Jun 28, 2022 5:54 PM
vanda nosseo in velgarth shortly after the Cataclysm
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This is the point at which Tsashi finds Lionstar and jogs up to him and - she's expecting to have to argue this very hard in order to get him to listen at all, he's very paranoid and she can't fault him for that when he was right so many other times, but she's pretty sure this time is actually different - 

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Lionstar, who has stopped pacing and sat down on a rock, stands up. "Are you coming to tell me about the conditions required for an alliance with the alien visitors?" 

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How does he always know things like that??? (It's not because he can read their minds, he doesn't have that Gift, Corben does which is why in an emergency she's supposed to think-scream very very loudly at Corben and not Lionstar even though he's obviously the one who could help.) 

 

 

 

"I think we should do an alliance with them. It doesn't seem like they want very much? ...I know you're going to say you don't trust them yet and we should wait and see. I guess you should probably have Corben read their minds too just to check. But - I'm pretty sure? I dunno if someone could look me in the eye and lie about wanting the things they said they want?"

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"I do not expect they are lying." He's not going to say out loud that he already asked Corben to read their minds, because if they can take pictures with their machines then maybe their machines can listen as well. "I do think people can be sincere about what they think they believe, and - be wrong." 

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"...I know." She's not stupid. (And Lionstar knows that, so what is he playing at?) "I - they're so rich! It's, it's cheap for them, to send people to our village. If it were hard they'd've only sent people to the Haighlei Empire and the other continent, where there's still big cities." 

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He's listening. "And your point is?" 

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She clasps her hands behind her back. Takes a deep breath. 

"My point is that - it's not expensive for them to come here? They're saying it's not - and I guess maybe they'd have reasons to say that anyway - but they're acting like it's not as well. And so I don't think we should be that suspicious, if the terms of alliance they're offering seem too easy." 

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This is a child he's helped raise from the cradle, and it's bizarre to hear her talking this way - parroting back his own words, except it's not 'parroting', it's earnest and real - 

 

"What are the terms they offered you?" 

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"Well, the one called Natsuko said that -" and Tsashi closes her eyes and concentrates, because Lionstar is going to want this verbatim, or as close to it as she can manage, he's always said that little things matter -

 

"She said that a group, which could be just be this village under the circumstances, all has to vote. If enough of the people want to be part of Vanda Nossëo, then they are. They have to agree that they're going to enforce rules against murder and rape and and torture. And that they'll let anyone who wants to leave do that. Then she said that everything else can vary depending on what a place needs."

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Nod. 

"And you think those are reasonable terms?" 

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"I think they're incredibly good terms! If they're true. Maybe they're not. But - they can make food out of stones. They could show us pictures of everywhere on the continent! And pictures of other worlds! They know the tiny blobs that people and animals and plants are made of, and the books - not books - the thing that tells them how to grow. ...If they wanted to conquer us they just would. So - I mean, maybe they do want to conquer us later, but they made us food first, so I think they want us to like them? So - in the world where they're bad, I dunno what we could even do. In the world where they're going to conquer us, that - still seems better than what we had before? And if they're telling the truth it's incredible." 

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How did she end up like this. 

(Lionstar knows exactly how she ended up like this.) 

"That is a compelling argument. Why have you not already begun gathering everyone for a vote?" 

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Tsashi stares down at her feet. "S'not my choice. You - they have a law–" 

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And Lionstar is (as far as he knows, at least) the only murderer in this tiny city. If he was going to make that trade, use someone's life-energies to bring rain, then he would bloody do it himself. 

 

 

 

"You already made the choice," he says, softly, gently. "It is more yours to make than mine." 

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"But I–" 

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"....Go to the others in the city. Tell them about the terms. You can choose a date to vote on it, if you want."

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"But -"

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"I need to go speak to the visitors myself, but - not on behalf of the city." 

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He looks so sad. And tired, and scared. She's seen all of that before, of course, but not like this. 

 

 

Tsashi nods, and runs off, planning the fastest route around the city that will cover everyone, accounting for the fact that probably a lot of them are lurking in the houses of whichever neighbors are closest to the visitors' new magical house. 

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Wow, are they calling for a vote already? Nelen can go get some ballots if they want?

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Lionstar deliberately picked a spot to sit down that was as far as possible from the magically-created house.

He starts walking. 

(His mind keeps wanting to plan an - apology? a defense? maybe just a clear and coherent explanation of why? But he can't even offer them that, not for the parts that matter most - he doesn't remember what he was thinking, in the days and weeks leading up the the near-destruction of their world -)

 

 

The first person he killed for blood-power in this city - well before it was a city at all, years before Tsashi was even conceived - was a volunteer. (He wasn't the first person whose life-energies Lionstar had used while in this body, this unearned second life, but the others were people he killed in self-defense, during the blur of exhausted nightmarish travel that he barely remembers.) 

His name was Fatir. He had children, and grandchildren. His eldest granddaughter was eight months pregnant. The rains had come too early that year and too hard, pointlessly washing fertile soil down into the river, and then after that they hadn't come at all. Using weather-magic at all back then was a wild gamble, but - Lionstar thought he could do it, probably, if he had the power. Which he didn't. And he could only give them seven in ten odds that it would even help. 

Fatir had survived the Cataclysm. He was still hale. Not fit enough to work the fields anymore, maybe, but he could have lived another decade. Certainly he had better chances of surviving the winter than his granddaughter's unborn child. 

....It was probably easier, after that, to get the village - that grew into a town and then an attempt at a city - to vote in favor of murdering bandits for the power bound to their life. 

 

 

This is an incredibly pointless topic to be thinking about. Lionstar reaches the new house, and looks around for whichever of the alien visitors seems least busy. 

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That would be Zanro, who is setting up the shop displays of goodies that Nelen fetched down (along with ballots). "Hullo there," he says to Lionstar.

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"Can we speak? In private?" If magic worked reliably he could put up a privacy-barrier, and even though at his skill level he could probably do that anyway, Lionstar is not really inclined to risk it. 

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"Tarwë can hear us, Elves've got very good ears..." Zanro looks thoughtfully at the contents of the shop, and then unpacks a box of its several sub-boxes, and puts the large box on his head, and gestures Lionstar over with the hand that isn't steadying the box.

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He...can step over so his head is also inside the large box? If that's the thing being requested here? 

"For what it is worth I am not specifically worried about Tarwë overhearing us, since I am sure you will tell him later anyway. I suppose it might be distracting for him." 

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