For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

Ecclesiastes 1:18


Wisdom

"Wakey wakey!"

Li-Ming smirked as Leah awoke with a start, one hand reaching upwards, the other reaching outwards and spilling ink in the process. Pranks never got out of fashion, regardless of age and location.

"Huh? I…oh…oh no…"

The wizard headed over, casually using her magic to retrieve the ink off the desk and return it to the pot.

"Li-Ming…" Leah said, returning one of her hands to the pot and the other to her forehead. "Didn't see you…"

"Course not. You were asleep."

"I…wasn't…"

"And you need more sleep. Trust me child, you're not going to save the world by giving yourself insomnia."

Leah stared at the wizard. Perhaps she resented being called "child" when she was a few years older than her. Perhaps she didn't know what insomnia was. Still, that wasn't the point. The girl was exhausted, even if she wasn't going to admit it to anyone.

"I'm fine…" Leah murmured, now both of her hands coming to her forehead and rubbing it. "Fine…"

Li-Ming took a seat opposite the seer, telekinetically summoning some unlit candles to the desk, then sending sparks out of her fingertips to light them.

"Thanks."

"Don't," the wizard said. "It's my way of shedding light on the situation and showing how tired you are. I-…"

"Fetch me that book, will you?"

Clearly, Leah wasn't giving up. The Great Library of Caldeum was empty bar the pair. Li-Ming didn't know how Leah had got permission to stay here overnight, or maybe the curator didn't care. Either way, the wizard made her way over to the adjacent desk, where a pile of heavy tomes lay.

"This one?" the wizard asked, gesturing towards a book on the left pile."

"Other one. In the middle."

Li-Ming picked the tome up, its pages feeling as dry as leaves after a summer fire. She casually opened the cover.

"A Telling of One's Accounts of Hell: A Mage's Journey into the Netherworld," the wizard mused, turning pages and seeing the lurid illustrations scattered alongside the faded text. "Charming…"

"Pass it over," Leah said, not looking from her current tome, simply titled The Grimoire."

"You know…" Li-Ming said, obeying the girl's request but not giving up on her conversation. "You do realize this is a bit of a stretch don't you? That one of these books will tell you where and when Azmodan will strike."

"It's a stretch," Leah admitted, not looking up even as Li-Ming rested the book on the desk. "But if I can piece together the puzzle…you know…"

"What I know is that you're working yourself to death."

"And you don't?" Leah snapped back. "You think I'm entitled to rest after everything you, Tyrael and everyone else have done?"

Li-Ming remained silent. Leah simply stared at her before opening the mage's journey book, her right hand already bringing quill to parchment to take notes.

"Anything else?" Leah asked. "Or do you want to make this take longer?"

The wizard remained silent, instead sitting down on the chair on the other side of the desk and resting her feet on the table.

"Nice…"

Li-Ming ignored her. She was tired. Like Leah, even if the girl wouldn't admit it. And she had to admit, she was uneasy as well.

All her life she'd been told, and believed, that she was special. That she had a destiny. Had believed when she saw the Fallen Star that her time had come, that she'd save the world single-handedly. She hadn't expected others to come to its point of impact, hadn't expected to be operating as part of a group. A group that she'd noticed she was the youngest member of at a mere nineteen years of age. She sometimes wondered where she fit in.

Or is it that you're back in Caldeum? The Xiansian's conscience asked. How would Valthek treat you now…his prize student…now simply along for the ride…

It was the library that was doing it, Li-Ming decided. A library that was too much like the one in the Yshari Sanctum for her liking. And looking at Leah, wrapped up in her books…maybe the girl irritated her as well, the wizard reflected. Searching for the truth, her destiny…age differences aside, perhaps she was seeing her old self. Only with Cain's adopted daughter, she was seeing the real thing. And after Belial's machinations, reality was something that could hit hard.

"This is trash…" Leah said suddenly, casting the book to one side.

"No Azmodan?"

"Maybe…but it's as if the author's intent was to simply disgust its reader rather than provide any real information."

Li-Ming glanced over at the tome, its pages depicting an illustration of a babe being ripped out of its mother's womb, the amount of gore being excessive in every sense of the word.

"Too much for you?" Li-Ming teased. "Or has Zakarum been proven right?"

"What?" Leah asked vaguely, clearly not listening.

"You know…Zakarum…he who increases knowledge increases sorrow."

"Don't remember that line…"

"Oh, it takes me back," the wizard said, glad that the conversation was picking up again. "Years ago, in this city…young…well, younger girl back then. That time of life where your body starts changing, boys start noticing you and you start to notice them as well."

"Oh? Like Kormac you mean?" Leah murmured.

Li-Ming stared at her. Blood rushed to her face…mainly her cheeks…

"Relax…" Leah murmured, her eyes still in her books. "Think it's kind of cute really…sinful magic user and defender of the Light and all it represents…match made in Heaven…pun possibly intended…"

"Anyway…" Li-Ming said, her mouth speaking in the Western tongue while her mind rolled off insults in her native language. "At the time, some preacher came up to me. Could tell I was at that time of life where one is tempted by all matter of sins and all that, not to mention that I was a user of magic. Told him I was heading back to the library…"

"More magic research?"

"That, and of course, women aren't meant to read…or something." Li-Ming chuckled. "Basically went on about how increasing knowledge increased sorrow. That by learning about the dark and dangerous things in this world and beyond, we'd become more open to corruption. That only through simple minds, simple living and devotion to the Light could we hope to be saved."

"Uh-huh…" Leah said, getting to her feet and stretching. "What happened then?"

The wizard grinned. "I set his robes on fire. Boys started talking to me themselves afterwards."

It was the punchline. The coup de grace…or whatever they said in Einsteig. The point where Li-Ming hoped Leah would give herself a break. Because jabs and insecurities aside, Li-Ming respected her. Liked her even. Liked her in the same way as the rest of her companions.

"That's nice," the wizard's elder said, sitting back down. "But I need to focus on stories of another kind."

The wizard sighed, and rose to her feet in turn. "Fine. I give up. You want to work yourself to death, it's your choice."

"Not choice. Duty."

Li-Ming snorted. "Some people can't tell the difference."

"Then that's your problem."

Leah was gone, the wizard realized. Lost in duty. Lost in books. Lost in the 'wisdom' of madmen who'd devoted their lives to studying Hell in all its lurid detail.

All Li-Ming could hope for was that her friend didn't become lost in sorrow as well.


A/N

The idea for this actually came from an inscription in the original Diablo-forget its exact words, but it basically repeats the sentiment that with increased wisdom comes increased sorrow. Anyway, decided to reference the concept in-universe.