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Most Smiled Responses
"Da would win of course! He ain't scared've no zombie-galit-plods; he'd rip Dwayne's leg off and beat him in the face with it. If Dwayne tried spellery Da would pull his two First Silver daggers and cut the khert all 'round him so no spells'd connect, and then he'd tear forward and put 'em in Dwayne's neck! No one in the world doughty and dreadful as me Da!"
Silver daggers, you say? That is useful information.
"I was born knowin' how to buz! First pocket I ever picked was ma's; plucked meself right out from 'twixt her legs and she didn't even know I'd gone 'til the midwife screamed and pointed at the infant escapin' out the window with everyone's purses."
Ha, the blighter left the world before I was finished with Seminary. He was afraid of me, I suppose.
"Afraid've makin' your da cry if he fought ya again and killed ya."
Would you like to duel me, Miss Frummagem? A dry duel: daggers for yourself, and I'll restrain myself to my belt.
"If I had t'duel you I'd just throw a pig steak at your face and stab your head when you were all myeaarrrgghhbwaaains eatin' it on all fours. Ever been in a street duel? I killed seventeen people last year with a BOOT."
It is a dull man who looks to the inexplicable and assigns an explanation to God. This is often the course of the Gefendur, who blame every shudder of the earth and speck in their coffee on some dyspeptic caprice of the Eldest Sister. The Ssaelit are not so presumptuous. What interest would Ssael have in the life - or death - of one unspectacular Aldishman? What purpose does my plight serve?
But even Ssael, as we all are, is slave to the custodianship of the khert.
I am not so foolish that I do not realise this is a punishment; that I erred so grievously in another life that upon my death the khert itself rejected me, committing me to this state to purge my sins. In life I rose above my born station, a life the khert assigned me, and I fouled its plans, so it corrects them now. The Great System will ever catch you in its teeth in the end.
I cursed and spit and railed against it once, but the khert has ears only for pymary. I struggled and thrashed but it does not hold you with hands. I asked for a word of mercy, a word of comfort, but the khert has no mouth.
It is Ssael who has all of these things. He cannot change this, and he does not want me, but
If only I had some knowledge of what has damned me to this, I
No, it is enough to realise I took too much, yet did ever as Ssael asked. I denied the khert and took too much but I served my Lord until that last moment. That is enough!
"Lord Nihil the LICHLORD. He controls an army of plods and vampires and wererats and weredogs and werebats and-"
Warehouses and wherefores and wherewithals.
"Shut up, foreigner! You dunno about the undead menace! You ARE the undead menace!"
My lungs are not pymarics - they are made of tanned leather and hog bladders
"Ahahaha! Pig pee breath!"
...my windpipe is molded rawhide. It is the delicate vocal folds alone that are pymarics, a fine arrangement if I do say so myself. There was a great degree of interference between the folds and my eyes for months, and even now when the khert is troubled they interfere with each other. I've a kill word installed into the pymaric cords however, so I can cease and sequester their enchantment when it's necessary, allowing my eyes a wide, stable field in which to function. It is not a perfect system but I am still here. It must suffice.
There are grim days when it strikes me I am more ensorcellment than man. Through stitch and spell, leather, bandage, and wire I bully this vessel through a sea of days when mayhap justice should have seen it sunk long ago. But you must eat, aye? Eat and breathe and pump your hot blood-pulse. So too must I submit to my strange, cold biology and pray my being isn't damnation in itself.
"Ya put me in mind've Bodkin. Only, Da cuffs him 'cross the gob when he prates on with his blood-fouled tongue. Da says ya spill blood, you're gonna tread in blood, and you're gonna track that blood everywhere ya walk. Asides, Yerta rewards a person as follows the Law. Me and Duane 'vadin' that crypt ended poorly 'cause it's against her Law to disturb the dead. Later I kept Dwayne from killin' the guard in the wood and I met with fantastic fortunes in the city! Against the Plats, we fought courteous and square and escaped even the law and that stoopendous construct! The Twins is watchin' always, and a clever cove trusts in 'em."
You DO have a sense of morality! It is twisted and malformed, but it does thrive!
"Course I got morals! Pig-stoopidity like yours and Bodkins' is why the whole world needs a dictator like me to conquer it and make it a more better place."
Women of good character and breeding, clear-headed, comely, and eager; wiser than I but too kind to shame me for 't.
"And enormous bosoms."
Another asked this and I advised coffee. Do none of you sleep?
The entire Temple was upset by my placement. Concerne Abadie, the second most powerful politician in the country, called my placement a base appeal by the desperate Shadwe to the fence-sitters among the Mmatont. I demanded satisfaction from him for this slight against the Shadwe, who is a great and brilliant man, and on a cold day broke his surrogate's legs in the Temple courtyard. Yet there was naught I might do to tease acceptance from my brethren. I stopped trying. I focused instead on my duties and on pleasing Shadwe Clare and Rector Argenti, ever my friends within the Temple.
"I know what that's like when won't no one let ya fit in. They do it for jealousy. Da says greatness is a burden. We're burdened great people, Dwayne, and no mistake. That's why ya like me! I'm you but small and with a tail and not a absolute disappointment in all areas of life and roguery."
With verse taught to me by my mother when I was a boy, I might answer both of your questions at once:
For centuries four the poor Copper thrive;
Shunned by the khert they somehow survive.
At two centuries and a half the Jet tail the red,
Blue of eye, keen of wit, bright schemes in each head.
The childish Silver live half a century at most,
Brave warriors, these kinsmen, but not too proud to boast.
For thirty years holy Platinum suffer and pine,
They are the Twins' beloved, and their arts brightest shine.
Finally the mud-coloured Bronze lurk and skulk in-between,
Unpredictable are their years; two-hundred? Nineteen?
These are your good countrymen, yellow-haired child.
They are Dammakhert-bound and Dammakhert-styled.
Your kind come from east, from the mountains of Tain,
One mortal man's lifetime is how long you'll remain.
You and your countrymen - children of fair Alderode!
They are who they are, and we are the Gold.
What a lout I must seem, singing incessant paeans to Alderode while knocking down at every turn the institutions of all other lands. In my fervour to serve as fit ambassador I am surely losing your sympathy.
"You're bein' a prat and no mistake."
I apologise. Ulestry is a beautiful country. The unspoilt Westgate range are the most beautiful peaks I've seen, surpassing by far the strip-mined and overhunted horison of Alderode's Gold mountains. The forests and streams seem touched by divinity, and I can understand why the pilgrim's path - the same road the Gefendur say Tirna travelled - cuts through them. Sharteshane may be a crime-ridden land but its navy is efficient, doughty, and beyond reproach. It far outstrips the Aldish fleet.
"What else? What else about Sharteshane is the best?"
It produced a betailed urchin of undeniable charm and wit with a fearsome spring, a ready blade, and the nose of the hoariest boar-hog.
"Awwwww. I knew ya could be sweet if ya really wanted. Gimme a foot rub, corpse-slave."
Indeed, these men exist. In Alderode they are called Aseptics, or the Crow Men. You never wish to see them for it is likely to be your last sight in this world.
I must say this talk of the opera stirs my memory and soothes my heart. The opera house was the haunt of the privileged and the impoverished alike; the working class had their penny adventures at Daught Hill, the elite their lavish productions at The Golden Claw, but ever was Durlyne a city of song, and everyone knew the words.
Most, you must realise, treated the Claw like a social club, putting in an appearance only to show off their wives or talk of the latest scandals in the countryside, but I was ever in attendance only for the music; for the melodrama of the histories, the soaring celebration of the triumphant arias, the creative coloratura of the most accomplished sopranos, the climactic deaths, the lovelorn suicides, the final note that beads like a tear on the clear cheek of the welkin, tremulous, glistening, until it rolls free and you find it clinging to your own eyelashes.
Ah, the theatre! Where no evil deed goes unpunished and love is eternal.
As a lad I had a certain friend whose ire it was unwise to earn. He would wait until a handsome creature approached and then... what is the euphemism popular today... "tent the trousers" of us all, sending her shrieking from our company and the rest of us batting at our beglamoured crotches.
Beglamoured acne... not the most honourable act, I say.
If I cannot do what is right, what reason is there to drag one foot in front of the other from hour to hour? Better to burn in the pursuit of Good than to steal one more dismal day from Eternity's pocket by turning away from a town, a neighbourhood, an individual in distress.
"It's true. They don't never shut up."
"...aye? I heard tell once that his Majesty's a poofter and spends all his days queerin' about with other poofters while the Chancellor and navymen and gen'rals run the big government-gang, but I didn't think it were accurate. But wait, if your da's a poofter, how'd you get here? Did ya come out his backside? Dwayne, can two blokes make a-"
I am not here.
I trained aspirants into fieldwrights and lead land forces in domestic excursions. My final title was Fourth Motadwe of his Excellency Shadwe Clare's Llede Llemaesa, his personal forces apart from but in cooperation with the Conciliatory Army of Alderode.
"But you was in the Aldish army before, I thought!"
As a young man I served three years as a fieldwright in the Order of Chinoll, a division of the Conciliatory Army. I fought in the Foi Hellick rebellion, pushed Sonorie forces out of Avelpit, and saved the life of one of the young sons of a Temple of Song official. For this I was plucked from the army and into Temple service, swiftly climbing the ranks to finally hold a position one of my common birth had little right to.
Likewise is it a pleasure for me to make your acquaintance, madam. I must correct you, however: I am not "living forever"; I am dying indefinitely.
Duane Adelier & Sette...’s Bio
Ethelmik, Cresce (presently)
Sette can neither read nor write so I'm afraid you'll have to rely on Duane to act as intermediary. Ask either of them anything but do keep it civil, or Sir Adelier is likely to take offense.