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Sep 26, 2021 9:05 AM
azabel lands in ASFTV!timeline valdemar
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:Whenever you are ready, then:

Leareth pauses, waiting for her acknowledgement and then looks her in the eye. 

:I was not responsible for either of the recent attacks on Valdemar and its allies. I had no contingency plans of that sort, nor any short-term hostile intent toward Valdemar; I had been focused on my negotiations with Vanyel, until this happened. I did not delegate the creation of any such plans without my knowledge, and after my investigation, I am close to certain that no one from my organization could have done this without my knowledge: 

His eyes bore into her. :The obvious implication is that someone – or Someone – else is responsible: The capital letter comes across quite clearly. 

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:It seems out of character for the Star-Eyed to explode one of her people's villages:

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:- Is that what happened in k'Treva? The intelligence I received was nonspecific - do you know the cause of the explosion...?:

Her blurred-out Mindhealing Sight truth-detection shows not the slightest hint of dishonestly. 

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:Heartstone blew up:

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Leareth's breath hitches, freezing for a moment. 

:...I could not do that. I - suppose it is flattering that the Heralds think I could: He shakes his head a little. :And yet, I agree, it is a baffling act for the Star-Eyed to commit against Her own people - and surely unnecessary, if the goal were to push Valdemar over the brink into a war, the Changecreature ought have been sufficient for that. I am very confused, and I mislike it: 

Again, Leareth is obviously telling the truth. 

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...hm. Thinking about it from that angle she has half an idea but it doesn't seem like his business.

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:And the timing of your arrival here is...interesting: Leareth says, slowly. :Though I do not see how world-hopping accidents could be arranged even by the gods, so this is confusing as well: 

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:Maybe Urtho will come get me and we can ask him how his artifact works:

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Leareth nods, seriously, and bows his head. :I hope he does. It - would mean a great deal to me, if he - could be warned of what happened, in my timeline. I do not think he ever wanted such an outcome. Certainly my younger self did not. If I had known...:

He trails off into silence. 

After a long pause, he meets Azabel's eyes again. :You are free to do as you wish now, of course, but - I would appreciate if you could pass on to the Heralds of Valdemar what I have said to you. And, if you have any questions of your own, you are welcome to ask them first: 

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:What happened to you?:

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Leareth blinks. :...I am not sure what you mean: 

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:I know Ma'ar. We're friends. He's about my age. I recognize the gyroscope in your head.

What happened to you:

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Leareth looks thoughtful, or maybe just distant, it's hard to tell. 

:I am still not sure I understand your question, but. Hmm. ...I suppose that I have a question for you, first - when you arrived in Haven, was there anything that was surprising to you, in terms of comparing it to Tantara and the Tower?: 

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:It didn't seem very two thousand years later?:

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:You had expected it to be - better, nicer, a pleasanter place to live, no? And it is...not: 

Leareth's breath eases out. He stares past her, at nothing in particular. 

:A very long time ago, I grew up in a place that was broken. And then I saw Tantara, I saw how things could be, and - I wanted to make everywhere like that. To make everywhere better than that. I swore a vow on the stars that I would do so. I tried. The war happened, and the Cataclysm; I assume that I made mistakes, though I am afraid I can no longer remember it clearly enough to be sure what those mistakes were: 

A pause. 

:...I spent a thousand years trying to rebuild the world around me. My plans failed, over and over, even when I they ought have worked. It took...longer than it ought have, perhaps, to realize that this went beyond mere ill luck. Even now, I am not sure why the gods of this world, who operate through coincidence and subtle nudges, so firmly resist innovation and progress. I have tried to speak with Them many times. They seem uninterested in communication, and Vkandis set me on fire for my trouble. Twice: 

His eyes return to Azabel's face, boring into her. :Valdemar is one of the better places to live, on this continent, right now - and nonetheless, children starve in the streets of their capital each winter. I want to build a world that has fewer such pointlessly tragic problems. The gods apparently oppose this, and for that reason, I cannot get anything done unless I am very paranoid, and - far more ruthless than would have seemed justified to my younger self. Perhaps that answers your question?: 

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:I think so.

Do you want to know what was in the journals?:

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:Urtho's journals? Vanyel gave a summary, before, but - I suppose I would appreciate your perspective as well, if you knew me - a different version of me...:

Leareth's expression is hard to read. His mind is...a little less scared, less vigilant, though the change is subtle. 

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:Mostly Urtho comes off really badly - in his own diary! - but it - seems relevant - that you seem to be having a pattern where other entities you might wish to treat with believe that nothing is beyond the pale for you and this justifies an extreme response:

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:...I made mistakes with Urtho. I think that - giving him that impression - was one of them: 

He pauses for a long moment, and then closes his eyes. :I did try the other way. Many times. Mostly it...did not help, not in the long run. I died, often; my allies died, or betrayed me; our plans fell apart. I - do not prefer needing to be the shape of person that I am, now, but - but I will take that path over abandoning my vow, and leaving the world to be broken forever: 

He looks at her again. :And I did try very hard, with Vanyel, to - do something different. ...If you have any knowledge of why he left for the north, it would help. I wish to talk to him, if he wants to talk to me, but I am not sure if he is coming instead to kill us both in a blaze of fire, as he has been destined by the gods to do since he was a boy of sixteen: 

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:I haven't met him, he was already gone when I arrived:

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Leareth nods. 

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:But it would be fairly understandable if you told him 'I plan to invade your country to murder ten million people there' and he decided to show up and murder you: This is such a weird conversation, this is SUCH a weird conversation.

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:I know: 

Leareth is silent for a long moment; it's not clear if he wants to say something else, or is deep in thought, or something else entirely. The gears of his mind are even more closed-off than before. 

- And then something shifts. A pathway that might be curiosity-anticipation-hope, and...a flicker of something, deep under the surface; it's not exactly a structure present in Ma'ar's mind - except for the odd sense that maybe with Ma'ar it's all of his mind, and Leareth is the one who keeps it boxed up and hidden from the light... 

:If there are other worlds: Leareth says, :then - that changes everything. I - I suppose I have been hoping for some new revelation that would change everything for...a long, long time: 

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:How do you mean?:

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:...I do not like my current plan, it is just that I have spent a thousand years trying to find another option, and the possibilities here in this world are exhausted. But, if there are other worlds - and it would be strange if there were only two - then, perhaps, I can find a path with a lower cost. It calls for a reevaluation, certainly: 

Leareth’s expression is unreadable, but his mind shows - a loosening, a deep sense of relief...

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