Aug 12, 2020 2:53 PM
she could be anywhere but she’s right here - Ari, in Suite
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It's almost the end of Ari's shift, and if she can lay low for the next twenty minutes she can probably avoid getting yelled at tonight.  Not like it would matter much; they're not going to fire her with a week and a half left till they close for the season.  But it's still not pleasant, and it's pretty dead by this time of night anyway and she'd really prefer to go hide in the walk-in freezer and pretend to sort vegetables and maybe freak out a little about what she'll do for money in a couple of weeks when this and her job at the bed and breakfast and all the miscellaneous gigs she did for tourists aren't a thing anymore and -

 

 

This is not the walk-in freezer.

 

This is a bar.

Huh.

 

It's not the bar from the restaurant she works at. She's been known to get tired and a little disoriented, but she hasn't ever gotten to the point where she's mixed up the floorplan this badly, and in any case, the bar from the restaurant she works at looks nothing like this. The bar from the restaurant she works at doesn't have stars exploding outside the windows.

 - Well, it doesn't have really fancy TVs that look like windows and which display exploding stars, anyway.  She walks over to investigate.  She can totally kill some time looking at them from different distances and bobbing her head around to test the parallax while she figures out what the actual fuck.

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The door opens, and someone rolls in. The door shuts behind her.

That someone is... odd.

Her wheelchair is extravagant and bizarre - it looks like a drugged cartoonist, having never seen an actual wheelchair, decided to draw one. The wheels look like rolled up caterpillars, thousands of teeny caterpillar legs connected to soft, circular, electric blue circles, and the chair itself is more of a sphere - azure-and-white marble, with a square pedestal on top. The caterpillar-wheels and the sphere are connected by a thousand thin white threads, attaching to each side and rotating around and around like a carnival ride. The pedestal is backed by an interwoven lattice of pale white fungus, and draped in a carpet of violently blue moss.

The woman in that wheelchair has pale blue skin, dark hair, and a dress that looks like it was made by sewing together bags of flour and scraps of purple fabric. A large mushroom grows out of her head, perhaps six inches tall and four inches wide. It’s impaled by three spears of tasteful silver jewelry, and there are several rings around its stalk. Smaller mushrooms, all also decorated and pierced, sprout from other locations - her shoulders, her right knee, her left hip, from right behind her left ear.

She seems unphased by being suddenly in a bar.

”Hello!”

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Ari about jumps out of her skin at the first noise indicating she's not alone, almost knocking over a chair.  She whips around, sees the person, observes that, while she's definitely strange, she isn't exactly the sort of monster you'd intuitively expect when dealing with whatever twilight zone bullshit's going on, and even appears to be friendly.  Ari pushes the chair back in to (unsuccessfully) hide that she's taking a deep breath and putting on a smile.

"Hello!  Hi.  I like your - " it would be dumb to assume that's a costume and also dumb to assume that it isn't one - "aesthetic?"

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Being in a bar is exciting, but this is a person she hasn’t met before and they can be friends and that’s about ten times as important. 

“Thank you so much! - do you know where we are?”

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"No clue whatsoever.  Did you also walk through a door that you know for a fact didn't lead here before, or might we be wherever you came from?  Also where did you come from."

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“This was Timmy’s house before it was a bar! I don’t know why it’s a bar. I’m from the blue mushroom swamp. Are you from another deck?”

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"Another...deck?"

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“They’re the round things in the sky that people live on!”

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"Oh, we call those 'planets' - I think I must be; we don't have anybody that looks at all like you where I'm from and I've never heard of the blue mushroom swamp.  ...How are you speaking English if you're not from earth?"

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 “I can speak anything if I keep up with my kazoo practice. But I’m speaking truffle, and you sound like you’re speaking truffle, and my kazoo doesn’t work like that at all.”

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"Your.  Kazoo practice.  - I mean, that's hardly the weirdest thing going on here, but - how does your kazoo work?"

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“I made it from my relationship with my mom. If I play it often enough I can say things in any language I want! - I’m the Jack of Leaves,” she adds, as if that clarifies anything.

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"...I know less than you think I do.  Um.  Is it, like, magic?  Let's start there; we don't have magic where I'm from."

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Della is very, very good at telling when people are lying to her. Her wheelchair rolls a step backwards in alarm.

”Wow! It’s... definitely magic?”

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"Okay, so you have a magic kazoo that turns you into an extreme polyglot, but that's not what's going on here.  Cool.  Do you think it's more likely that there's some other type of magic making us understand each other, or like, I dunno, we're both actually speaking languages that are extremely similar except for what they call themselves and the spheres that people live on - or I guess mostly don't live on, actually, but, you know - or something else?"

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“Does ‘crocodile’ rhyme with ‘lemon’?”

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"It does not."

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Della bounces a little in her seat.

“Then there’s something translating us, and we aren’t speaking similar languages!”

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"So it would seem!  Um, you mentioned you were the Jack of something; what does that mean."

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“It means I can have eleven regular artifacts, and more than that if I really, really love someone! And I can change what my artifacts do without having to break relationships, even though it’s really hard! People who aren’t cards can only have one artifact and they can’t change it. Artifacts are things like my wheelchair or my kazoo, they do magic, people make them out of relationships, cards are people who can make more than one of them.”

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Ari pulls out the pen and pad of paper she has for taking orders out of her half apron and writes down a few sparse notes on this; it seems like the thing to do.

"Okay so, you've clearly got a theme going with the whole playing cards thing - I just realized that the fact that 'decks' and 'planets' are being translated differently probably means that they're more different than I was assuming.  Um, planets are big spheres of rock with molten metal in the middle - maybe some of them are just rock?  I'm not sure - and they go around a sun.  And some of them aren't rock at all but are made of gasses, and those ones are like, hundreds of times bigger I think.  Until now we only knew about life on one planet.  - Well, we went to our moon; that was cool, but no one, like, lives there.  Anything obviously different so far?"

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“I don’t know what you mean by ‘playing cards themed’! What’s a sun?”

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"Okay.  So.  Inexplicably, I think something similar to your magic system exists where I'm from as a - medium for many popular games?  I don't know how to describe it better than that without going into way more detail.  Or it could be a weird thing with the translation, I guess.  - Do you also have queens and kings and aces?  And what did you say you were the jack of; it wasn't one of the suits we use, but if you've got what I mentioned as types of cards I'd put some trivial amount of money down that it's one of four - I don't know, types of magic user you can be, or something like that.  A sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma - uh, that rhymes on my end - that's actually the same as a star but we have a different word for it because it's way closer to us so instead of appearing as a tiny dot of light at night it looks like a much bigger ball of light that's bright enough to make it daytime."

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“We don’t have suns. Our daytimes mostly just... happen! We have kings and queens and aces. There are seven kinds of person you can be - lava, waves, ink, leaves, frost, sands, pearls - and I’m the Jack of Leaves, and there’s only ever one of those on a deck unless cards immigrate. I’ve been reading you as - pearl or leaf or frost, or maybe just a joker, normally there are species cues and you don’t have those - but it sounds like you do something different, or you give the categories different names?”

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"...We'll come back to daytime 'just happening' in a bit," she says, tearing off a new page for topics they don't discuss right away.  After a thought, she adds 'species?' to it as well.  "I don't think we have anything equivalent to those; tell me more about them?"

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“They’re... the first way you divide people? People tell you their suite with their clothing, the way they talk, their hair, everything. And there are physical and personality differences. And every species is mostly made up of two suites - truffles are mostly ink and leaves, mermaids are mostly sands and waves. There are four suites native to every deck, and some suites are better than others at making some kinds of artifact.”

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