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Jul 07, 2020 5:58 AM
eclipse phase Ekuni in Taliadu

The next area is reported to have basilisk hacks (actually only weird logos and jarring noises, for the training exercise, there is no such thing as a safe basilisk hack), so Anikyu turns off her electromagnetic and vibrational sensors and navigates it rapidly based on the maps of the area (which she previously downloaded and rigorously checked for viruses and basilisk hacks and cleaned out all extraneous data before transferring the file from her disposable ecto to her mesh inserts), at one point stumbling on a recently-erected barrier and re-configuring to slide her morph over it without entirely halting.

The tunnel after that should be clear; she runs a low-resolution scan, and... what?

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She appears to be in a medium-sized room, instead of a tunnel. 

On one side, there's a wooden-looking desk, an intricate fractal pattern carved into it, preserved and protected by an unfamiliar smooth glossy material. It has rounded corners and is spotlessly clean. There's a drawer taking up the entire width of the desk.

On the other, there is a sofa, futuristic and with smooth lines. It is comfortably large, and looks soft.

Between them, there are two platforms floating one above the other. The one on the bottom is floating almost half a metre off the ground, the one on top is half a metre from the ceiling. There is no discernible mechanism keeping them afloat.

If she looks behind her, there's also a door, styled approximately the same way as the desk, but with a different fractal and no handle. 



Did she die? But she was in a secured area, and nothing should have been close enough to one-shot her...

And... her clothes are different. She cannot tell exactly what without interfacing with them, but they feel like they are configured to be comfortable and stay out of her way.

She turns her mesh inserts to completely reject external connections as she studies the room.

After a moment she resignedly turns up her vision to normal resolution and studies it in more depth. No additional notable features on the nanoscale...

Anikyu steps over to the desk and slides open the drawer.


The drawer contains a sheaf of papers, stuck together at one side by no discernible mechanism ('no discernible mechanism' appears to be a theme here). The papers have colorful photos on them.


She leafs through the papers quickly, scanning them for any useful information.

(Paper. Paper. Why paper.)


The paper has no answers.

It's some sort of... catalogue, perhaps, with attractive pictures of a large variety of things, indexed roughly by the sort of thing it is. The largest sections are food, pretty things (jewelry in particular), books (no information given about them other than the cover, on first glance), clocks, fluffy things (clothes, pillows, blankets, plush animals), plants (flowers), small bouncy balls, and stationery supplies (large! amounts! of! fancy! markers! and! pens!).


Anikyu looks more closely at the section with books.


Each image of a book has a corner which is glittering slightly. The closer she looks, the more it glitters. When she looks away it goes back to normal. If she moves a hand towards one, it becomes an outright glow.



Anikyu puts the papers down neatly on the desk and goes to sit on the couch and draw her knees up under her chin and check and check and check her security.

Everything shows up clean. (Not that that is a guarantee.) But she shouldn't be getting UI weirdness like this with her mesh inserts rejecting all connections, not unless she is in a VR.

Not that she did not think that was likely already.

Eventually she stands and walks back over to the desk. Picks the book that looks most useful and pokes at the glowing corner of the paper.


The paper peels itself back to reveal a secret compartment that is much deeper than the thickness of the sheaf of papers should logically allow. It contains a sheet of paper, folded in half twice, once in each direction. 



That shouldn't fit...

She experimentally tries to turn the page.


The other side of the page is perfectly flat, no secret compartments here, no ma'am. So is the rest of the sheaf.


Anikyu stares at it for a long moment. Checks her security again.

Then she goes back to the page she was on and peels back the corner again.


As soon as she touches the corner, it peels itself off again, very quickly, no help required.

The compartment is still there, still oddly deep, and still contains the folded paper.


She takes out the paper and inspects and unfolds it.


On what was the inside of the page, there's a long text, an excerpt from what reads as an instructional text involving magic. There's a lot of jargon - the text appears to assume that you know what "Kaluno" is and what "aspects" are, and describes how to "Decorate". It mentions that a lot of things in the safe room "rely on aesthetic". It is interesting to read and would probably be more helpful with context, but Anikyu does not have context.


Indeed she does not, and she is becoming increasingly confused and annoyed.

She wants -- she wants to know what is going on, she wants more context, she at least wants the rest of this book it would probably make more sense with the preceding things--


She gets a sense of feedback, like she's doing something almost right but not quite so.

She gets the information that, if she wants to obtain the rest of the book, she can desire it, directedly, in this subtly different very specific way, and call out its title ("Kaluno, A Reference Guide").





Things should not be able to talk to her with her mesh inserts set to reject all connections!


She goes and sits down on the couch again for a while.


The couch is soft. It, very conveniently, swallows her if she would like to be swallowed, and remains firm if she wouldn't.

(Who's to say it's going through her mesh inserts? Who's to say it's a connection?)


(That is, however, the obvious assumption.)

She takes longer this time before she goes back to it.

But eventually she does, because she wants to know what the hell is going on (if it is not the virus, but if it is it is already too late), and it is not as though this gives away information except the inevitable about her personality.

She wants the book. And she says, somewhat wobby but clear: "Kaluno, A Reference Guide."


It appears in her lap! The loose page with the excerpt is now in the book, used as a sort of bookmark.

If she's watching the sheaf of paper slash catalogue, she'll see it changing, becoming one sheet of paper with text.



Anikyu does not notice; her muse does, though, and tells her.

She considers the book versus the paper for a moment, and then stands, holding the book, and goes to look at the new piece of paper.


It contains the following text:

Hello! Sorry for the cryptic catalogue, it just works best to get you to conjure at least one thing on your own first.

I'm sure you must be curious what's going on - I hope this will be a good explanation.


You are in a world not your own - this world is called Taliadu, and it sometimes "catches" people - teleports someone into itself and doesn't let them out until a certain condition is met. Sometimes it hijacks someone's normal teleportation mechanism, and sometimes it just snatches someone up all by itself with no warning. (In the latter case, it only happens when your field of vision is obscured for a short while, for whatever reason.)

I, for all my fancy powers, have not yet figured out how to get it to stop or check consent. I have endeavored to at least make my Maze* friendly, unlike my own experience in someone else's Maze. 

*A Maze is all the stuff outside the door of the safe room! The safe room is where you found this paper!
...More seriously, a Maze is a series of situations which you will need to figure out how to respond to to pass.
The way to figure this out is to attempt to understand and model your Puzzle Master (the person who created the Maze you are in - in your case, this is me!) based on what kind of puzzles (puzzle = one of the series of situations) they give you and what the solutions were in the past. 


To be free to exit this place (and come back), you will need to pass my Maze, and then become a Puzzle Master yourself.

A Puzzle Master is someone who has created their own Maze, according to their own sensibilities/aesthetic.

As the things above imply, I have gone through this myself.


Summary of things said so far: You are stuck here until you pass my Maze and make your own. This happened to me too. Sorry. To pass my Maze, go out the door, and psychoanalyse me and the things you find there to figure out what to do.




As a result of being in Taliadu, you get to have a magic system called Kaluno - it has five "aspects", which are sort of the five ways this magic can work. I'm just going to introduce the basics but the book called "Kaluno: A Reference Guide" has more in depth info. (You can conjure the catalogue if you need it again).

The aspect you just used is called Improv, short for Improvisation, and it can conjure, vanish, change, teleport, move in some ways, set on fire, freeze, etcetera. They are one-off concrete effects that happen if you directedly wish for them and 'indicate' this, which is usually speech but can be sign language, pointing, incoherent shout, etc. Further details in the book, (chapter 2).


The other aspects are code, drama, aesthetic, and puzzle (mostly no relation to anything else). They are more complicated.

Drama is composing a ritual-y speech/song/dance/performance and performing this while there are fancy (and sometimes useful) special effects, to get, mostly, either a temporary (durations vary but they can be quite long!) experience-oriented superpower, or to create a new magical person who can help you with magic. They may in fact decide to not, they are not forced to put up with you, they are independent and simply may choose to help. Further information in the book, (chapter 3).

Code is thoroughly specifying what you want your spell to do in a precise and algorithmic manner from base concepts, and its base concepts are a little odd if you have not used a computer before, but if you have, equate this to programming, and with things like 'heat' and 'area' being easy to code. Further information in the book, (chapter 4).

Aesthetic is magic that is personalitied. You don't control what powers you get from it, but you are guaranteed to get something you like. It tailors to the person who made it and/or the person who uses/benefits from it. It's hard to explain but basically it is the magic of convenience and being very pleasing to you. It also does things that (in my world) computers normally are not very good at and humans are - art and music and stuff. Information about how to do it and other things in the book, (chapter 5).

Puzzle, the aspect, does more permanent superpowers, and body things, and you don't control what powers you get but you can 'prod' (change bit by bit) the powers you do get into something you like. Information about how to do it and other things in the book, (chapter 6).


Summary: You got magic! It is complicated but very useful.



Also, I realised that the refresher may be confusing. (The refresher is the two floaty platforms.) If you climb on it in between the platforms, or put some object there, it'll clean and fix and heal and energise and take care of bodily needs and freshen up and recharge and so on.

I hope this was useful to you.


Oh. An explanation. Finally.

She reads it several times, skeptically, and then takes it and sits back down on the couch with it and the book, the latter of which she opens, looking for a table of contents.


It has one! The chapters are named very straightforwardly and do indeed contain further explanation and information about how to do magic things! It makes sense now!

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