What part of Ssaelism do you find the most challenging?

We are told to both cherish mortal life and to not cling to mortal life, for the khert will strip our memories of it from us. This is a challenge that in principle I understand; however when my son clasps my fingers or my wife laughs at her father's stories in the next room or my brother brings to me a book he thought I might enjoy - this is when I wonder of what stuff the Gefendur gods were made to have been able to create a world that is so flawed and yet so exquisite; a world with room enough among the hunger and cruelty for love to sink its roots and stubbornly grow. I know that whatever good intentions the gods may have began with for this world were obliterated by their own hubris and cruelty as the eons ground on, but I wonder if they were able to recognise their folly at the end, and mourn their own aborted dreams.

As a Ssaelit I know that I should never love this world too much. This world certainly does not love me with the same fullness in return. Yet knowing and doing are different, and it is a challenge to embrace those for whom I care so deeply while keeping wedged between us the bitter shield of cosmic edification.

A thought experiment: A carriage is hurtling down a hill towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you –

"your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto its path, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?"

I would bleed the carriage of its Momentum until it came to a delicate stop just shy of the cliff's edge. There is no need to murder fat men when a spellwright is about.

Are widows who are illsuited to secretarial work and too old to remarry, is there any other work that it is acceptable for them to do?

I would hope to see them working in their own son or daughters' home, minding their grandchildren and enjoying their later years. I suppose they might seamstress or somesuch but a good woman need never fear for her welfare in such a situation. Her ghers will tend to her. A ghers minds its own. If she be a fallen woman however, God help her.

Do men whose wives are called ere their time ever remarry?

Frequently they do. It was considered strange that my father chose not to, and I recall many a heated conversation between him and my grandfather and the other elders of our ghers when I was a boy. I never could square the courage to ask him the reason why he chose to remain alone, then, but after meeting my Leysa I never needed to. For some men there is only one woman. Better to walk alone than with another who can never be more than a painful shadow. Why inflict that on another? Why inflict it on oneself?

Rector, is it common for widows to remarry? Is it customary for them to marry the yet unmarried male relatives of their late husbands? If, for example, something unfortunate happened to you, would it be expect that Lemuel would take Leysa as wife?

Indeed, and Lemuel would do well to light a candle and say a prayer for my good health for Leysa would have him in a cravat with his hair tamed and his vliegeng enrolled in an obedience college before the sun had set on their wedding day.

Rector, what am I to do with my older brother? he wastes his days away aiming only personal pleasure and contributes to nothing, and still thinks himself a better man. I worry not for him, but for our family's future, as he is my only brother.

Find the man a wife. In my experience naught straightens a rake more rapidly than the yoke of marriage and the scourge of fatherhood.

Would you be able to live completely separated from your family for multiple years due to unfortunate circumstances?

I can scarcely imagine it. Why should I? Let us not dwell on theoretical and unlikely unpleasantness.

Should one be unable to burn a corpse, when the need to dispose of the body be urgent and discrete - perhaps with Gefendur on swift march forward with a hunger for bodies to fuel their damned plod trade, is it acceptable for a wright to dissolve it?

Aye. I was in fact assigned that duty an hour after my first combat experience. We were attacked in the dark thirty miles outside of Chigaef. They stripped us of light - doused our fires and smashed our starblood - then sniped us with bolts and spells in the dark. The officers foolishly bade us retreat to high ground, and our attackers killed a score of men as they struggled up the hillside. They did not follow. The men we could recover we gave final dignity with our Arts, and in the morning when we dared venture downhill we did the same with the rest.

But that is war, and war perverts all practises and breeds exceptions we hope not to see in more civilised times. When we burn the body instead of obliterating the body it is for the benefit of those left alive; to have that opportunity - whether wright or layman - to send your father or mother or brother to God; to know that long goodbye over the dancing embers; to see that bridge-line of smoke and ash joining the terrestrial with the empyrean and supplicate the Vaosa in the hopes they will escort your beloved's soul across. Obliteration is practical, but we are seldom concerned with the practical when our heart is in pieces.

I do not understand how undeath in the form of one's decaying corpse is considered damnation. I would rather my flesh and bones nourish a forest or a garden than be consumed by fire. Then I would have had a purpose in death, even though my life be dreary.

With so little concern for your own dignity and such a selfless preoccupation with the nourishment of nature, why are you not daily squatting in the woods and giving up the nutritious contents of your guts to those hungry roots? And do water them as well once you are through.

The Gefendur care little for their humanity. They happily believe themselves inferior to their Twin gods and they simper and fret at their feet, praying to one day be worthy of the boot ever pressed to their throat. Aloft and aloof, the Twins lack all noblesse oblige, demanding their blood sacrifices as their own flawed world torments and disgraces their terrestrial children. Even in death the Gefendur are humiliated by that world, melting into putrescence and offal; turning into abhorrent filth in the festering cauldron of the Twins' unspeakably callous systems.

Submit to it, if you like, but why should Ssael find a place at his side for a man who will flout His law? Who is blinded and intoxicated by a world that was not designed for him, but against him? Aye, submit to it and be a slave of that world; there is no place for you in any other.

Rector, would it be reasonably proper for a good housewife, if her children were all of school age and her house easily kept clean, to take tutor or secretary work and not ask money for her time so she may keep her mind too busy to miss her little ones?

I see no trouble with this but it would be a matter ultimately in the demesne of her husband and ghers. I do suppose I would counsel such a lovely woman with a gentle reminder that she must not turn all of her energy outward; she must broaden her own education as well, take the time to do for herself what she could not do when her children were ever at her skirts. Ssael wishes all of us to rise to fullness - man, woman, father, mother, husband, wife.

When did you earn your thorns?

I won them in the Council Army.

Have you ever fought in a close duel?

National service was kind to me and I left the army to find both a wife and a new home awaiting me here in Durlyne. I had very little coin however, and a pauper's wedding would not have suited my ghers 34 fiancée. I was younger then and hotblooded and madly in love. I had won my thorns and thought to put them to work for me, and so listed myself as an employable surrogate for rich mens' duels.

I fought eight duels over the span of six months, six of them with other Class A surrogates. They were each of them close; far too close. When I had the money we required, I was glad to leave those bloodsports behind. I've come to believe surrogate dueling is problematic for a Ssaelit, as the Songs say a man must not make a business of accepting money for actions that cause unjustified harm to others. No one that I fought had wronged me. I was arrogant and avaricious, and it would not be false to call me a hypocrite for speaking disapprovingly now of the greedy mercenaries that crowd the blood-soaked surrogate rosters.

In any event, any man of the Temple should know I have challenged others over personal affairs since then. I broke the legs of the surrogate hired by a nobleman who insulted Shadwe Grandvin. I will not tolerate disrespect to the Shadwe, not while I yet breathe.

Would anyone look down on a well-educated woman for inviting all the children of the ghers to her home for tutoring simply because she loves having the house full - absolutely brimming - with little ones and sharing her knowledge with them?

My dear, that is oft the way of it now! It is women who teach ghers lessons save when the older lads are in the courtyard with the grandfathers learning to swing their fists and take a fall. Such a woman would be invaluable to any ghers and quite the prize for any gentleman.

What do you think was the most outstanding discovery ever found?

Ask the priest, and he must without hesitation answer it was Ssael's discovery of a path through the khert independent of the Twins' judgment, and His great means of conquest afterwards.

Ask the spellwright, and how can he not wind backwards through the crawl of history towards the very first spellcaster and the discovery of the manipulation of the khert via Tainish? There is no record of that event and perhaps it is as the Gefendur say - the Twins themselves gifted pymary to Man - but I much prefer the idea that we discovered it on our own. Imagine the stir it may have caused among the gods; the first fateful hint that their creations would one day grow well out of hand.

Are you currently researching anything?

A birch switch, a wooden spoon, or the flat of my hand? Some experimentation may be in order.

Have things in the world been getting better or worse over time?

Certainly it has been improving! How could it fail to with the betrayers cast from their undeserved thrones and the reins of history back in the hands of Man?

Does Mikaila remind you of yourself?

Ach, never was I so disobedient.

Rector, are there any prominent figures in Ssaelism other than Lord Ssael himself and the gods?

The gods are dead. Ssael stands at the helm of the world and at his side are the Vaosa, too numerous to name.

Other then being a house wife, what kind of profession may women do?

A woman of good character and right mind may aspire to nothing greater than to keep a home and family. We've secretarial positions at the Temple for widows and I know some others make coin tutoring in the home, but money is a masculine vice that ought not be inflicted on the fairer sex.

Rector, did you ever do any cooking of your own before you met Leysa? How did it stand up to hers?

The world has thus far been largely spared my lumbering ways in a kitchen. My grandfather made our meals when I was a lad and brought no shame to himself, but I have never known a hand more skilled with a skillet or potent with a pot than my wife. After the birth of our first child our purse was anemic, but I say we still ate finer than anyone else in the ghers.

How is your brother's Continental?

Increasingly poor, but outside of tradeshops and classrooms the language is seldom heard this far west. I find that a minor tragedy for a man of the sword like my brother for Continental is an exquisite language well-suited to the melodic medleys of oaths and imprecations appropriate when one's vliegeng sits on one's foot or one's sibling brains one in the skull.

Do you go with Lemuel and/or Leysa to the opera?

Lemuel loathes the opera; both the glass shows and the class shows. For my birthday last, my wife surprised me with balcony passes to a performance of Soud Vaghal Ataf featuring Gaspard Hilgriff in the lead role. Ach, it was as if the Dammakhert split like a ripe nematona and out poured this sound like sunshine transmuted to song, all somehow produced by this slight Soud in a shabby robe and spectacles thick as crumpets. In any event, one of my wife's innumerable cousins was staying with us and somehow this shrewd-eyed, razor-tongued woman swindled my poor, intellectually deficient brother out of an evening, convincing him to join us at the opera house for Soud Vaghal Ataf. She fancied him, I suppose, as all women fancy insalubrious men with hair that is too long and scars that seem to exist only to start rumours.

Naturally Captain Argenti arrived at the opera house drunk and wearing his riding toggery. My wife's cousin was mortified and in her desire to communicate her mortification to my wife produced a stream of whispers that sounded so of critical hissing that the soprano on stage began to miss all of her cues. Lemuel was unconscious and snoring by the end of the first act. At the end of the second, while Hilgriff was weaving to the rafters his glorious aria parlante scolding the old earth-burners of Ssalimel-efh Ghal, Lemuel awoke with a start, did not realise we were at a very expensive and haute performance, mistook it for a bawdy glass show, and hurled an empty bottle of whiskey at the stage. It shattered at Hilgriff's feet, he trod in the glass, tore the curtain from the rod in trying not to fall, fell regardless, cracked his head in the orchestra pit, and required seven stitches.

Lemuel would never again attend an opera, but if he was drunk enough to forget this I would not allow him to accompany me if Ssael Himself wrote me the request on a leaf of First Silver implying He'd regard my compliance as a personal favour.

Do you ever get revenge against your brother for his pranks?

How terribly childish that would be.

Has Lemuel ever tried to get you to ride a vliegeng?

Anyone but Lemuel Adelier handle that great blue snake of his? He would break out in hives at the thought. I have flown the vliegeng transports in the past to Tain and Ulpha however and those are nerve-wracking enough. Imagine yourself and a score of strangers suspended in an enormous swaying gondola supported on either side by a pair of goat-eyed monsters three-thousand feet in the air while a seven year old precocious Plat whinges and kicks the back of your seat for six hours until you've a mind to swap his voice with the vliegeng's outside for at least it will shut him up and provide the snake a way to alert its passengers when it no longer is of a mind to support its half of the gondola and you lot have thirty seconds to clear your consciences to God before gravity makes an abstract patina of you on the plains below.

I would rather walk.

Rector, are you familiar with anyone by the name Lord Lan Brookin?

I am afraid not.

Do you tell your kids bedtime stories?

On occasion. They demand it less now that I have stopped accompanying the stories with glamours in an effort to curb Mikaila's enthusiasm for pymary. I am honestly glad for it. I fear it hurt my wife's feelings that they wished my illustrated tales over hers, but now she again has opportunity to play the bard and I say she is better than I ever was, and more honest as well.

Would you ever describe Amadwe Argenti as a friend?

Argenti and Captain Adelier get on splendidly; they're a frequent sight at the races, and you may have even heard of the stir last year when Argenti invited him to dine with his family. A Soud at the Argenti estate? The oaths were flying and there was even a death threat or two.

And yet Argenti is not so warm with me. Perhaps he has no interest in idling at the side of another family man and comrade of the Temple Council. I am not the lawless bachelor my brother is and have no stories of skating vliegeng over Mmatont pates nor hunting pirates along the Sunstroke Straits. I would take Argenti's hand if he reached for mine for he has been a good friend to my brother and I've a special place in my heart for his lad William; but the Amadwe has never made that offer.

What sort of man is Shadwe Clare?

Stormy of brow and sharp of eye. He is the sword to Shadwe Grandvin's shield. A number of years past I traveled to the Temple of the Winds on Treenahinn and heard the old man talk. What passion! He is a great spellwright but scarcely needs pymary to make miracles with his words. He moved the crowd to a frenzy that day. Women were cutting their hair and throwing it into bonfires; men were bleeding themselves in the courtyard and swearing oaths of fealty to God and country on their swords. If the unthinkable happens and we come to blows with our Gefendur brothers, Shadwe Clare will draw first blood.

Esteemed Rector Adelier; are there moments in your life where you question your faith? Conversely, are there moments when your faith is bolstered beyond its usual strength?

I have never questioned my faith. Ssael is as real to me as mine own father. However I do suppose I feel Him keenest when I read His Songs. His pain and uncertainty as the old Kings hunted him. His sorrow when they slew his people. His regret over his treachery towards the Tains and his inability to save them; to bring them with him into a new philosophy. His humanity was ever so keen and his bravery ever so bright in the face of his fear. Reading of the man makes the God stronger, and steels my determination to be what He was.

Rector, we all know what sort of damage pymary can do to a person, but can one come to harm through simple overuse and overexposure to the khert? I can't imagine being continually submerged in the lifeblood of a world leaves one totally unscathed.

My dear boy, we are the khert and the khert is us. We are every second of every day living within it and atop it, and indeed depend upon that blessed fact for our survival. The khert differentiates up from down and hot from cold; it knows the fate of a beetle and the weight of a toad. When you wrote your question to me it was only the khert that kept your fingers from passing through the shaft of your quill; it was the khert that pulled the ink down the reservoir and the khert that extracted moisture enough to dry that ink upon the page. Reality is a bumbling child without the great Lawgivers' cautious custodianship, weaving together myriad processes in a dance that never missteps. We are the most fortunate creatures in the world to have our humble arts and be allowed to cut into that dance on occasion, moving arm in arm with our magnanimous master.

But you are right that exposure to the khert has a price. We're both paying it now; inch by inch; and in fifty years or so accounts will be due and the khert will have the deaths it is owed.

Rector, I have noticed that you are a very tall man, and not lightly built, thought it is hard to tell beneath your robes. How much do you weigh?

Seventeen stone.

Recotr, at what age do you think you will start training your children in the martial arts? Or rather, at what age will your wife let you?

Simon will of course begin to learn to wrestle and stickfight with the other lads of the ghers when he is six years of age.

"I am afraid Lemuel knows as much pymary as a month old squash. I must have misspoke somewhere". How did he put smoke eels in your pipe if he did not know a little pymary?

If you do not know I am certainly not going to tell you. Leave we smokers be!

Do you worry that Lemuel will be a bad influence on your children?

If my Simon is some day but half so honourable, brave, hard-working, and talented as Lemuel Adelier, there'll be no prouder father in Alderode than the one holding this quill. And if these attributes demand that my writing ink always be replaced with coffee, and my underthings always be dyed pink, and my shaving bowl always be frothing with whipped cream, it is ultimately a cheap price for me to pay.

So Lemuel knows a bit of pyramy? How good is he?

I am afraid Lemuel knows as much pymary as a month old squash. I must have misspoke somewhere.

Does Lemuel try to pull pranks on you often?

There is some aspect of my lecturing a group of aspirants that fills my brother with amusement or perplexity or an appreciation for the absurdity of this flawed world. He would turn a handstand and tie a vliegeng into knots to make me look the fool in front of my lads. He has replaced my class notes with prurient fiction, put smoke eels in my pipe, dropped Simon's used nappies in my satchel, and once convinced Mikaila of how helpful I would find it if she insulated the interior of my coat hood with goose down. It is likely I will one day kill him.

Of course Lemuel claims he acts only to ease the tyros' anxiety and prove my fierce reputation a humbug, but in truth I suspect my way with them too sharply reminds my brother of our boyhood, and he is inspired to retaliate now in a way he never could when I would sit on his head and demand he learn his letters.

Rector Adelier, I would inquire of you as to how one can detect a glamour? Does one need to use pymary to detect glamours, or is there also some way to notice it as false using ordinary vision? Or would that depend on the skill of the wright/the glamour?

Literal glamours are oft detected through the same means used to detect any active or recent spellwork. The majority of spells displace Aspects through the lines of the khert. A skilled wright will make visible the lines in an area, reading their motion and scrying their integrity for recent activity. If, for instance, a wright has taken the colour Aspect Red from a shiny apple and painted his paramour's cheek, the line twixt fruit and face will for a time bear the mark of the Aspect's passing. Reading khert lines is no novice's art however. It takes many years of observation and study to understand their unseen dance.

A simpler way to detect a glamour is to look for pymarics upon the person - a ring, a hair barrette, a necklace, even an enchanted cloak. A glamour is burdensome for a wright who must renew it aloud at every pulsing of the khert. They are more useful installed into a discreet pymaric.

Sophisticated glamours that utilize Perceptive Spheres are much more difficult to discern. Often the only way to detect them is to remove the target from the Perceptive Sphere being used to cloak it. It has caused havoc with cloaked Crescians on our streets. They are hiding their dusky hides in our own perception of each other!

Perceptive glamours are terrifically useful but turned against us they can be devastating. I know there has been talk of banning them outright, but if ever there has been a spell more difficult to regulate I cannot recall it to mind.

Alderode doesn't admit tourists but can I get a business visa? I have a shipment of Ssaelit icons, built for less than Durlyne's workshops; they make it easier for the lower classes to show their devotion, and investing trade with faith is virtuous.

Wise words. Know you Alexandre Argenti? Durlyne's shipping magnate. I will mention the matter to Amadwe Argenti and, God willing, he will put his brother in contact with you.

What's the most romantic thing you've done for Leysa?

Ach, that is a question for her.

Is it better to immolate, quarter or stone to death a Crescian?

Obliterate him, if it is handy. Why leave oneself a carcass to tidy.

Where have you traveled in the world, Rector? Ever been Sharteshane?

I have never had cause to leave Alderode, thank God.

Since the Khert take the memories to be born again, have some people ever end up recollecting their past lives?

On every streetcorner some charlatan keeps a shop claiming he can extract the memories of the past lives of those foolish enough to gild his palm. It is confidence trickery of the most heretical sort, and in more brutish days they'd have been strung up for it. No, the khert performs its function handsomely, and leaves no crumbs in the bedsheets.

So, the "Lions" are cherished because they're the ones that strip away our undue attachments?

Perhaps "cherished" is not the proper word. Do we cherish the pliers that extract a rotten tooth? Of course not, and we even fear them and the act. But the tooth must be extracted.

Do you think it is possible for Ssael to come again?

It is foretold. However I feel it will not happen for many centuries; no Copper babe aslumber in its cradle this eve will see it in his lifetime.

Do your kids have a favorite type of pymary that they like to see you do?

Wee Simon must have his glamours. Mikaila... cleaves to destruction.

Rector Adelier, recently I have been troubled with worries over what may happen in the highest echelons of our faith. The Weeping Plague has decimated the western Ssaelit population. I worry that some prideful politician may-

"-attempt to "balance the scales" by way of the same plague that has unbalanced it. Do you get my meaning? I have voiced my concerns to my closest friends but they have simply laughed them off. As a Motadwe, do you think my concerns are without basis?"

I put little past our politicians; their collective intellect is as keen as my quarterstaff. However, remember always that they are largely powerless without the blessings of the Ssaelit Shadwes. They can at any time turn public opinion against them if they do not like their policies, and I know without a whisper of doubt that Shadwe Grandvin would never abide such a short-sighted and black-hearted course of action. How loathsome would we be to petulantly spread our misfortune to our Gefendur brothers? To betray them and weaken Alderode in the act? It shall never come to pass.

So the Khert takes the memories from recently departed souls before sending them to be born again...to what end? Carrying past memories would be a burden to the soul, and it is comforting to know my memories live on in the khert, but to what purpose?

To what end indeed?

Have you read any Delaenin? He put forth an intriguing theory centuries ago. The Songs tell us that a day will come when this flawed world is obliterated at last, and in its ashes Ssael will raise a new world; a world crafted not according to the laws of callous nature, but according to the laws of human justice and compassion. What if the khert stores memories - said Delaenin - as research material for this inevitable world? We are put through this mortal coil time and again to research its flaws, and carry to the khert our findings? In this way all of us will be architects of our new world on some distant, delightful day, and we shall as one build ourselves a home in which all of our grievances are addressed and mended.

It is an intriguing thought, would you not agree?

Rector, what do you think was the fate of Sister Tirna?

Ssael spared her life. She dwells with Him now, perhaps, or has hidden herself in some out-of-the-way cupboard at the edge of reality; a penitent child writing lines. We should not dwell on her fate, for Ssael is our redeemer and the remaining trappings of the Gefendur are treacherous to a unwary Ssaelit.

Rector, how large is your family? Have you any siblings beyond your brother? Does your wife have any?

The Adeliers have fallen in recent years, leaving only my brother, myself, my wife, and my children. Fortunately my children need not suffer for it as my wife's family is of a ridiculous proportion. She has more cousins than a hedgepig has quills; we trip over them, betimes, on market day.

What do you admire most about Shadwe?

A more equanimous soul I have never known. I have never once seen the old man lose his temper or insult another. He is forthright in all of his doings and shies not from following a path of his own choosing, even if he is the only one willing to dare the shadows and the brambles that may embank it. Some say he is weak but I say it speaks of a terrible courage to be ever in the light; at the side of goodness, and decency, and plain speech. Subterfuge and craft are no more his domain than a mole's burrow is a golden lion's. That is Shadwe Grandvin, and I am blessed to serve him.

What are you most afraid of?

Of late the specter of civil insurrection troubles my lassitudinous hours. Never did I shy from letting my blood or another's to expel a foreign threat or quell traitors or heretics, but to fight on the streets of Durlyne? The streets where my brother and I were children and my own children play now? There would be no victors. It would be a wound, like Fachlyne, that does not heal.

So who is God then? He created the twins? What does Ssael tell us about him? Or... her?

Sonum Ssael is the one God of the world, Victor Supreme over the treacherous and unjust Twins whom He slew and cast to the Beasts of the Deep. In the Silver Wood he keeps and protects this flawed world, his left hand ever extended towards those who choose to follow the path that he has cleared. Ssael fhikemun rish.

Does Lemon have any nicknames for you?

None that I shall be sharing, thank you.

If you have another son, will you name him for your father?

I will.

Rector, forgive my ignorance, but I am new to Lord Ssael's teachings, and am seeking to learn as much as I can. What is the significance of the lines on your face when you are in the Temple?

Our faces are lies. We wear a thousand different ones ere we walk the path that leads us to God. The lions tore Ssael's face away - the last of his mortal conceits - and for that they are blessed. If we can bravely surrender ourselves to those same obliterating claws and go untrembling to our final death, we may find in the khert Ssael's own treads and God beckoning to us in welcome at the end of them.

Did your father get to meet his grandchildren before he passed on?

Aye, he met them both, thank God. I wished to name Simon for him but Leysa's father had been so generous allowing us into his home, so I felt passing his name on was appropriate; the least I could do. Lemuel assures me Father understood but I thought I sensed disappointment that day

No matter.

Forgive me if this is insensitive, but now that the Adeliers have either moved or passed, why doesn't your old ghers assign your father's shop to someone else? Surely there are other typesetters who might use the space or equipment?

When my father fell ill he could no longer work, and no longer pay the lease on his press. It was seized, as was most of his equipment to pay for his medicines. My brother keeps house still in the old flat above the shop. I know the elders have taken issue with his refusal to clean it and accept a sum of money from them for its repurposing, but our father's death is too fresh still, and our failure to continue the family business too keen. Neither of us has the heart for the chore.

Rector, what does the Dammakhert do with children born of a union between a Soud and a member of another caste? Are they Ssemung by default?

The Dammakhert produces a babe of the caste of the parent who is not Soud.

Are ghers of the appropriate class and caste welcoming to converts?

Converts are passing rare. However the ghers will do as the Temple dictates. If two clerics speak for the man and there is open housing in the ghers, they are like to admit him.

Please don't worry about your brother being beset by harlots; I believe some students have got on the line and are using it to tweak their teacher's nose.

I have set them all to copying lines until sunrise. If it continues I shall begin executions.

An author I respect very much once said, "You are what you do when it counts." Thoughts?

Many of you are full of mealy-mouthed platitudes that sour my disposition towards this entire exercise. What rewards are due a man who lives his life by half-measures and casual ideas of what is wrong or right in this world? Choose your identity and wear it daily. Make your choice and live it fully! Else you are not living at all.

"Are you a member of the industrial lobby, sir? Are you so eager to overturn the plod ban" You offend me, sir! I lost my brother to the war and his body was never found. I do not understand why his soul must suffer the blame for the deeds of others.

I meant no offence, sir, and I apologise for my presumption. Pray for your brother and I shall do the same. God is never deaf to our imploration. Your brother may be beyond salvation, but still Ssael may find some haven for him, somewhere halfway between the hells and His Kingdom.

Are Composers allowed to develop spells based on their own interests or are they told what to do by someone else?

The way I have heard it told, Composers are commissioned by the Council or by private interests. If a connected shipwright desires, for instance, a better way to plank his hull, he might approach Vits and request new spellwork of the Composers. The true power of the position lies in the resources these great men have at their disposal. All of the vast and ancient texts of every wright that has come before, straight back in time to the Tains. Unrivaled access to khert-hubs, to the great sounding stones in the capital that see further into the khert, it is said, than any others in the world. Ahh, my head spins with it all.

Rector, what is the nature of sin? I had a teacher once who believed, at its most basic, sin is the imposition of one's own will on another without concern for their wishes or wellbeing. Would you agree?

No. That is my mother-in-law.

Sin is any act that stands in opposition to the ideal that Ssael presented us. There is the Sin of Submission, which is submitting to the failed design of the Twins' world. This includes sins of the flesh and uncleanliness, the sin of decay, the stain of the seas. There is the Sin of Deceit, or acting in base disregard to the Truth inherent and potential in every man, which Ssael explained to us in Northsong. Lastly there is the Sin of Defiance, in which one defies the will of the Ordained, the Khert, and God Himself, and includes the worship of unworthy deities or the betrayal of the Ssaelit Shadwes.

I am a Silver and my sister speaks of nothing but your brother. Rector Adelier, what should I do? She's driving me mad, and frankly if this continues my parents are bound to give her a thrashing. Shall I drag her here and let you give her a tongue-lashing

A thrashing from her parents could be the cure she requires.

Rector Adelier, would you be so kind as to briefly describe the hierarchy of the Soud ghers?

Ghers 14 holds the fhelimit ((craftsmen)), 34 the nimit ((businessmen and clergy)), and 8 the ganghimit ((labourers)). Mallil Fhevan is the fourth ghers and houses Soud leaders and nobility, of note the Padors who own a fleet of merchantmen and the Tolberts, a family of successful financiers and money-lenders.

Within each ghers live families organised by a council of elder men chosen from those families that have contributed most significantly to the well-being and prestige of the community. The elders are tasked with keeping the ghers sheltered, fed and in good health even in times of hardship. Dues are collected by them from each family according to their means. Marriages are arranged that suit the ghers. Employment is found for men who cannot find their own. Order is made to prevail in a world that often seems to lack order otherwise.

Our elders do fine work though there has been much squealing and grousing over the continual defacement of our halkaef at night. The ghers want the sign guarded but I see no man opening their purse to hire a guard! I say there is little danger of Duane Adelier ever joining the elder council, and that is not a troubling reality. It seems overmuch like politics and a thankless task.

Dear Rector, I am from a far away land and was wondering how one might become a citizen of you fair country.

Pray diligently and perhaps the khert will show you mercy in your next life.

Rector Adelier, do you take breakfast in Durlyne? If so, what's typical? What's your favorite?

Typically I purchase a spinach and potato chowder and a hunk of bread from one of the street vendors outside Ratteesser. It is quite good and I can find out his name for you, but I find him by the smell of his peppery coffee.

Sir, when did you discover that your daughter was a tacit-caster? Just curious, since I spotted her playing with light and glamours a while back. She may have set my hat on fire by mistake.

I apologise dearly and if you would have a bill drawn up I will compensate you the damages and replace your hat immediately.

According to my daughter she had been casting secretly for nearly a year's time before my wife discovered her one evening silently making her potatoes taste like gingerbread. She was five and had already taught herself to read and do sums. There is no denying she is unnaturally brilliant but I say try living with her.

Rector Adelier, an author named Mark Twain once said: "If there is a God, he is a malign thug." What do you have to say to that?

True it proved of the Betrayers Four so I cannot fault the notion. However I would pass the chap a copy of the Songs, and ask him his thoughts of a great man who did more than pay mean lip service to that rumoured divine malignancy.

Where do all the castes originate from?

They spring from the order and knowing of the Dammakhert.

Is the gold caste descended from the Tains?


Rector Adelier, is it common for children inclined towards pymary to instinctively tap into their gifts? I noticed your son Simon infusing simple motion into doodles he made on the floor. Is he, then, also a tacit caster like his father?

Likely you sighted Simon at play with his colour sticks. Marvelous gadgets, no? Motion and light are imbued on the wax lines once they form a closed shape, creating an illusion of life. I've tinkered with them myself. The Beadmans are passing clever for Sharteshanians.

I am not absolutely certain yet, but I fear my Simon is neither a tacit caster nor innately connected. It certainly doesn't close the road to pymary for him - a road down which his mother and I wish to guide him - but it is something of a disappointment.

Rector Adelier, is it common for children inclined towards pymary to instinctively tap into their gifts? I noticed your son Simon infusing simple motion into doodles he made on the floor. Is he, then, also a tacit caster like his father?

Likely you sighted Simon at play with his colour sticks. Marvelous gadgets, no? Motion and light are imbued on the wax lines once they form a closed shape, creating an illusion of life. I've tinkered with them myself. The Beadmans are passing clever for Sharteshanians.

I am not absolutely certain yet, but I fear my Simon is neither a tacit caster nor innately connected. It certainly doesn't close the road to pymary for him - a road down which his mother and I wish to guide him - but it is something of a disappointment.

Rector, are all men equal in the eyes of God?


"Ssael has forbade this." Yes, but why is the criminal the victim of such efforts and not the one perpetrating the disgusting acts? Would you be a sinner if some Crescian stabbed you in the dark, then hid your body to rot to hide their presence?

This unfathomable fixation on decay today! Are you a member of the industrial lobby, sir? Are you so eager to overturn the plod ban and invite your neighbour's corpse to your house to hang your laundry and tar your roof? Take it to the politicians and leave me be, for the thought turns my stomach.

If men have their place and women have theirs, then what about people who are neither man nor women?


"Natural decay is a corruption of the human body. It, too, is forbidden, and we are saved from it by a speedy purification by fire." So is making plods bad because they rot?

It does not by any stretch help the plodmens' case, does it?

"Ssael has fixed His canon against the scourge of undeath, and it is not our place to question a restriction" I thought the plod spell wasn't invented back in his time?

Men of dark purpose have since the beginning of the Arts attempted to steal undeserved life and animate cold flesh, or lie to the khert and preserve their living soul in one terrestrial piece. It has been called by different names but always the intent is to cheat death. Ssael has forbade this.

"To allow your body to come to corruption ." What does that mean though? Your body becoming a plod is one yes. Are there any other ways?

Natural decay is a corruption of the human body. It, too, is forbidden, and we are saved from it by a speedy purification by fire.

"To allow your body to come to corruption is a vile act against yourself, the khert, and God." Well naturally you shouldn't do it, but if some vile Crescian killed boys on the battlefield and then made their bodies into plogs, how are they to blame?

You are like a child citing excuses for why he must not be made to eat his supper. Ssael has fixed His canon against the scourge of undeath, and it is not our place to question a restriction He has made when He has seen more and known more than we can ever in this life dream. Yet fear not. We'll be told all mysteries in time, if we are strong enough to seek out the source.

Who is the most odious man or women that you have ever met?

I never learned his name but I shall never forget his face: gaunt and sweating, with eyes like chipped fangs, cruel and hungry in his skull.

What if Mikaila developed a crush on Will and liked his sparkly eyes?

My lass is far too discerning and level-headed for such poppycock.

Have you ever been to the capital?

Valyne? I have not.
If a woman were to be violated by a man of another caste, would she be any more shamed in your eyes than a woman violated by her neighbour? Would you help her in the following days, or would you keep the women of your house away from her?

This is a matter for ghers elders, and is beyond my ken.

Are there any among the Ssemung whose combat prowess impresses you?

Certainly. Young Riley Jaert under my brother's command is being called the finest swordsman in his unit. Captain Page is among only a few men in the Temple taller than I am, and there is not one who can best him in a wrestler's circle. Countless Ssemung fought at my side in southern Avelpit and no one wise would have discounted them. Few do even now.

It is not a dearth of martial ability that marks the Bronze but rather a dullness of ambition and an ugly attitude towards authority and responsibility. Many are sluggards, and would rather thieve than work a day's honest labour. We keep them hopping here however and will not have it. Ssael abhors idle hands.

Rector, do you not think it coincidental that William's last name is Argenti?

I would find it far stranger were it "Bleu" or "Aubergine."

Is it safe to assume you do not find beauty and majesty in vliegeng?

They have long struck me as proof of the Twins' malevolence for how could deities as delightful as the Gefendur insist theirs are have created such hideously countenanced and odoriferously fragranced beasts as the snorting, belching, fetid, foul, and frightful vliegeng? My brother loves them to spite me. I swear it is so.

What if Mikaila tried to help Will with his pymary?

God help us all.

How would you react if you found out Will became a sailor when he got older?

I can scarcely imagine his father allowing such a turn. Yet Temple service does not seem to suit the lad. I imagine I would worry over his health and heart and I would not understand how he could so blithely discard the advantages he was born into, but every man must make his own choices. If the sea was his choice I would respect his resolve.

Do you know any ssemong by the name of Lawrence?

I do not.

Rector, have you eve considered that you would look exceptionally handsome, manly, and refined with a full beard?

Indeed I have! Perhaps not "handsome," for one can bedeck a vliegeng in ribbons and roses and still it is a vliegeng, but I do feel a full beard lends a man an air of legitimacy and majesty, as one might feel when gazing upon a full and robust summer oak in contrast to its sadder, sicklier midwinter mien. I say I cannot convince certain others of it however, so I remain a shorn wretch who must each morning confront and acquiesce to the castigated doppelganger awaiting him in the washroom glass.

Rector Adelier, what are your thoughts on intercaste relationships?

Naturally they are harmful to the family, insulting to the Dammakhert, and treacherous to the Aldish State. If you suspect someone of such fraternization do not keep it from the elders of your ghers.

Given that Will isn't a very good right, does it sometimes get frustrating to teach him? Do you sometimes lose your temper with him because he can't get the simplest things right?

Only rarely is my temper tested by a lack of understanding for that is a fault of my own teaching ability and the pupil must not be blamed. What William displays is a peculiar reticence to even try. Is it fear that prevents him? Sloth? His life and mine would improve dramatically if he would but do as his station demands.

I am pretty, intelligent, well-bred, and have the complexion of a beach at high noon. I am devout in my Ssaelit faith. I also am fascinated by vliegeng. Would you kindly introduce me to your handsome brother?

I am afraid I could never recommend to my brother a woman so forward. Excuse me, Miss.

Duane, do you have any fun stories about Will?

Ahh, sweet William Argenti. Never was there a lad less like his father. I have known William since he five years old; a slight, bright boy in armour too heavy for his frame, squired to Leftenant Claggart in an effort, said his father, to ween him from his too-gentle mother's influence. I fear the experiment was a failure. He still is a thorn in Argenti's side.

William's mother is an artist, and quite a gifted one. Charming woman. A few years ago she completed an oil study of the boy's bedroom, and William took this picture and positioned it cleverly in front of the spyhole of his bedroom door. In this way he escaped for nearly two seasons without making his bed or folding his laundry, for each time his parents would look into the spyhole they saw only an immaculate room bathed in soft afternoon light.

The farce was flawless until his father dared to look in on him after supper one night. Argenti beat that boy until he couldn't stand up but William was on the greens the next morning all the same, laughing and singing the story to his mates. I tell you he is either muttonheaded or mad.

Three jobs? What are your three jobs? Are these three jobs on top of being a man of the household? How do you keep yourself sane?

I am an attending priest. I am also head instructor of field Pymary for the Lions of Mercy. Lastly I am Eighth Motadwe at the Temple of Song, which carries with it the duties of a Temple Rector. There are several Rectors, and I am tasked with the libraries and Soud facilities. Unfortunately, only my teaching brings with it a salary.

As for my sanity, my wife is ward of it, which perhaps makes her a more tireless worker than her husband.

Rector Adelier, what was the first thing you thought when you met your lovely wife?

"I am not and shall never be worthy."

Rector Adelier, do you enjoy the preaching aspect of your position at the temple? In my world, we typically gather at our place of worship once a week. How often do the Ssaelit gather?

You are Gefendur then? They schedule their services like mealtimes, as though the soul can be told when to hunger and when to know satiation. What becomes worship then but a routine? An obligation? No, a Ssaelit man goes to the Temple when his heart moves him to go, for the soul is not temporal as the flesh, and should not be constrained.

I do enjoy sermonizing. If I did not, I would not. I confess however I seldom feel worthy to speak in the Temple of Song, for it has echoed with the voices of the greatest men of my faith and I am frankly only a bumbling Soud. My sermons are popular all the same. It is the tacit casting, I am certain. The little ones like their stories with pictures.

Where did Lemuel get his facial scar? Is there a story behind it?

It is a long story and one he tells much better than I.

If you could choose your own death, how would you prefer to enter the khert?

If you had asked me this as a younger man I would have prated tediously of a willingness and a want to die in battle for the glory of the Six Rings. My heart beats now with no lesser a thunderous cadence for love of God and country, but I think I should like to grow old with my wife and meet the man my daughter will one day torment. Let me serve Alderode from a scholar's chair now, and tend her poor and see to the hearts and heads of the brave young lads who come forward to master the Arts in her name.

Duane, what annoyed you about your brother most? Did he have any annoying habits?

Ach, Lemuel is an enigma; betimes the very model of Aldish propriety and at others as barbaric as a Tain. He has served the Cooperative well with his absolutism against the Crescian and Mmatont, but he brings this same fierceness to bear in internal dealings with the Gefendur. It is dangerous to hold such savage sentiments. The Gefendur are our brothers as sure as I am Lemuel's, but he will not see them as such. The Foi-Hellick Affair struck him hard, much harder than it did myself, but he was much younger when he was flung into that fire and he burned for much longer. The war smelted him; cast him into a certain shape. I do not judge him poorly for it, but I fret over the paths down which it may drive him in the future. I pray his hot head cools.

I also pray he keeps his skinny arse out of my domestic dealings, but he will not. When Leysa is pressing for something I feel she does not need she invariably scuttles behind my back to my brother, so that I then have two earwigs nattering their needs until only surrender will preserve my sanity. He partners with Mikaila as well, and I am plainly terrified of prospective assaults against my time and my purse when Simon is older. I shall have to move into the Temple barracks!

Do you beat your daughter as punishment?

I leave such matters to my wife.

When's the best time to take a nap?

I have three jobs, two children, and one wife; I have forgotten what a "nap" is.

Esteemed Rector Adelier, did you maintain contact with wartime friends of different backgrounds and castes upon completion of your time of service?

I am ashamed to report that for a time afterwards I indeed made a great epistolary effort to maintain contact. My letters were of course ignored. I was a naive lad, and thought if any men would dismiss my low station it would be the hearty lads of Chinoll. It was not so. Finally a letter came from Leftenant Claggart graciously correcting my embarrassing persistence. He closed by wishing me all success and health in my new position with the Temple, and I have not heard from the old sod since.

I did read last year that my sweet hethllot comrade Jon Steeling had gone into the khert. Three years my junior and a wonderful wright, but that is the way of the blessed caste. When I think of Jon I think of the lads who did not come home with us afterwards, and it is like walking into a mire. Let us turn towards more propitious talk.

DuaneAndSette posted a new profile photo


Sette, how many cousins do you have, exactly?

"Too many. There's a cullin' long overdue."

Hope you two are recovering well after recent events. Duane, I've noticed on yourself and most every other Aldish wright a series of piercings on your brow ridge. What are these and what do they signify?

It is puzzling the interest that foreigners take in Aldish jewelry. Brow piercings are not uncommon in the north and have no special significance in and of themselves. Some men wear pieces of personal significance to them of course, but others endeavour only to make a display of their wealth.

I should like to be made to understand why it is foreigners pierce their noses, ears, and tongues so readily. They seem possessed of a determination to gift their foemen the most painful means of attack.

"It ain't even that your enemy can rip an earring right outcha; it's that they ain't never gonna give it BACK after.*

The tail piercing is off then?

"Aye, tattoo over me whole face seems more subtle and practical now."

Is Sette awake yet?

"I ain't never sleepin', not truly. I'm only watchin' ya with me deadlights shuttered, like a sword in a sheathe!"

Like a spoon in a drawer.

Sette, how do the nobles usually behave around the Frummagems back home?

"'Bout as ya'd expect, lordin' over us with their pig snouts pointin' at Yerta's navel. But I seen 'em tie on different togs when they come wantin' somethin'. Then it's all "How are you today, Mister Frummagem?" and "We admire what you do here" and "Ain't your whores the prettiest in town?" Da hates all've 'em. He hates 'em more than anyone else. The angriest I ever seen Da is when the toffs come to hire us and all the while they're cuttin' him or us real sly like, thinkin' we're too stoopid to know what they really mean behind what they're sayin'. But Da, he knows and he makes sure I know, and he tells me all the time one day he'll be one've 'em and he'll be doin' the cuttin' and holdin' up his nose and walkin' by the shops like he never shat or broke wind or spit on the ground a day in his life."

If each of you were to describe yourselves in only three words, what would they be?

"Sneaksy. Tailsplosion. Beautifulnessgorgeoustastical. Can ya do a word longer'n that, zombie-face?"

I stand defeated.

"You're... grey. Vexing. Tall."

All right. That could have gone much worse.

Duane, do you think being reduced to your composite atoms then scattered would affect you? I am sorry if this is unsettling, but I feel it would help my theory on your strange undeath. If you aren't familiar with the term 'atom', think ridiculously small.

My sanity relies on the belief that the utter ruination of my flesh would at last release me to some other state. When the time comes that neither my arts nor my mechanical tinkering can keep me upright and functional I shall light my own bier and test the hypothesis for myself.

Sette how would you feel if you lost your sense of smell?

"I would DIE!"

Duane: There's no question as to your skills in prose, but how good are you at writing poetry?

I am a skilled enough poet that I once oversaw a Temple and trained boys in pymary for a living; which is to say I was not a terribly skilled poet at all.

Duane, have you ever gotten a scrivening job that you would prefer not to do?

I will not do work that involves Gefendur scripture nor the disparaging of the Ssaelit faith or Alderode.

Duane, what precisely is scrivening?

The reading and writing of correspondence and the duplication of legal documents are my chief occupations. Now and then there is a spot of translation work but that blackguard Josef Barnaby lured most of my clients away when he disparaged the quality of my Continental as "prosaic and tediously Aldish."

"He were right. We get back home though and you pay me and I'll get some lads together and we'll shave his dogs and egg his shop."

...we'll talk.

Duane, if you met another like you, they'd presumably have committed some crime for their soul to be rejected and left in a body, right? So, how would you treat them?

I would treat them like a man. Too well do I realise that this state is a punishment; and it is a punishment exquisite enough that it need not be exacerbated by the harsh treatment of the remainder of the world.

Sette, you can smell invisible things, but can you see unsmellable things? Is anything unsmellable?

"Wrights can make things unsmellable which is why I don't trust wrights far as I can punt 'em. All things have smells, even clean things have smells. I tried to explain to granny once but she got cross and thought I was sayin' she needed more baths. It ain't wrong to smell!"

Has any of the Kasslyne monarchs ever tried to outlaw pymary (sans their own soldiers and agents)?

The Rachshanians do something similar, I have heard, using some daft and convoluted interpretation of certain Gefendur scriptural passages to convince the population that pymary is a moral crime. It's put them at a martial disadvantage that they have purportedly counteracted with a focus on machinery and the natural philosophies. I suspect if Cresce was not terrified of splitting its forces it might have invaded Rachshane decades ago.

Duane, if you had the chance to explore tunnels far underground, where the Khert is thick, safely, would you do it?

Without hesitation. Second to aiding others, we are given our lives to enrich our spirits and explore and discover this strange and wondrous world. No opportunity to cross uncrossed thresholds or scale unscaled heights ought to be ignored.

"How come you're always yellin' at me for wantin' to explore then?!"

Because all you wish to explore are the insides of strangers' pockets, squirrel.

Duane, who was the most mutton-headed scrivening client you had to deal with? Did people ever ask you to teach them how to spell swear words?

Not to my recollection but there was an Aldish sailor who frequently would dip into my shop so that I might proofread his tattoos.

How did you like Ulestry?

Beautiful countryside. The ruthlessness of the local criminal element has been surprising.

"Hicks and cops everywhere, I miss home."

Hey Sette, you compared the scent of pymary to real things earlier. What does Boo smell like? and can you smell any of the pymary on Duane's body over the... you know, meat?

"Duane don't smell of nawt BUT pymary. He's got his rotten bits all blocked off from smellin', it's unnatural and not right."

Would you rather that fragrance up you nostrils then? It would trouble me little to have one less blasted enchantment to maintain.

"Puh, I don't give a dog's ball whatcha do. Your pymary stink ain't no worse'n awt else's, but I'm used to it. Boo's stink is all right too. Both of 'em smell similar like... like an apple left out in the sun but also poo. Slightly off apple and poo, aye."

Sorry if this is a stupid question, but Duane, if someone got their palm sliced open for some reason would it affect their ability to use pymary?

Of course it would not.

Duane, is there a positive side to being a galit?

I could throw my eyes at individuals.

"Cor, that's true. Have ya ever?"

No, but imagining the act has kept me from otherwise braining with my staff many a mutton-headed client in my scrivening shop.

Duane, does being deep underground have an effect on the Khert and a wright's ability to contact it?

It indeed has an effect. The lines stabilize the further into the earth one travels, meaning one enjoys a much farther range and can load a greater quantity of Aspects into the lines at once rather than the customary technique of splitting them into packets and storing them in the ports of the hands. This effect continues to a point, and then the stability reverses - the lines become TOO thick. A typical surface line is the breadth of a strand of vliegeng mane, allowing for precision strikes. When that breadth swells to the size of a human finger, then a sausage, then a birch trunk, you can no longer control precisely where in space Aspects will exit.

Further into the earth the lines grow unwieldy, then, and the khert exercises its Laws in an increasingly unpredictable manner. It is dangerous to travel too deep.

Duane, when using a stave do you just use it for walking and melee combat or can you incorporate it into your pymary?

I prefer not to enchant or involve any weapon on my person in a pymaric assault. A hiccough of the khert and your weapon may be damaged or destroyed, leaving you bereft one sizable option. Better to alternate pymary with melee, an effective combination against foes so accustomed to wrights have little martial ability.

As a percentage, how many golds do you think are mmatont?

I have no idea.

Did you ever feel cut off from larger interactions in Alderode, as the soud can't be sensed through the dammakhert the way the other castes can? I hear it provides them a sense of each other that the soud are excluded from.

I have wondered what that extra sense is like - what man denied it hasn't? But I suppose, in a way, it is as futile as wondering what it is Sette imagines she smells when she says she senses pymary.

"I don't imagine it, I do smell it! Some pymary smells like shuttin' your tail in a door and some pymary smells like purple and some pymary smells like slime."

That clears the matter up entirely, thank you.

Do you ever feel that the other castes unfairly blame the many soud for the actions of a the few mmatont?

Certainly. But it is our responsibility to denounce the Mmatont and to show our good citizenship. In that way we remind the rest of the country that we are all Aldishmen, and in time, once the Mmatont are extinguished, we will obliterate the stigma against our people.

Duane, what do you think about the nereids?

Frightful and feral creatures, no? In Hanghorse I would watch them from afar flashing their blue bosoms in a harlot's display up at their windswept paramours, and wonder if human women learned their wiles from them in the early days of our own race's history. I have heard it said they've lured many a lovelorn sailor to their watery graves, and I can see the appeal. The nereids seem crafted to allure and entice, and even I have only rarely had the possession of mind to look away.

What does a woman want most?

I have wondered that myself since first I noticed they existed.

"The answer ain't complicated, daft corpse. All women want pie and riches and interestin' monsters and some want blokes but I want POWER."

So there are strawberry fish, but are there fish strawberries?

"I could carve a strawberry into a fish shape. Pay me money and I'll do it."

Duane, what sort of effect would a tattoo made with First Material ink (if such a thing can exist) have on the wearer? Sette, in a similar vein, do you intend to get any tattoos, and if so, what would they be?

Such brands are commonplace, and many simple enchantments can be worked into them. I had such a brand myself once, when still I had skin to bear it.

"Yeah? What were it of?"

Nothing that would be of interest to you.

"I wanna lion all over my face. I were gonna get one but Da found out and said it'd make me ugly and if I ever got ugly he'd throw me in the Bay."

I should like to throw your father in the Bay.

Duane, if there is any creature you could see just once, what would it be?

The great senet whales would be a sight. Few men have been so fortunate as to catch a glimpse.

Duane! You should consider a career in bounty hunting!

Ha, I've been brought to it already independent of my will, have I not?

Duane, have you ever thought of trying to make pymaric skin?

Truthfully it is lowest on the long list of physical attributes I would like to retain or replace. In the last year my hearing has become alarmingly spotty in the mornings, but there is little literature on the workings of the ear and no one to my knowledge has perfected a pymaric replacement. Once this business with the Frummagems is concluded I shall return to Sharteshane and resume my research into the matter.

Duane, what did you enjoy about accompanying Sette? Sette, anything you liked about traveling with Duane?

She is endlessly entertaining and remarkably clever considering the environment from which she has sprung.

"Were that a knock? You knockin' me? Me favourite part about travelin' with Duane is nighttimes when he belts up."

Guys, did you know there's a big evil lich thing living under Hanghorse?

"Lord Nihil the LICHLORD. He controls an army of plods and vampires and wererats and weredogs and werebats and-"

Warehouses and wherefores and wherewithals.

"Shut up, foreigner! You dunno about the undead menace! You ARE the undead menace!"

Duane! Do you feel well rested when you "wake up" in the mornings, or are you kind of groggy?

"Groggy" is generous. My enchantments do not endure while I am unconscious. Thus do I awaken with a mouth dried and cracked, limbs stiff as a tin soldier's, and inevitable insects in places where insects should never stray. Mentally however, I do feel refreshed. If it is not sleep into which I fall at night, I know not a better word for it.

Duane, Sette, when you were growing up, did you have any role models, idols or heros, real or fictional? Forgoing the obvious ones like Duane's grandfather and Sette's Da, of course.

"Me gran's a heroic lady. She's made eleven Frummagems out her loins and also makes potions and some've them potions can bring true love or also explodin' poo."

I cannot possibly follow that.

Sette, how would you compare Boo and Duane as your minions? Do you think Duane could also take on the ogre?

"Naw, I think the ogre would make a zombie pancake out him. But Boo is clever and quick and could infiltrate his ogre-works like a termite and foul it all and make him seize up and fall over and then I could jump on its face and stab it in the eye. Duane, that's a plan for the future, write it down!"

Duane, did you have to endure any "golden boy" puns when you were in the Academy?

Please clarify.

Duane, have you ever known anyone who's talked as big as Sette?

Captain Claggart of the Order of Chinoll.

"Were he as beautiful?"

Precisely as much, but he was not nearly as compact as you are, and by the time the beauty had run the course of his mountainous body, it had diluted to a ham-faced plainness.

Christmas is a holiday celebrated in winter by the exchange of gifts between friends and loved ones. I imagine that since it is neither a Gefendur, nor a Ssaelit holiday, you would not care for it in Kasslyne.

"Oh, you mean Trenahin. It's the best day've the year! No jukrum and there's a grand pig that gets roasted in the yard and barrels've wine and everyone eats and drinks 'til they're sick and there's a play about when Yerta and Tirna rowed and the wrights make fireflowers in the sky. Christmas sounds a bore - who's Chris and why's he get his own holiday?"

Sette(and Duane): You are locked in a room with two doors. Each door has a guard. One guard always tells the truth, the other always lies. One door leads to certain death, the other to riches. You may only ask one question, and only to one guard. --

-- What do you ask? For Sette's benefit I will add that one, you have nothing in your pockets(including weapons), two, that once you open the death door you can NOT get out of it, and three that the guards are idiots and will only speak to answer.


"...why ya come up with such a queer situation? No one'd ever be in that situation and it don't make no sense. You're irritating!"

Perhaps he is a fantasy novelist.

Sette, you've known Duane for a while now... Aside from being annoying, what does his voice sound like? Would you suspect there was something wrong with his throat(as opposed to his mind) if you didn't know he was dead? Duane, do you notice this yourself?

"Aye, Duane rasps when he wakes up and sounds as corpsey as the hangman's mornin' appointment, but it gets better after he fixes it. It's like his throat ain't wet enough, I wanna push him in a lake."

I have explained the mechanics of my voice to you, damnit. Would you like to see my lungs-

"Eww, no! I don't wanna see what's under your clothes, child-fancier! You're always wantin' me t'look at your bits!"

Here, gaze upon the marvel that is my tongue. Hand-stitched! Have you ever seen such craftsmanship?


Pie or chocolate?

I care not.

"Pie. I had chocolate a few times and it's good, but not good enough for the price've it. I can get three meat pies for two sem! That's frootality which Da says makes me the smartest lass he's known."

Frootality... Frugality?

"If I meant that I'da said it! Stop correctin' me, you say words that don't make sense seven times an hour and I don't trust ya t'comment on mine."

Rector Adelier, do you believe the Vits to be infallible and that all the laws in Alderode as completely just?

Vits is not infallible. They are half of them Gefendur and therefore half of them deluded, so how might they be classed infallible? They have from time to time fallen under the influence of black-hearted men, or grown-heavy lidded and sedated after an injection of stupefying money. When the electorate remains balanced they in turn keep Vits balanced; when that electorate is troubled however, those troubles can transfer to the Council and create a merry havoc.

Sette, did you ever hang out with Anadyne and Knock-me-down much? Or did they leave before you got to know them?

"...I know 'em a bit."

Sette, have you ever considered going whaling? I read a book about it, and I bet you could make Duane read the best parts to you... it sounds pretty awesome.

"I ain't certain it's me fated career. I known whalemen at the docks and they tell tales t'curl your tail of whales like walls've death that come up under ya and smash your boat and eat your head. I ain't scared, mind ya, but I like t'see me prey comin' at me fair and above the water line and not out've sight and up me arse."

Uncharacteristically prudent of you.

"When we get back t'Hanghorse you should jaw with these whalemen. They seen mad times!"

Sette, who taught you how to pickpocket? Or did you just figure it out on your own? Have you ever gotten caught and tossed in the clink?

"I was born knowin' how to buz! First pocket I ever picked was ma's; plucked meself right out from 'twixt her legs and she didn't even know I'd gone 'til the midwife screamed and pointed at the infant escapin' out the window with everyone's purses."

Duane, is there any place, other than over a body of water, where pymary can't be done? Maybe a place where the Khert itself forbids its manipulations?

It is speculated that pymary is impossible within the khert itself. This theory is validated by the difficulty of casting in unfavourable conditions such as khert fires and ruptures, when the girding scrim between reality and ethereality is thinnest. It seems that either too distant a proximity and too nigh are both hindrances to pymary. The khert is a demanding mistress, is it not?

Have you heard of the Deep Ones? they are a race of sea-dwelling creatures with an affinity for mating with the humans.They first appeared in the legendary town of Innsmouth, where they provided a never-ending abundance of fish supply and gold in the-

-form of strangely formed ornaments to the good people of Innsmouth. But the condition is that the townsfolk have to give human sacrifices and allowing the Deep Ones to copulate and mate with those who accepted the offerings. In return they will gain immortality like the Deep Ones and their hybrid offspring are born with the appearance of a normal human being but will eventually transformed, their ears will shrink, the eyes will bulge and not requiring blinking like their aquatic counterpart, the head narrows and gradually goes bald and the skin will become scabrous changing into scales. Their neck will gradually develop folds which eventually develop into gills. Finally when the metamorphosis is complete it will be compelled to slip into the sea to join and live with the Deep Ones in the colossal undersea cities of Cyclopean and the many columed Y'ha-nthlei. It's all written down in a collection of writings. You should read em.

"...that were a good madman's ramble. You get up on a box outside the shops in the mornin' and put a tin at your feet, you'll make chink and no mistake."

Do you ever feel nostalgic?


Duane, what's it like being a Soud?

It is little different from being a man of any variety, I imagine. We all are born with our favours and our fardels, in due amount.

Duane, have you ever ridden a vliegeng before?

Mann falomabi dan! Once and only once. I do not care for the beasts nor the mad daredevils who control them.

Sette, what do you want for Christmas? What are you getting Duane?

Neither myself nor the squirrel are familiar with the term.

Sette, why do you have Pore warriors if you're not poor? You always have gold. On a different note, do you know what a homonym is?

"Are they the blokes that like the backends of other blokes? 'Cause that ain't proper at all but I think the zombie might be one, he's swishy."

Swishy? I am swishy?

"You gotta get some spikes on and we make ya a helmet out've a grebber skull. 'Til then I gotta think you're a homonym what's goin' t'the hells for buggery and bein' in all ways a disappointment of an attack corpse."

Duane, what would you do if Sette carved a face on your butt while you were sleeping?

"Duane don't have one, I already tried it. It's all bony and ech, it made me wanna die a little."

Duane, am I correct in the assumption that on the whole the shorter lived an Aldish caste is the bettter wrights they make?

Aye. It's to do with the strength of connection the blessed castes have to the khert. This stronger, more predictable connection allows for a denser movement of Aspects and a farther range, as the lines remain stabler. Some Hethllot would tell it differently, but their caste does not at all affect their mental acuity. A fool of a Plat casts little better than a fool of a Copper, connection strength be damned.

Duane, I am curious about how the affect of using Pymary and interaction with the khert on the whole affects a person's lifespan, if at all could you please enlighten me on the matter?

There is no correlation whatsoever.

Sette- on one side of a room there is a small stone tablet that stealing would make you famous, on the other there is gem studded golden crown that stealing would make you extremely rich. Which do you take?

"Both of 'em. Ya daft?"

What if anything can a skilled wright such as yourself do to hypothetically protect himself against a khert sting? Besides leaving the dammakhert, I suppose.

Obey the law and you need not worry over such matters.

"Mankind is the noblest and finest animal to dwell in this world, and all acts that degrade his form, his spirit, or his prospects are forbidden."What does this include? Do Saelits frown upon self-laceration or mutilation? What about very violent killing?

Should mankind choose to perfect or enhance what the Twins' nature created, so be it. Nor should a man abstain from any violent acts he feels are justified. A clean corpse is a considerate outcome, but an ugly one won't complain.

Duane, I believe the human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. Do you agree? Have you ever experienced such a feeling?

These last months in the wilds I have discovered a like stirring in my breast at the sight of a distant range bowed beneath the horizon, the dawn sun shooting golden arrows into the furred fortifications of the firs. Yet I am an admitted urbanite and oft experienced a similar stirring at the sight of a new office building's gleaming marble facade or the twinkling tessellation of a wall of stained glass in the sun. Nature is beautiful but man's works are equally so, and the world is in accord when they complement each other.

Duane, what is honor for a proper Aldishmen? What are the most dishonorable act for a man to commit?

I say, I find myself this day in the company of a lost lot all bleating for guidance.

"Give 'em practical advice like how t'pick locks! No more've your hot air up the skirt! Proper honour is payin' your jukrum and tuggin' your forelock and doin' the biddin' of your boss-king. Dishonourableness is gettin' caught and rattin' out your mates."

Brilliant. Will you charge for this sage wisdom?


Duane, how does slavery fit in with Ssael's insistence that all people be permitted to rise to their fullest?

Fullness is completion, and we are none of us complete without at least one life lived beneath the yoke and lash of subservience, privation, and pain.

Duane, what is the worst sin a man can be guilty of?

Perhaps nothing is worse than indifference to the suffering of others. Though all you may have in your pocket is your pity, or you have strength in your arm enough only to clasp a hand, give it freely and do not begrudge it; aught less makes you less a man, and Ssael wants only men at His side.

Sette, you know what Pore Warriors are, right? You know what pores are, right? Such being the case, what do you think Porous means?

"Poors don't got no gold. Porous is like that spot 'twixt poorest and poor where mebbe ya got one gold tooth t'pawn so it could be worse. Balls, why's it me job t'teach you wankers how to talk!"

Sette, is there anyone who you'd actually rather not steal from? (aside from your Da, of course.)

"Well, it ain't good luck t'steal from clerics. I do it anyway tho' 'cause I reckon Tirna don't care so long's I put some in the give-box sometimes."

Did Ssael personally prohibit the use of corpses for slave labour or was that something his followers made up?

The corpse of a Ssaelit man must never be desecrated nor allowed to feel the degradation of time. Mankind is the noblest and finest animal to dwell in this world, and all acts that degrade his form, his spirit, or his prospects are forbidden. Very clear is this edict. All corpses must be ceremoniously burned; aught else is sinful.

What can you tell us about the authorities' power to sting people through the khert?

What I can tell you is that it has never been anything but a controversial and often widely contested action. There was a time when Vits had unlimited power to exert control via the Dammakhert, and would use this power to execute suspects at range. This was used to brutal effect in the decades after the Council War to squash the Royalists who, after they lost control of the khert-stones, were never again able to contest Vits' power. Centuries later, after the Ssaelit rose to prominence, the Temples swayed national opinion against Dammakhert executions. Riots in the street and civil disobedience on a massive scale forced Vits to restrict its own Dammakhert activities. Since that time they have only been legally allowed to subdue at range, and never to kill.

Nevertheless this power remains a vital deterrent against not only criminals but political activists who would speak out against the Council and the faiths. I would at times hear my aspirants mutter against Vits' all-seeing eye and far-reaching hand, and I would accuse them of guilty consciences. A law-abiding citizen need not concern himself with weapons meant for criminals and terrorists.

Duane, I am aware it may seem among the silliest of questions to deny for a moment the primarily cumulative value that the reading of many books, scripts, and tomes has upon the mind, but pray indulge me. What is your personally most favorite book?

The Songs of Ssael, of course.

Sette! Imagine how awesome it'd be if Duane replaced his arms with gigantic grebber claws!

"No, wait, I really know what we're doing tomorrow!"

Duane, what would you do if you were eaten by a giant whale and somehow managed to remain conscious?

"Duane, Duane, I know what we're doin' tomorrow!"

Duane, do natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, plagues and volcanic eruptions have an effect on the khert? What about non-natural disasters, like a particularly bloody war?

What we perceive as natural disasters are in reality tools of natural order; hurricanes, volcanoes, and earth tremors are as vital to the working of the natural world as - if you would pardon my vulgarity - belching and breaking wind are to a man. These mechanisms are healthy to our world and hence they are harmless to the khert.

Plagues, war, and any great loss of life can have ramifications however. The khert opens to accept passing souls. Repeated openings in the same location, in the same frame of time, for multiple souls, can allow spectral matter to pass into reality, or clog the lines of the khert with ghosts. It is for this reason one often sees ghosts or strange phenomena at the site of mass death. Genocides large enough can forever change the khert in a given area, thinning the lines, forming holes, warping the passage of Aspects or staying the exercise of certain Laws.

Sette, what is the most cleverest thing you think Boo could ever do?

"He ain't the brightest bug I ever met but he's strong! Mebbe he could fight that ogre if I ever have a need t'take it down."

Sette, pi'ture this. A Pig milkshake with bacon bits in it. I got th' scoop on this here dessert mastermind who could use a qualified taste tester such 's yourself. You in? She's thinkin of callin it The Whole Hog if ya could believe that.

"I'd eat it. I ain't never met a food that weren't made better by addin' bacon."
You know Sette... after Duane went over the edge during the fight with whats-his-face you seemed pretty upset. In fact...were those a hint of tears in your eyes? Could it be that after all this time you have begun to care for Duane after all?... Naaaaaaw.


What is your view of the Bronze caste, Duane? I know that some in Alderode think them an uncouth rabble; do you share this view?

It is true that they do possess a propensity for all the vices so insalubrious to industry: strong drink, strong weed, gambling, and whores. They breed insatiably and leave their children to starve in the streets. They live in squalor, doing little to better their stations, and sing and carouse late into the night in their rotten hovels until they fall over themselves and are awakened by the morn's disgusted constabulary. They are a coarse and ribald people.

But I have known good ones; good ssemung of principle and solid character who work hard and shun debauchery. And as a Soud I understand the irrational hatred put into most of the country towards them. My people suffer it as well. Often, too, are we Soud grouped with the ssemung - in the carts, in the shops, in the bath house. Perhaps we all are less than we have the potential to be.

Duane, do you ever regret joining the army?

I was at the time a dying bird, my flashy tail-feathers bent and burning and my wings stripped to bone, all aspirations and achievements stripped away. National service is naught to be ashamed of, but I had spent so much time and so much of others' hope on my Academy career, that the army seemed like the last refuge of a failure. Certain was my eventual low death in the ranks of the battlewrights, stuck like a suckling pig on a lucky Crescian's spear.

But excursions lifted my spirits, battle stirred my blood, Ssael blessed my hands, and my comrades were quick to destroy my hubris. Pymary is a fine pursuit but it breeds a dreadful monomania in a person, removing him from natural reality to an artificial realm of numbers and parchment and spells. National service was a lesson I needed to learn and it bettered me in every way. Perchance my planned path would have seen me wealthy, or even one day titled, but I suspect it also would have seen me less of a man.

Not one jot do I regret joining the army. Nay, I missed it ever after.

Rector Adelier, how do you justify the unfair distribution of resources & power between the castes? If the law says all castes are equal, why are the Gold, Plat, Silver & Bronze always dominated by the Jade and Copper?

You have been choking down March propaganda, I see. Go and preach in an alleyway, sir, for I'll have none of it here.

Duane, Sette, where I come from, various faiths have holy orders of knights, monks, priests and the like sworn to protect the people and principles of their faith. Do Ssael and the Twins have any such orders?

The temple armies of Alderode are crucial to the defense of the country and act in concert with the Conciliatory forces to defend her borders and police her hands. Among these armies are the Lions of Mercy and the Lions of Justice, the two prominent Ssaelit Orders which reside at the Temple of Song and the Temple of the Winds respectively. There are also the Valynian Blades, or Stitchers, the preeminent Gefendur force stationed in the capital.


In centuries past they would skin heretics for leather to bind their scriptures.

"...awesome. We got the Eye of Redemption in Hanghorse. S'a lark t'lob clods at their helms when they're clankin' about on their rounds."

What are some common names for boys in Alderode? And for girls?

William, Lemuel, Simon, Mikhel, Lawrence, Stewart, Elias, Francis, and on and on. For girls one may see Jane, Lisbeth, Vienne, Marie, Leysa, Mikaila...

Duane, I have decided to start worshipping Ssael, but I am a professional hitman. Is that a problem for him?

Ssael asks that we better ourselves and we better our race. Ssael asks that we combat an imperfect world with perfect intentions. If you feel your profession hearkens to the spirit of the Ssaelit, sing out your fealty, reject the Twins, and strive to follow the path Sonum Ssael has laid for you.

Rector Adelier, do you know if Ssael ever had a family, or a wife, or anyone who is related to him who is alive today? I understand he was a real person (and a wright) at one point. And Sette, which of your Gods do you relate to, or like, the most?

Ssael had a wife, many lovers, and left behind a large family. His own grandson, in fact, was his undoing in the mortal world. These events all happened millenia ago however, and the lineages have long been lost to time.

"Tirna's me favourite god. She got bullied by the others but stuck up for herself and didn't take their lip. She don't like humans and I don't like humans either so we got lots in common. I like t'get blessin's from her shrines so I don't get no sicknesses or close me tail in a door but one time I left a whole sandwich as offerin' and the next day didn't make jukrum so I went back t'the shrine and threw a egg at a monk. Tirna's a dog's backside sometimes. I would fight her."

Hey cool dudes, have you ever heard of Lady Ilganyag and Etalarche? Do you think they exist?

"I dunno 'em."

Faerie tales.

Sette, with the exception of Stockyard, Anadyne, and Knock-Me-Down, your family seems close - spatially speaking. To your knowledge, have you met all of the Frummagems still alive?

"Naw, I never met Stockyard and Da said he had other family with him. May be more'n Ana and Knock knockin' about, I dunno. The Frummagems is a reeeeeal... s'like, if you wanna get blooded in you can... sort of... spongy... Duane, what's that word. Easy to get inta. Spongy."


"Naw, that word for like, a thing that soaks up other things."


"NO. That word that means it's got holes in!"


"NOOO. Balls, I thought you was supposed t'be smart!"

Hello Duane. As this is our first time speaking I'd like to first say it is a pleasure to meet you. Secondly, since you appear to be "living forever" and you make such a wonderful parental figure, I was wondering if you have ever considered adoption?

Likewise is it a pleasure for me to make your acquaintance, madam. I must correct you, however: I am not "living forever"; I am dying indefinitely.
Under what circumstances is it acceptable to take someone's life?

Ssael tells us to defend innocence, faith, country, and honour. Should any of them fall under attack, shrink not from your response.

Duane, how did you take your coffee?

Black. And strong enough to stir my pulse, if you please.


You guys should do impersonations of each other.


I am Sette Frummagem and I- Anteit vaosa, I shall not do this.
"I win!"

Sette, how lucky is Duane to have you around?

"Ya hear how he talks? He'd've imploded of boringness weeks ago if I weren't about."

Duane, how do you feel about brothels?

A man of God and good breeding should not frequent them.

Last you heard, who was the most reviled criminal in Kasslyne?

"Your mum."


"Well, that's what I heard."

Duane, as much as possible without upsetting the lady who conveys these messages to you, could you explain your relationship with the daily solar/lunar cycles and how they affect a galit?

A few hours past sunset, I fall into unconsciousness. I sleep and dream no differently than you. Yet if I am not bound I have found I... wander. At dawn, I rise again.

Duane, I realize you can't be objective in this, but how reliable are your memories of life? I know that you...sleep soundly at night, so obviously you will have gaps since death, but how is the integrity of your earlier memories holding up? (RUDE, Iknow)

Books dog-ear and fade with handling. Our favourite volumes are warped, cracked, peeling, stained, torn, and broken. I have ruined with love many a book in my day.

Memories are not like books. They strengthen and solidify with handling. In days bereft when I had not the wits for reading nor a tongue for speaking nor a face suitable for the company of men, I pored over the shelves of my library of memories and turned pages and scanned lines and devoured chapter and letter and verse until every second of my life was an immortalized, gilded, burnished volume incorruptible behind my false eyes. Every face there is forever. Every face there is forever.

Duane, if you were to take a vacation away from your current task, where would it be that you would wish to go?

I have heard the Sounders speak of the khert as a haven away from brute reality; a nothing-place where these laws that damn us to decay and pain have no jurisdiction and yet where life abounds in new forms. In that golden haven I would spend a while, a patient begging at chaos' practise for some numbing physick against the scalpel of consciousness. I shall hurtle into it one day, and that coma shall be sweet and black and dreamless.

Sette, whose the cleverest theif in all of Sharteshanian history (barring your Da, of course, long may he steal and plunder)? Duane, does Alderode have any legendary trickster-heroes? Or are you lot too honorable for that?

"ME. These questions is horrible, they ain't even tryin'. YOU ARE ALL STOOPID AS DOG FARTS."

Sette, you cannot be the cleverest thief in all Sharteshanian history. What of worth have you stolen, hmm? What fodder have you given the bards?

"The question asked about ALL SHARTESHANIAN HISTORY. That means past history and now history and history yet t'come! When the world ends and the oceans boil and pigs fly and the earth splits open and Dwayne Adaleer is genuinely int'resting for one minute - then anyone'll be able t'look back at history and see that aye, Sette Frummagem were the best. You just wait and watch for it, zombie face."

If Sael killed the Gendifur gods and took their place then what's stopping someone else from killing Sael and taking his place and so on?

Ssael does not stand aloof Lord with his knowledge behind locked gates and his power shuttered behind iron bars. Hunt him out if you like but if you find him, he will share freely of all he has. Ssael wishes for this. Ssael desires you in his place. Ssael is the reflection we pray to see in every mirror.

Sette, how would you describe your cousin Stockyard?

"Dunno, I never met him. Da says he's a fellow've great ambition. A snake that got too big for his skin too fast so Da had t'rip him out it 'fore he choked. I heard Bodkin say once though that Da sent Stockyard away 'cause he were one've the only fellow's in Hanghorse Da feared could challenge him. 'Course Da's savin' lordship for me so he weren't gonna stand for no uppity cob-gobbler elbowin' in on the dynasty. I know Stock ain't no bowl've flowers; he's a fistfulla blades and I gotta keep me wits just as keen closer I get to 'im."

"Old Tom who used t'mop the Cricket" - he mopped the what-now?

"Da's pub is called the Midnight Cricket. This lot ain't got the wits've a bucket've frogs."

"No one comes to undeath blameless." What if Crescians were raising dead Aldish soldiers to turn against their own, or people who died sudden deaths? Or is there a pymaric way to ensure that you can't be raised?

It was for this reason that the practise of using plods in warfare was abolished. If the Crescians were to attempt such a thing now we would soundly rout them.

Duane, what is you view of democracy as a system of government? How about you, Sette?

I am afraid I am unfamiliar with the term.


My mother's house has no door. What am I?


Duane, how would you feel if the only other sentient undead person you came across was quite awful?


Sette, what do you think of that Crescian boy Jivi? Are you jealous of him for getting to pilot Uaid for at least a little bit?

"I'ma steal that ogre and teach it t'fight proper."

Sette, now armed with the knowledge of Knock-me-down and Anadyne are playing henchmen to your cousin, are you feeling apprehensive about "storming the castle", as it were? Or is "sic 'em, Duane" still the main plan of attack?

"I gotta think it through and I'm gonna. Duane ain't gonna like about one-bajillion things about this like it's Cresce and the Red Berry Boys got summat t'do with Stockyard and also his leg is hurt. I dunno! But brilliance is all in me head squirmin' and burnin' t'get out so I trust it t'get out at the proper moment, and it'll be grand then. You'll see."

What are your thoughts on brothels?

"Profitable enterprises."

You ever run across a grebber?

Thankfully I have not.

"I want to! I'll fight it."

What do you two know of ghosts, spirits and other such incorporeal undead? Do either of you believe they even exist at all?

"They ain't no fun!"

Of course they exist, but the common misconception that they are the souls of the dead is tiresome poppycock. They are mnemonic detritus leaked from the khert via the worn roads of pymary and pymarics. Do not let Sette convince you otherwise.

"I KNOW A GHOST THAT CURSED SOMEONE. Old Tom who used t'mop the Cricket, he got cursed by a ghost come after everyone else'd gone and after that he COULDN'T. EVER. POO. AGAIN."

Sette, have you seen many ghosts?

"I seen a few. Sometimes of a black night by the shore the twistin' smoke eels come all silvery and sorrowful t'tangle themselves in the water womens' hair. I seen blobby lights - will o' the wisps Da calls 'em - nigh the gallows, all leavin' damp patches on the pavement like they laid their faces down there and cried a thousand years. I don't like ghosts, they ain't no fun."

Duane, would you believe that Sette actually did something selfless and helped some kids escape the RBB while putting herself in harm's way?

Sette is not half so horrid as she feigns.

"Too right - I'm TWICE as horrid. If I helped anyone it were only insurance so I could collect on the favour later."

Perhaps even not a quarter so horrid.


How do you like the sound of "Duane Frummagem"?

Surely you have been browsing my journal, and came across the nightmare I endured a fortnight past.

Duane, how is your pymaric vision diffrent from your living vision?

It is less distinct, less vibrant, and framed in dancing gold; like peering through a tunnel of drunken sunlight.

Sette, is this the first time you've been to Ulestry or Cresce (I won't tell Duane)? How do you like them? As a tourist, obviously. Sharteshane is the best country by a wide margin.

"It IS the best! Sharteshane's got the best food and the best monsters and the best zombies. Dealin' with all these foreign types is a headache and I can testify forever and you can put it in a book that Alderode's got the WORST zombies I ever saw and maybe the worst zombies that have ever existed.

"But naw, I ain't never been t'Cresce or Ulestry. I met culls from both tho' and had me way with their skins. Crescians is all real mutton-headed with their coin; they come out the moneychanger's house all janglin' and not knowin' three fish from two mum and I sell 'em a kick in the arse at three-hunnerd percent mark-up, haha!"

Sir Adelier, I have long thought the greatest thing a patriot can do for his country is to seek to change it for the better. In that spirit, what would you change about Alderode?

I would without hesitation obliterate those vile heathens, the Mmatonts. They foment rebellion and dredge up ills a thousand years dead; what is worse, they are so abhorred they have given the country cause to distrust all Soud, and Soud communities suffer for it. Vits does love its scapegoats. It has too gladly given its tacit approval of the bullying of my caste all to distract from its inability, perhaps, to rout the Mmatont and restore Tain and Anchert to their former splendour.

"All reanimated dead are damned to the cold and lightless hells." Even if they were raised involuntarily? It seems a poor situation that those who had no say in the desecration of their corpse would be as punished as those who'd signed the paper for it.

It cannot be expected that God change the nature of the universe and degrade His standards for a man who will not take responsibility and ensure the integrity of his own corpse prior to his demise. No one comes to undeath blameless.

If the Ilganyag approached you with an offer of real death, instead of your current state of galithood, would you consider accepting their aid?

Were the day dark like ink in mine eyes and the future like a headstone propped against my back and the past burning in my belly like a billhook I would reach into that box of scorpions and hope to God something took my hand.

But of course the day is not dark, and the future is bright and the past is a pleasant warmth behind me, so what a foolish thing to ask.

Sette, do Frummagems pay jukrum even when they're too young or too old to?

"Course not! Only Frummagems properly part of the gang do. Ya ain't in the gang only for havin' the name, dogwater."

Duane, how would you feel if a member of the Ilganyag knew about your condition?

I care not one whit for anything the Ilganyag do or do not know.

Duane, your current state of being may not in fact be a curse, but instead a cunning physical illusion, brought upon by some unknown magic. I know a few people here in my country who specialize in revitalizing the dead, and they believe this.

Curses? Magic? Revitalizing the dead? I abandoned fairy tales when my milk teeth abandoned me.

Are platinums the only Aldish that have an abnormal lifespan when compared to other people? Also, Duane, what which caste were you? Gold?

With verse taught to me by my mother when I was a boy, I might answer both of your questions at once:

For centuries four the poor Copper thrive;
Shunned by the khert they somehow survive.

At two centuries and a half the Jet tail the red,
Blue of eye, keen of wit, bright schemes in each head.

The childish Silver live half a century at most,
Brave warriors, these kinsmen, but not too proud to boast.

For thirty years holy Platinum suffer and pine,
They are the Twins' beloved, and their arts brightest shine.

Finally the mud-coloured Bronze lurk and skulk in-between,
Unpredictable are their years; two-hundred? Nineteen?

These are your good countrymen, yellow-haired child.
They are Dammakhert-bound and Dammakhert-styled.

Your kind come from east, from the mountains of Tain,
One mortal man's lifetime is how long you'll remain.

You and your countrymen - children of fair Alderode!
They are who they are, and we are the Gold.

What are your thoughts on two-toes?

"They smell like dirt and pee and crossness. Da says they're lay-abouts and won't let 'em in none've the shops."

To be quite honest I have never understood this disdain foreigners have for the lizardfolk. I know there is bad blood between them and it has ever kept the wee ones from showing me the courtesy of a conversation, but I find them fascinating. So little is known of their Arts! One day I shall manage to befriend one of them and fathom their mysteries.

Sael was a normal human right? Wouldn't that mean that he would have human flaws as well as strengths? Do you think Ssael could make a mistake or do you think he is a perfect being now that he is dead?

Only Gefendur deal in absolute concepts such as perfection. Perfection exists only on paper. In a reality of erosion and change, striving for perfection is a fool's errand; it is a child grasping at a square of sunlight on the ground and scowling in frustration as the shadow of his own hand blots his prize again and again.

Ssael was never perfect and even now He is not perfect. Mankind is too varied and fantastic to create from it one standard. Instead Ssael is just, determined, wise, and incorruptible. He is the ultimate culmination of this imperfect world - the son of a broken home - beautiful in His flaws, enormous in His joy, unsettled by a need to see all of His brothers and sisters freed of this flesh-prison and at His side. My God is not a distant King nor stormy-browed Father; my God is my teacher and my companion. Keep your impossible perfection.

Duane, if your god is an ascended human, do you believe morality comes from someplace other than the dictates of gods? If all the gods were dead and not just the twin ones, would it change how you behave?

Ill-suited are gods to instructing mortals on morality. What does a distant god know of the fardels born by Man? How can the Gefendur look to Riv or Yerta for compassion when those alien creatures have never known pain, nor weariness, nor desperation? I say the Gefendur make sacrifice at the altars of slavemasters, and they are the yoked and lashed.

Long ago Ssael rejected those slavemasters. He saw the indifferent cruelty of those unfit lords and enacted a great revolt against them. With that revolution, Ssael became the first Man to discover within himself absolute morality; a morality that transcended the external oppression of dispassionate gods and gave him a weapon strong enough to strike those gods down forever. That great sword of truth is Ssael's gift to all of us. He waits for each and every one of his brothers and sisters to discover it within, and arm themselves for their own revolution.

This talk of dictated morality is foul to my ears. True morality is not a decree. True morality is a discovery, one that must be made again and again by every man who feels his soul within him.

Duane, what's it feel like when you break a bone? Is it the same as when you were alive?

Not quite the same. There is a concurrent jarring of a sense I can hardly describe. The bone snaps and my very spirit rattles and convulses. Strum a strand of spider silk and it may break on your finger; but so too will the entire cobweb shudder and twang and sway. It is not pleasant.

Sir, I disagree with the Plat. I think it is endearing that, despite whatever it was that happened, you still defend Alderode, even though you never wish to return. I guess you cannot deny the good things it taught you and all you learned there, hmm?

Alderode is the most just and sane civilisation the world has known. It is not perfect but there is no better.

Duane, when was the first time you heard the term 'galit'? Did you believe in such creat- er...people? Did you ever see one before it happened to you, or did you only hear things about them?

The term is not uncommon. "Galit" means one who is damned, and is frequently applied towards reanimated corpses. The Ssaelit believe it is a sin to allow a human corpse to be sullied by nature, which will dissolve it into putrescence once the noble spirit flees its chains. All reanimated dead are galit; all reanimated dead are damned to the cold and lightless hells.

Duane, I'm sure a few have definitely noticed, but I (possibly we) feel (at the same time) exceedingly stupid and awe-inspired by the way you speak. Is it just you, or do all people in Alderode sound so educated and eloquent?

I do not speak well at all. If you were to hear the Shadwe Clare preach of the duties of Man, or Concerne Loic Xavier spin his gossamer tirades against the menace of the March and the creeping tyranny of the Crescian, you would weep outright and declare me a dull and insipid simpleton.

Duane, I remember you saying one day you passed out over a bridge and woke up next to a fish(?) the following day. How did you maintain consciousness when Sette tackled you and you both plummeted into the lake then? Severe concentration mixed with dread?

The lake was shallow. The khert must adequately disperse over a wide area of liquid before the dispersal affects me.

Duane, do you ever fear that if you exposed your condition to a wright they might be able to.... replicate it? You have achieved some form of longevity and retained your consciousness, some fools may view this as a boon, at least until they obtained it.

I modestly believe myself among one of the most knowledgeable wrights working today, and I see no way to replicate my condition. You must understand that the mind does not survive death. Into the khert it is drawn and then obliterated, its memories, temperament and every experience reclaimed. To pull those thousand aspects together again would be akin to pouring a glass of wine into the ocean, and then expected to ladle it out again. It cannot be done. I see no way a mortal wright might have worked it upon me. Hence I declare my plight a direct result of the khert's rejection, and blame a aberration in my own soul.

Sette, I feel as though someone must have asked this before, but is there some legendary treasure you'd like to steal someday to make your mark on the world?

"Naw. Treasure huntin's too much work."

Sir Adelier, because of your final high title yet common birth, were there any people who were upset because of this? I'd imagine there might be a few. Where I come from, though, social mobility is common, so you would be well-supported no matter what.

The entire Temple was upset by my placement. Concerne Abadie, the second most powerful politician in the country, called my placement a base appeal by the desperate Shadwe to the fence-sitters among the Mmatont. I demanded satisfaction from him for this slight against the Shadwe, who is a great and brilliant man, and on a cold day broke his surrogate's legs in the Temple courtyard. Yet there was naught I might do to tease acceptance from my brethren. I stopped trying. I focused instead on my duties and on pleasing Shadwe Clare and Rector Argenti, ever my friends within the Temple.

"I know what that's like when won't no one let ya fit in. They do it for jealousy. Da says greatness is a burden. We're burdened great people, Dwayne, and no mistake. That's why ya like me! I'm you but small and with a tail and not a absolute disappointment in all areas of life and roguery."

"On the battlefield."? Duane, were you training wrights into soldiers for battles? You were an officer of Alderode? If I may ask, what was your rank?

I trained aspirants into fieldwrights and lead land forces in domestic excursions. My final title was Fourth Motadwe of his Excellency Shadwe Clare's Llede Llemaesa, his personal forces apart from but in cooperation with the Conciliatory Army of Alderode.

"But you was in the Aldish army before, I thought!"

As a young man I served three years as a fieldwright in the Order of Chinoll, a division of the Conciliatory Army. I fought in the Foi Hellick rebellion, pushed Sonorie forces out of Avelpit, and saved the life of one of the young sons of a Temple of Song official. For this I was plucked from the army and into Temple service, swiftly climbing the ranks to finally hold a position one of my common birth had little right to.

Actually, sir Adelier, here our instructors are not allowed to inflict harm upon their students! There are laws against it.

Yours is a ludicrous land. You'd do as well to take the scourge away from a vliegeng handler.

Duane, what would you do if you met a Crescian Ssaelit?

I would have a great many questions for them. I would also count it as one of the greatest days of my life, for it would lead me to conclude that there may in the distant future yet be some hope for Cresce's rehabilitation into a functioning, free, propitious land.

You ever try short hair, Sette? I think you would look very nice with a short sporty cut! And then it could never be grabbed by people who don't know to mind their own business!

"No! I'd look like a lad and it's very useful to look like a helpless girl sometimes. Da says only fools turn away the gifts Yerta gives us gratis."

Sir, I was wondering if, in your time as a teacher of wrights, you had any who misbehaved to impress others, or just to challenge your authority? One in my family is a teacher, and he always has the most interesting stories at the end of the day.

I do wonder if your kinsman carries about a stave as he instructs his class. Like wild hounds, aspirants must first be broken before they are properly trained. But no, I was not a professor or a pymary master in a lecture hall. The boys in my care were there because they wished to learn, and if they impeded that it was to their own fatal disadvantage later on the battlefield.

Hey Duane, does Alderode have tournaments or...duels between wrights of nobility? Where I come from, noblemen would sometimes duel for a lady's hand in marriage. And I think some of them were what we call 'knights'. Do you have something similar?

The nobility would not sully themselves in duels. It is their practise to hire surrogates to fight their battles, and they arm and accoutre them like dolls. Aye, the knighted gentry play at warfare the way boys play with tin soldiers. They know nothing of the duel, not as it is fought among the commonborn and the working classes.

I now understand why you, Duane, dislike the "drunken" feeling. Everything your grandfather taught you is thrown out the window if you give into it. But you do know your grandfather's influence over you is stronger than that, that you are stronger, right?

It is not wise to guess after matters about which you are only half-educated, sir.

Ah, is that perhaps why, when you cast something Sir, that is turns the color green then? (It being the colour of the Temple of Song?)

Nearly every isolating spell contains a slot for colour of effect. I choose green out of habit, but my aspirants, who also were of the Temple, chose any number of colours for themselves. It is personal habit, little more to it than that.

"I would choose red like BLUD. I seen you pick red sometimes. That's when you're real cheesed, ain't it?"

I shan't deny it. Scary, eh? Betimes the mere colour 'red' is more communicative and more frightening than every oath and blasphemous imprecation in a sailor's handbook.

Sir Adelier, did you finally become so well-trained that you beat your grandfather in a duel? Or did he always have one more trick up his sleeve?

Ha, the blighter left the world before I was finished with Seminary. He was afraid of me, I suppose.

"Afraid've makin' your da cry if he fought ya again and killed ya."

Would you like to duel me, Miss Frummagem? A dry duel: daggers for yourself, and I'll restrain myself to my belt.

"If I had t'duel you I'd just throw a pig steak at your face and stab your head when you were all myeaarrrgghhbwaaains eatin' it on all fours. Ever been in a street duel? I killed seventeen people last year with a BOOT."

Sette, do you have to fence the items you happen to find carelessly placed into open pockets, or can a jukrum be paid in valuables? For example, could you pay your jukrum with expensive jewelry, or does it have to be coin?

"Da likes coin. He says it's most fair for everyone and then the bookkeep don't gotta cock about pricin' goods or makin' change. Ya got t'ken the true nature've the jukrum. Ain't about the coin, it's about makin' obeisance t'the Frummagem in the way Da says it's got to be. It's tuggin' your forelock at Da and agreein': 'Aye, you're the top man, and I'm in your shadow.' So usin' Bones the fence or Tully at the edge've town - it don't matter. What matters is havin' them coins inta the office by the supper hour at the end've every week. That's what matters!"

Is bright green a Ssaelit color?

Green and gold are the colours of the Temple of Song.

It's been asked to Sette what Eph tasted like, and if I remember correctly, she said "fear". Duane, I noticed you got a taste test in as well. What did the blood do to you, if anything? You didn't fall off immediately after tasting it, I noticed...

"Dwayne don't like talkin' about it, he gets embarrassed. But he told me once what it's like. He said it ain't that it tastes amazin' like raspberry pie fillin' or cold cow soup, it's that it's tingly and warm and like whisky, and makes him feel drunk and and and shuts out all the rest've the world so all he can think about is gettin' more. Sounds exactly like money!

"But he didn't go crackers for that hat-man's blood 'cause I took off his bloody glove 'cause I'm brilliant. Out've sight out've mind! Zombies ain't so hard to manage."

Duane, what was it like duelling your grandfather?

Painful! He cracked my bones more than once, and yet the engagement was never over until hands were down - that is, until one or the other could no longer raise his hands to cast, whether due to death, unconsciousness, or surrender. Ach, the old man would goad me until I could not feel the aching, and then break my head open when I charged him. It was all in good sport of course. He taught me to fight through pain and high temper, and to ever keep a steady head. A wright loses the battle the moment he loses his concentration. He was a fine man, my grandfather.

Sette, do you have any underlings back at home?

"I used to. There were a boy called Lucky and he followed orders passing well. He was dumb- the kinda dumb where ya can't talk. Da said he took to me 'cause I could do enough talkin' for two."

What became of him?

"He got a bad fever last year and Mr. Dead jumped him. Now I reckon he's a baby somewhere bawlin' its head off and its ma prolly can't get it to shut up and it's for Lucky not bein' able to bawl when he was Lucky, haha. Now he can do all the bawlin' he cares t'do."

Duane, I vaguely remember you saying that being able to cast without words ran in your family(?) If that's true, does that mean that your mother and father were tacit casters as well?

They were not, but my grandfather possessed the skill as did other Adeliers reaching back generations in our wake.

"When Sette is in proximity this is a perpetual desire." Surely you jest, Sir. I admit, I thought you both loathed one another at first, but now she has begun to grow on you, hasn't she? How dare her guarded heart already take yours, hmm?

I have not murdered her yet, have I?

Sort of random question, but Duane, are there any rare delicacies in Alderode that you enjoyed eating? We have one that Sette might like. It involves making pies of all kinds :)

I do believe Sette would eat rat if it was baked into a pie.

"What's wrong with eatin' rat? Ya toff, if ya'd try it ya might even fancy it!"

...jellied monny blood was ever a favourite of mine. I have not seen it here in the south, but I could not enjoy it now regardless.

Duane, I ask with with complete honesty and no mal-intent, but do you ever consider going back and visiting your homeland, Alderode?


Sette, what goes into the day-to-day business of running Sharteshane's thief clan? What parts are you looking forward to taking over especially?

"It's a great deal've numberin' and summin' but I'm good at it. Da goes through loads've accountants mostly for them tryin' t'cheat us, so oft he does the figurin' himself. Gotta be certain all the direct employees is payin' in the proper percentage to the family and then to the governor and then to the Crown, and still havin' enough for themselves. Da is the fairest employer in Sharteshane, I wager ya didn't know that! Then the indirect employees (that's what he calls the toughs and assassins and purse-nippers), gotta be certain they're gettin' their jukrum in. Gotta be certain the constables is gettin' their fair cut if we done business enough in their beats that week. It's all a great number game!"

And you like that, do you?

"Aye, it's like a puzzle. 'Course, enforcement is a grand time too, beatin' protection taxes out the shops, running jobs for nobles or whoever, knockin' about seamen tryin' to smuggle in goods without Da's permission. Da has grand parties too on feast days and on them days there's no jukrum due and everyone loves Da, and those days it would be good to be the top man and have all the city out t'kiss your backside. I would demand sacrifices of pie and I think an entire case've Beadman's ginger beer and and and there'd be seventeen sword swallowers. You ever seen them, Duane? They're MAD."

Oh, I could swallow a sword.

"You got no throat, it ain't the same!"

Aww, c'mon Duane. You should encourage her to do other things than simply pinch wallets. Teach her the mouth harp thingie. Something to occupy her mind from thieving and bothering you. (Ashley: I'm assuming the mouth harp is a harmonica?)

I have no notion how the vile instrument is played, and it is now dripping saliva. I stopped trying to teach Sette things once she bit a chunk from me for daring to recite an alphabet in her direction. I would sooner suckle a grebber.

Sir, as a lady, I can say experience is...alluring. If you wish to be so humble, I suggest you cease answering questions about the women you had in your company. I'm not blaming you; you're being as honest as possible. Selfless and honest. So very Duane..

Anteit vaosa, moya umam ssomunt bamillan.

Sir, you were a heart-breaker weren't you? Wait, that's right. You have class. You're above that; too well-raised for such acts of regression. But do you know that the more questions answered on women you knew, the more the women on here will want you? :)

I mean not to insult you, but it is a diseased mind that would delight in this cadaver.

Duane, I remember you said after Sette blew a hole in the khert you were "of a mind to aid their wrights in mending this, come morning". Wouldn't that have put yourself as well as Sette at risk of exposure? Shouldn't you keep as low a profile as possible?

If I cannot do what is right, what reason is there to drag one foot in front of the other from hour to hour? Better to burn in the pursuit of Good than to steal one more dismal day from Eternity's pocket by turning away from a town, a neighbourhood, an individual in distress.

Sette, I come from a large family. You got any siblings? Any brothers or sisters? If you do, who is the best thief of the family?

"Da says I had brothers once but they got hanged and there was a wee sister but she fell in the Bay and drownded. They all died for fear, knowin' I was comin'!"

Sette, what would you do if you found yourself in a world where there was no such thing as money?

"Kill you, kill the world, kill everythin' and go mad and eat babies, I reckon."

Duane, have you ever considered using non-glamour aids to disguise your face, like a false beard? Also, does the glamour you use resemble your actual face?

I would count my cowl as a practical aid. The beglamoured face you see is quite out of my control. This connective pymary confuses your senses, attributing to the area of my countenance the same perceptive sphere that greets you when you look to autumnal foliage. What you see when you look to my face, then, is your own personal perception of pleasantness. What you perceive to be a pleasant face surely shall not coincide with what another man perceives, and I cannot know if what you see in any way resembles the face I wore as a living person.

So Duane, you clearly were once keenly interested in courting...but how successful were you? Were the ladies throwing themselves at you? Was there ever one who stole your heart?

Perhaps, perhaps.

Duane, do miracles and visions of Ssael visit his people?

They may visit the RIGHT people. God's direct interference in the affairs of mortals has long been a question; there is the school who believes Him above such terrestrial trifling, and another that believes His teaching and revelations ongoing, gifted to certain seeking individuals through visions and even direct visitations.

Myself, I know that God walks this world still; breathes this air, holds our hands. I do not believe Him so aloof.

Speaking of the theatre and opera, I was wondering if there were any events or dances after productions that you, Duane, went to? Do you like dancing? Or are you like me; one who loves to, but usually has two left feet?

I would award myself a passing grade in the terpsichorean arts. I do love dancing but it is ever better when attached to the attention of a chattering damsel of flushed cheek and flashing calf, whose colloquy and gaiety move one's heart and feet 'cross the dance hall as swift as the violinist's catgut or the drummer's report.

Sette, do ya feel slightly left out with all these questions asked for Duane? Or do you not really mind. You're probably entertaining yourself by impersonating us since Duane won't do voices, huh? :)

"Naw, I left and lifted a few cigarillo cases and fenced 'em and bought a sammich and this keen mouth harp. I dunno how to play but I'ma learn."

God be merciful. Take it outside, Sette!

Duane, I wish you were appreciated more. Set aside the fact that you save Sette at every corner, but she also has no IDEA nor care for the kind of knowledge you possess. I'd talk to you all day, basking in the sunlight of the enlightenment you'd show me!

Enlightenment? The older I grow and the more I know, the less I am certain of anything at all. Do not hang yourself from my tree, sir; better to swing from your own branches than cast questing hemp at any of these withered boughs.

Duane, you ever wonder what would happen if your body just got lost at sea forever?

I imagine barnacles would be involved.

Duane, you seem quite familiar with the motions of courtship. When you were whole and living, what sort of women did you prefer to keep in your company?

Women of good character and breeding, clear-headed, comely, and eager; wiser than I but too kind to shame me for 't.

"And enormous bosoms."

Duane, would it have made you sad if during your duel with Quigley your hood had fallen down and he had seen your zombie face, and upon seeing it and being the frail plat that he is, he had a heart attack and fell over dead?

"That would have been AWESOME."

Duane, can you think of a particular part of you that which your person is bound? You have demonstrated more than once that you are able to replace one part or another, and upon your description on your genius respiratory pymaric,

"and further your lamentation of the same, I thought, perhaps, that your being is khert anchored alone, what do you think? I am not even a novice of pymary mind you, just an enthusiast."

In truth, sir, I do not know. The removal of even my skull has not been able to give this putrid form pause, making me fear that I am something unique not only physically, but also spiritually. What monstrous manner of spectre will not or cannot flee its own headless corpse? When the inevitable arrives and this form is at last only dust and fragments of hopeless bone, what then? Does this production spiral towards a conclusion or will the khert never accept me? Is this a special, eternal hell to which I am consigned?

I do not know.

Hey Sette, have you ever met any Crescians before? What's your opinion of them? (Also, what was your opinion of the Aldish before meeting Duane?)

"Oh, I known loads've Crescians. They're bossy and preachy and think they know the proper runnin've the whole world. Aldish is mostly the same but I only met Aldish sailors afore Duane and they wasn't such toffs, and it were easy to con sem off 'em when they'd try'n change their queer square money. Aye, all the Aldishmen I ever met were gullible culls."

Duane, what is the old religion of Tain like?

You speak of the heathenish Mmatont? They worship sticks and dirt, and dance naked, savage circles around flame and brine. It is not propitious, pious, nor productive to wonder after the practises of such noisome fiends.

Duane, did you ever have to deal with being distrusted as a soud?

Naturally. It is best for a Soud to do business with other Soud, and to keep within the social and mercantile sphere of one's ghers. It cannot be helped.

Duane, what do you do with the money that you earn from your work? I can't imagine that you have very many expenses.

Neither do I earn very much coin. It is enough to satisfy my landlord, to keep my scrivening supplied, and to purchase a weekly copy of the Standard, so that I am not forever ignorant of the state of pymary. Everything in excess is saved or given away.

"Given away?!"

Given away!

Duane, how would you go about cheering up a crying child (example: child fell down and scraped their knee open)?

Sweets and a kind word will remedy most situations.

Sette, what do you think of Cresce and Alderode's eternal hatred for each other?

"Da says he and Ma used to row summat awful, throwin' bottles at each others' heads and causin' such noise and bother through the entire neighbourhood that the watch'd come and join in and everyone'd be senseless on the floor by morn. I reckon Cresce and Alderode is like that. They're both tyrants and toughs, and don't neither ever wanna give ground t'the other, so they have to row and row forever until one've 'em up and dies."

Sette, what do you know of a man named Starfish?

"Dunno. How much ya got in your wallet?"

Duane, is Cresce and Alderode the only military superpowers? Are there any other country or organization that should be mentioned? Spasibo. PS Sorry for the spelling. This is not my native language. My best regards to Sette.

Sharteshane is a fierce naval power and one that does not care to be leashed by Cresce. Its relationship with Alderode has been a colourful one over the centuries, but not necessarily hostile in nature. If Sharteshane ever finds something to believe in, it may form an army worth fighting.

Duane, how often do you get the urge to blow someone up?

When Sette is in proximity this is a perpetual desire.

Sette, do you have a favorite cousin and a least favorite cousin?

"They're all pisspots, I hate 'em."

Sette, how close did Duane live to you before your journey started? Had you heard any stories of the weird stick man who was real easy to pickpocket?

"Naw, he were new to me. I live on the other side've the wall near the water and don't go inta the city much 'less it's business for Da. The maggotfarm's place is on Criseyde, that's nigh the ruins and I don't never stray there, it's haunted!"

Hey Sette, are you and Duane practicing any combination attacks? Like Duane could throw you at someone so you can bite their face off, or magically enhance your knives.

"That's a good idea! But Dwayne's all mopey now. I'll practise jumpin' off his head when he's asleep."

Duane, do you not feel the touch of some divine hand in the fact that your affliction has occurred to you, a tacit caster and perhaps the only type of person able to construct the means to endure such an ordeal? Do you glean a sense of purpose from that?

It is a dull man who looks to the inexplicable and assigns an explanation to God. This is often the course of the Gefendur, who blame every shudder of the earth and speck in their coffee on some dyspeptic caprice of the Eldest Sister. The Ssaelit are not so presumptuous. What interest would Ssael have in the life - or death - of one unspectacular Aldishman? What purpose does my plight serve?

But even Ssael, as we all are, is slave to the custodianship of the khert.

I am not so foolish that I do not realise this is a punishment; that I erred so grievously in another life that upon my death the khert itself rejected me, committing me to this state to purge my sins. In life I rose above my born station, a life the khert assigned me, and I fouled its plans, so it corrects them now. The Great System will ever catch you in its teeth in the end.

I cursed and spit and railed against it once, but the khert has ears only for pymary. I struggled and thrashed but it does not hold you with hands. I asked for a word of mercy, a word of comfort, but the khert has no mouth.

It is Ssael who has all of these things. He cannot change this, and he does not want me, but

If only I had some knowledge of what has damned me to this, I

No, it is enough to realise I took too much, yet did ever as Ssael asked. I denied the khert and took too much but I served my Lord until that last moment. That is enough!

Pay no mind to Sette, Duane! Your pre-fight speeches are certainly worthy of an opera house. I hope you've been recording them in your diary for the benefit of anyone wanting to novelize your life.

Well, that would be terribly self-involved of me would it not?

"You do it though! I know you do! Don't lie, maggotbreath!"

Belt up, Tail!

Duane, have you ever pulled an "all-nighter" or do you disapprove of using pymary in such a way?

Another asked this and I advised coffee. Do none of you sleep?

Duane, it troubles me some to see you vexed by our curiosity. I apologize for any trouble we've caused you. To make up for it, can you tell us about something pleasing to you? Something that still brings a smile to your face?

I must say this talk of the opera stirs my memory and soothes my heart. The opera house was the haunt of the privileged and the impoverished alike; the working class had their penny adventures at Daught Hill, the elite their lavish productions at The Golden Claw, but ever was Durlyne a city of song, and everyone knew the words.

Most, you must realise, treated the Claw like a social club, putting in an appearance only to show off their wives or talk of the latest scandals in the countryside, but I was ever in attendance only for the music; for the melodrama of the histories, the soaring celebration of the triumphant arias, the creative coloratura of the most accomplished sopranos, the climactic deaths, the lovelorn suicides, the final note that beads like a tear on the clear cheek of the welkin, tremulous, glistening, until it rolls free and you find it clinging to your own eyelashes.

Ah, the theatre! Where no evil deed goes unpunished and love is eternal.

Duane, if the Ilganyag were the only answer that could cure you of your "cold biology", you wouldn't settle for it, right? Consenting to any of their operations would be worse than being trapped in your body now, however tempting it may be, correct...?

Let us not indulge in unproductive fancy.

Duane, I have heard you reference to theatre in Alderode. Are the actors in plays all men, or are women able to be cast in roles as well? Have you ever had the fortune of being in one? And are the actors held in a celebrity-like (or idolized) status?

Centuries ago in a more backward era, women were prohibited from the stage. That has not been the case in a very long time. When I left Alderode all of the most celebrated opera stars were female save for Joseph Allard, a Plat tenor whom I had the fortune of seeing perform the lead in The Underground Son.

In any event, it is opera that is most fashionable and most followed. Plays are popularly seen as childish. I myself have never taken to the stage. I lack the charisma, wouldn't you say? No one wants to come and watch Adelier, the great, stilted bore.


"I do believe I can rise above Sette's level, thank you." Hear that, Sette? That means the coast is clear for you and Matty! <3

"Ewww, die!"

Duane, if you saw Sette chatting up a young boy with no intention to pocket pick him and genuinely enjoying herself, what would you do to get back at her for embarrassing you with the young Aldish lady whose purse was unjustly planted on your person?

I do believe I can rise above Sette's level, thank you.

Sir Adelier, I've read the word "Muol" recently, and I think it might be Tainish. I'm unfamiliar with the term. Could you enlighten me?

It is a rude way to refer to someone beneath your station.

I've heard it been said "Lay with a wright and you're up all night." Comments?

"It's true. They don't never shut up."

Why do the sororal Gefendur eat people?


"Oh, well, it's not like REALLY eatin' people. See, when Yerta first was all fat with the world and all us humans, Sister Tirna didn't like it at all. She thought her sibs were making a stoopid mistake and all us people would only cause them mischief and bother, and she was jealous too. She got the notion to feed Fat Yerta some poison so everything in her belly would die. Yerta ate it, not knowin', and felt real poorly. She was almost gonna die! The whole world flooded with poison and the earth went brown and almost everything drowned. But then Baelar, who's the first wright and the best wright, he made her a cure and she got all better. Yerta got sick all over the Outside and that's why the Twins' world has a poison moat all around it. The rest of the poison drained into the very bottom of the ocean where the Hells are.

"Anyway, everyone knew Tirna had done it 'cause her fingers was red with the softi venom she'd used. Yerta got craaazy angry and ATE HER! It must've been amazin'. Yerta ate her and Tirna was stuck in here with all've us to learn what it was like to be a person and, I dunno, having to eat and to poo and to deal with wankers and such.

"So Tirna, she goes all around and mostly she hates us, but she starts missing her sibs too, and after a long time her heart went soft and she started not hating us so much. But sometimes she still hates us. Tirna is very confusing! I like her though because it took balls and cunning to poison Fat Yerta, even if she didn't get away with it.

"Aaaanyway, on the first day of Tirna's quarter and the first day of Yerta's quarter, the important priests all over sacrifice a twin and eat 'em to please Tirna, who hates us sometimes. It's a good idea because I reckon Tirna mostly wants to murder all of us but if we do it a little bit it calms her down and shows we ain't gettin' too big for our britches."

There you have it.

Sette's answer with the silver daggers gave me a thought: are there such things as "mage slayers", people specially trained and equipped to deal with spellcasters with minimal pymarics? Or is the only answer to a wright is a better wright?

Indeed, these men exist. In Alderode they are called Aseptics, or the Crow Men. You never wish to see them for it is likely to be your last sight in this world.

You've mentioned you've sung away a day's shadow and Quigley also mentioned singing when you were gathering the mountain's pressure. Do wrights sort of tend to sing when they cast pymary out loud?

Ha, some do, I have heard it. In truth it is a quirk of the language. In Tainish, the verb for spellcasting and for singing are one and the same. It has entered the Continental tongue in such a way because of it.

Duane, what is your opinion on cussing? You don't seem to ever do it, even though sometimes you say rude things in Tainish.

As Sette can demonstrate, swearing is a sign of low breeding. I endeavour to keep oaths from my vocabulary but a former soldier must be forgiven the occasional transgression.

"HEY! Cussin' adds flavour to conversation. You speak all in water and mush."

Hey Duane, have you ever met a Black Tongue who regretted his life choices and wished to return to normal society? (I mean, regretted it before getting his face smashed in by you.)

I have met few Ilganyag - and none adhering to your specifications. However, redemption is never further away than a revelation and a prayer. An Ilganyag could redeem himself, I suppose, but men such as myself would not be his greatest anxiety then. Nay, he should look with fear to his own cultish brethren. Would they allow him his exit? Would they allow a gruftgrammer to go free with all of their secrets and ceremonies? Pity this hypothetical man.

If someone were to use a First Material weapon to cut the khert, what could a wright do against them? I was thinking you could still use pymary to throw things at them or drop things on their heads, but I was wondering if there was anything else.

Indirect attacks are best in such circumstances, aye, but a very fast, very steady wright can still connect direct blows. The khert is not literally "cut" by First Material weaponry; rather it is briefly dispersed, like pipe smoke sliced by a dagger. The khert will reform within seconds after the blow, and a wright light on his feet and quick with his spell can connect an attack before his opponent can find and cut the khert-line that is carrying his spell.

A First Material weapon is in itself a powerful tool, but it is most effective in the hands of a specialist who can use it to not only cut the khert and block spells, but catch spells upon its blade and direct them back towards the caster. Such an opponent is one to be respected.

Sette, does Duane do voices when he reads the questions being sent in? Because Matty's dad does voices. You should make your attack zombie do voices.

"Do voices, attack zombie!"

I prefer not to.
Hey Duane, would it be possible to glamour other people without their knowledge? Like if you and another guy both like the same girl, you could glamour him so that it looks like he has bad acne or something.

As a lad I had a certain friend whose ire it was unwise to earn. He would wait until a handsome creature approached and then... what is the euphemism popular today... "tent the trousers" of us all, sending her shrieking from our company and the rest of us batting at our beglamoured crotches.

Beglamoured acne... not the most honourable act, I say.

Sette, what do you think of nighttime Duane?

"He sleeps and sleeps. It's a bore."

Better that than the other, my darling.

Were you not afraid that the folds of your would-be lungs might interfer with your eyes?

My lungs are not pymarics - they are made of tanned leather and hog bladders

"Ahahaha! Pig pee breath!"

...my windpipe is molded rawhide. It is the delicate vocal folds alone that are pymarics, a fine arrangement if I do say so myself. There was a great degree of interference between the folds and my eyes for months, and even now when the khert is troubled they interfere with each other. I've a kill word installed into the pymaric cords however, so I can cease and sequester their enchantment when it's necessary, allowing my eyes a wide, stable field in which to function. It is not a perfect system but I am still here. It must suffice.

There are grim days when it strikes me I am more ensorcellment than man. Through stitch and spell, leather, bandage, and wire I bully this vessel through a sea of days when mayhap justice should have seen it sunk long ago. But you must eat, aye? Eat and breathe and pump your hot blood-pulse. So too must I submit to my strange, cold biology and pray my being isn't damnation in itself.

Duane: Do you require air, or do you just inhale to talk? Do you have working lungs or other organs?

I do not require air. In fact on more than a few occasions I have been nearly found out by forgetting to feign my breathing during long pauses in conversation with clients and acquaintances. My speech, otherwise, is purely mechanical. I have over the years crafted prosthetic lungs and windpipe, and invented a completely original pymaric in the form of vocal folds woven of silk and resin. Before this blessing I was mute for nearly eighteen months. Were I not a tacit caster I certainly would not have survived.

"Completely original pymaric? Think there's money there?"

I posted the design to the Window years ago, my wee venomous darling, but when I finally drop you may scavenge this corpse for the piece and see what the pawnbroker will give you for it.

OK Sette...Nary A Care Frummagem versus Duane Adelier. Who wins?

"Da would win of course! He ain't scared've no zombie-galit-plods; he'd rip Dwayne's leg off and beat him in the face with it. If Dwayne tried spellery Da would pull his two First Silver daggers and cut the khert all 'round him so no spells'd connect, and then he'd tear forward and put 'em in Dwayne's neck! No one in the world doughty and dreadful as me Da!"

Silver daggers, you say? That is useful information.


Sette, are knives your weapon of choice? You seemed to react rather instinctively when Ephsephin pulled you up.

"Aye, knives is best. With jaw of these "dinosaurs" circulatin' now though I think I want me one've 'em."

Duane! I studied and drank lots of coffee and did fine on my exams! Your advice really worked! Usually I don't take advice from people who are already, er... Your advice really worked!

Good show.

Duane, will you continue to watch out for Sette when you return to Sharteshane? She's not in any less danger there, given the company she keeps.

I shall. Depending upon how this encounter wit her cousin plays out, she may be in more danger from her father than from this enigmatic Stockyard. In truth I may thrash the man once we return to Sharteshane regardless.

Dinosaurs are somewhat-enormous lizards that are so skilled at eating that they cannot be not eating even when they're not hungry. They are generally attributed with powers like roaring and stomping in cave drawings. Have your heard of something similar?

"Dwayne, were the wandering root a dinosaur?"

It was not a lizard. Sette, I believe a few of these people are telling us tales.

Sette, will you be expanding your Da's empire beyond Sharteshane? The Stockyard situation suggests there could be some difficulties with that.

"S'true, I don't reckon the Frummagemian philosophy works so well outside've Sharteshane. Asides, there's scads of territory inside the country ain't been conquered yet. We only just got the last've the Wurts kicked out've Hanghorse so we don't got no competition at the harbour. Aye, there's yet too much Sharteshane left t'conquer t'be settin' sights outside it. Another reason Stockyard's a vinegar-breathed imbecile!"

Do you /want/ to see a talking bird?

There was a time I might have found it fascinating. You have cured me of that.

((Ashley: Duane hates your questions :3 ))

How can you be so certain that women are not, in fact, equal to men? I demand proof.

I will not waste my time debating the nonsensical with a Crescian.

I see you are both rather disturbed by the Black Tongues. Aside from the obvious, are there any specific, personal reasons you have for not wanting anything to do with them?

I have had but few personal encounters with any of their number. Alderode is a hazardous land for the Ilganyag and they seldom venture there without dire need. Their practises are illegal and heretical, and their organisation barred - that is enough for me to abhor them.

"Aye, well, Black Tongues is all over Sharteshane. Savvy coves know where to find 'em when ya need a favour or a job done. They're too dangerous for me own tastes; ya annoy 'em and they'll kidnap ya forever for experimentin' or skin ya and do things with your skin. I need me skin for holdin' things in! Hahaha, that rhymed."

Did you know that "Sailor Duane" is an anagram for "Dinosaur Ale"? That sounds a lot better. [It's also an anagram for "A sour denial", which is what I expect your response will be. :-) ]

"What's a die-no-soar?"

Then again, some legends say that ninjas aren't stealthy at all, but wore bright orange jumpsuits and summoned giant frogs to help their battles and threw magic hurricane ninja stars that could flashily destroy whole mountains.

"I could take 'em."

Duane, there are some who say that chivalry is demeaning and patronizing, for it implies that all women are meek, inferior, and in need of protection. What do you think of this? Do you think, perhaps, it is better to treat women as equals to men?

You sound like some poxy Crescian. Women are no more equal to men than men are equal to women.

Ninjas are somewhat-magical assassins that are so skilled in stealth that they cannot be detected even when staring right at them. They are generally attributed with powers like teleportation and flight in legends. Have your heard of something similar?

"They smack of Black Tongues to me. I don't wanna truck with no Black Tongues."

For example, in our world it's taboo to do backflips while wearing a beef jerky hat.

"Your world ain't no fun."

Could you use pymary to set fire to the rain?

Fresh water will not accept flammability but sea water will. It is extremely unstable however and produces strange side effects. There have been a number of interesting experiments conducted in this area, I can point you towards a few papers.

What does at'gwe mean? Sorry if it is crude.

At'gwe? Ahh, "finally" or "at last."

Did you know that "Duane Adelier" is an anagram for "Dead urine ale"? Did you know that "Sette Frummagem" is an anagram for "Mugs me after met"?

"S'proof that I'm a holy warrior chosen special by Yerta to one day rule all creation through mugging."

Sette, if you'd known Duane before he became a galit, and you caught him chatting up a lovely young lady, what would you do to embarrass him after acquiring her purse?

"I'd hollow the purse, put the empty skin on his person, then go t'the guard and tell 'em there were a suspicious Aldish wanker tryin' t'fleece a gullible bint out her lucre."

This is why you have no friends.

"You shouldn't be talkin' up strange women!"

It was a hypothetical!

"You're a hyper thetical!"

Duane and Sette, what are some social taboos in your mother country? Do you abide by them? Do the taboos differ based on age, class, gender, etc.?

"I dunno, what the hell're some "social taboos" where you live? You gits is pushy."

Duane, as a lady I find your conduct inappropriate. In the future you should consider conducting yourself in a manner that does not cause children to ask you questions you can't answer. Otherwise, how's the weather?

I beg pardon. If I had known there was a lady present I would have curbed my tongue.

Hey Duane, were you ever tempted to join the Aldish Navy? You could be Sailor Duane! How cool would that be?!?

"No, no, no, he'd be SEAMAN DWAYNE hahahaha!"


Duane: "Never turn your back on a lady. Attend to their every desire and you will find them eager to attend to yours." What desires were you referring to, might I ask?

If you must ask, you are not old enough to hear the answer.

Sette, how would you react if Duane killed someone in front of you? And if he actually did eat someone in front of you as you keep suggesting to him?

"It'd make him finally be int'resting. Reckon I'd craft him a badge to wear."

Sir Adelier, after your oath is fulfilled, would you consider writing down the adventures with Sette you've had, to remember the fond memories as well as the less fond? I admit, through bad and good times, it is pretty memorable. (I write, just curious).

When I've a handy hour while Sette is burning her supper and a campfire is spilling gold across my journal, I record them already. I have kept journals since I was a boy. It is good that you write; it settles the heart and orders the mind.

Duane, you throw yourself so readily in front of Sette when danger is present. Very commendable. I know, you gave your word, but would you be surprised if I told you that most people from where I hail don't stick to such old codes of conduct anymore?

It would surprise me little, lamentably. Few people heed even the feeblest codes of conduct in these miserable times. A man should endeavour ever to place himself between the weak and the tyrannous; the usurper and the innocent. Yet idle fools prate on of the corruption of this world, claiming even the noblest act is no more than pissing into the ocean, so drowned would it be by the tide of the wicked. They forget that Ssael tells us we alone are the Good in this world and that we alone redeem it. If a man cannot be moral, just, and of good use, he is not a man at all, and he should slink back into the spume with the other dull-eyed, hunger-driven, blood-obsessed sharks. I cannot tolerate a villain, but shorter is my temper for indolent defeatists and their self-serving sophistry.

Sette, were you able to nick anything good off of Duane at the start of your trip? He must be carrying some interesting things in that bag.

She claims she has not stolen anything at all from me. You and I both know this to be poppycock.

Sette, does Duane really lick trees?

"He does. Sometimes he gnaws on his own bum like a itchy dog, too. I seen it."


Duane, are there limits to the sorts of spells you can tacit-cast, as opposed to casting aloud? Such as a limit to the word length of a spell that you can cast unspoken, or something akin? Or is a choice to cast aloud purely based on other considerations?

There is no limitation. I am told I cast aloud betimes, yet I truly do not realise I am doing it. It is akin to how we sometimes move our lips when we read to ourselves, perhaps.

Hey Duane, know how you can keep Sette from rummaging through your stuff? Tell her it's filled with horrible bitey beetles.

She will only want to arm herself with them.

Duane, so far Sette has gotten you lost, pushed you down a cliff into water, provoked a Mamalen Entek, threw you into the RBB and Peace Guard, managed to get you into a duel that almost cost you limbs, & now you're close to Cresce. How ARE you doing, sir?

My physical form is in need of repair, but my spirits are high. Battling the Plat was enjoyable in its way. Now we are at the threshold of the fulfillment of Sette's poxy mission, and once that is concluded we make for Sharteshane again! All in all, this could have gone much poorer.


You must first tell me what a "ninja" is!

Sette! Money! Have you ever tried busking? I bet Dwayne could teach you an instrument, he seems fancy like that.

"I can play drums!"

Striking the cooking pot with the cooking spoon is not 'playing drums.'

"Is so, ya just don't comprehend the complex melodies. It's a new manner've modern drumming."

Rector Adelier, what Aspects could one use to mend a physical injury using pymary?

I am no surgeon but pymary does have an application in clotting and cleaning severe lacerations. Solidity may be used to cap arteries but this is not a task for laymen with no understanding of biology, lest they send a clot into the heart and kill their patient.

Sette, I've noticed that you don't seem to like creepy human remains very much... skeletons or guts or things like that. Does that make it harder for you to be around Duane-face all the time? What about normal plods; do they give you the willies?

"It does! S'why I make him keep his hood up, his face is all half fallen off and withered like the ballsack've a dog dead of dehydration. I don't like plods much either but no one does. They stink and at home the labourers is pissy for the plodmen're comin' inta town and takin' all the jobs. Da were workin' with the ashmen's guild t'chase the plodmen out and got paid to beat 'em up and torch their warehouse. Soon as they was gone though, new ones come in. Plods is fine for Cresce but ain't so fine for Sharteshane."

Duane, what do you think of Mondays?

They are the threshold of a new week, shining and bright with possibilities. Wish no day away; they are all of them precious.

That was pretty cool how you crushed that guy's arm just by squeezing it. How did you get so strong without muscles? Also, does your super strength + light frame allow you to jump large heights and distances?

"Ahhh! Be a frog! You do jump real good and good thing too 'cause it let us flee that crypt when ya blew the wall up and jump-spelleried out it."

You are growing increasingly difficult to transcribe. E-nun-ci-ate, my dear. Our mouth is not a sack of marbles, hmm?


Duane, if you aren't all that great with animals, why did you have so many pets?

I am stubborn.

Duane, what's a merliput?

"Aye, what's that?"

It is a white rodent with a long and bushy, striped tail. In eastern Alderode they are popular meals; in the west, we keep them as house pets. I have never understood it myself.

Duane, are you skilled in painting?

To my great displeasure, I am not.

Sette, what are the requirements a boy wishing to woo you must meet?

"I don't wanna be wooed by no one, piss off."

Would you adopt a kid from a different Aldish caste if no one else would, or is that Not Done?

I would not.

Duane, did you ever have any pets?

Aye. Two owls, a merliput called Fluff, and a white squirrel called Dash that was trampled to death by goats in the garden. I have never done well with animals.

Hey Sette, what did Ephsephin taste like?

"Whiskers and fear."

Dammit, Duane! As soon as I'm done beating my kid, I'm coming back for a rematch! --Love, Quigley


Sette, have you ever encountered pymary you liked the smell of?

"I dunno if it's pymary but First Materials smell real nice 'fore the wrights have stunk 'em up with their enchantments."

Duane, have you ever considered tying Sette to a post with her tail? It seems like such an efficent way to keep her out of trouble.

What if she is able to shed her tail like a lizard? The girl can smell my spells, I put naught beyond her.

Duane, if, hypothetically, Sette died (heavens forbid!), would you honour her faith and give her a proper Gefendur burial, or would you cremate her in the tradition of the Ssaelit?

I am afraid that is in the domain of her father. I would ensure her remains returned to him safely however.

"Oi! I ain't gonna die! And if I do die the first thing I'ma do is FIRE YOU for FAILIN' to do the one thing ya was tasked to do!"

I would well deserve it, too!

Rector Adelier, could you please rid me of my ignorance of Ssael? I am afraid I know very little about him, which seems such a shame.

Sonum Ssael was a Tainish twin of Tirna who aided Alderode's first kings in their conquest of Tain and the northern territories. After receiving revelation from Tirna, Sonum Ssael rejected the Gefendur religion and its gods, left the service of Alderode, and began his own opposition sect. For many years he preached against the Gefendur and its Twins, gathering followers, detailing his revelations and philosophies, and trying to atone for the actions he had taken against his people as a young man. When his political power was at its peak, he was betrayed by his grandson and slain by Gefendur warriors who allowed their tame leonine companions to feast on his body.

In death, Sonum Ssael amassed an army of dissident dead and rose against the Twins. Save for Tirna, they were destroyed. Ssael was buoyed by the belief and love of his army, and made custodian of the Twins' seized powers, becoming Lord of the celestial Outside. Ever after from his perch the one God sits in wait to share the prize of eternity with his brothers and sisters when they are ready to accept it.

"The March are anarchists and murderers; their rejection of spiritual truth and law is the least of their crimes." If it was their only crime, would you have still butchered them for a living?

Such decisions are in the hands of the Temple.

What do you guys think of atheists?

The word's not familiar to me. Are you referring to secularists such as the March? I once butchered them for a living, if that is any indication of my opinion.

"You killed 'em? Were you like a Redemptionist?"

Of a sort. The March are anarchists and murderers; their rejection of spiritual truth and law is the least of their crimes.

Why is everyone so afraid of the Ssaelit faith?

"'Cause they say their god killed the Twins and that's some kind've rubbish I don't even got proper words for."

Sette, what would you do if someone close to you turned out to be a worshipper of Ssael?

"Set 'em on fire, I reckon."

My mother was the groom in the wedding, Sette, and that is how I got here. Do you mean to tell me your Da does not oft visit the Sharte king wearing dresses?

"...they need t'put you in the madhouse."

Sette, have you ever had any pets?

"Just a zombie."

Sette, tell us what you think of the Ssaelit?

"Uh, I dunno. They don't make very interestin' spectacles when they get hanged, no beggin' or weein' their smalls. Rogues is best for hangin' and last year they strung up Steelpate Trelawney for burnin' down the tanners' hall and he told the whole crowd and the governor and all the priests t'go suck a dead dog's balls 'fore they put the hood o'er his head. We all threw eggs at him, it were grand."

Would people in the know be able to guess by the color of your pymary that you are Ssaelit?

What a ridiculous notion.

What do you think of non-Aldish Ssaelit?

I have never met one, but I imagine they would be fascinating individuals.

Oh? What do you think might happen if she knew your religion?

God only knows.

So, the religion thing doesn't get in the way at all between you two?

I am all but certain Sette does not realise I am Ssaelit, and I have no intention of bringing it to light.

I'm not mucking with your mind! It's truly nothing I would be surprised at. Did you not know that the Sharte King oft entertains my father in his queenly gowns?

"...aye? I heard tell once that his Majesty's a poofter and spends all his days queerin' about with other poofters while the Chancellor and navymen and gen'rals run the big government-gang, but I didn't think it were accurate. But wait, if your da's a poofter, how'd you get here? Did ya come out his backside? Dwayne, can two blokes make a-"

I am not here.

Sette, is it true you could steal the knickers off a priest and be a mile away before he even realized? Duane, is it true that you crave BRAAAAAAINNS?

"These things is both true."

Sette, has the plat boy's summation of what pymary is changed the way you think of spellery? Can you think of more uses for it now? Care to share?

"Pymary smells and ain't for Frummagems and I got no interest in it no matter what some runt whitehead says! I think he was wrong all the same; he had some fancy words for the khert but the khert ain't all that. The khert is where ya go when ya die! Right, Dwayne?"

I am not starting this conversation with you.

Duane, how awful would it be if after returning to New Tawhoque the Eye of Redemption found out that you're Ssaelit and in their area of influence?

It would be a dangerous turn for me. The Eye is no friend to my people. I know not one man of theirs who can match my spellwork however, so I believe I could make my escape. Yet, starting over elsewhere would be terribly disheartening; I have grown fond of New Tawhoque.

Duane, what would your reaction be to waking up in a dress and, possibly, cosmetics? Sette, depending on his answer, I think you know what needs to be done. I'll give you a pie in a pure gold pan and a new set of lockpicks and knives.

You realise these queries first pass through me, do you not? Get thee gone ere I fetch your mother.

Sette, have you told Duane that wright duels smell like hostile farting? I think it's important he have that mental image next time he goes to battle.

"Dwayne IS a hostile fart."

What? What have I done?

Sette, do you think you could make a pretty penny using Matty who seems to blindly trust you, and who you could probably trick into helping you con/rob people? No one would suspect him and all who laid eyes on him would pity him greatly if he was crying.

"A fine notion. You might have some Frummagem blood in ya."

Sette, it would not surprise me to see my "da in a dress knockin' back shots've applejack with the King of Sharteshane." Why, did you think it would?

"...don't muck with me mind."

Sette, of all of the things you can smell so well, what is your favorite scent?

"The ocean! And goat pie."

Duane and Sette: do you have a favorite word, either one you just enjoy using or that you like the sound of? I like to think that favorite words can say a lot about people.

"Balls. It is a good word. Dwayne's still thinkin', it could take him days t'pick just one."

Duane, do you ever get into theological debates of any sort with your toothy companion?

What is there to debate?

So, what do you both think of that dusky peaceguard captain what's been hounding you?

We keep meeting under unfortunate circumstances. I imagine we will come to blows when next we encounter each other.

"I like his hound, it's pretty."

If your father was a strict employer that pushed you to increase your skills, Duane, what was your mother like?

She was a fine woman and a good mother, loving but firm. She died when I was eleven and my father was not the same afterwards. I never once saw him take interest in another woman.

Duane, did you ever have to pull all-nighters when you were studying? How did you deal with it the next day? Sette, same question, since I know you know I know you don't get as much sleep as Duane thinks you do.

Copious carafes of coffee. "Cramming" is not advised for students of the arts, however, for a keen eye, a sharp wit, and acute concentration are as necessary when sitting exams as any memorized spells. You will sabotage yourself if you do not sleep! Ahh, but of course one should never ignore a maiden, a rival, a colour show or a revival, so schoolwork cannot always be the priority a young man ought to make it.

"Ya played hooky to buss girls?"

To kiss them? Heavens, no! To make them wish that I was..? Perhaps. What is this intimation that you are not sleeping sufficiently? Is this the cause of your bile?

"All these persons is mad, Dwayne, ya can't believe nawt they say."

Sette, I direct my previous question to Duane to you. What do you think of the First Material shortage?

"Fff, who gives a flyin' dog."

Sette, what's your plan for taking Stockyard down a peg? He's probably bigger than you, and even if he doesn't have an attack zombie, I bet he's canny. Maybe he's even got wrights of his own. What will you do if he doesn't just hand over his jukrum?

"I got a Aldish warrior attack zombie galit wright! I ain't afraid've Stockyard. Me and Duane'll get the drop on him at dawn when me zombie's sharpest, and I might have t'burn his whole ken down if he don't heed me. I hope we do have to! It'll give me name more renown and frightfulness than me only gettin' some lucre off him. I ain't afraid've Stockyard!"

Duane, if First Materials were only created at the dawn of time and cannot be reused, surely they will eventually run out. Even now, I hear, artificers are running short on stock. Are you worried about this?

I am. First Material shortages will cause man to resort to more extreme methods of changing his environment and generating power. Already it happens among the kussen of Alderode, who are tapped like syrup trees for every possible ounce of energy. Surely methods of recycling First Materials or even generating them anew should be investigated, but these efforts are ever stymied by the stubborn Copper, blinded by easier centuries, comforted by few tomorrows, who prefer the easier path and little understand the concerns of the Window and wrights. It will come to a head one day and someone will have to give.

Duane, do Golds such as yourself have special pymary abilities like the other castes? If so, what are they.

What is special about the Soud is that we are not special at all. We are not bound by the Dammakhert in the manner of the other sultet. In pursuit of pymary some of us are simpletons and some of us sublime.

Duane, what would you do if you encountered a Crescian who was genuinely noble, selfless, and honorable?

I have encountered a few. I struck at them, and they struck at me. I tell you the character of a Crescian is of little concern; they are damned regardless by allegiance to their Crown, and it is a mercy to cut them down and allow them the opportunity to follow a wiser path in another life.

Duane, we heard that if the RBB get arrested Matty will get hung or go to prison forever D: Would you rescue him or leave him to rot?

In truth, I do not know. My heart sings of a gallant rescue but my wits intrude, and I wonder what future the boy could possibly have away from his ghers and country. I would in the end, I suspect, relinquish the decision to prayer and ask my Lord for insight.

Sette, do you want to keep Duane in your employ after you settle things with Stockyard? Seems like he'd make a pretty good bodyguard for the Thief Queen of Sharteshane.

"I agree! He says he's got no interest in it but I'ma win him over with promises of meat and books and things."

Sette, what would you say if I told you I've seen lions. Real, live lions, doing normal lion things?

"Fuh, what wouldja say if I toldja I seen your da in a dress knockin' back shots've applejack with the King of Sharteshane?"

Duane, how is your handwriting? Are you interested in fancy calligraphy? Has your handwriting deteriorated due to your current 'state'?

I like to leave the boasting to Sette, but my handwriting is exceptionally fine. My father was a printer and at a young age I was made his apprentice, tasked with writing out bills of sale, quotes, and receipts. He was a man of high expectations and impeccable standards, my father, and would accept little less than perfection from my script.

Continuing that perfection has become an interesting challenge these last few years, but careful maintenance of my hands helps enormously. I have never had a customer complain, in any case.

Sette, is it painful when people pull on your tail? It's part of your spine, isn't it?

"It is! And it hurts! But it hurts them most when I bite their face for doin' it. You lookin' at me tail? You thinkin' of bein' a hero? I'm watchin' you."

Duane, after you murder poor Matty's daddy, what will you do with the kid?

I intend to murder no one.

Sette, does your father ever involve himself in more legitimate enterprise if he believes that it'll bring him profit?

"Aye, we got a brothel and a public house and they turn over good profit."

Duane, what would be your honest assessment of the pymaric skill and tactical acumen of the wright you just dueled with? How challenging was that duel, compared to others you've partaken in over the course of your existence?

He was all flash and artifacts. Truthfully I cannot properly gauge if there was much of substance beneath it. Stripped of his gruftgramary and his pymarics, forced to comply with the rules of engagement, his only asset would have been his God-given khert stability but had he the clarity of mind to make use of it? I do not know.

It was difficult. My legs pained me, the children were a distraction, and the Plat's blatant treachery inspired a distracting ire. The pressure blast was decisive but it was dangerous and sloppy. I may have won the engagement but there was no honourable thing present in that duel, and I shan't crow over my victory.

I was asked the other day which country I'd like to visit. I was going to answer Alderode then wondered if I would be mistaken for a Gold. Would that be a good thing or a bad thing for a tourist?

Alderode rejects international tourism. It is a land loathe to open its interior to the corrupting influence of the southern royalists and Crescian tyrants. You would be turned away at the border, sir.

Duane, do you think that the silver and gold question that was asked was to tease you?


Sette, if you thought Duane was losing the duel to that white-haired four-eyed snob, why didn’t you threaten to shiv the blind brat to get his dad do what you want? Surely a cold-blooded killer such as you would have no problems making good on the threat.

"Ya put me in mind've Bodkin. Only, Da cuffs him 'cross the gob when he prates on with his blood-fouled tongue. Da says ya spill blood, you're gonna tread in blood, and you're gonna track that blood everywhere ya walk. Asides, Yerta rewards a person as follows the Law. Me and Duane 'vadin' that crypt ended poorly 'cause it's against her Law to disturb the dead. Later I kept Dwayne from killin' the guard in the wood and I met with fantastic fortunes in the city! Against the Plats, we fought courteous and square and escaped even the law and that stoopendous construct! The Twins is watchin' always, and a clever cove trusts in 'em."

You DO have a sense of morality! It is twisted and malformed, but it does thrive!

"Course I got morals! Pig-stoopidity like yours and Bodkins' is why the whole world needs a dictator like me to conquer it and make it a more better place."

Sette, where do you like it more – back home with your wise and interesting Da, or on the road with your loyal and vicious attack zombie?

"Home with Da!"

Are either of you familiar with a beast known as the kedis?

"Kedises is just kedises. They're nawt extra-ordinary."

They do not like me.

"No animals like you, you're a monster thing."

Would you blunt for me that poignard 'twixt your teeth were I more a man than a monster?

"I doubt it. You'd still be Dwayne."

Duane, what will you do with yourself once you've vanquished the RBB and escorted Sette to her destination (assuming you can't escort her to decency along the way)? Surely you can't just go back to writing legal copy and letters to aunties after all this.

Why can I not do precisely that? There is a deep satisfaction in a day's honest work; to take parchment and ink and quill and make of them something for which men will pay good coin. Scrivening puts a roof over my head and a distraction at my fingertips. When this Frummagem nonsense is dealt with I shall return to it, and you may call upon D. Adelier at Criseyde Way should you have need of a document duplicated or a letter read or written.

Duane, what do you think of the nickname Duane-face?

Would it not tax your tongue less to lose the "face" and restrict my name to Duane?

Sette, if someone paid you sufficient amounts of sem to make school worthwhile, which subject would you most want to study? Duane, what subject do you think Sette might take an interest in outside of basic reading?

"Betimes Da talks cross of thievin' and burglin' and goes on of the fancier rogueries in Court among the politickers. He says he ain't clever enough for it and ain't got proper connections, but if that could be learned in school I'd learn it for him and then go to Court and make the Frummagems famouser in a noble way. I think it's about stabbin' the King mainly, aye?"

Mainly. Sette is already a marvellous hand at sums; she's added numbers in her head that would have given me pause. I suspect she would enjoy higher maths.

Sette, do Duane's arms feel like two long, hard poles or do his bandages help to cushion them?

"The bandages is helpful. When he's wrapped up proper he's comfortable as a good chair, but too cool for cuddlin'."

Duane, you've mentioned that you enjoy creating glamours. Did you ever use any purely for fashion in your previous life? Like, say, to dress up for a night at the opera?

Indeed not, that is a faux pas in most circles. A foolish custom, but it was seldom worth protesting. I will admit that I changed the shape of my nose twice or thrice while courting, and more than once sang away the shadow of a day of lapsed shaving.

"Did ya have a big nose afore it fell off?"

Some said so.

Duane, what did you think of Matty (the Plat kid)?

I should like to know where his mother is.

Duane...aren't you, ah, asleep right now?

I am well rested and equitable this morn. I cannot say the same for Sette, she appears to have awakened in a temper.

Your tail's not a lion's, Sette! Lions are dumb brutes, good for nothing but using force to steal the work of cleverer hunters and roaring. Yours is a donkey's: everyone misjudges you when you're far smarter than they, and you pack a mean kick and bite!

"Lions are better'n you are. If they were still about they'd likely eat all your babies and pets and poo in your garden."

Sette, what did you do to Ephsephin?

"Nawt you can prove me guilty of in a court've justice!"

Ephsephin was the brutish fellow in the unfortunate hat. You introduced him to asymmetry and infection, I should say.

"Ooohhhh, that one. He tugged on me tail like a handbrake when you was playin' with the Plat's bugs. I had to bite his face to defend me dignity and rearmost property! He won't die; no reason t'get worked up."

Sette, how awesome would it be if you suddenly gained the power to be able to go into a dark coat closet somewhere and rub together a gold and silver piece to make them reproduce? Just need to be careful not to get caught, since that would be illegal.

"You're a queer sort, don't talk t'me 'less it's to gimme money."

Sette, what did you think of Duane's mountain punch?

"It were serviceable. Of course he'd have to be a good spellwright or Da wouldn't've chosen him to be me flesh-protector. I got no worries for when we meet Stockyard, he's gonna piss himself!"

Sette, what is the silliest thing you've seen Duane do?

"Sometimes he sings in that other tongue he knows. It's the most awful noise, like a hound sickin' up its own half-alive puppies after it ate 'em in a fit of madness."

You know, Sette, I wonder if you might have some lion in you - it would certainly explain the tail! But domestic cats, which are related to lions, have sensitive noses and have long been thought to be perceptive of magic. You can smell pymary, right?

"I can smell pymary and everythin' else as well! Da says it's like me tail's off a rat or a sickly hound, but I always thought it were lionish. I got other lionish qualities like nobility and pridefulness and a powerful leap and a fierce bite and the cleverness of seventeen cat brains. Not like no rat nor awt else so low t'the earth. I'm a lion!"

Sette, since you lived in a town and have now spent time in the wild countryside, which do you think you prefer?

"Town is best. Deer got no pockets."

Duane, how would you feel if sometime in the probably not too far future Gefendurs for whatever reason took over Alderode and people were no longer allowed to freely be Ssaelit?

I would feel naught for they would have had to slay me in the doing of it.

Duane-face, do you sometimes find it comical how you seem to quite frequently have bad things happen to you like getting blown off a cliff and then having a bird trying to fly away with part of you?

From a distance, there is little difference apparent between the fatal cramp and stumble of a condition of the heart, and a harlequin's pratfall. So, too, does hindsight transform the tragical to the comical once a span of time has blunted a fresh sting. Allow some temporal distance and I'm certain I'll find the cliffside affair amusing; presently however, I still all but feel the fowls flapping in my face.

Duane, do you ever think that you might have angered Ssael in order to warrant receiving... well, Sette?

I am afraid you confuse Ssael for one of the primitive, petty gods of the Gefendur.

I am curious. Given that, as far as you know, you are the only Galit, what makes you think it is impossible for you to be made whole again?

I do not understand your question.

What's the wheather like back home, Sette?

"The days was shortenin' and it were nippin' at night; soon it'll be bleedin' feet weather."

Oi! Sette! Ever considered Piracy as a job? Could be a big job! I mean, the entire continent is surrounded by water, and your ship could be on water, so you could essentially have the entire continent surrounded and at your mercy!


Falomabi! Vliegeng hhrashotemun da nall!

Ssha llachom efhom nil, tim tookim basimen retit Tairet yoninSette.

Sette, do you think Matty (the cute little Aldish boy with the pymaric) would make a good boyfriend?

"If ya think he's cute you should suck his face yourself, cobgobbler."

Duane, are you aware of any other forms of spellcasting other than pymary, such as shamanism? Perhaps a different language of power, like dragonic or some form of Dark Speech? Are there any animals you know of that are capable of a natural form of pymary?

Years past I read an interesting paper detailing what is known among men of the arcane practises of the lizardfolk; those two-toed reptiles of the south. Since coming to the south myself I have yet to witness anything more extraordinary from them than sullen glances and general mistrust. If it is true that they practise a form of reptilian pymary it is hitherto a mystery to our kind.

Hey Sette, what's the coolest thing you've ever stolen?

"Dwayne's heart. I reckon if I stuck me hand through his ribs and got a hold've it, it's cool as a miner's dinner plate."

You've not yet stolen my heart, Sette; only leased it a while. I begin to suspect 'cool' is some manner of slang among these persons.

"These persons is dim as dogs."

Duane, would it be possible to return yourself to a normal human state or is your currently undead form permanent?

I assure you: had I another option I would take it.

If I wanted a hug, would you give me one? ):


She will pinch your wallet.

Sette, you can smell pymary, sure, but can you taste it?

"Ya ever got a snout full've somethin' so putrefacted that it were still in your gob when ya smacked your lips about? Some pymary is so strong s'like that, but generally naw, smellin' ain't exactly like tastin'."

Sette, you've commented frequently that 'dwayne wants to hugboys' Presumably this is based on a wish to irritate, rather than observation of Sir Adelier's activities, but I am curious: are liaisons between those of the same sex taboo in parts of Kasslyne?

"Lieee... aaa... zins. Lie-aisins. Are them raisins that lie? I dunno what you mean but Duane says you're prolly goin' to the Hells but everyone says I'm goin' there too so it'll be excitin' and full've grand happenings!"

Duane, as an uneducated young man in the ways of the Khert, I do apologize if these questions are silly or nonsensical, but one must ask to learn, so while speaking to the khert, does the khert ever refuse to cooperate with a wright or, talk back?

For all of its wisdom, in ways the khert is very much like a child, literal in its interpretation and fulfillment of requests. For this reason the language one uses in addressing it must be clear, must be logical, and must be concise. The khert respects the wright that respects the khert, but above even him the khert places the sanctity of reality's core laws, reacting with swift brutality against any pymary that would attempt to subvert those laws.

When I was no more than fifteen, I saw a boy only a year older than myself learn what it was to become a component out of place in the vast mechanism of this reality. We were to melt stone in precise patterns, applying the Liquid aspect in a pail of water to sections of courtyard our master had measured out the night before. It had rained that morning, however, and water had seeped into the ground beneath the pavement, pooling beneath the stones where my schoolmate was working. When his enchantment reached a certain depth, he unwittingly attempted to apply liquid to liquid, and the khert balked. The spell ricocheted, and his right palm burst like a squashed grape.

To this day I do not relish working with liquid aspect.

I apologize for my compatriot, lecturing you on the meaning of phrases in our own culture is rather insensitive of yours. Also, I'd be quite interested if you could lay out examples of men's and women's work.

This preoccupation among you all I cannot understand, but let me satisfy it for good and all: it is the duty of men to fight and to defend. It is the duty of women to provide men what it is they fight for.

Duane, can you explain the khert in a way even a simpleton can understand?

As I have often been sent simpletons to transform into competent fieldwrights, this has become a specialty of mine.

Think of our world as a living entity, containing within it all systems we associate with living entities: flesh, mind, soul, skeleton, heart, and arteries. Know then that what we see with our eyes is but the exterior flesh of Creation, called Aspects, and the great Khert is the mind and skeleton lying beneath our immediate discernment.

Like a skeleton, the khert is the core frame upon which visible reality is draped. Like the mind, the khert categorizes and maintains, holding within it all laws that govern the interaction of Aspects. The khert is the great Caretaker of the world's flesh, suturing wounds, mending burns.

We ourselves are part of the flesh of this world, and so we too are beholden to the khert, subject to its custodianship. However, we are not only a part of, but also microcosms of our world, containing with us laws unique to humans - laws we must embrace always lest we be forever subservient to the base laws of the khert. Only by detaching from the khert and passing through it to the Outside are we able to transcend this world and know the fullness of human law.

Hey Duane -- since you've found yourself, um, re-animated, has your connection to the khert been altered at all? Is it a stronger connection, weaker, or about the same?

I have begun to think it curiously stronger. Yet is it truly? Or have I in my idleness only further mastered my craft?

I hail from a land where the women routinely wear trousers, heavy work-boots, and hats, not unlike the women of the Crescian peaceguard. I admit, I'm quite curious to know: what would an Aldish goodwife or maiden think of such fashions? Are theirs alike?

If this is your concern you must find an Aldishwoman to interrogate; ladies fashions have never concerned me overmuch. I do know that good northern women shun trousers, seeing them as indelicate and Crescian. I personally would prefer them to a number of the skirts I have seen on the guildmaesters' wives come show season; they require three feet of clearance in every direction and catch toddlers in their crinoline like flies in netting.

Duane, your diction is simply delightful. Do you have any favorite words, in any language?

Leysa. Mikaila. Simon. Lemuel.

Duane, I wish to become a wright. What do you have to say to this?

Any man of stout heart, keen intellect, and strong faith can learn the Arts and learn them well. If you would train with me however, you had best prepare yourself to bleed.

Dear Duane, welcome back. When you were alive, did you ever go out to sea? Was it distressing, being cut off from the Khert?

I have never had the misfortune of marine service but living my life in coastal Durlyne, I have known many sailors.They've long assured me it is indeed a terrible phenomenon to leave the embrace of the Dammakhert. We Aldish are connected to the land in a way foreigners cannot understand, and to lose that connection is like losing the function of one's eyes or ears. The thought does raise gooseflesh.

I noticed Sette answers quite a number of things with insults/rhetorical questions, both here and on her adventures. Duane, do you think certain influences could cure her?

Mayhap the influence of a strap to the backside.

Does the name "Uaid" have any meaning to you?

Uaid is a common hound's name. This is little known but it is the Old Tainish word for "tortoise." There was once a superstition that calling a hound "Uaid" would assign it a tortoise's passive disposition, making for a more obedient pack or farm animal.

Duane, did you know a certain Blondo McWhoopass back when you were still alive?

The name is not familiar to me.

Make Dwaine do a silly dance!!!

Let us have no more of this.

Duane, a reliable source told me that your hair used to be pink and smell faintly of shortbread. Is this true?

You must not eat from the lead plates. They do no good things to your sanity.

So. Duane. What was you're like when you were alive? Afro? Mullet? ...Bowl cut?

A strange query. My hair was cropped close once a month and then forgotten. When I was younger I favoured a beard but many did make sport of it, and I put it to the knife one morning in a fit of temper.

Duane: if you bit someone, would they turn into a zombie?

Of course not.

Duane, I believe there is a sort of mutual culture shock happening here. Where we are from women worked for a very long time to have the same rights and same opportunities as men do. We see the terms "Women's work" and "Men's work" as offensive.

With all respect, sir, I am under no obligation to mind your sensibilities.

Which of you is the 'smart one'?

Easily could I tell you which would be the -smarting- one were I a less patient man.

Duane, does Sette remind you of anyone?

She reminds me of a toad.
It's probably been asked before, but Duane: What was your occupation before your death and subsequential undeath?

I was a servant of the Ssaelit Temple of Song in Durlyne, westernmost ginnal of Alderode. I stood counsel to his Eminence, trained his wrights, policed and aided the community, and sometimes ventured across the country in pursuit of criminals, heretics, and spies.

Duane, before you began your travels with Sette, how frequently did you find it difficult to resolve differences through rational discourse?

Discourse is appropriate until the point civility gives way to insults, and then a ready fist must serve as a gentleman's closing statement.

Sette, if you give Duane the keyboard, I will give you the pies.

I must apologise, fervently, from the depths of my being. So engrossed was I in the satisfaction of your curiosity that the night did steal upon me like a beast on velvet paws, and I lost my senses. The soul of indelicacy, of indecency, of scandal, Sette took advantage of my state to put such things to pen via my eyes and my hands I cannot begin to express my indignation! But a fraction made their way to you but I say these words of hers were hair-raising.

I have but little time remaining to field these many inquiries, but rest assured we shan't be interrupted again by Miss Frummagem's antics. She SHALL NOT have any pie.

Sette, give Duane his keyboard back.

Seeing the oddity of the last question of mine answered, I'm guessing either Ashley was hacked or Sette is answering for Duane, because... that's just not right.

whys it called pymary theres no pies in

do you have the pies

Duane, did you ever submit theory for a spell or spells that were composed? Are you rewarded for a contribution to such a thing?

why do you care doesn't any one loveyou


go have fun and start a fight

Sette, do you like opera?

fat and hugs boys

Is traveling lonely?

your fat too

Sette, where's the furthest you've been from home before this journey started?

are you veryfat
fat people wonder about that

I wonder if the good Sir Adelier could regale us with a tale or two of derring-do from his soldiering days? I'm sure he has many.

dwayne hugs all

the boys

Our world appears to be doomed, with looming disasters for humans related to changing weather and overtaxed resources. What is your world's stance on immigration? Are there any countries that are open to it?

dwayne likes to dance and hugboys

Daune seems a little frayed over troublesome questions... If it isn't too unpleasant, Duane, have you ever published a book of your own?

no im stupid no one wants to listen to me ta

lk or write and

cant smell

Question for both, of all of your travels, both together and before, what is the most terrifying individual or creature you've seen, and the most glorious or beautiful individual or creature you've seen?


I cannot reply properly, she won't stop shrieking. God's Beard, girl, I'm warning yoasdawekl


Sette, what do you use money for if you steal everything you want anyways?

"Did ya know the zombie can't smell? And neither can that other bloke! Are you the same bloke?! AAHH!"

Sette, as somebody who can't smell, I am in awe of your awesome nose. Duane, on the topic, do you know of any pymary that would help blind/deaf/anosmic/etc. people?

"Whaaaa, you can't smell AT ALL? That's the most horrible thing! You should kill yourself maybe, it's not natural and probably the gods hate you!"

SETTE. Sir, I understand your plight. I can neither smell nor taste and it does make for a grey existence.

"You can't smell either? FREAKS FREAKS FREAKS. AAAAAH!"

The Khert knows not the kussen? Are they not people? how does that work?

The kussen are those removed from the khert and from Aldish society. It is not wise to speak overmuch of them.

Are there any elephants in Kasslyne, or did the stupid Gefendur wipe them out too?

The word is unfamiliar to me.

Duane, have you heard about your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

He is no lord nor saviour of mine.

Sette, what's /your/ theory as to why pymary doesn't work over water?

"Me theory is that I don't care even a little."

But if the khert is repelled by water, how is there life in the ocean? Life requires the khert to function, correct?

The ocean is considered fhundaet-ghal by Ssaelit - an unholy place. Like the soul of a man, the shore between land and sea is a battleground where the dark, cold erosion of spume and current beats again and again at the steadfast, sun-warmed sand. The Hells lie crushed at the ocean's deepest levels; Hells of smit sinners and flashing fang and a cold so bitter it breaks the bones it freezes. Like the kussen, the khert knows it not.

Something indeed sustains the ocean's cold lives but it is something anathema to mortals. Beware sounding that profundity.

What sort of things belong to men and what sort of things are women's jobs?

What colour glows the sky on a clear day? Why do you ask these senseless questions?

Duane, have you ever wondered as to why the khert only responds to Tainish? If so, have you reached any theories or conclusions?

There is little to wonder at. Old Tainish was the language used by the gods to sing the world into being. It is the language this world understands and responds to. I might order Sette in Tainish to remove her finger from her nose but, ignorant of the language, she would not comprehend the command and hence could not follow it.

"Wouldn't anyway. Cor, lookit the size of this'n."

Duane, given your fighting and pymaric talents it seems almost a waste to spend your time as a scribe in a remote town. Having traveled with Sette for a while, do you think you might enjoy taking up the life of a roving defender of the helpless instead?

I would point out that this seems to be precisely what is happening. Amusing, is it not, that a rogue like Sette should lead me towards so many opportunities to do good. Let us pray these "Red Berry Boys" reveal themselves soon and allow this trend to continue.

If Cara wasn't Aldish, would you have been so eager to help her?

Were you at hand, I would break your jaw.

Duane, what's your theory for why pymary doesn't work over large bodies of water?

Water is the cradle of chaos, where stagnates the poisoned blood of this world. The sacred khert is repelled by it.

Sette, is there anything you take offense at, other than a dagger in the back or the ignorance of others?

"I wouldn't take no offence at a dagger in the back. That's a proper thing for any rogue t'do! I don't like when coves disrespect me Da. He's lord've the town and boss've the ken and he deserves to be treated like it! Don't no one speak ill of Da when I'm about."

Why did they kill all the lions? ):

They were killed because the burgeoning Ssaelit faith had taken them as their symbols. Killing the lions was done to frighten and repress my ancestors. The tactic was not successful.

Have you heard of a woman named Ashley Cope?

What are you playing at? "Ashley" is a man's name!

Duane, would you say women and men have separate spheres? Are some things men's work and some things women's work?

That is obvious.

Sir Adelier, these uncertain times find me eager to perfect my hand in battle pymary and I am thrilled to get advice by such an accomplished tutor as yourself. Pray, what would be the wisest reaction if I find myself muted by a body of water?

When one's pymary is stifled one is then reliant upon the physical. Water is treacherously dense and though you may not see it about you it can drown you all the same. Begin with the obvious: remove yourself from the offending liquid! Are you restrained and unable to move? What is restraining you? Mortal hands? Crook an elbow behind you and wind them, or crook your heel into their privates. Can you reach your dagger? Use it! Are you stronger than your foe? Ground a foot and push the both of you backwards and out of the damping field. Whatever technique avails you keep always at the forefront of your mind a ready spell, so you may cast the instant your voice is again available.

Does some Aspect pin you to the ground? The weight of a stone? Has the dimensional border of the very earth been shifted and left you embedded in the pavement? This latter technique is a favourite of mine, and devastating. It is best not to fall into this situation at all. Run a merry dance with your foeman and do not remain standing on one piece of ground long enough for it to be swept from under you!

Hey, Sette, d'you run cons? Or d'you prefer hands-on work like picking pockets and the like?

"I gotta potionry con I run at home when it gets cold and everyone's sloggin' about with the lurgies. Some potions work good - me granny brews 'em - others is only piss and jam and seawater, ha ha!"

Duane, is it possible for one to use an item's aspect on itself? For example, could a falling caster use their own momentum to propel themselves upward again?

Absolutely. This is an elementary technique, and one reason why a canny fellow will know better than to attempt to knock a seasoned wright from a cliff. Of course, complications can arise.

Momentum is an intriguing Aspect, endlessly useful. It can be reversed, it can be slowed, it can be directed. Wrights cannot fly of course, however

"Ya can fall with style!"

That is a catchy wee phrase I must say.

Duane, I'm awfully curious as to what your accent sounds like. Do you think you or Sette could describe it for me? How is it in relation to other accents?

"Dwayne speaks ev'ry word so clear and proper, like every sentence is a dead body and he's dissectin' it and layin' its insides out tidy on a slab. He makes his rrrrr's rolly and his th's like duh duh duh's. Ya know he's Aldish right off."

That's right. The problem is that I speak properly and you speak as if gargling acorns.

"Oh! Oh! Oh! There was that time ya couldn't get the word 'thoughtless' out and was spittin' everywhere like a hungry lizard."

You had just hit me in the face with a chunk of fire wood! You split my tongue!

"It were so nice the quiet afterwards."

We've seen Sette some 30 feet up in a tree... Duane, can you climb well?

With sufficient time and concentration, I can. I would rather conjure a skystone lift however - less dangerous and the only way I might keep pace with Sette.

Sette, sausage pie, yea, or nay?

"A body can buy some've those by the water made outta fish sausage and cabbage. A body can lift 'em, too, when the merch's back is turned. Passin' tasty."

Sette, if you could marry somebody and get globboranious amounts of money, would you? Even if it meant wearing girly frills for a ceremony?

"HMMM. I reckon by the end 'twould be less bother'n other things I've done for a fat skin, so aye. S'not like I can't murder me husband afterwards and sell him off to the plodmen for extra coin. This ain't a bad con at all! I need jubblies first though. Ain't no rich pigeon gonna want me paw in mattermony if I can't get some bumps under me shirt first."

Regarding spoken versus tacit casting, I note you sometimes do speak your spells. Is tacit casting limited in some ways or are you able to do everything you can do with the spoken word?

Ha! Do I sometimes speak the words aloud then? I do not intend it. Perhaps one might compare it to the way we sometimes move our lips when we are reading to ourselves.

I'm guessing a common opening move in a pymary duel must be stealing the opponent's voice or preventing him from speaking otherwise. Has anyone ever tried that on you only to find you don't need to speak?

Only laymen and the most detestable wrights cannot control their own connections to the khert. With these controls in place, direct assaults upon the body in any form are all but impossible. Always it is the environment that is the target of pymary.

You are correct in recognising the vast important of the voice for most wrights. Years ago, when a new caster would enter my company and I would invite him to the circle to engage me and display his mettle, I would make certain there was at hand a barrel of water. His voice could not be silenced directly but he could not make a sound once I had wrapped his head in liquid. Such techniques are the proper course.

"Cor, you was a mean teacher!"

On the contrary; I cared for my fieldwrights too dearly to see them ignorant of all that foemen might inflict.

Duane, if you ever walked over a body of water large enough to stop pymary from working, what would happen to you?

This did occur years ago when floodwaters raised the river Lansuine in Madishane. While crossing an ungrounded footbridge I collapsed, and my senses spilled from me like coins from a fumbled purse. I awoke the next morning washed onto a sandy bank; sodden, befuddled, and sharing my cowl with a fish.

We seem to have come across that Sette like pie and sausages, and Duane doesn't eat anymore. Sette, what would you choose for a perfect meal (including drink)?

"Pie and sausages! Ya answered your own question, moronical."

Could I do pymary with any language? Could I just tell the Khert to make someone explode if I wanted it hard enough?

No. If a man cannot be bothered to learn the language of pymary, I see no reason why pymary should waste its time listening to his suggestions. You must respect the khert! Learning to communicate reverently with it is the first step.

Have you heard of a man named Mathis Quigley?

An Aldish name, but not one familiar to these ears.

(My apologies if this has already been asked; a quick check did not find it.) Duane, what is your favourite aspect of Sette's personality? Sette, what is your favourite aspect of Duane's personality?

She is stubborn. That may not seem a positive trait but I have respect for tenacity and conviction of purpose. Would that she put it towards more altruistic pursuits but perhaps that will come in time.

"Dwayne's a good hand at blowin' things up and also makin' fire. That is a good part of his personability."

Duane, would you be worried if you heard that someone found your journal entries?

I would. They contain sensitive information and could put a great many people for whom I care in danger.

"Everyone'd find out all your crushes too."

Sette, do you write poetry?

"Do you wanna foot in your gob?"

To get away from the gloom: Sette and Duane, what are you favourite colours?

"I like red best, like BLUD and sausages. Duane says he likes green."

Sette, how d'you know the word "prehensile"?

"Ya stuck up enough t'think you're the first ever asked if I got a prehensile tail?"

Duane, do you ever find it ironic that wrights rely on a khert that is healthy and whole, whereas the khert works to undo all pymary?

Ha, indeed! You mustn't think the khert a malevolent foe however. It is the lawgiver and caretaker of all you see, and nanny to a nursery of precocious spellsingers. It exists to put our toys away after we have finished our play, and we must respect it and protect it above even ourselves.

What's the difference between conversational Tainish and the kind used for pymary?

Old Tainish is a melange of irregular verb conjugations. Every tense includes variations to denote intensity of feeling. There are three vowel sounds that were eradicated in reformed Tainish, and thousands of nouns used in the composition of spells, often to refer specifically to dead materials as opposed to living. In addition to the personal, casual, and formal forms in Tainish, in Old Tainish there is the sacred form, a collection of honourifics, articles, and conjugations used only when speaking directly to the khert - or to God.

Sette, the things that come out of your mouth amaze me. I'm hardly the most polite person in the world, but I'm pretty sure you'd swear circles around me. Do you have a favorite insult? (Sorry, Duane, I probably shouldn't encourage her, but...)

She is swearing a blue streak for your benefit but I cannot in good conscience transcribe any of it. Various bodily secretions are involved.

Duane, does it hurt when Sette bites your fingers off?

In a manner of speaking. It is not like the pain I remember feeling as a living man, but rather a tingling, ice-crystal grinding; the sensation of biting on a knife. It is not terrible but neither is it pleasant. If you wish me to describe it more intricately than that, I fear I cannot. It sounds as ludicrous and as improbable to me as I am certain it does to you.

Given that you have hounds quite similar to those kept as pets where I live (albeit much larger), I'm curious: do you have cats too? How big are they? If you're not familiar, they're... kind of like if Sette was smaller, furry, and had claws.

"I know cats! I seen 'em in faerie stories, but they're all gone now. They were big as hounds with great wiggy fur all 'round their faces and teeth like steak knives!"

Indeed they've long since left this continent, though I have heard tell from sailors that the great cats still exist elsewhere in the world. Once great cats called "lions" were common on the Madishanian plains but Gefendur warriors hunted them to extinction long ago.

Duane, do you own anything of monetary value that Sette doesn't know about, yet?

I own little of worth save for the journals I have kept over these past six years. How foolish to horde or assign excessive value to any physical items when I cannot hang on to even my own flesh.

If your tail isn't prehensile, then I imagine it's just a liability when you're trying to be stealthy. It must also make you easy to track down.

"Aye, s'why I tie it to me leg most times."

Sette, what do you think of your tail? Do you like it, do you wish you didn't have it, or are you ambivalent?

"Hell if I know. It's me tail! What d'you think of your left foot?"

Duane, could you try to get Sette to make a poem for us?

I am of no temperament to be bit tonight, thank you.

Dear Duane, for a living I sort "charitable donations" - trash people dump for free and receive tax discounts for doing so. My hands get cut up in glass, metal, and the occasional human waste. Can you teach me how to dress my hands as neatly as you do?

A laudable occupation but do better mind yourself. Sturdy leather gauntlets might be the solution to your troubles.

Yo Sette, what's the largest bounty that's ever been placed on your head?

"I ain't never had a bounty! I had the guard hot for me afore but never enough t'back it with sem. Soon I'll be the most famous rogue in the world and Da won't have any choice but t'put me in charge've family affairs."

Duane, can you teach me a bit of the Aldish language?

Certainly. To begin with, it is properly called "Tainish." Less than half of Alderode uses this tongue. To call it "Aldish" is misleading when the majority of my countrymen do not understand the language at all.

Sette, is your tale prehensile?


Duane, you've answered two of my riddles which got me wondering if you enjoy the reading or writing of wriddles?

They do not vex me in the manner the majority of these inquiries do. My thanks to you for the engaging diversions.

Abortion: Yea or nay?

This subject is for women and does not concern me.

Sette! What's the worst thing you've heard Duane say?

"He called his left hand summat dreadful once when it wouldn't go back on his wrist. He's still a poor hand at cussin' tho'. Da would swab the deck with him."

Do duels happen in Kasslyne, either as part of warfare or to resolve common disputes in daily life? And if they do have you ever fought one?

I know not the customs without Alderode but an Aldish gentleman will easily have fought a dozen duels before his twenty-first year. They are rarely fatal but to find yourself on the ground with a foeman's foot upon your throat is a disgrace not easily lived down.

"Dwayne, you ever lost a duel?"

Absolutely not when pymary was the weapon of choice.

"What about when it was other weapons?"

Would you care to duel me, my Lady?


Have the Ilganyag's work never been adopted into Vits-approved spellery?

I am neither a Composer nor a Consul. I do not know.

Do you ever think what life must be like for the people living in Fachlyne?

My heart aches for them. The plague is a senseless, wretched horror that I would suffer any torment to eradicate.

Duane, you come across as much more militant here than you have done in what we've seen of your adventures. Would you describe yourself as an angry or violent sort?

My temperament does curdle when a crowd of strangers incessantly demand the details of all that is most dear, most painful, and most repugnant to me.

Duane, if you woke up one day and you were alive again, what would you do?

No good is done by indulging in such idle fancies.

Duane, do you have a favorite saying?

Yaem idanesocha, aneki nnama idamilaen. Reedoihuchik idamodüdilaen, maeshomun mak renit tesswe treenha.

"Stormy morn, sweet winds by eventide. Blizzards at the witching hour thawed to spring by dawn." No misfortune lasts an eternity. Given time, storms, flames, and mortal suffering all run their course, and up comes the sun.

Hey, remember that war story where the Crescians burst into flames as they fell and lit up your garrison (thank goodness the tanks were loaded)? Do Crescians have some kind of self-destruct enchantment upon death or something?

Only spite. Upon realising their cause was lost that day, the Crescian wrights thought to light their own pyres. They conjured fire with their dying breaths.

A whole ginnal, just for the victims of the plague?

Aye, this was Vits' solution. Fachlyne is where the plague first appeared.

Sette, what was you're reaction when this: "...Betimes I do lay down a verse or two when of a romantic temperament during a quiet noon... " was said?

"Duane wants to hug boys."

Have you dealt directly with the Ilganyag, Duane? How frequently?

I once crushed an Ilganyag's head between the pavement and the compounded momentum of five swung fists. More direct than that, no.


How widespread is the Weeping Plague? Do different settlements have a way of quarantining the disease?

Six years ago the illness was confined to Fachlyne ginnal. Policy bade us round up and confine to Fachlyne any infected we were unfortunate enough to find. Whether or not this continues to be the situation, I cannot begin to guess.

Duane, What's the deal with you and animals?

"Duane won't say but it's for him bein' a plod. Animals never like plods, everyone knows that."

Duane, how did you become "Sir" Adelier, and what were your duties at the Temple of Song?

How I won the post is too long a tale, but once I was seventh in line to Ssael's chosen leader of the Durlynian sect. More importantly I commanded and trained the wrights of his army, spoke to the privileged prophesy as revealed to my Lord, and enforced order in Durlyne and Sisters' Sound. They were duties performed by another man it seems now; it was armour too unwieldy, too large for what I have become. This brittle frame would snap beneath it.

Do you need to know Tainish if you can tacit cast? Maybe Sette can tacit cast! Wouldn't that be fun?

"Hrmm, I just tried it. He didn't blow up."

Duane, do you write poetry?

Betimes I do lay down a verse or two when of a romantic temperament during a quiet noon. They are no good but I've ruined many a square of parchment with them regardless.

About that heated blade they stuck in your chest: is it still there? Is it some sort of pymaric implant that lets you interface with the khert? Or is the blade thing merely a ritual?

Your tone could benefit from some degree of reverence. The "blade thing" is both symbolic and practical. In truth, any damma inul - Class A First Material - can act as conduit from wright to aspirant, breaking the seal of the aspirant's interface with the khert and allowing bidirectional communication. That a blade is used and that a mark is made is preference, tradition, and a rite of passage. It is a wound only that is left behind; a wound and eventually a scar. Chig. Of course the blade does not remain. To kuralomm Deres.

What do you know of the other continents?

I know little of substance regarding them.

I can't help but notice that your clothing seems to be fairly utilitarian and, well, plain. In other circumstances, would you prefer to dress differently (or more decoratively)? Or is purely practical attire the norm in your land?

"Duane, ya really should find more appealin' toggery. Tho' ya tear through it so fast I reckon that'll only up our expenses."

Duane, I've heard family is very important in Alderode, so I'd love to know more about yours. Do you have any siblings? Do your parents miss you?

I do not wish to discuss this.

Duane, can you swim?

With some difficulty.

Excuse my ignorance, but how are the hounds of Kasslyne fed? In my own land, large carnivores have not been domesticated because of the difficulty of procuring sufficient quantities of meat for them. Will you kindly slake my curiosity?

I have never myself kept a hound but most who do purchase feed from rookeries. I know little of them save they are reportedly the foulest smelling places in existence.

Duane, have you in your travels abroad encountered anything, in any sphere of human endeavour where foreigners are superior to your countrymen and which they would benefit from external influence?

What a lout I must seem, singing incessant paeans to Alderode while knocking down at every turn the institutions of all other lands. In my fervour to serve as fit ambassador I am surely losing your sympathy.

"You're bein' a prat and no mistake."

I apologise. Ulestry is a beautiful country. The unspoilt Westgate range are the most beautiful peaks I've seen, surpassing by far the strip-mined and overhunted horison of Alderode's Gold mountains. The forests and streams seem touched by divinity, and I can understand why the pilgrim's path - the same road the Gefendur say Tirna travelled - cuts through them. Sharteshane may be a crime-ridden land but its navy is efficient, doughty, and beyond reproach. It far outstrips the Aldish fleet.

"What else? What else about Sharteshane is the best?"

It produced a betailed urchin of undeniable charm and wit with a fearsome spring, a ready blade, and the nose of the hoariest boar-hog.

"Awwwww. I knew ya could be sweet if ya really wanted. Gimme a foot rub, corpse-slave."

Do you hope that tactit casting will become learnable and more widespread in the future, or do you think it's better if it stays an innate gift?

I pray God sees fit to more widely distribute this blessing. Vocalization seems a coarse and mechanical impediment to a craft that is born of cerebration and study. That a wright could lose his ability only by losing his voice - it is like an artist losing his hands. The fear should not be there.

What I meant was, how did the law prohibiting education of women come about?

"Law prohibiting education of women?" You think us barbarians? Women may pursue whatever education their means allow them, as may men, but each must do so in appropriate environments.

Who is the brains of your operation?

"I got all the brains. Dwayne spends all his time tryin' to eat 'em."

In the wright ritual, how do the stabbers avoid making the knife wound fatal? Is the knife enchanted? Is there a chance of death?

You misunderstand. The wound is no more than an inch deep and the superheated blade cauterizes it instantly. It is no kiss on the cheek but there is little risk.

Duane, I have read that the Black Tongues are responsible for most advances in pymary - do you see any value, then, in their presence, or would you give up those advances to be rid of the Black Tongues?

This is simply not true. What have you been reading?

Why aren't women allowed to go to Academies in Alderode?

I do not understand your question. That is the law.

Duane, again on the Black Tongues, if their approach is not conscionable, would a middle path appeal to you? Something less regulated by government, but still subject to some agreed-upon ethics? And what of opening the borders of the kherts?

This "middle path" of yours already exists. The Aldish Composers number but twelve, yet each employs a staff that sorts and prioritizes input from wrights throughout the country. Spell composition is a tightly overseen but fairly democratized process, one that takes into consideration the views of the Gefendur, the views of the Ssaelit, and the needs of Vits and the population. It is a tremendous success for Alderode, and we neither desire nor require the precocious interference of the Ilganyag*, who demand not freedom, but utter anarchy.

Even Cresce will not abide them save to hold discourse with representatives. She takes their secrets when it suits her and lops their heads off when they grow inconvenient.

In regards to the khert, you know not what it is you suggest.

((Ashley: Tainish for Black Tongues.))

Isn't it kinda creepy suspecting that the someone is wearing a false face? When you see some of the more beautiful people around, you have to wonder...

"S'why I like that I can smell. I smell through the lies!"

And then you compensate by allowing additional lies their free run from your lips.

"All things in balance, me old deader."

"Denied even that, however, I've still the deadly weapons on the ends of my wrists." Wowm Duane, for a second there you sounded almost threatening!

Would you believe there was once a time when my greatest joy was a pipe, a goblet of spiced wine, and an uninterrupted hour with a good book?

Sette, what would you have Duane do if he was a proper attack zombie and did what he was told?

"Hrmm. I think I would have him do a dance. I would dress him like a bear and he would be me dancin' bear zombie what also attacks."

Is Sharteshane, if not better informed, less afraid of Alderode than Ulestry? Are you able to be openly Aldish there, even if you still have to conceal your unusual nature? Do you have any friends in Tawhoque?

Until the Mmatont uprising and the uncertain state of Anchert, Sharteshane and Alderode were allied. Still they are fast trade partners and make each other significant money. There is a shared appreciation for freedom and entrepreneurship between them, and a long history of learning to give and to take when sharing the Gulf of Anchert. Though I faced discrimination I never was detained for my nationality within Sharteshane. I found it most prudent to keep to myself, however. My acquaintances were clients.

Sharteshane is among some few nations that have yet to join Cresce's farcical "West Kasslyne Alliance," refusing to quit their trade with us or close their borders to our sailors and scholars. Cresce and their Peaceguard rats chew their ways deeper into Sharteshane's bedrock with every year, however, slowly poisoning the well of public perception. I've no great love for the Gefendur paladins that haunt much of Sharteshane, but they do make the Crescian Peaceguard unnecessary (and unwanted) supplements to the underfunded Sharteshanian constabulary. It has forced Cresce to make charitable gestures instead of peacekeeping ones, coming into the country with books and "educational materials," food and clothing for the slums, but all know their true motivation.

"Don't no one like Aldies and you weren't the first I met. They're always kickin' around the docks on leave actin' better'n everyone, gripin' o'er how they can't wait to get home, and tellin' everyone off in that language no one knows. 'Course Crescians is the same, their noses in their air like all've Sharteshane stinks and they can't manage a clear breath. I wish everyone'd stay out if they don't like it."

Another riddle- I tip the scales of lady justice, I dance with absolute power, I dwell in the hearts of all men but in that of no beast, what am I?





Did you ever feel the desire to be a Composer, Duane?

I suppose it is the dream of every wright who has studied theoretical pymary. So much attention and expectation is heaped upon a Composer! They are celebrities in their way, ever involved in scandals and intrigue, layered in glamours of a class that make of them the most beautiful figures in the country. Surely I would disappoint. I am happiest at a table with my reference and my calculations, not at Council balls. On their own, scholarship and talent are rarely enough to merit celebration.

Sette, wouldn't you like to be a wright?

"Naw. Too much work, too many rules."

Sette- what does pymary smell like?

"It ain't easy to describe and it ever smells different. Mostly it stinks like colours. They all blow up behind me eyes like Treenahin fire-flowers and I get the smell've ocean or dirt or poo up me nose. Different spells is different colours. I can know by sniffin' what's comin': cold or a thud or a glamour or a pymaric-bulb. Da says it's the most useful thing he's seen."

Sette, if your fleas itch so much, have you considered removing them? Perhaps Duane could use some kind of pymary...

"No! Da says they ain't like normal fleas for I ain't like a normal lass. They're PORE WARRIORS, and they protect me from bad spirits."

Does pacifist Ulesty have the death penalty?

They do not. I have heard dreadful tales of their work camps, however. I, for one, would rather a swift blade to the back of the neck than a decade rearranging boulders.

Duane, have you seen those posters describing the Aldish "breeds" anywhere? How accurate are they?

Crescian propaganda. Were Ulestry not a frightened pup under Cresce's boot heel perhaps its government might object to her Horrid Majesty plastering its walls with calumnious offal.

Does my vitriol against Cresce seem excessive on these pages? You must understand I am six years the lonesome shadow-skulker, daily enduring biases instilled throughout all Kasslyne by the Crescian propaganda mill. It chafes a man until I feel every soul without Alderode is a soft-headed child with Crescian digits plunged into their skulls, kneading them into more convenient arrangements. There is no escaping it.

"Into the chest it goes"? Isn't that painful and/or dangerous?

Most things in this life worth doing are.

The "boy's" chosen Academy? Are girls not allowed to go to Academies in Alderode?

That is the way of it.

If the Aldish government has your unquestioned trust, then why did you not turn yourself over to them. Surely their judgement in your case would be correct and proper.

Surely a better man than you would be more forthright in his accusations. Do not glance at the scenery and imagine you understand the full production, sir.

Duane, do you think it's possible the Aldish government is as broken and corrupt as the Crescian one? Before you get outraged, think: if Crescians don't realize how terrible their theirs is, how would you know about yours?

I bled and killed for the glory of Alderode. I shall not doubt what I know in my heart and have seen with my own eyes. I pray you one day know what it is to practise absolute trust.

Duane, can you tell us about the ritual that connects people to the khert and allows them to use pymary? And if it's not too personal of a question, what was it like for you?

My Rites were one of the most satisfactory days of my life! For most I imagine the ceremony is similar. Friends and family converge in the chapel or temple of the boy's chosen Academy. Prayers are offered, a sacrifice put to the flame, and the ivaeta blade heated to a crackling scarlet. Into the chest it goes then and woe to the lad who makes a noise! Afterwards it is a dizzying maelstrom of cheers and handshakes and gifts and good wishes.

Sette, what does it feel like to have fleas in your tail? I imagine it must cause a lot of discomfort.

"Whatcha think it feels like, pissbucket? It itches!"

Duane, how tall are you?

((Ashley: He's just shy of six feet tall.))

If she wasn't due to hang before, would what she has done to the Khert be a hanging offense now? Is there an age below which the capital punishment is not carried out? In our lands even those nations who carry out death sentences refuse to execute minors.

"I seen 'em hang Tag Delaney and he were only eight. I reckon if you're old enough t'steal or stab or gob off to a officer, you're old enough for a long drop and a short stop."

Incest: Yea or nay?

Get thee to a library and fill your mind with more wholesome thoughts.

Duane, you've said before how you made sure that you and the wrights you taught knew weapon skills as well. How are you with different kinds of weapons? So far we've only seen you with a staff.

The staff is my chosen arm. When denied it, pymary ensures I am never helpless. Denied even that, however, I've still the deadly weapons on the ends of my wrists.


Hey, Sette - what's the "deadly nevergreen?"

"The gallows, ya pigeon."

Do you know if there are any Crescians that can tacit cast, or is it strictly an Aldish ability?

I have been told the gift exists throughout the continent. Some philosophers theorize it will one day spread until every wright is capable of communicating to the khert without vocalization. Currently it is an innate ability; it is present at birth or not at all.

Had you heard of Nary Frummagem before he contacted you?

Only as whispers on the street. I must say I was never wont to keep company with the manner of men who would know of or do business with such a despicable blackheart as Nary Frummagem.

"Don't you dogregate me Da, zombie! He's worth twenty-seven of you plus a pork dinner!"


Sette, I wanna talk like you, walk like you... Teach me?

"Ya should pay me a fee and then I'll letcha follow me about and study me."

Sette, Duane, might I ask your thoughts on the Black Tongues? Innovators, terrorists or something different?

Blasphemers. Criminals. Murderers. Wretches.

"Scary blokes ya don't wanna cross. Jump-Around were the grocer's boy as has the shoppe 'cross from the temple? He struck a deal with a Black Tongue, I heard, and then he weren't seen no more save for a blood stain they found dead centre've his bed. They got no love've the Twins so no reason to be good or stop from cuttin' people up. Don't never let 'em give you no Evil Eye, or you're dead meat."

Sette, can you adjust the body parts of your zombie? Imagine how quick his tricks would be with for arms. Or claws. Or poisonous stingers rather than pinkie fingers. You could stitch a tail to his behind. And he may talk less fancy with a lisp.

Stop this. Why are you trying to degrade my already disastrous quality of life. Away with you.

Sette, if you don't read, how can you be sure Duane's actually giving you the questions people are asking? He could just be making this stuff up for his own amusement!

"I got this suspicion. He was goin' on over what I'd eat if I was big as a house or summat and I had to hit him in the face with a piece of fire wood. Lass can't find a dependable plod no more, s'disgraceful."

Sette, what is one question you would really want to be asked?

"How much ya want me t'make the cheque out for?"

Oh dear, that sure sounds worrying about the khert. Can ordinary people do anything to fix the breach, or can the khert only mend on its own?

Wrights working in tandem can do much to mend an ailing network. Put your mind at ease, my dear.

Forgive me if you do not wish to share your secret, Sir Adelier, but how did you learn to become so adept at tactit casting?

It is an innate ability, and one that runs in my family.

Sette, I found a beautiful white puppy at my workplace. Would you like to adopt and care for her, so she can one day be your mount/

"Naw. I don't wanna ever keep a hound again, s'too much bother."

Sette, does your Da frighten you at all?

"I'd be thick as a plank if he didn't."

Ah - pardon me, but what is a "hethllot"?

You call them "Plats."

Sette, I deal with people who talk all fancy like Duane all the time. Ain't it annoying?

"We should charge 'em three sem for every word extra they use!"

Ah, so you would have me put my money where my mouth is?

"Aye, you- ha ha ha!"

Duane, what would happen if your head were cut off?

Isn't that a question for us all.

Duane, how did you encounter the Frummagems for the first time?

Nary Frummagem sent a messenger to my rooms claiming he had need of my services. I answered the call. Little did I realise the true nature of the summons.

Whoa. Are Gefendurs really cannibals, or is that just a rumor?

"We ain't cannibals! Duane's bein' prickly."

Duane, forgive my ignorance of the nature of the Khert, but does localized damage like the kind Sette caused with the spider Pymaric spread on its own? Is the Khert really "on fire" and in danger of being damaged further without intervention?

Absolutely and this is why the term is used. The khert is susceptible to many types of damage. In this case of the dysfunctional spider pymaric what has happened is it has incorrectly released the brunt of its charge into the khert rather than into the local field of reality, where its gossamer was spread. This has caused the khert to gather enormous concentrations of heat Aspect at the site, but there is not flame enough to accept it so the Aspect crowds back into the network, setting its own channels ablaze.

What you will see begin to happen is the scrim between khert and reality will have holes burnt through it, causing strange phenomena to evanesce as Aspects leak freely between planes and mnemonic stores escape their channels. Left untreated, the fire can spread quite far before the khert contains it. Often it will attempt to stymie such blazes by rushing antithetical Aspects to the site. Hence, though one may stand in the very heart of the khert blaze, and see those dreadful spectral flames reaching to the heavens, one will feel only the iciest chill.

Duane: How long had you been in Sharteshane before Sette's father blackmailed you?

Nearly three years. I have grown fond of New Tawhoque. If God is merciful I'll see it again.

I play music on various instruments for my enjoyment. Duane, do you play anything?

Lamentably I do not, though I enjoyed a sing when my voice was stronger.

Riddle me this, what can be wasted and saved but not bought or sold?

Time, naturally.

Duane, who is the most masterful wright that you have ever met?

The finest wright I have met... Two measurements there are of pymaric mastery - quality of craft and quality of composition. Composition is of course barred from all save Vits' Composers - twelve in number - and I did meet one of them, briefly, when I was a boy. He was Trieste Parke, a hethllot of remarkable wit and charisma, whom Lord Jalipur renamed "The Pale Pomegranate" after the messy method he devised for turning living creatures inside out. He did not care for Ssaelit and hence did not care for me, but I read his articles in school and admired his cleverness.

As for what wright I have met whose craft was of highest quality, I daresay I have not found one who could best me in nearly ten years.

Hey, Sette! I'm a flea that's actually taken up residence in your mouth. Kinda dark and spooky in here, though.

"Duane, some've these gits is cracked 'right 'cross the brow."
Sette! Why're your feet so dirty?! Don't you ever wash them?

"What's it to you? You wanna serve supper off 'em?"

Duane, what do you think of gruftgrammers?

I believe they should "jig and bounce off the long arm of the deadly nevergreen," to borrow one of Sette's colourful phrases.

Duane, What's your favourite pie?

Sweets and pastries seldom appealed to me. They rot the teeth and dull the wits.

Sette, have you ever thought of running away and living on your own?

"Naw, I'ma Frummagem. They're me gang, and there's nawt worse in Creation than abandonin' your gang. I'd sooner jig and bounce off the long arm've the deadly nevergreen!"

Do you have fleas in your tail, Sette?

"Do you have hairs up your bum?"

Sette, do you really and truly believe that Duane would never do anything to hurt you? ...What about Da?

"Duane might - he's tricky. He'll never get the drop on me tho' 'cause I got ways. Da? Da would only hurt me if it was for me own good. He's got wiles like a hungry lizard."

Duane, you seem a most respectable gentlemen. What advice would you give a citizen of Alderode suddenly forced to interact with the... non-Aldish on a daily basis?

Refrain from braining the lot. Recall they are victims of a lesser, godless government. Enlighten them when your patience allows for it but if it does not, keep to yourself, and lose not sight of your own upbringing and ethos.

Sette, how do you pronounce your name? Is it just like "Set" or is it "Set-ee"? Duane, how is your last name pronounced? Just like it's spelled, or is the 'r' silent? Also - I feel very bad for you, having to travel around with a hooligan like Sette.

Since leaving my homeland I have heard my name pronounced in ways that would redden an oracle's ears. It should be said doo-ahn ah-DEH-lee-ey. In truth I have grown inured to mispronunciations. It was that, or pull out what remains of my hair.

"Dwayne Addyleer is the best way to say it and the official way too. I'm Setty!"

Sette, would you like to be tentacled?

"I don't think so. I do think I want extra arms tho', so I can punch more effickaciously."


Sette, if your dad tried to kill you, would you put up a fight? Also, would you ever try to kill your Da?

"I don't know! Piss off!"

As a wright, how is working with the Dammakhert different from the plain old khert? Do the boundaries of the Dammakhert line up with Alderode's borders? Can other wrights (who haven't lived in Alderode) manipulate it properly?

The Dammakhert's bourn indeed coincides with Alderode's, waxing and waning dependant on our placement of border halkeif, channel stones that purify foreign networks. The Dammakhert's properties are myriad and unique, but its function in pymary is much the same as a lesser khert's, and foreign mages can manipulate it with customary facility.

Duane, is anyone able to use pymary or is it a gift that only some possess?

Anyone rited can access the khert. Whether they should or not, however, is another matter.

Duane, How long have you been a Galit?

Six summers. Six lifetimes. Six-thousand years. Cut me open, count the rings, hang me by them like a drying gourd.

I have been following your exploits for some time. I think you guys are really great and I'd like to donate a huge bag of sem to help you on your travels. Would you mind sending me your current location? So I can drop off the money, of course. --NOT CRPG

"A whole bag! Duane, tell him!"

How you are still alive is beyond my understanding.

Cannibalism: yea or nay?

A vile custom of the Gefendur and not of mine. Ssael forbids it.

Sette, how proud would your Da be knowing you practically destroyed half of a city?

"Oh, he'd bust in two. I'ma take back a wanted poster to show him. Duane, don't lemme forget to keep one!"

About how many question do you get daily? About how many of those do you answer?

((Ashley: There are 52 questions in the inbox at the moment. I always delete the spoilery or mood-breaking ones.))

A question I have not yet seen, and fear that might not have a productive response... Daune and Sette, other than the jingle of coinage or reciting old war tales, what is something that makes you smile?

In the day's small hours, my skull is a bowl of nightmares; a shallow pool that reflects only midnight ink. When that first blush of dawn pinkens the horison, the black bats scatter, and I'm alone behind my eyes to pay homage to God's glorious promise come again to light the empyrean. Into the newborn morning I cast my rictus smile, a leper at the feet of Majesty, and with no judgment the risen sun puts its warm benediction upon my brow.

"Milk and pie."

Sette, do you know how Duane's name is really pronounced and just don't use it to annoy him? Or don't you get it?

"I'll say it the way I please. If he wants it said different he can toddle back up north where they all talk queer as he."

Sette, your Da's evil and he's trying to get you killed! Run while you still can! D:

"Da may be wicked but he's the strongest and wealthiest bloke in Sharteshane. 'Course he don't want me killed. If he did he'd knife me himself, personal and considerate, and not bother with all this other. Da is very practical."

Sette, did you know that, in another universe, in another language, your name would be one letter off from being synonymous with a piece of furniture?

"Aye? What sort? I hope a iron maiden or a butchery table!"

Hey, Sette, did you ever find out why Bastion didn't wear a shirt?

"Is Lord Winalils who ya mean? Likely a poofter."

Hi Sette! we are the fleas in your tail and we love you!!!!

"Pore warriors! Duane, I told you!"

Sette, when you eat bugs, do you chew them, or swallow them alive to feel them skittering about your belly? you realize, doing the latter, is a slow death for them.

"You daft? Who'd eat bugs not cooked first?"

Ain't it a shame what happened to Tain, Duane?

Ssael told us even the Twins could not see the beginning of All. If the old gods themselves had limits to their memories, man must also let the past fade to shadows. Tain's destruction was long ago, and from its blood sprung Alderode. Perhaps those still plainting of a time they never saw, of a land they never knew, should be gifted more relevant woes.

Sette, what happened to your Da's Da?

"Da stabbed him in the neck with a broken bottle. He felt poor 'bout it later tho, and had granny boil his head so he could keep his skull 'round. He talks to it sometimes and asks for counsel. Da says grampa answers him back real quiet but I ain't ever heard it. Da is interesting."

So, how's the economy? Pretty stable, eh?

"Not when Sette Frummagem's about."

Sette do you ever wear makeup?

"Don't need it. Me beauty is natural. I were in the bangtails' boudoir once and they put some lip rouge on me and blue on me eyes and it were wretched."

How come the page is "DuaneAndSette" and not "SetteAndDuane"?


Silly little 'Frummagem'. Everybody knows you ain't the kin you claim to be. You know this too in your headmeats! Why keep up the lie, betailed cuckoo?

"And everybody knows people can't talk when they gots their faces buried up t'their neck in their own rearmost holes but you're keepin' that up too, pissbucket."

Sette, do you ever catch Duane eyeing your hindquarters? Do you think he's... hungry for them?

"He's snapped at me a few times. By Tirna he has."

Dear Duane and Sette, how do you receive and answer these questions? I wager computers don't exist in Kassylyne, even in learned and advanced Alderode (nor do I think even Sette is smart enough to invent one).

((Ashley: I am serving as go-between, transcribing questions from the screen to parchment, passing that along, and then retyping the replies I receive. Geez, I thought that was obvious :3))

Sette have you ever eaten a bug?

"Crickets and tiggams and scorpions and beetles is all real fine if you know the places to go for 'em. Da told me once offshoremen don't eat 'em. Your misfortune, I reckon."

Duane, if you could change one point in your life, would you? why or why not? Sette same question

"I woulda told Da I don't need no spindle-shanked zombie's help findin' Stockyard! Bah, he's cross now and don't wanna answer."

Sette, what do you think of school? Duane, do you have a differing opinion?

"I dunno. Prats and swells go to the schoolhouse as have so much coins they need t'make up new things to buy with 'em. So they turn their money into learnin' and hide it 'twixt their ears. If ya ain't got a Da as'll teach ya all worth knowin', and gotta pay some undertaker in a necktie to do the job instead - that's pathetic and queer."

Sette, education isn't for all but for those whom God has positioned on the privileged end of society it is a doorway to the wisdom of the past and hence a foothold to a loftier tomorrow. Whence come the pymarics upon which you rely unless from wrights adequately schooled?

"Suck me toe."


Duane, what did you look like before your...er...undeath?

I was a man, the same as any other.

Does Sette know any pymary? And if not, have you considered tutoring her, Duane? (Also, Sette, what do you think of pymary?)

Of course she knows no pymary. One must know prereformation Tainish to work pymary and the lass is barely coherent in her native tongue. As for the ludicrous idea of tutoring her, I'd sooner hand her a hammer and then make her cross.

"Bah, pymary's for toffee-nosed swells anyway. I like me knife!"

Sette, are you going to have a big nose when you get taller? You are going to get taller, right?

"Cor, I better. I want a big nose too! I wanna be able to smell fear."

Duane, as you currently lack any form of..metabolism, is "The Hunger" you described a purely psychological thing or is it some sort of magical curse linked to your current form? Also,I do assume you do neither need food nor sleep, do you?

If I knew the wherefores of my current predicament perhaps I might somehow alleviate it - but I do not. You are correct in assuming I "need" no food; however sleep, after a fashion, is a requirement.

Hey Duane, do you ever get the feeling that you're nothing but a fictional character, a product of an over-active imagination?


Hey Duane, do you ever wish you were born into a different ssultet?


Hey Duane, how did you get so good with a bo staff? (I'm referring to your fight with the Red Berry Boys.)

You speak of the quarterstaff? Years of training and many broken fingers! One of the most valuable lessons I took from my time in Chinoll was to emphasize a breadth of ability. Lads little realise it takes only an aberration in the khert, a fieldfreeze, or a hoarse throat to strip them of their ability to cast. I allowed no wright under my command to graduate to the field without some manner of weapon training.

So that milk maid that you saved from the Red Berry Boys...............did you think she was cute? Be honest! :-)

Coarse, but fetching. I pray she and the little one found their way home safely.

Do you guys ever wonder if you could visit the moon?

"How could ya! It's only a hole in the sky! If you got up too high it'd suck you into the Outside, or the Hells, and you'd catch a right crack 'cross the crown from Riv, and you'd deserve it too."

Duane, I have a strange question to put to you. In all of Aldish history, has there ever been such a thing as a child of two different ssultet? And if such a person were to exist, would people be able to tell their heritage?

Such children are unfortunate but not uncommon. Great arbiter, law-keeper, and Ssaell's gift to us, the Dammakhert chooses the ssultet of these babes. Oft one will see the parents punished with a child who little resembles them, who has no place in the ssultet into which he was born, and who lives a miserable life scorned by all for his parents' mistake.

Duane, what would you do if Sette were suddenly as big as a giant? I'm talking big enough that most people would be smaller than her little finger!

Resign myself to coming up short in every future disagreement.

"'SHORT!' Ha ha ha!"

Duane, I confess myself almost wholly ignorant of worldly affairs. What is this 'Vits'?

It saddens me that Kasslyne is so ignorant of Alderode's interior. Mayhap it cannot be helped. Vits is our ruling Council.

Sette, what would you do if you were suddenly as big as a giant? I'm talking big enough that most people would be smaller than your little finger!

"Blissss. I would pick up Da's mate Bodkin as is always so cross to me and I'd peel off his clothes and I'd hang him from the Red Tower by his boy-handle! Ha ha ha!"

Duane, I must confess to being in awe of your glorious diction! So few people bother to cultivate eloquence anymore, it is refreshing to say the least. Care to join me on a glorious crusade to eradicate all that is ungrammatical and colloquial?

Were I to enlist, my dear, our first victim would have to be young Sette, and I am oathbound to keep her whole. I do fear one day she will speak only in apostrophes and expletives.

"I ain't scared've ya puffed-up wankers. Ya talk as if you're tryin' to pass cobs out your rears."

Sette and Duane, how do you feel about a good hanging?

It is unmanly to glory in the death of even a criminal, but there is no shame in finding satisfaction in the rule of law and the execution of justice.

"Beheadin's is more excitin'! FHWAP! THUD."

Hey Duane, do you have any tips for courting lovely Aldish ladies?

In my youth, a pleasant verse, a bouquet of roses, a smart jacket, and a pair of theatre tickets served me well. Never turn your back on a lady. Attend to their every desire and you will find them eager to attend to yours.

Duane, do you accept hugs?

A smart bow or a brief shaking of hands, sir, if you are a man of the code or the cloth.

Oy, Sette, what're your thoughts on that Matty lad?

"Stoopid hat, good taste in sweets. Reckon he's with them Red Berry Boys? Seems puny for it though Da's always said one've me most useful features is I don't look as I belong with the company I keep."

Duane, is there anything that could convince you that Crescians are not the rotten, awful monsters you think they are?

Removed from their country and the foul influence of its tyrannical monarchy, Crescians can be deprogrammed. I have known such individuals and found them as sane and personable as any other foreigner. Cresce itself, however, the thousand-limbed monster, the shackler, the dictator - that is a tree rotten at the root, and nothing will convince me otherwise. I wielded spear and spell against it and watched boys martyr themselves to repel it from Aldish lands. Down with Cresce and the collar and lead of monarchy, and to the heavens with Vits and the Cooperative!

Dear Duane, why didn't you just blast Sette's dad when he first threatened you instead of going along with his demands? Surely you know he'll always try to use you and you'll have to leave Sharteshane anyway.

The idea did occur to me. Nary Frummagem is an unctuous scoundrel who could do with a lesson in manners.

duane, if you could get sette to learn one thing, what would it be? (i get why people keep harpin on the romance thing, but i like your two's oddly sweet, manipulative friend/mentorship way better)

Anteit Vaosa, let her understand there exists a world and a population outside the concerns of her own skin.

Sette, I am in awe of your tail.

"Typical reaction."

On a scale of mostly to totally, how true is it that the reason some castes live longer than other is because they're stealing the life force out of the others?

That is absolutely false. Crescian propaganda eager to prey on ignorance and justify their endless assaults on our land.

Sette why no bellybutton?

"Stop spyin' on me, child lover! I'ma cut out your deadlights!"

Ever killed someone, Sette?

"Hunerds of people."

Though I know you detest the practice of recycled labour, Duane, do you know any specifics about it? Does the magic affect only the physical form, or is the spirit enslaved as well?

'Magic?' You must be from offshore, sir. I know naught of plods nor do I care to study their construction. You would do well to put them out of your head.

hehe my apologys if i offended you Sette or if i offended any one. you too cool for me to do you any kind of harm. i know, ill buy you your favorite pie. anyways.... Sette, what kind of pymary would you love to hold if you whanted to learn.

"On Treenahin the wrights make light flowers and beasties in the sky at night, all tearin' over the rooves and creepin' 'round the stovepipes. It'd be a lark and three quarters makin' them pictures."

Duane: I've enjoyed seeing your relationship with Sette develop. Many say it's romantic. However, I am sure you would say that is not the case. It's my belief that you are becoming a father figure to replace the excuse of a dad that she has. Do you agree?

I do not.

Duane, are there other people with a condition like yourself? I would imagine that powerful individuals seeking to escape death would go down such a path, since all we've seen so far are plods. And you are far more impressive than a plod.

If there is another in my state I have never come across the unfortunate bastard. Truthfully I cannot imagine many enduring the first year. Do not be misled; no one would willingly go down this path and it is no escape from Death. I walk with Death. I am become it.

Duane, what is the kindest thing you've seen Sette do since your journey began? Sette, what is the coolest thing you've seen Duane do since your journey began?

"'Coolest?' He's cool alla the time, touch him."

Sette's is a caring hand with animals. I've marked her smiling at hounds when she thinks my attention rests elsewhere. She is not as cruel as she would have the world believe.

http://www.formspring.me/DuaneAndSette/q/252904468423642426 | I believe what the fellow tried to ask was: if you prefer illusory pymary, then why don't you hide yourself in an illusion rather than a cloak?

Because I cannot lie to myself, to God, or to those in my company that I am alive when ever in my gut there churns a reminder I am an abmortal abomination. Crepe-thin is the line between lie and illusion. Only a compromise suits me.

Duane, Please pardon the seeming indelicateness of this quandary but, how hard is it to keep your body functioning and how do you do it? I noticed you had some trouble with your leg earlier and have been plagued with confusion over this ever since. Sorry.

It is an indelicate topic indeed.

Duane, you seem to be quite well-learned. Could you inform us about the war's history? Perhaps why it started? Sette, I reckon you don't give a flying spit about history or the logistics of pyramy. So how did you get your spidey friend to ignite for you?

"Most'd assume I don't know how to prime a gozzy trap but they'll know they're wrong when they're pickin' up their teeth and puttin' 'em in a teacup! I reckoned the spider was a Beadman's, as the slavers is from Sharteshane, and Beadman's all use the same words to set up. If the daft thing'd been in workin' shape it woulda wove the web itself, but I unspooled all its gossamer for it, primed it with pymaric-speak, and legged it. Weren't nawt at all."

I would say it was SOMETHING - something I wish you had solved in a different manner.

I confess I know little of the current military actions taking place. I garnered from an Ulestrian paper it had something to do with Crescian surveyors pushing too far north into the DMZ, and Vits responding in the forthright way Vits normally responds. How her Majesty enjoys provoking us and then shrieking horror and surprise when we do not tolerate it. Typical Crescian warmongering.

Duanne, how that that anti-flea bath you gave Sette go?

The beast took chunks from my arms. It was like bathing a grebber cub.

Guys, have you heard of this Murkoph fellow? He sounds like one bad dude!

Sette is not familiar with the name and neither am I. Is he a new face on the stage this season? I lament I've not followed the theatre closely in some time.

Duane, looking at a previous answer, can there be no beauty in destruction? Sette, if you could, would you trade your tail in for that of a different kind?

Naturally there is beauty in the destruction of tyranny, of injustice, of wicked institutions and tired, insalubrious ideas. Ofttimes however, it seems man destroys only for the sake of it, jealously doing away with what's around him in retribution for his own coming destruction. Or perhaps the spleen is upon me today.

Sette assures you she is content with her current conclusion.

Sette, what is your earliest memory?

"Chewin' me way out've ma's nethers. The screams and prayin's of the midwife. The sky openin' up and singin' dirges in honour've me arrival. Don'tcha recollect it too? It were in all the papers."

Since you are good with illusions, Duane... do you think you could make yourself a matching lion tail to Sette's? You'll be like a mutant family, b'awww.

My first thought upon seeing the girl's tail was she wore some pymaric accessory. Were that only the reality. I worry over the origin and meaning of it.

Hey, Sette, if I stole Duane from you out of love for the zombie, would you be mad at me? :D Would you miss him?

"Like I'd miss a toothache. I'll sell him to ya cheap once he's served me purposes! Don't kiss him tho', you'll catch that spoiled meat sickness."

Duane, who is it that Sette reminds you of that makes you want to protect her so bad?

She reminds me only of the faults of this world; that we are scattered seeds caught by the wind, as likely to sprout in fertile loam as rancid manure. Who knows what fruit may come of a shoot so tender and new? I tell you that naught at all will grow if it is squashed too soon. All potential good must be protected.

Sette, what gender do you believe yourself to be a member of?

"Only thing I'ma member of is the Frummagems, ever and always. I may be a lass but I ain't no GIRL. I'm better'n girls and better'n lads too - better and different, and that's why Tirna put a tail on me. I don't gotta mingle'n carouse with you wankers 'cept to twine about your ankles like a fart on the wind and make away with your skins and timepieces."

Do you know why people keep thinking there is a romance between you two?

"Because I am beautiful, and this zombie keeps followin' me around like I got a pocketful of honey-roasted brains."

Duane, what is the significance of platinum hair in Aldish culture? Is hair color important to the Aldish?

I have found there is a common misunderstanding without Alderode that the ssultet is hierarchical. That is not the case. Those of fair hair are worth not one jot more or less than those of dark or ruddy locks. Many are the falsehoods spread by Cresce and its barbarian Queen, but you must not give them credence.

Hair colour is indicative of ssultet - of caste. As for its core importance, it may interest you to know that the Tainish word for 'hair' and the Tainish word for 'crown' are the same. As an outsider in Sharteshane, one of the strangest sights for me and certainly the most difficult to acclimate myself to was that of customers in a barber's salon leaving their hair trimmed and discarded on the shop floor. Where I come from the trimmings would be burnt - a superstitious practise perhaps, but I am unaware of a good Aldishwoman who would sleep well through the night knowing her hair was in another's dustbin.

Duane, as you are an..err..Undead Being, do you happen to know what the source of the so-called "recycled" labourers is that we have seen in various places? Were these..workers raised from the grave or were they killed and then enslaved?

I do not approve of the practise of recycled labour. It is one prohibited in Alderode and rightly so, for how base, irreverent, and plainly grotesque it is to treat a corpse as a commodity. Superannuated or prematurely dismissed, a corpse has only just been released by Life from its employment. That these ghastly graefhich then wrench it from mouldering repose to lock it inside a mask and a cage of ensorcellment so that it might dig a ditch or erect a wall - it harrows up my soul!

Such a practice encourages only murder, I am certain, to keep the ranks stocked. Tales travelled north, betimes, of killers lurking outside clinics to spirit away the infirm and dispatch them to an unlife of servitude, all for some paltry handful of coins. Even in Sharteshane there were rumours of it. Do not believe the propaganda you may see slathered over city walls.

Duane, perhaps Sette might be interested in learning her letters if you'd show her a lawyer and explain that she could steal much bigger things with a piece of paper than the palming of a purse.


Sette, whatever happened to Wrath of Dog? :(

"...I don't got him no more. Shut up about it."

Sette, would you prefer to be undead?

"Not if it makes me unsuff'rable as Dwayne."

Wait. Duane, are you bald? Maybe you could come up with some prose about your baldness.

Faenilalim efhalim muol.

Sette nyan kawaii meow-chan uguu

"Is your brain wrecked?"

Duane, is there any area of pymary you just can't be bothered with? Or even one you're (clever as you are) no good at?

Naturally I have never taken an interest in the feminine arts: chromatics, song-stringing, adornments, and the like. Not to indulge in ungodly hubris but most other areas of study I have broached have revealed themselves fully to me with adequate research and practise. I confess I have always enjoyed friendlier relations with pymary than with people. Pymary rewards thorough study and observation. Are you having troubles in some area, Aspirant? Study, lad; study and patience, and all shall be revealed.

Sette, what's the story behind the first coin you ever stole?

"Seven score guardsmen stood between it and me, and on every one've their shoulders was seven score acid-spittin' imps, and their skin was all knife-skin and their claws was all venom-dipped. But ain't none've them known the like of Sette Frummagem. In me wake I left only despair. Confusion was me shadow and they still sing songs've the blood I spilt."

Duane, I have noticed that you have a way with evocative metaphors! Do you think you could whip one up right now? Subject matter: something, anything!

My thoughts are constellations tonight; arbitrarily scattered yet travelling the same weary paths.

hehe are you two...future soul mates? i realy like the idea of the two falling in love eventualy. too bad Duane is a zombie :/ they are such awsome and deep charecters.

I question your upbringing.

"I wager ya dish duty she's a girl. Girls gotta ruin everythin' with kissin'. Go kiss a goat, girl!"

What do you think about ponies? Worth the time or just worth stealing from?

We're not familiar with the term.

Sette, have you ever a slight but possible spark of romance between you and Duane? maby some time in the future? you can have me killed for asking about possibility of romance between you seanse it was totaly worth asking hehehe.

"...Da says there's some as don't deserve death so much as never bein' allowed t'die tho' there's scorpions stingin' their balls for twenty-three years. Mate, you just better be triple-checkin' your pants from now forward afore you be puttin 'em on."

Duane, when will you realize that Sette is playing you for a fool? And Sette, what are you going to do when he does? And more importantly, are you going to receive a medal for blowing up the Khert? (If you do, make sure it comes with a blackberry pie.)

My dear, that was no great epiphany. I realised it ten minutes after first making her acquaintance. Thankfully God gives me the strength to endure what I cannot change.

Sette is cackling. I can just make out her reply between snorts: "I SHOULD get a medal! They should award me a medal that's a pie plate pymaric that refills itself with pie every time I give it orders. Dunno why ya think I'm so cruel to the zombie though; he can have some've me infinite pie in exchange for not pratin' on of bothersome nonsensory for an hour."

Sette, doesn't it hurt your feet to walk around with them bare all the time? Wouldn't it make them hard and calloused, or something? Just what are the soles of your feet like now?

"They're hard enough to tread over the bones've me enemies without catchin' a splinter. 'Course it don't hurt only to walk. You think I'm some kinda girl or summat?"

Sette, are your teeth naturally that sharp, or do you file them down? And are the back teeth all sharp and such too, or just the front ones shown when you smile?

"They're all sharp! So sharp when I eat rashers they start A'SQUEALIN' ha ha ha! They may be filed or it may be the gods thought I ought t'have ivories more int'restin' than yours. I ain't sayin'!"

Duane, do you plan on teaching Sette how to read and write? It's a rather important skill to have.

Wholeheartedly I agree yet I am afraid the tailed hedgepig finds all grammatical pursuits anathema to her character. Not long after leaving the bourn of Sharteshane I thought to assault her at supper with an opened book of letters and a fervent exhortation regarding the merits of scholarship and academia. She need not resign herself to the dagger and the gaol house. Well, disinterest in the subject had she expressed before but not with her teeth! She set upon the book like a dyspeptic dog, shredding it for packing material then hurling the lot into our cooking fire. I have been very cautious, thereafter, in suggesting what's to be done in our leisure time.

Sette, what would you do if you had your own army of voracious attack zombies? Would you use them to protect the innocent, or wreak indiscriminate terror upon your enemies?

"Naturally I'd have t'use 'em to extend me dominance, creatin' an environment've fear so that culls and coves from shore to spinney know the name 'Sette Frummagem.' I won't lie: me primary holdback at present is I can't get the terror churnin' in them as stand against me. I'm a fair napper of naps and a pretty paw at haukin' and purse collectin' and pigeon pluckin', but I got no TALLNESS. A zombie army tho' - that'd be summat t'stand on. Da would snort his whisky out his snout I came inta town ridin' a tide of hungry greyflesh. Hoho!"

Why are you so bad at putting an illusion on yourself then?

I am afraid I haven't the foggiest notion of what it is you are speaking.

Duane, which particular area of pymary do you find you enjoy studying or practicing the most? Sette, what's the best thing you've ever....ah...'acquired'

The illusory arts delight me. They are where the intellect required for the successful working of pymary meet with the superior aesthetic required for painting, drawing, or sculpting. They are a marriage of mind and eye. I have known many a craftsman confined to canvas or clay sigh at the facility with which light and pymary will paint the imagination. No base pigment stands between intent and reality then.

Aye, I realise it may seem strange that though I excel at martial pymary, it is illusory pymary that fires my imagination. However, 'tis easier to destroy than it is to create, and I'd rather leave a modest monument in my wake than a smoke-belching crater.

To your other question Sette replies: "Me most impressive acquisition? Mmm, it's hard to recollect this removed from me horde at home but lessee... I spose it's the cache I lifted off that merchantman from... oh, I don't wanna talk about that, never you mind. I do got a real toe! It's nigh long as me thumb and I tied twine 'round it and sometimes it brings me good fortunes when I wear it. You ever had a real toe all your own as weren't attached to a foot? I'll sell ya one for a bargain I wouldn't give me own granny!"

Duane, why do you put up with Sette's nonsense? You're obviously a powerful guy, why do you hang around her?

Has my oath to the girl's father not been made apparent? To give your word is to give yourself, spirit and flesh. I would sooner have both stripped from me than break an oath, no matter the character of the fellow holding it.

Of course, even were I to be released from this errand I do not believe I could in good conscience leave her to the caprices of the black-hearted employment into which she's been bound. The day may come when I can convince her to leave it - until then, I stand ready shield between her and calamity.

Sette, where's your mom?

"Where most people are! In a grave and moulderin' away. I never knew her good but Da ever tells me she were a fierce sort, clever and brave. I reckon I take right after her."