Jul 06, 2022 9:39 PM
An unsuspecting box finds itself in the Serpent Isles
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After a few minutes someone shows up again, looking... anxious? Perhaps?

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Oh. Oops. She scared the poor sad king. This is a downside of not hiding in a small drawer, or her room.

“I’m fine,” she sniffles, “sorry to scare you, just, um. It’s. Been longer than I thought since I died.”

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He releases a breath. "So... you're fine? No catastrophes or emergencies?"

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“Yeah, none to speak of. I actually did a lot of magical experimentation and think I can make improved mana storage devices now, among other things, just, um.” She sniffles again. “… sorry for scaring you.”

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"It's alright. I... didn't realise you wouldn't have known. I know... how it feels... to suddenly notice it's been a thousand years."

He hesitates, but she doesn't seem to want him gone - he's not as good as Zerin was at this, but he's learned any of it, and has had a thousand years of being a King (...well, kinda) to practise. So he walks over to her and makes to sit on the bench, not right next to her in case she wants space, but not so far that she'll feel like he's actively trying to stay away.

(Zerin had intuitions for this kind of thing. All Viego has is rules. Many, many rules.)

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“It does seem like the kind of problem that would be pretty normal here,” she agrees, a little wryly. She smiles at him when he sits down, so clearly she doesn’t want him to go away. For a little while, she’s quiet, and just looks at the pretty garden.

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“… I think I’m just angry, really. I just did magical research in three hours that would have taken me years of careful and obsessive theorycrafting to get around to testing to be sure it could possibly be worth the mana cost. I walked into a library and could just, just, ask for help and get it and look up what had changed since I died! You have a lovely tentacle librarian who is a total sweetie and very helpful, and, and. For a thousand years I didn’t have any of this. Nobody ever… I had to fight and scheme and bite and claw for everything, for every scrap of being awake and staying awake and getting to do what I wanted when I wanted. And I could have just been here. Somehow that’s just... not worse, I guess, but it makes me want to cry, so um. Here I am.”

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Zerin would know what to do here better than Viego does, he thinks for the he's-long-since-stopped-counting-th time. And for the he's-long-since-stopped-counting-th time he wrenches his thoughts away from that and manually overrides this helplessness to try to figure out what to do, himself.

...a part of him wants to hug her but that's probably the part of him that's attracted to her so it should be ignored.

Instead what he does is turn slightly around to face her and open his body language a bit, softening his features and tilting the angle of his shoulders and head. That probably achieves "understanding and sympathetic but not overbearing or overstepping". "Why... was that the case? What was preventing you from doing more, or coming here earlier?"

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"Oh. Um. So if I don't have enough mana to, to operate my mind, then... I can't. I call it being asleep, because I'm not dead, really, but. I certainly don't have proper dreams or anything. And in order to be 'awake', I need both a large store of mana and a semi-steady supply of mana to keep the proverbial lights on. So. For most of my thousand years of existence, I was actually just a pretty bauble that provided some protective qualities against magic. An almost ordinary amulet that got sold off for spare coin or forgotten in a drawer or who knows what else, really. And no one would even know."

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"And it took the whole thousand years to gather up the magic you needed to be awake at all?" That is a lot more magic than he'd thought it would take.

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"Not precisely. After my stint with the undead pirate, I had most of what I needed to wake up, and I started to do so somewhat reliably. But I was... very confused, in the beginning. I didn't know what was going on, I didn't know why or how to conserve mana, I'd—I'd weave a spell to call for help and drive myself back to sleep in the process. I'd intervene in crises because someone was being hurt, or close to dying, or just needed help, or any number of well meaning but stupid things. I didn't realize that it could be decades before I'd regain the power I needed for consciousness, or..." She folds and unfolds her hands. "... Or that there wasn't much incentive for anyone that had me to want their amulet to start having opinions and preferences."

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"You - oh, of course when you projected people would not have helped," he sighs defeatedly. "I do not know why I bothered to expect otherwise."

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"To be fair, I think some of them tried, but couldn't manage to reach the mana requirements, or would have if they'd thought they hadn't imagined me, or were worried I was a sealed evil spirit or something, but. I've mostly been passed around the Serpent Isles since beginning to wake. Pirates and would-be adventurers out for glory and whatnot. Not precisely those with lots of empathy and forethought." She shrugs unhappily.

"I also hadn't worked out my external mana storage system," she points to the little beads adorning her amulet, "that gives me a much needed buffer. Nor, in fact, my method of conserving mana by purposefully going to sleep, but weaving mana storages to release their stores and wake me after a set amount of time. So those compounded the issue. But. Yes." Avedra swallows and looks at her feet. "For the most part, I had little to no help."

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Well, it is not news to him that the world sucks and most people in it do, too, and at this point he's mostly numb to the horrors.

"You're here now, and that part of your life is hopefully over."

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"Yes, I am, and if I have anything to say about it, yes it is," she agrees, brightening a little. "But it's after the siege ends that the degree of the destruction truly comes to light, so." She motions illustratively around herself. "I needed to cry. Because I'm here now, and it's safe to."

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"...I believe I am somewhat familiar with the feeling, also, yes."

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“I imagine so,” she agrees, amused. “Though for the record it is a terrible tragedy my undead pirate didn’t come ashore and go inland, it would have neatly wrapped everything up.”

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"- oh that would have been terribly useful. Undead pirates are a particularly thorny issue, unfortunately."

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“They seem to be, with the sailing around confusedly and causing mayhem whenever they find anything. But what’s the Shadow Isles’ side of the thorny issue?”

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"Most of them, by now, are not locals, and 'do not go to the Shadow Isles' is a fairly sticky memory they carry into death, so we have trouble ever reaching them to help. But they also form their island of stability around each other, the crew, and see everyone else as enemies, be they other undead or, more frequently, other pirates or mere trading vessels around the Serpent Isles. And to make matters worse, they cannot recognise their homeland anymore, so whenever they reach any shore they believe it is not theirs and therefore they should ransack it.

"I... wish to be able to say I had predicted this, but I had not, and had to learn only later from the few outsiders who trickle in that this created the rather persistent rumour that I command fleets of undead pirates who kill their countrymen and then send their new recruits out to continue this cycle. 'The Harrowing', they call it, when undead pirates reach Bilgewater."

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She winces.

"Yeah. I'm sorry. That was how I made it back to civilization. For what it's worth, I think I can invent a shield that'll keep Black Mist out specifically, and unlike every other mage I can safely test whether or not it'll work, so. We can probably throw a bunch of those at Bilgewater in your name, maybe along with a fruitbasket or two, as an apology?"

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"I do not think the fruit that grows here is edible by mortals," he comments dryly.

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"Okay, fine. Treasure chest full of shiny things," she snorts. "They're pirates, after all."

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"Shiny things, we can do."

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"That'll probably go over better than fruit, anyway."

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