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May 18, 2021 4:50 AM
Leareth is a terrible ICU patient. Does this thread need to exist: no! but who can stop me
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:I think we should not share all of the details! I am not sure which parts make sense to share at all; I am just suspecting that it is more than zero of them: 

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:Fair enough:

:Marian, earlier you were saying something about the patient's family's religion?:

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:Mmm?: Marian looks slightly concerned, and very self-conscious. :I, uh, probably shouldn't say anything else about them, there's confidentiality stuff and all...: 

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:Oh, no, I'm not interested in that family specifically, it just made us curious in general terms about religion here:

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:Oh: Marian sounds relieved. :What's it like in your world?: 

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:I won't know what would be most salient till I know what it's like here: Belrun dodges.

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:Right: 

Marian is having a hard time figuring out where to start, explaining religion to someone who doesn't only not know about the current most commonly practiced religions on Earth, but also doesn't have any context on the last several thousand years' worth of historical leadup. 

:Uh, so the most popular religions nowadays are monotheistic - they think there's only one god - though that wasn't true as much a couple thousand years ago, and it varies in some other countries. There are a few which are kind of interrelated, they sort of come from the same much older religion, Judaism - that's still around too but fewer total people, they kind of...believe they're the chosen people of God, and have a lot of practices around that. Anyway at one point two thousand years ago, there was a sect that split off around -: wow how is one even supposed to explain Jesus to people from another world without writing an entire essay about it, :- uh, around believing that this particular religious leader had been the son of God and when he got executed by the government he was sacrificing himself and dying for all of humanity's sins? ...I think it's more compelling than that in context, I'm not explaining it that well. Anyway that religion is called Christianity, and there are about a million different factions of it now but if you sum it all up I think it's...a third of the world's population? Two billion people. There's another branch-off called Islam which is based on the teachings of a different prophet called Muhammad, a few centuries after that, and it's less popular in this country but dominates in some other places, I think that's another one and a half billion people or something. Then there's a religion called Hinduism which is... Uh actually I'm kind of blanking on details, I learned about it in school a bit but it's rare here, it's very old though and less monotheistic? They have some neat creation mythology that I can't remember, and lots of cultural stuff with rituals and a traditional social caste system, and some beliefs about a cycle of rebirth or reincarnation and the concept that your virtuousness sort of accumulates across lives so you get better ones if you do good acts... There's a different religion called Buddhism that arguably branched off from Hinduism but it's pretty different, they don't really believe in a god per se, they have similar philosophies about the reincarnation thing but mostly it's about meditating until you reach 'enlightenment' and escape suffering. Or something. Then there a bunch of others but those three are the biggest by far. ....Oh and then like half a billion people in the world don't believe God exists at all and don't practice any religion. I looked it up once: 

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:....Your world's population is...five, six...billion people...?: 

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:That's so many people!:

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Marian, oddly, ducks her head and looks sheepish! Maybe even defensive! 

:Yeah, we had really really fast population growth during the twentieth century. But it's slowing now - there's something called the 'demographic transition', I don't know if your world would have the concept, but basically -: her eyes go slightly unfocused, her mindvoice slipping into the tone of ar recalled school lecture, :the theory's that when a society goes through an industrial revolution and infant mortality drops, you get a big spike in population, but after a while - especially if there's birth control and women can go to school - people start delaying having children, going to school first, and have fewer kids total. And even the developing world is starting to get closer to that point, now - I remember when I was little lots of people were freaking out about overpopulation and damaging the environment, but I think probably it won't keep going unsustainably like that forever. I, uh, could get my phone and show you the graph, it's pretty cool...?: 

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Leareth blinks at her, off-balance. :Marian, I - I was not judging your world's population growth - it makes perfect sense to me that with...all of this...: he gestures vaguely at the room, :your technological level would support a higher population. I - just - it is impressive. Incredible: 

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:...Oh: Now she's blushing slightly. 

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:I'm not sure our whole world has a billion all told - Leareth, do you have a good estimate -:

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Of course Leareth has an estimate. :A census across the whole continent is not feasible, of course, but - I would guess thirty million, currently. Perhaps as high as fifty million if the far western coast is denser-populated than I realized; Nayoki did not have figures on that. The Eastern Empire has the best administration for a census, and they are...eight million, currently? Unless the other continent on Velgarth is far, far more advanced than I know of, our entire world's population cannot possibly exceed a hundred million: 

A pause.

:...It would have been higher, before the Cataclysm. Much higher. But...half a billion, at most: 

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:Oh: Marian seems unsure how to respond to that. :Wow. I think even in the Middle Ages we had more than a hundred million people in the world - uh, but if your world only has two continents you know of then maybe that's why? We have lots. Uh, what's the Cataclysm?: 

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Leareth is starting to run out of Mindspeech stamina, and gives Belrun a hopeful look. 

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Oh boy. :Almost two thousand years ago there was a war and it got dramatically out of hand - a magical weapon destroyed a lot of stuff directly, but also messed up the weather for years and directly altered a lot of land such that it tends to be uninhabitable and dangerous; the cleanup is still underway:

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:Oh. That....sounds really awful. I guess it'd explain having fewer people: 

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Leareth takes a deep breath. :We can come back to it. Gods?: Again, he looks over at Belrun for rescuing. 

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:Ah, yes. Our world, uh, has them. I don't think I'm aware of anyone who thinks we straight-up don't have them, though different people tend to prefer and worship different specific ones and they aren't all friendly with each other. Companions, the magic horses I mentioned, were created ex nihilo about eight hundred years ago by an unknown god or gods, for instance:

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:Whoa! Really??? That's - wow - I don't even - what's that like? Can you pray and get miracles? Do the gods heal people?: 

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:...Sometimes. I confess that 'access to miraculous Healing' is not among the top twenty most salient traits of our gods, from my perspective: 

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:Yeah, most healing is done by Healers. Gods, uh, give people visions sometimes, made the Companions, that sort of thing, but most of their behavior has to be determined by sort of - echo effects - they're good at arranging coincidences:

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:....Uh, if that's the case, how do you - know it's actually them...?: 

Marian is trying VERY HARD to be tactful and not say anything about 'but do you actually have proof they exist.' Belrun and Leareth seem like sensible clever people and probably they wouldn't believe something stupid? 

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:- Well, you have a point that, in any given situation, it is hard to be sure. But - patterns accumulate over time...: 

Owwwwww his head. Leareth glances at Belrun again. 

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