May 21, 2022 2:53 PM
Vanda Nosseo lands on a world that fights a lot of wars.
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"The Geronti and the Zulmij aren't really people," says a sober-looking old man, and other people nod. "They're descended from demons." Nods, nods, nods. "They're worse than wolves." More nods. "As I wrote in my book, The Plague That Never Died, all of history's greatest traitors are Geronti, and no Geronic doctor, scientist or poet has ever contributed anything to the human condition other than tools for violence, warfare and terror!"

"They killed my mother!"

- "Father!"

"- Grandfather!"

(The cries of KILL THEM ALL really do not seem inclined to go away!)

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They'll just kind of stand here and wait for the King and/or Commodore, periodically reiterating that Vanda Nossëo is peaceful and will not kill aaaaaaanyone.

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Well that will make them much less popular!

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"Aliens."

The Prince of Scars reacts to this in a patient and dignified manner, instead of saying "have you lost your mind."

"One of them has SCALES."

"... On my way."

He touches down in the square less than a minute later. His uniform is sober, deep blue, except for the fancy collar, fur cape (it's like the entire hide of some horrible monster!), and turquoise stripes on the collars, cuffs, and shoulders. The right sleeve ends early; on his right forearm is a bracer of some shifting, gleaming golden metal, with a slight depression at one end.

(Also, he can fly, surrounded by a golden glow, and was.)

"Welcome to Ljudizem," he says, as around him people drop to their knees and/or fire off salutes.

("Rise," and they do.)

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"Good day!" says Zatuobin. "We are envoys from your peaceful distant neighbors, Vanda Nossëo."

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"Welcome," he says. "I am Field-Marshal Josef Dinot Zapojvedi, King-Elect of Ljudizem." And he also sent a general alert to all the walls and called his bodyguards over.

(His eyes flicker over them, paying careful attention to anything that looks like magic and/or high technology. Distant stars, hmm? There's something obvious he can think of that matches to this, and is kind of what he signed up to campaign against...)

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Zatuobin has his computer in a case patterned like the night sky attached to his belt, and a few technological-looking buttons attached to his watch; Da'ell's is wrist-mounted; the other three people's computers are in chiplock style and not projecting right now. Rainë has some plausibly magical jewelry; Zatuobin is wearing a brooch shaped like a flame that might be magic; Quicksilver's got a few rings and a necklace; Da'ell's wearing glasses. If they've got anything else it must be hidden away in pockets or invisible or something.

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... On the one hand, they don't look like very impressive travelers-from-other-stars. (Or demons.) On the other hand, scales.

Still, his cynical guess, based on base rates, is makeup.

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"It's lovely to meet you! I'm Zatuobin be-Azor de-Saulon, originally from a country called Voa, and these are my colleagues - Rainë Ninquë of the Noldor, Quicksilver and her sleeping headmate Nectarine who you'll be able to meet later, Da'ell of Skrullos, and Valerius of Rome by way of Limbo."

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"Fascinating," says Dinot. "And where, pray tell, are those?"

Con meeeeeeeeen he does not have time for this nonsense -

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"Rainë, would you -" says Zatuobin.

Rainë produces a large colorful illusion of the map-of-worlds. "Worlds - which differ from stars," she says, "can be next to each other, or not; the means of travel we have will only go from one world to those next to it. Your world is here," she lights one up, "and Vanda Nossëo is based here, just next to you," Edda lights up, "and that's where Da'ell is from; I'm from here," Space Arda lights up, "and Quicksilver and Nectarine are from here," Dreamward lights up, "and Valerius was born here," Revelation, "but his world has an afterlife and he's been in it for some time, over here." Limbo lights up. "And Zatuobin's from here -" Warp lights up - "but currently lives over here -" Revelation lights up again.

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OKAY MAGIC

(People oooh!)

"May I test if you are hostile?" he says, raising his right arm and the shiny thing on it.

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"Go right ahead," says Zatuobin, "how does it work?"

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And they are washed in golden light. It feels like very faint pressure, sort of like the sun on a hot day. (It feels rather more hostile to those of them who aren't humans, but not burning-hostile, just uncomfortable.)

"The light of a Hero Crest," he says, "burns inhuman evil." That's one thing the Three Books are VERY CLEAR on: Anything that basically just likes eating people, physically, mentally or spiritually, melts when you hit it with divine light. Which is not actually RELEVANT for anything other than hunting wolves, but the Admiral would justly have reprimanded him if he hadn't even tested it.

All right, time to switch to Diplomacy Mode, he's not going to pass them to his Foreign Minister, not when there's a complete new side to the war.

"... Would you care to meet me in Testeroj Castle shortly?" he says. (That being a place where he can talk to them and not easily be overheard. It also has a very nice tower that overlooks the city that he can use to punctuate important evidence in presenting his case, like the fact that they're setting the entire country on fire.)

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"Sure!" says Zatuobin. "Can you direct us?"

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It's that big old-fashioned castle right there in the middle of the city.

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Minions show up! Minions want to escort them to their immediate appointment! Dinot takes off to his immediate appointment!

(Minions do not clarify that they want the immediate appointment so the Prince of Scars can splash some cold water on his face. Minions are being polite.)

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They'll take the escort.

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Then the Prince of Scars will meet them at a tower room, having very quickly drunk a cup of tea and splashed cold water on his face. The room is filled with windows, possesses a balcony large enough for someone flying to land on, and overlooks the entire city and the countryside beyond. There's some dusty astronomy equipment in the corners of the room, of which the most relevant and least dusty is a really gigantic telescope. There are also - couches, chairs, tables; it's somewhere you can have a salon, if a salon interested in astronomy. (There's rather less of it and it goes together worse than you'd expect.)

(The castle, speaking of which, seems rather deficient of furniture, art, jewels, and other valuable things you might expect to find in a castle. Can't imagine why, of course.)

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The envoys do not comment on the decor (though Rainë starts softly singing again).

"Thank you very much for your hospitality!" says Zatuobin.

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"You're quite welcome," he says. "Someone will be along with drinks shortly." That is to say, as soon as they can climb the tallest tower in Testeroj Castle while not flying.

"Can you tell me about your home and your mission?"

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"Of course! We're an envoy team from a federation called Vanda Nossëo, made up of many states in many worlds. Vanda Nossëo is peaceful and seeks to improve the standard of living for everyone through the sharing of magic and technology and the free movement of its people for comfort and opportunity. Standard procedure on planets like yours is to set up little shops and hand out in-demand goods that are cheap for us - basically any purely material object and a few magic ones that are subsidized for various reasons - in exchange for cultural exposure, things like personal anecdotes and local folktales and renditions of songs, so we can get to know your people better and alleviate acute material needs. We can also set up places anyone can go to be transported to Vanda Nossëo, to visit - or to move, if they like, immigrants are welcome! If you need something that those protocols don't cover at all we can talk about it, though as we were telling the folks outside, Vanda Nossëo is peaceful and will not be killing anyone's enemies, for reasons including but not limited to some of our co-workers having landed on every identifiable polity on this entire planet."

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Hmm. On the one hand, they might trying to conquer the planet. On the other hand, everything else.

"Our most acute material need is to not be invaded," he says, quite calmly, "and if you do not intend to preserve our nation we will need to continue doing it ourselves. In that case we will need gunpowder, cavalry horses, grain, muskets, bayonets, military uniforms, swords and helmets for the horsemen, and artillery in field, siege and horse varieties, and we are prepared to tell you as many folk tales as you need. If you would like evidence that we are being invaded -" he gestures at the telescope. "You can see the smoke of burning buildings from here."

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"By and large, we don't stock weapons," says Zatuobin apologetically. "We have no good way to determine who, if anyone, is right in a war that we come across from another universe, even if it looks very plain that one side is the aggressor and the other's done nothing to provoke them. We do sell food and fabric, in spite of being aware that they have military purposes, but guns and horses aren't going to happen. However, Vanda Nossëo defends its own borders; if you can manage to hold a vote while these conditions prevail - that we'll help with - you can join up as a member state, and then whatever borders you join with, we'll hold."

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Well, then, that's a much better option for saving his nation than anything he had before.

What's the catch?

"I see. What are Vanda Nosseo's terms of membership?"

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