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  1. travlbug


    So Leonmarkh proves a benevolent disciplinarian by flogging the thief (as opposed to executing him). The punishment is still brutal but serves its purpose (as an object lesson), without leaving the ranks yet another man short. Did Brathay think his journal would remain private by leaving it in plain sight (in a hostile environment) and securing it with a string (instead of a lock)? Really? At least, he sees the potential for using the journal against the snoop at some later date. Belynda may have discovered an important detail regarding the moonskulls and the ability to disrupt their line of connection. Her observation that the Sturridges have homing birds may also prove useful. Otherwise, her letter is a testimony to her own shortcomings. In his bout against Ligger, Brathay reveals some mad skills with a blade and proves his bravery, yet afterwards, "in an instant, everyone appeared to forget Brathay’s presence." For better or worse, his culinary skills are what finally gain him acceptance and an audience. (Tactics, or "brains," over brawn.) Clearly, the toque blanche is mightier than the sword! πŸ˜‚
  2. travlbug


    Hmmm. Etchings in the bathing chamber show "white lines from the keep's heart [shooting] out into the night sky as though a fountain of light was bursting out from the interior." Fleming suggests that the lines symbolize fire, but I've never seen fire that looks like a beam! (Yet another mystery to add to the list!) What is the usual punishment for theft? If it is 10 lashes, then Leonmarkh is a villain for ordering 20. However, if it is usually amputation of the hand, then he is actually demonstrating mercy--and finds a way to keep his soldier intact. Everything is relative, and without more information, I don't yet know how to interpret Leonmarkh's judgement.
  3. travlbug

    Chapter 11

    One step forward, two steps back: After deciding to "try with Caleb," Hunter the waffler is back in full force. Still, Caleb has finagled a date from Hunter, with the understanding that Hunter will judge whether to proceed with their fledgling relationship. (I love that Caleb makes clear that Hunter is still in control, proving that he knows his man. [And as Anita points out, he also brings coffee! πŸ˜‚])
  4. travlbug


    That Brathay recalls Myx's name is a powerful reminder of his memorization ability (or that he finds Myx cute πŸ˜‚). Interesting that Brathay packs his recipe book for the trip to the village: Is he concerned about leaving it unguarded in his room? (Does he plan to ask for Mari's help in planning his culinary masterpiece, or is her volunteering to help a serendipitous event?) Ah, one question answered: During the trek to Black Ice Bay, the Sjin-Shatir suspect that Brathay shares their blood. No wonder they try to engage him at that time! His ability to give Dnani an erection confirms the blood tie. (Is Brathay's bloodline important in terms of his ability to unlock the Keep's secrets?) The purification at the sulfur springs is akin to a baptism--or perhaps the beginning of a new life! "Not only is there a similarity in your features, they say, but you carry the mark of Great Mudjadah, the great bear." I love that Brathay is "undressed for success": His nudity has revealed an important marker to the villagers, and I'm curious if this marker has a deeper meaning. (E.g., is the bearer felt to be a leader, a magic user, part of a prophecy?) Of course, the village's support (in backing Brathay) gives it an in, or access, to the Keep in a way it has previously lacked, and I wonder if their support is freely given or if there will be a quid pro quo. πŸ€”
  5. travlbug


    "Instinctively, something did not sit right. Having identified two unused features of the keep [Brathay] felt sure there had to be more. ...And surely previous Watchmen would have left behind instructions? Why had none been provided?" One can't leave instructions if one is deceased: If the Keep has ever been taken by force, then no one might have been available to pass on its secrets. Has the Keep ever been captured? Perhaps Khraxwall is lying about his tenure at the Keep, with the present occupiers an enemy force: Deaths in battle could account for the Keep being undermanned, and Leonmarkh's inaccessibility could be an attempt to disguise the takeover. Of course, the village would probably have known of such a battle. Still, the Watchmen's apparent failure to leave instructions is tantalizing. "Decorative moonskulls? Whoever heard of such a thing?" Again, why create an austere building and then decorate it? Further, the weather prevents the moonskulls from providing a practical benefit. No wonder that Brathays senses something odd, and the moonstones may tie in to a deeper secret. Miss "Millstone" is a hoot and does a good job of grinding apprentices as opposed to wheat. (A flower indeed!) Brathay has now been slighted by the Lord of the keep and informed that the staff is openly hostile to him. He has been warned to depart the Keep as well, and while the warning is not delivered with threats to life and limb, one wonders if a mere Chamberlain would have felt free to give it without her Lord's backing. Hmmm. A secret ally. The letter in Brathay's effects is intriguing, as the elegant script suggests a high-born individual, though such people would seem rare in the Keep. Leonmarkh purposely humiliates Brathay, who is then shut out from all dinner conversation. Why are Leonmarkh and the rest of the Keep's inhabitants so keen on getting rid of him? My best guess at this point is that they are guarding a secret from outsiders (their animosity transcends mere irritation or annoyance with a temporary guest). Whatever the secret, it is clearly important enough to risk insulting the king. Of note, Brathay has found that the Keep is not undersupplied after all. Khraxwall has to be in on the deception, but what is gained by this pretense? (Additional supplies may suggest additional men, but if so, where are they?) "...The crystal beneath the courtyard sat in a massive circular cradle of latticed metal with three empty slots, the whole contraption pivoting on a giant fulcrum. With the strength of ten soldiers, Brathay felt sure he could have the whole thing turning, though for what purpose he had no idea." Just what is the real, underlying function of the Keep??? The food tasting discussion is an interesting twist. At this point, Brathay really has nothing to lose, except that Mrs. Sturridge seems ready to rip out his liver! πŸ˜‚
  6. travlbug

    Chapter 10

    I think that Caleb knows his feelings exactly--perhaps for a long time--and I love how @Timothy M. states it: "Caleb seems to be a clever and wary hunter, who stalks his prey carefully and gently." Caleb understands that trying to force the issue--to appear controlling--in creating a relationship with Hunter would destroy any chance of their being together, and he shows himself as sweet and supportive--and persistent! He "stalks" Hunter, paradoxically, by allowing Hunter to set the agenda. As for Hunter, I love how @Philippe has characterized him as "selectively clueless": He avoids any suggestion that Caleb is gay as a means of protecting himself. I respectfully disagree: Hunter is fearful of being controlled/manipulated, so Hunter needs to be the one who starts it. That said, Caleb has laid the groundwork for a relationship by "gently" showing how much Hunter means to him. Now that Caleb has said that "[Hunter's] in charge," Hunter finally decides to follow his heart, even while second-guessing himself. (Don't worry, Hunter, you've made the right choice. πŸ₯°)
  7. travlbug

    Chapter 10

    "Suddenly Caleb was everywhere." Sure, Hunter, just a coincidence. 😏 "He made comments to me about some of my older posts online and we talked about them, and then he said he was going to make one dedicated to all the outfits I approved of on him and call it 'Hunter's Ken Doll.'" Sure, Hunter, all perfectly normal for a straight boy. (Caleb is actually putting time and effort into something you love, he is stroking your ego at the same time; and you still think he's a straight boy? ) Ok, Hunter, it's time for a chat. The real reason you're classifying "cute as fuck" Caleb as a straight boy is that you're still feeling violated by Brett and you're protecting your heart: "Falling for straight boys is always a bad thing. …[Caleb's] a unique guy and I'm catching feelings for him all the time. That's why I need to do something, and now. I can't go down that path again." So you'd prefer to avoid your feelings because you might be hurt again, and you'd rather think of Caleb as straight rather than take a chance. Are you really that "frightened of the implications" of liking Caleb if he turns out gay? (With a sugar daddy, you can set the rules [sure you can πŸ™„], and I understand that you think you have control, but I love where Nicole points out that you're trading a "transaction" for a relationship, and you finally realize that that's not what you want. ) Of course, the moment Caleb comes by with a coffee for you (another straight-boy characteristic πŸ˜‰), you start playing with his hair--and he lets you! (I think your subconscious is more aware than you are! ) Yes, Hunter, all straight boys accept ankle bracelets from their gay friends. (Go, subconscious! ) Yay! Caleb has said the magic words ("he's in charge"). For a boy with control issues, Hunter has just experienced a green light, and his conscious brain has finally caught up with what his subconscious has always known: Caleb is his perfect boyfriend material. He finally says, "I was going to try with Caleb," and his subconscious and I can finally say, "it's about time!"
  8. travlbug

    Chapter 9

    Caleb, with Hunter oblivious to your flirting, I suggest that you do something he can't possibly misinterpret, like taking off your underwear right in front of him in a changing booth. You did? And what did he do? (Yes, he's hopeless. πŸ˜‚) But if at first you don't succeed, then try, try again: While sorting through your home wardrobe, Hunter notes, "He just...stripped! He kept his underwear on, but it was still quite the show as he tried various things on at my direction." Caleb, your strategy is working! You now have top billing in Hunter's thoughts and palms! πŸ˜πŸ€£πŸ˜‰ And the next step is to steal his heart. πŸ₯°
  9. travlbug


    Hmmm. The intensely private Sjin-Shatir try to engage Brathay in conversation. What is it about him that draws their attention? Why would Brokerman ask Brathay to meet the Duchess? Perhaps so that she could say she has met him, or vice versa, or perhaps to allow him to see if Leonmarkh bears her likeness (what if Leonmarkh were willing to accept the posting because he sent a ringer instead? Not that I really believe this theory, but Brian is tricky). "Black Ice Bay looked like a reptile." Talk about first impressions! "Had Brathay been slighted?" Uh, yeah. Not an auspicious beginning. Far from harboring a hoard of mercenaries, the keep is undermanned and possibly undersupplied. What has Leonmarkh to gain by disadvantaging the Keep in such a manner? Moonskulls, crystals, thaumaturgy--is Brian planting red herrings/creating mood, or is magic, or the intent to practice it, germane to the story? At least, when it comes to faucets, it's nice to know that the Keep has a few interior- decorator touches. πŸ˜‰ (All facetiousness aside, it makes little sense that the architects would design a plain/stark, functional building and then hide the faucets out of a sense of aesthetics. Perhaps doing so was ingrained to the point that they hid the faucets as a matter of course. πŸ€”)
  10. travlbug


    It's almost as if GW wants to get the boys' attention with the first story and is giving them suggestions with the second. For the characters in GW's story actually to be named Ben and Jake, and for the first story to follow their antics so closely, one might suspect Ben or Jake as being the author. And of course, Ben (the originator of the word boneometer) just happens to have the oil handy which allows them to try the actions mentioned in the second story. (We already know that Ben's a little schemer in seeing how he finagles a new bed, new underwear, and permission from his Dad for a new overnight date; so again, it's no stretch to think that he's putting ideas into Jake's head through the GW story. [Well, Ben, are you GW? Remember, you cannot tell a lie! ]) As an aside, I love the accepting (and enabling) father who has his own remembrances from being a boy. Would that we all have at least one parent like him (though, admittedly, two would be better).
  11. travlbug

    Chapter 8

    Despite his ataraxia, Caleb is brilliant: By asking Hunter for help with his clothes and hair, he turns himself into Hunter's pet project, focusing on just those things that Hunter loves best. Yes, Hunter, Andy must be punished for eating a mayo sandwich. (Ew! 😱) Yes, Caleb, Hunter must be punished for being so clueless. (Kissing him senseless would be a good start. )
  12. travlbug


    An informative chapter! Charteris has essentially exiled Leonmarkh to Black Ice Keep, a post the youngest brother would not ordinarily have accepted willingly; and on that basis Leonmarkh's easy acquiescence has Brokerman concerned. Is Leonmarkh plotting against his brother from a place where he is locked in by weather for six to seven months of the year (no mean feat), or does Leonmarkh have a hidden agenda? (He may even be working for his brother to perform a specific task, or he may simply be loyal, so that his willingness to accept the Watchman position may actually indicate fraternal devotion.) Also, how much of Belynda's criticism of Leonmarkh is fueled by reality, and how much is driven by her failure? (Is it a mistake for Brathay to disregard the testimony of the only witness as to the goings-on within the Keep?) Too many questions, and too little information--at least as yet. I love the spice chest (I want one!) Good food can predispose to camaraderie (and information); and while "magic" with food is not an indispensable trait, it may provide the "in" which Belynda failed to discover.
  13. travlbug


    Aulderly sounds a bit more interesting than my alma mater, but my fraternity house did make up for some of the difference. πŸ˜‚ Brathay, you may want to be an architect/ builder, but your Dr. Ruth impression isn't bad either. πŸ˜‰ So, why does Counsellor Brokerman (love the name!) want to see Brathay? After all, he was present when the Dean told Brathay of his new appointment. Perhaps he wants to discuss something out of the Dean's hearing.... πŸ€”
  14. travlbug

    Chapter 7

    Guess who's coming to dinner? (Talk about a birthday present that delivers itself!) "He chewed his lower lip in thought, and it was fucking adorable. I mean it would have been if not for the tangle of hair on his head and his baggy clothes." You just know that there's a makeover coming! (I love Hunter's prior description of Caleb's coiffure as a "rats' nest!" ) Ataraxia: How disturbing--not! I love the paint fight and its aftermath. Caleb is clearly having fun washing Hunter's hair, and Hunter is aware: "More combing, less stroking my hair." But Hunter, this is how primates bond! (If he were a lemur, Caleb might be licking you as well! ) "What are you doing?" "Rubbing your back?" Caleb's got it bad…. During his shower, Hunter thinks, "...What sort of weirdness goes through [Caleb's] head? I paused and wondered on that. Weirdness can be fun." Hunter is slowly being corrupted to the "Caleb side." "I walked to my dresser and pulled out a pair of underwear, then slipped them on under my towel." Killjoy. So sad that Caleb thinks that Hunter doesn't like him, and I'm glad they have a chance to clear the air. (Hunter, do you really still think that Caleb's a straight boy? ) Just how much paint did you inhale? Hunter, your lungs are now pure white! As for your mind....
  15. travlbug

    Chapter 6

    For his next project, Hunter thinks of getting clocked. (Kapow! I had to say it! ) Madison isn't just sent home: She's exorcised! Yes, Caleb, you're still "figuring it out," but at least you're trying. "My barista had managed to get the outside of my coffee cup sticky." First world problem. Happy birthday to the Stadtlander siblings! Hunter, your coworkers (even Anita) have gifted you, not simply with clothes, but with a concrete manifestation of their high regard. Kudos! In my opinion, this chapter is key for its allusions to Brett, boyfriends, and sugar daddies--nothing new per se, but all this discussion is making Hunter think: Brett hurts Hunter, and Hunter subsequently shies away from boyfriends--emotional attachment--and sublimates his wish for love and adulation into his fashion postings, but the adulation suddenly feels "fake." Further, in Bruce and Andy, not to mention his own parents (with their "goofy" romance), he sees real relationships, and I think he's finally ready for a real relationship of his own. (Oh, CΜΆaΜΆlΜΆeΜΆbΜΆ Cupid.... )
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