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Feb 03, 2023 9:08 AM
Teysa Karlov in Sunless Skies
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"I shall require payment up front. I will warn you now that you will not learn to write in the language of the heavens without inviting disaster along the way. Learning to read... Perhaps safer."

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"Actually, I already can read. Just a bit. I took a look at a tree marked "Garden-Pillar", with the senses mages of my variety normally use. I saw that it was, first, an incredibly powerful little nugget of all known types of magical energy - we typically refer to them as the 'colours' of 'mana' - and, second, that the translations given were not quite right. I stopped quickly, because I could feel fire in my mind, trying to push itself through my natural protections. I have no desire to repeat the experience untutored."

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"Quite. Fire is the most common failure mode. This is hardly a secret. In fact, a basic safety precaution. Observe my sprinklers," he finishes with a dull droll, pointing to a small metal spigot on the ceiling. "Were you imagining a short session? A simple history lesson?"

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"At minimum, whatever other warning signs are common. Perhaps whatever is considered common first experiments. The basics, in short. What would you consider to be the skills needed before you let someone off to study any particular application? At home, that would be the very basic theory of the coloured disciplines, sensing for energies, and mastering an elementary spell like light," and a small bobbing glow dances on her palm as a demonstration. "What are the basics here?"

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"I would thank you not to perform magic near my books. Basics? The ability to discern communication from commandment. Recognition of the broadest major meaning groups. A sense for when combustion is imminent and when to stop asking questions. Introspection, of a sort. If one intends to write, exacting practice with a non-magical language."

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"My continued existence is the result of ongoing magic. In several respects, but the one most likely to alarm you is that I can speak any ordinary language at least as well as any thinking being nearby, so I am in some sense interacting with the contents of your mind. Not directly, though, more 'zeitgeist' if that translates properly."

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Siiigh. "I'm not concerned about that. Don't damage my books."

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"Of course not. Right, then, meeting your standards for writing is probably impractical. I've been trying to trade services, since they have more comparative advantage, but you won't be interested; fortunately I do have some currency and trade goods as well. Elaborate slightly on communication versus commandment, please. Do you mean a tendency to comprehend a concept and take it as an instruction, or some other thing?"

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"Something else," he deadpans, resisting the urge to sigh again.

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"Very good. Just assessing urgency. How much time would you expect training those things to take, and for what consideration?"

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"It's difficult to judge, some have greater talent. One hour will be sufficient to determine if you are entirely hopeless, or not. If you are a once in a generation genius, or your circumstances give you a unique advantage, that same hour would perhaps be sufficient, though at least a day is more likely. If I were you I would not wish to be just barely capable, rather than actually competent. And I do not say that to encourage additional lessons. I won't pretend teaching is my favorite job."

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"Noted and understood, but that isn't currently my priority. I don't expect to do significant work without a collaborator."

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"Very well. Now is when we circle back to payment."

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"Indeed. Do you have a price in mind?"

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"Given that you are asking for somewhat hazardous specialist knowledge. I believe fifteen Sovereigns an hour is reasonable."

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"Your premium has a reasonable cause, and yet it seems to be remarkably large, even so. I'd pay eight an hour."

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"You're welcome to return at a later time, I suppose."

He reaches for the pull-down wall.

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"I believe you're the first person I've met here who doesn't default to haggling."

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"I'm sure I've never heard that before. Do you think I need the money? I do not. The price I set is what is required to offset my reluctance and suspicion. I don't anticipate it changing."

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"I assume you're better than others I could find; you came recommended and I can see why. I do not, however, know how much better. And your rate is surprising even for a skilled professional."

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He lowers the dividing wall with a slam.

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Heh. Well, now she knows how confident he is, she supposes. She actually will 'return at a later time', most likely. But she'll do a bit of a market survey first. Not today, though; she's going to see about butchery.

She'll take a slightly meandering route back home, keeping an eye on mana flows nearby. Correspondence might foul it up, but generally butcher shops ooze small steady streams of Black mana.

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The place is a riot of flows contesting each other, in all honesty. The Gothic Calligrapher's place was a thinly glittering field of Blue holding its own. The streets pulse with red and black and green and even the odd bit of white all ebbing and pooling around, as distant pipe-flutes play. (Has she ever actually seen someone playing the pipes she keeps hearing? Does she notice that she hasn't?)

Here's some black, but it seems to be a loan shark. Well, it fits, sort of. A bit further along the way, mingled black and green - They seem to be using some creative means of fertilizer for a specialized garden. But closer out to the main throughway, where there are good views, there's a place that slowly oozes blood and death, just like she's familiar with.

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Got there eventually, then. She mutters to her Gruggs and brings one in with her, the other left by the door.

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Mostly-clean glass cases displaying a dozen different cuts and pieces, though mostly small ones. A wide, smooth counter. A shiny cash register.

A skinny teen with a bright green hat at the cash register, paging through a novel idly.

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