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Feb 26, 2021 10:48 AM
Runecaster Margaret in Velgarth
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:I'm alright, thanks. I can tell you most of what happened on my end, but I don't understand all of it myself. Also I don't recognize the kind of magic I saw you doing at all, so you might not know anything about my kind.:

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That gets her a bemused look. :Really. Well, if you can tell me your side of things, I suppose we'll see what our mages can make of it: 

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:I bought a magic artifact in a store, and the shopkeeper didn't know what it was and I didn't either, so I pushed the button on it to find out what it did, and suddenly I was outside near the farmhouse where you found me. I thought I had teleported to somewhere else on my own planet, because that's a thing I know is possible. I haven't heard of anything like the way we're communicating now or like the portal thing you did, but I don't know everything that's been invented.:

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The guard frowns intently as he takes notes. :I...see. So you just - used a magic artifact without knowing what it'd do, that sounds - unsafe: He looks pretty unimpressed! :Do you still have the artifact with you?:

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:I was aware of the risk but I was expecting the effect to be very small-scale; most artifacts are. Unfortunately it didn't come with me.: She's not especially impressed with herself either, honestly; if she's actually stuck here that's going to be unpleasant and she should have been more willing to suppress the thing.

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:I've certainly never heard of one that did that! You - think you're on another planet now?: His expression is that of a man who has just run into something far, far above his pay grade and is kind of wishing it would go away. 

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:Well you didn't recognize my planet, and I've never heard of Predain. I guess I might be in the past or the future or something.:

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The guard nods. He has no idea how to assess which of those bizarre implausible scenarios is more likely! Or which would be more concerning for Predain! 

:I - think I need to bump this up to my superiors: he says, apologetically. :I could get you some tea or something while you wait? And then I expect they'll want to send a mage with the right training to ask you questions about the magic: 

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Anyone who knows anything about runecasting is going to take one look at her level of recklessness and peg her as hiding something immediately, but if this is another planet maybe they have different magic or probably they didn't have exactly the same war. :Okay. Sorry for being complicated.:

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The guard takes her to a different room, a sort of waiting area with some armchairs and a window overlooking a scraggly lawn. He offers her a seat and brings her a teapot and cup plus milk and sugar on a tray. :There you go: 

People come and go, most in uniform and looking kind of harried. 

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This is kind of a lot of police officers or possibly soldiers for the middle of nowhere. Margaret sits and drinks a little bit of the tea and tries to look like the harmless kind of bizzare magic accident.

She doesn't want to try teleporting out again because she wants to look nice and cooperative and not like she's trying to run away, but she really hopes she can get back to Seattle somehow. Her parents and Bella are going to think she got herself killed. (Bella would know what to do in this situation. Bella is empirically better at escaping magic police than she is. Bella is the coolest and smartest person and Margaret already misses her.)

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It seems like it might be a shift-change rush; the movement slows down after a few minutes.

A man sticks his head out of an office, calling out in the same foreign language. "Oy, Travers, you can read Tantaran right?" 

     "- Yes, why?" The answering voice sounds suddenly more stressed. 

"Don't worry, not an emergency, just, we got the original bill of sale for the new inventory, and it must be from down there. I can't read it." 

     Gusty sigh. "Coming, I'll be right there." 

The man in the office, who's older with greying hair around a bald spot, shoves a yellowed piece of paper at the new arrival, a tall younger man with a mop of curly hair, who unfolds and squints at it. 

    "One bale boot leather, two bales broadcloth - blue - two bales canvas..." he reads off, slowly and haltingly but otherwise perfectly understandable to Margaret. 

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What? That's not English and it's not French and she didn't speak it yesterday but she does now. Now that she knows where in her mind to look for it there's a whole new vocabulary in here, wow. What was that artifact? And should she tell someone? She doesn't want to interrupt but it might be relevant to how she got here and also she doesn't want to eavesdrop on people who think she can't understand them and might be mad when they find out. She compromises on raising her hand like she's in class at home and hoping it's a comprehensible enough gesture.

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The older man notices. "Yes, miss, can I help you...?" he says. Unfortunately, he says it in the previous unfamiliar language.

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"The magic accident that brought me here seems to have also taught me Tantaran," she says in Tantaran. "Um, I don't know if that's relevant to anything."

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This earns her looks of bafflement and alarm! The two men exchange some rapid-fire foreign words and then the older guard-officer leaves and the tall young man approaches her, fidgeting. "Miss, you were - waiting to talk to a mage about an accident you said happened, yes?" he says, in halting Tantaran. 

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"Yes. I was--somewhere very far away, and couldn't speak Tantaran, and then I had a magic accident and appeared near here and I just realized I speak it now. It's not an emergency, I don't think, I just thought someone might want to know."

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He tugs at his tunic sleeve. "No, not emergency," he agrees, but he's not quite meeting her eyes. 

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"Sorry to bother you." She can't tell if the side-eye means he thinks she's six kinds of idiot or if he's thought of some implication of her new fluency or what. She'll just sit here and try to come up with Tantaran/French puns until she hits the top of someone's priority queue.

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After this point it doesn't take long! 

A new person arrives, a woman, somewhat out of breath and in a different uniform - not fancier, exactly, but he's wearing robes instead of a tunic and pants - and darts into the office with the older officer. They lock the door and, one assumes, confer briefly. 

The woman slips back out. She looks about forty, her dark hair showing a few streaks of grey and pulled back in a tight bun. "You speak Tantaran, yes?" she says, less haltingly than the other young man. 

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There's another rapid exchange in the local language. 

"Did someone from Tantara send you," the woman says, flatly. "Don't lie. We can tell." 

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"As far as I know I have never interacted with anyone from Tantara. I'm from a planet named Earth." 

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(The mage who is also a Thoughtsenser cannot, in fact, tell if she's lying; the stranger was apparently able to think back answers to the Mindspeaker before, but right now she's shielding almost perfectly.) 

"I see," she says. "Tell me about 'Earth.'" 

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"That's a big question. Um, we have six billion or so people. There's not a lot of magic and what there is is secret from most people. We have electricity and airplanes and a tiny bit of space travel. Is that the sort of thing you want to know?"

It occurs to her belatedly that "Don't lie. We can tell." might mean she has magic lie detection. If all it's doing is detecting lies, that's fine; she wants to leave things out but not actually say any falsehoods. (This train of thought does not make her any less opaque to the Thoughtsenser.)

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