“Alright,” William said, “The first person to answer my questions honestly gets a sausage.” He looked around the cell, which contained a dozen chained up dwarves. It wasn’t a particularly nice place… but as far a prisons went it was rather clean and pleasant. William held up an example reward from the basket he had brought with him.
“W-we won’t eat your poisoned food, demon!” One of the dwarves said.
“Y-yeah!” another dwarf said emphatically, though he had trouble talking with so much salivation. “It’s probably not any good anyway!”
William took a bite of the sausage in his hand, approaching close to the prisoners so they could smell the freshly cooked food. “Now why would I bother poisoning prisoners? Do the dwarves waste good meat on that when they could just execute people?”
“Of course not! But there’s no telling what a foul demon would do!”
“Yeah, and we’ll not betray our people! We won’t answer any of your questions!”
All of the dwarves responded in assent to that proclamation.
“Oh, not even a single questions?” William put on a pouting face, “I was going to start with something easy like… what’s your name?”
There were a few moments of silence before the salivating dwarf from earlier said, “… Kurnet.”
William clapped, “See, wasn’t that easy? Thank you for answering, Kurnet.” William moved forward and held out a sausage.
“I… I can’t eat it like this.” Kurnet jiggled the chains holding him up.”
“Oh, you’re right, how silly of me.” William pulled out a key in his other hand and unlocked one of Kurnet’s arm. Immediately that arm formed into a fist and flew toward him. There was a loud smacking sound as William caught Kurnet’s fist… then forced his hand open and placed the sausage in his grip. William backed up, smiling. “I appreciate the enthusiasm, but don’t worry about getting your reward.”
Kurnet glared… then grumpily took a bite out of the sausage… and then another. Within a few moments, the entire thing was gone. Kurnet continued to glare, but the effect was lessened by him licking his lips and then his fingers.
“…I’m Deldror,” another dwarf answered.
“Oh, I appreciate you speaking up, Deldror. Unfortunately, the sausage is only for the first, remember? I only have so many.” William smiled apologetically. “However, I have another easy one. Why do you,” William waved his hand to the room in general, “Hate my people so much?”
Deldror reacted almost immediately, “Because you’re goddamn demons who slaughtered our people and drove us from our homeland!”
William held out his hands, “I concede that point, but why do you, Deldror, hate us?” William pointed directly at him. “Did you see it happen yourself? Perhaps your grandfather told tales of personal experience? I’m sure you have a list of those alive today who were involved, correct?” William held out his hands, “Oh wait, that’s nobody. Not a single one of you dwarves, and not a single one of us- gevai, by the way. Not demons.” William could say with confidence that none of the dwarves had been alive then. He didn’t know everything about them, but he understood from the memories he had that dwarves lived longer than humans, perhaps a gross or two of years, but no longer than that- certainly not the great gross or more required to have anyone alive in that time.
“Well, I… y-you’re demons, so…” Deldror stammered.
William shrugged, “An unfortunate answer, but it seems truthful enough.” William walked over to Kurnet and re-chained his free arm. “Can’t be careless, now can I?” William knew the dwarves wouldn’t be able to get free even with a free arm, but it was the principle of the thing. He walked over to Deldror’s position and again unchained an arm.
Deldror took the sausage halfheartedly, but once he bit into it he finished it quickly. He looked somewhat absorbed in thought, which made William rather satisfied.
“Now, some of the questions I would like answered you can’t answer in good faith. For example, if I were to ask how many steamboats you have it would put you in an awkward situation. All you could say is, ‘a dozen, maybe a few more’ and that would be that.” William grinned slightly as he looked around the room. That was a piece of information that all of them knew, and the captain was the same with his limitations. “So I won’t ask that. Instead, I’ll ask about one big social change or important event in dwarven society. It can be anything, as long as it was significant.” William looked around the room. “Maybe the first time something happened, especially something no one thought could happen?”
The room was quiet for a few moments, before another dwarf spoke up, “Nobody expected the reign of Queen Thekkoni.”
“Oh?” William turned with an interested look, “What about it?”
“She was the first queen who ruled the dwarves.”
William nodded, “I suppose that counts. That sounds like it might have been a big change.” William passed out another sausage.
Over the course of the next hour William kept asking questions about the dwarves, just talking with them. He made sure that every dwarf answered at least one question, bribed with sausages. William learned very little he hadn’t already known, or at least had a feeling about. Some of the information he’d had a vague idea about, but he hadn’t absorbed any details from the memories. Even so, William thought himself successful.
Then he surprised the dwarves, “Well then, I’m done with questions…” William walked out of the cell then came back in with a keg and a pile of mugs. “I’m sure you gentlemen are tired of talking and quite parched, so I have something you might like… but first I need a question from you. Same sort of rules. No state secrets, but you can ask about me or gevai history and I’ll try to give you a good answer.”
Kurnet frowned for a few moments before asking, “Who are you?”
William grinned, “Oh, that’s a good one. To answer that completely, I’m the new Eternal King. I became king after the Demon King died- and yes, he was the same one who did all of that to your people.”
“Aren’t you worried about the Demon King coming back?” asked another dwarf.
William smiled lightly, “Oh, an excellent followup. Let me tell you all about that…”