Jul 23, 2019 4:05 PM
Link with portal powers shows up
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"Maybe Bar will let you make portals out in the yard and you can test it."

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"Oh, yeah, I should probably do that. Soon as I think of things to test. I'm not as curious as I should be, honestly. They used to make fun of me for it."

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"Maybe practice will help with that."

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"Maybe, maybe. But I don't feel like it quite yet. Hey, some things that can't burn or break could be handy. Almost as handy as a portal, eh? Do you take spices and salt as payment? 'Cause gold doesn't work, you said you had lots."

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"I can take payment any of those ways. Bar does currency conversion, too. And sometimes I've been known to take payment in art."

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"Bar, can I give you these gold coins and get some of his kind of money?"

She squints at the reply napkin, mouthing each word and reading slowly.

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"You can also pay me in your coins, I just need to know how much they're worth." Does she seem to mind if he looks over at her napkin to see the exchange rate?

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She doesn't mind. One golden coin is about 600 rings.

"...Reading is hard. Only priests and doctors learn to do it. I just know, like, ten words. So it's really weird how I can... Sort of understand all this."

The translation effect tends to help with vocabulary, but it can only do so much if you are not used to reading yourself, I'm afraid. Bar says.

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"...I'm tempted to offer to try to teach you to read, but I can only read Ilan and Hari."

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"I could get someone from home to teach me if I really wanted, no worries. Might be a good idea, so I can talk to Bar better."

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"Good, I'm glad you've got people. Why priests and doctors in particular, by the way?"

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"Yeah, family is good. Having people is nice. Even when they're kind of overwhelming... Priests decide what we should do. Where to build new villages and mines, how much grain needs to be stored for later, how to punish crimes, and stuff. They need to read old things for all that. And doctors have to learn a lot to do their work without accidentally killing people, and can't remember everything all the time, so they need to read things. I guess some craftsmen and most merchants learn it too."

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"We didn't have priests where I'm from until we got some immigrants. And judges only have so much discretion in sentencing criminals but I guess the way they know what they're supposed to do is by reading about it. Your society sounds pretty different."

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"I think you guys have way more stuff. Way, way more stuff. About the only thing I actually recognize in here is wood!"

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"If you want a break from everyone wanting you for your portals I can teach you some things that'll make them want you for your fancy futuristic technology instead."

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"That sounds fun, if you don't mind. Don't know if you're busy with stuff or anything. I could find 'books' and read about it, but, uh, yeah..."

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"I have time - time is paused where I came from, or at least it usually is when you're in Milliways with the door shut. I'm not sure how to figure out where to start or what information you can use without magic you don't have, though."

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"We have bronze, you can make it by mixing up copper and tin, it's much better than using just copper for tools. We make houses out of wood, dirt, and clay. We get water from wells and make pots and things out of fired clay. They figured out that if you leave fields empty sometimes, food grows a little bit better there the next year. There's this clever thing called a 'pulley' they use to make moving big rocks easier..."

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"Do you know about germs and how to make soap?"

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"Well, soap exists, so maybe the priests do?"

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"We can check if they do. Bar, are there books from her world that mention anything about germs?"

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Nothing that indicates an understanding of the idea of germs, though some medical texts suggest boiling water and bandages and similar measures.

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"Thanks! She says your priests probably don't know what germs are but know some of the right things to do about them anyway. They're very tiny living creatures that can make you sick if they get inside you. You can kill some of them with fire or wash them away with soap."

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"...So germs are even tinier bugs? That make you sick? Yikes. Yeah, better tell them that. We know washing things sometimes keeps people from getting sick, and boiling water does, and using purified blades to make food too. But nobody agrees on why. Tiny bugs makes sense, sort of. I wonder what kind of experiment could prove it. If there's an experiment they can do themselves, they'll like the idea more."

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"Got any records of nonmagical worlds discovering germs?" he asks Bar.

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