: "So, Godfrey, how'd the fight look from where you were standing?"
: "Rousing, my lady."
: "That doesn't tell me much."
: "As in the tales of the masters, you went blow for blow until the decisive moment."
: "Ha! Don't kid yourself. I made him think once or twice, but if he'd tried he could have flattened me right quick."
: "The lines of Hythar come to mind: 'The weaker branch bends / Only to sting returning.'"
: "Hythar was an ass, and you can tell him so from me."
: "Funny, though. It didn't hurt."
: "The human body is a remarkable thing."
: "Yeah. It is."
: "Where the mind rebels, the body accepts and adapts."
: "I don't like having a hole in my memory, though. How long was I out?"
: "A mere ten seconds, my lady. The priests attained the ring and restored you immediately."
: "They inform me that your soul did not leave your body."
: "I don't remember it doing anything like that."
: "'Course, before yesterday I'd probably have told you I didn't have one."
: "Everyone has a soul. And if I may say so, the experience of drifting free of one's body is almost pleasant, provided help is swift on its way."
: She looks at him. "You know this from experience, Godfrey?"
: "Much has been written on the topic, my lady."
: "That didn't answer my question."
: "I came to grief once at sea, during a great storm. Praised be Leviathan, my fall from the yardarm took me to the deck rather than the open sea."
: "So you were a sailor?"
: "I forswore the sailor's life shortly thereafter."
: She has never asked him about his history before. It never occurred to her that he had one.
: "As a youth, one tends to wander from one enthusiasm to another. One of those was the ocean, yes."
: "And the other ones?"
: "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. I'm just curious."
: "Nothing of note, my lady. Some artistic entanglements in Ilium; a brief career as a shop manager."
: "I came to realize that the most ennobling occupation is the service of nobility."
: "Never wealth, my lady; do not make that error of equation."
: She nods.
: "Or you'd be in Andragar, I guess."
: "You will forgive me if I suspect that the von Adler line has a certain great merit yet to be fully revealed."
: "And to be quite frank, Andragar has much of nobility as well; simply not, shall we say, of the right type."
: "Is that what you think Emil is chasing after?"
: "I cannot speak as to the young master's intentions."
: "I am certain that we will gain some insight when we encounter him."
: "That's confidence."
: "What is the 'right type,' Godfrey?"
: "My small survey of the world's history makes it apparent to me that true freedom comes from within, not from one's government."
: "For what is a government but a collection of masters?"
: "What does that have to do with nobility?"
: "Lest I sound like an anarchist, let me assure you that the greatest freedom is the freedom to serve."
: "And the greatest exercise of that freedom is to serve a worthy master, one whose goals coincide with one's own free choice."
: Renate thinks about that for a bit.
: "Thus, those who are truly noble are those who make good masters -- who support, with their 'commands,' their servants' own needs and desires."
: "I guess I'm not doing real well on that score so far, huh?"
: "You would do well to study the politics and government of Andragar. You will learn much about government, and how to extract the full potential of a people."
: "You will also learn much about true freedom, if only by indirection."
: "Because they don't have it? Is that what you mean?"
: "I believe that they do not. And yet from the heart of that nation comes some of the greatest and most subversive art in the world."
: "This is a paradox I have not fully resolved."
: "Man. Godfrey, I am a big dope sometimes. I didn't realize you thought about things like this."
: "If the art were hidden and repressed, I would think it simply the result of repression; but the government itself encourages art critical of the government."
: "Andragar is a puzzle, one that perhaps you can assist me in solving some day."
: "Well, my lady, I do keep my own counsel for the most part."
: "Well, Aaron encourages me to beat the heck out of him, even though sometimes I hurt him."
: "More often the other way 'round, of course."
: "Such is the root of my confusion. If Dark Eternal is of the same mettle as Aaron Wrenfall, then all the world would do well to become part of Andragar."
: "But I cannot believe that this is the case."
: "I, um, don't know enough to say."
: "I don't know, though. In a way, I'm freer than anyone I know."
: "But here I am in the Patchworks, noplace I want to be, carrying a sword I don't want to carry, looking for three pieces of junk I don't care about -- I don't feel free at all!"
: "Freedom is difficult," Godfrey says, gazing at the horizon, where distant dragons circle lazily.
: A common sight in Northrock.
: "No. Really?"
: "And what's more, I don't see why you're chasing all over the Patchworks with me, either."
: "Obviously you think Papa's noble -- and I agree with you; he is -- but, well, I'm not real stuck on myself right now."
: "So all I can figure is that I'm Papa's daughter."
: "June Ylantic served Seven Spear Kane for seventeen years of dissolution and misrule; and in the eighteenth year, the monarch achieved enlightenment, and brought his people into a golden age."
: "Seventeen years, huh."
: "Long time to wait."
: "And no guarantees."
: "There's no guarantee that a pebble will fall if one drops it; yet, through the will of God, the pebble will always fall."
: "Because that's what pebbles do. Aren't people a little more complicated than that?"
: "Yes; and so the crux of the matter is determining 'what people do.'"
: "I mean, look. I had a problem, and I tried to make Coris solve it for me, and when you tried to show me how to solve it for myself I just balked."
: "That's about as noble as pond scum."
: "Ah. Then you were planning to leave the town and return home?"
: "Well, no."
: "I had to get to Hyuri somehow."
: "Then I need say no more."
: "Right. I just said it. I tried to back out of a fight that was no one's but mine."
: "Because I was scared."
: "Fear is of neutral morality. You persevered; that is the fact at issue."
: "Well, that's kind of a funny thing."
: "I didn't. Not really."
: "Somebody named Emilia Eaglebourne marched in and did it all for me."
: "I swear, Godfrey, that's what it felt like."
: "True freedom is the freedom to be who you will."
: "I liked being Emilia. I mean, aside from Hyuri smashing my collarbone to fragments."
: "People took her seriously."
: "I mean, when they weren't making up stupid songs about her."
: "And she talks like something out of a book, I don't know how."
: "I have found that most people are too complex for a single face to express."
: "Consider my brief sailing career, for example. Is there room for a roustabout sailor in Godfrey Cuyler?"
: "I submit that there is not."
: "I guess you showed a face or two I hadn't seen before in Larkspur, at that."
: "Purveyor of dirty jokes."
: "And they'd better not have been about me."
: "Rest assured."
: "Not that I didn't walk into it, talking about how I learned to fight blind."
: "I was so focused on the fighting, I didn't even realize what I said until that idiot baronet started laughing."
: "Only the coarsest mind could have coaxed the slightest impropriety from your words, my lady."
: "Hm. I guess you don't consider the Baronet a paragon of nobility, eh, Godfrey?"
: "A paragon of privilege, most certainly."
: "How is that different from wealth?"
: "Privilege is the exercise of power without responsibility."
: "It can arise from noble birth, wealth, or both."
: Renate stores that away.
: "All right, I think I'm starting to get where you're coming from."
: "Been pretty privileged until now, haven't I?"
: "Until now, you have had no responsiblities to meet."
: "And, having responsibilities, you are meeting them."
: "Don't say that too fast. We haven't gotten any of the four treasures back yet."
: "The town of Vundamar, where Miss Durai was last seen, is at the end of the day's trail. With luck, we will encounter her there."
: "Yeah, well, she seems to move pretty fast. But quit changing the subject on me. It's annoying."
: "I beg forgiveness."
: "Let's say, for the sake of argument, that a little of what I did in Larkspur showed some real nobility."
: "Forget it."
: "I don't see how I could have done what I did if I hadn't grown up what you call 'privileged' first."
: "So can there be nobility without privilege?"
: "In the Second Age, the peasant farmer Alain de la Bruyere rose from near-slavery to unify all the dark elf nations."
: "All right, point."
: "But don't the privileged have kind of a head start?"
: "Their advantage is a life of leisure and resources. This can allow education and training..."
: "Well, yeah, that's what I'm saying."
: "...but can also lead much more easily to a sense of entitlement, and a life of debauchery."
: Renate looks troubled.
: "I, um, bet you knew about that night Emil got in right before sunup, huh?"
: "It's my doing Papa didn't find out."
: "I reserve judgment as to the result of Emil's lifestyle. He has learned things in his entertainments."
: "I didn't know that."
: "Don't tell me; it's none of my business."
: "I simply mean that in conversing with the people of Karlbotel, he may have come to understand their lives better."
: "I guess he didn't think much of it."
: Renate thinks about what she knows of how her father's people live.
: It isn't much.
: "Is that why he left?"
: "I cannot guess."
: "Well, if you were expecting it, you must have some kind of guess!"
: "I still can't believe everybody knew it was coming but me!"
: "And, um, Papa, I guess."
: "You would do best to speak to Emil yourself, my lady. I can only surmise that he wished to avoid both the privilege and the responsibility of rulership."
: "But -- he -- I don't know."
: "It seems to me that some people don't have the luxury to find their freedom from within, Godfrey."
: "Or I wouldn't be in the middle of the damn Patchworks chasing after a stupid harp."
: "Indeed... another reason to study Andragar."
: "Huh? I don't follow."
: "Their education system determines the most appropriate profession for each citizen."
: "Each person is well suited to his work; but his decision has not come from within."
: "Huh? How do they know?"
: "A battery of tests, I believe, as well as reports from teachers."
: "And what if they do it for a while and don't like it any more?"
: "I believe that they are permitted to try a career of their own choice, on probation; if they succeed at it, they remain."
: "I know little more than these basics, however."
: "But, look, it's still not quite the same thing."
: "They do it because they're told to. They don't care about who's doing the telling, or what comes of what they do."
: "But -- uh-oh, it's starting to rain -- but I'm here because I love Papa and I love Emil. It's different."
: "I would advise you to visit Andragar and speak with the people there. Many of them are deeply devoted to Dark Eternal."
: "Well, all right then."
: "Maybe it's not different."
: "I am informed that the dragon rulers walk among their people and discuss the problems of the day."
: "The same occurs in Ilium, of course."
: "Even Noble Amethyst in Xanadu tours a different neighborhood each week."
: "So Hyuri's kind of weird, for a dragon."
: "Not that Hyuri wasn't just plain weird."
: "All dragons are 'weird.' Very little unifies the race."
: "I suppose you've made a study?"
: "When do you have time to read?"
: "I sleep only a few hours each day, so I spend most evenings in study."
: "Really? Is that just the way you are, or did you train yourself?"
: "Come to think of it, I guess you'd have to not sleep much. Or Emilia wouldn't have had much of a reputation."
: "The question of essence versus experience is as old as philosophy, my lady."
: "I'm not asking for a generality, Godfrey. I'm asking about your case specifically."
: "But I guess I don't need to know."
: "Just curious, again."
: "I can't believe you've been like this the whole time and I didn't know!"
: "You're really a neat guy, Godfrey."
: "I had the good fortune to receive an introduction to the order of Tharazos while living in Ilium. Although I did not join the order, I was convinced by them of the intrinsic value of knowledge."
: "Wow. Why didn't you join? If you don't mind telling me."
: "A life dedicated entirely to study did not appeal to me. One must use knowledge as well as obtain it."
: She nods. "I can see that. Like only fighting with practice dummies."
: "Quite so."
: "So what are you doing running around the Patchworks with me?"
: "What do you get out of it, I mean."
: "Get? I spoke of no reward."
: "It is a duty that I meet gladly."
: "No it's not. You didn't have to come."
: "And I don't think you do very much at all out of just duty."
: "So what are you doing riding through a rainstorm?"
: "I am wishing I had thought to purchase a few umbrellas during my last trip to the city."
: He has already produced oilskins, at least.
: "You're changing the subject again."
: "If you're not going to tell me, just tell me you're not going to tell me."
: "I have told you as much as I know, my lady. You must choose how much to believe."
: "I recommend you believe it all."
: "I know you're not lying to me."
: "Not that I'm real good at telling when people are lying."
: "But it still doesn't make any sense. And I like it when things make sense."
: "But I guess things in general just quit making sense as soon as Emil rode away."
: "I tell you what, though."
: "I think you've just got a mad, burning passion for Emilia Eaglebourne."
: "'Where rulers and Powers despair, God plans.'"
: "You can't know that."
: "Maybe nothing makes any sense."
: "It is an expression of hope."
: "Allow me to quote Noble Diamond, when he transcribed poetry of the Time of Wandering."
: "The year's at her spring; And the day's at the morn; Morning's at seven; The hillside's dew-pearled..."
: This is actually quite a familiar verse.
: "The lark's on the wing; The snail's on the thorn; God's in his heaven; All's right with the world."
: "Even amid wars and bloodshed, Noble Diamond dropped thousands of copies of that poem by air on friend and foe alike."
: "Hope springs eternal, as they say."
: "Then why are you so down on Andragar?"
: "And what are you doing riding through the pouring rain when you could be home in Karlbotel thinking everything's just peachy?"
: "Because hope by itself is only a concept. It must inspire action, not prevent it."
: "Says who?"
: "When the Great Lord forged all the evils of the world from the iron thighbone of the True King, Raphael's single tear of sadness became Hope."
: "It is our only weapon; and like all weapons, it must be wielded by one of strength and, dare I say, nobility."
: Renate is silent (thank heaven!) for a long minute.
: "I'm not sure what to hope for, Godfrey," she says finally, rather miserably.
: "You will travel, as we all do, from hope to hope on the wings of necessity."
: "Doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun."
: "It is not."
: "Yeah. I guess. I think Emilia's better at it than I am."
: "Right now if you held up one of those little bottles like Coris had, and told me if I drank it I'd die and be taken back to Karlbotel and forget not just a day, but *everything* for the last month or so -- I'd drink it in a hot minute."
: "Not exactly noble."
: "Unfortunately, you'd recover from your trance wondering where Emil had gone."
: "Well, a year, then. For one of Mama's quilts and one of Beanie's backrubs -- man! Just as well it's raining, or you'd have to watch me crying."
: "Does Emilia cry?"
: "I would not be surprised if she did; although under more operatic circumstances."
: She chuckles. "Yeah, probably."
: "The destruction of a city, perhaps, right before cutting a dragon in half with a newly-invented technique born of desperation."
: "Wow. Yeah, that would do it. I hope I don't ever find out."
: "Not likely. As if I'd ever be able to cut a dragon in half."
: "I couldn't even draw blood on Hyuri."
: "You'd need a larger sword, at any rate."
: "I would think! One too heavy to even lift."
: "Or perhaps you could lure him into a sawmill."
: "Kinda noisy."
: "A spell of silence, perhaps."
: "Somebody other than me. I don't do magic."
: "He'd have to be a really stupid dragon."
: "Dragons can be defeated most easily by cooperation, one would think."
: "Oh, here we go. Emilia Eaglebourne and her man Godfrey Cuyler, out to take down a dragon!"
: "Sorry, don't quite see it."
: "I went hunting once. I believe I remember how to hurl a bola."
: "Once." Renate shakes her head.
: "I doubt my aim would be sufficiently true."
: "I would guess not. Sorry, Godfrey."
: "Your talents lie elsewhere than dragon-slaying."
: "Believe me, I wouldn't trade 'em for anything."
: "Very good, my lady."