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Aug 10, 2022 9:25 PM
Daémon Fleet characters dropped on The Untamed
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“Do they not let them in because they think they’re untrustworthy, or because they don’t want to make the original sect angry?”

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“Both and more.  People can do things for multiple reasons.

“The big one is that training someone in cultivation takes a lot of resources.  There’s a debt there.  Sects take in students, then get their services in night hunting or teaching or other duties, just like parents take care of their children and in turn are supported in their old age.”

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Hum.  He doesn’t know if he gets it.  The Fleet doesn’t really do that.  Maybe if they were talking about the Fleet as a whole, getting public education then paying taxes?  But what would the equivalent of leaving a sect be, in that case?  He doesn’t know how it worked back when there were multiple countries.  His mind runs out of processing power to try and guess and instead gives up.

“I can go ask Azure about it, if he decides to talk to me again.  This is the sort of thing he likes.”

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“How is that going?”

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Shrug.  “Okay.”

It’s not like Iarlaith doesn’t understand.  Any kid learns the proper way to deal with squicks and triggers as soon as they’re old enough to start searching for media on their own, and that is to hit the back button and find something else.

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This seems like a good time to distract Iarlaith.  Nie Huaisang thinks that what they do together is great, and is willing to express this by doing it even more.

 


Eventually night arrives, and Iarlaith needs to return to his own room before the Lan have to get involved in setting curfew.

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The conference is five days long.  

 

Most of each morning is spent with the sect leaders in private meetings with each other.  None of the aliens qualify for that, and are instead left to hang out with the guards or wander through the lesser public gardens of Cloud Recesses and stay out of the way.  

Azure jumps straight into mingling and listening to everything he can.  There is so much that he can learn about the system here.  It wasn’t the official communication of the sect leaders, but information was exchanged here nonetheless.  

“Hanguang-jun saved an entire village earlier this month!  It turned out there was a grove of cursed flowers around where a missing girl had died.  The bees had brought nectar from the grove into their hive.  When the villagers harvested it, they got cursed effects.  No wonder no one else could figure it out.  He is so amazing!” 

“Monster activity in Runan has been unusually high this year.  Who thinks that Sect Leader Wang might consider hosting a crowd hunt to help thin them?  Li-xiong, you’re from near there, maybe you should keep your schedule clear.”  

“Sect Leader Fu’s daughter sure seems studious and quiet.  Does anyone else think she’d be happier marrying into the Lan?  It’s up to the matchmakers and her parents, of course, but why is he so focused on trying to send the poor girl to Meishan?  Dai-guniang, your aunt is friends with the matchmakers.  Go get her to talk some sense into them!”

…and so on.

The various guards have Opinions on their sects.  Many sound dismissive of their own sect leader but defend them viciously against anyone else saying the slightest thing wrong, though the Jin and others in the northeast put up unified fronts.  The Jin do seem less happy despite their insistence that their sect is wonderful, as they point out the successful harvests and craftsmen of their lands with the kind of practiced modesty that is far more common and appropriate for the debate hall reserved for the higher-ups. 

Azure and Florentho learn the steps of this dance, and the other dancers. 

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The Sect Leader only meeting once again comes to a close and it’s time for the afternoon entertainment. 

Today, it’s archery, and a chance to show off the up and coming talents. 

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Sandu Shengshou fumes, watching the one single cultivator in his own sect who will be competing.  He’d had to leave his second archer behind to make room for the aliens.  This one is only third best of the disciples under twenty years old - the other two are an especially slow flier and someone prone to loud outbursts that make her unwise to bring to Cloud Recesses, respectively. 

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Jin Ling does not appreciate having to sit still.  He wants to be an archer!  They say he is too little to compete, even though he’s practically a grown up!  He huffs and fusses.  

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Iarlaith wanders in, complaining loudly enough that a few cultivators in the other sections look over.  

He has a headache.  He tried to write down some poetry and song lyrics from the Fleet, and it wasn’t working.  Language has abandoned him!  Oh woe is he!  Dramatic flopping!

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Florentho is shooed away so he can’t react, and Azure steels himself to have to deal with Iarlaith.  A professional mask on, he directs Iarlaith to the back seat next to Verity and grabs a cup of water for him.  All while not touching him, since as far as Azure’s mind is concerned Iarlaith might as well be covered in spiders still, but he does his best not to actually show that.  

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“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write down all the poems,” he sniffles.  “I can write what the poem is about but without the exact words themselves…”

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Verity will pat his shoulder.  Behind them, Araeneve can be much more affectionate and snuggles up with Emerimis while Salanaya preens at his feathers.  "You can take a break and try writing it again later."

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“You don’t get it!  This is a seriously Weird Thing!!!”  

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“Be quiet back there!”

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It is still Weird, but he does not want to make Sect Leader Jiang angry.  He sullenly drinks his water.  

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At this point, all conferences are built around the assumption that Nie Huaisang will interrupt them by getting drunk or something.  It takes relatively little prodding to get everyone back to looking at the archery field.

The sun is overhead, shining off of the white banners everywhere.  Bows and quivers are handed to the contestants, each a teenage disciple practically bouncing with excitement.  The targets are released - beautiful polished disks which are flung up into the air in arcs, and shatter completely when struck.

When all of the scores are counted, the Jiang contestant takes first place, but the Lan have two people in the top five.  

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As they are traveling back to their guest rooms, Azure decides to talk with the guards.  He turns to one.

“What’s your opinion on the Jiang sect?  Is it where you came from?”

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“No.  I was originally part of another sect.  One of the tiny ones.  Five years ago, one of my shidi turned to demonic cultivation.  He lost control, and the rest of us together weren’t able to fight him off.  

“Sect Leader Jiang had been hunting for rumors of demonic cultivation in the area and came to our aid.  By then, there were only three of us left, and our home was burned.  We were invited to stay in Lotus Pier for a week for the investigation, and possibly a bit of questioning.  Afterwards, my two shimei chose to move with a relative of theirs in another small sect.  

“I was going to leave with them, but while I was in Lotus Pier I fell in love with one of the senior disciples.  So, I decided to stay.”

She goes off on a tangent about her wife.

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He listens politely. 

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Given that this cultivator’s ability to speak about her wife’s virtues is endless, this is going to take a while. 

She is one of the teachers of very small children.  She teaches them cute little rhymes to remember yao traits!

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It’s not like he has anything better to do.  He enjoys being around people who are happy, and listening to what makes them happy.  

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They get back to the guest quarters.

Azure bids farewell to his walking companion and goes to herd the other three aliens into a single corner of the courtyard for a bit of privacy.  Their daemon make a slightly elongated pile between them and the locals.  Florentho and Emerimis are still on opposite ends of the daemon pile, but Florentho isn’t storming off any more.  

“So.  We’re running out of time to figure out where to go on a permanent basis.  Wherever it is, we should all stick together.  Being the only one with a daemon would be unpleasant since there would be no one for them to socialize with.  The people here don’t make up for it by being cuddly as humans either.”

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No one disagrees with his assessment of sticking together. 

“I don’t like the Lan sect.  Or the Jin.”  

She pauses.  “Or the Nie.  They might be okay otherwise, but I don’t want to cut my lifespan by 20 years.”

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