Lalai is eager to hear tell of your recent adventures.
Lalai is most intrigued by your tales of your journey to and from the First. In return, she shares the news that she has at long last completed her written record of all the knowledge of black magic she has gathered in the course of your adventures together. However, now she faces a dilemma, as despite her pleas, the Order of Nald'thal adamantly refuses to house such potentially dangerous knowledge within their archives. At Lalai's behest─and that of the Hearer Zhai'a Nelhah, who once again has invited himself to join in your adventures─you resolve to accompany your friend to the Arrzaneth Ossuary.
Upon arriving at the Ossuary, Lalai pleads her case to Prelate Yayake, but her words fall on deaf ears. When you step in to offer your support, the receptionist grudgingly admits that there is one member of the guild who sympathizes with the black mage's argument─and it is none other than Cocobuki, eldest of the five guildmasters. Heartened by the news, Lalai sets off to speak directly with the man himself, in hopes of winning his approval.
Though Guildmaster Cocobuki shares Lalai's perspective regarding the value of her research, he explains that his word alone will not suffice to sway the naysayers. Instead, he proposes that a hearing be held with Prioress Dewlala herself, that the head of the Order of Nald'thal might hear both sides of the argument and render her impartial judgment. Lalai is quick to accept the challenge, and wishes to meet with you outside the Ossuary to work out the details of your argument.
You have barely begun to discuss your argument when Lalai is struck with a bout of dizziness and suddenly collapses. Clearly shaken by the sight, Zhai'a Nelhah swoops the black mage into his arms and rushes off for Frondale's Phrontistery, where he would treat her further.
Puzzling out the details with the help of knowledge you gleaned from your travels to the First, Zhai'a Nelhah believes he has found a way to restore Lalai's aetheric balance and save her from a grim fate. In return, the Hearer asks that you delay the proceedings with Prioress Dewlala by petitioning Master Cocobuki, but his request is cut short when Lalai arrives to insist the hearing go ahead as planned. She entrusts her magnum opus to you and promises to be along shortly. Taking the tomes that are the fruit of Lalai's labors in hand, you set off back for the Ossuary, where your allies and opponents in this cause await.
You are doing your best to keep Dewlala's interest piqued when you are rejoined by Lalai, whose aetherial balance has been restored. Thoroughly won over by the black mage's logical and impassioned plea, the Prioress does not merely agree to housing her compendia in the Order's archives, but orders that a new research group dedicated to studying potential applications of black magic be established under Cocobuki's stewardship. Take your leave of this place with your companions, and revel in your hard-earned victory over prescripts and prejudice.
Cocobuki congratulates Lalai on her success, while also warning her that the true battle to regain people's trust in the art of black magic has only just begun. Lalai restates her vow to work tirelessly toward her life's goal of handing down the art of black magic to future generations, before taking her leave to convey the good tidings to a certain Hearer who also played a role in your triumph.
Zhai'a Nelhah is overjoyed to hear the good tidings, and positively stupefied when Lalai proceeds to offer him genuine words of thanks. The Hearer takes his leave in his typically oblivious and insensitive fashion, upon which Lalai once again thanks you for your efforts on her behalf. Relieved that she need no longer carry on her life's work in the shadows, she asks for your continued support in preserving the art of black magic for posterity.
A journey to another world, you say? Intriguing, indeed. Consider me impressed...and even a bit envious.
How you were able to peer into the past of the archmage Nyelbert, and form a bond across the ages with his young friend Taynor. Though the circumstances are not entirely the same, I cannot help but think back to my own encounter with the great Shatotto.
Speaking of which, I, too, have been keeping myself occupied. Why, I have recorded every detail we learned on our last adventure in writing, that we might preserve Shatotto's knowledge for posterity, and avert any similar calamity that may threaten future generations.
Just the other day, I put the finishing touches on the final chapter of the final volume, concluding with Shatotto's departure. There is, however, one lingering...hmm?
Come now, Lalai. You yourself mentioned that you were at a loss for what to do with the records you had scribed, yes? I simply hoped to inquire as to whether there have been any fruitful developments on that front.
...Hmph. So you mean to rub salt in my wounds, yes? There have been no developments, fruitful or otherwise. I consulted with my brothers and sisters at the Order of Nald'thal, but to the last man they refused to even entertain the thought.
Excommunicated!? Simply for the pursuit of knowledge? Perish the thought! Though, to be fair, there are many holier-than-thou types in the Order who share this pigheaded Hearer's opinion...
Irrespective of this, the fact remains that the Order sealed away countless tomes in their vaults when they forbid the art of black magic. Storing my own writings with them, I would argue, is the most logical option.
But no─they are too prudish and prejudiced against yours truly to listen to reason. Then again, perhaps if a thaumaturge in good standing with the Order were to put in a good word on my behalf...
A moment if you please, Forename. To tell the truth, the question of where to store her records is not the only matter that concerns me about Lalai of late.
Recently, I cannot help but feel that the aetheric power within her is...shifting, warping in ways that I have not felt before. As for why this is, I cannot yet be sure. Until we discover more, pray look after her, will you?
My apologies, but I believe it best that I remain here until your negotiations are complete. I shudder to think of the consequences if my colleagues at the Conjurers' Guild found out I was conspiring with the likes of you and Lalai. Nothing personal, of course.
Forename! Well, this is an unexpected surprise. And not an entirely pleasant one, though it is by no fault of your own...
The unmitigated gall of you, Lalai! Did you honestly believe that dragging poor Forename here─against his will, no doubt─would convince me to agree to housing your shameful scribblings in our archives?
I have said it once, and I will say it again. Until the day you renounce the depraved teachings of Ququruka, you will find no friends here. I would see those books burn before I give them a home here─for our sake, and for your own!
...Hm. At least one of us here is capable of communicating like an adult.
I will grudgingly admit that there is one other who shares Lalai's sentiments. In fact, it is none other than our very own guildmaster, Master Cocoba...Cocobe...er, what was the name again?
After all you have done for our guild, I felt you deserved an answer to your query, and so I gave you one. And yet I advise you to proceed with caution. Lalai has few allies here, and I would hate to see your pristine reputation sullied by association.
Hm hm hm... I was wondering who might be behind the screaming and stamping that echoed all the way to this chamber. Sister Lalai, was it?
Yes, it is true. I find myself rather convinced by the young lady's argument. It is all but impossible for us to prevent any and all from studying the dark arts.
Why, then, not keep this dangerous knowledge close at hand, where we keep an ever-watchful eye on those who would pursue it? And yet, I fear that my own view is not a popular one, and my power to influence the others is far from absolute.
And so I would offer a proposal. Let us state our case directly to the head of the Order─to Prioress Dewlala herself─that she might pass judgment.
You and Lalai shall argue in favor of accepting the tomes, and those opposing shall argue against. Should all go well, the prioress will agree to the proposal, and the tomes will have a safe home.
And yet, the plan is not without risk. Should your argument be less than convincing, there remains a chance Dewlala may expressly forbid any further research. Why, if she is in a particularly foul mood, your very place in the Order may suddenly become...quite tenuous.
Hah! As if there is a chance my words could be anything but persuasive. I accept! Pray summon the prioress at her earliest convenience.
Well, that settles it. We'd best hurry and prepare our argument─out of our enemies' earshot, of course. Come with me, Forename!
For whatever it avails you, I shall voice my opinion in favor. No doubt Prelate Yayake will take her place at the head of the opposition.
On another matter, is Lalai quite all right? I could not help but sense the aether within her swirling in a most unusual fashion...
I can only assume that playing host to Shatotto's memories has put a terrible strain on her─one from which she has yet to completely recover.
Yes, it would seem that her mind and spirit are in mortal peril. I have never witnessed this degree of aetheric imbalance before. I do not suppose you have...?
What will you say?
I saw a world consumed by Light...
I saw a man transform into an unholy abomination...
...I see. I can scarcely imagine all you have witnessed in your travels, but an imbalance of aether similar to what I now observe in Lalai would appear to be behind the phenomena you describe.
If we can assume that the memories of Shatotto taking up residence in Lalai's corporeal form stimulated her aetheric flow, causing it to shift violently in an astral direction...then it only stands to reason we could restore balance by introducing a counteracting umbral aspect!
By the Twelve, I think I've got it! And yet, the process will not be quick...nor easy. I suppose we've no choice but to ask Master Cocobuki to delay the hearing...
Delay the hearing!? Have you lost what little wits you had!? Why, if word got out that my condition was the result of my pursuit of the dark arts, it would all but seal Yayake's case against me!
No, we must proceed as planned, before our opponents are the wiser. Forename, here is my magnum opus─the fruits of all we went through together. I leave them in your capable hands. Go on ahead, and I will be along in due time.
Hm hm hm... Lalai will be joining the proceedings a touch late, you say? That is most...unlike her, to say the least.
She has entrusted her records to you? Very well. With any luck, we will be able to use them to our advantage. Now, allow me to see them. The prioress will be here all too soon...
Lalai has not even the courtesy to arrive on time to the hearing she herself requested? I swear, the woman's selfishness knows no bounds! I move that her request be dismissed immediately. It is...for her own good.
Her own good...? Yes...it is as I suspected. You speak from your own experience...don't you, child?
I recall that you, too, once took an unpopular position in support of your erstwhile Master Mumuepo...one that earned you only the ire of your brothers and sisters.
Yes...and what of it!? I fought for a hopeless cause that in the end served only to isolate me from my peers. Is it so wrong that I wish to save Lalai from a similar fate? She must abandon this farce at once and return to her rightful place in the Order!
To this, I cannot agree. In the short time before these proceedings, I perused what I could of these tomes. In their pages are writ not only forbidden secrets of black magic, but accounts of astounding phenomena the likes of which even I could scarcely imagine.
Lalai conducted her research without the support─or interference─of the Order, and the fruits that research has borne cannot be denied. While our guild could not support a thousand others like her, I see little to gain from stifling one woman's passion, and forcing her to work within such rigid rules and regulations.
The merits of both arguments are not lost on me. And yet I must confess a degree of ignorance about the matter at hand. All know that black magic was forbidden for its role in bringing disaster to our world. And yet, you still practice this art. Tell me, adventurer─is this magic as calamitous as the rumors say?
If I understand you correctly, you would argue that in the right hands, even the art of destruction might serve the greater good. And yet, how are we to be certain that this Sister Lalai can be trusted with such potentially ruinous knowledge?
There are times when vast destructive powers are needed...this is your claim? From my observations, I suppose you may be right. And yet, how are we to be certain that this Sister Lalai can be trusted with such potentially ruinous knowledge?
My apologies, Prioress! By your leave, I would tell my tale.
Black magic is an inherently dangerous art...this I cannot and will not deny. Never would I suggest that even a single mage pursue this path without full knowledge of the perils that lie ahead.
That is precisely why I have recorded in painstaking detail not only the arcane knowledge I have gleaned, but every last one of the myriad phenomena both wondrous and terrifying I have experienced in its pursuit.
Unbreakable bonds formed with beastmen we once thought our sworn enemy, bodies and souls consumed by the pursuit of forbidden knowledge, an unspeakable calamity revisited upon our world after millennia...! We must leave this knowledge to posterity, that our sons and daughters do not repeat the mistakes of our past!
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This is the crux of your argument, yes?
...Very well. Master Cocobuki, I hereby order you to establish a research organization under the auspices of your guild to further study the impact of black magic. I also grant you permission to store the aforementioned tomes in your archives─under the condition that Sister Lalai oversees them.
Prioress Dewlala, Master Cocobuki...I cannot thank you enough. Mark my words: you will not regret this decision. I will see to it that this knowledge is passed down as it should be─that the errors of our past will never be repeated.
To think the day would come that our art would be recognized once more!
Well, I do believe the proceedings went about as well as could be expected. I suppose this means that Lalai is now directly under my supervision.
Don't think you'll be getting free rein around here simply because I vouched for you, child. I expect regular reports on any and all of your findings─only through transparency will black magic ever be accepted by doubters and skeptics.
Understood. I shall begin to prepare my first report at once. But before that, there is another with whom I'd like to share these tidings. That is...by your leave, Guildmaster?
I believe you know well of whom I speak. He awaits us at the Sacrarium. Come along, Forename.
Of course I am! It is simply that, well... Clearly, I could not have...I did not accomplish this on my own, so...
Forename of the black. And yes, you as well, Zhai'a Nelhah. You have my...deepest gratitude.
Well, I daresay this has been a momentous day in more ways than one. Once again, Lalai, my congratulations. And...you are most welcome.
And with that, I should be on my way. When next we meet, I would introduce my colleagues from Stillglade Fane. Now that you are no longer a pariah, I suppose they would not be averse to exchanging knowledge with you.
...And just when I was beginning to take a liking to that dolt.
At any rate, though my official position may have changed, my mission remains the same: I will do all in my power to preserve our art for future generations. Pray continue to lend me your aid...Forename of the black.