Dec 02, 2022 12:43 AM
Vanda Nossëo visits a planet with dragons
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"Renewal?" someone says. "Like those trees that need fire in their lifecycle."

"Light, technology in general..."

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"Renewal is a good one. Light, yes. Technology? The aspirational creation of something that didn't exist before. Fire the element is also emotional. 'The fire in your eyes' when you want to win a game, or fiery rage. It's also history, the natural history of Spirit, because spiritual activity leaves impressions. The echoes of past wildfires and the warnings of future ones can be felt where they're common. As I talk about the elements, I want you to try to associate them to experiences and emotions in your own life. Imagine what the magical essence of fire or water might feel like. Try to predict it, what elements are present at a birthday party, what element is an insect most like? At some point, I'll begin channeling the element and looking for signs that you're reacting to them, consciously or unconsciously. I don't expect any obvious signs immediately. Oh, and do interrupt at any time with questions."

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"Are things blends? I think I wanna say earth and air for insects..."

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"Things are blends, yes. Earth is centrally about patience, endurance. Insects are more fire and air."

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"Are any things all of the elements?"

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"Dragons are. People in general are from what I've seen, with more or less of each based on one's personality and life experience, and some animals are as well."

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"Can you tell us what our element balances are?"

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"I could. I think that would be a good thought exercise, though! When we have the foundation done you can feel yourself out and discuss it with me, and then I'll tell you. I am tentatively planning some one-on-one time later, only some of this can be a lecture."

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"Do things that aren't alive have elements?"

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"The way I understand it is, things that have elements are at least a little bit alive. Perhaps the way a microbe is alive more than the way an animal is, but alive. The sun this planet orbits around has Fire and Air - other stars here do not. Stars in other worlds, do not. I'm going to do my best to never, ever visit Materia, but there seems to be a grain of similarity there... Though it's not the whole world, merely large objects within it, that eventually develop opinions by manifesting spirits. This is a new frontier for me as well!"

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"Whoaaaa..."

"What's the smallest thing that isn't biologically alive that has elements?"

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"Smallest thing I've seen that way was a small golden amulet, smaller than a fingernail, that absolutely brimmed with fire. It was a gift given between a couple who had true love, and passed down in the family, and became a magic item, or an item with a spirit within it, whichever you like, over time."

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"Whoaaaa..."

"Is true love a thing, like, ontologically? Here?"

"What did the amulet do?"

"Did the spirit say anything?"

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Solomon laughs. "Not quite ontologically, if I understand that word correctly? True love is my poetic way of describing a particular clear and intense love. But love is something most spirits will recognize, and many will feel - enough love has been felt, over a long enough time, that it's become a rut that the world continues to deepen. It's as ontological as a river is, a result of things rather than a thing-itself. A pattern. Most spirits don't say things as much as they be things. The amulet was being memories of a long chain of mothers passing it to daughters and telling the story. Some had harder lives, some easier. Wearing it would make your hands warm and remind you that things can always get better."

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"Aww, that's sweet."

"Would it stay magic, if it were in a museum or sold to another family or something?"

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"It would! It might lose potency or change eventually, especially in a museum, but for a time at least, it would. Okay, I think it's about time we talk about the other three elements. Fire is active and ambitious, transforming and destructive. Fire burns. Now air, air is just as active - the wind blows all the time, it flits back and forth. Have you ever talked about a 'flight of fancy'? Curiosity is airy too. Air can destroy, but it can be a refreshing breeze just as easily. It can spread the seeds of trees and move boats. What do you all think?"

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"Freedom?"

"It's life-sustaining, you need it more than the other three, more constantly..."

"It's usually not steady, not in nature. Comes and goes in gusts."

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"Air is free, it flows everywhere. It's always in motion. Not everything necessarily needs air - or rather, anything living can be associated with any of the four. Air and water as mediums of exchange, earth as sustenance, animating fire to bring all into motion. Air is fast, the wind can blow quickly. Emotionally, air is linked to curiosity, exploration, freedom. Magic of air might take shape as a breeze, or bring you knowledge from far away or help speed your footsteps, just as magic of fire can be literal warmth or abstract destruction or more metaphorical warmth like inspiration. Water?"

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"Adapts to its container. Locally straightforward but on larger scales meandering. Patient? ...Mysterious?"

"Cyclic?"

"Smoothness?"

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"Adaptive. Mysterious. Cyclic. Smooth. Flowing water may not feel like much, but it is a force that can move mountains. Drop a boulder in its path? It floods or goes around. Freeze it? Eventually it'll melt. Water connects all life. You have the nugget of an idea on the difference of scale, though I wouldn't have put it that way... Examples of water magic would be seeking connections like finding the animals that eat from a certain tree, breathing water, and eventually the same empathy that dragons use to speak. Okay, last one and then I have some poetry and art to show you all. Earth. I've said patient and enduring already."

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"Sudden unexpected violence? Hidden depths?"

"Quiet. Uh, except for the sudden unexpected violence thing. Not - even metaphorically agentic, though, even then. It has the most variety in physical details, is that anything - like there are more kinds of rocks than kinds of water -"

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"I think this is a bit off. Earth has the capacity for immense force, yes, but not in the way fire can lash out, more in the way of - inevitability, unstoppable weight. There are many kinds of rocks, each useful in a different way, and there are even more kinds of soil, that root and nourish life. Motherhood is of earth, fatherhood is of fire. And there's... Hmm. Doing nothing, being still and silent, is a choice. Holding still and waiting, is an action.

'The silent mountain's majesty,
a thing as heavy as the world.
It watches from the center,
letting the trees and grass grow.
It cares not for sun and rain,
like dust falling on the skin.
It stands unmoving, strong, eternal.
If it did not it would not be a mountain.'

...It rhymes in my native language."

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"Oh, I was thinking about earthquakes, does that not play into the metaphor at all?"

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"Oh, somehow you made me think 'volcano'. Earthquakes do fit into the metaphor. I'd say they're pretty unstoppable unless you have the staggering might of Vanda Nosseo's finest at hand."

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"I think there isn't actually a great earthquake prevention system."

"That's beside the point - the poem is nice -"

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