Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chook (Douggy, 4)

Douggy took the headset off as his head hit the pillow ingame. He lay in the same position on the outside, and ran through a short deep-breathing and claming exercise before allowing himself to start drifting toward sleep.

He hadn't forgotten how exhausting teaching had been, which was why he typically avoided it on general principles. But Alise was there, her smile taunting him, testing his patience at every turn. Normally, he wouldn't let a woman get under his skin like that; normally, he'd start off taking control, early and often, but somehow she knew...

It didn't help that she could go out into the world and he couldn't, or that she'd been playing for a while and he hadn't. He needed to get stronger first, and to do that, he needed to be able to leave the guildhall.

He woke to the sound of footsteps coming down the hall, and cursed himself for losing track of time the night before. The headset still stared at him from where he'd left it, perched atop his chest. Normally, he rolled in his sleep, but he must have been more exhausted than he'd realized.

"I need access to the world outside the guildhall."

"No you don't." Silas didn't bother to ask why.

"Yes, I do. It would allow me to teach better if I knew what mechanisms TEACH used to instruct, and had access to them myself."

"So you want to join the full program, and start learning."

"No, I just need to know how they get taught."

"The guildhall has access to all the apparatuses that fall under your specialties within the walls, and then some. There's nothing that can't be gotten by engaging in your students inside those walls that you need to help with their lessons."

"What about psychological health?"

"What about it?"

"Can't I atleast get some scenery better than endless fog?"

"It's just aesthetic. And besides, you're in prison, remember? There's supposed to be some degree of suffering involved. Since you're not willing to rehabilitated, we have to opt for the old method of sticking you in a dreary hole in the ground and hope you want for the sun enough to get better."

Douggy rolled his eyes, grumbling "There's nothing wrong with me," under his breath.

"Don't bother trying to mumble it. The whole staff knows you don't believe there's anything wrong with you. Your belief of that beyond a shadow of a doubt is what keeps the bars on your doors and the fog at your windows. You believe that more strongly than a religious man believes in God; if you were religious, I rather imagine you'd think you were God, and your last gig did nothing to disabuse you of that notion. But now you're in here. Now you answer to me, and if I'm not God, I'm the security officer hired by God to keep an eye on you and the other inmates."

"Then I won't tutor at all. I won't help them at all. I'll stop."

Silas snorted. "No you won't. You'll go back in, you'll watch Alise when you think nobody's looking, dreaming of all the things you want to do to her but can't... oh, you didn't know? Yes, Mr Fhurr, we can see what you're doing, and she knows. Nobody had to tell her, with the way you look at women, the sneer that comes onto your face... You can't hide it in here. You can't hide it in there."

Douggy scowled. Damn him for being right.

Douggy paced the narrow hallway, ignoring the rich tapestries that insulated the walls from earthly chills and drifting sounds from the other dorms. The building was quiet, as it usually was at mealtimes, and he ran through things in his head. As he turned round the seventh or eighth time, he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye down in the room at the end, and strode over to check it out.

The room had a broad expanse of clear space with the bare stone floor showing through. At each end stood three wrapped straw-and-wood sparring dummies, well worn with nicks, dents, and loose twine. The walls were lines with sword racks and armor stands, both mostly empty but for a few stuffed padded practice sets. Dividing the room down the middle stood a waist-high row of shelves, and on the far side was a table with no chairs, just benches on each side, and still more shelves, all of which were overburdened with stored foodstuffs.

He ignored the practice floor for the moment, and crossed to the storage side, pawing through the back stock. Many bags of grain, a couple of barrels of apples and pears, some hanging racks of herbs, several pots of mushrooms, and more littered the racks. He also found a door that he couldn't see from the hall, but by the chill emanating from it, he didn't have to peak inside to know what would be found there.

A scratching close by reminded him of the movement he spotted earlier, and he spun quickly, lest he be caught off guard by someone playing a trick on him. Instead, it was a brown and dusty chicken who'd found a torn corner of a grain bag and was eating her fill.

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