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Jan 27, 2023 12:57 PM
leareth gets dropped on arda
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I DID NOT HARM HIM, Melkor says to Leareth of Vanyel when they return. I SUPPRESSED HIS MAGIC LIKE YOURS, AS MUCH FOR HIS SAKE AS FOR MINE, BUT THAT IS NOT MY DOING.

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"I know. I was not blaming you for it." Leareth looks him in the eye and waits. 

(And tries to think, it still feels like he's missing something...) 

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THE ACCOUNT OF THIS WORLD THAT MOST ELVES BELIEVE IS THAT IT WAS CREATED BY ERU, A GOOD GOD WHO WANTED A WORLD IN WHICH EVERYONE FLOURISHED. BUT I TURNED TO EVIL, AND INTRODUCED IT TO THE WORLD, AND NOW BAD THINGS HAPPEN AS WELL AS GOOD ONES, AND WILL UNTIL I AM DEFEATED.

THIS WORLD IS EXACTLY AS ERU DESIRED AND CREATED IT - OR WAS, UNTIL A FEW MONTHS AGO. ERU DOES NOT WANT A WORLD IN WHICH EVERYONE IS HAPPY. ERU DESIRED A WORLD WHOSE ULTIMATE ARC IS GRAND, BEAUTIFUL AND TRAGIC. ERU ENJOYS STORIES IN WHICH PEOPLE ATTEMPT GREAT THINGS THAT END IN BITTER FAILURE, AND ATTEMPT HOPELESS THINGS THAT END IN SHOCKING TRIUMPH. AND ERU LIKES THE WAR OF GOOD AGAINST EVIL, FAR TOO MUCH TO LET GOOD TRIUMPH OVER EVIL. 

THE STORY OF ARDA CAN BE CHANGED, OF COURSE, FOR A LITTLE WHILE. NOT FOREVER. THE FORCES OF THE UNIVERSE WILL BEND TO TURN IT BACK TOWARDS WAR, BACK TOWARDS TRAGEDY. PEACE LASTS ONLY LONG ENOUGH FOR A HOPEFUL GENERATION THAT HAS NOT KNOWN WAR TO GROW UP AND WALK RIGHT INTO IT. 

I WANT YOUR HELP TO CHANGE THIS.

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The worst part is that it's not implausible. It's also - a very good tale, if one were trying as hard as they could to convince Leareth to join them. Which means he can't trust any of it, not unless he can verify it for himself. 

(But it might be true. He can't rule that out on principle.) 

"I see," Leareth says. "Can you tell me what the motives were for your actions before I arrived in this world? Oh, and also after; you could have come to me immediately, peacefully, it was not too late for that. And you did not." 

He glances at Maitimo, hoping that a wordless look can convey 'what do you think of this?'

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He could've said something in the thousand years before you arrived in the world too, he says without his face moving.

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IN THE EARLIEST WARS OF THE VALAR AND I NO ONE WAS HARMED. THEY INVENTED OCEANS AND I INVENTED UNDERWATER THERMAL VENTS; THEY INVENTED AIR AND I INVENTED CLOUDS. IT DID NOT TROUBLE ME THAT WE WERE DESTINED TO WAR, AND I PLAYED MY PART EAGERLY.


THEN THE ELVES AND THE ORCS WERE CREATED, AND BEGAN TO WAR WITH EACH OTHER. BUT WAR WAS DIFFERENT FOR THEM; IT TROUBLED ME. IT DID NOT TROUBLE THE OTHER VALAR, WHO HAD RETREATED TO VALINOR. I TRIED TO WIN THE LOYALTY OF THE ORCS, AND TELL THEM THAT WAR WAS FORBIDDEN TO THEM. THE WARS....KEPT HAPPENING. SOMETIMES THE ELVES WERE UNPROVOKED; ARROWS WENT OFF THEIR MARK AND STRUCK RANDOM DISTANT CIVILIANS WITH DISTINCTLY IMPLAUSIBLE FREQUENCY.

I KIDNAPPED ELVES. I TRIED TO EXPLAIN THIS TO THEM. IT DID NOT WORK. THEY CANNOT BELIEVE IT FOR VERY LONG, AND IT HARMS THEM TO HEAR IT. I AM PROBABLY HARMING YOUR FRIENDS NOW. I DON'T CARE, BECAUSE THIS IS THE FIRST PROSPECT I HAVE EVER SEEN OF CHANGING THINGS.

I CONCLUDED THAT ERU CONTROLLED THE ELVES TOO DIRECTLY. THEY ARE HIS FAVORED RACE, LARGER THAN LIFE; THEY ARE MADE IN HIS IMAGE MORE THAN ANY OTHERS OF THE MANY PEOPLES PLANNED FOR ARDA. THEY WILL CONFIRM THIS.

THE OTHER VALAR RETURNED. THEY WENT TO WAR WITH ME. WE FOUGHT VICIOUSLY. I DID MANY EVIL THINGS. I THOUGHT THAT THE WAR WOULD HAPPEN ONCE, AND IF I WON IT WOULD BE OVER. THAT WAS NOT SO. WHEN I WAS WINNING DECISIVELY, ERU ADDED ANOTHER GOD. THEY WILL CONFIRM THIS.

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If this is true then it's one of the worst things Leareth has ever heard.

...He's still suspicious. It's too - neat.

"Did you not create the orcs yourself, by torturing Elves?" he says, and catches Maitimo's eye again. 

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The part about Quendi being most like Eru is true but we're not - evil gamesplaying people. The part about the other god is true, because Eru wanted to help the Valar not be overwhelmed by evil. 

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I DID NOT CREATE THE ORCS. ONLY ERU CAN CREATE SAPIENT BEINGS. THEY WILL CONFIRM THIS. ALSO NO ONE CAN CREATE A NEW SPECIES BY TORTURING PEOPLE, THAT IS NOT HOW HEREDITY WORKS. THEY SHOULD ALSO BE ABLE TO CONFIRM THIS. THE VALAR CLAIM THAT I CREATED ORCS IN THIS FASHION BECAUSE OTHERWISE THE INESCAPABLE CONCLUSION WOULD BE THAT ERU MADE THEM.

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It's not how heredity works and Leareth was confused about that before, but he also remembers a lot of Quendi thinking about orcs – maybe they're all believing it on the word of the Valar?

...but his mind is catching on something else. 'But we're not evil gamesplaying people' is...off. It's not how he expects Maitimo to think, and so it isn't how he should speak. Maybe it's because he's still in shock from how fast everything went wrong – that's actually pretty plausible – but maybe it isn't that. They're in Melkor's domain, where he has absolute power. If the real Maitimo was captured, then maybe Melkor can create an illusion of him. Imitate him, but not quite perfectly. 

(Maybe the real Maitimo wasn't captured... But that's a fleeting hope, how could he not have been, he and Vanyel would've been even more helpless against Melkor's surprise attack than Leareth was.)

If he had Thoughtsensing he could check... Then again, maybe there's a very good reason they're not allowing him even that single, harmless, passive use of magic. 

A very fast chain of reasoning. Maybe he's wrong - it's a gamble - if he bets wrong in one direction he kills his friends, but if he bets wrong in the other, then...a lot more than two other people die. And there are other worlds. He isn't the only chance for Velgarth. 

Maybe his immortality works even when all the rest is blocked. Maybe not. He won't know until later – but he didn't know the first time, either. 

I am sorry. In either scenario. He doesn't know and he can't know, he's been outmaneuvred by a god, and he has to make a choice anyway. 

The motion to call down a Final Strike is blocked entirely. Which is irritating. It means he can't even do any damage on his way out. 

"No," he says, flatly. "I do not believe our goals are aligned - though certainly you have every reason to attempt to convince me they are, which means that I trust your attempts even less. I do not wish to help you. I suppose you can kill me if you wish but I will not do the job for you." 

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Melkor makes an exasperated noise, and then - 

 

 

THE OTHER VALAR RETURNED. THEY WENT TO WAR WITH ME. WE FOUGHT VICIOUSLY. I DID MANY EVIL THINGS. I THOUGHT THAT THE WAR WOULD HAPPEN ONCE, AND IF I WON IT WOULD BE OVER. THAT WAS NOT SO. WHEN I WAS WINNING DECISIVELY, ERU ADDED ANOTHER GOD. THEY WILL CONFIRM THIS.

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What if he just doesn't inject any clarification at all, what does the rejection turn on then -

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Suspicion. Paranoia. Things that seem not quite right, and Leareth expects Melkor to be tricking him and to be doing it well, and so he latches onto any small sign of wrongness – anything that's a little too convenient... 

And he's willing to lose. To admit defeat. Maybe even a little more quickly and with less anguish than at the start. 

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Vanyel goes to find Maitimo.

:I think I'm ready: he says. :I've done some little practice Gates: several hundred of them actually, :and it's not hurting much - I just need to stay relaxed and not panic about it, it turned out that was the entire problem - and it's just more power to get to Valinor. Which I don't have an issue with. Although, um... I've never been there. I bet Leareth had tricks for getting around that but I don't really: 

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We can send sense-memories. - they're from before the Trees went out so now those places will be dark, if that's going to be relevant for Gating there. Lórien looks like this: 

And he sends a peaceful golden garden, full of trees, quiet...

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If it's got all the senses it should be enough. Probably being dark won't make a difference? He's Gated places at night and that hasn't altered it much. He'll picture it dark just in case. 

Vanyel doesn't have the trick of tapping anything for energy at the same time as casting or holding a Gate, but he can fill his reserves first from the Silmarils, and then attempt it from there. 

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It works. They're standing in a starlit, peaceful grove of trees. 

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He exhales, a bit unsteadily. Okay. I guess we should go petition Lórien now. The gardens are hard to navigate with two people together, because they're responsive to what you're seeking to find, so probably we want to try together to go left and run into Lórien there.

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:All...right...?: That is a very weird way for a garden to work but it's not the weirdest thing about the current situation by far. Vanyel will follow Maitimo left and hope/expect to find whoever this Lórien god is there. 

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There's a man sitting barefoot in a field of grass. He looks middle-aged, and thoughtful, and tired. 

VANYEL. WHAT IS IT YOU'RE SEEKING HERE? 

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...Okay that's extremely creepy how does the god know his name. Vanyel opens his mage-sight reflexively even as he answers. :I am injured and I need healing, in order to do something very important: 

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Valar are very magic and this one is the garden, as much as he is the man sitting in it. 

I THINK THAT WE CAN HELP YOU HERE.

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:I hoped you could. That is why I came: Vanyel is not totally comfortable about this situation but he's probably a lot less bothered than Leareth would be. He's had a number of conversations with gods. Some of them were even sort of friendly. 

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CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR INJURY?

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:I can do magic. The same kind as Leareth, who I think you met briefly. I tried to hold back an explosion to protect my friend, and it hurt the parts of me that do magic. It's kind of healed, this happened months ago, but it's...sort of like a broken leg that healed a bit wrong? It works but it doesn't work very well. I need it working again the way it used to: 

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