Jan 21, 2021 3:59 PM
Thorn in Golden Treasure
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Today is another questionable world. Medium habitability, medium tech, trace amount of magic. 

This Thorn is fresh from her first scouting mission, a new name still hanging on her lips. "Felicity." Hopefully it will bring her luck. 

She brings her trusty pack, newly stocked and refurbished, her athame and her enchanted pistol. The runic tattoos on her arms sit snugly below her tunic; she wears simple blue jeans and a leather belt with her weapon-holsters on it.

"So," she says to her handler. "Give me a door."

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Eva smiles, and gives her a door.

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Felicity takes a chron from her pack, snaps it between her fingers, and steps through the door.

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She steps out onto a streaked brown rocky surface. The heat is already oppressive. The windblown sand stings her eyes. The landscape is full of banded sandstone, worn smooth by wind and dust. A few scraggly shrubs cling to crevices in the rocks.

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She steps through, closes the door behind her. No immediate signs of civilization, but so long as she has her beacon she's self-sufficient. And even without it she'll last a good while with her pack. 

Overland Flight will let her see the shape of things more easily. She goes up a few thousand feet to get a better view.

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She is in a desert. Over there is more desert. Over there is an oasis. Over there is a mountain range. Over there is a more sandy, less rocky bit of desert.

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Water is essential to life in most worlds. She'll head towards the oasis, flying most of the way and then landing to continue her line on foot for the last portion.

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The oasis contains plants and animals that seem pretty Earthlike! And also a rock crudely carved into an elephant's head, positioned to have an overlook of the oasis.

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That's promising! She'll camp here for tonight and see if anyone should happen along conveniently.

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The desert is noisier at night. But the predators don't bother her if she doesn't bother them.

An observant zoologist might detect something strange about what species, exactly, live side-by-side here, but Felicity probably doesn't have the relevant expertise to notice that.

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She is observant, but definitely not a zoologist.

She goes and inspects the elephant head.

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It's more human than someone going for a faithful representation of elephants would produce. It's about two feet wide, and seems to have been done in place.

There's an inscription in pictographs.

Let Malku Who Drinks Deeply watch over this place, the meeting-point and haven of the Dry Lands.

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Well, that suggests she'll meet someone if she just waits long enough. 

She settles in to do just that.

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Two days later a party of a dozen people on camels approaches; Dark skinned, garbed in rough light-colored desert clothing. Six men, two women, four children. Fifteen animals, each laden down with packs and/or a rider. The leader carries a beat-up looking bronze sword and has his beard in a braid.

They stop a ways away from the oasis and mutter to each other when they spot her campsite, much to the loud objections of their thirsty camels.

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Anthropologist's first rule: let the locals come to you when they're ready to, do not approach them on your own. She stays put.

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It takes a few minutes but the sword-carrying one approaches alone, anxious but not hostile.

"What are you doing here, pale one? I have never seen your like and thus hold little hope we understand each other, but I am moral and a priest of the orderly way."

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She smiles, half bows. "I can understand and be understood. I am very lost, I fear. I was abandoned in this desert but found my way here by good chance. I have waited here some time in hope of a passing caravan to take me out of this place."

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"It is my duty to help those in need. We are not a proper caravan but we can see you to Salmut, at least. It is on a river and away from chaos's domain, and less perilous for it. Your supplies are strange to us, perhaps they have something of use?"

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"If gold still has value in this dry land, then I can give you gold to pay my passage." 

She digs into her pack, keeping the roll of golden OTC coins hidden, and offers the priest a single gleaming gold coin.

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"Gold has value if you don't wish to part with anything else. What a fine and regular coin! That's more than enough payment. Is it of Delver make?"

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"It's the style made in my home, which is very far away indeed. Do you mind if I pack my things and make ready to follow you? Or were you intending to stay here for some time?"

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"We will let the camels drink and refill all our waterskins, then continue. Sleeping near oases is unwise. As the only source of water, the hunters of this land know well that prey is rich here."

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She nods. "I can defend myself, but I'd rather not have to. I will wait for you to be ready."

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He shouts for his family, apparently, to start camel-watering. He carefully pockets the gold coin.

"I find myself curious what the distant land you hail from is like, stranger. I have traveled the coast of Araby and the mountains of Getik and seen many tribes, but it seems there is always a more distant land."

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"I doubt you would believe me if I told you. It is a land of many wonders, as you can tell from the strange construction of my tent. Things are built of materials you might not know, such as 'plastic' and 'aluminum'. And there is much more besides. I have been sent to establish trade, but..." She shrugs. "The desert is rather an inconvenience."

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"I have heard of this 'aluminum', I think. But not plastic. Well, the deep desert is largely something to be passed through. Still, a woman sent so far alone? It is not something my people would do."

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