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Sep 28, 2020 8:27 PM
vanyel meets sad cam in milliways
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It's two coppers.

"What kind of time investment are we talking about here? I'm not planning to leave Milliways till I find someone who can help with my million dead people."

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"It depends if you pick it up quickly? Might be a candlemark or two, might be a lot longer, I haven't tried to teach un-Gifted people before. But I understand if it's not your top priority." 

Vanyel forces his teeth to un-grit. "...Given what is your top priority, I should make a plan for how to ask the Shadow-Lover, so you can at least cross that off if it's a no-go. And, um, there's someone else who probably can't do it himself, but who would definitely know for sure if there are any other powers in this world to investigate. I'm almost certain he would want to help given the payoff. The problem is the 'almost' – I can't verify what he wants or whether he's on, er, the side of good. I'm trying to think if there's a way that your making-stuff could solve that." He takes a deep breath. "I probably do need the whole story and all the context, to make either of those asks." 

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"Right, that's reasonable.

Uh. I guess the short one without all the extraneous details is - I made a deal with an evil god. He has to stop... doing evil. That's verifiably enforceable. Unless I made a mistake with the wording it's a done deal. What he wanted was - not even the whole million of them, just fourteen - fourteen other gods dead. Only way to do it was to - destroy the planet. Without warning anybody.

I can put most of the planet and people back."

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Vanyel absently gulps the rest of his drink while trying to figure out what in all hells is an appropriate thing to say. 

"That's really impressive," is what comes out.

Which is true but probably not helpful. "I, um, I mean – I'm sorry, that sounds awful, I'm...amazed that you're sane – I don't mean any offense by that, sorry..." He's doing such a terrible job of this. "I don't know what mechanism your world has for enforcing a deal like that–"

And Vanyel wants to know, it's exactly the sort of thing that might imaginably solve his little trust problem with Leareth (who he's pretty sure would also be impressed with Cam's scheme), and he wants to know how 'making stuff' lets Cam bring back specific people who were dead, but he so, so incredibly shouldn't ask right now, and especially shouldn't ask if it might extend to his world...

"But if you were justifiably confident it would work," he says, "if you're right about pulling it off, and if 'evil god' means the magnitude of awfulness that I'm imagining, then you did, well, at least think you did the right thing. I'm sorry you had to. I really hope you find someone who can help you make the cost lower. With those million people. I'm going to try to think through exactly what other details I need before I go, er, ask, because I'm sure you don't want to talk about it any more than you have to." 

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"Most of the people in that universe were - copies and copies and copies of people he'd captured, because they were a kind of person he could copy as many times as he wanted, and make experience time a lot faster, and then torture constantly. And he was definitely already doing it before he could offer to stop to get the other gods murdered. Uh, that kind of god - the fifteen big ones and the million-odd littler ones, collectively Ainur - plus a couple of the regular non-god species of the world - can make binding oaths. It would normally not make sense to trust an Ainu's oath because they have to actually speak it and not use an illusion or something but it turned out - tested with a friendlier one - that I can selectively conjure only the audio recordings of real spoken words, so I could tell if he'd really said the wording we gave him or not. - I was working with some people who were, uh, conducting a more recognizable kind of war with the evil god."

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Vanyel's mind spends about three seconds diving into all his questions about kinds of people that can be copied and made to experience time faster and what that even means, catches on the 'torture constantly', and goes into lockdown, that's something he definitely isn't going to think about right now. 

"Smart that you tested it," he says faintly. "I'm glad you had access to a friendlier god, must've been helpful. I, um..." Ask the relevant questions, he reminds himself, not all of them at once. "Is the fact that the evil god could make copies of people related to why you can bring most of the people back? And it's the million little gods – the beings that could make binding oaths – that you need help with?"

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"Yes and yes. The copiable people have - I'm guessing here based on your clothes and your money what kind of tech level you have, correct me if I seem to be guessing wrong - they have complicated tiny machines inside their heads, and everything that goes on in their brain, the machine records. If they die, you can dig out the machine and put a new body around it and they're good as new. If you're an evil god, you can dig out the machine and take the recording and re-write it to more and more machines and then without even needing a body they can think and feel. Also the machines sent their information to one of the fourteen dead gods and he could make replacement machines and bodies, if he wanted, to bring them back to life, and there were also some devices one of these people invented that took copies too. Makers can't make minds. If I made a copy of, say, you, it'd just lie there. Nothing smarter than a snail works right when we make it. But I can make the bodies and the machines and then copy the recordings off those devices, since I was working with the inventor's people. That' s how I'm putting the people on the destroyed planet back. I'm about halfway done."

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"That's... I followed that but barely and it makes my head hurt," though how much of that is because it's horrifying, "and I...have more practice thinking about weird hypotheticals than most people in my world. So it's possible you overestimated our tech level, I don't know." Vanyel rubs his eyes. "So, right, I see how that's a case of just making 'stuff' – although I think it means your maker ability is a lot more powerful than I thought, if you can make a specific item without actually knowing all the specifics of it, just sort of...having a label? Magic in my world isn't like that, you get exactly what you put in."

Stay focused. "Anyway, so it wouldn't apply either for a person without a special machine in their head, like me, or for a god. Er, what kinds of beings are gods, in your– in the world where this happened? Are they magical? People in my world have spirits, that...get stored, sort of, if their body dies," and he's not going to think about that either, thank you, "but I assume that's related to how magic fits in with other natural forces here, so it won't necessarily hold for those gods even if they are magical in some sense." 

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"Ainur are magical. They're something like a region of space in which they can control matter; they can use this to build and operate a body, but they aren't themselves the body or any part of it, and can do without one. And yeah, I can make stuff based on a label, like title and author for a book, but I can't get too cute with it."

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"Huh. How does one kill an Ainu, then? If they're not really embodied or reliant on a body and they control the space around them? I'm also curious what 'too cute' looked like, er, but that's less important." 

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"Uh. Is your planet understood to be a sphere?"

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"Yes, we do have astronomy and some scholar somewhere did an experiment once – 'understood to be' might imply more of the population knowing it than I think does, but I am fairly sure our planet is spherical. Why?" 

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"Planets are spherical because stuff, in general, goes toward other stuff; a planet is a lot of stuff that has done this and accretes in a round fashion because that's the way it can do it most efficiently. This is also why toward the planet is down.

"I made a lot of very very dense stuff in the middle of their planet. This didn't just eat the planet, it also turns out to have weird effects on space itself."

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"Oh! I think I read a treatise once with a theory about that. Um, not the part where it eats the planet or gets even weirder, about that being why planets are round. What sort of weird effects?" 

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"...I have an engineering education but not really a physics one. My deal with Melkor was to hole the planet - dense stuff is called 'black holes' - and was explicitly still on if it didn't work as long as it wasn't because I warned them to do magic about it. So exactly how it would kill them wasn't really at issue except that he thought it would work."

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Possibly Vanyel needs to acquire a 'physics education', whatever that is. Not now, though. Focus. 

"Right. So if you, er, mess up the area-of-effect for Ainur badly enough, like by doing that to their entire planet, they die. Tell me if this is a useless line of questioning you've already been down, but...what does that actually mean? I understand what it means for a human body to die, physically, and what it means in our world for the spirit, soul, to get broken off from the body and go elsewhere. Do you know what happens to the Ainu that died, magically speaking, given that it basically is just a field of magic?" 

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"Uh, no, but I could get more detail if any of the survivors from the other inhabited planet will talk to me. They might not. They're... upset. They can talk to each other inst- at any distance. And were talking to the ones I killed, in the background."

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"Oh." Vanyel holds back on the 'that's horrible.'. "I'm calling that information costly to obtain, then. Probably not worth trying before I find out if the Shadow-Lover would even be willing to work outside my – his – world. I'm going to sit here for a bit and think if there's anything else he would be likely to ask me." 

Vanyel thinks. 

"If you know anything more about how their communication at a distance works, in the local magic, that would be useful? I might be missing something else obvious that I should ask."  

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"I was about to say 'instantaneously'. You know how thunder is slower than lightning?"

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"Yes – why?" It's going to be some other bizarre law of nature that Valdemar hasn't discovered yet, like how very dense things eat planets, isn't it?

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"Light has a speed. The two planets are twenty five years at that speed apart. Uh, I think the translation effect is okay at units because I have a guess at what a candlemark is. But the Ainur talking to each other are really instant."

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"Right, so they use magic to talk much faster than if they were, I don't know, beaming a giant flashlight back and forth? Is that very unusual?"

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"Light is the fastest non-magical thing. The copiable people - they're called Elves - had invented ships that could go anywhere five days, but they didn't do that by traveling at a speed, they did it by doing some other thing I don't actually understand which made the transit time anywhere in the universe five days."

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"That's – what does that even, how–" Not. The. Point. "Sorry. I'm going to think about this for a moment and then try to summarize." And maybe Vanyel will ask Bar for another delicious drink. He wants something to get ready for his upcoming appointment, the fact that he presumably has to ask Yfandes for help planning which means explaining, and he needs to go – right.

"Also, I forgot to ask. Door stays a door to here if someone's holding it. Can I, um, call someone else to do that?" Yfandes may or may not fit inside but could at least prop it with her body – but not if she's helping him orchestrate a deliberate near-death experience, and Savil is an even worse proposition than Yfandes... Lissa, maybe. She might actually be incurious enough to hold a door to an otherworldly room and make conversation with a winged tailed stranger without asking him any more questions. 

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Yes, anyone from your world can hold it open to your world.

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