Bronze — 31 of 46

Emily Short

Release 12

Chapter 2 - Recollections

To say memory:

repeat through the Table of Memories

begin;

say "[reply entry]";

blank out the whole row;

rule succeeds;

end repeat.

Table of Memories

reply
"'You can leave at any time,' he said, when he first spoke to you. You stared at him, surprised that someone with his face and teeth was capable of human communication. 'Would you like to go?'

There are other memories, more recent, of course. Every glance around the room reminds you of a different one."
"'I'm surprised you haven't gone home yet,' he said very early in your stay.

'I've heard stories,' you replied. 'As if there weren't enough to see around the castle. I know what happens to your servants who try to leave you.'

'Nothing bad would happen to you,' he said. But you could not believe him, not with all the captured spirits, not with the stories, not with the evidence around the castle."
"'And now -- would you like to go home?'

You bit your lip. It had been a pleasant conversation, up until now, when you are reminded: however nicely he may behave, he is still the king of a cursed line, and not to be trusted."
"'I assure you,' he added. 'No harm will come to you if you do go.'

'I only have your word for that,' you replied, looking stubbornly into your soupbowl.

He sat. 'I am unable to lie to you,' he said. 'It is one of the conditions placed upon us. We can only tell the truth.'

'And why should I believe that?'

He raised his glass. 'I'll try again tomorrow.'"
"'Were you ever married?' you asked, ignoring his question.

'No.'

'Then you have no heirs?'

'I have no legitimate sons,' he replied. 'But I certainly have an heir, somewhere. If I died, somewhere, someone would inherit all this, and the whole system would go on as before, the servants and the contracts. But don't worry: I have tried, and it turns out that I don't die easily.'"
"'And you promise I would not regret it? Truthfully.'

He coughed. 'I don't know your future. And -- since you ask I must answer -- I don't think much of your father, a man who would barter his daughter's service for his own, especially since he had unflattering ideas of what I would do with you.'

You sputtered. 'Well of course you couldn't-- I mean, being an animal...'

His teeth gleamed. 'I assure you I could,' he said. 'But I won't.'"
"'I have become used to it here,' you answered, surprising yourself. 'There is plenty to read; there is the chessman, and games; and you are good company.' He raised his glass with a half smile. 'You'd rather stay here without me?'

'No,' he said."
"'I c-care for you,' you said. 'I am lonely without you, and you make me laugh, and you're nice...'

'Stop,' he said. 'And remind me never to order the port again.'

He picked you up from your chair and your head rested on his shoulder. 'But why can I not be in love... Oh, carry me carefully on the stairs: I feel sick!'

'Simply, pet,' he said, walking slowly up the steps. 'What you offer I couldn't accept. In fact, I'm not sure what you are offering. Do you have some fantasy of marrying me? Being my mistress?'

You could not think of the answer; there was no solution that was not absurd. He set you down carefully on the bed and went away. A moment later he came back, bright crimson bell in his left paw. 'When you wake in the morning and are very ill, which you will be, ring this and the servants will bring a tonic appropriate to your condition.'"
"'For a visit, if you won't go to stay?' he asked. 'We could arrange that too, if you liked.'

'And nothing bad would happen to anyone I cared about?' you demanded.

'Nothing bad would happen to you or to your family. There would be no ill health and no spiritual repercussions.'

'You're leaving something out,' you said, having gotten familiar with the precise way he speaks when hedging around a difficult fact.

'It could be unpleasant for me,' he replied, strained. 'But you mustn't stay because of my feelings on the matter. Your family miss you, and I am the villain in this piece.'"
"'Don't mention the leaving thing once more,' you said. 'Or I will throw a glass at your head.'

He sighed. 'You are as stubborn as you are honorable,' he said. 'No doubt the two are related.'"
"After a long time: 'You haven't asked me to leave in a while,' you said.

'Ah.' He looked at his plate of food. 'Of course you may go. I'm glad you believe my word about the effects, now.'

'I will go to visit my family,' you say, stressing the word visit. 'On condition that you tell me how to do it so that I will not harm you. If you won't do that, I don't go.'

He looked at you, his expression cloudy. 'There is a very good reason why...'

'Those are my terms.'

He sighed. 'Very well,' he said. 'If your trip lasts fewer than seven days, it will have no effect on anything here.' He looked down at his curled paw. 'But if you don't come back -- and I imagine you won't -- I will forgive you.'"

[Now, when we have all the rooms defined, might also be a good time to make the shoes work:]

Table of Beast Thoughts

spotreply
Burnt Frame"[italic type]A spectacular but unsuccessful attempt. My fur was singed and foul-smelling for weeks[roman type]."
Zoo"largely self-disgust, the image of himself as the kind of creature who belongs here. He really has very good manners. There are whole evenings when you almost forget that he isn't shaped like a man.[line break]"
Virgin's End"[italic type]They died without marrying those to whom they were betrothed, but not all died maidens[roman type]. Impossible to tell the tenor of that particular thought. [italic type]Not all of them are to my account, I hasten to add[roman type]."
Gallery of Historical Paintings"amusement. [italic type]Poor old Elzibad. Though I suppose it wasn't so funny at the time. Remind me to tell you-- but I may not have the chance, I suppose[roman type]."
Walk's End"an unexpected burst of sentiment. He loves this place, because he so often spoke with you here, and it is overlaid with odd glimpses of yourself, gestures and expressions you did not know looked so funny.[line break]"
Scrying"[italic type]Mostly we used all this for communicating with the enslaved, bringing their spirits to the mirrors to speak to us. That was easily done, by ringing the bells. The more difficult stuff, real prophecy, foresight -- only a few of our line ever had those powers. Lucrezia, mostly[roman type]."
Study"[italic type]Interesting. They never let me in here. But then, Lucrezia wanted to bring the family to ruin, so perhaps that is why[roman type]."
Scarlet Tower"all old innocent recollections, playing at knights when he was still a boy, long ago."
Drawbridge"[italic type]I'm not sure you can leave just now, poppet[roman type]."
Press Room"mostly loathing and fear much stronger than your own, but whatever he knows does not come through to you."
Lie Library"[italic type]Ah, now here's an interesting little locale. Lucrezia had it built. She was always her father's daughter, you perceive. It is so powerful that it makes false the things that are brought in -- I used it once to void a lady's marriage contract --[roman type]

The thread of thought stops. [italic type]On second thought, that is not a story I am proud of[roman type]."
Records Room"[italic type]We have always retained an extraordinarily good secretary and historian. If there is any good in this damned arrangement[roman type]..."
Green Bedroom"[italic type]Remorse. Mostly strong remorse. And maybe a faint touch of resentment that things went bad so unexpectedly. That's not a thought I'm proud of[roman type]."
Empty Bedroom"[italic type]I told your father I doubted anyone would willingly trade places with him. In the whole history of my family, I don't know of a single person who has exchanged contracts, until you[roman type]. Then -- what might be your thought or might be his -- [italic type]He wasn't worth it, you know[roman type]."
Crystal Bedroom"affection, longing, guilt; amusement at your innocence and anger at your blindness; frank desire. Such a tangled, terrifying mess of emotion that you barely recognize yourself in the mirrors.

[italic type]Sorry[roman type]. The thought is sleepy and not entirely comforting."
Crystal Bedroom"just a suppressed agitation this time, and some emotions you might not be willing to call love. [italic type]I won't hurt you[roman type]."
Gilded Balcony"[italic type]Thought the cage metaphor quite unsubtle; but I thought you might like it anyway, being able to see all that distance. This room is built above the watchtower down below, you see, part of a vertical line of power[roman type]."

After going to a room when the player wears the shoes:

if in darkness, continue the action;

if the player is hurrying, continue the action;

repeat through Table of Beast Thoughts

begin;

if spot entry is location

begin;

try looking;

say "The Beast's thoughts intrude on yours, courtesy of the enchanted shoes: [reply entry][paragraph break]";

blank out the whole row;

stop the action;

end if;

end repeat;

continue the action.