Feb 03, 2023 7:57 AM
The Agile Centenarian has a bet to win, and needs a ship to sail on
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Strap, strap, strap, then away she rolls.

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"Perhaps I will. I haven't been looking that hard, but now it seems all inadequate..."

Stack stack crates

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"Well, it took me a bit to find this one. Went through a few misses. I always cared a bit more than most about names, though."

Stack, stack, stack...

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"The modern style isn't quite natural to me, still, since I grew up, and even explored a good part of the Elder Continent, without it. I swapped over to it when I first came to sea, but that was mostly convenient timing."

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She nods. "Understandable. In my case, both a name and a few monikers were given to me, and I found myself needing to replace them with ones of my own choosing that reflected me better."

Down goes another crate. "I'd love to know more about the Elder Continent, though."

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"It's... well, it's enormous. Maybe it's just because boats are faster than horses, or maybe I was just young, but it felt ten times as big as the Zee. And other than the coast and a couple pockets, it's all the Prester's rule. Humans live for centuries, and anything might be alive, if not here then if you travel another fifty miles down the path. Like Polythreme, but scattered across the world. Cliff faces which form faces, and can talk to you if you know how to ask them questions. A city full of talking beasts, each species with a caste and role they perform enthusiastically. The College of Mortality on the steps of Stone Herself, a thousand nameless, ageless men with unparalleled authority. And those were all places you could see from where I was born, at least if you climbed up to the canopy and Storm and the Wax-Wind had stayed away that day."

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"Oh wow, that sounds fascinating. I'd love to visit it someday."

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The Centenarian isn't looking up from the crate she's carrying, and doesn't seem to be looking at it, either.

"Only a couple outsiders are allowed that close to the Mountain in a century. Usually for some great service they did for the Presbyter. The Mithridates say no one's allowed past Adam's Way, and that's not quite true, but they really are extremely protective of the Mountain and her Garden. Or maybe just of the College and the capital, Nidah, if you're more cynical. Even the tribes that live that close can't bring in guests without special dispensation."

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She sets her crate down on the cart, looks up at the Centenarian. "Ah. Rumors of the Presbyrate's strictness aren't exaggerated, then."

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"They seem like they'd have to be, right? I thought they must be when I was younger. But no. Don't go against the Prester's word."

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The brightly mad apocyan streaks in her hair sour to troublesome violant, still wreathed in cautious irrigo. She has a plan to eventually handle even Law-light, there's got to be a way to deal with the Presbyrate. But later. "And I just bet you've learned that the hard way. Tch. I'll toe the line for now."

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"I was young and stupid and felt invincible. So, yes. I was certainly warned. I did see a lot of the Continent before then, though, the immediate surroundings of the Mountain are the most exotic but other parts are very neat as well."

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Her hair brightens back up a bit and she nods. "It certainly sounds it. Well, you're definitely welcome to zail with us for the moment. That bet sounds interesting to chase down, and we're glad to thumb our noses at the elites where we can."

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"Heh. Sounds good to me."

Hmm, change topic, change topic... Ah!

"What sign language does the Acrobat use? I know some of the one they use in Huz, and some Codex pidgin-sign, but I didn't recognize either her language or her accent."

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"Well," she says as she picks up another crate, "it's the main sign language of London's deaf and mute community, helpfully spread in a haphazard patchwork across the Zee by London's thieves and urchins."

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"Ah, that would explain why little bits looked vaguely familiar. Maybe I can pick up a little more while I'm aboard, not being able to talk with a third of the crew seems like a waste."

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And that's when girl being discussed returns, bearing yet another empty cart, delightedly surprised at the Centenarian's stated intent.

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"If that's really that surprising, I am disappointed in all your past passengers by comparison. I'm not going to be fluent any time soon, but I can get by in, oh, eight languages? And one of them's a sign, from Huz. If I'm going to be holed up with the three of you for days or weeks at a time, what am I going to do, effectively cut that to two plus the awkward one I can't properly communicate with? That's not just silly, it's bl---y rude."

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The Acrobat smirks and nods, then signs something rapidly. After a moment, she tilts her head, then signs it again slower.

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"She says 'Thank you, that's why we bounced the last extra crew member we had, and why we don't often take passengers.'"

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"Though she called him something foul that doesn't directly translate out of sign."

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"When you think I have enough to understand it, I insist you teach me what that was. Adding to my list of incomprehensible foreign insults to lob at annoying people is one of my favorite fringe benefits of traveling."

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The Acrobat gives her an unmistakable oh hell yes look, then starts strapping down the full cart.

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"When she knows people well, for some things she likes to use particularly expressive Looks, but Flitsign โ€” which is what it's typically called when people aren't trying to convince stuffy outsiders to learn it โ€” is essential for more complicated conversations. I'm really glad you're interested in learning it."

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"Half the reason I called out to you ladies is that you seemed like you'd have stories worth hearing. Of course I want to hear the Acrobat's from her own mouth- well, hands."

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