After grabbing an apple to eat along the way as breakfast, Edgeworth takes the lengthy walk to the Korranberg Archive. Fortunately, nothing untoward happens along the way despite his being alone. When he gets there, he finds nearly everyone else in the shop portion already. Toralnik is grilling Althea for details about the Archival Foundation...
Althea: Not being a practitioner myself, there's a limit to how much insight I could offer, but— ah, Edgeworth's here. Let's set this aside for now and I'll let Dil know we're all here.
Toralnik looks half-annoyed at the interruption and half-eager to move on to the more pressing matter.
Althea closes her eyes in brief concentration.
Edgeworth looks over at the door to the back as best the bookshelves allow, waiting for Dil to come out.
Nathaniel glances briefly at Edgeworth and nods, his manner seeming only slightly less unfriendly than usual.
Ellymoha: So, anything interesting happen while we were gone?
Edgeworth: Nothing more than a conversation during our walk last night, not all of which was actually fit for public consumption.
Edgeworth looks down at Toralnik disdainfully.
Nopplebin looks over at that assertion, intrigued.
Toralnik gives Edgeworth a blank look. "Did something unusual come up in passing? I don't seem to recall."
Illyvalen looks at Toralnik in surprised confusion. "Huh...?"
Tikra merely shakes her head.
Dil emerges from the back room.
Edgeworth simply crosses his arms and nods.
Ellymoha looks back and forth between Edgeworth and Toralnik a couple times, then shakes her head and adopts a mock scowl. "I knew we should have followed them..."
Edgeworth grits his teeth briefly.
Althea merely puts a hand to her head and sighs.
Nathaniel shakes his head. "I suppose you'll just have to find the right source and the right price."
Althea: If we could please move on to the reason why we all came here...?
Edgeworth clears his throat, scowling at Ellymoha and Nathaniel. "Indeed. Thus far, we've learned the course of events that led to Talbo Santor d'Sivis's murder, and found a suspect at the other end of that chain of events. We've also found resistance beginning to appear in the form of people being made to obstruct us."
Edgeworth: What we have not learned, however, is why our suspect, or indeed anyone else, would concoct an elaborate scheme of murder in the first place.
Edgeworth: Ergo, today we must necessarily focus on motive — not merely the motive of our actual killer, but the looming question of the Trust's motive in allowing something of this nature to progress all the way to its grisly conclusion.
Edgeworth: The obvious question to ask first is whether there was any sort of connection between the victim and the suspect.
Edgeworth winces. "Unfortunately, the first person I can think of to ask has not been consistently cooperative, to say the least."
Althea nods slowly. "I would not prefer to approach Miss Vadin again at this juncture if any other approach seems likely to succeed."
Edgeworth: On the other end of things, there is Rabbalap Marggin Adredar, who only yielded what information he did with ample evidence and a moral appeal weighing heavily upon him. I would not expect to get more testimony from him immediately as things stand.
Nathaniel frowns. "I suppose making inquiries with his sister's co-workers would be one possibility..."
Edgeworth puts a finger to his temple. "Or, for that matter, the victim's co-workers. Though perhaps the best person to ask with regards to Talbo would be Belgiwig, if he would be willing."
Althea looks to Dil. "Do you know whether he's here?"
Dil shakes his head. "He isn't yet. There was House business early this morning, and he won't be here for another hour or so."
Edgeworth: Hrm. I have no desire to simply stand idle for another hour, but neither does that give us a great deal of time to do things elsewhere. I don't suppose anyone has any thoughts they wish to share on the matter?
Illyvalen: Uh, well, I should probably give you this...
Illyvalen hands a hand-written note to Edgeworth.
Edgeworth accepts the note and looks it over. This should be...
Illyvalen: Dad said that getting the information was simple enough, but getting it written out and signed took some... convincing. Still, you need it that way, right?
Edgeworth nods, then files the note away in his organizer. "Verily. Please send him my thanks."
Illyvalen nods. "Uh, sure. I guessed you'd want this in writing too."
Illyvalen hands over two reports full of cryptic shorthand tables. A summary at the bottom of the first reads: "Sample contains trace amounts of poison identified as Sentry's Soporific or close variation." The other contains the summary: "Minimal variance between samples. Probability of match greater than 95%."
Edgeworth makes a sweeping bow before accepting these, looking each over, then filing each of them away as well.
Illyvalen: I don't know if there's much more I can offer on the matter...
Edgeworth just grins. "These should be of great help. Thank you."
Illyvalen: Um, of course. You're welcome.
Illyvalen smiles nervously.
Dil puts his finger to his lip. "We do know Zemershil was involved in some kind of game, but her brother either didn't know or wouldn't say anything about it."
Nathaniel: Indeed. We may well have to pry into her games at this point...
Ellymoha: ...huh... actually...
Edgeworth looks to Ellymoha.
Toralnik looks toward Ellymoha as well, notebook at the ready.
Ellymoha: Oh, just a thought. You remember Rabbalap said maybe she was getting a gift for him? I mean, in context that was an evasion, but that doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't true.
Ellymoha: I mean, obviously I don't think she tried to murder someone as a present or to get a present, but... something might have happened in a game with that goal that... um, well... got out of hand or something...?
Edgeworth: One would imagine such "getting out of hand" to be extraordinary indeed to prompt someone to take such an incredible risk.
Ellymoha: Yeah, I guess it doesn't really help explain anything even if it is true.
Edgeworth: I don't suppose you know of any such past gifts?
Ellymoha considers this for a couple minutes.
Ellymoha: I haven't really ever heard for sure what any of her gifts have been, sorry. I do know Rabbalap's always keen on acquiring new music though... You remember that piece we performed a year ago? Most people thought Rabbalap must have composed it himself, but he's never actually taken credit.
Nathaniel: Mm, that was quite good. I was a bit disappointed not to hear more; it struck me as something that could have been part of a symphony, if he'd had the inspiration to write the remaining movements. Though if he didn't write it...
Ellymoha: I never really did buy the idea that he composed it. He was really excited about it, but I didn't notice any hint of that until just before he started having us prepare to perform it. I can't imagine he wrote the whole thing in a single night's fit of inspiration.
Dil: It definitely sounds like something to think about at least.
Edgeworth: Mm, though we're clearly too lacking in information to say that this is clearly relevant either.
Althea: It's not like we're currently overwhelmed with leads to follow at the moment. We might as well see if the possibility of a musical acquisition helps us at all in pinning down the matter of Zemershil's games.
The bell on the door is tripped, but only by a customer. Nopplebin reluctantly turns her attention away from the conversation to watch them instead.
Althea glances guiltily toward Nopplebin. "...Perhaps we shouldn't be crowding a storefront while we discuss all this..."
Edgeworth: Mm, there is plenty of room further inside.
Dil: I can bring us down myself.
The first basement is quietly active again, as it has often proven to be even this early. Still, it isn't crowded, and the group manages to find an unoccupied table and enough free seats to crowd around it.
Althea: Aside from inquiring with Belgiwig or Ms. Vadin, I suppose we could make some inquiries with the Speakers Guild... though I'm not sure how exactly we explain our interest...
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "I would think rather simply — that we hope to understand why their co-worker and fellow House member came to be targeted by a murderer in the first place. The rumor mill already speaks of our efforts, does it not?"
Toralnik: Quite. I can't imagine their guild hasn't heard at least six different versions of what you're up to by now.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, there are rather few people who would entirely scorn those who hope to answer such unsettling questions. Otherwise, they tend to gnaw at one's insides.
Ellymoha: That's putting it lightly...
Nathaniel: Hm. I suppose.
Edgeworth: There are other matters related to the case that beg to be revisited as well. Notably, since we are now rather confident that Mr. Niralamba was not in any way an intentional party to this, we should consider what to do with him now.
Althea frowns. "It does seem we ought to let him go, but would he actually be safe? Not to mention, I think it would be difficult for some to forgive him his role even if his actions were in self-defense..."
Edgeworth: Given the circumstances, I am far more inclined to include him in such a decision now.
Tikra: ...I would not have him restrained if it is not truly necessary.
Illyvalen looks at Tikra with a worried expression.
Dil shakes his head. "I'm not satisfied with someone being trapped in a cage just for defending themselves."
Ellymoha: It doesn't seem fair, no.
Edgeworth: Mm. This would most certainly be when I'd normally see to a former suspect's release from detention, if not yesterday evening.
Althea: We should meet with him to discuss the situation at a minimum. ...I just wish we understood the contours of our... situation better...
Edgeworth looks to Dil. "Is Belgiwig likely to become too busy to speak with us if we're not here to speak with him as soon as he arrives?"
Dil: He probably would be busy, but I think he wants this put to rest too. He'd probably accept an interruption, and more easily than before.
Edgeworth nods firmly, satisfied. "In that case, we should visit Egmon immediately after we're done here."
Edgeworth next takes his organizer out again. "There are matters unrelated to the case that I should at least pass on to your care while we're here, even if you haven't time to do much with it immediately."
Edgeworth takes out notes from two different parts of the organizer and hands them to Dil.
Dil accepts them. "Your usual notes, then... though this time the dream looks awfully short. Only one side of a page and it's not even full?"
Althea blinks. "You had another— er, dream of significance?"
Edgeworth half-frowns. "To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely certain. Though I appreciate your verification of one impression I had."
Dil offers the very brief description to Althea.
Althea looks it over.
Althea: More of an impression than a scenario, I see...
Toralnik: I take it this sort of thing is typical in the early development of a cleric?
Dil: Not always. It's a lot more significant a case this time around, though.
Edgeworth grits his teeth and shifts uncomfortably.
Toralnik: Because the manifestation was so sudden, without years of training leading up to it?
Dil shakes his head. "Even then, dreams don't usually factor in this much."
Toralnik: So there may be something more going on here, then...
Althea looks slightly uncomfortable.
Dil shrugs. "It might just be because of the nature of his own faith that it'd be like this. He does seem to be attuned with what we call the domains of Truth and Knowledge."
Nathaniel seems to be mostly disinterested in this subject, but Ellymoha seems to be following it with intense interest.
Illyvalen: Yeah, that came up before in terms of how he was learning things so fast.
Edgeworth seems only slightly less uncomfortable with this turn in the conversation. "Indeed; when it comes to the Common language in particular, I've clearly been learning far more than the sum of everything I've been exposed to."
Toralnik: That's certainly a rather convenient development considering your circumstances.
Illyvalen: Yeah, I was going to offer to start teaching him Gnomish but, well... there hasn't been a lot of time, and he's planning to leave...
Edgeworth: Indeed, there's even the possibility I won't have a choice in the matter.
Dil: Wait, you think the Trust would order you out of the country for some reason?...
Toralnik frowns. "Certainly conceivable, given how things are likely to blow up when you make public the Trust's reasons for inaction. I do gather you're planning to do that, regardless of whether it seems wise?"
Nathaniel: Wait, what?
Ellymoha sounds impressed. "Oh, my..."
Edgeworth glares resolutely. "What is right is not always what appears to be wise, and certainly has little to do with others' sense of propriety."
Illyvalen looks at Edgeworth in concern. "Are you... are you sure it needs to... I mean..." She trails off, as if uncertain what it is she does mean.
Althea looks to Illyvalen. "I'm pretty sure this is how it always was going to end with someone like him. The Trust can't have been blind to that risk when they let this sequence of events play out as it did..."
Illyvalen tears up slightly. "Are we... are we all going to...?"
Tikra looks at Illyvalen in alarm.
Nathaniel: Now wait a minute—
Edgeworth looks rather disturbed at Illyvalen's distress.
Althea holds up a hand. "I seriously doubt it will come to that. You don't need to be involved in shouting secrets from the rooftops just because that's what Edgeworth himself feels duty-bound to engage in."
Dil puts his finger to his lip, but merely appears engaged in thought rather than saying anything.
Althea: I don't think the Trust will blame you for what he does just because you were tagging along on his investigation. You'd need to cross the line yourself. At least, that's what I believe. Or at least it's what I hope...
Edgeworth: Certainly there is the question of just how I might see to the revelation of such a truth... and who, if anyone, might cooperate.
Edgeworth glances at Toralnik, frowning.
Illyvalen: But... but shouldn't we? I-I mean, I already said I didn't think he should have to do this alone.
Toralnik fixes Illyvalen with a glare. "Don't even think about it. Your parents would be beside themselves. And it's not like you alone can do more to help than..." He trails off and glances at Edgeworth slightly nervously.
Tikra: You have family and a life here. He does not.
Althea: Illyvalen, I'm sure Edgeworth appreciates the gesture, but your uncle's right. It wouldn't actually make a difference, it would just create unnecessary hardship. Let Edgeworth handle this, okay?
Illyvalen reluctantly nods.
Toralnik coughs slightly. "As for any such goals one might have, well... there are those whose interests are... independent of those of Zilargo. I'm not saying anything for or against it, I'm sure you've been set on this long before I got involved."
Althea nods. "The Dragonmarked Houses all act independently of the nations their enclaves may reside in. And the Chronicle is a Sivis business."
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. Though I imagine that would cancel out any sense of debt they might have with regard to my solving the murder of one of their own. Indeed, it might outweigh it. I need to consider what else I can offer once my foot is in the door...
Edgeworth stares piercingly at Toralnik. There is also the matter of just where this man's heart ultimately lies.
Toralnik returns Edgeworth's gaze with resolve. "I don't back out on my bargains, but I can only go so far in this."
Toralnik: I can put you in touch with the right people, but I won't be a part of persuading them to defy the Trust.
Edgeworth: ...I see. I suppose I'll have to settle for that.
Edgeworth: Though I cannot say I'm comfortable with seeing anyone placing love before justice. I know the tragedy that can result all too well now — tragedy so agonizing that I could not fully admit to the source of the pain.
Edgeworth trembles slightly.
Nathaniel simply shakes his head, seeming bewildered and slightly appalled at the direction of this conversation.
Althea finally hands the sheet back to Dil.
Dil takes a second to notice, but accepts it back.
Illyvalen reaches out in an apparent attempt to comfortingly pat Edgeworth on the arm, but freezes before making contact, and awkwardly withdraws her hand.
Althea observes Illyvalen's aborted gesture with some concern, and hurriedly changes the subject. "At any rate, it might be a good sign that I didn't witness your dream, though it's still not as reassuring as it would be for me to have a vision about anything else..."
Edgeworth simply looks disgusted, putting his organizer away and rising from his seat.
Illyvalen looks back and forth between Edgeworth and Althea in apparent dismay, wringing her hands.
Nathaniel blinks and shakes his head.
Ellymoha seems a little confused by the reaction but continues watching with interest.
Tikra peers intently at Edgeworth for a moment, then looks to Illyvalen and shakes her head.
Althea sighs. I wish he'd just make up his mind whether he wants me involved in all this... Not that that makes any difference to whether it happens anyway, but...
Edgeworth: Of all the petty, selfish, small-minded...
Edgeworth: I expected better of you than a change to a pettier subject, Althea.
Dil appears to realize something, but doesn't intervene.
Althea glares at Edgeworth at this, and appears about to speak before thinking better of it. After a moment's concentration on her part, Edgeworth hears her voice within his mind instead. If you wish to condemn us for not being prepared to shout open defiance at the Trust in public, that's your business.
Althea: If you guilt-trip Illyvalen into going so far as to get herself thrown out of her home along with you, though...
Nathaniel blinks at Althea's reaction, seeming mildly surprised.
Edgeworth crosses his arms, looking annoyed and frustrated. How exactly does she expect me to respond to that, under the circumstances?
Ellymoha looks back and forth between Althea and Edgeworth before shaking her head and muttering. "I swear, I think they're trying to have a private conversation somehow right in front of us..."
Nathaniel: Hmmm. That's not impossible, actually. Althea did that with me earlier, if you recall, though she usually doesn't bother over short distances...
Toralnik doesn't comment, though he does take quite a few notes.
Edgeworth: Sie tun so, als hätten Sie selbst keine solche Taktik für das gegenteilige Ergebnis verwendet. Sollte es nicht ihre eigene Wahl sein?
Illyvalen blinks, recognizing the language, but lacking enough understanding to decipher much from it.
Althea renews her glare at Edgeworth. "Sind Sie blind für die Tatasche, dass sie darüber nur aus Mitleid mit Ihnen nachdenkt, und nicht weil sie tatsächlich glaubt, dass es ihre Verantwortung ist, den Trust zu verurteilen?"
Toralnik looks to Illyvalen. "Do you recognize what they're saying?"
Illyvalen: Um, I'm pretty sure it's Deutsch, but I didn't have time to learn it...
Edgeworth glares back reflexively. "Glauben Sie, dass es ihr an Fähigkeiten fehlt, auf der Grundlage ihrer eigenen Werte verantwortungsbewusste Entscheidungen zu treffen?"
Illyvalen looks disheartened in a way that doesn't seem to be about not knowing a language.
Althea: Entschuldigen Sie, aber haben Sie nicht dasselbe erlebt, wie ich es letzte Nacht getan habe?
Edgeworth huffs a frustrated sigh. "In diesem Fall handelte es sich um ein fehlerhaftes Verständnis der Situation."
Althea puts a hand to her forehead.
Althea: Sie machte eine implizite Geste des Vertrauens in ihren Bemühungen, Ihnen zu helfen. Sie haben vielleicht nicht gewollt, aber Sie haben dieses Vertrauen in Ihre Reaktionen verletzt.
Althea: Trotzdem übernahm sie die Schuld an sich und zitierte die einfache Impulsivität. Und jetzt sieht sie, dass du dich dabei verletzt, und sie kann keinen Trost bieten, wie sie es normalerweise tun würde. Also macht sie eine weitere impulsive Geste, um zu versuchen, dass Sie sich weniger allein fühlen. Und wenn diese Geste sie ihr Zuhause und ihren Beruf kostet und sie von ihrer Familie trennt, wird sie Sie vielleicht nicht beschuldigen, aber das bedeutet nicht, dass es sonst niemand tun würde.
Edgeworth sighs, crossing his arms and finally dropping back into Common after that long interlude in German, looking to Illyvalen. "Allow me to make one thing perfectly clear: I cannot truly be comforted by the mere illusion of not being alone. However, it would be wrong to force you onto a path you do not actually believe in."
Illyvalen had been looking as though she were getting ready to say something during the exchange, but with the change to Common she flinches almost as if threatened with a blow instead of merely having something pointed out to her.
Illyvalen: I-I... I...
Edgeworth recoils. Did I say something wrong again?!
Illyvalen bursts into tears again, and reaches out to hug Tikra.
Althea mutters under her breath. "I guess I was wrong about him appreciating the gesture..."
Tikra returns the embrace. The glance she gives toward Edgeworth is more searching than reproving, as if she was trying to judge which of more than one perceived motive for his actions might be true.
Dil shakes his head.
Edgeworth seems unconcerned with Tikra's scrutiny, sparing her only the briefest glance before looking back to Illyvalen with continued near-panic.
Tikra shakes her head slightly before speaking. "It is no mark against you that one may be beyond the reach of such comfort as you try to offer. Though I have come to realize that such kindness is more significant than I once imagined, it cannot heal all of the wounds we carry within us..."
Illyvalen just continues sobbing.
Toralnik seems relatively untroubled, as if this kind of outburst was almost routine somehow.
Edgeworth notices Toralnik's demeanor and calms slightly, though he's still clearly awkward, uncomfortable, concerned, and at a complete loss.
Ellymoha has gone from overt annoyance at the use of a foreign language to overt concern at the scene the more understandable comments produced.
Nathaniel seems only slightly less concerned than Ellymoha.
Edgeworth: Is there really nothing I can do to avoid harming this young woman?
A few minutes pass in relative awkward silence save for Illyvalen's sobbing and the reactions of others in the room. The scene attracts a few muttered comments, several confused stares, and in a couple of cases overt note-taking. A half-elf rises from his seat and casts an irritated look over the group before heading down the stairs with the book he had been trying to read. Finally, Illyvalen's crying subsides, and she looks up, first into Tikra's eyes, and then toward Edgeworth.
Edgeworth has seated himself again by now, still looking awkward.
Illyvalen: I... I'm sorry. I messed everything up. I just don't... I don't understand at all, do I? And it's not enough to want to... I should have learned that already by now...
Tikra looks troubled, but doesn't say anything.
Edgeworth shakes his head. "To upset you yet again was the last thing I wanted to have happen."
Edgeworth glances about. "To be entirely honest, I'm... not sure how to avoid inflicting such harm again."
Illyvalen shakes her head emphatically. "No, this is... this is just how I am. It's not your fault. I should have said so before."
Toralnik: Er, she does have a tendency toward being... easily upset. She recovers quickly, and so those who know her well have simply become somewhat accustomed to it.
Edgeworth: I... I see...
Edgeworth: It's probably just as well that any notice of my own suffering has been lost in the noise.
Edgeworth rises from his seat. "Anyway, we've spent too long on things not relevant to the case."
Althea rises as well. "We should see to Mr. Niralamba's situation."
The primary Tharashk enclave in the city, concerned with matters other than the sale of dragonshards, continues to be as dully utilitarian-looking as before. Within, business is unsurprisingly slow. One additional poster is on the corkboard, but otherwise little has changed.
Althea begins heading toward the counter, hesitates for a moment, and glances toward Edgeworth.
Orc raises an eyebrow at all the people coming in with Althea and Edgeworth this time around.
Edgeworth approaches the counter and bows.
Edgeworth: I appreciate the service you've rendered thus far, sir. I presume your charge hasn't given you much trouble?
Orc frowns. "Yeah, he hasn't tried to escape. If anything it's been hard to tell if he wants to stay imprisoned or die."
Edgeworth frowns himself. "Then I only hope we can offer him some peace of mind."
Illyvalen looks distressed at this but doesn't comment.
Althea: At the very least we can corroborate a number of points in his own account of himself now, even if we still don't have an entirely clear picture...
Edgeworth: Furthermore, we do have some answers, merely not the most pressing ones.
Edgeworth: Certainly, we know more than his wife might have relayed. However dubious her attempts may have been.
Althea nods. "We would like to discuss matters with him before determining our next course of action."
Althea looks back toward the entourage. "...assuming there are no logistical difficulties regarding capacity..."
Orc shakes his head. "We built that part for security, not for people gawking. Besides, I'd feel a lot better if it was just the two of you who came in to start with."
Toralnik: Hmm... I suppose under the circumstances this isn't an entirely critical aspect to cover now, so long as I have a chance to arrange an interview later.
Nathaniel shrugs. "Fine by me."
Illyvalen: We can just wait here...
Tikra hesitates before shaking her head. "I understand your concerns, but I would entreat you to allow me to be present. I too am responsible for bringing this situation about."
Illyvalen blinks at Tikra, clearly surprised by her request.
Orc glances down at Tikra and blinks. "You, ma'am?"
Althea looks Tikra in the eye for a moment, nods, then turns back to the clerk. "She assisted me in capturing your charge. She is level-headed, and I trust both her integrity and her judgment."
Orc tilts his head with a half-frown.
Edgeworth: While I have not known her for long myself, she does seem rather unlikely to do anything disruptive.
Orc shrugs. "If you say so."
The cell block is indeed rather small, comprising only two large cells facing each other in a short hall. If not for the fact that it was clearly designed with the possibility that someone larger than a human might need to be contained there, it would be rather cramped. The guards are a human and a half-orc in camouflage leather, from which the red-and-gold manticore seal of House Tharashk stands out starkly. The human nods at the three entering, while the half-orc eyes them warily. Egmon himself is sitting on the lowest of the three benches along the different solid edges of the cell, staring uneasily at his folded hands in his lap.
Egmon looks up, staring at Edgeworth dubiously.
Edgeworth bows his head slowly. "Allow me to begin by offering you my sincerest apologies for even considering you a possible suspect at first. While I lacked the evidence as yet to rule you out entirely, what little we had already clearly weighed in favor of your original plea of justified self-defense."
Egmon: Hmph. All I was pleading for was that you let me end things.
Althea: Is that still your preferred approach? You do not wish to see the one responsible for this situation exposed?
Egmon looks away. "What does it matter if they are? It's not going to change whatever the Trust chooses to do."
Althea eyes Edgeworth. "...I wouldn't be so sure, myself. If anyone can and would find a way to force their hand..."
Edgeworth: Can I, in fact, make the immediate consequences significantly different?
Edgeworth: Under the circumstances, what I expect to accomplish is not to change the Trust's actions in the short term, but to shape public perception of those actions and provoke thought about them.
Althea shrugs. "Well, I suppose it is still their own call either way, certainly. I meant more that I imagine what you have in mind would raise the cost of allowing the guilty party to avoid consequences somewhat significantly."
Edgeworth smirks. "I expect that were we successful, the guilty party would in fact see consequences, one way or the other."
Egmon: So if the Trust just ignores them anyway, they'd have a hard time buying much more than a loaf of bread, huh.
Althea: At the very least one might hope they won't be buying the ingredients for poisons again.
Egmon blinks. "Poisons?"
Edgeworth nods grimly. "Indeed. Chidellof was blinded through the combination of a poison and a spell, and effort was made to mislead people into believing instead that you had subjected her to blinding sickness."
Edgeworth takes out the note from Talbo to Belgiwig and holds it near the bars. "It was due to this framing that you were ultimately attacked."
Egmon approaches the bars and grabs them as he looks over the note.
Edgeworth glares. "In effect, you were used as the murder weapon."
Egmon: So this note means... what?
Edgeworth: Beyond the obvious parts, that he was teetering on the brink of the attack you suffered at the time.
Althea: He most likely believed that the blinding was meant to create a window of opportunity for you to attack Chidellof... which you would have had to act upon in some haste.
Edgeworth: We suspect that he ultimately assumed that the Trust failed to talk you down from the attack you were allegedly planning.
Egmon peers at the note, then at Edgeworth and Althea. "So, wait... there was a scheme to poison and blind Chidellof, manipulate Ellymoha into warning Talbo about me causing all that with disease instead in order to fight her for some reason, all to make Talbo attack me, and the Trust didn't stop any of this? I mean, that doesn't sound like how the Trust would kill someone..."
Edgeworth shakes his head. "Unfortunately, precisely why they would allow such a thing is still beyond us. However, we do have a suspect, albeit no motive for her."
Althea: We have learned a good deal about how this crime was committed. Establishing motive, both for the suspect and for the Trust, is now the main focus of the investigation.
Althea: There does remain the matter that in light of what we have found, detaining you further against your will does not seem justified.
Edgeworth puts the note back away as Egmon lapses into thought with an uneasy frown.
Edgeworth: I must agree.
Egmon remains silent and uncertain for some time...
Edgeworth: I'm tempted to say more on the matter, but this man seems to react poorly to being pressed.
Tikra finally speaks after a few minutes of silence. "As I have not lived all my life here, I may have different expectations of the Trust than some Zil. That they should sometimes err would seem natural, and not something to shake one's faith in the safety this place offers. There is little in life that is truly certain, safety least of all. Yet in this place I have been able to mostly set aside old fears and pursue goals I once could not have imagined."
Tikra: What we have witnessed in these past few days cannot be explained by mere error. There must be a cause for what has been allowed to occur. I do not believe that any enmity toward you is sufficient to explain what has occurred.
Edgeworth has been tapping his finger on his arm for some time now. "My impression of the Trust thus far is that despite its faults — including the questionable premise of not putting justice first to begin with — it nevertheless possesses a strange sort of integrity. Whatever its motive may be, I suspect it would be larger than any one person."
Tikra: ...I would know such a reason, if it can be unearthed. I do not know whether that interests you as well.
Egmon's eyes widen slightly.
Edgeworth puts his finger to his temple. Thus does one more specific question to ask grow clear. Is there some reason that Talbo's death, while a clear violation of Korranberg's safety in the short term, might make this city or even this nation safer in the long term? And if so, why would they let it play out this way, rather than...
Egmon: They'll try to stop you if you dig too much into their affairs, you know. And they're good at stopping people.
Egmon: They're called "the Trust" because you're supposed to just trust them to take care of things and not really think about how. Or why.
Tikra shrugs. "If we do not succeed, we do not succeed. I am willing to follow the seer in this matter."
Althea sighs slightly. "From what I know of him, I think Edgeworth will pursue this as far as he is able. That may entail playing a lone hand at some point, but for now the efforts to obstruct us have seemed to come solely from our suspect..."
Althea: As for your situation more broadly... I think perhaps the best option for you and your wife... may be to leave Zilargo. I do not know why you are caught up in all this, but it seems as though the Trust's protection is no longer... suitable to your circumstances.
Althea: While the Trust's reach may be broad, the fact that you are here at all weighs against the idea that they would go to great lengths to eliminate you... If you made for Breland or Aundair, you would be "out of their hair," so to speak.
Edgeworth simply nods.
Egmon glances away, crestfallen. "If I can convince her... or convince her to let me leave her behind."
Egmon: The latter might not be so hard anymore, really. We haven't really seen eye to eye for a while now.
Edgeworth: Indeed, she did seem... awkward in her efforts to follow what I presume were your instructions.
Althea: She did come to the conclusion on her own that the both of you are no longer under the Trust's protection, even if she seemed bewildered about the idea of leaving at the time...
Althea: Though I suppose I can't be sure the implications of not being protected have sunk in in any meaningful way.
Egmon: She visited me yesterday, you know. She said she wants to sell off her dagger.
Egmon: But at the same time, she's scared to do even that.
Egmon: Of course, these days it would only be of much interest to an adventurer anyway.
Edgeworth: ...This does bring up a point. It has just recently become apparent to me that I have no idea what, exactly, an "adventurer" is.
Egmon blinks at the sudden change of topic.
Althea looks toward Edgeworth in surprise. "Oh. Well, um... how best to describe... There are so many different..." She trails off, frowning in thought.
Edgeworth looks to Althea. "Notably, you referred to adventurers last night as though they have some sort of broad sanction to depose corrupt regimes. Furthermore, later in that conversation you spoke of becoming involved in extremely bizarre affairs and related that to your frequently alleged status as an 'adventurer of sorts'."
Althea: Mm... I don't know whether I would qualify for the textbook definition of adventurer, but the researchers of Morgrave University tend towards those with the inclination and ability necessary to... well, acquire relics from places that aren't what you might call 'secure'. In my own case, I can act in support of a group of adventurers in some of the more dangerous sorts of situations, but I'm not the kind to take the lead in such matters generally.
Althea: Adventurers are more or less the kinds of people who take on dangerous sorts of tasks that fall outside the purview or capabilities of governments or other organizations.
Egmon: Or that they just don't want to take the fall for.
Althea: It is simpler to issue a letter of marque than to risk one's own soldiers on a dangerous exploration mission.
Edgeworth looks bewildered. It almost sounds like a cross between historical privateering and topics of pure fiction.
Althea: There are many different types of adventurers and many different levels of capability. Some folks can just deal with simple threats, while some have been known to take down fiends, outsiders, and other major threats.
Edgeworth shakes his head. "As I've said before, fiends and outsiders range from fictional to unheard of in my own world. Dragons likewise do not exist there, though they're a widespread concept in myth — perhaps in part due to the fossilized remains of dinosaurs I'd mentioned before."
Edgeworth: Perhaps that is why the concept of an "adventurer" is commonplace here, while in my own world the closest equivalent would be privateers — a designation that was outlawed by international treaty over a hundred and fifty years ago.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "Simply put, issuing letters of marque sanctioning otherwise unaffiliated ships to attack those of the issuing government's enemies did not go well. Large numbers simply turned to pure piracy over time."
Althea: Hmm... Most bands of adventurers are too small to crew a ship of any size in any event. It's rare to see them operate in groups beyond the mid-single-digits.
Edgeworth stares at Althea. Am I to understand, then, that people of exceptional combat capability such as herself regularly band together to fight evil when they find one another?
Edgeworth: What sort of world is this?...
Althea: Letters of marque are more typically used to authorize the... removal of objects of interest or value from ancient sites.
Edgeworth: That aspect in particular sounds akin to a popular fictionalization of a far more mundane job in my own world.
Edgeworth shakes his head in disbelief, a glint of awe on his eyes. "Indeed, in general this 'adventuring' sounds more like escapist fantasy than what I'm used to being reality."
Althea shrugs. "I can assure you that it is less glamorous than it sounds. There's much to be said for the comforts of city life when one has the luxury. Still, I don't think I could bring myself to ignore a problem that was threatening innocents if I knew I could do something to help..."
Althea: That being the aspect of adventuring that is harder to pin down... Many of us do what we do because we feel a need to use our capabilities to make things a little better or to protect people or places...
Egmon: Then there's the ones who just don't want to be told what to do, or don't know how to adjust any other way after the Last War.
Edgeworth: Presumably, no small number of warforged have ended up in such a position.
Edgeworth: I have my own ideas concerning what I ought to be doing with my capabilities, both new and old. Which, I believe, we should be returning our focus to.
Edgeworth: Though I must wonder what the future holds for me in this place. Certainly, at least one threat I've been made privy to seems difficult to ignore...
Althea: At any rate, while it is difficult to be entirely sure, I strongly suspect you would not be in much direct danger from anyone other than Miss Vadin, who is not privy to your present circumstances. I suspect it isn't necessary for your safety to remain here. If you want me to escort you home so that you can discuss things with your wife...
Edgeworth: Indeed. Our current suspect may still be at large, but we have no reason to believe she has any more reason to interfere with your affairs. What resistance she apparently has put up has involved enchanting people to obstuct us, and you're not in the sort of position she's been targeting.
Edgeworth: Her focus has been on hampering our attempts at forensics, which to my knowledge is not something you could help with.
Egmon: Not unless you need me to try to place who made some metal object, anyway.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, you are a victim in all of this, and the implications of this incident when it comes to your future are rather severe. Ergo, there is no reason to keep you imprisoned, and every reason to release you.
Edgeworth: While I may strongly disagree with the fact that you resorted to lethal force in your situation, it appears as though the natural and social consequences of your actions will be quite sufficient, and that you are not a danger to others.
Edgeworth: I only hope that you can find a more just situation going forward.
Egmon: ...Just, huh...
Tikra approaches the bars and bows her head low. "My actions have led to your freedom being taken from you. That is not something I had ever expected to find myself responsible for. I do not expect forgiveness for such a thing, but if there is aught you would have me do to atone I would hear it."
Althea blinks in surprise and seems about to speak before thinking better of it.
Egmon: ...Well, if I do end up leaving this place, I'll probably need some help packing up my tools and bringing them to the lightning rail station. I wonder if there's room for another blacksmith in Starilaskur anyway...
Edgeworth's expression subtly softens. For someone who was uncertain whether to continue to live to speak of his future so... It's certainly reassuring.
Tikra: I will assist you.
Egmon nods. "Thanks. Though I'll have to talk with Lalitamah first."
Edgeworth smirks. "Shall we see to your release, then?"
A small amount of discussion and paperwork later, the group exits the enclave with Egmon among them. For his own part, Edgeworth has his brow furrowed, his finger to his temple, and his gaze not focused on anything around him...
Edgeworth: It seems strange, when I consider things further, that the Trust would allow back-alley alchemists at all when their goal is to keep Zilargo entirely free of violence — at least, violence that they themselves do not employ under a veil of secrecy.
Edgeworth cringes briefly in distaste.
Edgeworth: That being said, the popular belief seems to be that such methods as these dealers would have on offer would be precisely the ones the Trust themselves would make use of. Perhaps their existence is tolerated primarily because they serve as suppliers for the Trust themselves. Their proprietors might even serve as informants, allowing the Trust to keep a close eye on those who would employ similar methods.
Edgeworth glares. Meaning, naturally, that it's probable that they knew about this chain of events from the beginning. Most likely, our suspect would know for herself that buying something as suspicious as sassone leaf would put her in the Trust's sights.
Edgeworth: Were she a Trust agent herself, I rather doubt she would have resorted to such an elaborate scheme. If the Trust had reason to murder Talbo Santor d'Sivis, it would have been a much... simpler affair.
Edgeworth frowns. Could she have considered such a bold move as the purchase of something so toxic to be a sort of probing for permission? If I'm right about the nature of such alchemists, and the Trust did not wish for her to take someone's life, they would have warned her before she could have so much as concocted the poison.
Edgeworth: By such a theory, she would not have been attempting to throw the Trust off of her trail at all. She would have considered that a fool's errand, undoubtedly rightly so.
Edgeworth: One could further reason, then, that the attempt to frame Egmon is itself something the Trust approved of, however quietly. This seems to be the more peculiar matter, given that the end result was far more spectacular than what I understand they would normally let slide.
Edgeworth: For such a thing to be permitted, it would indeed need to serve a larger purpose...
Edgeworth's eyes widen suddenly in realization.
Edgeworth: Of course! We've been asking the wrong question this entire time!
Toralnik is pestering Egmon about a possible interview, but does glance Edgeworth's way briefly. A small notation in the margins of his notebook is the only other outward sign of his having noticed anything out of the ordinary.
Althea looks Edgeworth's way briefly as well, frowning slightly but not commenting.
Tikra glances toward Edgeworth as well but also does not comment.
Edgeworth glares resolutely off into the distance. It is not a question of why, in the Trust's eyes, Talbo Santor d'Sivis had to die... but why to their minds Egmon Nirilamba Santiar had to kill!
Edgeworth: Given the atmosphere they choose to cultivate in Zilargo, where open violence is shunned, that Egmon carries a sword — and, for that matter, that Chidellof has trained in martial studies as well — must sit poorly with them. Perhaps, in the wake of the Last War, their cases are not completely isolated.
Edgeworth: Their motive, then, would be social engineering. The end result of all this is that someone who has been openly defying the norms of this culture has shed blood in a highly shocking and uncouth way.
Edgeworth: This, in turn, would serve to remind the people why such things are frowned upon, in a way so impactful that it would shock people into compliance for the duration of living memory at the very least.
Edgeworth: ...The question then becomes, would it be at all possible to prove such a thing? Certainly if I'm to try, I mustn't risk speaking of it just yet.
Althea: I don't think it necessary for a group this large to act as escort. I can go with Egmon while Edgeworth continues his investigation.
Tikra nods and turns to Egmon. "I shall accompany you, unless you require time to discuss matters in private beforehand."
Illyvalen blinks and looks questioningly at Tikra.
Dil looks to Althea with a frown and a question in his eyes. "We do need to at least stay in pairs the way things have been."
Edgeworth seems to only have caught up to the outside world about now. "I must admit that I find this... entourage to have grown frustratingly large."
Egmon looks to Tikra. "I do need to get my affairs in order, however that turns out to be."
Egmon shakes his head, then looks back over. "Maybe you two can explain what's happened more along the way."
Tikra looks to Illyvalen. "...there is a debt I must pay."
Illyvalen blinks. "Oh. ...oh. Is that really— no, it's your call, sorry. I... I should... I should probably stay with Edgeworth." She turns to Edgeworth. "...unless you don't want me...?"
Edgeworth considers for a moment. "You have proven yourself to be useful to the investigation. Ergo, I would not begrudge your presence."
Tikra nods to Illyvalen.
Tikra turns to Egmon. "I can wait outside until your have finished making your arrangements, or I can come at a later date if you believe it will take that long. ...Given the circumstances, it may be wise for you to act with what expediency is feasible..."
Egmon nods. "Yeah. I need to try to work things out with Lalitamah, too. I'll have to leave either way, so we could start packing downstairs, and you could continue without me when she comes back."
Egmon starts walking away from the group, gesturing for Tikra to follow.
Tikra nods and follows.
Althea: Dil is right... Nathaniel, would you accompany us for now?
Nathaniel blinks in slight surprise. "Ah, yes, yes, of course."
Edgeworth appears slightly surprised by the request as well.
Dil: I should definitely stay with Edgeworth, though. He still might run into things he doesn't fully understand yet.
Dil smirks. "Besides, I still haven't seen enough of a number of things yet."
Edgeworth: I suppose his logic is sound enough.
Ellymoha: Well, I'm definitely staying. Otherwise you'll just decide that everything you saw or talked about while I'm gone is a secret.
Ellymoha adopts a mock scowl.
Edgeworth sighs. I suppose she would have the same sorts of connections Nathaniel does, and thus would be prudent to allow to come under the circumstances.
Edgeworth: Very well.
Toralnik: You know my position already, I trust. Though I do hope to have a chance for an interview before he leaves the country.
Edgeworth: Given your position, you may well have an opportunity afterward as well. I rather doubt we'll be given very long to leave, should it come to that.
Toralnik: True enough.
Althea heads after Egmon and Tikra with Nathaniel in tow.
Edgeworth: Anyway, we should begin by checking to see whether Belgiwig is yet available.
Edgeworth: He is, after all, our lowest risk and lowest "cost" potential source of information.
Dil nods. "He should be back by the time we return to the Archive."
Toralnik nods. "By all means, then."
As Edgeworth, Toralnik, Dil, Illyvalen and Ellymoha reenter the bookstore that sits above the Korranberg Archive, they note that Nopplebin appears uneasy...
Edgeworth focuses on the clerk immediately. "Is something the matter, Nopplebin?"
Nopplebin: Um, yes. Someone who looked like Belgiwig tried to enchant me, I'm sure of it! But I knew it was all wrong and threw him out.
Illyvalen: Oh, no!
Ellymoha: Even more victims...
Edgeworth: Did anything else happen?
Nopplebin: Well, another Belgiwig came in a few minutes later. He didn't try to cast anything, and I asked him lots of questions, and it seemed OK in the end, so I let him in. He came back with scrolls to make sure everything was OK and then try to protect me for a while.
Dil looks serious. "Let me check this one, Edgeworth."
Edgeworth nods, returning the serious look. "Very well."
Dil chants and makes a gesture familiar to Edgeworth, then gazes upon Nopplebin for several seconds with vaguely lavender-tinged eyes.
Edgeworth crosses his arms and taps his finger, awaiting Dil's results.
Dil: ...It checks out as much as I can tell right away. I only detect an active abjuration aura on her. That is Nopplebin, and I'm sure she's understood the situation right.
Toralnik: Your quarry grows bold. Or at the least, desperate.
Edgeworth glares. "I can't say I'm surprised. Our culprit seems prone to using this tactic. Once it occurred to her that this place in particular might be relevant, this was undoubtedly inevitable."
Illyvalen: ...maybe we should have warned her something like this could happen, maybe had someone waiting...?
Toralnik blinks at Illyvalen.
Ellymoha: Now why didn't I think of that?
Dil shakes his head. "One of us should have."
Edgeworth: Our investigation won't proceed while we stand here kicking ourselves. We should head downstairs posthaste!
Once the group emerges from the once-secret staircase, they find Belgiwig in the first basement. He immediately looks up from some papers he was studying, nods, and grabs them while standing.
Edgeworth: I believe we have more to discuss this morning than we expected.
Belgiwig: The Mockery should not have a chance to draw a second knife from his sleeve for another two hours, at least. As unlikely as it is for lightning to strike twice in the same spot, I don't want to take the chance.
Edgeworth: If this is not the genuine article, I'd be rather surprised.
Ellymoha looks intrigued rather than bewildered at this utterance.
Toralnik: Quite sensible.
Illyvalen: I guess we should have thought about it before. I think this is the fourth time...?
Edgeworth nods grimly. "Indeed, at least along this specific pattern."
Dil: Let's head downstairs.
The group heads to the second floor, and Belgiwig opens the secret door to his office gracefully and without hesitation. Edgeworth and Dil are both further reassured by this. Once in the private room in question, Belgiwig sets what he was reading on his desk and seats himself there.
Edgeworth: I feel we owe you an apology for not passing on some sort of warning that clerks have been targeted by enchantments to obstruct us. Can you tell us any more about the incident?
Belgiwig: I only saw a crescent of that moon, of course, but Nopplebin entered a panic when she saw me. She gave me a fine changeling's interrogation before she would open the door. To be certain the Traveler wasn't in play, I cast that spell you most aspire to and saw only an instant's touch of enchantment.
Edgeworth nods. If I'm understanding this correctly, the intent was to simultaneously make sure that no illusions or transmutations were in play and verify the story Nopplebin told of an attempt to charm her.
Belgiwig: I then took a scroll of a spell that would deny one specific work of Aureon for a time, and used it to prevent the most common possibility from affecting Nopplebin.
Dil: One of the extended Lesser Spell Immunity scrolls, to prevent Charm Person?
Edgeworth: Under the circumstances, I'm glad Dil is available to translate.
Toralnik: I suppose we might have to consider what other targets might be seen as likely...
Dil: Maybe that orc if she thinks we'd want Tharashk's help with the detective work, but that doesn't seem likely. There's already enough of us to go around...
Toralnik: ...I have to wonder if at this rate even the Chronicle offices might be targetted...
Illyvalen wrings her hands in distress but doesn't say anything.
Belgiwig: So you know who wields these spells?
Edgeworth: At the very least, we have a very likely suspect. However, we've yet to establish any sort of connection between the suspect and the victim.
Edgeworth gives Belgiwig a serious glare. "In fact, we wished to speak to you on the matter. We know our suspect was involved in a 'game' of some kind, one of unknown aims and nature. What of your brother?"
Belgiwig nods slowly. "Certainly, certainly. The exact shape is blurred for me, but I know he was searching for some notations worthy of the bards."
Ellymoha looks at Belgiwig alertly. "Indeed? That... seems suggestive."
Edgeworth nods. "Indeed. Our suspect is of the Marggin family, and a relative of hers claimed both that she was embroiled in some form of 'game' and that she has sought out gifts for him before through such means."
Edgeworth: I don't suppose there would be evidence anywhere that could shed light on precisely what your brother was seeking?
Belgiwig: Probably in his house...
Edgeworth grimaces. "Which naturally presents a problem, by the name of Chidellof Vadin Chivarach."
Illyvalen: Uh... has she been healed yet? I think she was... kind of impatient... about everything...
Belgiwig: Not yet. Healing hands have been stayed by the need for the truth to be plain.
Edgeworth nods grimly. "And so long as the culprit sees fit to obstruct attempts to detect magical traces, it would be difficult to justify reversing such a decision."
Illyvalen: Oh... you think she'll be mad about that?
Ellymoha: I don't know if 'mad' is the right word, but she'll certainly be irritated.
Edgeworth: And dangerous even in her unarmed state. It was only through Althea's efforts that we managed to escape our last encounter in one piece.
Toralnik: Mm. Adventurers of her ability are not found on every street corner.
Belgiwig: One may be surprised what ability can be found behind a desk.
Toralnik: True enough.
Dil nods. "Belgiwig has pioneered some of our techniques. He's not as powerful as any of the lost or legendary heroes, but he's probably the most skilled archivist in Zilargo."
Edgeworth's eyes pop wide. Should I have suspected as much?...
Belgiwig: Though it isn't Aureon's strength but Boldrei's that would serve me best in this case, at least in a direct sense.
Edgeworth crosses his arms. "I presume that to be an allusion of some sort to the fact that Ms. Vadin expects you to heal her?"
Belgiwig: Exactly, exactly! And she's learned to be patient with me, though the effort involves pulling a rope from deep tar.
Edgeworth: If our culprit's efforts to obstruct us could be soundly thwarted, she might not necessarily have to wait at all. I doubt it will be a great deal longer before we've uncovered as much of the truth behind all this as we can. The difference between her remaining blind or not is ultimately a question of whether what we know is easily and cheaply verified for an indefinite period, or verifiable at some expense for a scarce few days.
Dil squirms with a grimace.
Belgiwig looks serious. "Mutual benefit carries no cost. Neither do verbal warnings."
Edgeworth nods in agreement. "Our culprit seems focused on targetting gatekeepers, so to speak — specifically those who have the ability to obstruct access to forensic resourses."
Edgeworth: Notably, aside from Nopplebin, clerks at a House Cannith workshop and salesroom, a Medani enclave, and a laboratory at the Library of Korranberg have been targeted.
Edgeworth: I can further verify that the Cannith enclave in question knows of the situation already. I'd be rather surprised if they haven't already brought what resources they can to bear.
Belgiwig: They might only know one thread of the tapestry. I'll send who I can anyway.
Edgeworth nods. "Before you proceed, however, I have one last question to ask." Albeit one of great magnitude...
Belgiwig: Weave your words, then.
Edgeworth: What I know of the Trust is only by scraps of its reputation and reactions to anomalies. Is there any clearer evidence about their nature to be had?
Belgiwig seems taken by surprise by the question.
Toralnik watches with interest.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm.
Belgiwig: ...I suppose there are the pamphlets. To see an original that hasn't died of old age would be no simple thing.
Edgeworth looks to the others, expecting some further explanation.
Toralnik coughs slightly.
Illyvalen: Oh. Um, I could ask.
Edgeworth looks to Illyvalen, his grey eyes seeming to demand an explanation.
Toralnik: It's not something we like to draw attention to, lest it inspire games unnecessarily... But our family does have one of the original pamphlets in a preserved state. Apparently a family member decided it might be important all the way back when the Trust announced itself.
Ellymoha: Really? Huh...
Edgeworth: Can I assume, then, that these "pamphlets" are the primary source of direct public knowledge of the Trust itself?
Dil: That's what I understand. Just two years after Zilargo was united, pamphlets appeared out of nowhere — first in Korranberg, then in the other cities too.
Edgeworth: I presume that to hide their tracks, not a speck of what trace evidence was known at the time was left upon them.
Edgeworth: To see what people were primed to expect of the Trust certainly seems worth my while.
Edgeworth: Particularly given that it would serve as a point of comparison with the possible social engineering at play now.
Belgiwig: The shine of such gold must be difficult to maintain... but my task is today, not yesteryear.
Edgeworth: Then let us keep you no longer, and decide where to go next.
Toralnik: I doubt the matter of the pamphlet is truly pressing. It would take some... arrangements to view the original, but I have a duplicate of my own that was made about thirty years ago, assuming you'd accept my word that it hasn't changed in the interim.
Edgeworth taps his finger on his arm. "And that it was copied down accurately to begin with?"
Toralnik: It's a magical duplicate. We generally make a point of creating a few each time the original is extracted from the outer wards.
Toralnik frowns. "There are limits to how much such wards can do. Sooner or later age and exposure to light will catch up with it, so the less often it occurs, the better."
Edgeworth: I see. So these exist primarily for your own family's purposes?
Toralnik: On that I can't really comment.
Edgeworth: That seems a very broad question to refuse to comment on...
Illyvalen just looks slightly confused, but doesn't say anything.
Edgeworth: Which suggests that the reason for making such duplicates is a rather significant secret indeed.
Edgeworth: Without some inkling of the motive beyond simple preservation of the original, though, can I take him entirely at his word?
Edgeworth frowns in thought.
Edgeworth: An inaccurate copy would, after all, lead me farther from the truth.
Edgeworth's contemplation is interrupted by Althea's voice sounding in his head once more. Egmon is situated for now, working on packing things up. Also, this is probably the most secure option we have for communicating. It's not impossible to be overheard, but less likely than if we were speaking aloud almost anywhere.
Althea: I... gather you have reached some sort of... significant conclusion in regard to all this since talking to Egmon...
Edgeworth looks startled given the timing, but his expression quickly firms as his arms uncross. Indeed. I've been waiting for this sort of opportunity.
Edgeworth: I've realized that the Trust's most likely motive in allowing this spectacle of a murder to occur is social engineering by means of shock, to counter increased acceptance of violence across the nation.
Edgeworth: That it was Talbo who happened to die is a mere matter of what opportunity presented itself to the Trust.
Edgeworth: Furthermore, the Trust likely knew of this scheme from the moment Zemershil bought the sassone leaf. I can't imagine such questionable suppliers existing in Zilargo without being directly of service to the Trust in all ways.
The communications channel Althea has established remains quiet for several seconds after Edgeworth relays his own thoughts. Finally, there is a response. I see. That seems plausible, particularly in the general aspects whether or not each specific conclusion is accurate.
Althea: The obvious question is, where would we find evidence of such motive...
Edgeworth: And how would one survive an attempt to acquire it.
Edgeworth: Thus far, I merely have a lead on a point of comparison.
Althea: ...I don't quite think Talbo's an arbitrary victim, though. Aside from just his relationship with Chidellof, I mean. If it were— but no, it wasn't their scheme, per se... or rather there's reason to think it wasn't theirs... Sorry, I should be sorting out my thoughts first and communicating later. What was this 'point of comparison'?
Edgeworth: One of the pamphlets distributed to announce the Trust's existence long ago.
Althea: Ah, yes, I've heard of those. They're discussed in various historical works, and I've even heard rumors of magically preserved copies held by some of the older Zil houses.
Edgeworth: Do you know anything about the events in question that a simple reading of precisely such a pamphlet would not reveal?
Althea: Probably. Did you have specific details you were concerned with?
Edgeworth: Once the pamphlets were distributed, how did the process of acceptance proceed in a general sense?
Althea: About how you might expect. The Trust seemed to have had itself well-planted among all the major families before it distributed the pamphlets, so there wasn't any open effort at breaking ties with Zilargo in response. The following decade saw what was probably the systematic elimination of any serious opposition, though there's no proof the Trust was responsible for any of the deaths.
Edgeworth glowers. I see...
Dil peers at Edgeworth's reaction to seemingly nothing briefly.
Althea: To put things in their proper historical context, I should point out that targetted assassination for the sake of political control was commonplace in Zilargo prior to the forming of the Trust.
Edgeworth: So in a sense, they "won" an existing "game", then proceeded to redefine the rules.
Edgeworth: When you first spoke of the Trust on the day of my arrival, you said that they were accountable only to the Triumvirate. What precisely is this "Triumvirate"?
Althea: I believe I mentioned at some point that humans originated from the continent of Sarlona. About three thousand years ago, they arrived in Khorvaire and began a series of conquests that led to the current predominance of humans among the populations of the nations that eventually formed in their wake.
Althea: Prior to this point, the city-states of Korranberg, Trolanport and Zolanberg had formed a loose alliance, fueled by collaboration around the founding and advancement of the Library of Korranberg, but there were serious doubts that any of them could survive such outside aggression.
Althea: The Triumvirate was built out of a need to secure a firmer alliance that could form the foundation of a unified nation.
Althea: It consists of representatives chosen by the leaders of each of the founding cities.
Althea: Such accountability as exists comes simply from the fact that each Triumvir serves by the consent of the members of their city's Council.
Edgeworth: Am I to understand from that phrasing that this accountability is rather weak in practice?
Althea: I suppose that's a matter of perspective. Political scheming and intrigues are the Zil's bread and butter. Any government they maintain is inevitably going to look hopelessly corrupt from the perspective of, say, Brelish idealists, which is a perspective I have been accused of adopting on more than one occasion.
Althea: Suffice to say, a Triumvir who clearly threatened the interests of the nation at large would certainly be removed. One who clearly threatened the interests of even just their own city likely would as well. That's not saying much, but it's not like removals don't ever happen for good reasons.