A powerful stranger visits Southern Fishing Village
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"Changing the form of my Master is well within the power of a Wish - and though changing the form of another has been granted, it seems somewhat rarer to my memory."

"I cannot truthfully promise - as I do not know - there are not smoke genies other than myself that I did not make - and similarly I can say with honest I do not know my own origins.  Who could and would make something like me?  I recall no great sorcerer, a powerful spirit, or shining pantheon credibly taking credit for my creation."

"The moon?"  Eeferi laughs.  "What would she do, spin smoke as the rising tide?  I suppose such a thing is possible but I find it quite unlikely.  Let me ask you this: do you know where your kind comes from?  Do you remember a wandering star, a coincidence of magics, or a burning pool?  I couldn't say with certainty which of those if any made flesh and bone, could you?"

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Daskal frowns in thought.

"Well, I think the oldest stories are about when we lived in the south, beyond the desert," he explains, in the tone of voice of a child repeating history learned at their elder's knee. "And there was a famine, so we learned to farm. And then there were too many people, so the Loka of the Lake led people here to make a new village, and then I was born."

He wrinkles his nose. "Some other stuff happened in between those bits. But I guess I don't know if we were anywhere else before we were beyond the desert."

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"Yes — lots of other stuff did happen," Anþasta observes with wry amusement. "It was something like two and a third thirty-sixes of thirty-sixes of years between the founding of the Archive and the Loka of the Lake."

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"Your people keep a great memory between millennia then.  That seems something to be proud of."

"This Loka of the Lake, were they a spirit, a human, or something else altogether?"

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"Ah ... a human, I'm pretty sure? Or at least I don't think the stories mention otherwise, and I would kind of expect them to," Anþasta replies.

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"Ah, so a title then, or a rare moniker-name."

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"What else would you care to ask?"

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"I have a question," Egresta interjects from where's she's walking just behind the children. "Earlier, when we were on the boat, Satenag asked whether you could make it so nobody ever went hungry, and you explained about Wishes not being absolute. If the wisher leaves something undetermined, how does it get decided? At random?"

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"I would say it was random, if I knew that to be true.  The same for being decided by the mind of the Master, or the genie, or any other.  This is one area I do not know, other than that it is decided."

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"... huh. Fair enough."

That was not among the possibilities that she had considered, so she takes a moment to silently think.

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Anþasta glances back and forth between Eeferi and her mother.

"... could someone making a wish say how it should be decided? Like 'I wish for so and so, with any details I leave unspecified decided by what the recipients of the wish would most prefer'?"

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"I've never been asked that before!  That's quite exciting."  Eeferi holds a ball of crystal up to their eyes, watching foreign lights and hearing sounds of Wishes gone by- most too fast for anyone else present to process.  As the ball disappears, they whirl on the spot, briefly a whirlpool or tornado before reforming.

Eeferi speaks with excitement, their form whips wildly with every motion. "I have no idea, none of my Masters have ever tried.  I suspect that it wouldn't work .. but I don't know!  At all!  Oh, but what if it did?  Wouldn't that be fascinating?  What happens if the very method specified to handle interpretation is itself underspecified?"

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"I think .. I think someone would have to try it, before I know.  And maybe not even then.  This might be beyond me.. but hopefully its not?"

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"Oh! So you ... don't know how things work because it's part of your power, you know because you've done this a lot before?" she clarifies. "Because that's really interesting."

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"It also raises the question of why we haven't heard of this," Egresta notes. "Do you have any way of telling how long you were down in the lake?"

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"There are many things I've known for so long, I don't know of a time I didn't know them.  Whether such core-deep knowledge is from experience, inherent intuition, or something Wished upon, I again do not know.  I don't recall a time a Master used some quirk of the rules I had no knowledge of to get one over on me, though perhaps that was simply luck.  I recall acting with belief that the restrictions upon me would apply to any genies I created before the first time I recall creating a genie."

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"To my knowledge, the number of worlds is very large, and each place within each world is often very small.  Is it any surprise you haven't heard of my history, when I most likely wasn't here?  I think to know for certain how long I was in the lake, might take a Wish, but to my mind it was either a month, a minute, an aeon, or a day.  When there is nothing to do, I often stop tracking the passage of time.  That one is a gift from an old Master, I suppose."

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Anþasta looks like she can't quite decide whether to be elated, thoughtful, or horrified.

"... and Satenag is your ... 'Master' now?"

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"Yes, but it's not her fault," Penþa says, having been caught up on everything. "And as long as she does actually free them, she is not breaking any laws, making a fixed number of wishes first."

Penþa pats Daskal's hair. "Don't worry — your mother knows what she's doing."

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"I do think I probably want some help figuring out how to word things, though," she replies. "Eeferi, do you have any general advice for wishing? Common mistakes that people have made?"

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"Be sure of what you want, to the greatest extent you can.  Be mindful of the consequences and plan for them accordingly.  Write down your ideas first, before you even try your hand at wording - and on that note be very, very careful with your wording.  Maybe include one or more escape clauses?"

"The most common mistakes I've seen my Masters make include, in no particular order, Wishing for something other than what they intend to get out of the Wish, expecting their Wishes to be without consequences, getting themselves in a situation where they decide their best option is to un-Wish their previous Wish or Wishes, trapping themselves or someone they care about in a situation with no escape, not planning for the risk of a hostile interpretation of their words, recklessly saying 'I Wish' in such a way as to waste one or more Wishes - though this language seems to make that markedly unlikely, making a Wish which kills them - thus preventing their access to future Wishes, rushing into Wishing due to my or their excitement over an interesting facet of magic..  Shall I keep thinking on this or is that enough for the moment?"

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"I think that's probably enough," Satenag agrees. "To start with, at least. But writing things down might be kinda tricky — Penþa, would you be willing to take notes?"

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Penþa unrolls part of their ball of string and winds it between their fingers.

"Sure — I needed to record this for the archives anyway. I can take some scratch notes and then un-knot it to re-use," they agree. "... also, do you want me to call a village meeting about this? It sounds like having more help thinking of things might be better."

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Satenag rubs her temple.

"You have a point. On the other hand, I can just imagine how long discussion would go on about literal wishes, considering how much people like to talk about crop rotation," she observes.

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"We can start thinking ourselves, call a meeting, and then if we have figured it out by dinner the meeting can be a celebration, and if we haven't figured it out, we can ask," Egresta points out.

Satenag nods.

"Alright, I'll go blow the horn. It's just inside your door, right Penþa?"

They nod too.

Egresta goes inside one of the houses, emerges with a horn, and blows a pattern of blasts that echo off the hill.

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