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Nov 28, 2020 12:46 AM
Thorn in the Silent World
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"Four weeks at least then! Am I going to have to camp at the end of this bridge, or is there somewhere you can bring me?"

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"We're waiting to hear from our superiors! They're worried that you have mage-like abilities we don't understand! They'll probably clear out a ship with quarantine facilities and put you there!"

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"Sounds fair! For now I'll camp out here! I'm running on 16 hours of heavy magic use with no sleep!"

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"We do weekly perimeter checks out to two kilometers! Shouldn't be any trolls in the area! Someone will be watching you the whole time though! Will you let one of our mages examine you!"

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"That's fine! I'll let your mages examine me, and I'm willing to demonstrate more of my magic if you want me to!"

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He talks into a briefcase-sized radio set for a while.

"Okay! You may as well go to sleep now! Don't wander! Welcome to Øresund, the southernmost point of the known world!"

Then most of the hazmat-suited soldiers turn and head back down the bridge after a brief discussion.

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"Thank you!"

She gets her tent and bedroll out from her pack, and sets up camp on the nearest bit of flat ground. She sleeps almost as soon as her head hits the bedrest.

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A couple hours after dawn the next morning a different, female voice shouts at her. "Hey, weird mage! We're gonna send a cleanser to look at you, and then a mage if you don't suddenly turn out to have been a troll the whole time! And they've got a quarantine ship set up for you but it's a bit of a hike!"

The cleanser approaches in a hazmat suit, holding a cat that's wearing a colored sash with a badge on it. At a word from the handler, the cat sniffs Thorn a few times and lets out a bored "Mjao."

"Suusi didn't react, so you're probably not infected, miss! They're going to make you quarantine anyway, though. And me too. They're being really, really paranoid. Are you ready for a mage to come visit?" (He isn't meeting her eyes.)

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She gets out of her tent and lets the cleanser inspect her. "I don't mind it being a bit of a hike! I'm ready for a mage to come visit!"

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"Okay! I'm not supposed to talk to you unnecessarily or I would have so many questions."

 

The mage comes a bit later, an old lady with long, braided greying-red hair. She paces in circles, drawing a complicated seal on the ground with a giant brush and black ink.

"Step inside this."

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"Sorry to hear that."

She steps into the seal. 

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The mage recites a poem invoking Baldr, to shine upon the earth and reveal the truth, to burn away corruption and lies.

A ray of light suddenly opens up between one of the clouds in the overcast sky, shining directly on Thorn. 

The mage makes a pleased noise. "Not infected. Still have to quarantine. Where the devil are you from, lass?"

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"The universe next door, and that's not a joke. A place where this plague never happened. Foreign mage, yes? Very foreign."

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"Hmf. I take it you don't mean you're from the dream world. Or some part of the Silent World. If you have strange dreams, lass, don't go anywhere. You're mostly safe if you don't wander. If something tries to spook you, it's because it wants you to run."

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"No, I don't. Thank you for the warnings. I'll stay put."

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"Be a shame to see the first interesting thing to happen around me since I retired get her soul eaten. You know, I think they were lying and they only sent me because I'm old and not so valuable these days. Danes are so ungrateful. Come on, let's get you to quarantine. There's a path down the cliff over yonder."

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"I'll follow where you lead."

She leaves her tent and bedroll behind; presumably she won't need them, and she's got her beacon in her pack. No sense in delaying the process unnecessarily.

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"Not going to get your things? Looks like good gear. They'll just burn it, you know."

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"Might as well pack up if you can afford me a few minutes." She unstakes the tent, collapses it down and puts it in her pack, quickly followed by her rolled-up bedroll. She zips up her pack and hops back onto her feet, pulling it back on. 

"Alright, lead on."

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"Yeah, I'm not going anywhere."

She starts a brisk walk into the sparse woods. "There's a path down the cliffs over here. How do you speak both Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian if you're so foreign?"

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She follows.

"I cheat. Translation magic inscribed under my tongue, lets me understand and speak just about anything. It's a pair to the tattoos that let me fly and so on."

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"Huh. Sounds useful. I suppose it's expected that foreign mages would be weird. You can't draw a seal on a person. Or well, not and expect it to not do anything funny. And Odin only knows how the Finnish mages work when hardly any of them know how to speak what the rest of us do."

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"My magic definitely doesn't work like yours," she says. "Comparison is interesting but I doubt it's particularly useful."

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"Why're you here, then? You're here at the military base 'cause you wanted to get away from all the beasts and trolls in the uncleansed area, right, but if you're some kind of world hopper, why this sorry one? A place where the Old World never fell would probably be safer, and more interesting."

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"You overestimate the degree to which I'm able to see what's in a world before I step through to it. I'm able to get a general impression of the technology, magic and habitability of a world, but not much more "at range." And any habitability better than zero is good, there are a lot of barren rocks out there. As for what I'm here for... I'm a scout for a multiversal trading company. You have magic we don't know, which might be worth quite a bit. And even if you haven't got much worth buying, you could be a market to sell to."

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