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Jan 27, 2022 7:31 AM
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There is a universe big enough for half a dozen towns to dot the countryside and still not be crowded, but small enough to walk from one end to the other in one very tiring day. In this little universe, somewhere near the middle, there is a farming village. It is not a high-tech farming village. The earthen ovens stand apart from the houses and need to be warmed with fires before they can bake anything; the houses, when they need light, are lit by oil lamps. And yet, it... doesn't look like a village at its tech level. One of the houses seems carved from a single piece of stone, engraved with a repeating pattern that would be hell to do by hand and looks precise enough to have been done by machine, albeit slightly eroded since then. The others are wooden, and newer, and one of them has a porch decorated with diamonds and rubies. The water tower nearby is colored almost like an easter egg.

On this particular day, one woman is picking blue wool from the bush it grows on. Two others, one of them blind, discuss study design in sign language; the blind one has her hands on the other's.

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Tarinda falls to the ground, and gets up, bewildered and bloody.

Did she land on... a theme village for an obscure fandom...?

...when she turns on Page, Page says no.

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Everyone startles. The blind woman gets a short description of what just happened and then sets off to see if Tarinda needs healing. She signs with one hand in a language Page doesn't know, while she's trying to find Tarinda.

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Tarinda's on her feet in a moment. "Hello?" she says. "Uh, where am I - what languages do you guys speak -"

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Definitely none that are spoken like that. That just gets her stared at in awe, for about a second before two of them start having a frantic signed conversation about whether she's from another universe.

Donna misses that this has happened but finds Tarinda. Poke?

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- oh, she can't see. Tarinda will... gently shake her hand??

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The response this gets her is - again in that unfamiliar language. ("I have some extra power and I thought you might be having a medical emergency.") But with much less urgency now that it seems clear Tarinda's up, capable of moving her hands, and generally not acting like her biggest concern about this situation is her injuries.

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Huh. Tarinda makes sure she's looking at the signs so Page can learn them but she certainly doesn't know them now.

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Not a medical emergency but a weird person. Weird people are much more interesting than medical emergencies but somewhat less Donna's comparative advantage. She steps aside and signs to the others.

The person she was talking with about study design breaks off arguing about Tarinda, and instead looks right at Tarinda, points to herself, and names herself.

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Tarinda points to herself and says "Tarinda", and then accepts a suggestion from Page about what to call herself in sign (it's a BSL sign meaning "blade" but presumably means nothing or something else, here).

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That - isn't the local word, no sense trying to parse it - but it's interesting that this person speaks in voice noises and in signs. Maybe she's descended from a different group of refugees, who preserved the original language but still needed to switch over to signing for some reason?

She tries pointing to a couple more things - that over there is wool, and that is a woolbush, and that up there is the sky - to see how Tarinda reacts.

(Donna meanwhile walks back over.)

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The woolbush is interesting - Tarinda goes to get a closer look at it - and what does the sky look like?

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The sky... looks like Earth's sky, at a glance, almost. It looks almost like a realistic oil painting of Earth's sky, both in that some of the finest details aren't there and in that things are arranged in ways that are statistically mildly unusual and make it look cooler. If she looked up before walking over to the woolbush and then again after she might be able to catch the parallax. Failing that, she might eventually notice that distant objects have shadows at slightly different angles, not quite as pronouncedly as objects in a room with a lamp but still not right for a sun.

The woolbush is a bush, with normal green leaves, whose branches happen to grow wool. Blue wool, in this case.

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Okay the sky is weird.

She will try signing back, though this is harder for her than reading off a phonetic transliteration of a spoken language would be. Sky, wool, woolbush.

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Yep, she's foreign. Nan updates Donna on this really quick and then tries some more words - that over there is a house, and so is that, and so is that; that is a wooden house and that is a stone house...

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Tarinda goes on possessing the linguistic traits of having a dictionary hooked into her eyeballs and also no experience with sign languages.

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Nan can keep her busy with vocabulary for a while, then, while the other two coordinate what to do.

Donna leaves to go find someone who knows as much as anyone knows about pre-apocalyptic language; Violet steps inside, and comes out with chocolates to offer their mysterious guest.

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Aww how nice. If that's what they're doing Tarinda will share her peanut candy.

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Ooh, peanut candy. ...Nan doesn't have a word for that. Well, candy, which the chocolates are too, but nothing more specific.

The chocolate has a hint of pepper and cinnamon in it, and although it's quite sweet it wasn't made with milk.

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It's interesting! Does she have "thank you" yet.

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Yeah, Nan said it reflexively when presented with candy.

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Then Tarinda will sign it back.

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Nan smiles more warmly than before.

She has picked up on the fact that Tarinda doesn't seem to be struggling with memory, only pronunciation, and doesn't really know what to make of it but moves on to demonstrating more complicated constructions - "Your candy is sweet. Violet's chocolates are sweet. Violet's chocolates are a type of candy. Your candy is a type of candy. Violet gave you chocolate before you gave us your candy. You landed here before Violet gave you chocolate."

She's kind of wondering if there's a point at which Tarinda will start struggling or if she should just be trying to pack in the maximum information possible per second. She tries talking a bit faster to see what happens.

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Going faster doesn't impair Tarinda's memory at all. She stares intently at Nan's hands and repeats things back sometimes but doesn't have the grammar to ask questions yet.

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Nan starts posing questions and answering them herself once she's named everything she can easily point to and several things she can't.

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That's very helpful! Soon Tarinda can ask what the sky is a type of.

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