Belrun is so close to getting this damned flu strain to calm down in this one egg. She copies the change across to a few more eggs' worth, iterates, writes everything down, and Fetches the egg that is getting scary into her pot of simmering water before it makes a break for it. It's getting on toward dark and if she keeps working she's going to have to do it by candlelight, and she doesn't like that - it's already too easy to bump into things when she can see them. She calls it a day and closes up the lab for the night and heads out to walk over to the university cafeteria. It's a nice evening, and it's Flatbread Night, and she's in a generally good mood.
"...why do you think you can build something that does that if it's a god but not if it's a power source for a god?"
"For the same reason I have not been able to build anything similar to a Heartstone despite knowing of their existence for literally fifteen hundred years. The internal structure of a god, that serves this purpose, is not one that can be neatly separated out and imitated in isolation, it seems. It requires true intelligence to make a process with enough robustness to control those forces, not merely draw on them as a weapon would. At that point one is already making something godlike. I suppose I could try to make it as minimally godlike as possible, and then power the rest of the god from it; I have considered this, but it would not be that much cheaper, and I am less confident in getting a value-aligned god out of it, which is kind of the most important piece here."
"A person couldn't control it?"
"I cannot imagine so. It would require sensory modalities that people are not set up to process - the same way Companions require some god-fragments to handle direct contact with Foresight, except moreso - and even if that were not an issue, it is very hard to imagine a setup that would not result in the person in question instantly vaporizing. I have done some experiments in this field, but it is kind of costly to do experiments that run a high risk of exploding one's researchers."
"Before you said the exploding part I was wondering if you could talk an actual Companion into it somehow if you got one that was amenable."
"I do think a Companion would have a better chance of making this work! However. Exploding. It is possible for mortals to interface directly with very large quantities of energy, on the scales of Heartstones if not complete gods, but - that is another place where the Heartstone itself is semisentient and doing a great deal of work to facilitate this."
"What if you got a bunch of Companions on board? You were pleasantly surprised about Vanyel, he could maybe take his own Companion's temperature on the idea - it's a much more palatable idea if it doesn't involve murdering a staggering number of people."
"I suppose it is worth considering. I - kind of expect it to backfire in some horrible way, given the Companions' degree of link to a god - and I do not expect to be able to convince them anyway, but it does seem worth at least considering taking the risk, for some chance of not needing to murder a staggering number of people. I will think on it."
"I'll try to sound Vanyel out a bit without giving anything away. I know you've been talking to him a long time but..."
"You may be equipped to notice different things than I am, including perhaps things about him I have missed. Also you are - I am not going to say you are actually harmless because that is very false, but you appear friendlier and less intimidating than I do, at least."
"I have historically been harmless, and do not advertise my theoretical capacity for harm."
Nod. "All right - we should review the plan of what to say to Vanyel if and when the dream comes again and you are in it. I will ask directly what his intentions are on sharing information with King Randale or others. You will try to sound him out on the matter of his Companion, without giving too much away. Possibly you will explain Urtho and the Cataclysm. What else?"
"Is the thing where the Cataclysm is coming back around shareable?"
"...Let me think. Maybe? I think I would prefer to share it after the rest, and - possibly not in the same conversation, I am hesitant to hit him with too many things at once."
"One, it will make more sense if the part about the original Cataclysm has already been covered. Two, I think it is more likely he would feel some obligation to share it with King Randale? Since it has strategic relevance for the future. So I would like to be more confident of whether and how he is likely to do that. None of these are fully conclusive reasons, though, so I am open to being persuaded otherwise if you have different considerations."
"Mm, I was thinking it kind of provides motive for having a huge potentially country-invading operation and also just in general people deserve to know? The gods already do, right? But you're right the initial one will be useful context."
"Maybe I ought to be less bothered at the concept of telling him even when I cannot predict his reaction – you are right, this is his world as well and he has a right to know. That being said, it will not happen for centuries and I have held back from him for the past decade-and-some. Another few weeks will make little difference, I feel."
"Okay, but - we can't coordinate mid-dream with Mindspeech, he mentioned mind-affecting Gifts don't work there - so if he's like 'why do you even HAVE an army, why don't you retire and take up painting', or something -"
"That is a good point. If that does come up, probably we should arrange a signal of some sort, and if we both agree then we will tell him?"
"Does it have to be very subtle or can we just do, like, thumbs up, thumbs down?"
"I think that would be fine? It is not as though the fact that I keep secrets is itself secret from Vanyel, I have been very upfront about it. He will not be offended."
"Thumbs it is."
Nod. "And given the importance of that aspect and the prerequisites, I think you ought to share the story about Urtho, even if there is some chance it will negatively impact my agenda here. I suppose if Vanyel seems to be reacting badly enough to earlier discussion, I might try to thumbs-down you telling him that part as well, but I think it unlikely."
"I don't have a great understanding of the - sort of person who needs major revelations spaced out, not because the first one doesn't make sense and more explanation is needed but just to sit with it for a while? You may've noticed I don't especially do that. But I buy it's a thing."