21 Olarune
994 Y.K.
Korranberg Chronicle
Wir Edition

Prince Oargev Declares Day of Mourning For Lost Nation

In the wake of the tragedy that claimed the nation of Cyre, Prince Oargev has taken the mantle of leadership for the surviving citizens. Making a public statement from the Brelish capital of Wroat, he assured his people that even though the nation had been broken, its people and culture would live on, and that those responsible for the unspeakable atrocity committed upon the Jewel of Galifar would be made to account for their crimes.

"This is a Day of Mourning, not just for the people of Cyre but for all who remember and honor the legacy of Galifar. Even those who have turned their backs on the throne of Galifar still know the meaning of justice, and cannot call such an act of wanton destruction anything but evil. All people of Khorvaire must remember (see Day of Mourning, page A4)

Boranel of Breland Promises Aid to Cyrans

In the wake of the incredible disaster that has destroyed a nation and decimated her people, King Boranel has reached out to Prince Oargev, the only Cyran royal known to have escaped the devastation, promising that Breland would offer shelter and assistance to the survivors of the lost nation. While the full details of this assistance have yet to be formalized, emergency shipments of food and medical supplies have been sent from Wroat and are currently making their way to Starilaskur and Vathirond via Lightning Rail; Vathirond has been directing refugees in good enough condition for travel to make their way to Starilaskur. It seems probable (see Brelish Aid, page A6)

Remains of Metrol Empty By Day, Haunted By Night

An expedition to the Cyran capital of Metrol reveals a city devoid of life; no signs remain of the inhabitants of this once great metropolis, at least during the day. Many parts of the city have crumbled or shattered as if hit by some great concussive force, while others remain almost untouched. The disturbing tranquility was broken as soon as night fell, however; ethereal humanoids began to roam the streets, producing unearthly keening and howling. Several members of the expedition were attacked by these creatures, and some who survived the encounter died later from wounds that would not heal. Based on these reports, House Orien (see Metrol, page A8)

Mutant Monster Attacks on Cyre River

A convoy of Karrnathi cargo vessels bound for Korth was attacked by creatures emerging from the dead-gray mist covering the Cyran side of the stretch of Cyre River running along the Cyre-Karrnath border. Most of the convoy was lost and the survivors were forced to turn back to Karrlakton. Accounts describe strangely-mutated, highly aggressive sea creatures, as well as moving, fluid masses of fire and clouds of electricity. Similar reports from (see Mutants, page A2)

Lost in the Mists; Mishaps Abound at Cyran Border

Since the explosion that consumed the nation of Cyre there have been many attempts to penetrate the dead-gray mist that hangs at the border and obscures the land from scrutiny. Most of those who have crossed into this strange phenomenon have not been seen or heard from since, but a few surviving parties have brought reports of distorted, confusing landscapes and severe disorientation problems. Many of those who escaped were lost for hours only to emerge from the mists well away from either their point of origin or intended destination. Some experts speculate (see Lost, page A3)

Speculation Plentiful, Facts Scarce Regarding Cause of Explosion

Between accounts from refugees and expeditions into the affected area, some details are beginning to come together that might eventually help spread light on the cause or causes of the disaster, but as yet no solid evidence has been found that could provide a conclusive explanation for what happened. Many parties speculate that Cyre may have been attempting to remedy their military disadvantage through some new experiment, but just as many insist it was likely an attack by another nation via some secret undisclosed weapon. Differing accounts place the source of the explosion in Metrol, in the southern city of Making, or in the center of the country's northern regions, and no explanation for the extent to which the devastation conforms to (see Speculation, page A7)

A few hours later, Illyvalen came by my bed carrying a tray laden with a bowl of some kind of soup, as well as a basket with several pillows and a copy of the Korranberg Chronicle. "I've talked to Uncle Toralnik about delaying your interview; you definitely don't need to be dealing with that while trying to recover from a quori attack. No, don't get up just yet; let me come help so you don't strain your back unnecessarily. There we go...." Carefully supporting my back, she helped me into a partial sitting position, propping up my back with pillows. The position was a little awkward and put some uncomfortable pressure on my tail, but with the pain in my back flaring up at any of the obvious attempts to reorient myself I quickly gave up on moving and focused on the meal I had been brought.

"I thought you might want to see the chronicle, given everything that's happening. Though maybe it'd be better if I just read to you. Ah, is the soup all right? I don't actually cook all that often, but Amaltho — that's one of our volunteers who normally does this... er, he w-wasn't as fortunate as we were last night... so he's going to be out for a while...."

Pausing for a moment to consider all this, I responded. "That is unfortunate. I hope that it is not much longer before I am no longer a burden and can be of some use. I am not one to ask about food; I usually survived on much less than has been provided for me here. My kind can eat almost anything. ...while I am curious about the chronicle, I believe anything you can tell me about the creature who attacked me would be more pertinent."

"Oh. Right. Um, I don't really know that much more about quori than what I already told you. They inhabit the plane of Dal Quor, they invade people's nightmares looking for opportunities to prey on their emotions. There are a few types of them, the most common is the fear-eaters I mentioned, but there are also rage-eaters and sorrow-eaters. The attacks aren't common, but they range from minor symptoms like severe headaches or the back injury you've described to short-term comas... and occasionally death...."

I continued to eat, considering this rather disturbing explanation. After a few more minutes, I asked, "So however safe I might be here, I risk death whenever I sleep?"

"Uh, I wouldn't... I-I mean I guess that's technically true, but... these attacks aren't very common... and you seem pretty resilient, you pulled through without magical healing after being hurt really badly. I suspect you could survive even a pretty bad attack...."

This was not the most reassuring response imaginable, but it did seem like she was trying to allay any fears as honestly as possible. After a moment the subtext of her latter statement sunk in and my eyes widened, but I decided it was probably best not to put voice to the unsaid. "Is that all that is known of these creatures and the threat they pose?"

"Um, I guess the Library would have more, though it could take some effort to find it. Maybe that's something to consider looking into later."

There not being much else to say on the subject for the moment, I focused on finishing my meal, while Illyvalen read aloud some of the articles from the chronicle. It seemed that whatever had destroyed Cyre had stayed behind, transforming the land into a nightmarish realm of strange monsters and uncontrolled magic. The hopes for finding survivors from most of the nation's cities seemed to have diminished significantly with the first day's findings, but there were more expeditions planned or still underway to try to discover more about what happened.

We were interrupted unexpectedly by the arrival of Selbrech, the halfling who had healed my leg only the day before, who bore a rather worried expression. "I apologize for disturbing you while you're with a patient, but I have a rather urgent matter to discuss and Jeslaryun said she thought you might be a while...."

Illyvalen set the paper aside and shook her head. "It's no problem. What did you need?"

Selbrech glanced briefly at me, and seemed as if he was considering whether to ask to speak in private, then he shrugged and returned his focus to Illyvalen. "I need to ask a favor, and a rather significant one. My family has been summoned to Breland to help with the refugee situation developing up there. Most of us will need to be on our way to Starilaskur within a day or two. I'd like to keep my practice operational in our absence, but as it stands it would be just Mulbo and Riliana, plus our Zil staff members. I know Mulbo can handle the role of healer and keep an eye on Riliana, and Riliana knows the records well enough to manage some of the logistics, but neither of them are really experienced enough to keep the place running on their own. I'd... like to hire you as something of an administrative consultant. Mulbo will be in charge, but you have experience he'll need in order to keep things running smoothly, and there's no one here I would trust more with such a role."

Illyvalen simply stared wide-eyed, speechless for several moments. Finally, she stammered out, "But, but I... I have to manage my own clinic. I can't just leave...."

"Of course not. This would only be a part-time obligation; we'll be operating on reduced hours and referring most non-urgent care elsewhere, and Mulbo and Riliana can manage some of the time without you, I'm sure. And you have others here who can help carry some of the load in your absence. ...I wouldn't ask if I didn't think it was important, but I don't have a lot of options. I'll need your answer soon."

Illyvalen considered this for a minute before responding. "All right. I'll agree. I do want a favor in return, though. Can you use your mark today?"

Selbrech scowled at this. "You know my oath doesn't allow—"

"Of course not, but you were planning on paying me for this job, right? I don't think an advance on that is out of the question."

Selbrech blinked at that. "...Ah. Yes, I suppose under the circumstances that's not too much of an ask. I can advance you a week's pay, and I can offer a field healing today; we don't get all that many injuries in a place like Korranberg. I take it your patient needs another 'Cure light wounds' for her leg?"

I started in alarm, looking toward Illyvalen despite the pain of movement. "My life is not in danger. My leg begins to be useful. You said I would recover from this new injury. It does not seem necessary or wise to incur more debt to speed my healing further."

Illyvalen looked over to me, and hesitated before speaking. "It... it might be better to do this now. Your leg is still not fully healed; I could tell by the way you were limping when you tried to walk on it last night. There are some Zil who can heal you, but the price they ask will not be measured in coin. Once Selbrech's family leaves, it might be some time before you can see a Jorasco healer again."

"Would it not also take some time before I could earn sufficient coin to repay the cost of the healing I have already received, and more still to earn enough for a second healing?"

"Well... for the kind of work I think you could find in the short term, you should be able to earn a little over two galifars a day. You'd have some other expenses, but if you're willing to share a room for a while that can be kept down. I think you could save up the cost of two healings within a month if you live frugally."

I took a few moments to consider this information. It would have been more comfortable to be useful and earn the required coin myself. Yet it sounded as if the opportunity for further healing might not present itself for much longer than the time required to earn such coin. It did seem unlikely that I would need to run here, and yet while I could live with a limp, how long would I be doing so? Korranberg might be safe now, but what if this war spread? What if my pride now ended up costing me my life in some future crisis? There was also the matter of my being confined to bed again by this new injury. It would heal on its own, but that was more time spent being helpless, a burden on those around me. "...I can accept such a debt for now."

Illyvalen looked relieved at this, while Selbrech inquired further, "What is this about a further injury?"

"She was attacked by a quori overnight. She's suffering from back pain and difficulty moving consistent with a spinal injury, but I don't think it's too severe. The main concern is the leg, but the healing might help with that issue as well."

Selbrech nodded. "It might, but as you say, the leg is the real worry in this case, so we'd best keep our focus there." Taking out a coin purse, he counted out twelve coins of gold, handing them over to Illyvalen, who separated and returned eight of the coins; the entire exchange had a sort of sense of ritual to it, and gave the impression that physically receiving the coins was terribly important to Selbrech somehow, despite having provided them himself only a moment before. After returning the gold to his purse, he turned his attention back to me as Illyvalen pulled back the sheets to expose my injured leg. "You already know what to expect from yesterday. It shouldn't be as bad this time, but it will probably spread beyond your leg. Are you ready?"

I nodded, bracing myself as he touched my leg with his mark glowing. The sensation, while uncomfortable, was much less intense as it spread through my leg, and after a moment began to run up my back. It seemed to fade quickly, and I found that my back still hurt, but it had diminished to a dull ache which seemed like it would be possible to ignore if I was sufficiently focused. I tried turning my head to each side and encountered little resistance. Slowly, I shifted out of bed, bringing myself to a standing position. This time neither leg offered any pain, though I could still feel that the muscles of the just-healed leg were weaker. I took a few steps away from my bed without the aid of my cane, and turned to face the gnome and halfling. "My leg is still weak but I can move fully. That is more than I thought possible after I was injured."

Illyvalen seemed torn between elation at my recovery and worry over my sudden exertion. "Are you sure your back is okay?"

I slowly shifted my position, twisting and bending a bit, in order to test my own flexibility. "There is still pain, but much less. It is not difficult to move."

"Well, you might still want to take it a little easy for today, but getting in some exercise is probably good. Do you think you're up to talking with Uncle Toralnik? Once he's heard you've been healed, he probably won't want to wait, so it might be better to go surprise him at the office." Illyvalen grinned slightly before adding, "that way you have the excuse of the fatigue of an outing if you need to cut things short."

I nodded slowly. "That is likely for the best."

Illyvalen turned back to Selbrech. "I'll stop by your clinic in the morning; presumably we can discuss any further details then?"

Selbrech nodded and bowed. "Indeed. I'm grateful for your help."

As there was still a fair bit of time before Toralnik would have expected me for the interview, Illyvalen suggested that we see to some errands first. After seeing me dressed in another set of borrowed clothing that just barely fit my frame, she shook her head and declared that the very first thing we needed to do was to purchase some proper outfits. While the idea of spending even more coin after incurring the debt of a second healing was not one I relished, it was hard to argue with the necessity of fitting clothing given the norms of a city, so we made our way to a tailor's shop that Illyvalen was familiar with.

Despite the initial surprise of the gnome within at receiving a kobold customer, he seemed eager for the "challenge" and I was quickly subjected to a bewildering selection of fabrics and images of clothing styles. The only thing to really catch my eye was a hooded traveling cloak, which seemed much less unwieldy than the various hats depicted in terms of providing a bit of protection from the sunlight that made daytime travel about the city a bit painful even now. For the rest, all I really cared about was that it was inexpensive and easy to move in, but Illyvalen kept looking between various paintings and me and commenting on how things might look with various alterations or whether certain materials or colors "complemented" my scales or my eyes. I mostly let her indulge herself in this, though I tried to discourage consideration of the more expensive materials until she finally said with some exasperation that I needed to have at least one nice outfit for special occasions even if I was planning to dress like a common laborer most of the time. In the end, we settled on a total expenditure of 4 gold and 8 silver coins, covering a formal outfit made of leather, a cloak, a vest, and small selection of shirts, pants and skirts that met with Illyvalen's approval.

Once the details of the outfits had been finalized and the tailor finished the lengthy task of measuring and recording the lengths of various parts of my body, we finally took our leave of the shop. By this point I was starting to feel a little run down and had started using the cane again to rest my newly-recovered leg, so Illyvalen suggested we visit the Central Library for a couple hours before heading to the Chronicle offices.

As we neared our destination, there was the sense of the organized, bustling city giving way to a more open, tranquil space, albeit still populated by the constructed dwellings favored by the city's inhabitants; these were much more spread out, with grass-covered soil replacing stone paving between them. As we made our way deeper into the center of what Illyvalen referred to as the "Library District", it became clear that we were making our way toward a building of such substantial size that it towered over all of the buildings nearby. It looked more like a fortress than anything, yet the sizeable main entrance saw many people coming and going without challenge — mostly gnomes, but several humans, half-elves, dwarves and halflings as well. Large lettering of the Common script carved above the entrance identified the building as "Library of Korranberg"; below that a newer sign further clarified "Central Library Building".

As we stepped inside, I faltered, eyes widening. The building's interior seemed to be populated with shelves of books that ran up walls and aisles all the way to the distant ceiling, so far above us that two tiers of platforms of what looked to be woven strips of wood supported by metal poles ran around the shelves, presumably to allow easier access to the upper portions. Near the center of the floor, stairs led up to another floor that clearly had a similar arrangement. "Perhaps one truly could record all knowledge in so many books...."

Illyvalen laughed quietly at this comment and whispered, "These are just the General Interest shelves. The Main Archives are stored extradimensionally, though you won't be able to access those without registering with the Library, and that's going to have to wait until after you've got residency sorted out. If you find something of interest on these shelves, though, I can check it out for you. Mostly, though, I figured you might want the opportunity to sit down and read for a bit. Come on, I'll show you how General Interest is organized."

It turned out that all the books written in Common were stored on the first floor, while books in Gnomish were split across the first three floors and books in other languages had their own section on the third floor. Each shelf had codes marked on them that indicated the range of subjects to be found within, and there were labels with similar codes affixed to the binding of the books themselves. There was a certain logic to the codes, and I figured in time I would be able to navigate to desired subjects, but for now I simply tried to note which shelves I might be most likely to want to revisit soon. In a section that focused on something called the "outer planes" I stopped to examine a book whose title caught my eye: Dream Hunters: The Predators of Dal Quor. Briefly skimming the contents was enough to verify that I had indeed found a book discussing the nature of these "quori" that Illyvalen had mentioned, so I brought it with me as Illyvalen continued to lead me through the Common-language shelves.

While it was tempting to consider gathering a selection of books as we went, I decided it was best to limit my focus for now. After finishing the tour of the shelves, we made our way to the second floor reading tables, where I did my best to ignore the stares and murmuring my presence invited and focus on the book I had selected. Illyvalen excused herself to retrieve a title from the foreign language section, and it was during her absence that a large, scarred human happened to approach the table, sneering in distaste. "I heard they let all sorts in here, but I didn't think that included vermin playing dress-up. What are you doing so far out of your cave, lizard-rat?"

Despite my attempted focus, being addressed in such a manner startled me into making eye contact with the stranger, which I immediately sensed was a mistake. There was a dangerous intensity in his eyes that I recognized; it was the same smouldering flame that burned in me when I had indulged in the fantasy of orchestrating some elaborate revenge against those who murdered my tribe, the flame I had to learn to conceal from my captors in order to survive. I had to suppress a shudder as I realized that for no reason I knew, he would enjoy seeing me die in front of his eyes. I knew better than to show fear at this point; submission was not the right gambit for this kind of hatred. Defiance would be worse, however. I needed to seem like I was not worth his attention. Returning my gaze to my book and making the utmost effort to keep my voice from faltering or betraying emotion, I answered simply, "I am reading."

The human leaned forward and smacked the table with one hand. "Is that some kind of joke?" When I offered no further response, he leaned even further forward. "Perhaps I should offer to help the staff with their vermin infestation. After all, if there's one of you around, there's usually a dozen more hiding nearby. Isn't that right?"

A gnome suddenly cleared her throat behind the human, startling us both; I hadn't seen her approach, and the human was clearly unused to being snuck up on like that; he whirled around to face the newcomer as she spoke. "Please move along, sir. You're disturbing the patrons."

The human scoffed at this. "Patrons? What patrons?"

"Me, for one." The gnome pulled out a chair from the table and sat down, setting a book in front of herself.

The human took another look at me, scowled, then turned away. As he was leaving, the gnome made another comment in his direction. "A word to the wise: the Trust frowns on violence in our cities, even against non-citizens."

Once I was certain the human had gone, I risked a glance toward the gnome who had intervened. "Thank you for that."

Her returning gaze was cool, neither hostile nor friendly. "Interesting response," was all she said before returning her focus to her book.

The rest of the time at the library passed without incident, Illyvalen returning after a few minutes with an ancient-looking tome in a script I didn't recognize. My own book seemed to present a mix of fact and speculation, but it did cover the information Illyvalen had provided in more detail, naming and categorizing a few different kinds of quori, typical behavior patterns, a few tricks for trying to identify when a quori was hiding within a nightmare, and even some talk about rare magical items that could provide some protection to those who experienced frequent nightmares. One chapter even discussed a technique called "lucid dreaming" that could give a dreamer more control over a dream, and thus a better chance at evading or fighting off a quori intruder, but noted that it could be particularly difficult to employ during nightmares.

By the time I had finished that book, returned it to the shelf where I had found it, and returned with another book, Illyvalen was standing up to return her own book. "I think that's enough for today, we should head to the Chronicle offices now. Did you want me to check that out?" I nodded and handed over the book, a work more specifically about the technique of lucid dreaming. "Huh, interesting. Anyway, I'll just be a minute. Let's meet at the entrance."

"I would prefer to accompany you. There was... an incident earlier." Illyvalen raised an eyebrow at this, but refrained from immediately questioning me further as we made our way up to the third floor, then down to the counters on the first floor, and eventually out of the building.

"He called you a what?!"

We had put a bit of distance between ourselves and the library before Illyvalen had pressed for an explanation, so there were not as many people around to hear this outburst, but I still found myself glancing around nervously at various passers-by. "A lizard-rat. I believe he wanted to frighten me into fighting or fleeing."

"That's... that's... I can't... Why?!"

I had not before witnessed Illyvalen quite this agitated, and I began to wonder if it was not better that she had been absent for the actual event. "I do not know the specific cause for his hatred of my kind, but I could see it in his eyes. He would have enjoyed causing or even just witnessing my death. I... have faced antagonism before, but I will admit to feeling a bit shaken."

Illyvalen took hold of my arm in what I gathered was meant to be a reassuring gesture. "That's so horrible.... Do you want to return to the clinic? I can probably put Uncle Toralnik off another day, considering I have some news of my own I can offer...."

I shook my head. "No. I do not believe a delay would make much difference." After all, regardless of how many things ended up disturbing me today, I was not likely to have more than one nightmare to worry about.... Illyvalen maintained contact as we continued on our way, while I continued to watch for any signs of the human from before or any other signs of possible hostility from those around us.

As we entered the offices of the Korranberg Chronicle I began to regret my insistence on immediately dispatching this particular obligation as the bustle of activity ground to a halt, the attention of seemingly every gnome on the premises falling upon me. Murmurs not quiet enough to truly be discreet reached us as we pressed our way forward toward Toralnik's desk, trailing a growing crowd behind us.

"Isn't that the kobold they found lying in the street a few months back?"

"I heard from my baker that one of her cousins heard from their coworker that their grandmother saw a kobold with a cane like that in the waiting room at that Jorasco clinic just the other day."

"Isn't the gnome next to it the one who runs that free clinic?"

Just as it was starting to look like we might have difficulty actually reaching our target, a door with a window set in it opened and a gnome stuck his head out, shouting with a gruff voice in a language I didn't understand. The crowd dispersed almost instantly, everyone suddenly finding something to be doing, though it was clear attention was still being paid to us, just more furtively.

Toralnik stood as we approached. "I was under the impression you weren't going to be able to make it today. It might have been simpler for me to drop by the clinic under the circumstances." Glancing around the office and then back to me, he said, "Come, let's go to one of the interview rooms. It won't stop them from eavesdropping, but at least you won't have to watch them do it."

The interview room was small but well-lit, with light spilling in from an outside window. Toralnik asked us both if we needed anything to drink, and we both accepted glasses of water. I sat down on the window side of the room, so as to face away from the glare of the sunlight. Illyvalen sat beside me and spoke first.

"I think I mentioned before, but Tikra doesn't talk much, and in particular I think she still has some trouble with phrasing things in Common, so some of her answers may be in Draconic; I can translate for her. I can also speak to some of what happened when she first came here better than she can herself, given she was unconscious for several days."

Toralnik nodded and sat down across from us, a stack of sheets in front of him and a pen in his hand. "Of course. Of course. Now, what brought you to Korranberg in the first place?"

"An accident."

Illyvalen translated my words, then both she and Toralnik looked at me expectantly, as if neither could imagine that might be all I had to say on the subject. After a moment, Illyvalen stammered out, "uh, from what I heard from witnesses I think she dropped out of the back of a cart that had come here from Zolanberg. She was in pretty bad shape, though. I don't know if she'd even remember arriving in the city."

"I remember a little... falling to the ground... seeing frightened faces... I expected to die."

"It sounds like you had quite the harrowing experience. Fortunately, I understand Illyvalen was close at hand?"

"Ah, yeah, I found her almost immediately. She was hurt very badly. I knew she needed help immediately, so I sent someone to the clinic with instructions for Jeslaryun while I did my best to stabilize her condition. We eventually got her moved safely, but I wasn't sure she was going to make it for a while. It was such a relief when she finally woke up...."

"I imagine it would be. I gather you've been recuperating for some time now. It must be good to finally get out and stretch your legs. Have you seen much of the city yet?"

"I have only been able to walk far for a short time, but I have seen Selbrech Kaman d'Jorasco's clinic, the Lightning Rail station, the Library of Korranberg, and this place. Though I have seen little, I have read much of the city."

"So, where did you come from originally?"

"The mountains."

"Er, do you mean the Seawall Mountains? Those span the entire eastern border...."

"I was unconscious for most of the time I was carried south. I had never left the mountains before, so I do not know where I was in relation to here."

"Oh. Is that why you are planning to stay here in Korranberg? You don't know where your home is?"

"I do not know where my... home is. That is not the reason I wish to stay."

Illyvalen looked to me with a question in her eyes and I nodded my assent. "She said earlier she doesn't have any family left. I don't think she has anyone or anything to go back to...."

"Hmmm. As I understand it, kobold societies are generally communal, without much attention paid to close relations. Are there no members of your tribe who would take you in?"

I closed my eyes at this, unsure I could keep the pain from showing in them as I reluctantly answered. "There are not."

"Why is that the case?"

I didn't respond. It was only when Illyvalen put an arm around me in attempted comfort that I realized I was trembling with uncontained emotion. Disgusted, I clamped down hard on the turmoil within and hissed out, "I do not intend to discuss it."

I detected a hint of nervousness from Toralnik as he cleared his throat and continued. "Ah, yes, well, so what are your plans for your stay in Korranberg? How are you adapting to the differing culture here?"

I waited until I was certain I could keep my voice steady before I opened my eyes and continued. "I have begun to study this place and its culture, but it will likely be some time before I learn what my role must be. Illyvalen believes that there would be a place for me here, and I follow her guidance. I have adapted to more difficult circumstances than this."

I realized the opening I'd left only as Illyvalen translated my words. Toralnik reacted immediately. "What kind of circumstances?" I held my silence, and after a minute Illyvalen picked back up, speaking to the previous question.

"Ah, as for plans, I've been looking into some possibilities on her behalf. She's an extremely fast reader and picks up on things very quickly, so I think she would be good at anything involving organizing information. There should be some short-term options with that, and longer term I honestly think she should apply to one of the colleges at the Library. They do have some scholarship opportunities for promising foreigners...."

"Those scholarships are pretty competitive. Do you really think she could get in?"

Illyvalen turned to me at this question. "How does the lightning rail work?"

I blinked at this sudden change in subject, and hesitated for a moment before responding, being forced to use Common as I lacked the Draconic vocabulary to express the concepts. "A storm elemental is bound to the coach. It uses lightning energy to move the coach over a rail of conductor stones."

No sooner had I finished responding than she was again directing a question at me. "How is an elemental bound?"

"Zil alchemy using Khyber dragonshards. I do not know the details."

"Are there other forms of travel that use a bound elemental?"

"House Lyrandar uses bound elementals in both sailing ships and airships. I... think there are vessels for mining as well."

"What's the ruling body of Zilargo and how is its membership determined?"

"Zilargo is ruled by the Triumvirate. The Councils of Nine for Trolanport, Zolanberg and Korranberg each select one representative to represent them in the Triumvirate." At this point, I was mostly quoting what I had read before almost verbatim.

"What's the majority religion of Zilargo?"

I blinked at this. "Do the Zil have one? I gathered they try everything to determine their preference."

Toralnik broke in at this point. "Wait, wait.... You're putting me on, right? This is some kind of routine."

Illyvalen's eyes widened and she responded almost indignantly. "You know I wouldn't do that! It's just, I've been talking to Tikra a lot while she's been recovering, and she comes to an understanding of what she's told very quickly and retains a lot. I had to teach her Common, and I don't think she knew how to read or write before she came here. I've been supplying her with just about every Common book I could get ahold of, and everything she just answered was in one of those."

"All right, all right. But if you want to sell me on this, then I'm asking the questions, and answer in Common if you please. What are the schools of magic?"

I hesitated, thinking back. This had come up in my reading, but hadn't been an area I'd felt it critical to focus on. "...Abjuration, Conjuration, Transmutation, Evocation... Illusion, Necromancy... er, Enchantment... and Divination?" Illyvalen's wide smile suggested I had managed to recall correctly. Toralnik simply moved on to another question.

"There is a beverage to be found here made from enchanted water. What is it called and why is it particular to gnome cuisine?"

"Maleko. Almost all gnomes can perform the enchantment."

"Which Dragonmarked House runs the Sentinel's Guild?"

"House Deneith."

"What are the Five Nations of Galifar?"

"Cyre, Karrnath, Thrane, Aundair and Breland. Though I understand Cyre has been destroyed."

"When did the war begin?"

"894 Y.K."

"When did Zilargo declare its alliance with Breland?"

"962 Y.K."

"Who is the leader of Breland?"

"...King Boranel?"

"Who is the leader of Aundair?"

I shook my head. "I do not know. I knew of Breland's leader only because his name appeared in your chronicle today."

"Hmm. All right, perhaps that's a little too current. How long have there been humans in Khorvaire?"

"About three thousand years."

"What are the four ages of Eberron's history?"

"I do not know."

Illyvalen interrupted at this point, sounding slightly annoyed. "I said she was promising. I didn't say she was ready to apply today!"

"Easy, now. I didn't say her ignorance disqualifies her. If anything, it'd be more suspicious if she could answer every question I could throw at her. Even so... is this all supposed to be things you've learned since arriving here?"

"I had little cause to know of the affairs of Khorvaire before I arrived."

"Uh huh. How old are you supposed to be, anyway?"

"I have seen the season of my hatching come again six times."

Toralnik's eyes bulged a bit at this. "That... that's... I had heard kobolds matured quickly, but... are you even an adult?!"

"I would be old enough to... procreate, I believe is the correct term — if I had a tribe to require it of me. I believe I would be considered young, but I am not a juvenile." I observed Toralnik turning a bit red at my first comment, and considered the circumstances of my observing the same of Illyvalen. I wondered if the topic of sex was somehow a difficult one for most gnomes.

"Ah, yes, well... so, I understood that you were not expecting to be able to make it to an interview today due to having been injured again?"

"I was stung by a tsucora quori during a nightmare. I was not previously aware of such predators, but I have begun studying them today."

"I've heard of quori attacks, of course, but rare as they are, yours is the first case I've had an opportunity to inquire upon. I understand the nightmares that attract such creatures are fairly intense. Can you describe it?"

I hesitated to respond at all to this query, but decided there was a little I might express without digging too deeply into matters best left unsaid. "A twisting of memories into a false narrative... as if the true were not burden enough...."

"Memories of... conflict? Personal tragedy? Humiliation? Give me something here, you've obviously got a story to tell."

I began to feel weary of this questioning, and as I held my silence this time I noticed Illyvalen's expression grow concerned. Toralnik leaned back and sighed a bit, seeming to accept that I wasn't going to give him what he wanted. "Very well. What changed to bring you out here today, given such an injury would normally require more rest?"

"Illyvalen arranged a second magical healing for my leg. The injury to my back was partly healed then."

Illyvalen spoke up again at this point. "That was a matter of lucky timing. Selbrech came to see me at the clinic. His family has been called to Breland to assist with the refugee situation. He's leaving Mulbo and Riliana behind to keep the clinic running, but he wanted to bring me on to help them because I have experience managing a clinic."

Toralnik blinked. "Now that is news. Jorasco doesn't usually hire people outside the house for anything remotely administrative. That's a lot of trust he's placing in you."

"Uh, I guess so. It's only part time, and they're reducing their hours, so I should still be able to put time in at my own clinic, but I'm going to have to leave more things to Jeslaryun now."

"You were going to have to do that anyway, though. You're planning to apply to Lyrris soon, aren't you?"

"At some point, yeah. I suspect I might not have time for a while. I don't know if we'll see many refugees this far south, but things might be busier, especially with Jorasco mostly pulling out of Korranberg."

"Mm, well, don't wait too long. I know the clinic is important to you, but you shouldn't put your life on hold for it."

"It's not like I'm not studying every day anyway. And most applicants are at least five years older than me."

"You're not most applicants. You have a rare talent that shouldn't go to waste."

"I know, I know. It's not like I haven't had this conversation a dozen times already. But the clinic is important. It's not in the way of my life, it's part of it. Finding a way to balance it with the rest is my game."

"Heh, well, if you put it that way, then I'm sure there's nothing to worry about." His attention turned back to me. "I suppose we're coming to a close, but I would be remiss not to ask if there are any of your experiences prior to arriving in Korranberg that you would be willing to speak about." After I responded simply by shaking my head, he continued. "Ah, well, mysterious origins will at least provide a tantalizing hook for the story. Thank you both for making the time for this."

Illyvalen broke in as Toralnik started to stand. "Ah, there is one more thing. There was an... incident earlier today. A human foreigner insulted and threatened her in the library while I was away looking for a book. I could hardly believe it when she told me."

Toralnik looked back at me and raised his pen again. "In the library? What happened? Did you say anything?" As I related the incident, he shook his head a bit as he wrote. "There are a number of people who have had... confrontations with kobolds, especially those involved in mining along the Seawalls. I'm not shocked to hear of someone holding a grudge, but to behave that way not just in a city, but in the middle of a library... was he warned?"

"Not in the usual sense as far as I know, but a gnome patron did mention to him that the Trust wouldn't allow violence here. But... even if he'd fought kobolds before, Tikra hadn't even seen him before. Why would he have a grudge against her?"

Toralnik shook his head. "I'm sure all he saw was another kobold just like others he'd encountered. That may be an ugly thought, but it's how things are when it comes to many people's relations with the monster races. Er, no offense, but that is the term many would use. At any rate, hopefully the Trust has their eye on him now in case he tries to cause any further trouble."

After the interview was concluded, Illyvalen and I made our way back to the tailor's shop again so that the first of the outfits in the order Illyvalen had placed on my behalf could be fitted. The dark blue shirt and pleated skirt turned out to be impressively close to a perfect fit when I changed into them, and as I stood in front of a mirror while the tailor made some minor adjustments, I had to admit that Illyvalen was right about the color; despite some similarity in shade the clothing stood out from my scales in a way that made both seem more colorful. I would have to defer to others on whether it qualified as fashionable, but it was eye-catching in a way I wouldn't have expected.

Once we had returned to the clinic, Illyvalen ushered me into the back area, and from there into the residence proper. Her bedroom was the closest to the clinic, unsurprisingly, and seemed unusually cramped due to having a small cot squeezed into the space between the bed and the writing desk. "I guess it'll be a little crowded in here at first. I'll get some help moving the bookshelf to another room tomorrow. You should take the bed for now, I want to make sure you get a good rest so your back doesn't bother you tomorrow."

I blinked in surprise at that. "Would it not be more convenient for me to remain in the clinic?"

"While we could put off moving you another day, I'm a little concerned that things might start to get busy soon. We don't have a lot of room for in-patients here. Er, if you're uncomfortable not having a room to yourself I can stay with Jeslaryun instead...."

"I did not mean to imply that. I merely do not want to impose on your living space."

"Ah, I don't mind. If anything it'll be nice to have company, and we can spread things out a little once the bookshelf is gone."

I nodded in acknowledgement. "Assuming I have recovered fully tomorrow, what should I do? I would prefer not to be idle, and I understand you will have duties to occupy you during the morning."

"Well, there are some matters we should take care of once I'm free, but in the mean time... I guess I can talk to Jeslaryun about finding you some work to do around the clinic. If that doesn't pan out or last long enough, you could stop by the library again.... I don't think it's likely you'll encounter another incident like today's again, that's really not how people generally behave in Korranberg."

"I am aware. Further, I cannot hide away and still expect any opportunity to find a place for myself. It has been made clear to me that this is as safe a place as I could hope to find."

There being little else to settle for now, I spent about an hour reading before retiring for the night.