Book I Chapter 2: The Honest Truth
I've always considered myself a very observant and careful person; when my family quarreled and fought over the bigger picture, I found the truth was often hidden within the fine details. I dedicated my life to learning-- and I promised myself from the start that I would dig as far as I had to to find the reality inherent in everything.
Somehow, I managed to let all that slip when I came into direct contact with the entity known as Nefirian Dreamscar.
I had been studying and cataloguing the flora and fauna of Dreamsong when it first contacted me through a dream. It was interested in my work, as well as in the way I held myself when performing my research; even in the face of the most horrifying effects of mirajin radiation, I did my utmost to remain a neutral party, recording my findings in the interest of unbiased truth rather than to pander to any method of thought.
There were plenty of people in the world with agendas-- I saw no need to add to their ranks. I was interested only in performing the necessary task of understanding the world for what it was and spreading that information to anyone in need of it.
And so, when Nefirian asked me to come study under the Rose, I politely declined-- unaware that my dismissal would only enhance the creature's curiosity.
From that moment on, it came to me like a gatekeeper to the land of dreams, and we discussed many things before we went our seperate ways into the night. Every time, it would make its offer again, and every time, I would say no – a nightly ritual that led into discussions of the state of Valenth and the things within it, and all the science either of us could stand.
I learned things no mortal had any right to ever know from it-- and in return, it learned about the nature of people and their ways of life from me.
Even during its life as an Aeneski, it had never truly lived as others do-- it had spent precious little time around other humanoids before its transformation into the creature it is now. I took it upon myself to teach it what life meant to humans and what it meant to have it taken away, as well as about human family and friends, human ambition and emotion.
I taught it these things, without ever really considering the implications of needing to teach in the first place.
Not once did I question this until I stood with Grey Scott inside his office, staring in awe and horror as the Veil tore open, knowing that only one creature on Valenth could have possessed the means, the ambition, and the lack of human understanding to have conducted such a terrible event.
In my arrogance, I believed I could teach an entity thousands of years older and inconcievably more intelligent than myself the meaning of human empathy.
I had forgotten something vital, something as true as it is horrible.
Beings who are not raised as people have extreme difficulty becoming people well after the fact.
Christoph Biogenesis Laboratory
Somnambulist Project HQ
Gier, South Dreamsong
The laboratory was full of activity; technicians and researchers scurried to and fro with specimens, journals, paperwork and supplies as they worked tirelessly to uncover as much as possible about their new charges.
Elliot bit her lip as she gazed down into one of the cages. A small weasel peered back up at her, its nose twitching as it stood on its hind legs. Behind it, its tail curled and writhed-- the fur parted, giving way to a small green snake that hissed with great displeasure at the people making such a commotion around them.
“This is a common Dremish Stoat,” Elliot explained softly. “We have at least ten more like this—displaying similar or other striking mutations-- brought in from the areas just around the city of Gier. We've not seen a single specimen without severe or heavy mutation since the Veil opened, and signs seem to be pointing towards the same being the case for all other animal species found in the region.”
She sighed, taking her glasses off and pressing her hand to her face; startled, the snake-tailed stoat shuffled backwards, the serpent attached to it rearing its head.
Apologizing softly to the little animal, she made her way down the table to pause before another cage, this one holding a reasonably normal stoat.
“Here we have a specimen who has been exposed to heavy vitae; we were able to reverse most of the mutation, although not without ill effects. The stoat should be fine with watchful care... however, considering the amount of vitae necessary to revert it to a natural appearance, the implications for the level of ambient mirajin in the atmosphere are troubling, to say the least.”
She paused, waiting patiently for the researcher at her side to finish taking down her words before continuing.
“Gier and Faerwethr are a 'safe' distance away from the Veil's surface, and the effects and rate of mirajin mutation have been staggering. Axl is just within its range, however, and Jetersborough is believed to have fallen well inside the area of most severe impact. We have several researchers and mirologists en route to Axl to survey the area at this point in time, however the Somnambulist Project has no plans of sending personnel to the Jetersborough site for reconnaissance at this time.
"Our head of Mirology, Gigi Urbain, has strongly advised against anyone approaching Jetersborough for the forseeable future. We have been urged not to send a party to Axl as well, but our volunteers have insisted that they understand the risks involved and waivers have been signed.”
Elliot frowned, exchanging a glance with her colleague. “You can go ahead and finish it up from there. Our photographer is out for now, but she'll be in later to take the pictures of the stoats. I'm going to get packed; the longer we wait to run this expedition, the worse it's going to get out there.
"No, don't ask me if I'm sure I want to do this,” she sighed. “I might've had the ability to stop this from happening. If anyone's going out to survey the damage face to face, I need to be one of those people.”
Next Chapter: Volume II - Book I Chapter III
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