"It is only necessary to behold the least fact or phenomenon, however familiar, from a point a hair's breadth aside from our habitual path or routine, to be overcome, enchanted by its beauty and significance. . . To perceive freshly, with fresh senses is to be inspired."
— Henry David Thoreau
In the wake of his beginning to come to terms with just what being a "cleric" might mean for him, Miles Edgeworth sleeps easy for the second night in a row. However, an hour prior to dawn...
Voice: Psst. Wake up. Please?...
Voice: It's almost time for the next stage of your training.
Edgeworth rolls over. "Ich glaube nicht, dass Tee reicht aus, um mich zu wecken, Sir..."
Voice mutters, "That's a new one."
Voice grows louder, if hesitant: "I don't mean to bother you, but you might miss the proper time to pray..."
Edgeworth grunts, then mutters in groggy confusion, "Pray?..."
Edgeworth lifts his head to find himself looking at a familiar gaunt, lanky half-elven face, lit by a glowing coin in his hand.
Edgeworth recoils with suddenly-wide eyes, rolling into the wall at the far edge of the bed and entangling himself in the blanket in the process. "Nnggyah?!"
Dil grins, clearly trying not to laugh. "Good morning, Edgeworth."
Edgeworth glares at Dil and snaps, "How did you get in here?!"
Dil: I asked.
Edgeworth works to disentangle himself, still glowering. "And do I want to know precisely how you managed to intrude upon someone else's inn room simply by asking when, unlike Althea, you're not paying for the bill — or, for that matter, how you entered when you don't possess the key?"
Dil smirks. "Probably not."
Edgeworth looks even more irritated at that answer.
Dil stands and takes a step back before shrugging.
Dil: I'd say your face would freeze that way, but it seems to be too late for that...
Edgeworth finally extracts himself from the blanket and throws it aside in anger. "I don't appreciate having my sleep interrupted for the sake of taunting!"
Dil: Um, actually, it's the other way around...
Dil looks to the floor. "I really am sorry to bother you, but if I had to guess, dawn would be the resonant time for you..."
Edgeworth: "Resonant time"?
Dil: That's the term the Archival Foundation has come up with for the time of day that's symbolically significant enough to a faith's believers to enable... er, spell acquisition.
Edgeworth rubs his temple. "And somehow, this justifies breaking and entering?"
Dil shrugs. "Remember where you are... it's not a crime by itself here, just rude."
Edgeworth: All the more reason to look forward to when I can leave this nightmare.
Dil heads for the door. "I'll be at the Archive when you're ready, but don't be too long — I've only woken you an hour in advance." He then shuts the door behind himself.
Edgeworth sighs and holds his head in his hands in the now-dark room.
Edgeworth: I suppose, then, that I'd best prepare.
After going through the morning's preparations and walking the elemental-lantern-lit streets to the Korranberg Archive, Edgeworth seeks out Dil and finds him waiting at the bottom of the stairs in the second basement.
Dil: Ah, there you are. Follow me.
Edgeworth nods and keeps pace with Dil as he leads the way further downstairs. "I would have greatly appreciated simply being told to rise early."
Dil shrugs as he leads Edgeworth towards a door at the opposite end of the third basement. "Most people can't change their schedules with only a few hours' notice, and you're not going to be here for too much longer, are you?"
Dil: And I want to help as much as I can before you leave, even if I can't take credit for teaching an atheist how to... er, meditate? Would that be better?
Edgeworth takes a moment to try to remember what that Common word means, then rubs his forehead. "Barely."
Dil frowns as he opens the door for Edgeworth. "What would you prefer, then?"
Edgeworth begins to descend the staircase. "Something reflective of the underlying process."
Dil shakes his head as he follows Edgeworth down to the fourth floor, which is dominated by a hallway much like that which makes up the center of the second. "Then you'll have to name it yourself once you reach your own understanding."
Edgeworth turns to face Dil irritably, crossing his arms. "Is it understood so little?"
Dil stops and shakes his head again, grinning this time. "I didn't say that — but if normal terms aren't going to work, then your own words would help our understanding more than ours would help yours."
Edgeworth rubs his temple. "Do keep in mind that while I have a working understanding of Common by now, I've yet to truly master it."
Dil: You could have fooled me... honestly, you're starting to scare me.
Dil shrugs, then passes Edgeworth in order to lead him past several doors, each widely-spaced from one another and emblazoned with a different holy symbol, to one with no symbol at all.
Dil: Normally if rooms for this purpose have to be underground, clocks are how people know when to begin... but Belgiwig had some connections.
Dil grins as he opens the door, revealing a room reminiscent of a planetarium, but cubical rather than domed.
Edgeworth walks in, looking up and around at the starry, moon-studded sky. "An illusion?"
Dil: Right! It's programmed to reflect the conditions outdoors, so it's easier to associate your resonant time with why it's resonant.
Edgeworth: Huh. I can imagine how something similar could be made with the technology in my own world, albeit at some expense.
Dil: This didn't exactly come cheap itself.
Edgeworth: I see.
Dil enters himself, closing the door behind him — a door that looks as though it's standing on the edge of a platform suspended in the sky thanks to the illusion.
Dil wrings his hands. "Now first, I need to ask you a question you might find offensive..."
Edgeworth peers at Dil. "To what end?"
Dil: To save us some trial and error concerning some of the methodology. ...Now, imagine that you met an embodiment of all you believed in on the street, and there wasn't any room for doubt.
Edgeworth does appear disgusted by the proposal, but bites his tongue.
Dil: How would you greet her, or show your respect? You don't seem like the type to fall to your knees.
Edgeworth: Most certainly not.
Edgeworth: And despite the boundaries of his hypothetical situation, after von Karma, I'd be rather reluctant to bow as I might to a superior.
Edgeworth: Aside from which, I'm not content to simply take for granted that I would be trusted any further.
Edgeworth: And yet, neither could I afford to show fear — nor, for that matter, would it be appropriate to be burdened by such an emotion.
Edgeworth: ...I would, if possible, meet their gaze.
Dil nods. "Then you'll be standing when you try this."
Dil glances at one of the walls. "There isn't much time. Maybe I should have woken you up earlier..."
Edgeworth gives Dil a deeply disapproving look.
Dil frowns. "Sorry... Anyway, I only have time to tell you a few basic things. However you choose to look at it, it's going to involve extreme focus on your beliefs."
Dil: Divine magic reacts to faith just being there, as you've seen, but forming the connections you need for spellcasting requires bringing it to a whole other level for a while.
Dil: But most people see spells as granted for a reason — you can't force it too hard. You have to work with it.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm as he reluctantly listens. Even in the context of the past week, this all sounds maddeningly vague.
Dil opens the door. "I'll leave you to this, and send Althea down here when she arrives just in case your resonant time is later than I think. While I bet it's dawn, it could be as late as noon..."
Edgeworth holds his head in his hand. "In short, I'll be spending all morning simply standing here?"
Dil smiles apologetically. "In your situation, there really isn't anything I can do about that..."
Dil closes the door and can be heard heading back to the stairs.
Edgeworth huffs in frustration even as he heads towards the center of the room.
Edgeworth: ...If there were any other path whatsoever to the truth behind how this world's physics react to me, I would gladly take it.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, though I'm loathe to become dependent on something of this nature, the alternative in this place seems to be reliance on others using the same.
Edgeworth shakes his head. I feel as though I'm being mocked...
Edgeworth closes his eyes, arms hanging at his sides.
Light begins to peek out from the simulated eastern horizon, and over time an illusory sun rises...
Edgeworth shifts his stance a bit to avoid growing too stiff.
Over time, the sun climbs in the sky...
Edgeworth shakes his head and crosses his arms, his patience clearly lost. "This is ridiculous."
Edgeworth: How do those instructions even make sense in the first place? Focus on my faith to attract more of this 'divine magic', yet don't force it?
Edgeworth: Think, Miles! This isn't the first absurd-seeming technique you've had to master here!
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. Yet in my previous situations, I had a clearer concept of what I was supposed to accomplish. This time, I have little more to go on than vague nonsense.
Edgeworth: That, and some idea of how others believe they accomplish it.
Edgeworth grits his teeth in annoyance.
Edgeworth: If I had some idea of whose testimony might shed light on the truth obscured under layers of nonsense...
Edgeworth: Perhaps, if nothing else, I should consider the point of this alleged "resonant time". That concept, at least, was sufficiently explained.
Edgeworth: Dil seemed to believe it so likely that dawn would fit my own beliefs that he saw fit to inconvenience me in a way that would be illegal anywhere else and taunt me to ensure that I came to full alertness quickly. Why?...
Edgeworth: It's the point when night first begins to give way to morning... when darkness begins to yield to light. Likewise, ignorance to enlightenment?
Edgeworth: He further posited that the latest possible point he believed would work is noon — the sun's apex. But by then, it's been simple to see for some time.
Edgeworth: The only point in between that seems as though it could potentially be relevant is the point when the sun has fully risen.
Edgeworth grimaces in aggravation. As I have little concept of what to do even if it were likely that noon is the time to do it, it seems that there's little else for me to do at this time.
Edgeworth begins to pace. To turn, I needed to symbolically associate the act with my convictions; as the "positive energy" needed to flow through me to my badge and out to drive things away, so reason leads to truth, which leads to justice, which holds mankind's lower nature at bay.
Edgeworth: To know the first several divination sigils without being taught, I was first taught similar things, then told to intuit the rest — something I fortunately had a basis for doing since prior mentions of the same capabilities I was told to make use of had previously stirred that very intuition, whether I was aware of it at the time or not.
Edgeworth: But do I have sufficient basis with which to repeat such an act?
Edgeworth: If nothing else, it seems like one piece of the puzzle I've been tasked to solve.
Edgeworth: There's also the matter of the moment when I came closest to "casting a spell" per se — the moment when I made use of the wand to heal myself.
Edgeworth: Dil confirmed my suspicion that I would need to find meaning in the other spells in the context of my... faith as well. However, he hasn't yet explained how that plays into what I'm supposed to do here.
Edgeworth glowers. That, then, is what I must demand of him.
Edgeworth heads out the door and towards the stairs.
The prosecutor storms up the several flights of stairs to find Dil putting the helm to use in Edgeworth's absence, apparently translating the previous day's notes about the orisons with both his older notes and both translations of it as reference points.
Edgeworth approaches Dil's table, crosses his arms, and glowers down his nose at the cleric/archivist. "What are you playing at?"
Dil looks up at Edgeworth and seems troubled at the look he's getting. "I'm not playing — I'm only trying to do a better translation than last time."
Edgeworth smacks the table, making the ink bottle rattle lightly. "Don't be coy! I demand to know why you didn't explain how what you expected me to do even related to the very material you're translating!"
Dil gulps, then sighs and breaks the rather abrasive gaze he's being subjected to. "Well, there is a reason... basically, it would involve putting the cart before the horse."
Edgeworth: Then why did you have me write all of this in the first place?!
Dil: Because in essence, you're summoning the horse now.
Edgeworth rubs his temple. "Then explain in a way that doesn't approach Belgiwig's speech patterns!"
Dil frowns and looks to the table. "Without resorting to religious language, it's hard to. What you have to do next is face one of the biggest mysteries on Eberron head-on."
Dil: Most acolytes spend months contemplating it before even trying to actually draw spells from it.
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! I'm not an "acolyte" — I'm a prosecutor!
Dil looks up and shakes his head, recovering something of his grin. "No one said you couldn't be both, but clearly you wouldn't spend time doing that right away anyway."
Dil: But look at it this way — you're trying to find the source you can draw all of this from, but unlike most people, no one else's map is going to work for you. Trying to look for spells outside of that is just going to waste your time.
Dil gestures to indicate the orison notes.
Dil: But when you get there, you'll know what you can try, right?
Dil: Though more accurately, you're trying to make that source find you...
Dil: So, are you going to keep trying?
Edgeworth shakes his head. "No, it seems likely that the, er, 'resonant time' needed has already long since passed."
Dil nods. "So you think it might be dawn too?"
Edgeworth: If not dawn, then the completion of sunrise.
Dil: I forgot to mention this, but it's important to keep in mind... the entire process takes an hour.
Edgeworth recoils. "An hour?!" This would affect my schedule more drastically than I suspected!
Dil shrugs. "At least yours is easy to organize around. For followers of the Traveler, it's around midnight but the exact time varies depending on the moons..."
Edgeworth stares at Dil, wide-eyed.
Dil: And that doesn't even take the hour I need to spend with my prayerbook for the rest of my spells into account.
Edgeworth: Is this another cost of the "single-minded dedication to magic" he once referred to?
Edgeworth glances aside. "Anyway, is there any other reading material you recommend for the time being?"
Dil grins. "There is a book about the different domains you may want to read. It might spur further understanding of your own, and even if it doesn't you'll know more about other clerics."
Edgeworth nods. "Very well."
Dil passes the helmet on to Edgeworth and goes back to relying on his own magic to continue his translation work, allowing Edgeworth to more easily read his latest assignment. The prosecutor reads some parts more quickly than others, even stopping to stare at the occasional page.
It's not much longer before a familiar halfling enters the first basement, hours before her usual time of arrival.
Edgeworth seems too absorbed to notice immediately.
Dil grins and waves over his shoulder at Althea.
Althea nods and heads over towards Dil's table.
Dil: What're you doing here so early?
Althea: Things got cut a bit short today due to some of the team being unavailable.
Dil: Hm, that's too bad... Meanwhile, I've been able to translate some more of his notes, but his end of things didn't go as well...
Dil frowns. "And I think it's my fault."
Dil fidgets with his pen. "I didn't allow myself enough time to explain what he needed to do enough to have a fair chance of success, and this is one of the hardest parts..."
Dil: Especially given the ways he refuses to hear it phrased.
Althea: Well, I suppose there's always tomorrow.
Dil grins. "That's true — and I did explain as best I could after he concluded that it was probably past his resonant time."
Althea: How well was he able to pin that down?
Dil: He thinks it could be anywhere from dawn to the completion of sunrise.
Althea: Both would make some sense.
Dil shrugs. "I thought dawn might be it, but I couldn't be sure it wasn't some other time of morning."
Althea: Beyond the end of sunrise, what left is there to bring to light?
Dil: I guess that's what he was thinking...
Dil: Anyway, I hope I won't have to wake him up myself again... I don't think he appreciated it.
Althea: Perhaps I can arrange for other means. I'll talk to him about it.
Dil smiles. "Thank you."
Althea nods to Dil, then makes her way over to Edgeworth's table.
Edgeworth is staring at a page with a thoughtful expression...
Althea waits a bit to gauge the appropriateness of interruption.
Edgeworth turns to look at Althea after a moment. "Ah, good morning."
Althea: Good morning.
Althea takes a nearby seat. "I confirmed things with Illyvalen, so she'll be getting the tickets before she comes here."
Edgeworth nods, seeming vaguely pleased by that news. "In that case, I'll be looking forward to it."
Edgeworth: Perhaps knowing that day awaits will mitigate some of the frustration at hand.
Althea: You really should take some comfort in the fact that you are really progressing incredibly fast, as well.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "I had more to go on concerning the rest. Even Dil's elaboration after the fact clarified very little."
Althea: I don't know how much can be done about that at this point. Perhaps your own discoveries may well help any others who might one day find themselves in such a position...
Althea closes her eyes momentarily in concentration, chasing a memory.
Althea: It's particularly difficult in your case since you explicitly reject the notion of a higher power...
Althea: This stage of your development requires you to forge a connection with... well, that which can essentially be seen by mortals as the higher power they worship... Even those among the Foundation who lack religious conviction as to what exactly that is have not yet found a basis for consensus in identifying it.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm, looking annoyed.
Althea: While truth itself certainly holds great meaning in your faith, even that is something you don't recognize as having such a role... and I can sort of appreciate that. In a sense, what truth is is too big for that. While some see their divinity in everything around them, they still don't literally mean everything around them when they refer to said divinity.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow.
Althea: Being couched in metaphor and symbolism means that language about the divine is often full of conflations and ambiguities. Perhaps that too is part of the problem in providing an understanding that can be communicated to one who does not share the most typical norms of faith...
Althea: When you found the meaning that allowed you to connect with the magic imbued within the wand... why do you think that meaning, and that meaning alone, was what was truly necessary?
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. "There are a few factors that come to mind immediately. One is that it fit the precise strength of the spell — it suggested neither more nor less than what it could do."
Edgeworth: Another is that this was its proper place in the greater context of the world of justice and the pursuit of truth. It was where it belonged in the place where I belong.
Edgeworth: Still another was that it neither glorified nor obscured what it was; to shroud it in mystique would be a disservice to the truth.
Edgeworth: You observed for yourself how straightforward it was.
Althea: And what dictates the nature and structure of that greater context of the world of justice and the pursuit of truth? Why do you belong where you belong in it?
Edgeworth: Concerning the latter, it's the best fit to my talents and nature. I'm inclined to doubt and possessed of a logical mind...
Edgeworth glances aside disdainfully. "One which certain parties seem intent on shrouding in mystique themselves."
Edgeworth shakes his head. "In addition, language is something I enjoy making use of, and battles of wits are a sort for which I can easily find a great deal of enthusiasm and strength."
Edgeworth grins. "Furthermore, my love for the truth is such that even in the depths of my darkest hours, it was never truly extinguished."
Edgeworth: I have the will to do whatever it takes to see things through until the truth is at last revealed, and the intellect and temperament to do precisely that.
Edgeworth: Indeed, I've reached beyond the boundaries of my role as necessary to ensure that the truth isn't lost, yet it's behind the prosecution bench that I find myself truly capable of greatness.
Edgeworth: The science of evidence and logic meet the arts of oratory and cunning in the courtroom, and one man there must be relentlessly harsh in his arguments against those who might have dared to do wrong. Where, might I ask, is there room for doubt that I excel as such a man?
Edgeworth: It's ironic, really, that in having attempted to punish myself and allowed myself to be pulled into darkness, I ultimately found myself...
Edgeworth is by now projecting a level of confidence not seen from him before in this world; he's drawn a few stares that he seems unaware of.
Althea: I could only pray that every courtroom you grace with your presence possesses an equally relentless defense...
Edgeworth: As for the former question, mankind strives to achieve a structure that will allow it to overcome its own failings, though being merely human we inevitably fall short of the ideal.
Edgeworth: We've come to realize a number of key things, however. In addition to that need to collaborate if truth is to come to light — not merely the truth behind crimes, but countless others — we've come to realize that reason and dispassionate scrutiny are critical.
Edgeworth: Truth is not something we can simply decide the nature of — it exists as it does regardless of what we may wish to believe or what others may wish us to believe. So long as those capable strive to achieve it, the truth cannot hide or be hidden forever.
Edgeworth: As for the structure itself, without both trust and doubt in a suspect, how can the necessary debate be born? Without a view above either, how can it be more than a squabble? To say nothing of those with the responsibility to uncover and analyze evidence, those who ensure civility, and the duty anyone might have to report what they think they know of the truth.
Edgeworth: In short, what dictates that structure is mankind's best efforts to meet the needs of truth itself as best we've come to understand them.
Althea: I'm pleased to witness your further mastery of Common. It would seem your time with Illyvalen has been very well spent.
Edgeworth blinks, apparently suddenly snapped out of the passionate flow he'd achieved by that observation. "What?..."
Althea: ...I said your Common's improving.
Edgeworth: ...So it would seem.
Edgeworth: Have I observed that much?...
Althea: You speak of truth having needs. You even speak of your passion for the truth as though it were a lover. Have we not then gone beyond the mere mundane essense of truth as that which is merely distinct from falsehood, and to something which is perhaps less a simple 'what' and more something along the lines of a 'who'? Who is it that calls you to this role for which you are so uniquely suited?
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! The truth is neither a living thing nor a... a god, of all things!
Edgeworth slams the table with his palm as he speaks.
Althea: I claimed neither, and you need not ascribe any of the labels which others have chosen to cope with that which, ultimately, no one may truly be able to understand... but this is the central issue. You need to reach out to this... 'entity' by whatever terms you might come to ascribe to it... and find a connection.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "You referred to it with 'who', did you not?"
Althea: I did, because that felt implied in the essence of how you were describing your relationship.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Then you read something into my words that wasn't there."
Edgeworth: Is it not possible to love an idea, or for certain steps to be necessary to a given process?
Althea: Of course it is. But that's not the way you chose to describe it when your passions drove you to such eloquence.
Edgeworth sighs in frustration and rubs his temple. "I fail to see how I phrased it in such a way as to imply what you insist."
Althea rubs her forehead. "Perhaps I'm ascribing a broader definition than you would once again. But at a minimum, you certainly implied... 'active' qualities to the truth as it exists in this context..."
Edgeworth looks irritated. "Only if one places far more stock into metaphors than is warranted!"
Althea: If you've been paying attention to what we've been teaching you, you should realize that such is entirely requisite.
Edgeworth grits his teeth and growls in frustration.
Althea: I can't make this any easier. All I can do is attempt to point you in the right general direction.
Edgeworth: The entire point of a metaphor is to allude to something that's difficult or impossible to otherwise! To mistake that which is grounded in reality with that which is not is not the way to the truth!
Althea: But in this case, the goal is to bridge two different but related realities.
Edgeworth: Hmph. Two "different" realities, you say? There is only one truth — it would be that bridge between points of apparent contradiction.
Edgeworth: Indeed, the truth is the one point where the ideal and the real intersect!
Althea: Then perhaps we are on the same page after all.
Edgeworth peers at Althea. "I beg your pardon?"
Althea: Bridging that gap is a core element of what you need to do here, I think. What you will need to connect with is probably closer to the ideal of truth than its reality, but I suspect you will probably need to unite or at least clarify those aspects...
Edgeworth recrosses his arms before firmly asking, "Did I misspeak?"
Althea: You tell me. If I'm on the right track, it might well seem like I'm merely stating the obvious.
Edgeworth: More accurately, you seem to be referring to a dichotomy which I already implied to be false.
Althea: Yes. But there are aspects of that dichotomy that are reflections of the nature of the struggle before you. It may not be enough to simply claim that there is no difference, lest you look at one side of that divide and see it as the whole.
Althea: In essence, this is going to be about discovering an aspect to the whole of that which is truth, which part of you is likely aware, but which you may not have fully accepted as being part of that whole.
Edgeworth: In short, you claim that the sincerity of my own words is to be put to the test?
Althea frowns slightly. "At the least, the correctness of your assessment in your ability to perceive that whole..."
Edgeworth appears intimidated despite his best efforts.
Edgeworth: Can I really do such a thing alone?
Althea: I hope I've been of some minimal use in directing your efforts, anyway.
Edgeworth: I... er, believe you've given me points to consider, at the very least.
Althea nods. "Shall I leave you to your contemplation, then?"
Edgeworth: That would be appreciated.
Althea stands, and moves to a separate table, proceeding with her own research efforts.
Edgeworth: ...The task she seems to be implying I must accomplish seems on its face to be impossible. I am but one man with a limited view — how could I alone possibly grasp the truth so fully?
Edgeworth shakes his head firmly. Indeed, to believe myself so capable is the very same false path I was led to before! If I cannot singlehandedly uncover the truth behind a crime with perfect accuracy, I'm most assuredly not capable of omniscience!
Edgeworth glares at Althea's back briefly, then looks towards Dil more calmly...
Edgeworth: Then again, given that Dil seems to believe that I need to be armed with my own understandings of various spells beforehand and he's the one with experience in the matter, perhaps somewhere along the line the truth was misplaced...
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. Althea referred more specifically to discovering and accepting an aspect of truth which supposedly I may already be aware of on some level.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Hmph."
Edgeworth: Though in the process of leading up to that point, she insisted that my description of the world of justice and my place therein involved ascribing active qualities to the truth, and more absurdly, implied personification of it.
Edgeworth shakes his head. She was more correct before in claiming truth was too great for such things. Indeed, science has led mankind as a whole to a greater understanding of the whole of truth than the practice of anthropomorphizing those things not so readily understood.
Edgeworth glares ahead. I don't wish to wrap the truth into something so finite! I wish to face it!
Edgeworth: If in so doing I can draw on the power to reveal still more of it, all the better.
Edgeworth: Drawing "power" from "truth"... In a sense, it's almost a familiar notion.
Edgeworth: It could be said that the difference between those defense attorneys who could face me and those who could not was that very capacity. It's no coincidence that even when facing Wright, I had the capability to prevail when the truth was on my side.
Edgeworth: I concluded shortly before I found myself in this place that I wanted to believe in the strength of those who use the power of the law for good, yet at the same time I've found myself slow to trust just anyone to be worthy of that faith.
Edgeworth: Prevailing when the truth is on one's side and being able to draw out the same strength from worthy opposition even when it is not is far from any sort of so-called mystical power on its own, but the method by which this force that's come to be known as "divine magic" is wielded is apparently to channel it through concepts meaningful to the wielder.
Edgeworth shakes his head. One is left to wonder why such concepts apparently are so often religious as to inspire that name.
Edgeworth glares again. Certainly I don't believe the truth can act on its own — if it could, for what reason would the justice system exist?
Edgeworth pauses to consider. And yet, there was a time when I was blinded to something as obvious as the purpose of that very system by a twin-headed monster of hatred and pride...
Edgeworth: Yet even then, despite all that I was taught, I couldn't turn away from the truth completely. After Wright first rent the veil of illusory perfection, I even found myself occasionally speaking on its behalf...
Edgeworth hmphs at himself. Listen to yourself, Miles! You aren't some magical creature who sprouts from a court bench when the truth is threatened!
Edgeworth: Life would be far simpler if one could simply act as its herald, but that isn't the case. That's why there are so many heads and hands that work towards justice.
Edgeworth sighs. I fear I've simply reasoned in circles...
Edgeworth: What path to this achievement runs parallel to one to truth in reality?
Edgeworth frowns and simply returns to reading.
Edgeworth shakes his head and sets the book aside again after a couple of minutes, unable to concentrate.
Edgeworth: It's ironic, isn't it... I prefer solitude, yet pursue a path where the support and cooperation of others is entirely necessary.
Edgeworth: I hadn't realized that when I first chose it — and once I did make that choice, I suppose my mentor told me exactly what I wanted to hear...
Edgeworth: The question that presents itself is this: how does this... contact I'm expected to make not involve a return to the height of arrogance?
Edgeworth: I am not, cannot be, and must never again try to be a law unto myself. Even if law as it manifests in reality is the imperfect instrument of mankind, and even if every so often pursuit of the truth and the greater good demands that I place my own wisdom above that written by others, to bear that burden singlehandedly would be beyond my capabilities.
Edgeworth glares ahead once more. That is why I refuse to follow the Yatagarasu's path — those moments when I, or anyone else, knows better than the whole of society are rare.
Edgeworth frowns... However, that itself begs the question, is this one of those moments?
Edgeworth holds his finger to his temple again. Certainly, there is a great deal about this force that is misunderstood by the public at large, and barely understood by the organization that has seen fit to study it.
Edgeworth taps his temple, then smirks. And so it all comes back to my thoughts last night. As a prosecutor such as myself is but one piece in the greater system of justice, so my voice is but one that will lead this world's society closer to the truth.
Edgeworth appears determined. As far from that very truth as this society seems to be, that alone is reason for me to remain for the time being.
Edgeworth: Perhaps this is the ideal purpose of a "cleric". Each and every one to the last is adamant in their personal convictions — our personal convictions — and in this world, that strength is responded to.
Edgeworth: Ergo, I am not going into this world unchallenged — I am not alone!
Edgeworth: Most likely, one of the steps towards finding the power to fight will prove to be taking my station, as always. Perhaps tomorrow I shall succeed, armed with this new understanding of what my station has grown to encompass.
Edgeworth grins confidently.
Althea looks over at Edgeworth.
Althea: I was wondering if you wanted to head out for lunch shortly; as my schedule was thrown off a bit today I didn't end up bringing anything.
Edgeworth grins. "That would be highly appreciated."
Althea nods. "The usual place sound good?"
Edgeworth places a bookmark in his current assigned reading material, removes the helmet, and stands. "Indeed."
Edgeworth: Given my earlier performance, I'm left to wonder how much I'll be capable of understanding this time...
The gnomish restaurant near the library is busier than the previous times the pair has been there, as the lunch crowd is just starting to form. Just as it appears that Althea and Edgeworth will be in for a short wait, a familiar halfling notices them and waves them over from one of the smaller tables.
Althea winces very slightly, but maintains a pleasant smile, quietly commenting, "Guess I'll probably end up dealing with that matter today after all..."
Edgeworth frowns, looking down at Althea. "Is this your stalker?"
The other occupant of the table, a roughly middle-aged gnome, looks over at the two and nods in acknowledgement to Althea.
Althea: ...perhaps I gave too harsh an impression of him in my frustration over the situation... he is the one who has... expressed a certain level of... problematic interest, yes. I wouldn't use that word.
Althea heads over to the table. "I wasn't expecting to run into either of you so soon. I take it whatever you were working on didn't take all that long?"
Edgeworth follows Althea up onto the platform, then fetches a seating mat before heading to the table himself and moving a gnome-sized chair out of the way.
Berdmol: Sorry to spring that on everyone on short notice. I think we've got the critical bits worked out. So, is this your extraplanar visitor?
Berdmol peers critically at Edgeworth.
Edgeworth bows. "Indeed. My name is Miles Edgeworth."
Berdmol raises an eyebrow. "I thought you said he didn't speak Common."
Edgeworth seats himself. "Last week, I didn't."
Berdmol: Even if Illyvalen's been tutoring you, as I've gathered, that's a bit hard to believe. Then again, so is most of what we've been told about you.
Edgeworth takes a menu and tries his best to make sense of it. "Some of those aspects make as little sense to me."
Edgeworth: For one thing, the entire "extraplanar" aspect is perhaps even more absurd to me than it is to you. Unfortunately, alternative explanations neither occur to me nor are anywhere to be found.
Althea clears her throat slightly. "This is Berdmol Cobrin Malindech and that's Nathaniel Salyrria Tarren. Both of them are part of the main research project I've been working on. Berdmol is heading up the research team."
Nathaniel nods politely.
Edgeworth frowns slightly in confusion. "Why precisely is it common to introduce others with three names?"
Althea: Ah, that's originally a Zil convention, though it was adopted by the dragonmarked houses as well. The first name is a person's given name, the second is their family name, and the third is their house name. In some cases there might be a prefix indicating some kind of status, such as in the case of a noble house like ir'Korran or a dragonmarked house as with d'Sivis.
Althea: The dragonmarked house convention also allows for adding the prefix to the family name and omitting the house name, but that's only particularly common with House Tharashk.
Edgeworth nods with a smirk even as he lifts his finger to his temple. "I see. Given the broadness of house names, would the appropriate formal means of address be the family name, then?"
Berdmol: If one must abbreviate at all, but it does seem like foreigners always feel a need to... One does get used to it, I suppose.
Nathaniel shrugs. "It seems to vary. Some folks are fine being on a first name basis, most are fine with family name, some prefer to be traditional about it."
Edgeworth: In that case, I suppose that in one respect Franziska would be regarded as normal here.
Althea: Just don't mess up on prefixes, people tend to take those pretty seriously.
Edgeworth nods to Althea, then looks to the others. "I greatly prefer to be addressed by my surname."
Althea nods. "So I've gathered."
Nathaniel: Well then, Mr. Edgeworth, I do find the world you describe most intriguing, if somewhat fanciful-sounding.
Edgeworth peers at Nathaniel. "'Fanciful'?"
Nathaniel shrugs. "Achieving the fruits of magic through pure mundane artifice? Piloting vessels to the moons? It certainly sounds much the basis for a fable or legend."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "I suppose you have a point concerning the latter, but the former is an exaggeration — I've observed several phenomena here that no machine we've invented could duplicate."
Althea: Though I gather there are some advances in your world we have yet to match. Aside from vessels that fly beyond the sky, anyway.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Indeed; for example, I've seen nothing resembling the class of device that's coming to define the current age in my world. Unfortunately, I have no idea how best to translate the term for it."
Althea: Is that that mathematician-machine you talked about briefly?
Edgeworth frowns in confusion for a moment, then puts his finger to his temple...
Edgeworth: I do recall speaking of them the day we met, so I presume from context that that was an approximation of the term.
Berdmol: Not a very informative one, unfortunately; I think further context would be required to make much sense of it.
Edgeworth: Essentially, such a machine is capable of processing vast quantities of information in various ways and following programmed instructions to achieve various ends.
Edgeworth looks mildly surprised at himself for a split-second.
Berdmol raises an eyebrow. "That sounds almost like something along the lines of Morridan's new toy."
Nathaniel: Oh? I don't think I've heard about this.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow at Berdmol himself, though Nathaniel beat him to speaking up.
Althea: That Kundarak-funded project? I haven't heard all that much myself, really. Some kind of 'counting machine'?
Berdmol: Mm. Some kind of clockwork monstrosity. They're all excited about how they can make it do in several minutes what a magewright could do in a moment with a cantrip.
Berdmol shakes her head slightly.
Althea shrugs. "I'd presume they see some benefits coming out of it longer-term."
Edgeworth frowns in mild confusion at two of the larger words in Berdmol's last sentence.
Althea: ...Do you need me to translate again?
Edgeworth: I was only unable to deduce the meaning of "clockwork monstrosity".
Althea repeats the phrase in English.
Edgeworth nods and puts his finger to his temple again. "That does sound akin to a distant ancestor of the machines I refer to. Ours are sufficiently advanced to reproduce such things as text, images, and music while making them all easy to manipulate. One can easily forget that numbers are involved at all."
Althea: There exist various individual spells that can each manipulate a category of ephemera like that, including numbers, but I don't know of any that would attempt to transform all of those things into numbers...
Edgeworth looks thoughtful for a moment, then nods.
Edgeworth: Unfortunately, the workings of these machines are far from my area of expertise.
Berdmol: Still, I would imagine there are a few among the faculty of Morridan who would take on sizable debt for the opportunity to pick your brain on the subject...
Edgeworth: Er, my own insights on the subject would be extremely limited...
Edgeworth: It would probably be akin to asking the common man for insights concerning arcane magic.
Nathaniel: Yet even a commoner's awareness might provide a few scraps for one truly starved of such insight. It might well be some clue lies hidden in the simplest details of your world's artifacts.
Althea: I think he has his hands full trying to bring enlightenment to the Foundation for now...
Edgeworth: Ultimately more than just the Foundation, but it isn't yet time to begin stirring the pot.
Nathaniel: Ever the one to counsel moderation. But I imagine you too have questions you're dying to ask 'when the time is right'?
Althea shrugs. "Patience is a virtue that has served me well."
Edgeworth shifts awkwardly.
Edgeworth: I suppose this was inevitable. A pity I'm ill-equipped to share the truths they desire in detail...
Edgeworth: Er, yes... Aside from my own connection to what's commonly believed to be the divine, I hope to explore matters of language and law as well.
Berdmol: Well, you are at the greatest center of learning in all of Khorvaire.
Edgeworth frowns. A pity if that's the case, given this country's culture and approach to justice...
Althea: He's also just learning Common and doesn't speak or read Gnomish at all. I think it would take quite some time to just be ready to fully avail himself of such a resource...
Nathaniel: And as I recall, you weren't planning on staying all that long, either...
Edgeworth nods grimly. "Indeed, I cannot say that growing ensnared in a web of debt in a country where prosecutors have no place is an appealing prospect."
Berdmol frowns slightly.
Nathaniel raises an eyebrow. "You did say something about cultural difficulties earlier, though I don't think you mentioned any specifics."
Althea: I don't think the specifics really bear mentioning. The central matter is as has been succinctly put; Zilargo has no place for a criminal prosecutor.
Nathaniel: True enough... Though it does certainly have a place for new sources of insight and knowledge...
Althea shakes her head. "We cannot ask him to stop being who he is just to satisfy our curiosity."
Nathaniel: Ah, that is right, you did mention that for him, performing his job and practicing his faith entail walking the same path.
Edgeworth: Indeed, to the point that my badge of office serves the function that a religious symbol does for a typical cleric.
Edgeworth glances aside. "It was quite a shock to discover."
Nathaniel: Because it juxtaposed things in which you had faith of the truth with those you held equal conviction of falsehood?
Edgeworth: ...Indeed. However, I believe I've come to at least some degree of understanding concerning where the paths of the cleric and the prosecutor coincide.
Edgeworth looks back to the others with a serious expression. "A union which still stands against the concept of maneuvering in the shadows being a more just path than revelation of the truth."
Edgeworth: Whatever benefits I might theoretically hope to derive from remaining in Korranberg, I cannot comfortably stay in Zilargo, and certainly cannot afford to grow obligated to do so.
Nathaniel: Yes, I can certainly see the problem...
Berdmol: Well, there are certainly other noteworthy — if less prestigious — institutions of learning in Khorvaire. Another member of our team is visiting from the University of Wynarn in Aundair, and you may already be aware that Althea comes to us from Morgrave in Breland.
Edgeworth nods slowly while quickly taking on a calmer expression. "I see. While Althea has shown me a map of the continent, I know relatively little of this world as yet."
Althea nods. "I haven't spoken much of Morgrave, though I have mentioned some of the more unusual aspects of Sharn."
Edgeworth half-frowns. "Aspects which fall within my own definition of fanciful, quite frankly, though the situation clearly demands that I await the opportunity to see more evidence of the class of phenomenon she describes."
Nathaniel: I am told that Sharn is quite a sight to behold, though I must confess I have myself never yet been. Are you planning to follow our young seer back to Morgrave once she's finished here, then?
Edgeworth appears awkward. "Er, evidence as broad as I refer to could be found elsewhere..."
Nathaniel laughs slightly at the reaction and nods. "That's certainly true."
Edgeworth looks affronted. "And just what is it that you find so amusing?"
Nathaniel: Oh, just thought I detected a hint of embarrassment there.
Edgeworth rubs his temple.
Edgeworth: Even if I were embarrassed, why would this be any concern of yours?
Nathaniel: You are of course quite correct, it isn't any of my business. I suppose I simply cannot help but be a little jealous of the man who has stolen our gentle maiden's heart.
Edgeworth looks around before looking to Nathaniel in bewilderment.
Edgeworth: ...I beg your pardon?
Althea facepalms slowly.
Berdmol glances warningly at Nathaniel.
Nathaniel: I have pursued her favor in vain, but the futility of that effort has become increasingly clear; indeed, I'm troubled to discover I may have been causing her some distress in that regard, which I deeply regret. But I can certainly understand why someone like you could capture her interest.
Edgeworth: Indeed, but what does her interest in the questions my existence raises have to do with matters of the heart?
Nathaniel: Heh. And I thought I had my work cut out for me. My condolences.
Althea: Nathaniel. We need to talk. But this isn't the place for it.
Nathaniel: ...right. Sorry.
Berdmol: So, have you had a chance to sample the local cuisine yet?
Edgeworth looks to Berdmol. "Er, yes. This is in fact my third visit to this restaurant, and we went to a seafood restaurant with Miss Mirilas the day before yesterday as well."
Berdmol nods. "This place is pretty well-known among the students and faculty of the Library."
Edgeworth: Given its location, that's unsurprising.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "However, I can't help but take note of the degree to which the service prefers to be served..."
Edgeworth clears his throat.
Althea shakes her head slightly and looks over toward the edge of the raised platform, speaking with a somewhat amused tone. "You can come out now; I'm pretty sure we're done with the juicy stuff."
Berdmol gives Edgeworth a vaguely disapproving glance but doesn't comment.
Rimmiyacha steps back from the stage and walks over to and up the steps. "You didn't have to put it that way..."
Edgeworth frowns. Was that so great a faux pas?
Edgeworth shakes his head. "My apologies." He then looks to the others. "Do you have any recommendations?"
Once the party of four settles on their respective meals, what conversation there is is small talk — something Edgeworth remains silent through, only contributing awkwardly to such conversational fluff when pressed.
Eventually, lunch is served and things grow quieter still. Once everyone's respective meals are complete and paid for, they head out the door...
Althea glances at Nathaniel and motions back toward campus, then looks to Edgeworth. "I'll catch up with you at the Archive later on."
Edgeworth nods. "Very well. I shouldn't leave Miss Mirilas waiting, after all."
Nathaniel nods solemnly and starts off in that direction, with Althea following not far behind.
Berdmol watches the two move off for a moment, then turns back to Edgeworth, commenting quietly. "How curious to see one set upon a path at once so like and yet unlike that of one of our clerics..."
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
Berdmol: Zilargo does not produce a great number of clerics. Those few who do find deep enough conviction, may not always find it in the most anticipated of places.
Edgeworth: I see...
Berdmol: Most religious Zil seek their own personal truths rather than any sense of belonging.
Edgeworth's eyes narrow in disapproval at the phrase 'personal truths'.
Berdmol: Then again, most Zil tend to have an open-minded and arguably experimental approach to the whole matter.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow.
Berdmol: I find myself somewhat curious just what sequence of events led you to discover your own convictions... but I suppose I'd best not keep you under the circumstances.
Edgeworth glances aside awkwardly. "Indeed, to say nothing of those circumstances having been rather personal."
Berdmol: Hmmm... perhaps you yourself were brought low by such a truth while you pursued other convictions...?
Edgeworth's eyes widen as he recoils. "H-how...?!"
Berdmol: Heh, thought it was something like that. Now I'm even more curious, but there really isn't time.
Edgeworth glares. "Nor a willingness to share on my own part."
Edgeworth turns and begins to storm off a bit too quickly.
Berdmol shakes her head and heads back toward campus.
Althea and Nathaniel make their way into an unused meeting room in one of the campus buildings, Althea scanning the room briefly before closing the door and turning to face the other halfling.
Nathaniel: Would that we meet under more pleasant circumstances. I had a feeling something like this might be coming, but... I did not mean to cause you such distress. I'm sorry.
Althea sighs and shakes her head. "No, it's my fault, I let this go on when I should have said something. How did you find out, anyway?"
Nathaniel: Berdmol gave me a talk about it this morning while we were away from the group. Didn't want me generating rifts in the team over personal matters...
Althea: How'd she find out?
Nathaniel: Aside from just plain knowing what everyone's thinking? Hmm, I think she mentioned Tikra raised some kind of concern last night...
Althea facepalms. "And Tikra got it from Illyvalen, of course. I forgot for a moment just how fast word travels around here. Look, it wasn't my intent to spread this behind your back, and certainly not to bring down the wrath of our lady of eternal minor vexation. Just that something came up last night that... kinda forced the issue when I'd been hoping to avoid it."
Nathaniel: ...does this have something to do with the concert?
Althea sits down in a chair and looks over to Nathaniel again. "Yeah. Illyvalen invited me..."
Nathaniel: ...I invited you hoping to have the pleasure of your company. It pains me to think you were going to deprive yourself precisely because I asked... Have I truly burdened you so deeply?
Althea: This isn't your fault. I let this get out of hand. It wasn't fair to you either, to just let things go like this... I just...
Nathaniel sighs. "Ever the kind and gentle one. Even now, have you no harsh words for me? Perhaps it was best that your friends chose to offer up condemnation on your behalf..."
Althea: No. You haven't done anything wrong, and I'm not mad at you. I don't hate or even dislike you. I just... am not comfortable with this kind of attention.
Nathaniel looks confused, asking after a moment, "Not 'comfortable'? Um... are you trying to tell me to stop, or to slow down?"
Althea groans and buries her face in her hands. "Why am I making this so difficult for myself?"
Nathaniel takes a seat himself, looking to Althea with concern.
Althea: I... I need you to stop. I'm not... willing to have that kind of relationship with you. I'm sorry.
Nathaniel: I... will accept that, even though I don't really think I understand...
Althea: Th-thank you... I... I'm sorry if I... hurt you...
Nathaniel watches Althea with increasing worry. "Are you all right?"
Althea: I... I will be. Please go now.
Nathaniel spends a few moments longer in conflicted hesitation at Althea's obvious distress, before the urgency with which her words were spoken pushes him to rise from his seat and depart the meeting room, closing the door behind him.
By the time Edgeworth makes it back to the Korranberg Archive, his unease at Berdmol's eerily accurate prying has subsided enough to be easily buried. Once he makes it down to the first basement, he finds Illyvalen waiting there, whom he approaches and makes a sweeping bow towards.
Edgeworth: Good afternoon. My apologies for subjecting you to a wait.
Illyvalen: Um, did something happen? I was kind of surprised Althea wasn't here either...
Edgeworth: Initially, it was simply a matter of us going out to lunch. ...The matter was complicated by Mr. Salyrria's presence at the restaurant.
Edgeworth takes a seat at the table Illyvalen is at.
Illyvalen: Mr. Salyrria...? Oh, right, Nathaniel. He and Berdmol didn't show up at the meeting this morning...
Edgeworth: Indeed; apparently they were addressing something together, though the details never emerged.
Illyvalen: Oh, that's right, I got the concert tickets. Althea said to go ahead and not worry about the whole thing from last night... I invited Tikra too, I don't think she's been to one before, but she's getting better with crowds lately and... uh, sorry, I'm kind of rambling...
Edgeworth simply shrugs. "So long as no one is disruptive, who does or does not come is of no concern to me."
Edgeworth: By speaking aloud or moving about during the music, for instance.
Illyvalen: Uh, I wouldn't think so...
Edgeworth smirks. "Then there should be no issue."
Illyvalen: I... uh... o...kay...?
Edgeworth appears thoughtful for a moment. "...Has your ability with a language ever made sudden, unexpected leaps forward?"
Illyvalen: I think so? Not really unexpected after a while, I guess, but eventually it comes together enough you can think in terms of how to express your ideas in that language. It helps when you're working with a native speaker that you're comfortable talking with...
Edgeworth: As you're aware, I've taken the time to learn several languages. It does grow simpler with each new language, and yet I can't recall having an experience quite like that of this morning.
Illyvalen: What was it?
Edgeworth: Althea was questioning me in Common concerning the root of systems of justice and the reasons why I belong where I do within one.
Edgeworth: In answering her questions, I began to express myself eloquently, without hesitation or indeed any focus on the fact that it was still in Common.
Illyvalen: Oh. I think I know, maybe? Um, so you had the Knowledge domain, right?
Edgeworth: We believe so, yes.
Illyvalen: It is supposed to help with learning in some ways. You might want to ask Dil or Althea more about it.
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. I suppose that doesn't conflict with my best conjecture on the matter — that what examples of Common I've overheard but haven't paid direct attention to suddenly began to connect with those I have.
Edgeworth sighs and shakes his head. I may never truly become used to this...
Edgeworth: I suppose such a query is warranted. ...Of course, there is still much I need to learn. I lack the grounding in etymology necessary to deduce the meanings of words that aren't apparent from context, for example.
Illyvalen: Then we should begin?
Edgeworth grins. "Indeed."
After some time, Tikra slips into the conference room, closing the door behind her and looking at Althea as the halfling rests her head on her folded arms on the conference room table. She quietly takes a seat and waits a few moments before speaking.
Tikra: ...Nathaniel sent me here, but he was unwilling or unable to explain what happened.
Althea doesn't respond at first.
Tikra: Has he hurt you?
Althea responds in a slightly ragged voice, "I hurt me."
Tikra: I... do not understand.
Althea looks up briefly. "It's complicated. There are things I... cannot explain..."
Althea: I spoke to him. I told him... what I needed to. It simply... wasn't as easy as I imagined.
Tikra: ...then you too held such interest? I... did not realize...
Althea rises to a sitting position and fixes Tikra with a glare as best she can given her posture and breathing are still unsteady enough to give the impression that she could return to sobbing at any moment.
Althea: That doesn't leave here. The last thing I need right now is to give him mixed signals.
Tikra nods solemnly.
Althea: As for Berdmol...
Tikra looks at the ground. "When I heard Illyvalen's explanation of your... difficulties with Nathaniel... I concluded you were finding his actions toward you distressing, but that you were unable to confront him about it."
Tikra: It would seem I was not entirely correct in that assessment. I should not have acted without consulting you.
Althea sighs. "I do appreciate that you were trying to protect me... nevertheless, even were I not conflicted on this issue, resolving it was my responsibility, and one I am capable of. I don't need decisions made for me."
Tikra winces. "The gravity of my error escaped me. I... I'm sorry... I did not intend to—"
Althea shakes her head. "I know you meant well. And all it really did in this case was force the matter to be resolved slightly less... discreetly than I would normally have preferred..."
Althea looks back down at the table for a moment, takes a deep breath, and slowly rises to her feet. "It's all right. I'll be fine. Come on, let's get out of here." She makes her way to the door, her first steps unsteady, but with her composure regained by the time she reaches for the handle.
Tikra nods slowly and stands, following Althea out of the room.
Meanwhile, linguistic discussion at the Korranberg Archive goes productively and pleasantly, leaving Edgeworth and Illyvalen absorbed until they tire yet again. Althea does eventually return in the midst of this, but aside from coming to an agreement to have Edgeworth woken up early, they keep to their own respective focuses for today.
The next morning, an unmarked Ghallanda inn employee does indeed awaken Edgeworth an hour and fifteen minutes before dawn. Though he feels insufficiently rested, the prosecutor can at least function since his dreams were again nonthreatening. Thus, once he's fed, Edgeworth makes his way back to the Archive and, upon noticing that Dil isn't in the first basement, down the stairs...
Dil is found waiting at the bottom of the stairs into the seemingly little-used third basement. Upon seeing Edgeworth, he grins and makes a sweeping bow in imitation of the prosecutor's.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow, but doesn't comment on the gesture. "Good morning."
Dil: We should have enough time to talk about what you need to do beforehand this time. I'm sorry about yesterday...
Edgeworth begins walking to the opposite end of the room, where the door to the stairs further down is, shaking his head. "It was hardly on the scale of a crime. Think nothing of it."
Edgeworth: After all, you intend to correct your error this morning, do you not?
Dil nods while keeping pace with the prosecutor. "Right. We may as well start now... A lot of the secret to divine magic is soft control. If you'll forgive the comparison, mortals can't command gods —"
Edgeworth inevitably sighs in frustration.
Dil: — but we can do a lot to make sure that our will and theirs are the same. Of course, it's more complicated than that in reality, since in most cases heretical and corrupt clerics still keep their abilities...
Edgeworth's expression firms. "Is this the contradiction which inspired the work of the Archival Foundation?"
Dil shrugs. "It's one of them."
Dil: And it's also why we have to be careful about what we think we know.
Dil grins. "Personally, I believe divine magic is the Traveler's greatest prank, and we have something to learn about ourselves from figuring out why it works the way it does."
Edgeworth opens the door to the stairs down. "I've already come to a different conclusion concerning the significance of this force's behavior, though it likewise calls for a focus on the people of this world as opposed to any supposed 'gods'."
Dil follows Edgeworth down the stairs, looking curious. "Oh really?"
Edgeworth: Since those it answers to are those deeply invested in what they believe to be the truth, and truth is rarely attainable through only a single point of view, it may well be that all clerics share between them the potential to argue towards a more accurate picture thereof.
Dil chuckles at that. "Not every cleric is good at debate, though. A lot of them get offended if you even try."
Edgeworth shakes his head as he opens the door into the fourth floor. "Then those ones are putting their hearts to waste."
Dil smirks. "You know, that's the closest thing to 'soul' I've ever heard you —"
Edgeworth stops and glares over his shoulder.
Dil's face falls, though it's more disappointed than intimidated. "...say."
Dil shakes his head and keeps walking once Edgeworth continues down the hall. "You might be interested in talking with some of the changelings that call themselves 'reality seekers'. They prefer their natural forms and hope to find something past physical reality since they see it as so fleeting."
Edgeworth glowers forward as he walks. "It would be a mistake to be too quick to dismiss that which can be easily known and proven."
Dil: But not everything is — and if you want to look for a debate that could get you somewhere, shouldn't you in particular be arguing with people who focus more on what isn't?
Edgeworth smirks as he turns to open the unmarked door to the same room as yesterday. "It isn't my understanding alone that ought to be expanded. Still, such an argument could be a worthwhile one."
Dil grins. "It'd be interesting to see what happens."
Dil steps in, but stays near the door as Edgeworth heads to the center of the illusion-walled room. "Not to mention that if you can't throw yourself out of ordinary awareness by the time you leave Zilargo, that might be just the kind of argument you need."
Edgeworth peers at Dil with puzzlement at the reference to throwing oneself out of ordinary awareness.
Dil: What you're trying to do involves more than just attracting divine magic to you. You need to bring yourself to a state where nothing else is getting in the way, not even things that help the rest of the time.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. He could have said as much yesterday...
Dil: If your focus is so great that for a moment you forget you have a body, you're on the right track.
Edgeworth stares incredulously at Dil.
Dil shrugs. "You've become so absorbed in reading that you've forgotten to eat sometimes, haven't you? It's not too much different except in degree and not having anything to do with something physically present."
Edgeworth glances aside and comments dryly, "Shockingly, that makes a remarkable amount of sense."
Dil chuckles. "I can't tell from that tone whether you mean it or not, but either way, you have a few minutes to think before dawn."
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm, looking annoyed at Dil's amusement.
Dil seems unconcerned by Edgeworth's reaction this time. "Good luck." With that, he leaves the room, closing the door behind him.
Edgeworth turns to the apparent "eastern horizon", uncrossing his arms. To summarize what has been discussed of this... technique thus far, apparently the goal is to establish contact with a force that people typically rationalize as some form of divine entity. To do so requires that one focus on one's cherished beliefs at a time of day that symbolically meshes with the same...
Edgeworth sighs and shakes his head. I still fail to understand why that last point would make a difference, but I'm certainly not willing to spend all day on an activity as absurd as this.
Edgeworth: In any case, supposedly such focus must be so thorough as to leave all else behind, even to the point of losing track of physical concerns — and perhaps temporal ones as well, given the comparison that was drawn.
Edgeworth closes his eyes, smirking. If it's similar to being absorbed in a book, perhaps the 'new medium' I have to 'read' from is an appropriate point to focus on. It's certainly nonphysical, and includes the essence of truth itself as part of its nature.
Edgeworth: ...Or perhaps, merely the essence of respect and desire for it, and of the power to obtain it? After all, there are apparently domains that touch on most aspects of existence, and one certainly cannot deny the existence of those things they touch on.
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. Might that be an aspect of how the burden of truth is distributed between all clerics?
Edgeworth lets his arms hang and takes a deep breath. That, too, is a vital detail — as ever, I'm only one voice in a greater whole. My role here is not only to doubt defendants to achieve the end of cutting away that which obscures the truth behind a crime — it is also to doubt primitive beliefs, in hopes of helping sapientkind grow closer to the truth of this world.
Edgeworth: The combination of facts and rational debate will lead us all to the truth, and the world shall be better for it — whether that means a criminal being subjected to justice and the people thus being protected, or a fallacy being revealed for what it is and the people being able to operate based on truer premises.
Edgeworth breathes slowly as he tries to seek out the connection between these thoughts and the new sources of power and awareness he's already been touched by...
Minutes pass, and dawn begins to break. Several more go by, and the sun gradually rises. Still more pass, and the sun reaches its full apparent brightness and the sky has faded entirely to blue...
Edgeworth begins to look irritated after nearly two hours have passed.
Edgeworth: If the evidence didn't seem to support their every claim prior to this point, I would swear they were attempting to make a fool of me!
Edgeworth turns aside, then opens his eyes to reveal a glare. I don't see what I could possibly be doing wrong.
Edgeworth cringes. I could, for desperate want of a better term, "sense" what power I've already wielded, and what I suppose could be described as an echo between those conduits and my beliefs.
Edgeworth looks troubled suddenly. Given what Dil said earlier, I'm left to wonder whether many clerics mistake such an "echo" for confirmation of what they believe to be true — even as those beliefs distort.
Edgeworth: This path may be fraught with more peril than I realized...
Edgeworth quickly heads for the door and the stairs from there.
Edgeworth hurries up to the first basement first, but fails to find Dil there. He next backtracks to the second basement, soon finding the pointy-eared man sipping tea in the break room there.
Dil looks over at Edgeworth with a slight smirk. "What's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Edgeworth levels one of his coldest and steeliest glares at Dil. "Setting aside the fact that your attempt at a joke was in incredibly poor taste, I would have appreciated being warned of any significant dangers to my objectivity before coming this far!"
Dil... looks intrigued. "Go on."
Edgeworth: While attempting to... reach this force I've been tasked to contact, I came to notice what I could best describe as an echo between my beliefs and what I know of my connection to "divine magic".
Edgeworth steps forward and smacks his palm on the table, causing the tea in Dil's cup to quake slightly. "Could this not easily be mistaken for an affirmation of what one already believes to be true — particularly by those in the midst of a fall?!"
Dil stares for a moment... before smiling. "I have to say, I'm impressed. Not only did you get that close that quickly, but you're really living up to your own word."
Edgeworth: Dispense with the pointless flattery and explain yourself!
Dil: In short, you're right — some people do mistake the response to their own faith for confirmation of it. That you not only didn't, but instantly saw how others might, and even describe it as an "echo"... it makes me wonder, were you given a reason to start watching yourself in the past?
Edgeworth: I-I beg your pardon?...
Dil shrugs. "If you don't want to tell me either way, that's fine. What's important is that if you recognize the potential trap, you shouldn't fall into it — and on top of that, you might actually be able to use the supernal itself to keep you grounded."
Dil: Not to mention, if you want to argue with the rest of us so much, it's good to know what could cloud our judgment, isn't it?
Edgeworth: HOLD IT! You still haven't explained why you never mentioned such a danger before!
Dil looks unusually sober. "Because neither of the usual reactions to it — fear, or dismissiveness — are helpful, especially before someone has experienced it for themselves."
Dil: Sometimes you can teach better with your mouth closed.
Dil smirks. "You're really making impressive progress, though. Some acolytes get caught listening to themselves for months before having a hope of a real breakthrough. A lot of traditional adept and cleric training is focused on making sure they're hearing specific things from themselves, as well as trying to guide them away from being stuck at that point."
Dil puts his finger to his lip thoughtfully. "In a way, you're a freer man than I thought you would be..."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "And precisely what do you mean by that?"
Dil: At first, you came across as being a prisoner of your own preconceptions. Really, a lot of clerics are like that, and as stubborn as you are I thought you'd be the same.
Dil: ...But you're really a better man than you seem to be, aren't you? Even if it's heartbreaking, you can be convinced of something true if someone tries hard enough in the right ways. It's clear where your real faith lies.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "In short, you assumed that I was a hypocrite?"
Dil glances down at his tea. "When it came to the subject of magic before... well, I hope you can forgive me, but it seemed like your trauma was outweighing your faith."
Edgeworth glowers. "Has Althea been discussing matters behind my back?"
Dil: Don't give her all the blame — we were both noticing things and worried because of that.
Dil grins and looks back up. "But it's all in the past now, right? Since that one crippling injury was healed, you've been growing tremendously. Today just goes to show how right Althea was about how well your strengths can serve you on this path."
Edgeworth: It's clear which "crippling injury" he refers to; after all, the physical one hardly deserves such a description.
Dil: Just make sure not to spend too much time polishing your medals; I'd love to see as much of your learning as I can.
Edgeworth hmphs and glances aside. "I've never seen the point of medals to begin with."
Edgeworth: ...The subject of learning does remind me of a point I wished to bring up, however.
Edgeworth looks back to Dil. "Certainly you've noticed the speed with which I've learned Common. Even when one accounts for my linguistic aptitude as well as the various extraordinary forms of assistance I've enjoyed, the pace I've learned at seems... unnatural."
Dil shrugs. "I've been thinking about that too. Your divination affinity might be part of it; a lot of what you've been doing is trying to pay attention through the magic instead of just settling for letting it tell you what you're reading or hearing, right?"
Edgeworth: That's correct.
Dil: Not a lot of people try that kind of thing, and you'd have an advantage at it. On top of that, the Knowledge domain does make learning easier, though this would be the first time I've heard of it affecting learning a new language.
Edgeworth looks away uneasily. "I more specifically experienced... what I can only describe as an epiphany yesterday while discussing my beliefs with Althea. Without noticing, I went from having to consider my words and struggle with phrasing to simply speaking my mind, and eloquently so."
Edgeworth: Normally, I find mastery of a language to be gradual.
Dil: Huh... well, that's another way you're more like us than like most clerics. Most would just call that a miracle instead of asking why it happened.
Edgeworth looks back to Dil disdainfully. "It may have seemed unusual, but I highly doubt that any outside agency was involved."
Dil smirks. "Of course you doubt that, and you're probably even right to. But I think both of us will have to think about it for a while."
Dil: Aside from that, you also have your experiences this morning to write about, right? If you finish both of those before Illyvalen gets here, it might help for you to return to the fourth floor for a while too.
Edgeworth: To what end?
Dil: Even if you can't gain spells at the wrong time of day, you can still try to move beyond yourself. That way, you might have a better chance of success tomorrow.
Edgeworth sighs. How is it that I've found myself in a circumstance that reveals new levels of absurdity on an almost daily basis?
Edgeworth: ...Very well.
Edgeworth spends roughly three hours writing often hesitantly about his significant experiences of the past two days, then resigns himself to the need for further practice of the bizarre technique he can think of no comfortable name for after that. As before, Dil sets himself to translation work, noting that this time the prosecutor has left a page of notes on his own thoughts concerning that effort.
At noon, Althea arrives in the first basement, looking around the area briefly before heading over toward Dil.
Dil grins. "Good afternoon, Althea."
Althea: Good afternoon. Has your pupil fared any better this morning?
Dil: Definitely — he was able to reflect on the spiritual connections already in place. It kind of scared him, though.
Dil seems pleased, though.
Althea nods. "This is treading on very difficult ground for him. I'm not surprised he's somewhat apprehensive."
Dil: It's more than that, though — he noticed immediately the ways they were reflecting his thoughts, and instantly realized how that might get in the way of the objectivity he values so much.
Althea: I'm not surprised by that either.
Dil: I had to spend some time reassuring him that the fact that he realized that put him miles ahead of not just normal acolytes, but a lot of experienced clerics.
Dil shrugs. "He was upset that I didn't warn him, though."
Althea: Hm? I would have thought he'd have seen it coming already...
Dil shrugs again. "He's still getting used to this kind of thing. I guess he's not going to see everything coming..."
Dil: And of course, some things no one's really ready for. I wonder how he's going to cope when he starts getting close to successful prayer...
Althea: At this point, though, I can't really see any of the coming challenges stopping him. Only slowing him down a bit, at most.
Dil: You're probably right. He seems able to think his way through almost anything. To think he's come this far just on his second day of this part of his training...
Dil shakes his head in amazement.
Dil: I told him to practice more after he finished writing, anyway. He should still be downstairs in the nonsectarian prayer room.
Althea nods. "How long has he been down there? I wouldn't want to interrupt before he's had a chance to make meaningful progress."
Dil: About two hours by now.
Althea nods again. "I might as well stop in and see if he's ready for lunch, then."
Dil grins. "Given the stage he's at now and how fast he's learning, that's probably a very good idea..."
Althea heads down the multiple sets of stairs to the fourth floor, and once there finds the door that most likely leads to Edgeworth — the unmarked one. Within, the prosecutor can be found standing arrow-straight with his arms at his sides in a stance just shy of military, if his eyes weren't closed and his arms were pressed into position.
Althea waits quietly.
Several minutes pass with no apparent change...
Althea eventually sets down her pack and approaches Edgeworth slowly.
Althea waits about another minute before quietly clearing her throat.
Edgeworth doesn't react.
Althea shrugs slightly, heads back over to her backpack, removes the lunch she brought for Edgeworth and sets it slightly off to the side of the doorway, before stepping back out and closing the door behind her.
Once Althea makes it back to the first basement, Dil looks up from his translation work.
Dil: Decide to leave well enough alone, did you?
Althea: He's pretty deep in concentration. I left his lunch down there, he should notice it should his focus waver enough.
Dil: Hm, really? How far did you test it?
Althea: Less than perhaps you might, but I get the sense invading his personal space even briefly would be deeply unwelcome, and I did want to avoid startling him. If he's focused enough to not notice more subtle gestures, it's probably some use to leave him to that experience, I'd guess.
Dil shrugs. "That's fair."
Dil looks down at the papers before him. "He may still be writing in English, but I think it's only because he hasn't built his vocabulary to his satisfaction yet. He left some of his own thoughts about translation this time."
Dil chuckles. "I'm starting to think that if we have time to go over scrolls before he leaves, it's one of Scholar's Touch and a dictionary to target that we should work with."
Althea: I recall he went over your earlier translation with Illyvalen to clean it up, it's probably good practice for them both.
Dil nods. "Looking over the results of that were a big help for me, too."
Althea: She's actually started speaking this "English" a little herself; I had to remind her this morning that I don't actually understand it when I'm not around Edgeworth.
Dil: Some of what he's been doing, it seems, is not just settling for letting this tell him what he's hearing, but trying to pay attention through it.
Dil indicates the helmet now on his head.
Althea: Unsurprising. I've had to take a fair bit of care when listening to some of what he says; sometimes the meanings of things play out in unusual ways...
Dil: You mean aside from the confusion around the use of the word "religion" before?
Althea: Yeah. Notably, we've discussed some of the differences in his world and society. It's pretty clear they have a much different way of thinking about a lot of things, and it can make some connections a little tricky. I still don't think I've got a decent handle on what these mathematician-machines he's tried to talk about are, aside from the sense that somehow manipulating numbers can grow into something with the kind of breadth of potential of whole categories of arcane spells...
Dil blinks. "Mathematician-machines?"
Althea shakes her head. "I can't figure out a better term for it. Some kind of machine that manipulates numbers, but somehow it can do all sorts of other unrelated-sounding things as a result."
Dil: Huh, interesting... How much does he seem to know about them?
Althea: Not enough to be of much use to those studying the closest equivalent technology we seem to have...
Dil shrugs. "I guess even as smart as he is, he can't know everything."
Dil: Or maybe he just focused on law and languages over everything else.
Althea: It did seem like a matter that was mostly beyond his interest, really, aside from its practical use in his work.
Dil shrugs. "If these machines are as complicated on the inside as arcane magic is, I guess it's not surprising."
Dil: He seemed intimidated just by what it takes for me to prepare for both kinds of spellcasting I can use every day. And didn't seem happy to learn that even his own power was going to take an hour out of every day...
Althea: He's also eschewed the idea of diverting attention from work for matters such as maintaining relationships with other people.
Dil smirks. "I wonder if he'd have ended up fighting this if it didn't seem both useful to and intimately connected with his work."
Dil: Even his understanding of the meaning of what's happened to him is that he should start getting into philosophical arguments too.
Althea nods. "So I understand. I think he has the restraint not to cause too much trouble before he's out of Zilargo, at least..."
Dil: He seemed to think any cleric who wouldn't be ready for or open to that is "putting their heart to waste"...
Dil: It's really too bad I can't just follow him and see what happens. I have too much to do here...
Althea nods. "I can stick with him for a little while after he leaves here, but I'll have to get back to Sharn myself eventually, and he's made it pretty clear he has no intention of going near the place."
Dil shrugs helplessly. "I wish I could think of someplace that'd work for him..."
Althea shrugs. "Honestly, I'm thinking somewhere in Aundair might be a reasonable fit. Perhaps Fairhaven? Should be plenty of opportunity for many kinds of study and debate."
Dil grins. "That's a thought."
Dil: Maybe you should bring that up with him, whenever he finishes...
Althea: I figured I'd wait until we were a bit closer to being able to act on any such plans. I think it's better for him to focus on the situation at hand for now.
Dil: Anyway, I think I'll get back to this.
Dil indicates the papers before him.
Althea heads to another table and resumes her own studies. After roughly an hour, Illyvalen emerges from the stairwell and looks around the first basement, approaching Althea.
Illyvalen: Hmmm... is he out again today...?
Althea looks up. "Is it that late already? He's downstairs practicing; I suppose I'd better go let him know you're here."
Dil: You should bring some water down with you.
Althea heads down to the fourth floor again, stopping by the break room on the way.
When Althea arrives, she finds that Edgeworth still hasn't budged; not only is he in exactly the same position, but the lunch she packed is untouched.
Althea walks about halfway toward Edgeworth's position, stops, and speaks in a just-above-conversational tone: "Illyvalen's here to see you."
Althea's voice sounds inside Edgeworth's head this time. Illyvalen's here, are you going to have time for her today, or should I ask her to come back tomorrow?
Edgeworth's eyes twitch, then he staggers slightly and reaches to cradle his forehead with one hand as his eyes flutter open.
Althea steps forward toward Edgeworth, holding out a cup of water.
Edgeworth looks around in an attempt to reorient himself, then notices Althea and kneels down to accept the water.
Edgeworth: A pity; I seemed to be making some progress in my investigation.
Edgeworth takes a long sip of the water before pausing to speak again. "However, I must thank you for this." He then proceeds to continue drinking.
Althea: I didn't want to disturb you while you were so thoroughly focused, but I had a feeling you wouldn't want to keep Illyvalen waiting all day either.
Edgeworth: Certainly not; time isn't something to be wasted.
Edgeworth glances at his watch at that, his eyes widening just slightly as the fact that he's been out of it for three hours registers more thoroughly.
Edgeworth then looks irritated at the fact, though doesn't comment further immediately, instead taking another sip of water before going to fetch the lunch Althea set by the door an hour ago.
Edgeworth: One would think that an investigation would proceed further than that in three hours.
Althea: In spiritual matters, some people spend a whole lifetime on just one 'investigation.'
Edgeworth looks to Althea with an incredulous expression at first, then sighs in frustration as he stands with the cup in one hand and the lunch in the other. "Given how long it apparently took for sufficient evidence to emerge for this organization to be founded despite science allegedly being ancient, I suppose that shouldn't surprise me."
Althea: Again, I do feel compelled to point out that you are progressing very rapidly. You should not feel discouraged for not mastering these matters on your first or second try, nor is it wise to begrudge a few hours' investment into furthering your chances of succeeding on a third.
Edgeworth frowns. "I suppose old habits die hard."
Edgeworth passes through the still-open door and starts down the hallway.
Althea follows Edgeworth.
Edgeworth stops at the door to the stairs up, stepping aside to let Althea open it as his hands are full... though looks down at the halfling disapprovingly. "Incidentally, I understand that you've spoken of some rather personal matters with Dil."
Althea: As he is your teacher, I have discussed with him matters I felt were pertinent to your development.
Edgeworth's lips quirk in irritation, but he can't muster more than a slight growl in response.
Edgeworth: Unfortunately, I can't truthfully claim the irrelevance of the matter in question.
Althea: As long as we're on the subject, I have also spoken candidly of such matters with Belgiwig, though my reasons for doing so may be better spoken of later, in a different setting than this.
Edgeworth clenches his teeth and tightens his grip on the glass, but — with clear strain — forces himself to keep any words on the matter to himself.
Althea opens the door.
Edgeworth begins to storm up the stairs, fuming.
Rather than going straight up to the first basement, Edgeworth takes a detour to the break room in order to eat, finish the water glass, brew some tea, and most importantly — especially given Illyvalen's hypersensitivity — calm down. Several minutes later, he makes his way up to meet the young gnomish linguist...
Dil: Well, there you are. Glad to hear you didn't pass out. So how did you do?
Edgeworth half-frowns. "It's difficult to judge, though my progress seems incremental at best."
Dil: Given how hard Althea said it was to get through to you, it's a pretty important increment. She did mention that she spoke aloud before resorting to that missive, right?
Edgeworth's eyes widen. "What?..."
Edgeworth looks to Althea...
Edgeworth smirks. "Then given what you said this morning, it would seem that I accomplished more than I realized."
Dil grins back. "Don't keep her waiting, now..."
Dil jerks his head in Illyvalen's direction.
Edgeworth: Of course not.
Edgeworth approaches the gnome.
Illyvalen: Hello. Sorry if I interrupted something.
Edgeworth looks aside. "Given my hunger and thirst upon being roused, it was probably necessary."
Edgeworth seats himself at the same table as Illyvalen.
Illyvalen: Dil has another translation of your notes, if you wanted to look over it.
Illyvalen speaks a little unsteadily, but her accent is improving.
Edgeworth grins. "Excellent. I hope to continue yesterday's discussion of Common etymology as well."
Edgeworth's words are slow for Illyvalen's benefit.
Illyvalen: Of course.
Pleasant linguistic discussions help Edgeworth further wind down from this mildly trying day.
That night, the prosecutor finds himself dreaming vividly again, though the subject this time is at least agreeable enough — finding himself gazing upon an apparent trial in progress back in his world. While nothing is audible and the picture looks as though it's being viewed through some sort of thick, rounded lens, Edgeworth can see himself obviously arguing with Phoenix Wright. The judge steps in as necessary to keep the trial from going out of control, but as always the level of energy involved defaults to being quite high. Witnesses come, are cross-examined, and go; the Edgeworth in the scene is clearly surprised sometimes by things that occur, while other times he's smug and ready to leave Phoenix shocked or sweating.
Quite suddenly, the scene shifts into a brighter and clearer one, as though what came before was only a vision. Edgeworth, now no longer simply a disembodied observer, finds himself just inside the doors of an entirely different, deserted courtroom with a much different atmosphere. To begin with, the woods used for the walls are pale, and the ceiling is comprised of glass suspended between tall arches, letting in something akin to sunlight yet brighter and colder. At each corner of the courtroom is a white marble pillar covered in intricate carvings, and the round depiction of scales behind the judge's bench isn't a seal, but a larger stained glass window.
Edgeworth blinks. "What the...?"
Edgeworth steps forward as his uncertain gaze roams this courtroom...
Edgeworth's expression shows a growing conflict between being awed and disturbed as he passes the witness stand.
Edgeworth looks up once at the spot directly between the defense and prosecution benches, half-frowning to find that while arches meet the beam above at that spot, only a hook is there.
Edgeworth then looks to the prosecution bench, a small almost-smile appearing on his lips as he does so... but then he frowns and looks over to the defense bench with a lonely unease.
Edgeworth shakes his head. Come now, Miles. Haven't you already determined that you aren't alone?
Edgeworth: At least this dream merely has an air of mockery, as opposed to being a vehicle of attack.
Edgeworth continues forward, though glances over his shoulder to glimpse the prosecution bench again longingly.
Althea: Indeed, I think this dream should be fairly safe at this point.
Edgeworth starts and looks around, spinning on his heel at one point, before realizing what's going on and sighing.
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. Do you have any idea why this keeps occurring?
Althea: No. It's not usual for me to see the same person's dreams with this kind of frequency. I'd thought the fact that the dreams of yours I'd witnessed were all nightmares might be significant, but this would seem to weigh against that...
Edgeworth appears irritated. If I only had an idea of where to begin in finding the truth behind something of this nature...
Althea: Perhaps understanding the significance of this dream in particular might help.
Edgeworth shakes his head. It seems to be little more than a reimagining of the courtroom as some sort of... temple. As I'm presumably alone in causing a magical reaction through convictions like my own, so too is this courtroom empty aside from myself.
Althea: Then the differences may be significant to the way the essence of your faith diverges from the mundane realities of your job...
Edgeworth crosses his arms, his gaze lingering on the prosecution bench. Aside from mere appearance, it seems little different from any other empty courtroom to me.
Althea: I know of few courtrooms that would find themselves lit in such a way. Neither the light of the sun, nor the light of Irian, should be at once so bright and so cold...
Edgeworth: Now that you call attention to it, perhaps it is somewhat... literal.
Althea: Is this the light of your truth?
Edgeworth tics at the 'your', but after a moment's hesitation responds, Indeed.
Althea: It seems to hold no comfort for any, save perhaps the hope that one's oppressors might fall to its harshness before one does oneself...
Edgeworth smirks. You'd be wrong. While certainly its direct touch is rarely a comfortable thing, what it leaves in its wake is the opportunity for everything to fall into its proper place.
Althea: Perhaps I'm merely too sensitive to the idea of being seen as an obstacle to such propriety.
Edgeworth: At times, dogma can be an obstacle to the truth. You've witnessed this for yourself, have you not?
Edgeworth takes an unconscious step closer to the prosecution bench.
Althea: And at times, truth can be a weapon for upholding dogma and furthering intolerance...
Edgeworth glowers. Any truth misused in such a way would be obscuring a greater one!
Althea: Perhaps... but I cannot shake the fear that the truths relentlessly brought to light in a place like this would be as easily used for good or evil once in the hands of those who bear witness to them...
Edgeworth: Hence the law providing more than simply a vehicle by which truth comes to light. It also constrains how people can act on information and provides an alternative to acts of personal vengeance.
Althea: ...perhaps that is the comfort to be had in such coldness...
Edgeworth smirks, even as he returns to staring at the prosecution bench.
Althea: Much of both this and the earlier vision are unfamiliar as well, though the witness dias in particular looked rather strange in the earlier scene...
Edgeworth frowns in mild confusion. How so?
Althea: The design seemed pretty unusual. This 'temple' version has something simplified, but at least slightly familiar...
Althea: Essentially, there doesn't seem to be an actual Eye of Aureon, just the typical dias construction suggestive of one.
Althea: ...right. You recall that I mentioned earlier you were likely to learn things that would provide the ability to detect or avert falsehoods?
Edgeworth: Indeed, it would be difficult to forget.
Althea: The Eye of Aureon is an enchanted item that is a standard part of a courtroom. It bears an enchantment that makes it difficult for one within its field of influence to lie, and particularly to lie convincingly.
Edgeworth stares at, or perhaps through, the witness stand at those words.
Edgeworth: That would render cross-examinations far less recognizable...
Edgeworth: Stranger still, I have the distinct impression that should I remain in this world and pursue this path for very long, the ability to affect an entire room with such an enchantment would come to me.
Althea: That is correct. That's a domain spell for you if we're correct, so it will probably come somewhat easier than many.
Edgeworth: To feel so confident of something without evidence is a rather troubling sensation.
Althea: You will have evidence in due course.
Althea: Moreover, if the sensation stands out, that should make recognizing when a realization is intuitive or divinatory that much easier, should it not?
Edgeworth: Indeed, this has already eased my progress to some extent. I merely don't wish to become reliant on methods that don't involve proof — or worse still, come to trust myself above the evidence.
Althea: All the more reason to learn well and understand it for what it is.
Edgeworth nods firmly. Indeed — if I must be touched by such a force, I refuse to let it cloud my judgment!
Edgeworth turns back to the prosecution bench yet again. On the subject of sensations that stand out, the draw of my station is stronger here.
Althea: Unsurprising. And yet, would taking it be wise while the defense's station remains empty?
Edgeworth: Were there anything in the room to be judged, certainly not. As it stands, however, the matter is unclear.
Althea: I suppose I cannot advise you.
Althea: Perhaps you should see what else is a part of this 'temple'.
Edgeworth seems surprised by this suggestion, but nods reluctantly. I suppose you have a point.
Edgeworth heads to the double doors at the entrance and begins to raise his hand to push them open... but hesitates.
Althea: ...if you don't believe you should, then you should try to figure out why.
Edgeworth tries to reach for the doors again, but winces. It feels akin to when Dil claimed that the only way to escape my newfound condition would be to abandon those beliefs I most deeply cherish.
Althea: ...then perhaps beyond these doors is a place where this light does not shine...
Edgeworth glares at the doors. Were that even possible, could I not correct such a thing?
Althea: You can share the truth, but you cannot convert the whole world to your faith...
Edgeworth: Others need not think identically to participate; indeed, if they did, what debate would arise?
Althea: Would they not then come in, and take the other stations?
Edgeworth considers this for a moment, one finger rising to his temple.
Althea: I don't know for certain how best to interpret the imagery here, but there are various ways such symbolism could reflect the underlying realities.
Edgeworth: I've already concluded that while in this world I may be alone in bearing this share of the burden of truth, I'm far from alone in bearing a share of it at all. It's a common thing in the courtroom for us to learn that the full truth of a matter is beyond what either side imagined.
Althea: Still, this is the place where you would see truth coming to light in such debate...
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. A place as yet unknown to most. In such a context, is it so strange that I would be alone here from that perspective as well?
Althea: Not at this time, no. But it does not preclude that it is more proper to wait here for others to discover it. Leaving it could be symbolic of any number of things, from seeking outside voices to expanding the scope of your faith to leaving it behind...
Edgeworth shudders again as the possibility of leaving is brought back up. My impression is that it would entail leaving my "faith" and the vital duties it encompasses behind.
Althea: That did seem likely based on your earlier impression.
Edgeworth turns away from the door. Anything I must do must be centered here.
Althea: Then the meaningful confines of what to explore in this dream are clear.
Edgeworth looks up at the judge's bench with a frown. One station in particular strikes me as having an aspect no one could perform in this context.
Althea: You do not believe anyone could judge your arguments fairly and objectively?
Edgeworth: Certainly people have the capacity to learn. However, could anyone possibly hand down a decisive verdict?
Althea: It would no doubt depend on the scope of the particular matter in question, and whether sufficiently decisive evidence is presented, would it not?
Althea: Surely you would not try to decide the whole truth of all divinity with a single case?
Edgeworth: Heh... Certainly not.
Althea: Though it is true enough that neither I, nor Dil, nor Belgiwig, would be particularly inclined to be decisive in our judgments on such matters...
Althea: Still, would it not be better for such matters for the one with such a role to be difficult to convince, lest something less than the truth suffice?
Edgeworth: Not necessarily. The best judge I've ever known was of such an open mind that he might have appeared dangerously easy to convince.
Althea: Perhaps we will simply have to see who steps forward when the time comes.
Edgeworth takes a step forward, still looking up at the judge's bench. Other aspects of the role are far more easily within a person's reach, however — most notably, that of the mediator.
Edgeworth: Given the strength of the convictions involved, that would be a crucial role.
Edgeworth's motion begins veering towards the prosecution bench again...
Edgeworth pauses once he reaches the cords dividing its area from the central one. It's strange — here, to do anything less than continue towards that place where my strength emerges feels akin to defying gravity.
Althea: There are times when such defiance may be requisite... but I suspect that this is not such a time.
Edgeworth unhooks one of the lines in order to step past it, then turns to put it back in place. Indeed, such moments are rare.
Edgeworth strides with contained eagerness to a centrally-located spot behind the prosecution bench, then turns to face the center of the room, standing straight with his arms at his sides. One could almost swear that the difference between him and the room vanished in that moment.
Edgeworth takes a deep breath through his nose, exhaling similarly. Though his face is impassive, there's a glint in his steely eyes that Althea might recognize from the moment when he spoke of his place in the world of justice and the reasons why it takes the form it does.
Edgeworth suddenly inhales sharply as his eyes pop wide, then drift closed. He tilts his head back ever so slightly, and his cravat and bangs begin to flutter gently as though caught in a light wind from below...
A pale blue light plays over the cravat; when it fades, it's suddenly possessed of a faint, shifting iridescence despite a lack of glossiness. Next, a set of white beads appears wrapped around his left wrist in a similar blue glow, followed immediately by a large version of his badge appearing between two large beads. Beneath that, a sheathed shortsword then appears at his waist, made of a dark-colored metal if the crossguard and pommel are any indication. Light then travels along the edges of his suit, leaving trails of small golden runes behind; simultaneously, a charcoal grey cape matching his vest "grows" from around his shoulders to a length that would hang down to his knees if it weren't caught in the mysterious breeze. A thin burgundy headband appears around his head in a similar manner, then at last a pair of wireframe glasses appear in place. Once the "wind" dies down, Edgeworth looks forward again with a confident smirk.
Althea: Shall this then be the guise of the divine prosecutor?
Edgeworth: In due time.
Edgeworth's voice, too, rings with confidence.
Suddenly, Edgeworth's awareness snaps to being stretched out on a bed in a dark room with a light gasp.
Edgeworth is briefly disoriented, momentarily unsure whether he just woke up or just passed out...
Edgeworth rolls over and shakes his head. Once more, I find myself astounded that the role of dreams in my life seems to have been turned upside-down.
Edgeworth: How can a place from a dream, one that doesn't literally, physically exist, be so profoundly real?
Edgeworth puts his hand on his chest...
Edgeworth: Is that where I must be each dawn?... No, there must be more to it than that, given the dangers of that "echo" and Dil's insistence that I must venture "beyond myself".
Edgeworth raises his other finger to his temple, even while remaining on his back. Yet even as far as I ventured in my investigation yesterday, there is truth in the notion that I cannot be separated from my ideals so easily — indeed, my mentor tried, yet only managed to mostly bury them.
Edgeworth shifts to a sitting position on the edge of the bed. Perhaps that place could be likened to a tent, brought with me no matter where I might go.
Edgeworth: Given that apparently no one has come to awaken me yet, it will undoubtedly be some time before dawn — yet if yesterday can be taken as an example, it might be more productive to begin my next attempt as soon as possible rather than attempting to return to sleep.
Edgeworth stretches, then begins to dress himself.
Once Edgeworth finishes making himself decent, he fetches a glass of water, then takes advantage of the light in the hallway outside of his room to write in his organizer about his still-vivid dream. Near the end of his efforts at recording his thoughts, the prosecutor shakes his head...
Edgeworth: Certainly I've changed considerably if I can find something true about myself in a mere personal symbol — or indeed, recognize my encounter with such a thing at all.
Edgeworth writes a bit more, then puts his organizer and pen away.
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. In any case, I should give due consideration to how precisely I intend to refine my efforts prior to beginning my next effort. After all, in this form of investigation, quiet observation is critical; planning ahead is thus even more important than ever before, and consideration of what I've observed must come only afterward if I'm to retain focus and avoid simply seeing my own expectations.
Edgeworth: Perhaps once I've found a suitably still, unbiased point along the connections that already exist, that symbol properly deployed would serve as a beacon? That would be consistent with the requirement for focus on my beliefs, the need to be acting from "outside", and the need to avoid force.
Edgeworth frowns. However, that approach wouldn't be without risk of simply crashing back down to myself under the force of my own echo.
Edgeworth shakes his head. Listen to yourself, Miles. What have you become?...
Edgeworth: Just two weeks ago, such concepts would have been unthinkable!
Edgeworth holds his forehead in the fingers of one hand. Even if I am applying logic, it's to entirely subjective so-called "evidence".
Edgeworth: And yet... it is objectively true that this power touching me is real. I've channeled energy through myself through mere conviction, drawn unlearned knowledge into my mind that others verified, and wielded a healing device in a way that defies any other explanation.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, I've found myself in a world where what I supposedly have the potential to do has demonstrable reality; in mere hours, it grew obvious that some people here are capable of wielding forces unknown where I'm from...
Edgeworth turns his head aside and grips his elbow. ...or rather, nearly so.
Edgeworth: ...The reward for this would allegedly be the acquisition of further objective proof, would it not? How am I to learn the full extent of the truth if I don't face the possibility that despite how absurd the matter may appear, this may in fact work?
Edgeworth releases his elbow and sighs deeply. Once more into the breach.
After taking a moment to write down his thoughts concerning the methodology he intends to try, Edgeworth returns to his room, locks the door behind him, opens the shades of his window, then stands straight and tall in the middle of his room, allowing his eyes to drift closed...
Three hours later, dawn breaks... and Althea is suddenly struck rather forcefully by the mental image of Edgeworth crying out and staggering, clutching his head as he stumbles to his knees, then finally curling up on the ground.
Althea tumbles out of bed and struggles for a moment to get untangled from bedsheets and get her bearings, before bolting out of the room before Tikra can comment on the manner of her awakening.
A mad dash through the city and a breathless, frantic exchange with the troubled yet confused clerk at the front desk later, Althea makes it to Edgeworth's room with a key to it in hand.
Althea contains her worry sufficiently to at least knock quickly before making use of the key, but hurries to open the door after barely any opportunity for a response.
Edgeworth is huddled on the floor in something very close to the fetal position, save that he's tightly clutching his head as though it would explode were he to release his pressure on it. He doesn't seem cognizant of Althea's arrival, instead simply continuing to whimper.
Althea: Edgeworth? Can you hear me?
Edgeworth winces at Althea's words and whimpers a little louder, as though he'd been shouted at rather than simply spoken to with concern.
Althea kneels and looks over Edgeworth carefully before standing and pulling the window shades closed.
Althea turns back to Edgeworth and speaks much more quietly. "I will be right back, I'm going to get some help."
Althea quickly leaves, closing the door behind her quietly.
After an absence of about five minutes, Althea returns to the room, closing the door again but leaving it unlocked.
Edgeworth's trembling and whimpering have marginally subsided thanks to the room having been mostly dark for a few minutes.
Althea returns to near Edgeworth, keeping an eye on him and speaking very quietly. "Fortunately, it seems my hurried departure worried Tikra enough for her to follow me here; I sent her to get Illyvalen. I'm afraid she has no talents at magical healing, but her expertise at more mundane care exceeds mine."
Edgeworth seems unable to muster any more coherent acknowledgement than that.
After a little over half an hour, Illyvalen and Tikra quietly make their way into the room, the latter wearing a dark hooded cloak.
Illyvalen hurries over to the fallen Edgeworth, examining him carefully.
Edgeworth has settled down by this point, though he's still wide-eyed, curled up on the floor, and clutching his head. His breathing is heavy.
Illyvalen keeps her voice low. "You seem to be unharmed physically... How do you feel?"
Edgeworth: ...too much...
Illyvalen: The first time's usually a bit rough.
Edgeworth nods weakly, still holding his head tightly.
Althea: Mm, you're fortunate to be this aware so soon afterward.
Illyvalen: Do you want help getting to your bed?
Edgeworth looks around with an unfocused gaze as Althea speaks again, but manages to settle his gaze on the up-close-and-personal Illyvalen once she asks her question.
Edgeworth seems to take a moment to process the question, but then nods slightly.
Illyvalen looks over at Althea and Tikra, then back to Edgeworth. "Hmmm. I don't think we can lift you. Do you think you can move a little if I help you to position?"
Edgeworth briefly hesitates, then nods.
Illyvalen starts pulling Edgeworth out of his current position...
Edgeworth struggles not to curl back up, though not with much success...
Illyvalen stops after a moment. "I'm going to need help with this, Althea."
Althea nods and starts to stand up, only to lose her balance, knocking both herself and the chair over. After a moment, she sheepishly responds. "Uh, maybe you'd better ask Tikra right now."
Illyvalen: Um, what?
Tikra steps over to assist Illyvalen.
Illyvalen and Tikra manage to carefully maneuver Edgeworth onto his hands and knees, and begin guiding him toward the bed.
While Edgeworth slowly crawls to the edge of his bed, Althea manages to regain her balance and upright the chair. As Illyvalen and Tikra work to lift the prosecutor enough to get his arms onto the edge, the kobold's strength falters and it's all she can manage to not drop him. Althea quickly responds to the forthcoming call for assistance, and together the three of them manage to finally get both of his arms onto the top of the bed's edge.
Edgeworth manages to pull himself rather clumsily onto the bed, bumping against the wall from the force of his effort. He yelps slightly from that shock, but at least doesn't seem to have hurt himself further.
Edgeworth rolls into the bed's center, shuddering.
The three non-humans simply lean against the edge of the bed for a couple minutes to recover from the exertion, breathing heavily.
Edgeworth is hugging a pillow and huddled again by the time the three diminutive scholars recover, though he at least isn't clutching his head again.
Illyvalen stands and looks over Edgeworth again. "I'm going to see about getting him some soup. At least one of you should get back to the Library and explain what's up."
Althea sighs slightly. "Under the circumstances, perhaps that had best be me, if you don't mind keeping watch here... Really sorry to impose..."
Tikra: You need not concern yourself. You carry great enough burdens already.
Illyvalen: We'll be fine, don't worry.
Tikra stands watch over Edgeworth as Althea heads back to her duties at the Library and Illyvalen seeks out the wait staff to see about preparing some food. After the better part of an otherwise uneventful hour, a table and a hot bowl of soup are delivered to Edgeworth's room.
Edgeworth is somewhat calmer by the time the soup arrives, though still far too brain-broken to even think of voicing gratitude to the staff unprompted.
Edgeworth manages to sit up, then stares at the bowl of soup on the table before him for a moment before taking the spoon and beginning to eat.
Illyvalen returns shortly thereafter, thanking the wait staff before approaching Edgeworth.
Edgeworth swallows a spoonful of soup before looking to the gnome, though any expression he might have conveyed takes a back seat to a haunted look.
Illyvalen: Do not worry about anything for now, we will remain as long as needed.
Edgeworth nods numbly. "...Thank you."
Edgeworth waits for a moment, then returns his attention to eating the soup before him.
Over the course of the next several minutes, the physical nourishment and routine task involved in eating the soup further contribute to Edgeworth's recovery. By the time he finishes, his eyes are noticably starting to clarify.
Illyvalen: Are you feeling better?
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. "No; however, I'm growing coherent."
Edgeworth: Did I... do something wrong?
Illyvalen shakes her head. "No. It's usually like this. What tends to vary is how easily people recover."
Edgeworth musters something vaguely resembling a glare. "Surely you don't expect me to believe that people go through this every day."
Illyvalen: Of course not. It's just people's first time that tends to be like this.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Then what's the difference?"
Illyvalen: I don't know the details. You might ask Althea or someone at the Archive.
Edgeworth appears irritated, then huffs in frustration.
Edgeworth then thinks to check his watch.
Edgeworth pulls himself to his feet, using the table as leverage. "Dil must be wondering where I am."
Edgeworth finds himself leaning on the table with one hand while he raises his other to his forehead. "Nngh..."
Illyvalen: Do not push yourself too hard. Are you ready to speak Common again?
Edgeworth winces in deepening frustration, then reluctantly seats himself on the edge of the bed.
Edgeworth: I believe so.
Illyvalen: Good. I feel kind of bad about having to exclude Tikra from everything here.
Tikra: You need not worry on my account.
Illyvalen: Althea might have mentioned something, but I don't really know. Do you want me to go find out?
Edgeworth: It would be most appreciated.
Illyvalen nods. "If you need anything, let Tikra know. I'll be back shortly."
Edgeworth nods slowly. "Thank you."
Illyvalen quietly heads out the door.
Edgeworth looks over to the hooded figure with the familiar voice. "A pity that I'm in no condition to challenge you again."
Tikra: There will be time for such things later. Rest and regain your strength.
Edgeworth looks aside sourly. "Why must matters have come to this?"
Edgeworth shakes his head, then takes a moment to untie and remove his shoes.
Tikra: Such a question may have no answers, or at least mostly hollow ones. One can only weather the trials one faces and strive not to lose hope.
Edgeworth lies in the bed, moves the pillow back where it belongs, and pulls up the sheets. "As things stand, all that I hope to gain is evidence."
Tikra shakes her head. "If that is what is valuable to you, you should pursue it."
Edgeworth fixes Tikra with as serious an expression as he can manage through his pain and lingering dizziness. "It most certainly is."
Edgeworth: Yet I'm not certain what this morning's events are evidence of — greatness, or madness.
Shortly after his conversation with Tikra ends, Edgeworth drifts to unpleasant sleep, having been awake early and only now having his stress subside sufficiently for him to rest again.
An hour later, renewed awareness of his headache is his first sign of having grown conscious again. He groans, then groggily opens his eyes to see another face in the room...
Dil offers a sad, sympathetic grin. "Congratulations."
Edgeworth blinks, then glares at Dil. "I don't appreciate being congratulated for a temporary loss of my faculties!"
Edgeworth pulls back the covers and seats himself on the edge of the bed once more.
Illyvalen: Um... it's more about what you had to achieve in order for that consequence to come about...
Dil shakes his head. "Before you begin accusing me of not warning you, honestly there isn't much that could have been done to prepare you. If someone doesn't have a concept of sourness, how do you warn them about vinegar?"
Edgeworth glowers. "In short, you assert that offering a mere taste would have been impossible?"
Dil: Even if it was possible, it wouldn't have helped that much — the scale is some of what you needed to grasp, too.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Could you not have mentioned its unpleasant nature, at the very least?"
Dil shakes his head again. "If you couldn't approach this with your whole heart, you couldn't have taken that first step —"
Edgeworth: HOLD IT! Do you take me for a coward?! There is still much yet to be proven about this imposition on my nature, and much to be learned about it if it isn't to taint my judgment!
Edgeworth: Quite frankly, the fear that I might be acting on nothing more than delusions was a greater obstacle than any reaction of mine to the prospect of needing to reach into a fire to retrieve evidence could ever have been!
Illyvalen cringes slightly at the outburst.
Dil winces a bit himself. "Sorry... you've seemed so uncomfortable so far, I didn't think I should put anything else in your way."
Edgeworth: I may not be pleased with the apparent truth of this situation thus far, but the truth it is, and come what may I must embrace it!
Edgeworth: If it happens that in so doing I gain the power to uncover still more truths, so much the better.
Illyvalen: Even so... would it have really helped to know that was coming...?
Edgeworth: Facts in all their forms are vital, even should we fail to grasp their full significance at first.
Dil shakes his head. "You say that, but you've been better at dealing with what you find out for yourself than what we tell you."
Tikra: One often does not have the luxury of choosing the form of the trials one faces.
Edgeworth looks to Tikra in mild surprise as the mostly-silent kobold suddenly chimes in. "It wasn't my intention to imply —"
Dil: And sometimes, it's better to be unprepared than it is to think you're prepared and be wrong.
Edgeworth winces, that particular point hitting home.
Edgeworth: It's certainly the case that I would have been wrong to believe myself ready for... that.
Dil: Besides, Althea did tell you one thing. What did you expect something that's commonly seen as a god to be like anyway?
Edgeworth regathers himself and glowers. "One must understand that I come from a world where primitive peoples have mistaken cargo vehicles for gods and created imitation landings accordingly."
Dil stares in disbelief. "...After everything that's happened, do you still think that little of us?"
Dil takes on an unusually serious expression himself. "If there's anything the evidence should have shown you, it's that we know better than that."
Edgeworth's eyes widen, and he squacks.
Dil stands. "Fortunately for you, you shouldn't need much more help — but you're not making me willing to give more if you do."
Edgeworth stares at Dil...
Dil pauses, looking down and over to Illyvalen curiously.
Illyvalen fidgets nervously. "Isn't that a little bit... um... I mean... I don't know if that's..."
Tikra shakes her head. "Leave it. It's up to him to maintain his own relationships; you cannot mend them for him."
Edgeworth appears at a loss.
Illyvalen looks between Tikra, Edgeworth, and Dil, then after a few moments quietly hurries out of the room.
Tikra shakes her head and sighs. "I still know not what to say at such times..."
Dil simply looks back to Edgeworth disapprovingly.
Edgeworth: Er... um...
Edgeworth swallows hard, then bows with his arms pressed to his sides. "My sincerest apologies. It hadn't been my intention to insult you by misjudging the value of what Althea had said to me, nor by sharing that misjudgement."
Dil: If you're going to get far in your ambitions past here, you need to become as good at understanding subjective impressions as objective facts — and not just your own subjective impressions.
Dil: What you experienced today, and how you came to experience it, are interpreted different ways by different religions. The Archival Foundation may be on the trail of what's being interpreted, but how you see it isn't necessarily any better than how anyone else does.
Dil's features suddenly alter sharply — his hair going white, his skin grey, his eyes wholly white, and his ears and nose shrunken out of sight.
Edgeworth recoils. "Gnnah?!"
Dil: It's not just literally that the Traveler walks Eberron in a thousand disguises — but then, that's just how I see it, too.
Edgeworth stares at Dil, apparently not quite able to process just what he's seeing.
Dil: Yes, I am Dil, and I've always been a changeling. I'd just rather not flaunt it without a reason.
Edgeworth glowers. "Does this fact relate to how you entered my room the other day?"
Dil grins. "Well, you're still as sharp as ever."
Dil: Anyway, you seemed to need a reminder that you need to doubt yourself too.
Dil reverts to his usual half-elven appearance.
Dil: I hope you think about that before you approach me again.
Dil exits the room.
Edgeworth seats himself on the bed again, staring at his lap.
Tikra continues stoically keeping watch over Edgeworth from near the door.
Silence reigns in the small inn room for a little over half an hour, until Althea finally returns with Illyvalen in tow.
Edgeworth looks up at the click of the door, then nods to the pair.
Althea: So, Illyvalen tells me you and Dil had a fight?
Illyvalen: Um... I didn't... er... call it that... exactly...
Edgeworth shakes his head. "It would be more accurate to say that I inadvertently insulted him, and he reacted accordingly."
Tikra: It might be even more accurate to say that you insulted all people on Eberron who are ever faced with something they don't fully understand.
Althea sighs and shakes her head. "I suppose something like this was inevitable eventually."
Illyvalen: Uh, I kinda think everyone is overreacting a little...
Edgeworth lowers his head. "I owe you an apology as well, Althea. I overlooked the significance of some of your testimony based on the same error."
Althea shakes her head. "I wasn't expecting you to get all the significance right away; I was just hoping to push you in the right direction."
Edgeworth: Regardless, Dil's argument stands — I should not have made the assumption I did given the evidence.
Althea: Should I talk to Dil before you go back to the Archive?
Edgeworth: Do as you wish.
Althea nods and heads back toward the door, pausing before opening it. "This is neither your first nor your last mistake. You can't avoid them entirely. All you can do is learn and grow from them, and try to make up for them..."
Edgeworth nods grimly. "Indeed, I've made far greater mistakes before."
Althea: So I've gathered. Don't make this one into more than it is. Just worry about what comes next.
Edgeworth: ...Can you verify a point before you leave?
Althea turns back to Edgeworth.
Edgeworth: It concerns an aspect of Dil's identity.
Althea: He saw fit to reveal that to you, did he?
Illyvalen looks a bit confused.
Althea: I did mention worship of the Traveler was common among them.
Edgeworth shrugs. "It didn't necessarily follow that he was an example."
Althea: No, but neither should it be particularly surprising.
Edgeworth opens his mouth to speak, closes it again, hesitates, then nods. "Er, I suppose not."
Althea: Does it bother you that you didn't know?
Edgeworth: More so that I didn't suspect.
Althea shrugs. "People have many different reasons for choosing whether to be open or secretive about various things about themselves. If he wishes to show a consistent face to the world, I'm inclined to grant him the courtesy of interacting on that basis."
Edgeworth looks aside awkwardly. "Er, that... merely isn't something I'm used to being among the, er, variations in self-presentation..."
Althea: It is certainly true that not all of us have quite so much freedom in presenting a chosen face to the world. It's not in my nature to begrudge them that, but there are those who look down on them for merely having the ability and the possibility of abusing it...
Edgeworth: It certainly has the potential to complicate a case.
Althea: However, it is also worth pointing out that with the aid of magic, others can pull off such changes in self-presentation for a time.
Edgeworth frowns. "I suppose I'll have to familiarize myself with the possibilities and how to determine their presence."
Althea nods and turns to leave again.
Althea heads to the Korranberg Archive only to find that Dil isn't in the first basement as usual. It doesn't take much searching to find him, however; the cleric of the Traveler is in the break room, sipping at a nearly-finished cup of mild tea.
Althea: Good morning.
Dil looks over, looking vaguely disappointed. "Oh, good morning. You're here early..."
Althea: It's been an eventful morning, I've had to interrupt routine a couple times today.
Dil: A couple of times?
Althea: Both having to do with the fallout from his success earlier today. I was a bit surprised he didn't come to the Archive first this time...
Dil shrugs. "He was too quick to start interrogating me for me to ask why."
Dil shakes his head. "I'm starting to wonder if he's taking out his frustration with the very concepts he's having to deal with on me..."
Dil: This is the third day in a row.
Dil: The same three days he's been expected to try this...
Althea: Perhaps. He's seemed to have some hostility to your methods from the beginning, and if anything I think my trying to explain the Traveler to him just kind of made him more hostile...
Althea: Suffice to say I was first on the scene after his collapse, but I did kind of have to get back to the Library. At least until Illyvalen showed up distraught over you and him 'fighting'.
Dil downs the last of his tea and sets the cup down. "Oh, is that why you're here?... It wasn't much different from the last two days until he drew an insulting parallel with his own world..."
Dil shakes his head. "He did apologize once he fully realized what he'd done, but I'm still amazed he seems to think so little of us."
Althea nods. "I suppose I should have seen something like this coming from the beginning. I've lost my temper with him once myself by now... You've had the worse part of it though, since you're the one leading him into uncomfortable territory. I'm just acting as a curious benefactor here, mostly."
Althea: He apologized to me as well, actually, when I got there. Something about not appreciating the full implications of what I'd told him before. Not that I'd expected him to, really, I was just hoping I could push him in the right direction a little.
Dil: Specifically when you said that what he had to contact was what people interpret as their god... Apparently people in his world have so little idea of what that might be like that tribes have mistaken cargo vessels for them before.
Dil: I knew he didn't have a lot of respect for us, but I thought it was more than that.
Althea: It seems to vary. I think he appreciates that this is a "differently advanced" society moreso than "less advanced" compared to his world... but religion is something he's clearly always viewed more as a madness that possesses people and corrupts their thinking... It's part of why I could see no other place than the Foundation for someone like him to go...
Althea: He was reluctant at first to even hear me explain this world's religions and the common creation myths...
Dil nods. "It's obvious that he's starting to fear for himself now because of that."
Dil: He seems to look at this more like trying to find evidence that he isn't going crazy than receiving gifts. He even said when I explained that I didn't want to scare him with a warning that it wasn't going to be pleasant that... let's see...
Dil: "Quite frankly, the fear that I might be acting on nothing more than delusions was a greater obstacle than any reaction of mine to the prospect of needing to reach into a fire to retrieve evidence could ever have been!"
Althea: Mm. I'd say that's to be expected. Really, he's on the verge of shedding a very specific and long-held form of closed-mindedness, and it probably feels exactly like he's at risk of losing a way of discerning "the truth" in so doing. Only making that journey will help him realize that it was really holding him back from seeing the truth in the first place.
Dil: If he's serious at all about what his world's like, though, I can almost understand it.
Althea: As to that, I think he's being honest about his understandings, but he may not be the most reliable witness either.
Althea: It's a shame we don't have any way of getting other accounts to compare...
Dil nods... "Or even scrying into his world somehow."
Althea: He does intend eventually to seek a way to return, or at least he did originally. If so, perhaps something may come of that. I do fear though that should any risk following him home, they would find returning even more difficult than he did...
Althea: After all, if magic touches him here, it's as likely not to touch us there.
Dil frowns and nods... "And people who know anything about magic are apparently rare there."
Althea: At any rate, whether he burns his bridges or not is ultimately up to him, but as the one who essentially dumped this problem in your lap, I do feel like I should ask whether I may have overburdened you...
Dil shakes his head. "You don't have anything to apologize for. Arrogant and disrespectful or not, he's still given me a lot to think about."
Dil smirks. "And once he gets through this, it'll be interesting to see how much he really does make things change."
Dil shrugs. "Even if it'll be through letters and the chronicles."
Althea nods. "I suppose I don't know how readily he'll be likely to stay in touch, but if nothing else I know Illyvalen's eager to correspond so she can keep her skills with his language well-practiced."
Althea frowns slightly and sighs. "Not to mention there's still the matter of my having unusually frequent visions connected to him."
Dil blinks. "Have there been more?"
Althea: Twice just this morning. The latter led to my discovery of his having collapsed in his inn room.
Dil: What was the other?
Althea: I witnessed a dream of his again. This one not a nightmare.
Dil quietly listens...
Althea hesitates, looking conflicted.
Dil half-frowns, confused.
Althea: ...He did complain recently at the extent to which I've shared discoveries about him which he tended to see as 'personal'... I felt that up to this point I've been fairly well-justified in doing so...
Dil: Well, if you really think its value is too high to give away to just anyone...
Althea: It's more that I don't feel it's mine to give. Zilargo's ways are both unfamiliar and distressing to him in various ways, and I do have a debt to him as well... It would probably be best if I spoke with him further on the subject first...
Dil looks surprised at the mention of a debt. "Huh..."
Althea: For what it's worth, I suspect I probably can convince him to share this with the Foundation, but I'm going to have to abide by his decision, whatever it ends up being...
Dil: I've left other decisions in his hands too, at least after he apologized.
Althea nods. "This has all been terribly difficult for him. Even the things that should be benefits in his situation are alien enough to be a source of clear discomfort..."
Dil: The conflict's really obvious when it comes to divination. He's yearning for it enough that the fear still being there stands out.
Althea: Mm. But in subtler forms, I see it in just about every interaction he has with our world. Even with as remarkably similar as they are. I almost think he'd have an easier time dealing with being on another plane, rather than in a world so similar as to make its differences stand out so starkly...
Althea: It makes me wonder how well I'd cope with something like that myself...
Dil raises an eyebrow. "I doubt this is common enough for you to find out, at least."
Althea: Indeed. It's an open question as to whether there even is more than just his world out there beyond the existence we know.
Althea: Perhaps it is a sort of lone exception to the norms of our universe, like a sun to moons or aberrant to true marks...
Dil: He's actually sounded like he's in less of a hurry to leave than he was, though. Then again, that was on the basis of arguing with other clerics...
Althea: Yes. I think speaking with Belgiwig helped on that account. The Foundation's aims align well with his own sense of righteousness.
Althea: ...though my own revelations may have played a substantial part in establishing such a motivation as well...
Dil: Yeah, that's another reason why I don't think I'll have heard the last of him once he's left.
Althea nods. "Aspects he's inclined to see as personal aside, he very much has a strong desire to share the truths he unearths."
Althea: I shall, of course, to what extent I can, counsel him not to exclude anything that might be an important basis for understanding what he represents...
Back at the inn, two more hours pass as Edgeworth attempts to recover and make sense of the events of that dawn. Aside from a brief discussion in which he learns that no safe or legal nonmagical painkillers have been discovered or invented, time passes silently until Edgeworth suddenly takes on a resolute expression...
Edgeworth staggers from the bed to his feet, though quickly takes hold of his head with one hand after doing so.
Illyvalen looks over to Edgeworth with slight alarm. "What is it?"
Edgeworth: I have business to attend to at the Archive.
Illyvalen: Now?! Don't you think you should wait for tomorrow, at least?
Edgeworth looks around at the ground to locate his shoes, then lowers himself to them, slowly so as not to lose his balance in the process. "Now indeed — I have both some writings to deliver and a need to take advantage of better writing resources than those I have immediately at hand."
Illyvalen: But... you don't look like you're in any condition to walk that far...
Edgeworth begins to put his shoes on. "I'll endure."
Illyvalen: Sir, I... I don't like to impose on people, but I'm here right now as a healer, and that means I'm responsible for you. I... uh... kinda have to, uh... insist you stay here and get some rest... please?
Edgeworth: Under the circumstances, I don't feel I can wait very long before writing down my thoughts. Furthermore, the effort would most likely exhaust the paper in my organizer were I to attempt to write them down with the materials I have at hand.
Illyvalen: If it's just a matter of materials, one of us could run to the Paper Market, or even the Archive for that matter...
Edgeworth pauses, having just finished tying his shoes. "...Very well. I'll need this delivered there as well."
Illyvalen looks to Tikra briefly.
Edgeworth takes his organizer out of an inner blazer pocket, flips through it, and opens the rings once he locates his writings from this morning.
Tikra: Go ahead, I will watch him. They are already familiar with you.
Illyvalen nods and turns back to Edgeworth.
Edgeworth removes the pages in question and offers them to Illyvalen.
Illyvalen takes them, nods, and heads out the door.
Edgeworth: Your effort is most appreciated.
Tikra: See then that it does not go to waste by taking the provided opportunity for rest.
Edgeworth looks annoyed for a moment, then huffs and removes his shoes once more.
Nearly an hour passes uneventfully as Edgeworth continues to contemplate while at least physically resting under Tikra's silent supervision, until Illyvalen finally returns with a decently-sized stack of paper and a pen.
Edgeworth is quick to sit up in bed as Illyvalen returns with the paper, a near-smile appearing on his face. "Excellent."
Illyvalen: Althea said she'd be a while longer working on some research, but that she'll be back later this evening to discuss some things.
Edgeworth nods, reaching for the writing materials. "It's just as well, given that I suspect that it will take some time to present this as clearly as I'm able."
Illyvalen: Let me know if you need anything else.
Edgeworth nods. "This should suffice, but your offer is noted."
Edgeworth pulls the table back closer to the bed again, places the stack of paper in the middle, then takes two sets of three pieces off of it, setting one before him and slightly to the left, the other just to the right of the other sheets.
Edgeworth begins to scrawl notes and the beginnings of an outline on the paper on the left...
Edgeworth spends the entire afternoon first outlining, then carefully writing out his best effort at describing that crucial instant at dawn as best he can figure out how:
In my world, science has focused a great deal of effort on learning the contents and scope of the cosmos, what people here would refer to as our Material Plane. It has been this way ever since the truth that our planet and others revolve around our sun triumphed over religious doctrine insisting that the entire physical universe beyond Earth revolves around and is secondary to our planet. That discovery was the first evidence weighing against the notion that the cosmos exists for humanity's benefit as preferred creations of a god.
Over time, it grew clear that our sun was no unique body, but merely a star as viewed from much nearer than the rest. A great many of these stars also have planets which revolve around them, though we've yet to learn whether or not any of those contain life as our planet does and the rest of those orbiting our sun do not. The other stars are so distant from us that light from them takes years to reach our world, and those that can be discerned by the unaided eye are only a tiny percentage of those that exist.
These stars, in turn, are as specks of dust in a vast whirlwind; they are found in spiralling collections known as galaxies, and galaxies themselves number in the hundreds of billions at least — a number, I might add, which dwarfs that of the roughly seven billion humans on Earth. In addition to the physical scope of the universe, there's also the temporal one. While some religious people continue to cling to the notion — I dare say the desperate hope — that the cosmos is merely a few thousand years old, science suggests its true age to be over thirteen billion years, and that our solar system coalesced roughly four and a half billion years ago.
In the other direction, and less directly challenged by religion, science has explored aspects of our world too small to be observed with the naked eye. Our bodies are comprised of a network of trillions of individual, interdependent cells of multiple types, with old ones dying and new ones being born through division every day. Each cell is comprised of dozens of the largest and most complex molecules nature has to offer, the uniquely self-replicating ones that both contain and embody a recipe for life, known as DNA.
DNA itself comes in remarkable diversity — enough to allow for nearly nine million species of life and great individual variation within each species. It took almost three billion years for imperfections in DNA replication to result in such diversity. Each strand of DNA is itself comprised of around two hundred billion atoms — units of the elements of matter — which themselves are each collections of a few particles.
It is said that the human mind, having evolved for the smaller scales of everyday survival on Earth, cannot truly grasp the full meaning of such vast numbers; a million, as the saying goes, is a statistic. We live our lives and conduct our affairs in the realm of tens and hundreds and low thousands, even if in actuality the numbers affected by our actions are far greater. Indeed, where billions, millions, or even tens of thousands come into play, we rapidly retreat to abbreviations.
Today, for the span of a fraction of a second, I was exposed to a sense of that scale and my own inability to cope with it. I experienced something suggestive of not merely the vastness of space and time, the diversity of life and individuality therein, or the depth of reality's detail, but all of these at once. I have no idea how it is that my mind survived such an onslaught, and indeed grew coherent again within mere hours, save that I retained memory only of the gist of the experience.
Meanwhile, at the Archive, Dil eventually finds the time in all his work to read the notes Illyvalen delivered on Edgeworth's behalf. Once he finishes, the changeling shakes his head with a sad smirk, then carries the notes over to Althea, who's been spending time simply studying.
Althea looks up.
Dil: It seems that he decided to share that other vision you mentioned after all — a dream, to him, but one he found startlingly vivid.
Dil shrugs, then sits down at the table Althea is at.
Althea nods. "If he brought it up himself then I suppose it's fair game."
Dil: That's what I thought too.
Dil: It's not surprising that he'd have a sacred space like that. I am half-surprised he recognized it for what it is, though...
Dil: Even if he didn't put it that way. If anything he seemed reluctant to label it at all...
Althea nods. "I did make a point on pressing the temple imagery earlier over his objections; not least because I figured that was imagery he'd either have to embrace, or at least appreciate as applied to his situation..."
Althea: But yes, essentially we saw the temple of his faith from the inside, and observed how it varied from either of our expectations...
Dil shakes his head. "The few parallels he drew to a temple definitely showed irritation and reluctance."
Dil: But he let himself express being "impressed" all the same, and I get the feeling that's an understatement.
Althea: It did seem to represent the essence of his faith, to the point that the very act of attempting to open the doors and contemplate leaving struck him as tantamount to discarding his beliefs.
Dil nods. "He did mention that part. The other interesting thing he mentioned was how real it seemed to him even after he woke up. He wasn't sure at first whether he had awakened or passed out..."
Dil: But at the same time, admitting that clearly troubles and embarrasses him.
Althea: I wouldn't go suggesting to him that this represents a vision on his part... I realize he may be somewhat likely to be prone to such things, but it clearly troubles him so deeply... well, I think it'd be best to leave the matter alone until we're sure it's going to be an issue going forward...
Dil nods... "If he approaches me directly again at all, anyway. It was Illyvalen who delivered these notes."
Althea: I wouldn't read too much into that, I suspect Illyvalen doesn't want him going anywhere for today...
Dil shrugs. "I guess you have a point. She took some writing materials from here to him, too."
Althea: I'm told she can actually be forceful if she thinks someone's health and wellbeing are on the line.
Dil: I don't suppose you can explain the way it was lit any better than he did? He wrote like it ought to be self-explanatory...
Dil: Not to say that he didn't try, but it read like someone trying to describe the self-evident.
Althea shudders slightly. "The light felt... very unnatural to me. Neither the light of the sun nor that of Irian could ever be at once so bright and so cold..."
Dil shrugs. "I think we can read between the lines that for him it was the most natural thing in the world..."
Dil scribbles down a few notes on this point.
Dil: Maybe even the most natural part of the entire space.
Althea: It felt like it would bear down relentlessly on anyone being scrutinized until they had not a shred of what it felt to be untrue to shield themselves with...
Althea: Had I been present in such a dream rather than observing from afar, I should think I would feel as though I had been stripped naked should such light fall upon me...
Dil looks briefly serious. "I think it's clear that it's not any kinder to him, though."
Althea: ...indeed. Perhaps it is just my differing nature that I should be... averse to that from which he draws such comfort...
Dil shrugs. "Maybe it's because of its presence that he couldn't help but find the dream real, despite it conflicting with his idea of what 'real' even is."
Althea nods. "I did ask him if it was the light of his truth. While he didn't like the way I put the question, he did confirm the speculation."
Dil: He was kind of vague about how it ended... he said that something swept through him and he manifested that outfit as a result, but he shied away from describing it in any way.
Althea: Suffice to say it looked appropriate for an adventurer of his station. He did suggest it would be the guise he took 'in due time' so I suppose we'll be seeing it eventually.
Dil raises an eyebrow. "He didn't mention that. Not even a hint..."
Althea frowns. "Hrm... he was... a bit different than usual due to taking his station. That might have impacted his outlook."
Dil blinks. "Different?..."
Althea: A bit like his moment of linguistic epiphany earlier.
Dil grins. "Ah, I remember that."
Dil puts his finger to his lip. "I doubt someone like him is embarrassed about his own strength, though — so that begs the question, what's he hiding?"
Dil writes a bit more...
Dil: One thing he did talk about again, though, was how frightening intuition is to him. It's like he expects it to possess him like some kind of malevolent ghost and begin fighting for things that might not be true...
Althea: I think that's part of why he's terrified of the thought of receiving visions.
Dil: What do you see as the rest?
Althea: He seems to find evaluating the highly abstract for symbolic meaning rather trying... a scenario composed of possibly nothing but that... I gather it's conceptually very daunting for him.
Dil nods... "It might seem like the opposite of evidence to him, actually."
Dil: He emphasizes proof so much, would he even act on a vision if he got one that called for it?
Althea: He does seem to reluctantly acknowledge that there is too much to such things to simply ignore it, at least when I've described my own visions.
Dil: Hmm... Of course, it's still all theoretical at this point, right? It's just looking a little bit more likely...
Althea: It's difficult to say. I think we'd best keep our speculations on the point to ourselves for the time being, though.
Dil nods again before lapsing into silent consideration of the notes.
Once Althea finishes her day's study, she makes her way back to the inn where Edgeworth has been spending so much time writing. By the time she arrives, the ink has dried and the paper set aside so that the prosecutor can eat a hot meal of shredded chicken, similarly shredded vegetables, and brown rice mixed together in a bowl.
Althea looks around briefly and nods to Illyvalen and Tikra. "Thank you so much, both of you, for helping out like this."
Edgeworth looks up and over from his meal and nods.
Tikra shrugs slightly and nods to Althea. "The occasional break from routine is not unwelcome. Besides, had I not taken a share, others would no doubt have shouldered too much of the burden." She glances slightly toward Illyvalen.
Illyvalen: Oh, it's no trouble at all. Well, okay, I guess it kinda sorta is maybe but I'm glad to have helped, really.
Edgeworth frowns at Illyvalen's words.
Althea: Why don't you two go get some rest; I can take care of anything else from here, and there are a few things Edgeworth and I need to discuss.
Illyvalen: Uh, are you sure? I could just... er, well, maybe I should come back in the morning, then...?
Edgeworth: I am feeling considerably better by now, Miss Mirilas.
Illyvalen looks a little awkward as Edgeworth refers to her by her surname, almost as if she were referred to by someone else's name. "Uh, it's okay to just call me Illyvalen..."
Althea shakes her head. "I'm sure he'll be fine by morning; he's not seriously hurt, he's just been through some shock, is all."
Illyvalen: Uh, okay. Yeah, you're right, sorry.
Illyvalen: I'll see you tomorrow afternoon, then?
Edgeworth nods. "Indeed. The next open chess meet will be then, correct?"
Illyvalen: Ah, were you planning to go again?
Edgeworth smirks. "Assuming I'm able, yes."
Illyvalen: I suppose it's as good an opportunity as any to speak Common, as well. I'll see you there, then.
Edgeworth: Take care.
Illyvalen and Tikra depart shortly, leaving the seer and prosecutor alone in the small room. Althea closes and locks the door behind them before taking a seat in one of the chairs.
Edgeworth swallows another bite of food.
Althea sighs slightly. "I hate to ask them for this much. Especially Tikra; it's hard to tell what she really feels about a lot of things, she'll rarely complain about anything..."
Edgeworth: Due to the concern that you would accrue new debts by doing so?
Althea: If anything, it's kind of awkward because I don't think either of them would ever think to call in such debts. Illyvalen's got a pretty giving nature, and Tikra... well, she doesn't have a lot of people she can call friends, but she's very loyal to those she has.
Edgeworth nods, a lonely glint in his eyes.
Althea: ...it's really kind of awkward when she says I'm taking on too much of a burden... I don't know all that much about her past, but I've picked up enough to know she had a much harder life before she came here than I've ever known...
Edgeworth glances aside. "She seems prone to speaking in terms of burdens, when she deigns to speak at all."
Althea shrugs. "Speaking is certainly a... deliberate act for her. Illyvalen's said that she used to have a lot more trouble expressing herself..."
Edgeworth nods, then crosses his arms. "Quite frankly, I'm eager for the day when I can once more stand on my own... er, relatively speaking."
Althea: On the point of debts, there are some matters we should discuss regarding your situation.
Edgeworth looks to Althea with a grim expression. "Given today's events particularly, that's entirely understandable."
Althea: To begin with, there is the matter of the extent to which I have shared my observations with Dil and with Belgiwig up to now...
Althea: I have been particularly open with Dil as we've both been engaged in trying to understand the challenges you're facing well enough to help you through them...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm.
Althea: But with Belgiwig, the concern I've had is with regard to the other side of the equation...
Althea: In addition to being the head of the Archive, he's... very well-placed within House Sivis. That can be both advantageous and disadvantageous in various ways, and he does have a fairly difficult balance to maintain himself...
Althea: At any rate, House Sivis, and your relationship thereto, may end up being a rather significant matter... seeing as the House is the main source of presence of Zil culture outside Zilargo...
Althea: In particular, while they have their own preferred ways of handling matters of justice within Zilargo, Sivis gnomes are nonetheless quite adept at working with the laws of other lands as well.
Althea: The House's presence is felt in the makeup of courts throughout Khorvaire.
Edgeworth appears disturbed briefly, then glares piercingly. "In other words, a single extended family has a stranglehold on one of the pillars of government on most of a continent?"
Althea: Pretty much the essential trait of any Dragonmarked House is that it has a stranglehold on at least one and usually several vital resources throughout the continent...
Althea: Though their power with respect to matters of governance is limited by the Korth Edicts, at least in theory.
Edgeworth: I suppose that's another aspect of law I'll need to study.
Althea: At any rate, for my part, I am trying to make sure that even as you receive help and resources from the Foundation, that they see as great or greater return in insight for that investment.
Althea: ...as well as to make clear that should your needs grow beyond the ready resources of the Foundation, that I am prepared to shoulder such burden myself...
Edgeworth frowns. "I can't say I'm comfortable with this arrangement, but if the alternatives are as scant as you claim, I suppose it's nothing entirely new to me either."
Althea: It would be... best for your prospects if at a minimum you accrue no debts to House Sivis. If they should find themselves in any way indebted to you, that would make the path ahead much easier...
Althea: I bring all this up now due to a combination of matters... for one thing, you have reminded me recently of your sensitivity with regard to the sharing of... some things... and seeing as I bear such a debt to you, it is only appropriate that I exercise as much care in my discretion as I... would hope for you to exercise on my behalf...
Althea: For another, as I noted, I was forthcoming with Dil in particular because he is your teacher, and we had a common goal to pursue in that regard... if that relationship is in question, such collaborations would also be...
Edgeworth looks away somewhat. "I appreciate your recognition of that."
Althea: I can try to follow your lead somewhat based on the writings you submit, but... it would probably be best if we were to periodically discuss on which sides of those boundaries my observations might lie... and the value considerations that may be at play in deciding whether certain uncomfortable matters might be better divulged anyway...
Edgeworth glowers. "I can't see that discussion of my past traumas or my nightmares generally accomplishes much beyond exposing weaknesses of mine to attack and causing me unnecessary misery."
Edgeworth: While I'm forced to concede its relevance to Dil's understanding of my progress, arming House Sivis with such information seems as likely to undermine my position as strengthen it!
Althea: First and foremost, we're talking about supplying the Foundation with what it needs to further its purpose, and there are very many ways in which many aspects of your identity and experiences shed light on the mysteries they are trying to uncover.
Althea: The nature of your relationship toward magic, colored as it is by your traumatic experiences, itself tells us important things relative to your manifestation of magic here.
Althea: As Belgiwig himself noted, it shows in particular that even a most fervent desire to disbelieve and not to have divine magic... has seemingly no influence on that which bestows such power; it responds to your faith despite your having no faith whatsoever in it.
Edgeworth's eyes widen at that.
Althea: That's not an insight that would be easy to come by from anyone in this world, I would think.
Edgeworth glances aside awkwardly. "Er, I suppose not."
Althea: There are other elements as to the full nature of your faith that remain unclear relative to our understanding of how faith underpins divine magic. I don't know if we'll ever have a complete picture, but aside from observing you in action as a prosecutor, much of that insight may well prove to be tied up in trauma as well. I speak from my own speculation on that point, but you...seem to have experienced a great deal of that sort of hardship, and it has shaped who you are and how you approach your beliefs.
Edgeworth grits his teeth briefly, then huffs in frustration.
Althea: I'm not suggesting that it is necessary or wise to lay bare every detail of your life... but it's important to recognize when there are important truths within that may have much value when shared.
Edgeworth frowns. "I should hope that things such as what I wrote today will prove to be a less dangerous source of insights."
Edgeworth reaches over to grab his writings.
Althea nods. "I would imagine many will be eager to see that."
Edgeworth: Though it may prove impossible to read without magic, given that several of the concepts within are undoubtedly alien to this place.
Edgeworth: It is only by such means that I could contextualize... that.
Althea: Maybe you and Illyvalen should work on trying to come up with an authoritative translation? Though at this point you might not have time to complete such an effort until after the concert.
Althea: If all else fails, I'm certain the Ninth College has the resources to decipher it.
Edgeworth: "Ninth College"?
Althea: That's the particular branch of House Sivis to which Belgiwig belongs. They have a particular focus on expanding the power and usage of language.
Edgeworth half-frowns. "How would such a project affect the balance of favors? It seems as though Belgiwig would owe his co-workers quite a large debt were he to resort to such means."
Althea nods. "Quite possible, though I would think he would find it worth it should no alternative be readily available."
Edgeworth looks resolute. "Then the task I must pursue after gaining full proficiency with my new capabilities is clear."
Edgeworth: There is, however, the unfortunate difficulty that I'm neither an astronomer nor a biologist.
Althea: There are those who are familiar with such areas of the sciences, and they may also be much interested in any insights you might provide...
Edgeworth: It seems as though this may prove to be quite an ordeal to undertake...
Althea: Don't forget that both Illyvalen and myself have contact with many researchers; assistance for this endeavor can most certainly be found, likely very eager assistance.
Edgeworth: Nor should you forget that I don't wish to grow obligated to remain in Zilargo.
Althea: I suppose it's possible I'm overestimating the value that could be derived from the endeavor. Perhaps you should present what you have to me and I can try to judge?
Edgeworth nods. "Very well."
Edgeworth starts to offer the papers in question, then stops upon remembering that Althea had to read translations of his other writings.
Edgeworth winces, then takes the papers back and clears his throat.
Over the next few minutes, Edgeworth reads what he wrote aloud to Althea, much as though simply making an especially lengthy opening statement...
Althea listens quietly and contemplatively to the presentation. After its conclusion, she looks up at Edgeworth.
Althea: I won't pretend to understand everything you just read to me, but I think I have a better appreciation of something of what you said about your mathematician-machines earlier. A lot of your world's understanding of science is based in numbers and scale, isn't it?
Edgeworth puts the writing back on the table. "Indeed so."
Althea: The idea that something can seem to be very different if you look closely or from far away... that's what these machines are, essentially, aren't they? Something you can put together in a particular way at a small scale, in order to seem to be something much different at a large scale?
Edgeworth grins. "Precisely."
Althea smiles. "I think that ideas like that may be more valuable than necessarily knowing the science behind them; that kind of thinking fires the imagination and inspires people to look at what they know in new ways. Even if you can't tell us all the secrets your society has discovered, you can testify to how your society thinks about its problems, and that could lead to the same or even entirely new discoveries."
Edgeworth actually smiles for once himself.
Edgeworth moves the bowl containing his half-finished meal aside, then takes a clean sheet of paper and the pen Illyvalen delivered.
Edgeworth begins to write with a confident smirk on his face.
Edgeworth spends a few minutes writing down the concepts he and Althea just discussed, elaborating slightly. Once he puts the pen and paper aside, however, he digs his badge out of his pocket again...
Edgeworth: There is a disadvantage to such a view of the world, however.
Edgeworth places his badge face-down in the palm of his hand and lowers it for Althea to see.
Edgeworth: Though the use of numbers eases record-keeping, the degree to which they're used for identification within a system can at times grow disconcerting.
Althea: Then this number denotes your place, the piece you represent, at the internal scale of the system of justice you champion?
Edgeworth: Indeed — though as much as I may value it, I'd rather not be regarded in that way exclusively. ...That is part of the reason why I don't wear it.
Edgeworth repockets his badge.
Althea shakes her head. "Being represented by something is not the same as being one with it."
Althea: Though I can see why you might expect to be seen as a prosecutor above all else...
Althea: ...but then, isn't part of your faith the importance of appreciating how things are at all scales?
Edgeworth: What exactly do you propose that has to do with faith?
Althea: Isn't that connection precisely what you expressed in your notes? It's been clear from early on that it is in significant part because of your faith that you are a man of science.
Edgeworth: What I expressed in my notes was an attempt to describe and make sense of an experience too vast and intense for my mind to fully encompass!
Althea: Wasn't it too vast precisely because you couldn't just look at it in terms of a scale that made it manageable?
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple with a serious expression. Perhaps that is what must be done...
Edgeworth: To discover the level on which it must be viewed to find spells within it would seem to be my next task.
Edgeworth: In any case, an appreciation of things on several levels is hardly incompatible with a desire to be appreciated on the level of a human being.
Althea: No, but I fail to see what that has to do with hiding your badge or its number. You certainly don't try to hide the fact that you're a prosecutor.
Edgeworth: Unless one were in the know, however, it wouldn't be apparent before approaching me first as any other human.
Edgeworth's expression hardens. "To do otherwise would be to reduce me to that number, and thus do me a disservice. Numbers are perfect; people are not."
Edgeworth: I had never before thought to consider how different my current motive for this behavior is from that of the "Demon Prosecutor"...
Althea shakes her head, and after a momentary hesitation switches track somewhat. "Numbers are abstract. They may highlight or obscure details of that which they represent, depending on how they are used, but they neither grant nor deny perfection to anything real."
Edgeworth: Indeed, it is that very abstraction which provides them with such perfection.
Edgeworth: However, it would be appropriate to say that what science in my world hopes to accomplish is to come up with equations that are accurate reflections of every aspect of reality.
Althea frowns. "I wonder if such a thing is even possible. I suspect not, but at the least, much could be learned from the attempt."
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head with his arms outspread. "Much already has been."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "It's a far cry from simply clinging to ancient stories as a guide to reality no matter how grossly they might contradict it."
Althea: If one must choose between reality and meaning. Are your people always so polarized on matters?
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "In the courtroom, such matters are intertwined, given that when attempting to find the truth behind a crime, one cannot ignore motive."
Althea: And is this nuanced perspective found only in court?
Edgeworth: Certainly the rest of the justice system must think in such terms as well. Historians and archaeologists must consider human factors in their efforts to uncover truth as well.
Althea: Just not "scientists"?
Edgeworth frowns. "There is science involved in all of these pursuits, though the humanities, as they're known, are regarded as relatively impure when compared to those fields more readily reduced to numbers."
Althea: So meaning is an impurity introduced into science only when absolutely necessary?
Edgeworth hmphs. "That is the assertion made by some."
Althea: How would you portray the matter, then?
Edgeworth considers this for a moment, lifting a finger to his temple.
Edgeworth: All truths are worthy. If those I help to uncover in my work are to be seen as something lesser, then it should be due to their localized nature rather than due to involving human factors.
Edgeworth smirks. "By being deposited here, I've been placed in the midst of a far larger search for truth than I ever could have hoped for."
Althea: And the philosophy of your science is that how things are at any scale can fundamentally affect how they are at any other scale, even though they should at that point seem completely different?
Edgeworth: The potential is there, yes. There is an illustrative story in which the beat of a butterfly's wings sets off a chain of events that ultimately causes a storm elsewhere.
Edgeworth glances aside with an annoyed look. "There are those who look to such things and call it proof of a chaotic world. I rather assert that it merely demonstrates that we cannot know all factors in play at all times."
Althea: Then I have to wonder why you are so loathe to consider matters of meaning and story, until it be established that no other possible path to the truth exists. Are scientists of your world so deeply at odds with the religious that they must fight for purity in every respect they can manage? Or is it more reflective of your own struggles?
Althea: Ironically enough, I can think of one main aspect of science on Eberron to face that kind of stark dichotomy: the study of magic.
Althea: And even the arcane/divine divide is not entirely pure.
Edgeworth seems about to answer Althea's question, but is clearly caught by surprise by what she has to say next.
Edgeworth shakes his head. "It's no mere matter of war. It's merely important to value objectivity if the truth is to be learned. Even in court, evidence is more concrete proof than testimony."
Althea crosses her arms. "That really doesn't answer the question."
Edgeworth crosses his arms as well. "I fail to see what needs further clarification."
Althea: There's a big difference between valuing the objective over the subjective, and actively trying to avoid certain types of information...
Edgeworth: Is it not reasonable to avoid that which is unverifiable, or to dismiss that which contradicts the evidence?
Althea: The latter certainly may be reasonable in some circumstances, though it may be wise to carefully examine the nature of the contradiction first... Matters are not always as clear-cut as they may initially appear.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "I'm well aware of that." I do, after all, take advantage of that in court.
Althea: The former, though, seems potentially foolhardy. It is difficult to ascertain the value of that which one refuses to examine...
Edgeworth glares. "Even if it cannot be examined?"
Althea: I'm not sure what you're getting at...
Edgeworth rubs his forehead with an irritated sigh. "I mean that this entire process has been so mired in subjective impressions that if it weren't for the concrete results I've managed to attain thus far, I would already have dismissed it as mere delusion!"
Althea: That is precisely what I was inquiring on, yes. You're considering the guidance we have to offer only because you're essentially being forced against your will to acknowledge its relevance...
Althea: What if by preemptively dismissing it, you were to miss the opportunity to encounter evidence supporting it?
Edgeworth: What do you hope to accomplish by exploring this hypothetical scenario?
Althea: ...maybe achieving a better understanding of why you approach things the way you do, and how much is or is not representative of your world overall...
Edgeworth: I don't believe I could have denied the physics of this world forever. The differences are far too fundamental and the scope far too extreme for a ruse.
Edgeworth: Even if I'd dismissed Korranberg as some sort of theme park, what then of the world beyond it?
Althea nods. "So you believe the truth will out, in objective form, however thoroughly one might ignore any warnings of uncertain credibility?"
Edgeworth grins. "Precisely so, though it may at times take years for this to occur."
Althea nods. "That answers one of Dil's questions, at the least."
Edgeworth frowns. "That being said, however, I can't claim that I'm comfortable with the level of subjectivity involved in this particular pursuit."
Edgeworth: Even this morning's... event was far from something that would be considered admissable.
Althea: For my own part... sometimes truth shouts and sometimes it whispers. Even if you can count on the former happening eventually, sometimes you wish you'd paid more attention to the latter...
Edgeworth peers skeptically. The question, of course, being whether even that sort of experience can qualify as the truth "shouting".
Edgeworth looks back over at his notes. If it can, then given the pace at which this investigation has progressed, it shouldn't be long before that fact grows apparent.
Edgeworth appears uneasy. Yet if it is true that truth can manifest itself in such a subjective form, what does that mean when it comes to how I proceed from there?
Edgeworth: I cannot simply allow myself to fall back into the habit of assuming myself infallible.
Edgeworth glowers. Whatever else might happen, the Demon Prosecutor must remain dead.