"Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense."
— Carl Sagan
Eventually, Edgeworth, Althea, and Tikra make it back to the Archive. The atmosphere is more solemn than usual now; apparently, a number of those present have realized the most likely connection between the improbable news and Belgiwig's mood.
Edgeworth stoicly looks the first basement over upon entering. An all too familiar sight...
Althea closes her eyes for a moment, then looks back to the rest of the group. "Dil doesn't seem to be back yet. I'd rather not try to check up on him unless necessary, given I've already used a significant amount of power for other needs..."
Edgeworth's determined look returns. "What of Belgiwig?"
Althea frowns. "I'd rather not disturb him with a Missive just yet. Let's ask around and see if he's been seen since we left."
One of the others present shakes her head. "I haven't seen him come back upstairs since this morning, but he was in the break room earlier."
Althea nods. "We may as well start there. Thanks."
Edgeworth bows appreciatively, then heads for the stairs down.
Althea and Tikra follow.
The second floor is as quiet as usual. Unfortunately, all that they find in the break room are a dirty teacup and an elf thoughtfully sipping at a cup of his own.
Edgeworth approaches the elf. "Excuse me, but have you seen Belgiwig?"
Elf: The Sivis lord returned to his office mere minutes ago after calming himself with cups of two of the milder blends.
Edgeworth: And where is that?
Elf sips at his tea before bothering to answer. "In a secure place. Though you may not have noticed, this Archive was subtly designed to confound unwelcome guests."
Edgeworth frowns in mild irritation. "I see... Very well, then."
Althea frowns. "We probably have no choice but to interrupt or wait, then..."
Tikra: Perhaps it would be best to await the arrival of the others before taking further action.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Every moment we wait is one more in which a culprit can take action, and we know that there is at least one person involved who still walks free."
Althea sighs. "Very well, it's your call under the circumstances, but I'm not going to try to force the issue. I will simply let him know that we are here and wish to speak with him."
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "I suppose."
Althea closes her eyes to concentrate again. I apologize for the disturbance. Edgeworth is here and wishes to discuss investigation. We await in the break room when you are ready.
Edgeworth meanwhile heads over to the runed kettle on the countertop and holds his hand an inch from its surface to gauge the warmth of the water.
Edgeworth: What was the nonsense word used to activate this again?...
Edgeworth grasps the kettle's handle briefly and mutters something, then fetches a cup, a spoon, and one of the tins of tea.
The prosecutor-cleric spoons some tea into the cup. Once the water reaches the temperature Edgeworth deems best, he pours some in... just as a melancholy but at least dry-eyed Belgiwig enters the room.
Althea nods solemnly to Belgiwig.
Edgeworth looks up from the cup. "I appreciate your cooperation."
Tikra remains silent.
Belgiwig nods slowly. "Even if Talbo is fated to see the results of Dolurrh this soon, the reason why is ours to answer."
Edgeworth: Does he think we're trying to answer a philosophical question or a concrete one?
Edgeworth: Indeed. I understand that Talbo requested your aid in healing Ms. Vadin yesterday, but you were in no condition to be questioned thoroughly concerning it earlier.
Althea: We were able to meet with Ms. Vadin in the interim, although I regret we may not have left the most positive impression on her... We have garnered new insight on the cause of her condition, however, though it may raise more questions than it yet answers...
Belgiwig looks between Edgeworth and Althea. "So you already have evidence supporting your belief in the need to keep light from blinding..."
Edgeworth smirks. "Indeed, but there's still more of the truth to be found."
Althea nods. "We do know at least that the cause was not as purported."
Althea: And that deliberate action was involved...
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Althea claims that you testified that Talbo was warned of blinding sickness. What were the circumstances of your learning of this?"
Belgiwig frowns. "Early yesterday morning, he placed his regrets on paper for me."
Edgeworth straightens slightly, uncrossing his arms and fixing Belgiwig with a determined look. "Do you still have this note?"
Belgiwig looks uncomfortable. "It's... the last thing I have left..."
Edgeworth: For the moment, the precise content and verification of who sent it are all that concern me.
Belgiwig: It looked like what usually flows from his hand, and the examples I've seen are sands on a beach.
Edgeworth lifts his finger to his temple. In other words, he's confident that the handwriting is the victim's... I think.
Althea nods. "I think we can take that at face value under the circumstances."
Edgeworth eyes Althea. "For a certain definition of 'face value'."
Edgeworth looks back to Belgiwig. "Unless circumstances come to demand that we do testing on the original, a magical duplicate should suffice for our purposes."
Belgiwig sighs. "Understood, understood..."
Edgeworth: In any case, I wish to see it before we discuss things further. If you see fit, we could relocate in the process as well.
Belgiwig shrugs. "A fog of misunderstanding will spread as readily as the fires of enlightenment, so I suppose it's only polite that we talk in private for now."
Edgeworth looks to his still-steeping tea. "I presume that beverages are not allowed beyond this room any more than books and scrolls are allowed within it, however."
Belgiwig gives Edgeworth a serious look. "The hundreds of lives within my office are as precious to me as the one that's been lost."
Althea glances awkwardly at Edgeworth. "...You presume correctly."
Edgeworth: It seems that the offense in question is more dire than I believed. I find myself missing spill-proof mugs...
Edgeworth: Then I suppose there's nothing for it — my tea will have to be enjoyed cold if at all.
Edgeworth shrugs and shakes his head.
Edgeworth: Lead the way, sir.
With a nod, Belgiwig steps out of the break room and makes the short trip towards the wall at the end of the hall... which, to judge from the fact that he sticks a key into a solid-looking spot, turns it, and causes a faint creak by pushing through it somehow, must not actually be one at all.
Edgeworth blinks. Huh. One wonders why the need to keep this door concealed was so great as to call for the application of a magical illusion.
Edgeworth: Would mundane subterfuge not normally suffice, and indeed be superior given that magical auras are normally detectable?
Edgeworth continues to look thoughtful as he follows Belgiwig through the illusory wall that conceals the secret door. The staircase behind it is long, dimly-lit, and constitutes cramped quarters for him, but it's not so bad as to cause him to struggle.
Althea and Tikra follow quietly behind without comment.
Belgiwig unlocks the metal door at the bottom of the surprisingly lengthy staircase with another key, then leads the way in. Two human-sized chairs in the corner and a sufficient ceiling clearance to allow Edgeworth to raise his arms are the only concessions to people of his size in this particular room.
Edgeworth has to duck his head to step into the mostly gnome-scaled room. I have the distinct sense of having my presence be merely tolerated in this particular office...
Edgeworth looks around, noting the bookshelves lining the walls. Indeed, one would almost think that the room is this size merely to accomodate higher bookshelves, if not for the presence of the larger chairs.
Belgiwig heads behind his desk in order to seat himself, opens a drawer and pulls out a note, then opens another to take out a small piece of paper.
Edgeworth crosses his arms and watches, not bothering to take one of the larger chairs.
Belgiwig pauses to sigh, then touches the note with his left hand, closes his eyes, and begins miming writing with the right above the blank paper. A brief, faint glimmer of blue, aqua, and green light can be made out from the roots of Belgiwig's cool-color-streaked beard. Gradually, the note begins to duplicate itself, complete with the original handwriting being the same.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow, but doesn't interrupt just yet. He does glance down and over at Althea with a question in his eyes, however.
Althea glances toward Belgiwig's desk, then toward Edgeworth and nods. Quietly, she adds: "Some Sivis heirs can turn the Mark of Scribing toward the effect of that spell. I presume you're familiar given the specifics of your request?"
Tikra remains near the door.
Edgeworth nods. "Indeed. I recently saw Dil making use of that effect, though I arrived too late to see him cast the spell itself."
Edgeworth: Prior to that, he informed me of its existence along with that of other orisons.
Belgiwig finishes his duplication of the note shortly, puts the original away, and picks up the duplicate to offer it from his sitting position.
Belgiwig: What secret message you could find encoded in the words here I could scarcely guess...
Edgeworth steps forward and stoops down slightly to accept the proffered paper, then looks it over...
Althea looks curiously toward Edgeworth and the duplicate note.
Edgeworth kneels down to allow Althea a look as well, frowning at its contents.
I need your help to cure the blinding sickness Chidellof contracted yesterday. I can't believe I didn't listen to Ellymoha's frantic warnings about duels to the death then. Now that I think about it, no one would make those kinds of claims just as a prank, would they? Whatever made her think that, she was right about one thing: Chidellof really did go blind. And if she was right about that much, the part about Egmon wanting to expose her to it makes too much sense. But shouldn't the Trust's words have been enough to defeat only one sword?
Edgeworth's expression quickly firms. "Despite all the things Zil society considers to be something less than a crime, and which in turn the Trust might turn a blind eye to, I cannot imagine that blood duels would be among them."
Althea: Indeed not. Those who try to bring such feuds within Zil borders are not well received. The Trust was formed in large part to end such methods of resolving differences.
Edgeworth: As such, one is left to wonder how Ellymoha came to such a conclusion to begin with. The more that we learn, the more crucial it becomes to speak with her...
Edgeworth: Could this have been the source of her unease at the concert?
Edgeworth puts the finger of his free hand to his temple. "Furthermore, the final sentence of the note is rather... striking."
Belgiwig: It is? But that question is as plain as the sun...
Tikra: ...perhaps an outsider is less easily blinded by it...
Edgeworth smirks. "What's important is that it's a question that weighed heavily on his mind at the time of this writing. It appears that he soon came to an answer which spurred him to drastic action."
Edgeworth looks to Belgiwig. "I presume you know full well the tale of the Brelish outlands negotiation. That tragedy may well have seeded Talbo's mind with doubt as to whether the pen is always mightier than the sword."
Belgiwig looks to Edgeworth in unpleasant surprise. "So you've drawn that truth to you... but he never set that pen down!"
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Given Chidellof's refusal to believe that Talbo would resort to violence, that comes as no surprise. However, with that seed of doubt in his mind, how would he react if he believed that words failed?"
Althea hesitates for a few moments, looking troubled, before adding, "...or worse, that such words... had not even been uttered..."
Belgiwig glares at Althea. "Don't confuse my brother for his fiancée. If he really thought the Trust stayed their tongues, he'd have used his own before a knife!"
Edgeworth spreads his arms, note still in one hand. "Which is precisely my point as well. I believe his conclusion was not that the Trust failed to act, but that they used only verbal action which proved ineffective."
Edgeworth: While he may not have believed Ellymoha's duel theory in particular, he might well have considered the possibility that blinding Chidellof was part of some larger scheme on Egmon's part. With that in mind, he may well have concluded that the Trust would not... "eliminate" the threat he believed Egmon posed with their usual characteristic speed, given their failure to stop the plan before the first criminal action could take place.
Althea: Hmmm... I see... That may be a more plausible explanation, though I'm not the one best equipped to judge...
Belgiwig looks away. "Our father's death... cut deeper wounds into T-Talbo than I... but I never imagined that if the Trust blinked at the wrong time..."
Edgeworth lowers his arms and puts on a neutral mask. "And yet, this isn't inconceivable to you."
Tikra: When once one has lost the illusion of safety, its comfort may never return...
Belgiwig: It would have to have been more than fear that the Trust would blunt its knives. Normally, any reasonable gnome would ask why the Trust would do so in the first place. Yet he couldn't see the sands remaining in the hourglass his beloved was trapped within...
Edgeworth half-frowns. Is he referring to the possibility that time was running out, or that she may have been buried? Then again, would the particular extreme in play matter?
Althea: ...Perhaps he could, in a sense... if we think about it from the other end, if Egmon exposed her to blinding sickness as an opportunity to attack her, he must have known Talbo knew people who could help treat her condition...
Edgeworth: Indeed. Even if he didn't know of Belgiwig in particular, am I right in supposing that a typical House member could afford House Jorasco's services?
Belgiwig: In the face of a gale but not a tornado, certainly.
Althea: Then the opportunity to take advantage of her condition was fleeting.
Edgeworth grins. "Precisely."
Belgiwig wrings his hands. "And while thought may fuel words, it takes time. While a sword is best wielded with a swift hand..."
Belgiwig begins to tear up.
Althea looks down. "I apologize for further disturbing you at such a time..." She looks to Edgeworth. "I suspect we have seen as much fruit as there is to be had from this questioning..."
Edgeworth nods. "I likewise suspect so. I presume that we may take this duplicate of the note freely?"
Belgiwig nods numbly.
After leaving Belgiwig to his own struggles, Edgeworth heads back into the break room with Althea and Tikra in tow. Fortunately, he finds that the tea he left to steep hasn't been touched, and so takes a few moments to quickly drink that before heading back up to the first basement. There, the group finds a familiar gaunt figure...
Edgeworth glares with determination at Dil. "Have you and Mr. Salyrria found Miss Cissot?"
Dil holds up his hands before him in apparent surrender. "They're just outside the shop."
Edgeworth wastes no time in marching toward the door leading to the secret staircase to the ground floor, sparing only a nod as his thanks. "Good. I would hate to think that a key witness was left unattended for long."
Althea sighs slightly and shakes her head. "Best to stay together for this, I'd think."
Althea heads up the stairs after Edgeworth.
Tikra follows without comment.
Dil shakes his head and mutters, "You're welcome..." He then turns and follows the others back up.
The group heads through the back room of the bookstore the Korranberg Archive is built beneath, then out through the store itself, finding both Nathaniel and the flutist from the concert waiting there.
Ellymoha seems a bit calmer than she did during the concert, but still clearly distressed.
Edgeworth wastes no time in stepping forward and crossing his arms. "I apologize for the inconvenience, Miss Cissot, but we have increasing reason to believe you may know something related to the incident yesterday."
Ellymoha winces slightly. "You mean about Talbo Santor d'Sivis, right? ...I don't know what's going on anymore, this is all so crazy..."
Nathaniel eyes Edgeworth almost warningly, then glances at Althea briefly before returning his attention to Ellymoha.
Edgeworth uncrosses his arms and shifts to a more neutral stance with some internal effort. "What information you do have should prove vital to making sense of the matter for everyone involved."
Edgeworth: It has been weighing heavily on you since before the incident itself, has it not?
Ellymoha: Of course. When something like that is going on right in front of your eyes...
Dil stays back, watching the entire conversation curiously.
Edgeworth firms despite himself. "Please elaborate."
Ellymoha: I... I hardly know where to begin...
Althea: From the beginning should suffice. You became aware of something recently, correct?
Ellymoha: ...right. I suppose the first thing was during the afternoon the day before yesterday...
Edgeworth recrosses his arms, tapping his finger and keeping his gaze fixed on the top of Ellymoha's head so as not to accidentally meet her eyes and glare.
Ellymoha: It happened while I was passing by a break area around one of the warehouses near the docks.
Ellymoha: I saw... someone pouring something into a worker's glass...
Edgeworth ends up glaring anyway, if not directly into their witness's eyes. "Can you describe that moment in more detail?"
Ellymoha winces again, but manages not to look away. "I'm reasonably sure it was Egmon Niralamba Santiar... and Chidellof Vadin Chivarach's drink... I couldn't tell what he was pouring, but..."
Edgeworth: HOLD IT! That's a rather severe accusation. On what basis did you come to that specific conclusion?
Ellymoha recoils, seeming taken aback by the outburst and somewhat flustered by it. "I... th-that is... er..."
Dil tilts his head.
Nathaniel glares at Edgeworth. "I hardly think it necessary to intimidate your witness like this..."
Edgeworth recoils. "That was hardly my intention!"
Althea puts a hand to her forehead and shakes her head slowly. "...I'm sorry, Miss Cissot. Please just take it slowly and try to recall your reasons for drawing such inferences in as much detail as you can."
Ellymoha nods and takes a few deep breaths to calm herself before continuing.
Edgeworth likewise pauses to attempt to calm himself.
Edgeworth: I must remember that even if I'm not yet recognized as such from a social perspective in this world, I am a professional with authority to wield.
Ellymoha: I... I pass by that warehouse somewhat often, so I've seen Chidellof there on a number of occasions; I'm aware of where she sits and which glass she uses...
Edgeworth blinks. "She uses a specific glass?" I don't suppose we could be so fortunate as to have that not have been washed in the interrim?
Ellymoha: She does. ...I suppose it's fair to say I've... sort of kept an eye on her, after that whole mess three years ago...
Ellymoha: Not very closely or anything, but you don't easily forget witnessing something like that...
Edgeworth: I would imagine not, particularly in this country.
Ellymoha nods, then continues after a moment. "As for Egmon..." she shrugs, "I've seen him enough to recognize him... His involvement kinda stands out, knowing about that incident and all..."
Edgeworth nods grimly. So she claims to have witnessed Egmon directly. As for her seeing what she believed to be Chidellof's drink being tainted, that much at least we can verify from what we know so far.
Edgeworth: Please continue with your testimony.
Ellymoha: Not long afterward, I spoke with someone about what I'd witnessed at a tavern in the area...
Edgeworth: Who was this "someone"?
Ellymoha: An apothecary from the alchemy market. Rayhan Loeb Dalian.
Althea frowns slightly. "I think I've heard that name before..."
Edgeworth looks to Althea. "Oh?"
Tikra speaks up after a moment when Althea looks to be having trouble placing the cause for familiarity. "Illyvalen has done business with her."
Althea: Ah, right. I'm pretty sure I've heard that name mentioned in the course of going over Illyvalen's research.
Edgeworth: Then we may find ourselves needing to speak with her as well, depending on what our current witness has to say about their conversation.
Edgeworth looks back to Ellymoha.
Ellymoha: At first we just figured it was a game getting a little out of hand, but when I mentioned Egmon by name, she pointed out that it was already rather odd that he started carrying around a sword...
Edgeworth nods... Which, I understand, it is.
Ellymoha: It's fairly obvious that Egmon never really got over that incident three years ago, but... the idea of them just fighting it out is ridiculous. He couldn't have thought that the Trust would let him just...
Edgeworth's determination returns, though he manages to at least keep it contained to a sense of mere presence. The assumption conveyed in Talbo's note...
Edgeworth: How did you come to the conclusion that there was to be a fight?
Ellymoha: I... I guess... I'm not entirely sure... I think Rayhan suggested something about how if it came down to it, Chidellof could probably disable Egmon without killing him, but the same wouldn't be true the other way around...
Edgeworth raises his finger to his temple. Why would she say that?
Ellymoha shakes her head and covers her eyes with one hand, looking anguished. "And yet, they let him poison her! Why would they not only let him try to settle things with a duel of all things, but then cheat at it too?!"
Nathaniel blinks. "A duel...?"
Edgeworth looks to Nathaniel with a frown. "Indeed, we first heard of this rather bizarre line of logic mere minutes ago."
Ellymoha: I don't know what else to think. This whole situation is so crazy, I just can't imagine... what could have been going through Egmon's head... or what the Trust could be thinking...
Edgeworth: And yet, you apparently imagined something fit to share. At the least, we have evidence suggesting that you spoke with Talbo.
Ellymoha takes a moment to calm herself again. "Rayhan... mentioned that there was an outbreak of blinding sickness recently... I guess she thought maybe Egmon might somehow have gotten ahold of something like that..."
Edgeworth glowers. This "Rayhan" seems as though she's responsible for many of the conclusions our witness has drawn...
Ellymoha: She also suggested... th-that maybe the reason the Trust wouldn't act... was that they were both so dangerous that if either of them died it'd make Zilargo safer...
Ellymoha shudders, her gaze downcast as she relates this idea.
Dil frowns. "I don't know about that... If that was their opinion, they both would have been warned at least, if not... missing."
Edgeworth shudders. To think that one's mere existence could in theory be considered a crime in itself...
Nathaniel seems somewhat disturbed and at a loss himself. "Indeed, the apparent silence throughout the entirety of these events is highly uncharacteristic. None of this seems like it should ever have been allowed to happen..."
Tikra: It would stand to reason that none of us has correctly surmised the cause, then.
Althea shakes her head slightly. "If we're to understand why Rayhan thought as she did, we will no doubt need to ask her in due course. Let's focus on what was actually said for now."
Edgeworth nods. "Agreed, I would very much like to hear more about this conversation myself."
Ellymoha: Well... I think she asked me what I thought was going on, but at that point it was all just so confusing... I remember she said something about how blinding Chidellof wouldn't help if there was time to use connections to get medical help...
Ellymoha: ...and she told me I should warn Talbo about this, of course. I remember that pretty clearly.
Edgeworth's expression firms. Given her confusion, uncertainty, and softened language even when describing things she observed directly...
Edgeworth: What about that admonition made it stand out in your mind?
Ellymoha: Huh? Er, well... I suppose that, when she said it, I realized it was obvious. How could I not warn Talbo if the Trust wasn't going to act?
Althea frowns slightly.
Ellymoha: ...not that I think he believed me really, but I had to try!
Nathaniel looks to Edgeworth. "Something about that statement strikes you?"
Edgeworth: Something in her manner of delivering it seems... unnatural, and not in a way suggesting deceit.
Nathaniel: Hmmm. While I couldn't say for certain, the thought does occur...
Edgeworth: I could almost swear that she cared more about the delivery of the message for its own sake than the crucial reasons one might do so.
Althea nods. "It's possible that could be a side-effect of some kind of mind-affecting magic or psionics... though after this much time has passed, we no longer have among us any who could check for direct tell-tales..."
Edgeworth clenches his teeth in irritation.
Ellymoha looks confused. "Why would she of all people need to do that? If she wanted to be sure Talbo knew, she could have just told him herself."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "One could just as easily apply that same logic to her suggesting you deliver the message in any ordinary manner."
Dil grins, looking impressed.
Ellymoha shakes her head, seeming lost. "Could she be playing some game here too? But..."
Edgeworth looks to Althea, mildly confused.
Nathaniel grins and shakes his head. "Ah, the great Zil pastime. It does make life interesting. Still, playing games so close to the Trust's interests is certainly not for the faint of heart. I'm not sure I'd want to wager on what the aims of this might be."
Althea nods to Edgeworth. "I did mention that the Zil tend to amuse themselves with various intrigues, and that such proclivities are expressly permitted within Zilargo's borders."
Edgeworth: I see...
Nathaniel: I see I am not among fans here... Perhaps it is simply too much of an acquired taste for foreigners.
Edgeworth eyes Nathaniel. I would be surprised if he expected me in particular to be one.
Ellymoha: Even I wonder sometimes about how far some are willing to take it...
Nathaniel: If you're going to commit to something, you should commit whole-heartedly, I would think. Still, there are always limits.
Dil frowns. "There are some ways I wish it could be taken farther more easily. Just not in ways that would hurt someone..."
Althea: I don't think this is really the best time to debate the finer points of gnomish culture. The testimony we've just heard raises a number of possibilities and offers two clear leads to follow; one we can pursue as is, the other will require assistance.
Dil chuckles suddenly.
Edgeworth looks to Dil questioningly.
Althea sighs and shakes her head. "Now you've got me doing it too..."
Edgeworth spreads his arms and shakes his head with a smirk. "Hmph. That would fit the pattern suggested by yesterday's other incident."
Ellymoha takes on an even more worried look. "Other incident? Something else happened? There wasn't another murder, was there?"
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Fortunately, I speak of a more personal and considerably less violent matter."
Althea: It's a... long story.
Ellymoha looks considerably less worried and considerably more interested now. "Something happened to you two while investigating, I take it?"
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! This line of questioning is irrelevant to both the case and the investigation thereof!
Dil chuckles longer, clearly trying to keep himself contained in the process.
Althea looks at Ellymoha, then Edgeworth, then Dil, then shakes her head. "I really should know better by now, I really should..."
Nathaniel glances at Ellymoha and mouths, "I'll tell you later."
Ellymoha mutters quietly, "I'm gonna hold you to that..."
Most of the group heads out to seek the apothecary whose words apparently so influenced Ellymoha, while Nathaniel escorts her to the Medani enclave for further examination.
The "alchemy market" turns out to be a small stretch of street in the Tangibles Market whose selection of shops seems to have grown around the central presence of a different House Tharashk storefront than the one Egmon is being held at. One small storefront even bears the griffon mark of House Jorasco despite this district's overall focus on goods.
Edgeworth looks to the House Tharashk storefront in question with his finger raised to his temple. Interesting. Does some aspect of House Tharashk's prospecting business relate strongly to alchemy?
Althea follows Edgeworth's gaze and nods. "Among other things, House Tharashk sells dragonshards here. Khyber dragonshards are in significant demand by those who work on elemental binding."
Edgeworth nods. "I see... We have more pressing business to focus on for the time being, however."
Edgeworth looks over the rest of the storefronts in an attempt to figure out which one belongs to the apothecary they seek.
Tikra gestures toward one storefront in particular.
Edgeworth bows appreciatively, then quickly heads for that particular building.
While he does trip a bell as he enters the store, Edgeworth finds that the area in which customers can freely roam this shop is small, covering only two shelf-filled walls. The rest of the store is hemmed off by a long L-shaped counter, though many things are on display on a pair of shelves directly behind both stretches of said counter. The positioning of those shelves suggests a great deal of room in the portion of the room they block from view.
Edgeworth: Huh. I suppose this "Rayhan Loeb Dalian" must wish to take careful stock of all but the most innocuous purchases in their store.
A familiar-looking customer is already present at the counter, talking with a gnome behind it with yellowish-blond hair and indigo eyes wearing a white smock.
Dil blinks at the familiar figure. "Illyvalen?"
Edgeworth follows Dil's gaze at his words.
Illyvalen looks over toward the group in some surprise. "Oh! I didn't expect to see you all here..."
Edgeworth: Nor did we expect to see you again this soon, though it's not that surprising given what I've heard. The trail of the truth behind the incident has led us here.
Rayhan looks up at Edgeworth's words. "Incident?"
Althea: The matter Ellymoha Cissot Adredar discussed with you recently has... led to a rather dramatic and terrible event. We were hoping we could speak with you about that conversation.
Rayhan frowns in confusion. "Ellymoha Cissot Adredar? The flutist? I don't recall anyone that famous coming through here recently..."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "The conversation in question was not here. Allegedly, it took place at a tavern near the waterfront."
Rayhan scratches her head. "But my next sea shipment isn't due until tomorrow..."
Illyvalen blinks in confusion, looking back and forth between Edgeworth, Althea and Rayhan.
Althea blinks. "Are you saying you don't have any recollection of being told about an incident of someone pouring an unknown substance into someone else's drink...?"
Rayhan: What? No, nothing like that.
Edgeworth narrows his eyes. "For the record, are you in fact Rayhan Loeb Dalian, or have we mistaken you for someone else?"
Illyvalen: What... what are you talking about...?
Rayhan looks baffled, though less the bafflement of someone facing an odd accusation and more that of a person confronted with an unexpected puzzle.
Rayhan: No, you have the right person...
Althea frowns, thinking...
Dil raises an eyebrow, intrigued himself.
Edgeworth looks away from Rayhan briefly with a thoughtful look in his eyes, tapping his finger on his arm. "Strange... I'm quite certain there isn't any deceit in her voice or manner."
Illyvalen: Why would she be lying?
Edgeworth: I don't know. It is certain, however, that what we have here is a massive contradiction between her testimony and that of Miss Cissot!
Rayhan tilts her head at Edgeworth's firm declaration in an unfamiliar tongue.
Illyvalen blinks. "What... did she say?"
Althea: ...Ellymoha Cissot Adredar gave us an account of a rather disturbing conversation in which she spoke of Egmon putting something in Chidellof's drink, and in the course of that conversation became convinced that Egmon wished a blood duel between himself and Chidellof, and that Talbo had to be warned of this...
Illyvalen's eyes widen. "Then he was the one who poisoned... but... that doesn't make sense..."
Edgeworth fixes his firm gaze on Illyvalen. "So you have made progress in your analysis?"
Illyvalen: Yes. I came to get a few additional supplies and such, but I'm pretty sure I've worked out what it was I detected in the samples...
Illyvalen: It looks to be a kind of resistance-diminishing poison... meant to render the target more succeptible to other poisons, diseases or body-affecting magics.
Edgeworth stands straighter, uncrossing his arms and clenching his fists once his arms are hanging straight. "In other words, something that could be highly relevant depending on how precisely the spell that blinded Chidellof works."
Althea: If it's the spell I believe it is, then yes...
Dil frowns, let down that this portion of the conversation leaves him largely out of the loop.
Edgeworth: Then if Miss Cissot's testimony stands after our newfound contradiction has been cleared up, that poison would almost certainly be what was put into the drink, for two purposes. First, to make it more likely that the spell of blindness that was cast on her would take effect, and second, so that it could be mistaken for the source of the blindness itself.
Althea: Those could hold in any event, considering the evidence thus far and Chidellof's own testimony.
Edgeworth: In the face of a contradiction of this magnitude, I can imagine three possibilities. There are of course the two obvious ones; either Miss Cissot is lying or Miss Loeb is. The third option is that both are telling what they believe to be the truth, but some other factor has complicated the matter — for example, a disguise.
Althea: The theoretical arcane caster assailant could easily adopt a magical disguise.
Edgeworth nods. "As you had mentioned before."
Illyvalen: I don't think Rayhan would lie about something like that...
Edgeworth: Furthermore, she had the bearing of someone speaking honestly. She would have to be an exceptionally skillful liar for me to be mistaken on this matter.
Althea: Whereas our previous witness was vague in much of her testimony and rather nervous, but... it did seem like she was relating what she was sure of... and it did seem likely that someone was "pushing her" to tell Talbo...
Edgeworth: Mm. While we cannot rule out the possibility of either of them deceiving us, it seems more likely at this juncture that the source of our contradiction is a third party, most likely our as-yet unknown arcane spellcaster.
Althea frowns in thought. "I suppose, though, that our arcane spellcaster might know enough to simulate the effects of such a compulsion... and we certainly haven't ruled out bardic magic as a possibility..."
Althea: We'd be talking about someone who's better at magic than most people who study such things, but not necessarily an extremely rare talent...
Edgeworth nods slowly. "Shall we continue questioning Miss Loeb with all this in mind? There is, after all, the question of where such a poison as Illyvalen has discovered could have come from."
Edgeworth turns back to the counter. "I apologize for our behavior just now, Miss Loeb. I don't suppose you've heard of the 'dramatic and terrible incident' Althea alluded to in our earlier questioning?"
Illyvalen smiles apologetically and a bit nervously at Rayhan but remains quiet for the moment as Edgeworth speaks.
Rayhan: Many interesting things happen in a city as large as ours, but the most "dramatic and terrible" thing I've heard is an impossible-sounding rumor.
Althea: That sounds about right.
Rayhan shakes her head. "Do you expect me to believe the Trust would look away from its own purpose on such a basic level?"
Edgeworth takes on a mostly neutral expression, a slight frown in his eyes. "I realize that this must be difficult to accept, Miss Loeb, but we saw the body and inspected the crime scene ourselves."
Illyvalen shudders at the memory, but nods. "W-we... we have to do what we can... I'm trying to help Mr. Edgeworth find out... why... why this could..." She breaks off, seemingly unable to continue.
Tikra advances silently to Illyvalen's side.
Rayhan's eyes widen in disbelief.
Rayhan: The strangest part is that the Trust would not just allow a murder, but allow one that's a spectacle. It would be less strange if it allowed its own methods to be used. Even then, I wouldn't expect a member of House Sivis to be allowed to be murdered without exceptional reason.
Edgeworth raises a finger to his temple. So she believes that if the Trust allowed a murder at all, it would involve someone being quietly eliminated in the shadows...
Edgeworth shudders. To think that anyone could suggest such an idea so calmly!
Althea: I don't disagree that exceptional reason would be required, but I'm afraid we don't have a satisfactory explanation at this time for what has occurred.
Edgeworth: What we know of what happened is primarily that the incident involved a great deal of manipulation to set up, making it all the more strange that the Trust did not intervene.
Edgeworth: Illyvalen's contribution to this is to investigate one aspect of what was done to the victim's wife in order to manipulate him into his ultimately suicidal attack against Egmon Niralamba Santiar.
Illyvalen manages to recover her composure enough to speak, though she does take hold of Tikra's arm. "I've been analyzing samples of bodily fluids... I believe she was poisoned..."
Rayhan looks concerned yet mildly intrigued. "What sort of poison? Is this why you've come here?"
Illyvalen: Mostly, yes. I need to do a little more to be completely sure, but... it's definitely some kind of bodily-resistance-weakening poison...
Rayhan lapses into apparent thought. "Interesting... Those take skill to create. If an alchemist isn't careful, they'll introduce weakness, frailty, and obvious illness as symptoms, and can even risk killing the victim."
Edgeworth stares at Rayhan, seeming unsettled. Do her customers know that this woman finds poisons to be an academic curiosity?
Edgeworth clears his throat. "This was an ingested poison that was placed in a glass of water."
Edgeworth: The victim furthermore indicated that there was a faint, detectable taste.
Edgeworth pauses for a moment. ...I suppose that out of context, realizing that such traits could be identifiable might seem as strange to others.
Rayhan: Hmm... That might be sentry's soporific. Not the most conventional choice...
Althea frowns. "I'm not sure I've ever heard of that..."
Illyvalen shakes her head. "It's not very common, so I'm not surprised. It's made somewhat similarly to common allergy-suppressing medicines, but there are a number of key differences... er, the important part is that its effect lasts for 24 hours and significantly diminishes the body's ability to cope with poisons, environmental hazards and the like..."
Illyvalen: As well as magic that behaves similarly...
Edgeworth: So if nothing else, she's no longer in danger from it now that some time has passed since her exposure. It's fortunate that you even spotted the aftereffects.
Illyvalen nods slowly. "If we'd waited much longer, I don't think I could have..."
Edgeworth turns his attention back to Rayhan, his eyes stern. "Has anyone with the skill to make that particular poison bought the ingredients from you at the proper time to have had a dose at the ready two days ago?"
Rayhan shakes her head. "Not all of them, nor have I sold any of the ingredients to people I don't usually sell them to."
Edgeworth: What about unusual quantities among your usual customers?
Rayhan: Well, Rabbalap Marggin Adredar did buy more than usual. Apparently his sister wanted to see if the anti-allergy medicine she makes for him would work for someone she was trying to gain the favor of for the sake of a game.
Illyvalen: Did it?
Rayhan shrugs. "I haven't heard about it from either of them."
Illyvalen: Oh well...
Althea glances at Edgeworth. "That's a striking coincidence..."
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. "That was the conductor for the concert, was it not?"
Illyvalen: Oh. Is that significant...? He didn't seem unusual then.
Edgeworth: No, but he is the second person related to the concert who has come up during this investigation.
Edgeworth: It may well be nothing more than a coincidence, but if those ingredients have not been bought in unusual quantity from anyone else, then we must follow the evidence to him next.
Althea: Was that all that seemed out of the ordinary?
Rayhan: Well, I was surprised that Zemershil didn't pick the ingredients up herself, but that was all. I thought she must have just been busy.
Althea: But no one else needed unusual quantities?
Rayhan shakes her head.
Edgeworth taps his finger against his temple, then grins. "Are either of these two skilled with magic?"
Rayhan: Rabbalap's magic is only of the typical kind, but Zemershil has studied... some kind of arcane magic, I'm not sure what exactly. She's never had the musical talents of most of her family, so she entertains with illusions instead.
Althea: Sounds like possibly an illusionist or beguiler, perhaps some kind of sorcerer...
Rayhan considers. "I don't think she's an illusionist; I've never heard her talking about spellbooks or heard of her seeking out scrolls."
Edgeworth's features harden.
Althea frowns in thought. "If she were a beguiler, it's unlikely she could be the culprit; that discipline doesn't lend itself to one critical spell used on the victim..."
Rayhan suddenly looks confused. "Culprit? Victim? Have I missed some piece of all these puzzles?"
Althea blinks and looks at Edgeworth. "I suppose I have been getting a bit accustomed to dropping back into English; we've effectively omitted a good deal of context so far."
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "To be fair, at first it wasn't clear that it was safe to speak of that context in a way she could understand."
Althea sighs slightly.
Rayhan seems curious rather than insulted. "Is 'English' the name of that language you were speaking?"
Althea looks back to Rayhan. "It is. Illyvalen can tell you more later, as she's been studying it. At any rate, we have a profile of a suspect for the person who poisoned Chidellof, based on other actions that appear to have been taken the night before her blindness manifested."
Althea: Particularly, that the Blindness spell was most likely used to inflict her condition, and the poison may have been administered in part to ensure that it worked.
Edgeworth: And in part to deflect suspicion from the very possibility that its casting was involved at all.
Rayhan frowns. "What a strange series of events for the Trust to let happen. Not as unbelievable as the murder in broad daylight, but..."
Dil puts his finger to his lip. "It does seem like if having something to investigate was all they wanted to allow, the poisoning and blinding would have been enough."
Tikra shakes her head. "Curiosity is insufficient cause to breach the safety of this place; it is only enough to lift the veil."
Edgeworth: Thus does the same question rear its head again in a more refined form...
Althea: I think it's pretty clear that this isn't something that played out only because the Trust wanted to watch an off-worlder figure it out. ...I'm just not sure anything else is clear about why it happened...
Rayhan's eyes widen in what seems to be amazed realization.
Rayhan: So that rumor also has something to it...
Edgeworth grits his teeth. I can't say it's comfortable to be regarded as an outlandish rumor.
Illyvalen: Oh, yes, he speaks a whole lot of languages I've never heard of anywhere! I've only had time to learn any of this 'English' though...
Illyvalen sounds a bit disappointed about the last part.
Rayhan looks to Illyvalen and grins. "It sounds like excitement is following you lately, both good and bad."
Illyvalen: I guess so...
Edgeworth clears his throat and taps his finger on his arm. "I beg everyone's pardon, but personal reflection on recent events can wait until after we've found the truth behind these crimes."
Althea nods. "It's too early to be certain about their involvement, but I think we'd best have a talk with Rabbalap Marggin Adredar... and his sister..."
Edgeworth: Verily. We'll most likely need Mr. Salyrria's help again.
Althea nods. "I'll contact him." She closes her eyes and begins concentrating.
Edgeworth looks to Rayhan. "Miss Loeb, if it would not burden you, I ask that you write down your assertion that you did not visit the waterfront the day before yesterday, as well as the fact that Rabbalap Marggin Adredar bought additional anti-allergy ingredients."
Rayhan: Huh? Oh, that's different. All right.
Rayhan takes out a sheet of paper and a fountain pen from under the counter.
Edgeworth: I would appreciate it if you took out enough to allow Illyvalen to write down her own preliminary results as well — if you would, please.
Edgeworth looks to Illyvalen in mid-sentence.
Illyvalen frowns in confusion as she takes a pen and paper from her own bag. "Er, why would you need me to use Rayhan's paper for that...?"
Edgeworth smirks, amused and pleased. "Heh... I see."
Edgeworth: Anyway, once you've finished with the poison analysis, I would like you to run an analysis on the blood samples we gathered at the start of this as well. I presume you would have access to sufficient skill to perform one better than Althea could have at the spur of the moment, and that while you're here you could gather any materials for it you lack.
Illyvalen: Yeah, I can manage that...
Edgeworth bows with a sweep of his arm. "Thank you. The results should prove to be of use in proving what we observed now that the crime scene has apparently been cleaned."
Edgeworth: Though I must admit, it is troubling that any authority would either do or permit such a thing in circumstances such as these.
Illyvalen quickly fills out a page in neat, small handwriting.
Rayhan looks up from writing and over to Illyvalen. "Do you need me to retrieve any of the materials for you?"
Althea frowns slightly even as she concentrates.
Illyvalen looks up briefly from her own writing. "I'll need some changeling blood for the best results. I should have the necessary reagents for the rest already."
Dil smirks. "This time, I think I can let you have a free ride."
Edgeworth stares at Dil. Is it proper to point out such a thing so boldly in front of someone who makes a living at selling such things?
Illyvalen hands her page to Edgeworth. Most of it is full of tables of shorthand notations that mean nothing to him, followed by either numbers or mathmatical glyphs, but a small summary at the end reads: "Results consistent with alchemic resistance-weakening poison, possibly sentry's soporific."
Edgeworth nods, filing the report in his organizer.
Althea looks over to Edgeworth. "There's been a slight hang-up. Seems something about our request got the receptionist at the enclave suspicious and they all but threw Nathaniel out."
Edgeworth is startled out of any spoken reply to Dil. His eyes widen at the resistance Nathaniel faced.
Dil: That's strange...
Althea: When I contacted him, he was on his way to request the assistance of one of his own contacts, a bard by the name of Bripmalon Marggin Adredar...
Edgeworth recoils with a step backward. "What?! Under these circumstances...!"
Althea: Yeah, I had about the same thought. ...though if I'd had that reaction I probably would have lost my channel. I advised him to hold off and head back to the Archive for now until we can reevaluate our options.
Edgeworth stands straighter again and nods firmly with a glower. "Most of us should head there immediately, then. Tikra, remain with Illyvalen; under the circumstances, I wish to leave no one unattended."
Illyvalen: You... you think it's that...
Edgeworth: Potentially so, yes. I think it's highly probable that our culprit has realized that just because the Trust is apparently turning a blind eye to the matter, that does not necessarily mean they have nothing to fear.
Althea: It's a wise precaution to take under the circumstances. We're operating within an exception to the Trust's normal behavior, and we don't know how far that goes.
Tikra: ...I will defend Illyvalen at any cost.
Rayhan looks enraptured, as though the fearful discussions were some sort of play.
Edgeworth nods. "Thank you." He looks to Rayhan, hesitates at her unexpected expression, then offers her a nod before taking the now complete and signed note and striding out the door.
Illyvalen looks back and forth between Edgeworth and Althea, looking bewildered and frightened.
Dil grins and shrugs sheepishly. "Well, if I want to keep observing him, I suppose donations will have to wait for later."
Illyvalen: But... but I don't...
Tikra: We have accepted this burden, and we must see our roles through.
Dil heads out after Edgeworth.
Illyvalen: Aren't you scared...?
Tikra: ...It would be foolish not to be. Nevertheless, I will do what I must.
Rayhan frowns at Dil's departure. "I was hoping I could negotiate with him..."
Tikra: I do not believe you will let your fears stop you either, once you have finished expressing them.
Illyvalen stares at Tikra for a moment, then lowers her gaze and shakes her head. After a moment, she responds. "B-but... I... I don't ever want... to see you hurt like that again... not even to save me... if... i-if..."
Tikra: I have not forgotten the price you asked of me, though payment I cannot consider it. But if you would ask me to save my own life at cost of yours... that is beyond what I can give.
Illyvalen looks for a moment like she's about to burst into tears... but for once she seems to contain herself. "I... I... L-let's go then..."
Althea nods solemnly to Tikra, then looks to Illyvalen. "Try not to worry too much, it's just a precaution. If I thought we were in clear and immediate danger, I would not allow us splitting up, even if it did slow us down a bit."
Althea heads after Edgeworth.
The return to the Archive is thankfully uneventful for Edgeworth, Dil, and Althea. Nathaniel and Ellymoha aren't there when they arrive, but given the difference in distance to travel that is to be expected.
Edgeworth pauses in the shop portion of the building, knowing full well that Nathaniel and Ellymoha would need permission to go further in.
Althea looks over the display cases. "One thing we still have to figure out is how we are going to manage the required spell under these circumstances..."
Edgeworth nods grimly. "Indeed, particularly as we have no idea whether at this time we're facing only our culprit or a web of their allies."
Dil: Well, one possibility would be to rush you through one lesson I'd hoped we could take our time with later...
Edgeworth looks to Dil with a raised eyebrow, crossing his arms. "Oh?"
Althea: There should be a scroll of Greater Detect Magic available here... while it's beyond your ability to cast on your own, you have a strong enough talent with divination magic that you may be able to manage casting from a scroll...
Dil: Though there is a trick to that — every divine scroll you encounter will be scribed by someone who doesn't share your faith. You'll have to reconcile your own beliefs with those of the creator.
Edgeworth looks deeply uncomfortable. As though it weren't trying enough to fill a defense attorney's role with little notice.
Nopplebin observes the conversation from behind the counter with mild interest, as though seeing a variation on a theme.
Althea: I understand that it can vary a lot between individuals how well one tends to cope with it; Vassals of the Sovereign Host tend to do somewhat better overall due to that faith's tendency toward syncretism...
Dil: In case you were wondering, deipotents' potential for use of scrolls of differing and even opposing faiths is another of the "contradictions", as you put it, that inspired the work of the Archival Foundation.
Edgeworth takes a breath, calming himself somewhat. "I see..."
Althea: ...given the fact that this is an Archive, I wonder if they might have one written by a follower of the Blood of Vol. While I would hesitate to suggest any religion of Eberron as being "compatible" with your faith, I wonder if their perspective wouldn't be a little less... offensive to your sensibilities...
Nopplebin frowns. "Venrach does help us keep scrolls stocked, even if he doesn't really seem to like it."
Dil puts his finger to his lip. "I guess you haven't met him, Althea."
Althea: I don't recognize the name, so I suppose not.
Dil: He's pretty opportunistic, but he does make good on his debts. He's provided a lot of help to the Archival Foundation, especially when it comes to more obscure aspects of necromancy. He was doing some experiments in the third basement just last week, but he's currently with an expedition exploring some caves in the Seawall Mountains supposedly abandoned by an irvhir tribe.
Althea: Sounds interesting. In any event, if he's penned a scroll of Greater Detect Magic, perhaps that would be a good option to work with.
Nopplebin: One moment, I'll check...
Nopplebin looks through a glass case against the wall behind the counter.
Edgeworth: Why that religion in particular?
Althea: Even though you connect with something greater than yourself when you commune, you still understand divine magic to be a power of mortals, not gods, if I understand correctly.
Edgeworth: It is something we have the capacity to use as a tool, despite our not having designed it and the probability of it not having been "designed" at all. That potential to make use of it is our own, even if what is being wielded is far greater than ourselves.
Dil can't keep a brief glint of skepticism out of his eyes at the comment about it not being designed.
Althea nods. "As I mentioned in our brief overview of religions shortly after we met, the Blood of Vol reject any gods that might exist as tyrants, and seek instead to unlock divine potential within themselves."
Althea: Some of the, er, specifics of their symbolism might not map especially well to your faith, but I figured the overall concept might be a bit less alien to your thinking than that of more mainstream religions.
Nopplebin opens the case she was searching and pulls out a scroll. "Here we are."
Dil puts his finger to his lip. "There is one other thing you have in common with them that comes to mind: they also have some level of focus on the material, even if it's more specific with them."
Dil: Specifically, they consider blood to be the primary carrier of their Divinity Within, which is their explanation for why there's no hope left for people who can't escape Dolurrh.
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! Merely telling me the points that do not contradict will not allow me to overcome the contradictions that do exist!
Nopplebin jumps slightly.
Althea shakes her head slightly, seeming torn between amusement and annoyance.
Dil looks to Althea and shrugs. "He does have a point..."
Althea: The key point to understand about the Blood of Vol is that their faith's highest goal and duty is to defeat death itself. Each follower is called to do what they can to advance the standing of the living in the fight against death.
Althea: They have a somewhat... different perspective on undead than most, as a consequence of that.
Edgeworth winces at that.
Althea: An adherent of the Blood who became a lich to extend their life... would be viewed as something akin to a martyr to the cause: someone who sacrificed their very own divine potential in order to help ensure that others could achieve theirs.
Althea: Indeed, the high priest of the Crimson Monastery in Atur is a mummy.
Edgeworth stares incredulously at Althea. And this is her idea of the closest match to be found? My impression is of a religion of teenage rebels.
Edgeworth: Indeed, I cannot help but think that such a path would better suit the arrogant perfectionism I was led to at such an age than the better man I've since rediscovered and become. Certainly, at that time I thought of myself as a punisher both of the sins of the outside world and of myself.
Edgeworth: That being said, there is certainly a crucial difference. These people seem to have great faith in humanity, or rather mortal sapientkind; I, by contrast, drowned in excessive doubt.
Edgeworth: In my studies here, I recall reading references to adherents of the Blood of Vol as "Seekers"; presumably, they seek this "Divinity Within" they regard as a truth hidden within their blood. Indeed, I also recall reading that they regard attaining divine magic as one of the greatest successes they yet know to be possible.
Edgeworth takes a deep breath. Certainly, I will admit this: I had to spend nearly a year looking within myself before I could really start wielding the truth after having been in the dark for so long, and had to briefly do so again to discover a new way to apply the truth's power here. That may well be the single most important truth they have on their side, even if they are foolish to look no further.
Edgeworth: Indeed, they apparently consider that step along the path so immensely important that they will do things most consider unspeakable just to allow others to take it.
Edgeworth gulps, reaches for the scroll, unrolls it... and frowns in confusion. "Er, what language is this?"
Althea: Hmm... I have a guess, but if you could hold it a bit lower...?
Edgeworth kneels down and holds it somewhat to his side to allow Althea a clearer look.
Althea: Mm, yes, that's Draconic.
Dil: Just so you know, not all the writing is part of the incantation — some of it is part of the structure holding the scroll's magic in place or artifacts of the scribing process. So you can't just sound it all out knowing what the incantation means and just have it work that way.
Althea nods. "Under the circumstances, I think I ought to look into arranging permission to bring the helm as far as the storefront; it's probably the best way to meet some of the more basic logistical requirements of the situation."
Edgeworth smirks. Ah yes — that device's usefulness has indeed yet to end. I may have outgrown the need to wear it simply to communicate at all, but both its capability for making other languages understandable and for deciphering magic would apply here.
Edgeworth: Very well.
Nopplebin unlocks the door into the back room and opens it.
Althea disappears through into the back room.
Dil: I've never really understood why they like Draconic so much for their purposes, but they do claim the roots of the faith stretch back farther than even Aerenal's history.
Edgeworth: I do seem to recall Althea mentioning a "Vol" family who once bore a "Mark of Death"; perhaps they had a hand in laying some of those foundations as well, if it's truly so old.
Edgeworth: But now is hardly the time to debate history that I barely know.
Edgeworth: Is there anything else one must know about the use of scrolls?
Dil: Only that scrolls of rarer spells might be more useful to us than to you in the long term, so if you end up owning any you should weigh your options.
Edgeworth nods, still peering at the odd writing. One would almost swear tinges of dark maroon and dark brown were swirling through this writing, if one didn't know better.
Edgeworth: Anyway, I certainly know the proper purpose of Greater Detect Magic from the truth's perspective as part of the world of justice; going beyond merely revealing evidence of the fundamental truth that magic is part of this world, it reveals evidence of what part magic played in a particular incident.
After another few minutes, Althea returns to the storefront bearing the aforementioned helm. She heads toward Edgeworth and Dil, handing the item to the former.
Edgeworth rolls the scroll back up, holding it in one hand while accepting the helm with the other. Being relatively used to putting it on without ruining his hairdo by now, it's only a minor challenge to repeat the process one-handed.
Edgeworth repoens the scroll and blinks at it, briefly disoriented at understanding all he's seeing when he didn't just seconds ago.
Edgeworth: ..."I awaken my comatose power to see magic beyond the death imposed on us both"?
Edgeworth: It would seem that the Blood of Vol considers more than the mortality of living beings to be unfair...
Edgeworth: Furthermore, it seems that many of the same runes are used in the writing and the magical constructs. Curious...
Edgeworth: Is it normal for the Draconic alphabet to be used for magical purposes?
Althea: Indeed, it's one of the most common, as is Giant.
Edgeworth: I see... I don't suppose you could provide some guidance concerning how each of these words is pronounced?
Edgeworth points to each word of the incantation in turn.
Althea reads them off in clearly enunciated Draconic.
Edgeworth: Thank you.
Any further consideration of the scroll is momentarily interrupted as the storefront's main door opens, Nathaniel and Ellymoha both entering.
Edgeworth stands and turns to face the others, rolling up the scroll again in the process.
Nathaniel glances at Edgeworth, then Althea. "So, would you mind explaining exactly why we needed to come back here instead of enlisting help?"
Nathaniel: You didn't get past calling it "unwise under the circumstances" earlier.
Edgeworth's expression firms. "Evidence is making the Marggin family begin to look suspicious. Until we know more, it is risky to trust them with any important duties such as this."
Edgeworth digs out the statements Rayhan wrote down for them.
Ellymoha looks at Edgeworth almost incredulously. "You can't be serious! A Marggin?!"
Edgeworth: It is a possibility, though the evidence is scant as yet.
Althea: ...and with as much as family means to the Zil... we really can't rely on family members to potentially indict one of their own...
Nathaniel frowns as he looks over the document that Edgeworth hands him. "...I suppose with as difficult to believe as what we've already encountered has been, it would hardly be fair to call this out as a leap too far... but it's hard to imagine Rabbalap being involved in something this..."
Ellymoha reads over Nathaniel's shoulder. "What? But I know I saw her... why would she say she wasn't there?"
Edgeworth: Whoever is taking these actions is apparently a skilled arcane caster. In a place such as this, I understand that to make the ability to cloak oneself in an illusion especially likely.
Ellymoha: You mean... I was talking to... an imposter?
Edgeworth: It's probable, though to be certain we need to verify a number of things. First, I intend to use this to verify whether or not you were, in fact, "pushed" to make the report to Talbo you did.
Edgeworth holds up the scroll even while putting the statements away with his other hand.
Nathaniel raises an eyebrow, asking in a skeptical tone of voice, "You are already that capable?"
Dil shrugs. "Even if he didn't have an affinity for divination magic, he'd be capable enough to try..."
Nathaniel frowns slightly at the word "try" but nods. "I suppose..."
Edgeworth: Of course, we should also have others verify Miss Loeb's alibi. Presumably people would have noticed if her store was closed at an unusual time.
Edgeworth unrolls the scroll again, then leaves it hanging from one hand while holding out the other with his fingers in an odd configuration.
Edgeworth: In a sense, I suppose the Blood of Vol conceives of gods as murderers.
Edgeworth: Can I yet see beyond what they would consider the untimely death of something more abstract than themselves?
Edgeworth gestures while reciting from the scroll, "I awaken my comatose power to see magic beyond the death imposed on us both."
The scroll flares black and crumbles, and Edgeworth falls to his knees while hissing in pain.
Althea's eyes widen, and she looks to Dil.
Dil nods to Althea. "Right."
Ellymoha: What happened...?
Dil is quick to kneel next to Edgeworth, chant something firmly while gesturing with one hand, and touching him with a hand shining faintly iridescent lavender.
Edgeworth's breathing eases, but he doesn't seem to have completely shaken things off.
Edgeworth: What sort of energy was that?!
Nathaniel staggers backward, shaking his head. "What... what did you do?"
Althea winces and shakes her head slightly. "...that was the energy of the plane of Mabar."
Edgeworth stands, glowering. "Why was I not warned of this difference?!"
Dil looks sheepish and apologetic.
Althea: ..."Because I thought it was obvious" doesn't seem like the best answer under the circumstances...
Althea: ...I did mention that not all clerics have an affinity for positive energy. Clerics who are Seekers are predominantly channelers of negative energy.
Nathaniel looks around the room, seeming bewildered.
Edgeworth looks to Nathaniel. "What precisely is wrong?"
Nopplebin: Um... that'll be 112 galifars and 5 sovereigns...
Nathaniel: I... can't see right... out of one eye...
Althea looks up in alarm. "You're blinded?"
Nathaniel: N-not exactly... I can— gyaah! What the...?!
Nathaniel stares past Nopplebin as if looking through the back wall.
Edgeworth recoils. What have I done?!
Nopplebin looks behind her, than back at Nathaniel, confused.
Ellymoha: What? What is it?
Nathaniel: I... think I just saw a shade walk through the counter and wall...
Edgeworth stares at Nathaniel, dumbfounded.
Edgeworth: To think that in attempting to reach for a truth normally beyond my grasp, I might cause someone to hallucinate...
Althea frowns. "What do you see if you only look with that eye?"
Nathaniel reluctantly closes his left eye and gazes unseeing around the room. "Just a gray wasteland... and maybe a few more shades off in the distance..."
Edgeworth appears disturbed. That sounds far too much like Althea's description of...
Althea nods. "Sounds like somehow, instead of seeing evidence of magic, you're seeing evidence of death."
Althea: More specifically, it sounds like you're viewing the plane of Dolurrh.
Nathaniel blinks rapidly. "...it's gone."
Dil shakes his head, finally standing back up himself. "You have a few things to learn about how to push people to grow, Althea."
Nopplebin: Um, who's going to pay?
Althea: I've got it.
Althea fishes in her bag, then places twelve pieces of platinum on the counter.
Nopplebin looks surprised at the denomination used, examines it carefully, then finally places it in a locked drawer, removing 7 pieces of gold and 5 pieces of silver which she hands back to Althea.
Althea accepts and pockets the change.
Nopplebin updates a document in another drawer.
Edgeworth slides from horror and unease to clear frustration.
Nathaniel shakes his head, regaining his composure. "So... what now? We still don't have an answer to the questions you were attempting to address."
Dil shrugs. "It would be risky for me to try this way too... and I don't think Edgeworth's going to put up with many more surprises."
Althea sighs. "There are a few options. For one, we could simply try again; your previous experience might help you cope better in a second attempt."
Althea: Another thought is that you might have an easier time working from a spellbead, if we can acquire one for the appropriate spell.
Edgeworth: I'm sorry — spellbead?
Althea: A spellbead is an enchanted bead. In some ways it splits the difference between a wand and a scroll; it's consumed in a single use, but it's less complicated to use. Not to mention that it can be used by arcane or divine casters regardless of whether the spell imbued was arcane or divine.
Althea: They are most commonly created by artificers, since they can't effectively make scrolls the same way that typical arcane or divine casters do.
Althea: We won't likely find spellbeads here or at any place mostly accommodating casters, though. The best bet is probably the local Cannith enclave.
Dil: There would be some risk in using a spellbead too, but you at least shouldn't be surprised by unexpected energies or have to struggle to figure out how one form of the spell turns into another.
Althea nods. "In many ways it would be similar to using a wand, though you would need to provide the incantation. That at least would draw upon your own imagery."
Edgeworth raises his finger to his temple. "It sounds rather like a physical manifestation of a prepared spell, more so than a scroll is."
Edgeworth: Am I beginning to grow accustomed to discussing such things?
Althea: While artificers are more limited in what they can accomplish due to their focus on items, as well as the liabilities inherent in their methods, many artificers believe that their approach to magic is more fundamentally pure than what ordinary spellcasters can manage; their methods being agnostic to the distinction between arcane and divine magic tending to be seen as evidence thereof.
Dil shrugs and smirks to himself.
Edgeworth: Perhaps no one understanding of magic in this world is yet complete, despite enough being known to allow it to be applied to good effect in advancing civilization.
Edgeworth looks around at those in the room sternly. "While there may be some merit in debating the nature of magic, it's far from the most pressing truth at hand. We still need to verify whether or not my own suspicions about the true origins of Miss Cissot's drive to warn Talbo are correct."
Nathaniel seems to have mostly recovered his composure at this point. "...I suppose we can stand to grant another chance under the circumstances, though I can't say I'm pleased to have to turn away from more experienced help..."
Althea: He has used a wand correctly before, and this was his first attempt with a scroll. I don't think it's that likely we could see anything like... what just occurred.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Furthermore, I was operating with incomplete information."
Edgeworth starts towards the door. "Anyway, we haven't the time to waste."
Nathaniel frowns, not that reassured by Althea's comment and even less so by Edgeworth's brusqueness. He mutters under his breath, "...but if anyone else suffers another 'accident'..."
The group returns to the Tangibles Market. The local storefront of the Fabricators Guild is not all that far from the alchemy market. It's merely the front room of a larger building, but said larger building is still dwarfed by the Tharashk enclave the alchemy market centers on.
Upon the walls and room dividers on the customer side of the counter hang various wooden carvings illustrating various magical devices and listing their prices. Behind the counter are various cases displaying many of the items in question; the counter itself is a glass case with a wooden top, which itself contains a display of wands, various liquids in tiny vials, marble-sized beads with tiny runes painted on them, and simple rings and pendants with odd yellow jewels set in them. Tending this display counter are a slightly bored-looking middle-aged human man and a more energetic-looking young human woman who leans forward a bit as the group enters.
Althea glances toward Edgeworth, then steps up to the counter.
Amika looks to Althea eagerly. "So many new faces! Are you in charge? How can we help you?!"
Simos shakes his head but doesn't interrupt.
Edgeworth: For once, I feel spared a burden by Althea's insistence on being the one to speak...
Althea glances at Edgeworth again, looking awkward. Looking back, she responds. "Er, n-not exactly... we're, ah, hoping to acquire a spellbead of Greater Detect Magic."
Amika: Huh, not one we get a lot of requests for in that form, but let's see...
Amika lowers to one knee to look through the glass case on that side.
Althea: I have to wonder whether I'm crossing the line between keeping him in check and trampling on his investigation...
Edgeworth simply crosses his arms and looks down at Althea with a half-disguised conflicted expression.
Simos seems intrigued by the request, but seems content to merely observe for the moment.
Amika examines a number of the marble-like items quickly, still speaking. "I almost wonder if you're worried about someone having been defrauded lately. I mean, someone tried earlier even if I didn't see who..."
Edgeworth glares instantly. "What?"
Ellymoha glances up with interest at the assertion.
Nathaniel raises an eyebrow but doesn't comment.
Simos shakes his head. "This is why I say no one should go anywhere alone in this country, Amika."
Edgeworth: This may well be the second such incident we've heard of today, and certainly the first explicitly involving a claim of magic use. Please testify concerning the matter.
Simos frowns. "What was the first like?"
Dil raises an eyebrow himself.
Edgeworth: I only suspect something amiss concerning the first incident today. It is because we were unable to enlist House Medani's aid to have someone examined that we need a spellbead to begin with.
Nathaniel shakes his head slightly.
Amika: When I was taking my lunch break an hour ago in the park nearby, I felt a force touch my mind that I pushed off.
Althea looks startled.
Amika: But I didn't hear anyone chant, and when I tried to find who did it I didn't have any luck.
Edgeworth: I recall the book I was assigned concerning the basic properties of the eight schools of magic mentioning this. If one does resist an enchantment spell, one recognizes one's success in doing so instinctively. Only if one fails does such a spell's power cause one to fail to notice.
Althea: Given the circumstances, I have to consider it somewhat likely that this may be connected to our... difficulties earlier.
Edgeworth: I must agree.
Nathaniel: You think the receptionist at the Medani enclave was similarly targetted?
Dil puts a finger to his lip. "If you're right, then it couldn't have been a bard who did it. Their kinds of magic can't be cast without sound, even if someone otherwise knows that trick."
Althea: Which narrows the field of suspects substantially, given how common bardic training is here...
Edgeworth looks to Nathaniel. "I considered the possibility before, but it now appears far more probable."
Simos looks to Amika. "Maybe selling them a spellbead would be too little for what they're going to be facing."
Amika looks back to Simos. "I don't know, you seem too eager to see conspiracies sometimes..."
Nathaniel: Large games are one of the things that keep life interesting. Though in this case, the game is much more serious than what would normally be... permitted...
Edgeworth: This is clearly outside the scope of anything that could reasonably be called a "game".
Edgeworth looks to Nathaniel disapprovingly.
Edgeworth: After all, the saying "it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye" has easily been surpassed.
Nathaniel frowns. "I did allow that the stakes are unacceptably high in this case..."
Althea puts a hand to her forehead. "Let's focus less on what to call it and more on what to do about it, please."
Simos looks aside. "If you'll need to divine traces of things like this a lot in a short period, a wand might be a good investment."
Althea winces slightly. "That... is a thought..."
Althea looks toward Edgeworth.
Edgeworth looks around for some indication of the price among the display carvings...
Edgeworth recoils at the wand prices. Most of these cost more money than we've spent in our entire stay!
Althea: It is difficult to say how long it might take for you to master your capabilites well enough to be able to cast this spell under your own power; a wand might prove a valuable long-term resource. Even once you can cast the spell on your own, being able to cast it more frequently than you would be otherwise able might still be a help...
Althea: ...as I gathered you've realized, however... we are talking about quite a significant investment...
Althea: The economy of having 50 charges does make it a worthwhile investment if you're going to need that many, but... well, you are operating on the basis of debt here...
Althea: I doubt we'll need anywhere near that many to get through the current investigation, but...
Althea frowns. "There's also the matter that I don't normally carry that much platinum on me... but that can be remedied at the cost of a bit of time."
Edgeworth grits his teeth briefly. "Are there any alternatives you would recommend?"
Edgeworth begins looking the price carvings over further.
Althea: That you could use and that wouldn't be more expensive than a wand? About the only possibility that comes to mind is a minor schema.
Edgeworth looks blank for an instant, then mildly vexed. How many of the tools of this world am I ignorant of?
Althea: A schema is a type of magical artifact that functions as a sort of magical building block. Their nature and use can vary, but in particular it is possible to etch a minor schema with the same sorts of spells as one can imbue a wand.
Althea: Such an artifact functions as a sort of permanent representation of the spell itself. Unlike a wand, which has to be imbued by its creator with individual potential for each casting of the spell, a schema has no fixed number of times it can be used; rather, it is capable of being activated for its effect once per day.
Althea: Thus, it would be less flexible, but would serve as a longer-term investment.
Althea: It's also less expensive than a wand, though it would still be a significant cost.
Edgeworth smirks. "Given its permanent nature and the lesser cost, it would seem to be the wiser investment."
Althea: ...that said, it's an open question whether we could get one, even here. It takes a very powerful artificer or caster to produce a minor schema, so they are somewhat rare.
Edgeworth: I see...
Althea: Beyond that... we could always buy more than one spellbead. Even a score of beads would be a lesser investment than a wand, though still on a similar order of expense. If we concern ourselves only with the current situation... perhaps three or four beads would suffice for the time being?
Edgeworth looks back to the carvings, searching them...
Dil seems deep in thought about something.
Simos looks mildly suspicious of all the unfamiliar language.
Amika pouts, looking for all the world like a small child left out of both teams of a sports game.
Althea looks up toward Simos. "I don't suppose you would happen to have a minor schema of Greater Detect Magic available...?"
Simos frowns and peers at Althea as though trying to size her up.
Amika blinks in surprise, then whispers something to Simos.
Nathaniel: I'd think you'd have more luck scrounging something like that up at Morgrave...
Simos's frown shifts to a more conflicted one.
Ellymoha grins in minor amusement but doesn't say anything.
Althea looks between Simos, Amika, and Nathaniel, then sighs and shrugs. "It was just a thought." She looks toward Edgeworth, awaiting an indication of his intent.
Edgeworth again touches his temple. "Strange; I would expect such a request to result in a simple yes or no."
Althea shrugs. "For something this rare, availability might not be so straightforward."
Althea: At any rate... I can procure funds if necessary... but we're edging into the limits of my finances here...
Edgeworth winces. "Is that so..."
Edgeworth: Are long-term investments normally such burdens on people?
Edgeworth: It would seem that under the circumstances, we have no real choice in the matter.
Edgeworth: We may well have to settle for spellbeads regardless of your answer. Hopefully three of them will suffice.
Simos: Pardon my asking, but why exactly are you chasing after this enchanter yourselves?
Althea: Er... that's not a question with a simple answer, to say the least.
Althea glances toward Edgeworth.
Ellymoha: You're not going to withhold a story this good, are you?
Althea winces and mutters something about Zilargo.
Edgeworth takes a breath to regather himself before fixing Simos with a serious but not harsh glare. "I don't suppose you've heard about the open killing that occured recently?"
Simos sighs and rolls his eyes. "At least you specified the 'open' one. But yes, that one has a lot of people scared."
Edgeworth: Hmm. The fact that it occurred at all implies that the Trust saw fit to allow it, and I cannot allow a crime of such magnitude to go unanswered in any sense.
Edgeworth: To seek truth and apply that toward justice is so much my duty that the very nature of this world recognizes it.
Simos: ...You actually mean that, huh.
Nathaniel: He's the 'atheist cleric from another world'. So yes, apparently.
Amika looks amazed. "Really?! I've heard rumors about strange clerics before, but this is the first time I've met one like you!"
Edgeworth recoils. "I'll thank you not to so casually describe me as 'strange'!"
Althea looks back and forth between Edgeworth and Amika for a moment. ...not gonna comment on that one.
Simos simply peers at Edgeworth with a raised eyebrow. "Is that where you claim that language you were speaking earlier came from?"
Edgeworth regathers himself and crosses his arms. "It is. Althea's capacity to speak it is apparently 'borrowed' through her own capabilities."
Edgeworth looks down at Althea.
Althea looks slightly uncomfortable offering her self-explanation this time. "I'm a seer. It's one of my powers."
Althea: I suppose that's not a reason for Cannith to find me particularly suspicious, at least...
Nathaniel: I'm to understand Illyvalen is fluent by her own merits at this point, at least.
Nathaniel: But that makes the two of you the only proper speakers in all of Eberron, apparently.
Simos looks to Amika. "For my own peace of mind, I'd be more comfortable if you let Amika listen in."
Edgeworth spreads his arms and shakes his head with a smirk. "I see no reason why not. All we've been discussing are matters of this world that are outside of my own experience."
Simos takes an item from a chest of drawers next to the door into the back area. It looks similar to a wand, but is slightly thicker with a reddish-pink crystal with deeper red swirls inside mounted on the tip.
Edgeworth: An Eberron dragonshard... Given that those are used in the creation of many permanent magical items and that resembles a wand, could this be some sort of permanent analogue?
Simos hands the wand-like item to Amika, who speaks a word and traces a three-dimensional sigil in the air with it before holding it out in Edgeworth's direction.
Edgeworth steps closer and touches the crystal. "I presume from context that this casts Comprehend Languages or a similar spell."
Amika looks delighted and relieved. "It does. Don't worry, Simos, that is a real language."
Simos: And he is letting us listen in...
Edgeworth nods. "Evidence is everything. I see no particular reason to deny it to you."
Edgeworth: Save perhaps some degree of dignity, but ultimately the truth is more important than my own ego... whether I like it or not.
Simos looks thoughtful.
Althea: For reference, that's another one of the alternatives which wasn't relevant for our immediate consideration: an eternal wand. It's not possible to imbue with the most powerful spells normal wands can be, but like a minor schema it's reusable on a daily basis. It can also be used to reshape one's prepared spells into the imbued spell, similar to clerics' ability to reshape their spells into curative or destructive magic. Unfortunately from your perspective, only arcane casters can make use of them.
Edgeworth frowns. "I see..."
Amika looks intrigued by the exposition. "We developed them during the Last War, you know. Magewrights can't master most war magic, so we developed a kind of wand that let them overcome that limitation. But obviously we've got other kinds now too."
Amika takes the eternal wand back to where it belongs.
Althea nods. "House Cannith is where you will generally find most expertise when it comes to the creation of magical artifacts."
Edgeworth: We have more important matters to attend to than the history of invention, however. It is imperative that we verify certain suspicions concerning our elusive suspect's activities.
Edgeworth: We must find out not only who is responsible for creating the situation in which Talbo Santor d'Sivis died, but why that event was allowed to play out.
Simos: ...You're either very brave or very foolish.
Edgeworth: ...I suppose I have learned from a certain someone how to skirt that particular line.
Edgeworth: Without the ability to check for magical traces in addition to active auras, it may be nearly impossible. We've had far less hard evidence to work with than I'm frankly comfortable with; without more, it may be difficult to convince anyone of what we discover.
Althea frowns, looking conflicted.
Nathaniel folds his arms and frowns slightly, looking to Althea, then to Edgeworth.
Edgeworth: It is not enough for us to know — it must be possible for others to verify and challenge what we present as well.
Edgeworth: This is, after all, no matter of mere idle curiosity!
Nathaniel blinks in sudden comprehension. "He wants you to buy the wand for him... And you're not going to say no..."
Althea blinks, looking up. Her expression remains conflicted for another moment, then firms. "...more likely the schema, if we can get it. And no, I'm not. This is his investigation, and it's not an unreasonable need."
Nathaniel's eyes widen. "Not unreasonable? You do know how much those things cost, don't you?"
Althea: Of course I do. I also trust him to pay me back. ...eventually.
Edgeworth seems surprised at Althea and Nathaniel's sudden decision to speak amongst themselves.
Nathaniel's expression darkens, but he doesn't say anything further.
Althea looks back to Simos. "I gather that it might represent some... difficulty to acquire a minor schema. Nonetheless, I note that you didn't foreclose upon the possibility."
Simos frowns. "...No, we didn't. We do have a need to retain one on the premises."
Ellymoha grins knowingly. "At all times?"
Simos blinks at Ellymoha's interjection. "It would inconvenience us if it were missing at the wrong time."
Edgeworth looks back to the humans behind the counter. "What is the nature of your need to keep one on hand?"
Amika's face scrunches with the effort of holding something back.
Simos: I'm sorry, but that's a trade secret.
Althea blinks, then frowns thoughtfully.
Edgeworth blinks as well. A trade secret involving keeping on hand an item that they could likely create something superior to for its primary known use?
Ellymoha: Even so, it is something you could replace, is it not?
Simos: Er, well, of course.
Simos still appears uncertain, however.
Amika looks almost pleasantly surprised at Ellymoha. "Huh, did you overhear?..."
Ellymoha grins again. "Careful listening is a critical skill for any musician. And it's certainly worthwhile for other reasons as well."
Dil chuckles. "Personal, practical, and more."
Edgeworth: I cannot deny that.
Althea puts a hand to her forehead but doesn't comment.
Edgeworth: Were I working with people less eager to interrupt, I would likely be spending more time listening than speaking at this moment...
Althea: I presume if you could replace it, that also means that you could obtain another on behalf of a potential customer if given enough time. Though our investigation might not allow very much of it...
Althea: Moreover, we will likely require spellbeads regardless, given the limitations present in the general use of minor schema.
Edgeworth: Indeed. I presume you know as well as I that time is of the essence when seeking magical traces even with the proper means.
Simos: But as you point out, we do have other products you could buy now without putting us out.
Edgeworth smirks. Which is a matter he scarcely seems more comfortable with himself. Perhaps a change of tactics is in order...
Edgeworth spreads his arms. "Consider this: Amika claims to have been unsuccessfully targeted by some hidden assailant's enchantment. We suspect this to be the same person we're seeking, particularly as we encounted suspicious resistance at House Medani when precisely that assistance would have made it easier to prove what was going on."
Edgeworth: Given that someone was willing to target Amika once in a presumed bid to prevent someone from arming themselves with the truth, who is to say that they won't try again?
Ellymoha's earlier good humor vanishes, and she starts looking somewhat distressed again.
Amika shifts uncomfortably, looking between Edgeworth and Simos.
Nathaniel maintains a neutral expression.
Simos sighs, then balls his fists at his sides. "...All right. We will have to charge you 1800 galifars for it, but we can operate without it for now."
Althea nods, then glances at Edgeworth. "I'll note that between it being a daily use only and the fact that operating it is still not completely without risk for you, we will likely still need a couple of spellbeads anyway."
Edgeworth nods to Althea. "I suspected that would be for the best as well."
Althea: Specifically, if you fail to operate it correctly... it's possible you might render it temporarily inoperative for more than just the day a use would cost.
Edgeworth frowns. "Would this be in addition to or instead of the sorts of risks inherent in the use of a scroll?"
Althea shakes her head. "It lacks the risk of magical mishap that a scroll or spellbead presents."
Edgeworth: I find myself reminded of the concept of surge protection, though now is hardly the time to discuss parallels with my own world in depth.
Edgeworth: Very well, then. ...I, er... apologize for burdening you to this degree, but this demand is more than merely my own.
Amika seems deeply interested in the English conversation, particularly once Edgeworth makes this assertion.
Althea nods and turns back to Simos. "I will need to make arrangements with House Kundarak before making the purchase, of course. We will also need to acquire two spellbeads, I think, which I can pay for immediately."
Amika grins and fetches the beads she located earlier from within the glass counter display.
Simos takes a breath, then heads into the back area. Faint pounding, crackles, and rumbling pass through the back door while it's open.
Althea pulls out 22 pieces of platinum and 5 pieces of gold and places them on the counter before Amika, accepts the spellbeads, and hands them to Edgeworth.
Edgeworth pockets one, then closes a loose fist around the other and focuses on his meaning for the spell within.
Edgeworth: This sense of connection... This is indeed reminiscent of what it was like when I realized what the meaning of curing a light wound was in the context of my beliefs while holding a wand of the same.
Dil simply nods approvingly of Edgeworth's immediate apparent action.
Edgeworth pockets the second spellbead and looks to Amika. "Furthermore, I would greatly appreciate if you would write down an account of the incident that occurred during your lunch break."
Amika grins thoughtfully for a moment. "You seem to have some use for it, so I do have a condition..."
Edgeworth glares. "Condition?"
Amika: Er... make that two... one, please stop glaring!
Edgeworth grits his teeth and recoils. "Um, right, sorry..." He clears his throat and quickly recovers his composure. "And the one you had in mind to begin with?"
Amika: I would like to know more about the story behind you and your magic. It isn't every day you hear about an atheist cleric!
Edgeworth sighs and glances over at Dil. "Dil has been documenting my progress all this time."
Dil nods. "I should be able to get you copies of all of my notes once this is all over."
Amika grins. "All right, let me get some paper."
After Edgeworth takes Amika's statement, the group has a short discussion in which it decides to have Nathaniel be the one to accompany Althea to the nearest House Kundarak bank to obtain a promissory note. Being forced to wait for the time being and having little new evidence to consider right away, Edgeworth spends the intervening time studying the display carvings and asking questions of Amika and Dil about various magical items for sale.
Once Althea returns, she hands the note to the considerably less occupied Simos, who in turn hands her a long strip of silver divided by a pair of shallow rounded grooves into one long central segment and two shorter segments at each end. A pattern of engraved runes covers one side almost entirely except for the grooves in question. The middle portion of the other side is similarly densely covered, but on that side the short segments differ — each has a centrally-located hole, one has an Eberron dragonshard embedded between the hole and the groove, and the opposite end has a larger carved rune in the corresponding position instead of a dragonshard.
With that transaction completed, Edgeworth does his best to wind down the conversation and the group steps out into the early afternoon sun.
Edgeworth: That conversation was more fruitful than anticipated. At the very least, I have managed to confirm that directly harmful magic items are not something the Trust tolerates the sale of within Zilargo.
Edgeworth frowns. That being said, it's also clear that their definition of "harmful" is narrow enough to exclude many enchantments...
Althea hands the strip of silver to Edgeworth. "Do you want to head back to the Archive, or just get started right away? We're likely to be observed wherever we go, though part of the question is by whom..."
Edgeworth accepts the item. "Unless you believe anyone might interfere, I see no reason to hide or delay."
Edgeworth examines the strip carefully.
Edgeworth: While much of the writing carved into it appears the same, some of it is different — and all of it is smaller. I can't help but be impressed with the sheer physical craftsmanship...
Dil: Schemas of this kind are more like scrolls from an arcane perspective, but for us their use is more like a spellbead.
Dil grins. "And you seemed to figure that out the rest of the way easily by yourself."
Edgeworth spreads his arms and shakes his head, still holding the minor schema in one hand while doing so. "I have built the beginnings of a frame of reference by now, thanks in part to you. Given that, I can finally begin to apply logic to what I encounter."
Edgeworth looks to Althea briefly as well, then gives the minor schema another once-over before gripping it tightly in one hand. "Miss Cissot, if you would please stand before me."
Ellymoha: A-all right.
Nathaniel: He shouldn't be able to mess this up too badly, at least.
Edgeworth holds his free hand up in a complex configuration.
Edgeworth closes his eyes for a moment, then opens them to glare perhaps overly intently even for him as he firmly declares the spell's purpose in the form of an order.
The runes on the schema pulse pale blue briefly, Edgeworth feels the magic he's connected to shift and deepen its connection, and once again he finds himself needing to mentally hold an awareness of more "colors" in place and strain to focus on it. The alien "colors" seem brighter than last time; ordinary colors seem muted by comparison. To the others, Edgeworth's eyes appear to have shifted to a faintly-shimmering blue.
Edgeworth: ...There most certainly is a faint residue of some sort on you.
Althea nods. "Though most likely a different kind than that which you observed previously..."
Edgeworth: Indeed, it differs from both what I saw on Ms. Vadin and your armor.
Edgeworth: Now that I think of it...
Edgeworth gradually looks each of the others over.
Edgeworth: There does appear to be an active aura around Althea as well, but that too differs from the trace on Miss Cissot.
Edgeworth then looks down at himself for a moment.
Edgeworth: ...It differs from the energies of the schema and those lingering on me from Dil's earlier healing spell as well.
Edgeworth double-takes at the schema after a moment. "What...?"
Althea raises an eyebrow.
Edgeworth moves the schema around slowly and holds it in different positions relative to himself.
Althea frowns, then blinks.
Dil blinks, then puts his finger to his lip.
Nathaniel frowns. "Something wrong with the schema?"
Edgeworth: No; I believe I've merely observed evidence of something unrelated to the case.
Edgeworth then lowers the schema.
Ellymoha: Hmm? You didn't stumble on their trade secret, did you?
Althea: I sincerely doubt they would have parted with it if a caster could divine their methods just from observing it with its own spell.
Edgeworth's eyes fade back to their usual steel grey. "Given the current limits of my own skills, I must ask, Miss Cissot: has any sort of spell been cast directly upon you in the last several days to your knowledge?"
Ellymoha shakes her head. "I don't have any bardic training, only musical..."
Edgeworth glares. "And yet, there is evidence that something has been!"
Ellymoha steps back. "I-I... I d-don't..."
Edgeworth: I am not accusing you of anything. Remember, we went to such lengths to obtain means of detecting even faint traces of magic due to my suspicion that the false Rayhan compelled you to deliver that warning.
Ellymoha looks down. "R-right... then could you not look at me like I'm the culprit...?"
Edgeworth's glare melts into a blank stare. One would almost swear that my glare has been strengthened by this magic I've attracted as well.
Ellymoha relaxes visibly and mutters something about being half-archon.
Althea: I think we've established the point as well as we can under the circumstances.
Althea: It's most likely, though not certain, that the false Rayhan was in fact our culprit. Our main remaining lead to pursue would be the names we got from Rayhan herself.
Edgeworth: The resistance we're facing is more than a mere obstacle, however — it's also a potential secondary lead.
Althea: ...In the short term, however... it would probably be a good idea to see to meals, given the hour.
Edgeworth stares incredulously at Althea. "A meal?! At a time like this?! At the most we might be able to spare a moment to buy muffins to eat as we walk."
Edgeworth: Though now that she mentions it, I hadn't even noticed that I was hungry.
Althea: ...I see no problem with haste in the general sense, but we won't be at our best without sustenance, and things are likely only to get more urgent from here...
Edgeworth glares at Althea. "We're already finding evidence of active resistance. We haven't the time to sit down."
Althea eyes Edgeworth. "I wasn't exactly suggesting we head back to the Library district and leisurely discuss our investigation for an hour."
Dil: Most of the food stalls in the chef's market nearby should still be open for several more minutes. At least one of them should still have something ready to eat.
Nathaniel: I presume you have everything you need from—
Ellymoha: I'm not leaving now. This is just starting to get interesting.
Nathaniel blinks and frowns. "He'd better know what he's doing..."
A quick look over the still-open food stalls results in Edgeworth picking out a food item involving a rod-shaped mass of sticky rice and an unfamiliar small pink bean, rolled in a thin layer of egg and griddle-fried until that is cooked, and served in a large leaf of some form of lettuce.
Once the whole group has selected offerings to their liking, they head to the concert hall, that being the most obvious place to find either of the suspicious members of the Marggin family.
Nathaniel: At this hour, they should probably be finishing up rehearsal, so we should be able to catch Rabbalap afterward.
Edgeworth nods. "Is there a particular room he would likely go to, or should we attempt to encounter him on the stage?"
Ellymoha: He'll be filing any scores used in the office, so we could talk to him there.
Edgeworth nods, grinning slightly. "That would be ideal." After all, if my suspicions are correct, we may end up making something of a scene...
Althea nods. "Let's wait there, then. No need to interrupt anything."
Edgeworth looks to Ellymoha. "Please lead the way."
Ellymoha leads the group through the performer's entrance in the rear, and along a corridor and to a tiny room consisting of a small desk, a few chairs, a couple of cabinets with drawers, and a safe. The room is a bit small to accommodate the entire group easily.
Edgeworth: Mmph. I suppose I'm unused to having to accomodate such a large entourage...
Edgeworth peers through the door, seeming to be trying to puzzle out who exactly to pack into the room and how.
Rabbalap turns a corner in the hall while carrying a stack of papers, only to start in surprise at all the people there.
Rabbalap: My, my. Do we have a band here?
Edgeworth: Er, I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Marggin, but we wish to speak with you concerning recent matters.
Ellymoha: I'm still trying to convince Nathaniel to take up actual singing, but no, this is actually about the... um, matter I was worried about the other day.
Rabbalap: Since this isn't a solo act, I'm guessing that it was as dire as it looked?
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Indeed, though its nature is not what Miss Cissot was led to believe. Aside from a medical examination finding something rather different than blinding sickness, there was — and to my knowledge still is — an active aura on the victim."
Althea watches Edgeworth, waiting to see how he plays this rather than adding anything yet.
Rabbalap makes a rising gesture. "I can barely make out what you mean."
Edgeworth: I understand that you require an anti-allergy medication, and recently purchased the ingredients for it. Please testify concerning that matter.
Rabbalap frowns at Edgeworth, making a rather transparent attempt at appearing confused at the change in subject but coming off as more uneasy than anything.
Dil appears mildly amused, but keeps his mouth shut.
Ellymoha lets out a slightly disappointed sigh but says nothing.
Rabbalap: My sister Zemershil usually buys the ingredients for my medication, but she's been more occupied than usual lately, so I did it instead.
Edgeworth: Occupied with what, precisely?
Rabbalap: Well, she's been involved in a game lately. I don't know all the details about it, though.
Edgeworth: And at the moment, I have no basis on which to challenge that latter assertion...
Rabbalap: She wanted me to buy more than I needed, so she could make extra for someone she wanted to win a favor from.
Edgeworth: Can you be more specific about this other person and why she needed a favor from them?
Rabbalap shakes his head. "She's been keeping me out of the affairs of this game for the most part. Maybe she's trying to get a gift for me? She's done that before." He shrugs.
Rabbalap: Anyway, she may have been too busy to buy the ingredients herself as usual, but she wasn't too busy to make it.
Edgeworth: Is making such a medicine a trivial matter for her?
Rabbalap: Oh yes. She makes it for me all the time. It's incredibly helpful...
Edgeworth: And is this the only thing she concocts for your family on a regular basis?
Ellymoha adds as Rabbalap seems to hesitate on this question, "She makes some of the cleaning agents, waxes and resins for the instruments here, right?"
Rabbalap: Well, yes. And she does make things for the flooring as well. She is a skilled alchemist...
Edgeworth: And yet, he didn't wish to be immediately forthcoming on that matter.
Rabbalap: I'm not sure why you're asking about this, though. What does this have to do with what was bothering Ellymoha?
Edgeworth points at Rabbalap. "OBJECTION!"
Rabbalap jumps slightly, then gestures downward.
Edgeworth smirks. "I'm sorry to inform you, but this has everything to do with what was bothering her!"
Edgeworth pulls out Illyvalen's report on her findings in examining Chidellof with a flourish, allowing its contents to be clearly seen.
Rabbalap looks the report over, then looks more openly uneasy. "Sentry's soporific?... But you haven't confirmed it, right?"
Edgeworth: That effort is currently underway. It is, however, consistent with the findings thus far — and the same person who found this also confirmed the similarity between your medication and the poison in question.
Edgeworth: And your sister is not merely someone who knows the rote procedure for a single chemical — she is an alchemist of some skill, by your own admission!
Rabbalap grows angrier. "There are hundreds of alchemists in Korranberg! Why are you accusing my sister of this?!"
Edgeworth puts the medical report away, only to pull out Rayhan's statements instead. "There are not hundreds of alchemists who bought more than they would otherwise have needed, Mr. Marggin."
Edgeworth: Or do you have evidence that she did, in fact, use them for the purpose you claim?
Rabbalap: Rayhan's reagent shop also isn't the only one in Korranberg. Have you checked them all?
Edgeworth spreads his arms and shakes his head. "Perhaps not, but it would certainly be worth our while to do so. After all, one of them likely sold the rest of the ingredients. That being said, we have more to ask you about before we take such measures."
Rabbalap: Ellymoha, are you really going to let him do this?!...
Ellymoha looks at Rabbalap with a pained expression. "Rabbalap, this is serious. Talbo's dead because of this. I don't want to believe it, but I can't... I can't ignore what I've seen and heard."
Rabbalap looks disbelievingly at Ellymoha. "I've heard the rumors, but..."
Nathaniel: I saw the body myself. I would not have believed it possible, least of all from a member of your family, but...
Nathaniel glances at Edgeworth, then looks back at Rabbalap with a grim expression. "No game should ever have people's lives as its stakes. We can't just drop this."
Rabbalap: But sentry's soporific can't kill anyone. And I definitely haven't seen any ingredients for a poison that could.
Edgeworth: So you have seen your sister's lab recently enough to testify to such a fact?
Rabbalap takes out a handkerchief and pats down his forehead.
Edgeworth: As for the relevance of this particular poison to the sequence of events, as you may have noticed, it was not Talbo who had been affected by it, but Chidellof. She was targeted first by the poison, and later by... a spell that blinded her.
Rabbalap: Which isn't quite in harmony with what Ellymoha was so worried about.
Edgeworth: Indeed not — she was quite deliberately misled.
Ellymoha: That was the point... to make me think Egmon had tainted her water with blinding sickness. Because he couldn't have used magic to blind her.
Edgeworth: On that note, I understand that your sister has some form of magical capabilities, but Miss Loeb could not testify to the specifics.
Althea: Though she was able to confirm that she is not the sort of caster who need rely on a spellbook, nor is she a bard...
Rabbalap shakes his head. "She's an unusual case. Most of our family learns music easily, but she wasn't very talented at it. She became involved with theater instead."
Edgeworth: In what capacity is she involved in theater?
Rabbalap: Well, she is a good actress, but her best skill is with illusions.
Edgeworth smirks. "Including the sort suitable for costuming oneself?"
Rabbalap: ...It would be terrible to keep such an instrument out of one's repetoire. She also helps with special effects often.
Edgeworth simply waits, not having more to say on the matter just yet.
Rabbalap: To help hide her presence from the audience when doing that, she has some limited skill in hiding her spellcasting. It wouldn't do to be overheard, after all.
Althea simply nods, as if expecting this.
Rabbalap: In case she needs to cross the stage unseen, she can even cast a spell to turn invisible for a moment.
Edgeworth: This is a very incriminating cluster of coincidences!...
Edgeworth manages to prevent himself from glaring, at least.
Althea: And I presume she's adept enough at moving objects from a distance?
Rabbalap: Of course. There are people better at it, but in the rare case that comes up, she can borrow that capability.
Edgeworth looks mildly baffled at that. "Borrow"?...
Althea frowns, looking as though she's struggling to remember something.
Nathaniel blinks. "She's a spellthief?"
Edgeworth does, in fact, glare as he looks to Nathaniel at that. "Please elaborate immediately!"
Nathaniel: Er, spellthieves have the ability to temporarily drain prepared spells or the potential to cast a spell from a caster. They don't normally learn magic on their own, but I've heard of some of the more exceptional kinds picking up a few spells like a sorcerer would...
Althea shakes her head. "That sounds like a trickster to me. It's a similar discipline, but they are more focused on arcane ability. Notably, a trickster would have access to the same repertoire as a bard, in addition to those normally learned by a spellthief, or those they can steal."
Edgeworth: So in theory, the limitations of her own knowledge would be of only limited relevance, would they not?
Althea nods. "Just like a sorcerer or bard, her grasp of magic would be intuitive, so she would not necessarily seek out knowledge of spells in order to learn them. In addition, a stolen spell can be retained for up to an hour before it is cast, though she would still need to find someone she could obtain the needed spell from."
Edgeworth spreads his arms. "And victims from which she could obtain mind-affecting enchantments are plentiful in this place, are they not?"
Rabbalap begins to look even more nervous at Edgeworth's comment. "What are you getting at now?..."
Ellymoha sighs. "I was supposed to witness that poisoning scene so that I could tell Talbo. Afterward, someone pretending to be Rayhan met with me to... to make sure I did..."
Nathaniel: Indeed, she did show signs of having been under a compulsion when she described the situation in detail.
Edgeworth: And I myself have detected traces of some sort of spell cast upon her.
Edgeworth taps his temple and grins. "Someone more highly skilled at such things than I would likely be able to confirm it in more detail, but as it happens, Nathaniel found the House Medani enclave's receptionist to be strangely uncooperative today."
Nathaniel: Indeed. We showed up as paying customers for a fairly simple service and were all but thrown out on the street. That's not a typical reaction to put it mildly.
Edgeworth pulls out Amika's statement. "Furthermore, someone attempted to thwart the most obvious backup plan — someone who could cast such a spell undetected."
Rabbalap begins to look conflicted...
Althea: ...I don't know if House Cannith is the most obvious backup plan, but it may have been a more opportune target than the Archive under the circumstances.
Althea: After all, if they knew who was investigating things, they'd know arcane scrolls won't do you any good. That only leaves so many options.
Edgeworth: The Archival Foundation has made itself known to the public only relatively recently, though, has it not?
Althea: True. And buying divine scrolls from churches to which one does not belong is an iffy proposition in most places. I guess I'm just too used to dealing with them myself.
Dil: "Buying" isn't really the right word, most of the time... more like trading favors on the Street of a Hundred Temples and getting lucky.
Althea shrugs. "Here, certainly. Back in Sharn money talks if you know where to look, but..."
Edgeworth crosses his arms and looks coolly at Dil. And he hasn't mentioned this "Street of a Hundred Temples" before why?
Althea: So, yes, spellbeads would be an obvious backup for a divine caster without a church backing them up.
Rabbalap seems distant from the conversation, continuing to look deeply uncertain...
Edgeworth: ...Rabbalap Marggin Adredar. It's clear that your sister means a great deal to you; furthermore, I understand it to be traditional here for one's family to be alone in deserving one's complete trust.
Edgeworth: But consider this. It is far from traditional for any ordinary citizen to kill here, and certainly not through bloodshed in broad daylight. Though the methods in play may be highly unorthodox from my own perspective as well, someone clearly arranged things to ensure that such a killing would occur.
Rabbalap shakes his head. "I don't hear how this poisoning and blinding accompany a murder, though..."
Edgeworth: That connection, too, is well-established.
Edgeworth takes out the duplicate of Talbo's request to Belgiwig and offers it.
Edgeworth: While Ellymoha did voice her concerns to you, you were hardly the first — and as you can see here, the version of events she was manipulated into believing stirred doubts in Talbo's mind.
Rabbalap takes the note and stares at it...
Edgeworth takes out the knife sheath next. "This was found on Talbo's body at the crime scene — a knife sheath belonging to his fiancée, sans the knife."
Edgeworth looks to Althea.
Althea: I was able to view the psychic impressions of the attack. Talbo was wielding that knife at the time he confronted Egmon, but it was removed from the scene before we got there.
Althea: The entire reason for their altercation was due to the fact that Talbo believed Egmon was about to try to kill his fiancée.
Edgeworth: This entire scheme, strangely untouched by the Trust as it was, was concocted in such a way as to try to make Egmon look like a murderer. But I can say now with confidence that Egmon is not a murderer — rather, he was the murder weapon!
Edgeworth: Whoever the true murderer may have been, to my mind they've forfeited the right to any love. Whether you agree on this point or not, however, is hardly my decision to make.
Rabbalap offers the note back, still silent.
Edgeworth takes and repockets it.
Ellymoha appears pained but resolute.
Nathaniel maintains a grim expression and remains silent.
Dil seems uneasy at Edgeworth's characterization of things himself, but does seem to have at least shifted from a mostly neutral observation to looking at Rabbalap specifically.
Edgeworth: The Trust seems willing to not merely allow this murder to happen, but to let the murderer walk away, and even fight back against those who would thwart that effort. Can you, in good conscience, do the same?
Rabbalap begins to tear up.
Rabbalap: I... all right. I... did see a bottle of something she doesn't use in the anti-allergy medicine in her lab a few days ago. She's probably disposed of it by now. I... think she probably got it while I was buying the regular ingredients.
Althea: Can you describe it?
Rabbalap: It was a green bottle, very small. I didn't see a label. Maybe it was labeled with an invisible arcane mark, I don't know.
Rabbalap: But it wasn't anything I recognized from any of her usual formulas.
Rabbalap: And she hadn't mentioned anything new she wanted to try, and... dodged the qu-question of what... it was for.
Edgeworth crosses his arms and begins to tap his finger. And it would seem as though familial obligations alone were holding him back on the matter. Were it anyone else, I doubt he would have been nearly so uncooperative.
Edgeworth: And are we the first people you've told of this?
Rabbalap: I was sure the Trust would watch any suspicious purchases and stop them from being abused...
Edgeworth: Mm, just why the Trust has allowed all this to happen is the greatest question before us.
Edgeworth: Though the idea of someone being tailed — or, perhaps, scried upon — simply for buying something suspicious as opposed to directly illegal is an uncomfortable idea...
Edgeworth: Do you have any idea where she would go to obtain something that would, presumably, arouse Miss Loeb's suspicion had she bought it at her shop?
Rabbalap shakes his head. "I know there are a lot of reagent shops out there, but I don't know the differences between them or even where all of them are."
Edgeworth: Hmph. I suppose that would be too easy.
Edgeworth: I am left to wonder, however, if Illyvalen knows even more than she initially let on...
Althea: I suppose Illyvalen would be the best person to ask on that point.
Edgeworth looks to Althea. "I was thinking much the same thing. Do you suppose her analyses are complete by now, or would be by the time we made it to wherever she's likely to be conducting them?"
Althea: I can check with her if you give me a minute...
Edgeworth nods. "Very well, then."
Edgeworth then looks back to Rabbalap. "In the meantime, is there anything more you wish to share?"
Edgeworth: A pity that I can't tell his shame at having admitted as much as he has from any shame he might have about hiding more.
Edgeworth uncrosses his arms. "At the very least, would you be willing to write down the observation you've already admitted to? Such things are, as you've seen, of great use to me."
Rabbalap: ...I... I suppose... if you'd let me into my office?
Edgeworth steps backward carefully, so as not to run into any of the others. "Of course."
It doesn't take Rabbalap long to write out his statement, bring it back out, and offer it to Edgeworth.
Edgeworth accepts the sheet of paper, then bows. "Your cooperation is appreciated."
Ellymoha: I... I'm so sorry, Rabbalap...
Rabbalap: ...You're... supposed to be a victim in this too, right? So...
Ellymoha shakes her head. "I'm not worried about that right now. There are people who are still suffering because of this..."
Edgeworth: Indeed, suffering that it wouldn't do to prolong much further. Fortunately, at the rate this investigation is proceeding, I suspect it'll be complete sometime tomorrow.
Edgeworth: But the question then becomes, what do we do with what we've uncovered in a place like this?
Althea looks up, looking slightly worried. "It seems Illyvalen ran into some possible interference as well. When she got back to the lab she's been using at the Library she was told that it had been closed for some kind of emergency maintenance, and that none of the other labs that would have what she needed were available either..."
Edgeworth looks to Althea with a glare. "That would seem to indicate that as you suspected, the perpetrator has taken note of us specifically."
Althea nods. "Under the circumstances, she decided that the best option was to return to her family's residence. That's where her clinic — well, really more her cousin's at this point — is located. She's working on the analysis, but it shouldn't be too much longer."
Edgeworth: Then let us make our way there next.
Illyvalen's family residence turns out to be a fairly large house in an upper-class district; the adjoining clinic advertising itself as free to those in need seems a little bit incongruous under the circumstances. Said clinic looks to have been built as a separate wing of the residence, perhaps originally intended as servants' quarters. Through the wide windows of the clinic, several workers and a few patients can be seen, but the level of activity suggests it is not as swamped as such facilities might be in more impoverished locales.
As the group enters the clinic, a gnome with long candy-red hair and violet eyes who bears some resemblance to Illyvalen looks over towards the group with a reserved expression. "Yes, what do you— Oh. You brought him here..."
Edgeworth blinks, then raises his finger to his temple. "Has Illyvalen described me to you, then?"
Dil shakes his head and mutters something.
Tikra appears to be working in the clinic as well, changing bedsheets.
Jeslaryun: Hardly. She's been in the back since she got here, working on some "critically important test" or something. Look. If you turn around and walk out that door right now, I'll pretend I never saw you.
Althea blinks in confusion.
Edgeworth: Er, ma'am, we're here —
An aggrieved-sounding voice cries out from the back room. "I heard that!"
A somewhat older male gnome with shorter hair of the same candy-red and grey eyes comes storming out into the front area of the clinic. "I told you if they showed up to show them to the lounge!"
Jeslaryun looks back at the other gnome. "And I told you not to lurk in the back room. But we don't always get what we want, do we?"
Edgeworth glares. "I beg your pardon, but I haven't come to engage in idle chatter!"
Toralnik: Idle? Hardly! You're investigating a murder in Korranberg — in Korranberg, of all places — and you think I want to just shoot the breeze about inconsequential matters? Who do you take me for?
Edgeworth crosses his arms, his glare lessening. "By now, someone who doesn't know the meaning nor the underlying social implications of 'no comment.'"
Althea looks awkward. Should I know who this is...?
Jeslaryun: Now, father, just because Illyvalen keeps meeting strange people while you're out of the country doesn't mean you're entitled to grill them for everything they know the moment you get back.
Edgeworth grits his teeth. Must people keep referring to me as "strange"?
Toralnik: Now, that's not—
Jeslaryun: Besides, after what happened to poor Tikra, I can hardly blame anyone for being reluctant to have an interview...
Toralnik: There was nothing wrong with my article about Tikra! Yes, I admit that the response was a bit... noticeable... but that just shows how significant the interest in our growing cultural diversity is.
Edgeworth sighs. Should I ask?
Jeslaryun rolls her eyes.
Dil cuts in. "So how much do you know?"
Toralnik: About him or the murder?
Dil puts his finger to his lip. "Both, actually."
Toralnik grins slightly. "He's supposedly an 'atheist cleric from another world', calls himself a criminal prosecutor, has a holy symbol no one recognizes, and considers himself empowered by truth."
Toralnik: Also, he's been teaching Illyvalen that funny language of his.
Edgeworth: I am a criminal prosecutor, and that "holy symbol" is in fact my badge of office.
Toralnik has a pen and notebook out before Edgeworth has finished his sentence, writing quickly.
Toralnik: As for the murder, the victim is Talbo Santor d'Sivis of the Speaker's Guild. You've detained a man named Egmon Niralamba Santiar at a Tharashk facility in connection with the murder, and you're investigating its connection to the recent blindness of one Chidellof Vadin Chivarach, the fiancée of the deceased.
Toralnik: And most remarkably of all, the Trust is letting you do it.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "Indeed, I'm told that not only is a murder of this kind highly abnormal here, but that it's more abnormal still for the Trust to allow people to so much as notice one."
Dil nods slowly.
Toralnik: Indeed. I actually checked the calendar myself just to see if Daanvi had gone remote in the past couple days.
Edgeworth: Anyway, do keep in mind that to report anything about the murder now would be rather premature. Our investigation is still underway. That being said, there is one detail that begs to be clarified, lest you lose sight of the truth entirely.
Toralnik looks half-disappointed and half-offended. "Do you take me for some kind of fool or inexperienced novice? This is not the first murder I've worked on. It's just the only murder in Korranberg."
Althea frowns slightly.
Ellymoha blinks and seems about to ask a question, only to apparently recall something that answers it for her.
Edgeworth's manner softens to neutrality; he uncrosses his arms. "So long as we're clear on that point."
Dil grins, seeming to catch something about Edgeworth's change of attitude.
Edgeworth: Anyway... at this time, Mr. Niralamba's detainment is entirely for his own safety.
Toralnik: Is that so? Hmm, yes, I suppose it wouldn't do for Chidellof in particular to find out when you're planning to release him.
Edgeworth: There is more to it than that. This murder was nearly a murder-suicide.
Edgeworth spreads his arms and shakes his head. "Though it is a rare thing indeed for the murder weapon to be the one to attempt suicide rather than the murderer themselves."
Toralnik blinks. "And how exactly does a sword attempt suicide?"
Althea holds her forehead. I thought it was supposed to be Edgeworth who hates dealing in metaphors.
Edgeworth shakes his head again, lowering his arms. "The incident was the outcome of a scheme so elaborate that it makes the question of why the Trust allowed it to occur all the more pressing. There are several points at which they could have interfered."
Toralnik: Presumably, the blinding and the altercation itself, but I take it you've identified other critical moments?
Jeslaryun: Not that I'm not interested, but I have other duties. If you'll excuse me.
Jeslaryun heads toward the back area.
Toralnik blinks in surprise at Jeslaryun's departure.
Edgeworth: It's hardly surprising. Illyvalen is conducting a pair of tests right now — one to confirm preliminary results about an apparent poison she found in Chidellof's body, and one that will allow us to prove our observations at the beginning of all of this.
Toralnik: Oh, Illyvalen can handle that on her own. But Jeslaryun would usually make the time for something this good... well, at least, she used to... she works herself too hard here with Illyvalen gone...
Edgeworth: Anyway, as to your question, the poison in question relates to other points at which the Trust could have intervened.
Toralnik nods. "Presumably relating to when and how it was procured?"
Edgeworth: Apparently, the culprit was allowed to brew what we believe to have been sentry's soporific; taint water that Chidellof drank with it while in the guise of Egmon; and then, in the guise of Rayhan Loeb Dalian, subsequently manipulate Ellymoha Cissot Adredar into believing that Egmon and Chidellof were going to duel, Egmon had placed blinding sickness in her drink, and the Trust was allowing this to happen out of the belief that Zilargo would be better off without either.
Toralnik: Which no doubt relates to why Miss Cissot Adredar is now among your entourage?
Edgeworth: Verily. After all, the perpetrator was not content to simply let things run their course; once Ellymoha was convinced of this, the culprit enchanted Ellymoha to deliver a warning to Talbo.
Toralnik nods. "From what I gather, more often than not it's the sheer number of steps taken to make sure everything goes right that ensures there's enough evidence to catch the culprit."
Edgeworth: Mm, and this case is an exceptional example of that.
Edgeworth: I apologize for my earlier behavior, by the way. I've seen far too many people who ought to be allies of truth instead caring more for their own glory.
Edgeworth: Among reporters, sometimes even those who are well-meaning say too much too soon. Indeed, under normal circumstances I would be less forthcoming for fear that an early report would color the trial process.
Edgeworth glances aside with a slight frown. "As there will be no trial this time, though, I can be freer with information."
Toralnik sighs and shakes his head. "I imagine the scene you witnessed upon coming in didn't help. Jeslaryun likes to tease me about my sensitivity regarding missing news happening around the family while I'm away. It's not the first time I've come back to find Illyvalen sitting on the makings of a remarkable story."
Toralnik glances to where Tikra is working. "I first found out about her at the lightning rail station. That was a good three months after Illyvalen and Jeslaryun found her dying and nursed her back to health."
Edgeworth blinks. It would seem there's more to their relationship than I suspected.
Toralnik: I've forgotten to introduce myself, too, haven't I. I'm Toralnik Mirilas Forlin, reporter for the Chronicle. I usually cover foreign stories, but I make a point of coming back to Korranberg when I can.
Edgeworth makes a sweeping bow. "Miles Edgeworth, though I presume you've had me at a disadvantage all this time."
Toralnik: True enough; your name is becoming well-known around Korranberg even without any coverage. And I recognize Mr. Salyrria Tarren as one of Illyvalen's colleages at the Library. Though I'm not familiar with you, sir.
Toralnik looks to Dil with this last sentence.
Dil nods. "Dil. I usually spend my days doing shopping, negotiations, scribe work, and the like for the Archival Foundation. But I've found myself spending the last couple of weeks helping this man through his awakening."
Toralnik nods. "So he is a new cleric, then. The rumors have been less than clear about that; I think many have the impression that his world is somehow full of cleric-prosecutors without gods, but I've heard others suggest he somehow became a cleric against his will and is trying not to be one..."
Edgeworth: I would not go so far as to say I was trying not to be one. In serving the truth, I've never really had a choice; this was simply a particularly bizarre and uncomfortable development in that journey.
Edgeworth winces during the latter part of his statement.
Toralnik: So it was in crossing to our world that truth has called you to go beyond the role of priest and take the next step? Curious.
Edgeworth: OBJECTION! People do not worship truth in my world! Indeed, science and religion have been at odds for as long as science has existed.
Toralnik shakes his head. "Devout, then, if you do not guide others to your cause. It is strange, though, to think that a world would turn its back so firmly on Aureon that science and knowledge would be cast out."
Althea: I'm not sure that's quite... you know what, no, I don't even think I'm qualified to speculate at this point...
Edgeworth: Hmph. Humanity in my world — the only sapient, tool-using species known there, for the record — has always craved knowledge, but until several hundred years ago had little to no concept of how to go about it.
Edgeworth: Religions and untested speculation filled the gap for thousands of years.
Edgeworth: In some parts of the world, people who made new discoveries that contradicted such assumptions were decried as heretics and burned alive. In others, new discoveries were largely shrugged at and regarded as toys, rather than deeply explored, once it was clear that they didn't in and of themselves entail some sort of elixir of life.
Edgeworth: In still others, people were content to live at the level of subsistence or of trade.
Edgeworth: This is not to say that the world was entirely in stasis. Indeed, yet another part of the world pursued further understanding of mathematics in particular.
Edgeworth spreads his arms. "In time interaction between these different parts of the world — some congenial, some not, and most driven by a hunger for resources that were not yet universally available — led to the beginnings of change."
Edgeworth's features harden. "Such change did not come easily. Some of the world's more powerful religions did not wish to cede their dominant positions as the sole controllers of what constituted 'knowledge'. Even today, there are those who turn their backs upon the truth, or are too naïve to submit what they think they know to the scientific method."
Dil has started writing things down himself.
Toralnik has turned to another page, writing quickly as Edgeworth delivers this speech. After about half a minute, he adds, "So in your world it is the churches who became the power that rose up to challenge nations, wielding a monopoly on accepted knowledge as the Twelve wield monopolies on goods and services?"
Althea frowns. "Haven't you mentioned the existence of religious icons for the very ideas you promote, that merely fell into disuse as their religions foundered?"
Edgeworth: The civilization those date from was highly unusual for its time. It dated from before the dominance I described grew stifling and dangerous, and engaged in a great deal of philosophical thought. Many of the old ideas that did not come directly from a religion came from it.
Edgeworth glances aside. "But they believed that contemplation alone would lead to truth. They did not seek evidence or test their theories."
Althea's expression becomes troubled. "I see. Perhaps the knowledge and understanding of Khorvaire will some day be swept away by an oppressive power from without as well..."
Toralnik blinks. "I hope that was not a prophecy of the next planar invasion, Miss Tamochi d'Jorasco."
Althea shakes her head. "Just a thought on the various threats that are always facing us."
Toralnik: I see. I would like to have a chance to discuss your perspective on those at some point, but I think that had better wait for the moment.
Edgeworth glares at no one in particular. All the more reason to continue to walk this path even as it leads into parts unknown.
Toralnik: So, I guess that without the legacy of the giants, the historical perspective of the elves and the gnomes' passion for study, humans in your world were left at a disadvantage in coming to discover the nature of their world. Yet you found your way there, albeit among a more conflicted path...
Edgeworth crosses his arms as he contains himself. "Indeed so. Perhaps the single most important factor in that was that the printing press made its way to the most oppressed yet most industrious part of the world. It was accepted because it allowed the church to circulate sacred texts more easily, but others used it as well to share other ideas. Many were exposed to ancient Hellenic thought for the first time due to this."
Toralnik: Mm, for reaching a mass audience such an advance is critical. It's difficult to scale the casting of Amanuensis sufficiently to cope with the need to make thousands of copies.
Edgeworth grins. "I was pleased to see even a small press soon after my arrival here, for reasons that should be obvious."
Toralnik grins as well. "If you'd like, I can probably get you a look at one of the Chronicle's presses. The main office here is responsible for printing the copy for Korranberg, Zolanberg, and various nearby towns."
Edgeworth: I suspect I'll have much to discuss with House Sivis after we've finished our investigation. Your cooperation would be most appreciated.
Toralnik blinks. "I see. Those are not unreasonable terms under the circumstances. But in exchange, I'm not going to sit this out passively. You clearly have a number of observers for your investigation already, so one more should not be a problem. And I want a full interview with you afterward."
Edgeworth blinks at first, but finally nods once Toralnik finishes speaking. I suppose I really don't have a choice.
Toralnik: Then it's a deal. Shall we see if my niece has any results for you yet?
Edgeworth nods again, more firmly. "Please do."
Toralnik leads the group into the rear portion of the clinic and along a hallway to a closed door.
Toralnik: There won't be room for all of us in here, so most of you had better wait in the hall.
Toralnik gently opens the door, looking in to make sure Illyvalen isn't in the middle of anything delicate before speaking. "So, how are things progressing here?"
Illyvalen doesn't look up from her work. "I'm going to be a little while yet."
Edgeworth: Has anything unexpected been found at this time, or have these tests simply proved to confirm what we know so far?
Illyvalen does look up at this. "Oh, Mr. Edgeworth. Um, no, everything's checking out so far. I can't be absolutely sure the poison was sentry's soporific, but if not it was almost certainly a variation on that formula."
Edgeworth: And all is as it seemed concerning the blood on Egmon's sword as well?
Illyvalen returns her focus to her work. "I need more time. Nothing out of the ordinary has come up yet, but..."
Edgeworth nods. "Very well. There is another reason we wished to speak with you, however. It has been brought to my attention that some other reagent dealer may have been the source for one of the poison's ingredients, but I have no idea what other ones exist in this city."
Illyvalen: There are some others in the alchemy market. I think there are a few others who deal in them without maintaining actual storefronts. You could probably ask Je— no, she'd be busier than I am right now. Just a minute...
Edgeworth: It's somewhat improbable that the other shop in play would be in the alchemy market, given that Rabbalap testified that Zemershil was somewhere else entirely when he was buying the ingredients and that he suspected she was buying this suspicious small green bottle while he was doing so.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, if the intent was to prevent it from being immediately obvious to observers that she intended to make sentry's soporific, being in the same area at the same time as Raballap would seem to defeat the purpose.
Illyvalen remains turned away from Edgeworth, and there is a subtle and odd change in her tone of voice as she responds. "Ah. In other words, you're looking for the kind of dealer someone like me isn't supposed to know about."
Edgeworth looks uneasy. I've scarcely seen anyone but the guilty change their demeanor in such a way...
Althea: What in the world...?
Ellymoha blinks in surprise quickly followed by apparent amusement.
Nathaniel nods knowingly.
Edgeworth looks to Toralnik, keeping how disturbed he is from entirely showing in the process.
Toralnik coughs slightly, as if trying to catch Illyvalen's attention without actually commenting at all.
Illyvalen: In this case, though, I suspect the people you really want to ask are my parents. They did a lot of... "exploring of options" back when it seemed my ill health would claim my life as a child... The little I've heard is mostly what they've warned me away from.
Edgeworth nods. "Though I know nothing about the alchemy of this world, and precious little of... er, I don't believe there's actually a Common word to draw the distinction between what in English would be called 'alchemy and chemistry'."
Edgeworth: Ergo, I don't know what precisely I would be asking for a source for. All kinds of different things could be stored in a small green bottle, after all.
Illyvalen: But in this case, we're not looking for just anything, we're looking for a restricted substance that makes up part of the formula for sentry's soporific. Probably the detoxified extract of sassone leaf, that would be the most cost-effective form of the active ingredient as far as I know...
Edgeworth nods. "I see..." And to think that before, Rayhan had seemed the more troubling woman on this topic...
Edgeworth: Would your parents be anywhere in the house at this time?
Illyvalen: Yeah, I should introduce you and explain what's going on.
Illyvalen turns around and starts suddenly as she takes in the size of the group watching her. "Ah, er, th-that was... um... n-nevermind."
Dil looks amused. "I guess I'm not the only changeling in the room."
Edgeworth recoils. Has she been —
Dil: Oh, don't worry. We can't actually change our mass that much.
Illyvalen: Please don't make fun of me...
Althea: Er, I don't think Dil meant it that way. Just... well, that's not exactly how you normally behave, the way you were acting a moment ago.
Illyvalen blushes even deeper. "Um, well, you did ask about stuff that... well... I mean I can't just pretend not to know under the circumstances, but... it's hard to know how to deal with stuff this... this awful... without resorting to that..." At the end, she starts to tear up.
Edgeworth seems completely off-kilter and at a loss.
Nathaniel: I think you can be forgiven for being driven out of character in such trying circumstances. Even the best performers have to step off the stage at some point.
Illyvalen: I just... don't like to be like that except around family. I mean, it's okay if it's Tikra, or Althea, or Mr. Edgeworth... I just didn't realize you'd brought everyone here.
Althea blinks. Did she just... no. Not if she's including Edgeworth. That's pretty much unthinkable at this point.
Toralnik: Er, Illyvalen is maybe something of an unusual case. I don't know how much you've heard or read about Zil society...
Edgeworth: Um... well... the Trust, and your, um, love of knowledge and schemes.
Althea: I presume you're referring to masks?
Toralnik nods. "For most it'd be more subtle, but they say the face a Zil lets you see in public is never the whole truth. Only in her case, it's not entirely clear whether she's putting on a mask or taking one off..."
Toralnik speaks a little more quietly. "...In my own opinion, I think when she gets flustered enough she tries to act like my daughter because she's not sure how else to cope..."
Edgeworth lowers his voice as well, glancing around with an uncertain frown. "I've personally only seen the guilty shift quite so dramatically in such a direction."
Illyvalen does burst into tears at that.
Althea glances awkwardly at Edgeworth before stepping forward to offer a hug to Illyvalen.
Illyvalen embraces Althea tightly and continues openly crying for a few minutes.
Several clinic workers pop their heads around the corner of the hallway, peering curiously at the group.
Nathaniel stares at Edgeworth for a moment before shaking his head.
Nathaniel: It is one thing to be surprised at an incongruity in one's actions and quite another to accuse one of wrongdoing...
Edgeworth steps back from Nathaniel. "OBJECTION! I was not accusing her of anything!"
Nathaniel: Well, it certainly sounded something like that.
Edgeworth glares in an oddly vulnerable-looking way at Nathaniel. "I — I'm perfectly aware of that now!"
Dil simply sighs and shakes his head.
Toralnik manages somehow to take notes without pulling his eyes away from the scene before him.
Ellymoha: You can't ever really truly know what's in anyone's heart, but actions and reputation resonate more than one's words... and Illyvalen Mirilas Forlin has a stainless reputation in our community.
Nathaniel: Indeed. I've never once heard anyone impugn her character in the slightest.
Edgeworth forces himself to pull himself together somewhat. "Setting aside the question of the nature of reputations, I've been given no substantive reason to doubt her character in the least. Ergo, I was completely unprepared for what just happened."
Edgeworth: From my own perspective, it was a complete non sequitur.
Tikra makes her way down the hall toward the group, looking into the room.
Tikra glances at Illyvalen and Althea. "I presume he had another difficult question?"
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Er, no. I simply misspoke..."
Dil's amusement seems to have run out for the moment. "At least this time you weren't trying to insult anyone."
Althea: Edgeworth... reacted poorly to seeing an... unexpected side of Illyvalen...
Tikra blinks and her eyes widen a little. "She removed her mask for you... I suppose a matter this grave might have required it..."
Tikra shakes her head. "That is not something she would do lightly. It says much that she was willing to do so for your sake."
Edgeworth looks away and grabs his arm, his expression pained.
Illyvalen releases Althea and wipes her eyes. "It's... it's okay. I'm okay."
Althea looks at Edgeworth and frowns. I'm not quite sure how to bridge this divide in perspectives, even if I can see across it myself...
Edgeworth: ...Say what you must.
Althea sighs and puts a hand to her forehead. Why did I have to be the only non-Zil here.
Althea: Please try to understand that you're dealing not just with a foreigner but with someone who had not so much as heard of the existence of gnomes, let alone Zil culture, a mere couple of weeks ago. As he said, he basically fell back on the perspective of his own world, not to mention his profession, in reacting to the unexpected. That's not a justification, just an explanation. I gather he's had to force more than a few masks off of those who wore them for a much more immediate and situational reason, and wasn't prepared to distinguish between matters of... identity versus self-preservation...
Tikra shrugs slightly. "I too knew not whether I could trust Illyvalen the moment I first saw her. I came to know that with certainty, but it did take time."
Edgeworth remains in his allegedly self-protective position. "Those masks I've seen were often more than just fleeting things meant to defend oneself from justice in the heat of the moment. Indeed, mere days before my being deposited here, I brought down a man who was a striking example of how far evil will go to appear harmless."
Edgeworth: He must have presented that façade for nearly a decade — and he's hardly alone in using such tactics over the long term.
Edgeworth: To see that sort of shift in an apparently innocent woman, without her being backed into a corner with evidence proving her otherwise... I simply didn't know what to make of it.
Edgeworth closes his eyes and squeezes his arm. "Nor do I know how to atone for mere admission of such an incongruity."
Illyvalen merely smiles sadly at Edgeworth. "No, I should have known better. It was too soon. I guess I... just imagined you'd understand for some reason... my family always warns me against being so impulsive..."
Tikra actually looks slightly uncomfortable at this.
Dil frowns enigmatically at Illyvalen, but doesn't comment.
Edgeworth: One thing is clear: I still have far more to learn than I imagined. An entire other world, indeed...
Illyvalen: Anyway, you need to talk to my parents, right? I'm pretty sure they're here.
Edgeworth finally 'unwraps' himself and looks to Illyvalen, though his expression is grim. "Indeed. The next obvious step in my investigation lies somewhere quite obscure."
Illyvalen enters the hall, looking over the assembled group. "Uh, maybe it's best if not everyone comes along... Uncle Toralnik, could you take everyone else to the kitchen and offer some tea?"
Toralnik: Mm, that's probably for the best under the circumstances.
Illyvalen leads the group through a hallway connecting the clinic wing to the main residence. From here, the group splits, Toralnik leading most into a kitchen with a small adjoining dining area, while Illyvalen leads Edgeworth, Althea and Tikra upstairs and to a large set of double doors upon which she knocks briefly before calling, "Mom? Dad? Are you here?"
The doors are very suddenly pulled open and a middle-aged gnome woman with aqua hair and the same striking sapphire eyes as Illyvalen pulls her into an embrace. "Illyvalen, dear, I didn't know you were going to be here today, you're usually so busy these days. Ah, and who are these? New friends of yours?"
Illyvalen: Yes. I told you about Althea already in a letter. And this is Mr. Edgeworth. He's the one that people have been talking about, the one from 'Earth'.
Desrala gives both Althea and Edgeworth very intense appraising looks.
Edgeworth crosses his arms and taps his finger, waiting this out while more subtly sizing Desrala up.
Another gnome, a well-dressed man with silver hair and eyes of an almost navy blue color, emerges from a side room into the large room the others are standing in front of. He makes his way over to the others, his expression seemingly mildly curious, but his bearing giving a sense of intensity even to that.
Edgeworth: I've rarely encountered people quite this obviously purposeful in their curiosity outside of the justice system...
Desrala: So you are the one about whom so much fuss is being made right now. An 'atheist cleric from another world'?
Edgeworth lowers his arms. "Indeed. Do you require more information before my own questions are to be answered?"
Desrala looks bemused. "Well, you don't like beating around the bush, do you? If you want frankness I can certainly oblige. What exactly are your intentions toward my daughter?"
Illyvalen looks taken aback. "Mom!"
Edgeworth blinks. "My intentions in what sense, ma'am?"
Desrala: In every sense. From what I've heard, you two have spent a lot of time together. You're not the first person she's endeavored to teach Common to, of course. But then there are these... other rumors.
Edgeworth crosses his arms again. "Go on."
Desrala: ...it's been said that in the wake of your arrival a murder has occurred in our city, and that you immediately got mixed up in it.
Edgeworth looks aside disdainfully, his arms still crossed. "I have been here for nearly two weeks, and quite frankly have a solid alibi for the apparent time of death. Given the amount of attention I've garnered, you should be able to find someone who was at the concert hall that day and took notice of our presence without much issue."
Edgeworth glances at Illyvalen, Althea and Tikra as he finishes this statement.
Desrala crosses her arms. "So, you claim to have had nothing to do with either the incident itself or with its aftermath?"
Edgeworth: I had no hand in its cause. I merely was among those who spearheaded the investigation when we discovered the body.
Desrala narrows her eyes. "An investigation you have involved my daughter in, unless I have heard falsely."
Edgeworth: Not by force.
Illyvalen: Um, I was kinda already there. We were just on our way back from the concert...
Illyvalen: I... I couldn't just ignore something like that. Not if more people could end up hurt...
Desrala sighs. "...I suppose that sounds about right." She looks over toward Althea. "I assume you also just happened to be there?"
Althea nods. "Edgeworth, Nathaniel, Illyvalen, Tikra and I were heading back toward the Library District together at the time. Tikra was the first to notice something out of place. We all found the murder scene together."
Desrala: I suppose that's the best answer I'm going to get, then... What did you want to know? You said you had your own questions.
Edgeworth lowers his arms and takes on a more neutral, businesslike demeanor. "Indeed. In the course of this investigation, Illyvalen has determined that a certain restricted substance was involved in the frankly convoluted chain of events we've uncovered."
Edgeworth: The question is where our suspect might have obtained such a thing as sassone leaf, whether detoxified already or in a state allowing an alchemist to do so oneself. Furthermore, she suggested the two of you as who to ask.
Desrala raises an eyebrow. "Did she now? I wonder why that would be?"
Edgeworth frowns. "She spoke of past desperation for a cure for her on your parts, perhaps too readily."
Desrala frowns as well. "I see. So naturally, you presume us to have scoured the city for every disreputable alchemist we could find. And that we would be more than happy to repay any assistance they might theoretically have been by throwing you at them."
Edgeworth: Er... Blast, I should have considered that last detail. Mrs. Mirilas, if we cannot decisively prove that our suspect obtained a crucial ingredient that could have been used in the process of brewing sentry's soporific in place of a dose of anti-allergy medicine, we'll simply be accused of spouting baseless conjecture and she'll walk away laughing.
Illyvalen: Mom, please. This is really important.
Noremdal: Now, now, no need to get upset. I think I have some ideas myself on this point. If I can procure for you by morning a signed statement as to whom the buyer was, would that suffice? I think I can still bring some pressure to bear in these matters.
Edgeworth smirks. "That would do nicely, yes. At that point, we would essentially have all the evidence necessary to establish what happened, and would only need to determine motive."
Althea frowns slightly. "Er, and what consideration in return would be... appropriate, given our somewhat constrained circumstances?"
Noremdal looks thoughtful. "I see you have acquired the cautiousness so many foreigners lack. I suppose you would prefer something to be dispatched immediately so you can put your debts behind you... I'm afraid I don't really have anything I'm looking for just at this moment that would be properly commensurate..."
Noremdal looks directly at Althea. "From what I have heard recently, though, it seems you've been shouldering this man's debts... and I've heard a little bit about the work you do back in Sharn..."
Edgeworth frowns. Where is he going with this?...
Noremdal: I may not have as active a role as I once did, but like many I deal in information, and having contacts in useful places is quite important to me... so here are my terms. I may need information about goings on at Morgrave. I don't know precisely when or precisely what yet. But when I do, I want your best effort to get it for me. It shouldn't be more difficult than what I'm about to do for you...
Edgeworth looks to Althea at that.
Althea looks slightly uncomfortable, but nods slowly. "I can see how that would fit the expectations of Zil society."
Noremdal laughs at that. "You don't like our games, I see. But you're not refusing, are you?"
Althea looks at Edgeworth, then back to Noremdal. "...I'll accept those terms."
Edgeworth nods as well, then looks back to Noremdal.
Noremdal: Very well. I should have what you need by morning. You're welcome to stay the night as Illyvalen's guests if you like, we have plenty of room.
Edgeworth looks back to Althea. "Would you be forced to pay for tonight's inn stay regardless?"
Althea looks to Edgeworth. "This is a bit late to check out, so yeah."
Edgeworth: Hmmm. Then that seems terribly unfair to you when you're already shouldering ever more debt on my behalf. Quite frankly, it's all but highway robbery by now...
Noremdal shrugs. "Suit yourselves. Oh, there's just one more thing before you go."
Edgeworth looks back to Noremdal. "That being?"
Noremdal's voice turns cold. "There's one thing that matters more to us than any game or deals, and that's our daughter's safety. If any harm were to come to her... it would be the work of the rest of our lives to make whomever is responsible pay for it... That's not a threat, it's just a fact."
Illyvalen: Daaaad! Stop trying to intimidate my friends!
Edgeworth simply glares back. I know all too well what can happen if a parent's love goes too far... and apparently, these parents take it to an entirely different level than my father did.
Noremdal simply slips out of his icy demeanor as if he hadn't said anything, returning to his earlier guise of affability. "Well, then, I will see you tomorrow. Good evening."
Edgeworth's glare doesn't let up.
Desrala: It's good to see you again, dear. I hope you'll find more time to stop by.
Illyvalen: Um, yeah...
Illyvalen looks over toward Edgeworth.
Illyvalen: Um, it's not personal, they're like that to everyone... Even Tikra's had to deal with that.
Edgeworth just seems more indignant and cold in his glare.
Tikra shrugs. "I merely answered truthfully."
Edgeworth: ...Hmph. Quite frankly, the truth is that there are limits concerning what I, personally, can do to guarantee that. On the other hand, thus far the only resistance we've encountered is someone enchanting people who might otherwise help us to instead obstruct us.
Edgeworth: That being said, it has never been my intention to let her or anyone else here come to harm. I simply cannot be expected to be held responsible for things that are out of my hands and currently beyond my power to prevent or undo.
Althea: I would never willingly let Illyvalen come to harm... but there are limits to what I can do as well.
Noremdal turns toward the large windows in the back of the room. "...I think you may have misunderstood me. I'm not placing Illyvalen in your charge; it's long been obvious we can't protect her from everything. I just want you to know where things stand if you betray her trust."
Edgeworth finally eases off, then also looks back to Noremdal. "I am not one to betray those who do not first commit some gross violation of the law themselves — and I find it highly unlikely that Illyvalen would do anything on the order of attempting murder."
Illyvalen gasps slightly at the mere suggestion.
Tikra: Such a thing could not be imagined.
Tikra looks downward, her expression seeming troubled for a moment.
Noremdal: It sounds to me like we are all on the same page, then.
Edgeworth: Then let us be on our way.
Edgeworth, Althea, Illyvalen and Tikra take their leave and return to the kitchen to inform the remainder of the group about the arrangements. Illyvalen returns to conducting her tests and Tikra resumes working in the clinic, and the rest of the group depart from Illyvalen's residence; Nathaniel and Ellymoha split off to head toward the latter's residence while the rest head toward the inn where Edgeworth is staying.
Althea glances sideways at Edgeworth. "So... I get the sense that you've been accused of murder somewhat frequently?"
Edgeworth appears troubled by the question, though not startled. "Indeed, though only once was I ever at any real risk."
Althea: Mm. It sounded like something you've gotten used to having to refute.
Edgeworth glances aside disdainfully. "Mm. I had to counter a particularly spurious claim not long before I found myself here."
Dil blinks owlishly at Edgeworth over this conversation.
Toralnik raises an eyebrow. "Is that a common hazard for your profession in your world, or is there some kind of personal issue in play?"
Edgeworth: Somewhat common, yes.
Toralnik frowns. "That must complicate your role significantly. The prosecution's credibility is rather important where public trials are the norm."
Edgeworth grits his teeth briefly. "There are greater hazards to one's credibility."
Althea: Is criminality so much the norm in his world that no one deserves benefit of doubt? Is that why he's so reluctant to trust anyone?
Toralnik: I suppose. After all, even a murderer could still be honest.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Do keep in mind I was cleared of all charges the one time such an accusation made it to court at all. I was framed by someone who... had ample opportunity to come to know me."
Edgeworth smiles wistfully ever so briefly, even with his arms still crossed. "Wright saved me, that time."
Althea: I see... That at least ties in with his stated reasons for being wary of altruism. This likely relates to one of the traumas he's chosen not to speak of thus far.
Toralnik shrugs. "Still, in my experience even allegations can do a lot of harm... That's one of the reasons it's so important to get a story right before you publish anything. A correction can't rebuild a shattered reputation."
Edgeworth nods grimly.
Edgeworth: I've certainly been on the wrong end of the press before. The murder allegation merely stoked old flames, though. Prior to that, the press had speculated that I might have committed forgery, of all things.
Toralnik shakes his head. "It's a wonder you could still try cases with that hanging over your head..."
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. "Having grown more observant over time, I can only speculate that perhaps it had much to do with the prestige of the position, and the insufficiently-questioned faith in our competence."
Toralnik jots down a few further notes. "So being a prosecutor is a fairly high-profile position in your society."
Althea: That explains a lot...
Toralnik: Are such positions typically offered to nobility?
Edgeworth: Hmph. "Nobility" is an outmoded concept where I'm from, at least in theory.
Edgeworth: Though I cannot say that I did not once lean towards accusing those less privileged over those more so...
Althea: Breland might be moving in that direction, however slowly. The Commons Chamber of Parliament is elected from the populations of Breland's villages, towns and cities; that provides a counterbalance to the influence of the Nobles Chamber, potentially.
Althea: King Boranel is quite popular, and the people would rally around him in a heartbeat... but he is not as young as he once was, and none of the potential heirs are particularly... promising.
Althea: I've heard more than a few suggestions that Breland would be better off abolishing the monarchy the moment Boranel either dies or abdicates... I wouldn't say it's the opinion of a majority, but neither is it entirely fringe...
Edgeworth: Huh. That sounds remarkably similar to one prominent, otherwise-democratic small nation that nonetheless clings to that aspect of its past.
Edgeworth: Its monarch is essentially a figurehead today, and those executive functions still necessary are also handled by an elected figure.
Edgeworth glances aside. "As for waning fitness among the nobility, it has been discovered that limiting a family's breeding pool too greatly can have negative consequences over time. Such harm coming to prominent noble families may well have contributed to the rise of democracy as well."
Dil just shakes his head at the conversation, disinterested.
Althea: In Breland's case, the crown still conducts foreign policy and deals with issues of national security and law enforcement. Parliament is responsible for crafting the laws.
Edgeworth grimaces. "I see... In my own world, it's often been found that allowing national leaders to have too strong a grip on the military is an easily abused arrangement."
Althea: Because it ties the capacity for war too strongly to personal ambitions?
Toralnik blinks at this.
Edgeworth: Or, worse still, allows for a leader to terrorize citizens unchecked.
Althea: Then has your world too had to contend with leaders corrupted by the influence of fiends or the like? It did not sound as though you had such threats in your world.
Edgeworth looks bewildered. "Are leaders always so scrupulous outside of such circumstances in this world?"
Althea: ...it's hard to see what most leaders would have to gain by terrorizing their own subjects, if not to satisfy such agendas. It seems like a lot of risk for no obvious reward.
Althea: In any event, I don't know if it could be said that such threats are ever 'unchecked', but it does often fall to adventurers as the last resort in such cases.
Edgeworth shakes his head, his expression darkened. "One would be rather unpleasantly surprised. An infamous example is less than a hundred years old in my own world — a faction within a country that sought to bring down various subsets of humans they insisted were 'inferior' to themselves. When they took power in that country, it took an alliance of multiple nations to stop them."
Althea: I see... that sounds like exactly the sort of movement that so often proves in the long run to have had the influence of a fiend or outsider at its core...
Toralnik coughs. "...for a certain definition of proof."
Althea winces. "Fair enough. Events that have become legend always present a certain difficulty in differentiating fact from popular conjecture."
Edgeworth shakes his head again. "Such creatures are purely mythical in my world. Human evil is quite enough."
Althea: Perhaps it is simply because we face so much supernatural evil that we haven't yet fully explored what evil we might do entirely unaided... That is a depressing thought on more than one level.
Dil seems too horrified to say much on this point.
Toralnik: I think you might be fixing your consideration a bit too much on the more spectacular incidents, in any event. The power to deploy violent force is of use for more than just inciting panic. A more subtle feeling that associating with an idea or cause is dangerous can do much to limit its popular appeal.
Althea blinks in surprise at Toralnik. After a moment, she comments, "You have spent a lot of time abroad, haven't you?"
Toralnik: Yes... why do you ask?
Althea shakes her head. "Nevermind, it's not important." Just that I wouldn't have expected a Zil to articulate that as a negative...
Edgeworth: Indeed, such pervasive, subtle oppression is what I'm used to in countries policed as this one is.
Toralnik eyes Edgeworth. "Such things can be valuable for good or for ill."
Dil: If the Trust were like that, I wouldn't be content with them.
Althea nods, but there is a slight uneasiness in her manner as she responds. "Mm. I think the perception that they always adhere to known and understood standards is a core part of why the Zil are willing to tolerate them."
Edgeworth: One particularly striking difference between the Trust and other secret police I've heard of is their level of tolerance for free thought.
Edgeworth glares despite himself. "Indeed, even what few capabilities I've manifested thus far would be incredibly destructive in the hands of such organizations, as they far more literally become 'thought police'."
Toralnik eyes Althea's apparent controlled reaction with interest.
Dil: Information really is everything in your world, huh...
Edgeworth: And truth, in turn, incredibly crucial.
Edgeworth: Indeed, such oppression occurs due to unjust countries fearing its power.
Althea: On the point of breeding, there is some recognition of the risks there, particularly among the Houses; the strong interest in pairing marked individuals to improve the chances of marked offspring is counter-balanced by a healthy desire to introduce new blood. Being both a scion and something of an adventurer, I've faced a bit less pressure to marry, whether within or outside the House, than some might. ...it's only a matter of time before I have to contend with some attempts at arranging a marriage, though...
Edgeworth: I'm left to wonder precisely how such things are handled in the Fey clan.
Toralnik: Mm. I've been approached by House Sivis myself given my position... I don't think I'm ready to marry again, though. I don't know if I ever will be, really.
Edgeworth: ...I see. I'm sorry for your loss, then.
Dil: I'm just glad I'll never be forced into anything like that. That's one too many chains for me.
Edgeworth: For my own part, I have far more important things to do than maintain any sort of family.
Toralnik looks slightly shocked at that. "There's nothing more important than family."
Toralnik immediately looks away and at the ground. "...then again, perhaps it's not fair for me to say that..."
Edgeworth glances away. "Hmph. While I certainly have an adoptive sister I value, that has at least as much to do with our shared occupation as with our having lived together through my adolescence."
Edgeworth: I was speaking more of the notion of marriage and raising children. That would dilute my efforts to pursue the truth behind crimes and see systems of justice refined.
Toralnik: Fair enough. I can't imagine a life without my daughter, or the memories of the time my wife and I had together, but... I can't say that I was ever the husband or father I could have wished to have been. Spending so much time abroad, I've barely had the chance to see Jeslaryun grow into the young woman she's become...
Toralnik shakes his head.
Althea speaks up again after a few minutes of walking in awkward silence. "I couldn't help noticing you mentioned that this was your first murder in Korranberg... not your first in Zilargo."
Edgeworth raises his finger to his temple. Now that she mentions it...
Toralnik: Oh. That. That was... a long time ago, fairly early in my career. It wasn't quite the same sort of thing as this...
Edgeworth: What was it like, then? A comparison might help to put this investigation in perspective.
Toralnik: There have often been a number of... territorial disputes in the mountains around Zolanberg. We have a number of mining interests there, but some of that territory has also been claimed by kobold tribes. It's one of the areas where physical security is a more difficult proposition than in most inhabited parts of Zilargo.
Toralnik: During one of the more contentious disputes, a young girl who was traveling with family was abducted and used as a hostage.
Edgeworth glares, but doesn't interrupt.
Toralnik: While there were attempts to negotiate her release, ceding the territory under dispute would have been untenable, and... well, frankly, there were too many people with too many different ideas of how things needed to be resolved. The negotiations went poorly, things escalated, there was a poorly planned rescue attempt...
Edgeworth nods grimly. "So a very different sort of tragedy indeed."
Dil: Mm, I do think I remember that one.
Toralnik: One of her captors... mauled her while they were trying to get her away. She... didn't survive her wounds...
Edgeworth frowns. Perhaps this is a line of questioning best left alone.
Toralnik shakes his head. "...I'm ashamed to say that what I witnessed back then colored my initial reaction to Tikra. Just seeing her standing so close to my niece was unnerving."
Dil shakes his head. "People are too easily scared by what's different, whether it's change or just something uncommon."
Dil: And sometimes even what's more common than they like to think.
Dil takes a deep breath bordering on a sigh.
Edgeworth appears thoughtful again. Does this relate to the fact that he maintains that particular form most of the time, despite his reverence for a god of chaos and change?
Toralnik: And yet, Illyvalen seems to have known from almost the day she woke up that Tikra was trustworthy, even if no one else could see it. Those two treat each other almost like family. It was Illyvalen who taught her Common back when she was still bedridden, and by the time I had arrived she seemed to be nearly fluent.
Edgeworth shrugs. "That rate of learning a language seems in line with what extreme circumstances will normally squeeze out of people."
Toralnik: I suppose. More striking is that she was apparently also entirely illiterate, yet after a few weeks of tutoring she was reading at such a phenomenal pace that she went through Illyvalen's entire collection and then some over the course of less than two months.
Edgeworth: Huh. Is there some unknown effect on this region that further accelerates such circumstances? It would seem to be something that would be known by now in such an old settlement...
Dil: Something bothering you, Edgeworth?
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Merely unfounded speculation concerning matters of which I know too little to judge. Some of the facts as I know them would seem to weigh against it anyway."
Dil shrugs. "If you say so."
Toralnik: I do have to wonder what brought her here, though. She never talks about her past. I mean, she's told someone, she would have had to when she applied for residence here. But she hasn't even been willing to discuss it with Illyvalen. The most she's ever said to me on the subject was that the circumstances of her arrival constituted "an accident."
Althea looks away, slightly uncomfortable.
Edgeworth half-frowns. "At least she knows enough of her own circumstances to say that much."
Toralnik: Oh? So your reason for being here may not be an accident?
Edgeworth grits his teeth and blinks slowly. "If anything, the possibility of deliberate action seems less likely than that of an accident, but we have far too little evidence to say either way. A Medani heir highly specialized in the examination of magical traces found nothing on me that could not be accounted for."
Edgeworth: I was unconscious when the... transfer happened, due to circumstances beyond anyone's control. My first experience here was waking up in an alley.
Althea: Which also had no traces, for that matter.
Dil looks bewildered at the mention of 'circumstances beyond anyone's control'.
Toralnik: Hmmm... So if magic was involved, it was not magic of a typical kind. Are there no details about your location, situation, or even the timing of your losing consciousness that could shed light on the matter?
Edgeworth appears awkward and blushes slightly at the mention of timing.
Dil: Just because you're embarrassed about whatever it was doesn't mean it won't help you get to the truth, you know.
Edgeworth huffs, grabbing his arm. "Fine. There... there was an earthquake. I... I dealt... poorly."
Althea blinks. "I... see... I don't suppose you ever found anything in your review of obscure earth runes, Dil?"
Dil shakes his head. "I've only had a little time to spare, but I haven't seen any sign it's related."
Edgeworth seems too defensive to react to this.
Althea: Hmmm. I begin to wonder if I should have taken more of a chance with that vision...
Toralnik blinks in confusion. "Excuse me, but what does any of this have to do with the circumstances of his... 'transfer', as he put it?"
Dil shakes his head. "It doesn't. It was just a thought I had about how to figure out what one sigil he tried to trace when a more common one was appropriate actually was."
Althea: Just pulling at a thread in case it actually did have some connection. There have been some... connections between earthquake imagery and other things that have come up in Edgeworth's overall circumstances.
Edgeworth: Must we so openly discuss my weaknesses?
Althea: One connection in particular was rather striking, and is a part of one of my visions whose potential meaning may still elude me. I can't help but wonder if it could be relevant, though I certainly don't yet have evidence...
Toralnik shakes his head. "I can't really see what connection an earthquake would have to planar travel, unless you think he might have transited through Kythri somehow..."
Edgeworth groans. "It merely relates to... to my loss of consciousness."
Althea: Well, I would say rather we don't know that it relates to anything other than that. I wouldn't be inclined to read more into it than that but for my visions...
Edgeworth sighs. "You're almost certainly reading the wrong thing into its recurrence. While I declined to mention this detail, the earlier of the incidents that you pried into began with an earthquake."
Althea frowns. "I see..." She seems about to ask something further for a moment, but remains silent.
Toralnik: Hmmm. It doesn't seem obvious what avenue of investigation might prove fruitful, at any rate...
Althea: I can think of a number of... well, I'm not sure possibilities is the right term... more like things we don't know enough to rule out. I can't say anything looks altogether promising to me either, however.
Toralnik: Given your interest in the matter, I assume you aren't as eager to leave your past behind as Tikra was?
Edgeworth: There are those at home that I have some concern for. That being said, I may well have more important things to accomplish here than at home, and that may take a great deal of time.
Edgeworth: I cannot call it a simple decision.
Toralnik nods. "Entirely understandable."
Althea: It's likely to take time to discover a way for you to return, in any event. ...not to mention, financial means...
Edgeworth winces. "Verily. I could not in good conscience leave a significant monetary debt behind."
Edgeworth takes out the schema. "Though on the other hand, I presume this in particular would be of no use to me at home, as I see no reason why I would retain any magical capabilities there."
Althea nods. "I rather suspect I could get a buyer if I had to, though I don't know whether I could get full retail for it."
Edgeworth grips it more tightly even as he looks away with a regretful expression. "A pity, though, given what I've come to realize."
Dil: Speaking of that, what were you staring at it for when you used it earlier?
Edgeworth: ...It was rather strange. Its aura was slightly uneven, but always in a way that faced me — as though I were a moon to its tides.
Althea frowns. "I wonder if that's connected to the fixation of my visions, and/or what the Medani heir observed."
Dil: I bet it is. Though I can't say I get the comparison exactly...
Toralnik: What's this about fixation of visions?
Althea: ...I... haven't been experiencing the... typical variety in my visions of late. In point of fact, every vision I've had since Edgeworth arrived has involved him in some way...
Edgeworth frowns even as he tucks the schema away again.
Toralnik looks alarmed. "That doesn't sound normal even if he's the most extraordinary thing around right now. How many visions are we talking, three? Four?"
Althea shakes her head. "I'm prone to rather frequent visions, but there was at least one occasion that was too questionable to be sure it qualifies. Still, there must have been at least eight."
Toralnik looks taken aback. "Eight?! He's only been here a couple of weeks, hasn't he?"
Edgeworth winces. "She's likely counting the several times she's been drawn into my dreams."
Toralnik: That's more than what I would call merely "frequent". Is it really normal for you to have so many visions in such a short time?
Althea: It varies. Having multiple visions in a single day isn't exactly common, but it's not a new thing either. And I have gone as many as five days without a vision on occasion. My recent visions might have been a little more frequent than average, but well within the range of what's normal for me. It's just the focus of those visions being consistent that's out of the ordinary.
Dil stares at Althea for a moment.
Toralnik shakes his head. "I have to wonder how you can function like that..."
Edgeworth: That would indeed seem quite the burden.
Althea shrugs. "You get used to it."
Althea: Anyway, I take it your world's sole moon has an influence on your world's tides?
Edgeworth spreads his arms. "That it does — a simple matter of gravity at work, much like its orbit."
Althea nods. "Zarantyr in particular has a notable impact on the tides, but they may be affected in some measure by all."
Edgeworth: That sounds remarkably difficult to calculate. I must wonder how long it took for the people of this world to develop accurate tide calendars.
Althea: Notably, lunar conjunctions can have a very strong impact; it's not unheard of for seaside ruins to be discovered simply because of the waters receding during such an event.
Althea: Druidic lore holds that Aryth's influence on manifest zones is not unlike Zarantyr's influence on tides.
Althea: Some accounts suggest that there may have at times been weak manifest zones that appeared only when Aryth was full, and in general the effects of manifest zones tend to wax and wane a bit with Aryth's cycle.
Althea: Indeed, the anchoring of new towers in Sharn is only done during Aryth's full phase, to ensure that the anchoring is fully resilient and able to support the construction.
Edgeworth blinks. "Huh..."
Edgeworth then puts his finger to his temple. "While I admit to not having understood the conversation very well at the time, I seem to recall the concept of a 'transient manifest zone' having been raised as a possibility when we had that Medani heir search for magical traces."
Edgeworth looks to Althea. "At the time, you had little to say about it, instead discussing other possibilities."
Edgeworth: As well as far more important matters, at my own insistence.
Althea: Mm, it didn't strike me as a particularly likely possibility at the time. Dil would probably know for certain, but I don't think Aryth was full when the event in question occurred.
Dil shakes his head. "It wasn't. Only Lharvion, Barrakas, and Rhaan were..."
Dil: And Vult was in its new moon phase, for what that's worth.
Edgeworth: That's right — he needs to keep track of such things...
Althea: Huh... I suppose that sounds like the sort of conditions that might presage something odd...
Althea: I've had a few of my own peculiarities blamed on Lharvion being full when I was born... it does tend to be associated with strange occurrences and calamity, though how much is mere superstition and how much is actual influence I don't know if anyone can say for sure.
Edgeworth: Hmph. I can't help but be reminded of old superstitions in my own world, derived more from mythology than testing. Indeed, the civilization I mentioned earlier helped to codify that particular false science.
Edgeworth: That's as close as I can easily come to the term "pseudoscience".
Althea: It isn't as though we've developed methods to precisely measure the arcane influence of the moons. We know enough to be confident that there is some influence, but the exact nature is hard to be completely certain about...
Dil: Be careful about attributing too much to lunar conjunctions alone, though. There are twelve moons, so those happen all the time.
Dil puts his finger to his lip. "But I bet it would open up unusual possibilities..."
Dil: Even if it's not enough to pull in someone from another world by itself.
Althea: Mm. It should merely be seen as a periodic sympathy, not a cause.
Althea: Notably, though, Vult being new strikes me as a minor but interesting point. There are legends suggesting that Vult's influence helps to hold back outside influences from beyond the stars. Still, best not to read too much into that either.
Althea: As for Barrakas, I imagine some who observed your nature but did not know your origins might suspect you were born under that moon. Aside from the notion that gifted hunters are often born in that month, it is more generally associated with those who are gifted at bringing clarity to that which others find obscure.
Edgeworth: Hrmph. I see...
Althea: Lharvion is more directly associated with perceiving that which is hidden, and seems to give rise to diviners and researchers. Barrakas sheds its light on that which is already in the open.
Edgeworth appears uncomfortable. And as reluctant as I may be to put any stock in this sort of thing, the path I've been forced upon here seems to have required the fusion of both...
Althea: Rhaan is associated with creative thought generally, and tends to give rise to those talented at artistic endeavors.
Toralnik: Not to mention, its influence is tied to the Mark of Scribing. Many members of House Sivis time pregnancies to end in the month of Rhaan in the hopes of increasing the chances of a marked heir.
Althea: Mm, Jorasco aims for pregnancies to end in the month of Therendor for the same reason.
Edgeworth: So the months are also named after the moons, then?
Althea: Yes. Each month in the Galifarian calendar is based on the ascendant phase of the moon after which it is named.
Dil: Put simply, each moon is brighter for a twelfth of the year, starting with Zarantyr and working its way out. No one knows why.
Edgeworth: Hm. The concept immediately makes me imagine some regular, slow-moving wave emanating from the surface.
Edgeworth: Comprised of what, I couldn't begin to speculate.
Toralnik has been taking continuous notes throughout all this.
Althea: We do know that the influence of that moon is stronger during its ascendant phase, but again, precisely how or why is not something we have the means to thoroughly explore.
Edgeworth: I suppose science will always have its frontiers. Though it's still alien to imagine something like this as one...
Althea: Other moons are also considered to have ties to other dragonmarks. For instance, Lharvion is tied to the Mark of Detection and Barrakas is tied to the Mark of Finding. Vult is tied to the Mark of Warding, and Aryth to the Mark of Passage.
Edgeworth: I see.
Althea: Presumably the thirteenth moon that ancient records hint once existed would have been tied to the Mark of Death, though there's no indication whether there is any connection between the disappearance of the Mark and the disappearance of the moon...
Toralnik blinks, looking at Althea as if she'd just brought up the subject of airships in a conversation about carts.
Edgeworth: I don't know nearly enough about history to begin to speculate. Certainly what little I've heard suggests that the timing would make little sense, though.
Althea: Hard to say. Scholars who study the Draconic Prophecy tend to feel that time is a fairly insignificant factor in the matter, even if the appearance of marks on people is a startlingly recent phenomenon.
Edgeworth peers dubiously at Althea at that.
Althea: As far as we know, dragonmarks have been appearing in geological formations for most of Eberron's history.
Althea: The Draconic Prophecy, from all I can gather, seems to be all about connections between events and influences, some of them quite obscure, and most of them defying what most would deem any kind of logical causality. The few who have come to any deep insights on the matter tend to be... confusing for most people to communicate with, due to how different their perspective on reality is from most people.
Althea: ...I don't think any of my friends back in Sharn can make sense of a single sentence Flamewind has said on the matter. It's not mere language I find myself having to translate in such a case.
Dil looks lost.
Toralnik: Wait. You can understand Flamewind?!
Althea: By and large. I don't pretend to follow the Prophecy, I think the study of that is more than a bit beyond me, but I can generally follow her. Her manner of speaking is not that much more difficult than Belgiwig's. ...is it?
Toralnik just stares at Althea.
Edgeworth rubs his forehead. "His is trying enough for someone lacking in cultural context."
Edgeworth: All the more reason for me to hope that I never have to deal with things of such magnitude, if it corrupts one's very ability to reveal truth so.
Althea shakes her head. "Of course, most Prophecy scholars are dragons, and not all of them think it's particularly appropriate for us lesser races to know of such things... at least beyond being given warning and guidance when it's time to act to prevent some dangerous occurrence." Her expression is suggestive of offense at perceived arrogance.
Edgeworth: If not for the overall nature of this world, I would merely count this as yet another imagined role for dragons in yet another culture. As things stand, though...
Toralnik: To be fair, it sounds like it might be a particularly dangerous knowledge to impart without due care.
Althea: I don't dispute that, but it is not as though dragons are any less fallible than elves, halflings, gnomes, dwarves, humans, orcs, goblins, or kobolds.
Edgeworth raises his finger to his temple. "I beg your pardon, Althea, but given the fact that I've yet to see — nor even hear anyone's testimony of — any sign of a dragon since coming here, how is it that you claim to know this much on these particular subjects?"
Dil shifts from looking at Althea in confusion to looking at Edgeworth with mild interest.
Althea sighs. "There are a variety of reasons, but... well, I've mentioned that being a researcher at Morgrave University more of less equates with being an adventurer of sorts. I've had a number of affairs to see to, some connected to my role at Morgrave and quite a few not, that have called on me to work with others in pursuit of a shared goal."
Althea: There was one matter, the details of which aren't terribly relevant, where we had to deal with a couple of agents of the Chamber.
Dil: The Chamber?
Toralnik turns a page in his notebook and looks to Althea with interest.
Althea: The Chamber is a draconic organization based in Argonessen but with some distinct interest in Khorvaire. Its goals are many and varied and don't always seem consistent, but it's not unusual for them to act as patrons for bands of adventurers because of some outcome they are looking to achieve.
Althea: The Prophecy is at the core of their interests, with some agents more interested in studying it as it unfolds and others seeking to manipulate it to their ends or to stop others from doing so. That's... about as much as I've ever managed to discover about their aims myself, anyway.
Edgeworth: What in the world has she gone through?...
Toralnik: That's more than most who know about the organization at all could say. Even I haven't heard more than rumors. Certainly nothing remotely close to publishable.
Althea eyes Toralnik. "Even if you had, I doubt they would... appreciate the publicity."
Toralnik falters in his note-taking... for half a second.
Althea: At any rate, most dragons you will find in Khorvaire disguise themselves as members of lesser races so as not to draw attention to themselves.
Dil simply nods at this.
Edgeworth stares incredulously at Althea.
Althea: That seems to be an innate magical capability of the entire race.
Toralnik: You seem to be remarkably knowledgeable on this subject even for an adventurer with a lifetime of experience, let alone one so young. I imagine there must be a great many compelling stories in that.
Edgeworth: Can I reasonably deduce from this reporter's reactions that within the context of this world, most of what Althea has said thus far is plausible?...
Althea shrugs. "Everyone has stories. Perhaps if your travels take you to Sharn you might find some of my colleagues' accounts to be fairly interesting."
Althea: As it is, I think we have plenty of more immediate concerns to occupy us at the moment.
Althea gestures forward at the now-visible inn with the Ghallanda crest where Edgeworth has been staying. "It's about time we parted ways for the night so we can ensure being rested for the coming... events."
Edgeworth nods. "Indeed. The particular needs of the truth in this world mean I must wake before dawn each day if I'm to reveal it to the best of my ability."
Toralnik frowns. "Ah, is this where you are staying as well? I would have thought the Library..."
Althea holds her forehead. "Right. You have time enough for one story, and not a very long one."
Toralnik: Hmmm... perhaps there are more pressing matters than adventure stories under the circumstances...
Edgeworth: I'll see you at the Archive in the morning. Take care.
Althea nods, and she and Toralnik head off in the direction of the Library district, the latter already directing rapid questions at the former.
As everyone continues to their respective destinations, Edgeworth takes time to write several things in his organizer before finally climbing into bed. He falls asleep quickly due to exhaustion that didn't quite register until he was finally able to yield to it.
Half an hour before dawn, Edgeworth climbs out of bed. He hurriedly takes care of what basic physical needs he has time to before returning to his inn room and forcing himself to calm, open stillness. He scarcely has time to achieve the right state of mind before dawn breaks...
The prosecutor-cleric once more gasps lightly and appears to be dreaming while standing arrow-straight. Inwardly, the bliss, clarity and correctness of profound interconnection with the essence of truth itself overtakes him, allowing him to be more than merely mortal for what seems like both an instant and an eternity... even though it takes an entirely measurable and finite hour from the outside.
At last, Edgeworth opens his eyes and begins gasping for breath.
Edgeworth: It's as though I need to get used to breathing again...
Edgeworth takes out his organizer and writes a few more notes — some kept alongside others related to such experiences, others in a different part of the tiny notebook entirely...
Edgeworth: Given what's happened since my arrival in this world, it seems distressingly important to keep notes about my dreams from here on out.
Edgeworth shifts uncomfortably, then continues to write. This time, it was merely a brief image — that of... "turning" a false light with the light I wield, for the sake of protection. Though I haven't the faintest idea who or what I might have been protecting... I merely sensed that it wasn't myself, and that it was imperative that I do so.
Edgeworth: At the very least, Althea seems not to have observed my dream this time.
Edgeworth slips his organizer and pen into an inner blazer pocket again. Anyway, I've renewed my new capabilities through my communion with the truth, so I should make as much haste as I can.
Edgeworth glares even has he exits his inn room again. There is, after all, a crime whose full truth needs to be exposed.