This post has the following content warnings:
Jan 18, 2020 9:32 PM
a Cameron falls on Hearth
Next Post »
+ Show First Post
Total: 433
Posts Per Page:

"It's the main one around here, but it's not that widespread outside Gesland. And there's parts of Gesland that're mostly Burner. I think there's a Riverite town down north."


"You mentioned Burner, but I still don't know what any of those are. Can you give me your one-sentence summary of each of these religions?"

How are people looking at Cameron, now? In any particular way?


"I dunno if I can do one sentence, but I'll try to keep it short."

"My religion is the Path of Charity. The five anchors are – take good, give good, make good, make time, make love – which roughly boils down to, real quality over shallow flashy stuff, giving's better than getting, do good and build good things, be there for people, sex and pleasure are good. Disciples of Charity – low-level priests – are sworn to austerity and service, and they're not allowed to refuse sex to anyone, with a couple of obvious exceptions."

"Burners follow the Hearthmother, I think I said, she's a hearth goddess as I'm sure you can guess, also grain and hospitality. They're big on touchy-feely lovey-dovey stuff. High priestesses are sacred prostitutes, she doesn't let men be high-level clergy, I dunno why."

"Riverites I don't know as much about, but apparently they worship 'the Three Brothers' who I think might be... rain, wind, and... I forget the other one. Pretty sure not river though, I dunno how that comes into it. They're big on, like, sacrifice and meditation and stuff? The one I met was blindfolded as a religious thing but she said she wasn't blinded, like, she still had her eyes, just – she was choosing to go without? There's a rumor that the monks cut off one of their hands but I don't think that's real."


When people look at her, it's generally in a dismissive sort of way; not like she's being scandalous, but rather it's almost like they think she's unattractive.


...she hasn't gotten looks like that since before she got her soul. What the fuck.

No seriously what the fuck. She's a magical girl, her body is literally, mathematically, optimal.

Her skin starts crawling, at the looks. All-over writhing prickles and a rushing in her ears...

Cameron locks down her expression, shows nothing outwardly. It has to be Tegan's outfit. They don't seem to be giving Tegan the same looks, but there could be reasons for that. Maybe this was deliberate sabotage, to turn the townsfolk against her, maybe it wasn't. Probably wasn't. But if it was she can't let on that she's noticed. Because it probably is the outfit, not her face or body. And she'll be fine if she can invent a plausible reason to ditch it before making any more first impressions. 

Focus on the exposition.

"You have three religions and only one of them is pro-abstinence? And the other two are both sexually encouraging? Wow."

How the fuck did that happen, and can Cameron export it?

"I have a friend who'd love that last part, in your religion, by the way," Cameron says conversationally. "She has... consent issues. In the sense that she wishes people would forget the entire concept with regards to her."

Where exactly is Tegan taking her anyway? If she's leading Cameron straight into a town meeting or to meet the mayor or something like that, after setting her up for those looks, Cameron is going to stop being nice.


"Yeah, people from other countries are usually more uptight about sex. Makes sense California would be the same way, I guess."

"And yeah, it's good to have – a way to let people know that they should stop worrying about you, trust you to be able to take care of yourself."


"Did you have anything in particular you wanted to do first, now we're in town? I could try to help you find some clothes that fit you better, if you like."

Permalink it is the outfit, and Tegan knew exactly what she was doing. Cameron keeps her suspicious glower down to 'plausibly deniable' but she bets her little black dress would've made a much better impression.

You look like a Burner, dressed like that.

The suspicion on Cameron's face is no longer deniable. "Is there some reason you didn't want me to look like a Burner while we walked into town." Like a religious rivalry, maybe?


Tegan mostly succeeds at not making a face. "I told you what they're like, right? If that's really what you want people to think of you, I wouldn't stop you, but if it were me, I'd rather look like I didn't have decent clothes than like I was some kind of an undisciplined flounce."


So that's a yes on the religious rivalry.

Cameron merely gives the surrounding townsfolk (and their distaste) an eloquent look. "Really."

Fuck this. Cameron deactivates her Style, and the too-tight copy of Tegan's outfit rips apart as her body tears through it, before the remains dissolve into nothingness, leaving Cameron entirely nude.

"How about I just do this instead."


Well, that's certainly going to get some sort of attention. There's some muttering, but the tone is more speculative than judgmental.


Sigh. "I can't tell you what to do, but I really think you're better than that. Don't sit on anything with your bare ass."


The way people are looking at her now is definitely preferable. In kind of a Cytherian way, maybe?

"...better than what, exactly?"


"It's a very... straightforward look. Unsubtle." Beat. "Like... there's more to flirting than just pointing at your crotch and saying 'you sex me now', you know?"


People are looking at her, but not like people on Earth would be looking at her if she were naked in public there. They seem more interested in the magic than her body; the looks are more assessing than either appreciative or judgmental.


Yeah, that is about how people would be looking at her in Cytheria. That's reassuring.

Cameron's lips quirk. "It'd work on me. The trouble is, no one who does that ever actually means it, so it kind of fails as an analogy, doesn't it? More to the point, the way these folks are looking at me now is definitely nicer than they way they were looking at me when I was dressed like you."


"No one older than like fifteen, anyway."

"Dressed in my clothes, you mean? Anyway, you'll get different looks again from people who didn't just see you casually use magic. Even Burners don't go around naked. You look... well, like a foreigner who thinks the whole not being uptight about sex thing is exotic and shiny. Which I guess is fair. You'll figure it out if you stick around long enough."


"I'm sure. As long as I don't offend anyone in the meanwhile I don't care if people think I'm odd, or foreign. Since I am both of those things. And it's just until my Style finishes adapting. It's already more than halfway there."

Cameron really wants to meet a Burner and get their side of the story. But that can wait.

"I don't actually need anything. I've got a tent in my Pocket and I can sustain myself with magic in the absence of food and water. But it's not comfortable. What do you use for money around here?"


"I suppose. It's not impossible you might offend someone a little, same as if you went round calling us exotic or quaint, but I wouldn't expect anyone to take really serious offense. They might look down on you a little, but – ultimately, you're not the first foreigner to come through here and you won't be the last. There's a limit to how much damage you can do."

She doesn't snicker at "tent in my pocket", but she thinks it. "Nice to have in an emergency, though."

She fishes around in a pocket and pulls out two rectangular metal bars, one brass and one silver, and hands them over. "Here." They're about the length of her little finger, twice as wide, and half as thick. Each one is stamped with the image of a hatchet on one side and a tent on the other, but as she turns them over the perspective of the images shifts, so that the objects seem to be rotating in three dimensions.

"One silver is twelve brass. Most places will take whatever you've got, though, as long as you don't mind your coins being valued at the metal."


...enchanted currency. Yeah, that isn't a cleverly disguised screen. Cameron isn't sure what that implies but it sure implies something.

"I work professionally in the nude. If there's implied name-calling it's certainly going in both directions."

Cameron wryly reaches into her Pocket and pulls out of a seam in the air a $20 bill and an inch-high (glass??) tetrahedron with a "1" on each face and an ever-shifting glow of rainbow light inside. She expects the paper money to be meaningless, but Tegan ought to at least recognize mana dice.

"None of my money is made of metal." She holds up Tegan's enchanted coinbars. "Who makes these?"


...she's pretty sure Burner priestesses don't go around naked all the time, and she knows gymnasts don't either. Maybe it's a foreign religious thing?, she was fine being clothed, and California was foreign about sex.


"Oh. No, people aren't gonna take scrip from somewhere they don't know. And alms-money is made at the temple; who makes that jewel thing?"


Cameron notices Tegan's confusion. But she doesn't feel like trying to explain internet porn to someone who probably doesn't know what a camera is, right now.

"...are you sure you've never seen one of these before?" Cameron gestures with the glowing mana die. "Mana dice have been minted by the Beacon for the last few hundreds of years. They're the standard, and only guaranteed-safe, power source for sorcery, and as such they're a universal currency everywhere magic is known, which is everywhere since the Veil's destruction a year-and-a-half ago."



"I've never heard of the Beacon, or the Veil, or a time when magic wasn't common knowledge."


...could the Veil be shielded against? Cameron actually doesn't know. It somehow never came up. It was always simpler to make someone 'count' as magical.

"That... is weird. Like, at least an order of magnitude weirder than anything else about this place."

Okay, how to explain this...

"The Veil was what we called the thought-suppression magic that stopped magicless people from noticing or thinking things the Beacon and the Puchuu agreed they shouldn't be allowed to think. The Beacon, and the Puchuu, were a pair of intelligent planet-sized machines made of joy that did the majority of soul-distributing, before my partner killed them both."

And it sounds so much less awesome than it was when she says it like that, wow.

"Are you sure there wasn't any kind of... sudden change in the ability of some people to notice magical things a year-and-a-half ago? It was very easy to 'count' as magic in the Veil's eyes so it might be that a lot of you unveiled yourselves as children without noticing..."


"...not that I heard of...I'd expect there to be, at minimum, stories about people who couldn't see magic things, if there had been even one in ten thousand over the last few centuries. Likewise if there were people without souls."


"I think the Burners like to talk about joy."


"Saying they were 'made of joy' is a flippant and gratuitous over-simplification," Cameron admits dismissively.

And then she's silent for a long moment. Because... "If that's true, this place was beyond the Veil's reach. Either you've been shielded from the effects, a thing I've never heard of... or this isn't Earth at all, it isn't even in the solar system."

The sky... looks like normal sky. The sun looks like Sol, as far as Cameron can tell with the naked eye. But either Tegan is a better liar (or was thoroughly lied to better) than Cameron has ever seen, or that sky is the lie.



"I don't think I understand the question well enough to help. But it sounds like either one of us is seriously misinformed, or you are very lost."


No shit.

Okay, this isn't Earth.

And it probably isn't in normal space either.

And it is almost certainly artificial, deliberate, in some way.

For now, though, that doesn't actually change anything. She wasn't actually going to try to go home until after she figured out what was up with this place, so her priorities are the same.

"Alright. In any case, I'm going to be here for a while. What, exactly, are my lodging options long-term?"


Oh good, a question she knows how to answer. "Making camp in the wilderness is always an option, of course. If you don't want to do that, there's free bunks at the temple, or you could rent a bed at a flophouse, or a room at the inn. Or you could build or buy a house, I suppose."

Total: 433
Posts Per Page: