Sida is walking along a mountain road in the dark. Which, sure, maybe isn't the safest thing, but walking in the dark is fun and she doesn't want to stop for the night just yet.
"Of course. I should not take long or do damage, it is just a simple assessment."
"Oh, I've heard of that. Although at home we call it 'neuromuscular habit' and I don't think there's any metaphysiology involved."
Several days before their departure, Sida makes one last trip to the Order of Edification's library—her beloved library, how she'll miss it—to make a few final additions to her notebooks and to look for Sendra.
The Order of Edification is as it has been since she first arrived here, in all it's glory. Sendra is hard at work, deep in a pile of books on white magic in a nook in the library.
"Psst. Sendra. Do you have a moment?" she whispers.
"I do. What's the matter?" Sendra replies.
"I, am leaving town soon. So I would like to say goodbye and give you the notes I've been writing for the order. I don't think they'll be very useful, but they're worth something."
"Ah." Sendra looks worried. "I'd ask you to stay safe, but you wouldn't listen. Good luck. Thank you for the notes. I hope you don't have to bury too many friends."
"I've lost a lot of people already. I'm... not unaccustomed to it."
"Anyways, executive summary. I've outlined the tech tree and what physical-scientific knowledge I can remember, which is not as much as I'd like. Also, the natural laws are a lot more different here than I first thought, so probably a lot of this won't transfer over. And I have even less of an idea of what things make most sense, economically. But hopefully I should at least be able to give you an idea of the rough sequence of steps, and where you can end up if you follow them."
"I have also outlined what I remember of the Canon, although I've only ever read about half of it. This might end up being useful, if someone founds a priestly order and then gives it a few hundred years. But I've realized that I don't know enough about my civilization’s social technology to adapt it to the different conditions here, and it will take a while to develop something new. I think the lichocracy might be a decent starting point, though."
"... the lichocracy? The state whose system of government is a blatant formalisation of the idea that the most powerful should rule, plus some systems to make up for the fact that the sort of powerful person they attract isn't interested in governance at all? I'd be interested to see your reasoning there."
"Well, in order to be a lich, you have to be pretty smart, right? And since they're immortal, they have much more reason than most people to play the long game. So with the combination of power, intelligence, and long time-horizons, they should be in a pretty good position to make a long-term investment into a polity, to keep it stable and prosperous. I'm not entirely sure what they value individually, but I would be surprised if it didn't involve wealth and/or magical knowledge. And the strategy you'd pursue to maximize a polity's tax output and growth—economically, technologically, etcetera—would be pretty good for the citizens, or at least better than seems to be the case in many other parts of this world. The part where they're not interested in governance could be an obstacle, depending on what form it takes, I'd have to know more about the place."
"Hmm. I think there are several bad assumptions there - the first is - not every lich is from a magical tradition that depends on intelligence, many are from traditions where stubbornness or pain tolerance or ability to sweet-talk are more useful traits. I don't have a demographic survey on hand of what's most common. Secondly, ability to play the long game is not the same as inclination to play the long game - many liches take their newfound unkillable nature as an excuse to stop planning for their own survival, let alone sensible economic development. Thirdly, raw intelligence doesn't equate to skill at governance, it's an old trope, of the wizard taking power and assuming that skill at figuring out the mysteries of the universe will translate to running a slice of it and then failing totally. Immortality doesn't help much, because there are only so many skills a person can keep sharp no matter how long they live and being an undead is actively detrimental to mental flexibility and stability. Finally, viewing your subjects as a resource extraction project to be maximised doesn't actually result in good things happening to those people as actually implemented by people motivated by personal gain as a governance culture, no matter how enlightened the person who proposed the policies implemented likes to think they are. The incentives you have described are there, and they have some effect, but what good the lichocracy does for it's citizens is well outweighed by the evil it spews into every neighbouring nation."
"Oh, I was under the impression that becoming a lich was a difficult, magically complex undertaking. If you can do it without being clever, the situation is different. Probably it wouldn't work then, unless you had the right person."
"It is the case that people have often achieved magically complex effects through sheer weight and stubbornness. Intelligence helps, but it's not required. Also just in general experience can substitute for talent in any domain, if you have enough of it."
"I should have expected that. Anyways, do you have any questions?"
"Unfortunately, I think all my questions will arise when I have read your manuscript, and that will most likely not be until you have left."
"Well, that sounds like it will be annoying. Anyways, it's been nice knowing you, I hope we meet again."
At last, after entirely too much time spent training, Sida is ready to leave the city. Joined by Tarka, Dyva, Ossa, and Dyva's wagon, she exits the city, heading north.
"Goodbye, Fallen Tower. Goodbye, City by the Fallen Tower. I shall return!"