Orbiting a planet, there is a moon. On that moon, there is a castle. In that castle, there is - well, a lot of things, many of which will become relevant shortly. But for the moment, let's focus on a particular cell: it's stone, with one wall in metal bars and a door hanging slightly open, and it has a wood bench big enough to lie down on in one corner. In that cell, there is - no one, for the moment.
Note to self: dancing on the ceiling has occasionally unpredictable consequences.
Jamie ‘falls’ into the formerly empty cell, a word which here means ‘twists around in a ludicrous act of agility and grace and lands with perfect poise into a vague defensive position’.
There is now a carrot in his hands. It’s also a knife.
It appears there's no one around to notice this. The rhythmic clicking and whooshing of some sort of machinery can be heard from down the hall, as can what sounds like it might be occasional whimpers and hisses from someone in pain.
This is probably Alexander’s fault.
Growing anything interesting from wood alone is tricky, but he’s third circle and he knows his shit, he can manage.
A small, vividly purple mushroom sprouts from the bench over the course of about thirty seconds; he plucks it up, and taps it, once, twice, three times. It disappears in a puff of glittery magenta smoke and the scent of cinnamon; the smoke accumulates on the hinges of the door, for just a few seconds.
He opens the door, carrot still in hand, walks through, and closes it. It doesn’t make a sound.
The magenta smoke dissipates.
He walks, casually, onto a wall, and then onto the ceiling of the hallway. He flattens himself against that ceiling, and starts creeping forward, silently, towards the source of noise.
Where he finds someone hooked up to a sinister-looking contraption of gears and pistons, eyes scrunched closed and breathing irregularly. They're chained to an angled table and the device seems to be pulling some sort of glowy substance, in variously-sized and variously-hued orange particles, out of their chest.
Jamie’s really not being paid nearly enough for this bullshit.
Neither is the person on that slab, presumably.
He fiddles absently with one of his suspiciously floral necklaces, and jumps up from the ceiling; he ceases to be jumping and begins falling about halfway to the floor. He lands, crouched down, hardly making a sound.
He flicks a wooden bracelet with a rose growing out of it; it huffs, slightly, before obediently spitting out a small black cherry. That cherry proceeds to make rather more ominous ticking noises than any self-respecting and respectable cherry would ever dare to.
Hello, bizarrely inorganic machinery harvesting something or other out of a person. Have you ever met a cherry bomb? Now you have! Also you’re presumably broken in a dozen different ways, but, you know, you win some, you lose some.
The person startles violently at the explosion and stays flinched for several seconds. When nothing else happens, they uncurl, gradually - from as much as they were able to shrink into themself in the restraints - and look over at Jamie. They say a single syllable Jamie doesn't recognize, and then a couple more as an afterthought in between ragged breaths.
Good for them.
What even is that language. Is he even in the Empire. - he doesn’t have time to wait for them to rasp out some unrecognizable monologue.
He flicks out his carrot-knife, strides over to the angled table, and starts sawing at their chains. If they’re close to steel he’ll be able to cut through in a few seconds.
They are, it turns out, much stronger than steel! But, as the person within them tries to indicate, at first with their still-unfamiliar words and then with their limited gestural ability, they're only bolted, not locked. Impossible to escape from the inside, totally possible for literally anyone outside them to undo.
Once they have an arm free, they do a kind of hand dance and summon a ball of the glowy stuff, floating above their palm, hold it out to Jamie, and try to indicate he should poke it.
What sort of ridiculous design constraints could’ve possibly -
... this random stranger sure has eaten some interesting mushrooms.
You know what, sure, he has his trigger set up, he’ll poke the mysterious ball of light.
It explodes, harmlessly and sparkfully, out to a radius of a couple inches, where the pieces remain suspended a tick before swirling back into the skin of their caster's hand. It doesn't feel like anything, and it has no other noticeable effects.
The stranger says something with a tone that suggests they expect to be comprehensible now. They still aren't.
He’s still not being paid enough for this.
He removes the rest of their chains and taps his ear.
“I can’t understand you.”
Extremely confused stranger.
He points at them, and then points at the hallway he came from.
They heft themself off the table, walk out the door, and wait for him outside it. They don't appear to be having balance issues or the like, but they do start trembling enough that it's visible from several feet away, which they resolutely ignore.
They can just... walk down that hallway, then.
Yup. It's still deserted. Quieter, without the machine; the only sound is the stranger's soft-but-not-silent footsteps.
Although they were just being tortured, to be fair.
Jamie continues to hold his carrot-knife at ready.
The stranger follows along for a bit, then abruptly stops, listens for a moment, and grabs Jamie's sleeve to pull him back the way they were going.
Still not getting paid enough for this.
Is this a ‘silently running at high speed’ sort of situation? This feels like a ‘silently running at high speed’ sort of situation.
The stranger doesn't seem to think so! They keep it to a brisk walk.
- Jamie notices this, after a few seconds of running, and slows down such that they’re once again walking together, with the individual to be henceforth known as ‘ginger, concerning, and easily confused’ in the lead.
They continue to head that direction until they come to a fork, where they indicate to Jamie to wait a moment and draw a rectangle parallel to the floor in the air on their left side. They point to Jamie and themself, then inside the rectangle. After a brief pause, they hop their hand over the edge and set up their other hand as a landmark that the first one travels to and then flies sharply away up into the distance. With a presentative motion, they group that all as one thing.
Then, they switch to their right side and set up a new rectangle and put Jamie and themself inside it again. This time, they move their hand to a different part within the rectangle and mime hiding; with that established, they bounce back and forth narrowly with not-quite-crossed arms in the manner of a person waiting. They set one hand flat and above their eye level and bring the other one up to meet it from below in slow increments while shooting out a few small sparks of the glowy stuff. When their hands touch, they drop into a fighting stance and spray out more sparks at an imaginary enemy; this all gets grouped together with the same gesture the other side did.
It's all very flourishy, even with the shaking; they set themself evenly between these options and put their arms out in a sort of shrug (or perhaps they're imitating a balance scale) and start shifting between them while looking at Jamie questioningly.
This is such a ludicrously bizarre situation.
Jamie takes several moments to successfully parse this. He gestures at the left option.