Mirrored from Sythyry.
The cell was damp. Pools of cold stagnant water lay about the floor — lurking in wait, I think, so they could slurp forth and dampen the spirits of any prisoner, no matter how determined to be cheerful they were.
I don’t think this was a cruel design on the part of the architect, to break the spirits of the prisoners and add to their misery. I think it was a natural consequence of trying to make a prison cell five hundred feet underground, especially in a city full of waters and canals.
The cell was stinky. It had lurking water, but not running water. This meant that the privy — rather misnamed, since actual privacy was unavailable — was a bucket in the corner. A bucket which all the prisoners used, but not all of them used with any great accuracy. I resolved not to touch the floor on that half of the room.
The cell was dark. It had one (1) spell-light, attached to the decorative cornice in the middle of the room. This prevented one from even seeing the bucket with great accuracy. In certain respects this was surely a blessing, for the bucket was not a sight of much beauty. In other respects, it surely contributed to the noxious atmosphere.
The cell’s cuisine was inferior. Through a slit in the door could be introduced a tray made of heavy paper, on which were five loaves of a dense bread. The bread was evidently quite nutritious, being made of rye, lentils, celery, carrots, cabbage, eggs, kale, and turnips. It was also sufficiently delicious that we all ate just the minimum amount necessary. I am lucky to be a Zi Ri, and, thus, to have a very small appetite.
Five loaves, of course, means five inmates.
Guard-Mage: “No fewer than thirty city guards will surround the door as we open it. Enter quickly, for the guards are quite nervous, and will not be shy about using their weapons.”
Me: “How polite! I shall be the very spirit of alacrity.”
Guard-Mage: “I am an educated man, and know that word. You might want to use less erudite vocabulary when you are within.”
Guard-Warrior: “The heavy, spellridden door is now just barely open.”
Me: “I scoot!”
Guard-Warrior : “I slam the door behind you with considerable relief!”
Myself. A striped Rassimel man generally referred to as Khipo. A striped Rassimel woman who answered to Dong. A Herethroy woman named Seba — the most hated person in the cell, for her presence meant that food was made vegetarian, without the usual dried lizard flakes, which improve it somewhat. And of course there was Aoda, a Khtsoyis man.
And a decorative cornice that cast The Wizard in Helpless Fury every few seconds at all of us.
Me: “Hallo, O cellmates.”
Khipo: “Well, lookie here. It’s a Zi Ri. What are you in here for, Zi Ri?”
It is generally a very bad idea to say that you are in prison for sex crimes. Inmates are not much impressed by your bravery, cleverness, or violence for such a crime. They often seem to take it as a civic duty to injure you. Which is odd, because people in such prisons are not always so devoted to their civic duties.
Me: “Sex crimes.” I was in rather a Mood.
At about this point the regular casting of Helpless Fury got me. No more pattern spells for a while.
Dong: “Hah, birdy-liz looks like zie’d knock a Gormoror down ‘n rape him three ways to Oix.”
Me: “Close enough.”
Aoda: “Close is not Gormy-fucking good enough. You tell us everything right now. Or we give you the horky borky.”
Me: “Tie your tents in a knot and fuck your own snot.” Which I said with perfect Grinwipey-style intonation and etiquette, no matter that it sounds really hilarious coming from a little tiny Zi Ri.
Seba: “OK, zie’s a joker.”
Aoda: “Seems to me zie’s asking to wrestle.”
Me: “What, you want I should knock you down and rape you three ways to Oix? What, you asked the wattle-and-caulkers [walkers -- incl. Rassimel and Herethroy] to do you, but you were so stinky they didn’t want to come close?”
Dong and Seba laughed at that, at least, which was all to the good.
Aoda: “Seems to me zie’s asking for a fight. Funny, zie can’t cast spells in here … “ he waggled a tentacle at the cornice Maybe zie’s some kinda sorcerer on the outside, and used to people shitting their pants in fear of zir spells. But that’s outside. In here zie’s a tiny little lizard with a candle in zir mouth and tiny little claws what couldn’t hurt a flea. In here I’m a strong shoggy with a big fang mouth and three clubs, same as outside. I can even heal m’self, I can.
The seven-winged burning thing never fails to make an impression.
Aoda: “Oh, fucking hairy shit. Zie is a sorcerer.”
Seba: “Is that real?“
Me: “Well, its presence has dried the floor up considerably, already. I think I’ll leave it around here for a bit longer, by way of housekeeping, if you don’t mind.”
Khipo: “I … suppose that’s all right.”
I claimed the corner of the room furthest from the latrine bucket. By which I mean the upper corner — even when it was baked dry, I didn’t want to get any closer to the floor than I absolutely had to. Poor walkers, who had to sleep on it!
If you care
Khipo killed three Herethroy in one of the outlying villages when they tried to stop him from kidnapping their baron’s three-year-old daughter. Dong steals from counts and bankers. Seba is a militant atheist and/or anarchist, who burned down a temple of Mircannis with hundreds of people in it, including the duke’s children, though nobody died permanently from it. Aoda is a forger of official documents, whose forgery of a trade certificate caused an international incident both embarrassing and unpleasant for Hanija.
I am in quite distinguished company. I had to tell them about my fight with the pirates of Dossimar before they would quite take me seriously.
Not that I particularly wanted to make friends with them, but I was hoping to get some sleep that night, and I wanted to be safe, or at least undisturbed.
Foolish hope, I know. At least my cellmates didn’t bother me.