Oct 25, 2021 7:27 AM
some dath ilani are more Chaotic than others, but
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The last plane trip of Keltham's first life starts out uneventful.  He boards the aircraft, strolls a third of the way down the aisle with his eyes assessing all he passes, and then sits next to the first person who looks like a more promising seat-partner than all of the previous people he passed.  This is a woman reading alt 9, book 3 of Reckless Investor Miyalsvor, a book series not entirely ungermane to his own life interests.  Keltham takes out his own copy of Three to Infinity by Petheriel, reading it long enough for it to be a costly signal that he actually cares about the book's content.  Maybe a conversation will start, maybe it won't.

The woman's name is Thellim!  She is actually a fiction matchmaker, whose interest in reckless investing is purely as fiction!  She does not aspire at all to the impossible (and even self-contradictory) Art of investing in ways contrary to other investors' wisdom even as all other investors try to do the same.

"Mad Investor Chaos", as he sometimes calls himself, sees no profits to be reaped from further conversation here.  After a bit of further cognition, Keltham decides that the previously viewed portions of airplane didn't contain any significant promises he was passing up, and it's not worth moving seats to go looking again.  He gambled and lost, and may as well finish reading his book.

The two of them pass the plane trip mostly reading quietly to themselves, until the point where the plane crashes and everyone dies.

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This place is very cold, and very flat, and has no particular distinguishing features. Miles away there is smoke in the air, as from a chimney. 

 

Farther miles away there's a big soap-bubble force-field kind of thing.

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Shakingly, but not slowly, Keltham rolls to his feet, does a rapid body-check to see if he has any detectable injuries after his plane crashed and his - head came off, he is reasonably sure he remembers the sensation of his head being literally ripped off his neck.  It does seem to be back on, though.

Somewhat gingerly, Keltham turns his head around to check for anything resembling a familiar or unfamiliar threat.

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Plausibly threatening: the cold. It's really quite cold. The.....shrubs? They're low to the ground and look spiky but not particularly threatening.

 

There's really not that much else. It doesn't look like a place that has been particularly touched by human habitation. 

The soap-bubble forcefield thing looks deliberate. It rises to the same height everywhere, hard to judge from here but at least fifty feet, and there's motion faintly visible on the other side of it, hard to pick out at this distance and through the distortion, moving four and six-legged shapes.

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..and the direction with smoke in the air?

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The smoke is maybe rising out of a building, or something else grey and square and purposeful. It's not very far from an edge of the soap bubble. Between here and there there's frozen tundra, and some small stunted trees. 

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Keltham takes a few moments to update his store of hypotheses on all this startling new evidence, computing at the lightning speed of sheer wordless guessing that the Bayesian posterior sums up to -

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- nothing.  Yeah, he's got nothing.

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Mad Investor Chaos heads off, at a brisk heat-generating stride, in the direction of the smoke.  It preserves optionality between targeting the possible building and targeting the force-bubble nearby.

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Up a little closer, it's clearly a building, or actually a cluster of them, all of them one story high, all of them made of grey stone, or painted like they're made of grey stone. There's...what might be people, walking between the buildings periodically.

The sun moves across the sky, but not down in it.

It's really cold.

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Yes, thank you sensorium, he is aware now that it is quite cold, that is why he is not carefully thinking through all of this in much more detail in advance, and is instead running towards the possible heat source whilst also generating more heat that way himself.

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When he gets close enough people see him. They - turn and wave, nonchalantly, and then keep going; apparently the presence of a person racing across the tundra inappropriately dressed for the weather isn't notable in itself. 

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Possibility 1: that people materialize around here after death and run in towards the nearest buildings all the time.

Possibility 2: that the people seeing him have entirely misinterpreted him as some other phenomenon not in need of heat.

Possibility 3: that it is BUTT-CHILLINGLY COLD and he needs to KEEP RUNNING into the nearest enterable building.

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Its door swings open for him. Startled people turn to look at him now. 

 

"Something incomprehensible?" one of them says.

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OH GOOD WARMTH.  "Keltham," he says between breaths, tapping himself.  "Dath ilan," making the gesture for thing A coming from thing B.  "I died in a plane crash and woke up here.  Hope somebody here speaks Baseline or has a universal translator device."

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- they glance at a girl in the corner.

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She casts Tongues. "Say that again?" she says, in Baseline.

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"Keltham.  Dath ilan.  I died in a plane crash and woke up here.  What's the correlation between the strange speech and gesture you just did, and your ability to communicate with me when you could not do so previously?"(*)

(*This sentence takes less than half as many syllables to say in Baseline as in Taldane.)

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" - I cast Tongues, because it's a translation spell and you were speaking an unfamiliar language. You died and woke up here? This isn't an afterlife."

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"Yeah, I was wondering if there'd been a mistake or systemic hiccup.  I'd perhaps ask you how to get to a place-people-go-when-they-are-dead, but I feel like first this possible systemic hiccup should be checked for profit potential."

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" - that's a phrasing. Uh, I think Golarion ....hmmm. I think probably most dying people would rather show up in Golarion than in a proper afterlife, but they're probably wrong about that? I hadn't really thought about it before because I have never heard of such a mistake."

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"I know nothing of this subject matter, at all.  So far as my people know, when you die, either Civilization manages to retrieve your brain-soul and wake you up much later, or you stop existing.  I died under circumstances where my brain-soul could not reasonably have been saved.  That I continue to exist at all is an unexplained violation of all expected laws of existence from my perspective.  If the same holds true from your perspective - does my new world also have proverbs about violations of previously holding generalizations being interesting and profitable in proportion to the degree of previous belief in the generalization that was violated?"*

Keltham has NO idea what is going on but he is SO ready to profit from it, he has been waiting ALL HIS (short) LIFE for something generalization-violating to profit from.

(*All of this is also much faster to say in Baseline.)

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"...dead people usually go to afterlives," she says. Start with the bit you are confident about. "They don't cease to exist entirely, usually, that sounds awful. Some people get eaten in their afterlives but it's not, you know, a common thing - and you can just not go to Abaddon, which is the afterlife where you get eaten - sorry, the translation's very -

- very -

- do you mean basically the thing where if you want to be a fabulously rich adventurer you'd better have a damn good reason why the tomb you want to rob hasn't been robbed already, but generalized to everything? We ...don't have a proverb for that, I don't think it does generalize to everything, most things the reason why no one's dealt with them is that no one powerful could make that much money off it, and it wouldn't be much fun -"

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"Sounds like your universe is nothing like my universe.  We don't have places-people-go-when-they-are-dead.  We don't have translation 'spells'.  And you don't have explicit math about inexploitable equilibria, which implies a vast amount of other missing knowledge.  If you've never previously seen people like me showing up, I'd say a glitch has occurred, and that is exactly the kind of situation where you might be able to feast on an exponentially vast buffet of profitable strategies that nobody else has tried before because they couldn't take advantage of the glitch."

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" - well. We have not seen dead people showing up before, except if someone raises them as a zombie, or resurrects them, and the thing you described doesn't really sound like either of those things. It does seem important to, uh, get Asmodeus in touch with your world, so that we can collect the souls of your people when they die, instead of them ceasing to exist."

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