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This is the autobiographical journal of Arvil Bren, a somewhat reluctant hero who has been placed on an unknown quest by powers that he barely knows exist. Follow his journey as it is updated daily, Monday through Friday, and enjoy! These are the most recent entries in Arvil Bren's third journal; Politics of the Redoran. His first journal can be found in its entirety here. His second journal, Trail of the Archmage can be found here.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Ten: Act and react

Malven was very quiet at breakfast this morning. Craetia chattered merrily about her adventures, and I thought it wise to put in a word. Not to dampen her spirits, just to keep her from letting her light brush of experience turn dangerous for her.

"Don't count on a Redguard backing down regularly. Handing out leaflets is not their business, his heart wasn't really in it. Had his mission been to guard those leaflets you would only have gotten them if you killed him," I said.

"Oh, I wouldn't want to kill him," the alchemist replied. "I wouldn't want to kill anyone." I noted the intent look from Malven and let it go. The rest of the staff quickly had Craetia's excitement restored, but hopefully she will not underestimate the next Redguard she meets.

Malven followed me down the stairs to my office. "I had no idea you were going to kill her," she said. I looked at her, keeping my face a blank. "Galuro Belan. You said you were going to talk to her, now she is dead. I had no idea that is what you had in mind."

"That isn't what I had in mind," I said, "but what I had in mind makes no difference."

"Did you kill her?" she asked.

"Yes I did. That's why what I had in mind makes no difference."

"Well just what did you have in mind?" she asked with a trace of bitterness.

"I don't know," I said. "An apology with a public acknowledgement of our alchemist's skill, then the Telvanni having her executed for treason maybe? Like I said, whatever I had in mind would make no difference. Malven, this is important, and it was a hard lesson that I had to learn. It's also imperative that you learn it right now, because if you don't teach it to Craetia and the others we will have losses that I will not tolerate. Losses your conscience would find much heavier weights than others it will have to bear." I could not tell if I was getting through. I have yet to get comfortable with reading the red eyes of the Dunmer. All I could do was plow ahead.

"So here it is. We are at war with the Telvanni. Maybe not the kind with the armies marching out the gate with trumpets blaring, but a war; and in war there are soldiers. After a war there are two kinds of soldiers; heroes and monsters. The monsters faught for the losing side, because history is written by the winners. They were remorseless killing machines unfettered by conscience. The heroes faught for the winning side. During the war there were also two kinds of soldiers," I continued. "Those who left their conscience at their commander's feet and went on to be heroes, or monsters; and those who died."

Malven sat silently, and I still didn't know if I was getting through. "A lot of the time I am the Archmage, Malven, but yesterday I was a soldier. A soldier that you and I sent into a skirmish. Now, you didn't give any clear instructions, which I would hope that you would if you had sent someone else. I gave the instructions myself, because I knew that when I got there I would not want to take the time to think. My instructions didn't include 'do not kill her'. I would also hope that you would think long and hard before you tied someone's hands that way and sent them against the Telvanni." I stopped, and looked at her. I'm sure my face was hard. She nodded slightly.

I said, "It used to bother me a lot that Ranis seemed to end every assignment she gave me with 'or kill them'. Now I understand. She took the limits off of her soldier, and I'm likely alive because of it. I didn't kill everyone, in fact I usually found a way around it, but if it came to a fight I never hesitated. Soldiers can't be deciding the right and wrong of the battle, they have to fight it with everything they have. It's up to you to send them into the right battles; you, and ultimately me. We have to be the ones with conscience, but if you end up facing the Telvanni yourself leave your conscience at the door and be a soldier."

It was harsh, and looking back I think there must have been a way to make it easier for her, but she needs to know the true weight of her position. In the end she seemed to have shouldered that weight. Hopefully she talked with Ranis, or Skink, or even Edwinna while I was out. I thought it wise to give her time and space so I spent most of the day out of the hall. As fate often has it after a speech like that I had to confront my own demons.

Aurane Frernis, the alchemist who was unknowingly at the center of this object lesson, is a dues paying member of the guild. Her shop directly competes with services the guild provides, but since she is a member this is not a problem. The enchanter Muin-gei, on the other hand, is not a member.

In keeping with the theory I had presented to Malven I gave myself a clear assignment; persuade him to join, by either showing some benefit or just making him feel good that the Archmage himself had requested his membership, but do not get into any sort of conflict and certainly don't kill him. It was the 'showing some benefit' part of the assignment that ended up testing me.

Muin-gei turned out to be a very personable Argonian, with a stock of quality items at fair prices. Unfortunately his response to my suggestion that he join the guild went directly to the typical businessman's defense against expenses. His business is down; plagued by a recent turn that makes paying dues out of the question. Naturally the conversation goes directly from there to 'what if being a member of the guild solves the problem?', which led directly to me being outside his shop looking for some trinket selling street vendor that Muin-gei said was to blame for his current downturn.

When I met Marcel Maurard I couldn't help but agree. If I were shopping for enchantments, or anything else, I would shop elsewhere rather than have a second meeting with this foppish pretender. His 'lucky charms and gifts of splendor' are of no particular value, but getting away without an endless description of each and every item was on the verge of impossible. The demon I fear most rose up inside and hissed in my ear, "you could just kill him." With all the deaths on my hands it is a constant battle to keep my conscience active when it really is called for. Ultimately the lengths I went to to get him to move on were a proof that my conscience is intact, but he was no help.

Marcel Maurard claims to be an actor, and from the drama he added to selling his wares I suppose he is; a bad one. Tonight I am looking through a play written by Crassius Curio, a member of the council of the Hlaalu great house, and I think they are made for each other. Fortunately, as the Archmage it was not hard for me to gain access to the worthy playwrite and suggest the actor Marcel for a part in The Lusty Argonian Maid. I graciously accepted this copy, but it is a bit of drivel I will be happy to avoid. Hopefully I will never see the star again either.

2 Comments:

Blogger madoda said...

Some great reasoning - puts the hundreds of kills one achieves in this game into a kind of context, and the argument about not just killing Marcel amused me deeply, as I usually just get annoyed with him and kill him in-game!

5:43 AM  
Blogger Fahrradd said...

At last we see the tortured soul! I knew this was coming eventually, the inner struggle that Arvil will hopefully resolve with his sanity intact. Excellent writing as usual.

8:48 AM  

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