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Jul 06, 2022 9:17 PM
cheliax during the Scientific Revolution
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Dispater is not, entering into this attention, particularly expecting that Carissa Sevar will be worth 30 Wishes to Him, though He does hold out some probability of it.  Project Lawful girls are status goods; Dispater has no rivals in Dis and the other archdevils would not be impressed.  The vast majority of all mortals who ever were or will ever be, cannot be the most important key to Hell's conquest of Pharasma's Creation, or even have a 1% chance of being that.  The prior odds are against it - but only exponentially rather than superexponentially so.  It is the kind of incredulity that evidence could overcome.  Few mortals already receive this much divine attention, and Golarion is already singled out as a possible source of anomalies.

And what Dispater can see, even with half His full attention on this one mortal, is still less than any fragment of Nethys sees at a glance.  He is looking at Carissa Sevar's thoughts as they form, not reading out her whole memory and analyzing it; He's a god, not a superintelligence.

But neither is Dispater only as clever as INT 33 / WIS 30 might have you believe, for His intellect is not only clever but large.  He integrates many other facts than those visible in only this moment to His eyes, rumors traded about Dis that have passed up to one fragment of His attention or another, rumors passed up out of spies in the mortal realm; He fires off inquiry-demands to several Counts of Hell about why exactly they traded or made offers at the prices that they did -

Probability is twisted about this one, not in any way directly visible to any sense He has, but implicit in a hundred facts around her.  It is not His first time or His hundredth in dealing with a hero out of prophecy.

 

Probability is twisted about this one, and that is not something that should have been possible in Golarion, that has been Rovagug's vault through ages and around which prophecy has now entirely shattered.

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Everything in Hell is a game, though most are pieces rather than players.  Dispater has made of Dis a form of the game that He considers civilized, a prototype of an organization suitable to run the rest of the universe after Lawful Evil conquers it, or even before then for anyone sensible enough to visit Dis and imitate its regulations.  Anyone who thinks Dis unimpressive, as a Hellish civilization, ought to visit literally any other layer of Hell.

Everything in Hell is a game, and when you come before Dispater with a spark of cleverness to execute an interesting trade, He is not the sort to ruin the game by demanding to see all your cards directly - though He'll happily read out more from your tiniest hesitations than mortals would imagine possible, if they didn't understand probabilistic reasoning and entanglement.  Dispater will not, at any point, try to pierce past the Crown of the Most High and look into Aspexia Rugatonn's own mind, who holds the cards that the true Carissa Sevar will have kept in reserve.

But this diminished pawn sent before Him?  For the price she's demanded, Dispater will permit His true self to ask three questions in return, and see what her altered mind says of them, before deciding her price.  The true Carissa Sevar must expect to have her work tested, after all.

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W̶͎̐h̴̬̀ā̷͚t̵̡̕ ̷͙̈́p̷̧̈́ô̷͈s̸̜̾s̶̩̉i̶̝̅b̸̛̯l̴͚̕é̵͚ ̸͚̄ḥ̸̿î̸̟d̷̳̋ḍ̴̈ḙ̸̀n̴̲̄ ̶̢͐t̸̬͗r̵̹̈́ǔ̴̖t̸̩̊ȟ̷̜ṡ̶̗ ̶̞̅ṃ̴̏i̶̢͛g̵̮͒h̴͇̿t̶͇̚ ̶̯͗d̶̯̆i̸͙̅m̵̩͌i̵̦̍n̴̖͝ḯ̶̞ṡ̷͖h̷̘̋ ̷͕͂y̵̨͝ö̴̬u̴̥͊r̸̹̆ ̶̩̈́v̴̼̎a̵͔̐l̵̯͒ú̷̢e̴̪͌ ̸̭͐t̵͆͜ỏ̸ͅ ̶̜̚m̶̧̌e̴̠͝?̷͓̑

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okay 'not melting into a puddle' was probably aiming too high; at least she waited until Dispater was trying.

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Peranza broke and decided to serve Iomedae whatever the cost to her. Carissa cannot really imagine she would've done that but presumably no one really imagines they would have done that. If the Carissa who sent her here was a traitor serving Good, she wants the souls so she can - defect with them? Build Project Lawful in Osirion with everyone shielded from Hell? It seems like a bizarre gamble to take if you're Good, compared to just running to Keltham, but she can't rule it out. 

 

She does have Good impulses. She's upset about breaking people, she doesn't really like hurting them. She thinks she'll grow out of it, especially if her own future depends on growing out of it, but it's there, a stupid weakness, making her worth less to anyone who cares about her results including her.  She doesn't want people to go to Abaddon and be annihilated and she has zero intention of growing out of that one. This mostly makes her less valuable but from one angle it makes her more valuable: she would never, ever ever ever anger Dispater enough He might be tempted to destroy Her.

 

She's definitely a heretic. She's working on being less of one. She suspects that greater-Carissa was more of a heretic along at least some dimension. Mortals are muddled, and made of contradictions they haven't fully examined, and scared and confused and stupid; she is mortal. She is working on being less of that, too. 

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M̴̬̍ị̵̛g̶̍ͅh̷̜̔t̷̙̂ ̸̬̕ ̷̮͛ṫ̷̨ĥ̸̯e̴̦͝ ̷̦̋ ̸͕̇t̸͚͝r̷͉͐u̸̘͌e̷̝̓ ̶̖͛Ć̵̡a̶̟͝r̶̋ͅī̷̮s̶̟̑s̸͈̑a̷̯͘ ̸̪͊ ̴̮͑S̶̺̉ë̶̱v̸̘͑á̴̗r̴̈́͜ ̶̥͑ ̷̹̇ó̶͕p̵̼̊p̶͙̂ó̵͕ș̵̄e̷͂͜ ̷̫̂ ̴̭̂t̴̬̔ḩ̶̔e̶̡͂ ̴͍̽ ̵̪͝ị̶̇n̵̥͠t̵͎͐e̶̩̓r̷̛͓é̵͇s̵̙̚t̸̟̄s̸̠̋ ̵̻̐ ̵͚̽o̷̬͌f̵̥͌ ̴́ͅ ̸̟̌D̷͖̀î̷̝s̵͔͗ ̶͙̉ ̷͎̑ô̸̭ṛ̴͝ ̷̨̎ ̷͓̈́D̴͈͠ȋ̸̯s̷̞̒p̵̙̃a̵͚͂ṱ̷͋e̷͈͊r̶̘͋,̷͖̾ ̵͍̓ ̶̗͋i̸̲͆n̶͖͊ ̴̬̔ ̵̝̈́H̵̫̐ȇ̵̤l̶̟̿ĺ̴͎ ̷̻̚ ̴͕́o̷̗̿r̶̡̍ ̷͇̀ ̶̬͊t̷̕ͅh̵͕̏e̵̩͛ ̵̙͠ ̶̭̆M̸̺̽a̷͖͒t̶̜̉ẻ̷̘r̵̟̓i̵͕̿a̴̧͂l̷̯̅?̸̩̎

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It is not impossible. It is limited by the fact she cannot imagine any Carissa being willing to risk her own destruction, which that would be, but - if she saw a way to be safe from that - it's really hard to think of a plan to oppose Hell the first step of which is selling your soul to Dispater but among the many fragments of Carissa's wants are some that would oppose Hell; it is not unimaginable that one of those won out, somehow. 

 

 

She won't oppose Hell to her own destruction; she won't. If that's what greaterCarissa was planning, she'll simply never become greaterCarissa again.

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It is not Her overt thoughts that He is paying attention to, here, but reading far below those, though still only her actual responses as they occur.  And so He asks His final question, inspired by her answer to the first.

Á̷̙r̸͖̀e̸̲͗ ̵̠̓ ̸̟̀t̵̬̓h̶̡͝ḙ̵͠r̴̜͒è̴̹ ̸͕͒ ̶̼͊ā̶͉n̶̹̊y̸̓ͅ ̸̖̂ ̷͜͝a̵̞̎m̸̨̚ó̵̜n̷̬̑g̷̲̈ ̸͉̍ ̷̣͒t̸̝̀h̴̟̊e̶̳͐ ̵͉̐ ̸̖̓s̵̻͒o̸̭̓ù̶̯l̴̊ͅs̴͉̅ ̴̻͂ ̴̺̃y̷̲̒ǫ̷̃ṳ̶̓ ̴̠̌ ̷̺̽s̴̮̊e̴̟̋ē̷͈k̵̡̕ ̵̪̓ ̴͇̄t̷̹̃o̵̞͂ ̶͙̂ ̴̞̔p̷͍̀u̶̝̕r̵͉͂c̸̙̒h̵̯͆a̶̱̾s̶̛͜e̴̚ͅ ̵͕͗ ̸̬̎t̴̲́ĥ̷̞ȃ̶̭t̴̮̊ ̴̦̾ ̵͉̄y̷̱̋o̵̿͜ů̴̯r̵̤̎ ̷̩̀ ̶̥̈t̸̅ͅr̵̝̄u̶̖͗e̴̙̚ ̸̣̌ ̷̱͑s̷̢̔e̶̥̽l̸̯͂f̵̬̕ ̸̧̍ ̴̖̂m̷͇̎ǐ̷̳g̴̙͆h̶̫̄ṯ̵̿ ̸̗͑ ̴̠̉c̶̝̏a̶͍̿r̵̠̍e̴̠͛ ̷̦͛ ̷͕̍f̷̮̃o̸̼̚r̶͖͗ ̴̺̅ ̴̡̈ȁ̶̯ń̸͇d̵͓̋ ̷̼̑ ̴̢̕w̴̨̿i̷͈̋s̶͕̕h̷͙͝ ̴̛͎ ̵̥͐t̸̻̾ơ̸̗ ̶͚̈́ ̸͖̌p̸̠̅r̵͉͘o̸̙̓t̷͕̑ė̴͎c̴̲̚t̶̥͆?̶̧̕

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Oh. 

 

 

 

Are there?

 

 

 

 

If Asmodia's in fact in Hell she probably cares at all about Asmodia. She's mad at her, but she does, if she's honest with herself, have preferences over Asmodia's state, she wants to make Asmodia useful again. Asmodia was clever, and determined, and loyal until Cheliax demonstrated her loyalty was not returned.

Peranza - she didn't know Peranza, didn't like Peranza, she's angry with Peranza for betraying them. She...doesn't really want Peranza to be turned into a useless paving stone but that's because she still doesn't understand WHY THERE ARE SO MANY PAVING STONES, surely those souls could be more useful to Asmodeus some other way. 

The girls still living - no, she doesn't care about them, she doesn't think. Maybe about Pilar, but Pilar can take whatever Hell throws at her and anyway isn't available for purchase. The others are - what they are, they haven't grown where Carissa's tried to water them.

Avaricia can be a paving stone at least for a couple centuries it'd be good for her attitude problem. 

 

There are people she cares about, embarrassingly. Olegario, Maillol. But those souls she's not here to purchase and should, obviously, not be permitted to, while the impulse is in her to protect them.

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His true attention passes, then, and goes elsewhere.

But not before Dispater has heard back answers from His subordinates, who answered to His queries, and chosen a strategy-tree accordingly for this fragment of His attention.

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She's still here, somehow. It feels as if she should have been turned to dust. 

 

She has enough composure to not do anything really embarrassing like collapse or cry.

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The Crown of the Most High is a less versatile and more specialized tool than the Crown of Infernal Majesty, but one of its specialties is that it will let you deal with archdevils without collapsing; those do not always wholly pursue Asmodeus's own true interests.

Aspexia Rugatonn seems outwardly to be unfazed.

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Dispater is among the most courteous of all devils, certainly the most courteous of all archdevils; He'll give Carissa Sevar a space to regain her composure before He speaks again, a warm sympathy in His voice.

"So you care about Asmodia.  A pity, that.  It seems Asmodia also changed hands at very low prices, of late; something similar seems to have happened with her as with Peranza."

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That's confusing. Cheliax conveyed no such order for Asmodia. And why would Hell have refused the resurrection, if she was worthless to them - or why would she have refused it, if tormented in Hell -

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"Peranza's torment did not begin from any order out of Cheliax.  Her owner did see within her mind her betrayal, and that Asmodeus's compacted Queen of Cheliax had commanded such torment of her if she was to turn traitor, so she set upon beginning it at once.  There are arrangements set in place by which Cheliax compensates us for such, though not - alas for hopeful buyers! - at their most recent price commanded in Hell, only the original sale price.  There was an attempt made to call back Peranza with True Resurrection; Hell refused consent on the traitor's behalf, of course.  Asmodia's case is more recent, and I have received a less detailed report of it."

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But why would Asmodia kill herself if she didn't have a clever plan?

 

 

Maybe it was murder. Or maybe she did have a clever plan and it failed. Clever plans do sometimes fail, even if you're styling yourself an ilani.

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"I understand, my lord, and am pleased to learn she is in Hell and not conspiring with Asmodeus's enemies."

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"Pleased to learn she's not conspiring with Asmodeus's enemies... yes.  Pleased to learn she is in Hell, I think not.  The thought of Asmodia suffering a similar fate to that which the Queen commanded for Peranza, tormented to the greatest possible extent of mortal suffering that little devils can achieve, never to become a devil herself, never even to collapse in on itself and become a lemure, always to be preserved with a part of herself remembering that all this suffering was in the end her own fault, able to want everything to end and knowing it will never end... that does not please you at all.  Hm?"

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"I am mortal, and muddled, and made of contradictory parts, and among them are parts that know their duty, and parts that don't, and parts that are just stupid and flinch from anything that hurts, but I can choose which parts I name myself, and I, myself, am glad that Asmodia is suffering a traitor's fate, because Asmodeus is glad and I serve Him."

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"That falls short of a lie only by being the sort of statement that defines itself into truth regardless of realities."

"It leaves our negotiations at something of an impasse, I'm afraid.  It is not at all Asmodeus's policy to sell souls to those seeking mercy for them; it's not contrary to His nature as a god, but He does consider the inescapability of Hell's horror to be part of its aesthetic and its incentives.  Letting you buy souls for whom you seek mercy would quite diminish whatever pride I gained within His sight by winning for Him His contest with Irori, if something like that proved to be the case."

"It somewhat diminishes the price at which I ought to be willing to buy you.  Are you willing to make Me a lower offer, to gain the souls of Peranza and Asmodia?  Your true self will have left you some negotiating flexibility, though only Aspexia Rugatonn is supposed to know that and only she has been given your true price."

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"...my lord, if it is an unAsmodean impulse in me that desires those souls, then I should purchase only other souls, and not those ones. It should still be possible for me to purchase enough of them to free up the budget for my first request."

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"Oh, they've both changed hands at lower prices in any case.  To buy them at their bonafide market prices, as laid down in treaty, would not much help in restoring Hell's budget for deals in Golarion.  And any soul suffering such extreme torment as Cheliax's Queen commended would, even after this short time, be very little use to anyone, ever, as anything but a decoration.  I suppose we could leave those two souls out of our negotiations, then."

"Or, going to the opposite extreme, my wife - Erecura, I presume you've heard of Her - is quite good at predictions even when prophecy is broken."

"You could sell yourself to Me for... let us say, one +6/+6/+4 headband, and 15 Wishes.  And as part of that deal, it shall be the case that Asmodia and Peranza have already been saved from Hell, shortly after arriving there, brought into the Gardens of Erecura and given peace and peaceful treatment there as my wife is accustomed to do; not forever, but for a hundred years at least.  Enough time for you to ascend in Hell and take their souls into your own keeping, if that's something you prove able to do in a relatively short time.  They will not have been shattered at all, they shall be whole souls and healthy."

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"I do not understand why you would offer that, my lord, if it is displeasing to Asmodeus for souls to be offered mercy."

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"That's quite an impolite question, but I'll forgive it to you this once."

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But not answer it, of course. 

 

 

 

Maybe it's a test. In which case the answer should be the same, unless - 

"Most High, it seems to me that Asmodeus's will is already being done here and I would err, dangerously, in trying to see it done any differently. If from what you know that is mistaken, if Asmodia and Peranza are somehow required for the Keltham seduction plot, and in your judgement Asmodeus is better served by my taking the worse offer, to secure their souls as well, I would know that now, so that I do not err in my effort to choose what best serves Asmodeus."

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