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: Er...
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."
Illyvalen: Um...
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 never know what to say when she gets like that."
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.
Dil shrugs.
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.
Edgeworth: ...
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.
Edgeworth winces.
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.
Edgeworth: Indeed.
Althea: I did mention worship of the Traveler was common among them.
Edgeworth shrugs. "It didn't necessarily follow that he was an example."
Illyvalen: Oh.
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 nods.
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 nods.
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.