Oct 23, 2018 9:16 PM
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dragon may in nenassa
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"Well, for people who aren't dragons, learning magic is dangerous. There's a medallion shortage, but that comes up only a handful of times in a person's life, it's not a problem that really eats at you once you've saved up enough for one and so have any of your kids who want them and stuff. No one knows how to hide Avalons anymore, but the ones we have still work - those are little towns illusioned so humans don't run across them by accident. So it's this really dangerous thing you could learn to do and then if it didn't kill you you'd be able to, what, turn invisible? Not that useful in most people's day to day - and drawing out the spells is tedious - so it's not a growing field and books don't sell well - so you'd have to be pretty determined to find one -"

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"Ohhhh dear. Yeah, that makes sense."

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"And I really wanted to learn magic, and I guess some other people do too because you can buy modern magic items in stores in Avalons, but it's not common and nobody's recovered all our lost knowledge yet. But I'm hoping to - uh, if I ever go home, I'm hoping to learn programming and automate rune derivation and first draft spell composition, plus figure out medallions, and maybe blow open the whole secrecy thing because that can't go on forever and it would be better to do it in a controlled manner."

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"That sounds like about what I'd be doing, if I'd grown up in your world."

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"A kindred spirit. So, by extension, if I'd grown up in yours..."

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"My major project is trying to end slavery, obviously, but next on the list after that is figuring out how to make it possible for dragons to safely reveal their existence to the rest of the world."

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"How're you going about it?"

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"Working on the province first. Grandfather was treating his humans... mostly adequately... before Father came along, and Father made some improvements before he met Mother and even more improvements afterward, and I'm trying to actually get people to the point where they can play the role for outsiders but don't think of themselves as ours - and meanwhile trying to figure out if I can get an angle on the Emperor. I know exactly one encouraging fact about him, which is that he's extremely direct and straightforward and contemptuous of dishonesty, so if I can get to know him and somehow convince him that perhaps we shouldn't be keeping humans as slaves after all, I won't have to worry about him nodding and smiling and stabbing me in the back ten minutes later like I would with literally any other elven noble who is not one of my own personal family members. —That's a slight exaggeration but not a big one; the culture is... pretty bad about that sort of thing."

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"It seems like you'd have to be dishonest or at least lie by omission a lot to get to know somebody without revealing, like, your complicated species."

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"Yeah, that's among the many reasons why I haven't yet tried this. He's also famously volatile - nasty temper, negligible self-control - and while he really shouldn't try to fight me over a minor disagreement, I can't guarantee that he won't, and although I could probably actually kill him in single combat if I really had to, the effects on Nenastine politics would be... explosive. Especially since I'd probably have to reveal at least one of my complicated bloodlines to do it. So, hanging back until I've got a better idea of how to handle him."

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"An idea based on learning more about his personality or something else?"

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"Mm, not necessarily just about his personality - I'm seventeen and he's several thousand, I've got a lot of context to catch up on if I want to properly understand his perspective, even though most of it probably isn't crucial?"

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"I meant, you're leaning towards a more persuasion-flavored solution as opposed to, like, arranging to deal with the fallout after killing him in single combat."

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"The fallout of killing him in single combat would be... bad. Better to at least sink a few years into the persuasion angle before giving up on it and moving to focus on violence."

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"Should I be imagining something more elaborate than what happens if people assassinate evil rulers of countries where I'm from? What's the deal?"

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"He doesn't have an heir or even any especially close relatives, so thirty different people would each immediately make a separate violent grab for the throne, and if I had to reveal I'm a halfblood they'd also all be trying to kill me at the same time, and if I had to reveal I'm a dragon they'd be trying to kill me and heading out into the desert to exterminate the dragons. Also, even if the Emperor absolutely started it and it was definitely all his fault, and even if everyone knew that, I and by extension my family would still be in big trouble for breaking the taboo against seriously harming another elf of the same social class - the proper civilized way to resolve an argument that gets too heated for ordinary diplomacy is by having specially trained slaves fight to the death over it."

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"- wait, how would they know where to go to exterminate the presumed exterminated dragons?"

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"It's really the only place they could be if they're still on land, and in fact many people are superstitiously afraid that there may still be dragons there. If they knew there were still dragons there they'd kill them, but it's considered childish to openly believe in dragons still existing, so anyone proposing taking an army into the desert to make really sure would look like an idiot."

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"Gotcha."

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"It's actually a really convenient level of disbelief. If nobody was superstitious about dragons, somebody probably would've moved into the desert by now."

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"It's not one of those inhospitable deserts? Or it could be made hospitable?"

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"Conjuration can do a lot for an initially inhospitable climate! But it's definitely easier to live somewhere that was already capable of supporting life when you got there."

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"Instant farmland, just add water."

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He giggles.

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"I didn't think that would translate but I said it anyway."

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