Jan 22, 2019 11:44 AM
making it big time in the big city
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They have two hour shifts, with one at lunchtime (in the second and third hour of the third mark), and three at dinnertime (running in total from the third hour of the fourth mark to the end of the fifth mark), and don't offer shifts outside of that. They don't let waitstaff take all four shifts in a day, instead limiting them to three at most - generally the lunch-shift people are an entirely different set from the dinner-shift people.

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Mm, the lunchtime one would conflict with his schedule at Hidden Garden, and he mostly only came over anyways on the odd chance that they’d be remarkably appealing in some way... he’ll pass.

He goes and acquires a relatively cheap lunch, and decides to kill the four, five hours until the painter’s available by flying over the city as an unremarkable bird. He switches forms- it feels easier than breathing- and starts flying around, admiring the cityscape.

He isn’t deliberately eavesdropping on people’s conversations, but this particular sort of bird has fairly excellent hearing. He catches snippets.

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Most of the conversations are entirely innocuous - a group of adolescents discussing history lessons about the Order of the Black Rose and their war against the gods, someone complaining about scheduling night classes around work, a whole bunch of people navigating bumping into each other - one maybe-girl with her nose in a book causes a lot of "hey watch it!", arguments about the latest play or dys-back novel or manners manual, a party whose music spills out into the air, people selling street food or newspapers or assorted tourist knick-knacks, excited talk about the Worlds Race that's being planned - a second one! With more cars this time! And more worlds have installed roads, opening the track even more, and they said some company out of Amsed invested in recording-orbs specifically designed for races so maybe some places will have footage...

There's a few whispers, too - some girls in carefully fancy dresses planning a raid, someone complaining about being hit by Diamond Divea's gang, some adolescents tittering over a scandal involving a maid who was actually a criminal spy...

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... he eavesdrops more intently on the girls in carefully fancy dresses. Maybe they’re part of some sort of weird alien LARP...?

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They seem to be more referencing a plan to all burst into a store that hasn't been paying protection fees and steal everything in sight, actually.

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That... isn’t... okay? 

 

He considers reporting them to the authorities. He discards the idea- no real evidence but his say so. What are his resources, here... 

Nobles can’t, quite, manage the flashiness achievable by royal mages. ‘Not flashy’ doesn’t mean ‘impotent’. Thaumaturgy is bad at making actively magical effects stick to people, and to animals, but it can flip mundane binaries pretty trivially- broken to mended, not-a-rabbit to a rabbit, incapable to fluent. 

He lands, in a place where he isn’t about to be noticed- the hustle and bustle help- and flicks out a staff and a wand, and mutters, and gestures.

He flips a binary.

It isn’t an important one. It’s the mystic equivalent of making a bit of spiritual junk DNA spell out a sonnet, really- shouldn’t affect the slightest thing, shouldn’t be the slightest bit noticeable unless another Ruwien happens by and scans them for irregularities.

Thaumaturgy is atrocious at scrying. Thaumaturgy is much less atrocious at scrying when it has a unique identifier to work off of.

 

He turns back into a bird. He checks the time, and notices that the painter ought to be available, now. He flies.

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The painter is indeed available - she's an older Veshiri elf, dressed currently in a smock heavily stained with paint, with her hair twisted into a messy bun behind her. She peers through narrow glasses at Shaitiren, says, "Hm, you'll do, come in, boy."

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“I prefer ‘Aiti’ over ‘boy’, and I’ll be glad to get out of the heat,” he says, making a vague gesture at the extent to which he’s currently overdressed- not too terribly, but enough to be less than perfectly comfortable- and obligingly entering the great indoors.

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The room is incredibly cluttered, paintings on every wall, several more leaning against it, stacked five deep in some places. Most of the shelves have pieces of pottery, or wooden carvings, or painted figurines. More than a few have books, many of them looking hand bound, overflowing with little notes stuck in them. There's a large cleared space in the middle, and large empty frames with a soft shimmer in them.

Many of the paintings show a tremendous variety of aliens, more than he's seen in the streets, or else alien landscapes, or animals, or plants, or other objects.

"Aiti, then. The screens let me show scenes I've recorded," the woman says, nodding to the frames. "But painting in natural surroundings is better. You have any experience as a model?"

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Shaitiren privately wonders if she’s ever randomly assailed a mailman and forced him to sit for portraiture.

“No.”

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"I'll want to see how well you follow directions, then, but I do pay. Ten vigs an hour, a minimum of two and a half hours a session, and I'll pay overtime if you can sit longer. The longest sessions I'm interested in are ten hours, for which total pay would be one hundred and thirty seven and a half vigs." She seems to be paying more attention to her studio than him, tapping her finger against her lip. "I'll want to schedule sitting times - not now, too much a chance of being interrupted, and the light's wrong."

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“I have no objections forthcoming in response to any of that,” he says, unobjectionably. “I assume that doesn’t mean mean that you don’t want to discuss scheduling times right now- that sentence translated ambiguously. When would work best for you? Or do you have a piece of paper for me to circle times on, or something.”

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"Scheduling now is fine. A session now is not. The weekend is best for me. This coming one is booked. The next is not. I am available any time of day or night, except this current hour, or the last and first hour of the night. The first session will be determining what I shall paint."

(It's currently the sixth day of the apparently standard Veshiri ten day week, there being two weeks in a month, and weekends straddling the tenth and first days.)

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“That’s fine. So, some time next weekend, to start- any time in particular that would work well? And could you explain more about- basic expectation style stuff, so there aren’t any misunderstandings-”

 

They work out a reasonable time slot for the first session and the details of it, bid adieu, and Shaitiren flies off.

He finds an out of the way bit of city rooftop- hard to see from the ground, easy to reach as a bird. He plucks up his staff and wand, and conducts appropriate minor instances of ritualism; a circle appears in the air, peering in on the current surroundings of Mysterious Probably-Gang-Connected Girl number one. He manages to squeeze in the communication of sound, although the tweak incidentally renders the scrying sepia.

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She's in a very well-appointed parlor, laughing with a few friends. They calm down a bit, then collapse into snickers, then another girl says, "Oh, the look on his face! I know we're not supposed to, but I couldn't resist slipping into a nearby cafe to watch when he came home. He started screaming, burst into the street, red-faced and spitting - I can see why we got so much help, he's a horrid man."

"But you haven't," says his scrying target, "You certainly haven't taken what was nailed down."

The girl sighs. "Alas, I'm no Divea! I considered returning, truly I did, but they've learned to watch for that by now. And some of those cabinets were quite lovely..."

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He’d heard people complaining about ‘Diamond Divea’s’ gang, earlier...

He continues watching.

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More snickering, and a bit more laughing at past victims' misfortunes, then the girl he's targeting says, lightly, "I wonder if our lovely target will scream and shout like that when the shelves are all bare and we're nowhere to be seen?"

Another girl sighs. "Oh, one could only hope. It's terribly amusing."

They talk a bit more about the raid - but never once mention a location, name, or even gender, and soon enough the conversation drifts on.

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How frustratingly competent of them, assuming it isn’t accidental. He closes the scry-

(- and feels the same sort of competitive drive that led him to leave his crapsacharine little world, a cold little tendril wrapping around his every fiber, spelling out ‘if you try to fuck with me, you will lose’- and they weren’t, really, fucking with him, but they were fucking with this city, and that seemed similar enough to provoke the same reaction-)

He considers his resources.

 

Mind reading is incredibly unethical. But careful, targeted mind reading could be used to answer careful, targeted questions- ‘what’s your full name’ and ‘where are you planning on hitting next’ and ‘what do you know about your boss’, say- without being nearly as generally invasive. It’d be the simplest option, but...

He doesn’t have the oomph for careful, targeted mind reading, or the imprecise kind, even with the dramatic range boost from the spirit markers- at least if he doesn’t want the intrusion to be obvious. He could acquire that oomph, easily enough, by sacrifice, but he doesn’t want to use the most readily available form of sacrifice.

He sighs. He acquires dinner, as a bird- for the novelty, if nothing else- and flies back to the hostel.

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There's bugs and seeds and assorted other bird food in the city, but there's also at least one vendor (alien, feathered bright blue with ultraviolet patterns) selling food meant specifically for birds, bird-people, and people with bird-like diets.

The hostel is a bit quieter than normal when he gets back, but not entirely unusually so.

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Good for the hostel.

He reads some of a densely written history novel, which he’d packed in advance. He goes to sleep as an incredibly-comfortable kitten. 

 

He starts his first shift at the artsy cafe, the next day.

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He's met at the employee entrance by a local elf, approximately female shaped, her long black hair pulled into a low ponytail, who says, and signs, "I'll be the one getting you oriented. Come on in, I'll explain the hand signals we use in the lounge, see if you're getting them, then your shift can start, alright?"

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“Sure! I’m Aiti- what should I call you?”

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"Binamir, or just Bina." And she leads the way to the employee lounge.

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And then, surprising no one, he is in the emoloyee’s lounge.

”So, the hand signals...?”

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She'll demonstrate them, and explain - luckily the basic server ones are simple, and distinct from each other. There's modifications for unusual limbs, she mentions, which mostly isn't relevant but one of their servers has tentacles, she'll have zem show him zir version if the two of them're ever on shift at the same time.

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