Trade Article: The Way of the Warrior — a personal tale, by Elowan of Wind

Preface | Introduction | The beginning ... | Thy education ... | The Flower of Britannia | Black magic ... | Training up — as a beginner; as a novice; as an adept; as a master | Virtue Shield | The Noto killer | Some days it doesn't pay ... | I lose my Shield ... | A tale of two thieves | A tale of etiquette | The Lich — revisited | Elowan's Guide to Dungeon Delving

have battled the minions of evil; I have practiced kindness and charity; I have assisted those less knowledgeable than mineself; I have given freely to those less fortunate; I have refrained from stooping to begging and thievery and have resisted looting the dead (except of course those of evil persuasion). I'm almost disgusting in my "goodness" and am ready for canonization but it is my nature to do such things in any event. I do not forget that I was once in lesser straits.

From time to time, I have made inquiry of the guards at the castle of our Lord British as to my qualifications to bear the Shield of the Virtues. I frequently sell goods at the Lord's Arms so it is no great matter to so inquire. The guards are somewhat aloof, not as to say snotty, and the Shield Bearers within the compound look down their noses at such as myself. So be it. I must confess that I feel something short of envy when I spy a Shield Bearer within a town or elsewhere and I aspire to join their ranks. Having made that an aspiration, I have called at the Library of Britain to see what I might discover about this somewhat mysterious group. My information about them is scanty and the memories I have of them at the time of mine recruitment are still somewhat unsettling. But I have not dwelled over much upon the topic; I have had other things to occupy me in the interim.

On the surface all seems as it should be. Everyone with an intelligence above a gnat knows that our Lord British and Lord Blackthorn were once at odds — nay enemies. Everyone "knows" that their differences have been since resolved and that they are now bosom friends. But it is passing strange to me at least the direction in which this 'friendship' has tended.

It is more than passing strange, as an aside, that so few people know where the Library of Britain is located. Can it be that none have availed themselves of the knowledge contained therein? Can everyone be so na´ve and so stupid? Knowledge is power and power can protect thee within the world — why disdain knowledge therefore? And yet since knowledge does not directly lead to gain — many ignore the opportunity to acquire it. Such are the wages of greed. Still and all, it does require some diligence to ferret out all that can be known. I was surprised to find so little about the Virtue Guards within the main library. In fact, I found what I was searching for within the Archives of Castle Britain itself in a section entitled A strange name is it not? Specifically the information about the founding of the Guards was to be found in a treatise entitled: The Founding of the Guards of Virtue. Amazing dost thou not think? The logic of it is amazing to me — too few things within the Land fit within a broad interpretation of the term 'logical'.

That it was written by someone who felt it prudent to remain anonymous is self-evident. Who has ever heard of a mouse scrivener? I have not, to be sure. It makes interesting reading and answered some questions that had been nibbling at the edges of mine mind from the beginning.

It explains the disdain with which each guard faction regards the other. It also explains and in some ways condones the overt hostility and fighting that occasionally ensues — even within the town limits! Unseemly at the very least! What sort of an impression does that leave upon the populace? Does that activity lead to a building of confidence? Methinks it doth not by any stretch.

But it does expose to examination the fact that a dichotomy exists within the hierarchy of the Land and goes far to explain the root of the unrest prevalent. And the Guards do tend to polarize thinking into mainly two schools of thought: that of Order and that of Chaos.

It is unfortunate unto the nth degree that mandatory schooling within the realm doth not extend above the 6th level. I say this because it seems to be a widely held belief that somehow Order equates to Good and Chaos equates to Evil. I have read the erudite and, for the most part, well thought out arguments viz: Order vs Chaos (disorder) and I am struck by one salient feature of those decrying Chaos. Almost to a man/woman, Order is described as a Virtue and Good and little if any of the inherent 'evil' of pure order is either mentioned nor yet discussed. Yet the rigid system of order whence death is meted out to transgressors of the Law without recourse is in itself an evil.

On the other hand Chaos (disorder) is never shown in it is milder and beneficial form. The 'virtues' of freedom of thought and expression, of free will to choose one's path are dismissed out of hand. Chaos is only described as bad, evil and/or destructive. But the Rule of Law is unworkable and oppressive in the hands of one individual. No one person has the wisdom to decide the absolute path of righteousness for anyone save him/herself.

I do not intend to spend much time discussing the point — these concepts have been argued quite well by others. Suffice that Order can (and often is) evil and that Chaos implies free will which can be good but it can lead to anarchy if abused. It is no accident that both Order and Chaos are described as Virtues. Think about it. Is one virtue ascendant above another? Does Compassion supercede Humility or Charity? Nay — they co-exist. How then is it that Order and Chaos cannot also co-exist? How is it mete that one cannot temper or balance the other? How is it that one must hold sway at the other's expense? It is not logical that it be so. It is logical, nay sensible, that there be balance between the Virtues because therein lies the truth. Remember this, gentle reader: Truth is a three-edged sword. There is thine truth; there is the other fellow's truth; and then there is reality. The Rule of Law can only work when free thinking (i.e. chaotic) individuals have some say in the application of the Rule. Anything else is fascism, pure and simply put. And while I favor the Rule of Law, I give short shrift either to fascism or its cousin totalitarianism.

Hence, once I had read all there was to read about the Guards and had engaged representatives of each in casual conversation, I was less than sanguine about my choice when the day finally arrived that my inquiry of 'Virtue Guards' elicited the response to the effect that if I was ready to swear fealty to the principles embodied in the Order, I was to reply 'Aye' and mine Shield wouldst materialize within mine back pack. When that happened I paused and went away. I needed time to think. And I thought long and hard and when I didst finally come to mine decision it was not without considerable soul searching nor was it without trepidation.

But choose I did and I bear the Shield proudly. But I do not employ it to hide behind. I do not use it as an excuse to attack and kill others. I have fought (sparred) with others of the opposite view and with them I maintain a cordial relationship. But when the day comes that I am asked, nay ordered, to wage war against my brethren 'across the way' is the day I will lay down my Shield and axe and retire.

And alas, that time did come and I did hang up mine shield never to bear it since.

For there is a revolution coming into the Land. The tension sits heavily in the air — it is palpable. One can even smell it — the smell of fear — pervasive and cloying. Rumor it is that my Lords British and Blackthorn have had another falling out. Our Lord British has sown the seeds for this revolution. But should he really be blamed for this? After all, he is merely the avatar of the Great God OSI. Perhaps OSI himself has some plan or answer but he has not seen fit to divulge such knowledge to me or anyone else. Perhaps he has to our Lord British? Perhaps. But if he has, our Lord is strangely silent in the matter.

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