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Aug 10, 2022 10:46 PM
Daémon Fleet characters dropped on The Untamed
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“You treat them well?”

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“Me personally?”

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“No.  No, the Fleet in general.”

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“It’s legal, but being involved or purchasing the services is… hm.  It doesn’t make one popular, I guess.  It’s a little like being a casual-sex-with-strangers type person.  It’s seen as weird to only want a physical connection and not an emotional one, or that the person is somehow deficient and too incompetent to get a normal group of friends to have sex with.”

He shifts and fusses with his sleeve.  He really needs to get a fan, if that’s the usual stim thing here.  If he’s going to keep having to wear long sleeved shirts and not have something else to play with, eventually the sleeves are going to tear and then he’ll make it worse and Sect Leader Jiang will throw him out of the airlock.

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“But not so dirty that they are not welcome in most places?  They are not slaves?  Their children are not treated wrongly for it?”

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“No one is a slave.  We don’t have slaves.  What would that even mean, for a prostitute?  It’s the sort of job that people do out of their own homes.”

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“Most belong to brothels, here."

 

“And Verity shoved him because of ‘religious obligations’?”  

He looks skeptical at this.  He’s only heard a tiny bit about Verity and the other aliens so far, and he already knows that doesn’t sound right.  He has overheard two separate instances of gossip about her outright complaining about the Fleet’s religion.

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“…She does sort of have that obligation, technically, but I don’t think so.  Her own mother worked as a prostitute, so he had been insulting her as well.”

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“I suggest keeping that secret.  He wasn’t the only one out there who thinks that prostitutes’ children are sub-human.”

It's good that it is something like that, Nie Huaisang supposes.  Not literally everything that benefits Jin Guangyao is going to be a vast orchestrated conspiracy.  

“By the way, I’d been meaning to ask:  What is your religion like?”

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“In what way?” 

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“Let’s start with how your universe works.  Souls, daemons, that sort of thing.”

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“Our souls are made from tiny fragments of gods.  These gods are called the Totems, and there’s one for each shape that daemons can take.  Whichever one our ditto settles as when we’re teenagers is the one that provided the initial bit, finally strong enough to take on their proper shape.  It’s the one we go back to and combine with after we die.  If we live good lives and bring in good experiences, the totem grows in power as we merge with it, but absorbing evil experiences harms the Totem.  Some things like not being a murderer are universal, but different Totems have different ways to be good and are supposed to prioritize different virtues.

“Legendaries are special because there’s only ever one of each, and they have the entire Totem as their soul rather than a tiny piece.  It gives them all of the wisdom of every legendary who had gone before.  ...Subconsciously, I guess.”

He pauses for a little while, debating whether to add more detail.

“Relevant to this… Most politicians and leaders are born wealthy.  Nobility doesn’t exist any more, but you don’t really get elected without money behind it.  Legendaries exist to be born from the lower classes and bring balance that way.  Well, until they inevitably hang out with all of their new rich friends.”

“At least, that’s what I remember, and heard.  I go to church on all of the center days, but mostly just because they have food and it’s sort of weird if you don’t.  I don’t read the literature, or even pay much attention to any speakers.”

“Verity would know more, but she’d probably be annoyed to be asked…”

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“Do you suppose it’s true?”

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“I don’t know.  I guess that daemons have to be made out of something, right?  We can explain a lot with science, but not them.”

He gets up to grab more tea.  He’s pretty sure that it has the same amount of caffeine that the tea on the Fleet does, and that means they probably shouldn’t be drinking it so late in the evening here, but he does anyway.  There’s no alcohol in Cloud Recesses and no soda anywhere and vegetable broth does exist but is apparently weird to ask for as a beverage and like the water here it is always served hot for some reason?  Sure, he could ask Verity for ice, but it feels very awkward to ask basically-a-divine-being for ice cubes…

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Nie Huaisang watches him go, and notes how good he looks in those robes.  Jiang Cheng really can pick out clothes - really, how did he expect Nie Huaisang to resist?  

Then again, Jiang Cheng walks around in his own very nice robes and is constantly either annoyed or oblivious to all of the looks he attracts.  The man just likes fine robes.  Who can blame him?  A proper distinguished gentleman needs at least some interest in the arts, and while keeping up with fashion is not one of the official four scholarly arts, proper presentation is so important that it probably should have been.

Tea in hand, Nie Huaisang decides to flit to yet another topic.  Perhaps he’ll come back to religion later.  “What are the sexual mores of the Fleet?  You've mentioned a little, but not all of the details.”

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“Casual sex between friends is fine, for single people.  Usually for married people too, but some households put up limits of different kinds.  Sex with strangers is seen as weird.  Paying for sex counts as stranger sex, since the whole problem people have with it is the is the lack of emotional connection.”

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“And being two men?”

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“It doesn’t change it.  

“Even heterosexuals don’t have consequences, since there’s birth control chips.”  He motions to his arm, where they’re normally placed under the skin.  Iarlaith doesn’t have one himself - the very thought of surgery makes him feel faint and he is also very gay - but he knows where they go.

“What about this place?  I take it that this isn’t acceptable here, if we cared.”

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“Sex is supposed to happen only in marriage.  Which is between two people in the cultivation world, though the mundane men often have many wives.  They have whole elaborate hierarchies about it.  Two men or two women is… the mundane hate the concept in a lot of places.  Historically cultivators have been better about it, but the Jin are the preeminent power of the land and are as bad as the mundane.”

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“What about the other sects?”

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“Better, but not perfect.  It's been worse since the end of the Sunshot Campaign.  You heard how the Cloud Recesses was burned and the Jiang almost completely wiped out?  And even the Nie and the minor sects took heavy casualties.  Everyone recruited who we could from the wandering cultivators, but a good number of our fighters in the Sunshot Campaign were recruited from the mundane towns, chosen for their ability to start fighting immediately.  There just wasn’t time to pick and choose anything else.  Afterwards, when everyone was coming back from the war, they brought the beliefs of their mundane families with them."

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“And where would you have liked to go, if you could have picked your sect?”

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“...I am fond of my clan.  I don’t want to lead it, and have to do work, but.  They’re my family.  If I didn’t have that connection… I don’t know.  Familiarity is the easiest path.”

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“I always thought I’d prefer to live in Column of Summer, if there was anyone willing to trade houses without it being a huge downgrade.  It has the best restaurants and the best night club scene - at least for the genre of music I like; I guess Winter is more known for that but it’s all music that sounds like people breaking bottles and screaming.  But Autumn has the most artists and museums; real paper and ink are rare everywhere but on Summer I’d have to work entirely in digital or pay a premium to get paper sent over.  And it isn’t the best for giant daemons that aren't water-type but it’s better than Summer…” 

Iarlaith trails off.  It feels awkward talking about Muiredach-and-Valaxa.  He’s slipped up a few times, and each time Nie Huaisang gets weird and intense in a way that Iarlaith doesn’t understand.  

“The big problem with deciding here is how permanent it is.  We were never expected to swear allegiance and loyalty to a ship.  Here, though, people make a big deal out of loyalty and… some of the ways that people talk about it, it sounds a little like the sect owns its members in a creepy way.”

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“It’s not creepy.  Cultivators aren’t slaves - it is possible for people to walk out.  Though no other sect will let them back in.”

He tells him a bit of ten year old gossip.  A cultivator called Mianmian who chose to defect from the Jin who were refusing to see both sides of an argument and were vilifying anyone who didn’t agree with them.  She left and became a rogue cultivator.  Last he heard, she’s still doing that.

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