Dec 11, 2019 8:38 AM
Marena lands on Neuroi
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"Some big project's starting here. Something that could change the course of the war, but not for at least like a year. There's been a lot of those, to be honest?"

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"Yeah it sounds like every month or so, some bright spark says 'I have a thing that could help!' and maybe like one-in-ten actually does."

...it's the Jade, isn't it? Damnit.

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"Eh, throw enough cow pies at the wall and some will stick. That's where we got the telegraph. Messages faster than broomflight! And the printing press. Hmph, I still can't read, oughta fix that..."

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"I mean yeah, and one-in-ten ain't so bad, but still.

I'd offer to teach, but I have no clue how helpful I'd be. I'm not the greatest teacher, generally?"

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"I can find someone. Or just ask home office, and they'll set me up. They're all about helping witches 'better themselves', very moral-high-ground about it."

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"The kind who do it because it let's them feel better about themselves, I take it?

Word of advice: those people? Take full advantage of them. If they're going to be condescending, you may as well get something out of it."

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"I think it's more 'we want all the powerful magic people to like us and depend on us' flavored? There's a bit of a trap in it - you get used to living well, getting the favors and luxuries they can give you, and you don't wanna quit because you have no idea where to go next and it's really hard to get witchwork that doesn't go through the UDF now since they're spreading themselves over all the everything. Private couriers and even courier guilds are starting to lose out to the UDF's mail system, see?"

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"Ah yep, met that strategy before. It can still make sense to take advantage of it sometimes. Like, if it's something that in the long run makes you less dependent.  If you learned how to read from them, and you leave, it's not like the knowledge will go 'poof.' --But you've probably got a better idea of the risk and rewards here."

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"Maybe so. I talk the talk, but I'm not as smooth as I pretend to be, I think you've noticed?"

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"Basically no one is as smooth as they pretend to be. It's performance all the way down-- or maybe that's just me."

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"Some people are real - they don't perform, they don't feel worse off inside than they look outside. They're usually real boring, but they exist, I think."

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"I also kinda doubt those people could manage to be 'smooth.'"

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"You're probably right." She kicks off the wall smoothly, going from leaning to standing. "I'm scheduled for a little honest work in a bit, so I'd better go grab a snack and fill my canteen. See ya later?"

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"See ya!"

Now, time for some not-so-honest work. Was Rosts delivery in this city? If so, she heads over  to deliver it.

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Why, yes!

This time the guy looks incredibly sketchy and twitchy and nervous. He's waiting in a tiny alley off one of the parts of the city that hasn't seen construction yet.

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Well, twitchy and nervous isn't going to stop a business transaction, isn't it? (And if this stuff is illegal-- eh, a bit of nervousness isn't unreasonable.)

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After a shaky pass-phrase exchange, "-Christ, where does he find these people. Hello! You've got something for me. Let's see it, nice and easy like."

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"Eh, here talks to people. Here you go!" She hands it to him.

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"Ah. Good ears on ya. Uh, 'fore you go will ya let me have a peek real... Quick...?"

He is making what he thinks are subtle negative hand motions at someone behind her. They are decidedly not subtle.

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"Sure, feel free to check it?"

She looks behind her. "Is there a problem?"

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Two bruisers with clubs. They look confused.

"No! No problem, miss WITCH. My friends here mean no disrespect and will back off, right?"

They look more confused now.

"But you said-"

"Bup! That was then, this is now!"

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Oh, those poor sods. 

She turns back to the guy who she was delivering to, with sarcastic good cheer. "Oh, I didn't know you were also waiting on a club delivery! I guess it's just your luck day to receive mail today."

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"T- These are my friends. Chalmer and Geoff. I'm Richard. We- Look, this sort of thing is risky business, yeah? Things happen. If you don't have God-given magical powers you have to take precautions. 'Specially with some continental nobody who nobody in the local business knows. That makes sense, right?"

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"Precautions that have to be warned off?

Look, I'm happy to put this down as 'no harm no foul'. Unless you'd like me to tell Rost about this--?"

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"Aye. Nobody got hurt. Bit of a misunderstanding. And a shilling for yer cooperativeness. Mr. Rost is clearly far more of a respectable sort than I thought, after all. So's, we can call it egg on our faces and a lesson learned and everyone walks away?"

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