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Jan 20, 2022 9:03 AM
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"You need more tools for getting things from the ground, and tools that are very very very small," she says, "to make very small tools that can - do numbers things - and then I can make the best tool, the one that made mine, and it can make more for everyone."

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"Getting things from the ground? Like farming - uh, making plants?"

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"No, like rocks things."

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"Oh, uh - which rock things - but you don't know, so. Do any of them happen to be elements or have simple chemical formulas you've memorized?"

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"Yes!" And they can work out how to discuss the periodic table and talk about silicon and rare earth elements and all the other things she would need to, ultimately, build a computer.

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"Okay! That is definitely information a mage could use to make those minerals for you. - A mage is someone who uses magic. Like Donna, who you met earlier - she's probably off talking to the college or the government about you right now, by the way. Uh, the college is where people learn complicated things and the government helps everyone stay organized and not start fights. Anyway, the point is, we can get you your minerals."

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"...if you use magic to make minerals, can you use magic to make computers?"

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"So, I think you can tell a mage the element numbers for your minerals, and a mage will know what that means. If you tell a mage 'I want a tool made out of silicon that makes me learn faster' the mage is going to say 'well, I don't know anything about any tools like that' and have you describe - you know, I don't know, I've paid for magic before but not for anything quite that unprecedented."

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"If I draw it?"

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"Probably! Has to be a raised drawing, obviously - that is not obvious to you, is it - you can't look at magic. I mean. You can look at magic and then you'll die horribly."

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"- how?"

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"Bearing in mind I never interact with magic and I'm getting this secondhand, you know how some sensations are so bad you can't quite think straight and sometimes you think 'oh I want to kill whoever is playing drums half an hour before dawn' but sometimes you just get really crabby and bad at things? Magic is like that, but worse, and if you see it or hear it you will stop being you and start trying to hurt people and then someone will kill what's left of you."

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"So they have to have their eyes closed?"

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"Seeing it through your eyelids is still sort of seeing it, they have them removed. In theory it should work fine to just do that while they're exposed but the actual cost of healing is too high to do it that way and they'd spend all their power on that and not on making the world exist."

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"- even if eyelids aren't enough couldn't they wear blindfolds -"

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"I don't actually know why the answer is no - Donna would, though, and if she somehow doesn't she'd know who would. Also, if you're worried about it, no one's going to inflict magic on you, and if you want to help mages I think Donna can put you in touch with a guy who's doing something about that, I'm vague on the specifics. But, so you know, the big thing we need mages for is without them the world shrinks and we need a place to live. We're perfectly capable of sending people to other worlds, it's just, all the ones we've tried have been empty vacuum. So one of the things people are going to ask you, once the folks from up north get here, is if we can move to your world and stop this."

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"Yes. You can once I build the best tool, it will fix it."

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" - What exactly does the best tool do?"

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"It is smart, the most smart, and it makes everything good."

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"Oh. It's smart. Um. When we've resurrected people, we've had problems with the magic writing directly to their brains and that being - perceptible, I guess - they have to be brought back unconscious and not in the middle of a dream and if they wake up too fast or some random thing goes wrong sometimes they come back magic-touched and you have to try again. So I think you don't want that conjured even if you understand it well enough to explain how."

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"The computer could be not smart, and then I could smarten it. Much faster than I could build it."

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Nan doesn't manage to answer; the sight of other people heading into town catches her eye. "Oh, I think those folks are going to want to talk to you."

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"Okay."

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It's true, they do.

There are three of them who actually have business here. One is carrying a lot of untied string for notetaking; another is carrying a copy of an old illustration and a book of history.

The third is a young-looking person in an embroidered silk skirt. She's the one whose fault it is that there's a small crowd of onlookers gathering. And she's the one who addresses Nan and Tarinda first. "Hello there! I'm Carey and I speak for the government of Sathend; I'm here to meet someone suspected of being from another world?"

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"That's me!" Tarinda signs.

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