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Enlightenment - Chapter XVII

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"Another beautiful day," says the bearded museum owner, with two halves of some kind of dark green melon in his hands.

Melfina agrees with a warm smile.

"A day to celebrate!" he says, offering her one of the halves.

Melfina takes the melon and gives it a look as she sits down with her neighbor. "Are you going to tell me what this is? Or am I just supposed to trust you?" Its sweet smell tells her either choice is a good choice.

"This, my dear, this is a marsh melon. The finest fruit of the swamps of Umbra!" he exclaims while waving his spoon in the air. "Umbra's been looking at what kind of exports they can offer, now that border restrictions are gone. So eat up!"

The scribe takes a spoonful of melon and lets the juices wash over her tongue. "This is delicious!"

"Yes it is. But we're not here to celebrate this melon, we're celebrating my newest acquisition!"


"A Ranger Armor Gorget!"

"That's wonderful!" Melfina exclaims as she gets up and hugs Draven.

"I know it's not really worth much these days, but my ancestor's wealth came about because of these!"

Melfina smiled. She'd heard it all before, but she knew it was something special for him.

"It's been eight years since I found my last piece."

"Where'd you find this one?"

"You wouldn't believe it. I didn't believe it!" it was in some small time shop outside of Jhelom. I was haggling for a jackal's collar, and the greedy bastard wouldn't budge, so I thought I'd browse the local shops. And at the very first shop, it was right there in the open! It's been so long since Ranger Armor was the finest armor to be had, with my ancestors the finest crafters. And it's been ages since they've gone out of use. There are too few complete sets left. And there it was! One more piece! I didn't bother to hide my excitement, and even offered to pay five times what he was asking. Only two more pieces to go."

Their interests were different, but that excitement about completing a collection was the same for all collectors.

"And where will you display it when you've finally found it all? Here or your place in Umbra?"

"That is not something I've figured out yet. Where ever it will be appreciated the most, of course. There are certainly less people in Umbra, but sometimes they can be more appreciative."

"You know I always appreciate you!"

"Of course lass, but my museums aren't just for you." Melfina playfully pouts at him. "Ha! That won't work on me, lass. Not even if you were my daughter."

"On fine. How long have you had that place over there by the way?"

"A few years short of this one."

"That long? So you should be familiar with Umbra. Do you think I could pick at your brain a while? I told you about my book right?"

"Oh yes, yes! Your book! How has that been coming along, lass?"

"Well... it started off as a general book on Umbra, but Necromancy is just so fascinating. It's so similar to magery, yet so different at the same time."

"Well if you're going to write about necromancy, I don't see how you can't include at least a small section on Umbra itself."

"What do you mean?"

"Paladins... they're the symbolic moral center of their city, but they don't rule it. Aedilwulf does. And the Merchant Vendor Council does to a smaller extent. If he hadn't gained support from your... friend... Wayland, and the Keeper of All, after the Dragon War, he wouldn't be ruling the city now. Regardless of the honorary title they've given him, he's not a true paladin. He doesn't think like them, so Luna doesn't truly reflect who they are. And of course there are other Orders than just the Order of Light."

"As for Umbra, it's their only haven, and so it's necromancers that rule, and necromancers only. They are the paladin and holy mages in one package. If you write about their craft, surely you have to write about them. And if you write about them, that means you write about Umbra. Even non-magical issues, such as privacy. Necromancers are big on it. You stay out of their way, they stay out of your way. If that gets threatened, you can be sure you'll be hearing about a new Warden Primus on the throne."

"Stop right there. I need to start taking notes. I'll be right back."

Melfina puts down her spoon and makes her way upstairs for supplies.

Come on, come on! I know one of these is already open! She thinks as she sifts through her inks. She finds the one she was looking for and grabs a few pens.

Then she hears a shout from below, "Lass! I think I'd best be going now! We'll talk again some other time! You have a friend here to see you!"

"Wait! Where are you going!" She makes her way to the ground floor, with every intention of catching up to him, only to find Wayland in the doorway, with a spellbook in his hands. "What are you doing here? Get out!"

"Now Melfina, what kind of greeting is that," he says shaking the spellbook at her, pretending he was only trying to shake his finger at her. That would have been insulting enough, but he was doing more than that. It was the Tome of Enlightenment he had in his hands. It had been the oldest and most powerful spellbook known, until the Tome of Lost Knowledge was found. Both were usually kept locked up. He would only bring it with him for ceremonies. Or battle.

"How dare you! I know you sent them to break in here!"

He shakes his head with a sigh of regret. "I'm sorry to hear you've had trouble. But you know I'd never do such a thing."

"I know exactly what you'd do. Don't deny you got the outcome you wanted."

"My hands are clean, no matter what accusations you make, but you wouldn't be so angry if there wasn't something you were trying to hide. Give it to me."


"The Tome of Lost Knowledge belongs to Luna. You have no right to it."

"You're going to stand there and pretend you had nothing to do with the break in, then demand I give you something you shouldn't have any idea I possessed!"

"So you admit you have it. The letter was righ-"

"Who sent it! I want to know!"

"Only if you give me the Tome." Wayland pauses a moment to give her a chance. "Well then, regardless of how the information was obtained, it would be irresponsible of me to ignore something of this magnitude. I have a much greater responsibility than maintaining a quaint little shop," he says with a dismissive wave of his hand. "The book belongs to Luna. Give it here, Melfina."

"I bought it fairly from a shop in Luna! You can't just demand it from me! No law requires me to give it to you!"

"Come now. You don't honestly believe you found a second copy of the Tome of Lost Knowledge, and it just happened to appear inside Luna, just two years after the last copy known to exist was supposedly destroyed during the Dragon War. You've seen the copy yourself. You know it's mine."

"And you don't think anyone would be stupid enough to steal it from the Luna Library only to sell it within Luna's walls for only fifty gold pieces! And yes I have seen your copy, and I know mine is different! I applied a new red leaf sealant myself. Your's already had it!"

"So that's the feeble lie you'd defend yourself with. Just to take what's mine. How could a Tome of Lost Knowledge have survived all these centuries without any kind of sealant? It couldn't. It would have deteriorated. And I'm sure if I asked to take a look at the book now, you'd just claim the sealant has fully settled into the book now, and I wouldn't be able to tell how long it's been since it was applied."

Melfina just glares.

"Very well. If you're willing to tell such an obvious lie, I can see that I won't get the book today. And regardless of what you think of me, you know I wouldn't send people to sneak in to your library and take it, even though it is my property. You also know you can't stop me. You have given me what I need to make my case to the Archduke. Make use of it while you can. The book will return to its rightful owner soon enough."

* * *

High Father,

I have discovered something intriguing, and would share it with you in the spirit of our continued friendship. I will go to our regular meeting place tomorrow night.

Lady Reba

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