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This exhausted the short list I had gotten from the bartender of those who might help, but I approached another table, something drawing me. The man before me was *old.* His dry, yellow skin had the scars of one who had traveled everywhere and never rested long in any one place. His pinched face was inhumanly angular, and his ears swept out from his skull, tapering to points. He wore a loose-fitting orange tunic, and a strange, shimmering blade was strapped across his back. The blade looked to be a two-pronged glaive, made of some metal whose surface swirled like a film of oil on a pond.
The man turned to me, his eyes like polished coal. He stared through me, and for a moment, I wondered if he might be blind. The weapon suddenly turned a dead, flat black, mirroring the man's eyes.
"Are you all right?" I asked. He said nothing for a moment, merely searched my face with his eyes, then he replied.
"Hail... traveler." His voice was quiet and somber, like a wind whispering through the branches of a great tree. The man met my gaze, his eyes burrowing into mine. His weapon drained of its black color, resuming its shimmering I noticed before I spoke to him. "Your eyes have the weight of one who has traveled far to be in this place." The man's gaze did not waver from mine.
"I am *known* as Dak'kon." The emphasis he placed on the word *known* struck me as odd... yet familiar at the same time. "You... are not *known* to me."
"I do not know myself. " I replied honestly.
"That is for the best. In *knowing* yourself, there would be little in the Planes left worth *knowing.*" He fell silent for a moment, still studying me with his coal-black eyes. "I would *know* why you have come to this city."
"I'm looking for answers I have many questions. "
"Speak your questions. I will hear you."
"Your features are unfamiliar to me. What are you? "
"A githzerai." When he said no more, I repeated his statement, as a question.
"A githzerai is one of the People." Again I had to prompt him.
"One of the People?"
"A githzerai." Wondering if he wasn't as humorless as he appeared, I asked my question again.
"Yes, but what is a githzerai, exactly? " Dak'kon was silent for a moment, then spoke.
"Our history does not need to be made *known* to you. We would bleed to death on time's blade before I recited a fraction of the histories of our People."
"I don't need to know your histories but I would know of your people as they are now. "
"*Know* this and accept it as an answer: We are the People who make our home upon the shifting plane of Limbo." With a deft motion, Dak'kon slipped the blade from his back and held it before him.
"There, we mold the matter of Limbo with our minds. We forge cities with our thoughts." As I watched, a series of rippling waves of metal began to roll forth from the center of the blade. The pitch and crest of the waves matched the inflections in Dak'kon's voice. "In its chaos we dwell, with only our *knowing* to preserve us. We are the githzerai."
"What is that blade you have it moved, shifted in response to your voice. "
"It is a *karach* blade. It is an object that lets others *know* the rank of the wielder."
"What rank does the blade signify? "
"The blade is a symbol carried by the *zerth.* A *zerth* is one who *knows* the words of Zerthimon. In *knowing* the words of Zerthimon, they *know* themselves."
"Zerthimon?" I prompted again.
"Zerthimon founded our race. He *knew* the githzerai before they *knew* themselves. He defined the People. He gave them one mind."
"You seem to place a special emphasis on 'knowing.' What do you mean?"
"All things, whether structure or flesh - their existence is defined by their *knowing* of themselves."
"And if a man does not know himself? "
"When a mind does not *know* itself, it is flawed. When a mind is flawed, the man is flawed. When a man is flawed, that which he touches is flawed." Dak'kon paused. "It is said that what a flawed man sees, his hands make broken."
"Do you know yourself? "
Dak'kon fell silent. His coal black eyes took on the same distance that I noticed when I first spoke. I sensed this question was important, so I pressed him.
"I ask again: Do you know yourself?" When Dak'kon spoke again, his voice had changed; his words echoed, like a great stone dropped into a chasm. It looked like he was forcing the words from his chest.
"It is not my *will* that you *know* this." I was now sure his answer, or refusal to answer, would tell me much.
"Perhaps I was being too kind phrasing it as a question: Tell me." The answering words came out of Dak'kon slowly, as if they were being carried one by one.
"It... has come to pass that I do not *know* myself." Dak'kon's voice dropped to a whisper, like sand. "I do not *know* why. I *know* it has happened, but I *know* not the how, nor the when... nor how to *know* myself once more." I felt a sadness at these words, which I was careful to keep on the inside, away from Dak'kon, for it was obvious he would not appreciate it. I turned to a more neutral subject.
"Can you tell me about this city?"
"It is *known* by the name 'Sigil.' Among the People, it is *known* as the city that does not *know* itself."
"It doesn't know itself? What do you mean?"
"The city exists, but it does not *know* itself. In not *knowing* itself, its existence is flawed."
"The city exists in opposition to itself. It has set itself apart from the planes, yet it seeks to be everywhere at once. Its walls are doors, yet it keeps these doors locked. Such an existence tells of a thing that does not *know* itself. In not *knowing* itself, it is flawed." I considered his statement, and formulated a counter-argument, displaying a suppleness of mind which I felt sure I could not have managed a short time before.
"What if the city is *not* flawed? A thing does not need to be ordered and have a purpose to know itself. What if these contradictions are strengths that you cannot see?"
"To your question, a question: What if the city is flawed, and you see its contradictions all around you?"
"To *your* question, a question: You claim this city's existence is flawed. You have accepted this rather than explore the possibility that something greater may exist. That suggests you are flawed... and that you do not search for knowledge, but only for a convenient answer." Dak'kon fell silent.
"There is no *knowing* the answer to the questions we have asked. Yet the city exists. That is all." I was not ready to let the subject drop.
"Yet I would maintain that we *know* ourselves by the questions we ask and the ones we do not. If we cease asking questions and accept only what we can perceive..."
"Then we will cease to *know* ourselves." Dak'kon's voice had changed slightly, become heavier. "Such words have been spoken before. I have heard them and *know* them."
"Where have you heard them?"
"The words are mine. Once, I *knew* them and *knew* their meaning. I had forgotten them until you spoke." Dak'kon's gaze traveled through me, and his blade stopped shimmering, bleeding of all color until it was translucent. There was a moment of silence, then Dak'kon looked up at me. "I would travel your path with you."
I sat, stunned yet again this day. I looked at Dak'kon, and realized I could not refuse him. I felt a connection, somehow, to him.
As I agreed, he said "Your path is mine." Strangely enough, his voice seemed distant, and it echoed, as if he were speaking from across a great distance.
I decided I had had enough for one day, and headed back to a small inn I had passed earlier. Along the way, when Dak'kon had fallen a little behind, Morte hurried up alongside, and commented to me in a low-voice.
"Ah I don't trust the gith. I say we leave him behind. "
I was surprised at his words. What could Morte possibly know
about Dak'kon, anyway? I ignored him, and continued on.
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