Zg Session 33 5

AveryCoast: After stepping off the train and speaking with the investigators outside, Damata Griento steps up to the two of you, wringing his hands. "Do you two have any plans for tonight?"
Hilda doesn't look in the best of sorts. 'Ragged' almost fits, but she wears it in her expression more than anything. She gives him a wary glare before responding. "Either tending to a hangover, getting more drunk, or… something. Little shell-shocked after the other day."
Ananth‘ smiles, all grace to offset Hilda’s state of affairs. If he's shaken by what happened, he's not showing it. "Have something in mind? I think my friend here could use a distraction."
Damata: "Sorry, I just thought that with the debates between the two of you, you might like to listen to Vlendam Heid speak tonight. I heard he's scheduled to speak at the Common Theatre in the Enclave at 8."
Hilda perks up almost immediately at that. "Wait. What?"
Ananth‘ smiles satisfiedly. "I knew it."
Hilda: "I would have never thought I’d have the opportunity to hear him speak in person! I think you just did more for my spirits than ale ever could."
Damata perks up a bit as well. "Perfect! I'll meet you at the theatre a bit before 8, then? I've got to see my family to our room tonight."
Ananth‘ nods. "Certainly. And, thank you for letting us know!"
AveryCoast: They head off over to the hotel. Jeremy, who I’m sure looks incredibly bored right now, waves off himself.
Ananth‘ isn’t surprised. Kids these days.
AveryCoast: Any plans over the next hour, or just getting your hotel room setup and then heading over?
Hilda muses to herself. "I'm curious to hear from him. My personal interpretation of his texts so far - the 'proper ending' to affairs - has more emphasis on the 'proper' part than the 'ending' part. Apparently some chapters of adherents believe the opposite."
Hilda just plans to freshen up a bit and grab a few books in case she needs to recite passages for a debate.
Ananth‘ is along for the ride, really. Anything he’d feel like quoting or citing he memorised a long time ago; right now he's just trying to keep Hilda company.
Damata meets you outside the theatre when you arrive. "Thanks again for coming. They've reserved the front seating for passengers, but it doesn't seem like most people are in the mood for it today."
Ananth: "Just means we'll get to stretch our legs a little."
Hilda: "A shame, but understandable."
AveryCoast: There's some other people gathered around outside, but most of them look scholarly.
AveryCoast: Damata leads you inside, taking a seat in the front row.
At 8 pm, the enclave clock tolls, and Vlendam Heid walks on stage, wearing a heavy brown suit and thick spectacles. The audience is filled with scholars, philosophers, and theologians, but a roped-off section in front reserved for railroad passengers is empty save for Damata and yourselves.
Heid: "People ask me," he starts, "how will the world end? How in the various hells should I know? I am not a prophet. I don't believe you can know what will happen. Yes, mages and priests can see paths and visions, but it only takes one unlikely interaction or chance meeting to change the course of the future."
Heid: "I don't say I know how the world will end. But I know that it will end. Every fire burns itself out. Tomorrow morning, look to the sun. Feel how warm it is. One day it must burn out, and without it this world will freeze. Maybe some—."
He stops, then looks down to the front row and adjusts his glasses.
Heid: "I prepared a speech," he says. "They hired me and told me the audience would be layfolk. I tried to prepare something simple. I see I have some admirers in the back rows, but up front, it is pretty empty. You survived the attack on the train today?"
Damata nods. Unexpectedly, Heid sits down at the edge of the stage and lets his feet dangle as he addresses the three of you directly.
Heid: "I have a contract, and I must speak on a level my audience understands. Let us be efficient. I wrote a rather long treatise on how best to prepare for death, and for other endings in life. Today there was a great deal of death on your train. I leave it to you: please ask whatever you want, and perhaps we can learn something from this tragedy."
Hilda: "Technically speaking."
Damata thinks for a minute, then says, "The people who died today don't have a chance to change anything anymore. I do. I hurt my family, and I can’t stand myself now. I want to change things. I saw I could die out of nowhere, so I guess I should make amends while I have the chance."
"I have dealt with this before," Heid says. "Life has many chapters, and if you want the book to end properly, you must choose the path of each chapter well too."
"Oh." Damata slumps. "It's hard, because I think if I try to fix anything, I'll get myself killed."
People in the back of the theatre make furious notes.
Hilda: "What if you choose poorly? What if you misinterpret the 'book,' so to speak, or jump to conclusions too early?"
Hilda: "You need to know the paths from those choices, and then from those, all unto the end of your own mortal coil. It's daunting."
Ananth‘ raises his eyebrows. He wants to ask Heid how he’s so sure that the sun will burn out, eventually, but now doesn't seem to be the time. After a pause for reflection, and with a faint smile: "One must survive, and be the light in the world that one wishes to see. Grow and flourish. Even if you're right, until the very day the sun dies, somewhere in the world, there'll be a garden."
Ananth‘ pats Hilda on the shoulder, consolingly.
Heid: "One can never have perfect knowledge of the future, even with the help of magic. You can only prepare as best you can. It may not always be correct, but at least you tried." He turns to Damata. "And what kind of problem have you run in to?"
Damata: "I…was tricked by a man. I’m more a businessman than a warrior, despite my lineage. This man spun tales of a train crossing the Anthras Mountains, to connect Ber to Risur."
Damata: "I borrowed money from The Family to buy a stake, and then the man disappeared with the money."
Hilda: "(I wasn't even speaking in terms of scrying or prophecy. Hmph.)"
Hilda glances at Damata. "(…although.)"
Ananth: "Mm. That's what they do, yes."
Heid motions with his hands. "And they're expecting repayment?"
Damata looks crestfallen. "Yes. I tried begging for mercy, but they said it wasn't their problem whether I lost it to a scam or gambling. I'm to meet them in Nalaam tomorrow night, and to repay them, I…" He hitches his breath. "I stole some magical heirlooms and war trophies from my family, at their urging, to pay them back."
Hilda: "How far away do you think your conman could be?"
Heid: "Hmmm. Do you expect that to be the end of your arrangement with the Family?"
Damata shakes his head at both questions. "He used teleportation magic to 'wine-and-dine' me, so to speak, so he could be anywhere. He did have a Risuri accent, but I don't even think his name was true. As for the Family…I should never have gone to them for help."
Damata: "I'm sure they'd say the debt was repaid, but somewhere down the road, when they wanted some help in Ber…"
Ananth: "They do tend to try their best to corrupt anything good and pure that they touch, don't they?" He smiles, sadly.
Heid: "Then what do you feel like you should do tomorrow night?"
Hilda: "Quite. It sounds like we might have more to talk about after this."
Damata frowns. "Even if I paid them, they might come for me, or worse, my family next. Better to stand up to them, with no regrets for afterwards."
Ananth‘ glances sideways at Hilda; does the ’are you thinking what I'm thinking' eyebrow.
Hilda: "Like I said. Talk with us later."
Damata: "I'm not much of a fighter though, so I don't expect that would help much, but…" He looks to Ananth and Hilda. "I heard about what you did this morning, racing towards that beast instead of away from it like the rest."
Ananth: "I've never been known for my instinct for self-preservation." He smiles. "I talk a big game about 'a life well-lived', but, when push comes to shove…" He laughs, gently.
Damata: "Especially you, Ananth, facing those things directly, and healing some of the survivors afterwards."
Hilda: "Uh. I kind of ended up huddled in my room. Self-preservation eventually kicked in."
Hilda: "Bad at adapting. Good at foresight and planning, though."
Ananth: "They needed my help." He shrugs, a little. "One can't have a walled garden without a wall, after all."
Damata: "Do you think you could help me 'discuss' things tomorrow night? And maybe ask your…disciple, was it? He seems like a good shot. That Mr. Noir as well seemed to know his business. I'll try asking them, and maybe Mr. Batali as well."
Ananth: "That young man showing off his… devices… seemed to be showing some initiative as well. Yes, I think we could have quite a productive discussion with your friends."
Hilda: "While they're discussing that… Heid. I had a question for you about your work. The passages about dwarven mythology and the end of things … those seem to get more of the focus, and I feel the public at large misses the point of your overall thesis."
Heid nods at Ananth and Damata, then turns to Hilda. "I had a feeling you had some more questions now that a wayward guest has figured out his path."
Heid looks a bit sombre as he answers this. "I, too, feel that some are twisting my teachings away from the original intent."
Hilda: "You listed an example of how mythology and stories a culture believes in shaped the Drakran of defining something in how it ends. That was just an example of a larger point, not the main point, right?"
Heid: "I've seen writings around town, even books written in this direction." He shakes his head. "No, it was merely an example at hand that fellow Drakrans could relate to."
Heid: "The world will end on its own terms, one day. We needn't try and hasten it along."
Hilda nods. "That the belief in eschatology isn't the truth, but it's a truth because it's already so prevalent in the minds of everyone. If it were a different civilization, it would be something other than eschatology, and your original thesis would hold true without the example of Drakr."
Hilda: "Just. The example's taken hold in common consciousness."
Hilda: "Is that how you want your contribution to end? The example, mistaken for the original teaching? How would you go about working toward an outcome better than that?"
Ananth: "A shift from being aware of one's own mortality- of the mortality of everything, even a Goddess- to reaching towards the end of all, as a tangible thing, that one might touch with one's bare hands."
Ananth: "Rather… dangerous, don't you think?"
Heid: "I fear that some are twisting, moulding, condensing my works. I hear these rumblings all the times. That people are not preparing how all things in their lives will end, but simply 'prepare for the end'."
The scholars in the back continue scribbling notes furiously.
Hilda glances behind her and clear her throat. "Apologies. Did I find myself in the wrong row?"
Heid: "These lectures are part of how I am trying to stop that. By sharing the knowledge with more people, it can spread farther."
Heid laughs. "I'm sure some of them would love to speak with me as such, but for the moment, the floor is yours."
Ananth: "Vekesh, in his commentary on the Song, whilst he was composing it, wrote of similar fears. You aren't alone." He smiles.
Heid: "Many of them have had their moment previously, at any rate."
Hilda: "Yet were you also not guilty of 'condensing' your works by your original 'simpler' talk?"
Hilda: "I mean, you obviously deviated from that plan in practice."
Heid swings his legs a bit. "But that content was also directed towards that end. It's not as if I can cover my entire works in an hour, after all."
[OOC] Hilda: "OR CAN YOU?" [Time Stop]
[OOC] AveryCoast: People can't hear you then!
[OOC] Hilda: technicalities
Hilda: "True. 'Brevity is the soul of wit,' as it's said. It just takes very careful diction, I'd imagine."
Ananth: "And even among my people, there are those who take the Garden-Wall Stanza to mean that one must live one's life in a constant fight against the world, even despite Vekesh's best efforts towards clarity. One must accept that, no matter what one does, one will eventually be misunderstood by somebody."
Hilda: "I didn't mean to accuse you of anything, for what it's worth. I expected you had a rationale."
Heid looks at Ananth. "Yes, your people certainly know about endings. The strength of the Vekeshi words is inspiring in their original form."
Heid: "No, it's fine. I expect my fans are enjoying this more than a speech they've heard in various different forms, regardless."
Ananth‘ smiles, deeply and genuinely. "I’m glad to hear that. The Song is for all who listen, after all."
Hilda: "Well. I'm glad I could help make your intent more explicit."
Heid: "I'm glad to hear that. Now, I'm Vlendam Heid, as you know. Might I get your names, my guests?"
Hilda: "If you're looking for us on the train, Hilda Straub. Though, most of my actual work is under a pen name."
Damata: "Damata Griento, sir."
Ananth: "Ananth Rao. It's been a pleasure and honour to meet you." And, I mean, he's used this pseudonym before, if someone sent a message to 'Ananth Rao' care of the Vekeshi song-circles it'd probably get to the right place.
Heid: "No sirs here, thank you very much. It was a pleasure speaking with you tonight. Now, in true Drakran tradition, let me buy you all a drink."
Hilda might try to find time to enchant a card with Secret Page with her real name. If she can surreptitiously steal away 10 minutes tonight to do so.
AveryCoast: I'm sure you can find time later tonight. He and Damata head to the bar in the enclave, and you're welcome to join.
Hilda joins, of course.
AveryCoast: There was much drunken philosophizing to be had that night.

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