Aug 13, 2022 2:14 PM
The Origin Trade Consortium makes contact with Patalon
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She'll crash the photography class. 

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They are taking pictures of a flower, asking Lórien to adjust the lighting and wind conditions to suit the effects they have in mind! One of them has a big film camera rig but most of them are using digital.

"Hey! Did you bump into us on purpose or just 'cause?" somebody inquires when Thorn enters their clearing.

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"Hey! On purpose, I'm waiting around for a stargazing group and decided to drop by. Is that okay?"

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"Sure, no worries. - Ann, try adjusting your exposure there -"

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She is just now realizing that she probably should've brought a camera. (She checks quickly whether her tablet has an inbuilt camera she can mess around with, even if it's not really photography-quality.) Either way she'll hang around and listen to the exercises and chat a little. Is golden rule framing better or worse than rule of thirds framing? Do they know Ansel Adams' Zone System for exposures? Do they have disposable cameras here? She's heard that working with something a little less sophisticated can help you focus on the creative part instead of stressing about the technical parts. Would anyone else like to share some of their past photos? She's happy to offer critique or praise. 

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The tablet does have an inbuilt camera! Disposable cameras aren't very popular but they do exist, especially the instant kind, kids like them. This guy would love to show her his portfolio. He did this timelapse of the view from his apartment, see? And closeups of random kitchen objects.

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She'll gamely critique his portfolio - no reason not to, honestly - and take photos with her tablet camera of the flowers being offered up as subjects - and, hmm, to Portfolio Guy - "You're local, then? I'm visiting from a recently-contacted. Know any good local places? I'm kind of doing the tourist thing but travel guides never catch everything." 

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"Oh, I'm not very local, I take the bus here all the way from Acapulco, but I guess I'm more local than you. But around the Lórien there's, let's see, a café with a bunch of pets like from Stork - tame owls and stuff, by the northside entrance - there's a massage place right in the forest, but their waitlist is awful - place where you can learn to fly, but I hear they're losing customers lately, it's easier to go to Cube than to get flung into the air a hundred times."

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"I don't know Cube yet, what makes flying easier there? The café sounds nice. If there's anything interesting back at Acapulco I'd be interested in that too."

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"Cube has morph, so you go and you get morph and you pick a bird - you get to pick, that way, the spell only does swifts specifically - and it comes with instincts and the spell doesn't. Back in Acapulco I like this one torta shop, Tia Riviera's, and of course the beach."

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"Tia Riviera's, let me just make a note of that." She types up the name on her tablet. "Thanks for the tips." She takes off her pack and fishes in it, coming up with a heavy felt-wrapped roll. "- I brought some gold coins with me from my world, I hadn't realized they'd be almost valueless here. Would you like one? There weren't so many of these made, so it might be worth something as a collector's item even if the gold's not worth much."

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"Oh, sure, why not, I don't collect coins but probably somebody gets really into it somewhere, thanks!"

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She passes over one of the hex-stamped coins, marked with the letters OTC on both sides. "Here you go, then. Thanks again." She smiles. "I should get back to the lessons. Maybe I'll see you again sometime at Tia Riviera's." 

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"I'll keep an eye out!"

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And then Thorn will continue taking photos and chatting to people until the lesson ends or it's time for her to get some supper, whichever comes first. She doesn't strictly need to eat but it's a good habit. If supper comes first she'll go check out the local pet café, otherwise she'll check the schedule of events again.

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The photographers are still going strong by the time it would be a reasonable moment to have dinner. Some of them are just eating the leaves off the trees.

The pet cafe has a panda and a ton of birds and all the fuzziest small mammals and some beautiful snakes and shiny beetles and a few butterflies. On her way in she is invited to choose an armband or set of them based on what animals she would enjoy having approach her.

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She would prefer not to be accosted by the panda or the beetles. The rest are fine. 

She sits and has coffee and a couple sweet buns and observes the behavior of the pets. 

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The pets sit on people and get petted! Some people buy snacks to feed them, and they eat those. They don't have a lot of legible body language indicating that they're thrilled about this but they don't look stressed either, they just seem to accept that this is a thing that is happening.

An owl lands on her knee, being very gentle with its talons, and hoots. A hummingbird investigates her tattoos to see if any of them are secretly flowers. A quokka comes up to her.

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She gently pets the quokka, and pings it curiously with Telepathic Bond. What are its thoughts like?

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This human has the green band on her arm and there weren't already a lot of animals around her so it's here now. She's petting it pretty well. Maybe she will get the itch behind its neck.

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She gets the itch behind its neck. It seems a little smarter than a regular animal if it can recognize the green band on its own. The owl knows enough to be gentle with the claws, too. Stork has smarter animals? She googles cursorily to check if her supposition is correct.

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The internet indicates that Stork animals are Earth-biosphere-typical; Stork magic can take nonsapient animals and cause them to respond to verbal instructions from their original servantmaker (who can then bid them to obey someone else at point of sale).

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Convenient how it's just animals. Uncharitable. But it's certainly some information. 

She might as well read the page on magic on Wikipedia while she's here, get an idea of the lay of the land.

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Magic refers to any phenonemon or system of phenomena which routes around, locally alters, or otherwise does not conform to nonmagical physics. Examples include:

- nonreductionist souls (e.g. Flat Elves and Flat Orcs, Materians, Dreamward natives)
- spells and rituals (e.g. Loki's spells, magic songs, summoning)
- enchanted artifacts (e.g. Flat Arda artifact magic, wizard-enchanted items, hexed items)
- magical locations (e.g. Lórien, Fairyland, Eclipse portals)
- magical species (e.g. Beach shorefolk, the wishmakers, daeva)
- individual magical powers (e.g. Aurum witches, magic rocks, eclipsed)
- origin-based magic abilities (e.g. servantmaking, spellbinding, troportation)
- world- and neighborhood-pervasive magical traits (e.g. Flat Ardas, Wish neighborhood, Materian anticausality)

There is as yet no unifying theory of magic; the categories above are not expected to "carve nature at the joints", and some examples were omitted due to being unclear in their category membership (for instance, it is not yet known if Hazel magicals can be born outside of Hazel, but the children of magical parents in Hazel are reliably themselves magical and some magical Hazel natives have mundane parents and most Hazel residents are mundane, leaving it unclear precisely where the magic comes from). There is also ongoing debate about whether things with well-understood physical mechanisms that rely on particular conditions (morph, warp) should be classed as magic, and Warp psi and subtle artistry are both considered edge cases as well (though psions are not.)
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She could read all of this but that's not her job honestly more worth learning by experience. The important thing is that they're pretty magic-rich and also materially and technologically wealthy. Her guess about the gold seems to have been right, at least judging by the local's reaction. 

She clicks through to the article about servantmaking since it's drawn her attention.

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