Emiko looked around the new research outpost. It was fairly small by Starlight's standards but it could be expanded later if necessary. The station was a mere 2 kilometers in diameter and only the same amount wide making for an inner surface of about 12 square kilometers. For now it was mostly park land and some small farms. There was constant soft illumination through the transparent siding of the station's outer ring from the silver mist outside and fusion powered lights provided brighter illumination on a daily cycle. The strange mist didn't seem to be affected by gravity and was close to uniform in every direction they'd sent probes out for at least a few million kilometers. A magecrafter had come through and determined that the mist was probably harmless but none of them were currently available for follow-up tests so at least for now the team here would be relying on resonators and good old-fashioned physics.
She laughs, "See this is why it's good to have local knowledge. I had ideas about elaborate series of experiments that were probably impractical but you just know things I don't think I would have thought to test for. Also, I didn't mean to imply that I thought holy water was objectively right about morality. Just that it was potentially worth knowing what definition it used."
“A complicated definition, but I’m not sure how much it’s embedded in the water. The water is useful for hurting creatures made of evil quintessence, and undead, and treating evil-quintessence diseases and whatnot. It doesn’t tend to react to regular people no matter how good or evil they are.”
"When is the definition applicable then?"
"It's applicable to the touch-based power I can get by turning into a celestial animal, called 'Smite Evil', and to ethics-related spells like 'Protection from Evil'. The latter of which definitely draws from my ethics somewhat, my version shields against psychopomps but other people's might not. Er. The touch-based power is called 'Smite Evil' because it's normally useful for combat but if you do it at a non-combat intensity it can be actively pleasant for, uh, people who like goodness. Which is a lot of them."
"If that works on our biologicals I'll have to swap so I can try it. I'm always looking to try new things."
"If you have to design your spells, er, magic-usage-arrays, yourself you might not have anything like 'Owl's Wisdom'? And if my magic is compatible with your people's minds it'd be interesting if you've never tried anything like it. It makes people better at … resisting attempts to interfere with their minds, noticing faint but important sensory stimuli, modeling other people's behavior, and some specific tasks related to those."
"Ooh, that sounds fun. We have the ability to improve memory, let people think faster and increase attentional capacity though all that works much better for constructs than biological people."
“Huh. If I were a wizard I could do something like that for people with positive energy souls with Fox’s Cunning.”
"Cool, is it hard to become a wizard?"
“If you go to an institution for teaching wizardry, and you learn there for years, and you are issued somewhat pricey task-specific tools, and you are above average intelligence, usually you can learn some. It might also require my world’s sort of soul.”
Griffie frowns. “However, I don’t have even the most introductory materials on learning wizardry.”
"So it's a taught skill, not an inherent ability or something that people can easily derive independently. Is most of your world's magic like that?"
“No, there’s a lot of inherent abilities around too. My sort of person can turn into a plant and back just by virtue of their construction.”
"What does that mean and how is that different from how you turned into a bird earlier?"
“It means that any person made by magically turning normal plants into an operable body and then putting a soul in can turn into a plant like they were made from. It’s extremely similar to how I turned into a bird, but it’s a few seconds faster, the plant form is immobile, and I can do it as much as I want. I mostly use it for sleep.”
"How does being a plant make your experience of the world different? Is it just being unable to move or do you have different senses? Also do you need dirt to root in when you're a plant?"
“To the extent that plants have useful senses I have those in this form too, turning into a normal plant is not an amazingly useful ability. I would need dirt for comfort but for a brief demonstration I’d be fine without it.”
"Would there be a safe way to test whether you can root in our dirt? Do you have seeds or small plants we could test with? Or magic that can check?"
"I wouldn't expect it to work except maybe for slightly increased stability, but I would expect any failure to be analogous to interacting with, say, tiny grains of dry metal instead of proper soil, and be harmless? I can touch some soil with my hand or something, if it doesn't hurt my hand or have other obvious problems, I expect any problems with using it as a stabilizer will be slow enough that I can notice and correct for them."
"We can definitely test that if you'd like. There's dirt outside. I'm not sure when you'll want to sleep."
"I've slept in this form too, it's just comfier the other way. And my friends prefer sleeping on mattresses with pillows and sheets and blankets but cope with a bedroll in the wilderness. It's not a big deal."
"So, mage-crafters can ask questions of reality, huh? How does that work?"
"It's a pretty broad ability. In effect, you have to write your question in a way magic understands into an array and activate it. You can ask a really wide variety of questions though some topics are easier to get understandable answers about than others. For example, it's really easy to ask how many people that magic can interface with are around. For that you'd define an area and then just use the symbols for people and number. If you wanted to know how many of them have red hair though you'd need to explain to the magic what you meant by that."
"How well does it handle magical attempts to conceal things?"
"That depends a lot on how something is trying to hide. The Heart's magic won't lie to itself but some other magics we've encountered can force it to return incorrect answers... it's usually pretty hard though and often with enough creativity you can work around it."
“Hmm, interesting. We should look at my soul at some point, then, there’s likely to be a well-concealed curse on it that’s also on everyone else from my world.”
"We can definitely try, though it might be hard without a point of comparison."