Jun 14, 2021 1:57 PM
I didn't think anthropics worked like that
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They walk down a muddy aisle between rows of canvas tents. Close up, the camp/town is in some ways slightly more impressive than from a distance; the tents are made from fabric that sheds water in beads and looks very durable and tough, if not pretty, and are cleverly designed, with long double-stitched pockets to hold the poles, eaves to catch and shed rainwater and openable 'windows'. But it's also much more noticeable how everything is various degrees of damp, or muddy, or just generally grimy. Most of the people they pass have their hoods up and their eyes on the ground, though nearly all of them recognize Lissa and nod or salute her. 

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Lissa's tent is twice as big as most of the others, and proves to contain two 'rooms', the back one separated by a hanging curtain; it also has actual furniture, for some definition of 'furniture', all of it is clearly built to be lightweight and portable. There's a rug laid over the usual sheet of canvas on the ground, a mat by the entry-flap to wipe their feet, a folding table with an array of stools, and even a bookshelf.  

A child of about eleven - probably a girl, though it's hard to tell with her short-cropped hair and grimy face - jumps up, and Lissa smiles and politely asks her to please bring something over for lunch. "For three people. Thank you, Sheri." 

Lissa hastily rolls up the map spread out on her table and stows it away on the bookshelf, then pulls out some stools and pats them. "Have a seat!" She pulls down a jug from on top of the shelves, and retrieves a stack of ceramic cups from lower down. 

"Van, gods, it's so good to see you, you have no idea. And your friend, from 'not around here'...?" She pours a cup of what looks like somewhat-diluted wine, and plops it in front of Thellim. "I'm very curious!" 

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Vanyel, unsure how much of this Thellim can possibly be getting given that Lissa isn't a Mindspeaker, relays a translation. 

:...You can tell her: he adds. :I trust her. Er, or if it's too tiring I can explain - I'm impressed you can Mindspeak her at all, it's a lot harder with someone who's not Gifted and most Heralds can't: 

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Oh, really?  She'll worry later about whether Psion Mistress Thellim is going to be a thing again, or not, and whether anybody has previously checked whether Lissa is unusually receptive to Mindspeech in general.  For now, Thellim focuses her thoughts the way she was taught, pushing harder than she does when it's just Vanyel or Yfandes.

:I'm from another universe, likely with different fundamental laws of physics and not contiguous with this spatial metric at all.  I was in the crash of an aerial transportation device that almost certainly should have killed me, and found myself here instead.  I don't know how it happened - I wasn't expecting to come here - and Vanyel says it's unprecedented to him too.  So I never get to see any of my friends again, but on the plus side it looks like I can do far more good here than I could ever have dreamed of doing in my homeworld.  We know some things you don't, methods that should also work here - truths closer to mathematical ideals than local facts, or tricks that could take advantage of the apparent macroscopic similarity of physical laws.  It is not an exaggeration to say that this might be the most epochal event your world's economy has ever experienced.  This event has larger metaphysical implications too, obviously, but I think we've all been tacitly agreeing to talk about that part later, and keep the current discussion more to Mindspeech how-tos and the issue between Valdemar and Karse.  Oh, and if that all sounds insane, a close look at my shirt ought to show that it was manufactured by techniques unfamiliar to you and which would obviously be in wide use if they were known here?  If that doesn't work I can prove some clearly important novel theorems.:

(Thellim has yet to make the connection between per-capita real GDP and the average level of mathematical discourse people can handle.  You don't need material resources to do math, that's the whole point.)

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Lissa listens intently until Thellim is done, and then leans back on her stool and crosses her arms, frowning to herself. 

:- First of all: she says finally, :you'd best keep in mind that I'm not as smart as my brother here - maybe all that made more sense to him, I don't know. If Van believes you, then I believe him. And - wow. Just. Wow: She turns on her brother. :Van, why is your life always so bizarre?: 

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:It's not my fault!: 

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:Anyway. Van, are you dumping her on me to figure out what to do with?: 

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He shoots an apologetic look Thellim's way. :We were talking a bit, I thought it might make sense to send her to Haven. Randi's going to want to know. ...Gods, it'd almost be worth Gating, except -: 

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:Except, don't you dare: Lissa rolls her eyes. :Do they have Gates where you're from, Thellim?: 

The context coming along with the word indicates that a Gate os like a doorway, but also a kind of long-distance transport - instantaneous transport? And definitely magical. 

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Thellim can't even imagine how much money that's worth aside from 'all of it'.

:No.: she manages. :We have no public knowledge of INSTANTANEOUS LOGISTICS.  Or glowy lights that follow people around.  Or that thing I'm doing to talk to you right now - Yfandes trained me in Mindspeech on the way here... wait.  Vanyel, there are non-Mindspeakers?  I missed that greater implication the first time, and I don't think anybody mentioned that to me before.  What else does it mean that I'm a Mindspeaker?:

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:...Come to think of it, that part's especially weird? Because it's new, right, Mindspeech doesn't exist in your world - how does that even work - gods, I should've noticed sooner that it doesn't make any sense. Er, you presumably also have Thoughtsensing - you wouldn't have noticed as much with 'Fandes or I because we shield ourselves, and then she taught you shielding, but you could read other people's minds if you wanted– er, not Lissa either, she has a talisman to block it: Having important military commanders be vulnerable to spies with Thoughtsensing is a terrible idea. 

:Also you'll be able to tell where other people are, within your range - which we can test - oh and maybe I ought to test you for other Gifts too? Have you noticed anything else?: 

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:I haven't noticed anything else yet, but I haven't been instructed to look for anything either.  'Gifts', they're called?  Does somebody usually Give them?  And... I feel guilty about possibly disrupting food conversation over this, not to mention disrupting the food itself.  But if you need to slap some precautionary psionics-nullifying bracelets on me to prevent me from exploding in case I have the Gift of Detonation, even I will admit this to be a higher priority.:

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:Fortunately: Lissa says dryly, :even if you are a mage you can't explode by accident. - Oh! And here's our food: 

She thanks the girl delivering it, flips the cover off the tray and basket she brought in, and starts distributing it between plates.

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Vanyel seems a lot more enthusiastic about fresh bread with butter than he was about jerky and rock-solid cheese. 

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Oh, they do know how to make passable food here.  One of her early, more worried hypotheses was that the stuff Vanyel had been issued was the tastiest stuff their tiny economy had figured out how to make.

:Sorry again for disrupting the conversation.  My beliefs are far out of equilibrium with this new world, so all kinds of discussions are Suddenly Happening just because there's so much changing inside my mind all the time, rather than small probability updates being localized to particular outside events.  I think - the last topic was about getting me to Haven, somebody named Randi would want to know, but we don't dare use the Gate?:

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:I - react badly to Gates. It's inconvenient - it'd still get you there faster but then I'd be out of commission for days. But now that we're here, we should be able to get you a horse - it'll be about a week's ride: 

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:'Horse' is - I'm trying to go by the image I got with the word - like a much less intelligent version of Yfandes?  I'm a little worried about that - do they ever take their riders to the wrong city by accident?  I won't know how to change its directions.:

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Lissa is trying SO HARD not to snicker. 

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:Well, we should send you with an escort. I don't think it's a great idea to send you up the South Trade Road alone anyway - er, I'm guessing you don't have much in the way of self-defense training?: 

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Oh, that concept came through clearly!  :Yes!  Yes, we do, in fact!  People sometimes go literally insane and try to hurt each other no matter what kind of clever equilibria you construct, so I have Civilization's standard training to instill defensive-only reflexes against unarmed attackers or attackers with the most statistically common improvised weapons such as kitchen knives.  I can also coordinate with at least four other people who've had the same training in order to non-injuriously overpower somebody who needs restraining.  And on a larger scale I would have helped convert a factory near me into making tank treads, in case Civilization suddenly needed to defend itself against aliens or whatever.  Roughly, we've optimized for making people harder to hurt by defectors, as much as we can do that without amplifying the hurt from defectors.  Though... I have no idea what to do if I'm attacked by two people.  That's much more of a professionals-only situation.:

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Vanyel sighs. :Your world must be...really something. Our roads aren't too bad - definitely safer than Hardorn - but I wouldn't recommend that anyone travel alone–: 

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:You do!: 

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:Hey! 'Fandes is also a person, so no, I do not travel alone! ...And Lissa could probably fight off a dozen bandits if she had to. We'll send you with someone. Ideally a Herald plus a few Guards: 

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Lissa's eyes narrow. :You could go with her. I expect Randi's going to want to hear your accounting of things: 

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:But I–: 

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