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  #76  
Old 07-11-2018, 04:41 AM
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Lulie shook her head at Trix's comment of how happy a Lulie hug would make her. The warlock didn't even understand why - the two had a little friction already, and it wasn't like Lulie was some long-lost friend. Others had told her no as well, so it wasn't simply that Lulie turned her down. So what was with the focus on her? ...Well, no matter. The woman considered after Trix's question about the school.

"Yes, I do suppose it would help if you knew what the actual reach and power of a council member was... Alright, so generally a council member handles matters in their own district. For example, anyone who wants to open a business in East Highcliff generally has to go through Lady Mashiro. She decides whether she wants a given business and property to belong to the person applying. Similarly, she can decide what she doesn't want in her district, and remove it. If I owned my own house in East Highcliff, she could basically evict me unless I was also a business owner - which would make me one of her constituents. I might not be absolutely vital to her operation of East Highcliff, but it would set other business owners on edge if their district representative set a precedent of just taking away your jobs whenever she felt like it. Luckily, I rent to Mr. Martenussen, so she can't just kick me out without the same sort of 'she takes your business' idea spreading through the district."

"All hail gnomish landlords," Deya raised her - where did she get a beer from? - and took a gulp.

Meanwhile, Lulie continued.

"If someone else - usually another council member - wanted to put something into East Highcliff or take it out, and Mashiro objected, it would go to a council vote. There, the council would decide what was the most benefit to Cliffside. And by 'benefit' we're usually talking about 'commercial benefit.' What would get us the most money or be better for our economy? If I already owned a school in East Highcliff and Simonar wanted to move the business to Dragoncliff, Mashiro might oppose that and the council would vote on whether it's better for our people and economy if I were to relocate. Of course, with alliances, there's always the chance that rather than vote on the commercial benefits of the enterprise, Simonar just calls in a favor or promises to vote on something else in the future. Then he gets, say, Galligi and Heyes to vote with him, and boom, the business is officially ordered moved."

Deya chimed in at this point.

"Needless to say, if Heyes says 'hey Simonar, wanna open a school in your district for this kick-ass lady that did you a solid' and Simonar just says 'sure,' then the deal is done."

Lulie nodded.

"The strangeness comes in here - although Simonar might have been able to get me a certain amount of space, he'd have to go through the council to get me so much space. See, he's reserved all that space for me and nobody else can open a business in that location now, and I don't need to pay rent or turn a profit from it yet. Despite this, he's also secured me ten thousand gold pieces in funding 'from the council.' It's only possible if he was already planning to open up a school or library in his area and Heyes just talked him into letting me be the head. ... "

Lulie had reasoned that out herself yesterday at some point, but she didn't really register it because she was still super giddy about getting a school. Simonar spoke like he'd planned for Lulie to be the head the entire time, but that might just have been because he wanted her to feel good for helping him. The only other answer would be that the Player Lulie had spoken to and mentioned the task the Aedi had given to her to figured she'd do something like she did and wanted a deflection ready. Honestly, if Lulie had known he was going to do that she still probably would have done everything exactly the same way. Because now she had a school. So... suck it, Game.

Oh, hey, Trix was asking about Galligi.

"I don't know very much about Galligi. His relationship with Heyes is a lot like mine with Deya - he seems content to make his opinion heard, but sit back and let Heyes handle the public relations part of their alliance. His political statements are well-reasoned and understandable, and he seems to generally act in the best interest of Cliffside. That said, he plays his actual emotions and intentions close to the heart. He didn't react one way or the other yesterday when a vote went his way or the council declared it would do a census and possibly take a vote away. I did hear that he was having issues with Heyes despite their partnership, however, and if he's as coldly logical as he seems then he'd be one of the most susceptible to the shifting climate of Cliffside's political landscape. If I don't win the election then power is going to shift out of Heyes' hands. And if it does, Galligi has less reason to stay with him than, say, Feles. But then if power shifts back into Heyes' hands, he's burned himself as a partner. If Heyes accepted him back after that it would be at a substantial reduction in Galligi's standing in their partnership. 'You screwed me so you're going to make it up to me before we're equals again,' kind of thing. And... Heyes doesn't really seem like the kind of person to think that calmly to begin with, so it would probably be closer to 'tieflings versus Aedi versus discardan' in Cliffside. ...Oh, as a side note, I teach Galligi's daughter - Wrath - magic."

Lulie shrugged.

"The part about shifting loyalties is conjecture. As far as I know he hasn't done anything like that in the past - it's just something I think he seems like the type to do. If nothing else, all of the projects Heyes is involved in are also linked to Galligi - so you know he's got a good head on his shoulders regarding what Cliffside needs."

Lulie considered for a moment what she knew of Galligi's allies, if anything. She herself had only started learning this stuff recently... Deya snapped her fingers and slammed a fist into her open palm.

"Actually, y'know what? Didn't Simonar, Galligi, and Heyes go in together on that thing back in Primrose?" Lulie blinked. Deya continued at the warlock's clueless expression. "That was back when I was still just a dockworker doin' odd jobs, and I remember some people were having conniptions 'cause Simonar went with the other two on a string o' votes for a few meetings. That was seven votes between the three of them, so people were callin' 'em the 'Ruling Trio' for a bit. Lotsa grumbling from the Aedi workers, lemme tell you - Dragonfolk, Discardan, and Tieflings were running Cliffside. That was back in... I said Primrose, but it might have even been Nocturne. It was at least a few months back. They calmed down when Simo went against them on a few issues, and it was shown it wasn't like a true 'bromance' alliance like with Galli-Hey."

Lulie shrugged.

"If you say. I don't remember that since I was still focused on study and students then, so I didn't really have time for politics. Still, that means they've been close for longer than I thought..." She frowned. Well, if Galligi was already in a sort-of partnership with Simonar, it certainly narrowed down his list of likely team-ups if Heyes flopped. "Still, I don't know nearly as much about the others as I do about those three. I know Aerenwyn has regularly opposed Galligi, and is occasionally closer to Beyit. She and Feles have supported each other every now and then as well. That last council meeting made Beyit seem much more connected to Lillyucka than he used to be. It hasn't been a regular thing for the Yuan-ti numbers to be as high as they are, lately... Well, anyway, as you could guess from what I said earlier, he sides more often with Feles and Aerenwyn. Raph, as I mentioned the other day, usually just skips meetings. Not all the time, of course, but a lot."

"That's probably 'cause he doesn't like the council policies," the changeling added. "That hot air he was blowin' at the last meeting? I think that's a regular thing for him. But since he protests the council by blowing them off - at least, that's what I think he's doin' - his district doesn't get much representation."

Lulie's eyes lit up in understanding.

"Oh! That's why the ratfolk were protesting outside his... uhh, middle of the street somewhere."

Deya made a scrunchy face, giving Lulie the same "sorta" hand gesture that she gave Lyra in their last lunch meeting.

"I mean, partly? Maybe? It was definitely not helped by the fact that Raph didn't speak up publicly against the alliance with the Aedi. Didja see the little bastards when we kidnapped Hardt? They're still pretty sore about that whole 'the Aedi enslaved our race regularly' thing. The 'Butcher' being free in Rat Town didn't help things. It's a bunch of different instances o' the same problem - Raph's inaction is really hurting them. But next up - what about Mashiro?"

Lulie considered.

"I'm not sure..."

Deya flicked a peanut at Lulie (where did she get that now?) and made a "gimmie" gesture with her other hand.

"She's our home-turf gal, Lulie. Doesn't she like... give you your tutoring license or something? You have to know at least a little bit."

Lulie wracked her brain trying to remember anything about their interactions together. ...Right. Riiight. Lulie vaguely remembered overhearing a conversation when she'd been in the office to ask about Wrath taking lessons from her.

"Well, come to think of it, the last I remember hearing about it - which is months ago, keep in mind - Mashiro seemed to back Galligi pretty often. It was kind of glossed over since Heyes and Galligi had an alliance so whatever Galligi was saying, Heyes was saying, and whatever Heyes was saying, Mashiro was saying unless it was a special vote. And even then, she still ended up saying what he was saying due to the fact that what he was saying was what Galligi was saying. At least I think that's what she was saying..."

Lulie frowned for a moment as she ran that occasion through her mind again.

"What?"

It was a simple question from the changeling, seeming a bit lost on Lulie's last reply. This actually made Lulie feel pretty good, since it wasn't often she stumped Deya during a non-magical explanation.

"She used to support Galligi, but that's changed sometime in the last few months," Lulie clarified. She picked up her lemonade again, turning to Trix. "That's what I can tell you about the council themselves, but obviously there are 'moving parts' besides the council. The Warden, Tas, the high priestesses... stuff like that. Should I explain them or do you have questions about the council members first?"

Time for a sip.
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  #77  
Old 07-11-2018, 03:29 PM
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Trix nodded along and kept sketching and writing on her paper. Even when she wasn't necessarily watching Lulie and Deya speak, it was obvious that she was still listening intently. She held any questions until Lulie was done, then looked down at her paper and frowned. "The whole thing frustrates me, because so many people act like everything is a zero-sum game. Like I said yesterday about the fruit tree analogy, if there's just one fruit tree, then it is a zero sum game. If I take all the fruit, there's none left for you, so we end up fighting over the fruit. But there's not just one fruit tree, and even if there is currently just one, if we work together, we can plant and cultivate more, so we can both end up having more fruit than either one of us could possibly have by fighting over the one tree. It's dumb to fight like that among ourselves in the city, and it's dumb to fight like that among ourselves in the archipelago. We need to get people to focus on planting more trees more than fighting over the ones that are currently producing fruit. That's something I don't like about by-district representation, it fosters a sort of tribalism. I mean, every system has pros and cons, but... ugh, this isn't even the point."

She drew a couple more lines, these ones dotted, connecting likely or potential relationships. "That was all very helpful actually, thank you. I think that's enough about the council members for now. I need to meet with each of the members in the future anyway, both in regards to the school, and assuming Lady Mashiro wins the election, as a representative of the gnomes. Screw Tas, I'll be our voice in the city, and I'm going to break down barriers. As soon as the election is over, I'm going to go to each council member and ask for recommendations for possible instructors for the school. I know you don't want diversity for diversity's sake, and neither do I, but I would prefer for the school to be seen as a unifying establishment as much as possible, rather than potentially being seen as a 'gnome school' or a 'human school' or anything else that could perpetuate resentment and tribalism. There's an argument to be made for taking the best of the best, and screw the consequences, just like there's an argument for taking a perfect representation of the people for its own sake, and screw the consequences. In this, I think the best answer lies somewhere between the two. Take the ratfolk for instance, you say they're worried about being enslaved, they don't trust the authorities, and they feel they aren't being represented by Raph. How might that change if they had someone in an important position at the best magical school in the world, and many of their own kind making names for themselves by studying there?"
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  #78  
Old 07-12-2018, 01:57 AM
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Deya was the first to reply to Trix's "fruit tree" explanation.

"Yes! This is good, okay, right. I was gonna ask you this yesterday but we kinda moved past it quickly and I forgot. You gotta be thinkin' of the 'Tree' as a different thing than I am, 'cause I don't understand the metaphor. The way I was lookin' at it, the 'Tree' people are fighting over is Cliffside. Now, I get 'sharing' the tree, 'cause it just means we all play nice and get along. But then you start talking about 'planting new trees,' and that's where ya lose me. Are you saying we make more islands for people to govern? Or like... I just really can't follow what the tree is representing there, or how we 'plant more.' How's it different from sharing the first one and getting along?" After a moment, Deya tilted her head a bit, her expression making a show of being sad and lost that she can't follow along easily. "And what's a 'zero sum game?'"

Lulie nodded in approval at Trix.

"A zero sum game is a term used in game theory, which is something I myself use to make a lot of decisions. In a zero sum game, there is no prize except what you can take from your opponent. Poker for example - you don't win anything unless your opponent loses the money they put in. Trix is saying that in the archipelago, everyone looks at it like nobody can win unless someone else loses. That concept in particular is something I've been fighting for weeks now, since everyone is very content to play against each other and view it as 'us versus them.' Sharing the resources on the Fingers, for example. The ship contract situation where we lost Ashe and an alliance, or damaged our ship quality. And right now I'm working on a way to get back the Aedi's money in a way that still allows the Height's elves to continue opening businesses - but I can't do that unless I win the election. ...And despite all that, there was still some loss since Bridge City got the jobs that Fish Town lost."

Deya nodded, understanding a bit more.

"Alright, 'zero sum game,' then. That sounds right. That's not just an archipelago thing, though; the whole world is 'zero sum.' I was a thief for a bit, so I know that pretty well. We didn't get anything unless we took it from somebody else. Like, even your 'oh we shared the Fingers' stuff so nobody lost' is still a loss since whatever percentage of stuff we're getting from that island is stuff Silkweave isn't getting. And that's defs unavoidable when it comes to council stuff, since the whole point of a council meeting is making decisions and settling disputes. That's not really the kind of place where you can just be like 'guys, let's be super even-handed here - nobody has to win, really.' Now I really want to know what the trees are s'posed to be. Also," she seemed a little blank again. "What's 'game theory' now?"

Lulie looked to Trix, offering to let her field this one. OH SNAP, Lulie passing a chance to explain to someone else? Maybe she's warming up to Trix after all. Onto the other matters after that explanation, though...

"...Hmm... You as the gnome's representative?" Lulie considered that idea. "As far as I know, the main thing Tas was supposed to do was make sure the Kairos kept arriving on time without issues. However, he did speak at the council meeting too, and from what you tell me I think you would be a better representative. Tas is like most other race representatives in that he basically just says 'gnomes should be the best all the time' instead of considering what would be actually good for Cliffside. Which leads into the matter of the school's racial makeup as well. I would expect the school to be comprised mostly of the races most abundant around it, and those that can fly so they can skip the stairs. The council will probably just offer us a roster of teachers from their own races. You have to understand: each person who has a say in this city promotes their own race as if they were so superior to the others that we could load ships with nothing but that race and Rowlandson will lose. I understand that if we have a Ratfolk teacher, more Ratfolk will want to attend the school because they'll feel better, safer, like that. But unless that teacher is good, we're just accepting a bunch of students who aren't going to learn as much as they would if we hired a better teacher. And, as I've said repeatedly, the archipelago is very 'us or them.' We might lose better students because they don't want to share a class space with a group of Ratfolk."

Lulie frowned, leaning back and crossing her arms.

"This school exists partially so that we can eliminate thinking like that, but we can't do that if they don't show up first. We need to establish a reputation in the beginning that we're a credible school with worthwhile teachers. Once people arrive, we can work on opening minds. Maybe a few weeks or months down the line, we can shift to having more inclusive teachers and more of a focus on getting more of a mixing pot thing going on. But we can't be doing that from the word 'go' or it'll damage the public's view of us." Lulie frowned, considering how to word her intentions better. Given the whole talk they'd had prior to the school, Lulie felt stupid for not thinking of it sooner. "What I'm saying is that everything about this situation is political. Who opened Third Light for me, where they opened it, why they opened it... The last thing I want, the very last thing, is for this school to come off like a political statement. I want people to come here because they want to learn, because we have the best teachers, and because my method of teaching offers something they can't get anywhere else. I'm aware of what our needs and intentions are, but I don't want people to consider Third Light and dismiss it as some kind of gimmick or stunt and think we're motivated entirely by driving the point home to students that we can all get along. That's not the face we should present when we open up. We need to seem absolutely serious about teaching magic as our main goal so that people arrive untainted by the idea that we're going to shovel racial unity into them at every opportunity."

Deya, not involved in Third Light's operation itself, raised an eyebrow.

"You gonna ban Ratfolk teachers then? 'Cause you just said earlier that you don't wanna lose good students due to having them hang out with what they consider to be filthy rats. Which sounds pretty racist to me."

Lulie shook her head.

"No! The idea isn't 'ban ratfolk,' the idea is 'don't hire bad teachers.' I don't think many Ratfolk would attend Third Light anyway since it's in the middle of the Dragonfolk part of Cliffside and they're currently having something of a feud. But if we find a good ratfolk teacher, we hire him. If students don't want to attend his classes because of his race despite what he has to offer knowledge-wise, then they obviously didn't have very strong reasons to learn magic in the first place. But he has to be a worthwhile wizardry teacher so that it doesn't look like we put him there specifically to get Ratfolk representation. As long as students can understand why he's there, they're less likely to think Third Light is bullsh!t and leave. And as long as they stay, we can work on opening their minds."

Lulie's frown deepened, and she took another gulp of her lemonade. Talking so much must get her throat dry. She knew Trix was saying she didn't want to go whole-hog on the diversity, but Lulie needed to stress that having any apparent ulterior motives in their setup would hurt them.
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Old 07-12-2018, 03:05 AM
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"The tree represents resources. Wealth. It's easiest to think of it as a literal tree at first to grasp the concept. Let's say there is only one tree that grows enough food for ten people a day, and there are twenty people. They group themselves up into two groups of ten, because that's all they have food for. They fight over the tree, and fifteen people die. Ten from one side and five from another. Now there are five people with enough food for ten people. Not a very good solution. The other option is for all twenty people to work together, harvest the fruit from the tree, and plant the seeds. Work together to cultivate the new trees. Eventually, you have twenty people, but let's say ten trees, and enough food for a hundred people. Nobody had to die, and now each person has five times as much food as they need, where in the first situation the five survivors each only had twice as much food as they need. Also, imagine if in the first scenario, the tree caught fire during the fighting, and now there was no food for any survivors."

She paused for a moment, since this was an important factor of zero-sum thinking. "That's the worst dirty secret about this kind of thinking. Fighting over resources as if the only way to win is to make the other person lose poses a very real risk of hurting everybody, including the 'winners'. Now, extrapolate that to any resource. Should we fight to the death over a mine, or should we work together to harvest its resources and explore for new veins? Should we fight to the death over who gets selected for the school, or work together to teach more people who can eventually teach more people? Of course, some things are more complicated than that. Depending on the subject, it can take a very long time to cultivate new 'trees'. But in the end, wealth comes from work. If people are working to grow food, harvest lumber, mine ores, refine materials, and make nice things, then we end up with a certain level of wealth. Fighting, however, doesn't generate wealth. At worst, it destroys it. Let's say we fight another island and lose 50 men and two ships. How many hours of work went into making those ships, feeding and equipping those men? All those hours ended up being wasted, not to mention the lives. Someone's life work could end up at the bottom of the sea or gone up in flames, and there's nothing to show for it. Don't get me wrong, sometimes fighting is necessary, but it's never the best answer. The world operates in many ways as a zero-sum game, but it doesn't have to."

She took a moment to have some more yogurt and see if Deya was following. "Lulie might be better equipped to explain game theory. What I've said is part of it, but it's not something I was taught or have studied, it's just something that I've realized over time."

When Lulie expressed her concerns about the quality of teachers, Trix nodded. "I agree, I won't allow the standards of education to dip for diversity's sake. I wouldn't accept a teacher who was bad just because they were one race, but I think we should make the effort." Lulie expanded on her thoughts, and the honestly seemed to be a bit contradictory to Trix. "I might be misunderstanding you a bit... You talk about image, I think it would be bad if we were seen as avoiding certain parts of the city in our search for instructors. Your concern about missing out on students might be valid, but maybe we should just say screw them. If they're that closed-minded, do you think we'll be able to get through to them? Do you want to risk having graduates who hold and share those views? 'Oh yeah, the Third Light was great, I learned so much and never even had to interact with those dirty whoevers.'" The gnome visibly shuddered at that. "I know this is more political and you're more experienced in that, and I meant what I've said about giving you the final decisions, but you seemed to contradict yourself. You said we might lose students that don't want to interact with ratfolk, but then you said if students don't want to attend a class because of racial issues, then they don't have a strong enough desire to learn magic in the first place. Am I missing something?"
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Old 07-12-2018, 06:17 AM
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Deya narrowed her eyes and made some faces as she listened to Trix's explanation. A few moments after Trix's explanation, Deya shook her head.

"But that doesn't make sense... They wouldn't survive like that. I'm bad at words, so, Lulie: do the explanation."

The warlock shrugged. She was pretty sure Deya got it, but was too lazy to explain. Well, whatever.

"Alright... I mean... let's look at the literal one. The tree feeds ten people 'per day,' and there's twenty people, right? Wouldn't those people die before a new tree could grow? From what you said, the problem is that only ten people can eat each day. With that kind of set-up, reducing numbers would be required for survival, since any other attempt at 'working together' would just mean starving slower. And nothing stops those five people who remain from planting the new trees as well, so they'd end up with twenty times what they need and not need to share it with people they hated since only people on their side are left."

Deya interrupted here.

"I think you're gettin' a bit too literal, Lulu. The idea was that we can prosper without needin' to hurt each other."

Lulie shrugged.

"That's a beautiful and romantic idea, and I'd love it if it were true, but it's not always the case. Trix glossed over it, but the time it takes to 'grow the tree' isn't invisible. It's not like it happens instantly, and it can't 'produce wealth' until the new tree is ready. It takes time to do those things, and it's time the people in the literal example don't have. Look, we can use Trix's example with the mine. I can even use real-world trees we were involved with. Say the 'tree' we're talking about is the Iron Wood on the Fingers. And the iron mine. The groups are Cliffside and Verve, with Rowlandson representing death by hunger. Cliffside needs that Iron and Iron Wood to build their ships. We need a fleet ready for when Rowlandson attacks. Silkweave wants it for much the same reason, I assume, since they don't have a steady supply of iron due to their issues with the Shadow Isles - that's where the only other large iron deposit is," Lulie explained as an aside to Trix. "We don't have the time to go looking for other iron deposits; things are tight enough just transporting what we have and making the ships. Right now, we're splitting the resources on the Fingers. But that's an issue because it slows ship production. We might have some reserves on Cliffside, since we can still order wood and iron from other islands, but we're eventually going to run out in the middle of production. Then people are out of work again while ship construction is on hold, people get mad, and at the end of the day we may not even have all the ships we wanted when Rowlandson attacks. And that brings up a whole other issue as well: in both the original and the real world premise, once it becomes clearer and clearer that we're not getting what we need, the temptation to attack grows."

Lulie nodded to herself.

"A course isn't always set in stone when you decide on it. Maybe we work together for the tree's fruit, realize it won't work, then decide to fight to increase our personal odds of survival. Maybe we agreed to fight in the beginning and then stopped as soon as there were ten people and the tree can support us. But the point is that in either case, agreeing to work together means we may not survive. The only difference is that in the real world equivalent, our odds of survival being lowered by slower ship production is outweighed by the extra fighting power we'll have if we don't fight with the Aedi." The warlock considered for a moment. "Also, the real-world time issue becomes worse if we hadn't taken the land from the Keshkari and instead negotiated for it. It would be even more time - that we don't have - wasted."

Deya shrugged - big shrug.

"My take on it was way less technical. I was jus' gonna say that if people were gonna die anyway, you may as well fight so that if you survive at least you earned yer spot. Noticed you didn't say anything about the tree gettin' destroyed in the fighting, though."

Lulie frowned. There wasn't any point in addressing that issue if the point was that they'd die for sure if they didn't fight for the tree. The tree might get destroyed if they were stupid enough to fight near it, but that was its own brand of ensuring only those who deserved it survived. She nodded in agreement at Trix's comments about the fighting though.

"I agree with you - if we fight over the mine, the total loss in man power and ships outweighs the benefit an individual island would get from owning the whole mine. In that instance, it's better to deal with just having fewer ships constructed at the end of the day."

Deya interrupted again.

"That's not gonna be a very persuasive argument to most people, just so ya know. You're pretty much jus' saying that in any event, we're going to be down a few ships. Either from fightin' or from bein' slow. Most people don't think like you two - if they're gonna be down some ships anyway, they'd rather go fight for it with the idea that even if they lose some ships, they can make it up with the extra iron from havin' the whole mine. And they'll get to kill some Aedi and take stuff from them, and they don't care the Aedi are down ships as long as they lose more. Both of you are doin' some fu*kin' impressive underestimating when it comes to how strong hate flows between some people. Hell, even I know some people who would answer this whole conversation with 'yea but fu*k those guys.' Sayin' 'we don't have to fight' does nothing to redirect the hate already in place. You need to figure out what you're going to do about that, because hoping everyone listens to rational arguments is gonna end very badly. And no," Deya shot a glance at Lulie, "'but muh Rowlandson' isn't enough."

The warlock didn't have much of a plan for that right now. She really was mostly relying on people to be, if not perfectly rational, then at least still looking out for their own interests. She'd be blindsided if, say, she offered someone medicine they needed to cure themselves or a dying family member or something in exchange for not attacking some Aedi, and they chose to attack the Aedi over the medicine. The majority of people didn't have hate that strong, but some people did. Luckily, most people in power got that way because they realized when backing off was appropriate. Then Trix passed on the game theory explanation. Lulie nodded happily.

"So how does 'game theory' translate to something that saves the world?"

"Well," Lulie began, "the name could be misleading if you don't know what it is already I guess. Simply put, game theory is the study of how intelligent and rational people resolve conflicts using probability and statistics. It's called 'game theory' because it started with zero sum games and expanded to other decision-making processes. When we went to negotiate with the Aedi, for example, we originally went there to ask for the mine back. Since I went with Irmgard, whom the Aedi and Mistress Tanylld in particular more strongly valued the opinion of, the probability that we could convince them to return the mine was low, but decent. In the actual conversation, however, Irmgard screwed me three ways from yesterday by basically getting socially bullied into saying things that supported the Aedi's claim more. At that point there were plenty of things I could have done, but chances of recovering the mine when my main tool to do so had turned on me were so low that it was smarter to 'fail efficiently' than to try and find some alternate route or doubling down on the ideas I'd had going in. It required a lot of quick decisions and guesses based on what a rational opponent like the Aedi wanted out of that situation, and what they would deem acceptable prices to pay for it. It's something I wouldn't have thought of or been confident doing if I didn't have game theory to help me understand the layout of the board and my best chances for a partial win. Without it, I was just a woman in over my head with no plan who'd just been told she failed."

"Was 'Game Theory' involved in you solvin' the murder and heist while you were there, too? 'Cause the way you use it definitely sounds more interesting than what it is itself."

Lulie nodded.

"Sort of. My decision to do those things as opposed to other choices that could have gotten us what we wanted there was based on what options had the most chance for both the Aedi and us to benefit without incurring penalties that overwhelmed the win. One option was starting a riot which would have accomplished my goal for the allied Aedi, but it would have incurred a penalty to me of possibly losing my window to secure a peace."

Deya nodded, tilted her head slyly, snapped her fingers, and then pointed them at Lulie.

"So 'Game Theory' is less like some sick-ass mental super power and basically a fancy word for 'common sense.' Do things that are good, don't do things that are bad. It's only special if it's solvin' problems with unintuitive answers, and answers are only unintuitive if you're not actually thinking clearly. I fully comprehend this concept now, yes."

Deya pumped her arm in victory; Lulie just shook her head and sighed. Then Trix asked for Lulie to clarify the contradiction in her school statements.

"Yes, you missed a part. The distinction between the two is that if we hire a Ratfolk professor just to draw more Ratfolk students in regardless of the teacher's merit, then the school seems less like a place of learning and more like we're trying to make a point to the public. But the second statement is that if there happens to be a Ratfolk wizard who is a good professor that just happens to be a Ratfolk, then people may not like it but they have a better chance of staying since it's obvious we still value actually teaching magic." Lulie considered for another moment, then rephrased. "It's not about race, it's about being taken seriously as a teaching institution. If they think we hired a bad teacher to promote racial unity, they could take Third Light to be a political stunt or statement that they don't want to be a part of. If they see we hired a good teacher despite his race, then they know our primary intention is teaching and can stay despite having one teacher they dislike."

Deya was chewing on some more peanuts about this time, and decided to raise a point.

"Ya, but, if yer sayin' that hiring a Ratfolk teacher may make some students decide to opt out, then how are they gonna know that you hired a 'good' Ratfolk teacher instead of a 'bad' one?" Lulie frowned at Deya, but the changeling continued. "I'm not quite sure what 'making the effort but not sacrificing teacher quality' would look like, but I'm guessin' she means if there's two equally-qualified wizards signin' up, pick the one without racial representation. If your teacher's racial makeup decides the student makeup and you say you wanna get the most students, does that mean you're going to skip over good teachers like a Ratfolk teacher to get more dragonfolk or Aedi students? I mean, the point is that you wanna get the most serious students drawn by good teachers, so how are you gonna get the Aedi students to tell the difference between a quality hire and a diversity hire if the race of a teacher determines who even shows up at the start?"

"..."

Lulie's frown deepened, and she fell into heavy consideration for a moment...
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Trix sighed. "Understand that this is an extremely simplified analogy. Let's say the tree is magical and everybody could live on half rations long enough to cultivate a second tree. Reality is more complicated, but if you don't grasp the underlying concept at its most simple, you'll never really understand it in its more complex forms. I already admitted that reality is more complicated, and some new 'trees' take a very long time to cultivate. It's just a matter of laying the foundation before building on it. I'll admit the analogy wasn't perfect, and I apologize for that though. I just picked the first numbers that came to mind. The reality is that there are lots of trees, and mostly it's not a matter of kill-or-starve, I was just trying to get the basic point across. There's also the problem of the groups hating each other because of their viewpoint that they have to fight over available resources. Do we want to foster thinking that breeds unnecessary hatred? I don't."

She listened to Lulie laying out some of the current problems they were facing. "Yeah, things are complicated, and we have a time crunch. I'm not saying we could switch everyone's thinking overnight and solve all our problems right away. But let's go back in time a little bit, before the recent conflict at the mine. I don't know all the details, but people died, right? All these resources used to fight over one tree. Well, let me ask you this, what if we put some of those resources toward, say, having a certain super-awesome magical gnome develop a spell to locate iron deposits? What if we found out there was more than enough iron for everyone? I'm not saying that's definitely the case, but it very well could be, but it's not even considered as an option because everyone is too busy looking at the tree they can see and fighting over it, instead of thinking ahead. Fighting over a limited amount of ironwood? What about increasing the amount of ironwood instead?"

The gnome sighed again. "I'm sorry for not being more clear. Like I said, in reality this is all very complicated, and not an instant solution to every current problem. Sometimes things truly are zero-sum, but the view that everything is zero-sum is harmful to everybody. I didn't bring this up as a solution to our current problems, it's much more of a long-term thing where, like Lulie wants, we need to teach people to think more rationally, and that there is a better way of thinking about resources. Dealing with the hate Deya mentions makes it even more difficult and long-term. That's another reason why I would love to find some like-minded individuals both as teachers and students for the school, across the races. People in a tribal mindset are more likely to listen to these ideas if they come from someone within their own tribe."

When Lulie explained what Trix had seen as a contradiction, a light-bulb seemed to go off in her head. "Oh, I guess we've somewhat been talking past each other here. We kind of word the same things in different ways. I agree with you one-hundred percent, there's no way we're hiring someone for diversity and regardless of their merit. I just thought you were saying there was a difference between students who didn't want to be around ratfolk students, and students who didn't want to be around a ratfolk teacher. Sorry for not making that more clear."

Deya's questions on the subject were good ones. "Well, it's impossible to completely control public opinion, but if people want to question our faculty, we'll just have to show how amazing they are. We can do that by showing how well the students learn, or in some cases, simply by a showcase of prowess. Say someone claimed I wasn't qualified, well I could demonstrate my special brand of counter-spelling that directly manipulates the strands, and any wizard or sorcerer would be able to tell you that they wouldn't be able to do it that way. Or I could just summon an ice blizzard that could probably incapacitate half the vests in a matter of seconds. As for your other question, how I would probably handle it if it had just been my school would be to publicly announce that I'm running a school for magic, and that magic is all that matters. I'm bringing on the best teachers, regardless of age, gender, race, or any other consideration. If any of that bothers you as a potential student, then you don't have the right attitude toward magic, and you're only hurting yourself. Or something like that. That's why we have Lulie though, to keep me from doing stupid things," she added with a giggle. "But I really don't think that's a bad thing. I think there are enough people that we can find qualified teachers from any race, and students who are willing to put aside their differences to learn from the best of the best. Once the first students start showing the amazing progress they're going to show, then the results will speak for themselves."
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Lulie frowned as Trix amended her analogy.

"Well, I mean... I get that your amended analogy gets your point across better, but the original version was closer to reality. You brought it up in the first place to explain your feelings on how the council handles their decisions, so... the task you're faced with is basically that you need to explain what the 'working together' version of a conflict-inspiring decision they made is. The council already has a thought process that operates on hate at times, so you need to be the one who instills the change you want. You have to provide the answers and direction when you say 'there's another way.'"

Lulie's tone sounded somewhat odd on those last few sentences. Lulie was usually serious, so it wouldn't be accurate to say she was speaking seriously now - that would imply she didn't before. Still, it felt more "firm" than her other statements. When Trix spoke of the mine and people dying, Lulie figured she should explain that situation. It was relevant to current politics regarding Verve Island anyway.

"That's right; let me explain those events because they're important politically. Earlier this month, the expedition for the Mine and Mill on the Fingers was set up - I don't know if those resources were just found this month since I just started paying attention the day before the expedition left, more or less. Cliffside's expedition arrived on the Fingers and set up their operations, doing this without the native Keshkari lizardfolk tribe's consent. The Keshkari kobolds killed almost all of the workers at the mine, but the Commodore holds the mill. Muza, who was a survivor of the mine, sails back to Cliffside to seek reinforcements. The belief at that time was that the Aedi organized and partook in the slaughter, so the simple idea was to just take the mine back. Meanwhile, my apprentice stated her desire to make peace because she had bonded with the Aedi during a hard time in her life. The retaking of the mine happened while we were negotiating, but we managed to come to terms anyway. The Aedi claimed to have made a deal with the Keshkari lizardfolk - the Aedi own the land that the mine and mill is on. They must not care much about that deal, though, because they agreed to let us kill the kobolds in retaliation for the original massacre so they didn't need to pay."

Well, she said "let," but the truth was that the kobolds were already being killed by the reinforcements team. Lulie throwing that in as part of their deal was a bit of "sleight of hand," really. Nothing she said would have stopped that.

"The deal is this: the Cliffside workers - primarily composed of the refugees from the Heights that Heyes was responsible for - continue to work at the Aedi-owned mine. Cliffside pays for the rights to work the mine, and can pay off a portion of the cost by using the resources they mine instead of money. This is so that the cost to Cliffside is lessened and the Aedi still get some of the iron they need. Currently Cliffside still holds the mill, and the Aedi are leaving that situation as it is until Cliffside can decide on a formal response to the claim that the Aedi own it as well. It was decent for a deal I came up with on the spot."

Deya snorted, doing a "get a load of this" gesture at Lulie while looking at Trix.

"'Decent' she says. She's suddenly modest. This girl was going on and on about how awesome her brain was that she came up with such a good set of terms on the spot. Drinks and partying at the docks before we left was mostly Lulie trying to get other people to suck her dick half as hard as she was."

"Anyway," Lulie shot a dirty, blushing look at the changeling. "No matter what there we'd have had to fight someone - even if we negotiated with the Keshkari beforehand, most likely..." She considered when Trix suggested seeking out iron deposits. "That... could be a viable solution. My biggest concern is that 'enough iron for everyone' is kind of relative. There are still many more refugees that don't have work, so Cliffside would likely want to keep employing some at the Fingers mine and some at the new mine. But if we tell the Aedi about that, they'll either want us to leave the Fingers or give them a cut of the new mine since they shared theirs so we should share ours. And if they just tell us to leave so they can have their own mine, then there's two important effects: Cliffside will no longer have an official alliance with Verve, and the workers will probably not take it lying down that they need to abandon the mine and jobs their people already fought and died for because some Aedi told them to leave. The mine and the deal involving it serve multiple purposes, and while it isn't ideal - and is probably strange to hear - finding out that there's more iron and we don't need to split the Fingers' resources might actually be bad for the archipelago overall. There is, of course, the chance that the workers on the Fingers don't care as long as they get to be the workers at the new one. But it's more likely that Cliffside will push for people at both."

The changeling sniffed at some yogurt she'd ordered after looking at Trix eating hers for the past day and a half.

"Is this game theory stuff?"

"It could be," the warlock confirmed. "What would an intelligent, rational player do to optimize their gain? They'd want to have parties at both mines. They'd want to keep it quiet, but the Aedi would find out eventually. So what would their response be to finding out that what they view as an inferior race has been effectively tricking them and double-dipping? What would the results of that response be? Things like that are the kinds of things we try to calculate and predict. We look at information we've gathered and say 'it's likely that...' That sort of thing. And as for the ironwood... I... honestly don't know. I don't know how long it takes to plant and grow an Ironwood Tree, but given that there's only one island that has them and Cliffside opted to occupy that island instead of move the trees or take their seeds, it can be assumed that the process would be similar to planting and growing a normal tree. I'd assume if increasing the amount of ironwood were possible in the amounts we need it, we would have done that instead of hire a crew to hold an outpost deep in opposition territory."

When Trix restated that she didn't think of the world as zero sum, the changeling shrugged.

"I feel like we've gotten way off-track. When you two can start pullin' off 'nobody loses' outcomes to problems, I'll kindly eat my words. Until then, I'm gonna believe the things I think are true. Now then, to our original topic - didn't you sit us down to ask about important people in the archipelago?"

Deya had clearly had enough of the talks involving zero sums and theories and fruit trees. They weren't her kinds of talks and whether she was unable to follow along or just disinterested, it seemed to have caught up to her. Deya nodded along with more interest once talks about school faculty started up.

"That'd do it. 'What, you think our teacher is a fake or somethin'? TIER TWELVE FIREBALL, BOOOM!"

Lulie, on the other hand, seemed to only barely register what Trix was saying since she was thinking. At length, she spoke.

"...Maybe we're thinking about this wrong. No matter what we do, the students we start with will be largely decided by where and how we advertise for the school. Third Light's location means we might get less Ratfolk and Aedi regardless, but the ones who do show up will be more open-minded to begin with. Or at least interested enough in learning magic that they'd risk being there to learn. I thought at first that maybe we could have a form-concealing dress code for teachers so it wasn't clear what race they were to begin with, and we could just state teacher qualifications without listing each teacher's race on a poster. At worst we might have needed to have particularly controversial teachers show up a few weeks after the school opened so that we had time to open minds first. That still may be true if we end up with a lich in our roster or something. Already though we have Thay and Ned as teachers of the ten we could afford to hire at the start. Including us, that's three humans and a gnome, with up to eight open slots."

Lulie nodded to herself, seeming to still be solidifying some ideas in her head.

"Racial makeup is less of a concern depending on the advertisement, and it's not like we're forcing every student to take every class. We find good teachers covering each branch of magic and some extras like the bard-history lessons Ned wanted to teach, and the students just sign up for what they want. It doesn't matter if the dragonfolk students hate the ratfolk teacher if they don't need to be in his class or see him often. And then we can erode their biases as planned... Yea. I think that's what we should focus on."
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Old 07-12-2018, 09:16 PM
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"I brought it up to express my frustration with how the council, and most everybody, lives their lives, true. But, I didn't mean to bring it up as a proposal for the current solution. I need to have a better understanding of all the pieces before I can hope to do that. Thanks for explaining the situation on the Fingers Lulie. Finding more iron deposits is something I'll put on my list of things to think about, I'm sure there's a way to make something like that beneficial for everyone. I've got a book at home that has information on ironwood trees, so that's going on the list as well. Regardless, Deya's right, we've gotten off-track." Trix got up and fluttered over to give Deya another hug, then gave her a peck on the cheek and sat on her shoulder. "I think without Deya here to steer us in the right direction, Lulie and I might end up talking about the effect of wind currents on the continent on grape harvest on the islands or something."

She listened to Lulie's other thoughts on the school's demographics. "I don't like the idea of intentionally hiding races, but let's table that and get back to the crash-course political lesson. I'd like to learn about the other big players in Cliffside, and also the different pirate and mercenary groups as well. Then we can move on to the other islands. Oh shoot! I need my paper." Reluctantly she hopped off Deya's shoulder and flew back over to her papers that had been forgotten during the offshoot discussion.
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:13 AM
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Deya returned Trix's hug and kiss. They'd already passed the kiss threshold Trix had, so Deya was comfortable enough kissing the pixie's cheek - even if that ended up being the whole side of her head. Then she offered her a peanut. If she didn't want to eat it, there was also a little cup that Deya had been occasionally tossing peanuts into. Does Trix snack, or take it to the hoop?

"If it's pirates we're talkin' about, I may as well explain. Lulie sent me to a pirate scholar - an actual person dedicated to actually studying the pirates and their relationships. They... they made me take notes..." The poor changeling sounded traumatized. She compartmentalized that pain and continued on - for the greater good. "Let's see... There's 'The Legends' - a crew headed by Lady Muju who captains the Legacy. She's the discardan woman harassin' the Gate's supply lines right now. Then there's Ion, another discardan woman who captains the Inconnu. Which is a fitting name, since nobody is sure what her relationship is with Lady Muju. Lots of people believe they have a relationship of some kind, but I don't know if that's 'cause of a particular reason or if it's just 'cause they're both discardan women. Anyway, she's doin' some stuff I can't tell you about, but she's around. Then there's Thorne - an elgan man, he's the head of a group that used to be protection for transport ships. His group is fairly big, and you already heard that he suddenly robbed the Kairos and took off. Nobody is sure why, it kinda blindsided everyone. They were reliable and trustworthy until then, which kinda makes me think they had their reasons. Not all theft involves greed, after all. Lulu wanted to make him Admiral, even. Then there's Corie Retsec Eventide - a catfolk woman with a ship called the Dusk Runner. She's one o' the few people who still makes smugglin' runs to the continent. She's ballsy."

Lulie had been munching while Deya spoke, with every chewing motion accompanied by a glare at the Sustenance ring (one could feel her blaming the ring for every bite). She had something to add here though.

"She was planning for a trip to the Impossible Isles a few weeks ago. I'm not sure why, but I think she mentioned a treasure or something. It was a while back, I'd need to think on it to remember clearly."

Deya picked up explaining again.

"I saw her a few times when I was a dockworker - that kitty dressed sexy for a pirate captain. She had great fashion sense! Anyway, back to it, Onikaizer is a dragonfolk that's taken command of Slaver's Bay. You heard some about him at the council - he's the guy who's kidnapped some people and is preventing Sunspike and Shadow from joinin' Cliffside. So now we're at Ante - succubus captain of the Gamble. These guys were some of the worst for the slave trade, and were notorious for raidin' Rowlandson's coasts. They say they've reformed, though... Anyway, besides Ante, there's Huez, Osha Ling, and myself. Captains of the Phallic Metaphor, the Moon Chaser, and the Nishant respectively. Huez and Osha are tieflings, and ya already know about me. We have an alliance with the Commodore and her group, thought it's kinda shaky 'cause Ante and Commodore used to oppose each other. Ante is in Cliffside an' running for Admiral right now. The Commodore is holding the mill, and her group is composed of herself, Lesa, and Nigel Redshirt. The Commodore captains the Sanction, Nigel's got the Swagg Ratchet, and Lesa used to have the Ladybird, though that got stolen and renamed the Interesting Thing..."

Deya shifted a bit uncomfortably. After all, if she wasn't with Lulie then she might very well have ended up in the Interesting Company on the Interesting Thing. She continued.

"Commodore and Lesa are tieflings, Nigel is a human. Now we're onto the South Bay pirates - these guys generally have no affiliation with each other. They just kinda... pirate around, I guess. There's Moustache the Pirate, a human man who captained the Eye Raider, but... I think he died earlier this month? Pretty sure I heard that somewhere. Anyway, Elaine is a human captaining the Dreamspray Dilligaff. Then there's Reliq or Argus Led - a catfolk man who captains The Slice. Nadroj is First Fang of the yuan-ti and captain of the Dendroaspis - fun fact, her ship name basically translates to 'Tree Shield.' There's a pair of Dragonfolk named Legzer and Quiet Zillegas, who still hang in Slaver's Bay with Onikaizer. Protip: Legzer ain't got a ship no more 'cause I jacked the Dragonglass and renamed it the Nishant. Quiet still has the Silent Runner, though. Three more human men, Jory of the Manzanedo, Razi of the Vengeance, and Blackflag of the Chisel. Though, Lulie could tell ya more about Blackflag than I ever could."

Lulie blushed and shook her head.

"We don't need to talk about it."

"Oh I think we do," the changeling had on a smirk, with a little twinkle in her eye. "See, Blackflag and Lulie had them an encounter. They grabbed a tiefling gal and the three of them used a bunch of different spells in surprisingly kinky, experimental, bisexual-"

At this point, Lulie interrupted a bit more loudly than she probably intended to.

"Deya, shut up! Yes, I had sex with the guy, and tried things with a woman he knew, and we used spells. It was mostly an experiment to sort out something else and none of that is relevant to the current topic! Nor is it something that a work colleague needs to know every little detail of! This is why I don't tell you things like that!"

Deya didn't seem particularly concerned at Lulie's outburst. She laughed warmly.

"C'mooon, Lulu. You're not going to lose Trix's respect just because you admitted to havin' sex before. Even if you admit it was fun sex! You don't need to treat it like every sexual thing you've tried is a personal failing."

Mirroring a scene from the previous day, Deya help up her hand to block her lips from Lulie's line of sight, then mouthed to Trix: "Gender swaps." The warlock shook her head, somehow managing to display her agitation fully through taking a sip of lemonade.

"Forget it, I know the rest of them myself. There's Queen Emeralda, who is head of a fleet too large to know every name and ship of. Her ship is the Water Spider and she has three main Lieutenants: Lady Europa Asturias, Captain of the Skybreaker, Ark Asturias - sometimes goes by the name Nakhael Sorne - male captain of the Backlash, and Toomass Liadon, female captain of the diving bell. Then there's three ships that aren't pirates; Fumi the Transporter - a catfolk man who captains the Transport. Beatrice, a discardan woman who captains the Pegasus, and Bill Regodon, a human man who captains the Orogeny. All of them are merchants."

"I think you got the Aedi structure a bit wrong, but it's mostly correct, I guess. There's an art gallery painted by Mrs. Stangel in the Heights, if you wanna see what the pirates look like. Most of them are pretty accurate - some people boast that they're a good enough likeness to use with magic to find them, though Ion seemed to think hers sucked."

That seemed to be it for the dizzying barrage of people and ship names. Hope Trix writes fast!
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:31 PM
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Trix took the peanut and laughed. "Do you have any idea how hard these are for me to eat? They're yummy though, I just need to smash it into smaller pieces first." When Deya launched into her explanation of the pirates among the islands, Trix ended up scribbling furiously on her paper, rarely even bothering to look up. Occasionally she would hold up a hand to indicate she needed more time, but mostly she kept up. Just as before, circles and rectangles were drawn around names, and connections were drawn between some of the names. Looking closely at the papers, one would notice that there were subtle differences in some of the lines on all the papers. Some were solid, some were dotted, some had little zig-zags or circles in the middle, and some had arrows on the ends. She had to think back to the council meeting at some points, and penned in a few additional notes.

As talk turned to Blackflag and Lulie's experimentation, Trix's inkpen slipped and she started giggling as a blush spread across her face. When Deya mouthed the specifics to her, Trix began choking on nothing in particular. After she regained control, she smiled at Lulie. "It's okay, it's just that Deya and I already know that we're all friends, even if you're still stuck thinking of me as a work colleague. You'll catch up!" She giggled again and went back to working on her paper as Lulie took over the explanations. When they finished, she placed the sheets for the council and the pirates next to each other, and a third, blank sheet above them both. In her mind she was filling out what she knew of the other islands and what she had heard from the various ambassadors, and drawing various possible connections across all three sheets. She hovered above the papers for a solid minute, eyes darting back and forth, then let out a long sigh. "I should have gotten involved sooner. There's not enough time to figure this all out, let alone actually do much about it, before the next council meeting. That won't stop me from trying though. Everybody is going to be looking at this all wrong. They see war coming and a need for a unified force, but rather than fixing the existing problems that have prevented that from already happening, they're going to try and brute-force it. I'm afraid that won't end well, it's like trying to build a roof before you've finished the walls and supports. I just hope it doesn't come crumbling down before we deal with Rowlandson."

She returned to her yogurt and finished it off, then looked up at Deya. "Let's say we win against the continent. What do you think will happen with our ragtag group of pirates, mercenaries, merchant, and military ships? What would you want to do with The Nishant? What vision do you have for the waters of the archipelago with Rowlandson out of the picture?"
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Old 07-14-2018, 05:45 AM
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"Most things are more yummy when you 'smash' them," Deya replied to Trix's comment on nuts. Peanuts.

Despite Trix and Deya's comments on the topic of sharing stories like that, Lulie still seemed irritated.

"I don't want people to be thinking of me like that when considering me or my work. I want people who hear my name to think 'head librarian' or 'wizard master of Cliffside.' They should in no way or for any reason be thinking 'oh, that woman who has weird shape-shifting sex?' So just... don't be giving people reasons."

The rogue shook her head with a pitying air.

"Gurl, sexuality's one of the strongest forces people have! How many bard's tales have the heroes winnin' because they really wanna bone someone? Or, like, how many real life glories an' tragedies happen 'cause someone couldn't keep it in their pants? You gotta understand: even if nobody ever hears a word about what you do with yer junk, people are eventually gonna converse about what they think you do with it. Gods forbid you end up both well-known and in a relationship with Vara. Oh sh!t, especially if you date Vara. You'd be an interracial lesbian couple where one of you is like nine or ten times older than the other. There's no way people don't wonder what you're doing in bed or who has what fetishes."

Lulie shuddered, then shrugged. It seemed a little resigned.

"Even so, reputation is more important if you're in a leadership role. I don't need to be giving people any ammunition, even if it's something 'normal' that can be used to distract people at an important time." So saying, Lulie was more than happy to move along to Trix's comments on the web of relationships she was jotting down. "You have the right of it, yes. The way things are going now will lead us to a loss. ...What are those other symbols supposed to mean? I get lines for alliances, and dotted lines for possible or tenuous alliances, but... why the arrows and circles and such?"

At the question of "what next," Lulie didn't need to consider at this moment.

"Well, if you're asking what I think would happen rather than what I want... I'd guess the different islands and pirate groups will all argue over who contributed how much to the war and what a fair portion of the war spoils is for them. They'll probably break off into groups similar to what we have now, but most likely with different alliances and allegiances. If Ante survives the war, she'll probably go back to slaving unless there's a direct peace treaty between the archipelago and Rowlandson-Karash as a whole. Slaver's Bay will likely be hers for the taking since Onikaizer will likely need to be dealt with before we can mount a proper defense at all, and it'll give her a much larger area of the coast to raid. The merchants and mercenaries will probably go back to doing what they're doing now, just without the stress of annihilation looming. Cliffside's relationship with Silkweave will change since either we're going to resolve our issues and form a proper alliance as two of the largest magic item distributors in the archipelago, or we'll need to eliminate Emeralda and establish a new relationship entirely with a Silkweave that has a new, unsolidified, and untested ruling structure. An island or two might be destroyed..."

Of course, Lulie was speaking about Lillyucka, but she hadn't confirmed that such was the intention - or whether she'd go through with it, if it was. Deya spoke up from here.

"I dunno if it'll be slavery, exactly, but I'm sure that most of the pirates will resume their old ways. Silkweave at least will probably go back to slavery since that's like... their thing. If Ante does, I suppose I'd have to go back to my original plan of bein' one o' those protection ships. There is... something else; an idea I toy with sometimes. But there are lots of little things that go into it, and I frankly don't wanna talk about it right now. I think I'd likely end up either escorting merchant ships or bein' one of the groups that hunts down the pirates and brings 'em to the justice. You know how it is - bein' one of the good guys." The changeling winked playfully and took another gulp of her beer. "What about you? You're doin' school and politics, right? What's your goal for the those? New policies you wanna put down or somethin' you wanna do with an army of mages you taught?"

Of course, Deya's comment about "an idea [Deya] toys with" made Lulie curious. But she remembered the talk in the caravan, before the council meeting, about having a dream that's private even from the people closest to you. It made sense that Deya having a ship wasn't the endgame itself - she wanted it to do something with it. Just like how Lulie's "ultimate goal" just gave her the means to get what she really wanted. Even so, and understanding why Deya wouldn't want to talk about it until she knew it was a real possibility, Lulie really wanted to know what Deya of all people could be preparing to do with a ship.
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Old 08-10-2018, 05:10 PM
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"Don't worry Lulie, I won't go spreading stories about you. You're definitely going to be known for having the greatest school and library ever, not to mention all the crises you deal with. You don't even need to worry about that."

When Lulie asked about her symbols, the gnome got a bit of a twinkle in her eye. "Oh, a lot of this comes from what Efi taught me about clockwork diagrams. In those, arrows indicate what direction the driving force is moving, so in this I'm putting what direction influence moves. You've got the solid and dotted lines correct. Circles represent potential relationships that would work well together, while the zigzags indicate potential problems." Lulie noticed that most of the lines radiating out from Raph had zigzags. "In clockwork, you can have two gears connected, but if you attach a third one that's in contact with both of the first two, none of them can move. These diamonds here," she said, pointing to a few spots in the middle of the circle of council member names, "These are potential voting blocs."

On the topic of post-war scenarios, Trix looked glum again. "Yeah, you're probably right, but I hope there's a way we can make things better after the war. I don't want us to go back to normal. Like I've said before, the archipelago needs to grow up. We need to keep our alliances, we should have an inter-island peacekeeping fleet rather than pirates and slavers, and we should focus more on trade and friendly competition than conflict. I don't like conflict, but then again, nations generally aren't formed without it... it usually takes a strong leader who's willing to go to war with those who refuse to integrate." She looked up at Deya when the changeling explained her views, and got a smirk on her face. "Hey, what do you say, if things start to go to hell, you be that leader? The minstrels will sing the praises of Captain Deya the Great and Beautiful, the one who brought the islands together and established peace in the archipelago! Of course, if that's already the idea you don't want to talk about, we'll keep it hush hush for now," she added with a giggle.

"As for me, I just want to teach. Ideally, that would be most of my focus. I guess similar to Lulie, I believe that if you teach people a solid foundation for living a good and productive life, you don't need to worry about them too much. What I really hope is for our students to all choose to use magic ethically because they think it's the right thing to do, rather than because it's what they were taught or because those are the rules or the laws. There will always be the odd troublemaker, but generally I think people are good, especially if circumstances don't drive them down grey paths. Lack of education and poverty are two of the biggest things I think cause good people to do bad things. Other than that, I want to continue collecting and developing new spells. I haven't had much time for that, since I've put most of my focus into my business. Maybe I should make one of those rings for myself..." she thought out loud.
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:53 PM
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