Jun 28, 2022 5:45 PM
Sida in Fallen Tower
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The man nods firmly. "An Amnesiac angel, then. Well, I have five books and sixteen tablets in grimlock touch-cuneiform, if you read that as well. How does 8gp a day sound?" He says, with the tone of someone opening negotiations with a lowball bid. 

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"I'm pretty sure the market rate is higher than that, but I want to build a business quickly, so... I'll take 10gp a day if you promise to tell all your friends and colleagues to talk to me if they need translation work done, especially for obscure languages. My name is Josarin, by the way." She says, with the tone of someone offering a generous deal because they need something to happen quickly. "Oh, and I don't really know how expensive paper and ink is here, or how much the job will need, so you can provide whatever materials you want me to use or I can just bill you for expenses."

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"I can provide them, no point risking you buying substandard codices. If I'm getting this done, it'll be on good solid parchment, and we'll have something that lasts! You have yourself a deal, miss Josarin! I have a place above the bric-a-brac shop maybe two streets over" he gestures "that way. If you'll meet me there tomorrow morning, I can give you one of the books and some supplies?" 

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"We have a deal."

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Sida heads back to her inn, pays for another night, has dinner, does some writing, and goes to bed.

The next morning she returns to the coffeeshop district and locates the bric-a-brac shop.

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The bric-a-brac shop sells iridescent bird-feathers, a torch that glows shining-blue ("guaranteed ever-burning"), what appears to be a pocket-watch, and a collection of formal robes with intricate weaves, and that's only what's in the front window. 

Above it there are several apartments; the guard of the store eyes her suspiciously, but doesn't do anything as she heads upstairs, where the elderly drow man is waiting for her. 

"Ah, there you are. I was just about to give up on waiting and go to bed." He's assembled a package, which includes two books wrapped in fur, and two more blank books of similar sizes. "there you go, that should keep you busy for a while."  

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She didn't think she was running late or anything...

"Right. I'm not sure how long this will take, but I'll deliver the first book as soon as I'm done with it."

"I'm curious, by the way, are you an independent scholar, or affiliated with a... I'm trying to think of some thing we had at home, for lots of people to learn things... Ahh! Why can't I think about this? This is super weird!"

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The drow scholar thinks for a moment. "... huh. I think I've heard about this before. Did this thing involve a network of glowing screens that could transmit messages throughout the known world?"  

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"I don't think so. We did have ways to transmit messages all over the world, sometimes with glowing screens, but I don't have any trouble thinking about that. And I don't think it was how the... learning places worked."

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"... fascinating. You seem to have what is documented as a very common condition recorded by dark-age scholars immediately after the fall of the tower. They all agreed they'd obtained their common knowledge somehow, but none of them could for the life of them figure out what it was! They did seem to think the glowing screens were important somehow. My personal theory is that they had a system like the deep imaskari, where you weren't afforded adult rights until you could pass certain exams, except it worked better because they had longer lifespans." 

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"No, that wasn't it. Everyone had the same rights. It was like... a place, where people went, to learn things. And it wasn't a library. And it wasn't the same as apprenticeships. And I can't think about how it worked. The glowing screens were for one-way broadcast communication, so people could watch moving pictures. Which kind of fulfill the same role as books for entertainment or information, except they have sound and colors and images that move."

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"Hmm. That it was a specific place wasn't in the records that I read, but I haven't any primary sources. Does sound like it could fit, though. Not sure I believe you over my sources, you could be making this all up."  

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"Yeah, whatever, I've gotten that before, check it out"—she displays, in a non-threatening manner, her knife—"it's my fancy shiny knife that probably no one in this world knows how to make without magic. If you don't have any more questions, I guess I'll head out and get to work."

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"The knife is certainly counterevidence for my primary theory, which is that you're trying to get a quick buck out of me somehow. Damn thing looks expensive. Be done quick! And bring my books back!" 

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"Will do!"

She takes the books and heads back. Alright, what is going on? There is a thing she can't think about, which she was able to think about before. Not only is this EXTREMELY DISCONCERTING, not only is it a level of forgetfulness heretofore unknown, but it might be a falsification of the commonly accepted theory that concepts are inherent, the same across all possible universes. Much like how the ratio of a circle's circumference to it's radius is always the same, and it's not even clear what it would mean for it to be different. Well, actually it seems more likely that the concept still exists, but that some part of the magic here gave her brain damage so she can't think about it.

Even though she can't think the antimeme, she seems to be able to think about the antimeme. Although she didn't notice it until her third day here... better safe than sorry. She gets a piece of paper and writes, in large letters, 'remember learning-place antimeme', and puts it with her other papers such that she won't be able to avoid seeing it. If that doesn't work she'll get a tattoo. She adds 'get tattoo if you forget' to the paper. Hopefully that works.

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Sida gets to work translating. It's relatively interesting work, and she gets to learn a lot about the history of the churches of some drow minor gods. Once she gets her first payment, she starts looking around for a place to live. She's used to being pretty frugal, but with her translation superpower and eventually magic, she's going to be pretty well-off, and the amount of studying she needs to do will be more of a constraint than money anyways. She gets a nice apartment in a building with security—she really can't afford to let her clients' texts get stolen or damaged—and hires a few servants. As it turns out, housework takes a lot longer without modern appliances, and hiring people to do it for her is now easily affordable.

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After a few weeks of translating, and finding other clients, Sida is walking down the street when some shouting breaks out - it seems that a disagreement between some mages has, in combination presumably with an excess of wine, caused a fistfight to break out outside one of the local bars. Most people are just doing their best to walk around it, but a few other people are getting dragged in - this one in retaliation to a mis-targeted punch, that one because she's friends with one of the fighters, and so forth. Someone is calling for the guards. 

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Yikes. Best not to get involved with that. Hopefully the guards will break it up.

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It takes a minute for them to get here, but eventually the guards do arrive, a group of 4 people, all in matching armour painted red-and-white - the colours of the blessed of light. Some people have the presence of mind to scatter at this, but the rest proceed to be beaten by the hafts and pommels of the guard's spears until they're no longer able to stand or fight. At which point, the guards proceed to start going through their pockets (though the light of some minor healing magic can also be seen from one guard). 

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Alright, avoid the gangsters. Sida heads away from the scene, and looks for someone to ask questions to, about what just happened.

"Who are those guys? Are they supposed to be the Blessed of Light?"

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A gruff-looking dwarf peddler, remaining stoically with their stall: "Yeah, that's them. They'd kill anyone who used their armour falsely, and nobody else trains people to heal and fight at the same time."  

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"I've heard of them, but I didn't realize they were a violent gang. I'm new in town, guess I've got more to get used to."

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The peddler shrugs. "They're better than the last lot we had, mostly don't bother people who aren't disturbing the peace. Last lot was trying to do 'taxation'. Must have been, oh, 8 years ago? I'm quite glad they're gone."  

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Well, no need to bother this guy anymore.

"Yikes. You have a nice night, I guess."

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'The Blessed of Light' seems like a weird name for a gang. She wouldn't expect them to name themselves with a sort of religious reference like that. Of course, Sida's expectations for what gangs are like are in part based on works of fiction, most of which were not reviewed for accuracy. So she knows she might be getting things wrong.

A couple of days later, when she visits the library, she looks for books related to the Blessed of Light—their history, where they came from, how they operate. If they're too recent, maybe there are archived periodicals that mention them?

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