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Feb 03, 2023 8:50 AM
eadmund is never satisfied. that's it that's the post
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"Well, it would help. When I'm not having a flare-up, anyway - when it gets too bad, the definition of 'temptation' gets pretty loose. Usually I end up poisoned after I eat something that looked too conspicuously nice."

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"Yeesh, that sucks. Is there a way to keep flare-ups at bay? Or do they just - happen to you."

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"If I knew of a way I'd be doing it. - I guess evidence suggests killing the world makes them slightly less likely, and, you know, if I successfully killed the world I'd stop dying because there'd be nothing left. But short of that, I haven't found anything."

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Nod.

"Well, I guess until you figure out a better solution, we can - find unappetizing things for you to eat, I guess? Plenty of that here."

She wasn't actually expecting to survive very long, when she came out here.

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"...I'm not your responsibility, you know," Eadmund says gently. "I'm telling you my woes because... well, because it's nice to tell them, but also because you asked. Not because I want you to fix them. It'd be sort of philosophically troubling if you could."

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She sits up, awkwardly.

"Oh, uh. Sorry if that made you feel weird? I guess it's just… I've got a soft spot for kids and got carried away."

She shifts.

"What do you plan to do, then? Just stay here? Since being in the actual city would be too temptation-inducing, and therefore bad news."

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"I'm not uncomfortable, I just don't want you putting more weight on your own shoulders on my behalf. And I hate to answer your question with a question, but... what do you plan to do? I'm... well, immortal's the wrong word, but I'm not in any danger of cessation. I'll keep. What about you?"

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"I don't… have a plan, really. I guess I should tell you my deal, huh?"

 

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"So - I mentioned I'm a husk. What that is, is…"

She pauses a moment to choose her words.

"I didn't used to have magic, and I worked as a servant with my boyfriend."

Blink.

"…That's not because we don't have magic, my boyfriend actually pretends that he does, and most of our coworkers have it for real. But I got -"

(Deep, steadying breath.)

"- fired. I won't go into the details, because thinking about it is making me start to get mad, and I'm trying to avoid that. But - I went home, and I was feeling like garbage. My heart was pounding hard enough to hurt, I could hear it in my ears, and I could feel this heat inside me, and I was hunching in on myself so I didn't punch the next person or lamppost or whatever I saw. I - think I actually lost track of time, because I don't remember the entirety of the walk. But when I got home and looked in the mirror, my eyes were like this."

Gesture.

"And I panicked. Because - husks are crazy evil monsters, more animal than person, and - if you see one you call the guard so they can kill it. I didn't want to die, but I didn't want to go crazy and hurt my boyfriend or any of the kids we watch either. So I ran. And when I got to the docks, I realized that if I swam here, nobody would find me. So I did that. And I've been here for a couple of days now. But…"

She sighs, putting her head on her knees.

"I realized that there isn't any hope for me. I don't know how to survive on my own - technically there's plants I can eat, but I don't know poison berries from edible ones. And I can't go back, because they'll kill me. Maybe I'll get lucky and burn myself out before I starve - I think it progresses, over time, because I didn't have these when I first changed."

She waves a hand at her horns.

"And all the pictures are, like… big, and glowy, and you can hardly tell they used to be people. I've lost track of time once or twice, but I haven't gotten big enough to ruin my clothes yet, and my body still looks pretty much normal, aside from the horns. And the hair."

She shakes her head, laughing awkwardly.

"Sorry, I didn't realize how much I needed to ramble at someone."

 

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"Rambling can help. I certainly did enough of it in your direction."

With the automatic reassurance handled, Eadmund contemplates the extremely familiar flavor of passive suicidal ideation on display here. "...I'm sorry about the stuff that happened to you," he says. "Do you really think the most you can hope for is a quick death, though? I mean - I don't know. You said husks turn into crazy evil monsters, that it's inevitable. But I think... a lot fewer things are inevitable than people think."

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(A sheepish smile.)

"I mean… I guess that makes sense, since you've got a new and different kind of magic. But - I guess I don't know what to hope for, if I can hope for. More."

She kicks the dirt in front of her.

"Why, did you have something in mind?"

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"Well, not as such. I was kind of just, um, wandering through the endless void hoping something would catch and hold my interest long enough to distract me from the nightmare of attempting to find a meaning under the crushing totality of dukkha."

Beat.

"But I think it could be fun to go somewhere neither of us has been! Like - Disney World is probably a bad idea, come to think of it, given my Bane, but maybe some world where there's a bunch of folks with horns and glowing eyes, where you won't stand out. Jadis, is there anywhere like that you can think of? Demon dimensions or something?"

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Jadis looks up from a scrap of bark she's been doing intricate calligraphy on with her razor-sharp fingernail. "Mm? Oh. Demon dimensions tend to be fairly hostile. The World Prosaic can accommodate a surprising amount of nonsense at the right mystical confluences, though, and I believe there's one currently ongoing in California."

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"Really? The entire point of the Prosaic is that it thinks magic doesn't exist. What kind of mystical confluences is it having?"

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Shrug. "You'd be surprised. And you shouldn't have too much trouble getting there. I know I said there weren't any waylets nearby, but the raven has informed me that I spoke too hastily; apparently it checked and there's one that should get you there pretty decently at the bottom of a nearby undersea trench."

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"Huh, a world that thinks magic doesn't exist? And we'll still fit in?"

(She's definitely imagining something preindustrial - after all, there were definitely times before cut gemstones were readily available and people could only use their unaugmented strength.)

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"Yes, I'm fr- um."

He attempts to tease out a minimally confusing way to make this a true statement, and comes up empty.

"I was born there and lived there for ten years, before finding out I was actually an immortal god-king of the void who ruled before reality was envisioned, and still sort of consider myself to be 'from' there. Um. It's actually quite nice, parts of it. There aren't people with horns and glowing eyes and I don't really know how you'd fit in, but I do trust Jadis when she says you would."

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(She can't help but chuckle, just a little, at his fumbling. It's nice to know some people have lives more complicated than she does.)

"It makes sense that there are nice parts - worlds are pretty big, after all! Um. Jadis mentioned the bottom of an undersea trench. Are we swimming there or can you teleport?"

She's pretty sure she "can" teleport, in the sense that people "can" summon all their strength to lift something heavy off of a kid, but she doesn't actually know how.

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"Uh, I would have a pretty hard time teleporting and I kind of enjoy swimming so unless there's a compelling reason otherwise -"

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"Mortals breathe, my dear lord."

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"- oh, right. Um. It would be extremely easy for me to make you not need to breathe."

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"Whoa, really? That's cool. Will you able to also - make us be not wet, when we get out?"

She is going to get a Good Grade in understanding how his magic system works.

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Eadmund bites his lip. "Maybe? It'd be, um, complicated - it'd be easy for me to not get wet, but keeping you from getting wet's not the same thing at all really. Do you particularly dislike being wet?"

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She thinks carefully.

"It's not too bad," she decides, "and my clothes could probably use the wash anyway. My hair'll take forever to dry at this length, though."

She laughs.

"Okay, I think I'm ready! Unless there are weird side effects to not having to breathe while we go down."

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