[DVFP] New Digs (S 5.2)

After a few hours of packing up, you, Reese, and Fleece walk with Horse past the Barracks, those huge squat buildings with men and women training with weapons and fighting, all looking intense. You pass through the opening in the palace walls that is guarded by five of The Fat Man's soldiers. The opening has the housing for the hinges of a pair of large doors, but they're gone now, the concrete ripped and pitted.

Inside the palace walls is an ocean of green grass, Sierra. Wonder shows on Reese's face, and in the heat of this place, the sheer amount of water needed for this upkeep is astonishing. There are paintings along the interior walls of mountains and streams and wildlife, so realistic, almost like a trideo documentary. The beauty of the lawn and the paintings are marred by divots to the right of the entrance. As you travel down the path, there are barely visible bloodstains close to the palace gates, too.

Ahead is the mansion, which is covered in a myriad of tarps and blankets, hiding what must have happened here before you came back from Cyberville. There is a unit of soldiers marching around the outside of the palace itself, tromping on the grounds even more, but it can't be helped "for security's sake".


  • I can't help it, I lean down with my hand spread and parallel to the ground, to graze the grass. Real grass. Unbidden, a different day, different grass under my fingertips, a picnic and gazing through sun speckled trees creeps to focus. With a pang, and in an attempt to focus on this moment, I rip a few blade and bring them to my nose.

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    Fleece scowls, "Such a waste of water." She says it plainly, not hiding it from Horse. Reese looks a warning to her. Still, it bothers her. "We could grow so many crops with this." She looks ahead to the palace, "Can't believe how much Gigg did to this place. Amazing."

    "Well," Horse says from behind you. "He's good and dead. Fippers blew him to an early release. You should've seen his face. I don't even know how that fugger breathed, much less walked and talked. No wonder he wore that fuggin mask." Horse's tone is a mix of disgust and fear.

    The guards at the front entrance to the palace move aside and Horse pulls back a tarp to lead you into this room:
    The windows are covered with bright blue tarp and over half the lights are out. There are bullet holes in the walls and five workers are in here patching those walls, on ladders with equipment and stucco, working away.
    "Sierra," Horse says after clearing his throat, "You want something to eat? The dining room is in good shape. The kitchen's at the back of the house, it was barely touched."

    "Hey Horse," Reese says, ignoring that Horse didn't ask him about food or anything else. "I heard The Fat Man has a library here? I know See would like to check that out." He licks his lips, wiping some sweat off his brow. "I mean... I wouldn't mind it, either."

  • I let the grass fall from my fingertips as I stand. Fleece is right. Of course she's right, we could do so much more with these resources. I feel suddenly guilty for enjoying it, no matter how briefly.

    Gigg. So, this is what he was capable of. I never would have thought...

    I give her an apologetic look aso we move inside. I'm about to suggest food for everyone when Reese mentions the library.

    "Oh, yes please. I'd love to see that. I'm sure we all would."
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    This is the ground floor of the palace:
    Horse leads you down a hallway past an open courtyard that is currently closed off (too hot outside). There are people here, all dressed in clean clothes, some working on fixing bullet holes or sweeping up glass or other debris, some seem to be guests, and they are either reading or relaxing. There's a tension here, Sierra. You know how to read postures, and people are playing along like everything's okay. It's not. They're scared.

    Horse opens the door to the library.
    "Oh." Fleece is the first to react. "I'd almost forgotten the smell of the books here." She heads straight for a section of the library, probably the medical section, you'd guess. She pulls a thick green tome with gold letters down and hauls it to the desk to open it up.

    Reese shifts his weight onto his good leg, mouth agape. He's never seen this many books, Sierra. It's a moment. "This. Wow. I... I could never read all this." He seems too struck to actually approach any of the shelves, hanging by the door where a disinterested Horse stands.
  • Farathoom, it's tense, everyone is here to show face, not because they want to be. I keep my head up, looking like I belong, smiling at those who make the attempt to smile back at me. Then we near the library and I can smell them before the door opens.

    When it does, my heart does and fraking flip. "Oh my..."

    Like most grand things in the DVFP, it's not the grandest library I've seen, but here, it's glorious. I grab Reese's hand, "Well, the only way to try is to start. Let's find you something."
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    Reese lets you pull him along towards the books. They're organized by genre, then by author. Some allowances seem to have been made from authors who cross genres. No reference books, everything's fiction with sections for specific non-fiction. Where do you guide Reese first, and what do you pick out for him?
  • edited March 2017
    My fingertips graze the spines of the books as I look for the Section I'm most interested in. They feel cool underneath my skin, they are almost all hardcovers, many leather bound, gorgeous volumes. If June hadn't said anything, this surely would be a tip off - Gryphon or Grendel have to be fronting him, somehow. But, why?

    Huh. Gryphon, doesn't the Fat Man's sigil have a Gryphon? I bite my lip in thought till I come across Tolkien - Fantasy. Perfect.

    "How about a story about how stories never end and heroes never die. Where a unicorn becomes a girl, and love is sacrificed? It's also very funny."

    I pull down the red leather version, the gold embossed unicorn bright on thebcover. The words The Last Unicorn, Peter Beagle stamped on opposite end into the volume. I hand it to Reese.

    I'm feeling weirdly useless in here. Even withave a wall between us, the tension from those outside is weirdly deafening.

    I pat Reese's hand and walk back to the door. Intent to go outside to where the others are if Horse does not stop me.
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    Reese opens the book with reverence, moving over to sit in a chair.
    Horse mistakes your approach. "I can get them set up with their tasks and digs later. You want to head down to see your room, Miss Sierra?" He opens the door for you. The hallway's lit brightly by the sunlight spilling in from the courtyard.
    What do you do?
  • edited March 2017
    I look at him and smile, "In a bit perhaps, tell me is there a piano on this floor." Head Down? So, I'm being placed in a lower level. "I'd like Fleece and Reese placed close if possible, as well."

    I walk out to the hallway and look around, who looks the most inviting?
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    You'll need to Manipulate Horse to get both Fleece and Reese in rooms near you. On a 7-9, choose which one is close.

    Horse leads you down the hall to the music room. Inside is a stand-up player piano and a harp. What instrument in this room nearly takes your breath away and why?

    What do you do?
  • Rolling... And XP!

    (Rolled: 2d6+3 . Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 12)
  • edited March 2017
    The harp is phenomenal and it's so out of place in the DVFP it takes my breath away. Gilded, with an intricate wood carving that reminds me of the harp in Gloriana's johnny and the bean stalk storybook. How many harpists, other than me, are residing in the DVFP? It's the excess that seems zaridann.

    Of course, the piano is gorgeous, as are the myriad of other instruements. The violin looks particularly mesmorizing, shiney and well taken care of, but I don't know why it's drawing my interest. I haven't played a violin in years.

    I take another look around the room, reading the stress in the lines of their bodies. Something calming then. I go to the harp, excited to feel the taught strings under my fingertips. I gently test the strings, finding them mostly in tune. I adjust two quickly before starting into a lullaby.

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    "I can get them both on your floor" Horse answers. "I'll need to shuffle some people around, though. I'll be back in a few, stay on this floor. Please." After a moment of watching you move around the instruments, he leaves to head "down" to work out who stays where. Leaving you alone to play.
    When you strum the harp and begin to sing, four people drift into the room from outside, drawn by the music, the sheer unexpected magic of it. By the time your song is done, all the workers on this side of the mansion have stopped working to listen, most of them moving so they can watch you.

    The last note echoes, and then it is silent. They are listening. Waiting. Expressions of wonder, some with reverence. Women, children, men, some beautiful, others with hard-worn features. Fleece and Reese have come, too. They gave up their books to listen, to watch you play.

    What do you do?
  • Sometimes, I wonder if Gloriana was right to keep me locked away. It's moments like this, where I see the impact of what I am on others. The lack of will, some of them have. And it makes me wonder...

    I can feel the goose flesh rising up my arms at the thought. So I concentrate on the kids. I smile at them and strum a quick wave on the harp - people always liked that. By the time I'm done I've settled on a song.

    The song has a long instrumental bit in the middle that just sounds amazing on the harp. I strum the higher notes, checking them one final time before beginning...

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    The strum gets a giggle from a young boy who has been creeping closer moment by moment. He's a worker, used for his small hands and agile young body to pick bullets out of the walls. His hands are white with the dust from the walls. Near him is a young girl with pigtails wearing a pink dress. She looks familiar somehow. You play the next song, and the entire floor has stopped working now. Easily thirty people are huddled in here or standing right outside. The children have moved closer, inches away. A wide-eyed boy who reminds you of Winkle, he touches your foot, just puts his hand there like it's the most important thing in the world, to touch you.

    The last notes echoing in the room, one of the men in the back clears his throat, humbly asking, "Another? Something... happy?" Reese shakes his head "no", like the crowd's starting to worry him a little.

    What do you do?
  • I relieve the burden of the harp from my shoulder, standing it up bright. I play a quick game with my foot and the little boy. Trying to catch his fingers with the tip of my boot. Always letting him win, before standing.

    " I'm tired, but perhaps later. Thank you all for listening." I stand gracefully. I scan the crowd, who looks influential? Or somebody that I should speak to?
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    One of the workers is a wiry older man with hard eyes and a number of tattoos. When you say you're tired, he starts getting folks back to work. He looks like he might be some kind of foreman.
    Also, there's a striking young man here who looks nearly as delicate as a Gryphon fawn.
  • edited March 2017
    I smile as Reese, let him and Fleece know I saw them and understood them, before making my way over to the boy. I sit in a chair next to him, a smile on my face.

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    In a gentle voice, the fawn replies, "Attlevey, derisann." He turns his hand in a court gesture, it seems instinctive and natural to him. He moves over to sit on the floor at your feet.
  • I boggle at his demeanor. He's suggesting we are not equals. I've never seen a servant treat me that way before.

    "Ooma, please don't. We are equals are we not?"
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    He looks at you for a long moment like he's trying to find the puzzle in your words. Finally, he decides you are testing his temerity. "No. We are not. You are insumatt. I am onk. I am thalldrap. I am blessed to be in your presence." He settles by your feet quietly. "Our benefactor will be most pleased with you."
  • I lick my lips, I've seen this a hundred times. But, it's never been directed at me. "I'm no Lady or Magistrate, gentle fawn. You need not act so with me." I smile, touching his hairnlightly. "Tell me your name. How did you end up here?"
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    The fawn demurs for a moment, but answers when you watch him and wait. "I am called Koray. I was... I was sent here by my Magistrate because I am a useless floop. Our benefactor saved me from becoming chum, and I am eternally grateful."
  • I continue to pet his hair lightly, as I've seen others do. "Do you know him well then? Do you think he'll like my playing?
  • edited March 2017
    Koray chews the inside of his cheek, considering the question as he leans into the petting, obviously enjoying it and also used to the affection from long ago. After a few moments, he answers quietly, "Yes and no. He's normally very appreciative of entertainment. But sometimes, he is darker. Closed off. He is perhaps... a man with more than one mind?" Koray says this very quietly, speaking of mental illness is very forbidden, even though fawns are notorious gossips.
  • I Humm softly when he says that, it's not surprising, but it does change the game. "Koray, do you know of some way I could appeal to his better nature? Or appeal to his darker one, either does me the service of showing my gratitude."
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    "His better nature may not be interested in you as much as one like me." Koray says with a falsely modest smile as the foreman of the workers starts urging everyone to return to their duties. Koray scoots closer so his shoulder brushes against your leg. "His darker nature likes power. You are a powerful tool, a symbol of power to him, I think. So pretty. So talented and refined. He must be proud to have you."
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    I smile at him gently, to show I take no offense. I make myself blush when he gives me a compliment, fawns so like to see they have an effect. "Thank you, Koray. I imagine he is very proud of you as well." I don't like the way he says have you but it's true. It's the deal I made. I must find a way to be useful, not just valuable.

    If this one is in his bed though, perhaps... I play with his scalp. "Were you with him, when he listened to my performance the other day?"

    OOC: Angling for hypnotism
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    Everyone else has returned to work, and Horse comes back to escort Fleece to "the clinic". Reese remains behind, keeping an eye on you without trying to look like he's watching over you.
    Koray's eyes flutter as you play with his scalp and he utters a tiny sigh of pleasure. "When you sang at High Rent?" he asks, clarifying. "Oh yes, we were together then. Your voice was as triumphant then as it was now. You are a wonder, Sierra. I did not realize he would want you then, but I should have guessed." His right hand idly pets your foot, not daring to touch further.
    Why yes, you can attempt to hypnotize him.
  • edited March 2017
    He's a lovely thing. I concentrate on my hands on his scalp, pushing my will through them. "What a sweet Groshing thing to say."

    I smile down at him, and say in our quiet tones. "I hope you will let me know, keeper of his better nature, if there is ever anything I can do to aid our benefactor."

    OOC: Rolling to hypnotize...

    (Rolled: 2d6+3 . Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 12)
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    "Oh yes, of course." Koray says softly as he leans into your leg while sitting at your feet. "We must keep him happy, help him rule well. There's no room for petty jealousies in his court." He rubs his face gently against your knee, almost hugging it, "Even if there were, I am fond of you already." He closes his eyes as you scratch at his scalp a little more. "You have a fabulous room... it will make you happy to see, I'm sure."
  • I smile, chuckling at his puppy-like antics. "I am already fond of you as well, Koray."

    I look around to see if Horse is back, if so, I should probably get settled in. "I'm sure it's quite derisann. Everything here is. I do look forward to getting settled in."
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    Horse comes back, but Fleece doesn't. He gestures for you and Reese to follow, and heads towards the Great Room. Koray bids you a good day and gets up to head off wherever he was before, and Reese walks with you. You walk through the Great Room, into the kitchen where three women are working on meals over hot stoves, then through the laundry room where there is the first washing machine and dryer you've seen in DVFP. Horse walks like this is just a thing here, but Reese looks at it like it's a treasure room.

    Finally Horse opens the door to a master bedroom, and closes the door once you've entered. It's well appointed and empty and has a feeling of being permanently empty, like it's for show. Horse heads towards the walk-in closet and puts his hand on a plate to the right-hand side. Moments later, the closet doors open up, and you see the interior of an elevator. Horse steps inside, holds the door open for you.
  • I really wish Fleece was here. I want to hold her hand, I just want her gentle strength bolstering me. Or June. June would be right there, reminding me of what I need to do. On my own, even with Reese, I feel a little in the wind.

    "Where is Fleece?" I ask, Horse as he leads me past the washing machines. Washing Machines in the DVFP. It's... it's completely zaridann. There is absolutely no way this place runs off of some power source they magically found here. That would be... now I am acting tosky.

    It's amazing all of the technology here, the secrecy. When the elevator doors open I step in and wait for Reese to follow. "How many people know about the lower level? Is it something we should keep to ourselves?"
  • edited March 2017

    "The doctor is organizing her stuff." Horse answers as Reese steps into the elevator. Horse punches one of four buttons. Four levels. And there is a place for a key, too, so possibly more? The doors close and elevator starts moving. "You should not discuss anything about the palace with anyone. While you're safe from The Feed here, The Fat Man has eyes everywhere outside. If you violate the sanctity of this place, you won't live long to brag about it."
    Reese shifts uncomfortably, he does not like that threat at all. He doesn't say anything about it, not yet, but you know there's probably going to be a conversation later. The doors open on the second level, and you see a long hallway like this:
    Horse leads you down the hall to the third room on the right, pulls a key from a key ring on his belt, and opens it.
    bedroom You see your things are stacked neatly just inside the door.
    "There's a shower behind that mirror on the right. No tub, sorry. The wall on the right hides your closet." He steps inside to move the wall aside to demonstrate. The entire wall glides along smoothly revealing feet and feet of space. There's even a tower for shoes, and you see dozens of shoes already there. "There are some clothes already in here you can use. If you don't like them, let a member of the staff know and they'll take them away." The clothes range from frilly dresses to gowns, all very feminine. Horse pauses, not used to playing tour guide, "The Fat Man will send for you when he wants you. Otherwise, you have the run of this floor and aboveground. Do you need anything?"
  • I balk a bit, allow my surprise to show. "Mr. Horse, I hope you aren't insinuating that I would ever give up the secrets of our benefactor. I simply meant the people who live and work here. If I were to befriend anyone, is my room a secret, or for those who are also residents, may they know where I live?" And in Gloriana's name, does everyone know about the feed here? It's like - in the Irons I had to keep from sounding the fool. It seems quite the opposite now.

    It seems I will never get a tub. I shake my head to myself, that should not be an issue I worry about. Another memory, another bath, and Esco's sweet treatment of me comes to my foremind. Something like guilt rises in my chest and I push it aside.

    I take a quick look through the outfits, most will need at least minor changes. "Can I see a seamstress, when one is next available?"
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    "Other residents? You can tell them. Any of the workers on the ground floor, they're off limits. They live in Depot, and the boss has had trouble with them before, so best to keep quiet among 'em. There's a tailor here, he works for the boss. His name's Grome." He claps Reese on the back, "Come on, Reese, I'll show you your bunk. You're sharing a room with some of the other guard."
  • I nod in thanks. "Please send for him, when you can."

    I pat Reese's on the shoulder, smiling at him. "I'll see you soon."
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    Horse and Reese both leave. And you're alone. Completely alone. Twenty feet underground. No cameras anywhere. There's a low hum of electricity, but the room, your room, is otherwise quiet.

    What do you do?
  • edited March 2017
    It's... it's been a while, a long while, since I have felt alone. It's been even longer since I have actually been alone. I take the few minutes it takes to hang my clothes, the dress I had made looks paltry next to the ones already in the closet - the other dresses I had, they aren't even worth mentioning.

    I take a shower, a hot shower and luxuriate as long as I can stand to under the spray. I have to figure out how this is all happening, under Gloriana's watch, without her permission. It seems impossible to me, but what it really is, is proof, proof that Gloriana isn't all powerful, all seeing.

    My hair dry, my oils re-applied, I lay down on the satin bed cover naked and bury my head into the pillows.


    Alone and clean and free. Free of the feed, free of her gaze. I finally do what I have been trying desperately not to. I cry.
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    End Scene
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