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in which Aestrix is a dungeon
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And, probably, she should not expand outside of a designated area and freak the humans out by being an almighty dungeon that could easily kill them if she wanted. That seems hella likely. Also things about eating her proverbial seed corn, or expanding/making so much that she can't make anything challenging to feed herself. Or something.

"Right, okay." Puuuuuush, down the corridor. Not particularly far, just a little. And then also a little above her room, to see about easily getting stone for building materials. She'll eventually give it a nice dramatic arched feel, make this place look less like a box of sadness. With pretty designs on the floor. And also a stain.

... Speaking of, is the stain on the floor of anything she can recognize? Is that a thing she she can check with her bullshit dungeon senses? Because she absolutely wants to clean that up, but she will catalogue the appropriate associated data first.

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Yes! That is blood. Old blood, which soaked into the stone some time ago and has since had years of time to have dust ground into it and to fade, flaking to a dull patina.

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Cool, cool, cool, not alarming at all. She's cleaning that up and pretending she didn't notice it, thank you. Have a pretty floor design instead.

This task complete, she will grab a bit of ceiling stone and scootch it into a nice tidy slab of stone by the corridor. If all goes well, this is the start of her first puzzle. It will be fairly simple; a series of stone circles growing in size, making a series of rings, all of which can move independently. It should be easy enough to set some of these to move others when moved, right? Time for a basic bitch video game puzzle! Hey, at least it's not a tower of fucking hanoi. She has standards, there are enough of those damn things as it is.

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If she is willing to try a few times with different circles, she can eventually figure out the technique for making a magical item. Having seen the structure of the pendant, it's fairly intuitive -- hold the desired behavior in your head, and then 'push' the idea into the material. If she just pushes it, it slides off again without sticking. But if she enmeshes it in the stone, turning the idea over and over until it's caught on the grains of the stone and layered against itself, then it sticks even after she turns her attention away.

 

Kose comes and leans on the doorway to watch her progress.

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Excellent! Then she will carefully set some of these circles to move when some of their fellows are moved, and once just about everything is connected to each other, she grabs more stone from the ceiling to draw something onto the series of circles. Hmmm, water purification tablets pebbles, so... Stylized design of some water, then. She can do a lovely, asymmetric swirling art of waves, dark stone for the color of the ocean, lighter stone for the froth of the waves, and the in-between for the sky above. Artistically speaking, it's not her best work, but she probably shouldn't get too fussy so soon in her dungeon life. It looks pretty enough.

"I was thinking have this be a door, which then opens to reveal water purification pebbles when the circles are arranged to get this design," she explains, to Kose. Demonstrably, she moves one of the rings in the set of circles; two others move with it. "And some of the rings coincide with each other, like so." She moves the ring she touched back, and the other two rings follow to restore her artwork.

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"Oh, how clever!" Kose remarks. "Is there a pattern to the way rings are linked to each other?"

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“Sort of! It depends on which ring you move. So, if this one,” she marks the ring she’s moving with a little indentation, “is moved, then the other two also move. But!” She puts the ring back, removes the indentation, and adds one to one of the rings that had been moved, “If this one is moved instead, it moves an entirely different set of rings.” As promised, when she moves this one, another ring that had stayed still before moves instead.

“There are a couple here that can be freely moved without changing the others,” she continues, putting the ring back in both location and indentation. “Mostly to make this a bit easier, I want to make this a neat puzzle, not literally impossible. I want the Adventurers to get nice things!”

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Kose displays a tiny flash of skepticism, before a smile breaks over her face.

"That's great!" she agrees. "I'm sure an attitude like that will make you a very popular adventuring spot. If you've figured out the rings, do you think you've also got a design for the water purification stones worked out?"

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“Mmm, sort of? I have a couple concerns, mostly about starting parameters and conditions and general safety. Probably it’d be easier to suck up and then filter the water, a pebble that purifies bodies of water it’s touched to seems trickier. Like, what percentage of water to not-water is enough for it to activate? Where does what’s being removed go? If I answer all of those questions with magic, that makes it more complicated, and likely to rub off quicker, and I need to have better starting materials to hold that complexity. Better to make an efficient design. So, hm, maybe more like a… tube….”

She is totally going to start making a tube out of her stone, now.

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"Perhaps I should also explain how to make things directly out of firmament, so that you're not restricted to stone?" she suggests.

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“I guess that would be more hygienic, I don’t exactly know which types of rock are and are not toxic. Let me map out the overall design in stone first, though? Then I can make it in, uh, something else.”

Tube: is made. She adds a design of a button to its side, then with a moment of thought, a hole near one of the tube’s ends. Hmm. Maybe she should also color the side of the tube that water comes out of as blue for ease of use? Is that possible? That can go be tabled until she’s making stuff, she thinks.

“Right, I’ve got something,” she says firmly, floating the unassuming looking tube over to Kose. “The plan is to have it activate when the little marker on the side is pressed. It sucks up liquids on one side and outputs pure water on the other, with all of the gunk being removed shoved out through the hole in the side. Simple and efficient.”

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"That does look efficient!" Kose agrees.

"Although sometimes efficiency in magic can be a little counterintuitive. It can be more important to have a concept simple enough to hold in your head in its entirety than to have the simplest possible mechanism," she warns. "Since imbuing magic is free, perhaps you should see how well your concept fits on that model before we try making one with better materials?"

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"Sure, okay."

It's honestly a pretty straightforward concept to hold in her head. She knows what vacuums are. She understands filtration. Water is just dihydrogen monoxide, it is not complicated to set it as the only thing to be expelled out of the end of the tube. Pressing the button (Technically speaking it's not actually a button, but it's got button like qualities. It aspires to one day be a proper button, when she figures out the particulars of how to make that physically possible. A button awaiting transition surgery to become its true self, if you will.) will cause this end to suck in stuff, and only water will go out the other end. Everything else goes out this hole in the side, which in retrospect she maybe needs to make bigger, but this is why we prototype designs before we put them into production. Nice and tidy, easy to set into the stone, different parts of the stone doing different parts of her system.

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Kose watches her fiddle with the prototype.

"Does it feel like the magic set?" she asks when it looks like Aestrix is done. "I normally have dungeons make something we can test right away, but this one might be harder to test. Perhaps we can ask your first set of Adventurers to test it and report back."

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"It does!" says Aestrix, happily. She is so pleased that she is getting a good grade in doing a good job at being a dungeon. "Hmm. But we can probably test it here, can't we? There's water vapor in the air. It wouldn't give us very much purified water, but it should work just fine. I didn't give it any sort of minimum parameters, it'll just work when it's turned on."

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Kose splutters a bit. "In the air? But water's a liquid. I guess steam ..."

She shakes her head and refocuses on Aestrix. "It's certainly worth a try," she responds, although from her tone she's not very confident that the test will succeed.

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Oh. Oops. Did she display a basic knowledge of chemistry in a world where that is not a thing? She totally did. Look, in her defense, it was a fun problem, and she was excited and furthermore she regrets nothing. Unless Kose and her friends try to kill her. In which case, uh, she maybe regrets that.

"Sure. You can do the honors? Put pressure on the little," it is still not actually a button, "stone on the side, and we'll see if it works."

And if it doesn't work then that's probably going to make her look much more nice and fluffy and harmless. While she, just, you know. Thinks about how she'd do some self defense of her crystal thingy, if it hypothetically were to ever come up. Purely hypothetically.

(Rocks fall and everyone dies seems so inelegant. Probably a container holding the crystal thingy that redirects all kinetic force back where it came from? And then also she can figure out how to put a fucking spike trap in the ceiling, or something.)

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Kose reaches out and takes the prototype. She presses the stud, and then re-angles the exhaust to point away from her face when it blasts her with dry air. A few drops of water spatter out of the output end and color the stone.

"...huh!" she remarks, releasing her hold on the activator. "Well done. I can see that being really useful."

She holds out the prototype for Aestrix to take, and then clasps her hands. "Now that you've got your first puzzle and reward worked out, is there anything else that you want to make sure to handle before your first Adventurers get here?"

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"Thank you! Uh, I think I'd like to dress the place up a bit better first, it looks, um." It looks better than it did when she first began, and there are pretty designs on the floor and a nice domed ceiling above her crystal thingy, and her puzzle door's looking pretty promising, but. ... It's kind of still just a box of sadness. With a little corner of shame that she shunted the blood off into, along with various other debris that she wasn't using at the time. "... I can do better," is what she settles on, instead of the idea that she feels like she'd be greeting guests in her pajamas.

And also she can get in some self defense mechanisms in place with all of the pretty. The nice thing about complicated designs is that you can hide tricky things in them like a little sneak. Pretty and practical! Her favorite.

"Should they, uh, be able to touch the crystal thingy? That seems like it's kind of important," she says, as she carefully starts doing detail work on her room. There will be columns! And, hell, she forgot the name of them but little decorative engraving things, there will be those! She refuses to be an ugly dungeon, it's not allowed. And if she happens to plan for putting super sharp spike traps that drop out of the pretty engravings in case there's an emergency, that's her business, isn't it.

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Kose peers around at her aesthetic changes, fiddling with one of her rings.

"The crystal is the nexus of your power, but it isn't you," she claims. "If a dungeon's crystal is disrupted, it will reform over time from the natural energies that pervade the area of a dungeon."

She walks over to stand amicably beside Aestrix's central column. "And for that same reason, it's important to leave access to the crystal unobstructed, so that your energies can flow in and out."

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Hello, central, this is Aestrix, we're detecting a high chance of bullshit, over.

Also, saying something alarming like 'the scary dungeon knows how to not die' coincides with Kose messing with her rings, which is very interesting. It doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it's interesting. She super wants to know what those rings are, but she is still being fluffy and innocent, and so she will not look at them. Especially not coincided to when Kose is actively messing with them. Tralala, no pattern recognition here, she is an innocent and fluffy dungeon made out of sweetness and light, and she is not at all concerned that Kose is maybe prepping to murder her if she gets uppity, nope.

"Huh, okay. And if it's disrupted I... lose my ability to do stuff for a while?" she asks, still perfectly innocent. "And the same if I cut it off from, er, myself?"

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Kose nods. "Yes, exactly. It also reduces your awareness of what is going on within yourself. But it's not permanently harmful. The only things which can really harm dungeons are large external disasters, like earthquakes, which disrupt the natural confluence of energies."

She sits down and examines the artwork on the ceilings in more detail.

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Since she hasn't figured out how to put any spikes into anything yet, there aren't any. For now, it's actually just a pretty pattern. But the floral circular design around the central column holding her crystal thingy is totally going to eventually be built to conceal a shield of some kind. Eventually.

"Good to know. Oh, actually. We totally forgot about directly making things? I absolutely want to make the water purification tube out of better materials, I don't want to accidentally poison anyone while I'm trying to give them clean water."

Innocent. And. Fluffy.

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"Yes, of course!" Kose responds, abandoning her investigation of the artwork. "It's actually the same skill that you've been using to move items around. Only instead of pulling a stone out of the wall, for example, you pull it out of the firmament, instead. The firmament is the universal medium that everything is embedded within. One of my previous partners compared it to pulling a rabbit out of a hat, without the hat."

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... what.

Uh. Okay??

She. Will pull. A glass version of her prototype (with a slightly larger exhaust hole, she remembered her earlier thoughts) out of. Nothing???

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