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Sep 29, 2020 8:35 AM
Abras Ashkevron at the start of the book 3 timeline (A Song for Two Voices)
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:Yes. For all it sounds unlikely I do think it's less unlikely that he's telling the truth. Which means, if I need to fight him, he'll be even harder to fight. I can't just use Final Strike like I do in the dream by default. He'd only come back again.:

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:Hmm: 

And Taver is silent for a long time. 

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:You've shocked him: Yfandes sends. :Trust me, it's not easy to do that! He wants to go off and think: A longish pause. :...He asks that we not tell anyone else in the meantime: 

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:I won't tell anyone.: Then, only to Yfandes, :Any specific reason why not, or just general caution in case this whole thing is an attempt to manipulate us somehow?:

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:He says he has a bad feeling. Not sure of anything more than that, but - I've got a hunch in that direction too: 

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:Okay.: Abras has all sorts of bad feelings about this; it's good that someone has specific ones, at least.

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:...All right, what next? Is there anything else to check?: Pause. :Possibly you should just take a nap. I know you didn't sleep well: 

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:It seems insane to say that a possibly immortal evil mage is planning to invade and the best thing I can do about it is take a nap, but I can't actually think of any better ideas.: And nerves can only substitute for sleep for so long. :Maybe research the Eastern Empire, later, since it's the closest thing we have to a lead on who he is.: 

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:I think you'll be much better able to think of next steps when you're not dead tired, and besides, it's not exactly urgent. Whatever he's up to, he's been doing it for a while โ€“ immortal or not: 

(Her mindvoice hints at which of those she thinks it is.) 

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:True enough.: And he can turn back towards his rooms and hope nobody asks him what's on his mind, since he can't answer honestly.

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Savil passes him in the hall, but she's looking very preoccupied herself, and just greets him and gives his shoulder an absentminded squeeze. 

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Abras nods back, and goes to his room, and has a fitful nap full of non-magical dream fragments featuring snowy mountains and Taver and math and poorly-defined things that need to be done.

He keeps spending time in the library whenever he can, but now his studies are more focused on history and especially the history of the Eastern Empire.

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And a few weeks later, he's back in the strange snowy dreamscape of the pass. 

"Herald Abras.โ€

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"Leareth." Somehow now that he's in the dream again he knows the man's name, in that weird way where dreams come with background knowledge.

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"I was not sure if we would have a chance to speak again. Did you check the items I suggested?"

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"I did. They were as you said. Which raises a lot more questions."

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A slight nod. "Yes. Ask ahead." 

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"Well, for one thing, why keep immortality a secret? You could have all the money and power anyone could want just from selling it." Abras can think of a handful of possibilities, but none of them entirely convincing, and even if the answer is a lie it could be an interesting one.

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"One, the various gods of this world do not exactly approve; I was able to slip my preparations past Them because They were not yet expecting it, but forewarned, it would be much harder, and risks giving them information on my method which They might use to destroy me. Two, the method that actually succeeded in my case has some serious downsides and does not scale."

A thin smile. "Also, money and power from selling it is not what I would be trying for, if I could share it. I wish that someday, everyone will have the opportunity to be immortal, whether or not they can pay for it. Unfortunately, that is a much more difficult project than I anticipated in my youth." 

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Abras was expecting "it doesn't scale" but the gods thing was not at all on the list of excuses he had come up with.

"The gods don't want people to be immortal? How do you know that?" Leareth probably doesn't know the thing about Companions and Abras definitely isn't going to tell him, but it's some evidence that the gods are willing to make some people at least somewhat less mortal.

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"To clarify, it at least appears, from Their behaviour, that the gods do not want me to be immortal. There are a few cases I know of where They assisted others in attaining what one might call immortality, or - created immortal servants. I gather this because of the number of unlikely coincidences resulting in my death, in the past, and also suspicious failures on the few, early occasions that I did try to arrange immortality for others." 

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"I see." Probably the gods don't like him because he invades countries and similar. Also from what Yfandes said and what he said it sounds like possibly his immortality involves blood magic, but--he doesn't want to let himself speculate down that road.

"Does that ever make you think you might be doing something wrong?"

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Blink. "No, not especially. I do not consider the values and priorities of the gods to be ones I ought feel particularly bound by." 

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Also blink. "Do you think the gods are mistaken about right and wrong, then, or do you just not care about doing the right thing at all?" Abras really hopes Leareth has some sort of ethics, because he needs to eventually either persuade Leareth not to invade Valdemar or kill him and he's not sure how you go about persuading people who don't care about doing the right thing.

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"Oh - I apologize for the lack of clarity. I mean the former. I have been trying to improve conditions in the world on various dimensions for a very long time - starting with peaceful methods that did not involve any invasions - and the various projects I have attempted fail, usually due to unlucky coincidences, far more than chance would predict. It is difficult to guess the motives of gods, and they have never seen fit to talk to me, however, my guess is that they prefer stability and predictability in the world. Which means that they are an enemy to anyone who thinks that the current world's problems, starvation and disease and and banditry and poverty and many others, ought to be solved." 

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