Dec 14, 2019 1:13 PM
a story of the second age
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She's about to ask about Elves dying of grief when she is diverted by instead asking, Why'd he want the boats burned?

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So people wouldn't go back for them. People were planning to. It'd have been good to have them. He thought he couldn't win the war with a bunch of people scheming behind his back. But people were starting to realize that his judgment on this wasn't nearly as good as his judgment on the sort of things they were used to listening to him about, they were going to defy him, so -

I guess that's one of the mistakes that's more like killing people whose parentage you don't like, where the way to avoid it is mostly just to not do it.

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If people were prepared to sneak the boats back to get everybody else, why didn't the order to burn them turn into more fighting about whether or not to actually do that?

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Well, they wouldn't have fought him. There's not listening to an instruction and then there's drawing a weapon on your king. I think - I think it is actually nearly impossible to push people to that point, even if it's really what they should do, I think somehow they just don't think of it.

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Are humans here like that too?

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They are not. Nor are Dwarves.

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I should learn the local vernacular so I can read books on things like that.

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That sounds like a good idea. Or you could probably get them translated quite cheaply, but that - still enables some kinds of mistakes that wouldn't happen if you read it yoursef.

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I mean, I'm not an Elf, so I'm looking at a few months minimum learning curve even if I go full immersion, and much longer if I keep talking in English or by telepathy to most of the people I meet so I can have more interesting conversations than 'hello how are you where is the bathroom'. So if translations are faster than that I will probably like to have some. Then I can compare them to the originals as a language exercise.

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Okay. I'll ask around.

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Of course. Enough storytelling for now, or should I tell the next parts?

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They're at her diplomat house by this point. She opens the door and plops on a chair. "Go on."

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With my grandfather dead, my uncle ruled the Noldor -- though not for very long, because he was taken prisoner, and then it was his brother. The people we'd abandoned in Valinor crossed the land bridge. Many of them died doing so. When they arrived here we reconciled, tentatively. It took a long time. By fifty years into the war my uncles were surrounded almost entirely by committed loyalists, everyone else had left, and at the same time most of the people they trusted most were dead. By four hundred years into the war this was more true. 

At that point, the princess of a neighboring Elven kingdom with which we were on poor terms stole a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown. This was thought to be impossible, but, well, divine intervention enabled it.

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Where'd the ones who left go to?

Were the Valar like 'well we doomed them so better help this burglar'?

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The second host, led by my grandfather's half-brother, and the cities that they founded.

I do not know what the Valar were thinking. 

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What form does divine intervention take anyway? I'm not clear on what their powers are concretely.

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They differ. Most of them have an extraordinary degree of control over their immediate environs, for a meaning of 'immediate' that doesn't extend more than a few yards beyond the physical body they're using when they're out and about but which can extend many miles in a place where they've dwelled for a long time. They exercise it slowly, most of the time, though some can act very quickly in an emergency. They have osanwë like ours but - louder, more insistent. They're reliant on having a physical body to do most things in an area outside their environs, but it doesn't have to have the vulnerabilities of our bodies and they aren't destroyed when it is. Most of them are slow to remake their bodies but some are very quick at it and shapeshift frequently. They might have had the ability to doom us to fail in our war, though if they did it would have been an ability we don't othewise know them to have exercised. They made the world, though that took a very long time, so they can do all the things that implies; in particular, at the edges gravity behaves strangely, and I have read credible arguments that this is because they were patching up how gravity worked there individually and by hand. Varda made the stars. Collectively they made the sun and moon, and Maiar - lesser deities - tow them across the sky. Manwë, the King of the Valar, mostly sends giant eagles that do his bidding, and he sent one to rescue the princess. 

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...if Varda made the stars why was the sun a committee thing?

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The sun was made after Morgoth caused the cataclysm that darkened the whole world, from the last fruits of the dying trees that'd previously been its light source. I don't know if they were more challenging than the stars or just needed to happen much faster. I'd imagine more challenging? It's a lot brighter.

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Earth's sun is the same thing as the stars there. It's not even very big as stars go, though that's still enormous. It's just way closer.

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I don't think the other stars are fruits of Laurelin but I suppose it's possible. They'd have to be extraordinarily far away.

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Well, there's another difference, our stars and sun are huge balls of... approximately fire.

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Really?? How does that work?

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I don't know that much about it. I think it's mostly hydrogen? And it's in a fourth state of matter, technically not gas but plasma? And it's stupidly hot.

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