Sep 26, 2021 8:01 AM
imrainai, ves, and stts are thrown into amenta's past
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She can't work up the nerve to ask something that makes her look weirder than she already does. Let's see. Hm.

"This is a beautiful house you have here. Things aren't so spacious in the cities. How long ago was it built?"

The woman is somewhat surprised at this question, once she understands it, but she talks about how her grandson and his wife and their six children (six!) built it together so that her granddaughter and their family would have a place that was big enough for their growing family. Must have been about twelve years ago, now.

"Twelve... I'm no good at math, what year would that have been?"

3100 exactly. That's an easy one, Kairda should study her sums more, though of course the woman understands that not everyone has the opportunity to practice sums very often. Perhaps the green she's traveling with could help her with that.

Kairda laughs nervously, agrees, and relays to Zada that the year is 3112.

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That is very definitely not the year it is supposed to be. 3426 minus 3112 is three hundred and fourteen is very definitely not the year it is supposed to be.

He has an idea for how to test this hypothesis; he doesn't want to make his companions uncomfortable by bringing it up, but if he has somehow been transported more than three centuries into the past that is too important not to check.

"It occurs to me that we could potentially differentiate between reenactors and time travel by asking to use their restroom. Even an extreme reenactment group would probably have proper plumbing, unless everyone in the group is hyposensitive and probably not even then."

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Kairda frowns as this is relayed, but it seems like a basically sensible test.

"I'm sorry to bother you, but we've been on the road a long time, do you have a place where - I'm not sure how to say this politely in your dialect, but we haven't been able to pee for some time?"

Oh, the poor dears. It's not like it is in the cities out here. They have an outhouse at the edge of the village, to keep the waste from polluting anything else. 

Kairda relays this.

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"That strongly suggests that they are not a reenactment group."

3112. 3112. That is not the year it is supposed to be.

"Do you have any ideas about what we should do, assuming we're not mistaken? Most of my skills don't exactly transfer to three centuries ago."

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"Well, uh, I guess if we have been transported three centuries into the past... I should figure out how to speak Middle Voan, it can't be that hard to learn basic conversational speech if Kairda's managing. We'll need to find some way of supporting ourselves. I'm an aeronautics mechanic but I'm sure they have some kind of unskilled labor we can do, and Kairda's probably even mostly literate. Not that there are likely to be any in-caste opportunities to make money with literacy. We should get to the city and see what our options are."

She's going to need hair dye, and if they have against all logic ended up in the past somehow, there's not going to be any hair dye to be found. Fuck. Maybe people had some way of staining or bleaching it. She'll have to ask Kairda later. She can't do it in front of everyone like this, the random farmer might catch what she's saying.

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"Maybe there's some sort of unskilled labor that you can do, but no one is going to hire a green person to move boxes around. Theology is great, but it's not like -- whoever was in charge of Voa in 3112 -- is going to hire a random theologian without any provable credentials to advise them, at least not without substantial work.

...But yes, getting the city sounds like a good idea, as is learning the language."

He mentally lists everything else in-caste that he could plausibly do. His other two roommates are an author and an illustrator, but he can't write stories especially well and he can't draw at all. He might be able to learn how to write stories, or plagiarize a book that he'd studied in school, but even that would only get him content, not style. The only instrument he could play competently was the theremin, and that seemed unlikely to have been invented yet; he could learn another, but buying an instrument and paying for lessons would require money.

Maybe he can be a scientist and make discoveries by virtue of having learned about them in school, but that will require remembering both major scientific discoveries well enough to reconstruct them and when they were discovered.

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"You could probably be an artist or something. Kairda's, like, compulsive about writing, just poke her to write things and then publish them under your name. Or you could pretend to be a scientist from Anitam who's come to seek royal patronage for his weird ideas, I bet we could at least teach them about, like, crop rotation or something. Anyway, to start with we just need enough money to keep ourselves from starving, and then we'll figure out whatever else we're planning to do."

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It would probably be a bad time to express his skepticism that Kairda's writing is actually good enough to earn them a substantial amount of money. 

"The scientist plan would work better than the art one; I'm not particularly talented in the visual arts."

He starts to pull out his everything to make a list, since he doesn't have paper with him, then hesitates. "Actually, I should probably turn this off. It might at some point be convenient to be able to demonstrate futuristic capabilities, and I don't have a way to charge it."

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"Probably," says Zada, switching hers off, too. She gets a weird look from the farmer lady, but it doesn't prompt a comment; the angle's not one where she can see the screen. "Kairda, can you ask her for directions to the city? We should start addressing our lack of funds sooner, not later."

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It takes Kairda a while to get the directions out of the woman; the words for east and west are recognizable, but the words for north and south are different. Neither of them has anything to write with, and Kairda's sense of direction has never been particularly good. Eventually she reports back what she thinks is a set of directions to the city, laced with several disclaimers. The purple, who informs them that her name is Tezvea, thinks that it'll be about half a day of walking for young people like them. If they start now, they might make it back before nightfall, but there's a rather good chance they won't. Given that they must have been walking almost since dawn to reach her out here, she suggests that they spend the night.

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This seems reasonable to him. They haven't actually been walking since dawn, but he also doesn't live in a society where he's used to spending an entire day walking. City inns are also presumably going to want money, which will probably be harder to acquire after dark, and it's not like he can transfer them some electronic rieni from his bank account.

Admittedly, that might be an issue with Tezvea as well. "Is she going to want some form of payment?" he asks. If they're performing exchange for in-kind goods, it wouldn't even technically be out of caste for him to help out with the farm, though he doubts that he would be any good at it and Medieval Voa might have had different laws. He wishes he remembered his classes on the history and evolution of caste labor laws better.

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There's more talking he can't understand, and then Zada makes a face. "Kairda says no, not if it's for one night. Farmer lady says she thinks her family would really enjoy hearing about our travels and what we're doing in the area. Kairda can't tell how strong of a suggestion that's supposed to be, but from her half of the conversation I'm pretty sure she's already agreed. Obviously we haven't actually done anything, but if you're cool being a foreign scientist then we can probably patch together some kind of backstory for you."

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"I think I could pull that off, yes." He bites his lip. "I'm a foreign scientist, from -- Anitam might be too close -- from somewhere, and I'm working on research that is very important but difficult to convey through translation, but I'm happy to talk about other topics. I could probably talk convincingly about my country's culture, modern inventions excepted, and that will save us the risk of accidentally describing an allegedly new invention that's actually been around for fifty years. I've come to Voa to spread my research findings, which I believe will help the people here. Does that seem at least reasonably plausible?"

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"Seems plausible to me. And you have two purples with you who're clearly from elsewhere in Voa and kind of sucky on the translation front because...?"

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"I'm researching some sort of technology that will make it easier for you to do your jobs, which are not farming-related because they'll be more likely to see through farming-related lies, such as new types of metal to help with your --" he pauses "-- the job where you form metal into shapes. You're accompanying me because I want some purple people to help explain how my advancements would actually be beneficial, and you've previously consulted on your jobs to assist me with my research. I had a translator, but unfortunately I had to leave them behind because they were injured."

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"That is so excessively dramatic," sighs Zada, before getting input from Kairda. "Kairda says she's not gonna lie about being a blacksmith because they might want her to do blacksmith things, and then the lie'll be obvious. She suggests pesticide research, she was in pest control for like a year. Also says written translation was always yellow but that it was common during some eras for spoken translation to be bundled under other kinds of hospitality service, and it'd be plausible that we were much more competent translators in a different region of the country. Lots of regional dialectical differences, I guess, which is why the farmer doesn't think it's that weird that our Voan is so completely different from hers."

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He nods. "I can pretend to research and know information about pesticides. It would probably be good for me to pretend to focus on the type of insects that don't eat crops, since I don't actually research pesticides and they might want to know how to stop their crops from being eaten. I don't actually have any samples of pesticides with me, but I suppose I could say that I fell in a river and they all washed away, leaving me with the memory of how to make them, and nothing else."

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"Or you, like, sold them," suggests Zada, biting back a second comment about excessive drama. "We don't actually know if there are any rivers around here."

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"It seems implausible that I would sell off my only samples of the technology I want to teach people about, and I do not, in fact, have any money, though admittedly I could have spent it." He sighs. "It's probably not going to come up anyways."

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"Fair," she says, and then relays the highlights of this exchange to Kairda.

 

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Tezvea seems happy to have the chance to entertain visitors, and cheerfully discusses her family with Kairda as she finishes cooking the meal. It isn't much longer before several people wander in looking for lunch. There are twelve people in the group, all purple and all apparently back from work in the fields, but only three of them appear to be adults. The others are children between the ages of two and four. The children immediately have lots of questions, mostly regarding Simurika; random purple visitors are apparently much less exciting. For a while there's really too much talking to pick out what any one person is saying.

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He says things in Jakavi that he doesn't expect them to understand. He lets a three-year-old attempt to braid his hair. He waits for things to settle down so Zada can relay messages to him.

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The children have lots of questions, which Zada is able to relay with some difficulty. They're bad at taking turns. They want to know where he's from and what he's doing here, how he ended up so far away from the city, how many languages he speaks, how many countries he's been to, what those countries were like, whether he's ever been to Voa before, what he thinks of Voa, how long he's planning to stay in Voa for, and whether the dog outside is his. 

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He relays answers through Zada.

He is from a faraway country. He is a scientist, come to share his scientific advancements with the rest of the world. He wasn't trying to end up so far away from the city, but when he left the previous city they were in they must have taken a wrong turn, and now they're lost. He speaks three languages but two of them are very very similar. (He privately thinks that calling Jakavi and Elesean separate languages is ridiculous, but there isn't much he can do about that classification.) He's been to five countries (the Islands of Jakav and Eleseo, the Republic of Jakav, Olyan, Orvara, and Voa), not counting countries that he passed through while on the train to Orvara; not knowing how many of them even exist yet, he relays this simply as "five countries." All of the countries that he's been to are very nice. The one he's from has the best food. This is the first time he's been to Voa. Everyone in Voa is very nice. He is going to stay in Voa at least until he's taught other people in Voa the scientific information he wants to convey. (He does not add that if he finds a portal back to his century he is going to take it.) The dog outside is not his, but it belongs to the people he's travelling with.

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The children discuss these answers among themselves; Kairda can't follow what they're all saying. Eventually Tezvea reminds them that they still have a lot of work to get done, and the children tromp out of the house a few at a time.

They must be tired after doing so much traveling recently. Tezvea shows her guests a bedroom (not a spare one, judging from the way the bed is rumpled) and tells them to be sure to ask if they need anything. It'll be another five hours or so before dinner.

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