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Generated: Jul 09, 2018 3:53 PM
Post last updated: Jul 14, 2018 7:48 PM
living words
A Rebecca lands in Scriven
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Rabka is standing in an unfamiliar room, holding her baby.

Three of the walls are a semi-translucent silver. 

The fourth is made of light. 

Words appear in the light.

Welcome.

You are here because the last speaker has died.

In an effort to prevent magic from entirely leaving this world, I have created this place.

You are now a speaker. 

To use your power, you must simply read out loud. Whatever you describe will come into existence before you.

If you wish to share this power, simply bring another into this room and announce that they have your blessing to become a speaker. But beware, in the wrong hands this power can lead to great destruction.

 

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...

Rabka's going to assume it's talking to her and not Cathei. Since Cathei can't talk yet.

"- the last speaker?" she tries, since that's written in front of her and maybe they could explain things better.

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There is no response, but the light of the wall does fade so she can see beyond it.

On the other side of the light there is a vast library. The library, and everything within, are the same semi-translucent silver as the other walls of the room. 

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What, no suddenly appearing last speaker? Damn. Must be more complicated.

She steps into the library, looking for other things to try reading.

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When she steps onto it, the floor crumbles beneath her feet.

It is only the top few inches of the floor, the part that resembles wooden planks if wood was ever translucent or silver, that crumble. Beneath the boards there is something studier that will bear her weight. 

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Well that's startling, but she doesn't fall far enough to drop the baby. Cathei wakes up and fusses. Rabka sticks a nipple in her mouth. She shuffles forward, kicking aside soapbubble-wood.

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She's surrounded by shelves and shelves of silver books, but any book that's as fragile as the floor would be impossible to read.

If she explores deeper, she'll find a corner of the library that has been spared from the silver. 

There's a wooden desk which is a familiar shade of brown, a comfortable looking chair, and a piece of the wall. The wall was originally a dark, forest green.

On the desk, there's a pile of half a dozen books no one ever re-shelved. 

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...sure. What's in those half a dozen books?

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All of the books seem to be fiction. 

The top book is called The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland. It's a tells the story of a young girl who finds her way to fairyland and then finds she's the only one who can save it.

The other books are titled:

These False Stars
Reversals
Poisonwood
The Commonwealth
Periapt
Keter Class Anomaly 

 

 

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First order of business, do any of them have food in them.

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In the second chapter of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, the main character is given a slice of rich red velvet cake. She decides to eat it despite the old stories that warn that eating food from fairyland means you can never leave.

 

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...Rabka flips to the end of the book to find out if she eventually leaves.

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She does. 

The story ends with her reuniting with her parents and wondering if she'll ever get to go back to fairyland again.

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Okay that's all the caution she has time for she's hungry. She reads the description of the cake.

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The book's description is short, no more than a single sentence. When she finishes reading it, the cake appears in front of her, sitting on a pretty china plate.

It looks delicious. 

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- is there a description of a fork.

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It is mentioned in passing several sentences down when the girl begins to eat the cake.

 

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She attempts to read into existence a fork.

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A fork appears along with the napkin mentioned in the same sentence.

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Cake time!

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The cake is as delicious as it looks.

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Oh good.

She eats her entire cake and reads up another slice and looks for something other than cake while she eats the second one.

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In some places in fairyland it snows sugar. 

A king is served 'a mug of mint, and doubloon sandwiches with just a scrap of butter'.

A street-side vendor invites her to buy a snow cone made of frozen moonlight.

She is given an envelope in a fine restaurant. When it opens, a pie lands in front of her. It is made of writing and filled with ink and pen nibs and typewriter keys. It is surprisingly tasty. The keys burst like soft grapes and summer cherries in her  mouth. The crust made of writing is both buttery and smooth and there's a hint of nutmeg and apple in the flavor.

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Very desserty. She reads another slice of cake - she was in the magic for a while - and skims the next one for food that is made of ingredients and not weird stuff.

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The food in 'These False Stars' isn't significantly better.

There is coffee and mushroom wine and solace fruit (which may only be eaten in small quantities) and dark-dewed cherries (you feel as if you can run forever) and prisoner's honey (it contains fragments of memories). 

The characters occasionally eat fish, but the fish in this world may not be normal either. 

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Why is all the food so weird! She tries a fish.

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The fish is mostly normal, but there's a subtle under-flavor, something bitter and almost metal, that she's never tasted before. 

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...she kind of needs to eat more than just cake but she'll pick at the fish kind of slowly while she skims another book for food.

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Out of all the books, Poisonwood contains the most mundane food. There's no magic in this story, but there are long descriptions of family meals.

She can get chicken, eggs, bread, milk, butter, salt, beans, yams, bananas, plantains, oranges, manioc, and fish.

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Oh good! She will have beans and eggs and a banana.

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They taste exactly like they should.

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Good. She's not gonna starve! Hurray.

She shuffles through more crumbly floor looking for a place to set down Cathei.

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There's nowhere inside the library itself, but the library does have a silver door.

She could probably walk through it.

 

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Sure, why not.

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Beyond the library, there is a hallway.

It starts out entirely overtaken by silver, but the total amount of silver fades the farther down the hall she goes.

This place is quite large. She passes dozens of empty rooms, but near the end of the hall there's a cluster that seems meant to be lived in.

There's an intact sitting room, three bedrooms, each with an attached restroom, and something that's probably a kitchen though the only immediately recognizable bits are the dishes, cutlery, and cooking knives.

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She doesn't recognize much in the bathroom either. She puts Cathei, who is too young to roll yet, on a bed, and goes around poking things, eventually in the spirit of experimentation nudging a tap.

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Nothing comes out of the tap.

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She didn't know enough about what she was expecting to be disappointed. She explores further.

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The place continues to look completely unused.

It's dimmer in this part of the building. The light that filtered down through the silver to light the library can not reach as easily here.

There's a small infirmary, though it would be difficult for Rabka to recognize. It contains two closed capsules, each big enough for a human to lie down in. There's an exercise room that's full of unfamiliar equipment. There are three rooms small rooms that are empty except for a single, comfortable chair. They all have black walls. 

There's a gigantic chamber at the very end of the hallway. It's tall enough for most full sized trees and long enough that you'd have to shout to be heard from the far wall.

There are no windows in any of the rooms.

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Funky house. Can she find an exit?

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There's a spiral staircase leading upwards. It is completely silver. 

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Yeah okay.

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The first stair crumbles under her foot when she tries to step on it.

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Rats.

Anything she could use as a ladder, elsewhere in the house?

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She could make it part of the way up with some of the gym equipment, but it wouldn't take her all the way.

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And it looks hard to stack.

She takes the books into the room where Cathei is and flops down to nurse some more while she's giving them a more careful read for useful contents.

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland contains a variety of strange magical objects and magical people. This includes a woman made of soap, a blue boy who can potentially grant wishes, and a wyvern who can fly. The magical objects are largely more interesting than useful, but she could read to life a flute that makes everyone listening fall asleep, a bucket of water that never empties, or a mirror that lets you see the person you love most. The book also mentions several large libraries at various points.

These False Stars is the story of a city that was stolen and pulled underground. It tells the story of a surface dweller and their many adventures with the cities various denizens of this place. There is less obvious magic in this story, though if she wished she could acquire a box full of sunlight. Sunlight seems to be mildly addictive, though possibly only for people who have never seen the sun. She could also acquire a talking cat or a golem who obeys any orders they are given. This story would also be a good source of weapons and ships. 

Reversals tells the story of a minor god, Kahou. On rare occasions humans will summon minor gods and bind them to human children, to get access to the demon's powers. The children are universally loathed, but tolerated for the advantage they bring. Kahou befriends and comes to love the child he is bound within. When the child is murdered, he chooses to remain in the mortal realm. He goes on a quest to rescue the other children and protect them from those who would use or kill them. There are many descriptions of plant and wildlife in this story along with some descriptions of food. A ladder is used once. 

Poisonwood is the story of a missionary and his family. It follows the youngest daughter and describes the discord in the family and the dangers and troubles they endure while living in a place that's very far from home. This book is a good source of food. It also takes the time to describe a lot of everyday objects, soap, hot water, beds, shoes, among others. Rope is used several times. It also mentions cars, which might be a good transportation method.

Periapt tells the story of a world that killed itself with magic. It is possible for anyone in this setting to create powerful magical artifacts, but overreach you turn into a monster. The more powerful the object you tried to create, the more powerful the monster. Several magic users overstretched and became monsters that destroyed civilization. The book contains many potentially useful magical artifacts including a pair of wearable wings that enable flight, a mosaic of the sun that makes it permanently summer in a mile radius, and a pendant that protects the wearer from all decay and injury.

 Keter Class Anomaly tells the story of an organization that collects and secures strange and powerful artifacts and people. One of them escapes and threatens to destroy the world. Most of the anomalies mentioned in the book are dangerous and hostile, but there are a few potentially useful ones. These include a bell that summons a perfectly obedient butler named Mr. Deeds, a pizza box that will generate the holder's preferred choice of pizza, and a machine that can or refine or break down anything placed inside, though the exact results are unpredictable.  

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She isn't sure where to put a library because she's not sure how much architecture will come along, but it's probably a good idea if she can find the exit. She dog-ears pages with good stuff on them.

When Cathei is done eating she goes and crumbles the stairs she can reach out of the way and tries to read up a ladder.

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The ladder appears. 

It isn't tall enough, only reaching about half of the way to the top of the stairs. 

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Well damn. Can she make a longer one by adding some adjectives when she reads?

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That doesn't work. When she tries that, no ladder appears at all.

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Rats.

She goes and has a closer look at the wearable wings description.

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The wings are attached at the top to a necklace. When someone puts the necklace on, the wings attach to wearer's back, ignoring any clothing. The wearer can feel the wings just as if they were another limb, though the wings can't be injured, and flying is intuitive. 

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Well that sounds pretty cool and might get her up, although maybe she'll crash into the ceiling. She reads the wings.

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They appear in front of her.

The feathers move in an invisible wind.

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Keen. She puts it on and tries flying up the stairwell.

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Flying is effortless.

At the top of the stairwell there is a landing and a closed door. The door will crumble easily if she tries to pass through.

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Cool. She continues exploring.

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The stairwell's door was carefully concealed in the entryway of a small house.

The house sits in a desert. It's early evening and the air is almost cool. 

The house and the road leading up to it have been entirely consumed by silver. Occasionally, a thread of silver runs off from the road to envelop a cactus or shrub, but most of the visible landscape is the soft brown and yellow one would expect from a desert. 

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Weird.

She goes back to check on Cathei, who has taken exception to being left all alone.

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She's exactly where Rabka left her.

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Good. Can she still fly with her in arms?

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She can.

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She brings Cathei up in the air to see if there's anything but desert and house.

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The small road eventually joins a larger road, which leads to a small town.

There is a scattering of housing along the way. One is notably larger than the others and could almost be mistaken for a castle. 

A smaller house, which lies at the end of a winding dirt road, has completely escaped the silver.

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Might as well check them out to see if any of them are pleasanter-looking to live in.

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The small house is very small. The doors are locked, but Rabka can see in through the windows.

It's mostly one big room inside, with a bed in one corner and a kitchenette on the opposite wall. Paintings of varying quality cover every free inch of wall space. There's a pile of paintings in the corner of the room and a few peeking out from beneath the bed. 

There's a shed behind the house. It contains a small tank and a pipe that leads straight down into the ground. 

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Huh.

What about the other houses, like the castle one?

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Mostly transformed into the same semi-transparent silver.

Sections of some of the houses are spared. When this is an upper story or roof, the house crumples.

In the mansion, Rabka will be able to find a room with an elaborate modern train set up and a bathroom with fluffy towels and fancy soaps that have flowers embedded in their centers.

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There aren't any skeletons around, are there? The mansion seems nice; how much of it is silvered?

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On the road there are occasional cars. 

If she stops to inspect a car she will find a silver person inside. Accurate and human in every detail except what they are made of. 

Most of the mansion is silvered. A handful of rooms have mostly escaped, the train room, a restroom, a study, and a guest bedroom. The guest restroom has lost some of it's left wall to the silver and a thread of silver has snaked into the study to consume a potted plant that was sitting in the corner. 

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The people in the cars are creepy. She doesn't disturb them.

Maybe she should just read herself a totally not silver house. She goes back bookward, trying to remember any nice houses in the books.

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She could have the castle of the fairy queen if she liked.

The ending of Reversals has the demon and his adopted children moving into a slightly too small but comfortable house. The book doesn't give much detail beyond that.

The family in Poisonwood's house is described in more detail. It's roomy but well lived in and has somewhat fallen into disrepair. The front step of the porch is broken and the attic leaks when it rains. It is also has a few well described luxuries like the parent's feather mattress and a collection of hand carved, wooden children's toys. 

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Well, there's lots of room in the desert if she decides she doesn't like the castle of the fairy queen. She can add the feather mattress and the children's toys separately.

She removes all the books from the house, sweeps it for any more books, and goes out to find a site for the castle.

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There's a nice flat spot of desert over here that has no traces of silver. 

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Marvelous. She sits down, Cathei in lap and book on sand because her arms are tired, and reads the castle.

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And the castle appears before her, without a sound or breath of wind to announce its arrival. 

The silver capped towers shine, brighter than they have any right to be in the fading evening sunlight. 

The front doors are open.

 

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And she traipses in.

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The entry hall is big enough to fit a normal house. 

There's a fountain in the center. Bright fish swim in the water. Bright trails of light follow them wherever they go. There's the faint sound of music. It seems to come from every direction at once. It's barely noticeable until you start to focus on it and then the barely audible melody turn into a performance around you, bright flutes, proud horns, gentle and persistent drums, and soft voices singing in what seems to be no language in particular. 

The throne room is directly ahead, through a set of double doors tall enough to allow a giant entry, but there are many other doors in the foyer, both grand and unobtrusive.

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...she wonders if she needs to maintain the fish or if they are magic fish. She guesses she will find out because she doesn't know what fish eat.

Rabka explores the castle, cooing along to the music.

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Many of the rooms in the castle seem to exist for no reason except to be beautiful or strange or wondrous.

There's a ballroom where empty suits and empty dresses dance together. Invisible hands are set on silk waists and shoes move across the marble floor, attached by nothing but air and the knowledge of where legs would be. 

There's a hall with mosaics made of broken glass, designed to look like you are under the sea.  Brightly colored fish dart by, changing the color of the fragments as they go. Occasionally, there is a shadow across the glass as something large passes by, far above in the nonexistent sea.

There's a room full of paper songbirds. When they sing, you can watch the musical notes drift out of their mouths. Other birds swoop by, snatching the notes from the air and then singing them out again, mixed into new patterns. Occasionally a bird will run out of notes and crumple. Occasionally a bird will gather so many notes that it can no longer hold them and will lay a paper egg.  

But there is practicality mixed in with the extravagance. 

The left side of the castle contains the guest wing. Each room is unique. A few are meant for children.

There's a room with a tree containing a cradle. It sways softly and constantly in a nonexistent breeze. There's a flower growing out of the wall next to the door. A caretaker can tuck it behind their ear, and hear everything that happens in the room while they're away.

There's a room with a crib made of a sea shell. It is coated in mother of pearl and big enough to hold a child. In this room, the sea can always be heard. A sandcastle builds and falls and rebuilds itself in the corner. The sand always stays nicely where it should be. There's a small seashell by the door here and one needs only to hold it to their ear to hear their child.

There's a room where the cradle is a cloud. The ceiling is painted like the night sky. It matches the true sky perfectly, except for the unusual frequency of shooting stars. A small cloud will follow the caretaker when they leave. It unobtrusive, hiding in corners or beneath chairs, unless there is  trouble.

There's also a room with a simple wooden crib. It seems to be a concession and not one made happily. Everything in the room is almost purposefully dull. There is a mobile above the bed. From it, hangs simple circles painted with dull colors, blue, red, green and something that might be yellow, if yellow was sad. There's a plain wooden bracelet by the door. It reports the sounds in the room completely accurately. The volume is not adjustable.  

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Yep, Rabka lives here now. What a good castle. She feeds Cathei again and puts her in the cloud crib and runs out with the cloud following her to see everything else.

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Not all of the guest rooms were made for people who were human shaped.

There's a room with a bed big enough for a giant. It would take a ladder to get up onto the mattress. Each of the pillows are big enough by themselves to be Rakba's bed.

There's a room filled with water. The water politely stays inside when the door is open. A stand of thick green kelp sways in front of the door, obscuring the view of the rest of room.

There's a room filled with knee-high golden grass dotted with wildflowers. The air smells very faintly of honey. Tiny golden bees pollinate the flowers. One lands on Rabka's head. If she takes a closer look, she'll find that the bees are made of gold with wings woven from silver thread.

 

Past the guest rooms, there's the secretarial wing of the palace.

A stream threads through the rooms in the secretarial wing. It bubbles and gurgles and climbs stairs and the occasional wall without any difficulty. Boats float on the stream. Their sails are written messages. They travel both ways, disregarding the directions of the current. Empty boats huddle in ports between the rooms, waiting for new sails. The ports are all equipped with blank sails and pens.

Half of the boats seem aimless now, wandering back and forth, unable to find the person to whom their message was sent. A herd of them follow Rabka when she passes by, trying to give her messages addressed to a dozen absent or ambiguous people.

There's a wall of keys in the secretarial wing. When Rabka passes by, some keys strain against their hooks, eager to be used. Others hiss at her if she comes too close. 

 

 

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She reads boats!

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To the twenty-third footman of the Marquess,

There's going to be a twenty-fourth footman soon if you keep forgetting to polish the spoons. 

The fourth butler


To the Sunday morning scribe,

PURPLE ink. Purple. Not blue, not dark red, and stop it with the lavender. It needs to be purple. Dark, proper, royal purple.

Also, stop transcribing people's sneezes. It's undignified. 

The judge of the Marquess's tertiary court 


To the eastern gardener,

The lilies of the grave have started unfurling their petals at twenty minutes to midnight. They've been blooming at thirty past for years. They clash dreadfully with the fire orchids if they're open at the same time.

If you have a spare minute, I'd appreciate you coming to take a look.

The western gardener

 

One of the sails is a detailed list of the menagerie's weekly expenditures, including but not limited to, twelve pounds of acorns, one bottle of valve oil, seven spools of blue thread, two pounds of living ants, half a pound of salt, a dozen mother-of-pearl buttons, twenty pounds of raw antelope, three pounds of lime peels, and a cask of unfermented wine.


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This is all hilarious.

Has she seen the whole palace yet?

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She has not.

There's the Marquess's wing, which will refuse to allow her entry.

There are the east and west gardens. 

There is the library.

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- oooh a library. This should have occurred to her but it didn't! How is the library organized?

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The books are arranged by theme, but the themes constantly change. The books can't quite decide where they want to be and are constantly switching shelves. They don’t do it when Rabka’s looking, but if she turns her back, she’ll hear a suspicious flapping of pages and a book that was shelved under ‘the enjoyment of childhood’ will suddenly be shelved under ‘things found in the hollows of trees’.

Occasionally, a book will feel so indecisive that it will tear itself in two. Then both halves will limp their way over to the circulation desk to wait with other ashamed, indecisive books for a bookbinder who will never come.

Whoever made this place seems to rather strongly believe that one should be able to get lost in a library. The library is a warren of small interconnecting rooms with no obvious organization. Many of the little rooms are themed around the shelves they contain, the books on bees are in a room that looks like a beehive and always smells sweet, the books on 'the sensation of flight' are in a room whose walls are painted with slowly moving clouds.

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What a neat library. Rabka doesn't venture too deeply in; she doesn't want to get stuck. Although she supposes it is now particularly safe for her to be trapped in a library, even so she prefers otherwise.

She looks at the indecisive books to see what they are about.

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There's a novella about a woman made of soap. No matter how hard she scrubbed she could never get clean, but each time she bathed she got smaller and smaller and smaller.

There's a book filled with beautiful illustrations of flowers, carefully labeled with the date and location where they were found. Each flower has a handwritten poem beneath it. No two poems share the same handwriting. Each poem is about loss, of a child, a partner, a sibling, a parent, a friend. Some are brutal, some are melancholy, some speak only of loss, others speak dwell on treasured memories. A few of the poems convey enough grief that they seem as if they could make even the sky and the earth and the air weep.

There's a book that tells the story of a bird who flew out of fairyland and pretended to be a human for a while.

There's a textbook that starts as a history of fairyland and ends with as in-depth investigation of the lifecycles of wyverns. It strongly denounces the widely held belief that wyverns are born from books. 

 

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Well, if she ever wants a wyvern for anything, that'll be wrong.

She skims section names and titles therein.

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Things that were once lost

The Spindle and the Butterfly
The Sound that can't be Heard
The Completion of Nightmares

Misplaced trust

Dread of Drowning
The Wind Gave Her Wings
Scream at the Sea
A Hatred of Breathing

Things born from chance

The Keeper of Lost Paths
The Quandary

Reflections

The Shadows that Gather
Autumn's Gate
Pain without Glory

 

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Gosh. These are not the most informative titles ever. She flips through Autumn's Gate.

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According to the book, autumn's gate appears in pools of still water, when autumn branches create rough circles against the sky. If you dive into the gate, you'll enter a reflection of the world. It will show you a world without your biggest regret. You can stay there until Autumn ends and sometimes, take things back with you.

The book is filled with stories from those who claim to have traveled through the gate.

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Huh.

She might have an easier time finding useful stuff in reference materials, can she dig up anything like that or is it all storybooks?

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She can, if she keeps digging. There's more far more fiction than non-fiction here, but both exist. 

After she's looked at a few more books, she might begin to notice a pattern. All books that have some sort of truth to them have a gold symbol embossed on their spine.

The symbols vary. A stylized eye seems to represent first hand accounts, biographies and histories, stories of what people have experienced or claimed to have experienced. A stylized leaf represents books of naturalism, descriptions and explanations of the flora and fauna and magic of fairyland. Three circles represent books of a more analytical nature, there's the occasional book of pure mathematical theory as well as books on economics and magical theory. A footprint represents a genre of books somewhere between travel guides and anthropological texts, there are vivid descriptions of the various people of fairyland and the places where they live. A paintbrush represents guides to and collections of the various arts of fairyland, painting, music, magic as well as many others. There are more symbols, but they appear rarely and are harder to categorize. 

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Oh cool! That's handy. She suspects footprint books and leaf books will be the best for getting basic needs.

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Many of the books are irrelevant to her, but in the easily accessible parts of the library, there's a handful that could be useful.

 

Leaf books:
A collection of unique magical plants. Each appears in fairyland only once. 

A study of types of pgymy dragons, ranging from fingernail size to the size of a large dog. Along with the dryer details, the books rates their intelligence and suitability as pets.  


Footprint books:

A detailed survey of the fashions worn on the moon.

An overview, full of illustrations with their accompanying written descriptions, of the architecture and craftsmanship of the floating city of Naut. 

A travelogue set in the silk city of Lelyn. The author focused heavily on the local food and restaurants. 

The memoir of a fairy child raised by wyverns. The details of her adoption and the rest of her early years are filled in by her older wyvern sister. 

 

 

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A pet dragon might be neat for Cathei later but would be a bit much right now. Food and clothes and baby stuff are all handy, though. She reads a few things into existence and gets to work colonizing a human-friendly corner of the castle.

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The cloud will alert her when Cathei wakes up.

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What a good cloud. She goes and feeds Cathei. She reads herself dinner. She feeds Cathei again. She sleeps.

In the morning she feeds Cathei and reads herself breakfast and notes that she is kind of lonely. And that she's neglected to take out her and Cathei's earrings, which she does at once. And then she starts looking for people who might be good to read.

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The books are full of every type of person one might imagine. There are the protagonists, who have a tendency towards hubris and recklessness, but are genuinely good at heart and would gladly assist her (though there'd be a slight risk of them taking over). There are the smaller characters, but those are sometimes hard to get an accurate read on. But, after a few hours, she'll have a few promising options.

There's the minor god from the first pile of books she's found. He seems kind, though it's not always obviousand has a fondness for children. He's also powerful enough to protect them if any threats exist here, though his magic isn't good for much else. 

There's a fairy around Rabka's age. She has a four year old son and is notable for her utterly unbreakable determination and general optimism. 

There's the matriarch of a clan of wyverns. She's gentle and wise and was willing to take in a lost fairy child when no one else would.

There's a friendly, inquisitive scientist from fairyland's companion world, Earth, which occasionally sends in visitors. She'd be delighted by the magic here and is responsible enough to look after a child.

There's a singer from a world where everything is, at it's core, made of music. He can convince the world to conform to his whims with a beautiful enough song and delights in this ability. He's good natured, though a bit distractible. 

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Since Rabka does not really know what wyverns are she's gonna pass on the wyvern.

She bookmarks the musical guy for later but since it's unclear if he likes kids she'll wait on him.

The fairy sounds nice but until she's more established adding more kids sounds like a mistake.

She debates between the god and the scientist but decides not to involve gods at this time.

She reads the scientist into existence.

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She appears and then starts and looks around.

Her eyes land on Rabka.

"I wasn't expecting this."

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"Hey, yeah sorry, I don't think I can make you be expecting stuff."

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"Make me?"

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"So like I have these weird powers now where I can make stuff out of books if I read it? But I tried writing something else in once and it didn't work so I don't think I can change what's in the books. Like by having you start expecting to be read out of a book."

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"You can make stuff out of books? Can you show me?"

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"Sure, are you hungry?"

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"A little."

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"Lemme find my food bookmarks..." She locates the food bookmarks to show Glen.

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"I've been wanting to try one of these," Glen says, stopping at the author's description of a woven apple.

 

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"Sure. You haven't? Why not?"

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"You can only get them in Lelyn. I've been meaning to visit, but there are just so many places to see."

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"Well, you can have one now." She reads it and looks at it curiously once it appears.

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The apple is a vivid red and is soft to the touch. If you look closely, you can see the silk threads that have been woven together to create the apple's skin. The stem is similarly woven. 

 

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"That's amazing," Glen says, "How does it work? Have you always been able to do it? Can you create anything?"

 

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"It's new. I don't know if there are things I can't make, as long as I can find them in a book, though. I just showed up here with my baby - nobody read me, it was deserted - and I could do it."

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"So we're not in fairyland? I recognized the Marques's library."

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"Nah, I made the castle but none of the rest of the place is fairyland."

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Glen takes a second to absorb this.

"Can I see my book?"

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"Sure." She passes it over.

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Glen takes a few minutes to look through the book and then she takes in a deep breath and lets it out slowly.

"So, I'm not real, or wasn't. I guess fairyland never did make much sense."

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"It didn't?"

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She shakes her head.

"No, none of the magic seemed to follow any rules or it sometimes had rules, but they changed whenever it was convenient. I was convinced there had to be some core principles buried beneath it all, but I couldn't find them."

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"Huh. I didn't read the whole plot or anything."

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"It doesn't seem to be mostly about that anyway. It's probably not very good material for a novel."

She glances back at the book.

"I suppose a quest to break a friend's curse is more interesting, but I haven't even met him yet and it doesn't seem like I did anything about all the other curses tormenting innocent people in fairyland."

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"If you're any good at cursebreaking my daughter sometimes turns into a teapot."

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"She does? What happened?"

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"I walked into a magic with her. That's what happened to my hair too."

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"Your hair's gorgeous, but I've done my fair share of dodging non-consensual aesthetic magic. I could change your hair back I think, but your baby would be trickier. I haven't actually started researching curse-breaking yet, but I've learned some magic and I'm sure I took notes. It might mention them somewhere in here."

She taps the book.

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"I like the hair, leave the hair."

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"How urgent is it? Is it hurting her?"

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"No, she's gone back to normal, but I don't know when she'll turn back if she will."

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She nods.

"There's a general magic reversal potion I could try, but I'm not sure what it would do to a baby or how it'd react to magic from another reality."

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"Maybe better not to risk it. Might find something better in a book or it might turn out it was a one time thing."

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"Hopefully it was, but we do have the Marquess's library. I should be able to find something better or at least find out if the potion is safe for children. I'm not actually magical myself, so all of the magic I can do requires magical ingredients. I'll need your help if I want to test things."

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"Sure. I got magically better at reading when I showed up here."

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"I'd really like to hear more about that if you have the time."

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"So, I walked into a magic with Cathei - the baby - and in magics random things happen, so my hair got rainbowy and she turned into a teapot, and I camped out there for a while, and then I was in a room in a house with like four books and the reading magic powers."

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"That's even stranger than how I arrived in fairyland. What's 'a magic' where you're from?"

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"It's a place where things that go there have random things happen to them. Usually bad things, I was kinda desperate."

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"I'm sorry."

She pauses, not quite sure what to say.

 

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"It's okay. It was real scary before I knew Cathei'd turn back but she did."

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"I'm glad she did. Have you been able to figure anything out about this place?"

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"Not like a ton. There's desert, and there's some buildings, and most of them have been mostly turned into this fragile silvery stuff, so I just read this castle instead of trying to live in one of those. There's nobody else here but me and Cathei, either."

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"Huh. But there were other people where you came from?"

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"Yeah, 'course."

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"I wonder if this place created you from a book too, somehow."

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"...I don't think so? Like, there was no one to read about me, and no books with me in them."

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"And you have at least a partial explanation for how you got here. That's good. I'd prefer to not be one of the only three people who exist."

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"I can read more! I had a short list. I just went with you first because you seemed less complicated than some of them."

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"What's complicated about the others?"

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"Like one of 'em had her own kid and one was a god and one was a wyvern and stuff..."

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"I've met wyverns, they tend to be quite friendly, if a little intense. But you probably wouldn't want to create someone without their kid and, as fascinating as it'd be to meet a god, it does seem risky."

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"What do you mean a little intense?"

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"Most wyverns have a single focus, libraries are common. Most libraries in fairyland have a wyvern. They're hyperfocused on it and it's difficult to get them to talk about anything else. And I've yet to meet a wyvern who doesn't sound incredibly passionate all the time."

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"Gosh. I don't know about that."

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"Yeah. Wyverns aren't the first people I'd pick if I was trying to repopulate."

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"Who would be?"

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"I'm not actually that close to anyone. There are a few fairies I like and a few powerful witches I've only heard about, but no one I'd want to be responsible for either creating or kidnapping."

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"Nobody I know about from home was that great. Or in a book."

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"I'm not sure how most people would react to not being real. It's not bothering me much, but some people are likely to freak out."

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"I guess that makes sense."

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"I don't know if that's something you'll be able to predict from reading a book. I wouldn't have known how I'd react, if you'd asked me ahead of time. So that's a reason not to create people who can instantly murder us if they are upset, at least for now."

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"Yes, I agree. Suggests no gods or wyverns." Cathei announces it's feeding time; Rabka summons her to her arms and feeds her.

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"Aww."

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"When she's done do you wanna hold her?"

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"Yeah, I would."

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And when Cathei consents to be finished nursing she is offered to Glen.

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Glen carefully takes her.

She knows how to hold a baby, but she's obviously not practiced in it.

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She doesn't get it wrong enough to warrant correction. "Isn't she so soft and warm?"

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Glen smiles down at the baby.

"She is."

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"My owner was going to sell her so I walked into the magic and said he'd better sell the both of us to somebody else or I wasn't coming out."

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"What a horrible person. That was really brave of you. I'm not sure I could've done it."

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"Thanks."

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"We should probably set up some defenses, just in case. If you can read a castle into existence, there might be people around who'd do worse things."

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"I think it's just me but I guess there could be somebody else I wouldn't've noticed."

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"You're probably right, but you never know. I don't think we have to be too paranoid, but I'd like to at least set up a perimeter of bell trees."

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"What's a bell tree?"

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"Silver trees that have little bells instead of leaves. They never grow larger than a sapling. They like people and ring their bells whenever someone passes by to try and get their attention."

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"Awww, that's cute. I have to read it though, I can't just say it..."

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"If the library has a field guide to unmoored mountains, we should be able to find a description."

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"The library's organized really weird. I've never been in one before but I bet normal ones aren't like this."

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"They really aren't. The best libraries are organized numerically by subject material. The last time I was here, the librarian took pity on me and gave me a compass that pointed me towards the book I wanted."

 

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"I don't suppose that's written about anywhere."

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"Not unless it made it into my book?"

Glen checks. It apparently wasn't notable enough. 

"But other people would've had the same problem."

Glen makes her way over to the librarian's desk and starts opening drawers. 

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Rabka goes to help. "What'd it look like?"

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"It was palm sized and silver," Glen says.

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Rabka will find a bag of them tucked away in the bottom of a drawer, hidden under a poorly drawn map and a pamphlet on proper wing grooming.

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"This them?" she asks, holding up the bag.

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"Yeah! Now we just need to figure out how to activate them."

Glen takes one and turns it over in her hand.

"I wish there was a standard set of rules for designing magical artifacts, but people just use whatever they happen to feel like at the time."

She tries several obvious commands, including ordering it to lead her directly to a book and listing books' titles. It doesn't react.

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"Magic is super different here than at home."

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Glen runs through a dozen other possible wordings. The compass remains inert. 

Glen sighs.

"Well, if it is tied to a specific phrase, I'm unlikely to figure it out."

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Rabka rattles the bag. "Are they all gonna be the same?"

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"Maybe not, want to help me try them?"

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"Sure, why not." She starts addressing the doodads.

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The first one she talks to starts humming in her hand.

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"It's doing, uh, something!"

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"Try telling it to point to something?"

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"Now I can't think of anything. What were we looking for again?"

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"Uh, a field guide to the unmoored mountains."

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"Field guide to the unmoored mountains," Rabka says to the compass.

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The arrow spins ones and then settles, pointing deeper into the library.

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"Huh."

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Rabka motions Glen along as she heads into the stacks.

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Glen follows.

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The compass leads them through a bizarre maze of rooms and hallways, finally stopping in a room with a slowly melting ice sculpture of a cactus in its center.

The compass directs them to one of the shelves where 'A guide to the flora and fauna of the Unmoored Mountains' is waiting. 

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Rabka pulls it and flips through.

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It's full of vivid, colorful images of plants and animals.

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Glen stops her when they reach the page on bell trees.

 

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"A lot of these things look neat. I'll put in a bell tree first though -" She weaves back out of the stacks, a little tentative.

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Once she has the book, the compass starts pointing to the exit. 

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"I wonder if the castle thinks you're in charge."

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"I dunno! How do castles decide that? Does having made it count?" She follows the compass along.

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"It might. Usually that is decided on creation. It doesn't have to be the person making it, everything here probably answered to the Marquess even if she didn't make it herself, but if everyone else is gone you are the obvious choice."

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"Is it gonna decide it likes you better if I take too much advice from you?"

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She laughs.

"I don't think so, not unless they specifically enchanted to do that."

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"So far I haven't tried to make any things do stuff that it seemed like they did and had them go 'nah' but I don't know what all they're supposed to do..."

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"Have you anywhere the castle won't let you go?"

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"Oh, there's like one wing I couldn't go in."

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"So I guess the magic hasn't accepted you as complete master of the castle. That's too bad."

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"Can I fix it?"

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"You could try."

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"I mean, sure I can, but will it work? Do I just ask nicely? Do I knock in a weird way?"

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"You could try reading her crown into existence. Traditionally, the magic would be tied to who wore the crown, though the Marquess isn't always traditional. Or you could try convincing the magic you are the Marquess. It isn't always very smart."

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Rabka goes looking for a written description of the crown.

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Glen helps her look through the books once she's found them. 

There are an extremely large number of books on the Marquess. It doesn't take long to find a description of her crown.

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Rabka reads the crown into existence and puts it on her head.

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"And who are you supposed to be?" a voice says, bypassing her ears and speaking directly into her mind.

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"Uh... Rabka?" she says, not sure how to answer without speaking.

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"Rabka," the voice says flatly.

"And why pray tell are you wearing the crown, Rabka?"

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"I made it."

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The voice sniffs, despite not having a nose.

"You did not. The Marquess made it. I remember that quite clearly."

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"I read it into existence just now! Before that it was in a book."

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"You clearly have no idea how magic works. You obviously stole me. Why, moments ago, I was sitting on the Marquess's head!"

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"I mean you remember that, I guess, but not really no."

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"I think I can trust my own memory young lady!"

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"I mean it's not that you remember it wrong, it's just, you were made just now, with the memories already - Glen back me up -"

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"I'm only hearing half the conversation, but as far as I can tell she's right. We seem to be magical creations that only started existing a few minutes ago. That or we were magically grabbed from fairyland, but the former seems more likely."

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"Hmph. Prove it."

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"I can read something else? Will that do it?"

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"I suppose."

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She finds some of her bookmarked food and makes that.

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There is a long pause.

"Well then," the voice says, sounding miffed.

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Chomp. "So I can wear you, right?"

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The crown sighs.

"I suppose. You do seem to have potential, though you are lacking a certain amount of sophistication."

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"I'm new at this."

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"I suppose you might have potential."

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"What is it I have potential to do?"

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"You will never be the Marquess, but you may not be a terrible substitute."

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"Thank you."

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"Want to try the locked wing again?"

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"Sure!" And she traipses thataway.

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They reach the door behind the throne.

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Knock knock. "Lemme in."

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"I suppose," the crown says.

The door opens.

The Marquess's quarters are human. There's a living room with a large, comfy chair and a footrest you can open with a handle. The bedroom has a large queen bed with a faded quilt. The bed is piled high with stuffed animals, some are very well worn. 

There's no magic in sight.

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That's interesting in its own right! "What can you tell me about this wing?" Rabka asks the crown.

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"The Marquess lives, perhaps lived, here. She insisted that it be decorated only with non-magical items. She had servants running all over the kingdom and even sneaking onto Earth to find them."

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"Any way I can hear too?" 

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"Can you let my friend here hear you?"

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"Her? She's nobody. Why would I let her hear me?"

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"'Cause otherwise I have to tell her what you say if I want her to know it."