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Jun 14, 2021 2:56 PM
Dottie lands in the middle of Brian and Jackson
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[Great. I don't think I'll find everything I'm looking for, but that's an answer in itself. Speaking of things your Google doesn't know, I think I can try to talk about chants. Should I go one at a time, or do you want to just list superpowers you've always wanted and I'll tell you if they can do those.]

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[One at a time's good.]

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[First, I should explain how chanting works. It's- pretty simple, really, but we don't have eclipses, so maybe it's one magic system per Earth. To chant, you learn the right set of words and set them to music, and then chant them with other people. So far we've only been able to find eight. You can chant six of the eight as either charm or curse. Gift and Reverse are special cases. When you're chanting with someone, it's all about the feelings you share. If you're sharing good feelings, you chant a charm. If you're sharing bad feelings, you chant a curse. Reverse is the simplest chant to understand, but that's because it's the same both ways. It always reverses the effects of another chant. That can be intuitive or really surprising, depending on what you're dealing with, but it's basically always what it sounds like.]

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[How do you aim it at a particular chant you want to reverse?]

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[You combine them. Once you've learned one chant well enough, as long as you can conjure up the necessary emotions, you can learn to mix it with the others. If someone chanted Exile to turn my alpha into a...weasel...I could chant Freedom, or I could chant Exile and Reverse. In that case, they're basically equivalent in function, although other examples are less arbitrary- Arouse and Reverse together are about the only thing that can counteract Arouse. Vigilance could, maybe, but I've never tested it. Some of these interactions I've just read about, but I've tried most of the ones involving Escape. Reverse and Aid are the only ones they teach in public schools- Aid's charm, Relief, has the easiest emotion for kids to understand, and Reverse is the only chant most adults need to know.]

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[I'm a little surprised they don't see more common use but maybe the professional class does most of it. Go on.]

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[I can try to give you some stats later. Anyway, Aid. Aid's charm, Relief, works on shared relief. This covers- absence of fear, absence of anger, sometimes, it's fairly broad. As long as people are relatively comfortable and calm around each other, they can chant Relief. Relief is one of the more convenient effects, too, since it's self-sustaining. Relief makes you and your co-chanters calmer. Aid's curse, Vigilance, relies on anxiety or worry, people who share the same worry or fear. Lots of kids are afraid of public speaking, or the dark, and so it's easy to teach it to them early- when it's active, a Vigilance chant works like a threat sensor.]

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[Relief sounds like kind of a catch-22 unless I'm mis-estimating how calm you'd need to be to start it.]

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[A charm doesn't just take your individual calmness as an input, it reads your collective calmness. When you're working a charm, it's a straight addition of what you're all feeling. Curses usually take the average. Relief works really well when you have a few students and a teacher; without the teacher, you'd be right. They don't usually need a teacher for Vigilance, because kids are scared of lots of random stuff, but they can find a teacher who worries enough for the fearless kids, too. Reverse- Reverse takes ages to sink in. Reverse uses elevation. Kids are bad at that, but they need everyone to have that chant in their back pocket, so we worked on that all through elementary school and middle school. You can't really cast that one as a curse; if you try, you just get Divert's curse, which uses Schadenfreude. That's one of the theories of how they discovered Divert, actually.]

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[Elevation?]

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[The feeling you get when you see people doing good things for each other. Kind of like gratitude, except you feel it when it's not helping you. I've never been great at it- kind of a saintly sort of attitude to take, really, but Jackson is pretty good at it when he's not being a jealous prick. Oh, that's another tick in the 'massively suspicious coincidence' column, my alpha's name is Jackson, too.]

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[I don't know if that's very suspicious unless you also know an Isabella and a Brian and so on. I do not know a Dottie.]

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[It's not that I don't believe in coincidence, it's that if you asked me yesterday whether alternate universes were real, I would have thought it was a fun idle musing. Freedom is supposed to take you somewhere safe-]

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That is a possibility she hadn't previously considered. What would happen if her co-chanter was feeling quite a lot of fear while Dottie was leaning on him to cast Escape? She would have noticed if they had cast Exile- probably. If she hadn't been falling at the time, she would be sure of that. It's not impossible for a chant to shift during chanting. She's never been stupid enough to let it happen before, but she's been pretty reckless the past few days...

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[Sorry. Just realized something about what Jackson might be getting up to while I'm gone. Freedom should take you somewhere safe, but I might have screwed it up, I was feeling pretty stressed out. Where were we?]

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[You'd explained 'elevation'. Were you not safe on landing? Do you need a doctor?]

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[I'm not hurt, just- worried about what's happening back home. Not sure I can do anything about it just yet. Actually, instead of explaining all of this now, maybe I should start teaching someone. On my Earth- let's call it Earth-C for chanting, for now- on Earth-C, everyone can learn to chant. Not everyone learns it to my level, because of the emotional requirements and because you can only chant with someone else. I'm not a professional either, but I- it helped me feel safe, growing up. Middle school was hell. But I can't think of a reason why I shouldn't be able to teach you.]

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[Let's call this one Eclipse and yours Chant. Do we have to be physically nearby, will this need to wait till you're in New York?]

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[-we should test it over this channel. Recordings don't work, but no one in Chant has whatever you call this- telepathic communication. So maybe we can try it. Why don't I have one of my hosts text you the lyrics I want you to chant and we can try it. In the meantime, I'll explain the emotional stuff.]

...if anyone is reading Dottie's mind she is going to be thinking about sex with her boyfriend. Take that, potential mindreaders. She'll also think about the chant they should try- Aid is usually easiest in a classroom setting but they might want to try for something which uses the novelty of their situation- Freedom, but she doesn't want to play with that one again, not just yet. They could probably do Vigliance or Gift.

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[You could just tell me without the intermediary, I've an eidetic memory.]

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[...we should definitely cast Gift. I can envy you your eidetic memory and telepathic communication enough to more than power the chant.]

Dottie proceeds to provide Isabella the standard framework for Gift; this skeleton can (and should) be modified depending on how it is used, although less creative folks do use the generic version to more limited effect. Dottie often peppers Shakespeare references into her chants because she finds them emotionally resonant; if Isabella has anything she can quote or otherwise include that would help her with sustaining the necessary emotions, she's welcome to try.

Speaking of the emotional side of things, [To chant Gift, we want to either work on a shared sense of triumph, or we want one of us to have a serious case of envy. I think have envy to spare right now, and triumph seems premature. This is the part where you should probably ask clarifying questions, before we get to the actual magic.]

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[I like Shakespeare fine. Can you tell me step by step what to expect?]

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[First, we want to get on the same page emotionally. You want to think about what you're envious of in other people. Make it specific- one trait, one circumstance, just as long as it's narrow. Second, we want to start chanting. The chant should be about the gift you envy, so that part we should talk about in advance. The actual style and process of chanting varies depending on the chant- for envy, we usually take long turns, so you're itching to interrupt the other person by the time your verse comes up. Third, during the chorus, you need to- I've never actually had to explain this part before... Third, when we're at the height of the chant, you want to...take yourself out of the emotion. I don't think anyone gets it on their first few tries. We want to make it objective. It shouldn't be your envy, anymore. It's generic envy, that anyone could feel. It's plainly part of reality that the thing you were envying is enviable. Finally, we finish chanting, drawing on the more subjective, personal emotional side again. This is part of why not everyone does it- most people have trouble putting themselves through the emotional wringer like that. And then, when the chant is finished, you'll have a new gift.]

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[Mages can fly and that looks fun, how about that?]

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[I've never thought about whether Gift could mimic magical effects. It would never be useful to do with chants. Let's give it a shot.]

Dottie suggests a few places for Isabella to make substitutions in the basic chant, where she can mention her envious feelings towards mages, and then they can get started.

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