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May 29, 2022 3:33 AM
if you think about it this thread was logically implied by the other threads
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The hit is too sudden and too deep for pain, which is a bad sign, but she has time to think that perhaps it isn't over. If she makes it out, even if she collapses bleeding to death on the other side, the odds are decent that her parents will be able to save her. And now she's fuzzy in the head and it's lucky how their strategy only requires her to lie here -

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Through the deepening fog, from a great and ever-growing-distance, she feels the induction spell take her, and then she doesn't feel anything at all. 

 

 

 

 

...There continues to be nothing at all, but it's an odd sort of nothing, for dying, because it kind of feels like there's still a her

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Maybe she's....in a coma? That happens sometimes. She doesn't think it tends to happen from being stabbed in the heart, but. Maybe the best the people on site in Surabaya could do was some kind of stabilizing spell and now they're frantically trying to get better help from Boston. Boston's good for it, she thinks. Will her father even know to contact them - yes, they'll text his phone, and he'll text back that Annisa is in a coma, and then eventually they'll be able to throw some better magic at waking her up.

 

....this hypothesis is not actually a great fit for what she is experiencing. She doesn't have access to her body, but her mind feels very clear. She's not in any pain or any fuzziness and she has had, over the last four years, exposure to a pretty reasonable range of horrific injuries and almost everything leaves you either in pain or fuzzy.  

She's confused.

 

 

She - tries to open her eyes and look around? This probably won't work, what with how if she had access to her eyes then she'd just be awake in a bed somewhere and it feels like she very much isn't that. 

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This doesn't entirely not work, but it's indeed not at all like being awake in a bed somewhere. She's...nowhere. As though the world hasn't been painted yet. There's only formless white, and it doesn't exactly feel like she's seeing with her actual eyes, it's somehow more abstracted than that. 

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And then there's a sense of - something. A presence, maybe. Not touching her, but watching her. 

 

(Vanyel is so incredibly confused and his attention was - or will, or would have been, time is very confusing - mostly on one of the new rooms that are part-of-him now, where he was having an almost human kind of conversation, or argument even, with the Shadow-Lover. And then - he's very small, still, for the kind of being he is now, and very local, but something happened nearby and it was - unexpected - and now the threads of the future are rippling and shifting and he can't see anymore. Which is strongly disprefered, because when he COULD see them, the path to 'Leareth survives the next forty-eight candlemarks' did not look trivial to navigate....) 

(And - then someone died. In Haven. Which would be fine and expected and predictable, people die every day of old age and falls and infected cuts, but this one was different. This one....wasn't part of the tangled threads of past and future.) 

(And so he reached out and caught it, which is how he discovered that he can apparently just DO THAT now, and Vanyel, or the entity that used to be Vanyel, is now half just boggling at this, and half trying to figure out how to...interact...with the soul of a dead intelligent being who may or may not be human but who definitely does not belong here.) 

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- oh my god, she's dead.

 

And this is going infinity percent better than expected because she in some sense exists but apparently there is a god and conditional on there being a god Annisa's pretty sure that it's a bad plan not having believed in them! They get really mad about that!! She doesn't think they accept 'I thought the option value of trading sex for aluminum beat out the nebulous benefits of religiosity' as an explanation! She wouldn't if she was a god!!!

 

 

She...kneels? She tries to kneel, at least. 

 

"Is it too late to convert?" she tries to say. It comes out, sort of, in a very small voice. "I am still a child and I was not raised religious but I would like to convert if it isn't too late."

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Um. 

 

 

 

This is....really incredibly awkward?

Vanyel feels that gods probably aren't supposed to go around having human emotions like embarrassment, but he's new to this, and he has absolutely no scripts for responding to that, and...also he isn't entirely sure he knows how to talk to the soul in question without damaging it, it seems nontrivial. He thinks he could do it safely with Leareth, but partly that's because Leareth is himself, and partly it's because he's not currently dead, and living minds seem - less fragile? The patterns have more redundancy? 

(And now he's obsessively checking the bright thread of Leareth's life woven through the tapestry of Haven-and-its-causal-surroundings, which aren't the same thing as physical surroundings and are also incredibly confusing to interpret. He can't see very far ahead, which is stressful. Leareth is alive, but he's going to have to dedicate some active attention to keep it that way, and he still hasn't figured out the bizarre anomaly that made Foresight so noisy in the first place.) 

(Though it's probably related to the dead mortal soul he's currently very, very carefully 'holding' in some metaphorical not-space-not-time, trying not to disturb the so-fragile patterns of self.) 

 

- if he makes the metaphorical not-space-not-time somewhat less abstract, fills in some concrete details to make it seem like an actual place, he - thinks that he might be able to insert part of himself into the same space and interact that way, without needing to directly not-Mindtouch the soul. Since that went rather badly when the Star-Eyed tried it with him, in the past. ...Vanyel thinks he can see how to do that, and then once he's seen it, it doesn't actually take time to execute it, or not exactly; he can feel it rippling out into his past and future, because 'now' is suddenly a much less privileged position, to a god, or even a meaningful concept at all....

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From Annisa's perspective, the presence seems to back off slightly, and then it approaches again, and this time the surroundings....change, almost as though a painter were painting the details of a world in front of her eyes. Which she seems to be experiencing having, again?

She's also experiencing standing, in a physical body, though it's - different than being alive, it's somehow less detailed. 

Nothing hurts. It feels as though maybe nothing could hurt, here. 

She's standing in a forest. The forest floor is covered in a deep carpet of fallen leaves, crackly-soft under her bare feet. The leaves, tinged red-and-gold with autumn, are whispering slightly as though in a breeze, though that too is somehow lacking detail. The sky is clear blue. There's a path ahead, winding into the trees and vanishing. 

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- and then there's a person, standing in front of her. A boy. He looks maybe fifteen or sixteen, and he's beautiful, pale and dark-haired, with finely chiseled features, high cheekbones, and piercing silver-grey eyes. He's dressed entirely in white, and his clothing also somehow seems like a not-quite-finished painting. 

....Annisa will notice, if she pays attention, that she herself is not technically clothed right now. 

(Oops. Vanyel did not at all mean to drop her in here naked, he just didn't...bother to think about clothes...?) 

The beautiful boy blushes and ducks his head. "Er, sorry about that." 

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Annisa does not really associate forests with peace or freedom! She doesn't actually have many associations with the kinds of forests that they have in cold places, she's never seen any!! It's lush and alien and - being naked is really far from at the front of her mind right now -

" - are you God? Or, uh, a messenger..." She doesn't remember what Muhammed was supposed to look like. He wasn't white, though.

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The boy shrugs. Smiles, in a self-conscious sort of way. "It's complicated. You can call me Vanyel. What's your name?" 

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Annie, to white people, usually. She's not sure that matters here. She's not sure what kind of god wouldn't know your name already? "Annisa Marunduri."

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"Annisa. Sorry, I - could probably figure out a lot more about you, but most of what I can see from here is in Foresight, and I think that doesn't show much on souls that aren't currently in bodies, and shows up even less for you? I - couldn't see how you died. I should have been able to, but I can't figure it out." 

It feels very awkward to be repeatedly apologizing for how he's bad at being a god, but Vanyel isn't sure what else to do, and also half of his attention is on watching every single scrap of Foresight he can find related to Leareth and Leareth's safety, and in another room-of-himself he's trying to chase down those causal-neighborhood threads in case this is a way to figure out what's happening up north. He can't see anything directly and he has no idea how to interpret most of what he's seeing indirectly - at least Jisa's safe, at least he knows that much, her thread is within his range of influence and - 

- huh, also suddenly intertwining with Leareth's. That's....new? Whatever 'new' means when past and present and future aren't entirely meaningful concepts. 

 

 

 

"You don't seem like you're from around here," the part of him being mostly-human-shaped in an imaginary metaphorical forest says, quietly, to the scared dead girl. 

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"I died graduating. Can you not see the Scholomance? That'd ....explain some things, I guess. Uh, I was mortally wounded graduating and I did feel the induction but I guess it was too late for me by then. I -" She isn't going to burst into tears, she isn't, she isn't, she has to orient, she has to figure out how to be safe here - she tries to distract herself by pinching her arm really hard and it doesn't even work, which is really unfair, and then she does burst into tears, which is pathetic.

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Vanyel can pick up somewhat more than the literal content of her words from that, it seems. When he pokes at what's happening here in more depth, he's in fact not precisely hearing words, not like how a human would; that part is on some level a metaphor, just like the forest is a metaphor, and the thing it's a metaphor for is more that he's - found a way of safely interfacing part of himself with the surfaces of her human soul, in a way that won't overwhelm or damage her, but that still conveys quite a lot more depth and density of information than speech would. 

She's from...elsewhere. Somewhere far beyond any of the threads-of-causality that touch Haven. 

Still holding the forest-stage, the entity that is Vanyel shifts more of his attention back to a different room - a more spacious, less human aspect, one less like the mortal human mage who died defending his home, and much more like the underlying Web-structure he once built. Concepts are translated into different terms, and then something reaches along other threads, touches - 

Can you see where this soul livedhe asks the vast inhuman god that lives behind the Shadow-Lover's facade. 

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Information is exchanged, not in words or even precisely in thoughts, but in ripples across the web of time and space and causality that they share. 

The god in the shadows cannot see this place either. And the god in the shadows existed before the moment Vanyel died and became something else, and so is aware that the soul in question didn't come from within the world. Not the material plane, or any of the other planes that the gods exist in or can perceive indirectly. There was nothing, and then there was an anomaly, and then there was something. 

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This makes NO SENSE. 

Vanyel passes back what he's learned so far, to the extent that it's even possible to translate. 

- and in another room he watches Leareth's future, and feels a god-emotion that isn't frustration, because now Jisa's thread is tightly woven with Leareth's, and ALSO Jisa's thread is - deeply tangled into what seems to be the source of noise and confusion? Vanyel can't see any hint of an immediate threat to Leareth's life; he can't see much at all.

 

 

 

- perceptions are translated back into mostly-human-comprehensible shapes, and the boy in the forest looks apologetically at the crying girl. 

"I'm sorry. I - wish I could have done something, or that I could - put you back, but it doesn't look like that pathway is open. I -" He has questions, but they're half outside of time; he doesn't need to ask everything right now, and possibly he doesn't even need to do things in a straightforward chronological order but maybe messing with that is too much to take on when he's only just now learning how to do this. So he just bows his head. "I'm sorry. I - do you want a hug?" 

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Gulp. She gets a handle of herself. "I want to keep existing. I will - convert to whatever I'm supposed to - do whatever you want -"

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Oh. Oh no this is upsetting. (The new less human parts of Vanyel...can't really parse the upsettingness, but the part of him that's in the forest with the child can, and - he thought he knew tragedy, he thought he was familiar with grief and loss and pointless waste, but he hadn't imagined this.) 

 

 

 

".....You thought you were going to stop existing entirely, forever, when you died?" 

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"...yes? That's - that's what - if you can't see the Scholomance that's what happens to every kid who dies there - god - we should be keeping them home but people didn't know and the, the religious wizards, died out, because all their children got eaten,"

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Vanyel desperately wants to give the terrified, grieving child a HUG and she clearly doesn't want that and so he doesn't, but it hurts. 

"I - want to ask more about that later," he says, as gently as he can manage. "But - I'm not going to demand anything of you, right now, for you to keep existing. I promise. Er, and honestly I don't know what it would mean to 'convert' to - me..."

It's possibly the most embarrassing concept he's ever had go through his mind. Vanyel almost says that he thinks the gods don't deserve anyone's worship, but that's - probably a confusing and also questionable thing to say when one is, oneself, a god. He wasn't expecting this morning, whatever 'this morning' means now, that he would be a god before noon, but apparently. 

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"Uh, the religions I've heard of say that you go to Heaven if you worship God and if you don't then either you stop existing or you go to Hell where you are on fire forever? I notice I'm not on fire and it's all right if I'm sometimes on fire but I'd really rather worship you, if it's not too late for that!"

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"That's horrible! ....Er, no offense, I don't - I'm not trying to criticize your religion, just - I don't want to hurt you, whether or not you worship me!"

And, in fact, he would prefer she didn't start trying to worship him, it sounds unbearably weird and awkward! But pressing the point will probably just stress her out even more. She's so scared. 

He tries to soften his voice again. "I'm sorry. I know this must be really confusing and you - weren't expecting it and didn't know to prepare yourself for it. It's all right. Anyway, I think all the other gods I know of definitely don't bother to make dead people's souls experience being on fire all the time? That sounds - really hard, actually, I think it'd take a lot of resources and, just, why." 

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....unlike everything else about this situation that has a straightforward answer! "...to incentivize people worshipping them! It's kind of inconvenient and lots of people probably wouldn't do it if you didn't threaten to send them to Hell! But it's not my religion, I'm not religious, that's the whole problem - or are you saying that all the religions are wrong .....and you didn't have anything to do with killing all the firstborns in Egypt...... or with Jesus...... or Muhammed...... and they were all making things up.... but then there is actually a god who's just nothing to do with that?"

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The forest is suddenly substantially less cheerful

 

- Vanyel catches himself. He hadn't realized you could do that by accident with a metaphor forest. "Sorry. I - what - killing all the firstborns? That's awful. I - don't have the slightest idea who or what Jesus or Muhammed are or were and I haven't heard of religions that worshipped them. So I'm mostly just feeling very confused here." 

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"I mean I hardly think there's anything wrong with killing as many children as you do if it turns out they all get a nice afterlife! Just, we didn't know that."

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