Zhaum stared out into the dark. He liked the darkness, in his own abstract fashion, because it was less demanding. His steel hands clasped and unclasped, marking time as his soft basso voice chanted worship of Aureon. He was, he considered, both like and unlike his forge-brothers. His voice was unusually quiet for a Warforged, but he felt comforted by repetitive activity, some means to pass the time, to help think. Not all of his brothers liked thinking too hard. It was alien to them, having been treated as machines for so long. Zhaum did not pity or regret, though. They were what they were, and would, in time, become what they would become. Evolution. A strange word, much like the Word he served. Knowledge.
In a way, the two were linked. A thinking being cannot evolve without knowledge, to shape itself and it’s environment. And knowledge helped thinking beings understand how they came to be. Knowledge, Zhaum had decided long ago, was the highest purpose.
As a creature howled in the night (two miles approximate, no need to wake his comrades), Zhaum considered Knowledge, and its implications. As one granted powers by Aureon (although none knew until after the war), Zhaum’s purpose was to uncover knowledge. But some knowledge, even Aureon would hide. Such was his group’s purpose now. And yet, knowledge led them to this forest (Eldeen Forest, low population density, high likelihood of hostile animal encounters, moderate of aberrations), to the clearing where they rested, before the final leg of their journey. The thought did not comfort Zhaum as it once did.
No matter how much certain knowledge must be hidden, and those who have it destroyed, it is no comfort to one who both seeks and prizes knowledge, wishing to share so that all may learn, become more. True, these beings known as Inspired sought to use their knowledge to make knowledge meaningless (Chance of coherent thought in event of Dal Quor coterminous: Minimal), but they sought knowledge just the same. It was a dilemma, and one he had been calculating for some time now.
On the one hand, the destruction, or at least delay, of knowledge regarding the enigmatic inhabitants of Dal Quor, the realm of dreams. The missed chance to gather such knowledge firsthand. On the other…
Zhaum did not need to look back to remind himself of his fellow travellers. He remembered their every detail, every nuance. Even if they died, they would live on in his memory. Calm Selan, the Adarian monk, who had first brought the news of the Inspired’s plot, almost dead then, sleeping now. Would he ever know true peace? Would he discover some means of allowing his people the freedom to seek they are denied?
Feral Zha’ri, the Talenta Halfling. He had been nothing but a brute when Zhaum had found him, but he now fought to master wars, not of brute force, but of thoughts and words, even as he fought his own war against his violent heritage. Should he be denied the right to grow, the right to change?
And finally, Brodwen, the artificier who had given him life. She no longer used her house name, for she was out of favour, and was happy as such. Would she bring forth a creation, from her brilliant mind, that would make her knowledge praised? Or should she be stifled, before she brings forth a weapon of war, knowledge used only to hurt?
Zhaum calculated, and, in the way of the Warforged, brooded. He had, in a sense, already chosen. But he had to be sure. And so, he chanted, seeking knowledge from the giver of knowledge, great Aureon.
And, in a moment of clarity, his calculations shone, rearranged themselves, and became cold, hard, and set. For the paths of his companions, he would not seek this knowledge, but hide it, cutting off a part of his own path.
Being certain his calculations , aided by prayer, were correct, he felt no more regret, or pity. The Inspired would die tomorrow. And Eberron would be safe, for one more day, at least.