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In memory of Flyin' Black Jackson
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File 156777663042.png - (1.09MB , 1000x1000 , GD Panel 1.png )
944457 No. 944457 ID: 4075a1

Welcome
Expand all images
>>
No. 944458 ID: 4075a1
File 156777667272.png - (1.04MB , 1000x1000 , GD Panel 2.png )
944458

We are the roe, the run of the red
fleshed fish spawning up the river to die.
We are the lichen, crawling
up logs long since ancient and rotten
and fallen on soil as deep as the sky.

>>
No. 944459 ID: 4075a1
File 156777670571.png - (1.33MB , 1000x1000 , GD Panel 3.png )
944459

We are this, but much more. What is said
by a god becomes truth in the hour
of its speaking—but, after all, tallest falls
the one tree that can fall when calls
the beyond, power bridging to power.

>>
No. 944460 ID: 4075a1
File 156777675131.png - (1.13MB , 1000x1000 , GD Panel 4.png )
944460

You climb the branch now; you run the red
river; you walk among those who cannot understand.
You take what is yours as soft clay in the hand,
and when, in the end, as we must, we strand
ourselves without fear on those limitless sands—

>>
No. 944461 ID: 4075a1
File 156777678612.png - (1.26MB , 1000x1000 , GD Panel 5.png )
944461

we leave no pile of mullet, no leaf litter dead;
leave only the songs and the shapes that we’ve shed.


Maker Podea diSoci
Arrived - 1326 Departed - 4534

Artist: GraphyGraphie, https://twitter.com/GraphyGraphie (NSFW)
Sonnet by B. Baylor, used with permission.
>>
No. 944462 ID: 4075a1
File 156777683711.png - (1.01MB , 1000x1000 , GD Panel 6.png )
944462

“This is a once in a lifetime shot, Asher. The bastard ain’t gonna die twice.”
>>
No. 944463 ID: 4075a1
File 156777688946.png - (926.81KB , 1000x1000 , GD Panel 7.png )
944463

“Then go yourself and lemme get on in peace. I have to finish peeling before dinner.” Fingers gives a little snort.

“Kitchen’s Poles job and she’s skippin’ to see the execution too. Why do we gotta miss out?”

“You don’t! Just go without me. I told her I’d do this so I’m gonna.”

“Nah, see,” He waves my words away. “I found this perfect spot to watch from without no Tats or Lanks to get in the way. I just don’t got the muscles to get there, so I need your help. I’ll lend you a hand later, I promise! Ain’t I good for it?”

He is. And he ain’t gonna shut up about this if I don’t go. But Ma’am always says you should finish what you start, and I started peeling already.
>>
No. 944464 ID: 736b7e

Duty comes first.
>>
No. 944465 ID: b3c4cf

Go with him and help him. The opportunity isn't to be wasted.

Also, take some of the stuff with you and peel it there.
>>
No. 944466 ID: 094652

Take some potatoes with you and skin between shows.
>>
No. 944468 ID: ad51b8

tell him to help you peel so you can get down faster.
>>
No. 944469 ID: e7c7d3

Just go. You won't be able to finish peeling with him pestering you the entire time anyways.
>>
No. 944470 ID: 8d4593

Sometimes life ain't tidy. Especially with things that just happen once happen.

The potatoes will be here when you get back.
If there's no time to then you can just cut off the greens and let everyone eat some peel.

Go.
>>
No. 944474 ID: 4cf79d

>>944466
Agree
>>
No. 944475 ID: bf2179

>>944463
you definitely need to finish.
doesn't mean you have to finish now
>>
No. 944476 ID: eb1fcc

>>944466
yeah, just take the sack with. Good exercise, and you can snack on the potato skins during the show
>>
No. 944477 ID: 977456

Sing the Peeling song. It is like the rawhide song, but minimally changed to be about potato peeling.
>>
No. 944479 ID: 0fae41

You have peeled your last potato. Get thee to the gallows!
If he can't see past the lanky fellows, that's not their problem. Has he tried using stilts?
>>
No. 944481 ID: 79390c

>>944463
Stick to peeling, the fact that that brat doesn't understand the concept of duty (and functioning like an adult) is his problem
>>
No. 944483 ID: 79390c

>>944463
Stick to peeling, the fact that that brat doesn't understand the concept of duty (and functioning like an adult) is his problem
>>
No. 944506 ID: 86794b

Bring potatoes with; peel on the way.
>>
No. 944507 ID: 86794b

>>944462
Also that was a very neat transition
>>
No. 944508 ID: b1b4f3

>>944463
Tell him if he helps you finish peeling these before the execution you'll go.
>>
No. 944531 ID: 761ace

Bring a sack of potatoes to peel with you
>>
No. 944584 ID: 15a025

Take some and peel while you "watch" the show.
>>
No. 944787 ID: e5e15e
File 156817135181.png - (1.12MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 8.png )
944787

“Fine. Lemme just ask if I can peel these while we watch.”

“You don’t gotta ask ‘em Asher, just skip out.” He says.

“I’ll meet you outside.”
>>
No. 944788 ID: e5e15e
File 156817138749.png - (780.68KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 9.png )
944788

“Excuse me, sir? Is it okay if I-”
>>
No. 944789 ID: e5e15e
File 156817143221.png - (0.98MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 10.png )
944789

“If you’re finished with the potatoes start washing the vegetables.”

“But-”

“I don’t care, Pole.”

“I’m not-”

Go back to work.

“Y-yes, sir.” It’ll be fine. Probably.
>>
No. 944790 ID: e5e15e
File 156817148638.png - (1.10MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 11.png )
944790

“Do you know who’s doing the opening prayers?” I ask.

“Who do you think? Steel ain't never missed a chance to jack off Ol’ Nine Eyes all over a crowd.” I give Fingers a light slap to the back of the head.

“Don’t talk like that about her. You’ll get bad habits.” He’s rolling his eyes, I can tell. “I’m telling the truth. Say that in front of a stickler and you’ll be down another finger.”

“I get it, I get it.” He puts his diamond voice on, high and whiny. “Preceptor Braddiosium Steel, Steward of the Prophet and like a thousand other dumb things, will grace us with his presence today and speak to us the words of the Nameless. Happy?”

“Yeah, keep it up.” He snorts out a chuckle.

We walk in silence for a minute before he speaks up again.

“Hey, I know you don’t go to these things a lot. After you muscle a bit you ain’t gotta stick around.”
>>
No. 944795 ID: b1b4f3

>>944790
That's right. Gotta go back and deliver the goods.
>>
No. 944797 ID: 4cf79d

"You already disrupted my work, so I might as well watch what all the fuss is about."
>>
No. 944799 ID: 0fae41

"I told you I'd do this so I'm gonna."
>>
No. 944800 ID: 094652

"Just keep peeling potatoes while we're there - wait, we should get another bag to put the unpeeled ones in."
>>
No. 944823 ID: 83bf07

>>944790
You have potatoes to peel. You'll keep yourself occupied while he watches.
>>
No. 944826 ID: e98d61

>>944789
Is he always like that? The chef, I mean. He seems pretty out of it.
>>
No. 944827 ID: b3c4cf

>about her
>his presence
So this Steel person is a male, while the so-called Nine Eyes is a female? Or is it just that Steel is a female, but male in a public eye?

>Asher
Those runes on those guys... is that some sort of a disease? How long do they take to claim someone?

Hope that wherever we're going isn't too far as that bag of potatoes (is that really what this vegetable is called?) looks heavy. What do you know about these events?
>>
No. 944949 ID: 509e5e
File 156837234912.png - (1.25MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 12.png )
944949

>Get another bag to put the unpeeled ones in.
There’s one in there with the potatoes.

>Is he always like that? The chef, I mean.
Don’t know, never met him before. Pole says he yells at her a lot, but she’s lazy so he probably has a reason to.

>Those runes on those guys... is that some sort of a disease?
Every tat I’ve ever seen has them, and they live longer than we do, so it ain’t that bad a sickness if it is.

>That bag of potatoes looks heavy.
It’s pretty light. Fingers could carry this and he’s weak for his age.

"I told you I'd do this so I'm gonna. None of our’s are getting hung, right?"

“Naw, just that murderer from a while back, a thumb or three, and the fat bastard. Won’t take too long. Now hurry up!”
>>
No. 944950 ID: 509e5e
File 156837238026.png - (1.12MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 13.png )
944950

“Up here, Asher! One a’ the rockeaters told me they shut that tunnel up a few years ago. Leads right above the execution grounds.”
>>
No. 944951 ID: 509e5e
File 156837243878.png - (0.96MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 14.png )
944951

“You wanted to move something this big why didn’t you call Junkyard? She could lift this thing out the way.”

“Junkyard woulda said no. You’re always a pushover, Asher. Gotta work on that, by the way.”

“Yeah, yeah.” I put the potatoes down and brace myself against the stone. After straining for a moment, it starts shifting. I use its own weight to help tip it and roll it out the way, revealing a pitch-black tunnel.
>>
No. 944952 ID: 509e5e
File 156837247988.png - (873.68KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 15.png )
944952

“How’re we gonna get through this tunnel?” I ask. “It’s dark as hell.”

“Your head still workin’ Asher? I always gots what we need.” He replies.

The next second my shadow casts across the tunnel and I turn to see Fingers shining a huge lump of sunstone.

“Where’d you get so much?”

“Mongers love to charity us three-fingered kids, even if they don’t know it.” He cackles.
>>
No. 944953 ID: 0efe8e

What does the rune on the rock mean? We might not want to use this path if it's marked as dangerous.
>>
No. 944956 ID: b3c4cf

>pushover
Tell him that he should suck your dick also if he's so good at dealing with Mongers. Also, to stop stealing because he's only got so many fingers.

Carefully proceed through the tunnel.
>>
No. 944960 ID: a9af05

>>944952
Let's get this over with. Proceed through the tunnel.
>>
No. 944961 ID: e7c7d3

This guy seriously doesn't learn their lesson, huh? Well, you've already gone this far, into the tunnel you go.
>>
No. 944982 ID: 0fae41

Do not let this child tempt you down a path of darkness!
Break off a piece of sunstone for yourself.
>>
No. 945024 ID: e7848c

>>944949
He's going to keep losing my fingers like this. Follow at a distance.
>>
No. 945040 ID: ce39da

We follow, but aren’t letting him off easy: “You ought to cut that out before you find yourself cut down to two. Or did you sleep through class when those lessons were carved into you?” ... “Not a hard-ass, just worried. Honest work takes About the same effort when you break it down and isn’t liable to get you hurt if you mess up. I’m only looking out for you.”
>>
No. 945077 ID: 977456

"Three Fingers" is apparently a specific group. I doubt that there are many two or four fingers. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing for repeat offenders I wouldn't care to speculate.
>>
No. 945095 ID: 15a025

There going to end up calling you finger instead if you keep stealing stuff. Take a little bit of the stone for yourself now and proceed into the tunnel.
>>
No. 945191 ID: d0e415

Well, no excuse now. Proceed through yon tunnel so you can go watch people die for crimes they probably didn’t commit. Wholesome family fun.

That art is bloody beautiful, and it seems like there’s a ton of lore behind everything. I’m impressed, and intrigued. Bravo.
>>
No. 945212 ID: e98d61

>>944949
Statue's having a little leer at us, and looking pretty smug about it too.

>>944952
Does Fingers know why the tunnel was closed-off in the first place? We're not about to get caught in the middle of a cave-in, are we?
>>
No. 945222 ID: e5e15e
File 156871780673.png - (766.32KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 16.png )
945222

>What does the rune on the rock mean?
No clue. The slissas slap these on any tunnel they touch and I can’t read ‘em. I mean, I can’t read anyway, but especially not this stuff.

>Break off a piece of sunstone.
Sunstone is hard to break, even with a pickaxe. I couldn’t do it with my bare hands, and I’d mess up the knife if I tried to use it.

I grab my bag and step inside first
“You’re gonna get caught one day and be one of the thumbs on the noose yourself.”

“I don’t need a lecture Asher, ‘cause I don’t get caught.” I glance back into the light of the sunstone and can just make out his hand going into his pocket.

“I’m not trying to be a hard-ass,” I say “I’m just worried. You need to learn to keep your head down, or if you can’t do that stand out in ways that aren’t gonna get you hurt if you mess up. I’m only looking out for you.”

He grumbles something under his breath and I don’t push it this time.
>>
No. 945223 ID: e5e15e
File 156871782964.png - (639.38KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 17.png )
945223

I see a soft light ahead.

“This it?” I ask.

“Yeah, rockeaters said it was about halfway through this hole. I can already hear Steel.”

I set the bag down and take out the knife, leaning back against the cracked wall. “See him?”

“Yeah, he’s tied up. I’ll see ‘em die in a minute.” He pauses. “Hey, Asher. After he’s dead, what happens to ‘em?” He asks.

“They take the bodies outside to burn, I think.”

“Not that.”

“Oh. Well, I mean, it’s like the Preceptors say during sermon. Nine Eyes takes your spirit and brings you to her realm, and rewards us by our worldly deeds.” I grab a potato out of the bag and start peeling.

“And you believe that?”
>>
No. 945226 ID: b3c4cf

I'll tell you once I meet her.

Or she meets us. Does there exist any evidence of Nine Eyes ever descending upon this world?

Let's enjoy the sights.
>>
No. 945228 ID: 736b7e

Are there other gods we should know about? We should maybe shop around to compare afterlife options before we have to claim one. Who knows when that might come up.
>>
No. 945232 ID: 094652

"Why do the gods never come to visit in person, even just to punish us for our misdeeds, no matter how many sacrifices and holy wars we perform in their name? I think something went horribly wrong a long time ago. Not like we can ever do anything about it though."
>>
No. 945239 ID: e7c7d3

"What other options are there? If it's not Nine Eyes taking our spirits, then it's some other entity doing the same thing. All in all, just make sure you're doing what you can."
>>
No. 945240 ID: 977456

Now that you mention it... Does it just seem more likely that it is just an endless ocean of giant mosquitoes that drain out all your courage, determination, hope... everything that could keep you going, and then send the withered husk of your being out into the endless void to slowly disperse into a formless cloud of despair and uselessness? I mean, mosquitoes are everywhere, right? They gotta come from somewhere. Just makes sense...
>>
No. 945274 ID: e5e15e

Artist Credit: GraphyGraphie
I fucked up and forgot to credit the artist for this, GraphyGraphie. Totally my bad. It's fixed now but you can't credit too much so just in case people miss it their twitter is https://twitter.com/GraphyGraphie (NSFW).
>>
No. 945339 ID: a13082

>>945274
So then, you're doing all the writing and Graphie is doing purely art?
>>
No. 945368 ID: e5e15e

Essentially.
>>
No. 945393 ID: 4cf79d

As long as the dead can't do anything in this world it doesn't matter what happens to them, as far as the living are concerned they are gonne.
>>
No. 945496 ID: ce39da

"Only one way to find out, and I'm not ready for that yet."
>>
No. 945520 ID: 977456

Can you still feel your fingers? They'd know...
>>
No. 945542 ID: 15a025

Just say, if I didn't and I was wrong. Well, not sure I'd want to find out what would happen.
>>
No. 945819 ID: e5e15e
File 156946737219.png - (1.25MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 18.png )
945819

>”We stepped on the path as seven, but reached its end as five. All of you have heard this phrase. I have said it on this stage many times. Yet I often wonder, do we know what it means? Have we learned its lesson?”



“I’ll tell you when I meet her and she makes me chief potato peeler.” I pop a skin into my mouth. “You just gotta do what you can, Fingers. Don’t worry too much about it.”

“That ain’t a answer. I’m askin' if you believe in those statues. It’s yes or no.”
>>
No. 945820 ID: 0fae41

You'd best start believing in those statues if they start moving.
>>
No. 945825 ID: 094652

"I believe there really was a divine message sung to our ancestors. Whatever the priests are saying right now? That isn't it.

Even if the words stayed the same, their meaning hasn't. Why the hell does five gods ascending in the past mean five people must be executed today?"
>>
No. 945829 ID: 765049

It doesn’t have much to do with normal life, so why bother believing or disbelieving? Leave that to the philosophers.
>>
No. 945831 ID: e7848c

Simple answers are for simple minds. Are you simple minded?
>>
No. 945835 ID: af1a4b

Dunno, i’d like to believe but I’m having trouble without proof that any of it is real. It’s not like we see miracles just happen in front of us.
>>
No. 945844 ID: a13082

"Absolutely", in a sarcastic tone. "And you?"
>>
No. 945845 ID: 977456

Well... there was that time a couple year's back when Carn The Prude went Main Street Turning people inside-out for wolf-whistling at him. It was pretty convincing...
>>
No. 945849 ID: ce39da

"That's the best answer you're getting. I never bothered with thinking about whether it was all real, 'cause there's only one way to find out for sure. And I'm fine not knowing until I finally kick it."
>>
No. 945853 ID: 8d4593

No.
They's too convenient.
They're the candle in the dark that paints our world in a flickering light, but when day comes we still only see the shadows.
>>
No. 945863 ID: e7c7d3

I believe in the statues, but not in the guy at the podium.
>>
No. 945868 ID: a9af05

>>945863
This
>>
No. 945923 ID: 162b79

>>945849
That.
>>
No. 945957 ID: 2df440

>>945863
this
>>
No. 946002 ID: e5e15e
File 156972108992.png - (1.36MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 19.png )
946002

>”One of our envious Lords more important titles is Pedagogue. As Their children we must strive to exceed even Their lofty expectations of us. To take more than is given. To grow until we have no need to turn from the face of the Pedagogue and towards the face of the Executioner. I am getting ahead of myself, however. We must explore the lesson first.”



“I’ve never seen a miracle, but maybe Nine Eyes just decided we don’t need none. Going on and on about her like a diamond ain’t gonna do anyone no good, and they don’t say anything new anyway.” I shrug. “Why do you care if I believe in them statues anyway?”

“I don’t know. You wouldn’t lie, I guess. And if you believed in it than I could too.”
>>
No. 946005 ID: 8d4593

Well then I'll say this:
I'm not one to question the gods, I'm sure they watch over us somehow when we die... but that man down there, the Preceptor.
Look at his face.
That's not the face of an honest man.

The god's live in the scriptures and in the heart. Not in the mouths of those who look down on us.
>>
No. 946009 ID: 0fae41

Are you simply looking for a way to rationalize your faith in gods? Believe in them if you wish, or don't. The gods believe in you.
>>
No. 946010 ID: b1b4f3

>>946002
Find your own belief. This one's mine.
>>
No. 946014 ID: 15a025

If it keeps you out of trouble more, than the answer you seek is yes.
>>
No. 946015 ID: 977456

Well, there is the fact that you aren't sure if they exist, and the fact that you aren't sure if this is what they want. That means that they either won't, or can't, offer convincing guidance. If they won't, then they are presenting a test without providing the means of succeeding, and know that many will fail, and carry on regardless, which makes them... it's not fair, kind, nor helpful, they're not the sort of beings we want to associate with.

If they can't, wither because they don't exist or just don't have the means, then either they lack the means to provide what we need, or at least lack the means to give us a chance to get it, which is tragic, but we can only work with what we have. It doesn't matter that we can fly if we don't know how and nobody can show us.
>>
No. 946016 ID: e7848c

There's a lot of things in life you have to figure out for yourself. Your faith is one of them.
>>
No. 946017 ID: 094652

"The priests would kill anyone who claims their faith in the gods comes from the actions of other mortals. That says a lot. Including shut the hell up and we'll talk about this out of earshot."
>>
No. 946090 ID: e6c422

So, what else do you know about this Steel person?
>>
No. 946163 ID: 2df440

kome, I’m actually pretty sure we’re out of earshot if anyone down below
>>
No. 946169 ID: e5e15e
File 156990231206.png - (609.10KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 20.png )
946169

>”Seven tribes followed the Prophet here. Five tribes entered to stay. Toiler. Artisan. Martinet. Preceptor. Monger. The brothers and sisters that stand next to you. There is wisdom to be found in all of Their works, but to find the meaning behind this outcome we must ask ourselves: Why did two tribes not make it?”



“Fingers… I don’t know more than you about this stuff. If she’s around she’s around, with or without you or me worryin’ about her. I’m fine leavin’ and being left alone but… maybe you can find her for yourself? Keep yourself busy doing that instead of stealin’ if it bothers you this much.”

“Don’t bother me. Nothin’ bothers me. I just want to know if here is the best I got.” He flexes his three fingers. “If she’s real then she gotta want me down here for a reason. If she ain’t then I got born wrong. I coulda been dropped out of a momma where the sun shines and at least caught a glance at it before I die.”
>>
No. 946171 ID: 0fae41

You'll have plenty of time left to find the sun if you stop squandering it, you know. Go forth, and create opportunity!
>>
No. 946172 ID: e7c7d3

We all want to know our purpose in this world. 'Cause we all want something better than we got, and not end up like those five, decorations on the end of a rope.
>>
No. 946173 ID: 977456

Maybe tomorrow some rich bozo will pop in and give you all the world's riches and a solid-gold ticket to the sunniest spot in the world. Is it worth hoping for? Sure, Doesn't cost a thing! Doesn't make sense to plan for it though. Best you can do is plan for what you know, hope for what you want, and brace for the rest. If you want it to all be worth something, or for some miracle to make everything good? Then sure, of course it'll happen, but don't plan for it, and brace for all the folk who you hate to have gotten there first and taken all the best spots for themselves. We can't know what's right, just what's the right choice given what we know, which is nothin' about the dead and everythin' about me not getting though all this peeling...
>>
No. 946174 ID: 8d4593

You try'na tell me you wanna run away to another world, fingers? You could do it, but what if you don't like what you find up there? You'll need to be prepared. More prepared than you've ever been. Supplies to get you by indefinitely, even if there's no people to steal from. Food, waterskins, huntin supplies, buildin tools.

You could also use a wingman to keep you from gettin yourself killed, if you know what I mean...
>>
No. 946175 ID: 83bf07

I guess you have to change the world if you want to see the sun. Are you going to change the world from in this hole?
>>
No. 946214 ID: 81cd19

Ask him if he tried desecrating the Nine Eyes' shrines and statues yet.
>>
No. 946395 ID: e5e15e
File 157015585917.png - (1.19MB , 1000x1000 , GD Panel 21.png )
946395

>”Wait. I know what you are thinking. They were deficient. They lacked the fortitude to survive the borderlands and make it to our new home. But that is incorrect. One by one each laprine is molded by The Sculptor, and our lost siblings are no exception. None that They make can be less than perfectly suited for the tasks They bestow, for are we not Their own image? Made to adapt and overcome!”



“You ain’t… messed with anything of hers, right?”

“No. I ain’t dumb Asher.”

“‘Cause…” I throw a thumb at the condemned.

“No shit.”

“If you wanna go outside one day there are toiler jobs that’ll put you up top. You got the time to impress the right guys if you-”

“Ain’t no good adult detail gonna take me missin’ two. I’m goin' to the mines.”

“...So what, you try'na tell me you wanna run away?” He doesn’t answer back.
>>
No. 946396 ID: e7c7d3

Are you going to have to go and protect him?
>>
No. 946398 ID: 0fae41

Try prosthetics, and maybe gloves. Lying, cheating and stealing has got you this far, right?
>>
No. 946400 ID: 8d4593

What do you think you'll find up there?

Do you think the greater world more, or less disgusting than what's going on down there?

Gods. Look at them. At least two of them did nothing wrong this time.

The guy in the middle's gonna end up choking to death if he keeps squirming like that.
>>
No. 946413 ID: af1a4b

Oh shit you are gonna run away...
I ain’t gonna tell you not to but you better think long and hard about this.
Just think If it’s the right choice for you and what you need to do it right i guess.
>>
No. 946415 ID: 977456

Wow, look at the ears on her! Not too happy about how, uhh, tortured some of them look. Do they really need to rough them up on the way to the gallows?
>>
No. 946450 ID: 83bf07

Do you guys have anything tying you to your current lives here?
>>
No. 946451 ID: 91ee5f

>>946395
All of these guys look pretty beat up. Except for that fat guy on the far right, he doesn’t look like he got beat up at all. Why is that?
>>
No. 946463 ID: 81cd19

Tell him to think twice before he does anything dangerous next time.
>>
No. 946560 ID: fd5772

>>946395
The kid needs to take his mind off how sucky not having three fingers is. Start a guessing game 'bout what them five did wrong to end up on the gallows. I bet the fat one is a monger who did some thievery worse than Fingers would ever dream a doing. That one on the left looks defiant, like maybe she said something wrong but think its true. Like some sorta heretic. Maybe they're all heretics?
>>
No. 946565 ID: c15cc3

>>946560
Well for starters, which one is the one you specifically came here to see die?
>>
No. 946592 ID: 15a025

You even got some kind of plan for that fingers?
>>
No. 946652 ID: e5e15e
File 157041820888.png - (1.31MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 22.png )
946652

>”I say to look to ourselves instead. The five remaining tribes. Do we not make a perfect society? Strength, skill, integrity, intelligence, and... endurance. The answer to why the other two tribes fell to the wayside is because they were not needed. We united and have thrived for centuries because we balanced ourselves, expelling those who would unsteady us. Stability requires work! Sacrifice! Selflessness! They taught us this lesson... and that is why we find ourselves here today.”



“Do you think what's down here is less dangerous than outside?” I snap. “What do you even think you'll find up there? Do you think it’ll be better when there won’t be Ma’am or Junkyard around to protect you? You got plans to deal with the brutes and devils?”

He stares down at the stage. I’m not even sure if he’s still listening.

“You got friends down here, right? You want to leave us and everything else we know? Think this through, for once in your life.” I point below. “That fat bastard down there caught you once doing something stupid, you think you won’t get caught again and hung like the thumbs?”

“I wasn’t lyin’,” He whispers. “He didn’t catch me. I didn’t do nothin’ for him to catch.”
>>
No. 946655 ID: e7c7d3

That's even worse, getting in trouble for what you didn't even do. You clearly want something better. But running away with nothing isn't how you get there.
>>
No. 946658 ID: 094652

>Strength, Skill, Integrity, Intelligence, and... endurance.
Ten internet points says the priests are controlling everyone by hoarding a monopoly in those other two remaining stats. Like charisma and wisdom.

>“He didn’t catch me. I didn’t do nothin’ for him to catch.”
"He doesn't need evidence or a working brain to take more than your limbs. Please stay far away from him period."
>>
No. 946659 ID: b1b4f3

If he's dead set on leaving, maybe he can bring someone with him.
Do you have a reason to stay, yourself?
>>
No. 946661 ID: 8d4593

You done any thinkin about this?
Cuz if you want me to go along with this you best make a good damn argument for why you wanna go.
Curiosity aint good enough. I ain't gonna let you get yourself killed cuz you wasn't thinkin.
>>
No. 946679 ID: 81cd19

If you're gonna leave... you're gonna need to be prepared.

>down here is less dangerous than outside
I'm confused. What is "down here"? What is up and what is down?
>>
No. 947016 ID: 15a025

Well lying or telling the truth, he's bad news fingers. Stay away from him if anything.

You even got survival skills? Know how to start a fire, find food and shelter on the go. Without stealing any of it? Not knocking you so much for it, but outside there might not be anyone or anything to steal from. You latching onto anything I'm saying here?
>>
No. 947228 ID: e5e15e
File 157122456913.png - (1.11MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 23.png )
947228

>”Artisan Moon Fon. We welcomed you into our bosoms from the wastes almost twenty years ago, over my own objections. You healed us when we were sick and injured and we gave you succor and sustenance. Yet you betrayed us and stole the lives of three brave Martinets attempting to escape justice. Your face tells me they took some small manner of retribution. The rest of us take our recompense now.”



“I was still on kid detail, doing all that little stuff the adults and teens don’t got time for. Cleanin’ rooms in the fuckin’ Monger Manor with them ignorin’ me like they do everyone.”
>>
No. 947229 ID: e5e15e
File 157122461272.png - (1.03MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 24.png )
947229

>”The three of you, criminals four times over, left your posts in the mine with stolen supplies and gold. Did you want to join the barbarians we saved Moon Fon from? Did you simply give in to your base laziness, shedding your yokes so your Toiler siblings had to carry more weight? It matters not. You have used up all your chances.”



“There was some yellin’ and Redkho comes bangin’ in, grabs my hand, and slams it on a table.”
>>
No. 947230 ID: e5e15e
File 157122468308.png - (1.01MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 25.png )
947230

>”You did not care.”



“I don’t even think he meant to take two. Just had shit aim.”
>>
No. 947231 ID: e5e15e
File 157122474490.png - (942.61KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 26.png )
947231

>”You’ve nothing left.”



“I’m bleedin’ and holdin’ my stumps on the floor and get to hear him whine to a Diamond that he had ‘punished the thief’. Figured out he offered me up as a quick excuse once I wasn’t cryin’.”
>>
No. 947233 ID: e5e15e
File 157122483601.png - (949.98KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 27.png )
947233

>”So you hang. Now. Finally. Monger Redkho.”



“...Why ain’t Steel droppin' him?” I hear a tinge of fear in his voice.
>>
No. 947234 ID: 094652

> Hanging
Yeah this is definitely a reign of terror. Even if they are guilty of mass theft of supplies, the least this smiling dickhead could do is let them speak before they're executed.

Poor kid didn't want to be a part of this.

> Is there anything you can do?
Well, you could shout and pretend to be snipers, so the forces will be further distracted. Other than that, leave.
>>
No. 947235 ID: ad51b8

either he's about to let him go as a show of mercy to make himself look better and subtly let everyone now their lives are in his hands or the more likely option of he's about to make an example out of the last guy... we should probably leave.
>>
No. 947236 ID: b233f0

>>947233
Maybe a pardon o' sort? The powerful gotta show mercy every once a while. Not to mention, Redkho did seem sorta smug right up 'till the end there. Maybe he thought one was a-comin'.

... did you set Redkho up?

You'll want to stay low if he's let loose and they figged it all out. I can leave you the peels here when I head back with the 'taters so you got somethin' for chew. Got chores, but I'll come check on ya later, once I've seen if folks're up and lookin' for ya. Best I can do without puttin' my neck out there with that lot.
>>
No. 947237 ID: 26ba84

>>947235
If I got it right, we came specifically to watch this guy die, so no leaving.
>>
No. 947240 ID: 91ee5f

>>947233
Do you think those guards are going to skewer him with their spears before they drop him?
>>
No. 947241 ID: a9af05

>>947233
He might be too fat to fit through the hole when they drop him, so they have to execute him in a different way.

Or instead of dropping him, they're going to execute him differently to make an example out of him as a warning to all the rich people that're watching to let them know what'll happen to them if they fuck up.
>>
No. 947251 ID: e7c7d3

If I'm understanding this correctly, from the first hanging they don't like citizens doing their own justice, so even if they were criminals she's still guilty of killing them. Then from the next hangings, it seems that there's a three-strikes rule, though all three strikes can happen in the same instance.

So when Redkho cut off Finger's fingers, that may have been a strike for him and Redkho's been on the edge of the law for a while now.

Either way, we just have to wait and see.
>>
No. 947253 ID: b233f0

>>947251
Ambiguous wording, but I think the first one who got hung was the one 'attempting to escape justice' from having 'betrayed' the locals. The three 'Brave Martinets' who died fighting them were probably local enforcers of some kind, and not the ones doing the attempted escaping.
>>
No. 947261 ID: b1b4f3

I think that panicking guy got set up too.
Smug justice is the worst justice.
>>
No. 947436 ID: 15a025

Well Fingers, just be glad you didn't end up where Redkho is now.
>>
No. 948165 ID: e5e15e
File 157229895539.png - (1.03MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 28.png )
948165

>“I notice none of your fellows deigned to attend, despite how unique this event is. It has been many years since one of your... prominence has needed to be punished. Before even my birth. My predecessor declared her punishment served after she survived being hung for over an hour. If you are half as hardy as she was I doubt they wanted to waste their valuable time waiting. Frankly, I agree.”



>Do you have a reason to stay, yourself?
Everyone I know is here, of course I want to stay.

“... did you set Redkho up?” I ask quietly.

“I didn’t have nothin’ to do with this.” He snaps back. He’s leaning forward and his nails are scraping on the rock.

“If he's let loose you need to stay far away from him.” I catch what that might sound like. “And I don’t mean leavin’. Running away ain’t gonna do you no good. You ain’t got any survival skills I know of, and if there’s no one out there to steal from you’ll starve in a week. I ain't gonna let you get yourself killed cuz you wasn't thinkin.”
>>
No. 948170 ID: e7c7d3

What's his punishment going to be? Stockades? You could get your own justice here, Fingers.
>>
No. 948173 ID: 0fae41

The speaker seeks a puppet. If you aren't ready to strike out on your own, there's no time like the present to prepare. Whether you take care of Redkho yourself before leaving is up to you.
>>
No. 948236 ID: ce39da

Ah, so his kind are physically difficult to hang? Fun. If it does look like he's going to get released here, however...

Okay, first of all, get ready to preemptively cover your buddy's mouth if he even gives a hint of an imminent outburst, and shush into his ear so he doesn't get the wrong idea. If he's insistent on getting his own justice: "If you're serious about this, I'd like to be there to make sure you do it right. I'm not letting my friend get sent onto that platform."

However, I doubt it will come to that; that guy's smile disappeared the moment the preacher started hinting at no hanging. He could probably handle a hanging, after all, and I think he's right to not be liking the new direction this is going.
>>
No. 948435 ID: e5e15e
File 157248044238.png - (1.04MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 29.png )
948435

>“The mistake you made is thinking power in the hands of others can protect you. I failed to teach you this and that regret shall lay on both our souls.”
>>
No. 948436 ID: e5e15e
File 157248047574.png - (1.21MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 30.png )
948436

>”Monger Redkho, you are guilty of abusing your station to bring heretical materials into the sanctuary that is our home, Silverlock. I take solace in the fact that we were able to catch you before you distributed said filth. Worse than the other crimes we have punished today, you tried to plant a seed of rot within our very souls. There can be no mercy for this!”



Finger’s body tenses even more and he’s so focused on the stage I step closer to make sure he doesn’t fall out of the crack.
>>
No. 948437 ID: e5e15e
File 157248052478.png - (1.30MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 31.png )
948437

>“My friends. My comrades! I know the struggles you face. The chains of duty weigh each of us down with separate burdens.”
>>
No. 948438 ID: e5e15e
File 157248058543.png - (1.23MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 32.png )
948438

>”But the name of The Sculptor was not given to Them in jest! We were made, each of us, for the tasks we are given. We can rise to them together! We must excel, hand in hand! For They have given us only two options!”
>>
No. 948439 ID: e5e15e
File 157248061262.png - (1.12MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 33.png )
948439

>”Die!”
>>
No. 948442 ID: e5e15e
File 157248077690.png - (935.62KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 34.png )
948442

>”Or thrive with Them!”
>>
No. 948443 ID: e5e15e
File 157248079432.png - (711.20KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 35.png )
948443

>“Choose.”
>>
No. 948445 ID: e7c7d3

There you go, Fingers. Your justice. Now get any thoughts of blood out of your head and let's get back to the potatoes.
>>
No. 948446 ID: ce39da

Oof looks like the preacher man got religion in Finger's show. Hard to even stay mad at this guy when his judge is wearing that shit-eating grin.

"It seems not everyone can find a third option to that question. That doesn't mean it's impossible, though. By the way, did I ever mention you kinda look like [INSERT ONE-EYED GOD'S NAME HERE]?"

Stay vigilant on keeping him from crying out, whether in victory or outrage (if there's another last-minute twist).
>>
No. 948447 ID: 0fae41

Personally, I would see if there is a market for other gods. You know. Just thinking out loud.
>>
No. 948452 ID: 3ed3c3

Well, Hell. Given a choice like that, you kinda wanna rebel out of sheer spite.
>>
No. 948453 ID: 094652

This man is not being judged for theft or betrayal or indirect mass murder. The priest refuses to judge his inner circle for any real crime as he refuses to judge himself. This man is being punished for trying to spread ideas and give hope to others for once in his godforsaken life. If the priest truly had faith in his religion, he'd welcome the rot and enjoy curing it (with more hangings, of course) as a fun past-time.

And that's the reason for this spectacle; using cruelty as punishment to teach others the consequences of thinking one is above the law is bad enough, but somewhat understandable. Outright claiming that any simple reading material is worse than starving people to death, that the only alternative to unquestioning 'unity' is death? He doesn't want his faith to be the superior faith. He wants his faith to be the ONLY faith.

Stop this madness. Or at least try. Hide behind cover and begin screaming. Without the noose around his neck, Redkho will have enough time to escape. He'll likely be gunned down in the chase. But that will plant the right seed in these people: occasionally, the mouth of God has a stutter.
>>
No. 948622 ID: 15a025

I think our show's over Fingers. Let's get heading back else they find an encore.
>>
No. 948642 ID: 015bf2

>>948445
Quite.
>>
No. 948772 ID: e5e15e
File 157298340290.png - (1.01MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 36.png )
948772

>By the way, did I ever mention you kinda look like [INSERT ONE-EYED GOD'S NAME HERE]?
>I would see if there is a market for other gods.
I’ve never heard of any god but Nine Eyes. If there are some they ain’t in Silverlock.

Tension leaks out of Fingers when Redkho’s head comes off, but not nearly enough of it. Steel is still talking but it’s all stuff I’ve heard before and I tune it out.

“Show’s over. You feelin’ better now?” I ask.

“Yeah.”

“Ready to head back?”

“Not yet. Go on ahead, Asher. ”

“I can’t leave until you do, I gotta close the entrance back up.” I pick up the last potato and finish peeling it.

“Just leave a crack open for me to slip through and I’ll be fine. I wanna be alone for a bit. Anyway Junkyard told me she wanted to see you, like, an hour ago.” He says.

“What? You couldn’t have told me that earlier?” He gives a half-hearted shrug.

After I drop these potatoes off I was going to go back to my regular work detail, trash collecting with Mash, but if Junkyard wants to see me it’s probably important. But then again Mash can be real… touchy about schedules, and doesn’t like it when people are late, which I might already be. Or I could stay a little bit longer and try to get through to Fingers again, but I got no idea what he needs me to say. I think it’s best Ma’am hears what Fingers has been talking about, sooner rather than later. He might need more help than I can give.
>>
No. 948780 ID: 28dc04

If you're already late, go meet Junkyard.
>>
No. 948791 ID: 0fae41

Make Fingers help you carry the potatoes back. You only brought one lightstone, and your hands are full. Plenty of places to be alone that aren't prone to cavein.
>>
No. 948804 ID: b1b4f3

Don't make Fingers do anything. Go talk to Junkyard after delivering the potatoes, tell Mash you're late since Junkyard needed to speak with you. It's half-true!
>>
No. 948841 ID: 094652

Go do the thing with Junkyard. If your boss gives you trouble for not sticking to schedule, she can pay for it.
>>
No. 948842 ID: 977456

Fingers is clearly in no headspace to recall anything. Assume that anything you don't do yourself will not be done.
>>
No. 949149 ID: 15a025

Make a compromise with Fingers. You don't mind leaving him be for a bit, but this isn't exactly a good place to be alone. What's he going to do if someone else comes by and moves the rock shut on him?
>>
No. 949448 ID: e5e15e
File 157369250294.png - (802.89KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 37.png )
949448

I pick up the bag and drop it in Finger’s arms. I ain’t gonna leave him to stew in the dark at least. He cusses me out, but walks. We don’t really speak on the way back but his expression is softer by the time I’ve rolled the rock back into place. I tell him to go tell Mash I’ll be late and head to drop off Pole’s potatoes. I’ll talk to Ma’am about him later. She’ll know what to do.
>>
No. 949449 ID: e5e15e
File 157369252966.png - (690.74KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 38.png )
949449

I’m hoping, if I’m sneaky enough, I can drop these things off and not have to deal with the chef again.
>>
No. 949450 ID: e5e15e
File 157369255849.png - (543.68KB , 711x711 , GD Update 39.png )
949450

...Ah shit.
>>
No. 949451 ID: e5e15e
File 157369261672.png - (745.15KB , 711x711 , GD Update 40.png )
949451

>>
No. 949452 ID: e5e15e
File 157369265106.png - (846.93KB , 710x709 , GD Update 41.png )
949452

>>
No. 949453 ID: e5e15e
File 157369266920.png - (602.85KB , 711x711 , GD Update 42.png )
949453

>>
No. 949454 ID: e5e15e
File 157369270134.png - (595.15KB , 711x711 , GD Update 43.png )
949454

Well, Pole’s pissed.
>>
No. 949455 ID: e5e15e
File 157369278518.png - (1.01MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 44.png )
949455

I head straight over to the quarry Junkyard has been working in the last few weeks and spot her doing all the hard work like normal.

Sometimes I look at tats or sticklers struggling to pick stuff up and I wonder how they can live being so weak. Junkyards gotta think that all the time about the rest of us lankies.
>>
No. 949456 ID: e5e15e
File 157369282788.png - (1.07MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 45.png )
949456

“Where’ve you been?” She grunts. “I sent Fingers to find you an hour ago and that boy ain’t slow, outta everything else he is. Was he fuckin’ around playing or some shit?”
>>
No. 949458 ID: 0fae41

He wanted to go see the old bastard Red get hung. He was too fat for it and they had to bring out the meat cleaver.
>>
No. 949460 ID: b1b4f3

>>949458
Yes. Say this.
>>
No. 949464 ID: 015bf2

>>949456
Some shit and he wanted you along for it - the hangings. Didn't mention the meeting until after. You get the impression he's troubled, our boy Fingers. You'll talk to Ma'am about it later, see what she thinks - if there's aught anyone can do for him.

Anyway, thanks to that detour you're liable to have pissed off both Pole and Mash before the day is done. What can you do for her, lest you make it three?
>>
No. 949469 ID: 094652

Tell her they finally whacked Redkho, but they used the execution as a sham to show that nobles don't follow the same rules as commoners, and that nobles trying to help commoners makes them even more guilty than commoners.

So yeah, what do we need to do today?
>>
No. 949470 ID: 8d4593

Fuckin' around? Sure. He thought it important though. He'll take whatever you wanna dish out at him well enough.

What's up?
>>
No. 949702 ID: 15a025

He was hanging around the executions. Thankfully not on the other end of it.
>>
No. 949883 ID: 9e04c9

I don't think Fingers would want you to tell her where he was. Or you for that matter.

Tell her that you were busy training so that you could be as strong as her someday. Or something like that. An excuse mixed with some flattering.
>>
No. 949949 ID: e5e15e
File 157422143968.png - (1.21MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 46.png )
949949

“Redkho was getting hung. He only told me after it was done.”

“So he did exactly what I told him not to and went to the execution.” I nod and Junkyard clicks her tongue.

“I think he needs to talk to Ma’am about it. He started sayin’ some uh-” I cut myself off. “He’s got some troubles.”

“I’ll box his ears in, then we’ll see what kinda trouble he’s in then.” She snarls.

“Maybe don’t do that until I talk to Ma’am?” Junkyard gives a grunt that means she’ll do what I asked but doesn’t want to say it out loud.

“What did you need me for, anyway?” I ask

She glances around before answering. “I’ll tell you later. Just go up there and tell the roc- Ikthiss I’m done for the day.”

“Your shift done?”

“I do four times the work of anyone else, so I say I’m done. Just go make sure she doesn’t write me up or anything for ‘skipping work’.”

“We could go talk to her together. She’s not as bad as you think if you say the right things.” I say.

“If I have to see her smug fucking face one more time today I’m gonna to put my fist through it. Just say I got sick or something. She’ll believe you and she’s too lazy to check. I’ll meet you outside.”
>>
No. 949950 ID: e5e15e
File 157422149725.png - (0.99MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 47.png )
949950

“Ikthiss Silverlock, can we-”

“‘Of Silverlock’, Asher. I’m not literally this dumb mountain. Are you even on my crew today? Whatever, they’re whining in hole three so go help those dorks out.”

“I-”

“I swear every other day there’s some sermon or barbaric ritual of yours that takes up half the day and a third of my workers. No idea how they expect me to get anything done. What was it this time?”

“Th-”

“Wait, no. I don’t care. Just get down there and pick up the slack.”

She’s usually pretty lenient but she’s not in a good mood today. Leaving work without permission is a really bad charge if she decides to submit it, and when she’s like this she’ll probably do it. I can make up a lie, but if she does check it’ll blow up in our faces. I could say we’re going to the execution but I don’t know when it’ll end and if her workers come back and we’re not with them we could still get in trouble. Telling the truth might satisfy her, but since I still don’t know where Junkyard wants to take me it’ll sound really weak. Worst case scenario I can call in a favor but that’s… only if absolutely nothing else works.
>>
No. 949955 ID: b1b4f3

>>949950
If she's in a bad mood she'll probably check. Tell truth, say something like Longyard wants you for something important. Offer favor if that doesn't work.
Maybe you can soften her up by asking her what's gotten her grumpy? Anything you can help with?
>>
No. 949966 ID: e7c7d3

She's not even aware if you're in her crew or not. Say you're going to the execution and if you don't come back with the others she probably won't notice.
>>
No. 949997 ID: 8d4593

>>949950
Belive me, I would love to but [Insert a Scary Crew Boss's name here] is in the same boat as you. Everyone is. He's got me by the nose to bring back Junkyard and says he'll [Insert most insane nonlethal punishment you've heard of happening] if I come back empty handed.
>>
No. 950001 ID: 7e1c22

Throw Junkyard's immediate coworkers under the buss.

Those are people you CAN deal with and do favors to to make up for the inconvenience later (and they can't hang you on a dime). And stay as technically true as you can when saying what you and Junkyard are doing, as well as try to avoid upsetting Ikthiss too much further. Even if she discovers you mislead her, as long as her own impatience can be construed to be at fault at least you won't have directly lied to an authority or skipped work and earned a bad charge.

Sketch a bow or whatever you do to be respectful. Make it seem like you're sweating and uncomfortable at being put so on the spot (to be fair, you probably are).

"Ikthiss of Silverlock, I'm very very sorry, but today I am only here as a messenger and have other errands besides."

Junkyard's messenger, mind you, but it sounds official enough. And you sure seem to have your plate full today.

"Some issue has come up and Junkyard will be going to take care of it. I was not told what it was about, unfortunately, so I do not know how long she'll be kept."

Let Ikthiss assume what the issue is, which is actually whatever Junkyard wanted to do, and as Junky told you jack all about it you know nothing about it.

"You would know best how to plan for absences, but perhaps you could move a few of those working with Junkyard to hole three? She's at least done the work of several today, so that could balance the shortfall a little more evenly."

Give her the backup solution she needs before she has to spend time and energy thinking one of her own up or investigating your claims - and she might just be more inclined to grab your idea as the easiest way out of this situation. She does seem rather impatient presently.

One more thing. You should probably not tell many people about the hangings (+beheading) if it's not common knowledge yet. It pegs you as having been at and witnessed them, and if you weren't supposed to that's a tad bad... isn't it?
>>
No. 950011 ID: 9e04c9

Tell her that she seems to be in a bad mood unhappy and ask if she wants to talk about it. Depending on what it is, you could offer to help her with it. Basically, if you can talk her into giving you a task that would require you to leave, you'd be solving all your problems.
>>
No. 950558 ID: e5e15e
File 157508252802.png - (0.98MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 48.png )
950558

>Maybe you can soften her up by asking her what's gotten her grumpy?
Only if I want to listen to her complain for an hour.

>Throw Junkyard's immediate coworkers under the bus.
That’s also not a great idea. Even if I say I’ll make it up to them having bad blood with someone you’re lifting rocks with is a good way to get crushed.

“Ikthiss of Silverlock, I'm very very sorry, but I’m only here as a messenger and have other errands.” I blurt out before she can cut me off again. I get off the ladder and circle around her rock to get away from the edge.

“Then what’s the message?”

“Not for you, it’s for Junkyard. Sh-”

“Uggggghhh. Her?” Ikthiss flops over and puts on an ill-fitting gruff voice. “The hole isn’t big enough Ikthiss, we should have more safety ropes Ikthiss, blah blah blah. I don’t know how you stand hanging out with her.”

“She’s not as bad as you-” I start.

“Well go tell her and take a message from me too. ‘Get some dirt on your claws and stop goofing off!’”

“I actually already told her the message. She’s not going to be working the rest of the day.” She cranes her head up.

“The hell do you mean she’s not working? Who’s going to be taking my best worker when I’m already low on them?!” She yells.
>>
No. 950559 ID: e5e15e
File 157508256073.png - (709.68KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 49.png )
950559

“It’s… well, you know, I mean…” I make sure not to meet her gaze but I can hear the sneer in her voice.

“It’s Thysin isn’t it, suck-up. Wants to boost his numbers when everyone’s low. And If I complain he’ll just go whine to dad. Ugggghhh.” She waves me off. “Just go, I gotta think of how to get him back for this.”

“But-” I begin, knowing she’ll interrupt me.

“I said go, Asher. And if you see Thysin spit in his eye for me.” I scurry away.
>>
No. 950560 ID: e5e15e
File 157508260234.png - (0.95MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 50.png )
950560

“I think you’re clear.” I tell Junkyard. “She thinks Thysin grabbed you and she’ll never think different even if he tells her to her face.”

“Finally, the rock she calls a brain comes in handy. Let’s hurry up, it’s only a few minutes away but they’ve already been waiting too long.“

“Who’s waiting?” I ask.

“Diamond. One of their personal sticklers was looking for you and found me instead. They want to see you.”
>>
No. 950561 ID: e7c7d3

What would someone need you for? No offense, but why you and not some other lanky?
>>
No. 950562 ID: 2aa5f0

>Diamond. One of their personal sticklers was looking for you and found me instead. They want to see you.
why?
>>
No. 950563 ID: 86794b

Any idea why someone wants to see you?
>>
No. 950564 ID: b1b4f3

>>950560
What's so special about me?
>>
No. 950582 ID: 9e04c9

This sounds like bad news. But if they needed you, why did Junkyard have to escape work for it?
>>
No. 950592 ID: 15a025

What would someone with a name like Diamond want with you? Who are they even?
>>
No. 950602 ID: e7848c

They get off work just to back you up?
>>
No. 950692 ID: e51896

"why me?"
>>
No. 950880 ID: c6c213

Uh. Why are you coming along then?
>>
No. 950906 ID: 470289
File 157549858997.png - (971.35KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 51.png )
950906

I freeze up. A preceptor? “What! Why me?”

“Don’t know, but this is an opportunity. If a diamond wants you for something, that’s an in.”

“B-but, I ain’t done nothin’! Do you think I’m in trouble?”

“Hey, calm down.” She says as she puts a hand on my shoulder. “This could be a good thing. Besides, I’m not about to let you go into a room full of diamonds or sticklers alone. I’ll be right behind you.”

“W-which diamond is it?”

Junkyard shrugs. “Stickler was real cagey about that. One of the younger ones, I figure. Maybe Copper or Zinc. Actually, your bethel is with Brass, right? Probably him.” Bethel is the weekly service everyone attends to learn about Nine Eyes, taught by the preceptors. “If we get a good roll of the dice we could turn this into a permanent spot on farming detail up top for you, me, and Mash. Seeing the sun everyday and not slumming it in holes for Ikthiss would be pretty nice, right?”

“You think it’ll work out like that?” I ask.

“We’ll make sure it does. Now come on.”
>>
No. 950907 ID: 470289
File 157549861726.png - (876.33KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 52.png )
950907

“There he is.” Junkyard says after leading me down an out of the way alley.

Is that… Narko? It’s been years since I’ve seen him. I was hoping for decades. He’s a show-off and liked rubbing m- people’s faces in the dirt last I saw him.
>>
No. 950908 ID: 470289
File 157549865449.png - (924.67KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 53.png )
950908

“‘Bout time, lank. Thought your orders dropped out of your fucking head. Now fuck off.” He turns his head towards me. “You’re Asher? Get your ass down the hole. You got a fucking meeting.” He says ‘meeting’ like ‘execution’.

“I’m staying with her.” Junkyard states as she crosses her arms.

He arches an eyebrow and I fight down an instinctive flinch. That was always my warning before I lost a tooth or got a new black eye. And now he has a knife and spear! Sometimes if I stroked his ego I could head it off, but it didn’t always work.

Junkyard is more stubborn than any toiler has a right to be. She’ll push to stay with me if I don’t tell her I’ll be fine. And if Narko is here I want her to stay. Maybe if I ask in the right way? It’s been years, he has to have mellowed out. But... I don’t want her to get hurt.
>>
No. 950909 ID: e7c7d3

Since you're stuttering so much from nervousness, maybe say that you have a speech impediment and need Junkyard to help you with your words.
Not far from the truth that you need her here so you doesn't freak out.
>>
No. 950910 ID: 56076d

>>950908
Raise a hand; interrupt, and then softly apologize to Narko. You weren't late on purpose and it wasn't Junkyard's fault either, multiple errands and obligations is just the toiler life. You're missing schedule right now just to be here.

Seem a little worn and tired as you say it. Add a dash of trepidation, on account of the maybe someone's getting stabbed up thing, and an ounce of backbone, to show you're not quite the easily bullied girl you once were.

Then brighten up a little. Smile wryly, begrudgingly, as you assess his clothes and gear. Say he on the other hand seems to have come a fair ways ahead in life. He probably still wants to go further though, and being a very dutiful sort, would insist on you going alone.

But here's the thing.

Junkyard's one of the strongest and most dependable people you know. Whatever task this meeting is for, you'd probably need someone's help with it anyway - not much work for lone lankeys - and there's no-one you'd rather have with you than her. By allowing you to bring her along, Narko's boss gets two for the price of one, which should at least make up for the delay a little.

>Symbol on Narko's arm
What is that symbol? A Stickler thing?
>>
No. 950911 ID: 56076d

>>950910
Actually he'd get five for the price of one, since Junkyard's worth like four of you.

>If Narko appears to continue considering beating/stabbing Junk
Say work detail bosses would get real furious if she got sent on involuntary sick leave given how good for their qoutas she is.
>>
No. 950912 ID: b1b4f3

>>950908
>and now he has a knife and spear!
That means he's trusted with those. He's not gonna stab Junkyard for wanting to escort you.

Ask if it's against the rules, or his orders. If it is, there's nothing you can do about it and you'll need to get Junkyard to back down. If it's not against the rules, then request that she escort you.
>>
No. 950918 ID: 9e04c9

>with her
What. Asher is female? Oh. Yeah. Of course she is, ha ha... I totally knew that... anyway!

Tell Narko that Junkyard is your wife and that Nine Eyes teachings give you the right to prevent being separated from your spouse.
>>
No. 950925 ID: 91ee5f

>>950918
Making something up about a religion sounds pretty blasphemous. We might end up in line to get hung at the next execution!
>>
No. 950934 ID: 9e04c9

>>950925
But what if it's true?
>>
No. 950939 ID: 094652

You're totally not a CRPG protagonist and you don't need a wingman to act for support skills that will help you negotiate a better outcome, its fiiine, go through.
>>
No. 950943 ID: 977456

>>950940 +1! It is very not fine. It is dangerous to go alone; take a Junkyard.
I'm hoping that the others make their roll on diplomacy, but if a fight breaks out, help Junker. Go for the full-body headbutt-charge. They never expect someone's forehead to hit them at a full sprint!
>>
No. 950952 ID: 91ee5f

>>950934
It’s not.
>>
No. 950955 ID: 9e04c9

>>950952
Please quote the part of the story that supports your claim.
>>
No. 950967 ID: a9af05

>>950955
Where in the story does it support your claim?
>>
No. 950977 ID: 0fae41

Tell this Nark she is coming with you, and if he cares enough to protest he can care enough to explain why he held you up when you're already running late!
>>
No. 951509 ID: 470289
File 157620630584.png - (959.66KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 54.png )
951509

>Tell Narko that Junkyard is your wife.
What’s a wife?

>What is that symbol on his arm?
The armband means he works directly for a diamond. The color and shapes tell you which, and the spears are his rank. Blue and round is Preceptor Tin, I think? It looks kind of off, but maybe she commissioned a new version. I wish Junkyard would pay more attention to stuff like this. Tin isn’t a diamond to worry about. If I knew I was being called by her I wouldn’t have freaked out as much as I did.

“This guy your bodyguard or something? You the fucking diamond of the lankies?” He chuckles. “Should I be bowing or scraping the ground?”

“I-” Junkyard starts but Narko just ignores her.

“Wait, no. I fucking get it. You saw me, broad shoulders, amazing hair, and you got all hot in your pants and wanted to spend some more time with me? Sorry to break it to you, but you ain’t my type.”

“I’m really sorry we’re late, sir, I was trying to finish up some other work and lost track of time.” I say as I step between them. “But, it’s not against your orders for Junkyard to come along, right? Whatever the Preceptor wants from me I’m sure she can help. She’s a lot stronger than me and it might make up for us being a little late?”

“You’re a she too? I really can’t tell you fucking lankies apart. Still not my type but I know some sticklers who like slumming. Hell, I can get three as a consolation prize.” He gives his slimy smile. It hasn’t changed a bit.

“Ha, very funny sir! So, is it okay for her to go with me? Two toilers for one?” I ask.
>>
No. 951510 ID: 470289
File 157620633538.png - (845.14KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 55.png )
951510

“Whatever, just get in the fucking hole and don’t trip over your gangly fucking feet.” He waves us along and we crouch in front of the tunnel.

“Yes, right away Narko!” I say as Junkyard starts to crawl.
>>
No. 951511 ID: 470289
File 157620637036.png - (0.97MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 56.png )
951511

We climb in silence. It takes almost fifteen minutes before I hear the whispers of a conversation and another minute before a deep accented voice booms from above. “I assume that the scraping I’m hearing is the guest you promised, madkin?”

The tunnel widens out and Junkyard moves to the side as I crawl up.
>>
No. 951512 ID: 470289
File 157620644456.png - (1.01MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 57.png )
951512

I feel my blood run cold. I barely even register the big eared man behind her. That’s not Preceptor Tin, or any other random diamond. That’s Preceptor Silver, the most important Diamond in Silverlock.

“Toiler Asher and… friend. Are you going to lay there or greet the ambassador properly?” Her voice is crisp, clear, and I can’t help but hear annoyed.

I can’t screw this up, whatever this is.
>>
No. 951513 ID: cdabe3

You heard the lady, greet her properly
>>
No. 951514 ID: b1b4f3

>>951512
Show some fucking RESPECT. Introduce yourself since you weren't introduced.
Then speak when spoken to, let them take the lead, be an obedient Toiler.
Junkyard will most likely have the good sense to stay quiet. She should not have come, but she'll be good moral support?

Who IS that back there?
>>
No. 951515 ID: 0fae41

Apologize, say you thought prostrating yourself was the proper greeting.
>>
No. 951519 ID: 977456

Spare a brief moment to think of how Junkyard will act. Intercede if it indicates terminal disaster.
>>
No. 951540 ID: e7c7d3

What's a proper greeting? Stand up and do a bow, I guess. Say some niceties, like you're honoured to meet them and thanks for asking for your presence.

>What's a wife?
Well, you see, when one lanky loves another lanky very much... You know what, never mind.
>>
No. 951552 ID: 9e04c9

Greet them and apologize. Blame Narko for your delay,
"Had your sticker been better at signifying the importance of this event, you would not have waited as long as you had."

Also, say something deep,
"Our destinies intertwine. Is this the will of Nine Eyes?"
>>
No. 951555 ID: 5b93d3

>>951512
Introduce yourself and Junkyard to the ambassador, and a simple "I apologise for the delay" to Preceptor Silver. No excuses, no explanations, just greeting > apology > shut up.
>>
No. 951597 ID: e7848c

>>951512
You know what to do.
>>
No. 951946 ID: 470289
File 157689327304.png - (1.16MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 58.png )
951946

I scramble out of the hole and bow like Ma’am showed me years ago. Junkyard follows my lead, staying thankfully quiet.

“It’s an honor to meet you, sir. I am Toiler Asher and this is Toiler Junkyard. We apologize for our delay.”

“Dhalkin! It has been quite a while since I’ve seen your kind. And delay? We only just arrived,” He sounds even stranger than he looks. All his words sound rough? He says his r’s strangely and I’m not sure if I could understand him if he spoke quickly. “I am Ambassador Risken. I found I could not stomach more of that oafs preaching after that grisly display at your, ah, lord’s statue and Illari-, Iyarri-, Ms. Silver kindly led me to this most interesting place.”

He pauses like he expects me to say something, but silence has never got me in trouble before.

“...Well, yes. Madkin! You were telling me of these curios from your, ah, religion?”
>>
No. 951947 ID: 470289
File 157689332262.png - (1.53MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 59.png )
951947

Silver turns from us and gestures to the room. “You misunderstand, Ambassador Riksen. Most of what is held in this room isn’t religious in nature. Rather, it’s artifacts we have mined over our long years in the mountain and historical pieces from our exodus centuries ago.”

“Ah, I just assumed. Of course you have more cultu- more to offer. It’s just you’re all so keen on your, ah, god. So many eyes, always watching. Why, she’s everywhere and I don’t believe I have even caught her name yet!”

I barely hear a small sigh come from Silver and I know exactly what she’s going to say. “They have no name, and I shall not presume to give them one. They are male and female, both and neither. A hero and a villain, yet also the narrator. Father and Mother of our race yet also our child. They-,” She cuts herself off. “Ambassador you did not come here to hear rote speeches of the Preceptors. I am the secular leader of Silverlock, not its ministerial leader. Let us discuss the reality in front of us.”

“Ah, you appreciate frankness?” Riksen pauses in front of a box and looks inside. “Then to be frank, your dhal-, ah, toilers indicate that Silverlock is impossible for civilized societies to deal with. Why, simply humoring you is risky.”
>>
No. 951948 ID: 470289
File 157689334550.png - (1.00MB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 60.png )
951948

“I see.” Silver turns and looks into my eyes. “Toiler Asher. Toiler Junkayard. Inform Ambassador Riksen of your place in our society. Tell him if you are slaves.”
>>
No. 951950 ID: e7c7d3

No more a slave than a wheel is to a cart.

We have a purpose, so we do our purpose. We're strong, so we do strong things. Doing anything more would just be silly.
>>
No. 951951 ID: 0efe8e

To determine if one is a slave they must first elaborate on what they would define as a slave.
>>
No. 951953 ID: e7848c

>>951948
Define a slave. Because in the grand scheme of things, seems like we're easily replaceable and unappreciated.
>>
No. 951954 ID: b1b4f3

>>951948
A slave has no choice but to obey(under threat of violence usually), has no choice in how they live, and owns nothing as they are treated as an object themselves. Is this true of you? It doesn't appear to be.

If you ARE slaves, then you can at least say you are treated well, and have some flexibility in how you work. It's not like you get beaten for working slowly, and you weren't too badly reprimanded for the potato thing.
>>
No. 951955 ID: 0fae41

Yes, master! I mean, no master!

(Were a restaurant busboy and a quarry worker really the most enfranchised Toilers they could think of?)
>>
No. 951956 ID: ce39da

"If I were to stop and think about it, then I am indeed a slave in some ways, yet not in others. Either way, I don't think I would find myself complaining; my life certainly is not without purpose."
>>
No. 951958 ID: 0a2444

Wait, are we actually slaves?
>>
No. 951961 ID: 39ccaa

Oh man. They probably wanted you early so that they could coach you on giving a reply.

>>951948
What she wants is an answer that spells out no. What this ambassador needs is a rational answer that can bypass his apparent distaste of the way your whole god-damned society operates. Silver would not be humoring this rude man if she didn’t see a need for it, so this must be done right if you are to curry favor with her. Defend her position while appealing to his brand of logic.

>>951950
I like this, but for the end and that it sounds a bit like a rote answer. Elaborate to show you thought this through and aren’t giving a coached reply. For one, your strength being the reason for your labors isn’t an answer when they have you peeling potatoes.

«For what it’s worth, sir, I don’t think we are. But it’s also true that we are given many tasks that seem slave-like in their nature, not all of them strength-based, so that may not be enough for you. Perhaps an example of the freedom we do have will be better.

A slave obeys, and cannot do as they like, yes? Well, today I skipped work to witness the executions. While this might upset people - and wouldn’t you be upset to have a coworker skip out on you? - no harm will come to me for doing so; unlike those at the gallows. Typically the ‘reward’ for such an action, if found out, as I have just been by admitting to it, would be to be written up and shittier tasks assigned later on. Few want shit duties all the time, so shirking from assigned tasks is discouraged. If a sufficiently good excuse is given the citation may fall through. Sometimes the matter is just let go. It depends on our current coworkers or taskmaster, on mood and disposition, whether quotas are being met or not. Some keep a grudge for missed quotas longer, but that’s mainly because they’ve got a rock up their butt, uh, pardon my language. There is always some leeway to have, we are flawed, after all, and the better coordinators of our labors recognize this. Of course, we cannot be skipping out all the time either. If someone is being troublesome in that regard, we will usually stage an intervention before things come to a head and the other castes get involved, if they aren’t already.»

Straighten up a little.

«As for our ‘barbarism’, I happen to know at least one of the men killed today truly was a liar and a thief who also had done another grave harm. You must have a system for dealing with such men yourself, or anyone could get away with anything all the time and I know that is not right or good. Perhaps the biggest difference is that you do not put it on display like we do?»

Stealing Fingers’ fingers counts as thievery, right?
>>
No. 951963 ID: fd5772

>>951948
The first words we say are "No, we're not slaves." Anything else is justification, which is fine, but the important part is not angering the silver. Anyways, I don't think we're slaves because we can move around and do our job as we think is best. In fact, we've been spending a bunch of time running around for _important_ reasons to talk to people. Also I'm pretty sure no one owns us, I think that's a pretty important detail for being a slave. (Maybe Ma'am owns us?) Not really sure what our kind do outside of Silverlock (or whatever you call this place). Anyways, we don't get beat if we're accidentally late for work, if that's what this new guy is worried about. We're better off than those baddies that got hanged earlier.
>>
No. 951966 ID: 7c1f1b

Tell her either answer would only comfort the visitor on his position. "Yes" would confirm and "no" would sound ordered.
>>
No. 951973 ID: 094652

"It depends. I heard the rumors; is it still Hell out there?"
>>
No. 951976 ID: 9e04c9

We should consider this as an opportunity. If we can get on Riksen's good side, we may be able to leave this place.

Simply say that you don't know what that word means. Or that you were not taught anything about this subject. However, that you do wish to learn more about it if that would please the Ambassador.

By saying it like this, you're presenting yourself "to be taught what it's like to not being a slave".
>>
No. 952157 ID: 470289
File 157725512720.png - (686.54KB , 1000x1000 , GD Update 61.png )
952157

“Yes, Mistress Silver! I mean, no Mistress Silver we aren’t!” I say.

>They probably wanted you early so that they could coach you on giving a reply.
I really hope this isn’t true because that means I’ve already messed up real bad.

>Wait, are we actually slaves?
Of course not, everyone in Silverlock works hard. Well, every laprine at least. We just have different jobs.

>Straighten up a little.
I can’t too much or I’ll be looking down at them and I don’t think they’d like that.

>If we can get on Riksen's good side, we may be able to leave this place.
I don’t want to leave! But being in the good graces of someone the Silver listens to can’t hurt.

“Sir, toilers are really important to Silverlock! We’re like the wheels on the cart. Everyone of us is bless-” Wait, if I say we’re blessed then doesn’t that make him not blessed? I’m so distracted making sure I speak proper I almost insulted him! “We're strong, so we do strong things. That’s our purpose, sir. Doing anything different wouldn’t make sense. I don’t know how people from, uh… outside describe slaves, but we’re not owned by anyone!” Junkyard nods in agreement.

I don’t think I should admit I went to the execution and was in a place I shouldn’t have been. It could end up getting Fingers in actual trouble and I don’t want to risk that.

Riksen is so focused on the box I don’t think he heard me until he says, “I would describe a slave as ‘one who in the complete power of another’. Though that would, ah, put us all in the same boat, wouldn’t it?” He chuckles.
>>
No. 952158 ID: b1b4f3

>>952157
Heh, that's referring to Nine Eyes, right?
>>
No. 952159 ID: 094652

>“I would describe a slave as ‘one who in the complete power of another’. Though that would, ah, put us all in the same boat, wouldn’t it?”
Nut the Preceptor into this. Gambit by feigning intellectual fanaticism:
"I don't know, sir, but all of us, especially the Diamonds, would eagerly agree to be the slaves of God if it meant we could bask in the Nine-Eyed Radiance! Isn't that why we do what we do, Preceptor Silver? Isn't it?"
>>
No. 952165 ID: 9e04c9

"Is that what your chained sigil relates to?"
>>
No. 952173 ID: fd5772

>>952157
I don't know what the Ambassador is talking about, so let's ask him. What do you mean? Who are we all slaves of? God?
>>
No. 952196 ID: 8fab7a

>All of us in the same boat
"I... okay? (What's a boat?)"

Bite your lip, then go for a different tack. Try to calm down somewhat. Steady your nerves.

"Sorry for being so flustered, sir. I got no idea how important this talk is and the thought that I am influencing it is... very daunting. I may mess up my thoughts here, so please don't let what I say be load-bearing."

Disclaimer out of the way, forge on.

"So you want us to... change tribe? I'm not sure it'd end well. I move giant boulders, sir Ambassador sir. I'm not a pot-smith and it'd take years off of my duties to make me one. Ain't like any Martinet, Monger or Artisan can take over those duties just lickety-split either; you'd need a hell of a lot more laprines (and rope) to do what we do, and probably at greater risk. It'd be inefficient as hell and that's my professional opinion. If you don't trust me, go ask the slissas, they'll happily chew you out over it. Uh. Maybe not do that."

Rub a furrowed brow in exasperation over how hard this is, then get an idea.

"Just... look."

Lift a heavy crate and hand it off to Junkyard. Then another. Continue until surprise shows or reasonable (for Junkyard) carry limit is reached. Then gently set them all down again. Talk while you work.

"This is why we're important. Asking Silverlock it change that overnight probably ain't gonna give you what you want and ain't gonna give us Toilers much better, cuz' we'd just be wasting our biggest asset. Maybe there's uses for us that haven't been considered yet, but asking we change things just because you don't like how things look on the surface is... honestly probably doing us a disservice and I don't see how Silverlock as a whole benefits.

Does that make sense?"

Take a deep breath. Glance surreptitiously at Preceptor Silver to gauge her reaction.
>>
No. 952294 ID: 15a025

Do you try to imply we are slaves to our god?
>>
No. 952820 ID: 92aaf8

Jeeze, just calm down and think before you speak. Rambling isnt going to help anything.
>>
No. 952823 ID: ce39da

"Are you implying that I'm a slave and don't know it? ... Are you implying that you're a slave? I wouldn't mind broadening my perspective with some examples, so please do explain yourself."
>>
No. 954131 ID: 509e5e
File 157974584531.png - (1.15MB , 1000x1000 , 62.png )
954131

“Sorry? I’m not sure I understand, sir. Are you saying we’re all-”

“The Ambassador is saying that everyone has their place, Toiler Asher. In Silverlock and beyond.” Preceptor Silver interrupts.

“Ah, yes. Apologies.” Ambassador Riksen seems focused on digging through the crate. “I’m getting more and more daft as I age. They’ll be taking my chain of office any day now, ha ha. Forget I said anything. Continue, Mr. Asher.”
>>
No. 954132 ID: 509e5e
File 157974587501.png - (913.74KB , 1000x1000 , 63.png )
954132

“Y-yes sir. Um… we can’t change our tribe. I’m not a smith and I’m not suited to become one It ain- isn’t like any martinet, monger or artisan can take over. You'd need a hell of a lot more laprines to do what we do, and it’d be more dangerous too. I mean…” I get an idea. I point to the Nine Eyes statue in the corner. “Junkyard, can you show him what I mean?”
>>
No. 954133 ID: 509e5e
File 157974595581.png - (1.28MB , 1000x1000 , 64.png )
954133

>>
No. 954134 ID: 509e5e
File 157974598787.png - (1.09MB , 1000x1000 , 65.png )
954134

>>
No. 954135 ID: 509e5e
File 157974603290.png - (1.26MB , 1000x1000 , 66.png )
954135

“Well, that certainly is some-”
>>
No. 954136 ID: 509e5e
File 157974609783.png - (1.17MB , 1000x1000 , 67.png )
954136

>>
No. 954137 ID: 509e5e
File 157974617568.png - (1.27MB , 1000x1000 , 68.png )
954137

“Ms. Silver, I am convinced. Thank you for alleviating my concerns. I believe we may be able to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement.“
>>
No. 954138 ID: 509e5e
File 157974620742.png - (1.12MB , 1000x1000 , 69.png )
954138

Junkyard and I slip out of both the preceptor and ambassadors awareness as they start talking about… trade? I’m not sure if it’s still important for me to pay attention to this. Junkyard stands next to me and after a few minutes, when we’re sure we’ve been forgotten about, she leans over to whisper. “How did you know the sticklers name? Have you met him before?”
>>
No. 954154 ID: 83bf07

>>951947
Riksin or Silver? Silver told us Riksin's name and it's just good to know the diamonds..
>>
No. 954155 ID: e7c7d3

Yes, and I was hoping that it was for the last time.
>>
No. 954166 ID: b1b4f3

>>954134
The statue's eye moved...

>>954138
Tell her you have history with the jerk. He's always been pushing you around even before he was a guard.
>>
No. 954174 ID: 404f0f

Tell her he was your ex in high school. Those were the days...

Ask Junkyard if she wants to make out or something to pass the time.
>>
No. 954185 ID: 864e49

>>954134
That's some hella arm proportions there.

>>954137
oh no he found the dildo collection.

>>954138
See if you can work out a way for Junkyard to teach him a lesson without either of you getting in trouble.
>>
No. 955026 ID: 509e5e
File 158043665697.png - (1.12MB , 1000x1000 , 70.png )
955026

>The statue's eye moved…
Nine Eyes statues always look like they’re watching you. It’s the one thing they all have in common.

“When I was a kid, before we met. I just stopped seeing him around and was hoping I never would again. He used to push me around.”

Junkyard scowls and her eyes flit towards the preceptor in case they suddenly care about us again. “He didn’t recognize you?”

“I don’t think so.” I whisper. “He knew me before I got named Asher.”

Junkyard shifts the statue slightly on her back. I’m not sure if she’s still holding it out of respect or if she just forgot to put it down. “You want me to lean on him a bit?”

“It’s not worth it.” I sigh. “We’d get in trouble. I just need to learn how to avoid him again.”
>>
No. 955028 ID: 509e5e
File 158043680918.png - (1.25MB , 1000x1000 , 71.png )
955028

“Ah, this was quite refreshing. Preliminary discussions often have much more tiptoeing around our desires.” Riksen sticks his hand out expectantly. “I expect this will be an extremely lucrative partnership.”

“Yes.” Silver raises an eyebrow at his hand and lets the silence stretch.

“Ah, handshakes are not... common here, I gather.” He doesn’t drop his smile.

“You gather correctly.” Preceptor Silver states. “Aonaz will escort you back to your chambers. We can work out time for more formal tours and discussions later.”
>>
No. 955029 ID: 509e5e
File 158043688178.png - (1.34MB , 1000x1000 , 72.png )
955029

Riksen glances back at us as he leaves and gives a different, smaller smile than the one he’s had so far, and is then swallowed into the darkness of the tunnel. Preceptor Silver gives a small gesture as she sits and one of the sticklers glides over to start pouring her a drink. I’m not sure why she hasn’t dismissed us yet, but she seems to be fine taking her time. After a sip of her drink she finally addresses us again.

“You paid little attention to our discussion. No interest in politics, Toiler Asher?” Before I can answer she continues. “Answer truthfully. Do you have many… friends.” She says ‘friends’ like it’s a foriegn word.
>>
No. 955033 ID: 0fae41

No, not many would miss me if I suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth, why do you ask?
>>
No. 955035 ID: b1b4f3

>>955029
Yeah, you got a few.
>>
No. 955036 ID: e7c7d3

We have friends, yes. Have to work together to get the job done right, right?
>>
No. 955079 ID: dbd72b

We've spent the entire day easing tensions and trading favors.

"I suppose so. You just gotta know how to handle some people"
>>
No. 955092 ID: 12b116

Politics isn't really something that would normally concern a Toiler, other than anything major that would affect our day to day activities right?
>>
No. 955116 ID: 404f0f

"We don't know each other very well, but I would consider you a friend, Mistress Silver."
>>
No. 955130 ID: ce39da

"But of course. Wouldn't it be unusual for anyone not to?"

(And yes, this was phrased explicitly as a plausibly deniable personal poke at Silver. Whether that poke ends up being a prod or a stab remains to be seen.)
>>
No. 955248 ID: 15a025

Sure. Everyone has a few friends.
>>
No. 955560 ID: 509e5e
File 158096172955.png - (1.25MB , 1000x1000 , 73.png )
955560

>Politics isn't really something that would normally concern a Toiler, other than anything major that would affect our day to day activities right?
Who matters a lot more than what. Some bosses you avoid no matter what and some you can deal with. You learn which is which and do your best. Preceptor Silver is definitely one to avoid, if only to not get caught in her web.

“I… guess so. Doesn’t everyone?” I answer. “I mean, we have to work together a lot so we’re all kinda, sorry, kind of friends.”

“Good. Tomorrow is your bethel. You will befriend Preceptor Caevaexerin Brass. Martinet Narko will supervise you. His word is mine. Martinet Narko, make sure one of the slissas comes to fill in that tunnel before you return.” She takes a sip from her glass. “You are excused.”
>>
No. 955561 ID: 509e5e
File 158096176429.png - (1.15MB , 1000x1000 , 74.png )
955561

I don’t blurt out ‘What?’ or protest. You don’t do that with diamonds. Instead I focus on the blessing that getting out of this room will be, and can figure out what the hell I was just ordered to do later. I turn and walk towards the hole we climbed out of as Junkyard sets the Nine Eyes statue down with a thump and follows me.
>>
No. 955562 ID: 509e5e
File 158096180818.png - (1.00MB , 1000x1000 , 75.png )
955562

Except she doesn’t follow me.

“Put us on farming detail. There’s three of us, and we want to be put on it permanently.” Junkyard says. “...Please.”

I stupidly forgot that Junkyard’s dumb fucking brain is broken and if you turn your back on her for a second she starts mouthing off!
>>
No. 955563 ID: 12b116

pull her tail and tell her to come on
>>
No. 955564 ID: b1b4f3

>>955562
I mean, she said please. Still, try to drag her out of the room because there's like a 90% chance Silver's gonna ignore her. If Silver actually responds and starts asking Junkyard questions then I guess it's time to give HER moral support.
>>
No. 955566 ID: e7c7d3

Junkyard might be too strong to pull away, so we'll have to resort to verbal damage control.

>>955564
If Silver ignores us then we've got to convince Junkyard that her request was heard and that we should leave now. Otherwise, try to be Junkyards mouthpiece might be the safest option.
>>
No. 955567 ID: 094652

"Junkyard, please stop begging the nice Silver to kill you."
>>
No. 955575 ID: f721a7

>>955566
Something of a point here. Let's try to retrieve junkyard, but shouldn't make a scene. Let's just try to urge her to follow.
>>
No. 955584 ID: 4286b4

Go to her and silently pull her hand with more and more strength until she moves.
>>
No. 955591 ID: ce39da

"Junkyard, with all due respect, I think the Preceptor suddenly changing my work assignment would disrupt my new task more than help it. Let's go before you say anything else foolish." You're both brick shithouse toilers; just pick her up and carry her out.
>>
No. 956401 ID: 15a025

Junkyard we're going to get put into the ground permanently if we don't get going.
>>
No. 956406 ID: dbd72b

Make an effort to pull her back because you have to, but you want it, right? And it'd be easy for a Silver, right? A girl's gotta dream, and this is a dream come true.
>>
No. 956604 ID: 470289
File 158199359407.png - (969.49KB , 1000x1000 , 76.png )
956604

"Junkyard, please stop begging the preceptor to kill you." I spit out, hushed. I could grab her and throw her down the hole, but I’m not sure if that’d be even worse. Every preceptor gets offended by different things, so I can’t guess! “With all due respect, that’s not necessary Preceptor Silver. We’re sorry we spoke out of turn.”
>>
No. 956607 ID: 470289
File 158199363546.png - (966.07KB , 1000x1000 , 77.png )
956607

“No, a reward will ensure your full effort.” She says after a moment of thought. “If you perform satisfactorily I will place you two and another Toiler in any work detail you desire. Likewise, there shall now be consequences for failure. Disappoint and you’ll be assigned to the mines. Now, you are dismissed.”
>>
No. 956608 ID: 470289
File 158199367870.png - (1.04MB , 1000x1000 , 78.png )
956608

“Yes, thank you very much Preceptor Silver! That is very fair and generous.” I start dragging Junkyard away and whisper. “Let's go before you say anything else stupid."
>>
No. 956609 ID: 470289
File 158199371504.png - (1.07MB , 1000x1000 , 79.png )
956609

Junkyard and I are as quiet on the way down the tunnel as we were on the way up, ignoring the snickers Narko starts spewing once we’re out of earshot of the Silver. But now, instead of a formless blob of dread in my gut I know exactly what to feel anxious about.

I don’t know much of anything about Preceptor Brass. I see him every week but I’ve never had anything like an actual conversation with him. He preaches, we listen. He leaves toilers who fall asleep from overwork alone as long as they don’t snore, and that’s the best thing about him. He’s as toothless as you could hope a diamond would be.

Junkyard always pulls shit like this! She doesn’t think things through, she’s just confident things will work out because she’s tough. But she’s not the one who has to lift us up this time!

>This is a dream come true.
Is it? I just feel sick.

We crawl out of the tunnel and Narko finally seems mostly laughed out.

“Never thought I would see that. A diamond pimping out a lanky to her ward. So what’s your plan then? Seduce him with your...” He looks me over and snorts. “Winning personality?”
>>
No. 956611 ID: 12b116

Why yes, actually.
>>
No. 956614 ID: b1b4f3

>>956609
Tell him if he has some weird ideas about what friendship means.

This is a mission you will take seriously. Have an actual conversation with him, for starters. Find out who he is underneath the preaching.
>>
No. 956616 ID: e7c7d3

>>956604
>>956608
Junkyard's expressions are just magnific.

Ask him if he's volunteering to do so instead?
>>
No. 956626 ID: 094652

He's up to something. The candlelight seemed to ignore his face, when his hand touched the artifact.

You made an impression on him, though. An impression as a slave. He'll want to talk to you, to try to get through your indoctrination... as a personal challenge. You'll learn what scraps you can from his plans and report back.

With lies.
>>
No. 956631 ID: b1b4f3

>>956626
No, wrong person. The guy inspecting the artifacts was Ambassador Riksen. We haven't seen Preceptor Brass yet.
>>
No. 956637 ID: dbd72b

Hm. The consequence is a hitch. How bad are the mines?
Let's be real, though. Failure would always equal punishment, when it's coming from this high up. At least now you can get something out of it, and we know Silver's willing to deal at least a bit to get what she wants, which is good.
If he's a brass, people should know him. Start talking to others about him. You seem to know a lot of guys, start with people most likely to give you something to work with.
Also, are you one of the ones who sleeps? If so, you'll also need to get a handle on how he gives his sermons. Passionate, droning/bored? Is he into redemption and glory, or fire and fury?
>>
No. 956653 ID: ce39da

"Well, I don't know what he's interested in from the start. I think it's best to see if he has any holes in his life that I can fill or an itch I can scratch."

(Translated from easily misunderstood lingo: Watch him, and see if he can present an opening for us to slide into. What makes him tick? What gets on his good side - and I mean his really good side?)
>>
No. 956713 ID: b07f1c

Asher, tell Narko that you'll serve preceptor to the best of our abilities as is your duty.

Narko, tell Asher how that reminds you of that time she did that one thing for you.
>>
No. 957105 ID: 15a025

See if you can't start listening to some word on the street about them.
>>
No. 957184 ID: 470289
File 158249865063.png - (0.97MB , 1000x1000 , 80.png )
957184

>How bad are the mines?
The mines are the last stop for a toiler before death. I’ve only seen miners come back up when they’re put on the gallows or their bodies were sent up for burning. Otherwise, they live the rest of their lives down there. It’s super dangerous and there’s never enough toilers sent down to make the workload bearable, I’ve heard. I think that the diamonds want to make sure it stays a punishment, so they deprive the toilers down there on purpose.

>Are you one of the ones who sleeps in his sermon?
No. It pays off to be respectful, even if they’re boring. He focuses a lot on different stories about Nine Eyes and Silverlock history and he always tells the long versions. He likes to use big words we don’t know without thinking, but if you ask him he’ll explain them.

>People should know him. Start talking to others about him. You seem to know a lot of guys.
I know a lot of lankies, and I know of a lot of important people so I can stay out of trouble. No one I’m on speaking terms with is important enough to hang out with diamonds. Except for… Narko, apparently.

“Are you volunteering to try?” Junkyard asks. “Because you have some weird ideas of friendsh-”
>>
No. 957185 ID: 470289
File 158249870520.png - (0.98MB , 1000x1000 , 81.png )
957185

“I wasn’t talking to you.” Narko shoves his face into mine “I think Silver’s scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to get you to spy on Brass. You got it in you to do whatever it takes to get him to trust you?”

Spy?

"I’ll serve the preceptor to the best of my ability!” I get out.

“That ain’t saying much.” He sneers.

“I can do it!” I say. “I... think it's best to see if he has any holes in his life that I can fill or, or an itch I can scratch. Be useful to him, first."

I should ask him if knows anything about Preceptor Brass, but I don’t know what’s most important to find out!
>>
No. 957188 ID: ce39da

"Does Brass have any problems he needs dealt with?"
>>
No. 957194 ID: 015bf2

>>957185
What's Brass do with his free time? Like... is there anything you could find in common with him, like a hobby?
>>
No. 957210 ID: e7c7d3

Does Brass often ask for... friends/
>>
No. 957218 ID: 60d648

Tell me what know can about preceptor Brass’ personality and whatever you know about his job.
>>
No. 957235 ID: b07f1c

Has he ever noticed Preceptor Brass doing anything strange outside sermons?
>>
No. 957380 ID: 470289
File 158276265469.png - (1.00MB , 1000x1000 , 82.png )
957380

>"Does Brass have any problems he needs dealt with?"
“I doubt it. Boy has been coddled by Silver his whole life.” Narko answers.

>What's Brass do with his free time? Like... is there anything you could find in common with him, like a hobby?
“He keeps to himself. If he ain’t visiting Silver I don’t see him, but Stazi says he spends most of his time in the athenaeum .” Stazi must be his stickler.

“Athanem?” I ask.

“A-the-nae-um.”

“Um…”

“It’s a library.” I... think I recognize that word? “They keep books there.”

“Oh, I’ve seen books before!” I say.

“Yeah, you ain’t gonna find any hobbies in common.”

>Does Brass often ask for... friends?
“How the fuck would I know?”

>Tell me what you can about preceptor Brass’ personality and whatever you know about his job.
“He’s a pushover. Works as a historian or something. Don’t know how that’s important enough to waste a diamond on but it is.”

>Has he ever noticed Preceptor Brass doing anything strange outside sermons?
“Finding that shit out is your job, genius.”
>>
No. 957381 ID: 470289
File 158276268425.png - (943.79KB , 1000x1000 , 83.png )
957381

“Enough. I ain’t got all day to answer questions.” Narko turns and points at me. “Don’t fuck this up Asher. And remember to keep your fuckin’ mouths shut. Be back in this spot in a week to update me.”

Narko leaves the tunnel and pretty soon I can’t even hear his footsteps. Instead, I hear Junkyard walking away.
>>
No. 957382 ID: 470289
File 158276276411.png - (1.16MB , 1000x1000 , 84.png )
957382

“Where are you going?”

“The book place. You can go back to work, I’ll see you back at the dorm.” Junkyard says.

“Wait, what?” I grab her arm. “Why!”

“The asshole said Brass hung out there. Gonna go see him.”

“They won’t let ya into a library! Everyone knows lankies can’t read!”

“So?” Some days Junkyard could make Nine Eyes go blind out of frustration.

“You’ll stick out like a tat in a stick pit! People will start asking questions and wonder why you’re there!”

“And? I’m not gonna tell them.” She says, missing the entire point.

“But they’ll talk and Preceptor Brass’ll hear and then he’ll start wonderin’ ‘Hey why are toilers suddenly so interested in me’ and then we’re fucked and down in the mines!”

Junkyard grimaces. “Fine. What do you think we should do then?”
>>
No. 957383 ID: 470289
File 158276279479.png - (872.52KB , 1000x1000 , 85.png )
957383

Ugh. There’s so much going on I think I’ve gone past the panic I was feeling in Silver’s presence. Oh, wait. Nope. Still freaking out. But I can’t focus on that because we have problems and I need to decide what to do next.

I still need to see Mash. I’ve been gone way too long and I have no idea how far she got with the trash collecting. We still need to meet our quota before the end of the day. And Junkyard just talked her into this situation with us and she needs to know as soon as possible.

Ma’am needs to know about Fingers acting weird. I could be worrying for no reason that he’d do something stupid, but it’s still bothering me. Ma’am can get him to calm down and… maybe I could ask her advice about this whole situation? But Narko said not to tell anyone! I don’t know!

Wait, stop. That’s the panic again. Preceptor Brass. I need to find out info on him. Some of my bosses might have dealt with Brass, so I could ask them?

Ikthiss would be the easiest to get talking, but I don’t think she deals with diamonds very much. Asking her about Brass could just waste time.

I know Artisan Zeebs deals with diamonds, she never shuts up about them. But I’m not in her detail until next week, and I’d need a good excuse for showing up out of the blue and fishing for information. And she gossips so if I stand out too much people are going to know I’ve been asking after Brass.

Artisan Ballabee’s detail is easy to sneak into and out of, so that won’t be a problem. He likes to tell stories so if he does know anything about Brass I could probably get him to talk about him under the cover of one. But he’s so busy, and if I catch him at a bad time he won’t even notice me.

Finally, I could… just go to the Aetheium anyway? It’s dumb but if Brass is there I could try to meet him today instead of waiting for bethel tomorrow. Is there a time-limit to ‘befriending’ him? I’d be winging it, and I would need both a reason for a lanky being around a library and a way to find him inside of it.

And where will I tell Junkyard to go? If she comes with me she could be helpful, but she could also be… like she was up there. Otherwise she can probably do any one or two of these things while I’m busy, but she’s blunt and may not do it how I would.

Unless something else occurs these are my next steps. I can only visit a couple of people before the workday is done because bethel is first thing in the morning and I can’t be wandering around after curfew.
>>
No. 957388 ID: 12b116

Check with Mash first, hopefully it's something quick you can get out of the way.
>>
No. 957392 ID: 5b93d3

Ideally you'd want to finangle someone else into ordering you to go find brass (or at least ordering you to the Athanem for whatever). That way any questions about why a Lanky is there just end up going right on up the chain - and in the wrong direction.
>>
No. 957409 ID: ce39da

Report to Mash about the situation. You've left her hanging long enough, and the deadline for having something to report is in a week, not a day.

Get Junkyard to talk to Ikthiss. Stress to her that she shouldn't ask about only Brass, as that's advertising that she's suddenly interested in him.
>>
No. 957440 ID: 4286b4

I think it would be best to meet Brass today. The relationship should grow slowly and gradually. Exchange a few words today, a few more the next day, etc.; make him become interested in you, rather than vice versa.

Of course, I don't think Mash can wait, so one of us needs to go see her today as well. The question is, if we go see her first, would visiting Athenaeum still be possible today? If not, then I'd prioritize Athenaeum and send Junkyard to Mash.

But I'd also send Junkyard to see Ma'am and Ikthiss, since those should be hard to fuck up. Of course, giving her special instructions to not fuck it up.
>>
No. 957459 ID: ce39da

>>957440
I think approaching him after bethel tomorrow would make for a much more natural first impression, though. We'd even have some good conversation-starters (i.e., questions about the sermon). Finding him at the athenaeum apropos of nothing, as someone who has no business being there, would come off suspicious as hell. We become more justified if it's to continue a conversation we started back at bethel, however. At bethel, we could also phrase a question to hear his casual whereabouts from his mouth, so we can pretend it was him who told us; that'll be another awkward question dodged.
>>
No. 957649 ID: 15a025

Worry about Brass tomorrow and focus on it at the bethel. Right now you should go report to Mash.
>>
No. 958324 ID: 470289
File 158357357261.png - (953.71KB , 1000x1000 , 86.png )
958324

“I’m gonna talk to Mash about all this. She needs to know. Can you go ask Ikthiss if she knows anything about Preceptor Brass?”

“Ikthiss?” She hisses.

“The slissas mostly talk to each other and no one listens to Ikthiss anyway. Even if she tells someone no one will care. She probably hasn’t even met him but it’s worth a try.”

“Fine.” She grumbles.

“And if you have time before curfew can you go tell Ma’am about Fingers actin’ weird? Or better yet, find him and drag him back to her.” I tell her.

“Gladly.” She gives me a nod and heads off.

“Also, remember that she thinks you went to work for Thysin today!” I call after her. Junkyard gives a lazy wave of acknowledgement as she walks away.
>>
No. 958325 ID: 470289
File 158357362807.png - (1.12MB , 1000x1000 , 87.png )
958325

>>
No. 958326 ID: 470289
File 158357365172.png - (1.81MB , 1250x1250 , 88.png )
958326

>>
No. 958327 ID: 470289
File 158357366850.png - (1.13MB , 1000x1000 , 89.png )
958327

>>
No. 958328 ID: 470289
File 158357372604.png - (936.04KB , 1000x1000 , 90.png )
958328

There she is. She got farther along the route than I thought, but we’re still behind. And since her bandana ain’t on and she hasn’t said anything to me yet she’s in one of her down moods. It could be worse, and since Fingers told her I was going to be late maybe I don’t even need to apologize? At least until I tell her the trouble we all got wrapped up in. Still not sure how to tell her that.
>>
No. 958339 ID: fa2754

Help if you can. You can break it to them along the way.
>>
No. 958345 ID: 015bf2

>>958328
Grab a shovel, get to work with vigor to make up for lost time, and explain the situation as best you can.
>>
No. 958351 ID: e7c7d3

Say a simple, sincere "Sorry." Then get to work helping. If they want to talk or want more from you, let them make that move.
>>
No. 958352 ID: ce39da

Yeah, the best apology (with an added "sorry" for acknowledgment's sake) is to make it right; work yourself twice as hard as usual - thrice, if necessary.
>>
No. 958537 ID: b07f1c

Hug her and ask her if she wants a ride.
>>
No. 958930 ID: 470289
File 158407262067.png - (1.05MB , 1000x1000 , 91.png )
958930

“Sorry.”

“S’fine.” Mash mumbles. It’s not, but I’m not going to push her.
>>
No. 958931 ID: 470289
File 158407264129.png - (935.64KB , 1000x1000 , 92.png )
958931

I grab a shovel and start putting my back into it. We work together in silence trying to make up time. She’s moving all dull, but this work is second nature to us at this point, and it doesn’t slow us down.

“Coulda sent a kid.” She mutters after a few streets.

Dammit. “I sent Fingers.”

“I ain’t seen him all day.” Mash grunts.

“Sorry. He’s been off all day, should’ve asked someone else.”

Mash just gives another grunt.

It takes a while to keep her talking as I prod her about her day and accepting the mostly one word answers. Once she’s opened up a little I fill her in on everything that happened today. One upside of her being in this mood is she just nods and absorbs what I say instead of interrupting me every minute.
>>
No. 958932 ID: 470289
File 158407268070.png - (1.20MB , 1000x1000 , 93.png )
958932

We work for a couple of hours and don’t finish too late. There’s still at least an hour before curfew. Mash starts wheeling the cart towards the ashers and I follow.

“Brass got a stickler?” She finally asks.

“Think so. Narko mentioned them off-hand. Stazi.” I answer.

“Could ask about her instead a him. Be less obvious.” Huh. That’s a good idea I hadn’t thought of. After we’re done with this maybe I should try to look into them? Could still be risky.
>>
No. 958933 ID: 470289
File 158407273386.png - (1.13MB , 1000x1000 , 94.png )
958933

Mash wheels us up to the trash hatch and I start knocking.

“Hey! We got trash!”
>>
No. 958934 ID: 470289
File 158407277223.png - (1.16MB , 1000x1000 , 95.png )
958934

Crisp pokes her head out along with a wave of heat as the hatch opens. She hauls herself out with a grin splitting her face.

“Boss! Hi! Haven’t seen ya in a while. Thought they’d already sent ya ta perm’nant detail!” She says, as chipper as ever.

“Hey Crisp. Usually Lil’ Asher answers. Where is he?” I ask.

“Ya lookin’ at her!” She says and puffs her chest out. “Asher got put back in rotation. He got too big. I’m the Asher now.”

“Oh. Well, congrats Crisp.” It’s strange to see a kid that was new when I left take up my old position. Makes me feel old.

“Call me Asher too!” She insists. “It’s a way better name than Crisp! I gotta get it ta catch on before I gotta leave.”

“Alright. Don’t go trying to force it though. It’ll never take.” I didn’t think Crisp was that bad a name, but maybe it got under her skin anyway.

“I know! I ain’t all unsofistikated like I used ta be.” She puffs out her chest a bit with pride.

“Yeah, you made it to the top. You deserve this, Asher.” I tell her and she beams in response.

“I don’t wanna keep ya’ll so go ahead and throw all that shit down here.”

After Mash and I dump the trash and return the cart should I call it a day and go back to the dorms, or try to get something else done in the hour before curfew I have left?
>>
No. 958935 ID: 094652

... Okay, that's just sick. Throwing trash into a red-hot furnace is one thing, going IN the furnace while it's on is outright suicidal. They could at least give the poor kid a fire-resistant scarf to mitigate ash inhaling.

Also, how is her fur not on fire?

Go back to the high district and listen to rumors. You can use them for conversation with Brass.
>>
No. 958936 ID: fa2754

>>958934
Try to catch up with Fingers if you can. Otherwise, let's get some rest.
>>
No. 958937 ID: e7c7d3

Oof, that must've been a rough job.

Call it a day and head to the dorms. It's been eventful enough
>>
No. 958938 ID: 12b116

>>958325
Did we just pass by somebody bleeding out on the ground or what?
>>
No. 958939 ID: 4286b4

... is this why you're called Asher? What were you called before? Does any toiler have a real name?
>>
No. 959051 ID: 3608b5

>>958934
How long did the old Asher last before needing to get replaced?
>>
No. 959066 ID: 015bf2

Wow. That's quite the job. Are y'all fireproof or something?

Anyway, feel a bit of paranoia and go looking for Fingers, then make it for Matron's place just in case Junkyard didn't make it.
>>
No. 959180 ID: 470289
File 158449956225.png - (1.03MB , 1000x1000 , 96.png )
959180

>Did we just pass by somebody bleeding out on the ground or what?
I think that guy was just resting.

>Wow. That's quite the job. Are y'all fireproof or something?
There’s a gel that helps to keep your fur from catching. Cr- Asher’s covered in it.

>... is this why you're called Asher? Does any toiler have a real name?
Yup. What people call you is about as real as a name can get, I figure.

>How long did the old Asher last before needing to get replaced?
Lil’ Asher was in charge the last few years.

We start shoveling in the trash and listening to Asher hum as she moves it into the fires below.

“Hey, when ya get some free time come by and get down here.” Asher calls up. “The new kids don’t believe us when we say ya ain’t got any burns! Ya gotta show ‘em!”

“Maybe later.” I answer. It’s always embarrassing having kids climb all over me. “Mash, I’m gonna go look for Fingers. Want to come?”

“Naw.” She sounds tired. Probably going to go back to the dorm to sleep. She sleeps a lot when she’s like this.
>>
No. 959182 ID: 470289
File 158449975068.png - (1.03MB , 1000x1000 , 97.png )
959182

I leave Mash to return the cart and go looking for Fingers in some of his regular haunts coming up with nothing. No one's seen him. When curfew gets close I head back. Hopefully he’s just been in the dorm and I’ve been wasting my time.
>>
No. 959184 ID: 470289
File 158449982409.png - (840.82KB , 1000x1000 , 98.png )
959184

I walk back to dorm four. Today has been… longer than I expected.
>>
No. 959185 ID: 470289
File 158449986460.png - (1.14MB , 1000x1000 , 99.png )
959185

I go from the front door straight to the kitchen, and Ma’am is waiting inside with a bunch of different helpers.

"Did you eat lunch today?” Ma’am asks, offering me a bowl of stew. “Junkyard said you had something to talk to me about.”
>>
No. 959187 ID: 12b116

Eat the Soup
>>
No. 959197 ID: e7c7d3

Tell her that Fingers brought you to the execution today and said some troubling things. You think you talked sense into them, but still, another sensible voice might help.
>>
No. 959198 ID: 015bf2

potato peel lunch soup yes thank you

>after soup
Lean in to Matron, whisper at her (or ask to go somewhere private) as you don't want the kids overhearing much. Say Fingers interrupted your work to bring you to the execution, turns out there's a hidden cave overlook. Talked weird, asked you if you believed in Nine Eyes, then told you the real story of how he lost his fingers: Monger Redkho making an excuse of him.

Said he didn't have nothing to do with why the Monger that did him in was up on the block, but he got real intense when it for a moment looked like Redkho was getting off light. Funny thing, too - he was left intense even after the deed, if less. Like, as if it wasn't over yet.

You talked a little sense at them, but have no idea if it took, especially as Fingers didn't do an errand you gave them and you couldn't find him at any of his usual haunts when you went looking just now. You're honestly worried for the boy.

Did Junkyard say anything else, by the way?
>>
No. 959202 ID: fa2754

Eat. Eat and unwind. It's been a long day.
>>
No. 959228 ID: b07f1c

Ask her if Junkyard told her anything else.
>>
No. 959866 ID: 470289
File 158535372953.png - (872.72KB , 1000x1000 , 100.png )
959866

“Did she say anything else?” I ask, taking the bowl.

“Some complaining about that slissa you two work with.” She says as she pours more bowls of soup. I take a few sips of my bowl and she hums a bit waiting for me.

“Ma’am, can I talk to you in private for a minute?” I finally ask.

“Sure." She answers. "The kid’s room is empty right now. Cook, get off that thing and keep this stirring. I don’t want any fingers in any pots! Cook’s in charge.”
>>
No. 959867 ID: 470289
File 158535380911.png - (1.04MB , 1000x1000 , 101.png )
959867

Ma’am deflates a little as she leads me into one of the rooms, like she always does when she’s away from the kids.

“Can’t wait for this batch to get out.” She says with a sigh, cradling her stomach. “These little bastards have been sitting on my bladder all week. What did you want to talk about?”

“Fingers.”

“Of course. That boy again.” She sighs. “I hoped hurting his eye would calm him down a bit.”
>>
No. 959868 ID: 470289
File 158535387137.png - (1.12MB , 1000x1000 , 102.png )
959868

“Me and Fingers went to the execution today.” I grab one of the chairs lying around cause it’s a little better than standing.

“He hounded you ‘til you gave in? You have to learn to say no, Asher.” She says closing the trunk next to the wall and carefully lowering herself on it.

“I know, I know. But you always say finish what you start-”

“And sometimes that means not starting. Go on.”

“He kept asking about Nine Eyes and whether I believed in them.”I tell her. “Told me about how Redkho is the one who took his fingers for nothing. Redkho losing his head didn’t calm him down none either, he just kept glaring down at the stage.”

“Down?” She asks.

“Uh… we weren’t in the crowd exactly?” She gives me a disapproving look but doesn’t press. “Anyway I sent on an errand to Mash, but she said he never showed. I was looking for him right before I came back. I’m worried, I don’t think I talked any sense into him before he went off. I think he’ll listen to you, though. Can you keep an extra eye on him, maybe give him a talking to?”

Ma’am is quiet for a second and looks away.

“Maybe he’ll listen to me. Fingers is a hard one.” She turns back and looks a little happier. “But thank you for bringing this up. I can’t help ‘em if I don’t know.”
>>
No. 959869 ID: 470289
File 158535390025.png - (676.60KB , 1000x1000 , 103.png )
959869

“Asher, I’ve been thinking about who to put forward for the new crop of Dorm Managers. Or if I even should put anyone forward. You’re going to be out of here in a few months, but I think you could do more good by staying. A lot of toilers get hard by the time they leave here, but you still care about everyone. That’s important. If you’re willing, I’d like to take you on as my apprentice.”

I don’t know what to say. Should I accept? Can I accept?

Do I tell her about… everything with Brass?
>>
No. 959874 ID: 12b116

What kind of duties does that entail?
>>
No. 959876 ID: fa2754

>>959869
If you could only keep this as a backup plan. You want to try taking a risk and if it pays off, You could be living an easier life. Thank her for the offer though.
>>
No. 959889 ID: 977456

It just feels like too much is going on right now. You really can't commit to anything.
>>
No. 959893 ID: 094652

Just say you're not a free man. You have duties and responsibilities to the coven that must be prioritized over your denmates' hopes and aspirations. Duties that are reinforced by the high, shining, greater-than-copper glory of the diamonds.

Quietly contemplate and resent your situation.
>>
No. 959894 ID: b1b4f3

Yes.

This could be useful for your assignment. Think about it, you're suddenly training for a new job with more social responsibilities. That could cause your behavior to change, so if someone asks why you're suddenly interested in the preacher (or someone near him) then this could be your explanation- you need guidance or something.
>>
No. 959909 ID: dbd72b

What is this going to entail? We have to prioritize Silver's orders, but that doesn't mean we can't use this, or at least maintain it on the side (plus let's be real if you weren't dragged in on this you'd just say yes).

If (and only if) you fully trust her, Without reservation, and are confident she can take the news about Silver/Brass, tell her, regardless of whether you accept or not. Even if she can't help, it's good to have a confidant.
>>
No. 959940 ID: b07f1c

Hmm, I thought only artisans could cook.
How did Ma'am get pregnant?
What does happen to toilers when they leave the dorms?

No, you cannot accept. Because of dealing with the diamonds, your future is too uncertain. Who knows what they'll ask you to do next, or where you might be sent to, so she can't rely on you. It's also better that you don't tell her about Brass because that's an unrelated matter and she's already got plenty on her platter to deal with right now.
>>
No. 959959 ID: 15a025

>>959874
This, but before asking about it. Maybe you should tell her what's going on with Brass.
>>
No. 960871 ID: 470289
File 158612450788.png - (584.75KB , 1000x1000 , 104.png )
960871

“So I’d be working with you?” I ask.

“For a year or two. There’s a lot for you to learn before you’re put in charge of your own dorm. It’s not an easy job, whatever the laborers say. But eventually you’ll be ready to start raising toilers all on your own.” Ma’am says.

>If (and only if) you fully trust her, Without reservation, and are confident she can take the news about Silver/Brass, tell her, regardless of whether you accept or not. Even if she can't help, it's good to have a confidant.
I trust Ma’am. But if I tell her and it gets out it might not only be the three of us who get punished. I can’t put even more responsibility on her. It wouldn’t be fair. I’ll handle it myself, somehow.

And if I can’t… accepting her offer would be selfish.

“Thanks, but I… I don’t think I’m right for that. Sorry.” I choke out.
>>
No. 960872 ID: 470289
File 158612454893.png - (828.67KB , 1000x1000 , 105.png )
960872

“Oh. I thought… nevermind.” I can’t tell if there’s more surprise or disappointment in her voice. “I shouldn’t have put you on the spot, Asher. I’ll take your bowl back to the kitchen.”
>>
No. 960873 ID: 470289
File 158612458298.png - (784.21KB , 1000x1000 , 106.png )
960873

I head back to my room, which I share with the rest of the dozen or so age outs. Junkyard is still awake, but Mash is passed out snoring.

“I never caught up with Fingers, and Ikthiss talked my damn ear off, but I got next to nothing out of her.” Junkyard says.
>>
No. 960874 ID: 470289
File 158612461964.png - (819.58KB , 1000x1000 , 107.png )
960874

“Apparently he goes all over and just sits for a few days writing stuff down. He did Ikthiss’ site one of the weeks we weren’t assigned.” She shifts under me as I climb in my cot. “She said he’s a ‘bookworm’? You heard of that before?”

“Naw. Thanks for doing that Junkyard. I’ll… I’ll handle him tomorrow someway.”
>>
No. 960875 ID: 470289
File 158612464176.png - (641.80KB , 1000x1000 , 108.png )
960875

I’m so tired.
>>
No. 960876 ID: 470289
File 158612467812.png - (1.08MB , 1000x1000 , 109.png )
960876

Bethel.
>>
No. 960880 ID: 12b116

I don't think you should have rejected the offer right away, you just need some time to think on it. If things get too chaotic it might be a problem, but it's certainly a better job than what you're doing now.
>>
No. 960881 ID: 015bf2

Yay, it's time for Bethel. And your unenviable task of winning a Diamond's trust. Woo.
>>
No. 960884 ID: b07f1c

Time?
>>
No. 960920 ID: e7c7d3

Gesundheit!

...
You have an idea Mash?
>>
No. 960937 ID: ce39da

Get ready for Bethel, then. Prepare yourself to really listen this time, and actually consider the sermon’s contents so you can come up with some questions about it for Brass afterward. Make yourself eager to learn and discuss, which may endear you to the learned man.
>>
No. 961602 ID: 15a025

Morning already? Or have we been woken up?
>>
No. 962805 ID: 470289
File 158742757853.png - (842.83KB , 1000x1000 , 110.png )
962805

This happens every other morning.
>>
No. 962807 ID: 470289
File 158742768962.png - (1.06MB , 1000x1000 , 111.png )
962807

“You gotta stop screwing around on the cots, Mash. And bethel isn’t for another hour at least, why’d you wake me up now?” She just grins in response.

“Imma get it right. It’s balance and all. Just need practice.” She rattles off quick. “Anyway, I had a dream. Know how ta get into brassys head. We’re gonna sneak inta his office early and get the scoop on ‘em, right before bethel.”
>>
No. 962811 ID: 015bf2

>every other day
Good thing her head's plenty sturdy, then. Though maybe you should start practicing tossing a pillow or some cloth to stop her fall. Don't want her to knock a screw loose.

>sneak into office
Shush her a bit and consider. It's an idea. But... for one, how's she plan getting into and out of his office without being found? For two, you don't know how to read. Do you? For three, what's there to scoop other than the stuff he's writing? For four, thievin' his stuff or moving it around so he notices will get him wary, so going inside would only be to get a looksie.

That said, reporting what's in his office IS technically information on him. But in that case, maybe it's just better to contrive a way to get yourself invited in and then just act curious and attentive? He might explain what stuff is if you ask - and then the stuff that he doesn't explain or avoids mentioning is what could be of interest.
>>
No. 962825 ID: ce39da

Chide Mash to keep mum about this sort of stuff when people could be paying attention, then ask what she expects to risk our cover to find when neither of us can read.

Considering he's a topic of interest among the crowd today (giving bethel and all), it should be a little safer to ask around about what he's like before service. If he catches wind, we can play it off as just being curious about the diamonds in our life.

Just be prepared to pay attention during service this time; that in itself might be enlightening regarding his personality.
>>
No. 962879 ID: 470289
File 158749056434.png - (1.07MB , 1000x1000 , 112.png )
962879

>Don't want her to knock a screw loose.
It’s way too late for that.

I shush her, but I’m pretty sure no one else is paying attention. Most of the dorm tunes Mash out when she’s talking fast, and they’re going on about Ma’am still being out after she left last night. Mash sticks her tongue out at me but doesn’t mention anything else about it until we hit the street.

“It’s a idea. But it’s risky. We could get caught goin’ in or comin’ out.” I tell her.

“Place’s empty before bethel,” She insists. “And Brass usually comes in just before we start, all huffin’ and puffin’. We’ll have plenty a time, and what is he gonna do if he does find us? Yell at us for being early?”

“What would we even do in there?” I ask. “If it’s all books or something we wouldn’t get anything out of it.”

“Well we won’t know what we’re gonna find until we find it! Could be, like, some really obvious big secret we could find and trade in, and we’ll be done with this spyin’ gig in under a day. Maybe he’s been stealin’ other diamonds diamonds or somethin’.” I pause for a bit.

If we go,” Her smile splits her face even wider. “It’d be for lookin’ only. We’re not touchin’ a thing.”

“I got it, I got it.” She says and we finish the rest of the distance to bethel in a few minutes. “Here’s the joint for our first Finger’s Foray. You wanna go in the front door or do you wanna try some climbing and go in from up top. Or we could split up. Unless you wanna wimp out now and go ‘askin’ for in-for-ma-tion’.”
>>
No. 962881 ID: 0fae41

Use those arms of yours for climbing!
>>
No. 962884 ID: fb820f

I suppose anything that we learn about him could be useful...

Split up. We go from he top, Mash goes from the bottom and she whistles or coughs loudly if she encounters someone.
>>
No. 962892 ID: 015bf2

Haha, a Finger's Foray? Catchy, but don't let him hear you say that. It'll either offend or give him airs, and you don't know which will be worse!

(You hope the tyke's alright.)

Anyway, you got a clue where the office is? If so, you can try climbing to get sneaky deaky access-like. Maybe send one to climb, the other distracts the fisherguy from seeing 'em?
>>
No. 962934 ID: e7c7d3

There's a ladder practically asking you to sneak in.
>>
No. 963528 ID: 470289
File 158781158937.png - (1.05MB , 1000x1000 , 113.png )
963528

“Alright, I’ll go up. Keep an eye out for me?” I ask.

“Uuuuuugh. Fine. But next time I get to do the fun stuff. Hey, old guy, we’re just going to bethel all normal like, right? Nothin’ suspicious here.”

“Don’t give a fuck.” He answers.

“Boom. Job done.”
>>
No. 963529 ID: 470289
File 158781168327.png - (1.04MB , 1000x1000 , 114.png )
963529

I check out a few windows on the third floor I’m sure I can get into. One has a bunch of books and dusty looking pictures and bowls and stuff in it? I’m pretty sure it’s empty, at least. Another has a bed with someone in it, cause I heard some snoring, but I couldn’t make out who it was from where I was looking. And finally there was a room I couldn’t really make anything out in it was so dark. The light from outside just showed a bit of the floor that had some weird drawings on it. I almost wish I had one of Finger’s stolen stones to see inside properly.

This room has the only person I’m sure is awake on this floor, a rough diamond, one of their youngin’s. She’s sat in on some of the bethels recently but never said anything. Don’t even know her name. She really focused on that book, I did a test wave of my hand by the window and she didn’t even notice. I don’t think she’d notice me looking through the other rooms, but I should still keep her in mind.
>>
No. 963533 ID: e7c7d3

Check the room with weird scribbles. There's surely a light source already in there that can be activated
>>
No. 963549 ID: 015bf2

CAREFULLY check on snoring guy. Is it the Diamond you're looking for? In that case the bedroom would be his private-most sanctum and he'd keep anything unusual or private close at hand, like on a desk nearby or under his pillow or somethin'. Check out the room carefully for anything that looks unusual to keep near your bed.
>>
No. 963573 ID: ce39da

>>963549
If that's where he's sleeping, then that is the most DANGER DANGER 5-Alarm risk we could take here.

I cast my vote for the scribble room.
>>
No. 963743 ID: 15a025

Let's check that scribble room.
>>
No. 963813 ID: 094652

Begin conversation. Caste untouchability is genocide.
>>
No. 964380 ID: 470289
File 158821303519.png - (1.16MB , 1000x1000 , 115.png )
964380

I move the panels over the window and climb in. It’s dark but the larger opening is helping me make things out.
>>
No. 964381 ID: 470289
File 158821308729.png - (1.00MB , 1000x1000 , 116.png )
964381

Well, there’s a lot of… they must be Nine Eyes statues, but I’ve never seen any like these before. They look like sticklers and tats and one of them looks kind of like that ambassador guy from yesterday, but smaller. There’s a weird amount of space between them and the wall, which is making the room feel smaller than it is. And the scribbles aren’t just on the floor.
>>
No. 964382 ID: 470289
File 158821315615.png - (1.00MB , 1000x1000 , 117.png )
964382

I close my eyes to get them adjusted faster and when I open them about a minute later I can see pretty well. I don’t recognize the scribbles at all. They don’t look like writing, I think, but I can’t say I really trust myself to tell the difference between the scribbles they put on signs and the scribbles on these walls.
>>
No. 964384 ID: 470289
File 158821321777.png - (1.04MB , 1000x1000 , 118.png )
964384

Well, I’m inside and have at least a few minutes. Maybe I should try to… copy the symbols somehow and give them to Silver? I’d be assuming they’re important if I did that. Or I could be a little more hands on and look through the desk, or look through some stuff? Maybe something else?

...I really don’t like that eye in the corner. It feels like it’s looking at me. Like, more than Nine Eyes' eyes always feels like they’re looking at you.
>>
No. 964386 ID: e7c7d3

Oh, uh, you might not be alone anymore. Maybe back up to the window or the door before whatever that is fully emerges from the ceiling
>>
No. 964392 ID: fd5772

>>964381
Get the f*** out of there right now Asher, you're gonna die to that thing from the ceiling!
>>
No. 964393 ID: 015bf2

>>964384
... move through the room to the door and walk through. You were just taking an unconventional path to Bethel on a dare, yep yep.
>>
No. 964398 ID: fa2754

>>964393
This. Just keep on moving through.
>>
No. 964433 ID: 5877dc

Keep looking at these statues for a bit longer, then turn your head around and accidentally kiss.
>>
No. 964445 ID: b1b4f3

>>964393
This.
>>
No. 964448 ID: 0fae41

Just reach up and grab those handlebars.
>>
No. 965182 ID: 470289
File 158871208319.png - (1.05MB , 1000x1000 , 119.png )
965182

>Just keep on moving through.
>...move through the room to the door and walk through.
>Get the f*** out of there right now Asher
I get the hell out of there, eyes glued to the thing.
>>
No. 965183 ID: 470289
File 158871210238.png - (832.59KB , 1000x1000 , 120.png )
965183

What was that thing? Where did it come from? Did it see me? Is it going to come after me?

Is shit like that what I’m supposed to be looking for?!
>>
No. 965184 ID: 470289
File 158871213011.png - (835.49KB , 1000x1000 , 121.png )
965184

I can’t go back out through that room. But I’m not sure if I’ve even learned anything yet. Do I try to just get out through the empty library room? Or do I keep looking around, and where if I do? This is the third floor of the building, so I could always try going down instead of checking more rooms up here. I think I know where the stairs are, based on where I’ve seen them on the bottom floor.

I could also risk peeking in at the thing behind me? Assuming it’s not behind the door waiting to attack me or something. I might be wasting time thinking and it’s going to come out of the room any second!

At least I didn’t leave anything that makes it obvious I was in here.
>>
No. 965185 ID: 470289
File 158871216845.png - (714.20KB , 1000x1000 , 122.png )
965185

>>
No. 965190 ID: e7c7d3

That door handle could from anything! Head towards the stairs? Are they up or down? Probably should try to find what's-his-names's bedroom
>>
No. 965231 ID: 0fae41

Well, hold on to that. It could get you into places.

Go back and watch that thing! It's clearly the most interesting thing happening right now.
>>
No. 965240 ID: 015bf2

>oh no
Err... um. You can huck it through the window if you get back outside? You can try to sneak a peek and deposit it back in at the same time? Just leave it by the door and hope why it ended up on the outside just becomes a mystery?

Man, something actually came out of a stone ceiling! You can’t handle this situation!

But you gotta. That or the mines. Keep exploring, but you should consider an exit strategy and how long you can spend. Going out by way of the library window after exploring a few more things and listening for footsteps and at any door you want to go through is probably wise.

Maybe you can go up a floor to see where that thing came from? Seeing how... unique it is, it’s certainly something to report.
>>
No. 965241 ID: 12b116

Leave the handle next to the door and go to the stairs quick. Go up or down, whichever feels better.
>>
No. 965285 ID: fd5772

>>965185
hide the handle in your pants
>>
No. 965399 ID: ce39da

Head outside through the library and see what you can see from the window into the squiggle room. If the demon is gone, (underhand!) toss the handle towards the base of the door you left through - truthfully, the clatter of the handle hitting the floor will fit with the assumed story of "the handle just fell off on its own."
>>
No. 965790 ID: 470289
File 158897331237.png - (0.99MB , 1000x1000 , 123.png )
965790

Peeking is a really big risk, even if part of me wants to. I’ll get rid of the handle later. Maybe I’ll toss it back through the window on my way out, if that thing is gone (and get another peek of it if it isn’t)? They might assume it broke on it’s own if I’m lucky. I head towards where I figure the stairs are and there’s a set going down. I know I saw a fourth floor from the outside, but I guess the entrance is somewhere else. If I want to check out where the thing came from I’ll need to search some more on this floor.

Anyway I know a way to get out through the library, so I can risk a bit more exploration and I have probably a little under an hour before bethel starts and I need to be back outside. Assuming Mash will wait for an hour.

She probably won’t.
>>
No. 965791 ID: 470289
File 158897334801.png - (1.18MB , 1000x1000 , 124.png )
965791

I go down the stairs slowly and quietly, keeping my ears open for any sounds. I think I hear something below, but it’s really low and light.
>>
No. 965792 ID: 470289
File 158897336775.png - (1.09MB , 1000x1000 , 125.png )
965792

It’s snoring.
>>
No. 965795 ID: e7c7d3

Time to be sneaky! Those papers are probably important. Anything on them you can recognize? Like a picture or a graph? Any important looking symbols on the nearby books?
>>
No. 965879 ID: ce39da

Approach if you want, but do not continue past; if the way out is blocked after here, and he wakes, or someone else comes to this room, we'll be trapped. Not to mention that, even if it's in an hour, people might start approaching the outside before Bethel.
>>
No. 966007 ID: 015bf2

>>965792
Have a look around first, but... ponder an idea. A risky, but potentially rewarding idea. You've been struggling on how to come up with approaching the Preceptor.

Whatever Caevaexerin Brass is doing, after all, it's something that has his immediate superior - to which he is a ward - cautious or curious, meaning that he's kept it hidden from them successfully. He's clearly the studious type, and has not come across as particularly imperious or cruel, seeming to glorify and put actual effort in teaching others (though living a bit in a bubble of his own).

So... while you could just sneak in, poke about, and sneak out hoping you weren't discovered, there's another option to win his trust: waking him and telling the (almost) truth, before throwing yourself at his mercy.

Tell him you were early for Bethel, a friend of yours challenged you to sneak in. You were curious, so you did, but... there's a monster upstairs. You think? Something. It scared the living daylights out of you when you snuck in, cuz' it came... through the roof. Like, the rock. Without breaking it?

Ask whether you did something really bad. Was the monster a defense Diamonds have that you triggered? You're so sorry, but you're worried for your friend - they'll be impatient if you don't come out soon and you're worried they'll run into the thing themselves if they try to follow. (might get you an explanation on the monster while he's too drowsy and befuddled to think up lies, and its presence risking exposure by someone else and informing you that there's someone who could report your sudden disappearance)

Tell him please, you're so sorry and you'll do anything to make up for the intrusion and you won't tell anyone about his guard monster. You were just curious and thought you might see something new and interesting, but it was wrong of you. (offering him perceived leverage over you might make him keep you close + he might feel kinship with someone showing curiosity)

If everything goes well the monster is one of his secrets (you've never heard of the like, so it better be!) and Brass really is amiable enough to not punish you too harshly. He might swear you to secrecy and might want to keep a close eye on you to boot, which means you'd get transferred to HIS work detail or something similar. And once in on one of his secrets he'd have an easier time letting you in on more, at least if you play your cards right.

You can even sell this angle to him if you get discovered sneaking around like a thief - the monster blocked your way out and trapped you in a bad situation - so you were just trying to find a way out. Though waking him, admitting fault and pleading for mercy is the more trust-inspiring move and will be an excuse to ask him directly what that thing was. It could even be an excuse for your interest in him from here on if he just says 'yep, that was just a defensive measure, you silly girl' and lets you go.

All of this assumes he doesn't just charge you with breaking an entering and gets you punished and/or banished from his Bethel sermons, which obviously would be the absolute worst. But the risk of this otherwise mostly harmless Diamond doing that seems low. Ish. Low-ish.
>>
No. 966024 ID: 15a025

It could be risky, but sneak up a little closer and see if there's anything on the desk you recognize?
>>
No. 966233 ID: 5877dc

I don't think befriending Brass has any meaning on its own. Instead, I believe that the true reason for you to be doing this is so that you'd gain access to his chambers or possessions or whatever. And one of those must be what Silver is actually after. In other words, you should scan those papers and any other items that may be nearby for anything noteworthy and remember it.

If there are any blankets around, you should cover him with one. If this wakes him up, good. If it doesn't, then you can later mention that you were the one that covered him.
>>
No. 966662 ID: 470289
File 158950086349.png - (0.99MB , 1000x1000 , 126.png )
966662

I sneak up to the desk to check it out. It’s mostly just lots of paper and a little drool. There’s more words on them, different shapes from the ones in that room, and little laprines and cubes and stuff on them. I can’t tell if the drawings are related to what’s on the paper or just bored doodles. Some are on the edges of the paper, and some right in the middle where he just wrote around them.

There are stairs to the first floor, which should be empty, I think? But everyone is going to be down there for bethel, so I don’t know if anything important would even be down there to look at. And there’s no blankets or anything down here, just rows and rows of books. I would have to go back up to find one if I wanted to cover him up.
>>
No. 966663 ID: 470289
File 158950088497.png - (740.77KB , 1000x1000 , 127.png )
966663

>>965792
...I could just wake him up, right?

I’m not a spy, I have no idea if I can pull this off. I don’t even know what I’m looking for yet. But if I wake Brass up then, well… something would have to happen. Whether I make up a lie or tell him the truth or something in-between I’d either get a lot closer to him real fast, or fail this mission and get punished by tomorrow.

If I had to bet that any diamond would let me get away with sneaking into their home after finding out it’d be Brass. Narko called him a pushover and I had never thought of him in that way before but it makes sense. Maybe he lets people sleep in bethel because waking them up would be harder for him, not because he’s nice. Not making waves is usually the best option, when you can pick it. And letting out that a toiler snuck into your house could be more waves then he wants.

Or maybe he’s a kind person. Or he’s mean but pretends to be kind, or he’s lazy, or unobservant, or stupid in some way. Maybe thinking about him in this way is the total wrong way to do it. He could be almost any type of person, I just don’t know.

It would be a gamble. Risky. Not just for me, but for Mash and Junkyard too. Should I take it? Is he harmless?

>Wake him.
>Leave him.
>>
No. 966671 ID: e7c7d3

Wake him. Say you were looking for little tasks to do before bethel and you noticed that he was drooling on his notes.
>>
No. 966673 ID: ce39da

You still need to dispose of that door-handle via the window into the room from which it came. Leave Brass alone and do that first, at the very least.
>>
No. 966718 ID: 5877dc

Do you recall Brass ever being late for a bethel? If so, then this would explain why and then it would be less risky to wake him up, since you'd have an excuse that you wouldn't want him to be late. But if he was never late before, then it means he always wakes up on time, and you wouldn't have a good excuse of waking him up.

All in all, I'm still in favor of just getting some cloth to cover him up, but otherwise against waking him up.
>>
No. 966845 ID: 15a025

Wake him up.
>>
No. 966885 ID: 0fae41

Leave him.
...With a letter from an anonymous admirer. (Or trinket, if you can't write. Just draw a heart.)
>>
No. 967043 ID: 015bf2

>Is he harmless?
Time to find out. Wake him up.
>>
No. 968008 ID: 12b116

You're 100% in a place you aren't supposed to be. Leave him. Waking him up is a bad idea.
>>
No. 968073 ID: b1b4f3

Don't be dumb. Let him sleep.
>>
No. 968137 ID: c2edf6

Aw shucks. Well... tables ain't meant for sleepin' on, so might as well wake him up. We'd basically be savin' 'em from the world of inconvenient back pains.
>>
No. 968402 ID: 470289
File 159079359178.png - (1.41MB , 1000x1000 , 128.png )
968402

I still need to get rid of this door handle before I wake him up, I can’t just have it hanging out of my pocket. Maybe I should just stash it behind one of those dusty books instead of going all the way back up and maybe running into the monster again?

But after that what will I say when I wake him up? Pretend I’m doing it so he’s not late for bethel would work, but it’s still too early for that excuse. I could act like I’m just really eager to learn about Nine Eyes or wanted some extra early tasks when I noticed him?

Then again even if I’ve never been told I’m not allowed to walk all through bethel without supervision it’s probably because no one is dumb enough to actually do it.

But then again-
>>
No. 968403 ID: 470289
File 159079362209.png - (1.42MB , 1000x1000 , 129.png )
968403

“You gonna kiss him or sumthin’?”
>>
No. 968404 ID: 470289
File 159079369146.png - (1.17MB , 1000x1000 , 130.png )
968404

“What’re you doin’ here? You’re supposed to be lookout! And be quiet!” I whisper. The preceptor gives a small snort, but doesn’t move thankfully.

“If Brass didn’t hear you mumblin’ to yourself he ain’t gonna hear me. And I looked out. Tat’s comin’ up with a bag of stuff. Had a key to the door and all. We don’t got a whole lot of time.”
>>
No. 968405 ID: 470289
File 159079375604.png - (1.45MB , 1000x1000 , 131.png )
968405

“So which shelf you wanna go between?” She asks pointing to all the books and shelves behind us.

“Um, if someones awake and movin' around we should definitely go back up and leave.” I say.

“We’re here to spy, duh. We’re gonna hide and listen in on brassy and the long ear.” She’s grinning again. That’s always a bad sign. And I think I can hear footsteps from the stairs going below.
>>
No. 968407 ID: b1b4f3

No time, hide in bookshelves.
>>
No. 968409 ID: 0fae41

Take a look from the books.
>>
No. 968410 ID: e7c7d3

Perhaps we could eavesdrop at the top of the stairs? Wait no, there's that demon junior brass up there who could walk into us.

Farthest bookcase. Try to keep Mash under control though.
>>
No. 968413 ID: ce39da

"If you want to get yourself punished, so be it; tell me what happened after you get back to me, and don't do anything to reveal yourself until they're gone. I'm going to go make sure this door handle isn't found in the wrong place."
>>
No. 968416 ID: 5877dc

I'll take the Shelf Number Two.
>>
No. 968432 ID: c2edf6

Snag one of Brass' notes while you're at it
>>
No. 968564 ID: 15a025

Time to hide between the shelves and hope no one hears us.
>>
No. 968960 ID: fd5772

>>968405
I think he's starting to wake up. Hide!
>>
No. 969700 ID: e5e15e
File 159211186843.png - (942.33KB , 1000x1000 , 132.png )
969700

I grab a piece of paper from the desk before following Mash behind a nearby bookshelf. She’s already moving books out of the way to make a peeking spot and knocking dust into the air around us.

“We should go further back, what if they hear us moving from here. Or if he just looks over here?” I whisper as I stifle a sneeze.

“Just be real still and keep your head outta view.” She answers.
>>
No. 969701 ID: e5e15e
File 159211189285.png - (797.16KB , 1000x1000 , 133.png )
969701

“Z, you up yet?” The fancy tat calls out. I recognize him as one of Artisan Zeebs’ tailors, but I don’t remember his name. “I brought you and the girls breakfast.”

Once he sees Brass snoring a smile creeps onto his face.
>>
No. 969702 ID: e5e15e
File 159211193791.png - (956.62KB , 1000x1000 , 134.png )
969702

He bends down to place the plate on the table and the smell of the wraps he’s carrying wafts over to us. It reminds me that Mash rushed us out so quickly we forgot to grab breakfast. I can’t make out any of the words Fancy whispers into Brass’ ear, but the snores start turning into moans and fidgeting.
>>
No. 969704 ID: e5e15e
File 159211204190.png - (973.44KB , 1000x1000 , 135.png )
969704

Fancy stops whispering as Brass begins to blindly fumble around for his glasses.

“I’d really prefer if you didn’t do that.” Brass squeaks out once he’s put them back on his face.

“But if I don’t I miss seeing you blush. How’s that fair to me?” He replies.
>>
No. 969706 ID: e5e15e
File 159211219101.png - (790.63KB , 1000x1000 , 136.png )
969706

“Blugh. How long was I asleep? What time is it?” Brass asks as he starts collecting the papers on the table.

“Early enough Rammubabi still had wraps left for me to snatch.” Fancy answers.

“Way too early, then.” Brass sighs.

“Only for shinies. Hey, I got a glimpse at that foriegn fatass walking with Silver. You talked to him? Is it true he broke a chair just by sitting in it? Never even heard of a monger doing that!”

“Did I...? Sorry, what did you say?” Brass keeps flipping through his papers over and over.

“I asked you for the latest gossip, ya troglodyte. Give me those secret preceptor deets.” Fancy lightly prods.

“Calling me a troglodyte isn’t as endearing or insulting as you might think. Unlike you and your ilk I don’t get involved in politics.” He pauses. “Unless it’s over a hundred years old, I suppose.”

“Don’t give me that.” Fancy’s voice gets a bit more serious. “Silver and Steel let in a laprine that’s not one of us. That’s not just rinky-dink politics. You have to know something.”

“I really think you’re making too big a deal out of this. It’s just some boring trade deal talk, we’ve always done foriegn trade.” Brass says.

“Boring? Foreign trade deals that don’t involve mongers? I haven’t seen any preening around lately. Has that ever happened before, Mr. History?”

“Of course not, Mongers are our link to the outside world, it’s their… oh. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that.” He scratches his head.



“...Did you grab one a those papers? I thought ya said we ain’t supposed to touch anythin’.” Mash asks.
>>
No. 969708 ID: b1b4f3

>>969706
May as well read it and see what it says.
>>
No. 969709 ID: 5877dc

Brass is gay~

Yes, why did we grab a paper? Wouldn't Brass very quickly figure out that one's missing? Tell Mash it was just an impulse.

Nothing to do but to keep waiting.

>>969708
Toilers can't read.
>>
No. 969711 ID: 53560f

Don’t say anything just put a finger to your lips and continue watching.
>>
No. 970009 ID: 8fab7a

Just shake your head slightly at Mash. Hope she gets the hint.

Seems like they're discussing the diplomat you met. Him being around is apparently a Big Deal to some. Not, apparently, to Brass though, even if he can't adequately explain why.

Either he's scatter-brained, smart enough to downplay the significance or there's genuinely nothing that wrong with having the guy here.
>>
No. 970540 ID: e5e15e
File 159298417331.png - (907.11KB , 1000x1000 , 137.png )
970540

I put my finger to my lips and Mash gives me a look, but she turns back to the peephole.



“Look,” Fancy’s voice loses a bit of it’s lightness. “I know you hate it, but you need to take it seriously. Politics is life and death, you can’t just ignore it your whole life.”

“Watch me. Also, you can consider my lips sealed on any more foreigner talk, even with your offering of wraps. I am loath to contribute anything to that cursed rumor mill that runs through Artisan Zeebs.” Brass answers.

Fancy gives a fake gasp. “Z, do you think I’d tell Zeebs of all laprines anything? My lips aren’t loose, as you well know.”

“I already told you to stop with that. Why did you even come by, just to feed me and make lewd comments? Wait, of course that’s why you came by.”

“Well actually,” Fancy reaches into a pocket pulling out a glass bottle and placing it on the table. “Oriatill gave me this yesterday. He said you never came to pick them up.” He almost sounds like he’s scolding Brass, but no one would scold a diamond.

“Oh, of course.” Brass answers. “I’ve been so busy it must have slipped my mind. Thank you for picking them up for me.”

“Z…” His tone reminds me of Ma’am’s when she’s disappointed in us.
>>
No. 970541 ID: e5e15e
File 159298419665.png - (762.32KB , 1000x1000 , 138.png )
970541

Brass grabs the bottle and downs one of the balls.

“Stop looking at me like that Luzi, it’s only been a few days. Now go up and grab the girls before their wraps get cold.”
>>
No. 970542 ID: e5e15e
File 159298422455.png - (758.37KB , 1000x1000 , 139.png )
970542

“Alright. Remember it’s one each for five people, not five for one short glutton.” Fancy, or Luzi, jokes heading towards the stairs.

“Be quick then, because I make no promises.” Brass fires back muffled.
>>
No. 970543 ID: e5e15e
File 159298424320.png - (751.93KB , 1000x1000 , 140.png )
970543

>>
No. 970544 ID: e5e15e
File 159298427054.png - (525.55KB , 1000x1000 , 141.png )
970544

Brass puts the ball back in the bottle before heading over to a nearby shelf and picking out a brown book.
>>
No. 970545 ID: e5e15e
File 159298429012.png - (617.62KB , 1000x1000 , 142.png )
970545

“There’re more bottles in that thing.” Mash whispers. Her eyes are sharper than mine, I thought the glint was just my imagination.
>>
No. 970546 ID: e5e15e
File 159298432233.png - (710.32KB , 1000x1000 , 143.png )
970546

He puts the book back after he places the bottle inside and starts to head into more stacks across from us. Mash moves as soon as Brass is out of view. I reflexively grab her shoulders to stop her.

“What are you doing?” I hiss.

“You got somethin’, I want somethin’.” She answers, starting to squirm to get out from under my grip. “Bet my bottles are gonna be way better than your rinky-dinky paper.”

This could be our last chance to get out through the bottom floor before more people come here. If they do, trying to get out through one of the big windows might be our only way out, and I didn’t think to check from outside if those actually could open. It’s either those or hiding here until another opportunity comes.
>>
No. 970548 ID: 0fae41

Remember what book those bottles are in and you can point them out later. For now, go.
>>
No. 970550 ID: b1b4f3

>>970546
Taking a bottle is too overt. Take a ball out of one of them. That can be missed!
>>
No. 970560 ID: 4286b4

Do we have time to take one of the balls out of a bottle?
There's also a question of what to do with these things. What's the purpose of these balls? We'd have to find out somehow. And the page. Do we know of anyone we could show it to, who'd be able to tell us what's written on it?

For now, take one of the balls and keep the paper page. And exit the place... or stay for the bethel.
>>
No. 970565 ID: ce39da

"This isn't a contest, but if you're adamant about the medicine, take just a ball of it - much less likely to be missed than a whole bottle. Getting out without getting caught will be your own business; I need to go hide this door handle, so we'll meet back up in bethel."

Get out of there and see if there's enough time to go out and throw the door handle up onto the roof you initially infiltrated without any witnesses. If not, hide it somewhere where someone up there could conceivably throw it.
>>
No. 970583 ID: 12b116

Stealing a whole bottle will definitely arouse suspicion, and if now is our only chance to escape we better take it. stealing one of the balls would be the ideal option but we need to make sure we have a clean getaway
>>
No. 970850 ID: 15a025

Risk it and go for the bottles.
>>
No. 971259 ID: 470289
File 159366593346.png - (1.50MB , 1000x1000 , 144.png )
971259

“This ain’t a contest. If you’re going to grab somethin’ just grab one ball. He won’t notice that.” I let go of Mash and we move across the open space, where Brass could see us. I stuff the paper into the same pocket I have the handle in.

I keep moving over to the stairs and some cover while Mash stops in front of the shelf and slips the book out. I need to keep an eye out to make sure Brass doesn’t turn around while Mash is fiddling with the bottles and Luzi doesn’t come down the stairs and bump right into us. Once Mash has the ball we’ll head out, stash the stuff, and circle back for bethel like normal. After I toss the handle on the roof of course. Then we can relax and figure out what to do with the page and ball. Maybe I can find a slissa to tell us what’s written on the paper, if we think they won’t talk. Or something else, we’ll have time.

I can feel Mash grinning at the back of my head. It’s gonna be a chore to make sure she doesn’t brag about this for the next week, especially since this whole thing was her idea.

>Do we have time to take one of the balls out of a bottle?
We should, as long as Mash is fast. Speaking of…

“Hurry up.” I hiss.

“Gimme a sec, gotta get the bottle open and not spill nuthin’. I only got two hands.” I turn back watching the staircase and listening for any warning sounds.
>>
No. 971260 ID: 470289
File 159366597351.png - (1.36MB , 1000x1000 , 145.png )
971260

I hear glass break behind me.
>>
No. 971261 ID: 470289
File 159366599626.png - (1.35MB , 1000x1000 , 146.png )
971261

What the fuck is she doing?

Every other bottle is in pieces except the one in her hand and there’s no way Brass didn’t hear her slamming the book down. He has to have seen her now. But her eyes are wild and focused on me, not looking back towards him. She… wants me to get ready?
>>
No. 971262 ID: 470289
File 159366602155.png - (1.43MB , 1000x1000 , 147.png )
971262

I bring my hand up to catch the bottle before she throws it in the middle of her spin into a run. I don’t know if the catch is luck or me reading her right.

She’s running away from the stairs, our way out, and the only thing I can think is she’s trying to get caught while I escape.

She wants me to leave her.

That fucking idiot! Does she think I can do that?
>>
No. 971263 ID: b1b4f3

>>971262
What choice do you fucking have? Get out of there.
>>
No. 971264 ID: e7c7d3

Head down the stairs. Find a place that you can safely stash the goods and then help Mash. Going to take some quick talking though
>>
No. 971269 ID: 0fae41

She's giving you no choice, so give her no choice. Chase her. Tackle her. And drag her to hiding.
>>
No. 971287 ID: 4286b4

Either she gets caught, or you both get caught. I think you know what the better choice is. Leave without her.
>>
No. 971289 ID: ce39da

You can. Keep in mind that this has just turned into a massive shit-show for Brass, too, as it's incredibly likely that the guy he's hiding this from isn't far behind. Therefore, while she's in deep shit, it might not be as deep as we fear, seeing as the Diamond still has to do Bethel, and may or may not be in trouble, himself.
>>
No. 971299 ID: fa2754

>>971262
I think she saw something you didn't. Take her lead and run.
>>
No. 971300 ID: 8fab7a

>>971299
Oh. Oooh. She's been spotted. By that thing from earlier. Uh. Check to see if it's still there? Or maybe not. Maybe run. Or... agh!

This is the worst. You were here to befriend Brass, earn his trust (somehow), not cause a huge ruckus that's gonna leave him in a hell of a mood! Pray Mash is too smart to lay hand on Brass in her attempt to escape as obviously as possible.

You need to get out of here yourself. Or at least secure your 'gains' before you do anything.

>>971264
Finding somewhere close to stash the handle, the paper and the medicine seems about the best you can do (maybe even here in the library?). And then... pretend you arrived on the scene after hearing the ruckus, having waited in the wings?

Though, if you clean up the majority of the mess NOW and prevent Luzi (Mr. Fancy) from seeing the intact bottle and realizing what -actually- happened, Brass might realize you did damage control for him (deliberately or accidentally) and in his rush to cover up the truth might grant favor or clemency.

As for Mash... Mash can't talk her way out of a wet paper bag, right? She's gonna need help if she gets stopped or caught, right? Even if she got away you can talk and beg clemency, say she/you was just curious about the library, offer to do anything to make up for it, dispose of the (bundled-up in your shirt) mess, etc.

>>971289
Brass may not be in any deep shit. That we know about, at least. Yet. He's likely annoyed someone spied on and then accidentally exposed a secret of his whose value we have no idea about up to and including how far he'd go to hide it.
>>
No. 971305 ID: 7d9195

Why does it feel like Mash did this intentionally? Why would she wish to sabotage your mission? Does it have something to do with her dream earlier? Or was she somehow talked into this by someone else?
>>
No. 971307 ID: 70a051

>>971305
Mash's expressions suggest dropping the first bottle was an actual accident, but after that she decided to smash the rest so Brass wouldn't notice the absence of the one she gave us.
>>
No. 971308 ID: 7d9195

>>971307
The way she's looking away makes it seem precisely like she did it on purpose.
You look away, you drop the item, and then you say "Oops!". The cliché!
>>
No. 971449 ID: 8fab7a

>>971308
Someone pointed out that she looks up and her expression might be one of surprise, not eye-rolling. We've already seen something/someone that can poke through walls.

Shock at seeing that thing/person has already lead to one mishap (the door handle), so it's not unthinkable that Mash jerked in surprise and dropped the glass, then just reacted quickly from there.
>>
No. 971977 ID: 15a025

No time to think about it now. Hop to it and run before you both get caught!


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