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A Fool's Bucket - Ch. 17.3

by ExOmelas


The secret passage was as narrow as it had been when it was originally hewn into the palace’s inner walls – Buck wasn’t actually sure of when that was – but it had been decorated over a period of decades with paint, candle-holders and even a nice tile-pattern along the bottom half in some stretches. Buck had tried to extend the tile work in a summer when he’d suddenly dived into an interest in interior design, but he’d turned out to be nowhere near as good with his hands as he was with his words. Still, he often wondered who had had time to decorate this mini-corridor, and how often they’d been using it that they felt a desire to do so.

He poked his head out the door when they reached their destination, making sure nobody was in the room. It was one thing to reveal the palace’s secrets when you were trying to build bridges with a diplomatic contact, quite another to make it clear to anyone who happened to be turning down the bedsheets.

“And here we have a guest bedroom,” Buck said as they exited the passageway. He gestured around as if he were a tour guide. “This is where Queen Merhen stayed, in fact.” He opted not to mention the move he and Pires had pulled on Erson in this room, using that secret passageway, to get him to agree to the banquet.

“Oh, I see,” Alkset said, following him to the door to the corridor. “It’s smaller than I might have expected for that.”

“Luxurious though,” Buck said, leading her out and heading down towards the performance hall. “That mattress? Wow.” Buck had passed out there more than once after a particularly raucous banquet night.

They continued chatting about the palace as they walked along the corridor, but hushed as Erson approached and Myal approached. Buck hadn’t spoken to Myal properly since that day at his treehouse, even if it did feel like there was still so much to say. He let his eyes drop to the ground as they passed, but Erson, who clearly was learning nothing about diplomacy, said a quick hello to them both as they walked past. Buck glanced over his shoulder and saw Myal whipping her head around to glare at Erson. Luckily the performance hall was just a few more metres down the corridor.

When they got inside, Buck immediately closed the door – possibly slightly too fast, as Alkset tilted her head to the side and frowned at him. He gulped. “Long story… Shall we get to the histories?”

“Uh, sure,” Alkset said, her frown slowly easing. “Should I have paper, by the way?”

“Oh no, no,” Buck said, waving his hands in front of himself. “These songs will stay stuck in your head if you hear them enough, trust me.”

He opened his mouth to sing of the first inhabitants of the Royal Valley, but just at that moment he heard a shout from the corridor.

“You can’t!” Myal screamed. Buck’s neck snapped around to face the door.

There were some indecipherable noises that Buck reckoned must have been Erson panicking about something, then Erson’s slightly raised voice said, “I have, okay? I have forgiven him. Neither you nor I can change that. It’s just how I feel.”

“And how did you feel about Raddig?” Myal replied.

“Oh that’s very nice, Myal,” Erson snapped. “I thought you were trying to look out for me, not throw my mistakes in my face.”

“Look out for you? He hurt me too, you know! Just because you trust too easily-”

“Could you stop pulling on my insecurities just for five seconds? I know you’re upset about what happened-”

“I am upset because he was my friend!” Myal howled. “He helped me build a court and he was going to help me build a bigger one. He valued me and actually listened to me.”

“I value you, Myal,” Erson said, slightly quieter, but the argument had built to such a pitch that even slightly quieter was still quite loud.

“Yes, but as you’ve just acknowledged, you don’t listen,” Myal said. “He saw me, he cared, he listened, he valued, whatever. But no, it was all about you, once again. Everything I did was for you, even when he first came. But building the court was going to be about me. And now you’ve forgiven him? And I just have to go along with it?”

“No, no you don’t,” Erson said. “I… I’m sorry. A lot of this is coming at me for the first time. Let’s go somewhere… quieter.”

Buck jerked his head back to face Alkset, who seemed to have been watching him the entire time, or at least for the last few moments. Oops, eavesdropping certainly wasn’t very honest, was it?

“Sorry,” he said. “I – uh – I’m worried about them.”

“Do you know what that was about?” Alkset asked, sitting down on one of the benches. Buck had considered going up on the stage, but that seemed a bit far away for teaching purposes if Alkset had any questions. So he for the moment stood on the bench in front of her, and would stand on that when he was ready.

“Sort of,” Buck said, which was as close as he could get to the truth. Technically he didn’t know everything that was going on in Myal’s mind, but he had a damn good idea now. He had tried to apologise for lying to her, but it clearly meant so much, he didn’t blame her for still being upset. Especially since he hadn’t even considered doing as she asked of him. Maybe he should have just done it, maybe he really should have just walked away from Pires if he wanted to be better than he’d been before.

“Well, let’s get on with it anyways, shall we?” Alkset asked. She leaned forward on the bench, ready to listen intently.

Buck nodded and stood up, shoving the thoughts away. He loved an invested audience, and something he noticed about Alkset was that her eyes were wide and her mouth was open but smiling. She was clearly quite eager to learn about this kingdom. As Buck started to sing, he found that smile infectious, and actually started to enjoy the relaying of the facts. While everyone knew at least part of these songs, few people could recite them in perfect time in their entirety. And technically there was a diplomatic deal riding on them, at least to some extent, so he used that to kick himself into proper excitement, and even started to improvise on the tune a bit so he could emphasise particular historical figures and moments. How could he have given this up?

When he reached a song about the beginning of Erson’s line, he considered stopping to clarify that that’s what was happening, but decided to let the reveal happen in its own time. It was quite the story, with perhaps an embarrassing amount of military conquest bringing them into residence in the Valley. Then he was tumbling through the generations until Erson’s parents and Pires’s father made an appearance, hunkered down in their tactical rooms. It really wasn’t all that far from what Buck and Pires did these days, there were just more swords involved.

Alkset didn’t raise an eyebrow at all the swords, which Buck appreciated. His stomach eased, and he realised he’d been expecting some very stern, disapproving looks. But Alkset seemed to be engrossed, just taking it all in. Buck’s fingers were held politely behind his back, so he was able to cross his fingers that that wouldn’t change if Erson’s letter was successful.


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Sat Sep 12, 2020 2:27 am
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JabberHut wrote a review...



There are a lot of things I love about Buck, and one of those things is how his brain observes his surroundings. That opening paragraph of him admiring the passageway and the tile and theorizing why someone might have considered interior decoration here and all that bit, like... that is flat out brilliant how you do that. What a great reflection of his character and a clever way to describe the setting. You do this rather often and I rarely point it out, but I really should more often. It just really stood out to me here (maybe because it was the opening paragraph) and I just had to say something about it 'cause I just love it to bits.

LOL the mattress quip.

omg what an awkward, unintentional eavesdropping.

But okay, so there's a lot going on here because, like... Erson really doesn't seem to hate Buck anymore like used to, which tells me that Erson really has been considering the circumstances of the situation and is thinking reasonably. As the narration has said numerous times, Erson is quite the diplomat. He isn't letting his emotions get the best of him but is, instead, seeking answers and solutions. So he's moving past the negative feelings toward Buck, not allowing those actions to cloud his judgment. He may not appreciate what Buck has done still, but he's being understanding enough so as to -- plainly put -- do his job.

And of course, Myal is being a little more emotional about this because she was understandably betrayed. Everything she said totally lines up here, that Buck had no negative intentions toward her and yet turned his back on their plans just like that. (Though I wonder if they could not have arranged a partnership anyway since Erson and Pires are planning a union.) So yeah, Myal isn't quick to forgive Buck.

I kind of question the logistics of how Alkset and Buck overheard this conversation. I guess, in my mind, Erson and Myal continued walking away, but maybe they stopped in the hallway after Buck and Alkset entered the room? I'm not quite sure. But regardless, Alkset overhearing this is kind of scary and dangerous. Alkset knows something is wrong, and if she detects any suspicious there, Pires could be in big trouble. Erson could potentially save his own skin, but Pires wouldn't be able to recover as smoothly if Alkset found out the truth. After all, Pires will look manipulative and... well. untrustworthy.

But it's so hard to say 'cause Alkset has been nothing but pleasant. She's asking the right questions though, and that's what kinda scares me like... oh no what is she thinking right now. It's like crossing a minefield like she could blow at any minute, but then she doesn't. XD I've no freaking clue what's going to happen as a result of her visit, man! It's so exciting and nerve-wracking!

However, I'm suuuper happy to hear that Erson is not seemingly holding a grudge against Buck anymore, at least not to the extent of farting at him in anger every once in a while. In fact, it explains why Erson has been nothing but polite lately.

But I do worry about Myal. :( I really hope she recovers okay. I want her and Buck to be BFFs agaaaiiin. //sob




ExOmelas says...


Okok I hope it gets less first draft-y from here because this was the last week of LMS and I slowed it right down for chapter 18. I think good that you are worried about Alkset here, but I don%u2019t think there%u2019s too much danger of her figuring out the situation from what was said since I didn%u2019t mention any names and the group are probably going to be there quite tight-lipped. Although Christ what if Alkset were to bump into Myal... I hadn%u2019t considered that... maybe some shenanigans for the second draft. Anyways, thanks for the review! :D



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Mon Aug 10, 2020 7:28 pm
HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm back.

First Impression: Oof Buck. Myal is still so mad at you. I guess you are going to have to try harder or just forget about her already. And Erson...that actually took me somewhat by surprise that he had forgiven Buck. I though that was like disguised animosity where he was being nice because he didn't like making scenes. That's interesting. And of course Alkset hearing that drama and we get some good ol' singing time with Buck.

Anyway let's get right to it,

The secret passage was as narrow as it had been when it was originally hewn into the palace’s inner walls – Buck wasn’t actually sure of when that was – but it had been decorated over a period of decades with paint, candle-holders and even a nice tile-pattern along the bottom half in some stretches. Buck had tried to extend the tile work in a summer when he’d suddenly dived into an interest in interior design, but he’d turned out to be nowhere near as good with his hands as he was with his words. Still, he often wondered who had had time to decorate this mini-corridor, and how often they’d been using it that they felt a desire to do so.


That's certainly an interesting idea to put in our heads.

“Oh, I see,” Alkset said, following him to the door to the corridor. “It’s smaller than I might have expected for that.”


Alkset being Alkset there. Nice bit of character development there.

“Luxurious though,” Buck said, leading her out and heading down towards the performance hall. “That mattress? Wow.” Buck had passed out there more than once after a particularly raucous banquet night.


Of course he has done that.

When they got inside, Buck immediately closed the door – possibly slightly too fast, as Alkset tilted her head to the side and frowned at him. He gulped. “Long story… Shall we get to the histories?”


Gotta watch those door closing speeds Buck. You might give away more than you intended to.

“You can’t!” Myal screamed. Buck’s neck snapped around to face the door.


Well Myal has entirely too much faith in that door's ability to prevent their conversation being overheard.

“Yes, but as you’ve just acknowledged, you don’t listen,” Myal said. “He saw me, he cared, he listened, he valued, whatever. But no, it was all about you, once again. Everything I did was for you, even when he first came. But building the court was going to be about me. And now you’ve forgiven him? And I just have to go along with it?”



We definitely are getting quite a lot of information on how Myal is feeling at the moment.

“Well, let’s get on with it anyways, shall we?” Alkset asked. She leaned forward on the bench, ready to listen intently.


Alkset appears to have bought the excuse for the moment.

When he reached a song about the beginning of Erson’s line, he considered stopping to clarify that that’s what was happening, but decided to let the reveal happen in its own time. It was quite the story, with perhaps an embarrassing amount of military conquest bringing them into residence in the Valley. Then he was tumbling through the generations until Erson’s parents and Pires’s father made an appearance, hunkered down in their tactical rooms. It really wasn’t all that far from what Buck and Pires did these days, there were just more swords involved.


Nice subtle way to let us know of the history of this place.

Alkset didn’t raise an eyebrow at all the swords, which Buck appreciated. His stomach eased, and he realised he’d been expecting some very stern, disapproving looks. But Alkset seemed to be engrossed, just taking it all in. Buck’s fingers were held politely behind his back, so he was able to cross his fingers that that wouldn’t change if Erson’s letter was successful.


Things to be going Buck's way at least a little bit.

Overall: Overall this was written really well as always. It flowed nicely. Pacing wise we are still in our slow paced rut but this is still just the end of chapter 17 so that's to be expected I guess. Overall we are getting some good and interesting insights into Alkset and that's wonderful. This seems to be going forward quite nicely.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:18 am
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hello! I have a brief gap in my working day so going to get straight to this one!

The secret passage was as narrow as it had been when it was originally hewn into the palace’s inner walls

What a lovely route to take the ambassador...

– but it had been decorated over a period of decades with paint, candle-holders and even a nice tile-pattern along the bottom half in some stretches.

Ah ok, so it's not just a dirty corridor. Fair enough!

Buck had tried to extend the tile work in a summer when he’d suddenly dived into an interest in interior design,

Haha! I can just picture this.

It was one thing to reveal the palace’s secrets when you were trying to build bridges with a diplomatic contact,

Not sure I agree with you there, Buck! Palace secrets seem like a very intimate thing, especially when not everyone in the palace knows of them. I'm still a bit surprised he's showing her.

Buck had passed out there more than once after a particularly raucous banquet night.

Brilliant!

Buck glanced over his shoulder and saw Myal whipping her head around to glare at Erson

Does she not get that he has to be civil in front of the ambassador?!?

“I have, okay? I have forgiven him. Neither you nor I can change that. It’s just how I feel.”

Oh, Erson <3

Oops, eavesdropping certainly wasn’t very honest, was it?

Does it count as eavesdropping if they can be heard loudly by everyone?

Maybe he should have just done it, maybe he really should have just walked away from Pires if he wanted to be better than he’d been before.

This doesn't seem a very strong argument, even internally. Could you change it to something a long the lines of him already having accomplished most of what he'd wanted to do and maybe he could have just walked away and left the others in peace before he upset anyone else?

Buck’s fingers were held politely behind his back, so he was able to cross his fingers that that wouldn’t change if Erson’s letter was successful.


A nice ending to a good chapter! I feel like some things are happening now which is great because the slow pace was starting to get a bit tiring :)
I also love that Erson has forgiven Buck, I wasn't sure whether he was just acting professionally in front of Alkset. I hope we get a nice little heart to heart with him and Buck in a future chapter as I'd be keen to see how he's felt about the situation the whole time and at what point he actually forgave him.

Poor Myal! I guess she's that bit younger, so forgiveness probably doesn't come as naturally. I hope she starts to miss Buck soon, and then remember all the good things so she gives him another chance. I want her to make him work for it though - girl power!

Hope this was helpful <3

Icy





Overripe sushi, The master Is full of regret.
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