Sep 29, 2022 4:15 AM
carissa meets a tyrant
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He will clear his throat at Lorcain, and say, "Ah, but would they permit us to copy the form of it?"

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Carissa has now stepped into internal politics and that is a very sure way to die and she needs to stop picking battles with the powerful terrifying people even if they keep rewarding her for doing so, that doesn't make it a good idea. 


"Yes, my lord."

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"So be it, then; you can demonstrate what a spellbook is, show us what inks we need to duplicate, and explain the required theories, and we can begin our studies."

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"Forgive me, my lord, but do I understand correctly that when I call my spellbook back from the Ethereal Plane, where it is stored and where I alone can retrieve it, you and your servants will examine it to copy the ink and the paper, and bargain separately if you wish to make the contents yours?" You can't back out of a negotiation because it's embarrassing to clarify what's going on.

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"Indeed," he says, "though I would consider an understanding of how spells are formed in the general case, and one example, to be included in your services as my guide." Based on the speed they're making here, that will get them all the way to the City of Brass, and then they can just bribe her with scrolls.

(And, probably, recruit a new Iomedaean. The latest updates from the comparative religion people suggest that Iomedae is probably not up to any major atrocities, possibly barring the Hold of Belkzen, though Sarenrae looks dubious.)

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She nods. Summons her spellbook to her hand with a gesture. See, I can do cool magic too. 

"We'll start with a cantrip, Light. You'll want to copy this diagram. It's simple, because Light is simple, and it holds together when it's not tied off, which means you can cast it and catch it and cast it again. There are two steps to spellcasting: building the spell, and using it. To build a spell you need a scaffold, which is a magical structure that just needs to have the property that your spells don't stick to it or cling to it while you're preparing them. For cantrips you can use a very very simple scaffold - you just want to draw a little magic out of the air and up and around so you've got a hook to hang the spell on, like so - and then once you're not getting any interference, start encouraging the magic along the path that'll make it a cantrip - new students usually trip up by trying to rush the magic and getting terrible consistency, or by not understanding how magic interacts with itself and making it clumpy...."

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They have NO IDEA what they are doing, and will follow only with confusion! Copying her spellbook and inks? Sure, no problem, that's easy, they can just make more of the paper like it and ink like it and make their own spellbooks. Following spellcraft? Manipulating magic? They are like tiny tiny babies. Sikandros is slightly less bad than the rest of them, but Lorcain is worse, to make up for it.

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They're really bad at this! She wasn't expecting that, somehow! They're powerful outsiders, and cantrips aren't that complicated! Most people are weirdly bad at magic but it's more disconcerting coming from ludicrously magical beings. 

 

She doesn't want Cheliax run by someone who can't even Detect Magic. The Duke could probably still weather all assassination attempts just by being apparently resistant to all damage, but it'd just be embarrassing. 

 

Also if she had a class of Chelish students she would at this point tell the one doing the best to slap the one doing the worst, and she absolutely cannot do that here. Maybe that's why they're not learning faster. 

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That sounds plausible! Their learning mechanisms seem to involve explaining things to each other and asking lots of questions of her and occasionally dropping into another language for discussions of how it's related to some kind of math she doesn't understand for which they need a few dozen different loan words.

(And the team is learning faster than the average Chelish student, it's just that the average Chelish student is really astoundingly terrible.)

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Carissa has never been obliged to teach new Chelish students; it'd be a punishment for both them and her, she suspects. She will try very very patiently to characterize everything she's doing in lots of detail so even an idiot can follow along. 

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That helps slightly. Slowly. It's amazing how many times these idiots need to stop and ask questions about very basic things.

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Well, at least she'll be indispensable for a while.

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After a few hours Mendax and d'Acier head off to work on some unknown aspect of the situation; about half an hour later Sikandros goes to join them, leaving her with just Lorcain and Pala Lehali. 

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She should do something about the fact where she probably offended him/got him reprimanded, except it's delicate when you know absolutely nothing about any of the politics.

She spends a few minutes chewing it over and then decides that doing nothing is in fact worse than doing something. Especially with Lehali here and likely to intervene if things go really badly. 

"Do you still want to bet?"

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Lehali laughs, and flashes a "Good for you, standing up for yourself!" smile at Carissa.

(It is probably totally incomprehensible to her.)

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"That I cannot hire any guide who will let me copy their spellbook?" he says, grinning.

(Lorcain tends to vibrate whenever he's doing anything, always charged with energy and always burning it off, drumming his fingers against nearby objects if he's doing nothing else.)

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The smile is indeed incomprehensible! Or she catches that Lehali wants to look pleased, but has no idea why!

 

"That, if you solicit a quote for a guide without saying anything about spellbook copying, and hire a guide at that price, and they're a wizard of at least second circle, they will not let you copy their spellbook without further payment unless you threaten their life, limb, loved ones, etcetera."

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"Oh, we don't disagree," says Lorcain. "Except that I would call you amply paid - wouldn't you agree? In diamonds."

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"Well, diamonds hardly seem very valuable around here. You're going to do awful things to all the markets in them."

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"Ah, but do the guides of your planet know that?"

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"They might suspect it if you show up and offer them a handful of diamonds."

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"But they would, after all, be able to resell the diamonds off before then." His smile continues to be sharklike. "If, that is, they knew there were no earlier guides who'd gotten there first."

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The internal screaming is actually quieter when Carissa is in an immediately dangerous interaction. You can't afford to panic in the middle of those.

 

"I didn't actually take your diamonds to resell. I might resell them, I guess, but that wasn't the point. The point was to find out what happens if I take your diamonds."

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"And yet, if I offered this many diamonds to a guide, and swore they were true diamonds, and -" he grinned "- informed the guide I was doing it to settle a bet, would the guide show me - her? - spellbook?"

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There is definitely subtext, at this point. Carissa has no idea what it is but is never going to admit that. "Oh, yes, definitely."

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