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Oct 01, 2020 2:47 PM
Abras Ashkevron at the start of the book 3 timeline (A Song for Two Voices)
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Abras hasn't thought about it that way before. He's wondered, occasionally, why the gods didn't do more to help people, but always assumed it was because they were only able to act in certain ways or were busy with their own god problems or something. Leareth is not by any stretch a reliable source on this, but.

"If that's true, that's . . . a problem. But that doesn't make it right to invade."

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"And I would not expect you and am certainly not asking you to think otherwise. It is costly. I do think that the long-term benefits exceed the cost in the present, and that courses of action can be justified on these grounds." 

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"If . . . whatever you want to do . . . would be so great for the people you'd be doing it to, why would you need to impose it by force, instead of advocating for some existing government to try it? Surely however likely the gods are to oppose it, they're more likely to oppose that plus a war."

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"I have tried it that way. Many, many times. Often with some success in the short run, but the gods do oppose it and They have more avenues to interfere when results are not - overdetermined." 

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This still feels like it doesn't add up. How is imposing his ideas of government, which for one reason or another he admits have never worked, on a conquered population who'll oppose them in principle, supposed to be more reliable than doing the same thing peacefully? He needs to back up, get more context.

"What have you seen that makes you think it's the gods opposing you? What form does their interference tend to take?" 

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"My plan will probably seem confusing to you," Leareth says, levelly. "There is some context there that I am not yet ready to share, since it is strategically sensitive and it would be rather silly of me to hand it to someone who is, for better or worse, currently my enemy. I am not resigned to our being enemies forever, though, it is simply going to take much more communication before I would be comfortable sharing anything more specific. History, however, I am willing to talk about. I might tell you about an empire that I founded a very long time ago, and the gods' interference with it?" 

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"Yeah, I can't pretend you have any reason to trust me. But I would definitely like to hear about your empire." Anything to make sense of how this person thinks and what he wants and what if anything can make him change his mind, and if Leareth is telling a story Abras isn't talking and potentially leaking information.

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Then Leareth will talk for a while about the early history of an empire he founded - not by conquest, initially, the region was in chaos and he was trying to rebuild a state-level government at all. He describes being fairly ruthless, using convicts for blood-magic because the region was very low in mage-energies and there were frequent storms and weather disturbances that threatened to cause crop failures, and he did the math and determined that this would save a lot more people than it killed, and the people saved would be disproportionately farmers' young children rather than bandits. He describes various innovations he tried to set up, and mage-academies and tax encouragements for mages to have more children. He mentions how he was repeatedly murdered by priests or killed in accidents that seemed very, very unlikely.

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Abras has about a hundred questions and doesn't ask any of them because he wants to hear the whole thing in some sort of order. He knows that people who are totally convinced of something can twist innocuous events until everything seems to them like more evidence of their theory, and that "everything and everyone is out to get me" is a common variant of that, but Leareth doesn't talk the way those people are described as talking, and, well, that really is a lot of times for one person to get suspiciously murdered. Abras is potentially going to murder him again and it still feels like an unreasonable number of times.

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Leareth can keep saying things until the end of the dream. He has a lot of historical anecdotes on hand, apparently; he must have a pretty good memory. 

He recommends some books to Abras. "One of them is by a Herald, in fact; have you read Seldasen on ethics? He was an exceptionally sane man, I think, and - we think alike in some ways. I suspect you would find it a very educational read, and we could speak of it later if the dream comes again." 

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"That does sound educational." He's definitely going to read it; the idea of a Herald Leareth sees as similar to himself is intriguingly implausible and he's been meaning to read past Heralds' writings on ethics anyway. "Until we meet again, I guess," he adds as the sky starts to come apart.

Once he's all the way awake, he writes down as much as he can remember, distantly grateful that none of it was heartwrenching revelations about Tylendel (who is still DEAD, and he needs to use Lancir's calming loop to finish the notes) and then shuffles down to the stables.

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Yfandes comes half-awake when he arrives. :Y'alright, Chosen...?: 

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:Sorry.: He would add "didn't mean to wake you" but it would feel like a lie; he was definitely hoping she would turn out to be awake. :I'm--nothing bad happened. I had the Leareth dream again.:

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:Oh. How did it go this time?: 

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:Better? I think? He mostly talked about his past lives and the empire he founded and how the gods keep killing him a lot. Or, well, people and accidents keep killing him and he thinks the gods are behind it.:

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:Huh! That's - I mean, it sounds kind of paranoid, right? But also the Tayledras say that the Star-Eyed works subtly, with small nudges, so - not impossible, I guess: 

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:Yeah. I wouldn't believe most people, if they said that, but with everything he says he's done, I don't know. And then separately there's his claim about the gods' motives, which also sounds pretty self-serving.:

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:Hmm, I was thinking the same. Which is a point against him, I think, even if it doesn't mean for sure that he's wrong: 

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:He might just be mistaken without it saying anything else about him, but yes. . . . I don't know nearly enough about gods, for how important they are.:

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:You could see if there are books on theology in the Heralds' library. Or find priests to talk to in Haven, I guess: 

Yfandes' mindvoice has a hesitant, uneasy quality, though. 

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:Yeah . . . Possibly some of the things I want to know are things nobody knows, but it's worth looking for books anyway.:

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:I've heard the Temple of Astera has a lot of rare books, and they might have more on theology in particular. Being a temple and all: 

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:Yeah, that sounds like a good place to start. Anything else we should think about before I try to sleep again?:

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:Hmm. Not that I can really think of?: Nuzzle. :I love you, Chosen. I'm sorry you have to deal with this, but - we'll figure it out. Together: 

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: Thanks.  It's a lot better than having to deal with it alone.: He curls up with his head on Yfandes' shoulder and dozes fitfully, wondering why these dreams couldn't happen to someone better equipped to handle them, until it's a time when getting up is more reasonable than trying to sleep.

The next time he has both a free hour and the ability to face the prospect of doing things at the same time isn't for a while, but when it comes he goes to the temple of Astera. He's never been before, but it isn't hard to find.

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