He's angry at Wilem and he's angry at Sim. He'd lost a little more at corners than he had intended to, and he decides to try and play for Auri. It is no use heading for the fishery like this: Kilvin would hopefully send him back before he broke something, even with his fingers. He doesn't see her on the roof, so he tries down below, in her secret passageways. One door, then another, and that one seems awful strange. Almost like the stones are...glowing? It should be interesting, if nothing else. He heads inside.
He doesn't know what to think of their medical treatment: who knows how long they would live without it? They seem to do more complicated procedures than anyone in Medica can manage. The printing press is ingenious: something that could operate faster than the entire scriptorium. Refrigeration sounds less convenient: that might be one thing his world could trade. It is when the explanation comes to the internet that he realizes that he is confused. "Wait, how do you make sygaldry do that?"
"I have no idea what sygaldry is."
He pauses, and thinks carefully before speaking. "The use of written shapes to transform heat into kinetic energy, bind two objects together, or connect them so that motion in one causes motion in the other, even if they are far apart, among other tasks. It is the term I would use for how your refrigerators and cars work."
"That is a trait of your world but not of ours. Ours function on... scientific principles? Following the same natural laws that apply to trees and mountains and lightning? We do have magic, but only those humans descended from nonhumans can do it, and it mostly works by extremely stupid rhymes."
No sygaldry? He focuses his Alar as hard as he can, and makes a link between the fabric of two of his pockets, and pushes one. It should be a one quarter link, a tenth at worst.
OK, sympathy at least functions. He feels the resistance of the second pocket, and sees it push out. "Sympathy works just fine. Not sure about sygaldry yet, but they rely on the same principles. I don't know what you mean by natural laws: a certain number of thaums sets a candle aflame whether you use sympathy or sygaldry or heat the air directly. Namers don't need kinetic force like ordinary sympathists: they might do something differently from how lightning works. Who are non-humans?" He's worried about translation: depending on his language, that may or may not include the Edema Ruh.
"World travelers usually carry their magic with them. If there's a visitor from Wonderland, for example, they can create infinite clean dishes by sitting at a set circular table and moving one down whenever they dirty a set. It's rather convenient. --There are many many kinds of nonhuman. The ones you're most likely to run into are sapient animals. Being around Auradonians makes animals as smart as humans, although they still can't talk. There are also fairies and gods and trolls and mermaids and dwarves and a bunch of other kinds."
"That sounds...convenient. I suppose this is part of how you get heroes, then. Unique magics." He pauses. "I'm not sure that what you mean by gods and faeries is the same thing that I would mean by them. What are dwarves?"
"Fairies are powerfully magical and psychologically alien-- some of them care about being as evil as possible, some of them care about music, some of them care about politeness, some of them are just really into one specific river. Even the most human ones are... not very human. Gods are-- the grandchildren or sometimes great-grandchildren of the creator, they're very powerful and immortal and they've assigned themselves responsibility for various aspects of the world and they're... honestly rather too human, overgrown and easily offended children with lightning bolts. Dwarves are short and have a particular talent for mining."
He laughs. "I think I will try to avoid the first two. How well I succeed may be a different matter: my good intentions do not always manifest themselves as easily as I would wish. I think I begin to see why your world trains heroes by the schoolful."
(Asher is occasionally amusing himself during this conversation by walking on his hands, or backflipping over convenient poles, or jumping on and off short walls.)
"That's wise. I would also advise keeping your magic to yourself, at least for a while-- magic is illegal unless specifically permitted by King Ben, and the only use of magic he has permitted to every magic-user is contraception."
Kvothe carefully does no such thing. He has his lute on his back, after all. "I wouldn't even be willing to make a contraceptive potion, right now. I'm used to the plants from my world. At first I thought your grass was different because I'm far away from home, but it is an entirely different species, isn't it?"
"Well, I'm not sure, because all I know about your world is what you've told me, but it seems likely? Species sometimes match up across worlds but not always, and even when they match it is often in strange ways."
"OK. Absolutely no contraceptive potions unless the ones I make are dramatically better than the local variety and I can pay some volunteers for possibly dangerous testing first." He's reasonably confident his status will be outsider, something he's familiar with at least. It is still better than nonhuman.
"Seems unlikely. Ours works perfectly with no side effects. The main issue is that to get it put on or reversed you have to find a part-fairy and not a lot of part-fairies want to go out on circuit to remote areas."
"Well, that's impressive. No side effects at all, even in rare cases?" He whistles, "So why can cars be imported, but sygaldry can't be? You say that one's magic but the other isn't. I'm no real alchemist, but they tell me that what they do is magic, which I take to mean it wouldn't work here, since it isn't rhyming and doesn't require descent, thankfully. But what makes something magic or not?"
"--It's an interesting question, and it's complicated by the fact that the laws of physics might be different in your world. In Wonderland, for example, two and two sometimes add up to seven. I'm tempted to answer it by offering you a science textbook. It's also possible we're talking past each other, of course." He considers the question. "So the way that cars work is that you light a certain kind of oil on fire, which makes a small contained explosion, which pushes a piston, which turns a wheel. And-- humans aren't really involved anywhere in that process? We designed it, of course, but you could imagine an animal that works the same way. There's no-- exercise of will involved."
"That does sound like an excellent solution, assuming I can read. I can talk with you, which given divergent linguistic development is surprising enough. Can you" he trails off. "I'm speaking your language. I know your language. How on Temerant? Why? Yllish is a mess but it can't be half as bad as this, you've got two separate primary linguistic sources like some unholy tradertongue that you supplemented with words from all sorts of places?" Another pause. "Kote. Did you understand that? It's what your language is."
"That's interesting. Vous a-t-il donné le Français? Uh, spreċest þū Englisċ? Você sabe Maldoniano? Tu loquerisne Latine? Ymmärrätkö Weseltonjaa?"
"The first two are closer than the others, and the last is entirely incomprehensible." Kvothe responds with Yllish, Tema, Aturan, and more Siaru: he only knows fragments, but it might function based on intent. Then he tries again, easily spinning rhymes, from what Asher son of Tiana had said about how the local magic works.
"None of that came through. --The reason Auradonian is like that it's that it's a pidgin and it's only about twenty-two years old."
"Not even the rhymes. I had hoped that might work. Why such a new language?"
"Twenty-two years ago, King Beast, King Ben's father, invented the anti-magic field. Previously the countries were fractured because fairies would take up in the wilderness between countries and turn anyone who tried to cross into stone or frogs or make them sleep for a hundred years."
Kvothe pauses, trying to take this in. This world has enough outsiders coming in that the law is clear that his magic is illegal, but it only works against fae. Could it work against the Chandrian? They might be different fae: certainly not the rhyming sort. But maybe. Possibly. "That would make trade difficult, I imagine." He tries to work through the situation in his head. One powerful and more advanced country develops a technique that allows them to invade. Sending an army through wilderness is difficult and expensive, even if your neighbors are unprepared. Even if you can turn magic off in selective areas, that just prevents counter-attacks: some dukes and such will still flee even if you captured the royal family, and your advantage only works on passage through wild areas. So an expansionist power had conquered many of its neighbors, and was holding them hostage at Auradon Prep. At the same time, if you were teaching royalty, anything less than a very high quality education would raise serious objections from nobles concerned about their own privileges, and given the difficulty of ruling over territory separated by large wooded areas, even if the faeries were gone, he would have to take that seriously.
This would be dangerous. But it was also an opportunity. And besides, turning of fae magic. He couldn't ignore that possibility.