The lightning rail station is much busier at this point in time. Instead of the earlier human dominance, there's a wide variety of races here, leaning towards gnomes but not as strongly as Korranberg generally does.

Edgeworth looks to Althea. "I presume that the research you came here for to begin with is not yet complete."
Althea: No. In fact, I'll have to check in with some of my colleagues at some point, though I'm somewhat known for getting sidetracked by various things, so the day's absence will be no matter of more than minor consternation.
Edgeworth: Heh... I do wonder where I'll sleep for the night, however. I have my doubts that mere pocket change will cover lodging.
Althea: Not unless you're willing to sleep on the floor, certainly.
Edgeworth recoils. "Most certainly not!"
Althea: My own arrangements for accommodations are unfortunately not easily shared.
Althea: There's simply nothing for it, then; I'll have to burden you further with my altruism. A few nights at an inn is no strain on my finances, anyway.
Althea: I'd imagine you'll be wanting a change of clothes as well, for that matter.
Edgeworth makes a sweeping bow. "Indeed. I hope that what you learn proves to be worth the investment."
Althea chuckles slightly. "Though I do have to wonder what would be made of my trying to sneak you into my dormitory room."
Edgeworth only looks confused.
Althea shakes her head. "Nevermind."
Althea looks critically at Edgeworth's attire. "Mind, it might take a bit of time, and some expense, to reproduce such an elaborate... outfit."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "It's rather expensive in my own world as well, so I would expect no less."
Althea rubs her forehead slightly with two fingers. "Yes, of course. At least it's only mundane materials..."
Edgeworth: She must have an unusual definition of "mundane", not that I'm entirely surprised in this context.

There's a slight shift in the crowd's positioning and demeanor, including a few excited cries by children.

Althea: Looks like it's time.
Edgeworth looks up and over to the track...

Sure enough, a very train-like vehicle flies along the track at a speed reminiscent of a car at city speeds, only to slow to a stop as it pulls into the station. Notable differences include the semicircle of lightning that arcs over the top half of the apparent engine and the smaller conductor-stone-like inverted pyramids on the bottom of the hovering vehicle. When the lightning rail finally halts, the rhythmic snapping of lightning arcs jumping from stone to stone gives way to a cracking hum. Where a whistle might have been expected, the arc above the train emits a loud, melodic buzz.

Edgeworth stares in rather obvious shock.
Althea turns to Edgeworth once passengers start to disembark from the train. "It certainly is something to behold."
Edgeworth: ...Indeed.
Edgeworth: I'm not sure whether I'm more stunned by the differences or the similarities...
Edgeworth takes a breath, regathering his composure. "While we've found means by which to harness electricity, it's nothing like this."
Althea: So I gathered. Indeed, it's not exactly trivial harnessing it like this; I noted the reasons for a natural House monopoly here.
Edgeworth nods. "That you did."
Althea: Not to mention Zilargo's about the only place you're liable to find anyone who can bind elementals in the first place.
Althea: I am of course curious about the methods used in your world, but questions like that can wait until you've acclimated.
Edgeworth puts a finger to his temple. "This 'binding' is accomplished with... Khyber dragonshards, I believe you called them?"
Althea nods. "Hence the rather significant interest in finding ready supplies."
Edgeworth grins. "I look forward to the moment when I get to have the full experience."
Edgeworth: While they still exist, trains have been largely displaced by personal vehicles where I'm from.
Althea: Oh? It sounds like you come from quite the affluent society overall.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. "A car is a major purchase, but as our engines don't rely on specific rare components to be built in the first place, they're still relatively common."
Althea nods. "Fair enough. Lack of scarcity does drive down the value of even those things once considered decadent."
Edgeworth: The primary limiting factor lies in maintenance, primarily refueling. They must be regularly "fed", in a sense.
Edgeworth: That sense is more akin to maintaining a supply of wood for a fire than feeding a horse, however.
Althea nods. "I would presume they also represent some amount of storage burden, and need to be looked after in other ways..."
Edgeworth nods. "Indeed. They prove particularly difficult to store in older cities that date to before their invention."
Althea: More personal forms of transport do exist here, beyond mounts, but I would venture to guess that purely mechanical solutions could not easily be as compact as some of the options here.
Edgeworth: Attempts exist, but they come with significant safety tradeoffs and thus aren't favored by most.
Althea nods. "It's mostly adventurers who are likely to favor such things. I actually have a flying broom myself, though that's not really much for comfort. Having some way of flying is kind of important back in Sharn, at any rate."
Edgeworth peers at Althea, then rubs his forehead. Next she'll be saying that there are flying carpets as well, or pegasi perhaps.
Althea shrugs. "It's not that difficult once you get the hang of it. ...even if that did take rather a while..."
Althea: It's actually pretty handy having something that general, anyway; an item that relied on the connection to Syrania wouldn't do me much good outside Sharn.
Althea: There are of course other options, but most people rely on the skycoaches to fly around Sharn.
Edgeworth: Er, is flight such a commonplace thing there?
Althea: Oh, quite; the entire city is manifest to Syrania.
Edgeworth stares blankly at Althea.
Althea: ...right, we still haven't really covered all that much basic planar cosmology yet...
Althea: Firstly, at the most basic level... I mentioned that there are a number of other planes of existence that orbit the Material Plane within the Astral Plane, right?
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "You did."
Althea: Right. Firstly, 'distance' is not quite the same conceptually in the Astral Plane as it is within the Material Plane.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow.
Althea: As the planes orbit the Material Plane, they become variously 'closer to' or 'further from' the Material Plane as a whole. When they are 'closest' we say that they are coterminous, and when they are 'furthest' we say that they are remote. Both those conditions have noticeable effects on the Material Plane.
Althea: However, separate from this 'distance' from the Material Plane as a whole, some planes are also inherently 'closer' to certain specific locations within the Material Plane.
Edgeworth: How does that make any sort of logical sense?
Althea: We call locations with a particular 'closeness' to another plane manifest zones.
Althea: Such locations take on some mixture of the properties of the Material Plane and the plane to which the location is manifest. The exact nature of that mixture depends on the zone itself and sometimes on the 'distance' of the plane to the Material Plane overall.
Althea: Sharn itself is manifest to Syrania, the Azure Sky, which is a plane of endless skies, full of floating cities, and inhabited by angels. Its energies are compatible with good and antithetical to evil.
Edgeworth does his best to maintain his patience, given the circumstances.
Althea: Sharn's zone mostly benefits from the unusual air properties of the plane, which allows greater ease in flight, as well as enabling architecture which would be difficult to maintain anywhere else.
Edgeworth: Huh...
Althea: Sharn is known as the City of Towers for good reason. Some of the towers are nearly a mile in height, and some of the city floats above the towers. Towers are also built atop each other, due to the unusual way in which the spells keeping them afloat reinforce each other.
Edgeworth glances aside, uncomfortable. "I see..."
Edgeworth: I would imagine there to be a large number of elevators as well...
Edgeworth: I wonder if I'll have the chance to visit one of these so-called "manifest zones" for myself... though preferably not this "Sharn" she speaks of.
Althea: The city is divided into several sections vertically.
Althea: I tend to spend most of my time in Upper, specifically Upper Menthis, as that's where the university is located.
Edgeworth: Ah. Er, is that the part that floats?
Althea: No, that'd be the Skyway, just above Upper. Just under is Middle, then Lower, then the Cogs.
Edgeworth nods uneasily. The vertical aspect of the city must indeed be rather significant to call for such categorization...
Edgeworth: What are these "Cogs"?
Althea: The Cogs are the underground portions of the city. A couple industrial districts are down there, and a goblin residential district in the middle called Khyber's Gate. And the city sewers are beneath those.
Edgeworth: Magically-assisted or not, they must be very architecturally confident and skilled to either build atop a cavern complex or dig one beneath a city.
Edgeworth nods.
Althea: I'm sure it'd come as little surprise that the affluence of the districts scales with the altitude.
Edgeworth winces somewhat. "Not particularly, no."
Edgeworth shakes his head, then looks to an elevated analog clock nearby. He then takes out his organizer and pen, compares the time on the clock to that on his similarly-analog watch, then writes something down.
Althea frowns. "It occurs to me to wonder whether our forms of measuring time are compatible. You seem to have analogous terms, but I suppose you and perhaps your timepiece would best judge whether they are truly equivalent."
Edgeworth repockets his organizer and pen, then begins using a tiny dial on the side of his watch to adjust it to match. "Given the speed at which each timepiece is progressing as well as the way outdoor shadows have shifted over time, that appears to be the case, at least up to the daily scale."
Edgeworth: I suppose in this one respect, I'm fortunate.
Althea: I don't know, it seems to me like there are a remarkable number of similarities between what you're accustomed to and what occurs here. Certainly enough to provide considerable common ground for discussing the differences.
Althea: Your own realm of existence, whatever its full nature may be, sounds far more similar to Eberron and the Material Plane as we know it than any of the orbiting planes, certainly.
Edgeworth: One would think that the rotational speed of your planet — or the velocity of your sun, should that be how matters work here — isn't something that would necessarily match.
Althea: We don't really know for sure whether the sun orbits Eberron or not... Many scholars are inclined to believe it does not, though the reason has less to do with our understanding of physics, and more to do with the interconnecting influences of the energies of the planes...
Althea: There is a continuous reoccurrence throughout existence as we know it, of a particular number, or perhaps pairing of numbers: Twelve and One.
Althea: Or perhaps more appropriately in many cases, Thirteen Less One...
Edgeworth appears dubious.
Althea: There are thirteen planes which orbit the Material Plane within the Astral, save one: Dal Quor, whose orbit has been severed. Manifest zones exist for all such planes except that one.
Althea: There have been, over the course of history, thirteen true dragonmarks appearing within family lines.
Althea: The Mark of Death no longer exists. It was borne by an elven house, House Vol, which was completely wiped out twenty-six hundred years ago by the combined forces of Aerenal and Argonnessen after a half-breed with a functioning mark appeared within it.
Althea: Twelve moons circle Eberron within the Material Plane. There is some historical evidence that in ancient times, there might have been a thirteenth.
Althea: Moreover, each moon is believed to have ties to the energies of one of the other planes, with Dal Quor conspicuously missing.
Althea shrugs. "The sun could be a different kind of orbiting body, but it seems unlikely for it to be connected to Dal Quor, and an additional moon existing as well would seem to break the pattern."
Althea: ...then again, the existence of some single 'exception' set apart from the rest might also be something of a pattern as well, I suppose... Perhaps wherever it is you are from is also some kind of 'extra' plane or plane-like occurrence in a similar pattern... Though if the sun is to be viewed as an exception, it wouldn't necessarily follow which would orbit the other; being reversed could make as much sense that way.
Edgeworth: This world seems to be one with more questions than answers...
Edgeworth: I suppose that if you've never heard of planets prior to my arrival, that suggests that you lack any reference points from which to deduce the difference in the same way we did.
Edgeworth shrugs. "It is because Earth is not alone in the solar system that we were able to discover that it and the other planets nearby revolve around the Sun — though since this contradicted the assertions made by a powerful religion, that discovery led to one of the more famous examples of conflict between science and religion."
Althea: I figured it might be something like that, since you had a ready and familiar word to categorically distinguish places like Eberron from each other, yet no knowledge or appreciation of other planes...
Edgeworth half-frowns and glances aside. "It is true that Earth is more like Eberron than like the other planets in the solar system, however. None of the others possess life as we know it or the capacity to support it."
Althea: Hmm. I'm somewhat curious as to how precisely you came about such knowledge, but again, such matters can wait.
Edgeworth: Unfortunately, I only know so much about astronomy.
Althea: ...ah. I suppose I should have considered that as well. A member of a society may well be imparted much of its general knowledge without being aware of the full measure of its basis or discovery...
Althea sounds slightly disappointed.
Edgeworth: I do know that it began with simply pointing telescopes at the skies and expanded from there to more powerful instruments capable of interpreting more forms of energy than visible light, as well as sending probes into space and putting especially powerful telescopes into orbit around the Earth. That, however, is the extent of my understanding of the methods used.
Edgeworth: My own focus is far more local in scope.
Althea: I see. So it's as simple a matter for one of your machines to traverse the realm beyond the skies as to simply fly beyond them? At the least, it sounds like you would know of no other way to traverse such distances than the most direct means...
Althea looks puzzled suddenly.
Edgeworth: I wouldn't characterize escaping the Earth's gravity to the extent necessary as "simple", but that is the basic idea, yes. ...Is something the matter?
Althea: Just that earlier, you seemed rather skeptical about our having means of flight...

The lightning rail begins to move again, slowly making its way through a wide loop in the track.

Edgeworth looks up at the train. "Apparently, we've achieved very different sorts of flight than you through our starkly divergent resources and methods."
Edgeworth: We couldn't cause a broom to fly, of all things, but we've come to an understanding of how birds accomplish it, as well as ways to propel objects so high that they escape the gravity well of a planet or moon.
Althea: Gravity... 'well'...?
Edgeworth: I don't understand the mechanics behind it, but gravity can only reach so far depending on the mass of an object.
Edgeworth watches the lightning rail as it makes its way towards the main track.
Althea: So if you fly high enough, you simply won't fall anymore?
Edgeworth: Precisely — though by then, one has left air itself behind.
Althea: I see. That would preclude people traversing such a boundary. Except warforged, I suppose.
Althea: An elemental vessel might in theory be able to traverse it, but who could possibly control it while doing so...?
Edgeworth: Where I'm from, it's been done with specialized vehicles, though it's an extraordinarily impractical endeavor. Mankind has gone no farther than the moon and back.
Althea: Which m— ah, right, of course. Hmm... curious.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. "I imagine that manned space exploration will reach no further until such time as we devise better methods."
Althea: You did say the other 'planets' don't support life, but what of this moon?
Edgeworth: It, too, is little more than a lifeless stone.
Edgeworth: The men who walked upon it were clad in airtight suits with tanks of air to breathe attached.

By now, the lightning rail is gradually vanishing from sight at its full speed.

Althea: I see. So you adapt your equipment to provide for the needs your environment does not. That's not an entirely unknown matter here, though I would imagine the means differ greatly.
Althea: Certainly, people may require some amount of assistance to be able to survive for long in some planes, for instance.
Edgeworth: Hmm.
Edgeworth: Anyway, the other planets also have different rotational speeds and orbit the sun at differing rates, hence my finding time up to the daily scale to match between our worlds to be extraordinarily convenient.
Althea: Hmm. That is a noteworthy coincidence, assuming it's not in fact directly connected in any way to both our worlds supporting life and having such substantial similarities between them in terms of what has come to exist...
Edgeworth looks thoughtful. "I have my doubts that it would need to be exact."
Edgeworth: A difference of an hour or two in either direction would probably cause minimal change.
Althea shrugs. "Difficult to know without more points of reference."
Edgeworth grins. "Indeed."
Edgeworth looks back the way they came. "We've tarried here for quite some time. Shall we see about my accommodations?"
Althea nods. "That may be best."

The two of them make their way to a tailor shop. Though Edgeworth's eyes roam the store, ultimately they stick to business and have him measured and his blazer and vest examined more closely. Once the tailor has identified fabrics both similar to those in his suit and acceptable to Edgeworth, the gnome sets to work; the pair of them then make their way not directly to an inn, but back to the campus of the Library of Korranberg...

Edgeworth looks over to Althea with a half-frown. "I thought you'd said that I would need a room at an inn."
Althea: Indeed. But there are still some things you should probably observe for yourself, and this is the most opportune time for one of them.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow. "Do tell."
Althea: It's probably best to see it first. I'll explain the details afterward.
Edgeworth: Hrm...
Edgeworth: Something that must be seen to be believed, perhaps?
Edgeworth shrugs and follows Althea.

After a small amount of searching, Althea finds a halfling in the process of setting up a platform taller than himself next to what looks like some sort of unlit streetlight.

Edgeworth touches the side of his head as he observes this. "Is it his intent to light that?"
Althea: That would be correct.
The halfling unfolds a stepladder and sets it up in order to climb up onto the platform.
Edgeworth frowns. It seems terribly inconvenient to design streetlights such that those in charge of igniting them would need to use ladders.
Edgeworth: For what reason were these not designed to be possible to activate from a lower altitude?
Althea: This is the oldest part of the city, so these lanterns have been around a long time. The resources of the time served to limit options.
Edgeworth: I see...
The halfling pulls out a pouch and begins placing what seem to be small dead winged insects in a circle around him on the platform.
Edgeworth stares in bewilderment.

The halfling begins sprinkling what looks to be bright greenish moldy bark along the same circle outlined by the insects. He then spends over a minute sprinking more of the mold in odd patterns just inside the circle, before beginning to inspect his work.

Edgeworth: Given the patterns so far, I have all too clear a hunch concerning where this is going...

The halfling eventually appears satisfied; he pours a bit more of the mold into the palm of his right hand, places another insect on top, and begins to chant while making elaborate gestures with his free hand. It takes an entire minute for this spell to be cast in full, but when it is, all the insects and mold set up and held by the halfling evaporate suddenly in a green glimmer, which coalesces around his right hand. At this point, he steps forward and stands on tiptoe in order to touch the tiny pinkish gem with red swirls inside that's sitting where a light bulb might be in an Earth streetlight. Quite suddenly, it blossoms with white light.

Edgeworth grits his teeth briefly, then sighs with frustration and helplessness.
Althea: I believe you've now witnessed your first full ritual casting of arcane magic.
Althea: Atop these lampposts is what is known as an everbright lantern. The enchantment carried by both the Eberron dragonshard and its surrounding material amplifies simple light magic, extending it significantly in both potency and duration.
Edgeworth: ...I see. Does arcane magic normally require such an elaborate procedure?
Edgeworth's question is clearly hesitant.
Althea: That depends on the nature of the caster and their situation. Arcane magic can be used without such a ritual, based either on prior preparation or the expenditure of one's own reserves of magical power.
Edgeworth considers this with a serious expression. Dil also spoke of the need for preparation.
Althea: At some point if we're to discuss arcane magic in detail, we'll need to cover the difference between the major approaches to it; predominantly, the distinction between wizards and sorcerers.
Edgeworth: I, er, suppose it's unsurprising that those would be specific technical terms in a place such as this.
The halfling takes down the platform and stepladder and moves on to another lantern.
Althea: A wizard practices a more breadth-oriented approach to arcane magic. They learn a great many spells, but to be able to perform them without a full ritual like you just witnessed, they need to prepare each spell ahead of time from their spellbook as part of a daily ritual.
Althea: A sorcerer takes a more specialized approach, sacrificing variety for spontaneity; they focus on learning fewer spells, but those they master are at their disposal for as long as they still have enough magical reserves to cast them.
Edgeworth: Huh...
Edgeworth: I must admit, that sounds like a closer match to them than these "wizards"...
Edgeworth looks disgusted with himself. Why am I even considering this?
Althea: Those who light the lanterns here are known as magewrights; people who have mastered the fundamentals of arcanism, but haven't set down either of the major paths of study. Some of them are students aspiring to one or the other, while others may lack either the talents or the aspiration to pursue those disciplines, but wish to avail themselves of the still significant utility afforded by the basic arcane arts.
Edgeworth: Hmm...
Edgeworth: Fiction normally refers to such individuals as apprentices, I thought. Of course, if that sort of expertise isn't necessarily regarded as incomplete, it's understandable that the terminology would differ.
Althea: Both scrolls and rituals serve as means to either extend the capabilities of the more advanced arcanists, or to enable those less capable.
Althea: Ritual magic has a great number of disadvantages in being a time-consuming, material-consuming and delicate process, as well as potentially risky for spells you aren't ready to cast by other means in the first place.
Edgeworth: So it appeared.
Althea: It does have the primary advantages of not requiring expending your own personal magical resources, and of being a repeatable, consistent process.
Althea: Scrolls are a lot more convenient, being quick to cast and requiring only basic understanding of how to cast spells of that type and difficulty generally.
Althea: They are, however, more expensive to produce than rituals are to fuel, and are single-use.
Edgeworth: Indeed, it was hard not to notice that last point when Dil used one.
Althea: Divine magic does have ritual magic possibilities, but ironically it's seen as more advanced and much less common than the more typical forms of prepared spellcasting.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow.
Althea: It's also usually steeped in the lore of the practitioner's religion, so I'm not sure I could recommend such an approach for you.
Edgeworth frowns. "Most likely not."
Edgeworth: I imagine that setting up a ritual casting such as that would disturb a crime scene as well...
Althea: Scrolls are a definite option, though, and the Foundation sells a number of scrolls of useful divine spells.
Althea: Oh, incidentally, those at a more fundamental level in divine casting practice are usually called adepts. Though you've already shown capabilities that extend beyond what is typically mastered by adepts.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Is that why my mere presence garnered such an uncomfortable amount of direct attention?"
Althea: That is a part of it. Clerics are not rare per se, but neither are they at all a common occurrence even among the devout of a faith. That you should stumble by accident upon such a calling as someone who denounces religion altogether... I believe that makes you a rare case indeed.
Edgeworth taps his finger, frowning. "It certainly exudes irony."
Althea: Mm. Part of why I felt Dil would appreciate talking with you. I... still haven't explained the Traveler, have I? It... might be best to at least go over the basics so you know something of how religions are regarded here...
Edgeworth hesitates, then sighs in frustration and raises one hand to his forehead to rub it. "Under the circumstances, I can't see that I have any choice but to hear an overview."
Althea nods. "To begin with, the majority religion for Khorvaire is belief in the Sovereign Host, a pantheon of nine deities. While some people favor one of the deities over the others, doctrine emphasizes the importance of all of them."
Althea: Arawai is associated with fertility, flora, and abundance. Aureon with lore, magic, and law. Balinor with hunting and fauna. Boldrei with community and family. Dol Arrah with combat, self-sacrifice and sunlight. Dol Dorn with strength and martial arts. Kol Korran with trade and currency. Olladra with luck and plenty. Onatar with crafts, industry and fire.
Edgeworth shakes his head at the mention of Aureon. Does that mean I'll often have to contend with religious fanatics in my work?
Althea: There are some followers of Aureon among the Foundation; not all Vassals consider such endeavors troubling.
Edgeworth looks slightly relieved at that. "I see."
Althea: Connected with said pantheon are a number of other deities referred to as the Dark Six.
Edgeworth: The antagonists of those myths, perhaps?
Althea: Just as most in Khorvaire revere the Host, most have a dim view of the Six and their followers. Also, reverence of only a single deity is far more common among followers of the Six.
Althea: The Devourer is associated with the destructive force of nature; the Fury with extremes of passion approaching madness; the Keeper with death and decay; the Mockery with treachery; the Shadow with dark magic and corruption; the Traveler with deception and cunning.
Edgeworth's expression darkens at the summation of the Traveler.
Althea: Of those, the Traveler is something of an odd one out; he has no real connection with the others, and is the only one not considered to be outright evil.
Althea: He's probably the only really particularly nuanced member of the Six. He's referred to as the Sovereign of Chaos and Change, and is credited with both creation and destruction.
Althea: He's also the only deity of either pantheon actually believed to have walked the face of Eberron, albeit always in one of countless disguises.
Edgeworth: Hrm...
Althea: He's sometimes called the Giver of Gifts, but you can expect any boon from him to be double-edged in some way...
Edgeworth: I cannot say that any of this makes him sound like a particularly trustworthy character or his followers seem likely to be better.
Althea: He tends to be favored primarily by shifters and changelings.
Althea: The next most common religion you'd likely encounter is the Church of the Silver Flame.
Althea: It has some origins with the followers of Dol Arrah, precisely how much or little a matter of contention, but suffice to say it is best regarded as an entirely separate entity.
Althea: The focus of the Church of the Silver Flame is the eradication of evil.
Edgeworth: A crusading religion, then?
Althea: Yes. They even refer to themselves as "purified"...
Althea: ...Frankly, sometimes some of them scare me more than some of the followers of the actually-evil members of the Six...
Althea shakes her head.
Althea: The Church governs the country of Thrane.
Edgeworth glowers. "I can't help but be reminded of some of my own world's more destructively prominent religions already."
Althea: Another religion that may well come up at the Foundation is the Blood of Vol. It's one of the more obscure faiths, at least outside Karrnath, and is hard to get a lot of solid info about, but it's basically centered on escaping death through becoming divine oneself.
Althea: Most followers, if they believe in other gods at all, see them as oppressors.
Edgeworth puts a finger to his temple. "One can easily see why the Archival Foundation's work might appeal to people like them."
Althea nods.
Althea: The Cults of the Dragon Below may come up from time to time. My understanding is that they variously commune with or seek to unseal powers sealed within Eberron; that is to say, underground, in what's considered to be the realm of Khyber.
Edgeworth: Hrm...
Althea: Some of those are fiends from an ancient war long ago, when Xoriat, the Realm of Madness, became coterminous with Eberron, and inhabitants of that plane attempted to invade.
Edgeworth peers at Althea. She speaks as though that were mere history.
Althea: They were bound within Khyber by an Orcish druidic sect known as the Gatekeepers.
Althea: They're dedicated to protecting Eberron from aberrations and outsiders.
Edgeworth appears puzzled. If not for one of her previous statements, I would assume that to be mere prejudice...
Althea: Druidic magic is significantly different from typical divine magic, and the practitioners are fairly secretive, so even the Foundation has little insight on it.
Althea: Other major druidic sects include the Wardens of the Wood, the Ashbound, the Children of Winter and the Greensingers...
Althea: Of those, the Ashbound are known for being fairly extremist in their protection of nature...
Althea: They tend to see magic, both divine and arcane, as an affront to nature, and have been known to attack farms and ranches. They generally avoid going so far as killing, though.
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! Did you not just define druids as a sort of spellcaster themselves?!
Althea chuckles slightly while shaking her head. "Suffice to say they don't see it that way. There are significant differences between druidic magic and even divine magic, and legend has it the Gatekeepers themselves were taught such skills by a black dragon in order to defend our world from the prophesied invasion. So they perceive no contradiction there."
Edgeworth: Hmph.
Edgeworth: I suppose that without a deeper understanding of druidic magic, one can't know how hypocritical they truly are...
Althea: The Children of Winter believe that it is proper and natural for only the strong to survive, and seek to cleanse the world through blight, disease and cold...
Edgeworth: I can't help but be reminded of a certain informal philosophy inspired by a particular scientist's work.
Althea: The Greensingers celebrate the wild and capricious nature of the fey. They're an interesting if relatively harmless bunch.
Althea: The Wardens of the Wood are the largest and best known sect today. They mostly protect significant natural spaces, primarily the plains and forests of the Eldeen Reaches.
Edgeworth: Where are these "Eldeen Reaches"?
Althea: To the north of here. In particular, west of Aundair and north of Droaam.
Althea: Breland shares a small border with it as well, out near Lake Galifar.
Edgeworth: I suppose I ought to study a map of the continent or the world at some point.
Althea takes off her backpack and rummages through it. "I've got one here, though I'll need it back."
Althea pulls out and hands over a folded map of Khorvaire.
Edgeworth grins, bows, and finally accepts and unfolds the map. He half-frowns at the still-unfamiliar script, then kneels down so that Althea can point things out.
Althea: Korranberg's down here in the southeast corner of Zilargo. Sharn's over here, just past the southwestern border. This whole area up and around is Breland, then Thrane to the northeast and Aundair to the north. The Eldeen Reaches are across the lake here, the Demon Wastes up past them to the northwest. Out west from Breland is Droaam, and west of that the Shadow Marches. I mentioned Darguun to the east of Zilargo; the Mournland stretches up north of that, cutting the continent mostly in half.
Althea: East of the Mournland you have the Talenta Plains in the center, Karrnath up north and northwest, the Mror Holds to the northeast, Q'Barra to the southeast, and Valenar to the south. Way out in the furthest east stretch the Lhazaar Principalities.
Althea: I don't have any maps covering the rest of the continents on me, though.
Edgeworth: I would be rather surprised if I had the opportunity to roam that far prior to learning of a way home...
Althea: Let's see... you'll probably also encounter some mention of the Undying Court within the Foundation. That's pretty much an elven thing, centered in Aerenal; rather than gods, the Undying Court is made up of "deathless" elves.
Althea: Deathless are a sort of opposite of the undead, animated by positive energy.
Edgeworth looks up from the map, bewildered.
Althea: Turning abilities even work on them, exactly reversed as to which effects positive and negative versions have, incidentally.
Althea: At any rate, modern descendants may seek counsel or petition favor from their ancestors among the Court.
Edgeworth: Huh...
Althea: There's also the Path of Light and Path of Inspiration, both of Sarlonan origin. They're pretty obscure so you aren't too likely to run into them. Probably not something you want to get involved with even if you do, honestly, for reasons that are a bit complicated.
Althea: Best not to get into the details, but just trust me, you want to stay away from the Path of Inspiration altogether. The Path of Light's more of a problem due to its enemies.
Edgeworth frowns at that. What truth could be quite that dangerous?
Althea: Anyway, there are others, but those are the most significant.
Althea: Though getting back to the point that prompted this run-down in the first place, you did note the irony inherent in the situation.
Edgeworth hands Althea her map back and stands. "Indeed."
Althea: That's the kind of thing a follower of the Traveler will appreciate very well.
Althea: In some ways, I'd say he represents the god of contradiction.
Edgeworth rubs his temple. "Is that so..."
Althea: There's a good deal of wisdom to be gleaned from the ways of his followers, I've found. Through trickery and misdirection, they challenge one to be more honest with oneself.
Althea: At least, that's how I see it.
Edgeworth: Hrm...
Edgeworth: I suppose I can't say that I don't understand such an approach.
Althea: You may in time learn a lot from Dil, even if you don't always enjoy the lessons.
Althea shrugs.
Edgeworth: Are we not leaving as soon as your research here is complete?
Althea: That will still require at least three weeks, possibly closer to a month. I think you should avail yourself of what training opportunities you can in that time.
Edgeworth looks mildly awkward. "That would seem to be the best course." Whether I find that course comfortable or not.
Althea: ...It's pretty late. We should see about getting you a room.
Edgeworth nods. "Indeed."
Althea: I will have matters to attend to in the morning, but I'll be along to find you before noon.
Edgeworth: Very well. Do you have an inn near the Archival Foundation in mind?
Althea: Probably best to refer to the location here as the Korranberg Archive, specifically. And it would be best to stick to a Ghallanda Inn, they'll be best equipped to accommodate non-gnomish visitors.
Edgeworth nods. "Very well."
Althea: I believe there's one not far from the Paper Market.
Edgeworth grins. "Very well, then. Shall we be off?"
Althea nods and turns back along the path.
Edgeworth follows Althea.

The two of them make their way through the now-lantern-lit streets as the sky grows dark enough for the Ring of Siberys to be highly prominent and moons at various lunar phases to dot the sky. The lanterns outside of the library quarter are slightly dimmer than everbright lanterns and feature occasional flickers of indigo or wine-red, but they still do the job well, and there's a distinct lack of the unease Edgeworth is used to seeing in people wandering the streets at night.

Eventually, Althea's guidance leads to a building with a canine crest hanging out front. The halflings within pleasantly accept Althea's coin and explanation of the situation and lead Edgeworth to his room for the night.

A cluster of three full moons — Lharvion, Barrakas, and Rhaan — rises above Korranberg's skyline, shedding their light silently...