There is fog all around, thick and white, swirling. The ground is dark, hard stone, rough and uneven, with a gradual but perceptible slope; the fog is thinnest upslope, and in that direction a faint shadow is visible in the distance, the only landmark available in an otherwise featureless world.
"Does one's scale improve with practice?"
"Mm....not quite but I think it answers my question anyway. Is there some combination of life and death that will let you raise the dead? Or make other people immortal?"
"Some of that depends on what sort of world you end up in. One life and one death might be the best bet - you can't have two and two, or even one and two, because of the way the rings are set up. But there are worlds where you'd be better off with two life or two death, and worlds where you couldn't manage it any which way. I suppose that also depends what you mean by immortal, though."
"Is there any way for us to predict where we might end up?"
"I don't suppose we'll conveniently speak the language?"
"Yes. Hm. ... Tell me more about magic as an aspect?"
"Maybe 'aspect' is wrong, sorry, new vocabulary -- magic, the thing Iserith does specifically, as opposed to magic, the thing all of this is. Tell me more about that?"
"Well, that's sort of hard, because what you can do with Iserith's power depends on what magic there is in the world where you end up. Different magic systems have different capabilities and different rules and allow different kinds of manipulation. And there are a lot of worlds and nearly all of the ones with magic have different magic from one another."
She taps her fingers, thinking.
"It would be very nice if there were something that did mental improvements -- better memory, improved intelligence, learning faster, maintaining multiple trains of thought -- is there anything that could flex that way?"
"And that's good for long-distance communication, too ... oh, what's the learning curve on these like? Should I expect days or weeks of basically not being able to use them at all? Are harmful mistakes a common part of the process -- crashing your metaphorical bike while learning to ride it?"
"It's possible to make harmful mistakes through carelessness, but they won't happen out of nowhere. You might 'crash' while trying to figure out how to improve someone's memory, but you won't accidentally damage someone's mind just trying to talk to them. The learning curve depends on the power, but generally you can do the most straightforward things right away and have to figure out the complicated parts more slowly."
"Can you give me a ballpark of how common mistakes like that are? Most people probably crash dozens or hundreds of times learning to ride a bike, even if they're careful and trying hard -- should I expect learning to improve memory to be similar?"
"Can you give me a wild guess at proportions? How many people learn something like improving memory without making any serious mistakes -- nine in ten, five in ten, one in ten, one in a hundred?"
"Thank you, that's very helpful. Are mistakes like that typically fixable?"
"But I'm not likely to accidentally do damage that's much harder to fix than the thing I'm trying to do in the first place? Or genuinely irreversible?"
"It's possible that you might," says Morning, "but mostly only if something else also went wrong. For example, if you did something to someone's memory and then they also separately got brain damage, the result could be harder to fix than the individual problems would have been separately. Or if you tried to do two different improvements and got them both wrong, or tried to improve something and got it wrong and tried to fix it and got that wrong."
"You can hard-erase things, with three or four of me," says Embers, "but you know you're doing it, it's not going to happen by accident."
"...if I had the reincarnation kind of immortality, would I be in danger of doing something harmful with my powers while I was very young and didn't understand or remember the potential risks?"