Dec 02, 2022 1:41 AM
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"Okay, so, we call the realms of magic after seasons and times. Spring is life and growth - with all the negative connotations of that, decay, predation and so on, as well as the positive ones, healing and vigour and such. Summer is glory and competition - some of the most iconic Summer rituals are summoning legions of elfin knights, directly petitioning an Eternal to set you a challenge, and a lot of straightforward ways of being better at fighting. Autumn is trade and... complicated meta things, the connections between things. Winter is... loss, and strength through hardship, most straightforward curses are Winter. Then Night is emotion, dreams, intuition; and Day is clarity, knowledge, logic; they're both good at divination, in their own ways, and effects on the mind.

Do those match up to something you call magic? I know a lot of places have the same thing, but call the realms different names. I can do quite a bit of Spring magic and a little Night and Day; we also have a Winter coven here. There are several other things that you might call magic, like the use of liao to create auras, crafting magical items with artisanry, potion-making, and the various hearth magics, as well as battle magic; I don't know if any of that sounds familiar?

As for the Thule - they're a nation of orcs, they're ruled by five 'dragons' who are also just orcs, but orcs that have discovered how to use the life energies of others to extend their lives, can project themselves into other bodies, generally quite bad news. They have quite a small and inhospitable territory, all along the frozen north and they've got a Vallorn on one end. In some ways nobody but the dragons are free to do what they want, but they also extensively use outright slavery, and undead workforces when they can. But because their power is so concentrated, and they don't really care about anything but accumulating more magical power, they're relatively easy to negotiate with - compared to everyone else, anyway.

May I ask what interested you in them in particular?"

Allegra's suspiciousness appears to have been ramped up further by the interest in the Thule, and her tone has got a little colder, although if anything more polite; she clearly does not approve of them in the slightest.

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"Xaari Deskyl disapproves of slavery, ma'am, and she's most likely to be interested in doing something about either the nearest problem or the most offensive one. And your magic doesn't sound especially familiar; Master Deskyl uses the Force, which is described by Force-sensitives as being an aspect of physics - the fundamental physical mechanisms of the universe - rather than being magic, but it's generally understood by others as essentially magical. In particular she's a Sith, and the type of Force use Sith are trained in sounds closest to what you'd consider Night; they call it dark."

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"Oh, good. You have come to a good place to start, then - the Empire recently created the Liberty Pact, a group of countries united in opposition to slavery, and that has made several of our neighbours quite unhappy, but they could just stop with the slavery.

Basically all of our enemies practice some kind of slavery. The Jotun have the least offensive kind, as they go, with a whole underclass of people who are not really respected as full people because they don't fight, but who are mostly left to get on with meeting their production quotas rather than under direct oppression at all times. The Druj do it as a matter of cruelty - their whole society is based on fear and oppression, you can either hold the whip or bear it, kind of deal - that's why they're our first priority to wipe off the face of the planet. The Grendel are also extremely invested in slavery, mostly as a form of economic dominance and power game - they like to threaten their opponents with a short life of slavery in their salt mines, but slavery is woven through their whole society as what happens if you don't have the wherewithal to compete.

And the Vallorn isn't really a sentient force enough to do standard-issue slavery, but it skips that in favour of the enormously horrifying variety where it just takes over your body and leaves you a helpless passenger as it uses you to kill all your friends.

If you want to not cause any unanticipated side effects, I'd probably start with doing something about the Druj; they are essentially just uncomplicatedly horrible on every level, and they won't get worse when you oppose them, unlike many of the other forces which have been fought to at least something of a standstill or compromise.

I feel like I ought to be advocating for the Vallorn as a target, as that is definitely the nearest problem and the one I'm actually sworn to oppose, but I'm not sure what your talents at unravelling complex magics are like - they're not really an enemy you can just kill, it's more like malevolent terrain that the energy needs draining from, and if you do it wrong, it just wakes up and gets worse."

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"That's exactly the sort of thing I expect Master Deskyl to be able to do, ma'am, she's primarily a sensory specialist but she's trained in designing Force effects and modifying existing ones."

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"Then we should definitely get on sorting your supplies out, and once you're recovered we'll show you Hercynia, that's the smallest one and it's just north of here."

Allegra calls over a few people by name and instructs them to start rounding up woodcutters and finding out who has a bronze tankard they wouldn't mind parting with for a good cause.

"I could ask you questions about where you came from, but I'm not sure I'd understand the answers, let alone find a use for them. If there's anything else you can tell me about the Force, or what you both might need to get back to full strength, those sound like useful topics; otherwise, feel free to keep asking me things, having an enormous store of mostly useless knowledge is why all these people tolerate me bossing them around."

This gets a few laughs from the crowd of Definitely Not Onlookers, Just Going About Their Ordinary Day As Close As Possible To The Strange Interesting People.

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Deskyl is done with her notes, now, and sets the book down on Allegra's side of the table; DZ signs to her a bit, though clearly not enough to explain even an outline of what Allegra has told her, and she signs back at slightly more length.

    "Yes ma'am; if you have any specific questions I can try to answer them, but the Force can do a variety of things - Master Deskyl tells me that we seem to be in a different universe than we started in, and your physics are different here, so she might be able to do somewhat different things than she could at home, but in general Sith are stronger and faster and have reduced biological needs compared to baseline humans, and have better senses including a precognition-based danger sense, and can sense emotions and use telekinesis. Different Sith learn different techniques in addition to those - producing lightning is one of the most common, but there's a wide variety. Master Deskyl is a sensory specialist, which means that she can do things like see through walls and at a significant distance, sense emotions more accurately at a wider range, and detect and diagnose injuries and illnesses at range. She's also learned to leverage the 'ranged' part of her sensory specialty to share a few techniques like pain reduction that most Sith can only do to themselves. Sith also draw power from emotion, especially anger, in a way that tends to reinforce the emotion; Master Deskyl is a particularly calm Sith, but they do have a well-deserved reputation for being unstable and quick to lash out, usually lethally."

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Allegra glances at the notes. "Caryn, can you come take a look at these and see what we can do, then find a good runner to take the rest to somewhere with an actual forge at least?"

She actually has a mild physical double take at 'sense emotions', which is a rare thing to puncture her seeming of equinamity, and to emotion sight this appears to have dredged up some kind of deep anxiety about not being able to control her emotions adequately, smothered by a wave of deliberately squashing down all emotions with an air of a practiced technique.

The concern of onlookers has mostly been replaced by intense curiosity about the fancy new magic.

"You have definitely come to the right place - I'm a particularly unusual Navarr, not having been born here, but weaponised anger is definitely not unknown amongst us, and Briars are second only to Changelings at having emotions.

We absolutely understand not accidentally setting people off."

A decent sized ridge tent, about six foot at the high point and generously enough to sleep two in comfort with some space for gear, has been going up a little way off from the buildings but still just about in sight; Cory returns to the seated people and asks, "What do we want in the tent? I'd normally just be sticking bed rolls in, but if it's not going anywhere we could do camp beds or even drag an actual bed out of a house, though I'm not sure it'll fit two of those. We can also put some of the books from the last delivery in it if someone's going to be stuck in there for a while?"

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Deskyl gives Allegra a sharp, concerned look, hissing gently under her breath, when she squashes her emotions.

 

    "We'll only need one bed, ma'am, I don't sleep. Master Deskyl would prefer a full bed and can carry it over for you. We'd also appreciate books, particularly nonfiction and poetry."

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"Unless she'd particularly like to, I think Cory can sort that out for you?"

Allegra seems to be interpreting the hiss as a sign that Deskyl is in fact injured and not wanting to show weakness, rather than a reaction to her inner state. 

Cory nods and makes to head off.

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    "She can lift it with telekinesis, ma'am, it'll be much less effort for her than for you."

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"If you're sure, Cory can show us where a spare bed is." Allegra gets up; apparently she is definitely not leaving the supposedly dangerous visitor unescorted. "If you're both going to be in the tent, what's the best way to get your attention when supplies arrive, and would you like to start on what we have here or wait for the full set?" 

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Dekyl will head in that direction, then, with DZ following.

    "You can speak to me from outside the tent, ma'am, Master Deskyl will be deaf most of the time until she's recovered enough to let her replace the Force effect that lets her hear without pain, so that won't wake her. She'd prefer to get started soon."

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"Okay, I'll check on the progress of getting the materials together once we've got Deskyl somewhere set up to rest properly."

There are a number of curious people peering out at them throughout the collection of ramshackle buildings, which seem to have gone up in an extremely unplanned fashion.

The spaces between them are quite tight, and whilst Allegra in full escort mode (clearly alert in all directions, staring down anyone who looks too interested) keeps most people at a reasonable distance, they are increasingly shadowed by a small pack of children who are intensely curious and strongly desire to touch the strangers, especially the metallic one.

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    "Thank you, ma'am."

Deskyl seems to be ignoring the children, though she gets visibly more tense as the crowd grows. When, eventually, one of them does try to touch the droid, everyone within ten feet of the Sith - droid apparently excepted - experiences a brief but startling flash of fear, as she spins to glare at the offender.

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Everyone who is not Allegra and Cory, including the offender, sprints away at top speed as soon as the flash of fear occurs; nobody seems to be very surprised that unnatural emotions occur, but the natural reaction here seems to be to put distance between you and the cause. Cory looks shaken and backs off a few steps but recovers himself quickly, although retains an additional wariness; if you didn't know what had happened, Allegra's brief blink and exhale would have been practically unnoticeable.

"Sorry about that; one of the reasons I didn't want to bring you in here, I probably should have explained. I don't think they'll do it again for a bit after that?"

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    "Thank you, ma'am."

The pair exchange a couple of signs - DZ seems to be reassuring Deskyl - and Deskyl gestures to Cory to continue on.

    "She's very protective of me," DZ adds, once they've gotten moving again, "but I think that would have been fine if they had asked first."

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"I might ask you to come out and answer some questions from people while she's resting, if you'd be okay with that, but right now let's get everything sorted out for the tent."

The target bed is in a two room house, just inside the door in the front room; an older lady is there, and greets then effusively - "Hello there! I'm glad someone can make use of this, I hope it's not too heavy? I've left fresh blankets on it, pillows are tucked under the blankets, but do come back if you neerd any more."

"Thank you, Brynna," says Cory, then he makes sure he's well clear of the awkward manoeuvre through the slightly too narrow doorway. 

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    "That will be fine, yes ma'am."

Deskyl nods acknowledgement to Brynna and gestures at the bed, which lifts six inches off the floor before tilting sideways, bedding sagging a bit but otherwise staying in place, to maneuver through the door; she follows it out into the street and holds it flat overhead to make the trip back through town.

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This definitely attracts an audience, but for now they retain a respectful distance.

Cory goes slightly ahead and secures the opening on the front of the tent mostly out of the way.

"Just drop it in there, I'll fetch you a nice selection of books and get out of your hair," he offers, mostly to reassure himself that tasks requiring him to be anywhere near Deskyl were almost over. 

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The bed goes in the tent, with Dekskyl following immediately behind; the flap tugs itself out of Cory's hands once she's through.

"She'll sleep for at least the next two or three hours, ma'am, and I should be here when she wakes but I'm free until that's a concern. May I sit? It will help me conserve my charge."

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"Sure - do you want to hang around near the tent, head back over to the stream, or we could just go to my house?" 

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"I'd rather stay here, ma'am; moving around as little as possible will also help me conserve my charge."

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"Okay then," replies Allegra, and she calls out to the nearest of the people Definitely Not Loitering Nearby To Watch - "Cyla, make yourself useful and fetch us the chairs and table from off by the stream, please!"

"Feel free to sit on the grass if you want in the meantime, but it shouldn't take long to fetch them."

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"Yes ma'am." DZ lowers herself fairly gracefully to sit crosslegged in the grass.

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"So, I'm not sure what you want to know right away while Deskyl's sleeping. Or I can just leave you to read some things when Cory comes back with a random selection of books?

Or if there's anything you think I should know about your care and feeding - should we have some food ready for when Deskyl wakes up, what does she like?"

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