Dec 16, 2018 1:08 PM
tarinda uplifts avatar
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She'll go on foot, or maybe on a camel-related creature if she can snag a camel-related creature. She doesn't have a good counter for sandbenders surrounded by sand.

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There are camelephants available for hire. The desert traders also employ some sort of giant beetle to haul wagons, but they're unwilling to negotiate.

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Camelephant it is! Hi camelephant!

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The camelephant has one long trunk, two tusks, two humps, four stumpy legs, and a surly expression. It doesn't seem as enthused about the expedition as Tarinda does.

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Well, it doesn't have to be, long as it'll go where she tells it.

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That it will. Camelephants aren't as quick as ostrich-horses, but they have better stamina and need less water. The desert awaits!

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It's kind of fun, in a moment to moment tedious but really aesthetic way.

She goes looking for the library.

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There are lots of dunes in the desert. And at least theoretically, the library could be behind any of them. But for the first week, there's nothing behind the dunes but more dunes, except for one time there was an oasis and a group of sandbenders stopping for a rest.

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She waters herself and her camelephant. She listens to smart music, and sings along sometimes, and has Page drill her on the local language - she's still relying on it a lot for complex conversations - and on the ones from back home she doesn't want to forget. She keeps looking.

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On the thirteenth day, she sees a strange spire on the horizon to the northeast.

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Promising! She goes that-a-way.

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Upon closer inspection, the spire seems to be the pinnacle of a greater structure, buried beneath the sands. There's no way in at ground level, but it looks like there are open windows above, closer to the tip.

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Can she climb in through one?

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The facade is ornate enough that there are plenty of handholds and the windows are more than big enough to accommodate her.

There's a stairway down, leading into darkness.

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Welp. In for a penny.

She leaves the camelephant outside and descends.

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The stairwell is dark until she's gone down almost twice the externally-visible length of the spire, and then, abruptly, the walls flare out wide into the roof of a vast indoor space, brightly lit and packed with shelves, all filled to bursting with books.

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She's not actually sure if they have the "quiet in the library" norm in this world. Better safe than sorry. She neither shouts nor sneaks; she plants solid footsteps and hums a little, roaming the stacks.

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There is a feathery rustle, and a great owl stands in front of her, black wings tucked in and white face tilted curiously.

"Another seeker comes, and this one different from the last. I am Wan Shi Tong, far traveler, He Who Knows Ten Thousand Things. This is my library. For what knowing do you wish, and with what knowing shall you pay?"

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"I've actually come in the hopes of contributing a text!" she says.

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"Truly?" He hops closer. "Present it, then."

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She presents it! "I think it will probably be unlike anything you currently have."

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He takes the book in a wing and flips it open before him.

"Unlike indeed, for if a thing is to be included in my collection it must bear meaning. These... scribbles do not."

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"It does bear meaning, but it bears it only to a class of device which has yet to be invented in this world. If placed on a powerful enough such device, it can unfold into a thing which can think."

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"Hah!" The owl laughs. "A pretty tale you spin. You would have been better served by writing that. There is no cipher to contain a living mind."

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"It doesn't live, but it does think. I come from a world where things like this are common, and that is the most powerful one."

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