May 21, 2022 1:52 PM
Noah dreams of something nice, for once. | Sheriff in Wakefulness
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Noah makes a copy of the other trees, and plants the seed next to the first one. Pulling from the seed library in his head feels like knowing where his arms and legs are without looking. He doesn't want to make a complete fool of himself while he gets better at using it, but he reminds himself that if he feels clumsy now, that just means there's room to get better at it.

Once the seeds are next to each other, he can- well, he's not sure what. If he can't make the tree grow, can he start building the rest of it? Roots, trunk, branches, leaves...

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If he wants he can plant a fully grown copy of any of the trees. He can also copy individual branches either onto the ground or planted. Trying to build the tree in pieces is difficult. The pieces don't naturally stick together it's like he cut them apart with an incredibly sharp knife.

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Copying a tree is pretty damn cool. Noah will 'plant' a few trees, until he has them laid out in a tight ring around him. What else is there to copy? Noah heads out past his circle, looking for more plants. Tulips, maybe; his mom loves tulips.

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There are a variety of flowers he can recognize a couple colors of tulips are among them. If he stretches himself he could maybe copy a patch of flowers instead of an individual flower. That action isn't as intuitive though.

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Noah will copy just one of the tulips first- yellow, sunny and bright, just to make sure it works the way he thinks it does.

After that, he'll spend some time trying to think of the patch of flowers like it's just one thing- it's a gift for his mom. He wants her to have something nice. Something beautiful and harmless.

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The yellow tulip appears roots and all in his mental library. It's quite easy. The patch of ground is harder but conceptualizing it as a gift helps and he can get it with some effort.

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Noah continues populating the space with trees and tulips until-

He wakes up. He goes through the motions. He tries to do everything right. It's hard, when his waking life feels so empty next to his dreaming life.  He tries doing it while he's awake, just in case- nothing. He figures out how to copy other things- a pencil, a desk, a backpack, a baseball bat- but that's it. He doesn't have time to figure it out. There are other things to worry about. Maybe when he isn't struggling to keep his grades up. Maybe when his father isn't on one of his benders. Maybe when his life finally has space for him to worry about things like learning, or making things. He wishes he could just show his mom- make her smile for a minute, instead of being completely helpless against the tyrant they have to put up with. But he can't.

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Even though it's happened two nights in a row, Noah is still startled to wake up in the new dreamworld. He misses Astrid. He wishes she was here, but no matter what kind of power he has now, wishing for her doesn't do anything.

He wishes his mom was here.

He wishes anyone was here, because maybe he wouldn't feel like he's been thrown from the frying pan into the fire, here, trying to learn a third set of rules.

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It's not immediate but after a bit of desperate wishing he feels a sensation like a knocking on a door. Like someone is asking for permission to join him.

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"...come in?"

Noah tries to want the person to come in, since wanting things to happen and trying them seems to be how his new superpowers work.

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A disk of softly glowing light appears in the air nearby and a woman steps out. She's wearing something a bit like a sundress though it's floating in a way that's just a bit ethereal not quite real. It has a rainbow gradient pattern and it's glowing slightly. She smiles as she catches sight of him. "Hello, I'm Elinan. Welcome to Soul-Realm." If he's paying close attention he might notice that she's speaking a language he doesn't know but he understands her anyway.

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"...hello. Been in the Soul-Realm long? I'm brand-spanking new."

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"I've been connected for as long as I've been alive. I'm part of a group that looks for new people like you."

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Thank God there's someone who actually knows what's going on.

"Well, looks like you found me. Do you have a guidebook? This is- it's a hell of a thing to wake up to."

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"If that's what you'd like we did write a book I can give you." A book appears in her hand. I'm also happy to help more directly."

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"-thank you. I could use all the help you've got to offer. Could you give me a minute to read through this?"

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"Take as long as you'd like I'm not in a rush." She hands over the book.

The book begins by offering a warm welcome to soul realm then it goes on to explain the basics about how you connect here when you sleep or if you die. It also explains the basic usages of the magic, controlling when you fall asleep or wake up and copying items into your personal library, manifesting things from your library or parts thereof, contacting others with the magic and forming bridges between pockets of soul realm. It goes on to summarize other things that are possible but harder: sharing the magic with others, manifesting illusions while awake that are visible to others with the magic, creating exotic materials that aren't physically possible while within soul realm, modifying your own body while within soul realm. And the major limitation, it's almost impossible to have children within soul realm. After that it starts going into detailed specifics about how to do various magic and also about the rough ways societies work in soul realm.

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Noah takes the book, reading the highlights.

"How did I end up here? I'm grateful for the time off from my magical nightmares, but this makes less sense than that."

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"We don't really have a good answer to that. Sometimes it just happens. It seems like someone in our physical world was the first to come here and over the millennia we've had a few dozen more appear. It's a very rare event. Magical nightmares sound distressing and intriguing. I wonder if learning our magic will let you understand those better."

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"I'll tell you whatever you want to know about them. I'd really love the help, though- magic to get me through the nightmare world would be incredible. There's some kind of mythic quest I have to do, and I need resources."

Noah starts experimenting with some of these other powers- can he make himself taller in this place?

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"A mythic quest. How exciting. I don't really have any way of knowing if you could use our magic in a different dream realm. It seems like it might work or there might be limitations or it might not work at all. I think it might be possible to choose which realm you visit at night. It might even be possible to invite someone to your nightmare. I expect that you'd want to find your core like you would for sharing the magic of this place in the waking world."

The book does say that's possible but it also says it's rather difficult. You need to either get into conceptual isolation to change the size of various bodyparts without changing their composition or you need to merge your biology with that of somebody who has the elements of physique you desire. There's also a warning about how changing too much can be pretty disorienting especially if you regularly move between the dream and waking worlds.

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"What have you done with it? What can you really do with this, if you put your mind to it?"

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"I think the furthest I stretched my body was when I had eight limbs that took about a month to get right and I still felt weird for three months after changing back. I think the biggest project I worked on was this massive playground about as big as a city with microbiomes custom plants and animals and sections with different gravity. We only figured out how to do directional gravity plates recently it took a lot of lateral thinking to divide things just right. As for the biggest overall projects... I think the solar system replication project has managed to place every asteroid more than a hundred meters across at least somewhat accurately. There's a lot of guesswork in that though because we don't have the infrastructure to actually send people out that far to copy the asteroids."

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