« Back
Generated: Jan 26, 2021 4:51 PM
Post last updated: Jan 24, 2021 6:27 PM
red tide at morning, heroes take warning
Actana!Areus is dropped in planescape
Permalink Mark Unread

They are not sure what is wrong with Vitek's world, but is less actively hostile than most others they have found. It's possible they could find some use for the place even if it's not good for colonization, and it isn't that much of an effort to send an exploration party to look around for a couple of days.

"Huh, why the portal looks like that?" Areus asks.

He is answered by a Centaur Faen with the body of a deer. "It's a new kind of gate, saves time when moving to the same world."

Areus has a feeling that something is amiss about it, oddly enough, he also has a feeling he should ignore it. So he steps through.

New kind of gate or not, Areus is pretty sure it should not feel like that, it's like he is falling but without a consistent down...

Permalink Mark Unread

...and then he is falling, getting sucked into a whirlpool, by the looks of it. It drags him down, and down, and then- he's in a vast ocean, surrounded on all sides by water.

Permalink Mark Unread

Okay, water. Luckily, he can breathe water. He is pretty sure that the landing point was not supposed to be underwater. Or near an ocean for that matter. No reason to panic, he will just go up and figure out what to do from there.

Permalink Mark Unread

Up, up, up, up, up...

It soon becomes clear that reaching the surface will not be a matter of minutes.

Permalink Mark Unread

...That is weird. Light doesn't go that far underwater. Maybe this world's oceans are much cleaner or something? Or maybe he somehow picked the wrong direction. It has been a while since he was in a body of water this deep. Maybe his sense of down is messed up or something. He did just go through an experimental portal.

Permalink Mark Unread

After experimentally testing a few other directions, it becomes clear that this could become tedious quite quickly. The water is a pleasant temperature, not too hot or too cold.

Permalink Mark Unread

Swim. Swim. Stubbornly swimming.

 

This kind of boredom is exactly why he doesn't swim as much as he is able to. He can't believe dad grew up in a place like this. He takes a moment to collect himself. Checking his things, fastening things, so they don't float out of his pockets.

Starvation is the main issue here: he can't drown, freeze to death, and he can drink saltwater just fine. By then his people ought to rescue by then.

So the main issue is actually being bored out of his school. Ugh. He will swim, maybe he will be able to find the bottom of this ocean? Is there a direction that looks darker than the rest?

Permalink Mark Unread

From this vantage point, all of the directions look equally dark at a certain distance.

Permalink Mark Unread

No sign of... anything besides water anywhere? He will keep swimming, since that is more likely to get him to come across something than standing still.

Permalink Mark Unread

After about an hour he notices what might be a slight increase in temperature- but he could just be imagining it. What's more obvious is some approaching shapes in the distance.

Permalink Mark Unread

If he wasn't unusually perceptive - and unusually perceptive about things regarding temperature - he would think it was his imagination. But those approaching shapes are more interesting. He goes towards that.

Permalink Mark Unread

Sharks! They're sharks. They don't find him particularly interesting, although they do observe him as they pass.

Permalink Mark Unread

He wonders if the part of him that isn't giant makes it more or less likely for them to find him tasty. How many sharks? He tries to appraise the chances of him winning in a fight in case Areus decides to try raw shark meat as an emergency food.

Permalink Mark Unread

There are three sharks, and they are bigger than the average human- he might stand a better than average chance.

Permalink Mark Unread

See, the thing here is that he is so bored, that being in pain sounds appealing. But again, animals never make that great of fighters. Areus might follow them from a safe distance, but he doubts that will result in much of anything.

Permalink Mark Unread

The sharks feed on some fish. They do not attack him.

Below, at the edge of his vision, there appear to be seaweed tendrils drifting in the current.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus can't recall if that is the sort of that usually happens in the open ocean, but regardless he will just take a look, maybe the seaweed got stuck on something?

Permalink Mark Unread

As he gets closer, it becomes clear that the seaweed is growing out of a rocky surface underneath it. He can see various plants, fish, and smaller creatures flitting about and growing from this porous, white stone.

Permalink Mark Unread

Finally! Something new! Also confusing, but more importantly: new! He goes around the thing, if only to explore it. Maybe he can figure out what the fuck? Is the deal with this place.

Permalink Mark Unread

The rock, which is host to seaweed, snails, starfish, prawn, rockfish, maggots, and more. The rock appears to float entirely independent of any larger structure. Although it takes him ten minutes to circumnavigate it, in that time, none of the native life seems to pay him much mind. Besides seaweed, mud, invertebrates, and a few fish, there is nothing much here to capture his notice.

Permalink Mark Unread

Nothing much is still better than nothing at all. He will at least take a rest here and assess the situation. He will find some place to sit, or float, or whatever.

Since they haven't figured out how to fish him out from this ocean - heh - then it's the kind of mistake that will take a day or two to solve. Aren't they trying to figure out how to communicate with people through worlds? Maybe he will get news sooner than a day. Still, ugh. Since no one popped up near him, it's quite possible that he is the only dealing with that. Small mercies. Also, lucky bastards.

No point in moping. This place is not interesting enough to hold his attention for two days, but he can at least make use of it. Do the various marine life look edible? He can hunt for something.

Permalink Mark Unread

The fish might be safer to try if frozen properly, but otherwise the risk of parasitic infection remains too high. Much the same is true for the invertebrates. It might be possible to process the seaweed in some way for consumption.

Permalink Mark Unread

...He will wait until his soggy rations are gone before eating anything.

Okay, he will try keeping this rock in sight and then carefully navigate around. Maybe there are more rocks like this one nearby, but he doesn't want to lose this one just yet.

Permalink Mark Unread

Keeping this rock in sight does not allow him much freedom, but he can circle the perimeter of his visual range. Eventually he does spot a speck in the distance that he could not see before.

Permalink Mark Unread

He observes the speck in case it's just a fish or something, but eventually decides to investigate anyway.

Permalink Mark Unread

It does seem to be moving, after enough observation. As he approaches, it begins to resolve into more individual shapes; a group of things, all moving in the same direction.

Permalink Mark Unread

Okay, he keeps swimming towards that group of whatever. Likely just another school of fish.

Permalink Mark Unread

As he gets closer, it does not appear to be a school of fish. It appears to be a group of humanoids with blue skin, and a single humanoid with brown skin.

Permalink Mark Unread

One of the blue-skinned humanoids moves in front of the brown-skinned humanoid and says something he can't understand. She waves her weapon through the water, letting it come to rest with her arm extended, so that the weapon is in her hand, but pointed above them and not at the newcomer.

Permalink Mark Unread

People!

Areus approaches the humanoids, deliberate telegraphed movements that signify he has no hostile intentions. It soon becomes clearer that he is about eight feet tall, but otherwise looks human. Carefully he unsheathes his sword (to him, it's more like a large knife) and mimics the gesture and the word.

Permalink Mark Unread

This doesn't particularly seem to help, although no one makes any moves against him. Without turning their head away from him, the one who stepped forward speaks.

Permalink Mark Unread

One of the other members of the party, the only individual who seems to be of a different species than the rest, steps forward. He keeps his hands in the air, palms facing Areus. He twists one hand towards himself to point at his mouth as he speaks the same foreign language as the others. Then, as he continues speaking unintelligibly, he points at the left and then right side of Areus' head.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Sorry, but I don't understand." Areus says, shaking his head.

Permalink Mark Unread

He rolls his eyes, continuing to speak. He barks something at one of the other figures-

Permalink Mark Unread

-who swims forward, towards Areus. Slowly, cautiously, so as not to scare him.  Another of them follows shortly after, when this doesn't provoke a violent reaction. They both hold tridents in their hands, but take care not to point them at the stranger.

Permalink Mark Unread

The one who initially spoke says something else, now. The others start to look nervous, but no one changes position.

Permalink Mark Unread

He is mindful of any possible vectors of attack, but he is always mindful of those things. Areus tries his best to look disinclined towards violence, and tries a few greetings in languages he knows. None of which work.

Permalink Mark Unread

The two figures who have approached closer now stand at his side. They point their tridents back towards their group, looking at him.

Permalink Mark Unread

The group begins swimming away, with one of them doing so slowly and with her eye on him. She gestures with her hand for him to follow.

Permalink Mark Unread

He gives everyone, including the people by his side, a winning smile and starts following.

Permalink Mark Unread

Although the group does not make much effort to slow down for him, Areus is easily able to keep up with their swimming speed. They converse amongst themselves, except for the two swimming next to him, who have all of their attention focused on him. They do not seem aggressive, but are clearly prepared to react poorly to anything that looks threatening.

Permalink Mark Unread

Doesn't sound unreasonable. He will pay attention to the words, figuring out if he can pick anything from context. But otherwise he is glad to just observe.

Permalink Mark Unread

Two of them are clearly talking about him, from their frequent glances back at him, but he isn't able to gather much from tone of voice or facial expressions.

Permalink Mark Unread

They seem to incorporate hand signs in their speech, or have a habit of gesticulating common to them both.

Permalink Mark Unread

After some time, the same figure who previously tried miming something makes a second attempt. He points to Areus' head and to his chest. Then he tugs on his own ears, ending on a shrug.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus guesses that the brown stranger wants to know what Areus is.

"Giant," he replies, which isn't wrong. He is half sea-serpent, but let's stick to simple answers first.

Permalink Mark Unread

Eyeroll.

"Giant," the brown stranger repeats. He points at several of the others, indiscriminately: "Tritons."

He points at himself. "Human, orc, half-orc." He smiles; it's not pretty. He doesn't seem interested in continuing the conversation further.

Permalink Mark Unread

Finally, they begin to approach some kind of domed city. The group begins to speak more intensely and more rapidly.

Permalink Mark Unread

Okay, Areus keeps following the Tritons and the Human-orc-half-orc whatever those are supposed to mean.

Nice, civilization! He wonders if they can find some translation solution in there.

Permalink Mark Unread

The party detours slightly; rather than approaching the dome itself, they approach a ball of seaweed drifting about the ocean.

Permalink Mark Unread

One of the tritons grabs it.

Permalink Mark Unread

The human-orc-half-orc waves his hand in the air, clutching a small marble between his fingers. Using his other hand, he holds onto the shoulder of one of the tritons.

Permalink Mark Unread

That triton holds hands with the next triton-

Permalink Mark Unread

-who holds hands with the next, and then Areus-

Permalink Mark Unread

-while another takes his other hand-

Permalink Mark Unread

-and so on, until the last triton wraps an arm around the waist of the triton holding onto the seaweed.

Permalink Mark Unread

Okay, he can hold hands. The relatively tiny hands, which he is careful not to hurt.

Permalink Mark Unread

After a few more seconds of marble-clutching, the colors all around them swirl and Areus becomes disoriented as he suddenly falls, no longer holding onto anyone.

Permalink Mark Unread

He can, now, see the hustle and bustle of a city in motion all around him, and several tritons floating around him as they regain their wits as well.

Permalink Mark Unread

He keeps his eyes watchful while the Tritons and the human-orc-half-orc recover. This is much bigger than any underwater settlements he ever visited. The various aquatic people just don't cluster this much. What kind of place did they land on?

Permalink Mark Unread

There are all different kinds of people here, doing all kinds of things that don't make much sense. There are objects floating above the people near them, which would be perfectly sensible if suspended in water- but this dome seems to be full of air. There are many species here Areus has never encountered, most of which are bipedal; an individual of one such unfamiliar species is running towards them clumsily.

Permalink Mark Unread

The human-orc-half-orc steps forward to greet the newest arrival.

Permalink Mark Unread

They talk, and the newcomer waves his staff and says something that Areus cannot understand, and then-

"...sentence in your language. This is a sentence-"

Permalink Mark Unread

"That was a sentence in my language!" Areus says brightly. "Hello, there."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh! Hello. Yes, this will last one minute. One hour, one day, breathe, eat, food, yes, no, uh, oh dear...say words while I can understand your speech, please. Thank you!"

Permalink Mark Unread

Several of the tritons are paying rapt attention.

Permalink Mark Unread

He repeats the words the fish-person just said and adds. "Giant. Left. Right. Down. Up. Stay. Move. Food. Bathroom. Work. Danger. Safe. Friend. Enemy. Sleep. Wake up. Point. Object. Person. One. Two. Three. Add. Subtract. Divide. Multiply. Equal. Different. Person. Animal. Name. My. Yours. Theirs. I. You. They. We. He. She. Sorry. Understand. Repeat." He can go on...

Permalink Mark Unread

"...no," they interject when he gets to 'sorry'.

"No...three? No three words sorry."

They turn to the tritons and proceed to repeat some of the words they exchanged with Areus. There seems to be some confusion and argument about the last words he said: the pronouns, 'sorry', 'understand', and 'repeat'.

Permalink Mark Unread

One of the tritons does turn to Areus.

"I you one day he repeat you speech. One day, repeat, add words. Two day, repeat, add words... three day..."

Permalink Mark Unread

Huh. If he is reading the situation correctly, this isn't a full on translation power, just something that last for a short while? Okay. Foreign magic. Shouldn't be surprising. They didn't get the pronouns and those three words. Which, is unfortunate, because what the trition just said could be easily replied with "I understand".

"Yes." Areus replies. "One day, repeat, add words. Two plus two day, repeat, add words?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Two 'plus' two...equal..."

He pauses.

"Two plus two equal four. You 'understand' four? I...understand...giant, day, left, down, right, up...sleep, wake up, one, two, three?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Four." He completes, and after a moment adds. "Giant sleep. Person sleep," he points at the staff-wielding fish-person, "Giant wake up. Person wake up. Add Words."

Permalink Mark Unread

-nod.

"Giant eat? One eat? Two eat? Three? Four? Day six hours sleep."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Giant eat, three eat. Sleep six hours. Giant work?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"One day giant work, one day giant eat. Yes?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes." That's usually how it works when you don't do subsistence farming or foraging. "Giant stay? Giant work, eat, sleep?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"No understand 'stay', sorry. Giant-"

Permalink Mark Unread

Another triton interrupts, saying something in their language.

Permalink Mark Unread

"-yes. Giant stay, giant sleep, giant eat, giant work. Giant safe, giant friend. I person friend you giant."

Permalink Mark Unread

The other tritons seem to find this entertaining based on the smiles on their faces and the noises they're making; they resemble laughter, anyway.

Permalink Mark Unread

Okay. So. Some of them caught the pronouns and the other words. That should've been obvious sooner. He smiles at the laughing tritons. "You person friend. I giant friend." Pause, and pointing at himself. "Name Areus."

Permalink Mark Unread

"My person triton. You person giant. You name Areus. My name Merves."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Merves giant friend friend," snickers one of the other tritons.

Permalink Mark Unread

Merves doesn't dignify that with a response.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus almost dignifies that with "not my type". But decides to keep conversation on track. "Triton Merves. Giant Areus." He makes an expansive gesture at the group. "Name? Names?" Hopefully the plural inflection will be recognized for what it is.

Permalink Mark Unread

Sure, they can cover plurals.

Permalink Mark Unread

Eventually, the tritons point him at some work that needs doing. Can he gather plants? Stir a pot?

Permalink Mark Unread

Yes to both things. He gesticulates to at the blade hanging by his side. "Areus work. No Areus person danger. Yes Areus person safe." Pause. "Areus friend."

Permalink Mark Unread

Then Areus can get put to work, and he can be shown a place to sleep. It's a building made of stone, and inside there are many soft surfaces on the ceiling with a few curtains hung up between them. There are a variety of kinds of people here, too.

Permalink Mark Unread

The tritons leave him there for the night, except for one, who takes the bed nearest his.

Permalink Mark Unread

People here seen to tend towards human size, but Areus manages to accommodate himself well enough in a bed. He looks around to judge the level of modesty among the other sleeping people, and strips down to that. If his companion is up for it he will try to learn more words in the local language. Or sleep if/when that's not an option.

Permalink Mark Unread

His companion is not up for it.

Permalink Mark Unread

Most of the people here seem to be in varying states of undress based on their species. Individuals of the species that more closely resemble him are more heavily-clothed.

Permalink Mark Unread

Yeah, that is entirely fair of the companion. Areus will remove his shirt if that doesn't look obviously scandalous. Then sleep.

Permalink Mark Unread

No one voices concern about his scandalous state of undress, or otherwise interrupts his sleep.

Permalink Mark Unread

Then he will wake up more than five hours, but less than six hours later. He isn't sure how this place does night or day, but that wasn't his usual bedtime. Not that he had a regular bedtime in the past while. Is his companion awake?

Permalink Mark Unread

His companion seems to be asleep, as do most of the people staying here.

Permalink Mark Unread

Okay. He will see about using the privy and wait.

Permalink Mark Unread

A small side room appears to contain a toilet, which he can operate in the fashion he is familiar with, and an adjoining, smaller room which contains a soap dispenser and nothing else.

Permalink Mark Unread

Convenient. After getting his business done he returns to bed, to wait. Trying not to feel too restless.

Permalink Mark Unread

And eventually, his companion wakes up.

"Sleep sleep sleep?"

She speaks impatiently, barely paying attention to him as she starts to leave the building.

Permalink Mark Unread

He is very impatient as well, and is up and waiting as soon as she is standing. Or whatever is the equivalent in this place with no gravity. "Sleep."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes," she says, and that's all she says to him before she ties them together with rope. Few of the buildings seem to be designed with the lack of gravity in mind, externally. It is only the liberal use of ropes to tie people and objects together that reveals just how much of a concern this is. Unlike yesterday, they begin to float through the air as they walk through the city.

Permalink Mark Unread

He is not going to take this opportunity to show off how fast he could adapt to this environment and do some acrobatic feats. But Areus is moving with ease through the weightlessness and air.

Permalink Mark Unread

She seems a bit less adaptable, perhaps, but more acclimated to the city's ways. As they fly, his companion uses her other rope, which ends in a hook, to latch onto various handholds built along the city's buildings. He can see other people similarly navigating the city. Finally, they arrive at a simple clay building with little in the way of aesthetic complexity.

Permalink Mark Unread

In just a minute of waiting, some of the figures from the previous day exit the building; they seem to be walking normally.

Permalink Mark Unread

The same translator from the previous day is there, waving the staff at them in greeting.

Permalink Mark Unread

The hook thing is cool. He hopes he will eventually get to try that.

He greets the familiar faces. Day two add words?

Permalink Mark Unread

Staff gets waved, words he doesn't understand get spoken.

"Now."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Thanks!" Which works both for the translation and to show appreciation. "Metal, wood, magic, mind, water, fire, earth, air. Opposite. Request. Need. Translation. World. God. Death. Refugee. Help. Color. Shape. Building. Object. Price. Money. Almost. Maybe. Parent. Sibling. Time. Now. Later. Before. Earlier." He tries a good balance between comprehensible and quick.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Say, go, open, give, take, become? Belief-world? Prime-material-world? Want? Alignment? Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil? Who, when, if."

Permalink Mark Unread

He is clearly confused, but that doesn't stop him from repeating. "Don't know what is alignment."

Permalink Mark Unread

This seems to stump the translator, who realizes about five seconds later that he should say something before-

Too late. The spell runs out.

Permalink Mark Unread

The human-orc-half-orc grunts in exasperation.

"Say yes, take mind? I request you give mind. Mind translation. Six...time less minute. Time less minute?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Okay, new world.

"Take mind safe? Safe yes."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Safe. Yes?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes." He says trying to open his mind...

Permalink Mark Unread

And he listens in.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus' thoughts are mostly confused, going over "Chaotic? Lawful? Belief-world?" He doesn't know the importance and wonder if this world is different in that regard.

Permalink Mark Unread

He'll take over, then, after a brief conversation. Maybe he can finally sate his burning curiosity about where the stranger came from- none of their hypotheses so far have panned out. He certainly couldn't have predicted that the stranger wouldn't know anything about alignment. Perhaps some kind of small, secluded demiplane?

"You understand plane. I understand 'world'. Plane is world; I say plane, you say world. You no understand alignment?"

Mixing in a few Aquan words helps; he's never been a quick study at languages.

Permalink Mark Unread

He nods at the parts about planes and worlds. He thinks and speaks after a pause. "Do not understand alignment? Aligment good evil chaotic lawful? Areus maybe good?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Maybe Good, huh? That might be useful. It's nice that the other guards haven't bothered to pay much attention to this.

"Good...if Good, person give, person help, person hundred help, you work for I and he and she, no eat no sleep, you give give give, no take, death. Chaotic Good opposite Chaotic Evil. Chaotic Good opposite Lawful Good....repeat later, add words. I Neutral Evil."

Permalink Mark Unread

Well, that is both confusing and worrisome. He tries not eye his surroundings too suspiciously. "I... give help yes. Areus want eat Areus work Areus eat. My world danger I help my world."

Permalink Mark Unread

Shrug.

"World hundred hundred. Say you language 'Thousand'? Me help hundred hundred no. Me help you, he, she."

Permalink Mark Unread

"One Thousand equal ten hundred," he supplies, he relaxes a bit, mostly to not escalate the situation, but he is attentive. "You help 'less'?  Word less translation... two less four, four less hundred."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Three less four,  hundred less thousand? Yes, I help less person. If person request help, who person? Person friend, I help. Person friend no, I no help. Thousand person, I no help, no friend."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I understand." He is not sure how that is evil. "Refugee request help you no help? Areus world danger. Gods want death. Now Areus world danger danger danger."

Permalink Mark Unread

Shrug.

"Who? I help you. I help he, he, she...world? No. I help you. Say he, he, she if want request help."

He points to some of the other tritons.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus nods. "Who help world? Refugees maybe pay help. Refugees maybe work you. Maybe divide work you pay you maybe not you. Refugees three thousand..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Three thousand...no if no work. No...building for three thousand refugee. If refugee work, maybe. Say refugee work?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Refugee maybe work. Maybe a thousand? Refugee maybe parent. Refugee maybe not want move water place. Areus world nine different people. Water people, wood people and magic people maybe move here."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Water people? Wood people? Magic people?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Water people name sea serpent. Wood people name Faen. Magic people name dragon." He starts explaining, making sure each part is easy to understand. "Sea serpent 'and' dragon breathe water 'and' air. Faen breathe maybe air maybe water. Areus one parent sea serpent one giant, Areus breathe air 'and' water."

Permalink Mark Unread

Nod.

"Thank you."

Most of the explanations he wants to solicit will need to wait until he learns more of his language. Still, he can try to expand his vocabulary a little. He's starting to understand 'and', he thinks, after a little bit of back and forth:

"One sea serpent add two dragon. One sea-serpent and two dragon? If earlier sleep, later wake up. Sleep now day and wake up tomorrow?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes." Maybe they can add 'or' to their vocabulary. "Opposite and word 'or'. Move left or move right. Not move left and move right. Understand?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Sea serpent work? Giant work? Areus work sea serpent and giant?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"I need understand you. You want understand people. Or want understand work if people move your place?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Nod.

"I want understand refugee work if refugee work later. Now, no work. You help I understand equals you work."

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus nod. "Sea-serpent water magic and safe magic. Giant metal magic and understand magic. I less sea-serpent magic than giant magic. Two magics." He raises a hand to convey things more clearly. "Understand danger and fire." He raises the other. "Understand move and air.  I move safe less danger. I less danger if enemy. No Areus sea-serpent and giant different. Sea-serpent maybe move water, maybe no death, maybe change shape. Giant maybe move metal, maybe change object, maybe understand air, fire, earth, water, life, metal, magic, mind."

Permalink Mark Unread

It's really inconvenient that he can't communicate basic concepts until they've done more translation. They should probably find a linguist, but very few of those choose to make the City of Glass home. At least a merchant with more patience than Gulun. Until then, he has to make do with this. 'Understanding' things doesn't sound immediately useful, but he'll wait until they've secured better relations before burning any bridges.

"Move...up building? Move safe?"

He points above, far overhead, at the glass dome that surrounds the city.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus grins. He glances up then easily launches himself towards the top of the building. It looks effortless, even when you account for the lack of gravity, something that big usually can't move that fluidly.

Permalink Mark Unread

Blink blink blink.

Light applause.

He's pretty sure that happened faster than even most sorcerers could act, although he would want an arcane expert to independently confirm that. It could be a crucial advantage that would put their guild over the top. He's not sure how to convince someone concerned about refugees to share his priorities, though. He'll need to pray tonight.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus grins and bows slightly. "Move understand. And I understand danger," he points at this weapon. "Different person understand different. Sibling and sea-serpent dad understand people. Giant parent understand equal Areus. And metal and water less danger Areus, four times less danger."

Permalink Mark Unread

Nod.

"Understand danger now?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Maybe I not understand you? Areus work understand danger."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I not understand you. Tomorrow understand danger? Three ten day understand move?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes tomorrow. Three ten day equal month.You need understand move?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Shrug.

"Now I understand you."

They continue to speak for a little while longer. He painstakingly extracts a few more bits of vocab. They manage to learn some color words, verbs that are easy to mime, and words for longer periods of time. There is an embarrassing moment when he mistakes the word for 'say' for the word for 'mouth', which he realizes only when they move on to body parts.

Permalink Mark Unread

In retrospect, they should have been clearer if they had done verbs and body parts as two distinct categories.

Areus is trying to get the word for "combat", so he can clarify that is what he has been meaning when he uses the word "danger".

Permalink Mark Unread

It takes some time for him to agree that 'combat' is a good word for whatever Areus is trying to demonstrate, but sure, that's fine. The weapon he has sheathed at his side is for combat.

"Combat, yes."

Permalink Mark Unread

And Areus explains that his understanding power is "less danger more combat".

It might be clear that this was annoying him. He will want as many words as they are willing to give. But if they want him to do something to earn his keep, he will go about doing that instead.

Permalink Mark Unread

He's still not entirely sure he's understood it. It could mimic any number of spells, if it's a racial ability. Still, better to save face and end the conversation now.

They can test out the boundaries of his skills in combat.

Permalink Mark Unread

Finally, the mysterious prime finally becomes interesting. She'd been wondering.

She isn't going to bother trying to talk to it, but she will give it the choice of weapons: unarmed, brass knuckles, hammer, horseshoe...?

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus is very excited about this. Do the brass knuckles or the horseshoe fit him? He will go with the hammer. In his hand is small on his hand, but he is more familiar with it.

Permalink Mark Unread

The hammer seems like the best bet, after investigation of the relative size of their fingers. She picks up a hammer of her own, and hands him one. They start ten paces from each other. She isn’t sure how well he heals, or whether he’ll do something stupid like hit her in the knees. She can’t kill it until they can explain what alignment is properly, according to those with the authority to tell her to play nice.

She takes position.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus takes his position as well. Or rather, he flows into it. Holding the hammer like it was a familiar thing. He grins and apparently waits for her to make the first move.

Permalink Mark Unread

She runs straight towards it, screaming as loud as she possibly can. She will apologize for this later, if anyone asks for one, but for now...she tries to strike.

Permalink Mark Unread

Fun. Too telegraphed, but this means he can really show off. It almost looks like he is just going to take the hit, but instead Areus catches the hammer with his hand and directs all that lovely momentum to disarm her from her hammer. He, of course, is smiling very cockily by the end of it.

Permalink Mark Unread

...well. She'd wanted to provoke a flinch that she could take advantage of, but she underestimated it. It's more intelligence than she gave it credit for. They didn't establish any rules about what happens in the case of a lost weapon, hampered as they are by her refusal to learn any of its language. She holds up her hands, admitting defeat anti-climatically.

Although she's not smiling, she seems to be more relaxed in his presence than she has previously.

Permalink Mark Unread

"She name Vlathyn," he adds, in case Areus cares about that sort of thing.

He's not particularly watching them, though. His attention is on a loudly arguing group of adults and children nearby.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Thanks. More combat Vlathyn?" Areus asks her.

He was aware of the loud argument, mostly because he is just aware of any aggressive behavior around him. But is there any reason why Merves would be paying attention to it?

Permalink Mark Unread

The argument appears to be mostly personal; it's a family discussing one of the children's intent to emigrate for their education.

Permalink Mark Unread

Merves appears to want to interrupt them due to personal annoyance at having to witness their public argument.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes."

Spurred by her previous loss, Vlathyn appears determined to win the next bout. She picks up the horseshoe, looking at him questioningly.

Permalink Mark Unread

He understands that as using the same weapon again. Or even if it's not that, he assumes there won't be any trouble. He feels the (lack) of weight with the horseshoe on his hand and once again flows into the combat stance.

Permalink Mark Unread

Fighting with horseshoes, similar to fighting with hammers, is really a matter of who hits first. She has no special advantages compared to the average member of her species. When he lands another hit, this time, she doesn't seem raring to go for another round. That'll hurt in the morning.

Permalink Mark Unread

He offers his apologies.

Permalink Mark Unread

She doesn't particularly understand them and having to have an apology translated takes some of the power from it. She does a gesture that he doesn't recognize-

Permalink Mark Unread

-which their translator hurriedly translates, despite their lack of vocabulary as:

"Friend. Repeat tomorrow?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes. Friend." Grin.

Permalink Mark Unread

Then they can call it a night here. Areus can assist with a few other menial tasks, which Merves thinks he's likely wasted on. They spend much of the next week like that: learning more about what Areus can do, what his people need, and what the city could use them for. Explaining alignment looks to be a significant project, though. They don't manage a satisfactory explanation, despite several frustrating attempts to do so.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus thinks he has progressed on learning the intricacies of alignment. But it's progress relative to "add words" once a day in a highly philosophical topic.

The fact that most of his family is rather book smart and curious about philosophical aspects is working against him just not accepting things as it is. Merves might not be trustworthy, but has been helpful so far. Usually people that call themselves "evil" are less socially competent than that. He can just imagine his half-siblings talking at length on the topic while Areus and his father just nod along.

Speaking of his father.

Permalink Mark Unread

A week or so after Areus' sudden arrival a ghostly visage appears during his downtime. He and Areus proceed to talk in hurried tones.

Permalink Mark Unread

That sure is indicative of a magic system very different than their own, or a powerful caster. He steps out to give them some privacy, but tries to eavesdrop.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Dad, finally. Why did it take you guys so long?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"We are still busy with the end of the world, Areus." The figure's voice can be... understood, despite not speaking any languages Merves knows. "This world is weird, the scholars explained it is several worlds sort of together like a whole. Which makes our way of targeting less reliable."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Does this mean that I am stuck here for a few days or a few years?" Areus doesn't get a nifty translation effect. But he doesn't sound like he is talking about some terrible uncertainty.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Not years. Definitely should be possible to send things and people your way after a few months. And we should talk once a week. Could be more, but: end of the world."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah, how long do we have to talk? How are things? And everyone?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"At least a few minutes, maybe a dozen or so. Our family is fine, but overworked. They cancelled the visit to Vitek's world after the portal you took visibly malfunctioned. How about you?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"I am alright, mostly doing menial tasks to pay for my keep. A translation artifact would really help, and if you send one I will throw it away because it's more needed over there."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Noted. We could only see glimpses of you, but you appeared to be well."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I am. The main problem is feeling bored and my skills wasted on. We have been trying to bridge the language gap. They have a lot more kinds of people. Also, Evil, Good, Law and Chaos are tangible things for magic. The person who left, is Evil. He is not interested in help people that he isn't close to."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I guess that makes me Evil? I am sure your mother would agree. And maybe Temperance's mom."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Changing the topic. Tell me more details on how is everyone?"

Sevet elaborates how specific individuals are doing.

Permalink Mark Unread

Well. Looks like they just have this one, for now. They can work with that.

He starts going on excursions with Rropp while Areus is doing other work, in the hopes that the damn fool can pick up some better magic. He continues to talk alignment with Areus as they continue to add vocabulary. By this point, between Rropp dedicating all of his spells to translation on most days, they've covered most of what needs to be covered.

After the end of the second week, Merves is ready to actually discuss things that matter.

Permalink Mark Unread

By that point Areus would really like the chance to do something meaningful with his time.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Maybe I am selfish, but I want to repeat the alignment topic. We discuss but not enough words. Now we have enough, maybe, to discuss."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Maybe enough to discuss," Areus agreeable. "But why you need to discuss it?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Important you understand alignment. Alignment affects much. Alignment affects who are friends and enemies. Alignment affects where you go after death. Alignment affects who trusts you and who- opposite trust?- who not trusts you. Alignment affects what you want and what you say and what you do."

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus nods. "Alright Opposite of trust is distrust." He tries to revise their conversations on the topic under the lens of having more words to communicate concepts. "Can aligment change?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Nod.

"Alignment can change, but very very slow. You want alignment change, alignment change. Most not want alignment change. Alignment is what you want for you and what you want for- city, people, world. Respectful, prudent, or independent, and altruistic, realistic, or ambitious. Lawful, neutral, or chaotic, and good, neutral, or evil."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Is that origin of problem? Actana is in danger. Actana people fight for it. Some actana people are evil. But still help."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Alignment not origin of problem. Alignment- people fight about what world should be. Evil people no help unless things help them. Actana in danger, good people help, no if. Always help. Neutral people help maybe. Evil people help...more maybe. I want help but I want things."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Alignment makes ..." They really didn't have the word for obvious "trait people can see. Precise see. People divide caused alignment. Question, Good and Neutral people not want Evil people help?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Good people not trust Evil people. Neutral people maybe trust Evil people."

Permalink Mark Unread

"What if someone make friend with good people and friend with evil people?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Good people trust Evil people small things. Evil trust Good people big things, maybe. Maybe Good people bad at things, because Good. Good harm self for help others."

Permalink Mark Unread

"You say that, makes Neutral appear better. My people would not say in your words. Maybe Areus Neutral."

Permalink Mark Unread

Shrug.

"I say Evil best- Evil is ambitious, Evil wants more things. Good is no way for people to be if want things. Maybe no, maybe I am wrong. Important thing is, I want help your people, but I say what I want. If you help me, I help your people."

Permalink Mark Unread

He makes a point of repeat the shrug. "Yes. That is maybe a good trade. What you say thing you want?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Want move all buildings up. Thing around all buildings. Want move whole place up."

Permalink Mark Unread

"The... stop air wall? Bubble? Why? How?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Air bubble down is bad place. I want move up, far from bad place. Word for things down? One thing here, down, one other thing. Where is one other thing?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Under?" He supplies. "A bad thing is down from you. A bad thing is under you?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Bad thing under the bubble. Good people in bubble say, we can help. I say, bad thing harm us, we die. Death bad. I want move up, then Good people forget this help and think new help."

Permalink Mark Unread

"What is good thing under the bubble?

Permalink Mark Unread

Right. He almost forgot he was talking to a Good person. He hates talking to Good people.

"Water is bad there. People here want to help with water, do less bad. People are harm because they go there. Bad. I want go up, Good people help if Evil people say what do, no if Good people say what do."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Good people not want to go up and help with the bad place? Not sound smart not doing both."

Permalink Mark Unread

He wishes he'd studied linguistics, or whatever previously-impractical subject would help him learn languages more quickly. Maybe it's purely intelligence, in which case he has spent his time well by not wasting his time on it.

"No. I do no know what is up. Bad place with bad harm water is under bubble, and Good people want fix bad place because they want bad harm water die. If bad harm water die, no people die in bad harm water. But fix bad harm water is difficult, so Good people die if want fix and go to bad place."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I agree with your point. But what needed to move bubble up?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Help. People can learn magic. Good people learn some magic, but for help what Good people want. You people have different- help things, can help different. Giants can movement and fire? You can movement and combat, yes? And refugees can learn our magic, and then help move bubble up."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Giants magic is skill and metal. Refugees can move the bubble yes. Water-breathing refugees more that. Some move water. Some rock. Maybe some move air if that help. Many will want learn your magic. My half-sibling Temperance will. He understands magic similar how I understand combat."

Permalink Mark Unread

Oh good. This might actually turn out to be worth the time he's already invested in it. He'd been skeptical of it, when Gulun had decided to cover the costs of meeting a prime's basic needs. Nod nod.

"Yes, thank you. I will thank you and them and we will safe them here in our bubble. If too many, we will find where they can stay. You should meet my other friends, because now you know much Aquan."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Good idea."

Permalink Mark Unread

They can head back over to Gulun, who has been passive-aggressively criticizing his approach to the situation for a week now.

"Areus, he is Gulun Commonseeker. Gulun, he is Areus."

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus gives his best friendly smile, not being sure if this is a situation with Protocol.

Permalink Mark Unread

"You understand much Aquan now, yes? Welcome to the City of Glass, Areus. We are happy to welcome you."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I feel welcome, thank you. Aquan is better understand."

Permalink Mark Unread

"You learn faster than Merves. He say you want help us? No...bad water place below the dome, but help with move the dome around the city up?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Correct. Areus world needs place for refugees. Some maybe want to be here. We would like place to be more safe."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Good. Do you know how you came here?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Not the skill I am good at. But you world different from Actana. Portal tried to go elsewhere, but it go here instead. Family is working to get here."

Permalink Mark Unread

Frown.

"Portal not very- common. Interesting. Maybe god help or harm you, so you come here. Good for me and for City of Glass, good for refugees. I can show you where the refugees will stay."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Would be good if friend god, but..." he shrugs. "Let me see refugees' place."

Permalink Mark Unread

He shows him. The City of Glass does not have much in the way of unoccupied housing, but there is some which is too expensive to stay completely full year-round. Large apartment buildings, of sorts, though mostly constructed out of coral and pearl.

Permalink Mark Unread

"100 people can stay here. If they share house-rooms, is that enough?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"We have more people than that. But for people that breath water would be enough."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Why is your world- how soon?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Our gods want death. For themselves. Everyone dying was okay for them. World is most night all time. Some turned to monsters. We are try to find new world, but not easy."

Permalink Mark Unread

Nod.

"We will find solution. Water breathe people can come here. Merves says also air breathe and one more people? Merves bad at speaking your language."

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus answers the promise for a solution with a sincere, but not very hopeful smile. "We have nine kinds of people. Dragon and Sea Serpent people always breathe water and air. Faen maybe breathe water. Spirit not need breathe one or two ways, but need less help. Most refugees to City of Glass more maybe- more likely, be Faen or part something breathe water, like me."

Permalink Mark Unread

Nod.

"Dragon, Sea Serpent, Faen can live outside City of Glass? Others can live inside the dome. Some refugees at first, then more. Who is...should be first?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"The hybrids, part-human, part-faen, maybe part other if they breathe water. Most families, I think? People with move the city maybe stay. Maybe stay for only move the city time. We want try other worlds. Have many places if one is failure, others is success for live."

Permalink Mark Unread

Nod.

"Other planes we know! Maybe refugees live in those planes. Outer Planes good for live if you like- alignment. They call thing alignment, all of many things alignment, but is different than alignment here. Alignment here is easy understand. Alignment there is difficult. If you no like alignment, live in Air, maybe. Plane of Air is safe for most people."

Permalink Mark Unread

"That is good. Maybe we try Outer Planes if some people want to. How is Air plane? Good place to fly?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Good place to fly, good place to form cities and climb mountains. Air is good for lots of things. It is most like a," he says something Areus does not understand. "Then refugees can live there, because it is like their place."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Translate that word?" he repeats it "And Air Plane sounds more... wanted for most people. Most people not breathe water, and some people fly."

Permalink Mark Unread

"That word is...word for the world you are from. World that has- things and- hmph. You do not understand 'belief'. 'Belief' is...how you think world is, how you think I am, how you think world should be, that is 'beliefs'. If world is how you think, that is 'fact'. If I am how you think I am, that is 'fact'. Dome is up, that is fact. Dome is cold to touch, that is belief because I no know if dome is cold to touch. If you no know fact, that is belief. Understand? Belief is maybe yes maybe no, but if you believe, you think belief is yes."

Permalink Mark Unread

Wow. Temperance will find this place fascinating, while several philosophers tear their hair out of their heads trying to figure out how it can work like that. Areus probably didn't understand things right, and maybe he should not. "We can move refugees there too?" He asks.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Maybe. I cannot say, I am not Air. If you can give them good things and if enough Good people want to help you, then yes."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Is a good trade to try." Areus says with a shrug. "More options should not hurt. Do you know more other options?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Besides the Outer Planes (which he wants to re-iterate, rely on belief and not physical matter, which is scary and stupid), some of which are hospitable to most species, and the plane of Air, there are also some Prime worlds (the word which he used to refer to Areus' homeworld) that might accept refugees.

Permalink Mark Unread

The Outer planes do sound like something that require more careful planning than normal, yes. Areus is mostly being thorough because they hardly suffered from an excess of options. At the moment it sounds like they will try settlements here, Air, and Prime.

Permalink Mark Unread

At minimum, yes.

Gulun attempts to convey that these planes are believed to be infinite but this is difficult to convey, so he settles for conveying really, really big.

Permalink Mark Unread

Yeah, but infinite and really, really big both work for their purposes.

Permalink Mark Unread

Gulun is also interested in hearing about what Areus' people trade, amongst themselves. Trade appears to be an interest of his, and he wants to hear as much as Areus is willing to share.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus can supply trading information: probably not that different from what prime people trade, more focus on foods and manufactured goods.

Permalink Mark Unread

And after all the boring talking is out of the way, his sparring friend would like to spar with him again.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus is always up for a good sparring!

Permalink Mark Unread

This time they can try slings. It's an interesting challenge, firing ranged projectiles in such unusual gravity. Even more complicated that when they used hammers and horseshoes.

Permalink Mark Unread

Oooh, that sounds like a fun challenge! In general, he enjoys the new learning opportunities that the environment grants them. But he wouldn't be surprised if others didn't adjust as well.

Permalink Mark Unread

She thinks fighting in this environment is fun, too! You can't get anything quite like this experience throughout the plane, only in places like the City of Glass. Eventually, they've exhausted her limits, and she has to call an end to the matches. Still, this time she seems downright pleased when they part ways.

Permalink Mark Unread

"One more friend to introduce you and she. She is Good. You could like her."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Sure, show the way."

Permalink Mark Unread

He leads the way. This meeting doesn't occur in the main city street, but rather inside one of the many coral buildings that make up the City of Glass. The people inside rise up to the surface of the room, where there are idols, and seem to be attending to them: cleaning them, chanting at them, or touching them.

"Wait," he whispers to Areus as they walk inside.

Permalink Mark Unread

He will just float where Areus was told to wait then. Looking curiously at the various happenings. He guesses they are going to meet some kind of priest.

Permalink Mark Unread

Eventually, the person they're here to see spots them. She 'swims' down towards them through the air, smiling amiably.

"My name is Osudyn. You have learned much of our language. Thank you for your work."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Welcome! My name is Areus," He says smiling back.

Permalink Mark Unread

"My name is Osudyn. I want our people to work together. We have many different," unknown world, "and can help," unknown word.

Permalink Mark Unread

Merves attempts to clarify.

The first word is "skills". It has to do with "how you work, can you work. You are good with combat, so be good with combat is one of your skills."

The second word just means "each other" or "one another", which turns out to be the easier concept to get across.

Permalink Mark Unread

"That is good to hear. We maybe help 'one another' yes. Different magic and people."

Permalink Mark Unread

She goes over a few points. She wants to know how many people are dying a day in Areus' world, and whether there it is know what happens to people after they die. She wants to attract members of every species; even if they can't save every individual, they can at least minimize the destruction of entire intelligent species. Most importantly, though, she wants to talk to Areus about how to select safe places for people from his home world to live.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus can answer those questions. A dozen or so should be dying in a given day in Actana. This would be better news if the main reason for the low death count wasn't that most of the world died already. They are not sure what happens with people after death, with all different sort of cultures and ideologies having something to say about the details. What it is known, is that people's souls survive after the body's death, some kinds of magic are capable of interacting with them. Such as the ability to bring back dead to life with sufficiently powerful healing magic. Some people think that souls eventually become spirits - one of the nine kinds of people they have - but Areus is not sure if he buys that.

From what he has seen most Actanians have similar needs to the other races in the City of Glass. Areus thinks that there ought to be three main categories for places to put people on: Aquatic (like the Plane of Water); Aerial (a place in the Plane of Air); and Terrestrial (likely the Prime and maybe some other Outer worlds). Most refugees should fall into these three categories with maybe some weirdos that will prefer to be by themselves in the Plane of Fire or something. Oh, plus some species differences. Like, how Faen can eat any kind of plant without getting sick. Or spirits not having a physical form to need eating or breathing.

It takes a while to convey all that with Areus' limited vocabulary, but he has been mentally preparing for it.

Permalink Mark Unread

Enough of that seems to get across, anyway. Osudyn points out a few factors he may not know or may have forgotten (she hasn't been following his language-learning progress). The Prime has more flexible magic, which the refugees could learn. Most Outer Planes are more habitable than the Prime, while Inner Planes such as Water are less habitable. Additionally, they may need to consult a god before inviting people from another world to Water.

Permalink Mark Unread

Does she have suggestions for habitable Outer Planes? Is consulting a god safe?

Permalink Mark Unread

Most of the Good-aligned Outer Planes are especially pleasant; typically, the Chaos-aligned ones are more wild, while the Law-aligned planes are more civilized. If people enjoy untrammeled wilderness to explore, she would recommend the Beastlands or Arborea.

As for consulting a god, it would be best to appeal to a more devoted cleric than herself. Dealing with gods directly is not perfectly safe.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus thinks Good-aligned and maybe Law-aligned are preferable, at least in the short term. Wilderness people can wait until things are more settled.

He doesn't have further objections on consulting a god. Or at least he doesn't want to voice a joke about being impossible to make things worse. He is not that much of a daredevil.

Permalink Mark Unread

Osudyn will try her best to find one his people are likely to agree with. Is there anything...all of the refugees are likely to have in common? Are they all likely to be adventurous types? Typically, convincing a god to help benefits from some alignment with their priorities.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus doesn't know if there is much to have in common. Traumatized is probably not the thing she is aiming that. But he can say species' similarities. Humans, Faen and Giants are the only ones that come together in larger groups. Giants like skilled works and create and invent great and new things. Faens like life, prefering gardens over monuments, pets over hunting trophies, and servants over tools. Spirits are weird and have One Kind of Thing which they care about and will pursue with single-minded focus. Dragons may care about a lot of things, but it is always A Lot and sometimes this makes them dangerous, sometimes this makes them loners, sometimes this makes them competitive but fair, but always A Lot. Unicorns might not be Good and give thing selflessly but they like to be useful to others. Sea serpents, Humans, Phoenixes and Thunderbirds don't have a strong sense of... similarity.

They don't have magic that tells your Aligment in Actana. He is not sure how to classify species under them, if at all.

Permalink Mark Unread

Based on his assessment, she thinks that giants, faens, and dragons are likely the easiest to bring to their world costlessly, in which case she will find priests who might worship compatible gods. Spirits and unicorns are also likely to have options, but the vagueness there makes it a more complicated process to determine compatibility. Sea serpents have the advantage that they can immigrate to Water, which is willing to host them in exchange for their services.

Osudyn would like to hear more about what phoenixes and thunderbirds need.

Permalink Mark Unread

Phoenixes and thunderbirds look like birds. Phoenixes are this sized (the size of a swan or peafowl) and Thundebirds are this sized (about as long as Areus is tall and double that for a wingspan). Thunderbirds prefer to always be traveling, sometimes phoenixes join them forming mixed tribes. They have basic animal needs, except that they can fly while asleep. Phoenixes are weak against cold, but can set things on fire... Thunderbirds don't like being trapped? Panic really easy if you cage or tie them.

Permalink Mark Unread

Osudyn smiles throughout the description.

"They should do very well on the plane of Air. If they end up wanting to choose any other plane's skies, they'll be welcome to, but we should start them there."

This leaves spirits, unicorns, and humans as a bit tricky. She thinks unicorns might like any of the Good-aligned planes and the planes might like them, but she's concerned that spirits and humans will vary too much to place anywhere except on the Prime.

Permalink Mark Unread

Yeah, they can figure out individual cases after things are better settled.

Areus agrees with her assessments about unicorns. Is there any plane that they could leave the less active spirits for a few months or even a few weeks if necessary? Something with wilderness...

He thinks humans should fit nearly anywhere Giants and Faen can, but not in a way that fits a specific god.

Permalink Mark Unread

The best wilderness is on Arborea or the Beastlands, depending on your definition. She would advise putting them on Arborea first, with any who feel strongly enough being able to move later.

The problem with humans is that refugees with a lot of individual preferences will likely want to settle many different places, and planar travel is not easy without involving gods.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus doesn't know how to convey 'they found a finite, but really large magic source', but can at least explain that maybe Actana will be able to move everyone until they are where they want to be. But that is a reasonable concern.

Permalink Mark Unread

If they can manage the travel on their end, that's still good news. They can consult gods only where it would make an appreciable difference in quality of life to land in a specific place: unicorns, faen, and thunderbirds, she assumes?

Permalink Mark Unread

Sounds about right. Unicorns being a priority over the other two, Areus thinks the birds will find the Air Plane agreeable. But that depends how easily can they contact their gods.

Permalink Mark Unread

Difficult, but it should not take more than a few weeks.

Permalink Mark Unread

That sounds doable then.

Permalink Mark Unread

That's all of his friends. He doesn't have that many friends, something which he should probably work on once this is all done.

"What do you want to do next?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Maybe learn more about the planes? Maybe just Water. If refugees want life not in City of Glass, where refugees go?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Maybe other Air pockets. You remember pockets? Parts of one plane that have parts of another plane in them. Air pockets in Water are places where there is some of Air."

Technically, "Air pockets" are so rare because they actually require some other pocket to form initially, replacing the local Water, and then for an Air pocket to form inside them. He's not trying to explain that, though.

Permalink Mark Unread

"I remember. Maybe could make small pockets? Not City. Maybe buildings with Air." He waves at a nearby building to get a sense of size. "Some Actana to clean air."

Permalink Mark Unread

Nod nod nod.

"We would need to keep the Water out..."

Talking about the mechanics of how to solve Areus' problem helps distract him from his unfortunate conclusion that this influx of Good people might interfere with moving the city. Still, in the long run, it's probably better to have as much of a resource like this on Water as they can.

Permalink Mark Unread

Maybe Areus would reassure him if he shared those conclusions. As it is, he is happy to talk about what he knows about what underwater settlements in his world do.

A few days pass without much incident...

Permalink Mark Unread

...Then an incident happens!

The incident is a ball of cyan fabric suddenly popping into existence right above Areus. The ball unfolds with arms, legs and a head popping out. There is no way they could've been merely hidden under the fabric, the volume wouldn't fit.

Amidst this weird sight, one might even be forgiven for missing the vaguely humanoid figure that phases into existence a moment later, right next to the first stranger. A foot tall, where half of that is an oval head with a very elaborate mask or a very simple face.

"Areus!" Says Temperance to his half-brother, looking around.

Permalink Mark Unread

As usual, Merves is with him. This is not usual.

Merves says, "Aaa!"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Temperance! Couldn't you give a warning?" Areus says in his language.

The humanoid figure translates that, to no one in particular, pointing out that is said by Areus in his native language.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh, sorry." He who the translator spirit claims to be Temperance apparently says. "But we really couldn't. Also, hi! I am Areus' half-sibling. Sorry for the scare." He says this while apparently getting used to the lack of gravity, keeping himself in the right orientation.

Permalink Mark Unread

"A pleasure," he says, voice dripping with sarcasm.

"What manner of thing are you?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Thing is the right word."

Permalink Mark Unread

Temperance gets this translated.

"It is an actual pleasure to meet you!" Temperance counters the sarcasm with quite a lot of cheer. "I am a half Sea Serpent and half Dragon. With shape-shifting."

Temperance's companion translates the species' terms, with interesting collisions in Aquan.

Permalink Mark Unread

Half-dragon. Half...dragon???

Merves has never credited the theories that kobolds bear any relation to dragons, and he certainly doesn't believe that this stranger does. What a poor translation. Not that he intends to offend Temperance's companion over something so minor.

"That sounds incredibly entertaining. Is it an ability of much interest, to you, or is it as mundane as eating and sleeping is to the rest of us?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Both? It's tiring but changing shape is sort of a need for me."

He starts growing... tentacles? Yup, tentacles, four of them, with suction cups.

Permalink Mark Unread

Fascinating. Can he use them to pick things up and manipulate them? Merves puts down his flask.

Permalink Mark Unread

He uses two tentacles to stay in place and - realizing what he is doing - demonstrates the dexterity of the tentacle by picking up the flask.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Very well done! Do you have sensation in those tentacles? How strong are they, compared to your arms?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Grin. "Oh, I can double the amount of force that they exert if I want to. And they are sensible like my hands."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Temperance is a really capable shapeshifter. Only has trouble with poisons. Also, you are not going to introduce your translator friend?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Our translator friend prefers not be addressed to unless when they ask for music. And poisons are not worth the trouble."

Permalink Mark Unread

Merves thinks shapeshifting has fascinating implications!

Some of them are fascinating but incredibly inappropriate to ask about, and he should not say them out loud. Instead, he says, "Areus says you understand magic, and want to understand magic more. Here, we have much more magic than you seem to in your home. Would you like to learn more about it?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes!" The spirit translates unnecessarily. Because the excitement in Temperance's voice is answer enough.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Before you are eaten whole by your magic curiosity, can you explain how you got here and how easy is to move between worlds?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Right. We figured out how our portals interact with this place, enough that we can find the way here if there is something like you to aim at. This reminds me, is there a place where I can put a beacon for interplanar travel?" He asks that to Merves. "It can wait a day or so."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I would recommend choosing one place outside the city, for water-breathers, and one place inside; if the influx of refugees is too large, even if they can leave shortly, that will incite a riot. If you want to find a beacon on other planes known to us, you would need to talk to someone who has ever left Water."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Fair enough. We can start with one outside? First visitors will breathe water. Anyway, tell me about your magic?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Magic!

Merves doesn't find magic as a concept nearly as interesting (it's one more tool in the toolbox), but he appreciates Temperance's enthusiasm.

Permalink Mark Unread

Temperance is very appreciative of magic!

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus likes magic alright, but there is only so much geekiness he can take. He asks if he can be excused, he kinda wants to swim outside the city, maybe find a place for the beacon, but mostly just to stretch his muscles.

Permalink Mark Unread

They're absorbed enough in their geekiness that Merves just nods and waves dismissively.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus leaves them be, proceeding towards the exit of the glass shell.

Permalink Mark Unread

The dome is somewhat challenging to exit except via magic or portal, but Areus has now had the locations of the major portal-based exits pointed out to him. Using a permanent portal found atop large, perfectly rounded semicircle of a rock, Areus can leave the City of Glass and appear once again in the vast ocean of Water.

Permalink Mark Unread

Cool. He swims around, absently looking for places where they could put the portal.

Also, maybe he should figure out where the dread bad place is in relation to the City.

Permalink Mark Unread

Depending on what he's looking for, there are a lot of places to put a portal! Most of the places here are just open ocean, but occasionally, something interesting appears.

Permalink Mark Unread

For example, this patch of water is a slightly different shade of blue, almost green-ish.

Permalink Mark Unread

Maybe the bad patch of water? Worth investigating. Luckily being half-serpent means nifty resistance to this sort of thing.

Permalink Mark Unread

As he gets closer he can see what's wrong with it! Or at least, he can identify the consequences, if not the source. All of the sea life in this area is dead, floating in this greenish-water. At a certain point, he even finds a patch of yellowish-orange water.

Permalink Mark Unread

Huh, Areus thinks he has seen that happening in the past. How does it feel if he tries to get too close?

Permalink Mark Unread

His lungs start to feel strained. Something about this water is different than ordinary water, and he's breathing it in. It's getting worse by the second.

Permalink Mark Unread

...Does it look like this orange water is thin enough that he could go through? This is weird, water isn't supposed to hurt him.

Okay, he really ought to go back. Maybe take a deep breath of clean water before trying again.

Permalink Mark Unread

There is slightly cleaner water!

Permalink Mark Unread

And then, momentarily, even cleaner water.

This doesn't resolve the issue, particularly.

Permalink Mark Unread

Godsdamnit. He will find his way back to inside the City of Glass.

Permalink Mark Unread

The portal is where he left it.

Permalink Mark Unread

And then he's inside, where breathing hasn't gotten much easier.

Permalink Mark Unread

He tries to make his way to a temple, that is where they keep their healers in this world, right?

Permalink Mark Unread

He can find a temple!

Permalink Mark Unread

A very concerned priest approaches him.

"Areus, what happened?"

Areus cannot recognize whether this is the same member of the species that translated for him, as they have not spoken much since the initial days, when he served as primary translator.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus coughs. "Bad" More coughing "water."

Permalink Mark Unread

Fair enough. Healing injuries is simple.

That doesn't seem to fix it. Healing diseases?

That does.

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus gasps, but regains his composure. "Ow, that was probably a bad idea." He says to himself. He takes another deep breath. "Thank you," Areus says in Aquan

Permalink Mark Unread

"You're welcome! What was all that coughing for? It seems you had been infested by something."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I was swimming. Found... orange water."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh dear...the poison water? Yes, that has been a problem. It contains some kind of small beasts who infest the lungs and kill us."

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus makes the universal sound of this is terrible, which happens to be "Blergh." Then after another deep breath he regains his composure. "Thanks again." He kinda wants to figure out how to kill the things to avenge his pride.

Permalink Mark Unread

If there's nothing else, he will shuffle off!

Permalink Mark Unread

Areus sighs and goes about pretending his pride didn't get injured.

He figures he can visit the temple and talk plans about housing the refugees.

Permalink Mark Unread

They can absolutely talk about that!

Osudyn will excitedly discuss the conversations within the city about sending an expedition to help refugees settle outside of the City of Glass. They'll need to avoid some of Water's hazards, of course, especially the local ones which have not yet been contained or eliminated, but she trusts that they can handle it with enough goodwill and determination.

Permalink Mark Unread

That sounds great! It can be quite scary, but all things considered it's good that they have people willing to help. Better than expected.

Speaking of hazards, what is up with the dangerous colorful water near the city?

 

Permalink Mark Unread

Oh, yes. The red tide. Osudyn has campaigned within the City to try to resolve the issue, but most people are reluctant to move because of how many people it has killed who are unable to receive healing quickly enough.

There are more patches like it, further away, but this who is dangerously close while still being potentially out of reach of the City of Glass for most people.

She would dearly like to destroy it, but the refugees should probably take precedence over that, she thinks, since the problem seems so urgent.

Permalink Mark Unread

It definitely does, but it might be the sort of thing the refugees can help with. Some refugees can purify, and it might work or reduce the risk.

Permalink Mark Unread

She wouldn't say no. So far, they don't know much about how they form, yet they pose such a serious threat. They are difficult to make out up close; it is only observation from a distance and the use of magic to guide visiting swimmers that has protected people from it. Any help they could get with this problem would be much appreciated.

Permalink Mark Unread

Yeah, it looks like a similar thing that happens in Actana. He recognizes it now that he saw it up close. They can't completely get rid of it, but can make it less dangerous. Purify the poison in it, but not the poison-making things in it.

Permalink Mark Unread

...that would be incredibly appreciated!

Osduyn is also interested in hearing about the poison-making things in it, though, that seems like it might be important.

Permalink Mark Unread

Someone else might know better. But he knows water just has stuff like that. It's alive and the purification power isn't effective to kill things unless they are inside and hurting another living thing like some parasites do. So you can purify the water, but not stop the things from coming back. Still better than nothing. 

Permalink Mark Unread

There are a lot of people who will want to know that the patch is caused by living things, she thinks. Osudyn thanks him for sharing that. They'll have a discussion soon about whether purifying the water is a good idea and then they'll let someone (made someone else, who might know better?) among the Actanan refugees know.

Permalink Mark Unread

There is definitely someone who ought to know better than him. He only knows this from a second hand account. One of his half-sisters has the relevant power and might know, but she never had been to the sea.

Permalink Mark Unread

She can't wait to meet more people from his world! It'll be good to get them away from their apocalypse and here to Water, where things are at least stable. Osudyn asks him a few questions about this half-sister (so that it'll go more smoothly when she meets her, mainly), and lets him go before he gets too restless.

Permalink Mark Unread

Phaidra is Good, alignment-wise. Too innocent and naive, but very kind and good. Half-giant and half-serpent like himself, and also looks like giant. Easy to get along with. Phaidra's younger sister, Megaera might cause problems? Megaera is Good too, but defensive and not naive. Megaera can heal people.

Permalink Mark Unread

Osudyn privately thinks that she'll get along better with Megaera, but she shouldn't jump to any conclusions.

She says that it would be lovely to meet both of his sisters! And eventually, they part ways.