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Jul 06, 2022 9:12 PM
Abrogail Thrune reviews submissions
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A world of Lawful Good men and women, as delicate and fragile in their own ways as the characters of the Earthtender stories, desperate to protect themselves from any hints of woe that could devastate the little and emotionally fragile happiness they possess.  They live in a world clearly advanced beyond Abrogail Thrune's own, as with many of the other outside-books, but their inner thoughts in relating to that world are strange, organized, reflective... there's hints that their entire world is run by rulers much darker than their little Lawful Good selves, though the characters themselves never suspect it and think of themselves as self-ruled and independent; they walk within a world far more regimented than Cheliax, and believe themselves to be in Galt.

Into this world enters a character remarkably like Abrogail Thrune, though she's not called that; an Outsider who, even deprived of most of her more advanced magics, realizes at once through her fierce and clever and wise intelligence, that the slaves around herself must have owners - and that she must now play a very calculating, incredibly cautious and paranoid game, if she wants to seduce and corrupt her way through these beautiful fragile things without alerting any of their true masters -

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Yeah, not happening.  Yoink.

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Abrogail was enjoying that!

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And if the portal spits out something like this without the subtle textual attempts aimed at mind-controlling Abrogail Thrune into a Lawful Good version of herself, armed with new dangerous reasoning powers carefully constructed so that she will only comprehend them if she first converts to Lawful Good, Gorthoklek will let Abrogail read that one.

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Oh.

 

Well, you probably get that sort of thing in the mail if you leave your mailbox open, hm.

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Hence Gorthoklek monitoring it all since the start, yes -

Aw, shit.

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"Oh, that's not good.  I don't suppose you have any idea where that book went?"

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...what's this doing underneath her pillow?

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"Don't fucking look at me, I didn't put it there."

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A book wherein a princess, resolved to marry the most powerful man in a land, funds a tournament death match in her fantasy kingdom which is filmed by flying golems. Once entered into the game, one cannot leave the arena except in a coffin. The plot revolves around her suitors--all dashing, eloquent, and emotional men with a variety of different magical powers and mundane skills--hunting each other, fighting each other, and soliloquizing at each other in dramatic rainstorms or on windswept peaks (it's a large arena). There are shifting alliances, always at risk of ending with a knife in the dark (though of course the assassinated will wake up to give a few parting paragraphs of text). Several changes in philosophy are spurred. They learn from each other and take each other on as apprentices. There is romance. Eventually, one group of men put their various talents and knowledge together to defy the game, spurn the princess, and escape into the broader world--the last bit of the book is a bit of a "where are they now" that covers the secret societies they've formed, cities they've built, apprentices they've taken on, and scholastic traditions they've founded--while the others play out the rest of the game, the survivor getting the hand of the princess but losing what they realize too late would have truly made them happy.

(Chosen as being a classic exploration of different philosophical and ethical views that treats them all evenhandedly but has kindness and cooperation winning out, since The Refuge has to at least try.)

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The connection is visibly closing now; Abrogail is only able to flip through the book briefly, before sending back a note to the effect that perhaps the new Golarion will someday appreciate the soulless intellectual commentary of this book once the planet has been conquered by Cheliax.

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They've noticed some fluctuations in the Mysterious Transmitter so they're going to just hurry things along in case it stops working.

They send out the hastily-composed "Emergency Interdimensional Second Edition" of the first harem novel. The politics and sex and romances (Yes, there were romances, though obviously alien cultures have different romance tropes) are left as untouched as possible, but the least romance-relevant civic engineering and poetry and board games have been replaced with somewhat anachronistic explanations of the germ theory of disease, a plan to cultivate pennicilin, the design of a hydroelectric generator, a steam engine, semiconductors, democracy, blast furnaces, a basic mechanical thinking-machine, synthetic fertilizer, and other useful inventions that are hopefully both comprehensible and useful at Cheliax' inferred technology level. Maybe this will help them speedrun the horrible parts of industrialization and get to the part where everything is great apart from the risk of destroying themselves. Good luck, people of Cheliax! Hopefully this one goes through, they're not sure it will since it's not like the things they replaced were irrelevant to characterization or the romance arcs.

To the Listeners, Abrogail sends back a copy of all the Chelish romance novels that could be obtained, with a note that the average and common setting of the stories set in Cheliax should be more or less accurate.  Abrogail greatly appreciates their assistance in helping Hell to conquer Golarion, which, thanks to this last novel especially, Abrogail anticipates wrapping up within as little as a decade.

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The Earthtenders relay effusive thanks for the two response works in a small pamphlet with pressed flowers and sweet-smelling herbs tucked between the pages — they say they will send more very soon.

(Also included within the pages is a slim metallic disk of unknown provenance.)

It seems, indeed, that the Outer God (or whatever) maintaining this connection does have a sense of humor, then.  (Cruel humor?  Is there any other kind?)  Abrogail does not know if the slim metallic disk is meant to be to her a solvable puzzle, but she can recognize a puzzle when she sees one; and is not particularly planning to give up on solving this one even in Hell.

Abrogail sends back a copy of all her personal notes that she's made on all of the romance novels she helped construct as a newly ascended teenage Infernal Majestrix, from the beginning of her time as active editor to the end, and all the works that were produced thereby.

Abrogail doesn't actually have Scribe's Binding used on herself to send herself over the connection; she is not that enamored with the Earthtenders, to take that much of a risk, and it would betray her contract with Asmodeus besides.  If she can conquer all Golarion and perhaps other planets, if she pleases Asmodeus that much, her reign may perhaps be extended long enough for her to breed delicate Lawful Good flowers in reality.

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The very last book through the portal is---a graphic novel, possibly? though set someplace so alien that you cannot tell what world it could possibly be from---it is not clear, even, whether this is a world that has erased its past, or where people are extremely good at coordination, because there is nothing here that would reflect the past or the possibility of coordination---whatever world set out to write this book set out to write a story of beings so alien to themselves that almost nothing could be inferred, from these characters, about their authors---though it is rather seductive for all that---though it's not clear what about it is romantic, it is---

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Gorthoklek reaches over to seize the thing almost the moment that it appears through the portal, but it wavers and vanishes after a single tantalizing glimpse of its pages.

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Oh that FUCKING TEARS IT.

This portal is DOWN and it is NOT GOING BACK UP AGAIN.


...WAIT.

Oh NO.

Otolmens is looking over this situation, now that she has STABILIZED SEVERAL WORLDS in IMMEDIATE DANGER OF ENDING, and -

- have the mortals seriously been READING BOOKS that came through a PORTAL TO OUTSIDE PHARASMA'S REALITY.  Did they REALLY.

Somehow, despite all Otolmens's experience with mortals, she is still managing to be surprised.

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Peranza wakes up with the muzziness of a Sleep spell and swallows a scream, because when you have, obviously, been kidnapped, and when your body reports a moment later that your arms and legs are tied, that is not an especially good time to scream.  Until it is clear whether that behavior is wanted and demanded of you.

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She struggles and manages to sit up, on the rough fur cloak on which she was thrown.  By the time she does, it's already clear, from the rocking motions beneath her, that are not just dizziness after all, that she's on a boat.

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"Oh, hi there, lazy-ass, glad to see you're finally joining us.  Do you know anything about why we all got kidnapped?  Who, what, anything?"

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"I - no -"

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"Reading it as truth."

"Peranza, I got a book the same as Asmodia did, different book though.  Followed by another book shortly after."

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"From which the obvious deduction is that everyone who got a mysterious book - or, from you being here too, Peranza, who read any of a mysterious book - have been kidnapped."

"I expect that when Sala wakes up, she'll tell us the same."

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Peranza is still a bit dizzy, and also frightened, she knows very well that she's not in Asmodia's league, let alone Pilar Pineda's.  She's not even second-circle, well, most students aren't, but Asmodia and Pilar are - and Ione Sala, who, twisting her head around, Peranza can see curled up in a corner unconscious, definitely also is, even if she's not as overtly scary as the others -

Peranza realizes, then, that whatever is happening around her, she does not actually belong in this group, and is probably going to die horribly quite soon.

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"Think Ione's coming around, now - no, Peranza, don't yell at her.  If Ione comes out of this more mentally confused that's not going to help anything.  Wait for her to sit up."

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"Sala.  Pleased to see you've decided to wake up, finally."

"Do you have any idea what we're doing here and also, while we're on the possibly related topic, why are you wearing that."

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