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Ahmose in Worm
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"Huh. Nobody here."

He plays a flashlight around the interior. Notes the disturbed area around the mattress, along with the lack of footprints leading to the door.

"Call Hookwolf. I think he's going to want to hear about this," he tells Larry.

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The rock is cold, and quite a bit more windy than the interior of the shack was. But it seems undisturbed, and he can have a few more hours of chilly sleep before dawn.

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First he has to find the little portals he left behind the shack and replace them with ones leading to his rock again. And then he's going to sleep under the foreign stars, cold and miserable and hungry.

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He is undisturbed until dawn. A pack of coyotes passes relatively close, but they don't climb the butte to get at him. Dawn breaks cold and clear, the clouds having blown away in the night.

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Ahmose just wants this all to be over with already. He washes his face and drinks some water and starts moving his portal north again. What does the Crown look like?

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Flat, icy, and surprisingly devoid of demons.

Fewer demons does not mean no demons. He does spot a hulking armored figure with curling black horns running across the ice at one point. But there is no sign of a hole into the Abyss, nor of any particular fighting.

Mostly, there's just ice. For hours. Until finally, on the horizon, he sees a glimmer of light.

It is hard to tell what it is, from this distance. It is perhaps a city, or perhaps sunlight reflecting off of a mountain range. Either way, it would not be far from his current course.

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Sure, he'll go look at the shiny thing. It might be a few wasted minutes, but this is boring.

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As he approaches, the glimmer slowly grows until he can see that it is a huge swirling dome of rainbow color, perhaps five miles across. It is beautiful to look at, especially against the omnipresent snow. The shimmers and eddies of color are entrancing, and make it somewhat difficult to look away and see the other things which surround the dome.

Around it at a distance of a mile or so is a wall, on which soldiers in black uniforms patrol. Outside the wall are a series of low buildings. There is a depression in the land leading from the far side of the dome up past where the wall now stands.

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That seems like a military installation or something else he probably shouldn't mess with! It's definitely too small to be the Worldwound...

He's come far enough that people might speak familiar languages here. He'll try making very small unobtrusive portals next to the buildings and see if he can overhear any conversation that way.

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Николай is mostly complaining about how boring a posting this is, and how much he is looking forward to seeing Саскылах when they get leave, even though it's a boring tiny town. Anything would be better than this.

But he's doing so in Russian, which is not even slightly related to Osiriani, so Ahmose won't be able to understand any of it.

Prolonged eavesdropping will reveal that everyone here is speaking the same unfamiliar language, sometimes with a few words of something else thrown in.

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Useless...

Oh well, the dome was pretty to look at. He resumes making portals towards what is now south.

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Doing so takes him (slowly) through gradually less snowy and more forested mountains, with some incredible views. At one point, he passes over a road with two iron tracks laid down on it and a different style of self-moving cart hauling a long chain of wagons up the mountain.

He passes several smaller settlements, but they still speak the same language as the soldiers by the dome.

Continuing further south, things get increasingly mountainous, until he comes across a huge lake nestled in a steep valley with a large city built on its banks. The lake stretches at least a hundred miles from his current vantage point, before vanishing around a curve in the mountains.

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This would all be incredibly cool if he wasn't cold and hungry and frankly quite upset by now.

Does the city have any recognizable temples, or written signs in a language he knows?

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It has neither. There are two buildings that might be temples:

The larger is a stately building that might be a church, or possibly a castle, but the associated holy symbol is not one he recognizes. And peeking in through a window reveals an elaborately worked statue of a sad tortured man, which is not the most promising sign.

The other plausible-temple has a green crescent and star painted on it, and is otherwise structurally unremarkable, distinguished from the other nearby buildings only by being made with nicer materials.

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He'll stay away from the presumably-Evil temple to torture!! He'll go to the other place, and ask a few random people along the way and then also ask someone there, in what is becoming a sadly familiar ritual.

Taldane Osiriani Vudran Kelish? Taldor Absalom Osirion Cheliax Kelesh? Abadar Pharasma Nethys Sarenrae Irori? Look he can make their holy symbols with his hands! (Badly.)

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This man has no idea what he's talking about, and is highly confused about how he came to be visiting Russia without speaking the language.

But God instructs that they should give to those in need, and this young man is clearly in need.

Михаил tries to convey through gestures that Ahmose ought to come into the mosque where it is warm, and that he will make some soup for him.

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The man is inviting him inside. It is probably kindly meant; he'll accept. He's tired, less physically and more of - being alone and adrift and uncertain.

Hot soup will be very welcome, he will try to pantomime his appreciation!!

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Михаил smiles at him. The canned stuff they had on hand is not exactly the pinnacle of soups, but it's clearly just what the young man needed.

Once Ahmose has had his fill, Михаил starts trying to solicit some basic information and teach him some Russian words. He taps himself on the chest and gives his name, and then points at Ahmose and adopts a questioning mien.

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Ahmose cleans his dish and utensils with the laundry spell. He's a polite guest and it's really the least he can do in return for this man's kindness. He wonders if he's a priest after all, but he has no holy symbol that one Ahmose recognizes. Maybe he's a lay priest, and only the clerics carry symbols? The green maybe-moon crescent and star are encouraging; if he's Desnan then he might be the best person to talk to. Although what kind of northern-Avistani Desnan doesn't know Taldane?

...never mind, he'll give it a rest, this is getting nowhere. Once he makes it home, he'll try to go back and figure out where he actually was, and all the undoubtedly comical but currently mortifying misunderstandings he made on his way.

He taps himself. "Me. Ahmose." No wait that gives the wrong impression - he waves his hands, shakes his head. Tries to sign "do-over" and finds out he has no idea how to sign that. Sigh. Pause.

Taps himself. "Ahmose." And he tries to smile.

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Михаил tenses when he cleans the dish, giving him a fearful look. And then he takes a deep breath to calm himself.

He smiles, but can't quite banish the unease from his face. "Ahmose," he repeats.

He doesn't have a map to point at and ask where Ahmose came from, but he did find a pad of paper and some spare pens. He draws a fairly good outline of the continent and then fills in the border of Russia, and points at the center of the southern border where they are.

Through expansive gestures he tries to convey what different areas are called, and see if Ahmose will indicate where he's from.

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Ahmose has no idea what the coast of the Shining Ivory Sea looks like! This is... maybe Avistan? If one drew a weird-looking boundary between Avistan and Casmaron, and also between Avistan and the Crown, but Ahmose is no geographer (to put it lightly) and for all he knows this is the orthodox rendering approved by expert cartographers.

He has no idea what the north-eastern third of Avistan is called, but then he has no clear idea of anything in Casmaron north of Kelesh. There's a big lake called... Lake Casmarin? He's going to embarrass himself terribly in front of the maybe-Desnan, isn't he.

Better start with something he knows. Here's a drawing of the Inner Sea (it's very wiggly), the island of Absalom (which is actually Kortos, he's proud of himself for remembering that one), the isthmuses on either side. Here is the great river Sphinx, and Junira, and Sellen on the other side of the sea. Here are the countries bordering it: Osirion, Thuvia, Rahadoum, Cheliax, Andoran, Taldor, Kelesh. 

And separately, a drawing of the five continents and the Crown, with an arrow pointing to the Inner Sea. He tries to indicate his uncertainties with shading.

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Михаил peers at the drawings, and then looks up at Ahmose. It doesn't ... look entirely unlike Earth? If he has no sense of scale, and vertically bisected the Americas for some reason, and thought the Atlantic was full of islands.

Since Ahmose indicated that he came from somewhere near the Mediterranean, Михаил tries a little of his rusty Quranic Arabic, but not with much hope.

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No, sorry, he doesn't know that language either.

This is all so sad. There should be a universal language that everyone knows. It's probably one of those things that would benefit everyone but doesn't happen because of politics.

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Михаил sits back in his chair to think for a moment. Then he mimes getting an idea, and gestures for Ahmose to get up and follow him.

He locks the inner doors of the Mosque (although the outer doors remain unlocked in case anyone needs to shelter in the vestibule), and then leads him down the street, taking the opportunity to point out various new Russian vocabulary words as they walk.

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Ahmose isn't going to try to learn a new language; he doesn't expect to stay here long enough to need it. And he doesn't want to waste his time; the man probably wants to offer him a place to sleep, or even work. He tries to indicate polite refusal.

...what no the man is walking away thinking Ahmose will follow him!! Aaah he is so bad at not going along with expectations. Still, he'll muster his courage to tap him on the shoulder and shake his head and - how can he say thank you - he'll bow. And then he'll walk away. If the stranger doesn't make that socially awkward. Um.

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