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in which Aestrix is a dungeon
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"You're welcome!" says the dungeon, warmly and sincerely. Then she gets to happily sorting through all of the pile of what she assumes is refuse. Uh, probably she should check before she starts disassembling it, she literally just had this lesson of 'talk to people' not even a minute ago.

"This pile is all mine, right, I can take it apart and stare at it to my little dungeon heart's content?"

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Tanth nods. "Yes, that's all for you. I'm still not certain what you want with it, but it is. We have people bringing up some more stuff in a bit as well. That's just what we had to hand in the kitchen when I checked in."

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"Just checking! Thank you. Mostly I'm going to take everything apart to its component materials and add them to my library." She starts doing that; the pile of stuff disappears and she starts sorting it. "Which you can still have a copy of, by the way, but will definitely need to pay for, because some of the things in there are stuff I don't think I can get from taking garbage apart. Uh, just, do whatever available puzzle you like, or do, er, pushups or something? I'm not picky on the how, just if I'm conjuring matter for your hypothetical benefit if you want to try again with a far inferior dungeon, I don't want it to have come at my expense."

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Tanth, who was not here for a good portion of that discussion, nods cautiously.

"Right."

He glances over at Kose, who beckons him over and explains. Tanth shrugs and finds a flat spot to do pushups.

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"What materials have you collected so far?" Kose asks. "And are there any that you're particularly looking for?"

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"Iiiiiit is a long list. We should see if our writing systems are compatible so I can just send you the list instead of having to say it all. I'm not really looking for anything in particular, though, I just strongly feel like having a material library to refer to instead of having to rely on my shitty memory is better long term."

Since they're actually working on paying for the thing; she does get to putting together the tidy material library in question, mostly out of stuff that she has copies of lying around, at least to start. It looks like a slab, with a tidy grid system of materials, all neatly set into the stone.

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Kose, Perkre, and Rokat all pick puzzles to do as well. More villagers arrive with bundles of odd discarded items — broken furniture, ashes, old thatch, shards of pottery — and place them in the designated pile. Other magic items in various states of repair also trickle in: a flaming sword, a bow that conjures its own arrows, a mouthguard that lets you breathe underwater.

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She fixes the magical items as promised, even if they're inefficiently made and don't deserve it. Like the flaming sword. Like that.

"A flaming sword. The inefficiency pains me, you realize, but yes, yes, here you go, all fixed up," she comments, on that one. The bow that conjures arrows is also kind of dumb, but it at least makes logical sense instead of just sort of. Being the sort of thing that seems like it'd be really powerful without actually being anything of the sort.

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"Thank you?" the boy who brought in the flaming sword replies. "What's inefficient about it? Ma said it looks pretty awesome, only she won't let me see because it was broken and also she doesn't want me setting things on fire with it, so I have to train with a normal sword until I'm good enough with it."

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"You're welcome. So, it's... fire is a bad way to kill things? In general. I suppose it varies for monsters, some of them might actually be flammable, but humans are not. They often wear things that are, but it's... it causes injury and distraction. And looks cool. As far as magical benefits go, that's... not adding a ton to the table that the sword doesn't already bring. Fire is hot, but it's not, er, melt through armor or other metal hot without extensive exposure. It causes the enemy pain, but it doesn't dramatically shift the tides in your favor during a fight. So. Inefficient."

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"Some monsters are actually flammable," Kose confirms. "But it's usually not worth dedicating your main weapon to dealing with those types unless you know you're going to be encountering them or you don't have anything better enchanted."

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Meket gets a mulish look. "I guess that makes sense."

He gives the wall a small kick. "Flaming swords are cool, though."

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Heh. Technically, kicking the wall is kicking her, so she's tempted to deadpan an 'ow,' but she's still trying to be nonthreatening.

"Sure, but." But it's so inefficient. But she doesn't want to be an arms dealer! But it's also... literally a sword; if a sword is a legitimate threat to her, in a world where she has kinetic energy and literal magic, then she deserves to die. "... Look, do you want me to give this sword a better enchantment, and then also maybe an impressive glow or something? Fire is mostly just dangerous and likely to maim and injure people, and potentially burn things down, without enough tangible martial benefit to properly justify it."

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Meket is the very picture of a sullen teenager, but he's practical enough to know that you don't turn down free magic.

"Yes, please," he replies, setting the sword down again for her to work on. "What kind of enchantment?" 

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"Mmm... something to actually get past defenses... I wonder if I can pull off an enchantment to cut through other enchantments. Er. And probably glow when monsters are near," since he is a teenager who wants something showy, she knows how it goes, "in case that doesn't work out. Mmm... magic sensing, displayed by glow, then cutting when in direct contact with it..."

Her, nerdsniped? Always.

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He peers at the sword as she works, and then swings it around and watches it glow when he brings it near the enchantments on the puzzles.

"I guess that's pretty cool," he agrees. "Thank you again."

Meket takes the sword back to the village, and continues helping ferry miscellaneous detritus in over the next few hours. Other villagers circulate between the puzzles when they arrive to drop things off. A group of kids compete to see who can jump the farthest on the light up floor.

Kose and Rokat keep the whole affair vaguely organized, and also make sure to introduce her to everyone as they come through.

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"You're welcome," she says, all pleased with herself that she got all of that crammed into one sword. Who knows if it'll hold for very long, but! It's much more useful than being on fire!!!

She is delighted to meet everyone, and if she has to keep notes on who's name is whose then that's her business. And also? The kids are adorable, and the contest is incredibly cute, and she will, er, how about enchant something of the winner's as a Proper Dungeon Reward(tm). With something cheap and easy and practical. Uh, do the kids have opinions about what prize they should get. Nothing dangerous, please.

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A dragon!

No, those are dangerous. 

And also Miss Kose said monsters can't go outside dungeons.

A box that has a rock in it!

Why would you want one of those?

A crown that lets you fly! A doll piano!

Ooh, what about a shield that also has a secret compartment in it that turns things into honey?

A trebuchet that fires frogs!

That's dangerous too!

No it's not, they're frogs. Duh.

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"What about a bracelet that turns into a shield that has a dragon wearing a crown on it?" Rokat suggests, with the ease of someone who has been herding children for many years.

     "Can there be a frog on it?"

     "Ooh, what if the dragon was breathing frogs instead of fire?"

"I'm sure Miss Aestrix could make a picture of a dragon like that if you ask nicely," she replies with a smile.

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"Please, Miss Aestrix?" the various small children ask. Some of them make puppy eyes, but they aren't entirely sure where to point them, so they all end up looking at a different part of her architecture.

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Help, children are the cutest. Yes, she would be delighted to make a bracelet that will become a shield. With a dragon on it. And a frog on its head instead of a crown. Because it amuses her. Does this mean she needs to actually make a bracelet that can properly hold the enchantment instead of just enchanting something already there? Yes. Yes it does. Does she mind? No, no she does not.

(The bracelet is a platinum-titanium alloy, and is very pretty. It also vaguely looks like a snakelike dragon breathing interlinked chains of stylized fire, because of course it does. Look, she has standards, okay.)

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Rokat shepherds the children through their game with a minimum number of injuries while Aestrix makes the bracelet.

The winner — a girl named Loksa — proudly claims the bracelet and turns it over in her hands.

"It's so pretty!" she exclaims. She slips it over her wrist and turns it into a shield and lets out a surprised "eep!" because she wasn't prepared for the change in weight. "I'm going to go show Uncle!" she declares, before taking off back towards the village.

She screeches to a halt right on the threshold and calls "Thank you!" before taking off again.

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The other children variously spread out between the other puzzles, or follow her back to the village.

Rokat shakes her head and returns to her chair. "Children. It's amazing that they're not more trouble than they're worth, given how much trouble they are," she remarks.

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"You're welcome!" she calls back, amused. Then, at a more reasonable volume, to Rokat:

"It's the cuteness. Ultimate defense mechanism, that. Besides! Life would be boring without a little bit of trouble."

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"Ha! I suppose that's true," she allows.

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