m the exact opposite. As soon as someone yells at me, every thought that has ever been in my brain is gone.

Aradia: Right?

Ali: And I start crying immediately.

Bree: Sarra apparently is like, Oh, you yelling at me? I’m going to yell at you louder and I’m going to slap down your argument. So apparently that’s how it helps her think, because she likes to fight.

Aradia: Or it’s like, that’s how I fight. But I never say things that make sense. I just have lots of words. But none of them are good.

Ali: I don’t respond well to being yelled at, at all.

Bree: Yeah. I mean, I don’t love that Sarra said that, but also Sarra so clearly wins this fight. I guess if you always win the fights when men yell at you, maybe you like it more.

Aradia: I guess it – Yeah, it’s a funny little quip to mike drop with, but I just. The antagonism and childishness of it, just. And like, I think better when you yell at me it was, Yeah. That’s all that really stood out to me about that section.

Bree: Eh. It’s not my favorite either.

Ali: I’m like, emotional regulation is important.

Aradia: I’m trying! You people aren’t helping in this book! This is one of my problems with nineties literature in general, is how many bad interpersonal and emotional regulation techniques I learned. Because I thought that these authors were teaching me how people behave. I am now going back and reading it. I’m like, Well, that explains a lot about me. Thanks, you know.

Bree: No, no.

Ali: I also feel like, that was kind of the emotional regulation at the time? Like, I mean, there were definitely people who were outside of that, but I feel like people were like, Feminism means women yell back!

Aradia: Yeah, yeah.

Bree: Yeah. We were still in the shoulder pads era, so. Just coming out of it.

Ali: Yeah, we were in the, How masculine can women be?, era, yeah.

Bree: I definitely had some high school shoulder pads still. I hated them. I hated shoulder pads. So much.

Ali: You wore shoulder pads in high school?

Bree: I had to do things where I’d, like, wear suits or something?

Ali: Okay.

Bree: So like -this is like, hilarious now – but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I grew up. And so somehow I ended up getting a full ride scholarship in 1998 to the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, which is an extremely prestigious business school. And it involves me, like actually living in the coed business frat house. And so even though I am the least business-y, professional, dress up in suits person who has ever existed on this planet –

Aradia: And me.

Ali: Other than me.

Bree: I somehow ended up a member of a coed business fraternity, living in a business fraternity house, going to business school.

Aradia: Wow.

Bree: Even though, on the first day of my business classes, they would ask our ten year plans. And I’d be like, I want to be a writer who works in their pajamas.

Aradia: You achieved the dream!

Ali: Oh my god! You did it.

Bree: Achieved! However, I did not belong in that school at all, and I flunked out fantastically by just stopping going to class. But I had great shoulder pads.

Ali: I don’t understand – I don’t know what I’m supposed to do at 30. Because I, I don’t know how to dress, because all I wear is like athleisure shit, right? Because I’m a writer who works at home and I very rarely have to see other people. And then what I do have to see other people, and I go in, I don’t know what to fucking wear, because everything that I wore was pre-pandemic. But now, they fucked around, and now everything’s different. But it’s like crop tops and high waisted jeans, and I’m like, Well, I can’t wear crop tops in a professional setting, so what? What the fuck is a 30 year old woman supposed to wear? I really don’t understand because, like, the jeans that I wore are now no longer cool. Now it’s like baggy jeans, but I can’t wear that in a professional setting. Like, what the fuck do I wear? Thisis a genuine question that I’ve been asking myself every day for like six months, is that I don’t know what to wear. And I’ve been following these TikTok accounts that are like, Here’s how millennials women should be dressing, to still look young and cool, but not too young and cool, because I’m like, I don’t want to be that person that’s like, trying to be like, How do you do, fellow kids? Because I’m not a kid, but I’m not an old lady, so I should be somewhat current, right? And a lot of writing is how you present yourself. So you do have to, when you go into these meetings, look like you’re young, cool and with the times, but you don’t want to look so young and cool that you look like a child. So I’m like, I don’t know what the fuck to wear. So if anybody has any ideas, please let me know in the discord, because I’ve like genuinely been struggling to the point where someone suggested that I hire a stylist, but I can’t afford that shit.

Bree: Please help Ali, because I certainly cannot.

Ali: So what cheap clothing can I wear? Because I’ve got a fuck load of clothes.

Bree: I’m that hermit kind of writer where we’re just glad if we put on clothes before talking to people. They’re just like.

Ali: TV writers just sometimes have to go in and talk to executives, and I don’t know what the fuck to wear, and they all look cooler than I do, because I guess they have left their house in the past three years. I haven’t done that. I’ve just seen the TikToks. But it’s all young people looking young and being influencers. What the fuck do we wear? And I can’t wear a suit, because that’s too dressed up, like you can’t be. So I need a business casual outfit that looks young and current.

Bree: Yes. I do not know what normal – what the current business casual trends are, but I’m sure you could google them and find out.

Ali: In hot weather!

Bree: Oh, yeah. In hot weather.

Ali: In hot weather. What the fuck do I wear? Because I don’t know anymore.

Aradia: That sounds very difficult. And I’m going to defer to the audience on that one because I – no idea.

Ali: Yes, audience help!

Bree: Vote, vote.

Ali: Help me.

Aradia: That’s your homework assignment, audience, is help Ali figure out what to wear.

Ali: Yeah, Help me figure out what the fuck a millennial woman is supposed to wear. I’m 30 years old, so I’m not old, but I’m not young. I’m like, firmly middle, so I have to dress like a professional, but still kind of cool.

Bree: I was never cool, so I didn’t have that problem.

Ali: Me neither! Me neither. But now you have to pretend!

Bree: Well, yeah.

Ali: Someone help me.

Bree: I will post this on Discord – in the nineties, like I found this picture and I did put it on Twitter. I had a full length denim, bedazzled, painted neon pink duster trench coat.

Aradia: Amazing.

Ali: See? But I feel like now that would be cool again. Like, this is the thing. It’s like, circled back around.

Bree: Yeah. Actually, like everybody thought it was incredibly cool.

Aradia: Yeah. Because it’s 30 years, right? So, yeah, you have to dress like it’s 1992.

Bree: Oh, good. So I will give you my closet, Ali. So.

Ali: Great. Well, we can switch.

Bree: Okay. Okay, Let’s go back to this. There’s one more thing in this section I want you guys to notice.

Aradia: Oh? Okay.

Bree: The roses. It turns out the roses had a second meaning? What do we feel about that?

Aradia: So I thought that was amazing. Like, Oh, it’s the fashion now in secret messaging to use flowers. And then, you know, Glenin and Co were like, Hehehe, you know what we can do? We can use the flowers to tell you to go fuck yourselves. I thought it was beautiful the way that they used that means of, Here’s your message! But if you actually pay attention, it’s like a poison pill. I thought it was brilliant.

Bree: Glenin literally co-opted their message and then signed her crime.

Aradia: It’s beautiful.

Ali: But okay, explain this to me because I think I missed something here. I didn’t read it right. I don’t know. I was confused by it. Please explain.

Bree: Okay. So basically, they’ve got a flower code now. And this is something they’ve been using recently, which is like all these flowers mean different things. And so you send messages. Basically, someone in the Rising betrayed them, and so Glenin knows about the flower code.

Ali: Gorynel Desse did.

Bree: We don’t know if Gorynel Desse did, but I mean, Ali hates him. So maybe.

Ali: My theory is, it’s Gorynel Desse. It makes the most sense. Occam’s razor.

Bree: Someone betrayed the flower code, and so when – that’s why they were showing up at different times in the wrong times, these Mages. They were getting flowers before they were supposed to, that came from Glenin or someone under a different –

Ali: Motherfucking Glenin.

Bree: Basically getting everybody to the place that she wanted them to be at the time she wanted them to be.

Aradia: But she was signing every one of those messages. The woman who’s going to stab you in the face when we meet next.

Bree: And so, like it turned out, the guy who knew the roses, whose grandmother had like, written the book on roses, was like, Wait a minute, that two combinations of roses literally means, The sender betrays. So Glenin signed her crime. Because it’s not enough to like crime. She has to betray you, and also trick you, and also then make you feel stupid about it.

Aradia: Gloat.

Ali: Oh, I didn’t catch that. I legitimately thought that meant that Gorynel Desse was betraying them.

Aradia: Somebody did. And we don’t know who.

Bree: Well, here’s what it says. The flowers had been tied with Desse colors; that Gorynel could be the betrayer was a stark impossibility.

Ali: Is it?

Bree: Also in all cases, the bouquets had simply shown up on doorsteps. There was no name or face to connect with the sender. So I guess Ali’s the only one asking, Is it really impossible?

Ali: Is it really impossible? Brain wipers, self-taught Gorynel Desse.

Bree: How could we distrust this man who spends his free time stealing the memories of babies? I don’t know.

Aradia: It’s going to be someone we didn’t expect. I don’t think that it’s going to be Gorynel Desse, but it’s going to be someone who shouldn’t have been able to betray them. And like, either. Like, I just. I suspect that the duplicity is going to keep going. I don’t think this is a simple matter of like a mole that got in or something.

Ali: What if it’s Val?

Bree: Oh. Oh, my God, my heart

Aradia: I mean, it would have to be like, you know, sleeper cell shit in his brain.

Bree: Aradia looks shaken to the core.

Aradia: Val seems less likely then then fucking Gorynel Desse to me, because Alin’s right there, you know? But like, it’s not going to be someone who we all didn’t like. That’s not how betrayals work.

Ali: Well, if it’s Gorynel Desse, I didn’t like Gorynel Desse!

Aradia: Well, fair enough. Butteenage Bree likes him, so, you know.

Bree: I did. I still call him Gorsha. He’s going to be my Gorsha. My problematic fave.

Ali: Though I did like his little dramatic entrance through the curtain. I will give him that. That was funny as fuck.

Bree: Yeah, the curtain was pretty fun. Gorsha, you get a pass this this episode, so far all you’ve done that’s terrible is like, appear, and be a bit of a dick.

Ali: That we know of! Okay, my other, this would be shocking, but also like kind of rad, would be Val. Put Val forward as my second option.

Aradia: I hate that.

Bree: Chat, do you love it or hate it? Ali loves it, Aradia hates it.

Aradia: It would be a good move. I wouldn’t see that coming, because I hate the prospect at this point.

Bree: Okay, so we jump back to Collan again, we’re just going back and forth between Collan and Sarra at this point.

Aradia: Seriously, it’s like a heartbeat, like speeding up, as we get to the end of the section.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: Well, what if he did it? What if it’s related to his kid, Because he has a kid!

Aradia: See, it’s going to be complicated. Whatever happens is going to be complicated. It’s not going to be simple. I mean, I was defending kidnapping to protect a kid, so I can.

Bree: You were just defending kidnapping to protect kids.

Ali: So. Right. Because the Weavers want patriarchy, right? So that would bring his kid back to him.

Bree: I mean, I wonder why I was encouraging you with that. Was I gaslighting you? I don’t know.

Aradia: You?

Ali: But that would bring his kid back to him potentially. If the Weave would –

Bree: Yeah. I mean.

Ali: Because who could he love more than Alin?

Aradia: His kid. That’s the only person.

Bree: Pretty much only his kid.

Aradia: Yeah. Oooh. Ooh.

Ali: I’m just saying, he has something to gain potentially from society being all jumbled.

Aradia: Yeah, Yeah.

Bree: Yeah

Ali: Your Honor. I present to the court, Val.

Bree: Okay. Oof, that’s a tough one. Chat, Discord. We’re going to have to let you weigh in.

Aradia: Spicy.

Bree: The condemnation, Val is on trial now.

Ali: I also never trust the funny ones in literature, because those are the ones I always I fall for. I love them instantly –

Bree: And then they hurt you.

Ali: I like the sassy, funny ones. And then they hurt me every time. Every time the writers are like, Ha! But they were also evil. And I’m like, No, they had a personality! You know?

Aradia: Right. It sucks.

Ali: So Val has a personality. I love that. So I’m immediately suspicious, because my taste is trash.

Aradia: Yes, that’s super sound reasoning.

Ali: I always love the one that betrays me.

Bree: Okay. I’m going to jump us ahead, because as Aradia said, we are going faster and faster. These little sections now, and this next one isn’t very long. Basically, they have dinner. You know, everybody has dinner together. Maybe Agatine is looking a little sad that this might be her last dinner at this table with her family. You know, Gorynel Desse didn’t share the meal, but he kind of pops in as they’re all doing their music and stuff afterwards. Then Sela arrives and she’s extremely, extremely pregnant now.

Aradia: She’s about to pop and go on the run. This is a terrible combo, very bad.

Ali: Ugh. It’s giving Bethlehem, you know what I mean.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That old chestnut.

Bree: They’re holding the little girl. So. Oh, yeah. So Tarise comes in, and Rillian, so super sexy, horny spy, and her horse dong husband (laughs). Aradia has secured that nickname. Col is getting depressed and playing gloomy tunes. He’s sitting in a room with, like all of the most outlaw elicit rebellion people, masterminds.

Aradia: And he’s like, I’m never going to participate in the rebellion again. It’s like, Dude, you’re with the high council. Calm down.

Ali: The man’s just been kidnapped, Aradia. He doesn’t need to be calm.

Aradia: He doesn’t know what kidnapping is. He’s about to get kidnapped at the end of this section, for real.

Ali: I’m sorry. I’m not supposed to bang on stuff. But that is hysterical.

Bree: Speaking of. Yes. So they all get their packs out. Everybody has one except for Sela, because she’s carrying a baby. They go to the, have a word room, where Sarra left from with Alin and Val all that time ago. And the youngest son is like, Oh, I didn’t know there was a Ladder in here. And Collan’s like, A Ladder?, and then Verald knocks him on the back of the head. And now he is being truly kidnapped, or like, next level kidnapped, hardcore kidnapped?

Aradia: They’re moving him to a second location. It’s terrible.

Ali: Aradia is like, Oh, what’s a concussion amongst friends.

Aradia: I’m on the soapbox of Stop knocking people out for a fucking laugh in movies and books, because it’s bad to get concussed.

Ali: Are we going to call it a pro-cussion? Because in this case, it’s okay. It’s like con-cussion.

Aradia: This isn’t okay. They should’ve just blindfolded him.

Bree: We’re gently, lightly pro kidnapping, but anti concussion.

Ali: We draw the line at concussions and other traumatic brain injury.

Aradia: I’m just saying.

Bree: Listen, Collan is racing Elayne here, from Wheel of Time, with the most number of head injuries.

Aradia: Yes.

Bree: We need to protect that brain because it’s not doing great.

Aradia: He’s supposed to have songs and stuff in there. He can’t be having TBIs all the time.

Bree: But that is how this section ends. He gets knocked out because apparently for some reason, remember when they – Do you guys have any idea of like, why they might have knocked him out? Because he’s not fighting them.

Aradia: I guess so he can’t see things which – oh no, there’s something to do with magic getting fucky when you pass through Ladders.

Bree: Yeah. Do you guys remember when they first brought Sarra through the Ladder?

Aradia: Doesn’t she like, remember who she – no, she gets sick, or she remembers who she is?

Bree: It’s the Wards. The Wards cause problems.

Aradia: Yeah. And he has a bunch of Wards, so.

Ali: Oh! When you go through for the first time. Is that right?

Bree: Well, just basically, taking someone who’s Warded through a Ladder is apparently hard. And he is very Warded.

Aradia: So it’s easier to take that consciousness through when it’s passed out.

Bree: Yeah. So apparently they’re knocking him out.

Aradia: They should have just given him some sleepy time tea.

Ali: Oh yeah. I’m like, they have drugs. Could they not just drug him?

Bree: Apparently this time it was just a light head concussion.

Aradia: On the other hand, they would have had to drug him without his consent, which I’m never pro drugging people without their consent. That’s not good.

Ali: Never pro drugging someone without their consent. But if we’re going to go drugging someone without their consent. Traumatic brain injury without their consent.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I take – yeah.

Ali: I mean, there’s like, they’re both bad.

Bree: We are traversing a moral quagmire over here.

Aradia: Hey, are we not hot nuance?

Bree: The nuance is very hot today.

Ali: I have to say, they’re both morally terrible, but if you’re going to do one.

Bree: I mean, probably.

Ali: When it’s for their own good, in quotation marks, if it’s for their own good.

Aradia: Yeah. Which one can they recover from more easily?

Ali: Because I, personally, if I had to go through a Ladder – in this particular situation, I’m not talking about drugging people in other instances or in real life. I’m saying in this particular situation – when the choice is between being drugged without my consent or being bashed in the head, I would say thank you so much for choosing drugging me without my consent and not bashing me in the fucking head.

Bree: Probably. Yep.

Ali: He’s already got headaches.

Aradia: Exactly. I’m like, the memory holes. And now you’re putting real holes in his brain. Like, stop.

Bree: D minus kidnapping, D minus kidnapping.

Ali: This is not good for him.

Aradia: Yeah, this is not a safenap anymore.

Ali: This is not a safenap. We are con this cussion.

1:31:44 Music break, End of Betrayals

Bree: Yeah. Okay. Last section.

Aradia: Glenin!

Bree: Now that we sent someone unconscious. Sarra, we make it back to the sewer. Explicit sewage, this time. Tt is morning. And apparently you don’t want to be in the sewer at morning, because people do something when they get up. They do a bunch of things.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: So Melanie Rawn is like, do you want to think about sewage here? Here’s a couple paragraphs.

Ali: Always, Melanie, always.

Bree: On sewage.

Ali: It’s a passion of mine.

Bree: Elomar comes out and he’s like, so upset, he’s basically like, pulls a huge plant out of its planter to go get water so they could, like, wash with it. And basically they’re all like, We’ve got 14 Mages now, basically, And they may not all be here because they probably had to come through, like a few at a time. They wouldn’t all fit in there.

Aradia: Right, right, right. They’re going through in batches.

Bree: So Alin and Val have gone back to get the other ones. And basically they’re – here we are, Glenin has arrived.

Aradia: Rivaling Gorynel Desse.

Ali: Glenin has a very dramatic – you know what? Everyone in this series knows how to make an entrance. Really, truly, deeply.

Bree: Do you like her opening line? Crawled out of a sewer, I see. How appropriate.

Aradia: It’s so mustache twirling. It’s so villainous. I love it.

Ali: Whilst holding the girl hostage? I mean, Glenin. Okay, here’s it. Hear me out. Glenin is a fascist, but if you’re going to be a fascist, be a fucking baller about it.

Aradia: Yeah, I mean, she is getting into it. She’s getting her hands dirty. She’s getting directly involved, and she’s got quippy lines to go along with it. She’s fabulous. She’s fucking fabulous. Terrible, but fabulous.

Bree: So she’s got Mai. She knows who Mai is. That this is her cousin. And she’s like, Did you guys know this is my cousin? And Sarra’s like, Never thought about it once. No.

Ali: Whaaaaat?

Bree: And she’s like, Wow, but she really does look a lot like you, Sarra, isn’t that fortunate? Sarra’s like, Never heard of her. What? No. What?

Ali: Pay no attention to the fact that we are genetically the same.

Bree: So basically, this is where we get – What do you guys think of this? This is where we get Sarra versus Glenin for the first time, truly, where they’re not pretending to be friends, where they’re just countering each other.

Aradia: I really liked getting to see them actually have a confrontation. I was worried we weren’t going to get one, but no, we got one right here at the end. I enjoyed it. I definitely think that someone should have been training Sarra this whole time. Clearly, like the only reason that this goes well for Sarra is because Mai sacrifices herself. Glenin was so OP compared to everyone else combined.

Ali: And I was saying this this whole fucking time. I was like, Oh, we’re going to like, traumatic brain injury these kids through childhood. Not train them at all, and then put them up against fucking Glenin, the woman who has been literally speed running through all of her magic training and has maybe some problematic relationships with a tutor.

Bree: They were not prepared at all. Sarra is intellectually prepared, because she understands Glenin, and like she’s got this instinct stuff. And so everything – that’s the one thing, Glenin is almost annoyed about how Sarra can guess everything she did, everything she was going to do, what her plans are next.

Ali: Sarra is very useful for exposition.

Aradia: Yes, yes, yes.

Bree: Sarra is like, You cleared the house, You did this, you did that. You know, and Glenin is like, Right every time. This is amazing.

Ali: But also annoying.

Aradia: You’re almost smart enough to recruit to my fascist army!

Bree: Yeah, You’re starting to annoy me.

Ali: It is annoying when somebody is, like, telling you your plans.

Bree: Yeah. At one point she says, Let us say that I know you better than you might think. And Elomar, like, steps up to her like, Girl, cut it the fuck out. You are flying too close to the sun here.

Ali: Don’t annoy the magic fascist.

Bree: No, not, Don’t annoy!. Because Elomar knows that they’re sisters.

Aradia: Yeah, he’s like, Don’t reveal it.

Bree: Elomar is the only one who knows who she is.

Ali: Oh.

Bree: So he’s like, Girl, you are trying these Warrds awful hard.

Ali: And then at one point she’s like, I am going to do the thing. I’m going to take you all prisoner and then have you have a lot of babies and then kill you. And Sarra is like, You’re not going to do that.

Aradia: Oh, my God. So gross. So gross.

Ali: Oh, so gross!

Bree: Yes. We have discovered that Glenin’s long term – Glenin is really into Ambrai breeding programs. Not Ambrai, just like in general, Mage Guardian breeding program.

Ali: And you know what always goes well for human rights and is always a good indication of how society is doing? Breeding programs! Always a good sign.

Aradia: If you’re designing the breeding program, you are on the wrong side.

Ali: You are a baddie. That’s pretty objective usually.

Aradia: Yeah, it’s just –

Ali: I think that’s a hint. You know?

Aradia: It would be grosser if Glenin knew that this was her sister, but it’s really gross anyway, even without her knowing that.

Bree: She does insult Elomar. She says, Lusira Garvedian’s lanky charmer, aren’t you? Her family has appalling taste in men. She doesn’t like him.

Aradia: And she just, like, kills one of them with her mind. She just says they’ll like, look at them and they die, thing.

Bree: Yeah, yeah. She’s basically like, Yeah, shut up.

Aradia: Which is just, anyone who can kill you just by looking at you is likely to become a fascist and is scary.

Bree: Yeah, not great.

Ali: I’m going to be real. If you’re killing people for annoying you, you’re probably a bad person. I just think that’s safe to say. I don’t think there’s a lot of nuance in that one, you know?

Bree: But then she makes a mistake. She says that the Mage Captal is still alive.

Aradia: Would they have all thought that the Mage Captal was dead? I didn’t quite follow this.

Bree: I mean, they probably would have thought he would have been on the boat.

Aradia: Oh, the boat that was supposed to be there.

Bree: Yeah. She said she killed everybody who was on the boat.

Ali: Right. Including Agata.

Bree: Yeah. The person, the captain.

Aradia: Right, right, right.

Bree: Basically, they find out that he’s alive, and Mages have, like, one rule. They’re like, their number one rule is, the Captal has to survive. So, they will drop literally everything, every familial association, every loyalty, the Captal must survive. So when Glenin tells them this, it’s like she activated super Mage, priority number one.

Ali: Right? I also love that she’s like, I’m going to do this super evil breeding thing. And Sarra looks at her and is like, You are not going to do that. You will not personally want to do that. And Glenin is like, Oh, I would! And Sarra is like, You would not. And they have a weird stare off over it.

Bree: Yes, she’s doing this, Never. You will never let them kill me. Never, never. And then she’s about to tell Glenin why she will never let him kill him. Basically say, you’re my sister. But before she gets a chance to, Tamos Wolvar, the OG of Mage globes. He basically just finishes this thing he was working on, which is, he cases Glenin in a giant Mage globe, like basically puts her in a hamster ball.

Aradia: We love a good magical hamster ball to put the villain in. I love that scene in so many different movies and shows, where it’s like, And the magic hamster ball forcefield. Yes!

Bree: Yeah. So Magic hamster ball. So Glenin, and Mai though, are both in the magic hamster ball, right?

Aradia: Right.

Bree: And so the Mages are all running towards the Ladder or whatever, trying to get out of there. He’s trying to hold the hamster ball, Glenin’s like, I am going to fuck you up, old man, and break your hamster ball.

Aradia: And Mai is in pain for some reason. I don’t know why.

Bree: Yeah, she’s – probably this is just the magic, like trapped in there with Glenin, and Glenin can defend herself against it, but I’m guessing she’s not bothering to protect Mai. So Mai is on her knees, holding her head, screaming.

Aradia: But then she does the like, Leave me thing, and Sarra is like, No, I’m not going to leave you! And, ergh, my heart.

Bree: She tells Sarra to leave her, Wolvar groans, like it’s clear that Glenin is getting the advantage, and Mai jumps up and grabs the, Glenin’s sphere, little magical sphere, and like, somehow manages to explode it inside there. And that it’s so sad.

Aradia: I didn’t quite get the mechanism, but I got the sacrifice.

Bree: Yeah, basically, I think – and I’m not 100% sure either. I’m not sure like we are supposed to really understand at this point – Basically, like, you know, Glenin had a ball of magic she was using to attack the sphere, and she also had her own Warding. So she’s protected against magic hurting her. But Mai wasn’t. And when her magic exploded, it knocked her out, like the backlash of it, I think is what we’re supposed to think.

It couldn’t actually hurt her body because she has magical protections. But her magic being crushed or whatever Mai did, basically knocked her unconscious and shattered all of the other magic.

Aradia: Right. But it actually concussed, what’s her name. Yeah.

Bree: Yes, R.I.P. Mai, a legend. Ali waited for you for so long.

Ali: And for what.

Aradia: For a noble sacrifice.

Bree: Hey, she is a legend, she went out big on her own terms.

Aradia: Yeah she didn’t get breeding programmed. She fucking let the group escape. Yeah.

Ali: Hey, that’s a win. Frankly.

Bree: And unfortunately Glenin’s Wards are still working, so they can’t actually get at her. They don’t even understand how, none of them think that it should be possible for Wards to be working while she’s unconscious. But she’s got that Malerrisi magic. So who knows? The Weavers weave as the Weavers weave.

Aradia: And the Malerrisi. So that was another interesting thing with this conflict, was how Sarra starts thinking of Glenin as The Malerrisi, like, capital letters, like, this is not my sister. This is not even necessarily a human being. This is the Malerrisi, this is the point of the spear of the people we’re fighting.

Bree: I think this is the moment where her big sister dies in her heart, for the first time.

Aradia: Exactly. Which is like, Oh, boy. I mean, I see why this is the end of the section, because it’s like, I’ve been holding out hope for the sister reconciliation. And now Sarra at least is saying like, that’s never going to happen.

Ali: For some people it’s the family Thanksgiving table. For others, it’s a magic battle, you know what I mean?

Bree: Yeah. When the hamster ball blows.

Ali: And a cousin’s a casualty.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: That old saying. So basically, yeah. They’re finally trying to get her out of there. Everybody else has gone back through the Ladder, but Alin and Val and Elo have, like, the Captal downstairs in the carriage. So they’re trying to get Sarra to leave, and she doesn’t want to leave her cousin. And then finally, she does. She has this little realization, she would not be a Warrior in the Rising, making battle with words or swords. Nor a Healer or a Scholar. She would be what she had designed for herself to be in that chart drawn up years ago in Pinderon. She would be the one who made things happen. Just like Glenin. So Sarra’s like, I, too, would like to be a dictator of my own side, so.

Aradia: Right? I can do it better! I don’t know.

Bree: Like, I’m not sure, girls, his is the lesson we need, but –

Aradia: Cailet, save us! The last sister has to come in and spare us.

Ali: Cailet, get your ass in here. Solve your sister’s problems.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: Here’s the thing you may have missed, Ali, at the very end. She decides she’s going to make Mai look like her, so that people think that she’s dead. So hey switched jewelry, and –

Ali: Ohh, that’s smart.

Aradia: The name identity disks and all that.

Bree: Identity disk and stuff. But then Val is like, You’re very alike. But not identical. Anyone who knows you will know the difference. And she says, I don’t understand. And then she saw in his eyes what he meant to do and cried out. And he told her to go downstairs. And she’s like, I won’t. And he says, Sarra, now.

Ali: Oh no! He’s going to fuck up her face!

Bree: And then the last paragraph is, And because she knew he was right, and hated him for it, she took one last look at the bodies on the floor: the Prentice Mage, dead too young; the Malerrisi who had been Sarra’s sister; the blonde girl with Sarra’s face. Who soon would have no face.

Aradia: Ooof.

Ali: Why do we not Ward everybody?

Bree: And then we end with, From now on Glenin is dead to me. There’s only Cailet left. Only Cailet…

Ali: Can I ask the question? Why did we Ward Collan? But not Mai. I just. I need to know, what is special about Collan?

Bree: You know what? I don’t think Collan is Warded against magic, though. I think it’s just against memories. Because that’s the sort of thing. And I don’t think that either Mages even know how to do the Warding that Glenin has, because like, even in this, they’re like, How is she doing that? She shouldn’t be Warded if she’s unconscious.

Ali: All right, that’s fair.

Bree: So they don’t know how to do the sort of Warding.

Ali: Okay.

Bree: It’s in the secret Evil Weaver book.

Ali: Oh, it’s probably evil Weaver Magic. No, they probably have to do evil things to make it happen.

Aradia: Probably.

Bree: So how do we feel? Do we feel sufficiently betrayed? Like on a scale of 1 to 10 betrayals, how many betrayals have we betrayed?

Aradia: Oh, I’m definitely ten. I feel very betrayed.

Ali: Oh, well, you know, I feel like I saw this coming. I saw a confrontation with Glenin coming. She seems to always know what’s going on. But I want to know who the Mage is, who’s betraying us. That’s what I really want to know.

Bree: We did find out that someone compromised the flower code. I mean, I guess who? You said Val.

Ali: Your Honor. I submit Gorynel Desse first. But Val, to the table.

Bree: Okay, so I want one likely one from you, Aradia and one dark horse. Please don’t let it be –

Aradia: Okay. My likely one is Val, and my dark horse is Alin.

Bree: Hah! Oh!

Ali: I convinced you!

Aradia: The cold hostage, the holding out of the son, access to the child is a, that’s a really potent thing. But the dark horse for me would be, Alin has somehow been blackmailed into like, you know, in order to save Val, you have to betray everybody else, including Val’s cause or something. I don’t believe anyone is betraying in a straight ahead fashion. I believe it’s a blackmail, complicated, convoluted thing. But yeah, our two gay cousin lover boys, like, I suspect them both.

Ali: He’s at straight ahead, and I’m like, it’s definitely not straight ahead, considering who our suspects are.

Aradia: It’s gay ahead.

Ali: Yeah, sorry, but yeah. No, I. My real answer is, I think it’s Val. I think Val has a motive. He knows enough about what’s going on to cause some real damage, and he’s kind of chaotic, you know. So I could see it. And, like, he does have a motivation beyond Alin, I think, that was casually addressed and then never brought up again, which makes me suspicious that maybe that matters?

Aradia: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Ali: Yeah. Because I feel like it was something Melanie snuck in there as, like a reread thing, and then was like, Pay no attention to it, lalala. We might mention in passing one more time so that you remember that he has a child when the child motive is revealed.

Aradia: My much darker and less meaningful question is like, how is he going to disfigure Mai to look like Sarra, without making it really obvious that someone is trying to make this body look like Sarra when it clearly isn’t.

Ali: Bash her face in?

Bree: Probably.

Aradia: That was my thought, because it’s like, the whole without a face. Cutting her face off is really obvious. But like, blunt force trauma?

Bree: I feel like it’s probably not a face off, but like, yeah.

Aradia: Blunt force trauma would be – But also Glenin will not remember there being blunt force being applied, like she knows.

Ali: But maybe the explosion, though.

Bree: Can she tell them that she knows, can she admit that she was in the room?

Aradia: Oh.

Bree: Are they going to find her there unconscious? That’s the question.

Aradia: How much was this an extracurricular for her? Is she going to get in trouble with the first Lord?

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: Was this not how it was weaved to be?

Bree: Was this on books or off books? She failed. Like whatever happened, she just let the fucking Mage Captal go.

Ali: Yeah, yeah.

Bree: And all the Mages, except for like, one. She managed to kill the teenage boy who is, like, the least scary one.

Aradia: Right? Yeah.

Ali: Was that the teenage boy? I thought the teenage boy made it.

Bree: No, I mean, it was a young person. I think it was a teenage boy. I’m not 100% sure.

Aradia: This, dead before his time.

Ali: I thought the teenage boy made it.

Bree: Oh, a Prentice Mage, dead too young. So could have been. There’s a couple Prentices.

Ali: Yeah, because I thought after the death happened that she was like, we can’t let a 15 year old boy get roped into this. So I thought he was still kickin.

Bree: Yeah. He may be.

Aradia: There were a lot of people.

Ali: Yeah, there were a lot of people involved, so it could have been another young.-

Bree: Yeah, there’s a Prentice, but somebody. Somebody is dead, but only one, when there were like ten of them.

Ali: So I know, she had a lot of people there that she could have killed and she killed one and probably not the most important one.

Bree: No, she’s not winning any awards this time.

1:50:30 Wrap up

Aradia: Yeah. So, this puts us at – because now I’m like, well, how is it going to fall for Glenin? But the next section is called Flight, which clearly is not going to be focused on Glenin, because she’s not the one flying. I would think.

Bree: I’m going to tell you something hilarious. The next point of view is Glenin.

Aradia: Goddammit.

Bree: I’m only telling you because I know that we’re recording like, probably tomorrow. So you’re just going to go read it.

Aradia: Well, spoilers for tomorrow. So we’ve now done our first section of the book. We got through it, we got through the intro, and now we’ve gotten through section one!

Bree: Yes, actually, this is section two because remember, well, the intro was like the first part. So yeah, we are on, we got through Betrayals, we are on Flight now.

Aradia: We’ve hit our mid point.

Bree: And this is a good time to just sort of like wrap us up here and tell you guys, next week we’re going to do Flight parts 1 through 8. Woo!

Aradia: So many parts!

Ali: That’s so many parts.

Bree: And I’m just going to warn you guys, as I as I maybe should have warned you at the start, Melanie Rawn is the original George R.R. Martin. She has killed more of her babies than anyone he could ever hope to. So strap in guys.

Ali: More babies???

Bree: More, like more of our babies, like our people that we love.

Ali: Oh.

Bree: She is a character assassin. She will come out from underneath the bed, behind the closet, behind the tapestry, when you least expect it and come for your faves. So let’s go, guys. Flight.

Aradia: Okay. So no one is safe.

Ali: I’m ready to have my heart broken by Alin and Val. Something’s going to happen. Like we can.

Aradia: Oh, my God. They’re – bad things.

Ali: It’s the nineties. Then they’re queer! Yeah, like they’re dead.

Aradia: Bad things are going to happen. It’s going to be so tragic.

Bree: It’s going to be. we’ll see.

Ali: I’m not trying to joke about it, but also, like, it’s the nineties and they’re queer.

Bree: We have to make occasional jokes to laugh and not cry, because the nineties were a time that existed. Yeah. So we are all living there now.

Ali: Better than some times, but not better than every time.

Bree: So yes. Question for the group guys, like you need to tell Ali what to wear.

Ali: I do need that.

Bree: Also, please weigh in on who you think the betrayer is, who betrayed us all. And read Flight, parts 1 through 8, for next week.

Aradia: Heey!

Ali: Whoo! Thank you so much for listening. If you want to keep gabbing with us, our social media, Patreon, and contact details are in the episode description. Until next time, have a very nuanced day.