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Aug 08, 2022 3:14 AM
Tintin's stint as an exile is less bad than it could've been
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This is the Iron Age, though, so they sleep and wake up with the sun. It is not soon after the first rays of light start hitting the walls of the house that the sounds of drums can be heard coming from downstairs. And it's definitely drums plural, even though Tintin only saw the one the music sounds like it could not have been coming from a single drum.

Horan looks to be sound asleep, but Taharqi is nowhere to be seen.

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Huh! Well, that's something to investigate! Tintin swings out of his hammock and moseys downstairs.

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Raziya and Sendhei are both awake and dancing together! The sounds of multiple drums are in fact coming from a single drum. Somehow. Magically.

Also, even from the perspective of thousands of years into the future, their dance is entrancing. It's very clearly a two-person dance, with each of them holding one end of a long piece of soft-looking fabric and dancing around each other and the fabric in ways that look like it would take a lot of skill to do without getting the fabric hopelessly tangled up. And they make it look effortless, like the fabric is liquid and just flowing around and past their bodies while they dance. The beats of the drums are in sync with their steps, and whenever they step in sync with each other the fabric shivers as if shaken by wind.

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Tintin is enthralled!

(It's not entrancing even from the perspective of someone from thousands of years in the future. Art doesn't go in a straight line. People have always been making beauty, and just because we develop new and different ways to do so doesn't mean that someone who devotes their entire life to something can't make it glorious.)

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Taharqi walks in from the middle floor balcony, and the brief moment the door spends open is enough to let delicious smells into the house, presumably from some form of breakfast he's preparing.

He walks down the few steps to the living room and leans against the wall to watch, arms folded and a half-smile on his face. "Beautiful, isn't it?" he whispers to Tintin.

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"It's glorious. I would record it, if... why am I not recording?"

He raises his wrist to his face, and there's a momentary flicker of orange light.

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Ooh not-magic can record things! That's very cool!

The dancers heard his words, too, and though they don't know how exactly it works, they're well aware of how to aim a performance at someone. In unspoken synchrony, their movements subtly shift, such that the whole choreography is more visible from Tintin's perspective, such that he has a much easier time capturing the nuances of motion and angling that they make use of.

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Tintin is a reporter, and has been thoroughly trained in how to take a good-quality recording. While also feeling emotional about how he'd really like to send this to his editor back home, if his editor back home exists, which he's not sure of.

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The choreography apparently has an actual storyline or something, even though it looks like a lot of it is being improvised, as the types of motions and moves they use change over the duration. They become faster and more forceful, with sharp stops and swivels, eventually even getting to a point where they spend a bit without moving at all, locked into a step where they stare into each other's eyes and the fabric slowly floats down, or look away from each other in dramatic poses. There comes a part where Sendhei starts lifting Raziya sometimes, twirling her while she's wrapped in the fabric and then twirling her back and freeing it.

It works up to a climax, growing more desperate and animated. The drums accompany the speedup, and the synchronised steps become more frequent, half of the movement of the silks controlled by the magic instead. Going from pure body language, the dance seems to be about lovers going through various troubles together and apart, at times in harmony and at times at cross-purposes. The performance hits a crescendo, with the fabric starting to look less free and more entangled with them, and it might become clearer that it's meant to represent blood, that it flies around and from their necks and wrists and hearts more and more, until eventually -

- everything stops, all at once, with Sendhei holding Raziya's body above his head while she holds herself in an artfully inanimate pose, the silks wrapped around her neck and her face still and pained, as if dying with regrets.

And they just breathe, there, in silence, for several seconds.

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Tintin shuts off the camera and applauds, once he's reasonably sure they're done.

"That was lovely," he says inadequately.

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    After a couple more seconds Sendhei carefully lowers Raziya onto the floor and then turns to their audience with a grin. "Thank you!"

"Was that all improvised?" wonders Taharqi.

        "Not all of it," says Raziya.

    "It was her idea, we were thinking about our old routines and talking about which ones we liked best and we decided to do a little combination of them."

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"My God, I couldn't even tell you were improvising. - is it time for breakfast."

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"It is indeed."

    "And what mighty breakfast this must be," calls Horan as he walks downstairs. "I slept like the dead, and the air smells like a feast! I am starting to rethink my decision to return to the north."

            "Does he always speak like this?" wonders Sendhei.

        "Yep," replies Raziya. "- at least since he remembered how to, anyway."

Taharqi shakes his head and makes his way past Horan upstairs to go fetch the food while Sendhei begins setting the - well, not table, but floor, anyway.

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Tintin assists!

"Horan, I'm glad to see you doing well. If you consent, I'd like to scan you with my omni-tool and see if there's any remaining problems from your possession that I can help with? You don't have to, but I'm curious."

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    "I would certainly not refuse. Better to find anything wrong earlier than later."

And meanwhile here's Taharqi balancing a couple of larger bowls to get served from. "Outta the way, coming through," he says, unnecessarily, as there's no one in his way really.

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Tintin attempts to convince Horan to stand still for a few moments while the scan takes place, then sets about the food (like a starving varren, as per usual) while looking over the results.

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Horan is now a perfectly healthy specimen of Iron Age human! Which is to say much much healthier than the average Iron Age human, probably courtesy of all the magic food he's been consuming on the trip here, but he's still got all of the signs of early issues, like bad childhood nutrition and having had worms and having had broken bones that didn't quite set right and all that jazz.

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Well, some of those things can be fixed, but most of them would require invasive surgery for marginal benefit. "No acute issues," he reports. "Let me know if - actually, this goes for all of you: let me know if you ever feel particularly under the weather, and I'll take a look and see what I can do. I can cure rather a lot of illnesses."

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"- can you share? I mean, can you - teach other people to cure illnesses?"

Taharqi had found Tintin's not-magic interesting enough, sort of, something between a cool party trick and an interesting way to be more efficient about resources, but at that he sounds much more interested. Intense, even.

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"...to an extent. I can't make another omni-tool, not without a lot of resources I don't have, but I could print you a field medicine guide. ...and teach you about germ theory - disease is caused by tiny animals, too small to see, they can't survive boiling water and that's why you boil water before you drink it but there's actually a lot more implications of it than that, I should - do you have paper, or papyrus or parchment or anything like that -"

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"- I do but it's not urgent. Or any more urgent than anything else. Sorry if I came off - it's just, I'm - somewhat very closely acquainted with just how many people die of things we have no idea how to deal with."

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"I know. It's - you know, I had fantasies, as a child, about going back in time and teaching Aristotle about orbital mechanics, Hippocrates germ theory. I think everyone back home does, honestly, or everyone with a certain mindset. Now I'm here and it all just feels... overwhelming. Like if I don't teach you everything I know I'll be failing you and everyone else on this planet."

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Wow that's a level of taking responsibility even greater than Taharqi's, he's impressed.

"Well, perhaps what we should do is prioritise? As in, create a priority list."

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"...not a bad idea. Probably germ theory is relatively high on the priority list... also, morbid as it may seem, I might want to reprogram my omni-tool so that if I die it will teach someone else to use it."

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