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Feb 03, 2023 8:56 AM
A new magical girl!
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"...Golems are Jewish?"

"I heard park rangers have to know everything spirit bearers do but better. I used to want to be a park ranger but it's actually really hard apparently!"


"Yep.  The original story, that coined the word or at least brought it into the public consciousness, is that of the Golem of Prague, which is set in, what, the 1200s or so, but only proven to date to a few hundred years after that, if I recall correctly - which I may not!  I'm not guaranteed to be right just because I sound like I know things!

"Anyway, wanna hear the story?  It's honestly kind of dark, but it's not, like, gory, just that - well, there's a lot of bad things that happened to Jewish people, and this is a story that's got one of those times as a backdrop."

She's assuming they do, honestly.

"So, back in the 1200s or so, whoever was in charge of Prague had started harassing, expelling, and otherwise trying to attack the Jewish people in his country, because...honestly a diatribe about persecuting minorities because outgroup-hate is politically convenient is perhaps a bit much for a light train ride, but - yeah, whoever this was, he wanted the Jews gone.  So the people of Prague, the Jewish people of Prague, they go to their rabbi, a wise man indeed, and they ask him what to do about this.  And, well, there's not very many good solutions here, especially because the one thing Jewish religious law, as first laid out in the Torah - which some of you may know as the Old Testament - and expanded upon by thousands of years of rabbis debating about things in the Talmud, definitively says you shouldn't do, despite a doctrine of breaking any law to save lives otherwise - well, you can't lie about being Jewish.  You can't pretend to renounce God to save your life and still be a Jew.  But.  The rabbi is not just wise in the Law, he is wise in the mysteries of God.  And so, he gathers some clay, that which of man was made, and sculpts it in man's image - although I'm given to believe the Golem of Prague was only about as tall as you, even if his arms and legs were about as big around as my splayed-out hand.  Anyway; the wise rabbi has sculpted his golem, but it is not yet alive, and it must live, if it is to defend the Jewish citizens of Prague from their oppressors.  So he writes four characters into the clay of the golem's forehead, that I believe spelled emet.  I'm not actually sure I remember the precise meaning; I suspect it's wisdom, of a sort.

"And this simply works!  The Golem of Prague protects Prague's Jews from the attempted purge.  But...the rabbi is a wise man, and he knows the Golem cannot remain as it is, now that the threat is gone.  Why that is so, I do not know, but he is wise.

"So he takes his thumb to the forehead of the golem, where he wrote emet a long time ago, and smudges out, not the name, not the word, but one, single, character - transforming emet - wisdom - into met - ...death.

"And that, ladies, gentlemen, and other distinguished guests, is the story of the Golem of Prague."


"And, to return to your comment...yes, park rangering is really difficult, what with the way you're so often out on your own in the woods where camouflaged monsters and bears and moose - moose, which are tough enough and big enough orcas, sometimes erroneously called killer whales, will have opportunities, and try, to eat them - are, trying to rescue people who did something dunderheaded.

"If a park ranger says something, if you see a trail sign, you listen to that, because it's there for a reason, and you don't want them to get hurt rescuing you, you know?  I really admire them - they do so much unsung work cleaning up inconsiderate people's messes, while the people with magic get to be flashy about what they're doing.

"Not to dismiss the work only spirit bearers can do, mind; I wouldn't have worked as hard as I did to become one if it wasn't worth doing - but the people who just quietly do the work that keeps society moving are heroes as much as any spirit bearer.  So take a look around you, and thank the garbage truck crew, the janitorial staff, the water treatment plant people, the long-haul truckers, the farmers, the postal workers, the fast food people, the train operators, the mine workers...The people who do the things you'd only notice if they stopped."


"Wow, you sound like you had good public relations lessons," Sarcastic says. 

"No, no, like she came right out of Garden of Elements~! She reminds me of Chrysanthemum Flare!"


She blinks, surprised despite the fact that she is heavily leaning on the lessons of those of her who were born for PR work.  "I do?  Well, I suppose I've always been a bit of an idealist!  And a believer in the power of making friends," she smiles softly at her own secret in-joke.  "Though I'll admit, I'm new enough to this whole thing that," she stage-whispers, "if there are PR classes, I haven't even been enrolled yet!"


A part of her mind is still ticking away, beneath the façade of giving these two kids rapt attention - which she legitimately is, she supposes; it's just not her full attention.

The rest of it is watching the crowd, seeing how they react to what she says.


People seem to be regarding the interaction as something between an annoyance- Loudness on a train- And cute/heartwarming in a Good Public Servant kind of way. Someone's surreptitiously recording with a blocky video camera held low, and arguing gently with his friend about whether it's illegal to record kids.


"Do you watch Garden of Elements?"

"What's your magic, anyway?"


"Sometimes!  I watch a lot of science shows, martial arts competitions, those survivalist competition pieces - stuff that's a bit more work-related - but I do have a soft spot for the power of friendship; Garden of Elements was part of what inspired me to pick up the spear when I was a little kid, because I wanted to be like the magical girls and boys on the TV, you know?"

"As for my magic..."

Luna reaches out, carefully, and summons a bit of water, floating in a globe, before slooowly spinning it out into a thin disk, and then pinching it into an upside-down 'whirlpool' that becomes a (neatly-contained) 'fountain' over her outstretched palm okay she's just going to flex the disk instead of really going 3D, yikes, she almost lost control of that!  She needs better focusing mechanisms!

"It's not my only trick, but I can do stuff like this!"


The middle schoolers clap politely and start talking about Garden of Elements, mostly to each other.

One glasses-wearing man who seems to be paying close attention but hasn't said anything winces at the near-loss of control.

"Miss, am I right to assume you've only just been mantled?" He asks quietly.


She nods.


He nods back to buy himself time to think, then says, "Public displays of magic without the right context tend to make people nervous, given the..."

The fact that most magical girls hit like tanks? And are kind of known to be reckless or dramatic at times? How they're effectively always armed? How most people don't have that kind of casual power, how it so often comes to teens, not responsible adults, and can't really be taken away?



"So noted; I do hope you're not implying that this was not one of them?  I was asked, after all."


"Just something to keep in mind."

One of the middle schoolers pouts at him.


"It's okay, he's just worried about me.

"...And speaking of worry, I would like to take a moment and reassure you that the only people in the splash zone of that trick were myself and the seat next to me, even if it had gone plooie," she says, to him, in a voice that's the direct opposite of her stage voice in how it carries.


"Start as you mean to continue, miss." He sighs slightly. "My aunt was one, and, well, long story I won't bother you with."


"...If you want to tell it, I think having a listening ear can do you good.  And part of why I'm taking the train instead of driving is to talk, and listen."


"Not for little ears."

"Uh, we're thirteen. Not little."

"Not in public. Not to strangers who have no reason to hear it."


"...someone died, in that story that I offered to listen to.  And death sucks, and...

"Nobody should have to deal with the gaping hole in their heart where a person once resided.  Cherish the moments you have where everyone and everything you love still stands.  Don't go chasing tragedies."


The two middle schoolers go quiet. 

"...Yeah. It's not all fun and games. Monsters."

Glasses man shakes his head and sighs. "Sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up. It's old news. Just move on, please."


"...Now may not be the right time or place, but it doesn't sound like you have moved on as you might have liked.  And you shouldn't be left behind just because the world has."

She makes a soft, considering noise, and, with a bit of juggling of things, manages to give the man her email, or rather, the hastily-selected email address she put up for magical-girling with the night before.  '' is long, and unwieldy, but it is indubitably hers, for all that she'll likely be arranging something through a better, more privacy-preserving, front in the coming days.

"Take this; you can and should use it, if you want to talk, sometime.  Do do me the favor of keeping it private, if you would?  But...You should get to tell your story, if you want to."


...That handled, she'll see if she can get the kids talking again.  Garden of Elements is a good distraction, thankfully, and if she asks them what they think will happen next episode, they might even do some literary analysis without noticing they're doing 'schoolwork', and be better off for it.


Is there anyone else who's really paying attention to her, or that looks like they want to say something?


Garden of Elements!!! Well obviously Chrysanthemum Flare's longing for Malcolm the violinist has been hinted at for a while and they're going to guard the orchestra so obviously---- Ah but they still have to figure out where Dark Girl Schawrzstahl learned about Cameron Cattail's vulnerability to being blinded, she's obviously trickier than the average arc villain and----

They will talk about this eagerly.


The train isn't too crowded at this hour, a good bit after lunch but well before evening rush. On Sunday no less. Camcorder Bros from earlier are still paying attention to her and quietly speculating about something, but no longer recording.


She gives the kids a genuine smile and wanders a bit closer to the Camcorder Bros; what're they speculating about?


"Dude shut up she's coming here."

"Nah, bro, this is a public space. There's no reasonable expectation of privacy."

"Hi! Miss spirit bearer! Who's coming closer!"

The guy who held the camcorder originally rolls his eyes. "Hello. I'm Greg Smithers, independent reporter."

Non-recording guy makes a disbelieving, frustrated noise.

"Hey, I have a website and everything! It counts!"

"Anyone can have a website, Greg. Hi, miss spirit bearer, he doesn't mean any harm."


She chuckles.  "I saw you recording earlier; I don't mind.  I am in a public place, after all, and part of why I'm here today was to see and be seen.  Might I inquire what so obviously had your attention before this?"


"Just trying to sharpen my analysis skills. Blue is usually associated with water, obviously, but that headband is interesting and I'm not sure what to make of it - as far as I can tell it usually just means you like it, and can sometimes imply a whimsical or cheerful personality. There's nothing like hard rules on raiment tendencies and implications, and I heard you mention being new which explains the relative simplicity, only very new spirit bearers have such simple raiment. If you agree, I'd like to take some photographs and videos as your magic develops so we can track the changes in your raiment!"


"That does sound like an interesting project..."

She plucks the headband from her head, and turns it around and around in her hands.

"Though there's some things happening behind the scenes, as was, that one imagines would pose a significant advantage to avoid blasting to all and sundry."  ...Wait, why is that stripe that definitely seemed blue a minute ago, now definitely a black-green gradient?

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