“Lemma the Librarian – The Witch and the Warlock”


Published: November 18, 2017


Another skipped paywall story here*: Lemma and Iason’s adventures in Yri, and by Yri I of course mean Faerie, because why would you go to fantasy Ireland and visit muddy human villages when you could spend a year and a day partying under a hill? Like the Kymri one, it’s not terribly tied into the main plot, but @midorikonton does (pretty organically) cover the two main things you need to know going forward: Lemma pissed off a vicious little murdergoblin she calls “Red”**, and Lemma now has red hair. I swear to God that becomes plot-relevant later.

Lemma and Iason meet Rhoda the Mighty, warlock (demon-summoner) extrodinaire! Also about as uncomplicatedly heroic as Iason, which given Lemmaverse demons is quite a feat. But it definitely makes her an interesting character – I think I first heard this about the X-Men’s Rogue, but it works in general: a good way to make an interesting hero is to take someone heroic and give them bad-guy superpowers. She’s wandering around, saving the day with her coterie of soul-devouring monsters, and this is hilarious and has also brought her into conflict with the con artist witch Brochen***. Lemma and Iason do the usual fight fight team-up business with Rhoda – damn, she really is a superhero – and Lemma goes off to fight Brochen, and lose, obviously. (Although it seems to me that if she hadn’t had all the Hragulf business tying her down, she probably would have won: she’s not as weak in a straight-up spellsling as her 0-for-11-and-counting record against mind control would seem to indicate.)

Rhoda’s backup plan is a succubus. Foocubi show up a lot in mind control erotica for reasons I’m assuming you can figure out for yourselves, but have a tendency as a result to get kinda sanded down, like vampires – which is fine! Erotica is selling a fantasy, and if you’re subby and like the idea of being controlled by an overpoweringly sexy being, you probably don’t want to staple “and then your soul is ripped out and eaten” to the end****. Jenny, apparently, has no truck with that; Ardatlili is really frickin’ scary, frankly to the point that it kinda damages the sexiness (hard to really get a slow burn going when you can only have sex with her once).

Well, OK, this is the longest story in the series (so far published, at least) and that does give some space for Brochen to crumble a bit at a time. Lemma’s mc’d desire to help or at least warn him as he makes increasingly poor choices, constantly blocked by some badly-phrased orders, adds a little bit of humour to the story. And Lemma finally gets her own win at the end, no help from anyone, when she blows up Ardatlili. A pretty good story overall, darker-than-probably-merited fate for Brochen or not.

And, of course, Rhoda’s awesome. As the author’s note suggests, we’ll be seeing more of her.

*Two closely linked stories, actually: “A Fairy Bad Deal” and “Riddled With Errors”. Available as usual on smashwords and patreon.

**Despite Iason’s joshing, Lemma doesn’t even come close to pissing off everyone she meets. Frankly, she probably has a lot of grateful admirers scattered behind her across the Tin Islands. Rather, she only pisses off the entities she meets who are spectacularly more powerful than her. 😉

***The degree to which the terms are gendered varies wildly from setting to setting, but I did think it’s cute that the warlock in this story is female and the witch, male.

****A rule, which, obviously, has many exceptions. This, incidentally, is probably why I’m not ever going to review Tabico’s stuff: I respect the hell out of her as a writer and her stories are often extremely hot, but for most of them, for me, engaging them in any kind of detail turns pretty quickly into “this is morally disturbing in a way I’m not comfortable ignoring” and I imagine as a review series that’d get old pretty fast.

When The Fuck Are We? 🤷

It’s hard to say where we are now, actually; could be Ireland, could be Great Britain. There’s no no real landmarks to go by, other than “north of Breizh/Kyrno, south of Alba”. Rhoda’s definitely from Scotland, though, so let’s go with that.

“Alba” is the Gaelic name for Scotland, so like Kyrno and Yri it’s fairly clearly That Place, Still Run By Celts. (It’s also a modern historiographical term for the nucleus of the Kingdom of Scotland specifically, though from about the 9th C CE onwards, which makes it a little late for our purposes.) Bronze Age Scotland was like Bronze Age England, only colder and sparser-populated: tribal and without too much in the way of large-scale political or economic structure. Early Dark Ages Scotland was again like contemporary England: divided amongst a number of petty, squabbling statelets. 

The main ones at our hypothetical 650 CE date for Lemma would probably be Strathclyde, a Briton polity in the lowlands; Dál Riata, an area along the western islands and the west highlands conquered by Gaelic Irish from Ulster; in the eastern and northern highlands, the “Kingdom” of the Picts, almost certainly a whole bunch of unrelated tribes dignified with a king by later chroniclers*; and possibly Gododdin, another Briton kingdom stretching across the lowlands and northern England, which at this date either is about to be or just recently was devoured by the Angle kingdom of Northumbria**. The “Alba” I mentioned up top emerged from Dál Riata about the time Dál Riata proper was getting conquered by the Vikings; it in turn conquered the Picts and Strathclyde in the 10th C, and eventually (as mentioned earlier) took the Isles back from the Norse. We have no idea where Rhoda is from, but I like to think Gododdin, just from sympathy for the underdog.

(Also, I think that Brochen is named after the similarly-pronounced Brocken Mountain, the most famous Walpurgisnacht site in Germany. That’s right, @midorikonton! I see right through you! ;P )

*The problems with this period in British history are not a lack of written sources. We have several! And they go into detail about the kings and politics of the kingdoms of this time. The issue is that they’re mostly from several centuries after the fact, so schematically simplified (as with the Heptarchy business mentioned before), and also – how to put this diplomatically – are full of lies fabrications. I’ll get into that more next time. 

**There’s an important Welsh bardic poem about that; the antagonist of “Harping on About It”, in the real world, likewise wrote a poem about Strathclyde kicking the shit out of a minor princedom in Cumbria a couple of generations earlier.


Next time: things fall apart. I stop connecting things to the story at all and talk about Ancient Soviet Egypt.

Also, I think that Brochen is named after the similarly-pronounced Brocken Mountain, the most famous Walpurgisnacht site in Germany.<br><br>
What’s that? You think I named a witch after the place notorious for an annual gathering of witches? That in the first story where demons show up I would include a reference to my first encounter with the imagery of the demonic, Disney’s interpretation of Night on Bald Mountain?<br><br>
Would I do something like that? 🙂