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Feb 23, 2019 12:33 AM
Arabek Raven visits Ellayania
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Ranata is on a tour of various godly domains, a vial of Merilakian's river water fastened securely around her neck under her clothes. 

She has been travelling down the coast for several months, spending a week or so in each domain - longer if she finds something particularly interesting, but that's rare. Now, she is moving on to a new location, one which promises to be very interesting indeed. As the ship docks, she leans forward eagerly for her first look at the domain of Ellayania. 

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It's a bustling port, fishing boats and merchants and dockworkers all with voices raised in a hubbub of regional and trade languages. A fine rain mists down over the city, and the view of the countryside is blocked by a thick bank of fog.

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Lucky for her, Ranata knows All The Languages, because she has the best god. She listens in on snatches of conversation as she waits impatiently for the ship to finish docking, and is one of the first down the gangplank. Growing up in a town built over and around a river cured her of any anxiety she might have had around bodies of water. 

More important is the fact that this is a new place, with a new god to find out about, and she has a gift to present to the temple. 

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That's usually a wise policy for travelers. Ellayania's temple is close to the center of the city, away from the docks. It stands out from the surrounding buildings by being all solid black stone arching up into a domed roof with skylights. Precisely angled breaks in the cloud cover drop shafts of sunlight directly on top of these.

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She heads in that direction, then, paying just enough attention to the crowd around her that she can avoid accidents. 

As she walks through the streets, she hears snatches of a few new languages, but the people here mostly speak ones she's heard before. 

The temple is fairly easy to find, so she probably won't have to ask for directions. 

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The interior walls of the temple are made of the same material as the outside, where they're not covered over by bookcases. Most of them are covered over by bookcases. There are several areas with comfortable looking chairs in the pools of light provided by the skylights, and people are sitting there reading books pulled off the shelves. A man in a priestly-looking robe re-shelving books left out looks up when Ranata enters, and gives her a friendly nod.

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"Hello," she says, returning his nod.

"I have a book to donate to the library, as an offering." She indicates the package tucked under her arm, a rectangular shape wrapped in waterproof material. 

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"The altar is further in back," he says, pointing.

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"Thank you."

She goes in the direction he pointed, trying not to get distracted by all the books on her way past. She can come back and look at them once she's made her offering, she promises herself. 

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There it sits by the wall, a simple slab of stone flanked by two lit braziers. Yet more bookshelves stand behind.

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"Greetings, Ellayania," she says to the empty air.

Standing before the altar - an acolyte does not kneel to a god not her own - she unwraps the package, revealing a brand-new volume bound in blue leather.

"This," she continues, "is a book of which I can guarantee that you do not possess a single copy." 

Do I have your attention yet, she wonders silently.

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"Is that so?" asks a conversational voice from just behind her shoulder.

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She doesn't turn to look; if the goddess wanted to be seen she would have appeared in Ranata's field of vision to start with.

"It is," she confirms. "In fact, this copy is one of only four in existence. I had it commissioned specifically for this purpose, since I hoped it would interest you." 

She holds up the book, turning it so the title on the spine, A History of Littenvale, would be visible to a person standing where the voice suggests.

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"Ooh. I can't wait."

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Ranata places the book on the altar.

"It's a history of my - well, not my hometown, but the place I have spent more than half of my life," she says quietly.

"And it's also a history of my god." Her fingers go to the delicate chain around her neck, playing with the links. "A statement of intent, of sorts." 

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The book sinks into the altar.

"Your offering is accepted, and appreciated, young acolyte. I will keep it with care."


What's the book have to say?

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The book is, as the title suggests, a history of the town of Littenvale, which grew up in a bend of the Litten river after this one god founded a university there seventy years ago. The author is an alumnus of said university, and wrote the book as his final project before graduating. Another student provided a few illustrations, including several maps of the town and its surroundings which show its growth over the decades. 

Dotted throughout the book are interviews with various figures, including current students, townsfolk, the Dean of the university...and Merilakian himself. His interview, placed in the early chapters, describes his reasons for setting up Littenvale University. He created it as a place, not just of learning, but of teaching; he desired to create an environment in which people could pass on their knowledge of the world to each other, and help each other to create or discover new things.

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"An interesting god you serve."

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Ranata smiles. "He is, isn't he," she says fondly.

"Can you see why I thought you might be interested?"

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"I think I can. Certainly, this University seems at least worth a visit."

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"I plan to be on a ship returning to Littenvale in a week's time," she offers. 

"I would be honoured if you, or one of your acolytes, were to join me. In the meantime, may I walk freely in your domain, and perhaps read a few of your books? This temple alone has one of the most impressive collections I have ever seen." 

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"They are on display so that they might be read. The freedom of my domain is yours, with my blessing should you wish it."

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"Thank you!" 

Ranata likes this place already. So many books, and she can read any of them! 

Also, that doesn't seem like the sort of thing Ellayania would say if she were concealing dark secrets that would make her unsuitable as a potential ally for Merilakian, so that's promising.

"I would be honoured to accept your blessing."

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"I offer the blessings of speed, stamina, vision, memory, waterwalking, and resistance to chill and damp."

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...Oooo. 

"I already carry a memory blessing, from Merilakian," she says thoughtfully. "Do you know how they would interact?"

Any potential improvements to her memory are not to be sneezed at, but if the answer turns out to be that they don't stack, vision is probably going to be her second choice. 

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"Not from direct experience, but by analogy with others I expect the total benefit will increase."

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