Mahou-Shoujo

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Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
Lumina too had become aware that it's host lacked certain survival instincts and fears that most people, humanoid or otherwise would generally have, something especially odd considering what it had seen of it's host's kin so far, it was also sure it wasn't responsible for this, after all, Lumina's priority was keeping the host alive, and making them more willing to walk into dangerous situations did not help that goal in any way... Even if the consumption of magic that such scenarios usually seemed to lead to DID benefit them both quite substantially.
"I... Will be your survival instincts".
Lumina declared, wanting to calm the host by assuring it would take over missing functions such as that, of course unlike most instincts Lumina was a lot easier to ignore, despite it's best efforts controlling the host's body was frustratingly out of reach, so forcing them away from danger was limited to mental pleading.

"Very well, I will see you any time tomorrow, I should have the weapons forged nice and early, so simply come by whenever you have the time".
Presumably he assumed Ratty was very busy with whatever it was that heroic rodents did in their spare time when not saving entire civilisations (albeit admittedly rather small civilisations going by the memories of the other world and knowledge of this new one).
The fact that they could forge both weapons in a day also sounded different to the memories of the other world, perhaps being able to gain as much experience as a master smith without the drawbacks of age were at play.

Fortunately finding a likely shop didn't take long, there was a building similar to the blacksmith in shape, though rather than a forge it's outside area had lots of different tables and tools, and a woman was currently using some of those tools on a long sheet of hide, upon getting closer a rather unpleasant smell would become apparent as well, wafting out a window that sat almost touching the dirt around the building.
 

Fyrra

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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
Reminded that it now shared a body with Lumina, the ratling flicked its tail aside and acknowledged that it had been acting recklessly over the past few days, but it couldn't think of any more careful maneuvers it could have used to avoid the dangers it walked into in the ruins, apart from maybe not placing the most dangerous entity in the room between itself and the only exit on more than one occasion, but in the end it worked out both times, the first because Lizzy was able to find them in time and their combined efforts made use of the long fall, and the second because spreading around the bone golem kept it occupied with turning and divided its attention enough to be a detriment.

Perhaps, all the creature needed was to be more mindful of potential escape routes? If Lumina wanted to help with that, that couldn't be too taxing on them, could it? It was just a little more complicated, thinking of these things in terms of a group of rats or people. To that end, orchestrating a retreat would be a matter of creating one's own diversion to make a threat hesitate, and the easiest way to do that was to act scary. Frightening, even. Or maybe sling that sleep-spell around like a rope or a chain. Really, Lumina was already hard at work developing more tools for survival in dangerous situations. It would be difficult not to be happy about how much progress was being made on that front. But, those tools were wasted effort if the ratling didn't make use of them and just focused on hurling stones. Perhaps it just needed to be more creative?

Truly, this was all just a big leap in things to adjust to, and the creature couldn't have done it without Lumina's help. Having friends felt nice, even if the ones this creature was assembling were turning out to be the oddballs in their own cultures. Being able to relate on that aspect alone must count for a lot.

On an approach to the likely shop, the ratling raised a palm up to cover its snout and winced. That stench was too familiar: seared flesh. Were it not informed of the community's lack of agricultural development, it would have expected material from some sort of woven crop or fiber from people as hesitant to harm wildlife as these were. The rat glanced over to Lizzy before making its approach to the tables, looking over anything that might be on display.
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
Writing Levels
  1. Intermediate
  2. Adept
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Female
  2. Transgender
Genres
Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
The rat's retrospection on how it had survived and beaten the golems caused Lumina to make some new calculations as well... So far it's host had relied on others to survive, while Lumina of course was a huge asset, it could not actively assist outside of Ratty's body... So it had only one conclusion to make.
"More allies are needed, more allies lead to higher rates of survival, I suggest acquiring more lizards".
The voice was robotic again, but very clear with no halting, perhaps Lumina was trying to strike a balance between speaking quickly and in a more organic manner? It also seemed obvious that by 'lizards' Lumina meant Lizzy, and more broadly, strong, loyal allies in General, the elf siblings were strong but their loyalty was to their home first while Lizzy... Didn't really seem to have anything else in life other than following around her new boss.

It seemed that the leatherworks was somewhat well stocked, not as much as some of the shops in the other town they had been to, but a decent array of practical things, mostly bags, quivers, sheathes, a few belts, there was quite a variety in colour and texture as well, suggesting that there was no one source of hides for these things, unlike in the majority human settlement that had most of it's leather goods seemingly made from the same kind of hide.
"Oh? The hero huh? Sorry for the stench, some of the hides the scouts bring back need some extra strength tanning solutions... I don't mind though, doesn't hit me as hard as most".
A woman's voice called out as it's owner exited the workshop, wiping her hands on an stained apron.
She seemed notably different from the other Syol, for one thing she was shorter, and her ears seemed a slightly different shape, there was also small signs of greying around her hair, which had only been present on the oldest of Syol.
"If there's something here that you need just let me know, if not I can make more, a scout brought down a pretty big diseased wolf and I've been processing the hide for the last couple days, seems like there's a lot more cases like that, they don't show it too well but I know it's got the scouts all shook up".
Her speech was different too, lacked some of the finesse and uncanny valley effect that seemed to cling to other Syol.
 

Fyrra

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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
More allies. More lizards. One could misinterpret Lumina's meaning behind the suggestion, but it did point out to the ratling that it wasn't entirely keeping its companion in the loop regarding that plan. So, it started painting a little mental diagram: trees represented the forest itself, and small representations of syol or uhar together represented villages. There were a few of them to represent the periphery, and a few more nests of ratlings and lizzies to add into the mix, each linked by a road or a friend, or something. The point was, they all stood together and helped one another with their problems. Surely, it could have been a thought influenced by one of the elders, as Ms. Pellinta must have had something like this in mind for the long term (and might benefit most from it, if she considered rats the most threatening force in the forest), but it seemed like a nice enough goal to work toward. Besides, if allies are secured by the nests, then the matter of conflicting loyalties could only be a minor concern.

Assuming the other villages appreciated the sudden relevance of rats as much as this one did, in any case.

It was a fun little picture to dream up while fingering over the items on display, because for the life of it, the ratling could find no use for a belt on its robe. Perhaps with other clothes... but then again, carrying a sickle around might mean needing to hook the blade onto something to keep it withing reach. The creature almost missed the owner calling out to it, once again lost in conversation with Lumina.

"So this is a tannery," the ratling observed when greeted by the shopkeeper. When it finally looked up to make eye contact with her, the familiarity of her features were not readily apparent. "No need to apologize. A smell is but a smell, and this seems... necessary." The story and explanation that followed quickly captured the ratling's attention, to the point where it almost lost interest in the merchandise on display. Diseased animals in the forest made for a top-priority concern, and just like the scouts mentioned, the young guest's face wore a worried expression... for a moment, anyway.

The creature had never met a wolf in these lands, so to hear the word for it aloud got it scouring its memories again, until a certain dream came to mind. Two of them, even! The first batch of memories contained the faces and expressions of various breeds of domesticated dogs, and how to interpret their body language, from ear positions to tail movements. Evidently in its previous life the rat had spent a lot of time learning the language of these creatures, though the pool of knowledge was a little less helpful in interpreting the behaviors of wolves. All the ratling had to go on with them was that, instead of barking, they sing in the night, and that it was probably rude to join in their song. And captivity stresses them out? What an odd thing to specify, the ratling mused, captivity would stress anyone out.

The other memory was just a reminder of the festival dream, where the ratling wore its mustelid mask and danced with the bipedal wolf. Her. The one whose warmth radiated from within and resonated within others. Combing over the memory got the rat's ears flickering, and after a moment it turned to face Lizzy with a smile.

"Wolves are here." News that would terrify some people almost made this one look wistful, flush with feelings only reserved for biting into a big, juicy steak. "Wolves are here, and they might need our help." The child's tone dropped back to the deadpan that accompanied serious subjects. It turned to face the shopkeeper once more. "Umm, right. Do you have any bags... not made from wolf?" If there was something the ratling didn't want to chance, it was offending other beasts by carrying the treated hide of one of their fallen.

"But, perhaps we should find a weaver or a seamstress."
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
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  3. 1-3 posts per week
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  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Female
  2. Transgender
Genres
Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
Lumina quietly observed the diagram as it formed, marvelling at the ambitions of it's host that had been but a simple ratling not long ago, of course Ratty had benefited from Lumina's aid and was seemingly reincarnated, but even so neither of those guaranteed that they'd want to do anything more than basic survival.
"This is... Ambitious, I believe it will be for the best as well, it will make survival much more certain".
Having what would basically amount to almost a united nation backing Ratty up would certainly increase survival... And also Lumina had to admit to itself that it was kind of invested as well, the only people it had clear memories of were the people of this forest, and though it lacked the directive to protect them... It was perhaps a little interested in them growing stronger.

"Yeah, the elder said something similar when I first arrived... They'd just been burying or burning the hides of animals they had to kill, it didn't sit right with the whole not wasting any part of a life thing... So they let me set up this tannery, they always need new leather goods so it's a nice living, and anything other people here don't buy I trade for things we can't make from the other settlements".
The woman explained, it seemed she was probably not born here among the Syol, and the comment about having to kill animals suggested that hunting was not a normal activity, but rather a duty in some cases, perhaps they had been culling diseased creatures to stop the spread of whatever was ailing them?

The shopkeeper seemed bemused at Ratty's response to the knowledge that there were deadly canine hunters roaming the forest.
"You talk exactly like the scouts about things like that I swear... You'd probably get right along with them, they're not all as quiet as that one you went heroing with either".
She commented before nodding again.
"Of course, many creatures of the forest end up dead one way or another and I usually get their hides, scouts brought down a goliath stalker that was terrorising another settlement deeper in and I managed to get it's hide for some new boots, the leather is tough and inflexible, good for bags... If you want to go see the seamstress she's just across the way, we do a lot of work together anyway".
 

Fyrra

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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
Truth be told, the big impressive diagram was so far beyond the ratling's own scope that calling the project ambitious and not impossible gave it a momentary pause. Something in its memories seemed to suggest that it was impossible, or at the very least dangerous... but that was just the danger of visibility. Zooming out a little bit in the mental diagram, the communities portrayed in the forest gave way to the trees, and in the hypothetical map, surrounding the forest were a few crowns and funny-looking hats. Ornamental headwear, for some reason or another, either made the ratling uncomfortable or awakened a quiet hatred that lurked deep in the recesses of its forbidden knowledge, but at least pulling small tidbits of knowledge from that side of things was starting to have signs of topics that shouldn't be delved into too deeply.

From what the ratling could guess between context of that history lesson with Pellinta and those thoughts, The Brotherhood of Funny Hats was a dangerous and persistent entity, far beyond the abilities of a single person to bring down regardless of power, and able to destroy worlds if left unchallenged, and willing to massacre entire cultures on a whim. To survive against that was simply not a goal the rat could reach for personally: it took Pellinta's entire life span just to escape from one of them and build a thriving community away from their prying eyes, and from what the laborers among the Syol had to say about life-spans, that was nothing to take lightly. yet if there were several generations of rats, forcing a descendant or an apprentice to continue the fight against impossible odds would be a bad choice, but since that was a long, long time from this moment, it could be worried about some other day, or forgotten entirely: The Arraness certainly wasn't being asked how they felt about their efforts being built upon.

Zooming in on the mental diagram, particularly to one of the rat representations, revealed the part that the ratling was having trouble with: replicating the uhar elder's ritual to bring the rest of the nest up to the standards of the surrounding communities, then improving on all of them. It was but a single rat, and a relative child at that, but it was already finding conflicting information between instincts inherited from its past life and observable reality in this one: averting a crisis was possible with a very small active party, support from influential people, and a concentration of power. If that was how this world worked, then it would stand to reason that future adversaries, the kind that posed any real threat that couldn't be outwitted, had already figured this much out. Perhaps that was why the syol had a word to describe the job of 'heroing'? Or, perhaps that was just a description of the action itself?

In any case, the depth of this project probably had a hand in why the little one didn't want to keep talking about serious things like The Future with other, more important people, even if serious things like a wolf disease were still on the table for discussion because Wolves, or that it was comparatively simple, or a very brief introduction to the subject of inter-village trading.

"We live in a similar state of mind," the ratling had to say of its similarities to a scout, a sigh escaping its mouth, "though I would love it if I never had to go heroing again. Commanding people in the face of a giant, frightened, angry automaton is harrowing. Could never dream of an unseen force of terror removing everyone from their nests on a whim though. Hoping everyone's okay, but we never really discussed recovery efforts.."

Suddenly it cleared its throat. "Forgive me, I am being rude. This... stalker leather should make a good bag. We have things we need to shelter from rain and mud, do we not?" Cue a glance toward Lizzy, then back to the shopkeeper, a little bit of a smile forming up. "What would be a good trade for that?"
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  3. 1-3 posts per week
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Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
Lumina had something it could report on that! It had obviously been analysing the ritual that had changed it's host so much, it wasn't completely different from what it had been slowly doing in fact, just a lot more sudden, the biggest issue was working out the stability that stopped such sudden changes from resulting in a chain of horrific mutations.
"I have begun to understand the ritual... It can be recreated with time, though... Will need much power, and some way to focus, perhaps that is the purpose of the ritual?"
It was probably good that Lumina was on top of things already, the sentient pearl actually seemed to enjoy breaking down and reverse engineering spells judging from the slight almost happy tone shift in it's internal voice.
"I have also... Finished the sleep spell, it has not been tested".

"Aye that's a fair request, I don't think I could have fought a thing like that, besides you've done more than enough heroing, for what it's worth I wish you a peaceful life, least you deserve for your role in saving everyone like that".
She shook her head at the apology.
"No need, most of the folk around here can't stand the smells long enough for a conversation, so if anything I appreciate it, and it's true the stalkers are pretty terrifying, something that big shouldn't be allowed to be so quiet".
Big and sneaky did generally seem like something that shouldn't go together, hopefully Ratty wouldn't need to encounter any of them.

"A fair trade huh? To be honest I do a lot of my trades for good the villages can't make, those folks in the Periphery have a tendency to find a lot of things they have no idea what to do with or have too much of that we need... I guess I do some exchanges for coin so... I'll take a small gold coin as a flat price, keeping in mind this will be custom made and the leather is apparently considered 'rare' by folks outside of the forest, I can promise it won't break to anything less than a truly well forged blade either".
Glancing at Lizzy would involve a moment of thought before she nodded, it was on the more expensive side of bags, and it was their last gold coin... But she remembered reading some things about the magical properties of certain hides...
 

Fyrra

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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
No reason to believe the problem won't sort itself out if we maintain course then, but it might mean rushing headlong into danger. By the by, grasping something of that magnitude is amazing.

The ratling exchanged glances with its companion again, unsure if using the last of their funds on a single bag was the best decision, but to say that it would be embarrassing if Lizzy's strange textile object were damaged by rainwater would be an understatement after all the effort they put into acquiring it in the first place. As for the creature itself, it didn't mind using scavenged parts: all it really needed to carry were its weapons and any food or water it didn't want to scavenge for, and while rain might be a danger to iron, there was always the chance that the syol had their own countermeasures against that sort of thing. Or, perhaps that was the purpose of maintaining their creations.

In any case, the ratling nodded back to the others in the room.

"A comforting thought. Peace is unlikely, but a nice sentiment. We are having arms forged in... anticipation." Though to be fair, it could be more cost-effective to go back to the ruins and pick some weapons out, but given their age, the ratling didn't want to risk their decay leading to a malfunction. "I guess I can relate. Something small like me should not be strong, yes?"

The mention of other periphery communities trading goods for other goods caught the child's attention, and it quickly pulled itself from prodding at the other random bits of merchandise on display to give the tanner a direct look. "Oh! We should know about this for when we establish trade. It wouldn't do to focus our nest on creating things the rest of us in the forest have a surplus of. Are you familiar enough with the other villages to know what they tend to trade in?"

Naturally, mingling with the locals led to plans to mingle the nest with this village at some point in the future.

"Hm... well, the bag is for my friend. She carries the important stuff. Most of it." Cue a glance down to the golem core in the ratling's hands. Outside of Enial this might be a dangerous thing to have out in the open, but here it was getting sunlight and seeing the world.
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  3. 1-3 posts per week
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Genres
Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
Though it was the last of their small yellow coins, they still had some of the larger shiny white ones, though it wasn't like having no money was a permanent situation, just as they were buying things there were surely going to be things that the various villages would want to buy as well.
Lumina specifically seemed to have ideas.
"The ruins... Humans find them interesting, perhaps... Some things could be sold to both acquire funds and stave off their curiosity?"
Perhaps if the humans had a bunch of junk from the ruins they might stop sending people to loot them for a while? Since they would already have lots of things to eat, since that was presumably what they did with all the magical rocks and shiny things they stole, after all that was clearly how one would harvest the power of them.

"Hmm... You wanna know about trade and the like? Well normally that kinda info costs money but tell ya what, if you happen to come upon any random hides let me know and I'll consider this an investment".
She seemed to enjoy her craft, and seeking more resources to continue working was probably something difficult since she currently relied on animals dying from disease, age or other niche reasons like mercy or defence.
"There isn't a whole lot of complex goods made in this area, we are mostly set on things like tools, weapons, clothes and simple foods, one of the periphery villages also does a good trade on rough textiles, mostly linen clothes and flax ropes, and one of the uhar villages makes candle wax, but that's about it, there used to be a glass blower but he moved off to one of the big cities for a bigger customer base".
It seems this area wasn't at all industrialised, there were plenty of gaps for a possible trade.

"Oh? She's a mage right? Yeah I guess it makes sense to keep valuables with those types, they're less likely to be a position where something can be damaged in a fight, right then miss, if you wouldn't mind I'll do a quick bit of measuring to make sure the bag sits comfortable and then I can accept payment and get to work".
Lizzy seemed okay with that and nodded her consent, causing the leatherworker to quickly grab some marked pieces of string and do her measurements.
"Much easier to measure than the scouts... I swear they always puff out their chests and arch their backs... Then complain when their quivers and bags don't sit right".
 

Fyrra

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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
Would that not entice them further? To know there are things they desire could only whet their appetite, no?

Lumina's plan gave the ratling further cause to ruminate. Selling things to the predominantly human settlements still didn't sit right with it, but it could be the easiest way to bring in a decent amount of funding for their expeditions. The easiest way, apart from finding somebody to work for, in any case. That even the sharing of knowledge had a financial cost attached to it was even more annoying: if even the syol had fallen victim to this practice, it was no surprise they might be unable to devote effort to a proper solution to the... Shroud? Okay, no, that might be something that no amount of planning and effort could have fixed without assistance.

"Hides, huh? We cannot promise you a clean kill. Most likely cut, singed, or scorched." It might also not be nice to say something like this out loud in the middle of a syol town, but the rodent could at least admit it wasn't as adept at avoiding threats entirely as Daoin or Hin were. Evasion and harrying, certainly, but not avoiding. Add to that the larger body mass, and an apparent lack of patience, and one could predict there would be bodies to recover in the ratling's future without too much trouble. "Or, perhaps an impact.. At the very least, this spares us a chore on our tour of the periphery. If they're all like the last one we visited, that in itself is worth a handful of.... medicine?" It trailed off, unsure why it would focus on that as a trade good. Potential headache? "Or some hides, anyway."

In the end, that most of the day-to-day goods a community might need were already taken care of made things simple enough for when the nest was ready. All they had to do was find a few specialized goods to produce, and focus on improving what was already present, starting with agriculture and working around the different professions.

The complaint sparked an idea.

"You do a lot of business with the scouts. Are they the only ones who do that?" The ratling looked over toward another building, then back to the tanner. "I doubt I could do what you do. I'm too familiar with human anatomy: the similarities between one of them and the people here are enough that the difference in shape on its own would throw me off. Then there's the difference in distribution of weight, and the way they dance through the trees. It's surprising they don't get tangled up in bramble."
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  3. 1-3 posts per week
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Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
"They are coming either way... This would allow us to prepare more... While possibly satisfying some of them at least for a time".
It seemed that the plan wasn't intended as a permanent solution, but rather a way to acquire time and resources, both of which would be sorely needed if Ratty intended to defend the ruins against the humans who came to loot them of everything they could pry out, coins especially seemed to be crucial in this world, and could likely buy just about anything in enough volume, such as the many things the other rats would eventually need to catch up to other societies.

"Trust me, I'm far more used to messy hides than clean, when the scouts are forced to kill an animal either they're focused more on safely dispatching it than getting a clean hide, or it's so sickly that the hide isn't very good anyway, not that I'm complaining, I'd much rather they come back safe and unhurt than with slightly better materials".
It seemed that damage to any potential hides wouldn't deter this woman much if at all.
"Medicine?"
The woman seemed to pick up on that specifically.
"We haven't really had anything in the way of consistent medicine production in these parts since the old alchemist up in Halan's Rest passed away, sure the elders know how to do and make a lot of things and a few people can do home remedies... But no one who can sit down all day and focus on making things, at least not to the scale you see in cities".
More research was going to be needed into what differences there were between medicine and herbalism... And into what Alchemy was exactly.

"Not just them... Seems like something about a lot of men, trying to seem stronger and bigger than they are, I can guess enough to make sure they don't get tangled up at least, but it definitely affects their movement and comfort".
 

Fyrra

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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
So does that make this an exercise in threat mitigation, or victim mitigation? Yes? It's extra work, but I suppose it is necessary.

The rodent's ears twitched as it glanced around, giving off the impression that it wasn't entirely focused on the conversation at hand. It was all about killing, and blood, and the handling of theoretical corpses, and for someone whose claim to fame was slaying stuff a normal seasoned warrior would have trouble with, this little ratling had little stomach for the realities of just what all that entailed. It was different when it was a pressure-release mechanism thrusting the pointy, drugged, sharpened stick into a ribcage, or when the body was all bramble and bone and decay. Or, perhaps it was different still in the heat of the moment when hesitation was the difference in another's chances at survival. These were other living, breathing animals and people being discussed.

Small wonder the other syol did not frequent this establishment.

"My people are gatherers. Once the new nest is... adequate? Production should be simple enough. Oh, but the glassblower-" The ratling trailed off, shaking its head. "-would need a proper workshop, too. Looks like we've got our work cut out for us."

Truth be told, medicine might be a little too ambitious to start with as a means of establishing economical relevance, but with the nest as close to Tarkhal Enial as it was, and with the region apparently lacking the resource, it was as good a place to start as any, except, unless Lumina had any practical knowledge on the subject, everything the duo had to work with was hypothetical at worst, and theoretical at best. But even with the theorems in place, that was all the hard work done, unless humans and elves were just too biologically different, anyway. But if rats and humans had enough in common to produce similar results...-

Well, that all could be tested some other time.

"So that's an agricultural revolution and a medical renaissance in near-future plans... assuming the ritual does not end us, and we survive a more organized effort from our mysterious detrimental factor." Cue a grin, and shortly after that, a giggle. "Well, if it comes down to that, anyway. The elder says she's got this." And then there was the diplomatic mission to establish ties with some hungry, nomadic friends, and finding new nests and more rats to populate those with, and anything the elder rats deemed important. For whatever measure of 'unemployed vagrant' the ratling was, it certainly knew how to keep busy better than it knew how to hold onto money.

"It's too bad medicine isn't going to fix your scouting friends' problems before they damage their spines from all this unnecessary bending, preening and posturing. It almost sounds like they're trying too hard... to be... uncomfortable." The ratling blinked, glancing back at the tanner. "Or are they trying too hard because they're uncomfortable already? It makes even less sense to appear threatening when you don't want something big charging directly at you, unless you're trying to do the fear shroud thing."

And then it clicked into place, and the rat's eyes widened a bit before it started pacing back and forth, forgetting that it had meant to tell Lizzy something akin to last chance to back out, not that she'd not made it very apparent that she was here to stay.

"Oh, perhaps it would, though. I thought your culture had accepted that, but I suppose we've had but a few days to get acquainted. If medicine itself is in short supply, then that wouldn't be a priority for local research. There could be a mountain of things we're taking for granted that everyone knows, like the importance of bathing every few days, or cleansing one's hands before eating." The pacing grew a little more intense, and the light musing / ranting continued for a few minutes longer.

"Errm, right, those clients of yours. Their problem. Do they not have somebody they can talk to? Because it sounds like therapists are in short supply too."
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

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Lumina seemed to need a moment to think about the answer before replying, it was true that protecting it's host was Lumina's top priority, but it had decided that included mental health, and endless battles and killing could not be good for such things, even if they acquired enough power to defeat any challenger without danger.
"Both... Reducing those who would loot the ruins protects both you and others, including the native inhabitants".
Admittedly that was sort of an afterthought for Lumina, but it was true, the Syol and Uhar had nearly lost their homes due to what seemed to be the meddling of mages looting the ruins and setting off the shroud and that angry walking beast of bone and plant, so keeping those kinds of people away would benefit a lot more than just Ratty.

"I can tell you now... If you got some glass production going, it would be worth the setup costs, right now the only option for anything like that is a several day long trip along the river and then back again, I remember I used to get some medicine in glass bottles too so maybe that's something to think about, they all use fired clay here though".
The tanner seemed to know a fair bit about how the economy worked, judging from some of the things she said it might be safe to assume she was a more recent arrival in the forest.

"I believe Rodents are similar enough to humans for medicines to share many effects... I do not know if such similarities are shared with other races however.
Lumina declared suddenly, it had not actually known this before it's time delving into the memories from the other world, it seemed strange to the stone but clearly the world it's host originated from was more advanced than this current one... So they would be the ones to know.
"I also know the uses of many plants, though not where they may be found".
Well, at least if it's host tried to eat something poisonous it could give a warning.

The leatherworker watched Ratty's actions in silence, not seeming to know what was going on in their mind.
"The WHAT?... No... You said it as one word..."
She suddenly declared, momentarily shocked.
"Is that... Something among animals?... It sounds sort of like a job title but it's not one I have heard of".
Well, that answered the question on therapists at least.
 

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"Production... Set-up... Need sand." Sand for glass? The ratling had never seen either of those things outside of that strange realm it wandered through in its sleep, and even then it wasn't sure where to find it. Surely there was a way to turn rocks into enough microscopic segments that it could be replicated into sand, but that sounded inefficient and a bit counterproductive when there were already so many uses for rocks. Apparently there were other amazing things made from sand too, but the actual methods escaped the creature, who went right back to its pacing until the tanner exclaimed shock at one of the mutterings, again in a manner that confused the rat. What about that word would make someone jump?

Oh. That. The funny not-funny word. - Apparently that was all the ratling still knew of that subject in spite of all the prodding into its darker memories it'd been doing.

"I think the proper word in this case would be psychiatrist or psychologist, but I know not the specifics of those titles or the differences between them, so umm, therapy. It's sort of like, a person you talk to about all the bad stuff that happens in your life, and helps you move past it, or recover from it, and there is physical therapy to help someone recover from injuries. We don't-" The ratling paused, scratching at its head. "-Well, I cannot speak for all animals. Most of us just are only worried about the basics: food, nest, warmth. There hasn't been enough time in the day to consider much else, but then again, the elders don't typically need my help with making decisions, and usually it doesn't matter who takes care of what, so by the time I hear about something that needs addressing, it's usually condensed to-"

Suddenly, the ratling realized it was being asked why it knew about this.

"Oh! You're asking why- no, I think it's a thing... people... do? I must have heard of it from somewhere. Memory's a little fuzzy on the specifics. I guess people here have magic? I don't know magic like I know how a human body functions, but I have friends teaching me. Maybe the people here have their own way of doing things?"

As for that whole thing about the elder rats, one could probably see how it wasn't untrue, but the ratling didn't expect too many people not to think something to the effect of the dismissal it experienced at that other village with the angry clothspinner. In truth, it was kind of expecting everyone to be busy enough renovating the new nest that it could slip in and out without receiving any new tasks from the elders: find a new nest was a perfectly suitable task to focus on, even if it wasn't for them specifically, though the current one could probably use a little help with the cleanup if the ratling was going to go on another journey, or several.

There were several unexplored chasms and blocked passages, after all. All it needed was a pickaxe, or a-

"Oh. Forgot to go get a shovel. Need that too... Maybe later. Too many tools needed, not enough hands."
 
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Unfortunately Lumina did not know anything about the production of glass, wherever it's somewhat impressive knowledge of many things came from, it did not include such industrial methods or sciences unfortunately, it seemed making glass would require experimentation or perhaps finding a teacher, perhaps even simply finding someone who might be willing to move out to live with some rodents in a forest and make glass? Surely there was someone strange enough to want that?
It DID however know of possible sources of sand, and flashed an image of a coastal area to let Ratty know it had a vague idea of where sand could be found if required.

The new words continued to elicit only confusion from the woman, it seemed like perhaps mental health was not a field of study or care in this world... Though there was also the potential of it simply having a different name, it was a completely different world and culture after all.
As Ratty explained further they seemed to come to a conclusion about what they might mean.
"Oh... You mean... Mind mages? I don't know much about them personally but I saw one once and something just seemed... Off about them".
Mind mages... Hopefully that wasn't as bad as it sounded like it could be.

"I see... Your society is more advanced than I would have thought, uhh, that's not like, insulting is it? I just never thought there was a group of umm, people, who were so different and somehow knowledgeable in the region".
She didn't seem to catch on to Ratty being a reincarnation, and was just assuming that in such a large region it was possible for such things, she was fairly new to the area of course.

"A shovel? You doing some digging for something? Be careful if you do, a surprisingly amount of old tunnels run through this forest, wouldn't want you to dig too deep and fall in, I figure you're pretty tough but anyone can break a leg if they fall far enough, and there's always the chance of finding something... Unpleasant, lots of people have died in this forest and ended up slowly buried where they lay, one of the builders still has nightmares about their last project".
 

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Mind Mages: mages who specialize in the mind. That sounded like the correct sort of profession that would match up with the concept of mental healthcare, but if the leatherworker had a poor impression of the one mage she's met, she could be onto something: this was somebody whose entire livelihood revolved around trading with people, after all. She would be a good contact to keep in touch with, provided her interest in coin and material goods could be sated, and the stink of her shop tolerated.

"The brain is what controls the entirety of one's body. Everything you see, feel, touch, smell, and taste gets processed through that organ, and that's connected to everything through the spine." The ratling faced Lizzy for a moment, trying to glean any impression of the mind mages from her before continuing. "I'unno... maybe go with your gut on that? It sounds more efficient with magic involved in the process, but all I know about learning is that it's done by making mistakes and piecing together what went wrong, how, and why. Maybe they'd know better because they're specialists, but I wouldn't want to go mucking around with a brain... too much?"

Strange. Did the void pulse just then? Something about... whore-moans? That's what the tiny objects in the negative-feedback machine were called? Gross. Whoever named stuff in the other world probably needed some therapy of their own. But, true to the ratling's methods, it had made a mistake in saying words not from around here aloud, and now it was learning to be a little more careful about it. But at least the leatherworker bought the excuse, however flimsy it was.

"We've been trying to live beneath everyone's notice. I believe the elders will want to continue that tradition, but I've gone and made a mess of that by getting involved in the recent disaster. So, I've gotta convince them that isolationism isn't the best for our mutual futures... when they've spent their entire lives hiding us all from civilization. I suppose it's easy to appear primitive when we're constantly moving and hiding, at least, but it's... I'unno, I don't think it's insulting? It's like when Hin was surprised to learn that we have Adoption. You don't think about that sort of thing until it becomes necessary. It's the same with us, and with the others here. Your way of life did not always account for staying in one place while growing food from the land itself, but now that it's been adopted, it's difficult to live without doing so, yes?"

The mention of strange burials caught the ratling's twitchy ear, and it suddenly prodded for a few more details.

"More mysteries to uncover. My people are good at digging, but I'm bigger now so I'd need tools to do certain things... Probably a good idea to warn everyone not to dig too deep. Did this builder ever talk about what they found?"
 
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A merchant contact who had knowledge of both local and city economies may indeed prove to be a useful ally in the future, especially if the rat colony began to require goods that could not be found or produced within the forest and it's various communities, which seemed inevitable considering the relatively small to non-existent scale at which the towns seen so far seemed to produce anything not viewed as totally necessary for survival.

"Huh... The brain huh? Never knew it did all of that, how did you figure all that out anyway? Some sort of advanced magic? Never heard of anyone trying to figure out what exactly was responsible for all of that... Though i guess it makes sort of, getting hit in the head can really mess someone up after all".
The barely concealed discomfort on Lizzy's face was probably all that was needed to form an opinion on mind mages, she had likely been in much closer contact with them than the vast majority of the world's population after all.

"Ahh, nomads huh? Yeah that makes sense... There are a few nomadic groups around and they generally tend towards surprising amounts of knowledge for a group without much space for books and other such records, if I recall the Suoress manage to make some of the best silken garments I have ever seen, despite apparently not having the equipment in their caravans".
A new group had been mentioned it seemed, the way she said the word seemed to be in the same context as Syol, perhaps more elves? Ones who did not dwell within towns and cities?
"Yeah, I myself did a lot of travel before settling down, it was fun and all but personally I prefer a warm bed and reliable equipment".

"Well, he mentioned there was a lot of corpses, and swears that one touched him, might have been some old Necromancer's project or a the last bits of an angry spirit, either way he gave them a proper burial eventually and the nightmares mostly stopped, so hopefully he's put them to rest, only the gods know how many mass graves like that fill this forest, it's been a site of some horrible things long ago".
 

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"Wasn't me. Someone else spent a lot of time studying people and bodies, and shared their knowledge. When I was learning what they knew, I was a little more focused on a specific application, and by the time I found that, I had gone over so many other things that it all started blurring together. Lost much starlight that day, and mostly just remember the what's, not the how's and the why's. For those... I have to take something apart to learn how it works." Cue a little frown as the child considered something gruesome. "Supposedly the brain and spine thing is a common trait among mammals, but I don't think I'm ready to go proving that hypothesis anytime soon."

Keeping a lid on the concept of reaching into the abyss for forbidden knowledge seemed like a good idea: the only mage present was trustworthy, but if word of things reached another, that would drive more researchers over in search of answers: a headache to deal with, and possibly a threat that brought with it a trove of potential knowledge, but still a headache that felt better avoided. The mention of a group of nomads with silk sparked some curiosity as well: another byproduct of an animal, but how it was harvested or what animal it came from didn't match anything the rat knew of.

"Suoress... Will have to keep an ear out for them. Somehow I doubt the lands outside this forest are friendly toward nomads, but beds are nice. Hard to believe someone would forego such a thing without a reason, you know?" The creature scratched at its head, musing a hushed "it sounds a little like Selall" before suddenly losing its composure and clawing a little bit harder: no doubt it had been scratching enough over the past few days to leave a little bit of redness underneath the fur in a few places, but there was a lot of stressful stuff happening, and the details of this new dilemma were starting to form up into a... sentence, of sorts? The disjointed nature could sort of be structured like a mathematical equation if the ratling used pictures, but it still felt like something was missing. Again.

Something important.

Enough mass grave sites in a massive forest that there are settlers in the outskirts commenting on the sheer density of them * (Shroud forced life from the forest to migrate away from safe territories + the resulting disarray, agitation and unease any creature would feel in an unfamiliar environment) + Restless spirits or a <censored> stirring up even more unpleasantness + dead things get slowly buried on their own?? = Plagued Animals???

Well, it wasn't a big stretch to see how disease could spread in all of that; if anything, it would be more surprising if there wasn't some sort of epidemic that found its origin in these parts. Desperation calls for poor choices and decisions when it came to food, after all, but because of the shroud incident, there could be no telling whether the source of this problem was fresh, or whether it lie dormant until something upset the natural world enough to stir it up.

"Mass graves... Something terrible happened and that's why all the ruins, but there's graves too.. There shouldn't be this many intact structures without their builders nearby, but if they're in the graves, and the elder has no record of them, there should be something." Cue a frown, a grumble, and shortly after that, a groan. "Nnnn- It's fine, it's fine. Just because there's no answers in two of them, doesn't mean the rest are devoid of an explanation. We'll just find another, and another, and survey those, and-" The ratling's ears perked up and it let out a chuckle, before turning to face its reptilian companion again.

"Bad news, Lizzy. We've a mess to clean up, but worse... or better. Threat level hard to place. I know I've mentioned this a few times before, but nobody's really acknowledged it, so I'm not sure if it's trivial or if we're dealing with another disaster: how common is soap around here? Do people bathe regularly, or is that considered a luxury?" In the end, this new knowledge didn't change many of the rat's plans: the ruins still needed to be surveyed and any dangerous artifacts extracted before a certain guest found anything of value, but with the ecosystem stirring as it had been, a disease outbreak could cause just as much devastation as the shroud if left unchecked, but it wasn't the sort of thing that would inspire a heroic gathering afterward.
 
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"I see... I don't get most of that stuff myself but it is interesting, personally I am fine just knowing about skin and fur, but I'm glad some smarter people are working out those more complicated things, my father always used to say that knowledge is the great equaliser, and no offense... But knowing most humans you'll need a lot of equalising to survive as a society".
It was a bit blunt but ultimately true, Rats had a major stigma to start with, plus they were coming from basically nothing but a strong community bond and a relatively hidden home.
Though Ratty and Pearl could definitely function as an equaliser in the short term, they were operating as a single person, so knowledge would be needed to ensure the others could keep up with the world.

"Mmh... There was apparently a huge war way back in the past, long before anyone here was even born, there aren't really any records about it, but whoever was involved clearly had some pretty scary magic, strong enough that no one survived to rebuild, someone at least tried to bury people though".
Well that would explain the mass graves and ruins, and if they had good magic it could explain the durability of the ruins, the woman seemed very nonchalant as she explained though.

"Hmm... It's hard to tell without asking very awkward questions, we bathed almost every day at the academy... But that's to be expected, a lot of small towns tend to have lower standards of hygiene, though I did seem some fairly affordable soap when I was shopping for supplies, it didn't look scented or decorative so it is probably treated like a common household item".
Lizzy was quite observant and good at recalling small details, it was a required skill set to learn magic, if you couldn't perfectly memorise an incantation or tell when a spell was going bad you didn't tend to last very long around more advanced magic, especially in a combat specialisation.

There was some good news in her words though, if the general store had cheap soap in stock, it likely meant that the product was popular enough that it was worth keeping around, the lack of people caked in filth also suggested that the Syol bathed regularly and even the Uhar were fairly clean despite being homeless when first encountered, so hopefully any disease would have a hard time spreading.
 

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At some point between acknowledging the importance of smart people studying very specific things in great detail, and learning that the appearance of the syol in this forest wasn't even the first time an entire group of people had been eradicated here, a pang of pain shot across the rodent's face: it clutched at its head and shook it, muttering something to the effect of "too much thinking," as though the accelerated articulation had been stressing out its own mind. Perhaps it was just the extended conversation, but it felt like a reaction from that thing Lizzy wished to study.

But was it a mere side effect from the act of relying on that knowledge, or was stress compounding the issue? Testing that would require a number of different variables to account for, and some sort of other entity with the same ability not making plans to fight impossible battles, to measure data against. In short, it wasn't happening: Lumie had more important things they were focusing on.

"Oh. Genocide, again. Really... paints a picture, huh?" The rat-child paused, then groaned in frustration. "That's what we're dealing with, something capable of just... ending everyone, without so much as a memorial or historical record to even acknowledge our existence. That's what's waiting for us, the moment someone important finds out there's something here he wants. Just... Ugh."

Something stirred in the young one's mind: it knew of something that could do that, and if the creature looked pale just considering all the death, it nearly looked ready to wretch at the implication that such a thing could be replicated: a stomach was clutched and a mouth covered.

Or was it just the smell?

"Um, I think I need, uh, air. It's... At least we aren't at immediate risk of a plague, but no wonder the dead are restless. That's a whole thing by itself.. errm, we shall return. Thank you for your time."

And with that, the little rodent made an exit almost as unkempt as its introduction to this shop, awkwardly trying not to panic, scream, or see morningmeal regurgitated. It didn't even look at the other stalls on its way out of the market: it just chose a direction and walked for several minutes in a desperate bid to confront anything else. Though, once far enough from the tannery that the creature was certain that anyone listening in would miss out on the context, the child did say one more thing.

"Some things never change."
 
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