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Quiss and the other innocents of Mordant
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terisa became very perceptive (*) but isn't she underestimating the Domnes here? If they could bridge the divide with Nyle once they understood everything, how couldn't they heal Geraden no matter how awkwardly the truth was told?


(*) actually Terisa was always exceptionally perceptive. She just didn't know how to act on her perceptions.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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"My lady Terisa of Morgan, this is the Domne."

Through the gloom, Terisa saw that the Domne was a tall man, as lean and curved as an axe handle. He had Geraden's face, and Aratagel's, and Nyle's, but more so in someway, as if they were attractive yet inaccurate copies of him. The Hair on his head was thick, but he had no beard. The silver streaks at his temples were the only obvious signs of his age. Perhaps because the light was weak, he didn't appear to be more than half as old as King Joyse.

The leg propped on the stool was plump with bandages. He had a pair of canes nearby, but he made no attempt to rise when Quiss introduced him. Instead, he said, "My lady," in a voice as warm as a hug, "you're welcome in Houseldon--and in my house. If we could do it, we would put on a feast for you, a celebration. But I'm afraid we're a little too busy. Geraden seems to think we might be attacked. That doesn't happen every day, and we may have to brace ourselves.



The Domne's description was interesting. While Joyce and Tor's (and Alend and Cadwal Monarchs) bodies are wrecks, Domne looks very well preserved. A testament to his loving, peaceful acceptance of the world and its people. He's criticized for his refusal to fight but he's probably the better man for that and his life, family and very body give testament to that.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shadowbinding shoe wrote:
Terisa became very perceptive (*) but isn't she underestimating the Domnes here? If they could bridge the divide with Nyle once they understood everything, how couldn't they heal Geraden no matter how awkwardly the truth was told?


(*) actually Terisa was always exceptionally perceptive. She just didn't know how to act on her perceptions.


Terisa may indeed be underestimating the Domne's ability to heal Geraden's spirit. Nevertheless she may be right in her thinking that Geraden should tell his family what's bothering rather than a third party (Terisa) doing so, as Geraden talking about it may speed up his healing process. Having said that, I'm admitting to just guessing, as I am no trained psychologist.

You are right that Terisa is perceptive, SS, and it's a quality that makes her a good viewpoint character, despite her blunders and lack of self-assurance.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shadowbinding shoe wrote:
Quote:
"My lady Terisa of Morgan, this is the Domne."

Through the gloom, Terisa saw that the Domne was a tall man, as lean and curved as an axe handle. He had Geraden's face, and Aratagel's, and Nyle's, but more so in someway, as if they were attractive yet inaccurate copies of him. The Hair on his head was thick, but he had no beard. The silver streaks at his temples were the only obvious signs of his age. Perhaps because the light was weak, he didn't appear to be more than half as old as King Joyse.

The leg propped on the stool was plump with bandages. He had a pair of canes nearby, but he made no attempt to rise when Quiss introduced him. Instead, he said, "My lady," in a voice as warm as a hug, "you're welcome in Houseldon--and in my house. If we could do it, we would put on a feast for you, a celebration. But I'm afraid we're a little too busy. Geraden seems to think we might be attacked. That doesn't happen every day, and we may have to brace ourselves.



The Domne's description was interesting. While Joyce and Tor's (and Alend and Cadwal Monarchs) bodies are wrecks, Domne looks very well preserved. A testament to his loving, peaceful acceptance of the world and its people. He's criticized for his refusal to fight but he's probably the better man for that and his life, family and very body give testament to that.


The Domne's spirit does seem to be preserving his body, and there's no doubt he loves life. It may be that this refusal to fight against enemies, and instead concentrating on all the things he is for, is what is sustaining him. Tholden might well not end up being the Domne for many more years.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shadowbinding shoe wrote:
If they could bridge the divide with Nyle once they understood everything, how couldn't they heal Geraden no matter how awkwardly the truth was told?


Concerning Nyle, it would seem that his own family's treatment of him only served to increase his discontent:

In The Mirror Of Her Dreams Chapter 20 was wrote:
"Then--" Artagel stared at the ceiling while the lines in his face got deeper, cut by what he remembered. "Then he told me how much he admired me. I was his hero--I was always his hero. The first thing he could remember about his own life was wanting to be like me. But he just didn't have the balance, or the reflexes. And his muscles refused to develop the right kind of strength for a longsword.

"And everybody in the family seemed to be content with him the way he was, when the way he was wasn't what he wanted. Having his parent and his brothers content with him did nothing except make his heart ache. Nobody expected him to be good at anything. They were proud of me. And they were ambitious for you. They wanted you to marry Elega and become a great Imager. But nobody wanted anything from him. Or for him."

Swallowing hard, Artagel stopped.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Terisas was moderately hungry, but she couldn't force herself to tackle all that food. These people were seriously considering the necessity of hiding their women and children in a beer cellar while Houseldon was destroyed. Facing Tholden, she said, "Ask me something. Let me help."

Tholden met her gaze squarely. "When Geraden got here yesterday, he thought we were going to be attacked almost immediately. Now he says we've got time to plan our defense. As long as you're here, he thinks Master Eremis doesn't have any reason to attack us right away. What do you think?"

Without hesitation, she said, "I think he's wrong."

The Domne cocked an eyebrow. His mouth full of yams, he asked, "Why?"

"I don't think he realizes how dangerous he is. Or how dangerous Eremis thinks he is. Eremis has been working hard for a long time now to keep him from understanding his own talent. And he's tried to have him killed. I don't think Eremis will believe he's safe until Geraden is dead."

"That's speculation," murmured Tholden.

"This isn't." Terisa spoke with the confidence of a woman who had been able to outthink Castellan Lebbick. "Eremis can't possibly know how Geraden's feeling. And he can't possibly know there aren't any mirrors here. Now that Geraden knows what his talent is, Eremis has to be afraid of being attacked himself.

"And that's not all. Geraden thinks Eremis will postpone attacking Houseldon until after he's done with Orison. But the last thing he was doing in Orison was refilling the reservoir. That doesn't sound like a man with a trap ready to spring. It sounds like a man who wants to help Orison fight off Prince Kragen until Cadwal is in position.

"If I'm right, Eremis has time to strike at you right now.

"And he knows I'm here." This had to be said, although it was difficult for her. The Domne and his son needed to know the extent of their danger. "Master Gilbur saw the mirror change. He knows I've discovered my talent, too. He knows I can go anywhere in Mordant--or Cadwal or Alend, for that matter--if I just know what it looks like. If I just know how to visualize it. I couls show up in his rooms some night when he's asleep and nail him to the bed.

"He's not just afraid of Geraden. He's afraid of me."

He needs to be afraid of me. I'm going to make him afraid of me. Somehow.

The Domne continued to eat without any obvious concern; but Tholden watched Terisa with growing chagrin on his face. When she was done, he muttered as if no one were listening to him, "Sheepdung. I'm not used to this myself. I'm not Artagel--I never wanted to be a soldier. What am I supposed to do?"

The Domne put down his knife and fork. "What are you doing?"

Tholden made a dismissive gesture. "You know what. Wester is sending farmers and their families here as fast as he can talk them into it. Every empty hogshead and barrel we've got is being filled with water and positioned around the stockade, in case of fire. Every pitchfork and scythe and axe in Houseldon is being sharpened." Shortly, a frantic look came into his eyes, and his hands knotted on the table in front of him; but he kept his voice steady. "Banquettes are being knocked together inside the wall, so that anyone with a bow will have a place to stand. Minick--and Geraden, I hope--are laying out lines of retreat. They're trying to explain to the men with bows how to retreat--how to use the houses for cover, how to set ambushes.

"What good is that going to do against Imagery?"

Listening to him, Terisa understood how he felt.

The Domne was undismayed, however. "Who knows?" he said calmly. "I don't. I can't see the future.

"But I can see you're the right man for the job. You've already thought of things that wouldn't have occurred to me. You'll think of more. If Artagel were here, he wouldn't be able to defend Houseldon any better."

Tholden wasn't convinced. With a sour snort, he asked, "Is this what you call selling your soul at the word of one of your sons?"

At that, the Domne sat up straighter in his chair; his eyes flashed. "Tholden, I know you think you're a grown man, but you still aren't too old to be punished for disrespect. Maybe I'm only your father, and half crippled as well, but I'm still man enough to prune your apricots within an inch of their lives. Consider that before you risk being pert with me."

Involuntarily, Tholden smiled. His beard rustled on his chest. Nevertheless his eyes remained full of trouble, and his smile didn't last long. Too worried to sit where he was, he pushed himself up from the table. "Excuse me, Terisa," he murmured. "I'm afraid you'll have to eat lunch without my help. I've lost my appetite."

With the hunched gait of a man who was accustomed to ducking under doorways and low ceiling, he left the house.

The Domne watched him go and sighed. "You don't know it, Terisa," he commented after Tholden was gone, "but those are the saddest words anyone has said in my house for a long time. 'I've lost my appetite.' I hope you aren't planning to tell me the same thing."

Terisa meant to say, Yes. The pile of food on the platter daunted her. The size and consequences of the danger she and Geraden had brought to Houseldon daunted her. Yet the way the Domne looked at her seemed so warm and companionable, so willing to accept whatever she represented, that when she opened her mouth the word which came out was, "No."

He smiled approvingly as she lifted her fork to sample Quiss' panbread and gravy.

For several minutes while she ate a little of everything on the platter, he sat in silence, gazing out into the sunshine through the nearest window. She had the impression that he was waiting for her to finsh; but he didn't seem impatient. In fact, he appeared quite content to look out on the street and nod amiably at anyone who caught his eye. If war was coming to Houseldon, it didn't show on the face of the Domne. Geaden had said of him, The things he values most don't need to be fought for because they can't be hurt. Yet Terisa wasn't sure that was accurate. Despite his look of contentment, she thought he cared deeply about a number of things which could be hurt very easily.


I do think the Domne is putting on a brave, optimistic front, as Terisa suspects. Inside, I think he is almost as worried as Tholden, but he is enough at peace with himself to accept that they are doing as much as can be done for defense at the moment. And of course, his confidence in Tholden turns out not to be misplaced.

Wester is sending farmers and their families here as fast as he can talk them into it. This is the only part of Tholden's actions that I tend to question. Would it not be better to keep people away from Houseldon if they don't live there?
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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At that, the Domne sat up straighter in his chair; his eyes flashed. "Tholden, I know you think you're a grown man, but you still aren't too old to be punished for disrespect. Maybe I'm only your father, and half crippled as well, but I'm still man enough to prune your apricots within an inch of their lives. Consider that before you risk being pert with me."


That made me chuckle. Is this a metaphor for something else or is Tholden's orchard truly in danger of overpruning? (always hated city workers who come to trim trees and vegetation 'just a little bit' to protect a power line or the like and leave behind nothing but barren trunks. Maybe Donaldson had similar traumatic experience?)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha, I always took it literally myself. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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When she put down her utensils to indicate that she was done, he glanced over at her, then returned his gaze to the window. In a relaxed way, as if he were continuing an earlier conversation, he asked, "What was your impression of Nyle?"

Her stomach knotted around the food she had just eaten. Cautiously, she countered, "What did Geraden tell you?"

The Domne's manner disarmed anxiety. "That you think Nyle is still alive. That this Master Eremis still wants to use him against us. That's not what I want to know. What did you think of him? How is he?"

Because the answer was painful, she said shortly, "He's miserable."

"Ah," sighed the Domne as if he had both expected and feared her reply.

This time, she let herself say, "I don't blame him. Everything he believed that got him into trouble--everything about King Joyse and Orison and Elega and Prince Kragen--it was all plausible. King Joyse has been working for years, setting himself up to be betrayed. Nyle was just unlucky enough to fall into the trap--the same trap Elega fell into herself. He believed what his King wanted him to believe."

Ignoring the Domne's reputation as one of the King's dearest friends, she went on. "He's really just a victim. Eremis probably would never have been able to get his hands on Nyle if Nyle hadn't been stuck in the dungeon with nowhere to turn for hope."

If anything she said offended the Domne, however, he didn't show it. "Families," he murmured mildly. "They are endlessly interesting. Elega and her father. Geraden and Nyle. Sometimes I think the fate of the world depends on how people feel about their families.

"What sort of family do you come from, Terisa? Did you have sisters? Not six sisters, by any chance?"

The idea was so absurd that she almost laughed aloud. "No, Da. I was an only child."

He looked at her again, more sharply this time. "Do you mean to say that after you your parents were able to restrain their enthusiasm for children? Were you that bad? Or were you so good that any other child would be a disappointment?"

"No," she answered as candidly as she could. "I was an accident. My father sure didn't have time for children. And he didn't want my mother to have time either."

"'Didn't have time'?" Abruptly, the Domne pushed his sore leg off the stool. Grimacing, he shifted the position of the stool so that he could face her more directly, then heaved his leg back onto it. Propped straight with his elbows on the table, he asked, "What vital and consuming work did your father do, that he 'didn't have time for children'?"

Unsure of where the discussion was headed--and uncomfortable because she was always uncomfortable when she talked about her parents--Terisa replied briefly, "He made money."

Odd how both she and the Domne were speaking of her father in the past tense. But she thought about him in the past, as part of something which wasn't true anymore.

"For what purpose?" inquired the Domne.

She shrugged. "To make more money. I don't think he had any other reason for doing it. He did it because that was what he was good at." She thought about conversations she had overheard from the dining room while she sat out of sight on the stairs, listening when her parents thought she had gone to bed. "Money was the best way to get things that weren't his. Social standing. Political influence." Then she remembered some of the valets her father had hired. "Muscle."

"He made money because he believed if you can do that you can buy everything else."

"Very strange," pronounced the Domne. "He would have flourished in Cadwal.

"And what did your mother do while your father made money?"

With an understated vehemence which unsettled her, Terisa said, "I think she practiced."

"'Practiced'?"

"Being ornamental. So my father could show her off whenever he was in the mood."

"'Women should be seen and not heard'?" The Domne couldn't restrain a burst of laughter. "That explains where you got your beauty. Terisa, I don't know how to tell you this--but I think you've already met High King Festten. Even though you wouldn't recognize him if you saw him."

Terisa tried to smile, but she didn't succeed.

The Domne studied her; sunlight from the windows reflected in his eyes. "However, that raises a fascinating question. How did you get here from there? How did the daughter of parents like that become the kind of woman my youngest son--perhaps my best son--would kill for?"

She wanted to answer him. At the same time, she wanted to stop talking about her parents. Roughly, she told him something that she hadn't revealed to anyone else in Mordant, not even to Geraden.

"When I did something my father didn't like, he used to lock me in a closet until I got scared enough to stop crying."

For a long moment, the Domne stared at her without expression, as if the energy of life had been wiped off his face. Then, slowly, carefully, he turned away. He took his leg from the stool in order to put it back in its former position, toward the window. He settled himself again with his leg up and his spine stretched against the back of the chair; he might have been getting comfortable for a nap.

After that, one at a time, he picked up his canes and flung them out the window. The first sailed clear; the second clattered against the frame and fell just outside.

So fiercely that she winced, he whispered, "What are you doing to me, Joyse? Everybody who is worth anything in your entire kingdom is being hurt, and I'm sitting here crippled. What are you doing?"

There was nothing she could say. Geraden had surely told his father what she knew about the King's intentions. There was nothing else.

Briefly, the Domne put his hands over his face, and his shoulders clenched. Almost at once, however, he rubbed his cheeks briskly, as if he were scrubbing passion off his features; with a long slow exhalation, he let his anger go.


This passage is interesting to me for a number of reasons, chief among them the revelation that the Domne isn't as nearly as calm and content as he appears to be; he simply has a strong personal discipline. I take note that Terisa is able to face a lot of truths about herself and how she has been raised, but she can't forgive her parents, ever. The Domne is shocked by what she tells him her, but people like Terisa's parents are like people he has known in his world, that much is clear. He can see without further explanation why Terisa would not want to be anything like her parents.

Everybody who is worth anything in your entire kingdom is being hurt. True enough, and that remark reinforces the point of this thread, I think. The people of Mordant are given a realistic face in Mordant's Need, thanks to the many richly detailed supporting characters.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shadowbinding shoe wrote:
Quote:
At that, the Domne sat up straighter in his chair; his eyes flashed. "Tholden, I know you think you're a grown man, but you still aren't too old to be punished for disrespect. Maybe I'm only your father, and half crippled as well, but I'm still man enough to prune your apricots within an inch of their lives. Consider that before you risk being pert with me."


That made me chuckle. Is this a metaphor for something else or is Tholden's orchard truly in danger of overpruning? (always hated city workers who come to trim trees and vegetation 'just a little bit' to protect a power line or the like and leave behind nothing but barren trunks. Maybe Donaldson had similar traumatic experience?)


I took this remark figuratively, as in the Domne wasn't weak enough to spank Tholden for pertness. But maybe pruning Tholden's apricot trees would be sufficient punishment for Tholden after all--I never thought of this passage in that way, before! Laughing
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Everyone was running west. Tholden's instructions to Houseldon had been explicit: women and children, stay at home; anyone who was too you or too frail or too sick to fight, stay at home. Unfortunately, the folk of Domne had lost the habit of taking orders. The streets were crowded with people who shouldn't have been there. Some of the men who were prepared or equipped or at least determined to fight had difficulty working their way through the throng.

But Tholden had replied to the alarm so quickly that he was ahead of the crowds; he didn't know he was being imperfectly obeyed. He reached the guardpost and climbed onto the platform where the man who had raised the alarm was on watch in time to see the whole attack clearly.

They came in without a sound except for the rush of their paws and the harsh murmur of their breathing: strange wolves with spines bristling down their curved backs, a double row of fangs in each slavering jaw, and something like intelligence in their wild eyes. Only a few dozen of them. Tholden thought when he first spotted them. Enough to ravage a herd of sheep. Or terrorize a farmstead, Not enough to threaten Houseldon. They won't be able to get past the stockade.

Then the leader of the pack sprang at the wall.

The wolf seemed to come straight at him. Leaping at least eight feet in the air, it got its forelegs over the wall. While its hind legs scrambled for a purchase on the wood, its jaws stretched toward his face.

For an instant more horrible than anything he had imagined, Tholden couldn't move. He was a farmer, not a soldier: he didn't know anything about fighting. The men standing on the platform with him had already flinched away. One of the bowmen rushed to bring up his bow. But Tholden just couldn't move.

Then hot slaver splashed into his face as the fangs drew near, and Deep down in his heart, he had always believed there was something secretly crazy about people like Artagel, who went into battle with such fierce joy.something inside him shifted. Although he never thought about it, he was prodigiously strong, and his strength came to his rescue. He reached out, caught the wolf by the throat, and heaved it backward.

It fell among the pack, breaking the charge, preventing the wolves behind it from gathering themselves to spring. The pack burst into snarls--a raw, red sound, avid for blood. Jaws snapped. Then the wolves swirled around to regain their momentum so that they could leap.

"Bowmen!" the Domne's son cried desperately, "get some arrows into those things! If they get over the wall--!"

Not fast enough. Already three wolves were leaping, four, six. And instead of attacking the guardpost directly, they hurled themselves at a part of the wall where there were no immediate defenders.

He was appalled by the realization that these beasts knew what they were doing. They were at their most vulnerable while they tried to cross the top of the wall--so they moved out of reach.


Quote:
There was more. The wolves were only the vanguard.

Forcing himself into motion, he staggered to the guardpost, heaved his bulk up the ladder to the platform.

When he looked over the top of the stockade and saw what the bowman was pointing at, his first reaction was one of deflation, almost of disappointment.

Oh, is that all?

He was gazing across a hundred yards of open ground at a cat.

Just a cat. One cat. nothing more.

The realization came to him slowly, however, that this cat was bigger than he was. It was at least as big as a horse. At least--

Then he noticed that wherever the cat put its paws the grass and old leaves caught fire. It had already left a smoldering trail away into the distance, where the wolfpack had come from. And it was approaching--not rapidly, but without any hesitation--advancing as steadily and inevitably as a stormfront.

"Tholden," the bowman murmured like a prayer, "what is it?"

This was foolishness, really. Who was he to pretend that he could fill his father's boots, that he could succeed as the next Domne? He didn't understand anything about Imagery. The only real accomplishment of his life, from his point of view, was to figure out the best time of year and the best conditions to fertilize apricot trees. Unless he counted marrying Quiss, or having five children: his family was an accomplishment that gave him pride.


The plucky home-grown hero, facing evil when he seems to be completely outmatched and underprepared: this is certainly Tholden. Most of us probably cannot relate to Tholden being a prodigiously strong giant of a person, as we aren't inclined to be so big, but it's likely we can relate to this: Deep down in his heart, he had always believed there was something secretly crazy about people like Artagel, who went into battle with such fierce joy. Most of us aren't naturally such self-sacrificing people like "Art", are we?

Another observation I want to make: Unfortunately, the folk of Domne had lost the habit of taking orders. The streets were crowded with people who shouldn't have been there. This further reinforces the innocence of the people of Domne, as well as heightening the suspense and danger.

The only real accomplishment of his life, from his point of view, was to figure out the best time of year and the best conditions to fertilize apricot trees. This skill turns out to be quite handy for Tholden, doesn't it? Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Apricot trees! Tholden's father sure knows to prick him where it hurts. Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shadowbinding shoe wrote:
The Apricot trees! Tholden's father sure knows to prick him where it hurts. Wink


You and Avatar have certainly taught me to take the Domne's threat literally, shadowbindingshoe! And I don't doubt that Tholden would be disciplined by the Domne overly pruning those trees, as Tholden would be very sensitive to such excessiveness! It's kind of funny to think about. Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Hopefully, no one who is reading along in this thread minds that I'm moving the quotes along to talk more about Tholden at present. If anyone at present or in the future wishes to discuss Quiss or the Domne or any other character that is relevant to this thread, I hope that they'll feel free to do so at any time that they wish. I just want to keep putting up quotes for handy reference to Kevin's Watch readers who are or may become interested in this topic.)
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now, to one of my favorite parts in AMRT Chapter 33, when Tholden makes his important discovery and learns he has a real talent for defending his people, after all:

Quote:
Flames licked between the timbers. The lashings that held the timbers began to snap.

With a howl of heat, the wall caught fire again and blazed up like the blast of a furnace.

Tholden and his men staggered backward, stared as the timbers flamed--and the firecat thrust its way between the beams as if they were nothing more than charcoal twigs.

"Tholden!" people screamed.

"Help!"

"Tell us what to do!"

"We don't know what to do!"

"Run," he coughed weakly. He had never felt such intense fire in his life, never seen anything that terrified himas much as this firecat did. "Run." The heat drew tears from his eyes as if he were weeping. Huseldon was built of wood. The whole place would burn. "Get out of the way."

Automatically, without thought, he retreated to keep the heat at a distance. The firecat ambled after him with an indirect, even nonchalant gait, as if he were an especially tasty and helpless mouse.

Moving like a madman, he led the firecat in among the buildings.

The cat moved to the side of the lane while it followed him. Fire swept up the wall of the granary; then, with a detonation like a thunderclap, the grain itself took flame. Fire and smoke and blazing grain swirled a hundred feet into the air.

The merchant who owned the granary lived in a house beside it. He was an old man with a vast quantity of fat and no reputation whatsoever for valor; yet he ran raging out onto his porch and flung a washbasin full of water at the cat.

The cat didn't notice his attack.

Almost instantly, the fire consumed him.

Tholden retreated as slowly as he could bear, bringing Houseldon's destruction with him.

He nearly missed what had happened when the firecat abruptly let out a roar of vexation--perhaps even of pain--and flinched to the side. A bit of flame clung to the pads of one forepaw. The beast hunched over and licked its paw clean; its tail switched malevolently. When it started moving again, it appeared angrier, more determined; it looked like it intended to pounce on him without further delay.

Tholden gaped dumbly, transfixed by the incomprehensible fact that the creature had hurt itself by stepping in a small pile of sheepdung.

As if this information were too much for him, his eyes rolled in his head; his scorched and naked face stretched into a wail; his numb arm flapped against his side.

Awkwardly, he turned and dashed out of the firecat's path, fled between the nearest houses as if he had vultures beating around his head. The people who saw him go believed that his mind had snapped.

The cat didn't pursue him. It was after other prey.

Setting homes and shops ablaze almost casually as it went, it continued its malign stroll into the heart of Houseldon.

Toward Terisa and Geraden.

______________________

He had forgotten the wolves.--forgotten them completely. His desperation didn't hold room for any other danger. One of the houses he passed had had its door torn off the hinges, but he didn't notice that. He didn't hear the dying whimpers from inside, didn't see the beast muching flesh in the doorway. He had no idea what was happening when the wold left the infant it was eating and leaped at his head.

Because of his lurching gait, it missed his head. Yet its claws raked his back as it went by him.

That pain got his attention. He and the wolf wheeled to meet each other; as fierce as the beast, he faced its charge.

Slobbering blood, it sprang again.

He had no time for fear or forethought. In fact, he had no time for the wolf. Striding forward as the beast leaped, he kicked it in the ribcage so hard that he ruptured its heart.

Then he ran on.

His back bled as if he were on fire. Coughing for help, he ran toward the nearest wastepit where Houseldon accumulated fertilizer for the orchards and fields.


A compulsive fertilizer, indeed!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cord Hurn wrote:
shadowbinding shoe wrote:
Quote:
At that, the Domne sat up straighter in his chair; his eyes flashed. "Tholden, I know you think you're a grown man, but you still aren't too old to be punished for disrespect. Maybe I'm only your father, and half crippled as well, but I'm still man enough to prune your apricots within an inch of their lives. Consider that before you risk being pert with me."


That made me chuckle. Is this a metaphor for something else or is Tholden's orchard truly in danger of overpruning? (always hated city workers who come to trim trees and vegetation 'just a little bit' to protect a power line or the like and leave behind nothing but barren trunks. Maybe Donaldson had similar traumatic experience?)


I took this remark figuratively, as in the Domne wasn't weak enough to spank Tholden for pertness. But maybe pruning Tholden's apricot trees would be sufficient punishment for Tholden after all--I never thought of this passage in that way, before! Laughing


Actually, what I meant to post was that I've always thought the Domne was saying he was still strong enough to physically punish Tholden for pertness. And now shadowbindingshoe and Avatar have shown me that the Domne meant "prune your apricots within an inch of their lives" quite literally. This new interpretation is one I prefer to my old interpretation, for sure. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know this is an 'olden days' story but I can't picture the Domne as a person who beats his children even if its the norm in his culture. He'd scold them and look disappointed, but that's about it. Between Tholden and Quiss, Quiss if anyone would take the role of taskmistress and punish the children. Just look at how his boys turned out. He let each follow his own dream
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, I dunno...I can see him laying on the rod when they were kids out of a perceived duty to raise them properly. He probably would have hated doing it, but chances are he did it anyway, at least a bit...

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
He didn't have much time. The people fleeing along the street had scattered; Terisa, Geraden, and the Domne could see the firecat clearly now.

And it could see them: that was obvious. Its eyes were fixed on them as if at last it had recognized its true prey.

Well, of course. Stunned with fright and helplessness, Terisa had been reduced to talking to herself. Eremis wouldn't trust random violence to kill them. And he must be able to talk to that thing. Otherwise, how could he get it to do what he wanted? It might have attacked the champion instead of the Castellan's guards. He probably gave it a description of the people it was supposed to kill.

Uselessly, she wondered what kind of description the firecat would understand. Could Eremis really talk to it?

"Terisa." Geraden had a hand on her arm; he shook her. "Terisa, listen to me. If that creature is after me, you can get away. You've got to get away. Get out of here--get out of Houseldon. Go north. To the Termigan. Maybe he's got some glass you can use. At least you can warn him. He'll protect you.

"I'll try to give you as much time as I can."

"Thanks." what was she talking about? She had no idea. "I appreciate that." Words seemed to come out of her mouth without passing through her consciousness first. "What if it's after you? How are you going to get away?"

"An interesting question," the Domne put in dryly. "Let's discuss it later, shall we? Start running, both of you. If it's engaged in destroying Houseldon, you might both get away." Abruptly, he started to shout, cracking his command at them like a whip. "I said start running!"

Both Terisa and Geraden nodded.

Neither of them moved.

She began to feel the heat of the fire on her face. The firecat was so close now that she could have hit it with a rock. It wasn't in any hurry--but it was definitely coming straight for them. Its eyes stared malice; its tail lashed the dust.

She and Geraden and the Domne stood their ground as if they had lost their minds.

And the firecat stopped. It regarded them warily. They acted like they weren't afraid of it. Why was that? Terisa had the odd impression that she knew exactly what the cat was thinking. Why were they standing there as if fire and fangs couldn't hurt them? What kind of danger did they represent?

Beyond question, she had lost her mind, even if the men with her were still sane. While the firecat studied them all, she waved her hand at it and said, "Scat. Go away." She could feel her hair growing crisp in the heat. "We won't hurt you. If you go away."

Good. Brilliant. Instead of retreating, the creature crouched to spring.

Unexpectedly, Minick arrived at the Domne's side. In spite of his apparent haste, he didn't seem to be breathing hard--didn't seem to be breathing at all.

Each of his strong, brown hands carried a large wooden bucket.

Water, Terisa thought. Good idea. Too bad it wouldn't work. The firecat certainly hadn't been hindered by the snow when it had attacked Castellan Lebbick's men.

Precisely, as if he were following an elaborate set of instructions, Minick set the buckets down beside him.

Gasping and blowing as though his chest were about to burst, Tholden came into the street. He nearly ran up against the firecat's flank; the heat must have been tremendous.

He held one of the watertubs hugged in his arms.

Full of water, it must have been far too heavy for any one man to lift. Nevertheless he supported it alone, staggered out into the open without help; there he let the tub thud into the dirt.

That dull, hard sound distracted the creature. Dancing aside as daintily as a kitten, it turned to see what he was doing.

"Now!" Tholden croaked hoarsely.

Reaching into his watertub with both hands, he scooped a load of sheepdung into the firecat's face.

The hard pellets hit the cat's whiskers, cheeks, jaws, eyes.

Hit and stuck.

They were fuel: they burned hotly. But they didn't fall away, as water and wood and even iron fell away. They clung to the creature's fur and flesh.

With a scream, the firecat did a complete backflip. Immediately, it began to scrub at its face, trying to dislodge the fiery pellets.

In an instant, its forepaws were covered with fire.

Minick was a little slow; even in an emergency, he couldn't act without his usual care. On this occasion, however, he was quick enough. Before the cat could turn, he stepped forward and splashed its back with the contents of his first bucket.

More sheepdung.

This time, the creature's scream seemed to come from the marrow of its bones. It wrenched around in a circle and rammed its burning side into the dirt to extinguish the fire of the pellets.

Abruptly, five or six more men rushed into the street, carrying buckets and baskets and pots of sheepdung; they hurled more fuel into the cat's flames. Stooping to his tub, Tholden shoveled up great handfuls of pellets. Minick emptied his second bucket at the mounting conflagration.

Then all the men had to stop, had to draw back. The creature had begun to burn so hotly that they couldn't get near it. Terisa put up her hands to protect her face.

With a sizzling noise like the shriek of meat on a griddle, of hot iron in oil, the firecat died horribly, consumed by its own blaze.

Tholden staggered, stumbled to his knees; his scorched and beardless face gaped at the charred carcass.

Slowly, the Domne limped around the circle of heat to his eldest son. Minick, Geraden, and Terisa followed; they were there when the Domne put his arms around Tholden's bloody back.

"As I said," the Domne murmured in a voice congested with pride and pain. "The right man for the job."

Before Terisa could think of it, Geraden left to get Quiss.


"An interesting question," the Domne put in dryly. "Let's discuss it later, shall we? Start running, both of you. If it's engaged in destroying Houseldon, you might both get away." Abruptly, he started to shout, cracking his command at them like a whip. "I said start running!" Obviously, the Domne can be a stern disciplinarian when he thinks it's necessary.

Dancing aside as daintily as a kitten, it turned to see what he was doing. I'm entertained by the image of a cat as big as a cow acting with such nimbleness.

"As I said," the Domne murmured in a voice congested with pride and pain. "The right man for the job." Perhaps one of the best family moments in all of Mordant's Need. Group Hug
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
By midmorning, the Domne's seat was little more than a smoldering husk.

From his stretcher, Tholden watched the ruin and wept as if he had failed; but his father would have none of it. "Don't be silly, boy. You saved all our lives. Houses can be built again. You saved your people. I call it a great victory. Nobody else could have done it."

"That's right, Da," Quiss said because her husband was too emotional to reply. "He'll agree with you when he's had a little rest. If he knows what's good for him."

Ignoring embarrassment, Geraden kissed all three of them. Quiss and the Domne kissed Terisa. Then Terisa and Geraden went to their horses, the bay and the Appaloosa which had brought them down from the Closed Fist.

"Now it's your turn, Geraden," the Domne announced in front of all the inhabitants of Houseldon. "Make us proud of you. Make what we're doing worthwhile." Then he added, "And, in the name of sanity, remember to call me 'Da.'''

Helplessly, Geraden colored.

Terisa wanted to laugh again. "Don't worry, Da. I won't let him forget."

When the Domne's people began cheering, she and Geraden rode away to meet Mordant's need.


On the other hand, maybe this is the best family moment in Mordant's Need. I can't decide. Confused
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