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Mar 02, 2021 3:58 PM
mid-Angband Kib lands on Leareth
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That is as nice as things get. He attempts to relax and not have any expectations.

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Aww, that's something. Tarla will settle for giving him another shift worth of things being as nice as they get, and hope it helps in the long run. Maybe he'll get better? She's not really sure how...getting better...from something like this even works. 

At the end of her shift she goes and finds Leareth and asks him what the plan is. 

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"The plan for what?" Leareth says absently. "I am trying to find this other world. Once I can confirm whether or not it exists, we can plan our next steps from there." 

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"No, I mean, the plan for what to do with your horribly traumatized rescued prisoner. Well, rescued from Melkor, he's arguably just your prisoner now." 

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"We are keeping him safe and feeding him and treating his injuries, right?" 

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"I - just - can Nayoki fix it?" 

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Sigh. "Nayoki said that talking to him for five minutes made her want to tear her hair out, and - she is not actually very experienced with the kind of Mindhealing that helps traumatized people, and is not comfortable attempting that when he is unwilling to engage with the premise that Mindhealers exist or that we want to help him, rather than all of this being a hallucination. She thought that giving him a very safe predictable environment for a while might help, and that arguing with him about our realness is almost certainly not going to help, and other than that she will wait and see. In the meantime, I am going to focus on the problem of finding this Arda and helping his friends not lose the war."

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She sighs and nods, unhappy but resigned. 

...

Kib's environment continues to be very predictable and routine. The three Healer-Thoughtsensers trade off at eight-candlemark intervals. They bring him meals, and tell him again at the start of each shift where he is, and sing or Mindspeech-read to him. His sleep cycle is normalizing and he ends up on a schedule where he's mostly asleep for the third, less chatty Healer's shift, and then Mara covers mornings and Tarla does afternoon-evening. 

Three days in, Mara starts asking him at the start of her shift what he wants for breakfast, giving him options of toast or scrambled eggs or porridge or bacon. 

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"Toast," he says, vaguely wondering what the point of this exercise is and fully planning to refuse to read into it if she brings him a plate of spiders.

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She does not bring him a plate of spiders! She brings him perfectly ordinary toast, with jam on the side, and then sings. She's learned some new songs just so she can stop repeating them at him. 

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He listens to the singing. He puts the jam on the toast and eats the toast.

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That is probably enough novelty for the day, she decides. Maybe tomorrow she'll ask if he wants paper to draw or something. 

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That evening, Nayoki comes back. Stands in the corner. :Leareth convinced me to have a proper look with Mindhealing Sight: she says. She does not appear to be looking forward to it at all. :You can keep reading to him. I...think it is not productive to ask him about it first, given how unwilling he is to consider whether this is real: 

Peek with Mindhealing Sight? 

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Wow this guy's loaf of bread is FUCKED UP.

For one thing, he has been tortured a lot over the past subjective while, but on top of that he has had a lot of memories erased, and sometimes put back, some of them over and over. A few memories are painfully conspicuous repetitions of the same scene over and over with light variations. Some clumsily inserted parts are whole-cloth fabrications. Even not accounting for all the time dilation, he's older than he looks, well past forty at least. And then as though that weren't enough he has an entire extra lifetime's worth of memories that has spent some time gradually slotting into place, piecewise, in his mental history, before his actual birth. That part is still gappy, only about half the total area filled in with crumb, distributed randomly over the negative space implied. Furthermore, all this trying not to think is really bad for him; he's unimaginably bored, a vibrant bright mind used to chewing on a dozen interesting problems at once flattened into a worthless waste of consciousness to deny the Enemy the use of him.

The saving grace is that all of this is remarkably organized, temporally speaking - the fake memories are off being the square roots of negative numbers by comparison to the crisp number line of his history, even if some of that number line is crowded with time dilation and hurried, sketched-in experiences that don't have as much space allowed them as they pretend to require.

Also there is a totally unfamiliar mental action he is shaped to be able to take but he is REALLY DEFINITELY NOT going to take it.

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She can see it a lot clearer this time! She wasn't focusing on it this deeply before, when she was trying to dig up the content of his thoughts. 

It's one of the most interesting things she's ever seen! Also incredibly horrifying! Nayoki is so incredibly torn between wanting to stare at it for the next day straight and wanting to flee the room! 

Poor man. She isn't at all sure that she can help him. Maybe she could help him clean up some of that layered-pastry-like mess of buried and glued-on and entirely fake memories, if he were cooperative with the process, but...she has a feeling that's going to take a while. Trying to muck around in there with Mindhealing when he's not actively cooperative is just going to make even more of a mess. 

She finds herself thinking that he seems like someone Leareth would get along with and respect a lot, if he were, well, willing to have thoughts.

Eventually she slips out. 

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The next morning, after the routine of Mara asking what breakfast he wants, Leareth comes back. Sits at Kib's bedside, waits for a few seconds to see if Kib will acknowledge him in any way. 

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Kib does look at him eventually.

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"I have done further analysis on our magical readings from your arrival," Leareth says, very calmly. "At this point it seems more likely than not that, in fact, you were coming from another world, one quite far away. I have completed some preliminary research on finding a way there with our magic, and I think it is possible in theory, but - there is a very large 'space' to search, and I need to narrow it down to make this at all tractable." He pauses, impassive, gathering his thoughts. 

"It would help to know as much as possible about Arda's properties, especially physical laws and how magic works locally, if it does. Obviously if I were in fact Melkor you would not wish to help me travel between worlds, but also giving Melkor detailed descriptions of the world he himself lives it would not be of any value to him, whereas in the hypothetical where you are in another world now, it - is what might allow me to reach Arda and offer the Elves my help with winning the war." 

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Kib is not going to evaluate this argument as it would require thought but as it happens he has already concluded that he can state things the Enemy already knows. "The singing's magic. They make magic objects sometimes too. And Maiar and Valar do some other sort of magic, I don't know how. It's flat there." He hadn't noticed any other obvious differences in the laws of physics beyond the flatness.

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"Is the singing itself magic or is it an innate talent - could you have learned to do the singing magic, despite being from elsewhere?" 

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"Yes." He didn't get far with it though. That's how Aydanci died - he might never have come back - Kib still can't sing well enough for reliable effects - Aydanci can this time, though, raised by Elves -

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Leareth makes a mental note of that thought but doesn't ask about it. "Ah. Can you do it at all, even very badly - it would be a great help for me if I can observe the magic myself, it does not even need to work it would just need to be noticeably something." 

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"I'm not doing magic for you - murderous mindraping bastard -" It's not a very creative insult but he can't recall any very good ones he's invented in the past and he is not going to THINK about things just to creatively insult Melkor or Thauron or whoever. "If you want me to sing you a song you fucking know how, you - fuck you -"

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Leareth ducks his head, is silent for a long moment. He's - honestly sort of impressed. Also this is the most engaged he's seen the man to date, even if it's coming in the form of swearing furiously at him. It feels like a hopeful sign, if not exactly a good sign? 

He does in fact know how to make the young man do things for him, and he isn't going to push it; judging by his reaction to the last time, using compulsions will destroy all the fragile cooperation he's managed to elicit, and he needs that - and also it just seems like a especially costly tradeoff, causing even more mental damage to someone who's already been through enough. He'll do his best to work from the description alone. 

"What sorts of things do the magic items do?" he goes on, his tone very neutral. 

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"Fuck you," repeats Kib, though he is in fact thinking of assorted magic items, the brilliantly shining gems Fëanáro made and his anti-aging necklace and all his protective gifts his boyfriends heaped on him when they were first gearing up for war -

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