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Learning to Question

The next several days were a frustrating experience for Elissa as she learned exactly how annoying it could be to have someone holding all the answers, and then only dole them out in limited supply. Instead of allowing her to ask one question, get the answer, then ask another question, Dark always counted until she had given him three questions before answering. The drawback to such a method was that it either required her to wait until the following day to continue a line of questioning or else waste questions by assuming which way he might answer.

Asking a series of questions like, “Do you know the gods? Which is the mightiest god? Do they watch over us?”, could lead to worthless answers if she wasn’t careful. “No. I don’t know them. How would I know, since I don’t know them?” By assuming Dark would know the gods, when he didn’t, all three questions were worthless and wasted for the day.

Another problem with the answers Dark gave was the simple fact that he only answered the question and never volunteered any extra information. “Can you teach me magic,” might be answered with a very simple, “No.” If Elissa wanted to know the reason why or why not, then she’d have to wait and ask the following day, or else gamble that she could guess at what direction his answer might take.

Elissa needed to get stronger if she was going to return home and someday protect her people, and she realized this was an incredible opportunity. How many people would be willing to give up everything, for a chance to learn the answer to any question they could ask a being older and more powerful than the very gods? It was more than what she could ever dream of, and yet, it was one of the most incredibly frustrating times of her life – which isn’t to say she didn’t learn things.

Elissa learned a lot of different things; it simply took her days, and sometimes weeks to make sense of the things she was learning. Being given the answers to your questions one at a time, once a day, didn’t seem the best way to learn things to her – but that’s because she failed to understand one underlying thing:

Dark wasn’t giving her answers to her problems; he was evolving her way of thinking itself.

By only being allowed to ask limited questions, Elissa was forced to think about what she truly wanted to know. She had to decide how far down the rabbit hole she wanted to chase an answer.

She had to think on the proper way to word a question, without wasting it. “Do you know what happens when a dragon dies,” was a worthless question – all it led to was a simple “yes” or “no” type response. “What happens when a dragon dies,” wasn’t much better as it resulted in a worthless, “It rots.” The best question was one worded precisely to give her the information she wanted – “Explain the decay cycle of a dragon’s corpse.”

Most importantly, she had time to think about the answers herself, before asking what she might want to know next.

Over time, Elissa’s mind sharpened and grew intensely focused. She learned to say precisely what she wanted, and she learned to think ahead to anticipate what answers might be given, and what fields of questioning those answers might lead her into next. Just as her body was slowly changing and adjusting to its new existence, so was her mind.

Of all the questions which Elissa asked, three gave her the most to think about. “Why are you called the Darkbringer” led her into a sad realization about the state of humanity – perhaps even existence itself. “Why do you stare at me at the time now” led her into a worrisome set of questions about her own fate, and “Can you teach me magic” taught her that the world was much more complicated than anyone would ever believe, and was full of fools who only thought they had all the answers.

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