Bastion (to Sette): Your father should exercise a gentler touch with such a rare item. I put all my monsters back together once I've taken them apart.
Sette (quietly, uncertainly): ...'M not a monster.
"Who's Chitz? I'll stab him."
"Ten bronze to walk over a bridge?! That's the most amazing scam I ever heard!"
"I admire it."
Matty: I bought five cinnamon sticks for a halve. That's a good deal!
(Sette swipes a cinnamon stick from him)
Sette: Free's the best deal.
"The prettiest sound in the world is the clink and clatter of coins. Da says a coin's the only companion what wears its worth on its face. It's pleased t'keep ya content and safe and fed better'n a thousand friends."
Sette (to Quigley): Your lad hates the hat you got him, he told me.
Matty (panicked): I do not!
Matty: [Awesome]! They're going to duel! Like when Duke Oliver batttled Rue Sparrow-Hawk and accidentally blew up his lady and the Window said his punishment was to spend 117 years living with the Duke in his castle beglamoured like the Duke's dead lady so the Duke wouldn't be sad. Do you follow any spell-wrights? Who's your favourite? Is your attack zombie very good? He's a tacit caster, [that's awesome]! I've never seen a real one! Let's move, I think your plod is too tall to be glamoured like us for 117 years if he blows us up!
Sette: Th...there's no time for duels! ...Are all Aldish people mad?
(Upon observing Duane getting curb stomped by Quigley's summon beast)
"I really think he's better than you! Try a mountain punch!"
Duane (to Sette): Naught would better please me than to bend you over my knee!
Sette: Oh? Oh?! And touch me hindquarters?! That's all ya ever wanted is me hindquarters! Child lover!
Duane (facepalming): You'd cure a child lover in minutes.
Upon being offered an idol of Brother Baelar:
"...Such smiles you give them."
(He sets the doll alight)
"Sober your idols in fire and douse them in tears. Then I'll take the lot."
After destroying an idol of Brother Baelar:
Peddler: H-How horrible! Riv will strike you down!
Duane: That he hasn't yet speaks poorly of his judgement.
(To Ephsephin) "I prayed to meet you again, sir. Passionately. You will lead me to those you've kidnapped...else I will take hold of the gash on your cheek and peel free that mask you call the face of a man."
Ephsephin: You talk too damn much—!
Duane: Brevity then!
(Duane throws Ephsephin into a tree)
Duane: Eat tree.
"By the six rings and the Aldish kings, you shall answer to me!"
"'Dangerous?' 'Risky?' The wrong words. This is cruel and wicked! We are not two faiths but one country united! How can we injure ourselves to — to heal a wound?!"
Thackery: Duane, [Bodie] could have you chewing broken glass by day's end—!
Duane: Better I chew it than he spit it.
"I tell you if we must bring harm to one innocent...intentionally kill even one innocent to keep all this intact... If we must, Lemuel, then I no longer understand what any of it means.
"Leysa, I'm sorry. My temper bested me. Bodie was as intolerable as you warned. Shadwe saved my hide but there was no salvaging the promotion. Even Lemuel thinks me a fool. Why must decency ever be the first thing we fling behind us when the lions give chase? I can't, Leysa, I can't. ...You deserve a shrewder man."
"Plat! Do you know arts yet? You got to help us! I— this is all some sick, illegal...thing! These guys, they call themselves the Red Berry Boys. They're kidnapping people and c-cutting them up! We're not legal slaves! [...] D'you hear me? Plat! These bastards cut a little girl up. They left her and I— I couldn't help! I couldn't help..."
"That ain't the way it should be!"
Starfish (to Quigley): You think I don't know what you are? You need my money, Plat. You're dead in five years — then what? That brat of yours is is blind, simple, and—
(Suddenly enraged, Quigley smacks him to the ground with a blast of pymary)
Starfish: Ya madsack — I'm sorry! I'm sorry!
Quigley: Don't apologize to me.
Starfish: I'm sorry, Matty! I meant nawt by it!
Quigley (to Starfish): I've been told my West Cont'nental is excellent, yet you don't seem to understand what I'm saying. [...] I'm saying no children.
Starfish: You never had any business sense, you Aldish cunt. Our client's paying us per body. We use smaller bodies that hold less product, y'see, and we win by delivering less for more. It's brilliant. Now you're askin' us to take a pass on profitability just so you can sleep better at night?
Quigley: No, Starfish. I'm asking you to piss off.
"My business is not your business, whether you ask after it in Tainish or interpretive dance."
Duane: We are not enemies! We are Aldishmen! Aumut vaosa — six years I've longed for a Tainish word from a friendly tongue!
Quigley: Keep longing.
"'Son of Alderode.' Ha, son of Alderode! I'd rather be son of a whore. Alderode is a Hell."
(Upon observing that Duane is attempting a "mountain punch")
"Ha! Does your 'core technique' always come from little girls?"
Duane: I'm no Black-Tongue!
Quigley: No, you're Alderode's dog, more of a slave than any of Starfish's cargo, and with something much nastier buried inside. Poor little patriot. What did they do to you before they kicked you out?
"Pymary is no cure for boredom; terrible for the temperament in fact. Why do you suppose [Duane] is such a grump?"
Duane: You cannot solve 1000 years of conflicting dogma and bad blood. Not the way you solve things. Now's the time for negotiations—
Lemuel: Punch another politician.
Duane: Shadwe called me the best wright he has seen in centuries.
Lemuel: Tell Leysa! I am certain it will distract her from your throwing away your opportunities again! ...What's that like, I wonder.
"A politician's ego is a lion's tail; you tweak it at your peril."
Sette (to her Da): Ya got me a fancy plod?
Bastion: A plod?
(Bastion stops playing the piano abruptly, and turns to her)
Bastion: A plod, she says. Call the weeping plague a headcold; call Kyler's second symphony a song. Call me the only man in this room with all of his teeth...but don't call Adelier a plod.
"Frummagem, your piano is wrist-slashingly out of tune."
Bastion: You must be Sette Frummagem. The most accomplished pocket-picker in Sharteshane, I'm told; betailed, betoothed, and possessed of a preternaturally potent sense of smell. How the natural philosophers might benefit from a surgical investigation of your sinuses.
Sette: Ain't no one like me in all the world.
Murkoph: ...I was dreamin' of titties and smokes. I got a powerful cravin'. Bum a smoke, bit?
Sette: I got none.
Murkoph: Nor titties, eh. Always suspected this was Hell.
Sette: Wh-what's going on?!
Murkoph: Flashback. Dream sequence. Hallucinatory rrrrevelation. Who put the little girl in the lead? Where's the plot hole you came in through, darlin'?
(To Duane) "Ya know, martyrdom's got no sting if ya can't stay dead."
"This is your hero? This?! He's nawt but posturin' and pain. Ha! One night Rector Adelier walked into a crowd of Crescians and didn't walk out again. Now he's a shamblin' epilogue, rottin' another inch each day 'case Ssael says self-slaughter's against the ruuuuules~ Plods're 'gainst the rules too, choir boy."
"Thirsty khert, long time no see.
I can't chat now I've got places to be.
Too late, you state, 'cause now I'm dead,
And you want the brew inside my head?
It's just aches and shakes, bruises and breaks;
Each friend I've lost, and all my mistakes.
I drip years of tears, decades of charades,
Liquid loneliness, greed, wars, and crusades.
Not sweet enough, khert? It sours your cup?
It's what your world gave me so drink it up."
Duane teetered. With every strike mad visions burst behind his eyes. His grandfather teaching him to duel like a gentleman, to be a tacit caster that foes wouldn’t just fear but respect. His father teaching him how to work the presses, lay the type, trim the sheets, roll the ink, and be in all ways a man that his ghers would value. Lemuel asking— begging for a reassurance that his older brother didn’t hate him for killing their mother when he was born. What had it been like when she died? Had Duane seen the khert open wide to embrace her?
[Duane] saw Belarus, shrieking and white, dissolving into the night like snow on a child’s tongue. With the sudden fragility of gossamer the Plat oozed back into the khert that had birthed him sixteen years ago; pulled apart, embraced, and wrenched from reality with the fierce unrelenting of the Dammakhert’s unforgiving love.
Sarthos: What was it like when you fell in love with pymary? You fell in love and it loved you in return. The world glowed merry and bright until you mentioned your love to your family - your ghers - and they turned out the light. For you the cause was money, perhaps, and for me it was my sex. Were either any fault of our own?
Duane: The khert places us where we need to be.
Sarthos: Your patron put you where you needed to be. The khert dissolves us if someone says the right words and points our way. The khert is cruel.
Questioner: Why is it called "Duane and Sette" and not "Sette and Duane"?
Sette: THE BEST QUESTION.
Questioner: Sette, have you ever felt a slight but possible spark of romance between you and Duane? Maybe some time in the future? You can have me killed for asking about possibility of romance between you, it was totaly worth asking anyway.
Sette: ...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.
Questioner: Sette, as somebody who can't smell, I am in awe of your awesome nose.
Sette: 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!
Duane: SETTE. Sir, I understand your plight. I can neither smell nor taste and it does make for a grey existence.
Sette: You can't smell either? FREAKS FREAKS FREAKS. AAAAAH!
Questioner: If I wanted a hug, would you give me one?
Duane: She will pinch your wallet.
Questioner: Hey Sette, what's the coolest thing you've ever stolen?
Sette: 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.
Duane: 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.
Sette: These persons is dim as dogs.
Questioner: 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!
Questioner: Sette, what did you do to Ephsephin?
Sette: Nawt you can prove me guilty of in a court've justice!
Questioner: Hey Sette, what did Ephsephin taste like?
Sette: Whiskers and fear.
Questioner: Duane, which particular area of pymary do you find you enjoy studying or practicing the most?
Duane: 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.
Questioner: Duane, what is the kindest thing you've seen Sette do since your journey began?
Duane: 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.
Questioner: If Cara wasn't Aldish, would you have been so eager to help her?
Duane: Were you at hand, I would break your jaw.
Questioner: If the khert is repelled by water, how is there life in the ocean? Life requires the khert to function, correct?
Duane: 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.
Questioner: 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?
Duane: 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.
Questioner: 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?
Duane: I would feel naught for they would have had to slay me in the doing of it.
Questioner: 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.
Duane: You realise these queries first pass through me, do you not? Get thee gone ere I fetch your mother.
Questioner: Duane, do you ever think that you might have angered Ssael in order to warrant receiving... well, Sette?
Duane: I am afraid you confuse Ssael for one of the primitive, petty gods of the Gefendur.
Questioner: Dammit, Duane! As soon as I'm done beating my kid, I'm coming back for a rematch! —Love, Quigley
Questioner: When's the best time to take a nap?
Duane: I have three jobs, two children, and one wife; I have forgotten what a "nap" is.
Questioner: Rector Adelier, what was the first thing you thought when you met your lovely wife?
Duane: "I am not and shall never be worthy."
Questioner: What if Mikaila tried to help Will with his pymary?
Duane: God help us all.
Questioner: If you wouldn't mind entertaining a bit of fancy, Rector: if you had the ability to be born into any caste, which would it be, and why?
Duane: I am content with my lot. Would I have won my wife and met my children as another man in a different skin? If you cannot assure me of it, I've little interest in your fancies.
Questioner: Has Mikaila ever asked you if she could get a vliegeng or some type of pet?
Duane: We have already cycled through two squirrels and a rabbit. The rabbit was the last. Mikaila swore to me the creature was set upon by a hound but it had all the marks of having been detonated from within. Of course if it was indeed the victim of a pymary experiment gone awry I could hardly punish the lass when she was already weeping fit to blind herself. I fear one day she will explode her infant brother. I will not be able to so blithely bury him in a hatbox in the garden.
Questioner: 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?
Duane: 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.
Questioner: What part of Ssaelism do you find the most challenging?
Duane: 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.
"This nice kid I met he's named Matty.
He ain't so bad, just real chatty.
And I guess it's all right
That his hair is all white,
But one day I might punch out his daddy."
"Storms and many other meteorological happenings in Kasslyne are the fault of anthropomorphic instances of the wind and the water. These elemental beauties live pleasurable existences unseen in the atmosphere and in the oceans, carried by fate's erratic currents, drowning in the dreams of beetles, peoples, and streams. Now and then, though, errant strands of thought-stuff rouse them from their stupors: family arguments, the struggling of a baby bear in a trap, the shriek of trees cut down and women raped and children killed. The elementals wake up and, to distract themselves from the wickedness of the world or maybe to counteract it, they make love to each other.
The winds kick up and dart into the waves and the waves cavort and laugh and thrust into the sky. Stormclouds gather, the barometer drops, and a million glistening rain-pellets are born from the empyrean. Salacious lightning parts the pearly-grey thighs of thunderheads. The water women shake their foamy tresses and the wind witches (who are mostly male) stab cold hail and eager waterspouts into the acquiescing breakers. Thus, storms.
Now, humans are wise and humans are wicked. The wisest and ofttimes the wickedest humans are wrights. Pymary wasn't yet an old art when wrights discovered nature's whorish ways and thought to control them. Methods were found to condense and cut the vapourous wind, and to solidify and stupefy the slippery water women. Soon elementals were rare in the wild, kept instead in cages and made to rut when it was convenient for man.
Sometimes sailors claim they still catch a glimpse of a female face in the scud, or a mountaineer will swear he feels the cold push of arms in a blustering gale that keeps him from tumbling off a cliff, but these sightings are always related in hushed voices. The wind and the water are hunted things still, and those who love them won't give them away."
"It's like, the entire world is made of sand and soil, the khert is the sea and wind constantly battering it, dispersing it, moving it around, but First Materials are solid diamond embedded in that sand and cannot be worn away."
Questioner: I've been wondering, why did you name the comic Unsounded?
Ashley: "By heaven, man, we are turned round and round in this world, like yonder windlass, and Fate is the handspike. And all the time, lo! that smiling sky, and this unsounded sea!" - Moby-Dick
Something unsounded hasn't been plumbed yet. You don't know how deep it is or what's at the bottom. It's an unknown - like Death, like the limits of a man, like God, like eternity.