Out-of-character notes: This was written before the tide turned in the Lost Lands conflict. Please do not read this if you don't like RolePlaying, don't like me, or don't like the character of Galen, or any of the above. It'll just **** you off. I've spotted a few errors I made in this post, despite my painstaking editing process. But since I already posted it in this form in the RP forums, may as well post it the same way here too. Oh well, I'll live; the errors seem pretty minor. *chuckles* -Galen's player Humanity has many great scholars, researchers, archaeologists, and teachers. But, at the end of the day, humans mostly pass on our values, culture, history, and hopes through our stories. Even before humanity learned to write, our stories could survive generations, or centuries, after the real people the characters were based upon turned to dust. Sometimes, as human cultures and civilizations expanded and changed, the stories changed with them. The old versions were usually kept alive too, somehow, alongside the newer ones. One of humanity's strangest, most-enduring stories is that of the long, tragedy-laden career of great warrior and knight named Lancelot. One of his exploits had been at the front of my mind lately. One day, Sir Lancelot, while on a holy quest, was walking through an unknown forest, far from home. He stumbled across a great battle in a clearing, between two armies of skilled and well-equipped knights, and watched it for awhile. After about an hour, one side was clearly losing. Lancelot knew nothing about the sides of the conflict, but he jumped in anyway, to fight for the losing side. He helped turn the tide of the battle, and then walked off to resume his quest. Lancelot later learned that he had helped the forces of Evil defeat the forces of Good. He had, in fact, fought against the forces of his own God. Good was winning, until Lancelot stupidly intervened. Was it Lancelot's perceived knightly duty to protect the weak that caused him to jump into the fray? No. The other side was not weak, they were merely losing. The two sides seemed evenly matched. Lancelot of all people, who had won many fights, knew that victory and defeat were both inevitable, and the loser in a fight isn't necessarily weaker than the winner, let alone more in the right. No. It was, quite clearly, a warrior's Pride that caused Lancelot to unknowingly intervene, and unknowingly commit an act of great Evil. He knew he could turn the tide, and so he did, simply because he could. He should, of course, have simply walked away. He didn't know anything about the fight and he had no reason to intervene. The answer to Sir Lancelot's dilemma was to look past Pride and realize that he had no dilemma at all. The story of Sir Lancelot's dilemma was never more on my mind than when the Bane Chosen and the Ophidians began their private war in the Lost Lands. We had, I think, a little more information on this war than Sir Lancelot did on the battle he'd intervened in. The Ophidians were a constant irritation to us, we had every reason to think they were Evil, and a few short years ago they'd launched massive, well-organized attacks on us that had left many dead, injured, or homeless. These attacks had come to be known as the War of the Zenith Scion. I'd fought them bitterly during that war, I'd slaughtered the Ophidians like animals, followed them eagerly into territory I knew they'd claimed, and I had no regrets. And yet, here I was, basically assisting the Ophidians in their battle against the Bane Chosen, who appeared human, and who claimed their families had been slaughtered by the Ophidians during the War of the Zenith Scion. And why was this? Why put myself into a fight that wasn't mine, like Sir Lancelot had once done, let alone on behalf of an Evil race that I'd slaughtered not too long ago? Simply put, it was instinct. There was just too much wrong with the Bane. The War of the Zenith Scion was many years ago, why seek revenge now? Also, the Bane Chosen weren't subtle in their long-term goals. They wished to wipe all “uncivilized races” from the map. Not Evil races, not aggressive races, but “uncivilized.” “Civilized” was one of the least objective concepts our language had a word for. Rarely do you meet a person or being, let alone an entire race, that calls itself uncivilized. That was something someone else called you when they disapproved of you, considered you less than them. Some elves considered humans uncivilized. Some humans considered elves to be uncivilized. That word was even on occasion used by Britannians and Tokunoese, both human, to describe each other's culture. The word had no clear meaning, and that was the word the Bane had chosen to use. Further, the Bane had no obvious respect for political or civil authority. My Security Ministry and Royal Guard badges didn't impress them one bit, and they showed no sign of recognition of the names of Queen Dawn or Lord British, or of having so much as heard of the Virtues. There was no indication they were affiliated with Papua's Mayor. They were a powerful army of raw hate, in very respectable armor that recalled Lord Blackthorn's armies from long ago, riding demonic dragons (again, recalling Blackthorn's army). These dragons came from the Abyss, along with the special breed of red-glowing hounds the Bane also used in their attacks. They had sprung up out of nowhere, with no obvious signs of funding, organization, or leadership. They wouldn't stand down, seemingly no matter what. They were an hour's ride from Papua, which was a teleporter away from Moonglow. I didn't like this, not one bit. When they wouldn't respect authority or stand down, indeed when they paid no attention, I reacted with a slap and a shove. To that, they reacted with a swing of a sword, which I blocked. And, to the block, they reacted with another sword swing, and proceeded to encircle me. Before I fully understood what was happening I had killed about ten of them. And another dozen shortly after that. They kept coming, in endless waves. I'd seen this before. Monsters did this. This was how monsters, not men, behaved and fought. And I fought them like I'd fight monsters, as I'd fought the Ophidians years prior. With bitterness. But, then, I always fought bitterly. Outside of sparring, I couldn't think of how else to fight. The Ophidians were around me, cheering me on, or seeming to. Meanwhile, other Britannians assisted the Bane and slaughtered the Ophidians, as I'd slaughtered the Bane, and the dry sand of the Lost Lands desert eagerly drank in the blood. I bore no grudge against my countrymen who assisted the Bane. Members of my guild helped the Bane too. Only one thing was clear to me: Neither side was our friend. I thought it best to play these two sides against each other. They were both clearly too powerful, numerous, and close to us to ignore. I thought of a similar dilemma, many years ago, when Savages had chased Orcs into Britannian territory, and Britannians chose sides, one or the other. I killed both, I considered both a threat. The only reason I was killing the Bane exclusively in this particular case, I could've overlooked my early incident with them if they could've, was that they already had quite enough Britannian help. The funny thing was that the outcome seemed to be a foregone conclusion. The two sides were a brutal mismatch; the Bane could have brought terror to the Ophidians without our help. That the Bane seemed eager to get our help anyway, offering the rewards they did, only made me even more suspicious of them. The only thing the few of us fighting against the Bane could hope for was to keep the Bane off-balance until....Until what? There was no way to know. And in this manner the fight went on, and on, and on, over days. I'd been part of many longer fights in my day, and expected to be so again. But there was something about this, the uncertain nature of what was going on, the heat of the desert sun beating down on my dark clothing and armor, that wore me down as I fought and fought, with Sir Lancelot's dilemma echoing in my head. But, unlike Sir Lancelot, we hadn't stumbled across two armies in contest in the middle of an unknown woods. They were right here, an hour's ride from Papua, in great numbers. And so I fought.