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Generated: Apr 26, 2018 10:06 PM
Post last updated: Mar 04, 2017 5:30 PM
hell or glory
Sindri proposes marriage to Demon Cam
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By my calculations (see attached spreadsheet), Revelation was the single highest-impact good deed in human history by a wide, wide margin. I haven't made enough of a study of elven history to include it in the analysis, but I would be surprised to see a significant competitor. Your anonymity measures were wonderfully clever and your choice of context for re-revelation only confirms that the first time wasn't a one-off.

My best guess is that you're probably getting on the order of a hundred marriage proposals around now. Marry me anyway.


He signs it Sindri Koskin in English and Thulic.

The hours of careful research he put into the supporting calculations are probably not going to be appreciated, but maybe Cam is the sort of person who likes his marriage proposals with supporting calculations backed by hours of careful research, in which case Sindri is in luck. That's sort of the point of marriage proposals out of the blue; you have to write them in such a way that the recipient has a good guess about whether you are the sort of person they might like to marry.
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That's cute. He passes that one along.

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...yeah okay kinda cute.

Sindri gets an email that reads The guy who sorts my proposals tossed me yours. How long did those spreadsheets even take?

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Collecting and double-checking the data took five and a half hours, and constructing and finalizing the spreadsheets took a further one and a half afterward. Who sorts your proposals, Elvis?
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Yeah, he thought it'd be fun. He can't take his, he's already married.
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Congratulations to Elvis, if appropriate. Is he doing a good job with the sorting so far?
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I'm not checking his 'no' pile but nothing he's sent me to read has been a waste of time. I did tell the intervewer I didn't think people who read in a magazine that I was single were my type but they cut that and I might be too famous now to have uncontaminated romances anyway.
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Uncontaminated? Is fame a contaminant? I do think I get what you mean, but being famous for being Revelation just seems like an easy way to elevate yourself to the attention of everyone in the world who would be attracted to you for the reasons outlined in my spreadsheet.

Anyway, I don't know if I'm your type but this seemed like a good way to find out.
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Being famous for being Norman Borlaug would do that, maybe, but Revelation is kind of too glitzy to be a good filter.
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I admit to not having sent a marriage proposal to Norman Borlaug, but then, I'm probably a little young for him. And I've never seen him shirtless on Youtube. Perhaps he, too, has a terribly fetching pair of wings by now.
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Limbo. I have a letter for him in the queue for next concordance.
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Is it a marriage proposal?
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He's already married!
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Fair enough.

Anything interesting going on in your life besides unveiling the nature of the afterlife and cautioning people not to fuck with Valinor, or is that not for the likes of me to know?
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It's mostly those things. And hanging out with Elvis and warning the last Earth Elves that they have been discovered.
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I'll let you know if I come across anything I think you should take a look at, shall I?
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Can't hurt to have a second pair of eyes out.
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I have a duty! If I'd found out about summoning before you did, I'd be Revelation. Although since I was around ten years old at the time I suppose it wouldn't technically have been my duty yet. (I can fill you in on the sociopolitical context if you're baffled; I have no idea how much investigation into my life to assume you've done already. In your place I would've put in at least six hours of research by now.)
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I assume anyone who deliberately gets a demon's attention knows they might be spied on, that doesn't mean it feels polite to do it!
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Well, extant resources in English on what it means to be a thane of Thule are a bit terrible anyway - I have made the assumption that you don't speak Thulic and don't have a tremendously convenient way to come to do so, correct me if I'm wrong. And feel free to put six hours of research effort into investigating my life, although I reserve the right to object if I later find your house solemnly decorated with tiny statues of me brushing my teeth or something creepy like that.
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I do not require any such statues, nor do I speak Thulic or have a way to distinguish a summons intended to give it to me from any of the hundreds of circles that are currently out with my name on them. Is there anything I should avoid conjuring up, or reading if I run into it, or whatever?
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I can't think of anything that strikes me as a particular privacy concern on a level less obvious than Tiny Statues Of Myself I Would Prefer Not To See Decorating Your Home. I do not think I need to enumerate the list of tiny statues of myself I would prefer not to see decorating your home. If you nose into my email conversations or whatever I will judge you based on what you expected to gain from the information and limit myself to a moderate number of jokes about how you'd be in good company in the NSA.
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I will be sure to hide all my tiny statues in the closet. It's just that 'complete works of' and 'complete published works of' are conjurable parameters but if you don't publish things there's nothing in between.


Does he publish things?
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He coauthored a cryptography paper a couple of months ago with a grad student at Thule's national university. He's won a double handful of essay contests over the years, attached to various publications both in and out of the country, about two-thirds of them in English and the rest in Thulic; the ones Cam can read were all pretty amazing. He has letters to the editor in a couple of newspapers, similarly eloquent. He does not have sole authorship of any published works.

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Okay. What does he look like, while doing something more decorous than brushing his teeth, inquiring minds etc.

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4'9", late teens, pleasingly symmetrical facial features. Hell of a smile.

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Wow he's smol. What's the content of his letters to the editor?

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Twelve-year-old Sindri had strong opinions about youth rights. Sixteen-year-old Sindri responded to a call for comment on a literary review column; he likes the column overall, and here are a few things he's impressed by and a few things he thinks they could be doing better. (If Cam feels compelled to check, Sindri is currently seventeen and a half.)

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He does. That is a little young. ...What are the essays about?

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Robert Heinlein was a weirdo but he wrote some good stuff! A solid grasp of history is crucial to a deep understanding of modern society! Comparison of the nature and history of chess and other chess-like games from other cultures! Frank Herbert's Dune: great wordlbuilding, fucked-up ideas about gender! A thoughtful, nuanced look at climate change and the degree to which it is worth worrying about in this decade and decades to come! This book about how demons are all out to steal your soul is blatantly self-serving trash! Glaciers: they're fucking gorgeous!

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Glaciers sure are fucking gorgeous.

I did not have anywhere near this publication history at your age.
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The crypto paper was a fluke, I happened to strike up a conversation in a coffee shop and ended up playing sounding board a bit more actively than either of us intended. What else have you got? All those essay contests? People keep telling me about them and I keep finding that I have something to say, and as you may have observed, when I have something to say I'm not shy about saying it. Nor about putting in the work to say it well.
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I had somehow noticed that. Also letters to the editor.
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Oh, you have seen that one thing I wrote when I was twelve and you're still talking to me, excellent.
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Hey, I don't see any obvious reason twelve-year-olds shouldn't vote. What are they gonna do, organize into a bloc and try to find a candidate who will give them all ponies? If they vote for major party candidates they're not doing anything adults of sound mind don't and if they turn out to have weird voting tendencies maybe there's a reason for that politicians should look into.
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...It may undermine my twelve-year-old self's point slightly if I say that, had anyone suggested it, he would totally have founded the Pony Party and organized widespread support for it just to prove you don't have to be sixteen to get a voice in politics. In fairness to my twelve-year-old self, he would have switched to something less silly than the Pony Party if he came across a better idea.
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At least 'Pony Party' has pleasing alliteration and rhyme.
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I like to think I have a talent for that sort of thing.
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What am I missing by not being able to read the stuff in Thulic?
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Some local politics, another piece about how much I like glaciers, a couple more book reviews of things you won't have heard of because you don't read Thulic, and a pun-filled exploration of the varying levels of mutual intelligibility between Thulic and assorted other Scandinavian languages.
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Would that I could appreciate the puns but I'm not really good at picking up languages the long way.
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I'm from Thule, where the default assumption when you meet another local is that they're bilingual in English and Thulic with at minimum enough French to tell you to fuck off in; I have no idea how my language-learning skills compare to an average human's. I like languages, though, they're fun.
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They are! I really appreciate them now that I have more than high school Spanish to play with, I just cheated at most of them.
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Cheater. (I say this with admiration and envy. I'd love to be able to learn every major language on Earth just by catching a bunch of circles from assorted locations. Well, one day.)
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One day! Don't rush it.
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I'm not eager to give up my easy access to this beautiful planet. All of my favourite glaciers are here.
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And if you were an angel, I'm not sure Heaven has any glaciers at all!
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If I were an angel I'd build some.
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And they would be lovely.
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I'm glad you understand my dedication to producing glaciers of only the most surpassing quality.
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Would they be interesting colors and have frozen mammoths in them or do you prefer your glaciers pristine ice?
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Having never been called upon to build a glacier, I don't have my design choices finalized, but I expect I'd go for a variety. No mammoths, though, not unless I went overboard and decided to take thousands of years to construct an entire planet with a carefully crafted biological and geological history. Fake frozen mammoths in my artificially produced glaciers just feels so inauthentic otherwise.
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Being a demon does not make me immune to accidentally inhaling orange juice I will have you know.
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I apologize. Well, I apologize while cackling gleefully, but the apology is nevertheless sincere.
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If you would find it convenient to visit Only Technically Nonrandom Rural Location, Canada, you could do that and we could have an actual date modulo the possibility that I will suddenly freak out upon being confronted with your seventeenness in person.
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I have been a thane of Thule and therefore in all respects a legal adult for a year and a half, but I understand that that logic may not be operative in your reaction to my seventeenness, particularly since in your benighted country I wouldn't even be allowed to drink alcohol for another four fucking years. I would be happy to visit your technically nonrandom rural location.
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Cam sends him the location of a gazebo a half-hour flight from the castle. And:

I didn't drink alcohol even once it was legal, and, be fair, that's an irregular age requirement even in the States, virtually everything else is eighteen or younger. I felt very mature at seventeen and do not in retrospect think I was in error, but I'm pushing chronological thirty for all that I still look twenty-two, and even twenty-two would be kinda sketchy.
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Oh, sure, I don't deny that it's reasonable to be worried in your position, it's just - not even that I think I'm a stunningly mature seventeen-year-old so much as that I took the þainneið on my sixteenth birthday and therefore as far as my country is concerned I have been not only an adult for the past year and a half but specifically someone who upholds a personal responsibility to make the world around me a better place in whatever ways I am capable of.

The age of majority in Thule for most purposes is eighteen; sixteen is just the earliest you can take the þainneið, and once you do that it's sort of stupid to keep considering you a child in any respect, so we don't. Most sixteen-year-olds do not choose to take on the responsibility of thanehood, and many wouldn't be accepted if they tried, but I did and I was and now I am a thane. I can officiate marriages, I can issue emergency orders to members of the military, and if I break the law I'm tried more leniently but sentenced more harshly because the assumption is that I probably had a good reason but if I didn't I sure as hell should've known better.
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Who accepts or doesn't accept you?

Also, in case it was ambiguous given that I suggested a date after you proposed marriage, please don't officiate anything while you are here.
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The Grand Duchess of Thule or duly appointed representative.

I am certainly not going to marry you until you explicitly accept my proposal. Marrying people who don't want to be married is the sort of thing a thane should know better than to do. Marrying them to oneself even more so.
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Just checking. In case 'come have a date with me! In Canada!' seemed a little too acceptance-shaped.
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Ah. No, it sounded date-shaped, but I can see why you would have wanted to clarify.
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When's good?
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Saturday afternoon? Around one o'clock, your local time?
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Sure. Show up hungry, I do good food.
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Will do!
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Should I plan on anything more elaborate than dinner?
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Oh, I don't know. Feel free to surprise me.
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I feel like this would be an awkward place for a glacier.
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I'm sure you'll think of something.
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Suppose you are disappointed and I am uncreative and bad at guessing?
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If you cannot think of any interesting gifts, set pieces, geographical features, exotic potted plants, lost wonders of the world, or other miscellanea to add to our date, I will be very surprised indeed.
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We shall see.
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Indeed.
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When Sindri shows up the gazebo is decorated with interesting demonic artwork and there is unfamiliar baroque music playing.

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He arrives by fairy, and when he waves to her she zips off.

"Nice," he says of the setup.

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"Thanks. Somebody has in fact already grabbed the posthumous work of Bach but just the sheet music. Demons have done recordings. How are you?"

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"I'm doing great. Myriol had a couple of things she wanted me to take a look at recently and I dealt with both of them. Nothing earth-shattering, but it's nice to be useful."

His accent is a little hard to place; the underlying Thulic flavour comes through strongest when he says the name of his Grand Duchess.

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"Oh yeah? What'd you do?"

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"Gently convinced some people that the laws they keep trying to break exist for good reasons and they should stop being assholes about it - one of them yearns to introduce Arctic foxes to our delicate ecology for aesthetic reasons, the other one just thinks taxes are a really great idea that should apply to other people."

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"You can convince people to voluntarily pay taxes?"

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"Eh, he just needed a little patience."

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"If you have any medium-sized predators they could maybe be angeled into looking foxy but I do not know how they'd do after that. What did that person need?"

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"That person needed a comprehensible, nonconfrontationally delivered explanation of why the thing they wanted to do would be an enormous disaster."

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"Are these typical of thane errands?"

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"They're typical-ish of my thane errands, because they're the sort of thing I'm good at."

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"What is the best thane errand you have been on, and what do you want for lunch?"

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"Ooh, best is a tough one - I'd like some sort of humanly impossible demonic cuisine, of course - a few of the most personally satisfying ones are also stories it is not mine to tell, but as long as I don't name any names or specify any ill conduct I can safely tell you that I once convinced someone with diplomatic immunity to stop abusing it in a highly antisocial fashion, and out of all the thane errands I've done in my year and a half as a thane of Thule I think that's the one I truly believe no one else could have managed."

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"Oh, but now I'm all curious. Whoops. Allergies, aversions -"

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"I am thankfully not allergic to any foods that I know of, although my list of medical allergies is long and baffling. I have no strong aversions."

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"Sauce-flaked fish and mosaicized spicy vegetables and impossible fruity chocolate emulsion it is. The emulsion breaks almost right away, I'll make it when we're done with the entrée." Fish! Veg!

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"I am in favour of these humanly impossible foods!"

He tries the humanly impossible foods.

"Very much in favour!"

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"I'm so glad. Demons do good food."

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"Clearly so. Another reason to hope I'm destined for Hell."

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"Angels can make similar stuff and fairies can copy some of the tricks."

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"Despite how much fun it would be to be a fairy and how useful it would be to be a demon, I suspect that, leaving aside all concerns but the power itself, the one that would suit me best is angel."

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"My guess is that's actually how it works, suitedness to the power. Why do you think angel?"

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"Oh, being a demon would drive me nuts, I'd make something and then I'd want to fix a few details and the next thing you know you can find me at the end of a long trail of increasingly elaborate houses. And fairies are - well, not my style. I'm a meddler. I fix things."

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Giggle. "Angel it is. They can do some things we can't - they can do vacuum, for one thing -"

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"Oh, excellent. I do like synergy."

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"My suspicion is based on who showed up when Elvis was summoning some random ex-human demons. Entrepreneur, sculptor, stuff like that."

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"Sounds plausible." He considers. "My father's also an angel, I think, if your theory holds true. My mother's probably a demon. Harder to say with Myriol."

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"There'll be personality quizzes online soon. What Daeva Are You? Click here to find out! Question one: would you rather cook dinner, combine some leftovers, or go out to eat."

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"Or go on a date with a demon. I pick go on a date with a demon."

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"That's probably a not-an-angel answer, angels are often racist against demons."

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"I predict I will not be the racist sort of angel."

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"Maybe you could convince the racist angels to stop blocking the Hell concordance to have a tiny stupid war!"

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"That sounds like my kind of job!"

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"I'm getting that sense. How does one even discover this talent?"

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"By being chatty and meddlesome!"

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"Of course. You weren't bitten by a radioactive diplomat?"

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Snicker. "No. Sorry to disappoint if you were looking for a dramatic origin story."

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"It'd be so interesting if a radioactive diplomat went around biting people! That's not diplomatic at all!"

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"Well, the diplomat is radioactive at the time, so clearly they're going through some troubles and may not be at their best."

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"I don't think that's how radiation sickness works!"

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He laughs. "Fair point, but extreme stress can cause all sorts of bizarre behaviour and I know if I were radioactive I'd be pretty stressed about it."

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"Angel'll patch that up in a jiffy."

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"Yeah, angels are medical miracles, I hear. Although unfortunately not universally effective ones."

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"Pretty sure they can't do anything for my balance; do you have an unangelable thing?"

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"Some sort of weird nerve condition. Every so often all my pain signals turn on and don't turn off again for a while - a short episode is five minutes, a long one's half an hour. I get enough warning that I can safely learn to drive a car and fly an ultralight aircraft and so on, but it isn't very much fun and the angels my family consulted have all been totally stumped."

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"Angels are brilliant medics in principle but for skills that have no applicability within Heaven I think we're only scratching the surface at this point. That sounds really unpleasant, though - how often, what should I do if you have one here - or is that impossible because you would've known this morning?"

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"No, I only get a couple minutes of warning. But I had one yesterday, it's really rare to get two in the same week, and since I've yet to find a painkiller that works, the best anyone can do for me when it happens is stand around awkwardly while I curl up and whimper."

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"Aircraft only need a couple minutes to land safely?"

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"It's possible to never be more than two minutes away from a safe landing. Less fun that way, but possible."

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"It does sound less fun. Humans can have wings, y'know, just can't take them off neatly without good trained angel help and find flying more tiring."

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"And it could be awkward if I crashed."

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"Yes, but you need never be more than two minutes away from a safe landing. Don't need as much runway."

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"You make a valid point..."

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"I mean, sleep on it and read an account from another human who has them, but you might like it! And being small helps."

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"Can you suggest any such accounts?"

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"No, when I was in the market for wings I just talked to demons about it, sorry, but I'm sure somebody's got a thinkpiece up on the internet."

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"Well, fair enough. I wonder if anyone has a good comparison of angel style and demon style for things like maneuverability and ease of use..."

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"Sure they do. Some people don't conform to their species on that or try a bunch of things. It varies more by individual wing model than by whether it's birdy or batty though."

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"You'd have some points common to both - like, batty won't have problems with keeping feathers groomed..."

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"Yeah, that's true. Although you can stick feathers on a bat-structure wing, if you really want."

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"That doesn't sound mechanically optimal but I suppose I haven't studied the subject. I'm going to end up wanting to design my own pair of wings, aren't I."

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"You'll want a daeva test subject."

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"I'll make an angel friend," he says cheerfully.

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"That's the way to do it, they can take 'em off and make edits and stick 'em back on."

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"Exactly!"

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"And you can name the model and submit it to the catalogs!"

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"The half-dozen models I come up with in pursuit of one I'm satisfied with, more like."

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"There you go. Maybe you will win an award."

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"Who gives out wing awards?"

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"Wing nerds!"

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"I aspire to thrill the wing nerds with my creativity and design sense."

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"I am sure you will delight them."

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"I generally do."

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"Delight wing nerds, or delight nerds in general?"

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"Delight everyone I can manage, but nerds are particularly easy."

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"They do make easy targets."

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"And I am very delightful."

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"And - thaney. Is there some tidy Thulic adjective form -"

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He laughs. "Yes, and it renders pretty straightforwardly into English - 'thaneish'."

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"Thaneish, good. Although perhaps I don't know enough to issue the compliment, since I don't speak the language."

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"You seem to have gotten the idea, but I suppose I could be wrong. What do you mean by it, then?"

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"Running around on - useful idiosyncratic errands ill-suited to institutional handling?"

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"Yes. Yes, that is exactly the thing."

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"I award myself ten points."

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"Congratulations."

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"Thank you!" He takes a little bow.

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"So far I feel extremely vindicated in my decision to send you an out-of-the-blue marriage proposal."

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"I'm kind of surprised that I didn't get any, like, 'let's get a coffee'. I guess there must be some very high threshold at which you send celebrities out-of-the-blue anything and at that point you go for broke?"

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"I considered opening with something a little less forward, and then I estimated how many marriage proposals I thought you were getting, and I figured that of the ways I could close my letter, 'marry me anyway' was the most informative about me. Most people probably aren't operating on quite the same logic."

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"You were very close. A little over, so far; they've slowed down but might hit a hundred."

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"What really gets me is that my joke about Elvis sorting your proposals turned out to be right."

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"He got a lot more than I did but Elves're too monogamous for 'haven't seen each other in thirty thousand years and have no real way of getting in touch or apparent desire to do so' to constitute common law divorce, so he's living vicariously."

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"Wow, that's some serious monogamy."

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"I know, right?"

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"If we get married and are then somehow separated for thirty thousand years I cannot promise I will remain faithful. But I'll definitely test the limits of 'no real way to get in touch' pretty thoroughly before I start considering proposals from my adoring fans."

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"Seems reasonable to me."

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"I try!"

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"He could've attempted to send her a letter with the other letters the fairies dropped but didn't seem enthused."

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"Well. I suppose Elvis's love life is not my business."

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"It's probably unkind of me to gossip."

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"It's a natural human urge. Well - humanoid urge, I suppose. Unless Elves live gossip-free lives."

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"That is actually not a vice I've caught them exhibiting."

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"Huh!"

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"Yeah, I know surprisingly little about their personal lives or those of anybody else they know."

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"If it's common among Elves not to have seen your personal life in thirty thousand years I can see how that might follow..."

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"I think it is uncommon, but the Elves I know are a weird sample."

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"How did you end up entangled in Elf business, anyway?"

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"Got summoned by one. He let me talk, so I got ahold of my parents, and after that I dug around in the languages and eventually decided it'd be faster to phone him and asked what gives. Went from there."

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"Pretty reasonable, I guess. Should I not ask what he wanted you for?"

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"You probably shouldn't, honestly. Sorry."

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"Oh, well. I will contain my curiosity. You can distract me with fantastic tales of Hell, I like fantastic tales of daeva realms."

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"Most demons live on an enormous rectangle of solid gold."

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"That's very silly of them."

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"The enormous rectangle of gold is under all three concordances and has Earthlike gravity."

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"Well, all right, it admittedly could be worse. Still. One day I will achieve interdimensional travel and peace between angels and demons and then it will be possible for the people of Hell to redecorate more conveniently."

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"Peace would be nice. They're not all racist, we have some trade going through Fairyland and occasionally Earth - less occasionally soon, I expect - but it's enough to be a problem."

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"I am a peacemaking sort of person. Also outrageously hubristic. Which is a slightly more unsettling characteristic to have in a world that apparently contains a nonzero number of gods, but then, they're apparently pretty shit gods."

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"They are! Like, 'invented Dwarves' is a nice line on a resume but he didn't do anything much else..."

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"How impressed should I be with the inventor of Dwarves? I've heard only the vaguest of things."

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"They're neat! Short beardy genderless anarchocapitalists in space."

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"A fine invention."

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"Quite. I am excited about them. One of Elvis's brothers married one and is very excited to go back to them."

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"What's the obstacle?"

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"It's in space. From Valinor. It is not in space from Earth, or not obviously so."

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"That's quite an obstacle. Okay, so obviously we urgently need to tell them about summoning - they don't know about summoning, right, or we'd already be in contact with them via two-way conjuration - how long's the trip?"

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"About a lightyear."

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"Not that bad. If you found enough cooperative daeva and either snuck by Valinor or got permission to go around. I suppose getting permission to go around Valinor is going to be a bit troublesome."

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"Yes, and sneaking difficult for magic god reasons."

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"Well, let me know when you come to the point where you need some gods charmed. If you don't have anyone more charming lined up already by then."

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"I'm not sure charmingness is the deficit, but it might be worth a try."

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"Charmingness per se isn't exactly my advantage. And it's possible that the best person for the job is someone more, uh, patient, than me. But I bet I could get somewhere with them."

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"Patience is important here but they've got loads of that going around, Elves are way closer to Vala timescales than humans are."

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"Well, I am not patient by nature but I am persistent, which I expect will enable me to sustain very slow conversations if necessary."

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"Well, hope with me they let a demon do correspondence in Valinor for them."

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"Yeah."

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"Fortunately I think even humans will acknowledge that it might take a while to find a trustworthy demon."

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"That's fair, yeah."

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"However much I've shifted opinions on that."

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"I imagine most demons are less trustworthy than you."

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"This is true."

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He laughs.

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"Still. Even your average random summon you can let talk."

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"Yes. Frankly I'd be much more worried about my safety in the presence of a gagged daeva than one I could talk to in pretty much all cases."

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"Because of your skill at talking people into things?"

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"Yes, exactly! It's the demons who should be worried about me, if anything!"

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Giggle. "And what will you nefariously convince demons of."

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"I already got one to ask me on a very nice date!"

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"This is true. I am clearly vulnerable to your wiles."

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"Don't worry, I have only the best of intentions."

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"I'd better hope so."

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"I'm going to spend eternity creating paradises wherever I can reach, and I feel like you would be the ideal partner in this endeavour both romantically and practically."

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"I wanna terraform planets. I don't know how yet but I wanna do it."

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"Nice. Let's start with Mars."

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"That was my first thought but it might wind up making sense to start near the Dwarves."

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"Eh, depends how fast the Dwarven contact project goes. I bet I can get you to Mars faster than you can get past Valinor, and there's bound to be some people who'd rather stay in this solar system, and then if Mars is the first try we'll know more about the process by the time anyone gets near enough to the Dwarves to play neighbours."

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"Valid points, although I will still have to learn to terraform."

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"How better than by doing? And talking to experts, of course, but you're probably well equipped to look for those."

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"Terraforming is a thing demons have been doing recreationally ever since we've been able to travel sufficient distances within Hell to avoid everybody's projects crashing into one another. I can pick up a lot of it out of books."

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"Perfect. How soon would you like to visit Mars?"

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"Sometime when I don't feel the need to be paranoid that the lightspeed delay is the difference between me and my loud platform getting across urgent cautions and not that. It would be moderately challenging to find a demon who wanted to park here and conjure for emergency Youtube videos from my Mars habitat whenever anything happened."

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"Well, that's a nice leisurely schedule to work with. If you'd said 'next week' I would've had to have a very interesting conversation with Myriol."

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"Oh? How would you pitch that?"

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"Oh, I'd open with, 'How fast can Thule get a space program? I want to take my future husband on a date to Mars.' And then she'd roll her eyes at me and I'd explain that my future husband is a demon so materials and manufacturing costs, ah, aren't, and she'd get serious about it and we'd probably be in the air in less than a month."

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"That's how you're planning on referring to me, is it?"

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"I can cut it out if you'd rather."

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"I wouldn't dream of restricting your palette of communication options."

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"Could also go with 'this lovely man I've gone on a date with, who I arrogantly assume will marry me,' which is what most people who know me will hear in the original phrase."

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"For all you know you wouldn't be able to cope with some irritating personal habit I have!"

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"And yet here I am, arrogantly assuming!"

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"I'm not sure an assumption that nothing about me will put you off is arrogance per se."

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"It can be framed that way. As assuming I'm adaptable enough, as assuming I guessed right about our compatibility."

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"You didn't have nearly enough information to conclude that I talk in my sleep."

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"That's adorable."

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"Thank you."

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He grins.

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"Unfortunately I am far too arrogant to be inclined to list my actual faults."

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"But not arrogant enough to assert you don't have any?"

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"Actually, one of the things I am arrogant about is self-awareness."

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"Aha."

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"I have not had enough time to become truly flawless."

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"Is thirty years not enough?"

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"I'm not thirty yet! And if I became flawless I would have to give up the things I like about my faults."

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"When you like your faults is that where they start qualifying as vices?"

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"Possibly. But at least I don't go in for tobacco, that's really antisocial."

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"Yes, well done there."

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Giggle.

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Sindri smiles. It continues to be the case that he has a hell of a smile.

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"Careful where you point that thing."

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"Are you allergic to smiles?"

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"Not anymore, somebody smiled at me too hard and I died."

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Snicker.

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"People on the Internet think I should go confront the guy or something but that seems unnecessary to me honestly."

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"If it was me I'd want to go say hi. Just - to see where we stood, you know?"

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"No, I don't know, what do you mean?"

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"...If I woke up in Heaven having just been shot in the head, my first thought would be 'who was that, why did they do it, what do they want, are they satisfied already or should I be worrying about my friends or family'... and my best way of getting those questions answered would be to go ask them."

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"I conjured a lot of news. He wasn't super cagey - required a little reading between the lines since he didn't go announcing I was Revelation, but I knew how to do that. He was arrested right away. I would have been more anxious about it if I hadn't been a demon."

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"Well. I would tend to want to go talk to him, although I suppose it would be possible for the spying to be sufficiently conclusive that I didn't feel a need to."

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"I might have done it for some kind of personal satisfaction - like, you shot me in the head but here I am, nyah - but that would've been closer to the incident."

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He laughs. "Yeah, I might for that too. But, I don't know, I try not to give in to the urge to taunt people even when they really seem to deserve it."

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"It would've been subtext."

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"Yeah."

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Dessert.

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Ooh, dessert. "My opinion of infernal cuisine continues to rise."

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"Infernal cuisine is great! There are 'restaurants' that are more like menu distribution sites with dishes so you don't have to dispose of your own."

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He laughs. "I wonder if it's possible to encrypt a dish so it's not readily conjurable outside your establishment. Probably not. I wonder if it's possible to run a menuless restaurant where you ask someone for a vague notion of what they'd like and then make something personalized that they couldn't have specified for themselves as easily. That sounds like more fun anyway. If I ended up running a restaurant in Hell that would be my niche."

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"It'd be a good niche! I'm sure it exists, but I haven't been doing that much culinary investigation."

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"There are plenty of more urgent priorities, I'm sure."

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"Taking summonses, trying to learn the language, picking up violin."

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"What?"

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"I'm sure you play the violin delightfully."

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"I don't, really, I haven't been doing it long."

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"I did not say delightfully well."

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"All right, maybe you're entertained by bad violin playing."

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"I'm entertained by sneaky cultural references."

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"You caught me."

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"I'm very clever."

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"I can't do the fancy part of the song yet."

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"Best of luck!"

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"Thanks."

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"I suppose the traditional instrument for an angel is the harp, but I don't know that there are any charmingly relevant songs for it, at least not in quite the same way..."

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"Yeah, nothing leaps to mind."

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"Alas."

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"What, you're not resolving to write something for harp so that you can appear in Heaven with appropriately memetic fanfare?"

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"I have many talents but musical composition is at least not yet one of them. I suppose I have time to fix that. Probably. Unless it becomes abruptly strategically necessary for me to personally be a daeva."

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"I don't think it's super likely. But you might have other demands on your time. Thaning. How much time do you usually spend a-thaning?"

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"It varies. Nothing for a while, then suddenly I'm busy as a hiveful of bees for two weeks, then another interval of boredom..."

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"Is there any particular reason it clusters?"

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"Well, for one thing, it's a lot easier to run into miscellaneous problems in need of solving when I am out solving problems than when I am at home fucking around on the Internet."

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"Oh, these aren't mostly assigned from without?"

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"Yeah, I'm supposed to deal with whatever happens to cross my path that isn't already being taken care of. Thanes were originally sort of - I almost want to say knights-errant but the connotations are off - the original job description was essentially 'roam around making sure that no one starves or gets murdered if you can help it', and settling disputes and dealing with miscellaneous troubles was just sort of an obvious extension of that, and then starvation and murder stopped being such a big problem but the rest of it was still useful... I like being a thane. It suits me. Gives me a concrete excuse for my inherently meddlesome nature."

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"I'd almost think the position was designed for you."

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"My mother does very well with it too, though in a different way. More of an emphasis on politics."

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"Oh?"

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"She personally knows every jarl and jarl's heir in Thule and she spends a lot of time helping Myriol herd the cats. I could do that too but I'm more useful in places where my mother doesn't already have an angle."

Permalink Eye

"Are jarls very catlike?"

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"The sociopolitical structure of Thule is... not the most straightforward of things. There's a lot of unwritten rules and reliance on precedent and instances of 'I can't work with him, his great-grandfather stole my great-grandfather's best goat' - not that anyone says that out loud, so then you have to know whose great-grandfathers were stealing each other's goats and which of them are still mad about it - but our population is still low enough to sustain that sort of silliness without falling apart like a larger country would if someone tried to run it as a lumbering chimera of a feudal kingdom and a democratic republic."

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"Your brand of - affectionately exasperated patriotism - is not a spin I've seen on national pride before."

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"I love my country dearly and I would not want to have grown up anywhere else. Also it is sometimes a clusterfuck. I don't think I'd want to be the sort of person who sees a contradiction there."

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"It's not contradictory particularly. I found my country of birth an acceptable place to incubate and acknowledge its effect on my accent and tastes and so on, but have no enduring loyalty to it."

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"It was only fairly recently that I realized not everyone has the - feeling of home - if you've read my essay on glaciers you might know what I mean - it's a good feeling and I'm glad I have it but it's admittedly not an ideal setup given that I will eventually end up spending the rest of forever living in a place that is not Thule. At least until I invent interdimensional travel. Or I suppose I could hold out a while by arranging to keep getting summoned."

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"You and the other Thulian angels could set up Little Thule in a nice cave in Heaven with glaciers."

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"Yes but we'd be missing all our non-angelic relatives. And the glaciers would be so inauthentic."

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"They have to be genuine glaciers produced by the appropriate meteorological processes, huh?"

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"It's just not the same otherwise. Although they're still beautiful."

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"Maybe that's why you wouldn't be a demon, a fixation on authenticity."

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"Glaciers situated on a freshly constructed planet as though they were produced there by the appropriate meteorological processes are also acceptable."

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"Very laborious for an angel, that."

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"It'll be nice to have something to keep busy with when I run out of meaningful problems."

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"It'll be sort of restful to have run out of meaningful problems."

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"For about two days before I get bored. And then I can go construct exquisitely authentic planets!"

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Giggle.

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Beam.

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"Will you design your own fossilized creatures or will each planet have its own Cambrian era?"

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"Designing my own fossilized creatures sounds like tremendous fun."

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"Cave art? Clay tablets?"

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"Maybe. But then I'd just end up inventing entire lost societies. I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing."

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"Sounds like fun. You could have, like, puzzle theme parks for archaeologists."

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"Brilliant. I love it. That can be my hobby when I run out of real problems."

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Giggle. "I am pleased to have solved your quandary there."

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"I'm sure I would've thought of something. But it's nice to have options."

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"If I run out of substantive problems I might settle in to being emperor of something, or taking enough voice lessons to do magic Elf songs, or something like that."

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"I don't think I'm temperamentally suited to being emperor of anything. I make a better thane by far. That's not to say that I couldn't do it, just that I'd be very aware the whole time that it was a suboptimal use of my talents."

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"I think I'd have a great time with it. I could be wrong, though, haven't actually tried."

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"When you do, will you be in need of a thane?"

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"Possibly! You're not too attached to Thule to thane elsewhere?"

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"Thule will always be home, but I go where I can do the most good."

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"A thane seems like a useful sort of person to have."

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"We generally are!"

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"Seems to be the idea. How many thanes are there?"

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"Ballpark of a thousand. Some more active than others. I'm on the busy end."

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"What's that per capita -"

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"About one thane for every two hundred and fifty citizens."

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"Do most of 'em start at sixteen?"

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He laughs. "No, it's usually twenty or later. I'm just very impatient."

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"You? Seems out of character."

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Snort.

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