He's a sweet kid and she should maybe ask if he's okay. But he looks fine.
"Good luck," she says, and disappears in a puff of smoke.
Gonna start dismantling everything for peacetime. Maybe have something people can enlist in instead of the army, if they want the - cross-ethnic and cross-species exposure and the immersion and the advancement opportunities - but it can be building infrastructure or making magic items...
"A few days after I met you I realized I'd been wrong about something really important. I'd - hurt people and I hadn't needed to, because I'd thought that - being willing to hurt people went hand-in-hand with being willing to get done the sort of things I needed to be able to get done, that they were the same skill, that you could be a good and soft person or a dangerous and cruel one. It, uh, was less obviously stupid in context, I hadn't met anyone else who could match me at 'dangerous' without compromising at all on anything else."
"People were dying on my orders all the time, or worse, the stakes couldn't have been higher and it wasn't ever going to change and I was shit at this job, I wasn't ready for it - I don't think anyone could have been ready for it - and there was one thing that had been right in Valinor and it was gone but I could sleep at night as long as I had the facsimile."
He could more or less arrange whatever he wanted, yeah. Cooperation with unifying our people and making it obvious the civil war was over and dead, I didn't mind that. It's hard to imprison an Elf, we - disintegrate - you can partially manage it by having someone swear not to go too far, or to be back at a particular time, or not to want to leave in the first place. He did sometimes have me swear mind-altering things. Always with a fixed duration, usually less than a day.
I think it was good for his mental health, somehow. Maybe just by channelling all the self-destructive impulses into one place, maybe because he'd work harder on everything else, feeling guilty - I could usually get what I wanted - I picked policy things and felt - adequately compensated, most of the time. I could have died if I'd wanted to.
It's not that I expect it to do something in particular. The question I personally need to answer is whether I can stay and so what matters is - would I be in danger, has he changed enough that even if I would be safe anyway I can condone how he is now and still love him instead of just hanging around out of vague principle, how much does it ultimately bother me that every single person here knew loosely what he was doing to you and didn't warn me or help you...
I don't blame you for not warning me, I blame - everyone else - if I knew somebody's boyfriend went around constantly injured, knew they were being abused, and then the somebody picked up a friend of mine, or even a total stranger - there's reasons you don't tell people 'leave him' even when oaths aren't in the picture but they don't apply to tipping off new people.
Or because you're safe, what with having the magic, or because they rationalized my hair away two centuries ago and have forgotten by now exactly what they thought when they first saw it, or because they assumed you knew, having seen my hair yourself...that's not it, though. People believe the King entitled to do as he pleases, by virtue of being the King, because that is how they were taught things work. - not even taught by Maitimo, it precedes him.
"That's... helpful but not really the... Findekáno was being kept under completely unconscionable conditions, which did involve sex. Maitimo fessed up and I have de-oathed Findekáno now and I'm thinking my way through everyone else and it would be just hilarious if I had to tell Maitimo 'I can overlook all the rape and the torture and the mind control but I can't get over the fact that everyone in your city overlooked it while you were still doing it'."
"Yeah." Sigh. "Uh, I have a list. One item on my list is actually that I'm weirded out by how you - used - the background assumptions about what being King entitles you to, about whether gay people have it coming, etcetera - you obviously have a lot of influence and you can afford to spend it towards personal projects or you wouldn't have hit on me and arranged for everyone to support the version of reality that allowed that."
"Yeah. I thought I was entitled to that, I could have changed how people felt about it and I didn't because I found it comfortable and reassuring. They thought being gay was horrible but they'd forgive it from me. Felt like - a kind of loyalty that wasn't all about the war."
"I enjoyed the fact that people would overlook my conduct. It was more reassuring the more objectionable they found it, because it was a - stronger signal that they really were unconditionally loyal to me, and I liked that they were unconditionally loyal to me. I didn't consciously encourage the prejudice - and it's gotten substantially better than it used to be - but that's part of the reason I didn't push much harder, you know, find the most competent closeted people I knew and offer to protect them in coming out and living openly - I could have done it if I'd put everything into it. I don't think it was badly spent on the things I spent it on instead, but I could have done it."
" - safety, comfort, a sense I can stop walking such a narrow line - that I can let whatever I am show and I won't lose everything for it - that's why conditional loyalty coupled with actually being a good person works, while conditional loyalty along with my willingness to play nice doesn't meet this desire at all - flexibility, the confidence that no matter what gets thrown at me I won't be scrambling to put together another coalition -"
"In order of how much they contributed... helped distract me from grief and powerlessness over whatever the latest horror in the war was, channel for feeling self-destructive, if I find someone fascinating then I will find the way they think and react under pressure particularly fascinating, and I kink on it. I can't tell you that I would never have found anything remotely appealing about hurting you, but I don't now."
" - that and having a prospect of the war ending and having to think about what I wanted my life to be like now that there was more than a ghost of a chance I could actually live it, and - when I meet someone I get a model of them, very quickly, and my model of you was just - better than me at thinking about this - and no matter how I tried to explain it I could just reason right out how unconvinced you'd be - started thinking all the time about it, trying to explain it in terms you'd understand - and they just weren't there, once you looked straight at it it was just horrible..."
"I don't know. I would have been - a lot less credible in claiming that I'd meant to tell you soon anyway. And - and the telling you is important. I was tempted to just stop and let Findekáno leave and maybe get himself deoathed down south and pretend it hadn't happened - it'd be so much easier - the only thing to gain by telling you was that it was the only decent thing to do -
- anyway. I don't know. As long as it was after Melkor died I think I'd mostly have just - explained the same - before then I would have been concerned entirely with the revelation not torpedoing the war effort -"
"Demilitarize, start pressing on various social progress things, import and translate books that you or someone else recommends as - transmitting good values. Work out a more distributed chain of command now that we can afford it. Talk with Huan about maging to scout, send aid south."
"Uh. If you're going to be around it would be a horrible waste not to give you things to do - the interworld magic-collecting, once we have that to get working on, but we don't yet and there are some candidates for the interim - I think I promised you some titles - if you are going to leave, and I know of people who have a crush on you but have chosen not to tell you yet, would you like me to tell you or wait for them to -"
"I haven't been closely corresponding with the colony. It'll probably be like, 'definitely no cooking, some healing spells in case of life- or lifelong-ability-threatening illness that Elf magic can't fix instead, killing gods is okay if it comes up, keep de-oathing to a minimum and find a way to disincentivize swearing stupid shit in order to get de-oathed and have some reliable record of who has been de-oathed'."
Maitimo doesn't push it. He transitions the army into a organization for humanitarian and infrastructure projects - "I'd say we need some standing army to deter Doriath but I actually think the Enemy being dead should suffice there -" and he ask Huan about scouting (Huan will scout if he can take Tyelcormo) and he forwards Cor some requests for divorces in case Cor wants to come up with a spell for that and he is meticulous about not pressing the kisses even though he wants Cor very badly.
"Even though I'm pretty good at understanding people, the thing I'm good at understanding is - what they want, what they're thinking, what they're looking for, and therefore I can miss or deceive myself about things like baseline happiness, especially if someone's trying to be less legible to me."
Place has humans! And weird architecture - looks like they like to build into the ground and then hollow it out around their buildings, so the cities are hardly visible aboveground except for little ports everywhere that seem to contain a mechanism of lowering the inhabitants to city-level. There are fancy floating lights everywhere. There are winged humanoids just flying around.
Yeah. Where are all the really alien aliens!
"Hello," he says. "We're - sort of tourists. Do you have a brochure?"
The guy nudges his colleague, who squints at them studiously for a minute. "Yes," he says, and hands Curufinwë a brochure he can't read. "Or do you want the Quenya one."
" - uh. I will take a Quenya one also."
...the last time period from which aliens could have abducted us without us noticing would be before we had written Quenya.
This planet, says the pamphlet after some preliminaries about the name of the species and the city, joined the multiverse when their star got eaten in an accident and the Elves put them in orbit around a new one and taught them summoning.
"Do you know who put the planet around a new sun?"
"Yeah." Helpless shrug. "I think she's princess of someplace?"
"Asgard and Jotunheim," says his colleague, consulting the internet.
"There you go, then."
"Is there a way to get in touch with her?"
"You can write the Elves and most Elf-affiliated people c/o Ambaróna open channel but I think there's hella spam filtering."
"Can you rephrase 'hella spam filtering'."
"They get lots of mail."
"Uh, we got this demon named Cam who apparently rolls out summoning in new places as a bit of a specialty, he hung out for a couple months getting - local subtleties - and then worked with our governments to get it universal and get us to ratify relevant treaties and so on. But they completely ignored us until they accidentally ate our sun, I think there's a prioritization thing going on?"
"How many worlds are there?"
"Oh, it's probably infinite. There are seven hundred something dimensions registered but some of them have thousands of inhabited planets."
"If Cor's dimension has thousands of inhabited planets they're probably all in a bit of a tight spot. Unfriendly magic system."
"Demon could check that. World about to end is the sort of thing that gets people like Cam and Loki involved."
"Okay. That's all just to make sure you're at the right level of escalation. People who are just made up of their bodies can be resurrected, so preventing anyone from dying is important but less critical. Melkor and Sauron are - bad news -"
"We noticed -"
"And also can do bad things with interworld access if we don't immediately handle them."
"This is a recurring problem?"
"Ohhhh yeah. Nine of them now. Ardas are a theme. There are variations on the theme. You're a low-tech one, I can tell by the outfit - you're not genderswapped, I can tell because it's you - uh, were your Valar super into mass mind-control."
She kind of freezes.
"The world population was about a billion before our recent horrifying war, there were millions of casualties in that and in the magical byproduct disasters. Doing my magic requires being attached to a disposal site where destruction is dumped, annihilating both matter and space; we thought it was proportional to spells done but it turns out they start growing - or shrinking, depending on how you look at it - on their own past a certain point. There are some holes in the planet and gravity has noticeably fallen."
"No. We think the Enemy is unusually subtle, too, and people who never went to Valinor plus all the ones who did end up - way more fucked up than the normal versions. Usually when we find an Arda we just give his grace's family access to everything and -"
"I don't think the Valar fucked with us enough to make us untrustworthy."
"We know it's not going to go over well. There's - somebody who specializes in mostly getting along with them anyway. If you want to make the case for doing something different I can make sure it gets forwarded to the right people - evil Maitimo's alts really hate him, it bothers them to see their - talents - appropriated to get their people to go along with appalling conduct -"
The paperwork asks what polity he is representing and in what capacity and how they got here and what their lifespans are like. The disaster/emergency relief paperwork asks about the scope of the disaster and the timeframe for aid and the kind of aid and lists possible kinds of aid in case there's something they were unaware was an option.
Capacity: interested party/volunteer interworld agent. Transit: native magic. Lifespan: eightyish? Scope: entire planet. Timeframe: months to a couple years, might suddenly accelerate beyond projections if projections are mistaken. Teleporting everybody out and giving them a planet and some starting supplies sounds good.
"I don't mind - especially if you can keep supplying us with more empty planets for magic byproducts to eat - but it might cause tension if I'm running errands for you while you're refusing my boyfriend access to lots of stuff. Another mage will be able to use my spells now that they're established if you want to avoid the conflict."
"I apologize. It would be - nice to have a solution that didn't involve handing a person with a past of questionable judgment extraordinary power, but if your assessment is that that's the most constructive thing to do we won't dismiss that out of hand - you seem to have had the cleanest war, that definitely counts for a lot -"
"We like to get them making immortality necklaces, there are never enough flat Elves for that. Aside from that - yes, we could just not. We did that with the other, uh, challenging Arda and it did not go well but with a point of contact it might be less of a concern."
"Ah. When we arrived we were concerned that Melkor and Sauron might have a deadman's switch, as they often do, and confronted them since the point of a deadman's switch is that people who look about to kill you should be told about it. But what they had instead was an interdimensional escape plan, and they fled somewhere too dangerous for us to follow. So he was displeased with us. Also other Findekános approved removing that one from the situation, which Midnight complains about as 'kidnapping'. Then we left them alone and Midnight resented every civilian death that our resources could have prevented and was eventually approached by evil aliens who thought he might be a useful ally in destroying us."
"If you ever feel like it'd be a good idea to take a bit of a break, or get some distance, from your boyfriend, there are organizations here that can arrange anything you might need, and it wouldn't get our attention or become relevant to dimensional politics or anything unless you wanted that."
"Uh, this interdimensional organization... which doesn't like yous from this... varietal of Arda. Apparently the Valar being into mind control is rare, there's one other like here and they don't get along with that Maitimo. So instead of whatever fast-track arrangement they might have for common types you're getting standard preindustrial monarch treatment. But also an immortality necklace instruction set, they have that."
"They said they badly mishandled it, there was a story about how some evil aliens stole some magic from them and then tried to ally with him against them and he betrayed the evil aliens and took the magic but they didn't follow up with 'and that's why we're friends now!' so I assume things are still vaguely awkward."
"Sounds like they're busy and won't mind if we find some worlds ourselves. Once we've done what we can to help with resettlement, at least. And if it's convenient for them to insist preindustrial kings collect all the magic themselves and demonstrate being responsible with it - fine."
"I was mostly just curious - it's sort of disconcerting to meet an interdimensional organization which will be happy to find my people a new planet and seems to largely have their shit together but can't, uh, work with you - they do seem interested in not repeating their mistakes -"
My magic is purely destructive. Fire, death, annihilation, that sort of thing. Good for curing infections and I can de-oath people and I killed our Melkor and Sauron with it. Doing it requires being connected to a disappearance point, which destroys matter and also space around it. The disappearance points got faster unexpectedly and my planet has a few puncture holes now, which is why as a last-ditch I tried a spell to slightly destroy the barriers between worlds on the hypothesis there might be such a thing. Landed in my Arda.
Set of alts. Like Maitimos except with more variety in origin stories. And - less variety in inclination towards unhealthy coping mechanisms, though the standard-timeline ones do commit kind of a lot of murder. I don't get the notes, I don't know all the Bell identifying traits - Cam is a Bell, Loki is a Bell, Tireh is a Bell but we're sort of playing I-don't-know-if-you-know-if-I-know...
This is a pamphlet from Cube, where Isabella Marie Swan (Butterfly) is loosely running a planet having freed it of evil aliens with the help of a guerrilla team of good aliens, made fast friends with the local Maitimo and when he got arrested kept the local Curufinwë company in his efforts to end death, which he has now done. This is from Edda, where Loki touched the Tesseract, got sorcery, landed on her Arda, dueled Sauron, taught Elves modern technology, tried and failed to kill Melkor with that, and developed interdimensional transit so she could go get the Tesseract again and rip him to shreds. This is from Elendil, in Warp, where Boots landed on an Arda, hacked her magic system to fix up the Arda, offended the Valar in the doing, and eventually fled for an Earth where T'Mir was a political prisoner, having saved several billion lives by smuggling their worlds the warp equations that would qualify them for galactic membership. This is Gem, empress of Mîr having saved her world and its adjacent Arda...
In his world babies just appear. In a past life he invented storks to go scoop 'em up. In this life (and before he'd realized the dreams of a past life were that) he landed by magical accident on his Arda, ended up dating the local Maitimo and Findekáno, dreamed back his husband from his first life and went to go find him and got approval not to drop the boyfriends, found out Melkor was smuggling servantmakers and got captured in the war against him and recovered and now governs federated Stork with his husband.
"Elves coordinated by Maitimos run Vanda Nossëo. Bells run Mîr and Elendil. Those are the three major multiverse organizations and while they collaborate closely and personnel float between them without explicit trade arrangements there are none of you formally involved in the organization of Mîr and only one of you in a liaison role in Elendil."