Kyeo doesn't remember enough of the fight to know what happened, and his head is killing him, but when he checks he still has his sidearm and also now he's apparently crashlanded on a planet with absolutely awful-looking hostile fauna, wow, and that one's coming his way much too fast and he draws and shoots.
OW his head hurts. Are those swords. These people don't look like they're even from the Ibyatok system, was he concussed through an entire jump? Apparently he was concussed through an entire jump. He flicks the safety on, since he's being dragged around, but maintains a tight grip on his raygun.
Their yelling is still incomprehensible but it sounds appreciative, now.
When both beasts are down there's a lull and someone takes off at a run towards him, and starts demonstratively tugging him towards a - stone fortress, it looks like - that's not too far behind them. There are people on its walls with longbows.
Oh, okay, this is some kind of - intraplanetary fragmentation situation, where Numeria still has technology and everyone else is resisting Numerian authority and has to fight off the acid-spitting megafauna with bows and swords. He doesn't know what an Abadar's cleric is but this doesn't seem like the time, considering he's concussed probably. "I think I hit my head."
"Nah, I just want to look at it, I'm a weapons enchanter, I like learning how different places put weapons together. Does it take a lot of training?" Out of this building and along a dirt path to a different building, where she switches languages to say something reassuring to the people at the door.
They walk into a big circular room, thirty feet in diameter, with a man in robes at the center and a dozen other people in various reaches of the room. She walks up to the center and puts some coins in a box and walks away without speaking to the man there.
"Do you know if it can be recharged with spells?"
Four minutes pass and then an armored man staggers into the room with a horrifying, definitely-shouldn't-be-survivable gouge running from his shoulder down across his torso and taking a chunk out of his leg. The instant he's in the room the man in the center of it chants something and then -
The armored man stands up, totally uninjured. His armor is still shredded. He walks without a limp towards the center of the room and leaves some coin.
Kyeo's concussion is gone.
"We're at the Worldwound. It's a big tear to the Abyss and demons pour through it trying to devour everything. There are magic protections holding them back, but some of them get through. All the Lawful churches and countries have people here to fight them. Neutral clerics - and Good ones, I guess - can channel positive energy, for healing, fifteen foot radius, so they build rooms like those, and you go pay to hang out in them until the next time the cleric does a channel, which is usually on the half-hour but he did it early because that guy was not going to live five more minutes."
Welp he's going to starve after he runs out of charge in another thirty-three shots, then, isn't he, if that's how they've decided to kill him. He should get it over with, the first few days of going without food are the worst ones. Or maybe he should go shoot wildlife a bunch first? So they can't use the gun on his crewmates, wherever they are? He doesn't really have a procedure memorized for being captured by people pretending they can do magic.
Probably this is the part where they torture him and that's going to suck. It may actually suck more if they use weird barbarian torture methods instead of something modern like electric shocks. Oh, it's that thing where the world feels like it's ending. At least it is not distracting him from anything he was trying to do.
"Fine. Whatever. I'm going to stick you in the men's barracks and give you Taldane in the morning and ask around about a ride back to Ibyabek for you." Though she's not actually sure that the place he's from is one she's heard of. It might be somewhere in Tian Xia.
She reaches for the stun gun.
There's someone there.
"This guy has a very impressive weapon and is from some place I've never heard of, I assume a teleportation accident though he doesn't remember 'cause he hit his head, he's maybe not allowed to talk to followers of foreign gods, keep him out of trouble, okay?"
"What're you - doing with him -"
"I want to figure out the weapon. And learn about Tian Xia. That's my assignment, here, learn about faraway places. And if they're not allowed to talk to followers of foreign gods we're not going to have many opportunities."
She waves cheerfully at Kyeo and leaves as Tongues wears off.
Wow, jerky. He will eat it if they give it to him, though he's prepared for there to be some sort of unpleasantness where they kick him in the stomach later, that's the sort of thing that probably comes up sometimes. They already obviously have some way to deliver substances so this doesn't change much.
"Man. Uh, there's elves and orcs and halflings and gnomes and goblins and dwarves and giants and trolls and hags and...titans? and merfolk and bugbears and, uh, tabaxi, there's hybrids of many of those, there's outsiders who are originally from the Outer Planes and elementals that are originally from the Inner Planes and hybrids of most of the kinds of outsider with humans, there's dragons, there's trolls and titans and giants and mind flayers and beholders and algolthulls. And that conceals a lot of - like, dragons are as different from each other as we are from bugbears, there's hundreds of kinds, we just call 'em all dragons and they call us all humanoids."
"- right, sorry, I forgot you don't have divine casters - you can actually do it with a Wish too but I don't know that people would've been confident they had a safe wording, if there were no divine magic - you are not on any drugs, I don't think, and I don't see how that'd cause me to be claiming to you that we can resurrect people while you disbelieve me, drugs don't do that."
Uhhh what's common knowledge that it won't be a huge betrayal to say. "They need a lot of electrical generation capacity, same as what charges the gun, and in-system propulsion is different from what jumps between stars -" And he can explain in the loosest possible terms what the deal is there.
"The gods see things in terms of Law and Chaos and Good and Evil. They're - the fundamental kinds of choice that there are, I think. Law is about order and keeping your promises and doing your duty. Chaos is about doing whatever you feel like and not having responsibilities. Evil is about having goals and being willing to achieve your goals even if there's a cost. Good is about - doing things narrowly and properly and very carefully and never stepping off that path. You get different afterlives, depending."
He is about to comment that this sounds very weird in Ibyabekan, which is when he notices that he has not been speaking Ibyabekan all day. Which, now that he thinks of it, she totally told him, but he ignored her because magic is imaginary, except he is pretty sure drugs cannot make you speak entire languages suddenly? That's very strange. He thinks he's... lawful... good...? except these seem to be made-up categories. That were in fact by her own admission literally invented by aliens! So categorizing himself is a silly impulse.
"The gods are - they care about better stuff than humans do. They're bigger, deeper, there's more to them, they can see farther, it's kind of like how we'd feel about people who could never want anything that wasn't going to happen in the next five seconds. Or like how we feel about, I don't know, cows. That's not to say none of the gods care about things that I don't think people should bother with. Many of them do. But - it's a mistake to decide you'll just do people stuff and ignore the gods, you'll be ignoring almost everything important."
"I don't think the gods would let someone invent a general version of immortality. They want us to die since this world is kind of mostly a sorting mechanism for them to allocate souls across the afterlives and it wouldn't be a very good sorting mechanism if everyone got to stick around."
Well, yes, they have... swords, which probably means no airplanes or helicopters. "Yes. It takes about eighteen hours to go between Ibyabek and the other inhabited planet in our system, about a week to get to the nearest other inhabited system. Though that's after you've already gotten into orbit above the planet, in the first case, and out of the way of the planets, in the second, both of which steps add travel time."
And if they have to in order to make things work with Ibyabek that would be awful and maybe she doesn't care to tell people about Ibyabek after all. "You might like Osirion or Qadira, though. Women don't have any rights at all there. They can't own property and they don't get custody of their children and their husbands are allowed to beat them and I can't imagine they have the slightest problem with anyone being careerist."
"I'm not upset that you said so I'm upset that apparently even in places that have starships and can go anywhere in days people still think - that it's wasteful if someone could be available to a man to impregnate and isn't, but not wasteful if people spend their whole lives appeasing whoever they happened to get glued to and throwing up a lot."
"Uh, Pheon Naar Am was a philosopher and he saw that the way the people of Sohaibek lived and were governed was bad for them, and he convinced the people of what was then Inner Sohaibek to join together and resist the unjust government, and succeeded, but on Outer Sohaibek right philosophy didn't make it to enough people and they started a war, and Old Sohaibek, in between the two, was melted in their crazed attempt to prevent the Glorious Leader's ideas from taking hold there, but we were able to fight them off in the end and keep Ibyabek as it is now."
"It's - coin, or paper, issued by the state, you're not allowed to make your own. You get it by working, you have to spend it for food or housing, though not at the Worldwound, when you're an active duty soldier you get fed and housed on base usually. But if, say, you come back to Corentyn with us when this shift is up," he doesn't have a reason to do that but she doesn't want to let this float into more important hands just yet, "you'd pay for a house, and for servants or slaves if you want those, and for food and drink, and then you want some savings for magic healing if anything happens to you, and some savings for new clothes. You pay by giving the coins or paper in the right quantity to the person who owns the house or the food, and then it's yours. There's ten copper in a silver and ten silver in a gold, which is called a gold but we mostly have bills, now." She shows them from her purse. "If you want things as fancy as you're accustomed to it'll be a lot of money probably since we haven't invented all those things you mentioned."
"If you say so." It's a little like being told that if he never sings - not that he can anymore - he'll be able to save a lot of oxygen. You have to fix the air recycler if you have this problem, not take shallow breaths. But he doesn't know how the revolutionaries pulled it off besides that it required a revolution.
"One of those places, huh. I guess if it suits you."
They talk only occasionally as they fight demons; they complain about the demons, the weather, their coworkers, the paladin orders, the food. They make plans for how they'll spend their money on leave; nice furniture, slaves, merchant ventures, magic items, in one case a line of racehorses.
"Uh, I need to tell Captain Hwan Neul Ryung that I, Star Cadet Kyeo Sebe Luk, am alive, and where I am. - in terms that would make sense viewing the planet from space, like, the Nth biggest continent so many miles from which coast. Also this needs to be in Ibyabekan unless the message magic also does translation."
Kyeo experiments with attempting to speak Ibyabekan around the magic; it turns out he can do that okay. "Captain, Star Cadet Kyeo Sebe Luk reporting by proxy via ostensible magic, alive and whole, at the north end of a visible planar portal, 'the Worldwound'. I await pickup or orders."
"Right. A scry is a spell that lets you look at a target over a great distance. Sometimes you can do simple magic through the scry, in which case you can talk to them. It lets you talk for significantly longer than Sending, so it's probably the best way to get in touch with your ship. However, it has a long casting time; if I start now I'll be done in an hour. It might make sense to talk for ten minutes first. It's up to you, though."
"No. People on less civilized planets have to make exchanges to get things they need but on Ibyabek they don't. The farmers grow food, and the truckers bring it to the city, and then everyone gets food, because otherwise people might starve. The farmers do also get things that are made in cities when they need them but it's not a purchase."
"My paladin order is based here. It is the largest city in our country of Lastwall. The main reason I brought you here is because it's safer than most places from Cheliax, which will try to use the contact with your world for evil purposes, if they learn of it. We can get you a comfortable place to stay while you're here."
She bundles him off to a room that is a significant step up from the barracks, furnished with a bed and dresser and table and altar and fireplace, and thanks him, and tells him to just stick his head outside and ask if he needs anything, and then hurries off after flagging someone down to stand guard at his door.
In the morning a whole group of people come to get him. The wizard from before is with them, but in the back.
"Good morning, Kyeo," says a unfamiliar person, earnestly. "I'm Isavel. We're going to start on the scry for you, and we have a couple of other questions in the meantime, if that's all right."
"You're not a prisoner of war," she says very earnestly. "We're trying to keep you from Cheliax because they are Evil and if Asmodeus knows about your world he might attempt to conquer and damn it, too. But we're going to try to get you back to your people as soon as possible, and it's entirely all right if there are things you can't answer for us.
Can you explain - how Ibyabek became the kind of place it is today? It sounds like it's unusual among the worlds you know of?"
"It is, yes. The Ibyatok system was originally colonized under the name Sohaibek and three planets in the system were settled. Pheon Naar Am, the original Glorious Leader, was a philosopher and he saw that the way the people of Sohaibek lived and were governed was bad for them, and he convinced the people of what was then Inner Sohaibek to join together and resist the unjust government, and succeeded, but on Outer Sohaibek right philosophy didn't make it to enough people and they started a war, and Old Sohaibek, in between the two, was melted in their crazed attempt to prevent the Glorious Leader's ideas from taking hold there, but we were able to fight them off in the end and keep Ibyabek as it is now." It is almost exactly what he told Carissa; he has it memorized.
They glance at each other. "That might -"
"Asmodeus wasn't with Rovagug."
"I said it might, let me finish, warrant revisiting -"
"I don't think so, the justification there was that this way's less suspicious."
"I just want to pass it along."
"Fine, go do that."
"Sorry," says Isavel after a minute. "It's a lot to take in. The gods aren't ...limited to swords, in the things they can build, necessarily, so it's scary to imagine they might get their hands on such things."
"Not your fault, we should have explained. Gods are ...people. They are very powerful people. They can do much much more than us. Some of them have goals that are very hard for us to understand, because we are so small compared to Them, or because They were never human to begin with. But while we do pray to them, answering prayers is only a tiny fraction of what They do, and if these weapons were dangerous it wouldn't be because of anything to do with us. Does that make sense?"
"The gods raise people from the dead. I have seen them do it. In the Inheritor's divine domain in Heaven, the forces of Good are marshalled for war, and there are people I knew who are there now among them. And a god died, a hundred years ago, and it was immediately obvious to everyone because storms tore apart the harvest everywhere and quakes swallowed cities and countries drowned and his followers stopped receiving miracles."
"The god, Aroden, had announced his plans to manifest on Golarion. Instead, the whole world, places thousands of miles apart from each other, had two weeks of storms and lightning, even in places where such weather was very rare, and five cities were swallowed by the earth, and a permanent hurricane formed and drowned the country that had previously been there below the sea. Two weeks later the storms cleared, everywhere at once. At the same time the god's clerics stopped getting spells from him."
"...I don't really understand the distinction you are making. Things have causes. If the planet had melted with no cause that would be very confusing. Instead, the melting had a cause - a war - so it isn't. Storms all over the world would be very confusing if it happened with no cause, but instead it was caused by a war.
The precise thing we are worried about is that planets melting is the kind of thing the gods might be able to cause."
"Scry's finished," says the person casting it, when they're finishing breakfast. "...not high enough quality to do magic through, though. Damn it. Can everyone else who's going to want to scry this guy come take a look to help with their familiarity -"
"I'll tell them to do that."
"Thanks." She sighs. "Kyeo, do you want to at least have a look? I'm sorry the scry's low quality, I'll try again as soon as this one's expired."
"Well....most countries vary, but they're more or less the same sort of thing? They've got lots of people who are just trying to get by, and then some good ones and some terrible ones. But Cheliax was conquered in a terrible war by devil-worshippers, and Asmodeus directs it, and His aim is to damn everyone there, so He can have their souls when they die. So they make the children report each other for minor things, they punish them very harshly, they read their minds to make sure they're loyal enough to the state, they execute anyone who isn't, and that way they make everybody Evil. And they convince them that they deserve it. We are allied with them, at the Worldwound, to prevent demons destroying the world, but Hell is a menace to Good everywhere and it'd be very bad for them to learn of Ibyabek. They'd try to make it Evil."
"Law is about adherence to a strict code of rules, usually for the sake of making it possible for people to rely on you or negotiate with you. Devils are lawful in the sense that their word is binding and when they make bargains they keep their end of them. Paladins are also lawful. We do not betray our word even when to do so would confer a substantial short-term advantage. Evil is - the ideology opposed to human lives being free and peaceful and happy, and to humans having the chance to trust in and love and honor one another. Most Evil beings are Evil simply out of being self-serving -- they hurt others because they do not care for those others to live - but Asmodeus specifically believes that people should not be free, and Rovagug specifically believes that no worlds with life on them should exist, so some of them are like that..."
"Ibyabekan philosophy is about cooperation under the authority of the state to make sure everyone is taken care of, and I've been glossing that as lawful good, but it's not specifically about promises or being lenient with children or about people pursuing individual preferences freely..."
" - well, Lastwall is Lawful Good, but we're also the only bastion of Good in northern Avistan, we're fighting wars and we need to win them, there are lots of situations where it's necessary to do what is best for the group and not whatever speaks to one's heart individually. A lot of this is about - the ideal state, what we want when the wars are all over; Evil thinks people are nothing in themselves, and Good thinks people are everything, in themselves. Does that - sound closer to right?"
"They don't have a way to get in touch with us. This being the wrong galaxy, even if they knew exactly where it was it would take weeks to get here, and they don't know exactly where it is. There aren't radios on this end. I'm not sure if my ship is nearby and the captain's capture was before the magical event, or if I was the only person affected."
"People marry when they're perhaps twenty to twenty-five, depending, men sometimes a bit older and women sometimes a bit younger. We celebrate the Day of Revolution, the Eve of Revolution - those aren't next to each other, the Eve is when it started and the Day is when it ended, months apart - and the Glorious Leader's birthday and his predecessor's birthday and their wives' birthdays and the anniversary of the first landing on Ibyabek. Those are the major ones. There's a lot of singing and some people get the day off work and there are holiday-specific details for each one. Children often want to be things like pilots or firefighters or architects, though of course a lot of them wind up in less glamorous positions."
"Pilots direct ships - or airplanes or helicopters, it's the same word but different skills. And yes, there is a job of firefighter, to respond quickly to fires. This is important especially in cities where they may spread to other buildings quickly but also in wilderness areas where they may get a lot of fuel and become very big and fast-spreading."
Conflict where two countries both have a history of rivalry that escalates whenever they have the resources and an excuse? Conflict where one is trying to conquer others and others are trying to hold it in check? Conflict where one people is trying to wipe out another entirely? Slavers? Independence wars?
"...I guess we don't let Asmodeans in here," someone says, which makes people look slightly less confused.
"That's because they'd be spies, though, not because we're scared that hearing about Asmodeanism would confuse people - or because Asmodeans have objections we don't want anyone to raise -"
"But," someone else says, "if it did - I know it didn't, I know Asmodeanism is kind of transparently horrible, but if Asmodeus came up with something that was awfully compelling and did confuse lots of people, we'd ban it, right?"
"Seems like a bad habit to get into -"
"You need a counterargument -"
"Sure, some people should study it, but -"
"Nirmathas wouldn't ban it, and - and we could see how that worked out -"
"It's hard to know which of them even believe it, right, because they'll get in trouble if they say anything wrong."
"The ones at the Worldwound could run, though, if they - knew it was a lie -"
"They'd have to also know there's anything better. And - there might be retaliation against their families, right -"
"I thought Chelish people didn't care about their families."
"Aren't supposed to care about their families. Which is different."
"They can run if they decide to quickly enough," someone says. "Because they get mindread regularly and it's dangerous to be thinking about it."
"We're upsetting Kyeo."
"- Cheliax is terrible," someone says gently, "but there have been many victories against it. Half its former territory is free, now. And lots of people are working to make it more. With allies from other worlds, perhaps Hell can be defeated for good."
They seem to believe there to be at least four existential threats to the forces of Good in the world and yet be on the whole pretty cheerful about this; those are the marauding orcs to their north and west, perpetually crossing the border and sacking villages and occasionally amassing far more force than that when a capable ruler comes around, the powerful undead sorcerers of Ustalav, north and east; Cheliax, and Asmodeus who works through it, and the Worldwound in the north. They apparently personally consulted Iomedae about the Kyeo situation and got advice "mostly on timing"; they are debating what they would miss if they had to give up money (the satisfaction of saving up for several years for a nice magic item: "even if you'd get it after the same amount of time, I think it wouldn't feel as earned", the ability to send some of their savings each month to a elderly mother in their home country: "I guess I could send her things but it'd be very logistically difficult and what if I sent something that's not really in demand...""
Someone says that unless the whole world stopped using money she'd still need it to send her baby brother to wizard school; someone says that if one wizard school stopped using money then that'd be enough; someone else objects that that wizard school would quickly get overwhelmed, and probably have stringent entry tests, and so you'd be back to the same situation of not being able to send your brother to wizard school unless he was an unprecedented genius or you had money.
Someone says that he paid his friends to spend their days off building a house for him and his fiancee and he's not sure how that'd work if there weren't money, it's too much to ask as a favor and he can't repay it in kind because he's usually deployed on the border.
A wizard offers that if they weren't getting paid they'd go work somewhere where they were getting paid, no offense, or at least do that ten months of the year; you need money to get headbands and advance as a caster. Someone objects that obviously wizards would still get those things, just not in the specific manner they get them now, to which the wizard says that that's just getting paid in magic items, which is fine, but seems more like changing your currency than like not using money.
Kyeo doesn't know enough about how wizards work to have a specific vision of how they'd fit into the logistics but now he's wondering about it. "Of course people who need something for their jobs can get it, and if for wizards that's headbands then they'd have them, just like a pilot can't do their job without a ship or a helicopter; that's not the same as being paid to be a wizard."
"Cheliax does classrooms."
"It's because they hate any individual relationship - people can trust or care about each other, institutions can't -"
"Sure, but it's also just the best way to get a lot of wizards -"
"It's the best way to get a lot of wizards with a Chelish bent!"
"You can't say they don't train competent wizards."
"I can say that. Name a great Chelish researcher. There are none, because research is the enemy of Evil, you have to be allowed to think in order to invent..."
"There are plenty, they're just - narrow. No opinions on anything but magic."
They get into a heated argument about this.
Eventually someone rolls her eyes and tells the wizards to go argue this somewhere else, if they must - they've gotten into some very technical point about symmetric spellforms as part of a dispute about whether Cheliax deserves credit for the great Andoran wizard Morgethai - and they fall silent, and then someone points out they've run well over the end of lunch and everyone scatters to go back to work. "Do you want to go back to your rooms, do you know how to find them from here," Isavel asks.
This turns out to be characteristic of Vigil, and remains the same for the next few days. There are people clearly assigned to him, but not very concerned if he cares to be alone; there are enthusiastic lunchtime arguments about religion and about money and about the nature of Good. The people chosen by their god and given magic powers are the most important and the most trusted, though they sit at the same tables and participate in the same arguments; the people not chosen by their god generally seem to aspire to it, but not urgently. Their city is poorer than Ibyabek in many ways - it doesn't have indoor plumbing, or appliances of any kind, and magic lights for nighttime are apparently expensive - but there's lots of food, some of it meat or eggs, at every meal.
Kyeo is invited to religious services on holy-day, the seventh day of the week.
There is singing, that can be heard all the way from here, but otherwise it's hard to guess. At dinner, they don't discuss services much, just usual things like deployment schedules and world events and scary fights they were in and philosophy debates. Tonight there is an extended argument about what mistakes the church (and Iomedae Herself, though they know less about which decisions were definitely Hers) made in the early years of the Chelish Civil War; people are divided over whether it was hopeless because Asmodeus is a much older and more powerful deity than Iomedae or whether it would've been winnable if Aroden's death hadn't been such a hit to morale.
He misses singing. But he couldn't anyway.
It makes sense that they're leaving lots of leeway around Iomedae's decisions so they're never committed to the position that she made a mistake. Interestingly suggestive that they're identifying Asmodeus as more powerful but he supposes if these things are real that might just be a fact.
Kyeo sways slightly to the rhythm. Doesn't try to hum along even once he has the tune.
Kyeo's father is - asleep, in the dark, beside Kyeo's mother.
"- can you get a closer look at that object," Kyeo says, pointing, "so I'll know what time it is there and we won't have this problem again?"
"Then it is - really important to us, to keep trying. I don't know what the most practicable way to go about that is. Do you think it is talking to your father? To both your parents simultaneously - that would make it seem less likely to be sickness, right - we could perhaps observe the Supreme Leader and learn the name and identity of an advisor, and speak to them..."
They are indeed intentionally not telling him about that. They're gone, the next day, almost everyone with fancy robes indicating powerful spellcasting, wizards and clerics alike; there mostly isn't gossip about their absence in the dining hall, because gossip about ongoing operations isn't harmless like gossip about world events or religion or who should hook up or whatever else comes up.
When she hears that Kyeo vanished from the barracks with no explanation the first thing she feels is a jolt of terror. If he was telling the truth - and now someone else got him - they'll kill her, for not escalating it immediately. Of course, if he's lying or delusional and from Tian Xia and she had escalated it -
- but that won't matter -
- she spends about an hour staring at the wall thinking stupid unhelpful things like that she still isn't sure what she should have done and she has no idea who took him and she has no idea why and if she'd happened to get called for mindreading in that hour, or maybe even the next day, she would have died of it, but they don't have that many mindreaders, and she has time to think.
She met an adventurer from Tian Xia who claimed to be from a place called Ibyabek, which she hadn't heard of before but which is apparently on bad terms with most of its neighbors so that's not surprising. He claimed Ibyabek was its own world, which must've been the translator malfunctioning or him delusional or lying to impress her, because he was a perfectly normal human, oddly dressed, his gun of unfamiliar make but she's a magic item enchanter and couldn't evaluate it. She spent a little time with him anyway, even though he claimed his society of origin had no wizards of note at all, because she wanted to get to the bottom of the delusional-or-lying question, but she hadn't quite sussed it out when he suddenly teleported off, which conclusively pointed at lying, the person he was representing himself to be was meek and had no allies or interests there.
She did nothing wrong, nothing interesting happened, there was nothing worth escalating, and he got bored or heard of a problem elsewhere and left.
(They'll of course still kill her if Kyeo turns out to be from another world and this has conspicuous effects anywhere she hears about them but - it might not. And he's not from another world, she thought it all through and the only world worth thinking about or planning for is the one where he's not, and over time this turns into 'he's not', in her head, and then sits more comfortably.)
They call her in for mindreading four days later and she goes and answers all the questions and is asked if she's contemplated defecting and says that she hasn't, which is true, even in that hour of panic she managed not to think that she could possibly escape Asmodeus.
She goes back to her normal life. Finishes an artifact, collects the bonus for being early, again. She's got enough for a headband.
And then one morning when she's starting the next artifact someone opens the door, loudly and abruptly enough to throw off her concentration. She looks up, irritated, and then -
- too afraid to be irritated, too afraid in fact to think at all...
There are three of them, in black full plate with visors drawn, faceless, the insignia of a Hellknight order she'd recognize on sight if she were thinking, which she's not.
"Carissa Sevar?" he says. The face mask distorts his voice.
She nods. Which is stupid, maybe, but -
They have handcuffs, glinting with the age-resistance of a magic item. Antimagic, probably. She wants to get a proper look at it, which is the most laughably stupid want in the entire universe. They cuff her hands behind her back and blindfold her and Teleport. She does not try to resist the Teleport, and suspects she couldn't anyway; the handcuffs are doing something in addition to antimagic, something that feels like having been hollowed just slightly.
They ask about Kyeo. When she met him, what she saw, what he said, who she told, who else knows, were people curious about his disappearance, did she report it, did anyone else. She answers truthfully and they don't bother to hurt her yet, even when at one point she has a stupidly difficult time forming words because she's so upset with herself. She wants to know how they found out but she is sure that she'll die without knowing that.
Worthless people and impressive people go to the same Hell, she reminds herself, but she keeps crying anyway.
Kyeo is less bored mostly because he is now instead constantly wrestling with the desire to suggest scrying Sarham, even though Sarham can't help at all with anything these people want and the idea of Sarham checking into a hospital over hearing voices makes him want to vomit.
Dragons are enormous flying lizard-like magical beings who can breathe powerful blasts of energy and who are exceptionally deadly when they want to be. There are a few ancient ones and they're not to be trifled with; there are more young ones than that, but not that many, maybe hundreds in the whole world.
Carissa is sitting on the bench with her hands cuffed in front of her, picking at her nails; she stiffens very slightly when Kyeo walks in.
"You can, uh, knock when you want to leave, or yell if anything goes wrong," says his escort, pausing at the door. "You can yell too, if you want him to leave" he adds to Carissa, who glares at him.
" - I mean I assume it's got to be people who they're confident are cleared to know and won't go accidentally mention it in earshot of a Chelish spy, but most of those people are important, so, the retired ones. I don't know why men in particular. I asked one if it was supposed to be an arrangement by which I could delay my execution by offering sexual favors and he got very offended and spent thirteen minutes explaining how Good holds that it's better to kill people than to let them convince you not to."
" - that it's a really big deal. It'll change the wars here, and the wars in the Outer Planes. A lot depends on - who manages to contact your world first, or whether the gods find out about it and negotiate a treaty - and in those negotiations it'll matter who was closest to contacting your world -" Shrug.
"Uh, imagine two people hate each other, and they walk into a room with a powerful weapon. And both of them want to use it against the other, but also if they use it they're pretty likely to get killed themselves, which they strongly disprefer, and it'll destroy lots of the cities, which neither of them really want. And they can - make promises that are magically unbreakable. They might - promise to dismantle it together. Does that make sense."
" - one of the ways the thing they're doing is more complicated is - okay, so if you burst through the door to the room with the weapon at the exact same time, maybe you just agree to dismantle it together. But if one of you is first through the door, and considers it likelier than not that they'll be the one to deploy it first, they don't have a reason to agree to that anymore. So the other one might - pay them, for the agreement to dismantle it - this quickly gets too complicated for mortals to think about, but even if they end up dismantling the bomb the one that was closer to using it will get more concessions."
Shrug. "It's not very important most of the time. I mostly hear it brought up to make a theological point about why the actions of the gods aren't comprehensible, not to make - strategic points about when to tell them things... but I should've thought about it." She sounds like someone who is faintly cheered by the idea that she is in her situation for a reason that is at least kind of her own fault.