Sep 22, 2021 4:19 PM
leareth is captured by Cheliax
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It takes an agonizingly long moment for all their people to get to them for the teleport but they're not stopped, somehow. They dimdoor back across the border. The First Arcane puts up a rope trick, which is good of him because Carissa is completely out of spells now. Detect Thoughts isn't getting anything off their prisoner and is about to expire. 

      "He's wearing some kind of protective equipment with a very minimal signature," the First Arcane says. "They all are. Dispels easy."

"Huh." She tries taking that off. 

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Leareth's people considered mounting a rescue. 

But several of them were badly injured in the earthquake, and several others are trapped in ways that would be easily solvable by throwing magic around, except the invaders can clearly track magic and at this point it's not at all clear they could do better than getting themselves captured as well. They keep trying to reach Leareth, and the strongest Mindspeakers attempt to Thoughtsense everyone in the invading party, right up until the point that another flare of magic makes them all disappear. 

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They hide the Rope Trick in the forest on the Iftel side of the border wall. Hauling the prisoner into it is annoying but it's much harder to use a geas to make them do things rather than make them not. 

    "I'm going to sleep," says the First Arcane. "Can you read him -"

"No. Not even with the artifacts removed. Spell's expired now anyway."

     Shrug. "See if talking gets anywhere." And he closes his eyes and apparently is immediately asleep.

 

Carissa is exhausted but not sure she'll have such an easy time of it. Probably it's one of those things that comes with maturity. 

She spends a minute staring at the exhaustion-fuzzed featureless wall of the tiny demiplane, chasing her thoughts in circles. - no. She can do that once Tongues runs out. 

"You can speak aloud to me," she tells the prisoner. 

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Leareth lies on the floor - ground? - of wherever this place is. He's uncomfortable, but mostly because being very well shielded doesn't actually prevent you from collecting a lot of bruises when you fall twenty feet out of the sky and land in a heap. At least he didn't hit his head. 

'Can' speak aloud doesn't mean he has to, but he's not going to learn much by just lying here. They all have some sort of shields, and apparently pushing with Thoughtsensing to get through them counts as an action. 

"Where are you from?" he asks her. 

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"Cheliax. How about you."

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"...The north." He's not even trying to be misleading or evasive; his territory doesn't have a name. "Is Cheliax in a different plane from this one." 

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"I think so. It could just be another planet. The north? The place you're from just calls itself the north? North of what?"

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"North of here." Leareth isn't sure if her magic can force him to answer, like a coercive Truth Spell, and he's not going to be any more informative than he must. "Why is Cheliax invading Iftel?" 

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Shrug. "Why'd you fall out of the sky?"

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Leareth watches her face closely, keeping his own expression impassive. "There was an earthquake and it would have squashed me had I not moved." 

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She mostly looks very very tired; she's summoned a wisp of magic that she seems to be using to examine his talismans, and her hand is shaking slightly. "If you tell us who you're from we might let you go. We're not at war with most of this planet's countries."

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Leareth doesn't trust that claim at all

"I am not from a country, per se. I do not have any diplomatic alliance or other relationship with Iftel. And I am no friend of Iftel's god." 

This is true. He's also not sure whether he likes Cheliax any better, and he's not inclined to let an awful war play out and wreak devastation on a country of mostly-innocent people no matter which god they worship, but nonetheless. 

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- so just an independent adventuring party that heard there was a war and camped out to check it out. That makes sense of everything, actually, including the very fancy magic items. She feels abruptly relaxed, she knows how to deal with adventurers. "Vkaendis, right? What's He all about?"

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She's clearly just drawn some inference, one that she feels confident in, that clarifies her position on who he is and what he wants here. He desperately wishes he knew what conclusion. It seems well past the bounds of plausibility for her to have guessed the truth, from what he said, but he's not seeing an obvious story that would fit... 

"Vkandis? He is the primary god of Iftel, where He does - what you just saw. ...And apparently Iftel has substantially more of an army than any of us from outside had realized, if this war has gone on for a month and they are not yet defeated. Vkandis is also the god of Karse, to the south, where He - interferes in geopolitics in various ways." 

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"Right, but - is he Lawful? Good? Evil? What kind of afterlife do his followers get? What gods is He allied with? If there were a threat to this planet, would He be one of the gods allied in doing something about it, or would He be too busy doing His own thing?"

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Leareth lets his lips twitch slightly. "- I think we are operating under very different paradigms, here, most of those questions are - not ones I would consider it made sense to ask. And our knowledge of Vkandis, as of other gods, is very limited. ...I can try to answer nonetheless, if you can define your terms more clearly." 

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"Sure. So, where we're from, you can categorize gods by how they relate to - god-concepts, they don't have exact human analogues, but we call them Law and Chaos and Good and Evil. Law is coordination. Giving, and keeping, your sworn word is Law, having armies where soldiers obey orders is Law, order is Law. Chaos is the opposite. The Chaotic gods - reject the idea that their future selves ought to be bound by their current selves, or reject the idea that they have continuity with their future selves, or they just do what looks strategic in the moment without trying to be the kind of entity that other entities can coordinate with. 


Good is, you know, feeding orphans and fighting demons and being merciful and protecting the innocent - acting in the interests of others. Evil is acting in your interests.


So people who follow a god where I'm from, they'll say, "oh, I follow Calistria, Chaotic Neutral, She's the god of revenge and escape and abortions and shelters for women fleeing their husbands. Or, Sarenrae, Neutral Good, She's the goddess of orphanages and food banks and nice stuff like that. And - of course the actual gods are more complicated than that, of course humans are very small next to gods and don't really understand them, or their motivations, but Sarenrae's going to give most of her miracles to nice people who run orphanages, right, it's not whatever She really truly is but it serves Her interests for there to be more of it, for whatever reason, and if you imagine it's because She's just like a nice grandmotherly person who wants to feed the hungry you'll be wrong but - but you're going to be wrong whatever you imagine, humans can't understand gods."

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The thing Leareth is thinking, (hopefully) behind the privacy of his shields, is that some specific humans understand a lot more about gods than she can imagine. 

He's not sure if his mind is still private, though. He didn't miss that they noticed and removed his Thoughtsensing talisman. He still shields natively, of course, he's a moderately strong and very well-trained Mindspeaker as well as a mage, and it seems that maintaining the shields he holds by default all the time isn't an action. Possibly they could order him to take his shields down but they haven't, yet, and maybe it's hard in the same way using his kind of compulsion to force precise actions is hard? 

Still, he nudges his thoughts away from that entire area. 

"I see. That ontology is - not how I think of our gods. I am unsure if our gods are even more alien and inhuman than yours, or if They simply communicate less. Certainly I cannot easily say whether Vkandis counts as Good or as Evil. He - promotes geopolitical stability, when it aids Him, and that also helps the citizens of His countries. He has worked a miracle of Healing through one of His servants, before. But also He is not averse to setting His enemies on fire." 

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" - I mean, even Good gods will set their enemies on fire, if it advances their goals. Good humans sometimes won't but that's because being a Good human is really hard and you kind of have to err on the side of not doing most things that advance your goals, if you want to stay in Good. The Good gods are less limited."

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"- I see. That is reasonable." 

Leareth tests whether the compulsion is going to let him sit up. He's tired of lying sprawled on his back on the floor of this weird not-space. 

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Nope. 

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"What other gods do you know of?"

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That's inconvenient. 

"The Star-Eyed Goddess is one. There is a god of the Valdemaran region but They are - more subtle, and as far as I know not worshipped under a specific name. There is a minor local god in the north, Kernos, likely allied with the Valdemaran god. South there is Anathei of the Purifying Flame, and..." 

He can list out a few more remote gods, including the gods of the Haighlei region. "- I suspect They count as Lawful, under your system? They certainly seem to prefer that the world proceed in an orderly fashion, without any unexpected hurdles." 

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"That's good."

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"I have not found it to be so, particularly? A world trapped forever at where we are now, stagnant and unchanging, is - still one where many people starve, pointlessly, or labour their whole lives to eat, when they could otherwise have learned and built something new." 

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