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Sep 28, 2020 9:39 PM
vanyel meets sad cam in milliways
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Herald Vanyel Ashkevron, Demonsbane, Hero of Stony Tor, is hiding from his mother.

Everyone avoids the family chapel since the, er, incident with the priest. Father’s never been very pious anyway. Mother is superstitious, and her son having nearly been murdered on the threshold is a particularly blatant omen. Vanyel doesn’t mind, he gets nearly-murdered constantly, but it's the last place anyone will look for him. He can make it across the courtyard without anyone seeing him and shut the door firmly behind him, leaning against it to catch his breath.

It’s a while before he opens his eyes and notices, with a bolt of alarm, that 1) he can no longer sense Yfandes at all, and 2) this is most definitely not the interior of his parents’ chapel, unless they’ve done some major renovations since his last visit.

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It is instead a pleasant, unattended bar;

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with explosions visible out the window dominating the wall to his left;

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and a winged person, with a tail hanging down over the seat behind him, nursing some sort of hot beverage.

He turns his head.

"Hi."

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It’s a good thing for mysterious-winged-person that the war ended two years ago, because Vanyel fresh off a battlefield might have set the bar on fire out of instinct.

As it is, he’s got his shields up and Othersenses on alert, power crackling at his fingertips, before the harmlessness of the surroundings registers. He awkwardly lowers his arms. “Excuse me, why are you in my...“ back up and start over, “sorry, actually, where are we?”

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"Place is called Milliways. Bar's a person who communicates by napkin, if you close the door you stop time whence you came, people apparently come in through lots of universes. What's yours like?"

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Vanyel stares at the winged person for ten seconds while his mind churns and gets stuck on: alarm, confusion, disbelief, more confusion but this time with a burning itch to resolve it.

Person with wings. Room where there shouldn't be one. Which stops time on the outside? Bar that...communicates...via napkins?

"Er," he says finally, "can I test that? Is anything bad going to happen if I open and close the door quickly a few times? Also what are the explosions over there and are they dangerous?" The stranger doesn't seem worried but there are plenty of situations where Vanyel would be unconcerned when an ordinary un-Gifted person ought to be panicking. 

Belatedly, his manners catch up. "My name is Vanyel. Pleased to meet you. My world is... I'm not sure what the relevant parts are to describe. It has magic? People can have various Gifts that let them use it in different ways. What's your world like?" 

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"I think the test is fine as long as you're on this side; door reverts to normal if you're on the other. Explosions are stars blowing up which is normally dangerous but the danger's not getting through the window. I'm Cam. Uh, where I've been lately and where I live where I'm at home and where I'm originally from are all three different worlds so it's kind of a long story."

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"Um, right." Vanyel is slightly reassured; 'stars blowing up' is more alarming than generic explosions but Cam is very un-alarmed. "I'm curious to hear the long story but...maybe not right now, I'm adjusting. I want to be on this side anyway because the thing I'm testing is the time-stopping." 

(If time does stop outside when he's in here – which is one of the less impossible-seeming pieces, given his experience with the Shadow-Lover's realm – then he doesn't care whether Cam is telling the truth about anything else, he's going to stay and hear out the long story. And then maybe stay for another week or two until he feels ready to cope with his family.)

He opens the door, glances around to make sure the courtyard is still empty, and then uses Fetching to snatch a hand-sized rock from the nearby ornamental garden. He balances it in his hand, tosses it high into the air, and slams the door shut before it can fall. 

"Now I guess I wait for a minute." He tries to smile at Cam. "That was an example of magic in my world. It's called Fetching and it's one of my Gifts, it can move objects. Hmm, actually, I wonder if it works in here?" 

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Cam tosses a Koosh ball that didn't exist a second ago at him.

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Vanyel flings up a hand and the ball disappears in a puff of flame. 

"Oh gods I'm so sorry, I didn't – you startled me, I didn't mean..." Vanyel brings a hand to his forehead. "That was really rude, I'm sorry, but – I would appreciate it if you didn't do things that surprise me – there was a war back home, it's been a while and I'm better about not being jumpy. But, um, I'm sort of on edge because this entire place is surprising. Sorry." 

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"Oh. Uh, sorry. I'll try to be... unsurprising. Or, uh, at least not startling."

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"It's not your fault. Um, that was a different kind of magic that my world has." Vanyel stands awkwardly for a moment, and then remembers the convenient distraction of his test. He opens the door again and scans for the rock (which ought to definitely be on the ground by now is time isn't stopped.) 

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The rock clunks to the ground before his eyes.

"Yeah, the kind of magical creature I am can make stuff," says Cam.

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Vanyel closes the door, goes to the bar, and sits down. He'd want to do more experiments to confirm time is stopped and not merely slowed before, say, sleeping overnight here, but he's convinced enough that no one will bother him or start to worry for a candlemark or two. 

It's a giddy feeling. He hasn't had this kind of completely-unpressured time off since the incident with the family priest and accompanying visit to the Shadow-Lover. 

"Make stuff?" he says. "I don't think our world has any Gifts that can exactly do that. Any kind of stuff? Does it need to be made out of some kind of raw material? Is it tiring for you or can you do as much as you like?"

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"There are things I can't make but they all one way or another don't fall under the most basic definition of 'stuff' - I don't know what level of scientific understanding you're coming from. It's not made of anything. I can do it as much as I like. What kinds of things do Gifts do?"

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Vanyel's mind is tallying up a list of implications. Level of scientific understanding – of course if he's ended up in a place outside time, with a person who's had access to multiple worlds, some of them will be more advanced, that part is fascinating and he wants to know everything right now but one thing at a time. The ramifications of 'can make arbitrary stuff' are also...absurdly important, actually, if he can persuade Cam to help out with some specific problems. 

Gifts, though. 

"A wide range of things," he says. "I guess mage-gift is the most versatile. I have it. It can...explode things, very effectively. Make shields, against physical attacks or magic. Make durable artifacts with various purposes. Illusions. Instantaneous long-distance transport, although that one is very costly. Pave roads – I do a lot of that. And a mage can imitate most of the other Gifts, with enough technique." 

Pause to think. "Most people have fewer Gifts than I do, usually it's one or two. Other Gifts are... There's Fetching, which you saw. Mindspeech and Empathy are pretty important Gifts; I can read thoughts and also project my thoughts to other Mindspeakers. We use it for long-range communication in the kingdom where I live. Empathy can read emotions and project them. Farsight observes things at a distance. Foresight lets you see the future and there are two types. Short-range shows events minutes to candlemarks in the future; long-range is what I have, it usually comes as a metaphorical vision of events a long time in the future. Firestarting is exactly what it sounds like, I have it but pretty weakly so I tend to just use mage-energy if I need something on fire. Bardic Gift – somewhat like Projective Empathy, but specifically for music, can cause an audience to experience things. Healing can, well, heal people. Mindhealing is...complicated. Mostly what it sounds like. It's really rare and I don't have it. Animal Mindspeech is the other repeatable Gift I don't have." 

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"I'd rather you never read my thoughts or emotions, please. Or did anything to them. Ever. Please.

"None of those do the thing I'm waiting here looking for, sounds like."

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“Noted. Just so you know, that is the kind of thing that we considered very unethical to do without consent, so I wouldn’t do it anyway.”

Vanyel frowns. “I mean. I am considered to be...someone who’s willing to do some unethical things. But I swear that I haven’t read your thoughts or emotions, or done anything to them, and I’ll make sure to shield while I’m here so I don’t pick up anything by accident.”

He hesitates. “Er, I can’t imagine how I would end up in a situation where I needed to read your thoughts in order to save the lives of half a million people in expectation and there wasn’t time to ask permission. That’s the only circumstance I can imagine where I would consider doing it non-consensually, and if you’re telling me that you still wouldn’t be okay with it, then...I can promise that I wouldn’t do it even then. Anyway. What is the thing that you’re looking for?”

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"...uh, I don't actually require you to draw the line as high as half a million. Like... one person would probably be plenty if you were actually really sure and it wasn't a really major violation, though I don't see how it'd come up.

"I want to resurrect some people."

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Vanyel relaxes. “That’s, er, good to know - it’s not a promise I would prefer to make, all else equal, but I’ve learned the importance of respecting other people’s bright lines, and staying on friendly terms with the first person I’ve met from another world is worth a lot.”

He takes a deep breath, re-settling himself. “What, um, happened to the people you’re trying to resurrect? I might know someone who could help. Who could plausibly resurrect people in my world, at least, and who I’m...on friendly terms with.” It’s a strange way to describe his relationship with the literal god of Death but it isn’t false.

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"Uh.

The entire planet they were standing on was destroyed."

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“Oh. Gods.” That is so much worse than Vanyel thought an answer to that question could possibly be, but he’s relaxed enough that he manages not to instinctively knock over his stool or, fortunately, set anything on fire. “I’m - that’s - I’m so sorry. That’s awful. How? There’s somewhere that has weapons...magic...? that can destroy a planet?” 

The thought flashes through Vanyel’s mind that maybe he should bolt out and slam the door, no matter how interesting or potentially valuable as an ally Cam is, because as long as he’s on this side, and this place is a crossroads of some kind for other worlds, said weapon has a potential path to his world.

He decides against. More important to hear the rest. He can always run away screaming at a later point.

“Was it your world?” he adds, weakly. “Your home one, I mean.”

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"No, it wasn't mine.

"I put it back. I can put most of the people back too but not all of them."

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“Right. Making stuff. Useful.” Vanyel has about a thousand questions, mostly about the ‘can put most of the people back’, but, looking at Cam’s face, decides not to press.

“The...person...I mentioned,” he says finally. “Actually the avatar of a god. Of Death. We call him the Shadow-Lover. It’s a long story, but I have a bad habit of doing things that would get me killed, and then I end up in his realm and we talk and he sends me back. I’m pretty sure he could do it for people who’d been dead, er, longer, if he had a place to put them. In my world, anyway. Not sure he could do it outside of my world, but...I would ask. For this. Since I assume it’s a lot of people and that’d be worth it.”

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"It's about a million of the species I can't put back. I... kind of doubt an extradimensional god of death can finagle it but I wouldn't tell you not to check, if you can."

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