Jun 24, 2021 6:08 PM
a vampire Nick in the Hari Empire
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"You walked out of a building without walking into it."

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"Oh, you're an information mage are you? Or were you just watching that building all day? At any rate, maybe you will believe me. I'm from another world, a space not contiguous with any space one can reach from here, and I arrived via a mysterious magical bar called Milliways."

 

(A defense against information mages is now called for. Apparently his pre-existing sneakiness is not enough.)

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And this is what beluli look like when they're confused and skeptical. "A ring if you'll tell me how to get to Milliways?"

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"You wait for a door to lead to Milliways instead of where it's supposed to. The door doesn't like most people. I wouldn't hold your breath."

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The belul pays him his ring.

"If you could use a local to ask some questions of..."

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"I'll keep you in mind. I actually do have a bunch of questions, mostly about various sorts of magic. I have to figure out what my otherworldly knowledge and magic might be useful for, since I'm not any kind of mage, after all. Most pressingly, a ring if you can point me to an illusion mage that can make an item that can hide me from knowledge magic."

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The belul makes an unusual sound. "...Oh, because you're a thirteenth kind, not one of the twelve... that's a funny way to put it, makes you sound like an animal. Haria can make an item like that, he goes for walks in the woods this time of day, you might be able to find him but you'll probably have better luck waiting to catch him coming back."

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Hmm. "I can't do magic myself, actually. It's more like I am magic. Though I've got a stock of tools from proper witches." He uses a loanword, there.

He flips a ring into the air towards the belul. "My name's Nikolas, what's yours?"

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Yeah that's probably confusing and paradoxical on purpose to make him want to buy a better explanation. He considers it but in the end he doesn't.

"I'm Hanu."

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"Nice meeting you. I'll answer a couple questions free if you like, I'm feeling uncommonly generous today as I am now beyond the reach of some old enemies."

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What enemies and how sure is he that he's beyond their reach, are the obvious questions to ask but he said a couple and that's probably a distraction to get Hanu to use up his couple of free questions. Hanu is not fooled! Hanu is very careful with his questions.

"What's the thing you know and I don't that it would be most useful to me to know?"

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"Good question! I don't know enough about what you know and what you want to know and what you'd find useful to know to know for sure, you know? But I'll guess unless you want to change your question now."

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"I'd find it useful to know if anything was going to affect my safety or my ability to earn a living. Your guess will probably be good."

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"Hmm. I intend to invent some things we have back home at some point that might affect your ability to earn a living - depending on what exactly it is, I'm still only mostly sure you're an information mage - but new inventions shake things up but leave everyone better off eventually back home, I've found."

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"Is there any way I should change my behavior now to prepare for what you're going to do?"

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"Not that I can think of right away, to be honest. Maybe get in on the ground floor investing when I have something worthwhile, but I would say that, wouldn't I?"

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Aha! Hanu feels very clever right now. He totally called it. This is all part of a scheme to make money!

"Thank you."

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Heh. Of course it is, in the background, anyway. It's also just - fun, relieving, to be able to chat about magic without fearing consequences.

"Have a nice day. Computers are going to be fun and profitable if I can get them working here. I advise you look forward to it."

Away he goes. He wanders for a while longer, listening and learning.

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A belul is asking when some imported southern fruits will be back in stock fresh. They're available frozen but there's been some kind of problem with the contract with a defense mage to preserve fresh fruit the last leg of the trip north. If she'll pay in advance for fresh fruit sold as-is with no guarantee it won't have suffered in transit...

She won't. She buys some honey instead and sulks all the way home.

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So fridges are out, not that he didn't already sort of expect that.

Illusion and information make telegraphs less attractive. Maybe radio. Maybe RADAR, to ease the burden on knowledge mages for air traffic control?

It'll probably have to be computers, though. Annoying. He doesn't know that much about electrolithography and semiconductor patterning, though he's sure he could figure some things out.

...Hmm. He'll have to figure out if knowledge mages can casually stomp all over encrpytion. Selling Nazi-style ENIGMA machines to a weird amoral society would be vaguely ironic. Or something.

More wandering and listening and looking thoughtful.

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No one is conveniently making small-talk about how knowledge magic interacts with encryption.

It's pretty quiet. Hanu and people who overheard their conversation glance at Nikolas sometimes, usually carefully giving themselves plausible deniability about it.

There don't seem to be any caralendri or essi around.

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...Perhaps he'd better get started on computing sooner than later. He has a little solar powered tablet with lots of tech books to read on it, but he knows where he needs to start.

He finds a smith and it turns out gold is about as cheap as copper here and easier to work with so he buys some gold and asks if the local smith can make extremely pure element fourteen, or if he'll need a structure mage for that.

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Needs a sun mage, he can recommend one.

Turns out silicon is worth its weight in gold.

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It's not monocrystal silicon with a thin coating of silicon dioxide, though. Structure mage?

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The most easily available structure mage turns out to be that belul who was haggling over the price of blood earlier and is now being drunk from.

If Nikolas can describe the chemical structure he's looking for precisely enough he can have his silicon in that structure.

"A ring to know what you want it for?"

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