In a bar between universes, watching the stars explode from her booth, there is a young woman drinking a steaming mug of creamy tea.
"We do not have machines that want steam to do things."
"I don't know the immediate prerequisites, maybe you're almost there. At any rate it's not magic so you can probably have them eventually."
"If you say so, but that doesn't help figure out what's next right now..."
"I wonder if anyone's ever written - hey, Bar, has anyone from one of the worlds like my immigrants are from, or if that's not concrete enough a world with electric computers or steam-powered automata and morality and physics otherwise compatible with her world, written a book called something like 'Our Entire Tech Tree Explained For The Complete Novice With Milliways Access' or anything basically similar to that?"
There are novelty books for time travelers but I can't find any that assume Milliways access.
"...I would like one of those and if it doesn't explain the mechanics of time travel I'd also like a book that does."
Pardon me, the novelty books for time travelers are mostly intended for people who enjoy thinking about time traveling despite having no reason to expect they will ever do so. I don't have any time travel books that I would expect to generalize to your situation. But here's How To Invent Everything.
"Well, that seems useful, I think I want this once you've copied it," he says, offering it to Kaja. "Anyway, heaters are waiting on us being sure we know what we want from my world but anti-zombie wards are just waiting on you finding the objects you want me to anchor them on and paying me."
"What kind of objects work? I don't have a lot of stuff on me, it'll have to be something I can get in bulk from Bar - and what do you want to be paid for this, you mentioned a bunch of things but I don't know how many hours of staff lessons or whatever."
"Any objects, the constraints are all things like being able to find them and move them, them not moving themselves in ways you don't want, them continuing to exist as long as you want, that kind of thing. And I'll probably end up wanting to spend a few months in here which at least tells you about how many hours of staff lessons I'd be able to take payment in, but I actually haven't done that before and haven't worked out a conversion between that and my usual price, uh - " he turns to Bar " - how much do lessons like that cost if you buy them in cash rather than in anti-zombie things?"
I only sell objects, not lessons.
"Do you not have ads from her world - I guess they wouldn't be literate enough - do you have ads from Hyrule or from some other place where staff fighting lessons and literacy are both common enough for there to be ads?"
Yes, but the prices vary within an extremely wide range depending on instructor competence, competition in the field, demand, and other factors.
"Well, then. What do you think is fair?" he asks Kaja.
"I have no idea!"
"How about I create some items and stop when I get too bored, you give me some lessons and stop when you get too bored, and we decide if we want to go on like that."
"Sounds good to me."
He'll a break after the first gross of whatever objects Kaja can scare up for enchanting.
And they can go in the back to have enough room to swing staffs around!
He's not bad at it for an absolute beginner who has received a couple of lessons and relied entirely on his magic in actual fights, but that's a big caveat right there.
She's taught ten-year-olds. He's well within the range she knows how to present a lesson to. Her style does assume that you can put a heck of a lot of power behind your swings by the time you're old enough to be fighting a real zombie, but it still has blocking moves and suchlike.
...Probably a good thing the past year has involved so much adventuring and weapons practice and human-optimized food and also steroids. Even as it is he struggles a bit with just hitting hard enough.
His previous teacher's style didn't come about in an environment where zombies were the main threat so it is discernibly differently optimized insofar as it is possible to discern things about it from his very basic familiarity with it.
The style, to be clear, does not assume that ten-year-olds will be that strong. It just relies on moves that will not work in a real combat situation unless you are. The ten-year-olds aren't paladins yet.
Swing and step and reposition and strike! Pivot and repeat!
At any rate it's fun and not tedious, and that was really the goal.
The second batch goes faster - or rather it takes the same amount of time for him to want a break, but he gets more done in that time.
"How come you're speeding up?"