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Il-Mnemos Will Save (DC 18): 1D20+6-3 = [9]+6-3 = 12

That's another flub, so I'm going to invoke the Mercy Rule and say that it's defeated.

She final blow struck true, and she felt it dissolve inside of her mind, streaming away into (freshly cut wood,) (contemplation of the void,) and (purple.)

It was gone, and she was triumphant. The kalashtar, and Venn, withdrew from her mind.

"Well, now. That worked out splendidly, I'd say. No, no - she's well." Venn waved to the librarian. "She'll be fine. Relax - "

Carn and West wouldn't take their eyes off Venn. Carn said, in a low voice, "Outside. Both of you. Now."

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The release of the struggle inside sent her stumbling and she leaned against Venn when he caught her and waved off the librarian. Carn's voice seemed far away, but Venn lead her along with the kalashtar until they were away from the library and the smell of dust and knowledge. "Th-thank you. I cou-couldn't have defeated it alone." 

She looked up at Venn, his arm still around her for support, then glanced over at Carn and West. She didn't want to see another fight break out; she was exhausted and whatever Venn was, he'd come to her defense. She closed her eyes breifly, then spoke. "I hope I haven't..." She didn't know how to finish it. Cost you everything? 

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Carn stared down Venn, inches from his face. "I just realized, Venn. I recall you being at all rituals where we would link minds, but I never saw you linking with anyone."

"Didn't I? I must have forgotten."

"But we were linked just now. I caught a glimpse of you. You don't have an oversoul. You're not kalashtar. What are you?"

Venn pursed his lips for a long moment. Then he spoke.

"Carn, West: thank you for your hospitality, which I'm going to treat as being at its end, since that's not a question I can answer right now. Adaa: thank you for saving that man's mind. You and I will talk again - soon."

Then, unhurriedly, Venn turned around and started walking away, towards the crowded streets of Fairhaven.

Carn and West exchanged glances, then looked to Adaa, uncertain of what to do.

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The Inspired gave the kalashtar a blank, slightly hazed look, then shrugged. "I don't have answer," she said quietly. She looked up and down the street, at a loss for what to do herself now. She'd just been running for so long and then the crisis here had distracted her from her own predicament. She had a bit of money left, but not much; she was finally catching her breath enough to wonder what she was going to do with the rest of her life. "I need to rest, though. Do you have any suggestions on a place to go?"

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As Venn disappeared into the crowd, West took half a step to pursue, but Carn shook his head. "Whoever that was, I sense that pursuit is poking a nest of hornets best left tranquil."

"Understood." West returned to the small group.

"Adaa, you have just beaten one of our most feared beasts of legend and saved a man's life at great cost to your own. You may stay with us as long as you wish." Carn bowed his head in respect. "We ask that you respect our ways, even if you don't honor them - but if you do that, you will have haven with us, and any who take issue will find you vouched for by me."

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She nodded, tears welling up in her eyes as a storm of emotions ran through her. "Thank you," she said, her voice wobbling. She reached towards him, instinctively seeking the comfort of contact, but held back. She didn't know these men, not really, and what little she knew of the Kalashtar - well, mostly now she knew it was likely all lies. "Thank you for your hospitality. I will do my best not to be a burden. And...maybe, if you would, to teach me what the kalashtar are actually like. I know I have much to unlearn, and I would start there."

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As the trio of them walked back to the enclave, West - usually quieter and shy - answered her questions.

"To be a kalashtar is to endure, and to preserve.

"We embody - and guard - the spirit lines of the refugees of Dal Quor, who felt no kinship with the other quori, and so the first truth of the kalashtar people is that every soul - even those who seem the most monstrous - has the capacity for good. We meditate along the Path of Light, turning the wheel of the age, so that one day Dal Quor will be remade, and the monsters that rule it will be remade as well - into something more noble, we hope."

Carn nodded. "However, prayer for something ageless centuries out does little for problems here and now. Usually, in our enclaves, we have little to fear. We have little to steal and so we pass unnoticed, concentrating on our meditations and the preservation of our oversouls. But perhaps..." Carn frowned. "Perhaps in so doing, concerns in the here and now go unanswered."

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"Then perhaps that is how I may be of use." Adaa considered it, liking the prospect of again having purpose in her life. "While what you are trying to do sounds quite beneficial, I do not know if I would be a danger to it, given the way I am. The thing inside me, it does not want to be more noble or good. It is cruel and enjoyed being so when it had the choice."

She thought for a moment, then shook her head, "Meditation and prayer, that is not my way. Would there be someone specific to speak to, to find out what needs doing?"

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"The war broke many, Adaa." Carn frowned, lost in thought. "It traumatized its veterans; it traumatized those left orphaned and widowed. Khorvaire science of the mind is very primitive compared to ours, and such fields are fertile grounds for things like the il-mnemos to hunt. And even our abilities pale next to yours. You could be of great help to them."

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"How do I find them?" Her frustration at her ignorance and the lack of good coordination of the people in Khorvaire gave her tone impatience. "Other than just wandering around, I mean. Is there no one that has put structures in place to help them already?"

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"For veterans, the Aundair Ministry of Veteran Affairs has several chapters here in Fairhaven." Carn looked a little distant. "Just... be warned. They aren't for the faint of heart. I also know the Sovereign Host and, of late, the Silver Flame are keen on charitable drives towards those who lost much in the war. If you seek structures that will point you towards those most in need, those would be where I would start."

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"I am not faint of heart," she answered without self-aggrandizing pride. "And I know that I don't really understand the faiths of this land, so perhaps the Ministry is the best place to start. I think, though," she gave Carn a wan smile, "tomorrow. I have a bit of a headache today."

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"Tomorrow, then. May your dreams be well."

Of course, the kalashtar either didn't know, or had forgotten, that Adaa didn't sleep, much less dream. So while they slipped off into blank torpor, she found herself sleepless, and lost in thought.

She thought about Venn, unsure of whatever he was, and whether his final words were reassurance or menace. She thought about the monster they'd fought, and the ground that had been seeded for it to feed on, and how, even at night, you could see the scars of war among the populace outside her window. And she thought of home, and her family, and how she had been prepared as a vessel for that thing to climb inside and drive around, and wondered, not for the first time: could it happen here?

She wondered how you beat back a foe like that, and she thought about the kalashtar below, praying along the Path of Light to turn the wheel of the age. That was one way.

Out there lay souls who were wounded and vulnerable, who needed a healer and who needed protection. It was another. It wasn't her homeland's way and it wasn't the kalashtar's way - but maybe it could be hers.

TO BE CONTINUED...

... IN JUSTICE LEAGUE OF EBERRON #1!

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