Sep 29, 2020 10:02 AM
Tarinda in Skygarden
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This process is not terribly interesting for Tarinda but she's very determined to do it anyway for some reason. Flip flip flip flip occasional encouraging nods at Kioh.

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He discusses yesterday's haul of fish and last week's encounter with a scary snake and last month's trip to the city, all with sufficient mime to more or less make the topic clear, and occasionally pronounces a written word for her if he can catch one going by as she flips the pages. Also, since she picked up that first little bit of vocabulary pretty fast, he asks her every two minutes if she can tell him now how it is that she ended up falling out of the sky.

The books, as she accumulates enough context to achieve a translation, turn out to be on a wide variety of subjects. The big one is history, going back a few thousand years; the shortest one is poetry; in the middle, there's the recipe book, a slightly longer book that turns out to be an almanac, and a slightly shorter book about magic.

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Eventually she can tell him, "I don't know how it happened. I don't think it's happened to anyone before."

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He bounces impatiently. "That's hardly an answer! How'd you end up in the sky in the first place, or do you not know that either?"

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"I was in the sky on purpose in a sky ship but it was not your sky. This place is not under my sky."

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"...how many skies are there?" he boggles.

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"I don't know! My people live on lots of sky ships and round rocks but this round rock we're on now is a surprise!"

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"'Planet', is I think the word you're looking for," Viasarae contributes. "Though I had no idea there was more than one. That at least explains how you got to that age without learning the language."

"Wait, you live on airships?" says Kioh. "Do people do that here, Grandma?"

"Airship captains, maybe, and their families. I'm not sure I've ever heard of an airship big enough to house a village."

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"I live on a planet named Mars but some people live on sky ships. Air is -" She blows a puff of air. "- that, right, off of planets there is not air."

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"...yes," says Viasarae. "So 'sky ships' are different from airships?"

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"If your air ships go where there is air only, yes."

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"I see. I suppose that explains how you got off of the planet... though not why I've never heard of anyone doing that, unless your people left so long ago that history forgot you, and took all your airless sky ships along with."

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"- no, we're not from this planet. We're from Earth. This planet is not near Earth. We would know."

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Viasarae blinks at her, surprised.

"Maybe we're the ones who left their world so long ago that history forgot about it," Kioh suggests.

"That or there's more than one world with people on it... I don't know, something seems odd about that."

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"I can't explain it."

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"Neither can I. Well. I'm sorry you're stranded so far from home. If it was just a matter of ordinary travel, I'd send you to Southport with my best wishes, but I don't know where you'd find someone who even knew where to start on sending you to another planet. Skygarden, probably. Lots of people doing interesting new things with magic in Skygarden. I doubt any of them are flying above the air, but you might be able to get a curious shipwright interested in trying it."

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"I... don't think that will help. This planet isn't near mine."

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"...that sounds like it means something more daunting than just that you aren't sure how far away it is or in what direction," Viasarae observes.

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"Can I have something to make a picture on?"

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Kioh obligingly rustles up bark and charcoal.

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She draws a circle. "If my sun were this big," she says, "then Earth would be over by that weed over there and smaller than your littlest fingernail," point, "and Mars would be by where that crab is sitting right now, see it? And the nearest other sun would be past the tideline. And we know a lot about things very far away, even if they're too far for anyone to have gotten there yet. And nowhere in the whole ocean-if-my-sun-were-this-size is this planet. Something else happened and I don't know what."

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"Huh," says Viasarae, absorbing this sense of scale. "How long does it take you to travel, from Earth to Mars—if you could find your way across the ocean somehow, if we are across the ocean and not, I don't know, on the moon, would you make it back home inside your lifetime—"

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"In a good sky ship less than a day to go from Earth to Mars and also I don't have a lifetime, I will just live. But that isn't the problem, really, I want to go home but most of the problem is stuff like. People here on this planet having lifetimes instead of being like me."

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"What?" says Kioh.

Viasarae also seems surprised, but after a couple of blinks she says, "Are you telling me that all your people are immortal?"

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"Yes! We built a thing that can think and it's very smart and learned how to do that."

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