Digdoug - Episode 20

Digdoug - Episode 20

“It‘s this one,” said Dove, pointing over the little rise as she topped it.

They were all of fifty steps from her living-wagon, where they had stopped briefly to fetch Digdoug‘s trousers and for Dove to change as well. Many other such “vardo” wagons were parked near the main road in the Carnyvale. Some of them doubled as magic shops, or even folded out into booths (for gambling) or small stages (for putting on a show). But the ones that were just for living quarters were parked farther back in the grass.

The Dirtamancer shuffled his way behind her, sensing the ground with his feet. He could detect the lead piping that led down to the aquifer before he could see the above-ground components she was pointing to.

A few Carnies sat around on crates, talking quietly. One was passed out completely in the dewy grass. Dove stepped right over him. Digdoug walked around.

The water pump was made of black cast iron, spotted with rust. It was set into a small platform of sandstone and mortar, with no drain other than the sleeving around the main pipe. Digdoug stepped over to it without a word and touched it, sensing the mechanism all the way to its intake cylinder, far underground. The wellspring below was full and fresh, and the pipes seemed okay from here. It was probably the pump mechanism.

“Can you get it working?” Dove asked.

He could. It would be trivial. “I think so,” he said. “Give me some time with it.”

“How much time?”

Really, he only wanted to be left alone for a little while. He glanced up at the morning sun in the milk-white sky. “Hour or two?”

She studied his face. “Want me to stick around?”

Digdoug shook his head. “No. Not necessary.”

“Okay, I‘ll be in my vardo. Holler if you need me.” She paused for a moment as if expecting him to say something, but he turned his back to her and pretended to closely examine the pump. A few seconds later, her steps receded away over the grass.

He sighed in relief.

Dove had been perfectly kind to him this morning–and last night too, if he cared to admit it. If she was telling the truth, then he actually owed her his life. She‘d given him one “Rand” (a new stat point that he‘d never even heard of before) so he wouldn‘t disband. Only a minute or two after that, the sun had risen, the Rand was gone, and his physical wounds had healed.

He didn‘t know if he should consider that a favor or not. He really didn‘t know what value he put on his own life.

It certainly wasn‘t much. Without Homekey, what did he have? All of the people he‘d been living for were gone now. And wherever they‘d gone to, he ought to be with them. He should be standing before the Titans right now, with King Posbrake and the rest of His Majesty‘s subjects.

He didn‘t want to be alive. Why should he? The only thing he found himself actually wanting was to know what had happened, how Homekey had lost. And if he were up in the clouds, facing Titanic judgment, then presumably They would at least answer that for him.

Down here on the ground, the answers would be a lot harder to come by.

He touched the broken water pump idly. Here was a thing that had lost its only purpose, too. Would he be doing it a “favor” by putting it to work again, or was it at peace now? Maybe it liked being broken. Maybe it didn‘t want people jerking its handle all of the time.

He felt his way into the metal, unable to help himself. There was a Dirtamancy problem in front of his face; he had to investigate it.

Most Dirtamancy improvements lasted a pretty long time–from dozens to thousands of turns–just not forever. City managers and units with the fabrication special could keep basic emplacements and traps operating indefinitely, but when fixtures like this water pump broke down, you needed some form of Stuffamancy to repair or replace them.

The iron housing was sound, with no major breaks or cracks. He spent a little juice cleaning up the rust inside and out, and lifted up the handle. He loosened the primer plug with his other hand, and created a few slugs of water inside the suction line, costing a tad more juice. Then he let go of the handle and waited.

If he guessed right, then it would be the leather seal on the stroke rod that needed replacing. The water should drain away through the leaky seal right away.

It did not.

Hm. He sat down on the grass to give it a few minutes, just to prove the integrity of the seal before he tried pulling on the handle. The scruffy, passed-out man snored obnoxiously beside him, a glistening of drool running out of the corner of his mouth. A seal might do some good there, too.

Dove had said he could work off his Rand by doing some repair work for her. She‘d used this pump regularly before it broke. So did several of her neighbors, including “Doctor” Herbert Sassafras, the Healomancer who had brought him back from terminal incapacitation (if only by the barest minimum). Dove had said that the Doc would call it even if Digdoug fixed the pump, so that was where he‘d started. But there were other chores on Dove‘s list.

“Covering your upkeep is the most important thing here,” she had told him on the walk back from Portal Park. “You just don‘t know. People disband. I‘ve had ta let people I know disband. There‘s not a lot of charity goin‘ around, you know? You gotta find work. It‘s all about survival.”

She couldn‘t have picked a topic that interested him any less than his own survival. He hadn‘t asked her for the Rand. He would pay it back, but she should have just let him go to the Titans while he was lying there on the ground, crying.

Something else she‘d said made him curious enough to break out of his moody silence, though. “You let your friends disband?”

Dove had stared up the road at that point, with a bleak and distant look. “Yeah. You gotta, sometimes. There‘s only so much you can loan a guy before you realize you‘re never gettin‘ paid back. They‘re just gonna disband eventually, owing you everything. At that point, it‘s just a question of how much you‘re gonna lose when they do go.”

Digdoug had trouble fathoming it. “You had the money. But you wouldn‘t give it to them?”

Dove gave him a hard, narrow-eyed glare. “That‘s right.”

“You mean you looked them in the eye, and told them you wouldn‘t give them money to save their life?”

“I did save his life, Digdoug. Two, three, five times, whatever. So did other people. But how many times is too many? I finally had to tell him, no. Not this time. Go take the Long Walk. Wa‘n‘t like he hadn‘t done that before.” She looked up the road again. “But that time, he didn‘t come back. I‘ve been through that with a couple of people since. That‘s why I said, ‘I never do that.‘ Usually, I don‘t anymore. It‘s a...waste.”

They had gone on in silence for a little while, until curiosity again got the better of Digdoug‘s mind. “What‘s the Long Walk?”

She‘d pointed vaguely in the direction of the morning sun. “East side of the island. There‘s a place called Short Pier there. If you can‘t pay your upkeep, then you go stand there to watch the sunrise and disband. If somebody‘s feeling generous, maybe they go by and save you. It‘s our last resort. There‘s somebody there almost every day, sometimes more than one.”

Digdoug decided that if he did take the Long Walk, he would go to the other side of the island, where nobody would find him.

He spent a few more minutes sitting there on the grass, listening to the sleeping man‘s muculent snoring as well as to the distant music of some Rhyme-o-mancy instrument with a lot of whistling pipes in it. The Carnyvale was designed to attract casters from all over the Magic Kingdom in an open attempt to part them from their Shmuckers and Rands. It cultivated an atmosphere of wild revelry, in a place where he gathered the entertainment options were pretty slim. Casters with money trickled in to spend it or gamble it, day or night.

...Instead of going out to Short Pier and saving someone‘s life, he suddenly realized. Digdoug shook his head. How completely pointless. What was wrong with people? With the world?

He stood up and tried again to focus on a problem that was less pointless. That water in the priming chamber was staying put, so he pulled down hard on the handle to see what came of it.

He felt water rising up through the pipe, so he kept pumping the handle. The sound echoing through the nozzle rose in pitch as the water took up more and more space. But before more than a trickle had splurted out onto the stones, that sound got lower again. The water retreated back down the pipe. He pumped harder, but he couldn‘t stay ahead of the leak.

Ah. Foot valve.

He let go of the handle and placed both hands on the pump housing. Reaching down with his mind, he felt his way through the cool lead and even cooler water, seeking the brass intake cylinder. Lead, lead, lead-lead-lead, lead...brass.

Yes. He could feel the busted spring on the foot valve. It wasn‘t closing, so the water was leaking right back out as it was pumped. But his sense of the mechanism from here was muddled and imprecise, and his control was even worse. Work at this scale was really Changemancy, although a Changemancer would have had to extract the whole pump from the well to work on it.

He made two attempts to replace the spring from here, but it was beyond his skill. Counting the two he'd created, there were now three bad springs jammed into the foot valve. He sighed, then cast a fairly hefty fabrication spell, a blunt force solution. The spell would simply replace the entire intake assembly with an almost identical one.

“Sargent/York!” he intoned.

After a moment‘s pause, he primed the pump again and began to work the handle. Cold, clear water splashed all over the stones, washing over his bare feet. And even after twenty pumps, it was still flowing. Problem solved. It felt shockingly good.

“I have Dirtamancy,” he said aloud, in answer to his own question.

Without Homekey, he still had his craft. Dirtamancy wasn‘t a home. It wasn‘t a side to fight for, or a King he respected, or friends he loved. But it wasn‘t nothing.

“Dirtamancy?” said a voice behind him.

Digdoug turned to see that the passed-out man had risen unsteadily to his feet. He clutched a brown glass flask, which he held up to his lips for a generous swig. Then he popped a cork in the neck and placed it inside the pocket of his patched up coat. The man squinted at him, as if his vision wasn‘t particularly clear.

“Yes,” said Digdoug. “I, uh...fixed the pump, if you want a drink.”

“Hmf, right,” said the man, nodding to himself with a bitter little smile. “Hands off,” he muttered. “Dove‘s mark.”

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
╒╦╧╬╩╦╦╛ wrote:
Wasn't the jester the avatar of free will? I could see a fate caster saying it's the only enemy worth fighting as the story oppose free will and fate on a regular basis.

Also as soon as the jester is destroyed, Jillian "lack the will to do anything else"

Here is everything we know for sure:

* Jack thinks it's what urges her to action. Notice how IPTSF Jillian has a strong will. Present Jillian is this annoying, broken, wishy washy thing.
* It is Signamancy for how she sees her father. Wanda says that Heroine buds make you see other people in a symbolic version of how you perceive them. And that is how she sees King Banhammer while under their influence.
* It is Jillian's Signamancy for the very idea of a warlord. A fighter.
* Charlie says it's a tool of the only enemy worth fighting.

How is it a tool of Charlie's enemy? We can only speculate, but my theory is that the Jester was Jillian's fighting spirit and her connection to the will of the world itself.
ManaCaster wrote:
╒╦╧╬╩╦╦╛ wrote:
Wasn't the jester the avatar of free will? I could see a fate caster saying it's the only enemy worth fighting as the story oppose free will and fate on a regular basis.

Also as soon as the jester is destroyed, Jillian "lack the will to do anything else"

Here is everything we know for sure:

* Jack thinks it's what urges her to action. Notice how IPTSF Jillian has a strong will. Present Jillian is this annoying, broken, wishy washy thing.
* It is Signamancy for how she sees her father. Wanda says that Heroine buds make you see other people in a symbolic version of how you perceive them. And that is how she sees King Banhammer while under their influence.
* It is Jillian's Signamancy for the very idea of a warlord. A fighter.
* Charlie says it's a tool of the only enemy worth fighting.

How is it a tool of Charlie's enemy? We can only speculate, but my theory is that the Jester was Jillian's fighting spirit and her connection to the will of the world itself.


It is stange that she use the same signamancy for her father and for the concept of a warrior. Also, thanks for the summary.
(Getting all the random ideas out of my head lol)


I was thinking that the jobs Dove is having Doug do may not be paying jobs, or may be paid for by her.

For the broken well, it's the closest one to Dove's vardo, but she and the others affected by the water outage aren't dying of thirst. They just walk to the next-closest well when they want a drink. So it's not essential, and there's no great reward for fixing it. She might be the only one willing to pay. Presumably not even then since it was broken until now. It might not even be worth a full rand to fix, Doug didn't have the skill to do just the spring alone or the job would have cost almost no juice whatsoever. So we may see Doug doing a lot of odd jobs for little to no reward. The real indicator will be his juice, I think.

For the economy, The Magic Kingdom is more like a bunch of independently owned campgrounds than a kingdom with a centralized authority. If your well breaks, you have to pay to get it fixed. No one compensates you. Unless you happen to have a friend who owes you a favor and can get it fixed for free, you're paying out of your own pocket.

So if this were a job Dove was posting on the board she might offer 1 rand, or get the neighbors to all chip in for a larger reward. But the job may go unfinished. It's a well which is not particularly needed, carnymancers seem like they're broke all the time, and dirtamancers are rare in the MK and have a lot of demands on their time. It's also in the middle of Carnymancer territory. Who feels comfortable there except other carnymaners? "Should I go repair a well in McScamsville and maybe lose my shirt, or go repair the hippymancer's hemp fields for the tons of money they're offering?" :D

Now Dove has a dirtamancer who owes her a favor. She can get a lot of repair work done this way. But at the end of the day she's still down x Rands for the heal + upkeep, and Doug needs another rand so he doesn't go pop tomorrow morning, and Dove herself needs another rand for her own upkeep for the coming day. So we may see Doug do a lot of little jobs for Dove and still owe her.

(edit: Dove may need to pay some form of rent also for her space in the carny campground. And I didn't see any mention of food popping for Doug at start of turn, they may need rands for food also)
Lilwik wrote:
ManaCaster wrote:
He's fighting whatever weird thingy Sylvia got entangled with that is merely very similar to Fate. That better? We've got plenty of evidence for that much at least.
Can anyone remember where we've seen some of that evidence? I'm very curious to know more details about this. I thought the thing that Sylvia got entangled with was Carnymancy.

ManaCaster wrote:
Dove was definitely hiding stuff, but I am reasonably confident she was being truthful about Carnymancy altering the rules. It fits with what we've seen.
What do you mean, specifically? As far as I remember, these are all we've seen of Carnymancy:
  • Sylvia being saved from croaking while incapacitated in Unaroyal (B2P86)

  • The arrow deflected from Sylvia (B2T51)

  • The arrows shattering against Posbrake (Episode 18)

  • The scroll that Parson tried to use (B2T59)

  • Charlie saving himself from poisoning (B0E68)

All of that could be a matter of breaking rules, but you can do anything by breaking rules. Break enough rules and raisins will turn into dancing unicorns. I just don't see anything in any of that which suggests breaking rules. I see quite a bit of healing and protective magic, and we can even include Parson's scroll if we called Carnymancy the magic of restoring people to their natural states. I'm not saying that is what Carnymancy is (I suspect it's just a coincidence) but it fits what we've seen far closer than breaking rules, and I don't trust Dove to be honest about what Carnymancy can do.

Actually, I've noticed one curious thing about those examples. Twice a "trade" was mentioned. And I think we can be reasonably sure that was no trade with some ordinary caster. So, who were they trading with? Fate? Titans? Even leaving the "break the rules" part aside, that is certainly another ability of Carnymancy — making a trade with higher powers.
I hope we will learn someday what prices were paid, but even if we don't — I think it won't be much of an assumption that Carnymancers are, in fact, closer connected to the Fate than any other casters, bar Predictomancers, perhaps. And in that light all their talk about "avoiding the Fate" and "free will" is, in fact, yet another of their shows.
And then, Parson, who is really fighting the Fate, and, probably, will break it, is said to be Fated to kill Charlie? Well, Charlie probably knows that Parson is not amused with the Fate concept. And he is a Carnymancer. If he really was all about fighting Fate, and he really could cheat it, why would he then provoke Parson like that, instead of seeking a more friendly approach? I think that the trade that he made for his life was that exactly — to become a tool of Fate, to fight the greatest threat to Fate when it arrives to the Erfworld.
wreeee wrote:

And then, Parson, who is really fighting the Fate, and, probably, will break it, is said to be Fated to kill Charlie? Well, Charlie probably knows that Parson is not amused with the Fate concept. And he is a Carnymancer. If he really was all about fighting Fate, and he really could cheat it, why would he then provoke Parson like that, instead of seeking a more friendly approach?

Even if Parson and Charlie became the bestest of friends, the fact would remain that Parson is like a catalyst. Just by being in Erfworld, he gives Fate new options.

Yes, Charlie could have tried begging Parson to help him find a way to break Fate, but he probably doesn't like the idea of entrusting his Fate to the guy Fated to croak him.

wreeee wrote:
I think that the trade that he made for his life was that exactly — to become a tool of Fate, to fight the greatest threat to Fate when it arrives to the Erfworld.

Then why would Fate summon Parson in the first place? Remember that this was set into motion by the Predictamancers, the closest servants of Fate.
As far as what the trades are, my theory is that it basically revolves around karmic balance. A Fate "debt" was mentioned in the case of Wanda, who had to pay it off by working for Haffaton.

When Charlie used Fate magic to survive poisoning, this probably created a path of least resistance towards getting him to croak of poison. Just about any action will probably impact the karmic balance, but Carnymancy is probably particularly disruptive.

As a less abstract example, let's take a Ponzi scheme. The con man suckers people into giving him money. He gives money from new suckers to the old suckers. The net amount of money remains the same, and thus the path of least resistance is for the scheme to collapse. The only alternatives are, figure out legitimate means of easing out the debt, or find an unlimited supply of suckers, neither of which is any mean feat.
wreeee wrote:
Actually, I've noticed one curious thing about those examples. Twice a "trade" was mentioned. And I think we can be reasonably sure that was no trade with some ordinary caster.
I certainly hope it wasn't a trade with another caster because that would really confuse the task of figuring out what was going on with Sylvia. I'm going to assume that her whole strange thing was all Carnymancy just because figuring out anything seems hopeless if we don't even know what disciplines were involved.

wreeee wrote:
So, who were they trading with? Fate? Titans? Even leaving the "break the rules" part aside, that is certainly another ability of Carnymancy — making a trade with higher powers.
A trade can sometimes be just replacing one thing with another, or swapping two things. There doesn't need to be a higher power. For example, the way Luckamancers give good luck to some units by creating bad luck for other units could be considered a trade. I don't think we have any clues about what sort of trades Carnymancers make.

wreeee wrote:
I hope we will learn someday what prices were paid, but even if we don't — I think it won't be much of an assumption that Carnymancers are, in fact, closer connected to the Fate than any other casters, bar Predictomancers, perhaps.
We've got a whole axis of Fate magic, and I think they are on that axis for a reason. Some of them may not seem to have much connection to Fate, but I suspect that is just because we don't properly understand how the Erfworld magic system works. I'm sure all will be revealed eventually.

wreeee wrote:
And then, Parson, who is really fighting the Fate, and, probably, will break it, is said to be Fated to kill Charlie?
Where do we get the idea that Parson is fighting Fate? I don't think he's very fond of the idea that he's not in control of his own future, but other than that he seems to be doing exactly what is expected of him. Marie seems to be on his side and she knows what Fate has in store for Parson, so Parson can't be working contrary to Fate. If he were, Marie wouldn't be helping him.
ManaCaster wrote:


wreeee wrote:
I think that the trade that he made for his life was that exactly — to become a tool of Fate, to fight the greatest threat to Fate when it arrives to the Erfworld.

Then why would Fate summon Parson in the first place? Remember that this was set into motion by the Predictamancers, the closest servants of Fate.

The same reason Parson wanted the players in his game group to cheat. To win the game.
Lilwik wrote:


wreeee wrote:
So, who were they trading with? Fate? Titans? Even leaving the "break the rules" part aside, that is certainly another ability of Carnymancy — making a trade with higher powers.
A trade can sometimes be just replacing one thing with another, or swapping two things. There doesn't need to be a higher power. For example, the way Luckamancers give good luck to some units by creating bad luck for other units could be considered a trade. I don't think we have any clues about what sort of trades Carnymancers make.




Maybe Carnies are playing shell game with fate. For example Jojo may just have displaced Sylvia's DIAF under a different shell, so it was still in the game waiting to be revealed later under an other circumstance (shell).
╒╦╧╬╩╦╦╛ wrote:
Lilwik wrote:


wreeee wrote:
So, who were they trading with? Fate? Titans? Even leaving the "break the rules" part aside, that is certainly another ability of Carnymancy — making a trade with higher powers.
A trade can sometimes be just replacing one thing with another, or swapping two things. There doesn't need to be a higher power. For example, the way Luckamancers give good luck to some units by creating bad luck for other units could be considered a trade. I don't think we have any clues about what sort of trades Carnymancers make.




Maybe Carnies are playing shell game with fate. For example Jojo may just have displaced Sylvia's DIAF under a different shell, so it was still in the game waiting to be revealed later under an other circumstance (shell).

Cool idea.