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Jun 14, 2021 2:35 PM
Thorn in Isekai
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Thorn is between assignments, and is taking some time to sightsee on a Half-Tamed world. They still have cars here; how quaint. 

Thorn is distracted listening to a podcast on her phone as she waits for a green light, and steps out a little too early. 

A truck hits her, and flings her into the middle of the intersection. As she tries to get up, a second truck slams into her face. 

She doesn't get up from that. 

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There is a sense of vast swathes of time passing. It's not dark or bright here. It's not anything. Here... Isn't. But there's not enough time in this transitory state to form thoughts or impressions; It's over in an instant despite the sense of timeless immensity.

Now she's in a soft chair on an elaborate rug on some kind of tower. The landscape all around is terrestrial and bucolic - rolling green hills, pastoral rivers, and friendly-looking forests. A thin, old-looking woman in a bright yellow floral print dress is sitting across a wrought iron table. There is a tea set.

Her memory crystal is with her; The mysterious woman frowns thoughtfully at it.

"...Hmm. How unusual. Well, now. Would you like some tea before the explanation?"

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She grins and takes a seat.

"I'd love tea. I'm pretty sure I died, there, but you aren't my Evenstar. So I am instantly intrigued. Is this an afterlife?"

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"Yes, you died. To call this an afterlife is... Not strictly inaccurate, but misleading."

She pours tea. Thorn's is whatever she would most enjoy at the moment; Hers is Chai.

"This world is in a cycle where the forces of Light and Darkness pull against each other. At the peak of the cycle, a Demon Lord inevitably arises and attempts to destroy everything, and a Hero is called to oppose them. A soul from another world, one selected for drive, potential, and a certain ineffable spirit, taken at the moment of their death and brought into this world. You are that hero. Explaining how or why would cut into our short time together; Suffice to say there are a lot of tradeoffs."

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She laughs, and sips at her Earl Grey. "Seems accurate. What do I need to know?"

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"You'll be deposited as you are, somewhere where the immediate surroundings are safe, not too far from people. You shan't have trouble with languages; Even without your own magic it would still be true. You will not know the Demon Lord's identity or goals unless you make efforts to discover them. You must seek challenge to grow stronger. You will be given a head start and faster progression, but that is not enough. Learn, fight, level up, find allies, gather resources. You will receive a Unique Skill, the shape of which I am capable of - nudging - in this brief window. This is your greatest advantage, and I encourage you to be creative with it."

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"Alright. I want more time. Whether salvaged from sleeping and eating and other needs, or stolen from moments when I don't need it, I've learnt again and again that seconds can make the difference."

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"Quite a powerful thing, time is, when used correctly. I'll see what I can do." 

She gestures at the landscape after another sip. It's looking like late summer now - A little drier, the first signs of yellowing leaves showing.

"Time enough remains for a few questions. Query quickly."

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She visibly bites back a few questions. "How many cycles have there been?"

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That gets a quick headshake and a small frown. "I cannot give you an exact number. Very many."

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"Will the remnants of past heroes aid me?"

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"Such remnants as there are may do so, if you prove your heroic status. But remnants with minds and wills are rare. Their journals and equipment will be useful if you find them. There are a lot of things in the world."

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"How alien is my magic to this world?"

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"It won't level without the help of a Unique Skill. There is nothing quite like it, though several magics you might learn could replicate its functions."

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"Understood. I think that's all."

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She smiles and says, "Good luck!"

 

Now Thorn is on a sandy beach looking out on the ocean. It's a bit chilly. There is a tall pine forest behind her, and the bay off to her right shows hills and cliffs all coated in greenery, with some snow.

Something tells her, not in words but direct knowledge placed into her mind, 

Unique Skill gained! 『Chronobank』 level 1.

Time is a valuable thing. Watch it fly by as the clocks tick away; Hold it in reserve for a rainy day.

You may accumulate time in your 『Chronobank』 while eating, sleeping, waiting and doing nothing, or doing any other mundane and routine activity. Stored time may be expended for a variety of 『Haste』-like effects. Stacks multiplicatively with 『Haste』-like effects. Conversion efficiency, maximum storage, maximum amplification, and other factors increase with skill level.

Costs in stored time scale according to this ranking:

Accelerated Thought (Manual Activation) >> Accelerated Thought (Automatic Activation) >> Accelerated Body (Manual Activation) >> Accelerate Others >> Accelerated Body (Automatic Activation)

 

There's a probable settlement off that way, around the curve of the coast. Regular shapes and colors other than green and brown, at least. It must be about ten miles away.

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She checks herself over and takes inventory. No packful of gold and a handy home beacon this time; all she has is what was on her when she was walking home. That would be...

One (1) white cotton dress shirt.

One (1) pair of blue jeans. 

One (1) bra and underwear set, black. 

One (1) pair socks. 

One (1) pair sneakers. (Damn it.)

One (1) quartz memory necklace.

No headphones or phone... or even her damn athame. At least she was left her necklace.

She's fairly sure she can take most things she'd encounter with just her telekinesis, which should work. So. Walk or fly? 

She doesn't want to be caught flying, that betrays her as weird. But neither does she want to go crosscountry in sneakers. She could if she had to, she doesn't have to. She'll fly low over the ocean where there isn't anything to smack into, and come back onto land when she's closer - say about a mile out.

If she manages to store anything in the Chronobank while flying, so much the better.

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She doesn't manage to store anything in the Chronobank besides a few tiny trickles from standing around considering her options. It doesn't give her numbers, just a sort of - oddly precise feeling.

Her flight works perfectly fine. Nothing leaps out of the ocean to try to eat her (this time).

The probable-settlement resolves into a collection of brightly painted one and two story houses with a few larger stores, plus a fairly extensive set of docks and piers lined with sailboats. There's a tall stone statue of a trio - mermaid, kobold, human man - standing in a sort of town square, just visible to her enhanced eyes at this distance.

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She'll walk in along the beach in her sneakers and hope they don't fill up with sand too much.

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About half a mile outside the town she'll encounter a young woman walking along - a teenager, really - dressed in a well-tailored outdoors outfit composed of furs and linen with lots of crossing lines in subtly different colors included in the design, carrying a dagger, a bow with arrows, and a bindle with what look like small game traps hanging from it. She doesn't look intimidating at all.

She stops walking and looks quizzically at Thorn.

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No point in trying to duck suspicion, and she has a lot she could learn. She waves. "Hey there! What town is this? I'm rather intensely lost."

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"...Bydhof? Lucky you ain't dead, lady, walking around without any gear like that."

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"There was an accident, I lost my good knife and got all turned around. Really missing my pack right now, too - it's more replaceable than the knife but it's got all my money in it, 'long with my camping gear and my pistol." Sigh. "'Least I'm still alive. I figure I'll see what jobs there are need doing around town, try and earn enough for an inn stay. Any recommendations?"

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"That's awful, ain't it. Well, what're your Skills like?"

'Skills' is audibly capitalized.

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Well, she hopes this translates... "I'm a strong knifefighter and a good shot with a pistol. I have some trailcraft too. I'm not too proud to wash dishes or haul things. Oh, and I have an excellent memory. So maybe I'd make a good waitress or accountant if my other skills fall through."

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That gets a puzzled frown.

"You're a stranger or I'd offer to give you some of the game from my traps if you help reset them. You could go to Sharktooth and bet on yourself in fights, I guess, but that doesn't work if you've got nothing to bet. Your body, I guess." Shrug. "Nobody here's going to sell you a gun on credit but if you have a Maintenance or Repair subskill maybe that'd do you for a job. Or, yeah, chores."

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