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Oct 20, 2020 1:48 AM
matirin would like it noted that he is a better judge of character than seerow and just had fewer options
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As long as it's dark and there are no signs this region has electricity they will keep travelling in their natural form, skirting the settlements. The road might go to Haven? The road looks like the most advanced technology they've seen yet, which is promising. 

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The road does in fact go to Haven, though they'll only get halfway there by sunrise.

- and meanwhile an anonymous, very ordinary-looking man on a horse is doing his best to keep up with them, prompted by occasional short bursts of relayed Mindspeech from the other spy Gated in north of the border. The new vrondi setup is obnoxious, it means they can't do undetected magic within Valdemar at all, but they'll manage. 

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As soon as it starts to get at all light they turn into birds, which will complicate keeping up with them, and follow the road from the air.

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That is, in fact, irritating! 

Leareth gets a report from the people assigned to scry the travellers overnight, and then locates the magical signatures he dropped on them and watches from a distance as they fly toward Haven.

In the meantime he passes on orders to be conveyed via half a dozen routes to various agents already in place. 

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Haven is, by the standards of an industrialized civilization, not a very big city at all, though it's by far the biggest settlement yet; at a rough glance it probably holds between ten and fifty thousand people, depending how many humans are living in each of the wooden and stone dwellings. There's no sign of electrical lighting, much less other modern infrastructure. The city is surrounded by an outer wall, and then an inner wall around a cluster of ancient-looking stone buildings.

The road is heavily trafficked even early in the morning, but only by horses and horse or mule-pulled carts and carriages. There's some sort of open-air market selling varied produce. 

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After a couple hours flying they find a forest to demorph and rest in; then they can observe in Haven for a little while. 

 

 

These are definitely humans and this does not match the description of Earth. And some parts of premodern planets are much less developed than others, but - lots of technology is trivially portable. There should be, if nothing else, radios. 

 

A bird finds the palace and tries to hop around between windowsills to see if there's advanced technology there that's just not outside for some reason.

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In one spot, a man is standing near a wall being repaired, and massive stones seem to be hovering and then floating into place. 

Other than that, there's no sign of any technology more advanced than water wheels. 

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- wait, what. 

 

 

What is he using to do that.

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It's not at all obvious what he's using! He seems to be concentrating hard, and making some hand gestures, that's all, but he's not even holding anything. He is occasionally touching a necklace he's wearing. 

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Does anyone else seem to think this is remarkable? Is anyone else doing it? Does the necklace look like it could somehow have very sophisticated directed antigravity (...in this city that has not invented the radio)?

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The workmen who are slapping some sort of goopy cement-y grouting on in between stone-movings seem to find this entirely unremarkable, though they're treating the man with deference, like he's someone quite important. They're bantering with each other in their language. At one point they aren't ready in time and they seem very apologetic about this, which indicates that maybe the man with floating-capabilities' time is considered very valuable.

If one of them flies in close enough as a bird, they'll be able to see that his necklace just has a crystal pendant, which doesn't at a glance appear to have any complicated internal structure. 

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They are so confused. One stays near the man and the others spread out throughout the city to see if there are other people doing ...that. Or other things they should not be able to do.

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Elsewhere, a woman is in some sort of workshop, visible through the window. She appears to be...melting glass...by looking at it very hard...? And then pulling it into a new shape, but without actually touching it, her hands are moving but they're inches away?

At one point she absently waves her hand and the wood in a fireplace bursts into flame, and she nods to herself and mixes powder and water in a pot hanging above it, then pours the resulting mixture through her newly-formed glass apparatus.

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There is a confused bird on her windowsill.

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And eventually Sandra sets aside her alchemy work and unshields to find Kilchas' mind and ask if he's done his mage-work for the morning and wants to join her for lunch. 

- what. She freezes. 

There's a mind right there at her window. Directly on her windowsill.

No, there isn't. There's a bird. She'd noticed, absently, that it seemed like a very curious bird, intently watching her work, and she'd thought it was cute and made a mental note to tell Kilchas about it, he likes birds. 

Sandra's head jerks around and her eyes fix on the bird, as she reaches to probe the mind, which - doesn't feel quite like a human one - but she shouldn't be able to sense it at all, she's a regular Mindspeaker not an Animal Mindspeaker. 

What's there? 

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The mind piloting this bird isn't in the material plane. It's somewhere else, reaching across planes to grip the bird's own nervous system. Its thoughts are both distant and distinctly nonhuman but there's - distress, frustration, calculation -

 

When she turns around to look at the bird it backs off the windowsill and flies away, its mind calling out to the others - there's fear there, now, and distaste, at the possibility it came into contact with a hated enemy -

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Sandra freezes for another second or two, then reaches for her original target.

:Kilchas, don't react. We have a problem: Flashed mental image of the bird. :It was spying on me. Felt like - maybe a summoned elemental? Could be Karse, we know they summon demons. Think there's more, it's trying to talk to the others: Pause. :Try to find them - tell Tran, he's strongest - don't let on you've seen them, though. I might've already blown it, but...: 

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Seconds later, King's Own Herald Tantras, Chosen by Taver (previously Chosen by Delian) and the strongest Mindspeaker in Haven, is hastily excusing himself from a meeting and fleeing to the nearest window. 

Reaching with his Gifts - what's out there - 

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There's half a dozen of them. They've all headed farther away from the palace, trying to blend in with other birds in the city, chattering anxiously - all of this is very confusing but it does not mean that the enemy isn't here - they should await orders -

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They might be able to blend in physically with the other birds, but their minds don't fit at all

Tran doesn't have the faintest idea what sort of summoned elemental spirit - air, most likely, given the bird form - would feel like that, or what their capabilities are, or what in all hells to do about it. He's also confused because, what, Karse's spies don't know for sure that the enemy is here? Hmm, if they're elementals they might be hard to give orders to and maybe they understood something wrong. 

He knows who they need. Unfortunately, that person is currently at Forst Reach and also reacts badly to Gates - and a Gate back will probably be very detectable, air-elementals have an affinity for sensing magic, thus the vrondi - but they have to do what they have to do.

Tran is one of the strongest Mindspeakers in the Kingdom, especially with Taver at his back, and he drops everything else, and reaches, reaches, reaches–

:Van?: 

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Vanyel, sitting in his mother's solar listening to his nephew play the lute, spills tea all over his lap and swears under his breath. :Tran? What is it–:

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:Sandra just caught a summoned elemental or something spying through her window. Bird form, do you know that kind, she didn't and neither does Kilchas...: 

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:What? No, I don't–:

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:Can you and Savil Gate back right now?: 

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His aunt is going to be so, so annoyed, they're supposed to be on holiday, but. 

:Yes, of course: 

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