Sep 26, 2023 7:39 AM
Self imposed isekai
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He sets the fritter down on the stone basin for a moment, and formally bows in the polite way. Right arm to left shoulder, feet straight, forty five degrees. "Thank you for teaching me, and for the food. My name is Nicodemus."

Un-bow. ...And point to himself. "Nicodemus. Nico."

And picks the fritter back up and resumes eating.

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That was a lot of words that he knew she wouldn't understand, so some kind of ritual? She bows back, ears forward and tail low, and points to herself. "Calsa."

Home is next, but she hates eating while walking so, just in case he does too, she'll wait until he's done.

Hm, he might be getting cold, even in the middle of town - human fur is pretty thin, and his clothes look decent but he should have something warmer if he wants to walk around without catfolk nearby... She boops a fire onto the ground and sits next to him.

And then home? Her house is a few blocks away. Stone like the others, about 20 feet by 60 feet, but hers has a roof: a tall smooth dome. She steps through the open doorway and checks if Nico is following her in?

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He is following her in, a bit cautiously and keeping his distance.

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Inside, there is:

A large box, with a curtain on the front made of what look like bricks.

A shelf of flat stone plates.

A tray of white sand on a low table.

Another table piled with bowls, a knife, fabric, purple squash, and wicker baskets (one has a woven hand sprouting from the top).

A shelf of stone jars and a big roll of cane.

A pile of stone scraps: curved blocks, chain, gears, a broken plate...

A chamber pot with a lid.

Calsa pulls up a trapdoor and lights a fire under the ground. From a different trapdoor, she pulls out a vegetable patty of her own, darker and smelling fermented.

She sits by the sand table. Nico is going to love this! First, she draws the pillar mechanism: a J-shaped hourglass with several fans in it in two groups, below the fire and above, connected by a shaft. At the top, the shaft has a flywheel and gears with another much thicker shaft that goes into the ground. The chain connects to the flywheel by some sort of hooks, and she sketches another chain going to the big handle.

And: a stick figure with pointy ears - "Calsa" - a smaller plain stick figure - "Nico" - a larger stick figure with claws - "Merta" - and a figure Nico's size with round ears and a long pointy face - "Siki".

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Nico is paying much more attention to the mechanism sketch than the family sketch, muttering under his breath and following it with his finger.

He traces the ground-shaft further down and draws the sawmill's mechanism. The rack-and-pinion, that turns spinning into back-and-forward-ing. The pitcher pump at the well works on back-and-forwarding so this seems reasonable. He also draws a pitcher pump and lines going to the mechanism. And a '?'.

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No, the bottom of the shaft spins another fan... She doesn't know more than that, but - point to water fan, blow, just like with the air fan?

Merta will know better, and she'll be home soon... Calsa draws a Merta figure drawing on a table by a Nico figure.

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Sure?

"...Merta? Huh. Calsa, say things? I want to learn." He tries to replicate some of the things he said earlier, under the spell. "Hi? Lost?"

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Ah! "Hi!" She tries to remember things he said...

She holds a double handful of sand. "Much." She drops it and sprinkles a thimbleful. "Not much." 

"Much sand. Not much sand." She gets a large pitcher. "Much water." In her cup: "Not much water." In the sand: "No water." 

"House. Much house: town. Town: Kef." She draws a couple squares, a straight line, and a couple more squares at the other end. "Town: Archer's Tabard." The straight line keeps going - "Much much houses: city. City: Argolake. Much cities: Sota. Um. Allheart Alliance." Does he recognize any of those polities?

She points to herself. "Green. Catfolk." Him: "White." And looks at him with exaggerated puzzlement.

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He is... Also puzzled. And doesn't seem to recognize any of the names.

"...No white. I not much white, I-" He clasps his hands and makes wiggly finger motions. "No white." He mimes a pillow against his head and shuts his eyes for a moment. "Not much white." Wiggly motions again. "No white. I not much green?"

He looks around for examples of the other important colors: Black, blue, and red.

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White means - energy? Willpower? Something that is expended by doing his thing, and recovered by sleeping.

"I green? I white?"

She notices him looking around and lights sconces on the walls, and a chandelier that she has to climb on a box to reach.

The water pitcher is white with blue painting: pointy trees, an enormous wolf, a torn rope, and all the remaining spaces filled with raindrops.

The rock is dark grey, and he can eventually find a black chunk in it, smoothed into the rest.

There don't seem to be any red objects in the house. The flames are dark orange at the tips?

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Explaining this would be hard and frustrating. He barely remembers anything about how to talk here from the horrible bad attempt at shoving white at something it's never done before. It's always bad the first few times, like the first time you swing an axe or the first time you hold a knife or the first time you climb a tree. But he barely got anything out of it, and it lasted like... Ten seconds.

Learning a whole new language sounds like the kind of thing that gets you more white, though...

This place is weird. It's not just that they're all red seekers, specialized in only fire. She'd know what white and green mean already. Also. He liked having secrets from his parents. They couldn't tell him not to play with light because he just never did it when they could see. And he's getting - frustrated, uncomfortable, he can feel the burnt points hanging out next to the ones he still has and it's almost itchy but not the kind of thing he can scratch-

He shakes his head and mimes confusion and frustration.

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"It's okay."

He must be tired and overwhelmed. She pushes aside the brick curtain on the box (they're lighter than bricks) and sits on the edge. There are blankets inside, see?

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"No, [say more things. Blah blah blah!] Green. White. Much. Not much. Water. Sand. Houshe." (He mispronounces it drawlingly.)  "Much [blah blah!]"

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"Okay! This is a huddlebed, this is fire, that's a table, that's a bowl, that's the floor. The table is on the floor. The huddlebed is on the floor. The bowl is on the table. This is my hand. The fire is on my hand. The fire is in my hand. I am in the huddlebed. The fire is not in the huddlebed." Because the blankets are flammable. "I'm going to the table. I'm not in the huddlebed. I'm under the table..." And so on for taking things and putting them down and moving from and up-to and past and in-the-vicinity-of, and liking and disliking things. She's using proper grammar now, not foreigner talk.

"White, green..." She burns pinches of powder from jars - "red, orange, golden, yellow, blue, violet, teal, chartreuse."

"Ah! I need to pee!" She turns her back to him, hikes up her skirt, and pees in the chamber pot.

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The word Nico's society uses for themselves, lost to time, originally meant something like 'many colors'. Thus: Their name for themselves will be translated as Kaleid, not human.


He repeats her sentences in mutters, thinking hard and trying to absorb as much of it as possible. It's only polite to try hard when someone's trying to teach you. He's not going to pretend to ignore it, like with Dad.

He has a headache, he's kinda tired, he's kinda scared, he wants to learn more about machines and he wants to not get in trouble.

(He looks away. Not doing that is a thing that gets you in trouble.)

 

At length: "You are a catfolk. Catfolk do fire [magic]. I am a Kaleid. Kaleids do color [magic]. You have colors in you, and you do magic, and the colors are less, and then later they are more again. Red blue green white and um - not not white. Catfolk [only] do fire. Kaleid do very many [magic], but not much."

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Yay verbal communication! "I am a catfolk! Catfolk do fire magic. You are a" she repeats his word "kaleid and kaleids do color magic. Not not white? Uh, white - not white is no color? - not not white is past that? The opposite of white is black. The opposite of under is over. Yes, catfolk do one magic, fire."

This is making sense! Kaleids are an uncontacted species living in the wilderness. Wow. How do they survive the cold without cats? Oh, duh, they must be able to warm themselves with color magic.

Do they know of any other species at all? He thought her form was a magical effect, so that would imply no, except he looks so much like a human - maybe there are other species that look just like him and can only be distinguished by magic?

She holds up one finger at a time: "kaleid, catfolk, ...do you know of any more?"

Oh! Maybe the five colors are different species, but they can hybridize! That explains how Nico has both white and green, and maybe why he resembles a human! "Or white, green, red, blue, black, fire, any other kinds of magic you know?"

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A large person with salt-and-pepper fur and thick blunt claws slips in the front door, retrieves a food disk, kneels on the floor, and knee-shuffles to Calsa's side, staying a nonthreatening distance from Nico.

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hug

"This is Merta!"

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"Hello Merta?" He frowns. This person is big, but - somehow not as scary as that would usually be?

"...I heard about more color magics? Golden, violet, um, not-seen-fire-color, other-not-seen-color. But I not see them. None us see them. Kaleids talk about them in much much past. I heard about [gods] who are color magic but much much much much much much much more. I heard, [gods] made color magic. But also none us see them."

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(Maybe because she's a normal size for a werewolf, in a world where size hardly corresponds to capacity for violence, in a town where 60% of the population can maim her with a touch.)

"Hello, uh - "

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"Nico."

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"Nico.

Your new stray."

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"Yep! He calls himself a kaleid. We were just talking about his species, or perhaps family of species. I've seen him do illusions and translation but he's out of magic now, he uses a resource for it that gets depleted and then replenished when he rests. I've never heard of anything like that, have you?

Golden, violet, more colors - that's fascinating, Nico. Maybe [gods] are humans, since they're the only thing we know of that makes new magic. Or maybe something else is going on with your combination of magic? You look a lot like a human, maybe there's another species out there that does that."

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"I have not!

You should talk to the Magistrate tomorrow."

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"She's not going to give me a stipend, he must be at least four years old."

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