Ascending Air 2, RY 768
Afternoon. Manse of the Three, at the Center of Great Forks.
Don Tumbaga found himself at the imposing door of the Dayshield's room. He hadn't been here before, but the way in seemed really, really familiar, for reasons he couldn't place. He had received the invitation several hours ago; just before noon, in fact. The door opened and inside Don Tumbaga found a hall with the ensigns and livery of the military of Great Forks decorating its interior. At the end of the hall was a handsome, heavy desk; the arrangement of the room was such that it appeared to be centered around the use as an audience or briefing chamber. Behind the desk sat Shield of a Different Day, or Dayshield. For a goddess of war, she was strikingly beautiful, with the soft curves of the woman each soldier dreams about returning to. Long tresses of raven hair fell around handsome features. Her armor is clean and polished, and her shield gleamed of sunlight.
"Don Tumbaga at your service, milady," said the wrestler, removing his sombrero as he shuffled in. He felt briefly awkward about wearing a mask in front of a high-ranking deity, but â€¦ it was pretty much his true face, after all.
"Welcome, Don Tumbaga. Please, have a seat." Dayshield indicated one of the heavy oak chairs with velvet cushions that lay in front of the desk. "Would you like anything? Tea? Wine?"
Don Tumbaga gratefully took a seat. "I'll share what you're drinking, if you are."
Dayshield made a gesture and a functionary in the livery of the Great Forks administration appeared at the door with a pair of plain goblets. After he left them, Don Tumbaga found that Dayshield apparently preferred water.
"I want to apologize for the interruption at your place of business last night. As I'm sure you have seen, such incidents are relatively rare in Great Forks."
Don Tumbaga shivered. "I hope so. I'm just glad it ended as â€¦ er, as well as it did. Which was not very well." He sighed. "I thought I would like being a bouncer because I could prevent people from fighting, by scaring them away. Perhaps I was naive." He tilted his head to one side. "There's also the fact that I also cook, and mend clothes, and clean up, and â€¦ it's just so easy to get caught up when there is so much to do." He suppressed another shiver as he mentally tried to recall whether he'd successfully convinced Pedrito to cover his shift. No. He had. Good.
Dayshield smiled; it was surprisingly genuine, coming from a Celestial deity. "I am glad that you do not find such work trivial. It speaks well of you. I commend you for your actions, as well. You did well in protecting your fellows. In the future, however, perhaps you could try to find a more restrained method of protection. I understand you hold your friends in high regard, but our Enforcers can see to justice being served. There is no need to inflict undue pain on the guilty."
"I wish there had been less painful means available," said Don Tumbaga. "I can't say I've ever, you know â€¦ cooked anyone before. I don't think I've ever severely injured anyone before. But as I saidâ€”injuring people isn't my job. If I'd been at the door, I wouldn't have had to throw anything. But I wasn't, and nothing else was there to throw." He looked at his lap. "I wish there had been a more restrained method of protection. I wish I could have saved Silver the â€¦" The words froze in his throat. "â€¦ I think you know what I mean." He looked up. "I think I am less upset by the possibility that I overreacted, than by the realization that I didn't. You'd think there would always be some way to make things right that didn't involve injuring people. This time â€¦ this time there was not. I'm not used to that."
Dayshield searched Don Tumbaga's face. "I think you underestimate your own ability as one of the Sun's Chosen. But it is as much a strength as a weakness."
"I think I underestimate myâ€”the Sun's Chosen? Wait, because I'm a Southerner?"
"Because you are Exalted. It is not my place, however, to tell you what that means. It is something you will have to discover yourself."
"Is it something that means I won't have to hurt people?"
Dayshield looked sad, for a moment. "It is, perhaps, something that means you will not have to hurt as many people as you may have had to otherwise."
After a distant look, she brought her focus back to the Don. "The man you stopped will be before a judge as soon as he is well enough. It is very likely they will find him guilty of aggravated assault. I would not be surprised to see him made a slave for some amount of time. Unfortunately, your friend will also be seeing a judge-for attacking that man after you had incapacitated him."
Don Tumbaga was silent for a full thirty seconds.
"â€¦ because she knocked out the man who tried to rape her?" He scratched his head. "Is there some way that I could take the blame?" He was thinking, *because I'm Exalted,* but he didn't say that.
"No, Don Tumbaga. Because she almost killed the man who tried to rape her after he was already on the ground and no threat to anyone. If that same man had been treated and sent home, and then, while asleep somewhere else in the city, your friend attacked him in the same way, would that be a just thing? Would that follow the rule of law?â€
"No, but it's also quite a different situation. You are familiar with the effects that a rape attempt has on a victim's head?" he said, tapping his temple with a finger. "For that matterâ€”on *onlookers'* thoughts?" The nervous angles had disappeared from his mask.
"It is likely they will take that into consideration at the hearing. If you wish to speak for her there, that is your right. The law, however, is clear. Whether it be robbery, rape, assault or any other crime, once the perpetrator has been incapacitated, any further attack on their person is vigilantism."
"Vigilantism implies premeditation," said Don Tumbaga, "and choice. Combat did not occur on those terms. I may be Exalted, and subject to different rulesâ€”but Silver was and is mortal. I won't stand by and watch any court trivialize the effects of sexual violence on a woman." He nodded. "I will be there."
Dayshield looked extremely concerned. "If you captured that man in battle, then, would you allow abuse on him?"
"No. Had I been able to hold Silver back, I would haveâ€”but I couldn't, andâ€”look, you've seen war," said Don Tumbaga. "You've seen the war-haunting before. Old men who fought in only one battle decades prior, who see something that reminds them of the death of a comrade and are â€¦ removed from the world." These last four words were spoken with difficulty. I've seen menâ€”sane, wise men, grazed by the spear of but one battleâ€”fall apart in the comfort of their homes, screaming of threats they saw years past. In my village, a veteran who had done nothing but farm yams for years would awaken screaming with nightmares two nights out of three." Don Tumbaga's fist clenched. "I thought that only war could do that to a man. Then I came to the city and I learned I was wrong. We have someone at FranÃ§oise's, a healer of sorts, whose *only job* is to comfort the girls, because of things that have happened to them that are with them still. The girls there didn't start out working there. FranÃ§oise bought their contracts from other brothels in the city. They aren't the prettiest, or the most talentedâ€”there are other whorehouses for that. These women are the most *hurt.*â€
The lines on Dayshield's face melted into relief. "I am glad I understand what you meant, now. I ask you these questions not because I am unaware of the horrors of war or what can go on in even Great Forks, but because of what you may be asked to do in the future. Don Tumbaga-in some ways, you are a weapon. I needed to know if you understood the virtue of a weapon tempered with mercy that soon enough it will not be merely an academic question."
"I know what the law is. But I don't think the law knows women who have seen abuse. I don't think the law knows Silver or Starling orâ€”" Don Tumbaga sank back, deflating as Dayshield's comforting voice took over, buoying up his mind which until now had been feeling as if drawn into quicksand. "Yes. I hope I am," he said, quietly.
"Would you see any benefit in meeting with me on a more regular basis? I would like to talk to you at greater length, and not in such unfortunate circumstances. Perhaps there are things I could tell you that you would find of some use."
Don Tumbaga nodded, slowly. "I'd like that. I don't get much time to talk to people outside of work."
Dayshield nodded. "Good. Let me know when would be most convenient for you, and we shall arrange something, whether it be here or some place you would find more comfortable."
"In the meantime, thank you for coming. I will see you again soon. I hope you find the rest of your day brighter."
"Yes â€¦ yes, I'd like that. I'm free on Sundays, usually; and I'm happy for the opportunity to travel out of my part of town," he said, the mask grimacing a bit. "I'll write down my schedule and leave it with your secretary." He stood, bowing low. "Thank you, milady."
"Call me Dayshield." Dayshield walked Don Tumbaga to the exit, shook his hand and then parted ways.
"Indeed. And I'll reveal it to whoever's offer best pleases me."
-Maren Sidaris, who reveals it to whoever's offer best pleases him.
Asmodai: GIEF MOAR DETAILS! Boobies and butt are great. Stories would make it way better