Nov 16, 2018 6:12 PM
Rockeye's new character meets Gem
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"That's a bit of an unpleasant story. You want to hear it anyway?"

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"Uh, I guess you can save it if you don't want to share and it's not strategically relevant somehow."

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"No, I'll tell you. There are four ways to become a Spirit Bearer. Get the power from a genie, from a nature spirit - I haven't explained those yet - from a monster that thinks you'll do harm with it... Or from the ghost of another Spirit Bearer. A ghost giving you the last of their essence kills the ghost, empowers you, and shapes your initial powerset like theirs. I met a ghost. Freddy. We actually became almost friends, but he was so, so sad. He wanted to give me magic. 'Someone who would actually make a difference to the world,' he said. I tried to get the government to help, tried to get a genie's attention so it could save him."

Sigh.

"I ran out of time. So. I let him empower me. I let my friend kill himself to get magic, even if he was going to fade away anyway... I probably nearly turned myself into a ghost thinking about it like that, but I've come to accept it."

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"Ran out of time to -?"

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"Ghosts fade away eventually. They don't get better. Or even stay the same. He started not recognizing me most days and that was when I decided."

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Bella nods.

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"...If you get magic from a nature spirit or a genie you usually make a deal to work for them, or some sponsor makes a deal for you. It's not magically binding, but there's a background expectation that you will be murdered by the genie or nature spirit if you renege. Monsters don't ask permission or make deals for power. You just suddenly find yourself transforming. Monster-created bearers are... Prejudiced against. Not entirely without reason, they tend to be violent criminals."

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"That does sound like the sort of thing that would be worrying, yes."

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"Yes. There's a social justice movement about it, but they are, on average, dangerous. And you got magic... Two weeks from now?"

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"Ish. Fortysomething loops ago though. Not all the full month, I can reset early, but it's been a while."

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"Only forty? Huh."

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"Maybe it's fiftysomething now? It's not usually useful to memorize which one I'm on."

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"Not keeping track, fair enough. But I was imagining thousands and thousands at least. Infinity is such a big possibility space."

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"I think I would probably have some noticeable personality effects after that long!"

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"Probably. I wasn't assuming anything either way on that. All the better that I found you so 'soon', so to speak."

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"I appreciate it."

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"Could you tell me a little more about how witches work?"

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"They're like hostile pocket dimensions. With themes. There's little creatures in them, familiars, which sometimes leave and kill enough people to grow into full witches. If you go far enough in, there's a thing that's the core of the witch and you fight that - conventional damage applied with magic boosts is typical and most efficient, shoot it or stab it or whatever, although we can also zap things with magic damage. Then the pocket dimension disappears and you're back in the regular world. While a witch is active, there's an effect on people near it that messes with their heads in a way that causes deaths; suicide's common, murder's not uncommon, sometimes you get medical errors or plausibly nonsuicidal accident spikes or something like that. If you kill a full witch you get a grief seed; if you kill a familiar, even one that's out on its own, you don't - some magical girls basically farm witches, letting them kill till they're big enough to drop seeds. I think the witch themes aren't random - have something to do with the girl or her wish or how she witched."

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"Is magic damage its own thing? It's a - category, for us. Magical damage only hurts magical things and just goes right through walls or whatever. It doesn't destroy things, doesn't even physically injure monsters or bearers, just makes us... Directly harmed, sort of."

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"Magical damage is, I can shoot little jolts of purple light at stuff. Purple is my color, it varies. It damages physical things just fine and is somewhat more customizable than a bullet but not nearly as efficient on my gem charge. There is not a separate thing that is magic damage, there's just damage done with magic. Most girls get a signature weapon; I just get my shield and stuff guns in it."

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"Huh. Magical damage for us is all light and flash, like special effects. Still hurts though. We all get spears to start out with and can customize them to signature weapons later. I have a decorated staff, mostly just for looks. Kind of interesting how there's - similarities but differences."

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"To an extent the local system was designed, both by the aliens when they set it all up and by each individual girl when she makes wishes that theme her magic and then uses it in ways that suit her. Is yours supposedly organic?"

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"Supposedly. We don't know about the origins of it because spirits contradict each other and monsters really really like eating books and hard drives and such."

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"They do? Why?"

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"So many theories. They go for other things, just, it's information storage very noticeably often. Theories are - It's damaging to long-term growth. They hate civilization and the written word is the purest representation of that. Humans care about books and things and they want to destroy things humans care about. They just do because they're monsters. People expect them to and they conform to expectations."

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