Pensieve Marla 2

FOUND IN MINISTRY OF IMAGE XANDRAR HUB

You descend in a column of smoke, landing in a lobby area leading to a set of offices. It’s unfurnished and only mostly finished, but by the presence of the elegant purple-haired gnomish woman – Marla d’Sivis — bustling about, this is likely the secured offices beneath the Xandrar hub for the Ministry of Image. The gnome bustles around a complicated apparatus carving symbols and grooves on a familiar brass stand.

There’s no time to look around further as the elevator dings, and a human woman with a waterfall of pink hair steps through to accompanying squeals of delight from the tiny plunette. What follows is a typically exuberant example of two women greeting each other after a long absence, albeit complicated by one being a third of the size of the other.

After the delighted niceties, Sylvia d’Vadalis claps her hands together – her Dragonmark of Handling prominent on the back of her right – and indicates the elevator. “Your secretary golem is so cute! I love the little mask. Is she a one-off?” she asks, her breathy voice carrying not at all well.

“Yes, darling,” Marla’s rich, posh accent replies. “It was indeed a one-off from Golem Guild. Special security features! I want to make sure this place is safe.”

“Is that what all this is for?” Sylvia indicates the brass armature at the center. Before Marla can answer, Sylvia gasps and points at a small Khyber crystal sitting on its side in a small pentagram to one side. “What -? Marla, what did you Call?”

“Oh, dear, it’s nothing big,” the minister demurs. “Just a little creature from Mabar. Just a baby, about the size of dog.” She bustles over to a desk full of complicated-looking equipment, picking up one and running it over the summoning circle. “I’ll be dismissing it in a decade or so, long before it has a chance to grow to a dangerous size and strain the crystal.”

Sylvia frowns, staring at the ceiling as she recalls something, then recites as if a catechism, “Never summon something larger than you.”

Marla gives her best high-society chortle. “Darling, that rule is for apprentices, not experts like moi. Besides, it’s not about the creature itself, it’s just the tie to Mabar. Did you know that a proper manifest zone blocks almost all forms of scrying?”

Sylvia shakes her head silently, dumbfounded.

“It doesn’t block the most basic forms, like crystal balls, but I have other wards for that. The rarer types, like spirit bodies or Feywild mirror pools, don’t have such defenses – until now,” she giggles, indicating the brass armature intended to create the manifest zone.

Sylvia nods slowly, apprehensive but trusting of her friend and fellow minister.

After a pause, Marla inquires, “So, are you going to tell me what you’re really here for?” At Sylvia’s cautious look, the gnomish plunette explains, “I’ve known you for decades, darling. I know when you have something weighing on your mind. Have some coffee,” she indicates the machine in the corner, “and tell me in your own time.”

Sylvia nods, now more openly looking troubled, and Marla continues to putter around with the armature. After another five minutes of silence, with Marla carving more elegant grooves in the device. Given her upscale surroundings and haute couture, one can’t even be sure they’re more than decorative.

“The—- the dragons, they—-“ Sylvia stammers in little more than a squeak, her eyes fastened on the Lhazaarite carpet. “They have megaspells.”

The sound of Marla’s chisel plunking to the floor is the only other sound for a moment. She swallows nervously and musters a, “…how?”

“I gave it to them.”

The silence stretches for significantly longer this time.

In a voice almost as quiet as the pinkette, “But why?”

“Marla… we can’t use them. We CAN’T. It would break everything, and there would be so much death—”

“Well that HARDLY helps when we BOTH have megaspells, Sylvia! How could you DO such a thing?”

“Marla you have to listen! Mutually assured destruction, it’s the only way. If we both have it, don’t you see? Neither one can dare to fire first. It’ll be the end of everyone.”

“That’s NOT your CALL.”

“Isn’t it?” Sylvia straightens, a glint in her eye. “I founded the Ministry of Peace. I sponsored the research on megaspells. I’m the Material of Compassion. Isn’t it?”

The purple-haired former seamstress rocks back on her heels, askance at the uncharacteristic spinal fortitude displayed by her old friend. She blinks rapidly. “Did—- did you at least discuss it? With –anyone-?”

“A—a few. Ranni thought it was a good idea.”

“She’s always been entirely too brash.”

“Hetty d’Kundarak was cautiously optimistic. She’s going to found a company to build protective bunkers to save people if it ever does happen.”

“Well, bully for her.”

“Blades.”

“…and?”

“…he hated it. Called me crazy.” Sylvia hugs herself, scowling sullenly off to the side. “So much for his promise about not being so critical.”

Marla bites her lip, gazing up at the shy wallflower turned traitor. “Queen Aurala will have your head for her evening meal for this.”

“I know. It doesn’t matter.”

“We’ll have to bury it. Cover up the trail. If there’s anybody who can cover paper trails, it’s the founder of the Ministry of Image,” she pats herself on the breast confidently.

Sylvia straightens, her soft blue eyes widening. “You’re going to help me?”

“Pish-tosh, darling, what are friends for if not to cover up a little high treason from time to time?” she bites her lip. “Besides… what’s done is done.”

The memory fades away.

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Pensieve Marla 2

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