A short-haired woman in outlandish clothes falls from a point six inches below a ceiling, and onto a hapless bystander.
"Offer people money if you're their guest, or imply to them that the things they give you aren't gifts that they're happy to give. Lack of hospitality is blasphemous. It's the sort of thing that stirs up the wrath of the gods. I'm an atheist and I'm twitchy about it."
"- okay. I mean, I wouldn't do that if someone invited me to their house, but I literally fell on you. I will bear in mind that it's a broader custom here, thank you."
"If someone came to my house in the country, I'd offer them food and a place to stay for the night no matter what, because-- you have to do that."
"I'm really glad you're an atheist because I don't think this religion is practiced where I'm from and if it is I don't know about it, so I haven't the first idea how to be delicate about asking what else I need to know. Tell me, please. After arranging food, I'm very hungry."
The cook makes up a plate of cheese and fruit and bread and cookies.
When she's started to eat, Leo says, "what gods do you worship, then?"
"I'm an atheist too, but monotheism is popular." Om nom nom bread and cheese and fruit and cookies.
"Belief in exactly one deity. For some reason it is still called this even when people consider it very important that the deity in question is also tripartite in some weird way."
"I don't think we have any of those. It is obvious to everyone that there's more than one god, because there's more than one religion."
Okay it's time to cheat with magic. She covers for her lookahead by contemplatively chewing, then goes ahead and actually says, "I'd been under the impression that when you said you were an atheist, you meant you were of the belief that there are no gods at all."
"There aren't, but it would be even sillier to believe that there's only one god, when everyone else's reasons for believing in their religion are as good as your reasons for believing in yours."
"I think among monotheists it's popular to believe that all monotheists are attempting to worship the same entity but in different ways and everyone else is wrong about it, and maybe they think polytheists are being deceived by other non-deity supernatural entities or genuinely have worse reasons or something, I haven't extensively studied the epistemology of religious people."
"We do the first thing too. Many of the gods' epithets are actually the names of gods from other cultures that we incorporated into ours, and it's popular even today to do correspondences-- that such-and-such a god is actually Bacchus, or Mercury, or Juno."
"We remember those names, we name planets after some of 'em, but I don't think anybody still worships them - the Norse pagan deities still have a little tiny bit of a following, the Roman ones not so much. Also in non-planet-naming contexts we often use the Greek names."
"That's strange. Don't you have your own gods to name planets after? --I guess if you only have one then you wouldn't have enough names."
"Yes, also people usually just say 'god' and don't refer to him by a proper name. Naming planets after Roman deities is like making a fiction reference that everyone will get that is equally inoffensive to everyone, kind of, because they're from old and well-known mythology and nobody ascribes significance to them anymore besides thinking they have cool names and cultural baggage."
"...Man, I'm an atheist, and I still feel uncomfortable about 'nobody ascribes significance to the gods anymore.'"
"Well, apparently here none of the religions I've heard of as modern going concerns were ever invented, or at least haven't made their way to Anglia popularly by 2063 - is Anglia on a large island between mainland Europa and a smaller island?"
"I'll get you a map."
The country names and lines are different, but the map is recognizably of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Instead of the Americas, there are chains of variously sized islands.
"It's a little out of date because of the war."
"What war would that be?"
Leo points to Gallia, which is spread over most of Europe and a little bit into Africa.
"Cyrus, the emperor of Gallia, is trying to take over all of Europa."
"Name doesn't ring a bell. Well, not everything's gonna match. Is this an immediate danger, like, is it at all likely someone will storm this house?"
"In general, no, the fighting is on the Continent. In this house specifically, you can observe that when a strange dominant fell from my ceiling my thought was 'oh, this is Ashley's fault somehow,' and judge from that how likely you are to encounter Cyrus's spies, gentledom adventurers, and other such people."
"Noted." Is anyone going to show up in the next hour?