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Mar 30, 2017 8:34 AM
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Well, if there's nothing Malak is equipped to provide them then they'll just get going then. Off to Nargothrond, this time with company.

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Nargothrond will tolerate the company if they promise not to suddenly attack everybody again.

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Well, just so long as they'll promise to let everyone lea - 

...OK, actually, they're going to drop this subject, they've been over it before and there's no point sniping at each other. Thauron fled back to Angband, no new evidence on how seriously he was injured and how much he was faking it. Malak has a better sense of what winning the war might look like and has some suggestions for research priorities.

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Those they'd be delighted to follow up on.

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So, because I am in fact kind of wary of your oath and don't entirely trust anyone on this plane yet and your actions are cursed to end horribly, I'm going to be handling most of the development for the god-killing spell myself. What I have thoughts for you on are auxiliary priorities. Divination is the big one - just in case Angband or Melkor's presence interfere with magic somehow, divination is the only really reliable way to test that at a distance. Also, solid divinations will be a huge help for targeting. Better teleportation will help logistics immensely, and is tactically useful. General research into targeting spells through divinations, because I don't think we want to have to get within line-of-sight to Melkor to destroy him. There are some spells in the Enhancement sphere, which can be worked into magic items or made permanent, which will boost some aspects of intelligence. Doesn't really speed up spell development much, but it can help with casting more powerful or complicated spells. I still cannot for the life of me get healing down myself, and yours is more sustainable, but I still think having both will help immensely.

...

Time and Fate are still super dangerous and hard to do any experimental research in but Fate might be worth it. I don't know if it's possible or how it would work but it seems like Fate might be able to do something about oaths or the Doom - it can break curses in general, but those are curses that run off a similar magic system and aren't laid by deities. Having all your efforts not fated to end in disaster seems like it might be a very worthwhile step to take. Or the Doom might cause your attempts to subvert it to end in tragedy. I could look into it myself but that would take a lot of time away from my other project.

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We'll look into it. As long as it's unrelated to the war effort the scope of potential disaster is limited.

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I'm not convinced of that, but I don't know enough of the relevant theory to have more than a vague sense of what a disaster might look like. Also, if you ever happen to have any brilliant ideas on how to capture an enemy Maia it will probably be worthwhile to have a test case for an ainu-killing spell.

"In the meantime, do you want to catch me up on your progress so far?"

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He'd be delighted to! Teleportation's going really well, here's what they have on that, they reconstructed another couple of the things from Malak's notes and got something slightly different than the described result in these three cases, any ideas why? And here's where they're at on planar shifting...

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Well, the first one is an Enhancement spell, best guess is that particular one interfaces weirdly with elven biology, unless...? no, some of the humans tested it too, and humans here seem like humans back home. This second one is a spell Malak had never actually cast themselves, that's probably just an imperfect description from imperfect memory. The third one might be behaving weirdly just because this is a different plane, if the connection to the plane of shadows is a little bit off that might mess up some Darkness spells like this...

Oh that's pretty good progress on plane shifting, well done! But. Oh, shit. Um, this was almost really bad, fortunately the elves haven't developed the mana capacities to actually plane shift successfully because this spell does not have precise enough targeting. For weird reasons that are probably mostly theological and not really things Malak studied, it's weirdly easy for spells to mix up Heaven and Hell and so while this was a good idea assuming the plan was to fetch some angelic help or start evacuating people it would probably have been a coin flip between Celestia and Baator. And it wouldn't even have been obvious, devils have some really nice looking parks and open spaces in Hell probably for exactly this reason because they are universally awful.

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"How do you know? That they're universally awful, I mean -"

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"I have fairly little firsthand experience with devils, ancestry aside. On my plane it is generally considered common knowledge. It's pretty well confirmed that many-if-not-all people become outsiders of some sort after they die, and the people who have been confirmed to have become devils are, by my standards at least, evil. Warlords, tyrants, scheming vice-chancellors, corrupt officials. There are no stories of devils ever showing kindness without later following it up with an - attempted at least - betrayal. There's speculation that Outsiders in general are not really capable of acting outside of their nature, and part of the nature of devils is cruelty and treachery. I may in fact be wrong but I think the chances of that are small enough that it's worth assuming that they are universally evil and untrustworthy."

"Admittedly, people have said many of the same things about Tieflings, though I think in part we're tarnished by association."

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"People like saying things like that about their enemies, in general. But I'll be cautious as if it's true, at least."

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"In general, this is a bad habit that many people have, yes. But I've seen human factions that hated each other and would say these things about each other come around to grudging acceptance in a generation and I don't think anyone has ever been of the opinion that devils and demons are basically alright. Not even in Bael Turath, where you'd expect it to happen if it did anywhere at all."

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He nods. "Is there a plan to handle them, or just - avoidance?"

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"People here are better coordinated than back home. In theory, I think Heaven is working on it, but Heaven and Hell have been at war for all of recorded history and I don't think there has ever been any meaningful progress for either side, so I'm inclined to think their definition of 'war' is also avoidance."

"The Abyss is worse and I don't think there's a plan for that at all. Attempts have been made but they've all failed to accomplish anything."

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"Well, one problem at a time."

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"What a refreshing attitude. Tackle the easy problems like Melkor and Alfirin first. When did I get to the point in my life where 'An evil god' is the easy problem?"

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"I've always found it at least a reassuringly straightforward one. He is horrible and should be eradicated and once he has been the problems caused by him will mostly cease. Few problems offer so much clarity."

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"We have overtly evil gods, too. In theory those are as tractable as Melkor - gather enough magic and they can be killed - but in practice getting that much power without being noticed and stopped is difficult. It seems like Maia - and hopefully Melkor, too - can't directly affect my kind of magic, so our odds are good that he won't be able to figure out countermeasures in time. I'm used to problems that are easy in that the solution is obvious and hard in that the obvious solution can't be implemented."

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"If he noticed us he would be displaying capabilities he hasn't yet demonstrated, at least."

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"Do you mean that in that he'd be displaying the capability to notice what we're up to, or in that you think he's holding something in reserve that he would be deploying?"

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"I don't think he has intelligence sources that'd let him have noticed this. I am certain he's holding things in reserve."

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"Sauron - Thauron? - made it back to Angband. So Melkor at the very least knows that I exist. I don't know how much more they might be able to infer from that. If we assume that they're at least as smart as Alfirin then it would not be safe to bet on the continued secrecy of our projects."

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"If I were Melkor and knew nothing but that you existed and fought Thauron as described I'd try very hard to kill you."

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"If I were Alfirin and knew nothing but that - well, assuming my fighting style and magic were foreign to her - I would try very hard to coopt me. I think. I think it's reasonably likely that she would try to get as much information as possible before trying anything, or she might go for the 'shoot first, interrogate the corpse' approach. I don't know, predicting her is hard."

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