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May 21, 2022 4:01 PM
Vanda Nosseo deals with Sesat
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...Okay, don't tell the nice diplomats they're appalling.

"So you figure - some slave I heard about had kept a victim alive for almost a month, you figure that's - not a real personality trait because no real person could do that, it's, what, missing a personality like some people are missing fingers?"

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"- no, I - I'm not sure what I said sounded like that. Sometimes our translation magic has small problems, can you tell me what it sounded like I said in case it was one of those?"

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"You said 'disabilities that look like personality traits.'"

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"So, we were talking about why people might be poor. Some people are poor because they don't have a job, at least where I'm from, and sometimes it looks like someone is choosing not to get a job because they're lazy, but sometimes it turns out they have a disability that looks like being lazy, instead. That's the kind of thing I was thinking of."

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"Oh! I'm sorry, that makes much more sense - you mean like how some people are sickly and can't work very hard or very long hours?"

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"Right. To be clear, Vanda Nossëo is also rich enough to provide for people who are actually lazy. That just wasn't what I was thinking of at the time."

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"Oh, that'd be good. But - the reason I jumped to the conclusion I did was that you'd been telling me you object to torture and murder and rape but you don't want people who do them punished as harshly as we do...?"

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"Right. Uh, to be clear most places will not let murderers or torturers or rapists immigrate to them by default. The version of free migration we have for criminals is that they can move between prisons. But a Vanda Nossëo prison is going to be much preferable to enslavement for, I think most people."

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"...Why is it a good thing that it's preferable?"

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"Vanda Nossëo doesn't - on an institutional level, individual opinions vary - believe in punishment for punishment's sake. The prisons are secure, the people in them can't hurt anybody - beyond that it's considered a good thing, not a bad one, if they have access to the sorts of things that make one situation preferable to another."

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"Does Vanda Nossëo not believe in it being better for better people to have better things or does it just have so much wealth that after making rapists comfortable it's trivial to make everyone else many times more comfortable than that?"

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"The second thing. The rapists aren't uncomfortable, but they're not free - can't go most places, can't live at home with their loved ones, can't learn any sensitive kind of magic that might help them reoffend. It's better to be a Vanda Nossëo prisoner than a slave, but it's much better to be a free citizen."

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He nods. "You should lead with that, when you're trying to pitch our Star-of-Stars on it. That you want everything to be so good for everyone that the lowest of the low who are despised and outcast live comfortably. Otherwise - well, you scared me, for a moment I was wondering if you were aiming to steal most of my family's wealth."

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"One of the things states with slavery often negotiate for is having their slaves purchased rather than just taken! It's not something we can offer to non-members - it makes it more attractive to enslave extra people to sell them - but as a one-time thing we can do it."

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"We wouldn't do that! There's no way you're going to affect how many people - or do you also care about the ones born into it, it's possible we'd have more of those, I guess."

The person who went to pass the information on to the Star-of-Stars comes and lurks near the park gate, not interrupting in case this ought to be allowed to finish.

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"Yes, abolishing slavery includes all the slaves, not just the ones who are enslaved as a punishment for a crime," says Nelen.

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"Makes sense, I guess. Are there - " He glances at the gate. " - other common sticking points you'd rather air first with someone other than the Star-of-Stars?"

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"If there are categories of people who are likely to want to leave en masse given the chance to do so those might also be a sticking point. I'm from a group like that myself," says Nelen. "Sometimes people have religious issues with Vanda Nossëo, but I don't know you to be likely to."

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He makes a face. It is the face of a man deciding very quickly that his top priority is making this conversation someone else's problem.

"Right, well, if you pay everyone twenty times their current wealth I'm sure you'll be able to smooth it over somehow. That person will be taking you to the palace and can brief you on our etiquette on the way."

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"Great, thank you." Nelen and his teammates all nod to him and go meet the etiquette-and-escort person.

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Etiquette-and-escort person introduces herself as Elu and inquires after the visitors' names and titles.

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Tarwë blinks a touch at "Elu" but doesn't comment.

"My name is Nelen Utopia," says Nelen. "In formal work related contexts it'd be Ambassador Utopia."

"Cassiel Jones," says Cassiel, "or Envoy Jones if you prefer."

"Tanaka Natsuko," says Natsuko, "Tanaka-san."

"Zanro," says the orc, "Agent Zanro."

"Envoy Tarwë," says Tarwë.

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She repeats them perfectly.

"In general in Sesat the titles to know are 'sir' and 'ma'am' for, how do I put this, men and women who are worthy of someone's deference but not yours necessarily, 'my lord' you won't have much call to use if I've understood you correctly but people will use it for you, and the king's time is in great demand so it's expected to address our Star-of-Stars by a different title every time, unless His Excellency tells you not to, which he probably will. The idea is that if you're running out of ideas, you should speak more concisely or excuse yourself - this obviously doesn't apply if you're invited in for the sort of meeting that takes all afternoon, then repetition is fine. You - seem like you 'sir' and 'ma'am' people normally but they do that in Azan too and you otherwise sound a bit Azani so I thought it might be better to go over the rest just in case something was unfamiliar - all that make sense?"

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They look at each other a bit. "We're using translation magic," says Nelen after a short silence. "We can adjust it, if it's systematically doing something wrong - normally it adjusts to the hearer's strongest language, so it's actually very weird that we would sound Azani. That being understood we can remember to say 'sir' and 'ma'am' and to cycle through titles till told otherwise if we know what they are."

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"Oh, just normal titles like Your Majesty or Your Grace or Your Wisdom or make something up along the same lines - not 'my lord', that'd be an insult if you said it to the Star-of-Stars - I think letting everyone know you're using magical translation will do a lot in itself to smooth over any mistakes. Are there things you expect - please don't hesitate to say obvious things as if I'm very stupid - things you expect from anyone treating you with courtesy and respect?"

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