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What can you do?

The mind can handle a lot, very quickly. Heuristics - how we put together the information around us, handling what little data we can manage and using that to extrapolate about the information around you - step in, taking an ocean and artfully winnowing it through a seive the size of a thimble.

"We take pleasure in the mundane things, giving our hands something to do while our minds think things."

The words of a maid who had lived her life working under the poverty line, making do with tips and offcuts, perks being a very real necessity for her existance. How many of the staff had been like her? How many people around him had had these fascinating ideas, these lives full of meaning and wonder and potential, crushed out of them by the simple fact that nobody listened to them?

He wasn't thinking straight. He was flying straight - moving like a bullet from a gun, towards his goal. Stupid defiler wanted - oh, geeze, now he was using that word too - wanted complete radio silence. So now, here he was, operating on a deadline, working when he knew what he should be doing.

He wanted to take her into his arms, hold her close, and simply let her cry.

What can you do?

She spoke with simple factualness; she spoke of being used, of the kind of simple lock-step abuse that only the truly heartless can visit upon another because they simply don't care. She clearly thought about it. She clearly knew. And that made it all the more wretched. What he had seen her do, who he had seen her best, it was... enlightening. Amazing. She was power incarnate, stronger even than Agony, stronger now than he thought he'd ever become. The air ripped past him as his thoughts began to mirror his motions. Burning away chaff, focusing on purpose. Killing Longbow was easy; pushing thoughts and fears out of his mind, he let that burning point intensify.

He could try and kill this other person. But that was the work of jealousy. Could he say, in all sincerity, that he did that thing, spoke that way, acted that way, because he didn't want to be in his place, and, for better or worse, do it differently? Could he put that aside?

Like a clarion the word rang back in his mind. Yes.

But murder wasn't the solution. The notion that he was talking about killing someone so far beyond himself in power and connections and that retaliation would likely be beyond brutal never entered his mind; he had no name, no identity, no anything, and yet he would find some way or another, with that inexorable patience that can push a marshmallow-soft mushroom through a six-inch concrete sidewalk.

Nor was the solution to offer an alternative - at least, not now. Maybe one day later - and that jealous part of him clung to that idea, wrapping hands tightly about it, and lurking in its quiet corner as it murmuringly sought to never forget it while the rest of him strove to. No. She didn't need a lover. Especially not one like... well, him.

What can you do?

She read of crime and criminals. She read biographies. She was clearly intelligent; there was no way she could not, somehow, know the way that people work, could not have seen her own situation played out again and again. And every time, when the court records pen down names and places and spoke of final and damning sentences, of refusals and denials and guilt, or when the media crucified half of the evil and let the rest walk free, there was always some moral pontificator, clucking his tongue and sighing and murmuring that colossaly arrogant phrase, "If only she'd had a better influence."

He fought back the bile rising in his throat. As if the problem was solved by some... irritating male leader figure, because, let's face it, that's what those preachers and paladins all thought, snickering behind their hands at the woman fallen with her lover-and-chains, they all wanted to say: "She needed a better man." And like so many, each fancied themselves that better man, taking delight in her downfall because it let them silence the crying inside them to walk alongside her.

The thoughts were an incandescent glow. He barely noticed as he rammed a seven-inch thorn through a ribcage, shearing it through flesh and throwing the disc of bone at another opponent to distract the hit. With the medical technology people had these days, chances are that his victims might even survive. Fury at injustice and indignity and... and... god, the unfairness of it all, flowed out of him, into his opponents, smashing and tearing with fervour and vigour that would have made the most machieavellian of terrorists proud.

Because, deep down, he felt guilty. The reason he noticed... the reason he knew about her at all was because she was pretty.

How much worse off could that other girl, the girl that he'd loaned his... gah, his teddy bear, be? She was plain; sparkling eyes clouded with rage at the time, but by and large, between the women in his life and the men as well, he had grown so acclimatised to the beautiful. If she, she had been plain, then he might never have known of this injustice. And was it really that bad?

Bone broke under his grip as he thought that.


He didn't even hear the scream. Think not of those you cannot help, or those you are not helping because you do not know; do not let those you can help fall aside because of those you cannot. These words burn into him, as resolution takes hold and the young man closes a fist, hearing only the footsteps of utterly terrified Longbow troops scattering behind him. He can't even remember the purpose of the mission - but it seems to be successful.

What can YOU do?

The air was cooling now. It had been a long day, and he had taken to a high altitude to dry out, after washing his clothes thoroughly. Blonde hair blew back out of his eyes as he flew into the last rays of the setting sun. The sunsets were nice here in Cap Au; probably due to all the smoke stacks.

Resolution was within him; he could not merely see what he wanted to do, but what he felt he should do. Because it was right. There was no need for pontification or resolution; no need to tell her what she needed to do, and no need to proffer advice like some kind of helper guru. No.

No, what was necessary here was simple. No white knight, charging in to lead her from the mire of her life. No black knight, to depose one horror and replace with another that was, secretly, far more caring - as if that somehow helped. Nor prince, nor pauper. A blossom such as this deserved freedom to bloom, and while its setting was not auspicious... it was nonetheless the one he could offer.

Hah. She was sitting there, once more, watching the market. Probably had far bigger issues on her mind; jousts with demideities, heroes and heroines to best in single combat, armies to fell.

What can you do? He wondered, one last time, feet meeting ground once more as he stepped up alongside her. The answer shot back as quick as an arrow, now, a day of thought between him and his initial rage.


"Hey," he murmured, stepping up alongside her, his hands in his pockets, a friend approaching a friend. "Do you like bowling?"

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