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Nov 17, 2019 1:51 AM
A new Val and Mica meet the happiest Maki and Valan
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Technical vocabulary is so much harder to get than conversational vocabulary and he still doesn’t know any party tricks. He pulls out his notebook again and points at the formula.

“This is a more simple version of what this demon is made of.”

No, actually, says the demon. I’m not made from anything as boring as that. Learn some magic, will you?

He ignores it. “They’re made of...I don’t know the word, magic, written as math.”

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"...I see. And why do you think this is not the same thing as an artifact?"

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“Do artifacts talk? Can they take you places that are not in your—“ he gestures, trying to indicate the whole world.

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"Would you know if 'god' is the word you're looking for?"

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"They built tall cities and made the artifacts we find in the ruins. And then they left, maybe to go back to their home planet."

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“We make demons. I mean, I don’t, I don’t know how, but my people do.”

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"...That might be what artifacts are, but I don't know. So you came here with your demon. Are you stuck here?"

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“We can’t go back. Someone powerful there wants me dead. We could go somewhere else, though, I think.”

Correct. Although I’d appreciate it if we could keep it to one jump a day.

”It says we can go somewhere else. I don’t know how many options we have—“

I can handle up to a hundred and twenty-eight maps, the demon says.

He stops short and gapes.

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"That sounds like the sort of thing the gods could have used to leave. Could it - did you come from anywhere on this planet? Could you draw a map of the planet you came from?"

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“Hold on,” he says, and switches back to Ennish.

”I thought the maximum was four?”

Most demons can only handle four, yes.

“But you—fuck, no wonder they wanted to kill me, you’re...wow.”

I am a magnificent being. I told you that wasn’t the formula used to make me.

He taps his fingers on his leg for a few moments, thinking. “We’re not in any of the known universes, are we?”

We’re several maps up. As far as I know we’re the first from our universe to come here.

He goes back to the local language. “I’m definitely not from this planet. I can draw the planet I came from for you but it won’t be very good.” He makes a face. “Fuck, I dropped out of school to turn tricks, I’m not prepared for this,” he adds in muttered Ennish.

My word, I’m stuck with an uneducated rube.

”Shut up, you asshole.”

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"...That's extremely important but if you need to we can wait and ask you about all this after you've had a meal and decided where you'll sleep tonight."

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“Oh. Yes, yes please. Can someone still talk at me while I eat? I still don’t have as many words as I want.”

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"Vaayo, if you're not going to get on with leaving, stay here and talk to our guest."

The guy from earlier walks over to Micah. "Hi. What do you want to know the words for?"

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“I want to know all the words. Oh, if you know anything that wouldn’t be in normal conversation, that would help a lot.”

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"Okay. Do you need explanations or examples or will your demon just know what everything I say means?"

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“It’s surprisingly good at figuring things out! But examples would help a lot anyway.”

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Then he can get a monologue about all the foods he's offered and how to farm them and the three sort of voluntary sort of castes in the local society (people who make things, people who farm, people who work with people) and the local climate (desert) and the nearby town where they mine iron.

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Yesssss so many words.

So, if he stays here, what sort of options would he have for making a living? And who should he repay for feeding him today?

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...He was alone in the desert because someone was going to try to kill him, he can have a meal and somewhere to sleep tonight. But if he wants to pay them back it came out of a common fund. His ability to teleport to other planets might be useful, or maybe he knows some useful science. If it turns out he's just an ordinary person stuck here with no unusual abilities he could farm or he could move to the town to be a miner or a smith or something.

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...Why would they help him if they didn’t want something out of him?

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"...So, for one thing it's basic decency. For another thing it's - say you died of the heat instead of coming here, then we could never get anything from you. So if you don't want to believe we're decent people who wouldn't just abandon someone to the desert, then you can think of it as... the chance that we can ever get something from you is worth it? Us or people we trade with or people who trade with people we trade with... but honestly if people where you're from wouldn't give you one meal if you were alone in the desert they sound like they need to learn how to be decent people."

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Micah gets quiet and wraps his arms around himself.

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"Well, I'm sure Aelor has a lot of questions for you and she'll probably have some idea for how to put you to work once you've talked to her, how about that?"

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“Yeah...” But if they’re not telling him up-front what they want from him then it’s probably something awful. No one pretends to give things for free unless the price is too high for anyone to choose to pay. They—

They might have drugged his food. His head hurts. It’s the lack of sleep. It’s not the lack of sleep. He’s alone and they won’t tell him what they want and

And he needs to be outside now, needs to not be closed in, needs to breathe.

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