Kireh in Frostpunk
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(Well, old lady Smithers has pride in her work, so she gets a pleased nod as she admires it.)

"There is a lot going on, as you can imagine. I think it would be quite premature to deputize you, and your position is a bit clouded, yes. A statement on my authority declaring that you have engaged in important work for the city, perhaps... The actual work I would ask of you is interrogation of several people involved in various incidents. I will not submit them for judgement on your claims alone, but information gathered this way could rule them innocent or open new avenues of investigation and save a lot of time. Something that is in ever decreasing supply."


"I can perform interrogations, yes.

What would such a statement by you accomplish? Beyond dispelling alarm at my appearance?

I care a lot about certainty in my obligations and powers, and I'm happy to accept a narrower position in exchange for more certainty.

I read that criminals may be exiled to 'the colonies'. What happens to them there? Would remanding them to my custody be an acceptable sentence? I would strongly prefer to have a veto on who I accept, and would filter on potential loyalty to me, among other things, so I'm fine with a requirement that they consent." For now. "The longest contract that I'll negotiate with you now is two years."


"Transportation usually means to Australia, a wide and sparse land. It was proposed as a kinder alternative to prison- The guilty may choose to be sent there with a small amount of supplies, to start a new life, but that is suspended given the frost. It would just be a roundabout execution, not to mention tying up valuable transportation capacity. I can't remand anyone to your custody in good conscience without getting to know you, miss Kireh. Even if I did, I would want assurances that you would treat them as one of Her Majesty's prisons would, or better. And two years... No, I think we had better work on a short-term arrangement and extend it later if it continues to be acceptable."

"If it reassures you, I can alter the language I was planning to use within reason. The statement would authorize you to live in Bristol, hopefully dispel alarm at your appearance though there is never any guarantee with the public, and impress upon people that you ought be treated as a free and respectable person- As opposed to a vagrant or criminal, that is. I do have a letters patent, a royal order authorizing me specifically as chief of police to take action, if that would reassure you on my authority. This is not the original, but a copy."

He pulls it out of his coat pocket and unfolds it.

Our advisors inform Us that the unending winter of the last year, is likely the return of the great Ice Ages of yore.

Furthermore and disturbingly, that a strong chance exists that this return will birth great storms which will scour the Tropics and Temperates, saving only a rough oval in the North and Centre of the Near East.

Our advisors furthermore inform Us that you, sir Timothy McAllen, have served nobly and well, and are of good temperament and character.

Accordingly, Our response to this Ice Age is to charge and empower You to maintain order in the city of Bristol, superseding the Governor and any similarly appointed Captains.

Your duties in this matter are chiefly concerned with preventing the dissolution into barbarism that We have observed in some of Our territories.

For this duty We do issue You the position of Grand Sherriff, and give authorization to dispense Justice and Punishment in accordance with Our laws, to issue ordinary civil command and permit in Our name as one of Our judges, and to issue writs of Labor, Requisition, and Permit at your discretion.

We charge you to uphold your honor for the better preservation of the Our people and industries in Bristol and all of the Empire.

It is of particular note that Bristol's shipyards provide vital transportation to Our realm, and any completed vessel shall surely preserve many lives.

Thus We also charge you with ensuring the ship construction continues uninterrupted as much as possible.

In this manner We hope to have the best chance of preserving the future.

God Speed

Victoria R.

"As you can see, I answer to the Queen and Her agents, and do not answer to but cooperate with the Governor and I.E.C. Captain Blemwick. I have permission to give you a position. I will require you to keep confidential things that you discern during interrogations except from myself or officers authorized by myself, except for topics I specifically permit as no longer secret."


"How would you define and measure treatment equal to or better than prison? If I were to acquire subordinates some other way, as feudal vassals, not as slaves - I understand that slavery is prohibited - would our relationship be recognized, for example in not interfering with me hunting them down if they change their mind and try to leave?

Among Marra's followers where I'm from, there is a custom that if you save someone's life, they're yours, with the exception that you have to offer them the alternative of a quick painless death. Do you have any similar custom here?

A shorter contract is fine. The shortest duration I'm willing to negotiate now is ten minutes; 100 rounds.

May I be authorized to live in Bristol and in a shelter that the people of Bristol are evacuated to? Do you have that authority?

How would I go about verifying your letters of patent? How would one verify the statement from you?

I would swear not to divulge by any means information that I learn because of interrogations I perform, unless I already know it or later learn it some other way."


"...If you 'hunt down' anybody, I will have to arrest you for assault. We don't have such traditions, as I said, slavery is illegal. You are not a noble and I cannot make you one, I cannot recognize people as yours in any other manner than marriage or employment. Or adoption, I suppose. You can hire people, and sign contracts with them that they would owe you labor or money if broken, but if they break the contract you would be entitled to report this and file civil suit, not enforce it yourself. I can authorize you to live in Bristol and am willing to as part of payment, I can't make promises about the I.E.C. evacuation."

"I can show you the original letter which is sealed with the royal seal, and you can ask the Governor's people at city hall about the letters. The libraries would also have information indicating that letters of patent exist. I would post a complementary statement publicly before the station and make it known among officers that I have done this. I do hope we can both have things we want, here, but you are not in Stonepeak."


"To be clear, I am now much less motivated to save the lives of strangers at my own risk. Are there rewards for that?

How does marriage work? Can anyone at all make me a noble? Can I marry into the nobility?

If not, I can work with temporary, consensual relationships with my subordinates. I will, of course, obey all local laws, to the degree that they are intended to be universally obeyed.

How are new laws passed? What areas are under the jurisdiction of the laws that have been explained to me? What happens in abandoned areas, such as the tropics if the storms mentioned in your letters make it uninhabitable?"


"Not specifically.

Marriage is a sacred, lifelong bond between two people, a set of vows to raise a family together. You could marry into the nobility if you found a willing noble, perhaps, other than that- Just the Queen herself, and not something I think you should be focusing on as a legitimate possibility. The legislative process is summarized well in several books which I shall have lent to you. In abandoned areas the laws are what you agree upon and can enforce, I suppose, though making your own laws will lose you any association and protection with those of the United Kingdom unless some agreement is come to. Let's do some verification exercises and finish our initial deal. Mr. Comb, you read my instructions?"


"If you can elicit the instructions I gave to Mr. Comb from his mind, I will consider your claims of reading thoughts verified."

Mr. Comb frowns dubiously at her from the corner.


"To read his thoughts I'll have to touch him..." She carefully gets up and walks over to touch his shoulder. Marra's Inquisition.

Casting a spell and then concentrating means that she can't keep readying actions each round, for at least three rounds. On the upside, if they attack her unlawfully she'll be free of their laws too.


Mr. Comb has a feeling like someone is listening, engrossed by his every word, and he can't turn away or stop speaking to them.



He's not going to make it easy, though. Criminals would at least try to be squirrely, you know, and think about anything but what they're guilty of. Like lunch, which was terrible. They're running out of tea and jam, and it's going to get worse, but he feels entitled to complain about it anyway.


"There's some instructions Police Chief McAllen gave to you... did he hand you a piece of paper? Or leave them out for you to find... Perhaps they were delivered to you. In an envelope, or on a nice sheet of paper, or written on the wall, or in a notebook... How thoughtful of him to give you the chance to participate in this experiment... or maybe not... Did you consent to this? ... Of course a criminal being interrogated might not know exactly what I'm capable of... Maybe I can get at your memories directly, or guide your thoughts towards those instructions. It'd have to be subtle but do you feel the pressure? After you ate lunch, did you get them then? It would have been nice if the instructions were written on your plate with jam..."

This is harder when she can't use pain and pleasure to guide his thoughts.


He's not a pushover in the realm of smarts, but also has no practice with this sort of thing. He makes it annoying, and tries to lie in the thoughts and bring up the wrong instructions, but it's obvious this is a lie. It's not too difficult to tease out though. His 'secret instructions' were to find a particular record in the records room, 144345, and bring it to McAllen, but not until late evening, and not to let anyone else know a secret test was going on.


She drops the spell and readies Charm Person again. "Is this a private place in which I can tell you information I gained from an interrogation, Police Chief McAllen?" It's a genuine question, but also lets her subtly delay until she's covered by a readied action again, just in case they were waiting to attack her until after they got the results of the test.


"Private enough. It's what interview rooms are for."

Nobody attacks her! Funny how often that happens.


"Fetch record 144345 from the record room, bring it to you late this evening, and don't let anyone else learn of these secret orders."

This is normally where she might ruffle Mr. Comb's hair, but as an entity who only forms habits when she intends to (yay), she easily dismisses this thought and is not at any risk of doing anything untoward.

(So what if they're still not attacking her. She has nothing but disgust for the strategy of being nice to someone until their positive feelings spill out and corrupt the rest of their judgement. She is thankfully immune.)



What say you to four hours of interrogations today and four tomorrow, in exchange for a writ of permission to reside in Bristol, a notice that you are engaged in important work, and fifteen shillings?"

(Mr. Comb's pay, as he thought of while trying not to think of his instructions, is one pound sterling - twenty shillings - a week.)


She nods. "Deal. I swear never to divulge by any means information that I learn because of interrogations I perform at your command (direct or delegated), unless I already know that information or later learn it some other way, or unless you release me in whole or in part, or your delegates or successors, determined as best as I can reasonably-by-my-standards assess who you would endorse as representing your intent."

Does the dress have pockets?


The dress does not have pockets.

McAllen proceeds to write down the details of the deal and tells her that he'll have officers bring the people to be interrogated in one at a time, with a list of topics to question them on. She is not to deliberately lead their thoughts outside of these topics and is to stop the read if she encounters something obviously irrelevant, because if people think the police are on a witch hunt for anything they've ever done wrong in their lives it will cause problems later and the easiest way to prevent that is to simply not do that, and they'll be permitted to tell her to stop, though of course they'll understand that doing that is extremely suspicious. He thinks they'll be able to start in half an hour if she wants to go read something or perhaps shop close by first. Here's six shillings.


She's impressed with his Lawfulness.

"If they deliberately think about lunch, I'll interpret that as asking to stop. If they accidentally think of something irrelevant and I stop, can they ask to start again? If that happens a lot - some people are easily distracted - can they consent to me continuing past irrelevant thoughts?

Should I clarify the policies myself, or assume that they have already been explained?"


"Yes, yes, and you should explain it again even if they have already been explained. Some people are slow."



She'll need a handbag or purse of some sort to carry her money and letter, but that can wait until she actually has the letter. (So she knows how big it is, and to calm any panicking shopkeepers.)

She continues reading the law books.


McAllen departs.

The Queen is technically all powerful, but in practice delegates legislative power to the House of Lords (nobles) and House of Commons (elected commoners). There was much recent protesting about some laws regarding the spread of disease being unfair to women, until said laws were repealed by royal order. Some of the most recent laws are those regarding Steam Cores and the automata that can be constructed from them and boil down to 'you are responsible for the actions of automata you own, and can be charged with manslaughter, maiming, and destruction if they kill people or break things and it's judged as negligent or deliberate'.

A pair of very official looking writs on fancy parchment arrive a few minutes later. They're perhaps a foot long and half that wide. One of the off-duty officers will escort her and explain, just to head off more reports of her at the source and save everyone some trouble until her existence is a bit more known.


So slavery is just fine if the slaves are automata?

She would like a handbag that can strap firmly to her body so she can move and fight with it, a hard case for the letter (it doesn't have to be fancy; two pieces of wood or stiff leather would be fine), and fabric to pad it. How much are healing potions? Does this store post advertisements? She'd like to offer her services as a teacher, therapist, scout, organizational consultant, guard, or 'any other legal activity you might care to use me for', with a description of her abilities and appearance, and stating that she can probably be found near the police station.


Er... A handbag and protective case and fabric scraps can be had for about a shilling. Automata aren't people, they're machines... And healing potions are not a thing. The chemist has medicines of various kinds available, of course, depending on what's troubling her...? And she can post something on the notice board for two pence if she writes it up herself and it's not, um, disturbing or heretical or anything. A sheaf of paper (counting twenty) and a pen is eight pence.


(She would still like to try mind-reading one, but it's not urgent.)

She's in perfect health herself, but she's worried about accidentally injuring someone with her claws. Or deliberately, and doing more damage than she intended.

Those prices are acceptable. If her advertisement doesn't say anything about religion, is that sufficient to avoid heresy?

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