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Feb 03, 2023 8:41 AM
eadmund is never satisfied. that's it that's the post
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Nah, the leopard's got big blue cat eyes. They might be conveying a bit more amusement than one expects from a predator at rest, but familiars can be like that. (She's probably a familiar, right?)

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"...huh. People often don't notice. I suppose eyes can be human or they can glow red but this is still new and unsettling, is that it? I think my arrangement has a sort of minimum level of distressing when people notice, and it's usually more than anyone would like."

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She actually laughs, a little.

"I mean, kind of? Regular people have magic-colored eyes, or dark eyes if they don't have it. Mine are glowing because I'm a husk, but - that's not always red. I guess if I was normal I'd have red 'human' eyes, but I didn't have magic before I became like this."

She pauses.

"What… is your arrangement."

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"...depends how much you want to fold in the philosophy of it all? The... minimally philosophical and thus barely true... explanation is that I died, was so incandescently furious about it that I failed to die properly, and thus achieved my true nature, which comes with certain attendant powers and responsibilities and drawbacks and also made my eyes like this."

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At least her deal doesn't involve philosophy.

"That's… pretty wild," she says, knowing she probably sounds kind of dumb. "I guess you could say I'm also this way because of how mad I was about something, but I definitely didn't die. Or even almost die. What kindsa powers do you have? And responsibilities."

He looks pretty young to be having responsibilities, but he also looks pretty young to have died, so maybe there's some not-what-he-seems more-than-meets-the-eye stuff going on.

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He grins (in a way that really makes it seem like, even if he is more than meets the eye, he is probably not older than meets the eye) and flicks his finger at a fruit hanging from a nearby tree.

It falls, bisected.

"That's, um, roughly the least hideously destructive thing I'm capable of doing that looks like anything in particular, unless you wanted some snow. Technically my clothes are also power? And responsibility, really. But I can't change them, I can just make them exist or not. And they currently exist. If you felt like trying to kill me I could make that not work but it's not what I call pleasant. - and I could make you want something, but, um, inflicting my Bane on you seems antisocial." (He's babbling and he's well aware he's babbling but it's been a while since he talked to someone, all right?)

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Jadis curls at his feet, purring up a storm. (She can't really help it. He is being disgustingly adorable.)

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She watches the demonstration with interest. Slicing things, making snow, having… clothes… self-defense, mind control. If there's a theme to his abilities she doesn't see it.

"Yeah, that sounds pretty different from normal magic. I mean, the magic from around here. You can't really make stuff with magic, just… constructs? Like, if I knew how, I could make a hammer and bonk things with it. It'd last as long as I was thinking about it. But it'd look like…"

She calls up an experimental glow of unshaped red magic in her hand and - swooshes it, a little. The motion isn't particularly refined.

"I don't even know how you'd go about making it snow. I definitely haven't heard of anyone doing that before."

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"Really his isn't for making things either," Jadis says, amusement coloring her voice. "You could in fact say it's for unmaking things."

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"Yes, Jadis, you could, but you could also say that it's versatile. And more relevantly, that I don't intend to unmake anything unless I absolutely have to."

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"Traitor~" she sing-songs.

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"Whatever, Jadis."

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Heh, banter.

"I mean, if hideously destructive is an accurate description of what happens if you unmake things necessarily, I can't blame you for not wanting to do that."

She scuffs the forest floor a little with her foot.

"So, you mentioned the clothes are a responsibility - kinda like a uniform, I guess? What does that mean, though, is there any stuff you have to do? Do you have to do any of it here? Do you have a boss."

(Her heart picks up, a little, at that last question. She's remembering the last boss she had. Better distract herself with this weird situation so something she regrets doesn't happen.)

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The leopard unfurls herself back into a woman's form. "- you don't mind, do you, it's only that the ruse wasn't really doing anything for us and he's not getting anything out of me being fluffy at the moment because he's too conscious that I'm a monster - anyway. His responsibility is to unmake, to destroy. To head the grand Host that will tear the firmament asunder, slaughter the angels, make what is into not. He is the boss. Or, well, one of a few hundred. A few hundred, heading the thousands who ride in the forces of nothingness, taking back the void upon which Creation was inflicted. But he's a traitor. He'd rather suffer with the rest of you. And of course we always knew he was a traitor - we called him Traitor King from the outset - but it still stings rather. But to answer your question, no, he doesn't have to do any of it here. He might anyway, because it's hard not being what you are, but he'll be awfully sorry."

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Though blatantly miserable, Eadmund disputes none of this.

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She backs up in surprise when Jadis shapeshifts - for some reason she'd been kind of assuming that he had a familiar because that was how magic worked? Even though in retrospect that was a bit of a silly assumption to make. She tells herself to calm down, since freaking out won't exactly help matters.

"That sounds like - a lot," she says, very aware of the understatement. "Kings and traitors and grand hosts."

She shifts uncomfortably. It's hard not being what you are. That applies to her, too, even if it's on a smaller scale.

"What do you plan to do?" she asks instead, hoping that it'll cheer the both of them up. (Jadis doesn't seem to care either way.) "Since you're going to try not to destroy the world. Thanks for that, by the way, I think it's a good world."

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"It isn't," Jadis says mildly.

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"...well. It's broken, but that doesn't mean it's all bad. Anyway, I... well. I don't... know? What I plan to do. I'm kind of not planning. The kind of power that I am, we're called Strategists, our whole job is making the plans for how to tear it all down, and I thought, a little while back, what if I just... didn't. Have a plan. A strategy."

He exhales. "Then again that caused me to fall into an endless abyss and land on a desert island in a world I'd never heard of. And it hasn't stopped me dying. Actually I think I might be dying more."

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She nods. She - has to keep in mind what he said about the minimally philosophical explanation being barely true - but she can understand the conflicting desires. Wanting to take a break but being afraid of the consequences, which in turn just makes you need a break more.

(It's hard not being what you are.)

She's concerned about the dying thing, though!

"Uh, that last part. Is there anything you… need, I guess? There are people on the mainland, I'm just here because it's. Dangerous. For them, not for me."

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He snorts. "Um. The main thing I need is to stop wanting things - I'm dying of Temptation? Being around more people wouldn't help with that. ...possibly I should explain... more of the esoteric nonsense I'm saying. Like how the Bane works."

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She can relate, except for the part where she's probably basing that on a pile of wrong assumptions.

She - sits down on the nearest available mossy log.

"Yeah, okay."

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"So - who's good for this... Oh. Well.

"Imagine, right, that you're going about your business, one day, and then someone says to you - your brother's dead. House burned down, him and his wife and his kids are all gone. You're heartbroken. It's awful, it's the worst thing that could possibly happen. But you've got a framework for how to deal with it? You know that bad things happen. This is worse than anything you could've imagined happening, but it's in the space that could happen.

"But then you're at his funeral, and you're dressed in black and everyone's crying - and it's a beautiful sunny day, and there's a rainbow in the sky. Birds are singing. There's a fat little bumblebee visiting the nearest flower, dusting pollen on everything it bumps into on the way. It's the perfect day. And your brother's dead.

"And in that moment it seems like the world isn't working like it should work. It isn't supposed to be the perfect day, not when you're never going to see him again and you'll never see his kids grow up and you'll never get to win that fight you were having about whether Romeo and Juliet's a stupid story because he's dead, he's in Heaven or Hell or he's reincarnated into a snowshoe hare or whatever.

"And the moment passes, and you try to get over it, try to remind yourself it's not personal, you know, it's not the universe thumbing its nose at you in particular, it's just a nice day. And... the sun rises the next day and there's a rainbow in the sky, and birds are singing. And you ask someone what the hell's up with this weather you've been having, to distract yourself from how miserable you are, and they look at you funny and ask what you're talking about, and you say it's so sunny and warm, and why are there rainbows anyway when I haven't seen a drop of rain, and they say it's overcast today. Really they wouldn't even say that, they'd think you were talking metaphorically - but it is cloudy, for them. You're the only one seeing the rainbow.

"And it gets worse. Every day, the weather's more perfect, the rainbow a little bigger and brighter in the sky. The birds sing your brother's favorite songs. That damned bumblebee is everywhere you look, getting pollen over your rug or your desk or your cat.

"You haven't seen the rain in weeks, or months, or years.

"And then you walk out your front door and the garden path leads up to the foot of the rainbow. And you think, maybe this can help me. And you walk up the rainbow, and as you walk along it you feel the colors bleeding through you, the birdsong filling your ears, the bumblebee circling like a vulture... and you die. You collapse on that rainbow bridge, the rainbow that was your evidence of how the world is wrong, and you fall through it and through the world. You fall straight through Hell, because Hell has no place for you, into the void. And you could dissolve there, you could be unmade - it'd be easy. But you're so angry, about the rainbow. There shouldn't be a bloody rainbow. Your brother's dead. What kind of world throws a rainbow at people whose brothers have died?

"And you force your way back into the world. But you're not of the world anymore. You're Excrucian. You're more that rainbow than you are yourself, and the rainbows of the world see you and they see a hunter, a monster, something that must be destroyed. And they do destroy you. Again and again, you die, in ways more or less ambiguously rainbow-themed, and then you drag yourself back. Because the world is wrong. Because you're the only one who can do anything about it."

Eadmund's quiet but intense ranting subsides. He just breathes, for a moment.

"That's, um, not my Bane. That's Cadwin Belitun's Bane. He's dying of Rainbows. I'm dying of Temptation."

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She squeezes her fists in her lap, a little, when he brings up a burnt house - but she pushes to control herself. This is obviously not about that.

She can relate, though - the rage and hatred when horrible things happen and not only does nobody seem to know, but they're all having a great fucking day. She imagines that extending to the whole world, and… it's still a little abstract, but she can imagine it as something that could happen. Probably if she was like this kid her Bane would be something like stupid spoiled BRATS - nope, not thinking about this. She takes as deep of breaths as she can without looking like she's trying to interrupt. And so they breathe, together, in that moment.

Finally, she nods.

"I think I understand. Why you can't go back to… well, I was gonna say a world of sunshine and rainbows, but it sounds like that's the whole problem. Do you think that if you died here in an ambiguously temptation-themed way, when you came back, you'd be back here again? Or would there not be a here to get back to?"

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"...mm. I wouldn't just explode and destroy the entire - " he thinks about it - "I can take precautions not to explode. It probably wouldn't be environmentally destructive anyway, my Shattering Rite's harder on people than it is on scenery. But there would be a here, still, yeah."

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Well that's as reassuring as it is meaningful to be, in this situation.

"That's good. I'll still hope that you don't get killed, anyway. So… you have to stop wanting things? Like a monk?"

It's probably a good thing that he ended up… here, then.

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