" Yggdrasil..."

Aislin's brow was furrowed, his lips occasionally parting silently as he concentrated on the text that Henry had presented him with. It was the first word he'd spoken since he began reading.

" Yggdrasil?" Henry entreated.

Aislin tapped on the passage about it, and then flicked back to the book's table of contents, scanning through.

" It's a smart idea, using Yggdrasil... This is a fairly high level text but, I do think... What is it exactly you're wanting to learn from all this, Henry? It might be more trouble than it's worth."

" It's not," Henry said. " I can't explain properly, but I can't give up either."

" Mm, but, with this political climate, it's difficult..."

Henry sat next to him, looking down at the frankly incomprehensible page he'd landed on.

" Difficult?" he entreated, still not really understanding what Aislin was on about.

" It's something fundamental in the world structure that's bothering you, isn't it, Henry?" Aislin asked. " In the old days, rulers of Altaer would commune with Yggdrasil in order to understand the flow of the aether."

Henry was surprised, but did not show it.

" ... Hasn't the world tree always been in Cardrest?" he asked.

He remembered this. He'd defended the tree from the onslaught of demons trying to uproot it from its place in the capital.

Aislin looked over to him.

" Yggdrasil has only been in the Almiran Capital for 120 years," he said. " It belongs to Altaer. It was stolen."

" That's still a long time," Henry said, now feeling uneasy. That didn't sound right, but he suddenly, somehow, wasn't sure how to protest it.

" For you, maybe," Aislin replied.

That's right. Demons all lived for a long time.

Aislin closed the book.

" For now, at least, if it's something that could be of use to you, we should think about... planning a trip to the capital, and petitioning for an audience... Ah, but it's under heavy restriction..." He spoke, voice trailing off as he curled up to think.

" We should be staying here at the Order, anyway, to look after Ornstein," Henry said absently. " This... it can wait."

" Mm," Aislin agreed with him, and, after a moment, leaned his head on his shoulder.

" It's getting late," Henry said. " You should go back to your room and get some sleep."

" Mm."

Aislin stood quietly, and left quietly.