From the top of the watchtower - it's not very high, but it's up on a little bit of a rise, and none of the other buildings are very high either - it's easy to get a good view of the city.
"Oh, there's also the thing where if someone tries to free an elemental the elemental kills them and neither I nor the elementals know why they don't instead nonlethally hightail it out of there right away."
"It probably says something horrible about me that my immediate solution is to have 'freeing elementals' as the way society inflicts death sentences." She pauses. "Can you also have one person order all the elementals they own to 'do whatever you feel like' by their power as owner? Because if so you can solve the problem with a simple act of nationalization."
"It's not quite that simple but it wouldn't not work. Unlike the death sentence idea which would not work at all, you can't make somebody free an elemental they're holding." They are approaching the barracks; Maurabel opens the door. "Hey, are there Woods not checked out?"
"The regular Woods are out but you can have Balsa," says the attendant.
"Can I talk to her?"
The attendant rolls his eyes. "Balsa!" he calls into the back room.
An elemental with very fluffy wooden wings comes out. "Hi Maurabel," she says, though she's mostly looking at her feet.
"Hi Balsa. I want to go build something, do you want to come? Same deal as last time?"
"Yeah," says Balsa, "of course."
Maurabel accepts the Balsa amulet from the attendant and puts it around her own neck.
Jinye thinks Maurabel is very naive about the ability of governments to make people do things they really, really don't want to do. Either way, she will listen to this, and smile at Balsa, and attempt to determine, using her keen political senses, just how keen Balsa is on murdering everyone in sight.
Balsa doesn't appear to feel very urgent about it, at any rate. Once they've left the building she flies into the air, circling above Maurabel and Jinye.
"I try to, like, pay them," Maurabel explains, "but not in money, since they can't keep that, I just keep them checked out longer and let them fly around or read or something."
Jinye nods. "That makes sense. Can she hear us from that high up?"
"If she were using magic she could but she's not."
"Understood," says Jinye.
After that she has MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT MAGIC. She still doesn't have an intuitive understanding of how it works, and she really, really wants to get one.
Maurabel can ramble vaguely about magic if Jinye doesn't have any specific questions. "Elementals are born with an intuitive understanding of their element - or elements, like in Balsa's case, some of them are hybrids. Same as they coalesce already able to talk and walk they can already do magic, though not necessarily all the fancy things and nothing that involves elements they don't have. Mages, being humans, have to learn to talk and walk, but we learn magic for all the elements we have in roughly that same way. Can be dangerous, especially with fire. The point of a school is to exchange what we've learned so far with each other, and to have," sigh, "a pool of elementals to share - we can tap them for energy of their elements, or control them into doing magic directly."
Mostly she wants to get really, really specific about what precise superpowers come with each magic type and precisely how effective they are in terms of, say, Newtons of force. (She cannot get this, but she wants approximations.) She also wants to know about precision; if you're getting free matter (!!!!!) from something, can you get any type? Could a metal elemental copy "the metal in Jinye's knife?," which she suspects is a much harder and more rust-resistant steel than any local metal?
Also, "Does tapping elementals harm them directly, or is it just that the school needs elementals around to tap and they think slaves are cheaper than employees?"
Maurabel doesn't even really have approximations. She knows that it's not generally feasible to fly even if you're tapping an Air?
"We don't make matter out of nothing however we want it. We can take pieces of elemental halos or wings, and then transmute them. If you tell me about the steel I might be able to do it, or an Adamant might.
"Elementals aren't harmed by tapping exactly but it does mean they don't have magic leftover for their own purposes and if they were free to use their magic - and didn't decide that no amount of money was worth staying here - they'd probably keep some back."
She nods. This all makes sense. "And telling you about the steel would require... showing it to you? Describing which elements go into it? Giving complete forging instructions?"
"I'd use magical senses on it. Though forging instructions wouldn't hurt, it'll take less magic to do it if I do some steps without."
"I think you need specialist tools you don't have to forge it," says Jinye. "It needs to be raised to very high temperatures." Jinye tries to remember her taking-over-the-world-in-a-low-tech-planet training. "if the difference between the current outdoors temperature and the temperature required to forge tin is a one, it needs about a nine?"
"I don't have... numbers about temperatures, or a way to guess how much Fire I'd need to throw at something to make it a two on that scale you made up."
Thaaat would be a the problem, yes.
"I can check out a Fire later and get them to heat things till it - looks right, or feels hot from the correct distance away, or whatever?"
"I can get you a simple heat-measurer with concentrated wine-stuff in glass," Jinye says, "but it doesn't work at too high temperatures." She pauses. "I think it may make more sense to transmute the metal directly, or else to see if what you're detecting matches to what I know from theory is the - composition of the alloy - in which case I can just describe the alloy to you." Once she teaches Maurabel chemistry.
Great! "By the way, do you know how to use heat to refine liquids, both those that become more concentrated under heat and those that become less?"
"...do you have an example?"
"If you put a pot of water over a fire, the water turns to -" she gestures vaguely at the air, not having the word for steam - "and then you have less water in the pot. If you do that with wine, what happens?"
"...wine sauce, I guess?"
"The wine tastes less like wine and stops making you drunk."
"Huh, I guess I don't have to avoid dishes with wine sauce then. Anyway, we've invented wine sauce, is it important?"