Sep 27, 2020 9:56 PM
Raafi falls into the Sunless Skies
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In the bustling Port Prosper, an unsecured set of barrels belonging to an hour-hawker at his stall sits, waiting for a deal to be reached and to be shipped off further. Otherworldly artefacts are on display in an airy foyer above, curving blue and silver things of mysterious purpose and provenance. There is a drunken stumble, a crash of breaking glass, a fire caused by the hawker startling and tipping over a lantern. The artefacts fall into the open barrels and react badly to the sizzling Hours nearest the fire. One unravels - the fire accelerates by minutes in seconds - and the whole mess amalgamates into a riot of color and light.

A great many people judge it a good idea to be somewhere else. When the dust settles, the spare time is gone and several things not of this world are now present - A piece of someone's house, a chunk of rusting metal billboard, a rapidly spreading bit of ocean-water, a patch of scraggly - now soaked - soil with a man lying upon it.

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The man is asleep when he arrives, but doesn't stay that way - or present - for long at all; he's already intoning the words of a teleport spell as he opens his eyes, and disappears from the scene of the disaster to a spot some five hundred feet to the north, where he hops to his feet and looks around.

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He is in a crowded workshop, red brick walls and thin windows revealing rows of women working sewing machines, great piles of fabric and garments on tables here and there. The nearest one screams in surprise and stammers something accusatory in a language he doesn't know. A few others hear over the drone of the machines and stare at him quizzically.

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"Sorry!"

He digs through his belt pouches for a translation necklace, glancing up every second or two. "Sorry," he repeats, when he's got it on, "there was - a thunderbolt? or something? What are those?" He nods at the sewing machines.

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"-The sewing machines? Why are you in here! You scared me - what even is - how are you - what are you wearing -" She spots someone behind him and relaxes. "Lisa! I don't know who this man is!"

Lisa is a bespectacled woman walking down the row of machines towards him, bearing a suspicious look in her eye and one raised eyebrow.

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...sewing machines??

No, focus. "I'm sorry, ma'am, I didn't mean to disturb you. I'm not sure what happened - I was asleep, and something startled me, and I teleported away without looking where I was going. I have no idea where I am now, though, I wasn't near anyplace like this when I went to bed."

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"Teleported. Is that something they can do now...?"

"I'll handle this, Miss Kerrington. Why don't you take a break and get a drink of water?"

"My quota for the bonus-"

"Equipment failure doesn't count, this doesn't either. Go on."

"Thank you, ma'am." Miss Kerrington scurries off, happy to leave Raafi to Lisa instead.

"Why don't we head to my office? Or out front, as you prefer." Suggests Lisa.

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"Thank you, ma'am. Your office will be fine."

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Her office is on the back wall, behind a door bearing a plaque saying 'Elisabeth Cooper - Manager'. It has two bookshelves infested with slightly messy files and loose sheathes of paper, a cheap desk with two chairs, a typewriter, an electric desk lamp, and photos on the walls. (A sewing machine sitting gleaming and shiny, a collection of women in work clothes smiling at the camera, what looks like her family - husband and two sons.)

"Have a seat, Mysterious Stranger." She gestures to the chair before the desk. "Regrettably I am unable to offer you tea. I imagine we are both rather confused at the moment, but the middle of a workshop is no place for conversation."

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Raafi's still wet from the seawater; he casts something to dry that up before sitting. "It's no trouble, thank you. The name is Raafi; I'm a cleric of Fharlanghn, on the offchance that he's familiar, but I don't expect him to be - I seem to be very far from home."

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She's visibly startled by the spell, frowning at his now-dry clothes. "A... Cleric, you say? Is that by chance anything like a priest? I'm not exactly familiar."

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"Related but distinct, in my language - a cleric is someone who gets magic from a god, and a priest is someone involved in running a church, and Fharlanghn doesn't have churches, he's the god of travel. Do you have divine magic here?"

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"Well, there are miracles. Or so they say. And it's not entirely clear how the stars fit into this - I'm not a priest - but nothing... Ordinary people can wield, no... 'Magic' is widely maligned as charlatanism and fakery, in fact." (Pointed frown.) "You got into the shop somehow, of course."

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"I'm not sure why you'd expect the stars to have anything to do with it at all. But, no, no fakery - I can cast the cleaning spell again, if you'd like a demonstration, or if you know someone with an injury that needs to be healed, I can do that. Or just go, if you'd rather, but I could use some advice on how to get started here, if this is a different plane or something."

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"The stars are Powers. They are Judgements, mysterious, certainly, and powerful, and nothing to be taken lightly. But I'm not anybody particularly important. No need to prove yourself to me unless you have particular business with Galewrights Fine Garments Incorporated. I suppose I wouldn't mind giving you some advice but I'm not sure where I would start. -Can that cleaning spell clean a lot of fabric?"

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"A good amount but maybe not enough for the scale you're working on - each casting covers fifteen cubic feet, about this much," he gestures the outline of a two and a half foot wide cube on her desk, "and I can do it a few times a day if I'm prepared to. I'd be willing to do that in exchange for a place to sleep for the next few days, while I'm learning about the area."

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"Perhaps not a good use of your... Magic, then. I'm sure you could sell miraculous healing for quite a price, if you knew the right people. But you don't, do you? Hmm. I don't have places to sleep going to spare but I could pay you for restoring some stained and otherwise ruined things, and you could find an inn."

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"I don't," he nods. "Maybe in a few days. For now I can clean your things, and I have a few bolts of fabric in storage that you might be interested in, too."

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"If it's fine stuff you're better off selling it to a tailor. What we do is cheap clothes, in bulk. I think I can give you... Hmm, twelve Sovereigns for cleaning a cube about that size of stained clothes. A cheap bed in an inn is two Sovereigns, half-decent meals are another. My girls get paid three and a half Sovereigns a day."

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"That sounds fair, thank you, and I'll save the cloth, there's not that much of it. Is there anything else I'll need to know immediately? Local dangers, laws less obvious than not stealing things or attacking people, customs people will expect me to know?"

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"-Hmm. I don't really understand where you came from, and I'm not at all sure I'm being thorough enough... If I imagine you're a small child... Don't trust devils, you'll know them by the smell of brimstone upon their tongues. You won't meet many here, though. Be careful near the edge if you go down the docks or bridges. If you fall off you'll freeze to death before a locomotive can come get you. Starshine and Red Honey are both illegal, and dangerous. Say please and thank you. Don't shout indoors. Never ask a woman her age or weight. Wear a full outfit all the time and if you see a woman in undress avert your eyes. There's a bit of trouble brewing between the poor and wealthier parts of the city, the east and west ends respectively. Don't mess with clocks, the Ministries are very particular about those. Oh, books without a Ministry stamp are contraband. Either they avoided taxes or they're supposed to be censored. Don't mess with ammunition or Hours or strange artefacts. If you see a rat wearing clothes or carrying tools, don't kill it. Rattus faber are sanctioned these days, and have it hard enough already... I can't think of anything else off the top of my head."

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He gawps a little at the mention of devils, but has composed himself again by the time she stops talking. "All useful, thank you. What's a locomotive, and how would I recognize - Starshine, you said, right? I assume Red Honey looks like what it sounds like."

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"A locomotive is an enclosed vehicle, powered by steam-engine, that propels itself through the sky, settlement to settlement and island to island. I'm told nobody can figure out how flying and falling works, exactly, but they do fly. Sometimes they pull long trains of cars behind them, in Albion at least. I haven't seen that much around here. Red honey looks like honey as red as blood, yes. Starshine is... Well. Water infused with the light of Eleutherian stars. I've heard it smells like chamomile and sleep, and hits you like the strongest wave of nostalgia you've ever felt."

She stands up. "I'll go get the things I want you to clean together. Should only be a minute or two."

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"Thank you," he nods.

He holds the door for her when she gets back; casting only takes a few seconds, and leaves the whole pile pristine.

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She inspects several garments, then opens a safe and counts out twelve small golden coins, bearing a raised and ridged edge, a portrait in profile on one face, and an intricate almost-floral pattern on the other.

"Here you are. Twelve Sovereigns. Good fortune to you, but personally I wish for an uneventful and quiet life."

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"Thank you, I hope you do."

Once he's out of the workshop, he wanders south, keeping an eye out for an inn or anything else of interest but mostly curious whether whatever caused his arrival had any other effects.

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