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Question: Rules Made to be Broken


August 9, 2016 by Lyn

Shutsumon asks: Aside from the obvious things like kept not being bound by oaths made while kept how do oaths and ownership interact?

Agatha settles herself into a chair, taking her time about it.
Bowen sits at her feet, not looking at her, or at the audience.
Agatha giggles girlishly; Bowen winces.

I love that game! It’s sort of like putting the food dish where your cat can only reach it if they work really, really hard; you do very little work and get to watch a lot of contorting and whining in return.

But I suppose the nature of this deal is that I actually answer your questions, isn’t it? That’s not as much fun, but it’s important to keep agreements, no matter why you made them.

Kept can’t be bound by Oaths, of course. It would be really entertaining if they could, but I suppose the gods probably knew what they were doing when they set things up that way. Otherwise, I could order my Kept to swear to always come when I call, and then, when I freed him, he’d still be stuck.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

An Oath made to a Kept is still binding, though, more’s the pity (so is one made to a Student or a Child, from what I hear). You’re not making it to them, really; you’re making it to the world. I’m not certain, but I think it works from the same place as the Workings – your Word and your Will, to quote an author Tolly likes, shape the World.

And once you’ve made that Oath, you’re stuck with it. If you make it to a person, they can, if they choose, release you from it if you ask. Most wouldn’t, of course, not without getting some sort of concession out of you in return.

And if you do like dear Emrys did, and get yourself Owned – that’s not going to get you out of it. It might make it harder to fulfill the Oath, but it’s the one way in which the World still acknowledges you as an Adult. You’re still bound to your word. You still have to man up and do what you promised.

A Keeper can order their Kept not to follow an Oath, of course; a Keeper can order their Kept to do anything they want. But…

She looks down at Bowen, smiling unkindly; Bowen shudders, and whispers:


Her smile only grows.

Ow, indeed. I’ve been told it’s quite painful. It’s in that category of “demanding a brain comprehend two conflicting things at the same time.” You asked Shiva something about that, didn’t you? Yeah. They try to obey both at once. It feels like… Bowen?

Bowen closes his eyes
It feels like your brain is being yanked out of both ears at once. The pain is… god. I’d never felt anything like it. Torture. And then everything shuts down. Your head still hurts, but you can’t move, you can’t hear or see or feel anything but the pain. It’s like being awake and paralyzed while someone saws through your skull.

Agatha pats his head
Good boy. So, yes. Kept can not be held to new Oaths, but old ones still hold true. Otherwise, people would just get themselves Owned for a day or two to get out of inconvenient Oaths.

Are we done now? Good.


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