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Apr 07, 2020 10:37 PM
Leareth in Cascadia
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"You can probably get a better explanation from my head than you can in words."

Asher does not in fact know why magic must all come from God or Satan. He'd say that he believes it the same way he believes the world is round, but actually he does know several clever proofs of the world being round because he takes an interest in physics and he has taken no such interest in philosophy or theology. Every intelligent person Asher has ever interacted with has believed God existed. Where else would the world come from?

Asher is not sure this is a deep philosophical argument, but he thinks that you can see the nature of an artist from what they create, and the Being that created humanity and sunrises and ethics and so on must be good. And if that Being insists that He is actually Ultimate Goodness, well, Asher doesn't really see fit to contradict it. 

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Interesting. 

"Where I come from," Leareth says levelly, "most well-read scholars do not believe that our gods created the world, but rather that they came to exist within it at some point, as did our species and others at later points. They wield the magic of my world, and perhaps do so with greater power than mortals, but they were never the source of it. That being said, it does seem that the gods I know may be ontologically distinct types of entity from your God, so I cannot speak to your world, only to mine." 

Pause to frame the next words. Leareth glances around, checks his wards and extends his Othersenses, making sure that they are in fact alone. Just in case, he concentrates briefly and weaves a sound-barrier around them. (There might be microphones in those trees.) 

"I think," he says slowly, "that you are correct. Actions speak louder than words, and one can see the nature of an artist from what they have wrought. The being that created Hell, and decreed that all sentient beings will be condemned to eternal torment unless they demonstrate enough adoration – and does so even though this is knowably an unmeetable standard, that many will fail to meet it and be tortured forever – to my eyes, such a being is a petty tyrant. I do not care what else They have created, the good does not outweigh the bad. What are your thoughts on this?" 

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"I think I'm not omniscient and omnibenevolent and neither is the Gileadite government. I can trust that it's all sorted out in a reasonable way even if I don't understand how the heck it is."

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"I...see." 

(Leareth wants to know what Asher is really thinking, he's already in contact with Asher's mind and now he has some keywords to dig deeper. Asher is probably going to notice him probing toward feelings about the Eyes and the Gileadite administration and their relationship with God. At this point Leareth doesn't care.) 

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Looking in Asher's brain really, really pisses him off. He is aware that decking a telepathic magician is not going to end well for him and this is essentially the only thing keeping him from doing it. 

Whatever faith Asher has in the Gileadite government, being one of the Eyes for five years has destroyed it. All governments, by Asher's estimate, are about the same. Deseret worships demons, Cascadia murders kids, Canada is going extinct, and don't get him started on Europe. He just has the privilege to see where his government goes wrong right up close and personal. When he reflects on what God must think of it, when he doesn't often, he alternately assumes that His judgment is going to rain down on Gilead at some point or that this is all part of some complicated plan which Asher is too small to understand. 

(Asher, Leareth might gather, is not the world's most reflective person about matters of religion.)

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Leareth backs off from Asher's thoughts, lifting a hand. "I will leave your mind alone now unless and until you say otherwise. I have enough additional precautions in place." He's quickly adding a few extras. It helps a lot that Asher, un-Gifted, can't get a message out to his allies without being noticed nearly as easily. (And he hasn't seen any specific plan in Asher's thoughts to do so.) 

He remains silent for a long moment, thinking. 

"I believe you," he says finally. "It does seem plausible that government in your world is materially better than this one, when weighing up all the gains and harms," though, lacking any specifics, he also finds it plausible that one of the others is much better, or somehow even worse. 

Leareth looks into Asher's eyes. "When I first landed in this world, I quickly noticed this fact, and my initial reasoning was that I would need to intervene. Perhaps your world is like this, but it is not inevitable; I have seen, and been personally involved, with nations that held far greater flourishing. If I came here to ask you the flaws of the Gileadite government, with the intention of repairing them – is that a mission you would wish to join?" A slight smile. "My impression is that you would be well-suited to the task." 

(He told the truth, and he isn't reading Asher's mind. He's not shielding either though, which means that he's likely to pick up emphatic thoughts or emotions anyway). 

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The emphatic thought is that he does not trust that this guy is not going to read his mind more. 

"I don't fuck with people who summon demons."

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Leareth hides a sigh. 

"I am not sure what to say. I am, personally, fairly sure that I have not consorted with demons as a method to obtain my magic, and therefore that your ontology of the world is incomplete; just because all intelligent people you know agree on a certain understanding, does not mean that there are realms none of you had any way to know of.

"I did not intend to end up in this world, but now that I am here, I do not intend to leave until I address certain problems. Such as your government, eventually, and those of the other nations. However, another priority interceded, which is that your God of Ultimate Goodness is responsible for," and he wishes he'd brought a written list, "a torture world, murdering a very large number of past people, and – if reported correctly – allowing or perhaps supporting some bizarre scheme that warped human nature toward motives and actions that He has declared unvirtuous. And then eternally torturing people for failing to meet His standard. Also, going by the Bible, I would grant Him the blame for some very incompetently run civilizations." 

Think some more, and try not to scowl. 

"So yes," he says finally, "I am here to fight God. I am better prepared for this task than you might expect. It is, of course, the penultimate sin according to everything you believe, and besides which, it would not be unreasonable to declare it foolhardy and doomed to failure. Nonetheless. I request that you spend at least ninety seconds, as counted by myself, reflecting on what I have said. Truly looking at the world you were born into, at what you see around you, and deciding where you stand." 

And Leareth hesitates, for quite a long time. 

"Also," he says finally, "you...would be welcome to read my mind in return. I can hold a link that lets you do so, though you cannot go much deeper than surface thoughts. I cannot prove this method to you, of course, but I will tell you that a Mindtouch is impossible to fake in my world, and by common sense you ought to expect something so complex and changing to be extremely difficult to counterfeit. So. Consider, and my offer is open." His lips twitch. "I expect my mind to hold much that is of interest to you." 

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On the one hand, this is definitely what Satan sounds like. On the other hand, he could get information that he could take back to his superiors. Wise like a serpent, as they say. On the third hand, the Devil is the Prince of Lies, and this person seems to be at least a Marquis. On the fourth and deciding hand, he is soooooo bored.

"I would be interested in that."

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:Wait, penultimate sin? What's the ultimate sin? --Uh, general suggestion, 'I'm going to fight God' doesn't work very well as a pitch to get people on your side. Especially if they already think you are a demon.:

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:I assume that 'become God' would be the ultimate sin: Leareth sends back, rather snappishly. :Also, what do you want me to do, lie to him? Have him find out later that my true mission is something completely different from what I said? The world in which he will be the most valuable ally to us is the one where he has all of the information we do and is on board. Besides which, that pitch convinced YOU: 

...Possibly because Lev is pretty sure that he's going to Hell, as opposed to Asher, who is bizarrely secure in his belief that he's saved.

Leareth resists the urge to rub his temples. He doesn't have a headache, exactly, but the weird feeling of being not-quite-able-to-think is back. He isn't sure how much of it is because talking to Asher is starting to feel like addressing a brick wall...and he would rather that not be foremost among his surface thoughts when he lets the man read them. Reframe. Asher is...exactly what one would expect, for a clever, observant, politically astute person living in a world like this one.

He breathes in and out, checks the wards around the park once more, and then lowers his shields, and shapes his end of a mindlink, but without reaching with a probe. He stretches out a hand. "It is only really possible to hold a two-way link with someone un-Gifted like yourself if we are in physical contact. So. Up to you. If you are curious about something in particular, you can ask in ordinary speech, or think it very loudly." 

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