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May 21, 2022 2:57 PM
Daémon Fleet characters dropped on The Untamed
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It's going to take more than just being another version of Nie Huaisang to get him to actually spill any secrets.  This one is... 22 or so?  Probably not much older, given that he's not a cultivator.  It is a bit hard to tell - most people who aren't cultivators also lack proper nutrition and healthcare, but he looks as healthy as a cultivator. 

"Oh, things.  Things I'd rather not have to deal with.  You're so lucky to be avoiding them."

Nie Huaisang lapses into silence.  He considers his priorities.  What is safest for himself?  What is most likely to get him his revenge?  Distant but still present: that it would be a shame to let his other self get hurt, either.

Bringing Iarlaith to the Unclean Realm would put him in a spotlight there, right in front of everyone who knows Nie Huaisang best.  He is an excellent actor, but he doesn't truly know what he would have been like if he'd never had to pretend.  Not to mention that any role is going to slowly shift over time.

Letting him go back to Lotus Pier could also be a risk.  He can't advise or teach him in Lotus Pier.

There's also the matter of keeping the aliens all in one place.  Jin Guangyao might try to turn them to his side or do something with them, and keeping them out of his hands sounds like a generally good idea.  If one leaves alone, the rest might split up too, and then he'll have to deal with 4 individuals instead of a group.

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Iarlaith watches him think.  Nie Huaisang is being very quiet.  He wonders if he's communicating in some way with his soul, even though it isn't in a form like Emerimis.  That sounds lonely.  Especially since he doesn't have his brother, either.

(Back in the hall with the other humans, Emerimis snuggles up with the others for another moment, then decides to get some fresh air in a tree outside of Florentho's range.)

He wants no part in whatever complicated politics Nie Huaisang is not talking to him about.  Though that does leave the question of how Nie Huaisang managed to get involved.  And he does seem to be involved?  It doesn't seem like just a matter of being a sect leader, either.  It seems... personal? 

"How did your version of Muiredach die?"

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"As far as anyone knows, including you, right now, he died from a qi deviation.  A natural result of his bad temper and our family's saber cultivation."

He holds his rage in check, but visible beneath the surface.  He could hide it even from Iarlaith if he wanted to.  He sees little reason to bother.  Any him would feel the same about their brothers.

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Iarlaith is more scared and less angry, actually.  "What am I supposed to do?"

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"...I don't know."  He fans himself, out of habit.  Nie Huaisang doesn't have an immediate answer.  It seems like the sort of thing best left to simmer in the back of his mind for a while.  For the moment, he decides to not tell Iarlaith anything about Jin Guangyao.  He is younger, and might be more impulsive, and doesn't want clumsy help from someone who doesn't know the game board.  Even a warning, right now, would be enough for him to put it together.  What he has already said is going to be warning enough, in general, and he can maybe dribble out more hints later if he finds it necessary.

"I'll have to think on it.  Just pretend you know nothing.  It's what I do most of the time, and it works pretty well."

So, time to distract his other self and change the subject.

"Anyway.  You landed in Lotus Pier of all places!  What is Sect Leader Jiang like from your perspective?"

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Iarlaith considers this.  "Intimidating.  He doesn't seem to want me to be there.  I don't know what else...  He's really hot?  That's not useful but it's hard to ignore...  Other than that, it's not like I've spent much time around him.  Sect Leaders apparently have lots of things to do that aren't talk to aliens."

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"I regret to inform you that he is straight.  Ah, of the five great handsome men of our generation, two are dead, one is straight, one is taken, and one is... well, I have my suspicions over exactly what his deal is, but it works out to being 'not available' too."

And to the other half of Iarlaith's comment: "Sect Leaders have so much to do," he repeats, woeful.  "All day I have people bothering me to do things!"

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"At least you're being told what to do, even if you don't want to do it?"  That isn't much of a silver lining.  But it reminds him of his own problem.

"Apparently fully trained cultivators can take down even Legendaries.  I'm not going to be of any use.  They seemed impressed with Azure-and-Florentho's teleporting, and Alizara memorized practically every encyclopedia article on the Fleet and is going to be useful at inventing useful things.  But I'm.  Aside from things like art techniques, I'm useless!  And I normally wouldn't mind being useless, but there's no safety nets here other than family, and mine are in another dimension.  And what am I supposed to do?  I can't run off and be a farmer!  I don't know how to farm.  I never even kept a plant alive for more than a week."

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"Okay, okay.  Calm down."  He pats Iarlaith's shoulder, and scoots over to hug him.  "We're basically the same person.  That means you're basically a Nie.  You can come to the Unclean Realm if Sect Leader Jiang tries to make you leave.  But I don't think he will - if he didn't throw you out on the first night it's going to take quite a lot to get him to change his mind."

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"Do you know him well?"

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"As well as anyone living.  We were friends as teenagers, attending lectures here in Cloud Recesses."

Nie Huaisang isn't sure what else he can say.  People are difficult to succinctly describe and Jiang Cheng is a particularly tough case.  He was easy to read, but hard to understand.  He lies half of the time, but not the half of the time that gets him what he wants.  Short tempered and prideful, yet one of the most reasonable sect leaders in terms of making well-thought out decisions and supporting stable policies.  Then there's the weird stuff like his extreme stance on demonic cultivation and the fact that he utterly fails every attempted date the matchmakers send him on. 

"Where do you think the others will try to go, long term?"

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"It's hard to say," Iarlaith demurs automatically, though he has a pretty good idea of what the others are thinking, and the other him is almost certainly already aware of that.

"Based on the little I know so far... Verity really likes Lotus Pier.  Azure hates Sect Leader Jiang in particular.  Part of it is that he has strong opinions about leadership and won't be happy anywhere but a democracy.  There's no way that Sect Leader Jiang would get elected to anything on the Fleet.  Alizara will go wherever Azure does, unless somewhere on this planet has electricity and computers."

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"What are electricity and computers?"

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Oh no Iarlaith has no idea how to explain this to someone from a pre-industrial society.  Electricity just is.  It is in the walls and you plug stuff into it and it works.  He knows how to use it, and how to be safe around it, but not the basic concept.  Computers are even harder to explain.

Rather than successfully answering the question, he gets flustered and winds up crying, "I don't know!  I don't know how to describe them.  Ask Alizara!"

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