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Apr 11, 2021 2:09 AM
Runecaster Margaret in Velgarth
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"A man named Edward Jenner; he got really famous for it. We should try to invent it here--and I should also try a spell to replicate the effect; it will scale better if we do it without my kind of magic but might as well work on both. What are the names of some diseases here that you can only get once?"

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"Hmm. Measles, pox, spotted fever - that's different from pox, sorry..." The Healer lists half a dozen illnesses that people seem to only catch once in a lifetime. 

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"Is doing medical experiments on animals a common thing here? Also what are the procedures for taking a medical thing you've invented and telling people about it and proving it works so people will be willing to try it?" This time she is going to do everything in the right order and not get any more kinds of arrested.

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"It's not as common as it should be, in my opinion! Here in the capital we have a Healing centre and we study mice and sometimes pigs, they're more similar to humans. ...Some history here is that until a few decades ago, Predain didn't actually have anything in the way of infrastructure for training Gifted Healers. There was - still is - a big medical college, the Predain College of Chirurgeons, but they thought Healing Gifts were just superstition." She snorts. "Which is kind of an impressive thing to overlook! I guess it's easier when no one has any training and we couldn't reliably distinguish Healing from, say, Empathy." 

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"Wow. I'm glad they figured it out eventually! Do you think it would be possible for me to do some experiments in the Healing center? For non-magic stuff I can just tell the existing experts what I know but it would be really helpful to have access to mice and a way to safely expose them to diseases and similar for the magic side."

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"I'm sure we can arrange that!" 

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"Awesome!" This world has its downsides, but being able to do magic research in public and get treated like an adult about it is really good.

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The Healer is quiet for a minute, noting down some things. "- All right, anything else for right now? That's - a lot to absorb. I can send someone over once we've got an arrangement for you to work with the Healers here?" 

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"Sounds good! Thanks for meeting with me; I hope it turns out to be helpful."

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"I'm sure it will be - I'm the one who should be thanking you, really!" And the Healer heads out. 

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Two days pass before she hears anything back from the Healers, though she does get an apologetic note saying they're discussing it; in fact, before she gets a time to visit their station, she instead receives a note from Ma'ar asking if this afternoon would be a good time to meet. 

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The one convenient thing about how her kind of spell design works is that she can basically always put it down on short notice. She meets him at whatever time and place he suggests, nervous but also excited because he might have been able to talk to Urtho with the magic phone.

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And Ma'ar confirms her suspicion within the first ten seconds. "I sent the artifact over to Tantara, with an envoy. Urtho was willing to speak with me." 

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"Oh good. What did he say? If it's okay for you to tell me."

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"Nothing very conclusive or helpful." Ma'ar pauses for a moment. "He - may be willing to meet with you. He is very curious, it seems." 

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"I am pretty surprising. I'm--willing to meet with him if you think it would help? And if you don't think he would--try to make me make magic weapons or something."

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"No, I do not think he would," Ma'ar says, sort of absently. "His greatest weakness has always been that he flinches from ruthlessness, most of the time, even when it would be correct." He turns to look at her. "Also I will send you well-protected, and with a way to contact me if you need rescuing." 

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She swallows hard and says, "I'll do it. What do you think he wants, just to ask me questions about Earth?"

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"And about your magic, I imagine. - I do not mind if you tell him, it will put him in a more generous mood, but - I would appreciate it if you kept it to the peacetime applications only, and did not make anything for him." 

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"Of course." The last thing she wants is for the war to escalate, and she knows what a war with her kind of magic can become. Besides, Ma'ar has been, well, an extremely good foreign government person to be debatably imprisoned by, and she has no interest in double-crossing him.

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Ma'ar nods, briskly, and then gets up and paces while he explains what to expect. Urtho's Tower is like so. This is what he remembers about Urtho's most trusted staff, though with the caveat that it was decades ago. The plan right now is for some of Ma'ar's people to Gate her to the border, there's a stretch with a sort of no-man's-land neutral region in between the two garrisoned borders. And then she'll cross to Tantara, be met by an escort, and transported to the Tower from there. 

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She nods along. Any important cultural differences from here she should make sure not to step on? And what's the method for contacting him in an emergency going to be?

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He'll send her with an artifact of the kind he can make, which won't let her contact him with a message per se, but which she can trigger to send an emergency signal. Also, if it's not too much inconvenience, maybe she could make another set of the paired rock artifacts? Just for redundancy, and also it would let them actually exchange messages, though not ones they can trust to be especially secure. 

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She can definitely make another pair of telephone rocks, and it won't take as long as the first one did since most of the hard part is out of the way. If he wants a bunch more for his other staffpeople she can keep making them as long as she has rocks and paper, at least until it's time for her to leave.

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She definitely shouldn't worry about a limited supply of rocks and paper! Ma'ar would greatly appreciate as many artifacts as she can make before her departure; he's still talking to Urtho about the when, but he would estimate in about three days? 

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