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Dec 02, 2022 1:45 AM
leareth gets dropped on arda
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Vanyel finds a place to sit and does the hastiest set-spell he can, it's not very efficient but Fëanáro is there with the Silmarils. He starts skimming over the continent, a half-mile above the ground, sharing Maitimo on his sense-impressions from it and looking for any sign of, well, havoc. 

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Orcs have been scattered across remote corners of Valinor. They're not actually raising very much havoc, not yet, but there are four clusters of them, in total, before the Valar make Gating stop working. 

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Leareth is pretending to be asleep. He isn't. He's tired, even drawing from a Maia doesn't make an un-scaffolded Gate easy, but not sleepy. 

It still feels like he's missing something. ( - diffuse off-centre wrongness - )

The oath– well, he knew all along that could be a trick, somehow, he has to assume Melkor might be tricking him. But it's feeling for some reason like he's missing something in plain sight. And they're leaving him alone for the moment and he has time to think, so try to chase down that feeling of confusion it is. 

...It keeps feeling like he's forgotten something. Like catching glimpses of open doors from the corner of his eye, except when he turns there's nothing. And his emotions - aren't quite right. It's pretty hard to calibrate on how he should expect to feel when he's just been captured by and then made a deal with a god who, until very recently, he was almost certain was evil. But still. 

Wrongness. 

Leareth keeps assuming that his memory has been worse because he wasn't attending to it, which is true, but he was at least going over it at night even if he wasn't good about notes. And he can go over it now. Leareth is very used to trying to cram several thousand years worth of history into a single brain. He does it efficiently. He has ways of checking it. 

...

...

Something is wrong

Something is wrong and he nearly cries out with it but manages not to stir, not to give it away even with a catch in his breathing. It's not surprising that he missed it until now; it's subtle. But - he's missing pieces. He can't guess what they are but there are enough traces of it.

–He's been background-paranoid Melkor can affect his mind, here, read his thoughts or trick him into thinking he's seen something he hasn't. Somehow he missed noticing until now that, obviously, completely goddamned obviously, Melkor can do whatever he likes with Leareth's memories. 

He can't trust his own mind anymore. Who knows how long he's been here, really - how many Gates he's done, or even other magics - how much of his own side he's killed. No wonder Melkor knew exactly what to say, to be so conveniently convincing.

...

Leareth has already lost. He lost this the moment Melkor pinned him down in the caves. And - he feels like himself, but of course he would, and he has to assume he isn't. It's taken such careful work over millennia to remember who he is – to make it safe to have the kinds of goals he has, to lack scruples, to use the methods he uses. Because he can trust his own motives and reasoning. 

Not anymore. 

It's already over and who knows how many times he's had just this realization - if Melkor realizes he'll just remove that too, remove it and start over and maybe get another Gate in exchange for an oath and–

–and Leareth can't let that happen. He would Final Strike but it's blocked. Instead, he - opens a metaphorical door in his mind. One he doesn't touch, often, because he doesn't need to in order to draw on that purpose. But it's the core of him, the memories he's brought through every single life, the first part he drills deep into the fabric of each new body. 

A tower. The stars. A promise to the world, to the future, not to give up–

Leareth looks at it for a moment. For the last time, maybe, unless Melkor finds a way to undo this too, all he can hope is that he'll be too thorough for that. 

He destroys it. Not with magic but with the mnemonic techniques he's relied on for so long. Shatter the tower. Smear blood across the sky. He is nothing and no one and it isn't safe to care, anymore, it isn't safe to try, because he's in the hands of a power that will twist that to its own purposes and there is no longer any way out. 

It doesn't take long. 

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