03 November 2037
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John Crowley Daniel McMurran

John: Hm?
Daniel: Nothing.
John: Alright.
Daniel: This whole situation is positively perpetually perfectly preposterously amusing.
John: Let me in on the cosmic hilarity.
Daniel: Well, let me tell you- That the guy who liked me least while I was alive is the only person who keeps me actively in his thoughts while I'm dead.
John: Is that really funny to you?
Daniel: In a morbid sort of way. Also that I'm slowly losing my sanity.
John: That's not funny.
Daniel: It sort of is.
John: No, it isn't.
Daniel: "But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." "How do you know that I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
John: You haven't gone down the rabbit hole yet.
Daniel: Oh, haven't I? I mean, I'm basically you.
John: What do you mean?
Daniel: I don't experience anything here but your experiences.
John: You have your own memories, though.
Daniel: Yes.
John: So you have your own experiences.
Daniel: Yes.
John: Of course you're not going to experience much here. This is Limbo, isn't it?
Daniel: Yes.
John: Adjoined to the field of sighs.
Daniel: What?
John: The land of Nod.
Daniel: Sure.
John: So, Virgil. Which ring are we going to explore tonight?
Daniel: This isn't Hell.
John: Certainly not, though the field of sighs was present in Dante's Inferno.
Daniel: I haven't read that particular book.
John: I'm referring to this place, and the one adjoining to it as purgatory.
Daniel: Hell and Limbo are connected?
John: It's the first circle, according to Virgil.
Daniel: Hm. And I tried to be a good person.
John: Limbo isn't hell proper, so to speak. Think of it as… decaffeinated Heaven. Secondhand heaven.
Daniel: Alright.
John: Though the limbo described in the book is much more promising than this.
Daniel: What's it like?
John: Green fields, and a castle where the wisest men live. The chief principle of it is that they cannot hope to achieve something greater than the human mind can rationally conceive.
Daniel: I see. Sigh. This is just a crossroads… A waiting room…
John: There's a war going on. You may find yourself reclining on clouds sooner than you'd think.
Daniel: I don't wish for you to die to end my suffering.
John: I know. I'm just saying that it's a possibility. A likely one, really.
Daniel: Don't say that or I'll be angry with you.
John: I'm not saying it out of any nihilism, believe me.
Daniel: Don't say it's realism or I'll be angry with you.
John: It's rationalizing. When a battle comes around that I'm needed in, I'll fight. I'm just another man in a sea of men. No more invulnerable than the next. Put shortly, people die. I'm a people, so I'm just as likely.
Daniel: Optimism.
John: Hm?
Daniel: Accepting death… You might as well be in the grave.
John: To be optimistic… I'm quite capable, and I have no intention of dying any time soon.
Daniel: That's better.
John: And it's likely that death will have to drag me off to my final 'reward' kicking and screaming if it comes too early for my liking.
Daniel: Heh.
John: You know I'm stubborn as hell. Sometimes all it takes is a will to live in order to keep living.
Daniel: Dying's awful.
John: I think I know.
Daniel: Hm?
John: I was laying in my basement, cold, alone, and barely able to breath for what felt like forever. I wanted to call out for someone, anyone to come down there to find me, but I couldn't. I was dying, I think. That was a long time ago, though.
Daniel: It's cold… You lose all your senses…
John: … Nods a little.
Daniel: And its painful being separated from your body. Not really physically, but it's a sort of mental anguish. Then you're alone. And inevitable.
John: It's going to happen eventually to everything.
Daniel: Maybe it's nice for old people who've accepted death and die in their sleep satisfied and go to Heaven.
John: We… I mean, you, were still young.
Daniel: And the dying was slow and painful.
John: … Nods again.
Daniel: Sigh.
John: …I suppose I should be glad that Virgil's writings are fiction. Otherwise I'd have acrid smoke to deal with at death.
Daniel: Mm-hm.
John: There's optimism for you right there.
Daniel: You…
John: …me?
Daniel: You.
John: …I should clarify. I forgot that you didn't read the book.
Daniel: Clear.
John: Purgatory, in Virgil's book, was for those who were 'virtuous', but had sin that they essentially needed to be purified of. Sins that were caused by perverted love. The wrathful are purged by smoke. Learning how wrath and anger has blinded their vision and impeded their judgement.
Daniel: Clear
John: Clear?
Daniel: Clarity and purity.
John: What about them?
Daniel: They're both clean and clear.
John: They are.
Daniel: And purge is to cleanse or purify.
John: Indeed. And?
Daniel: From purus 'pure' and agare 'make'.
John: Silence.
Daniel: And purgatory from purgare. A means of cleansing.
John: Nods.
Daniel: Words are fun.
John: They are.
Daniel: I know you're excited.
John: I like learning.
Daniel: Did you know exciting originally meant 'causing disease'?
John: I could believe it. Since it still means 'to cause'.
Daniel: Gelyfan.
John: Bless you.
Daniel: That means 'believe'.
John: In what?
Daniel: West Saxon
John: I may as well be at night school.
Daniel: Originally from ga-laubjan which meant "hold dear".
John: Listens!
Daniel: From 'leubh', "to like!" Like 'lub', right? Haw.
John: Heh. You're just leaking information out of your every orifice.
Daniel: Sorry.
John: Don't be. I like learning. I really do.
Daniel: Related to 'sore'.
John: Grins and listens once more.
Daniel: Can also mean 'very'.
John: Heh.
Daniel: I don't think I'd have made a very good professor.
John: Maybe not, but you still have a lot of knowledge, I think… Hm.
John: You used to be an archerer, right?
Daniel: An archerer?
John: Someone who used a bow with skill. Archer, I should say.
Daniel: From arcus 'bow'. Shaped like an arch. And yes, I was an archer. Why?
John: Show me how you would fire. As if you were holding a bow.
Daniel: … Does so.
John: Ever heard of iron sight shooting?
Daniel: …no.
John: Unless Daniel has already done so, gets down on one knee, the other foot still 'standing'.
Daniel: Watches.
John: Iron sight shooting is using this position to stabilize your body so unforeseeable twitches, or just eventual wandering lessens.
Daniel: I see.
John: Mimes drawing back a bowstring. Always make sure to fire with the sun at your back if you're firing high. Hard to see an arrow when it's dropping from the sun, so to speak.
Daniel: Uh-huh.
John: Sorry. You taught me a few things, so I wanted to try my hand at returning the favor.
Daniel: He-he. Grins a bit. Why, Old English, hwi, instrumental case of hwaet or 'what' from proto-Germanic kwhi from proto-indo-european qwei, locative of qwo or 'who' to compare with Greek pei or 'where'.
John: Grins. Two rows of ten. Ten in front, ten in back, each odd man being the one in back. When the front row fires a volley, they should roll, or retreat, depending on the position taken, to the sides of their comrades in the back row, while they move forward to fire. While one row fires, the other row reloads, eliminating, or at least lessening the pause between each volley. I'm sorry that my musings aren't as informative, or interesting.
Daniel: That's not true. Ultimately derived from dru or tree.
John: True is derived from dru, or tree?
Daniel: Proto-indo-European. Steadfast as an oak.
John: I would have likened it to being compared to the tree of truth, or knowledge which bore the forbidden fruit.
Daniel: Well, 'deru' means 'oak'. The importance of the oak in mythology is reflected in the recurring use of words for 'oak' to mean 'tree'. Especially the cross and gallows.
John: Nods, mulling that over for a moment. The objective of war is almost never the total elimination of the enemy. Too much of a drain on resources, and the problem of occupying the land could arise. Almost always the goal in war is simply to cause the other side to give up. Send enough young men and women back home, either dead or maimed, and the other side begins to think that they may not have the chance to win. The true objective is just that. Make the enemy believe it cannot win, even if it isn't true. Making the enemy surrender allows the conquerors to know the lay of the land better by exploiting the knowledge of the locals. Any foreign or exotic trades that the locals of the region know of can be learned, or they can be put to work in cultivating the resources that were desired in the first place. This also leads to the ability to expand the conqueror's numbers via conscripted forces.
Daniel: Most words for "personal enemy" also cover "enemy in war", but certain languages have special terms for the latter, such as Latin hostis, which originally meant 'stranger'. Grin. Though distinct from inimicus or in 'not' and amicus 'friend'.
John: Chuckles.
Daniel: Hostile, of course, meaning of or belonging to an enemy.
John: Of course.
Daniel: With 'host' meaning 'army'. Also from hostis. Of course, host, meaning someone who receives guests is actually from Latin hospitem meaning either guest or host, literally "lord of strangers" from proto-indo-european ghostis or stranger.
John: I somehow think that is the root word for hospital.
Daniel: Late Latin hospitale or "guest house". And, of course, hospitality.
John: Nods.
Daniel: Fascinating your pants off.
John: You wish. It is interesting though.
Daniel: Elijah hated me for this. Laughs.
John: Not everyone likes dead language studies.
Daniel: Whenever he asked me what a word meant I'd ask him, 'What does it sound like?'. Anyway, he learned to use a dictionary… or his mom.
John: Heh heh.
Daniel: English really is a horrible cluster-you-know-what of languages.
John: Indeed. A mutt.
Daniel: Makes it interesting. I'd have liked to learn more Asian languages, though.
John: I'd have liked to learn another language period.
Daniel: Learn Spanish.
John: Maybe when I have some time freed up.
Daniel: Or just learn Latin, even if it's dead, it's dead useful.
John: It's the root of over 70% of western language, I believe.
Daniel: Yup. You'll have a good handle on the Romance languages.
John: I'll sign up for nightly Daniel classes, heh.
Daniel: Ha. Could always practice your Spanish with Jessica.
John: I'd like that… but as I said, there is a lot I have to do yet.
Daniel: Though she speaks more, uh… Spanglish.
John: A little out of practice?
Daniel: It's more sort of a… dialect, I guess you would say.
John: Like cockney?
Daniel: Sort of like that. Yeah.
John: Something about Ernest knowing more languages than me irks me, on the topic of learning languages that is.
Daniel: How many does Ernest know?
John: Two.
Daniel: What are they?
John: English and Esperanto.
Daniel: …why does he know that?
John: He learned it with Eugene when he exchanged into our school. Why he learned it, I have barely a clue.
Daniel: Laughs. Well, practice your Italian with the doctors and your French with Ren.
John: Laughs. And all the while I can tell them about the strategical nuances of holding a pass.
Daniel: Yup. If my dad was around you could practice German with him.
John: Speaking of passing, it's a shame about Hana. Did you see?
Daniel: Nope. What happened to him?
John: He committed suicide.
Daniel: Are you for serious?
John: I am.
Daniel: why?
John: I don't know. He didn't leave a note behind.
Daniel: Aww… He was awesome to talk to.
John: He sure was.
Daniel: I know you didn't like him.
John: I didn't like how he spoke about Adam. He was otherwise alright. It's too bad he's not with his father now.
Daniel: I guess so.
John: It really is.
Daniel: It's sad if he didn't think he had anybody.
John: He doesn't now. Nothing really has changed.
Daniel: Shrugs. Sometimes people need love most when they deserve it the least.
John: I never said he didn't deserve it…
Daniel: I know.
John: I.. hm…
Daniel: What?
John: I wish I could have saved him.
Daniel: Hm?
John: He didn't deserve to feel alone, to the point where living was a burden.
Daniel: Sometimes it helps to show some compassion to others. Even if they show none to you.
John: I know. I tried to be kinder to him, at least when I saw him. Which wasn't often, really.
Daniel: You can't save every lost soul.
John: No, but I would like to, I think. Mine was saved, after all.
Daniel: No offense… but I don't know if that's in your nature. You certainly love your family very deeply but… outside of that… And there's nothing wrong with that.
John: I'm inclined to agree.
Daniel: You've got your own problems to worry about. Which include your family's problems.
John: Indeed. Tomorrow… or today. Time is vague to me here, I can hopefully put into motion my plan to solve one of these problems.
Daniel: What's that?
John: Finding a way to rescue Vladora.
Daniel: You know every plan of yours has to have the Daniel Johnathan McMurran Seal o' Approval. Grin.
John: Very true. Chuckles.
Daniel: So let's hear it.
John: It hinges somewhat on the cooperation of the Angels, our very own general Janis, Adam, and the Demons themselves. If Adam relayed my suggestions to Janis and they went ahead with the guerrilla warfare tactic on the demons, which the point of is not to engage the enemy, but to harass and impede their ability to make a defensive bulwark out of Elf Haven.
Daniel: Uh-huh.
John: If they have, then that needs to continue. This will be helped if Adam agrees to contact the Angels of Himmel, with a request of a small group of their soldiers. Once more, not to directly fight the enemy. If they can fly and shoot arrows, then they are to be positioned as high as they can while still maintaining an effective shot, and fire down at the demons from above, their position should always rest with their backs to the sun. The first sign of reliable retaliation should be retreat. Should mean retreat, that is. The main objective is as mentioned before, to keep the demons from making a defensive bulwark out of Elf Haven. After awhile, that is, if there is a noticeable increase, or decrease of the enemy presence in Elf Haven, phase two takes place. If there is an increase, the soldiers have to come from somewhere, most likely Holle. If they are sending more soldiers into Elf Haven, that means less are at Holle. If that is the case, false information needs to be leaked to the enemy of a campaign to assault the demons at Elf Haven to reclaim it. If they take the bait and find the place as valuable as I suspect, they may just send more units there. The key is to lessen the enemy presence at Holle, even if it means increase the presence at Elf Haven for the time being. If and when the numbers thin enough at Holle, I believe Elijah, and perhaps also Demitrius, could retrieve Vladora, considering that they'll have two allies on the inside.
Daniel: Y'know Demons can fly and ride Glinters, too.
John: Hm. That is a good point. Where are you going with that?
Daniel: Well, the flying Angels and arrow shooting bit.
John: Yes, true. That would then hinge on how many Glinters they have active at Elf Haven and Holle. Perhaps they should be vandalized.
Daniel: Glinters are a bit hard to bang up. I mean, yeah, you could fly and crash 'em but that'd be a bit of a suicide mission.
John: Hm. Perhaps the Angel bit can be excised then until I can think of a way to disable the Glinters. Perhaps I could ask Nathaniel that bit.
Daniel: Nod. So what if Price starts the war in earnest once Vlad's gone?
John: I'd thought of that. I think that if Price had wanted to start the war in earnest, he would have by now. It's kind of obvious by losing Elf Haven that we don't have the forces to really oppose him, at least with the kingdoms being separate forces. I think he knows that, but he either wants to lessen his own losses, or he doubts himself in that aspect, and doesn't want to chance a military onslaught until victory is assured.
Daniel: Hmm. Seems like he's sorta playing with you.
John: Perhaps. I am attempting to match wits with a being that is most likely a millennium older than myself. It makes me wonder if Vladora is integral to one of his plans, or if he's just a feint.
Daniel: It seems to me like… He knows you don't have the forces to oppose him and you're holding out on waging war until you're ready to… So, in the meantime, he's going to ask you for what he wants… like Vladora, in your desperation for time… or he's just going to take what he wants… like Elf Haven knowing you won't oppose him… As though giving him Vladora assured him that you were indeed desperate for time.
John: Hm… That is true, even though we gave him Vladora in return for Elijah and Fate's soul, not time. Showing that we were willing to negotiate did indeed show weakness, though.
Daniel: Well, you do need time… I mean, if he had started war then, you'd have probably lost.
John: That's also true. That's why I'm hoping our spies can be effective in causing dissension in the ranks. At the best, they can cause infighting, and at the least they can retrieve information. It would also be nice to know what the other kingdoms, and the Angels plan on doing about this conflict.
Daniel: The thing being that Price seems like less of a threat than Lonan and Lucifer, probably, and they're getting a bit tired of war.
John: Price is, and he isn't. Seems like so far he's feeding on their underestimation, when he's already proved formidable. I remember generals being assassinated by Elijah under his order, if my memory can serve. And regardless of if they're tired of war or not, if everyone doesn't muster up all they can, we'll all most likely die. Well, not really. I'm guessing most will be slaves.
Daniel: Nods.
John: While that's all very stirring, I should probably leave this to Janis and the other generals.
Daniel: Yep. Though you'll make a good general someday.
John: Shrugs. If I live to see the end of this war, I'll probably retire. If not sooner.
Daniel: How come? You're young. You'll get bored
John: Future's a strange thing. Maybe I won't retire. Maybe I'll never become a general. Who knows? Still have plenty of self doubt as is. Might need to work through that first.
Daniel: Think you'd just feel happier if you got through the next nine months with you and Jess in piece.
John: I would… Laughs. Hope things turn out alright. Not sure if I can get through all of this without Jessica, to be honest with you.
Daniel: I really doubt you could.
John: I'm not quite as strong as she is.
Daniel: She probably thinks the opposite.
John: It's too bad that I'm actually right on this occasion.
Daniel: Because she got over me.
John: Precisely.
Daniel: Sigh. I guess that shouldn't, uh… Eh, never mind.
John: Please, go on.
Daniel: I meant I guess that shouldn't… bother me. Make me unhappy.
John: I understand that it would. At least as best as I'm able to understand without being in your place.
Daniel: I mean, it'd suck if she was just a pile of gloom because I was dead…
John: Because you love her, you would want her to move on and be happy. Yet, seeing her happy without you is at the same time disheartening.
Daniel: It's not really that… It's just… Well, her being sad would mean she was thinking of me… But otherwise, I can't tell if she is or not. And if she can get along with her life fine and happily, then did she ever really need me at all? Or did she just need a guy.
John: Perhaps it is that last one. I'm at the point where even if she broke down and confessed that she just needed someone there to support her and that she only truly loves you, that I'd stay by her side regardless.
Daniel: …I think she loves you… But then it's just that you're so different from me.
John: Hm… Thought that she could only love someone similar to you? That you were a unique combination of traits, the only combination brought together that could win her over?
Daniel: No… but if she did fall in love with someone similar to me, that would sort of mean she needed me.
John: Perhaps after your death, her needs changed.
Daniel: But then…
John: But then she wouldn't need you?
Daniel: No… Well… yes… I mean… but then… seeing you and Jessica interact… it's very different from how Jessica and I interacted… Or rather, how she acts around either of us.
John: How does it seem to you?
Daniel: Thinks. Laughs a bit. It seems with me she's more like me and with you she's more like you… ah… ahm…
John: Perhaps she adapts?
Daniel: I joke around a lot… We'd get in a lot of arguments, but they were never serious… it was just joking or playing. So we'd joke around a lot. You're very serious, so she's very earnest around you. I only see her act silly around you very rarely and then she acts embarrassed about it.
John: That seems wrong to you, doesn't it?
Daniel: … Thinks. …does it seem wrong to you?
John: That wasn't the question… but no, really. I've always felt that she's been honest with me.
Daniel: Oh, I see what you were getting at. And I don't know. Jessica and I could be serious with each other as well. Which part did you think I thought was wrong? I don't think it's wrong at all if she's earnest with you.
John: Wrong may have been the incorrect way to put it. I was wondering if it seemed… Not like her.
Daniel: …which part?
John: How she is with me.
Daniel: I don't think she's just putting on an act to please you, if that's what you mean…
John: I didn't think so either, but I wanted to know your thoughts on it.
Daniel: I think she may suppress herself a bit around you.
John: And she didn't with you?
Daniel: I'm saying she wasn't embarrassed to act like an idiot in front of me. Because she knows I don't take things seriously. You take things seriously, so I could see why she might not want to be silly around you. It's not like a horrifying flaw in your relationship or anything.
John: I know. I just wanted your thoughts on it.
Daniel: I can't really tell you if it's a trust issue or not. Or if you'd even like Jessica being silly. Or if she's even silly around anyone but me.
John: She did construct a poem about velociraptor protection earlier.
Daniel: What?
John: …This stupid… thing that her nurse wanted us to go through. First we had to loosen up… then 'mouth' or tell your partner your most intimate secret. After that, we had to put our hand on our partner's stomach and send our… best intentions? Or thoughts… or something, to the child, and the last leg of it was to look deep into your partner's eyes and announce your love with a haiku.
Daniel: Okay…
John: …And she constructed a poem that expressed her wish for velociraptor protection.
Daniel: A haiku?
John: Maybe it wasn't a haiku, but it was pretty funny none-the-less… This is out of the blue, and off subject… but the curiosity just hit me. Why would you want me to continue on the martial path, so to speak?
Daniel: You seem to enjoy it and do well at it. I think you said it was your dream job.
John: In a way it is, in a way it isn't.
Daniel: Elaborate.
John: I do love a challenge. Low expectations, just as high, just push me to exceed them. However, in this case, there's a point where I'm simply out of my league. In the field I work in, that's actually quite often. Wherein being Human pretty much guarantees that there is little I can do to change that. Pushing myself past those limits could be seen as bravery, maybe. Though in the case that in most cases it'll require that I put my life on the line, it's not bravery to fight a battle you can't win. It's stupidity, and a waste at that.
Daniel: Mm-hm. But… I don't think it's simply a matter of physical or magical strength. It's mental strength, too. Intelligence. So even if you aren't the strongest warrior, you might have the best tactics. A general commands other men… It wouldn't necessarily be you who struck the finishing blow to Price, but you who came up with how to strike the finishing blow to Price.
John: Yes, and no. I'm not even equating this to Price, Daniel. What I'm saying is that I'm a guy who used to cut up dead animals. Putting my mind against beings who have been alive since perhaps the beginning of creation.
Daniel: I was just using that as an example…
John: It's a good example, albeit.
Daniel: And haven't you yourself called Metaron a dolt?
John: I did. Then I realized that she probably just has an agenda.
Daniel: Yes, they've been alive a lot longer, but they're not infallible. That's evidenced by Lonan and Lucifer being defeated.
John: Yes. But not by Humans.
Daniel: In Lonan's case… by his own weakness. Even if it was just by chance… that he thought himself Elijah's master and didn't calculate that his 'creation' could and would turn on him.
John: Even then, Elijah wasn't a 'Human' at that point, I believe.
Daniel: You're missing the point.
John: You might be missing mine. I know they're not infallible beings, and that they can be beaten, even if by their own hubris.
Daniel: Okay, then what's the problem?
John: It's the 'competition', so to speak. I have no problem with a challenge, but an insurmountable plateau is just that. Simply put, I don't measure up to the people that are handling things now, and it's not likely that I ever will.
Daniel: Explain why you don't think you measure up… I mean… Not that you're a butcher or whatever. Explain what the other people have over you. And who these other people are.
John: Being Human pretty much sums it up. I don't have the luxury of time to hone what ability I do have to perfection. Maybe fifteen years, twenty at most, since I'm feeling generous. I have this tendency to bleed when I'm cut, too.