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Mar 02, 2021 4:08 PM
mid-Angband Kib lands on Leareth
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Leareth sits quietly for a while, taking that in - it's very useful, actually, and also huh he's having so many more thoughts right now, Leareth isn't sure what set that off. 

"You said they have a sun now, I think - do you know anything about how that was made?" 

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"No." The Valar took a short decade to get it aloft, after the Trees died. They started the war in the dark.

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It tells him enough, Leareth thinks; the Valar did it, with their - god-magic, however that works, he's inferring that Melkor's ability to alter time and mess around in people's memories is a god-magic thing too, probably there are other examples and the young man might even know some, but Leareth has pushed him pretty far already. 

"Would you prefer if I left now rather than ask more questions," he says quietly. 

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Kib would prefer he spontaneously combust. He doesn't bother answering the question.

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Leareth leaves. He tells Mara on the way out that she should maybe give him some space and keep an eye on him from outside the room for a bit.

So Kib is left alone in the quiet peaceful hospital-feeling room. 

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He sits up fuming about how awful Melkor is for a bit and then takes a nap.

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When he wakes up, Mara is there again and singing softly.

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Okay. Whatever.

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Leareth goes back to his research. Tries to draw up some theoretical models for the sort of world where inherently-magical music and a necklace that prevents aging would be in the top ten most salient uses of magic; a world which is flat, somehow, that could be lit by glowing trees, and then later a sun that the gods constructed in just a decade - or a 'short decade', whatever that means... 

There are about a hundred steps of guesswork and inference between that and what such a world would look like from the limited interplanar view he can get via the Void. And also it's probably just too far to Gate, and there are a dozen unsolved research problems in the way of getting around that. But he's starting to map out a sense of what the open problems are at least, it might still be the work of a year or a decade but at least he has traction on it at all. 

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Kib's routine continues on, exactly the same. Mara persuades Leareth to import a minstrel from Rethwellan who's sometimes been an agent for him, so she can learn all the songs he knows and have more variety; Leareth signs off on it absently without a moment's hesitation, he seems willing to throw a lot of resources at this. Tarla digs up more books of ballads in verse, he seems to find those preferable. They otherwise don't initiate interactions with him. 

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By slow degrees it becomes obvious-enough-not-to-require-thought to Kib that Melkor's trying to wait him out. As long as he keeps getting his dreams on time he isn't going to try to change this situation - he couldn't even if the dreams stopped somehow -

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The night-shift Healer kind of hates her job right now; she's a Receptive Empath, and Nayoki asked her to document all of her patient's dreams and note what fraction are nightmares and their approximate content, so Nayoki can figure out if they're decreasing over time.

Tarla notes to her at shift change once that he seemed to be thinking about some other dream he has, at some point, that he expects to get at certain intervals, maybe she can suss out what's going on with that? She wouldn't have thought anything of it, just, she mentioned it to Leareth and he went very still like he does sometimes and then said that could be important, so maybe it is? 

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The fraction of his dreams which are nightmares has not changed. It's less than half of them, they're just very striking. His other dreams are equally vivid - brewing tea for an older-looking man in a place so bright the light seems to seep through the walls, watching a little boy playing with a little girl from a careful distance. A surprising number of his dreams involve him being a girl, always the same one but at different ages - she goes grocery shopping, she works on assembling birds out of canvas and wood, she writes notes to herself -

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Huh. She's not sure what to make of it and neither is Nayoki, and anyway she feels pretty weird about snooping on someone else's dreams, so she goes back to just noting the general valence. 

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Leareth gives him a fortnight. 

During that time, he makes at least half of one research breakthrough, pulling on the thread of some Gate work he was doing and set aside, related to traceability and routing through additional planes. He's not sure the original premise holds, but he does prove that by cutting through the Elemental Plane of Air with a modified search-pointer, he can end up at a point in the Void much further than he ought be able to reach. 

One morning, he comes back in just after Kib's breakfast. Again, he waits for ten seconds for any acknowledgement of his presence. 

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Kib is not looking forward to the plot but trying very intently not to form expectations about what the plot is.

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"You refuse to engage with any of this because you wish to deny your enemy the chance to use you - your mind, your intelligence and your magic," Leareth says. "I understand that. It is - the strategic thing to do, from your point of view, and it would be pointless for me to argue with you, since Melkor could do that just as easily, it is not evidence that points to one world or another. However, in the hypothetical where I am not Melkor and this is truly another world, there - are perhaps some kinds of evidence I could offer. We have magic that I am fairly sure Melkor does not. If, at any point, that is something you wish to engage with, you need only ask." 

He doesn't wait around. He gets up and nods to Kib and leaves. 

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Mara is kind of expecting some sort of explosion of angry swearing. She stays quiet in the corner. Reads his mind. 

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notthinkingaboutitnotthinkingaboutitnotthinkingaboutit and also, even if he were, Melkor can do fully immersive sensoria, so he can fake anything he wants and there's nothing TO think about, is there, if they start a scenario with Findekáno on a pterodactyl he's very pliant and cuddly till they start hurting him because one of the times it happened to Maitimo it was real but they aren't even doing that so there's nothing to think about.

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He's spectacularly impressive at the whole not-thinking thing, Leareth muses, as he sits down in his workshop and stares tiredly at a wall covered in diagrams. Leareth isn't sure he would even be capable of that. 

He's pretty thoroughly convinced, at this point, that some incredibly powerful alien force has mistreated the young man very badly. Nayoki described the memory modification to him. Said that she doesn't think it could be done by a Mindhealer even in theory.

He's...correspondingly unsure how much of the information he thinks he has is even true. Arbitrary memory modification is terrifying. It still seems probably true that whichever Power did this to the young man couldn't have known to plan specifically to confuse Leareth, but - maybe not, if the snake monster was a fabrication too, it could be that this Power which might or might not be named Melkor did figure out how to travel to other worlds, and is trying to trick Leareth, specifically, into following some course of action that will end up serving his aims... 

As usual, trying to outscheme gods is the sort of thing that makes one feel as though they're going insane, and alien gods is even worse. 

He'll do one more week of research on the premise that the young man's pre-capture memories are unaltered, he decides, and after that - especially if he's not making much progress - he'll take more extreme action. 

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From Kib's perspective, his routine continue with very few changes.

Mara starts suggesting that he get out of bed and walk around; now that it's been a few weeks of regular meals, it'll help more than hurt his physical condition. 

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He will go on little walks without much fuss.

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After a few days of that, can Tarla coax him into taking a bath? 

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He doesn't want to get in hot water. If it's tepid he will get in the bath and go through the motions, though he's accustomed to different sorts of soap and whatnot. Vaguely recalls it's been a while since he shaved, and from there wistfully remembers Maitimo cutting his hair and this being very kinky for Elf reasons.

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Tarla sets him up with a him a tepid bath and soap, and is moderately confused about the hair-cutting thing and also embarrassed because it's a...sex thing...? She doesn't show this in any way, and is very quiet during his bathtime. Gives him clean clothes after, a local-style tunic and trews, not especially well-fitted because they haven't measured him or anything. 

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