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Dec 12, 2019 8:37 AM
Lacey has a questionably bad time
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"No, it just means I don't have to think about it, any pain they feel goes straight to the mountain. And they're immortal until I decide to kill them. Which is very useful. I could just go raid the healing fountain in the old capital and be very careful with you..."

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"Of course you can get into the old capital. I don't know why that never occurred to me. If that's an option, it sounds...very appealing."

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He laughs softly. "It's an option. And it appeals to me too. What did you mean when you said you'd have to know me better?"

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"...You know how normal people mind if a stranger sees them naked? I'm like that about--some things. Pain is one of them. I like you well enough, but--some things want to wait a bit."

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"Hmm," he says consideringly. "All right. Then I suppose the next question is, do you want to stay at my castle a while?"

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"Well, it's bound to be more interesting than the capitol, and I don't have anywhere else I need to be anytime soon."

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"I have more guest rooms than I could ever conceivably need; I like decorating them," he says cheerfully. "I'll show you around and you can pick one. Do you like books? I have a magnificent library."

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"I love books!"

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"Look down there," he says, crossing the top of the tower and leaning over the parapet to point at a huge beautiful round skylight. Beneath it, eight floors of balconies surround a central column of empty space, and behind each railing stand ranks and ranks of bookshelves.

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"Oh..." she breathes, looking down. "This must--is there a bigger library anywhere on the planet?"

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He grins.

"If there is, I don't know about it."

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"This is utterly delightful. You know, if someone had told me a week ago that I'd be glad the Lord of the Howling Mountain had noticed me I'd have--not even called them crazy, just made a rude gesture and told them what I told you about silly buggers. But this is--wow. Do the normal torturees get library access, because I'm not sure that wouldn't be a worthwhile tradeoff in itself."

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He laughs. "They could use the library if they wanted to, actually, but they tend to stay out of the castle. Want a closer look?" He offers his hand.

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She takes it. "Do they know about the library?"

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And they're in the wind, and then they're in the library, standing by the railing on the top floor.

"Some of them do!"

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"I can't explain it, then," she shrugs, and looks around, the crane of her neck turning into a delighted twirl partway through. "Flying like that is so cool, is it even better when you're the one driving?"

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He laughs again. "Yes."

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"If you want any more complicated reactions out of me than 'overflowing undifferentiated delight' you're probably going to have to wait a few minutes!" she says brightly, darting over to look at the nearest bookcase.

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"I like the overflowing undifferentiated delight."

The nearest bookcase has relatively modern fiction, where 'relatively modern' means the last few centuries. She might even recognize some titles. Everything is in absolutely perfect condition.

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Probably magic. She runs her fingers down the spine of one of the older ones gently, almost reverently. Then she twirls around again. This is so, so exciting, and she's going to need a little time to mellow out before she can stand still long enough to actually think about reading any of them. And she should probably not just abandon her host like that.

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Her host seems pretty content to just stand there and lean on the railing and watch her be gleeful.

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Her host is delightful on levels she had not previously realized were possible for someone with his horrifying habits! Assuming he's been being honest with her, at least, which she thinks he has. She appreciates that a lot, honesty is important. But:

"I should probably. Get a guest room. Or something. Before abandoning you to dive headfirst into one or several books."

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He laughs. "Yes, that's reasonable. I'll show you the closest rooms, shall I?"

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"That sounds like an excellent plan!"

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So he leads her through the castle to a nearby corridor where there are plenty of guest rooms, all beautifully decorated.

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