Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  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,
"I... Don't know that word but I can guess what it means from the implications... History is full of such incidents, though... None were as ever as complete as whatever happened to the previous inhabitants of this forest, as much as I'd like to say it was all humans doing it, and to be fair it was mostly them, I doubt there is a single racial group without a single attempt at... Genocide? To their name".
The woman seemed more bitter now, she was also quite well informed on historical matters for someone who was supposedly just a leatherworker, perhaps she could be a useful source of knowledge in the future? Though perhaps after Ratty had let their brain rest for a while first, this world didn't seem as if it had much happy history.
"Ahh, well come by any time, most of my customers don't stick around to talk so this was a nice change, hell you don't even need to spend money if you just wanna chat some time".

Lizzy followed after Ratty, not sure what to say but clearly able to tell that something was wrong with her rodent friend, finally she gathered some words once Ratty stopped walking.
"I... Suppose your previous world was not much better than this one..."
She commented before moving a little closer in what she hoped was a comforting gesture.
"Are... Are you okay? You seem... Not well".
She wasn't sure how to articulate it, topics of the mind were not often discussed so she lacked many of the words and concepts needed to properly assist someone having a bad mental health time.

"I... Suggest rest".
Lumina declared, it was also confused, these feelings were mostly new to it, though the fact that they were bad was obvious.
"You should seek comfort and safety".
It declared after a moment, these feelings were triggering a similar response to it's danger sense, therefore seeking a safe and comfortable hiding place was the optimal course of action... It was also possible that being linked to a rodent was affecting Lumina's idea of how to deal with danger.
 

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.
Hell? The very word bore no significance to the ratling, but its concept was noted by instinct as another bad sign: just what the child needed, more things to have anxiety about, but at least this artisan seemed happy to share her wealth of knowledge. That the history of the world was unpleasant didn't require that the person sharing also be, but in the case of the rat, it wasn't sure what to tell Lizzy when she asked. Or rather, where to start.

But, if the reptile was going to have her research, one might as well start at the beginning?

"Those memories... There's a lot. I try to feel out things that are relevant by their ties to emotions. The feeling you get when someone says something and you think you've heard it before? It comes up, a lot. We try to reach for context sometimes. It hurts after a while. Lately we stopped reaching for everything, because historical relevance to that world serves little purpose here, but the memory remains. At some point back then, we knew. We knew of something that could turn people into less than ash. It's... Horrible."

The rat covered its face with a hand, trying not to acknowledge the light of the star in the sky, or Lumina's input. It was fine. Everything was fine, they just needed to keep walking, question the builder about what the ghosts wanted and how to negotiate with them, learn to survive in this larger body, meet with the elders and convince them to establish diplomatic ties with the elves, and...

Neglecting our health will contribute to our demise. Lumina would not want that. Very specifically desires an absence of our death.

For some reason, this thought interrupted all of the planning this rat was focused on, and it conceded that a safe place to hide would be beneficial to both of them. The rat changed direction, back toward the meeting hall: it was bedtime, but there was still time to tell a story en route.

"We, as societies, did not have a historical account of elves, or dragons. Such things were referred to as myth. Will never know the truth, but I can say with certainty that, absent those, we turned in upon ourselves. Over skin pigment. Over culture. Some important man with a funny hat made a decree, maybe. We had food in abundance, enough to feed everyone the world over, and still we bickered, denying it to those we felt deserved none. We had lights everywhere, buildings built impossibly high, you could turn a lever and have hot water in the cold seasons, and cold water in the hot season, pumped from the ground to anywhere, but if you did not perform enough menial labor, a lever got turned and your home was denied the things you needed to survive. And we, as people, begrudged those who did not toil. Those who could not, through no fault of their own. Those who were not even allowed to toil for their food and were forced choose between theft and starvation."

Telling Lizzy all this seemed to help. It was getting the rats mind off of the things it dreaded, too. What was in the past couldn't hurt it now, right?

"We had festivals, music. Those of us in lower classes had no shortage of entertainment, though much of it seemed designed to distract us from ever uniting to overthrow those in power. Propaganda. But we had good stuff too. I still do not remember all of who or what I was back then, but one thing we did not have was magic. At least, not as you or I know the word. Magic was when the wolf you danced with in the starlight pressed her nose to yours. It was when you went under water and felt each little movement from every other creature sharing the river, not just in the nerves in your skin, but through your hair too. It was the misty mountain and the great stones that had seen much more than any person ever could. Supposedly magic was some other stuff too, but the memory says children do not need to know that. Memory seems to have no problems hinting to a child that it knows precisely how to turn an entire city of people into vapor without even using magic, so... Yes, we are most likely unwell. But, sleep makes everything better, and we've got friends, and, umm, I think I just need a few day cycles in the nest before we go trying to make new friends or snacks in the ruins. Just... To confirm everyone's okay, yes?"
 
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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 use of hell so casually and in that context implied that it had similar meanings or at least use in conversation as in the other world, perhaps something to look into another day when Ratty was less overloaded with new information? After all it seemed unlikely that this completely different world would just so happen to develop a word that means the exact same thing and even start to use it casually in conversation in the same way as many from Ratty's own world might tend to do, though of course this world did seem to have people dropping in from other worlds as a known phenomenon.

Lizzy stayed quiet and attentive as she listened to Ratty speaking, she didn't want to interrupt with her own observations and possible questions until after they had finished speaking after all, a trait she had picked up from lectures back in the long lectures of her apprentice days.
"A... Weapon that could do that... A spell even... I know nothing that could act on such a scale... A single person yes, maybe even a group, but entire civilisations would be beyond even the power of the oldest and strongest of the masters of combat magic, and your world did not even have magic..."
She seemed to shiver at the thought of that.
"I only hope that whatever caused this particular destruction is long dead and forgotten".
Lizzy was of course a mage specialised in burning and destroying things, so she would of course have an idea of the kind of power needed for destruction on that level, on the plus side at least it didn't seem like anyone could casually throw around spells like that anymore, so that was one less thing to worry about.

"That... Sounds very similar to here, those who cannot work starve, while we may sometimes not have enough food due to plague, diseased crops or natural disasters, even in the good times much goes to waste, and of course even with so many other races present, no race seems united, my own kind destroyed their own civilisation over minor differences, the various elven groups often fought over petty differences, and even among the humans there is constant war and disagreement".
It sounded like even with completely different species to hate, humans still found reasons to hate each other as well, the greed that allowed the poor to die wasn't even a surprise though, for all it's magic this WAS a feudal world, a period of time where thousands would be marched to their deaths because their overlords wanted a few extra meters of lawn.

"Oh of course, I was wondering if you might be getting homesick, many of my fellow students often found themselves missing home, and you especially have earned some rest, admittedly, I would appreciate it too... I umm... Didn't exactly get out very often before recently so all this travelling and exploring is rather exhausting, even if it is very interesting".
Lizzy didn't feel the need to ask if she was allowed to follow Ratty home, what else would she do anyway?
 

Fyrra

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  3. Transgender
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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.
Getting confirmation on whatever horrible things the rat-child was inferring just made it chuckle in disbelief and resentment, possibly even exasperation. "Not a chance. You don't eradicate an entire nation and leave it uninhabited unless you're making an example of them. The good news, if you can call it that, is that we would have to provoke somebody very important and powerful in order to face that kind of danger. The bad news is, if what you say is accurate, uniting the settlements here is going to have that effect. So... Happy thoughts? I was worried I would struggle to find a use for the scare the living daylights out of every elf and goblin in sight magic from the shroud, but I guess be careful what you worry about."

Upon reaching the meeting hall itself, the ratling gave a polite nod to the attendant en route to the guest room, and then faced Lizzy once more before plopping down and closing its eyes.

"Well, you know what home looks like. No lights, no beds, lots of hungry friends who struggle with the concept of something being inedible... Well, maybe less than I do. Won't blame you if you want to stay here for the duration, but I just need to see my family, confirm I didn't get them all killed by moving into that place.. but it's not as though you've not earned a rest yourself."

In any case, whether Lizzy wanted to come along, the next few days should be a lot less exciting: a visit with the crafters and maybe to the siblings, if they didn't just join up at the gate, and then another long walk to the ruins... At which point everything the rat carried was either handed over to an accomplice or hidden somewhere, before it shifted back to its original shape: the creature wasn't ready to show everyone how much it had grown these past few days.
 
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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,
"I don't think the settlements here would be enough to bring that kind of attention... A being of such power and secrecy that didn't even react to the unification of the many kingdoms that bordered the empire into one nation would hopefully ignore what looks like a group of small villages and towns... I can't say the same for more conventional powers though".
Well that was arguably a little better, instead of unstoppable beings with godlike powers who could casually manifest nukes... They only had to fight giant armies that may have more soldiers than the forest's total population.
"Oh right... Recreating that magic could be very useful, obviously we would need a test to see who it works on... Since it didn't affect me or you that implies some people have immunity".
Probably best to test that before needing to rely on the spell, it would be bad to have a plan revolving around that ability fail because the target was immune.

Lizzy did indeed wish to come along, and would follow Ratty the next day, clearly revived by a good's night sleep, she was quickly adapting to the life of a traveller, as well as steadily looking healthier now that she was eating better.
As they neared the nest ruins after some time travelling, she did ask a question though.
"Hey umm... I was wondering, would you mind me examining some of the ruins? I was hoping I could find out why the other mages would be so interested in the light stones... We can make similar things pretty easily after all".
She doubted Ratty would refuse, but wanted to make sure since it was their home and all.
 

Fyrra

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  3. Transgender
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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.
The night was a quiet one. No dreams or visions hailed the ratling as it slumbered: presumably the previous dream's mentor wasn't joking about needing to take a few days' rest following the head trauma, or the rodent itself may have been too exhausted to process more ancient memories. What troubled the creature more was the local syol villagers leaving it alone: they were friendly enough when approached in their place of business, but the other children kept their distance, and the adults... well, they must have taken that scolding after the ritual a touch personally. It was such a weird feeling.

Yet, after the lessons in equipment maintenance, the feeling was overshadowed by disappointment.

Daoin never stopped by to say hello, despite expressing an interest in seeing the rat's own nest. Hin's absence carried with it a similar note, but for him it made sense to want distance: their mission together was done, and he likely had some other duty to attend to that didn't involve looking after yet another wayward youth wrestling with unpleasant historical fact. - Oh! No wonder those two were staying away! In almost an instant the ratling's outward wallowing in disappointment ceased, but it's not like the creature wasn't still upset about it, yet, at least with Lizzy nearby it was hard to feel completely alone.

For one who was supposedly worried about becoming some sort of warmage, she was certainly thinking like one when it came to the unspoken portion of the ratling's plans: she would need to be filled in at some point, if she hadn't already pieced the majority of her friend's motivations together from the previous night's conversation. Even on their supposed rest, she'd even asked about one of the nest's components that made it suitable for habitation.

"The starstones?" Now there was an interesting thought. "Riiiight, right right right, I had assumed that the goal of scavenging was for harvesting raw materials, but if that's not the case... Was it not just the sentinels that were more advanced here?" The rodent shrugged, packing its sickle away. "It is a vital component to the nest, but they are good for so many things. If something is unusual about them, perhaps we should learn how to replicate..."

But, as simple a matter as consuming one of the stones was, it still meant destroying one of them in the process. Maybe letting Lizzy do her thing was the right choice.
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  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,
Even if she had no interest in becoming a warmage, it was most likely that Lizzy had already been instructed in some of the ways she would need to think and act in order to succeed as one, and there was nothing wrong with using the knowledge to benefit herself and her friends, at least that was her personal opinion, it wasn't even like she hated most of the things she had learned, being able to throw a fireball or keep calm in a fight was definitely a good set of skills for an adventurer, which she figured was a technically fitting title now.
"That was my intention... Replicating them is an obvious need if you intend to take over more ruins, especially the one that was looted, and even in this one the lights have grown dim... But also i suspect there may be other uses for them, uses that the looters hopefully have not discovered".
With any luck the guild members sent would simply sell something as seemingly simple as lights to fund further explorations in search of things that were more obviously valuable for study.

With that little topic out of the way they were clear to enter the nest, already a few things were obvious, for one the rats were all much more comfortable with their surroundings, playing and laying about without a care in the world, there were also a surprising amount of pregnant rats waddling around, it seemed the soon to be new mothers had decided that their much larger, safer home was a good place to start up making more rats.
It didn't take long before the arrivals were noticed, with many rats running over to circle around, giving Ratty a good sniff, their words, if they could technically be called that were hard to make out from all of them speaking at once, but the general gist of things seemed to be surprised at Ratty's continued existence.
 
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Fyrra

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  2. Female
  3. Transgender
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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.
"Another project for another day. I know not the first thing about creating something with magic, but it sounds like it's something I need to learn fast. Think I should eat one?"

Hesitance with the question itself may have been the rat's own insecurities about destroying stones: if the starstones were sentient, they certainly didn't act like it. Or better yet, they didn't try to crush anything that dared show its face in the ruins, but that was far from the only outcome sentience could have, but between previous evidence and Lumina's expertise with magic, it's not as though the ratling didn't already know the answer to that question: of course it needed to eat one! What was one fading stone to be weighed against countless new ones to replace it? There was so much to take in from even one of these that a mere fraction of their capacity could do much to advance the rat's magical senses from guesswork to actual theory! Truly, why the hesitation now, of all times? Without the infrastructure of this dwelling repaired, the dying gasp of the local magic and life would just require that another new nest be found, and getting lucky a second time was out of the question.

Well, sure, it was possible, but directing the entire warren into a new place and clearing it out as well? That would require too much work and explanations in short order, and if the ratling was going to do that, it might as well not even shift back to its diminutive stature on its way back down to the nest in the first place.

Upon finding the larger entrance to the ruins, the ratling picked out a good stash spot for its clothes, arms, and bag, and hid it all away before closing its eyes and sitting down. Supposedly this sort of thing required intense focus? The creature quieted its own scheming tendencies... roughly halfway, before getting frustrated at the sound of a lot more bugs than it remembered were present here the last time it dropped by, and the birds, and- it was clear that the little ratling should stop by the uhar settlement to train its mind for this sort of thing with the elder at some point. Thank goodness for Lumie and their natural talent for shortcuts!

Walking into the ruins and seeing everyone still alive was a great comfort, even if the warren at large was astonished, as though the assumption on either side was that the other had been swallowed by some danger. Sharing the mutual surprise-squeaks just reminded the one rat in particular that, for all its aloof nature afforded it in being able to wander for longer than most and survive on its own, it still didn't like being too far away. In fact, absence just made the little thing want to hug and sniff everyone who crowded up.

After a good few minutes of that, the little one noticed something: everyone was eating really well! Look how fat some of them were getting! That extra weight might be a danger if there were predators about, but since there weren't, it'd be a great boon in the cold season! Really, the amazing thing was just how quickly so much weight was being put on after just a few days of feasting, but as long as nobody was going hungry, there wouldn't be any reason to talk with the warren at large about temperance, or any of that abstract nonsense.

Onward the creature walked, taking a casual stroll about the top floor and being just a little bit mindful about the hazards, already feeling much better than it had the previous morning.
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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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,
"Well... Considering how rapidly you seem to break down and analyse magical components... It couldn't hurt? I remember seeing a few that had already fallen to the ground when we were last here, so we wouldn't need to damage the ones that are still intact for something that might ultimately end up not leading to anything".
She was being realistic, sure there was bound to be SOMETHING worth learning from the stones that held onto their magic for so long, but she was far from an expert on magical artefacts and the ruins were even further from a proper magical workshop with the tools to experiment properly with foreign magical structures... Still she had learned enough from the heat rock her old roommate made and showed her how to care for that something like a light should be plausible.

"The stones could potentially be of use if ingested, I will discover any hidden purpose to them".
Lumina declared, sounding almost... Excited? It seemed the talking stone was quite fond of eating other, less talkative stones, perhaps that was just how the predator and prey hierarchy worked in... Whatever sort of food chain Lumina was supposed to belong to, at the very least they seemed to derive some sort of sustenance from magical rocks.

Lizzy sat aside as Ratty greeted their kin, she had a few of the younger rats hanging about as well, but for most of them the novelty seemed to have worn off already, and she was being viewed as similar to the other various non predator animals that had hung around the nest in previous years, not a threat but not a source of food or entertainment either.

Interestingly it seemed a few of the traps were no longer functional, with signs of recent damage, mostly claw and tooth marks consistent with those of rats, either they were eating parts of them out of curiosity or the rats had decided certain traps needed to go for some reason, rodent instincts were pretty good so perhaps there was some danger that Ratty hadn't seen?
 

Fyrra

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  1. 1-3 posts per week
  2. One post per week
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  3. Transgender
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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.
Two experts agreed! Confirmation bias and any idea that Lizzy might not be an expert herself aside, it was enough to convince the little rodent to go find one of these fallen stones the moment everyone kind of chilled out and gave it some space: it might alarm some of the other rats by doing so, particularly because most of them had probably figured out that minerals were difficult to digest like that, but there was always the chance that they might understand that their wayward scout was a little more weird than they might have imagined. Come to think of it, this rat must have been covered in strange smells: no wonder everyone was so curious! And so... surprised to note that this one yet lived? Well, one could suppose that scouting rodents were expected to fall prey to something eventually, and not returning to the nest for several days at a time after a life of always being nearby, gone a day a most... yeah, that made sense. And scents, too! Without explaining to anyone what happened, there's no telling what the nest as a whole would make of this sudden return.

After all, the other rats here were smart! They seemed to know what could be used as a defense and what dangerous to everyone, and on top of that, they were probably already getting acclimated to the new area both above and below the surface. Perhaps worrying about them was a bit silly, in hindsight: they knew what they were doing, and had probably braved many dangers long before their adopted powerhouse got taken in.

Further inside the rat led its companion, remembering that the elders enjoyed the heated pool in the lower chamber... and that Lizzy likely wouldn't appreciate the route that avoided the treacherous pit, especially if either of them wanted that journal intact. So, down the stairs they went, another mental reminder pinging to attention: Fix the leak. It was an annoying reminder: yes, it would be nice if the nest didn't flood because a leak went unchecked, but fixing it meant finding a new place for everyone to take a dip. But... perhaps up top, near the overgrowth?

Think like wolf, another reminder chimed in from seemingly no stimulus at all to trigger it. Right! The stones! This rat was a hunting animal. That's why it wasn't shy about singling a dangerous human out and tracking it like it was prey, and maybe something similar to that was the reason Lumie needed other stones for nourishment. Suddenly the things the little rat was having hangups over made sense again, even if it didn't make much sense to think as a wolf would. For all the creature knew about canines, there was only one wolf it knew, and that was more of a person. A person who... sang in the moonlight, traveled in a pack, and danced in the glowing lights?

And rats weren't hunting animals?

And just from questioning things, the memory got blurry again. Maybe it was related to something, or someone. Or... related to Lumina or the rat itself? Whatever it was, it was starting to get confusing again, but that was fine if the only relevant thing the rat could come up with was a radiant warmth. There was lots of warmth in the nest to go around, and everyone seemed kind of happy with everything. It would be a real drag to ruin that feeling by telling everyone the dire news, but part of being in a nest meant facing the elders eventually. Better to check in sooner than later.
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  3. 1-3 posts per week
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  3. Adaptable
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Genres
Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
Eventually the other rodents all returned to their usual activities of eating and playing, Ratty's return was exciting, but not THAT exciting after all, even the younger ones seemed to more or less know of Ratty's oddness at this point.
Notably the elder rats were not present to give greetings, they were almost certainly staying in the warm pools, since it seemed as rats got older the cold became much more difficult to deal with.

Also notable was the reduction in general mess in the nest, small stones and pieces of debris had been placed in piles hidden in corners, large pieces of rubble had been dragged away or at least showed signs of attempts to break them up, and several previously accessible doors and halls had been partially cleared, the rats it seemed were making in progress in cleaning up their home and opening more to easy access, Ratty might need to warn them to be careful going deeper lest they find someone that is too tough for their teeth and claws.

The elders were right where they seemed most likely to be, lazing around in the warm waters and generally enjoying themselves, to most people they would seem very lazy indeed, but these rats had made it to old age despite many dangers that had occurred in their lifetimes, and would often dispense wisdom and advice that younger rats lacked.
They seemed to have already been notified of Ratty's return as well since they didn't seem surprised at all.
 

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.
Thinking on it a little longer as it pondered a good place to move the baths to, the rat decided it was fine where it was, hidden further down from the surface than most visitors should care to delve. Baths were for privacy, after all. As much as it might benefit guests in the immediate future to make those accessible, keeping them in the semi-deep meant sheltering them from the wind and snow: it was the better option.

The young rat plopped into the water with the elders, tugged from its constant daydreaming about things that made little sense to focus on more practical things. It squeaked out a message to the elders regarding the ruins. Then another. And another.

Great danger lurks below. Fought stone giant here.

Chased out humans. Tried to hunt, but they escaped.

More humans searching places like this nest. We are hunting them to drive them out.

Unable to locate other rats or nests.

Something big was scaring elf and goblin. I ate the big scary thing. Now elf and goblin want to be friends with us.

Elf is willing to search forest for more rats, but doesn't know how to find nests. Do we want to teach them?

Cleared out another ruin like this one. Not suitable for nest. Will seek out another soon.

How is new nest? Is good?


Certain that this would be a frustrating amount of new information to take in at once, the youth soaked in and took its time after that: it had been gone for a while, and while everyone seemed to be doing well, it was becoming increasingly clear that this visit home was going to be another job in exploration and renovation.

But that was fine. All the other rats were here, so there could be no feeling lonely, and food and a fresh bath were right here for afterwards. Also the family! They might be a little incredulous about the whole thing, but that was okay too.
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

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"Perhaps... Build new baths? Using piping".
Lumina suggested, having been also thinking of possible solutions as soon as it had picked up on Ratty's own thoughts, obviously construction like that would require significant advances in... Well everything to be honest, but it had no doubt that it's host could eventually pull this society into such a level of societal advancement.

The elders seemed stunned for a while at the sheer volume of information and accomplishments, most of the response was a mix of worry and awe, though one of them seemed almost like it was in pain before doing something truly unexpected.
"Nee....St... Goood".
It was awkward and slow, but the elder was definitely speaking the language of the humans, come to think of it, they did seem slightly... Different, they were larger and seemed almost less aged, some of the other rats had seemed larger but that could have been growth due to the extra food, but the elders normally only get smaller.
 

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The young rat stared for a long, long moment. Part of the creature had expected the awe and worry about introducing all of these unusual elements into everyone's lives, and part of it anticipated the possibility of the elder's not having any relevant advice, because it had never heard of any other rat hunting after humans, but this was surprising: another rodent knew the language of people! And, come to think of it, this one looked different in some way. The younger rat couldn't put a finger on how, but this was certainly a mystery to investigate. Some other day. Maybe. Was it rude to ask certain things?

The adolescent suddenly turned less boisterous with its squeaking: it had originally come here for answers to that question, but in the face of questions the creature didn't even know it had, shyness had overtaken its bold front.

Was thinking, if there was a way to make us all people, should we become people, but are we already a people?

This question was hard to figure out how to ask, but clearly the young one had caught the meaning behind voicing those two words in a human tongue. Where and how another rat managed to learn the tongue of people and give it voice was irrelevant: if others could do it, then either they had circumstances similar to this rat in its peculiarities, or more likely, rats were intelligent enough on their own to warrant more thought to this subject matter. This one wanted to believe as much, in any case: it just felt less tragic than learning one of the elders had another soul from another world placed into their rodent body.

Plus, it's not like the elders were giving the youth any other tasks to focus on: perhaps they were under the impression that their wayward scout would continue producing favorable things if left alone? Closing its eyes, it tried to answer the other rat in speech rather than squeaks, despite not having the (properly sized) vocal chords for the job.

"Happ...ee.."

One could express happiness that the nest was to everyone's liking, no? At the very least, it gave the rodent an excuse to put off surveying all the newly-uncovered rooms out of worry for the nest's well-being, for the moment anyway, but that left this one at odds with what, specifically, it should be doing, besides dreaming up construction and plumbing plans for a renovated bath. [Something terrible has happened,] the creature reminded itself, but once again, the pieces didn't quite add up.

Rats smart enough to be people * (corpses everywhere + ruined architecture) = Aftermath???

Aftermath of wh-

(Waaaaaaaaaiiiiiiit.)

[Aftermath... of Weapon?]

(No, no, nononono, we're not thinking about this right now. That can't be it, there's no data to suggest anything that wild, we haven't even dug up any corpses or skeletons or spoken with that builder fellow; let's maybe do that before we start with a wild hypothesis?)

The rat suddenly looked away, then climbed out of the baths and shook itself dry. Once again, there was too much to think about, but depending on the elders' answers, it might not run away to find a nice little sleeping spot just yet, though the creature certainly wanted to.
 

Mahou-Shoujo

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The question seemed to confuse the elders at first, after all why would they have ever even had reason to think of such a thing? They were rats, always had been and generally were content with that... But then again, they had seen many of their kin devoured by creatures that would barely be worth noting as two legged predators, they were also aware that humans lived longer, and with so many of them nearing their own ends... It wasn't a terrible idea.
Their responses came one by one, but generally seemed to be in agreement that IF such a thing were possible, it could only benefit the nest as a whole, except for the obvious problem of food, the current food situation worked, but humans were much larger than rats, and would need MUCH more food than they could scavenge from the ruins and surrounding areas, also none of them knew how to care for humans, especially human children.

It was strange really, while certainly much smarter than most rodents, considering such complex questions as these had generally been beyond the elders, but recently it was almost like thinking had gotten easier, they could consider more information than just how to survive.
Though it hadn't quite reached the point where they could put two and two together and guess that either Ratty or the ruins might have been causing it, they didn't have the benefit of a magical talking pearl after all.

There didn't seem to be much of a reaction from the one rat at Ratty's speech, as if it had been expected, or maybe it was just truly clueless somehow judging from the blank expression at the strange noise that came from Ratty.
 

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A prod from Lumina proved helpful, not just in pointing the young rat in a more reasonable direction, but quelling the sort of dread that accompanied the thought of other rats having once been people too. This one wasn't sure it could handle knowing that every lost rat was also a forgotten soul who'd been placed here against their consent, but if the elders thought the concept was farfetched or unusual, then it probably was. As for that, this rat probably wouldn't have even considered that something in the ruins was causing the continued development of rodent intellect without its assistant's suggestions: it wasn't the sharpest rat beforehand, so the elders being considered smart was just like one of those things that gets accepted as truth when one is young and never challenged in maturity. Perhaps there was a term for that? It wasn't important though.

The 'smart rats' detail was a piece of a puzzle, but not the puzzle the young rat was working on. Perhaps it was something related to the forest itself? If the shroud didn't affect humanfolk, lizards or rats, was there some common connection apart from human ancestry that affected immunity to its effects? Apart from that, could one even determine whether something magical was manipulating the genes of the other rodents in this nest or their newfound knack for reasoning with abstract concepts was simply a matter of foraging and shelter needs no longer being a constant worry? Probably not without staying overnight or having a proper investigation.

There was also the matter of where to bring the core of that bone-bramble monster: it might be safe in the rat's hidden bag for a day-cycle, if a little unhappy without water and sunlight, but the curious rat-children might mistake it for food if it was exposed, and the ratling couldn't carry the creature around without transforming back... but keeping the stone creature from seeing the beauty of this place still being sort of intact was wrong, and if something in the ruins was acting to the nest's benefit, then eating that was prohibited as well. Plus, Bramble could make a friend down here. Or the potential friend could view the exposed core as a threat and go a little bit haywire and refuse all attempts at negotiations because of it. Hopefully the friend thing?

Really, that whole line of reasoning just made the rat-child feel bad about not telling everyone what it knew how to do, or what it was planning: the elders would consent, and they already pointed out both the first barrier that their adventerous scout had already identified, and one it wouldn't have found otherwise: caring for humanoid young was different than caring for young rats. So, apart from finding an experienced farmer or three and foraging for knowledge from its past life on the subject, the creature also needed to find parents and do the same thing with knowledge in that field: not simple, but neither an exercise in frustration nor more urgent than surveying the new rooms for danger.

There was no point in hiding things any longer: the rat squeaked out a confession as it looked over the soaking elders.

It's possible. I have done it, but it needs some adjustments. Does not feel right.

With that, the young rat left the bath chamber to search the rooms nearby: this area was near the nursery and the dormitories, if it remembered correctly: a good place to build a nest, if one could focus for long enough to drag proper bedding this far down, or more likely, make something from all the rotted wood. The creature was definitely going to transform back, but it still wanted to see its siblings before doing so. Perhaps they were around here?
 
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It was unlikely that every rat was a lost soul, while Lumina didn't know the exact rate of otherworldly souls entering their own world as rodents, it couldn't have been super high, else surely the nest as a whole would have been in better shape? Even without access to a talking pearl Ratty had been more curious than others and might have stumbled upon something useful eventually.

"More testing required".
Lumina declared in response to Ratty's musing, unfortunately even with the stone broken down and assimilated, Lumina couldn't work out the exact details of how the shroud spell worked, or why it only affected certain species, after all theory could only do so much, and while finding out why it had such limited effect likely wasn't going to be possible without further exploration, with enough testing it should hopefully be possible to at least extend the effects to all races... Probably, Lumina didn't exactly have experience in altering spells, having operated mostly on something akin to instinct so far.

"Perhaps leave it in the pool?"
Lumina suggested, despite Ratty's fears it was pretty sure that most rats did not try and eat rocks, sure their stomachs were seemingly tough but for anyone without magical assistance swallowing a rock would lead to almost certain death, and the lack of dead rodents who had tried to eat the many glowing rocks laying around would seem to support the idea that the rats knew that.
"It is wet, and the glow rocks seem to provide energy similar to sunlight".

The elders were clearly shocked by this, Rat had never become not rat before, but somehow they couldn't bring themselves to doubt the strange prodigal rodent who had done so much thought impossible so far, of course they did request an example of this once Ratty had settled in, they understood the value of being relaxed and catching up with kin of course.
Ratty's siblings were indeed around, if anything... They looked kinda healthier too? Bigger, but not really older, had they perhaps been affected by whatever was changing the rats as well? They seemed MORE affected than the elders too.
Of course at the return of their assumed dead sibling the rats crowded around for sniffing and affection.
 

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One might imagine that the little rat would remember that the remainder of its nest didn't struggle as much with the concept of something being inevitable as it did itself, given it had just said as much the previous day: clocking its brain to the limit for all that talking and planning must have done some lingering exhaustion upstairs, but it seemed like it was nothing Lumie's reminders couldn't correct. just like the reminder that apparently this magical core component didn't need oxygen to breathe.... Or rather, that water was composed of oxygen and the core could manipulate that while submerged near the starstones?

Well, if Lumina thought that was okay, then it was probably okay and there wasn't any danger of the waterflow sending it into the pit, especially if the starstones were still there. That left the other mystery, since testing magic in this tiny body, inside the nest, just seemed like a bad idea. The creature poked around at its siblings and anyone else who was still around to investigate, sniffing and giving little hugs here and there, glad everyone was eating well and seemed more or less okay.

A few questions followed.

Is everything okay?
Anything important happen while I was gone?
Any trouble?


Of course, just because the elders said everything was fine, it wouldn't feel right not checking in with these rats for a second opinion. They might have been a little bit better informed, or more willing to share findings, or more.... Something. One of the things a second set of memories did not provide was any consistency in how families were supposed to act around their own, or in the case of their incomplete state, instincts that made sense on the subject. These siblings were very much part of a loving family, and so were the parents, so the young rat's habit of avoiding everyone was probably noticed by them. It seemed only now that the aloof rat in question wanted to try to open up to them of its own initiative, rather than needing to be dragged into the nest.

Progress.

After getting an answer, the young rat started squeaking about its big adventure, of finding this place and chasing out the human, searching for the other humans, exploring the settlements of People and Elf, and rescuing the elves and little green people from Something Scary. There was even a big cat-thing with horns who came along! She was scarier than the big stone creature, but that might have just been because the big stone creature was sad, and this was a feline: it was hard not to be very anxious around felines.

But clearly, something was up in the nest and needed to be investigated personally.
 
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Presumably the plant stone would be comfortable here too, after all it presumably came from a ruin similar to this one, so it would be like going home, except with friendly rodents, working lights and a lack of humans stealing it's stuff and causing a big fight, not that Ratty could really confirm right now since they didn't have the stone with them in rat form, and the stone's only means of communication seemed to be heating up unless Lumina decided to dig deeper.

The siblings took a while to finish their various greetings and cuddled with Ratty as they answered the questions, they all answered at once but putting things together seemed to say that everything was okay, there was lots of food and warmth and no predators had even come close to the ruins, so their days had been full of play, other than the few rats who took turns roaming around the outside, exploring the topside of the ruins and keeping an eye out for... Something, it seemed they didn't even know what to look for, only that they should be, perhaps some sort of instinct to patrol and protect?

As for importance, well there had been many new baby rats, which meant there would be many more adult rats in the future to play with, of course the babies seemed to be growing slower for some reason even though there was lots of food, maybe it we because they were a little bigger than normal? So maybe it was BECAUSE there was lots of food.

That aside, the rats and ratlings gathered around to listen in with visible awe, none seeming to even think about doubting the veracity of the tale, after all why would a rat lie to another rat? And this particular rat had already proven to be incredibly capable of things.
One did decide to mention something though, apparently while digging out one of the collapsed areas some of the rats had found a bunch more of the sun rocks and piled them up in one of the rooms, they weren't glowing but were still probably the same things.
 

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Again, there was something worrying about the fact that there were no predator animals about, and coupled with the knowledge that something possibly biological was interacting with the magic of the jungle and that it either wasn't affecting rats in the same way, or other animals just knew to avoid it, was only a little more vexing than having missed these details on the first sweep of the ruins. Another thing was the previous presence of mind-affecting magic, now that such a thing had been established with negative connotations... or was the sleep-magic somehow different from mind-magic? Again, the idea of something lurking deeper in the rose to the front of the rat's paranoia, even when the creature's response to the thought was to let it go and assume it was something benign, if not outright beneficial.

After all, if the slower growth and aging wasn't something that could be explained with a primer on whatever a metabolism is, it solved the issue of that ritual causing this one rat in particular to start aging slower than the rest of the warren, even if that wasn't exactly a problem for anybody but this one specific rat, who... may have felt a memory of its old life along with the thought that, one doesn't often miss their loved ones until they are gone? What a dark sentiment.

But if anything, the other rats' findings further established a point to hone in on: this was home now. It was far from complete, but this was home for everybody in the nest... and maybe a few more guests, if the rat could convince some more strangers to live on the fringes of society, but knowing what Elder Pellinta had to share about the world at large, that might not even be a difficult task. Now, finding skilled tradesmen to do so, on the other paw... well, different story, but also not an immediate concern.

This was home now, everyone was happy, and the others knew to post guards up top because everyone was ready to protect this place. Very little could make the weird rat happier, except for maybe an absence of the imminent danger related to a certain would-be archaeologist the syol were making plans to take care of, but the rats of the nest had found something anyway, causing their peculiar sibling to squeak up a little bit loudly.

Yes, Good! We will need those!

This, and the other denizens apparently being very good at finding other rats, more than made up for everybody being simply awestruck and not having new tasks or answers for the strange one's questions. But again, it's not like the little creature needed help finding things to do. Even just a good hour or so of catching up with everyone, laying around, grabbing a bite to eat, and trading stories just had this calming effect on the rodent, and it was happily reminding itself that it and its friends and family were all in this together, and apart from the analysis of the swallowed glow-rock, all that really needed to be done was a quick survey of the newly uncovered areas, and maybe a little cleanup.

And as far as cleanup went, what the rest of the nest had in common sense and instincts, their adopted anomaly had in power and tenacity: this was a job for a bigger rat. So, once all the hubbub died down, the little one squeaked out that it was going to show everyone something strange, but important, and that it was important for everyone to know, because once it was right, the rat wanted to share it. So, it started gathering anyone who might have been curious and bringing them up to the top floor, specifically that one stony area with all the vegetation.

And then the creature closed its eyes, stretched out, and grew back to the size of a goblin.
 
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