A Grapeverse alien fiction fan, after having noticed a couple of things about Carolingia's gender situation, contacts the author of one of their favourite books and convinces them to send it over.
The title is Shattering Cascade, which in the original is balanced with perfect, deliberate ambiguity between two meanings: either a cascade of shattering, like a collapsing building that keeps dragging more of itself down with the rest, or a cascade which is shattering, like a waterfall breaking apart into a million pieces.
The premise concerns a world where one hundred percent of the population has mind-control powers that take a lot of effort and attention to suppress. The effect is along the lines of hyper-charisma; if you leave it on, people you talk to will like you a lot, care about you a lot, and believe whatever you say to them. The world has therefore divided into two factions: the Beautiful, who default to leaving their powers on, train and develop them for greater effect, and wield them on purpose, sometimes to devastating effect; and the Strange, who default to suppressing their powers and take care to avoid psychologically harming each other. Beautiful society functions like well-oiled clockwork, unified, advanced, civilized, leaving a trail of broken outcasts in its wake; Strange society lurches along like a herd of cats, confused and directionless and frequently violent, poor because they're spending so much of their collective effort on just not hurting each other.
The first chapter opens with a newly hired junior Strange ambassador entering for the first time the Beautiful city where they'll soon be working. They're wearing a full-body-concealing cloak and veil, as Strangers do to help block their powers and protect them from the powers of others, but at their first sight of the sparkling-clean streets and breathtaking architecture they lift their veil for a better look. Everything is so clean and pretty, and they're simultaneously enchanted by the beauty and revolted by how smoothly unanimous and flawless it all seems to be.
On their way to the embassy, they see a person writhing in the middle of the street, bawling uncontrollably, beautiful clothes all torn and scuffed and stained, moving completely out of sync with the eerily choreographed society around them, being totally ignored by all the Beauties present. The junior ambassador is shocked; the senior ambassador pulls them aside to quietly explain that this is normal in Beautiful cities and it's rude to make a fuss, implying but not outright stating that the usual solution to cases like this is to ignore them until they die. The junior ambassador (who is lowkey Phoenix-coded, to a well-Grape-versed reader) is having none of this, and demands to rescue the person. The senior ambassador, tiredly and reluctantly, admits that it's permissible in Beautiful society to take broken people like that home and keep them as pets, but cautions that if the junior ambassador is going to do this, they really can't take on more than one, and the embassy staff really can't afford to put in much time or effort towards helping, and they really must fire the junior ambassador if they spend all their time taking care of the stray instead of doing their job.
The junior ambassador is DETERMINED. The book proceeds to describe how they just barely manage to tend to their stray in their free time while struggling to keep up with their job's demanding schedule, how they marvel at the quality of Beautiful food and clothing and architecture and interior decoration but seethe internally every time they meet another Beauty who has heard about their 'pet' and has an opinion. Seemingly every Beauty in the city has an opinion and each new variant is more infuriating than the last, from condescending smiles to veiled contempt to the person who says outright that it makes sense that one useless outcast would find kinship in another. (The Beauties do tone down their powers an amount in conversation with the Strange ambassadors, but even a toned-down Beauty feels supernaturally convincing and alluring to a Stranger who's barely met a handful of them before in their life. Trying to maintain disagreement with so many of them in a row is pretty harrowing.)
Slowly, over the course of many chapters of this, the rescued Beauty recovers and develops a (lowkey Ondine-coded) personality. As they regain awareness of their surroundings and control of their emotions, the junior ambassador tries to convince them to tone down their power, which is getting stronger the more coherent they become; but they have no idea how to do that, and also their trauma has left them in All Fawn All The Time mode, so they keep getting the junior ambassador caught in horrible codependent emotional spirals which the junior ambassador has to break out of by sheer stubborn force of will, sometimes by pushing back with their own, laughably underdeveloped in comparison, power. (The normal Strange response to being mentally overpowered is physical violence, but the junior ambassador absolutely refuses to hit the vulnerable person they're trying so hard to help.) They feel conflicted about using their power even that much, but the only other option seems to be to abandon this person to die, so they're gonna do whatever it takes.
Halfway through the book, the junior ambassador, who has been developing unfortunate habits, accidentally uses their power in conversation with the senor ambassador; minor involuntary power usage is considered fine and on a continuum with just using language normally, but this is a pretty forceful push. They're appalled with themselves; they feel like it would've been better if they'd just stabbed their boss instead, and their boss kind of seems to agree. Things get very tense in the embassy, and after a few weeks, the junior ambassador ambiguously-quits-or-is-fired and takes their rescued Beauty home to Strange territory.
The rest of the book explores how their relationship develops as the Beauty recovers further and their Strange benefactor struggles to make ends meet and support them in a society so much poorer than the extravagantly luxurious Beautiful city that cast them out. The Stranger still struggles with the impulse to use their powers casually since they've been doing so much of it with their Beauty, and the Beauty still struggles with the concept of suppressing their powers at all, which gets to be more and more of a problem as they recover more and more. But in the end, they reach an equilibrium, with the Stranger relearning how to control themselves and managing to teach the Beauty along the way, and although Strange society still views them both with considerable suspicion and the thought of trying to go near Beautiful society terrifies them each in different ways, they carve out a life together that works for both of them, and learn how to become friends across the numerous cultural and psychological chasms that divide them.