Hold on, there’s some skeletons behind you. I’m going to take care of them first.
2. I certainly hope not. They are works of art.
I’m willing to learn, but I’m not exactly sure what it is you’re teaching.
3. It matters not. I am not taking disciples. My time must be devoted to perfecting my art. This is my latest creation.
I come to do no such thing. I merely wish to talk.
4. It’s not I who you should be conversing with. Look upon this piece, and it will speak to you.
What exactly is going on here?
5. What you see before you is art in its purest form. Unbound by the conventions of society, free to show the naked truth.
As as a mutual artist, I feel destroying them would reflect life’s impermanence.
6. That is true, and while life may fade into void, it will soon rise again.
What happens if I kill them?
7. They will rise again, for that is how the wheel of life turns.
8. The Gods make us and break us at a child’s whim, a cycle of mortals dancing and dying for their amusement.
I think it’s fantastic. Dead people, skeletons, what’s not to like?
9. I am pleased that you are interested in the piece. But you must delve deeper than the surface to fully appreciate it.
You mentioned a dance of bones. Can they really dance? That would be a neat trick.
10. Yes, but as we mortals are given choice, so too are they.
11. They will not dance at your beck and call, nor will they fight you if you draw your weapon.
This art is death and rebirth. A prison of life. Such is our fate in the hands of the Gods.
12. Well said traveler. I did not expect to meet an artist of your…caliber here in the wilderness.
Are you a necromancer?
13. I will forgive your crude mistake. After all, many fail to see the beauty in that which is soiled.
14. I do not practice the art of necromancy. I practice necromantic art. The distinction is rather important.
What is necromantic art?
15. I use the tools of conjuration to make art pieces that reflect the human condition.
16. The struggles of man, his joy, his sadness, his frailty. His clothes are stripped, his bones bared for all to see.
17. Yet even an artist cannot fully understand a work through a single set of eyes. Tell me traveler, how does this piece make you feel?
Angry. These skeletons of yours. They were once people with lives, families.
18. Yes, that is precisely why it’s so provocative.
19. To you I am desecrating these bodies, using people as props.
20. But ask yourself this. If a man loses a tooth, or a limb, is he still not a man? Where does the body end and the man begin?
That’s easy. The soul is what makes us who we are.
21. Is it? Can a soul exist on its own? Does it not require a body to survive on this plane?
22. The black soul gem fragments on this altar once contained a human soul.
23. If that is the true essence of man, should that not be more offensive than the skeletons?
Dead or alive, it’s the mind that makes the person.
24. You think, therefore you are. Simple, yet profound. It is unwise, however, to dismiss the effect of the body completely.
25. Are our destinies not changed by the shape of our bodies? Is a cripple not born to spite? Are wars not fought over the lust of a maiden?
26. Think on that traveler, then gaze upon this piece again.
Only Arkay knows such things.
27. You leave your faith in the Divines. While others quest for knowledge, you hope they will not judge you for your ignorance.
28. Is it a virtue to be ignorant of oneself? How is such a man any different than an empty husk?
Cautious. But when I see a skeleton, I see a potential threat.
29. Like most, you fail to consider whether the undead are people. Your instincts tell you they are an imminent threat to be disposed.
30. My skeletons, however, are docile. Innocents. Brothers in arms. Childhood friends. Husband and wife.
31. They were once these things, but what are they now? What determines whether one is living or dead?
I feel this whole thing is pointless. It’s just nonsense as far as I’m concerned.
32. You must be careful not to get too emotional. It’s only when your heart and mind are in balance that art speaks to you truly.
33. If you are too emotional, the art becomes perverse.
34. If your approach is too intellectual, you lose the very visceral component that inspires true wisdom.
Yeah, pots and pans are actually useful.
36. As are these bones, as they have much to teach us of the nature of life. These skeletons were once people. They laughed, they cried, and they loved.
37. At what point do we lose sight of that? At what moment does a man stop being a man?
I’ve never been one for philosophy. If it attacks, I kill it.
42. You choose to be simple, and you confuse it with honor. It is not true wisdom.
43. Imagine, for a moment, a hunter walking down a narrow road. He sees a wolf capering ahead of him, weak and tired.
44. The wolf poses no threat, but the hunter draws his knife. Thanks to the beast’s reputation, he senses danger where none exists.
45. The mind, you see, is trained by experience. It’s this experience that tempts you to kill the docile skeletons that stand before you.
I know what it means. I just want to make sure *you* know what it means.
46. I can no more tell you what this piece represents than you can tell me what it’s like to be a hound.
47. Art means different things to different people, and will invoke different emotions.
Do travelers take issue with your display?
51. Appreciation takes many forms. The most spiteful criticism is usually reserved for the most thought provoking of art.
52. So I take their criticisms as a compliment.
Why set up your art show here?
53. The more people view an art piece, the more interpretations are derived from it.
54. Like a flower to the sun, the art flourishes when the light of the people is cast upon it.
More people would see this piece if you brought it to a town.
55. A larger audience would negatively influence my work. If I feared the guard, I might use straw men in lieu of skeletons.
56. It did not take long for me to realize how the integrity of my art would be sacrificed.
The more people see this, the more you’re endangering your own life.
I am more than willing to die for my art. Still, I have made some compromises to protect myself.
58. Using skeletons in place of living bodies is one example.
This art piece is a piece of something, all right. Garbage, mostly.
59. And yet the angrier you become, the more you prove my work has merit.
Is there anything you miss about the College?
64. Only the presence of my colleagues. So many brilliant minds, each a treasure trove of the profound.
65. Some like Master Gestor would challenge your mind with hypotheticals, questions that had no answer.
I play the long game. Help the man cure the world, learn his secret, then kill.
75. And can you stand by and watch as his perversions and power increases? At least if you were to leave him be, you would be spared of the horror.
This man you speak of, we share similar appetites.
76. Then your question takes a different turn, but a choice must still be made. You seek to find the path that unleashes the most destruction.
I’d like to hear another hypothetical(reply 1).
77. As you wish. You are exploring a cave when you step on a trap loaded with poison darts. The darts, you discover, are tipped with a strange toxin.
78. It turns out this toxin is bound to a magic spell. It gives you a mild sensation of pleasure, but only when you hear the words “Thank you.”
79. On the contrary, the words “Please” result in a mild sensation of pain.
80. Do you consider this change positive or negative, and are you more or less likely to help someone as a result?
81. Think on that, and discover yourself.
I’d like to hear another hypothetical(reply 2).
82. It is my pleasure. Imagine for an instant you wake up one morning to find everything you eat has amplified in taste.
83. Yet your nose detects something noxious. The food smells rotten, and moreover, it appears as bad as it smells.
84. However, in your mouth it remains a model of perfection.
85. A week passes by. Do you consider dining to be a pleasurable experience?
I’d like to hear another hypothetical(reply 3).
86. Understood. While raiding caves, you discover an enchanted tunic.
87. You soon discover it has a strange effect. When worn, it increases your attractiveness to those you find desirable.
88. However, the armor itself is hideous. Those you find undesirable will treat you with malice.
89. You are invited to a ball that night, where persons of status and beauty will attend. Do you wear the tunic?
91. I think my next project will be a conjured skeleton made from the bones of twenty different men. The artistic value in that would be indescribable.
92. Feel free to spread the word of my exhibit. Do not tell them what it is, however. They must look upon it without bias.
94. What does this piece mean? With art, there are many answers, and all of them are correct.
95. Do not touch the artwork.
96. Art is about sacrifice.
97. My art may anger you. Yet that may very well be its intent.
You again! Shor’s Bones, girl, what did I tell you!
99. That I’m not to come back here with my art in tow. As you can see, I am clearly alone.
100. Yet I am pleased my work arouses such anger within you. That in itself proves it is meaningful.
Yeah, sure. Been keeping out of trouble much?
101. I wouldn’t dream of it.
102. You play beautifully Sven. May I ask where you learned your craft?
I’ve been trained as a Skald. As was my father, and my father’s father before him.
My time at the Bard’s College was brief. A prodigy has no need for formal education.
103. I agree. The seed of a bard’s song is not found in any book. In your case, it’s obvious where your inspiration lies.
I know. Someday Camilla will know my affections. Someday.
104. If you care about your craft, you would be better off if she doesn’t.