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nau!razmir makes a strategic alliance with lastwall
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"I plan to carry out the test!" But she'll nod politely, and accept his point.

But she sobers up. "I admit, I reconciled it by assuming He wanted life-extension magic for someone else. But I agree that His pursuit of life extension is well-known, and a major cause to believe Him mortal." Admittedly it's a solved problem by now, at least by his strangled tone of voice when she gave Him the list of Weird Things Only Druids Can Do that He'd asked for, but it had been a major reason to believe Him mortal, before she accidentally fixed that. "It is, in fact, horrible that if Razmir hasn't solved and doesn't solve that problem first, He will go to Hell. But I think the vast majority of people do not go 'it is unfortunate that a large portion of souls go to Hell, therefore I should kill Asmodeus', because they... do not... actually think... they can kill Asmodeus and conquer Hell? Razmir does not believe that, with Iomedae's help, He can kill Asmodeus and conquer Hell. He believes that attempting this would instead result in Asmodeus considering Him a threat and taking action against him, and He therefore treats Asmodeus's continued existence as a given while He works on His plans in Golarion, which include or included becoming immortal. I want to destroy Asmodeus and take over Hell, but I do not actually think I can do this. Is your plan to offer Him a better afterlife as part of negotiations?" She suspects that a Razmir who had not had a solution to death handed to him on a silver platter might actually be interested in this offer, which, uh, might make her joining His service tremendously negative for the world, whoops, nice job Telri.


"Iomedae is not certain that She can conquer Hell, but She is nearly certain that someone will, eventually, because even if Asmodeus should destroy Her before She can destroy Him, another will take Her place. Virtually everyone wants Hell to not exist, whether for their own sake or others'; only Asmodeus and his archdevils want to keep it around. Our usual offer, to Evil allies unable or unwilling to Atone—which I assume would include Razmir—is to make them into statues with Flesh to Stone and keep them in a very secure location until such time as Hell has been destroyed or rendered an acceptable place to live. This does, of course, rely on the credibility of Iomedae's claim that this will ever in fact happen, which I take it Razmir does not accept.

"However, Iomedae does not actually expect Razmir to overthrow Asmodeus—though She would of course appreciate it—nor will He need to attempt this to attract Asmodeus' ire. Were Razmir a true god, you see, with His own domain and the recognition of the other gods, He could gain custody of the souls of His followers, instead of their being sent to Hell. In fact, most Lawful Evil mortals, at least outside Cheliax, are far more aligned with Him than with Asmodeus. One may imagine, of course, that Asmodeus might not be amused, but this is precisely why Razmir needs—and could potentially get—the support of Good to ascend."


"That is a very interesting argument that I will need to pass on to Razmir." She pauses, to construct her thoughts.

"I am not confident that Hell will never be conquered, but I am also not confident that it will be. The Good gods want Hell to cease to exist, but a great many Evil gods and some Neutral gods want Hell and Heaven to serve as eternal counterweights to each other, so the victor will not have the power to turn on them. So long as Golarion is a multipolar system, the possibility of the eternal stasis that has lasted for ten thousand years continuing remains high.

"Moreover, I am frankly ignorant of whether, assuming Razmir is the sort of entity that can Atone, He would choose to. I do not believe that He is Lawful Evil instead of Lawful Neutral because of philosophical commitment, instead of because it gets Him more of what He wants. Certainly appealing to him with 'it will get Him more of what He wants' has historically proven effective." She is honestly not sure why Razmir has not donated lots of money to Good causes, made Lawful Neutral, and moved to Axis, which would rather obviously be the selfishly best option for anyone who wants to live in a city and can abide by Axis's laws. "Razmir would of course be interested in the possibility of attaining widespread divine recognition by the Good gods. I believe His main skepticism on the point is that -

"- Iomedae is the sole Good god that most of the Evil gods respect. They respect Her because She has goals alien to them, but is willing to use the methods required to win. There are tools She disapproves of using, but none, save perhaps breaking the exact meaning of a sworn oath, that She will not do if the need is great enough.

"Razmir might accept an assurance of good intent from Erastil or Sarenrae, gods whom He respects as powerful - but not cunning. He considers Iomedae cunning, and expects that Iomedae can and will deal treacherously in intent if not in words if it is the best means of achieving Her goals. He would therefore need - more in the way of assurances - to trust that Iomedae would expect this to turn out well for Him, and not only for Her. His most obvious model of why Iomedae would offer this is that She would intend to try to use Him as a pawn against Asmodeus, sacrificing His interests for the good of people He does not value and leading to His destruction.

"This question, how they can align their interests without fear of treachery - on either side, for Razmir is known to deal Asmodeanly -" at one point He took out loans from lots of Razmiran bankers, then had them arrested on crimes they had in fact committed and released them if they forgave the debts He owed them, which is why Razmiran no longer has a banking system "- is one of the great stumbling blocks between Iomedae and Razmir." 

And He particularly believes that she might sell him out because the proxy She is using as her tool here is the level of Lawful where he can betray his country and the level of Evil where the sole thing he cares about is escaping Hell, and She has other proxies for when She wants to engage in fair dealing. Though she doesn't say that, it would be rude.


"Iomedae does indeed prefer that Razmir be a god, given the assumption that this would weaken Asmodeus and result in fewer souls going to Hell—and not instead to a place worse than Hell by their own values—which assumption she is not yet sufficiently certain of, but is working to confirm. It is true, nonetheless, that if the opportunity to destroy both Him and Asmodeus were to arise, She would almost certainly take it, and it is probably contrary to her nature to swear to allow any Evil to exist forever. She would, however, probably be willing to swear not to act against Razmir for as long as Hell remains under Asmodeus' rule, provided that He is not acting to prolong such rule," which Razmir would probably accept, since he doesn't think Iomedae can do anything about that.

(The obvious condition to use, if he doesn't accept that one, is something to the effect of 'as long as Pharasma remains in power'; this would be understood by even more people to mean 'forever', and yet would free Iomedae to act in most of the possible cases where she might actually have the chance to destroy Evil as a category, thanks to the aforementioned multipolar equillibrium on Golarion.)

"I am assuming Razmir cannot or will not Atone first because He has not yet done so, despite that someone of His stature certainly knows about Atonement and can easily afford one, and that Axis in fact contains nearly everything He claims to value. The ritual known to me, of course, would require the involvement of a cleric who denies His divinity, but you should nonetheless convey that, should He want one, the offer is open."


"I recognize this and will pass it along; if you have a more complete written formulation, I can also pass that along." 'Acting to prolong such rule' is the sort of thing that, as her Lawful Evil Societies 101 introduction explained, can very easily be a trap. "Your assumption is quite reasonable; I am not sure if gods can change alignments, outside of Zon-Kuthon," but, yes, there is also the other explanation of 'Razmir randomly forgot Axis existed,' the way he had apparently never learned what Plant Growth was. "Razmir's doubts about this alliance are, fundamentally, doubts about your ability to deliver what you offer, not about whether He approves of the things you are offering."


"I do not; any formal compact with Iomedae regarding Razmir's potential ascension would need to be negotiated through Her church," and require him to admit, however briefly, that he isn't a god, but he doesn't need to say that out loud. "At the moment all I can offer is the general outline I have already offered, of what the terms of such a compact would likely be.

"Our last major item of business, I believe, is to discuss what sorts of things Lastwall might be willing to buy from Razmir for ordinary gold, and what sorts of things he might be willing to sell us. An incomplete list—

"Ninth-circle support for our various operations—most of which are, yes, against Cheliax, but there are ways to support them that do not require engaging Cheliax directly, if He would prefer not to." Really he wants to persuade Razmir to spare some diamonds on seeing if you can give people levels with Wish, so that he can be ninth circle himself without having to risk his life about it, there's really no reason it couldn't work, but Lastwall doesn't have Wish diamonds to spare and he doubts Razmir does either.

"Custom magic items, obviously.

"Knowledge of magic in general, either researched by Him or otherwise lost to Golarion, but specifically—

"Any progress He's made on life extension, specifically scalable methods. I do not think Iomedae would approve of involuntary death even if a third of Golarion's population didn't go to horrible afterlives."


OKAY YES SHE IS AWARE THAT SHE NEEDS TO TALK RAZMIR INTO SPREADING REINCARNATION FURTHER NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU. This is IN FACT a project she is working on. Well, is going to be working on once she gets back to non-diplomacy stuff and joins Razmir on what she has now realized is his inevitable plot to make mass-produce magic items of Reincarnate.

(It's not like she didn't have this reaction when her mother didn't see any reason to do anything other than reincarnating elves into younger elf bodies, when the world was full of people who weren't elves at all, but she is aware that only druids can cast the spell and that you need to be sixth circle to choose the subject's race which is where most of the benefits come from, which she is Not and probably never will be if she keeps doing international negotiation instead of fighting Treerazer.)


(Her appearance does not visibly change for that long, but to someone with Riudaure's skills of observation it's a beacon that she not only feels unhappy about a third of Golarion's population going to horrible afterlives, but guilty.)

"Ninth-circle support would be politically difficult, though much easier if it could be against the Worldwound directly rather than against Cheliax, though this would, of course, free up anti-Chelish resources."

"Customized magical items would be a competitive advantage of Razmir's." Just straightforwardly. "He would be reluctant to yield knowledge that would rapidly be spread amongst all the powers of Golarion, weakening His country relative to its neighbors, without a commensurately immense price."

Pause. "I can make no specific comment on His progress on life extension as of yet." Because giving away that your boss no longer has his gigantic publicly known weakness is a terrible idea. "His ministries did, however, prepare a list of specific goods He is particularly interested in receiving payment in, since with limited diplomatic options that may be easier than gold directly, with values in gold attached, which I can share given a promise that the details will not be broadly spread."

(The most important is spellsilver, and a large portion of the rest are either decoys - not unusual in these sorts of negotiations - or luxury and industrial goods of no political importance. Hopefully the rubies and wow Razmir wants ridiculous quantities of the ingredients for reincarnation oil will be misunderstood as decoys.)


Okay, so they have made some critical breakthrough in life extension, and Telri, apparently, has something to do with it. She's fourth circle. There's obviously not a fourth-circle spell that solves aging, so...maybe they've...figured out a way to turn humans into elves? Elves aren't actually immortal, but they do live long enough for many humans to be mistaken about this fact. Probably it isn't this but it might be something along those lines. Either way she's clearly not willing to talk about it yet.

"You know, Razmir could profit more, not less, if He could sell his knowledge to the rest of Golarion. I do agree that it would be—complicated—to ensure He was fairly paid, but worthwhile."

(Apparently banning all clerics of Abadar from your country means you've never heard of a royalty payment.)

"We would like the list of trade goods, yes. I swear that I will only share it with appropriately cleared officials of Lastwall's government or Iomedae's church, and that to the best of my knowledge none of them will share it unnecessarily, although if any of the items on it are rare, I cannot make guarantees about what other countries may deduce from our purchasing habits."


Right, but the key is that they deduce it from Lastwall's purchasing habits, not Razmiran's. "Before His ascension, Razmir looked at the mechanisms for international enforcement of any deals made to guarantee His profits and decided that if only six countries could sign the Worldwound treaty He would do better to keep what advantages He possessed over His rivals to Himself. He is open to arguments to convince Him otherwise, but does not expect to be persuaded."

And she'll hand the shopping list over. Razmir put theoretical limits on the quantities of spellsilver He values as moderately above its Absalom market price if he can get the money (and if its safety can be guaranteed on the way to Razmiran) and it is about the total amount used by Galt and all of its client states, combined. This is probably a bluff, especially given all the reports that he's so short of non-priest arcane casters he's hiring mercenaries.


That's a lot of spellsilver. Lastwall doesn't actually have that much spellsilver. He had kind of hoped Razmir had a cheaper way of obtaining the stuff, since all the histories agree it was way easier to get in Azlant and Razmir almost certainly has some source of forgotten lore from the Age of Legend.

"Reasonable. It is our hope that this changes, one day, but we recognize that the Lawfulness of Golarion as a whole...leaves something to be desired.

"If there is nothing else, I will let you report all this back to Razmir now. Matters regarding the proposed alliance in Ustalav, humanitarian aid, or ordinary trade ought to proceed through regular diplomatic channels henceforth, or at least less extraordinary ones—I do recognize that normal diplomacy is impossible for several reasons. I have a few letters of safe conduct here, for Razmir's ambassadors." He hands them over. They bear a magical seal which, as is customary for diplomatic passports, grants the bearer preternatural familiarity with a specific spot in Lastwall's capital, for Teleportation purposes.

"Matters regarding Razmir's potential ascension, or the purchase of rare magics, or anything to do with opposing Cheliax, really, remain considerably more secret and ought to continue going through me. I am still not reachable by Sending, but you may propose a meeting via my superiors in Lastwall, without needing to specify what the meeting is about.

"Are you capable of getting home yourself, or do I need to Plane Shift you?"


"Understood. I expect Razmir will send his ambassadors shortly, and I will contact Him and can arrange matters for another personal meeting should it prove to be necessary."

And she'll smile and say, "I can manage a Plane Shift." By reusable item. Because Razmir.


"Farewell, then. The house is under a Forbiddance, so you will want to step outside first."


And she will do that, and step outside, and Plane Shift back to Razmiran with her enchanted amulet, where before long a second Plane Shift can deliver her back to Razmir's palace in the Thirty-Ninth Step. And there she can describe what happened to Razmir.


Who spends a long time silent.

He is not, in fact, used to being offered his wildest dreams.

And an Atonement. He's also been offered an Atonement. There is a sense in which Razmir regrets his decisions, but it's the specific sense that he regrets that the world sucks enough so that the right thing for himself to do screws over so many people. He does not seriously think that, instead, he should do what does not serve his interests. Thassilon was not founded on the idea of people serving each other, but rather on the premise that everyone who could should learn magic. He has learned magic - he is literally the only Runesage alive - while they are a collection of ignorant savages, and really the answer is clear.

... His wildest dreams are not, in fact, to become a god, though; he's pretty sure of that. Whenever he imagines what he most wants, his most implausible desire, it is to wake up back at home in a world where he is completely irrelevant and completely replaceable. Axis is honestly as close as he can come, and yet he has spent the past decades desperately trying to escape it.

Why didn't he? The spite of the gods? Dreams of grandeur? The desire to outdo the Runelords, and prove himself the greatest wizard ever to live? None of these sound right.

He is pretty sure that it started off with wanting not to die and go to Hell, and also to fix the world, which was dumb. He is also pretty sure it didn't have anything to do with wanting other people not to go to hell. He's not that dumb. 

But this is a very simple offer. He might make Lawful Neutral purely from donating his secrets to Lastwall; if he did, Iomedae would, obviously, pay him, because She wants to incentivize future defectors. And He's already old; 

And yet, he does, in fact, want to be a god. He's not sure why this drives him so much; why fading into the background in Axis is so impossible. But he is sure that being a ninth-circle wizard is not enough power, and that he needs more power than this for his goal of... becoming a god? Rebuilding civilization? Constructing an Age of Glory?

- It doesn't matter.

"Crafting custom magical items is not difficult for Us." Technically, remembering how to do so is not that hard; His only limitation is that His nation is already spending more than its income thanks to the fraction of its budget that is spellsilver imports. "And if Laswall will give Us Ustulav, their price is fair." He might need to reinvent one a customized magic item for road-building, but doing it with sheer pressure would be... not all that technically complicated? Just a very large set of Telekinesis spells. And constructing an impossible road in a night is really good for looking like a god.

(Razmir is not, in fact, thinking about the economic concepts of 'opportunity cost' and 'comparative advantage' here at all. The question 'should I solve this impossible problem with my favorite solution' has not occurred to him; he skipped straight to 'how'. This is one of the reasons Razmiran is broke.) 



"And - uh - did I correctly guess -"


"Frankly We are slightly disappointed you did not guess faster, though We suppose it is reasonable, since you had not had your attention pulled to the Reincarnation spell directly. The key to infinite wealth, the key to solving all the troubles of Golarion, was monopolized by an obscure cult of tree-dwellers actively opposed to the transformation of Golarion into a utopian civilization. The industrial production of the ingredients cannot presently be carried out, but the fact that they are naturally-derived oils, rather than diamonds, will make this simpler. We hope to develop an item for turning the ingredients into Reincarnate spells within a year at the most, a week at the earliest, depending on Our other concerns, though ending death even amongst Our second-circle-and-above spellcasters will take slightly longer."


We they aren't opposed to turning Golarion into an utopian civilization, they just don't think you can do it! And our cult isn't that obscure!


"So I'm covering reincarnations until then?"


"Indeed. Does the spell function on those dead of old age?" How much of the population of Hell can he steal?


"It does not." 


"And you said the race was random -"


"Sixth circle variant lets you choose it." And choose what you want the reincarnated person to look like.


"Mmm." He cannot throw Telriana into a series of gladiatorial battles to the death in which the winner will receive fame and fortune and the loser a humiliating death, diamonds are too expensive and also she might quit and she's the only person he can talk to. "That would be - considerably more difficult to derive than a simple replication." 


Considerably more difficult. Right. Well, He is a god.


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