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Generated: Dec 02, 2022 3:01 PM
Post last updated: Dec 02, 2022 3:01 PM
Blue Beginnings
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Step 1

[This story takes place on a flat world with magic. One side of the world contains an infinitely tall glowing blue wall which advances across the ground at a walking pace. Anything that passes through the wall disappears. Locals call it simply "the Blue" and migrate across the land to stay ahead of it. A human who sacrifices a body part to the Blue gains magical powers.] (The presence of the wall provides a singular source of magic, a destination for the Player, and a key element that differentiates this world from other fantasy settings, in particular the need to move or migrate regularly.) 

[Cardinal directions on the plane are bluse, gree, rise, and set. Bluse is toward the Blue and gree is away from it. Rise is the direction of the sunrise and set is the direction of sunset. Society is stratified into three broad categories: greefolk, who live far from the Blue; blusefolk, who live nearby; and middlefolk, who occupy the region in between. In general, greefolk are wealthier, with access to fast means of travel. Because the Blue grants magical powers, blusefolk are often more magical or strange individually, and even greefolk often travel there to gain power. But the highest concentrations of magic and civilization are floating greefolk cities far from the Blue.] 

[The main plot: In the first act, Prota sets out to obtain a magic from the Blue. In the second act, their magic helps them uncover an important secret about the nature of the Blue.]

[This is a long quest.] 

(The beginning will be a short quest to establish Prota's goals and to give the Player a feel for the world and its society. The Player will be told their current situation and starting goal. The Player should also be told of some possible dangers and given at least one choice in how they proceed. They will face escalating challenges and dangers along the way. The primary goal is to challenge, not kill, the main character, but some later obstacles may be lethal.) 

[The Blue is a popular travel destination for those seeking power, including the wealthy. Prota will be a middlefolk with some resources, but carrying too much wealth could make them a target. There will be some established safe camps in some areas, taking visitors for a price, but bandits will also be present.]

To start, the Player will be offered three suggestions for travel to the Blue. Hiring a guard, accompanying a pilgrim caravan, or meeting an experienced relative who escorts travelers to the Blue. Alternatively, the Player may examine their options further, or choose a different approach. 

[Prota's uncle, Glint, is an experienced traveler. Glint possesses shapeshifting magic. He recently got into a fight with bandits. He is alive, but will be late in returning if Prota waits for him.] 

Prota is young, but old enough to be making this journey on their own. 

[Prota is 19 years old.]

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You are Emerald, a young middlefolk just come of age. You have decided to make a pilgrimage to the Blue, the slowly-advancing wall of magic that destroys whatever passes through it. There, you can sacrifice a part of yourself to the Blue to gain a magic of your own. 

The journey to the Blue may be hazardous. The border near the wall is populated largely by the strange and the desperate. You know a few relatively safe routes, but bandits are common. You know of a migratory camp your clan keeps near the Blue, but their exact location will have changed when you reach them. 

Your family has pooled their resources to provide you with a modest purse of coin for the road. You might use this coin to hire protection at a nearby village, but you will also need it for food and necessities along the way. A small caravan, filled mostly with pilgrims like yourself, is passing through your camp, bound for the Blue along a different but well-traveled route. Your uncle Glint is a Wall-Warden, an escort for Blue-bound travelers with formidable magic. Glint operates from Pescall Village a week's ride greeset from your camp, and is expected to visit you in two days. 

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[Prota's name is Emerald.] 

[Glint operates from Pescall Village a week's ride greeset from Prota's clan's camp.]

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I'll wait for my uncle. I'll spend two days making my goodbyes, packing things like food and a fishing net, and making my final decision about what I plan to sacrifice.

I plan to sacrifice all of my hair, which I've been growing out my whole life for this reason, and my little toes and my little fingers.

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[Prota has long hair, which they plan to sacrifice to the Blue.] 

[Prota will have some food for the journey and a fishing net. Prota is competent at fishing.] 

Prota packs for the trip and waits for Glint. 

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You pack, and await Glint's return. You plan to sacrifice your hair, little fingers, and little toes to the Blue. 

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Step 2

Sacrificing hair tends to give weak powers, if any, but it is still a popular choice. Sacrificing multiple body parts tends to give several weaker powers, often related. Prota would know this. 

[Unless Prota changes their sacrifice, they can expect a linked collection of small magics.] (A theme in this world will be "less is more," driving examples of large impacts that occur from relatively minor magics. The magics Prota receives will significantly affect the plot of the second act. A series of linked magical senses, including the ability to analyze and understand other magics, is a possibility with strong potential for Prota's development). [The small magics Prota receives may be divination, detection, and/or sensory based.] 

Prota does not know yet that Glint has been delayed. The caravan will move on without them, but they will still have the option of hiring help or waiting for Glint. 

Two days will pass in camp. Glint is recovering from his wounds, and will be delayed for an additional three days. This is uncommon, but not unique. Prota knows that Glint has a dangerous job. 

(Since the Player has shown an interest in Glint, this is an opportunity to describe his character in more detail. This will also serve to better inform the Player about their options.) 

[Glint sacrificed both legs to the Blue, and obtained a flexible power. He can shapeshift into any animal he's seen before, and he is stronger and more resilient than normal humans in animal form. When he travels alone, he usually shapeshifts into a bird for speed.] 

[Glint is Emerald's mother's brother. He is on moderately good terms with his family, but prefers the wilderness and his work.] He knows that he is expected by his family, and will try to arrive as quickly as he can. The Player may choose to establish some fact about Prota's relationship with Glint later. It is at least moderately positive, or Prota would not have chosen to wait for him.

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Hair and extremities are popular choices for sacrifice. Hair grants weak magic unreliably. With this combination, you can probably expect to obtain several small magics, possibly related in some way. 

Two days pass, but Glint does not return. This is not the first time his annual visit has been delayed, but it is unusual. Glint's animal shapeshifting and resilience make him formidable and difficult to harm, and he's never outright missed a visit before. Not many threats in these parts could detain him, and fewer still could do so indefinitely. But it is possible that he will not return at all. Wall-Warden is a dangerous job, after all. 

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None. 

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I decide to wait a few more days. Three, I think, that's the longest I can remember Uncle Glint being held up. I try to think of all the other magics I've heard people can get, besides Uncle Glint's.

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Prota decides to wait up to three days for Glint. They think about examples of other magics they have seen or heard of. 

 

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You decide to wait three days for Glint to arrive. As you wait, you consider what magics you might expect to gain. 

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Step 3

[Sacrificing larger body parts at once tend to give proportionally larger magics. Otherwise, magic distribution is mostly random.] Prota has an interest in this topic but no special training. They will be able to recall widely-known examples of great magics and common magics and a small number of uncommon magics, but no more. 

(The distribution of magics affects worldbuilding and the sort of power Prota can expect to encounter. Time travel complicates plot, and should therefore be excluded. Many greefolk live in floating cities, which must be made and maintained by magic. Blusefolk prize magic for everyday tasks like growing food, so those will be common in the bluse. Travel magic is highly prized everywhere. Otherwise, most forms of fantasy magic are possible.) 

(Dramatic tension can be created as the wait drags on.) 

Glint arrives on the third day. He is mostly recovered, but still slightly injured from his journey. He will be a moderately common bird that can fly long distances quickly with minimal exertion, such as an albatross. 

(Glint's lingering wounds help establish the potential dangers on the coming journey, and establish that while strong, Glint is still vulnerable.)

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You've heard of a variety of magics, most of them small but useful in niche ways. A cousin of yours can dig faster than five laborers; an elder of Pescall can create modest quantities of water; a woman from your mother's clan can move objects without touching them. Bluse and middlefolk prize magics that can aid the growing or obtaining of food, and bandits often have magics that can kill or maim. Most who obtain greater or more useful magics move gree to find work. Artificers can create temporary or permanent enchanted objects, many of which are used to keep the floating cities of the gree aloft and functioning. Forms of travel magic are rare but highly prized by all - teleportation, flight, endurance, or enchantments of motion. 

Another day passes, then another. Glint does not arrive. Your mother begins to worry that some ill has befallen him.

Near sunset on the third day, a murmur goes up in camp. A sentry spotted a broad-winged grey-white seabird winging in from greeset. You recognize Glint's favored form for long-distance travel. 

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I go out to meet him, with our first aid supplies, such as they are, ready in case he needs them.

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Prota brings first aid supplies to Glint. 

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You bring a stock of bandages and ointments to where a small group of your clanspeople huddle excitedly. 

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Step 4

Prota is carrying first aid supplies: primarily bandages, ointments, and herbal remedies. Prota's clan does not have ready access to magical healing. 

Glint has been traveling for several days in albatross form, and was injured five days before he set out. His injuries have healed enough for him to travel, but not completely. 

[Wounds that Glint takes in animal form carry over to his human form, but the reverse is not true. When he shapeshifts, the animal body is a fresh one. He can stay in animal form for up to a day at a time before he must rest in human form. His human form does not heal while he is in animal form. His leg-stumps are smooth because the Blue cleanly severed them.] 

Other members of the clan will gather to meet Glint. Because Prota was waiting for him, they will be among the first to arrive. 

(Glint's arrival is a chance to describe his magic and physical appearance.)

[Those who sacrifice larger limbs to the Blue will need a way to prevent death by blood loss. In Glint's case, this was a friend with healing magic that could immediately close over the wound and prevent shock. Lesser sacrifices are less risky, but having bandages and salves on hand is important.]

Glint's arms are muscled from carrying his weight when not transformed, and the hands thickly callused. He has still-healing injuries to forehead and chest. 

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You are just in time to watch the seabird glide in for a landing and transform into your uncle Glint, feathers melding seamlessly into flesh in the span of a few breaths. Glint is clad in a custom-sewn, worn cloth tunic that wraps loosely around the stumps of his missing legs. Though the tunic hides them from view, you know those stumps are unnaturally flat and smooth, a consequence of close contact with the Blue. Glint holds himself upright on thickly muscled arms, grinning fiercely at your assembled relatives. There are red blotches on his green-grey tunic, and bandages are visible at the neckline. Beneath his grey-brown hair, a yellowish bruise spreads across his forehead. 

"What happened to you, Glint?" someone asks in amazement. You don't catch Glint's response, but the tone is dismissive. He does not seem to notice you yet. 

Thoughts: none.

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"Uncle Glint!" I call, jogging up to him. "What happened to you?"

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Prota approaches Glint and asks what happened. Everyone in the clan knows Prota planned to travel with Glint. No one will impede them.

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You hurry to Glint's side and ask what happened.

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Step 5

Glint is on good terms with Prota, but doesn't like admitting vulnerability. He will answer minimally. 

(Despite being gone most of the time, Glint has known Prota since they were young. It would make narrative sense for him to have a nickname for them.) 

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Glint's grin widens at your approach. "Just bandits, little greenjay," he laughs, "Nothing your uncle can't handle." 

Thoughts: none.

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"Well, I brought you stuff if you need to change your bandages or anything," I say.

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Prota is offering a change of bandages from their supply. 

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You say to Glint, "Well, I brought you stuff if you need to change your bandages or anything."

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Step 6

Because Glint's shapeshifting delays both healing and bleeding, his bandages are still moderately fresh, but they will need changing by the next day. 

(Having Glint injured gives Prota one non-combat way to assist on the journey. Glint should also compliment Prota's foresight.)

Prota will have been planning this trip for some time. Glint knows Prota wants to travel to the Blue, but does not yet know whether they want to travel with him. 

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"Always on top of things," nods Glint. "Keep that initiative, greenjay, it'll serve you well. These are pretty fresh, though. Save the clean ones for tomorrow." 

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None. 

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"All right," I say, stowing the first aid kit. "Well, apart from the bandits how have you been?"

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Prota puts the first aid supplies back in their container, but still has them.

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You return the herbs and bandages to the medical bag. You say to Glint, "All right. Well, apart from the bandits how have you been?"

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Step 7

Prota has not seen Glint for at least a year, and is asking about his recent experiences. 

(This is an opportunity to establish some of Glint's character.) [Glint is gruff but kind. He is not used to interacting with people except on business, preferring the wild, but he likes Prota more than most.] His response should hint at his day-to-day life and the road ahead, and express familial affection for Prota. Glint will also mention a wealthy gree character who is traveling to the Blue for magic as well, and who may appear later. 

Half a dozen clanmembers are here to greet Glint as well, but for now they will only observe. 

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"Wild and free, greenjay, as always," chuckles Glint. "The roads near the Blue have been interestin' of late. Keep your uncle busy, they do." Glint swings out from the small crowd on his callused hands and plops next to Emerald. "Word is some gree bigshot sent their spawn out for a dose o' the magics, with a big honkin' fleet o' carriages 'n' guards. Lotsa folk eager to cash in on the travelers, one way or t'other." 

A half-dozen clansfolk listen intently to Glint's words. An interested murmur arises at the end. 

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None.

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"What do gree-folk even sacrifice?" I wonder. "I always imagine them too precious to hand over a foot - maybe they do like you, only then they get carried around by servants."

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Prota is asking what greefolk sacrifice. Prota thinks of greefolk as spoiled or pampered. 

[Many bluse think of greefolk as spoiled or pampered.]

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You wonder aloud, "What do gree-folk even sacrifice? I always imagine them too precious to hand over a foot - maybe they do like you, only then they get carried around by servants."

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Step 8

(This is an opportunity to establish some facts and prejudices about greefolk and bluse.) 

[Greefolk are often wealthy, but their society is complex. Even among the gree, there are haves and have-nots. Some will travel to the Blue on their own initiative, to raise their station or obtain useful power. Others are expected by family tradition to make the pilgrimage. Others are desperate for specific magics, or simply despairing. Still others may be magically or mundanely coerced, and controlled for access to their magics.]

Glint has been hired as a guide by greefolk and bluse alike. He saw some of them make their sacrifices, but he would not usually know their reasons. 

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"Oh, I've seen a fair bit of variety there," muses Glint. "Some go your way, some go mine. I led a fellow once who made the whole long trek to sacrifice a fingernail. One. Hadn't even grown it out, just nipped it a bit. On t'other side, though, there was this one lady who brought a bigshot healer with her and sacked all four limbs and her - well, let's just say it wasn't done on a whim. Not all of 'em have seemed happy about it, neither, but I don't pry. They don't pay me to ask questions, see. Often the opposite, in fact." Glint chuckles. "I'm very good at not asking questions." 

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None.

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"What kind of magic did they get?" I ask.

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Prota is asking about types of magic in this world. (The Player may want to learn more about available kinds of magic). 

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You ask Glint, "What kind of magic did they get?"

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Step 9

Not all magic has visible indications. Glint only knows of magic whose immediate, visible effects he has seen or magic that the recipient spoke about later. He has seen only a small sampling of a wide selection of possible magics. Also, Prota is only asking for magics that Glint's clients received from the Blue, not other magics he has encountered. 

Glint likes to shock and impress. He knows Prota wants to visit the Blue. He supports this decision, but wants Prota to know the risks. He has no reason to lie to his niece. He will start with a flashy example. The most powerful magic comes from people who sacrifice the most of their body, but not all powerful magic is flashy or obvious. Glint will describe a single visually striking magic of moderate strength, and several additional magics ranging from weak to moderate in effect, including at least one that is more powerful than it is flashy. Some random magics meeting these criteria are stretchy limbs, rapid healing, magical fire, enhanced hearing, and changing one form of earth into another. 

The power of a magic does not easily change, but people can develop their skill at using it. (This is an opportunity to illustrate the effect of magical skill to the Player. Magical skill can be illustrated by showing a new magic causing problems for the recipient at first. These are also the sort of cases Glint would be most likely to remember and highlight). 

[Glint's job has taught him some ways of handling problems with new magic.]

(A pause should follow Glint's first flashy stories, to give Prota and the Player a chance to respond.)

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"I once saw a fellow who sacrificed an arm, then melted into a puddle in the grass. It was all we could do to keep the rest of him from sloughing into the Blue!" Glint roars with laughter. "He eventually pulled himself together, but it was quite the mess for a while. Another sacked an arm, then burst into flames!" Resting on his haunches, Glint flings his arms skyward, as if calling up a pillar of fire. "She wasn't hurt, it turns out, but bandaging the blued stump was tricky. Their healer was touch-range and couldn't do burns." Glint pauses to observe the effect of his stories on his niece. 

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Glint wants to observe Prota's reaction and judge how well they handle the prospect of the unexpected or frightening. He will share more stories if asked. 

[(The Player has been warned that magics are not always easy to master. It would be fair to introduce complications from lack of skill if and when Prota gains magic, and have their magic improve with practice.)]

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"Yikes!" I say. "I hope I get something I can control right away. Should I maybe start out on a sledge or something, so if I can't, you can pull me away from the Blue?"

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Prota understood the implied warning, and is expressing alarm and concern. They are asking Glint about sitting or laying on a vehicle that can be dragged away from the Blue in case they lose control of their magic. Their response is primarily concerned with practical precaution rather than reacting to Glint's story. 

[Prota has now explicitly said that they expect Glint to accompany them to the Blue.] 

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"Yikes!" you reply to Glint's story. You ask, "I hope I get something I can control right away. Should I maybe start out on a sledge or something, so if I can't, you can pull me away from the Blue?"

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Step 10

Glint knew Prota wanted to go to the Blue. Prota's question implies they plan to ask Glint to accompany them. This confirms Glint's suspicions that Prota wants to go with him to the Blue. 

Glint is pleased that Prota responded with practical concern rather than excess fear or panic. He considers this evidence that Prota is serious about visiting the Blue, but he will want to test them further. He knows that the randomness of the Blue can be dangerous, and he knows that travel itself is dangerous. 

(Prota's degree of caution reflects the Player's current focus on the practical problem-solving of the journey. The next few prompts should reflect that focus.)

[Glint will allow Prota to bandage his wounds later that evening, to test their level-headedness and medical proficiency.]

Glint finds Prota's suggestion reasonable. He will compliment the idea and offer critique and clarification. [Magics that disable the owner are rare, especially with small sacrifices.] Glint deliberately chose alarming examples. The most common problem is blood loss, and any precaution should not interfere with immediate mundane or magical medical treatment. Glint will also try to confirm Prota's intentions, and ask when they plan to depart for the Blue.

[Resources such as wood and nails are not especially common near the Blue. Bringing a sledge all the way to the Blue, or acquiring one nearby, may be difficult. But it is possible to improvise a simple sledge or travois, and Glint can easily pull one in animal form. Some peddlers near the Blue will sell or rent similar devices to travelers, but showing anyone that you have money or goods to trade can invite robbery.] 

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"Not a bad idea, greenjay," muses Glint, his tone approving. "It's best to travel light to the Blue, though, and rig something when you get there. It's a dangerous road, and long." Glint fixes you with an appraising stare. "You made up your mind, then?"

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None.

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I nod firmly. "I'll practice building things that I could sit on while we rest on the way."

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Prota is signaling determination and willingness to work for their goal. 

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You nod and reply, "I'll practice building things that I could sit on while we rest on the way."

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Step 11

Carpentry is a useful skill for traveling, and Glint will encourage it. 

Prota has had a chance to speak to Glint, ask a few questions, and make their intentions clear. (Prota is not the only one who wants to talk to Glint, so it would be unrealistic to extend this conversation too long. The story can now begin to transition to the evening and making preparations for travel. To do this, and to flesh out the world, a new character may be introduced.) Prota's extended family is moderately large, and Glint is a popular figure when he is around. (Continuing the vague color/gemstone naming convention implied by the names Emerald and Glint, the new character is a cousin named Corun.) 

Prota has confirmed for Glint that they want to travel to the Blue. Glint has suspected for a while, and is willing to help, but worries about the dangers. [Glint will agree for now, but continue to test Prota as they make preparations.] He will excuse himself to greet the other members of the family. (The Player should be offered an opportunity to continue the conversation if they have more to ask. Otherwise, it will progress towards the evening.) 

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Glint nods, his eyes narrowing in thought. "You do that." 

As Glint eyes you speculatively, your younger cousin Corun jogs up, beaming. "Uncle Glint! You made it!" he laughs. "Come on, Emerald, don't hog the old man! Last year you promised us bandit stories, Uncle!" 

Glint chuckles. "That I did. Alright, greenjay, tell you what. You help me change these bandages tonight, and we can continue our talk then. How's that sound?" 

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None. 

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"Sounds like a plan, Uncle Glint," I say, patting Corun on the head.

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Prota agrees to wait until the evening. Prota is affectionate with their cousin, indicating an attitude of indulgent familiarity. 

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You agree, "Sounds like a plan, Uncle Glint," and pat Corun on the head. 

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Step 12

Corun is friendly with Prota, if slightly embarrassed. Glint is friendly with the family as well. He will greet them and share tales of his travels. 

Thus far, interactions with family members have been largely positive. (There is an opportunity to highlight conflict with the family based on Glint's regular absence or Prota's determination to make the dangerous journey to the Blue.) A relative may express concern that Prota may follow in Glint's footsteps. (This gives the Player an opportunity to handle low-stakes conflict and set up future events if the relative is encountered later. However, such conflict will not be a core focus of the story. To briefly introduce this conflict, the Player should be given a brief introduction to the relative and a hint about the nature of the conflict. To further the conflict, the relative should have something useful but nonessential that Prota wants.) 

[Prota's great-aunt Feldspar is known for her Blue-gifted talent for crafting extremely light and durable pottery. Such containers would be useful on the road for food and water storage, and valuable trade goods in a pinch. Feldspar is the sister of Emerald's grandmother on her father's side, part of the extended clan that Glint's sister, Emerald's mother, married into. As one of the few Blue-gifted members of Emerald's clan, she resents Glint's popularity given his wanderlust and loose ties to the community, and fears he will lead others astray.] She and a small group will sit apart from the younger clansfolk, watching with disapproval. Prota is generally familiar with her aunt's dislike of Glint, but does not know what Feldspar is thinking. 

Prota has expressed intent to prepare for their journey. The time of departure has not yet been established, but it is at least a few days away. Time of year matters for travel, but a difference of days does not. 

(Because the plot will take many weeks, it is important to establish the overall astronomy and seasons of this world. Rules should be selected that are simple and easy for the Player to remember, while still respecting any natural laws not explicitly changed.) Locals would be inclined to use major celestial bodies like the sun to determine direction. [To simplify directions, in this world the sun's path is orthogonal to the path of the Blue.] (The presence of a sun and seasons is important to keep the setting familiar to the Player.) [Because this world is a flat plane, its seasons behave differently than those of Earth. The sun's trajectory does not change, nor does the angle of its light on the world's surface.]

(A different reason is needed for seasons to exist. Extending the behavior of the sun, the Blue, and the corresponding cardinal directions, a theme for this world will be mathematical symmetry.) [A possible explanation for the shape and behavior of this world is that it is an artificial plane, created by a powerful being or civilization, with the Blue as a reset or cleanup device, possibly a malfunctioning one. This explanation may be fleshed out further as necessary, or as the Player learns about it.] (Future decisions about how this world works can follow the mathematical symmetry theme). [For reasons as yet unknown to the world's denizens, the sun's intensity fluctuates on a triangular wave cycle, causing seasonal shifts that are identical across the world. The seasons include winter snows that make travel difficult.]

[The year is slightly shorter than Earth years, at exactly 360 days. Because locals lack a spherical planet as a reference, most regard their seasonal shifts as perfectly normal and unremarkable.] Prota would have done research on travel constraints, and knows enough to plan their trip well in advance of winter. [It is currently spring.] Prota has time to finish preparations, tend Glint's wounds, and possibly win over Feldspar before leaving. This can be shared in a future prompt.

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Corun ducks, embarrassed, and Glint chuckles. Shortly after, he is engaged with the rest of the clan, chatting and swapping news. 

That afternoon, and well into the evening, Glint supplies enough tales and gossip to keep the village rumor mill busy for weeks to come. The clan, Corun included, eagerly gathers around for news of the outside, but one contingent sits apart from the rest. Surrounded by a cluster of mostly older relatives, your Great-Aunt Feldspar, one of a few Blue-touched clan members and de facto matriarch of your father's family, observes the proceedings with a sharp frown. Feldspar's dislike of Glint is no secret among the villagers, but her talent for crafting supernaturally light and durable pottery grants her substantial influence. 

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(Prota has been informed of Feldspar's existence and the possible conflict established. For now, the value of Feldspar's pottery for Prota's journey is left implicit and Feldspar's exact motives are left unclear. It will be more fulfilling for the Player to decide to win over Feldspar on their own. Otherwise, Glint will suggest talking to Great-Aunt Feldspar in a later prompt. In either case, the Player may decide whether and how to proceed.) 

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I listen to Glint's stories - they seem like they might contain valuable experience by proxy of the travel conditions I'm about to experience.

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Prota listens to Glint while he talks. Prota is specifically interested in clues about what to expect from the journey to the Blue. 

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You listen to Glint, seeking possible clues about the upcoming journey. 

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Step 13

Glint's storytelling lasts several hours. He brags about his accomplishments and shares news and gossip from nearby towns. The villagers enjoy his stories, but they also find practical value in mundane news such as the state of roads, prices of goods, political events, and movements of other nomadic groups and those with unique magics in the area. Glint travels too lightly to carry letters. Prota is interested in anything relevant to their journey, but will also hear a cross-section of other such news. A small fraction of Glint's clients paid for secrecy, so there will be some stories he does not tell. Finally, some challenges will be wholly mundane: wind, weather, distance, hunger, exposure, wild animals, poisonous plants. 

(The next prompt should provide useful clues to the Player without interrupting the flow of the story.) 

Useful information includes the location and general traits of nearby encampments, specific dangers and dangerous regions, notable figures both legitimate and rogue, and the status of other Blue-gifted individuals and how their magics facilitate travel. (Landmarks on the journey should be numerous enough to offer meaningful choice to the Player, but few enough to avoid overwhelming them. Assume each landmark may occupy a few dozen prompt-action cycles on average, and allow time for the return journey.) [There are roughly eight towns or large nomadic encampments between Prota's clan and the Blue, all with some necessary amount of mobility mandated by the slow but constant advance of the Blue. Depending on travel path, Prota can expect to visit between two and four of them.]

(Magic exists in this world, but most of it is human and does not affect wildlife. Some obstacles should be magical in nature, but most mundane. However, Glint will be more inclined to talk about magical obstacles because of their uniqueness. Obstacles should vary to avoid repetitive scenes and challenge the Player in a variety of ways.) Obstacles can be physical or political, mild or deadly, neutral or actively hostile. (Some obstacles may also tie in to future plot elements or reflect changes to the world as a whole). [Notable terrain features include a grassland corrupted by uncontrolled magic and a swath of countryside burnt by recent fires. The fishing town of Adwell recently experienced a violent revolt resulting in the death of the local ruling family, and is now led by the charismatic revolutionary Sebastine. A ruthless bandit known as Li Voita Nimue, The Grey Walker, has gained notoriety in the south. Grey is behind the disappearance of a clan of foragers, though their involvement is not yet common knowledge.] 

(Because the Player may wish to ask follow-up questions of Glint, the prompt should not force a scene transition just yet. However, to maintain the flow of the story, a subsequent prompt should include a call to action. Since the Player did not immediately express interest in Feldspar, the next logical development is tending Glint's wounds.) 

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Glint's stories largely take place either in one of a handful of towns and encampments between your home and the Blue, or on the roads or trails between them. All the encampments are some degree of temporary, their mobility necessitated by the slow but constant advance of the Blue. Some of Glint's tales are humorous - one story of a client who mistakenly consumed an aperient berry has the villagers laughing for several minutes straight - but most are of strife and challenge. Glint tells of long hard slogs through snow and rain, of a forest reduced to ash by wildfires, and of narrow escape from carnivorous grasses in a land corrupted by uncontrolled magics. He also brings news of the disappearance of a clan of foragers to the south, of the growing notoriety of a bandit that locals call Li Voita Nimue, and of a violent revolt in the fishing town of Adwell, now run by the charismatic revolutionary Sebastine. 

Not all of Glint's talk is of adventure. He also brings news of outlying villages and distant relatives. He travels too lightly to carry letters, but gossip is light as breath. All too soon, the sun is setting. 

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None. 

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I'm really interested in the carnivorous grass - is it hard to tell apart from regular grass at a distance, I wonder? - and I'm curious what Sebastine's rallying incident was; I prod Glint for more on those topics when they come up.

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Prota wants to know more about the carnivorous grass and what triggered the revolt in Adwell. Telling the carnivorous grass apart from regular grass at a distance is likely to involve knowing what it looks like. Prota asks Glint about these topics. 

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During a lull in the tale-telling, you ask Glint what the carnivorous grass looks like and what triggered Sebastine's rebellion. 

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Step 14

Because the Blue is the source of magic in this setting, all magic must stem from humans using Blue-gifted magic. Not all such magic is deliberate or controlled. [Carnivorous grass was created by an uncontrolled plant magic. Because of the nutrients it gains from predation, it grows taller and looks healthier than nonmagical grasses. To attract prey, it appears springy and soft, a good place to sleep. However, it lives in a region where many plants are similarly magical, so its improved health may not be immediately obvious at a glance. It waits for prey to lie down, then slowly envelops them. Magically-strengthened blades of grass pierce the skin, injecting a numbing sedative.] A light sleeper, Glint was able to use his shapeshifting to escape from the grass and rescue his companions. [The grass reacts too slowly to seize prey that manages to pull free. As a skilled woodsman, Glint studied the grass after his escape, so he would be able to identify it in the future.] 

A fishing town needs to be near a river or lake. One possible catalyst for political upheaval is a natural disaster such as a sinkhole. [Unrest in Adwell began when a sinkhole occurred near the river, destroying several buildings and killing dozens, including several guards and the local baron. The baron's son, widely perceived as a cruel and unpopular brat, claimed the sinkhole was caused by seditious townsfolk in Adwell with access to unregistered magics. With the guard weakened by the disaster and the townsfolk angry and overtaxed by the costs of rebuilding, Sebastine, a former plasterer, stepped in and convinced the locals to unseat the new baron, making his claims of sedition ironically come true. Glint is aware of the basics of this story, although embellished by rumor.] 

Glint will share what he knows. 

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At your prodding, Glint elaborates on the story of the carnivorous grass. "Well, that part of the country's got a lot of strange plants about it. The patch of hungry grass we found was tall and healthy for its type - it might've looked out of place in a more mundane setting, but there it just looked cozy. Way I figure it, looking soft and springy was just the plant's way of getting prey to lie down and sleep on it. Then it slowly pokes into you with some kinda numbing poison. If Threllis hadn't forgotten to pee before he lay down, we might've all died in our sleep, nice and quiet-like. As it was, he wakes up with a full bladder, finds a buncha grass stalks stuck finger-width into his skin, and screams bloody murder. That woke me up, and as soon as I figure out what's going on, I go bear to rip free of the grass, then owl so's I can cut the rest loose without maulin' the poor sods. Lucky for us, the grass is only grabby when its prey ain't movin' much." 

On Sebastine: "Seems like it all started when a sinkhole swallowed half the town, including the old baron and a good chunk of his men. Looked to me like the river'd been undermining those buildings for a while, but the baron's son blamed the locals, somethin' somethin' sedition, unauthorized magics, what have you. Most of Adwell thought he was a prick to begin with, but when he ramped up the pressure to pay for rebuilding, that and the weakened guard made it pretty easy for Sebastine to show 'em what sedition really is. Guy sorta came out of nowhere - used to be a plasterer - but Adwell thinks he's the bees' knees." 

Glint's attention is largely occupied by your fellow clansfolk for the rest of the afternoon, but eventually all the tales are told. Most of the clan reluctantly departs to prepare a late dinner, leaving you alone with Glint. "Well, greenjay," your uncle muses, "want to give me a hand with these bandages?" 

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None. 

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"Sure, Uncle Glint," I say, and I work on re-dressing his injuries.

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Prota agrees to help. They will need to remove the bandages and re-wrap Glint's wounds. 

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You say, "Sure, Uncle Glint," and begin re-dressing his wounds. 

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Step 15

Glint's injuries come from a run-in with bandits, several of whom had bows and one of whom could stretch their body to deliver longer-range strikes or attack from unexpected angles. He took a cut to the head and several moderate-to-shallow cuts on his chest, including an arrow which would have been lethal if he were in human form. His larger shapeshifted form reduced the penetration of the attacks. He will also be scarred from previous encounters, including the aforementioned carnivorous grass. Since Prota is at least moderately confident in their medical skills, they will be able to glean some information from the observed injuries. 

Carefully re-dressing Glint's injuries will take some time. It is an opportunity for a more private and serious conversation with Glint about the upcoming journey. 

(Glint will ask why Prota wants to go to the Blue. This will encourage the Player to flesh out Prota's motivations.)

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Unwrapping the bandage on Glint's head reveals a nasty but shallow cut, only partially healed and still oozing slightly. His chest is crisscrossed by old scars and several fresh cuts, including a couple that look to have been inflicted by broad-headed hunting arrows, although they are smaller than a normal entry wound would be. Small puckered scars on his back and left side back up his story about the carnivorous grass.

Glint grits his teeth as you unwrap the bandages, but does not flinch. "Well, greenjay," he asks softly as you work, "as you can see, it's not a safe or easy journey to the Blue. What do you want that's worth the risk?"

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None. 

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"I don't get to pick what magic I get," I say. "So I can't be too attached to anything specific. But I want - more possibilities, I guess."

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Prota expresses a desire for more possibilities. This could refer to more options to achieve their goals, more varied experiences, or some other meaning. 

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"I don't get to pick what magic I get," you reply. "So I can't be too attached to anything specific. But I want - more possibilities, I guess."

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Step 16

Glint approves of Prota recognizing the randomness of magics, but Prota's response is too vague to satisfy Glint that they are committed to the journey. He will press them further.

(If the Player is not interested in exploring Prota's motivations further, that part of the story can be sidelined in favor of practical challenges, or brought up from a different angle later.) Still, Glint will need to hear something that convinces him that Prota is truly committed to the task. A halfhearted effort is dangerous when traveling bluse. Prota may choose to lie, but if so, they must lie convincingly. (The pressure Glint applies should prompt the Player to think harder about Prota's answer.) 

[This world's residents base their cardinal directions on the movement of the Blue. "Gree" refers to the direction away from the Blue, and "bluse" is towards it.]

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"You understand that magic can be fickle," Glint nods. "But it's a big world out gree - lots of possibilities, lots of adventures less dangerous than the edge of existence. Why do you need a magic? What do you want to accomplish that's worth risking your life for?" Under his thick brows, Glint's eyes watch you intently. 

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None. 

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"I guess if I did get to pick, I'd want one of the magics that let people make magic things, that anyone can use. I'd want to travel all around selling them."

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Prota is partially answering Glint's question. Prota gives an example of a magic that they might want, a magic that lets them make permanent magical items. Prota also expressed a desire to use that magic to travel.  

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"I guess if I did get to pick, I'd want one of the magics that let people make magic things, that anyone can use," you reply. "I'd want to travel all around selling them."

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Step 17

It is unclear whether Prota wants to travel for travel's sake or to fulfill another goal, such as distributing magic items, or if it is merely a desire for "more possibilities". Glint's question has only partly been answered. He still does not know why Prota wants to travel in the first place. Glint can express this succinctly as "a what, not a why". He is not yet fully satisfied that Prota is committed to the journey, but he supports his niece and wants a reason to believe in them. 

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"That's a good start, greenjay," nods Glint. "But it's a what, not a why. I want to know why." 

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None. 

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"Well, I'm not sure what you mean by a why. I want things, and I want this thing, and I still want it when I remind myself it's dangerous."

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Prota reiterates that they still want to go to the Blue to obtain a magic, even if it's dangerous. Prota doesn't fully understand what Glint is asking.

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You answer, "Well, I'm not sure what you mean by a why. I want things, and I want this thing, and I still want it when I remind myself it's dangerous."

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Step 18

A possible subtext to Prota's response is that they understand the dangers perfectly well and don't see the need to explain themselves to Glint. Whether or not this subtext was intended, Glint will see it that way. To him, it caches out to a polite "mind your own business." As a relatively solitary person, unused to taking direction from others, he finds this apparent brazenness funny and appreciates Prota's self-confidence. While not fully satisfied that he understands Prota's motivation, Glint is satisfied that Prota's determination is sincere, and will not press Prota further. 

(The Player does not appear to be interested in exploring the deeper motivations of their character at this time. Future plot will focus more heavily on practical problem-solving and challenges external to the character.) 

The next phase of the story is packing and preparation for the journey. (Eliding over some details will streamline the story.) Prota and Glint are competent enough to include basic necessities: portable shelter, food, waterskins, tools, what basic medicinal herbs and ointments they have access to. They will also have some money, a small cart, and a donkey or mule, funded by the family and Prota's own preparatory effort. Glint can pull a cart in shapeshifted form, but it is more useful to have a dedicated draft animal to free Glint for scouting and protection. They will need to forage along the way, and/or purchase additional supplies at the towns between them and the Blue. Because magic items are rare, they do not currently have access to any. 

Prota can add to this list during preparations or by picking up supplies during the journey. In particular, Prota may be able to convince Great-Aunt Feldspar to help. Her magic pottery is an excellent trade good for its weight, and would fetch a good price if sold outside the village, worth a substantial commission to Prota and Glint. [Currently, Feldspar prefers to sell to traveling merchants who pass through the village, since that does not require family to leave on dangerous errands.] Prota would have to convince her to take the risk. Glint will make the suggestion in this conversation; then the story will advance to the morning. 

(The Player will have the opportunity to specify additional preparations if they choose, and/or tackle the side quest of convincing Great-Aunt Feldspar. After that, the journey will begin.) 

In Glint's commentary, or elsewhere in the next prompt, there should be enough background context for the Player to understand Feldspar's relationship with Glint, Prota, and the larger clan.

[Emerald's mother, Glint's sister, is named Beryl, and Emerald's father is Almer. Feldspar is Almer's aunt and the de facto clan head.]

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Glint guffaws, nearly unseating your bandage-work. "Fair enough, greenjay! Fair enough. Well, if you're sure, we'd best get some sleep. Tomorrow we'll prepare for the journey, then we'll get moving day after. 

"By the way," Glint leans closer, lowering his voice, "I noticed your Great-Aunt Feldspar side-eyeing us today. She's never really liked me or your ma Beryl - always wanted your father to marry local, see, and Beryl and I were from a foreign clan. But she'd be good to get on your side, and a good bit more likely to listen to you than to me." 

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None. 

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"Get on my side? For what? She's not coming along," I reply.

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Prota expresses confusion about why they would need Feldspar's support. 

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"Get on my side? For what? She's not coming along," you reply.

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Step 19

Prota does not yet know how Feldspar can help. Glint should explain the basic idea in the next prompt. The primary benefit is obtaining a shipment of Great-Aunt Feldspar's magically light and durable pottery, which is useful for storing supplies, lightening the load for travel, and selling as trade goods in nearby villages. In addition, the influence with the clan could benefit Prota if they ask for help from any clan members during preparations. Such help may include modest supplies or favors that Prota could not otherwise get on their own. Glint will point out that although Prota has amassed some supplies in preparation for the journey, including a cart and mule, their chances are not great without a way to supplement their supplies or make up for unexpected losses. 

Feldspar's help would require a commitment to return the majority of profits from the sale of her pottery, but a commission on the sale would still be helpful to Prota. Glint knows this, and knows that Feldspar usually sells to traveling merchants. (Naming one such merchant will provide the Player with additional background and add depth to the setting. In the same act of exposition, the Player can be told how Feldspar usually sells her pottery.) One such merchant, Gyreson, passes through Prota's village routinely. He sold Prota's father a harvest sickle last year. Gyreson pays Feldspar for her pottery and re-sells it at the larger towns for a tidy profit. Glint knows this, but has not been able to convince Feldspar to risk sending anyone from her family to sell her wares. 

(A more detailed understanding of Feldspar's motivation would help add depth to her character and actions later on. Complex motivations may be more interesting to the Player than simple fear.) Feldspar is cautious, but not cowardly, and has a reason for distrusting outsiders. [Feldspar was not always cautious and insular. She visited the Blue in her youth and sacrificed a leg to gain her magic, but what she saw on her journey frightened her.] 

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"Well, greenjay," explains your uncle, "there's more kinds of help than just mine. I heard you got a cart and mule, and a decent stock of money and supplies for the trip. That's a good start. But you'll be needing every advantage you can get. Stuff breaks, or gets stolen, or you simply run out of food and need to buy more. Between foraging and bartering, what you've got might be barely enough to make it to the Blue and back. But in my experience, barely enough ain't enough. Now, there's more'n one way to make up the difference - plenty of opportunity to use your wits or the work of your hands to earn your keep - but the better your start, the better your chances. 

"As you know, ol' Auntie Feldspar has a clay-magic. Her jars and bowls are lighter 'n' tougher than anything bluse of the Floating Cities. She usually barters 'em to the villagers and sells the excess to traveling merchants - like that fellow Gyreson, you remember him, he comes by every year and he sold your pa that fancy sickle? An' those merchants carry the pottery to the larger towns and re-sell 'em for twice the price. You take a load of that pottery to any town bluse of here, and you'll be able to sell it for a nice bag o' coins for the village and a tidy commission for your journey besides. And those jars are just wonderful for keepin' your supplies safe and your wagon light in the meantime. Trouble is, you've first got to persuade Feldspar to trust you with 'em. 

"I tried tellin' Auntie she could skip the middleman by sendin' someone out to make the sale every now and then, but she wouldn't hear of it. Your Great-Aunt is a...complicated woman. She weren't always so scared of the outside. Once upon a time, she was the only one brave enough to risk the trip - that's how she got her pottery magic, see. Gave up a whole leg for it, she did, an' damned if she didn't just make herself a new one out of magic clay a week later! But she saw somethin' that spooked her good, and now she doesn't want family leavin' the village. Convincing her won't be easy, but it just might be worth your while, especially if you plan to call in any last-minute favors during tomorrow's preparations. She's got a lot of weight in this village, and she can make your work a lot easier - or a lot harder, if it comes to it. Up to you if it's worth the risk, greenjay; but as Auntie never liked your ol' Glint very much, you'd have to do this one by yourself." 

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None. 

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"Oh. I'll talk to her," I nod. "- if we store our stuff in the jars on the way, we'll have to find a way to wash them out before we try to sell them, will that be hard?"

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Prota agrees to talk to Feldspar. Prota also asks how hard it will be to wash food residue out of the jars before selling them. 

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"Oh. I'll talk to her," you nod to Glint. "- if we store our stuff in the jars on the way, we'll have to find a way to wash them out before we try to sell them, will that be hard?"

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Step 20

Prota is correct. [Some pottery may need to be washed before sale. Most common travel supplies will be either fresh water or dry goods, which are easy to clean out of a pot or jar. Fresh and foraged foods, such as berries, fish, or meat, are harder to clean. They can be kept outside the jars, eaten quickly, or dried for more easy storage.] Glint is familiar with all these methods, and Prota may be assumed to have some basic cooking and food prep skills as well. 

Washing more thoroughly requires soap. Serviceable soap can be made from animal fat and wood ash. Prota and Glint are familiar with this simple process. 

This conversation has been long enough for Prota to finish re-dressing Glint's wounds. The next prompt may now move the story into the morning, when preparations can begin and Prota can talk to Feldspar. Alternatively, the player may choose to have the conversation in the evening. The benefit of an evening conversation is more privacy with Feldspar and less pressure from other clan members who expect Feldspar to behave a certain way. The drawback is that it is late, and Feldspar will be tired and impatient. 

[To avoid the steadily-advancing Blue, villagers near the edge must remain at least partly nomadic. Winters are not harsh in this world, but can still be cold enough for snow, requiring moderately insulated shelters. Prota's family sleep in conical woven-grass or fabric structures with wooden frames, similar to a yurt, that can be quickly disassembled and moved when the village migrates gree.] The conversation with Feldspar may take place in the open near a communal fire-pit or breakfast area, or inside Feldspar's own yurt. 

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"Depends on what you put in 'em," shrugs Glint. "Most travel rations are just fresh water and dry goods. One good rinse should do for that. The tricky part is what to do with fresh food we catch or forage on the way. We don't have to use the jars for those, but if we do, I know where to find running water for a more thorough scrubbing. As long as we don't stain 'em with raw meat or berry juice, should be fine. And soap's just the right mix of fat and ash, so we can make it on the road if we need it." Glint pauses to examine your handiwork. The bandages are clean and well-secured. "Good work, and thanks. I think I'll turn in for the night." 

You have finished bandaging Glint, and night is falling. 

To avoid the steadily-advancing Blue, your people are partly nomadic. Your family, Feldspar included, sleep in conical woven-grass or fabric structures with wooden frames, similar to a yurt, that can be quickly disassembled and moved when the village migrates gree. At this stage of evening, Feldspar is likely retiring to bed in a nearby dwelling. You could try to catch her now, away from the judgmental eyes of Feldspar's clan allies, or you could wait until morning, when your Great-Aunt may be more well-rested and receptive, but harder to meet privately. It has been a long day for everyone, but tomorrow will be quite busy. 

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None.

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I go and find Feldspar on her way to bed, intending to assess how tired and cranky she is right now.

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Prota is looking to assess the situation, not yet act. They look for Feldspar in the late evening. That Prota "finds" Feldspar shows the player is assuming a successful action. Finding Feldspar before bed is well within Prota's capability to accomplish, so the action stands. 

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You find Feldspar on her way to bed, watching her for signs of weariness or irritation. 

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Step 21

Because Feldspar was on her way to bed, the next scene occurs near her dwelling. She is influential enough to have a private space. Prota has not yet committed to approaching Feldspar with her request directly, but they cannot easily approach unobserved. The player did not specify how they approach Feldspar. Prota might go directly to their great-aunt's dwelling and wait, or approach after Feldspar retires. If Prota encounters Feldspar on her way to bed, they are most likely waiting near the dwelling. This carries a likelihood of being spotted, especially since Prota is not making an effort to stay hidden. A complication arises: Feldspar notices Prota's presence and confronts them directly. The description of Feldspar's appearance and demeanor should include any obvious signs of weariness or irritation that Prota, a distant but known relative, would actively notice. 

Feldspar is tired and in modest discomfort from age-related afflictions, but has not yet encountered a reason to be acutely irritated. Her temper could rise if Prota says the wrong thing. Her motivations for the coming conversation are complex and include fear fueled by past traumas, a protective instinct towards the family, and a decades-strong expectation of power and respect in the community. If the discussion drags on too long, the desire for rest may overtake her judgment as well. 

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It is near sundown when you set out. You wait a while outside Feldspar's dwelling-place, this being the best way to ensure you meet her alone before bed. As expected, our Great-Aunt arrives in due time, striding only a little stiffly despite her advanced years. When she moves to open the flap of her dwelling, she notices you nearby. 

"Something on your mind, child?" Her voice is brusque but even, and a bit softer than usual. You are standing between your Great-Aunt and rest, but for the moment, she seems more curious than annoyed. 

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None. 

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"Hi, Aunt Feldspar," I say. "I wanted to talk to you about my trip... I know it's not what you would have recommended."

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Prota greets Feldspar and says they want to talk about the upcoming journey. Prota acknowledges Feldspar's displeasure with the trip but has not yet begun to plead their case. 

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"Hi, Aunt Feldspar," you say. "I wanted to talk to you about my trip... I know it's not what you would have recommended."

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Step 22

Prota has captured her Great-Aunt's attention. Feldspar is displeased about the trip in general, but pleasantly surprised that Prota came to talk to her about it. She wonders what purpose Prota might have. 

(Feldspar's response should hint at a longer history between Prota and her Great-Aunt, to flesh out the world.) [Prota has made no secret of their intentions to travel to the Blue, and word has certainly reached Feldspar before this point. She voiced her disapproval to Prota's parents rather than Prota themself, expecting the hierarchy of familial authority to keep the young, would-be traveler in line. Specifically, Feldspar spoke to her nephew Almer. Prota's parents, while pressured, were already out of favor with the family for their unorthodox marriage, and shielded Prota from the worst of the fallout. This is plausibly the first time Prota is addressing their Great-Aunt directly about their plans.]

Not being prone to nicknames, Feldspar uses Prota's given name or a more condescending term "child." She does not yet harbor much respect for Prota. 

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Your Great-Aunt's eyebrows rise in surprise. "Indeed. I had hoped my nephew could talk some sense into you, but it seems I was overly optimistic. Unless you wish to reconsider this foolhardy quest?" 

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None. 

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"There's still time for me to change my mind, but - I don't really plan to. I want magic," I say. "If you have advice on how to be as safe as possible on the journey I'd be grateful for it, though. I don't have my uncle's powers to help me along."

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Prota says they still plan to travel to the Blue. They also ask Feldspar for advice on making the journey safely. They compare their own relative helplessness with Glint's magic. Prota knows they are vulnerable and asks Feldspar for advice to improve their chances. 

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"There's still time for me to change my mind, but - I don't really plan to. I want magic," you reply. "If you have advice on how to be as safe as possible on the journey I'd be grateful for it, though. I don't have my uncle's powers to help me along."

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Step 23

The mention of Glint displeases Feldspar, who strongly dislikes him. Specifically, she fears that Glint sets a bad example for the clan, encouraging people like Prota to risk their lives. She does not, however, want Prota to die, and appreciates being asked for advice rather than favors. 

Any advice Feldspar offers is likely to tie in to her own negative experiences outside the reach of her clan. (Such ties may also feature later in the plot.) [Feldspar has ties to a particularly nasty cult, the Ashbrands, founded by the manipulations of an immortal with powerful magic, currently known as Li Voita Nimue. She was recruited as a youth and manipulated into working for the Ashbrands until she learned of their deeper secrets and fled.] This has led her to cultivate a strong distrust of outsiders as manipulative and dangerous. She grudgingly respects Glint's power, but sees him as more lucky than capable compared to the dangers bluse. 

(Highlighting Feldspar's ceramic false leg in the prompt serves to emphasize her past experience and the constant reminder she carries.)

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Your Great-Aunt frowns, leaning heavily on her ceramic leg. "Your uncle is a reckless fool, and not nearly as capable as he seems to think he is. Don't mistake good luck for the ability to handle real threats. The lands bluse of here are cruel and deadly, strewn with the accumulated refuse of civilization, and its people are not much better. A knife in the back is what the lucky ones get. If you are set on risking your fool head, don't make the mistake of trusting anyone who isn't family." 

Though her words are sharp and unforgiving, you've at least gotten her talking. Your Great-Aunt is not usually this forthcoming about the lands bluse, and you haven't spoken much since you began openly preparing for your journey. 

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Feldspar's attitude has not yet improved, but it also hasn't worsened. She takes a certain vindictive pleasure in warning Prota and is genuinely glad to be listened to. 

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I nod seriously. "I'm hoping not to need to rely on anyone I meet on the way for more than a careful trading arrangement."

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Prota acknowledges the danger and talks about minimizing how much they depend on others. 

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You nod seriously and reply, "I'm hoping not to need to rely on anyone I meet on the way for more than a careful trading arrangement."

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Step 24

Feldspar grudgingly approves of Prota's statement. However, staying independent bluse is not easy. Group travel is generally safer, at minimum to allow for sleeping in shifts to keep watch. There is more to say about travel, and Feldspar is still willing to talk. Her bias leads her to exaggerate or overestimate the risks of travel, but she does have a different perspective than Glint, one less focused on individual travel preparations and more on the arrangement and logistics of groups. In her statement, Feldspar will use a common folk saying that includes the number five. [To locals near the Blue, the number five is supernaturally significant, an omen of ill luck.] Prota knows this, and may even share the superstition. 

Feldspar will also talk about other risks in cities, those particularly salient or memorable to her. Hustlers, brigands, thieves, and generally judgmental or exploitative locals. Finally, she will point out that getting magic isn't the end of the journey. If anything, people with magic are in more danger than those without, not less, because groups like the Ashbrands are always seeking new assets to recruit or coerce into joining. This is an especially difficult topic for Feldspar, and reaching it will cause her to briefly become lost in thought. 

(Mentioning how other factions compete for magics sets up future events, including a possible encounter with the Ashbrands or Li Voita Nimue if Prota chooses a path near their territory.) 

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Your Great-Aunt nods in grudging approval. "That's a start, at least. But keeping to yourself won't be easy. Most bluse travel in caravans for safety, and before you get too far you'll want to join up with one at least to manage nightly watches. But for every group looking to hire guards or escort travelers for coin, there's five more looking for victims to rob." You recognize a common folk saying in Feldspar's last comment. It's probably an exaggeration, but the number five is an ill-luck omen to many. "In cities, you'll need a place to sleep. You'll need to buy food, barter your skills, and avoid the back-alley traps set up specifically to catch unwary travelers. Flash too much coin, and you're a mark. Flash too little, and you're desperate or unlikely to pay.

"And your troubles don't end when you get your precious magic. Far from it. Everyone out there will want a piece of what you'll have, and the only way to get it is to take you. Turn down an offer from the wrong faction, and they might decide they want you anyway. You have no idea what lengths they'll go..." Feldspar trails off, her eyes weary and distant. 

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Feldspar is more sympathetic now, but also growing tired. 

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"I wonder if - some of the jars you make would be good to bring along? They aren't obvious, like money, so I could sell them for you as we went along, and carry less open coin, and bring back the profit after."

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Prota asks her Great-Aunt if they can carry and sell her pottery, echoing Glint's suggestion. Their tone seems tentative. 

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You ask, "I wonder if - some of the jars you make would be good to bring along? They aren't obvious, like money, so I could sell them for you as we went along, and carry less open coin, and bring back the profit after."

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Step 25

Prota has concisely stated the key elements of the plan. Bring some number of pottery items, sell them in towns along the way, and return profit to Feldspar. This is enough information to determine success or failure. Prota has made an above-average but not extreme effort to win their Great-Aunt's trust before asking about the pottery. They located Feldspar when she was alone and did not have to save face in front of her like-minded family members. They approached from a position of deference did not drag the conversation out. They did not do additional research on Feldspar or clan politics, or seek incentives likely to motivate Feldspar in particular. (The player should be rewarded for choosing this path and executing it competently.) A modest success is appropriate. [Unless insulted in the next few steps, Feldspar will agree to send a small selection of pottery for Prota to sell for her.] Because this is the first attempt and Feldspar is not yet fully convinced, only a handful of items will be offered.

Despite her insular mindset, Feldspar is a shrewd trader, and knows the value of selling directly in town. She does not need to ask why Prota selling the pottery is a benefit to herself. Prota has not yet chosen to negotiate for a portion of the profit. (The player may also need to be prompted to remember to ask). A commission is customary, but Feldspar wants to see if Prota will ask for it, so she will not say so outright. Feldspar will ask what Prota gains from this deal, as an oblique way of testing their resolve. Framing of the situation should make the player slightly wary of asking for this commission, but this is a deliberate trap. [If Prota does not ask for the commission, Feldspar will agree to the deal, then chide them for taking the easy way. If Prota does ask, Feldspar will agree and tell them to keep those same wits when bargaining for her.] (In either case, this will serve as a fairly low-stakes lesson for the player that their choices have realistic outcomes). 

(Dramatic tension can be created by making Feldspar's reaction uncertain at first.) It may seem to Prota at first that they have overstepped their bounds. 

(It would be helpful to give the player an idea of how their actions influenced Feldspar, and hint at what they may have missed.) Feldspar is glad to conclude this business quickly, and does in fact want Prota to survive the journey. She is, however, reluctant to take a significant risk on a journey she sees as unwise and dangerous, and she would look foolish in the eyes of her family if she lost much on an endeavor she previously opposed. Prota has avoided making a direct challenge to Feldspar's authority, which helps. Prota themself can realize the political implications, while Feldspar will express her appreciation of the swift conclusion out loud. 

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Your Great-Aunt frowns, lips pursed into a thin line. Your stomach sinks. Did you go too far? 

After a tense few moments of thought, Feldspar nods. "Straight to the point, I see," she muses, a hint of approval in her tone. "I suppose it is not a terrible idea. I can offer you a small selection of my creations. Jars, bowls, an urn or two, perhaps a half-dozen in total." Less than you might hope for - a wagon can hold many dozens of such wares - but still a significant boon. Your Great-Aunt's eyes are distant and calculating. It occurs to you that she, too, is taking a risk here. If she were to lose a significant portion of her wares on a journey that she herself had publicly opposed, it would cost her significant standing in the eyes of her like-minded kinfolk. Wisely, you chose to confront her away from their judgmental gaze, but word spreads fast in small clans like yours. 

"I wonder, though," your Great-Aunt inquires, "what you expect to gain from this?"

Feldspar's sharp gaze is unsettling. From your conversation with Glint, you know that a portion of the sale profit as commission is common in deals like these. But the use of the pottery is itself a win; is it wise to press the issue over a handful of coin...? 

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None. 

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"I know if I were just going on a trip to sell the pottery I'd take part of the proceeds," I say. "But my trip is for something else, and if that would be a bridge too far, I'd forego it. Using the pottery on the way and having some liquid cash on hand while we travel would be enough to make it well worthwhile for me."

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Prota says they would accept the pottery without a commission. They are not outright refusing one, but they are leaving the choice up to Feldspar. 

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"I know if I were just going on a trip to sell the pottery I'd take part of the proceeds," you respond. "But my trip is for something else, and if that would be a bridge too far, I'd forego it. Using the pottery on the way and having some liquid cash on hand while we travel would be enough to make it well worthwhile for me."

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Step 26

Prota is leaving the decision about a commission to Feldspar. Optimistically, they are deferring to Feldspar's greater experience. Pessimistically, they are nervous about pushing their luck. Either way, from Feldspar's perspective, they need to learn to negotiate more confidently. She will name a price for the pottery that is slightly high for selling it in town, but that Prota might be able to improve upon with skilled haggling or by finding the right buyer. (The exact amount is not relevant to the plot, and naming it could distract the player with needless bookkeeping.) 

Prota has not yet selected which pottery they want to take. This can be handled in the next prompt as well. Broadly speaking, types of pottery available to a migratory low-technology town will be limited. Because of the difficulty in setting up a permanent high-temperature kiln, most available pottery is earthenware, fired at low temperatures. High-temperature stoneware and porcelain are expensive and hard to find this far bluse. However, Feldspar can enhance her wares with magic, making them superior in some ways to even high-quality porcelain. Most notably, they are less prone to shattering. Possible options that could work well for Prota include large jars, pots, and urns for storing food or water, durable bakeware, and smaller but more carefully-crafted items such as teapots, cups, bowls, and plates that would fetch a high price if sold to the right buyer. 

The prompt should make explicit how many items the player can choose. Matching sets can be chosen, and should count as two or three items. 

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"Very well then." Your Great-Aunt regards you with some disappointment. "I hope, child, that you will negotiate with more confidence when you are selling my wares to the gouging roustabouts bluse of here. They will leap at any opportunity to cheat you of your due. Offer a merchant an excuse to pay you less than an item is worth, and they will gladly oblige." 

With that said, Feldspar leads you inside her dwelling. A sizeable array of pottery, organized by size and type, sits to one side. Several items catch your eye. There are large containers for holding water or dry goods: tall, spindly vases and urns; squat brown pots; jars with long handles on either side. Beside them are a couple of Feldspar's baking pans, which you know to be unusually good at distributing heat in an oven or firepit respectively. Finally, there are smaller goods, prettier and more finely crafted than the rest. A set of matching plates and bowls, a teapot and cups, even a single tiny but exquisitely detailed sugar jar, whose design mimics a brightly-painted Orlake canoe. The smaller goods would be less useful on the road, except perhaps for storing herbs or spices, and you would need to find a wealthy buyer with the right tastes, but if you did, they would sell quite well. All these items, you know, are considerably more durable than most anything else that can be made with ordinary clay. 

Feldspar names a price for each, indicating the profit she expects to make on their sale. Prices for goods can vary between towns. Feldspar's prices are a bit on the high end, but not the highest the pottery could sell for, according to Glint. You might still turn a slight profit on this endeavor, if you manage to improve upon Feldspar's stated prices. You can choose any six items (or three and one matching set) to sell on behalf of your Great-Aunt. 

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[Orlake is a town that makes canoes.]

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I look over all the pottery thoughtfully, and then pick two large water jugs, an urn suitable for packing dry food, and the set of plates and bowls.

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[Prota chose an urn, two large jugs, and the set of plates and bowls. Prota plans to put water in the jugs and dry food in the urn.] 

The player's selection matches the allowed limit. 

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After examining your options for a few minutes, you make your choice. Two large jugs that can hold a good quantity of water, an urn to store dry food, and the plates and bowls. 

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Step 27

Prota does not need to take the items now, since it's near bedtime and most are heavy. They can pick up the items with Glint in the morning. Feldspar will ask them to be discreet, since openly supporting Prota would cause trouble for her. 

Feldspar has some parting advice for Prota. She still doesn't trust them to haggle properly. 

The next prompt should proceed into the morning and elide over the less interesting details of preparation. It should provide a rough inventory of what Prota and Glint are setting out with. It includes a small cart and donkey, since it would be hard to carry all the supplies otherwise. In an emergency Glint can transform and pull the cart, but doing so interferes with his job as scout and guardian. (Giving the donkey a name, personality, and history will add depth to the world and allow for interesting interactions on the road later.) Glint still needs to finish recovering, which will take a few days even though he heals quickly. 

[Items Prota and Glint have for the trip: a small two-wheeled cart. A grey donkey named Beldry. A modest sum of coin. Enough non-perishable supplies to make it to the first two towns. Feldspar's pottery, containing most of the water and food. A basic tent and bedrolls. Other basic travel and cooking tools. A fishing net. Basic medicinal herbs, poultices, and bandages.] Prota bought Beldry at a discount from an irate third cousin, who was having trouble getting him to work. [Beldry is intelligent for a donkey, but stubborn, with a scraggly mane.] 

The prompt can offer a few choices to the player to further prepare, or leave the options open-ended. Choices can be meaningful but also constrain the player, and they have been offered several narrow choices in the last few prompts, so a final open-ended opportunity seems more appropriate. Prota already packed in an earlier player action, so the only preparations that must be made involve moving supplies into Feldspar's pottery. 

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"Very well," agrees your Great-Aunt. "You may come and collect them tomorrow, around midmorning. And for sun's sake, be discreet about it." Her voice softens. "Remember, know what you've got and what it's worth. If someone tries to haggle you down further, you may them you're very sorry, but your client would be simply furious if you accepted a lower price for her goods. It's an old trick, but it works wonders." Is that a hint of a smile? "And now, Emerald, I believe it is past my bedtime." 

After a good night's sleep, you have a bit of time left. Glint will likely need a few days at minimum to recover from his wounds, meaning you have some time left to prepare. As long as you set out in time to avoid the winter snows, a few days' delay should not impede your plans, but there's always more to do. You have most of the supplies you need for the journey: a modest sum of coin you've saved, enough non-perishable supplies to make it to the first two towns along any route, Feldspar's pottery, a basic tent and bedrolls, some simple travel and cooking tools, and your fishing net and medical supplies.

To help carry all this, you have a small two-wheeled cart, pulled by a grey donkey named Beldry. You bought Beldry a few weeks ago at a discount from a third cousin who claimed the animal was too dumb to work. It took you a bit to figure it out, but you know now that Beldry is plenty smart, just stubborn. Getting him moving takes a good bit more carrot than stick. (Your cousin, on the other hand, has a lot to learn about animals.) 

It doesn't take long to move food and water to Feldspar's containers and make room for them on the cart, leaving you with a couple days before Glint is ready to go, for any last-minute preparations or simple goodbyes. 

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None. 

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I practice living out of my pack, to see if it's missing anything or badly organized. I make sure Beldry is used to the cart, and can still pull it with the expected load even up a grade. I study the best available map.

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[Prota has practiced living from their pack and is familiar with the local map. Beldry has some experience pulling the cart.]

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You live out of your pack for a couple days, and move some things around so they're easier to reach. You hitch Beldry to the cart and practice on some flat and hilly terrain. You review a map of the region between your town and the Blue. 

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Step 28

First, summarize the results of Prota's final preparations. Pack and cart-pulling practice are successful. Because everyone migrates periodically, local maps are good at roads and terrain but bad at locating settlements. [Prota knows the direction and approximate distance to any given settlement, but not its exact location.] 

["Rise" is the direction of sunrise, and "set" is the direction of sunset. Ordinal directions, 45 degrees from the cardinal directions, are blurise, bluset, greerise, and greeset.] 

Next, Prota and Glint begin their journey. (Setting several crossroads along the path to the Blue will let the player make interesting and meaningful choices.) A rough sketch of the available paths is needed. The basic layout consists of three options. By turning left at the first crossroad and right at the second, Prota can connect with the most well-traveled road in this region, Utannic Road. According to the map, Utannic should pass through four settlements, including Adwell. Turning left twice puts Prota on Thimbel's Trail, a winding path through the mountains in the direction of "rise". Thimbel only connects with two established groups of people, and it traverses wild and tricky terrain, but there are fewer bandits and better forage. Turning right twice leads in the direction of "set" and the Llerwood Way, which passes through a large forest and includes crossroads that allow linking back with Utannic, and which includes the option to travel by river. 

["Settlements" along Thimbel's Trail are even more mobile than most, and the first, the Scragswallow Band, may be close to leaving the mountains by now. Scragswallow hunts and traps in the mountains, and one of their members is rumored to enhance fruit-bearing trees and bushes somehow. Whether for that reason or some other, Thimbel's Trail usually has decent forage, and the merchant-warriors of Clan Wellspring are rumored to have turned into the mountains to take advantage of this fact.] The mountain-dwellers tend to be a bit territorial, but they rarely trouble pilgrims heading bluse; you never know who might pass this way again, vengeful and wielding powerful magics.

[Utannic Road leads first to the last known camp of Clan Pratchett, friendly but eccentric shepherds who are on good terms with Prota's clan. Then it crosses the Crane River at Adwell, the politically troubled fishing village. Beyond are the twin settlements of Greward and Bluward, which share a border on the magically fruitful Wellspring Oasis. Each town controls access to the Oasis on their side, and both take great pride in selling its bounty to travelers for suitably extortionate prices. The advancing Blue has encouraged both towns to abandon their previous non-exploitation agreement and take what they can from the Oasis in preparation for departure, and prices are lower than usual...for now.] 

[The first settlement on Llerwood is Orlake, which has stayed on its namesake body of water for several years, and thus contains more greefolk than many younger settlements. They are loathe to leave their fertile fishing spot, but the Blue moves ever onward, and this will be the last year they can delay moving. Even now, some settlers have reluctantly packed up and set out gree, shrinking the town's population and resources. Its residents tend to seek sources of water when they can, and have some experience with fishing vessels. The Crane River extends rise of Orlake into the mountains, and the Renplume sweeps bluse and set before reaching the Blue. Travelers used to rent or purchase boats from Orlake to take along the Renplume, but the river is drying up as its headwaters are swallowed by the wall, and only small vessels can navigate it now.]

[From Orlake, one can also navigate the Crane River to Adwell, take the rise road to Greward, or continue "bluset" towards the dense forests of the Llerwood. Formerly a popular migration path due to Llerwood's superior hunt and forage, this path has begun to see threats from the bandit Li Voita Nimue, shifting travel to the already well-traveled Utannic. It is also possible to take either the Crane River or the Moon Road set from Adwell to connect with Orlake or the Llerwood respectively.] 

Most of the above information can be relayed directly to the Player via Prota's study of the local map. There are some things the Player will not know. [The Scragswallow magic enhances fruiting plants by watering them with blood, and are always short on supply. Clan Wellspring has fallen on hard times, and will be tempted to rob Prota if they see an opportunity. The Utannic Road is muddy and rutted and will cause unexpected delays. Greward and Bluward are at odds over the Oasis, and prices have risen in both cities. Orlake continues to decline, and the Llerwood has suffered grievous harm from the magic of Li Voita Nimue.] ([Other possibilities for benefit or challenge include a third migratory group on Thimbel's Trail, political entanglements in Adwell, a meeting with the traveling merchant Gyreson, an encounter with Li Voita Nimue, an encounter with a wealthy greefolk pilgrim, or a water passage from Orlake.]) 

Glint thinks he can spot and steer clear of any trouble in the Llerwood. He favors that or Thimbel's Trail because he is familiar with the country but distrusts large groups of people. Glint would in fact be more useful on these paths, but Prota might find more benefits on the Utannic. Glint is unaware of Clan Wellspring's changes or the severe damage in Llerwood. 

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Because everyone periodically migrates gree, local maps tend to be better at terrain than camps, but there are some settlements that haven't moved in a while. The map key includes the four cardinal directions - bluse, gree, rise, and set - and their ordinals - blurise, bluset, greerise, and greeset. There are four main paths towards the Blue from your current location: rise along Thimbel's Trail, straight through the well-traveled Utannic Road, set to the Llerwood Way through Orlake, or farther set along the Renplume River from Orlake. 

Thimbel's Trail is a winding, narrow path through the mountains - treacherous, but relatively safe from bandits. "Settlements" along Thimbel's Trail are even more mobile than most, and the first, the Scragswallow Band, may be close to leaving the mountains by now. Scragswallow hunts and traps in the mountains, and one of their members is rumored to enhance fruit-bearing trees and bushes somehow. Whether for that reason or some other, Thimbel's Trail usually has decent forage, and the merchant-warriors of Clan Wellspring are rumored to have turned into the mountains to take advantage of this fact. The mountain-dwellers tend to be a bit territorial, but they rarely trouble pilgrims heading bluse; you never know who might pass this way again, vengeful and wielding powerful magics.

Utannic Road leads first to the last known camp of Clan Pratchett, friendly but eccentric shepherds who are on good terms with your own family. Then it crosses the Crane River at Adwell, the politically troubled fishing village. Beyond are the twin settlements of Greward and Bluward, which share a border on the magically fruitful Wellspring Oasis. Each town controls access to the Oasis on their side, and both take great pride in selling its bounty to travelers for suitably extortionate prices. The advancing Blue has encouraged both towns to abandon their previous non-exploitation agreement and take what they can from the Oasis in preparation for departure, and prices are lower than usual...or at least, so you've heard. 

The Llerwood Way is named for the lush, extensive forest that spans its bluseward stretch. However, its offshoots link up with the Utannic a couple times before that. The first settlement on Llerwood is Orlake, which has stayed on its namesake body of water for several years, and thus contains more greefolk than many younger settlements. They are loathe to leave their fertile fishing spot, but the Blue moves ever onward, and this will be the last year they can delay moving. Even now, some settlers have reluctantly packed up and set out gree, shrinking the town's population and resources. Its residents tend to seek sources of water when they can, and have some experience with fishing vessels. The Crane River extends rise of Orlake into the mountains, and the Renplume sweeps bluse and set before reaching the Blue. Travelers used to rent or purchase boats from Orlake to take along the Renplume, but the river is drying up as its headwaters are swallowed by the wall, and only small vessels can navigate it now. 

From Orlake, one can navigate the Crane River to Adwell, take the rise road to Greward, or continue "bluset" towards the dense forests of the Llerwood. Formerly a popular migration path due to Llerwood's superior hunt and forage, this path has begun to see threats from the bandit Li Voita Nimue, shifting travel to the already well-traveled Utannic. From Adwell, it is also possible to take the Crane River set to Orlake, or the Moon Road to the Llerwood. 

You'll want to pick a direction before setting out. From your clan's campground, turning left at the first crossroad and right at the second would put you on the Utannic Road. Turning left twice would put you on Thimbel's Trail. Turning right twice puts you on the Llerwood Way, towards Orlake. 

Glint thinks he can spot and steer clear of any trouble in the Llerwood, and actually recommends it. "Thimbel's is a bit out of our way, and will take nearly twice as long to traverse as the Utannic would. The Llerwood is a bit longer than Utannic but more open, and the crowds on the Utannic will draw predators like a herd of sheep draws wolves." Of course, Glint has never been fond of large groups of strangers, and may be exaggerating the threat of bandits in such a well-traveled area. 

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None.

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"I think I'd like to try the Utannic Road. We need buyers to move the pottery, and we can juke over to Llerwood if it looks riskier than expected," I say.

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[Prota plans to take the Utannic Road for now.] 

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You tell Glint, "I think I'd like to try the Utannic Road. We need buyers to move the pottery, and we can juke over to Llerwood if it looks riskier than expected." 

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Step 29

Glint is slightly disappointed, but defers to Prota since it is their journey. The next prompt should check that the Player is ready to leave. The prompt after that will likely describe the first impressions of the Utannic. 

Glint will make his counterpoints. Clans on Thimbel's Trail have some use for pottery as well, and they might not have the chance to head to Llerwood if they are ambushed by bandits first. 

(A possible twist for later in the story: Prota's cousin Corun looks up to them, and Prota's journey inspires him to set out as well. But he is underage and less prepared. Plausibly, Prota could encounter him on the way back from the Blue.) [Prota's cousin Corun is inspired to contemplate a journey to the Blue.] (If this does happen, it should have more foreshadowing. Corun should appear in an upcoming post, and Prota should have an opportunity to influence his decision). [Corun has been paying attention to Prota's preparations and is excited by the prospect of the trip. He will appear before Prota leaves.]

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Glint frowns thoughtfully. "Well, the mountain clans on Thimbel have as much use for good containers as the next fellow, but there's no guarantee they'll buy...I ought to warn you, though, that with well-prepared bandits we might not get a second chance to turn to Llerwood." He rolls his shoulders and cricks his neck. "But it's your journey and your call, greenjay. Ready to say your goodbyes?" 

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None. 

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"I am," I say, more confidently than I feel.

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Prota is projecting confidence, but feels at least a bit uncertain. 

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Step 30

The next prompt sets the scene of departure, including tearful farewells, the cart and donkey, and a surprise visit from Corun. (Corun may serve both as a stand-in for Prota's larger, more complex family who are of less interest to the plot, and as a possible recurring character later.) He has been watching Prota's preparations with growing excitement and no small amount of jealousy. His older cousin is going off to get magic powers and he can't have them yet, maybe ever. Like Feldspar, Corun's parents are more traditional than Prota's and there's no guarantee they will allow him to go, let alone help him the way Prota has been helped. They are not happy about Prota's influence on him, or his idolization of "that vagabond" Glint. Corun is old enough to want to go his own way. [Corun is 16 years old.] 

(Where possible, the prompt should recognize and reward the Player's foresight, even in small ways.) Beldry is moderately familiar with the cart, thanks to Prota. 

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You say farewell to your family - with equal parts tears and blessings from your parents - and finish loading up the cart. Beldry, now familiar with the setup thanks to your patient practice, merely turns a curious eye on the proceedings. As you are preparing to set out, a scrawny figure darts out from behind a tent to tackle you in a hug. 

"Go get a cool magic from the Blue, okay Emerald?" says your cousin Corun, voice cracking slightly. "I wish I could go with you." You had previously caught a few glimpses of Corun hanging around while you packed, but he usually got caught and scolded for it. His parents are squarely in Feldspar's faction, and whether they disapprove more of your journey or the tales of "that vagabond Glint" is an open question. 

Glint hides a smile. 

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None. 

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"I will do my very best to get cool magic," I tell Corun solemnly. "In a few years if you still want to we can talk about it then, all right? Assuming I come back. If I don't, assume it's certain death out there, as anything would have to be very tough and scary to take me down, like a giant monster with six heads, and flee gree as fast as your legs can carry you."

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Prota is subtly hinting that Corun should wait a few years. Then, Prota's statements become implausible. Prota is most likely teasing Corun. 

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"I will do my very best to get cool magic," you say. "In a few years if you still want to we can talk about it then, all right? Assuming I come back. If I don't, assume it's certain death out there, as anything would have to be very tough and scary to take me down, like a giant monster with six heads, and flee gree as fast as your legs can carry you."

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Step 31

Glint is amused by Prota's exaggeration, but stays out of the conversation. Corun will feel scared at first by the suggestion that Prota might die, then he will pick up on the teasing and respond in mock outrage. This will not completely succeed in distracting him from Prota's suggestion that he wait a few years.

Corun is irritated by having to wait, and by the opposition he's facing. His thoughts run something like: Why, just last week he killed a wild dog that was threatening the flock, by himself! He can handle himself. And six-headed monsters aren't real anyway...right? [Corun's family are shepherds.] 

Shepherding and other herding professions are useful to migratory populations, who often cannot rely on farming one location for extended periods. Greefolk sometimes leave behind useful land, but herds are more mobile and reliable, provided they can be moved swiftly enough and find good pasture that hasn't already been stripped. [Herding and fishing are common sources of food in this world, as are fast and sometimes destructive methods of farming or clearing land.] 

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Corun disengages the hug as you speak, and gasps at "certain death". Then he squints at you as you continue. "You're making fun of me!" he accuses, giving you a good-natured punch to the shoulder. "I'll have you know I can handle myself! Last week I killed a wild dog that was threating the flock, all by myself!" He mimes slinging a stone with deadly accuracy. "Pow!"

Glint snorts in wry amusement. 

Corun looks at the ground. "It's not fair! You've been planning for years now, but Mom and Dad get mad if I even talk about going." 

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None. 

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"Well, they can't get mad at you if you just think about it, and eventually work your way up from dogs with one head to dogs with six," I reply. "But at least wait for me to come back, all right? Maybe I will come back with six heads of my own and protect you all the way there."

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Prota asks Corun to wait, trying to soften the blow. 

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"Well, they can't get mad at you if you just think about it, and eventually work your way up from dogs with one head to dogs with six," you reply. "But at least wait for me to come back, all right? Maybe I will come back with six heads of my own and protect you all the way there."

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Step 32

Corun is amused by the thought of Prota with six heads, and will say so, adding some teasing of his own. More to the point, Prota is trying to support Corun without completely discouraging him. While a few words are rarely enough to sway a determined youth, Prota's words will leave a lasting impression on Corun. [Corun will wait for Prota to return before he tries to leave, but he will grow impatient if they take longer than expected.] 

The next step involves following a local trail to link up with the Utannic at a crossroads. [It is several days' journey to the Utannic. It is a week or more from there to the first major stop, the camp of Clan Pratchett.] There are some known campsites along the way, and some decent but not commonly used stopping points off the main trail. (Exact travel times would require extensive calculations to accurately align with the slow walking pace of the advancing Blue, so exact distances can be elided in the story. The journey should be long enough to feel like a major pilgrimage, but short enough to be plausible and worth the investment.) [The trip is expected to take several months one-way.] This world might not use weeks or months as familiar time intervals. Weeks are a historical artifact, and months are loosely based on phases of the moon. [This world has no moon.] (Introducing new units of measure should be done with care. Too many can be confusing and hard to track. Ideally the units should feel intuitive to the Player as well as plausible for a migratory, herding-based society.) Seasons are a familiar measure of time, albeit an inexact one. Based on the existing 360-day year, a season in this world would be 90 days. (Continuing the theme of mathematical symmetry, a word like "degrees" might be used for days, but such terms may not organically arise among the local population. However, it would be natural to divide a season into nine "tendays", and/or two 45-day half-seasons.) [Locals sometimes count time in "tendays" or "half-seasons". A season is 90 days long.] Prota would know the journey will take about two seasons in total. 

Prota's ability to reach the Blue in approximately 90 days of travel by foot implies that the Blue might arrive at Prota's camp in less than a year, and would be even closer to other towns. How close? Assume an average travel pace of 2 miles per hour bluse, to account for delays and nonlinear roads. Assume 8 hours of walking per day, also conservative. 16 miles per day over 90 days is 1440 miles. If the Blue travels at 1 mile per hour, assuming 24-hour days, this distance takes 60 days to cross. (Some amount of time pressure is desirable, but this is too fast. The advancement rate of the Blue has never been formally specified, and can be adjusted to meet the needs of the world and plot. A Blue that advances a tenth of a mile per hour will cross the gap to Prota's camp in 600 days, or just under two years. This is closer to the narratively desired pressure being placed on the towns and camps between Prota and the Blue.) [The Blue advances at approximately 0.1 miles per hour, in Earth units.] [Pastures and other resources get used up and detritus of civilization accumulates the farther behind one is. Competition, poverty, and desperation become fiercer near the edge of existence. Most groups don't want to live too close to the Blue. This desire is balanced by the desire for access to magics.] (Other implications of the slower advancing Blue on greefolk and others can be explored later in the story.)

The prompt will include Corun's response and an encouraging comment from Glint. It will remain open-ended in case there is something else the Player wants to do or say, then move on to the next step, the beginning of the journey. 

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Corun snorts. "My cousin, the six-headed magic monster." He pauses to ponder this for a moment. "So, pretty much the same as usual, then." Corun grins at you, but you can tell he's still thinking about what you said. "Okay, cos, I'll wait." 

"And practice that sling arm," Glint adds, winking. "Never know when you might need it." 

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None. 

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I hug Corun goodbye, and hug everyone else goodbye, and set out.

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Prota is saying their goodbyes. (The Player ready to move on to the next stage of the narrative.)

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You say your final farewells, hug your family one last time, and nudge Beldry into a modest but steady walk. And you take your first deliberate step in a long journey toward the Edge of the World, the wall that eats all things. 

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Step 33

[The Blue is sometimes called the Edge of the World, or the wall that eats all things.] 

The journey will start off relatively uneventful. The trail that connects with Utannic is relatively less traveled. The initial journey may be somewhat familiar to Prota, since their clan will have passed through this area while migrating gree. [Clan Pratchett is camped in a region that Prota's clan formerly used, the grass having regrown enough for pasturage.] As they get farther bluse, only major landmarks will remain unchanged, and they will pass through wholly unfamiliar territory, since Prota's clan tended to avoid camping too close to large groups. [Places like Adwell and the twin towns have been occupied for several years, and were passed by Prota's clan years before.] 

Emphasize the familiar at first. Known campgrounds and landmarks. The terrain here is hilly since they are near mountains, but not impassably so; it is ground chosen to be suitable for shepherds and for easy passage gree. Glint will scout as a bird or wolf. When he isn't scouting, he will teach some advanced survival skills. The prompt will also note one way that following after greefolk makes life harder for middlefolk. They sometimes have to contend with overgrazed areas. 

At camp, Prota can still just barely see Balding Hill in the distance; their family's camp is just on the other side. (It is a bit too soon to end the first day on the road. This can be mentioned in a later post. First, allow the player a chance to react to the description of the routine and Glint's tutoring.)

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At first, your path takes you through familiar territory, only recently traversed by your clan in the last migration gree. You know where to find decent campgrounds. The terrain hereabouts is rolling hills with a few streams and valleys. Decent pasture, though barely recovered from overgrazing by previous greefolk. 

Glint makes good use of the time. Periodically, he launches himself into the air as an agile mockingbird, shifting to a keen-eyed hawk mid-flight, and disappears for half an hour to scout the terrain. Sometimes, well away from Beldry, he shifts to the form of a shaggy, black-furred wolf and sniffs about. When he's not scouting, he tutors and tests you on your survival skills. 

"See that plume of smoke in the distance? Is that a campfire or wildfire?" (Campfire; it rained recently, and the smoke is too thin and white to be local brush). 

"If you were thirsty, could you drink the juice from this plant's stem? What would happen if you did?" (You would hallucinate and maybe die). 

"If you needed medicine, what could you get from this copse of trees?" (Quite a lot, it turns out, if you include the vines and fungi at the base of the trees). 

"Could you feed Beldry this grass variant in a pinch?" (You could try, but he wouldn't eat it; it's not good for him and he knows that instinctively). 

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[Some grasses are not healthy for Beldry.]

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I listen attentively to what Glint has to teach me, and when he's scouting I keep an eye out for things we might want to have for dinner and good places to stop for Beldry to graze. I ask if we should visit the campfire, but expect the answer is no.

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Prota listens and practices noticing good forage for humans and for Beldry. 

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You absorb Glint's tutelage, and while he's away, you keep an eye out for good spots to graze or forage. When Glint identifies the campfire, you ask if you should pay a visit. 

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Step 34

[Prota is getting better at foraging and survival.] Prota should spot a few decent forage options and a few red herrings. (Establishing basic practices like forage now will let the story assume and elide over such details in future prompts, except when it is conducive to the plot to mention them again.) The prompt should also mention water. Fresh water can come from streams, springs, small lakes or ponds, or rainfall, but none of these are reliable or guaranteed sources, and some carry risk of disease. 

Glint recommends against visiting the campsite. There is no particular reason to seek other travelers at this point, and they might meet up anyway along the road if they are going in opposite directions. 

{The next steps at this point are underdetermined. More thought is needed to decide where to go from here.} Proceed quickly through the trail linking up with the Utannic, or stage an early encounter to challenge the Player? In-universe, the trail they are on is not well-traveled. There might be wild animals and there will be a handful of travelers moving gree. The occasional traveling merchant is not enough to sustain a bandit population, even one supplemented by hunting. Prota's clan stripped the immediate environs of forage when they passed through, but some new growth will be present. Chance encounters are possible but unlikely to pose a substantial threat. A Llerwood animal or small pack afflicted by Li Voita Nimue's magic might have made it this far gree, avoiding travelers on the Utannic. [Li Voita Nimue can animate dead organic matter and exert some amount of control over it. Their magic is harmful to living things and at least mildly contagious. Living things that near an afflicted plant or creature are slowly weakened in proportion to the amount and proximity of afflicted matter. A large enough density of afflicted plants or animals can kill a living thing and afflict it in turn.] (Encountering an afflicted Llerwood animal would foreshadow possible future encounters. Li Voita Nimue is a possible antagonist for the plot, though the Player may avoid engaging them directly.) 

The next prompt can cover the next few days. If the Player does not wish to engage with passerby or otherwise act during that time, the following prompt can introduce an afflicted animal. 

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Your clan's recent passage through this area stripped it of most useful forage, but there is some new growth and well-camouflaged sustenance to be found, as long as you avoid eating the wrong thing. You notice some bushes bearing bright orange berries, but wonder why they haven't been picked yet. Later, Glint (giving you an approving nod) confirms that they are poisonous. He directs you to look for certain squat, broad-leafed plants with thorny stems, and after a few hours you spot one. You carefully dig it up and are rewarded with a thick, knotted tuber that Glint says can be boiled to make decent soup, or chopped and fed to Beldry. You spot a few more before making camp the first night. Between your efforts and Glint's experience, you are able to avoid drawing down your supplies for now. 

Clean water is something of a challenge, though you have enough in your containers to last a week or two. Travelers heading gree do not always take care to avoid polluting waterways in their path, and any stagnant water is suspect. You know how to collect rainwater and to filter and boil other sources. You know you'll pass a few small streams on the way to the Utannic, enough to keep your stores up - thankfully those don't run out as easily as forage does. The Utannic itself might be a bit more hit or miss before you reach the river. 

Glint doesn't seem interested in visiting campfires - the first one you notice at night is a considerable distance away. You meet its likely owner the next morning, a small caravan heading gree. You pass a handful more such travelers in the next few days, after turning towards the Utannic at the first crossroads. People are always migrating gree, but this is a few more than you expected before reaching the main road. 

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[Prota, Glint, and Beldry are currently subsisting mostly on forage.] 

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I ask Glint if we need to be especially wary due to the unexpected volume of travelers moving gree. Is this likely to mean that water is harder to come by than anticipated, maybe, as the blue absorbs water sources?

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Prota has two concerns: the unusual number of travelers, and the availability of water. They are related but different questions. 

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You ask Glint if the increased traffic is a concern, particularly for water sources. You mention the Blue's effect on the water supply. 

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Step 35

If the Blue simply vanished all matter it came in contact with, there would be a huge suction and constant bluse wind from the destruction of air, and any body of water that touched the Blue would drain quickly. (This is not a desired feature of the world. A constant bluse wind might be an interesting feature, but it has not been established and should not be sprung upon the Player. Also, even an infinite plane world might need to get more air from somewhere. Water is different; rivers flowing into the Blue might plausibly dry up quickly without otherwise making drastic changes to the world.) Something else must be preventing the Blue from destroying air. That something is pressure. [The boundary of the Blue has a texture and surface tension akin to gelatin. It "pushes" against matter that contacts it. This tension-induced back-pressure is enough to prevent air from flowing freely past the boundary. Water does drain into it, but slowly.] If the surface tension increased with pressure applied, solid objects could not be pushed into the Blue, so it must be a constant value. [Deeper water has higher pressure and drains into the Blue faster than shallow water.] With these features, the Blue may push light objects ahead of itself, accumulating debris over time. (A theme of this world is that things get dirtier and more chaotic as one approaches the Blue, so a certain amount of debris is appropriate, but a giant wall of leaves and dust bunnies is not the desired imagery). A compromise runs as follows: [Parts of objects that penetrate the Blue do not immediately vanish. They remain attached to the main body. However, they cannot be drawn back out of the Blue. This means that objects that partially penetrate the boundary will "stick" to the Blue's surface. The Blue also exerts a weak bluse pull on objects inside it. Over time, objects in partial contact with the wall will either be pulled into the Blue, pushed in by more solid objects, or will break free, severing their connection with the part of the object that is already inside the Blue. This is a clue about the true nature of the Blue: it does not destroy, but preserves. People sacrifice body parts by pushing them into the Blue and then yanking free, severing the connection with the sacrificed part.] 

[Draining of deep waters into the Blue sometimes creates dry former oceans and lakebeds, turning them into swamps, valleys, and floodplains. Waterfalls are common near the Blue.] 

Glint has seen the Blue up close many times, and can describe its effects. The detail relevant to Prota's question is that shallow bodies of water will not drain quickly into the Blue, but deep ones might. Glint is mildly worried about the gree migration, but not extremely so. The total number of people along the path to the Blue hasn't changed, but their distribution will. There may be more competition for water sources whose headwaters are gree, and water sources whose headwaters are consumed by the Blue will dry up. However, the Blue moves slowly enough that travelers can estimate how much water will be available in a region over the course of their journey. [The gree migration may disrupt the economy in towns on the Utannic Road.] 

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"Well, greenjay," your uncle explains over a pot of boiled stalks and tubers, "Right now we're still doing fine. All the headwaters in the hills gree of the Crane River are still there, and the Crane itself where we'll be crossing is too far gree to dry up. Same for Orlake, if we decide to turn set. Further bluse on the Utannic we might have to worry more about water supplies, but every person we pass before then is one less thirsty gullet to compete with, out bluse." Glint leans back on his leg-stumps and scratches his beard. "Old Auntie Feldspar's pottery might fetch a good price in the blusemost towns - but only if there's still anyone who can afford it. Right now, everybody's playing the game of 'when's the best time to leave.' Too soon, and you pass up opportunities to fleece desperate travelers. Too late, and you can't scrounge enough supplies at any price, and now you're the desperate one. We'll see more and more of that type on the Utannic as we travel, and it'll be even worse on the way back gree, but with luck we'll be well ahead of the last big rush from Greward and Bluward." 

You can identify the key headwaters that Glint mentions on your regional maps. Tracking the Blue's estimated progress gives you a decent idea of what to expect. A handful of streams bluse of the Crane River have likely already dried up, but there are still several known springs, marshes, and oases where you might restock. 

"Deep water drains into the Blue faster than shallow," Glint reminds you, "so there's often a bit of water even near the wall itself." Indeed, it is common knowledge that the shallowest puddles evaporate faster than they drain into the Blue, and shallow streams and marshes drain only slowly. On the other hand, the Llerwood is located in the rich sedimentary soil of a dried lakebed that long ago drained into the Blue. In the resulting valley, only shallow pools remain. 

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[The Llerwood is located in a valley, a former lake that drained into the Blue.]

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"Okay. Thanks for explaining," I say, and I eat my stalks and tubers.

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Prota appears satisfied with the explanation. 

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You listen to Glint as you eat, and thank him for explaining. 

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Step 36

The Player appears to be satisfied for now. (The plot can progress to the next key moment or decision). As Prota arrives at the crossroads and turns toward the larger road, traffic will increase. They can also encounter a wandering animal afflicted by Li Viota Nimue. The animal could be a species known to the Player, such as a wolf or bear, or a fantastical species unique to this world. It has been established that this world's ecosystem is similar to Earth's. (Largely so the Player does not become confused by too many new terms and mechanics at once.) Assuming that an evolutionary path similar to Earth's generated humans in this world, most animals large enough to pose a credible threat would be quadrupeds. Large birds might be possible as well, and would be more likely to travel the long overland distance from near the Llerwood. In addition, any animal thus introduced is a potential form for Glint, so it should not be overly powerful. 

New creature: the gallowgale, a large predatory bird with a wingspan of nearly 3 meters, similar to the extinct Haast's eagle of New Zealand on Earth. As a predator with a large beak, it can pose a threat to much larger creatures, including humans, and routinely preys on larger animals such as wild goats or the flightless Llerwood cassowary. This particular gallowgale has contracted Nimue's rot by feeding on an infected animal. 

(While it would be more directly threatening to the Player to have the gallowgale attack their party directly, it may strain credibility that the gallowgale would choose them among all possible travelers. It might feel like a blindside since the Player does not yet know how Li Voita Nimue's magic works. It may be assumed that other animals have begun escaping the Llerwood region and attacking travelers, but this is the Player's first encounter and it should be more introductory.) The gallowgale attacks a traveling family on a wagon within sight of Prota and Glint. (This is also a chance to see how Prota reacts to strangers in peril. They have some medical skills and a limited supply of bandages. What resources are they willing to spend on helping others?) While Glint in shifted form can easily kill a gallowgale, the attack is likely to leave at least one adult wagon driver badly wounded. [After fighting a gallowgale, Glint may suggest that Prota acquire a spear or other simple weapon and learn some basic defensive techniques on the road.] 

[This world does not use the metric system; an analog to the yard or meter is one pace.]

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The next few days pass without incident. At the first major crossroads, you turn left, and soon join the road leading to the Utannic and Thimbel's Trail. The terrain grows a bit more mountainous and sparse - you need to cross the foothills before reaching Utannic Road. There is a noticeable increase in traffic on this road. Traders, small clans, and migrating families pass you a few times a day. 

As you near the second crossroads, you spy a lone wagon heading in your direction. In the evening light you can make out a pair of oxen and two drivers. It has the look of another traveling family, possibly looking to join up with clanfolk gree. 

As they approach, Glint continues his tutoring, pointing bluse. "See that winged shape in the distance, looking closer than it should be? That's a gallowgale. They typically hunt near the Llerwood." Your uncle frowns pensively. "Unusual to see them up here this early." Gallowgales are one reason that herding clans such as yours prefer to stay well ahead of the Blue. With a deadly beak and an adult wingspan of nearly three paces, they will happily prey on anything from sheep to draft horses unless dissuaded by an arrow or well-aimed sling stone. Thankfully, they tend to avoid wagons or large groups of people. Usually. 

Glint's frown deepens as the winged form approaches. If it's anything like most eagles or hawks, it should spot the wagon and veer away, not liking the size. 

It doesn't. 

Beldry huffs and slows; he's spotted the predator, too. His head tosses worriedly. 

"Something's not right..." Glint mutters. 

The other travelers, now a few hundred paces from your group and just out of earshot, don't seem to have noticed the bird. 

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[Non-afflicted gallowgales don't like large groups or wagons.] 

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"Well, now I wish we'd brought Corun, I bet he could hit it from here," I mutter. "- can you turn into something loud, warn them?"

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Prota suggests that Glint shift into a creature that can be louder than a human, using that to warn the family. 

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You mutter, "Well, now I wish we'd brought Corun, I bet he could hit it from here." You ask Glint, "Can you turn into something loud, warn them?"

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Step 37

Prota's suggestion is a good one. Glint has several forms that are louder than a human. He will attempt to pick one that will let him not just attract attention, but let him point or otherwise indicate where the family should look. The local environment is wrong for elephants. Bears and tigers can roar, but are also threatening enough to draw the eye in the wrong direction. A loud bird-screech could get the family to look up. A loud monkey such as the howler monkey can point. Glint can shift fast enough to do both. 

The racket will scare Beldry. 

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"Now there's an idea. Might want to cover your ears," replies Glint, before shrinking into a feathered form. He lets out an earsplitting screech - it sounds like a hawk or eagle's cry, but you don't recognize the species - then shifts again. Feathers are replaced by brown fur, and beak turns into the flat face of a howler monkey. In this form, Glint shrieks and jumps up and down, pointing bluse past the wagon. 

It works. The travelers start, and look around, one reaching back into the wagon for a curved club. After a moment of staring at the screaming monkey, one of them glances upward and points towards the bird. 

Unfortunately, Glint's racket has a side effect. Beldry, already nervous, yanks at the lead in your hands, trying to veer off the path and bolt. The cart wobbles and creaks. 

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Beldry is trying to pull free and bolt. Prota has a hand on his lead. The travelers are aware of the gallowgale. 

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I cover one ear with my free hand and one with the shoulder of the arm that's holding Beldry still. If Beldry doesn't chill out in a moment I'll detach him from the cart, so it won't break and he can come back when things calm down.

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Prota is in an awkward position but none of their proposed actions are implausible. They can detach Beldry in perhaps fifteen to twenty seconds, with some difficulty if Beldry is pulling at the connections. Covering their ears and holding Beldry at the same time may be hard, but the noise is only brief. 

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At Glint's warning, you do your best to cover your ears. When Beldry starts to pull, you make plans to detach him if he doesn't calm down. 

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Step 38

Prota may suffer a minor strain from being in a bad position when Beldry starts to pull on the lead. He is too nervous to stop pulling, which means Prota will be occupied unhitching him from the cart. The gallowgale would be likely to target a fleeing Beldry rather than the travelers, but the travelers are closer and it will take Prota long enough to unhitch Beldry that the gallowgale will already be committed to its attack. 

Prepared, the travelers will be able to hold the gallowgale and possibly kill it, especially with Glint's help, but are still likely to suffer deep cuts from its beak and talons. They do not have time to pull, aim, and loose a ranged weapon during the bird's rapid dive. 

Glint will shift to a flying form to help, then a combat form. Great cats are able to move and react quickly and can leap and pounce, and also outclass a 40-pound gallowgale in a straight fight. Prota will finish unhitching Beldry after Glint pulls the gallowgale away from the travelers. 

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In his panic, Beldry yanks on your arm, and your shoulder twinges - that may be sore for a while - but after a moment, you don't need to cover your ears anymore. Beldry's not pulling as hard as he possibly can, but he doesn't seem to be calming, either. Your hands free, you get to work unhitching him. 

The gallowgale, now almost directly above the travelers, cuts into a rapid dive. Glint lets out a low growl that, if he were in human form, you are sure would be a curse. He leaps downhill towards the travelers and shifts midair into something small and winged. 

You're halfway through unhitching Beldry when the gallowgale connects, not with the oxen that might be its natural prey, but with the human drivers. You can't see exactly what's happening until you finally unstrap and release the donkey. Beldry bolts greerise. 

A few hundred paces bluse, one of the travelers is on the ground, clutching their arm and dripping ominously. The other, wielding a club, is circling the gallowgale, which is now grounded and fighting a giant cat you can only assume is Glint. The gallowgale may be large for a bird, but in his current form Glint easily outweighs it by a factor of ten. As long as it doesn't get airborne again, he should be able to take it down. 

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None. 

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I try to pay attention to where Beldry's going so we'll be able to retrieve him later and look for an improvised weapon in case the gallowgale, already acting strangely, breaks off and heads for me.

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Prota is trying to do two things that demand attention, watch Beldry and look for a weapon. They can do them in order but not at once. Or they can periodically glance up from their search to check on Beldry while he remains in view. 

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You watch Beldry as he flees, noting the general direction, then cast about for something you can use as a weapon. You glance up from your search now and then until Beldry disappears over a hill. 

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Step 39

Reviewing Prota's inventory, they have: pottery, foodstuffs, coins, tent and bedroll, cooking gear, fishing net, medical supplies. Of those, things that can be used as weapons include: bag of coins, tent poles, pots and pans, one or more knives, and possibly the fishing net. The Player may come up with other ideas. (Listing all items rather than just the obvious weapons gives the Player a chance to choose for themselves.) There are also sticks and rocks beside the trail. 

The gallowgale may get airborne again. If it did, and if Glint could not reach it by jumping, he would shift again and continue fighting. A normal gallowgale might decide to chase Beldry, but the donkey is fleeing rapidly and this gallowgale is something close to rabid. It will not back down. Prota does not yet show signs of intending to help with the fight. A brief description in the next post will suffice in case they change their minds on finding a weapon. Otherwise, the fight will conclude after a minute more with minor injuries to Glint and the traveler. 

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You rummage through the cart looking for a weapon. Fortunately, your gear is mostly intact: Feldspar's pottery with foodstuffs and water, a heavy bag of coins, tent fabric and wooden poles, pots and pans and other cooking utensils, and your fishing net and healing supplies. Some of them might be usable in a fight or its aftermath. There are also a fair number of rocks and branches scattered along the trail nearby. 

Below, the gallowgale seems to be trying to get airborne. Every time it starts flapping, Glint pounces or the club-wielding traveler takes a swipe at it, disrupting the attempt. But they seem to be struggling to land a killing blow without getting in range of its sharp beak or talons. 

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None. 

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I look for a big, sturdy branch that could be used to keep the gallowgale at bay if it comes for me. Two, if I can find them, one for each hand.

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Prota can find a couple of suitably-sized branches. Interpreting the action as favorably to the Player as possible, they are looking for branches small enough to be actually wielded in one hand. 

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You locate a couple of branches small enough for one hand each, and grasp them in case the gallowgale heads your way. 

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Step 40

Carrying two branches is possible, though not particularly effective in combat compared to a controlled two-handed grip on a larger weapon. Glint may point this out later. (It would be a good lead-in to combat training.) 

(Prota's actions are appropriately cautious for one untrained in combat, but the gallowgale will not actually attack them at this point in the fight. It is best to end this scene quickly and progress to something the Player can more directly influence.) 

Glint will bring down the gallowgale, acquiring a cut on his shoulder that will be smaller once he shifts back to human form. The other traveler escapes with minor cuts and bruises. The first traveler is still badly injured. These injuries were inflicted by a creature suffering from Li Voita Nimue's magic. How dangerous is this for the wounded? [Revision to previous thoughts on Li Voita Nimue's magic. They have access to at least two different magics. One preserves things well past the point of normal death, though it does not reduce physical damage. This power was obtained from animating and controlling the body of a former ally, and was vital in acquiring Nimue's magic without dying of the sacrifice. The second power is Nimue's own, and it lets them animate and control afflicted tissue, living or "dead." The second magic can be passed on through wounds, in keeping with the general zombie theme, or proximity, to create an escalating threat that includes afflicted plant life. However, to avoid overpowering the threat, neither method of infection is certain or quick. Nimue must also be aware of an afflicted target to control it. Otherwise, afflicted animals merely act randomly and aggressively towards non-afflicted creatures.] 

[Left untreated, the first wounded traveler will become afflicted if they survive the blood loss. The second traveler is at risk but may recover from the magical infection if not otherwise stressed.] Glint's wounds will be less threatening because of his shapeshifting and healing. Good medical attention will improve the chances of all three wounded. [(Later in the story, a gift of magical senses may allow Prota to better understand how Nimue's magic works.)] 

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Carrying two branches is a bit more unwieldy than you'd expected, but you prepare to defend yourself if needed. A tense minute passes, with Glint and the traveler looking for an opening; the gallowgale seems focused on them rather than you. Eventually, though, the combined efforts manage to wear it down. It turns its back on Glint, trying to fend off the traveler, and Glint pounces. The gallowgale manages to bite his shoulder before he finishes it off. The club-wielding traveler appears to have escaped with shallow cuts and bruises, if anything. But the first is still wounded and on the ground. 

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None. 

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Once the gallowgale is down, I drop the branches and rush forward to see if there is anything I can do to help.

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Prota moves quickly to the site of the attack.

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You drop the branches and make your way down towards Glint and the travelers. 

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Step 41

Prota left the cart unguarded, but there is no one around to take advantage. [Prota knows the direction Beldry ran.] Prota is looking for ways to help. The most obvious present problems are injuries. One traveler is sitting on the ground, badly wounded. Glint and the other traveler have minor injuries. The frightened oxen pulled the wagon past the scene of the fight, but are calm now.

This was a traveling family. so there are two young children in the wagon. They did not participate in the fight; their parents told them to stay hidden after spotting the gallowgale. Neither are injured, but the youngest is badly frightened and crying. 

Glint's first priority was stopping the gallowgale. He has limited ability to help others heal. He would normally try to help anyway, but something about the gallowgale has caught his attention. Tigers cannot smell as well as a wolf, but they still have more acute senses than a human and Glint caught a whiff of the magical affliction. He will shift forms to investigate so he knows what he's dealing with. 

One of the travelers might have magic. (It could showcase another manifestation of magic that Prota may encounter. However, magic in this setting is not intended to be that common.) Any combat-useful magic would have surfaced during the fight. Most small families who live bluse do not have the resources to travel safely to the Blue itself and gain magic. Therefore, this is a nonmagical family. [The names of the traveling family are Kyintri, the woman; Stala, the man; Venir, the elder sister; and Zafton, the crying boy.] 

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On your way down, you pass the covered wagon and oxen, now without a driver. The frightened oxen carried the wagon a bit up and away from the trail during the fight, but they've stopped now and only regard you curiously. You hear the sounds of a child crying from inside the wagon. 

A few dozen paces away, you see a woman sitting on the ground, looking pale. The other traveler, a man, has put the club aside and is trying to help her bandage the arm. Glint, in a fresh wolf body, is sniffing at the corpse of the gallowgale. 

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I try to locate the crying child to see if they're injured or just frightened.

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The Player doesn't know exactly what the wagon looks like. Prota's vague "try to locate the crying child" can become a more specific action, such as pulling aside the fabric that covers the back of the wagon. No further action is required to locate the children; they are in the wagon, but not hiding under anything in particular. 

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You head around the back of the wagon and pull back the fabric that hangs from the upper frame. 

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Step 42

The wagon is large enough to carry a poor family's traveling supplies, for a group that intends to subsist more on supplies than forage. It is old and often-repaired. The children are sitting on crates and sacks. The contents have been jostled a bit from the brief flight, but are secured well enough to prevent major damage. 

(While not magical, the family may have other features relevant to the plot.) They might be from one of the bluseward towns along the Utannic. They could be from Clan Pratchett, but that group tends to move together and is unlikely to send one family ahead. Perhaps they are fleeing the unrest in Adwell. Prota has not traveled far from their own clan's migration path before, and would not know the travelers' origin on sight, unless visually distinct demographics are in play. In this small of a region, that is unlikely. 

[The traveling family is from Adwell.] At a minimum they will have some dried fish in the wagon. 

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Inside the wagon, you see a young girl clutching a crying boy. They sit on crates and sacks filled with supplies and dry foodstuffs, which smell faintly of fish. Neither child appears injured. 

The wagon itself looks old, with several different wood grains marking past repairs. The fabric covering the front, top, and back is tattered in several places. There's a bit of blood on the front, where the gallowgale first attacked the woman before the adults and Glint took the fight off the wagon.

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None. 

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"The kids don't look hurt," I say to the parents. "How badly off are you two?"

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Prota is still a bit of a distance from the parents. They will need to raise their voice. 

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You call out to the parents, "The kids don't look hurt. How badly off are you two?"

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Step 43

Kyintri and Stala are glad their children are safe, but preoccupied with Kyintri's wound. Stala is only marginally injured, but Kyintri took the brunt of the first attack. Both are proficient in basic first aid, but Kyintri is entering shock and Stala could use help. 

Glint completes his investigation and approaches, resuming his natural form to speak. He tells Prota that the gallowgale smelled wrong - diseased. He will ask if the parents have medicine, but his shapeshifting scares the children. As someone with medical knowledge, Prota knows that infected wounds can be deadly. Prota has several options if they want to help, such as getting bandages and balm from the wagon or going straight to Stala and Kyintri.

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"I'll be fine," calls back the man, "but Kyintri's in bad shape!" 

Glint turns and lopes over to you, shifting from wolf into his natural form. He's got a few small cuts and a moderate gash on his shoulder, but they don't look life-threatening. "That 'gale smelled wrong," he says. "Diseased, mayhap. Going to need more than bandages." Your medical skill tells you that is concerning. Infections kill more people than injuries themselves. But take too long to clean a wound, and blood loss can be just as fatal. 

"In the wagon," says the woman, Kyintri, her voice shaky, tightening a strip of torn cloth to staunch the bleeding. "Please!" 

"Where's your medicine - ," Glint asks the girl in the wagon, but she shrinks back, staring at him in terror. He sighs. 

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None. 

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"Hey kiddo," I say to the girl, "I need to find your medicine and stuff, can you be a good girl and show me quick?"

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Prota is trying to convince the girl to show them where the family keeps their medical supplies. 

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You gently ask the girl where to find the medical supplies. "Hey kiddo, I need to find your medicine and stuff, can you be a good girl and show me quick?"

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Step 44

The girl is not frightened of Prota. She also heard her parents ask for the medicine, so this is not a surprise. The girl is slightly offended at being called a "kid", but this distracts from the fear. 

Glint understands what is needed. He will shift to carry Prota and the medicine to the family down the slope. Horses can carry a lot, but goats are more surefooted. The trail isn't very steep and was able to be traversed by a wagon and oxen, so a horse is fine. 

(Elaborating on the fear of magic sets the stage for potential challenges to Prota and Glint in towns ahead.) [Villagers who distrust magic sometimes use signs to ward away evil. Not all magics are necessarily suspect; a village suspicious of outside magic might have a few Blue-gifted individuals whose presence and magics are known and trusted. Because greefolk have wealth and useful magic and blusefolk have more random magic, fear of magic is more common among middlefolk than greefolk or blusefolk.] 

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"'m not a kid," pouts the girl, "Zafton's a kid." But she directs you to a small crate near the front of the wagon. You can lift it, but searching the contents or carrying it to the family downslope might be difficult. Fortunately, Glint has your back. "Load up, I'll take you," he says, shifting into a brown draft horse. 

The girl gasps and shrinks back again, making a sign of warding. Blue-gifts are not welcomed everywhere, you recall. Zafton, the boy, only giggles. 

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None. 

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"This is my uncle. He's a horse. I'm part horse," I say lightly to the girl, hauling the crate into place. "You could probably tell because of my glorious mane, right?"

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Prota is joking in an attempt to make the girl less frightened. They do not explicitly say that they get on the horse with the crate, but that is the most effective way to keep it steady, and trying to fasten it to Glint without a saddle or pack would be time-consuming. It may be assumed that Prota gets on the horse. 

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You set the crate on Glint and climb up behind it - there's not really time or tools to attach it securely, but you can keep a good grip on it - and joke with the girl in hopes of setting her mind at ease. 

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Step 45

Glint will carry Prota and the medicine to the family, let Prota dismount and unload, then shift back and help however he can. 

A single joke isn't enough to fully win trust from Venir, but it will partly shift her mood from "frightened" to "dumbfounded". Venir can't quite tell if Prota is joking. 

(The injury is a chance to offer Prota a meaningful choice about spending their resources.) The family is poor and had to make do with what they could get when they left home. The crate contains plenty of bandages and a bit of medicine, but is missing a few key consumables necessary for proper wound cleaning. Prota has a suitable balm. It is safe to assume they kept their medical supplies with them rather than in the cart when they approached. 

It is fair to assume that Prota will continue to help. The next logical step is to unload and sort through the supplies. The prompt can skip to that to avoid forcing the Player to state obvious actions. 

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The girl only stares at you, jaw hanging open. 

Glint carries you and the crate downslope to the family, stepping carefully to avoid unbalancing load or rider. It's actually a smoother ride than most horses, in fact, and shortly you're able to dismount with the medical supplies. Glint returns to his body, resting on his leg-stumps and helping you and the man unpack the crate. There are plenty of bandages and a few herbs, but you notice their kit isn't as complete as yours. In particular, they're missing a good disinfectant or wound-cleaner. Perhaps they already used what they had, or perhaps they couldn't acquire any before they set out. You have a suitable balm with you that might help, but there's not much of it. Kyintri's gash is long and deep, and properly treating it would take half your stock. 

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None. 

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Did I notice anything in their cart that would be worth trading for?

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Prota wants to know if a trade is possible. 

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You recall what you saw in their wagon, wondering if you could ask for anything in trade for the balm. 

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Step 46

The road to and from the Blue can be harsh, and it is common enough for travelers to trade for things they desperately need. Asking for a trade is not unreasonable, though it would be considered somewhat mercenary to demand payment before resolving a crisis. In this case, the crisis is the wound in dire need of cleaning and dressing. (Making this a semi-official norm held by migrating clans will expand the worldbuilding and anchor the Player's choice in Prota's local environment, while still allowing a genuine decision either way). 

The family has standard supplies for travel: food for themselves and their animals, water, containers, some simple medicines. They might have enough bulk supplies to spare, but Prota's cart is mostly full already, so anything they offer of value might need to be fairly small. They don't have much money, since they spent most of their savings preparing to migrate. They do, however, have detailed information about the state of Adwell and the road ahead, which can be valuable to travelers. Prota might be able to turn that to their advantage. [Demand for draft animals and livestock has increased in Adwell because several families dislike Sebastine and are moving early.] The family could not take advantage of this because they were heading gree instead of bluse, but Prota could buy animals from Clan Pratchett and sell them in Adwell at significant markup, if they don't mind traveling a bit slower. 

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You didn't see any high-value goods in the wagon. Anything you got for your service would need to be light enough to carry on your already nearly-full cart. They might be able to pay you in coin or services, perhaps trade a few tools you couldn't obtain at home, but they look to be townsfolk rather than traders, and poor ones at that. On the other hand, most travelers on the Utannic want to look poorer than they really are, to avoid giving too much to bandits. In addition, supplies aren't the only valuable commodity on the road. If they came from one of the towns on the Utannic, the travelers might know a great deal about where you're headed. 

Migration etiquette is to resolve immediate crises before discussing the price of help; in a pinch, one can indicate willingness to trade-for-assistance before committing, in which case the helped party is supposed to be generous in settling the debt afterward. Still, people can be duplicitous when no longer pressured. If you negotiated now, before cleaning and dressing the wound, you could probably extract a better deal. Such things are generally frowned upon, and it would win you no favors, but the road is a harsh place, and it's been done. 

Either way, unless they have some very well-hidden trinkets, they are likely to owe you more than they can pay, especially considering your help against the gallowgale. You might even be within your rights to demand they trade their wagon and oxen for Beldry and your cart. On a journey like theirs, such a loss could be ruinous, but with Glint on your side they couldn't exactly say "no". 

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None. 

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It's not my decision alone, and conveniently conferring doubles as an excuse to open up trade negotiations without being rude. "Uncle Glint, my guess is this would take about half our balm to dress right, do you agree?"

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Prota's question serves the dual purpose of confirming their intentions with Glint and indicating that they intend to trade. 

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Implying that you are willing to trade for assistance, you ask Glint in earshot of the couple, "Uncle Glint, my guess is this would take about half our balm to dress right, do you agree?"

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Step 47

Glint is generally self-sufficient enough that he does not need to extort travelers. He will generally default to migration etiquette unless facing a particularly hostile negotiator. However, his current priority is Prota's safety, and he wants to know how they handle themselves in this situation. He will follow Prota's lead. 

(To expand on the rules of migration etiquette and worldbuilding, the next prompt can describe how Prota is familiar with migration etiquette. This may also sneak in an element of game theory relevant for travelers in this world, though not known as such.) [Most migrants going the same way follow "passing rules" - in other words, participants in a trade are heading the same direction and expect they might meet again, or that their reputations matter among those they expect to meet. A negotiator following passing rules assumes future interactions will occur and doesn't try too hard to screw over their trade partner. "Contra rules", on the other hand, refers to strangers traveling in opposite directions who don't expect to meet again, and who therefore want to extract as much as possible from each other before they go. Goodwill is not a factor in contra rules. Passing and contra rules are abstractions, often unspoken, and the prevailing norms among most clans are passing rules regardless of which direction a traveler is heading. Foreigners and rival clans often get treated on contra rules, and bandits often act according to contra rules.] (A slightly more euphonic and unique term for this is passing-kind and contra-kind). 

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"Aye," Glint acknowledges. He leans a bit closer to you and murmurs, "Passing-kind or contra-kind, greenjay? Your call." 

A few years ago, your mother and father sat you down to talk about the rules of the road. "Suppose two travelers meet while migrating gree, one a bit faster than the other," your mother began. "One has sheep, and the other has grain. They decide to trade. They're headed in the same direction, so they or their clans might meet again later, right?" She went on to explain how the travelers would want to treat each other with respect, trading good sheep for good grain, building a good relationship and reputation. "We sometimes call it passing-kind," your father had added. 

"Now suppose two strangers meet each other going opposite directions," your mother went on. "They're from different clans, claiming different territory far away from each other, and they don't expect to meet again. But it just so happens that one has sheep, the other has grain, and they want to trade..." In this story, the shepherd tries to sell the weakest, most sickly sheep, and the farmer tries to pass off the rotten grain with a layer of good grain on top. "Some of the people you meet might be like this," your parents said. "They are contra-kind, going the wrong way. They might know this and expect you to hurt them, even if you trade, and they'll try to squeeze as much from you as they can. Time may come when you'll have to do the same." 

Despite the name, passing-kind is more or less the norm among migrating clans on the road in either direction, though you've seen foreigners and greefolk treated contra-kind. It's particularly common when wealthy gree pilgrims pass through your clan's territory on their way home - after all, they sure as heck won't be coming back. 

In short, Glint is asking you - are we prioritizing helping out first, and settling the debt afterwards? Or are we playing hard, demanding payment up front? Does he need to prepare to be intimidating, to get as much out of them as you can? 

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"Passing-kind," I tell him firmly; I don't want to come off worse for trying to help, but I'm not trying to soak the travelers for everything they've got.

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Prota is speaking only to Glint. Although the Player did not specify, Prota probably responds in a low voice. 

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You reply firmly in a low voice, "Passing-kind." 

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Step 48

Glint accepts Prota's judgment. Glint knows how to indicate trade willingness to most local travelers. Like his daughter, Stala somewhat distrusts the Blue-gifted. Kyintri obviously needs help, though, and can barely stay conscious. Stala is desperate, so he will agree to negotiate later. Once help is agreed upon, Stala will need help cleaning and dressing the wound. 

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Glint nods understanding and raises his voice to conversational levels. "We offer succor," he tells the travelers formally, not wasting time. "Aid-price settled after. Agreed?" 

The man recoils slightly, looking at Glint's leg-stumps. Then his gaze turns to the woman, who seems near to passing out from pain or blood loss. She barely seems to register the conversation. "Agreed," he breathes. 

"Good. Let's get to it." Glint hoists himself next to the crate and begins pulling out bandages and handing them to you. 

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None. 

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I set about cleaning and dressing the wound as best I can.

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Prota cleans and dresses the wound. They have some skill with bandaging. They will also have help from Stala and Glint. Previously, they agreed to use some of their balm in the dressing.

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You help the other traveler clean and dress Kyintri's wound, applying your balm before bandaging it. 

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Step 49

[Prota has used about half of their heavy-duty wound balm. Enough remains for a few shallow cuts or one large gash.]

(Forcing the Player to state an action they already intended to take is not ideal, but proceeding without letting them confirm that they are helping could also have been a mistake. Still, the plot can continue more quickly now.) Assume Prota also applies a small amount of balm to Stala's and Glint's wounds. The family introduce themselves after dressing Kyintri's wound. Kyintri is likely unconscious and breathing shallowly at this point. 

How does Stala react when things have calmed down? His family harbors some prejudice against the Blue-gifted, but Glint and Prota have helped them greatly. Stala is concerned that the shapeshifter may try to rob his family and feels helpless to protect them. He will cooperate, and honor the cultural norm of negotiating in good faith after a crisis, but if something happens to frighten him further, he may lose the ability to think clearly. This would affect his ability to offer useful information or figure out how to compensate Prota and Glint fairly. 

Venir is old enough to know how to drive a wagon, though she may not be practiced in it. Eventually, she will manage to drive the wagon team back onto the road by herself. (In the unlikely event that the Player is uncomfortable negotiating and wants Glint to take point, this small scene allows them an alternative way to participate.)

Elaborating on what Stala has to trade: they might be fishers, but not everyone in Adwell fished for a living. Plausibly, Stala fished, while Kyintri was a weaver. As far as textiles go, wool is more likely to be available to frequently migrating clans than cotton, because sheep can travel. The family recently passed through the territory of Clan Pratchett, so reasonably they would have traded for some wool to weave and potentially sell later.

Not every possible offer need be mentioned in the next prompt. (The Player may enjoy coming up with ideas of their own.) Stala is still distraught, and will not immediately think to mention news of Adwell, even though it is a potentially valuable commodity. [Travelers going opposite directions often swap news and rumors, but not all such information is trustworthy.]

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During treatment, Kyintri lapses into unconsciousness, breathing shallowly. The wound was a nasty one, but with your help she has a good chance to recover. While you clean and dress the smaller cuts on the man and your uncle, the other traveler introduces himself as Stala, Kyintri as his wife, and their children as Venir and Zafton. Like his daughter, he seems nervous around Glint, and keeps looking at your uncle in a mix of awe and trepidation. 

"We don't have much to trade..." Stala admits, his tone apologetic. "But we offer what we can." According to Stala, the family recently left the fishing town of Adwell, passing through the territory of Clan Pratchett on the way. "We have a little coin and supplies for the road. Dried fish, of course. Some wool and sheepskin. Kyintri weaves, she was going to make..." He looks at his wife's bandaged arm. "Well. Not on this journey, it seems," he finishes bitterly. 

A few dozen paces away, Venir is currently attempting to turn the wagon around and get it back on the road, with mixed success. She's a bit young to be driving oxen, but seems skilled for her age. Zafton's tear-streaked face peeks out from the wagon. 

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Wool is less valuable to the family now because Kyintri will be too injured to weave for several weeks. 

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I look at Uncle Glint; he knows more than I do about what might be valuable up ahead. "We might be able to trade on a parcel of wool," I say, but tentatively.

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Prota is deferring to Glint on the negotiation. 

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You tentatively suggest trading for the wool, but defer to Glint. 

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Step 50

(Prota is relying on Glint here. It is still early in the adventure, and Glint is supposed to be an asset to the Player, so this reliance is not a major concern. But the Player should not come to rely too much on Glint. Future prompts should seek to pose challenges that Prota and the Player are capable of handling, or that are outside Glint's area of expertise, or that occur when Glint is absent. At the same time, it would be counterproductive to force the player to make detailed negotiation decisions without good information. They may feel out of their depth, in which case this scene should conclude swiftly.) 

Wool is a decent but bulky trade good. Prota's cart can carry a bit more, but not all that the family can offer. Glint is savvy enough to suggest trading on news. However, Stala still partly distrusts Glint. Prota won't get as good a deal as if they'd been willing to manage the negotiation personally. 

Sebastine's rise caused many people to leave Adwell. Kyintri and Stala's family were among them. They liked the previous leader and thought Sebastine lied about the sinkhole to gain support. Stala's feelings will show in how he talks about Sebastine. 

It seems like the fairest approach to the Player in this situation is to provide some information and a hint about how they might acquire more. For example, Stala might be willing to talk to Prota about other attacks like that of the gallowgale, or other details about Adwell. Without further action on the Player's part, they will likely receive the livestock intel and some wool, by default. The wool is probably more valuable than some of the dry food on the cart, so they might also have the option of trading up a bit and restocking later. 

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Glint nods pensively. "Not a bad choice, the towns always need more raw materials. But we only have room on the cart for a bit of it. We could trade some of the food, maybe, and restock later at a profit... Here's a lesson for the road, though, greenjay: news has value, too." He turns to Stala. "You just came from Adwell, you say, what's the story there? Give us something we can use, and it'll cover part of the debt." 

"Many of us have been unhappy since that scum took over," Stala answers, still looking sidelong at Glint. You get the sense he'd rather deal with you than the shapeshifting tiger-man, but he's doing a good job of diplomatically not pointing that out. "Maybe a sixth of the town has been planning to leave early. Some were even talking about trying to do in Sebastine like he did for poor old Crexin. We got a head start getting out...you know, I didn't think much of it at the time because we were heading the wrong way, but the slower-moving families have been buying up livestock. When we left, herds were already a good bit pricier than the Pratchetts are selling them for..." he trails off hopefully. The man has a point; livestock are valuable to migrants, and if you don't mind traveling a bit slower, you could turn a decent profit selling a few head of sheep or goats in Adwell, or even some draft animals if you can find them. It's an opportunity of the sort your clan was always on the lookout for. 

Stala might have more to say, but he still seems uncomfortable. If Glint's noticed, he's not showing it. Your uncle was always a bit on the abrasive side to strangers. 

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[Crexin was the previous ruler in Adwell.] 

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"Huh. That's good to know, if we can pick some up on the way." I look at the oxen, but suspect they can't move their cart without both. "Is the town going to settle in the same grouping, after the migration, or is it liable to split up?"

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Prota observes the oxen and assumes, correctly, that both are needed to move the wagon. They ask if the town will split into two groups when migrating, Sebastine's supporters and his detractors. 

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You look thoughtfully at the oxen, then say, "Huh. That's good to know, if we can pick some up on the way. Is the town going to settle in the same grouping, after the migration, or is it liable to split up?" 

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Step 51

Both oxen are in fact needed to move the wagon at a reasonable pace. This can be clarified for the Player, since Prota would be familiar with common modes of travel. 

Divisions among the townsfolk are significant, and violence has already occurred. Those leaving the town will likely want to avoid Sebastine's supporters in the future. They plan to settle elsewhere, perhaps at a town gree of Prota's clan. Stala also suspects that many townsfolk secretly dislike Sebastine, but were not yet prepared to move. He is correct, but overestimates the amount. [In Adwell, about one in ten remaining townsfolk actively dislike Sebastine. Most are neutral rather than supportive, but Sebastine's supporters are a vocal and influential minority, numbering about four in ten.] 

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By your estimation, fully loaded, a wagon the size of this family's requires at least two draft animals to move at a reasonable pace. 

"If they try to follow us, there'll be a war," Stala bites out. "We left to get away from that murderer and his thugs. Some of us talked about settling in Marwek for a few years," he adds, referring to a town gree of your clan's encampment. "Even if they did follow us, Marwek has its own leadership. If we warn them, they'll keep the bastards out." For obvious reasons, many established towns will turn away known bandits and criminals, especially those who might try to take over. "Not everyone left Adwell, though. Maybe another sixth of the town hated Sebastine as much as we did, but they weren't ready to move yet. They're stuck with him until they migrate, stars protect them." 

Despite his bitter tone, Stala seems more comfortable talking to you.  

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[Marwek is a town gree of Prota's clan.]

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"Has Sebastine killed other people besides the previous leader?" I ask.

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None.

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You ask Stala if Sebastine has killed anyone besides Crexin. 

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Step 52

(Cutthroat medieval politics can be a theme for Adwell. The Player can decide how much to engage with these politics, but they will be very much in play.) [Sebastine is cunning, charismatic, and ruthless.] When Sebastine ousted the previous ruling family, he did not want to leave possible enemies alive. He killed Crexin's whole family. The story he told was that they resisted the arrest that came for them, but in fact he was going to have them killed regardless. Sebastine has also "disappeared" some of the more vocal and dangerous supporters of the old regime. 

(The rebels need more reason than just a charismatic leader to oust their ruling family). [Crexin's family was not particularly popular to begin with. Corrupt and exploitative, but always careful about it. The sinkhole that Sebastine blamed on them was genuinely not their fault.] 

(A potential hook for the Player to become involved in Adwell politics is that one of Crexin's family survived.) [Crexin's daughter Yttria managed to escape Sebastine and is now hiding in Adwell. If an opportunity arises, she will ask Prota to smuggle her out of town.] Stala does not know that Yttria survived. (Alerting the Player to the potential complication now may be more interesting than springing it on them for the first time when they are in Adwell.) Stala has heard rumors that one of the loyalists was killed for hiding a fugitive. 

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"He sure did," Stala growls. "Butchered Baron Crexin's whole family the night he took over. Officially, they were resisting arrest and couldn't be brought in safely. Unofficially, that's a load of rancid toad oil. One of the dead was Crexin's grandson. The lad couldn't have seen more than eight winters. What did he do, attack the guards with a fork?" Stala spits on the ground. "Cowards. And it gets worse. A few weeks later, the baron's former captain of the guard Ithika disappeared. She'd been against Sebastine since day one. Rumor was she'd been planning a counter-attack, or possibly hiding a fugitive noble. She wasn't the only one to vanish, though. Good thing Kyintri and I left, or we might've been next." 

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[Crexin's title was Baron, a low-ranking noble. Crexin's former guard captain was named Ithika.]

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"Are things bad enough we should route around Adwell entirely if we can?"

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Prota is asking Stala if they should avoid Adwell entirely. 

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You ask Stala, "Are things bad enough we should route around Adwell entirely if we can?"

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Step 53

Stala dislikes and fears Sebastine, but still considers Adwell home. He knows how Sebastine has been treating travelers. Sebastine has not attacked non-loyalists, and still permits travel through Adwell. (The Player may be interested in avoiding Adwell. The fiction should make this a meaningful choice. There should be some benefit to Adwell and/or some difficulty in going around that makes Adwell a popular stopping point.) Getting past the river without going through Adwell is possible, but not easy. [Adwell has an old bridge that was untouched by the sinkhole. Most other crossings are not near the Utannic Road. Prota may be able to ford the Crane River upstream.] 

(Possible twist: Sebastine is taxing travelers more heavily to pay off his supporters. This creates a tangible effect on the Player that results from all the turmoil in Adwell, even if nothing else does.) Sebastine is taxing travelers, but not so much that the average traveler will prefer to risk the fords rather than take the direct route through Adwell. 

(The plot may also feature Ithika in the future, since she was name-dropped here.) [Ithika was harboring Yttria before Sebastine captured her. She is currently his prisoner, and he wants her to tell him where Yttria is hiding. Sebastine has been torturing Ithika.]

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Stala chews his lip in thought. "Sebastine's been taxing travelers more than Baron Crexin did. Rebellion is expensive. But if you aren't connected to the loyalists, he'd have no reason to go after you in particular," he adds reluctantly. "Plenty of folk have been through town since the usurper took over. If you do decide to go around, the fords north of Adwell might be your best bet. They add a week or so to travel times and they're a bit risky, but I've heard bad things about the southern roads, of late." 

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[Stala has heard rumors about the Llerwood and Li Voita Nimue. He has also heard of Orlake's dwindling influence.] 

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"What kind of bad things?"

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Prota is asking Stala to elaborate on news of the southern path. 

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You ask Stala to clarify. "What kind of bad things?"

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Step 54

Stala knows a bit more about Orlake and the Llerwood than has yet reached Prota and Glint. Orlake is declining as the lake itself begins to dry up, the Renplume carrying its water into the Blue. The flow of travelers and traders has also dried up due to reports of strange creatures and attacks on the Llerwood Way. Few know the real source of the attacks - Li Voita Nimue - but there would be rumors. A curse on the land itself, a monster, a witch with powerful magic. Orlake is still a good stopping point for travelers, but prices are high. It is, however, a good place to sell wares and hire mercenaries. (Orlake can be a town the Player visits if they want a more combat-focused adventure.) 

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"Orlake's been declining rapidly, and prices are high," answers Stala. "The lake's been lowering a bit since the Renplume started draining into the Blue - there's still fish to be had, but the Blue's movin' and everyone knows it. Travel's dried up a bit, too. Fewer folk are making it through the Llerwood Way, and those that do talk of...attacks." Stala glances at the downed gallowgale. "Animals, even people driven mad and aggressive. Some blame a monster, some a witch, others ordinary bandits. A few even say the land itself is cursed and rotten. Never would have believed it myself, but them's the stories. 

"Orlake's still a good place to sell anything that helps people migrate gree, or hire mercenaries to travel bluse. Lot of folk think they might make a profit picking up the leavings of weaker folk on the Llerwood. They might even be the ones killin' folk, who knows." 

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["The Blue's moving" is a colloquial phrase indicating a time limit, akin to "the clock is ticking".]

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"Animals like this one," I surmise, looking at the gallowgale. "I don't see how bandits could do that."

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Prota is skeptical that bandits could cause animals to go rogue. 

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"Animals like this one," you surmise, looking at the gallowgale. "I don't see how bandits could do that."

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Step 55

Ordinary bandits tend to have small magics, if any. Those with useful magics tend to find less risky or more legitimate employment. However, Stala is suspicious of magic, and he's just seen Glint transform into several kinds of dangerous animal. It will occur to him that bandits might have animal-themed magic, or use animals as minions. 

(Prota seems to have run out of questions for the moment. To continue the flow of the story, Glint can bring up Beldry. This also rewards the Player for keeping track of Beldry.) Glint has been listening to the exchange, happy to let Prota take the lead as practice. 

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"Most couldn't," agrees Stala. Then he glances sidelong at Glint. "...not without a magic, anyway." 

Glint, who has been listening intently, nods. "It's possible," he admits. "I've seen stranger things. All magics come from somebody." He frowns thoughtfully. "By the way, did you catch which way Beldry ran? I should probably grab him before something else does." 

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None. 

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"He went that way," I say, pointing.

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Prota points in the direction they saw Beldry run. 

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You point out to Glint where you last saw Beldry heading. 

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Step 56

Glint has finally noticed that Prota is getting more out of Stala than he was. He shifts and goes searching for Beldry from the sky. (To keep the flow of the story, Venir arrives with the oxen.) Prota can finish the negotiation on their own. (An endearing quirk of Venir might liven up the encounter.) Venir calls the oxen "pull cows" because she is still unused to their presence. 

Stala and Kyintri have more information about the road ahead, but not all of it needs to be explained right now. (If some of the details are elided, they can be referenced as a source of information later in the story, bringing up details as they become relevant). 

Stala at least will have noticed that Prota is heading bluse, and guesses they might be seeking a magic. But that is not as disturbing to him as seeing magic in action, so it need not come up yet. This is a good time to mention that the Utannic has gotten more crowded with travelers routing north to avoid the Llerwood, and that recent rains have made it muddy and slow. 

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"Good work, greenjay." Glint lowers his voice. "These folk seem a mite skittish around magics. Best if you finish up without me." Then he shifts and flaps off in search of the wayward donkey. 

Meanwhile, Venir has been maneuvering the family's wagon. She's nearly made it back to the road. "Daddy, I moved the pull-cows!" she shouts delightedly.

Stala's smile is a little strained, but he waves back. "She needs the practice," he tells you. "Never been on the road before." He checks on Kyintri, still breathing shallowly, and shares a few more tips about the road ahead. Much of his information about Orlake and the Llerwood Way seems to come from travelers who turned north on the Utannic to avoid the southern road. Between the increased traffic and the mud from recent rains, he says, the Utannic is slow going. "But at least it's going." 

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None.

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"How long does it normally take to dry up, if we see a few dry days?"

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Prota is asking how quickly the mud on the Utannic dries. 

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You ask, "How long does it normally take to dry up, if we see a few dry days?"

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Step 57

Even in normally wet regions, shallow puddles tend to dry up within two or three days. However, mud can take longer than standing water to fully dry. The lowest point in an unpaved road might accumulate trickles of water from the surrounding terrain and stay soggy longer, especially in wheel ruts. Well-traveled roads like the Utannic may see a bit of coordinated maintenance sponsored by towns along the route, but there will be several such low spots that are tricky to navigate. Traveling clans might build or carry makeshift bridges to cross particularly muddy gaps and streams. Some such will be left behind. [A possible challenge on the Utannic is unbridged muddy ruts and small streams.] It is worse in the lower regions than the foothills. Consequently, the wooden planks used to cross muddy regions might be a trade good for Prota's negotiation. (It will be more satisfying to the Player if they think to ask independently, so this need not be pointed out immediately.) 

Glint will spend a while searching for Beldry. Thanks to Prota's direction and his aerial view, he'll be able to locate and return Beldry eventually. The prompt should highlight Stala's relief that Glint is no longer nearby. 

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"Most of the road dries out after a couple days," remarks Stala thoughtfully. He seems more at ease with Glint gone. "But there's some low spots that don't seem to ever truly dry, and some streams and such. Wheel ruts get churned up, you know how it is. Before we got up into the foothills gree of Clan Pratchett's camp, we probably had to cross about one tough spot a day." He shows you the inside of his wagon, which contains some half-dozen thick wooden planks caked with dried mud. "We use those to cross the deeper muds, if nobody's got a bridge up." 

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None. 

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"A bridge?"

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Prota is asking what Stala means by "got a bridge up." 

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You ask Stala to clarify. "A bridge?"

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Step 58

Migrating clans or large groups sometimes lay down wooden structures of varying permanence to cross known streams and low spots. Sometimes they pick them up and re-use them, but sometimes they leave them in place, either because they intend to travel the same way again for trade, or because it is too much of a hassle to pick up a large one and move it. Travelers in smaller groups happily use these structures when they can find one, and sometimes even repair them. 

Prota has lived with a migrating clan, so it is reasonable that they may have encountered such structures before. However, the Player may need the details explained. Rather than being a purely explanatory statement, the next prompt can also include some commentary from Venir and Stala about their experiences. 

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"You know, the occasional bridge over streams or mud-pits that the big clans and moving towns set up," responds Stala. From your clan's last major migration a few years ago, you have an inkling of what he's describing. Before or during a migration, clans or large towns sometimes lay down wooden structures of varying permanence to cross known streams and low spots. Sometimes they pick them up and re-use them, but sometimes they leave them in place, either because they intend to travel the same way again for trade, or because it is too much of a hassle to pick up a large one and move it. Travelers in smaller groups happily use these structures when they can find one, and sometimes even repair them. 

"Marbu broke a board once," says Venir, pointing at one of the oxen. "He's fat." 

"It was really the weight of the wagon that did it," adds Stala with a long-suffering sigh. "We did repair it, though. Common courtesy and all." 

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[One of the oxen is named Marbu.]

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"But the planks work pretty well where there isn't one? - do you expect to need those going forward?"

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Prota asks Stala if they need the planks for the road ahead. 

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You ask Stala, "But the planks work pretty well where there isn't one? - do you expect to need those going forward?"

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Step 59

A few planks are always useful in case of rain or mud, but Stala expects to have less need of them now that his family has left the Utannic Road. Prota implied they might be acceptable in trade, and Stala will notice and think about it. Four is the ideal number for a cart or wagon - two under the wheels and two placed in front for them to roll onto. Stala has some extra. At this point, he sees an opening to negotiate a fair trade for the balm and assistance. He will make an offer that is low compared to saving their lives, but reasonable given his constraints. It's not an amazing deal, but the value of everything is relative on the road, and if Prota does not find a way to deal with the mud, they will struggle on the Utannic Road. The prompt should also give the Player an idea of how much extra materiel can fit in Prota's cart. 

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Stala frowns thoughtfully. "The planks definitely help if you hit a rough spot. We've made do with stripped branches and the like before, but these are more reliable. I'd rather not part with all of them, since getting stuck without any is a nightmare...you want at least four if you can get them, since you need to place new ones in front of the wagon. We've got six of the long ones and a couple shorter ones for leverage. The shorter ones wouldn't hold our wagon, but your cart looks small enough for them. Those would hold your cart fine in all but the worst mud. When it's that bad we usually go around or wait out the rain." 

He scratches his chin. "...would you accept two large and two small planks, a bolt of wool, and our information as settling our debt? I wish I could offer more, but we haven't much coin since leaving Clan Pratchett." The items he described might weigh down the cart a little, but you could find room for them. 

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None. 

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I think about this for a minute before I nod. "I think that'll do, yes."

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Prota agrees to the trade. 

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You take some time to think, then agree to the trade. 

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Step 60

Prota's immediate business here is concluded. The next prompt should alert the Player that the plot is moving forward and give them an opportunity to contribute further if so inclined. This can be accomplished by noting that Stala and Venir get Kyintri into a pallet in the wagon and lay out Prota's supplies, while Glint locates Beldry and returns him to the cart. The following prompts can detail the group's arrival at the start of the Utannic Road. 

[Prota has acquired two long and two short sturdy planks, a bolt of wool, and information about the current state of towns on the Utannic and Llerwood paths.] 

Glint would normally have trouble leading Beldry, since the donkey is not saddled or bridled for a rider, just for pulling. Glint is slow on the ground when not shifted. Glint will solve this problem by turning into a donkey himself and nudging Beldry in the correct direction. 

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With that settled, the travelers thank you and prepare to depart. Stala and Venir make up a pallet in the wagon for Kyintri to use, and set aside your planks and wool. Glint manages to locate Beldry. Rather than shuffle around on his stumps, he appears to have shifted into donkey form himself and is alternately leading and prodding Beldry towards the cart. 

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None. 

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When Beldry comes into view I jog over to help coax him toward the cart.

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Prota helps Glint get Beldry to the cart. 

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When you see Glint and Beldry coming over a ridge, you jog over to help bring Beldry back. 

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Step 61

Having practiced even a little with Beldry, Prota can speed the process along. The Player seems content with the accelerated pace of plot. The next prompts can detail the descent from the foothills to the encampment of Clan Pratchett, and the first impressions of the Utannic Road itself. 

(If the Player enjoys doing good for people, it would be suitably rewarding to conclude this encounter with a reminder of what they've accomplished.) Before leaving, Stala and his family thank Prota again. Zafton will try as well, though he is young enough that he can barely speak real words. 

The journey can be mostly uneventful, but should highlight some difficulties with Glint's wounds. Though properly treated, they still contain some magic of weakness and decay. 

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You help Glint retrieve Beldry and hitch him to the cart. The process goes significantly faster since you've got the most experience with both. After bringing the cart downhill, you load up your new materiel. It takes a bit of load-shifting, but you are able to fit the planks and wool on the small cart. 

Stala and Venir thank you again - even Zafton manages a "fanks f'r helping mom" before ducking back into the wagon. Then they load up and head onward, soon vanishing from sight beyond the ridgeline. 

It takes a few more days to reach the crossroads connecting to the Utannic. In that time, Glint continues his scouting trips and survival lessons, resting in the cart when not flying or sniffing around in animal form. His shallow wounds from the gallowgale seem to you to be healing normally, if a tad slow, but he seems unusually disturbed by something, looking them over critically and making grunts of disapproval whenever you change the bandages. 

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None.

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"It's not infected, is it?" I ask.

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None. 

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After some time, you ask Glint if he thinks his cuts might be infected. 

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Step 62

Glint is not sure what is up with the wounds, but he knows he should be healing faster. Glint has seen infected wounds before. (Some people are not comfortable with gruesome details of wounds. This will not be a run that involves substantial amounts of gore. Some details of festering wounds can be elided.) How might the signs of Nimue's Rot differ from an ordinary infected wound? The magic causes contagious decay. Afflicted cells respond weakly and sluggishly. Bacteria and viruses are not immune to the affliction, so their growth would be affected as well. Infected wounds include signs of immune response, like pus. Afflicted but not infected wounds would heal cleanly but slowly. Extremely afflicted wounds might worsen rather than heal, as the affliction spreads to nearby cells, but Glint's wounds are not that bad, and he is far from other sources of this magic. [Nimue's Rot is less dangerous outside the vicinity of heavily affected plants and animals.] Therefore, Glint's wounds are healing cleanly but slowly. 

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"No, I don't think so," Glint answers. He points out the shape of the cuts. "See how that's still clean? Infection comes with signs. Pus, spreading red marks, swelling, that sort of thing. We don't see that here. By now, any cuts this size should have either gotten infected or scabbed over, maybe even healed completely. These are just...slow. Slower than I normally heal. I've been staying in human form more than usual to get rid of these cuts, since I don't heal while I'm shifted, but it's still slow. I've shaken off stabbings, poisoning, burns, broken bones, you name it, but I've never seen anything quite like this." 

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None. 

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"Maybe it was... poisonous?" I suggest.

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None. 

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"Maybe it was... poisonous?" you suggest.

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Step 63

Prota is not far wrong. Nimue's Rot has qualities similar to poison. Glint can identify most common poisons not just by sight, but from personal experience, and would not recognize these effects. He will, however, suspect it is related to whatever was making the gallowgale act strangely. 

(The prompt should not linger too much on this scene, since the Player cannot reasonably guess the source without further clues.) Glint and Prota continue to the Utannic Road. Traffic increases and the road gets wider, more well-marked, and muddier. Prota's progress will not be significantly hindered since they have the planks and Glint's shapeshifting.

Glint definitely has an ox form. Does he have an elephant form? He travels widely enough that if elephants exist in this world, he might have encountered them. [Glint can only assume forms of animals he's seen.] (Using livestock familiar to the Player can help avoid confusion, but wild animals can be more unfamiliar as long as they are described in enough detail for the Player to understand them. It also helps if the creature's vernacular name reflects its features in some way.) If any elephant-sized creatures live near the Blue, they will either be capable of traversing a variety of terrain, or they will be in danger of extinction when the Blue corners them against unfamiliar terrain. Some elephants are adapted for jungle or savannah, but none for mountains. A more sure-footed giant creature capable of migrating gree might exist. [New creature: the gargant. Large but lithe, with strong legs whose front hooves double as weapons if attacked. Has a large club tail for balancing and defense. Vaguely equine face, with a neck shorter than a giraffe's but longer than a horse's, capable of eating a variety of plants. Dangerous and territorial, or it would be domesticated and/or hunted to extinction by migrating humans.] 

In addition to the routine challenges of daily travel, forage grows more scarce. 

Possible challenge: Clan Pratchett is on the move, heading gree. This means a longer journey between the clan and the next source of supplies, Orlake or Adwell. Why are they moving? They don't want to pass up a chance to sell livestock to migrating travelers in Adwell, so something must be motivating them. Clan Pratchett is an eclectic group, more welcoming of both outsiders and magics than the average settlement. Plausibly, they have forewarning of the trouble in Adwell and the Llerwood. [Some among Clan Pratchett have a knack for something like prophecy or clairvoyance, but their interpretations are unreliable at best. Pratchett fortune-tellers have said it is time to migrate gree, and the clan is on the move. Pastures near the Utannic and behind the clan are bare, but farther bluse and farther rise or set, grass is growing.]

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"Gallowgales don't usually have venom," Glint notes. "Then again, they don't usually go near wagons either. Too big and too strange for them. Whatever it is, I'd bet gold that it's got something to do with how that bird was acting - and why it was so hard to kill." 

Shortly after this, you reach the final crossroads connecting to the Utannic Road. The terrain is still somewhat hilly, but less so than before. The road widens and signs of travel become more common. As traffic increases, though, so do mud and wheel-ruts. A few times you have to break out the crossing-planks to make decent progress across a particularly wide patch of mud, even with Glint able to shift into strong forms to help push or pull the cart. Forage grows scarcer as well, and although you are still finding some edibles among the roadside brush, you have to start relying a bit on your supplies. 

In a few weeks' time, passing migrants tell you that you're near the encampment of Clan Pratchett. It's a bit sooner than you expected; they must be on the move. 

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None. 

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"Well, I guess we should go introduce ourselves," I say, "and see if there's any trading to do here."

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Prota suggests visiting Clan Pratchett. Prota has no further commentary on the wounds or trail problems. The Player seems to believe that "near Clan Pratchett" meant a matter of minutes or hours, though the intent was that they would be met the following day. [(To avoid misunderstandings, messages about travel time and distance should indicate approximate values where relevant.)] 

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You make plans to visit, and possibly trade, with Clan Pratchett when you arrive the next morning. 

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Step 64

The next prompt should begin to describe Clan Pratchett's encampment. (Good narrative descriptions involve multiple senses. Sights, sounds, smells. As the first non-home encampment visited, Clan Pratchett should have a unique and memorable style with multiple features that distinguish it from other groups and settlements.) [Relative to other migrant groups, Clan Pratchett is welcoming to visitors, diverse, weird, informal, and poor in wealth but rich in miscellaneous magics. Their primary store of value is livestock. Barter is more common than coin. The "market" is a simple collection of tents, carts, and stalls that are easy to erect and break down. Vendors sell food, tools, medicine, and items that help with the care of animals. Clan Pratchett is on good terms with Prota's clan, and although they may not know Prota personally, some clan members may know Prota's family, and many know Glint.] 

[In addition to essential trade goods, recreational herbs are common at Clan Pratchett, but not typically refined. Alcohol and various herbal drugs are available. Most are mild, but a few are banned in some cities, and therefore fetch high prices if smuggled. New drugs: mellowleaf, a mild recreational drug that dulls senses and lifts spirits, inspired by real-world marijuana; watchbark, a mild stimulant; grixroot, a potent emetic; "shuteye", a soporific tea leaf; wildbrew, a potent hallucinogen, and spirit stem, a medicinal cutting with effects similar to aspirin. Others may exist.] 

(While the overall tone of the adventure is intended to be serious, this region is relatively safe and can take a lighter approach.) Drugs can go by multiple names. Glint is not fond of mellowleaf because he dislikes its sense-dulling qualities. He refers to it as "daftweed". Its distinctive smell may be one of the first noticeable signs of Clan Pratchett. Some clansfolk will lead their herds out ahead of the encampment to graze, so Prota will see shepherds and goatherds with small flocks in the distance. During migration, clansfolk do not graze immediately next to the road ahead of the clan, since the less mobile herds need that space during travel. Prota should also see herding dogs doing what they were bred for, and hear the babble of voices and clink of tools. 

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Glint nods in agreement. "I spotted their smoke from the sky earlier. We'll be at their camp by tomorrow morning." 

After a final night's rest, you journey the last few hours to your neighboring clan's encampment. The first hint that you are nearing their tents is a musty smell on the wind. Glint wrinkles his nose. "Daftweed," he grumbles. "You'd think they have better things to do than smoke that sense-dulling herb." You notice a few small flocks of sheep and a trip of goats grazing the hillsides. Some of their watchers smoke pipes, accounting for the smell; a few wave at you as you pass. 

At last, you crest a rise in the road, and glimpse the encampment for the first time. A vast sea of colorful tents sprawl out before you, arranged in no particular order save for a collection of carts and stalls near the center. Livestock mill about on the fringes, attended by clansfolk and a number of deeply excited herding dogs. Even from this distance, the breeze carries a low chorus of clink-babble-bleat to your ears. 

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None. 

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"Well, I guess there's no way they want our wool," I remark to Glint.

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Prota is making an observation. No further action is implied. 

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"Well, I guess there's no way they want our wool," you remark to Glint.

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Step 65

(The Player is not yet taking the initiative in visiting the camp. They may want to learn more before they proceed, or they may be unsure what to do next. The Player should be offered a few meaningful options to anchor them.) Glint can propose alternatives. Prota could visit the central markets, looking for opportunities to trade their pottery or coin. In addition to regular trade goods, this option includes finding illicit goods to smuggle into a town ahead. The Clan Pratchett central market does not care what others ban. 

Alternatively, Glint knows a few people in the clan that they could visit. (New characters should have memorable traits, and should represent Clan Pratchett in some way.) Possible contacts: Jerome, a wayfarer and guard with a magical sixth sense for trouble; Matiar, a trader and smuggler; Koona, an armorer with weak metallokinesis. Update: an armorer is an unlikely contact for Glint, who does not use or carry metal armor. Further, an armorer is more likely to be found in a town or city than in Clan Pratchett. This group relies more on magics and numbers than arms and armor for defense. A tanner is a more plausible trade. Other possible contacts: a hunter, a herder, a woodworker or cartwright, and any of their nuclear families. Some use magic to attract customers or make trades. One person with color magic might explain the camp's many-hued splendor. Glint will catch up with some of these people off-screen, but Prota can choose their degree of involvement. 

Glint will clarify for Prota that the wool is likely to be more valuable farther bluse, but the pottery might fetch a good trade here. 

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Glint shrugs. "Not for a good price, no, though you could trade it here if you want to get rid of it. But I'd wager you could get a good barter on your auntie's pottery here. It might sell for more later, but so would wool and livestock. Plus, Clan Pratchett is famous for its curiosities." He points towards the edge of the market and a small flock of multicolored sheep. "Brenelo is up to his usual tricks, I see." A bright orange banner stretched between two poles reads SHEEP, CHEAP! 

"Tacky," winks your uncle, "but it sure does bring in the trade. Brenelo's magic is color." 

Glint continues to scan the camp. "I know a few regulars here," he tells you, "clanfolk and some who work with them. I plan to do some catching up while I'm here. No particular order. You want to meet some Pratch, or visit the market?" 

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[A Clan Pratchett member named Brenelo can change the color of things. Glint refers casually to the members of the clan as "Pratch."] 

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"I'd like to meet people," I say.

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Prota decides to meet some of Glint's contacts. 

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"I'd like to meet people," you say.

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Step 66

The next prompt should offer a choice of contacts, and Glint's perspective on them. [Brenelo is a loud and charismatic shepherd who follows most of the events at Clan Pratchett's camp. He passes on rumors faithfully and without checking. Jerome is more measured and cautious, normally guarding the approaches to camp or looking for travelers who might hire his services and danger sense. Nell, a cartwright, works on improved wagon designs. Much of her work is experimental, but she has a reputation for competence in the craft. In addition to her experience and talent, she has a magic that makes her unusually skillful at invention, though this is not known even to her; she thought her visit to the Blue was a failure. Matiar is a trader and smuggler who sometimes gives Glint small items to deliver; Glint has a particular talent for it since his belongings merge into his shapeshifted form.] Each contact has a different relationship with Glint. [Brenelo likes everyone, or pretends to. Jerome is respectful but wary, knowing Glint is dangerous. Nell has an on-and-off romance with Glint, and sometimes coaxes him into helping her test new inventions.] Glint owes Matiar money, but he's such a valuable smuggler that she tolerates him. Correction: Glint is not the sort of person to casually leave debts unpaid. Matiar may be angry at him for another reason. [Glint did a job for Matiar, but afterward the recipients were killed by bandits and didn't pay. Matiar suspects Glint may have reneged.] 

Some contacts have small or large families, but to keep the character count low, these can remain largely off-screen and unnamed. Glint may reference them in casual conversation. 

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Glint nods, grinning. "Well then. You've seen Brenelo - he's a chatterbox, talks up all sorts of rumors but can't be bothered whether they're true. He does know just about everything that goes on in camp, though." Glint then points to a guard in a polished helmet near the greeward side of the camp. "That's Jerome. Decent fellow, often hires into caravans, keeps track of comings and goings. Not the most fond of me, I think I tickle his danger sense whenever I'm around, but he'll be cordial." He points to a collection of carts and wagons near the market. "That looks like Nell's spot. Best cartwright I've ever met. She's always tinkering on some project or other. Some of them even work." He smiles fondly, then nods towards the camp. "And Matiar the trader will be hanging around the market somewhere. Always buying, always selling. Not always talking about it. Some of her goods are...questionably legal, everywhere but here. Good friend if you need to offload weapons that bandits," he winks, "dropped." 

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None. 

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"Heh, I don't think I want to pick up after bandits on this trip," I say, "but I'd like to meet Nell, I'm curious how fancy carts can get."

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Prota wants to visit Nell. Prota is interested in Nell's cart designs.

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"Heh, I don't think I want to pick up after bandits on this trip," you say, "but I'd like to meet Nell, I'm curious how fancy carts can get."

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Step 67

Glint will escort Prota to Nell. On the way, they will pass some colorful tents and busy Pratch. A few know Glint on sight, because he looks distinctive. This can be described to a moderate extent in passing, but the next prompt should begin to introduce Nell.

Some of the clan's greetings may serve a secondary purpose of alerting the rest of the camp to visitors. 

Nell services a relatively small community, without a large market for expensive designs. Her primary business is building and repairing ordinary wagons, but she experiments on the side and fills custom orders as they come. She will have a handful of mostly-ordinary but well-decorated carts to fix, plus one or two experiments and/or custom orders. One possible design uses tank treads rather than wheels. It is visually distinctive, strange to medieval minds, and generally impractical. What advantage might those have over normal cart wheels? Perhaps the buyer can get access to magically-sturdy leather for the tracks, but not magical wood. Perhaps they want a cart that can cross streams and ditches more easily. As it is not a combat vehicle, it would not need to be armored. As a bonus, it might be designed watertight for crossing deeper water. It could be powered by magic - unlikely - or pulled. What sort of magic might make such a design practical, without being powerful enough to earn an instant place in a floating gree city? Perhaps the ability to make objects spin. A spinning rod can power things, but it is only useful if connected mechanically to something, and with a way to turn it off or disconnect it. The user might need to renew the effect periodically, making it hard to mass-produce anything dependent on it. [Nell is working on a boxy cart with tanklike leather treads, intended to be powered by a magically spinning rod.]

Other cart-like designs: a chariot, a rickshaw, a sled. Chariots are primarily war or ceremonial devices for open terrain, not particularly useful to Clan Pratchett. Rickshaws that carry passengers might be handy in a paved city, but likewise are impractical for this setting. Sleds could see wider use, especially in winter. Nell might also work on other mechanical designs, though not as a primary business. Yokes, furniture, folding shelters. 

[Most Pratch are fond of loose, colorful clothing that breathes well on the road. Skirts and kilts are popular.] Loose clothing is less practical for a woodworker, so Nell wears a short-sleeved tunic and pants. She is still fond of colors, but sawdust mutes them somewhat.

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"All right, greenjay," Glint smiles. "Let's go." 

Rather than shapeshift, he swings forward on his hands into a steady walking pace. A flurry of whistles and waves greet your approach. "That's how they announce new visitors," your uncle remarks. "It's friendly, but also smart. Hard for strangers to sneak in." Jerome, the guard Glint pointed out before, gives a respectful nod and waves you through. 

You wind your way through several animal pens, tents, and portable craft tables, keeping a firm hand on Beldry. Clan artisans look up from their work as you pass, some waving or calling out greetings, which Glint returns. Soon you arrive at a cluster of wooden carts and wagons, all in various sizes and states of repair. There's a thick wooden sledge with a broken runner, two-wheeled and four-wheeled carts, several large wagons, half a dozen mismatched wheels, and some sort of boxy contraption that looks to be half-wrapped in leather. The one thing they all seem to have in common is color - they are painted and decorated in a dazzling array of styles.

Not far away, a wooden cylinder spins unattended between two tripods. 

A dark-haired woman kneels by the leather-covered box, leaning her torso through a large panel in its side. 

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[Nell has dark hair.]

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"Oooh," I say, not wanting to interrupt Nell, and I admire the vehicles. Our wagon is still in good shape but maybe we should have a spare wheel or something, if we wind up with enough liquidity.

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Prota admires the vehicles quietly. 

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You admire the vehicles with an appreciative murmur, thinking about what you might need for your own. 

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Step 68

Glint is more mischievous than Prota and will alert Nell rather than wait. She's surprised at first, but delighted to see him. As revenge for sneaking up on her, Nell's greeting may use a mildly embarrassing term of endearment. Something that references his shapeshifting might also be fitting. It takes her a moment to notice Prota, then she asks for introductions. Glint obliges. 

[Nell visited the Blue years ago, but did not realize she received a magic. She feels cheated and slightly self-conscious about her missing fingers, but will still express excitement about Prota's journey.]

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Glint, it seems, does not share your patience. "How's tricks, Nell?" he asks loudly.

You hear an "ack!" followed by thunk, and Nell emerges, rubbing her elbow. Unlike the long, loose shirts, kilts, and skirts worn by most of Clan Pratchett, Nell wears a short-sleeved tunic and partially rolled-up pants with thick patches on the knees. The tunic looks like a muted tan at first glance, but soon you realize it's actually orange and blue with a fine layer of sawdust. You also notice she's missing the two smallest fingers on her left hand, severed cleanly like Glint's stumps and long healed over. She whirls and her face lights up, brown eyes crinkling. "Glint, you old cuddle-skunk, I missed you!" She tackles him in a hug, and he wobbles precariously, nearly lifted off the ground. After a moment, she lets go and notices you. "Hello, who's this?" 

"Uh, Nell, meet my niece Emerald," Glint coughs out, uncharacteristically frazzled. "She's on her pilgrimage..." 

Something like a frown flickers over Nell's face, but she recovers quickly. "Oh, that's just wonderful! Is this your first time with the Pratch, dear?" 

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None. 

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"That's right!" I say. "It's lovely to meet you."

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Prota greets Nell in reply. [Prota has not visited Clan Pratchett in person before this adventure.]

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"That's right!" you reply. "It's lovely to meet you."

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Step 69

Nell knows the basics about Blue pilgrimages. She asks if they are taking the Utannic Road all the way there. 

(The interaction should include opportunities for Prota to respond in more ways than the obvious.) What is a possible obstacle the Player has not been made fully aware of? They know about mud and streams. Downed trees and other trail blockages, perhaps? Glint can move those in animal form. Unusual magics? In keeping with the theme that places near the Blue contain the detritus of civilization, a leftover magical experiment is causing problems. Someone experimenting with bio-magic created a hardy wood-eating parasite in an effort to clear deadwood and/or grow something edible from it. [Woodworms, a small creature made by magic, eat deadwood and carts if not prevented.] This does sound like the sort of problem that unscrupulous vendors might make up in order to sell useless items like "woodworm spray" to unsuspecting travelers. Perhaps whoever made them was inspired by a Pratchett hoax. (Is this a worthwhile obstacle to use? Damaged wheels could be crippling to a journey bluse. It could be easily avoided by separating wheels from ground with fabric or rocks, but then it's not much of a challenge. But it may be worth adding by virtue of worldbuilding alone.) 

[Possible twist: someone was digging below the river in Adwell and shored up the tunnels with timber. Woodworms ate the timber and the collapse caused the sinkhole. Prota may uncover this if they investigate while in Adwell.]

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"Likewise!" Nell grins. "Are you taking the Utannic all the way, then? Got your woodworm spray?" 

Glint rolls his eyes. "Not that old scam again, Nell. Woodworms don't exist, whatever the market folk say." 

Nell frowns and wags a finger at him. "Believe it or not, they do now. We think some magic-happy greefolk fresh from the Blue heard the rumors and decided it'd be a great idea to make a worm that eats deadwood. Now they're everywhere. Well, everywhere bluse of the Crane, anyway. I've replaced six wheels and an axle riddled with worm-holes already." 

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None. 

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"Somebody made a kind of vermin based on a made up kind?" I snort. "Why the heck? Anyway, we haven't run into any - does the spray work?"

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Prota's first question is rhetorical. Prota asks if the woodworm spray actually kills or repels them. 

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"Somebody made a kind of vermin based on a made up kind?" you snort. "Why the heck? Anyway, we haven't run into any - does the spray work?"

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Step 70

Woodworm spray was originally a scam to take advantage of ignorant greefolk pilgrims. It will not be effective against an actual pest. Prota and Glint have not encountered woodworms yet because they are farther gree than the worms have spread. Nell doesn't know that for sure, so she offers to take a look at Prota's cart just in case. Nell also doesn't know why anyone invented woodworms, but she speculates that they hoped to clear deadwood from trails or feed the worms to chickens. ([Later in the story, if Prota ends up gree, they might see a woodworm farm.]) 

[Chickens are widely considered a greefolk luxury, because they are difficult to farm on the move. Correspondingly, so are eggs. The Pratch market will include at least one vendor selling woodworm spray.] 

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Nell snorts back. "The spray? It's just water and a floral scent. Always has been. No, if you want to keep the woodworms out, just prop your wheels up on canvas at night to keep 'em out of the dirt, or park on rocks. Much cheaper solution." She frowns. "Dunno why anyone would make such a nuisance. Maybe some greefolk got sick of dodging deadwood on the trails or wanted something to feed their chickens. Anyway, they probably haven't spread gree of us yet, but if you want me to take a look at your cart just in case, I will." She winks at Glint. "Free of charge, even." 

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None. 

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"I'd appreciate that!" I say.

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Prota accepts Nell's offer to look over the cart. 

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"I'd appreciate that!" you say.

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Step 71

Nell will examine the cart. Since woodworms have to enter the cart through the wheels, and leave holes when they do, signs of woodworm infestation should be obvious to Nell. She will not find any on the cart. She may notice some minor repairs needed, or design not up to her exacting standards. She may be distracted thinking about improvements. Glint knows about Nell's design fugue, though he does not know it has magical roots. He suggests waiting a while and prodding Nell if it takes too long, and draws Prota's attention to the carts and wagons. 

To check the underside of the wheels, Nell needs the cart to move forward or backward a bit. This means convincing Beldry to move. Beldry doesn't like working for strangers, so they will need help from Prota. (Prota will likely agree to help, so this could be assumed; however, a reminder of their efforts to train Beldry would serve as a light reward for the Player and could also reinforce the fact that Beldry only listens to Prota, or sometimes Glint. If it comes up later, for instance with bandits or thieves, then past references make a stronger case for Prota's work paying off. It also gives Beldry a bit of character.) Nell's distraction will manifest in the prompt after this. 

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Nell skirts Beldry and squats beside the cart, examining the wheels. After a few moments, she nudges Beldry, who ignores her. "Stubborn one, eh?" murmurs Nell. "Mind moving the donk for me?" she asks you. "I only need about a quarter-turn to see the bottom of the wheels." 

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None. 

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"Mm-hm," I say, and I lead Beldry a couple steps forward.

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Prota moves the cart for Nell. Their response assumes Beldry moves, which he will, but their actual action is to tug gently on the yoke and talk to Beldry in a way that the donkey has associated with reward oats. 

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"Mm-hm," you acknowledge, and tug gently on the yoke, coaxing Beldry forward in a familiar murmur. 

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Step 72

Beldry moves, and Nell examines the cart wheels. She gets caught up in thinking about the cart's various faults and imagining possible improvements. Glint advises Prota to let her muse for a bit, and points out some of the other designs Prota wanted to see. In particular, the leather-covered box could be interesting. It is actually a custom request from a wealthy greefolk. (What other descriptions or features could pique the interest of the Player and add depth to the setting?) Glint may recognize a clan design on one of the carts as being a crest of the Adwell ruling family before Sebastine, the Crexins. Where did it come from? [A servant escaped the revolt in Adwell and went looking for help. They know Yttria is in hiding, but not that Ithika was captured. The servant needed cart repairs when they reached Clan Pratchett, and had enough spare coin to pay for them.] 

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"Perfect," Nell says after a couple steps. "Now, let's see here...no sign of worm-holes anywhere around the rim or sides...front axle's a mite creaky, the alignment's off, jokers always using warped lumber, could do with a spare...bottom's sturdy enough, mayhap a larger wheel could improve capacity but then you'd have to separate the axles further..." she trails off, muttering and running a finger over the yoke in deep thought. 

Beside you, Glint whispers, "She gets like this sometimes when she sees foreign work. Best let her muse for a while." He shifts to examine some of the partially repaired vehicles. "That box with all the leather looks new. And..." he trails off, frowning at one of the smaller wagons, blue with gold filigree on the edges, somewhat dented from travel. "Is that Baron Crexin's crest?" He points to a sigil of a spear crossed with two axes on a field of red. "I wonder what that's doing here." 

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None. 

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I go take a closer look at the wagon with the crest.

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Prota examines the servant's wagon. 

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You go take a closer look at the wagon with the crest.

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Step 73

Some of the details Prota notices should be mundane. Others should hint at wealth, travel, and haste. They may notice that the wagon is not designed for long travel - its thin metal-rimmed wheels are more suited to paved cobbles than muddy roads. The one who took it left in haste, grabbing what they could. They may have made an attempt to conceal the crest of their employer, since the wagon would make them a target on the road. But there is only so much that can be done without proper tools. Filigree has been pried off, paint covered in mud or scraped away, scratches added to give the impression of age. No concealed compartments, at least not visible to the naked eye. This was intended as a luxury city conveyance only. Because migrations do happen every few years or decades this close to the Blue, it might have been built with the intent to convert it to a road wagon eventually. There was not time to do so before the owner fled, but Nell might do it for a fee. 

It could be more of a carriage than a wagon, though a migrant who has not been to a city before might not recognize it as such. [The owner of the carriage sold some of the filigree to cover expenses and conceal his wealthy origins.]

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The wagon is oddly proportioned, with spindly metal-rimmed wheels that would perform better on cobblestone than in dirt or mud. There is a bench inside, with much smaller storage space in back than a typical trail wagon. It looks like the bench could fit two or three passengers comfortably. Very comfortably, in fact; the seats inside are padded. There are traces of gold filigree around the outer wall, and you notice faint indentations where there may once have been more. Unusually fancy even for a Pratchett wagon, but it's seen considerable wear. The sides are spattered with dried mud to an alarming height, and you notice familiar damage around the tongue and front axle that suggest it's been yanked out of many a mudhole. The paint looks remarkably fresh where it's not covered in mud. You spot several instances of the Crexin crest, but only because you're looking closely; it looks like someone went to considerable effort to scrape them off or conceal them in mud. There are scratches and dents elsewhere on the frame, but damage is worst by far on the crests, making them nearly illegible. Glint must have good eyes. 

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None. 

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"Whoa, somebody with this cart had an interesting time of some kind," I say, trying out a squashy seat.

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Prota comments and gets into the carriage to sit on the seat. 

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"Whoa, somebody with this cart had an interesting time of some kind," you say, stepping into the strange wagon and sitting on the padded bench. 

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Step 74

The carriage is designed for comfort, so the seat will be comfortable by migrant standards. Prota may notice more details about the interior. A faint floral scent lingers, now mixed with a woody scent associated with boxes and crates. The Crexin servant moved the contents out of the carriage before turning it over to Nell. Faint indentations may remain where the boxes rested on the cushions. The vehicle was not intended to be used to store travel supplies, but its user was rushed and desperate. [The Crexin servant who owns the carriage at Nell's is an old but capable man named Gano.] Because he was afraid of Sebastine's allies finding him, Gano gave a false name. [Nell knows Gano by the name Wyllis.] 

Glint acknowledges Prota's observations, letting them investigate. He can shift into wolf form and sniff around. What scents will he notice? Gano's, and possibly a hint of the ruling family, whose scent he may have come across before. Gano will not have left a note or anything, since he was not expecting anyone but Nell to examine the carriage. 

The seats are torn from jostling splintery wooden boxes about. There are some water stains and bits of dry foodstuff. Some decoration may have been removed from the interior as well, but not as much, because it is not immediately visible to passerby. 

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Glint nods, frowning. He shifts into a large grey wolf as you enter and sniffs about curiously. 

If anything, the inside is even fancier than the outside, with dyed fabrics and gilt inner frames. The padded bench is quite comfortable, though stained and torn in places. A faint floral scent lingers, mixed with a stronger odor of wooden crates and boxes. A flat indentation in the empty seat reveals where those boxes might have been stored. A few crumbs of dry foodstuff litter the floor. The conveyance clearly wasn't made to carry travel supplies, but it seems to have been used that way. 

Glint returns to human form. "Smells like one person used it recently, and someone else used it regularly before that. Might be Crexin household, I've smelled them before. Whoever it was, they didn't bother to buy a real wagon. This is a city carriage." 

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None. 

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"Maybe they were leaving in a hurry? And I guess didn't want to be recognized."

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Prota speculates aloud about the motives of the carriage's owner. 

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You speculate, "Maybe they were leaving in a hurry? And I guess didn't want to be recognized."

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Step 75

Glint agrees with Prota's assessment. (Prota is making steps towards unraveling the mystery of Gano. Further nudging in that direction is appropriate, but should not outright give away the plot). Glint asks what might motivate someone to leave Adwell quickly and quietly, with a Crexin carriage. Glint has his own suspicions, but he wants to let Prota draw their own conclusions and decide what to do about it themselves. (As this is an optional side quest, Prota's options here should remain open-ended. Let the Player take the lead on whether and how to pursue this mystery further.) 

(If the Player gets stuck or lacks interest, Nell's return can further the story in the next step.) 

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"Sure looks like it, greenjay," nods Glint. "Now who would want to leave Adwell quickly and quietly, in a carriage formerly owned by the Crexins?" He looks sideways at you. "...and what do you suppose we might do with the information?" 

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None. 

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"I guess it might be a stolen cart?" I say. "But that doesn't tell me who by."

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Prota supposes the carriage may have been stolen. 

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"I guess it might be a stolen cart?" you suggest. "But that doesn't tell me who by."

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Step 76

Prota's hypothesis is a credible one, though untrue. Would it be too much of a giveaway to have Glint propose an alternative? Not necessarily; Glint might say "if it wasn't stolen, then someone from the Crexin household may have escaped..." Glint is aware that looters may have gone through the Crexin household after Sebastine ousted them. It may even have been a motivating factor to some members of the uprising. In Glint's mind, then, the two most likely possibilities are: the carriage was looted or stolen, or it belongs to a member of the Crexin household. If the carriage was stolen, then stealing it back might be defensible. It has less value on the trail than in a city, but could still be sold for some coin. No one in Adwell is likely to prosecute the thieves, if the rumors about Sebastine are true. On the other hand, if it belongs to a household member, Sebastine may offer a reward for their capture - but do they deserve what Sebastine might do to them? Ultimately, Glint wants to let Prota decide. Prota has not yet decided on a course of action, so Glint can repeat his query, once. 

(If the Player does not bite, the story moves on. There will be other opportunities to encounter Gano or the imprisonment sub-plot in Adwell.)

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"That it might," agrees Glint. "In an uprising like this, there'd be quite a bit of theft and looting of the Crexin estate. Might even have been part of the deal, to bring in support for the rebellion. If that's the case, hard to see anyone in Adwell's new regime caring much. And the thief couldn't exactly complain if their looted goods were to...disappear. On the other hand, if it weren't stolen..." Glint lowers his voice. "...then someone from the Crexin household may have escaped the killings. If Sebastine's as cunning as they say, he'll offer a reward for their recapture, even for information about where they've gone. Whether their crime was corruption or merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time...well, hard to say. Either way, this could turn out to be a useful discovery. 

"Question is - what do you want to do about it?" 

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None.

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"I'm not going to turn somebody in for escaping being murdered," I say. "I don't even really want to find such a person, I hope they get away clean."

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Prota does not want to turn in an escapee. They have said nothing about the thief possibility.

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"I'm not going to turn somebody in for escaping being murdered," you say. "I don't even really want to find such a person, I hope they get away clean."

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Step 77

Glint is of a similar mind about the escapee scenario, and is proud of Prota. However, Prota has not yet expressed a preference about their thief hypothetical. (It may feel awkward to end this conversation without addressing Prota's original guess.) Glint wonders how Prota wants to handle finding a stolen vehicle. Glint's sense of justice is strong, but as punishments go he is more inclined to mischief than cruelty, at least for a crime of this magnitude. 

Prota may decide it's not worth pursuing because they don't know the truth. (This, too, is an acceptable outcome. The Player can choose what elements of the world to engage with. Alternative hooks can be established in the market and visiting Glint's other contacts.) 

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Glint nods slowly, a faint smile crinkling his eyes. "Aye, greenjay. I do agree. And what if your guess is right, and it's just a plunderer taking advantage of the chaos and death?" 

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None. 

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"Well, I guess that would be good to know if we found that out for sure and we could avoid them, but we're not here to track down thieves."

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Prota prefers to avoid the vehicle's owner. 

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You answer, "Well, I guess that would be good to know if we found that out for sure and we could avoid them, but we're not here to track down thieves."

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Step 78

Prota has decided to avoid the carriage's owner for now. Glint, experienced and somewhat brash, is mildly disappointed that he doesn't get to collar a thief, but respects Prota's judgment. This is a good time for Nell to complete her examination of the cart and return to the conversation. She trusts Glint and will not be upset that Prota looked over the carriage. Nell repairing its tongue and replacing the wheels with something more suited to travel. 

Nell announces that Prota's cart is woodworm-free. She will offer modifications, but not at much of a discount; she still has to make a living, after all. Prota can decide whether to spend some of their coin on improvements. What improvements are available? Thicker wheels, a sturdier axle or a spare. Collective changes that allow the cart to hold a bit more and make it less likely to get stuck. Plausibly, Nell also takes trade-ins, though a new cart might be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. 

Nell asks how long they plan to stay. This serves the dual purpose of making small talk and finding out how much time she might be able to make with Glint. (The next prompt is long enough without also adding in this factor. The Player seems to prefer responding to one question or request for input at a time. Nell's question can wait for the following prompt.) 

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Glint nods understanding. "Alright, greenjay. Your call."

He turns to see Nell approaching, holding a ream of notes. "Found the fancy one, you did," she laughs. "I'm giving it new wheels and some repairs that'll make it more suitable for the hard road. That thing's about as travel-ready as a pair of bedroom slippers, as 'tis. 

"Your cart is woodworm-free, I'm pleased to say, though it could do with a sturdier axle and thicker wheels. If you want a cart that's less likely to stick in the Utannic mud or crack under that load of pots, I can offer you a fair price!" 

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None. 

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"I don't know if we want to spend that much time here getting parts swapped out," I demur.

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Prota respectfully declines. 

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"I don't know if we want to spend that much time here getting parts swapped out," you demur.

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Step 79

Nell takes pride in her work, and thinks she could do the job in a few days. (It would be counterproductive to make the Player repeat their choice.) Nell will keep the offer on the table, but accept Prota's refusal, possibly with a nudge from Glint. (This is a good segue into asking how long they plan to stay). As this is a pilgrimage, the likeliest answer is a night or two. [Migrants like Clan Pratchett do not necessarily move every day.] Longer than that, and Clan Pratchett may move on, in the wrong direction for Prota. Glint will leave the choice up to Prota, but his response should give the Player something to anchor on. The conversation can also reveal some facts about the migrants' travel habits. 

(The conversation should not drown out Prota's ability to respond to the core prompt, the question about stay duration.) 

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"Oh, it wouldn't take but a few days!" Nell insists. Glint coughs, and she deflates a bit. "Bah. Well, if you change your mind you know where to find me. How long do you plan to stay?" 

Glint looks in your direction. "A night or three, perhaps. It's Emerald's call. Is the clan moving soon?" 

Nell shrugs. "This is a good spot. Might stay here a week or so more, feed the sheep before we pack it all up again." 

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[Clan Pratchett will stay in place for about a week more.]

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"Probably just tonight unless we wind up with trading that takes longer to button up. How do you move all these carts at once when you have to move?"

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[Prota tentatively plans to stay at the Clan Pratchett encampment for one night.] Prota asks how Nell moves her extra carts. 

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You reply, "Probably just tonight unless we wind up with trading that takes longer to button up." Then you ask Nell, "How do you move all these carts at once when you have to move?"

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Step 80

Nell is disappointed by the short stay, but tries not to show it. She answers Prota's question about the carts. How does Nell move them? Most likely, she only takes work on the road that she can accomplish in an evening. Longer tasks require downtime. Nell typically makes sure the in-progress carts are road-ready, even if empty or incomplete, and rents some draft animals from the other clansfolk to keep them moving, or returns the wagons to their owners. The simplest way to avoid being responsible for multiple carts is to finish any work before the next migration. 

How do the clansfolk decide when to move? Clan government is likely informal, but they need a way to make decisions that affect everyone. Elites could decide, or they might vote. In the case of Clan Pratchett, the option most suiting their theme is that they vote as a collective how long to stay at a given location, and can sometimes vote whether to change their planned move date. Some political arguments are unavoidable, but they mostly agree on when to move. [Clan Pratchett determines when to migrate by community vote. Less broadly impactful decisions may be handled by clan leaders with sufficient pull.] Glint should know at least one clan leader, since he would have made a point to know someone in power. As one of the more involved and charismatic contacts, Brenelo fits. [Brenelo is one of several de facto leaders in Clan Pratchett.] 

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"Oh," murmurs Nell, looking a bit disappointed. "Well, you're welcome to stay as long as you like. I've got space by the carts no one's using." 

Your question about business cheers her a bit. "Oh, mostly I don't. I just fix 'em up and return 'em to their owners before the next migration. If I'm working on a long-term project, I make sure it's road-ready or put the pieces in a larger wagon and rent some draft animals for the trip. Empty carts are easy to move - don't get weighed down so much. On the road, I take quick-fixer jobs and emergency work. Replacing broken bits for stuck clansfolk and the like. Pays well, if unreliably." She winks. "Being the best 'n' fastest fixer in the clan helps." 

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None.

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"I bet it does!"

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Prota is talking to Nell. 

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"I bet it does!" you reply to Nell. 

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Step 81

For the time being, Prota seems to have no further questions for Nell. (It may be time to move on. The prompt should remind the Player what their options are.) Prota has not yet met Brenelo, Jerome, or Matiar, or visited the market. This reminder can fold into a comment by Glint. Nell would be willing to watch their cart and Beldry, but they may want to bring both if they go to the market. (To create a small amount of tension, they might not have time to see everyone and the market before dusk.) Prota will have to choose. However, that depends on how realistic it is for their errands to take multiple hours. For now, a passing comment by Glint is enough to make the point. 

(As a minor character-building moment and a segue into the next topic, Glint compliments Nell.) Is this co-opting Prota's conversation? No, the previous prompt sufficiently acknowledged their small talk and answered their question. Prota's last statement does not demand a response or significant reaction from the other characters. 

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"Best fixer gree of Blue, more like," Glint adds, eyes twinkling. "Prettiest, too." Nell blushes furiously. 

Glint leans back against the carriage. "I wish we had more time to chat, but we've still got a lot of Pratch to visit before dusk. Emerald still hasn't properly met Brenelo, Jerome, Matiar, or the Pratchworks..." he trails off at Nell's scowl. "...because we made sure to visit you first!" your uncle adds hastily. 

"And last," Nell responds, in a tone that brooks no argument. Glint nods meekly. 

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[The colloquial expression "gree of Blue" is often used to refer to the entire world. The Pratchworks is another name for the Clan Pratchett market.] 

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"I want to check out the market," I say, nodding.

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Prota decides to visit the market next. 

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"I want to check out the market," you say, nodding.

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Step 82

Glint shows Prota where to find the market. The prompt should give an overview of the sights, sounds, and smells in the Pratchworks. (Themes to emphasize: boisterous, colorful, busy, diverse, overwhelming.) Nell will offer to keep an eye on Beldry and the cart after they visit the market. As someone who frequently works with carts and draft animals, she has a decent idea of how to handle Beldry. Specific vendors that may interest Prota: pottery for price comparison, magically or mundanely condensed trail rations, wool, livestock, ranged weapons or other self-defense tools. 

Other features: entertainers performing feats of skill, artists showing off their work, herders with prize animals, a herd dog breeder. Delicious smells wafting from firepits. Less-than-delicious smells wafting from behind wagons. Scavengers skulking about for scraps. Music played on small and medium instruments. Vendors shouting and bartering.

(Prota may encounter one or more story hooks in the market.) What could arise? A dead animal reanimating under Nimue's Rot? No - too far from the Llerwood, and too unlikely. News or items from Greward and Bluward? A vendor selling magically-nutritious vegetables grown in the Wellspring Oasis, a clue that the previous severe restrictions on overuse have been lifted in preparation for the coming migration. Something making the two towns distinct from one another; grain from Greward, magical trinkets from Bluward. [Greward focuses on magical agriculture, while Bluward artisans use herbs found in the Oasis for alchemical creations.] The Oasis must have been a creation of someone with magic; perhaps they died long ago and the Oasis is now much closer to the Blue than it used to be. [Greward and Bluward are old cities, and the bounty of the Wellspring Oasis has kept them in the same place for centuries.] 

(The prompt should remind the Player about the implications of Oasis overuse; they might not remember the details from many prompts ago.) 

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"Then to the market we go," your uncle nods as you return to the cart. 

"I imagine you'll want to keep that cart with you while you browse," Nell states, "but if you want somewhere to keep your supplies after that, the clanfolk know better than to mess with my part of camp." She scratches gently behind Beldry's ears. Remarkably, he doesn't try to bite her head off. "And I've got a way with draft animals." 

According to Glint, the Clan Pratchett market is easy to find: "Just follow the noise." This proves to be sound advice. Before long, you reach the outskirts of the Pratchworks, a dense maze of carts, tents, and cookpits in every imaginable color, filled with cheerfully howling vendors. 

"Herd dogs, finest breeds gree of Blue! Look at this pup go!" 

"What'll I play next, folks? How about 'The Welligan Wosner's Wake'?" 

"Arrows, bolts, javelins, fine sling stones! Get your sharps and smacks here!" 

"Greward Wellcarrots, healthy and nutritious!" 

"Genuine potions from Bluward alchemists!" 

These last two are surprising. You've heard of the twin cities' reputation for growing magical plants and herbs in the Wellspring Oasis, but their sale is usually tightly controlled to prevent overuse. Perhaps the rumors about reduced regulation are true. 

There are potters, herders, artists and artisans, weavers and leatherworkers, weaponsmiths, kebab-cookers, dancers, musicians, and vendors selling condensed trail rations at prices ranging from "steep" to "exorbitant". Delicious smells waft from cookpots, and less-than-delicious smells from behind wagons and tents. A few stray dogs, cats, and other scavengers poke about the fringes, eager to seize any dropped scrap. 

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[Wellcarrots are a type of magically nutritious vegetable grown in the Oasis by Greward farmers.] 

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I look at what the potions are advertised to do, and check the prices of the pottery.

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Prota wants to know the effects of the potions and the price of the pottery. Some of the potions may be labeled and others may not. Similar for the pottery prices. This was not made clear in previous prompts, but nor was it contradicted. It may be assumed that Prota asks the vendors for the prices. 

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Not all of the products are clearly labeled. You browse and ask around until you have a good idea of the potions' effects and the going rates for various kinds of pottery. 

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Step 83

Prota needs to know some potion effects. (This is a worldbuilding opportunity, even if prices are outside Prota's range.) What sort of effects make sense for alchemical concoctions aided by magic? (Potions are not intended to be extremely powerful in this world compared to magics. The effects should be minor to modest in scope.) Possible alchemical concoctions, from fantasy or gaming, or unique effects: heal wounds, treat various poisons or diseases, stick to things, dissolve things, seal cracks, cover wounds, prevent infection, grant a person minor temporary abilities. Night vision, surviving without air or water for a time, increased strength. Poisons. Cures for minor illnesses, including hangovers. Birth control. Painkillers. Heating or cooling. Glowing. Paints and dyes. Drinks that temporarily render someone unable to use magic. Perfumes and scent blockers. Painful or irritating powders. [Alchemy can produce potions, salves, or pastes. There is a quick-dry salve that seals wounds, sometimes used by those sacrificing body parts to the Blue.] 

(The goal is not to create additional bookkeeping for the Player.) Exact prices need not be tracked. Prices should, however, be consistently understandable for the Player. [Valid price buckets are "negligible", a tiny fraction of Prota's available funds; "cheap", a small but noticeable portion, perhaps 1-5%; "modest", or less than half Prota's coin; or "expensive", more than half of Prota's coin. What items fall in each bucket may change if Prota gains more wealth.] The prompt should make these price ranges clear to Prota when applicable. 

How much coin does Prota have? They have savings from a few years of planning, plus a bit donated by their clan. But the migrants generally use barter more than coin. Prota's quantity is enough to buy supplies for their several-month journey, plus some extra. A skilled artisan in a city might make the same sum in a month before expenses. Unskilled labor might need a year for the same price. Migrants tend to have minimal income with sudden spikes from selling livestock, so this is the equivalent of several years' income for Prota. For comparison, Glint's wages on a typical escort job would be approximately those of a skilled city artisan or modestly useful magic. (Glint should have some resources of his own, but they should not overshadow Prota's own, nor make an appearance outside of emergencies.) [Glint has a bit more coin than Prota, and sometimes carries healing salves for emergencies, but he does not hoard coin and his resources are running low after his previous injuries. He can, however, buy his own food when not foraging.] 

Potions are modest to expensive in price, with most being a significant chunk of Prota's available coin. Barter is common as well. (Pottery prices should reflect the in-world situation and follow a motivating reward curve for the Player.) Pottery in this camp is about average in price. Prota could sell Feldspar's pottery for about the expected amount, not making a profit for themselves but having more coin on hand. Or they could sell it for a higher price in the cities farther bluse, where many skilled artisans are already leaving. It has already been established that Prota knows the rough value of Feldspar's pottery. 

What is a realistic value for Feldspar's pottery? Each item represents one to two weeks of skilled magical work, though not full-time. Items can bake or dry in batches. All six items collectively took about a month. The sum total value would be close to Prota's current wealth. 

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Potions and other Wellspring concoctions vary significantly in effect. There are pastes meant to seal cracked wood or make it watertight, and rapid-setting salves to quickly staunch bleeding or prevent infection. Some pastes purportedly glow, or turn warm or cold when mixed, and a few can start fires or freeze something solid. There are medicines and tinctures of varying strengths, and in the shadier sections of the Pratchworks, even some poisons. Your medical supplies contain a tiny quantity of Wellspring medicines already, but only for the most common and severe ailments. You also see hallucinatory potions, trance-inducing dried herbs, headache cures and other pain-soothers, glues and solvents, and some exotic effects like night vision, strength boosts, or temporary survival without water or breath. There are drinks that cause or prevent vomiting or, curiously, that prevent someone from using magic for a time. There are powders that negate odors or that cause pain, itching, or irritation; most seem dubiously useful, but a vendor assures you that they can deter many wild animals. And, of course, a wide variety of perfumes, paints, and dyes. Most represent at least a modest expense, and a few are beyond your current means. 

It's a bit hard to gauge prices, with the Pratchworks as focused on barter as it is. Several vendors make their starting offer in sheep rather than coin. In general, though, pottery seems a bit higher in value here than in your clan. Your best guess is that it fetches still higher prices in the city. By comparison, your Great-Aunt Feldspar's pottery is a rare and useful resource even this close by, and the vessels can be traded individually or as a set. Selling all of it would just about double your current wealth, if you find a buyer. You wouldn't make a profit on the trade, after subtracting what Feldspar expected to receive for it, but you would have the coin on hand. There might be someone willing to trade for it, as well. 

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[Known Wellspring effects include: glues, seals, wound-closing salves, glowing, warming, burning, cooling, freezing, various medicines, poisons, recreational drugs, pain-soothers, night vision, strength, survival without water or breath, emetics, antiemetics, magic suppression, pain powders, perfumes, paints, and dyes. Prota has a few minor medicines for common and severe ailments in their supplies.] 

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Since we used some salve on the gallowgale wound, I look for possible replacements.

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Prota looks for healing salve similar to what they used on the gallowgale wound. 

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You look for something to replace your healing salve. 

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Step 84

Healing salve is available, and due to the lowered restrictions, it will actually be cheaper than usual. Because it is normally so valuable, however, it will still be costly to replace. How much? Treating it as similar in time investment to Feldspar's pottery, the approximate value of a standard container of salve would be a week's skilled labor. The distance it must travel from Bluward balances the cost reduction from increased production, so treat that as net zero change. The cost is about a quarter of Prota's funds. However, Prota only used about half their stock, so they could buy a smaller amount to replenish. 

Would Prota be able to find a vendor who sells this salve for straight coin rather than barter? Yes, it is a common enough purchase that vendors would be prepared to take coin. However, barter is preferred in the Pratchworks. A hint in this direction would be that the salves and other concoctions are often stored in fragile containers. Prota has an urn, two large jugs, and the set of plates and bowls. A bowl could double as a salve container and an urn or jug could be used to store bulk liquids. 

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It's easy enough to locate a few different kinds of woundweal salve, including one that looks identical to your stock. The prices seem a bit low, perhaps a result of lowered export restrictions in Bluward. You estimate replenishing your lost supply would cost about an eighth of your current funds, a modest expense. 

Most of the concoctions come in small wooden boxes, glass vials, or clay pots. But while browsing, you notice some of the liquids and pastes are stored in larger bulk containers, a few of which look more fragile than might strictly be wise. Given how gleefully the Pratchwork vendors barter, you might be able to make a worthwhile trade on some of your Great-Aunt's quality urns, jugs, or bowls in this part of the market. 

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[Woundweal is a type of healing salve.]

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I try to catch the eye of the vendor selling the same kind of woundweal so I'll be able to mix them together without an issue. "Where do you get your containers?" I ask.

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Prota approaches the vendor selling the woundweal similar to theirs. Prota asks where the vendor gets containers for salves and other concoctions. 

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You approach the vendor selling the woundweal similar to yours. When you successfully catch her attention, you ask, "Where do you get your containers?" 

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Step 85

Most small containers come with the salves. The larger containers might be re-used or re-filled from time to time, and the vendor probably traded for them in the Pratchworks or got them with purchases in Bluward. Some vendors also work part-time to make their own non-Wellspring medicines, and have some need for small containers to package their own product. This is one such vendor. She is focused mostly on medical supplies. 

How willing might this vendor be to share this information? It's not particularly sensitive and there's no obvious angle to deception. The vendor is more interested in selling her wares than protecting container purchases, so she will build goodwill by answering honestly. 

(How else can this interaction be fleshed out?) Reference the market noise or the features of the vendor. A middle-aged woman with streaks of dark grey in her brown hair and prominent laugh lines. Glad to build rapport in the service of sale, but not inclined to banter otherwise without cause. Further reference the tendency of Pratchworks vendors to deal in a variety of goods, where medicine and alcohol might be lumped together under one stall.  

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The vendor, a middle-aged woman with streaks of dark grey in her brown hair and prominent laugh lines, looks you over before replying. "Most come with the merchants I buy medicine from," she responds over the din. "And the rest I get here and there. Mostly here," she adds with a grin, gesturing widely to encompass all of the Pratchworks. "To hold the medicine I make myself. 

"You interested in any of the contents?" she adds. "If so, you came to the right place. Best balms gree of Blue! And a little something for the road, too, if that's what you be needin'." She jabs a thumb towards a row of tall jugs, a bit large for medicine, but the perfect size for distilled spirits. 

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None. 

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"I gave away half my woundweal and I'd like to restock. I have the coin for it, but you might also want a jar - I have magic ones, much sturdier."

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Prota is speaking to the vendor. By "jar", Prota presumably means either a large jug, urn, or one of the bowls. 

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"I gave away half my woundweal and I'd like to restock," you say to the vendor. "I have the coin for it, but you might also want a jar - I have magic ones, much sturdier."

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Step 86

The notion of giving away woundweal might elicit some snark from the vendor, but she is interested in the trade. She asks to see the magic jars. 

The Player should be informed that the larger vessels are worth a bit more than half a container of woundweal. Individual plates and bowls from the set are worth less. 

The vendor looks for ways to de-emphasize the value of the jars, so she can offer less in trade. Not recognizing Prota as a repeat customer, she applies the "foreign traveler discount" and bargains hard. To what extent would Prota notice this behavior? Prota should know the approximate value of the goods they carry, and of the woundweal because it is part of their own supplies. Prota will not necessarily catch the exact behavior, but they will notice if the final deal seems one-sided. (The Player, who may or may not recognize shenanigans when they see it, should be informed of everything relevant that Prota knows.) The Player may also be reminded that Beldry and the cart are nearby. 

Where is Glint during this exchange? Likely browsing and watching for thieves. 

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"Well, I'm happy to profit from your generosity," she remarks. "Magic jars, you say? Mind if I take a look?" 

You estimate that based on size alone, the two jugs and the urn are worth a fair bit more than half a container of woundweal, and might fetch additional supplies in barter if you so choose. Plates and bowls from the set are worth less than that per piece, but much more for all of them. Of course, barter is an uncertain art. 

Behind you, still hitched to the cart, Beldry flicks an ear. Your uncle is browsing the stalls nearby; he promised to keep an eye out for thieves, as well. 

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None. 

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I produce a jug. "It'd probably want a little something extra on top of the woundweal," I remark.

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Prota shows off one of the jugs for the vendor. Prota begins to bargain. 

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You show the vendor one of the larger water jugs, and start bargaining. "It'd probably want a little something extra on top of the woundweal."

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Step 87

Prota is not an accomplished haggler, but they have lived among migrants for some time and can be assumed to have at least a working experience. The main barrier may be uncertainty of the value of various items within the Pratchworks, since Prota has not been here before. The vendor will try to conceal her interest in the magic container, pointing out that woundweal is valuable and there's been more demand for it since the weirdness in Adwell and the south started. This is partly true, but the supply has also increased as well. (The Player does not need to be reminded of the list of available wares, since it was recently described, but the Player should be prompted to specify what Prota might want.)

As an alternative, the vendor might offer Prota a smuggling job. (Is that a realistic offer given the assumptions?) No - if the vendor is treating Prota as a one-time customer, she has little reason to trust them with smuggling. Most smuggling relationships would be with trusted repeat customers with good reputation among the Pratch. In addition, specific commissions across towns are uncommon. It is easier for smugglers to bring goods into town, then find a buyer afterwards. That state of affairs does assume some kind of established black market exists, with a means of gathering and/or communicating between buyers and sellers. [Most large towns and cities have at least one meeting place for black market deals.] 

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"I dunno," she replies shrewdly, looking over the jug. "I got some decent storage already, and with what's been going on at Adwell and the Llerwood, woundweal is a mighty good seller these days. I could offer a slight discount if you see anything else you like...?" She gestures at the neat array of medicines and concoctions in the stall. 

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None. 

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"Well, I'm going to the Blue and could use the state of the art in treatments for Blue injuries, for pain and bleeding," I say. "At only a slight discount maybe I should just pay in coin, though, I think the pottery will sell really well somewhere."

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Prota asks about treatments for body parts severed by the Blue, particularly to stop bleeding and dull pain. They also haggle indirectly by offering coin instead. 

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"Well, I'm going to the Blue and could use the state of the art in treatments for Blue injuries, for pain and bleeding," you say. "At only a slight discount maybe I should just pay in coin, though, I think the pottery will sell really well somewhere."

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Step 88

The vendor does want the pottery and knows they underbid at first. One counteroffer should not end the haggling process. (In particular, showing a seeming delight in haggling helps add character to the Pratchworks and its vendors. However, there is no need to tie down the Player with an extended haggling sequence.) After the initial exchange, the next post can summarize the process and its end results. For a large magical jug, it is reasonable that Prota receive a few doses each of painkiller and wound-staunching paste. (The semi-magical concoctions should have names and descriptions that make them interesting and memorable.) The wound glue can be "severstaunch", a red-grey paste in a small wooden box. The painkiller can be "syrup of Khelo", a clear liquid in a tiny glass vial. The syrup may have side effects, as many painkillers do. What sort of side effects might attach to a semi-magical or alchemical painkiller? Drowsiness, addiction, dulling of senses, numbness from excess potency. Go with dulling of senses and numbness - they seem the most unusual, yet are natural consequences of magically potent painkillers. [Severstaunch seals bleeding wounds of any size. Syrup of Khelo is a painkiller.]

Since it is unlikely that the jug's value exactly balances the three purchased medicines, a small quantity of coin might be needed as well. Prota should receive an opportunity to approve the final deal. (Rather than make the Player waste an action on just approving an agreed-upon deal, it may also help to hint that the Player may choose their next step as well.) Prota has already looked at the items that explicitly interested them, so their next step is unclear. (Glint's character can be used as a reminder of the broader market and the rest of the camp.) What might Glint be browsing for? Herd animals - not his immediate concern. Small items to smuggle. A gift for Nell, perhaps perfume, in which he feels awkward and out of his depth. Smuggling can wait for the visit with Matiar, if it occurs; Glint is browsing for a gift. Regardless, he keeps alert, and keeps Prota in sight. 

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"I suppose I could throw in some syrup of Khelo..." the vendor counters, sensing a challenge. After a considerable back-and-forth that puts your clan-taught haggling skills to the test, you reach what seems to be a reasonable trade: one water jug and a small quantity of silver in exchange for the woundweal, a small wooden box of red-grey severstaunch paste, and a tiny glass vial filled with syrup of Khelo. "Careful with that last," warns the vendor cheerily, pointing at the vial of clear liquid. "One drop will dull most pain. Two drops dulls the senses too. Three drops and you won't be able to feel anything for half a day." There are only a few doses of each, but it's enough for the Blue and a bit extra. "Whaddaya say?" 

Behind you, never out of sight, your uncle browses the stalls. Over the bleating of sheep and vendors, you hear him arguing with a perfumer, of all things. 

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[Syrup of Khelo can numb senses to an extreme if overdosed.] 

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"Sounds good to me," I say. "Pleasure doing business with you."

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Prota agrees to the trade. 

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"Sounds good to me," you agree. "Pleasure doing business with you."

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Step 89

Prota completes the trade. [Prota loses one magic water jug. Prota now has a full stock of woundweal, a few doses of severstaunch, and a small vial of syrup of Khelo.] Where might Prota go from here? Purchase livestock, visit another of Glint's friends, continue browsing the market, or another action of the Player's choice. These options can arise naturally in conversation with Glint. 

Glint has been haggling with a perfumer to get something for Nell. If he is to converse with Prota, he must first conclude his business. His demeanor indicates agitation, but Prota may not know the difference between an embarrassed Glint and an upset one. (Properly phrased, Glint's actions could seem suspicious, as though purchasing something to smuggle. This could pose an interesting side mystery for the Player if they wish to investigate, and set up a reversal when Glint's actual smuggling side jobs come up later. Glint's prompting should not be framed as a dilemma, but as an open-ended question that hints at possible options.) 

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You make the trade, lightening your cart a bit in the process. 

Not far away, Glint seems to be concluding a trade of his own. He passes over some coin to a vendor and pockets a vial of something, then knuckles over to join you, red-faced and grumbling. "...ah, I see you've made your first trade at the Pratchworks. Congratulations. Where to next, greenjay? I've still got some folks to meet, but there's no rush if you'd like to see more of the market." 

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[Glint bought a perfume for Nell.]

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"Well, I admit I'm very tempted by the kabobs, but I think I've spent enough money for now," I say. "Who're you meeting?"

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Prota implies they are done browsing for now. 

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"Well, I admit I'm very tempted by the kabobs, but I think I've spent enough money for now," you answer. "Who're you meeting?"

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Step 90

The person closest to the market is Matiar, the trader. She also sometimes sells items banned in cities and commissions Glint or others to smuggle them in. The prompt can proceed to the meeting with her. She scowls at Glint at first because of the deal that went awry, but Glint doesn't know what happened yet. He will be cheerful in his approach. 

[Matiar is an experienced trader with ties to the black market in several towns. She is decent in a fight and familiar with dangerous tasks, but has no magic. She has a scar on one eye from previous encounters on the road. She is mostly retired from long traveling trade, preferring to run the trading and smuggling network she's built up, but she still makes occasional trips to grow her network.] 

(Matiar's stall can mirror some of her features.) A wagon with practical tools and a shadowed interior. To further complete the threatening image, Matiar has a knife she's using to whittle. 

(How should the scene play out?) Matiar's anger at Glint is not yet understood by the Player. (Is there a way for the Player to engage with this scene?) Prota's presence might soften Matiar. She would not expect Glint to show up with a relative at all, let alone after stiffing her. Prota may be able to help defuse the tension somewhat. This requires that they prompt end on a tense note. It is okay to begin with a note of confusion, because this is an unpleasant surprise. 

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"Matiar's set up nearby," your uncle responds. "Tough as nails, that woman, and she knows every market within a hundred leagues of here inside and out, including the ones that don't exist. I ran jobs for her back in the day, so we're on good terms. I like to check in whenever I'm around, swap rumors and the like." 

Glint leads you past several colorful stalls and hawkers to an ancient but sturdy wagon bristling with weaponry, tools, and trail supplies. Canvas drapes over the frame, leaving the farther depths shadowed, as though anything at all might be inside. A grey-haired woman sits on the driving bench, whittling a block of yellow wood with a keen-edged bone-hilt dagger. 

"Hoy, Matiar," calls out Glint, swinging forward to the base of the wagon. "I'd like you to meet my niece, Emerald -"

The woman starts, then scowls at your uncle. "Glint, you gnarled old wastrel," she bites out, waving her whittling knife an inch from his nose. "How dare you show up here after that stunt you pulled!" 

Glint draws back in shock. 

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None. 

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"Wow, Uncle Glint, what did you do, hide in her shoes shaped like a scorpion?" I says, giggling nervously.

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Prota is half-joking. Prota may be trying to defuse the situation with humor. 

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"Wow, Uncle Glint, what did you do, hide in her shoes shaped like a scorpion?" you say, giggling nervously.

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Step 91

Glint is too nonplussed to appreciate it right now, but he would consider Prota's idea a potentially interesting prank. After mulling it over later, he might decide it's a bit too dangerous given how vulnerable scorpions are to crushing. [In casual conversation, Glint may later bring up Prota's idea to hide in someone's shoes in scorpion form, as a joke.] 

In the moment, Glint says he doesn't know what he did. Matiar jogs his memory by referencing "the Dagrelin job". [The Dagrelins were a wealthy family who wanted goods smuggled to them in Greward. They were killed by bandits after Glint delivered the goods.] 

(What might give the Player agency in this scene?) Maybe Prota heard about a family called the Dagrelins who were killed by bandits. In fact, this may be a rumor they picked up from Stala. (This gives the Player a tool, but its use is too obvious. What might complicate the interaction?) Maybe Prota did not hear specifically that they were killed by bandits, only that they set out along the Llerwood Way weeks ago. Is it realistic for Stala to have heard this rumor in Adwell? Possibly, if the Dagrelins were well-known enough for their departure from Greward to be the subject of gossip in gree-bound caravans. 

[Something induced the Dagrelins to leave Greward early. They may have left something behind, such as an abandoned home. What they did not sell or bring may be looted, but it could be a point of interest.] 

What set of circumstances led to Glint being blamed for non-delivery instead of the Dagrelins for non-payment? The family had an arrangement with Matiar whereby they would send a courier with half payment for a job, then send the second payment when the job was done. Matiar trusted the Dagrelins in this arrangement, but doesn't know they left Greward in a rush. She thinks they didn't receive the delivery. Why would Stala know the Dagrelins left, but Matiar not? Perhaps something happened to her go-between in Adwell during the uprising, and she's not getting the usual messages. She might not have met someone else visiting Clan Pratchett who knew about the Dagrelins and/or Matiar might not have asked that specific question. It should still come as a shock to her that she somehow missed the news. [One of Matiar's contacts in Adwell is missing, and might be found by Prota later.] (The Dagrelins may have left Greward, but this is still a fairly obvious logical leap. Can a more subtle approach be found?) Maybe Stala only heard the Dagrelins were selling off their furniture and preparing for a trip. Another piece of this puzzle can come from Prota - there are other Dagrelins in Orlake. 

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"I wish I knew," Glint gulps. 

"Is that right," snarls Matiar. "Thought you could get away with stiffing me, eh? Payment for the Dagrelin job never came through, Glint! Did you think you could walk away with the delivery? They never leave debts unpaid!" 

The name jogs something in your memory; during your conversation with Stala and his family, the traveler from Adwell mentioned the rumor that a wealthy and influential Greward family had started selling off their property as if preparing for an early migration. According to Stala, this was months ago. You're fairly sure "Dagrelin" was the name of the family. Come to think of it, you've also heard the name in the context of Orlake to the set - a smaller branch family, perhaps? 

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None. 

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"You were supposed to be delivering something to some Dagrelins? Which Dagrelins?" I ask Glint.

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Prota attempts to clarify whether Glint was working for the Orlake branch, Greward branch, or a different family by the same name. 

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"You were supposed to be delivering something to some Dagrelins? Which Dagrelins?" you ask Glint.

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Step 92

Glint was delivering to the Dagrelins in Greward. He answers truthfully, albeit confused. His face is still inches from Matiar's knife. (Tension and humor can come from Glint nearly cutting himself when he turns to reply to Prota). 

Matiar doesn't know Prota and has no grudge against them. She will wait, briefly, to see where this leads. 

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"Big Greward family," Glint responds, nearly nicking his nose on the knife as he shifts. "And I did deliver it!" 

Matiar shoots you a quizzical look. 

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None. 

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"And they... didn't pay Matiar after? - Matiar if Uncle Glint was the one who cheated you wouldn't he have avoided you -"

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Prota asks with some uncertainty if the Dagrelins were supposed to pay and didn't. Prota also points out that Glint would not have approached Matiar if he had deliberately ripped her off. The grammar used indicates a rapid-fire response. 

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You ask, "And they... didn't pay Matiar after?" To Matiar, you add quickly, "Matiar if Uncle Glint was the one who cheated you wouldn't he have avoided you?"

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Step 93

Prota makes a good point that gives Matiar pause. She clarifies the arrangement she had with the Dagrelins - half up front, the rest sent by courier upon delivery. It should be stressed that this is an unusual arrangement. By addressing Matiar directly, Prota has drawn the full attention of the trader. Emphasize Glint's role in the transaction as the deliverer of the goods, and that he was not always the one who returns with payment. 

Might Glint have gotten a receipt? Not necessarily - it is dangerous to keep a record of illegal activity. Anything that could clearly identify the Dagrelins could also be traced back to them by authorities. (In addition, a receipt would trivialize the challenge). Glint does know the family head by name, though. Glint is an active participant in the conversation, and he'll defend himself as best he can. He is incensed that Matiar was so quick to distrust him. 

The prompt can add some detail about the deal. What legal and/or illegal products might the Dagrelins order? If they were planning to leave town months ago, they might need watchbark for the road. They might have ordered more recreational substances in the past, but their focus now would be on a safe migration. 

(Prota has gotten Matiar talking rather than threatening, but further conversation is needed to fully defuse the tension.) Matiar is not yet convinced that it was the Dagrelins who stiffed her. 

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"Not if he knew what's good for him..." Matiar answers slowly, eyeing you with new interest. "Most deals are one-time," she clarifies for your benefit, "but the Dagrelins and I had an arrangement. They send a request by courier with a pre-payment, I send the goods by trusted means," she shoots a glare at your uncle, "and after receipt, they send the rest of the payment with a second courier. A courier who never came. I've not known the Dagrelins to leave a debt unpaid - " 

"And I have?" Glint retorts. "I don't know what changed, but after I gave Pietro Dagrelin his watchbark and sundries, he told me they'd handle payment the usual way. I haven't been back to Greward since." 

Matiar's eyes narrow. 

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[The head of the Dagrelin family in Greward was named Pietro.]

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"Maybe the courier got waylaid, or just sick or injured - if they didn't just decide to run off with the money - do they send whole caravans, or are we talking about individuals -"

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Prota's question may be addressing either Glint or Matiar. Their comment is aimed at suggesting a plausible alternative to Matiar. 

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"Maybe the courier got waylaid, or just sick or injured - if they didn't just decide to run off with the money - " you suggest. "Do they send whole caravans, or are we talking about individuals?"

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Step 94

How do valuable items travel between towns? Couriers generally travel alongside a well-guarded caravan - not a dedicated one, but as safe as they reasonably can expect to be. Illicit couriers may need to hide their purpose. Would caravans accept most interested travelers into their midst? Pros: safety in numbers, extra coin. Cons: risk of theft, bandit spies, or the caravan's own illicit dealings being discovered. [It is not easy to find an accepting caravan on short notice, but given a few weeks one can usually be found departing a major city or town.] 

Alternatively, someone like Glint may be used as a courier. Magic can make someone hard to ambush or pin down. Wealthy families and traders generally pick reliable couriers, but there is always risk. 

Does Matiar have a way of confirming receipt of payment? Do the Dagrelins? If Matiar never received payment, she would send word back. But that may need to pass through her contact in Adwell, who she doesn't yet know is missing. Right now, Matiar is uncertain what happened, but she does know Glint is associated with a deal that went sour and she doesn't fully trust him. 

(What other hooks or hints are available?) Matiar's focus has been on the Utannic Road, not the Llerwood. 

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"Most couriers are like me, with magic that makes them hard to pin down," Glint admits. "Or they travel with a group for safety's sake. It's not common for one to be intercepted, but it does happen. And betrayals are bad for future business." 

Matiar is frowning. "I sent word back bluse when the payment didn't arrive, but I never heard back from them either. My contact in Adwell would have told me if a big caravan got ambushed on the Utannic, though." She shakes the knife at Glint. "You're not off the hook yet, shifter." 

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None. 

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"Well, please don't stab my uncle, he's helping me make my pilgrimage," I say. "Where is Greward, again?"

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Prota is attempting to defuse tension with a lighthearted but sincere request. They also ask to be reminded of the location of Greward. (It is moderately unlikely that Prota, on their pilgrimage, would be ignorant of the geography of the region. At least in part, Prota's question may be a request by the Player to be reminded of something they haven't seen mentioned in a while.) Matiar may remark in passing about knowing one's geography being important on a pilgrimage, but the prompt should answer the Player's question regardless. 

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"Well, please don't stab my uncle, he's helping me make my pilgrimage," you remark. "Where is Greward, again?"

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Step 95

Glint is more likely than Matiar to answer Prota's question. His response should precede any others, to clarify for the Player. Matiar expresses incredulity that Prota doesn't know where one of the main cities is. (Necessary compromise between in-universe realism and respecting the Player's limitations. Matiar would not reasonably let this omission slide, and the nature of her comment can inform the Player of the relative importance of Greward, Bluward, and other cities along their chosen route - most everyone in the region is familiar with them. The comment should not be overly critical, since the Player cannot be expected to remember all relevant worldbuilding detail that has been covered.) 

Prota's bid to reduce tension, while simple, should be acknowledged. Matiar may express interest in Prota's pilgrimage. 

(On the subject of Player limitations, it has been several real-world weeks since the last prompt and Player input. The Player may also benefit from a reminder of the conversational thread. Ideally this should arise organically from conversation or elsewhere in the prompt, without appearing as blatant exposition.) Prota knows the Dagrelins lived in Greward, but not that they left. Prota suspects that a branch family lives in Orlake, greeset along the Utannic Road or the Llerwood route farther set. Prota heard from Stala, the traveler they met before Clan Pratchett's camp, that the larger Dagrelin branch was selling off possessions. 

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"Second-to-last stop on the Utannic Road, just gree of the Wellspring Oasis. We'll be there after Adwell," your uncle answers. "Pietro Dagrelin and his family are big names there." That matches what you'd heard from Stala and his migrating family - rumors that a group of Dagrelins in Greward had been selling their belongings and stocking up as if for a migration. You're fairly sure there is a branch family in Orlake, as well, farther greeset of Greward and reachable either by the Llerwood or along the Utannic Road and then turning set. 

"You're traveling to the Blue on the Utannic and you don't know Greward and Bluward? Best brush up on your geography," sniffs Matiar. "The Wellspring's bounty has kept the Twin Cities as the most prosperous settlements for a thousand leagues. They may be waning with the Blue's approach, but they ought to be on every migrant's map." Her tone is sharp, but she at least seems distracted from threatening Glint. 

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[Greward and Bluward are sometimes called the Twin Cities.]

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"Right, so, since we're going there, do you want us to check in with the folks who were supposed to pay you," I say to Matiar.

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Prota asks Matiar if she wants them to talk to the Dagrelins and find out why Matiar's payment did not arrive. Prota is assuming further defusing of hostilities with Matiar, which, while bold, may be effective in this context. 

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"Right, so, since we're going there, do you want us to check in with the folks who were supposed to pay you," you offer.

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Step 96

Matiar still isn't sure whether to trust Glint, and Prota is a relative unknown. Matiar would be happy if someone found out what happened to the Dagrelins for her, and that would absolve Glint of blame, but until that happens she remains distrustful. She grudgingly agrees to let them investigate, but won't offer Glint any new jobs until this one is resolved. [If Prota delivers proof of the Dagrelins' fate to Matiar, she will have new respect, information, and jobs for Prota and/or Glint.] It should be made clear to the Player that proof is needed, not mere rumor. [Matiar will investigate the Dagrelins separately from Prota, but will take longer to obtain clear information since she doesn't plan to visit Greward herself anytime soon. Prota will have a chance to get the info first.] 

(The conversation risks stalling from here.) What is Matiar's interest in Prota's pilgrimage, and is it enough to overcome her current negative impressions of Glint? Matiar is used to working with unsavory characters and gleaning what information she can from them. Although she does not plan to offer any sort of long-term deal, she will continue the conversation a bit longer, and may agree to a trade of goods or verifiable information. 

After the conversation, Glint hopes to visit Brenelo and/or Jerome for news and rumors of trouble, then meet Nell for dinner. 

Asking what Prota plans to sacrifice to the Blue serves Matiar because it can be a lead-in to selling supplies. (It also serves as an anchor for the Player and a reminder of their overall quest.) 

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"I suppose it can't hurt," Matiar grumbles. "But I want proof, you hear? Your uncle gets no more work from me until I know the truth of things." 

Glint nods, sighing. "Fair enough." 

"That said, business is business," the trader adds. "I've supplied many a pilgrim with many a need in my time. What are you planning to sacrifice, young'n?" 

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None. 

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"Hair and pinky fingers," I reply. "But I'm leaving open the possibility that I'll be inspired to go farther when I see what I get."

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Prota answers Matiar's question. They suggest they may sacrifice additional body parts, depending on what magic they get. This is new information about Prota's intent. [Prota might sacrifice additional body parts after learning what magic or magics they get.]

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"Hair and pinky fingers," you reply. "But I'm leaving open the possibility that I'll be inspired to go farther when I see what I get."

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Step 97

(Prota's comment about sacrificing more parts creates an opportunity for worldbuilding). Stories may exist about people who have sacrificed body parts more than once. It is widely known that sacrificing several parts in quick succession tends to give a single magic or a related set. Sacrificing several parts at different times comes with an increased chance of utterly different magics, but this is not common knowledge. 

[Possible secret world mechanism: the Blue preserves rather than destroys. Magics are an echo of the Blue's own substantial magical power, manifesting because the preserved parts are still connected to their original owner. Concurrent sacrifices are more likely to be stored together by the Blue, creating a linked magic. Sacrifices distant in time will be stored separately as the Blue advances.] Counterpoint to this possibility: humans are the only ones who have magic. A reason is needed that animals, plants, or objects do not so benefit, even if they lose parts to the Blue. Possibly, a conscious brain is needed to access a magic. Possible implication: [the Blue is one manifestation of a larger system programmed to some extent to listen for instructions from humanlike brains.] 

Matiar has not studied magics, but she has heard many stories in her lifetime. She has moderate knowledge of Blue-related and magic phenomena. (To add worldbuilding depth and a sense of discovery, mix some false information in with true. In most cases, the potential unreliability of information should be telegraphed to the Player so they do not feel blindsided.) Matiar mentions stories she's heard about people who waited a while before making a second sacrifice. 

(No explicit mention of religion has yet occurred in worldbuilding.) {Failing to mention religion may have been an oversight.} It is likely that a human society with strong ties to magical phenomena would have religious beliefs involving them. The Blue itself might be personified in some belief systems, while others treat it as a mere fact of existence, much like a forest or ocean may be treated as embodying a god, having a spirit, or simply being a feature of the environment by different cultures. Consistent with the cultural behaviors portrayed thus far: [some clans consider the pilgrimage to the Blue a holy ritual, while others treat it as a merely practical journey. Prota's clan falls on the more practical side, with a hint of suspicion and taboo from some members. The Pratch differ wildly in their opinions. Adwell, Greward, and/or Bluward may contain more established, ritualistic, and/or formalized faiths for Prota to encounter.] 

How should Matiar's reaction reflect in-universe religious beliefs? As designed, Matiar herself is a mostly practical-minded character, and chooses to engage at that level unless she needs to pander to a particularly devout customer. (Later encounters may better reflect diverse beliefs. Brenelo and/or Jerome might be religious in different ways.) [Brenelo is the sort of person who will believe in just about anything, but not really change his behavior accordingly. Jerome is quietly faithful to an established religion, perhaps one not native to the Pratch.] 

Matiar's stories should be dubiously reliable. One should involve someone who tried a second sacrifice after liking their first magic but wanting more of the same. Another should be a stretch that isn't particularly believable and is in fact quite misleading. Precognitive abilities are rare and more commonly faked than real, even in this world, so they might be mentioned. 

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"Careful with that," Matiar warns. "If you're looking for related magics, I've heard it can matter how far apart the sacrifices are in time. I once knew a fellow who sacrificed a hand and got the ability to lighten his body a hundredfold. Thought he could fly if he got a little bit more magic, so he sacrificed a foot five minutes later. Instead he got the ability to move other stuff around at range." The trader snorts. "'course, I also heard about a lady who got memory from an arm and future visions from a toenail, so who even knows how the Blue decides.

"At any rate, any supplies you be needin' for the trip? I take hard coin, unlike some parochial clods you'll meet 'round here. And I sell most anything." 

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None. 

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"I'll try to decide quick," I agree. "I think we have most of what we need, but if you have a great deal on something we could take a look."

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Prota asks if Matiar is offering a particular deal, a low price on something in particular.

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"I'll try to decide quick," you agree. "I think we have most of what we need, but if you have a great deal on something we could take a look."

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Step 98

Matiar could offer a particular deal, giving the Player a meaningful choice to make. If she does, however, it would be because she overstocked on something, not because Prota has done any particular favors. In Matiar's business, she sometimes ends up with an oversupply of valuable goods, but she's also not under much pressure from the Pratch to avoid getting caught with anything. (A deal might be offered that is relevant for worldbuilding purposes but not particularly likely to interest Prota). Matiar may also point Prota in the direction of Brenelo, for livestock or sheep products. Matiar stocks some recreational substances as well as conventional supplies. What might she have that represents an oversupply from recent migration patterns, more than typical demand, that also doesn't keep well? Some alchemical or herbal supplies, perhaps. Fish from Adwell, though it would probably be dried fish if it survived the journey to Clan Pratchett. [One possible alchemical substance is rage-plas, a strengthening agent that also temporarily impairs judgment when used. The Pratch don't have much use for it, since they don't often engage in combat, and it has a shelf life of only a month or two.] Matiar's offer should hint at, but not fully explain, its properties. Prota can investigate further if they wish. 

Skip mention of Brenelo just yet; Matiar is feeling out a potential customer. She is, at least in part, testing the waters to see how Prota reacts. 

For the most part, Prota has taken control of the conversation. (This is good, as it gives the Player agency.) Glint merely watches and listens. 

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Matiar eyes you thoughtfully. "Migrants have been bringing a bunch of dried fish up from Adwell lately," she muses, "if you're in need of cheap foodstuffs." Her voice drops to a hoarse whisper. "Got a shipment of rage-plas from Greward, too, if you're looking to defend yourself on the road. The Pratch don't quite appreciate the value of being able to throw a wagon at bandits in times of need, but lone pilgrims can do to keep a surprise or two around - don't you agree?" 

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[A dose of rage-plas can give a temporary surge of extreme strength, enough to lift and throw a modest-sized wagon.] 

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"Sounds like it'd be bad for the wagon. Dried fish sounds like a good way to supplement what we've been eating, though..."

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Prota seems to be musing aloud. They seem uninterested in the rage-plas, as expected, but intrigued by the foodstuffs. 

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"Sounds like it'd be bad for the wagon," you remark. "Dried fish sounds like a good way to supplement what we've been eating, though..."

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Step 99

Matiar can correctly interpret this as vague disinterest in the rage-plas and potential interest in the fish. Matiar will still comment on the rage-plas, but her main focus shifts to selling the fish. 

Because Prota is planning to travel towards Adwell, dried fish will be easily obtainable for the next few weeks. Prota likely knows this. (The Player can make the same judgments Prota can. No explicit mention of these facts is necessary in the prompt.) 

Matiar's prices are average for the Pratch, slightly higher than Adwell itself. Dried fish are cheap, a small percentage of Prota's current wealth. They will take up a modest amount of space on Prota's wagon. Fish are a good source of nutrition, if diversity of diet should begin to matter. 

Worldbuilding: what kind of fish and preserving process is used? Adwell primarily fishes along the river, meaning salmon, perch, trout, and other freshwater fish. Drying is easy, but salt is not necessarily plentiful to non-industrial economies. Specific magics may be able to fill some industrial gaps, for as long as the magic-user lives. The ability to evaporate water, while seemingly minor, could produce a plentiful amount of salt from a salt sea. Fish may also be smoked to preserve it and improve flavor, but this often involves salting as well as an intermediate step. [Adwell imports salt from Greward and cities to the rise. Salted fish keeps longer but is more expensive.] Dried fish may be harder to keep from spoiling, since it is more sensitive to heat and cold. Prota would know at least some of this. (The Player may not, and Prota's knowledge should be mentioned.) 

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Matiar shrugs. "You could throw a dead tree just as easily, on this stuff. But if it's mere supplies you're after, Adwell dried trout is top notch. The salted kind will keep for months." She names a few different prices for perch, trout, salmon, and a few other varieties. All are moderately cheap compared to your current purse, though you couldn't afford to eat it every meal for the whole trip. You know that dried fish needs to be kept moderately cool to avoid spoilage. Salted fish is a bit more expensive but would keep until you were well past Adwell itself. 

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None. 

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"Maybe a bit of trout. We don't have that much room, we've mostly avoided needing to use up what we brought, but I did sell some pottery."