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Dec 01, 2021 12:39 PM
alerans in skyfire
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"For most people, yeah. Most civilians don't expect to have to defend themselves, though. Most of them don't even learn how. Among the Flame-aware almost all of the men can, and some of the women, and guns are the weapon of choice - this thing," he adds, picking up the thug's wrecked weapon. "But civilian society puts on a good enough façade of peacefulness that lots of people go through their lives without ever having to fight. All the violence around here is out of sight, out of mind." 

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"Sounds dull. Maybe nice for the weaklings. How's the gun work, I only knew it was dangerous but I'd like to know how."

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"It fires metal bullets too fast to see without enhancement." He offers it to Lexius for a closer look. "From very long ranges, some of them."

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"How d'you stop people from - right, no crafting. I guess it's not actually that dangerous to me long as I'm paying attention, then."

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"That's about how it is for us, too, in the hands of a civvie." He drops it on the thug's chest carelessly, "So, Latin-speaking person who's never heard of guns and has magic I've never heard of, how'd you end up in Palermo?" 

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"No crowborn idea. I was walking to my next class at the Aleran Imperial Academy and suddenly I had - a fit of vertigo, or something, and then I was here. Palermo's the - empire, nation, state, city?"

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"City. Palermo, Sicilia, Italia. Biggest city on the island, and the heart of the underground. Known for our hospitality, as you've seen," he adds, motioning at the nearest thug with a grin. 

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"Did notice that, yeah. ...don't suppose you've got some use for a mercenary? I don't love mercenary work, but I like being alone in a city full of criminals without speaking the language a damn sight less."

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"God, security would love it if I brought an unknown extra-dimensional mercenary home," he laughs, "I can just imagine the face my brother will make. Let's do it. How are you at taking the roof route? It's easier to get around up there until we reach the outskirts." 

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He shrugs. "The buildings are taller than I'm used to, but it shouldn't be a problem. You said I should hide my sword?" He wraps the blade around his waist, in a way that metal really shouldn't be able to do. It ends up looking like a moderately unusual belt wrapped around his extremely unusual tunic.

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He watches the sword with interest, wondering if he could do something like that, "Cool," he grins, briefly lapsing into English. "We're actually going away from the really tall buildings," he adds, heading for the alley's entrance now that Lexius is ready, "This way."

They're on the edge of one of the closer-to-modern parts of the city, where it meets a formerly separate town full of more historic-style buildings like they have on the waterfront, though significantly less well-kept. The streets and alleys in this area are a maze, and he hasn't had enough time to get familiar with the ground level. So, rooves it is. Just a short walk down a paved side road littered with a few cars, and then up they go!

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It's simple enough to climb the buildings; a bit of earth for strength, a bit of air for speed. He clambers up to the lip of the roof and hops up onto it.

"So - what's Italia like? Apparently you build giant houses with metal?"

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It's unclear whether Jamie is using any of his own powers to climb or not; if he is, it's subtle. He seems to manage just as well as Lexius, either way. Once up on the rooftops, he sets off at a comfortable walk so they can chat as they go. 

"Metal? Oh, yeah," he looks back at the apartments rising behind them, "For supports. I think it lets us build higher than we could, otherwise. So we can pack more people into less space. Most of those aren't really that tall as high-rises go, actually, this is a pretty small city."

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"Huh. They're - less grand than the buildings in the capital back home, but they're taller than anything except the palace and the High Lords' estates. I guess it's easier to build tall with metal than with earthcrafting."

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"There are some pretty grand buildings around the city, but those aren't them, yeah." He turns to walk backwards for a bit while they talk, navigating just as well like that as he had facing forwards, "High Lords and palaces? Do you have a king, where you come from?" 

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"We have an emperor. Gaius Sextus. He's... a tricky old bastard, but he seems to genuinely care about the empire and its people. Far as anyone can tell, at least. What about this place?"

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"Complicated!" He says, and his smile and bright tone are rather at odds with his words.

"There's no king in Italy, anymore, though some countries still have them. Most of the ones left are only figureheads now, though, the countries are actually run by... somewhat elected civilian governments. I'm not really the one to ask about all that, though, Alex - my brother Alex - is the one who actually cares about this stuff. I'm only learning it at all because I've been surprise-promoted to a position which kinda needs to know how the civilian governments work, and really needs to know how the underworld is run. Which is, by the Heads of Families which control their own territories, protect their own people, have alliances with and the allegiance of other Families, and sometimes go to war with each other. All the while keeping the civilians from ever noticing we're anything more than particularly organized criminals." 

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"So you've got Senates running the mortal countries, but the fire-people couldn't help falling into a more familiar arrangement. And pretending to be criminals. Although I suppose you can't really pretend to be a criminal without being a criminal, after a certain point..."

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"To be fair, we don't follow the civilian laws but we live on their lands, so as far as they're concerned we are criminals," he shrugs, and then pauses to jump a small gap before continuing, "The families were here before them though, and they usually can't catch us alone, and definitely can't catch whole families, so the façade goes on. Maybe someday it'll break, but anyone who tried would be up against the Vindice, so... let's just say it probably won't be me." 

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"What is this Vindice, anyway? Some kind of... supernatural lawkeeper?"

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"In a nutshell. They're tall, wear all black, their skin is wrapped in bandages, and they all use these flame-suppressing chains as weapons, and we have no idea how many of them there actually are. They have a prison, where they put anyone who breaks their laws. They always find out about the obvious ones, and they'll investigate any law-breaking that's reported to them, and since they have some kind of secret ward-breaking, economical teleportation method there's no keeping them out." And he really doesn't like them, his fear is pretty obvious just from the tension in his voice when he talks about them, though the actual emotions don't leak through his shields. 

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"Huh. Wonder if their chains would suppress crafting or if I could just incinerate the spooky bastards."

Lexius is not unconscious of the undertone of fear, but it's polite not to point it out.

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"I hope if you're forced to find out it turns out they don't!"

He scurries up a wall to a higher level, "What were you asking before- Italia, right. There was an empire here, some thousand years ago, called Rome, which spoke Latin, at one point, or something very like what you're speaking which goes by the same name." 

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"...huh. It does sound pretty bloody implausible that the same language would show up in two different worlds with no connection... though not much more so than there being humans in both places with different magics, admittedly. - speaking of which, your magic, your Flames - how do they work? You can - fuck with memories, and talk without a common language?"

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He wavers a hand, "There are categories," he explains, "The flames are named for weather phenomena. Most people have one or two types of flames, each of which has different- abilities and aesthetics? The messing with memories is mist, which is very flexible but also very impermanent, on its own, outside of mental affects. The understanding trick is sky, which has a power aesthetic summed up by the word harmonia, and is the rarest kind. There are five others like them, but I only have one more; I'm a sky with clouds - it would be more accurate to call me a cloud with sky, actually, but there are politics - and a touch of mist." 

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