Jun 28, 2022 5:58 PM
Vanda Nossëo visits a planet with dragons
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What are they hoping for for a scholar in this capacity?

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One who will be able to discuss in detail the acceptable shapes-and-kinds of laws/states that would be likely-acceptable by Vanda Nossëo as a member, or perhaps in some sort of nonmember association/relationship.

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I'll have them send someone. Where is the meeting?

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Where Allmother's territory meets the ocean. In one to several days.

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So when the meeting starts there is an Elf waiting there.

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With Allmother there to provide context, Darktooth sort of has an aura of power as well. Much less palpable, very subtle, very restrained and orderly, but it is sharply delineating the difference between Allmother-space and Darktooth-space, radiating outward from him like stained glass. They're a couple hundred feet apart, Allmother lounging on a beach and Darktooth resting mostly-submerged on the sand a ways out.

Greetings to you, learned one who has responded to our call. It is my sincere hope that today, with the meeting of two Elders, we can develop a strategy to bring the benefits of Vanda Nossëo to the whole of the land, dragons, beasts, and spirits alike. There is no clear path forward with the unsettlement you bring to many of my kin, but one must be sought anyway. With it, I hope, a flourishing of compassion and a lessening of suffering to all can be found as well. While the dragons are the mostly-undisputed masters of the wild, we too often forget that Nature is a many-threaded tapestry of feeling and life, and that each small thread deserves comfort.

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Agreement. While I do not share Allmother's priorities, we have common ground in this matter. Given that Vanda Nossëo exists and is doing the things it is doing, the natural order of this planet will vastly change. I have an interest in maintaining key portions of the state before contact, out of the pride and self-determination of my species, out of my reputation as a wise thinker and a pillar of what it means to be a dragon, and many other dragons will feel a similar deep-seated unease. However. It seems to me that we will be left behind and eroded away if we do not form a government and join Vanda Nossëo.

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It is permissible for individuals to join, but I agree that it likely wouldn't satisfy quite as many desiderata shared in common here.

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To me the fundamental issue at stake is a feeling of self-determination and power and worthiness. While I realize that such desires make us narcissists by your framework, it is the natural state of dragons to desire that all who look upon us think us powerful, clever, beautiful, or some other combination of desirable-traits. It is the natural state of dragons to try to prove such cleverness or might or long-practiced skill when challenged. What I think would happen if no intervention is made is thus: 

The humans of this place join you. Some are willing to leave the planet for cities elsewhere, some are not. A great many things will change in mere decades- Cities and civilization growing tall and mighty.

Enough dragons will take the offer of conjured flesh for sustenance that the spirits of the animal clans will learn this lesson. Over time, more beasts learn to ask to be protected and try to make their way to you. You may or may not then decide to prosecute hunting as murder, even among those dragons who do not want anything to do with you. Such a thing demanded would be a mortal insult and a grave debasement.

Some dragons will leave for your worlds and forget the old ways, or hatch never knowing them. Over a great time, when dragons lose their territory or die, it will become unclaimed land - which may then become claimed land, by one of your member species. Some dragons may attack people, and be punished for it, and earn shame and despair and loss of territory due to imprisonment thusly. Over time, the collective domain of dragons will shrink. 

Perhaps some years down the line, your vast apparatus of political will, shifts. The previous promises no longer hold, and an agreement to not interfere is washed away by the calling of millions to do something. This is a trend I have noticed among human society, perhaps less prevalent when the rulers are immortal; Those times I managed to acquire truce always ended with some battle-lusting king promising victory and new land to his people.

Without joining Vanda Nossëo, the dragons are strange creatures whose lands will not expand, whose numbers will not grow as yours ever will, who have no possible defense or answer to your might should you change your mind which you could do at any time, whose presence will be confined to slowly shrinking portions of a single planet and who will ever resent the coming of otherworlders in the long arc of history.

This is an approximately-1-standard-deviation-pessimistic-prediction from my own perspective.

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But you know very well that the status quo cannot continue. Nature is not Earth alone, solid and unmoving. Water, Fire, and Air all hold within them the great promise of change and adaptation, of seizing the chance to create a better world, of using all your wit and power of mind in order to get what you want. Dragonkind is not dying, with the arrival of these otherworlders. It is hatching into a new phase of Life. Destruction is creation, and creation is destruction- Surely you, of all dragons, understand this, Darktooth.

I do not expect the path of conservatism and refusal to accept the future from you. This is a prelude to considering another, better way. You have seen the land go through great changes before. Is this time truly so dangerous as the Ruination? I think it is not. I feel the people of Vanda Nossëo are my kin in a way. To know that suffering exists and not feel echoed pain is a baffling thing to me.

I notice too that your arguments rest only on the preferences of dragons, and not those of the good beasts of the land. I cannot accept this. I know the pride and pain even of ants, and I know that every minute soul contains multitudes. If you consider the future as a balance of forces proposed by various actors, know well that I will not rest while I can alleviate suffering. I will inform the goodbeasts of the world that they may be protected myself, and urge them to accept the kindness that is being offered. No argument or threat can stop me from doing so. Only a trade, that allows me to help more by helping in a different manner.

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Acknowledged, agreement. You are an Elder as powerful as I, one whose voice echoes deeply in the world and one who is beloved by land and animals. The lessons of spirit and time, your plans for the future, as well as the intent and desire of the entire rest of the world, also make clinging to the past untenable. I was simply presenting a baseline path-to-be-improved-upon. Though many possible plans will be extremely difficult to evaluate. Much is in flux.

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Darktooth, your concerns are understandable. I think some of it is well-grounded and pretty hard to route around, but some of it isn't - in particular, your land isn't all that desirable to Vanda Nossëo members for any characteristic apart from its proximity to dragons and spirits and the animals thus rendered unique. Many of the humans from this planet already want to colonize others, and we may be able to increase uptake of that option if it seems like the right choice. Even if the political will of Vanda Nossëo changes drastically, the availability of demons to create new places to live is unlikely to disappear.

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That is reassuring to an extent.

Being a curiosity to be gawked at is not necessarily acceptable either, even if I instead choose to regard it as being an object of wonder.

...Though that is not the real issue. Overeager tourists can be seen off in ways and ways.

Thus why I would wish to form a state capable of representing the inhuman part of this world, deeper perhaps than you think it is, whose spirits and animals I think you do not understand. Any state to be formed must do as little as possible and/or have as much resemblance to the Tradition as possible, if it is to be accepted by dragons; A state formed by the intelligent beasts but rejected by dragons would leave a great many beings unsettled and unhappy. I think this is unlikely if the matter is handled with anything vaguely approaching care, thankfully.

There are powers in this world grander than any dragon save perhaps the Ruiner, which rarely make themselves known but are no less potent for it. Their reaction to a step too far would be punishing indeed. The interests of these must be kept in mind as well. The ones I know of are The Great Green; The Deep Blue; The Heart of Storm; The Slumbering Heat; The Moon's Child.

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Those are spirits?

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Yes. In the same way that a fly and a tiger are both animals.

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And how do they make their preferences known?

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By having slow and subtle effects on the world, by influencing dreams, and occasionally by blending their nature with a dragon with a blessing, in much the same way we Elders can do deliberately, or without necessarily setting out to do so. The great spirits are facts of nature who cannot be controlled nor truly predicted. Gestalts of thought and action with millions of years of momentum.

A new planet would have no such things. That is why the loss of this one would cut all the more deeply to those sensitive to it.

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That makes sense. It seems to me that dragons and spirits are much more firmly attached to this specific location and would find it more irreplaceable than the humans; we don't want to forcibly displace anyone but we should be able to at least sharply discourage expansion and funnel growth offplanet for them.

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If I am not mistaken, much of Darktooth's remaining uncertainty is due to the collective political-magical-visibility-bargaining power of the humans of this world in comparison to us(nonhuman-thinking-beings-on-this-planet). While he has good reasons to be wary, it is also true that logic cannot be divorced from emotion. As for the fear of betrayal, direct or implicit as political will shifts - I know it is difficult to trust, and difficult to hope. I know also that the deep magics of the world can be sacrificed to be called forth in various ways, if it is truly necessary. A final assurance, one whose mere existence may be of some comfort even if it is never used.

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Moving on. From my understanding, the minimum requirements for a member state of Vanda Nossëo is: Appropriate punishments for murder, rape, and torture. The approval of at least one-in-two of all beings capable of voting, when the call to join is sent. Permission to leave the state if desired.

I do not yet have any practical understanding of what acceptable implementations of the first and third items look like, nor how they operate. We do not have clerks and judges, nor do I think we ever will, for example.

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It's not actually necessary for a member state to administer punishments; we can do it for you if desired, we have the state capacity. Some dragons are unconjurable due to being too magic but they leave negative space in the conjuration so our forensics team won't have very special trouble. I think you already qualify as having freedom of emigration for our purposes - at least among dragons; I don't know how it would be handled if one of the animals wanted to leave and the dragon they were associated with wanted to keep them.

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I find the concept of an Enkindled being or aware beast who desire to leave being forbidden - not due to circumstance or having no better option, but by force - abhorrent, and I expect most other dragons to feel the same.

The punishments and the determination of when a crime has actually occurred is going to be a major source of tension. While we cannot form a court system easily, I also think we cannot - as it will be argued by those against - simply permit Vanda Nossëo to carry off anyone as they please when they have broken some ineffable nebulous rule. Furthermore, the outright banning of hunting as murder would be a severe blow to draconic support. As some animals are more aware than others, it is potentially fraught with uncertainty on whether a murder has occurred.

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Yes, it seems like where to draw the line between citizen and animal is going to be particularly important and difficult. It's almost certainly intractable to check them all individually and I gather it doesn't consistently break down by species.

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Some species, notably large cats and large birds, are aware more often, but no. It does not break down by species.

I think I should hear about the course of typical enforcement.

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On a typical Vanda Nossëo world, the average citizen encounters other people often enough to be reported missing within a few days of dying (or being abducted by someone who then proceeds to rape or torture them and doesn't let them go make a complaint). It's typical for forensics to investigate every case once the background death rate is low enough - this takes a while, on a newly contacted low tech world, replacing dangerous infrastructure and making healing widely accessible and getting everyone to Cube to morph younger if they're elderly and so forth, but the death rate after that is very low and forensics can handle all the deaths whether they're suspicious or not. When they can't do that, they still handle the ones that seem suspicious to local-level authorities and find out the circumstances and cause of the death. Then they apprehend the murderer, if there is one, and question them with a truth spell. If they won't say anything they'll still convict on forensic evidence, but the questioning weeds out cases like 'that was actually accidental death' or 'that was actually assisted suicide' or 'that was a very convincing LARP' or whatever. Then they're sentenced depending on what seems to have precipitated the crime - it's common for a course of some particular promising educational or therapeutic intervention to be a benchmark, especially for a first offense - and they're assigned a prison suited to their needs, though they can move to a different one if they prefer.

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