Sunday, January 06, 2008

What Cannot Be Said

The Magistratum glowers down upon him. Heavily hooded, guised in dark robes that none might know them, the officers of the Arcanum are a law unto themselves. Not even the Hierophant, holy and distant, knows what they do. Sir Wolff has been here before, many times. He is inured to the scathing stares which he does not return. In his mind, he knows they cannot scratch his armour, and killing him is not an option.

You have spoken out against the Rule, Sir Wolff. We are gathered here to judge you.

He feels an odd frisson of hilarity. Of all attacks, this? He is tempted, very briefly, to act in a jocular fashion.

I have only spoken out against the rule, my lords.

Only? Only, you say? We note your confession with due diligence.

Wolff is still tempted, but he quells that sensation. The irony in the Grand Inquisitor's voice has not eluded him.

I have only spoken out against the rule of the Magistratum and not the Rule of the Order. Before you say any more, my lords, let me make my position clear. I am grateful that you are enlightened enough in the disciplines that the brothers of the Order have generally benefited under your care. I am glad to serve the Order, and if that means serving the Magistratum, so be it. I wield a sword I do not deserve, I am made a champion of things I have little love for, I eat the scraps from your table and ask not for more. Why, just the other day, I was asked for the fourth time if I would ascend to a higher seat! And I declined.

But I insist that we do not contend against other Orders or against the powers of the secular realm. We must speak truth to power and teach the brothers of the Order not only to be skilled, but as skilled as they can be. We can do more with less, my lords, and it does not make the states around us happy to see us lord it over them through gold and graft.

Enough. We are gathered here to judge you and not for you to judge.

Wolff tries hard not to smile. He reminds himself that these are dangerous people who have had him up on false charges before, attempted to terminate his career, and tried to disarm him...

We are here to discuss your unhealthy need to bruit about the knowledge that should remain sacred to the Order.

I have not revealed knowledge to others that they have not already known from your hand. For every fact which others know, I can account for it from your hands to the hands of others. Look to your own, Grand Lord of the Magistratum! If those you trust cannot keep secrets or keep the wrong secrets, while those you do not are faithful, whither goes the Order?

An air of simmering embarrassment fills the room. Judgement is suspended from the point of a sword. And Wolff, having inadvertently blurted out the truth, is suddenly satisfied that he did.

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