In a bar between universes, watching the stars explode from her booth, there is a young woman drinking a steaming mug of creamy tea.
In walks someone... oddly minmaxed-looking, a skinny young man with a neat goatee who looks like what you might get if you applied gene editing and plastic surgery to the problem of producing a magazine cover model in real life, and then the resulting person did no maintenance whatsoever.
Milliways again! And another human! Hard to guess if she's going to be from a culture where interrupting strangers is rude or one where you run up to people and hug them by surprise.
He stops several feet from her booth. "I'd pay for a drink rec."
"- would you? Why?"
"You wondering why I'd pay for that kind of service, ever, or why I'd pay to get one from a human when Bar's right here and will do it for free?"
"Mostly the second thing."
"Trade you for that rec?"
"...sure, have you tried pineapple juice?"
"Not yet! And I like - learning to be a human, from humans, because human-majority societies just do things differently - and Bar's fine and her next rec will probably be better than pineapple juice, but letting her guess what I'll like doesn't tell me what ingredients I ought to be trying to import for the ten thousand other humans whose tastes I care about, or what humans have invented on their own, or..." He trails off with a shrug.
"You come from someplace with lots of non-humans?"
"Yeah, lots, although these days the state I'm governor of is majority human. Relatedly, if you need to evacuate your entire planet for some reason, I have relevant experience."
"I don't think we especially need to do that."
"Better than the alternative."
This doesn't seem to be going well and that kind of sounded like a dismissal so he'll just go ask Bar for supplies to make himself a new sign. And pineapple juice.
Pineapple juice! Cardboard and marker!
Huh. He doesn't like pineapple juice. This is useful information to have and he has no regrets.
He puts up his sign eventually.
DEFENSE MAGE FOR HIRE
I make objects indestructible, guard people against burns and command magic, etc.
I accept payment in multiple currencies, barter, and information about morality in governance.
At the bottom of the sign is a list of prices in seven different currencies.
"...you can make objects indestructible?"
"I can! Subject to limitations like, if you want a candle that will never be consumed by fire, your candle will also be useless."
"But a weapon would be fine?"
"Typically, if it's a weapon like a staff, it's easy, although I've seen some really complicated weapons that I had to get creative with."
"Mine's a swordstaff." She has it laid across the seats of the booth she's in, and pulls it out.
"Oh, cool. If it functions the way it looks like it does, that shouldn't be hard. What're you hoping to pay in?"
"I'm curious what you want to know about morality in governance? I don't know if I know much that you don't but I'd give it a whirl and if I don't have enough of it no harm done."
"So, in the world I grew up in, people cooperate because - ultimately because they want things from each other and like living in a peaceful society, and proximately because if they go around killing people or stealing things the government kills or enslaves them. And it's - great, but also, there's no protections for slaves, there didn't used to be charity, there didn't used to be people going around wanting other people to be happy as an end goal. So our precedents are all... brutal... and even given that I have the power now to make laws, I don't know what laws make people educate their children, or not torture anyone, or - my immigrants want to end slavery completely and I don't know how to replace it, that kind of thing."
"- oh. Uh. What do you think would happen if you ended slavery?"
"Well. Technically if I tried the next higher level of government would overrule me - there's only the one level above me but there is still that - but assuming they were fine with me using my isolated island to test that out, I think the first thing I'd worry about is that a criminal who'd been sold for having committed three murders would commit a fourth, but I'd also expect a handful of people to get revenge, which might also be murder in some cases. Some people wouldn't have good impulse control, and they'd probably do things like heckle passersby or take things that don't belong to them, and I guess also no one would have any incentive to keep them alive - not sure it makes them better off if anyone does, but no one would, and the... club my immigrants have that gives things to poor people would probably try to help but it's pretty small and it'd get too overwhelmed to keep doing the thing it's currently doing, where it helps, say, people who are temporarily sick and will be fine if someone helps them afford treatment and make rent for the month. Then I think some of them wouldn't be able to earn money, or - I don't know if there are any currently living experiments in raising people without language, there might not be, but there are people too stupid to learn. And then there'd just be - a bunch of kids doing things they'd regret in a couple years, like, someone with magic for making people stop doing things gets annoyed at the sound of someone else's breathing, or else things they wouldn't regret because they'd die. And the government would lose the funding it currently gets from selling slaves, which would mean cutting back on public works, and anything currently being done with slave labor might have to stop."
"...does having somebody as a slave actually stop them from doing things like murder or dangerous magic, or does it just make someone else responsible for stopping them?"
"We have magic for making people stop doing things, it's just, uh, I don't think anyone would think it was better if you were allowed to use it on random people who weren't slaves."