Apr 25, 2019 8:22 PM
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What the kobold doesn't think of might be as interesting as what she does. People employing one another, for example, doesn't occur to her at all. Land ownership. Farming, even though she does think of people gathering things specifically to sell. Poverty.

Kiri can get a decent picture of the kobold's native lifestyle this way, too - she comes from a culture of stone age hunter-gatherers, surrounded by people who have enough technology to work metal but who still live quite close to the land. Individual kobolds often have specialties - this one was roughly the equivalent of a physician's assistant or nurse, with a focus on gathering medicinal plants, before she became a mage - but they all know the basics of how to support the tribe, gathering food and cooking and making basic supplies like leather and rope and tools, and they're all expected to contribute to the tribe in that way, with the results of those contributions being held in common by the tribe as a whole.
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...The kobold might find Chialto interesting. They didn't really pass through the town nearest Kiri's country house on their way, the kobold never quite got the point of books as far as Kiri noticed and didn't have much of an opinion about the food or the contents of her room, but Chialto is huge and bustling and full of stuff.

"Kiri trade -" This is getting irritating. "Kiri speak 'I': Kiri. Kobold speak 'I': kobold." Yes? Personal pronouns?
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...right. The kobold is intentionally not in the habit of using personal pronouns - apparently they're dangerous for her to use in the context she most often speaks in - but she knows them; here they are. Also 'you', and two variants of 'them', one for 'person of unspecified or irrelevant reproductive status' that can be used to refer to anyone and one for 'person who cannot reproduce' that mostly is used for children and elders; she declines to share the variants that specify reproductive status other than that.

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Kiri translates 'you', translates the first 'them' as 'them', and, having no Welchin equivalent for compressing inability to reproduce into a pronoun, asserts that there is no Welchin word for it. ...And now she's curious. "Danger words?"

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Very few kobolds speak; most of the people she talks to are tigerfolk, who are less dangerous than elves, but are still big and strong and relatively aggressive and don't as a general rule believe that kobolds are people. Which is why she goes and talks to them; to try to convince them that they're wrong about that. It's risky work, so she's gotten into the habit of being very, very careful about anything that might possibly offend them, and the implicit claim of personhood involved in using first-person pronouns is one such thing.

She has made a decent amount of progress in improving relations between the species, though, certainly enough for her to consider it worthwhile; even a fair portion of the tigerfolk tribes that she hasn't directly interacted with have switched over to using snare traps that a caught kobold can free themselves from, for example, and while she's not sure this change would hold in the case of another actual famine, an increasing number of tigerfolk appear to have stopped thinking of kobolds as even an emergency backup food source.
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"...Good," says Kiri tentatively. "Well. More good."

It's obvious to Kiri the kobold is a person: there is her mind, right there, whirring away, quite brightly. Whether it would have been obvious without that if the kobold didn't talk is not clear, admittedly, although she hopes if she saw some critters manufacturing rope and having roles specialized to the level of "physician's assistant" she would at least be thoroughly nervous about the possibility that anybody might eat one.
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Nod.

The kobold does think it's important and useful, even though it's not properly work (since it doesn't directly contribute to the tribe) and her tribemates consider her willingness to interact with or even be seen by outsiders unsettling.
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Outsiders are dangerous. She personally knows enough about tigerfolk to be around them safely, but most kobolds don't, and she was badly hurt - in a mental/emotional sense that she considers just as much a form of harm as physical injury would be; Kiri gets a brief view of what it's like to believe oneself not to be a person, before the kobold manages to tuck that memory away again - in the process of learning.

Given that understanding, and enough self-awareness and self-care skills to safely put it to use, yes, she can do this thing, but she's very much an exception; for most kobolds, the taboo on being seen makes perfect sense, and seeing her flout that and survive is baffling.
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Okay then.

"Tribemates think me danger?"
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Absolutely. Most of them wouldn't even be open to the idea of letting them prove otherwise. Not that the kobold plans to try - her tribe puts up with her weirdness now, but only because she's proven that she's not going to put anyone but herself in danger, and that's a fairly fragile understanding; trying to get any of her tribemates involved could easily get her exiled, if her tribe decided they couldn't trust her any more.

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Well, there goes any hope of establishing some kind of society-level relationship with kobolds.

"Why kobolds no speak?"
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The kobold scoots out of mind-reading range.

"Kobold want learn speak, kobold go tigerfolk, hide, listen, maybe learn. Go danger, small maybe learn - three, four kobold go, one kobold learn. Most kobold no go, danger scare."
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"Why no kobold language?"

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The kobold's immediate reaction to this is a mixture of offendedness and fear.

"Kobold person," she asserts, braced for action in case this gets a poor response.
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That's a good enough answer that the kobold doesn't immediately teleport away. She watches Kiri, warily but thoughtfully, for a few long moments instead.

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"I know," Kiri repeats. "I know thoughts, you think, you're a person."

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Sigh.

Back into range.

That's... not usually the standard she's held to. Usually it's speaking, and usually even with her being able to it's an uphill slog to convince whatever tigerfolk she's dealing with that it's not a trick; 'if kobolds are so smart, why didn't any of the other ones talk' has been the end of that discussion more than once, and she really, really doesn't want to think about how that came to be a thing. (None of those other kobolds are alive now. She's sure of that. She's not going to think about why.)

So - kobolds don't talk; they just don't; that's okay, and if Kiri has a problem with it, this one can go home now.
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Kiri shrugs. She doesn't have a problem with it; this one talks, and even if she stopped talking she thinks, which serves the immediate purposes of communication; and there are no other kobolds around to be inconveniently nonlinguistic, and even if there were they would still be people under the unlanguage barrier - but Kiri can't say most of that. So: shrug.

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This is not the most satisfying answer. But... sigh. Get your trauma stuff under control first, kobold, you know better than to try to do the emotional equivalent of trying to run with a badly-healed broken leg. Here is here, now is now; your tribe is safe, and you know where they are, and you can go home whenever you want, there's no reason to panic about that. Kiri is not a tigerperson, and while that fire magic is legitimately pretty terrifying... well, yes, they have been a little faster to suggest using it than you'd like, but it was pretty trivial to talk them out of it, and - if they were going to attack you with it just because they can, there's been plenty of opportunities; you're probably safe.

Okay?

No, not really, but good enough. She's handled trickier situations in worse mental shape and come out okay.

Damn but she could use a hug right now, though.

Anyway.

Given that; given her options; where does she want to be right now?

Home is surprisingly not tempting. She wants a hug, but not nearly as much as she doesn't want to admit defeat, to deal with the smug looks from one faction and concern from the other that always happens when she comes back rattled from one of her trips, to deal with it being that much harder to go out again next time. Going someplace else - one of the private little crannies she's found in her travels - and hanging out for a few days while she gets her head together feels much more appealing. She could even come back here afterward, though that would probably cramp her schedule to the point where she might not be able to come back again like she agreed to. Or... she could stay. It's tempting. That impulse to fling herself directly at whatever she's afraid of will probably kill her eventually, she knows, but it's still there, and so far it hasn't actually steered her wrong, and anyway it's probably not actually going to kill her today.

So... she'll stay. And maybe portal back to one of the prettier winter caves for a while before bed tonight.
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"Person think danger: 'afraid'."
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Sure. More words is fine. Here's the animalperson word for that. And 'hungry', and 'angry', and 'safe', and 'happy'.

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Somehow Kiri gets the impression that asserting that the kobold is safe will not have the desired effect. She translates these conditions into Welchin.

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Yeah, if the kobold trusted her enough for that to be useful right now there wouldn't be a problem in the first place.

The kobold is somewhat distracted thinking about various places - she offers some nouns from that. Tree. Rock. Dirt. Grass. Lake. Waterfall. Path. Bush. Leaf. Berry. Fruit. Nut. Cliff. Sky. Sun. Cloud. Rain. Snow. Wind. Hill. Cave.
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