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Nov 22, 2019 4:29 AM
demigod Erin in Murune
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He nods down at him ponderously, "Hello," he says, "It is good she found you. She was very sad about being unable to use it more fully." 

He looks to Erin, "You are here for dinner? Have you finished at the hospital in this village?"

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She smiles up at him, "For now, at least," she agrees. She looks to Ara'Vine, "Are you hungry? We have enough to share." 

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"Yes, thank you."  

If there's any cooking or preparation to do, he stands ready to help with it.

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Something pretty simple, she thinks. Stew, perhaps. 

Saman has cleared the area at his right of debris, leaving room for a small camp and fire. Erin lightens herself briefly - an old gift from her father; most demigods have one to allow some amount of flight - to flutter up onto his back and retrieve her supplies, then glides back down. 

"Could you start the fire?" She asks, "I should go back into the village to fetch water. To set a good example for the villagers, if nothing else." 

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"I can do that."

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So water is fetched, a stew set to cooking, and she settles down, wings spread somewhat haphazardly over the ground behind her, to keep an eye on the food. 

"Have you decided what to teach me first?" She asks while they wait. 

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"Sensing and healing others, starting with plants.  Most of the shapeshifting and enhancing tricks will require a long time getting used to what the Sense shows, and healing others will give you that experience while doing something helpful."  

Ara'Vine still isn't sure what the right order for the information is, but figues he should probably start with something.  He also looks for where he put his pack, and retrieves a small pot with a carefully protected seedling of duskmindh growing in it.  Rather than handing it over immediately, he stares at the plant as he talks.

"The magic is meant to heal 'you', but exactly what counts as 'you' is debatable.  It obviously means more than just whichever brain cells are thinking about it.  'You' includes your red blood cells, even though they don't have your DNA in them, and the mitochondria in your cells, even though they have their own separate DNA.  At least, you can probably Sense them - I don't know where your default ability to Sense things ends because mine changed over time.  The colony of symbiotic bacteria in your intestines is enough 'you' that it might as well be considered one of your organs.  That one took me a long time to start sensing.  I was very germophobic when I was younger." 

"By meditating on it strongly and seriously enough, the magic gets convinced and stretches to cover your target.  If you have good enough arguments for it, you can even convince it that 'you' includes other people."

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"Ah," she says, "Well, that sounds... very uncomfortable." And a little horrifying.

She pauses, "Another of the first things I attempted, when sensing Saman didn't work, was sensing what counted as 'myself'. I have kept at it over the past few weeks - I can sense all three of those, but nothing past the barrier of my skin - even when strictly speaking the blood outside of my body should still be mine. I suppose I should have tried to be more stubborn." 

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"Blood from cuts isn't a direction I've gotten anywhere with.  My meditation, when I focus on changing plants, is a meditation on symbiosis."

Ara'Vine checks on the stew and decides they have the time for a quick exercise. 

"This is what I let run through my head when I'm preparing to heal something other than myself," he says, shifting to a slow and steady tone of voice, no longer explaining but directing.

"First, close your eyes and think of your brain.  That is the most central thing that is definitely you.  It's the one thing that you can't change, only heal."  A good thing, considering what happened before the gods fixed that particular magical exploit.  "It can't survive on its own, outside of a skull and without a heart and lungs and digestive system to provide it with nutrients and oxygen.  Your eyes, ears, and other sensory organs provide your brain with information.  The muscles and bones let you interact with the world.  Your skull and skin protect you from danger.  All of these trillions of cells need to work together for their survival, and you are all of them.

"The mitochondria is a very old symbiote.  Some billions of years ago, two very basic lifeforms began living alongside each other, and to this day their descendants remain together, now unable to survive apart, and you are both of them.  

"The gut flora is something similar, but more recent.  They help to digest food, and in exchange your body provides them a place to live and a source of food.  People get very sick if they take too many antibiotics because the gut flora is harmed and our health depends on them.  And they are evolved to live within humans, and wouldn't thrive outside of that environment.

"Now comes the stretching point - Humans have symbiotic relationships with things outside of ourselves.  

"Take wheat, for example.  Humans plant wheat, provide it with water and fertilizer, prevent competition from invading its fields, safeguard it from disease.  In exchange, we get food and oxygen.  Humans can't survive without plants - we wouldn't be able to breathe without the oxygen they provide, and we can't get energy from the sun on our own.  

"Animals, too.  Dogs, barnwyrms, horses, pigeons, cattle, and more were all bred to work in symbiosis with us.  Dogs perform tasks and cattle turn otherwise-inedible plants into milk, and we give them protection, medicine, and shelter.

"People are the hardest, but it works the same way.  The farmer needs metal tools and medicine.  The healer needs metal tools and food.  The blacksmith needs food and medicine.  People in a city are like organs in a body, each doing a job and relying on the others."

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Erin listens intently to this explanation. 

Oh, that's a little less awful than she had first assumed. The idea that she is a part of a larger organism made up of all living things, and therefore all living things are her... Yes, that makes sense. It's even true, if you look at the ecosystem as an organism. 

She hums, "So, I should first attempt this with someone or something which I can most easily convice myself is in symbiosis with me," she says. 

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"Yes.  That's why I brought the plant.  Duskmindh is a good example - it only grows in human-tended fields and you're already used to its use in medicine.  Taking care of that particular plant every day and seeing personally that it gets water will only strengthen that."

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She opens her eyes to look at the plant, leaning over the fire a bit to see properly. Yes, that sure is duskmindh in a little pot. They grew it at the temple in Elgea, she knows how to take care of it - though she hasn't grown her own herbs since she left. 

"How long did it take you to learn this, once you had the idea?" She asks. 

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"I knew it was possible with plants a few years before 2548.  My husband at the time had been the one to figure it out, though he didn't manage to teach me while he was still alive.  After that, I hadn't been interested in learning for a long time.  I spent... uh, 2900 minus 2550... 350 or so years in the wilderness exploring, not keeping track of the calendar, shapeshifted into a dragon.  I know I caught it at some point in there.  

"I have no idea how long it should take you."

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He has been alive for so long. She knew this, but somehow it is different to hear him speak about events which took place over 300 years before she was born. 

Come to think of it. 

"...Can I expect to live that long, with this power, or is it something else that gives you your lifespan?" 

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"Yes, the power does de-aging.  It's one of the simpler things to pick up."

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She glances over at Saman, "For others too, yes?" It stands to reason, based on what he's said, but it doesn't hurt to be sure. 

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"Yes.  I forget the exact number that's theoretically maintainable if you don't do anything else, but anyone who you can heal directly or give chargestones to can be de-aged."

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She smiles, "Oh, good. Turtles can live a long time, but not forever." Though it is a shame that magic is so limited that she can't simply share immortality with everyone. 

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Saman is also pleased. "This is wonderful news. In the natural way of things I could expect to live at least 200 years longer than Erin. It would have been very lonely, I expect." 

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He nods.

"Have you been travelling together long?"

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She reaches out to set a hand on her brother's foreleg, "Since I was seventeen," she says, "Five years ago. But we also grew up together - or, I grew up with Sam. He's a few years older than I am." 

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"In that case, it should be pretty easy to heal him directly, once you have plants down."

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She smiles, "Oh, good." 

She looks back at the plant, "Should I try meditating on it, now? I'm sure I'm unlikely to manage it yet, but it couldn't hurt to try, while I cannot use my sorcery for anything else." 

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"If your magic is full, since there's no sense letting it go to waste.  If you have less than 4 hours of charge I'd recommend meditating with your power off."

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She checks; she has about five and a half hours. 

"I have enough," she says, moving around the fire to reach out for the pot. 

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