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Jul 05, 2020 6:20 AM
a Cameron is the demon lord
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Back on the road they go.

Ame continues to try to describe the meanings of incantation words to Elizabeth.

When her mana is full, Ame summons a second gallon-sized healing slime again. Is her mana holding steady against the drain, yet?

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It is not.

Elizabeth does not manage to cast Light by the time they get to a toll post that's maybe half a mile away from a wooden-walled town. Guards ask them to state their business.

"Journeyman travels, for me. Sorcery, ghyran focus. And Ame is heading far north, so we decided to travel together."

"The Lore of Life, eh? If you're any good at field blessings, my cousins have been wanting some."

"Everyone wants field blessings. What's the toll? Does it give us town entry as well?"

"Three copper per head. The same leaving, too."

"You should know we got ambushed by bandits a ways back. Four of them, led by a foreigner. Do the tolls go to keeping the road safe? Not exactly doing a great job, there."

The guard frowns a bit. "Well, yes, but also to maintaining it."

"Well, we got the leader but the other three seemed like idiots and they'll probably wander away from here. In light of that, don't you think a toll is unnecessary here?"

"...Tell me more about these bandits."

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Ame raises an eyebrow at 'you have to pay us to be allowed to exit this town'. What the hell kind of scum-sucking, self-destructive policy is that?

"Popped up on us with a crossbow and slings. Demanded our money or they'd kill us. I tried to get them to consider saner terms. The leader, name was Murko, didn't want to consider. He shot me with his crossbow. So we killed him and beat some sense into his stooges."

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"You're in awful good shape for having been shot by a crossbow."

"We're a Jade Sorceress and a summoner who has healing slimes, do the math*."

"...Right. We did have some reports of theft recently. People travelling alone and poorly armed getting hit. So they weren't a serious group. You'll swear you got their leader?"

"I swear upon the Light and my craft that the bandit leader who attacked us is dead, and I believe the others will not continue their ways around here. Does taking care of the bandit problem that you were apparently too lazy to go deal with yourselves give us anything. Like, say, a cash reward? Or at least exemption from tolls."

"...I can do exemption from this toll."

"Pfft. Another petty barony that doesn't know how to appreciate individuals with useful skills, huh?"

"Listen, I hear you, but they were small-time crooks and I'm just a grunt."

"Alright, alright. We're going to leave all the sooner if this is how we'll be treated, though."

Guard sighs. "Just move along, please, adventurers."

 

*"Look at the level difference."

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"Nice," Ame says, once they're out of earshot of the guards. "Jade Sorceress?"

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"Why, thank you. Each of the eight classical Winds has a colloquial name attached to it. Ghyran is 'jade', aqshy 'bright', ulgu 'shadow', chamon 'gold', hysh 'light', azyr 'astral', shyish 'amethyst', ghur 'amber'. The winds of dark and light aren't quite in the same category and don't have this little cultural quirk, and dhar definitely isn't. Idiots who cast with dhar get called 'dark sorcerers' a lot, but it's not the same thing as dark. Do you need background on the Winds' most common aspects?" 

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"Let's go with yes."

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"One sentence version for each. Jade magic is about plants and fertility and healing. Bright magic is about fire and creation and change. Shadow magic is about confusion, stealth, and mist. Gold magic is about metal and crafting. Light magic is about purity, clarity, certainty. Astral magic is about omens and prophecy, and also lightning. Amethyst magic is about death and... Cycles. Amber magic is about the wild, hunting, beasts. Light magic is very similar to hysh but is more about - boldness and selflessness and becoming your best self. Dark magic is sometimes associated with ghur, but is centrally selfish, associated with becoming your true self. Light and dark are a lot harder to use than the other eight."

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Ame hums, intrigued.

"And these are... naturally distinct fundamental forces. Not... schools of thought?"

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"Or so I was taught and everyone around me believed and all the books say!"

Elizabeth talks her way into the town itself, too, and the pair walk through paved streets in a sizable settlement. In the center of the town is a small castle. Near the castle is what is obviously a dungeon - built inside the town itself. It has its own, smaller set of fortifications, but the dungeon entrance is visible from the street. There are various businesses, a few government buildings, a split between apartment buildings and richer-looking standalone houses. It's laid out more 'conventionally' with many small buildings, as opposed to the large Clanhalls the other village had.

Entertainment business seems to be concentrated into one particular street, a bit off the main way, and 'adult' ones into one section of the one street. Bars and taverns, fighting clubs, a couple of gambling halls, what looks sort of like a tattoo place. And apparently a few sex shops and brothels, if the tastefully suggestive window advertisements are accurate. A fair few of them - not half, more like a quarter - are advertising men, not women. Also, Ame gets attention, which Elizabeth primly ignores.

Elizabeth asks passersby about inns until she hears a recommendation she deems acceptable by some mysterious criteria, and heads towards it. "I'm tired, and any bookstores or a library if there is one will be closed by now. I think we'll have to spend tomorrow in town."

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Ame has to pause for a moment, at the sight of the red light district. She finds herself quite unexpectedly Having Feelings about how... not-seedy, the sex shops and brothels look. The veneer might be a lie, but even if it is, the mere fact that there is incentive to tell that lie means... a lot.

She shakes off the weird mood and goes back to tracking all the attention she is getting for anything noteworthy, while also habitually meeting the lustful variety with various expressions of encouragement.

"You're almost certainly right. I won't argue."

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There is a set of people who aren't so polite as to wear a badge but still have a distinctive look - that particular shade of blue, perhaps - who are more likely to give her disapproving looks, and people seem vaguely annoyed at and vaguely afraid of them.

"If you want to hang around here you'd better get a room in the inn with me first. Unless you plan on finding your way into someone's bed. Inn rooms sell out sometimes."

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"I'll get a room with you. I might also find my way into someone's bed. I haven't decided which of those is the fallback plan, yet."

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They go to the inn. It's quiet and clean and humble. The rooms are fairly cheap - a few coppers, not silvers. Breakfast and laundry service is extra. Elizabeth asks for both and books a double room.

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Ame's feet don't hurt from walking, because she can just will the soreness away, but she will still flop on the bed to enjoy the softness. It's very rare that she gets to spend the night in an actual bed, so its always a bit of a treat.

"Hey, was it just me or was there a suspiciously common combination of glaring at us and a particular color of blue clothes?"

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"Probably Waltmanns? Ignore them, we'll be gone in two days."

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Ame makes a noncommittal noise.

After a little while, Ame unstraps her pack and gets up again. She leaves her pack and her sword and shield on the end table, but keeps her thigh-knives and her one currently-summoned slime with her.

"Wanna find dinner?"

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"I do need to eat, don't I? Eh, sure."

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The innkeeper mentioned breakfast, but not dinner. Presumably they'll have to leave the premises. Ame double-checks that the door to their room locks securely.

Was there a restaurant next door or anything? Ame will probably have to continue following Elizabeth's lead, on this.

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The inn room has a lock. Elizabeth just asks the innkeeper if she has food. "Bread 'n soup. One copper each," is the gruff answer.

"I don't really feel like getting groceries or going anywhere, Ame. Killing puts me in a bad mood. It's bread 'n soup for me."

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"Sounds good to me."

Ame gets out a copper for the innkeeper and sits down with Elizabeth to wait.

Hot soup and real bread is probably not considered much of a treat for most people, but its not the sort of thing one can shoplift or get out of a vending machine, so Ame is quite looking forward to it.

Once the soup is on the table and they've had a few bites / spoonfuls, Ame asks, "Want to talk about the killing thing?"

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"Is there anything to talk about? He was going to kill us. I saw the shyish pooling in him. It looks different when it's expecting to kill versus expecting to die."

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Ame shrugs.

"So the bad mood it puts you in is a magic thing? Or would it have helped if I'd done it myself?"

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"Sorta and no. I may kill in self defense but I don't have to be happy about it. Or being reminded of mortality."

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Ame nods, satisfied.

"Death itself isn't worse when you have a hand in it. But it isn't better either," she says, half to herself.

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