Out-of-character notes: This is an RP post, simply hinting at some of Galen's thoughts on recent events. If you would have no particular interest in this post, or Galen the character, or me as a player, or RP in general, you should probably not read the post. -Galen's player It was an especially dark night, and Moonglow was especially quiet. The city didn't live up to its name that night. There was a half-moon but the clouds covered it, its glow hidden. I went to the docks, and stared out, to the north, out at the bounded, following sea, with the shore of Dagger Isle in the distance, and thought of Magincia. And of other things. I'd actually never liked Magincia, and never thought I'd be leading a Crusade to liberate it, or at least to make its occupiers bleed, but there I was, doing just that. Fighting against the Devil of Magincia. I thought back to when Magincia was smashed by demons, years ago. We finally had a name in our own language for the Devil of Magincia: Virtuebane. The name was almost beautiful in its simplicity, in the way it defined purpose. There was always something almost admirably pure and clear about evil. We had long-known the entity's name in its own language (IxaKaz), and in the gargoyle language (Ben-Tas Jux-Lem). And, truth be told, its name in English was not a surprise to me. There had been signs, hints, for awhile. But there was something about confirming this, about confirming his name in English, about finally piercing the veil of ambiguity, and about reading the well-done research on the foul demon lord, performed by Harriet of the Lycaeum, that made it more real, and more terrifying, and made the future we faced seem more uncertain, more bleak. I remembered, years ago, when demons had smashed Magincia, a fey woman I knew had first floated Virtuebane's name, wondering if he was behind this, if he'd show up at some point. At the time, I hadn't of Virtuebane, but I noticed the fear in the fey's voice when she spoke Virtuebane's name. Looking back, the fey's fear was what disturbed me more than anything else, what made me remember the name Virtuebane so many years later. Fey don't fear much, in fact they often don't fear what they should. And sometimes when they feared something it wasn't obvious, fear being hidden under their natural joy and enthusiasm for life's ups and downs. But this relatively little-known demon lord, Virtuebane, scared this fey girl enough that she didn't, perhaps couldn't, hide how scared she was. Harriet's research unveiled something I hadn't expected, and that was just how old Virtuebane was. He had, it seemed, existed before the time of Akalabeth, had emerged from the ancient dungeon known as “Death's Awakening.” I was reminded of the great corruption demon, Moloch, who was said to have existed as long as there were systems to corrupt and subvert. Had Virtuebane, I wondered, existed as long as Virtue itself? If so, that meant he was probably as old as time. As old as the long-unseen Time Lord, or even older. I gazed out at the dark sea and thought of the strange way I lived. Did Pride mingle with my other feelings? If it did, when I did battle against the forces of the Devil of Maginica, the forces of Virtuebane, did the demon lord ponder the irony? Harriet's superb research showed us that it was also known as “Pride's Emissary,” and that it could corrupt the minds of the Prideful. Did I qualify? Did I have to be worried about my mind being corrupted by the enemy? When I thought of my Crusade, I always remembered the sounds first. The thundering of the horse's hooves; the mocking voice of Buldur, Virtuebane's foul General of Bloodlust; the roars of the demon hordes; the sounds of spells being cast; flesh being torn by steel and claw and boiled by spells; my own voice, yelling orders to people who decided to follow me into battle, not out of obligation or potential profit, but because they believed either in me or in my cause or both; Aranel's voice softly whispering the words of healing spells. Pride was the most interesting of sins. Was it not Pride to lead a Crusade against an ancient, unstoppable evil? Was it not Pride to presume that a mere antiques dealer could call a Crusade at all? Yet, people came anyway, attracted by the cause itself; how could any warrior not feel Pride in that? Was it not Pride to live as I currently lived? If Virtuebane noticed my Crusade against him at all, did he ponder these ironies? And wasn't it perhaps the most Prideful thing of all to think that Virtuebane gave me and my Crusade a moment's thought at all? I tried to banish the thoughts from my head but I was only partially successful. Pride and over-thinking things are both bad habits, and bad habits are hard to kill. We were, it seemed, in the middle of the last two rituals described in the Principia Daemonis. Despite our attempts, despite the fact that we'd kept things from becoming even more of a mess, the Devil of Magincia was close to his goal. What would happen after he accomplished it, if he did, wasn't clear, but it surely wasn't good. I thought of Dawn, our warrior-queen, the Lioness of Britannia. “Galen likes to charge right in, like Queen Dawn,” Lucifer Drakewind of the Yew Militia had said just the other night. I thought back to many years ago, watching Dawn give a speech in Serpent's Hold, interrupted by Lord Blackthorn's last-ditch assault on Britannia, wherein he fell to Dawn's sword. I wanted her to succeed as Queen, wanted it badly. For her, and for the realm. Not too long ago, we'd known the Devil of Magincia simply by V. V, we now knew, stood for Virtuebane, but it could stand for many other things too. One was vendetta. To what extent was the Magincian Crusade simply a vendetta? My vendetta against those who would take away our ability to decide our cities' fates, and my attempt to carry the Queen's vendetta against those who had taken, or corrupted, her husband? Did the Devil of Magincia watch us? Did it watch our futile attempts to dislodge its armies? Did it watch me and laugh at the many ironies of such a strange and complicated man leading a Crusade against him? Did it watch Queen Dawn as she wept on her empty bed?