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Jan 17, 2021 7:34 AM
Saevetei makes new and exciting friends in a new and exciting wasteland
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Saevetei is currently planning her retirement. She feels (rather strongly) that her critical bit for the whole ‘fix the world’ project is done. While she’s absolutely happy to help other people do the work, and maybe pitch in every now and then, it is not going to be her priority, and definitely not her full time job. A couple of decades of peace and quiet and not having the pressure of resurrecting every dead person in the world by herself would do her some good. She’s torn between retiring in the dream world, or putting in the work to find (and fix) a small little island somewhere to bring her friends and family back to life on. Probably that second one, even though it’s more work. She’s the most recognizable person ever in the dream world, and she’d really rather not have people pestering her and treating her like a celebrity. Anonymity sounds great right now. Barring that, she’d like to pick and choose her company, and show up in a couple of decades when this whole project has gained a lot more traction and she’s a bit less, uh, famous. Maybe. That’ll happen, right? Given enough time?

She finishes copying out the map she’d picked out of the library, carries it and the other informational materials she’s gathered so far, and takes it all back to her little cottage in the dream world. All of it’s carefully arranged on her desk for looking at later, and then she takes a deep breath and wills herself back to the waking world.

...

When she wakes up, she’s not nestled comfortably on the couch she decided to take a nap on. She’s also not anywhere in the bustling compound she’s been stuck in for the past far too long. Instead, she’s curled up on some sand, the hot sun above already some of the way through burning her poor skin. Her first thought would be that she’s somehow in the wastes somewhere, except the essence in the air feels far too thick for that. There’s nothing trying to nibble at her and erase her body from existence. It’s just. A desert. Like what she’d find in the dream world, if she went walking for a while with a particularly deserty mood in mind. Except for how she’s definitely awake.

She sits up, huffing with annoyance, and looks for any landmarks.

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Despite the burning sun's unwelcoming glare, there's a river to the south as a source of immediate relief. She'd need to climb down a slight cliff, or find another way down, but it's not that steep a fall, and the river seems to extend a long way to the east, and in the distance she can spot some gigantic ruins of what must have at some point been a bridge. To the north, there are more, taller cliffs, although she can see a break in them to the northwest that probably indicates a pass or path she could take if she wanted to explore.

But by far the closest landmark is the west end of the river, only a few minutes walk if she can find her way down, and right there where the water ends she can spot something that might be tents and campfires and even people. The technological level suggested by the ruins seems pretty unmistakeably high, but the village (tribe?) standing in their shadows seems like a pretty straightforward hunter-gatherer bunch.

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She's so confused. She has a number of ideas of what might have happened, but none of them make any sense. Her most plausible idea is that there was some glitch somewhere, because of her many extremely weird qualities, and she was stuck between dreaming and waking for a very long time. But that doesn't... make sense. Her body would have starved to death, if it'd been this long, and this is definitely the same body she went to bed with, clothes and all. If it were a new one she'd expect to be naked.

For lack of a better idea, she decides to go to the camp to directly ask someone what in the world is going on.

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Turns out there's a fairly easy-to-find path down from the clifflet she woke up at down to the river, and from there it's an easy trek upriver.

Or it would be if it werent for this weird... turtle thing... standing watch near its eggs. There are a couple of its smalls milling about at the beach. And as soon as it spots her it roars (well it's something like a roar but more... turtle-ish...) and starts lumbering in her direction in a mightily unfriendly fashion, all over six feet of it.

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If she dies to a giant turtle-thing she is going to be so mad.

Well. The most obvious thing to do in this situation, armed with only the small athame on her hip, is to run away. She can find another way to the camp, probably, she’s not particularly attached to this direction. Will the turtle-thing stop chasing her if she runs away?

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It will chase her for a bit but when she doesn't turn around to ambush it it stops, watches her for a few seconds, then starts walking back to its nest, looking over its shoulder every now and then.

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Yep, that’s about what she thought. Bye, turtle-thing, good luck with parenting.

Is there another obvious route to the camp, that doesn’t potentially upset a protective guardian of some kind?

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The beach she was travelling along is kinda narrow and there's no real way ahead without going past the turtle. Given how slowly it actually managed to chase her when it tried, she could plausibly just run past it and dodge it if it went for her; alternatively, the river is not so wide nor is its current so strong that a particularly fit person wouldn't be able to swim to one of the long islands in the middle, and although they don't stretch all the way to the encampment she could try to run along them until the river got narrower and then go to the opposite bank instead.

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... ugh. Fine.

Okay. First step: draw the guardian turtle away from the direction she’d like to go. Then, run around it towards the camp, keeping as far a distance between the parent-turtle and herself as possible. While also trying to keep a distance between herself and the babies, in case they’re dangerous, too.

Can this get her past the turtle thing without getting squished into a paste?

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It can! The turtle thing looks very betrayed (or maybe she's projecting) but it is in fact reasonably slow and even when it gets within close enough quarters that it might have been able to hit her, its momentum was carrying it forward enough that it didn't manage to actually arrest it to target her substantially more nimble form. Whatever predators this thing evolved to fend off are probably as slow as it is, or more focused on straightforward offense than agility.

The smalls are not, however, dangerous at all. And in fact they also seem quite unfazed by her, and just watch her pass by undisturbed. They are so harmless she could probably literally snatch one and carry it with her if she wanted, or maybe steal one of the three watermelon-sized eggs hanging about in the nest over there.

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She’ll leave both the eggs and the babies alone, thanks. She’s pretty sure she could get some kind of basic farm growing to maturity faster than it’d take for her to outright starve to death, so. No legitimate reason to bother any of them. They can just keep on being giant turtle-things on their own time.

To the camp! She slows from her sprint to a jog, and then a walk when the big turtle stops chasing her. Sure, she’s barely winded from that, but there’s no reason to exhaust herself pointlessly.

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After walking for another minute she hears the rustling of leaves and a loud growling noise. From the direction of some bushes over there emerges the head of a fairly aggressive-looking alligator that's apparently intent on eating her.

At least it's a regular-sized alligator?

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“Oh, fuck off,” she sighs, and then because she can outrun this, too, she gets to doing that. You ruined your ambush, alligator, how did you even survive this long, being this stupid?

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Probably that was the predator that the slow turtle thing evolved to deal with. It is in fact about as slow as the turtle, but it is also substantially more persistent about chasing her and will keep doing it for longer than would be at all reasonable.

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Wow, that's so stupid. This is such an incredibly stupid alligator. Are there any rocks nearby to throw at it to dissuade it from its very stupid chase? Because this is just unreasonable.

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Many rocks! The beach is littered with them, small stones and large rocks and big boulders and all that. Also branches and other pieces of flora that the river has brought from here and there.

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Great! She throws rocks at the alligator to see if that will get it to go away. Hey, alligator, is she looking unappetizing now?

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No because now it is pissed.

Not that this changes much other than making it growl some more and maybe try (and mostly fail) to use its stubby little legs to better effect, but it's the principle of the thing.

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Wow.

How is this thing even alive? It's just so monumentally stupid. She could certainly kill it with time, patience, and just a sliver of intelligence, but she's missing that second one, so. Back to running it is, then. It'll leave her alone eventually, probably, or she'll have a very inept alligator stalker until the end of time. She guesses.

"It's not clear how your species lived long enough to mate," she informs the alligator, before she runs off. Because it's dumb and it should know it's dumb.

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She can outrun it easily. Whether that will be enough to convince it to stop pursuing is another question entirely but if she puts enough distance between them it might well not be a question she'll have to think about answering before reaching the camp.

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Well, she'll keep checking on it, it's not hard to keep it in sight. She'd rather not lead an (admittedly very stupid) alligator to someone's camp, that just seems rude. If it looks like it's still following her by the time she gets there, she guesses she'll, uh. Fashion some kind of spear or something and get to killing it.

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She can't really keep an eye on it for the entire journey due to trees and bushes and grass and other environmental features blocking her sight of it fairly quickly.

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Never before has she been so annoyed about not being in a blank, grey wasteland. But that's definitely a thing she didn't have to worry about in the wastes. Line of sight was very easy.

Ugh. Whatever. She'll just keep jogging away and hopefully it'll stop caring. It surely cannot survive by stubbornly picking one target and chasing them to the ends of the world.

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After a while of no signs of the alligator, she'll get close enough to the village to see it and the ruins properly.

It looks fairly incredible actually. Whatever structures previously stood there were the kind of thing one would be tempted to use words like grandiose to describe. And the contrast with the tents, campfires, pots, and sticks is almost poetic. From this distance, the people seem no better dressed: furs and skins more than leathers and fabrics, with multiple people wearing only a necklace and a belt with some tools attached, and even a few stark naked ones. They definitely none of them have invented the concept of pants and the concept of shirts was probably heard of from a fishwife's tale twenty years ago.

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She doesn't have much of an opinion of the juxtaposition of grandiose ruins and makeshift tents. It's intellectually interesting and probably gives some credence to one of her unlikely theories about what happened, but she doesn't care to think about it right now, because actually, she's a bit winded. What with running away from the very dumb alligator for an extended period of time. The lack of clothes is a bit more noteworthy, but not very. Just because clothes are the norm in her culture doesn't mean it's the norm for all places. She has seen naked people before, and has herself been naked many times, so honestly this is just kind of convenient if she ends up dying. No one will blink twice at her being stark naked. Though, uh, they should maybe be introduced to the concept of shoes.

"Hello?" she calls, waving.

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The camp has scouts. They had, it turns out, already noticed her, and had been watching her from a distance. They had not been expecting a wave and a "hello", apparently, from the rather confused and surprised expressions they exchange. Their grips tighten on their longbows and they don't reply to the call, but one of them calls something out towards the camp and other people inside it reply and take notice, as well.

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