Your past is represented by the Moon. It can mean fear or bewilderment, or signify that you have been misrepresenting the truth.
Your present is shown by the Hanged Man. You are taking time to reflect on what you're doing.
What will aid you is the energy of the High Priestess. The Priestess senses the hidden, the potential, what's out there.
You are hindered by the Hermit. This is interesting because the Hermit and the High Priestess are similar cards. While the Hermit seeks solitude, however, the Priestess is open to the world and its mystery.
The attitudes of others are shown by the Page of Cups. They are intuitive, reacting to their emotions.
Your actions are shown by the Four of Pentacles. This card shows the impossibility of stopping change. You may want to control your path to something safer, but it simply cannot be done.
Finally, the outcome is represented by the Four of Cups. Where the High Priestess is a card of understanding the world and those around you, the Four of Cups is a card of understanding yourself.
Edgeworth finds himself at the top of the outdoor steps of the courthouse, but it sits alone in a blasted wasteland beneath a skyless void. In his right hand is a shortsword, while his left wrist has a golden chain wrapped around it, from which dangles a larger version of his badge. Not far from the bottom of the steps, a dark-grey-robed woman who looks like a well-preserved walking corpse and has a visible old sword wound through the middle of her torso is cackling. She's surrounded by spectres, shadows, wraiths, and ghosts, most of which look eager to attack.
Edgeworth hefts the sword with one hand, clearly disturbed through his gritted teeth and glare.
Edgeworth: I won't allow you to make a mockery of this place again!
The lich laughs mockingly. "Haven't you done your share of that as well?"
Edgeworth: Grrnnngh... Unlike you, I came to an appreciation of how to do my job properly — how to enable the truth to come to light!
Lich: Even if that were completely true, does that really make up for your past?!
Some of the apparitions surrounding the lich chime in: "You were all too happy to cooperate if it helped your case; remember?" "You should have known I wouldn't have made that mistake." "You learned as well as I'd hoped, boy."
Edgeworth swallows uneasily at that final, deep-voiced assertion.
Edgeworth shakes his head and glares straight at the lich. "The past cannot be changed! To simply proceed along a better path upon realizing the error of one's ways is all that can be done!"
Another of the lich's entourage pipes up: "OBJECTION! I can testify to the fact that you haven't changed enough! You won't admit that you've seen me help Phoenix!"
Edgeworth begins to look nervous. "B-but that was a ruse! I-it had to be..."
Lich: If none of it was real, then how do you explain how I died?!
Edgeworth: Er, well, th-that is —
Lich: You'd just rather see me as the criminal than him!
Edgeworth's eyes widen with panic as a male shade is seemingly forced to the front with a wave of the lich's hand.
"I'm sorry, Miles."
Edgeworth grits his teeth and forces his attention back onto the lich. "OBJECTION! This is... this is...!"
The lich tilts her head. "Coercion? Or are you afraid to consider that much?"
Edgeworth recoils. "Grrnk!"
The lich waves a hand forward, prompting the mass of incorporeal undead to fly up the staircase at him. "Let's see how far you're willing to go!"
Edgeworth panics and slices at a redheaded ghost and her burly aide to no avail — the sword simply passes through.
"Hmph. Didn't I already say that there's nothing that can be done to punish the dead?"
A calm voice rings out within Edgeworth's head. I'm not entirely sure what's supposed to be going on right now, but I think it might be best to point out a couple things: one, this is in fact a dream, and two, none of these... people are at all likely to be who they appear to be...
Edgeworth blinks. "Wh-what the...?"
Edgeworth looks around for Althea in confusion, though finds it difficult while dodging attacks.
The lich can be heard cackling in the background.
Althea: I'm not actually here; this is your dream. I'm just witness to it for reasons I can't get into at the moment. If you weren't already tapped out from practice I'd suggest you try turning them... If I think of anything else I'll try to let you know.
Edgeworth: I fail to see how that fact would be of any consequence in the context of a dream.
Edgeworth cries out as he's raked by two of the creatures assaulting him thanks to his divided attention. He falls to his knees and the sword clatters to the concrete as he finds even staying on his hands and knees to be a feat of strength now.
Edgeworth grabs the symbol dangling from his left wrist with that hand and begins to raise it...
Lich: You fool! If you make use of that, we've already won!
Edgeworth hesitates... then looks to the lich with a rather hostile smirk. "That's not true — nor, for that matter, are you!"
Edgeworth: You're either a very poor actress or see echoing my fears as more important than playing the role you've taken on.
Lich: What nonsense!
Edgeworth: Furthermore! Concerning those fears, lest I forget, the true winner of a debate must not be any individual — rather, it must be the truth!
Edgeworth: While it is true that to use this in such a situation would be to acknowledge the purpose ascribed to it and all that implies, if all that is true, is that not my duty?!
Edgeworth struggles to raise the oversized badge-on-a-chain above his head, but once he does, pale blue light radiates from it to encompass the area. The ghosts scream and dissipate...
The lich shields her eyes, her form melting away to reveal a grotesque creature resembling a black-and-pink snake with a multi-eyed brain for a head and arms ending in crab pincers branching off of said head.
Edgeworth collapses to the concrete, clutching his head and trembling with pain...
Althea: That one's real. A tsucora quori. They inhabit this plane and feed on dreamers' fears.
Edgeworth seems to be in too much pain to do more than open his eyes and look around at Althea's comment.
The tsucora slithers towards the ramp at the side of the stairs up...
Althea's voice resonates within the quori this time. It's too late. All illusion has been cast away. He knows what you are and what you want. You will get nothing more out of this.
At the same time, the ramp suddenly becomes more stairs, almost as though to emphasize the point.
The tsucora hisses.
Edgeworth manages to look smug even through his agony for a few seconds before collapsing face-first.
The entire scene begins to waver, and the quori falls out as though the ground had lost its substance...
Althea awakens rather suddenly, sitting up and looking around a small dorm room from the lower bunk, trying to get her bearings. A female kobold looks over from a seat at a small table and shakes her head, appearing somewhat amused.
Tikra: Do you ever sleep without such interruptions, seer?
Althea looks over to the table. "At home, on occasion, I do; I think circumstances are conspiring to prevent such things while I'm here."
Althea sits up on the edge of the bed, reaching for her glasses, a book, and a pen from a small endtable, opens the book and begins scribbling furiously in it, even as she continues talking.
Althea: This time at least, it was a matter I am not so far removed from as to make the knowledge useless.
Althea: The human I briefly mentioned last night got targetted by a quori... Somehow I ended up witnessing the whole thing, so I could at least psychically warn him.
Tikra shakes her head. "I gather from the rather fantastic tale you presented, that he was unfamiliar with and ill-equipped to handle such threats..."
Althea: Yes. In all the breadth of topics covered, I'm afraid I neglected to mention the dangers of nightmares. It may be lucky that I intervened as I did; were he to have discovered that quori's true nature on his own, I don't know what might have come from such a confrontation.
Althea: As it was, it seemed to have spun a rather elaborate ruse from the more troubling elements of his own past, and at first he was disturbed and panicked enough to react as was desired. Once he got his wits about him, though, he immediately started to see through the farce; I have to admit, he has some incredibly sharp observational skills.
Tikra makes a disgusted sound. "Such memories are burden enough without being twisted by meddlers..."
Althea: He seems to be the type not to easily discuss such things, so I haven't and probably won't pry. I'm starting to piece together what I can, myself, but I can be certain of little more than that it involves some kind of 'sin' against his 'faith', the courts where he's from, and I think the dead, somehow... I've got a sneaking suspicion it involves magic as well, despite his insistence it doesn't exist where he's from...
Tikra snorts. "Because of it, you mean."
Althea grins. "It does seem a denial too fervent to be wholly credible. Certainly something about the very idea upsets him more deeply than simple offense at superstition."
Althea: Still, it's something he will need to come to terms with himself, in his own way. I get the feeling pursuing divine magic will eventually lead to that, anyway.
Tikra shakes her head again. "You do lead quite the strange life, seer."
Meanwhile, a fair distance away from the library district, in one of Korranberg's Ghallanda inns...
Edgeworth starts awake with a twitch and a small gasp.
Edgeworth rolls over, pulling the covers in closer. That nightmare grew remarkably strange near the end.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, I hadn't thought Althea to have made quite so strong an impression as to make an appearance in one, so to speak.
Edgeworth: Peculiarities aside, however, it is certainly true that I must accept that which is shown to be the truth... however personally trying that truth may be.
Edgeworth attempts to get back to sleep...
After getting another hour's fitful sleep, Edgeworth treats himself to a simple breakfast before heading back to the Korranberg Archive. As he's not used to the locale and lacks a map, he's careful and deliberate in making his way there, but he does eventually succeed.
Edgeworth steps into the first basement and takes in the current atmosphere. He frowns at some of the stares he earns.
Dil looks up from some absurdly elaborate-looking writing preparations on one of the tables and approaches Edgeworth. "Ah, good morning."
Edgeworth seems thoughtful for an instant at the greeting.
Dil: I'll be right back.
Dil heads downstairs for a few minutes, returning with the helmet from yesterday.
Edgeworth accepts the magical device and puts it on even as Dil casts his own spell.
Dil: There we are. I'll be too busy today to help with much until this evening, so the best thing to do for now would be to give you some basic reading material.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Hopefully you mean that."
Dil grins gently. "Oh, don't worry — there's no point in trying to make you grow faster than is possible."
Edgeworth: ...Very well.
Dil heads over to the bookshelves on the right side of the room and pulls out three tomes.
Edgeworth seats himself at an unoccupied table.
Dil sets each of the books down in turn. "This one is an overview of how different religions view both divine and arcane magic. The head of our Archive was the original author, actually. This next one explains the eight basic schools of magic — categories of effect instead of spellcasting styles."
Edgeworth: It's still difficult to believe that I'll be reading such things as I would any nonfiction...
Edgeworth: And the last?
Dil chuckles. "I went to the trouble of finding an elementary school Common textbook for you. It's meant for children who technically already speak it, but it should still help."
Edgeworth nods appreciatively, reaching for that book first. "Thank you."
Dil smiles, then returns to his elaborate setup. "I can't be disturbed while I'm scribing this scroll and it'll take several hours to do, but reading alone isn't too much to ask of you, is it?"
Edgeworth appears mildly insulted even as he opens the grammar textbook. "Most certainly not."
While Edgeworth occupies himself reading, Althea makes her way to another library where a number of students and researchers are gathered in various small groups. She makes her way to a table not too far from the entrance, occupied by a nearly middle-aged, tawny-haired female gnome with ice-blue eyes; a younger gnome girl slightly smaller than Althea herself, with pale silvery-blue hair and sapphire eyes; a male halfling about Althea's age with black hair and russet eyes, and a tall red-haired human with gray eyes.
Althea sits down at the group table, pulling out some sheets of paper. "Morning, what's up?"
The older gnome peers at Althea for a moment before sighing and shaking her head.
Berdmol: After that cryptic missive from yesterday, I'd think you'd be the one to answer that question.
The younger gnome smiles brightly.
Illyvalen: Hi Althea! I found a few more reports and we talked a bit about the next dig, but you didn't miss too much.
The halfling grins slightly and shakes his head in an exaggerated manner.
Nathaniel: I have to agree with Berdmol; if we must suffer through your absence, the least you can do is share the cause. What unexpected circumstances so suddenly befell you?
The human looks around the table briefly.
David: Not that I necessarily agree how much we all need to hear about this, but shouldn't it wait until everyone's here?
Althea shrugs. "I told Tikra about most of it last night."
Nathaniel: Then by all means, don't leave us in suspense.
Althea: I encountered a strange human on my way back from the market yesterday. He spoke no language I've ever heard, and a great many I haven't. Had I not had a suitable psionic power to breach that particular barrier, there may have been no way we could even communicate.
Illyvalen: Really?! Did you find out what his languages were?
Althea: His native language is something called "English." It's a strange language, sounds something like: "OBJECTION! You're contadicting yourself jest by sang that in this language!"
Illyvalen stares wide-eyed at Althea. "I don't even recognize any linguistic roots. Where is he from?"
Althea: That is an even greater mystery. He had no knowledge of planar cosmology or the astral plane itself. He called his home "Earth" and described it as a "planet." Apparently, it's some kind of Eberron-like body circling a sun within the material plane, or some other plane much like our material plane.
Berdmol: That... sounds pretty far-fetched.
David: Indeed. I think you may have been taken in by some sort of hoax.
Althea: Don't think I hadn't considered the possibility. However, there is ample evidence against any simple explanation for his situation, regardless of whether every detail he has provided is entirely true.
Berdmol: Such as?
Althea: For one thing, he seems to come from a world without magic, at least as we know it. In his unfamiliar environment, he managed to spontaneously make a botched turn attempt without trying or even apparently knowing such a thing was possible.
David shakes his head, looking skeptical.
Althea: He was later provoked into a repeat performance over at the Korranberg Archive. He's definitely an unusual case; he espouses belief in no religion of any kind, and was deeply troubled by the implication that having divine magic meant he had such beliefs. It took quite some time and effort to even begin to reconcile matters.
Berdmol: My, my, you do attract the weird ones, don't you?
Illyvalen: Did you find out what his beliefs were?
David: Really, an atheist cleric? What utter nonsense.
Nathaniel: But quite the story no matter what the truth of the matter is. So what did you learn about him?
Althea: It seems that his 'faith' ties in with his job as a prosecutor. He believes in "justice, the truth on which justice depends, and the rationality that allows us to uncover the truth."
David stares at Althea. "That's a religion?"
Illyvalen looks thoughtful.
Althea: So conflicted was he over the thought of his convictions being 'religious' that he feared he had found himself in a place where truth itself was something he could not count on. Much of yesterday was spent touring the city so that he could observe how people live here. Particularly how we utilize magic in our everyday lives.
Nathaniel: So that's what kept you scarce the whole day, then.
Althea: I spent quite some time explaining Zil culture, the Dragonmarked Houses, dragonshards, elemental vessels, warforged, Talenta halfling culture, planar cosmology and manifest zones, the nature of the sun and moons, geography, religions, the natures of arcane and divine magic, wizards versus sorcerers, ritual magic, scroll scribing...
Althea: Partway through this, he came to terms somewhat with his ideas on the implications of having divine magic, by defining it more in the context of faith than religion.
Illyvalen: That seems kinda weird...
Nathaniel: Perhaps not. After all, even an atheist may likely have faith in the falsehood of religions.
Althea: Mm, there's definitely some of that present, as thoughtful as he is on many subjects; the idea of even associating something he believes in with religion clearly frightens him with the sense that, if they can be so tied, they must be false...
Althea: Moreso magic troubles him, though he grudgingly accepts the evidence of its existence here. He insists it represents nothing but trickery and superstition in his world, though I get the sense that there's something a bit disingenuous about his denials.
An immediate response is forestalled as the kobold from earlier enters the library, provoking a few stares and murmurs, though the majority of those present seem to have little reaction. Her approach to the table elicits a brief nod of acknowledgement from David and Nathaniel, a vaguely disapproving glance from Berdmol, and a smile and a wave from Illyvalen. She quietly takes a seat next to Althea.
Althea: Hey, Tikra. Just getting everyone caught up on the matter from yesterday.
Althea: He did talk quite a bit about some of the advances of his world. Many of the kinds of things we've learned to improve or adapt through arcane magic, his people have managed through machinery. They also know a bit more about the place their "planet" holds in its plane, in part because while it has only one moon, other planets also circle their sun.
Berdmol raises an eyebrow. "That's one way to clarify things, I suppose. Did he say much about these other... 'planets?'"
Althea: Not a great many things, but apparently they are without life.
David: Hmm. How exactly do they know that?
Althea: Very powerful telescopes, and vessels that can travel beyond the sky. Some that even accommodated men wearing special suits to protect them from the environment; apparently that changes too when you go beyond the sky, almost like entering another plane.
This claim earns Althea incredulous stares from Berdmol and David, and a purely fascinated one from Illyvalen. Tikra simply shakes her head slightly.
Nathaniel: Quite the romantic notion, visiting the moons and the stars. But the thought of it all being lifeless and sterile undercuts that a bit, don't you think?
Althea shrugs. "At any rate, he also got some practice with turning. He's more powerful than one might expect, but he ended up finding his limits the hard way. It made for a unique account of the experience, at least."
Nathaniel: So you've said a lot about where he says he's from and what he believes, but what's he actually like?
Althea hesitates for a moment. "Honestly? He's kind of a pain. I mean, he's gone through a lot of upheaval and has a lot to cope with, and I can appreciate the stress he's under, but he's been trying my patience quite a bit under the circumstances. I've held my temper thus far, but I don't know if I'll be able to continue indefinitely."
Nathaniel holds his hand to his chest in an exaggerated display of feigned shock. "The gentle seer losing her poise? Unthinkable!"
Berdmol: That would be something unusual to witness...
Tikra: He does sound the type to try one's patience, from what you've described.
Althea: He's a very sharp, perceptive and intelligent man, and clearly someone of deeply-held convictions he's not shy of sharing. He... seems rather guarded, emotionally, though. I'm pretty sure he's been through some kind of deep trauma. He's not very easy to forge a connection with...
Tikra nods without comment.
Nathaniel: So when do we meet this unusual individual?
Althea: ...I'm not sure it's a good idea to expose him to too much attention. He's already becoming the talk of the Korranberg Archive, and he's really not used to Zil culture at all.
Illyvalen: Awww... I want to hear more of his languages...
Althea: Maybe once he's had a chance to acclimate...
Berdmol: I think it'd be best if you focused on the languages in front of you for now. We've still got a lot of material to cover.
Meanwhile, back at the Archive, Edgeworth spends the next few hours studying the Common tome primarily, though he does bring himself to give the others a look. Before he knows it, it's almost noon...
Althea slips into the first basement shortly after quarter to noon and approaches Edgeworth's table quietly.
Edgeworth is too busy poring over the children's textbook to notice immediately.
Edgeworth eventually reaches the end of a chapter and sticks a bookmark in, appearing thoughtful.
Althea speaks in a soft voice. "So, have you mastered Common yet?"
Edgeworth blinks and looks up and over at Althea. "Ah, I hadn't noticed your arrival. But to answer your question, it's only been a day and I haven't even practiced."
Edgeworth grins and taps the helmet he's wearing. "However, this sort of assistance should allow mastery to come far more quickly than would otherwise be possible."
Althea nods and takes a seat at the table. "...I must apologize. While I covered a great many subjects regarding the nature of matters here, I neglected to warn you of the dangers Dal Quor can pose even to those with such tenuous connection as merely dreaming..."
Edgeworth frowns in puzzlement briefly. "That's the, er, 'plane' you initially thought I had mistaken this for when I expressed doubt that any of this was real, correct?"
Edgeworth: Is there a reason why you're broaching this subject now?
Althea: There is.
Althea: Firstly, it should be noted that the nature of my... powers is such that I sometimes bear witness to things without necessarily explicitly attempting to do so.
Edgeworth rubs his temple in irritation.
Althea: On that basis, I am aware that you had a nightmare this morning. And that a tsucora quori attempted to use it to feed off you.
Edgeworth appears dubious, yet uneasy. "If that's the case, you should be able to state what it was about."
Althea: I will endeavor to do so. ...bear in mind that I do not have the ability to place what I saw in the context your own memories provide, and that I will be working from the perspective of different knowledge and experience in describing matters.
Edgeworth simply crosses his arms and waits.
Althea: You appeared to be defending an elaborately-architectured building amidst the empty wasteland of Dolurrh...
Althea: You were armed with a sword and a larger version of your holy symbol.
Althea: The quori had taken the form of a lich, and appeared to be impersonating some acquaintance of yours. I would presume someone who has died.
Edgeworth looks disturbed. "Th-that's quite enough."
Althea: While quori attacks are not particularly common, the fact that you were attacked upon the very first night you came here does raise some concern...
Edgeworth peers. "You speak of these 'quori attacks' as though they're some sort of real consequence to dreaming."
Althea: Precisely so. The ramifications are potentially quite serious, as a successful attack is at minimum highly disruptive to one's wellbeing, and in rare cases can be fatal.
Edgeworth recoils. "F-fatal?!"
Althea: To individuals of lesser constitution, yes. I don't know your capabilities well enough to say whether the risk could be that bad in your case.
Edgeworth stares into the distance, eyes round with shock. If what she claims has any truth to it whatsoever, would I have survived to adulthood in this place?
Althea: It's unlikely, but it does happen. More common symptoms include simple aches and pains or sometimes becoming comatose for a relatively short time...
Althea: The most typical harm is nothing a simple healing spell won't relieve. On the other hand, at a minimum you won't get proper rest if you've been fed on in that way...
Edgeworth: Is this... phenomenon well-documented, and its connection to these alleged creatures proven?
Althea: ...yes, at least among those who study the planes in depth, or have... other causes for familiarity with the inhabitants of Dal Quor...
Edgeworth crosses his arms again, though looks less detached than he usually does upon doing so. "You have claimed to be the former."
Althea: That is correct. Not everything to which I am personally privy is publically available, but if you are looking for some additional research material, the Library should be able to accommodate.
Edgeworth frowns. "In short, for all practical intents and purposes any evidence isn't yet available for me to review. After all, I rather doubt I have the necessary privileges to remove a book from the premises, and I'm essentially functionally illiterate outside the Archive."
Althea: I should be able to procure a few titles, if you believe it would not interfere with your other studies.
Edgeworth nods grimly, unfolding his arms. "Evidence is everything."
Edgeworth glances aside uneasily. "By the same token, I can say with confidence that no such dangers exist in my world."
Edgeworth: If these claims of yours have any truth to them, then I hope to find a lead concerning how to return quickly.
Althea: Worse dangers have occurred here. The quori are limited in how much they can reach given the current planar interrelationship; while Dal Quor still orbited the Material Plane normally, we had to defend from a quori invasion of Eberron, though that is a matter of ancient history at this point.
Althea: And I already mentioned the invasion of the daelkyr, though I may have neglected to name them.
Edgeworth: ...If what you say is true, then making sense of events here sounds far more difficult than I'm accustomed to.
Althea: Perhaps. You appear to have very keen observational capabilities even out of your element, however; I have a feeling you may adjust fairly well in that regard at least.
Althea: I believe honing your newfound capabilities here may assist you with that as well. It's a fair bet to say that your faith provides you with the "Truth" domain of divine magic, which among other things should provide you with aid in performing divinatory magic.
Edgeworth: Again she makes a statement about my potential capabilities that seems correct for no apparent reason...
Edgeworth looks to the table uneasily.
Althea: If you would like me to leave you to your reading, there are a few other things I can work on in the mean time.
Edgeworth: That would probably be for the best.
Althea nods and pulls out a book of her own, as well as a pen and a few blank sheets of paper.
Edgeworth looks to the Common textbook, then to each of the others; after a moment's hesitation, he reaches for the one describing the basic schools of magic.
Over the next several hours, Edgeworth not only finishes the Common textbook, but manages to make a great deal of progress in studying the basic categories of magical effect. The latter is a considerably slower process thanks to magic being a much more unfamiliar and uncomfortable subject for him.
Meanwhile, Dil continues the complex ritual of scroll-scribing he's been undertaking. Eventually, its completion is marked by Dil touching a large rune on one of the scroll's corners only to stagger seconds later. Though clearly fatigued from the process, he sighs in relief, rolls up the scroll and ties it in that shape, then begins cleaning up his workspace.
Edgeworth glances up at Dil's departure, but quickly returns his attention to studying.
Edgeworth continues for a few pages at a gradually decreasing rate, but soon shakes and then holds his head...
Edgeworth places a bookmark in the book, closes it, and staggers to his feet.
Althea looks up. "Ready for something else? How long have you been at this, anyway?"
Edgeworth looks at his watch and blinks. "Has it been ten hours already?"
Althea shakes her head. "And I thought I got lost in books. I suppose we'd better scrounge up something to eat before anything else, then."
Edgeworth: Clearly, given that I'm rather lightheaded.
Althea: You still up for Gnomish food or shall we see what that Inn has going for supper?
Althea: ...I suppose I probably should have prepared lunches or something, thinking about it, but between getting back late and having so much to do this morning... ah well.
Edgeworth: I believe trying a different local dish would be most desirable.
Althea nods and starts putting her materials away.
Edgeworth removes the Archive's helmet slowly.
Though it's wearying for Edgeworth to walk so far in his condition and a bit early for the supper crowd, they still return to the same restaurant as before. Rimmiyacha tries to offer a discount again, but Althea politely lets him down by pointing out that they're not in a position to return the favor as quickly as visitors should be able to. After getting some barely-spiced whitefish, maleko, and celery sticks that have been left to soak in citrus water into him, Edgeworth finally begins to look alert again.
Edgeworth wastes no time in looking as though gears are turning once the cobwebs in his head are cleared, though his eyes are focused on his meal.
Althea has been rather quiet through the meal, appearing to be pondering things herself.
Edgeworth glances over at Althea after swallowing another bite. "Have you had any further thoughts on my situation today?"
Althea: A few, though some matters may be best left until further developments have been observed...
Edgeworth nods. "An entirely sensible course; it's foolish to speak without supporting evidence."
Althea frowns. "That may be going a little too far. There can be risk in waiting too long to air one's concerns or suspicions... Suffice it to say for now, there is hope that this morning's incident was mere unfortunate happenstance, and not likely to recur. If we are not so fortunate, however, there are some steps which may be taken..."
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. "Exceptions to the rule most certainly exist. However, what sorts of steps do you refer to?"
Althea: For one thing, there are enchanted items one can wear which will assist one in resisting such attacks.
Althea: I don't bring up that matter lightly, as there is some considerable expense involved...
Edgeworth looks grim. She must regard this matter as potentially even more dire than she first implied.
Althea: It's not something I could not afford, but it would put you in my debt to a far greater extent than has thus far been contemplated, and it's not the kind of thing I can just write off and overlook...
Althea shakes her head. "I'm hopeful it won't come to that anyway, but it's probably best you know about the possibility..."
Edgeworth: Understood. Fortunately, I've grown far less prone to nightmares; if your claims concerning their nature here have any merit, I shudder to think what my fate might have been had I found myself here only two years ago.
Althea nods. "It's fortunate that most of my nightmares are divinatory in nature and not normal dreaming, or I might have had some difficulties myself..."
Edgeworth sighs. I may never grow comfortable hearing such claims.
Edgeworth: Then again, if I'm supposed to excel in this field myself, perhaps it's more likely than it may seem...
Edgeworth: It's strange to contemplate that dreams, of all things, could be so vastly different in nature between our two worlds.
Edgeworth: Were there such things as these "quori" where I'm from, I'm certain that we wouldn't be able to have this conversation.
Edgeworth takes another bite of fish solemnly.
Althea: Unless your people had found their own ways to cope, given the necessity.
Edgeworth: I fail to see how it could be done.
Edgeworth: We're only just beginning to scratch the surface of how the mind works, after all.
Althea: Yet you have knowledge and means to defend against threats you do encounter.
Edgeworth: While that might be the case...
Edgeworth hesitates. Can I say with certainty that none are so ethereal anymore?
Althea: I simply would think you cannot know how well you could eventually learn to manage such a threat as you have not had the opportunity to face before...
Edgeworth concentrates on his meal for now.
Edgeworth: Still more troubling is what even the earliest research suggests concerning how I could have arrived here. Notably, my situation doesn't fit the boundaries of summoning or calling, making it unlikely that any force here is responsible. Ergo...
Edgeworth begins to look nervous.
Edgeworth shakes his head firmly. Come now, Miles! Even if an ideal opportunity did, in fact, present itself, who on Earth could possibly have the capability to force someone out of reality itself?!
Althea watches Edgeworth's reactions and hesitates for a bit before adding: "That goes the other way around too; you don't have to be able to prove your suspicions to air them, and I might have some useful insights..."
Edgeworth looks over at Althea, mildly startled, then looks away briefly, annoyed with himself. Have I allowed myself to grow so emotional over this situation that I can't contain myself?
Edgeworth: Were I more comfortable with the idea that these suspicions were within the realm of possibility at all, perhaps I might.
Althea sighs slightly. "Just keep in mind there are some questions I might be able to answer better than the books you're studying..."
Edgeworth looks back to Althea, meeting her gaze but glaring reflexively as a result. "The questions that have been raised by my studies today aren't of a sort I would expect you to be able to answer."
Edgeworth continues to eat.
That conversation having been killed, the rest of the meal passes quietly, as does their return to the Korranberg Archive. Edgeworth returns to studying the overview of the schools of magic as soon as the helmet is given to him, while Althea does some additional homework.
Edgeworth eventually closes the book, sets it aside, and lapses into thought.
Dil takes the book and shelves it, grinning gently. "If you were a much faster reader, the divination wouldn't be able to keep up, you know."
Edgeworth looks up at this. "There are limits? Huh..."
Edgeworth: Franziska would likely run across them, to her deep chagrin.
Dil stops to cast Comprehend Languages, apparently having prepared it several times today.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow. "Am I to interpret that action as meaning that you have further business with me this evening?"
Dil: We should have time for a short lesson in basic techniques now that you know some of the theory it's built on, yes.
Althea starts putting away her things. "If you don't mind me sitting in, I'm pretty much finished here."
Edgeworth blinks at Dil. "So soon?"
Dil shrugs. "You seem to be a fast enough learner, and it's common to master the use of wands long before learning to cast spells under your own power anyway."
Edgeworth can't help but reflexively half-frown for an instant.
Dil: Besides, the same techniques are built upon later, just in different directions for different types of magic.
Edgeworth nods, then looks to Althea. "I see no reason to exclude you." He then bows.
Althea nods and stands.
Dil leads the group to the second basement, then heads towards one of the doors on that floor while leaving Edgeworth and Althea to head down to the third. For some reason, there's a slight chill in the air down here tonight.
Edgeworth frowns in confusion at the different atmosphere. Strange; I seem to recall a slightly different temperature in this room before.
Althea shows no sign of noticing the cold, if indeed she notices it at all.
Edgeworth looks down to Althea. Does she find nothing unusual about it?
Dil comes down after a minute bearing a fairly ordinary-looking carved baton about eight inches long and a quarter-inch in diameter.
Edgeworth: Is that one of these "wands"?
Dil shakes his head. "No, this one's just a stick. No need to risk mishaps unless necessary."
Edgeworth: What does he mean, "unless necessary"?
Dil: To actually be a wand, it would have to be enchanted that way. It's a trickier process than scribing a scroll; you need to be a real expert to even understand the process. A lot better than me, at least...
Althea: Not to mention attempting to use a wand untrained can be risky. Proper use requires the correct technique, and either the right sort of magical potential or a lot of skill.
Dil grins. "I can't help but respect people with those kinds of skills. It's really something to be able to trick a magical object like that."
Edgeworth looks confused, but refrains from asking how one can 'trick' an inanimate object.
Althea shrugs. "At least most of them are just picky, not suspicious."
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. Are we anthropomorphizing them now?
Dil: Wands are infused with dozens of charges, each an identical, essentially completely cast spell. By the time a spell is fully cast, the difference between arcane and divine magic is mostly academic, so anyone with the potential to cast the spell in it through any technique can use one.
Edgeworth puts a finger to his temple. "That does sound remarkably useful."
Althea: Scrolls are similarly convenient, and much easier to produce, but given that they are purely single-use, there is a certain economy to investing as many charges as a wand can hold.
Dil: It takes a lot of charges to make that economy work, though. Wands with any but the simplest spells in them take days to make, and even making the weak ones is draining enough that people don't make any they aren't sure they can use or sell.
Althea: Given that limitation, you won't easily find as much diversity of spells imbued in wands as in scrolls.
Dil shrugs. "Not to mention, direct use is all they're for. You can't copy a spell from a wand — what would there be to scribe?"
Dil: Finally, only the weaker half of the range of possible magical spells can safely be stored in wands.
Edgeworth: The amount of diversity they describe in techniques and devices for spellcasting is remarkable.
Dil grins. "Now that we're past the things someone half your age would know..."
Althea: Be fair; there's easily as much trivial knowledge of his world we both lack.
Dil shrugs. "I was just trying to lighten the mood..."
Edgeworth side-eyes Dil.
Dil shakes his head. "Anyway, on to their use. A wand's charge can be released with a word specific to that wand, which gives you only so much time to trace the sigil appropriate to the type and strength of the spell inside in order to trigger it. The same shapes are fundamental to somatic components in true spellcasting."
Edgeworth taps his temple and grins. "Hence this lesson coming first."
Dil grins as well. "Right! Of course, that's a simplification of the process, but we can get to the harder parts another day. Today, let's just cover the motions and their meanings and uses."
Edgeworth takes a deep breath. Thus do I delve further down the rabbit hole.
Over the next three hours, Dil demonstrates several three-dimensional motions to trace in the air with the stick, roughly five to nine per combination of spell school and spell potency, and prompts Edgeworth to duplicate the same. Rather than relying on his own magic to continue to understand the prosecutor over the long term, he asks Althea to begin translating whenever Edgeworth has questions.
While Edgeworth is clearly uncomfortable with practicing the necromantic motions and obviously will need a lot more practice to get any of the sigils covered tonight exact, let alone trace them quickly enough to be of use, those appropriate to the basic spells of seven of the schools are still covered in this time.
Dil: That should be enough practice with the basic transmutation motions for now.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "I can't help but notice that you seem to have been avoiding the most important school from my own perspective."
Althea repeats Edgeworth's contention in Common.
Dil smirks. "Oh, I have a reason for saving that for last."
Edgeworth hrmphs and offers the practice stick back. "If you insist. Now, if you'll go over what the forms for divination are..."
Dil grins widely with a glint of mischief in his eyes. "Why don't you tell me?"
Edgeworth glares intently at Dil. "Didn't it become clear earlier that I don't appreciate such jokes?!"
Althea shakes her head.
Dil retreats to a humble frown. "But I'm not joking, sir..."
Althea: It is your area of expertise, after all.
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! It cannot truly be called an "area of expertise" when I haven't learned it! Furthermore, I lack a basis from which to simply deduce such knowledge!
Dil: Those aren't the only ways to know things, though — especially not when power comes to you by itself in some form.
Edgeworth: Surely you're not suggesting that I simply guess!
Dil smirks. "Not exactly."
Althea: He's suggesting you intuit.
Edgeworth appears struck out of left field.
Edgeworth: But what need is there for such measures under the circumstances?
Althea: Among other considerations, it would serve as practice for a skill that will serve you well in such a pursuit as this.
Dil: Clerical spellcasting relies on intuition. Even archivist methods aren't completely divorced from it.
Edgeworth appears slightly intimidated despite an effort at standing firm.
Edgeworth: While I can't say that I'm entirely unfamiliar with such methods, that's Wright's strength, not my own.
Edgeworth sighs. If I had to be saddled with power, why could it not be of a sort that calls primarily for logic instead?
Edgeworth: I suppose, once more, I find myself having to think like him. To ask how I'm supposed to know such a thing may, in fact, be counterproductive; if they're right, then I do. But is there any proof of what they say?
Edgeworth looks to Althea in intense thought...
Edgeworth: On two occasions, she's made statements concerning my capabilities that seemed to resonate. These assertions bring to mind one in particular...
Edgeworth's gaze shifts to Dil. Has he made a similar hypothesis?
Edgeworth looks uneasily past a spot on the wall behind the two. The idea of simply being imparted knowledge, neither learned nor deduced... it's a rather unsettling thought.
Edgeworth shakes his head. Nevertheless, isn't it precisely the sort I would want to learn? Could this... "divine magic" I attract not simply be seen as a new medium from which to read?
Edgeworth closes his eyes, takes a breath, and holds the stick out in front of him. If I simply remember the sensation I felt when Althea claimed that the essence of the truth would help me with divination, then perhaps...
Edgeworth eventually opens his eyes, only to find himself tracing new patterns in the air — each half-chosen, half-observed.
Edgeworth seems in awe as he keeps going to slightly more complex forms...
Althea continues watching quietly.
Edgeworth hesitates, then slowly draws a number of sigils more elaborate than the rest so far. There's clear uncertainty in his eyes as he does so, however.
Althea frowns, looking thoughtful.
Dil blinks. "...Well! I didn't expect that."
Edgeworth lowers the practice stick. "That's as far as I can go."
Althea: You have a greater affinity than I had originally pegged you for. There may be something providing additional synergy... perhaps the Knowledge domain? It would seem in character...
Dil: It wouldn't surprise me. He does seem like more of a thinker than a fighter.
Edgeworth offers the stick back to Dil. "It would be more appropriate to say that I prefer to fight with my words."
Althea: Certainly a wise approach to avail oneself of when possible.
Dil accepts the wand substitute back. "A surprise is a good way to end the day either way."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "I can't say that I would normally agree, but I've been subjected to countless worse ones."
Dil grins. "Then you should be pleased to know that if you're that good, you may become able to safely use scrolls of divination spells just beyond you without risking any unpleasant surprises."
Dil: Either way, though, you still need a lot more practice.
Edgeworth glances at his watch. "Perhaps we should all retire for the night."
The night goes by fortunately uneventfully. The next day is likewise relatively quiet; Edgeworth has plenty of reading material to study and wand motions to practice in the short term, and the lunch Althea packs prevents anything like the previous day's dizzy spell from recurring. As for Althea herself, conversation with Nathaniel is the closest thing to disruption of the team's archaeological research to occur that day.
That night, however... Althea finds herself dreaming of being on an island in the middle of the ocean with no others in sight. The center of it has various fruit trees growing out of the soil, but the vast majority of it is expanses of rocky beach. The pebbles apparent are well-worn, dull, and found in a variety of understated colors.
Althea picks up and examines one of the stones.
This stone is blue-grey on one side and has a spiky black pattern on the other.
Althea continues examining stones for a bit, then rearranges them in a seemingly deliberate way despite no obvious pattern.
Althea finds herself grouping even fragments of broken pebbles together with some whole ones in the process. One group includes the bluish one, a large mustard one, the fragments of a dark grey and brown one, the fragments of a beige one, the fragments of a slimy-feeling dark grey one, and one that seems to have been painted turquoise. Another pile includes a reddish one with a white streak, a marbled light-grey-and-faintly-aqua one with a leathery-feeling swirl on it, the fragments of a dark bluish one with some intricate patterning, a grey one with hints of having had a green layer once, a turquoise-and-white one that may have once been red-and-brown, the fragments of one that's partly grey and partly grey-blue with gold marbling, and a white one with magenta streaks. Still another group includes a white one with bits of pink and black, a rather grubby olive one, and one that's black, gold, and pinkish. Althea gets the sense of something being missing from this last group.
Althea stands and steps back a bit to stare at the overall layout.
The groups seem to complement one another; however, there's no two ways around the fact that the group with only three pebbles feels glaringly incomplete.
Althea takes the three stones, moves to a relatively clear area, and places them in a triangle pattern around her.
Althea gets the sense that there may be something beneath the ground in this spot.
Althea kneels down, setting her palm to the ground and closing her eyes.
Is there some kind of mythical treasure buried here? At least, there's a sense of something so vanishingly rare as to be denied or unaccounted for despite its value.
Althea starts tracing a three-fanned spiral in the sand, ending at the three stones.
Althea stands and circles the formation a few times while considering.
Althea glances back to the other groupings of stones.
Althea: Would such be synergistic, orthogonal, or perhaps even distracting...?
Althea eventually gathers up one of the other groups of stones and starts arranging them to the lower-left of the spiral.
The seer finds herself setting some of the stones far enough away as to suggest irrelevance to whatever's underground. As for those closer, she starts getting impressions of it from each — kinship, acceptance, fear, regret, resentment...
Althea starts singing quietly, wordlessly, as she gathers the remaining group and begins assembling it in a pattern to the upper-right of the spiral.
The reddish pebble with the white streak, whose "emotions" seem terribly mixed, confused, and conflicted, seems somehow familiar compared to all the rest...
Althea next traces one of the divination sigils Edgeworth demonstrated earlier above the spiral.
The ground the spiral is drawn on shifts slightly in response, softened.
Althea stands for a moment, then kneels back down, holding her breath and steeling herself.
Althea slowly traces the symbol representing Daanvi, The Perfect Order, to the lower-right of the spiral.
The ground where the spiral is suddenly turns to stone.
Althea: ...well, then.
Althea: ...but is the contradiction in the nature or in the perception, I wonder...
Althea: Either way, it may take a long time to find any synergy there. A long and difficult inner conflict is more likely...
Althea combs away the Daanvi mark gently.
The process isn't completely reversed by this action; the ground only shifts to clay.
Althea starts tracing the symbol for Irian in its place.
The spiral's ground shifts to an eclectic mix of rocks, soil, and sand.
Althea contemplates a moment before wiping the lower-right area clear again.
The ground becomes more homogenous, something like how it was when she began.
Althea starts tracing an outline of Edgeworth's holy symbol from memory.
The entire island begins to rumble and shake.
Althea strikes out the symbol rather quickly. "Too much to handle there, it seems..."
The earthquake stops immediately.
Althea: Irian's light doesn't resonate, Daanvi scoffs at the possibilities, and his own symbolism threatens to overwhelm everything unleashed without sufficient care...
Althea frowns and quietly contemplates for a few minutes.
Althea sighs, fully smooths out the area previously occupied by Daanvi and Irian's symbols, stands, and walks further from the spiral to a spot roughly a yard further to the lower-right.
Althea takes a deep breath, and begins scribing the symbol for Dolurrh into the sand.
...It's apparently too far away to cause a reaction.
Althea: Hmm. Perhaps not as sensitive as I feared.
Althea adds a couple of circles around the symbol, then moves back toward the spiral.
Althea positions herself to the lower right of the spiral, and starts drawing again, this time tracing a smaller version of the symbol, and placing its center about where the lower-right corners of the previous symbols had been.
It begins to rain, though the rain has a vaguely salty tinge. The spiral itself washes away quickly as the ground where it was turns to mud at an unnatural pace; meanwhile, the scribed divinatory symbol and the symbol of Dolurrh seem somehow sheltered from the rain, as does the third, as-yet unused location the spiral suggested for a symbol.
Althea studies the situation for short time, then shrugs and traces something that looks sort of like a least mark of scribing to the lower-left of the former spiral.
The mud begins to thin, then turn into merely murky water. It seems rather deep...
Althea idly adds lines and curves until it starts to almost look like a lesser mark.
The water begins to grow clearer. There's a faint lavender light from somewhere far below...
Althea moves back to the upper space, taking care not to disturb the divination sigil, and traces a smaller summoning sigil nearby in what space remains for it.
The rain becomes a downpour, yet the water clarifies a bit more.
Althea adds something like a least mark of finding in the margins of the lower-left area.
No apparent change...
Althea scratches it out after a moment.
Althea contemplates a moment, and traces something like a least mark of detection.
The water's surface grows much calmer despite the driving rain.
Althea heads for the lower right section again, reaches for the mostly empty space... and hesitates...
Althea pulls her hand back for the moment and stands, looking carefully at the scene.
The pool's clear water and now-calm surface make the soft lavender light from the depths clear and the sides of the pool obviously visible.
Althea: Perhaps, even in trying not to be intrusive, I have been pushing too hard...
Althea clears her mind and gazes into the pool.
The pool of water seems to be about ten feet deep. At the bottom is a pair of pebbles, both softly glowing lavender.
Althea continues to peer calmly at the stones for several moments.
Details grow clearer to Althea despite the distance. One is about the same size as the majority of the pebbles gathered, while the other is smaller than the rest. Both are transparent lavender and shaped alike — a fat ring with a tail — and have colored veins inside like dragonshards do. The larger one's veins are light orange, while the smaller one's are light blue.
Althea resists an increasingly overwhelming urge to reach in and try to take the stones, continuing her steady gaze.
Althea is sure that these two stones will complete the set that the grubby olive pebble, the white pebble with pink and black highlights, and the pink, black, and gold pebble comprise.
Althea eventually breaks away her gaze and returns to the lower-right corner.
Althea: Well, I think I may have come as far as I can on that aspect. Probably only one thing left to investigate if I can...
Althea scribes the symbol for Shavarath, the Battleground, in the empty space to the upper-left of Dolurrh's.
This effort turns the rain and the pool alike from vaguely salty water to entirely opaque blood. The lesser mark of scribing, least mark of detection, and divinatory rune are quickly washed away by the blood rain.
Althea: Well, so much for that...
Althea scratches out the Shavarath symbol.
The blood rain turns back to water, though the pool is now made of mud again. The missing symbols don't return of their own accord.
Althea tries tracing what looks like a least mark of warding to the lower left.
The mud turns back into mere wet soil, then the scene begins to waver...
That morning, Edgeworth notices that a few of the locals seem to be staring at him as he makes his way to the Archive, but pointedly ignores them. Additional reading and somatic practice fill his morning. As noon approaches, he makes use of a bookmark and looks over his shoulder to the door that leads to the once-secret staircase...
Althea steps through the door about a full minute after Edgeworth first looks over.
Edgeworth stands and bows. "Good morning, Althea." The words are slow, and his accent is obvious and clearly matches none on Eberron.
Althea: Good morning. How go your studies?
Edgeworth: Rather well.
Edgeworth thinks for a moment, then shakes his head. "Although it will take time before I have the necessary vocabulary with which to make complex statements."
Althea repeats Edgeworth's statement back to him in Common and nods.
Althea hands over a wrapped package. "Mostly the standard fare, but I picked up some fresh fruit from the market before coming here."
Edgeworth accepts it with a near-smile. "Ah, excellent. Thank you."
Althea: You're welcome.
Edgeworth pauses for a moment before adding, "I'll be downstairs." With that, he heads for the staircase to the lower floors.
Dil has been looking over at the two while they conversed from where he was taking notes from three open books, and stands and faces Althea once Edgeworth is out of sight.
Althea turns to Dil.
Dil glances towards the stairs. "He really is a fast learner."
Althea: No kidding.
Althea: If he kept at this for a year or two he might know more about this world than I do.
Dil chuckles. "Don't sell yourself short, Althea." He then hrms. "Maybe we should talk someplace more private."
Dil leads the way into the second basement, then unlocks one of the doors. The room beyond it is filled with shelves, each stuffed with scrolls and the occasional minor schema. Only a rather plain bench against one wall exists as far as seating.
Althea seats herself on the bench.
Dil closes and relocks the door behind them, then seats himself as well. "As far as the technical aspects go, he's still working on the motions for most of the schools, but he already has most of the lesser divination motions exact."
Althea: I'm going to guess he's been making the least progress with necromancy.
Dil blinks. "Yes. In one case, he even seems drawn to try to trace something else instead..."
Dil shrugs. "It's actually pretty interesting."
Dil: I'm not sure how to solve one looming problem, though...
Dil: How do you make someone like him pray for spells?
Althea: I see no other way than him discovering for himself what it means to do so... Various parts of his nature, even things that should be helping, are still fighting him on this...
Dil: Oh? Another vision?
Althea: Pretty much. Plus I'm already starting to work out some things. But what exactly do magic and the dead have to do with each other in a world where one can legitimately believe there is no magic?
Dil raises an eyebrow at the wince. "What's wrong?"
Althea: I didn't realize how that sounded until I said it.
Dil frowns. "What's really confusing is that he seems to have preferences and prejudices despite not being familiar with anything basic about it, and I don't think he's faking any of it."
Dil: There's a trick to this...
Althea: Mm. There's something that troubles him deeply that he won't talk about. And it has something to do with magic, and something to do with the dead. And if he's lying in a way that's throwing off the scent, he doesn't seem to believe it's a lie. If anything, he's cutting off something from himself because all the parts that should be helping him make sense of it are just reiterating that it shouldn't even be there...
Althea: I'd almost wonder if he were under some kind of compulsion not to approach the matter with reason at all.
Dil grins. "Compulsions aren't the only way for someone to become averse to something."
Althea: True. It just... I don't know, feels a touch unnatural in a way I can't place.
Dil shrugs. "Maybe it's just severe. You know how some people turned out after the Last War, right?"
Althea: ...yeah. At any rate, I suspect if I could figure out who that lich the quori was impersonating was supposed to be, maybe I could start to make sense of this somehow...
Dil's eyes pop wide. "Quori?! You've been holding out on me here!"
Althea: Huh, didn't I...? I guess not. That's a pretty important bit. Happened his very first night. Fortunately there hasn't been a repeat.
Dil stares. "That fast?! Now it sounds even more like some kind of trauma..."
Althea: I witnessed the dream and was able to intervene, which may have thwarted the feeding. He of course insisted I prove I'd in fact seen anything, but bade me stop after I'd identified the very most basic details, sounding disturbed.
Dil looks worried...
Althea: He stood on the steps of a grandiose edifice alone and out of place upon the wastes of Dolurrh...
Althea: He bore his holy symbol upon a chain held in one hand, and a sword in the other...
Althea: He confronted a female lich bearing a sword-afflicted wound.
Dil: Did it look like he inflicted it?
Althea shakes her head. "It was not recent. I rather suspect it was inflicted before her undeath."
Althea: Each accused the other of defiling the place he defended.
Althea: She also had several other undead around her offering support for her accusations.
Dil: Some kind of temple? Hm, no, wait... he did insist that his holy symbol was just a badge of his office, didn't he?
Althea: It did look as though it could have been some sort of temple...
Dil: Except he insisted he wasn't religious, remember?
Dil: Why would he defend a temple if that was the case?
Althea: Because it was a temple to his 'faith', I would think.
Althea: I do recall the accusations were couched in such language. Job, cases, testifying, criminal...
Dil grins. "Oh, a courthouse!"
Althea: I don't think it's even occurred to him just how deeply steeped in such symbolism he — or his people — made his profession... He certainly acts much the religious crusader for as much as I see in all this...
Dil: We'd probably need to see him on an actual "crusade" to see the full extent of it.
Althea: Unfortunately, Zilargo isn't the best locale for that.
Dil sighs. "If only we could be sure the Trust would know the difference."
Dil looks back to Althea. "Anyway, is there more to the dream?"
Althea: I do recall that there were accusations that he specifically refused to admit to things that he'd witnessed them do...
Althea: The lich also claimed that the circumstances of her 'death' were directly contradicted by his assertions...
Dil frowns in puzzlement.
Althea: I believe she suggested he was deliberately trying to pin someone else's blame on her.
Althea: Beyond that it became more of a direct assault, and I started to send missives. He ended up using his turning ability, which wiped away all the undead besides the lich, who was revealed as a tsucora quori.
Dil: Good thing it was a dream...
Althea: He overextended himself badly, but properly warned he was still able to thwart the quori long enough for the dream to end.
Dil nods... "Mik's still only making slow progress at that."
Althea nods slowly. "I was surprised he managed. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot I could do."
Dil shakes his head. "I wonder if there's some kind of clash of ideologies in his line of work..."
Althea: Hmm... Somewhere in all this, there are 'sins' against his 'faith' weighing deeply upon him. I think that's part of what the accusations represented...
Althea: He did speak of fighting with his words the other night, did he not? In so many words.
Dil: He did, but I'm not sure what you're getting at.
Althea: Fighting whom?
Dil shrugs. "Why don't you ask him?"
Althea: Mm. That at least doesn't seem guaranteed to prompt him to clam up further...
Dil: So is that dream eavesdropping the only vision you've had?
Althea: No. I encountered something this morning, but it was pretty abstract.
Dil grins. "Oh yeah? What'd you get from it?"
Althea: One, that he still sees one of his core strengths as diametrically opposed to this new aspect of himself... I think it's going to be a long time before he's truly reconciled that.
Dil frowns. "I don't know... if it was that bad, would he be cooperating this much this soon?"
Althea: I'm not sure. Other elements clearly do reinforce... he responds to divination well enough, if you don't remind him of why he thinks he shouldn't, at least...
Althea: It's more... there's a resource he doesn't admit to having... But exploring this new path is bringing him closer to it anyway...
Althea: ...oh, and somehow that too involves the dead.
Althea sighs. "I simply don't have the context to make sense of that. I got the distinct impression I might be at risk of moving too fast, too..."
Dil stops to think. "A resource involving the dead? That sounds like it'd involve necromancy, which is exactly what he's uncomfortable with..."
Althea: Yet the connection was strengthened or clarified in association with divination, summoning, and the marks of scribing and detection.
Dil shrugs helplessly. "I guess the Traveler must be laughing right now..."
Althea: For what it's worth, no synergy that I could find with Shavarath either, despite some of the battle symbolism that has come up on occasion. Not much for Irian either, really. Daanvi denies it entirely.
Althea: Only from Dolurrh did I get any useful response, planar-influence-wise. Though I did not experiment with every plane.
Althea: If anything, Shavarath overturned all other forms of synergy...
Althea: ...well, aside from the connection to Dolurrh. And the summoning rune, now that I think of it. Hmm...
Dil: In other words, avoid turning this into a fight, or more of one...
Dil shrugs. "At least, that's my guess. This is your field."
Althea: Valid an interpretation as any. I'm wondering if maybe it lies on the 'other side' of this death connection... There's synergy there, seemingly, but also trauma...
Dil shakes his head. "This is confusing."
Althea: You did say he seemed to be drawn toward drawing different symbols sometimes in place of necromantic sigils. Would any of them happen to have appeared to be conjuration sigils?
Dil: No; actually, he seemed to be attempting to trace things I didn't recognize in place of the ones that make death brush the mind enough to inspire primal fear...
Dil: But the ones he does seem most resistant to are the ones related to summoning undead.
Althea pulls out a sheet of paper from her pack. "For that matter, do these symbols mean anything to you?"
Dil looks at the 9-shaped symbols on the paper and shakes his head. "Sorry..."
Althea: I didn't really expect so. I do have a feeling they may mean something to him...
Althea: Though he might not react well when I show him...
Dil: It's just a question of whether it'll push him to grow or just push him away.
Dil shrugs. "And knowing as little as I do, I can't guess..."
Dil: Just helping him learn about Eberron and what his faith lets him do here is all I can really do.
Althea: I think I might be getting close to figuring things out... I just feel like I've been warned, that learning this truth may involve treading on some very thin ice...
Althea: On the other hand, not trying to probably qualifies as a sin against his 'faith', so he might be even less forgiving of hesitation.
Althea shrugs and shakes her head. "I'm just going to have to try to strike the best balance I can."
Dil: As for my part of this, I wonder if it's time to put a wand of a divination orison in his hands yet...
Althea: ...I think his 'faith' is the only reason he can bring himself to come here. I don't just mean this being the best place to explore it. I think he's only really subjecting himself to this hardship because he can't excuse himself if he turns away.
Dil nods... "I've been wondering that myself."
Dil: But I also wonder if he'd feel obligated if this didn't start by itself. If he didn't attract divine magic, would he have tried pursuing arcane magic?
Althea: ...I don't think so. Part of that same conundrum, the parts of him all pushing reason away from the point of trauma.
Althea: I think he would have found a way to contend it was an irrelevant matter not needing pursuit...
Dil: Hm, I don't know, I don't think he could have done that forever...
Althea: Perhaps not. This situation forced the issue, and something else might have forced the issue had things been otherwise...
Althea: But I think this all centers around some central traumatic truth... Somehow, despite everything that allows someone as rational and fervent a pursuer of truth as it seems he should be to believe otherwise, magic, probably something akin to some form of necromancy, does exist in his world, and he knows there's evidence of it.
Soon, in the first basement, Edgeworth closes the back cover of the book comparing religious views on arcane and divine magic, rubbing his temple in irritation shortly thereafter.
Althea ascends the stairway leading from the second basement, looking around for a moment before heading toward Edgeworth's table.
Edgeworth sighs, then notices Althea and acknowledges her with a nod.
Althea nods and seats herself, pulling out some materials.
Althea: That one not to your liking, I take it?
Edgeworth: The book itself is sufficiently neutral, but I can't say that I look forward to being regarded as either a madman or a walking contradiction wherever I go.
Althea shrugs. "I suppose that's an acquired taste."
Edgeworth hrmphs and shakes his head. "It's apparent that the physics of this world are such that the strength of my convictions attracts power of a sort appropriate to them, but must I be regarded as some sort of miracle-worker as a result?"
Althea shrugs. "I've always felt whether something is miraculous depends on how meaningful it is for you."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "I can't say that I've ever regarded anything as miraculous, least of all the truth coming to light."
Edgeworth: What's happening to me is merely something I fail to understand as yet.
Althea: I've seen the same act put to uses of mundane convenience, miraculous transformations, and disgusting greed and cruelty. It is we ourselves who find and put meaning into such things...
Althea: In the end, a miracle can still be a tool, and a tool can still be a miracle.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow, then asks in Common since it's a simple enough question for him to do so: "What act is this?"
Althea hesitates. "It... doesn't befit my position to speak such criticisms so openly in public..."
Edgeworth uncrosses his arms to put a finger to his temple for a moment, then nods solemnly. "Understood."
Edgeworth shakes his head. "I suppose that in the end, as always, others' perceptions of me are most likely to be a mere inconvenience. I merely hope it doesn't often progress to a hindrance."
Althea shrugs. "I've never found it to be too much of a difficulty myself, but then I'm pretty good with people usually. I'm also mostly contending with people not being sure what to make of me, as opposed to thinking they know what to make of me and being wrong..."
Edgeworth glances aside disdainfully. "I've never been prone to gregariousness."
Althea: ...there was another matter I wanted to ask you about, actually.
Edgeworth looks back to Althea, mildly curious. "What might that be?"
Althea: The other night, you indicated that you put your methods in such terms as "fighting with your words..."
Edgeworth's 'So?' goes unspoken.
Althea: With whom do you fight?
Edgeworth grins, seeming almost pleased by the query. "There are many possible answers to that question, yet the answers that are most true cannot properly be referred to through that phrasing."
Althea shrugs. "It was as neutral a phrasing as occurred."
Edgeworth: I fight injustice, and to prevent the truth from being lost or incompletely understood. I challenge the defense to rise to the same standard, though I've known rather few who are good at meeting that challenge.
Edgeworth glares reflexively. "It could also be said that I fight for the stability of civilization itself. If criminals never suffered for their crimes, what precisely would prevent the world from spiraling into chaos under the burden of mankind's sinful heart? Unfortunately, not every man is one of conscience."
Althea winces slightly.
Edgeworth: There is a saying where I'm from that all that's necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
Edgeworth's expression grows more sober. "It is, however, also said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I'm under no illusions of being infallible, or of that even being possible."
Edgeworth: A lesson that I hardly learned easily.
Althea: ...that is a somewhat more... vengeful-sounding description of justice than I am entirely comfortable with, but I take your meaning.
Althea: And he does seem to bear more humility than many followers of the Flame, even if he doesn't show it easily...
Althea: Still, I do have to wonder if circumstances would one day find us enemies...
Edgeworth reflexively glares again. "It's for this reason that understanding the whole truth behind a crime is imperative."
Althea: It has been my experience, however, that in a great many cases, inflicting suffering, however righteously, may simply beget more suffering...
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "I'm not from a society which condones torture. There are standards to which legal punishments are held, though there is always controversy concerning which punishments meet those standards."
Althea nods. "We have some international standards set down by the Galifar Code of Justice, but for the most part it's a matter of national discretion."
Edgeworth grins slightly. "I still hope to find the time to learn about that and other legal matters here. Perhaps there is something to be learned from some of the systems here that hasn't been conceived of where I'm from."
Althea: So, what does a defense need to be like to measure up to the standards you have laid out?
Edgeworth: To begin with, lawyers of every kind must put the truth before themselves or their clients. That's as true of defense attorneys as it is of prosecutors.
Edgeworth: Persistence and strength of will are necessary on both sides as well if the truth is to be unearthed in its entirety. A case presented weakly, shared incompletely, or insufficiently challenged will leave some aspect unexplored, and that very aspect could change how we understand the situation completely.
Edgeworth taps his temple with a smirk. "Of course, such efforts can only go so far if one doesn't have as much information as possible. The ability to come across information outside the courtroom and to wrest more from the apparent paradoxes within it is vital."
Edgeworth: A defense attorney in particular must also be able to trust their clients, yet capable of enduring the possibility of that trust being misplaced.
Edgeworth: Ideally, each side's way of thinking should also differ from the other's in a complementary way, all the better to see the flaws in each other's lines of reasoning. After all, no one person is perfect; only through teamwork can we hope to come close.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head, arms outspread. "The form of it we practice just happens to be adversarial in nature."
Althea: So you struggle adversarially with a fellow seeker of truth who needs to think differently than you, who must place their faith in a person whom you must doubt?
Edgeworth: Essentially, yes.
Althea ponders this for a bit before responding. "And what kind of complementary approaches in perspective have you found to be effective in those defense attorneys you have faced?"
Edgeworth looks past Althea before grinning. "A talent for improvisation and lateral thinking..." He then hesitates. "...as well as for intuition."
Althea: And is that moreso an approach needed for the job, or one needed to complement you in particular?
Edgeworth considers this briefly. "Those traits complement me in particular, but in the country I usually operate in, I would also say that it's best for those particular traits to be found in the defense specifically."
Althea: Are they particularly troubling traits to be found within a prosecutor?
Edgeworth shakes his head. "No, though I believe I understand why you're asking."
Althea shrugs. "I wouldn't think it too obscure a point."
Althea: ...though I do get this sense that... well, that you might feel that opening up to such things is turning your back on your strengths, somehow.
Edgeworth looks away. "If nothing else, it entails playing to my weaknesses."
Althea: That can understandably be uncomfortable... I guess I'm just wondering if it isn't something more than discomfort...
Althea ponders for a moment, then pulls a sheet out of her pack and lays it on the table casually.
Edgeworth glances at it...
Edgeworth recoils enough to tip his chair over, and scrambles not to fall comically onto the floor as a result. "WHAT THE HELL?!"
Althea: ...I had wondered if that might mean something to you. I... had considered the possibility of a strong reaction, but... not quite that one. Are you all right?
Edgeworth glares piercingly and very much on purpose this time. "Where did you see this?!"
Althea: In the bottom of a pool. On an island. In a dream. More of a vision, technically, but one that came in the form of a dream.
Edgeworth groans and rubs his temple. "Nrrgh... of course."
Althea: They look somewhat similar to dragonshards, but that shape is quite distinctive and unusual.
Althea: I can't say I fully understand what they're about, but they do seem to be symbolic of some kind of supportive resource you have available to you, of which you are unaware. ...or possibly in denial.
Edgeworth crosses his arms, glaring down his nose at Althea. "On what basis do you say that?"
Althea: When I first encountered them it was by their glaring absence. A grouping was jarringly incomplete.
Althea: After arranging the remaining elements and experimenting with symbolism, I was able to locate and eventually perceive them. Many things aided in their discovery. Some things directly hindered such discovery.
Edgeworth: I suppose I owe her a moment's humor... Explain this "grouping".
Althea: Are you sure you want to hear this? Highly abstract symbolism doesn't seem like something you tend to have a lot of patience for...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Neither is the idea of gleaning information from dreams in the first place, but you've already demonstrated the need for me to tolerate that concept."
Althea: Perhaps I should go into full detail then; there might be more symbolism you'd recognize.
Edgeworth looks around the room, noting the stares his earlier reaction earned. "Er, is this the place for such a discussion?"
Althea shrugs. "If you would prefer, we can head someplace quieter."
Edgeworth: That... would be preferable.
The pair of them head for the stairs out of the Archive, and from there to the most private spot readily available to them — Edgeworth's inn room. It not being designed as something to live out of, it's somewhat spartan for this purpose, having no table and only a few wooden chairs — two small and two large — and the bed as places to sit, but the ability to lock the door and pull the shades offers them what little privacy they can get.
Edgeworth walks from the now-blocked window over to one of the human-scaled chairs to take a seat.
Althea: Much of the initial symbolism involved colored stones on a rocky beach.
Edgeworth simply crosses his arms, apparently having nothing to say to that introduction.
Althea: I found they fell into three distinct groupings.
Althea: One of the stones had a distinctive spiky black pattern on one side and was blue-gray on the other.
Edgeworth blinks at that description.
Althea: Also in that group I found a large mustard stone, a stone that appeared to have been painted turquoise, and fragments of a dark gray and brown stone, a beige stone, and a somewhat slimy dark gray one.
Althea takes one of the smaller chairs.
Edgeworth's eyes reflect being mildly weirded out despite his best effort at keeping a straight face. "...Go on."
Althea: The second group had a stone colored somewhat red and partly white, one with a pattern of gray and aqua with a somewhat leathery swirl... a gray stone that might once have been green, a turquoise and white stone that may have been red and brown, one that was white with magenta, and fragments of dark blue with some kind of pattern, and gray and gray-blue with gold...
Edgeworth unconsciously brushes his cravat. "...And the last?"
Althea: White with pink and black, a sort of dirty olive, and black, gold and pink. And something else clearly missing.
Edgeworth: Did you have any reason to believe this aside from the relative size of this group?
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm.
Althea: The absence itself was palpable.
Edgeworth sighs in mild annoyance. "That doesn't sound as though it would constitute what I would normally count as 'reason'."
Edgeworth: Yet given my own abrupt change in circumstances and my experiences since then, I cannot simply dismiss such a claim...
Althea: I took these three stones and moved them, placing them in a triangle. I became aware that something may be buried underground in that location.
Althea: Something overlooked, or perhaps denied as too unlikely to be as to warrant consideration...
Edgeworth holds his head in his hand. I hope never to experience such a phenomenon as this.
Althea: It seemed plain to me that it was not something to be extracted by force, so I tried rearranging the other stone groupings nearby to try to provide some amount of support or synergy.
Althea: Some of the stones had no relevance, but others drew various emotional responses.
Edgeworth lifts his head again. "Emotional?"
Althea: The strongest reaction was with the red and white stone. While others tended to have a particular emotional sense, this one seemed to have many emotions in a confused and tumultuous amalgam.
Edgeworth glances away uneasily. "I-I see..."
Althea: Next, I tried adding symbols to clarify the nature of things somewhat.
Althea: A divination sigil softened the ground a little, but the symbol for Daanvi turned it to stone.
Edgeworth: I'm sorry — Daanvi?
Althea: Daanvi, the Perfect Order. One of the outer planes.
Althea: Its energies strengthen things aligned with law and oppose things aligned with chaos.
Edgeworth nods thoughtfully.
Althea: I have my suspicions as to what that may indicate, but you might know better.
Althea: Irian didn't have all that much impact, but it did reverse some of the impact Daanvi had.
Althea: I tried your holy symbol next, but that threatened to shake apart the very foundations of that vision's reality...
Edgeworth seems deeply unsettled by that assertion.
Edgeworth: ...Er... in how literal a sense?
Althea looks Edgeworth in the eye, and there is a glimmer of sudden realization, although she merely replies, "Fairly literal."
Edgeworth looks to the door, troubled.
Althea: Eventually, I tried the symbol of Dolurrh, Realm of the Dead...
Edgeworth keeps staring at the door intently.
Althea: That produced a rain of salt water and turned the relevant patch of ground into mud.
Althea: I tried a mark of scribing, and that managed to cleanse things to the point of the water being clear enough to see a glow through from below.
Althea: A summoning sigil intensified the rain but purified the water more fully. A mark of detection calmed the pool clearly enough to allow me to see the stones in the sketch you've already seen.
Edgeworth: ...This should be ridiculous. This should be nonsense. Why, then, are far too many coincidences accumulating to ignore?
Edgeworth squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head.
Althea folds her arms and manages her own somewhat steely glare at Edgeworth as she prepares to deliver her next blow.
Althea: So, given all that, would you mind terribly explaining just what exactly magic and the dead have to do with each other in your world?
Edgeworth takes a breath as he summons up the courage to at least attempt a glare back. "Explain your logic."
Althea: From the moment I first encountered you, you have demonstrated a strong aversion to any mention of the concept of magic. Even having powers you considered magic-like demonstrated to you was something you accepted only grudgingly.
Althea: Witnessing a ritual casting of even a fairly simple spell, you reacted in such a way I'd almost think you were willing it not to be real.
Althea: After your overextension in turning, which seemed to have inflamed the memories of 'sins' against your 'faith', unless I've missed my guess, you then proceed to experience a nightmare wherein the dead accuse you of making a mockery of the temple of your faith.
Edgeworth looks annoyed. "It was a courthouse. Need I remind you that there isn't a religion involved?"
Althea raises an eyebrow. "Need I point out just how steeped in symbolism your profession and your approach to it already seems to be before we even get into the implications of your manifesting talent for divine magic?"
Edgeworth manages a firmer glare. "I believe the latter point is causing you to read too much into what's been presented!"
Althea: Speaking of the latter point, there's also the matter of your apparent struggle with the school of necromancy. Admittedly, that's not the easiest thing for some people to cope with anyway, but it seems to be especially difficult for you...
Edgeworth: What of it?
Althea: Dil mentioned in particular it was worst with regard to summoning undead.
Althea: And other elements in my vision tied Dolurrh and summoning in some way as well, along with a sense of trauma...
Althea: The undead in your dream accused you of ignoring or denying evidence of their actions... and I've seen you deny or at least try to deny one type of thing fairly categorically...
Althea: Well, two, rather, but perhaps that's connected somehow also...
Edgeworth is clearly struggling to keep his glare up now...
Althea: I'm not sure precisely why, as sharp and observant as you are on most subjects, and as fervently as you hold to the need to pursue the truth, you seem to be so reluctant to examine such matters... Yet it seems those very strengths of yours get turned around against their own nature when the subject of magic is in question... trying fervently to deny that such a resource as this could even exist, let alone be available to you.
Althea holds up the sketch.
Edgeworth appears nervous, though belatedly tries to bury this. "And precisely what sort of resource do you propose those even represent?"
Althea: While I'm not entirely certain on the point, I do get the impression that the stones from my vision may represent people you know or are otherwise connected to.
Althea: Perhaps a few of them may even be among those represented within the nightmare I witnessed.
Althea: Moreover, the people represented by the hidden stones clearly have some connection to magic, such as it exists in your world, and to the dead, though I suspect they are not dead themselves.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "And what precisely is your reasoning concerning that?"
Althea: Perhaps it's more hunch than anything, but these hidden stones are unbroken, whereas many of the stones associated with you are broken.
Althea: You did recognize some of the stones, I believe? Are not in fact the broken ones dead?
Althea: ...the hidden stones also appear to be dragonshards. That is to say, stones of magic.
Althea: And the magic you most fervently wish to deny, to the point of it being glaringly obvious to those who would teach you... is magic to summon the dead.
Edgeworth recoils. "Mrrph!"
Althea jerks slightly and glances around, looking startled.
Edgeworth notices Althea's reaction with confusion.
Althea: ...uh... did you... hear anything just now...?
Edgeworth: Aside from our conversation, no.
Althea: ...I could have sworn I just heard something shatter...
Althea shakes her head. "Nevermind."
Edgeworth shakes his head as well. "A-anyway... let's assume, for the sake of argument, that you're on the right track. Why, then, do you propose that I would deny a supposed reality of my world so fervently, even against convictions so strong as to cause a... magical reaction here?"
Althea: It is something of a conundrum. I can only think that it may be indicative of some kind of personal trauma.
Althea: There would seem to be some evidence from the nightmare to support that line of thinking as well.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Explain."
Althea: Several of the people there accused you of denying the truth in various ways. The lich accused you of trying to pin someone else's crimes upon her...
Althea: At least some of those things you stand accused of denying were most likely witnessed from those who were already dead at the time...
Edgeworth: And what exactly do you propose any of this has to do with any sort of trauma?
Althea: I may not have all the details worked out yet, but I think I'm starting to get a feel for the general shape of things. Perhaps you would care to indicate who exactly the shade who apologized to you was?
Edgeworth turns his head away, gripping one elbow with the opposite hand.
Althea: As I thought. It's clear enough, however, that he's very close to you, and you are trying to protect his memory.
Edgeworth: Hmph. Now you're just engaging in conjecture!
Althea: ...at the time of the incident, whatever it was, he was dead, and the lich was alive, is that not correct? Certainly her testimony would seem to indicate so.
Edgeworth squeezes his eyes shut. "If you're so certain, then be more specific!"
Althea: I believe her exact words were: "If none of it was real, then how do you explain how I died?"
Althea: Moreover, that itself was in response to further denial of what you had seen the dead do, which would seem to indicate her death was a much later occurrence.
Edgeworth looks over at Althea without turning his head. "It... doesn't necessarily follow that these supposed events occurred in that order."
Althea: ...fine. I can't disprove that, yet. But it's only a matter of time before I discern the rest of the pattern... and I should think one like you would not easily excuse me were I to drop such a matter, however uncomfortable it might be.
Althea closes her eyes, appearing to be concentrating.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow and peers at Althea. "If I might ask what you're doing now...?"
Althea doesn't respond.
Edgeworth shakes his head. I can only speculate that she may be attempting to continue the investigation in her own way.
Edgeworth looks away, annoyed. Not that I entirely understand her need to pry into a matter this personal.
Edgeworth: Even if one assumed that they are entirely what they claim to be, what motive could they possibly have? On the contrary, I would expect them to come to my defense.
Edgeworth shakes his head disgustedly. Return your thoughts to reality at once, Miles! Has that grown so difficult for you?!
Edgeworth raises his hand to chest level and gazes down at it... only to begin to tremble.
Edgeworth: Am I going mad?
Althea eventually opens her eyes a number of minutes later and sighs.
Edgeworth seems too caught up in his own unease to notice immediately.
Althea: It seems I have been pushing too hard. I apologize.
Edgeworth blinks, caught by surprise, and looks over. "What?..."
Althea: This is a matter that needs considerably more time to resolve, lest more harm than good be done.
Edgeworth half-frowns. "I can't say that I understand your sudden change of heart, but the reprieve is certainly welcome — particularly given how scant and soft the evidence you have appears to be."
Althea: ...I was concerned already. I've stated before I'm having difficulty second-guessing your needs. The right type of balance here is not readily apparent...
Althea: As for the question I think you tried to ask earlier, I was performing a divination.
Edgeworth glances away uneasily again. "...Understood."
Edgeworth: ...I believe I'd like to take the rest of the day off from my... studies.
Althea nods slowly. "I will inform Dil."
Edgeworth nods back. "Thank you."
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple for a moment. "I don't suppose chess exists in this place?"
Althea: This is Korranberg. There are chess groups meeting daily.
Edgeworth grins. "It would be refreshing to face a challenging sapient opponent for once."
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. "That is, aside from Franziska."
Althea pulls out a map case and sifts through some paper before pulling out a campus map. "There's a fairly open gathering going on this evening in room 207 of Jorthem Hall. ...can you read Common well enough to make those out? I can mark it..."
Edgeworth scrutinizes the map intently...
Edgeworth: Evening is longer than I would have preferred to wait under the circumstances, but this does represent an unusual opportunity.
Edgeworth points to a spot on the map with a glint of uncertainty in his eyes. "...Is this it?"
Althea: Yeah, you've got it. Some folks show up as early as three, so you needn't wait too terribly long.
Edgeworth stands, still holding the map. "Excellent. Much of that time would be consumed simply making our way to campus, would it not?"
The walk and the promise of chess opponents give Edgeworth enough to focus on as he and Althea make their way to the library district, then more specifically to Jorthem Hall in the Morridan college's set of blocks.
The classroom where the chess gathering is to happen is a large one, with pairs of desks of the same height pushed together, covered in pastel landscape tablecloths, and chessboards placed on top serving the needs of players. Both seating mats and booster seats are offered for the sake of opponents of wildly divergent size. One windowless wall is covered primarily with a curtain which also features a landscape, though to judge by the size and the lack of light leaking through the thin cloth, it's probably covering up the room's chalkboard. Another, smaller wall features the room's one window.
Edgeworth looks around at the dozen-and-a-half makeshift chess tables with approval. "We seem to have arrived ahead of everyone else. Is the game as popular here as the number of boards would make it appear?"
Althea: No, but we are limited by the size of the classroom after all.
Edgeworth begins to frown at the 'no', but then looks surprised at the elaboration. "Do you mean to imply that there's commonly a wait?"
Althea: There can be. Depends who shows up to which event. Particularly later on things can get a bit competitive, so a lot of folks like to get in some games early on before any organized matches get underway.
Edgeworth smirks widely. "Then I hope this proves to be as invigorating an evening as possible."
Althea: Think you'll make it to the final rounds?
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head, arms outspread. "It's entirely possible, depending on the level of competition here. I wouldn't expect to outdo the best chess players in my own world, but finding a challenge has been a challenge in itself."
Althea: Morridan prides itself on such skills as these, but this is the open group, not a fully organized tournament. We'll just have to see who shows.
Edgeworth looks between one of the human-sized setups and one of the gnome-sized ones. "Who decides the seating arrangements in this situation?"
Althea: Assuming there's a choice left to be made.
Edgeworth nods. "Are the sides typically chosen at random in the open group? I presume them to be so in the tournaments."
Althea shrugs. "I don't think there's a hard and fast rule, but I've never seen a dispute over it either. I'd imagine if there was one random would be the way to go."
Althea: Come to think of it, I think some of the competitive types like to go with challenger's choice on that.
Edgeworth grins. "I see."
Edgeworth: Do you yourself play?
Althea: Sometimes, yes.
Edgeworth crosses his arms, looking confident. "Then perhaps we should avail ourselves of the opportunity to choose our seating arrangements."
The two quickly settle specifics enough to seat themselves at one of the human-sized "tables" by Althea's choice and begin a game. By the time most of each side's pieces that weren't captured early have come into full play, other people, primarily gnomes, begin to trickle into the room...
Althea considers the board carefully before repositioning a black bishop.
Edgeworth looks briefly annoyed at that move, then looks the implications of it over.
Edgeworth glances between that bishop and his queen, then considers Althea's remaining rook before moving a knight into position to capture that bishop next turn if it stays where it is.
Althea considers momentarily before advancing a pawn to immediately lower-right of the bishop.
Edgeworth grins before advancing his knight to its other obvious possible move... "Check."
A young, frail-looking gnome looks over at the unfamiliar utterance, looking at Edgeworth, her eyes lighting up with a sudden realization as she starts making her way over to the two.
Illyvalen: Oh! It's you, isn't it?! The guy from 'Earth'!
Edgeworth blinks, then looks over and down at the speaker.
Edgeworth pauses before replying, "Indeed."
Althea chuckles. "Illyvalen, Miles Edgeworth. Edgeworth, Illyvalen. She's been working with me on a couple different projects."
Illyvalen: Ooh, is that that 'English' you were talking about?
Edgeworth pulls out from the makeshift table and stands in order to bow. I only hope her enthusiasm doesn't prove to be oppressive.
Edgeworth looks back to Althea. "Projects of what sort, if you're at liberty to divulge that information?"
Illyvalen grabs a spare chair to carefully drag over, clearly more interested in any conversation here than finding a game.
Althea: She's collaborating with me on some medical research, and there's also a larger archeological and anthropological project going on involving a number of us.
Illyvalen quietly repeats some of the more complicated-sounding words being spoken to herself.
Althea: She's also the linguistics expert of our group. She knows far more languages than I do.
Edgeworth actually looks relieved at that. "I see. That explains how, um, energetic she seems."
Althea: Mm, she has been pretty eager to meet you ever since I offered up a sample of something I remembered you saying to me when I first encountered you.
Althea: So, you gonna stay for the whole thing this time?
Illyvalen: Huh? Oh, yeah I dunno, maybe. The early part's usually more fun.
Edgeworth nods, then looks back to the gnome. "A pity my Common is still too poor for us to discuss anything in depth."
Althea nods. "I could always translate if need be, but I suspect she'll be content just to listen to you talk for a while."
Althea: Can't really disagree too much there, some folks do take it pretty seriously. The guy you forfeited on last time was pretty upset and all.
Illyvalen: ...wasn't really a forfeit, we didn't even have a game.
Althea moves one of her knights back to capture Edgeworth's.
Edgeworth seems too focused on making sense of the Common to notice immediately, but the fact does register quickly, prompting him to reseat himself.
Althea shakes her head. "When you win ten times in a row, and then decide to quit for the night while there's still a challenger, that counts as a forfeit."
Edgeworth smirks, then moves a rook boldly to Althea's side of the board, to a spot where his remaining bishop protects it now that the enemy knight is out of the way.
Althea ignores the rook, moving her other bishop across the board and capturing a pawn.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow and looks Althea's closer pieces over more carefully...
Edgeworth recoils. "Mrrgh?!"
Illyvalen peers at the board and grins. "That's just like you."
Edgeworth grits his teeth, growling slightly as he moves his queen to capture the bishop in question before it has a chance to back his king into a corner.
Althea nods slightly and moves a knight into place, capturing the queen. "Check."
Edgeworth moves his king aside.
Illyvalen: So, you know a bunch of other languages too, right?
Edgeworth looks to Illyvalen, putting a finger to his temple while trying to make sense of that rapid question.
Althea: Illyvalen, I know you're curious, but if you get him speaking all of them at once you won't figure out any of them...
Illyvalen: Aw, it won't hurt to at least hear a sample of each, right?
Althea shrugs and looks to Edgeworth. "I don't know if you caught any of that, but she's asking about the other languages you know."
Edgeworth: Ah, is that it... She speaks quickly enough to be difficult to understand.
Althea: That she does...
Althea: You might want to speak a bit slower, he's not that good with Common yet.
Illyvalen: Oh. Oh! Right, right, sorry. I'll-try-to-slow-down-a-bit.
Edgeworth: Thank you.
Edgeworth clears his throat. "Die andere Sprache die ich haben langjährige praktische Erfahrungen in Deutsch ist."
Illyvalen stares, fascinated. "What's that one called?"
Althea: Perhaps it might be best if I just translate it into Common?
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. "No objections."
Althea: The other language in which I have many years of practical experience is Deutsch.
Illyvalen does a reasonably credible job of repeating Edgeworth's comment, albeit her accent clearly needs work.
Edgeworth grins. "Ihr Geschick an das ist offensichtlich."
Althea: Her skill in this is obvious.
Illyvalen grins and blushes slightly. "Uh, thanks."
Edgeworth stands and bows. "Nichts zu danken."
Althea: You're welcome.
Over the next few minutes, Edgeworth demonstrates a few other Earth languages, even while continuing to play chess with Althea...
Illyvalen continues to mimic Edgeworth's demonstrations, seeming to get a little better at imitating his accents over time.
Edgeworth: ...Unfortunately, we've now reached the limits of what I can demonstrate — unless, of course, you wish to hear more of one in particular.
Althea continues to stare at the board as she repeats Edgeworth's line in Common. After an additional pause, she sighs and sets her king on its side. "You'd have me stalemated at the least in a few more moves. Still, I hope I put up an interesting fight."
Edgeworth grins. "Indeed you did."
Illyvalen: Well, so English and Deutsch, those sounded like they had some sort of common ancestry, I think?
Edgeworth looks to Illyvalen, then looks mildly impressed once he manages to parse the sentence. "Indeed. English in particular was further influenced by one of the descendants of Latin."
Althea continues to translate Edgeworth's comments.
Illyvalen: Mm, I thought I heard something like that.
Illyvalen: So which of those languages is most common in your world?
Edgeworth: That depends in part on how one counts. English is particularly widespread thanks to the influence of powerful countries over the centuries, but China is an especially populous country.
Edgeworth: Latin in particular is technically a dead language, primarily of scholarly interest. I know it in part due to its presence in the legal world and in part due to its linguistic influence.
Edgeworth: It's strange to consider, now that the subject arises, that Latin is at once a language of law and science and one of a powerful religion — not to mention a favorite for fictional spellcasting.
Edgeworth lapses into a thoughtful, uneasy frown.
Althea sets the pieces back up on the board, meanwhile. "Perhaps you should give Illyvalen a try. She's definitely one of the better players here."
Edgeworth snaps out of his reverie. "Really? Then she should certainly be worth my time."
Illyvalen: I guess I don't really know which one I should focus on. I'm guessing you'd probably prefer English, though, since you seem to go back to that whenever you're not trying to demonstrate one.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head after a moment. "I would have the simplest time teaching either that or German — er, that's what Deutsch is known as in English."
Althea finishes setting up the pieces. "Do you want to take a turn, Illyvalen?"
Illyvalen: Oh, sure, if you don't mind or anything.
Edgeworth taps his temple and grins. "Of course, I presume this will be an equal exchange. After all, I'm still only scarcely able to deduce what you're saying from context."
Illyvalen nods excitedly as Althea translates. "Oh, sure, I can help you with your Common. I can help you with Gnomish too if you want. Or Elven, or Halfling, or Dwarven, or Goblin, or Draconic, or—"
Althea: Easy, easy. He's not going to be in Korranberg indefinitely, there's only time to cover so much.
Edgeworth: Er, right...
Edgeworth glances away uneasily. "To say nothing of my having, er, other subjects to pursue as well."
Illyvalen: Right, right, sorry. I get a little carried away sometimes. I've got other research I can't neglect either. But I'm sure I can find time to help with Common.
Edgeworth looks back with a near-smile. "Thank you."
Illyvalen smiles widely. "You're welcome."
Over the next several hours, Illyvalen and Edgeworth play three games of chess, only the second of which the prosecutor manages to win. During this time, more people filter in until the room starts to get fairly busy. Most of those present are gnomes, along with some humans and dwarves, and the occasional elf, half-elf, halfling, or warforged.
Edgeworth grits his teeth as he lays down his king again. "It's fortunate that you and my late mentor will never cross paths."
Edgeworth looks aside with a frown. "Suffice it to say that it was necessary for me to learn how to appear to go down with a fight in the event that we might compete."
Edgeworth: That isn't to say that he wasn't remarkably skilled, however.
Illyvalen: A sore loser? Yeah, some of the competitive types can get a little scary sometimes.
Edgeworth looks to Althea with a question in his eyes, as he's unable to fill in every blank on his own this time.
Althea repeats Illyvalen's statement in English.
Edgeworth looks grim at the characterization of his mentor as a mere 'sore loser'.
Some conversations stop abruptly and some murmuring is freshly begun due to the appearance at the room's entrance of a humanoid creature nearly a full foot shorter than any of the gnomes present, with a bony frame and reptilian features, including dark, scaly skin, a vaguely crocodile-like head and digitigrade legs. The creature is dressed in attire not unlike that of the others present, but is wearing a brown traveling cloak with the hood down; the end of a tail peeks out from the back of the cloak as its reddish-brown eyes scan the room.
Althea: Ah, I was wondering if she'd show today.
Edgeworth looks over at the newcomer who caused the sudden shift in atmosphere.
Edgeworth: You know her?
Edgeworth: How does one discern the gender of her species to begin with?
Illyvalen looks in the same direction as Edgeworth and waves, calling out. "Hi, Tikra."
Althea nods. "She's on the research team I'm working with. I'm also her roommate while I'm staying in Korranberg."
Edgeworth nods. "I see."
Tikra looks over toward Illyvalen and Althea and nods; after taking a moment to remove her cloak and hang it from a hook on the wall near the door, she slowly makes her way over to their table.
Tikra: So, this is the strange man you spoke of?
Edgeworth simply observes for the moment. Yet another language...
Althea nods. "Seems he has some talent with chess; he bested me, and even Illyvalen once out of three games."
Tikra nods. "He intends to compete, then?"
Althea: I gathered as much, though that was before he faced Illyvalen. He is interested in the opportunity to play with various people, so I suspect he'll stick around for a while.
Althea: Tikra, Miles Edgeworth. Edgeworth, Tikra. She is I believe the only kobold student at the Library of Korranberg, though her reasons for being here are a subject she's rarely comfortable discussing much. She is quite accomplished academically, though she's relatively new to chess as yet.
Edgeworth stands in order to bow. "A pleasure, Tikra." She's rather different from what I would have expected a creature referred to as a kobold to look like.
Tikra nods curtly. "It is not often I hear of one who has managed to defeat Illyvalen. I gather he will be one of the stronger competitors tonight."
Illyvalen: Do you want to take a turn then? We still have a little bit before the serious folks start deciding what order to challenge in.
Althea: The language being spoken now is her native language, Draconic. The kobolds claim their race's ancestry back to the progenitor wyrms... er, I never did explain this world's creation mythos, did I?
Edgeworth sighs. "You did not."
Edgeworth: I suppose I'll have to endure this tale...
Althea: While the stories told by various religions explaining the creation of this world vary, the majority agree that the origins lie with three great dragons: Siberys, Khyber, and Eberron.
Althea: Siberys is said to have placed the stars in the sky, while Khyber is said to have followed in Siberys' wake, consuming them.
Althea: Eberron remained apart from them and brought life to the empty void.
Edgeworth simply listens with crossed arms, occasionally tapping his finger.
Althea: Eventually, Siberys confronted Khyber, and the two fought viciously.
Althea: Khyber emerged the victor, shattering the body of Siberys into countless fragments. And then Khyber turned on Eberron.
Althea: Eberron did not strike back, but evaded Khyber's attacks, circling about, until Khyber was exhausted.
Althea: Eberron enveloped and imprisoned Khyber within her own body, becoming the surface of the world we know. The fragments of Siberys' body formed a circle about our world.
Edgeworth: It's obvious what "circle" you refer to. Earth has no such ring, though some planets further from the sun do have them. One in particular is known for an especially spectacular set.
Althea: Siberys became known as the Dragon Above, Eberron as the Dragon Between, and Khyber as the Dragon Below.
Althea: Some versions also hold that during this time before the world, the progenitor wyrms discovered or created the Draconic Prophecy, and their struggle was born from the desire to control the outcome.
Althea: The drops of Siberys' blood which fell upon the world's surface became the dragons who inhabit Eberron. The blood of Khyber from under the surface became the fiends which eventually found their way to the surface to attack the dragons.
Althea: For that matter, the dragonshards are said to be fragments of the progenitor wyrms' bodies, hence being categorized and named by relation to each.
Althea: The dragons were at first defeated by the fiends and retreated to Argonnessen, while the fiends ruled Khorvaire, Sarlona and Xen'drik. Thus remained things for countless ages.
Althea: Eventually, with the discovery of the Draconic Prophecy and an alliance between the dragons and the couatls, the war began anew, and eventually the couatls sacrificed themselves to seal the fiends within Khyber.
Tikra looks impressed at Althea's rather lengthy exposition.
Althea: The dragons, weary from war, retreated to Argonnessen, leaving the remaining continents an empty wasteland.
Althea: Kobold legend holds that their race was formed from blood of the progenitor wyrms shed in the battle before the world was formed.
Althea: There are two known kobold subraces, the iredar said to be descended from Eberron, and the irvhir said to be descended from Khyber. There are also stories of a third, the irsvern said to be descended from Siberys, but no clear proof of their existence is known.
Tikra stares at Althea for a moment. "It sounds as though you are far better versed than I had realized, seer."
Althea shrugs. "I pick up things as I can. At any rate, while still limited, he is coming along well with Common, and should be able to follow if you keep things simple."
Tikra nods and looks to Edgeworth. "I would test your skill myself, should you be interested in a match."
Edgeworth looks to Tikra and puts his finger to his temple for a moment. Eventually, a near-smile spreads on his face. "I would indeed."
Illyvalen offers up her seat to Tikra.
Tikra nods politely to Illyvalen and takes a seat.
Althea: It's worth pointing out that Siberys, Eberron, and Khyber may not be the only progenitor wyrms; some hold that there are many other "Dragons Aloft" representing the orbiting planes.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow.
Althea: This is getting a bit into speculation territory, but I have come across some supporting research from those who have shared the notion... It's conceivable that the three progenitor wyrms may actually represent what were originally three separate planes drifting through the astral plane, that collided with each other, resulting in the birth of the material plane as we know it.
Edgeworth looks distinctly surprised. Revision of myths to match newer thought? That's rather unusual.
Althea: This might help to explain the unusual astral properties of the material plane, such as being able to attract other planes into an orbit, and projecting out the unusual partial mirrors of itself that are the ethereal and shadow planes.
Edgeworth: Hmm... I couldn't begin to speculate on that matter.
Tikra gathers her pieces and sets up her side of the board.
Edgeworth looks back to Tikra, noting that she's already chosen her side and nodding.
Edgeworth: Creation myths in my world are far more varied and far less mutable, though as I'm not a student of mythology I couldn't go into specifics about any of them.
Edgeworth: In any case, none bear the slightest resemblance to what the evidence suggests to be the truth of the matter — a truth incompletely understood, mind you.
Althea: ...I wouldn't say the reinterpretations I'm proposing are something that would go over well with everyone, but science does lead us in new directions, and we cannot simply discard older knowledge in so doing; there are undeniable factual and historical truths connected to these stories, however fantastic they may seem. Puzzling out how the truth fits together is no simple matter, and simply ignoring pieces that don't seem to fit won't get us to the right answer...
Edgeworth hmphs. "Much of what was called 'knowledge' in the ancient world bore more resemblance to poetry describing the world than to anything resulting from deep examination."
Edgeworth: The earliest logicians even insisted that any logic that contradicted religious scriptures must necessarily be wrong. It was only when mankind freed itself from such restrictions that true progress began.
Edgeworth moves a white pawn forward by two, freeing his queen-side bishop.
Althea: I cannot think of any precedent for that within the history of the sciences on Eberron. Where the modern religious doctrines of Eberron disagree, science can usually find little solid ground on which to arbitrate any such dispute.
Edgeworth blinks. "You speak as though science is older."
Tikra moves the corresponding pawn on her side.
Edgeworth brings the bishop out, to the edge of the board.
Althea: I could not say precisely what came first, but science and religion both date back to civilizations now long gone.
Edgeworth: If that's the case, then what they refer to as "divine magic" must be an extraordinary puzzle indeed not to have been unraveled before to anyone's knowledge.
Edgeworth: Then again, it sounds as though conflict is not entirely unheard of here either...
Tikra brings out her knight on the opposite side.
Tikra sets up her offensive gambits and tries to dominate the game from very early on, but Edgeworth manages to subtly defuse her advances and get in behind her defenses until she is reluctantly forced to admit defeat. By this point, the tables are full, with many spectators watching and making predictions on likely winners.
Several gnomes seek out Illyvalen, but she mostly defers such challenges to Edgeworth, who fares quite well for some time. As the pool of those actually still competing starts to dwindle, however, the challengers become much more of a match, and shortly after midnight someone has won their right to go against Illyvalen directly.
Edgeworth stands from his seat and bows to the challenger who defeated him, though it's noticeably wobbly...
Illyvalen yawns. "Well, I guess I couldn't put off challenges all night. You did really well, though."
Althea stands as well and looks to Edgeworth. "You look like you could probably use some rest. Shall we call it a night?"
Edgeworth looks to Althea, yawns, and reluctantly replies, "Indeed."
Edgeworth then turns to Illyvalen and bows again. "I'm glad to have helped."
Illyvalen smiles and nods to Edgeworth as she takes Althea's offered chair, repositioning it in place of the one Edgeworth was occupying.
Althea: I think we're going to take off for the night. Have fun.
Illyvalen: Okay. See you soon!
Edgeworth heads for the door, saying over his shoulder, "Goodbye."
Illyvalen waves. "Bye!"
While Edgeworth goes to sleep in his inn room satisfied, the pleasure proves to be fleeting; the next thing he's aware of is finding himself on the floor of a padded room with two doors with tiny windows directly opposite each other.
Edgeworth tries to move, but his eyes widen as he notices he's tied into a straitjacket. The continued presence of his cravat is the only dignity apparently afforded him.
Edgeworth looks uneasily to one of the doors as clanking and faint sounds of clockwork moving are heard past it...
A pair of judgmental, mechanical eyes peer through the window on that side. "And to think that you were doing so well, Mr. Edgeworth."
Edgeworth scrambles to reassemble his wits enough to glare back.
Inevitable: Letting yourself be convinced by coincidences? Considering learning how to use subjective, unverifiable methods? Are you even thinking about how you'll prove anything to the world at large anymore?
Edgeworth grits his teeth, but glares harder.
Inevitable: Or are you just hoping that with this so-called "magic", maybe you really can be a law unto yourself?
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! I'm fully aware now that no one human being can be perfect!
Inevitable: And who do you propose would oppose you when as far as the law is concerned, you'd be using methods that don't even exist?
Edgeworth: I... th-that is... grr...
Althea: Are... you aware who or what you are talking to...?
Edgeworth blinks and looks around. "...Althea?"
Inevitable: Hmph. Hallucinating again? Will we have to give you another injection?
Althea: I'm not here. You can respond mentally. Discreet responses are probably warranted.
Edgeworth: ...Ah. No, I haven't any idea...
Edgeworth stares up at the mechanical face in the small window, disturbed.
Althea: For what it's worth, it's lying. Khorvarian law is well aware of the capabilities of both arcanists and deipotents.
Edgeworth: Can you be certain that it's Khorvarian law it refers to?
Inevitable: Can you even trust yourself not to be indulging in self-delusion for the sake of what you want to be the truth in the first place?
Edgeworth winces. "Gnngh!..."
Althea: ...to be honest, no. But I cannot imagine why any law of Daanvi would fly in the face of well-defined, known facts.
Edgeworth: You presume quite a lot.
Althea: I cannot fully identify your captor, but it appears to be an inevitable; a construct built to enforce universal laws.
Althea: Also, in the event context has not made it clear, this is also a dream.
Edgeworth: I had suspected as much.
Edgeworth looks over his shoulder at the opposite door, then back at the one with the lecturing inevitable. "If I might ask a question concerning my apparent punishment, why does this cell have two doors?"
Inevitable: Hmph, this again? This is the only door. Remember that this time.
Inevitable turns and leaves...
Edgeworth stares at the now-empty window on that side, troubled.
Althea: If it would not be too bold to contradict such a source as that with mere conjecture, I would think perhaps the other door bears some investigating?
As if on cue, moaning and scraping becomes apparent from beyond said other door.
Edgeworth squeezes his eyes shut for a moment, then rolls over and looks to that window...
A rotting, distorted face appears in that window. "You can't delude yourself forever, Mr. Edgeworth."
Edgeworth glares at this captor as well.
Undead: You know what happened can't be explained any other way. You've turned it over in your mind hoping to find any other logical explanation, but you can't, can you?
Undead: Even if they'd gone to the effort to prove the possibility the case relied on more thoroughly, would you even have accepted it?
Undead: Or are you just hoping that maybe, if you just think a little longer about it, you'll find an explanation that doesn't imply that she was just what she claimed to be?
Edgeworth begins to look nervous, but maintains his glare as best he can...
Undead: The law isn't any more perfect than you are — didn't you just realize that?
Undead: And for that matter, shouldn't you have realized it seventeen years ago?
Edgeworth's eyes widen.
Undead: Have you really changed so much, or are you still deluding yourself for the sake of what you want to be the truth?
Edgeworth grits his teeth and growls...
Edgeworth: Do you, too, insist that there's only one door out of this cell?
Undead: Of course this is the only door. Are we going to have to force-feed you potions again?
Undead turns to leave...
Edgeworth shifts positions and stares at the wall uneasily rather than at either door...
Edgeworth looks rather annoyed. And just what is so intriguing?
Althea: I'm not sure. Perhaps both sides of this little conflict are just as blind to the real truth...
Edgeworth: I don't suppose you'd care to enlighten me?
Althea: As soon as I figure it out, sure.
Althea: Meanwhile, I suppose you could try to see if you can find a third door?
Edgeworth looks confused. That would only serve to make this arrangement make even less sense.
Althea: Perhaps. But if they are both either lying to you about the circumstances before you, or incapable of perceiving them themselves, then I suspect an option should be present beyond merely picking a side.
Edgeworth: Even if such a door existed, how would I open it in such a state as this?
Edgeworth squirms in the confines of his straitjacket.
Althea: We can figure that out when we know what kind of door it is.
Edgeworth looks around, shifting positions as necessary, in order to visually scan the walls, floor, and even ceiling for any other way out of the padded room... but only grows frustrated.
Edgeworth: This is ridiculous.
Althea: Perhaps you shouldn't rely on looking.
Edgeworth: Given that I can't exactly feel around for anything with my hands restrained as they are, what exactly are you proposing?
Althea: You're not really restrained; like I said before, this is a dream. Use the resources of your mind.
Edgeworth: Um, right...
The cords tying his arms in place snap, though the rest of the "outfit" stays in place despite his best efforts.
Althea: Don't push yourself too hard just yet; you may not be ready to unrestrain yourself fully. See what you can do with the mobility you have.
Edgeworth huffs. Very well.
Edgeworth begins half-crawling, half-dragging himself around the confines of the room, knocking at the padding on the floor and the lower parts of the walls for any changes in sound and examining the padding itself more closely for seams...
Edgeworth winces once he's done. Unfortunately, all I've been able to discern is that past the rather thick padding itself, the walls vaguely sound metallic.
Edgeworth: The shape of the room is unexpected as well. The length from door to door seems to be its greatest dimension, followed by the height, and finally the width.
Althea: It seems little surprise such sides as these would be perceived as distant...
Edgeworth: Point taken, though I wouldn't expect any room in an actual asylum to have been shaped like this.
Althea: I'm beginning to think there is only one door...
Edgeworth crosses his arms on the floor, leaning on them. Explain.
Althea: I think in a way, despite both sides seeming wrong, that both are in some way trying to represent 'truth'...
Althea: For a long time I've been observing what seems to be a pattern of what should come together in synergy instead clashing, one form of truth trying to bury another...
Althea: I'm starting to wonder if both of those are the same door somehow, and it's you who are insisting on seeing them as separate.
Edgeworth recoils into a fully hand-supported position. "What?!"
Althea: The inevitable is reminding you of what you think you know and trying to keep you grounded. The undead tried to remind you of the truths you know that don't fit so easily, and what you suspect or outright fear that may imply. Both see following them as the only way out, because both see themselves as representing facing the truth.
Edgeworth appears nervous. On what basis could you possibly...?!
Althea: The reason you're here is because you're running away from both. You pitted them against each other so that you could remain locked between, neither unaware of nor admitting to the source of the conflict. By casting your own sanity into doubt, you can excuse not reconciling the 'impossibility' you've established. Am I wrong?
A shattering sound is audible in the distance.
Althea: ...there that sound is again. Maybe that's normal for people from your plane...?
Edgeworth silently stares at the ground uneasily.
Althea: This is a prison of your own making; you can free yourself from it. You simply must first realize that there is only one way out. There isn't a choice to make; the choice, the sides, are themselves the illusion.
Edgeworth: But... that's not true.
Edgeworth flinches before correcting himself: ...Not entirely, at least.
Althea: Feel free to enlighten me, then.
Edgeworth turns his head to the side sharply with a glower.
Althea: It is true that they are not without their differences. The inevitable seeks to excise while the undead seeks to incorporate... But those aren't really separate paths to the truth... moreso different elements of the search.
Edgeworth appears unmoved by this assertion.
Althea: ...hmm... or would you have it that it was not "you" who set these sides against each other? You don't appear to be under the effects of a magical compulsion, as tempting an explanation as that might be, so I think this comes back to the matter of trauma...
Edgeworth: Must we?
Althea: ...no. Under the circumstances, if you would rather simply remain here, I'll cede the wisdom of patience.
Edgeworth glances aside. "Hmph." Precisely why should I care about the outcome of a dream to begin with?
Althea: Because it's representative of a real dilemma that's holding you back?
Edgeworth winces, then shudders, then finally sighs. ...Very well.
Althea: There is still a good deal I do not know, but I can see the larger patterns playing out. This element of your world you cannot acknowledge, this magic of the dead, represents a problem for something you want— nay, I would say something you feel you need to believe...
Althea: What is the lie— no, perhaps a better question, what is the contradiction at the center of all this? Somewhere, the pieces of the truth as you know it are arranged in a shape that they cannot fit...
Edgeworth glowers. Once more, you're being far too vague!
Althea: I might be able to help unravel it, but I'll need to know more about the source of the imagery about us, particularly I think the first nightmare...
Althea: If we might begin with that lich the quori was impersonating... she implied that you were privy to the circumstances of her 'death'. She also bore a grievous wound, but one I doubt you were the one to inflict; I suspect that is supposed to be the wound that 'killed' her...
Althea: Can you tell me what transpired to lead to her suffering that injury?
Edgeworth's eyes widen and his breathing grows shallower...
Althea: Well, we'll have to come back to that eventually... Perhaps you could give some idea of how she profaned your temple? Or would you prefer I guess?
Edgeworth glares forward. Why do you continue to insist on referring to it as such?!
Althea: Because I fear your hostility to the idea of making such a connection will not serve you well on this path. There are truths to be found in things that may not be literally true.
Edgeworth appears disturbed, remembering Althea's description of her abstract dream...
Edgeworth sighs with gritted teeth. I fear I have little choice but to concede that point.
Althea: If I were to speculate from the pieces I've picked up from speaking with you and observing these dreams, I would venture that this woman influenced a case in which you were involved, perhaps peddling knowledge gained from the dead? You accuse her of being a charlatan and selling lies to the court?
Althea: And this happened... seventeen years ago, was it?
Edgeworth: HOLD IT! How is it that you associate that date with this alleged event?! The captor who spoke of it only referred to the imperfection of law!
Althea: And it is my thinking that the law failed somehow at that time. And the way in which it came to fail is at issue here, is it not?
Edgeworth: You began this line of questioning claiming to be on the trail of trauma. However, you've yet to explain why such an event would affect me so deeply as to, in your own words, cause my strengths to be turned around against their own nature!
Althea: Yes. You've been rather reticent on that point yourself. Perhaps you can't yet tell me who he was or what his connection to you is, but I wonder if you might tell me... what was that shade apologizing to you for?
Edgeworth squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head rapidly, looking too desperate in the process to seem to be answering Althea with the gesture.
Althea: Was he apologizing for answering that woman's summons? Or perhaps more specifically for what he told her — or said through her?
Althea: Was he apologizing for lying?
Another shattering is audible, this one higher up and somewhat closer.
Edgeworth holds his head in his hands, shuddering...
Althea: Whether in actuality or as part of a charlatan's act, a lie attributed to him became part of a case, did it not?
Edgeworth: It... y-yes.
Althea: The man who spoke to you... must have been someone who would easily be believed to have insight on the case. Perhaps he was witness to a crime?
Edgeworth: ...He was no mere witness.
Althea: No? Perhaps... the victim?
Edgeworth chokes back a sob. That was indeed the assertion.
Althea: Testimony from a victim is indeed one of the most valuable pieces in trying to pin down the identity of a suspect, and would be the most natural source for law enforcement to rely on... save for crimes which leave the victim... unavailable to grant such testimony. Shall I understand that he was murdered, and then called upon to incriminate the one who took his life?
Edgeworth pauses for a moment to restrain his emotions...
Edgeworth: Earth isn't like Eberron.
Althea: ...Indeed, such evidence would be inadmissible, if it was not recognized by the court as coming from the purported witness. Yet, if such a method is not even recognized, I would imagine there would be no specific prohibition upon the watch against using it however they might in focusing their investigation...?
Edgeworth gasps sharply. How did... no, I suppose the logic is rather obvious.
Edgeworth shakes his head. Yet in such circumstances, even if one presumed the existence of such a resource, how would one know a real one from a fraud?
Althea: Indeed, how would one know? I believe you yourself were accused of bearing witness to such a summoning by one of the shades summoned to... help a phoenix, was it?
Edgeworth: First, Phoenix Wright is a fellow human being. Second, there was frankly no proof that it was anything more than motivational showmanship!
Edgeworth is, however, pale...
Althea: Perhaps on its own... but I have a feeling you've witnessed this phenomenon more than once... However, if we might tie a few more things together... there was a living person performing this purported summoning. One of the people represented by those strangely-shaped stones, if I'm not mistaken?
Edgeworth: Even if that were the case, repetition alone wouldn't prove that it wasn't a matter of sleight of hand!
Althea: Indeed not. It is not merely that it happened again that's significant. It's when, how, and why.
Edgeworth folds his arms on the floor and leans on his elbows.
Althea: Still, we may be getting ahead of ourselves a bit. That's part of the great contradiction, but the first part is the trauma. This incident in which a man is murdered, purportedly questioned over his murder, and apparently lies about it...
Althea: Were you prosecuting that case, seventeen years ago?
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. Do I honestly come across as so old?
Althea: I do not know your age, nor even whether the people of your world age as humans here do. Many races have wildly different life spans.
Edgeworth: I'm twenty-six.
Althea: I am going to guess from context then that nine is a younger age than your people would begin a profession?
Edgeworth rolls his eyes. Quite.
Althea: Which eliminates any professional connection to the case, and thus reinforces the likelihood of a deeply personal one.
Edgeworth grits his teeth and recoils into a hand-supported position upon realizing how he managed to get cornered there.
Althea: There really are two primary roles I think you might have in such a case that would lead to such a deep emotional connection.
Althea: Either as someone personally connected to the victim... or perhaps as a suspect...
Althea: Well, there is a third possibility, that of a witness, but the known details seem to cut against such an explanation...
Edgeworth's eyes dart between the two larger, doorless walls of the large, oddly-shaped room.
Althea: Let's assume for the sake of argument that the victim was questioned, somehow, for a lead in this case. From the context, I would further presume that this lead turned out to be false. That then raises some interesting possibilities about the victim's apparent post-mortem actions.
Edgeworth: What's "interesting" about such a possibility?!
Edgeworth pounds the floor with the palm of one of his hands, a rather ineffective gesture given the padding.
Althea: There are two ready explanations for such a situation. Either he didn't know who had killed him... or he deliberately directed the blame away from his killer.
Edgeworth squeezes his eyes shut and clenches his teeth, shuddering...
Althea: Moreover, in the former case, one might reasonably expect that he should simply testify to his ignorance. Unless he feared a likely consequence of his failing to cast such blame...
Claws can be heard scraping against both doors...
Althea: You... would have been a suspect, would you not?
Edgeworth: Wh-why do you believe that?
Metallic pounding, somewhat muffled by the padding, echoes from the distant ceiling.
Althea: You won't admit to his relation, but I believe I could discern similarity of features. You and he are kin, are you not?
Edgeworth: Even if that were the case, it doesn't necessarily follow that I was in any position to... to...!
The room jolts briefly under the seeming outside attacks, causing the already-troubled Edgeworth to collapse onto his face and whimper.
Althea: You would not necessarily need to be able to. The scenario I'm suggesting relies only on the credible belief from certain observers that blame could be cast your way in the absence of a more promising suspect.
Edgeworth lifts his head shakily, wide-eyed, even as the hissing of a gout of acid striking one of the walls is overheard.
Althea: If the watch was so hard up for clues that they'd rely on something the reality of which the world at large, to your description, denies... there might not be too much hope for a successful resolution to the case if the victim professes ignorance. Unless the circumstances he does know and the cause of his ignorance themselves point the investigation in someone's direction...
Edgeworth begins to shrink, and a rumbling sound begins to build...
Althea: Whether he might have incompletely witnessed circumstances that drew his own suspicions upon you, or merely saw how others could draw such a conclusion... the motive would seem relatively understandable. Particularly if he believed there were few possibilities as to the truth...
Edgeworth, now apparently prepubescent and in a dark grey suit with a red bow-tie instead of the straitjacket and cravat he was in before, blinks suddenly at that assertion and unsteadily rises to his feet. In a voice suitable for his new form, he stammers, "Wh...what?"
The rumbling fades, and there's a pause in the outside attacks...
Althea: He acted to protect his child.
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! I... I object to that action! Whatever the motive, it was still perjury — it would still make him a hypocrite!
Edgeworth tears up.
Another shattering is heard outside, this time not as high up and still closer than the last one. To judge by the inhuman screeches, the fragments of whatever shattered struck a lot of the assailants outside.
Edgeworth: I... I-I can't accept that as a possibility...
Althea: So he was also an officer of the court?
Edgeworth: ...He was one of the best defense attorneys in living memory.
Althea: I see.
Edgeworth: How could you possibly cast such aspersions on Father?!
Althea: I merely follow where the evidence provided by your own mind leads me.
Althea: There might be other explanations... but this is the one that haunts you, is it not?
Edgeworth: Hmph. I've been haunted by false scenarios conjured by my mind before. Why should I give this one any more weight?
Althea: ...Indeed. I would venture to guess one such scenario is the reason you believed you might have been quori food as a youth... And that it stems from this very incident.
Edgeworth glances at the tiny window of one of the doors. You needn't explain your logic concerning that.
Althea: Still, you are correct, this is a hypothetical scenario whose verifiability relies on establishing what your world's law did not recognize: that there is reality to this magic which summons the dead.
Edgeworth crosses his arms, looking every bit as haughty in the process as he does in his adult form.
Althea: I believe when we broached this subject the first time, you brought up the question of whether events indeed occurred in a particular order.
Althea: I think we've established one thing quite clearly, given the nature of this incident seventeen years ago.
Edgeworth glances aside. That we have.
Althea: The woman who purported to summon your father was most certainly alive at that time.
Althea: Was she also the victim of a murder?
Edgeworth tries to contain his rebuilding nerves. ...The wound that you pointed out earlier was fatal, yes.
Althea: You were involved in this case, for reasons beyond her role in the incident, were you not?
Edgeworth's attempts at remaining calm are cracking quickly. Y-yes.
Althea: Were you prosecuting?
Edgeworth: Er... no, although I did aid the prosecution's investigation for part of the case.
Althea: Moonlighting as an inquisitive, then. I do recall you mentioning such.
Althea: Was the culprit found?
Edgeworth appears uneasy. Apparently, yes.
Althea: You believe the wrong suspect was convicted?
Edgeworth: The man who dealt the fatal blow could have been no other, given the evidence.
Althea: And yet, you have a problem with it. Perhaps his motive?
Edgeworth 'wraps' himself.
Althea: Were there other suspects?
Edgeworth: Yes. One of them proved to be an accomplice, in fact.
Althea: So this was a conspiracy to commit murder?
Edgeworth squeezes his eyes shut. Allegedly, though not of the victim herself.
Althea: They killed the wrong target?
Edgeworth: Supposedly, they acted to defend the intended target.
Althea: So, there was a somewhat complicated intrigue present... a conspiracy to commit murder and a conspiracy to thwart it...
Althea: Was the victim part of the murder plan?
Edgeworth quivers. Allegedly, no. Furthermore, she had motive to act in defense of the intended victim.
Althea: Those conspiring to thwart the murder took the life of their own? As a sacrifice?
Edgeworth recoils, though the effect is lessened slightly given his current size and lack of cravat. "Wh-what?! They're backward, not barbaric!"
Althea: ...This was a conspiracy of those who summon the dead?
Edgeworth glares forward, but is shaking as he does so. On what basis do you believe that?!
Althea: I don't believe that the way you spoke of this 'they' that you were referring only to those who are part of the case. You seemed to be referring to a larger group association, like some sort of foreign culture.
Althea: Or given your general attitudes, perhaps a religion?
Edgeworth's eyes pop wide. "Gnnngh!"
Althea: If the victim was not a sacrifice, that would seem to indicate the death as accidental. Yet the need for an accomplice would suggest premeditation. Or was the accomplice's involvement merely to cover up the crime?
Edgeworth sighs. She was indeed called upon to aid in a coverup, yes.
Althea: So what became of this conspiracy to commit murder? Was their intent sufficiently indiscriminate that the death of the victim was sufficient to satisfy their goals?
Edgeworth: No; there was but one victim in mind. Since you've already realized the religious aspect, I'll clarify that the matter involved a succession issue.
Althea: So both conspiracies were from members... I was about to ask.
Edgeworth: The difficulty lies in opportunity. No one with the motive to kill the intended heir, or indeed any ill motive towards her at all, was actually in the area or even capable of being so.
Althea: No one living, you mean...
Althea: I am at some disadvantage in not knowing precisely how summoning undead works in your world... but it might be reasonable to think that perhaps the one summoning an entity might not fully know that entity's motives?
Edgeworth: Hmph. Why do you presume that I would know any better about this alleged capability?
Althea: Because you are alleged to have witnessed it.
Edgeworth glances aside. That would hardly give me the level of insight you presume.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, a murder case with no obvious answer is hardly enough reason on its own to reconsider the boundaries of reality!
Althea: But there was an answer, was there not? You did say that there was sufficient evidence to prove the killer's identity.
Edgeworth: His identity, yes. A rational sequence of events, no.
Althea: Moreover, the term murder would seem to imply a greater level of culpability than a simple accident. What brought this beyond his merely being the cause of her accidental death?
Edgeworth: The murder weapon was taken from her person and thrust through her back.
Edgeworth appears uneasy about this detail as well...
Althea: Then there was an intent to kill...
Edgeworth grits his teeth. And yet, no rational motive for him to kill her!
Althea: But there was a motive to kill someone, yes?
Edgeworth: And yet, a matter of simple mistaken identity makes no sense either — one of those who stood to benefit from the conspiracy was verifiably imprisoned all the while, while the other was both unwitting and far shorter than the victim.
Edgeworth holds his head in one hand...
Althea: And if his intended target were already dead, could he have 'killed' her? Perhaps an injury like that might at least interfere...
Edgeworth: ...The allegation is that such an act would have been of use in the heat of a life-threatening situation, if not necessarily a permanent solution.
Edgeworth: But I ask again, what reason other than mere convenience would I have to consider such a fanciful tale?!
Althea: ...true, merely witnessing magic or psionics was not sufficient to sway you when we met, as I recall.
Althea: You apologized only once you yourself had made use of the fruits of magic.
Althea: The question is not whether you had reason to consider it; it's already well established that you have put substantial effort into trying to find any possible alternative to an explanation of which you are already aware.
Althea: Context would then suggest that the most ready cause for you having come to consider the implications of this magic of your world... is by making use of some aspect of it yourself.
Edgeworth's eyes widen.
Edgeworth: What — why would I even have made use of anything of the sort?!
Althea: Perhaps in the pursuit of evidence?
Edgeworth: Why do you propose that I would have entertained the notion that it would help to begin with?
Althea: Perhaps because the case itself involved magic?
Edgeworth glowers. I had no reason to believe that at the time.
Althea: So you discovered the role of magic in the development of this case after you used magic in starting to unravel it?
Edgeworth grits his teeth as he realizes just what he let slip there, then once again turns his head to the side while grabbing one elbow.
Edgeworth: ...It was not my discovery.
The room itself shatters, the fragments lodging themselves in the dozens of quori that were clustered around it. The room seems to have been hanging from the intersection of a pair of giant chains, only two of several crisscrossing ones that stretch through the void.
Edgeworth cries out as he tumbles downward amidst fragments of metal and monstrous bodies...
Althea: Do not forget this is a dream. It is your dream, and you have some amount of control over it. You also know what is true, even if it is difficult.
Some of the stronger, more grotesque quori seem to have survived, as they're flailing and attempting to steer towards the falling boy...
Edgeworth struggles to steady his breathing and thoughts alike at Althea's 'words'...
Edgeworth is enveloped in pale blue light for a second; when it fades, he's at his usual age and in his usual suit again, but sporting a pair of steel clockwork wings that he immediately uses to fly downward faster.
Edgeworth spreads the wings and swoops into a large vertical U-turn, thus dodging the falling debris and quori. He flaps upward for a second to retain momentum, but eventually slows to a hover.
Edgeworth puts a hand to his chest as he tries to catch his breath... Dreams such as these can't be good for my heart.
Althea: ...Perhaps they are at the least good for your mind...
The giant chains nearby blur, then retract into distant parts of the void with a deep rattling sound, leaving nothing but blackness apparent.
Edgeworth awakes with a start, though is used enough to this even now not to bolt upright. Given that his room is dark and so was that all-too-vivid dream when it ended, it takes him a moment to get his bearings.
Edgeworth rubs his eyes, stretches, then rolls onto his back and sits up.
Edgeworth: ...It's strange to contemplate that the very role of dreams in my life seems to have inverted itself.
Edgeworth: What was once a source of naught but lies and pain now serves to force me to grow closer to the truth. The very concept is mind-wrenching.
Edgeworth stares futily at his lap with unseen unease.
Edgeworth: I'm no stranger to how painful the truth can be, nor even to experiencing that pain personally...
Edgeworth: I... should therefore be able to overcome this.
Edgeworth: I do indeed know the truth — have known the truth. When I look back, some of my strongest moments since my arrival have been when I flirted with embracing that very truth.
Edgeworth: And yet instead, lies begat lies, and hypocrisy begat hypocrisy, until at last the truth inevitably backed me into a corner.
Edgeworth shudders... ...Why? He should have trusted justice to run its due course... Why?!
Edgeworth chokes and tears up...
Once dawn has passed by, Althea arrives at the inn where Edgeworth has been staying. Just outside Edgeworth's room, she encounters a halfling in the process of dusting an everburning torch set in a tasteful sconce, who glances over her shoulder at the relevant door with a concerned frown.
Althea knocks gently on the door.
Edgeworth opens it from within after a brief moment, then nods to Althea with a sober, grim expression before stepping aside.
Althea nods and steps inside.
Edgeworth closes the door and locks it before heading over to take a seat in one of the larger-scaled chairs.
Althea takes a seat as well, hesitating a moment before speaking.
Althea: This... has been a difficult few days for you. I have pressed as hard as I have on these issues because I perceived a conflict within you that seemed likely to be unhealthy. For what it's worth, I'm sorry for making your loss my business, as it were...
Edgeworth glances aside with a frown. "Were it merely a matter of loss, the conflict you took note of wouldn't have taken root."
Althea: If anything, it's something of a deferred loss... you lost him a long time ago... but you've only just recently truly lost the image you had of him...
Edgeworth: Point taken. ...It's particularly difficult given that what he taught me as a boy prevented me from falling too far.
Althea: ...Perhaps I am fortunate to have become disillusioned at a much younger age. I don't really know.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Make no mistake — I'm certainly not about to abandon my ideals merely because someone else failed to live up to them."
Althea: I would be astonished if this trial were enough to shake the foundations of your faith.
Althea: In my case, at least, it happened soon enough for me to pursue a different path than I might have otherwise, and I suspect I'm better off for it... even if it is trading one type of pain for another...
Edgeworth: The course of my own life was altered by that... incident as well. Though the path I walked to get there was questionable, I do believe that in the end, prosecution suits me better than the dream of defense I once harbored.
Althea: The greatest benefit to doing work here, to my mind, is that there is no danger any of it will become someone's secret; this society is too well dedicated to learning and sharing knowledge. Even if my House derives the most benefit, others may do so as well...
Althea: I... touched upon it earlier, but my House is the primary source of healing most anyone who is not well-placed in a religion, an adventurer teamed with a divine caster, or a divine caster themselves, can realistically obtain.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm as he waits to see just where this is going.
Althea: The Healer's Guild practices the time-honored form of discrimination by wealth. Got money, we're here to help. If not, enjoy the ravages of nature and disease.
Althea: Healing without exacting full price is a very serious offense.
Edgeworth: I see... Such matters vary by country where I'm from.
Althea: ...my family traveled during the Last War, providing aid to the wounded.
Althea: I saw my share of suffering... and I saw comfort bestowed on some, and denied others...
Althea: ...I have found it easier to give up the chance to provide such aid directly, rather than have to apply such a standard myself...
Althea: Research suits me much better, I think...
Edgeworth looks firm. This is, perhaps, another vocation in which self-benefit undermines the very purpose.
Edgeworth: If you don't mind my asking, why are you telling me this?
Althea: ...it seemed like you should know. And I've had perhaps too much advantage on you in the matter of such knowledge of late.
Edgeworth looks slightly confused at first, but nods once Althea clarifies. "I see."
Althea: ...Perhaps it is a meaningless gesture; I at least had the choice to share.
Edgeworth: For my own part, I believe I owe you some clarification of what you've deduced.
Edgeworth looks aside sadly. "Without getting into detail, Father was killed after falling unconscious i-in the midst of a struggle. The situation made it appear as though there were but two viable suspects."
Edgeworth: Clues were scant; in retrospect, there was but one clue pointing toward the possibility that anyone else could have been involved, and that went overlooked.
Althea nods slowly. "And you were one of the two suspects?"
Edgeworth's head turns further aside as he takes hold of one elbow. "Y-yes."
Edgeworth: Justice proceeded far more slowly in that time, to little real benefit — none whatsoever, in that particular case.
Edgeworth: After an investigation far too long for the size of the... c-crime scene, that was when the alleged...
Edgeworth sighs. "I'm sorry. That was when the spirit medium was secretly called in."
Edgeworth: And that, apparently, was when Father betrayed his own values.
Althea ponders this term for a bit. "So these people... serve as vessels for those they summon?"
Edgeworth nods. "Yes; in fact, they even take on their appearance. Furthermore, that's critical to how the incident on the mountain a month and a half ago played out."
Althea: Fascinating. Please, continue.
Edgeworth: I'd rather not dwell on that part of my past for longer than is necessary, but suffice it to say that ultimately, justice was not served, and the truth wasn't even suspected.
Althea nods. "I am gathering that the truth did eventually come to light."
Edgeworth: Indeed, though not until fifteen years later, on the eve of the statute of limitations running out.
Edgeworth squeezes his arm.
Althea nods. "Is this when the spirit medium was killed?"
Edgeworth: No. That wasn't until two years later — a mere month and a half ago.
Edgeworth hmphs and half-smirks bitterly, looking partway back to Althea. "You characterized the matter as involving two conspiracies, but the effort to defend that medium's heir — the heir to the head of the entire tradition — lacked any sort of organization."
Edgeworth: In brief, it involved a few people independently playing hero and a rather confusing juggling of a... h-hostile g-ghost... in attempts to prevent her from killing the heir.
Althea: Hmmm... then I take it the ghost had no means of controlling whether and by whom it was summoned?
Edgeworth: Nor, apparently, did she have any idea whose... body she was inhabiting at any given time.
Althea: Ah. That could pose some... oh. Oh, I see. Fascinating.
Althea: I'm guessing this was at some point crucial in establishing a safe haven for the intended victim?
Edgeworth falls into an uneasy silence.
Edgeworth: ...The heir "disappeared" for a time from a location with no escape route due to that.
Althea: ...though that does raise the question of why the ghost was not conspicuous in its presence, if this disappearance was any sort of mystery...
Edgeworth: Because she was the twin sister of someone yet living and present in the area.
Edgeworth begins to look rather frustrated.
Althea: If I'm disrupting your explanation too much I can hold questions for later.
Edgeworth shakes his head. "It's the matter of looking at the situation through such a lens itself that I find trying."
Edgeworth: To say nothing of both the memories of failures on my part and the realization of those that could have been.
Edgeworth stares into the distance with a grim expression.
Edgeworth: In the end, three things were horribly amiss that defy any other explanation.
Edgeworth: The first, as we... discussed previously, were the circumstances of the elder medium's death. The second, the observation of what seemed to be the still-living twin in two places at once. Finally, the disappearance of the heir when she should have been trapped, and the circumstances of her subsequent reappearance.
Edgeworth: I might have remained confident that it was simply a matter in which the truth would take years to emerge, if not for the fact that before these events were explained in any way, a... trinket had been foisted upon me.
Althea: ...was it, by any chance, an unusually-shaped stone?
Edgeworth: Indeed, though the scribbling you drew through them wasn't present.
Edgeworth: The explanation I was offered was so ridiculous that I could barely stand to listen, and yet, the presence of secrets in those who refused to share them when asked did indeed register to my eyes alone while it remained on my person.
Edgeworth glances aside. "It was an aggravating phenomenon to interact with, to be entirely honest, yet I can no more easily deny its utility than I can explain it through mundane means."
Edgeworth raises a hand slightly and looks down at it wonderingly. "And now, there's the promise of more, this time under my own control. I'm not even certain whether I'm pursuing an ethical path or merely succumbing to temptation."
Althea: I would think that that is a matter of how you practice your craft, not what tools you have at your disposal.
Edgeworth hmphs. "Tests that cannot readily be repeated by others for the same results are of little use."
Althea: You're hardly the only divine caster around here.
Althea: Moreover, finding the truth and proving it are often significantly different matters.
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. "I'm all too aware of that."
Althea: For that matter, many divination abilities are well within the reach of arcanists, not to mention psions or bards.
Edgeworth: If verification is as easy to come by as you imply, then perhaps I have little to fear after all.
Althea: So if this all came out that much more recently, then what is it that brought the other part of the truth to light two years ago?
Edgeworth looks away again. "...I'd rather not discuss that as yet. It has no bearing on the particular conflict you hoped to resolve in any case."
Althea frowns. "I see..."
Althea: You mentioned this item revealed people's secrets to you. How so?
Edgeworth: It induced visions of locks, the number of which was proportionate to the subject's recalcitrance on the matter.
Althea: So you could get a read on just how much someone was hiding while interrogating them?
Edgeworth: Or rather, just how fervently it was being hidden. As aspects of the facts being hidden or their reasons for doing so were proven, the locks would shatter one by one.
Althea: As did your 'cell' just now.
Edgeworth hrmphs. "It should come as no surprise that a dream might draw on familiar imagery."
Althea: Except that I have the feeling some of the imagery was more familiar to me than to you...
Edgeworth: Indeed, no such creatures as these "inevitables" you mentioned exist even in the popular fiction of my world.
Edgeworth frowns. "It's rather peculiar."
Althea: There would seem to be sufficient evidence that those who dream in your world project to somewhere other than Dal Quor, if indeed the mechanics of dreaming are similar for your world in the first place.
Althea: Perhaps some of the substance of your dreams is being filled in based on the subconscious awareness of others in Dal Quor...
Edgeworth peers at Althea, but doesn't directly question it.
Edgeworth: As I mentioned before, dreaming is not thought to entail any sort of "projection" at all where I'm from.
Althea: Yet you are similar enough to us to dream as we do when you're here.
Althea shrugs. "I don't know that we can draw any conclusions."
Edgeworth shrugs as well. "Perhaps not."
Althea: There are certainly spells that can assist in interrogations, though perhaps not in ways quite so precisely tailored to an inquisitive's needs.
Edgeworth: I believe you alluded to as much before.
Edgeworth: Given the impression I felt when she made that assertion, how could I forget?
Edgeworth: That sort of thing is hardly commonplace where I'm from, in any case. The supernatural is neither everyday nor integrated into society as it is here.
Althea: But it was something someone felt you needed. Either as a tool... or as an experience...
Edgeworth glances aside. "If one assumes that he was in his right mind when he offered it to me in the first place. His grip on consciousness at the time was unsteady."
Edgeworth: That being said... had he not done so, then perhaps it is my trust in him that would have faltered as the case progressed.
Edgeworth appears troubled by that thought.
Althea: Anyway, I'm guessing that what motive could be established for the killing... probably involved the victim summoning the intended killer?
Edgeworth closes his eyes, resigned. "That... seems to have been the case."
Althea: And the intended killer... was the woman who spoke of the futility of trying to punish the dead?
Edgeworth opens his eyes again at that, pleasantly surprised. "Impressive."
Althea shrugs. "It seemed likely. She had to be significant to all this, and her reacting specifically to your attempting to run her through with a sword seemed... relevant."
Edgeworth peers. "'Had to be'?"
Althea: She was part of the victim's entourage in the nightmare. I suspect all of those there had some kind of connection to at least one of these incidents.
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Not all of them, no."
Althea: Her comment was also fairly striking.
Althea: I gather somewhere along the line, there was some desire to punish her for her misdeeds even after her death... You did say she was the twin of the murderer's accomplice...
Edgeworth: ...By that time, I was a mere bystander, frozen in the gallery.
Edgeworth takes hold of his elbow once more, looking away.
Althea: I'm guessing part of what made so much of what came about difficult to deny... is that this dead woman was at some point standing in court in place of the original suspect?
Althea: And the medium she inhabited was the intended victim.
Edgeworth: A fact you deduced from my allusion to the circumstances of her reappearance being unusual.
Edgeworth squeezes his elbow.
Althea: And what of the patsy who was intended to facilitate the murder?
Edgeworth: Ultimately, she came to no physical or legal harm. Beyond that, I know little of her fate.
Althea nods. "I can't say I fully understand the matter, but it seems like I've got the gist of the salient details."
Edgeworth: I will say this much: Neither the heir nor the intended patsy bear ill will towards me. The former in particular even gave me aid that was entirely undeserved once.
Althea nods. "Are they the two stones from the pool?"
Edgeworth: ...I... suspect as much, yes.
Althea: Then yes, I would suspect they might well be allies for you, given the right circumstances.
Edgeworth: Though I still fail to understand how that... dream of yours was possible in the first place.
Althea: ...I'm not sure how well I can satisfy such a query; the nature of visions, or even psionics generally, is not all that well understood here.
Althea: As noted, psionics is something of a cultural import from Sarlona, and most folks who understand it well enough to teach it are typically few steps removed from a kalashtar.
Edgeworth sighs in frustration. "Although I imagine your own understanding is still better than the Fey clan's understanding of their own capabilities. They're more superstitious than studious by far."
Althea: I can say that psionics generally are powers of the mind, though there may be as many approaches to effectively utilizing them as there are for arcane magic...
Althea: While magic and psionics have some distinct differences, there are a number of similarities with magic.
Edgeworth grits his teeth and forces himself to look Althea's way, though at the top of her head rather than in the eye.
Althea: The most common type of psionics user is known generally as a psion, but there are various different focuses one may take in pursuing that path.
Althea: Psions like myself who have focused on clairsentience are called seers.
Althea: We learn powers in a permanent fashion that is somewhat similar to the way sorcerers learn arcane magic.
Althea: I in particular have such powers as the ones you're aware of that allow me to speak and understand languages, send short telepathic messages to nearby people, alter light levels... Another one which hasn't come up yet but might well eventually allows me to perceive significant events that have occurred in a particular location...
Edgeworth: Huh... If there turned out to be the least bit of truth to that last claim, that would be remarkable...
Althea: As for visions... that is not so much a power per se as a consequence of well-developed clairsentience... Not everyone who experiences them experiences them in the same way or with the same frequency.
Althea: I will say that the frequency of my own visions is unusual even for a seer of my skill.
Althea: Such things vary from person to person for reasons we do not fully understand.
Edgeworth frowns at that.
Althea: Sometimes those with magical rather than psionic affinities experience visions as well. One religion's central figure is sought out based on visions they receive.
Edgeworth grows pale.
Althea nods slowly at Edgeworth's reaction. "It is a possibility. It isn't likely, but it's definitely too soon to rule out."
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. "I would be far more comfortable with easily verifiable methods under my own control."
Althea: Dealing with visions is never an exact science. Understanding oneself and others and thinking in abstract terms are the best ways to aid interpretation. Ultimately, they are something that can clue you in to the nature of a situation; much of the work is in figuring out where to go next, and establishing the full truth of what you've observed.
Althea: It would be best to see them as a way of getting your attention, lest you miss something at a critical moment.
Edgeworth: The predicament I've found myself in is already inexact enough to prove uncomfortable at times. To be forced to deal with something of that nature directly as well might prove too much to bear.
Edgeworth huffs in frustration.
Althea: Visions are a possibility among divine magic users, but I stress that they are not at all common.
Althea: Unless and until you actually experience one, I don't think you should worry about it.
Edgeworth stands. "Then I believe it's time to continue making the best of the situation already at hand."
Althea nods and stands.