"We repeat, then, that not science, but the neglect of science, is irreligious... It is not a mere lip-homage, but a homage expressed in actions — not a mere professed respect, but a respect proved by the sacrifice of time, thought, and labour."
— Herbert Spencer
Even thrust by means unknown into a totally unfamiliar world, where even the truth of what physics makes possible is radically broadened, there is still one inevitable constant in Miles Edgeworth's life: there will always be crimes, and he has the duty to pursue the full truth behind these crimes, so that the perpetrators may be brought to justice.
A morning that had seen a rather momentous breakthrough for the prosecutor set recently and unexpectedly upon the path of the cleric, as well as some potentially disturbing ramifications, had given way to what promised to be a pleasant and enjoyable afternoon: attending a concert consisting of two symphonies performed by the Korranberg Symphony Orchestra as Illyvalen's guest. Despite a rather obvious case of nerves by the flutist responsible for the third movement's solo in the first one, which had no noticeable impact on the quality of her performance, the concert was uneventful.
Returning to the Library district for dinner as evening came, however, proved somewhat more ill-fated. Noticing the atmosphere in the city had suddenly turned considerably more tense and fearful than Edgeworth had yet observed, the group investigates the apparent source of the disquiet, a road leading to a small, deserted park... and the body of a gnome in middle-class attire, lying in a pool of his own blood, an obvious wound through his stomach.
Althea gasps slightly, then hurries over toward the body.
Tikra hisses slightly as she looks over the scene, not approaching the body.
Illyvalen shrieks slightly as she sees the body, clinging to Tikra.
Illyvalen: I-Is he...?
Edgeworth's initial surprise fades rapidly. He closes much of the distance quickly before slowing down to survey the ground...
Althea: ...He's dead. Only recently, though; the culprit might still be nearby...
Nathaniel: Should we even be getting involved in something like this...?
Althea: We are involved. We can't just ignore the situation.
Edgeworth points at some tracks leading in the direction of the waterfront district, though they're less apparent off the grass. "Given that I see some drops of blood alongside that particular trail and it grows that apparent starting near the body, our culprit is most likely that way."
Edgeworth glowers as he goes on to demand, "Who here is best-equipped to apprehend a criminal?"
Althea nods grimly. "I'll go. Tikra, I might need your help. Everyone else stay here."
Tikra looks conflicted herself for a moment, but nods and follows Althea.
Illyvalen watches the two depart before looking nervously between Nathaniel and Edgeworth.
Edgeworth looks the scene over further, closing in as much as he easily can without disturbing the apparent crime scene.
Edgeworth: Given the amount of fresh blood, the signs of a brief struggle, and Althea's assessment that the victim's death was recent — I presume he's still warm — it's likely that this is in fact the scene of the crime rather than an attempt at creating a false one.
Nathaniel: It is rather disconcerting, though... the Trust should have intervened well before we could have found such a scene, if not before such an incident could even happen...
Edgeworth seems taken slightly by surprise at Nathaniel's words, then grits his teeth. That's right; I'm not in just any place. How could a murder have happened in a country where courts are eschewed in favor of secret police with eyes in so many places?
Illyvalen: There... there isn't really anything at all we can do for him, is there...?
Edgeworth glares at Illyvalen with determination. "While it may not be possible to undo what has been done, certainly those responsible can be made to answer for their crimes once the truth of the matter is made clear."
Illyvalen eeps and clings to Nathaniel, but nods slowly to Edgeworth once his words sink in.
Nathaniel seems a bit surprised at the sudden hug, but responds to Edgeworth shortly. "I would imagine resurrection would be well beyond your current means, at any rate..."
Edgeworth looks awkward at the mention of resurrection. "Er, right."
Edgeworth: Perhaps I'm even less used to Eberron than I thought... A mere two weeks ago, I lived in a world where a situation such as this would be unquestionably final. However, a great many things are possible in this world that I never would have considered the possibility of on Earth.
Edgeworth raises one hand and looks down at it. Least of all...
Edgeworth: Would a crime scene such as this be sufficiently young for just any spellcaster to examine it for magical traces?
Nathaniel: Possibly. Do you want me to check?
Edgeworth: Ah, you're able? Then please do so.
Nathaniel nods, then begins reciting unfamiliar words almost as if reading a poem to an audience, while gesturing somewhat.
Edgeworth looks to Nathaniel uneasily. To think that I've just obtained a similar capability... or at the very least, all the evidence thus far suggests so.
Edgeworth: Indeed, when I contemplate that spell's ability to reveal still more evidence of the fundamental truth that magic can be found all over this world, I can feel my readied potential to cast that spell once today swell within me...
Edgeworth: Though I've yet to do more than trigger the release of a spell stored in a wand; the possibility of casting one under my own power is something that has only just presented itself. I hadn't expected a situation such as this to arise so soon thereafter...
Nathaniel shakes his head after about half a minute's concentration. "The only magic present is in his ring."
Edgeworth looks to Nathaniel, snapped out of his reverie by the report, and nods. "I can only hope that means that no spells complicated this incident."
Nathaniel: Certainly no powerful spells, but the auras of weaker magic can escape this level of detection after a few minutes.
Edgeworth's expression firms once more. "Undoubtedly, we'll need to enlist more skilled help as soon as we can."
Edgeworth: For now, can you tell me anything about the ring?
Edgeworth pulls out his handkerchief while looking for the best path to the body's side that won't disturb things further.
Nathaniel: It's an arcane signet ring. The victim must have been a dragonmarked heir, or otherwise well-placed within House Sivis.
Edgeworth's eyes widen slightly in surprise even as he circles around the crime scene to approach the body from an awkward angle. He then spreads his handkerchief a couple of inches away from the edge of the pool of blood and kneels down.
Edgeworth looks the wound over for a moment, then frowns. "...Unfortunately, I'm not used to personally examining real wounds formed by such archaic weaponry. For that matter, entire medical teams have been known to make errors in such cases in my own world."
Edgeworth: Those times I've succeeded, there were few relevant possibilities, which I would imagine isn't the case here.
Althea returns to the scene escorting a male gnome with his arms bound behind his back. Tikra follows closely behind, awkwardly carrying a bloodied longsword.
Illyvalen looks over to Althea and Tikra, seeming relieved. "Are you two okay?"
The gnome in question is black-haired and auburn-eyed with calloused bronze skin, has a sword sheath hanging at his side, and is wide-eyed and whimpering, clearly overcome with deep fear.
Althea blinks as she notices Illyvalen's position, but doesn't comment on it. "We're fine, at least for the time being."
Edgeworth stands. "Then again, perhaps this will be a simpler matter than I thought. I don't suppose either of you can compare that sword to this wound? For that matter, does any form of blood test exist on this world?"
Althea: I can try, though to be honest Illyvalen might be more capable...
Illyvalen: Ah... r-right...
Illyvalen lets go of Nathaniel and makes her way slowly toward the body.
Edgeworth points to the sword. "For that matter, does anyone have a means of storing such a large piece of evidence without further contaminating it?"
Althea: On the matter of a blood test, I do have the resources for a rather basic one, but it would establish little more than whether the blood on the blade belongs to a gnome. Assuming that the wound matches the sword and given that the blood on the blade looks about as fresh as that spilled here, such a test would not provide any stronger evidence than what we already have; it still might be for the best to preserve samples for later testing, but there are more valuable avenues of investigation to concern ourselves with right now. As for preserving the sword in its current state, the best option would probably be to wrap it in a tarpaulin, but I doubt any of us has one handy...
Edgeworth: Hm, I should think not. I would assume it would be apparent if any of us did.
Althea: If one of you would care to keep an eye on the suspect, I can try to investigate the scene further...
Illyvalen tries to suppress a shudder as she looks over the wound.
Illyvalen: It... i-it loo... l-looks like it's p-probably... from a sword of the same shape as... that one...
Edgeworth glares towards the suspect. "Then I believe this man has a number of questions to answer."
Illyvalen backs up and closes her eyes momentarily, regathering her composure as best she can.
Egmon winces under the grey glare, shaking.
Illyvalen: I... I'm pretty sure... he was stabbed from the front...
Althea nods. "Thanks. Do you think you might be able to find us a tarpaulin?"
Illyvalen nods. "Uh, yeah, sure..."
Edgeworth nods to Illyvalen, then takes a couple of steps towards the prisoner. "Can you explain exactly why you were found with this sword in your possession?"
Egmon's brow furrows.
Edgeworth's glare hardens. "Do you realize how thoroughly incriminating your situation appears?!"
Egmon looks to the ground with a whimper.
Edgeworth crosses his arms, still glowering. "The truth behind this situation will come out whether you cooperate or not. To refuse to do so will merely prolong your own suffering, whether you're as guilty as you may appear to be or not!"
Egmon looks away, both pained and angry.
Edgeworth: It's been years since I've faced a situation similar to this... At that time, a witness was so traumatized by the incident she was embroiled in that she couldn't form a single word. Yet this situation can't be identical to hers; would someone merely shocked really choose to run off with the murder weapon?
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm as he thinks.
Tikra: It is likely he well understands how his situation appears to others, given what he seemed poised to do ere we arrived...
Edgeworth looks to Tikra, still cold. "Elaborate."
Tikra: ...he appeared ready to face Dolurrh rather than whatever fate awaits him here.
Edgeworth takes a second to grasp the meaning of Tikra's turn of phrase, then nods grimly. "I see..."
Althea nods slightly. "We intervened only barely in time to prevent his suicide by the apparent murder weapon itself."
Althea: Very nice reflexes there, by the way, Tikra.
Edgeworth looks back to the suspect. "Do you care to explain this behavior?"
Edgeworth: Is there nothing I can do to wrest his testimony from his throat?!
Edgeworth frowns, a flicker of nervousness passing through his eyes. ...Perhaps I have no other choice...
Edgeworth uncrosses his arms and holds one hand about a foot and a half in front of his chest, his fingers held in a bizarre configuration. I had expected my first attempt at such a thing to occur in a less stressful environment.
Edgeworth: From what I've observed, the incantation is typically completed prior to the gestures, though the former is generally entirely overlapped by the latter. Furthermore, in a... cleric's case, the words used must encapsulate the spell's meaning in a symbolically appropriate language for the caster's... faith.
Edgeworth pulls his prosecutor's badge from his pocket with his free hand as his expression grows even more determined. I know full well what the meaning and the language alike are — and if we're to be absolutely certain of the truth behind this crime, I cannot afford to fail!
Edgeworth points the badge at Egmon's head while still giving his other hand plenty of room to maneuver, then makes a firm declaration in Latin while tracing a three-dimensional sigil slightly more complex than Nathaniel's in the air.
Tikra shifts her stance slightly, but her expression remains inscrutable.
Nathaniel blinks, watching curiously.
One of the metaphysical "dams" Edgeworth has been carrying within him suddenly shatters, and the prosecutor gasps lightly as he feels a rush of cold, clarifying light passing through him, seemingly taking shape partly at his direction and partly of its own accord. Once it fits a certain pattern, he's struck by awareness both of having an inner means to gaze upon the recalcitrant and of needing to put mental effort into maintaining this superior state...
Edgeworth's eyes close and his brow furrows as he struggles to divide his attention between maintaining the spell and focusing its power on the suspect's thoughts.
Egmon looks back at Edgeworth in surprise at the chant, though appears confused as he looks at the badge.
Egmon then looks away bitterly.
Egmon: ...but what does it matter, anyway? Whatever he believes in, he's probably going to be just as cruel as the Trust!
Edgeworth's expression registers mild surprise even as he keeps his eyes closed...
Egmon grits his teeth. I didn't want what happened to Lalitamah to happen again, but forging this sword to take matters into my own hands just made this time worse! They'll probably do worse than kill me...
Egmon: Look at all this! The knife's even missing; why would anyone believe I was attacked first? No one understands why I carry a weapon anyway!
Egmon: Even if they believed it, people would probably think I'm the guilty one for carrying a sword all the time, just like Lalitamah was blamed for no good reason...
Edgeworth's eyes slowly half-open, revealing that harshness has given way to horrified sympathy...
Egmon glances over at Edgeworth and looks disturbed. Wait... the way he's looking at me... was that spell for reading my thoughts?
Nathaniel raises an eyebrow.
Edgeworth: ...Precisely. It's shed a great deal of light on your refusal to testify.
Edgeworth opens his eyes fully and lowers his badge.
Egmon's eyes widen, then he struggles against his bonds. "Who do you think you are to do something like that?!"
Edgeworth pockets his badge and crosses his arms. "Someone for whom truth represents, among other things, the power that makes justice possible. Am I to understand that you've witnessed firsthand what happens when the law attempts to operate without it?"
Egmon: Hey, that's personal!
Edgeworth spreads his arms, shrugs, and shakes his head. "Hardly. The motivation you allegedly had for arming yourself in the first place contrasts with the opinions of the general public of Zilargo. The apparent rarity of weaponry in this city is consistent with a general belief that self-defense is unnecessary in the context of the Trust's existence. Ergo, I would instead argue that your weapon's very presence is a bold announcement of your beliefs!"
Edgeworth looks to the others. "Search the body for any means by which a knife might have been concealed."
Edgeworth looks back to Egmon with a smirk. "Is it so surprising? I did just say that truth is a prerequisite to justice, did I not?"
Althea motions for Nathaniel to keep tabs on Egmon before heading back to the body for a somewhat more thorough search.
Egmon: I... didn't think you actually...
Althea focuses on a particular area near the back of the victim's coat after a few moments, prodding a bit, then carefully reaching around and feeling along the inside, while trying not to disturb the body too much.
Edgeworth: If I weren't firm in those beliefs, what I did would not have been possible.
Althea eventually extricates an empty knife sheath from hidden folds within the fabric.
Egmon peers suspiciously at Edgeworth. "So that was a holy symbol of some kind? I've never seen one like that before."
Edgeworth grits his teeth at the reference to his badge as a 'holy symbol'.
Nathaniel: "Of some kind", yes. And no one has seen its like until recently...
Althea: Well, he certainly was prepared to bring a knife with him...
Edgeworth turns to Althea, eager to turn to a more comfortable subject for him. "That lends credibility to the circumstance this... person thought others would find implausible, then."
Egmon lowers his head. "...Egmon. Egmon Niralamba Santiar."
Edgeworth nods. "Miles Edgeworth."
Althea proceeds to retrieve and examine the victim's identification papers, eyes widening as she looks over the contents.
Althea: It would seem our victim is Talbo Santor d'Sivis...
Edgeworth looks to Althea with a serious expression. "A relative of Belgiwig, then?"
Althea: ...Indeed. I can't say I look forward to having to deliver this news in particular...
Egmon: But it doesn't make sense — why would Talbo attack me? Obviously the Trust hates me enough to let him, but that doesn't explain why he'd do it in the first place.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "The evidence thus far at least appears to support your implicit claim of justified self-defense."
Althea: Though it certainly does raise the question... if he brought a knife to the scene, but died in trying to use it... who would remove it from the scene and why?
Edgeworth: Presumably, someone who wished to see the defendant regarded as a murderer or the victim as entirely blameless.
Egmon blinks owlishly at the word 'defendant'.
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Then again, I suppose that term is inappropriate to the setting."
Edgeworth: Once more, force of habit would seem to transcend language barriers. It's still strange how naturally Common comes to me now...
Althea: Even if the Trust did have some particular motive against him, they'd hardly need to arrange to cast suspicion in such a way...
Egmon: Right — if they just wanted to kill me, I'd be dead. I'd rather be dead than whatever they're planning if they let this happen...
Althea: So that would at least seem to point to the involvement of some other party in this whole mess...
Edgeworth smirks. "Indeed. It's rather ironic how at times, one's own efforts to disturb a crime scene can be self-defeating."
Edgeworth looks to the ground. "Though however it was accomplished, the tamperer was careful — I see no sign of a third party's passage."
Althea stands and backs away from the body. "If you can give me a little while, I'll try to see what I can find out myself about the events that transpired here."
Edgeworth: I suppose her claim from the morning after that nightmare is to be put to the test now...
Edgeworth: Very well.
Althea closes her eyes and concentrates, drawing on her powers and beginning the slow process of opening herself to the impressions of her surroundings.
Egmon stares at Althea, then looks back to Edgeworth. "What do you hope to get out of this, anyway?"
Edgeworth: While I have my suspicions concerning Althea's motivation, I don't presume to speak on her behalf.
Edgeworth smirks. "As for myself, don't be too quick to assume that a foreigner would seek to put others in their debt the way the Zil would."
Edgeworth glares. "My only concern is that the truth be brought to light. That, and that alone, is the path that leads to justice — and to allow an unjust resolution to a crime is to defeat the purpose of criminal law!"
Egmon frowns at Edgeworth. "Justice? Safety is all Zilargo believes in."
Egmon looks to the ground. "I... just know better than to think the Trust can always do it... which is why I... I just wanted to be ready to protect myself and those around me if they fail..."
Tikra: ...True safety may be mere illusion... but whatever security we have is what we provide for each other... and this place provides far more than many can hope for...
Nathaniel gives Tikra a strange look briefly, but returns his attention to Egmon, frowning. "Unfortunately, it would seem somewhat difficult to dispute such assertions in the face of what we've just witnessed..."
Edgeworth: A truly safe world is an unattainable ideal. People are imperfect; moreover, the hearts of some of them are like flint. Furthermore, the more that is done to delude people into thinking perfection is attainable, the more suffering is caused and ignored by those so fooled!
Edgeworth's glare grows harsher still. "While I cannot claim that justice is foolproof either, I will prove once more that it exists and is desirable — regardless of what the truth in this particular case turns out to be!"
Illyvalen draws in sight of the park, apparently trying to hurry, just in time to hear Edgeworth launch into his latest diatribe. "Waaah!" Startled, she jumps, losing hold of the tarpaulin she's carrying, which unfurls as it catches the air when beginning to fall. As she lands and tries to balance without falling over, the tarred canvas descends upon and around her.
Edgeworth blinks at the cry, then looks over his shoulder in time to see the results. "...I see that you've returned."
Edgeworth rubs his temple as he turns back to the others. I sorely hope that she doesn't remind me of a certain detective again.
Nathaniel shakes his head slowly. "You could try not to shout so much."
Tikra makes her way over to Illyvalen and helps extricate her from the tarpaulin as best she can while still holding the sword.
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Anyway, we ought to continue our efforts, particularly if Althea's are going to take very long."
Egmon stares at Edgeworth. "...You'd better know what you're doing by chasing justice around here..."
Egmon adds bitterly, "Being just is the last thing on the Trust's mind, after all."
Illyvalen and Tikra together manage to get the tarp laid out, Tikra finally relinquishing the murder weapon now that it can be done relatively safely.
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. "Given the degree of confirmation we already have that Mr. Niralamba stabbed the victim, we ought to turn our focus toward the presumed missing knife — specifically, how such an object could have been removed from the crime scene without disturbing it in the process."
Egmon stares at Edgeworth. "You're a spellcaster and you can't guess that?"
Edgeworth: Er, well...
Illyvalen: Um, he's still learning...
Nathaniel: Judging from the size of the sheath, I suspect that manipulating it with Prestidigitation would be possible, but difficult and very risky. Mage Hand would work well, though, and is weak enough that by the time we arrived detecting it would have been beyond our means.
Nathaniel: Pass without Trace would also provide such potential, were we dealing with a druid or ranger.
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. Perhaps it isn't just the truths I've been lured to that are obscured to a greater degree than I'm accustomed to.
Edgeworth: That being said... In short, our unknown third party is most likely a spellcaster himself.
Edgeworth: Unfortunately, in such a place as this that gives us little direction.
Nathaniel: Most likely an arcane spellcaster, aside from the aforementioned alternatives. And yes, that may not narrow things down all that much, given that bardic training is fairly common here, and even magewrights can use the needed spell.
Edgeworth: Then perhaps we ought to consider the other unanswered question — if, as Mr. Niralamba asserts, our victim was attacking, then what would motivate him to do so?
Nathaniel: Not to mention, why would he be allowed to in the first place?
Edgeworth's expression hardens again. "Two of you have spoken of the Trust's permission by now."
Nathaniel: ...One simply does not assault another within our borders. Anyone ignorant or unmindful enough to consider trying... will be appropriately warned. You generally only get the one, so you'd best act on it.
Egmon growls, "Even if they've made a mistake..."
Edgeworth: Is this "Lalitamah" he was thinking about before someone who was given an unwarranted warning?...
Edgeworth: I presume there are... consequences for not doing so.
Nathaniel: The immediacy may vary depending on circumstances, but inevitably yes.
Edgeworth: ...Given the absence of courts in this country, am I to understand that such consequences come in the form of immediate punishment?
Nathaniel: ...Threat elimination would probably be a more concise way of putting it. The means of achieving it may vary greatly, but whatever it may take to neutralize the threat one poses, typically before it can manifest as such.
Edgeworth attempts to keep his fuming inside, though one could still swear that the temperature in the area just dropped. Do they truly believe themselves so infallible that they need not expose themselves to the eyes of the public or verify whether their intended actions are just?! Our killer seems as though he has reason to believe they aren't so perfect...
Edgeworth looks to Egmon uneasily. However, it seems inappropriate to ask further questions about that person in a place such as this.
Edgeworth: Thus the references to "permission" — clearly, if this occurred, the Trust had a reason to allow it to play out despite its spectacular nature.
Tikra: ...and apparently to allow you to observe it.
Egmon: I'm t-telling you, they hate me. They want to see me suffer!
Nathaniel: At the cost of this level of potential public unrest? They have a lot of quieter methods of inflicting suffering, should it be required...
Edgeworth looks to Tikra. "Do we know that to be the case?"
Edgeworth: I've yet to see any evidence that there's any connection between the fact that the incident occurred and the fact that I was nearby to discover it.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Unless, that is, you're suggesting that the Trust has the means to cause an entire crime scene to vanish in mere minutes?"
Nathaniel: In a manner of speaking, yes. It would not take a significant amount of time to erect an illusion preventing most passers-by from noticing.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Even if I take you at your word on that, such a possibility only addresses half the assertion. Do we know that I was the one meant to see it?"
Tikra: There are predictable consequences to allowing you to see it. Should those consequences not be desired, it is unlikely you would be allowed to witness it at all.
Illyvalen fidgets nervously.
Edgeworth's eyes narrow. Does she mean to suggest, then, that I would have been warned away from such a scene as this?
Edgeworth: I suppose that's plausible, though hardly decisive. We have more immediate matters to address, however. First, we ought to see to Mr. Niralamba's containment in the short term; being forced to bring him wherever we go would be rather inconvenient.
Egmon looks both disturbed and puzzled.
Nathaniel: I hope you're not suggesting we tie him up and leave him in one of our dorm rooms or something...
Edgeworth blinks. "Are there no prisons in this country either?"
Tikra: There are not.
Edgeworth: What, then, becomes of those whose intended crimes rise above those they choose to ignore but are not so severe as murder?
Edgeworth frowns. Perhaps that's a question best left unasked in polite company...
Egmon glares up at Edgeworth. "I can't enchant you, if that's what you're thinking. I only have ordinary gnomish magic; I'm not a magewright or anything. I'm probably the only blacksmith in the city who isn't!"
Edgeworth: That wasn't my concern, but he at least seems honest in his assertion.
Nathaniel: Hmm... Niralamba... you were one of the major suppliers for the export of metal armaments from Korranberg during the war, were you not?
Edgeworth points to the now-wrapped sword. "That is allegedly some of his own work as well."
Nathaniel: His reputation in mundane metalcraft is well-earned, but as he says, he does not have the arcane training most such artisans would rely on to assist their craft.
Edgeworth: Arcane magic must be widespread indeed. It may be difficult to track down whoever tampered with the scene...
Edgeworth shakes his head... "Anyway, if this country is so lacking in the usual structures of justice, I suppose there's nothing for it — if we're to be certain of the safety of those around Mr. Niralamba and of the man himself, we don't have any choice but to bring him with us."
Edgeworth: Ironic that we have among us a blacksmith whom we couldn't simply ask for a pair of handcuffs.
Egmon grits his teeth.
Illyvalen: Bring him where, though? How do we even begin dealing with something like...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his temple. "I'm aware of two leads. One is the obvious question of why our victim would apparently attack Mr. Niralamba, as the evidence suggests the possibility of."
Edgeworth spreads his arms. "The other is to look further into our prisoner himself."
Edgeworth: Either way, we'll undoubtedly be questioning people — whether other members of House Sivis or those close to Mr. Niralamba.
Nathaniel: Assuming "we" all stay this deeply involved in what could well be a foolish and messy affair.
Tikra: ...I would hear the seer's counsel before such a judgment.
Edgeworth: I, for one, am all too used to messy affairs. If you wish to distance yourself from such proceedings, however, I won't demand your cooperation so long as you're clearly unconnected to the case.
Illyvalen looks back and forth between Edgeworth, Nathaniel, and Tikra, seeming more than a bit overwhelmed.
Edgeworth's expression firms. "Even if I'm forced to act alone, however, I shall see to it that the whole truth of this matter grows clear. To deal with such a situation as this before knowing that would be foolhardy."
Nathaniel shakes his head slightly. "I think you're just asking for trouble."
Illyvalen: I... I, uh... I'll go. I dunno if I can be much help, but you shouldn't have to be alone...
Edgeworth nods in acknowledgement, coming close to smiling in the process. "Thank you, Illyvalen."
Edgeworth then looks to Tikra. "I presume you'll be keeping watch over Althea?"
Tikra nods solemnly. "I shall inform her of what has transpired when she has completed her vision."
Edgeworth bows. "Your assistance is most appreciated."
Egmon: And you think you should decide what happens to me for now?
Edgeworth crosses his arms as he looks back to Egmon with a frown. "Under the circumstances, I don't believe it to be wise to leave you free and unattended. Someone needs to prevent you from doing anything foolish."
Edgeworth smirks. "Whom else would you have us entrust your safety to? The usual arrangements are inadequate in your view, are they not?"
Egmon's eyes widen.
Edgeworth takes out his organizer and pen, then begins to write down what he knows so far...
Egmon looks up at the strange notebook.
Edgeworth begins to put them away, pauses, flips to a whole other part of the organizer, and then begins to write something else...
Nathaniel takes note of the unusual item as well.
Nathaniel: So, this is an example of your non-magical artifice, is it?
Edgeworth looks up from his writing briefly. "A minor example, yes."
Edgeworth: I wouldn't be surprised if a clockmaker could create something similar.
Edgeworth finishes writing, then puts his writing implements away.
Nathaniel shrugs. "Perhaps, should a commission from a sufficiently wealthy and eccentric patron prompt it. It does seem convenient, if rather extravagant."
Edgeworth shrugs. "In my own world, it's rather ordinary due to the methods of mass production we've invented."
Egmon stares. "Wait a minute... are you that 'atheist cleric from another world' the rumors are talking about?"
Edgeworth smirks. "Precisely."
Nathaniel: Indeed so.
Illyvalen: Yeah, he knows other languages and everything.
Edgeworth: To think the day would come when I would answer to such a label as that...
Egmon shakes his head. "What a way to meet someone..."
Nathaniel shrugs. "I can't say I would recommend it on the one hand, but it sounds like the basis of a pretty good story on the other."
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. Nor can I recommend being the subject of such a tale.
Edgeworth: In any case, we shouldn't tarry any longer. First, would one of you be qualified to take blood samples from both the sword and the body? We may yet need that additional proof in the long term.
Illyvalen blinks, glances toward Althea, then to her own bag. "Um, I should have some containers..." She begins gently sorting through the contents.
Edgeworth: Excellent; thank you. Next, I believe the lead we ought to follow first is the question of our victim's motive, given that it's more directly connected to the case.
Edgeworth: Can anyone recommend a place to go to speak with other members of House Sivis?
Illyvalen looks up from her bag after drawing a glass vial from it. "Uh... there's the Sivis enclave..."
Nathaniel: ...I somehow doubt the House's main enclave will welcome a group of strangers showing up with someone who killed one of their members and asking them to tell us why he maybe provoked it...
Nathaniel: It'd probably be a good idea to figure out which guild he's from, at least. That should be in his papers.
Edgeworth nods and opens the wooden holder... "The Speakers Guild."
Illyvalen begins to carefully gather a small amount of blood from the victim's body, placing it within a vial and stoppering it.
Nathaniel: That narrows down the victim's profession a little. The Speakers Guild is best known for the message stations handling communications all across the continent, but also includes interpreters, heralds, diplomats, mediators, attorneys and similar professions.
Edgeworth blinks at the mention of attorneys. A victim associated with the branch that would need to tolerate my presence if I'm to establish myself in this world...
Edgeworth brings his finger to his temple. "I would consider asking Belgiwig, but I understand that he's a rather busy man — to say nothing of his default mode of communication."
Meanwhile, having securely packed away the first vial, Illyvalen unwraps the tarpaulin with Tikra's assistance and begins collecting a sample for the second vial.
Edgeworth looks to Egmon coolly. "As for those closer at hand... you sounded as though you recognized the victim. I don't suppose you'd be willing to enlighten us?"
Egmon frowns, looking suspicious.
Edgeworth's expression grows more neutral. "Mr. Niralamba... if you are, in fact, honestly nothing more than someone who used more force than was necessary in the heat of the moment in order to defend yourself, cooperation will only benefit you in the long run."
Edgeworth: Certainly, there will be consequences for your actions, but the nature of those consequences will depend on the nature of the circumstances. It's not my desire to accuse you of more than you've done, nor for you to suffer beyond what you deserve.
Edgeworth half-frowns. "Perhaps that's a foreign concept here, where so few things are considered crimes and so few punishments are allowed for."
Egmon: It's not foreign to me, you're just delusional.
Edgeworth's face contorts in anger. "I-I beg your pardon?!"
Egmon: You can't control my fate! To do that, you'd have to control the Trust!
Egmon looks to the ground bitterly. "It's already been pointed out how you're dancing to their tune as is. Besides, look how far I got in trying to have any control over my own life..."
Tikra: What alternative course would you suggest?
Egmon: Turn away... and let me die in peace.
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! To fail to act would solve nothing! With the truth behind this incident lost, can we be certain that anyone else who bears a share of responsibility for it will answer for their crimes?! You've alluded to knowing what happens when the Trust acts in error — and given that it acts in the shadows with no true oversight, we cannot know whether they'll err again or whether the actions they choose to take will accomplish anything desirable!
Illyvalen: I... don't want to see people die... if I can help it...
Tikra: If you truly have no reason to remain alive... then perhaps I have wronged you greatly. However, it may be wise to consider... whether there is anyone else for whose sake you should continue to live.
Edgeworth: There was a name he thought of twice — someone by the name of "Lalitamah"... though I know not whether this person lived or died.
Illyvalen winces and looks sympathetically toward Egmon. "Sorry..."
Egmon looks confused. "Sorry for what?..."
Illyvalen: Er, um... your loss.
Egmon pauses, then shakes his head. "All I lost was my belief in the lies we live under. My wife is still alive... but it wouldn't be fair to her, would it?"
Edgeworth: Nor would allowing the situation to progress further unquestioned be fair to the memory of whatever erroneous tyrrany she was subjected to.
Edgeworth: To think that a mere three years ago, I would have failed to comprehend the problems being discussed here...
Egmon sighs. "Fine... Talbo is a message station worker. I don't know him that well, mostly that he and Chidellof Vadin Chivarach were finally going to marry. He works at the northern message station, not far from the lightning rail stop."
Egmon practically spits the name of Talbo's fiancée.
Edgeworth's eyes narrow. It sounds as though he knows more than he wishes to share, though I'm in no position to prove such a thing as yet.
Edgeworth smirks. If my hunch is correct, however, this may be a fine opportunity to pursue two leads at once.
Edgeworth lifts his finger to his temple, still smirking. "It seems rather more likely that someone that close to the victim would understand what might drive him to an act of violence than his co-workers. Wouldn't you agree?"
Nathaniel: They might also be comparatively less willing to divulge such understanding than those less close...
Egmon looks sour.
Edgeworth shrugs, spreading his arms. "I shouldn't need to resort to the same method I did earlier to deal with such a thing. We have evidence and information to work with now; any contradictions should be apparent."
Egmon: Just don't bring me into her sight. Once she hears what happened, she'll want to return fire herself.
Tikra: ...and you have reason to believe she will be allowed?
Egmon mutters, "It wouldn't be the first time she's gotten away with it."
Edgeworth frowns dourly.
Having established a primary lead, Edgeworth heads off with Egmon and Illyvalen in tow, while Tikra and Nathaniel both remain behind, awaiting the completion of Althea's efforts.
Nearly fifteen minutes pass in relative silence as Althea pursues visions of recent significant events until satisfied that she has exhausted the relevant impressions available. Focusing once again on her surroundings, she takes note of the diminished size of the group.
Althea sighs and shakes her head. "Let me guess, he got tired of waiting for dubious so-called 'evidence' and took off already?"
Tikra nods. "Despite his reluctance to cooperate with our extraplanar visitor's methods, particularly given the Trust's tacit approval, the blacksmith admitted to his knowledge of the victim's profession and familial circumstances."
Nathaniel: Illyvalen went with him, I believe they were headed to see his fiancée, a fearsome woman by the name of Chidellof Vadin Chivarach.
Tikra: He seems to fear that she would be permitted to assault him in retribution, and has asked that she not be allowed to see him.
Althea frowns. "If that's the case, Illyvalen would have to..." She suddenly puts a hand to her forehead, rubbing lightly as if suddenly experiencing a headache. "Edgeworth is going to question a grieving widow. Alone. ...This does not sound like it's going to end well."
Nathaniel: As much as I dislike the thought of leaving Illyvalen to deal with something like this, I'm not sure it's wise to become further involved in a mess like this. Your friend is asking for trouble at this—
Althea: Save it for later. We need to get back to the others before things get out of hand.
Nathaniel: They already are out of...
Nathaniel trails off as Althea takes off on her own. Tikra spares a glance at each before following Althea, leaving Nathaniel to sigh and shake his head before reluctantly pursuing the others.
The residential quarter for Korranberg's permanent, non-student residents takes half an hour to reach; already, the light from the bound-elemental lanterns is obvious due to the sky being so dim. At Egmon's direction, the group approaches a small but well-maintained house with an iron fence encircling it.
Egmon: ...I should wait out here.
Edgeworth stops his approach. "Then I'll need Illyvalen to remain with you."
Edgeworth looks to the linguist.
Illyvalen: Um, okay...
Edgeworth frowns disapprovingly, crossing his arms. "Is something the matter?"
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. One doesn't need any unusual assistance to see through such a tone as that.
Edgeworth's glower deepens.
Illyvalen cowers slightly.
Edgeworth: If you have a worthwhile concern, it ought to be shared.
Egmon: Aren't you being too hard on her? She's trying to help you with this headlong charge of yours.
Illyvalen: Uh, um, uh, well... I mean... uh, what exactly should I do if he... or if someone... uh... I mean... if something happens, or...?
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head. "If nothing else, you have a well-exercised set of vocal chords, do you not?"
Illyvalen: Uh, yeah...
Edgeworth: Then if nothing else, you can call for my attention if something occurs that you cannot handle.
Edgeworth turns to face the house, but glances back over his shoulder. "Beyond that, I merely expect you to retain a hold on the rope."
Edgeworth nods in gratitude, then passes through the open gate and approaches the front door.
Edgeworth knocks at the door; after nearly a minute, a muscular, cagey-looking gnomish woman with shoulder-length, unevenly-braided rust hair and gold eyes... looks straight out the door, at Edgeworth's legs.
Chidellof: Sorry, but Talbo's not home yet.
Edgeworth: First of all, I don't speak Gnomish. Second, I come bearing bad news concerning him. Lastly, I'm up here.
Chidellof glowers upward, though doesn't seem to be looking directly at any particular feature. "Well, gimme a break, it's a bad day for me, all right?!"
Edgeworth: Strange; I didn't expect her to be blind after what Egmon said.
Edgeworth: May we speak inside? By my understanding, this information is rightfully yours to hear first.
Chidellof: All right, just don't break anythin', whoever you are.
Edgeworth bows while the gnomish woman turns and carefully makes her way down the narrow hall, her arms lazily outstretched to prevent herself from striking obstacles. "Thank you."
Gradually, Chidellof leads Edgeworth to a living room, though unfortunately the furniture is all scaled for gnomes.
Edgeworth seats himself on the rug. "...Unfortunately, Talbo won't be returning. The circumstances are such that I wish to ask you a few questions about him — particularly what might anger him."
Chidellof swings a surprisingly forceful-looking backhand an inch away from Edgeworth's head, prompting him to leap to his feet half a second after it would have been too late.
Edgeworth: Wh-what was that for?!
Chidellof: You're not accusin' Talbo of cheatin' on me!
Edgeworth takes a step backward. "Indeed, I'm not accusing him of anything of the sort!"
Chidellof: Then why else wouldn't he be comin' back?!
Chidellof: And why else would you be askin' about him gettin' angry at me?!
Edgeworth glares at Chidellof. "That isn't what I said! Calm down at once and listen!"
Edgeworth: Your fiancé's body was discovered less than an hour ago at a park.
Chidellof's aggressive stance relaxes momentarily as her eyes widen. "Body?!"
Edgeworth sighs in relief. "...Yes. I'm sorry for your loss, but —"
Chidellof cracks her knuckles. "OK, if the Trust's not removin' whoever did it, I'm gonna and I don't care what they do to me for it!"
Edgeworth: Thus does it grow clear why Mr. Niralamba wished to be nowhere near her...
Edgeworth: It appears to have been self-defense. Therein lies a multitude of questions, particularly given this country's approach to maintaining order.
Chidellof: What, you accusin' him of attackin' someone? That's stupid! Even if the Trust didn't warn him off, Talbo wouldn't know where to begin hurtin' a quasit!
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! If that were the case, then I fail to see why this would be hidden within the coat on his freshly dead body!
Edgeworth kneels down and holds out the knife sheath to Chidellof. "It's roughly a foot in front of you."
Chidellof feels around a bit before laying her hand on the sheath and looking surprised.
Chidellof: Now why in Khyber would he bring that with him? I thought I'd just misplaced that...
Chidellof feels a bit further up the sheath... "Hey, what're you tryin' to pull?! It's empty!"
Edgeworth: Implying that the missing knife is normally kept sheathed in this.
Edgeworth: Indeed — and the reason for that is one question I hope to answer. Am I to understand, then, that this is yours and that you would not normally expect Talbo to carry it?
Chidellof: Well, yeah. Mostly I use it as a normal knife, but I know a bit about how to use it as a weapon. Not that it means much, 'cause I'm armed better than that just by existin'.
Edgeworth: Given the apparent force behind the blow she attempted to aim at me, I believe it.
Edgeworth looks at the gnome uneasily.
Chidellof: But the Trust would think the same as you if they found him carryin' that around! And chances're that if they knew he had a knife, they'd figure out why real quick too. If he wanted to try 'n hurt someone, he wouldn't've gotten that far!
Edgeworth smirks. "Is that so? I've heard allegations that you got further than he did once."
Chidellof's face scrunches up. "Yeah, well, that's different! First off, it was just a punch, and second, it's not like I planned it or anythin'!"
Edgeworth frowns dourly. I doubt there's really such a thing as 'just' a punch from this woman, but otherwise that's all too plausible. I suppose even with eyes in all places, there's little the Trust can do against acts that occur at the spur of the moment.
Edgeworth lifts his finger to his temple for a moment, then smirks. "And the victim in that case was one Lalitamah Niralamba Santiar?"
Chidellof recoils. "H-h-h-how'd you know that?!"
Edgeworth stands and puts the sheath away, then shrugs and shakes his head. "I've met her husband in the course of my investigation — a man who clearly bears no love for you and was, in fact, the one who claimed that you've gotten away with assault in the past. Furthermore, something rather traumatic involving her apparently moved him to lose faith in the Trust and start carrying a sword at all times."
Edgeworth: By your own admission, it's true that you've assaulted someone in the heat of the moment, yet you seem not to fear the consequences of doing so again. Ergo, I propose that you weren't even told to watch yourself — the Trust regarded Mrs. Niralamba as bearing responsibiity for how the incident played out, something her husband regarded as unjust.
Chidellof's jaw drops.
Chidellof: Damn the Six, you're good.
Chidellof: It must've taken a miracle to get Egmon talkin' about what happened to Lalitamah, though.
Edgeworth shifts awkwardly. "Or rather, an act easily mistaken for one."
Chidellof looks thoughtful, then grins. "My turn — you're that 'atheist cleric' from the rumors, right?"
Edgeworth: Indeed. My apologies for not introducing myself thus far. My name is Miles Edgeworth.
Chidellof: And you've gotta know mine already, Mr. Smarty-Pants.
Edgeworth's eyebrow tics in annoyance. "Edgeworth, please."
Chidellof: Hunh, whatever.
Chidellof: So if you're so smart, why don't you do me a favor and tell me why Talbo would feel that way too?
Edgeworth frowns. "That is some of what I hoped to learn by speaking with you."
Edgeworth: I lack leads concerning any motive he might have had for assault.
Chidellof narrows an eye skeptically. "And you're sure some enchanter didn't get to him? The best ones can turn you into a puppet."
Edgeworth: That's a disturbing notion on several levels. However...
Edgeworth: I would imagine that the remnants of an aura that powerful would be readily detectable for some time.
Chidellof: You found him soon enough to be sure of that, huh...
Edgeworth: That I did.
Chidellof: I guess it makes sense. If he'd been there too long, the Trust would've covered it up already — it's embarrassin' 'n all.
Edgeworth: It seems that the enormity of the news is beginning to sink in...
Edgeworth: ...Er, would you prefer some time alone?
Chidellof: I don't wanna be alone, I wanna be in a room with whoever I gotta clock for doin' this to Talbo!
Edgeworth glares. "As I already stated, it appears to have been self-defe—"
Chidellof: Why're you still sayin' that?! Go on, get outta here or I'll show ya how someone small hurts someone big!
Edgeworth recoils, then quickly retreats for the door out.
As Edgeworth makes a hasty retreat from Chidellof's residence, Althea finally rounds a nearby corner and hurries toward the group, Tikra following almost immediately behind and Nathaniel not that long after.
Edgeworth catches his breath.
Egmon shakes his head.
Illyvalen: A-are you okay...?
Edgeworth: Yes, though perhaps only because our witness isn't in ideal shape at the moment.
Egmon blinks. "She isn't?..."
Edgeworth looks to Egmon. "Contrary to what you've previously implied, Chidellof is blind. Furthermore, between that implication and how unused to the condition she appeared to be, I would go so far as to conclude that this is a recent development."
Egmon: Sheesh. Even after what she's done, I wouldn't wish that on her.
Edgeworth: Her eyes, at least, appear outwardly undamaged.
Illyvalen: D-does she need help? I... maybe I should...
Althea: We should probably assess damage done before anything else at this point...
Edgeworth looks over. "Ah, you've finished."
Edgeworth frowns and crosses his arms. "Though I cannot say that I appreciate the vote of no confidence."
Althea: I have confidence in your ability to handle many things. Consoling someone grieving the loss of a loved one is not among them.
Edgeworth grits his teeth, but doesn't argue the point.
Edgeworth: In any case, I learned something of our captive's past, but have yet to learn much about the victim aside from the facts that he lived here as well, Ms. Vadin is highly protective of him, and she finds it inconceivable that he'd draw her knife against another.
Althea nods. "For my part, I witnessed an attacker with a knife charging another person with a sword, missing, and falling to a panicked counterattack from the sword-wielder, dropping the knife... That would seem to corroborate Mr. Niralamba's account and conflict with Ms. Vadin's..."
Egmon sighs in relief.
Edgeworth: Am I to conclude, then, that she cannot discern the identities of those in these intentionally-induced visions of the past?...
Edgeworth: Given the evidence we already have that the people in question were in fact our victim and our captive, it seems that there's little room for doubt concerning the nature of the incident itself. How and why it came to occur in the first place are the open questions.
Edgeworth glances sideways and downward to Egmon. "It should be noted, however, that our captive does have good reason to bear a grudge against Ms. Vadin."
Egmon tenses up again, glaring defiantly at Edgeworth.
Nathaniel: That still leaves unaddressed whether there is any sane reason for us to be involved in all this.
Edgeworth glares at Nathaniel. "From my own perspective, bringing the truth's power to bear on the situation is reason enough."
Tikra looks toward Althea. "...It is difficult to know the nature of the path we walk. I would hear your guidance, should you be ready to offer it."
Althea sighs. "Keep in mind firstly that I speak as a foreigner, with foreign sensibilities. I can't necessarily reconcile the situation with your own social needs or sensibilities..."
Althea: For my own part, I can't turn my back on an injustice either. I don't know that I will agree with Edgeworth on what the outcome should be, nor whether what either of us believe will ultimately affect what actually occurs... but I definitely agree that knowing the truth of the matter is critical to being able to judge and resolve the situation...
Althea: Moreover... as you pointed out, Edgeworth has the Trust's tacit approval. We may not know precisely why, but I think I can venture a guess...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Do tell."
Althea: You're the great enigma, wandering in the land of gnomes. The Trust has its agenda, but it's a broad organization tapping many diverse perspectives and thriving on intelligence gleaned. I suspect their motive in this is no different than that of most of those who have turned their attention upon you: curiosity.
Nathaniel: You can't be serious...
Egmon: What they don't understand, they can't contain.
Althea: And not only is it not clear yet just what Edgeworth represents, but the opportunity to find that out is potentially fleeting. If they deem him a threat, they'd act, but if they're uncertain... the cost of acting hastily could be impossible to measure.
Edgeworth does his best to mask his unease under a glare.
Edgeworth: If they were to conclude that I represented a threat, what would be the likely result?
Edgeworth: I'd rather not imagine that they'd assassinate me for the crime of merely existing.
Althea: ...again, I speak as a foreigner, however knowledgeable... My impression, however, is that unless they felt the threat you represented was immediate and dire... they would probably inform you that your welcome here has expired, and ensure that your departure from the country was uneventful...
Edgeworth feels a portion of the weight upon him lift. "I see..."
Althea: Zilargo puts great stock in safety, but also in being a welcoming environment. "Play by the rules and everything will be fine" is generally a pretty big part of that.
Tikra: And if they wish to see him at work, what of us?
Althea: ...that is somewhat more difficult to say. For what it's worth, given the circumstance, I don't think any of our actions yet have crossed any obvious lines, but it's not my own judgment at issue.
Althea looks to Edgeworth. "Do you generally receive assistance and support when you investigate crimes?"
Edgeworth frowns. "Er, that may depend on your definition..."
Edgeworth: After all, those employed for that purpose all too often fail to meet adequate standards.
Althea frowns momentarily as well. "Would having people to witness and assist be burdensome or interfere with your usual efforts?"
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Aid can be of use. I'm simply not accustomed to reliability in those who do so."
Althea looks to Tikra and Nathaniel. "I suspect that if you act within such a role, you shouldn't be venturing too far outside this tacit allowance. Nonetheless, I cannot advise you with certainty; you must decide how you feel about the risk..."
Illyvalen: I want to help if I can...
Tikra: There is no certainty I could ask or expect from you. I thank you for your insight. If you and Illyvalen have chosen this burden, I will share it with you.
Nathaniel sighs and shakes his head. "I suppose you're right. Besides, this is probably a story whose ending is worth seeing..."
Edgeworth smirks. "Then I hope that you shall all retain the level of usefulness you've demonstrated so far."
Althea: Under the circumstances, this is your investigation, and your call as to what comes next. Do you think it might be helpful for me to talk to Ms. Vadin, though?
Edgeworth: Perhaps tomorrow. At the moment, she almost certainly needs additional time to vent her frustration.
Edgeworth: At the very least, however, we now know of a reason why our captive would wish harm on Ms. Vadin, whether he took any such action or not: she apparently assaulted his wife in the heat of the moment once, only to walk away scot-free while the Trust accused Mrs. Niralamba of provocation of such an attack.
Egmon grits his teeth, fuming.
Althea: Are you proposing the victim's attack may have been retalitory in nature?
Edgeworth taps his temple and grins. "It's certainly a possibility — particularly given that Ms. Vadin appears to have been recently blinded."
Egmon: Hey, w-wait a minute, I didn't...!
Edgeworth glares at Egmon. "Given that possibility and the lack of any hard evidence to the contrary at the moment, we ought to see to finding some form of secure accomodations for our suspect until we know the truth."
Althea: Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of options here...
Edgeworth nods... "As we've already established. It may take us some time to figure out a means of meeting that need."
Illyvalen: Can't we just keep an eye on him or something?
Edgeworth side-eyes Illyvalen. "For the entire night?"
Egmon simply fumes in resentment.
Tikra: Should we take turns keeping watch, such an approach might be feasible, but it is not clear how well-equipped we are to respond to threats either from or against him...
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "It is the police who are trained to handle physical matters in my world, not prosecutors."
Althea: I can handle myself in such a situation, but I might be the only of us who can do very much... It's probably best to try to figure something out...
Althea: One option that comes to mind is simply hiring some muscle, perhaps from House Deneith or House Tharashk. Tharashk in particular might well have people experienced in minding possibly-dangerous captives while defending them at the same time...
Nathaniel: Assistance like that doesn't exactly come cheap...
Edgeworth's brow furrows in irritation. It's rather frustrating not to be able to pay for even basic things, let alone emergency matters such as this.
Edgeworth: To say nothing of disorienting.
Althea: No, but I'm not without means, so long as such a commitment is not too open-ended. I should not want to retain such help for more than a few days at most...
Edgeworth smirks. "Fortunately, I'm accustomed to resolving situations such as these in half a week or less."
Egmon eyes Edgeworth.
Illyvalen: I guess if you think it's necessary, maybe we'd better...
Edgeworth: It would certainly simplify matters a great deal.
Edgeworth: You yourself wondered what you would do if things went wrong, did you not?
Nathaniel: If you're certain you want to go that far...
Althea: It's... probably the best option under the circumstances. ...I just might have to be creative about how I find textbooks the next couple of semesters...
Edgeworth gives Althea a flat look. "So long as your 'creativity' doesn't reach excess."
Althea: While I am serious about not trying to put you in my debt generally, in the case of something like this... well, I would appreciate it if, once your own situation is quite stable, you could share some of the burden of this endeavor... consider it an investment in reducing my need for 'creativity' if you'd like.
Edgeworth nods slowly... "Understood. It should come as no surprise that I'm increasingly frustrated over my inability to pay for such things myself in the first place; deferred payment is therefore acceptable."
Edgeworth glances aside. "I only hope that I won't leave you waiting for very long."
Althea nods. "Don't sweat it too much. This isn't a crippling expense, just a significant one."
Althea: I have my own reasons for being involved, so don't consider yourself on the hook for more than half as it is.
Edgeworth: Very well.
Nathaniel: There's also the question of where exactly we go about watching him all night...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Indeed, a guard addresses only half the problem."
Althea: I suppose trying to use your inn room for the purpose does seem a bit problematic. I suppose I could rent another one, and really only myself and the hired guard would need to be keeping an eye on him...
Althea: It's also conceivable that House Tharashk might have some pertinent resources available beyond mercenaries...
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow.
Althea: Given we're in Korranberg I don't know how much we could expect, but they may have some arrangements for detaining those they've captured.
Edgeworth looks to Egmon coolly. "Additionally, it isn't unheard of in my own world for a suspect to simply be watched within their own home in some cases, though it entails some risk."
Althea: Though that raises the question of whether this is the best time and circumstance to bring his wife into all this, as I presume she would be there as well...
Egmon: ...Yeah, she would be.
Althea: She'll have to find out the situation eventually, but I can understand not wanting it to be in quite this way...
Edgeworth nods slowly. "I must agree, though I certainly anticipate the need to speak with her in time."
Althea looks to Egmon. "Ultimately, you'd know best whether to do that now or later..."
Egmon shifts uncomfortably in his bonds. "She'll be worried about me..."
Edgeworth: I suppose, in such a place as this, anyone in such a position would worry...
Illyvalen: Maybe we'd better go talk to her first then...
Edgeworth: Alternately, we could inform her of the situation after seeing to his accomodations.
Althea addresses Egmon again. "I'm willing to leave that to your discretion."
Edgeworth peers at Althea. "I question the wisdom of allowing a suspect too much discretion."
Egmon glares at Edgeworth.
Illyvalen: But... uh, well... I mean, it is his house and his family...
Nathaniel: There's not much point in dragging him home if he doesn't want to go, if we're going to consider it at all...
Althea: I'm reasonably confident with a competent hire we can keep tabs on him, and I don't see much point in being discourteous when choosing between options that are each viable.
Edgeworth glowers. "Where you see 'courtesy', I see a precarious and premature loosening of bonds on a potentially dangerous man. I insist that we leave him out of any decisions concerning how and where he is to be watched lest we discover that he's planning an escape."
Althea frowns. "I think you're going a bit far, but this is your case... Given that, though, I'd lean against taking him home, though we probably should send someone to notify his wife of the situation..."
Edgeworth nods. "Agreed; she ought to be made aware before we sleep, at the very least."
Althea: At any rate, we may as well find out what our options are at the Tharask enclave.
As the sky comes to be lit only by the currently-visible moons, the stars, and the sparkling yellowish Ring of Siberys, the group arrives at Korranberg's House Tharashk enclave. It isn't one of the city's larger or more impressive buildings, but is stocky, square, and solidly built of grey stone.
Past the manticore-crested front door, there's a small lobby featuring a built-in desk with an orc behind it and some unadorned wooden benches. Various wanted posters adorn the walls along with a corkboard with various notices pinned to it through the use of thin, broad-headed nails.
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple as he takes note of the means of pinning notices to the bulletin board. "Huh." I suppose thumb tacks must either be too impractical to make with this world's current means or too specialized to be cheaply available here, if indeed they've been invented at all.
Althea looks to Edgeworth. "I'm going to find out what our options are. It's probably best if I do most of the talking, as well."
Edgeworth turns to Althea and half-frowns. "Given your superior cultural understanding in this situation, I suppose I must concede the point."
The orc behind the counter raises an eyebrow at that.
Althea nods and heads to the counter.
Orc nods curtly as the halfling steps onto the tiny raised area before the desk. "Who or what can we find for you?"
Althea: Our situation is a little bit unusual, especially given the locale, but our needs are not likely too far outside the kinds of services you provide. We have a potentially dangerous man in our custody; the full circumstances of his situation are still being investigated. We are, however, somewhat under-equipped to keep full tabs on him while that investigation proceeds...
Orc tilts his head slightly. "And he can't just be left to the Trust?"
Althea: There are... extenuating circumstances that would be difficult to explain fully. Suffice it to say, for the moment at least, responsibility has been left to us...
Orc frowns slightly. "Hrm, if you say so... Is he anyone we're searching for?"
Althea: Doubtful; to our knowledge the only crime for which he stands accused is mere hours old.
Orc: A crime? Here? That's more than a little unusual, miss, but I can see why you'd want us over Deneith.
Orc heads over to a filing cabinet and begins to dig through folders...
Orc: We have lots of good folk available depending on how dangerous we're talking.
Orc: Even a couple of minotaur warriors, and even a gargoyle if flying's a problem.
Althea nods. "He's a gnomish blacksmith and is capable of wielding a sword, but our best information indicates he doesn't have magic at his disposal. I wouldn't peg him as an extreme threat, but he definitely bears watching by a competent combatant, of which we have only one at the moment."
Althea: Aside from the matter of manpower, there's also the question of where best to maintain watch over him in the short term. Ultimately, it might be useful if we could detain him somewhere secure for a few days.
Orc scratches his chin. "We do have a couple of holding cells here in case some fugitive's dumb enough to try fleeing here. Both of them are empty right now, but I'm not about to let you just use our resources for free, either."
Althea: I'm certain we can compensate you fairly for your trouble.
Orc: Thirty galifars a day should cover our trouble and some trainees keeping watch over the cell.
Althea considers this thoughtfully. "That may well address our needs..."
Edgeworth frowns. "Would trainees be sufficient in the worst case scenario?"
Orc looks over at Edgeworth. "There'd be two of them on the job at a time, mister. I don't know if it's the same up in the towers somehow or not, but out in the field, we know how important it is to watch each other's backs."
Althea glances at Edgeworth with a hint of annoyance. "I realize you may be accustomed to working with people of dubious competence, but we're talking about House members here."
Orc's eyes show a glint of pride at that.
Althea: Moreover, there's a limit to how dangerous we can presume him to be; our resources are limited, and the available evidence suggests he's not someone of extraordinary capabilities. Even if he does have the skill to attempt an escape from a cell, we haven't seen anything to suggest he would be a threat to armed guards, particularly without his weapon.
Edgeworth glances aside. "Point taken. Moreover, this would certainly be a far more controlled situation than someone merely accompanying him would be facing."
Orc: Mrm. I'd think someone who could deal with that would run you at least fifty a day.
Althea: I would think. And we'd still need to deal with the lodging situation on top of that.
Orc: If you're that worried, though, fifty a day would also get you one of our cells with some slightly better guards, skilled but inexperienced. We can't really afford to have anyone better than that guard someone like this guy sounds.
Edgeworth smirks. "I have little doubt that such an arrangement would suffice."
Althea frowns at Edgeworth, but nods slowly.
Althea looks back to the orc at the counter. "Assuming there's no issue with our speaking with him occasionally while he's detained here, should further questioning prove necessary, I think that arrangement would accommodate our needs."
Orc grins and picks up a pen. "Then let's finalize things and you can bring him in."
Once Egmon is brought in and locked up, Edgeworth asks for the suspect's address. As it happens, Egmon's home is on the top floor of his shop, which is not all that far from the crime scene. After brief discussion of the situation, the others head back to their dorms for the night, while Edgeworth and Althea make their way back to the area.
Upon arriving, they note that the atmosphere is back to something resembling normal; apparently, there's been some cleanup or coverup at the park since they investigated the scene. Egmon's residence turns out to be accessable only by a set of stairs in the back, with the storefront on the ground floor and the workshop in the basement.
Althea heads slowly up the stairs, looking at the door and taking a deep breath before knocking.
Edgeworth makes his way halfway up the steps himself.
Almost immediately there are quiet footsteps heard and the door begins to open... but only to the point of providing enough space for someone to look outside easily; a thick chain appears to run from a fixture on the inner door frame to somewhere on the door itself, preventing it from opening any further. A gnomish woman with a worried expression peers around the side of the door at Althea. "Yes...? What is it?"
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow at the rattle of the chain being pulled taut.
Althea: Mrs. Niralamba? My name is Althea d'Jorasco. I have some important but troubling news about your husband—
Lalitamah's eyes widen. "Jorasco? Did something happen? Is he hurt?!"
Edgeworth: Given her demeanor, it seems all the more important that I wait until Althea calls attention to my presence before I speak.
Althea shakes her head. "Despite my family association, I am not a healer; my reasons for being here are somewhat more complicated. As for your husband, he is unharmed, but he is unable to return here for the moment. Would it be all right if my associate and I came in? Any further detail should best be discussed in private..."
Edgeworth peers at Althea briefly. Associate?
Edgeworth: Alternately, if it's enough to know that he's currently in a safe place, then we can at your discretion be on our way.
Lalitamah looks around Althea, showing momentary confusion, but Edgeworth speaking up removes it. "Ah... Egmon doesn't like to let strangers in... but I suppose it's all right. Hold on a moment." She closes the door, and a bit of metal rattling can be heard.
Lalitamah opens the door again, this time somewhat more fully. Unlike before, however, this time she seems to holding a knife, albeit not in a particularly threatening manner; if anything, she seems almost embarrassed to be carrying it, though she makes no attempt to hide it.
Edgeworth regards the gnome's demeanor with confusion.
Lalitamah: Um, please, come in...
Althea nods and steps through the door.
Edgeworth climbs the rest of the way up the steps and follows, eyeing Lalitamah all the while.
Edgeworth: Uneasy with the prospect or not, I cannot help but be on edge around a stranger brandishing a weapon...
Lalitamah leads the two to a living room after closing the door, and affixing the end of the chain hanging from the frame to a hook on the back of the door. She sits down in a chair with the knife in her lap, playing nervously with the handle. "Sorry, you were saying about Egmon?"
Edgeworth remains standing. "Are you aware of the incident that occurred in the park nearby early this evening?"
Althea: There was... an altercation... a Sivis heir by the name of Talbo was killed.
Lalitamah blinks. "Talbo? Dead? That's... who would want to...?"
Edgeworth: We're still in the process of determining that.
Althea: His body was found in the park a few hours ago, stabbed with a sword...
Lalitamah's eyes widen. "You don't... you can't think that Egmon...?"
Althea: I'm... sorry to say that based on the evidence, there's little doubt that Egmon struck the blow in question...
Lalitamah: But... he wouldn't... he only wanted to protect...
Edgeworth: ...So we're aware. Indeed, the blow in question was a counterattack; he killed in self-defense.
Lalitamah: Talbo attacked him...? What could possibly... has that woman's madness spread...?
Edgeworth: As near as I can determine, "that woman" has been blinded recently, which raises fundamental questions.
Lalitamah: Do you think that's a symptom?
Edgeworth peers at Lalitamah. "I beg your pardon?"
Lalitamah: You know, of whatever is making her crazy.
Althea rubs her forehead slightly. "I think he was thinking more along the lines of motive."
Edgeworth: Er, yes. The question of how she became blind may lead to the truth behind why Talbo attacked Egmon to begin with.
Lalitamah: Oh. Well, if you need advice on how to talk to her, I definitely can't help you... You definitely need to be careful what you bring up around her, though, especially about her family...
Edgeworth clenches his teeth. "So I've discovered. Had her sight been uncompromised, I have little doubt that you and I would share a common experience."
Lalitamah shakes her head. "There seems to be no understanding or reasoning with her; I don't know how Talbo manages."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Unfortunately, it's now impossible to ask."
Lalitamah sighs and shakes her head. "It's still hard to imagine..." She then frowns. "But if that's happened, then where is Egmon? You said he wasn't hurt, but..."
Althea: For the time being, he's in custody while we investigate the incident. Given the circumstances under which we found him, it's... probably best for his own safety as well...
Lalitamah: His own... why? What happened to him?!
Edgeworth uncrosses his arms and regards Lalitamah with a sober, grim expression. "...That such an incident could occur around him at all... caused him to fear continued life more than death."
Althea nods slowly. "When I found him... he was attempting to fall upon his own sword..."
Lalitamah looks stricken, clenching the handle of the knife in her hand reflexively for a few moments, then glancing at it almost as if noticing it for the first time. A moment later she throws it to the floor, tears in her eyes.
Edgeworth: If it's any consolation, he eventually came to realize that such a course would be unfair to you. Nevertheless, we can't be certain what actions he might take against himself or others, nor what others may do to him, under the circumstances.
Lalitamah takes a moment to find her voice. "...These precautions, these weapons... supposed to protect us... but that's not what they do, it's not what they're really for... why couldn't he..."
Edgeworth glances away uneasily.
Althea: ...I get the feeling he thought he didn't really have a choice...
Lalitamah: ...how... did you even find out any of this?
Edgeworth looks back to Lalitamah. "We discovered the scene of the crime, including the body, shortly after the incident occurred."
Edgeworth glances to Althea awkwardly.
Althea: And tracked your husband by a trail left by his sword...
Lalitamah: Then the Trust really has turned their back on us completely...
Edgeworth pauses, then stands straighter as his face hardens into a glare. "Whatever the truth behind all of this may be, I promise you that I'll find it. It will undoubtedly be unpleasant, but you needn't rely on dubious aid from the shadows."
Lalitamah looks up at Edgeworth, then looks away again. "Even so, what would happen the next time something like this happens? If they're making it obvious they've stopped protecting us, who knows who might do what?"
Edgeworth: That will depend, in part, on the full scope of the role your husband played in the incident. If he defended himself and nothing more, then moving to another country would seem the obvious course.
Edgeworth's glare grows colder. "If, however, it should turn out that Egmon is responsible for Ms. Vadin's blindness, that would entail a provocation."
Lalitamah: A... Another country? But how would... where would we... ...what do you mean, if he's responsible? How would Egmon be responsible for that?
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "It's only a hypothetical scenario, but subjecting her to poison or disease due to his grudge comes immediately to mind. I have neither proof nor disproof that this is the case, only an awareness of the fact that he still resents Ms. Vadin for her assault against you."
Edgeworth frowns as he taps his finger on his arm. "...This is another reason why he must remain imprisoned until we know what the truth of the matter really is."
Lalitamah: She was poisoned? That's hardly the kind of thing Egmon would be involved with. He's a blacksmith, he makes these things to protect us.
Lalitamah gestures to the knife lying on the floor.
Edgeworth: Er, ma'am, I just finished explaining that we don't know whether she was or not. I was merely proposing a means by which he could have done such a thing, whether it's the truth or not.
Edgeworth: It will take time and effort to determine what the truth of the matter really is.
Lalitamah frowns. "It doesn't sound like you're doing that good a job, if you think Egmon blinded her but you don't know how, and you have a Jorasco healer but you don't know if she's poisoned..."
Althea: I'm... not a healer, and I haven't seen or spoken with Ms. Vadin yet...
Lalitamah: Well how do you even know she's blind then? And what exactly are you, anyway, either of you?
Edgeworth uncrosses his arms and rubs his temple. "Because I visited her."
Edgeworth: Why am I struck with the sense of facing an officer upon the stand?
Althea glances at Edgeworth awkwardly, then looks back to Lalitamah. "I'm a researcher from Morgrave University. ...so basically a sort of adventurer, more or less..."
Edgeworth: As for myself... er, normally, I'm a prosecutor. Since my arrival on Eberron, however, I've found myself needing to adapt to the role of a cleric.
Lalitamah: Arrival on Eberron? What, did you prosecute crimes in Daanvi or something?
Edgeworth blinks. "Er..."
Althea: Um, no, not exactly... it's complicated...
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. Unfortunately, I suspect that any attempt to clarify the matter would simply make matters worse to no appreciable gain.
Edgeworth clears his throat. "Anyway, what matters is that my sole duty is to the truth, and the very nature of this world acknowledges this to be so."
Lalitamah stares blankly at Edgeworth. "What are you even talking about?"
Edgeworth pulls his badge out of his pocket and holds it in his cupped hand... Perhaps evidence will be clearer to her than words. At the very least, I desperately hope this is the case!
Edgeworth's expression firms with resolve. Through reason, the truth grows clear. Through truth, justice becomes possible. Through justice, we drive away barbarism!
The room is suddenly filled with pale blue light radiating from Edgeworth's badge, with white and pastel blue clouds fading in and out of existence at random points.
Lalitamah blinks. "Oh, huh... You just mean you're a cleric of 'truth' or something?"
Edgeworth sighs in relief, letting the light fade. "Essentially, yes."
Lalitamah: I suppose if the Trust's decided they're not interested, then anyone who cares to can step in to take their place? ...I suppose there are worse possibilities...
Lalitamah shakes her head. "So instead of 'dubious aid from the shadows,' I have only the dubious aid that stands before me..."
Edgeworth glowers at Lalitamah. I can hardly wait to obtain the social sanction to complement that of the very laws of physics.
Edgeworth's scowl fades as repockets his badge. "In any case, we've only been on the job for a few hours, and in that time, we've arguably learned more about the time Ms. Vadin assaulted you than about the circumstances of the current incident."
Edgeworth: It's been my experience that a full understanding of older crimes can be critically important to finding the truth behind newer ones involving some of the same people.
Edgeworth: However, my understanding of that incident remains incomplete. Would you be willing to discuss the matter?
Lalitamah sighs. "I try not to dwell on it too much, but I suppose it could be important..."
Edgeworth pulls out his organizer and pen.
Lalitamah: I don't really know Chidellof all that well. Mostly I just know about her and Talbo being the kids of well-respected diplomats, Bemmir Vadin Chivarach and Ferramilor Santor d'Sivis.
Althea blinks. "From the Brelish outlands negotiation...?"
Edgeworth looks over to Althea...
Lalitamah hmphs. "If you can call it a negotiation. Whole thing sounded like more of a sacrifice to me."
Althea turns to Edgeworth. "Bemmir Vadin Chivarach and Ferramilor Santor d'Sivis were both Zil diplomats working with Breland during the Last War, after Zilargo shifted from a neutral stance to a direct alliance with Breland. The Brelish outlands negotiation refers to a failed attempt to negotiate a settlement with a rebellious faction in what used to be the western frontier of Breland, and is now the nation of Droaam."
Althea: That effort died abruptly in early 987, when the diplomats on Breland's side of that negotiation were assassinated before they even departed for the supposed negotiation site...
Althea: Ultimately, this left Breland with little choice but to abandon the region, and set the tone for the general political situation with Droaam, as they had essentially established themselves as an entity that could not be approached or reasoned with...
Althea: This is typically cited as one of the biggest reasons why they were excluded from the post-war negotiations that resulted in the Treaty of Thronehold.
Edgeworth nods grimly.
Edgeworth writes, then looks back to Lalitamah. "And for what reason do you believe this was a deliberate sacrifice?"
Lalitamah: Well, what else can you expect out of those monsters? They've been doing stuff like this all the time. The only point of having a 'negotiation' was so that Breland could save face when they had to withdraw.
Althea looks toward Lalitamah, then back to Edgeworth, appearing somewhat confused.
Edgeworth: I cannot expect anything, given that I know almost nothing of this world's history.
Althea: Er, I'm not quite sure I follow. The Daughters' uprising only started in 986, the opportunities for diplomatic contact were pretty limited. Are you referring to something before the rebellion?
Lalitamah frowns, looking a bit confused herself. "Are you sure? I could have sworn I heard something about... well, I mean, you know what their reputation is like."
Althea rubs her forehead slightly. "At the time, little was known about them. This was the incident that largely established that reputation..."
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple in thought, then taps it and grins. "I believe the nature of the assault against you is considerably clearer now."
Lalitamah frowns. "Um... well, anyway, I was just trying to be polite, cause it was a real shame what happened to them and all..."
Althea: It would certainly seem "shame" was a part of the issue, yes...
Edgeworth: And yet, that's precisely the opposite of what Ms. Vadin believed she was hearing, as your interpretation of matters was ultimately a grave insult to the intelligence of the diplomats who agreed to take part in such an endeavor.
Edgeworth points at Lalitamah. "If it had been so obvious what the results would be, then what diplomat in their right mind would agree to such a thing?!"
Lalitamah sounds much less certain of herself anymore. "Well, obviously, someone who had been boxed into a corner and didn't have a choice..."
Edgeworth smirks cruelly. "And is there any reason you would know of such coercion any better than the daughter of one of the diplomats in question?"
Althea: The notion that they could be manipulated into sacrificing their lives in a pointless endeavor is just as insulting, particularly for those of such high station.
Lalitamah has stopped making eye contact at this point, but continues in a quieter voice. "It wasn't pointless, it was just ugly. I mean, they had to get Breland willing to evacuate somehow..."
Althea: If there were any sort of compelling evidence of how badly the Daughters' faction would react to an attempt at diplomacy, you don't think that evidence would suffice to grease the political wheels on that?
Lalitamah: Well... I mean... if it couldn't be made public or something... I mean, you know how messy politics can get in other countries...
Althea rubs her forehead further, not responding for the moment.
Edgeworth: If a failure to reveal a secret would result in the deaths of either citizens or important officials, I find it hard to believe that it wouldn't be revealed.
Althea: Not to mention, foreknowledge would open other possibilities. A foiled assassination attempt could have sent as strong a message as a successful one in these circumstances.
Lalitamah: I... guess that explains how she got so upset anyway...
Edgeworth: Verily. Furthermore, your logic was so deeply fractured that it's entirely possible that the Trust assumed that you provoked her deliberately — hence why you were given a warning rather than her.
Lalitamah: How was I supposed to know all that stuff you rattled off, though? I'm not a scholar.
Edgeworth: What, then, is your occupation?
Lalitamah: I work at the Korranberg Chronicle.
Edgeworth holds his head in his hand.
Althea stares at Lalitamah...
Lalitamah: ...What? I'm not a reporter or anything, I just deliver papers.
Edgeworth: ...Nevertheless, you ought to have a basic understanding of the course of recent events due to your exposure to the paper and those who produce it.
Lalitamah: Well, yeah, I mean, I heard of their parents and all. Just not a whole lot of detail. I just focus on making sure stuff gets delivered on time, mostly.
Edgeworth sighs and continues to write in his organizer.
Althea shakes her head. I find myself suddenly envious of Edgeworth's potential to detect untruths... She seems straightforward, but that's hard to swallow coming from a Zil who works at the Chronicle...
Edgeworth: ...Anyway, I presume the assault must have taken place some time ago given that your husband had sufficient time to learn how to use a sword properly.
Lalitamah: It's been about three years since it happened.
Edgeworth: Were there any witnesses?
Lalitamah: Aside from the Trust? Egmon was there... I remember one other person saw it as well, I think she's a member of the orchestra. Ellymoha Cissot Adredar.
Althea blinks and looks to Edgeworth.
Edgeworth blinks and looks to Althea... The flutist who was nervous for no discernable reason this afternoon...
Lalitamah: Huh? Is... something wrong?
Edgeworth looks back to Lalitamah. "On the contrary, you may well have given us a vital clue."
Lalitamah: ...If you say so.
Althea: It at the least gives us a place to start. Thank you for your time and cooperation.
Edgeworth puts his pen and organizer away and bows. "Indeed."
Lalitamah: Um, one other thing... can I see my husband?
Edgeworth: It would be necessary for us to inform those holding him to allow you to do so, so not tonight. Once you have the necessary clearance to do so, they would likely do whatever is necessary to ensure that you're bringing nothing but your company to him.
Althea: We will be doing everything we can to make sure he's detained no longer than necessary, as well...
Lalitamah: I... see...
Edgeworth frowns sympathetically. "Please understand that we're doing our best to operate within the limitations of the resources available to us."
Lalitamah sighs. "I guess it really could be a lot worse..."
Edgeworth: We'll inform you when the necessary arrangements have been made.
Lalitamah nods slowly.
Edgeworth heads for the door out. "Until then, take care."
Althea follows Edgeworth.
Lalitamah just stares at the knife on the floor...
Edgeworth makes his way down the exterior stairs. "The fruits of that harvest were somewhat harder to earn than average, but for our efforts we have a greater understanding of both Mr. Niralamba's and Ms. Vadin's motivations, as well as the possibility of another involved party having been raised."
Althea closes the door behind her upon exiting. "Mm. It is quite the coincidence for us to have run into the only other witness before even getting involved in this situation..."
Althea: Do you think she was being entirely honest about her disinterest in the information she could glean from her job?
Edgeworth half-frowns. "Absolutely so. I'm all too familiar with those of her... underendowment of intellect."
Althea: I... certainly can't say that I haven't run into unusual cases among the Zil, but... As valuable a job as hers would be to many Zil, I wonder how someone that lacking in ambition landed it...
Edgeworth: It would be far from the first time that I've seen people obtain and keep employment despite themselves.
Althea: I suppose. For that matter, maybe someone actually not trying to actively profit off such a role is itself uniquely valuable?
Edgeworth grins. "Perhaps."
Althea: At any rate, as late as it is, it's best we resumed our efforts in the morning.
Edgeworth: Indeed; otherwise, it's all too likely that I would sleep through dawn...
Edgeworth takes out his organizer and flips to the separate page he wrote on earlier, lapsing into thought as he gazes upon it.
Edgeworth: It's strange. While I had already experienced the sensation of being a conduit for energy when I 'turned' before, as well as that of having spells respond to their rightful place in the world of justice and pursuit of truth through both the use of a wand and the... experience of calling spells to me during communion, to cast a spell personally entailed more than a simple combination of the two.
Edgeworth: Indeed, it seemed almost as though I was doing only part of the work of shaping and controlling the spell I cast to read Egmon's thoughts. Is that impression unique to 'divine magic'? Certainly it would explain why others assume the involvement of a higher intelligence if so, particularly given that the usual sorts of beliefs that enable such potential would tend to result in circular logic of that nature.
Edgeworth writes a bit more on that page.
Edgeworth: After all, the truth behind the incident this afternoon is far from the only truth we're in pursuit of.
Edgeworth: I can only hope that I'm free of such corruption myself...
Given how late the investigation happened to run that evening, once Edgeworth awakens, he has no time to do more than hurriedly bathe, dress, and grab an apple to consume on his way to the Korranberg Archive, a branch of the Archival Foundation beneath a bookstore built at the edge of the Paper Market.
Dil looks over to Edgeworth with a grin as the prosecutor enters the first basement from the formerly-secret staircase. "Good morning. So how was the con—"
Edgeworth doesn't even look at Dil, simply putting some notes removed from his organizer on the table before the seeming half-elf without breaking his purposeful stride across the room to the stairs further down.
Dil blinks. "Something happened, didn't it?"
Edgeworth nods even as he rapidly begins his descent further in. "Indeed."
Dil stares at the visible stairway for a moment after Edgeworth disappears down them... then grins.
Upon reaching the second basement, Edgeworth wastes no time in heading directly to the stairs beneath those that lead into the third, then across the open stone, arch-supported third basement to the stairs down into the fourth.
Edgeworth heads down the hallway past several doors marked with various symbols, only stopping to open one when he reaches the one with no symbol at all. Inside is a room whose walls and ceiling are obscured by an illusion of the sky as it appears outside at the moment.
Edgeworth turns to face east, standing arrow-straight. Altogether too many questions beg to be answered. It's rather irritating that the answers to some can only come through inaction of a sort, and an entire hour thereof at that...
Edgeworth takes a breath. But I'm forced to admit that it's an hour well-spent. I simply need to still myself sufficiently to invest that hour before dawn breaks, lest I miss that vital window of opportunity.
Edgeworth closes his eyes slowly. I need only open myself to the tiny fragment of the truth which is my own responsibility to bear and allow it the opportunity to meet my needs, reserving questions and judgment for later lest I simply face my own prejudices instead...
Edgeworth: It's still strange to consider the value of growing used to such a thing, in a way.
Edgeworth simply shakes his head and tries to force himself to set his thoughts aside for the moment.
Five minutes pass in silence as Edgeworth's breathing slows... until suddenly, when the very first rays of dawn's light peeks over the simulated eastern horizon, the prosecutor gasps lightly. His eyes twitch as though he were dreaming, yet his breathing is if anything calmer and deeper after his initial reaction...
Meanwhile, a handful of minutes before the moment of dawn's breaking, Althea arrives at the Archive with both Illyvalen and Tikra in her company. Despite the inevitable attention Tikra's presence attracts, the three make it down to the first basement without too much fuss.
Dil simply grins at the three, not contributing to the stares or mutterings some of those present in the room react to Tikra with.
Dil: It's interesting to see you two here so early, or your friend here at all.
Althea nods to Dil and takes a seat nearby. "A lot's happened. I might be pulled away here momentarily, so excuse me if any conversation gets interrupted."
Dil frowns. "Because of what happened yesterday morning?..."
Illyvalen glances worriedly at Althea.
Althea: Indeed. It's too soon to know if that was a singular occurrence...
Tikra: There is evidence in favor of such a conclusion; however, we should be prepared for alternative possibilities...
Dil nods... "I didn't hear a lot about it; Edgeworth went to find you as soon as he heard the very basics."
Dil: For that matter, he seemed like he was on a mission when he passed through here a few minutes ago. He left these in front of me and didn't even say hello...
Dil holds up the new notes briefly.
Althea: That likely has more to do with what happened after the concert.
Althea sighs and looks around. "Have you seen Belgiwig today? I'll have to talk to him about this at some point..."
Dil shakes his head. "Not yet, but I think he's supposed to be free this morning. Why?..."
Althea: The matter concerns him on a somewhat personal level, I'm afraid. You... spoke once of witnessing our visitor on a 'crusade'... I regret to say we've stumbled into that very opportunity.
Dil nods, standing from the table he's at and approaching the others. "I thought that might be the case, but it has to do with Belgiwig?..."
Althea: It... concerns a family member...
Illyvalen looks troubled and takes hold of Tikra's arm.
Althea: Last night, after the concert... we found the site of a murder...
Dil's eyes widen slightly. "The Trust let a murder happen?..."
Murmurs and uneasy glances fill the room...
Tikra: And let its aftermath be witnessed.
Dil puts a finger to his lip... "That's really strange... why a murder, of all things?"
Althea: We're still investigating the circumstances...
Dil: But why is it a murder that you're investigating? A theft would have been enough, wouldn't it?
Some of the others in the room stare at Dil for that.
Althea: ...I can't answer that. Not yet. We simply... don't know enough about the situation...
Althea shakes her head. "In any event, I think we're past the critical moment. Doesn't look like a repeat of yesterday morning's incident is an immediate concern any longer."
Althea: Tikra and Edgeworth both helped research that for much of yesterday. It seems there have been a number of such incidents over the course of history, though they involved scrying rather than involuntary visions.
Dil: Illyvalen didn't have a chance to say anything about what happened other than that you lapsed into a vision at sunrise and said 'The prosecution is ready' in English."
Althea nods and takes paper from her own backpack, handing it to Dil. "My side of it is accounted for as best I was able. Tikra has had to fill me in on what others observed from me during the experience."
Dil accepts the notes and looks them over... then smirks. "It matches well, doesn't it?"
Althea: It seems that while thus absorbed, I spoke of a grand trial prosecuted against falsehood, ignorance, and injustice, presided over by infinite truth. ...and of having been called as a witness for the prosecution.
A gnome begins writing things down, while several other people around stare at Althea. Two of those present look to each other briefly, then back to Althea...
Dil is silent in thought for a moment... then begins chuckling.
Illyvalen: ...I hadn't really thought of being a seer as scary before that...
Althea shrugs. "There's danger in just about everything, no use worrying too much about it. And it did lead to some interesting research."
Dil's chuckling dies down. "And an interesting way for that form to show itself."
Althea nods slowly. "He's acknowledged that an agency of his bearing responsibility is at least conceivable, given his sense of being in an 'enhanced state' while praying."
Dil hmms. "But he didn't seem aware that anything like this happened until Illyvalen arrived..."
Althea: And he was quite surprised to find out that I had witnessed part of his communion.
Tikra: You also testified that his summoning of witnesses was autonomous.
Dil: It's almost as if this form is eager to make itself known, now that everything is in place for it to happen.
Althea: Perhaps that also helps explain how rapid his progress has been.
Althea: For that matter, he himself suggested the possibility that what's fixated my visions on him might be analogous to some form of magnetism.
Dil raises an eyebrow.
Tikra: He spoke also of some kind of lightning-enhanced magnet in analogy to the effect of his enhanced state.
Althea: Well, electricity-enhanced, anyway. I suspect they have a more subtle way of gathering and utilizing it, given the absence of elementals and the like.
Dil shrugs. "I guess that's one way of looking at it, anyway. And if you compare knowledge to iron, it even fits with the rest of what we've seen."
Dil: Speaking of his way of looking at things, I think I'm going to have to take you up on your offer of translation help for his description of first contact.
Dil shakes his head. "The ideas from his world he's presenting are just too far beyond me..."
Althea: I can't say I'm surprised. It's difficult to find enough of a bridge between our worlds' respective understanding of science even with as much context as he's able to provide. I have to admit to being more than a bit lost regarding a great deal of it myself...
Althea: It's a shame the sole example of his world's technology he brought with him is something a clockmaker could replicate easily given a bit of time and material; it's the ability to produce such a thing cheaply that's unique to his world, not the ability to do so at all...
Dil: Have you asked?
Althea: ...I'm not sure if I have explicitly, actually... I would imagine if he has he'd be reluctant to part with it, but given the importance he places on knowledge and understanding...
Althea: ...of course, there's no guarantee we'd be able to understand any such device even if we took it apart, and certainly no guarantee that we could put it back together, and very little chance we could repair it if we broke it...
Tikra: There are few guarantees in any worthwhile endeavor.
Althea: Fair enough. It is a lot to ask of him, though. Still... the matter is worth bringing up.
Althea: At any rate, I suspect Illyvalen and I could easily round up a few eager volunteers, given the rarity of the opportunity.
Dil: Though it sounds like you have bigger problems to deal with first.
Althea: Indeed. This could well set back my efforts to get my own obligations wrapped up quickly... Still, we're involved, I can't walk away from something like this any more than he can.
Illyvalen: I... don't know if I can do any good... but I want to help... if it could make a difference for someone else...
Illyvalen shudders slightly.
Althea frowns worriedly but doesn't comment.
Tikra: None of us face this bane alone.
Illyvalen nods to Tikra.
Dil frowns. "If so many of you are already working on this, I don't know how much I can really add, especially given that I'm more prepared for my usual tasks than for an adventure right now..."
Althea shrugs. "It's not like all of us are uniquely suited to the effort either. I'd say it's your call as to just how closely you want to see him at work."
Dil thinks for a moment, then grins. "I think I'd be too tempted to just follow you instead of continuing my work here if I passed on a chance like this."
Belgiwig: Olladra is more of a friend of the Traveler than most have acknowledged since the Schism.
Belgiwig walks over from the door to the stairs up.
Belgiwig: Though I've arrived too late to know what bounty she's offered by chance.
Althea: Definitely something of a Traveler's boon, I'd have to say. ...There is news I must give you, and it might be best to do so in a slightly more private setting...
Belgiwig frowns and nods slowly... "Understood, understood... Shall we fade into the mists now, then?"
Dil: As long as we're waiting, can I copy the notes you shared, Althea?
Dil shrugs. "They make an interesting comparison with how he described communion, as he puts it."
Althea: Be my guest.
Dil grins. "Thanks!"
Belgiwig shrugs. "Paper has infinite patience, I suppose." With that he heads for the stairs down.
Althea follows Belgiwig.
Belgiwig leads Althea down to the second floor, to the end of the hall central to that floor, and unlocks a door covered by an illusion of a wall. At the bottom of the long, dim, cramped staircase beyond it is a metal door; Belgiwig opens this with another key to reveal a gnome-scaled office and seats himself behind the desk there.
Althea takes a seat on the other side of the desk. "...Edgeworth and I attended a concert last night along with a few members of the research team I've been working with at the Library. On the way back... we investigated a disturbance in the evening crowds... and stumbled onto a murder site..."
Belgiwig stares at Althea. "That flies beyond the bounds of laughter..."
Althea: As bizarre a circumstance as it is, it has befallen us. It pains me to have to bear such news... the victim's name was Talbo Santor d'Sivis...
Belgiwig's previously skeptical face slowly contorts into horror...
Althea: I'm... sorry... I don't know how or why this has come to be possible... but I intend to find out... and so does he...
Belgiwig squeezes his eyes shut and briefly clenches his teeth...
Belgiwig shakes slightly, tearing up...
Belgiwig: To th-think... once her e-eyes are res-stored... they still won't s-see what she r-really wants...
Althea blinks, then nods. "She hasn't taken the news well, from what I'm told... ...how long has she been blind?"
Belgiwig: S-since yesterday morning. My duties... were simply grass enchanted in a f-field...
Althea: ...did you hear of anything that might have suggested the cause...?
Belgiwig sniffles. "...my brother... s-said he was w-warned... that Chidellof had been... exp-posed to b-blinding sickness. ...The spell I mean to u-use this m-morning... will wipe away both the weed... a-and its root."
Althea nods and looks grim. "That matches one of the possible scenarios being contemplated, though not enough to draw solid conclusions from as yet..."
Althea frowns suddenly. "...I suppose that would work as well on other sources of blindness, for that matter..."
Althea: There are still a lot of unanswered questions about what's happened... but one thing we are fairly certain of at this point... is that Talbo attacked someone with a knife... and was killed in a counterattack...
Belgiwig glances up from his desk in shock. "What?!..."
Althea: It's possible the cause of Chidellof's blindness is related to the motive for this altercation...
Belgiwig shakes his head in disbelief. "But.. h-he'd sooner turn to Aureon than the Fury... to res-solve that..."
Althea nods. "That was the impression that Edgeworth received when speaking with Chidellof yesterday evening... Nonetheless, he had her knife sheath concealed on his person, and... I witnessed the psychic echoes of his attack myself..."
Belgiwig shakes his head again... "Five words... defeat a th-thousand swords. Chidellof m-might not believe that... but my b-brother... h-he didn't reject it comp-pletely."
Althea: But the two of them both have experience with swords defeating words, don't they...
Belgiwig: Their reactions diverged. Chidellof leaped a barrier... that T-Talbo balanced atop.
Althea nods. "Nonetheless, I wonder if he might have lost that sense of balance... if he perceived an immediate threat to her..."
Belgiwig pauses for a moment to further regather himself, running his fingers through his beard.
Belgiwig: ...Possibly, possibly... he did say he was "warned" of her exposure in his request for me to call Irian's light to her aid...
Althea: I... really regret having to even ask this, but I know Edgeworth will have this concern and I have to agree with the logic of it... it might be best to delay healing her condition until we can determine with some certainty how it was caused...
Althea: We... have a suspect in custody. He... was seemingly left to Edgeworth rather than dealt with by the Trust... It's possible he just acted in self-defense... or it's possible he provoked this very attack...
Belgiwig looks stupified.
Althea: I can find no other explanation than that something about the nature of this altercation is such that they felt it was an acceptable opportunity to... observe how he would behave in this situation...
Althea: ...I wish I had better answers for you...
Belgiwig: But... but h-he... why w-would...
Althea: We don't know... we do know there are some extenuating circumstances regarding the suspect; he has reason to believe that he and his family... are no longer under the Trust's protection...
Belgiwig suddenly glares at Althea. "Then why didn't he die?! Why my brother?!..."
Belgiwig can contain himself no longer, shuddering with impending sobs...
Althea: We... don't know that either... All we know is how the altercation itself played out... and that someone tried to hide evidence of Talbo's attack...
Althea: The knife sheath was found... but the knife had already been removed from the scene when we arrived... most likely by an arcane spellcaster, though a druid or ranger can't be ruled out...
Belgiwig pulls out a handkerchief, covering his hand with it and lowering his head onto said hand such that it covers his eyes...
Althea looks aside. "I can wait outside and see that you are not disturbed, if you wish..."
Belgiwig chokes out, "P-please..."
Althea nods and stands, heading for the door.
Meanwhile, while Edgeworth and Althea are both occupied, Dil solicits Illyvalen's assistance with translating Edgeworth's notes regarding his first experience of casting a spell. By the time Althea has made her way back to the first basement, they've moved on to discussing with Tikra the research on apparent instances of the divine speaking through scryers.
The rest of the hour passes on such subjects. Sunrise comes and goes and its colors fade to those of daytime, something observable not just outside, but in the prayer rooms in the fourth basement as well. Finally, Edgeworth's grey eyes slowly open an hour after dawn's first light, amazement reflected within them.
Edgeworth: To think that there's any reality buried within such an experience as that is still a strange notion to contemplate...
Edgeworth traces a particularly simple three-dimensional rune in the air with one hand. And yet, the evidence lies within me, waiting to be presented at the proper time.
Edgeworth shakes his head, then pulls out his organizer and writes a bit in it. That time, I performed three distinct acts of will at once — replacing the spell I'd cast, retaining one I had yet to cast, and releasing one uncast spell into... that from whence it came only to replace it with a different one.
Edgeworth grits his teeth. I'm certain that I understood in the moment how I was achieving such things, and yet that comprehension has slipped from my grasp!
Edgeworth fumes slightly. Is this one of the factors that contributed to the slow progress of scientific study of this field?
Edgeworth sighs. Certainly there must have been some progress made in understanding the mechanics of this given that the Archival Foundation was able to invent an entirely different form of divine spellcasting. Perhaps once the more pressing concerns at hand are dealt with, I could question Dil concerning the matter.
Edgeworth's expression firms as he heads for the door. But for now, far more material truths await.
Edgeworth repockets his organizer and pen as he heads upstairs...
Once he reaches the first basement, Edgeworth finds Althea, Dil, Tikra, and Illyvalen at the same gnomish-height table, still conversing. Some of the others in the room are making no effort at concealing their eavesdropping.
Edgeworth approaches the table and crosses his arms, tapping his finger as he waits for a good point in the conversation to interrupt.
Althea looks up momentarily, breaking off mid-sentence. "Ah, you're back. I've spoken with Belgiwig briefly, though I'm not sure he'll be in condition to discuss matters further for a while..."
Edgeworth blinks in mild surprise at being addressed in English at this time, even as he takes out his organizer. "Is there something important to discuss?"
Althea: I did find out a few more details. Belgiwig already knew about Chidellof's blindness, which has been attributed to blinding sickness, based upon Talbo receiving a warning about such...
Edgeworth's expression takes on a serious glare.
Althea: He was planning to heal her this morning, using a spell that would remove both the blindness and the underlying illness.
Edgeworth: "Was", implying that you advised him to allow us the opportunity to examine her condition first?
Althea: Much as it pains me to suggest it, I did indicate that it would be wise to delay healing her for now, given that the cause may well be extremely relevant to the situation we're investigating...
Althea: Especially since the spell I believe he has in mind would cure her blindness regardless of whether it is truly from blinding sickness, or induced by other means; moreover, it could potentially erase any trace of the cause of her condition, and would certainly make any such trace difficult to detect.
Edgeworth smirks, though his determination is clear through it. "There's no need for shame in your actions — you've done well. Once the truth is clear, there'll be no need for her suffering to continue; this is but a temporary prolonging."
Althea frowns and looks away. "...it goes against my nature to prolong people's suffering, even if temporarily."
Dil, currently wearing the translation helmet for his work, winces but doesn't comment.
Illyvalen puts a hand on Althea's shoulder comfortingly. "It's okay... we'll just be as quick as we can, right?"
Edgeworth: As I said before, I'm accustomed to resolving situations such as these quickly.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head, smirking. "I simply don't do so by tiptoeing around eggshells."
Dil mutters something under his breath, though both Edgeworth and Althea overhear it: "They aren't your hands to stick into fires for your evidence, you know."
Edgeworth frowns at Dil...
Althea glances at Dil and shakes her head. "Much as it may disturb me on some level, both Chidellof and Belgiwig may have something valuable to gain in terms of peace of mind, should our efforts provide a better explanation for the tragedy than what we could currently offer..."
Illyvalen glances at Dil, then back to Edgeworth and Althea. "Um, what?"
Edgeworth: And I'm entirely confident that they will, so long as we do everything in our power to ensure as much.
Dil shrugs. "Well, I guess not every surprise is pleasant."
Edgeworth looks back to Althea. "Concerning this 'warning', what were you able to learn about it?"
Althea: Not very much. I hope to inquire further once the wound is not so fresh...
Edgeworth briefly looks mildly annoyed, but shakes it off quickly.
Althea: At any rate, once we've squared away arrangements between our suspect's captors and wife, we have two immediate leads to pursue; what evidence we can glean of the cause of Chidellof's condition, and the matter of our outside witness to the... earlier altercation.
Edgeworth removes his new page of notes from his organizer finally while Althea speaks. "Concerning the latter, we would need to find her before we could speak with her. Someone well-acquainted with this city would be best-suited to that task."
Edgeworth hands the small page to Dil.
Althea: I'd imagine Nathaniel might be the best to ask once he's free, he knows who's who in the performing arts world to some extent.
Edgeworth smirks. "If that's the case, then I would imagine so as well."
Althea: Probably best if Illyvalen and I handle meeting with Chidellof. ...and given her reputation, probably best if Tikra is there to back us up as well. I'm hoping to have a further chance to speak with Belgiwig first, but we don't want to delay too long.
Edgeworth puts his organizer away again. "Indeed, there's quite a bit more I wish to know about this 'warning'."
Althea: ...for that matter, we should have someone with us who's prepared to cast Detect Magic...
Dil frowns. "Sorry, I didn't know anything like this was going on last night..."
Althea shakes her head. "No way you could have."
Edgeworth smirks, spreading his arms. "Both that and Detect Poison are available to me at the moment, given the circumstances."
Althea nods. "For that matter, Dil could cast from a scroll if we procured one."
Illyvalen: Um, but Detect Magic wouldn't detect blinding sickness, would it?
Illyvalen looks confused for a moment, but then nods shortly after. "Oh, right."
Althea: I guess the question is whether we're better off splitting up to cover more ground, or sticking together to make sure we can handle anything that comes up.
Dil puts his finger to his lip. "I could replace one of the scrolls from here, though as much as I have to translate it might take a while before I could get to that..."
Althea: I could just buy one from upstairs, for that matter.
Edgeworth crosses his arms, glowering. "If you believe it necessary to exclude me from that branch of the investigation, you could say as much directly."
Althea: Necessary, no. Prudent? Not entirely sure either way. Really, I'd say it's your call. You're the one who's got experience resolving these kinds of situations in mere days.
Edgeworth: Someone should accompany Mr. Salyrria, to serve as an extra set of eyes if nothing else. Under the circumstances, I believe Dil would be the best choice.
Dil half-frowns in disappointment, but shrugs.
Edgeworth raises his finger to his temple, smirking. "After all, I've been a drain on resources as is; it would be wasteful to stand aside at a time when I can, in a sense, pay my own way."
Althea: Hmm... Feels like we're spreading ourselves a bit thin, but it's probably the best we can do under the circumstances.
Edgeworth's expression firms slightly to a businesslike mask. "We should meet back here once we're finished with our respective tasks. With luck, that will allow us the opportunity to speak with Belgiwig again as well."
Dil grins. "I hope I'll at least get to see that."
Althea looks to Tikra. "We're planning to split up a bit. Most of us will be heading to see Chidellof shortly; Dil is going to meet up with Nathaniel and try to track down our other lead from last night. I'm hoping you can back me up in case things don't go entirely smoothly when talking with Ms. Vadin..."
Tikra blinks, then nods. "I will do what I can to assist."
Althea turns back to Edgeworth. "I'll need a couple of minutes to let Nathaniel know what's going on."
Edgeworth: Very well.
Dil departs for the library district to meet up with Nathaniel, while the rest of the group pairs off to see to Lalitamah's visitation rights; Althea and Tikra head to the Tharashk enclave, while Edgeworth and Illyvalen head to Egmon's place to meet with Lalitamah. Once things are arranged at her end, Althea mentally contacts Edgeworth to inform him of the arrangements made, only to learn from him through the fleeting channel established that Lalitamah wasn't home to discuss the matter with but they'd slip a note under the door. Once that's done, the two groups meet at the gate of Chidellof's house as planned...
Althea looks at the rest of those gathered. "So, we know that Ms. Vadin is... sensitive to certain things at the best of times, and this is not the best of times by any stretch of the imagination. We need to all be mindful of our attitudes, behavior and speech..."
Tikra silently nods.
Illyvalen: Um... I'll try to be careful...
Edgeworth nods grimly. "Failure to do so could prove quite literally painful for us, should she correctly judge our position."
Edgeworth glances aside. "It's a wonder that she's managed to get by in such a culture as this at all."
Illyvalen cringes slightly.
Edgeworth: I certainly wouldn't expect Franziska to be tolerated for long, after all.
Althea: I'm hopeful that won't become an issue, but Tikra and I will be as attentive as possible should things prove riskier than anticipated.
Edgeworth looks to Althea. "I presume you wish to lead the conversation, so you ought to be the one to knock."
Althea nods and walks up to the door, knocking twice.
Edgeworth follows Althea silently.
Tikra and Illyvalen follow Edgeworth, the latter still looking a bit nervous.
Chidellof opens the door after a long moment... and looks far over Althea's head. "Are you here to start accusin' Talbo of stuff he'd never do again?!"
Althea: I'm sorry to disturb you so soon after you've received terrible news, Ms. Vadin...
Chidellof blinks, then lowers her head to face Althea with an irritated but unfocused expression. "Yeah, well, it'd better be important, whoever you are!"
Althea: My name is Althea d'Jorasco. I'm an acquaintance of Belgiwig, by way of the Archive. ...I also was among those who witnessed the scene of Talbo's murder...
Chidellof grabs Althea's arm. "Witness?! Well, come on in and tell me what happened already!"
Edgeworth's eyes widen.
Tikra is at Althea's side almost instantly, but ultimately simply follows the two quietly once it's clear Chidellof's sudden movement is not an attack.
Illyvalen looks back and forth between Edgeworth and the others.
Edgeworth frowns, shrugs with a shake of his head, and follows the others in, gesturing for Illyvalen to do the same.
Illyvalen follows Edgeworth.
Chidellof all but drags Althea down the hall and into the living room, releasing her next to a gnome-scaled couch.
Chidellof: So how'd he really die and who've I gotta teach not to do that?
Edgeworth rubs his forehead.
Chidellof: And who's the bunch that followed us in anyway?
Althea: We're... still investigating the full details of what led up to the incident... I can tell you about what I saw, though it may not answer all your questions... The others here were with me when we reached the scene. Tikra helped me apprehend the suspect, and the others aided in other ways...
Edgeworth takes a moment to write a note in Common on one page of his organizer, then hand it to Althea.
Chidellof directs an attentive glare in Althea's general direction, cracking her knuckles in anticipation.
Althea reads the note quickly and nods before continuing. "When we first reached the scene, your fiancé was already dead... a trail of blood allowed us to apprehend our suspect and the likely murder weapon. While I would normally wish to be somewhat discreet on a point like this, given the details that is probably futile... the weapon was a longsword, and is consistent with the injury that was sustained..."
Chidellof: A longsword? After the war like this?! There's only one guy I know who carries one o' those!
Althea: That does tend to single him out somewhat, yes... we are still trying to piece together questions regarding motive...
Chidellof: That 'atheist cleric' the rumors are talkin' about showed up sayin' Talbo must've attacked first! Can you believe that?! I mean, sure, the smarty-pants figured out what happened three years ago and then there was the sheath, but c'mon!
Edgeworth stares at Chidellof awkwardly.
Althea: While I might fault his manner, I regret to say that that claim... does seem to be supported by evidence thus far discovered...
Chidellof throws a punch at Althea... or rather, where Althea was the second before, as the seer stepped aside the moment she finished speaking.
Edgeworth gives Althea an affronted glance.
Tikra quickly steps behind Chidellof, speaking in a stern and very uncharacteristically menacing tone. "You will not be permitted to harm the seer or her companions."
Illyvalen stares at Tikra...
Chidellof goes pale. She opens her mouth to speak, but seems at a loss for words...
Edgeworth takes a step backward. Certainly my mentor would have been impressed.
Althea blinks at Tikra, seeming rather surprised by her delivery.
Althea: ...um, yes, well... As was just mentioned, I am a seer... which I'm afraid does mean that even though I arrived after the act had taken place... I was still able to witness it myself...
Althea: Talbo... does seem to have had your knife, for reasons we can only guess at for now...
Chidellof: But... but it's still crazy! Whatever you thought you saw, it... it...
Althea: He tried to attack, whatever his intent in doing so. I understand it's not in his nature to resort to violence to resolve problems... Which means anything that could have motivated such an act would have to be exceptional...
Chidellof glares at Althea, teeth gritted in frustration at her illusory helplessness...
Althea: I spoke to Belgiwig earlier today... he tells me that your blindness is quite recent, and that the cause was believed to be blinding sickness...
Chidellof: Well, yeah, I woke up blind yesterday mornin', and the day before some of the water I had at work tasted funny... You think that's why?
Althea: It's possible, but to be quite frank, I have a feeling that perhaps we're supposed to think that's why. There are enough things about this situation that don't add up to make me wary about accepting anything at face value...
Edgeworth looks to Althea questioningly.
Chidellof: "Supposed to think"?
Althea: Someone wanted to cover up the fact that Talbo attacked first. Given that, there's clearly someone involved with a motive to obscure the facts of the incident.
Edgeworth frowns and writes something down again...
Althea: This brings me to the major reason why it's important that we meet with you... I think we need to establish as clearly as possible what the true cause of your blindness really is...
Chidellof: And how d'ya wanna do that?
Althea: One of my colleagues here is an accomplished healer. Another of us has access to some useful magic for the purpose of detecting possible causes.
Tikra speaks up again, her tone lacking any hint of menace this time, though conveying little of any emotion. "Tainted water is a possible carrier of blinding sickness."
Edgeworth finishes writing down the objection he would have voiced... only to suddenly blink in puzzlement at something. Variable.
Edgeworth repockets his organizer and lifts his finger to his temple...
Althea: Indeed. Taken on its own, the idea of blinding sickness due to tainted water as a cause for her condition is credible, albeit the timing is rapid enough to be somewhat uncommon.
Althea: Moreover, Belgiwig indicated that Talbo had been warned of your exposure.
Chidellof: But if that's true, why didn't he do somethin' before I went blind?!
Althea shrugs. "I don't have an answer for that. At least not yet. But it might have had an impact on his thinking once you did go blind..."
Edgeworth looks between Althea, Tikra, and Chidellof, seeming increasingly irritated about something.
Sensing his discomfort, Illyvalen does her best to reach up and give Edgeworth a comforting pat on the back...
Edgeworth jumps slightly at the touch. "Gkhah?!"
Illyvalen winces and cowers, withdrawing her hand.
Chidellof spins to glare in roughly Edgeworth's direction. "You!"
Edgeworth meanwhile spins to glare down at Illyvalen. "Don't sneak up on me with such things!"
Illyvalen: I-I-I-I-I... I'm sorry! I d-didn't mean to...
Althea rubs her forehead.
Althea: Yes, he was one of the witnesses as well. I asked him to remain silent lest he provide further offense, but he does have an important role to play...
Edgeworth: Indeed, though silence has forced me to play less of one than I would prefer.
Chidellof: If that "role" has anythin' to do with smearin' Talbo more, you can forget about it!
Illyvalen looks to Chidellof. "Um... I kn-know he can be kind of scary and mean, but he's not that bad... most of the time..."
Edgeworth eyes Illyvalen.
Althea: He is, it should be noted, with us and under our protection, though I do expect him to act with discretion while here...
Chidellof flexes her fingers in frustration.
Chidellof: Hunh, fine...
Edgeworth glances at Althea disapprovingly, but doesn't comment.
Althea: On the point of his role, in the short term one detail in particular is quite relevant: he is in fact a divine caster, and has prepared spells useful for an investigation of this nature.
Edgeworth: Indeed. Specifically, I can fill a gap in mundane approaches to diagnosing your condition.
Althea: ...Blinding sickness is not the only possible cause of sudden blindness of this nature.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, at least where I'm from, disease is rarely used for criminal purposes — as a living thing, it's far too unpredictable. I have the impression that the same concern applies here.
Chidellof: Criminal? Wait a sec, what're you sayin' here?
Edgeworth crosses his arms with a grin. "When we spoke before, you asked whether perhaps Talbo had been enchanted to take such actions. However, magic is far from the only way to manipulate someone."
Althea nods. "I would imagine that a threat made against you... might qualify as a sufficiently exceptional motivation. After all, it's clear that you are a formidable combatant, but being blinded as you are puts you at a significant disadvantage. If an assailant wished to harm you, inflicting a condition like this would make doing so much more feasible..."
Edgeworth: Belgiwig characterized the information Talbo passed along as a "warning" — but a warning about what? Certainly, were it only a warning that you were exposed to a disease, I must agree with you that it seems strange that he wouldn't act immediately.
Althea: Indeed, catching blinding sickness early would be important, were a credible warning of exposure received. A mundane healer can treat the condition if it's caught before the onset of blindness, but once blindness has set in, magic is required to treat it fully.
Edgeworth: In the context of the Trust's existence, however, a warning of a conspiracy to physically harm a person would be implausible enough to cause someone to hesitate, would it not?
Chidellof: Hey, hold on! You're tellin' a pretty big story, but can you prove any of this?!
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "This is why we need your permission to conduct an examination of you, Ms. Vadin. We can't know whether there's any truth to this speculation until you cooperate."
Chidellof: ...Well... if you really think someone's screwed with Talbo...
Edgeworth: It's a distinct possibility.
Althea: And important to investigate fully while we have the chance, given that how it was accomplished may speak to who could have done it.
Chidellof sighs. "Then let's get it over with already."
Edgeworth looks to Althea, given her leadership act.
Althea nods. "Let's start with what shouldn't be there. If you could take a look for signs of magic?"
Edgeworth raises his hand into position. "Very well."
Edgeworth focuses himself and begins to gesture. "Mundi prima videam evidentiam veritatis."
The impression Edgeworth has upon casting this weaker spell is more of a cracking than a shattering, but the sense of being filled with light that only needs partial direction from him is the same. This time, when the energy is properly shaped, it's as though a blurry mask of impossible colors has been added to his vision, and focusing his eyes on this new band requires conscious effort...
Edgeworth glares in Chidellof's direction, his eyes now more grey-blue than purely grey...
Chidellof frowns and waits...
Edgeworth: It's almost as if I've been seeing the world through a colored lens all this time without realizing it...
Edgeworth turns to Althea after about twenty seconds. "There is most certainly some form of energy around her head."
Althea nods, then frowns. "I suppose you don't have much training on distinguishing the finer details of spell auras as yet..."
Althea: Nonetheless, I'd call that rather suspicious under the circumstances.
Edgeworth nods firmly. "Verily."
Chidellof: Wait, when would anyone've had a chance to cast a spell on me without me noticing?!
Althea: That's a very good question.
Althea: If the aura left on you is from a spell that blinded you... and you woke up blind yesterday morning... then it most likely would need to have been cast while you were asleep.
Chidellof: Even if the Trust let someone thinkin' that kind of thing break into our house, it woulda been obvious someone came through!
Edgeworth meanwhile seems to be peering at Althea's torso curiously.
Edgeworth: I suppose she did previously claim that she bore some enchanted items...
Illyvalen looks a little confused by the conversation so far.
Althea glances at Edgeworth, then adds, "Illusion school, for reference. I'm guessing it looks different from the aura you saw on Ms. Vadin?"
Edgeworth: That it does.
Edgeworth: Though I presume that does very little to narrow things down, simply by virtue of how many schools of magic there are.
Althea: Indeed not. At any rate, I think it might be wise to examine the area where Ms. Vadin slept that night. The spell I suspect might well be in play does not have the most stringent requirements regarding the placement of the caster and target...
Chidellof: It's my room. Last door on the right comin' in. And don't touch anythin', got it?
Althea nods. "It shouldn't be required."
Althea looks to Illyvalen. "In the mean time, Illyvalen can start looking for signs of disease."
Illyvalen: Um, okay...
Chidellof: I guess.
Edgeworth follows Althea back into the hall and to the end of it and allows her to open the door to Chidellof's room. A low bookshelf beneath the window in the center of one wall is stuffed with a variety of books, and there are a number of ceramic figurines atop it. Small tapestries depicting steps for various exercises hang from the walls, and a large one depicting what seems to be an elaborate kata hangs on the wall above Chidellof's rather simple bed at the left side of the room. A case at the right side of the room displays several weapons, including a space for something about the size of the knife sheath that was on Talbo.
Edgeworth's gaze, now grey again, roams the room with interest, ultimately settling on the bookshelf.
Edgeworth: It appears as though any attempt to climb in would have been noticed.
Althea: Indeed. However, it might not have been necessary for the caster to have entered the room.
Althea steps into the room, her eyes fixed on the window. As she reaches the bed, she crouches slightly, looking up from just above the bed's surface out the window.
Edgeworth steps in after Althea. "Is it possible to cast a spell through glass?"
From her vantage point, Althea can see the roof of a gazebo.
Althea: Not a spell of this nature; however, should this window have been open, it would seem there is a position from which the caster could have targetted Ms. Vadin.
Edgeworth: Which natually begs the question of whether it was open, and if so, how...
Edgeworth double-takes at the window.
Edgeworth: There's no latch or lock!
Althea: Mm, that's not unusual in a major Zil city like this.
Edgeworth glares at the window. "Then the question of how this window could have been opened is simple to answer. I am, however, left to wonder whether there were any witnesses to this."
Edgeworth kneels next to Althea to get a look at the vantage point she mentioned.
Althea: Particularly given where the caster would have needed to climb, I have to wonder about that myself.
Althea: We should probably get a better look outside.
Edgeworth nods. "Agreed."
Edgeworth lets Althea lead the way outside for the sake of keeping up appearances. The iron fence that surrounds Chidellof's property is ten feet away from this side of the house and has no gates on this side. On the other side of the fence, the next house's property features a 10' high, 15' wide white gazebo fifteen feet away from said fence, one side being about parallel with the front of Chidellof's house. Further back, a row of bushes is rooted five feet away from the fence, such that they'd be obvious from a more direct look out Chidellof's window.
Edgeworth looks through the fencing at the gazebo first. "From this distance, it appears as though it would be a simple matter for someone of your size to climb up the woven pattern of wood on the sides of the gazebo."
Edgeworth: Someone closer to my own size would most likely find the spaces between the wood planks more awkward — too small to act as full handholds and footholds, yet large enough not to allow all of one's fingers to be spread between multiple holes.
Edgeworth: It's far from decisive on its own, however, given that someone skilled at climbing would likely be able to compensate.
Althea: Indeed, we certainly can't rule out someone larger at this point, but it does seem more likely we're looking at someone in that general size range. Gnome, halfling, goblin, kobold, etc.
Edgeworth frowns as he looks further back towards the bushes. "However, someone on that side of the fence would be in no position to open the window."
Althea: Not by hand, but any arcane caster who could cast such a blinding spell could as easily open a window with a cantrip. They'd probably need to be closer than the gazebo, but they could still do it from the other side of the fence.
Althea points to the bushes on the other side of the fence.
Edgeworth holds his finger to his temple while looking at the roughly fifteen feet of open space between the bushes and the gazebo, then points at the space in question. "Would that not present a problem concerning stealth?"
Althea: It could present a challenge, but not one that would be difficult for a hypothetical arcane caster to overcome. Illusion spells such as Invisibility could go a long way.
Althea: If they were pressed for time or short of materials or movement space, even Swift Invisibility could cover a trip that short.
Althea: They would become visible again upon casting a spell, but they could be magically disguised as well, to misdirect possible witnesses on their identity.
Edgeworth frowns and nods. "I see..."
Edgeworth: Rising to the challenge of working with a much broader range of possibilities won't be easy. I'm fortunate to have someone like Althea to help rather than someone who would waste time entertaining absurd notions like the gazebo coming to life.
Althea starts heading for the window. "At any rate, while arcane abilities are likely involved, best to rule out mundane possibilities decisively if possible."
Edgeworth grins. "I presume, then, that you have a means of fingerprinting the window?"
Althea nods. "If there aren't prints, it doesn't entirely rule out someone opening it by hand, but it narrows the possibilities of how it could have been done."
Edgeworth approaches the window and looks it over. "Exterior wood is often sufficiently rough for traces of leather or fabric to snag when someone applies pressure to it; given that I rather doubt that other materials for gloves yet exist in this world, we should probably search for those first."
Althea: Given that gauntlets would likely damage the wood and make noise, gloves probably would be the main mundane option to consider.
Edgeworth blinks, then nods.
Edgeworth: I suppose it's to be expected that metal armor is still in use here.
Althea: There is some possible magic that could prevent leaving fingerprints, but all in all that would be far less likely than simply using the cantrip I mentioned before.
Edgeworth: For what reason?
Althea: The spell in question can be used by druids and rangers, but neither discipline has access to the kind of magic that would inflict blindness in the way we're looking at.
Althea: It's not unheard of for people to mix paths like that, but anyone who had access to arcane magic capable of blinding someone could easily just use the cantrip I mentioned.
Edgeworth nods. "In other words, even here, the simplest solution is preferred unless proven impossible. Do you have a magnifying glass?"
Althea removes a box from her pack, opens it up, and hands over a convex glass lens with a small handle attached.
Edgeworth bows, than accepts the offered item.
The next several minutes are occupied by Edgeworth examining the window in detail with the magnifying glass, then the pair of them making use of the fingerprinting powder from Althea's inquisitive's kit. Given his size, the prosecutor-cleric can easily dust areas out of Althea's reach.
Edgeworth: That was refreshingly familiar.
Edgeworth smirks. "It appears that there's little room left for doubt that we're dealing with a true spellcaster, most likely of the arcane variety. At least two different spells were involved in what happened the night before last, and additional ones would have made matters easier still."
Edgeworth: While we haven't ruled out wands or the like given that Dil did once mention a means of "tricking" magical objects, it seems highly unlikely that a black market in harmful wands would survive for long in a place such as this.
Althea: Notably, based on the best information we have, that would seem to rule out our suspect having done this himself, though it doesn't really speak to the likelihood of any connection between him and the caster.
Edgeworth looks over to the gazebo. "We should head next door to investigate further."
Edgeworth wastes no time heading out the front gate and entering the unfenced property next door...
Althea follows Edgeworth.
Althea: We should probably inquire with any residents as to anything they might have witnessed.
Edgeworth stops a few feet from the gazebo. "Dusting this for any prints that might have been left in the course of climbing it seems prudent as well, not to mention examining the bushes closest to Chidellof's house for any signs of passage."
Edgeworth kneels down and holds out his hand. "Given my reach, I'm better-suited to deal with the forensic aspects. You can speak with the residents."
Althea nods and hands the inquisitive's kit to Edgeworth before heading for the door of the nearby residence.
While Edgeworth takes a few minutes to dust the side of the gazebo facing Chidellof's house, Althea finds that the residents aren't home but a maid who asserts that the owners would have been home but asleep at the time and haven't acted as though anything odd happened the other night is.
Althea thanks the maid and returns to the gazebo to check on Edgeworth's progress.
Edgeworth turns to Althea, looking rather satisfied with himself. "It is as I suspected — there are signs of someone of your stature having climbed the gazebo on this side."
Edgeworth: Given that they were of the familiar sort, I doubt that this was done by a kobold, for what it's worth.
Althea nods. "Kobolds are a pretty rare sight in a city like this anyway."
Edgeworth then looks grim. "Unfortunately, given the uneven texture of the wood, I haven't been able to find any prints clean enough to match with a suspect."
Althea shakes her head. "Even if you could, there's no guarantee an arcanist capable enough for this wouldn't have altered their fingerprints..."
Edgeworth shifts uneasily at that. As though there weren't enough ways to frame a person in my own world.
Althea: At any rate, the owners are out, but the maid indicated that neither of them gave any indication of being aware of something unusual happening the other night. Though she did notice that there were some broken twigs on the bushes yesterday.
Edgeworth sighs. "Given her job, I presume that she pruned them away. I'm left to wonder how bewildered she would be by the concept of swearing an affidavit."
Althea shrugs. "To whom would we present it, considering the circumstances?"
Edgeworth smirks. "Inevitably, we'll find ourselves confronting someone directly involved in this crime. Even away from the courtroom, I've found myself needing to prove the guilt of those I suspect of wrongdoing."
Althea rubs her forehead and sighs. "If you really think it's that important, I could ask her to write it down, but let's leave terms like testimony or affidavit out of it? Attempting to explain the impossible absurdity of our situation to everyone we meet is trying to say the least."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Very well."
Edgeworth suddenly blinks.
Edgeworth: It happened again. I haven't had the time to actually study the laws of Khorvaire, and yet...
Althea grins slightly. "I'm starting to wonder if Illyvalen should be starting on Gnomish with you rather than continuing to go over Common."
Edgeworth looks aside awkwardly. "Er... I would say that there isn't enough time for such an effort to make any difference, yet the evidence suggests that somehow, I'm learning more about Common than I'm explicitly being taught, observing around me, or deducing from either or both."
Althea nods. "It's probably good for you to be drawing on your other strengths like that. It does seem like trying to learn new vocabulary explicitly may almost be something of a crutch in your case."
Edgeworth appears uneasy. Setting aside the fact that it's alien for something of this nature to be a "strength" at all, I haven't been trying to draw on it in this way to begin with.
Edgeworth: As accurate as such knowledge has been thus far, I still can't help but remain concerned about the level of trust I should afford it...
Edgeworth: Certainly, much of what I'm doing involves drawing on Illyvalen's coverage of Common etymology, and yet the first and most extensive of these... episodes predates that.
Althea: I know Dil's been trying to stress the importance of being open to and exercising your intuition, given your preference toward relying on your mundane strengths...
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Given that my mundane strengths are entirely under my control while... this will at times manifest without my attempting to make any use of it whatsoever, it's only reasonable that I would prefer the former."
Edgeworth: And I certainly don't wish to become a man who acts on premonitions without proof.
Althea shrugs. "It's also generally the case that people will prefer methods and means that are familiar and backed by skill and experience to those that are unfamiliar and underdeveloped, but yielding to such inclinations tends not to be conducive to growth."
Edgeworth frowns. "Indeed not, but I would still be more comfortable if this lacked the involuntary aspects."
Althea: The involuntary aspects are what set you down this path in the first place. It's arguable that you could not have come nearly so far without them, and certainly not so quickly.
Edgeworth grits his teeth and winces.
Edgeworth glowers away from Althea. "...Once we have a statement from the maid, we should check Illyvalen's progress."
Althea nods and heads back to the door of the residence.
After troubling the maid to write down the details about the bushes, Althea and Edgeworth make their way back into the living room of Chidellof's house. Illyvalen seems to have progressed past more basic diagnostic steps and is currently transferring yellow liquid from a cup to a smaller glass vial with an eyedropper; several other vials already have the liquid in them, a few noticeably discolored.
Althea: Making any progress in here?
Chidellof is squirming impatiently at the far end of the couch.
Edgeworth wrinkles his nose briefly at the smell, but doesn't comment, instead just watching Illyvalen expectantly.
Illyvalen glances up, her hands remaining steady even as her voice seems to register surprise. "Um, I think so. She doesn't seem to be sick, exactly, certainly nothing that I think would explain blindness, but..."
Illyvalen: Well, some stuff seemed kind of off, so I kinda thought I should look more closely and well, I think I found some kind of poison or something, maybe? I'm not really exactly sure what it is, it didn't seem to cause any of the symptoms poison normally would, but... well, there's definitely something there that shouldn't be...
Edgeworth's expression firms. "Which most likely explains the strange taste Ms. Vadin referred to."
Illyvalen nods. "I think I'm going to have to take this sample back to the Library and do some further tests once I've looked up some more information."
Illyvalen: Whatever it is, though, I don't think it's a natural poison. Probably alchemy.
Chidellof: Well, yeah, who'd settle for less?
Tikra: Someone who lacked the means.
Chidellof: Besides, most poisons found in nature stand alone anyway. If this didn't do anythin' I noticed by itself, what good would it do in somethin's stinger?
Althea: For our part, I think we verified that there's good evidence an arcane caster, most likely a bard, sorcerer or similar discipline, did take steps to be able to put a spell on you while you slept.
Edgeworth lifts his finger to his temple. "Why those in particular?"
Althea: We can't rule out wizards and the like entirely, but there's a question of how one obtains the knowledge; a scroll like that would probably be hard to come by in a society like this one.
Edgeworth smirks. "By the same logic that makes wands as unlikely to be involved, I presume."
Althea: Sorcerers in particular tend to be more intuitive in their approach to magic; they may not need to come across or research the spell in that way in order to master it. The situation is not altogether different for bards as I understand it.
Tikra: They say Khyber grants such powers to those he favors...
Chidellof: They say that about anythin' magical people don't like, but sorcerers do like talkin' about all three of 'em.
Tikra shrugs. "It is an old belief, and I recall too little to speak much on the matter."
Edgeworth simply crosses his arms as he listens to the discussion.
Chidellof shrugs. "I can't think of anythin' more than that off the top of my head either."
Althea: It's particularly common among kobolds to view the source of their magical gifts as one of the progenitor dragons, and necromantic magic does seem to be common among the irvhir from what little I've heard, not to mention unusual among the iredar...
Althea: And among other races sorcerers often speak of a mystical connection to the progenitors.
Althea: At any rate, a sorcerer's own nature is probably more relevant to what spells they can wield than the circles they travel in or the information they can get at.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Hence it being more likely in this country that someone of that nature would have the ability to cast such a spell than someone who took a studious approach to arcane magic."
Althea turns to Chidellof. "It would seem that our caster squeezed between the bushes lining the fence on the neighboring property, used magic to open your window, then ascended to the roof of the gazebo on the same property. From there they had a direct line view of your bed, and could have cast Blindness; the spell has sufficient range to not present a problem."
Chidellof: You don't say... That's a lotta trouble to do somethin' like this.
Edgeworth: Given that the person responsible would have to be sufficiently motivated to act despite the existence of the Trust, it should come as no surprise that the culprit would go to great lengths.
Chidellof: That's another thing — why didn't they stop whoever did this to me if it happened like you're sayin' anyway?!
Althea: That is the question that keeps plaguing this investigation...
Meanwhile, Illyvalen has been gathering up and carefully sealing and packing various containers, making sure the samples she's collected are secure for the walk back to the Library district.
Edgeworth frowns dourly. "And the more moving parts this scheme is proven to have involved, the more vexing that question becomes..."
Althea: We can only hope that the bigger picture coming into focus sheds some light on that issue...
Althea: There is at least the beginnings of a suggestion why they might not act to protect Egmon, but as for the others involved...
Althea shakes her head.
Chidellof: Well, hurry up already then!
Illyvalen: I-I'm sorry, I'm almost done!
Chidellof: And what's protectin' Egmon or not got to do with anythin' when Talbo's the one who died?!
Chidellof punches the couch cushion next to her.
Althea rubs her forehead slightly, but replies without any tone of frustration or impatience. "There are many places and ways the Trust could have intervened throughout this matter; they chose none. Any explanation we might entertain would need to address them all. I think we are far from such an answer as yet."
Edgeworth uncrosses his arms and raises his finger to his temple. "At least two things happened that anyone reasonable would consider criminal acts, and one seems to have led directly to the other."
Althea: Most likely any cause for inaction is also shared between them...
Edgeworth: Furthermore, we know of a third action that might not necessarily have been considered criminal by Zil standards in isolation, yet contributed to the chain of events that led to the incident in which your husband died.
Edgeworth: In effect, there were at least three acts that could have been stopped in order to allow Talbo to live.
Chidellof: You can't be sayin' what I think you are! That's crazy!
Edgeworth: Unfortunately, I can think of no other common tie between all the incidents than the resulting altercation.
Chidellof leaps off the couch with her fists balled.
Althea reacts quickly to the movement, reaching out with telekinetic force to grab hold of Chidellof before she can commit further aggression.
Chidellof struggles against seemingly nothing to no avail. "Wh-what the heck?! Hey! What's going on?!"
Chidellof tries harder, but only manages to lose her balance and become pinned to the floor.
Edgeworth stares at the spectacle with wide eyes. Thus does it grow clear how serious Althea was in her claims of combat prowess.
Tikra looks back over to see Chidellof suddenly wrested to the floor by Althea's sheer force of will. Giving an impressed look toward the halfling, she quietly speaks. "My apologies, seer..."
Tikra makes her way over to Chidellof, kneeling down and doing her best to adopt the earlier menacing tone. "We hope this is sufficient demonstration that our intent to protect those here is in earnest."
Chidellof: Hmph. You sounded just as freaked out that this happened a second ago!
Illyvalen looks back and forth between Tikra, Edgeworth and Althea. "Uh, um, m-m-maybe w-we should just g-go..."
Edgeworth glares at the downed Chidellof, standing straighter, and begins to speak with firm authority mixed with a vein of hatred. "Do not attempt to follow us. Unlike some other forces of law we can name, we have no reason whatsoever to turn a blind eye to someone who would commit assault."
Chidellof nods as best she can under Althea's grip, whimpering.
Tikra looks back over to Illyvalen and Edgeworth, stands, and quietly returns to Illyvalen's side.
Edgeworth silently waves Tikra and Illyvalen towards the door out.
Illyvalen finishes gathering up her things and makes her way out the door as quickly as her burden allows. Tikra follows part of the way before looking back, waiting to help cover Althea's retreat should it prove needed.
Althea makes her way slowly back toward the hall, maintaining her gaze and hold on Chidellof. "My apologies, Ms. Vadin. I hope to have better answers for you when next we meet."
Chidellof: Damn the Six...
Edgeworth backs away towards the doorway into the hall, turns and nods in appreciation to Althea, then walks past her to the door out.
Althea gestures urgently toward the door for a few moments before breaking concentration and eye contact and making her own way quickly down the hall.
Tikra follows Althea silently.
After the door is shut behind them and they've made their way to what they hope is safely far enough away to rest, the group takes a few minutes to regather themselves and talk.
Illyvalen: That was scary...
Tikra: It seems I was not much use in ensuring our safety. It is fortunate that my assistance proved unnecessary...
Edgeworth simply looks irritated at the whole affair by now.
Althea shakes her head. "You were the one who got her to go that long without reaching the point of being enough of a threat that we had to flee; we might not have been able to investigate at all otherwise..."
Edgeworth takes on a more neutral expression. "Indeed, our findings here have given us a much-needed foothold in our search for the truth behind the current incident."
Tikra shrugs. "At any rate, your response was impressive even by the standards of Morgrave. I believe I have been underestimating your capabilities."
Althea shakes her head. "My circumstances have been... unusual. At any rate, we should see if Dil and Nathaniel have returned, and whether Belgiwig is ready to talk."
Edgeworth: Indeed, I recall bearing witness to a claim that Althea possessed "massive, uncontrolled talent" in need of harnessing...
Illyvalen: I should go back to the Library to do more research and tests...
Edgeworth nods to Illyvalen. "Very well."
Illyvalen makes her way off toward the Library district.
Edgeworth shakes his head as he starts back towards the Archive. I suppose it hadn't occurred to me that perhaps Althea has some inkling of what I'm having to endure.
Tikra glances at Edgeworth but doesn't say anything.
Althea looks to Edgeworth. "That bothers you...?"
Edgeworth looks to Althea. "If you're referring to the extent of your power, it was... startling, but not disturbing."
Althea frowns, but doesn't comment further aloud. She does offer an additional observation via a Missive. Take it as a basis for perspective; I too am not strong enough to face certain foes...
Edgeworth looks puzzled for an instant, then disturbed.
Edgeworth: I'm left to wonder just what the full extent of my own capabilities will ultimately be. Though some hints have descended through these... connections thanks to the way I apparently attract knowledge now, I've already been informed of possibilities beyond even those. Yet, will it be enough to allow me to burn away this world's most dangerous lies?