Oct 15, 2019 2:53 PM
Margaret in Neuroi World
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"This Friday! I'll make sure the relevant people know the plan for you, for now you just get to your next class, missy."

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And that Friday, there's someone new sitting in the dining hall at breakfast, by the rest of the teachers. She's wearing a very plain witches' uniform, none of the fancy frippery that the Important People who visit sometimes have.

Someone at the teachers' table points Margaretta out. The stranger comes up and asks, "Margaretta, correct? I am to be your teacher. After breakfast I think we will talk about your special and what you want to do with it, and then I'll come up with something to do next."

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Excited bouncing! "Hello, that's me! I'm looking forward to learning from you!" 

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"I have some hope it will be productive."

She goes back to her spot and eats. Afterward, she brings Margaretta to a small commandeered office. On the desk are full of a wide variety of small metal cylinders, which each feel subtly different from the others.

"I was told you can feel metal and understand some things about it. That's promising. I brought along some alloys to practice with. What else can you do?"

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"I can make it move, too! My fine control isn't very good yet but I've been practicing. Want to see?"

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"Fine control is one of the hardest things about magic, it's good that you're practicing. Yes. And do tell me how it feels - feelings are often a good guide to magic."

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Margaretta pulls one of the cylinders toward herself and then makes it scoot around the table in a figure eight, saying, "it feels like pushing mana through the metal, sort of like flying but not exactly. And this piece is one of the nicest feeling ones, sort of lighter and brighter?"

The cylinder has a higher center of gravity than the coins she's used to practicing with, so it tips over as she finishes the figure eight, and the change in angle while she's still pushing mana into it makes it shoot off to one side such that she has to grab it with her hand to keep it from flying off the table. "Ack! Sorry."

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"That is aluminum. It's very very rare. I don't think your power is quite magnetic, though that was my first impression. Iron and steel are magnetic but most other metals aren't particularly. You can do it even at range? Is it easier if you touch metal? Can you bend a metal thing, or break it? -Don't try it if you don't know."

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"I can do it at range but it's easier to move something I'm touching. I haven't tried bending or breaking things."

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"Bending and breaking metal can be useful for making things if you can do it just right. We'll try it later. I can heat metal up - hot metal is softer even before it actually melts. Hmm. What's the heaviest thing you've ever moved?"

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"One time one of my neighbors got his plough repaired and I moved it all the way from the smithy to his house. I haven't tried heating metal either."

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"That's pretty impressive for an eleven year old! I'm starting to think you might be good at helping out with heavy industry... Foundries and workshops that make metal goods, helping build ships, that kind of thing. If you can check some metal's quality just by being near it, and then lift it into place, you could save a couple dozen workers hours and hours."

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"That sounds amazing." She's seen pictures in some of the books by now, drawings of the workshop floors where vast machinery grinds along producing war materials. They look dangerous and crowded and like the best places in the world.

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"And maybe you can even help invent something important. Many things are being invented lately. They said you're bright, that's part of why I think it's a good deal to come out here. Though, there's so many more humans than witches that the smartest person anywhere is probably not a witch. Anyway, let's go over these alloys, yes? Tell me what you think of each one."

And then tests of her sensitivity and insight into metal continue for a while, things like "sort these by hardness, please" or "how much iron is in this one?", interspersed with Ms. Blucher talking a bit aimlessly about ductility and heat capacity and strain response and metal crystals and other strange, complicated things.

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Margaretta can definitely sort those by hardness! She doesn't know how much iron is in that one in numeric terms, but she can say "more than in this one and less than in that one, closer to the former". She understands enough of the aimless talking to learn from it, but she can tell she's missing background that would let her learn even more. Hopefully Ms. Blucher will be willing to explain more slowly later, or better yet assign her some books.

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"My books are in Deutsche. I suppose I can poke around in London for some in English or Spanish on my way back. I might take us out to a friend's smithy and have you help make something if we can stretch your magic the right way and you seem safety-conscious enough to me."

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"That would be wonderful! I promise I'll be careful and follow all the safety rules you tell me about and the ones I remember from watching the smith back home."

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"Safety is important. Hot metal is very dangerous. Let's head out into the woods and see if you can bend and break metal - safely. Then to the smithy and we will very carefully see how heat affects it. I can heat metal, but the smithy is a much safer place to do so than the woods or this office."

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"Okay!" Excited following!

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They proceed to the woods with some metal rods.

"I will hold a weak shield between us and the metal while you work. We'll start simple. Do you think you can apply force to a rod in two or three places at once?"

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"Probably!" She can apply force to two coins at once, so why not to two coin-sized bits at the ends of a rod? She waits for the shield to go up and gives it a shot.

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