Clarisse was silent during her medical examination. It was fascinating how the doctor investigated her body. She pushed down all the questions she had. She used a trick that had helped her many times before. She started to think very fundamentally. Philosophically. She was certain that this doctor, a nymph, would have more answers than the soldier that picked her up. But she held her tongue. Get organised first.
At the end of the examination she was lead to a different room. This one contained tables, benches and some cupboards. The room was lit and warm. There were no open doors, no windows, and no fires, but the room was lit and warm regardless. Clarisse heard a noise in the background, some sort of regular thumping punctured by higher-pitched beeps. Was that... music? There was a Gnome woman sitting at one of the tables. She had a notepad. It was not paper. It was a machine that she wrote on. It looked light. How many pages could it hold? More or less than a full book? What would be better than books?
Ah, Clarisse. Please, have a drink and join me.
The Gnome said and pointed at the table in front of her. There was a cup standing there.
It's just water. It won't kill you.
Clarisse sat down and slowly lifted the cup, taking a sip. It was the best water she ever tasted.
I am Zignab. Nice to meet you.
Are you comfortable?
I am sure you have burning questions for me. Do you want to ask them now?
Clarisse almost growled the word. The gnome smiled and nodded.
Do you know the meaning of life?
The smile faded slightly from Zignab's face and she seemed to concentrate, but did not hesitate in her answer.
Do you know how to live objectively good lives?
Why is there something, rather than nothing?
Do we have free will?
Depends on your definition. But even the gods can't fully know our next actions.
Do the gods exist?
Are they... gods?
Do the gods know about you and the other worlds?
None of the fifteen you know. But they will learn about them soon enough.
Are you more powerful than the gods?
But you know more?
Knowledge is hard to count. We know certain things they don't know, but any one of your gods would have more knowledge than I could learn in a lifetime.
Clarisse caught herself. This was a sidetrack.
How many... planets like Heimr are there?
Zignab clearly expected this question.
We refer to those kinds of planets as "Worlds". Not all of them have been found. We do know at least 20 million have been found in our galaxy. I don't know the exact number. We expect there to be at least 25 million in our galaxy. There could be more outside of our galaxy. But our ships can't travel there.
This stunned Clarisse. This number was higher than she could have imagined. This number was higher than the stars at night!
They all have multiple gods?
Yes. Or at least, most of them.
You are a gnome, right? I met some Ogres and a Nymph. Are all fifteen races on other worlds?
More than fifteen?
Yes. But they are rare.
Zignab paused for a moment.
Clarisse, I must compliment you on your questions. Many people that first learn about this aren't this... methodical.
Clarisse smiled. She suddenly felt really mentally tired, but proud. She resolved not to let her pride distract her and pushed on.
The gods told us they made the fifteen races. But they don't know about the other worlds. Why did they lie?
They didn't. The gods made the races on every world.
But they all... or eh... mostly made the same races?
This scared Clarisse.
Do you know how?
They are all the same gods. The same fifteen gods. On every world. Your world has Talor. My world also has Talor. They are the same god, they just don't know about each other yet. Or well... My Talor knows many other Talors. But hasn't met your Talor yet.
Where did the first gods come from?
According to the religions they made each other. The religions tell it the same with some variation on most worlds. The fact that the worlds look alike so much, we call that convergence .
Clarisse shook her head.
Is it true?
We don't know. I think so.
What is going to happen to my home?
The captain is going to auction off its location and information to the highest bidder. The only factions interested in this information will be one of the four factions near your planet. They will contact all the governments on your planet. They will stop all the wars on your planet. They will most likely slowly lift you up and give you technology and magic you could never dream of. But depending on who integrates you into their society, there will be different sorts of hardships too. Personally, I think it will be either Siege Corp or the Aurogan Defence Federation . The latter is where I am from.
Zignab suddenly looked sad but seemed to recover quickly.
Suddenly Clarisse saw the person in front of her as a person. She must have come from one of those millions of worlds. She must have had parents. Gnome parents in a house somewhere. Clarisse did not notice but tears were streaming down her face and her shaking hands had spilled most of the water from her cup.
When can I go home?
That's... not up to me I'm afraid.
The conversation was interrupted by an Ogre sticking his head into the room. "Oy Zignab, you're needed here!" he barked.
I'm sorry, it appears I will need to leave you alone for a bit. Oh, maybe this might help you.
Zignab put her notepad in front of Clarisse, then left the room.
Clarisse stared at the table in front of her, feeling lost and alone. Her whole worldview was tumbling and shaking. But she didn't want to stop now. She picked up the notepad. It was a rectangular device with symbols on it. After a few moments, the symbols shifted to something she could read. It was instructions on how to use the device. It really wasn't all that different from a book.
Clarrise clutched the delicate device like a sacred relic. For all she knew, it was, handed down from one of the Talors out there. There was all manner of information on the device. Apparently it could hold an entire library of books. It also had an index, something the Lorekeepers back on Heimr painstakingly had to maintain, which this device seemed to maintain itself. Scanning the list of things on the device, she noticed something that she wasn't entirely sure she was supposed to read. It was the log of how the ship got here. How they found her world. Did Zignab want her to find this? Or did she forget the book contained this log?
Clarisse started reading. She did not know whether it was day or night. Her body did not care either way She would not sleep that night.