May 29, 2022 4:45 AM
Sida in Fallen Tower
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Sida is walking along a mountain road in the dark. Which, sure, maybe isn't the safest thing, but walking in the dark is fun and she doesn't want to stop for the night just yet.

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For all beings, there is a plan. And for all plans, there is a time for action.

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Sida hears the unexpected rumble of an approaching vehicle shortly before she is struck from behind. Suddenly, she finds herself hurtling forwards, through a disorienting rush of color for a few moments before she hits the ground. She feels surprisingly healthy for having just been hit by a truck.

In the world she left behind, her broken body tumbles down the hill.

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Sida finds herself in the middle of a busy street. A few people look surprised, but it seems that most people are emphatically making the supernatural arrival of a stranger none of their problem. Besides, they're all busy. Street vendors hawk meat skewers and jars of condiments to passers-by, porters bicker over the delivery of pots to a nearby business, and someone is doing a street-performance involving a stylised image - no, an illusion - of a dragon, flying through the air like a living firework. The architecture looks positively medieval in construction; buildings are hand-crafted wood with colourful paint, built with a rickety density that speaks of a total lack of fire safety codes. The people come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes; there are elves and dwarves and goblins and so forth, but also a sort of orca-like person, and someone riding a giant wolf, even a sort of wooden robot person. A number of people are armed or armoured; swords, spears and bows seem to be the weapons of choice here. 

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Apparently there really is an afterlife? This doesn't look like any of the stories she's heard, however. Which arguably is good, it's more interesting that way. She stands up and approaches someone nearby who looks like they won't be too mad at being interrupted.

"Hello, do you know where we are? Did you get here by dying too?"

...Wait a minute, that wasn’t canaanite. What language is she speaking? This is starting to feel like a dream.

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"You're in the city beside the fallen tower."  "I have no idea what you're talking about? You seem to be perfectly healthy to me." 

(The language she is speaking is the common tongue, a creole compiled from a number of different languages, at least one of which was spoken by lizards. If she listens to the crowd, it's not the only one she can understand) 

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"Huh. The place I come from is very different and I'm not exactly sure how I got from there to here. Don't suppose you've ever heard of the Hadarite Union?"

If there's literally anyone from her home planet/reality/??? in this place, that would be awfully convenient.

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"Odd things happen all the time. I have a cousin whose goat was possessed by a demon, you know. Not that we'd have known, goats being goats, except it went all red and its horns got bigger. Never heard of a Hadarite Union, though. Is it underground somewhere? Its awfully easy to loose touch with underground places, so I hear." 

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"...No, it's not underground."

Sida has so many questions! Like: what is a demon? Why and how do people live underground (if that's what they were implying)? What is the fallen tower? What language is she speaking and how? What are all these new species of people? How the hades did that hologram work? In general, what is going on?

But she can prioritize a little bit, save the other questions for later. If this is real, she's probably stuck here, at least for a while. And it's unlikely anyone will take paper money.

"How cold does it get at night, this time of year? And do you have cheap steel in this city?"

It doesn't really look like they do, which means most of her work experience is probably not very useful.

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"It was snowing last week, I wouldn't want to get caught in the rain. I know someone down in the old town who can give you a pretty good price on custom metalwork if you need something made. Good dwarf steel."  

(It's not currently raining, but the clouds are looming, so it might rain sooner rather than later)

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Sleeping outside isn't an option, then. And it doesn't sound like this place has much industry. Maybe she can sell some of her kit?

"I'm curious how it compares to what I've got. We don't have 'dwarf steel'"—unless that's something her weird language thing isn't translating—"but I think what we do have is pretty good. Can you give me directions?"

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"Dwarves make the finest steel in these parts, the blacksmith's guild is basically all dwarves." Different words for the same group of people as "Dwarves" translate mentally as "mountain-dwellers" and "ones-who-are-bound-by-the-old-law."  

Directions to a specific forge in the forge district ensue. 

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"Thank you. Farewell!"

Sida follows the directions to the forge. On the way, she looks for signs or anything else that has writing on it, to see if she can read it.

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The majority of signs use shop-specific imagery (for example, she's looking for the forge with a sign of a boar, to find her destination) in their signage, but many also use text - which Sida can read. She can also read the text of a pamphlet on "economically valuable dungeon flora", which is being hawked rather aggressively but someone purporting to be an alchemist, to anyone who looks even sort of adventurer-y, and who will let her have a page through it to the end of making a sale. 

The forge with the sign of the boar is staffed by a person who would, by human standards be very short, maybe a little over 4ft tall, and what would be unusually broad and heavy-set by human standards, and with a long, greying beard, with the lopsided muscles distinctive of long work as a blacksmith. Right now, he's sitting at a desk, at the front of his shop, sketching out a design, while further back, a younger woman of the same general build (including long beard, though without the grey) is working at the forge, producing nails. 

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She approaches the man up front.

"Hello, do you have a minute?"

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"Of course. What do you need?" 

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"A few hours ago, I was mysteriously transported here from another world. So I'm new to the city and I don't know how anything works. My world makes steel in a different way that makes it much easier to produce large quantities of good quality, and I'm curious to see how what I have compares to the state of the art here."

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"A mighty strange story! I'm sure some arcanist would have a field day with something like that. While I'll not share any trade secrets - can't, anyway, I just buy imported steel like everyone else in the city - we don't have an iron mine, I'd be happy to let you look at an ingot or two, though, especially if you have some samples of your offworld steel."

His steel is good, but pre-modern. 

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She lets him take a look at her knife. It's made of stainless steel, straight, sharp, and without a speck of rust.

"Er, what is an arcanist? And would they be willing to pay me for their field day?"

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"Oh, yes, I see what you mean. This is a pretty impressive piece. Would fetch a pretty impressive price, I'd expect."

"An Arcanist is ... well, a polite term for when you want to say ritual mage but don't want to insult anyone else with interests in magical research by excluding them. Probably there's some way to get them to pay for information like this, but I wouldn't guarantee that it didn't involve spending ages as a test subject in some magical project, and I wouldn't know who to talk to about it, beyond one of the adventurer's guilds, maybe." 

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Magic? Is that what's going on? Magic? Well, it's probably better to talk to one of those arcanists about it.

"Hmm. I get the impression that most people in this city don't know how to read?"

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"Lots of people can't read, plenty of people can. It's not always worth acquiring as a skill, even if the Order of Edification does try to incentivise it as much as possible. I found it easier to learn than to memorise the old laws, and that's pretty common for dwarves I think."

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"So scribing probably doesn't pay super well, then."

"Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Would you mind giving me directions to this Adventurer's Guild? And—I don't want to sell my knife if I don't have to, but if I do, would you be interested?"

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"There's a spell for copying text, though, it's like the third thing they teach new ritual mages, so demand isn't as high as all that." 

"If you put me on the spot, I'd pay 200gp for a knife like that, though the right buyer might pay a half again more than that, if I'm to be honest with you."  

"The adventurer's guilds aren't all one institution. It's like, if someone, or a group gets powerful, they form an organization to handle their support staff and followers and apprentices and disciples and henchmen, that sort of thing. And a bunch of those groups have ended up performing government functions around here, so we call them the adventurer's guilds. Main ones are the Deep Gardeners, who run the dole and keep people fed, the Order of Edification, who run the big library and enforce contracts, the blessed of light, who keep the peace, the antediluvian exploratory league, who ... mostly dig into knowledge best left alone if you ask me, but they have lots of mages. Last two are the Red Church, who kill anything nasty that comes out of the wilderness, and the monster hunters, who mostly seem to run fighting pits for people's entertainment. They're not even organised enough to have a proper name, but they have a bunch of powerful members, so they're worth the mention. The term can also apply to smaller groups of the same sort of structure, if they're organised enough." 

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Sida isn’t quite sure what 'the dole' means, but the impression she gets is of some kind of institutionalized giving, maybe like the dividend? But it sounds like it's good for her. And his description of the Order of Edification makes them sound a little like a priestly order. Maybe it would be good to start there.

"Oh, wow. That seems like a weird way to run a government, but if it works, I guess. Could you tell me where to find the Order of Edification? I'll start there."

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"It is a rather disorderly alternative to a government, I think most people would say. The king in the north hasn't considered this place worth trying to govern for centuries. The Order of Edification are good people, if stretched a bit thin." 

Directions to the Order of Edification grand library ensue; it's a hard building to miss. 

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