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Sep 19, 2020 11:41 PM
Tarinda in Velgarth
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"Generally. Can you not? I suppose I have more practice than most people."

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"I'm not sad all that often but I usually have to do something besides decide to stop for it to stop."

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"You are likely a more typical human." Leareth sighs. "It feels - wrong, right now, to do that. I suppose one frame I had all along was of - putting it away for later. When there was time to grieve and - be pointlessly angry about how the world is very unfair, and all of that. It was stupid to be distracted by emotions before that. But - now is later." 

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"Yeah. I guess it is. Well, I tell Cory she can have as many centuries as she needs, and I don't think she would've traded you, so you get as many millennia as you need."

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"Mmm." He nods. "I am still - I keep feeling very tired. Even though I am, in fact, resting and not doing things. I am not sure what else my mind wants from me here." 

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"Cory wanted a pony and more of a TV show she liked and for her family and all the historians to leave her alone and not to run into her ex but probably your list wouldn't be a lot like that."

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"It is a very sweet list. It is so - specific." He frowns, thoughtful. "She had such a clear idea of what she wanted. I think - everything I had a clear idea of is now accomplished much better than I could have done it, and I did not put much thought into what I wanted for myself, afterward." 

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"That's so - bleak? I had to schedule time to do stuff that was fun while I was trying to build the computer, to sort of stay afloat, and if I couldn't have done that I'd at least have thought about it, I'd've planned out a million things to do when I got home - I did do a little of that anyway -"

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"I would have had a harder time with that, I think. Working as fast as possible by rote. The Gate-research was intrinsically very interesting to me. And - I was good at shaping who I was to not find much of my work unpleasant, at the time, so it was at worst neutral." 

He looks down. "- A great deal of it was unpleasant, though. I enacted plans that killed many people. I thought that I could grieve for the price paid afterward, when the work was done." 

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"Well. How d'you usually do grieving where you're from?"

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"Valdemar has a tradition which I like - on a particular night of the year you light a candle for each person you are grieving, and say their name. It...is not really feasible to do one candle per person, for two thousand years, and - many of their names I never knew."

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"How many people?" she wonders softly.

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"It depends how tightly I construe 'responsible for their deaths' - if it was a direct result of something I did or ordered done, or - not, but causally related, at some level of indirection. Probably - half a million total, by a tighter definition that includes the dead on both sides of wars I fought. Twice twice that if I include, say, collateral damage from the gods' attempts on my life, and various consequences I could not reasonably have predicted from a plan. I suppose it also depends what portion of responsibility for the Cataclysm I lay on myself. I do not think it was - more than half my fault, but... Millions of people died just then." 

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"If you want millions of candles, you can have them. But the names - that's harder." Sigh.

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"I–" He half-turns away. "I - feel as though you are supposed to be - upset, or angry, or something, that I did that." 

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"I'm... not doing a setpiece where I declaim all your crimes and then put you to the sword to the tune of Eternal Fall, so... no. Though if you'd find one of those cathartic I'm down."

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Leareth blinks at her. "...I am still getting used to this place, I think. What is Eternal Fall?" 

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"It is a justifiably overused song suitable for swording people to." She snaps her fingers and an electric guitar screams melodically over her speakers and is gradually joined by deep pounding drums and then a dozen other instruments. "I have injured Proster with this playing in the background six times, he loves it."

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"Fascinating. I am not currently tempted by doing a play where you execute me for my crimes, but - I will let you know if it becomes appealing?" Is it supposed to be? He's very confused. 

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"I wasn't really expecting it to, even for combat dance people Proster's kind of weird! Just, like, getting mad at people for killing people is dramatic. It's very dramatic and I will play pretend about it very enthusiastically but it's pretend! In real life you are not an imaginary villain my friend is pretending to be specifically in order to be satisfyingly toppled. You're an actual person even if you're an unusual one and I'm not mad at you. Maybe some people would be but not me."

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Leareth nods. "I appreciate that. I am not angry with myself, I think? Just - wishing for unreasonable things, I suppose. That you had come to my world two thousand years ago - even though that would probably not have worked, it was important, that I knew the gods' properties and had secured territory away from Their influence. Mostly away. It apparently did not keep the stupid gryphons off us. I wish–"

It's suddenly kind of hard to speak, which is such a dumb thing for emotions to cause, really. "I wish I had - not been the only one trying this - for such a long time... You agreed right away, that the state of affairs in Velgarth was unacceptable. You had seen a better way. But - it was so hard, to convince anybody else to see it." 

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"I was brought up in paradise," she says. "I think it's normal for most people to decide how things are must be normal and okay, even if people are dying and everything is hard, but for me that's ancient history."

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"I suppose it is a relief to know that once paradise exists, people agree that it is how things ought to be - unless there are people in your world who wish to go back to the past before Sing, honestly I wish I would be shocked to discover there are but somehow I would not be." 

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"There's probably some. There's billions of us."

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"That makes sense." 

Sigh. "Is it normal to - just want to be sad, for a while, sometimes?" 

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