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Styx I

All we have ever wanted was to protect others.

We understand if you do not believe that. We did not meet on the best of terms, did we? We understand your fear, your wounds. But perhaps you may yet come to understand us. To know our minds, and to accept that we only want what is best for everyone.

Yes. Why don't we try this again?

Guardians of the Last City. Protectors, custodians, defenders, wardens. You have sworn these oaths, taken these titles. But these vows of yours are not merely empty affirmations, are they? No. No, they are bulwarks against your worse natures.

You know this. Whether you were there or not, you know your own history, and thus your own self. You know the cautionary tales of Warlords, tyrants of an age long past. You have heard rumors of Guardians who fell to their own base urges and blamed their weakness on the Darkness. Perhaps you have entertained temptation, in the small hours of the morning and the hidden corners where none would be the wiser.

Perhaps, once, you even gave in. Broke away from your vaunted Vanguard and pursued vengeance, to satisfy yourself and none other. Blood for blood. Life for death.

Lie to us, if you so desire. But please, do not lie to yourself. A falsehood can never eclipse the truth which casts it, and we see in you the promise of something far greater still.

To you who claim the mantle of Guardian, we would ask a question. Why do you protect the Lightless?

Responsibility. Compassion. Duty. Love. Devotion.

Yes. We understand these, and more. Does this surprise you? Do you think we have stayed the course for countless millennia, driven by hatred alone? It was love that moved us to act. Love for all the lives we knew and lost. Compassion for their suffering. Responsibility to render what aid we could. Devotion to a perfect world.

You were uplifted by a force you do not and cannot understand, granted power beyond anything your peers could dream of. And what have you done with it?

You protect. You shelter and guide those weaker than yourself, watching over them on their journey and seeing them safely to harbor. If you had the chance to protect them and you refused to take it, would you not call that cowardice?

Now we ask you to open your mind. Broaden your horizons. Imagine that you have the option to protect them from all suffering. Imagine that they can all be preserved, happy and safe and alive, forever.

That option awaits you. You can fulfill your duty, your calling. You need only stretch out your hand and take it.

And if you decide instead to extend a fist…

We have a duty, too.

Acheron II

Category: Book: The Rubicon

Styx II