This is an RP post, simply relaying some of Galen's thoughts on relatively recent events. Hard to call it a story, really, just in-character musings. If you don't like me, or don't like the character of Galen, or don't like RP in general, don't read this post, it'll just **** you off. The intro song, which gives the post its title and its central concept, is modified from an RL song by Tom Waits, which itself borrows from an Australian folk song. -Galen's player Wasted and wounded, it ain't what the Moon did. I got what I paid for now. See ya tomorrow, hey Tom could I borrow a couple of gold pieces from you. To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you'll go waltzing Matilda with me. And the daggers of Summer, make the ghosts of Autumn and they moan throughout the night. And the ghosts of some memory, the blood stains on me silhouette in the window light. Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you'll go waltzing Matilda with me. -An old, unnamed Human drinking/folk song. It'd been a little while, I forget how long exactly, since the demon assaults on Britain, when the Crystal of Duplicity was stolen. It'd been a little while, but I couldn't get the battle out of my mind. I'd been in probably tens of thousands of battles, and they all ran together after about the first five-hundred. They all had certain things in common. The sounds of flesh being torn and burned, the screams of agony and the groans of pain and the grunts of effort, the confusion of everything happening at once, the way it was hard to see anything beyond surviving each moment moment. Often, in battle, battle strategy was the last thing you could think about. The attack on Britain was especially hard. It had a habit of feeding us false endings. The fight would seem to be over, the defenders would share a moment's respite and a temporary triumph, but then we'd hear the demonic roars and the battle would renew. Having a moment's rest is sometimes worse than being in a long, continuous fight. Sometimes, it's harder to shake off the pain and fatigue when you've had a moment to think about how hurt and tired you are. Of course, long and continuous fights have problems of their own too. Everyone who was at that battle with one exception was nearly dead from fatigue alone by the end of it. Myself, Aranel, Thanatos, Athena, Martyna, Malag, Silverbrook, Ra'Dian, Edon Machiavelli, everyone. None of these people were new to long battles. When Silverbrook sounded the alarm that the Crystal of Duplicity had been compromised, it was far too easy to not care, at least not immediately, simply because there was too much to care about that was right in front of us. There were multiple times where the defenders were ready to back out, to declare Britain, the capital city, lost. It was Queen Dawn who'd rallied us, who wouldn't let us quit. She was the exception, the one person I saw whom the attack didn't wear out. The fighting seemed to have made her come alive in a way that being Queen didn't, maybe couldn't. What most stands out in my memory, though, as always, were the victims. There were always so many victims, so many fallen, and the attack on Britain was particularly bad. I remembered the screams of the innocents, the sounds of their flesh tearing and their limbs being severed and the cries of their violated daughters. I was nowhere near Queen Dawn when Buldur had injured her, but I could swear I heard her blood being spilled, that I was able to pick out those sounds from hundreds of feet away, through or around about half a dozen buildings at minimum, in the midst of the din of battle. Funny how I didn't remember this, or think I did, until after I'd learned that Buldur had gotten the blood he sought, along with the Crystal. This “memory” was nothing more than a figment of my imagination. It had to be. Actually hearing what I'd thought I'd heard would've been quite impossible, and these days to say something's impossible is saying a lot. Sometimes, a memory's just a wish by another name. In a way, my faith in our young warrior-Queen was one of these victims. I still thought it ridiculous the way some sought to paint Queen Dawn's error in putting the Crystal on display as a matter of the Sin of Pride. I didn't see this as a matter of Virtue at all. It was a matter of poor judgment. I understood the reasons Queen Dawn had made the decision she'd made, to bring the Crystal out into the open, or at least I thought I did. She had simply been proven wrong. But the potential consequences of putting the Crystal on display weren't unpredictable. Numerous people, including, I had to assume, Security Minister Magnus Gray, had warned the Queen. She didn't listen. Why was that, I wondered? The Queen was young, in some ways younger than we thought. Maybe that was it, maybe it was youth's preference for keeping things out in the open rather than hiding them. But I couldn't shake the feeling that Dawn actually preferred conflict. She was, after all, a warrior. During the battle I'd asked her if it would be pointless to tell her to go home. She said yes, it would. I knew what her answer would be before I'd asked the question. She was the only one not worn out by that fight. Was it that Queen Dawn wanted to stand with her people, to not abandon them as, say, Lord British had done? Or was it that right there, in the midst of battle, spilling more of her enemies' blood than they spilled of hers, was simply where she preferred to be? If so, I understood that, understood it completely. I had little doubt that I'd be in the fight for as long as I could heft a dagger. But I wasn't King. My responsibilities were Joylah, Aranel, and the guild. As long as I didn't think I'd be likely to endanger my ability to take care of those, I could take risks. Maintaining faith in Queen Dawn was, I thought, important. The consequences of losing faith were too great. Once you lost your faith in your leader, it was easy to take her every action as negative. Even Queen Dawn's decision to stay with us during the fight could be taken badly. It could confirm the suspicion that, at the end of the day, Dawn was more warrior than Queen. And there could be dire consequences unless she overcame her nature. This was dangerous thinking. I was completely confident that, were it not for Queen Dawn's encouragement, the defenders would have abandoned Britain, the capital city, at least so that we could regroup. And by the time we regrouped, it may well have been too late. It was Queen Dawn who'd kept us there, Dawn who kept us in the fight. It was Dawn's victory. Of course, it was Dawn's bad decision that had led to the battle. Or was it. Demons weren't predictable. And the more organized they got, the less predictable they became. The more broader goals and collective action melded with demonkind's essentially chaotic nature. The name echoed through my mind: Ben-tas Jux-lem. This was the gargoyle name of the head of the Demon Conclave, a being as yet unseen (we thought). It roughly translated to “one who harms virtue.” Ben-tas Jux-lem was the unseen Devil of this particular drama. Who was it. Maybe it was Pyros, the Elemental Titan of Fire. We'd only seen two of the players in the Elemental Titan Blood Feud (the evil Lithos, Titan of Earth, and Stratis, the Titan of Air, who was if not good then at least a reliable ally). The protocol of Pyros, we'd learned, was, "power borrowed from Ben-tas Jux-lem returns to Ben-tas Jux-lem." Perhaps he had returned to reclaim borrowed power. Or maybe it was actually Buldur all along. Maybe Buldur wasn't just a demon general, but secretly a demon prince. The other two generals were long-dead, curious that this one was still standing. And the Bane Chosen. That they were involved seemed to me to be beyond question. Proving it, and understanding the nature of their involvement, were very different matters. "The daggers of Summer," the old drinking song goes, "make the ghosts of Autumn." What ghosts, I wondered, would this Autumn bring. Autumn wasn't that far off. Faith, in Queens, in Virtues, and in the eventual triumph of Good, was a virtue too, though not named by Lord British. What, I wondered, does faith's ghost look like?