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May 21, 2022 3:09 PM
Griffie in the Hari Empire
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Griffie was just doing some regular gardening tasks when ey experienced a conflagration that tore a hole in reality. Ey falls through the tear while failing to call the spacetime police, and then finds that the sensation of dissolving is even more distracting than suffocation, but not quite distracting enough to prevent em from using an emergency casting of modified Life Bubble to make it stop.

And now ey's stopped dissolving and can breathe! Also, the tear is gone. Ey looks around.

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In a small room with one window and one door, there is a human teenager too tall to lie down in this room, shouting angrily in a tonal language.

Well. He'd rather come across as angry. In fact he's more terrified than anything else.

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Griffie doesn't speak the language yet, but understands terrified humans who want to look angry! Ey puts eir hands in the air such that spellcasting gestures or reaching for weapons would at least be pretty obvious, and backs towards the door while apologizing in Celestial and Draconic, trying to make the apology pretty clear from voice. Does this help?

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That helps. The door's locked by a deadbolt and by magic; Valanda undoes the latter while glaring suspiciously and without apparently moving.

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Okay. Warded door. Griffie will try to undo the deadbolt in a very still-not-attacking-you way and then leave. What's on the other side of the door?

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A hallway, slightly dimmer than humans prefer and with slightly lower handles on the doors. There are stairs.

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Okay. There's a window, showing some above-ground stuff, so the way out should be downstairs unless the architecture is weird. Griffie would really like to figure out how to cast Life Bubble like this on purpose, but not while trespassing in someone else's building. Ey heads downstairs looking for an exit.

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There's a lobby on the ground floor with the front door in it. It lets out on an open market square, setts-paved, surrounded by buildings painted abstractly in natural colors vaguely reminiscent of a forest. Out in the market are some stalls where people are selling fruit, blood, honey, and odder things than that.

The most populous species around seems to be some sort of furry quadruped with hands; then there are tiny birds and some mostly-feline quadrupeds and a couple of pointy-eared humanoids.

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Alright. This is at least plausibly a place where Griffie is allowed to be. Ey finds an out-of-the-way spot, sits down, and starts spell diagramming like eir life or at least eir extremely valuable resources depend on it.

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It is indeed a place where Griffie is allowed to be.

Commerce occurs. A couple of people look at Griffie with badly-disguised curiosity.

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Griffie would engage with this were ey not rushing to figure out a spell. The thing where people don't have souls is weird. The thing where Griffie hasn't even heard of this language family at all is weird. The entire portal incident is extremely weird. All of this can wait until after Griffie finishes a spell.

…and it's done. Even without working soulsense, Griffie still feels safe enough to close eir eyes to meditate for fifteen minutes to get the spell prepared. Does anything disrupt this process?

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Nope. Griffie can keep doing their thing as word of them quietly makes its way to the imperial government.

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What a coincidence! Given that this place is not a horrible screaming disaster, Griffie would like to look for something which looks government-ish or church-ish or otherwise likely to have people who speak a lot of languages and not be a private residence or a business that presumably is only interested in people with non-dissolving currency. It'd be nice if Speak with Animals worked, but if everyone has some kind of soul-hiding abjuration, that'd be pretty surprising, and it works pretty badly on non-animals to begin with. Probably not worth the sphere-1 slot if Griffie hasn't even tried looking around.

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Griffie can at this time visit one of the open-air market stalls, one of the buildings that all look about like the one they landed in, or if they venture a bit further afield, one of the taller buildings further from the square or a park or... a building that looks differently proportioned and is, in fact, city hall.

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The market stalls appear to be taking a local currency ey doesn't have and probably prefer trade goods that don't immediately dissolve into nothingness. Going into other people's apartments on purpose would be unproductive. Griffie investigates the taller buildings, but if they're also private in some way will end up at city hall.

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Some of the other buildings are open but mostly just contain businesses that are also probably not interested in dissolving trade goods. Nowhere seems to be a church, or anything.

City hall seems to be at least partly staffed by birds, one of whom tries to say something to Griffie.

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Griffie does not understand the bird! Ey responds by saying "Does anyone here speak the language Celestial?" and then iterates through eir many languages, including a language that crackles and a tonal language with a small consonant inventory.

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This eventually gets Griffie presented with a metal plate with a moving, speaking illusion of a language teacher on it.

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Griffie takes the plate and tries to convey gratitude really clearly with body language.

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Griffie gets out a sketchbook and pencil, and depicts a normal-looking hummingbird and an aggressive looking hummingbird, then a minimalist sketch of each posture next to the clearer drawing.

Ey then draws a hummingbird not interacting with anyone paired with a calm hummingbird sketch in a circle, and someone hitting a hummingbird paired with an aggressive hummingbird sketch in a circle. Hopefully this will get the concept across.

A series of sketches of Griffie hanging out in the city, looking at the tablet and sleeping, with sun-cycles used to indicate several days. Empty circle.

Griffie making a weird hand gesture, and a scroll with text on it coming out of eir mouth and going near a hummingbird's head. Empty circle.

Ey goes to hand over the sketchbook, then facepalms. Ey tears a corner off the paper, moves as if to set it down, and it immediately dissolves when ey lets go of it. Ey shrugs and looks to see if the hummingbird people have ideas.

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The staff discuss the situation amongst themselves and get the attention of one of the people currently helping some hapless citizen with some kind of paperwork; that person wanders over and looks at the paper.

A picture of a calm hummingbird appears in the empty circle with Griffie looking at the tablet; then there's further baffled discussion; then a picture of a calm hummingbird appears in the other empty circle.

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Okay! That is pretty helpful!

Griffie attempts to use Speak with Animals to speak with the least-warded person in the room. From their perspective, this looks like Griffie making some weird hand gestures and muttering something while touching eir headband, followed by nothing interesting actually happening. Griffie shrugs, sighs, and erases the bit where the scroll with text actually got near the hummingbird's head. Ey doesn't have a very good eraser.

Ey then makes a few guesses and sketches things again: Griffie assaults the other species around. Angry hummingbird. A local person puts coin on a stall and takes something. Calm hummingbird. Griffie takes something from a stall without putting coin. Angry hummingbird. Griffie holds out the paper again in case they want to convey any more information in this format.

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Those guesses are all correct and result in Griffie being handed another tablet. This one just has writing on it.

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This seems kind of unhelpful given Griffie's current illiteracy. Is there at least writing in the language video?

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It's not immediately visible, at any rate.

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Griffie performatively attempts to read the second tablet, then frowns exaggeratedly.

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