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Nov 17, 2019 6:32 PM
Shift!Fenris in AA
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Head-tilt.

The wings... press against themselves, not shrinking just retracting like arms holding tight against the body. And then he removes them. 

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He stares for a long moment, then blinks hard and shakes his head. He is starting to strongly suspect that this situation is much farther out of his experience than he'd first thought. 

He leads his guest into the command center. It's fairly busy in there, clerks going over resources and messengers bringing one of the Captains word from returning patrols. The fort Commander is pouring over the map on the table, showing their surroundings. She looks up at Jaim's entrance and then pushes to her feet quickly, looking extremely relieved. 

"General, it's a relief to see you well," she says, "Is Prince Ilek-?" 

"He's fine," Jaim assures her, his words proven when Ilek files in behind the stranger. "The arrival of our guest scared them into retreat. Hopefully they'll give us a bit more time before they next ambush one of our patrols." 

He turns to him, "General Jaim, by the way," he offers, "Of Cialin's Southern Border Forces." He motions to his sullen brother, "This is Prince Ilek of Cialin, and Commander Coen of Fort Kiet." 

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"Zephyrinus Bright. As far I can tell, I landed amidst the battle by accident."

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He translates for the other two, then turns back to Zephyrinus, "We have world maps which you are welcome to look at, to see if you recognise anything," he offers. 

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"That would be helpful. Thank you." After a pause. "Why is everyone in a single shape?"

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He blinks, "I'm... not sure what you mean? As far as I know people only have the one." 

The Commander motions for a clerk to find Zephyrinus a world map. He rifles through a cabinet for a bit before pulling one out and unrolling it over the local map on the table. 

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Only the one. Well, that's sure... a three-word set with very scary repercussions.

He is almost not surprised upon seeing the map and not recognizing the land masses. "Is this... all? Are you sure of its accuracy?"

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He hesitates, "Well, theoretically there could be more in the ocean to the east of this continent and the west of the other? No one has explored recently, as far as I know. There could be new islands that would not be shown on the old maps these were copied from. But, as far as large land masses go, that should be it." 

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"Maybe I am misreading the scale, but I didn't get the impression that this land mass is small enough for us to have missed it."

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"Well. It seems you are farther from home than either of us had thought." He pauses, "...What do you intend to do? Do you think you can get back? Our people are accustomed to taking in refugees, but given the differences between us you may have different needs than most of them." 

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"Thank you... I don't know what to do, yet. I probably should change shape, I might acquire a power that can take me back home. Or at least communicate with them." And of course he should investigate the rock formation, but he is not going to say that. "What is going on with this war?"

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So he can change shape, that explains the earlier question. "That's how your magic works, then? Different powers for each shape?" 

"As for the war... You currently stand on Cialin territory." He leans over the table, brushing the world map and local map to the side to reveal the map of Cialin, pointing to the location of the fort, "This is Fort Kiat," he says, "And this is where the battle you came upon was," he taps the rough spot. "This map shows the current borders, though really our claim goes to here," the borders cover perhaps a quarter of the largest continent, but the line he makes with his finger covers over half of it.

"Independent nations used to cover all of Cian, this continent, but anyone who is free of the Empire has turned to Cialin for protection over the past few centuries. The Empire stretches over the western continent, Tor, and most of Cian. They've also been making headway in the Island Alliance to the south," he taps the huge archipelago to the south of the sea between the two continents on the world map. 

"The background here is... about thirty years after the reemergence of magic, which happened 300 years ago, the Empire formed and began conquering surrounding territory. The first Emperor was a straightforward conqueror - as far as history and those alive at the time can tell us, he simply wanted to control the world, and had the power and charisma to make the attempt. He took most of Tor in his lifetime. 

"Some of his successors have been conquerors as well, and some peacemakers, but none were as successful as the first or the current one.

"We're not sure why the current Emperor began conquering territory again," he says, "He was peaceful for the first five years of his rule, focussing on politics mostly. Then he very suddenly started mounting attacks on the borders and taking land as quickly as possible.

"We do our best to defend our borders, but the Arming Empire is so large and populous that it's not an easy task." 

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"I should properly explain my kind of magic at some point, but let's get me informed about your world first. Is the Emperor only interested in violent conquest? Does he give people the chance to surrender? Not saying that you should, but it's important to know."

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He nods, "The Empire accepts surrender. Some of the remaining border countries chose to surrender when the latest war started. They're partly assimilated by now - it's been about thirty years, so most of the young adults have Imperial educations. The remaining free nations, however... Besides Cialin, there is only Sanctuary, which depends on Cialin for most of their food, and the Island Alliance. The Alliance will never surrender to the Empire. Aside from the erasure of native cultures the Empire practises, the Alliance barely tolerates Cialin's equal-inheritance laws. Only men can inherit among the Imperial nobility, where women rule in the Islands." 

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"Weird. No reason for the Empire's sudden expansionism? Potential internal problems?"

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He frowns, "There's some rumours," he admits, "The Empress began making fewer public appearances shortly before the war broke out. She hasn't been seen at all in the past ten years, but there hasn't been an announcement of her death, or of treason or anything else. There was a rise in Imperial interest in ruins as well, but that might have just been the army searching for more Artefacts to enhance their forces."

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Nod. "Can you explain those? Artefacts, that is."

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He taps the Bow on his back over his shoulder, "They're... power enhancement objects? I guess that's the simplest overview. Some of them have minds, some don't. Some greatly enhance two colours - types - of magic. Others usually offer less enhancement, but across the board." 

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"Do you have magic without artifacts?"

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"Yes, every person has magic. Most have only a little, some have more, and a rare few have a great deal. There are eight colours of mana which we can use to shape spells, and runes with which we can create longer lasting effects. Time, Fire, Life, Earth, Water, Wind, Illusion, and Space." 

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The rest of the command center has gone back to business while Jaim speaks to him. Ilek taps his brother on the shoulder and gestures towards the door, asking to be dismissed. When Jaim nods, he wanders out to go find someone to spar with.

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"Huh. And you mentioned artefacts sometimes have minds. What are they like?" Which is way politer than asking if they keep slaves.

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"They're..." He's not entirely sure how to articulate this, but he tries his best, "They vary. The age differs, and thus their wisdom and experience, and they have varying personalities. They're people. They just don't have any way to interact with the world except through their wielders. Without a wielder all they can do is observe, and glow, and hurt those who touch them, if they don't like a person." 

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"Do they like their existence? Where their minds came from?"

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He shrugs, "We don't know where they come from," he says, "And if they do, none of them are telling those of us who can hear them - and you need to have a certain amount of compatibility and experience with a given Artefact to actually trade words with them. The Nomad," he pats the Bow, "And I aren't quite there yet, though we can share pretty coherent mental images, and they can use all of my senses." 

"I think they're alright with it? The Nomad doesn't seem to mind existing, at any rate. I don't think they like being left alone, mostly, but I've never heard anyone mentioning their Artefact being unhappy to be bound to someone - if they mind they'll just refuse to bond." 

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