Oct 18, 2017 8:08 PM
the burden of command
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Saddest Gregor in Fairyland
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Drowning gets almost samey after long enough.

She floats limply under the lid of the tank, airless and aching and weak and everything but thirsty, and her wings are under too and can't breathe for her, and she drifts from minute to minute without bothering to open her eyes.

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An unfamiliar external presence communicates with her in a wordless arrangement of concepts: Do you need help—?

Along with the primary content of the message there are several attached implications - the speaker is present in the room with her, they have only just arrived here, they are concerned for her well-being, they are very confused.

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She opens her eyes.

- it's not safe here, she tells the mortal, you can't help me, you have to get out if you can.

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The mortal is sitting in a stone canoe hovering three feet off the ground.

I can leave easily. I can easily take you with me. May I?

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I would rather not be here.

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Now there is no tank around Promise - now a substantial amount of the water around Promise is also gone - now the canoe is under Promise; she falls into it along with some of the incompletely deleted water - now Promise and the mortal and the canoe are all very high in the air - now they're higher still - and teleporting overland in long line-of-sight leaps, blink blink blink blink blink -

How far away should we be from where I found you?

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I don't know how hard he'd look. Probably not off-continent.

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Blink blink blink they're over an ocean blink blink they're over the opposite shore. Lots of lovely green hills.

Do you know if it's safe to land here? Is there anything else you need?

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Nowhere's actually safe but this doesn't look like an immediate disaster.

I want my tree but I couldn't do anything with it if I had it.

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I don't know what you mean.

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I'm under orders. If you set me down I can just lie there not being tortured till they forget my name though.

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...orders...?

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She lies curled up in the canoe, not moving except to breathe and sometimes involuntarily cough up water. This is Fairyland. I don't know how you're moving around like this since I didn't think mortals had magic but you look like a mortal - fairies if they learn people's names or feed them, usually the first thing if it's both fairies, can give the other person enforced orders.

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I'm not allowed to give out my name but come to think of it I guess you could feed me and then let me go if you have any mortal food.

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I am theoretically able to create food, but I have never done it before so it will take me some time. I am also able to directly alter the magical properties of things but I need to touch them in order to understand them well enough and it would be very reasonable of you to prefer that I not do that.

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He doesn't say anything further immediately.

(He's coaxing ileyi to produce something in the 'edible' genre—it clearly doesn't matter if it's any good but it's not clear how foodlike it has to be; paper probably will not do—)

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Would it count if it was just my hair maybe.

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Yes, I believe so.

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Okay.

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So he reaches out and carefully touches her hair, and only her hair, as lightly as possible—

What are the properties of this person? How tractable are the unacceptable ones?

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She is immortal: trivial to damage, impossible to kill.

She is attached to a tree that loves her very much, back on the continent they came from. That tree and any trees grown from it will do as she likes.

She is subject to the mastery-vassalage system and feeding her or learning her name confers power over her or vice-versa. She has a name. It's Alisyrrabel.

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Becoming a part of this system is so much more upsetting than he thought it would be, and he thought it would be very upsetting

I free you from all of your orders - I did not realize that inspecting your magical properties would tell me your name but in retrospect I should have guessed, I'm sorry - I have not yet learned if I can change whether you are subject to this system at all -

And he finds this system deeply, powerfully horrifying, he is barely holding himself together, having this kind of power over someone makes him wish he could die. He doesn't mean to include that part but he finds himself entirely unable to separate his reaction to the system from thoughts of the system.

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She twitches with a gasp, though not in such a way as to bring him into contact with any nonhair parts of her. She heals miscellaneous injuries to her person with sorcery.

"- if you forget my name it'll go away. Wouldn't have worked with food, works with a name."

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—ah. Language magic. Useful.

"I don't currently have a way to deliberately forget things but it is good to know it will not last forever. I apologize for - communicating extraneous things. Is there anything else I can do to help?"

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