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  1. travlbug

    Chapter 18

    A mine usually has only one way in and one way out; and I expect it to be well guarded. From a tactical point of view, it would be difficult to liberate any prisoners unless our heroes neutralize all guards present...or trick them! (Since @kbois isn't talking, I'm consulting Carnac the Magnificent.... )
  2. travlbug


    Wow, what a mess! At least, Brathay is still a free agent, blessed with the genetic gifts, and backing, of the Sjin-Shatir. His special knowledge: He has the training of an Aulderly agent; he can communicate with Leon through sign language; he is aware of the hidden passage in Leon's quarters; and he knows that Brennik is the evil uncle, presumably following his own agenda. If he recalls the message birds being kept by the Sturridges, he may even have a way to reach the King--at least until Khallis learns about them and has them destroyed. The question: Can Brathay parlay these few advantages into a strategy that can save Leon, save the Keep, save the Villagers, save Braggadach, and unmask Brennik for the villain he is? Talk about a tall order! I can't wait to see how Brathay--and Brian--intend to manage this Herculean task.
  3. travlbug

    Chapter 17

    Elijah is young enough to be called a lad but old enough to travel on his own and take adult risks. His age may have been discussed in a prior chapter (I don't recall), but his description suggests a late teen. (At five foot eight, has he even finished growing?) If Elijah can turn into cartoon characters--things that don't exist--he has the potential to turn into anything, animals included (we already know that he can turn into a cat and dog). That said, he mentions that "it took a while to learn the extent of what I could and couldn’t shift into." Thus, he confirms having some limitations, though @kbois is keeping us in the dark about them (at least for the present). Also, while he can assume the outward guise of a creature, he clearly doesn't assume its characteristics; otherwise, he could just "become" one of the newly shifting pups and wouldn't need a "butt stink" pill. Regardless, Elijah is a courageous youth and a perfect spy in the making. He'd make an interesting protagonist if there's ever a sequel. (Hint, hint....)
  4. travlbug


    Who is Lord Brennik? What does he have to do with the present situation? Why is he so interested in the Keep's crystals? Admiral Khallis hails from Lokhradich and is a staunch ally of Khloradich. Yet, he arrives with soldiers from Morkhlach. All these areas reside in Braggadach, so have they joined forces to take over the rest of Braggadach? Is the King aware? Has Zhorman truly betrayed Leonmarkh? Could he be a "double agent" with his allegiance still with Leonmark? Is Leonmarkh panicked by Brathay because he fears for his safety or because he fears that he may disrupt a plan already in motion?
  5. travlbug

    Chapter 16

    Tiny quibble: For a castle to have vents, they would have had to be added as a later addition; and I haven't a clue as to how you'd retro-fit stone with vents. However, since everything @kbois tells us is true, I accept the vents completely for the purposes of the story. Thank goodness for old vents: If only more villains would confess in front of a grate! That said, the confirmation of Alberts and Belland's involvement is monumental; but somehow, I feel it came too easy. Rather, I think we have seen only the tip of the iceberg. Despite the confession, the paperwork and electron trail still need to be sifted: Who knows what other secrets are buried in all that information? (We can't expect the villains to tell us everything! 😂🤣😂) The other confession is not as important, but it had to be said. He finally admits it: Roberto is floofy!
  6. travlbug

    Chapter 15

    The power of knowledge is tantamount in this chapter: If Sebastian had not been prepared (thanks to Rosalie and Silas), Belland would have had the upper hand in their exchange. Apparently, Belland expects Sebastian to be ignorant of the "Ordines Antiquorum," but the Council does defer to Sebastian when, by their own rules, he stakes his claim as senior alpha. Why would Chusi bring up missing pups in a Council meeting if she were guilty of their disappearance? She may have her own agenda, but she does not appear a party to this particular crime. Since werewolves can smell certain emotional responses, Robert has been exonerated by the "Sniff Test." His emotion on hearing about the missing pups is genuine. Now, how best to use Robert to root out the bad actors? While the information Sebastian has requested may be untrustworthy (the culprits will certainly try to cover their tracks), it may prove impossible for the perps to redact everything incriminating, especially with so much information coming from multiple sources. Discrepancies in the records may be key. Hmmm. Alberts and Belland are fairly noisy in their hostility/belligerence. Perhaps the quiet members of the Council should bear a higher level of scrutiny. At the moment, I am highly suspicious of Faulkner: Ben says that he is "hard to read" and reminds us that he's a "bird of prey," with no natural sympathy for wolf pups. Further, he is the only Council member to make himself look sympathetic (misdirection?) regarding his difficulty with finding a mate--a move well calculated to avert suspicion. At this point, the falcon bears watching with an eagle eye!
  7. travlbug

    Chapter 14

    The idea of the "wife" joining into a specific family (or the husband, in a few matriarchies) and assuming the family name--to show the new allegiance--is highly traditional historically, and werewolves live in a highly traditional patriarchy: I would expect nothing less from a good shifter tale. That said, the modern world is a different story, and my legally wedded husband and I decided to keep our own names as well. (Neither clan wants to go to war over it, and tribal dominance now comes into play only for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners! )
  8. travlbug

    Chapter 14

    Robert has to know that Sebastian is an alpha, so his slight must be purposeful--clearly at the behest of the Council. The "inferior" seating arrangement at table and, similarly, the unacceptable sleeping arrangements are further indications that this Council is hostile--does not accept the preeminence/dominance of the alpha-kappa pair (even before realizing that the group is the reconstituted Sentinels). Despite history and, possibly, shifter law, it will not cede its authority without a struggle, though whether acting from self-importance or evil influence (probably both) is presently unclear. One thing's for sure: The fireworks are about to begin!
  9. travlbug


    "Haycock was not lying. He was simply repeating what he had been told [about Mollik's testimony]...." Marietta makes clear her view of Haycock as an underling, parroting what the mastermind has told him to say. However, could Haycock actually be a good guy? He says, "A few days ago I arranged with Myxel for him to stand up and tell his story," so he intended to help exonerate Brathay all along. So, if Haycock isn't a traitor... Marietta's bombshell that Mollik is "secure" in her home indicates that she has taken preemptive steps to prevent Mollik's assassination (she expected it), as he refuses to lie in court. Mollik, your decision to withhold the name of the person who threatened you will cost lives, while you remain safe in Marietta's home. You should have gone to Leonmarkh, not Marietta, though at least you told someone. (A coward would simply have lied in court, but you could have done better.) "If the ships came from Braggadach, this attack must be directed at [Leonmarkh]. And if so, was his uncle involved?" Brian, you wouldn't be serving us any red herrings, by chance? Even Brathay notes that Braggadach cannons are "useless" against elevated positions, though (to play devil's advocate) there's nothing to prevent the uncle from procuring a Broxian Dragon for the attack. In fact, the Keep is breached by soldiers from Morkhlach (Braggadach), or those in similar livery (I trust nothing! ), but we still don't know who's truly to blame for the assault. That said, the instigator has committed high treason, so he must consider that the prize outweighs the potential punishment. Well, Leonmarkh, how is your decision to staff the Keep with only 50 men working out for you? In hindsight, it appears such a blunder that I have to wonder if Leon has created a trap--draw out the enemy, trick it into attacking an under-defended fort--while the cavalry lays outside the walls to regain the Keep. Brian, I commend you for your literary slight of hand (I am reminded of Agatha Christie) in seeming to clear Hulm Khraxwall before the big reveal. I'm sure that you, and Brathay, have a few more tricks to show us before we're done!
  10. travlbug

    Bro Epilogue

    The painting shows the brothers together: Their family is now complete. My thanks to @quokka for showing that high-functioning autism is not a bar to a happy, healthy life--at least as long as there are people who care.
  11. travlbug

    Chapter 13

    Since Nichols is in the pay of the Council, he is a pawn--not the mastermind--of this "pups for cash" enterprise. (At some point, he must have approached someone on the Council with his ideas, which were then implemented with frightening efficiency.) Further, if Nichols is being paid at least $50,000 monthly for his services, I can't imagine what the involved Council members must be making--or what they plan to do with the fantastic sums. (It's almost as if they're raising money to execute a particular plan. [Having money in the amounts we're discussing is no fun if you have to disguise having it, so I doubt simple greed as being the motivator.]) If Ben can think of using a shapeshifter to infiltrate the Nichols pack, I wonder if shapeshifters (one or many) have infiltrated the Council to hijack it for their own agenda--or is that a different story?
  12. travlbug

    Chapter 4

    Dante is suddenly experiencing past-life memories as dreams: I wonder if his own magic is the trigger or if his dreams/memories are being manipulated by the same "immortal clan" member who made him a warlock. Either way, it seems as if he's being prepared to view Tani sympathetically when they finally meet. That said, why does Dante lash out with destructive force--"a thick column of heat"-- before he even sees who his "powerful" visitor turns out to be? (I can't see what he expects to gain by taking a hostile, overly aggressive stance.)
  13. travlbug

    Bro Ch 6

    Having lost their parents and then their gran, Oscar and Austin are clearly excited to have gained a new brother. He even looks like a younger Austin! (No one in my extended family looks like anyone else, but I can imagine how seeing yourself, or your mannerisms, in another person would reinforce a connection.) Their family, and their hearts, have grown a bit larger; and I can now predict the subject matter for Edgar's next painting!
  14. travlbug

    Chapter 12

    Since the Nichols have been living the good life for several years, I presume that some of the kidnapped pups have been tortured for that same period of time. (And what do pedophile sadists/rapists intend to do with their victims after they're "too old" for them? The clock may already be ticking for the not-so-youngsters.) Other than a few families, the entire Nichols pack appears culpable. I'm sure that the pack will be disbanded, but it may take a war after all, with the pack's members having been replaced by evil minions (and not the cute, yellow kind). Even if all the pack's wealth (or Nichols' wealth) were to be redistributed to the abused pups, it won't be enough. How much of their physical "treatment" will be reversible, and how do you heal a tortured mind? Hmmm. Instead of doing reconnaissance at the Nichols' pack house, Sebastian (at Jack's suggestion) recommends electronic surveillance--i.e., hacking. Will modern wonders never cease!
  15. travlbug

    Chapter 11

    "I also ran into a normal guy who I’m pretty sure could see people’s auras and figure out what they meant." Nah, that could never happen. (Hahahaha! ) Ben, blond wolves have more fun! (I'm sure I read that somewhere. ) Yes, the New Sentinels (great name for a comic!) are assembled and ready to go. The most reasonable place to start would be with a thorough search of Peter Nichols' residence/pack house, but that would mean invading another pack's territory and risking war. Since the Council may be compromised, it would be counterproductive to ask it for assistance. I'm fearful that Reilly, who knows the layout of his father's home, will be asked to break in to perform reconnaissance. If so, he better have backup....
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