Dec 06, 2022 2:37 AM
A VN contact team stranded in Loop Hero
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"Dunno. I'm gonna go for a walk and hope that shakes it loose; that's what did it in the end for both the others, but this one took only a couple of trips, the white-haired one took days. I'm hoping it won't be days."

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"Good luck," says Zanro.

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"Thanks."

She walks out.

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And ten minutes later, she's back. The new face has paler hair in a fancier style, and a nicer dress, and what appears to be a harp slung on her back.

"Good news! I'm great at singing now!" she says. "Bad news: singing does very little to stop things from killing me. Honestly I'm surprised I got as far as I did."

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"You can learn more songs," says Tarwë. "Some of them are useful in fights, if you're good enough at it. Can you play that harp? Accompaniment helps."

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"I have a harp?"

She pokes at the case on her back, twists around, pulls it forward, and extracts the instrument from within.

"Huh. I have a harp. I think I can play it but I'm not totally sure what to play, to go with the healing song, I've never composed music before in... my life..." She trails off with a doubtful frown, chewing thoughtfully on her lip. The gesture comes across more gracefully with this face on. "...I think this me has composed music before, actually. Let's find out."

She gets the harp into position, strapped in place and balancing against her chest, and starts to play. That's the healing song all right, and it's being accompanied in - a different style than an Elf might use, but by no means a worse one. Her singing is miles better. She could give concerts in Valinor, with the voice she has now.

The whole house lights up with firm solidity, more than it ever has before. The Hero has her eyes closed and doesn't notice.

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Tarwë is so happy. Nelen sways a bit to the music, smiling.

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She's smiling too, tentatively, when she finishes the song.

"I... don't think this face is for combat," she says. "I can't really use the harp and a sword at the same time. I think it's—"

She touches a wall, presses her fingers into it. It doesn't have that slight give to it, that uneasy not-quite-thereness, that everything else she's ever touched has had.

"—I think it's more useful in here than out there? You should teach me more songs, though, lots of them. And then I should walk around and heal the whole village as soon as everyone's up."

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Tarwë nods. "Do you know how to read sheet music in - this format or this one -" He pulls up an Elf standard and an Earth standard sheet.

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She squints at them both, then shakes her head. "I guess whoever this face used to be didn't write music the same way, sorry. Or it didn't come through right, or something."

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"All right. I can just sing, then." And he runs through more repertoire. Song to walk on water, song to run through trees, song to light up darkness, song to grow plants, song to build walls and fortresses out of stone -

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She's picking them up on a single repetition each now. Most of them she doesn't practice on the spot, but she repeats back the song to light up darkness to make sure she has it right (she does), and when he's been through a bunch of them she suddenly goes "wait, I can use a song to walk on water!" and sings that one from memory (beautifully).

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"Oh, where is there water?" asks Zanro.

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"Sometimes when I'm on the path I see a river, or parts of a river. If I can walk on water then I can step onto it when it's close enough."

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"Rivers are a bit trickier than still water, so ideally you'd have the grace song still helping when you stepped onto it."

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"Maybe I can find enough water to practice on before I try the river, then. In the meantime, what else can I learn?"

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He sings more songs - this one identifies anyone telling a lie, this one slows down everything but you, this one gives you more oomph, this one does accelerated perception -

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She soaks them up like a sponge, but eventually, reluctantly, she says, "I have to get out there and walk again, I need to keep our supplies topped up. Though..."

She looks out at the remarkably unfaded house.

"...maybe it'll be better now that I can sing things real? I'm always worried that if I don't keep us going we'll run out, but... Maybe it's time to rethink that." She shakes her head. "In the morning, though. And if we find another planet I'll be grateful for every rock I drop in a bucket between now and then, to build houses to put people in before they disappear, and land to put the houses on."

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"Should I be making more rocks?" Cassiel asks, from where she's restocking the candy.

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"...I think so. I think it makes sense now to be trying to make more stuff out of less stuff, maybe a lot more, where before I would've told you to go slow and keep an eye on things and not trust anything you let out of your sight. I think the song might make enough of a difference. I do still think you shouldn't rely on things that way if you've changed them around a lot since the last time I sang at them, though."

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"All right." Cassiel starts making rocks and putting them out the window of the house.

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She sings at the rocks on her way out, though she pauses at the border to put the harp away and change her face to a more fighty one.

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Cassiel can just go on making rocks indefinitely, though eventually she has to toss them instead of just piling them up under the window.

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The effects of the song fade so slowly this time that people are starting to wake up by the time things look noticeably dimmer. The Hero is in and out during this interval, mostly out; she complains about dying to the star dogs every time she reappears, usually in her white-haired face.

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The kid comes by in the early morning wanting to see what weird new foods they might have available for breakfast.

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