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Dec 02, 2022 2:08 AM
Vanda Nossëo meets Har
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Okay, cool. He'll look through things that look interesting and keep an eye out for the recommended books.

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There's a hastily-put-together display of things aliens are expected to potentially find informative, including a recent issue of an almanac, a very high-level history summary in the form of 288 silly poems about historical events or people, an illustrated children's book about the different species, and more copies of the same guide to jewelry he already has.

Freedom and Slavery Through History can be found shelved in between A History of History on the one side and Bans and Regulations on the Use of Magic on the other, on the shelf above Near Antiquity: An Overview and The Second Sinking. A couple shelves further down are thinner volumes in simpler language, including The True Ruby and a couple of slightly repetitive fiction series about caralendar boys of about the same age as would find the writing readable and engaging living through different historical periods. The other recs are nowhere to be found, at least at the moment.

There aren't books about magic in the Ilan section, at least not exactly. In the next bookcase over from the one with all the history there's a book about construction that goes into detail on ward specs; there are fully two dozen different books about genetics; there's a book about command design as a career and a book about how illusion shows are made and a book about the tradeoffs and difficulties of enchanted clothing; there are three books about public health and all of them mention magic; there are children's books about people who make mistakes that cost them their jobs or get them killed or just humiliate them, and most of the mistakes they make involve magic in some way. But it's only over in the Hari section that there's a book of tips for every kind of magic, between a history book called Milocri and Seihra-Gara: Eyewitnesses of the Middle Warring States Period, 144 - 90 Before Unification and a book on Anavel Sani's wildlife. (The Hari books don't seem to be sorted other than by language.)

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The green will buy actually kind of a lot of books, some for him and some for his friends, and ask if he can have them held at the shop until he's done taking photos and ready to pack up and go home.

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Sure! There's an extra charge for that but it's small. Would he like them packed up in some way, too?

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That would be great, they're going to need to go in this backpack here.

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As long as the backpack will fit them that works.

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It will provided they are not packaged in an inconvenient aspect ratio!

On he goes to take more pictures.

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Mangroves? Atolls? Airport? People who could pass for really short elves, if their aesthetics weren't obviously in conversation with a specific artistic tradition that isn't any of the elven ones? Maybe this rustic treehouse over here outside of town, or this orchard surrounded by a fence with a floral motif? He'll have to stop by some other city if he wants to get pictures of any blood sports or see more agerah-focused architecture.

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This city's fine! He will take pictures and collect his books and go home and sell the pictures to the Associated Press.

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And meanwhile a caralendar man in fiddly voluminous clothing subtly decorated with the emblem of the Vesairel clan steps into the alien shop in Pecan Grove and asks about resurrections.

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"Do you want the party resurrected here or is it acceptable for the resurrection to take place outside of Har? Second thing is cheaper," says the Dwarf.

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"I don't currently know of any reason to care but it might be objectionable if, for example, the foreign location had betazoids or ambient surveillance or was subject to area effects, magical or otherwise, that could in Har constitute battery, or if it was for some reason not straightforward to bring them home afterward."

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"Should be straightforward to bring them home afterwards. Not wanting Betazoids around narrows it down but only a little." The Dwarf taps on his computer. "What constitutes ambient surveillance - most locations are demon-conjurable, or theoretically accessible to people who'd report to precognitives -"

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"Do they have rules or pre-existing magic that would interfere with providing our own illusions and defense?"

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"It's only against the rules if that interferes with law enforcement. Illusions won't, standing ready to produce defensive magic won't, actually using defensive magic theoretically could."

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"It has not been our experience that standing ready to produce defensive magic has been very useful against intelligent adversaries. If they object to bringing in small area-of-effect wards then we'll want to resurrect our people in Har."

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"I can check for more specific legal interactions if you want to tell me what you'd be doing."

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"Standard illusions against knowledge magic to protect against unauthorized forking and generally preserve privacy. Protection against command magic and the best we've been able to do against subtle arts, and maybe protection against their magic in case they come back disoriented if that's a common problem... of course ideally we could just do protection from magic in general but that doesn't sound compatible with resurrection in the first place, so I'm thinking how best to narrowly allow resurrection without allowing them to then immediately be turned into pyrophoric chemicals. I think I can but I don't have the specs all written up yet."

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"That all looks... doable, probably at less of a price hike than importing a resurrectionist. And... looks like a lot of these service providers want to limit their provision of services to people who will not upon resurrection be promptly remanded to enslavement or own other persons, is that your situation here?"

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"I would personally bet against it but can't offer a definite guarantee."

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"I don't think any of these are taking 'probably not' as close enough. You don't know?"

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"I was sent here with a budget and a list and suspect I can't get past the first two, maybe not even the first one, on the list. Those two are my head of household's mother and my head of household's woman from right before she was a woman. Both of them were free adults. I do not know either to have been pregnant but it's conceivable a very early pregnancy would have been missed. All their assets have already been divided up but I expect them to be immediately provided with substantial sums of rings by those who miss them if they're returned to us, possibly sums sufficient to purchase people but likely not. I do not know either of them to have been convicted of any imperial crimes but how stupid would I be if I made myself responsible for guaranteeing that someone I've never met and don't expect to have any control over will definitely not decide to go on a murder spree for no reason? Even our laws don't hold you to more than a reasonable expectation that someone will probably follow the law."

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"That's presumably why all this boilerplate says 'promptly'. This is about whether these providers will agree to take the job and how much they'll charge, rather than anything to do with your legal responsibilities. The more you can assure a provider that they won't be abetting slavery the cheaper a service you can get. Should I be talking to whoever sent you here, perhaps?"

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"That might end up making the most sense and if it does I can put you in touch but does it suffice if I say that, if I were speaking to someone who wasn't an alien and with whom I had common knowledge of the norms I usually abide by for honesty and the indication of uncertainty, I'd say 'I don't believe they're promptly going to be slaves or have slaves and I think I would know if they were'?"

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"That's probably good enough for most of the options. You're still looking at... let's see... assuming you're flexible on timing and can wait till this person has appointments, and she doesn't screen you out more than I expect based on her site profile, each resurrection will run you... 402,485 in rings."

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