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Literature / Heretical Edge

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Seeing the light is only the beginning.

Heretical Edge by Cerulean is a Web Serial Novel centered around Felicity "Flick" Chambers, a mostly Ordinary High-School Student who is recruited into Crossroads Academy and brought into a world where she and her fellow students will be made into Heretics and taught to use their extraordinary gifts to protect the mundane world from Strangers, the endless variety of beasts and monsters that lurk within the shadows.

Further complicating matters is the Bystander Effect, the magical phenomenon that renders ordinary humans incapable of defending themselves against the supernatural. And because defending all of humanity isn't a big enough job for the Heretics, there's also Eden's Garden, another faction of Heretics that works with the Strangers.

World Building spoilers below. If the above description sounds good, start reading now.


At least, that's how Crossroads claims it works. The actual situation isn't quite that simple. Strangers are not universally evil, Eden's Garden isn't as bad as the rumors claim, and Crossroads itself is more sinister than it seems.

And because being recruited into a school for monster hunters doesn't complicate Flick's life enough on its own, we soon learn that she was already more involved with the supernatural than she ever realized when Ammon, the Stranger son of her Missing Mom appears...

Heretical Edge is notable for having a certain degree of Audience Participation. Cerulean has a donations page for anyone who might want to further support his writing. Like many other popular web serials, readers can earn bonus chapters by adding to the pool of donations. Unlike many web serials, everyone who donates, regardless of how much, is added to a voting list. Every so often, Cerulean gives everyone on that list the option to vote on certain things like which characters get interludes. Or, if you'd prefer, you can forgo the donations pool and donate money directly to earn a "mini-interlude" showing off-screen character moments that would otherwise be skipped.


This series provides examples of:

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     A - D 
  • Absurdly Long Wait: Runner Templeton complains (in an official recording of his investigation of the Hiding Man case) about how his friend Jackie has yet to pay him back for tickets to a Brooklyn Dodgers game. How long a wait was this? Templeton makes this complaint in 2010. The Dodgers moved out of Brooklyn in 1958.
  • Academy of Adventure: Crossroads Academy, where young Heretics learn how to use magic, craft weapons, and kill Strangers.
    • There is also Eden's Garden, another school (closer to a boot camp, really) which is much more... friendly to Strangers than Crossroads Academy is. Most Crossroads Heretics view it as an Evil Counterpart, but the truth is a bit more complicated.
  • Accomplice by Inaction: When Hannah Owens is stabbed by Fahsteth, Gaia realizes the only way to save her in time is to make her a Heretic. Unfortunately, she knows Crossroads would embody this trope and refuse to heal Hannah due to their belief that using the Edge on people who are too young would cause problems. So she calls in Seller to take Hannah to Eden's Garden, who are willing to take the risk and save her.
  • Adults Are Useless: Thoroughly Averted. The staff at Crossroads Academy is typically very competent. Too bad that competence is being hampered by moles.
  • Adult Fear: Children being taken away from their parents, occasionally without the parents finding out until it's too late to stop. Or parents having to intentionally cut themselves off from their children.
    • In particular, Flick's mother Joselyn cannot catch a damn break with this. She's been forced away from no less than three of her four children over the course of her life. The first two were outright kidnapped, the third was almost kidnapped (twice!), and there's not a lot of solace she can take in being near her fourth child for... a number of reasons.
      • The older children (Wyatt Rendell and Abigail Fellows) were separated from each other, renamed, and raised in ignorance of their heritage. The girl was completely locked out of the supernatural world and left unaware of the dangers to her life. She's the lucky one, because her brother grew up in an abusive home under "parents" that didn't care about him and were ready and willing to murder him if ordered. He became an incredibly and Properly Paranoid man who doesn't trust anyone and is constantly fighting down panic attacks.
      • Her third child, Flick Chambers, grew up under the same surveillance as her older siblings but, like her sister, remained ignorant of it. Unlike her siblings, Flick has the attention of a Necromancer that plans to enslave her as soon as he's allowed to by the deal Joselyn made to keep him from doing so when she was seven.
      • And then there's Ammon, the son Joselyn has had to watch Fossor raise to be a monster right in front of her.
    • The Akharu warrior Tiras had to leave his wife and daughter behind in order to fight a war against a race of enemies that would kill them for being part Akharu. He hasn't seen either of them in over two hundred years.
      • Centuries later, his wife Jiao gave her younger daughter (by a different man) Reathma up for adoption in order to protect her from her enemies. She was worried enough that she let the man she gave the baby to rename her for fear of leaving any trace that could connect them.
    • Haiden and Sariel Moon were both flung literally worlds away from their twin children, one of whom was also sucked into the same dimensional portal that took them. They haven't been seen in a decade.
    • Sands and Scout's mother was abducted by a Stranger while on an outing with ten year old Scout (who still went by Sarah at the time). The "bad man" then attempted to use her likeness and voice to lure Sarah out and take her as well. Thankfully, Mrs. Mason's Alter friend was there and hid Sarah so the Nocen couldn't find her.
      • Said friend was Sariel, and she didn't so much hide Sarah as fling herself, Larissa, and the Nocen into different dimensions, sacrificing her own chance to get back to her family in the process.
    • An argument can be made that Crossroads Academy and Eden's Garden kidnap their Bystander students. That's probably how their parents would see it if the schools didn't modify their memories to make them think they sent their kids to a prestigious private school (Crossroads) or a military academy (Eden's Garden). Both organizations leave the final choice of whether or not to join up to the recruits themselves, but those recruits are minors.
      • In very rare cases, the Crossroads Committee is willing to at least discuss abducting Bystander children from their families to be raised by Heretics, although they wouldn't put it in those terms. They came very close to having Flick taken from her dad after Joselyn disappeared.
      • Eden's Garden has a fifty percent mortality rate for their trainees. We can safely say that the vast majority of parents would not be okay with that.
  • All Myths Are True: To an extent. Pretty much every mythological creature really does exist, but the Bystander Effect makes it difficult to comment on the truthfulness of the myths themselves.
    • The myths about individuals get massively twisted. For instance, in Heretical Edge's take on the Arthurian Mythos, Arthur and Merlin are the same person, with Merlin a disguise Arthur used for great magical works to conceal his full abilities, and Lancelot is a disguise that Guinevere put on when she was out kicking ass for the sake of appearances.
  • Alternate History: Because the Bystander Effect is constantly censoring the memories of ordinary human beings, history has played out very differently from how Bystanders believe it did (how it happened in Real Life). Crossroads even has a Bystander History class where they teach their students what Bystanders think happened so they don't cause any confusion while interacting with them.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted. According to Crossroads Academy, all Strangers everywhere are pure evil monsters out to prey on humanity. It's made clear early on that this is bullshit. Sapient nonhumans are just as complex and nuanced as humans. That said, a lot of the nonhumans Crossroads Heretics comes into contact with are legitimately dangerous because peaceful Alters know to not attract attention. And there really are Strangers that are as bad as Crossroads claims. Or worse.
    • Sands describes the Heretics of Eden's Garden this way as well, which is also bullshit. Eden's Garden does operate in some areas that Crossroads considers evil, but one of those areas is using Strangers for their benefit instead of killing them.
    • The closest we have to races that are Always Chaotic Evil in this series are the Seosten and the Fomorians, although they're closer to being always Lawful and Neutral Evil, respectively. Even then, the first Seosten we meet is a good-natured renegade, and the first Fomorian we meet references one of his people who betrayed their species to rescue humans in the past.
    • And then it turns out that there's an entire Always Good rebel faction of Seosten who go for symbiosis over body-jacking.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Once Ammon shows up, the disappearance of Flick's mother becomes this. Did Joselyn leave willingly, as Flick and her father think? Or did Ammon's father use mind control powers similar to their son's to abduct her? Further complicating matters is the revelation that Joselyn was once a Heretic, and that it's possible to return Heretics to being human at the cost of their powers and memories of the supernatural. The true nature of the situation is eventually resolved by The Reveal, but it's left up in the air until then.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Certain hardliner Heretics at Crossroads are bad enough about their Fantastic Racism to qualify for this.
  • And Here He Comes Now: Subverted. Asenath is talking about Twister, her partner, and she times it so Twister should show up right as she finishes. Twister doesn't show up for several minutes afterwards.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Some Crossroads Heretics resolutely refuse to consider the possibility that Stranger races are capable of interbreeding with humans. This is ridiculous enough at first, but it becomes outright moronic when we find out that Heretics get their powers by overwriting their DNA with Stranger DNA, using abilities they gain directly from a Stranger.
    • Arguably Justified when it turns out that Alters actively push the idea that interbreeding is impossible in order to protect hybrid children from Heretics. Further Justified by The Reveal that attempting to possess a Half-Human Hybrid is fatal to the Seosten that set up Crossroads in the first place. They do everything they can to prevent Crossroads from realizing that Alters and humans can have children together to prevent Heretics from filling their ranks with people they can't control.
  • Arch-Enemy: There is nobody Flick hates more than Fossor, who doesn't reciprocate. Just the opposite actually, he's quite fond of Flick.
    • The person Deveron Adams hates more than anyone else is Gabriel Ruthers, the man who abducted his children and erased his wife.
    • Gabriel Ruthers's most hated enemy is the Necromancer Fossor. Joselyn Atherby is a close second.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Avalon's birth father was a violently abusive alcoholic. Now he's a vampire. Their idea of a family reunion is trying to kill each other roughly once a year. Avalon eventually succeeds.
  • The Assimilator: All Heretics gain powers from the Strangers they kill. Crossroads Academy exploits this by collecting peridles (described as a cross between a cockroach and a poodle) and having their students kill them to absorb their Healing Factor. They also arrange hunts for the students to gain other powers.
  • Audience Participation: Readers who donate are able to affect the story in three ways.
    • When money donated reaches a certain threshold, a bonus chapter is released on a Wednesday in addition to the regular Monday and Friday updates.
    • Once you donate, regardless of how much money you gave, you're added to a voting list. The author occasionally emails everyone on that list something to choose within the story, usually which character will be the subject of an interlude.
    • Instead of donating towards the next bonus chapter, a "mini-interlude" about a specific character or characters can be commissioned which shows character interaction and moments that the story's First-Person Perspective wouldn't normally show. These mini-interludes aren't part of the usual update schedule, and come out as soon as they're ready.
  • Awful Truth: Everything Crossroads and Eden's Garden Heretics know about the invention of the Heretical Edge is a lie. They believe its inventor was a naturally occurring Reaper Heretic who built it to defend humanity. The truth is that Bosch was possessed by a Seosten the entire time.
  • Badass Family: The Atherby family is a line of naturally made "wild" Heretics that predate the Heretical Edge and operated for centuries. Their last patriarch, a man named Joshua, preformed a Heroic Sacrifice along with his wife to end a Fomorian invasion of earth. Then their daughter Joselyn went on to start a revolution that grew into a full blown Heretic civil war. Nowadays the remnants of the family (Joselyn, her children, and granddaughter) are all impressive Heretics.
    • The Moons. Both children are up-and-coming Heretics punching way outside their weight class, Haiden has been rampaging around Seosten space for almost a decade, and Sariel may well be the best spy in the galaxy. And then there's Tabbris, who has been stumping three-thousand-year-old commandos for years before turning ten, and Spark, who's been single-handedly holding Puriel together mentally.
  • Badass Teacher: A job requirement to teach at Crossroads Academy.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: A number of Real Life historical figures were heavily involved in the supernatural world. The ones who are still alive in the story are listed under Historical Domain Character.
    • Hieronymus Bosch was a Dutch Renaissance painter who became a Heretic when he killed a Hangman Demon. He then proceeded to hunt down various Strangers to gain power and intelligence and eventually created the Heretical Edge and founded Crossroads. Except not really. The Awful Truth is that he was a victim of Seostenic possession the entire time. They used him to create Crossroads. He mixed the blood of the Demon he killed with his paints, and that blood was eventually used to grow the tree Eden's Garden is based out of. Garden also regards him highly, considering themselves to be the true inheritors of his legacy.
    • Kaiser Wilhelm I, the first emperor of Germany, has multiple portraits hanging up in Crossroads Academy. Interestingly, it's noted that he wasn't actually in charge of Germany in the story's Alternate History.
    • A throwaway line indicates that both George Washington and Jesus Christ were some form of Alter. While Word of God is that Jesus was a Seosten, we don't know for sure what Washington was.
  • Big Bad Ensemble
    • Fossor is an extremely powerful Necromancer who had conquered his homeworld and driven at least one race to the brink of extinction. Seems to hold a particular dislike for Heretics, which makes sense since they tried to curse him off earth centuries ago. It didn't take. He's also a deeply personal enemy to Flick because he abducted her mother, fathered Ammon, and intends make Flick his slave as soon as possible.
    • Gabriel Ruthers, of the Crossroads Committee. He's a myopic, unfettered Knight Templar and stands as the biggest obstacle to any efforts to reform the organization. While he's probably the least evil Big Bad of the Ensemble (with the possible exception of the Seosten), he's also the most immediate obstacle to the protagonists. And he wants Flick out of Crossroads Academy because his Irrational Hatred of her mother leads him to think she's a spy.
    • The Seosten, an ancient Alter race that has been working to manipulate mankind for hundreds, if not thousands of years. They can possess and control other Alters much like the Yeerks from Animorphs. They created the Bystander Effect to isolate humanity from magic and other sapient races, and are a responsible for the construction of the Heretical Edge and the founding of Crossroads.
    • And then there's the Fomorians, a race of bio-engineers that attempted to invade earth around the time of the Spanish-American War, but were stopped by Baroness Gaia Sinclaire, who sealed them off from earth. They're still out there though, looking to invade all over again. They created humanity to be a Servant Race capable of taking on the traits of other races, and they want their creation back under their control. Furthermore, they have a vested interest in capturing a living descendant of Joshua Atherby.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Heretic make use of this a lot, mostly to hide their weapons in easily portable objects.
  • Big Good: We have a few candidates who can claim this title for different groups of people.
    • For Flick herself, her classmates, and any Crossroads reformists, we have Baroness Gaia Sinclaire, the headmistress of Crossroads Academy. She's a highly respected Heretic that's over seven-hundred years old, dead serious about protecting her students, and working to change the way Crossroads handles things within the bounds of the system (for the most part).
    • In the backstory, Joselyn Atherby, the revolutionary who fought to keep Crossroads and Eden's Garden from slaughtering innocent and peaceful Alters. It didn't end particularly well, but their name was a source of hope for countless innocents for decades.
    • In the general Heretic world, Gabriel Prosser holds this role. Gabriel is a natural Reaper-bonded Heretic who, due to his own past as a black slave, takes offense to the Heretics' discrimination against Alters. He backed the aforementioned rebellion.
    • Then there's Grandfather, the Fomorian defector. He's not particularly active at the moment, but without him humans would just be a Fomorian weapon-race.
    • Avalon. Not Flick's roommate, an organization consisting of descendants of those Knights of the Round Table who followed Lancelot instead of Bedivere after Arthur's death. They're working to end the Seosten manipulations on Earth. Lancelot herself, also known as Guenevere, co-leads the organization with the Archangel Michael.
    • Athena, leader of the Aelestiam, leads her people in a rebellion against the Seosten empire, rescuing people the Seosten have locked away for opposing them.
    • Chayyiel, an Internal Reformist within the Seosten Empire. As a member of the Seraphim and the leader of the Libero Choir, she uses her influence to try to create a universe where the Seosten work peacefully with other groups instead of enslaving them.
  • Canis Major: The amarok, a giant wolf that's pretty damn hard to kill.
  • Companion Cube: Herbie, the then-unnamed rock Flick throws through the portal. Well-trained, quiet, and packing a mean glare.
  • Creator Provincialism: Played straight in that Heretic culture (or what we see of it) is distinctly American despite its multi-cultural origins and territory (the author is American and it unintentionally came out that way). But also subverted.
    • While Crossroads describes itself as the protector of the entire world, its actual area of influence only covers the United States, most of Western Europe, and the northern part of South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru). Eden's Garden covers most of the same territory. As for the rest of the world...
      • France, Australia, most of the Middle East, China, and Central America are protected by other Heretic organizations that Crossroads and Eden's Garden maintain diplomatic relations with.
      • Africa and Canada (of all places), are controlled by Alters too numerous and powerful for Heretics to maintain a presence.
  • Creepy Child: Ammon. Holy shit.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Joselyn Chambers left her family to save her daughter Felicity from being kidnapped into a life of servitude by an extremely dangerous and genuinely evil Stranger.
    • It's not the first time she's person has had a good reason. Joselyn missed out on her older children's lives because they were kidnapped when they were infants. She was imprisoned and later had her memories wiped by the people who kidnapped them.
    • Sariel Moon sent her fourth, full Seosten child back to Earth with instructions to hide within Felicity Chambers and no chance of contact, because the alternative was letting the girl be raised as just another Seosten soldier.
  • Danger Sense: Heretics have a built in Stranger Sense for when they encounter most nonhumans. Crossroads Heretics get a kind of mental alarm that goes off at various intensities. Garden Heretics experience a surge of hunger and adrenaline, as if anticipating a hunt. They function differently because of the separate ways they're made Heretics. Crossroads Heretics get a mental alert because they get their powers from a hangman demon's mind. Garden Heretics get a physical reaction because their powers are obtained by eating fruit grown from the same demon's blood. The downside is that a Stranger sensed by the ability is instantly alerted to it.
    • And it's not perfect. Some Alter races like Pooka and the Meregan don't set it off.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Avalon Sinclaire, the daughter of Headmistress Sinclaire, used to be a student at Eden's Garden. Born Hannah Owens, her mother died giving birth to her and her father was a violently abusive alcoholic. She was almost killed by a stranger when she was eleven and was taken to Eden's Garden to save her life. She was happy until an Entitled Bastard who had helped her out in the past began sexually harassing and eventually assaulted her, and she killed him in self defense. She was then adopted by Gaia Sinclaire, but now has to deal with Crossroads people that hate Eden's Garden giving her shit for having spent time there and the brother of the guy she killed is gunning for her. Oh, and her father was turned into a vampire and her goal in life is to make herself a Self-Made Orphan.
    • Scout, Sand's twin sister, was extremely traumatized as a young child when she survived a Stranger attack that claimed their mother.
    • Deveron Adams, the "mentor" of Flick's team was a star student in his first year at Crossroads. But something happened to him over the summer that killed his motivation and turned him into a Jerkass slacker. That something was that he found a video from his old self explaining how his wife and kids were abducted and erased from history by Crossroads.
    • Flick's mother caused enough trouble in the past that her child was almost not allowed to enroll in Crossroads.
    • Doug Frey is one of four survivors of a failed Crossroads colony.
    • Roxa Pittman used to be a homeless street thief.
    • Jazz Rhodes became a Heretic because the Torchbearers, the Heretic group she was born into, lost all its trainees to a Stranger attack and she was the only remaining option to send to Crossroads.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Felicity Chambers insists on being called Flick because she hates her first name. It's a reminder of the mother who abandoned her. She does a complete one-eighty when she learns why Joselyn left, although she has to keep up the pretense to avoid letting on how much she knows (and out of habit).
  • Dramatic Irony: There's a fair amount of this, due to the story following the Worm model of using third person interludes to expand on an otherwise first person narrative.
    • Special mention has to go to the conversation Flick has with her father where he tells her about a neighbor boy who just moved in, is going to be doing some yard work for him, and is excited to meet Flick when she comes home from her private school. He thinks the kid might have a crush on her. It's Ammon, Flick's mind-controlling younger half-brother who took a cross country trip to find her. And given the way his power works, he probably used it on Flick's dad.
    • Flick comes away from her seventeenth birthday with a number of secrets she doesn't think she can trust her teachers with. Unbeknownst to her, they already know or suspect almost all of it. Also, sneaking around like she plans on doing can get her in a lot more trouble than she thinks.
      • Building on that, half the Crossroads leaders are convinced that Flick's mother regained her memories and escaped their surveillance to restart her revolution while the other half believe she was abducted and enslaved. By the time this is revealed, the audience knows full well that the latter group is correct.
  • The Dreaded: Fossor, both in general and to Flick personally. The mere thought of him is usually enough to make her shudder. After all, he's been planning to kidnap her since she was seven years old. The pre-Crossroads Heretics attempted to permanently banish him from earth rather than deal with him, and a centuries old Heretic pales upon hearing his description.
  • Dumb Blonde: Inverted; Flick is actually quite smart.

     E - L 
  • Enemy Mine: When something comes along to threaten both of them, Crossroads and Eden's Garden will set aside their differences and work together. This is not always a good thing, because it's how they were able to cast the spell that erased Joselyn Atherby from memory and end her revolution.
  • Engineered Public Confession:
    • Not quite public, but Flick goads Calvin into opening his drug stash while Deputy Scott Utell is listening in.
    • Klassin Roe goads Liam Mason into admitting he sold out Joselyn's rebellion to the Committee while Flick is in earshot.
  • Evil Counterpart: Zigzagged. Eden's Garden is initially described by Sands as being the Evil Counterpart to Crossroads because they're friendly towards Strangers. It eventually becomes apparent that while Eden's Garden is worse than Crossroads in some ways, it's better in others. Whether or not this trope is Subverted or Played Straight depends on personal interpretation and will probably vary from tribe to tribe.
    • When we learn that Strangers are not all evil, Garden starts to sound more like Crossroads' Good Counterpart... until we learn that being "friendly" with Strangers means that the Garden Heretics enslave or experiment on the non-humans they deem "acceptable" and still regard them as little better than animals. This is still better than Crossroads, but it's hardly good.
      • Not to be outdone, Crossroads experiments on Strangers as well. They just don't do it openly.
    • Furthermore, Garden Heretics often make a point of deriding how Crossroads "coddles" or "babysits" it's students, indicating that their training (which recruits kids ages 11-13 rather than 16-17) is harsher and more effective. Garden Heretics actually make this a point of pride. Whether or not it's more effective is up for debate, but it's definitely harsher. Fifty percent of Garden recruits die or are abducted by Strangers before graduation.
      • Most of the increased casualty rate is actually Seosten kidnappings of Garden students to use on the Fomorian front.
    • Unlike Crossroads, Eden's Garden isn't actually a single organization. It's made up of eight separate tribes that are prone to infighting and occasionally erupt into outright war with each other.
  • Eye Scream: During their first hunt, Avalon and Scout put out an Amarok's eyes while wearing it down so Flick can blow it up.
  • Failed a Spot Check: While talking to Shiori, Flick completely fails to notice that they've been teleported from the Crossroads beach to a desert. Lampshaded in the chapter tags.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The first chapter begins with the ending lines of an action movie that Flick is watching.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Crossroads Heretics teach that all nonhumans, everywhere, are monsters without exception. This is arguably justified to an extent, because the majority of non-humans they come into contact with really are dangerous, but there are plenty they aren't aware of who are capable of living peacefully.
    • The Heretics of Eden's Garden aren't much better. They don't kill every single Stranger they find, but slavery is the best treatment a Stranger deemed "acceptable" by Gardeners can hope for.
    • There's also the Seosten, a race of angelic beings that have made it their goal to guide the development of the human race because of a prophecy stating that humanity will one day grow into a force that will destroy their race and world. It seems to be common (though not universal) among these guys to look down on humans. A lot. This is exacerbated by the knowledge that humanity was created by their mortal enemies, the Fomorians. The few that don't look down on humans have to hide it, because the upper ranks consider that evidence someone is at risk of defecting. They're right.
    • The Fomorians are also prejudiced against humanity, but in a different way. Far from thinking of humans as inferior, they think the human abilities to become Heretics and interbreed with other species is awesome. At the same time, they regard humans as little better than tools to be used. This is because they created humanity and see the species as their property.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The blood plague. It's a powerful and very difficult to cast spell that enslaves its targets and all of their unborn descendents for eternity.
    • This is what the Vestil tried to do to the Akharu, but the Akharu's immortality weakened it to a vampiric curse. Pure blood Akharu children born after it was cast aren't so lucky.
    • Ruthers tried to convince the Crossroads Committee to do this to Joselyn's revolutionary followers. Thankfully, another option was presented before he could convince enough of his colleagues to go through with it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Fossor looks and sounds like a pediatrician. He's also evil.
  • The Federation: Eden's Garden isn't a unified organization. It's a group of eight semi-independent tribes that operate under the same banner in public. These tribes are:
    • The Vigilant Sons (and Daughters), which Seller belongs to. This was Avalon's tribe before she killed Torv and had to leave.
    • The Eternal Eye, Miranda's tribe.
    • The Dust-Striders.
    • The Children of Bosch.
    • The Reapers.
    • The Remnant Guardians.
    • Fate's Shepherds.
    • Lost Scar, Trice and company's tribe.
    • There are also the Unset, a group of "tribeless" Garden Heretics who enforce the will of the Council of Victors and maintain neutrality in all tribal conflict. They're basically a ninth tribe, but don't tell them that.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Asenath, who spends her days helping anyone who needs it. It doesn't matter to her if you're a kidnapped kid, a grieving mother, or even a teenage Heretic. She helps people. It's what she does.
  • Good Is Not Soft: All over the place.
    • Gaia Sinclaire is perfectly willing to leave an abusive alcoholic to suffer an agonizing death even as she saves his eleven year old daughter from the same fate.
    • Asenath feels comfortable draining drug dealers and kidnappers of their blood, despite normally avoiding consuming the blood of humans.
      • She also has absolutely no problem stabbing a nine year old boy in the chest as long as that boy is a mind controlling serial killer.
    • Speaking of that nine year old serial killer, Flick doesn't hesitate to throw him through a window.
    • Joselyn Atherby started a supernatural guerrilla war to force Heretics to stop killing innocent Alters.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: Strangers are out to annihilate all of humanity, and the Heretics exist to wipe them out before they have the chance... is what Crossroads Heretics teach and believe. They are wrong.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Most Crossroads Heretics believe this is impossible. They're dead wrong, and Alters are in no hurry to correct them). It's not exactly common, but there are more than a few running around. Half-humans are also just as capable of becoming Heretics as full humans, and they're generally immune or at least resistant to the Bystander Effect.
    • It's not yet clear what Ammon's father is, but his mother is definitely human. Most of his abilities come not from his father, but from an infusion of the blood of Denuvus the witch.
    • Asenath is the child of the Akharu warrior Tiras and a Chinese woman named Jiao. After taking her father's blood, she became a vampire herself, effectively becoming both this and a full Alter.
    • Shiori is Asenath's half-sister, a Dhampyr born of Jiao and a human man. She has enhanced reflexes, senses, and hand-eye coordination.
    • Vanessa Moon and her twin brother Tristan have a Seostenic mother. As a result, Vanessa has perfect Photographic Memory and Tristan is an inhumanely talented gymnast.]]
    • Technically, all Heretics are artifically-made Half-Human Hybrids, because in order to become a Heretic you have to imbue yourself with Alter DNA. Crossroads and Eden's Garden Heretics are human-Reaper hybrids, and there are other kinds of Heretics made from other Alters. Furthermore, human-made vampires also fall under this definition. They're human-Akharu hybrids.
    • These are also the Seostens' Achilles' Heel. Attempting to possess a hybrid without the aid of dragonbone results in an extraordinarily painful death.
  • Healing Factor: It's standard procedure at Crossroads Academy and Eden's Garden to give students the chance to kill a minor monster in order to absorb this very ability.
  • Historical Domain Character: Here we list the real life figures who are still alive when the story takes place. Posthumous Historical Domain Characters are listed under Beethoven Was an Alien Spy.
    • Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas, is a teacher at Crossroads Academy, as well as the staff member responsible for bringing Bystander-kin like Flick into the school.
    • Gabriel Prosser was a literate slave who lived in late eighteenth century Virginia and attempted to lead a slave revolt in 1800, but was caught and executed in Real Life. In this universe, his life was inadvertently saved when a Hangman Demon attacked his execution and wound up bleeding on him, transforming him into a Heretic the same way Hieronymus Bosch was. Due to having the direct human-to-Heretic upgrade as opposed to the diluted version Crossroads and Eden's Garden gets, he's naturally much more powerful than most Heretics. He subsequently refused to join either organization, instead joining the Atherby Clan while seeming to be Walking the Earth. Eden's Garden's Vigilant Sons tribe regards him as something of Folk Hero who will allow them to win the "inevitable" war with Crossroads.
    • Edward "Blackbeard" Teach and the Roman (co-)Emperor Geta are both on the Crossroads Committee.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday:
    • Flick's seventeenth birthday is... unpleasant, to say the least. This is Justified because she's sent home to spend her birthday with her dad, meaning Ammon and Fossor can get to her far more easily than they could if she was at school. Her eighteenth birthday promises to be even worse because the deal he made with her mother to leave her alone will expire when she becomes an adult.
    • Flick's Thanksgiving at the Fellows household ends up being less than pleasant as well.
    • Deliberately invoked by Fossor, who enjoys fucking with people on what were supposed to be special days for them. He has Ammon make Scott kill himself in front of Flick on Christmas Eve, and he chooses Family Day as the time to poison Crossroads and have Joselyn steal the rope of the Reaper the Edge was made from.
  • Human Aliens: Many sapient Stranger races are indistinguishable from humans at a glance. They're even capable of interbreeding with humans.
    • The Akharu have features that strongly resemble Native Americans, Tiras was able to pass himself off as being of Cherokee descent in the late eighteenth century. And they're capable of having children with humans.
    • The Seosten are usually more beautiful than humans on average, and have a noticeably ethereal quality. Otherwise they're indistinguishable. Also capable of reproducing with humans.
    • Fossor's race is another that can have children with humans. Generally speaking though, Fossor himself is the only living member that comes to Earth. Others usually only come as ghosts or corpses.
    • The Meregan largely appear human. One very noticeable difference, however, is the fact that they grow to be around nine feet tall.
    • It is eventually speculated that humans were intentionally designed to look like Seosten, although that doesn't' explain why other races such as the Akharu look so similar.
  • Humans Are Special: This is the basis of the inherent xenophobia of Crossroads and Eden's Garden. Many Heretics on both sides honestly believe that human beings are the only sapient creatures in all of existence who possess the capacity to understand the concepts of good and evil, and that all other races are simply monsters as a result. This is, of course, utter nonsense.
    • That said, humans are special in this universe, but for a different reason. They are the one and only race capable of melding their genetics with other species, either through reproduction or by becoming Heretics. This is because humans are biologically engineered by the Fomorians to be capable of this.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Heretical Edge isn't shy about reminding you that ordinary, powerless human beings can be just as evil and monstrous as actual monsters.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Averted, for the most part. For Heretics, immortality seems to begin at completely random ages. Some, like Nevada, look like teenagers when they're much older (although Nevada herself is a special case). Others appear to be in their late twenties or early thirties like Professor Dare, who was born in 1587. Professors Pericles and Ross actually do look old but are younger than Gaia Sinclaire and Seller, who both appear to be in their forties when they're somewhere between seven and eight hundred.
    • Justified in the case of Asenath, who waited until she was around 20 to become a vampire.
  • Inheritance Murder: Avalon Sinclaire is the closest living relative to Hieronymus Bosch. The Mole who's been trying to murder her since she was born (and did murder her birth mother) is trying to make sure that someone they can control becomes Bosch's closest living relative and thus gains access to Bosch's Blood Vault.
  • Insistent Terminology: Heretics use "Stranger" as a blanket term for all nonhumans, despite most of them having unique names.
    • Strangers like Asenath call nonhumans "Alters" instead. It's shorthand for "alternative from human," and also Latin for "different." Evil Alters are called "Nocen," which is Latin for evil or wicked.
    • There is no such thing as "genies", they are Djinni.
    • Reapers refuse to refer to kill-crazy members of their species as Hangmen. This is because the Hangmen are that way due to coming in possession of cursed weapons, not because of their own choice or nature.
  • Internal Retcon: The Heretic leaders actually have magic that does this. The Mnemosyne spell, which totally erases its target from the memory and general knowledge of everyone who is not included in it or protected from it. Word of God states that it's costly, requiring powerful Heretics to permanently give up their powers to cast it. It's implied that it has been used a number of times in the past to hide events that have literally reshaped the continents of earth. It was also used on Flick's mother to end the revolution she started.
    • Heretics are not the only ones capable of casting this spell. Joselyn's mysterious allies can do it to. They cast one on Deveron Adams to aid in his infiltration of Crossroads Academy.
  • Internal Reveal: Thanks to all the Dramatic Irony, many (but not all) of the shocking revelations are already known to the audience.
  • Interspecies Romance: Common among the Akharu who came to earth after their race was cursed. The resulting Half-Human Hybrids are called Vampires by the Heretics.
    • Haiden and Sariel Moon. He's a Heretic, she's an angel, and they were Happily Married with twin children.
    • And then Jazz and Jokai start dating.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Defied. Asenath and Twister quickly deduce that they're being affected by magic when they start having similar, oddly realistic Recurring Dreams.
  • Kid Detective: Felicity "Flick" Chambers
  • Knight Templar: Many Heretics are totally assured of the righteousness of their mission to wipe out (or enslave, in the case of Eden's Garden) every single Alter. A few of them will do anything to accomplish this.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Flick tends to point out when she's averting certain tropes in her narration.
    • Douglas Frey also does this in his interlude when explaining to his team why he actually wants to talk to Flick about his suspicions before going to the Committee.
  • Living MacGuffin: Joshua Atherby's descendants (Joselyn, Wyatt, Abigail, Koren, Flick, and Ammon) are the only ones who can undo the seal keeping the Fomorians from traveling to earth. Any Fomorian who knows this (which so far is only the Hiding Man) needs one of them alive to do so.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: The leaders of the Crossroads Heretics actively work to keep Flick from finding out anything about her mother. But they're not all united on why. Some of them think that Joselyn is (or will be) using her to spy on them while others think that it's safest for her and for them if she doesn't know anything, and at least one would like to tell her but has been overruled by the others. Complicating matters is a magical spell preventing anyone who wasn't exempted from it from learning anything about Joselyn's life before her memory was erased.
  • The Lonely Door: After falling asleep on the school bus, Flick wakes up to find herself alone in a grassy field with a mysterious door. She opens the door to find a school hallway.
  • Loophole Abuse: When Joselyn Chambers abandoned her family, it was as part of a magical deal to keep the kidnapper away from her child, Felicity. Unfortunately, it only applies as long as Felicity is her child. As soon as Flick hits eighteen, the magic will no longer protect her.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Ammon, the Creepy Child with Mind Manipulation powers who in his introduction hijacked a gas station robbery and brutally murdered both the robber and the clerk, is Flick's younger half-brother.
    • Flick and Ammon also have a pair of older siblings neither of them have ever met. Their mother gave birth to twins (a boy and a girl) in the 1960s who are totally unaware of their relations. One of them is Wyatt Rendell.
      • The twins' father (and technically Flick and Ammon's stepfather) is Deveron Adams.
      • Koren Fellows is their Bystander sister's daughter. This makes of course makes her Joselyn and Deveron's granddaughter as well.
    • Shiori Porter, one of Flick's classmates, is the younger sister of the half-human, half-Akharu (in other words, vampire) Asenath.
    • Vanessa Moon hasn't seen her parents or brother since she was seven. She's also never met her ancestor, Nicholas Petan. And she only just met her younger half-sister, Tabbris. And she still doesn't know she has two other younger half-sisters.

     M - S 
  • Magitek: Heretics weapons are this. Examples include Flick's Kinetic-Burst Staff. Avalon's Energy Weapon generating gauntlets and Scout's Sniper Rifle. Special mention goes to Sean's robot dog, which transforms into a freaking minigun.
    • The Meregan take it to the next level. They've combined magic and technology to the point where they have viable space travel, which includes Taking Themselves For Granite as a method of suspended animation.
    • Magitek appears to be the norm in the bigger universe, judging from the Seosten tech seen after Charmeine banished Flick.
  • Masquerade: Enforced by the Heretics, who are capable of messing with people's memories to keep Bystanders from learning about the Strangers. The fact that the Strangers are hidden from ordinary people (much like The Silents or the creatures in The Mist) helps keep it up.
  • Meaningful Name
    • The name Felicity means luck and good fortune, and it held a personal significance to Joselyn Atherby, hence why she gave it to her daughter.
    • The name Avalon is rooted in the old welsh word for apple. She was given that name as a reference to Eden's Garden, her former home.
    • Fossor is a word for gravedigger that was used by the early Christian Church. Which makes it an appropriate name for a Necromancer. Given a few vague comments made about his age, the word may have even come from him.
    • Ammon is a biblical name that means "the son of my people," which is a reference to his father's intention to use the boy to rebuild his race and soceity.
  • Missing Mom: Flick's mother ran off with some random guy she pulled over for speeding when she was six. That's why she stopped calling herself Felicity, the name Joselyn chose. It's soon revealed that there's a lot more to this story when Flick's half-brother Ammon shows up.
  • Mistaken Identity: When Sean was younger, thugs broke into his apartment thinking it belonged to a man who'd tried to rob them. They assumed he was the thief's brother and decided to torture him and Make An Example Of Him. Thankfully, Sean's uncle Mateo came to save him.
  • Muggles are called "Bystanders" by the Heretics in this universe.
  • Mon: An advanced spell allows Heretics to transform a block of wood into a magical animal that they control and see through. Gaia's animal is known to be a cat. Gabriel Ruthers's is a moose, and Nevada's is an elephant. Joselyn's is a monkey.
    • Flick and her allies wind up learning this spell themselves. Flick's is a fox.
  • Muggle Born of Mages: This is pretty much the norm in this universe. Children born from supernatural parents (especially Heretics) are often totally ordinary human beings save for resistance or immunity to the Bystander Effect, though they are more likely to be chosen to receive power of their own.
  • Mysterious Backer: Gabriel Prosser and the Avalon organization combined served as this to Joselyn's revolution.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: Fossor hides the alarms that will trigger if Flick is in danger by having various Strangers and undead cause incidents all across Crossroads's territory, so it will be seen as only one incident out of many. As a result, nobody from Crossroads arrives to help Flick until Fossor and Ammon have been gone for quite some time.
  • Never Shall The Selves Meet: Time travel is both possible and incredibly dangerous in this universe, and two versions of the same person absolutely cannot exist at the same time in the same dimension (including corpses). If you travel to a point in time in a dimension where you already exist somewhere, you will wipe every version of yourself from existence.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The story starts in September 2017, a little less than two years from when it was initially posted in October 2015. Mostly done so the story wouldn't overtake the date too quickly. (That eventually did happen in the spring of 2018.)
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: Asenath claims that the reason Heretics refer to all nonhumans are "Strangers" is to make them seem more monstrous and difficult to empathize with. She's right.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The tribes of Eden's Garden all live on the massive branches of an enormous tree. Some tribes put up safety railings. Others don't bother and write off anyone who falls off as an idiot.
  • No-Sell: Felicity, when Ammon tries to control her, leaving him quite confused.
    • Koren eventually does the same thing.
    • As does Virginia Dare.
  • Not So Different: It quickly becomes apparent that Strangers and Heretics have more in common that most are comfortable admitting. Heretics emit the same Weirdness Censor as Strangers and absorb the powers of any magical creature they kill (including other Heretics, according to Word of God). This is not lost on Strangers like Asenath, who consider Heretics to be another type of Alter. It's eventually made clear that Heretics are Strangers/Alters, as their ability to assimilate powers is not only acquired from a demon's corpse, but works by overwriting their own genetics with Stranger DNA.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: At times, it seems like the Crossroads Committee is actively trying to drag its feet as much as possible. They waited until the last possible moment to vote on whether or not Flick would even be allowed in the school, which ended up needing a tiebreaker vote. This is because half of them think Flick is a spy and really are trying to be as obstructive to her as possible.
  • Oh My Gods!: Heretics have a tendency to swear... oddly, by modern standards. Avalon at one point invokes Gabriel (not the Archangel), Dare thanks the Heretical Edge itself, and more than one Crossroads Heretic has literally said "gods" instead of "God."
  • Omniscient Morality License: The leaders of the Crossroads Heretics believe they have one of these. They don't.
    • The Seosten aren't any better.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: In the first chapter, Flick briefly describes the last time she saw her mother. Later, after The Reveal, she describes the same event in greater detail, and the new information makes what Joselyn was doing painfully obvious.
  • Only You Can Repopulate My Race: One of the reasons Fossor took Joselyn Chambers and wants to take Felicity is to use them to provide himself with children he can use to eventually rebuild the society of his race, which he enslaved a long time ago. This is how Ammon was born.
  • One Side of the Story: According to Crossroads, Eden's Garden was founded by a group of thieves who stole paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, the founder of Crossroads, and used the Hangman demon's blood within the paint to plant the tree they grow their Heretic-making fruit from. According to Eden's Garden, their founders saved the paintings from Crossroads.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There is a Gabriel Ruthers, a Gabriel Prosser, and the Archangel Gabriel, three men with very different motivations and worldviews.
    • Furthermore, there are technically two Zedekiahs and three Korens (although one of them is long dead and never appears). Justified in both cases, as the younger characters were named after the older ones. Wyatt Rendell's birth name is Zedekiah, after Zedekiah Pericles; and his twin sister Abigail Fellows was originally named Koren after their paternal grandmother, which she in turn subconsciously remembered and passed on to her own daughter.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Felicity Chambers is known to everyone as "Flick" - so much so that her Bystander classmates believed it was her real name.
  • Our Angels Are Different: There's a race of angelic beings called the Seosten trying to guide the development of the human race because of a prophecy stating that humanity would one day grow into a force that would destroy them and their world. They're really condescending about it.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampirism is a curse that was inflicted upon a race called the Akharu that causes their blood to paralyze them into living death unless they replenish said blood. All Akharu are vampires, but not all vampires are Akharu, because they can share their blood with humans to make them vampires. This gives the human (or half-human) the same curse, but also grants them the Akharus' Immortality and enhances their physical abilities to superhuman levels. For some reason, pureblood Akharu are unaffected by sunlight, while human vampires are killed by it.
    • There are also Dhampyr.
    • And there are Vampeel, who are children born of two vampire parents. They don't become vampires themselves unless they take Akharu blood.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: There are three types.
    • The standard raised dead who are slow, clumsy and mindless.
    • Zombies that were prepared (or infected) to be raised before they die, and are much stronger, faster, and smarter than the first type. They're compared to wolves.
    • Revenants, a type of Stranger capable of possessing a corpse. They're described as being impossible to kill as long as they're in a corpse. But they can only possess a corpse for a few hours before it disintegrates, leaving them vulnerable.
  • Polyamory: While monogamy is still widely practiced, it's also common within Heretical society for people to have more than one romantic partner at a time. Other kinds of immortal or long lived Alters are similarly relaxed about relationships.
    Deveron: That’s how a lot of Heretics work. I mean, we live a really long time and we’re away from each other on missions a lot. Having more than one partner is—well, it’s not any kind of rule or anything, and plenty do stay monogamous. But it’s definitely not weird for Heretics to have multiple partners. Besides, our lifespans differ so much. We could live hundreds of years, or die early on. Between each person getting different powers and the… dangers out there, two people that get married could die three hundred years apart, or even more. So, you might have two boyfriends that you split time between. It doesn’t mean that you love one any less than the other. It just means… everyone needs companionship.
    • Flick, Avalon, and Shiori eventually nip their developing Love Triangle in the bud when they have a talk and decide to try this out, with Flick dating both of them.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Flick makes conscious effort to Defy this whenever possible by being as open with what she knows as she can with her friends and allies. That said, she does have a few secrets that she's trying to keep from most of her superiors... which does cause her some problems.
    • The entire situation on the Meregan homeworld between them and Nicholas Petan is the result of a total failure to communicate in any meaningful way.
  • Public Domain Character: A number of famous and not-as-famous characters from works of fiction are present in the story.
    • The Crossroads Committee includes Sir Percival from the Knights of the Round Table, Calafia from Las sergas de Esplandián, a Norse man named Sigmund who may be from The Saga of the Volsungs, and Sophronia from Jerusalem Delivered (an epic poem about the First Crusade).
    • King Arthur was a legendary natural Dragon-Heretic. He was also secretly Merlin, creating a false identity as a wizard for subterfuge.
    • Lancelot appears as the leader of the Avalon organization, although given the organizational security, it takes a long time. She's also known as Guinevere and Harper Hayes.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Those who are willing to engage in sexual violence are always treated as the worst kind of scum, especially since it's usually accompanied by a number of other horrible traits.
  • Reality Ensues: Koren attempts to run into a burning fire to retrieve evidence, trusting in her immunity to fire to keep her safe. Unfortunately, she's not immune to smoke inhalation, and as a result she almost suffocates before she's pulled out.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Common among the teachers at Crossroads. For example, Professor Virginia Dare is the very same Virginia Dare who was born in Roanoke in 1587. Headmistress Gaia Sinclaire has been alive since the days of King Arthur, and Flick and Ammon's mother was born around 1901.
    • It's not limited to Heretics either. Asenath is a couple decades past her two hundredth birthday, and her friend Twister was born 107 years before she appears.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Baroness Gaia Sinclaire, who has no problem allowing a rival school to take a promising future student if it means saving that student's life and keeping her safe. Most of the teachers she appoints are just as reasonable.
    • Seller, an influential Eden's Garden Heretic of the Vigilant Sons tribe, is much the same.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: Professor Virginia Dare asks this of Flick after briefly telling her about the school that Flick had been invited to.
  • Secret War: At least three of them.
    • Ordinary humans are completely unaware of the neverending battle between Strangers and Heretics (which is vastly more complicated than the Heretics would have their students believe).
    • Most Alters and Heretics are unaware of the reformist movements within the Heretical organizations to stop the indiscriminate slaughter of everything nonhuman.
    • And the war being waged on the Seosten is the most secret of all, with the vast majority of Crossroads and Eden's Garden Heretics totally unaware of how much influence the Seosten have over their lives and an extremely secretive network of allies is working to end it.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Heretics' insistence that all Strangers are monsters that will attack on sight is something they bring on themselves. Most Alters are aware that Heretics are out there and want to kill them. So when they see one, many will attack not out of malice, but because they know striking first is their best chance at surviving the encounter. Or because they want revenge for the loss of their loved ones.
    • The Seosten's efforts to "guide" humans are based on a prophecy that states humanity will one day grow into a force that destroys their world and people. To this end, they created Crossroads, an incredibly xenophobic organization of powerful Heretics dedicated to eliminating all magical nonhuman life from earth. Because there's no way that plan could ever backfire.
  • Sex Slave: As a combination of rape and slavery, it is of course treated dead seriously. And it's definitely present, although usually handled rather obliquely and without directly talking about it. For example, a djinni makes it clear she suffered through it without explicitly saying so by mentioning how many of her former masters made great use of her ability to change her appearance.
    • The mere fact that Ammon exists and was conceived within months of Joselyn's abduction proves that sex is an aspect of her slavery to Fossor, who quickly implies that he intends to subject Flick to the same thing when he describes her as a "beautiful young woman." Later on, just to erase any lingering doubts one might somehow still have, he mentions wanting Felicity to provide him with another child.
  • Ship Tease: The frequent attention Flick pays to Avalon's beauty will start to make readers wonder about Flick's sexual orientation. It eventually helps Flick herself realize she's bisexual. Beyond that, Flick simply gets Avalon better than anyone else save Gaia and Seller. She can easily through her roommate's abrasiveness and always seems to know when to stop pushing before Avalon becomes uncomfortable.
    • On the opposite end, Avalon is noticeably more friendly and open with Flick than others a month or so into the school year. She (eventually) even lets Flick and only Flick use her mother's Affectionate Nickname for her. Then her mini-interlude came out and made it obvious that she's practically in love with Felicity, although she's stuck with a bad case of Cannot Spit It Out.
    • Flick and Shiori quickly develop serious chemistry when they spend a few hours alone together. They get along extremely well, their hearts are constantly doing little flips at the sight of each other, and they quickly form a strong emotional bond based on mutual support.
    • Then Tristan Moon comes along and gets in on the game. Flick considers him the most attractive guy she's ever seen, blushes easily when he flirts with her, and is very impressed by his ability to easily make friends with pretty much anybody. For his part, Tristan himself is definitely interested in Flick. After all, she and Shiori were the first human girls Tristan met since he was seven at the age of twelve, right when he was hitting puberty. So when he meets up with them again at seventeen (after time travel shenanigans, so for them it was only a few weeks and they're all the same age), it makes perfect sense that he'd crush on them. He even picked Flick as his "anchor" to keep himself on earth. Sunk by Tabbris, who does not want to feel Flick being attracted to someone she is related to.
  • Sins of the Father: A number of characters believe in this.
    • Flick initially worries Gaia will believe this, as her Edge vision showed Gaia swearing to kill Flick's cowardly ancestor. Gaia later made peace with the man and holds no ill will towards either him or Flick.
    • Half of the Committee thinks Flick shouldn't be in Crossroads because of her ancestry.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Played With. Slavery is described by more than one character as a Fate Worse than Death. At the same time Eden's Garden, which enslaves some Strangers rather than killing all of them, is considered by many Alters and other Heretic outsiders to be a little bit better (or at least less dangerous) than Crossroads.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun:
    • One of Flick's classmates, Scout, is soon given a Magitek sniper rifle that's as long as she is tall.
    • Rebecca Jameson is both shorter than Scout and has a bigger gun.
  • Space Cold War: Well, Masquerade Cold War, at any rate. Crossroads and Eden's Garden Heretics maintain a dynamic like this. There are enough hostilities that neither side would really mind going to war. But any extended conflict between the two would do enough damage to leave humanity largely defenseless, and neither side has any desire to take that risk.
  • Superpower Lottery: With the exception of creatures like peridles (which only have a Healing Factor), the vast majority of Strangers/Alters have multiple powers and Heretics have no way of knowing what they'll get when they kill one beyond a list of possibilities. Thus, every time a Heretic kills a Stranger, they play a mini lottery. Unless they've killed that type of Stranger before, in which case it generally improves the power they already got.
    • For example, Flick and Shiori kill multiple members of the same race at one point. Flick gets the ability to control sand while Shiori gains the ability to shift her body into a sand state.
    • The range of powers gets even broader where alter hybrids and natural heretics are concerned. Most alter hybrids get one or two tricks. Most natural heretics get a limited range of powers dictated by what Alter they got the power from, plus magic. Reaper hybrids like Bastet and Reaper natural heretics like Gabriel Prosser get an improved version of heretic power absorption plus bonus powers. What Dragon-based natural heretics get is currently unknown, but the only dragon based heretic known to have existed was/is apparently stronger than Gabriel Prosser, and Fossor is scared of him even though he's (apparently) dead.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Three months into the school year and Crossroads Academy has to deal with a murder, two assassination attempts, an assault by a zombie horde, and Ammon breaking in. It's all arguably justified because the people responsible for all of this are a mole (who should know the security) and the child of Fossor and Joselyn, two people with a history of beating Crossroads Heretics in general and the school's security in particular. But the number of times this stuff gets past the teachers is a little ridiculous.
    • It turns out the Committee member in charge of Security is a willing Seosten agent, so in some cases things got past the security because the person in charge of security let them in.
    • The school's head of security is also possessed by the Seosten, so Crossroads security was compromised on every level.

     T - Z 
  • Take Me Instead: The reason Flick's mother abandoned her. Her kidnapper wanted Flick but Joselyn was able to convince him to take her instead.
  • Tell Me About My Mother: Flick has absolutely no desire to learn or think about her Missing Mom in any capacity until she finds out that Sheriff Chambers graduated from Crossroads in 1922. Then Flick finds herself very interested in her mother's past.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Crossroads keeps a therapist on staff who specializes in helping students, particularly Bystander-kin, deal with traumatic experiences.
  • Thermal Dissonance: The Crossroads campus is surrounded by protective shields which, among other things, regulate the temperature inside. New Bystander-kin are surprised to find the tropical island isn't that hot.
  • Transhuman: Heretics gain their powers by overwriting their genetics with those of the Strangers they kill. It's debatable if they can even be called human anymore. That said, most are Pro-Human Transhumans who still consider themselves baseline to the point where they will react violently to the notion that they're not.
    • Human vampires also count. They're baseline humans who partook in cursed Akharu blood, netting them all the superhuman abilities (and the need for blood) that comes with it.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Narrowly Averted in the backstory. This is what Fossor had planned for seven-year-old Felicity Chambers. Fortunately for her, he was convinced to leave her alone. At least until she turns eighteen.
    • The Seosten manipulate Isaac Acosta into becoming one of these.
  • Unbalanced by Rival's Kid: Subverted. Deveron Adams is unbalanced by his amnesiac wife's new husband, but not her child. And that's eclipsed by the knowledge of what happened to her.
  • Underground Railroad: A minority of Crossroads Heretics know full well that Strangers are not all evil and do their best to protect innocent nonhumans from their more enthusiastic comrades whenever possible while they try to change things are run. Entire communities of Strangers have been hidden by these people.
  • Unreliable Expositor: It's made clear early on that the Strangers are not the Always Chaotic Evil monsters the Crossroads Academy teachers paint them as, making a ton of the information presented there suspect since it relies on that incorrect assumption.
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: There are three sets of fraternal boy and girl twins in this story. Tristan and Vanessa Moon, Merakuel (who grew up to become Fossor) and his sister Rahanvael (who died millennia ago), and Flick's half siblings Wyatt Rendell and Abigail Fellows.
  • Unwitting Pawn: All of Crossroads started out as the unwitting pawns of the Seosten, who created the Heretical Edge to co-opt Heretics to use against their enemies and keep humanity isolated. The organization has since grown beyond their control, but they're still capable of directing them through the use of spies.
  • Urban Fantasy: Dangerous (and not so dangerous) magical creatures hidden by a Weirdness Censor in modern day society? Check. At least two secret societies of magic wielding humans that deal with them? Check. Magitek weapons? Check.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: While the majority of Strangers Heretics encounter are legitimately dangerous, some of them are just minding their own business.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Twister is a Pooka who can transform into various animals.
  • Weirdness Censor: Strangers hidden from bystander eyes, which allows them to hunt largely unimpeded. This goes beyond simply providing convienant disguises. Bystanders are incapable of even remembering anything supernatural. It's not natural either, but a curse cast by the Seosten to prevent humans from knowing that magic and other sapient species exist.
  • Wham Episode: Arc 5, Visitations. Just for starters, Flick meets Ammon. Things only go downhill from there. It ends with a Reveal that turn Flick's world upside down.
    • Arc 11, Facing Evil, turns into one when Flick arrives back in her dorm after a long school day only to find Ammon waiting for her there, with Avalon under his control. The kid seems to have a habit of making these. Later we get Flick's first face to face meeting with Gabriel Ruthers.
    • Arc 13 ends up being a doozy when a Fomorian shows up and spends a chapter playing Mr. Exposition to reveal important information about the history of his race, the Seosten, and humanity. And his actions result in Abigail Fellows becoming an Eden's Garden Heretic.
    • Arc 27: The Seosten finally move blatantly, and we find out why they can't just possess Flick. They can. She's not immune. But she is already taken. Sariel's daughter Tabby/Tabbris beat them all to the punch and is just hiding out inside of Flick.
      • And then they manage to send half of Flick's team and half of Roxa's team off to Seosten space.
  • Arcs 42 through 44, as the climax of the year, definitely serve as this. Flick and Avalon fight their way through the Seosten to retrieve the two halves of Liesje Aken's notes. Flick and Theia end up confronted by Kushiel, and Theia kills Kushiel with her own power. Avalon finds out Paschar, the man who's been trying to kill her for years, was in love with Liesje and told her her father was possessed, and then a memory of Liesje speaks to them. Then Aylen finds Avalon's group and brings them to save Flick from Radueriel and Abbadon, revealing her half-Reaper nature in the process. Just as the cast are celebrating their victory, Harper reveals herself as Lancelot and informs them that Gaia has been arrested for Counselor Oliver Brockett's murder (actually committed by Fossor) and the Committee are rounding up her associates, which include most of the cast. Harper manages to extract most of the cast and defeat Gabriel Ruthers in a one-on-one duel, but Sean is arrested and they fail to spring Gaia. However, Gaia and Flick activate the spell they've been working towards for months, revealing the truth about Joselyn and her rebellion to every Heretic in existence. In the resulting confusion, Lancelot and Gabriel Prosser evacuate a quarter of Crossroads to the Atherby Clan.
  • Wham Line: A fair number of these are Internal Reveals, shocking to the characters but not necessarily the audience. That said, there are still a number of lines that shock both sides of the fourth wall.
    • The last chapter of arc 9 ends with this:
    Nicholas Petan: The Seosten created what you call the Bystander Effect.
    • The final line of 12-05 casts a ton of doubt onto the history of Crossroads and its founder, Hieronymus Bosch.
    Deveron: He wasn’t the one who created the Edge, or the one who founded Crossroads, or who made up the entire rules of the society, or any of it. He was there. It was ‘him’, but it wasn’t Bosch the human. It was the Seosten who was controlling him.
    • 13-05 has a doozy as well, when a Fomorian has been given the chance to monologue and reveals the name of his people's greatest biological weapon.
    Homo Sapiens.
    • And again in 14-05, when Flick asks the summoned Mon that's been helping her throughout the arc who it really is:
    Monkey (writing on the dirt): My Felicity.
    Flick (drops the knife she was holding): ....Mom....?
    • Nicholas Petan's interlude gives a few in rapid succession, from a very surprising source.
    Nicholas Petan: Seosten.
    Future!Flick: Not quite. I just killed a couple and stole their power. But trust me, they really had it coming.
    Nicholas Petan: You do not… appear to be five years older.
    Future!Flick: I’m not. It’s only been about a year for me, since you sent Tristan back. And now I need you to do the same for me. Send me back four years, to when I… when I left. If you don’t, Fossor is going to use my mother to kill every Crossroads and Eden’s Garden Heretic in existence.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Discussed, Justified, then Subverted. The morality of mowing through mooks is brought up by Flick and Shiori, but is quickly laid to rest when Flick points out that the mooks in question attacked them without provocation. Then it gets Subverted later on when it's made very clear that the friends of some of the mooks she ends up killing due to a huge misunderstanding are not happy about it and want revenge.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: None at all, according to (most of) the Crossroads Heretics. Barely anything, according to (again, most of) the Eden's Garden Heretics. Exactly the same as humans, according to the story itself.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Flick and Shiori start laying into Gaia Sinclaire when she reveals that she was aware of their problems and left them in the dark for months (which she did out of necessity rather than choice).
    • Later, Koren delivers one to Flick when she discovers that Flick knew they were related for two weeks and didn't tell her, which inadvertently places her and her mother in danger of being discovered by Fossor because she didn't know to avoid Ammon.
    • Roxa Pittman is furious to learn that she was dropped into Lemuel's lap because of Flick.
  • Whodunnit??: A teacher is murdered within a week of the beginning of the school year. Also, someone in the school is trying to get Avalon killed, and is willing to get help from Eden's Garden to do it.
  • Windmill Crusader: Half the Crossroads Council voted to deny Flick entry to the school because they believe her mother Joselyn regained her memories and has restarted her revolution. They're convinced that Flick either knows where she is and is operating as a spy for her, or that she knows nothing but is susceptible to being recruited as one. What makes it a Windmill Crusade is the fact that they're ignoring the evidence of what's actually happening because it contradicts their assumption.
  • World Tree: Eden's Garden is based on a truly massive tree planted on an alien world from the blood of a Hangman Demon. Each tribe lives on one of eight massive branches, all of which are large enough to contain an entire city. It also grows the fruit they use to make new Heretics.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Well, at least long as that child is Ammon. Neither Asenath nor Flick have any problem stabbing him in the chest or throwing him through a window.
    • Fossor had every intention of kidnapping a seven-year-old child for the purpose of raising her to be his Tyke-Bomb servant. He was only talked out of it when presented with a deal that would immediately give him a different servant and allow him to take the child anyway once she reaches adulthood.
    • Fahsteth is practically gleeful when he's about to eat eleven year old Hannah Owens, only lamenting that he didn't have enough time to enjoy his meal.
    • To no one's surprise, Ruthers's (and his allies') hatred of Strangers extends to Alter infants and toddlers. They're perfectly willing to murder human babies as well.
    • Reggie Owens was an Abusive Parent before he became a vampire. Afterwards, he basically dedicated his life to murdering his daughter.
    • The Hiding Man kidnapped and murdered a number of young children solely as part of a Batman Gambit.
  • You Are What You Hate: Most Crossroads Heretics believe Strangers are Always Chaotic Evil at best or sub-human trash at worst. This is ironic when any objective viewpoint will quickly note that Heretics practically are Strangers. Which is outright confirmed when it's revealed how humans become Heretics. But don't tell Heretics that.
  • You Just Told Me: Flick uses this to get Calvin to reveal the exact location of his drug stash to Scott.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Joselyn Atherby's revolution in a nutshell. It was an uprising of Heretics from Crossroads and Eden's Garden that finally realized/were shown that Strangers are not Always Chaotic Evil along with Alters who joined up with them. They were trying to stop the indiscriminate slaughter, enslavement, and experimentation of innocent and peaceful Alters so everyone could focus on the Nocen that are actually evil. The more established Heretics saw this through the lens of their Fantastic Racism as a bunch of soft-hearted idiots at best and power-hungry traitors to humanity at worse who would doom the human race.
  • Zombie Advocate: Decades before the story starts, a Crossroads Heretic led a rebellion to stop Crossroads from killing all Strangers without bothering to learn if they actually deserve it. The Crossroads leaders eventually resorted to using magic to wiping all knowledge and memories of the advocate in question from the minds of everyone not exempted or protected from the spell.

"From the beginning of time until right now, everything that has ever happened was impossible until someone did it."


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