#he’s such a good person and people hate them for something caleb did
The fact that people still blame Willie for taking the boys to the club genuinely astounds me. Willie was stuck in the club for up to forty years, being manipulated and threatened that whole time. We’ve seen how good Caleb is at manipulation, he almost managed to convince the guys to abandon Julie in less than four hours.
Just imagine how much brainwashing and abuse he would have gone through over all that time. Willie’s been Caleb’s victim for literal decades, and he’d been stuck in the developmental stage of a 17 year old that whole time. Of course they’re gonna make mistakes and be impulsive when it comes to Caleb, he’s a teenager who’s been stuck in a cult since he died.
They’d known Alex for ten days when they took him to the club. Three days later, he was 1000% down to help him go behind Caleb’s back. That’s thirteen days against 30-40 years of manipulation. They made a mistake spawned from years of abuse and did everything in his power to redeem themselves, he doesn’t deserve people hating on him. Especially since everyone in the show forgave them.
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Wizard Breakdown Tracker, episode 137
I was, as is nearly always true, correct last week in that we have not covered much more time and therefore this is still really just an Essek Breakdown Tracker (with honorary Yussa). I'm hoping that next week they will destroy Cree and buy themselves enough time to at least heroes feast and rest up, if not get a proper night's sleep in what is apparently the intestines of the Somnovem ward, and I can speculate again on some of the other wizards.
As a reminder, Caleb Widogast is a PC, not an NPC, and therefore ineligible for this.
Currently sidelined: Allura, Pumat, Trint, Astrid, Eadwulf, Ludinus, Oremid, Known Gem Wizard Hotsauce Lutefisk, and Lady Vess DeRogna who's presumably looking at this from the afterlife and just thinking "are you fucking kidding me? this could have been me, being screamed at by horrors beyond comprehension, if the person whose soul I smashed like a cheap beer bottle had the common decency to remain as such."
Essek Thelyss: Essek has been keeping a low profile because of the restrictions of actual play, namely Matt is too busy making nightmare noises with his own mouth, but I in-game, I think that he's just intentionally pretending the last couple of hours did not happen because there are more pressing issues now. As a result he is coming off as slightly bored, which I'm into.
Here's what we do know: Essek is somewhat injured, has a great dex score, has a GREAT intelligence score, might be using cantrips to flirt but is definitely using them to stop people from screaming, cast some extremely sexy lightning, and should be paired up with Veth more frequently because that was really funny. He is probably going to have to counterspell a cat really soon. You know. Normal things.
You know how if you've been having a bad mental health time, and you finally are able to drag yourself out to something, but it's like, a friend of a friend's experimental modern dance, or a movie you didn't particularly care to see, and you're like "I'm doing it! I'm out of the house, like a normal person! This is good!" but also the thing you are doing is not particularly enjoyable. But you're just like "you know what? I peeled myself off the couch for this and put on a clean shirt, and I guess it is happening to me, or at me, or around me, and I suppose that is some small victory, and I hope this will be relatable to people on the internet as an experience one day."
This is Essek. Is the Astral Sea Lovecraftian Nightmare Science Museum a great time? No. Is it a step up from several straight weeks of alternate guilt and panic attacks at the outpost? Maybe not! But it sure is a step somewhere, and that, my friends, is possibly a victory.
Conclusion: downgrading him back to 8/10 on the grounds that he seems like the kind of person who would be like "you know what? I could be in endless torment here and I am not." But also literally the purpose of cosmic horror is to jack up your breakdown levels so I doubt he (or anyone) is getting much further down than that.
Yussa Errenis: As mentioned, heads turning into eyeballs in a fantasy setting is totally chill for me. Having your personality subsumed into a fractured insane hive mind such that death is welcomed as a release, not so much. The reason I hate zombie movies isn’t gore. I can look at cracked skulls full of breached blood-brain barrier all day. The reason is that this monster wears the face of someone you love, but is just a mindless vessel of hunger who does not recognize you in turn.
MAN THIS INSTALLMENT GOT KIND OF DARK AND I DID NOT MEAN FOR THAT TO HAPPEN.
Anyway my kind of joking statements about Yussa may hold a bit of water, but there is a bright side. Per the Astral Projection spell, if Yussa dies in the city and the silver thread tethering him to the material plane is intact he wakes up in real life, which would be nice, but also, no guarantees.
Should Yussa survive and return to the material plane I think it would be great if, when the Mighty Nein go back to talk to him again after this arc, he's like "yeah I could see you playing the worst ever game of What Time is it Mr. Fox in the city, what a poor decision" and they're like "poor decisions you say?"
Conclusion: Praesidius Junction J̵͚̔ų̷̣̀ṇ̷̡̃c̶̯͝t̶̡͝î̴̟̈́ŏ̶̟̑n̵̻͆̎ ̶̢͚̔͘j̴̰͚̅u̵̺͊̈́n̵̬̫͊c̵̯̈́̅t̵̜͔͘í̵̦̻̎ȍ̵̖̔n̷̲̬͛̒j̴͔̿́u̶̘̠̓n̷̰̕c̷̡̙͝t̶̨̅̋ỉ̸̗͉͠o̷̯͑͋n̶̰̽̒ HELP HELP HELP [high pitched Matt scream]/10
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kinda jumping off that other post i reblogged but something i've been thinking for a while is... it's definitely, an interesting choice, for matt to have pretty much every npc ever go "yeah trent's vibes are the worst he's creepy and i hate him", and i think that's validating for the audience who's known to hate him from the start
but i really don't think it's that validating for caleb
because like, the simple fact of the matter is, trent isn't always creepy, and doesn't always have bad vibes the instant you meet him. he's perfectly capable of being a charming and clever and friendly old man, because that's the entire basis on how his abuse tactics work
if trent was immediately noticeable as bad news, he wouldn't be able to lure so many kids into going to how magic school, then taking private lessons with him, then manipulating them to put the empire and him above everything else, then convincing them everything they go through is worth it. like, the biggest, number one most effective trait of abusers, is they seem like nice people at first, people you'd want to give the benefit of the doubt, because that's the only way they get away with gradually turning up the heat like that until you're trapped
caleb may hate trent now, and i think most scourgers do eventually, they get to a certain point and they realise trent was manipulating and abusing them, but at that point they fully believe in the cause and see it as "well, okay, he's terrible and i hate him, but someone had to do it, for the sake of the empire". but as children? as children this is your trusted mentor, who saw something in you personally and wants the best for you, this is your friend, this is your confidant, and you're so good at magic that an assembly member loves you and wants to teach you privately
and i think thinking of trent that way makes many people uncomfortable, for sure. but the thing is, if everyone who's ever met trent knows immediately he's bad news, how is caleb supposed to take that? everyone saw this and you didn't, you were naive and foolish to go along with it, was trent really manipulating you at all? or did you go along with it because it gave you an opportunity to be the terrible person you've been all along, you didn't run away because you believed in empire over all, you believed you were better than everyone else, you wanted the excuse to hurt people.
caleb has a lot of reasons to blame himself, but i feel like this is another voice in his ear, because everyone jumps immediately to "i knew he was terrible from the start i hate him" and think that they're confirming to caleb they're on his side. and they are, but they're also doing what caleb's been doing to himself the whole time, and implicating the victim
(though i do find it interesting that even with it made so obvious, sometimes even the fandom takes trent's side. not in an overt way, but any time people have seen how trent reacted in contrast to caleb's prediction and gone "oh caleb was overreacting". like i fully believe caleb has never once overreacted about that, we just haven't seen the worst of it yet)
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Fun thing of note with that whole interaction with Nott and the rest of the MN (sans Caleb), is how Molly and Beau reacted post-mama!Nott-revelation compared to Fjord.
Fjord is of the same opinion as Molly and Beau, but once Nott corrected them all in their assumptions about her and Caleb’s relationship, he changed his approach. He treated her more like an adult instead of the misguided/naiive youth they assumed she was, apologized for his misinterpretation, and started--not so much compromising, because it was clear he still felt Nott and Caleb were in the wrong--but he treated her like an equal and proposed ways both sides could come to an agreement. He said if they trusted her and Caleb not to run off with their loot, then he hoped in turn she could trust them to keep Caleb safe and be part of the group. He even referred to Caleb as “your boy” to further prove he respected where she was coming from.
Conversely, even after Nott’s revelation, Molly and Beau didn’t really treat her like an adult or realize that with their new understanding of where she was coming from, it changed things a little. No, I AM NOT SAYING they should treat Nott like she’s perfect and always right and they were wrong for confronting her about Caleb’s and her inability to work together as a group, NOR am I saying they’re evil or anything like that. Molly and Beau’s opinions and feelings on the matter are entirely valid, BUT...they were still strangely hostile about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m eager to see the reasons why they acted this way. Because if you think about it, Fjord is the only one with the full right to be completely angry at Nott and Caleb. He was the one being stolen from, and he was there for the scroll issue. Molly and Beau weren’t. They’re hearing this all second-hand. Yes, it still affected them as a group, but Fjord is the one in the thick of it all. If anyone should still be hostile even after Nott’s revelation, it’s Fjord.
Molly and Beau’s responses were more....I don’t want to say self-righteous, but I can’t think of a better word. They still treated Nott like she was a misguided-Stockholm-Syndrome-victim who didn’t know any better and it was up to them to put her on the right path. Again, I’m not saying they’re evil and I hate them and how dare they, but that I’m eager to find out why. There’s something in their backstories that explains why they acted this way.
Fjord should be the one more personally invested in this, but Molly and Beau had raised voices and indirectly called Nott stupid. Something about this situation hit close to home, and that’s what caused them to lash out a bit harsher than they would otherwise.
Now, for Molly I’m guessing that one possibility is he’s trying to put who he once was behind him, trying to be a very Good Person, almost saint-like. Not because he thinks he’s better, but as some sort of penance for whatever happened in his past. He did things he wasn’t proud of, and he’s trying to impart and enforce his ideals on others to save them from the mistakes he made. Again, not self-righteous but stepping a little out of bounds. For a good reason and out of genuine care of course, but still wrong.
Or he could genuinely have no idea about his past, and because of his appearance and his amnesia and the nature of his sword-abilities, Molly assumed the worst and is desperate to prove to himself that he’s a Good Person, and in doing so, projects his own insecurities on others. So with Nott and Caleb, maybe he worries that they’re going to go down a bad path and he’s trying to keep them from going that way.
As for Beau, I don’t have much of an idea because we don’t know as much about her. It could be as simple as youthful arrogance or something more. Again, I’m not saying she’s a bad person, but she does have a little bit of the I’m-amazing-and-untouchable vibe going on that young arrogant people have. No, I don’t hate her by saying this--it’s a flaw and that makes Beau more relatable and complex. Or you know, it could be Beau trying her best to care and be part of a group and this is just part of her learning curve and she’ll learn how to be more calm and objective like Fjord with practice.
Again, THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON MOLLY AND BEAU! I’m simply noting that their behavior seemed a bit off, and I’m excited to find out the reasons behind it as we learn more about their backstory.
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Jester’s biggest fear is ending up alone. Not romantically, although the worry that no one will ever love her that way does appear in her mind some nights when she can’t sleep. She’s scared that the people she cares about will leave her or be taken away. She’s scared of ending up locked in a cell like she was at Lorenzo’s hideout but without anyone to come after her or miss her when she’s gone. Even at her loneliest, before she had the Traveler, before she had the Mighty Nein, she always had her momma. She’s scared that someday soon she will have no one at all.
If you asked anyone else, they would say that Nott’s biggest fear is water or drowning. And yeah, water is a demon, created solely to murder people, and yeah, everyone who gets in the water dies instantly (if you were to ask Nott), but that’s not her biggest fear. Her biggest fear is leaving the people who need her behind. It’s not dying, not exactly, although that’s part of it. She’s scared of not being there when the people who rely on her need her the most.
Caleb has many fears. He would be the first to call himself a coward. He’s scared of fire, of the monsters they fight, of the shadows in his dreams, of himself sometimes... Most of the time. But his biggest fear is one that he will never say out loud, even as he lists all his faults to people who love him despite them. He’s scared of what he’s capable of becoming. He’s scared of looking in the mirror and seeing Trent Ikithon’s eyes on his own face. He’s scared that he’s capable of regressing to that same kid who locked his parents in the house and lit a match. He’s scared that these people who he has come to love like family, like sisters and brothers, will burn and that he will be the one who stoked the flame.
Fjord is scared of ghosts. He’s scared of little girls alone at the end of long, dark hallways, he’s scared of creatures with human faces whose heads turn all the way around, he’s scared of being possessed because that would be the topper on an already shit situation for sure. There’s other things he’s scared of, more serious things. He’s scared of being a failure. He’s scared that being his true self won’t be good enough. He’s scared that he doesn’t have it in him to make Vandren proud. He’s scared that that’s why his parents dropped him off and never came back for him. But yeah, on his list of fears, ghosts are at the top.
Caduceus seems fearless. That’s not on purpose, little about him is done with intent. He doesn’t like to linger in fear. It happens, as most things in nature do, for a reason and he accepts that. It’s a protective instinct that all animals have to some degree. And so he lets his body move through the motions of fear; increased heart rate, sweat, heightened alertness, tense muscles. And then, when the fear subsides, he lets anything lingering with it roll off his skin.
Yasha isn’t scared of the world. She’s not scared of dying or falling or flying or fire or water. Everything that she fears are things that she finds within herself everyday. There’s evil inside her, she can feel it. She’s scared of giving into it someday, of the things she’d be capable of if she did, of people she would hurt, of the lives she would destroy. She carries the fear around with her, like a lead paperweight in her chest, and she uses it to make herself stronger. If she can stand against the evil inside her own body there is nothing that she can’t withstand. Nothing.
If you asked Beau what she was scared of she wouldn’t be able to give you something specific. She has fears, certainly, but they’re hard to give names to, hard to describe in a concrete way. She’s scared of not liking herself. Of giving in to the expectations given to her at her birth and becoming the kind of person who has always hated people like her. She’s scared of dying alone, of having no one notice the empty space she’d leave behind. She’s scared that the people she loves would be better off without her. She scared that someday they’ll figure that out and cut the dead weight. She’s scared of leading them into something they can’t come back from. Of watching them die and knowing that it was her fault. And so, if you asked Beau what she was scared of, she’d smirk and say ‘I’m not fucking scared of anything.’
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Things I got from the bits of the Talks Machina episode I could watch:
pronounces it Fe-yord apparently (though Laura was all “I thought it was Ford!” so idk anymore)
won’t talk about his race *eyes emojis intensify*
Travis wanted to do something the community wouldn’t expect and then he thought the Hexblade thing would be funny considering Grog’s penchant for sentient weapons
has known Jester for a little longer than anyone else, a couple of weeks maybe, enough that they know each other’s backstories a little (because Laura and Travis are married and couldn’t keep it secret from each other as they were creating their characters) but described them only as “friendly” with each other; has only just met Beau along with Jester
chose his character based off what he wants to dress up as (which is why he didn’t pick a Tabaxi)
Laura enjoyed playing the character from the one-shots she did with Kinda Funny and GameSpot, and didn’t really get a chance to get into Jester’s backstory, which she wanted to do
has the same god that she does in the one-shots!
Laura isn’t afraid to play a character who isn’t good with money, but she personally likes to keep track of things, and that’s why she became the treasurer of Vox Machina in the first place, so that might be a hard habit to buck
Her and Taliesin both wanted to play a lavender tiefling with a Eastern European accent; he got the lavender, she got the accent
Liam knew he wanted to play a wizard from the start, and that was his back-up character if Vax bit it before the end of the campaign
Liam chose human as his race because he wanted to be the one normal guy in a room full of crazy people (heavily paraphrasing) and humans in dnd have pretty good stats apparently
Sam says Liam chose his character, Liam’s version is that he was brainstorming ideas with Sam and threw out goblin rogue because it was so different from what Sam had played already. His other option was swashbuckler.
Frumpkin is based off of Liam’s childhood pet cat!
Liam toned down the German accent at first (he got the idea from Matt’s description of Wildmount as vaguely German/Eastern European based) but as everyone came out with these crazy accents he upped the ante a little
Molly hates cops/authority figures
Molly already knows he’s gonna clash with Beau because she’s a “smartass”
Taliesin chose a light Irish accent because it’s easier to improv in without having to put too much conscious thought into; he thought about doing a Dublin accent but then no one would understand what he was saying
Molly cannot keep his mouth shut, and Tal acknowledged if Molly would have kept his mouth shut he wouldn’t be back in prison again
Molly has humanoid legs (Jester has goat legs whoops never mind, misheard!)
Taliesin said that he wanted to represent the other part of himself that he couldn’t really express with Percy, and he really wanted to get into carnie culture
The Terrible Tinker of Tal’dorei!!! Bless Taliesin. He thought of the campaign ending for Vox Machina and then a circus coming to town and doing a show based on either Percy or Ripley, a real horrorshow (and he is clearly referencing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
the deck that Molly uses to tell fortunes is based off a deck that Taliesin made over the Christmas holiday with his younger brother, and the gift Laura got him was a version of that deck that she got an artist to draw; it’s basically a tarot deck but with some deviations. On a personal note, I want this deck so badly.
And that’s all that I can remember off the top of my head. Can’t wait to hear how Talks Machina: After Dark turned out! :D
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so THAT FUCKING LIVESHOW HUH. God fucking damn am I glad I got that ticket, like I’m still riding the high but I honestly think that was one of the best episodes of the whole campaign
IMMENSE shoutout to the guys behind me in line who chatted with me while we waited in the cold and loaned me a portable phone charger so I could actually like, show my ticket
NOTT IS VETH AGAIN. look, we know I was on Team Permagoblin, we know whose blog this is, but like. we’ve seen it coming for a long time so I had time to make my peace, the build on this was incredible, the fucking RP going into this was so nuanced and good. this is only the smallest part of Nott’s journey and only the smallest part of her healing, and I don’t believe for a second that it’s the end of her journey. so I’m happy for her. I was clapping as she came back, and I meant it.
“you are the second great love of my life”
“I love you too, Veth the Brave”
I ABOUT FELL OUT OF THE FUCKING BALCONY
he SAID IT
we knew but he SAID IT
are the two of you gonna EVER TALK ABOUT THAT KISS, HUH
honestly my biases are so intense here that I cannot evaluate any kind of odds, but I wonder if this was a little bit... Nott’s last hurrah with Yeza, in a way? Sam did say he wasn’t sure if Nott was really in love with him anymore...
that said I uh. if. if I CAN’T have my true and great OTP, if they will not give me this, I have.... a second choice Caleb ship now...... which is new......
yeah Caleb/Essek got me, I still prefer Nott/Caleb but I’ve always multishipped on Nott’s half and I have it in me now to have an alternate ship for Caleb apparently
ENEMIES TO FRIENDS TO LOVERS BUT THE ENEMIES PART WAS A SECRET AND NOW HE’S WRACKED WITH GUILT: SEXY
IN LOVE WITH THE MARK: SEXY
DAMNED SOULS SEEKING REDEMPTION: SEXY (see also, first choice ship)
“I am pleading with you” to take this chance we are offering you: SEXY
gentle forehead kiss of benediction: VERY SEXY
“you... you weren’t part of the plan”: SEXY
okay no but for real can we talk about that character growth on Caleb’s part, I saw that listed as self-loathing but it’s... I mean, it’s Caleb, self-loathing is there, but that’s actually one of the most positive things he’s ever had to say about himself?
because the entire argument he’s making hinges on his own potential for grace. his entire argument is: I got better, and so can you. I am capable of redemption, and therefore, so are you. These people came into my life and blew all my ideas wide open and made me start trying to grow, and if you let us, we’re going to do the same to you. we can never undo what we’ve done, but, going forward, we are capable of good, you and I.
that’s such growth. that’s the most that I think we have ever seen Caleb allow himself.
and then there’s Nott. “you sound exactly like all of us. welcome to the mighty nein.” I knew that’s where she was going with it and I fucking SCREAMED MY LUNGS OUT, what a place to end it. because they always said that but she really truly meant it, there, she meant it. he’s one of them, he’s just like them
there’s a thing Nott will do, a kind of rhetorical standby, where she lists off all the reasons against something, all the least flattering descriptions of a person, and then she hits you with the “BUT...” And it’s the most low-charisma way to argue, because, you know, she’s hitting you with the worst things first, but it’s also an incredibly solid way to argue with people who hate themselves (because of course). because she lists off all the things you’re going to think of, all the “but she’s not accounting for -- but once she remembers -- but once she discovers who I really am --” and she says: no, I took that into account, I remember, I know, and still, anyway, I believe what I’m saying
and it’s so perfect in this case, because everything Essek has been saying is that the mighty nein are good, that they are wonderful, that they change everything, that he loves them. and then she hits him with: and we’re not any different from you at all. so if we can do something good, you can too.
that’s really the argument she and Caleb both used, the one-two punch: we are just as bad as you. so you are just as good as us. so you have no excuse not to try.
oh, Essek. “if you let me go.” they’ll let you out of this room alive, but they are the Mighty Nein and they got their hands around your heart, and not now and not ever in a thousand consecuted lives will they ever truly let you go.
and once again, the great strengths of the mighty nein come through: they’re not willing to condemn easily or lightly. they don’t judge, or at least, they don’t judge by any normal standard used by the rest of the world. they will try to befriend anything and anyone except those who betrayed their friends. once they decide to trust you, to be your friend, to love you, they will call you on your bullshit but they will go to the ends of the fucking earth for you. and they are loyal far and above and always to people, nothing else. chaotic to the bone, in that they cause chaos but in that before they are loyal to ideals, to countries, to orders, to creeds, forever and always their first loyalty is to people.
that is what this show is about, again and again and again. a bunch of deeply flawed fuckups with blood on their hands who find each other and offer each other love and trust and loyalty that has nothing to do with any principle, that just is. that is unearned because it has nothing to do with earning.
and it never seems to occur to them for a second that anyone might need to earn the right to do better than they have. that’s simply a chance they’ll offer to anyone they think they can persuade to take it. syphilis bandits, international traitors, ancient assassins shaped by evil gods. do better, if you’re willing to try.
and that’s as fair a definition of grace as I can begin to imagine.
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here's an interesting thought: if caleb believes that fjord needs to be MADE beholden to him, he clearly doesn't think he already is - he either doesn't think saving him from the iron shepherds counts as a big enough favor or he somehow thinks of that as outside of the usual transactional nature of his relationships. fjord (and jester, and yasha) owe caleb and the others their lives and freedom. if he wanted to be a real manipulative shithead, he could play on that. but he doesn't.
Here’s the thing about Caleb. Nein times out of ten, the reason he frames the things he does as “transactional,” has far more to do with him trying to convince himself that there’s a good, logical reason to stay with these people. Most of the things that Caleb does that he views as transactions are nice: they’re offering people help, or giving them things. Sometimes these moments are more overt exchanges (e.g. trading the enchanted armor for the Glove of Blasting with Fjord), and sometimes they’re more nebulous ones (e.g. lending Frumpkin to Beau). But Caleb has at least some meager amounts of self-awareness. He knows on some level that he cares about his friends, so he wants to save them. It’s one thing to frame small tokens and gestures in a transactional light, and a whole other to hold a life debt over someone’s head. If he does need to rationalize saving Fjord, Jester and Yasha to himself, the transaction is that he has them back. Which means that at some point in the future they will still physically be there to help him.
Caleb hates himself for his moments of sentimentality, because they are “distractions” from his goals, so he uses the tools he’s learned to justify that sentimentality. But Caleb also knows (and believes) that the source of his skills is bad. He’s constantly walking that wire of hating himself just enough for using those skills so that he doesn’t hate himself for getting “distracted,” without tipping back over into behavior he views as truly despicable. (Caleb really is just an ouroboros of self-hatred.) The Blood Pact is pretty much the first time we’ve seen Caleb “give” something in exchange for something that was objectively a Bad Thing. And I think it’s the nature of the exchange that makes Caleb (and the audience) view it as an overt and calculated act of manipulation. And as soon as it happens, he is disgusted with himself. He stepped far enough outside his own parameters that he was no longer balanced on his razor edge of self-hatred, but instead mired in his belief that he is A Terrible Person. I’m not actually sure Caleb could have survived using Fjord’s rescue as a bargaining chip. Now, what’s funny, is that Fjord very well might think that he owes something to Caleb, and he was also expecting Caleb to use it as a bargaining chip. And the very fact that he never did (and in fact was pretty emotionally supportive and reassuring) also, ironically, might have made Fjord more likely to believe a favor was owed.
tl;dr Caleb doesn’t really know how friends work, and sometimes he does shitty things because of it, but he's not that shitty
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