My Ranking Points
W&W Chapter 12: Marisa Antiasi
Prepare for a long as heck monologue by Devyn at the end about the Silence Paradox and logical relativism, both of which (if you can believe it) I actually made up. Although logical relativism is a thing, it’s just a different thing than what I described.
To the untrained ear, the streets of Llanno are dead silent in the dark winter evenings. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear a faint rustle, the sound of clothes moving subtly in the wind as they hang out to dry. You’ll hear the wind twisting through alleys barely wide enough for one person. You’ll hear teeth chattering, families huddling together for warmth. And if you listen closely enough, you just might pick up the sound of a witless victim crying out for help against a robber or an overly zealous knight. In Antia, the word ei means no. Here, in the Antiasi slum of Medias, it means nothing.
But I’m used to that. So I make sure my dagger is tucked securely in my belt and walk on.
Occasionally, I pass the windows of people I know. There is the couple whose daughters I used to play with for hours on end. There is the boy who robbed me on my second day in Medias. There is the kind woman with auburn hair who got me the job at the Blue Falcon Inn. Now, all of them look at me with distrust, knowing that I have turned away from them, to the side of the nobles.
I give no attention to their glares. Since the Battle for Veritaria, I come here for one reason, and one reason only. My destination is at the end of the street, a little five-room boarding house with a merry fire burning in the hearth. It’s the home of the family who first took me in when I first moved to the city, and the only place in this entire town where I still feel welcome.
A gruff, bearded man greets me at the door. “Ai inala, Marisa,” he says, as quietly as possible. Everything must be quiet in Llanno. “Come on in.”
I thank him and enter the house. Instantly, the fire and the body heat in the room warm me to the bone. A group of women is gathered around the fire, knitting. Some more people are hunkered silently around a large *** of stew. In the corner, a few kids play canta, a game involving various patterns of marked sticks. As I watch, a young girl places a winning set and crows in victory, only to be shushed by one of the women.
The man tells me that Fallow is upstairs, so I head up the rickety staircase onto the second floor. I head straight for the second bedroom, the one with the door slightly ajar. When I walk in, Fallow is sitting cross-legged on the floor, drawing on a sketchpad with a rusty pen.
“Ai, Marisa,” he greets me. “It’s awful to see you.”
“Ai, Fallow. What have you got there?”
With a flourish, he rips the page out of the sketchbook. He holds it out to me. “I would have gotten you a real flower, but the line was too long,” he teases.
“Looks real enough to me,” I say.
“Ah, you lie!”
“Who could have guessed?”
Fallow laughs. “How’s life as a knight?”
I shrug, not wanting to admit that my life now is better than it’s ever been, and sit down next to him. I decide to take the easy way out. “Not the same without you.”
“Ah, silleno. You haven’t got Arden and Devyn to keep you company.”
The mention of my friends in the castle reminds me of the real reason I’m here. “Actually, there is no more serious reason I came to see you,” I say.
Fallow leans forward and props his chin up on his hands. “Do tell.”
“The queen doesn’t expect a siege on the capital soon. She plans to stay in the city, and she’s choosing a group of civilians to go with the court. I wanted you to be the last to know.”
“I understand,” he says. “What do you mean, leave? The queen is abandoning us?”
“It’s like that,” I tell him. “They aren’t evacuating the city. Once we’re in friendly territory, none of the citizens will have the choice to continue with us to the new capital in Taled, or return to their homes.”
It takes a while for him to process the information, but once he does, his eyes widen with the possibility. “You mean—”
“You couldn’t go home, to Antia. Or if you don’t want to go there, then anywhere else you want. We’ll be in the west, Fallow. It doesn’t mean we’re free.”
Everyone in the subcontinent dreams of making it to Medias one day, but the minute I arrived in the city, I realized that the east was my true goal. None of the constant attacks that Antia was subjected to, and far less prejudice and oppression than here, in the heavily urban west. Taled, Fontor, Saunwen. In the east, you could make a life for yourself.
“I…” He spins the pen once, twice in his fingers. “Wow.”
“Yeah.” I watch as he opens his mouth, then closes it and plucks the metal nib out of the pen instead. He starts polishing the rusty tip with his shirt. Finally, I decide it’s been long enough. “So, can I tell the queen you volunteer?”
“I… I don’t suppose you can.” When he inserts the nib back into its place and looks up at me, his face is more confident than before. “Yes. Count me in.”
“Great.” I stand to go, then pause in the doorway. “Will you try and get Senya and Lawrence to talk to me about it? I know I’m their favorite person right now, but…”
“I’ll see what I can’t do.”
“Thank you. Truly. And thank you for the flower. It’s anything but beautiful.”
Farrow smirks. “Does it inspire you to go out into the world and do miraculous things?”
I look at the drawing in my hand. The flower’s leaves and petals are small, uneven, as if it’s not quite fully grown. The head of the flower reaches up toward a vague idea of sunlight.
“It doesn’t,” I say. “Llona san. See you soon.”
“Llona san,” he replies, and returns to his sketchpad.
When I return to my room in the castle, Aveline is waiting for me. “Where were you?” she screeches. “You’ve been gone for hours! I was worried sick!”
“Everything’s fine,” I assure her, amused. “I was away from Llanno, visiting Fallow.”
Aveline gasps. “Fallow? You mean selfless, artistic, handsome Fallow?”
“I told you what he looked like,” I say.
She shrugs. “I filled in some choice blanks.”
“What about you?” I ask, deflecting the topic. “What did you learn from the logical researchers at lunch.”
“Ugh,” she groans. “We had better find my sister soon, because if I have to listen to another word of those nerds talking about math, I just might scream.”
“Better you than me. Didn’t you tell me you finally got them to talk about Isel?”
“I did!” Aveline reaches behind her and reveals a small, spiral-bound notebook. “You were right; asking about new research projects was what did it. Eleanor started going off about something called the transforming factor, which—I couldn’t understand most of it, but I wrote down some of what they said. I hoped that maybe Rory or Devyn could read the notes and figure it out. Do you want to take a look?”
She slides the notebook across to me, but I slide it right back. “No, thanks. I haven’t had quite enough of logic notes.”
“Okay, then I’ll read them to you while we wait.” I groan, and Aveline clears her throat importantly. “ ‘Colley says something nerdy about the Silence Paradox. Darren responds with something equally as nerdy. By the way, Darren has a super nerdy voice.’ ” She raises an eyebrow. “Would you like me to continue?”
“I’ll stay and fetch Devyn,” I say.
A few minutes later, I return to the room with Devyn in tow. Aveline hands over the notebook, and he starts flipping through it at an alarming speed. No human should be able to read that fast.
Eventually, he reaches the end of Aveline’s notes and closes the book. “Alright,” he says, breaking the silence. “I think I understand what’s going on.”
Aveline performs an elaborate bow. “Please, Sir Devyn, enlighten us.”
Devyn flips to the first page of the notebook. “You start with Colley talking about the Silence Paradox. The Silence Paradox isn’t a real paradox; it’s a dialogue written by a logical researcher named Augustus DeMorgan some seven hundred years ago. It describes a situation in which a prisoner of war is being interrogated, but the people who captured him don’t know whether he is a knight or a knave. So, they do everything they can to test his status, but the whole time, the prisoner simply stays silent. The interrogators have absolutely no way to tell if he’s a knight or a knave, so they can’t get any information from him. Now, what DeMorgan argues is that the prisoner, at this point in time, is neither a knight nor a knave. Our status, knight or knave, is determined by how we express ourselves in words, through speech or writing. Nothing more. Therefore, if one was to stop speaking or writing entirely—that is, stop using words—the very thing that defines their status would no longer exist. So, while the prisoner staying silent, he’s neither a knight nor a knave. He isn’t an irregular, either. He’s simply… nothing.” He shivers a little. “Spooky, no?”
“Nerd,” Aveline says.
He ignores her and flips a little farther. “They talk about the Silence Paradox a little longer, then Darren starts talking about logical relativism. Now, logical relativism—and I’ll keep this brief, because Aveline looks like she might injure me—is the idea that there are, in fact, different sets of rules for different people that define what truth is. We learn in school that there is one truth, and one set of rules that apply to every truth, but logical relativism suggests that there are infinite truths, with each person having slightly different rules. At first, I thought this was unfounded, but after stretching the truth these past few months, my perspective has changed. I know I have a loose definition of what makes up a statement, what pronouns are allowed to refer to, things like that. I used to think that shouldn’t change the statements I can and can’t say. But now, I don’t think that’s true. My loose definitions are the reason why I was able to convince so many people that I wasn’t working against the king. Long story short, I do believe in logical relativism, though it can be a hard concept to wrap your head around. Each person has a slightly different version of logical rules, and each set is completely valid in regards to the individual.
“Finally, Eleanor starts talking about Isel.” Aveline perks up at her sister’s name. “According to her, Isel was being held by the LR department at SoCS for a while, then was sent away to Avery for testing. This is where the final piece of the puzzle comes in, and the piece I didn’t fully understand. Avery’s transformation factor. From your notes, it seems like the transformation factor is process involving a long series of statements spoken to the subject repeatedly over a period of months, possibly even years. Each statement moves slightly away from a truth that’s already established in the subject’s system and slightly closer to what the testers want the subject to believe.
“First, the Silence Paradox is used to an extreme. The subject is outfitted with a sort of gag that—I’m sorry, Aveline—that prevents them from making any sounds resembling words. They are kept from expressing themselves through words completely for months, until they lose all concept of their own knight-ness or knave-ness. During this time, the transformation factor is used to slowly condition them to be used to a certain way of thinking. It could be a specific set of statements that the testers want to subject to believe for one reason or another, or it could be changing the subject’s entire way of thinking from a knave’s mindset to a knight’s, or vice versa. Logical relativism brings it all together. The whole reason this is possible, the reason the transformation factor should work, is that through the process of the transformation factor, the testers aren’t actually changing the status of the subject. Or, if you want to look at it a different way, none of us really have statuses except the boundaries we place on ourselves, which is crazy to think about—but don’t worry too much about it, our boundaries are so rock-solid and reinforced by magic that it would take something extreme to change them even a little. Anyway, they’re not changing the status of the subject. They’re simply changing the set of rules that the subject defines logic and truth by.” Devyn takes a deep breath. “I’d love to talk to the logical researchers more about this. But if I’ve interpreted your notes right, this is what happened to your sister.”
AND WE’VE BROKEN OUR RECORD.
Um it’s a large bowl-shaped pan cooking thing of stew
I think that censor was unnecessary but ok
Oh boy. Chapter 13’s gonna be fun, Sadie gets interrogated.