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Apr 11, 2021 3:51 AM
Runecaster Margaret in Velgarth
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Oh boy, what is a diplomatic way to tell an extremely intimidating person that she has no way to tell which side of the war is the right one or if there even is a right one and also that she has about as much interest in joining an army as she does in eating a pint of expired mayonnaise, and also she might not in fact have a choice.

"I'm--not trained to fight, at all. I. If there was a way I could help make peace I would try, but. I'm no soldier."

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"Oh, I would not ask you to be a soldier. That is highly unlikely to be the best use of your magic. My greatest hope is that you might have some way of sending messages, or otherwise allowing secure communication with Urtho, so that I can try again to sort this out. Or -" he frowns, taps the table for a moment, "...or perhaps that I could - tell Urtho of your existence as a peace offering, he adores the study of magic and might be very tempted by the chance to talk to you... Though I am not sure he would allow himself to give in to temptation even then." He looks her in the eye. "And, of course, I understand that you have only my word for all of this and, if you are a smart person which I hope you are, you would not want to participate unless you had verified some things for yourself." 

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Oh, thank goodness, that's more understanding of her perspective than she was worried he'd be. "I want to do--things that would be good things to do no matter which side of the war I landed on. Passing messages sounds like the sort of thing that's a lot more likely to help than hurt."

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"Yes, I think so, and also - I want peace, I want us to no longer be at war with Urtho, and at this point I think that almost certainly requires winning it first, but I would prefer if it did not cause any more death and property damage, since both of those are bad." 

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Nod. "Wars are awful. I think I can figure out a way to send and receive messages. If I did it as a pair of objects where any sounds made near one came out of the other, would it be possible to get one end to Urtho? And would that be the sort of thing that would help?"

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"I am not sure it would resolve everything that is causing our communications blockage, but - I think it is at least worth a try." He smiles, or at least attempts it; mostly he looks stressed and exhausted. 

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"Is there anything else you want to know? I'm sure you're very busy." Margaret wants to know where she's expected to stay long-term and how she should go about exchanging labor for money and/or food and paper and how free to wander off she hypothetically is, but there's sure to be someone less simultaneously busy and intimidating she can pester about it later.

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"I want to at some point know everything that you, personally, can do with your world's magic using resources you have here or that we could provide for you. And of course whether you need special setup so we can arrange that. I have upcoming commitments, though, so it could make the most sense to have someone set you up with a guest-room and you can write it up for me? I read Tantaran well; I am not sure if the magic gave you the ability to read and write it too? We ought test that." 

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"That all makes sense. I can visualize what Tantaran words should look like written down but I suppose it's possible I've got a completely wrong version."

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He gets her a piece of paper and a pen from a nearby cabinet. "Show me?" 

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She writes "This is a sentence in Tantaran." and then the alphabet. Her handwriting is a little slow and ugly because she isn't used to the letter shapes but it's definitely readable.

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Nod. "- Yes, I can read that, though I cannot claim to understand at all how the magic works such that I can." He stands up, tugs the bell-rope again. "Do you have any particular requests for your accommodations here?" 

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She has no idea what her options are and what's reasonable to ask for at this tech level, and really what she mostly wants is to not be under surveillance all the time but if she's going to get that it won't be by asking. "Not especially? Somewhere with a window would be nice."

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"Very reasonable. Yes, of course, and you ought feel free to ask for anything more if you think of it." 

A servant in uniform arrives at the door, and Ma'ar exchanges some back-and-forth with them in the Predain tongue, at which point they leave and come back with an older woman who speaks some Tantaran. 

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"So I'm to find you a guest room, yes, dear?" the woman says to Margaret. "Follow me, we can have a look at a few of them so you can pick your favourite. 

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Margaret will examine guest rooms with relative cheerfulness. In addition to a window she's hoping for one with a writing desk, but maybe they don't go in for desks in bedrooms here.

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The guest suites she's being shown have multiple rooms, actually! They're small and cramped and old by modern Earth standards, but she can have one with a window in the bedroom or one with a window in the parlor sitting-area; the one with a window in the bedroom has a writing-desk in the second room. Both of them also have a third littler room with a bathtub in it.  

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Her point of comparison is a bedroom in her parents' house, so in terms of space that's primarily hers it's not much of a step down except in terms of bathroom quality. She picks the one with the writing desk, thanks the woman, and asks if she knows how Margaret should go about getting meals, expecting the answer to be some variant on a shared kitchen or a cafeteria.

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"Dear, you just ring the bell here and ask! - I'm afraid most of our staff won't speak Tantaran, but you can request someone who does if you've a hankering for something in particular instead of just 'breakfast', I suppose." 

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"Oh! Thank you. Um, are there places I can go where there are people around talking, so I can listen to the local language and try to learn it? Also is there a room I should go to to do magic experiments?"

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"Ooh, you're a mage! Goodness. I - will need to get permission to unlock one of the Work Rooms for you, but I'll do that right away. For the language... Hmm. We don't have a lot of diplomatic guests right now, there's the war you see, but if you want to join the Court for dinner in the hall, I can show you over there." 

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Oh no, a court. Probably less scary than being ignorant of the language indefinitely. "Only if it wouldn't be impolite. And thanks for helping with the work room."

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"You're very welcome! Did you want to go over there now or have some time to get settled in here first?"

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"Now is fine; I haven't really got anything to unpack," she adds with a wry smile. The lack of a second set of clothes and a toothbrush has not stopped being unpleasant, but she knows how much fabric cost before the mechanical loom and she wants to be of some benefit to someone here before she asks about clothes.

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"- Goodness, dear, how did you end up here without any of your things?" 

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