I spent most of my free time this week compiling a short bio for every neoliberal
flair personality. I hope it can serve as a quick reference guide to learn about the awesome efforts of the public servants and great thinkers that this sub respects, and to see what personalities your fellow Neoliberal Redditors gravitate to.
Unfortunately, post character limit is 40k, so I will have to break this into multiple posts linked here:
However, I am just one person and this project was a larger undertaking than I expected. I'm sure there are entries with errors, misrepresentations, or important missing details (despite my absolute best attempts to be as accurate as possible without bias). Please help me correct these; I am more than happy to keep this document up to date!
1961 – Present Born: India Resides: United States
· Indian American economist who is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Banerjee shared the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty". In 2014, he received the Bernhard-Harms-Prize from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
· Co-founder of Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Banerjee and his co-workers try to measure the effectiveness of actions (such as government programmes) in improving people's lives. For this, they use randomized controlled trials, similar to clinical trials in medical research. “We must arm ourselves with patience and wisdom and listen to the poor what they want. This is the best way to avoid the trap of ignorance, ideology and inertia on our side.”
Abiy Ahmed (Abiy Ahmed Ali)
1977 – Present Born: Ethiopia Resides: Ethiopia
· Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Abiy has launched a wide program of political and economic reforms, and worked to broker peace deals in Eritrea, South Sudan, and a transition agreement in the Republic of the Sudan. Abiy's government has presided over the release of thousands of political prisoners from Ethiopian jails and the rapid opening of the country's political landscape.
· 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending the 20-year post-war territorial stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
· Numerous Peace and Humanitarian awards from APCAfrica, UNESCO, African Union, African Artists Peace Initiative, and Ugandan ‘Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa’. In 2018, he was given a special "peace and reconciliation" award by the Ethiopian Church for his work in reconciliating rival factions within the church. “Love always wins. Killing others is a defeat, to those who tried to divide us, I want to tell you that you have not succeeded.”
1723 – 1790 Born: Scotland Died: Scotland
· Key economist and philosopher during the Scottish Enlightenment who earned the designations 'The Father of Economics' and ''The Father of Capitalism' for laying the foundations of classical free market economic theory.
· Notable famous works include books ‘The Wealth of Nations’ and “The Theory of Moral Sentiments’. ‘The Wealth of Nations’ was a precursor to the modern academic discipline of economics. In this and other works, he developed the concept of division of labor and expounded upon how rational self-interest and competition can lead to economic prosperity.
· Smith critically examined the moral thinking of his time, and suggested that conscience arises from dynamic and interactive social relationships through which people seek "mutual sympathy of sentiments." His ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’ aims explain the source of mankind's ability to form moral judgment, given that people begin life with no moral sentiments at all.
· Disagreement exists between classical and neoclassical economists about the central message of Smith's most influential work. Neoclassical economists emphasise Smith's “invisible hand”, a concept which describes the unintended social benefits of an individual's self-interested actions. Classical economists believe that Smith stated his program for promoting the "wealth of nations" in the first sentences, which attributes the growth of wealth and prosperity to the division of labor. “The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.”
1926 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Predecessor to Ben Bernake, serving as Chair of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1987 to 2006.
· Warning of a bubble in the U.S. housing market, Greenspan forecast the 2008 U.S. recession in 2007.
· Associate of Ayn Rand and proponent of Rand’s Objectivism, Greenspan called himself a ‘lifelong libertarian Republican” and was a proponent of the gold standard.
· Although Greenspan was initially a logical positivist, he was converted to Rand's philosophy of Objectivism by her associate Nathaniel Branden. He became one of the members of Rand's inner circle, the Ayn Rand Collective, who read Atlas Shrugged while it was being written.
· In his memoir, Greenspan criticizes President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the Republican-controlled Congress for abandoning the Republican Party's principles on spending and deficits. Greenspan's criticisms of President Bush include his refusal to veto spending bills, sending the country into increasingly deep deficits, and for "putting political imperatives ahead of sound economic policies". Greenspan writes, "They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose [the 2006 election]"
· He praised Bill Clinton above all the other presidents for whom he'd worked for his "consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth". “The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake.”
1933 – Present Born: India Resides: United States
· Awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998 and India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999 for welfare economics. Winner of Cambridge’s Adam Smith prize in 1954. Won Oxford University’s Bodley Medal for “outstanding contributions to the worlds of communications and literature” in 2019. Over 90 honorary degrees from universities around the world.
· Current Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. Has written over 30 books on economic theory and social sciences.
· In 2019, London School of Economics announced the creation of the Amartya Sen Chair in Inequality Studies. “The increasing tendency towards seeing people in terms of one dominant ‘identity’ (‘this is your duty as an American’, ‘you must commit these acts as a Muslim’, or ‘as a Chinese you should give priority to this national engagement’) is not only an imposition of an external and arbitrary priority, but also the denial of an important liberty of a person who can decide on their respective loyalties to different groups (to all of which he or she belongs).”
1973 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Professor of Economics at MIT
· Co-Director and research associate of the Public Economics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and the co-Scientific Director of J-PAL North America (a research center at MIT that encourages and facilitates randomized evaluations of important domestic policy issues).
· Winner of the 2012 John Bates Clark Medal for her contributions to economics. Awarded the MacArthur “Genius” fellowship in 2018 and elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
· Finkelstein’s expertise is in public finance and health economics. She conducts research into market failures and government intervention in insurance markets, and the impact of public policy on health care and health insurance. “We may need to do more health care plumbing rather than health care big theories.”
1969 – Present Born: United States Resides United States
· American economist and Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.
· Economic advisor for Obama's successful 2004 U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois, then Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under the Obama Administration 2010-2011.
· Named World Economic Forum’s ‘100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow’, topped The New Yorker's list of the Ten Most Intriguing Political Personalities of 2010, and for some reason, was one of Salon.com’s 15 Sexiest Men of 2010.
· Early supporter of Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary. “We were facing in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 epically horrible declines in GDP, every measure of the economy falling through the floor, completely on fire. Joe will tell you, in every Ph.D. program, students - in economics, students must take an economic history class and in every economic history class, the professor says, ‘There could never be another Great Depression because we’re smarter than we were then and we would never allow that to happen.’ We were put to the test to answer that question. … The fact that we are here to bitch about the economy and about this policy and that and the budget forecasts for GDP growth are 1 percent too low, I’m thrilled, I’m overjoyed that we aren’t all out of our jobs and we prevented the Great Depression. That in itself is an overwhelming accomplishment.”
1953 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· American economist at the Brookings Institution economic research group. Fellow of the Econometric Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Won the Distinguished Leadership in Government Award from Columbia Business School in 2008. 2009 TIME magazine Person of the Year.
· Chair of the Federal Reserve 2006-2014, overseeing the response to the late-2000s financial crisis, after serving as chairman of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Nominated by Bush and renominated by Obama. Predecessor to Janet Yellen, successor to Alan Greenspan.
· In his 2015 book ‘The Courage to Act’ he revealed that the world's economy came close to collapse in 2007/2008, and asserts that it was only the novel efforts of the Fed (cooperating with other agencies and agencies of foreign governments) that prevented an economic catastrophe greater than the Great Depression. “A meritocracy is a system in which the people who are the luckiest in their health and genetic endowment; luckiest in terms of family support, encouragement, and, probably, income; luckiest in their educational and career opportunities; and luckiest in so many other ways difficult to enumerate — these are the folks who reap the largest rewards. The only way for even a putative meritocracy to hope to pass ethical muster, to be considered fair, is if those who are the luckiest in all of those respects also have the greatest responsibility to work hard, to contribute to the betterment of the world, and to share their luck with others.”
1955 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Started working full-time at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006, a private charitable foundation with the goal of enhancing healthcare and reducing extreme poverty around the world, as well as, in the U.S., to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology
· Early adopter of the “Giving Pledge”, a commitment to donate at least half of his wealth (~$110B), over the course of time, to charity.
· Time magazine named Gates one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century, as well as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, 2005, and 2006. He (with Bono) was named Time’s
2005’s Persons of the Year for humanitarian efforts, and in 2006, he was voted eighth in the list of Time’s
“Heroes of Our Time”. Barack Obama honored Bill and Melinda Gates with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their philanthropic efforts in 2016. “Is the rich world aware of how 4 billion of the 6 billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved. … Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
1956 – Present Born: France Resides: Germany
· Head of the European Central Bank, the main institution responsible for the management of the euro and monetary policy in the Eurozone of the European Union. Previously served as Chair and Managing Director (MD) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), 2011-2019.
· France's Trade Minister, 2005-2007, Lagarde prioritized opening new markets for the country's products, focusing on the technology sector. In 2017, she was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the government of François Fillon, then joined Fillon's cabinet in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment to become the first woman in charge of economic policy in France.
· Forbes 2014 5th Most Powerful Woman in the World, Forbes 2019 2nd Most Powerful Woman in the World, and winner of the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished International Leadership Award. “I look under the skin of countries’ economies, and I help them make better decisions and be stronger, to prosper and create employment. … To me, leadership is about encouraging people. It’s about stimulating them. It’s about enabling them to achieve what they can achieve – and to do that with a purpose. … We have a collective responsibility-to bring about a more stable and more prosperous world, a world in which every person in every country can reach their full potential.”
1946 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Professor of Economics at Harvard University and director of the Development of the American Economy program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 1990, Goldin became the first tenured woman at Harvard's economics department.
· Economic awards from the American Economic Association (Carolyn Shaw Bell Award), Association of American Publishers (R.R . Hawkins Award), Omicron Delta Epsilon (John R. Commons Award), Institute of Labor Economics (IZA prize), and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers in Knowledge Award.
· Best known for published papers focused on women in the U.S. economy, economic history, labor economics, gender and economics, and the economics of work, family, and education. “In the first half of the [20th] century, education raced ahead of technology, but later in the century, technology raced ahead of educational gains. The skill bias of technology did not change much across the century, nor did its rate of change. Rather, the sharp rise in inequality was largely due to an educational slowdown.”
1967 – Present Born: Turkey Resides: United States
· Professor of Economics at MIT. He was named Institute Professor in 2019. Has a PhD from the London School of Economics and notable for many LSE lectures before joining MIT.
· Has authored hundreds of papers and five books. His 2012 co-authored book “Why Nations Fail”, on the role that institutions play in shaping nations' economic outcomes, prompted wide scholarly and media commentary. In 2015 he was named the most cited economist of the past 10 years per Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) data.
· Many economic awards including the John Bates Clark Medal (2005) by the American Economic Association, the John von Neumann Award (2007) by Rajk László College for Advanced Studies, the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics (2012) by Northwestern University, the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2016), the Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize, and the Toulouse School of Economics (2018) Global Economy Prize. “Social democracy, when practiced by competent governments, is a phenomenal success. Everywhere in the west is to some degree social democratic, but the extent of this varies. We owe our prosperity and freedom to social democracy. … [Social democracy] did not achieve these things by taxing and redistributing a lot. It achieved them by having labor institutions protecting workers, encouraging job creation, and encouraging high wages.”
1967 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Ford Professor of Economics at MIT. Co-director of the MIT School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative. A commentator on many fields in economics, his research generally focuses on topics from labor economics.
· His most cited article studies the effect of skill-biased technological change in the form of computerization on the diverging U.S. education wage differentials and finds evidence suggesting that computerization has increased skill-based wage premia in the U.S. by requiring rapid skill upgrading, which in turn has increased the labor demand for college graduates relative to workers without tertiary education as well as the wage premium associated with a college degree. (Quarterly Journal of Economics: “Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?” (1998).
· Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, “‘Depopulism:’ How the Inversion of the Rural-Urban Age Gradient Shapes the Diverging Economic and Political Geography of the U.S. and other Industrialized Countries” – Recognized by Bloomberg as ‘one of the 50 people who defined global business in 2017’ – Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow, Society of Labor Economists, Fellow, The Econometric Society. “There's always new work to do. Adjusting to the rapid pace of technological change creates real challenges, seen most clearly in our polarized labor market and the threat that it poses to economic mobility. Rising to this challenge is not automatic. It's not costless. It's not easy. But it is feasible.”
1772 – 1823 Born: England Died: England
· A Whig political party member, David Ricardo is one of the most influential of the classical economists along with Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith and James Mill. He got his start advocating for a reduction in the note-issuing of the Bank of England. Ricardo's most famous work is his ‘Principles of Political Economy and Taxation’ (1817) where he advanced a labor theory of value: “The value of a commodity, or the quantity of any other commodity for which it will exchange, depends on the relative quantity of labour which is necessary for its production, and not on the greater or less compensation which is paid for that labour.”
· An abolitionist, Ricardo said he regarded slavery as a stain on the character of the nation, once very publicly at a meeting of the Court of the East India Company in 1823. He most vocally advocated for the abolition of the death penalty for forgery, repeal of blasphemy laws, and adamantly supported the implementation of free trade.
· Ricardo was a close friend of James Mill. He was a member of Malthus' Political Economy Club, and a member of the King of Clubs. He was one of the original members of The Geological Society. “Under a system of perfectly free commerce, each country naturally devotes its capital and labour to such employments as are most beneficial to each. This pursuit of individual advantage is admirably connected with the universal good of the whole. By stimulating industry, by rewarding ingenuity, and by using most efficaciously the peculiar powers bestowed by nature, it distributes labour most effectively and most economically: while, by increasing the general mass of productions, it diffuses general benefit, and binds together, by one common tie of interest and intercourse, the universal society of nations throughout the civilized world.”
1942 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Former visiting Professor of philosophy at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Her main research includes the misuse of statistical significance in economics and the study of capitalism.
· After receiving degrees in Economics at Harvard University, her dissertation on British iron and steel won the 1973 David A. Wells Prize. She has received six honorary doctorates. In 2013, she received the Julian L. Simon Memorial Award from the Competitive Enterprise Institute for her work examining factors in history that led to advancement in human achievement and prosperity.
· A self-labeled “Christian libertarian”, McCloskey has described herself as a “literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive Episcopalian, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man.” McCloskey has advocated on behalf of LGBT organizations and the LGBT community. She was a vocal critic of the theory of “autogynephilia” as a motivation for sex reassignment, by the sexologist Ray Blanchard. “Nor during the Age of Innovation have the poor gotten poorer, as people are always saying. On the contrary, the poor have been the chief beneficiaries of modern capitalism. It is an irrefutable historical finding, obscured by the logical truth that the profits from innovation go in the first act mostly to the bourgeois rich.”
1977 – Present Born: Switzerland Resides: United States
· Assistant professor at the Harvard Business School. Follow at the Center for Global Development. Her research focuses on public economics in developing countries and includes collaborations with tax authorities and procurement agencies in several countries.
· Faculty research fellow at the NBER, an affiliate professor at BREAD, CEPR, and J-PAL and a member of the IGC and the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative.
· Has conducted numerous large-scale randomized field experiments about tax evasion by firms and about determinants and impacts of formal savings for low-income micro-entrepreneurs. “My sense is that there's a lot of confusion about the relation between climate change and the economy. A key reason why climate change is so dangerous is that it creates a big threat to our economies. It's not climate policy or prosperity. It's climate policy for prosperity.”
1967 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Professor of Economics at Harvard University. Previously served as the Director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston (both at the Kennedy School of Government). He is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor of City Journal. He was also an editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics.
· His work examining the historical evolution of economic hubs like Boston and New York City has had major influence on both economics and urban geography. Glaeser has written on a variety of topics, ranging from social economics to the economics of religion, from both contemporary and historical perspectives. He has published at a rate of almost five articles per year since 1992 in leading peer-reviewed academic economics journals, in addition to many books, other articles, blogs, and op-eds.
· Hlaser has many contributions to urban economics and economic theory. For example, his work with David Cutler of Harvard identified harmful effects of segregation on black youth; he challenged 1960s urban land use theory, showing pro-poor central cities' policies encouraged more poor people to live in central cities; and he has argued that human capital explains much of the variation in urban and metropolitan level prosperity. “The fact that there is urban poverty is not something cities should be ashamed of. Because cities don't make people poor. Cities attract poor people. They attract poor people because they deliver things that people need most of all—economic opportunity.”
1933 – 2012 Born: United States Died: United States
· American political economist focused on the study of production and trade and their relations with law, custom and government. Her work was associated with New Institutional Economics (a focus on including economic aspects excluded in neoclassical economics).
· In 2009, she was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for her “analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”, which she shared with Oliver E. Williamson. To date, she remains the first of only two women to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, the other being Esther Duflo. (Who, by alphabetical coincidence, is the next entry!)
· Ostrom conducted her field studies on the management of pasture by locals in Africa and irrigation systems management in villages of western Nepal. Her work has considered how societies have developed diverse institutional arrangements for managing natural resources and avoiding ecosystem collapse in many cases, even though some arrangements have failed to prevent resource exhaustion. Her work emphasized the multifaceted nature of human–ecosystem interaction and argues against any singular “panacea” for individual social-ecological system problems. “Until a theoretical explanation, based on human choice, for self-organized and self-governed enterprises is fully developed and accepted, major policy decisions will continue to be undertaken with a presumption that individuals cannot organize themselves and always need to be organized by external authorities. … Unfortunately, many analysts – in academia, special-interest groups, governments, and the press – still presume that common-pool problems are all dilemmas in which the participants themselves cannot avoid producing suboptimal results, and in some cases disastrous results.”
1973 – Present Born: France Resides: United States
· Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT. Co-founder and co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab which was established in 2003. Duflo is a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) research associate, a board member of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), and director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research's development economics program.
· Duflo’s research focuses on microeconomic issues in developing countries, including household behavior, education, and access to finance, health, and policy evaluation. She has been a driving force in advancing field experiments as an important methodology to discover causal relationships in economics.
· Duflo was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019 along with her two co-researchers Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. Duflo is the youngest person (at age 46) and the second woman to win this award (after Elinor Ostrom in 2009). “Awareness of our problems thus does not necessarily mean that they get solved. It may just mean that we are able to perfectly anticipate where we will fall.”
1939 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and American economist, best known for his empirical work on portfolio theory, asset pricing, and the efficient-market hypothesis.
· Fama is most often thought of as the father of the efficient-market hypothesis, beginning with his Ph.D. thesis. In 1965 he published an analysis of the behavior of stock market prices that showed that they exhibited so-called fat tail distribution properties, implying extreme movements were more common than predicted on the assumption of normality.
· Fama cast doubt on the validity of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), which posits that a stock's beta alone should explain its average return. Fama’s papers describe two factors above and beyond a stock's market beta which can explain differences in stock returns: market capitalization and “value”. They also offer evidence that a variety of patterns in average returns, often labeled as “anomalies” in past work, can be explained with his Fama–French three-factor model. “I’d compare stock pickers to astrologers but I don’t want to bad mouth astrologers.” “In an efficient market at any point in time the actual price of a security will be a good estimate of its intrinsic value.”
Friedrich Hayek (Friedrich August von Hayek a.k.a. F. A. Hayek)
1899 – 1992 Born: Hungary Died: Germany
· Austrian-British economist and philosopher best known for his defense of classical liberalism. He served in World War I during his teenage years and said that this experience in the war and his desire to help avoid the mistakes that had led to the war drew him into economics. He studied economics, eventually receiving his doctoral degrees in law (1921) and in political science (1923) at the University of Vienna.
· Hayek shared the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Gunnar Myrdal for his “pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations and … penetrating analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena”. His account of how changing prices communicate information that helps individuals co-ordinate their plans is widely regarded as an important achievement in economics, leading to his Nobel Prize.
· President Ronald Reagan listed Hayek as among the two or three people who most influenced his philosophy and welcomed Hayek to the White House as a special guest. Milton Friedman of the Hoover Institution, Andrzej Walicki of Notre Dame, U.S. Representative Dick Armey, and former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, have claimed that the writings of Hayek were a major influence on many of the leaders of the “velvet” revolution in Central Europe during the collapse of the old Soviet Empire. “From the fact that people are very different, it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.”
1930 – Present Born: Hungary Resides: United States
· Soros is known as “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” because of his short sale of US$10 billion worth of pounds sterling, which made him a profit of $1 billion during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis. Based on his early studies of philosophy, Soros formulated an application of Karl Popper's General Theory of Reflexivity to capital markets, which he claims renders a clear picture of asset bubbles and fundamental/market value of securities, as well as value discrepancies used for shorting and swapping stocks.
· Soros's Quantum Fund is thought to have greatly influenced the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
· Soros is a well-known supporter of progressive and liberal political causes, to which he dispenses donations through his foundation, the Open Society Foundations. Between 1979 and 2011, he donated more than $11 billion to various philanthropic causes; by 2017, his donations “on civil initiatives to reduce poverty and increase transparency, and on scholarships and universities around the world” totaled $12 billion.
· Soros, of Jewish decent, survived Nazi Germany-occupied Hungary and emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1947. Antiemetic conspiracy theories painting Soros as a “puppet master” behind a variety of alleged global plots “moved from the fringes to the mainstream” of Republican politics, The New York Times reported in 2018. “The main difference between me and other people who have amassed this kind of money is that I am primarily interested in ideas, and I don't have much personal use for money. But I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn't made money: My ideas would not have gotten much play.” “First, there is no single sustainable model for national success. Second, the American model, which has indeed been successful, is not available to others, because our success depends greatly on our dominant position at the center of the global capitalist system, and we are not willing to yield it.”
Greg Mankiw (Nicholas Gregory Mankiw)
1958 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Professor of Economics at Harvard University. American macroeconomist best known in academia for his work on New Keynesian economics.
· Mankiw is a conservative and has been an economic adviser to several Republican politicians. From 2003 to 2005, Mankiw was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. In 2006, he became an economic adviser to Mitt Romney, and worked with Romney during his presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
· Omicron Delta Epsilon, the international honor society for economics, awarded Mankiw the biennial John R. Commons Award in 2019. He won the Council for Economic Education’s Visionary Award in 2017. As of April 2016, the RePEc overall ranking based on academic publications, citations, and related metrics put him as the 23rd most influential economist in the world, out of nearly 50,000 registered authors. “Which brings us to a third group of macroeconomists: those who fall into neither the pro- nor the anti-Keynes camp. I count myself among the ambivalent. We credit both sides with making legitimate points, yet we watch with incredulity as the combatants take their enthusiasm or detestation too far. Keynes was a creative thinker and keen observer of economic events, but he left us with more hard questions than compelling answers.”
1839 – 1897 Born: United States Died: United States
· American political economist and journalist who promoted “single tax” on land. He inspired the economic philosophy known as Georgism (also called Geoism), an economic ideology holding that while people should own the value they produce themselves, economic value derived from land should belong equally to all members of society.
· His most famous work, “Progress and Poverty” (1879), sold millions of copies worldwide, probably more than any other American book before that time. It investigates the paradox of increasing inequality and poverty amid economic and technological progress, the cyclic nature of industrialized economies, and the use of rent capture such as land value tax and other anti-monopoly reforms as a remedy for these and other social problems.
· George is best known for his argument that the economic rent of land (location) should be shared by society. He considered businesses relying on exclusive right-of-way land privilege to be “natural” monopolies. George was opposed to or suspicious of all intellectual property privilege, because his classical definition of “land” included “all natural forces and opportunities.” Therefore, George proposed to abolish or greatly limit intellectual property privilege. In George's view, owning a monopoly over specific arrangements and interactions of materials, governed by the forces of nature, allowed title-holders to extract royalty-rents from producers, in a way similar to owners of ordinary land titles. George was opposed to tariffs and one of the earliest and most prominent advocates for adoption of the secret ballot in the United States. “It is true that wealth has been greatly increased, and that the average of comfort, leisure, and refinement has been raised; but these gains are not general. In them the lowest class do not share. I do not mean that the condition of the lowest class has nowhere nor in anything been improved; but that there is nowhere any improvement which can be credited to increased productive power. I mean that the tendency of what we call material progress is in nowise to improve the condition of the lowest class in the essentials of healthy, happy human life.”
1724 – 1804 Born: German Preussen (Prussia) Died: German Preussen (Prussia)
· Influential Prussian—German philosopher during the Age of Enlightenment, who argued in his doctrine of transcendental idealism that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; “things-in-themselves” exist, but their nature is unknowable. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.
· Kant regarded himself as showing the way past the impasse between rationalists (regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge) and empiricists (states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience), and is widely held to have synthesized both traditions in his thought.
· Kant published other important works on ethics, religion, law, aesthetics, astronomy, and history. These include the Universal Natural History (1755), the Critique of Practical Reason (1788), the Metaphysics of Morals (1797), and the Critique of Judgment (1790), which looks at aesthetics and teleology (a reason or explanation for something as a function of its end, purpose, or goal). “Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.” “All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.”
Part 1 Part 22 Transcribed from the journal of Maeghan Ahearn, 2018 (continued from undated entry)
“RUN!” Aunt Betty hollered as chunks of the ceiling of the altar room began to fall, and together we darted up the stairwell as the room collapsed beneath us, taking the lower stairs with it. We ran through to the upper cavern and were sent to the ground from the impact of the entire stairwell collapsing on itself. Overhead the deafening rumble would not stop.
It took some time for all the dust to settle, and for everything to turn quiet. My arms had been shielding Aunt Betty’s head, but she carefully removed them and sat up. Sandy helped her up while Ankah came to me, making sure I didn’t have any new injuries. I assured him I was all right, and another Elf came into the room babbling excitedly in Helveset, catching everyone else’s attention.
“What is he saying?” I asked, unable to understand him. Ousald was shaking his head, mystified, as he told me, “He keeps talking about the sky…”
But Aunt Betty’s eyes were brimming with fresh tears. “He’s saying the sky has returned.”
Together, we all ran up the steps out of the cavern, in as orderly a fashion as we could manage. We went up, up, until we had reached the exit of the Senithiel
, and from there we all ran out to the Haber
, the confluence of the rivers.
It was still dark outside. I looked around, and everything appeared to be the same as the last time I’d seen it. Nonplussed, I turned to Ankah – but he was pointing eagerly overhead. I looked up and saw more darkness. What was everyone so excited about? I almost gave up, but kept looking…
I finally saw it: a star. A single star glimmering in the sky. No stars had been visible under the Abyss, but here the little guy was, shining brightly. I wondered why where was only one star – were there a lot of clouds?
Then, in the distance, we saw the first rosy fingertips of dawn, rising slowly over the lake. People began screaming and shouting for joy, passionate Helveset cries, as they embraced one another wildly. Mere minutes passed before we saw crowds of people empty out of the Barnriel
and run down the hills from the Luchair
to see the rising sun. People fell on their knees in gratitude, yawping exultations as the orange-pink sphere ascended, casting ruby and amethyst halos on nearby clouds.
I fell to my own knees on the bank of the lake, the formerly inky water turning crystalline blue. Soon I could see my own reflection in the water: bruised, bloody, burnt, bedraggled… but alive.
We’d done it. We saved Helvesah.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Ankah asked me in a low voice as he knelt beside me, looking around in almost childlike wonder at our brightening surroundings. But I couldn’t take my eyes off him: his high, wide cheekbones, the defined edge of his jaw leading to his chin, the cute little point of his nose that I wanted to poke, the messy mop of brown curls sitting atop his head. And most of all his wide, bright eyes that I didn’t want to stop looking into.
We were dirty – very dirty, actually quite disgusting – but still I eased a hand around to the side of his face and directed him to look at me. “Maeg?” he asked.
“I’m so glad I’m here with you. In a new beginning,” I told him with all my heart, and kissed him in the light of the sun.
It wasn’t long before everyone went to work where they were needed. Everyone who had come out of the Senithiel
, as well as filtering in from the outskirts of the city, was someone who had been cursed. Even in their elation, they needed medical attention. Those with able-bodies went to work setting up tents where the injured and sick could be treated. There were some people too weak to leave the buildings of the Haber
with their brethren, who had to be retrieved – and despite my own wounds, I helped with these efforts.
One Elf woman, who looked to be my age, lay next to Finoniel’s giant corpse, which was starting to give off a pungent stench. She turned her head slightly when she heard my footsteps, and held my hand firmly when I moved to help her up. So I stayed with her for a minute or so, cradling her in my lap, until her last breath rattled from her body and she went still.
But the time the seventh person died in my arms, I wanted to resurrect Gwynvor just to rip him apart again.
Eventually I was persuaded to stay in the tent to be monitored properly – probably because my legs began to shake – so I was stripped down and helped to a cot. A healing master saw to me. I think he was a mage as well, because at times I felt a warming aura from his palms. He made remarks in Helveset that were light in tone, but since I didn’t understand I simply smiled and nodded. After some time, he moved on to a new patient as I was left with my simple sheets that were enough to shield my body from the breeze blowing through the capital. It was such a beautiful day, the breeze enough to lull me to sleep. I was so exhausted. Before I could succumb to slumber, though, I turned my head to the right to see who was in the cot next to me.
“Pedroc?” I asked as I saw the blond-haired soldier. His eyes were closed, but he was awake, and he smiled when I spoke.
“How do you feel?” he asked me – in perfect Avaernyet.
“I feel better than I have in weeks – but I thought you didn’t speak…? When we met you, your Avaernyet was terrible!”
At that, Pedroc let out a low laugh. “That was on purpose. I like to pretend I cannot speak the language around those who do, so I can listen and hear what they have to say when they don’t believe anyone can hear them.”
That… made perfect sense. “Smart move.”
“I thought so,” was his humorously smug reply. Before he dozed off himself, though, he asked me, “Who ended the curse and lifted the Abyss?”
“Well, Ousald and my aunt, Betty, killed Faeriad
Sawyl Mosian,” I told him. “That ended the curse –”
“Sawyl Mosian?” he asked, his eyes flashing open. “He was responsible for the curse?”
“Yes,” I told the disbelieving soldier. “I’m sorry.”
Pedroc muttered something in Helveset that I guessed meant “holy shit.” The occasion certainly would have warranted it. Then he turned back to me: “And who lifted the Abyss?”
I sighed. “Elowan.”
He sighed, too. “Of course he would. Thank you for telling me.”
“Thank you for helping me kill Gwynvor,” I told him with a smile. “Don’t worry, I won’t say anything.”
“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t mind.” With that, he closed his eyes once more and finally slept. I did, too, as the balmy breeze blew over me.
I woke at sunset, groggy, to the sounds of screams. I tried to sit upright but my wounds and sore muscles wouldn’t let me. “What’s happening?” I asked, frantic.
“It’s just the children,” Pedroc said morosely, woken by the same sounds. “They’re afraid the sun won’t return. Don’t worry, they’ll be cared for.”
I hope Gwynvor’s punishment in the afterlife is to be torn apart for eternity.
The group of us became exalted guests in the Luchair
as Galae worked to right itself in the following days. Despite our eagerness to help, we were cautioned against strenuous activity – the healing masters and mistresses wouldn’t even let me journal, afraid I would aggravate my already strained wound in my right shoulder. So we were largely left to our own devices. This gave me ample time to talk to Aunt Betty about her history.
“So… we’re still related, right?” I asked her.
“Oh, yeah! Helen Pearce McFarland, my mommy, was still your great-grandma. But Great-Grandpa Joe was not my biological father. He did father all my older siblings, including Margaret, your grandma. I’m just the bastard baby.”
“Grandma doesn’t have very many nice things to say about him,” I conceded, though I’d never met him to verify for myself (he died when my mom was a kid).
“Well, he wasn’t a very nice man. Could be quite brutal, too – no one likes reminiscing on that bit. And being a bastard he was forced to acknowledge in order to save face, I bore the brunt of his aggression.” She laughed to herself without humor. “As I got older, I turned provoking him into a game. Every bruise was a trophy he gave
me, while I took from him his strength and will to keep fighting every time I refused to ‘stay in my place.’”
“Jesus. Aunt Betty… how did he know you weren’t really his kid?”
Her face became a stoic mask, and she smoothed her hair behind her ear. “That was obvious the day I was born, Magpie.”
I looked, prepared to see the pointed ear of an elf – but that wouldn’t have made sense. It was true that Aunt Betty had always worn her hair down, but I’d definitely seen her ears a couple times, and they were… well, human. But I leaned closer, and in the light of the Memory Torch I saw that the outer “shell” of her ear wasn’t really a “shell” at all. It didn’t curl like a normal ear – the skin just ended, and turned patchy at the edge.
“Good thing I was born at home, with a midwife,” she muttered. “I don’t think hospital staff would’ve been quiet about what they’d seen – or the fact that Joe took a knife to the irregularity as soon as he could, and cauterized the wounds with his cigarette.”
I couldn’t believe it. My great-grandfather had cut off the pointed pinna of Aunt Betty’s ears when she was a newborn.
“When Ritherch Panosian was still a fledgling senithow
in 1344 – 1949, on our calendar – he heard the Second Great War in the Bidarath
had fully ended, and decided to party and sow some oats in the recently liberated world. Found himself in Chicago, in this out-of-the-way bar down on Blue Island Avenue, and he saw my mom, Helen. She’d gone to a bar because she couldn’t deal with Joe anymore that night. She was older than him, and sadder. Maybe he saw her as a challenge? Told her he was from Wales! They certainly didn’t have much in common, but they spent a week
together in some snazzy hotel downtown, I want to say the Palmer House. A week
, away from her kids and with Joe going crazy over her being gone because he could barely look after himself! Eventually, though, the fantasy ended and they had to return to their lives. Joe was overjoyed Mom came home, and to hear my brothers and sisters say it home life became almost saccharinely happy. That is… until I was born, and Joe realized I wasn’t his.” Aunt Betty sighed, then gave another small laugh. “Mom had dementia toward the end. I wonder if she ever told people in the nursing home anything about how she screwed an Elf for a week right before turning forty! Ha! Wonder how they would’ve taken that!”
I laughed, perversely, before asking, “Did you get to meet your real father?”
“When I was in my twenties,” she nodded. “That’s when I first met him. I’d been to Elvesiel
before then, even as a child –”
“Wait, what?” I interrupted, beyond confused. “How did you get here when you were a kid? Did you… somehow find a Key?”
At that, she started laughing. “The very first time… I actually walked through someone else’s
Portal to our world, by accident, to everyone’s confusion. That’s a story in and of itself. But until I was an adult, every time I came here was because someone from Volkae retrieved me.”
“Was this at that school?” I asked her, remembering stories of Aunt Betty having been sent in her youth to a school for “troubled” children. I’d grown up wondering if my “crazy” aunt had truly been mentally ill and not just “bohemian.”
“Magpie, I hate to break it to you, but that was no ‘school,’” she said solemnly. “I was sent to an asylum.”
“An ASYLUM?!” My reply was louder than I’d intended, but I couldn’t help it. Looking around to make sure we weren’t overheard, I continued in a lower tone, “Why the heck were you sent to an asylum as a child?
“Because of what I could do,” Aunt Betty replied matter-of-factly. “My magical abilities had created… problems, at home. Inexplicable things happened, whenever I was upset – which was often, because Joe was a fucking asshole to all of us, but especially me. I was sent to an asylum, which I think had knowledge of Volkae, honestly, because they did all kinds of experiments on me.” She paused before adding, “I don’t even remember a lot of them. Just the marks they’d leave, which usually went away.”
“Where the hell is this place?”
“Oh, don’t you worry about that, Magpie,” she told me with a nonchalant wave of her hand. “I blew it up decades ago.”
I blinked several times before following her down the hallway. “Aunt Betty… may I ask, how exactly did
Great-Grandpa Joe die?”
Her voice was so deadpan that I laughed. “No, really, how did he die?”
“No, really. A chainsaw accident in the late 70s. Maybe 1980. It was pretty gruesome.”
“Jesus…” I trailed off, unable to stop myself from imagining a senior citizen losing control of such a powerful piece of machinery. “But it was definitely an accident?”
“Well the neighbors said he had a visit from someone before it happened,” she replied with a twinkle in her eyes. “But police could never find him. All anybody knew was that he was… Welsh.” Then she turned to me and winked. “Why do you think I love the Evil Dead
movies so much?”
Fifteen days from when the Abyss was lifted, I heard a familiar voice shouting in Helveset on the first floor of the Luchair
. I couldn’t understand the words, but she came barreling up the steps and went straight for Liani Arsithian’s room, unhindered. I poked my head out my doorway and saw a woman of about four-foot-ten knocking on her sister’s door.
“WENNA!” I exclaimed. I don’t think I’ve ever been gladder to see her in my life – I’d guessed she was back in L.A., and came to Galae as soon as she’d learned the Abyss had been lifted and the curse ended. When she saw me, her jaw dropped in excited surprise and she waved me over, so I went and hugged her tight just as Liani opened her door.
The sisters, upon seeing one another, burst into tears and embraced like they never wanted to let go. However, Wenna eventually reached inside her cloak and took out –
“Grapes!” I exclaimed as she let Liani take the first few off the big fat bushel. The Arlowthen
bit into one and looked like she died and went to heaven. Which made sense, as it had been years since the Elves here had eaten anything beyond cured meats and grains. Then Wenna gave me some, and I couldn’t remember the last time I had tasted something so sweet and… pure. It was the beauty of life, and I thanked her profusely. Liani’s children came to her, and she gave grapes to each of her daughters and placed a single large one in the tiny hands of her son. Little Brannoc took a small, suspicious bite, but then his eyes widened and he did a happy toddler dance.
“Who…?” Wenna asked, but her question trailed off. That was when we all went inside, where Liani introduced Wenna to her two-year-old nephew. Wenna burst into tears as she embraced the little boy, and her nieces.
But then she asked where Elowan was. And we told her. And she wept anew.
The time came for us to return to Ysen. Wenna had a Key with her that she’d used to hop over to Galae from Taltosag, where she’d bought the grapes, so that was how we were going to “hop.” I hugged Aunt Betty, not wanting to let go – even though it was awkward, with the harpoon slung over my back.
“So you’re in charge, now?” I remarked.
“Of the Caesiriel?
For all intents and purposes, yeah!” She was the first to ease out of the embrace. “We’re still organizing everybody, though. Getting our people from the corners of the known world. Beyond, if necessary. But Liani Arsithian is looking after the country right now.”
We had returned her husband’s staff to her, but kept tight-lipped about the manner of his demise, simply telling her that he had died bravely. “Make sure elections are held as soon as possible,” I told my aunt. “The Elves need to… return to normalcy. Please make sure the power doesn’t get to her head.”
“In her case I honestly doubt it,” she admitted, “but of course I’ll stay vigilant nonetheless. And don’t you be a stranger, either!”
I smiled. “I won’t.”
“You know, my sister never liked ‘hopping,’” Aunt Betty remarked about our method of travel. “Tesani thought it ‘maligned the integrity’ of the Keys and their use between worlds.” She shrugged. “But I don’t really care, honestly.”
“No way are we trekking through all that way back to Ysen!” Wenna said adamantly, brandishing her Key – a diminutive notebook with an ornate engraved cover. “The people want to welcome their heroes home!”
With that, I joined her in a line with Ankah, Ousald, and Sandy. She took her index finger and gently ran it along the spine of the notebook, and it hovered in the air and popped open to a blank page. I watched, in awe, as a pale blue whorl manifested in front of us, like staring at a galaxy. Blinking so that I wouldn’t be hypnotized by the slow swirls, I turned to look at Wenna, who had taken out a small stylus and was jotting something down onto the page – and I tried to see what she had written, but as soon as she was done, the letters faded away, and the Portal shimmered as if renewed with energy. She gestured for everyone to go ahead of her. And with one last look back at Aunt Betty, and trepidation filling my steps, I went through…
… Into Ankah’s family’s house.
Wenna had taken us into their sitting area. I immediately recognized the circular table with the serpentine legs, the armless chaises, and the fleece stools. As the Portal closed behind us, and Ousald and Sandy looked around in utter confusion, I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Byserah!” I called out, switching to Avaernyet with some relief. “Byserah, we’re home!”
For two seconds there was silence – and then the heavy footfalls of running through the house. It hadn’t sounded like Ankah’s mother, and I was right: it was his little brother, Veselyon. He gasped at the sight of us and ran to his brother, hugging him tightly and pleading with him not to leave. The rest of the family – even Ankah’s unobtrusive father, Daran – wasn’t far behind.
They insisted we stay and eat with them, talk, etc., but we had to head to the Palace to formally end our mission. Nadelyah had playfully put her hands on her hips and said, “Well, it’s not like they don’t see the Abyss is gone!” But eventually everyone relented, and Ankah and I promised to return soon.
“I won’t be going with you,” Wenna told us as we headed out. “I have my own business to take care of, so this is farewell for now.”
I knew why she was steering clear of the Palace, though. The others bid her farewell, but I walked up to her as she turned away, my boots clicking on the cobblestone, and spoke in English so we couldn’t be overheard. “Thank you for putting her out of her misery.”
Wenna tried to play dumb. “I don’t know what –”
“Come on,” I said. “She was languishing in a jail cell. The curse had completely ravaged her body. And you disappeared right after. It took a brave person to do what you did.”
Wenna sighed through her nose. “Don’t get me wrong, I like your aunt and all, and I’m more of a chenow
than even she is. But Tesani taught me everything I know. I couldn’t leave her like that… Thank you for understanding.”
Our return to the Palace did not go as I imagined.
Oh, we strode through the Throne Room triumphantly, Ousald declaring, “The Dragon Corps has returned! Bruised, but victorious!” King Korinald was ecstatic to see us survivors, though he did not look forward to informing the loved ones of those who had died. We’d already agreed among ourselves to keep what had happened on the Other Side secret, for fear of encouraging the exploration of “adventurers” (and also, how could we earnestly tell Timon Igonkaar’s family that he was now a goat?), so in our debriefing we said that Timon and Ilaryon Hyongurr had perished in the same battle with the cursed.
A feast was planned for the following month, but for now…
“We can go up to the Sieffran River,” King Korinald said as he looked at a map of Volkae with his advisors. “Taltosag will give us problems with Ols and Mivs, but they will have little ground to stand on since they sent no aid. Ysen and Dardanah are becoming overcrowded, and I’m sure many of the Elves would love to return to their homeland. We’ll develop the region again –”
“I’m not hearing this!” I blurted out before I could check myself. Sandy looked up at me, and I tried not to be unnerved by his scarring as he made the motion of his hand swinging side-to-side perpendicular to his throat, in the universal gesture of shut the fuck up!
“Beg pardon?” the king asked, leaning up from the map.
“This is not a land grab, Your Majesty,” I continued, standing firm (if stupid). “We cannot have gone over there, risking life and limb to free those people, just to seize territory from them! Please tell me I’m misunderstanding!”
I knew I was being impudent, so I expected a thorough set-down from the notoriously savage king. But I wasn’t sorry. Bracing myself, I heard his response through the blood pounding in my ears, “Whole villages are abandoned. Their fields are not sown. The Elves are scattered. Do you really think they have the ability to manage all the land they possessed? Of course you do not – that would be silly. That is why we are helping them.”
This wasn’t help – this was conquering. This was shit my home country pulled. But I bit my tongue for the rest of the meeting as the king and his son, Prince Perinald, strategized. When we were dismissed, the prince approached Ankah and me: “May I speak with you for a moment?” Not wishing to disobey him, we followed him to his plush chambers, where his pregnant princess was waiting.
Surprisingly, the first words out of her mouth were, “Well your
hair certainly grew fast!” Realizing she meant me, I merely twirled a section of my hair around my finger nervously and shrugged. After all, we were keeping quiet about the Other Side.
Prince Perinald went straight to business: “Ankah, how exactly did you foresee the Abyss would be lifted?”
Ankah relayed the visions he’d had culminating in Elowan fulfilling them. There was a catch in his voice as he recalled one of his best friends, who was no longer with us, and I rubbed the space between his shoulder blades for encouragement.
“But you never saw how it started?” Prince Perinald asked, his features and voice handsome but effete in such a way that they unnerved me. I couldn’t place what exactly I found… wrong… with his questions, but there was something in his eyes.
“No,” Ankah replied. “Only that first vision of the dragon – Finoniel. And the hand taking the stone, which I now know was Arkaery Gwynvor’s hand. But never before then.”
The prince nodded, and extended his own hand. “Thank you for telling me. I am sorry you have been disturbed with these visions.”
Ankah took his hand in a firm shake and began to speak, but he was cut off. All sound died in his throat, and his eyes widened. “Ankah?” I asked, but he didn’t answer. Instead he stared ahead, unblinking, the most frightened expression he had ever worn before adorning his face.
Prince Perinald abruptly let go with his own shaken expression, and Ankah shook himself back to awareness. I wanted to ask him what happened, instinctively knowing he had experienced a vision of some kind. But I looked back and forth between him, and the prince, and somehow… I knew.
So I turned to the prince instead and asked, “How often was the Arkaery of Helvesah a guest in the Palace, Your Highness?”
Ankah grew apprehensive. “No please, Maeg, don’t –”
I held up a hand to stay him. “How often?”
Prince Perinald took a deep breath, and released it. “Quite often he was a guest here.”
“And what did you talk about, Your Highness?” I pressed on. “The Annow’s influence on the Avaernyem, perhaps? Afraid the monarchy would not remain intact? Or maybe you spoke of the myths of his people?”
“Miss Ahearn, what are you talking about?” Princess Anasyah interrupted, looking apprehensive for the first time since I’d met her, though the smile was still on her face.
“His Highness knows,” I said, trying to keep my fury from rising. “I don’t know why, but something told me Gwynvor didn’t come up with his master plan all by himself. He was possibly the most powerful and respected figure in his country. An outsider first convinced him he deserved more.”
Ankah put his face in his hands. “Maeg, you need to stop –”
“Did you tell him where he should look for the well?” I asked, before Princess Anasyah exclaimed, “STOP TALKING!” Then she turned to her husband and pleaded, still with that insipid smile on her face, “My love, tell this woman she is crazy!”
But he didn’t. Because I was right. I have never wanted to be more wrong in my life, but I was right.
And that insipid smile finally fell. For a moment, the princess’ face was a cold mask, but then I could see her biting the inside of her lip in an effort to keep her composure.
Prince Perinald looked like he didn’t have any time for this. “Do you know how long this kingdom has been the laughingstock of Volkae? Those lands used to be ours, and now we have them back! This is a new age of Avaernyet prosperity!”
“But… those people…” Princes Anasyah muttered, her lower lip quivering. “For three years they were kept in absolute terror
. The elderly – children –” She fought a sob and then screamed, “ALL THOSE PEOPLE –!”
” the prince exclaimed as his hand flew in a gesture… I can’t be certain he didn’t mean to hit the princess after all. But he had an audience. For her part, she remained resolute, and looked him up and down before turning from him in disgust. She asked Ankah one question before leaving: “Was the king involved?”
“No, Your Highness,” Ankah replied, and she nodded to him and left. We left the prince’s presence soon after, and the rest of today – 21 Iyunah – has passed in a fog. Sleep is what I need. 23 Iyunah, 1413
Yesterday was an absolute madhouse, and I have to write everything down before I go to sleep and the details blur. Thank Lotan no one here reads English.
Ousald, Sandy, Ankah, and I were invited for breakfast with the royal family – which was easy for us to attend, since we were all staying at the Palace at the time. Everything proceeded normally at first – well, as “normally” as possible while Ankah and I knew the prince was complicit in the Cataclysm in Helvesah. We started with myatah oguret
, a kind of cucumber-mint soup that has a dollop of thick yogurt in the middle. It would have been completely refreshing, had my stomach not been in knots. As I tore a small portion off my hunk of bread I looked across the table at Princess Anasyah, who had that bright and cheery smile again, I didn’t know how she did it. I’m nowhere near that good an actress.
The princess turned to ask her husband a question. I have no idea what the question was, since I was hardly paying attention, and she was cut off in the middle of it anyway by the fact that he was choking. I dropped my spoon as Prince Perinald’s face turned first red, then purple, and the princess began to scream. Guards came rushing up, but I’d learned the Heimlich Maneuver in high school and reached the prince first. I may have hated him, but I can’t just watch someone choke.
After two abdominal presses (or whatever they’re called), nothing changed, and I was shoved out of the way by the Palace Guards, who frantically beat his back. King Korinald looked stricken, and Princess Anasyah couldn’t stop screaming as the prince collapsed and died right in front of us.
We had just witnessed a royal death. Ankah placed his hand on my back in a comforting gesture, while one of the guards opened his mouth to peer inside. His words were shaken when he told us, “There is nothing in here.”
“He must have been poisoned!” another guard panicked, and our food was hurriedly taken away. Ankah and Ousald went off to help test the food, Sandy assembled Ysen guardsmen to alert the city that the prince was dead, and help it transition to a city of mourning (which will eventually be the whole kingdom).
And during all this commotion, I watched Princess Anasyah. At first her grief seemed genuine – palpable, even – but when she thought no one was looking, I saw it. I saw her eyes flash emerald green as she stared at her husband’s body, a cold sneer on her face.
I sat in my room for some time after, reeling from the death and the fact that I had seen her eyes flash
, like gemstones. I had seen flashing eyes once before, and I cringed and shuddered at the memory. And then I knew what I had to do.
The hallway was dark and somber as I made my way to the prince and princess’ quarters. At the door, I simply stated that I wished to offer Princess Anasyah comfort and an attentive ear – honestly expecting to be turned away. Strangely, the princess agreed to see me, and the door was opened to her black-clad form sitting at her vanity, head in her hand.
When the door shut, she made a gesture for me to sit anywhere, not even trying to be cheerful. So I took a plush chair, pulled it up next to her vanity, sat down, and said, “Your mother never stopped thinking of you… Sumunak.”
The princess dropped her hand and turned toward me so fast I thought her head would spin. Her eyes flashed that emerald green again, but she didn’t move any more.
“Yes,” I told her. “I met your mother, and all your brothers and sisters. I am sorry to tell you that they are dead.”
To my surprise, Sumunak smiled. “I am not sorry to hear it. They were awful people.”
Then she told me a story. She left home many years ago, because she did not hold with their practices (with which I was well acquainted), and traveled the world. She ended up in Dardanah, south of here, starving and looking like an old woman, barely sustaining herself on the happiness of passersby. A naïve, privileged young lady found her and bought her a meal at the local tavern – and then brought her to her favorite spot outside the city: a treehouse.
“She wanted me to see the stars,” Sumunak told me. Then she shrugged and allowed, “She was… not very intelligent.” Sumunak elaborated that the happiness of the moment allowed her to return to her young, healthy state, which alarmingly, coincidentally resembled young Lady Anasyah. The lady backed away, despite Sumunak’s insistence that she meant no harm, and she tripped and fell out of the treehouse, to her death. So Sumunak, unwilling to be homeless and starving again, simply traded their clothes and buried her in the forest, and then went to the young lady’s home and assumed her identity.
“Her brother, Lord Harald, knew I was not truly his sister, but could not raise alarm without himself looking mad – so he banished me from the house for ‘disobedience,’ and I left. When I came to Ysen, I was known as the ‘runaway lady,’ and I became the talk of the city in no time. It’s really no surprise that the prince came to fancy me, and my notoriety.” She sighed. “If only I had known the cruelty he was capable of.”
“How did you kill him?” I asked, getting to the point.
“They will find nothing in the workshop,” she said. “I used the… innate magic… of my people, and sapped his very air. Though it is a shame to waste all that food…” She made the last remark as her hand made a smooth, swirling motion over her pregnancy. I guess zukubem
do need to eat of the Earth when they are expecting.
“Well I hope the mages aren’t blamed for this!” I told her. “They face enough scrutiny now, after what Arkaery Gwynvor did –”
“The only mage in the room was Ousald, and I will make certain no suspicion falls on him.” She surprised me with her steadfastness. “Will you say anything, Miss Ahearn?”
Her use of my family name caught my attention. “Actually… I wanted to ask a favor of you.”
She was silent for a long time; but in the end, she acquiesced: “Name it.”
Ankah did not go into his room until late in the evening, and I waited until I was sure we would be unobserved before sneaking over. With the lightest scratching sound I made on his door, he pulled me inside. I expected him to be playful, at ease, but he was still tense as a guitar string. They had no idea how the prince died – there was nothing wrong with the food. So I sat him down and made him swear to secrecy, before revealing the true nature of “Princess Anasyah.”
“So… the real Anasyah died two years ago?” he asked.
“Possibly longer. But we are to say nothing –”
“But she is a zukubah
“She is not like her family,” I assured him. “She killed Prince Perinald for the misery he had caused others, for which he felt no remorse – and I cannot actually fault her for that. Also…” I halted. “Where are we going from here?”
“Where are we…?” Ankah trailed off before realizing what I was really asking. “I suppose I haven’t formally… asked you. I admit, I had all sorts of ideas, but…” He reached across to take my hands in his own, and leaned over them, his mop of curly hair hiding his face as his thumbs caressed my palms in a way I found ticklish but didn’t want to stop. “We have seen so much together. All the horrors of the world: fires, massacres, depravity. Evil. We saw our friends die in service of good – or if they survived, lose parts of themselves. We have even seen the lowest points of each other, yet we came out of it together, in the end. I do not believe there is anything we could not overcome.”
Then he looked up, directly into my eyes. “Maeg, I love you. I wish I knew a more poetic way to say it, but I can’t think of one right now. I just know – and now I can say that I know for certain – that I love you, and don’t want to wake up to another morning without you.” He took a deep breath. “I don’t even have a ring yet, but Maeghan Ahearn, will you marry me?”
I couldn’t even see him anymore, my vision had completely blurred as my eyes brimmed over with tears. I’m tearing up even now as I write this. I leapt from my seat into his arms, and accidentally knocked him off his chair, but we didn’t care. The ecstasy was incomprehensible.
A long time later as we reclined in bed, sleep threatening to overtake us, Ankah finally asked me, “So why, exactly, are we going to keep silent about the princess?”
I walked my fingers up his chest and playfully pressed his nose before confessing, “Because she is elevating House Ahearn to noble status. Arrangements will be made for us to oversee border lands south of the Sieffran River, about three thousand acres. So… I do believe you are ‘marrying up.’” I smiled.
And if we’d been standing, I’m fairly certain his jaw would’ve dropped to the floor. 26 Iyunah, 1413
Yesterday, this journal started smelling like cabbage. It is really pungent, and off-putting. I was told previously to beware of this day, so as soon as I smelled it, I tried to find Wenna. To my surprise and relief, she was at the tavern where so much of my adventure had begun – sitting at the bar, smoking her pipe.
“This is why I didn’t leave yet,” she told me. “I knew the journal would be turning very toxic very
soon. In fact, this might be the longest a misplaced Key has been in the opposite world before turning toxic.”
“So what do we do?”
“Well, we bring the journal back to the Bidarath
,” she said. “And you’re going to have to return, as well.”
Back at the Palace, Ankah, Ousald, and the princess were with me when Wenna explained what I would have to do: “Back home, you are in a coma, and in very frail condition. Most likely one more trip there, and then back here, will kill you. So I will help you time it so that when you return, your mom will be there to hear your last requests. You’ll need to tell her to cremate your body, so a copy of you doesn’t remain in that world. Do you understand?”
I nodded, breathing suddenly becoming very difficult.
“I recommend setting the timer for only three minutes before you return, because you don’t want to risk dying before you can come back. You will use the journal, and then I will use my own key to take the journal to your house, and then use the journal to come back.” She paused. “I know this is very scary. In fact, I don’t really know how I would feel in your position. But I need to know that you can do this.”
Nodding vigorously, I stood up. “I don’t have a future back there, but I have a life here. I know this will be painful, but I want to preserve this life.”
Wenna nodded, and then pulled me into a tight embrace before telling me, “It’s been weird, not being able to ask you for help at work.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Wenna, at this point, I think I’d be asking you
And now I’m writing this last entry. I’ll be returning to the Vineshmyr
, briefly, for a final moment with my mom.
To all the people who made work bearable - Bob, Corrine, Stacey, Gary, Bill, and… Wenna – thank you for being positive presences in my life.
To Emily, Shauntelle, Liz, Bryan, Zeke, and all my friends from back east, may your inner sparks never go out, and your smiles and laughter continue to shine.
To my friends Evie, Ashley, Matt, Chris, and others too numerous for me to name at this moment, back home… never stop seizing the day, all of you. Never stop making your lives extraordinary.
To my family who has been there for me since birth, there are no words capable of expressing the gratitude I feel for you, and the sorrow that I can never see you again. Grandma, my aunts and uncles, and most of all my beautiful, strong, intelligent, powerful mother, Ellen Pearl Ahearn: don’t you dare give up.
-- Maeghan Ahearn
On May 26, 2018, at 4:00 p.m., Maeghan Ahearn woke up from her coma. At first she seemed to be speaking “gibberish,” according to Miz A, but eventually she was speaking English again. Miz A cried as her daughter told her she loved her, and that she absolutely must be cremated. They only had a few minutes together before, as Miz A described it, “She looked as though she had been ‘unplugged.’” Maeg had ‘collapsed’ back onto the hospital bed, and was officially pronounced dead at 4:04 p.m.
The memorial service was alternately cheerful and somber. I met many of Maeg’s friends from college, and some of her coworkers had made it, though they’d said there would’ve been another – “Larissa” – but she was recently accepted back into the fold by her Mormon family and had returned with her son to Utah.
The following day, Miz A showed me the journal she’d found in her daughter’s room, and so launched a year-long endeavor for me to transcribe it. And I cannot return to my old life.
I told my landlord I was going on vacation, and asked him to look after my plants. He’ll be the first to report me missing, I’m certain. But I have everything packed and ready. I even took my Viking drinking horn off the wall, because I’ll probably need that. And I know how to use the journal. I’ll let someone know where it is so they can come back and hide it – I don’t want it ending up in a police evidence box.
This is Ewelina “Evie” Wiater, seizing the day and signing off. Till we meet again. Aunt Betty