Jul 06, 2022 8:42 PM
A VN contact team stranded in Loop Hero
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"When you said you could get mana from other people, does that mean just people who are from the right world like you, or could you get it from people here, too?"

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"People from worlds where mana doesn't recharge usually still have some," says Natsuko. "It just doesn't come back if it's used or taken. But it doesn't look like there are a lot of people here."

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"There's not a lot of people here but one of them is me," she says. "Does it hurt, or do anything bad to people, to take their mana? Because if not, you should try taking mine, and then I should go for a walk, and we should see if I have it again when I get back."

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"It doesn't hurt or do anything bad to people under ordinary circumstances but this world is very very strange," says Natsuko, "so I don't especially want to try that in the first fifteen minutes of our being here especially without a good model of why you think you might recharge."

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"Eh, fair enough. You should have some time to settle in. Just—if you can find a planet that hasn't been eaten yet—planets are big, you know?"

She shakes her head.

"Anyway, the reason I think I might recharge is partly because I come back to life when I die out there, but mostly because I'm pretty sure every time I take a walk I reconstruct a little piece of the world from scratch. If anything in this world can bring back a part of someone that's not supposed to be renewable, I'm it."

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"Well. I'll try it if we run out of better options, but this early on, I think better options include 'wait'," says Natsuko.

"What do you mean about reconstructing a little piece of the world from scratch?" asks Nelen. "Is this a problem that can be fixed by adding more stuff to the world, Cassiel can do that and she doesn't run down a resource like Natsuko."

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"Stuff doesn't—actually, back up just a little. Am I successfully getting across that I don't know whether, right now, there's a whole planet out there, full of however many people are supposed to be on a planet, which I'm betting is more than a couple dozen, that won't be there in fifteen minutes?"

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"- that had not come across, no," says Nelen.

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"Okay. Well. I don't know that. There might be one. There might not. There might be no planets left anywhere, or there might be a million of them all safe for years to come, I don't have the first clue and I don't have any way to find out except if you guys come up with something. But that's why I want to try things instead of waiting. In case waiting loses planets. I don't even actually know if there's any way to safely make this camp big enough to support a planet's worth of people, but, you know, I would rather have the problem 'we found a planet and it's in danger and now we have to figure out what to do with it' than have the problem 'we don't even know if there's a planet to find', even though the first one's harder. Because if the planet's there and in danger, it's there and in danger whether I know about it or not. And even if all we can save from it is another couple dozen people, that's a couple dozen more survivors than it would've had without me."

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"- our people have resurrection," Nelen volunteers after a beat. "I don't actually know if the state of the art will work on people from here, because here is weird, but a universal version is in the works."

"Maybe I should take a tiny tiny bit of your mana, just enough that I'll be able to tell if it grows back," says Natsuko, "and not enough that it appreciably reduces how much there is to work with - I'm holding as much as I can, right now - maybe I could offload more onto Tarwë first, he might not be holding his max -"

"Go ahead," says Tarwë.

She attempts this. "- okay. I made a little room in my capacity and I can take a little off you now. Do you have a name, or -?"

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"I'm just the Hero. I haven't tried to figure out what my name used to be or pick a new one. Go ahead and grab a little mana from me, and we'll see if it comes back after I go for a walk."

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Natsuko tries tapping the Hero for a leeetle bit of mana.

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A leetle bit of mana is certainly available at this address, and plenty more besides. If tapping someone for mana is the sort of action that tells you how much mana they have going, Natsuko may observe that the Hero has, like, a lot - definitely more than one person's worth, plausibly more than five.

"All good?" she says.

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"- yeah. You have a lot of mana for someone who isn't actually a wizard."

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"Somehow I'm not surprised. —there's been some hints that I am actually three different people merged into one, on top of all the other weird bullshit. Anyway. I should go for a walk. Do you guys need anything special while you wait? Somebody'll probably come by to feed you in a bit."

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"We should be okay - is it all right for Cassiel to turn some of the air into stuff -" says Nelen.

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"...some of the air? I'd be a little concerned. Uh, one sec, let me grab you something we've got plenty of."

She ducks into one of the nearby thatched huts, and comes out with what looks to be a small bundle of firewood.

"Will this work?"

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"Yes, that works fine," Cassiel says. "Also I can turn the air into more air, if you're low on air, it's just most places aren't." She starts turning a piece of firewood into cloudfluff and then expanding it into a larger amount of cloudfluff.

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"I'd be cautious about that if I were you, in case something about you turning things into other things breaks whatever makes them stay real," she says. "I don't have any reason to think we're running out of air, I just also don't know how I'd notice if we were, you know? Anyway. If you're fine for now, I'll head out. I should be back in a quarter hour or so."

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"Thank you," says Nelen. Cassiel slows down a bit on turning the cloudfluff into more cloudfluff but still slowly goes about making a bench for all of them to sit down on together.

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The Hero waves and walks away; the world dims in her wake.

Cassiel's bench is maybe a little dimmer and more faded than its surroundings, but it's solid to the touch and does not collapse if sat on.

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"I'm writing as fast as I can," murmurs Tarwë.

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About five minutes later, the kid from earlier returns, carrying a loaf of bread in one hand and a hunk of cheese in the other.

"Hey, real people. You hungry?" they ask, holding up the food.

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"Do your people need the food? We'll be all right without, and Cassiel can make food," says Nelen.

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"We've got enough. She'll probably bring back more than this from her walk. Suit yourself, though," shrugs the kid.

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