May 21, 2022 3:43 PM
vanda nosseo in velgarth shortly after the Cataclysm
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"Might be they were hard to find?" says Zanro.

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"I guess maybe you could help find them, now you're here."

She picks at her nail again. "I don't want him to leave, but I think I don't want him to stay either if he's just going to be this sad. I didn't understand before why it seemed like he was more sad once you got here, but - he'd have wanted you to stop the war. If you'd gotten here in time. And then none of this..." Vague gesture around her. She doesn't feel like that sentence needs finishing. "I want to - help - but I guess maybe even Vanda Nossëo can't fix that." 

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"This isn't one of the universes time travel works in and even if it were thirty years would be a bit much," sighs Zanro.

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"There are universes where time travel works????" Tsashi interjects, suddenly completely distracted. "Whoa! How?" 

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"Some things only work in a certain universe, or in universes adjacent to a certain universe," says Zanro. "Where I live when I'm at home, the Empress of Mîr can go back in time, but she doesn't do it unless she's really got to, like the time a monster was planning to eat her entire home planet and she had to re-live the same month dozens of times. Turns out time travel is ethically complicated."

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"There was a monster that could eat planets?" Tsashi's eyes are practically bugging out of her head now. "I guess that'd be even worse than the Cataclysm!" 

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"It's bigger. But dead is dead, however much company you have."

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...Nod. It's oddly...not reassuring or comforting, exactly, but calming in some way, to hear about awful things happening elsewhere in a very big multiverse. Because their world isn't uniquely a disaster, maybe? She wonders if Lionstar would feel the same way about it. 

"Are there...other things that've happened on other planets that - couldn't be fixed, even once you got there?" 

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"Even if we can kinda fix something - roll it all back so it looks like nothing ever happened - people remember."

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Tsashi ducks her head. 

"....I guess? But - I bet a lot of why remembering hurts is because the people who died are still dead and the countries that got destroyed are still gone. Most of the grownups who survived the Mage Wars don't like remembering it, and - I guess Lionstar probably doesn't like remembering when he was Ma'ar. But if all the bad things that happened were fixed then - I think probably the remembering part wouldn't be so bad?"

She clears her throat. "....I might be wrong about that. Lionstar says I should expect to be wrong about a lot of things even when I'm being logical, because I'm twelve and so there's a lot of information about the world and about people that I haven't learned yet." 

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"Yeah. I think you might be wrong about that. It'd help, for sure, but I think it'd still bother people, thinking about it."

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"Lionstar gave me advice about - if you did something that felt bad, but you thought through everything first and did the math and you still think you got the math right, you can sort of decide to stop feeling bad because the feeling-bad isn't doing anything, isn't changing what you'll decide...?"

Her small hands twist together.

"I - helped do the math. About whether or not it was worth it to kill someone who'd done bad things to a lot of people, instead of just exiling them, which only works some of the time anyway because sometimes they come back and hurt more people and so it's even worse - but the other option was executing them for blood-power and we had all these tables of figuring about how much of a difference it'd make for the rain and the crops and Lionstar taught me how to do, he called it 'uncertainty estimates', because weather-magic works again now but it's still not reliable so we don't know how well it'll work..." 

She's definitely rambling now. "- Anyway. I don't feel bad about it, because we couldn't've known you'd come and so there's no way we could've put that in the math - it's sad but it doesn't mean we made a mistake?"

Shrug. ".....But I guess Lionstar isn't doing that. For some reason. He's just being really sad. I want to help but I think I don't really understand why he isn't doing the thing that he taught me to do." 

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"...I don't think most people can control whether they feel bad about stuff like that. Maybe he can't do it every time."

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Tsashi is giving him such a dubious look. "I think he would've died if he couldn't do it every time? I think he even said that to me once."

She picks at her thumbnail again. "....I asked him really late at night after he'd been fighting off bandits all day. 'Cause sometimes he doesn't want to tell me true things until I'm older. But I might not've gotten to be older if I didn't know. I...guess that's one of the things that's maybe going to be different now that you're here? But...a lot of kids don't make it, here. Or didn't, before." 

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Zanro nods solemnly.

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He's very nice. It's still kind of confusing, but - maybe it shouldn't be. It's not like it's costing him anything, to nod and look sympathetic instead of telling her that she's being stupid. And maybe it's nicer for him too, for her to think that he's nice, even though he doesn't owe her anything. 

 

"...I feel like maybe I'm not going to be - very good at understanding why Lionstar's sad and listening to him, because I don't really understand? But I still want to at least try to help. Do you have advice?" 

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"Hmm. Do you need to be in such a hurry about it? Maybe he just needs to sleep and have a bit to process things."

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Tsashi stares at him for a moment. 

"...I dunno? He - did sort of ask me to be in charge of getting the city to vote on whether to join Vanda Nossëo, and people are already having a lot of questions and I feel like I don't know what to tell them until I've talked to him properly. But I think maybe we can't do a proper vote until we've had time to tell all the farmers and have them send their votes in, so I guess that's not a rush either?" 

It feels VERY URGENT that Lionstar is sad but....he's sad about things that have been true for years and years, he just - somehow wasn't showing it before. Tsashi is still confused about that but probably figuring out her confusion isn't actually urgent. 

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"What questions? I might be able to answer some of them unless they're all about Lionstar."

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"I don't think they're about Lionstar! Nobody else even knows to ask questions about Lionstar, they just– they're gonna expect him to be there and telling us what questions are important and whether the answers you're giving us are good enough. He said I should do that and I - probably can? I know I'm only twelve but I think it's mostly not very complicated. But I'm not going to do all that as well as he would, and - I don't know what to tell people if they ask me why he's not there." 

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"Well, I suppose you could say that. 'I don't know what to tell you'."

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"...I guess? I'm worried that'll just make people not trust me, if I don't sound like I know what I'm doing, and then they'll be scared and - think the thing they're scared of is Vanda Nossëo." 

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"Well, hopefully we'll be able to reassure them on any points that spook them. I don't have a magic answer for this one, kiddo, some of the higher-ups are very aggressive about enforcing a no mind control policy."

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Tsashi makes a face. "I don't want you to mind control anyone? Lionstar said - well, he said it doesn't matter anyway right now because compulsions are finicky magic and they're probably not gonna work reliably for another century - he taught our mages anyway but he said that it's counterproductive to try to put compulsions on your allies. Because if you want to be allies with someone then you shouldn't make them stupider." 

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"You and him have had some remarkably interesting conversations."

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