Sketch - I mean, full sketch, like with roughs and rendered inks and stuff, not a 15-minute Sharpie exercise - of Cinnamon Frost. Other than forgetting her whiskers, I think this came out well. While I did use a reference image, it's not precisely the same character (Cinnamon has way more voluminous hair, almost but not quite an afro), so it's hard to judge how well it came out with regards to proportions et al: Mirror reflecting it, it doesn't look too bad. Looking over it, there's a little weirdness with the exposed shoulder being too far out compared to the size of the head and the shape of the chin, but in my defense, I was focusing primarily on the hair and headscarf, and the shoulders were an afterthought in the render. Drawing every day. -the Centaur
Posts tagged as “Fearful Symmetry”
Christianity is a tall ask for many skeptically-minded people, especially if you come from the South, where a lot of folks express Christianity in terms of having a close personal relationship with a person claimed to be invisible, intangible and yet omnipresent, despite having been dead for 2000 years. On the other hand, I grew up with a fair number of Christians who seem to have no skeptical bones at all, even at the slightest and most explainable of miracles, like my relative who went on a pilgrimage to the Virgin Mary apparitions at Conyers and came back "with their silver rosary having turned to gold." Or, perhaps - not to be a Doubting Thomas - it was always of a yellowish hue. Being a Christian isn't just a belief, it's a commitment. Being a Christian is hard, and we're not supposed to throw up stumbling blocks for other believers. So, when I encounter stories like these, which don't sound credible to me and which I don't need to support my faith, I often find myself biting my tongue. But despite these stories not sounding credible, I do nevertheless admit that they're technically possible. In the words of one comedian, "The Virgin Mary has got the budget for it," and in a world where every observed particle event contains irreducible randomness, God has left Himself the room He needs. But there's a long tradition in skeptical thought to discount rare events like alleged miracles, rooted in Enlightenment philosopher David Hume's essay "Of Miracles". I almost wrote "scientific thought", but this idea is not at all scientific - it's actually an injection of one of philosophy's worst sins into science. Philosophy! Who needs it? Well, as Ayn Rand once said: everyone. Philosophy asks the basic questions What is there? (ontology), How do we know it? (epistemology), and What should we do? (ethics). The best philosophy illuminates possibilities for thought and persuasively argues for action. But philosophy, carving its way through the space of possible ideas, must necessarily operate through arguments, principally verbal arguments which can never conclusively convince. To get traction, we must move beyond argument to repeatable reasoning - mathematics - backed up by real-world evidence. And that's precisely what was happening right as Hume was working on his essay "Of Miracles" in the 1740's: the laws of probability and chance were being worked out by Hume's contemporaries, some of whom he corresponded with, but he couldn't wait - or couldn't be bothered to learn - their real findings. I'm not trying to be rude to Hume here, but making a specific point: Hume wrote about evidence, and people claim his arguments are based in rationality - but Hume's arguments are only qualitative, and the quantitative mathematics of probability being developed don't support his idea. But they can reproduce his idea, and the ideas of the credible believer, in a much sounder framework. In all fairness, it's best not to be too harsh with Hume, who wrote "Of Miracles" almost twenty years before Reverend Thomas Bayes' "An Essay toward solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances," the work which gave us Bayes' Theorem, which became the foundation of modern probability theory. If the ground is wet, how likely is it that it rained? Intuitively, this depends on how likely it is that the rain would wet the ground, and how likely it is to rain in the first place, discounted by the chance the ground would be wet on its own, say from a sprinkler system. In Greenville, South Carolina, it rains a lot, wetting the ground, which stays wet because it's humid, and sprinklers don't run all the time, so a wet lawn is a good sign of rain. Ask that question in Death Valley, with rare rain, dry air - and you're watering a lawn? Seriously? - and that calculus changes considerably. Bayes' Theorem formalizes this intuition. It tells us the probability of an event given the evidence is determined by the likelihood of the evidence given the event, times the probability of the event, divided by the probability of the evidence happening all by its lonesome. Since Bayes's time, probabilistic reasoning has been considerably refined. In the book Probability Theory: The Logic of Science, E. T. Jaynes, a twentieth-century physicist, shows probabilistic reasoning can explain cognitive "errors," political controversies, skeptical disbelief and credulous believers. Jaynes's key idea is that for things like commonsense reasoning, political beliefs, and even interpreting miracles, we aren't combining evidence we've collected ourselves in a neat Bayesian framework: we're combining claims provided to us by others - and must now rate the trustworthiness of the claimer. In our rosary case, the claimer drove down to Georgia to hear a woman speak at a farmhouse. I don't mean to throw up a stumbling block to something that's building up someone else's faith, but when the Bible speaks of a sign not being given to this generation, I feel like its speaking to us today. But, whether you see the witness as credible or not, Jaynes points out we also weigh alternative explanations. This doesn't affect judging whether a wet lawn means we should bring an umbrella, but when judging a silver rosary turning to gold, there are so many alternatives: lies, delusions, mistakes. Jaynes shows, with simple math, that when we're judging a claim of a rare event with many alternative explanations, our trust in the claimer that dominates the change in our probabilistic beliefs. If we trust the claimer, we're likely to believe the claim; if we distrust the claimer, we're likely to mistrust the claim. What's worse, there's a feedback loop between the trust and belief: if we trust someone, and they claim something we come to believe is likely, our trust in them is reinforced; if we distrust someone, and they claim something we come to believe is not likely, our distrust of them is reinforced too. It shouldn't take a scientist or a mathematician to realize that this pattern is a pathology. Regardless of what we choose to believe, the actual true state of the world is a matter of natural fact. It did or did not rain, regardless of whether the ground is wet; the rosary did or did not change, whether it looks gold. Ideally, whether you believe in the claimer - your opinions about people - shouldn't affect what you believe about reality - the facts about the world. But of course, it does. This is the real problem with rare events, much less miracles: they're resistant to experiment, which is our normal way out of this dilemma. Many skeptics argue we should completely exclude the possibility of the supernatural. That's not science, it's just atheism in a trench coat trying to sell you a bad idea. What is scientific, in the words of Newton, is excluding from our scientific hypotheses any causes not necessary or sufficient to explain phenomena. A one-time event, such as my alleged phone call to my insurance agent today to talk about a policy for my new car, is strictly speaking not a subject for scientific explanation. To analyze the event, it must be in a class of phenomena open to experiments, such as cell phone calls made by me, or some such. Otherwise, it's just a data point. An anecdote, an outlier. If you disbelieve me - if you check my cell phone records and argue it didn't happen - scientifically, that means nothing. Maybe I used someone else's phone because mine was out of charge. Maybe I misremembered a report of a very real event. Your beliefs don't matter. I'll still get my insurance card in a couple of weeks. So-called "supernatural" events, such as the alleged rosary transmutation, fall into this category. You can't experiment on them to resolve your personal bias, so you have to fall back on your trust for the claimer. But that trust is, in a sense, a personal judgment, not a scientific one. Don't get me wrong: it's perfectly legitimate to exclude "supernatural" events from your scientific theories - I do, for example. We have to: following Newton, for science to work, we must first provide as few causes as possible, with as many far-reaching effects as possible, until experiment says otherwise. But excluding rare events from our scientific view of the world forecloses the ability of observation to revise our theories. And excluding supernatural events from our broader view of the world is not a requirement of science, but a personal choice - a deliberate choice not to believe. That may be right. That may be wrong. What happens, happens, and doesn't happen any other way. Whether that includes the possibility of rare events is a matter of natural fact, not personal choice; whether that includes the possibility of miracles is something you have to take on faith. -the Centaur Pictured: Allegedly, Thomas Bayes, though many have little faith in the claimants who say this is him.
Well, the Nano climb is starting off great, for a switch! Fourth of July, and I'm already 800 words ahead of what my goal is for this time of the month. Not bad, but then, I am on vacation. :-) An excerpt:
On our way out, I sighs. “That went … well—” “It so very did not,” Karoo says, bouncing from rock to rock. “What?” I says. “We learned a lot—” “We learned nothing but that this so-called Huntswoman wants the Ere Mother dead—or worse!” Karoo snarls. “You learned nothing from the Huntswoman about the Ere Mother herself that I could not have told you, had you only asked—” “Was she wrong about the spell that’s killing her?” I asks, and Karoo says nothing. “If you knew that, why didn’t you tell me?” “You didn’t ask,” Karoo says. “Well, maybe I should change that,” I says, “startin’ now. But I learned a lot—” “A faerie queen flattered you by putting you through paces that would not have fazed the most junior adept in medieval times, when training meant something,” Karoo said. “You learned what you should have learned months or years ago in your training—” “I have not been wand training for years,” I says. “Graffiti magic, three years, wand magic, more like one and a half. Actually, a bit closer to one—” “So you’re hungry and she fed you,” Karoo says huffily. “One way and one way alone this creature is like the Li’ía Ní’qua I remember. You heard her banish me from her court, me, her consort? I loved her once, with all my heart. Now I hate her with equal fervor—” “Don’t say that,” I says. “She’ll … she’ll eventually remember you—” “Li’ía Ní’qua is dead,” Karoo says. “I never want to come back to this place again!”Ouch, Karoo, that's harsh! Especially coming from a cute glowing anthropmorphic fox. -the Centaur
Well, so insanely busy, I haven't posted in a while. But not for want of working on things that I want to post about! Most pressingly, my Camp Nano project for the July Camp of 2018, and what I hope is the last major chunk of the third book in the Cinnamon Frost series ... SPELLPUNK: ROOT USER!
Cinnamon Frost, once-delinquent weretiger stray, is now a rising star in the secretive werekindred kingdom ... until she unwittingly unleashes an ancient faerie monster and is banished to the human world as a result. As the monster wreaks havoc on human and werekin alike, Cinnamon must scramble to save herself, save her city - and save her mother, as the monster turns upon them all in its rage.And, of course, the obligatory excerpt:
I clenches my fist. The fox shimmers, his magic going through my fingers; of course, it’s a magic projectia, not a holographic projection. Mom told me about this: an entombed court of faerie, and the warriors that went back to finish the job. I folds my hands to my breast. “I’m sorry,” I says. “I knows the story. I just didn’t know it happened here too.” “Only three of us were left,” the fox says. “My shattered body. The queen, entombed in layers of crystal too hard to be destroyed—though she freed herself and left us, I have no idea how. And the other, the Ere Mother, entombed half-alive, half-dead on the other side of the cavern; I have not seen her directly for centuries … until now.” The hair creeps up on my spine: the cracking and scraping is louder now. “Did you free her?” the fox asks. “Perhaps she will be grateful—” I whirls. Behind the shattered iceberg, something looms, a glint of red—and a mammoth bony paw slams down to the iceberg’s right. Rock scrapes on rock, and the crystal-encased paw grinds against stone, formin’ and reshapin’, crystal planes flashin’ intermittently within as it rearchitects itself. Then the lumberin’ split head of the sloth-corpse roars into view, wobblin’ on a half-crystal, half-bone neck, its single red eye blazin’ like a laser. “Maybe yes,” I says, “and looks like no!” Red eye blazin’, the Ere Mother screams magic at me in a rasping bellow of rage.Now, none of the Cinnamon Frost books have been published yet; since Cinnamon Frost #1, #2 and #3 are interleaved in time with Dakota Frost #4, #5, and #6, and since both are loose trilogies, I've been working on all six together, in a giant manuscript which would be close to 750,000 words if all put together. Oy! But the outcome is I understand the story much better, and when this giant Hexology is finally put out, I think it will be a much stronger story. Onward! -the Centaur Pictured: a mockup cover for SPELLPUNK: ROOT USER, based on a picture of an eremotherium by Eden, Janine and Jim, and a picture of Doll's Theater in Carlsbad Cavern picture by Daniel Meyer, both licensed for reuse with attribution on variants of the Creative Commons license.
Hail, fellow adventurers! And now you know why you haven't heard from me for a while: I was heads down finishing my wordcount for Camp Nanowrimo! And this is a very special one, because it marks the twentieth time I have won a National Novel Writing Month style challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month! Woohoo! When I started, I never thought I'd finish this many! This was a difficult month for it. Sure, I just finished early, but that final push involved locking me in a downstairs room with my laptop until I finished so I could enjoy the rest of my vacation with my wife. And the push up to this point has been hard: my wife returning from vacation, with me scrambling to finish a spring cleaning gone awry before she got home. A cat being treated for cancer. An organization I'm volunteering with had an emergency that involved multiple meetings over the month. Major shifts and dustups at work. Robots, on the loose, being chased down the corridors. Ok, that last one isn't real. Well, actually, it was, but it was much, much, much more prosaic than it sounds. The upshot, seen above, is blood on the water (behind on my wordcount) for most of the month. And with the very last weekend of the month being my long-planned vacation in Monterey with my wife before she flies out on her next business trip, there was a very real danger that I wouldn't make it. But my wife is awesome, and tolerated me taking out this first evening to do a massive push to get all my words done! And now, sleep. But first, an excerpt:
“The Ere Mother is … not the most dangerous enemy I’ve ever faced,” I says. “Actually, she doesn’t rate really highly compared to the thing we found in the Vault of Nightmares, which was the real source of the magic that tried to burn down this city, Lady Scara—not me. But the Ere Mother is terribly dangerous, that I admit, Magus Meredith, Elder Jackson-Monarch. She’s terribly dangerous. But I did not ‘unleash’ her on the city. I went where my leadership told me to go and did what they told me to do, and the bottom dropped out under me. Yes, she came to life when I fell into the chambers of her court, but I strongly doubt that she was brought to life by a magic tiger butt. As unstable as that structure was—and it was still subsiding from time to time—the Ere Mother could have been unleashed at anytime, and we’d know even less about her than we do because I was down there investigatin’—as you all asked me to.” I stands there, quietly. “OH!” I says. “Um, yeah. That’s … that’s my report.” “Well,” Mom says. “Thank you, First Mage, for your testimony—” “Chair Frost?” Meredith says, raising his hand politely. “Are questions allowed?” Mom blinks. “Always, as long as we maintain order. You have the floor.” “Shoot,” I says. “Not literally—” “How do you know the structure was still subsiding?” asked Meredith. I stares at him. The hair rises on the back of my head. I thinks very, very fast. “I heard it from the remaining member of the Dire Court,” I says. “A fox changeling, er, proto-fox changeling, at least I assume it was a changeling—er, anyway, we spoke, briefly, before the Ere Mother attacked. He mentioned a subsidence that, um.” “Yes?” Meredith says, eyes gleaming. “That, ah, uncovered his eye, so he wasn’t stuck in the dark anymore,” I says quietly. Meredith’s face falls, with true horror. “There was light down there, from runes. But after the Ere Mother’s attack … I don’t think there’s anything left of the fox fae anymore.” “That’s … horrible,” Meredith says. “Do you remember what else you spoke about?” “I will try to reconstruct a transcript. Mostly, he said shit like, ‘Oh, God’, and ‘Don’t hurt me.’” Somebody laughs, and I idly turns towards them and says, “Hey, I was pretty scared. You wanna be pretty scared to, I can always Change into what I looked like down there.” “Cinnamon Stray Foundling Frost,” Mom says sternly, “if you eat anyone at this Council, you’re grounded!” “Yes, Mom,” I says.Ah, Cinnamon. You and your wacky hijinks with ancient faerie changelings! Now ... zzzzz... -the Centaur
Um, so, hi! I'm Cinnamon! (That's me, below!) And I'm supposed to tell you that my biographer, Anthony Francis, is working on my third book, ROOT USER, for Camp Nanowrimo! Camp is the sister challenge to the November challenge to write 50,000 words in a month, and that sounds crazy unless you are my brother and love writing words, and are not dyslexic and ADD and whatever, and what was I saying? SO! Anyway. My biographer's busy writing, or something. So you get me! Except, um, I gots nothin', except, hey, I'm a teenage weretiger, and this is my third book! The first two ain't out yet, but this one has monsters and high school and kids straight out of Harry Potter and yummy yummy wereguys fightin' over the me. Choice! I am awesome, if I do say so myself about myself. Hee hee! What? Oh! Ok. My biographer is askin' me to post an excerpt or somethin', so, here goes:
I glowers. “Fine,” I says. We steps up to the blockhouse surroundin’ the base of the mineshaft. Nri nods to the guard, makes a funny hand sign. The guard nods, opens the chain, lets us in—but as he puts the chain back, he flips down a sign that says, MAINTENANCE—OUT OF ORDER. “This elevator seems to be out of order a lot lately,” I mutters. “Your doin?” “Yes, but why do you care?” Nri asks, pullin’ out a key. “You have a teleporter—” “Common knowledge, thanks to you,” I grumbles, and it’s true: Nri has no respect for my secrets, none at all, but he’s cagey as a wolf. “Now everyone wants to pop out in my den, every time you’re doin’ whatever you’re doin’—what are you doin’ down here, anyway?” “Using the elevator’s special features,” Nri says, slidin’ the gate closed. He inserts the key, turns it—and the elevator starts to go down. “Hey!” I says, as the blockhouse recedes above us. “I thought this was ground zero!” “Ground floor,” Nri corrects. “But no, it is not. The Werehold is a basement. This …” “Sub-basement?” I asks hopefully, as the shaft recedes above us. “I said I’d tell you on the surface,” Nri says. “I never said the surface of what.” And then … the world turns upside down. “Whooaoaaoaa!” I cries, as my feet lifts off the floor—and the elevator keeps descendin. Nri has moved to the side of the elevator, and grips the cage, turnin’ his body a hundred and eighty degrees, so his feet are pointin’ at the ceiling—and then I falls. Up! “Ow!” Nri’s feet land on the ceilin’. I lands on my noggin.Ow! Embarrasin'. Why'd you have to call up that bit, Mister Biographer, huh? Rip your face off, I oughtta. Grr. And stop calling me cute when I growl. A tiger, I am, not to be mocked by those who could be morsels---stop touslin' my hair! Grrrrr. Enjoy, or whatevers. -Cinnamon, on behalf of the Centaur
When I was a kid (well, a teenager) I'd read puzzle books for pure enjoyment. I'd gotten started with Martin Gardner's mathematical recreation books, but the ones I really liked were Raymond Smullyan's books of logic puzzles. I'd go to Wendy's on my lunch break at Francis Produce, with a little notepad and a book, and chew my way through a few puzzles. I'll admit I often skipped ahead if they got too hard, but I did my best most of the time. I read more of these as an adult, moving back to the Martin Gardner books. But sometime, about twenty-five years ago (when I was in the thick of grad school) my reading needs completely overwhelmed my reading ability. I'd always carried huge stacks of books home from the library, never finishing all of them, frequently paying late fees, but there was one book in particular - The Emotions by Nico Frijda - which I finished but never followed up on. Over the intervening years, I did finish books, but read most of them scattershot, picking up what I needed for my creative writing or scientific research. Eventually I started using the tiny little notetabs you see in some books to mark the stuff that I'd written, a "levels of processing" trick to ensure that I was mindfully reading what I wrote. A few years ago, I admitted that wasn't enough, and consciously began trying to read ahead of what I needed to for work. I chewed through C++ manuals and planning books and was always rewarded a few months later when I'd already read what I needed to to solve my problems. I began focusing on fewer books in depth, finishing more books than I had in years. Even that wasn't enough, and I began - at last - the re-reading project I'd hoped to do with The Emotions. Recently I did that with Dedekind's Essays on the Theory of Numbers, but now I'm doing it with the Deep Learning. But some of that math is frickin' beyond where I am now, man. Maybe one day I'll get it, but sometimes I've spent weeks tackling a problem I just couldn't get. Enter puzzles. As it turns out, it's really useful for a scientist to also be a science fiction writer who writes stories about a teenaged mathematical genius! I've had to simulate Cinnamon Frost's staggering intellect for the purpose of writing the Dakota Frost stories, but the further I go, the more I want her to be doing real math. How did I get into math? Puzzles! So I gave her puzzles. And I decided to return to my old puzzle books, some of the ones I got later but never fully finished, and to give them the deep reading treatment. It's going much slower than I like - I find myself falling victim to the "rule of threes" (you can do a third of what you want to do, often in three times as much time as you expect) - but then I noticed something interesting. Some of Smullyan's books in particular are thinly disguised math books. In some parts, they're even the same math I have to tackle in my own work. But unlike the other books, these problems are designed to be solved, rather than a reflection of some chunk of reality which may be stubborn; and unlike the other books, these have solutions along with each problem. So, I've been solving puzzles ... with careful note of how I have been failing to solve puzzles. I've hinted at this before, but understanding how you, personally, usually fail is a powerful technique for debugging your own stuck points. I get sloppy, I drop terms from equations, I misunderstand conditions, I overcomplicate solutions, I grind against problems where I should ask for help, I rabbithole on analytical exploration, and I always underestimate the time it will take for me to make the most basic progress. Know your weaknesses. Then you can work those weak mental muscles, or work around them to build complementary strengths - the way Richard Feynman would always check over an equation when he was done, looking for those places where he had flipped a sign. Back to work! -the Centaur Pictured: my "stack" at a typical lunch. I'll usually get to one out of three of the things I bring for myself to do. Never can predict which one though.
Here's what was in the rabbit hole from last time (I had been almost there): I had way too much data to exploit, so I started to think about culling it out, using the length of the "mumbers" to cut off all the items too big to care about. That led to the key missing insight: my method of mapping mumbers mapped the first digit of each item to the same position - that is, 9, 90, 900, 9000 all had the same angle, just further out. This distance was already a logarithm of the number, but once I dropped my resistance to taking the logarithm twice... ... then I could create a transition plot function which worked for almost any mumber in the sets of mumbers I was playing with ... Then I could easily visualize the small set of transitions - "mumbers" with 3 digits - that yielded the graph above; for reference these are: The actual samples I wanted to play with were larger, like this up to 4 digits: This yields a still visible graph: And this, while it doesn't let me visualize the whole space that I wanted, does provide the insight I wanted. The "mumbers" up to 10000 do indeed "produce" most of the space of the smaller "mumbers" (not surprising, as the "mumber" rule 2XYZ produces XYZ, and 52XY produces XYXY ... meaning most numbers in the first 10,000 will be produced by one in that first set). But this shows that sequences of 52 rule transitions on the left produce a few very, very large mumbers - probably because 552552 produces 552552552552 which produces 552552552552552552552552552552552552 which quickly zooms away to the "mumberOverflow" value at the top of my chart. And now the next lesson: finishing up this insight, which more or less closes out what I wanted to explore here, took 45 minutes. I had 15 allotted to do various computer tasks before leaving Aqui, and I'm already 30 minutes over that ... which suggests again that you be careful going down rabbit holes; unlike leprechaun trails, there isn't likely to be a pot of gold down there, and who knows how far down it can go? -the Centaur P.S. I am not suggesting this time spent was not worthwhile; I'm just trying to understand the option cost of various different problem solving strategies so I can become more efficient.
SO! There I was, trying to solve the mysteries of the universe, learn about deep learning, and teach myself enough puzzle logic to create credible puzzles for the Cinnamon Frost books, and I find myself debugging the fine details of a visualization system I've developed in Mathematica to analyze the distribution of problems in an odd middle chapter of Raymond Smullyan's The Lady or the Tiger. I meant well! Really I did. I was going to write a post about how finding a solution is just a little bit harder than you normally think, and how insight sometimes comes after letting things sit. But the tools I was creating didn't do what I wanted, so I went deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole trying to visualize them. The short answer seems to be that there's no "there" there and that further pursuit of this sub-problem will take me further and further away from the real problem: writing great puzzles! I learned a lot - about numbers, about how things could combinatorially explode, about Ulam Spirals and how to code them algorithmically. I even learned something about how I, particularly, fail in these cases. But it didn't provide the insights I wanted. Feynman warned about this: he called it "the computer disease", worrying about the formatting of the printout so much you forget about the answer you're trying to produce, and it can strike anyone in my line of work. Back to that work. -the Centaur
I was going to write "And from his labors, he rested" but that's entirely to uncomfortably Messianic for me, so here's the scoop: on the last day of Nano, I have stopped at 75,282 words. This somehow all magically happened because I never lost my momentum after the Night of Writing Dangerously, oh, and because this is Cinnamon Frost, and she's awesome! This is the most I've ever written in Nano, by a long shot - almost 10,000 words more. Not quite, and I'm not super motivated to make it exactly 10,000 words more. If I think of more words tonight, eh maybe. Oh yes, the traditional excerpt:
The first challenge was easy—spirit. Awareness. Being aware of faerie. The second challenge was harder—mind. Intellect. Learnin’ the logic of faerie. The third challenge was the hardest of all. Body. Emotion. Feeling faerie in your bones. A huge cacklin’ thing bursts out of the water. Its head is as big as Krishna’s, a huge green dripping thing under a mass of hair, its wide smooth but mottled nose remindin’ me of a diseased muppet. We can’t see the thing’s eyes, but its arms loom around us. Ben and Surrey screams. “Do you care?” it screams, openin’ a maw filled with giant teeth the size of playing cards. I think it could swallow any of us whole. “Do you care if you diieie?” “Aaaah!” Benjamin and Surrey screams. “We care! We care!” The thing looms further forward. “Then flee, mortals, or you may perish here!” “Don’t flee,” I murmurs. “Or you may perish elsewhere—” “We—we will not flee,” Surrey cries. “For we may perish elsewhere,” Benjamin says with sudden insight. Did he hear me? “But stay here, and death will be certain, mortals!” the thing cries, loomin’ over them. “Stay anywhere, and death is certain, for mortals!” Benjamin cries. “And you don’t care if you die,” I murmurs into Surrey’s ear. “And we don’t care if we die,” Surrey says. “What? Ci—” “Surely death comes to all mortals,” Benjamin says. “Why should we care?” “I could make death hurt,” the thing cries, stretchin’ its arms out like a giant Muppet. “Or we could die in our sleep,” I murmurs. “But I can make death hurt him more.”I actually have practically finished BOT NET, so next up is Cinnamon Frost #3, ROOT USER! Oh, and editing Dakota Frost #4, SPECTRAL IRON! Due in about 4-5 months. Aaaaaaa! Onward! -the Centaur