Dec 06, 2022 2:43 AM
A VN contact team stranded in Loop Hero
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How about pancakes and bacon?

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Whoooooooa.

The kid scarfs down their meal and immediately races off to excitedly tell everybody about the COOL NEW FOODS.

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Cassiel will serve up pancakes and bacon all morning if they're popular!

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They're a pretty big hit.

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The Hero comes back from her latest jaunt mid-breakfast, pokes her head in, and says, "I'm gonna go sing to the campfire now, if anybody wants to come. I dunno what it's going to do but I bet it'll be something."

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"I'll come," says Tarwë.

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She puts on her bard face and straps on her harp. A couple of curious villagers follow them into the middle of town, where the campfire still flickers.

The Hero takes a deep breath and sings the healing song, accompanying herself masterfully on the harp. The villagers are a little shocked to see her making such beautiful music.

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The campfire brightens. Its light carries farther, and it's warmer, and it smells properly of woodsmoke in a way it never has before even with the Hero standing right next to it. In its strengthening glow, everything and everyone seems to get realer. The villagers hug each other and tear up a little, and then run off to grab their friends, and within a few minutes everyone is packed into the vicinity, some of them abandoning their breakfast mid-pancake.

It's hard to tell for sure. But it almost looks like the campfire and its immediate environs are... really real, now. Real in a way that's not being constantly sapped by the encroaching void.

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"Whew," says the Hero, lowering her hands from the harp. "All right. Wow. Hey, everybody. You all doing okay?"

The villagers mumble their assent, some wiping tears from their faces. The Hero smiles awkwardly.

"I... think I'm gonna eat breakfast," she decides. "And then I'll wander through town singing for a while, to make sure I got it all. Or, hmm, should I do a bunch of expansion first and then sing it all in...? I'll figure it out. Breakfast first."

She puts the harp away, but keeps her bard face on as she heads back to the newcomers' house.

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Cassiel is happy to get her pancakes and bacon!

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She starts out eating kind of listlessly, accelerates once she's had a few bites of bacon and scarfs down her first portion inadvisably fast, then slows down again and methodically works her way through three more plates a bite at a time. Like, perhaps, someone who has just realized that their life is less of a screaming emergency than it has ever been before in living memory, and wants to enjoy some pancakes and bacon about it.

"Right," she says at last, heaving herself to her feet. "I'll make one circuit singing at everything, build a whole bunch of expansions and sing at those, then go for another walk. Keep an eye on how fast things fade out, okay? And... probably at this point you don't have to keep such a close eye on your stuff. Though I'd test it first with the things you cared about least, if I were you."

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"I'll keep the recording going," Zanro says. Cassiel makes a little glass figurine, puts it on a shelf, and does not stare at it.

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"Thanks."

She deploys her harp and heads out singing.

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With everything in such a state of elevated reality by default, it's going to get easier to notice that every time Cassiel transforms something into something else, the reality level of the transformed object is less than the original. Maybe reduced by very roughly a quarter, to something in the vicinity of 60-80% its original amount of realness? It's hard to estimate this just by squinting at things as they get blurrier. The effect does also seem to repeat with every transformation, so that cloudfluff turned into pancakes turned into toast will have about three-quarters of about three-quarters of the cloudfluff's realness. Further experimentation might yield more data if they care to try things and see what the results look like.

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Cassiel will go ahead and turn a hunk of fluff into a series of different things experimentally once demand for breakfast dies down.

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The "each thing has about three-quarters of the realness of the previous thing" principle is consistent through arbitrary repetitions as far as she can tell. Eventually, after a few dozen iterations starting from the realest cloudfluff available, the thing will just straight-up vanish mid-transformation. The number of iterations it takes to destroy something is not fully consistent, but seems to have some relationship to how drastic the transformation was, with more-transformed things fading out faster. Very roughly speaking, increasing something's mass by transmutation seems to 'spread out' its reality so that overall it has less, and decreasing its mass seems to 'concentrate' it so that overall it has more.

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(The Hero is now well into her circuit of the outskirts, having expanded the whole village what would have been a wildly reckless amount in the less hopeful world of yesterday.)

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Cassiel continues her previous pattern of expanding her supply of cloudfluff every time she takes something from it and preferentially pulls from that instead of repurposing preexisting objects.

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Repeatedly expanding the supply of cloudfluff will degrade the expanded material's reality level over time, but also, when the Hero passes by with her song, all existing cloudfluff is refreshed to full reality.

She finishes her circuit, changes her face, pokes her head in just to let people know she's heading out, and goes for another walk.

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Zanro keeps the video running, sometimes walks the camera around. Cassiel makes rocks and foods and such. Natsuko attempts to do research wizardry. Tarwë takes diligent minutes about all the events going on, and sings, switching to new songs when the hero is by so she can expand her repertoire. Nelen keeps track of his objects and plays computer games and paces.

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The fade rate is dramatically slower now; even their neglected statuette looks about the same, an hour later when the Hero has been in and out twice, compared to its initial appearance.

She settles into a rhythm of taking a couple of walks, singing to the campfire though it looks just as good as it did last time she sang to it, then taking a couple more walks. Haphazard explorations by the villagers reveal that even the very farthest reaches of the very newest land, right up against the void where everything should look like it's liable to blow away in a stiff breeze, the rocks are still rock-solid.

Also, the villagers spend much of the day wandering around in a daze of sudden hope, hugging each other and crying. The cook obtains ingredients from Cassiel and makes an enormous batch of meat stew, and people congregate by the kitchen for lunch, then go back to processing their feelings.

The Hero misses lunch by more than an hour, out on an unusually long walk. When at last she comes back she reports, "Finally got past the dogs."

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"Congratulations," says Nelen. "What does that imply?"

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"Mostly it implies I get to keep going until I meet the next fucked up person who tries to kill me. The hunter with the star dogs was definitely the worst so far, but I'm betting the next one will find a way to be even worse than that. Still, every time I get past something, the path gets... Bigger? Longer? Has more stuff? I don't really know how to describe it but making progress is good even though sometimes it just feels like getting killed by the same fucker over and over just so I can eventually start getting killed by the next fucker instead."

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"I might be able to make a gun," says Cassiel. "Or like, a sword, if that would improve on what you've got."

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"What's a gun?"

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