DorotheaSalo: "So, Godfrey, how'd the fight look from where you were standing?"

Vansander: "Rousing, my lady."

DorotheaSalo: "That doesn't tell me much."

Vansander: "As in the tales of the masters, you went blow for blow until the decisive moment."

DorotheaSalo: "Ha! Don't kid yourself. I made him think once or twice, but if he'd tried he could have flattened me right quick."

Vansander: "The lines of Hythar come to mind: 'The weaker branch bends / Only to sting returning.'"

DorotheaSalo: "Hythar was an ass, and you can tell him so from me."

DorotheaSalo: "Funny, though. It didn't hurt."

Vansander: "The human body is a remarkable thing."

DorotheaSalo: "Yeah. It is."

Vansander: "Where the mind rebels, the body accepts and adapts."

DorotheaSalo: "I don't like having a hole in my memory, though. How long was I out?"

Vansander: "A mere ten seconds, my lady. The priests attained the ring and restored you immediately."

DorotheaSalo: "Oh."

Vansander: "They inform me that your soul did not leave your body."

DorotheaSalo: "Oh."

DorotheaSalo: "I don't remember it doing anything like that."

DorotheaSalo: "'Course, before yesterday I'd probably have told you I didn't have one."

Vansander: "Everyone has a soul. And if I may say so, the experience of drifting free of one's body is almost pleasant, provided help is swift on its way."

DorotheaSalo: She looks at him. "You know this from experience, Godfrey?"

Vansander: "Much has been written on the topic, my lady."

DorotheaSalo: "That didn't answer my question."

Vansander: "I came to grief once at sea, during a great storm. Praised be Leviathan, my fall from the yardarm took me to the deck rather than the open sea."

DorotheaSalo: "Ouch."

DorotheaSalo: "So you were a sailor?"

Vansander: "I forswore the sailor's life shortly thereafter."

DorotheaSalo: She has never asked him about his history before. It never occurred to her that he had one.

Vansander: "As a youth, one tends to wander from one enthusiasm to another. One of those was the ocean, yes."

DorotheaSalo: "And the other ones?"

DorotheaSalo: "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. I'm just curious."

Vansander: "Nothing of note, my lady. Some artistic entanglements in Ilium; a brief career as a shop manager."

Vansander: "I came to realize that the most ennobling occupation is the service of nobility."

Vansander: "Never wealth, my lady; do not make that error of equation."

DorotheaSalo: She nods.

DorotheaSalo: "Or you'd be in Andragar, I guess."

Vansander: "You will forgive me if I suspect that the von Adler line has a certain great merit yet to be fully revealed."

Vansander: "And to be quite frank, Andragar has much of nobility as well; simply not, shall we say, of the right type."

DorotheaSalo: "Is that what you think Emil is chasing after?"

Vansander: "I cannot speak as to the young master's intentions."

Vansander: "I am certain that we will gain some insight when we encounter him."

DorotheaSalo: "That's confidence."

DorotheaSalo: "What is the 'right type,' Godfrey?"

Vansander: "My small survey of the world's history makes it apparent to me that true freedom comes from within, not from one's government."

Vansander: "For what is a government but a collection of masters?"

DorotheaSalo: "What does that have to do with nobility?"

Vansander: "Lest I sound like an anarchist, let me assure you that the greatest freedom is the freedom to serve."

Vansander: "And the greatest exercise of that freedom is to serve a worthy master, one whose goals coincide with one's own free choice."

DorotheaSalo: Renate thinks about that for a bit.

Vansander: "Thus, those who are truly noble are those who make good masters -- who support, with their 'commands,' their servants' own needs and desires."

DorotheaSalo: "Oh."

DorotheaSalo: "I guess I'm not doing real well on that score so far, huh?"

Vansander: "You would do well to study the politics and government of Andragar. You will learn much about government, and how to extract the full potential of a people."

Vansander: "You will also learn much about true freedom, if only by indirection."

DorotheaSalo: "Because they don't have it? Is that what you mean?"

Vansander: "I believe that they do not. And yet from the heart of that nation comes some of the greatest and most subversive art in the world."

Vansander: "This is a paradox I have not fully resolved."

DorotheaSalo: "Man. Godfrey, I am a big dope sometimes. I didn't realize you thought about things like this."

Vansander: "If the art were hidden and repressed, I would think it simply the result of repression; but the government itself encourages art critical of the government."

Vansander: "Andragar is a puzzle, one that perhaps you can assist me in solving some day."

Vansander: "Well, my lady, I do keep my own counsel for the most part."

DorotheaSalo: "Well, Aaron encourages me to beat the heck out of him, even though sometimes I hurt him."

DorotheaSalo: "More often the other way 'round, of course."

Vansander: "Such is the root of my confusion. If Dark Eternal is of the same mettle as Aaron Wrenfall, then all the world would do well to become part of Andragar."

Vansander: "But I cannot believe that this is the case."

DorotheaSalo: "I, um, don't know enough to say."

DorotheaSalo: "I don't know, though. In a way, I'm freer than anyone I know."

DorotheaSalo: "But here I am in the Patchworks, noplace I want to be, carrying a sword I don't want to carry, looking for three pieces of junk I don't care about -- I don't feel free at all!"

Vansander: "Freedom is difficult," Godfrey says, gazing at the horizon, where distant dragons circle lazily.

Vansander: A common sight in Northrock.

DorotheaSalo: "No. Really?"

DorotheaSalo: "And what's more, I don't see why you're chasing all over the Patchworks with me, either."

DorotheaSalo: "Obviously you think Papa's noble -- and I agree with you; he is -- but, well, I'm not real stuck on myself right now."

DorotheaSalo: "So all I can figure is that I'm Papa's daughter."

Vansander: "June Ylantic served Seven Spear Kane for seventeen years of dissolution and misrule; and in the eighteenth year, the monarch achieved enlightenment, and brought his people into a golden age."

DorotheaSalo: "Seventeen years, huh."

DorotheaSalo: "Long time to wait."

DorotheaSalo: "And no guarantees."

Vansander: "There's no guarantee that a pebble will fall if one drops it; yet, through the will of God, the pebble will always fall."

DorotheaSalo: "Because that's what pebbles do. Aren't people a little more complicated than that?"

Vansander: "Yes; and so the crux of the matter is determining 'what people do.'"

DorotheaSalo: "I mean, look. I had a problem, and I tried to make Coris solve it for me, and when you tried to show me how to solve it for myself I just balked."

DorotheaSalo: "That's about as noble as pond scum."

Vansander: "Ah. Then you were planning to leave the town and return home?"

DorotheaSalo: "Well, no."

DorotheaSalo: "I had to get to Hyuri somehow."

Vansander: "Then I need say no more."

DorotheaSalo: "Right. I just said it. I tried to back out of a fight that was no one's but mine."

DorotheaSalo: "Because I was scared."

Vansander: "Fear is of neutral morality. You persevered; that is the fact at issue."

DorotheaSalo: "Well, that's kind of a funny thing."

DorotheaSalo: "I didn't. Not really."

DorotheaSalo: "Somebody named Emilia Eaglebourne marched in and did it all for me."

DorotheaSalo: "I swear, Godfrey, that's what it felt like."

Vansander: "True freedom is the freedom to be who you will."

DorotheaSalo: "I liked being Emilia. I mean, aside from Hyuri smashing my collarbone to fragments."

DorotheaSalo: "People took her seriously."

DorotheaSalo: "I mean, when they weren't making up stupid songs about her."

DorotheaSalo: "And she talks like something out of a book, I don't know how."

Vansander: "I have found that most people are too complex for a single face to express."

Vansander: "Consider my brief sailing career, for example. Is there room for a roustabout sailor in Godfrey Cuyler?"

Vansander: "I submit that there is not."

DorotheaSalo: "I guess you showed a face or two I hadn't seen before in Larkspur, at that."

DorotheaSalo: "Cardsharp."

DorotheaSalo: "Purveyor of dirty jokes."

DorotheaSalo: "And they'd better not have been about me."

Vansander: "Rest assured."

DorotheaSalo: "Not that I didn't walk into it, talking about how I learned to fight blind."

DorotheaSalo: "I was so focused on the fighting, I didn't even realize what I said until that idiot baronet started laughing."

Vansander: "Only the coarsest mind could have coaxed the slightest impropriety from your words, my lady."

DorotheaSalo: "Hm. I guess you don't consider the Baronet a paragon of nobility, eh, Godfrey?"

Vansander: "A paragon of privilege, most certainly."

DorotheaSalo: "Privilege?"

DorotheaSalo: "How is that different from wealth?"

Vansander: "Privilege is the exercise of power without responsibility."

Vansander: "It can arise from noble birth, wealth, or both."

DorotheaSalo: Renate stores that away.

DorotheaSalo: "All right, I think I'm starting to get where you're coming from."

DorotheaSalo: "Been pretty privileged until now, haven't I?"

Vansander: "Until now, you have had no responsiblities to meet."

Vansander: "And, having responsibilities, you are meeting them."

DorotheaSalo: "Don't say that too fast. We haven't gotten any of the four treasures back yet."

Vansander: "The town of Vundamar, where Miss Durai was last seen, is at the end of the day's trail. With luck, we will encounter her there."

DorotheaSalo: "Yeah, well, she seems to move pretty fast. But quit changing the subject on me. It's annoying."

Vansander: "I beg forgiveness."

DorotheaSalo: "Let's say, for the sake of argument, that a little of what I did in Larkspur showed some real nobility."

DorotheaSalo: "Forget it."

DorotheaSalo: "I don't see how I could have done what I did if I hadn't grown up what you call 'privileged' first."

DorotheaSalo: "So can there be nobility without privilege?"

Vansander: "In the Second Age, the peasant farmer Alain de la Bruyere rose from near-slavery to unify all the dark elf nations."

DorotheaSalo: "All right, point."

DorotheaSalo: "But don't the privileged have kind of a head start?"

Vansander: "Their advantage is a life of leisure and resources. This can allow education and training..."

DorotheaSalo: "Well, yeah, that's what I'm saying."

Vansander: "...but can also lead much more easily to a sense of entitlement, and a life of debauchery."

DorotheaSalo: Renate looks troubled.

DorotheaSalo: "I, um, bet you knew about that night Emil got in right before sunup, huh?"

DorotheaSalo: "It's my doing Papa didn't find out."

Vansander: "I reserve judgment as to the result of Emil's lifestyle. He has learned things in his entertainments."

DorotheaSalo: "Oh."

DorotheaSalo: "I didn't know that."

DorotheaSalo: "Don't tell me; it's none of my business."

Vansander: "I simply mean that in conversing with the people of Karlbotel, he may have come to understand their lives better."

DorotheaSalo: "Oh."

DorotheaSalo: "I guess he didn't think much of it."

DorotheaSalo: Renate thinks about what she knows of how her father's people live.

DorotheaSalo: It isn't much.

DorotheaSalo: "Is that why he left?"

Vansander: "I cannot guess."

DorotheaSalo: "Well, if you were expecting it, you must have some kind of guess!"

DorotheaSalo: "I still can't believe everybody knew it was coming but me!"

DorotheaSalo: "And, um, Papa, I guess."

Vansander: "You would do best to speak to Emil yourself, my lady. I can only surmise that he wished to avoid both the privilege and the responsibility of rulership."

DorotheaSalo: "But -- he -- I don't know."

DorotheaSalo: "It seems to me that some people don't have the luxury to find their freedom from within, Godfrey."

DorotheaSalo: "Or I wouldn't be in the middle of the damn Patchworks chasing after a stupid harp."

Vansander: "Indeed... another reason to study Andragar."

DorotheaSalo: "Huh? I don't follow."

Vansander: "Their education system determines the most appropriate profession for each citizen."

Vansander: "Each person is well suited to his work; but his decision has not come from within."

DorotheaSalo: "Huh? How do they know?"

Vansander: "A battery of tests, I believe, as well as reports from teachers."

DorotheaSalo: "And what if they do it for a while and don't like it any more?"

Vansander: "I believe that they are permitted to try a career of their own choice, on probation; if they succeed at it, they remain."

DorotheaSalo: "Oh."

DorotheaSalo: "Weird."

Vansander: "I know little more than these basics, however."

DorotheaSalo: "But, look, it's still not quite the same thing."

DorotheaSalo: "They do it because they're told to. They don't care about who's doing the telling, or what comes of what they do."

DorotheaSalo: "But -- uh-oh, it's starting to rain -- but I'm here because I love Papa and I love Emil. It's different."

Vansander: "I would advise you to visit Andragar and speak with the people there. Many of them are deeply devoted to Dark Eternal."

DorotheaSalo: "Well, all right then."

DorotheaSalo: "Maybe it's not different."

Vansander: "I am informed that the dragon rulers walk among their people and discuss the problems of the day."

Vansander: "The same occurs in Ilium, of course."

Vansander: "Even Noble Amethyst in Xanadu tours a different neighborhood each week."

DorotheaSalo: "So Hyuri's kind of weird, for a dragon."

DorotheaSalo: "Not that Hyuri wasn't just plain weird."

Vansander: "All dragons are 'weird.' Very little unifies the race."

DorotheaSalo: "I suppose you've made a study?"

DorotheaSalo: "When do you have time to read?"

Vansander: "I sleep only a few hours each day, so I spend most evenings in study."

DorotheaSalo: "Really? Is that just the way you are, or did you train yourself?"

DorotheaSalo: "Come to think of it, I guess you'd have to not sleep much. Or Emilia wouldn't have had much of a reputation."

Vansander: "The question of essence versus experience is as old as philosophy, my lady."

DorotheaSalo: "I'm not asking for a generality, Godfrey. I'm asking about your case specifically."

DorotheaSalo: "But I guess I don't need to know."

DorotheaSalo: "Just curious, again."

DorotheaSalo: "I can't believe you've been like this the whole time and I didn't know!"

DorotheaSalo: "You're really a neat guy, Godfrey."

Vansander: "I had the good fortune to receive an introduction to the order of Tharazos while living in Ilium. Although I did not join the order, I was convinced by them of the intrinsic value of knowledge."

DorotheaSalo: "Wow. Why didn't you join? If you don't mind telling me."

Vansander: "A life dedicated entirely to study did not appeal to me. One must use knowledge as well as obtain it."

DorotheaSalo: She nods. "I can see that. Like only fighting with practice dummies."

Vansander: "Quite so."

DorotheaSalo: "So what are you doing running around the Patchworks with me?"

DorotheaSalo: "What do you get out of it, I mean."

Vansander: "Get? I spoke of no reward."

Vansander: "It is a duty that I meet gladly."

DorotheaSalo: "No it's not. You didn't have to come."

DorotheaSalo: "And I don't think you do very much at all out of just duty."

DorotheaSalo: "So what are you doing riding through a rainstorm?"

Vansander: "I am wishing I had thought to purchase a few umbrellas during my last trip to the city."

Vansander: He has already produced oilskins, at least.

DorotheaSalo: "You're changing the subject again."

DorotheaSalo: "If you're not going to tell me, just tell me you're not going to tell me."

Vansander: "I have told you as much as I know, my lady. You must choose how much to believe."

Vansander: "I recommend you believe it all."

DorotheaSalo: "I know you're not lying to me."

DorotheaSalo: "Not that I'm real good at telling when people are lying."

DorotheaSalo: "But it still doesn't make any sense. And I like it when things make sense."

DorotheaSalo: "But I guess things in general just quit making sense as soon as Emil rode away."

DorotheaSalo: "I tell you what, though."

DorotheaSalo: "I think you've just got a mad, burning passion for Emilia Eaglebourne."

Vansander: "'Where rulers and Powers despair, God plans.'"

DorotheaSalo: "You can't know that."

DorotheaSalo: "Maybe nothing makes any sense."

Vansander: "It is an expression of hope."

Vansander: "Allow me to quote Noble Diamond, when he transcribed poetry of the Time of Wandering."

Vansander: "The year's at her spring; And the day's at the morn; Morning's at seven; The hillside's dew-pearled..."

Vansander: This is actually quite a familiar verse.

Vansander: "The lark's on the wing; The snail's on the thorn; God's in his heaven; All's right with the world."

Vansander: "Even amid wars and bloodshed, Noble Diamond dropped thousands of copies of that poem by air on friend and foe alike."

Vansander: "Hope springs eternal, as they say."

DorotheaSalo: "Then why are you so down on Andragar?"

DorotheaSalo: "And what are you doing riding through the pouring rain when you could be home in Karlbotel thinking everything's just peachy?"

Vansander: "Because hope by itself is only a concept. It must inspire action, not prevent it."

DorotheaSalo: "Says who?"

Vansander: "When the Great Lord forged all the evils of the world from the iron thighbone of the True King, Raphael's single tear of sadness became Hope."

Vansander: "It is our only weapon; and like all weapons, it must be wielded by one of strength and, dare I say, nobility."

DorotheaSalo: Renate is silent (thank heaven!) for a long minute.

DorotheaSalo: "I'm not sure what to hope for, Godfrey," she says finally, rather miserably.

Vansander: "You will travel, as we all do, from hope to hope on the wings of necessity."

DorotheaSalo: "Doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun."

Vansander: "It is not."

DorotheaSalo: "Yeah. I guess. I think Emilia's better at it than I am."

DorotheaSalo: "Right now if you held up one of those little bottles like Coris had, and told me if I drank it I'd die and be taken back to Karlbotel and forget not just a day, but *everything* for the last month or so -- I'd drink it in a hot minute."

DorotheaSalo: "Not exactly noble."

Vansander: "Unfortunately, you'd recover from your trance wondering where Emil had gone."

DorotheaSalo: "Well, a year, then. For one of Mama's quilts and one of Beanie's backrubs -- man! Just as well it's raining, or you'd have to watch me crying."

DorotheaSalo: "Does Emilia cry?"

Vansander: "I would not be surprised if she did; although under more operatic circumstances."

DorotheaSalo: She chuckles. "Yeah, probably."

Vansander: "The destruction of a city, perhaps, right before cutting a dragon in half with a newly-invented technique born of desperation."

DorotheaSalo: "Wow. Yeah, that would do it. I hope I don't ever find out."

DorotheaSalo: "Not likely. As if I'd ever be able to cut a dragon in half."

DorotheaSalo: "I couldn't even draw blood on Hyuri."

Vansander: "You'd need a larger sword, at any rate."

DorotheaSalo: "I would think! One too heavy to even lift."

Vansander: "Or perhaps you could lure him into a sawmill."

DorotheaSalo: "Kinda noisy."

Vansander: "A spell of silence, perhaps."

DorotheaSalo: "Somebody other than me. I don't do magic."

DorotheaSalo: "He'd have to be a really stupid dragon."

Vansander: "Dragons can be defeated most easily by cooperation, one would think."

DorotheaSalo: "Oh, here we go. Emilia Eaglebourne and her man Godfrey Cuyler, out to take down a dragon!"

DorotheaSalo: "Sorry, don't quite see it."

Vansander: "I went hunting once. I believe I remember how to hurl a bola."

DorotheaSalo: "Once." Renate shakes her head.

Vansander: "I doubt my aim would be sufficiently true."

DorotheaSalo: "I would guess not. Sorry, Godfrey."

DorotheaSalo: "Your talents lie elsewhere than dragon-slaying."

DorotheaSalo: "Believe me, I wouldn't trade 'em for anything."

Vansander: "Very good, my lady."