Jul 05, 2020 6:07 AM
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There is a small room, originally intended to be a supply closet of some kind, currently serving as the apartment of last resort for this human teenager. There's no furniture; all his possessions are sitting either on or beneath the folded quilt on the floor. In one corner is a pile of necklaces of coins whose colors change constantly by magic. The one tall, narrow window looks out on a city of mostly four- and five-story buildings painted to look vaguely reminiscent of a forest.

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Now there is a pretty, slightly grey lady with silver hair, ragged clothes, and a very, very ugly baby, also here! She doesn't know where she is but fortunately she can read minds.

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He demands to know what she's doing in his apartment. Loudly.

He is terrified of anyone hostile enough to break in and capable of getting in by magic, but maybe shouting at her angrily will hide that, and either way he's ready to turn her into a statue if necessary.

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WOW she doesn't want to be a statue! Suppose she starts singing a pretty lullaby. It's so soothing. Soooooo sooooooothing. She doesn't know exactly how she got here either so she can hardly calm him down with her perfectly rational explanation.

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...Okay... a bad thing is happening and he's finding it hard to care... that should be concerning but what if he sits back down anyway...

Is this some kind of sleep thing? That's almost definitely illegal but that's the least important implication here...

Right, threatening stranger, very important, he cared about that a minute ago and he's going to care again in another minute. "Explain yourself or leave."

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She tries the door, stil singing. It's pretty, she's got a great voice. The ugly baby is falling asleep on her shoulder where she has a waterfall of circular brands pouring down her arm.

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The door locks from the inside but this is the inside. It's also held in place by magic but her host unsticks it with a thought as soon as it's obvious she's going to leave.

Outside is a hallway. The hallway has nothing to recommend it except the lack of shouting people and not being Angband. There are several other doors, and there are stairs both up and down.

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She doesn't think to close the door. Her voice drops to just a hum as she tries the stairs down.

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The next floor down has another hallway with more doors and different decor. The one below it has a door that leads out of the building. Heading up the stairs, meanwhile, is a very large cat with unnaturally colored fur and what might be described as a messenger bag. The cat assumes Beka is an especially unusual member of a local species and wonders if she's just moved here.

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What an interesting sort of person! Hi! I'm new here. I don't live in this building.

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The cat is briefly alarmed, then concludes Beka is just an illusion mage and not some kind of alien with alien telepathy magic. If she's telling people she's new to Thelm Ret, she's probably looking for information. (It has not occurred to the cat that she's new to the Empire, let alone the entire universe. She must mean this town.)

"Well, for a few rings I can answer a few questions."

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Rings?

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Oh, probably Hari isn't her first language.

"Rings. You know, the things you give people in exchange for food or an apartment. They change color." The imperial currency of the Hari Empire. The cat's mental picture looks a bit like the necklaces of coins that were in that tiny apartment. That Beka might not know what rings are does not occur to them.

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Oh. Uh, no thanks. She will just keep going down the stairs and try to figure out what she needs to know by reading thoughts instead.

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There's no one else perceptible to osanwe in the building, but outside the city's full of people running errands. Some large fraction of them are imperceptible to osanwe but that still leaves lots of thoughts.

Someone thinks it's a ripoff how expensive fish is this far inland; someone is thinking about the preservation spells they're taking off fruits as they sell them; someone is annoyed about how many people in the city speak Hari and vaguely wants to strangle that guy in the free language lesson; multiple different people are vaguely uneasy about the big cats; this snake wants to hire someone with hands to carry some things...

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Huh! She has hands. She goes up to the snake and has them in front of it, baby stuffed into her shirt and peeking out the neckline. Seems like people here don't have osanwë usually and might like orcs not like the reminder so she'll see if that'll do.

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Then the snake will offer her a job moving these items into a building and if she does that she can take these rings with her afterward. It's not a big job and not worth a lot of rings but it's enough that she could get some fruit or something.

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She will haul the items into the building and take the rings! She has pockets and puts them in the one that doesn't have holes. The baby's not too hungry yet. She strikes off down the street with a bounce in her step, listening to everybody she can, looking at all the bright pretty things.

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Relative to what she's used to there are a lot of bright and pretty things indeed. There's a whole open-air market where she could buy fruits (these ones are imported from the south over the mountains) or meat or blood or honey (these tiny birds selling the honey it made it themselves) or slaves or jewelry (enchanted or blank), or hire a mage to do a spell (they're the ones displaying the symbols for different kinds of magic, all the passers-by know which symbols mean what). Most people here are less devoted to being art than Beka but a lot of them have changed their fur color or are wearing colorful symbols or jewelry.

There's someone hoping no one will bother to wonder what kind of mage he is if he just never mentions it; there's someone heading down to the park over that way; someone for sale is crushingly afraid; a child wearing gold bracelets and skipping is happy it's a sunny day.

The person whose apartment she appeared in is watching her and not trying to hide it. That's a rude thing to do here, but then, so is trespassing.

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She tries to figure out the symbols. She can read Quenya but that's all. It seems like it will be useful to pick things up here. Why is the person from the apartment watching her?

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She can catch someone thinking about how this is the symbol for the kind of magic that transmutes elements and that's the symbol for illusions and this one is for scrying and finding things out...

The person from the apartment is pretty angry about being put under some kind of mind-altering spell and has thought about reporting her but since it involved alien magic and wasn't in public where it'd be easy to scry they might not believe him. Maybe if she's provoked in public they'll do something. Or maybe she's just going to go about her business and not hurt anyone else, which would be good but he's not counting on it. And if the imperial government doesn't end up getting involved, then he's not sure how to make sure she doesn't think she can get away with this. He wants to know what she's up to and wants her to know someone is watching her. Also, she's definitely some kind of alien, and he's curious about her alien magic and where she's from.

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I didn't hurt you at all! You were going to turn me into a statue.

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How the fuck does she know... oh, she's telepathic, that's bad but he can probably ward against it, he'll try that in a minute.

But first: What do you want? Can you understand me asking like this?

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I understand you. I dunno the language here but I can read you. I won't be able to talk to you if you do the thing though. I just wanna not be where I came from and keep my baby.

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Well, you're not where you came from, and it sure looks like you have a baby. And it would be a lot less conspicuous if she'd put bracelets on the baby. And if the baby didn't look like that.  Does anyone else know you can read minds?

He's wondering whether to offer her a job. He hasn't decided whether that seems like a safe idea or how he'd use a mind-reader if he had one but there's probably something she can do...

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Everybody where I came from? And you? What are bracelets for?

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