Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Page 985

Marcos looked over the assortment of junk food another time. He was starving, but somehow, he still didn’t have much of an appetite. He supposed it didn’t really matter. He grabbed something without even looking at what it was and then went to stand blankly behind Emiliana. It would be easiest to put his brain in autopilot and follow her around. She stuck out like a sore thumb with that black mask of hers.

His eyes glazed over as he let his mind wander. A question occurred to him. ‘When will my ability manifest?’ he asked.

It varies from person to person,’ said Shenado privately. ‘Give it time.

It’s been a month. And Emi’s manifested after only a few days...

Hers was stress-induced.’

So I should be more stressed?

That is not what I am saying.’

Then what are you saying?

I am saying be patient. We’ll worry about it after we reach Moaban.

He took a long breath. Really, he was just trying to keep his mind busy. ‘What do you think my ability will be?

It could be anything.

...Could I get the same ability as Pa?

It’s not very likely, but it is certainly possible. Servant abilities are determined by genetics.

They are? I thought it had to do with personality. Or just... brain... stuff.

Well, there’s some debate about that, I suppose,’ said Shenado. ‘But “brain stuff” is genetic, too, you know. As are personalities, to an extent. So there might well be a link there, but it is probably a case of correlation rather than causation.

I’m not sure what that means...

It means that genetics might make it LOOK like servant abilities are determined by personality, even though they aren’t necessarily.

That’s confusing...

Most things are. As much as we might like the world to be simpler and easier to understand, it usually isn’t. And that can be good. Sometimes, complexity is wonderful. Usually, though, it sucks big time.

He spared her a cock-eyed glance. ‘What do you mean?

Have you ever heard the old saying that the more complicated your plan is, the more opportunities it’ll have to go wrong?

Uh, sure.

Well, it’s the same for everything else in life. For example, the thing we were just talking about. Genetics. DNA is extremely complex. And rather predictably, all sorts of things can go wrong with it. People can be born with so many different kinds of genetic deformities or diseases. And they all suck. Apart from the very occasional one that is actually helpful, maybe offering the person an immunity to something terrible.


  1. Of course, correlation vs. causation cuts the other way too. Servant abilities might look like they're genetic when the cause is personality.

  2. I like Marcos now more for some reason... Is that wrong?
    I mean... His mother just died. I just guess that in TZK
    Traumatic expiriences = Funny personalities.
    Take Hector for example: His mother hate him, his father died and his father kinda hated him too.

    Keep up the awesome work and stay Frosty... No pun inte-... No point in lying i guess :/

  3. Typo:
    "People can [be] born with so many different kinds of genetic deformities"

  4. Hector's parents didn't hate him. They didn't love him. There's a difference

  5. It's been a month since this whole shit went down?! I thought it was more like half that!

  6. True.

    But, i just want to point out that Hector’s mother isn't very fond of him as of now.
    The way she speaks to him also implies that she hates him or at least blame him of all harm that has befallen herself aswell as her husband.


    You're right, they just didn't love him, though I'm pretty sure his mother hates him as of now.

  7. I think its based on personality and what the person would associate with that personality. I think the reason why the lords get special powers sometimes is because they have a strong association of water and sand with honor and glory. If a servant's personality fits their ideal of honor well enough, they can get that power. Also, for every single character who has enough characterization to tell, their power has at least one bit of symbolism relating to its nature and one to how they use it. For example, Helen is a ruler who tries to do the best she can by her people, and who has to deal with a lot. She has a power which is obliquely associated with nurturing, and that she can use to armor herself.

  8. I hadn't realized that there had been a time skip at all until it mentioned the one month. Maybe a few days, tops. I'm surprised that Marcos hasn't talked to Hector enough to get his official false age in that much time.

  9. Hmm, his mother doesn't hate Hector. She might have immediately after Hector's father died, but even she isn't sure what she feels towards him now

  10. Went back and re-read only to find out that i missed the whole mother and son drama back at Warrenhold. I see what you mean now :)

  11. I heard british passed a new law recently in order to combat genetic crap. Supposedly add new genes to fix old during pregnancy. Sounds easy yet complicated.

  12. Either way, kid had better remember he's related to his sister, so... be careful what you wish for, Marcos. You might get icicles of doom. Or horns. :P

  13. Wonder what Ramira will get. Probably mutation, and she'll enjoy it. That or transfiguration, that seems to be common.

  14. I'm actually a lot more interested in what Gema has. As the oldest child, she's basically heir to the Elroy name. Wouldn't be surprised if she got the water materialization, but I guess it would have come up in this conversation.

  15. Just thought of something. They could do the kind of experiment they always do when looking at possible genetic causes -- just use twins. Even the identical ones aren't completely identical on a genetic level, but it should be close enough to see a trend. If twins end up with the same ability more often than unrelated people, that'd be a pretty good clue.

  16. Had a case of [citation needed] on this one and did a little googling:

    TL;DR is this: Cells have mitochondria in them, and if the mitochondrial DNA is damaged, the children might not be able to survive. Mitochondria have their own DNA, and only the mitochondria of the egg is replaced with that of another, healthy woman. There is no actual DNA splicing going on.

    The bad thing is that I found a lot of very scary sounding articles about this, and comparatively little reliable information. Many religous protesters though.

  17. There are just some ethical issues with this -- "Hey, let's kill a bunch of twins and make them into servants just to see what happens" -- but I guess Rainlord and Sandlord tradition of killing 14-year-olds have been around long enough that there are bound to be some twins among them. Not to mention that no one seems overly burdened by ethics, anyway.

  18. Hey, you were the one who brought up twin experiments.

  19. Well, yeah... I guess I didn't really think this through. Or maybe I'm just the mad scientist kind, who knows?

    It probably turns out that the reaper's personality has some kind of influence as well.

  20. Ah, right, now that you mention it... character page says that they both had water materialization.

    I have to say, I'd be somewhat disappointed if it turned out that servant ability is really based on genetics alone. Personally, in this nature vs. nurture debate, I'm very much in favor of nurture. Having everything depend on nature alone is just way too fatalistic.

    Even in the context of the story, basing ability on genetics alone would be a very bad thing. People could be genetically screened and specifially killed if it turns out that they're going to manifest a desired ability. On the other hand, people who will manifest an ability that is considered useless would never be taken on as servants. Sure, there will always be reapers who don't care and are willing to take on any servant regardless of eventual ability, but they might be at a disadvantage because of it...

    ... yeah, never mind me, I just realized that I just re-narrated about any story where genetic screening has become normal. Or maybe reality, a few years or decades from now.

  21. The hell? I deleted this post when I realized what you meant, but instead it just made it anonymous?


  23. Marcus:
    5% mutation
    15% destruction
    15% materialization
    15% alteration
    25% transfiguration
    25% integration

  24. He bought Bugles. And immediately put them on his fingertips and pretended he was a witch.

  25. well, she was. Given that she betrayed both the Vanguard and the Rainlords, that seems a bit less likely now.

  26. Don't worry. The two special abilities are tied to groups that were related to the materials before they become servant dynasties, and have only been shown to manifest in paragons of the virtues their factions honor. I think that sounds like more of a personality thing to me. Also, as I've said in many other places, there's tons of symbolism for each character's power if there's enough characterization to tell. I think that all points towards genetics being secondary at best.

  27. It gets a bit less shady when you consider that nobody is really dying. Of course, this should still only be considered if both twins give informed consent. I mean, as long as they did give consent and had everything explained to them before hand (and they were old enough to give legal consent for something like this), there are no more ethical issues than there would be for any other two reapers taking on servants, certainly not any more than the Rainlords killing their children to make them servants.

  28. Talk...to Hector? You're kidding, right? :P

  29. This is the internet, where nothing ever truly vanishes.

    Or, a little less sinister, maybe disqus doesn't delete comments if they're parent to other comments. I had already replied to that comment when you tried to delete it, if I'm not mistaken.

  30. Nope, I've deleted a comment that was parent to another comment before (Frost telling me that the original comment was spoilery). It leaves the child comment intact but replaces the parent entirely with "deleted by user". Besides, I deleted this one about 30 seconds after posting it.

  31. Can you truly give informed consent on such a life-changing issue? I guess Hector didn't know what he'd get into when he agreed to servitude. Of course, you could try to live a normal life, up until the point where it turns out your ability is mutation.

    It would also attract the wrong kind of test subjects. "Looking for twins who are okay with getting killed in exchange for superpowers" sounds like the kind of thing aspiring supervillains might be looking for.

    Anyway, I love the closing thought of your comment. "No more ethical issues than the Rainlords killing their children", indeed. I had to laugh when I realized that you where talking about "paragons of virtue" in the other comment. Family and honour and kinship and all this crap are definitely virtues of the Rainlords, except that I'll never respect someone who forcibly kills their own child just because tradition demands it. I'm not arguing your point, just the... virtuousness of Rainlord virtues.

  32. Well, for certain values of "kill"...