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Jun 24, 2021 5:33 PM
Actana summons from Murune
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Pherikles turns to the scale-skin person who nods.

"Let him go." Orders with a shrug.

The air shimmers with an effect similar to glass. Except without the part where there is a solid object.

"You can leave the circle now. Follow me?"

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Yeah, he follows.

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He leads Raen out of the room and across a corridor and then to another room with a large window and some cushions.

The windows show a lush green garden, gray mountains and a dark planet above them all.

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Contrary to his earlier statement about likely having questions, he hasn't actually thought of any.  He takes a look out of the window, then finds a good place to sit.

"You have questions about Tle?"

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"Yes, primarily, if it can take a few thousand refugees. How safe it is. How resourceful it is. Local dangers. And so on."

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"A few thousand refugees is no problem.  Most of the land is empty, especially the temperate regions.  Dryad Groves can also hold a lot more people than they do, though you'd have to take it up with them - most of them follow Diamondeye to some extent but I don't have any actual authority over them.  

"Safety and dangers... I don't have anything to compare it with.  People aren't afraid to leave their homes, and it's safer than its ever been in the 2000 years I've been alive.  The surface at least doesn't have any wars, though I don't know much about the merfolk.  There are tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and so on in certain places.  Back before the planet was as empty as it was, people still lived there and just built strong enough to weather them or rebuilt a few houses now and then.

"The biggest disasters in our history was 400 years ago.  There used to be a magic called wizardry, which gave the users a small amount of mana constantly over time, then let them do near-arbitrary things with it.  A group figured out an exploit that let them have as much mana as they wanted, and they tried a ritual to kill a particular subgroup of humans who had pale hair instead of dark.  Instead, the magic misfired and killed all human women.  Humanity survives through throwbacks from half-human hybrids, but we're very much the minority compared to the other three species now.  Wizardry itself was destroyed, as were several other magic systems, and possibly a number of the gods."

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Pherikles starts taking notes. "We might have more survivors, but I don't think that the survivors reach a hundred thousand even if I try to be extremely optimistic about it. Those sound like relatively normal dangers."

"Are humans and non-human relations good then? No major war or strife that might force outsiders to take sides?"

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"Merfolk traditionally haven't gotten along with humans.  Lisship Ocean in particular sinks any boats they see.  Beyond that there hasn't been many ways to interact, since they can't go on land.  Most of the hostility is due to the gods declaring that humans and merfolk aren't allowed to interact, and merfolk fighting back against actions they see as humans invading their territory.  I don't know the reason for the ban, and I've shapeshifted and lived among them before."

"Solon are hard to live in the same city as, but are good neighbors for trade.  They're very... polite?  But also exacting.  Their society has a lot of rules and taboos, and harsh penalties for breaking them.  Solon are descended from the refugees that came from MuurKari 400 years ago.  They've integrated their half-human hybrids and throwbacks into a caste-like system.  The throwbacks call themselves 'striders' and choose to consider themselves as a caste of solon rather than human, and do creche management.  They claim all tropical freshwater swamps and sufficiently wet rainforest.

"The first dryads were found and raised by the last humans, and revere them.  Much of their current resources are spent sending people out on archaeological digs, to preserve as much of the past as they can.  When a dryad gets too big to keep moving around, they return to a Grove and graft themselves to a side to become a wall of a building or something, and join the large hivemind that rules the area.  Some humans live there, if they're willing to follow the Grove's rule and don't mind the lack of privacy from the frame of their house being sapient.  I suspect they'll be very interested in taking in refugees and providing support."

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"Do you expect merfolk to have a problem with nonhumans? We have a set of people that are amphibious or just aquatic. What do Solons and Dryads look like?

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"I wouldn't know.  Probably depends on whether they have humanish legs or not, though it'd also vary from country to country.

"Solon are 9 foot tall bipeds with 3 sets of tentacles where a human's arms would be.  Long pointy ears, external strands of gills instead of hair.  Hermaphroditic - defaulting to male but switching to female briefly every few years to lay eggs.  Half solon have 1 set of arms and 1 set of tentacles, and are only about as tall as I am."  He sounds mildly put out that everyone has wound up as-tall-or-taller than him.  7'5" used to be tall.  

"Dryads look like they're made of wood, but it's a flexible unsupported muscle system.  Like octopus, if you have those?  They build artificial chassis in the shape of human women which they fit themselves into and operate as if it's a skeletal system and they're the muscles.  They have leaves, which they can see out of via some kind of inherent magic, and also photosynthesize with.  A young dryad is 4 or 5 feet tall, and keep rebuilding or replacing chassis when they outgrow them.  The tallest are about 15 feet tall.  Nearly all take humanoid shapes, but there are a few who build animal chassis or grow themselves into cars."

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Interesting. "Do the chassis look human like or are they just human shaped? What are they made out of?"

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"Human-shaped.  They're made of rigid pieces with joints, and have lots of gaps for the leaves to poke through for light.  Their branches aren't fine enough to handle facial expressions.  Metal, plastic, wood, porcelain, leather, glass, bone... each chassis is considered an individual artwork, and they try to make them each unique."

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Nod. "Are those all the intelligent species you know of? Or just the relevant ones? We have a total of nine kinds of people, not counting hybrids and unique kinds."

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"I remember there being a species in The Vault - an underground world where Diamondeye collects species which have died out elsewhere.  I don't remember anything about them other than that they were small.  The gods implied there are people on the moons of Netarin.  Netarin being the third planet in our system, after MuurKari and Tle.  If there are, they probably wouldn't be the species we know of.  We don't have any way of checking.

"Human, merfolk, solon, and dryads are the only mortal species on Tle's surface."

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Pherikles nods. "On our side we have humans - given the translation there shouldn't be major differences - plus eight magical species, spirits, dragons, thunderbird, phoenixes, unicorns, sea serpents, faen and giants. The last two are humanoid and natively reproduce with humans, plus sea serpents and dragons sometimes have shapeshifting and that lets them reproduce with more things. I am myself a part-dragon part-giant."

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"We have a non-sapient group of animals called dragons.  Or your translator is translating it as dragon."  It hadn't occurred to him to wonder about the language before.  

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Pherikles gets a distant look. "Oh, I see. The ambient translation is weak enough that it will get near-ish concepts even if there are major divergences like that. I have a better version," he explains "that lets me poke at things if I actively go look for them. Our dragons are very much people, they are just natively shaped like winged reptiles often too big to fit a room like this."

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"I spent a while shapeshifted as one of the larger varieties before.  Ours are reptilian and winged, but not much larger than an elephant."  He glances around the room, judging the size.  "Dragon monsters can be building-sized, and were one of the more common types back when the gods would have children more often."

Can he notice the translation effect if he listens for it?  

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"Dragons and part dragons never stop growing. Though they do eventually die of old age."

He can't notice anything particular about the translation effect. Pherikles himself pokes at it. "With 'monsters' you mean half-god animals?"

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"Yes.  They're sentient.  Whether or not their friendly depends on their upbringing."  Gods are not very parental to their offspring.

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Pherikles nods. And makes a face. "Gods or the entities that called themselves such didn't do that. But some shapeshifters I mentioned sometimes do... and sometimes the Faen have animal parts and are... capable." He clearly doesn't like the topic. "We might be able to reach the other planets and other moons." He says mostly to change the topic.

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"That could be interesting.  We have information about MuurKari brought down from the refugees, but it would be nice to get into contact with the ones from the Light Islands that didn't go out.  And see the Netarin Moons."

"MuurKari is airless on the surface, but has an air-filled cave system underground.  To provide light to keep plants alive, the gods planted magic trees in the underground lakes.  The leaves give off purple light and constantly drip water down as rain.  Some of them died, when the Wizardry Disaster disrupted magic, but some are still around."

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"Sounds like an interesting project for the future. We can also access other worlds, we just have not refined the process yet. Which is why resorted to taking people like we did to you. I understand that you're powerful but how much political authority do you have? If any?"

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"Nothing political.  Being Champion means I have control over Diamondeye's religion outside of The Vault, but we don't run any theocracies."

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"I see. Are you capable of doing introductions in case we need those?"

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