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The Tor

 
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2020 9:06 am    Post subject: The Tor Reply with quote

The Tor is a figure of conscience and morality in the Mordant's Need story. I've wanted to create a thread dedicated to him for quite some time. He's a sorrowful deflated figure the first time we meet him, and this initial picture gives us as readers no hint of the consequential figure he becomes as the MN story further unfolds.

In Chapter 11 of The Mirror Of Her Dreams was wrote:
The rider were on the road outside the castle. They had almost reached the gate, despite their mourning pace. She saw now that the men were all in black. The breath of the horses steamed silver in the iron cold, but their trappings were black. Black draped the litter that four of the mounts supported from their saddles. The man who led the group hid his face under a black hood, and a black cloak was wrapped around him.

This figure was so fat that Terisa wondered how his horse could bear his weight.

He led his riders toward Castellan Lebbick, then halted within the precise formation of the honor guard. Their horses seemed to sag under the burdens they carried.

"Greetings, my lord Tor," the Castellan said gruffly. His shoulders were braced as if they had the weight of the whole winter on them. The purple band across his forehead emphasized the anger of his eyebrows. "You are welcome in Orison. No matter what reason has brought you here at such a time, you are welcome."

Slowly, the Tor raised his black-gloved hands and lifted his hood, revealing thin white hair that straggled from his pale scalp; features the shape and color of cold potatoes, bleak eyes. His fat cheeks were hurt with cold.

In a husky voice, he rasped, "I will see the King."

The sharpness of the air made everything distinct. Terisa saw the shadow of a wince pass across Lebbick's hard face. "My lord Tor," he replied, "King Joyse has been informed of your coming. At present, he is busy with other matters." He couldn't keep his disdain for those "other matters" out of his tone. The King was probably playing hop-board. "I'm sure he'll grant you an audience shortly."

The clouds sealing the sky were the color of tombstones. Cold seemed to close around the courtyard. The guards were silent. The champing of the horses and the squelching sound of his boots in the mud could be heard clearly as he moved like an old man among his people toward the litter.

From the litter, he lifted in his arms the black-draped shape of a man or woman who must have been taller than he was. He didn't look strong enough to bear so much weight; nevertheless he cradled the body against his belly, carrying it forward until he stood directly in front of Castellan Lebbick.

In the same dried-out hollow voice, he said, "This is my first son. I will see the King."

Now the Castellan's stress was unmistakable. "Your son, my lord Tor? That's a terrible loss." Terisa remembered that Lebbick was acquainted with loss. "All Mordant will sorrow with you. How did he die?"

For a moment, a flicker of passion lit the Tor's speech. "His face was torn away by a wolf such as Mordant and Cadwal and Alend together have never known. Do you care to see the wound?" He extended the shrouded body toward Lebbick.

But almost at once his energy faded. Dully, implacably, he repeated, "I will see the King."


Lebbick tells the Tor he must wait, and Geraden steps forth and sets aside Lebbick's denigration of him, to offer the the King's audience for the Tor "in the name of the Domne". Geraden's desire to step forward and brave the Castellan's angry disdain seems comprehensible considering how pitiable the Tor is in this scene. It's just too bad that Geraden's courage and empathy turn out to increase the Tor's pain.

Quote:
"King Joyse and Adept Havelock were playing hop-board. You [Terisa] probably guessed that. What else," he [Geraden] asked acidly, "would make him too busy to see the man who got him started on the road to becoming King of Mordant? But he didn't seem to resent the interruption. When I barged in, he left his game to welcome us. And he smiled the way he does--the way that makes you want to lie down in front of him so he can walk on you.

"Then he saw what the Tor was carrying. I told him who it was. And for a few moments there I thought I had finally done the right thing. For once in my life, I had finally done the right thing.

"He seemed to remember his strength and call it back from somewhere. Suddenly, he was taller, bigger, and his eyes flashed. "How was this done?" he demanded. The Tor couldn't speak, so I said, 'Imagery. Some kind of strange wolf.' Gambling that I knew what I was doing, I said, 'Look at his face.'

"King Joyse lifted the cloth." Geraden shuddered. "It was terrible. But it would have been worse if the body hadn't been frozen for ten days while the Tor was on the road.

"When King Joyse saw it, he seemed to stand up inside himself. He took the body out of the Tor's arms. He raised his head as if he was going to howl. There was so much outrage and hurt in him that it practically shouted from his face. I thought that finally--finally--he was going to get angry enough to do something.

"I was wrong."

Geraden made no effort to muffle his pain. "Adept Havelock chose that moment to say, 'Joyse, it's your move.' As if he didn't know anyone else was in the room.

"And King Joyse just collapsed.

"His face crumpled, and he started crying--softly, almost not making a sound. 'Oh, my old friend,' he said. 'Forgive me. Forgive me.' Then he fell to his knees--he couldn't hold up the weight any longer." Geraden was weeping himself, with his elbows hugged to his ribs and his hands across his chest. "As carefully as he could, he rested the Tor's son on the floor. For a while, he bowed over the body. Then he got his feet under him again"--Geraden had to grip his determination on both fists in order to say the words--"and went back to his game."

For a while, Geraden stood still, fighting to regain control of his emotions while Terisa ached for him and the Tor and King Joyse and said nothing.

"After that," Geraden resumed with a shuddering sigh, "he didn't respond to anything. He didn't give any orders for the funeral. He didn't answer any questions. Maybe he forgot we were there. Eventually, he moved one of his pieces. As far as I could see, it improved Havelock's position.

"All this time, the Tor hadn't said a word. He looked too stunned, too hurt, to say anything. I thought he was going to fall on his face. But now he pulled himself together a bit. 'My son is dead,' he said as if maybe King Joyse had failed to notice that detail. 'Is this the best you can do?'

"The King still didn't respond. Adept Havelock said, 'Close the door on your way out.'"

Geraden shrugged. "Then Castellan Lebbick made us leave. Two of his men had to move the Tor by main force. But I was actually grateful. He did us a favor by getting us out of there."


At this point in the story, the only hints we have of the Tor's hidden reserves of strength is in how he can hold his son high and close to him, and in how he can pull himself together despite his stunned grief to demand action from his King.

This first time I encountered him, in this scene, the Tor seemed to me to be only a symbol of the victimization of Mordant by Imagery from an unknown source. I had no idea in my first MN read of how important the Tor would be in standing up for justice and for the defense of the kingdom.

Perhaps these things about the Tor becoming a pleasant surprise for me as I continued to read along made me love his character all the more.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2020 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Tor is one of my favorite characters.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2020 9:10 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tor Reply with quote

Cord Hurn wrote:
It's just too bad that Geraden's courage and empathy turn out to increase the Tor's pain.



Ahhh true for a time... But in the long run the Tor needed to interact with the king to fuel his desire to take some actions for Mordant. If he had been turned aside or not granted access to the king it possibly could have just left him bitter and left on his way.

No seeeing the King in person denying him is what he needed to fuel him to take action.

One of my favorite parts of this scene is Adept Havelock stating "your move" at a critical juncture where the King could have lost his way on what he considered his master plan of seeming to look weak and undecided,

It is brilliant piece of subtext that SRD inserts here to keep us aware that there is a giant hopboard of pieces moving and another clue we receive that the King and Adept seem to have some awareness of what they are doing.

In some ways I think these two books benefit from what I will kill the Sixth Sense movie approach. Reading it again shortly after reading it for the first time. You read it with eyes open on all the moves or lack of moves and realize al the hidden clues, subtexts and rationales. Just like re-watching Sixth Sense right after seeing it you see all the clues that were hitting you right along.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2020 9:57 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tor Reply with quote

samrw3 wrote:
Cord Hurn wrote:
It's just too bad that Geraden's courage and empathy turn out to increase the Tor's pain.



Ahhh true for a time... But in the long run the Tor needed to interact with the king to fuel his desire to take some actions for Mordant. If he had been turned aside or not granted access to the king it possibly could have just left him bitter and left on his way.

No seeeing the King in person denying him is what he needed to fuel him to take action.

One of my favorite parts of this scene is Adept Havelock stating "your move" at a critical juncture where the King could have lost his way on what he considered his master plan of seeming to look weak and undecided,

It is brilliant piece of subtext that SRD inserts here to keep us aware that there is a giant hopboard of pieces moving and another clue we receive that the King and Adept seem to have some awareness of what they are doing.

In some ways I think these two books benefit from what I will kill the Sixth Sense movie approach. Reading it again shortly after reading it for the first time. You read it with eyes open on all the moves or lack of moves and realize al the hidden clues, subtexts and rationales. Just like re-watching Sixth Sense right after seeing it you see all the clues that were hitting you right along.


I agree, that episode is one of the best hint-drops in the early chapters. It covers not only that the King's weakness is feigned, but that Havelock is the architect/overseer of the plan, and also that Gereden has within him the capacity for leadership and action.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2020 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another character made tragic by Joyse's plan, although at least (IIRC) he discovers it was a plan? (Unlike poor Lebbick.)

But yes, a great character.

--A
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:07 am    Post subject: Re: The Tor Reply with quote

IrrationalSanity wrote:
samrw3 wrote:
Cord Hurn wrote:
It's just too bad that Geraden's courage and empathy turn out to increase the Tor's pain.



Ahhh true for a time... But in the long run the Tor needed to interact with the king to fuel his desire to take some actions for Mordant. If he had been turned aside or not granted access to the king it possibly could have just left him bitter and left on his way.

No seeeing the King in person denying him is what he needed to fuel him to take action.

One of my favorite parts of this scene is Adept Havelock stating "your move" at a critical juncture where the King could have lost his way on what he considered his master plan of seeming to look weak and undecided,

It is brilliant piece of subtext that SRD inserts here to keep us aware that there is a giant hopboard of pieces moving and another clue we receive that the King and Adept seem to have some awareness of what they are doing.

In some ways I think these two books benefit from what I will kill the Sixth Sense movie approach. Reading it again shortly after reading it for the first time. You read it with eyes open on all the moves or lack of moves and realize al the hidden clues, subtexts and rationales. Just like re-watching Sixth Sense right after seeing it you see all the clues that were hitting you right along.


I agree, that episode is one of the best hint-drops in the early chapters. It covers not only that the King's weakness is feigned, but that Havelock is the architect/overseer of the plan, and also that Gereden has within him the capacity for leadership and action.


Great observations! Yes, Donaldson gives hints about what Joyse and Havelock are up to in that scene. Things like that make MN rereads a joy for me! Reading Mr. Green
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
Another character made tragic by Joyse's plan, although at least (IIRC) he discovers it was a plan? (Unlike poor Lebbick.)

But yes, a great character.

--A


Agreed, the Tor is heart and soul one of the most empathetic characters in Mordant's Need. I hope to add more quotes about him in this thread in the coming weeks/months/years.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2020 9:07 pm    Post subject: The Tor Reply with quote

We don't see the Tor again until Terisa attends the meeting of the Lords and Prince Kragen that has been arranged by Masters Eremis and Gilbur.

In Chapter 12 of The Mirror Of Her Dreams was wrote:
The Perdon was still on his feet, but the other lords were seated. She recognized the Tor, of course. He sat near Master Gilbur. Out of direct contact with the winter, his skin had a less abused color; but his face still looked like a handful of mealy potatoes, and his eyes were glazed. There was an enormous flagon on the table in front of him.
_____________________________________________________________

With the exception of the Tor--whose attention was fixed on his flagon--everyone was looking at her.
_____________________________________________________________

Unexpectedly, the Tor banged his flagon to the table. "Oh, sit down, my lord Termigan. So much upright anger makes me tired. Let us learn what more surprises are in store for us."
_____________________________________________________________

The Tor peered past the Fayle at her through a blur of wine. "You were with that boy of the Domne's," he said thickly. "Geraden. When I arrived." Without warning, his eyes filled with tears. Blinking furiously, he leaned back in his chair, then slapped his hand down on the table. "Take my gratitude as well. Prince Kragen and I will see that you are treated with respect."

Gulping from his flagon, he slumped to the side as if he had lost consciousness.

"Very touching," the Armigite murmured without quite looking at Terisa. "What will we have next? Offer of marriage?"

The other lords, however, seemed to think better of the Tor than of the Armigite: they didn't acknowledge his sarcasm.


So, this is where we first become aware of the Tor's binge drinking to deal with the loss of his eldest son, and where his basic kindness and compassion is seen. And I think this passage also tells us that the Tor has a long history of fighting courage and governing wisdom attached to him, for his fellow lords besides the Armigite show quiet respect for him even when he's in this embarrassing physical state.

Quote:
The Tor twitched in his seat. "I know that Geraden," he rumbled. "He is a good boy. A true son of his father." Absentmindedly, he yawned and took another pull from his flagon.
_____________________________________________________________

The Tor made a soft snoring noise. The other men were more attentive, however.


Unfortunately, his current state renders him incapable of paying attention or taking anything seriously beyond his grief.

Quote:
The Tor made a snorting noise. He raised his head, glanced around blearily for a moment, the heaved himself to this feet. "My lords, I must go to my bed. I have become too old for so much carousal."

"Do not go, my old friend," the Fayle remonstrated gently. "You must help us to a decision"

The Tor blinked hard. "What decision? I have none to make. I will not return to Marshalt. I am old, I say. These questions are too much for me. If King Joyse means to destroy Mordant, I will be here to assist him. I will stand at his side to the end." He made a small chuckling noise. "He deserves me." Then he began to shuffle his bulk toward the door. "My son always said I was a fool and a coward for not giving him more than two hundred men when he first set himself to become King. Now my son is dead. I should have not been so cautious."

Slowly, he lumbered out of the room.


Here I think is the first time in the story that the Tor states he will stay by his King for the sake of his son's beliefs.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2020 12:25 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tor Reply with quote

Cord Hurn wrote:
We don't see the Tor again until Terisa attends the meeting of the Lords and Prince Kragen that has been arranged by Masters Eremis and Gilbur.

In Chapter 12 of The Mirror Of Her Dreams was wrote:
The Perdon was still on his feet, but the other lords were seated. She recognized the Tor, of course. He sat near Master Gilbur. Out of direct contact with the winter, his skin had a less abused color; but his face still looked like a handful of mealy potatoes, and his eyes were glazed. There was an enormous flagon on the table in front of him.
_____________________________________________________________

With the exception of the Tor--whose attention was fixed on his flagon--everyone was looking at her.
_____________________________________________________________

Unexpectedly, the Tor banged his flagon to the table. "Oh, sit down, my lord Termigan. So much upright anger makes me tired. Let us learn what more surprises are in store for us."
_____________________________________________________________

The Tor peered past the Fayle at her through a blur of wine. "You were with that boy of the Domne's," he said thickly. "Geraden. When I arrived." Without warning, his eyes filled with tears. Blinking furiously, he leaned back in his chair, then slapped his hand down on the table. "Take my gratitude as well. Prince Kragen and I will see that you are treated with respect."

Gulping from his flagon, he slumped to the side as if he had lost consciousness.

"Very touching," the Armigite murmured without quite looking at Terisa. "What will we have next? Offer of marriage?"

The other lords, however, seemed to think better of the Tor than of the Armigite: they didn't acknowledge his sarcasm.


So, this is where we first become aware of the Tor's binge drinking to deal with the loss of his eldest son, and where his basic kindness and compassion is seen. And I think this passage also tells us that the Tor has a long history of fighting courage and governing wisdom attached to him, for his fellow lords besides the Armigite show quiet respect for him even when he's in this embarrassing physical state.

Quote:
The Tor twitched in his seat. "I know that Geraden," he rumbled. "He is a good boy. A true son of his father." Absentmindedly, he yawned and took another pull from his flagon.
_____________________________________________________________

The Tor made a soft snoring noise. The other men were more attentive, however.


Unfortunately, his current state renders him incapable of paying attention or taking anything seriously beyond his grief.

Quote:
The Tor made a snorting noise. He raised his head, glanced around blearily for a moment, the heaved himself to this feet. "My lords, I must go to my bed. I have become too old for so much carousal."

"Do not go, my old friend," the Fayle remonstrated gently. "You must help us to a decision"

The Tor blinked hard. "What decision? I have none to make. I will not return to Marshalt. I am old, I say. These questions are too much for me. If King Joyse means to destroy Mordant, I will be here to assist him. I will stand at his side to the end." He made a small chuckling noise. "He deserves me." Then he began to shuffle his bulk toward the door. "My son always said I was a fool and a coward for not giving him more than two hundred men when he first set himself to become King. Now my son is dead. I should have not been so cautious."

Slowly, he lumbered out of the room.


Here I think is the first time in the story that the Tor states he will stay by his King for the sake of his son's beliefs.


This scene shows us that the Tor virtually embodies loyalty, not just to the King, but to Gereden, Terisa, and his son. He is saddened that his son considered him a coward, but when we (later) learn the real reason for his limited support, it doesn't come as a shock because of what we have learned here.

It also shows just how astute and perceptive he is. Yes, he is drunk, and can barely keep conscious, but the Tor knows full well what is at stake, and what is being discussed. He is at least as skilled at statecraft and leadership as anyone in the room, and he alone at this point recognizes something that nobody else (outside of the King's circle) understands.

"If King Joyse means to destroy Mordant, I will be here to assist him."

The Tor may not know why the King is doing it, but he understands the king is acting with purpose.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2020 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Tor's loyalty is certainly one of his most endearing qualities.

Your observation that the Tor knows the King is acting with purpose is spot-on, IrrationalSanity. It's also true, as you say, that no one else at that meeting has caught on to that.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2020 7:12 am    Post subject: The Tor Reply with quote

We see the Tor again when Terisa is summoned to the King's apartment, just after Lebbick struck her and tried to arrest her.

In Chapter 16 of The Mirror Of Her Dreams was wrote:
The King's Dastard wasn't present. Instead, King Joyse was being kept company by Geraden and the Tor.

Involuntarily, she gaped at them.

"My lady," rumbled the Tor. "It is a great pleasure to renew your acquaintance." His fat overflowed his chair, and his plump hands gripped a flagon of wine as if he couldn't function without it. His thin white hair straggled disconsolately from his pale scalp. But his voluminous black robe was clean; his jowls were decently shaved. Although his small eyes were bleary, they seemed marginally less blurred than she remembered them.

Geraden met her surprise with a grin. Almost at once, however, his expression changed to distress. He jumped out of his chair and approached her. Lightly, he stroked the hot skin of her cheek. "That unscrupulous bastard." he whispered. "He hit you." Then chagrin overcame him. "I'm so sorry. It's my fault . I didn't think he would go that far. I thought I would be fast enough. I ran all the way--all the way--"

"Enough, young Geraden," the Tor interposed, peering morosely into his flagon. "You are a son of the Domne. Have more dignity."

"I don't understand." Terisa felt that she had abruptly become stupid. "What are you doing here?"

"As little as I can," the Tor replied as though she had spoken to him. "King Joyse keeps good wine and an excellent fire. I have no other needs

"It was awkward, I admit," he mused, frowning to himself. "He refused to see me. After that cell, I felt as cold as my son. I wanted to be warm again. And I thought I would share a flagon with my old friend the King of Mordant. Did I say that I would not leave him? I meant to say so. But he refused to see me. Very awkward."


(I find the reference to a "cell" to be puzzling; is the Tor referring to the room he was originally assigned when he came to Orison? Certainly he was not placed under arrest, so maybe this was an editing mistake. Oh, well, moving on...)

Quote:
Unexpectedly, he [the Tor] smiled. Under other circumstances, it would have been a happy smile but it didn't touch the sadness in his eyes. "He underestimated me. I sat down outside his door and commenced howling. Not polite, deferential howling, I assure you, but howling to alarm the dead."

"You did that?" Geraden grinned in spite of himself, surprised out of his contrition.

The Tor nodded. "It is well that my family did not see me. They would have not thought better of me for it. But I succeeded." He glanced toward King Joyse and commented, "Since admitting me, he has found it impossible to make me depart."

This didn't make much sense to Terisa. She shook her head to clear it, but the movement had the opposite effect. She needed to sit down. Or lie down.

"But why?" She couldn't forget how the Tor had looked standing in the mud of the courtyard with his dead son in his arms, or what Geraden had told her about King Joyse's react to the Tor's son's death. "All the other lords left. Why do you want to stay?"

The Tor grimaced.

"Revenge."

"For most of my life," explained the lord in a husky voice, "I have been haunted by the knowledge that I did not give King Joyse my full support when he needed it. This would have been wise policy--if he had failed. But he succeeded, thereby making me a conniving ingrate in the eyes of all Mordant. I mean to be revenged for that."

"I don't understand," Terisa repeated weakly. Maybe the Tor wasn't joking. But what kind of joke was it?

"The King needs a chancellor." The old lord didn't raise his head. "Someone who can put two coherent commands together better than that mad Imager. As long as I sit here"--he flopped one hand on the arm of his chair--"and speak as though I have authority, I will be obeyed. Whether he wishes it or not, Joyse will no longer be a passive ruler. Either I will take action in his name, or he must take action to stop me."


Gutsy of the Tor. He knows, as IrrationalSanity pointed out in an above thread, that the King is acting on purpose. This is a way to discover what that purpose actually is.

Quote:
Geraden's eyes gleamed appreciatively; but Terisa said "Wait a minute." She was too slow: she had to catch up. She had believed that the Apt was abandoning her when he left her to Lebbick. "You're giving orders in the King's name." She turned to Geraden. "You came here--you ran here--to get King Joyse to stop Castellan Lebbick." Geraden nodded. She glanced over at the King. "Does he really want to see me?"

With the exaggerated care of too much wine, the Tor scanned the room as if searching for eavesdroppers. Then he said, "No." At once, one plump finger jumped to his lips to hush himself. In a thick, whisper, he added, "But he would if he had any sense. He was asleep, so I took the liberty of speaking for him.

"Young Geraden is right," he continued sententiously. "The good Castellan should not be allowed to make decisions where women are concerned."

She felt that she hadn't stopped gaping at him. She wanted to say several things at once. What do you hope to accomplish? Oh, Geraden, I'm sorry! Do you really think he'll let you get away with this? But that wasn't the point, of course. The point was to make King Joyse declare himself--to make Mordant's sovereign take a stand that would reveal his true intentions. So she didn't ask any of her questions. Instead, she said sincerely, "I'm glad you did it. I needed rescuing."

The Tor gave her a lugubrious wink. To Geraden, he commented, "You see? Already my revenge begins to bear fruit."

"My father tells a lot of stories about you, my lord." said Geraden. "I don't think they do you justice."


The Tor's deep sorrow over losing his eldest son increases rather than diminishes his empathy. He has concerns for Geraden's dignity, Terisa's safety, and Mordant's fate. For the sake of the latter, he has worked on the difficult task of pulling himself together (as evidenced by his cleaned and orderly appearance to make a convincing chancellor).
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2020 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say the term "cell" here is not meant to be derogatory, or imply imprisonment, but merely a colloquial way to refer to a room made of immobile stone walls meant as an accommodation. Now, it may have been (and almost certainly was) less sumptuous than the King's own quarters - especially the formal spaces. Probably also far inferior to the Tor's own normal habitat (I see him as a creature of comfort). But given who the Tor is, he certainly wouldn't use the term in any way that was meant as an affront.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2020 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That explanation works for me, Sanity, and now I feel better about that passage! Thank you! Mr. Green
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2020 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, like a monk's cell or whatever. Very Happy

--A
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
Ah, like a monk's cell or whatever. Very Happy

--A


Exactly!
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