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Generated: Apr 27, 2022 1:07 PM
Post last updated: Apr 27, 2022 1:07 PM
I would have had the lime pie
A Kyrios dropped into Muse
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Edgar has studied his mother's research meticulously. He is no scientist, but he has finally made some progress in reconstructing her technology. Enough that he's started to advertise, and contact potential investors. There are skeptics, as always, and mindless idiots frothing with shouts of 'heresy', but Edgar ignores them. Today, he is hosting an exhibition of sorts. Three of his newest models, on display for the world to see. In exchange, all the Alchemists' Guild requested was an hour of his time. He examines their latest quarry, an insipid elixir, supposedly believed to improve one's mental faculties- of course they have nothing to show him but another 'aphrodisiac'. He tests it, following his mother's guidelines exactly- for despite the airs he puts on, Edgar is not a man of science- and is still unsurprised when something goes wrong.

It is not an explosion, or a seizure, or anything so dramatic- Edgar simply blinks and finds himself somewhere else.

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He is in a beautiful city. The ground is tiled, the paths are shaded with translucent fabric in gently harmonizing colors, the architecture is lavish, everyone is wearing an outfit more fabulous than the last, often including veils.

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It looks nothing like home. That's the first thing. It's stunningly beautiful, intentionally so. It looks designed, and not sprawling. It does not have the crowded, warm atmosphere of a gathering of bohemians, but it looks like a work of art. Edgar walks around, mystified. How- where- perhaps he underestimated the alchemists, if they can produce a vision such as this. Not merely an aphrodisiac, then, but some kind of concoction that can show a man his greatest desires...? He looks for any signs of industry- they must have industry, to produce something like this. 

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He can, with some looking, locate occasional beautiful open-air workshops where people are working on glass and metal and clay and suchlike. Some of them have children hungrily watching them work.

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The logic of dreams and the logic of visions are supposedly quite different, though he only has experience with the former. What remains to be seen is whether this is more like a dream of night or a dream of laudanum.

Edgar approaches one of the workshops to watch, transfixed.

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This one's a jeweler, carefully-carefully placing gems into a setting.

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Edgar does not understand children enough to know whether he can ask these particular ones anything. He does anyway; presumably they'll make it obvious if he should not have soon enough.

"How do they manage to do that?"

His voice is not, particularly, musical, although it has a nice cadence, and he's speaking in an unfamiliar language.

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A twelve year old watching the jeweler says something, not looking at him.

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-fascinating. Is that Ottoman? Spanish? Grecian? Latin?

Edgar wonders how the elixir is generating this world- he supposes he has heard enough of certain foreign tongues- likely Latin or Ottoman, then, based on what he knows of New Albion's population. None of the people he'd spoken to in the last few days had recognizable accents, but perhaps it draws from something else- desires, as he had guessed earlier-

All of that is a distraction from the artistry on display. Edgar watches, rapt, until the imagined jeweler shoos him off or he wakes from this dazzling illusion.

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The jeweler doesn't shoo him, just finishes one piece and moves on to another.

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Then Edgar will leave between pieces. It's beautiful, as watching an artist always is, but he'd rather not sit waiting for sour grapes to ferment into bitter wine.

Instead, he looks for the largest, most extravagant building within sight. If this dream has been tailor-made to fulfill his desires, then he knows where to look.

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The largest and most extravagant building is this one! It has people going in and out, and a big fountain out front, and a garden, which somebody is maintaining right now.

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Edgar joins the throng of people, listening in for more of their language. He wants to identify it before he awakens.

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It sounds more like Grecian than anything, but still not quite the same. Prettier, for one.

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Prettier, of course. Everything here is. Edgar wonders if this dream is an image his mind has conjured of a world where artisans and bohemians revolutionized the world, rather than doctors and alchemists.

A tempting flight of fancy. Edgar admires the inside of the building (which he's certain will be just as beautiful as everything else).

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It most certainly is.

Everyone is avoiding looking right at Edgar. People glance in his direction, and then their eyes - skip right off him.

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He supposes it's not surprising that he would be the central figure of a dream concocted by his own mind. He will sooner tire of this if his thoughts remain this clear. His thought process should be more opaque, distant, than it is. Edgar continues to walk around, trying to see if they exhibit the same avoidant behavior with anything else in their environment besides him.

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Some people go around with their eyes closed or covered, but people who can see aren't avoiding most sights in their environment the way they're avoiding him. It's almost like he's naked, except he's not, unless their standards for clothedness require all this elaborate garb.

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Edgar does not have money with which to buy any elaborate garb with which to obscure his vision. His dreams, regardless of origin, rarely involve money changing hands. He's not entirely sure why he ought to, with how beautiful everything is. Perhaps that's the point, some kind of asceticism? A primitive mindset clothed in refinement. A metaphor, as his mind attempts to categorize and classify recent events. There are theories that describe the symbology of dreams. He has not followed them very closely.

The clarity continues to confuse him. His confusion is shading into worry. It lacks the logic of ordinary dreams. Perhaps laudanum- but even that thought does not comfort him. Edgar walks, head bowed, so that any averted eyes have even less reason to linger. He listens for any languages that more closely resemble Anglish, and begins to plan for the possibility that something truly unexpected has happened.

The worry shades into exhilaration.

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Eventually someone who is pointedly not looking directly at him approaches him anyway, and says something in relatively businesslike not-Grecian. The accompanying gestures suggest she wants him to... leave?

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"I don't understand you," he says in Anglish, while using his palm to cover the top half of his face.

Edgar is not an expert at communicating across a language barrier, so he's prepared to depart if this interaction goes less than perfectly.

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Shooing gesture! Repetition of her instruction!

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Edgar shoos. He has ideas of what's going on, each more ridiculous than the last (alchemical accident? sabotage by a rival? divine punishment?), but nothing more substantive than that.

He looks for the ugliest building that he can see.

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That's a difficult project. There's one over that way which has some fire damage? Everyone's avoiding it except a few people with covered eyes who are clearing away the rubble.

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Edgar approaches the fire-damaged building, keeping an eye out for scraps of cloth, discarded masks, or the like, while singing to himself in Anglish, hoping that someone recognizes the language.

He can't carry a tune.

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Everyone around him is kind of uncomfortable and then somebody loudly sings an ahhh on a single note and seven other people in the vicinity coordinate to also aaaaah in trained harmony, drowning him out.

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He stops singing instantly, and listens to what is, without a doubt, the greatest singing he's ever heard.

"Beautiful," he says in Anglish. "Are you all natural songbirds, or does it come from years of dedication?"

Edgar doesn't expect anyone to understand him (he's starting to learn this dream's rules), but manners dictate that he compliment a performer for a job well done.

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Someone glares at him. They decrescendo, fade out, and continue about their business.

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Edgar has something of a guess, and judging by the hospitality of these people, only one convenient test. He looks for a somewhat quiet street corner.

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There's one!

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Edgar begins to remove his shirt, and, if no one objects, uses it to swaddle his face.

He feels a thrill at the potential danger- something to ruminate on later, when he has time to think.

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Nobody objects especially more to this behavior than they did to him walking around without having done it.

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It's quite an interesting sort of place to find oneself.

Edgar leaves enough of a gap to see through and no more. It appears he was correct, then. His face is particularly ugly by the standards of this extravagant peoples, and his bare chest is not. He still needs to secure long-term security for himself- he looks now for- the poor of this neighborhood. There must be some people with less luxurious eye coverings, or less fine clothing? There are always those who are beneath their superiors.

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He can find some more minimalist and jury-rigged beauties if he walks far enough. Their standards are clearly still very high.

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That suggests something of a conspiracy. The government vanishing those who don't conform, perhaps.

Edgar uses his shirt to obscure his ugly face as he hunts for food. The modern man does not hunt in a traditional sense, but he has a nose that can identify potential food like any other animal. Where does this strange (imagined?) city sell its food? Pristine pubs, perhaps?

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They seem to go in for street food, actually, though if he looks for restaurants there are also those.

It's all very pretty and served on delicate lovely plates.

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Lovely. The snag will be payment, Edgar supposes.

What happens if he asks the vendor questions in Anglish, while keeping his face properly covered? At a certain point, someone must express curiosity about the foreigner rather than disdain- he hopes, though his experience of New Albion tell him that he would best be served by adapting quickly to this change in his fortune, and accepting a life as one of the dregs of society- once a man admits that he's been consigned to the gutter, only then can he claw his way back out.

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The vendor does not understand a speck of Anglish. He tries talking slower in case that helps but Edgar isn't going to get anywhere like this.

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Edgar listens for recurring words, but finds that he can't quite differentiate the sounds. Alone, unable to speak the language, and without any of his new automatons- but he still has the knowledge of how to make one. No use, without a dead body and soul he can fill it with.

A last resort, then. In the meantime, Edgar seeks someone- easy to manipulate.

An older woman with no companions, perhaps, who might take pity on him.

A young child, easy to impress, whose parents might be inclined to an act of charity for the foreigner in their midst.

An eager couple, who might buy some food simply to get him out of their way, if he gestures clearly and imposes upon their space.

All risky ploys, but potentially informative- and less risky than fending for himself, or resorting to thievery. He keeps his face mostly covered, only leaving his eyes visible. Even that may be too much. He wonders how such a society could ever survive (were it real, which feels more and more certain).

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There's a little kid over there! She's got a drawing tablet and she is repeatedly doing and undoing the same stroke of vermilion across it, muttering to herself every time she adjusts the shade or retries the angle.

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He does not have the creative muse of any self-respecting bohemian, but he does have the steady hand that comes with adulthood, and leaving behind the ungainly proportions of childhood.

Edgar will attempt to communicate via gesture that he could assist the poor thing. He can mime drawing well enough; that much must be universal.

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She takes this suggestion very much amiss and babbles at him in not-Grecian.

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Afraid that he'll keep it? Or simply voicing her every thought?

Edgar will tolerate some childish babbling. After she's paused, he'll try the same gesture, this time moving his hands more gently. If that too fails- he'll search for another potentially-sympathetic sucker to swindle. When it comes down to it, swindling is his only skill, in this new world (if it is as real as it feels).

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She will NOT let him mess up her drawing. As soon as he backs off she tries the vermilion streak again, once twice thrice, and then she keeps it and switches to a scarlet.

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His plans must fail quickly, if he is to decide whether to take larger risks. He feels like Tantalus, starving in a sea of food. It is not hunger yet that plagues him, although it soon will. He compliments her on her drawing and looks for another target. Someone who has kind eyes- the right kind of weakness to exploit. It's more difficult to assess this when every citizen's face is covered, of course...

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They're not all covered, this one is just wearing a lot of makeup! She's washing the windows of a grocery store.

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Edgar will keep his face mostly covered, but he'll slowly approach.

"Greetings, stranger."

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She glances at him and says something in notGrecian.

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Time to look as pathetic as his situation actually is (holding, once again, and now it's much worth believing in an alternative): that he has somehow been transported to a foreign world by an alchemy accident, to a city where he does not speak the language, and where his very physiognomy horrifies its inhabitants.

"I am profoundly lost, and I have no way of getting home. You don't understand what I'm saying, but- look at my face."

He points at his face, and at his shirt, rather than attempt a pity-inspiring facial expression. Edgar's usual legerdemain is useless here.

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She flinches, goes back to industrially scrubbing. After a moment points back in the direction of the building he was shooed away from.

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How to communicate across a language barrier...

Edgar falls to his knees, clasping his hands together in a begging or praying gesture- perhaps they won't recognize the same gestures, but obsequiousness is universal.

"Please," he says, injecting as much naked desperation into his voice as he can.

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Point point! - after another moment she grabs a mango off her outdoor fruit display and thrusts it into his face.

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"Thank you," he says, although she will continue not to understand Anglish, and only her strange Grecian tongue. Edgar will take the mango and return to the building. This time, he will try to avoid interacting with anyone, and try to understand what about this building is so important. How do these people spend their time?

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It seems like some kind of ridiculously pretty office building. Some of the offices have glass doors and he can see people at them working with various devices that, while mysterious, don't seem to involve manual labor on the input or output end. One person is doing careful calligraphy. There's a conference room where people are having a very serious meeting.

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Best not to interrupt anyone at work. Edgar paces the length of the building until he finds an unattended mysterious device.

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There's an office with the door closed but nobody behind it; the occupant may have gone to the bathroom.

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Edgar slips inside to investigate the device. He lifts the shirt from his eyes so that he can see it. It does not particularly resemble any tools Edgar is familiar with. He examines it curiously, trying to identify what is behind the pane of glass.

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It has a pretty picture on it, gently luminous.

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Of course it is. He doesn't stop to admire it. Edgar looks for knobs, buttons, and levers, turning, pressing, and switching things until something changes.

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If he pokes the pretty picture, it becomes overlaid with a grid of sixteen dots.

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Too risky to sit here and puzzle it out. Edgar does not need to be tarred and feathered in the public square. He ducks out of the room, once again covering up with his shirt. This time, he will watch someone work on the machine through the glass to determine how they operate the things- until they notice him watching, at which point he will move on. Walking through a building without lingering must surely not be a crime, no matter how abysmal he is to their sensibilities.

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They appear to operate them by poking the flat screens. He does get to see one unlocked - someone traces out a pattern among the sixteen dots and their background picture disappears to be replaced with a mosaic of smaller pictures.

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Potentially useful, if he can find another one in between uses. First, Edgar will try to find somewhere that seems designed for eating meals.

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Out in the atrium there's a window where someone's accepting people's beautiful lunchboxes and returning them full of food.

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Edgar watches for a dozen or so minutes to determine whether anyone else is approaching without a lunchbox.

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One person does walk up without a lunchbox and get a handheld food.

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Edgar is not entirely sure what kind of civilization could make do without money changing hands, but he's grateful to have arrived in it.

He attempts to mimic this transaction.

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The person behind the counter doesn't seem to know what to make of this - maybe he expects to recognize everyone he feeds? - but asks someone else behind the counter a question and gets a response and hands over an attractive bagel.

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Even their food is beautiful. Edgar will try to thank the person as mellifluously as possible, although the lack of shared language undermines the attempt at maintaining decorum. He retreats, finding somewhere unobserved (outside the building, if he must) to eat his food.

He spends quite a bit of time trying to memorize the pattern on the bagel, before eating it, in hopes of reproducing it when he finds himself with the right tools. Edgar is not a skilled artist, but he would never turn away from difficult work- practice is the only route to perfection- besides outrageous cheating.

Assuming he's allowed to eat in peace, Edgar will once again prepare to cover his face and look for...perhaps a shelter, for the indigent. Something less well-decorated and well-appointed than this building, but not a burnt-out husk, one assumes. Plain, and out of the way of the main thoroughfare?

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If they have such a thing it's not readily discoverable.

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A civilization that has cured the problem of the poor? Edgar is curious how they achieved that without simply clearing the streets of them; or perhaps they need, not finding something less coarse. He can't rely on charity, then, because what seems to be their charity could be something more fickle and subject to fashion than that. Perhaps without the dregs of society draining it, charity becomes an abundant resource. That would be quite the discovery. If he ever returns to New Albion-

No shelter. Edgar can only hope that he will find somewhere relatively unobserved to shelter from the rain, tonight. Instead of worrying about such minor practicalities, he searches for someone who works in metal. There was that artisan he saw earlier- perhaps that is a district where such craftsmen gather.

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Yup, he can find a metal shop no problem.

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Edgar will cover up once again before getting into close quarters with anyone local. He is looking to examine the man's wares- what is available to...customers...who cannot speak?

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Not speaking is an obstacle, but there are a variety of tools - chisels, molds, knives - in addition to the jewelry.

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And are any of those available without paying?

Edgar tries his best to charm without showing his face. It's a challenge he's unaccustomed to.

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Nobody is very impressed by the charm of a guy with an ugly piece of fabric over his presumably uglier face. None of the stuff is free.

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A shame. He won't bother apologizing, when even his voice seems to grate on the locals. He needs materials, something he can use to house the souls of their dearly departed- but scrounging through their garbage would surely net him only that which they'll have already rejected.

Edgar needs something which can demonstrate his utility to these people- he needs a Doll. He wanders. What technology do these people use to listen to music? Anything that produces sound could be the appropriate medium for their dearly departed.

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They have music speakers built into many public installations like benches and trellises, which vary in volume but all seem to be tuned to the same radio station.

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Theft will only earn the ire of this government- for all that Edgar has seen no watchmen patrolling the streets. He can try to catch a disembodied soul, something he has never been able to manage, and store it in a trellis, but it will be wasted time if he cannot prove it to the locals. He has little recourse. There are no bodies he can use, here, without attracting undue attention. He would have to find them, and then persuade people who see him as beneath the dirt on their shoes.

Edgar sits on one such radio-enabled bench, and hopes there are ambient souls desperate to be embodied once more. He investigates the radio, trying to determine how it is supplied power, as he mumbles some of the formulae under his breath. Once he has identified a power supply and the basic workings of the radio, he will know enough to make his first test. In an hour or two, he should know if he can do business here.

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The radio is cunningly embedded, but he can find the speakers, pointing out at the world from the sides of the two front legs of the bench. It's in stereo. There's a panel on the back of the bench legs that unscrews for maintenance.