Sep 16, 2019 4:30 AM
Margaret in Medallion
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(That sounds really hard! What is her story about? people wonder.)

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The only thing she's really settled on is that it's a fantasy world where people do magic by chanting in exhaustive detail about what they want to happen while making magic gestures. She keeps changing everything else. The goal is really more to write lots of French than to write a story anybody would want to read.

She tries adding memory to her artifact, making it store the user's current latitude and longitude under a keyword without needing a new spell to store each one. This may require upsizing her diagram some more.

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This step fails a bunch, but eventually she adds a bunch of nested clauses about how to handle attempts to reuse a keyword and gets it to work, albeit with a lot of very short pauses between sections so she can inhale. She eventually does end up upsizing the diagram, to the point where it takes up half the garage. Since she's already doing the work, she changes it to end up with some of the "sound" meaning and tries changing the graceful failure mode for an unsafe teleport from "nothing" to "quiet ringing noise".

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That works fine.

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Huzzah! Now she can tell the difference between "I messed up my incantation" and "I did the incantation fine but tried to teleport somewhere I shouldn't have." The teleport artifact she's making for Bella has no such feature, since she won't have to worry about spell failures and can interpret "nothing" as "unsafe port".

As the days turn into weeks and Bella hasn't been caught, she gets a bit less nervous, but only a bit. She keeps checking the human and critter news for anything that sounds like it might be related.

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There are op-eds in the Avalon's paper about experimenting on people but no updates on the facts of the case.

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No news is good news. The op-eds are not school, her parents, news about Bella, or runecasting; like everything else not in one of those four categories, they are summarily ignored. It's enough of a struggle not ignoring her homework or the latest orders for rings of invisibility.

(Her parents ask how her projects are going and whether that other girl she was collaborating with, what was her name, has good ideas. Margaret answers, "Who? Oh, she stopped answering my emails ages ago. Probably busy with her own stuff.")

Eventually she has two small pendants of teleportation, with the ability to store, rename, and delete locations. They are also both magically durable, because why not. She adds the ability to store "where I am now" without needing to read off one's own coordinates, and fills up hers with slightly different locations in her garage to make sure it can hold the twenty she was aiming for.

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Now she just needs to deliver the thing. She doesn't know Bella's mailing address or much confidence that she's even staying in one place, but she also knows better than to teleport in on someone who could be in the middle of something. That means she needs two things: latitude and longitude, and the ability to scry a destination in advance.

For coordinates, she can use the same diagram she used to get the diagrams from enchanted items, and the first-draft incantation is, "Write on this paper in twelve-point font the latitude and longitude and height above sea level in feet of Anne Peregrine, to the nearest tenth of an arc-second, in the format degrees latitude comma minutes latitude comma seconds latitude direction new line degrees longitude comma minutes longitude comma seconds longitude direction new line height".

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This does not work.

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Potential points of failure: the magic doesn't know who Anne Peregrine is, it doesn't know what she means by comma and new line, height above sea level is too complicated and weird as a concept, and of course the ever-present "other". She tries the incantation that successfully got her "cupcakes" earlier, but this time she asks for "cupcakes comma piano".

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It writes "cupcakes comma piano".

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You know what? Fair. Also, clearly not the main problem.

Her next incantation is optimized, for the moment, for not taking so long to say. "Write on this paper in twelve-point font, the latitude of the person touching the diagram, to the nearest tenth of an arc-second, in the format 'degrees, minutes, seconds, direction,' in numerals except for the direction, with the direction written as a single capital letter."

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That doesn't work either.

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Maybe it's confused that she isn't a point mass, even though that didn't get in the way of the teleporting. "Write on this paper in twelve-point font, the latitude of the person touching the diagram, to the degree, in numerals except for the direction, with the direction written as a single capital letter."

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Nope.

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Grr. She fidgets with the paper she's been trying to write on,  then puts it back on the diagram. "Write on this paper in twelve-point font the latitude in degrees of the person touching the diagram, to the nearest degree."

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47º

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Wow, apparently the magic was really opinionated about the degree symbol. Which admittedly isn't a numeral. Now how to extend it to greater precision? Revise, revise, "Write on this paper in twelve-point font the latitude in degrees, minutes, and seconds of the person touching the diagram, to the nearest tenth of a second."

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47° 36' 28.8''

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Pretty cool how it's getting the formatting so nice without her having to specify every little thing. Does it do "latitude and longitude" as well as it does just latitude?

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It can do that too!

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Great! Now how about "Write on this paper in twelve-point font the latitude and longitude in degrees, minutes, and seconds of Jonathan Peregrine, to the nearest tenth of a second." She should probably not use her mom for this, since her mom is also a dragon and for all she knows doing magic about dragons is as weird as doing magic while being a dragon.

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Doesn't work.

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Maybe there's another Jonathan Peregrine out there somewhere. "Jonathan Peregrine, son of Timothy and Gladys Peregrine"?

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Doesn't work either.

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