Pitching Your Book Part V: Pitch Sheets

April 9, 2013 in Publishing, Synopses Etc., Writing

Most of what I want to say about how to write a pitch sheet I’ve already said in the previous four parts of this series talking about synopses. The main difference between the two forms is length.

So, what I’m going to do here is post a diverse set of examples. Below you will find a pitch for a novel I’ve never written, one for a novel I’ve written and haven’t yet sold (though it’s out with an editor who would like to buy it), and one for the first novel I sold, WebMage. All of these are exactly as they went out to editors. I will also include the long form synopsis for WebMage for comparison. After each pitch I’ll include a brief note. Oh, and there will obviously be major spoilers.

The rest of this post is beyond the cut to hide the spoilers and because it’s enormous.

The Nightmare Academy pitch:

The story begins with this: “You can die in your dreams. I did. It was a nightmare, and now, so am I. You can live in dreams too. This is how I learned how.”

Brandon is 14 and dead, sort of. He had a nightmare and flatlined in his sleep. His mother heard him stop breathing and called 911. When the paramedics arrived they couldn’t detect a heartbeat, but a few seconds later, before they could take any serious measures, Brandon sat bolt upright, and let out a bloodcurdling scream. His vital signs immediately returned to normal and the paramedics, and later a doctor, could detect no evidence that Brandon had died. When asked if he remembered anything, Brandon could only say that he’d died in his dream and then something had frightened him back to life.

A few months later, an official from the Highbridge school in Morpheus, MA calls Brandon’s parents to tell them that he has won an all-expenses paid scholarship to Highbridge, one of the country’s most prestigious prep schools. They are somewhat dubious at first, but after doing a little research they decide this is too good an opportunity to pass up.

When Brandon arrives at the school he finds a beautiful rural campus with excellent rooms and every effort made to make students feel at home. The daytime school is one hundred percent what it seems, a rigorous academic experience that will play a small and diminishing role throughout the course of the book. That’s because the real work at Highbridge happens at night in the dreams of its students.

Highbridge is an academy for nightmares, or at least that’s what they tell Brandon, who has become a nightmare himself by dying in his dream. While he sleeps he learns how to terrify people in their sleep. The experience should be mystical, frightening, illuminating, but Brandon feels like there’s something missing, that nightmare classes are hiding things from him. There are classes on standard anxiety dreams and how to optimize them and the whole thing treats dreams as cogs; “everyone dreams the same dreams, most them just won’t admit it.” Falling and chasing dreams don’t feel quite right to Brandon.

He starts seeing things out of the corners of his eyes during the day. Graffiti that’s only there as long as he doesn’t look at it. It says things like: “Real dreams. True dreams. Wild dreams.” And, “We are the stuff dreams are made of.” Or, more worrying, “It’s not a school, it’s a prison for dreams. Dreams have no limits.” He also sees cheshire cat type images and other things that are surreal and creepy but fun and joyous at the same time.

With the help of a wild dream that is living in the school and trying to help the students, Brandon comes to understand that the school is a prison for dreams, a way to harness and contain them. Its students and graduates are sent out to become killing dreams, like the one that got Brandon. His instructors are trapped dreams working for the thing that eats/harnesses dreams. Brandon is assigned to become the dream of a young painter named Linea. The instructors want him to scare her to death, but he falls in love with her instead.

The book ends with Brandon physically escaping into Linea’s dreams and he wakes up beside her in her bed. He had become a wild dream himself, half nightmare, half inspiration, a dream figment bringing wild but wonderful nightmare/dreams of the sort that inspire artists. Real dreams, true dreams, wild dreams.

The book has a circular arc that begins and ends with a killing dream. One makes him a harnessed nightmare, the other frees him from the dream prison and makes him the muse of the girl he loves. The story also ends with a beginning as Brandon has become one the immortals, the wild dreams, and what he can do is only limited by his imagination. His physical body still exists, and he’ll live out a mortal span as Brandon, but when he dies he’ll become like the wild dream at the school.

This is a pretty loose proposal written last summer when I first started into discussions with a YA publisher about possible projects. It’s for a short darkish novel for teens with a single first person point of view.

Winter of Discontent pitch:

Derek was a soldier once, a damn good one. Then a piece of shrapnel took away his life’s work. Now, with nothing to live for, he’s become an emotional cripple who only feels alive when he’s being someone else, a fact he discovered when he auditioned for a play. He’d liked theater once, and hoped he might get something out of it. He did, a chance to lose himself in the role. Now he’s majoring in theater in hopes of losing himself forever.

William Shakespeare was the greatest sorcerer who ever lived. People still believe in the characters he created 400 years ago. For example, Shakespeare’s Richard III is as real today as he was on the stage of the Globe in the 1590s. Shakespeare made Richard immortal. He also made him into a lie. The real Richard had little in common with Shakespeare’s. There are people in the modern era who want nothing more than to separate the real Richard from the fake. One of them is Richard himself, now pretending to be a Royal Shakespeare director.

Theater generates belief. Belief generates reality. Richard lives and wants out. In Derek, he thinks he’s found his ticket. Derek is an almost perfect analog of Richard as he was in life. By casting Derek in Richard III he thinks he can shift the curse onto Derek. Derek doesn’t want to be Derek, though he doesn’t know about the magic that could make this work. Richard wants Derek to become Richard. Everybody ends up happy, right? Wrong.

Richard was once a good man in an impossible situation. Shakespeare made him a monster. If he shifts his curse onto Derek, he will become that monster in truth, because what Derek really needs is to learn how to be human again. So does Richard. If they’re both very lucky, they might be able to help each other get there. If not, they’re both damned forever. Unfortunately, they aren’t alone in the game.

Shakespeare wrote Prospero in The Tempest as a role to embody himself. Tragically, it worked. As one of his own immortal creations, Shakespeare has a stake in preserving his works, both magical and theatrical, and Richard is one of his best. Lady MacBeth is perhaps the most famous murderess in all of history. Now, an immortal with OCD that makes her wash her hands sixty times a day, she has a mad agenda all her own, one that doesn’t include Richard’s redemption, though she would like to know if the trick could work. MacBeth the King doesn’t know what he wants, but he’s willing to kill for it. Matt and Riana are friends of Derek’s. They are also novices in the theatrical magic tradition that created Shakespeare. Both love Derek and want to save him. Both are sworn not to reveal what they know to non-initiates like Derek. Can they help him stay alive and stay true to their oaths at the same time?

This is as close to literary as anything I’m ever likely to write—I think of it literate fantasy rather literary, which is a fine but important distinction. It’s a sprawling complex book written in third person with three main points of view and a half dozen minor ones. It’s been nearly bought a couple of times, and hopefully is with the editor who will give it a home right now.

WebMage pitch:

Don’t Mess With Fate:

Ravirn is a child of the Fates, literally. His grandmother is Lachesis, the Greek weaver of destiny, and like Hercules, Ravirn lives in the middle country between the mortal and the divine.  He’s also a hacker whose divine talent is find the fatal flaw in just about any program. Since magic in the 21st century has gone digital to keep up with the times, this makes him a better than average sorcerer. His best friend and familiar is both a goblin and a laptop, changing shape from one to the other to suit the needs of the moment.

Ravirn’s a bit of a shape changer too, demi-divine hacker one minute, harried college student the next. His grandmother has enrolled him in C-Sci at the University of Minnesota, in hopes of turning his talents toward the good of the family. She started him at MIT, but after a little incident with the grades computer he had to relocate. His great aunt Atropos has uses for him too. She thinks free will has gotten to be too much of a good thing and wants to assert the absolute control of Fate by inserting a program called Puppeteer into the Fate Core, the server that rules destiny. Unfortunately it doesn’t work properly and only Ravirn’s gift can fix it.

But as a hacker, Ravirn has a thing about free will. When he not only refuses to help, but begins to actively oppose her, all hell breaks loose. Not one to be thwarted, Atropos sends a hit team after him. Only a timely warning from his distant cousin Cerice and a virus/spell that crashes the entire magical web that runs the world allow him to escape. But it’s only a temporary reprieve. Crashing the system gives Atropos the excuse she needs to have him outlawed. Ravirn decides that the only way to clear his name and thwart Atropos’ designs on free will is to hack into the Fate Core. It’s a life-thread cutting offense, but it just might work. Unfortunately, once he’s inside things only get worse. Eris, Goddess of Discord has beaten him into the system, with a virus that is erasing Fate from life strands one at a time. Ravirn has to decide which is more important, the integrity of destiny, or his own skin.

Ravirn chooses Fate, and destroys the virus, but it comes at the cost of exposure. With the free will of every living being hanging in the balance, Ravirn’s caught between Fate and its ancient enemy Discord with both sides out to get him. Now Ravirn and Melchior have to find a way to stop Atropos, clear the charges against Ravirn, and get him off Discord’s hit list. Even with the help of his sorceress cousin Cerice, a friendly troll, and the webgoblin underground it’s going to be a very close call.

This is the pitch sheet as written when WebMage sold to Anne Sowards at Ace. The book is first person action adventure fantasy with a heavy side of snark.

WebMage full synopsis:

Ravirn is a child of the Fates, literally.  His grandmother is Lachesis, the Greek weaver of destiny, and like Hercules before him, Ravirn lives in that middle country between the mortal and the divine.  He’s also a computer hacker of unparalleled ability, capable of finding the fatal flaw in just about any program.  He’s only really happy when he’s breaking into other people’s computers, the tougher the security, the better.

This isn’t Homer’s pantheon anymore.  The Fates have moved with the times to create a fully modern computerized operation that spans a near infinite number of possible worlds using a magical version of the world wide web.  Ravirn’s talent for finding flaws makes him a master at locating bugs and fixing them as well.  It’s this latter skill that initially gets him into trouble.  Atropos, the Fate who wields the shears, has come to him with a proposition.  She feels that too much free will has been creeping into the weave of destiny and she’s unilaterally decided to excise it.  She’s crafted a program called Puppeteer to tighten the strings of Fate, but it doesn’t work, and she needs Ravirn to debug it.  Ravirn refuses, infuriating Atropos, who’s working behind the backs of the other Fates. Without their support, she can’t compel him to her will.

 

Opening Gambit:

Aided only by his webgoblin familiar Melchior, Ravirn hacks into Atropos.web, the computer system which Atropos uses to control her part of Fate’s domain.  He’s looking for a copy of the spell she wants to use to destroy free will.  He believes that with the spell in hand he’ll be able to thwart Atropos.  He doesn’t get the opportunity.  While Ravirn and Melchior are ransacking Atropos’ office, they are detected by her security net, forcing them to flee.  Melchior, half goblin, half laptop and one hundred percent cynic, is thrilled to depart.  He might have been designed specifically for hacking, but he’s deeply attached to his skin and terrified of Atropos.

He has every right to be.  Ravirn leads a second life as an undergraduate majoring in computer science at the University of Minnesota.  He’s there because his grandmother wants his debugging skills honed and, due to a certain lack of motivation, he’s already flunked out of MIT and Carnegie Mellon.  Within an hour of their return to Minnesota, Ravirn learns that Atropos is backtracking his computer trail.  To avoid capture, Ravirn employs a virus/spell called Scorched Earth designed to churn the local portion of the mweb into a chaotic froth.  Unfortunately, the virus gets out of hand and crashes the entire mweb, severing the primary bond between the worlds.

Ravirn is suddenly in very serious trouble.  He learns how serious when his cousin Cerice sends him a message over the local net.  Cerice is a distant cousin by blood, but a close one by affection.  She has just come from a meeting of the Fates at which Atropos has demanded to be allowed to snip Ravirn’s life thread.  Atropos needs to protect her hidden agenda and she wants to punish Ravirn for refusing her.  Crashing the mweb has provided her with the perfect excuse.

Still, Ravirn is Lachesis’ grandson, and she won’t countenance his summary execution.  The third fate, Clotho, agrees with that.  Killing a member of Fate’s family puts an end to a life that, barring accident, might last for millennia.  However, Clotho agrees with Atropos that crashing the mweb demands drastic punishment.  So by a vote of two to one it is decided that a trio of Atropos’ grandchildren will be dispatched to try and kill Ravirn with the outcome left in the hands of Tyche, goddess of Chance.  This leaves Ravirn with a real problem.  The assassins, coming directly from the Fates, are able to travel between the worlds to Ravirn, but with the mweb down he’s confined to the world that he currently occupies.

Soon the assassins arrive.  Ravirn is able to prevent them from killing him in the initial attack, but just barely.  When it comes to physical prowess, he’s more than human, but he’s no match for his cousins.  As he is being pursued, he takes refuge in an art gallery.  Here he is reminded that before the mweb there were other ways of passing between the worlds.

In the old days, interworld travel was via the gateways provided by a special kind of art.  The gates are one-way and inefficient, crafted by human artists who can see beyond the bounds of their own worlds.  Melchior locates one such painting for Ravirn.  It leads to a bizarre and twisted landscape, but offers the only opportunity for escape.  Sacrificing a fingertip to create a doppelganger of himself, he sends it to face his cousins.  A battle ensues in which Ravirn shatters a knee and the doppelganger and one of the assassins are killed.  Because the doppelganger was magically identical to Ravirn, his cousins believe that he is dead, enabling him to make an undetected escape.

 

Hidden Agenda:

The world beyond the picture is a sort of Garbage Faerie in which the Fey inhabit a giant eldritch dump.  Ravirn doesn’t know it, but Melchior chose this picture for multiple reasons.  Ravirn and most of his family think of their familiars as being semi-autonomous at best.  They’re wrong.  The familiars are fully independent beings with a secret familiar underground. Garbage Faerie is one of their refuges.  Melchior has brought Ravirn here because this is one of the few places where they can remain hidden even from the Fates.

When they arrive, Ravirn is badly injured and unconscious. While he is in this state, a vegetarian troll named Ahllan takes them in.  A former familiar of Atropos’, discarded and believed destroyed, she is the leader of the familiar underground.  It is only because Ravirn is attempting to thwart Atropos that Ahllan is willing to take him in, and even so she insists that Ravirn remain ignorant of the nature of Garbage Faerie.

Ahllan attempts to heal Ravirn.  But her efforts aren’t enough, so without Ravirn’s knowledge, Melchior summons Cerice to Ravirn’s aid.  He chooses Cerice because she cares deeply for Ravirn and because she is the only member of the family of Fate who is in on the secret of the familiars.  Cerice arrives, furious with Ravirn for almost getting himself killed.  Nonetheless she proceeds to help.  Ravirn is grateful for the aid, but worried that Cerice will be drawn into his conflict with Atropos, so he conceals the truth about his argument with the Fate.

While he is recovering, Ravirn and Cerice spend considerable time together and almost accidentally, they end up in bed.  It’s something they’ve both been thinking about for years, and Ravirn wants to make a relationship of it, but Cerice isn’t ready for that yet.  She can sense that he’s hiding something from her, and suspects that it has to do with Atropos.  Unwilling to start a romance with secrets between them, she leaves Ravirn in Garbage Faerie.  Physically healed, but disappointed and hurt by Cerice’s rejection, Ravirn follows suit.

 

A Visit With The Family:

No sooner does Ravirn arrive back at the U of M than Atropos, having discovered the faked death, makes another attempt on his life.  He is still trying to figure out what to do about that when his grandmother arrives.  He wants to tell her what’s been happening with Atropos, but never gets the chance.  She’s there to deliver an ultimatum.  If his behavior doesn’t improve, he will find himself imprisoned in a monastery.  She also cuts him off from the mweb.

This is too much for Ravirn, and for a while he buries his head in the sand, pretending he’s just an ordinary college student, and trying to figure out what went wrong with Cerice.  Weeks go by with no word, and, cut off from the mweb, he is unable to contact her.  It takes another attempt on his life to jolt him into action.

 

Desperate Times:

Ravirn knows that his chances of surviving the coming conflict with his aunt are slim and he doesn’t want to leave any loose ends.  His abortive romance with Cerice is a big loose end.  With the mweb closed to him, and no painting leading in the right direction, Ravirn’s only option for reaching Cerice is wild magic.  Using his blood and the stuff of chaos, he creates a faerie ring.  It gets him there, but it’s a rough ride.

Ravirn tells Cerice the whole story.  He also tells her he loves her. It’s been building for years, but he hadn’t been willing to admit it, even to himself, until now.  The pair reconcile and spend a brief interlude together before Ravirn leaves to continue the conflict with Atropos.

As a first step in this campaign, he sets out to attach a software dead-man’s switch to his life thread in the Fate Core.  He hopes this will allow him to stop Atropos’ plans even if she kills him.  The Fate Core is the computer where the destinies of every individual in all of the worlds are stored. If he’s caught breaking in, not even his grandmother will be able to prevent Atropos from snipping his life thread.  It’s a desperate measure, but he can’t see any alternative.

He begins his attempt by hacking into Atropos.net so he can use its computers as a gateway to the Fate Core.  Through a clever use of one of the early lines of the mweb, he is able to penetrate Atropos.net.  Once he’s in among Atropos’ servers, he finds a connection leading into the Fate Core and sends a probe in. That’s when Ravirn discovers that the Core has already been hacked by a huge and vicious virus.  It appears in web-space as a gigantic electronic dragon.  The dragon is swallowing the golden life threads that govern destiny, processing them, and excreting them as clear hollow strands.  Ravirn isn’t quite sure what the dragon is doing to the threads,  but he realizes that a virus so complex and dangerous could have only one author: Eris, goddess of discord.

This is a danger that goes beyond Ravirn’s feud with his great aunt.  Eris can’t be allowed to have her way with the Fate Core.  Unfortunately, he can’t let the Fates know what’s going on without also letting them know how he found out.  Ravirn is on his own.  So he codes a special purpose vaccine called Saint George.  But inserting it into the Fate Core trips a security alarm and one of Ravirn’s cousins, Laris, finds him.  Alone among Atropos’ family, Laris was once a friend of Ravirn’s.  Using that friendship, Ravirn convinces Laris to help him stop Eris’ virus-dragon.

The only way to ensure that Saint George has a real chance at destroying Eris’ dragon is for Ravirn and Laris to magically bond themselves with the program and guide its attack.  In the course of the battle, they and Saint George are swallowed by the dragon.  This gives them an opportunity to kill the beast, but Laris dies in the effort.  After the battle, Ravirn is leaning over Laris’ body and mourning when Hwyl, one of the original assassination team, comes in.  He immediately leaps to the wrong conclusion and tries to kill Ravirn.  But Ravirn fends him off and escapes back to Minnesota with a number of his murderous cousins in hot pursuit.  There he uses a spell to create a gigantic blizzard.  In the whiteout that follows, he is able to elude his pursuers, though he does sustain several significant injuries.

 

Outcast:

His respite is temporary.  Interfering with the Fate Core is a killing offense in the family of Fate.  Ravirn’s only hope for clemency is to convince his grandmother and Clotho that he followed Eris’ virus into the Fate Core and killed it to protect the life threads.  But even as this is occurring to him, Atropos is destroying the evidence that ties the virus to Eris.

Atropos has also discovered the virus’ aftereffects.  Eris’ program was a chaos pathogen designed to eradicate destiny.  Everything that was eaten by the code dragon had its destiny wiped, including Ravirn when he was swallowed whole.  This has turned him into a man with no Fate.

She is still trying to figure out what to do about this when the other two Fates arrive in response to alarms triggered by Ravirn’s fight with the virus.  When they check the Core they find the clear life threads, the shredded virus, and the evidence of Ravirn’s meddling.  Believing that Ravirn is responsible, they condemn him to die, but because of the erasure of his Fate profile, his life thread can’t be found.  Clotho and Lachesis assume that this was Ravirn’s goal in hacking the Fate Core and call in the Furies, the enforcement arm of the gods.

 

Touch and Go:

Ravirn is unaware of the depth of the trouble he’s in.  Again, it’s Cerice who warns him.  Using her connections with the familiar underground, she’s been keeping a close eye on things.  Clotho’s webtroll/webserver gives Cerice a report of what happened at the Fate Core, but only from the time Clotho arrived.  Cerice is confused and angered by the news about the dragon virus, because that’s not what Ravirn said he was going to do.  She’s terribly hurt that he would do such a thing without letting her know about it, but the evidence seems overwhelming.  Still, she loves him, and she warns him about the Furies.

In response, he unleashes his mweb scrambling spell again with the intent of crashing the system to cover his trail.  But after the last time he took down the mweb, the Fates programmed in new security measures.  Rather than shutting down the web, Ravirn ends up crashing Melchior.  A few moments later, the Furies arrive on the scene.  With his primary hacking tool and best friend out of commission, Ravirn is forced to flee on foot.  Fortunately, the blizzard is still raging and even the Furies have trouble tracking someone through a Minnesota whiteout.

When they catch up to him at a small gas station, Ravirn transforms the gasoline in the tanks back into a pack of the dinosaurs that make up a portion of its source material.  Casting a spell without the aid of a familiar is a messy procedure, and quite a bit of raw magic gets released, a bit of which partially reactivates Melchior.  The webgoblin is still too damaged to function magically, but he is capable of speech.  Seeing that it’s their only hope for survival, Melchior sends him back to Ahllan in Garbage Faerie.  It’s at this point that Ravirn realizes he’s been treating Melchior in the same way that the Fates treat everyone else, as a minion. He resolves to change his ways if he survives and gets Melchior back in working order.

Ravirn follows Melchior’s instructions and heads for the U of M and its art gallery.  He arrives only moments ahead of the Furies.  Snatching a bottle of vodka from a frat boy out front, he smashes it on the wall above the painting.  Opening the gate to Garbage Faerie, he summons a spark, lights the vodka, and dives through.  Flames destroy the painting.

He takes refuge with Ahllan while he races to repair Melchior.  Cerice arrives to have it out with him over the desecration of the Fate Core.  She’s furious for what she believes is his betrayal of the family of Fate and, more personally, of herself.  Ravirn tries to explain, but she doesn’t believe him.  Only after Ahllan steps in, arguing for Ravirn, does Cerice relent.  The question then becomes: what next?  They can’t use the information from the webtroll to clear Ravirn’s name without revealing the existence of the familiar underground.  And Ravirn still hasn’t found a way to stop Atropos from using the Puppeteer spell to destroy free will.

 

Endgame:

The Furies pose the most immediate threat and the only way to turn them aside is to offer an alternate target.  In order to demonstrate his innocence, Ravirn must find evidence that points to Eris as the author of the Fate virus.  So he decides to break into Castle Discord, just as soon as he gets Melchior back on-line.  He finishes his repairs to the familiar, apologizes for his previous behavior and sets the webgoblin free.  But they’ve been together for years and Melchior decides to come with Ravirn, as a friend instead of a servant. They open a link to Castle Discord and prepare to depart. They’re still on the threshold when the Furies arrive at Garbage Faerie.

Cerice knows the Furies have no cause to kill her and that Ravirn can’t hope to stand against them.  So, with the Furies bearing down, she sends Ravirn through the portal and closes it behind him.  He ends up in the basement of Eris’ fortress, where he begins to search for the evidence to clear his name.

In Castle Discord, Ravirn and Melchior are attempting to find the info needed to prove that Eris is the author of the virus when they are discovered by the goddess.  They fight, but the contest is unequal and she easily defeats them.  Ravirn is in her power, expecting to be killed, when he says something that intrigues Eris.  They begin to talk and discover that they’ve been working at cross purposes.  Eris was able to sense the shift in the forces which balance chaos against order when Atropos first tried her spell. This is why she hacked the Fate Core.  It was a desperate measure taken because she has been unable to complete a program to try to summon a copy of the Puppeteer spell so that she could create counter-measures.

Eris also explains how the balance works, and that the goddess Necessity is its guarantor, with the Furies as her handmaidens. She also tells Ravirn she doesn’t believe that Atropos could be doing what she is without the other Fates’ complicity.  This shakes Ravirn badly, because he realizes it must be true. Eris shows Ravirn her anti-Puppeteer spell, and he begins to debug the program.  He’s almost finished when the Furies arrive at the perimeter of the castle.  Eris gives Ravirn her spell and tells him to stop Atropos.  Then she turns to do hopeless battle with the Furies.

Returning to Garbage Faerie, Ravirn finds Ahllan’s home is destroyed and Cerice and the troll are gone.  At first he believes Cerice taken and the troll dead, but he soon discovers that Ahllan is alive and in hiding.  He joins her there and debugs the program, leaving a copy in Melchior’s memory.  Then he makes contact with the Fates.  They offer to release Cerice in exchange for his surrender and Eris’ spell.  Knowing it will mean his death, he accedes, but insists that the terms of the deal be witnessed by Necessity.  The Fates are still trying to decide exactly what to do with him when the Furies arrive carrying Eris.

The Fates put Ravirn and Cerice in a cell from which they can neither be seen nor heard. Ravirn watches as the Furies begin a process which can only end in a judgment against Eris for interfering with the balance.  All of the Fates are drooling over the possibility of destroying Eris as a power. During the process, Ravirn comes to realize this is all about breaking Eris as a power and that he has evidence that could free her.  Eris’ spell, which he fixed, can summon Puppeteer and prove that Eris was only responding to actions initiated by Atropos.  Catching his grandmother’s attention, he lets her know he can ruin things.  She offers him his freedom and protection from future reprisals for himself and all of his friends if he will hold his tongue.

This poses him a dilemma, full reinstatement in the house of Fate, or Eris, free will, and justice.  It’s a terrible choice, but he realizes he can’t betray his own beliefs and is about to turn his grandmother down, when a third possibility occurs to him.  He agrees to the deal, but then reminds Melchior that there is another copy of the spell stored in his memory.  At this point everything balances on the webgoblin.  Taking his free will firmly in his hands, Melchior casts the spell and summons Puppeteer.

The Furies destroy the spell and Eris walks away free.  This is the final straw for Ravirn’s grandmother.  Combined with his erased Fate line, and his championing of free will, he has crossed the line.  She names him an agent of chaos, disbars him from the house of Fate, and takes back his name.  Then she leaves.  Atropos goes next, but not before promising revenge.  Clotho pauses long enough to give Ravirn a new name, Raven, then follows Atropos, leaving him alone with Cerice and Melchior.  Ravirn, now Raven, turns to Cerice, a question in his eyes.  She’s his lover, but she is also a member of the house of Fate.  She seems uncertain for a moment, then smiles and takes him in her arms.