Dec 02, 2022 12:36 AM
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Praem does not respond, but joins Marisa in looking around at the sights.

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There is a small argument attempting to be a delegation waiting to meet them on the dock. The argument appears to be about who gets to greet the newcomers, what questions to ask them, and where they might want to be taken first. The major players in the argument - although each has several hangers-on - are a tall fiercely dressed woman with impressive curved ram's horns and metallic patterns to her skin, a highly impassioned gentleman with pointed ears and filigree pastel swirls on his cheeks in a somewhat simpler but still sumptuous robe, and a shorter individual with very pale skin, sallow cheeks, spectacles and a clipboard.

"That is the statue of Miroslav, ex-Senator for Sarvos and initial benefactor of Caricomare," contributes Clipboard, which also gives them an excellent view of his unusually sharp dentition. "Your docking fee has been paid by the Carta Notturno, I quote, 'interesting guests'."

"Greetings, my good friends!" exclaims the one with pointy ears. "Welcome to Caricomare! I am sure you have many questions, and the scholars of the Diora University would be delighted to satisfy your curiosity, if you would be so kind?"

"Don't listen to him," snaps the ram-horned lady. "I am Laria di Notturno di Sarvos, of the Carta Notturno, and I expect you would like a tour of the sights and perhaps directions to particular areas of interest - be they commercial or political?"

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Marisa grins up at Clipboard. "Cool!"

Then she mostly fails to assume a more serious expression. "I'm Kirisame Marisa, captain of the Keiryoumaru. My planet is new to interstellar travel, and lots of us have been striking out into space uncharted by the galactic powers we're near. This is the ship's purser, Praem Saye."

She indicates Praem, who nods elegantly.

"We don't need a large crew to operate our ship, but we also have some passengers." Marisa grimaces a bit. "We had to take them on because of some politics back home. They're fine, just..."

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"Noisy." Praem's voice is high and musical, like an icy wind through wind chimes.

She turns towards ram horns. "Thank you," she intones.

Then she nods at the scholar, and nods at Clipboard, stepping closer to him.

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Marisa also nods at Clipboard. "Praem will help with any paperwork. Maybe with accommodating our passengers? Somewhere people won't mind chanting."

Then she turns to the other two, grinning in full again.

"I assume you have a department of mathematics? And what's a Carta Notturno?" She bounces, hovering a bit because she's still holding her broomstick.

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"I'm sure the city of Sarvos can deal with a little noise. Would you like an overview of our laws so that you can ensure they don't get into any trouble with the militia?" asks Clipboard of Praem.

"We do indeed have a department of mathematics! Would you like to meet the theorists, the prognosticators or the calculators?" asks the representative of Diora University, still at the peak of enthusiasm although possibly a little less about mathematics, maybe it's not his subject. "Oh, and where are my manners - Tommaso Diora di Sarvos, at your service." He essays a slight bow in Kirisame's direction.

"The Carta Notturno is the guild responsible for the area of the Night Market and more recently for the rebuilding of Caricomare, the district in which you find yourself," explains Laria. "As one of the primary investors in the area, we take great Pride in displaying the fruits of our investment to honoured guests such as yourselves."

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"Yoroshiku," says Marisa casually, returning the bow on autopilot. She addresses the group in general, looking up at individuals and making brief eye contact occasionally.

"Business before pleasure this time. It doesn't look like you have any space traffic from this planet—is this a lost Earth colony or something?—so I've got to set a good foundation for diplomacy, trade, all of that. I'd love to see the sights, learn about this place, tell you about the state of the galaxy. We're new to it ourselves. But, uh, I had to live off secondhand books for years, and I do want to talk to at least one math department everywhere I go. I'm a theorist, I think? Trying to catch up with all the algebraic geometry I missed out on."

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Praem nods at Clipboard.

"Five monks. One commander."

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(And, uncounted, some additional mice, one of whom is listening in. This is why many ships have cats.)

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"Basics of Imperial law: no violence except in self defence, including poisoning and pretending to provide medical care but actually not doing so, and restricting someone's movements without lawful authority; no theft, including counterfeit of currency or Bourse notes, destroying someone else's property, trade in goods you believe to be stolen. There are a number of substances and items that it is illegal to own or trade in some circumstances, but as foreigners you'll simply be asked to take them back to your vessel if you are discovered to possess them. No impersonation of Imperial officials, contempt of court and subverting the agencies of state are prosecutable but unless you're doing it on purpose you are unlikely to run into trouble there. Militia in this jurisdiction wear a red and gold sash with a horse emblem for recognition purposes, please follow their instructions. Please avoid proselytising any non-Imperial religion, most religious laws are unlikely to get you more than a warning on a first offence but it may upset people. If you bring slaves into the country then they are entitled to leave your service immediately, we have organisations which will help resettle them, you may be prosecuted for non-compliance with this." Clipboard instructs Praem. "Usually the courts are quite lenient with foreigners for their first offence as long as you clearly don't intend to repeat it, most likely any matter will conclude in a fine at worst, unless you decide to take that as license and do great or irreparable harm. It is very likely that nobody will even slightly notice six people, unless the 'monks' attempt to convert anyone to whatever religion they follow and it is not compatible with the Way."

"We have no means of travelling the stars," admits Tommaso, "and many people will be extremely interested in establishing contact! Some of the Empire's people did arrive from the stars many centuries ago, although I'm not sure precisely what you mean by a 'lost earth colony', we have plenty of good soil here. Ginevra, why don't you go round up a geometrist or two, ideally a pure theorist and someone who casts with it?" One of Tommaso's hangers-on scurries off into the crowds.

"Let me take you on a brief tour of Caricomare and we'll see if we can scare up the Senator for you," replies Laria. "I would be very happy to answer your questions as they come to you, and hear about what is out there; I can certainly offer extensive trading connections, but the Senator might be more appropriate for diplomatic matters." She nods to one of her hangers-on, who also heads off into the crowds determinedly.

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Praem seems interested in the law, for types of seeming which don't involve facial expressions. She speaks significantly more words in a row than she has yet.

"I will review our cargo against your schedule of illegal items. Likely none." She pauses. "We have coerced no sentient being into our service. If slavery includes nonsentient spirits or natural forces, we may have committed it." She pauses again, her phrases getting a bit more terse. "I am Protestant. Not likely to proselytize. May discuss theology. The monks are Buddhist. They will want to but will comply with the letter of law. There is a god aboard our ship. Unrelated to either religion. Unable to leave it without difficulty. Likely not interested in such."

She pauses again, for very slightly longer. "I am interested in learning about your religious tenets."

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Marisa has more facial expressions, mostly huge grins.

"Wow, I've never met someone else who casts with geometry. Had to build my entire theory from scratch. Actually started with traditional witchcraft, you know? Oh, right, Earth colony. As far as we know all human populations are descended from one planet, and you look pretty human. Uh, meeting with Senators and so on is probably important, yeah. We don't have a government, just a treaty, but I, uh, know a signatory." She looks a bit embarrassed. "Technically I'm one too, but not as important. Yeah, let's look around this city! Looks pretty great! Don't industrialize, apparently it makes your ports into total dumps."

She looks over at Praem.

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"Will catch up," she says. "Unless we should follow?" she adds, glancing unreadably at Clipboard. "Passengers still chanting for the hour."

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"You're free to go wherever you like as long as you obey the law; if you're on someone's private property they're entitled to ask you to leave, and to enforce that if you refuse," replies Clipboard. "We'll make sure someone is here to greet your passengers when they disembark, although that looks like it will not be difficult. Local law relevantly prohibits promoting false virtues, the teachings of false exemplars or false paragons, actively teaching and promoting false doctrines, or the worship, veneration or exaltation of any inhuman entity or force; we tend to be lax on that last one for foreigners as long as it's not encouraging anyone else to join in. Slavery is defined regarding persons, it seems likely that your nonsentient spirits or natural forces are not relevantly persons." He leafs through his clipboard and pulls out a piece of paper, small but densely printed. "Here is the schedule of illegal items, it's unclear whether you will know them by the same names, please do ask for clarification; policy is not to confiscate from the vessels of foreigners as long as they do not bring them onto land."

"If you'd like to meet our bishop I'm sure he'd make time for you, or we could head to the Cathedral and you can have your fill of religious education," offers one of Laria's group.

"Geometry isn't a very popular casting form here unless you count runes and constellations, but it's possible," replies Tommaso, "I'm sure they'll be extremely keen to exchange notes."

"Humans are only part of our population," points out one of Tommaso's hangers-on, "we also have orcs, and also not all humans are descended from the Steinr and the Vard - leading theories suggest origin populations in Varushka from Night magic, and separately in one of the jungle nations overseas, from the great apes."

"Our docks at Caricomare are of course the most beautiful in the known world," Laria asserts, "although you may also want to look in at Siroc for a different style. I imagine if Temeschwar or Holberg had great docks they would indeed be a 'dump', yes. Let's head towards the Blood Red Quays Art Gallery, do let me know if you want a closer look at anything we pass."

The docks are bustling with activity, mostly officials checking paperwork, stevedores loading and unloading (there are some construction projects ongoing that look like they are some kind of mechanical crane, but they are not yet in operation), passengers alighting and taking in the sights and smells of the city (surprisingly pleasant for a medieval kind of city, heavy on the spices and perfumes). A few enterprising merchants have simple stalls set up in the arches supporting the next level of the city, mostly selling food and drinks, some fishing and boat repair supplies.

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Praem nods at Clipboard, taking the paper. The ship's cargo is unlikely to be contraband - it's mostly precious metals and gems (the subterranean youkai want most of the profits if those are traded, but some are Marisa's personal wealth), objects selected for artistic merit, various magical novelties intended more to show off types of magic than be useful, blank spell cards, fusion reactor fact sheets and schematics (not complete, meant as an enticement to join a technology-sharing agreement with the mountain dwellers), and jailbroken Galactic Federation computers (provided by Praem). It's a sampler which various factions loaned items to in hopes of establishing ongoing trade relations.

"I am also a bishop," replies Praem. "Should talk to him."

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Marisa is keeping an eye out for a stall selling something sweet. (She doesn't have local money on her, of course, just an eclectic mix of gold and silver coins from civilizations that may or may not ever have existed.)

"I'm an ape descended human, as far as anyone out there in space knows that's the only kind. Where I'm from, there's humans and youkai—we use 'youkai' as a sort of catch-all for magical beings, even though it's not really accurate. Anyway, I haven't heard of anywhere else where humans do magic. Maybe that's this planet's advantage in trade. I do it, but that's just me."

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"I know other human mages. Not recommended to learn that kind."

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"Really? Never knew that." She addresses the locals again. "Yeah, Praem's really well travelled."

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"Let's go and check in with her office, she's probably just in there writing letters," says the Carta Notturno member talking to Praem. On closer inspection, he appears to have yellow snake eyes, fangs and a bit of a lisp.

There are a good number of stalls selling sweet things, mostly elaborate pastries drizzled with honey and sprinkled with nuts, crisp pastry tubes stuffed with sweet creams, or sweet crisp breads with dried fruit. They are all quite happy to haggle a value for strange gold and silver coins, generally wanting to give her change in the Imperial currency - dull bronze coins stamped with intricate designs, denominated in one and five 'rings' - for them if she only wants an individual portion, at least after Laria gives them a 'don't rip off my guest' look. More of the stall-holders than their greeting party are baseline humans, but some have a variety of interesting features, from green veins and patches of bark to sharp snaggly teeth and a rather unhealthy looking pallor.

"The Empire has a considerable magical tradition; we like to think we are the most generally advanced magical power in the world, although there are a few foreign nations that have advantages in more focused areas," explains Laria.

"Are your 'youkai' creatures of the magical Realms, or some other kind?" asks Tommaso eagerly.

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Marisa tries a few small servings. She probably won't turn over gold for street food, but might overpay in silver; she likes haggling but has no local knowledge yet. If there's a pastry garnished with strawberries, she'll feed any strawberries to Praem by hand.

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Praem does not eat any food other than being fed strawberries, but seems wordlessly interested in a meeting with local religious leaders, nodding at the one proposing it.

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"Some of them are from magical realms, but not any more than being from some mountain or something. You can recognize them because they seem a little bit like they're not real. It's like... the proper place to meet a youkai is if you're lost in the woods in the middle of the night or something. When you get back to camp, you'll wonder if you imagined the whole thing. Well, if you talk to one socially over tea, it's a little bit of that in the back of your mind. It's toned down with the youkai monks on the ship, because they're Buddhists, or I'd tell you to meet one and see. Maybe their superior, if she comes out."

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(Marisa also tries to figure out their currency system from whatever clues there are. She hopes it's base 12!)

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None of the sweet food sellers are doing strawberries, but there is a separate fruit stall which is.

"Follow me, then," says the somewhat snake-ish Notturno to Praem, and starts moving off more determinedly down the dockside.

"That sounds more like wolves than heralds," replies Tommaso, "maybe the word covers both?"

"Here we have the Blood Red Quays Art Gallery," announces Laria, pausing in front of a grand edifice in a stunningly white building material with red brick highlights. The tall door is surmounted by a pillared balcony looking out over the harbour. "Any particular artistic style you might be interested in, or shall we head up to the balcony for a nice view across the harbour?"

The currency system is, well. The 'rings' come in 5 ring and 1 ring pieces, the next coin up appears to be a 'crown', and that's twenty rings. Her adventures in small change have not got much further than that; some of the traders had four crown pieces in their cash boxes, however, which suggests that it does not necessarily proceed logically from there.

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Praem elegantly follows!

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