Nov 27, 2022 4:42 AM
the tyrant in Auradon
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"The king being predictable is good because-- okay, so there are two things you want in a government, right?" (Hellevi is very animated.) "You want them to have good policies that make people happy and rich and safe, but you also want them to have predictable policies, even if the policies are somewhat worse, because people change what they do based on what the government does. It's bad if I budgeted this much for taxes and then taxes are suddenly twice as high, or if I took apples from a tree because I thought gleaning was legal but suddenly it's theft, or if I trained as a printer because the guild protects my wages and suddenly the king abolishes the guild. People make long-term decisions around what the government does, and also are bad at tracking what the law is, so it should be the same as much as possible."

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This is a speech built on premises unfamiliar to Alida! These strange and unfamiliar premises rush past her shockingly fast, until she eventually grasps at one once Hellevi has finished talking -

"- I think we have a failure in comprehension, here," says Alida slowly. "You seem to be assuming that the king will try to make people happy and rich and safe? Is this just because they'll overthrow him if he doesn't?" Because people can not work that well together, and they will not be that rational, people will basically not serve their own interests even if you spell them out for them slowly, they will punch you for taking their face instead.

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"Good kings try to make their people happy and rich and safe! --And also rich, safe people pay more taxes."

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She pauses, again, with the need to digest that argument.

Morally good kings try to do this. Okay, this isn't preventing people from suffering harm... well, safety is... she doesn't understand why they'd care about happiness or how that fits in and she understands how rich people (people who have more stuff; she's encountered the idea of money as a unit-that-can-be-traded-for-stuff-because-the-king-says-so in books and on TV) are good to have as subjects because if people have more stuff you can take more of their stuff, they want to - oh, this is just the thing where a gang leader wants to make it good to be in their gang so gangsters will be in their gang instead of a different gang and they want to make people want to pay them for protection instead of someone else. She knows about that. But there's an obvious alternate strategy that King Beast is following, if you can get a big enough gang you can beat up all the other gangs and take over the whole island, that is the world... which he did...

"I think you're saying that good kings do this, but you aren't saying kings are good?" she says. "Like, sure, rich people have more stuff so the king can ask for more taxes, and safe people are less likely to die and dead people don't pay taxes, but at some point a king's going to say 'so, this would require me to give up something I want so my people can be happier, I think I will not do that' and why does he do that?" You can't just say that a king's interests are always the same as his minions' interests, gang leaders have more stuff than gang members.

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"I... think that's them being good? Good people give up things they want in order to take care of their people."

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"Sure, but why do they do that when they could not do that, if nobody's going to stop them?"

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"I think that might be one of those 'evil cannot comprehend good' things."

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"Looks like it." She shrugs.

And, if Hellevi has nothing more to say, she'll start in on her vast collection of library books.

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Hellevi is not going to talk when not asked to talk!

Reading. Reading is good. 

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Alida does not particularly want to terrifying Hellevi, but she admits that she finds the instant respect kind of gratifying.

Getting an Actual Chemistry Book is kind of amazing. The three things sources she'd been relying on were a water-damaged Baby's First Chemistry Book from Andalasia, an alcoholic alchemist from Agrabah who'd been exiled over some poisonings he did, and a badly-translated book of popular history originally from France Two that had two precious paragraphs discussing gunpowder that casually mentioned the ten to three to two ratio, also water-damaged. Having explanations for everything can hold her attention for quite a while, though occasional mumbles of "a-ha!" will emerge from the bed she's sitting on.

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Meanwhile--

"Hey, do you know where I can get some booze?"

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"No."

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"Come onnnnn," he wheedles, "just a little hint."

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"It is illegal for people under the age of twenty to drink alcohol in Auradon City."

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"What? That's bullshit! What do you do when you're sad?"

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"Healthy coping mechanisms."

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"What are those?"

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John is silent because he is also confused about the subject.

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"Hey! You're John Lan, but Chinese surnames come first, so really you should be Lan John. --Long John! Long John Silver!" He starts to sing. "Fifteen men on a dead men's chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum."

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"Not a pirate fan?" He sings a different tune. His voice is deep and clear and quite good, if untrained. "Robin Hood and Looong John were walking in the forest, laughing back and forth at what the other one has to say'--"

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"That doesn't scan."

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"Iiiiiii have no idea what that means. --Hey, want me to suck your dick?"

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"This place is boring and I can't get drunk and I'm horny and you're hot."

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