"Spiritual experiences raise the question, 'What is real?' and 'How do we know it is real?' For two centuries, reality was synonymous with objectivity, but that is no longer adequate. Today theorists are questioning the validity of our senses, and asking if the way our mind works limits our perception and knowledge of reality. The unanswered questions have become, 'Is there anything "out-there"?' and 'Will our knowledge of it ever be complete?'"
— Sara Horsfall
After a tulmultuous day starting with a rude metaphorical awakening and ending with mixed thoughts about the same, the next thing Edgeworth finds himself aware of after drifting to sleep is being at the sealed mouth of a small, very gaudy mausoleum — its walls are bright magenta with white and grey marbling and it has a few bright blue, gold-bordered long plates set in it with gold writing in a script the prosecutor doesn't recognize. What is clear, however, is that something within is pounding on the slab sealing the tomb, and cracks are beginning to form...
Edgeworth stares in horror, then quickly heads over to a pair of large stone bars. Even one proves heavy for him to carry, but fear seems to be spurring him to drag it towards the failing seal anyway.
Edgeworth vaguely becomes aware of a sense of a separate, detached sort of sense of analytical curiosity about the situation, still somewhat disturbed but notably less fearful than his own natural reaction...
Edgeworth: Wh-what the...?
Althea: I'm afraid I cannot read the name on the inscription; do you know who or what we're facing here?
Edgeworth rests the bar he's been dragging against one of the perches for them. Yes.
Edgeworth begins the arduous task of sliding the bar into place...
The pounding from within continues unabated.
Althea: Then you have the advantage in this situation; there may be little I can do to assist.
Edgeworth doubles over to catch his breath once the first of the two bars, the lower one, is in place.
What reason do you have to fear me? This time, failure truly isn't an option.
Edgeworth goes pale.
Edgeworth looks around frantically for some way to get the second stone bar high enough to slide into place...
If the premises my actions rested upon are no longer false, then the entire logic problem is transformed, is it not?
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! You presume too much in assuming that those premises are or will soon become true!
Hah! Do you really think that choosing not to trust what you know will bring more criminals to justice? There's no longer any point to being fettered!
Althea: Curious... I'm guessing this relates to one of your traumas, but if I didn't know better, I'd think I was watching some sort of mythic struggle against some sort of villain, rajah, or anti-deity figure from your religion play out...
Edgeworth just glares hatefully at the door.
Edgeworth: It began and ended with trauma, but hardly constitutes one in itself.
Edgeworth peers. Also, I appreciate the fact that you do know better.
Edgeworth becomes aware of a sense of amusement at that mental comment.
Edgeworth glowers, then takes a step back and forces himself to calm down somewhat. He puts his finger to his temple briefly, then looks to the space between the remaining stone bar and the seal...
A shallow ramp leading from the bar to a point two feet up the side of the tomb entrance appears even as the pounding of its occupant continues, causing a magenta chip of stone to fly from the cracking stone.
Edgeworth winces with wide eyes at the cracking sound from the door, then hurries to begin dragging the stone bar up the ramp.
What's the matter? Out of counterarguments?
Edgeworth hisses. "What justice is there when one makes oneself the whole of the law?! Even superior knowledge must itself be proven!"
And if the truth cannot be proven as well as you can know it, what then?
Edgeworth leans the bar against one of the higher holders. "That's impossible! Inevitably, the truth will find its way —"
Edgeworth recoils as the door is struck from within again, leaving much larger cracks.
OBJECTION! If you were to simply wait, what would a criminal do with that time?! You needn't fear that I would convict innocents anymore — we can know!
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! Our job isn't to act as a vigilante, but to make the truth known! Even if such methods are as reliable as you presume, it is my duty to find ways to prove what I've learned, and my responsibility to allow it to be challenged!
Responsibility? To allow the ignorant to overpower the truth? Don't make me laugh!
Edgeworth takes a deep breath, then finally heaves the second stone bar into place. "The truth is far stronger than that, at least in the hands of those with the strength to wield it."
Edgeworth hops down from the side of the ramp, then turns to the door and points. "What else does my acquisition of this new potential prove, if not that I possess that very strength?! There's no need to abuse such power when using it within our rightful bounds will suffice!"
Edgeworth quickly pulls his badge from his pocket and holds it aloft; the area is bathed in pale blue light punctuated by white and light blue clouds that fade in and out of existence. "I demand that you return to your death at once!"
As the voice's cry fades, the cracks in the seal on the mausoleum's entrance repair themselves with a light crackle, and the stone bars Edgeworth hauled into place turn to steel.
Edgeworth lowers his badge again, sighing in relief.
Althea: It would seem you're already beginning to mend fading wards of your own. I'm pleased to see you're getting better at coping with nightmares yourself...
Edgeworth: This is an old enemy, intimately known — one I've already defeated before.
Althea awakens less suddenly than usual, not going through her usual brief phase of disorientation, but quickly grabbing her notebook and starting to write.
Tikra looks over from the room's small table. "I gather your visions today are of a less disturbing nature?"
Althea: In full context very much so. Though it does still attest to the frequency with which our extraplanar visitor is subject to nightmares. I bore witness, and my awareness felt even stronger than in past occurrences, but ultimately he didn't require any guidance from me. Despite facing someone he feared deeply, he seemed to have the matter well in hand.
Tikra nods. After several moments, she adds, "Does this stronger awareness portend greater frequency and intensity of visions? I recall you were becoming concerned with how often your visions fell upon his dreams..."
Althea slows down in her writing somewhat. "...I do not honestly know. It has proved somewhat fortunate thus far, but a point could easily come when such a phenomenon may go beyond being useful... though I may for now be able to help him to grow and survive new dangers, if this continues I may become needlessly privy to things neither of us would want me to know..."
Tikra: Are there no others you could seek guidance from on this matter?
Althea halts her pen, frowning in thought. "Circumstances beyond my control make contacting my own mentor problematic... And clairvoyance is not a subject that greatly understood in Khorvaire... it is not, however, an entirely unknown matter, and the Library should have some literature on the subject I have not yet perused..."
Althea: Moreover, visions are not a matter exclusive to psions; those versed in divination by either arcane or divine means may have insight on the matter...
Althea: However, to fully avail myself of the Library's resources could pose some problems with keeping on schedule at this point...
Tikra: I will assist you.
Althea sighs and shakes her head. "I cannot ask that of you."
Tikra: You did not ask. I offered, freely.
Althea shakes her head. "You know as well as I do, that distinction is irrelevant here."
Tikra shakes her head. "I care not whether the Zil judge such things proper; your need is genuine, your intentions pure, and you would not hesitate to render such aid to one in similar need without any concern to what you might be owed."
Tikra: I already owe a debt I can never repay; what use should I have for demanding a balance from others?
Althea shakes her head and resumes writing. "I suppose there's no use arguing the point... ...Thanks."
Edgeworth's awakening that morning is likewise less than sudden. Once he's ready, he doesn't hesitate to head to the Korranberg Archive, having concluded that it would probably be a safer place to continue his efforts to extract his first spells from the incalculable vastness his mind was overwhelmed by yesterday. However, the prosecutor does take a deep breath before entering the first basement of the Archive, the previous day's notes in hand. After all, he wasn't the only one to suffer that day...
Edgeworth appears solemn and distant as he approaches the table where Dil currently is.
Dil is giving his translation of Edgeworth's notes from the previous morning a final once-over with a frown.
Edgeworth clears his throat.
Dil looks up from his work and grins weakly. "So you're not going to dismiss me after all?"
Edgeworth seems too ashamed to look directly at Dil, even in the mouth as usual. "I... um, believe it would be a grave error, yes."
Edgeworth: I may find being opposed frustrating in the heat of the moment, but it's entirely necessary that someone do so — and thus far, you've shown yourself to have some aptitude at it.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, I feel it necessary to reiterate that I recognize how inappropriate it was for me to draw any sort of parallel between your perspective on these matters and the complete ignorance of some of my world's most backwards cultures.
Dil half-smiles. "I don't know that you need as much help as you seem to think you do, but I'll grant that your apology sounds sincere."
Edgeworth's relief manifests in the form of taking on a more businesslike demeanor. "I'm pleased to hear that. If it pleases you, I have further writings from the latter half of yesterday — my impressions of yesterday's, er, experience, and some further clarification of the modes of thought employed by modern civilized peoples in my world."
Dil shrugs and shakes his head in apparent imitation of the prosecutor. "It doesn't need to please me — remember, information like that is your payment for the help we're giving you."
Edgeworth frowns in concern even as he places his notes on the table. "Is there nothing more that I can do?"
Dil shakes his head. "That you'd consider? Not unless you can cure someone else's nightmares..."
Edgeworth: Now that he mentions it, Althea did explain this before...
Edgeworth: Doubtful, though not entirely impossible depending on the circumstances.
Dil's eyes light up.
Edgeworth notes Dil's use of the helmet before explaining further in English: "Without getting into detail, I once was haunted by a recurring nightmare myself. However, it was based on a mistaken impression. The catalyst that allowed that nightmare to begin to fade away was to learn the truth behind it."
Dil smirks. "I don't think that applies exactly to this case, but it does tell me a little more about your relationship to your faith — and maybe how to apply mine to the problem."
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow.
Dil shrugs. "I don't think you'd appreciate it exactly, but you have given me an idea of another way to approach his problem."
Dil: And that's really more than I hoped for.
Edgeworth smirks, then steps back to make his usual sweeping bow. "Then I'll be on my way downstairs to prepare for dawn. If there's anything that can be done to ensure my safety as my investigation continues, I would appreciate that assistance."
Dil: About your safety... you should be checking your own readiness to try again first. Not everyone is ready to withstand the divine the day after they first touch it, after all.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "By what means do you propose that I determine such a thing?"
Dil: Well, to continue the analogies from your notes from yesterday morning? Check the condition of the roads and your gear.
Edgeworth hesitates awkwardly, then nods. "...Very well."
Edgeworth closes his eyes for a moment...
Edgeworth is quiet for a full minute, then his eyes pop open with surprise as he inhales sharply.
Edgeworth: How... how is that possible? The holes blown in the side walls were...
Edgeworth stares into the distance, stunned. ...They're screened in. As though somehow, they've scabbed over — not as they were, but as they need to be.
Dil: ...You're ready, aren't you?
Edgeworth blinks as he's addressed, then looks to Dil resolutely. "Indeed."
After having a tall glass of water while Dil makes some additional preparations downstairs, Edgeworth heads down to the fourth basement and the unmarked room near the end of the hall within it. He finds that there's now several blankets laid out flat atop one another in the center of the room.
Edgeworth glances down. Hmm. I suppose that's better than nothing.
Edgeworth takes his spot in the center, facing east once more... and smirking. Having allowed the status of that "place" to set in, I suppose it should come as no surprise. It is, after all, an aspect of a rather resilient man — indeed, a symbol of perhaps the most resilient aspect thereof.
Edgeworth looks to the illusion-masked eastern wall with determination. Now, however, is not the time to bask in my own strength, but to put it to the test!
Edgeworth taps his temple and smirks. After all, now that I've some idea of how to proceed, I have an investigation to continue.
Edgeworth spends a few minutes slowing his breathing and bringing himself down from his high before his eyes finally drift closed...
After several minutes, a hint of light appears at the simulated horizon...
Edgeworth's eyes twitch slightly, as though he's begun to have a low-key dream.
The light in the east swells over time...
Edgeworth's countenance begins to look uneasy, as though the 'dream' had gradually taken an unpleasant turn.
At last, the sun peeks over the horizon...
Edgeworth's eyes half-open, revealing only whites, as he passes out and collapses onto the layers of blankets below him.
Edgeworth breathes easily, his now-still eyes reflexively closing again.
Meanwhile, as the sun continues to climb above the horizon, Illyvalen makes her way hurriedly along the streets of Korranberg. Despite her efforts at haste, it takes the young gnome nearly thirty minutes to traverse the remainder of the distance to the Archive. Stepping into the first basement, she quickly scans the room before making her way directly over to Dil.
Dil seems not to notice Illyvalen's approach, being rather distracted by his own amazement at a few pages of English...
Illyvalen: Um, uh, is he here...?
Dil looks over to Illyvalen. "Oh! Hello there. He is; he actually dropped off what he wrote with the writing materials you took..."
Dil looks back to the papers. "I'm not sure where to begin translating something like this."
Illyvalen nods, and looks around the basement once before and then back, seeming slightly alarmed. "Uh, he didn't, I mean, he wouldn't have tried again already, would he...?"
Dil stands. "I did have him check his own readiness first."
Illyvalen doesn't seem very reassured by this.
Dil: But now that you mention it, he's been down there a little too long, hasn't he?
Dil frowns. "He should have been done half an hour ago, successful or not."
Illyvalen: Shouldn't we check on him, then?!
Dil starts towards the stairs down. "We should."
Illyvalen follows Dil.
The trip down to the third floor, through it, and down to and through the fourth is brisk and unobstructed. In the unmarked prayer room, Dil and Illyvalen find Edgeworth still peacefully unconscious on the layered blankets in the center of the room.
Dil sighs in relief, smiling sadly. "I thought those might be necessary..."
Illyvalen hurries over to Edgeworth, examining him.
Illyvalen: Hmm... I think he just passed out.
Dil nods. "I thought that was the most likely outcome. Even as fast as he learns, I didn't think he'd be able to focus his awareness enough on this attempt."
Illyvalen looks back towards Dil. "Do you have some towels?"
Dil: We do. Do you need them wet or dry?
Illyvalen: A wet towel should do for now, preferably warm.
Dil: All right, I'll need a few minutes for that.
Illyvalen: I'll stay here.
Dil nods and heads out of the room...
Though it takes five minutes for Dil to complete the necessary effort, he does eventually return with a warm, wet towel for Edgeworth. Ten minutes after that...
Illyvalen: How do you feel?
Edgeworth rubs his forehead weakly. "As though aspirin would be useful."
Illyvalen: Fortunately I don't think you need a healer, but you should probably rest for a while.
Edgeworth grits his teeth. "How many times must I suffer before it grows clear whether or not this endeavor is worthwhile?!"
Illyvalen looks toward Dil.
Dil shrugs. "I couldn't guess, but you're actually past the hardest part if it helps to know that. It's all downhill from here — it's just still a bumpy hill."
Edgeworth pulls himself up to a sitting position.
Edgeworth: Hmph. "Bumpy" indeed; it was a struggle to endure even tiny slivers of that force for very long.
Illyvalen: You must have weathered it pretty well to have merely passed out and then recovered so quickly, though.
Illyvalen: ...though I'm not sure I can understand throwing yourself back into this the very next day...
Edgeworth checks his watch. "Is it such a strange thing to go to great lengths for the sake of the truth?"
Illyvalen: There are times for action and there are times for rest...
Dil: I would've been more surprised if you hadn't, really. I thought I might have to stop you if your soul hadn't healed properly yet.
Edgeworth gives Dil a deeply disapproving glare.
Illyvalen: This 'evidence' isn't going anywhere, and getting yourself hurt in your impatience isn't going to speed anything up. Now lie back down and get some rest. Um, if you please...
Edgeworth stands. "I'll be fine. I simply won't be able to focus on reading or anything of the sort until this headache subsides."
Illyvalen sighs and shakes her head. "At the very least I suppose you can't do anything too stupidly risky until tomorrow... At this rate, I suppose you probably will be ready by then..."
Edgeworth smirks smugly. "Your recognition of that is appreciated."
Dil frowns at Illyvalen. "I would have tried to stop him if it was that bad an idea to try it today..."
Illyvalen frowns. "I don't approve of recklessness, but I can usually tell when someone's hurt badly or not..." Turning to Dil, she adds, "I'm just afraid that maybe you couldn't have... and if he could try more often, he would, even if he was still hurting..."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Do keep in mind that I wish to keep my ability to function mentally intact. I would be nothing without that."
Dil smiles in relief. "Well, good — it's nice to know that I could have stopped you if you'd reacted in a way suggesting you weren't ready."
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "So you were, in fact, gauging my own reaction to my findings when I assessed my own status?"
Dil grins. "Right. You probably wouldn't have known what I was looking for then, and there would've been clear differences. I would've tried to talk you out of it if you were disturbed or unsurprised by what you saw..."
Dil: The reactions I expected from you if you'd already healed from yesterday were different — awed surprise like you showed, or smugness.
Edgeworth looks down his nose at Dil at the mention of that second possibility.
Dil: That you were amazed was actually a good sign — that meant it was more likely that you'd healed into a new form.
Edgeworth: Your supposition is correct — those walls that had been destroyed were replaced by... er, I don't believe I've seen any sign of the applicable invention here, but the purpose is perhaps more relevant than the form.
Edgeworth: Essentially, an entirely different sort of wall had emerged in their place, one which affords far less protection from the elements yet still serves as a barrier against most creatures and other solid objects.
Dil smiles. "So some kind of mechanical ward, in other words."
Edgeworth peers at Dil. "I wouldn't call the invention which lends the new walls their appearance a 'ward' in the sense that you most likely mean. It's little more than a fine mesh of metal fibers."
Dil: But you recognize that it's just symbolic in this case, right?
Edgeworth half-frowns. "Unavoidably so."
Illyvalen seems a little confused by the nature of the conversation, but avoids interrupting for now.
Dil frowns. "Does it bother you that much?..."
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. "Meaning is only supposed to precede form when one communicates — and even then, one must be certain that one has properly interpreted the facts before one chooses to speak!"
Dil grins. "But it is communication — things you're telling yourself as best you can."
Edgeworth takes a breath as though preparing to shout, but ultimately just groans and holds his head. "In other words, still more intuition."
Dil shrugs. "Remember, you are going to have to rely on it a lot."
Edgeworth: I still cannot regard it as necessarily reliable or trustworthy.
Dil: When it comes to understanding your own soul or your relationship with the divine, though, you really don't have much else.
Edgeworth looks disgusted. "Must you continually refer to a mythical aspect of living beings?"
Dil looks bewildered. "'Mythical'?"
Illyvalen: ...hasn't Althea explained some of this stuff yet...?
Edgeworth recrosses his arms. "What would there be for her to explain?"
Illyvalen: Uh, the nature of certain planes and how mortal souls interact with them...
Dil: And the ways Khyber dragonshards can be used in advanced magic related to them, too.
Edgeworth: In short, you claim that there's evidence of such things in this world.
Dil: Weren't you forced to face what little evidence there is of them in your world too?
Edgeworth clenches his teeth. "Nrrrgh..."
Illyvalen: I could tell you some of what's generally known, but really Althea's probably the best person to ask, she's studied the planes a lot...
Dil: Not to mention, a lot of what most people look for in religion is something better to believe than assuming the worst from what little we know.
Edgeworth glares. "In other words, precisely the tendency I despise in the religions of my own world!"
Illyvalen: ...would it be any better if they just believed the worst possible interpretation instead...?
Edgeworth: If that turns out to be the truth, then yes.
Dil winces at the coldness of that statement. "If it helps to know, not every religion is like that. Some accept things at face value and see it as a problem to solve."
Illyvalen looks away. "You say that as if you had some basis to know that any other possibilities are remote..."
Edgeworth frowns. Is what's thought to be known of the matter so terrible?...
Edgeworth: I merely insist that indulging in fantasies and untested assumptions brings us no closer to the truth.
Illyvalen: ...then isn't there a problem with what you just said?
Edgeworth: I see no contradiction. What is proven ought to be believed, what is refuted ought not to be, and speculation is no substitute for either.
Illyvalen: Didn't you just say it was better to believe the worst if it's true, even if you can't prove it?
Dil shakes his head. "I think when he said that he was taking the effort to prove things one way or the other as a given. He's not really someone who'd consider anything less."
Illyvalen: Then is it really so bad to believe something and be wrong, if the truth is still being pursued regardless...?
Edgeworth glowers. "Absolutely — such presumptions about the basic nature of reality are obstacles to that very pursuit!"
Dil smirks. "Unless you're going out of your way to counteract them, right?"
Edgeworth's expression darkens further. "Which such people refuse to consider!"
Dil: That doesn't make your personal quest to argue your way to higher truths sound very promising, you know...
Edgeworth: Hmph. Do you honestly expect me to enter such a debate without first preparing a case based on logic and evidence?
Dil chuckles. "Maybe if you were provoked..."
Edgeworth fumes, then storms out of the room.
Illyvalen sighs and shakes her head.
Dil shakes his head as well. "That was kind of a low blow, I know, but it was for his own good..."
Illyvalen: I suppose if he's just going to do the same thing either way, I might as well get back to the Library...
Dil nods. "Good idea. He'll get more rest without anyone to argue with."
Illyvalen blinks, confused for a moment, then shakes her head and sighs again. "...yeah."
Illyvalen makes her way back to the Library of Korranberg and resumes her studies, but she's clearly lacking her usual energy, a point not missed by Althea as the two discuss findings; eventually, the halfling puts her own notes down and sighs.
Althea: C'mon, out with it. What happened?
Illyvalen: Um... well, I guess you did kind of warn us he could be a pain and all... I just kinda didn't realize...
Althea: Something he said bothers you?
Illyvalen nods slowly. "Maybe not exactly what he said, but the whole feeling of what was underlying it..."
Illyvalen: It's bad enough he seems to want to push himself hard enough to make all of us worry...
Illyvalen: ...but I think maybe he hates the idea of people having hope... or something like that...
Althea raises an eyebrow. "That's a new one. What brought that impression about?"
Illyvalen: Well, he was objecting to how Dil was talking about things, and kind of implied that he thinks souls probably don't exist... I wondered aloud whether you hadn't explained... certain matters regarding that, and Dil brought up a few things, and he started on about all this stuff about how terrible it was for religions to offer comforting ideas about death and how believing the worst is okay if it's true but believing anything else is bad because it's an obstacle to the truth...
Althea: Death is a difficult subject for a lot of people for a lot of reasons... and I've told you already of the problems he has with religious beliefs...
Illyvalen: Yeah, but... how are his assumptions any better? I don't think he even knows yet what we actually do know about it, and he's already throwing around stuff about the truth and...
Illyvalen trails off, seemingly at a loss for words.
Althea: He's still got a lot of growing left to do; I think it's still inherent to his thinking that religions will deny even what's proven to keep their views intact...
Althea: I think you just need to try to be patient with him...
Illyvalen sighs. "And then Dil pointed out that I was just egging him on and getting him worked up without realizing it... after I was already worried about him not resting... I guess my going over there to check on him in the first place was just kinda useless..."
Althea: You shouldn't blame yourself. You did what you felt was best, and he isn't an easy person to really understand. I don't think he wanted to hurt or offend you, and I'm certain he knows you don't want to hurt him... Sometimes situations just don't turn out ideally.
Althea: Besides, I suspect he'll be in a much better mood by the concert tomorrow.
Illyvalen nods. "I guess. He did say he was coming to the chess meet as well, but that was before this morning's argument..."
Althea: I doubt he'll miss it over that. It seems like one of the few ways he feels he can unwind here.
Althea: I won't be able to make it this time, but it might be best if you met up with him and talked about something entirely unrelated to death or religion.
Illyvalen nods. "I guess so..."
Meanwhile, Edgeworth has been enjoying a bit of tea to cool down from the argument and allow his headache to weaken, then writing about his experience this morning, even as Dil struggles to make sense of the prosecutor's writings from the later part of the previous day. When Edgeworth finishes writing this time, however, it's not with his usual satisfaction, but with a sigh and a frown...
Dil looks up from his struggle upon hearing that sigh. "What's the matter?"
Edgeworth shakes his head. "It's a personal matter."
Dil: You've probably noticed by now, but some of what you've had to share to help us understand what you represent is personal. Really, that goes for this kind of journey generally, especially when you don't have anyone else's framework to work with.
Edgeworth sighs again, this time more out of frustration.
Edgeworth: There is a level on which looking back upon today's effort is... dissatisfying.
Dil: ...Huh. If you could explain, maybe it would help.
Edgeworth peers over his shoulder at Dil. "And whom do you propose it would help?"
Dil shakes his head. "Does that really matter?"
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. "Under the circumstances, I suppose it doesn't."
Edgeworth: Though I'd rather not broadcast my despair.
Dil nods. "So it's that bad..."
Edgeworth: I was able to endure that aspect of existence for as long as I did because I was able to limit its influence and my viewpoint. ...And yet, the latter is the opposite of what I pursue. While I realize that I'm only one man and incapable of shouldering the entire burden of truth alone...
Dil: ...it's not enough. Right?
Edgeworth stares off into the distance grimly. "Precisely."
Dil smirks sympathetically. "Well, that raises a question: what can be done about that, by whom, and how?"
Edgeworth turns his head aside and grips his elbow. "...I don't know."
Dil considers whether to say anything more for a minute, then just shakes his head with a frown and returns to consideration of Edgeworth's previous writings...
Edgeworth remains in his current position for a couple of minutes, then releases his elbow and stares down at what he just wrote for a minute more. After a moment of hesitation, he begins to add to it.
The rest of Edgeworth's morning is filled with an attempt to finish reading the book about domains, though he has difficulty concentrating on the task at first. By the time Althea arrives with her usual packed lunch, however, Edgeworth is only a few pages short of finishing.
Althea heads over to Edgeworth's table. "How are things coming?"
Edgeworth looks up from his reading momentarily. "Well in some respects."
Althea nods. "I won't be able to stay for too long today, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to skip the chess meet as well."
Edgeworth: Hm. A pity...
Althea: I did encourage Illyvalen to go. She seemed a little down when she got back from the Archive; I'd suggest steering clear of this morning's subject matter when you see her.
Edgeworth nods, looking back to the book. "Understood."
Althea: I think I understand your situation well enough to grasp some of the difficulty there, but if there's anything you'd like to have cleared up... Illyvalen wasn't entirely clear on how much you discussed, just that the fact that I haven't discussed Dolurrh with you was probably relevant.
Edgeworth: ...It was called to my attention that there is some degree of proof of the existence of souls in this world, and it slipped my mind for a moment that they're even a valid topic of discussion to begin with.
Althea nods. "We know some things about the nature of souls, and various religions posit on matters beyond what we know... The main thing we know is that, barring extraordinary circumstances, the souls of the dead end up in the plane of Dolurrh."
Edgeworth frowns with reluctance. Presumably, the extraordinary circumstances she cites include the advanced magic Dil mentioned.
Althea: Dolurrh is an empty gray waste, resistant to magic, and very dangerous for any who go there... There are accounts of rare cases of people venturing into Dolurrh to rescue souls of the dead for resurrection, but there is a very significant risk of becoming trapped there and suffering a fate not dissimilar to that of the dead...
Althea: Souls in Dolurrh... gradually lose their memories and identities until they fade into oblivion...
Edgeworth's expression firms even as he puts his finger to his temple. "Hence the dread."
Althea: Thus, while it is possible with extremely potent magic or other means to revive the dead, time is a significant factor in successfully resurrecting someone, and some methods expose those taking such action to great risk...
Althea: Not only is there the chance of a living visitor becoming trapped and suffering from the same fading, until they become a shade, but there are also entities who oppose efforts to return the dead to the realms of the living, such as maruts, a type of inevitable concerned with maintaining the inevitablility of death.
Edgeworth crosses his arms.
Althea: Aside from trying to return souls from Dolurrh, there are ways of trying to prevent them from getting there in the first place. The Aereni have the Undying Court, and others, particularly the Blood of Vol, may make use of undeath to preserve themselves. There are also spells that can bind souls into Khyber dragonshards...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Dil mentioned that approach in passing."
Althea: Beyond that, religions speculate, but no one truly knows whether anything meaningful becomes of faded souls, or if there is any real escape beyond undeath, deathlessness or trapping oneself in an object, all of which have significant drawbacks...
Edgeworth: Speculation that presumably some cling to with a tenacity that only proven fact deserves.
Edgeworth's tone is disdainful.
Althea crosses her arms. "Would you have the defense lack faith in their case when you present your doubts?"
Edgeworth seems undeterred. "While it may be a necessary component of defense, faith alone will not suffice."
Althea shakes her head. "You still speak as though faith is for a select few who can meet your challenge. If you're going to try to deny people hope, at least establish the hope is false first."
Edgeworth's lips quirk in annoyance. "How much patience for the irrational do you expect me to extend?"
Althea: Ideally, enough to avoid insulting everyone whose preconceptions on the likely disposition of the unproven don't happen to match your own.
Edgeworth begins to smirk, but this quickly changes course to a frown and a raised eyebrow.
Althea calms somewhat and sighs. "I know you've been through a lot recently, and that some very significant revelations are only mere days old... but you are going to have a lot of difficulty if you can't find a way to be... at least diplomatic with people who have very different beliefs and dispositions. Especially if you want to try to convince them to engage productively in truth-seeking efforts with you..."
Edgeworth's frown deepens on one side. "Given the lack of apparent obligation that a court setting would have, your words ring quite true indeed."
Althea: ...the process you're going through right now I realize is especially trying. If you... simply need to vent, it might be best if you approached me privately for it as we have time... though I am trying to keep to a tighter schedule to make sure we can make our departure reasonably soon...
Althea frowns somewhat. "I suppose I'm not making the most practically useful offer in that regard, but I don't know that I could really recommend anything else..."
Edgeworth side-eyes Althea. "Do you really perceive me as merely expressing rage apropos of nothing?"
Althea: I think you've been taking your frustration with your overall situation itself out on your teacher, at the least...
Althea: Illyvalen getting upset I can partially write off, granted she is a little on the sensitive side... but you're a bit on the abrasive side yourself...
Edgeworth glances aside. "I will admit a tendency towards habits to minimize unnecessary socialization."
Althea offers merely a silent, unimpressed stare, her arms still crossed.
Edgeworth: Given that I've never been one to enjoy or willingly indulge that which serves little purpose, and I'm used to that being found in abundance yet have found less of that sort of thing here, I suppose those habits are... ill-fitted to the situation.
Althea sighs. "That's not really what I'm talking about in this case."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Neither am I the sort to bare my soul for the sake of garnering others' pity."
Althea: But you are the sort to turn a lot of things into a fight... to find fault readily, and ultimately to seek individuals as proxies to accuse when you feel something in your situation is wrong. Or do you truly hold that all your aggression toward Dil stems from his failings as a teacher?
Edgeworth's frown shifts from cold and disapproving to awkward.
Althea: It's been especially apparent since you've started trying to contact the divine.
Edgeworth shakes his head. "His performance has been inconsistent. On the first of those days in particular, he explained matters quite poorly with no excuse beyond poor planning."
Edgeworth hmphs. "On later days, I found myself to have been given less information than I would have preferred, though at least in those cases he was ready to defend his logic."
Edgeworth: Today, however, I can fault him for nothing.
Edgeworth: And I'll willingly admit that on the whole, he's been far more helpful than not.
Althea sighs and shakes her head. "For someone who claims not to believe in perfection, you certainly seem to expect something similar from others..."
Edgeworth winces, then glares... though there's still unease reflected even in that.
Edgeworth: Perhaps he deserves more credit than I've been inclined to give...
Edgeworth: There are certainly ways in which I find him difficult to trust, but on the other hand, he has displayed enough competence to be noteworthy.
Althea: ...if there's nothing else to discuss, I should be getting back to the Library.
Edgeworth looks aside again. "...Very well. I'll be headed that way shortly myself, but there are small matters I must attend to first."
Althea stands, leaving the lunch she packed on the table, and heads toward the stairway leading above ground.
Dil looks up and over at Althea as she passes by. "You didn't really have to defend me, you know."
Dil is half-smiling despite his words, however.
Althea: I don't know; I think it might be necessary to keep him grounded somewhat... And it does seem like his attitude has been getting a little out of hand recently...
Dil: I don't know; earlier, his growing realization of his limitations was starting to eat at him...
Althea: A lot's eating at him. He... doesn't seem to handle that well...
Dil nods... "And between what he said earlier and what I overheard now, I really don't think he's comfortable with confiding in anyone else."
Dil: Not that that's surprising...
Althea's voice takes on a worried tone. "...honestly, at this rate, it wouldn't surprise me if I found out even more detail anyway by way of more visions... He had another nightmare, albeit one he seemed entirely on top of this time... I've always been prone to unusually frequent visions, but never this frequently centered on anyone or anything specific..."
Althea: I don't think I've had a vision that didn't involve him since I met him, really...
Dil frowns. "That doesn't sound natural..."
Althea: Mm. I'm going to have to try to look into it as well, though I don't have a lot of time to spare for it, unfortunately... But if it keeps up, it could eventually get problematic...
Dil nods, then looks back down at his work. "Meanwhile, I need to figure out how to approach what he wrote late yesterday. It's not as easy to translate due to the technical terms for things we've never even imagined..."
Althea: Let me know if you need me to round up some scholars from the Library for perspective...
Dil smiles. "Thanks."
Once Althea leaves, Edgeworth finishes the final pages of the book he's reading and eats the lunch she brought him along with a cup of tea. Once those details are settled, the prosecutor makes the long walk to the Library district, arriving well ahead of schedule for the chess meet — so much so that the room is still being used for a class. As such, Edgeworth finds himself spending some time exploring the oversized campus... only to soon rediscover a familiar locale.
Edgeworth stares at the building in question. This library...
Edgeworth: Is this not the one in which that accident occurred?
Edgeworth hmphs, glancing away. To think that such vistas would open to me both despite and because of my convictions...
Edgeworth looks back to the door uneasily. Father... Why did you betray values of such potency precisely when they were needed most?
Edgeworth turns his head aside and grips his elbow. Certainly, matters eventually came to right themselves despite such actions, but had that final detail of the truth begun to assert itself two years ago rather than two months ago, I...
Edgeworth squeezes his eyes shut and grits his teeth.
Edgeworth: And now, I've come upon another truth too great for me to bear.
Edgeworth shakes his head. Yet somehow, I must come to understand it better, lest it languish in obscurity for far longer than is necessary.
Edgeworth: ...Provided, of course, that I'm on the trail of truth at all. It's growing increasingly difficult to believe otherwise, yet is that reflective of insight or insanity?
Edgeworth squeezes his elbow, glowering. Why must I be so weak that I cannot find answers?!
Edgeworth releases his elbow and balls his fists, quivering with his eyes squeezed shut. Are these really the limitations of humanity?! I cannot accept that!
Edgeworth opens his eyes to glare ahead, still shaking. Come what may, I'll find a means by which to formulate a case to present — I can content myself with nothing less!
Edgeworth breathes heavily, then gradually less so as he forces himself to calm down.
Edgeworth shakes his head. Watch yourself, Miles! Such emotionality can also prove to be an obstacle!
Edgeworth, still ill at ease but not quite so glaringly so, heads into the building.
As the prosecutor enters the building, the librarian gives him a disapproving glance but says nothing. Edgeworth slowly makes his way down one of the aisles, noting that there's more Gnomish script than Common as he goes.
Edgeworth: To think that a week and a half ago, none of these titles held any meaning for me...
Edgeworth soon reaches the end of one aisle, and thus the end of the building with tables and chairs for working and reading.
Among the varied patrons reading, writing, contemplating, or quietly conversing, Edgeworth finds one figure he recognizes; Tikra sits at a small table together with another human, looking over various notes and occasionally writing.
Edgeworth takes a few steps towards the table in question and nods to the kobold.
Tikra looks up and nods slightly in acknowledgement.
Edgeworth: Is this portion of your research proceeding according to schedule?
David looks up, seeming a bit surprised to find someone addressing Tikra.
Tikra: For now, we plan for the acquisition of further research material. That effort is proceeding as expected.
Edgeworth glances at his watch and nods.
David looks over the unusually-attired human. "Hmmm. Is this the 'atheist cleric' our Brelish colleague has been talking about?"
Edgeworth turns to David upon being referred to and bows. "Indeed so. My name is Miles Edgeworth."
Edgeworth: How strange it is to answer to that title so readily...
David: David Thorsten, of the University of Wynarn's College of Social Sciences.
Edgeworth grins. "A pleasure, then."
David: Mention of you has been somewhat frequent; I believe everyone on the team except Nathaniel and Tikra have mentioned some intriguing encounter or impressions by now.
Edgeworth: Given my circumstances, that's unsurprising.
David: Mm, you do seem to invite a great deal of talk and speculation. You're most certainly either an incredible anomaly or an incredible actor.
Edgeworth crosses his arms, looking down his nose at the red-headed human. "Is there any particular form of proof that you would prefer to see?"
Edgeworth: Alternately or in addition, what motive would you ascribe to such a deception?
David looks thoughtful. "Well, now, those are certainly key questions and represent quite a conundrum. It would be pointless to seek proof that you are a cleric; Althea's most certainly qualified to judge your performance in that regard... The real question is, what sort of cleric are you, and what would be the point of such a deeply intricate and elaborate ruse..."
David: On the question of motive, there are certainly a number of possibilities. Whether any of them are sufficient to explain such matters depends much on what sort of man you are...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "I pursue truth — a pursuit which has taken a rather bizarre turn since my arrival in this world."
Edgeworth: To say nothing of uncomfortable.
David: And you pursued this truth in less paradoxical ways in a world that has somehow gone further than ours despite being bereft of magic and all concomitant blessings of the fruits of the arcane sciences?
Edgeworth hesitates for a second before uncrossing his arms and beginning to lecture in response. "First, a clarification — I have been forced to accept that magic in my world is merely rare, marginalized, and untouched by science, not nonexistent."
Edgeworth: Certainly the particular form that's referred to as "divine" here must not exist there, however, or else the reaction here would not be a change from the norm.
David shrugs. "Fair enough. It does not seem to change very much about the nature of your claims."
Edgeworth: Indeed. Concerning those, I'm a criminal prosecutor, though I admit that circumstances often lead to my playing the role of inquisitive.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, I've seen and experienced feats performed here that could not be duplicated with our technology, and Althea has claimed the existence of more such phenomena.
David: Then as a prosecutor and inquisitive you are no doubt well versed in the matters of behavior and motive, the art of deception and its unraveling, and to be effective in those roles you would certainly require a sharp intellect and observational skills...
Edgeworth looks disdainful. I believe I know where he's going with this, but I'll allow him his moment.
David: I should think psychology would be a relevant subject matter as well... knowing how people will respond to certain arguments, lines of questioning, suggestions... How to provoke useful, desired responses...
Edgeworth recrosses his arms as he waits.
David: Certainly any deception is stronger the more it is founded on the truth, so I suspect these particular details are not far off even if this is a grand hoax...
Edgeworth narrows his eyes. As I suspected.
Edgeworth: Then why do you propose that any sort of lawyer or inquisitive would engage in such a deception — particularly one with abilities uncommon enough to make him stand out?
Edgeworth: I myself can think of one answer...
David: There could be any number of reasons. One thought is that you might feel you had some larger point of truth to make, that you plan some sort of grand reveal to teach some kind of lesson to those taken in...
Edgeworth glares at David. "Do you take me for one of the Traveler's vassals?!"
Shushing comes from all corners at that outburst.
David raises an eyebrow. "The thought certainly crossed my mind."
Edgeworth's glare remains unbroken as he fumes with clear offense.
Tikra: He prays at dawn. Keep your voices down.
Edgeworth rubs his temple. "Must you refer to it as that?"
David frowns. "Are you certain of that?"
Tikra: Althea is.
Edgeworth smirks as he realizes just what got proven.
David: Well, that would seem to preclude the most obvious of religious motivations for such a scenario...
Edgeworth taps his temple. "Indeed."
David: But perhaps your motives are a combination of religious and professional...
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow.
David: Perhaps this is your way of performing some kind of undercover investigation of the Archival Foundation, seeing how they would indoctrinate a new cleric and approach such mysteries as you claim to offer?
Edgeworth grins. So he did, in fact, think of that angle.
Edgeworth: An intriguing theory, but it begs a question. If, in fact, I already possessed such capabilities, the events of yesterday would have been an act, would they not? I find it hard to believe that acting alone would fool both an heir of Jorasco and an independent healer into believing me to be in poor medical condition. How do you propose I misrepresented my condition with such accuracy?
David: Hmmm. I take it this relates to Illyvalen and your absence from the meeting yesterday?
Tikra: It does.
Tikra: He successfully prayed for the first time yesterday morning. Althea had a vision of his collapse. Illyvalen and I tended to him as he recovered and rested.
Edgeworth hrmphs. "It was progress to be certain, but not what I would consider 'success'."
David: I'll concede that it would certainly be difficult for an experienced cleric to deliberately over-expose themselves in order to cause symptoms similar to one's first contact, not to mention possibly rather risky... but it's not inconceivable you might have deliberately inflicted just enough real harm on yourself to make faking the rest more feasible...
Edgeworth's eyes widen as he grits his teeth. Blast, I hadn't considered that possibility! To make matters worse, I fail to see any way to disprove such a claim!
Edgeworth: This calls for a change of tactics...
Edgeworth: What of the item that serves to focus my turning, what those at the Archive insist on referring to as a "holy symbol"?
Edgeworth digs his badge out of his pocket to show off in his palm. "I'm willing to submit it to attempts to detect magic. It should be clear that there is no enchantment upon it, and it therefore is what it seems to be."
Edgeworth: The use of an unheard-of symbol ought to decisively give away the identity of someone whose status is already unusual to begin with!
David: A pointless gesture; any cleric of Aureon could conceal such an aura, as could many adepts.
Edgeworth grits his teeth. Blast, he's right! Such a possibility was in fact mentioned in the book describing domains!
Edgeworth: Is there nothing that can be done in such a case?
David: It is possible to attempt to overcome such concealment through the appropriate divination spell, but such methods are expensive and not always reliable. Further, a sufficiently powerful caster could attempt to dispel any magical effects on the item itself... I don't think we have anyone readily available to attempt such a thing, though.
Edgeworth repockets his badge. "Given that my alleged intent would be to infiltrate a society replete with spellcasters, however, wouldn't that make such deceit extraordinarily risky? I would have evidence on my person waiting to be revealed for what it is the moment anything appeared to be amiss!"
David: Probably, yes, but then you'd have to be willing to go to extremes to be convincing enough in other ways as well.
Edgeworth smirks cruelly. "Such as by constructing entire languages with no apparent relation to any others in known existence?"
David frowns somewhat.
David: That would be a significant undertaking, but it's not inconceivable that enough to make a good show of —
Tikra: Illyvalen speaks it now.
David seems flustered for a bit, before recovering somewhat and continuing. "Talented though she is, Illyvalen has not mastered every language in known existence. There are languages from other planes that —"
Tikra: Althea would recognize such influences.
Edgeworth spreads his arms, looking smug. "Furthermore, the portion of the language Illyvalen has learned is hardly all that exists. Althea can testify to its depth through her own admittedly imperfect tapping of my knowledge. Furthermore, I've written extensively in it and submitted these writings to the divinatory scrutiny of others; would words concocted simply to maintain the illusion of a full language not be revealed for the nonsense they are thereby?"
Edgeworth: To think that I'm actually using such things as arguments...
David: You are correct. I don't have an alternative explanation for your language that takes those elements into account.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. "I thought not. Is there anything more you wish to ask?"
David: ...not for the moment. I believe I would need some time before I could fully reassess which parts of your story are no longer questionable, given the circumstances...
Edgeworth bows. "Then I thank you for diverting some of your precious time towards such a reassuring exercise."
David nods slightly. "Of... course..."
Edgeworth begins to walk slowly towards the next aisle over from the one he arrived through.
After Edgeworth browses this library further, takes note of titles of interest, and learns from the even-more-miffed librarian that any law-related books would be found in a library building associated with the Aureon's Holt college, Edgeworth comes to the conclusion that it would be better just to return to Jorthem Hall.
By the time the prosecutor arrives there again, the class that was in session is over, but setup for the chess meet is still underway, a task that he offers assistance with. After that, however, Edgeworth finds himself in for something of a wait...
A bit over half of an hour passes uneventfully, but eventually Tikra enters the room, wearing the cloak Edgeworth saw her with yesterday.
Edgeworth bows to Tikra. "I apologize for delaying your work."
Edgeworth: I'm grateful for the testimony you provided despite such disruption.
Tikra nods slightly in acknowledgment before hanging the cloak up on a hook along the wall near the door. "It is of no consequence. You provided... an interesting exchange."
Tikra simply leans against a wall for the moment, looking over the empty room.
Edgeworth then half-frowns and glances at a window. "It did call to my attention just how little I know of this world and what magic makes possible, however."
Tikra: There is much knowledge of the arcane sciences to be found at the Library, and much of the divine at the Archive.
Edgeworth sighs and rubs his temple. "I've been availing myself of the latter, but one can only learn so much in a week and a half."
Edgeworth: As for the former, while apparently this is a great resource, I can't take the risk of remaining in Zilargo long enough to take appreciable advantage of it.
Tikra: You are here now. You must determine how best to use the time you have.
Edgeworth sighs. "I was rather looking forward to this. It isn't often that I can challenge worthwhile sapient opponents, to say nothing of the fact that this serves as an island of normalcy amidst a sea of delirium that threatens to drown me in its depths."
Tikra: Events such as this have their value. ...one which Illyvalen and Althea have both been encouraging me to prioritize more, lately...
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow. "Oh?"
Tikra looks toward the floor. "...I am not entirely comfortable interacting with most people. Particularly in situations which require much conversing, or which involve... risks of exposing vulnerability."
Edgeworth frowns in sympathy, seeming at a loss, then shakes his head. "There is little conversation necessary during a game of chess."
Tikra: There is competition, however, of a different sort than has typically been necessary to contend with in my experiences here. It took much coaching from Althea before I felt facing others in such a way would not be foolish...
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. "Where I'm from, chess is one of rather few universally recognized sports of the mind. There is much to be gained from its pursuit."
Edgeworth glances aside. "I merely am left to wonder, between my argument with your colleague earlier and your statement earlier in our current conversation, whether at the moment I have more to gain through further study."
Tikra: I have no guidance to offer on that matter. You have already expressed the nature of the value you find here. You must weigh your priorities accordingly.
Edgeworth: ...Today, there is further reason for me to remain here. I could further aid Illyvalen with her English while competing here. She seems... rather high-maintenance.
Tikra: She is enthusiastic. And sensitive. And... remarkably at peace with exposing her vulnerabilities to seemingly anyone... In some ways she seems to have an inner strength I could never hope to match...
Edgeworth peers at Tikra. I don't know that I would characterize the tendencies I've observed in her as "peace" or "strength"...
Edgeworth: I can think of a better example of such a person from my own world.
Edgeworth: She has endured far worse than Illyvalen seems to have, yet managed to retain a smile for the sake of others all the while and even find it in her heart to give freely to the undeserving.
Tikra: I do not presume to judge others' hardships...
Tikra hesitates for a few moments before adding, "...were it not for her own giving nature, however... I would not be here now."
Edgeworth: ...I could say the same about the one of whom I speak.
Edgeworth looks aside, frowning. "One of the things I've learned in my time here thus far... is that I owe her an apology."
Tikra nods. "...she pretends I owe her nothing, though that is not the Zil way. Perhaps there is some appropriate measure in their eyes of which she chooses not to speak, but it matters little; I could never feel it to be balanced..."
The pair is silent for a time; after a minute or so of this, Edgeworth begins to look uneasy and at a loss.
Eventually, various other people start to filter in and take up places at various tables. It doesn't take long for another familiar person to arrive.
Edgeworth nods to Illyvalen, albeit with an uneasy frown.
Illyvalen looks around and smiles brightly. "Hi Tikra! Hi, Mr. Edgeworth!"
Edgeworth is relieved at the change of mood. "Good afternoon, Illyvalen."
Tikra nods to Illyvalen.
Edgeworth: Shall we select a table? We could more easily practice English without being unduly disruptive if we're playing against each other, after all.
Illyvalen: All right. Do you want to join us, Tikra?
Tikra shakes her head. "I shall find an opponent shortly; I could use practice before things get serious."
Illyvalen nods. "Have fun!"
Edgeworth: She seems to have bounced back rather well over the course of the morning.
Edgeworth takes a seating mat before heading to one of the gnome-sized tables.
Edgeworth: Perhaps that capacity is why Tikra perceives her as strong...
Edgeworth: I encountered another of your colleagues from the research team earlier.
Illyvalen takes a seat at the selected table.
Edgeworth: Mr. Thorsten, more specifically. He was understandably rather suspicious of me. The ensuing argument brought some gaps in my understanding of this world to my attention.
Illyvalen: Oh. I think I remember back when Althea first mentioned you, both he and Berdmol thought it was probably some kind of deception...
Illyvalen advances a pawn.
Edgeworth moves a pawn forward himself, one a space closer to the board's edge. "My impression of him is that he's the sort of man who would concoct a scenario more absurd than my own before admitting defeat."
Illyvalen shrugs. "I don't know him all that well, he's only somewhat recently come here from Aundair for the research project."
Illyvalen: I think he kinda likes to argue about things anyway...
Edgeworth grins. "Then we share a common trait."
Edgeworth lifts his finger to his temple. "While Althea has explained Khorvaire's basic geography, I know little of what the rest of the continent is actually like."
Illyvalen shifts another piece. "I've never really travelled much; for a long time I wasn't really healthy enough to... Althea's told me a little about Sharn, but..."
Edgeworth frowns. "A pity, given your talents."
Illyvalen sighs. "I suppose so... still, a lot of different people come to Korranberg."
Edgeworth brings a knight into play with a nod. "I regret that I can't afford to remain here long enough to fully avail myself of all that Korranberg has to offer. Quite simply, I don't belong in this country at all."
Illyvalen: But if you hadn't been here, you wouldn't have found Althea and all...
Edgeworth: Need I remind you that she too is a foreign visitor?
Illyvalen: But she was here now, when you showed up...
Edgeworth rubs his temple. "Such a coincidence proves nothing."
Illyvalen: That doesn't make it meaningless...
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Then what significance do you ascribe to the fact that our chance encounter happened here?"
Illyvalen: It allowed us to meet, and Althea to guide you to the Foundation, and a lot of other things to come from that...
Edgeworth: None of which changes the fact that this is not a place where a criminal prosecutor can set down roots.
Illyvalen: Yeah, I know...
Illyvalen: But I'm still glad you were here at all.
Edgeworth blinks and frowns in puzzlement. "Given your appreciation of language, I would have been surprised if you weren't."
Edgeworth: Furthermore, I cannot deny that I've derived benefit from this particular convergence of circumstances.
Edgeworth glances aside uneasily, however.
Edgeworth turns his head away. "The potential exception lies within a subject we ought to avoid discussing further."
Illyvalen simply makes a move without further remark.
Edgeworth returns his attention to the board and continues to play for several moves in silence...
Edgeworth: ...Does your medical expertise extend to matters of mental health as well?
Edgeworth stares at the board awkwardly for a moment before speaking again. "Given that subjective experience is apparently afforded some degree of legitimacy in this world, how does one go about discerning it from simple delusion?"
Illyvalen: I'm... not sure I understand.
Edgeworth: Are you in need of any definitions?
Illyvalen: Are you talking about visions or divination or something?
Edgeworth: I understand the latter to generally be verifiable by others.
Edgeworth: As for the former, Althea's abilities have been shown to be in accord with reality.
Edgeworth repositions a bishop.
Illyvalen: I'm not sure what you're asking then...
Edgeworth turns his head aside. "I'm not comfortable broadcasting my concerns to an entire room."
Edgeworth: Particularly not in such a culture as this.
Illyvalen frowns. "Um... I don't see how you can ask me about something but not tell me what it is..."
Edgeworth looks back to Illyvalen, crossing his arms. "Are there no general principles?"
Illyvalen: Um... are you asking me to teach you to diagnose a mental illness?
Illyvalen seems pretty confused at this point.
Edgeworth: In a sense, though my specific concern is far more limited in scope.
Illyvalen: I... don't know that I can do that. Not if you're leaving soon, anyway. Althea has some knowledge, though. Maybe she could be of some help...
Edgeworth begins to look exasperated. "Did I not state that my concern is..."
Edgeworth sighs in frustration and shakes his head. "Perhaps it should be no concern of yours after all."
Illyvalen: Um, if you're talking about experiencing prayer... the Foundation would know better than anyone how to evaluate that...
Illyvalen: But if you hadn't really made contact, you wouldn't have gotten sick like that either...
Edgeworth: And yet, a single piece of evidence does not constitute a complete case.
Illyvalen: ...I think if you were suffering a mental illness that was affecting your spiritual perceptions, that'd make it a lot harder to make progress in spiritual training... I don't know for sure, though; no one really knows precisely how or why heretical clerics continue to function...
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. "I'm not comfortable with the concept of 'spiritual perceptions' to begin with, nor with their apparent and alleged nature."
Illyvalen: I don't see how that makes for evidence of delusion. ...unless you're suggesting clerics are generally mentally ill and divine magic responds to that illness...
Edgeworth looks away, grabbing his elbow. "...As you imply, there is nothing particularly supporting that viewpoint."
Edgeworth's tone is shaky, however...
Illyvalen shakes her head. "How would an organization like the Archival Foundation function if that were the case?"
Edgeworth: Given the progress they've made, certainly anyone reasonable would have shied away from directly exposing their fellow sapient beings to something with quite that great a cost by now.
Edgeworth: And yet...
Edgeworth: To be entirely honest, I'm not certain how they function to begin with, given the nature of some of the alleged evidence.
Illyvalen: ...because you see that evidence as stemming from delusion...?
Edgeworth: Rather, I cannot see how one is supposed to know whether it does or does not.
Illyvalen: ...isn't that backwards, though?
Edgeworth releases his elbow and looks to Illyvalen in bewilderment, though it's still tinged with unease. "What do you mean?"
Illyvalen: Isn't the fact that the Archival Foundation functions as a diverse research organization and obtains useful results evidence that they're not dealing in the impressions of the mentally ill?
Edgeworth rubs his temple in irritation. "Why are you simply repeating your earlier argument in greater detail?"
Edgeworth: Clearly the organization functions in some way. I merely fail to understand the logistics of such a thing!
Illyvalen: ...I would say that the Foundation is who you would need to ask, but after yesterday...
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "I did admit my error and offer further apologies."
Illyvalen: ...I don't think asking them how they cope with being delusional would be a good idea unless you want to make them mad again, though...
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! That isn't the question currently under debate at all, and I fail to understand why you continue to return to it!
Illyvalen cringes. "I don't even know what you're asking anymore!"
Edgeworth: The matter which is unclear is how one evaluates and works with so-called "evidence" that's entirely subjective, and how one determines the difference between genuine experience and delusion! I fail to understand how one is supposed to objectively verify such things!
Edgeworth's shouting draws a growing number of stares from around the room, particularly once he switches to Common in his frustration.
Illyvalen: I-I— I don't— I don't...
Edgeworth's eyes widen as he draws back fearfully with gritted teeth. "W-wait, don't — i-it was never my intention to —"
Unfortunately, Edgeworth's awareness of Illyvalen's emotional volatility comes too late; even as he stammers, the young gnome bursts into tears, drawing even more attention from others in the room.
Edgeworth gapes in horror, choking on any more sentence fragments he might have stammered.
"What did you do to her?!" "Wait a minute, what happened?!" "Who do you think you are, shouting at someone like that?!" "Damn it, you broke my concentration!"
Tikra shows up at the table before the commotion can get much worse, offering an arm to Illyvalen. "The room next door is vacant. We should withdraw for now."
Edgeworth simply stares with a pale face, looking for all the world as though he'd caused blood to flow instead of tears.
Illyvalen grabs hold of Tikra's arm and after a moment gathers herself enough to get out of her seat.
Tikra starts leading Illyvalen toward the door. "If you wish to resolve matters, follow. I do not believe she would be disturbed further by your presence."
Edgeworth blinks, then glances around awkwardly even as he pulls out from the table. "Er... um, understood."
The three make their way to an unused classroom a little further down the hall.
Edgeworth walks with clenched teeth, ashamed and embarrassed...
Illyvalen maintains her grip on Tikra's arm, and as they enter the room and sit down near an empty corner, she pulls the kobold into a full-fledged hug, her sobs having lessened at least.
Tikra returns the hug, if somewhat awkwardly.
Edgeworth closes the door behind him, then looks at the hug awkwardly before turning aside and looking away.
Tikra looks up at Edgeworth. "She will recover shortly."
Edgeworth doesn't turn back to face the two. "Then I'll, um, allow you time."
Tikra: ...I will not pry unduly, but it would likely be of some use in resolving matters to know the nature of... the matter of contention...
Edgeworth: She was having a great deal of difficulty understanding a question I was asking; indeed, in time she grew fixated on a particular misinterpretation thereof.
Edgeworth: As a result, the conversation was growing increasingly counterproductive, hence my vexation.
The relatively awkward situation persists for several more minutes before Illyvalen finally calms down. Eventually, once Illyvalen is confident she can keep her voice steady, she speaks up again, albeit somewhat quietly.
Illyvalen: I... I'm sorry... I... don't think I can answer your question...
Illyvalen: ...and I didn't want to disrupt the chess meet, I know it's important for both of you... Sorry for being such a burden...
Edgeworth: My own poor judgment in asking you something of that nature must not go ignored.
Edgeworth grabs his elbow, still looking away.
Tikra shakes her head. "You need not apologize for your distress, nor for needing support."
Edgeworth shakes his head. "I shouldn't have allowed myself to display such weakness!"
Tikra looks over in Edgeworth's direction. "It is never an easy or comfortable thing, but there are circumstances where admitting to weakness may be necessary."
Edgeworth clenches his teeth.
Illyvalen: ...you... um... weren't displaying it very obviously...
Tikra: ...My own advice would be to determine whether there is someone you can trust sufficiently to... discuss such concerns openly. Not all such burdens can be carried alone.
Edgeworth: I refuse to accept that these are my limits!
Tikra: ...to what limitations do you refer?
Edgeworth winces, as though even saying that was just shown to be uncomfortably revealing.
Tikra speaks further after a few moments. "...Proceed or not as you think best. I am willing to listen, should there be a need. I suspect the same would be true of Althea."
Edgeworth forces his next sentences out slowly and reluctantly: "...Suffice it to say that as things stand, I'm... underqualified for the... task before me. Furthermore, I have far too little basis from which to deduce how to overcome that!"
Illyvalen: If you're talking about what I think you are... the Foundation is probably the best place for guidance on that...
Tikra: When one is faced with a struggle that exceeds one's own strength... it is important to recognize the other sources of support one has...
Edgeworth glowers at the wall. "It's imperative that I use my own strength to overcome this. I merely lack a sufficient basis from which to work."
Illyvalen: ...Are you sure you're not just being impatient again...?
Edgeworth finally turns his head towards the pair, glowering with disapproval. "This matter has already fed far too greatly into emotions best kept subdued! I cannot allow myself to be overcome by anything that might stand in the way of my pursuit of the truth!"
Illyvalen eeps and clings tightly to Tikra.
Edgeworth's glare breaks immediately as he turns and takes a half-step back. "Er, um, my apologies..."
Tikra: Do you seek guidance to complete a task, or escape from fears and doubts?
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Doubt is necessary; fear is not."
Edgeworth: What will banish that fear is an understanding of both how to progress from doubt to knowledge within this context...
Edgeworth glances away uneasily. "...and how, in some cases, to hold fast to one's ability to doubt at all."
Edgeworth's brow furrows. "I work with evidence and testimony, not... this."
Illyvalen: Mister Edgeworth... I don't think you're in danger of losing yourself in this new experience, however scary it seems... And Althea and Dil are trying to help you... You probably just need to give yourself time...
Edgeworth looks back to Illyvalen expectantly. "For what reason do you believe there to be no appreciable risk?"
Illyvalen: ...As far as I know none of what's happened recently is outside the normal experience of a cleric at your stage of development, aside from the pace...
Illyvalen: And if you were in a delusional mental state, I don't think you could have argued very effectively...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "While it is true that my argument with Mr. Thorsten earlier reassured me that several vital faculties of mine that already existed remain intact, that says nothing about the degree to which I can trust or doubt those that are new — and false premises will inevitably lead one to false conclusions."
Illyvalen: Are you talking about delusion or about mistrusting senses...?
Edgeworth: ...Both are concerns.
Edgeworth: I have, at times, experienced impressions that come intertwined with... unfounded certainty.
Illyvalen: ...and do you feel that certainty makes them beyond question?
Edgeworth: At times, it can complicate my ability to keep in mind that they aren't.
Illyvalen: It's usually very hard for someone to realize they're delusional, I think; their belief in their delusions is usually so strong they simply can't question them...
Edgeworth turns his head aside and grabs his elbow. "How, then, am I to be certain that I won't deteriorate to such a point before I learn to properly evaluate such things?!"
Illyvalen: Have the convictions been getting stronger?
Edgeworth lifts his finger to his temple as he considers this.
Edgeworth: Only one has been notably stronger than the rest, yet I've been able to place even that one into context as the mere symbol and functional conceit it is.
Illyvalen: Then it doesn't sound like you're in any kind of deteriorating condition... If I had to guess, the strength of the conviction is probably a measure of how much support it has from your divinatory capabilities. Both Truth and Knowledge domains support that kind of thing, I think...
Edgeworth appears calmer. "Indeed they do."
Illyvalen: You should probably ask Althea or Dil what they think, but it's probably something like that.
Edgeworth: As it happens, Althea was the one to tell me of this connection. ...In fact, these assertions spurred the first stirrings of this... enhanced intuition.
Illyvalen: That makes sense; domain-related things tend to come easiest to new clerics.
Edgeworth nods, then stares at Illyvalen with a mix of gratitude and uncertainty.
Illyvalen: Does that help?
Edgeworth nods. "Indeed." He then hesitates, seemingly searching for the right words.
Illyvalen looks back toward Tikra. "Thanks. I'm okay now. I think he probably will be too..." She releases Tikra from the hug and stands.
Tikra nods and stands herself.
Edgeworth: ...Er... shall we return to continue our game?
Illyvalen: Yeah, that's probably a good idea.
Edgeworth heads for the door to the hall and opens it. Thus is it shown that fear can blind oneself even to one's own successes.
Edgeworth shakes his head as he enters the hall. That being said, confirmation that I'm entirely capable of objectively evaluating those... perceptions that don't overwhelm me only addresses part of the problem.
Edgeworth smirks as he arrives at the door back into the chess meet. With that in place, however, a glimmer of hope remains for the rest.
After spending the rest of the afternoon and much of the evening at the chess meet, Edgeworth reluctantly leaves in order to ensure that he'll be up before dawn the next morning.
The next thing the prosecutor is aware of, however, is a strange vista: he's now standing on an island primarily comprised of a rocky beach, though with soil and trees in the center. He himself isn't in his usual suit, but is fittingly attired only in a pair of bright red swimming trunks. In the distance, figures seem to be slithering atop the ocean. Before he has much time to reflect on the contents of this dream, however, the ocean begins to rise, quickly beginning to swallow the island...
Edgeworth's eyes widen as he quickly retreats for the island's center.
Edgeworth is once again aware of a separate sense of analytical curiosity regarding the situation, somewhat detached, but also seeming mildly disturbed on a couple of different levels.
Edgeworth quickly looks the trees over, trying to determine which is most climbable. This dream seems to trouble you more than the last.
Althea: It's becoming more difficult to believe I am witnessing seemingly every dream you have here simply because of some kind of situational necessity... Moreover, if I am merely a witness, why should you be aware of how I'm feeling...?
Edgeworth chooses a tree with a particularly leafy top and attempts to begin climbing, but only manages to fall off while a few feet up and land roughly.
Edgeworth climbs to his feet, wincing but only a little bit worse for the wear.
Althea: Ow... I think you should be a little more careful in your decisions.
Edgeworth stares out at the encroaching water. You felt my pain as well?
By now, the beach is mostly gone...
Althea: I'm not entirely sure if I 'felt' it per se or was merely intimately aware of it to the point of reacting spontaneously... Not sure the distinction really matters either...
Althea: ...seems like this really is the best option as far as something to try and climb, though...
Althea: I don't think there's much help I can offer at this point.
Edgeworth turns back to the tree and attempts to climb it once more. Unfortunately, I'm not the most athletic of men.
Althea: I'm not much good at that either, even if I could somehow climb in your stead.
Edgeworth struggles to even reach the first limb, even as the water begins to encroach on the soil...
Althea: I... think something's up there.
Edgeworth looks up. I fail to see anything amiss...
Althea: ...we've got company.
Edgeworth pales at the transmitted gist even as the water finally reaches his feet, then glowers. Then I suppose there's no other choice...
Edgeworth looks over his shoulder at the rising ocean uneasily.
Althea: What precisely is it about the water...?
Edgeworth frowns. I'm... not entirely certain, save that I know I cannot swim forever and indeed may drown.
The treetop suddenly rustles far more audibly, attracting the prosecutor's wide-eyed attention.
Edgeworth grits his teeth, shakes his head, then begins a brisk walk into the ocean before breaking into a swim above the former beach.
Suddenly, a tsucora drops down from the tree Edgeworth was trying to climb before and onto the surface of the water. With a hiss, it begins pursuit!
Edgeworth begins swimming faster in his panic.
Althea: They'll be able to follow you as long as you stay on the surface. You may have no other escape than to submerge and hope your different form here isn't just for show...
Edgeworth: Different form?! What are you talking about?!
Althea: You didn't notice? ...no, I suppose I'd have been able to tell if you did.
Althea: Your neck.
Edgeworth glances over his shoulder while gasping for breath between strokes, noting his pursuer's superior speed. As you may have noticed, I don't have the luxury of time for a thorough self-examination!
Althea: If I'm not mistaken, you seem to have a pair of organs on your neck that are typically found in many common forms of aquatic life —
Edgeworth appears impatient. I know what gills are, Althea!
Althea: I presume you know what they're used for, then.
Unfortunately — or, then again, perhaps fortunately — the distraction of the conversation is enough to allow a wave to throw him off, causing him to begin to sink even as the quori closes enough to attempt a sting. Seawater irritates the prosecutor's eyes, causing him to squeeze them shut in self-defense.
Within a second of Edgeworth becoming fully submerged, however, the world of the dream suddenly lurches in a deeply unnatural way. Suddenly, the depths of the ocean are above him and the pull of gravity is towards the surface, even though the water itself and the tsucora slithering on its surface seem to be obeying the previous rules...
Edgeworth struggles to maintain his equilibrium and not fall to the surface in the wake of the shift, barely containing the urge to cry out.
Althea: ...that's... disconcerting...
Though Edgeworth doesn't consciously send it or put it into words, the seer can make out the emotions that would underlie a shudder even as the prosecutor struggles with his bearings. Unfortunately, it's all he can do just to remain stationary and out of the reach of the stinger plunging into the water after him.
Edgeworth: Wh-what the hell...?!
Althea: Gravitational shifts like that aren't that unheard of in some planes; in non-dream portions of Dal Quor individuals direct their own gravity, and I think I might have heard of there being places in Lammania or Thelanis where the gravity changes...
Edgeworth seems too disturbed by and busy struggling with his circumstances to be paying much attention to Althea's comparisons.
After several more seconds of this, Edgeworth's frantic paddling slows as panic begins to give way to puzzlement...
Edgeworth: My breath...
Edgeworth swims upward, deeper into the water, with his eyes still firmly shut. Once comfortably out of reach of the surface, he begins feeling his neck with one hand...
Edgeworth: ...It seems you were correct.
Althea: I wasn't sure whether your world had any creatures with both lungs and gills, given what you've mentioned before about the lack of certain kinds of diversity there.
Edgeworth: I'm not familiar with the details, though do know that amphibious creatures exist.
Althea: Again, keep in mind I can't assume the commonality of many forms of knowledge between us.
Edgeworth: Indeed — many beings known here are either fictional or unheard of where I'm from.
Edgeworth grits his teeth in frustration. A pity my eyes apparently aren't also so conveniently adapted to the scenario.
Althea: So I am aware... Not much to be done about that.
Althea: At least, not unless you have a somewhat more metaphysical adaptation that could serve in mundane vision's stead.
Edgeworth sighs out a bubble even as he slowly climbs deeper into the ocean. Even if that were the case, how would I determine such a thing?
Althea: I'm not entirely sure; I've heard of a 'third eye' in both seer lore and obscure planar magical tradition, but I don't have much detail.
Edgeworth's lips quirk in annoyance before an uncomfortable resignation sets in.
Althea: As I recall, the third eye is supposedly where clairvoyant senses originate, though given the nature of psionics it's difficult to say whether it's a literal sensory organ or merely some kind of conceptual construct. The obvious difficulty being determining how that would relate to a divine caster and their differing experience.
Althea: You have already experienced some forms of perception beyond those of your normal senses, so perhaps that can be some sort of guide.
Edgeworth: If no other choice remains, then at the very least I have been reassured of my ability to regard such perceptions coldly despite the accompanying impulse to do otherwise.
Althea: Another choice probably does remain...
Althea: I think you should consider the matter carefully; there is a lot you're capable of, and you're going through a lot of growth right now. I can't judge your limits well enough to advise you whether you should move forward on something like this or hold back...
Edgeworth pauses in his slow upward swim long enough to rub his temple. This dreamscape is far from the only thing in my life that's been turned upside-down since my arrival.
Althea: Ultimately, it has to be your choice whether to walk down a path that will see you more fully realizing divinatory capabilities, with the potential consequences that that may entail...
Edgeworth shivers a bit as he makes another upward stroke.
Althea: As for short term, I may be able to aid you, if incompletely; my own vision is not impaired by the state of your eyes...
Althea: I can say you seem to be out of any immediate danger. The tsucora pursuing you remains on the nearby surface, but cannot follow any further. There may be others in the distance, but they too are bound to the surface.
Althea: I will say this: I have the distinct impression that you are more resilient than you may give yourself credit for being; if you do walk this path, I do believe you can weather it, even should it be extremely trying. Even so, however, I cannot truly know the full consequences myself...
Edgeworth: You seem rather convinced that an action taken in a dream will necessarily impact reality. Granted, given the events of the past week and a half, I... cannot so readily discount that as a possibility.
Edgeworth holds his head in one hand. What has become of my life? What have I become?...
Althea: Once again, it is a question of the symbolic significance. It's less a question of direct consequences, and more that opening yourself up to this is the same act whether it takes place in a dream or while awake.
Althea: It's less about the specifics and more about the choice you're making.
Althea: Whether to embrace your newfound strengths or keep them at arm's length...
Edgeworth's features harden. A fire may provide light by which to see and heat by which to effect change, but to embrace it would be to immolate oneself.
Edgeworth: And yet... it is clear that I cannot successfully... commune with the truth if I cannot grow. I can scarcely endure what I've naturally restricted myself to in self-defense!
Althea: I cannot say what is the proper pace for your development. Nevertheless, it may be significant that this circumstance has presented itself now...
Edgeworth: Must there be no middle path?! I cannot accept that my only options are to stagnate or to risk my own integrity!
Althea: It is possible that the extremes invoked are something of a false choice, similar to the competing truths of the inevitable and the undead from an earlier dream...
Edgeworth: Given past events, I can envision one possible compromise. Perhaps it would be within my capabilities to evaluate the veracity of your guidance even as you give it. Wi can.
Althea: True... in that case, do you want me to actively test it by arbitrarily varying the veracity of said...?
Edgeworth: That would likely exercise it well, yes. ...It's strange; I have the most peculiar feeling of having guessed one of my potentials correctly.
Althea: So I heard. Truth domain helps with that.
Edgeworth looks puzzled. "Heard"?
Althea: Perceived via whatever the nature of our mental link; You confirmed to yourself that you were thus capable.
Edgeworth shakes his head after a moment. Anyway, shall we begin?
Althea: If there's a bottom to this ocean, the light doesn't reach it. There's not much land around, just the island you were on originally and another smaller one just beyond it.
Edgeworth 'listens' intently until... Objection.
Edgeworth frowns. You seem to have begun immediately.
Edgeworth lifts his finger to his temple, then after a moment he smirks. Was it the reference to a second island which was false?
Althea: I don't see any other forms of life below the surface.
Edgeworth: Can this truly be referred to as being "below" the surface under the circumstances?
Althea: Arguments can be made either way. Certainly the previous norms still apply to the quori on the surface.
Althea: In a sense both sides are 'above' the surface, so I suppose I should seek alternative language.
Edgeworth pauses in his slow swimming to rub his forehead. I hope that absurdity to this degree remains confined to dreams.
Althea: You might want to avoid manifest zones to Thelanis, then.
Edgeworth: You've already mentoned this "Thelanis" twice tonight. Can you elaborate?
Althea: Thelanis, the Faerie Court. It's the realm from which the fey originate, and takes on the form of a great forest of otherworldly beauty.
Althea: The relationship of time between Thelanis and the material plane is a bit unusual. Time passes about seven times faster in the material plane than in Thelanis, but effects such as aging are amplified by the transition back to the material plane...
Edgeworth: That alone makes it sound rather dangerous.
Althea: The other defining feature is a tendency toward arbitrarity; any given place in Thelanis may function according to its own rules, or the rules of particular fey who control it.
Edgeworth: Hence your earlier advice.
Althea: And yes, staying in Thelanis for any significant length of time is ill-advised unless you plan to remain indefinitely.
Althea: The plane's energies are aligned with chaos and antithetical to law.
Edgeworth glowers suddenly as best he can with his eyes closed. Objection.
Edgeworth: If not for the circumstances, I likely would have believed that last statement. I'm left to wonder if this exercise is simpler under our current circumstances than it otherwise would be.
Althea: Probably. It's difficult to know whether I'm providing additional clues given the somewhat intimate nature of the current connection, or whether your abilities are simply stronger in this context, or both. It'll take more time and growth for such methods to become more fully reliable in normal circumstances.
Edgeworth grimaces. Then perhaps this was a waste of time after all.
Althea: I doubt it. It's still giving you a better sense of what the experience is like.
Edgeworth: Hmph. Point taken, though I question your phrasing thereof.
Edgeworth: As far as I'm aware, this is a new experience.
Althea: Really? I thought I observed signs of it earlier...
Edgeworth: When was this?
Althea: When you... er... interrogated me regarding the nightmare you witnessed.
Edgeworth hmphs. I'd thought that was simply my mind playing tricks on me in my fatigue. Do you have reason to believe otherwise?
Althea: While you normally wouldn't be able to do that at this stage of your development, you've already demonstrated that you're capable of pushing your limits. I suspect you may have been trying a little too hard to sense how trustworthy my words were...
Edgeworth's brow furrows. It was a matter of the utmost importance.
Edgeworth is aware that something in his manner on the subject disturbs Althea somewhat.
Edgeworth eases off somewhat at that impression, though looks aloof. Is there a problem with my assertion?
Althea: In pragmatic terms, it's worth noting that whenever certain types of magic might be in play, avoiding subjects is typically safer than lying about them; a detectable untruth can speak volumes...
Edgeworth: One would imagine.
Althea: Furthermore... you yourself spoke of law not being perfect. Had I admitted a crime committed in the pursuit of what I felt was the greater good, would you feel obligated to find an authority to report me to? Do you have enough of a grasp of our law to surmise whether I'd then face justice or the persecution of a corrupt system?
There's some strong emotional conflict behind this question... Is she hiding some kind of guilt? Or has she perhaps grappled with this issue herself and failed to reach a satisfactory answer?
Edgeworth quickly grows resolute. Certainly, it would be foolhardy to take action without further information and evidence. Furthermore, I wouldn't wish Zilargo's brand of so-called "justice" on anyone!
Edgeworth: That being said, the law isn't to be cast aside on a whim — how, then, would it serve its purpose?!
Althea: Then I suppose you do at least begin to understand the difficulties...
Edgeworth: I've cast aside youthful folly. Wyu've remembered justice.
Althea: That was you trying to break out of the mausoleum...
Edgeworth's eyebrows raise as he recoils at that observation, then he takes on a grim expression. So you've realized.
Edgeworth: Certainly, the evidence in your possession was growing overwhelming.
Althea: It's not my place to judge your sins, particularly when I have my own questions about the meaning of justice to wrestle with... the extremity of the imagery surrounding your own impressions on the matter is striking, however.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. Perhaps to you.
Edgeworth: In any case, that is only one matter which troubles me. Another which has yet to be addressed is the seeming contradiction I must face come dawn.
Althea: I don't know how much help I can be regarding that matter; you've contacted the divine already, so quite frankly you understand the experience better than I do at this point; none of my knowledge comes from experience, nor does any of that knowledge include mappings to the symbolism of your faith...
Edgeworth glances aside disdainfully. As you may recall, that so-called "symbolism" is oriented toward the performance of a mundane job, not drawing magical spells from...
Edgeworth shakes his head, not being able to easily put the concept in only a few words.
Althea: ...typically a cleric would be reaching out to that... essence for guidance on the next steps... Even the otherwise impersonal Silver Flame has a human aspect that can speak as its Voice when a personal connection is required... That you have no conception connected with it on which a personal level of connection is possible may complicate this stage for you...
Edgeworth treads water briefly, caught in a mix of irritation, intimidation, mild offense, and frustration. These shouldn't be my limits! Is there nothing left to be deduced?! Am I really so weak that I can't endure enough to properly investigate on my own?! It isn't even as though I expect to bear the burden of the whole of the truth!
Althea: ...I don't know. The path you need to walk is not necessarily like that of other clerics, even if it shares many of the same features. That's part of why both Dil and I have had a difficult time advising you throughout this process.
Edgeworth takes a moment to attempt to recontain his emotions, even as he continues his upward swim.
Althea: Moreover, you've only been in contact with it twice thus far. Isn't it a bit early to be drawing conclusions about what your limits are?
Edgeworth looks dour and impatient. The first time, I experienced all of it at once in an instant that I'm amazed didn't shatter my mind entirely. The second time, it was a matter both maddeningly finite and arduous to endure for long.
Althea: It gets easier. That's all I think I can really say...
Althea: ...though I wonder, given the situation, if perhaps in a way you need to reach out to yourself for guidance...
Edgeworth seems uncertain and conflicted.
Althea: Your intuition is likely a more reliable source on what you need to do next than anyone else can be right now.
Althea: You aren't necessarily asking it for your answers... just to show you how to find your answers...
Edgeworth: Even if I could trust such a... resource, it runs contrary to my strengths.
Althea: Even so, it may prove to be what is necessary... Particularly if you truly believe your efforts are stagnating...
Edgeworth: ...I see no path to the truth that doesn't involve a change of methodology. To continue as I did last dawn would constitute not merely searching for a needle in a haystack, but doing so in one the size of a continent... while allergic to hay.
Edgeworth turns his head aside.
Edgeworth: ...And yet... Wyu can judge.
Edgeworth's upward stroke falters briefly, as though he were startled by something.
Edgeworth shakes his head, then lifts his finger to his temple... It is true that Illyvalen pointed out to me that I can evaluate such things...
Edgeworth grins. Perhaps such a change in methods need not entail entirely abandoning my strengths. Wi throw myrselv at the mercy of the court.
Althea doesn't comment, but seems amused.
Edgeworth takes on a disdainful look. And just what do you find so amusing, Althea?
Althea: Just the unique nature of your idiosyncrasies. At any rate, it sounds like you're ready.
Edgeworth smirks confidently. Indeed.
Edgeworth's awakening from this dream is sudden, though he doesn't do much more than gasp and roll over.
Edgeworth: ...That dream was incredibly surreal.
Edgeworth shakes his head. Can I really take its events seriously on any level?
Edgeworth sits up. Regardless of whether I can or cannot, the methodology proposed for this coming dawn may well be the best chance I have...
Edgeworth looks down at his lap. Provided, that is, that I am in fact worthy of trust.
Edgeworth closes his eyes and lies back down. Given yesterday's events, I should rest until room service arrives to wake me.
After a brief nap, Edgeworth is woken up by an unmarked Ghallanda halfling. After going through a bit of basic self-maintenance, the prosecutor once more enters the Archive, clearly deep in thought.
Dil is currently in the process of what appears at first glance to simply be writing without a pen. On closer inspection, however, the movements of his fingers are too repetitive to match any meaningful writing.
Edgeworth approaches and takes a closer look. Is this the "Amanuensis" spell he mentioned before? For that matter, is that not my writing from the day before last?
Dil looks up from and pauses in his effort. "Oh, good morning. I think I'm going to need to take up Althea's offer of help with translating this — plus people may want to magically read the original anyway — if you're wondering why I'm doing this."
Edgeworth: Actually, seeing this spell in action raises questions given that the duplicates appear to be in my own handwriting. Specifically, is there any way to determine the difference between an original copy and a duplicate other than to detect any residual energy? After all, there are limits to the spells that can do such things.
Dil shrugs and returns to his work. "Belgiwig's probably the best person to ask that, or you may find out once you start studying law."
Dil: All I know is that there is a difference experts can detect.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Hrm..."
Dil completes a copy and sets it atop two others. "The blankets are already laid out in case you faint again."
Edgeworth nods, then heads for the stairs down...
After having a glass of water in the break room, Edgeworth takes his place in the fourth floor again...
Edgeworth: It seems that once more, simultaneous trust and doubt has become necessary.
Edgeworth smirks. I would imagine that, as Althea implied, this is where my path diverges from that of the typical cleric, if only by a hair.
Edgeworth grins smugly. After all, the value of doubt is apparently a relatively new concept in this particular field.
Edgeworth looks to the wall with a determined glare. It's time to determine what is truly being enhanced within me — and given the dangers of this path, that time will recur on a daily basis.
Edgeworth smirks. I suppose that dawn is therefore "the moment of truth" in yet another way.
Edgeworth calms himself over the course of a couple of minutes, then his eyes close...
As before, once light appears on the horizon, Edgeworth's eyes twitch lightly as though he were dreaming...
Edgeworth soon begins to mumble under his breath in a monotone, seemingly unaware of his own words...
Edgeworth: ...for what reason was this arrangement accepted?...
Edgeworth: ...if that's the case, then why delay?...
Edgeworth: ...is the need not obvious?...
Edgeworth: ...yes, glaringly so. Is the intended implication...?
Edgeworth: ...then it's time to seize the moment, that all these needs can begin to be met...
Edgeworth suddenly breathes in sharply, then his breathing grows heavier and the motions of his eyes grow more pronounced.
Across Korranberg, Althea suddenly has the sensation of at once standing in and being a cold, clarifying light, bright enough it seems it should blind, and yet it doesn't. Small comets of many other kinds of light shoot past from ahead and behind, while larger ones are held at bay.
Time is complete in this vision, making it impossible to discern exactly how long it takes, but eventually two of the smaller comets allowed to pass through the area as well as one of the larger ones shift into a decaying orbit about "her"...
Finally, the comets converge on and seemingly enter "her"... and yet not; there is a sense of the comets having transformed into dams at the edges of the soul, holding back floods of energy from ineffable directions.
Illyvalen: Um, Althea...?
The library where the research team meets is not very busy this early in the day, but a number of the members of said team have already gathered there, talking a little of various matters while awaiting the rest of the group. Given the somewhat loose nature of the discussion, it's a few moments before Althea's silence is noticed enough for people to begin to take notice of her blank, unfocused expression.
David looks over at the halfling. "Er... is she all right?"
Tikra: I believe she may be having a vision.
David: Hmmm. Does this happen often?
Tikra: So it would seem.
Illyvalen: What's going on, Althea? Can you hear me?
Althea responds emotionlessly, her expression still blank. "The prosecution is ready."
Tikra: ...that's 'his' language, isn't it?
Illyvalen: Um, yeah... she said something like 'The prosecution is ready.'
David: Intriguing... Should one of us be acting as the defense, then?
Tikra: I do not think it wise to play games with something like this.
David: Who stands accused?
Althea: Falsehood, ignorance, and injustice.
Illyvalen repeats in Gnomish.
David: Who would stand in defense of such shady concepts, I wonder?
David: Is the defense ready?
Althea: The defense is ignorant of its status as such.
David considers this response as Illyvalen relates it. "So ignorance represents itself, then?"
David: And who presides over such a grand trial?
Althea: Infinite truth.
David: Certainly this all seems very much in line with the claims that have been put forward thus far...
Tikra shakes her head but doesn't comment.
Illyvalen: Is... Althea okay?
Althea: The witness in question is currently occupied in her role.
Tikra: How frequently is she to be called to that role?
Althea: Regularly throughout her life. This will not and has not changed.
Illyvalen: This feels kind of creepy...
David: Did the prosecution call this witness?
Althea: Yes. The prosecution calls witnesses autonomously.
David: That seems somewhat disturbing...
David: What would you have this witness establish?
Althea blinks. "What would I what...?" She puts a hand to her forehead, disoriented.
Tikra: Are you back with us, seer?
Althea looks toward Tikra, then the other team members. "Sorry about that. I think our mysterious cleric made some progress on coming to terms with... his connection to the divine."
David: So it appeared...
Illyvalen: Are you okay? That was... kinda scary...
Althea looks to Illyvalen. "Just a little lightheaded. Why, what happened?"
David: It seems you were called as a witness for the prosecution.
Althea: That's one way of putting it, certainly, but I don't... wait...
Althea: ...you mean I was speaking for him?
Tikra: Something of that nature...
Althea shakes her head. "For my part I'm not sure how readily I can describe what I witnessed. I should probably focus on putting those impressions to paper before discussing anything else..."
Tikra nods. "We should discuss the testimony you provided once you are finished. It may speak to your concerns."
Althea nods slowly, before taking out writing materials and beginning the process of recording her vision.
Before much longer, Edgeworth comes out of his trance with a haunted expression.
Edgeworth: That was...
Edgeworth shakes his head. I highly doubt an experience of that nature can be taken at face value, however profound the emotional content might be.
Edgeworth raises a finger to his temple. Is there anything I can deduce about what, if anything, really took place just now?
Edgeworth looks down at himself while moving his hand halfway under his cravat to cover his heart. One sensation seems to be lingering — I still feel as though barely-contained power is pressing against the outskirts of my being...
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. I've been here too long — that almost sounded sensible.
Edgeworth lapses into thought once more. Aside from that, this was easily the second most intense experience I've had in this pursuit. That's far from guaranteed to be relevant, but the most intense one was of importance, so neither should it be so easily dismissed.
Edgeworth: What occurred was a strain to endure, yet I had the impression that my endurance — along with everything else about me — was enhanced during that... time.
Edgeworth: It does make logical sense that such would be necessary for me to successfully weather something so much stronger than what I failed to yesterday... provided, at least, that my perceptions can be trusted at all on this matter.
Edgeworth taps his temple and grins. Perhaps this is the time to discuss matters with Dil.
Edgeworth heads up to the second floor, detours for half a small glass of water, then approaches the table where Dil is. The Traveler's vassal seems to be taking an inventory of various inks at the moment.
Edgeworth: Pardon me.
Dil looks up and grins. "Well, good to see you're okay."
Edgeworth glances aside awkwardly. "Er... I believe I require your expert testimony before I can be certain of that."
Dil raises an eyebrow. "Before I do that, I'd like you to do two things first."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Oh?"
Dil: First, mentally review the meanings you've ascribed to various spells so far.
Edgeworth taps his finger. "To what end?"
Dil shrugs. "Just a test."
Edgeworth: ...Very well.
Edgeworth unfolds his arms and lapses into thought for a moment...
Edgeworth looks startled for a moment. Did one of those lingering impressions just... react?
Edgeworth returns to his contemplation with a more serious look...
Edgeworth ultimately looks back to Dil with wider eyes.
Dil: As for the second thing... if I'm right, you have something important to write down in your own words now. Right?
Edgeworth looks resolute. "The evidence isn't decisive yet, but I certainly see the logic in recording my own statement first."
Dil: The mundane inks are in the usual place; it's the magically-active ones I'm taking an inventory of.
Over the course of the next hour and a half, Edgeworth writes about his latest subjective experience.
Edgeworth fans the latest page once he finishes, then reorders the pages and heads over to Dil, who has fetched the helmet in the meantime.
Dil accepts the papers once Edgeworth offers them. "Done already?"
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Obviously."
Dil half-frowns at that reaction, then shrugs it off and begins to look Edgeworth's writing over...
Dil frowns early in. "The dream thing happened again?"
Edgeworth: Apparently so, though I wish to verify the point with Althea herself before drawing conclusions given the unusual surreality of the dream in question.
Dil hmms and continues reading...
Dil smirks eventually.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. I suppose he never imagined he'd see the day that a lawyer would cross-examine himself...
Dil looks up with a hint of sympathy. "About your concerns... I've heard stranger from perfectly sane people. As long as this kind of perspective doesn't invade your usual consciousness outside of spells and the like, you shouldn't worry about it."
Edgeworth glares at Dil. "Spells can alter one's awareness so drastically?"
Dil nods. "You might remember reading about the enchantment school and certain subschools of illusion, but even attempts to divine the future tend to be unique to the caster."
Edgeworth's glare hardens. "And no other divinatory spells?"
Dil winces. "You don't normally treat your witnesses this way, do you?"
Edgeworth's glare breaks with a frown. "My apologies."
Dil sighs in relief. "Thank you. Anyway, the only other kind of divination I know of that can manifest in strange ways are certain extremely powerful, open-ended ones. Most others don't take significantly different forms."
Edgeworth: I suppose I'll have to do more research to learn which divinations are more reliable. It sounds as though the most peculiar ones are of sorts unlikely to appear in my work anyway.
Dil returns to reading...
Dil raises an eyebrow, rereads a part, then nods with a grin before continuing.
Edgeworth simply continues to wait...
Dil smiles as he reaches the end, then looks up at the prosecutor.
Dil: I'm surprised at just how you did it, but it sounds to me like you've finally had complete success.
Dil: Those lingering feelings you were having a hard time describing, that were reacting to certain meanings? Those sound like prepared divine spells to me.
Edgeworth's eyes light up even as he smirks. So he does, in fact, share my suspicions.
Edgeworth: Then I see but one way to prove this theory once and for all — I must attempt to cast one of them.
Dil looks thoughtful. "About that... there are three ways we could approach it. You already know most of what you need to in order to try, just not how it all fits together. I could tell you as much as I can to help you do it now, I can just give you the last piece of the puzzle for you to assemble yourself, or I could leave everything else to you."
Edgeworth glowers at the last suggestion. "Unnecessary delays are the last thing I want!"
Dil shrugs. "As quickly as you've done this, I don't know that it would take that long, plus you've already learned how important the intuitive side you've gained is..."
Edgeworth: Even so, I would much rather have something to go on!
Dil: If I just told you the last important detail, then you can approach it lots of ways while still exercising one strength or the other, if not both, right?
Dil: After all, learning a skill isn't the end — it's just the beginning.
Edgeworth frowns dourly. While I yearn to have decisive evidence immediately, he makes a valid point concerning the long term...
Edgeworth takes on a calm, neutral expression. "...Very well."
Dil grins. "I'm glad to hear that. Most of the spells you could cast right now call for the proper gestures and an incantation, though the strongest one you have available right now also needs to use your symbol as a focus."
Dil: You know the gestures and can probably figure out a lot about the timing through some combination of your observations and intuition, so that only leaves the words — well, and the concentration you need to maintain, but that's not all that different from when you used the wand.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm as Dil explains...
Dil: Belgiwig calls them "poems" for a reason — ultimately it's about expressing that meaning in the language that best suits your faith. A lot of divine casters only know a few phrases of different languages because of what they had to learn to get by in their calling.
Edgeworth: There is certainly a familiar ring to that tendency...
Dil grins. "From here, you can figure it out, right?"
Edgeworth uncrosses his arms in order to lift his finger to his temple. "I believe I have enough information to consider, yes."
Edgeworth: However, I have an additional question before I do so.
Dil: All right.
Edgeworth: While I was mentally reviewing the personal meanings of various spells, the two orisons in place responded not only to their own meanings, but that I ascribe to Cure Minor Wounds as well. Why is that?
Dil grins. "Oh, that? Most clerics inherently have the potential to reshape almost any of the spells they've prayed for into either curative or destructive spells, depending on whether they have an affinity for positive or negative energy."
Edgeworth smirks. "So this is, in fact, to be expected."
Dil: Right! One of the things you'll need to learn later is how to isolate a single spell when more than one of them respond to the same meaning like that.
Edgeworth nods. I wonder if I could make progress on that aspect even now, given the circumstances.
Edgeworth: As far as the spell I ought to actually attempt to cast, however, casting Mending upon a torn piece of paper seems the wiser choice. That would provide decisive physical evidence without anyone coming to harm even temporarily in the process.
Edgeworth heads back over to the table where he was writing before, then closes his eyes and focuses on his meanings for each spell he's currently capable of casting in turn while tracing the three-dimensional sigils appropriate to each...
Edgeworth: The barriers for each feel just shy of bursting when I do this...
Edgeworth opens his eyes and shakes his head. To think that in less than two weeks, I would find myself on the brink of performing acts that I once would have insisted lay outside the realm of possibility...
Edgeworth crosses his arms. Assuming, of course, that all is as it appears.
Edgeworth: Certainly, the evidence weighs heavily in favor of the possibility that this will work — yet one thing I've learned is that every case must be proven in as complete a manner as possible.
Edgeworth grins as he taps his temple. I believe I know precisely the language that ought to be used for this purpose...
Illyvalen hurries into the first basement, looking around. "Mister Edgeworth?"
Edgeworth blinks and turns to face the newcomer. "Illyvalen, is something the matter?"
Dil looks over his shoulder at the happenings...
Illyvalen: Um, maybe. Something happened this morning, didn't it?
Edgeworth: That seems to have been the case. Did Althea have a vision concerning it?
Illyvalen: Yeah, right around sunrise, it was kinda scary. I've never seen her react that way before. Though I guess I haven't really watched her having visions much or anything...
Edgeworth's expression grows serious. "In what way?"
Illyvalen: She started saying weird things. In English.
Edgeworth frowns. "Please elaborate."
Illyvalen: Um, well, I noticed that she wasn't responding anymore and tried to get her attention, but when I tried to ask her what was going on, she said something like "The prosecution is ready."
Edgeworth's eyes widen briefly, then he glares. "Is she still at the Library? Do you know anything concerning her plans this morning?"
Illyvalen cowers slightly. "Um, I think she was still at the library where we have our meetings, doing some arcane research with Tikra..."
Edgeworth appears awkward at Illyvalen's reaction, then nods. "Where is it located?"
Illyvalen: Um, it's over at Soladas; do you have a campus map?
Edgeworth shakes his head. "While I've seen Althea's, I lack one of my own."
Illyvalen: Do you know where the dormitory building Tikra and Althea are at is?
Edgeworth: Unfortunately not.
Illyvalen thinks for a few moments. "Um, well, you know where Jorthem Hall in Morridan is, right? If you go north from there past about five buildings, you'll be over at Aureon's Holt. West from there is Soladas, and the place we're meeting is the library closest to the dorms over there..."
Edgeworth nods firmly. "Thank you." He then immediately heads past the gnome to the stairs up...
The next fourty-five minutes are taken up by Edgeworth making his way to the Library district and following Illyvalen's somewhat circuitous directions to the Soladas library in question. He's somewhat annoyed to spot the library where his adventure began in the distance from this spot, but simply shakes his head and keeps his eyes open for Tikra as he looks around, then enters.
Fortunately, Tikra is readily found at a table strewn with books in the library's open central area. Althea is not there, but the presence of open books gathered around the pulled-out seat across from Tikra suggests her absence may only be temporary.
Edgeworth clears his throat.
Tikra looks up from her reading and over at Edgeworth, then nods in acknowledgement.
Edgeworth: I understand that there was an incident earlier. May I have a seat?
Tikra: That is probably advisable. Althea should be back momentarily.
Edgeworth nods grimly and fetches a seating mat.
Tikra resumes her reading for the moment. About a minute later Althea emerges from a row of bookshelves, carrying a stack of about three books. She stops suddenly and blinks as she notices Edgeworth, but makes her way back to the table momentarily.
Althea sits down and looks to Edgeworth. "I'm guessing congratulations are in order."
Edgeworth: Far more likely than not, but I've been told that something disconcerting occurred at the same time.
Althea: So I understand. Perhaps we should move on to that matter now...
Edgeworth nods with a firm expression. "While I'm hardly an expert on this sort of thing, I can't imagine that what Illyvalen described would not entail matters beginning to spiral out of hand."
Edgeworth: However, I didn't press her for a complete testimony.
Althea: For my part, I witnessed a vision of... well, light of a similar nature to that from your temple, as well as spheres of light of different kinds. It's somewhat difficult to describe, though I recorded what impressions I could.
Edgeworth blinks, but his expression returns to complete determination quickly. "Please present this statement, if you would."
Althea nods and sifts through some papers, pulling one out and proffering it.
Edgeworth accepts it and reads... soon becoming wide-eyed.
Edgeworth: That's... almost precisely how I experienced the climactic moment of my communion!
Edgeworth: Granted, the emotional content is absent, and certainly you've described some points differently than I might have, but nonetheless...
Althea: Unless I've missed my guess, you've prepared Detect Magic, Detect Thoughts and Mending.
Edgeworth recoils and sputters.
Althea: I did tell you, I may not practice magic but I have studied it.
Edgeworth hands the paper back, staring awkwardly at Althea. I feel almost as though I've been viewed while showering...
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Er... a-anyway, that would seem to corroborate the sum of my impressions and Dil's theory."
Althea takes it and inserts it back into a stack of papers. "As for the rest of the 'incident', I have no memory. Tikra will have to attest to that."
Edgeworth looks to the kobold...
Tikra: After you were unresponsive for a time, we realized you were probably having a vision. When Illyvalen questioned you, you responded in his language. "The prosecution is ready."
Tikra: After that, David began to question you. He asked, "Who stands accused?" You answered, "Falsehood, ignorance, and injustice."
Edgeworth: That's certainly an... enchanting notion. However...
Edgeworth: What would inspire her to make a statement so grandiose?
Althea: Remember, I was occupied with that vision at the time.
Edgeworth: You mean to imply, then, that these visions are all-encompassing?
Althea: Were it not the case, I'd remember more.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Hmmm... Perhaps we ought to hear more."
Tikra: David asked, "Is the defense ready?" You answered, "The defense is ignorant of its status as such."
Edgeworth simply nods slowly.
Tikra: David asked, "Who presides over such a grand trial?" You answered, "Infinite truth."
Althea raises an eyebrow.
Edgeworth looks to Tikra with an awed glint in his eye. Certainly, the notion of such a trial is a moving one.
Tikra: At this point Illyvalen interjected, inquiring as to your wellbeing, to which you responded, "The witness in question is currently occupied in her role."
Edgeworth frowns in concern, uncrossing his arms. "That must have been a rather disturbing response."
Edgeworth: It certainly explains Illyvalen's level of concern when she arrived at the Archive.
Althea: It makes sense, though. I was occupied in precisely that way, and rather obviously so.
Tikra: I asked how frequently you would be called to that role; you responded, "Regularly throughout her life. This will not and has not changed."
Edgeworth slams the table with his palm. "HOLD IT! Who could possibly testify to such a thing?!"
Several of the other patrons shush Edgeworth.
Althea: We need to work on your indoor voice...
Edgeworth recoils. "Gkk..."
Tikra: I do not have an answer to that question. Though I begin to suspect that perhaps you do.
Edgeworth stares at Tikra in disbelief. "On what basis?!"
Althea sighs. "Let's save this part of the discussion for later, please?"
Edgeworth glowers. "Very well."
Althea: At any rate, that is useful to know...
Tikra: David asked, "Did the prosecution call this witness?" You responded, "Yes. The prosecution calls witnesses autonomously."
Tikra: David asked, "What would you have this witness establish?" You regained awareness at this point, forestalling a response.
Edgeworth still seems too stunned at the previous statement to react to this one.
Althea nods slowly.
Edgeworth: ...I... but... how could... that's...
Althea: I... think this may narrow down somewhat our search for the cause of the fixation of my visions...
Edgeworth's gaze progresses from shocked to disturbed.
Edgeworth then shakes his head firmly. "We oughtn't jump to conclusions. While we know that the first and fifth statements are true in some sense, the rest call for further scrutiny."
Althea: As long as we can conduct that scrutiny without the shouting; it would be rather problematic were we to get thrown out of here for being disruptive.
Edgeworth looks irritated, but doesn't argue.
Althea: Honestly, much of what was said sounds rather thematically familiar. Were your faith an established religion, it sounds like those statements could represent a defining myth for it...
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow. "Mythology is far from my area of expertise."
Althea: It resonates both with a lot of things you've said, and with personal imagery such as the nature of your temple... A grand trial for you and anyone like you to prosecute against society's great evils, presided over by no less of an agency than truth itself; you yourself indicated you were unsure any mortal was fit to fill that role...
Tikra: You did appear somewhat enamoured of the idea...
Edgeworth glances aside awkwardly. "Er... admittedly so."
Edgeworth shakes his head, then lifts his finger to his temple. "In any case, if the purpose of those statements was merely to communicate something of that nature, I see no reason to dwell upon them. That leaves only the last two to consider."
Althea: It's worth giving them some consideration, given that they will have some amount of truth for you and your experiences, even if it's not literal.
Althea: But yes, the latter part is of the most pressing relevance, probably...
Althea: Tikra and I have been doing some additional research into visions, to try to determine if there's anything that might help explain why all of my visions since your arrival have been connected to you in some way...
Althea: Though we haven't found all that much of use as of yet.
Edgeworth looks grim. "The proposed explanation is... rather unsettling. That being said, it's also unverified."
Althea: We'll have to see what we can do in terms of finding ways to verify and explore that. It does occur to me that it might in some way explain one of the Medani scion's observations that neither she nor I had an adequate explanation for at the time.
Althea: She did say that when observing you while her spell was active, she found it somewhat difficult to look away from you.
Edgeworth looks more grim. "So she did..."
Althea: I do know that if nothing else, abjurations against divination work just as well against involuntary visions as attempts to scry and such. Though obtaining an enchanted item meant for that purpose would have to wait until we've left Zilargo, and it would be a relatively extreme form of protection.
Althea: In particular, it would mean I wouldn't be able to assist even with nightmares, nor tell if something happened like when you collapsed the other day...
Edgeworth frowns. "I see..."
Edgeworth: Were this shown to be true, is there any way I could gain control over this... tendency?
Althea: I really can't say. I'm trying to look into this as much as I can without setting our schedule back...
Edgeworth hmms. "This leaves only the second-to-last statement to consider. It, above all others, begs the question of from whence this... testimony came to begin with."
Althea shudders slightly.
Althea: Under the circumstances, it seems unlikely I was merely autonomously relaying something I'd observed or divined...
Edgeworth's expression hardens again. "Given that your vision seemed only tangentally related to your words, that much seems obvious."
Althea: In all likelihood, that speaking was a direct result of the influence of whatever drew me into that vision.
Althea: Some religions, notably followers of the Silver Flame, have a concept of the divine speaking through various people, but it's rarer and far more controversial in other faiths.
Edgeworth holds his head in his hand. "You can't seriously be suggesting this."
Althea: The Blood of Vol might consider the possibility of one's Divinity Within speaking, but not likely through another individual...
Tikra: It seems the most obvious interpretation would be that this 'infinite truth' was speaking, whether it represents an outside force, or your perception of part of yourself...
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "One of the many things I've learned in my time as a prosecutor is that the obvious interpretation is not necessarily the correct one."
Althea: ...it might be wise to do some research on some of the instances where this has happened in the past. I know I've heard vaguely of a few cases of this happening among followers of the Host...
Althea: Certainly whatever acted here was limited; overwhelming enough to act without my volition, but not enough to damage me...
Althea: Moreover, it's been said you in particular called me, so it should seem to follow that some agency of yours was involved in speaking, if not a conscious one...
Tikra: The prosecution calls witnesses autonomously... what other witnesses has he called, then?
Edgeworth: What have I unleashed in pursuing this truth?...
Althea: Unless you count quori I'm not aware of any, but I suppose I would not necessarily be...
Tikra: Given where we are, it would be foolish to assume some have not already begun to take notice.
Althea winces and nods. "True."
Althea: At any rate, finding out the true nature of what has occurred may help not only with your and my peace of mind, but likely would further the Foundation's understanding considerably.
Edgeworth glances aside awkwardly. "Concerning the suggestion that some aspect of myself can be held responsible for something as... peculiar as this, I must confess that in the moment, I had the impression of being in an enhanced state."
Althea: ...because you were the light?
Edgeworth: Indeed. Furthermore, given that I was apparently enduring something greater than what I ultimately failed to endure just yesterday, I'm left to consider the possibility that this impression coincided with reality.
Althea: It's also true that the connection linking us during my visions seems to have become stronger of late. We both share greater awareness of each other during your dreams than seems normal...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Can such a phenomenon be considered 'normal' to begin with?"
Tikra: ...so I have come to understand...
Edgeworth blinks and looks to Tikra. "You as well?"
Tikra looks at the table. "Only once, though I am not as prone to nightmares as I understand you to be..."
Edgeworth looks away uneasily. "I had thought that tendency to be a thing of the past. It seems, however, that it has not yet starved to death as I'd believed."
Althea: It certainly seems as though your recent nightmares have related to your current struggles in coming to terms with difficult aspects of the truth you now face...
Edgeworth: Moreover, unlike those of the past, they and the other significant dreams I've had since my arrival seem to serve as vehicles for truth themselves.
Tikra: Perhaps that in some way makes you fortunate, even should you bear greater risk as the cost...
Edgeworth peers at Tikra. "Oh?"
Tikra: Even nightmares aid you in your quest for evidence.
Edgeworth smirks. "Heh... a valuable reversal indeed."
Althea: Back to the earlier point about the growing link between us... it is possible that I'm partly responsible for establishing the basis for such a connection in the first place...
Edgeworth glowers at Althea. "In what way?"
Althea: As I mentioned earlier while trying to talk down the Medani scion's racing conjecture, I did tag you with a psychic beacon when we first met. The effect of that beacon only lasts twenty-four hours, but given that you did have a nightmare during that time...
Althea: It's certainly possible that the beacon made my witnessing that first nightmare more likely, and might have influenced things enough to be partly responsible for the extent to which my visions have been fixated upon you...
Edgeworth raises his finger to his temple for a moment, deep in thought...
Edgeworth: It seems analogous. An "autonomous force", as it were, drawing in something that already came into its range...
Althea: Which raises the question of whether this fixation is a constant or a recurring phenomenon... Certainly, should I have a vision unrelated to you at any point, that would be a good sign, but the longer that fails to happen...
Edgeworth: There is also the possibility of waxing and waning, rather than simple persistence or repetition. Indeed, one could speculate that if my divinatory affinity could be likened to a magnet, then this dawn it may essentially have been an electric magnet.
Althea: I'm sorry... "electric magnet?"
Edgeworth's eyes pop wide and he chokes. It hadn't even occurred to me that I was approximating the term...!
Edgeworth: Er... my apologies. That was... um, my best attempt at translation of the concept.
Althea shakes her head. "I think you're going to have to provide a bit more detail to make sense of it, then."
Edgeworth: Essentially, in my own world, we've discovered that electricity and magnetism are interrelated, and that it's possible to use properly-directed electricity to greatly strengthen a magnet temporarily, creating an "electromagnet", as they're known.
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Given the implications, however, I rather hope I'm wrong."
Althea jots down some notes before inquiring, "And how long does this strengthening usually last?"
Edgeworth: Until the electricity supplied to it is cut off.
Althea: At which point it returns to normal strength?
Althea: ...is the extent to which the strength increases fixed or variable?
Edgeworth: I'm neither aware of that nor do I know that the analogy would necessarily extend quite so far.
Althea passes the paper on which she's been writing to Tikra, who studies it for several moments before simply shrugging.
Althea: I wonder if perhaps some form of weak abjuration might be able to simply offset this 'magnetism'... though to deal with more than just the base level of attraction, we'd have to be able to work out just how strong it was becoming... and it would certainly be complicated if it turns out it's not always the same strength when thus amplified...
Edgeworth: We ought to determine whether this line of inquiry has any merit in the first place before attempting to devise countermeasures.
Althea: The concept isn't inconsistent with any of my observations thus far. We'll have to see what further research turns up.
Althea: ...for that matter, if the nature of the phenomenon is strongly similar, I have to wonder if there would be a way to measure the strength of this 'draw'...
Althea: Even as strong an effect as this morning's incident had, it's not entirely clear how much of the impact was directly due to that draw; it was a significant event of a kind I might well have witnessed anyway even without and most especially with a preexisting link to you...
Althea: If it's an amplifying effect, then a stronger initial draw could result in far more extreme results...
Edgeworth: Then I suppose we won't know the true nature of the problem at hand until tomorrow.
Althea: We should at least know more of its nature then.
Tikra: In the meantime, we have much to research before the concert.
Edgeworth: Is there anything I can do to help? Aside from reaching the taller shelves, of course.
Althea: Once we finish up here, we were planning to head over to the Tabernacle; their libraries would prove a better resource for pursuing research into... incidents like these.
Althea: There should be at least some relevant works in Common if your reading skills are anywhere near as strong as your verbal skills.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. "I assure you, my understanding isn't so superficial." Even if I understand only some of the factors that contributed to it.
Edgeworth: Indeed, in the process of learning to harness my new capabilities, far more daunting questions have presented themselves...
Edgeworth frowns. Not the least of which is whether that sixth statement can be taken as truthful... and if so, how that can be the case.
Once Althea and Tikra finish their business in the Soladas library, they lead Edgeworth to one of the Tabernacle's, not all that far from the large, ancient, fortified building that was the original Library of Korranberg and still serves to guard its most precious and obscure tomes.
Over the course of a few hours' effort, the three track down and compare a number of examples of gods or divine forces allegedly speaking directly through mortals — typically divine casters in the midst of their daily prayers, but a few examples not entirely unlike that morning's turn up as well.
Eventually, however, the time for the concert draws near enough that the three of them need to begin the long walk out of the depths of the library quarter and towards the concert hall, not all that far from the center of the city...
Edgeworth simply shakes his head as he walks.
Althea: Well, it's pretty clear we've got a strong, discernable pattern that fits with the current situation.
Edgeworth: Most certainly, albeit one which hasn't been sufficiently questioned before.
Tikra: Such events have been rare enough to appear isolated when one is not searching for like circumstances...
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. "Even so, I find myself further appreciating the Archival Foundation's willingness to do more than simply take matters at face value."
Althea: I trust then that you'll not take offense if I don't find my experience moving enough to convert me to your faith.
Edgeworth smirks. "Not in the least. Quite the contrary, I would have been disappointed to see you react in the typical fashion."
Althea: No confirmed cases of it happening to a psion, though, so it would be difficult to say whether any differences could be expected overall in my case...
Edgeworth lifts his finger to his temple. "For that matter, none of the cases that involved someone other than the divine caster so absorbed involved involuntary visions, though given the rarity of both phenomena in question, that may not necessarily be meaningful."
Althea: Mm. Given that there are a number of key similarities between visions and scrying, it's entirely possible that both are equally capable of creating this situation. Alternately, whatever is fixating my visions on you might also be responsible for creating a significant-enough connection to make the difference.
Edgeworth frowns in unease at the mention of the cause of fixation...
Edgeworth: Furthermore, it is entirely possible for both to be factors, particularly given how... unusual this phenomenon is.
Althea: We won't really know unless it happens again. Or unless we find out it happened to more than just myself...
Tikra: Most cases involved those at least open to the religion of the cleric being targetted by scrying or divination. There might not be that many who qualify.
Althea: Difficult to say... I would think the most likely candidates might well be members of the Foundation...
Edgeworth: Would any of them have reason to scry on me, however? For that matter, do any of them share in your... condition?
Althea: Not that I know of, but I haven't looked into it. We also don't really know to what extent proximity is a factor; there are other Archives...
Edgeworth nods, still frowning.
Edgeworth: I cannot say that I find the idea of several people having observed that experience to be comfortable...
Further discussion is forestalled as another familiar halfling steps into the intersection ahead of the group, looking over to the others and nodding, waiting for them to approach.
Edgeworth half-frowns, but doesn't change his pace.
Tikra looks to Nathaniel, then briefly over to Althea.
Althea nods slightly in acknowledgment to Nathaniel.
Tikra looks back toward Nathaniel with a neutral expression.
Nathaniel waits for the group to reach the intersection before speaking up. "Glad to see you decided to attend after all. It should be an impressive performance." He falls into step with the group.
Althea nods slightly. "It would be kind of silly to skip out on it just to avoid you, especially after what's happened..."
Edgeworth blinks at the sudden change of language, but doesn't pry.
Nathaniel falters slightly in his pace and sighs. "...sorry if my presence is bothering you. I almost considered not attending myself, but then Illyvalen practically insisted I come with you all. I think she thought she'd somehow caused an argument or fight after what happened the other day..."
Althea puts a hand to her forehead, sighing. "I should have figured something like that. I really should have said something to her about all that, it's predictable enough she might jump to conclusions... It's all right, I don't mind, as long as you keep things professional."
Nathaniel bows slightly even as he walks. "If that is to be my role to portray, I shall endeavor to perform it with distinction."
Edgeworth does his best to focus on the language rather than the apparent personal issues in play.
Nathaniel: If it is not too personal to inquire, however, I understand there was something of a troubling... incident before I arrived this morning...?
Althea: We're still in the process of investigating that, but there are at least some known precedents.
Edgeworth nods. "Indeed, this situation may differ from the phenomenon's usual form only in that Althea's vision was involuntary — a distinction likely to be meaningless."
Nathaniel: Then this is something that normally befalls scryers?
Edgeworth: Within particular narrow conditions, yes.
Althea: Generally those who perform scrying or divination upon a divine caster during his prayers, and who are also typically predisposed to being at least open to the views of that divine caster's faith.
Edgeworth twitches slightly in annoyance at the word 'prayers', but doesn't openly complain.
Nathaniel: I take it the examples you've found thus far have been relatively benign in their consequences?
Edgeworth: Most consequences described related to the scryers' personal reactions to the experience rather than any sort of direct side-effects.
Althea: Mm. Suffice to say, I'm not ready to convert to his faith, so if the typical rarity of the experience holds, there may be little further consequence to the experience.
Nathaniel: Forgive me for saying so, but you don't exactly sound convinced of that.
Edgeworth frowns dourly.
Althea: ...there are reasons the experience might be less rare than usual in this particular circumstance, but we'll have to deal with that if and when it becomes apparent...
Edgeworth: We'll have to see what happens come next dawn.
Nathaniel frowns. "I... see. Are there any precautions that can be taken, at least?"
Althea: Not until we know more. Even if I could prevent another occurrence, it's important to know whether it would happen again before taking any steps to prevent it...
Nathaniel looks like he's about to say something further, but simply lapses into silence, appearing disturbed.
Edgeworth crosses his arms even as he walks. "If you have further worthwhile contributions, it would be for the best if you were to speak of them."
Nathaniel: I fear I have little to offer from within the confines of my prescribed role...
Edgeworth frowns in confusion, but only briefly. "Hrm..."
Edgeworth: There was a useful aspect to the incident, however — it allowed Althea to serve as a witness to my success this morning, thereby verifying it as such.
Nathaniel replies somewhat icily, "So I gathered."
Althea nods. "I think the fact that I recognized the spells you prepared was relevant?"
Edgeworth uncrosses his arms and looks down at one of his hands. "Indeed, though I fail to understand how you managed such a feat in such an unfamiliar... er, environment."
Althea: Each spell has its own telltales regardless of the form in which it resides.
Althea: With sufficient experience and skill, one can learn to recognize them in almost any situation.
Edgeworth: If that's the case, then clearly that's another skill I'll need to master.
Nathaniel speaks up to fill the momentary silence that follows. "It is a shame you'll need to leave so soon... I gather that an even more interesting performance may be due in the relatively near future."
Nathaniel lowers his voice a bit in mock-conspiratorial whisper. "There's quite a bit of buzz about the orchestra receiving a copy of a rare work in the near future. A reliable source informs me that someone's promised to provide them with a copy of Teghran's first symphony."
Edgeworth looks to Althea and Tikra to gauge their reactions. It's a rather awkward thing to be entirely ignorant of the cultural achievements of this world.
Tikra doesn't react to the news; whether it has any significance to her at all is unclear.
Althea blinks. "Was that ever performed outside of Menthis? I would imagine getting ahold of a copy would require a good deal of effort or luck, quite probably both..."
Nathaniel: Certainly no public performances that I've heard of. The second was the only of his symphonies to ever be performed by the Korranberg Symphony Orchestra, though I did get a chance to attend a performance of his third once at the Phiarlan enclave in Zolanberg.
Althea sighs and shakes her head. "I'm not surprised you had to go to Zolanberg; I get the sense Phiarlan doesn't think names like his will draw 'the right sort of crowd' in more broadly affluent areas."
Edgeworth frowns. "For what reason?"
Althea looks up and shrugs. "The quality of his music speaks for itself, but little else does. Teghran was born into poverty, tried to follow a dream, struggled for patronage, got the briefest sliver of recognition but couldn't build on it, continued to produce remarkable works as his patrons gradually lost interest, and eventually died without a crown to his name..."
Edgeworth shakes his head slowly. "In short, the archetypal 'starving artist' despite his best efforts?"
Nathaniel: Efforts and undeniable talent.
Tikra: Neither effort nor talent are proof against hardship and ruin...
Nathaniel falters slightly in his pace, seeming surprised by Tikra's comment.
Edgeworth looks between Nathaniel and Tikra, then nods grimly. "Indeed, it can take but a single person intent on one's suffering to ruin one's life — or, for that matter, to end it."
Edgeworth glares despite himself.
Nathaniel looks at Edgeworth, then Althea, then back to Tikra. "Well, there's a cheerful thought..."
Edgeworth: It is one I must contend with regularly.
Edgeworth spreads his arms. "After all, it is my duty to expose the truth behind high crimes."
Althea: Much as we all may have to, it is probably best not to dwell on such a sentiment, particularly once we meet up with Illyvalen.
Edgeworth side-eyes Althea.
Edgeworth: You ask rather much, though I can at least concede to refraining from any further discussion of the matter.
The group continues in relative silence, eventually reaching a rather ancient-looking stone concert hall. Despite its age, however, it's very clean, comfortable, sturdier than it might appear, and has plenty of room for the crowds.
Given the limitations imposed by their divergent sizes and the fact that their tickets were purchased relatively late, the group's seats aren't great; they're just beneath a balcony, at a dividing point between human-sized and gnome-sized seats.
Various musicians are milling about the stage or practicing sections of their parts. At one point, the conductor approaches a nervous-looking gnomish lady with a flute.
Illyvalen chatters excitedly but with restrained volume to Tikra, oblivious to the stares her companion has been attracting since entering the concert hall. "...and the building itself is even older: it dates all the way back to the Dhakaani empire; it's been standing here for probably nearly 6000 years..."
Edgeworth's eyebrows raise at that assertion.
Tikra nods politely, keeping her attention on either the stage or the group, pointedly ignoring any attention from the rest of the audience.
Nathaniel: Indeed. It was renovated back in the early years of modern Korranberg, about 25 centuries ago, but long before that it was enriching goblinoid culture just as it enriches gnomish culture today.
Althea nods and looks to Edgeworth. "I don't know if I mentioned much about the Dhakaani empire, but back before humans migrated here from Sarlona, there was a huge goblinoid empire that spanned the continent of Khorvaire."
Edgeworth half-frowns briefly at Tikra's darkened expression, but his expression goes neutral in an instant as he looks to Althea and nods. "You had not."
Althea: It lasted for about 11 centuries in total, starting about 6100 years ago, but the invasion of the Daelkyr about 5400 years ago left it in tatters.
Edgeworth: Four hundred years is quite the time to struggle, though not unheard of. The history of one of Earth's continents includes a culture that clung to the name of a fallen empire for over eight hundred years.
Althea: I'm not aware of any similar situation on Eberron lasting that long.
Nathaniel: Unfortunately, while we know various things about Dhakaani culture from surviving buildings, artifacts, and oral tradition, very little music has survived from that time. We can only speculate regarding the works performed here all those millenia ago.
Edgeworth looks grim. "To lose evidence is a troubling thing, though unsurprising in such a situation."
At about this time, the conductor silently instructs the orchestra to ready themselves, causing those practicing to go quiet. At about the same time, another gnome walks up to the edge of the stage and traces a rune while singing a few words in a strange, complex tongue softly.
A vague twinkling sound is barely audible briefly, then the gnome clears his throat, a sound now easily audible from a distance. The words he says next are also strangely loud: "Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you. Please enjoy Allairyn Serias's second and third symphonies, as performed by our orchestra and conducted by Rabbalap Marggin Adredar."
Polite applause comes from most of the audience. Illyvalen and Nathaniel join in immediately.
Althea quietly whispers a translation to Edgeworth in Common.
Edgeworth nods while softly joining in with the courtesy.
Althea joins as well after the aside.
Tikra simply watches the stage silently.
Edgeworth: I'm left to wonder why that... spell was apparently sung rather than spoken, but this is hardly the time for such inquiries.
Several seconds after the applause dies down, the woodwinds begin softly, slowly growing in volume. The brass then joins in with a similar crescendo, adding a countermelody...
After what can be assumed to be the first two movements, the third opens with a mix of violins and oboe-like instruments — first at a moderate volume, then more simply and softly as the nervous flutist from the start stands.
Ellymoha takes the few moments afforded by the timing of the piece to steady her nerves before raising her instrument.
Despite her apparent unease, she begins her part with the grace afforded by well-practiced skill.
Edgeworth looks impressed. My status as an amateur in her field is all too apparent in this moment.
Edgeworth's fingers move along roughly with a part that repeats...
Nathaniel blinks as he notices the pattern of movement, but doesn't comment.
Ellymoha continues her solo for nearly two minutes before the melody transitions back to strings and woodwinds, allowing her to ease her concentration and return to her seat. Strangely enough, however, she doesn't seem to be relieved by the completion of her part; she looks every bit as on edge as she has since before the performance...
Edgeworth raises his finger to his temple, looking seriously at the flutist. Her performance was remarkable; why should her distress continue? Is there a still more difficult solo for her to come?
Althea frowns slightly but doesn't say anything.
As the third movement continues and is followed by a fourth, the disquieted flutist is not called upon for any further solo performances. As the music dies down, the gnome who spoke before returns to the stage and repeats his sung spell, announcing a twenty-minute intermission.
Edgeworth stands from his seat and stretches.
Althea looks between Edgeworth and Tikra. "So, what did you think?"
Edgeworth: It was rather impressive — particularly the flute solo in the third movement.
Edgeworth glances over at the flutist headed behind the scenes with a half-frown, however...
Nathaniel nods. "That was Ellymoha Cissot Adredar, and her talent as a performer is well known."
Edgeworth looks to Nathaniel with a smirk. "I can certainly understand why."
Althea: Is it just me, or did she seem... oddly disturbed?
Illyvalen: Huh? Um, I didn't really notice...
Edgeworth frowns. "It did seem strange that her unease persisted beyond her solo."
Nathaniel: Mm. I've never seen her get nervous about a performance like that...
Edgeworth brings his finger to his temple again. "Then perhaps it's a personal matter rather than anything to do with the performance."
Tikra speaks up after a few moments. "I am unaccustomed to music of such length and complexity. I believe I can understand the fascination it holds for some."
Tikra: As interesting an experience as it has been, however, I do not know if it is one I would be comfortable repeating on a regular basis.
Edgeworth glances aside. "Unfortunately, as the pace of civilization in my own world increases, fewer people have the patience to dedicate the time to enjoying such music. On the other hand, our recording devices allow means by which to place music in the background of our lives."
Althea: We have magic that can do something similar, though I suspect not as versatile.
Nathaniel: The simplest version enchants an object for a short period to search out a song recently played in an area, and reproduce it on command.
Edgeworth blinks. "It reaches into the past?"
Althea: Mm. I noted some of my own powers offer similar capability in that regard.
Nathaniel nods. "Which is rather convenient when one needs to pin down details of the origins of an ancient artifact, say."
Edgeworth: Hm, you did indeed... I'm left to wonder the full extent to which such potential has been explored.
Edgeworth: Though I find it hard to believe that my life could have grown quite that simple...
Illyvalen: I'm going to go get something to drink, does anyone else want anything?
Edgeworth nods to Illyvalen. "A beverage would be most appreciated."
Althea: Maleko, extra strong. The same for you, or would you like to try something else? They should have a few sweetened fruit drinks.
Tikra: I do not require anything.
Edgeworth: I prefer less sweet things than most.
Edgeworth: If they have any sort of tea available, even a weak example would appeal to me.
Nathaniel: I'll accompany you.
Illyvalen nods. "I'll see what I can find."
Edgeworth makes a sweeping bow. "Thank you."
Little else is discussed as the intermission continues. Illyvalen and Nathaniel return with refreshments shortly before the conductor signals the orchestra to readiness once again.
Serias's 3rd goes by without any new developments showing themselves. Once the concert is complete, Edgeworth again stands and stretches... then looks down and clutches his stomach.
Edgeworth frowns. "Perhaps I've had too little to eat today."
Illyvalen: Huh, I didn't see you since you left the Archive in a hurry this morning. What have you been up to today, anyway?
Edgeworth begins to edge his way out from the rows of seats. "We primarily sought records at the Library of incidents similar to the one this morning."
Althea: Mm. Even with Tikra's assistance we were occupied for quite a while, though I should think we'd have made far less progress without it.
Tikra shrugs but doesn't comment.
Althea: I haven't known all that many who are that good at sifting through such complex information so quickly as the two of you seem to be.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. "Efficiency in such matters is a vital skill for a lawyer, and the organizational system used at the library is surprisingly simple for the volume of information present."
Tikra shrugs again. "I have been fortunate to find a role where such a talent serves me."
Althea: At any rate, I suspect we all could use something to eat. Shall we find a place for dinner?
Edgeworth nods. "Indeed."
Nathaniel: An excellent suggestion.
Tikra shrugs noncommitally.
The group makes their way out of the concert hall and starts on their way back towards the Library district — or more accurately, the gnomish restaurant at its edge.
Nathaniel: So, I gather you dabble in the arts somewhat yourself?
Althea blinks and looks to Nathaniel, then to Edgeworth. "Hm?"
Edgeworth glances aside awkwardly. "Er... I would consider that an overstatement, though I have played the flute since I was a boy."
Edgeworth: Music was among the few pastimes my mentor saw any constructive use for, so I've been in the habit of practicing for fifteen minutes every day for quite some time.
Edgeworth: It's good for the mind, after all. A pity that I've been in no position to continue since I was, er, deposited here.
Nathaniel nods. "I noticed you seemed to be attempting to pick up and practice miss Cissot's part during the concert."
Edgeworth smirks. "I suspected as much when you broached the subject."
Althea nods. "I understand the feeling. I left my own instrument back in Sharn, but given it may be a while before I return, I might have to see if I can arrange to have it sent to me at some point..."
Edgeworth grins and looks to Althea. "You play one as well?"
Althea: I'm no bard, but I do have a little bit of skill with the violin.
Illyvalen: Aw, it's too bad you didn't bring it, we could find Mister Edgeworth a flute and have our own mini-concert.
Edgeworth: I rather doubt that either of us has learned to play the same pieces of music.
Illyvalen: You could teach us, then!
Althea: Er, I don't know that that would be feasible given time issues...
Edgeworth looks awkward. "Furthermore, I've focused solely on playing solo for well over a decade; I'm in no position to teach anyone accompanying parts."
Tikra glances around slightly nervously.
Illyvalen glances toward Tikra. "Is something wrong?"
Tikra responds quietly but simply. "Yes."
Althea blinks and looks around herself, frowning.
Edgeworth snaps to seriousness at that assertion and looks around... "I've yet to observe this sort of unease in the populace here."
Nathaniel: Hmm... Now that you mention it...
Althea and Tikra both look toward the upcoming street to the left, then nod to each other. Althea starts heading in that direction.
Illyvalen: Um, so what's going on?
Edgeworth follows without hesitation or comment.
Tikra: It is not clear, but the cause may be nearby.
Nathaniel: Is it wise to be heading nearer to whatever it is, then?
Tikra: Wise or not, it is better we remain together than apart.
Edgeworth glances over his shoulder at Nathaniel. "To say nothing of the importance of understanding sudden changes in one's situation."
Tikra heads after Edgeworth.
Illyvalen hurries after Tikra.
Nathaniel frowns, but follows the group.
The road quickly leads to a small, currently-deserted park, within sight of a road lined with various crafters' shops. The reason for the desertion is readily apparent when they arrive: a gnome in middle-class clothes lies in a pool of his own blood there, the wound through his stomach very obvious.