Dec 07, 2021 7:34 AM
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"Lilaina," Escher supplies, starting to eat.

Trap nods his head.

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"Sentient bar," Lilaina repeats, almost all of her incredulity purely mental, and takes her red-with-white-froth drink and knocks back a large gulp. It's definitely what she's used to: it burns like dragonfire going down. (She is maybe indulging in unhealthy habits right now, but if there's ridiculous wizardry afoot she'd rather be a bit tipsy. It doesn't hurt her aim any.)

"And... Trap, you said multiverse. I don't suppose that just refers to all the planes the Elder Gods made, does it?"

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"That was mine and Ma-Esch's response," Raef agrees. "But she does good drinks and food."

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Trap laughs. "Given I've never heard of your 'elder gods' probably not. 'Sides which Esch has pretty much confirmed that a variety of the patrons here are from worlds other than our own. And far as her and the kid are aware, we only have one plane of existence really."

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Sentient bar with pronouns. Lilaina judges this is enough whimsy to drop her guard some and rubs at her face.

She sips her dragon bitter while she thinks about more planes. And then, because being incurably curious is what gets her into half her problems, asks, "What's your plane like?"

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"Loud," Esch says. "Violent. The Clans want their territories safe, and the raiders want what the Clans have. And then you have drifters like us who're just trying to survive."

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"What Esch isn't mentioning is the high prevalence of psychics, and the fact that the Seers try to fuck with everyone. And the fact the Clans can't seem to get along if you pay them."

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She's walking right into a quest hook and she's not sure she can or should stop herself. Damn her curiosity.

"...How do the Seers fuck with people? And what exactly is a psychic, in your world?" (Seer, psychic; Lilaina recognizes these as words for people who see the future, and not always very clearly. Things like what Escher did for her... not entirely familiar.)

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"The Clans all want their Clan to come out on top in any power struggle. Elael have all the Seers. They're quite precious about it in fact. And Seers don't like people who don't do what they have set out in their little plans. So...they try to get people who are making things unclear, or difficult for them, eliminated. Psychics...uh. Esch? Wanna take this one?"

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"Broadly speaking," she says, poking at her salad some more, "we can read minds. There's a bit more to it than that, but a lot of the other stuff requires a lot of power, and quite a few psychics don't have anywhere near enough to do anything more than read unguarded thoughts."

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"--How do I guard my thoughts?"

There were other things said, and she'll get back to them in a moment, but the frozen panic at the idea of someone pawing through her brain again-- (He's dead. He's dead. It's not him doing it. And she's grateful he's gone. But.)

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"I do apologise, but it's not rummaging if you're yelling," Esch says quietly.

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"That is probably not reassuring, Esch," Trap murmurs.

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"Oh, apologies? I. Am. Bad at judging these things? I-." She stops, closes her eyes, exhales through her nose. "One way is thinking quietly. But that can be hard to make...second nature. The most common method is...imagining a shell around your mind? Normally a kind of...safe space that is easy to keep in mind? I use the cockpit of HalfRise, my fighter. I've met people who use like...a library? Or. I dunno. I'm bad at giving examples. I try not to be inside these rooms." (She isn't saying she can't get in.)

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A safe space. Ha.

 

 

 

... Her room in her parents' house. Lilaina doesn't know if he never connected them with her or just never got around to using them against her, but the effect's the same: it's the one place he didn't get the chance to violate. She closes the door and draws the curtains. She's safe here, and so is her privacy.

"Did that work?"

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Escher looks impressed. "I'm not gonna lie and say it's perfect, but it's better than most first timers manage. Well done."

Raef's grinning at Lilaina as well, and Trap seems pleased.

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Lilaina catches the rush of relief and imagines shutting it in her old journals for good measure, but lets it make her smile. "Thanks."

She sips her drink and considers the problem of the quest hook she'd been chasing. Are these people even her responsibility? She's only the World Guardian, after all...

Fuck it. "Is there anything I can do for you as thanks for getting--" (stop being a coward, Lily, he's dead) "Sliske out of my head?"

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"The leech had a name," Escher says thoughtfully. "Huh. He never mentioned."

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"I actually think...uh. Given a couple of things, and what I know of your situation, you would have been hard pressed to stop Esch getting that thing outta your head."

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"We don't like brain leeches," Raef says emphatically.

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"Our pleasure," Escher translates. "Besides which. I'm not sure our problems are easily solvable."

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Lilaina thinks about that. "I'll take you at your word on how solvable your problems are." she says after a moment. "The Clans thing sounds like politics, anyway, and I'm more a hitting-people sort of person." (That's not quite accurate, but it's true that diplomacy's not her strong suit.) "Just figured I'd offer. I-- really don't know what kind of things he'd have had the chance to do otherwise." She's distracted: it might slip through that she's worried he might have brought about the end of her world.

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"Honestly, the Clans did spend a long period using 'hitting people' as a diplomatic method," Trap muses.

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"More shooting each other than hitting most of the time," Escher notes clinically, reaching over to take Raef's hand, squeezing gently. "And then they realised the end result of using that kind of force against each other. Much too late. And well. I suppose we can claim our universe has ended at least one world." Her demeanour is entirely blank, but the grief she's sending psychically is heavy.

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Lilaina blinks, retraces her thoughts, and thinks more firmly about closed door closed curtains private thoughts. "I'm sorry to hear that, about-- the end of a world. I've seen the remains of a few." (Yu'biusk's poisoned ground. Freneskae's blackened, anima-stripped landscape.) "My job nowadays is making sure it doesn't happen to mine, from people or gods."

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