A Thousand Nights (II)

A Thousand Nights (II)
A Thousand Nights (II)NameA Thousand Nights (II)
Type (Ingame)Quest Item
FamilyBook, A Thousand Nights
DescriptionA wandering researcher once walked through rainforest, desert, and city during a time of great catastrophe, collecting these stories along the way. It is said that the original work truly did contain countless tales and that naught but a fragment of that is still extant today.

Item Story

The Tale of the Dastur

Once upon a time, there was a Vahumana Dastur who traveled alone into the desert depths to investigate the ruins of ancient realms. Unfortunately, he encountered a sandstorm and lost his way. But just as he was about to breathe his last, a young woman with amber eyes appeared before him. She parted the howling sands with the staff in her hand, and led him out of the desert.

It was already noon by the time they reached the village. She treated him to lunch at her home and offered to escort him back to Caravan Ribat. But, having seen her part the sands as if by some spell, and how she had chased the dark beasts along their path away, the Dastur refused to leave, instead asking if she could teach him the secret arts of ancient lands.

The mage replied that her amber eyes could see all that the living and the dead had seen. People without shadows, a bronze clock whose pendulum swings by the power of imagination, whales that have never left land, a city that only exists by the reflected moonlight upon a silver mirror, a scholar imprisoned within eternity, a high tower hanging upon seven strings. She could see that he had infinite potential and a boundless future ahead of him, and she was indeed willing to teach him all she knew. She had but one worry — that after learning all, he would seek his own profit and come to deny her.

The Dastur knelt to the ground and kissed the tip of her shoes, promising that he would never forget what she had done for him no matter what, and that he would never deny her, even if they should then die together. His earnestness touched the young mage, and smiling gently, she helped him up. Holding his hand, she brought him to the door to her basement, saying that she would indeed take him as her disciple, and that all her secrets were hidden in her underground library.

And so they walked down the winding stairs, level after level, with a mirror hung on the wall of each level, reflecting their faces and the feeble light of lit sconces. They walked for who knows how long — perhaps several hours, perhaps several minutes — for the darkness had obscured their sense of time. At the end of the stairs was a narrow gate, and behind the gate was a hexagonal library. He could not see the ceiling, nor could he estimate the height of this room, but the books in here nonetheless far surpassed all he imagined was possible for knowledge.

He learned well under her tutelage, but after a few weeks, envoys from the Temple of Silence would come to the Dastur and tell him that his mentor had passed on due to illness and that owing to his thesis passing review, the Akademiya had decided to make an exception for him and promote him to Herbad, that he might take over from his mentor and continue to educate more students. The newly-appointed Herbad was greatly pleased, and yet he was unwilling to leave yet, and so he carefully asked the mage if she could bring some of her books and come with him to the Akademiya, and there continue to teach him. She agreed to his invitation, but said that she had a sister who had always longed to learn at the Akademiya but was ultimately not accepted due to her desert heritage. She thus asked if the Herbad could take her own as an auditing pupil. The Herbad replied that the Akademiya had a strict testing process and that he could not make exceptions, not even to take someone on as an auditing pupil. The mage for her part said nothing more, simply packing her bags and following him to Sumeru.

Several years later, the sage of Vahumana passed on. Thanks to the earth-shaking theses he had been able to write and complete with the aid of the mage, it was unsurprising that the Herbad was recommended to become the new sage. The mage went to congratulate him, and asked if he might take her sister on as an auditing student now that he had his position as a sage. The newly-appointed sage rejected her, saying that he had no duty to do this, for he no longer needed her guidance, being someone who no longer needed to write theses. He advised her to return to her village and live out the rest of her days in peace. The mage said nothing more, and packing her bags, she returned to the desert.

Several years later, the Grand Sage too passed, and the Vahumana sage was selected to take the post. Hearing this news, the mage came hurriedly from the desert. Finding him, she knelt at his feet and kissed the tip of his shoe, reminding him of the promise he had made her and begging him to take those of her tribe who had been displaced by the sandstorms in and allow them to have refuge beneath the rainforest bower. The Grand Sage was furious and threatened to hurl her into a jail of bronze and leave her to die of starvation and thirst, for he did not know this charlatan of the desert wastes, and who was she, anyway, to coerce the Akademiya? The mage, no longer young, lifted her head, wiping the tears from her cheeks, and looked upon the Grand Sage one last time with her turbid amber eyes. She begged that she might be allowed to return to her village and help her tribespeople. Refusing, the Grand Sage had his soldiers bind her. And so the mage said little more to him save only this:

"In that case, I must ask you, sir, to return to your own village."

The Grand Sage was startled, and when he had lifted his head, he found himself standing before Caravan Ribat. The night had grown long, and the distant village could no longer be seen clearly, shrouded as it now was in flying dust and sand and night's own cloak. The young woman stood before him, smiling, and her amber eyes reflected how he appeared at this moment: the Dastur of Vahumana, whose thesis had yet to pass review.

"Well then, the hour is late, and you should return to the Akademiya now. After all, just as the stories say..."

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