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May 21, 2022 3:36 PM
An imperial heiress has a very pleasant vacation.
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Valid! The Gardenians certainly don’t go out of their way to explain the cultural significance of their own orders (most of which appear to be bowls of broth, which appropriately enough have a not-very-pleasant acrid smell to them, and which they drink through a sort of proboscis, separate from the pitcher-derived mouth they ate their appetizer with). Sweeten happily continues chatting about their mutual interests with Dyva, and definitely has a handful of recommendations from the library, and will almost certainly have more in the future given they plan to return to the stacks as soon as the meal is complete.

That reminds Sweeten, who offers Dyva another odd, formless glow, similar to the one which the liaison-guide used to link Dyva to her quarters. “This is the communication code for my suite. This way you can contact me if you want to talk more without relying on the ship’s serendipity matrix to cross our paths for us.”

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Dyva is quite used to the various strange smells that come from spending time in places inhabited by giant carnivorous plants, and more generally, the strange smells produced by a garden containing many strange and alien things, so she doesn't react negatively to the smell of the broth (she takes a little moment to be smug that many of her peers likely would have wrinkled their noses and sneered and thus set back interuniversal trade) 

Dyva will take the communication code, and resolve to look into learning more about information technology (like, for example, "what is information technology"). This should probably be her first priority. Her only point of reference is mail, and to a lesser extent, communication-scrying, which is a specialised magical ritual few people can afford, since it requires a skilled mage on both sides of the connection.  

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When she gets back to her suite, she will have no trouble prompting its library connection to produce tomes about the particulars of various information technologies, including a pamphlet on the Galaxia's own guest internet, which works a bit like communication-scrying except better in every way. It's fully automated for one, so all Dyva would need to contact Sweeten would be to direct her will towards either the wall-mounted, hand-held, or wearable looking glasses available to her with the intent of reach them. There are a number of other things she can do with the glasses as well, such as essentially an entire second library of pre-recorded visual and audio media, and several live feeds, including but not limited to a diverse selection of live music and theater, various views of the passing Star Ocean some of which include voice-overs describing what sort of native lifeforms of the Star Ocean might be seen during travel, and an internal news feed about various activities and events on the ship schedule.

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This is So Cool! Dyva will mentally note that these things need to be implemented in her homeworld, asap. Dyva will check out the news feed and the wildlife monitor to see if anything interesting is happening, and then settle down to read some of the books Sweeten recommended on metaphysics, maybe leaving the wildlife feed running in the background if it's not too distracting. If she has discovered texting (and an explanation of the norms of semi-asynchronous communication mediums), she may experiment with sending commentary to sweeten now and then. 

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The wildlife monitor is not currently super interesting, but is very chill and probably works quite well as background listening while reading! The video for the wildlife monitor includes a toggleable chat sidebar, which plausibly leads Dyva to experimenting with chats elsewhere, and thus to Sweeten being very pleased at Dyva liveblogging her reading at them!

The books themselves are pretty dense, expecting a lot of thought on part of the reader, though more because the writer moves through topics at brisk pace rather than them being obscurantist, which probably suits Dyva pretty well! It starts with a broad overview of common categories of metaphysics across a large sample of asterisms, with a digression about the state of art with ontomediation and how metaphysics tends to be one of the most variable aspects of reality between worlds, before an index pointing to various more in-depth descriptions of various model metaphysics, including a few that have notable similarities with her homeworld and many that are quite different. Phenomena like semantoinertial encapsulation (which includes the behaviors of Names as a subset of its parameter space) are apparently well-documented, albeit somewhat rare across the sample worlds. There's a sidebar about Goldenvale specifically, which briefly discusses Mythos as an area of active research, and convenient includes references to more specialized papers that explore it more deeply, and which the looking glasses can automatically cross-reference in the likely scenario that Dyva wishes to do some research prior to the Galaxia's arrival.

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Dyva will absolutely discover the joys of chatrooms via wildlife stream, though she will probably be uncomfortably formal in public chatrooms until she gets a sense for the vibe. And then, who knows. 

She's def interesting by the implication that Names (and by extension, stories in general?) are rare across the worlds? She had been getting the vibe that the stories were totally different elsewhere, but for them to just ... not happen, seems extremely disconcerting. Her entire life has been a story, and she knows how it ends (with an explosion), and had accepted that, even if she was gonna claw towards godhood anyway. But maybe she can just ... not do that? Maybe this time, the villain can just win? Not like, everybody-looses-but-you-lost-least win, or be driven back but survive to threaten the next generation, or die but leave the world irreparably changed, but just ... have a happy ending. That'd be nice. She'll look into the mythos, if there are papers on it. It never hurts to have some familiarity with the alien power you will be welding to your soul in a few weeks. Especially since she doesn't really know how rare or special it is in the grand scheme of things.

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Some of the other chat-goers will probably reassure Dyva that chatrooms are often relatively informal matters, though none of them here will pressure her to change her tack once this has been explained.

Going from this particular text, stories are often much less strongly metaphysical, with most worlds having narratives arise primarily as an emergent consequence of the circumstances of physical consciousness.

If these works on metaphysics present the possibility of shrugging the yoke of fate, then referenced papers prove its certainty. There's plenty of technical details revealed by the research, but alongside them is beautiful truth that Mythos is the power to tell the universe that your choices are meaningful, not because they align with the stories that came before you or the ideals of the gods, but because you made them, they align with your will. Your story is yours to write. Narrative metaphysics are relatively rare, but powerful self-reinforcing narrative forces like Mythos are vanishingly so. And soon, Dyva shall have hers.

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For someone who wasn't already in possession of a versatile transitional Name, this would be an infinitely huge deal (instead, it is a slightly smaller infinity of huge-deal-ness, but with a much better perspective to appreciate that). People have to be stubborn enough to keep Names, and well-aligned with the story the name depicts, and able to defend it against everyone who wants to kill you to free up the role in the eyes of the world for someone else. Heiress is one of the most versatile transitional Names in the world, though - unlike names like Apprentice or Squire, whose possible lines of promotion are limited (though not stultifying so) it can become almost anything, if it fits your inheritance and how you wield it. And Dyva has had pivots, those moments where it feels like the whole world stands in the balance of your next decision. A handful of times. The weight of every decision being like that is almost terrifying - but Mythos is user friendly. You're the one deciding what your choices mean, not the gods and the bards. She is uniquely positioned to appreciate that, and why that is better than the alternative. Nobody likes, for an example chosen for no reason at all, for the decision that defines your life to be picking between your childhood friend and your garden. Also, if she understands correctly, the constant pivots are accompanied by the constant accrual of new Aspects. Cultivate and Summon are good aspects that have served her well, but she had been aware that third would be her last, and proportionally life-defining. She considers what she'd have to do to get an aspect pertaining to constant personal growth, like the Ranger's Transcend, but then she remembers that in fact, she will by the time the year is out have several powers pertaining to constant personal growth. Still, more does not sound like a problem - they're well-known to be among the strongest powers a Name can give, if you live long enough. And Mythos sounds stronger than all of them combined. 

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It certainly seems to be!

Dyva is free to continue exploring the Galaxia's vast library as long as she cares to. The wildlife monitor might encounter a live sighting once or twice, and she might learn some things about how truly strange the lifeforms that inhabit the Star Ocean's waters. If she grows hungry or thirsty again, she's free to visit one of the dining amenities or to order room service via a looking glass. The liaison-guide also mentioned a personal garden earlier, which she might like to see. If she ever grows tired and wishes to retire, her suite naturally also includes a supernaturally luxuriant bed as well, with adjustable temperature, humidity, airflow, background sound, and more.

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Dyva has not really considered what the optimal set of environmental parameters for sleeping were before that moment, but she'll certainly not let that stop her from optimising them! It will probably take her some advice from the Galaxia's excellent automated systems to make good selections without a few weeks of trial and error. Room service is tempting, but she decides in the end that it would be a waste to never leave her rooms, so she makes sure to get basically presentable and go to a dining hall at least once a day, and usually more often.

She will *absolutely* check out the personal garden. 

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It's quite large, and despite seeming to be open air, comes with climate controls of comparable diversity and precision as the bedroom, with further variable for things like phases of light and dark, periodic weather of various forms, and even metaphysical attributes such as various sorts of background magic, ancient essence, et cetera.

It's been pre-populated with a diverse selection of wildflowers, but there's a well-stocked toolshed, including a connection to the cargo hold to let Dyva access the equipment she brought.

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Dyva should probably not spend hours gardening at this precise moment, she still has metaphysics and context-catching-up to study so that she's not such a multiversal rube when she does get to Goldenvale. But she will still wander around taking inventory of all the plants and beds which she has available to her, and maybe doing any obvious tasks which need to be done, if there are any.

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The garden preset is essentially in a wild state, so no active maintenance is necessary unless she wants to tame it into some other shape! It's got a wide variety of plants, approximating a plains biome albeit without the fauna, and while none of the species are familiar to Dyva to begin with, there are plentiful resources for identifying and describing them to be in the library, whenever she chooses to explore that topic. Even in this untamed state, it could be a pleasant place to continue reading, listening, and watching, if she's in a more outdoors-y mood.

Otherwise, there will not be any meaningful interruptions to Dyva's activities, be they sleeping, gardening, consuming media, consuming food and drink, chatting with Sweeten over the glass or in person, or possibly making some other friends (such as a handful of other cruise-goers that Sweeten and their colleagues happen to know of from prior business, or some of the people she's seen in the wildlife monitor's chatroom).

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Then, she will spend the next week doing all those things, and enjoying herself greatly, until it is time to arrive in Goldenvale. 

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Over the course of the following week, the character of the Star Ocean, whether viewed from the wildlife monitor or from any open deck, begins to change. The waves in the surface of the black grow larger in one direction and smaller in the opposite, with the former waves slowly converging into a massive pillar of dark water, then narrowing into a glittering obsidian needle piercing the sky, which eventually becomes too narrow to see at all. This process then reverses, with a needle of the same general shape growing wider on one side of the ship, becoming a pillar, and then breaking down into waves of steadily smaller size, before eventually reaching a similar state to how it was when Dyva first boarded, though there's a subtle difference all around, almost like a change in air pressure though not exactly that. There's a weight to the atmosphere, which she may recall being mentioned in one of the papers on Mythos as being a consequence of the extreme narrative physic of this world.

"We have arrived at our first destination! You are free to deboard at will." The message resonates sourcelessly through out the Galaxia.

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... it's just like the weight of the most momentous moments of her life, or the brief moments when she witnessed the death of a senior Named, and knew that much would come of this. Dyva has trouble selecting her preferred breakfast without double-checking for life-or-death consequences to the decision. God, what must it feel like to be making a decision that actually matters. She avoids so much as selecting her next piece of reading material until she's a little more used to it.    

When she's ready to debark, she attempts to find any further information about what the plan is here? Will she be guided or announced, is there a brochure, etc? She doesn't particularly feel the need for any of those things, but she does want to know what, exactly, has been arranged in advance here?

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The liaison-guide, same as before, can called on through the looking glass to provide any information she requires. Arrangements have been made with immortal pair Thunder and Sea, who will also be available alongside the liaison-guide to guide Dyva to her desired activities and souvenirs in Goldenvale, as well as to help the liaison-guide answer any questions which she thinks of during her stay. Her looking glass can still connect to the Galaxia's information network, and thus can be used to view the library or any of the video streams, which now include several views of locations spread through Goldenvale's world in addition to locations in and around the Galaxia in the Star Ocean. Sweeten can also still be contacted through it.

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Dyva will, she thinks take the chance to go explore Goldenvale a little, since she has time before the feast. Can the liason-guide recommend anywhere neat to visit? Maybe a market or a botanical garden? ...or a garden store, the variety will be less interesting, but they let you take things home with you. Does she have any local currency, or the ability to exchange her silver for some? 

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Goldenvale is frankly a bit undeveloped, economically. There's a trading square where the local mixed mortal population come when they have products to trade or news to share, where Thalassa Cruises' backing will let her pick up a reasonable amount of any mundane souvenirs she might like, included no doubt many cuttings of various cultivars of local plants both familiar and alien. Thalassa Cruises' negotiations with Goldenvale in particular unfortunately mean that she can't just Buy Everything, even with her own currency, for the sake of not collapsing the local economy, which is still in its very early infancy. For what it's worth, Goldenvale is quite picturesque, a wide and fertile river valley. It's not especially golden at the moment, but Dyva can access pictures and videos of the valley during harvest time later in the year, and it is indeed all but filled with golden stalks of cereal grain.

She might also hang out with Sweeten a bit, who is with their party out beyond Goldenvale's limits, taking samples of various local flora to take back to Walled Garden. Their primary goal of forming new business contacts is a bit stymied by the relatively strict economic on-ramp regulations, but they can still at least see if anything here might be valuable product or offer some unique hybridization opportunities.

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Dyva will go hang out with Sweeten for a bit, and then maybe go to the market (and dutifully avoid collapsing the local economy) after she gets bored of helping people who are being systematic about things. She thinks Goldenvale is very pretty, with all the newly-planted crops and fresh spring leaves. 

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It's a distinctly pleasant time! It's rustic, especially compared to the luxury of the Galaxia (though she's welcome to return to it any time) but certainly not lacking in charm.

A local day passes, the liaison-guide mentions that Thunder and Sea have contingently completed their preparations, and that Dyva is free to help begin the festivities at her leisure.

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Dyva will attend promptly; there's no need to hold things up, or to insult her hosts by getting distracted by plants. 

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The longhouse where the feast is being held lies close to the bottom of Goldenvale's central river, and several coracles and canoes can be seen pulled from the river's shore. Smoke rises from the house's stone chimneys, and the smell of cooking over a fire emanates from its door, and rolls out in a wave as Dyva steps inside. There's a long table through the house's central room, split in the middle to make room for fire pit where food is currently being prepared. There are eight people present, including two who match the description of Thunder and Sea that she's received, the former a tall and pale man with golden hair and shocking blue eyes, the latter a woman of even greater height and width and dark skin with an almost ashen cast, long black hair dangling in untamed locks and red eyes that shine like the cooking fire. Red-haired Fate and the corpse-grey nameless brother are also visible, helping cook and tend to the fire respectively, but the four other present guests are not familiar. Notably, one of them has bright green skin and solid black eyes, much in contrast with everyone else present.

Thunder turns towards the door as Dyva enters, and greets her with a wide smile. "Ah, our far-traveling guest of honor! Welcome to our home! Please make yourself comfortable, and take what food and drink appeals to you. We are still preparing for the true feast, and waiting for most of the other guests to arrive, but once more are here, to festivities can properly begin."

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Dyva had consulted with Galaxia's guide, and apparently none of the food will be poisoned. It's better safe than sorry, so she's on most of the antidotes she can be on without negative side effects. 

She takes a seat in a suitably guest-of-honour-y chair, and will take something nice to drink, and introduce herself to all the guests currently present, and solicit introductions from them. 

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