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: Hmm...
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: Hmm...
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."
Althea nods.

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...
Althea nods...
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?
Althea winces.
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.
Dil hrms...
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...
Althea: Hmm...
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 nods.
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.
Althea shrugs.
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: Indeed.
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 shrugs.
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. " well as for intuition."
Althea nods.
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: ...
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.
Edgeworth: ...
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 nods.
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?
Althea: Yes.
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: ...
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.
Edgeworth: ...
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: ...
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: 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.
Edgeworth: Tch...
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: ...Althea?
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: ...
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?"
Althea: Indeed.