May 21, 2022 2:48 PM
Sida in Fallen Tower
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"Uh, nothing? Maybe your spouse?"

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Tarka gives her a curious look, but says nothing.

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Dyva will maybe giggle at that. "So like, your problem isn't that you don't think our gods in particular are worth honouring, it's that you don't want to honour anyone?"

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"I think I am having trouble understanding what precisely these words you are using mean. Like, when I think of 'honoring' someone, I'm thinking of treating someone with special respect for because of their admirable accomplishments or qualities. In that sense I probably already honor most of the pantheon, or would if I ever interacted with them. And I know that religion consists of more than that, because people honor each other—other mortals—all the time, and it is not the same thing."

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"I think you're overthinking it! The gods are the gods. They've earned their place at the heart of the world, and all that stuff you talked about people doing - it all makes sense alone and it all makes more sense together? It makes sense to follow the master of your domain and it makes sense to trade with those who share ideals with you, and the gods are important and powerful. It's not a problem, you can just enjoy the festivals and make offerings at shrines and not worry about if your relationship doesn't have the exact right tone of reverence or whatever."  

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"I take issue with... a lot of what you just said, but whatever."

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"That particular cultural confusion is not one I believe I have heard before. Perhaps you will come to understand the matter better in time."

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"Probably. Either that or the null hypothesis."

"I shouldn't complain because I'm the one who brought it up, but theology is lame and I don't want to think about it anymore. Uh... if you had to spend the rest of your life as a plant, what kind of plant would you prefer?"

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"Am I allowed to say the Tree of All Souls?"  

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"I'll allow it," she says with unsubtle irony.

"I'm not super clear on the metaphysical or botanical status of the Tree of All Souls, though."

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"I was just going to pick a Jungle-Lord Redwood, but Dyva, I believe you have truly broken the question."

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"Ooh, yes, Jungle-Lords are nice too! But the Tree of All Souls is absolutely a tree! It's sort of a weird hybrid, from what I've heard! Every culture has different symbolism for what the world-tree should be like, so it tries to match. So there's places where it's an oak or an ash, or a yew, or a fig, or a cherry, depending on whose afterlife it's being at the time. Like it's every tree that was ever important to people grafted together into one! Which is sort of literally true? What about you Josarin, since you asked the question!" 

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"Well, that is incredibly weird. I never thought I'd say this, but some part of me yearns for the days when I thought the fundamental nature of reality was simple, and well-behaved."

"When I asked the question I had in mind some kind of big tree, like a redwood. A normal redwood, because I forgot that all this crazy shit exists. What even is a Jungle-Lord?"

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"Dyva probably knows more about them than I do, I have only heard the stories."

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"Ah, yes. They're not really a species as such so much as a phenomenon - a type of fey, technically - in the jungle far south of here, a tree that grows taller than everything else can claim dominion over the trackless jungle, and crown itself in gold and garnet. Then they tend to go to war with each other, marshalling trees and vines in long slow battles between trees. You can talk to them, if you're brave and they feel merciful, and there are a bunch of legends of heroes being paid in the treasures of the jungle for performing some service or another to one of them. Not really the sort of thing you can just cultivate, I'm afraid."  

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"...I shouldn't be surprised at this point that you'd desire to cultivate something like that. Anyways, that's not a bad choice, Tarka."

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Not long after, the conversation winds down and everyone heads their separate ways.

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It takes Sida several more months to learn enough arcane theory to be capable of even the simplest magic. The magic photocopier ritual is pretty cool, actually, although it also reminds her that she can no longer use actual photocopiers. Once she has been living in the City by the Fallen Tower for a little over a year, her long period of intense study nearly complete, she heads to a discount spellbook retailer. There are several options, all expensive, all with their own combination of useful and unwanted rituals. She settles on one which once belonged to an unfortunate archaeologist. They probably found Comprehend Languages more useful than she does, but a lot of their other picks are useful.

Of course, in all this time, Sida learns many things, meets many people, and visits most of the safe-ish parts of the city. Though interesting, we elide those events, because none can compare to her excitement in fulfilling her childhood dream of doing magic. Real, proper magic. To prepare for this event, she dons the traditional attire worn by all the sorcerers in the stories: a wide-brim, flat-top hat, a loose billowy shirt, breeches, and boots. Ten minutes of gesturing, incanting, and performing weird little motions with her mind later, a glowing pulse bursts from her fingertip, rockets forward, hits the old ceramic pot she set up at the other end of the archery range, and shatters it into several dozen pieces.

"Haha! Yes! I'm a real sorcerer now!"

This might be the best day of her life.

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Later that afternoon, Sida finds Dyva, skipping into their normal hangout (the one with the really good spiced tea).

"Hey, guess why I'm in a really good mood right now."

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"I don't know, did you find a nice new pot to move an exotic orchid into?" 

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"First of all, I have seen exotic orchids you wouldn't believe. Fitofilak Botanical Gardens, bitch. Second, I do not care about orchids nearly as much as you do, so they were wasted on me. Third, I cast a proper first-rank ritual from my spellbook today, and I am now a proper mage."

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"Congratulations! We should go have something nice for dinner to celebrate! My treat!" 

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"I want oysters but I will settle for waterfowl."

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"I think you could travel for years on the cost of importing oysters on short notice, so roast duck it is!"  

They can have spit-roasted ducks, daubed in sauces and spices as it roasts, along with steamed buns filled with various sweet and savoury fillings, and steamed sticky-rice studded with mushrooms and sausages. 

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Food in the city is pretty good when you're living the high life.

"So, Dyva. I'm leaving soon, I like you, and now is as good a time as any for you to leave the proverbial nest."

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