May 19, 2019 12:23 PM
Atennesi Cohen in Kith
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There are exactly two children on this planet, one five and one eight. Everyone else is at least 14, and mostly over 20.

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...That is very weird, and most likely related to the woman's references to making people. He considers several guesses as to how it all fits together, but refrains from committing to any of them without more data. 

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It's a long walk. Eventually they get out of the lavender and into an adjacent field with potatoes.

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He listens to conversations held in public in the village they're travelling to, hoping to pick up as much of the language as possible before his "sore throat" excuse wears out. 

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People are talking about selling seeds (they're both against it), about a recent exploratory mission from a city round to some rounds that have recently drifted into traveling distance, about a child from the city who has some unfortunate habits and a forum discussion about how to engineer that out in adults even if it's unavoidable in children. There is an argument about whether, when creating someone to assist and then succeed you on your farm, it is okay to also make them not fully adult and interested in having sex with you, since a farmer on this round has done so (one party to this argument thinks you shouldn't make anyone not fully adult ever even if 'sixteen' is borderline; a second thinks amateurs even if they have the basic skill necessary to make a successor shouldn't make people who want to have sex with them that they expect to outlive because it's cruel and hard to do carefully enough that it isn't cruel; and the third party thinks that the farmer must have been made incorrectly in the first place to want to have sex with people physically younger than himself who certainly aren't going to stay that way because it's an unsustainable preference). Someone over there is reporting to someone else about how the new variety of apple is going over. Someone is observing the sky through a telescope and reporting on faraway weather trajectories to someone on the ground; apparently a storm might make it to adjacent New Riverround and if it doesn't spend itself there it'll hit this one next.

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This is all incredibly fascinating. 

Doing magic directly to your own mind is an incredibly risky process with unavoidable side effects. No one, including him, has found a way to change that. 

But doing magic to your brain chemistry...is risky in different ways, ways he is much better equipped to work around. 

He stumbles slightly, the temporary alterations that increase linguistic neuroplasticity having ripple effects on his motor control, but manages to adjust for it after that. 

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"- are you okay?" asks the lavender farmer.

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"Okay," she says uncertainly. Onward. Now they're surrounded by wheat!

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He would love to analyze the differences between these plants and their counterparts on his planet but he really has bigger issues to worry about. 

He continues to listen intently to the village. 

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It's been getting harder to get cheese. One person is loudly of the opinion that everyone should be made to be satisfied with plain, easily-grown things, and someone else says they've tried that in a foreign polity and it leads to nutrition deficiencies. There's some romantic drama. The same person who thinks everyone should be made to like plain food also thinks everyone should be made asexual. Someone counters that sex is a really cheap hobby and it's hard to make people who don't want to have any hobbies at all sustainably happy with their lives.

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How curious. Does plain-food person seem to have a reason for thinking everyone should be asexual?

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It will prevent romantic drama like the kind currently being gossiped about.

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Hm. 

He continues listening intently to the language until they reach the village, occasionally mouthing phonemes when he's sure his guide isn't looking at him. 

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She doesn't look at him very much. Here's the village! It is small and cute. She brings him to a building that might be like a city hall or something. "Can you talk yet?" she asks before they go in.

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"A little," he says raspily. 

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"Okay, I'll tell them to hold it down to yes or no questions." She heads in.

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He follows her, dropping the spells eavesdropping on the rest of the village to focus his attention here. 

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She explains him to an official-looking person, saying that she thinks perhaps a child made him and ran away, are the children accounted for, and the official-looking guy says that he'll check where they were known to be at the relevant time.

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The idea offends his dignity but he hasn't survived as long as he has by not knowing when to tell his dignity to sit down and shut up so. 

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"What's your name?" official guy asks.

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"Ataran, we need to figure out where you came from. What's your earliest really clear memory, one where you can remember lots of little details?"

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He considers this. 

"I was--" cough "--on a ship." 

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"- okay. What can you tell us about the ship?"

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