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Feb 27, 2021 8:37 PM
mid-Angband Kib lands on Leareth
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He can get the clothes on, with pauses while instead of trying to think about how they go on he stares at them and waits for it to become obvious solely on the strength of background processing.

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They're pretty simple as clothes go. 

Mara has figured out by now that he prefers not to eat meat, and stops giving it to him. They feed him a lot of eggs, cooked in various ways. 

Mara sings songs about a place called Valdemar, founded by a brave and wise king, and something about - magic horses called 'Companions' appearing as a miracle...? It would be pretty high context even to someone actively paying attention and trying to understand it. 

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He is definitely not doing that.

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Leareth gives it two and a half weeks rather than one, in the end. He's making some progress, albeit slowly, and mostly he's not at the point where having precisely accurate information on which world he's looking for is important, since he's still establishing the basic principles of how to extend his maximum possible search-distance by cutting through other planes. He can measure the magical signature when he does so and note it for later comparison to what his wards picked up, though he has no idea if otherworldly teleportation, which may or may not be magic-snake-monster-enabled, is at all comparable to Gate signatures. 

Eventually, though, he's made all the progress that he's going to on that avenue. He has a theoretical model for planar navigation, which may or may not stand up at all in practice, and he has an equally theoretical and untested method for measuring the properties of whatever plane lies adjacent to the Void at a given point. 

He finds Nayoki. 

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Nayoki is not happy at all and there is an argument. 

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Leareth hasn't lost one of their arguments yet, and this doesn't break his streak. 

They walk into Kib's room together. 

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Oh great, it's the plot fairies. One two three four five six -

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Leareth sits. 

"I cannot, of course, force you to listen to me; in fact, I have great admiration for your ability to not listen and not have thoughts, I do not think I could do it. However. Consider the hypothetical where I am a powerful mage and leader of an army in another world, and I am horrified by Melkor's actions and wish to stop him. I have made some progress on the problem of interworld travel using our local magic, but now I am stuck on the fact that...well, even if you have honestly reported your beliefs to us, since you think there is no point concealing from your enemy things that you already knows, we have secondary confirmation that he has substantially altered your memories, and - this could mean that our information on Arda is faulty." 

Pause. 

"...Nayoki is a Mindhealer, as she may have mentioned to you before. She has an idea on how to retrieve the memories that Melkor erased. I - would far prefer to attempt this with your consent and cooperation, but given your epistemic position I cannot expect that, and - the situation may be time sensitive, I have no way of knowing from here if Melkor is close to winning and weeks or months would make it too late. And - I can do math. I am fully aware that it will cause you further trauma to do this, but - many other lives are at stake, worlds may be at stake, and you are one person. So Nayoki is going to do her best to undo the memory erasure, so that we can determine if the memories of Arda you have drawn on to answer our questions are themselves fabricated." 

His lips twitch. It's not a humorous expression at all. "I understand entirely if you think I am Melkor or Thauron, and therefore doing this...because I am evil and it entertains me, I suppose..." 

He nods to Nayoki. 

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Kib will NOT consider that hypothetical NO THANK YOU.

He's pretty sure the dreams are all right and Aly's memories are safe - he isn't going to do elaborate reasoning about that, but he's pretty sure. Melkor is obviously at liberty to fuck with everything else there is in here but - until she died horribly Aly was happy and loved and accomplished - and - don't think about it - Kib is pretty sure Aly's memories are safe.

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Nayoki is really angry with Leareth right now! But, in fact, he has the right to ask this of her. 

She sits down and concentrates, zooming in on the first block of majorly altered memories in the metaphorical number line of their patient/prisoner's life. There are places filled in with crumb from a different kind of bread entirely, and places where the native structure of his mind has been folded over itself over and over, as though someone turned the bread back into dough and then cut it with butter like a pastry and then re-baked it again. 

She pushes with her Gift, softening the structure of his mind and the baked-in-place connections holding the memory-blocking stuck in place, and she starts unfolding it and spreading it out. It's definitely more of a mess rather than less, but at least it's where she can see it. 

To Kib it's going to feel like the walls of the room are suddenly melting and flashing with random colour, and his senses are blending together a bit so that he's hearing the texture of the bedsheets and seeing the sound of Leareth's pacing footsteps, and also random flickers of memory - many of them memories of BEING TORTURED - are rising to the surface. 

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Kib is not at all relieved by this reveal about how they're going to torture him this time. His breakfast winds up all over the sheets, he loses bladder control, he screams and screams and screams, sobbing, into his arms and the pillowcase depending on how he happens to be thrashing moment to moment.

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:Leareth, should I keep going: 

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He doesn't like it any more than she does, Leareth is thinking. :Yes: 

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:I cannot work safely when his - emotional state, is this agitated: 

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There is a longish pause. 

 

 

 

 

 

:...Can you keep him unconscious and then deep-scan him like that.: 

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:I can try:

Nayoki steps forward and seizes the young man's flailing hand and shoves. 

:SLEEP:

And from Kib's perspective, over a period of several seconds everything goes washed-out and then stops cohering into sensation and all and then is nothing. 

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He starts having one of those dreams, almost immediately - she's planning her wedding, filling out the guest list and debating whether she should sew her own dress -

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Nayoki tries not to focus on that. She softens and stretches and unfolds more memories, builds a scaffolding under them, tries to figure out how to squeeze the whole messy unfolded structure onto the young man's neat memory timeline. 

(Finds herself imagining the version where it was Leareth, with his perfectly organized mind entirely under his control... That's far too disturbing to think about but she can't quite not think about it...) 

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Leareth is a Thoughtsenser too.

He opens his Gifts fully and ignores the dream-content in their rescuee / prisoner's surface thoughts, focusing instead on the content of each erased memory as Nayoki does her best to unfold them. It's probably going to be horrible, but he doesn't bother bracing himself. He's seen enough, over the centuries and millennia. 

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In this one Kib is being raped by people he can't identify, wearing the faces of his husband and his boyfriends and people he barely even knows - in this one he's probably hallucinating, there'd be no way to put him back together again after all that, and indeed the damage keeps reversing itself just in time to reoccur - in this one they've torn off his eyelids and nailed his ear to the wall so he can't not watch while they mutilate some Elf, a stranger, and shove bits of her down his throat - in this one he's drowning and a voice coos that one little shine can't hurt anything, and it'll stop as soon as Kib agrees, he swears -

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Leareth's mind wants to feel some sort of emotion about this, and he folds that away for later and instead feels zero emotions right now. 

He takes notes on the content. 

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Their sort-of-rescued-prisoner's mind is really weird. 

There are lots of fake shoved-in memories, including some that were faked and shoved in and then hidden again, which are easy to identify as not-real. She shoves those into a box-scaffolding to be dealt with LATER. 

There are memories that were erased and buried, and then put back, in the right place in his mental number line. Sometimes the erasure and restoration happened multiple times. 

There are memories from earlier than his capture where the worst mess mess starts, which were folded and hidden and buried, and which she can now stick back and unfold for Leareth's perusal. 

...There's whatever in all hells is going on with the spotty crumbs of memory inserted before the point on the timeline where he was even born. Those seem un-messed-with. 

It takes the entire rest of the day, and she's pretty sloppy about it at times and has to go back and tidy up her earlier work, but Nayoki eventually gets all of the memories unfolded and scaffolded in her best guess at their actual chronological order and then spread out for perusal. 

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Do any of them contain anything more informative on Melkor's magical capabilities and resources, the Elves' magic, or other relevant strategic facts? 

Leareth focuses particularly on the block that Nayoki found erased from pre-capture and has now shoved back into the right place. 

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The trustworthy pre-capture (post-birth) memories suggest that the Elves can make magical artifacts - a laborious, delicate process requiring the Elves' native telepathy. One of the boyfriends, Maitimo, the King, has a dad and a brother who are both brilliant at this. They can also do magic music, which humans can also do; there's also a brother in that family who is a genius at this, though the baseline talent is pretty high in the Elf population generally. Kib, his husband Aydanci, and Maitimo's adopted little sister Lári are all from another world, where there are humans, who are not born but spring into existence as babies in the wilderness, and the humans can servantmake, a craft which takes several forms - rendering animals willing and able to respond to verbal commands, puppetting any articulated object that has the right sort of moving parts, detaching spots of light or shadow on surfaces and rendering those movable manually or programmatically, programming automata that take the same action over and over again, programming golems which can move even if they're sculpted of solid wood or stone or metal with no hinges or joints built in and which can take sensory input and use that to follow their algorithm. Kib invented a line of them that can speak, before he was captured.

Melkor is a Vala, the varietal of gods found in Arda; the other fourteen are not (particularly) evil. Valar can do more or less whatever they want with some not very intuitive limits, but they are stronger in their home territories with time to build up investment in the land. When there used to be a portal between the two worlds (the work of the non-evil Valar), Melkor exploited it to steal some babies. They are presumed to have grown up in Angband and been taught servantmaking out of books. Maiar are like Valar but weaker.

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This is pretty informative. 

Leareth stays for the full length of time, and personally skims through all of the uncovered memories, even the horrifying ones. 

Once Nayoki is done, he leaves. 

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