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Jul 04, 2020 10:48 AM
an Eelesia is the summoned hero
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Eefina gives him a friendly smile but doesn't interrupt his reading.

Nom! Multiple noms, even!

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The food is perfectly adequate. Book guy puts a bookmark in and shuts his book after a while, and goes to get more food, then comes back and keeps eating. Students come and go. Someone announces that they're putting up the food in five minutes.

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In that case, Eefina will head back to her dorm, pick another textbook at random, and read until she falls asleep.

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This textbook outlines the history of this region of the world over the last several thousand years in broad strokes. There are a lot of little kingdoms that rise and fall with some regularity. Coastal trading cities, and cities with deep high-level dungeons tend to end up powerful and influential because trade and big dungeons both bring immense wealth. The Adventurer's Guild has a complex relationship with ordinary states and a lot of soft power in most nations. The Red Waste is a blight upon the land brought about by a past Demon Lord, called "The Corrosive". No efforts to undo it have ever worked, and some have actually made things worse.

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Eefina re-reads the part on the Red Wastes a couple of times before finally falling asleep.

Sunrise wakes her the next morning, a novel if unappreciated experience. She forgot to close the curtains. But since she's up anyway she can go explore the Academy grounds for a little while!

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Academy grounds has: People walking through the gardens! People playing sports in the squares! A group of long-eared slim people singing and it's actually kind of hauntingly beautiful! A short, broad, very long-bearded man standing on a podium giving some kind of speech, the gist of which seems to be complaining about certain taxes!

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Ooh, she really wants to stay and listen to the singing, but actually she probably needs to hear what the short bearded man is saying about taxes, considering.

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"It's as clear as a faultline that the tariffs are specifically targeted against stonework, metals, and clockwork - all products that the Dwarves of the Rotula region have specialized in for millennia! I call for an end of this blatant targeting of my people. An end to the bad-faith dealings and petty merchant politics. Remember the theft of Clan Gartow's Hold! A dishonorable judgement by a clearly non-impartial judge called in the clan's debts eight years too early - and when the envoy, Thank Hoki Gartow, politely brought up the original contract in the Court of Commerce, they summarily dismissed him! The contract was altered after the fact - a most dishonorable action! Land and wealth stolen from dwarves by one act of legal trickery or another, and these tariffs are just the latest instance of the pattern. Listen to me, fellow students - I urge you all to call for fairness and transparency in trade policy!"

He continues in this vein, with lots of examples of past evils done to Dwarves, for a while unless interrupted.

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Not as useful as she might have hoped, but its always good to have more context.

Eefina waits for an opportune moment, then calls out, "Who would we call to? Who decides such policies who would listen?"

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"I ask you to bring your concerns about unclear, unfair, or too-quickly-changing trade policies and tariffs to the administrative agency for trade, the Court of Commerce, as well as the most powerful assemblies of Rotula the city and Rotula Omali the state - those being the Sea Council and the House of Lords, respectively."

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Well that's frustratingly lacking in specificity.

Still... perhaps Eefina will go and see if there are any convenient (and recent) compendiums about the Court of Commerce, the Sea Council, or the House of Lords available in the library she now has access to.

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There are civics textbooks that talk about all these bodies! The House of Lords consists of every noble in the land, with varying numbers of votes given to the higher ranking houses. The Sea Council is elected by the powerful and rich people and Guilds of the city in an elaborate and confusing process. Together they rule the region. There's no king - merely a Grand Duke, who is elected by the other nobles and acts like a king until his death, when another election happens. The Court of Commerce is appointed by the Sea Council.  There are news archives that talk about recent appointments and decisions of the Court of Commerce! There's political gossip about which houses and power blocs are in favor! Julius Salvatore is apparently among the 'cancellists' faction, those who just want everything to stay the same and to pocket the profits they're making.

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This is so unlike her own society! Or even any of the Arcadian civilizations she's studied, with perhaps the exception of Nasrad.

Okay, focus.

What else can Eefina find out about Julius Salvatore, the cancellists, and any competing factions? What else can she find out about recent appointments and decisions in the Court of Commerce? And most of all, can she spot any connections between the two?

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Julius Salvatore is one of their biggest names. The competing factions are the Economists, who want to promote new industry and trade, and the Seafarers who want to pour huge amounts of money into a bigger navy. The Court of Commerce's recent actions apparently require a higher level than 0 in Political Analysis to find such connections, if there are any. The recent rulings and judgements don't seem to have much to do with the Cancellists' agenda at first glance, and there's a lot of context and referring to previous rulings and the like.

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...this is worth the time. Eefina skips her trip to the dungeon today to keep reading, looking up these previous rulings in an ever-growing series of back-chaining until she has full sequences of events that she can follow forwards from beginning to end, and then cross-reference.

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It's a mind-boggling mire of complexity, and information on recent events and schemes is much harder to find, but the archives can be used to piece together the general shape of how politics operates here, historically. It eventually becomes clear that the Cancellists have been on the rise for a while, and seem to use a strategy of needlessly complicated laws and regulations to prevent the other factions from taking substantial action. Over time the factions change and their goals and labels shift - the Centralists sought to reduce the autonomy of the other towns and villages Rotula Omali controls, and eventually morphed into the Conquerers, and then their current form in the Seafarers. The Economists nearly had a schism a while ago over something to do with the way money is stored and handled and moved.

The intrigues of the House of Lords cross over into the story at points, with a standout example being a prominent Seafarer family heir marrying an Economist family's daughter and this was frightening to the Cancellists so they got more aggressive about it. Affairs in other countries come into it too - this move seems kind of stupid, but in hindsight was clearly engineered to make sure the best sailors and shipmakers stay in Rotula instead of migrating to their rivals in other nations.

The Adventurer's Guild is famously neutral, taking bribes from all three factions to stay neutral and never actually siding with any of them. The Academy, too, is a player in this political scene. While not nearly as strong as the Adventurer's Guild, they're also far less neutral, and have been favoring the Economists lately. And with all the factions, money and high-level supporters are the two things that really support their power. The poor and low-level masses rarely enter the considerations of the halls of power.

She doesn't learn much about current events or recent intrigues, but from the general pattern the thing that got her attention - arcane restrictions on the sale of land and real estate - is probably part of the Cancellists' general obstruction strategy, to make it harder for the other factions to advance their goals and keep things the same as much as possible.

Also, she gained a Skill or two somewhere in her binge reading.

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Gaining a Skill is still weird to experience, but also nifty and useful!

So, her jailed acquaintance was collateral damage in a deliberate trap meant to paralyze the state of the economic situation. That's disquieting. The cancellists sound like short-sighted fools, hoarding air from the hab-repair specialists, so to speak.

This is definitely a bigger problem than one woman's unjust imprisonment, and she...

...what time is it? Oh crap, her first class is in less than an hour and she hasn't even had breakfast. She does her best to clean up her research and then go freshen up herself before collecting her class materials and finding the classroom. She's going to need all the Skills she can get.

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The librarians will clean up her books for her since she's been careful not to damage them and that's literally their job.

The first class she has today is 'fundamentals of sorcery - theory and cantrips'. The classroom is probably in this building? Yes, there it is. She has to nudge her student ID against the door to get it to open.

The teacher is a grey-haired and serious-looking woman, who was drawing an eight-sectioned diagram on the board at the front of the room. It's a small auditorium, with multiple tiers of desks, and only a few are still open. The other students are mostly a bit younger than her, chatting with each other. One of them smiles at her and moves his backpack off the desk to his right, then indicates the now-open spot next to him.

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Eefina takes the offered seat with a smile.

"Hi. Thanks."

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"Hi. Welcome to class. The basics of the basics, but we'll move on soon enough, hopefully." He seems a bit nervous.

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Nervous, huh? About class? Or about something else? Or is it her?

Eefina does her best to be agreeably disarming. "I hope so too! But sometimes there can be a beauty in the basics of the basics. I think this'll be interesting!"

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"I hope so. I think sorcery sounds right for me but you never know until later if something really suits you, you know?"

The teacher looks like she's almost finished with the diagram.

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"Yeah," Eefina agrees. "I thought I'd be terrible at bojutsu before I tried it and it turned out that it came to me super easy."

Her attention is caught by the diagram, and she tries to understand what she can see even before the teacher starts explaining it.

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"They say sorcery's safer than adventuring but not by that much... It's a great career if you get good at it, though. I think I'll like chamon."

The diagram is an eight-sectioned wheel with little cutouts at the top and bottom. Given that ghur is written in one of the sections, ghyran and chamon on two others, and it says WINDS OF MAGIC across the top, the teacher probably intends to explain the Winds of Magic.

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Eefina is ready to absorb knowledge!

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