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Oct 31, 2020 6:24 AM
an exploratory vessel is stranded in a dreadfully prismatic bit of space
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“I’m unshakably immune to mind affecting magic, Sira.”

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“Yes, which is why I concluded you weren’t compromised when you started talking, physical puppetry could make you speak but it couldn’t imitate your intonation- in any case! This is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened and I have so many questions! How do you only have an ‘assortment’ of colony planets if it’s been several thousand years- did you just start out with very small populations, or do you have a very low birthrate, or can you not do resurrections, or is your magic system or reproductive system somehow distinct such that those questions don’t make sense, to start with?”

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"Those are good questions, and the answer is that it really all varies. Resurrection is usually very rare and expensive, and unless you're very good at the related spells it doesn't work well - in all but the most magical worlds only a fortieth of a percent of people can do a true resurrection, and they can usually only bring back a few people a day, for high prices. Generally longer lived species have lower birthrates, too, and birthrates in most species tend to fall as things get crowded. Many gods also won't return people who have died of old age, which is a major roadblock for now."

"There's also a - sort of linguistic issue I think we're running into? If a planet puts people on other bodies in their system, and keeps the same government or at least the same slot in the Council, the extra planets aren't referred to as colonies. Starting new governments is rare, because Council policies heavily weigh votes in favor of united entities, so splinter factions will often remain as confederacies at a minimum. I'll admit I'm not a politics specialist, though."

"The way our portal-magic filters also tends to select for already inhabited worlds. Worlds that could be inhabited but aren't are rarely found, and are one of the things our ship was designed to seek out."

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“That partially resolves my confusion,” she says, in a tone of satisfaction, after pausing. “Our people do not die of old age, and our ‘portal system’, as you could call it- though the milky ways are a natural phenomenon, and a transient one, as it sounds like your portals aren’t- exclusively selects for uninhabited worlds. People who are capable of resurrections- noble mages, at the very least- are one in a million, but one noble mage could resurrect six thousand people in a day, with a sufficient supply of fatigue and virgin sacrifices. Our birthrates do fall, over time, but to a minimum of about one egg a year per seventy-two people; it- sounds like your populations might actually be fairly stable? Which is fascinating, we have to constantly expand- but what do gods have to do with resurrecting people?” 

 

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He shivers.

”That sounds- incredibly horrifying- horses and chickens and dogs wear out over time, if you can’t get a royal mage to make them refrain from such, but having that happen to people- it seems like the Carnelian Painter is having a grand time of it-“

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“No shit,” Sasha agrees, before pulling Kadlawen closer and absently patting him, in the demeanor of someone well accustomed to repositioning other people however they please.

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“We can fix it,” Rakaskem says, turning so as to address non-Isekura persons.

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"If your resurrections can generalized that'd be appreciated by a lot of people, yeah. Especially where I'm from, Veshir, has... A rocky relationship with the concept of deities. In most places, deities control the afterlife, and choose who's allowed in. Or out. Veshir's figured out an us-crafted afterlife, but we don't have mass resurrection and our current afterlife is literally having your soul trapped unconscious in a gemstone."

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"My parent was investigating immortality solutions, as well. I still have some of zir notes, I could probably sit down with a biologist from your world and figure out how your immortality would apply to at the very least the moha', my people. We usually have two or three children per two people choosing to reproduce, over those two's lifetime, but the moha' are one of the much slower growing peoples."

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“I see,” Kelsiran says, noticing that everyone else is being relatively sober and deciding to imitate them: it looks simultaneously awkward and menacing, like a giant spider attempt to tap dance. She coughs, and continues in a deeper, less enthusiastic voice: “Our deities decide which individuals gets which familiars, and our afterlives are generally decided off of that, but they don’t have any particular authority on whether someone can be resurrected, except insofar as people listen to them by default.”

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“I could go ahead and try a spell for it right away,” Rakaskem says to Kunali. “If you’d like. We don’t need fine detail so long as we know the general gist of what we want, unless we decide to split spells up into more specific pieces; it sounds like your system is different. It doesn’t seem like preventing you from aging would be much harder than keeping a horse from it, or someone’s pet frog, and I’ve done those before, but I understand if you want to be cautious.”

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"This is great and all, but can you go back to the 'fatigue and virgin sacrifices' thing?" says Ateshai, who's the least Nerd in the group and apparently the only one paying attention to non-nerd moments. "Our magic doesn't work like that. Resurrection takes diamonds and spell slots, not sacrifices."

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Kadlawen likes the sort of person who’d ask that question.

”Um. So in order to do our magic decently, you need six things: a wand, a ring, a staff, a sigil, an incantation, and a bit of mana? And everyone has thirty-six bits of mana, and they recharge six of them at dawn and dusk and gloom and bloom and midday and midnight? And mana that’s closer to the- surface, I suppose- is precisely as large as it needs to be for you to cast, but past that it’s a little smaller, and it compensates by stealing off energy, or blood, or in the later stages limbs. And you can sort of- artificially graft those same sorts of things onto already full-sized bits of mana? And the two types of sacrifices that you can graft on are of virginities, which are, um, self explanatory, and of lives, which are also self-explanatory, and if you can stack both together you can do even stronger spells. And I mostly fulfill our sacrifice needs, because I have a royal unicorn familiar and everything, and, um, yeah.”

Reds, evidently, turn pink when they blush; it’s an interesting sort of look.

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"How do familiars work? Some wizards have them at home, and some druids have animal companions, but they're not - something everyone has? Or something that having gives you a big boost."

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“Um, I’ve never had to explain this even slightly- most people absorb it even by the time they’ve hatched- but there are an honestly dreadful number of gods, and if one of them likes you when you’re just a few-days old, they send you a familiar? And if nobody at all likes you you get a griffin, and if one god likes you particularly you get a common or greater or noble or royal familiar, in ascending order, and if a bunch of gods start throwing lightning bolts over the prospect of not getting you, and none of them are willing to settle things by claiming you with a higher tier familiar, you get a higher tier griffin. And different familiars give you different blessings with different- themes- and higher tier familiars give you stronger tricks- a lesser unicorn mage might be able to purify water, say, and then a greater unicorn mage might be able to cure arbitrary illnesses and then also have a bunch of little powers like that, and then royal unicorn mages all get my package of virginity-renewal and self-ressurection and mental-Immunity and so forth. 

People... also sometimes get extra familiars, later. Sorcerers. They don’t get any better at thaumaturgy- that’s all the fiddling about with wands and staves and such- but they get two more familiars, of the same power as their first. It happens when you do something particularly… interesting, that a god admires, or if you make one upset enough that they want to be able to visit you and hold you in their afterlife. I’m one. I… don’t particularly want to talk about the surrounding circumstance.”

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"Huh. That's not how we get familiars, they're - personal bonds you make directly with the animal."

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"It'd be interesting to someday see if getting a familiar from this world would enable someone from outside to use your type of magic."

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”I would expect it,” says Sira. “Given that the just hatched and un-familiar-ed, however adorable, cannot use any sort of thaumaturgy, even if they later go on to be exquisitely tiny royal mages capable of rearranging stuffed animals and building toy towers with a wave of their hand. I would also not be very surprised if you spontaneously found yourself being nuzzled by flying deer and mushroom birds within the next few days, with powers to match, the general logic being that it isn’t a species or age-related event so much as a matter of coming to the gods attention.”

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She abruptly changes her expression and demeanor, having evidently decided that the room has lightened up a bit.

”That aside! Kunali, dear, I like you already, let’s go to a corner so we can avoid bothering everybody and so we can pester each other with questions, we can fill everyone else in later; now, pray tell, what are ‘spell slots’, what benefits do you get from your familiars, how long does it take most species to reach adulthood and die of old age- I have a watch, we can figure out how long your years are...”

And so on, and so forth.

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Ze knows the answers to most of her questions, fortunately, being more of a biologist than a druid and more of a generalized nerd than anything. (Ze pulls Malir in for the wizardry and non-bio-technology focused questions.)

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Ze smiles at zir team, then turns to the others, and says, "While they're running down the differences list, we do have more people on our ship - our crew complement is only twenty, and we can stay on the ship, but I suspect a lot of people will prefer to stretch their legs. I'm authorized to make arrangements on the Captain's behalf, or you can talk to her directly."

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Sasha gestures broadly in the direction of, well, everywhere.

”This is my kickass palace, and I’m in charge of the rest of this country; Ms. Magenta K. Nerd over there mostly runs her place underground, Kadlawen doesn’t have a country, Rakaskem ‘rules’ like seven hundred mini-countries, Dato should not be within a hundred fucking miles of aliens, Tasha has no chill, and Ariz would have panic attacks about your color scheme, so you’re stuck with me. Don’t fuck with me or anyone who doesn’t fuck with you first, and you can tourist it up; I’ll make Kadlawen send out a memo.”

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“Three hundred and fifty-six,” Rakaskem corrects.

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“And I’ll go whip up that memo!” Kadlawen chirps. “Does anyone want a tour, which we’re at it?”

He seems to be mostly looking at Ateshai. Perhaps they have something on their shirt. 

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"I can do a tour. Do you mind Runla tagging along?" he asks, gesturing to the wolf.

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