107 - STORMBRINGER

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107 - STORMBRINGER

Post  Admin on Mon May 21, 2012 7:01 am

As Aidan digests the importance of his new discoveries – and the potential mysteries that they raise – he has found himself an unexpected guest on board the phantom airship that has been rumoured to exist across Khorvaire.

An interesting conversation

“I am Khoresh of the Le Shay. Your people call us the Progenitors ...“ The man's words resonate with Aidan, who immediately recognises that term. Progenitors. The first inhabitants of this world. The first race to wrest pockets of Khorvaire from the chaos and darkness and bring forth hope and a chance for civilisation to flourish. In some ancient texts that Aidan has researched, the locations where the Progenitors are believed to have had an influence are referred to as “points of light” which, on reflection, Aidan considers that such writings sound very similar to the inscriptions and carvings he has sighted in the sunken city of the Umbragen, Qualtesh. “... is everything alright, you seem to have become distracted?” Khoresh raises an eyebrow and regards Aidan for a moment. He then nods in understanding. “Of course, all of this is very new to you.” he remarks.

… “I know something of the Progenitors and our references to points of lights where they changed history for good. Now I understand the Umbragen inscription beneath, referencing how they lost their way to the light. It seemed to be very important.”

“Good then, you do know of us. That is pleasing. Perhaps it is the blood flowing in your veins that led you through such curiosity. You must be hungry. Come now, follow me. I will take you to your friends and you will receive our hospitality.” Khoresh gestures to the wall which slides open to reveal a brightly lit white corridor. The restraints holding Aidan are relaxed. He strides through the opening and leads Aidan to another wall which slides open to reveal a wide spacious dining room. Ahlissa and Jillian are seated here with ten other members of the Le Shay crew, enjoying an amazing hot meal. Aidan is offered a seat and is presented with a starter consisting of meat broth and fresh baked grain bread. He is served by one of the metal assistants and he notices that the others are waited on by them also. The other Le Shay are mostly male, although he can see two are female. All look tall, athletic and very healthy, dressed in finely stitched and patterned clothes.

The Le Shay indulge in little conversation and do not show any sign of curiosity at their guests' arrival.

Aidan is sitting opposite Jillian and Ahlissa is sitting beside her.

“What do you make of this?” Jillian asks him. “Are we prisoners?”
“I don't think so,” Ahlissa interjects. “These crew members are commissioned officers. We are guests and I believe this is simply their way of welcoming us. If anything they have been most interested in knowing which race we identify with. What did you tell them Aidan?”

… “Have they introduced who they are?”

“Ummm .. not in so many words. I have been told they are of the Le Shay and I remember you telling me about the Le Shay as a race when we were searching for the Umbragen. So it would seem these people are something to do with what you were looking for. They appear to be real after all.”

“They are also the Progenitors. The oldest race that ever settled on our world.”

Ahlissa looks surprised at this. “Really? That's fascinating. I was curious at the similarity between some of the equipment and structure of this vessel and of my own, the Zephyr Breeze. As may recall my people have integrated some old Progenitor knowledge into the construction of my airship.”

Jillian says “They asked of my origin and I told them that I am Kalashtar. They told me they knew of my peoples' plight and are familiar with the influence of the Quori. The Inspired exist in other worlds too and the Le Shay have told me that my people are not alone in their struggle for freedom from persecution. I do not feel afraid in this company. A part of me feels that this is home, that this is safe.”

“Yes,” Ahlissa confides. “As do I. Despite appearances I believe the Le Shay mean us no harm. They came to the defence of my airship and for that I am most grateful. We could have held back three enemy vessels ourselves but I do fear that significant damage would have been sustained.”

… “My host was trying to find out what I was and the only conclusion I could reach was that I was not of Valenar nor Aereni heritage. He agreed with that.”

“Yes, you are an enigma amongst our people,” Ahlissa tells him. “But the Vales-Tairn have accepted you and you have proven yourself in their eyes on more than one occasion. It is only my betrothed who has cast suspicion and doubted your qualities. No others.”

Aidan is reminded of the Star Haunt vision when he looks at the Le Shay seated around the table.

Entrees and main courses are brought out and Aidan is amazed at the variety of spices and range of food that is produced by their hosts. Some of it seems exotically flavoured but all of it is palatable and filling. Khoresh watches the companions quietly and when it becomes clear they have eaten all they are able, he asks “is everything satisfactory and to your liking?” Ahlissa and Jillian nod enthusiastically and express their gratitude.

Aidan agrees.

“Excellent, let us retire to the lounge. Relax for a while. Then I shall take you all on a personal guided tour of this magnificent warship.”

They find themselves led into a separate room where fine wooden furniture and soft padded couches are spread out. As they settle, light refreshments are served in the form of a mulled fruit flavoured wine.

A panel on the wall flickers with moving pictures and Aidan notices the other crew members watch it silently. Khoresh allows himself to admit a brief smile and informs Aidan that it is “an entertainment device. It provides us with informative details and on occasion … amusement.”

The tour itself takes them through various sections of the airship. They are shown the bridge, captains quarters, storage decks, armoury, living quarters and areas that Khoresh refers to as 'Engineering'. Much of what they see that is not the same as equipment on board the Zephyr Breeze appears to be more advanced and specialised. Ahlissa is very interested, as is Aidan, but he does struggle to understand what he sees. During some of the detailed explanations that Khoresh provides to Ahlissa, Aidan hears words such as 'technology','essence','ionised particles' and is also intrigued to hear mention of “planar gates” and “dimensional travel.”

Khoresh also explains that the warship, which he identifies as Void Ship 22, Traveller Class of the Third Battle Group is a technical construct that has also been infused with magical qualities from several different worlds. It employs temporal shielding and has been designed to shift between distant spaces using a variety of planar and inter-dimensional travel methods. He produces a thin smile when he realises that much of his description is hard for Aidan and Jillian to understand. “Of course, I shall simply call this vessel 'Stormbringer' for in your world that name is its common reference.”

Ahlissa asks about the crew onboard. “Yes, our crew is mixed. We have 50 Le Shay. Myself and the ten others you have met are the ranking officers. The remainder of my people are skilled in maintenance and research. We complement our living personnel with the mechanical beings you have also seen. We call them automated personnel, or simply autons. There are 200 of those onboard. They undertake many tasks for us, leaving us free to focus on decisions and our exploration of the places we visit. I understand you have thought of them as being like constructs or golems in your world. That is a fair approximation. The nearest similar creations to these that I have witnessed in Eberron would be the inventions your people made in Zanarkand, before it fell.”

… Aidan remains quiet, absorbing what he been shown.

During the walkaround, Khoresh proves to be a very serious mannered but charming host. He speaks very directly but takes some trouble to interpret complicated concepts into terms that the companions can understand. Of interest, as part of the conversation turns to the nature of the Le Shay, it is confirmed that the Le Shay were once confined on a world of their own, much like the elves of Eberron are today, but they grew in strength and knowledge by learning how to supercede the limits of nature to ascend and move beyond their own place of origin. They now travel between worlds and planes of existence in their mighty vessels, fondly referred to as 'Void Ships' and so aptly named because of the empty nothingness that separates the worlds from each other. Yet, while the Le Shay can be found anywhere, they no longer call any single place home. They have shed the need for such physical and mental bindings, believing this truly makes them free. They explore and protect areas of interest as the need or desire arises but equally they strive to minimise contact with other world races as much as possible. For practical reasons they prefer not to intervene directly in the affairs of others unless there is truly no other option but to do so. In the case of the Zephyr Breeze, their attention was drawn to its plight by the unusual convergence of events and disturbance around the site of what was formerly Platform One. It was that disturbance of the site that drew them to the location.

“We also realise our ship has been sighted around Khorvaire on a few occasions. I would like you to know that we maintain our presence here to monitor our platforms. But also we remain watchful for any further influences or disturbances that may originate from outside of Eberron itself. Your world already has many problems and you do not need outsiders adding to that. When Mabar became co-terminous above the Blade Desert and fell upon Zanarkand we thought we were ready to stop the event, or limit it should we prove to be unsuccessful. We had not accounted for an interruption at our facility. Mercenaries from Gideon city paid our platform an unfortunate visit, ironically with the assistance of your own vessel. The distraction was enough to affect our capability. Yet not all was wrong with that. The crystals they took back to Gideon revived and powered the shield technology that ultimately prevented the darkness from penetrating into the city. So I suppose our partial failure became a benefit. We watched from afar as that event unfolded.”



“After that happened, our people now track Izendraazt within the Void. He remains there inside the Fragment of Mabar, drifting. We watch his path and stay cautious. His power is diminished but not altogether removed. He is an ancient demon from your world and we know his patience. As do you Aidan. We have identified a link between him and you. In fact it was also that temporal disturbance that triggered the alarm to bring us here, to investigate suspicious activity at the former site of Platform One.”

… “The only link that I know I had with him was at Zanarkand when he stepped through. But when he released himself at Qualtesh it seemed like that was a past event, like the only reason he knew me in Zanarkand is because I assisted in releasing him earlier rather than later.”

“Interesting,” Khoresh adds. “Izendraazt is known to us for his ability to manipulate time in a limited manner. It is entirely possible you were one of his subjects. As we have determined he is an entity that can be very patient. But the threat from him has been greatly reduced. We do not think he will bother you any time soon.”

“At the Star Haunt, I saw a vision of Le Shay albeit they had the affliction you say I have. In one of the books I was able to read there was a symbol in a book. Do you know what that means?”

He studies it for a moment “Hmmm …” and summons one of the autons. He instructs the auton to crossreference against other data. There are a few moments of silence. Khoresh then produces an item from a pocket and looks at it. “Yes. The symbol is associated with those we identify as Umbragen. It mean fallen and there is an association of that symbol with Mabar.”

Aidan shows an image of both that symbol and the other conjoined. It is an exact copy of his dragonmark.

Khoresh again studies it and has it crossreferenced. “Fascinating. This symbol has not existed for a very long time. It was used by factions within the Le Shay before we became enlightened. Those factions were rebellious and warlike. They had dark hearts and could not see what the rest of us had envisioned for our future. I find it interesting that you show me this when you know that this same mark is a part of you. Now … I know you are not rebellious. This same mark does manifest within your world amongst some of those that humanity call monsters. There is a new group emerging in Eberron, a dragonmarked house you would call it, and it goes by the name of House Tarkanan. Also of note, we have learnt that a group of mages who name themselves The Twelve have seen fit to declare this mark as undesirable and that any who wear it ought to be eliminated or at the very least kept silent and unseen. They believe your world has all the dragonmarks that it needs and they will not tolerate any others. Is there anything else you may already know about this mark?”

“No I do not, except that it is partly serpentine and I can feel it. But I have no knowledge of this dragonmark nor why I have got it. I must say that for myself I have being to find out who my mother and father was. And I am no nearer to finding out. I think I might be descended from the Umbragen in some way.”

Khoresh nods and says “Your blood shows us conclusive evidence that you are indeed a descendent of what you name Umbragen. Now understand that for my people it is a difficult thing to admit that Umbragen exist. According to our history, the Le Shay that constructed Platform One and then the city all died. Nobody was rescued. Your existence now proves our people were wrong. Our people were wrong in that they did not search long enough for any evidence of survivors. And yet it is now clear that the city remained beneath the ground, separated from us. Our people were trapped and entombed within a hostile place. They must have changed. But some must have made it out. “

“Some did make it out. Those that didn't were forced to accept Izendraazt and thus adopted the symbol that was seen on their temple.” Aidan explains the visions that he saw.

“It is difficult for me to tell you this. If I could show emotion then I would. At best I can only tell you that this is troubling. I must report to my command what we have now uncovered. But this is good for our people, to learn after so much time what did happen. For what it is worth then it pleases me to know that some of those survivors made it out so that one such as yourself could exist today. You are one of us.”

Ahlissa and Jillian look slightly astonished.

“In spite of what I have seen it would not be good to portray the Umbragen as being a fallen people. Under the circumstances I think they had no choice. I know from Star Haunt the difficulty that the Le Shay had to fight their enemy. They had to become their enemy. In other words, adopt the taint and fight corruption with corruption. That is what they did. That does not make them a fallen people. I do not consider them such.”

“Indeed not. We will record their sacrifice as heroes. The lost people.”

Aidan recites to him the inscription he found at the entrance to Qualtesh and for this Khoresh is grateful.

Khoresh concludes the tour by offering a small gift to all three of his guests. It is a small oblong shaped obsidian and crystal object with a row of raised moveable buttons. “This will help you to communicate with us, should you ever wish to call out in times of dire need. If we are within range we will respond. It is your direct method of making contact with me. You simply press here and speak my name. We consider you to be kin. Each of your bloodlines are descended from our own since time that your people have named the Age of Giants, the time when your ancestors were enslaved by the fiendish brutes that ruled your world as it was beginning.”

The companions are led to a small chamber, identical to the one in which Aidan first found himself in, and they are asked to stand on the small raised platform at its centre. “This will transport you back to the exterior deck of your airship. Once you are on board and in command on your bridge, signal us with your communication device and we will assist you in travelling back to Gideon. We will enclose you within our shield and open a portal. This will appear as a storm in your region prior to us passing through. This is our further gift to you; it will save you many months of travel across Khorvaire.”

Ahlissa is very thankful at his news.

… “Thank you for this visit and learning opportunity. I hope we have given honour for the history that we have discussed and for the memory of the Umbragen.”

The companions return to the Zephyr Breeze and, true to his word, Khoresh transports both vessels to the coastal region immediately south of Gideon City's location.

Aidan says “we need to do a report for the elven ambassador. Do you want me to do that? Should we tell him everything that has happened?”

“Yes. We will be completely honest and tell him everything. Athovar is with us so there would be no sense in keeping secrets. I think it will for the elven people to understand a little more about the origins.”

Aidan works on preparing his notes and collaborates with the others to produce a good report.

Stormbringer departs, leaving the Zephyr Breeze alone. Late afternoon when they arrive. The crew were alright. Ahlissa says “lay in a course for Gideon” and they do so. The journey takes three hours.

Aidan tells Jillian “there will be a lot of interest in us coming back, considering how we left. I will keep a low profile.”

“Yes, I wonder what we will encounter,” she says.


Gideon City

On arrival at the airship port at the outskirts of Gideon, at dusk/early evening, it is apparent that there have been changes. Prior to disembarking, all crew are now required to be physically sighted and verified by members of a new militia force that has been assigned on duty.

“Who do these militia answer to?” Ahlissa asks.

“The Sentinel,” she is informed. “They were installed under an agreement that was reached by all members of The Thirteen, after its formation was sought by The Seeker on behalf of overtures made by The Twelve from the tower of Korth in Karrnath. The Fixer was involved in those negotiations so the full council could be assured the requirement for enhanced security is legitimate for our city. We understand that the militia is led by The Observers, who have members attached to them from Karrnath on an exchange programme.”

Aidan recalls immediately that the Observers were looking for people with aberrant dragonmarks. Knowing that he now has one, a powerful one, he is immediately concerned for his safety.

“Don't worry, we have your back.” Ahlissa tells him. “The Machination has been informed of events that are emerging here and are watching developments closely. We need to relax and blend in. Just pretend that nothing is out of the ordinary. I'm taking you to the Liberty Spire tonight for dinner. We have been invited as guests by the Aereni Ambassador. He is looking forward to hearing about our discoveries.”

… “Can Jillian come along?'

“Yes, Jillian is very welcome. She may come as she is now or perhaps she may wish to adopt an … alternative appearance.”

“Considering she is being hunted then that may be a good idea.”

“Very good then. I'll let you extend that invitation to her. We'll depart in two hours from this vessel. “

Aidan visits Jillian and invites her to the dinner and suggests a change in appearance. She smiles and says she will meet them on the deck prior to disembarking. “I will be Coralee Shyvath for the evening. Expect an exotic look but something practical, she says. I'm looking forward to the evening.”

An interesting night

The militia regard everyone with suspicion but raise no warning as Aidan, Jiliian (disguised) and Ahlissa pass through. They recognise the diplomatic credentials of the Aereni ambassador's invitation. “May we inspect your vessel tomorrow?” they ask Ahlissa. “I will speak to you then,” she tells them. They nod.

A sail barge is used to transport. Gideon looks normal, although the market looks perhaps a bit more subdued. The militia presence is obvious.

“This looks like an occupation,” Aidan remarks. “But a seemingly peaceful one.”
“Yes, I agree. It does seem a little disturbing. I wonder what the militia's true purpose will be.”

The driver overhears the conversation and he chimes in “oh don't you be worrying about those folk. Just keep to yerself and there no problem. Word has it on the street that they be looking for monsters.”

Aidan realises that there has been a change - the blending of humanoids among the population has lowered and those who do walk in public are more heavilly clotheed to conceal their appearance. “This is xenophobic,” Aidan says. “It is becoming like Zanarkand was.”

They arrive at the Liberty Spire and are ushered through to your table in the ding area, which is well placed to see the entertainment stage. It is a raised section so that you can see across the whole area.

“This is not the right place to say too much about our journeys. It is too public. We will give the ambassador our written report in private tomorrow.”

PERCEPTION 25, 28, 22 – Aidan scans the crowd, feeling a little paranoid.

Among the guests that Aidan sees attending the entertainment and a meal that evening, is Master Brevax and Mhorvaeus. The Adjudicator and The Gatherer, members of Gideon's ruling magical council are also here. Three tall men wearing black shirts, brown trousers and wide brimmed black hats are also here, silently watching the night's proceedings. Aidan recognises them as Observers.

He brings this to Ahlissa and Jillian's attention.

The ambassador (Daellin Corelaeth/Aren Shivaleth) is fascinated to hear about the adventures that Ahlissa and Aidan found themselves on. He asks what became of the dragonshard. He also confirms that Athovar, the representative from Shae Mordai, has made arrangements to return to Aerenal via the embassy. “He has spoken highly of you Aidan. He tells me you represent the best qualities of all our people. He was most impressed at your restraint in resorting to the use of weapons, an unusual trait for any Valenar. But now we know more of your true bloodline and its origins. Our scholars will study the story further for it is a sadness that will now and forever be recounted in our homeland. The presence of the Le Shay and the demise of the Umbragen will never be forgotten.”

Aidan speaks quietly “On the matter we are talikng abiut, it is not to be sad, but more to be talked about for it was not their doing.”

PERCEPTION 29, 30

Mhorvaeus is surrounded by many followers and servants and cannot be approached directly, or easily. He is observed watching the ambassador and Ahlissa's movements closely. He knows Aidan can see him and he waves and smiles, although it is clear his sincerity is … lacking.

… Aidan informs Ahlissa that Mhorvaeus is interested in both her and the ambassador at the moment. She laughs, “oh yes, my associates have told me how he had his people scour the neighbouring kingdoms searching for us with no luck.”

Aidan tells the ambassador “it was a privilege and an honour to meet the representative and I have learnt a great deal from him.”

Ivistar Immiar, Ahlissa's betrothed is also present at the dinner evening. She goes to him and spends an hour in his company before excusing herself and returning to Aidan's table. “The Vales-Tairn have grown restless in recent weeks and have begun moving resources northward to war outposts. They are claiming incursions of their territory have been made by mercenaries and soldiers from Karrnath. They also claim digging and exploration has been undertaken without permission being sought by archeologists and some other specialists that are with those people. I believe that some may be Academics from the Morgrave Outreach Society. Ivistar has been instructed to see that they do not transgress on Valenar land any further. He is being supported by two of the airships you saw during your time in Taer Valaestas, the Zephyr Cloud, and Zephyr Spirit.”

… “Why would they incur into your lands. There has got to be something they are after. Surely the ancient ruins are under your domain. Noone can dig without permission.”

“Exactly,” Ahlissa tells him. “that is why the Valenar people are so upset. This could bring war down upon Karrnath. If so, the warriors will not hold back. My associates are monitoring the situation from both regions. The Valenar are renowned for having a short fuse with their hot tempers.”

Ahlissa also speaks of Jillian and her concerns for her now that they have all returned to Gideon. “I am wary of what could happen to her. Gideon may not be safe any more. When you brought her to my airship and I accepted her without question, she told me about the plight of her people. That is why I took her in. Jillian is an Adaran separatist, one of the Kalashtar who is being persecuted and hunted by Reidran agents of The Dreaming Dark. Being away from here has helped her avoid them. I have it on good authority from The Machination that there is a cell of at least five Inspired operating within Gideon City. And the Reidran embassy has been engaged in discussions with The Thirteen more frequently in recent months. They appear to have gained some political influence in this city. I believe that Jillian may be in danger. She said she felt at home with the Le Shay. Perhaps it is possible she could stay with them? Maybe you could persuade her to go, for her safety? Of course, it is her decision to make. The alternative is that she stays and we do our best to provide her with warning and protection. One option that we have is to mount an assault upon those agents. The problem is that would incur the wrath of The Seeker and The Gatherer and undoubtedly raise the ire of the other members of the ruling council if we do so. What do you think?”

Out of the corner of his eye, Aidan can see that Jillian is returning to the table. “I agree with you but I destest saying this but given what we have seen and heard I think a discreet wakeup call is required. I mean discreet.”

“So you think an assault should happen, to remove the threat? It can be arranged quietly.”

“I believe that those particular five may have a lot more influence than what we deem. For what reason I cannot say. But yes, I think we need to do something. However in saying that it would only justify the militia and even reinforcing their numbers. So perhaps we could take the initiative elsewhere and act on your bethrothed information and target those who are desecrating sacred ground. In that case we could let the manifestation grow within the city and keep it watched by your people. But outside your city we can ensure the elven lands are keep under te control and jurisdiction of the elven people.”

Ahlissa smiles coyly and says “I like your thought process and so will Istivar. In his eyes you will win his favour by promoting elven interests over a human. It is an interesting you propose and I will take it to him. It does make sense. Let the political situation boil within this city and we seek to cut off anything external that feeds it. That is sound.”

“At the same time we can learn what is underlying the political situation within Gideon. It is inevitable that it may cause a lot of people to get hurt. There is history out there that is not for humans to learn about. IT is for our people.”

Ahlissa regards Aidan with a look of wonderment. “Aidan, you are really surprising me. Our trip has changed you. You are becoming more elven every day that passes. Very Valenar.”

“Well its your history and I'm a part of it. Let's protect it.”

Jillian returns to her seat “Hi,” she says. “you both look like you were having a solid conversation. Have I missed something? Have you guys noticed those funny guys off to the side with the wide brimmed hats. They hardly move and they haven't stopped to eat or drink anything. They just watch everyone. They're very creepy.”

“Yes, I have been watching them. They are either the same or very similar to the men at the inn when I first met you. Look … your enemy does have representation within the city. There are five at the moment that Ahissa's people know of and that puts you in considerable danger. What do you want to do?”

“It is as I feared. I thought I could sense the presence when we returned, but it was unclear. I am sworn to my people to kill these agents if I find them. Don't get me wrong, I am peaceful as are my people. But when cornered we have had to defend ourselves, even if it means taking the life of others. Make no mistake … these agents are no longer the people they once were. They are simply empty shells now inhabited by a hostile entity from another world. They must be destroyed.”

“I understand how you feel. However, as I was thinking the same thing I considered another option. There are circumstances outside the city that may require the attention of the Zephyr Breeze and that is the encroachment of humans backed by the The Twelve from Korth in Karrnath and they are encroaching onto elven lands and I think if we were to stop them we may learn a little more of what the politics of this city is becoming. That includes perhaps the influence of these five agents.”

“I see. I understand what you are saying. There is every likelihood that if I can sense them that they may also be sensing me. I take precautions that make such detection more difficult. But I could drop those measures in the hope that the agents follow us when we leave the city. It could be possible to lure them into a trap.”

Aidan smiles. “I know exactly the trap. That first city we excavated. Lets bring them there. We know it and its tunnels. It is outside the city and its jursdiction. Taer-Saedar.”

Ahlissa smiles “I like this possibility. I think that would work and we could gain the benefit of removing both problems in quick succession. It is a good plan and I can make arrangements to get the ambush location set up. We will discuss it further behind closed doors.”

The Ambassador has been dancing and returns to the table. “is everything al right and to your liking. After so many months away, I imagine this must be refreshing. No fighting, no drama and no political intrigue. You must be liking it to have no such further trouble?”

“I am enjoying the evening very much Ambassador,” Aidan remarks.

Mhorvaeus and his entourage leave during the dancing. Otherwise they kept to themselves, simply watching as before.

The evening progresses and Aidan goes to Master Brevax in his booth.

They greet each other warmly and he smiles. He appears to have aged somewhat over the past few months. He was 72 but he seems to have grown more tired and wrinkled than expected and a little withdrawn.

“Aidan my son … you have returned. It has been a while. Did everything go well, have you learnt all you ever hoped to know?”

“Yes I have Master Brevax … I saw you here tonight and I recall I promised you an account of my expeiences in Zanarkand and I give it to you now as promised. I also include an interesting encounter with the library at Korranberg where I was fascinated by the library and how it worked.”

He gratefully accepts the gift and examines it quietly for a while. “Very thorough and well written. You always were an exceptional scholar. That is why I took you on as my assistant all that time ago. Oh the things we have seen,” he reminsces.

“Oh yes Master, you have been a good teacher. Thanks to you I have the skills I have learnt. Knowledge, Patience, that sort of thing. Tell me how are you, are you still working? How is Gudeon these days.”

“Yes, I still work for the university and I still hope that my endeavour to reclaim Zanarkand will be realised one day. But it will not be easy. The authorities have imposed massive restrictions on historical study in this region. Severe penalties for breaching such an order are in force. Eerily reminiscent of the way that Zanarkand began to impose its control” he remarks.

“Look my friend, if you want this published I can give you a contact at the Korranberg Library who will publish ths on your behalf. I dare say that those who you are working for can get it there secretly and the word can get out abut the fall of Zanarkand, including the politics that brought it down. For it is happening here s;owly and discreetly.”

“Yes,” he agrees. “Have you seen the new militia on the streets?”

“Yes and I have noticed there are fewer humanoids on the streets. The market is quiet.”

“Thats true, now you mention it, I hadn't thought much of it before. But there it is. Change has come to Gideon. I wonder where it will lead us. I yearn to return to the desert. If we could rebuild the Zanarkand library we could make it great again.”

Aidan says quietly “Perhaps you can build your Zanarkand here and build a library secretly that when the forces that control the city are brought down you can have available for all to read and see. My book should be a message to all here in Gideon in that we do not want to have what happened in Zanarkand happen here in Gideon.”

He looks at Aidan for a moment, slightly lost in his thoughts. “I would like that,” he whispers. “You have given me hope once again, which has not been an easy commodity to come by lately when the Morgraves take everything for their own recognition. I will set about doing what you have suggested.”

“I have one other work which I cannot release at the moment. But once I can you shall be the first to receive it.”

“I look forward to that,” he says.

“As to the Morgraves we are going to deal with them very soon, but outside the city. There are places we have leanrt about that have yet to be excavated and the elven people are determined to learn about those places and their hstory.”

He nods silently in understanding and then thanks Aidan and prepares to leave for the night. “It was good seeing you, I am glad you came back.”
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