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Aug 10, 2022 11:00 PM
A Val falls on Edgar in New Albion
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Trahaearn is beginning to think the lead was a dead end. The ruins are lovely, and old, and certainly worth studying on their own merits, but despite the claims of the book he'd gotten the name from, seem unlikely to lead him to his quarry. He should have known better, really - Lleu would not have hidden from the world in a ruin half-sunken in the ocean, no matter that it was once a temple to him. It's simultaneously too obvious and unworthy of him. His investigation of this place has only made him more certain that when he finds them, the gods will be hidden somewhere in the natural world, not in man-made structures, no matter how old and once-grand. 

Still, if he had more time, he might like to spend a few weeks in this place. This particular sect of Lleu's priesthood were once known for their transportation magics, and while the source of their power may have been divine, much of Trahaearn's alchemical studies owe their success to his willingness to study and utilize elements of their rituals in his work. If only other practitioners would stop being ruled so much by their scepticism, they might have as much success as he does.

Not that he's going to tell them about the source of his success. He may be young, but he's far from stupid. 

Holding up his handful of trapped light, he peers up at the markings etched into a freestanding archway, attempting to translate the worn words. 

"-long arm," he murmurs, moving the light closer and trailing it down as he reads, "Or great distance? Hm..."

He moves it closer still, close enough that his hand brushes the stone, and then- he feels a sharp jolt, like a shock between him and the archway. He jerks back, but it's too late- whatever had passed between them, the archway reacts immediately, the etched script lighting where he'd touched, and then swiftly traveling to the rest of it, until it's shining so bright he has to release the light between his fingers to throw his hands over his eyes with a cry. 

As he staggers from the pain in his eyes, he hears a loud crack, as though in a vast sheet of ice, and then his ears are also overwhelmed with the sound of shattering, disorienting him enough that he falls forward-

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The old trunk in the attic falls over and opens, releasing a ballet shoe, a glass eye, candlesticks, a photograph sans frame, children's toys, a cross necklace, reams of paper, and Traehaearn Llewellyn, who certainly could not have fit in that trunk at all.

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Still reeling to from the assault on his eyes and ears, Trahaearn tumbles to the ground with all the other items that were apparently in the trunk along with him. He musters an attempt to catch himself on his hands and knees, at least- but one of his hands lands on the glass eye, sending his arm skittering to the side and leaving him to fall face-first onto the floor in an undignified heap.

He groans quietly.

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Edgar looks up from his work. Redistributing paint on a canvas is hardly his idea of a good time; he's not a creative thinker, except for in the ways that iconoclasm necessitates rejecting norms. If he thinks original thoughts, it is because of a single kernel of originality at the core of him, and nothing beyond that. None of his "art" deserves the name, which is why it languishes here, in his big, empty house.

His big, empty house which suddenly includes an uncharacteristic amount of noise in its attic. He looks up, waiting to see whether a raven, or something equally dramatic flutters downstairs. He might have to deal with an intruder. It's- exciting, he thinks. Edgar works to acquire a syringe as he waits.

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There's no other noise for a minute or two, as Trahaearn recovers from his abrupt ejection from a - chest? A chest, of some kind. It's not a style he recognizes, once he has the coherence (and the vision) to recognize anything at all. Actually, he realizes, as he slowly pushes himself up and looks around the place in which he had landed, he doesn't recognize the style of most of the items in this room. It... looks like some kind of storage space, he supposes, one full of odd, interesting, foreign objects. That portal must have landed him somewhere very far away from where he had started. 

As he shifts, his hand lands on a more even surface than the floor of the storage room, and he glances down, face shifting to surprise as he picks up the small portrait to get a closer look. It's not like any portrait he's ever seen, he realizes, so true to life, and the medium is just as odd. Before he can linger too long on it, his eyes are caught by the glint of the silver pendant that had fallen not far from it, and he moves to pick that up too, holding it up in the meagre light to get a better look at it. He's seen crosses before - they're fairly common features in the symbology of many cultures, so simple that it would be odd if they weren't. He wonders, idly, what it means to this one. 

Setting both items down, he looks next to a fan of papers a little farther away, only a few of the mass of it that had scattered around the area. He pulls a few sheets closer, lifting one closer to his face to try to make out the words in the gloom, hoping to find a script he can read. 

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The script is surprisingly intelligible, despite not resembling the one he's familiar with in every respect. It would seem that this culture speaks a very close relative of Anglian.

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Before he can investigate the papers in much detail, however, he sees the door to the attic open.

"Isn't this something. You've misunderstood a critical piece of successful burglary, my friend; don't attract the homeowner's attention."

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Trahaearn looks up as soon as the attic door starts moving, and has shifted into a posture that should let him dodge any which way by the time the- homeowner, apparently, finishes speaking. 

Accusing him of burglary is... reasonable, he realizes. This doesn't stop an offended expression from crossing his face. As though he'd be caught if he had actually intended to rob the man. As though he would need to. Unfortunately, he realizes quickly, absently thankful that his earring notifies him when it's in use, he won't be able to easily refute the statement. The tongue he is speaking seems likely to be the spoken version of the one in the papers - a close relative of Anglian, which he is fluent in, but not close enough to be mutually intelligible. 

It's probably better to make it clear he doesn't speak the language than to stay silent, however. Rising to his feet and brushing the dust off his jacket and the front of his breeches, ensuring his hand stays well away from the hilt of his sword for the moment, he replies, in Anglian, "I'm afraid I didn't have much choice in the matter." 

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Oh, well this is wonderful. A thief who doesn't speak Albish. No sign of a broken window or an encampment, and he hasn't been attacked yet- a charlatan, of sorts? Edgar did come up here essentially unarmed; the toxin in the syringe will only paralyze him temporarily, if he even has a chance to use it against someone much more prepared for violence than he.

"Nothing this unusual happens to the McAlistairs, I'll have you know. We've been a perfectly ordinary family since I can remember."

Not entirely untrue; his mother's last few years before death were faded, dull, and grey.

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"Nothing unusual at all?" He replies, for the sake of continuing conversation as his eyes flick over the man searching for any weapons to be wary of, "That sounds terribly boring." Trahaearn's life has been full of unusual happenings, though few were quite as unusual as this one has been so far. 

He's still holding the paper in his off hand. Idly, he rubs it between his fingers, feeling the difference in the material from the paper he's used to. The other man's clothes are unlike those worn in his homeland, as well, he notes, though he's hardly surprised at this point. Despite the complete unfamiliarity of this place, he's not all that worried, either. He has a sword, where the other man does not appear to. If it turns out he does have a weapon, well, he has his alchemy. He has nothing to be afraid of. 

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"Say, could I have a look at those papers, friend? They do belong to me, despite your rather proprietary grip on that page."

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"Hm. True enough," he agrees. It would also show some amount of good will on his part, hopefully. He doesn't wish to alienate the first person he's met in this place entirely, if it can be avoided. Stepping forward cautiously, he holds the page out towards the other, watching for any sign of treachery on his part. 

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No treachery, just eagerly poring over the page. Whatever is on there, he seems to find it interesting.

"This attic is full of surprises. The name is Edgar. What should I call you?"

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Generally, strangers call him 'my lord', even when they aren't aware of what he is lord of. He's too obviously a noble for them to mistake him for anything else. This Edgar won't even know what lord means if he adds it before his name, however, so he just says, "Trahaearn." He glances around at all the things strewn over the floor, and then looks back to Edgar and bows slightly, "Apologies for the mess." Despite the language barrier, that's a sentiment should get across, he expects. 

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Well enough, anyway. It's a fascinating language, really; could it be a dialect formed among an isolationist bunch of zeppelin nomads? Or perhaps a trade tongue, used overseas?

"Trahaearn," he repeats. Edgar likely won't remember it perfectly, but he takes care to call people what they prefer to be called.

With no obvious malicious intent, he supposes it might be safe to begin picking up some of the mess, but he doesn't intend to risk it. Instead, he devotes more attention to the paper in his hand. This looks like- he knew his mother had invented marvelous things, but he had never heard of anything like this. A method of resurrection?

"What brings you to New Albion? Are you a merchant? An entertainer? A soldier, perhaps. Are you here to trade goods, bring laughter, or slit throats?"

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He considers how to answer that, going back over the words Edgar had spoken so far, searching for any that suit his purpose. Hm, what was- "Nothing," he tries, and his pronunciation is a little bit off but the word comes across well enough. "New Albion?" Interesting - that is the word Anglian uses for the great isle where both their peoples' live - his own tongue names it 'Alban', but they clearly come from the same source. New Albion, however... a colony of some kind? 

After another moment of thought, he makes a displeased face, and adds, "What is New Albion?"

Gods, he hates to sound like a simpleton but it can't be helped, the man hasn't given him enough words to sound in any way sophisticated. At least this question might give him more of a vocabulary to work with.

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"New Albion, my friend, is a city like none before it. Zeppelins ride the skies, trading between distant colonies and our shores. The mob provides half of our enforcement, despite the government pretending to hold power over every citizen alike. Researchers work throughout the academies to crystallize dreams, manufacture love, and breach the vault of Heaven. Artists, musicians, and bohemians of all kinds gather in parlors, salons, and studios to talk, drink, and create. What of your home?"

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-Now that is interesting. A fair number of those concepts do not translate into any of the tongues he knows - 'zeppelins', 'bohemians', though perhaps the latter of those describes a people? - and some are clearly translating imperfectly, but- 

"Breach the vault of Heaven?" He repeats, his expression intent. "My home is Mers," he adds, for the sake of the exchange, "....[I am] a researcher." Both of those words may have been spoken at some point but his memory is, alas, still imperfect. 

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"Trahaearn, from Mers. A pleasure to meet you," he reiterates. It hasn't become less true that this is the most exciting day of his life. Perhaps if the man were an artist, rather than a researcher. He loves science, but sometimes he wishes that the natural world had half the beauty that art did.

"We don't know for certain that Heaven exists. Theologians write treatises assuming its reality. Men of science doubt it, since they cannot prove it exists. Artists often speak of it poetically, assuming that if Heaven does not exist, it is the duty of humanity to create it, using words and paints alone. However we do it, I expect humanity to force our way through the gates of Heaven by the turn of the century, if we continue at our current rate of progress."

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"Our heaven- heavens? Are-" he huffs in annoyance, reaching up to tug on his earring. The thing has more than proved its worth by this point, but gods does he wish he'd finished work on it's counterpart before he'd ended up thrown into some strange corner of the world where they apparently have no proof that the heavens exist. If they are even speaking of the same thing, the word is one of those that is translating imperfectly. 

(Not, of course, that he personally has any more proof that the heavens exist than having read accounts of it from those priests and lucky others who have experienced the plane with the aid of their gods, but it is widely accepted to exist among scholars where he comes from, despite the long, slow fading of those who once had access to it.)

"My home is distant," he says after taking a moment to collect himself again, "I don't know how I," he pauses to make a short, wordless sound of frustration, "[Arrived] here." Well, not strictly true, he's sure that archway in the god of travel's temple had something to do with it, but we work with what we have available, and he still doesn't have much. 

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"Your home is distant, and you don't know how you came here. Curious. I had wondered how you appeared in my attic without using the window. There was a story of a man who could travel to unexplored places using only a cupboard, but I shouldn't bore you with the details. Has the steam engine yet come to your land?"

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"'The steam engine'," he repeats. Well, he can safely say, "[No]. What is the steam engine?" And why is he mentioning it. 

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"The steam engine has revolutionized modern industry. Tell me, in Mers, do industries rely on manpower, horsepower, wind, and water to power mechanical work? Steam power replaces the need for those techniques in several industries, but especially transportation. Without steam, we would be on our way to full societal collapse. Steam saved us."

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-that is not quite where he had expected this conversation to turn. His society is on its own way to a collapse, he believes, though a delayed one, which the remaining priesthoods work to draw out as long as they can so they can profit from it. All his research suggests the next cycle is coming, and the upheaval that occurs each time approaches with it. He's not sure any kind of mundane invention would guard them from it, however. The gods, at their full strength, the kind of strength only told of in legends from the dawn of this age, are just too powerful for a human to fight, and worse they gather adherents wherever they go.

His society, as it stands, is doomed. Of course, he's not content to let it stand in such a way, but his plans depend on several theories he has being correct. In the meantime, and since he appears to have stumbled on a possibly advanced society which is thriving despite - or perhaps because of - the lack of the gods, it couldn't hurt to explore this possible avenue as well, no matter his doubts. 

...Perhaps not here, though. He looks around the dusty, relic-filled attic, "Tell me [more]?" He requests, and then quickly adds, "Not here." He steps out of the way of Edgar's path to the trunk's former contents  - he'd seemed very interested in the paper in his hand, so perhaps he would like to gather the rest - and then motions to the door. 

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That seems like a good sign. Edgar somewhat carefully returns the items to the trunk- except the candlesticks and papers, which he intends to use- and leads Trahaearn downstairs. The house is well-appointed, speaking of idle wealth with no productive ends to turn to. Edgar brings the papers to his desk, very aware of Tahaearn's position relative to himself. Edgar then leads the man to his dining room, where he pulls out a chair, and sits at the head of the table.

Edgar tells him more. He explains the importance of a combustion engine in modern society, and how the steam engine was discovered. He knows only the broadest strokes, but he paints a vivid picture. Without steam, they could not power the zeppelins that fly over New Albion. Although it rapidly becomes clear that he is not a scientist, his skill at weaving a story is nothing to sneeze at.

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Trahaearn follows Edgar out of the attic, observing the decor and architecture of the house with interest, it being quite unlike that of his own home, though there are any similar elements. He notes Edgar's care in paying attention to the distance between them, and courteously keeps more than a sword's-length away from him, even choosing the seat two down on Edgar's right when they reach the dining room table. 

He is an attentive audience, listening to his words with fascination and paying what attention  he can to the language, attempting to cement its rules and as many words as he can into his memory without losing track of what Edgar is saying. The principles of the invention aren't difficult to grasp - in fact, once the basics of it are described to him, he recognizes the concept as something he's heard of before, though never used to the extent New Albion apparently uses it. It seems impractical to spread it so wide- to Trahaearn's knowledge, there's no cheap way to make a boiler which could withstand the pressure of the amount of steam needed to run the more powerful engines Edgar mentions without requiring regular replacement. Never mind the stress accumulated as the metal heats and then cools again when shut down... this society must have more advanced metallurgy than his own. 

"I should like to see the making of one of these," he gets across after he and his host have been speaking for some time, "I am... not," he pauses to rephrase the sentence, "My society does not have the - [infrastructure]," he sighs, "[Systems?] People, [resources], in place? To make such a thing so... I would need to teach my [smiths] to make them, there are only so many [smiths], and much other work. And I have my own research, which is - important. To prevent collapse." He shakes his head, "[Still, once the first steps are complete, I would have the time,]" he muses aloud in his own tongue. 

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