Dec 13, 2018 12:32 PM
tarinda uplifts avatar
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"To live is to think. But this, if it is indeed as you say, is lock without door or key. It has no purpose and therefore I need it not."

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"The devices haven't been invented yet, but they will be. I hope to do it myself, but if I can't, I want to make sure that this code survives somewhere in the world, so that when there are computers which can run it, there is still some small chance that will ever happen. Is this the wrong place to put some precious information that needs to survive for hundreds or thousands of years?"

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"I am He Who Knows Ten Thousand Things, and this is my library. There is no place here for a thing I cannot know, and I cannot know this. It has no context and therefore no meaning."

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"Would you like me to teach you about computers?"

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"A foolish question. If you wish to offer that knowledge in tribute, then do so."

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So she starts explaining computers.

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He finds them quite fascinating.

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She can go on like this for a while. Page is helping. She doesn't mention Page in case Wan Shi Tong wants to grab it out of her head and try to archive it.

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"So this... book is a recipe, or a series of instructions rather than a cipher in the traditional sense."

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"Yes, exactly."

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"Hmmm." The owl contemplates the code. "No. Unless it is accompanied by the algorithm with which one is to decrypt it, I cannot take this."

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"It does have instructions that I think would be good enough for any interested person with any computer they knew how to use."

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"Hm?" Flip flip flip. "Ah, I see. Then yes, I will accept this." The book vanishes out of his wings.

"You are free to ex-" Wan Shi Tong freezes suddenly. Shakes his head as though trying to dislodge an insect buzzing in his ear.

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"- Wan Shi Tong?"

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"You-"

"What is-"

"Have you-"

He starts shaking uncontrollably. The library groans ominously.

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Tarinda looks for sturdy things she could hide under if it collapses, edges towards the stairs in case those stay usable.

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"IT IS IN MY HEAD! I CANNOT-"

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"- I didn't know! I just - I just wanted the text to be -"

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He shrieks, in pain or fear or anger. The shaking intensifies and bits of the ceiling start flaking down, followed by streams of sand.

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Tarinda runs for the stairs.

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The ceiling starts caving in for real. A rising tide of dust and sand and debris pursues her as she runs up.

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She's fast, and she needs to be to get out. Up she goes, up up up, please be okay camelephant -

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The spot of daylight is just ahead and the sand is nipping her heels but she's there she's out-

And then the tremors stop.

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She doesn't trust that, spirits are weird. She keeps running to the camelephant.

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The camelephant seems entirely unaffected by the subterranean collapse. As does the landscape, actually.

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