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Anywhere and Else *Me (Thestarjar) and That Guy*

thestarjar

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Theida glanced at Hother's bag, wary of Bristlecone's intention. "Uh, I guess... But I'm pretty sure we need them. Because, y'know, we're still intending to travel," she said, reversing the step she'd taken forwards.
 

That Guy

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"I guessed as much." Bristlecone seemed unmoved. "Still, I'm sure more than a few of us here would be willing to make some type of trade. Our local ingredients for...what I can only assume are yours. At your leisure, of course."
He took a step back to check something around the base of the cauldron's arrangement, then returned to it, undeterred.
 

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Theida looked at Hother. "Well, it's technically your stuff, so..." Then she looked back at the cauldron, finally daring to casually ask, "So... what is that?"
 

That Guy

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"It's medicine for one of our elders. Palex Liatris has caught some new sickness we've never seen before, so..." He gestured at the cauldron. "We've had to prepare a potion we've never made before. It should work just fine, though."
 

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What a weirdly long name. And how was this stew going to do anything for a sick person? She looked hard at the cauldron's walls and at the ground below it, but there were no runes, and it had escaped her mind that any other form of magic existed. Without thinking about it too much, she asked, "So you're going to enchant it when you're done making it, then?"
 

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Hother also found himself sniffing at the contents of the cauldron, getting as close to it as he dared. Bristlecone seemed amused at their collective inquisition.
"...It's a potion." He stated this as if it were the overlooked obvious answer to their collective puzzlement. "It is the enchantment."
"But it's soup!" Hother's ears twitched at odd angles. "When does the magic happen?"
The scaled creature offered a patient smile.
"You really did come from far away, didn't you." He didn't need to intone that remark. "With the right knowledge and intent, the ingredients make the magic all by themselves."
 

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"If I may ask," Spindle finally spoke up, "How exactly would you enchant it after it's been completed?"
"Well, we don't have magic plants where I come from," Theida said, perhaps misunderstanding Bristlecone's explanation, "And I'm not a cook, but I think we'd put the food into something with runes on or under it." She paused, remembering that Hother hadn't even known what runes were when she'd explained to him. "And runes are circles with symbols that you draw based on what you want it to do."
 

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"Or," Hother offered, his tail twitching with cautious optimism, "where I come from, we have wands to channel our magic. You know, with gestures, and...stuff."
He trailed off, it quickly becoming apparent to him that any enthusiasm for his explanation would be completely lost on his audience.
"Different approaches to magic..?" Bristlecone seemed genuinely intrigued. "We might have to make records of this."
 

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"Records?" All the word brought to mind for Theida were faded runes around the mountain- 'records' of ancient spells that barely anyone could interpret the meaning of anymore. "Why? Can't you just remember?"
 

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"Then how would other people find out?" He smiled inwardly, then started stirring the other way. "And what if we forget? Knowledge is power, and it should be treated with the proper respect."
 

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Power didn't require knowledge, Theida was sure of that, but of course someone that big would think himself smart all the same, with nobody to tell him otherwise. Theida knew better than to directly pick a fight with someone that big, though, so she only replied, "Yeah... sure. I don't know a lot of the interesting stuff, though." She thought for another moment. "Wait, other people? You guys know about other... town... places?"
 

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Bristlecone cast a wayward glance toward Spindle, then back to his work, still wearing that off-smile.
"It might save you a few questions if you just see for yourself."
 

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Spindle hesitated for a moment, then nodded and gestured to the two outsiders. "Ah, this way!" He led them into a small building. Inside it was a pedestal with a large book resting on top of it, a long feather lying neatly to the side. The pedestal looked to be at a comfortable height for a creature of Bristlecone's size to read the book, and beside it was a tall block which presumably would act as a stool for the smaller ones like Spindle. Spindle wasn't standing on it, though, instead standing to the side to invite Hother and Theida to look at the book themselves.
 

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Hother took a moment to observe the set-up, his tail wagging idly from side to side, wary, but curious. With some hesitation, he paced forwards, first to inspect the pedestal more closely, not entirely sure what he expected to find. There was nothing untoward about it; it was just...tall.
"So, uh..." Something resonated in his mind, urging him to believe that it would just seem inappropriate to get up and look at the book without some sort of acknowledgement of the privilege of being there. He rummaged around his mind for a suitable nugget of small-talk to put his concerns to rest. "How long has this been here?"
 

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"Oh, longer than anyone really remembers!" Spindle replied. "People didn't start putting dates on the entries for a while, but the book goes back many generations.A timeless well of knowledge..." He sounded like he could go on, but instead he looked up at them, then at the closed book. "...You can open the book! It'd be meaningless if it wasn't to be shared."
 

That Guy

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"Oh, uh...Right."

Hother took a not-quite-reluctant step towards the pedestal, then mounted the block, and reached for the book, opening it to whatever page happened to find itself between the digits of his right forepaw. He contemplated the page, and as he did, he began to sprout a half-empty half-smile.
"It's...I guess I should have expected this. The way this book is written, it's different from what I'm used to." He traced along one line, not quite daring to touch the page completely, to find an example. "Like...I don't recognise some of these letters, and some of the grammar is...Well, I guess it's not wrong to you. But most of it makes sense, I think."
 

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"Hmm," Spindle mused on that for a few moments. "Well, I'm sure we'd find your way of writing just as interesting," he said, seeming almost excited at just the thought.

Theida had by now jumped up onto the block by the pedestal. She watched Hother open the book and stared hard at the page. Her eyes skimmed around the sides, looking for the starting point of a rune- but there wasn't a rune at all. There were neat rows of simple symbols covering nearly the whole page, only a few of which were recognizable (fewer still had any meaning out of context). The one thing that stood out was an illustration of a leaf on the right side of the page, but it was far too detailed to be a normal rune symbol.

Theida was starting to get a headache from trying to figure this page out. There were no circles, no lines to tell the reader where to go next. Just these meaningless parallel rows.

Finally, she looked at Hother. He clearly knew how to read this nonsense. Trying to sound casual, she turned back towards the page and asked, "What's it say?"
 
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That Guy

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"I...don't entirely know." He scanned over the pages again, stopping at a few words and looking at them a little more closely. "Some of these words are strange. That is, I recognise them, but I don't know what they mean, especially in this context."
He inclined his head, apparently scanning one particular line several times over, then looked to Spindle.
"Uh...Am I reading this right? It says something about setting fire to this kind of leaf, and breathing the smoke, and that...does a thing? Or, uh..." He checked the book again. "...A bunch of things. Bad things? I can't tell."
 

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"Is there a case where breathing in smoke doesn't do bad things?" Theida asked, sounding unimpressed.
"Not that we know of!" Spindle said. "But that stuff, specifically... Well, essentially, burning those leaves released smoke that had... uh, very odd effects, which could include euphoria, short-term memory loss, hallucinations, and lowered coordination. It was addictive to many, and almost the entire village was affected by it at one point, but the coordination issue was causing real problems with potion-making. So there was a mass intervention about it, and now there's an informal ban on using those leaves in anything without good reason."
 

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"Oh..?" Hother traced a block of lines with one paw again. "...Oh! That must be what this paragraph is about, here. Then I'm guessing some of the words in here are...how do I describe it..? The names you use for yourselves-- not, like, names-names, but...like, the word for what you are. I was starting to wonder about that, anyway, and now seems like a fair time to ask."
 
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