Year 80 Month 4
I have my first material lab. It 'deconstructs' what I insert, into its underlying components, and the level of deconstruction is proportional to the energy supply and the level of the material lab
I insert a wooden plank.
First, it strips any skills out of it, and there are many skills. They appear as little blobs of light, and most of these 'skills' appear as 'unidentified'. I know the blobs represent skills because one of those blobs is actually readable [Fine-cut wood], and so, I draw the conclusion that all the blobs are skills. Besides, what else could those formless blobs be?
After that, what is left, is raw 'unskilled' wood in the shape of an ordinary plank. The lab's energies, slowly, breaks the wood apart, strand by strand, strip by strip. The plank peeled off, layer by layer, along the grooves of the plank.
Then, the separated layers, or strips, gets further broken down, into smaller pieces, almost little specks. After that, it splits up into its constituent components, like bubbles of air, blobs of water, blobs of... unidentified things, it appears like a piece of plank is flash-dried and drained of all fluids and air bubbles, and then, one of the last components is... mana? Or maybe that life-force thing that the souls generate.
First revelation of the day, unlike our world, mana actually exists as part of things, even things as simple as wood. Maybe mana replaces one of the primary fundamental forces? Or does it become an additional fundamental force?
Somehow, I think I should’ve known this.
Anyway, the remaining strips of dried, airless, manaless specks can be further broken down. But, I need material labs of a higher level...
"Well, do you want to further develop materials labs, or work towards magic labs?"
"I don't know. It's kind of cool that it break things down to these components. And actually, I can use it to analyse the poop samples."
"Ugh." Alexis rolls her eyes at the mention of poop, and she floats away, back to doing her own thing. She's busy anyway.
The materials lab takes the form of a single tree outside my inner circle of subsidiary trees, its appearance like any other, but its internal structure contains multiple little bubbles which store the separated materials. It's power-intensive, draining quite a bit of energy from the normal trees, with each 'separation' process. I suppose it’s kinda like those labs where they spin stuff until they split apart.
Anyway, back to the poop samples.
I use the materials lab to test out the poop samples, and... well, the first thing that surprises me is that there’s also some blobs of skills. Unidentified of course, but, seriously, who uses skills on their poop, either that, or it’s... some kind of passive that gets applied? Rhetorical question.
Moving on, I run the tests through few more different samples of poop, and then seriously, quite a few of them have skills. All unidentified. At this point, I’m wondering whether it’s unidentified because I don’t know them, or whether because the amount of it is so small that I can’t tell it apart. Maybe the ability to identify it because the quantity of skill is too small?
The poop splits apart to more components, like water, air, and the type of ‘materials’ that make up the poop... and also... mana? Oh great. There’s mana in poop too.
Now that the poop has been drained, dried, and it starts to break apart and easily separate into different kinds of metals, without requiring much energy. What's left is a collection of mostly unfamiliar metals, and some of the usual iron, copper and stuff.
Is this normal?
Deciding that I probably need a bit more of each type of metals to be identified, I break down more of the poop, including some fresh samples from the elves, and once I got about a handful of each ‘unidentified’ metal type, at different ratios.
Next, I ask Jura for any professionals that may be able to assist on such samples.
“I’ll probably need help identifying these metals...” There’s about thirty small plates of different metal types on top of Jura’s desks, all from splitting up the poop samples.
A blacksmith, and a merchant came along. It’s rather easy for Jura to ask for help, these people are here to curry favor anyway, he's the Counsel, he could give them big deals someday.
The two quickly went through the samples, easily identifying them. All of them are just some kind of local metal mineral, our world’s equivalent of sand, or tin, or iron, and stuff like that. This world’s metal types don’t exactly match ours, since they do have iron-like things that are stronger, and also some that are weaker. Variants, but different metal types.
Maybe they are alloys?
“Metals and elements in this world exist in a spectrum, rather than distinct types in my world... or I think they have a larger, more granular version of the periodic table?” Alexis is nerding out, she’s paying attention to the descriptions given by the merchants and smiths, and then ask. “You should buy some books, then I can explain this better."
“You can read?”
“Uh. Yeah? Why won't I know how to read?” Wait. Did I know she can read? “Ask the merchant whether anyone published any guide or summary on the metals and minerals of the world.”
I placed an order for three different tomes on materials and resources found in the world. I wouldn't want to make basic research from scratch, there should be some body of knowledge already in tomes and books.
Back to the poop analysis, that material-breakdown of knowing what the metals are kind of did... nothing? Though the merchants are able to identify the metals, it still doesn't give me an idea whether those metals are harmful, or beneficial to the plants, since their knowledge is more of use for trade, and metalworking. Also, I can't rule out that there’s most likely an ‘optimal’ level of each metal, and exceeding that would result in some kind of poisoning, and a deficiency may result in stunted growth and other kinds of problrm.
So, there’s to be more studies. More tests. I ordered the beetles to take samples of the dirt throughout the valley, around healthy trees, and around sick trees, to compare the composition of the dirt in the ground. Maybe there’s some minerals appearing in different ratios which may lead to something more conclusive.
“Frustrating isn’t it? There’s no skill that just tells you what’s wrong, other than something’s wrong.”
“On the contrary, I feel happy that at least I need to use my head. And because of it, I’m getting you, Trevor and Dimitree to run more tests.”
“Ugh, I was just thinking, wouldn’t the druids know the answer?”
“Asking the druids...” Hmm... that’s a good point. Let’s use this chance to test out the druid’s abilities.
So, with a bit of backhanded string-pulling, Jura managed to get the newly settled in druids to pay a visit to a small patch of sick trees, somewhere on the edges of New Freeka. “What do you think? I was told something’s wrong with these trees, but I can’t tell what.”
There’s four of them, all of them look middle-aged, dressed in robes and they kneel over the ground. They all have a wooden staff of some kind.
[Natural diagnosis] A druid calls out, and his wooden stick glows. A spirit-like wisp appears and enters the ground, and then after a while it comes back out.
“Hmmm... the wisp tells me there seems to be groundwater contamination. The ground’s concentration of metals are all too high. Particularly Whitetin and Green Iron.”
Oh I know that- Eh?!
Another of the druid touches the ground, picks up a bit of dirt and tastes it. I think he used some kind of skill there, but I couldn’t quite make out what it was. He looks a bit puzzled, and then he spits. “Agreed. Groundwater contamination, likely to be from the city. Counsel Jura, I suggest we move all the trees somewhere a bit further away.”
“Can’t you heal the trees or the ground?”
“We could, but usually the sickness will come back after about a month, unless you find a way to stop the groundwater contamination. The earth itself is contaminated, due to exposure to the city, healing the trees is just a temporary fix.”
“What do you normally do in such cases?”
“We move the trees. There’s usually no way of convincing the populace from changing how they live, just for the sake of some trees.” The druids shrug. “Trees are just... resources to most normal people.”
Jura just nods, looking around. The druids continue to touch a few of the normal trees.
“So... do you want us to move the trees, Counsel?”
“I don’t think it’s necessary, though.” Another druid speaks up. “They are just mildly sick. At least, they look better than they did a few months ago.”
Jura shakes his head, “Well, leave them here for the time being. We’ll know if things get worse if they start dying. Thanks for your time, druids.” Jura passes the 4 druids a bit of coin to thank them for their time.
As the druids and Jura walks back to New Freeka, one of them asks, “Counsel, may we have an audience with the Tree Spirit? I understand you speak to it often.”
"Erm... well, we are druids, we make it a point to meet and greet with the tree spirits of the land. Kinda comes with the job-class."
"Ah... that is a druid thing, no?"
The druids grin, "Yeah, kind of."
“I see, I’ll have a word with the Tree Spirit."
In the meantime, I am still trying to process what I just saw, ie, the druids actually have skills able to diagnose the problem, without the need for experimentation. And why do I not have a similar skill?
I have a few theories on this, but I think I want to see what they are up to.
As for the waste situation, its sort of under control. With my subsidiary trees' roots acting as a barrier and filter, the sewage's leakage to the greater valley is now limited.
The druids clearly can identify the problem, though their solution was meh. Moving the trees is a solution, but. I don't like being moved, and I think the trees won't like it too.
Personally, I think it’s not really an issue about meeting the druids, but I had to prepare, so I called Madeus and the Order’s top guys back in for explanations on the druids. “I’ll get straight to the point, I’ve met druids, many times in fact, but I don't know much about them. So let’s start from the beginning, what do they do, what are their powers?”
The leaders stare at each other, and they shift a little uncomfortably.
One of the priests goes first, “They’re tree-lovers? They tend to go around healing the land after the destruction left behind by the demon king. The druids are famous as the major supporter of the Restorers.”
“They can summon trees and animals, use wood magic, earth magic, and water magic. They also usually have some animal companions as well.” The captain’s pretty much reciting the norm, sounds like the usual myth around druids. Did the makers of this world somehow started off as dungeon masters?
“Anyone know the specifics of their jobs? Like... what do they do?”
“When I was a young child, a druid came and gave simple tips on farming. He tried to teach us the power to “boost fertility” and “speed growth”, but none of us picked it up...”
“Fine, clearly they have some ability to have earth and restoring powers. Are they like some kind of generic mage but with more of a focus on earth, wood and water?” I ask.
Madeus nods, “Close, though pure mages like myself think druids are... erm... a bit of a hack, since druids mostly borrow powers from their surroundings and neglect their own physical and mental training. So, druids pick their battlefields, such that they have more power and things to tap on, but that’s kind of predictable.”
“Okay, they have some kind of connection to the surroundings too. Anyone knows the history of druids?”
Everyone shakes their head. “Some say they learnt it from trees. Some say they learnt it from treefolk.”
“Fine, how many types and groups of druids are there? Who exactly are the druids in my valley?”
“They’re from the far southeast, and they are under the Hutan, one of the three largest groups of druids. The other two are the Tarimba and the Mulfic. The three druidic councils are just... well, kind of like guilds. They are separate but work together for common goals, like, restoring the land, and focused on training. The councils themselves are neutral, but their druids are free to work with any kingdom they want, though they generally speaking, most druids will avoid participating in the kingdom-wars.”
Okay. “What do they want?”
“I don’t know, really.”
“I think they’re just interested in you, Tree Spirit.”
“What do they want with me?”
Everyone shakes their head.
“Trevor, Ivy, what’ve you got?”
After my discussion with them, I consented to the meeting a day later.
The four druids, they came without their apprentices and assistants. They came fully in their druid-ish attire, that include some kind of headwear that resembles an antler’s horns, or a wolf headdress, elaborate and fancy carved woodstaffs, armor and all the rings they can wear.
“Dressed for combat, druids?” Jura chuckles, well, Jura himself is dressed up for the purpose. Sword in hand, armor.
“It is but a tradition of druids, to show our best to the tree spirits, especially when we face the tree spirit’s true body.” One of the druids say, but he looks nervous. My see-ing eye notices the subtle shaking in his hands.
The four stand in the inner circle of subsidiary trees, before my main body. Jura on one side, I have Horns hidden in the corner, but I think they can sense his presence.
They look around, and they sweat. They whisper a bit, so softly, or perhaps a skill, that I couldn’t make out what they are saying.
“State your business, druids.” Jura prompts the guests to start.
The four gave a small bow, “We are druids of Hutan, one of the many caretakers of the land and those who live on it, protectors of the forests and trees, and we... em... humbly, seek an audience with the great... Tree Spirit of the valley, as we... come to seek an understanding of the needs, and wishes of the Valley and it’s true guardian.”
“Flowery greeting.” I chuckle, they sound like they practiced it.
“They sound nervous.” Alexis whispers into my mind.
“Their body is tense. They might be up to something.” Ivy advises.
The four druid’s eyes start to have a green glow, and I felt my defensive instincts kick in. “Tree Spirit, we come in seek of your name and hope to gain your blessing.” Oh well, my roots are ready to strike at any time.
“Oh? I’m TreeTree.” What kind of blessing?
The four druids glance at each other. I think they gulped, but I’m not sure.
“Is that all you’re here for, druids?” Jura sounds a bit amused.
“No... we’d like to acquire the Tree Spirit’s blessing.”
“Uh... What blessing.”
The four druids share a glance. “Surely the Tree Spirit is testing us, we mean THE blessing.”
“Well, I’ve got no idea what you are talking about, so explain what this blessing is.” I really don’t know what blessing means, yet the four druids seem to take the question a bit... negatively? They don’t seem particularly keen on answering the question.
One of the druids step forth, he looks to be the youngest, but his staff and headgear the most flamboyant. “O great Tree Spirit, the aspect which we ask, we will give our share in return. We offer our services, and that of the druid council of Hutan which we represent. Our oath, as druidsmen, as guardians, to come to your aid, should you ever find yourself in peril.”
“Okay, but what’s an aspect?” I wondered then. So you introduced the concept of blessing and aspect, can you explain?
The first one kneels, both knees on the ground, his staff embedded in the ground. I felt a bit of magic swirl around me, it feels kind of pleasant, so I didn’t feel a need to react. I later would realise this was when I made a mistake, I should have stopped them there and then.
The second druid steps forth, standing next to the first. “O great Tree Spirit, behold the oath of mortals and the true mother, a promise as ancient as the world. Give us your aspect, and we shall give you ours.” Green glowing lines start appearing throughout his entire body, and then he kneels. The green glowing lines then flows into the ground, and forms a greenish glowing circle around the four druids. It still feels rather pleasant, and then I noticed I’m starting to get a little sluggish, like I’m drunk.
“Ivy, Trevor?” I try to prompt my tree-minds to help, but then I notice all of them, including Alexis are in a daze. They’re struggling to fight off whatever the druids are doing.
“What are you doing?” Jura and Horns notice, so they quickly jump in, attempting to break the ritual or spell, whatever that is. They’re both unaffected by the effects of the ritual. Maybe because it only work on trees?
They charge in, but a barrier of some kind repels them, pushing both of them far back.
Despite feeling like I had too much alcohol, like a happy drunkard, I managed to collect my will together to activate my anti-magic aura, which sadly doesn’t really work on that barrier or the ‘ritual’ that they are using.
Still feeling dizzy, I pull my mind together and I used root strikes on the two druids. A glowing wooden shield magically appears and blocks the root strike. The third druid steps forth.
“O great Tree Spirit, for the land requires us, requires all of us, all of our worship and care.” The third and fourth druid are both covered in green lines, and this time, I notice that their familiars are out. Two massive wolves, also covered in similar green lines and a small wood-like bear appears.
I’m starting to shake off that drunk-feeling, just a minute into the ritual, and so I unleash more root strikes. One of the druids calls up a large half-wooden totem with a beetle-head, and it creates a shield that blocks my root strikes. Each strike, puts a crack on the totem, instead of the shield, and the totem needs about 5 to 7 hits to crack.
Meanwhile, Jura’s easily stronger than the two wolves, yet despite how much pain or damage they receive, they just keep getting in his way, the two wolves really determined to stop Jura from interfering with the rituals. “DRUIDS! What is the meaning of this?!” He shouts, while trying to shake off the two wolves.
The druids focus on their ritual.
Two minutes into the ritual.
“O great tree spirit, we seek your power, to complete our oath to the true mother.” The fourth druid steps forth, and both of them enter into a kneeling position as well, just as the earlier two did. To protect the four druids, more familiars and creatures appear, two tiger-like creatures, a cat, and the owl. They are all large, easily the size of an elephant, their bodies covered in the green lines, and their job is to block Horns from entering the circle.
The two wounded wolves, now gets backup from the tiger and the cat. Jura then unleashes some kind of sword-skill I’ve not seen before, and it instantly dices up all the four animals.
Yet, the druid’s not done. Another wooden staff appears, this one has the head of a tortoise, and it glows. The glow restores the diced up animals, and makes them whole almost instantly.
Three minutes in.
The four druids are mumbling, singing some kind of hymn. Whatever ritual this is, it’s really quite fast. They certainly prepared for this.
The totem cracks and breaks apart, as my root strikes land a few hits.
It’s then, I got a notification.
[Four druids have each entered into a non-cancellable Druidic Aspect contract with you]
[New familiar contract type obtained : Druidic Aspect Contract.
Druidic Aspect contracts allow druids to use lesser versions of the master’s abilities]
[You’ve received 8 Druid Class seeds]
The glowing green lines on the four druids fade, and along with it, so does the barrier. The four kneeling druids stop kneeling, and one of them almost jumping, “We did it!”
“It’s not over yet. We still need to run!” The one druid clearly realise their not out of the woods just yet, and so they quickly start to run.
You four are not going anywhere! A wall of roots appear around them, and the four druids attempt to use their druid powers to interfere with the roots... but it didn’t work. Not this time.
But the root strikes got to the familiars and skewers all of them.
Jura, charges in, He’s furious, and the druids attempt to dodge.
“Don’t kill them, yet.” I mentally ping him.
Oh, I am gonna interrogate them before I do.
Maybe I should torture them.
Hang them on trees in the city for attacking me.
The tip of Jura's sword close in, now on one druid’s neck. “Take a step and I’ll cut it off.”
“All you four wanted was this... druid-style familiar contract?” I ask aloud.
I think I have a massive communication problem with the natives. Why do so many of my encounters with the natives end up like this? Why didn’t the druids just ask nicely?
Seriously. I like to think I am a reasonable person, I can be negotiated with!
Do I have a sticker somewhere that says, ‘Pushover. Just take whatever you want.’ written on me?
Jura, his sword still at the druid’s neck. “Answer the Tree Spirit’s question.”
One of the druid nods. “Yes. We made a contract for the Tree Spirit’s power. It-”
“I honestly didn’t know what you mean by blessing. Why didn’t you just have a bit more patience and explain? All of you wanted this familiar contract-like thing? This is the blessing?”
One of the druids mumble. “...yes?”
I’m annoyed. I'm sad. I'm angry.
The roots form a cage, trapping them all, thorns and barbs close in. They attempt to use their druid powers to move the roots, but its not working.
The four druids, realise how much deep shit they are in, immediately all four of them kneel, no, they literally prostrate themselves on the ground. “Our sincerest apologies O Great Tree Spirit! We... we thought we’d never get a chance to get this close to a Tree Spirit of your level of strength! We apologies for our... recklessness. Please don’t kill us!”
“What sort of stupid assumption is that?”
“Access to the true body of all the great tree spirits are heavily restricted and controlled, and here we are, four mid-ranked druids getting the chance to meet a great tree spirit, we had to jump on the chance!” One of them, started to justify what they did. His hands and head was on the ground, prostrating. “We thought we would never get a chance!”
“Fools!” If I could yell like a villain, or an evil angry emperor, I would. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill all the four of you right now.”
The cage's roots closes in, the thorns on the roots make little cuts, but nothing lethal.
I mean, how’d they think they’d get away with it? Come up to me, use this ritual-style spell, which gives them some level of protection, but do they think they can run away from me? Seriously. My roots span the valley, even if they succeed, I’d still be able to kill them.
They would have to knock me down for at least an hour, or two for them to even give themselves a chance.
“We... we really mean no harm. We really mean what we said during the ritual, we will come to your aid should you see it, us and the Hutan.”
Rubbish, I can protect myself as it is.
“We... we offer you our services. We’ll revoke whatever arrangements we had with the councillors! Anything!”
“I still plan to kill all of you. Not good enough.” One of the roots pretty much pokes the druid’s skin.
“I... We... we can arrange the archdruids to provide you with unique items. We can arrange for you to be in contact with other spirits!”
The druids pick up on my pause. “There are other great tree spirits too. We... the druid council of Hutan, our senior archdruid is in contact Guardian Tree of the Elf Capital, and also the Giant Lilypod City’s Spirit. If we tell them about you, we can make some arrangements for the spirits to commune.”
Well, meeting other similar tree spirits is something I always wanted.
“Please, please spare our lives and forgive us.”
“I recall the four of you say you are but ordinary druids. How can you arrange for us to meet with the other spirits?”
“We can’t, but our archdruids can. I... I’ll do my best, no, I’ll give everything to arrange for it. Please, don’t kill us.”
“I suspend your punishment. On a few conditions!
“All of you will remain under house arrest in New Freeka and the valley. Make any attempt to leave, and all of you will die. If you need to, call for more druids to come assist you with all the necessary arrangements for me to communicate with the other tree spirits. If any of you try anything funny, all of you die. You all will remain in Freeka as my guarantee, until contact with the other spirits are established. If I don’t have contact with the other tree spirits within a reasonable amount of time, of perhaps 3 years, all of you will die. And I want you to cooperate with me fully, and you will revoke your arrangements with the councillors. Doublecross me or attempt to use any kind of ritual or spell on me ever again, and I will not hesitate to put my roots through all of your skulls.”
The four druids breathe a sigh of relief. “Certainly, certainly.”
After I let the druids go, I called for a meeting again. I wanted to know what’s causing all these people to react so recklessly in front of me.
“Why did the meeting unfold in that manner?” I complained to the audience, the senior leaders of the Order, and when Jura explained how it went, Madeus pretty much facepalmed.
“To be fair, your main tree is really intimidating and scary. Even walking in the woods feels intimidating.” The priest seems able to relate to the feeling.
“Lausanne walks in and out without a problem.”
“Lausanne’s not a good example.”
It’s the Order’s Captain that offered a bit of honesty. “Counsel Jura, Lady Laufen and Lausanne are natives, and so they are oblivious to its appearance, but for the rest of us, being before your main tree is like standing before a council of monsters. The presence of the various ghosts and wisps around your main body, the crackle of magic radiating from every root, branch and leaf, how the surrounding trees feel like a prison... those strange trees around you, or that few trees that look like they’ve been burnt and charred by thunder... Seeing it for the first time, had nightmares. It’s a place for monsters, for... gods. The druids probably panicked, overthink, and probably did what they thought they wanted to do.”
Well, the layout of my main body is surrounded by the two tree-minds and their [root-brain complex], the soul-forge and all its extensions, the labs and pods, and then a ring of subsidiary trees, home to the beetles and spiders. The canopy is covered in webs and vines, and because of the effects of [soul forge : black], there are all the [soul collectors] floating around. And maybe Alexis’s body as well, which appears like a deformed mutant tree.
“Fine. Next time, all meetings will be held here. Only those truly deemed worthy will face my main body.” I guess that’s why access to a tree spirit’s main body is restricted, if they are all similarly high leveled, their presence is going to be incredibly intimidating.
Now I’m really curious what the other tree spirits are like.
Year 80 Month 5
Back to the sewage issue. Containment by way of subsidiary tree works, for now. Long term solution is still in progress. Broadly, the idea we have, is to use plants and algae to digest the sewage. I can’t help but feel that I’m a tree, so all solutions I develop must involve trees, kinda like how everything looks like a nail when I’m a hammer.
So, I let Alexis take the lead on the plant samples, so she conducts research on all the different kinds of collected plant samples. The hope is to develop some kind of poop-processing hybrid plant. There are some plants with slight tolerance, so the idea is whether that tolerance level can be amplified such that the plants are able to obtain some kind of resistance.
There’s promising results from algae and trees, but as with all research, more time and more samples needed. Well, it’s just time. I have plenty now.
Meanwhile, Trevor’s in charge of the materials lab, with a focus on creating filtration systems, whereby the different ‘elements’ of the sewage is separated. Different plants have different tolerance of elements, and if there is no single sewer-eating miracle plant, then it’ll have to be multiple plants working together. To do so, splitting the toxins is critical!
At the same time, Jura and the Order lobbies the Council to actually build a proper sewage system. The sewage system will then connect to a sewage tunnel, and that tunnel will move all the sewage to a designated spot out of town. That spot will be where my future ‘sewage-processing’ plant be located.
Jura phrased the argument to the council using ‘pride’ as the main emotional hook. I admire that.
How can any self-respecting capital city still rely on primitive poopholes? Can you call yourself a developed nation? If New Freeka wants to be respected as a kingdom, it got to have a proper sewer. Think about all the adventurers it will train, all the secret passageways it will create!
Sewers are a source of revenue! A source of jobs and experience for newbie adventurers! No more poopholes! More time for priests! Less regular [cleansing] needed because the poop can pile up out of town!
And so the Council debates the New Freeka Subterranean Sewage Project.
Year 80 Month 6
News of their presence spreads, through the merchants, through communication spells, through artifacts.
Demons, humanoid demons. They are humanoid, and yet have appendages that resemble weapons. Some in the form of spears, some in the form of swords or axes. They also seem to have particularly strange behaviors, building ‘fortresses’ and ‘camps’, which, never done in recorded demon king history.
“The news of the multiple rifts sends all the nations into high alert. When did the rifts appear so quickly?
Unlike all other occasions, the number of rifts are significantly more.
“TreeTree, you’ll protect us, right?” Lausanne asks.
“Yes, Lausanne. But if you had to fight them, will you?”
Lausanne pauses. She’s 11 now, and it’ll be another 9 years before she’s mature physically. If I can, I’d like her to stay out of it. “Yes. I’m not as strong as I’d like to be, but yes, I will protect my family and friends.”
“Good.” I don’t think she’s ready yet. But sometimes, you’ve got to throw them into the water.