Jan 17, 2021 7:57 AM
kyeo and sarham in citrelia
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"Well, the year as we count it is 1294, which would be . . . a touch over six hundred earth standard years, assuming the conversion I was told was correct; I'll want to check that - and you'd assume that to be indicative of something important but our historical records don't go back quite that far.  And certainly people have been able to lièv for as long as we know about.  I read you'd done some basic tests and determined you couldn't, but I'll want to do something much more thorough later; since obviously citrelièv is something that can improve substantially over time, I almost wonder if all your people could all possess a very early form of it and just have collectively failed to notice."

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"What more thorough test do you have in mind?"

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"Trying to copy extremely small and discrete abilities, like being able to pronounce a sound you couldn't before, or a pulling off a particular sleight of hand trick; trying different mindsets in case those do anything - there's a moderately popular fiction trope of people who can steal things instead of copying them, and I don't consider it at all likely that you'd have that but it would be terrible if you did and I didn't check for it because I thought it was stupid; that might be mindset-based - trying pulling towards traits instead of having them replace the ones you had, in case it's incremental; making sure that the things you already tried weren't incremental and just very slow . . ."

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"Are there any old stories that might be more than six hundred years old?"

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"I don't believe so, though I suppose there's a chance that I wouldn't have heard about it, if it were disputed or particularly niche.  - I know many things but I am not, actually, a historian.  I can ask around."

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"Six hundred years ago would have been... middle ages... I guess if you started with any ethnic variation at all you could have gone any which way from there so I can't guess based on what people looked like in various parts of Earth back then..."

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"Can you give me a - very brief - summary of your relevant history?"

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"...I have no idea how to render the Middle Ages into a brief relevant history."

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"Fair enough.  What makes you think there might be a common origin?"

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"It'd be very weird if humans evolved on two planets, and you do seem very human apart from the magic powers. And we know humans evolved on Earth because of the fossil record. There's some evidence of common language roots too, though I'm not a linguist."

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"Tell me about fossil records?"

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"When an organism dies under some special circumstances it can wind up being preserved, especially bones, which can mineralize and then stick around for millions of years. We have ancient human and proto-human remains and artifacts going back millennia. And we're obviously closely related to the other primate species on Earth but those'd be easier to plant than the fossils - I don't know if you have apes and monkeys here -"

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"I . . . think not?  With things we definitely have I can tell, but with anything else there's a chance I just haven't heard about it, or don't know enough about it to make the connection."

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"Yeah. Well, on Earth there are species that look kind of like humans, but with more body hair and different posture and other distinguishing features, and they're nowhere near as smart but are still unusually smart for animals, and those are apes, and biologically speaking humans are a kind of ape, which we can be sure of with genetic testing - which I probably also have to explain? -"

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"Seems ideal."

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So Sarham also attempts to explain basic genetics. And evolution.

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" - We know about evolution.  More with people than with animals, obviously, but there's at least one research facility working on breeding animals smart enough that they'll count as people so we can copy from them and have substantially more morphological freedom.  They're a long way off from doing anything interesting, but once they accomplish anything it'll be the most interesting thing, probably including aliens, and I'll almost certainly move to Brydov to go work with them."

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"- okay, that makes sense. Well, that's where species in general come from to begin with."

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"I wonder if we'd have an easier time getting apes and monkeys to the relevant level of sapience - or if they're similar enough physically that it wouldn't even be worth trying . . ."

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"They're... very strong? And monkeys have tails, if people want tails. But if I were doing this project I'd want to use parrots or corvids, probably."

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"Some people definitely want tails.  But yes, birds are the ones I'm most interested in as well."

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"Elephants are also smart, and cetaceans, but those are harder to keep and breed."

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"I'm not sure we have either of those; what are they like?"

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"Elephants are huge grey quadrupeds with prehensile noses called trunks, cetaceans are smooth ocean-dwelling mammals with blowholes at the top of their head to breathe through and a generally fishy form factor."

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"I think we don't have elephants; it's plausible that cetaceans are out there without anyone knowing about them.  Or, people who do things in the ocean might have seen them without the general populace finding out."

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