Natasha: Master Knoll…
Knoll: I know you… You’re Natasha, from the temple.
Natasha: Yes. I remember seeing you many times back in Grado. But this is the first time we’ve ever actually spoken.
Knoll: I don’t know what it is, but clerics and mages seem to be like oil and water. And we mages can be an enigmatic bunch at times. Shadowy and sinister… Or at least, that’s how I’ve always imagined you clerics saw us.
Natasha: Oh, no! I never– Well, no. You’re right. We had few dealings with the mages. But that’s in the past. I have a question for you, Master Knoll.
Knoll: I think I can guess. It’s about the Sacred Stones and Prince Lyon, is it?
Natasha: It is. My mentor died…trying to warn us about the threat our Sacred Stone posed. I want to know the truth. What is Emperor Vigarde up to? What is Prince Lyon’s role in this?
Knoll: There are as many truths out there as there are people to tell them. Perhaps it’s best simply to choose the truth with which you are most comfortable.
Knoll: In the eyes of your mentor, I would imagine we must have seemed quite evil. He imagined our magical studies using the Sacred Stone were sacrilege. I suspect he quite loathed the ancient magics he called “dark.”
Natasha: You’re wrong… My mentor wasn’t like that at all! And isn’t this war the direct result of all your dark magic research?
Knoll: Hm… Well, I suppose you are right about that. Your magic stems from faith in the unknowable, the divine presence. In contrast, dark magic stems from knowledge, from understanding. We distrust what we do not understand, and we strive to know the unknowable. Perhaps our disciplines truly are incompatible.
Knoll: …Our researches ended in miserable failure. Grado’s Sacred Stone was shattered. Prince Lyon, corrupted… And this whole tragedy that unfolds around us even now. It’s true. We mages have triggered this age’s greatest calamity.
Natasha: But why? What was it all for? What did you hope to accomplish with the power of the Sacred Stone?
Knoll: All Prince Lyon wanted was to help people…and we are his servants.
Natasha: Help people?
Knoll: We read of a spell entitled the time shear. It causes, in effect, a hole in time. This spell warps time, punches a hole through cause and effect.
Knoll: We lack the knowledge to reproduce this ancient spell today. Prince Lyon, however, was convinced that we could unravel its secret. He felt we could use it to predict–
and even prevent–future events.
Natasha: …Prevent…the future?
Knoll: Oh, we dedicated years to studying this spell. You see, the greater the disaster, the farther it sends ripples through time. We learned to read these ripples from the future, hoping to save lives. If we could know when a disaster would strike, we could evacuate people. We could save millions of lives.
Natasha: But… It seems so, so blasphemous. That worldly creatures should take control of fate, it–
Knoll: Are you saying that, knowing the future, we should do nothing? We should simply allow people to die in order to preserve “fate”?
Knoll: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sound hostile. Prince Lyon himself was troubled by these same doubts, you see. But we pressed on with our studies. We felt it was our duty, in the interest of all Grado’s people.
Knoll: Perhaps we were bitter that we receive no credit for aiding Grado. That we receive no accolades for our research, for the benefit it brings. I do not know. But we pressed on, nonetheless. The misconceptions linking the ancient magics to “evil” die hard and slow. Prince Lyon sought to change that. He wanted, as we all wanted, to prove that our magic had good uses.
Natasha: Prince Lyon would never–
Knoll: With our aid, Prince Lyon predicted a great storm rising in the south. He barred ships from leaving port, and, oh, how the people complained. But the storm came, and the seas raged. We saved countless lives. And Prince Lyon cared not at all if the people loved him for it. He only wanted them to be safe.
Knoll: And now, I see it all so clearly. All our research amounts to nothing. All I can do now is lament our hunger for knowledge. Our greed.
Natasha: Master Knoll…
Knoll: …Still have questions, do you? I have told you all that I know.
Natasha: I’m not sure you did. You said that you could see…ripples of future disasters, is that it? And the greater the disaster, the more clearly you could read it? Does that mean you saw something? Some tremendous disaster to come?
Natasha: And in knowing about the disaster, Lyon thought he could prevent it. Could he have… Was he studying the Sacred Stone to find a way to prevent this disaster?
Knoll: And what will you do, now that you know this, too? Haven’t you called such knowledge blasphemous?
Natasha: I…don’t know what to do. If my mentor were here, I think he might be able to guide me. But I’m still so inexperienced. I feel lost in this dilemma.
Natasha: But how can I not act on this? If I do nothing, knowing that something terrible will happen… If I could have helped… I… I don’t know what to do.
Knoll: …Within five years, half of Grado will be destroyed.
Knoll: In the southern half of the continent, there will be a terrible quake. The ground will shake violently. The earth will crack open wide. Cities will fall. Fields will burn in the earth’s hot blood. Few will survive. This is what we have foreseen.
Natasha: How– How can this–
Knoll: I advise you to leave Grado. You might be able to escape the disaster if you head north to Renais or Frelia.
Natasha: No… I can’t do that. When this disaster strikes, people will need help and healing. If I could help them even a little by staying behind…
Knoll: You would willingly risk certain death to save a handful of people?
Natasha: If I died serving Grado, I would have no regrets, Master Knoll. Thank you for sharing this. I will make the most of this knowledge.
Knoll: … Spoken like a true cleric. You would drop everything without hesitation just to help others. This is the difference between mages and priests. Knowledge versus sacrifice. Perhaps you might allow me to join you when the time comes…
Natasha: Master Knoll?
Knoll: If I am to honor Prince Lyon’s intentions, I cannot flee this. I am not sure how best I can help, but I do not want anyone to die. Not if, by my action, I can save them.
Natasha: I understand how you feel, Master Knoll… Let our strengths be united, then, for the common good.