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Oct 28, 2021 10:50 AM
Riley goes adventuring
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"Is there anything else you'd like to discuss that requires discretion?"

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"Ironwood said you knew more about the individual in the Land of Darkness and that it would be best to speak with you before reaching out to them."

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"...I do, and it would." 

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"We have no plans to rush into this, but it is important ethically that we establish whether the Grimm are sapient and whether they can be negotiated with. The sole individual with Aura living on a continent full of Grimm seems like a potentially important source of information on that topic."

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Ozpin heaves a long sigh. "You would be wise to distrust anything she tells you on that front. She may know more than I about the Grimm, but she will only speak that which will hasten Remnant's ultimate doom, true or otherwise. It was she who started the war that ended humanity, all those ages ago, and she has only grown more adept at dividing people since that time. If it served her ends to claim that Grimm are sapient, she would do so without qualm. And if any are, it does not stop her from controlling them, nor wielding them as weapons against innocents." 

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"Do you know what her goals are? Do you know why she started that war?"

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"To the best of my knowledge, she wants to die. She believes that summoning the gods to a divided and warring Remnant might enable this where nothing else can. I suspect, but do not know for certain, that she desires the destruction of all life as a terminal value, as well.

"She was not -" 

His voice breaks. 

 

 

 

 

"She. Was not always so. The gods cursed her with immortality, as punishment for her sins. 'As long as this world turns, you shall walk upon it,' they promised.

"And so she has. She walked an empty world, alone and despairing, unable to rest, for time beyond counting. In desperation for an end, she flung herself into the pool of Darkness, in which all things are destroyed. But the gods' curse of immortality was stronger. Now she is death undying, an immortal corrupted by Grimm, with naught left of who she was but pain, spite, and cunning.

Ozpin pauses to compose himself. He draws three shuddering breaths. 

 

"The gods left one hope for Remnant. A gift of four relics, each with a bit of their power imbued. Bringing the relics together will summon the gods to Remnant, one final time, to judge their creation. If they find humanity united in common purpose, they spare us, and restore the proper order that we lost in our sin. If they find us divided, they judge their attempt a failure..."

His voice is a whisper of sadness. 

"...and perhaps then the world stops turning, and so it ends." 

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"Well that's horrifying... on a lot of levels. I wonder if we could kill her. That depends a lot on how her immortality works. And whether she'd accept it. I'm also not sure what you mean by proper order, could you expand on that?"

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"The gods once lived among humanity. Not mingling, as it were, but present on this planet, in physical locations which still exist today. They prevented the Grimm from running rampant, and their gift of magic served many useful purposes. They intervened to prevent large-scale conflicts. It was a time of comparative peace and plenty. 

"Salem's immortality is...thorough. Her body reconstitutes automatically from any damage up to and including total annihilation. She cannot be removed from Remnant, either; if she passes the atmosphere, she evaporates and reconstitutes on the surface. 

"I know not whether she would accept death, were it offered freely and with more certainty than any Remnant magic could give. I suspect not, however. I offered to seek a way, once, and she did not take it well. I fear she desires not just her own destruction, but mine as well, and that of all I seek to preserve, including the people of Remnant, who in her eyes have the gift of death, so long denied her. 

"I suspect the gods did more or less exactly what their words implied, and tied her existence to Remnant itself. One could not kill her without destroying the planet, or Remnant itself would revive her. A coma may be possible, but her biology is more Grimm than human, now; chemicals do not work on Grimm, and no Semblance can quiet them for long." 

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"That does seem to foreclose a lot of options. That said we are quite creative, though our most exotic options would require modifying the way your realm works to accommodate those options."

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"I have had a long time to try to find a way of ending the threat Salem poses. No power in Remnant can do so. I am open to suggestions from outside our realm, as you call it, but we should proceed with caution. Do you truly have access to magic that can change the fabric of reality itself? Employing such power against Salem might yield victory, but tampering with Creation in such a way might draw the attention of the Brothers Grimm. I do not know how they would react." 

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"We do, though that makes us sound more powerful than we are. We can control how realms mix together but once a new magic or a new bit of physics is present in a world we can't remove it. We can only make irreversible additions and so we're cautious about doing so."

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"A wise policy. When one has eternity, one does not rush into irreversible changes. Nothing is more important than securing a meaningful future, in the long run." 

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"That's always the challenge, there's so many people we can help but if we overextend then we put everyone already under our protection at risk. And while we have a lot of researchers nobody knows what the full implications of two magics coexisting will be until long after they do."

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"Perhaps I can be of some assistance in that, once matters in Remnant have been resolved. The nuances of magic are something of a passion of mine. I would have been a scholar, and a teacher of scholars, if my world did not so badly need a champion instead." 

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"There's always plenty to do if you wish for meaningful work. We're regularly expanding to new realms, so there's a constant influx of new things to research. If we can't find a way to stop the Grimm attacks then I think the best choice would be to move everyone off your planet's surface, possibly out of your realm entirely but that doesn't seem nessecary. Do you think the peoples of your world would be receptive?"

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"Many will be loathe to leave their homes, but the prospect of living in a world free from Grimm is a tempting one. It would be a shame to lose access to Dust, but I gather your technology and magic can replicate all or nearly all of its functions. It would be significantly harder to convince people to give up their Semblances, so it is worth confirming that those still work outside Remnant. A complete evacuation would be nigh impossible without coercion, but I expect the majority will assent with the proper handling. But it is Salem's leadership and manipulation that makes the Grimm truly dangerous; the combined efforts of the four nations could drive them back otherwise. And she would likely interfere with any attempt at widespread escape, by sowing dissent, sabotaging efforts, or attempting to frame one side or the other for an attack." 

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"People are always reluctant to embrace change and there will always be holdouts. Dust not working outside your atmosphere is a solvable problem. We already have prototypes to allow dust to be used in other parts of your realm. It's not the most efficient use of energy but if it makes people more comfortable it's worthwhile. Enabling it's use beyond your realm is dependent on a cost benefit analysis determining it's a worthwhile addition to Horizon's mix. As to sabotage and dissent that's harder to address. We have a lot of experience countering misinformation but even with that there are limits to what's possible. Hopefully we won't need to evacuate your world though. Change is always easiest when it's gradual."

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"I wonder if you could find a way to generate Dust. It isn't the highest priority with all the other options on the table, but it would be one of those experiments that would suggest we can maintain any local magic the gods left behind in Remnant and its inhabitants. I would be deeply curious to examine those prototypes, as well. If you could somehow extend or distribute the old magic from before the scouring, that too would be an incredible boon to humanity." 

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"The prototypes are just arrays. They're not magical in and of themselves they're just instructions for our magic to follow. I can show them to you but they're just a basic copy array for the magical field that Riley observed interacting with Dust. The original version was designed to counteract the stabilizing field and thereby confirm what it was doing."

A design appears in the air. The main body is a circle with the line made up of a chain of symbols. There's a line connecting the outer circle to a second much denser dot with a different set of symbols.

"This is the simplest version it just copies the field based on a referenced record of what the field is like. Our magic is very good at copying, though some magics are much more expensive to copy than others. The field maintaining the Dust is of middling cost. Generating dust is something we'd be interested in but we don't have a good starting point for that research beyond outright synthesis which is very expensive and usually not worthwhile. You'd need to provide more information on what exactly those magics were for us to investigate distributing them."

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"All knowledge is worth having. I would love to examine more arrays. I am especially curious about how your analysis and copying works, it seems quite effective. Frustratingly, Remnant magic is rather bad at information-gathering, a few notable Semblances excepted. 

"The old magics are...varied. Like your magic, they required study to master, but getting specific results was more a matter of intent and state-of-mind than programming. They could produce effects similar to all the types of Dust, but they were also capable of other physical feats, such as shapeshifting. Individuals could develop spells with a specific effect, and they would be able to reproduce that effect thereafter. Certain abilities could also be passed on to others, but they would not be recovered thereafter. 

"Salem and I are the only ones left who remember the old magic and can use it as the first humans could. If your magic can copy mine, perhaps that would be an avenue to restoring the lost gifts." 

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"I don't know if we can copy inborn magical talents and grant them to others. You'd have to talk to an expert about that. As I understand it we look at the patterns of magic and what effects they have on the world and try to replicate the effects more than the magic. Our archives contain every array that's ever been used, there's over a million of them on record, though many of them only differ slightly. Is there anything specific you'd like to see?"

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"Even replicating the effects would be an unprecedented feat, if it does not lessen the power of the source effect. Do you have arrays for information gathering and analysis? The sort of thing that lets you look at patterns of magic?" He's not bothering to hide his excitement. 

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"We do, the simplest ones look like this" She projects a few images. "The one on the left maps the density of magic so to speak, the one in the center lists conceptual resonances and the one on the right maps the flows of magic. None of those terms perfectly apply to every kind of magic we've encountered and so sometimes the analysis produces unhelpful results."

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He has questions! What sorts of magic are more or less dense than other sorts? What are conceptual resonances and what are their examples? 

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