Dec 02, 2022 12:49 AM
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"Yeah, it's... not a really reassuring prospect, is it. But I was standing up, I don't think I could have been knocked out. Also I saw my housekeeper while I was getting the book and she didn't mention anyone being dragged in and it's the same day as it was before. So I don't think it's actually that someone bypassed the usual precautions."

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"If? You say so?? Ma'am???" he manages.

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"If you say so ma'am?" he says again, slightly more clearly.

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"No, I mean... I don't think we're quite on the same page. Why don't you think out loud for a minute, I'm sure you won't be any good at it but I want to figure out what your assumptions are."

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"I... may be on... another planet?" he ventures, after a few seconds of deep breaths.

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"You know, that might even be true. Is your hair a common natural color for your planet?"

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"...it's about half a percent," he says timidly. "Is yours - actually black -"

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"Yes, and that's pretty common on Rekk or Miomir. I don't have a precise number per two hundred out of the whole population of the entire planet or anything, but my guess is it's at least half the people in the world. Okay, so I was expecting human species-magic was behind what happened, and that confused me because it could do unconsciousness or blindness or transfer you to a new body if the body had already been brought here in the normal way, and I could imagine someday someone could discover that you can erase memories, but I don't expect human species-magic to pick up a physical body and move it. Something about that sound off to you?"

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"I don't know what a human is."

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"I'm human. Humans are the people who look like me and can do human magic, which I'm betting you can't. Is that right?"

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"I can't do any magic."

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"I believe that this is because you're from another planet, because I just saw you appear out of nowhere. No one else just saw you appear out of nowhere. There's another species that also looks human, because they were cursed to reincarnate as humans, and as long as they're trapped as fake humans they can't use their own magic - that was the point of trapping them, because they're universally evil. And that's a way more common reason for someone who looks human to not be able to do any magic than having come from another planet. So anyone besides me and my staff who finds out you can't do magic will assume you're evil and maybe try to kill you. I'm really sorry."

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"- ah," he says, slumping a little bit in a way that does not happen to increase the area of the floor he is in contact with at all.

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"...Being from another planet and not having magic still doesn't explain something. You act like if you touch anything a spell will go off."

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"As far as I know no spells will go off ma'am."

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"You can be frank with me or I, the only person on the planet who saw you appear, can go ahead and let you try to make your way in a society you've never interacted with before as a suspicious foreigner who will eventually be revealed as a monster whom it is legal to kill. I have no reason to help you and I have limited ability to help you if I don't know what's up with you. Having just appeared here with no context and no idea of the local culture, you might want to try to walk the tightrope of giving me just enough information to help and not enough information to hurt you, but I bet you can't."

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He looks at his elbows, which are pretty convenient to look at the way he's curled up.

"On my planet, ma'am, it is not very illegal to kill me either."

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"Thank you." That's not even slightly surprising and barely helpful but it's a step in the right direction so she'd better encourage that kind of behavior. "What can you tell me about that?"

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"The half a percent with red hair," he says, "are - understood to be - irretrievably - polluted."

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"Oh, are you being considerate of me? Okay, thank you. What effects does this have, is there a way to house you that's both comfortable and safe, how do I clean my balcony or do I just leave you here and have someone toss you food - can you eat our food - is it a problem to compost your waste - I am entirely confident in my ability to eventually figure something out but you'll need to tell me exactly what constraints I'm working around."

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"- I have no idea if I can eat your food. We live the same way as other people - of our species, I don't know about you. I think the usual procedure would be to scrub and possibly also sand this floor with a lot of different kinds of soap but I don't actually know. Composting is fine."

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"And - it's only touch, right? If I touched you, what would happen to me?"

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"- then you would also be polluted. Not irretrievably. You could wash it off."

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"...If I did not know that you were polluted and I touched you, what experiences would cause me to realize it?"

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