Teysa's visit with Uncle has concluded productively, and she is returning from the mansion district to the city center. She says farewell to the ancient solifuge golem Pazapatru who guards the bridge, but as she steps off its edge and her messenger thrulls approach, something ripples. She trips on her bad leg and briefly loses sight of her surroundings.
He smiles thinly. "Unfortunately, there is an unwritten fourth rule. The Chaplains may not explain the rules. The prisoners may, and you may learn them by observation. It really is quite safe if you're careful, but I understand not wishing to take the risk."
"Ah. No, I don't think I shall. I much prefer complex rules I know to simple rules I don't."
"Hopefully our busy harbor traffic control will be in a cooperative mood for your plans," The Glib Performer snarks, not looking up from his journaling. "In the meantime, there's dice and cards and wandering the boring empty grounds."
"Don't mind him, he's in a mood," the Reformer says warmly. The Conformer begins putting away the tea, moving mechanically.
"If I do find myself her a while, is there anything I could do in exchange for your continued hospitality? The thrulls are good workers, and with some time I could make one to leave you with - they're not quite sapient, nor quite alive, but close enough. And myself I can do some truth magic, write contracts that will enforce themselves, within reason. ...If you want more lights, that won't be permanent but it's quite easy."
"The lanterns fail for anyone except their prisoner, even after release. We manage." The Conformer's voice is polite and monotone.
"Piranesi provides the essentials, our cupboard will never be bare, though never rich. And you may rest here while we are about our duties. I would not turn away some assistance with the garden."
"You'll have to direct me; we bought all our vegetables. And my bad leg may be a bit of an impediment. But certainly." Also, she's probably going to have do manual labor regularly here, she is unlikely to be rich any time soon. Might as well start getting used to it.
If their attention is drawn to her leg, they'll notice her severe clubfoot. She puts very little weight on it, and everything from the shin down looks about as twisted as the thrulls outside, though it's elegantly disguised by the cut of her pant leg and the drape of her cape. She supports herself with a very solid cane, ivory-handled and filigreed and engraved to match her ostentatious clothes.
(Clothes and cane both are color-coordinated in white, black, and gold, clearly artfully designed and cut with a clear style in mind, one that even suits her coloration, but they are heavily decorated. They mostly manage to stay short of 'gaudy', but only mostly.)
The Gallant Reformer makes cheerful small talk about the prisoners as they go about the garden. This prisoner has given up their name; A perilous thing, he wishes he'd convinced them of another way. That one is engaging him in a fascinating series of ethical debates. Transforming from a thug to a scholar. A success story in the making. The thrulls can help with the gardening too. It seems more like a light hobby than anything else.
After a few hours there's a distant echoing bell-chime. A pair of tones coming from the stop, ding-dong, a pause, then another ten seconds later, and repeating.
"Arrival at the station, I assume? I should probably meet them there."
"Yes, indeed. The bell goes off when they're coming in to land. I don't understand the equipment, but visiting crews tend to give it a once-over, if only because they want to come back. Good luck!" The Gallant Reformer waves her off.
"And to you, and thank you all."
She turns to the waiting thrulls. (They didn't garden; too violent and too dim, respectively.) "Gruggs, follow. Two paces behind, but on guard."
Back to the station, and let's see what an 'engine' looks like.
The vessel approaching the dock has landed and begun disembarking uniformed men and women by the time she arrives. The sailors and uniforms both are dirty and worn from hard work.
It's a large roughly cylindrical metal thing - perhaps two or three hundred feet long, more a small ship than a large carriage in size. The side of the vessel is a long cylinder. Shiny-looking wood broken up by a few portholes, a pair of study hatch-style doors, and what looks like a big cargo hatch. A smoke stack peers out from above, closer to the rear of the vessel. Some of the panels are cracked and damaged and patched over with... Less inspiring bits of metal, dull and scratched. There's also the pointed shape of some sort of weapon poking through a metal debris shield at the front, and a large stained-glass window glistening deeply green. The cylindrical shape seems to be some sort of aesthetic choice, rather than a practical one. Low groans of settling machinery and the hiss of gas under pressure echo as she approaches.
The crew don't seem especially wary, even once they notice the thrulls. One nods at her a bit nervously.
"Hello. I've found myself landed here unexpectedly, and I'd like to negotiate passage. Who should I speak to?"
"The Bearded Captain will, once he's dealt with the prisoner I'm sure, ma'am."
"Would he benefit from preventing the prisoner from lying, do you think? Or is it past that stage? A 'verity circle' is among my unusual talents."
"I don't know much about the prisoner, ma'am. Only that we got him from a crossroads. And the Beard is more partial to gold and gems, I think."
That sounds more like a captive than a prisoner, really.
"I think I should offer my assistance regardless. And, well, if all he needs is an executioner, I have one of those in tow as well." She gestures to Belpheb, who is excitedly muttering and flexing his claws.
That is the moment when a slightly better dressed person of indeteminate gender, some sort of officer, ushers a manacled man out of the engine. Shackles bind his wrists, and a heavy lantern like the ones decorating the path hangs from his arm. His face bears a curling sigil in some strange language, burned on. His eyes dart around and latch onto her.
"Shut it," the officer instructs. The prisoner cringes and goes silent as a Captainly figure with a good two feet of braided beard steps down.
"Well, let's be finished with this," the Bearded Captain says with a sigh.
"Captain, you seem displeased with your options. I believe I can supply another worth considering before you do anything final. No charge."
"Oh? I don't think you know what's going on here, but do tell. And who might be offering this?"
"If you want to check whether you can trust the captive's word, whether to claim innocence or offer future payment or otherwise, I can assure he speaks the truth. I find this is usually worth employing before handing down a verdict. Even if you still choose-" she pauses and considers the Conformer's comment about lanterns - "-something irrevocable."
She hasn't quite gotten a handle on local names, so she'll hedge her bets somewhat. "My family is Karlov, my home is Ravnica, and the first chaplain I spoke to called me the Dire Lady. None of which I expect means anything to you."
"Dire Lady is a fine enough 'nym. Names proper tend to be reserved for ones you're close to. Or gossip. And I suppose I could get some answers, with that sort of service, but you're mistaken. I am not the judge here, just the transportation. He already has a lantern, and the mark of the Halved's disapproval. Piranesi is a kindness."
"Then I shan't slow things down for curiosity's sake. Do you want help carrying him to the gate?"
"No, no. There has to be another way!"
"I'm afraid not, old man. A Judgement like this is not easily satisfied." Judgement is verb and noun both, here. "Piranesi is your best hope. That or the Griever's maw. The Chaplains will help you."
"Damn you all! Throw me away then. Get it over with. Do not bother your conscience with it."
The wretch starts walking down the gravel path, not looking back. Officer and Captain follow grimly.
Teysa is interested to see what happens when they send someone into the prison. She follows behind the two officers, watching the convict.
The Gallant Reformer comes out to meet them and speaks to the condemned man like a priest giving last rites. The prisoner listens, but doesn't reply.
The great oak door swings open gently, revealing a maze of passages and arches and bridges and hanging chains. Far too many, in far too great a distance, to fit in what the manor appears to be outside. A few points of light bob along in the distance.
The lanterned man steps through, and between steps - twists and vanishes into the distance.
"Sorry to bring you more work, chap. I'll have some supplies sent over to make up for it."
"If it pleases you," the Reformer allows.
"And I believe you wished to discuss passage?" He asks, dragging his eyes from the prison. "Back to the ship if you will..."