Jun 14, 2021 1:34 PM
I didn't think anthropics worked like that
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:- Oh. You...don't need to worry about romance-related associations with that. You're, er, not exactly his type: A mental chuckle. :Honestly, he might not even notice. He tends to be preoccupied, lately: 

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She'll remove an outer layer of clothing, slip under the blanket with a minimum of Vanyel disturbance, and endeavor, with surprising success, to nod off.

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By now the area inside the weather-barrier is fairly cozy. Eventually, the rain stops, the wind slows, and the night outside is quiet. 

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- About a candlemark before dawn, Vanyel is wrenched from an uneasy sleep, and lurches upright in a single motion, his eyes half rolled back as he reaches for the Web and his Farsight even before coming fully awake. 

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:Thellim! Wake up! Karsite raid - Van'll hold them off but we should move–: 

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Awake awake scrambling for her clothes if she's not told otherwise :awaiting instruction: once they're on

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:Just hang on a minute - Van's casting at a distance right now: 

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Vanyel is holding perfectly still, not visibly doing anything, except for the part where he's breathing hard. 

- Eventually he shifts position. :Ugh. I am SO sorry about that. This border is goddamned crawling with scout parties. Think I scared them off, but we'd better pack up and go now - sorry...: 

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Anyone from dath ilan would recognize Thellim's stance as awaiting emergency instructions from whoever has assumed responsibility for coordinating response to this emergency.  It takes her a conscious second to override the fact that Vanyel isn't talking in the way that she's been trained to expect commands, during emergencies.  What a stupid flaw to instill in people who might be transported to other worlds.

:Command me in any unskilled ways I can help you pack.:  She's got her clothes on, that's her own private property done.

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:Um, all right. We'll just need to get the tent taken down and packed–: 

Vanyel balls up the blanket, shoves it roughly into the saddlebag, and tosses the bags out the door before worming his way after them. During the two minutes or so it takes them to disassemble the tent and fold up the canvas part for transport, he barely says a word to her - just a couple of Mindspeech instructions, but mostly he covers that with gestures. He replaces his Companion's saddle with minimal, practiced motions. 

Again, he offers her a hand and helps pull her up onto Yfandes' back behind him, and this time doesn't wait for confirmation that she's holding on before they gallop away into the darkness. 

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It's very unclear how Yfandes can see where they're going enough to avoid head-on collisions with trees! Maybe Companions have better night vision than humans. 

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Thellim will be still and quiet again!  It got her killed last time, but that probably was associational rather than causal, and anyways her final outcome there was well above the 99th percentile of her expectations.

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After ten minutes or so, presumably once they're out of range of the immediate danger, Yfandes slows to a more reasonable pace.

Dawn is on its way; the sky is distinct from the branches over their heads, now, grey against black. 

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For a while longer, Vanyel is moodily silent. 

:You can ask questions if you want: he says finally. :It'll be another few candlemarks before we reach Horn: 

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:I have a number of questions but first - should you be eating something?  I will literally prechew food for you, if that will help you make it to Horn, where there is, I hope, much better food.:

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:- Ha, I've decided I like you: Yfandes sends privately to Thellim, with a mental chuckle. And to both of them, :Van, she has a point. It won't delay us much to stop for breakfast: 

She appears to have made this decision for him, since she's slowing to a halt between two arching tree-trunks. 

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Vanyel grumbles something at her, but sighs and slips down from the saddle, offering Thellim a hand again. 

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Thellim continues to be grateful for such assistance.

She'll wait until food is distributed and then dual-send to only Vanyel and Yfandes, on her best novice-psion form, :Yfandes, can you give me the rundown on the drastic coordination breakdown with Karse?  Including your best attempt at passing their Imitation Game test for how they'd describe the conflict themselves?  Vanyel, you still seem not in great shape and just did 'mage' stuff on top of that, I'd suggest letting Yfandes take the lead during this conversation and chiming in with your diffs.:  It's a weirdly micromanagy thing to suggest but Thellim simply does not know what isn't obvious to this world's natives.  :Oh and by the way Vanyel, surprise, Yfandes taught me some Mindspeech exercises last night!  I have no idea if I've made enough progress that you'd notice at all, but if you did, that's why.:

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:I was wondering! It's definitely noticeable - good work: 

Vanyel leans against Yfandes' flank and gnaws on more jerky. 

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:All right. I don't know what you mean by 'Imitation Game' but I'll do my best to explain how the war started. We don't know, because they attacked without a formal declaration of war first - and because they keep murdering our envoys when we send them - but my sense is it's mostly a war over territory triggered by some internal politics, but with some religious pretext. Valdemar has always had a very firm policy that our citizens can worship whichever god they like; it dates back to the Founding, right, and King Valdemar praying to literally any of Them who'd listen? But Karse has a state religion around Vkandis Sunlord, and they go through periods where the dogma is that everyone in the world needs to be converted. By force if necessary: 

The disapproval in her mindvoice is clear. 

:- Then again, like I said, I don't know how much it's really that. The King is unpopular and apparently seen as weak, and - for some stupid reason - starting a war can be a way leaders try to show everyone how tough they are? ...And also they have more total mages than us and probably figured they could win it easily: 

A pause. 

:Unfortunately for them, they didn't know that one of our mages is Vanyel: she adds, with pride. 

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:Sorry, there's - a lot of unfamiliar concepts there - not so much the words, as the states of the world the words are talking about - so much to untangle - I'm trying to analyze this inside my own theoretical framework, trying to figure out which step of the proof that this shouldn't happen, is failing.  Why the absence of war isn't a simultaneous improvement for all the agents.  So far I've got possibilities that look like 'The absence of war isn't an improvement for an alien superbeing called Vkandis Sunlord', 'Karse thought they could consume all of Valdemar's resources, Valdemar thought Karse couldn't, and there was some prior breakdown of the theorem against common knowledge of disagreements' - though I don't see how it could still be that, presumably they know Vanyel exists now and that they aren't conquering Valdemar that easily?  Or do they still think they're about to win?  And a third possibility is that this war improves the position of the 'King', so it's good for the King but not for the rest of Karse's faction, and Yfandes knows this but the rest of Karse doesn't.  Does any of that - sound correct?  Or does it all sound equally like a clueless outworlder talking?  And are you certain that Karse is murdering envoys and Valdemar isn't doing that?:

Murdering envoys sounds really bad.  Like there's no way that could be an honest mistake or even a... she doesn't have words.  It's like a vicious assault, but taken up to the level of assaulting the meta-level where peace could happen if there needed to be peace.  If she talks to a Karsite and the Karsite plainly confesses that yes, Karse is doing that and Valdemar isn't, that's more than enough for her to side with Valdemar outright, unless there's a really big factor Yfandes isn't telling her about.  As could easily be the case, of course.

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Vanyel winces, straightening up a little; this time he does seem somewhat offended. :Gods! No, of course Valdemar doesn't murder envoys - or wouldn't if the Karsites had sent us any, as far as I know they haven't yet. And I would definitely know. Er, the King of Valdemar is one of my close friends: 

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Yfandes seems...thoughtful, mostly.

:I - don't think I really understand why you're so surprised by this happening? So maybe my explanation is missing something basic enough that I take it for granted. I...do think it's plausible the leadership of Karse had different beliefs about our relative strengths, at the start – for one, we were deliberately secretive about the strength of Vanyel's mage-gift, so they couldn't have known beforehand, and...just, in general they weren't going to have all the information on us, it'd take too much work for their spies. They did time the war for when Queen Elspeth died and King Randale took the throne; he's very young, it's not an unreasonable expectation that he'd be inexperienced at leading a war effort. And I think the last point is a good one, too: 

She doesn't mention, or acknowledge in any way, the comment about Vkandis. 

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:This doesn't happen in my world.  Not since the start of safe-to-know history.  Something must account for that difference.  It's just - so much is different - it could be that I'm mining completely the wrong resources, because this is real life, and the actual key factor is that everybody in my world knows how to prove this doesn't happen to dignified agents, and the real difference I should be looking at is something that made mathematics progress more slowly in this world, nothing to do with Karse or Valdemar in particular.  Or we could just be earlier in this world's history, before people prove the key theorems, and that stage of history looks completely different because of mage-lights and Mindspeech and gods.  In a much more practical sense, I'm trying to decide if I believe the story where, roughly, Karse is wrong and Valdemar is right.  It sounds like Vanyel is confident that he has full access to the relevant information, and he seems like a dignified person who keeps to universal Virtues, but good practice really says that I should talk to at least one Karsite about this too.  Why don't all the other factions - countries? - come in on Valdemar's side, if it's that clear-cut?:

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