Book4 59:2/Text

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In contrast to the grandeur of the rest of the palace, the walls down here were filthy.

The Signamancy of dungeons was universal and intentional. If you were here, then red velvet and gold leaf and black marble were not meant for your eyes. You were supposed to feel bad things. You were in trouble.

The topic of the city dungeons rarely crossed Don's thoughts. By custom, prisoners were brought before the King and not the other way around. Yet here he was, descending the steps to meet a prisoner, for the second time in just three turns.

And Signs certainly pointed to trouble.

The last Ruler to imprint his Signamancy on the capital in a big way had been King Corso the Dog, who'd lived two kings and a queen ago. He'd given the palace four dungeons: the locker, the cellar, the tower and the hole.

The one Don was now gracing with his regal regard was the cellar lockup, where his wine lived. Once in a few tenturns, he would be moved to order Bill out, and come down here to pay his respects to the casks in person. Hello, my nostrum. I have come to suck the blood of my enemies, through your oaken skin, he would tell it. To the older vintages, he would speak as if talking to the King or Queen under whom they were vented.

Well. No time for such discourse now. He barely spared the barrels a nod, as he tramped on by the vintage where the grapes of past were stored. There were currently three prisoners in the cellar lockup. He didn't need any of them to hear him taking to his wine.

Why four dungeons?

Whyfor, indeed. Don did not know. Transylvito's Rulers had a notable talent for staying alive, so "two kings and a queen" was a pretty long time ago. And during his reign, Corso had done selfishly little writing.

But maybe the Dog himself couldn't even have said why. Signamancy was like that. It happened. Maybe the guy's own heart was a kind of dungeon. Don could sorta relate. Just like the dungeons, recent events had served to remind him that he also still possessed a heart.

He'd found it to be a similarly neglected, filthy, and unworthy place. And if you were in there, you were in trouble.

"Hello, spy," he said, as he reached the cell he was seeking.

There in the shadows, the Turnamancer raised her face to him and wept.

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