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Apr 11, 2021 4:12 AM
Runecaster Margaret in Velgarth
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The servant she finds in the hall can take a message for Ma'ar, and let him know that she wants to schedule a meeting! She'll probably get a note in a few candlemarks with the time for it. 

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Cool. She brings the rocks to the meeting, and also her tech notes, though who knows whether he'll have the time or interest to look at them.

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He wants to look at them first, actually, after a very quick initial glance at her rocks. He's visibly fascinated and has lots of questions about how it works. 

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That's about how Margaret would feel if someone showed up from a place with higher tech than hers! She can explain sewage systems and internal combustion engines and the telegraph and some of the things electricity is good for. She doesn't have the procedural knowledge of how to build most of the stuff, especially on this tech base, but she knows what general materials and capabilities are needed. Also this is how the germ theory of infectious disease works; is that consistent with local knowledge and observation?

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Ma'ar thinks that it is! He suggests that she talk to some of the Healers, though, it's not his area.

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She would be happy to talk to the Healers! Is he interested enough in any of the other things to provide materials for them? Also does he have any problems that look amenable to engineering solutions, there might be something she hasn't thought of where she can combine technology and magic for useful results.

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He's especially interested in the telegraph and would happily provide materials for it, and electricity sounds very broadly useful. He'll need to sit down and think about which of Predain's current problems are engineering-solution-amenable. 

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She'll happily work on inventing the telegraph in the meantime. (And on making the case for better sanitation to the Healers, though she doesn't mention that.)

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Ma'ar thanks her for her time and dismisses her to go back to his other work; he asks her to make a list of all the materials she'll need for that project, someone will be by later that day to collect it and schedule a time for her to talk to the Healers. 

Someone is, in fact, by a few hours later. One of the palace Healers will meet with her tomorrow morning, if that's all right? 

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She writes up an equipment list. Mostly she needs wire; a few meters for a prototype but eventually kilometers and kilometers of it to make a network between everywhere that will use it.* Also something to make and break a connection between two wires repeatedly very fast, which can be like this or like this or like that depending on what's easiest to make.

Tomorrow morning would be an excellent time to talk to a Healer.

*She gives this in Predain units but also starts outlining a paper on the metric system, because that's good too and doesn't require any materials.

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Getting her a prototype length of wire is easy, they can do that by tomorrow; lots of it will be harder but they have time to figure out a system for making it more efficiently. For making-and-breaking connections, they'll send over one of the mages who specializes in fine-detail metalwork and have them work on it with her? 

The next morning, a woman of about forty arrives and knocks on her door. "I'm Healer Norma," she says in fluent Tantaran. "You wanted to consult with the Healers on something from your world?" 

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"Yes, hello! People in my world have figured out a lot of stuff about the causes of disease and how to prevent and cure it without magic, and I thought you might find some of it useful."

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Norma smiles. "Oh! Fascinating! Does your world have Healers too, then, or something like it?" 

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"We have doctors. They don't have magic, but they have lots of different devices for seeing tiny things and the insides of people's bodies, and they've tried a lot of things and learned what works and what doesn't. How to tell similar diseases apart, what treatments work and their side effects, stuff like that. I might be able to reinvent some of the devices and I can tell you what I remember of the rest."

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"- Wow. That's - really quite something. How did they even think to invent the devices in the first place, though, if they didn't have Healers?" 

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"Just really wanting to know what was going on, I guess. And I think microscopes were originally used for looking at far-away things, but you can use them to see really small things, too. Like the tiny living things that cause some diseases."

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"Faraway things... Like what astronomers use, you mean, those eyepiece lens things?" 

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"Yes, exactly!" Sounds like she won't have to rederive a bunch of lens math, which is awesome.

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"I wonder if Healers could learn to see the same things just with our Othersenses?" The woman looks very thoughtful. "We can train our Sight to some degree - some Healers can go in close and see the tiny blood vessels and such, I just don't think anyone's tried going in even closer than that." 

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"Yeah, I think even bacteria--the biggest disease-causing organisms--are smaller than the smallest blood vessels." Inconvenient how AP biology was going to be next year. "But even without being able to see them you can do things to get rid of them. Soap and water kills a lot of them, and so does alcohol, and I think also certain kinds of light. And if you keep as many as possible out of your food and drink you get sick less."

 

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"Right, Healers do know about clean water and cooking food right being important. ...And that if you don't have clean water then alcohol in it makes it safer." 

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"Yup. Also the insides of people are full of them at the best of times, so it's important to wash your hands before and after surgery, though I guess maybe with Gifts you don't need to do surgery. And isolating sick people from each other, that's important too. And there's a kind of bread mold, of all things, that makes a substance that kills bacteria; I would need to do a bunch of experiments to figure out what kind of mold and how to get the chemical out of it and that's if it even grows here, but the general point is that there are things people can eat that will cure diseases and some of them have probably been discovered already but there might be more. Oh, and do you have, uh, the thing where you can give a person a version of a disease so mild they don't get sick and then they can never catch it for real?"

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The Healer looks puzzled. "I - hmm. We know that happens sometimes - there's a lot of common illnesses that tend to be milder in kids, and if they catch it then they're immune, but people moving here from different regions can get very sick. There's sometimes discussion of whether children should be exposed on purposes, but - we don't know how to ensure it's mild, even in little ones they sometimes end up with a serious case." 

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"There are ways to get a sample of the thing causing the disease--viruses, they're usually called, when it's the kind you can do this with--and boil it or something to make it weaker or even totally dead, and expose someone to that. You would need to experiment with mice or something first."

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"...Whoa. And that works? That's incredible! What an idea - who in your world thought of it, it's brilliant..." 

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