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May 21, 2022 2:30 PM
Griffie in the Hari Empire
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"Your world's plants are magical constructs?"

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“I’m a more complicated version of the same kind of stuff? My body was assembled from plants and I have a complicated system that I use for being a person, while regular plants have a much simpler version that they use for being alive. Like how you have a brain and insects have tiny amounts of the kind of stuff your brain is made of.”

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"...Then... what are the other people?"

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“They have the kind of stuff the part of me that makes me a person is made of, and then they also have quintessence, which is … how do I explain. In my world there is a such thing as an idea, like ‘cooperation’, being a material. And bits of it group up and get bits of the material my mind is made of and then form a person and that person is very interested in cooperation. For one example.”

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"Cool!"

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“Well, sometimes they form from hatred or wanting to hurt people or such and that’s less cool.”

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"That's abstractly cool but seems like the kind of thing that would, uh. Cause one of them to be really interested in death and start a war."

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“There’s also a really powerful one that's into technically keeping to the word of his agreements but also into tricking people into making really unfavorable to them agreements so that he owns them and can be really cruel to them or other things like that! I am somewhat worried that your government will not understand how important it is to avoid him and his slaves.”

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"Well, how important is it and how important do you think we'll think it is?"

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“I think it’s very important to avoid him. I think your government might think ‘he is agreement-keeping and stronger than Axis and not telling us to stop having slavery like Heaven’ and not think avoiding him is important.”

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"And it's important because he engages in predatory business practices and is very smart?"

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“Basically? Even if he lets you write a contract yourself it will still be a trap, he’s very smart. Also his goal is to conquer the world and then torture everyone who didn’t immediately surrender to him a lot. …he does also torture the people who do immediately surrender to him, just, less. He likes incentives.”

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"Everyone? Why everyone?"

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"…I guess he might have some favorites who don't get hurt? I'm not sure. The ideas he's made of include things like 'power comes from people being afraid of you and thinking that cooperation is their only choice' and things like that?"

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"...The imperial government comes from that idea and doesn't torture anyone unless they commit a lot of crimes."

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"I think the thing the imperial government wants is for people to not break some laws which it isn't that hard to not break, not for everyone to orient their entire lives around maximally satisfying local government officials? And people all have input into what the empire does and they seem to like the system of 'there's an empire that enforces some laws and does things like give people tablets about what the laws are and isn't in charge of everything'. Whereas this person … I'll just say Asmodeus, that's his name, not mentioning his name has been silly… whereas Asmodeus wants layers of slaves owning slaves owning slaves with him the only genuinely free person. And if you want people to think cooperation is their only choice for that, I think that just takes more torture than people thinking cooperation is their only choice with, uh, not assaulting people or stealing things or breaking contracts. Honestly I'm not sure the latter actually requires any torture, I'm pretty sure it doesn't, but I don't, uh, have access to the library I'd be referencing on that. Heaven probably has information on how to make people follow those laws without torture though."

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"It'd be nice if it turned out torture was completely useless for us. I don't think I'd cooperate with Asmodeus even if he did torture me but I haven't met him so maybe I'm wrong, but - it's better for me that the empire is how it is - I think you're right, it sounds like Asmodeus is doing a completely different thing."

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"Yeah, I can't really picture people who have an honest understanding of what Asmodeus offers preferring him to the Hari Empire… I mean, he might have his slaves try bribing individual officials but that still wouldn't actually be a good deal for them in the end. And I'm sure he wouldn't like the structure where people get to choose who the government is."

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"Well... if the Hari Empire handled him the way it handled the place I'm from - and I'm not saying this is going to happen, just, if it did - he could pay us taxes and be acknowledged as the governor of his own state and keep the people who are already his slaves, and get to vote on who's in charge of the empire and not let his slaves vote on it."

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"Axis periodically offers Asmodeus and Heaven proposals which are sort of like that, except less 'one free person one vote' and more 'one amount of fighting strength, one amount of influence' which counts Asmodeus's slave fighters the same way it counts Heaven's free fighters. And then Asmodeus says 'no' because he can't tolerate the idea of forever accepting that there are some people who will be outside of his control."

"Also, I want to be clear here, just because I would lose in a fight to the Imperial police much less all their professional fighters, it is not clear to me that Asmodeus would lose. He is very powerful."

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"That sounds like something you should explain in detail to the imperial government."

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"That is already my plan. And why I think the empire should be allies with Heaven and Axis."

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"Sounds good. I probably shouldn't keep you, they're probably waiting to ambush you - uh, nonviolently ambush you, with a job offer - as soon as you step out in public. But come back when you've got money and you're ready to talk about defense magic some more."

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"Oh! I didn't realize they would be that fast. Uh, if they offer me a job far away from here I might hire a local defense mage for convenience, but if you're working on immortality research I should probably be in touch with you again anyway, and there are some defense mage services I feel less urgent about than making my particles be stable without me doing magic twice a day forever. Anyway, it was not only informative but also pleasant to swap information with you and I hope to see you again later."

Griffie heads out.

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And another belul is waiting for them outside, to inform them of how much they'll make if they go talk with the imperial government and that a flight has been booked for them to the capital tomorrow.

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