Dec 15, 2019 3:37 AM
A dragon explores space, finds Amenta.
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I would appreciate it.

Oh. You were going to try to arrange for me to own this place at least temporarily? Perhaps you should start charging money to de-springed people to pay for it, or is that premature? I don't wish to owe some nebulous debt. I also still need to pay back all your hospitality, the meat, the garden, the nail painters, the amenities and guards for this place...

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"I thought I'd explained we have a budget for things like that. It included buying the warehouse, transferring it to you isn't even an extra expense. And we aren't charging your patients, since it was important to get variety on a lot of factors rather than filtering mostly for money - anyone with awful springs and money is spending it on credits. If we started charging the patients then your batch of reds wouldn't be able to afford it."

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...You did mention that. Budgets are such a foreign concept that I keep forgetting they exist. I never did see much point for the use of Number, except for knowing exactly how much treasure I have, so I'm not used to anything math can do.

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"Would you like a math tutor?"

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Perhaps later if I find myself bored, or think of a use for such skills.

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"All right, the option will be open as long as you're here." He can find the Fiction Closet message function.

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Oh, it's like another email account? It looks like I already received some?

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"It is a bit like another email account, yes, though if you want you can check this box and your Fiction Closet messages will go to your normal email and you can reply from there."

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I will do that. Thank you.

I think it might be best if I see the man I sent away first thing tomorrow, and then thirty or so simple candidates.

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"That can be arranged."

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She goes back to her pile of Treasure and tends her flowers and writes another memoir chapter: 'What it's like to hatch'.

...It was not something I decided. I realized. I knew that I would die if I did not break free soon. I would be crushed by the same egg that protected me...

...I felt sure it would be the most exhausting experience of my life. Covered in slime and dirt I wobbled on unsteady feet and stumbled to the ground...

...I stared at the little animal. It was alive. It was moving. It glowed with warmth and magic. It seemed beautiful and irreplaceable. Did I really have to kill it? I didn't want to. But I was very hungry. So I accepted the lesson that I must destroy, which my parent told me in the egg...

 

She also messages the writer of the first story she read, the one with Cloud, simply saying that she liked it and she thinks they understand Draak better than most.

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The author really appreciates that! She read a lot of interviews and articles trying to piece things together. She likes the memoir!

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I'm writing it because I want people to be less wrong about Draak. Some of the stories are very silly and wrong. Is there anything I should make sure to mention in the memoir to do this? I will answer some questions if you want too because I like the story.

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The author has lots of questions! What do Draak do with dead Draak, how do they react when it happens? (It's not necessary to answer but she'd like to know for verisimilitude.) Do they have anything like a pollution instinct? Do they have fridges or canning or drying or salting or anything to store food for later, like in winter, or do they just hibernate if food's scarce on the hoof? What's hunting like? How do they meet people, some of them seem to know each other but they have neither cities nor Internet. Does she notice interesting differences in Amentan castes or nationalities or anything?

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Death comes for everything eventually, even Draak who don't seem to die of old age. Bloom expects to die one day, whether by accident or violence. Of course she doesn't want to die, but it's going to happen sooner or later. If her child or a friend died she would be a little bit sad. Destroyed eggs hit harder.

Sometimes a few feathers are plucked as trophies or tokens of remembrance, one might eat a portion of it if one was hungry but Draak are not very tasty, and then the body is just left where it lies so it will return to the land. If there's any ecological concern to just leaving it there it's shredded or burned or buried or otherwise processed in situ.

Concentrations of pathogens - sensed directly with the Song - seem off and unusual but are not actually aversive. Eating a partially decayed body and getting horribly sick as a result is a lesson most Draak only have to learn once, though. An infected live animal, however, is obvious and disturbing and disgusting. It's common to cull and incinerate animals with particularly bad diseases if you find any.

Food preservation is mostly not a thing. Sometimes drying and salting, but really most Draak can go months without eating and then mightily feast even in summer. She thinks the hibernation response is not actually linked to how hungry one is.

Hunting is a competition between you and your target. You have to pay exquisitely careful attention to it, read the wind, know its speed and abilities and body language. It's about watching and waiting and moving at the exact right moment. You need keen senses, great patience, and speed and ferocity at the moment of striking. Setting traps feels weird and unsporting, but is acceptable if you're starving.

You wander around and smell the scents of other Draak and go find them and meet people that way. You ask your neighbors about their neighbors. You rudely wander straight through claimed territories or around unclaimed ones. You buy and sell lessons from other Draak with shiny things. You train birds to fly in every direction and invite others to come meet you if they might like you. There's all kinds of ways.

She has only barely met anyone outside of Baravi so can't comment on nationalities, but greens seem weak in Earth and purples weak in Air and blues weak in Fire and greys weak in Water, as stereotypes. Oranges are strong in Water, yellows in Air. She hasn't met many any reds but Seeker says they might be strong in Earth.

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The author would like to know more about all those elements!

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She answers the next morning after sleeping.

It's hard to explain. She could show everything they mean in person with telepathy but here is her best attempt. 

Fire is destruction and death and consumption, but also life and animation and new creation. To live is to consume, as a flame consumes. To live is to shine and warm, as a flame shines and warms. Being strong in fire means having a drive to get what you want and living loudly and fearlessly, showing your spirit to the world and changing things.

Water is flexibility and adaptation and subtlety and empathy. Water curves and bends over the land and fills the shapes it occupies and cannot be crushed, but over time it can carve valleys and wear away mountains. Being strong in water means understanding and changing your approach, finding another way to get what you want than the obvious.

Air is speed and insight, attention and activity. Air is rarely quite still, always moving from every tiny disturbance. The wind blows dust hundreds of miles in a day and fills every corner of the world. Being strong in air means careful observation and intelligent adjustment and diligent correction of mistakes, plus a swift pace of work in whatever you do.

Earth is silence and stillness, solidity and durability. The ground beneath one's feet might not move for centuries, and when it does - earthquakes and landslides and cave-ins and tectonic plates shifting - it is nearly unstoppable. Being strong in Earth means one is patient, resilient, one can face danger and pain and hunger and all manner of indignity and continue on regardless. 

Earth is her personal favorite.

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The author wants to know if these are a real thing or just a philosophy.

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Bloom is pretty sure they are a real thing but feels compelled to admit that not all Draak do. It's theology.

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The author does not know much Amentan theology to compare. What do Draak do with all these concepts?

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They feel like obvious and natural categories that reflect something real in the universe. They're handy shorthand concepts to describe or relate other things. They're thought to be the best ways Draak can be, they're ideals to live up to. And many kinds of magic are extremely difficult without being strong in the relevant element.

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Ooh, what kinds of magic for which elements? What's difficult about them?

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The classic thing for Fire is various combat magic, most grandly the True Song of Destruction which can vaporize almost anything. A special branch of Fire magic allows one to eat almost anything - some plants, rocks, metal - and extract energy from them. Fire magic is most connected to the physical world. Flinging boulders or hydrokinesis is Fire magic, and Draak's fire breath - or some have lightning breath instead - is natural Fire magic that doesn't require thinking about but gets stronger with Fire affinity.

Water magic is about changing oneself. Camouflage, altered scent, reshaping things, and magically teaching things. Water is also the element most connected to dreams and intuition, but dream magic is very confusing and hard to explain. Water magic can also sometimes do something like object-reading, but it reads an object's purpose instead of its history.

Air magic is about speed and senses and states of mind. You can confuse or panic someone with Air, or induce pain or sleep, or sharpen your own mind or senses briefly, or flash-step and otherwise move quickly, or help you fly. The True Song of Dominion creates a very strong but sometimes resistable urge to obey the Draak who sings it for a few minutes.

Earth magic is all about durability. You can be very very difficult to injure, ignore pain, be all but immune to disease or poison, reinforcing or repairing objects, and of course the Songs of Healing, varying from least powerful to most in the True Song of Healing. Earth magic is also linked with Enkindling, though it requires all four elements to do properly.

Most magic is difficult because it requires very strong intent, clear visualization, and specific states of mind. She has to feel like she is a deep pond to object-read, or like she is the howling wind to confuse a prey animal.

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What does it feel like to be a pond or a wind? Isn't it weird for hydrokinesis to be Fire?

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That is very hard to put into words! She thought so too at first, and you can do a little hydrokinesis with Water, but Fire is motion and animation and does it better once you get it. (Enkindled powers don't work the same way, they're specific and not freeform like the true magic of a Draak.)

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