Out of the Ashes: Chapter 2

[You are aide and bodyguard to Lord Maximilian Anselm, a diplomat charged with improving the tenuous relationship between your two empires. Tread lightly, for every action you or your charge makes will be scrutinized by a dozen courtiers and spies…]

You hold the draugr’s gaze as sharpened silver punches through bone and into tissue with a wet thud. It gasps and shudders, limbs twitching and spasming as its – his? – body betrays him. Tapered claws rasp weakly against the stone floor as he reaches for the bolt sticking into his forehead, complete and utter surprise in his eyes.

You do not look away. You watch him silently as the light fades from his eyes, his presence flickering like a candle on the verge of burning out…

Then it is gone. Life dwells no longer in the man-shaped lump of meat that lies before you – no hopes, no fears, no dreams. Nothing. Every living being is different, but every corpse is the same.

You sigh and turn on your heel, looking away at last.


It is nearly dawn as you head uphill, toward the heart of the Northern Capital. The local populace is beginning to go about its daily business, filling the cool air with the sound of a thousand greetings and conversations and arguments, the smell of food steaming and roasting and frying. You take in your surroundings as you walk down the road, everything in crystal focus at once.

Slowly, the rush of battle deserts you, and the world begins to… fade? You haven’t come up with a better word for it yet. Colors become less vibrant, discrete conversations re-weave themselves into a vague buzzing, and you become acutely aware of the thumping in your chest.

Civilians mill and mingle nervously, and you can feel the tension in the air like a thick cloud. Lawmen in red lacquer stand watch at street corners, ready to leap into the crowd at a moment’s notice, and people on the streets watch you with subdued wariness as you pass. Nothing overt – minute shifts in position so their faces are harder to see, subtle glances from downturned heads, subdued murmuring in your wake–

You can’t blame them. Anything out of the ordinary is worth a second glance – or a third, or a fourth – for today, of all days, is special.


The organized chaos of jumbled shops and dwellings stops abruptly as you reach your next destination – the Jin Estate. The Jins are one of the most powerful of the Great Houses, and their estate is an enormous plot of land ensconced behind high walls. A broad walkway separates intricate stone from haphazard wood, and guards in blue and purple livery circumnavigate the outer perimeter in pairs.

Wrought iron gates swing open as you approach the main entrance, and four guards bow at the waist. One of them – the most senior, from the looks of it – says without looking up: “Honored Guest, Lord Anselm wishes us to inform you–” his voice falters for a moment, “–that he is waiting in the study.”

You nod in acknowledgement. “My thanks.”

The guards shiver almost imperceptibly, keeping their eyes on the perfectly-manicured lawn until you pass. When you’re out of human earshot, one of them murmurs “–it talks–” before his comrades shut him up.

You should be used to it by now – five years in service of the Republic ought to have acclimatized you. But the guard’s comment still stings a little. One of your many failings, or so you’ve been told.

You quash the unpleasant thought and proceed to the guest manor. The building resembles a giant flower of pure jade, delicate-looking petals of pale translucence reaching heavenward from a bed of vibrant green in an exquisite spiral.

It doesn’t look very defensible to you – the petals are one good trebuchet hit away from shattering and collapsing inward, and the front entrance is far wider than necessary. But you suppose it will have to do, for now.

The study is on the fourth floor. You make your way through a corridor and up a staircase of priceless sandalwood. The house servants give you a wide berth at all times, and there’s something about their body language that you can’t place…. You’re still puzzling over it as you push the ornate door open.

“Ah, there you are,” Lord Maximilian Anselm says from the balcony, and you lose your train of thought. He looks out over the city, watching the first rays of dawn paint the world in liquid warmth. “Is it done?”

“Yes, my lord,” you reply. Your superior is a tall man, pale-faced and golden-haired. Even reclining against the carven balustrade, his posture screams of authority – of an absolute confidence that the world is his.

“Excellent!” He says. “Rouse your colleague and report to Lady Jin once we’re done here.”

Most men would not be so at ease in such a situation, you think as he turns around. Then you see the loaded crossbow in his hand.

Not again–

Metal limbs snap open to send six inches of sharpened metal whizzing across the room, and you make a split second decision…

The bolt is smooth and slightly warm in your grip as you pluck it out of the air. Two of its fellows follow suit as you approach Lord Anselm, and you catch them without breaking step.

“Is this entirely necessary, my lord?” You ask, keeping your voice steady as you kneel down at his feet. It would have been easier to dodge the shots entirely, but you suspect property damage wouldn’t have gone over well with your hosts…

Lord Anselm’s aquiline features break into a smile. “Tell me, Forty-Seven. A good soldier tests his spear regularly to ensure it remains sharp, does he not?”

“He does, my lord.”

“I will need you to be sharp in the days to come,” he says, “for he who smiles the widest also hides the keenest knife.”

“That might be you, my lord,” you reply.

Lord Anselm lets out a soft chuckle. “You may be right.” he says. “Dismissed.”


Leaving Lord Anselm to his contemplation, you head down the hall and knock softly on another door. It’s unlocked and there’s no response from inside, so you push it open and enter.

Reality shifts as you step over the threshold – piles of clothing wriggle and squirm in the corner of your eye, words crawl spider-like across parchment in complicated loops and swirls, and unnaturally cool air clings to your skin in a viscous film.

“Hello, Forty-Seven.” Adrian mutters from his desk. You raise a hand in gretting, and he leans in to squint at two glasses of wine sitting in front of him. “I’m a little busy – do you want to sit down somewhere? This will probably take a while.”

You shake your head. “Lady Jin is expecting us in the Central Mansion.” Your colleague groans. One of the glasses floats upward, coming to rest a few inches above the surface of the desk.

You frown. “Is there a problem? You seem agitated.”

“Lord Anselm wants me to present a bottle of wine to her,” he replies. “But he gave me two and one of them has poison in it.”

“Are you sure?” You ask.

“He says it’ll be good exercise,” Adrian mutters. The second glass twitches and wobbles on its axis as he buries his face in his hands, and you reach out to steady it before it can spill its contents across the desk. He gives you a grateful look and goes on: “I’ve been up all night trying to figure out which bottle it is, but…”

He makes a hopeless gesture and withdraws his Influence. Reality reasserts itself – everything falls still, the air returns to normal, and the floating glass of wine sinks slowly to its proper place on the desk.

“Finesse wasn’t exactly prioritized during my training,” he says. “It was more ‘turn the training field into quicksand, Recruit’ or ‘burn this stretch of forest down, Recruit’ than ‘I need you to fiddle around with a glass of wine and tell me if it’s been poisoned’.”

You reach out and take a sip from the left cup. The wine is sweet sunshine on your tongue, light and exuberant. But a thread of menace lies beneath the flowers and honey, metallic and almost bitter…

“Arsenic,” you say, putting the glass down. “I wonder how Lord Anselm got it past the guards?”

“Firstly,” Adrian says, “you’re insane.” He rushes over to his travelling case, rummaging around for something.

“It was a very small dose,” you reply. “You would have detected anything stronger.”

“Secondly…” he trails off, too focused on his search to continue. “Ah, here it is.” He hands you a tiny vial of clear liquid, but you wave it away.

“I’ll be fine,” you say. “Don’t worry.”

Adrian frowns at you. “Are you sure?”

You nod.

He shrugs. “Your funeral.” He retrieves a bottle of wine from under his desk. “Let’s go–”

You take a sip from the other glass, swirling the wine around your mouth. Rich and velvety, it leaves you with a lingering taste of elderberry… and the faintest hint of almonds. “Heart of peach.”

“Son of a–” Adrian puts the bottle of wine back on the desk with a clunk. “He poisoned both?”

You nod, and your colleague swears again. “Looks like Lady Jin won’t be getting anything today,” he says. “Do you think this is another one of Lord Anselm’s lessons? Trust no-one, or something like that?”

You shrug. “Possibly. Shall we head out?”

“I can’t believe it,” he mutters, following you out of the room. “I could’ve poisoned her.”

“Lady Jin strikes me as a very difficult woman to kill,” you say.

Adrian nods. “I suppose you would know–” His mouth clicks shut. “I… meant no offence. I merely assumed–”

“None taken,” you say, keenly aware of your Order’s reputation. “You were right to assume so.”


The two of you descend to the ground floor without another word. Then, as you exit the guest manor and head across the lawn, Adrian breaks the silence. “How many years have you been…” he pauses, trying to think of the right word.

“Active?” You suggest.

“Oh,” he says. “I suppose that’s, um, one way to look at it. So…”

“Five years,” you say. “I fought at Huntsman’s Pass, the Siege of Krakov, and Red Fields. You?”

“I was at Red Fields too,” he replies. “Fresh out of training. God, what a bloody mess that was.”

You nod. “Huntsman’s Pass was three weeks; Krakov was a full spring and summer of fighting. But Red Fields killed more men in one afternoon than all the other battles put together.”

Adrian’s next question hangs unspoken in the air – you know what it will be.



1. [Too many. Hundreds of sons and daughters and fathers and mothers lie dead by your hand, families and friends and lovers sundered by your blade.]

2. [Seven hundred and twenty two. You remember every single one. Some were defiant, some were resigned, some were fearful. All of them died the same way.]

3. [Not nearly enough. There are too many of them and too few of your kind. Your duty is a heavy burden to bear, but the alternative is far worse…]

4. [It doesn’t matter. Killing begets more killing, fortunate survivors taking up the sword to avenge their fallen. It will not end until one side lies in utter ruin…]

Horoscopes By Drunk Editors

Aquarius (Jan 20 – Feb 18): One is the loneliest number. Unless it goes to a party. You should attend a few this month.

Pisces (Feb 19 – Mar 20): Water is your sign. Drink lots of water. Good thing beer has water in it. So does wine. And vodka. Really any liquid to drown your sorrows at being alone during the middle of the month.

Aries (Mar 21 – Apr 19): Don’t take the bull by the horns in a relationship. That’s stupid and dangerous. Actually, you probably shouldn’t have a bull in a relationship at all.

Taurus (Apr 20 – May 20): Get your hipster on this month. Give your special friend sweets in a mason jar.

Gemini (May 21 – Jun 20): They love me. They love me not. Make up your mind and stop whining about it.

Cancer (Jun 21 – Jul 22): Here’s what’s in your future… oh damn! The crystal ball has short term memory loss. There’s always the Magic 8 ball if you’re really that desperate.

Leo (Jul 23 – Aug 22): Roses are red, violets are blue. No one loves you. Boo hoo hoo.

Virgo (Aug 23 – Sep 22): Here’s a great plan for your love life. Fall in love with yourself. Really. You deserve it. And no one’s gonna treat you better than you.

Libra (Sep 23 – Oct 22): Smile more. You’ll make more friends, cheer people up, and feel great in the process. Smile, dammit! (WARNING: side effects white skin, and slowly turning into a morbid joke telling, deranged, homicidal maniac.

Scorpio (Oct 23 – Nov 21): Want a Valentine’s date? Rub vanilla and sugar on your skin. JK. Unless you’re into ants.

Sagittarius (Nov 22 – Dec 21): Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the sweetest of them all? It’s you, baby. At least, it’s you unless Scorpio up there really is into ants.

Capricorn (Dec 22 – Jan 19): If you eat lots of Valentine’s candy, guess you know the answer to “Does this make my butt look big?” Then again, chocolate helps produce dopamine, so really, it’s all about compromises (or something like that, Bio is not my thing).

Faculty Search: Help Determine the Future of Olin’s Faculty

You’ve probably noticed that we are already in high gear for faculty recruiting. Similar to choosing our next class of students, this process began in the early fall with job advertisements. Applications have been flowing in ever since. There is a Faculty Search Committee consisting of six faculty members, and chaired this year by Siddhartan Govindasamy. Their responsibility is to review applications, check references, conduct phone interviews with candidates, and make recommendations to the dean about who we should invite to campus for a two day interview. This is when you, the community, first hear about the candidate and have the opportunity to make an impact on the committee’s final recommendations. In particular, students play a critical role in this process and your feedback is highly considered. The four main ways to get involved are:
• Attend the faculty seminar
• Conduct a tour
• Join the candidate for lunch
• Participate in one of two student-oriented interview sessions

We are currently experimenting with the design of some of these sessions. Here are details so that you can make informed decisions about how to get involved.

There are two special, student-oriented interview sessions, both of which have been created this year with the goal of giving more insight into how the faculty candidates will collaborate with students, as well as with faculty colleagues. In the “Building the College: Olin Self-Study” session, we ask the candidate to prepare thoughts as a catalyst for a conversation about the OSS. In this session, we are trying to gauge their ability to handle a conversation about an issue that we are currently wrestling with. Are they collegial? Are they open-minded? Are they listening to students and faculty? Can they change their opinion based on feedback? As a student in the room, you can engage with the candidate on the topic and work with them to hash out new ideas.

In the “Developing Students: Course Co-design” session, the candidate, students and faculty work together to explore courses that they might develop and teach at Olin. Main topic discussions will be: What sorts of courses might resonate at Olin? How might they be constructed? How does fit into the current curriculum?

The student lunch is an opportunity to meet the candidate in a relaxed setting. We are looking for someone to host the candidate and introduce them to students in the dining hall – sitting downstairs with a group is a great way to have a dynamic conversation!

Largely unchanged from last year is the tour. It is very helpful if you have experience giving tours, particularly to faculty members from other institutions. It is a great opportunity to connect individually with the candidate, and they candidates often report that the tour and student lunch are pivotal parts of their experiences on campus.

Finally, each faculty candidate gives a seminar. We have changed things a little this year so the session is more open for discussion. We’ve asked the candidate to prepare a 25-minute seminar, in which they share their work with students, staff, and faculty. Ideally, this should set the stage for a good conversation between the candidate and the audience for the remaining 25 minutes. Students should attend the sessions to learn about the candidate’s work and ask questions about their presentation, their plans for the future, and their thoughts about education in general to gauge whether Olin is a good “fit” for the candidate. The lengthened Q&A period was chosen in large part to see how the candidate can answer students’ questions, so students are strongly encouraged to come and join the discussion!

In all of these possible interactions, your participation and subsequent feedback is critical. After the candidate leaves, everyone who interacted with the candidate is expected to provide written feedback. This feedback is reviewed by the committee, and a recommendation is made to the dean about whether to extend a job offer or not. All the feedback collected by the committee is important, whether submitted by students, staff, or faculty.

So please join us in recruiting the next set of Olin faculty! If you have any questions on this process, reach out to John Geddes, Siddhartan Govindasamy or Jamie Gorson.

Service Activity Updates at Olin!

Brought to you by SERV

The Daily Table: Service Activity Leadership by Emily Yeh
Olin has started a volunteering partnership with Daily Table in Dorchester! Daily Table is a nonprofit organization with a mission: to provide healthy foods at prices that compete with fast food chains to people with low incomes. If you’re interested in helping Daily Table in feeding the needy, contact Emily Yeh!

Youth CITIES: Led by Andrew Holmes
Youth CITIES is a non-profit organization in Cambridge that offers a platform for cultivating entrepreneurship and fostering tech/artistic/social innovation in middle and high school students from any school or town. This spring Youth CITIES is hosting a March-to-May Bootcamp on Saturdays from March 3rd to May 7th from 9am to Noon. Students will work with entrepreneurs to start a venture, figure out how it impacts our local community, and determine how to make it financially sustainable while driving change. If you are interested in volunteering to mentor students, please contact Andrew Holmes.

This month eDisco worked with a Needham cub scout troop, teaching them about robotics and leading robotics themed activities. A big thank you to all of the students who helped make this program run so smoothly! We’re planning a lot of cool program for this new semester and we would love to have more people help out. We’re still making a lot of changes to the club, so if you have any ideas we’ll be having a meeting and inviting the whole school, so please attend and help improve the club! Contact Mary Martin or join the eDisco mailing list if you are interested!

The Food Recovery Network: Led by Mackenzie Frackleton with GROW
The FNR is starting up recoveries for this year! Please contact Issac Vandor if you want to get involved! The earlier the better!
The FRN just finished up our New Chapter Flurry, so if you know someone at another college who wants to start a chapter, refer them to us and we can help!
The FRN national dialogue, a conference on food recovery and sustainability, is from April 2nd – 4th in Maryland. Olin’s FRN is still accepting people interested in attending. Please contact Mackenzie Frackleton for details.

Big Brother Big Sister College Campus Program: Olin and Babson College
BBBS had a winter party before winter break, where Max Wei, Justin Kunimune and their Littles met up with all the other BBBS matches in the Greater Boston Area. There was pizza, a rock wall, a raffle, etc. They are still having their periodic outings with their Littles and other Babson Matches. Their first outing of the year was a potluck!

Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Inspiration with Youth CITIES

This past semester I volunteered as a mentor for the L3 Innovation Challenge, a program designed by Youth CITIES (Creating Impact Through Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability) in which middle and high school students are challenged to apply entrepreneurial principles to the design of a product that meets an unmet need in the healthcare and medical technology fields. The students must prepare a final prototype and presentation for a panel of industry experts at the end of the program. My role was to facilitate discussions with teams in regards to their product design, market appeal, stakeholders, etc.
Youth CITIES itself is a nonprofit organization based in Cambridge whose mission is “to empower young people to innovate and drive change in their community by applying entrepreneurial principles and creative problem solving skills.” The organization reaches out to students from all economic backgrounds to provide affordable exposure to the skills and ideology necessary to succeed in a competitive economy. My involvement with the nonprofit began when I was in sophomore year of high school and decided to sign up for the March to May Bootcamp, Youth CITIES flagship program. What was a last second decision at the time turned out to be arguably the best decision I made in high school. Participating in Youth CITIES has been an incredible educational experience and opened the doors to a plethora of opportunities.
The March to May Bootcamp preaches the idea that entrepreneurship is a way of life, and attempts to establish a connection between an entrepreneurial mindset and technological, artistic, and social innovation. It takes students from all backgrounds and teaches them that neither zip code nor gender should define someone’s potential. Students establish the basics of running a business and creating a startup, including a business plan, value proposition, and target audience, while developing public speaking skills by creating an elevator pitch and presenting to a panel of judges on their proposed startup. The student’s efforts are driven by the promise of $1500 in seed grant funding for the strongest venture idea and pitch.
As a relatively shy high school student with a slight interest in engineering, Youth CITIES exposed me to an entirely different, more social and creative, approach to engineering, education, and business. I improved my ability to speak in front of a crowd, and won crowd favorite alongside my partner in the final competition. Along the way I formed a relationship with Youth CITIES’ founder Vicky Wu Davis, an incredibly hard working individual who is always trying to help others as much as she can. After the March to May Bootcamp I was introduced to the director at the Cambridge Innovation Center, which led the way to an internship that summer. Thanks to Youth CITIES I adopted a new outlook on life, made connections with several influential people in the startup scene, and finalized my decision to study engineering.
While applying to Olin I realized that Youth CITIES and Olin would be a perfect fit for each other, as they share similar missions to inspire creativity and develop solutions for the good of the world. Getting accepted made me even more confident in this assumption, as I recognized how Youth CITIES’ values had meshed with my own over the course of my relationship with the organization.
Now, with the help of Kelly Brennan, SERV, and Vicky Wu Davis, I am looking to make the relationship between Youth CITIES and Olin a reality. This semester, Youth CITIES is seeking Olin students to act as mentors for this year’s March to May Bootcamp (which if you hadn’t guessed by now runs from March to May). If you choose to join us you can expect to work alongside respected businessmen and entrepreneurs to help spark students’ creativity and develop their presentation skills, business plan, target market, and product design. The program takes place at the Cambridge Innovation Center, which is home to a staggering amount of startups and companies, and takes place on Saturday mornings from March 5 to May 7. There will be a brief training session some time before the program begins. Check out the service update in this paper and be sure to contact me if you are interested! I owe a lot to Youth CITIES, and I hope that Oliners will not only benefit themselves from their participation, but inspire students in the program to see the world through a different lense.