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“You know,” Aethan began, contemplatively, “I’m fairly certain I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people here in Sigil who might recognize a dragonmark, let alone the significance of an aberrant dragonmark.  And yet, I’m still going out of my way to hide it, even here.”  His hand reflexively rubbed the arm under his shirtsleeve where he knew the strange mark, the source of his magic, was hidden, then forced himself to stop with a nervous glance over his shoulder.  He sighed and shook his head.  “I’m still not used to this… this life.  Even after a year in Sharn, and I lose track of how long it’s actually been since arriving here and joining this Federation, I still almost expect to wake up in my family’s home.  And then I’m reminded why that can’t be.

“I’m getting ahead of myself.  Apologies.”  He took a slow breath and let it out.  “It’s just that… this thing, this power, wherever it comes from… I don’t understand it.  Not truly.  I know that it’s magic, of course; we’re no strangers to the arcane in Khorvaire.  If anything, given what I’ve gathered from meeting others here, my people consider it almost mundane.  Just part of the world we all live in, something I always took for granted.  I can admit that, now.

“I never thought of myself as anything all that special.  Not really.  My brother and sisters all more or less knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives, my father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served Aundair with some distinction in the Last War, but me?”  He shrugged.  “I had everything I could ever need, and so never needed anything.  Didn’t want anything… except a purpose.  Seven years ago, I was the weakest fencer my tutor had ever seen, the least interested in my studies out my siblings and I.  Now?”  He held out his hand to one side, just beneath the table’s edge, and felt the now-familiar flow of magic from the mark down his arm and into his open hand as the sword materialized in his grasp.  He dismissed it again just as easily.  “Now, two years after the Last War ended, I’m doing battle with kobolds and monsters, getting mixed up in gang wars, delving for magical secrets in alien worlds!”

He fell silent, feeling the signet ring on its thin chain briefly press against his chest under his shirt and armor.  Unlike the ring he’d taken off a dead mercenary the day he ended up stumbling into Sigil, it wasn’t magical, but it nonetheless had a sort of power.  He’d lost count of the times since he first left home, both before and during his time in Sharn, that in desperation or fear it and his family’s name had opened doors where little else could have.  Like his dragonmark it held no special significance here, no reason to keep it hidden.  No reason to flaunt it, either, he thought.

“Maybe,” he began again, “this artificer does know something about how I got my mark.  What it might mean.  On the other hand, maybe not.  Maybe it doesn’t mean anything.  I doubt it, but… maybe.”  He lapsed into silence once more.  “I just hope that I’m doing the right thing… and I’m less and less sure exactly what that is.”