Beauty of War
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The book Beauty of War, standard reading material for students at the Circle of Steel, one of the six Tower of Learning in Soronne, is mentioned in Mel Odom's book The Sea of Mist, which plays several decades after Might and Magic Tribute.
It was written by Dellan, when he was magister of the Circle of Steel. Dellan is old but still alive in the game.
Only one citation is given by Mel Odom: Arrogance makes champions.
- On the Nature of War
- The Spark
- The Decision
- The Coin
- On the Actors of War
- The Warlord
- The Soldier
- The Enemy
- The Resources
- The Land
- On the Waging of War I: the Big Scope
- The Field
- The Time
- The Weather
- The Moment
- The Friction
- On the Waging of War II : the Small Scope
- The Battle
- The Spirit
- The Thought
- On the End of War
- The Conclusion
- The Survivor
- The Plunder
THE BEAUTY OF WAR
- A collection of teachings by Dellan, Magister of the Circle of Steel
1. ON THE NATURE OF WAR
1.1. The Spark
War, in all its beauty, is closely similar to fine timber. An apt metaphor would be the fine wood of faraway AvLee's Tularean Forest. The trees are sentient beings, with minds of their own. They surround us. They are rooted to the earth: they cannot choose to make unpredictable moves. In the end, the choice lies not with them, but with us - with the Warlord.
One of these trees must be ignited and reduced to ashes. The Warlord sets alight the tree of their choice. In doing so, they must take into consideration a number of factors. The tree must be isolated and distant from others. The tree must possess a moderate base and width. The tree must be significant, noticeable, yet expendable. And the spark which brings the cleansing, destructive flames must be delicately applied. Otherwise, the Tularean Forest will be engulfed in flames and quickly cease to exist. Chaos will follow. Innocents will perish. True honour will be vanquished. There is no Beauty in this wanton massacre.
These same rules apply to any War. Wars must be isolated and distant from needlessly potential victims. Wars must be worth fighting - there must be a goal in sight. Wars must be noticeable, the Enemy must be expendable. And the spark which sets into motion the Beauty of War must be delicately and carefully applied. Such a War will end in ashes, but it will be beautiful in its time, and it will not ignite other unnecessary conflicts.
1.2. The Decision
Decisions and choices compose the bulk of any true War. No conflict can take place without dilemmas, without paths to take devoid of blatant benefits or hindrances. Decisions true to the leader's mind herald progress: rash choices based upon whimsy and fleeting epiphanies yield only pain, suffering and defeat.
Eternal dissatisfaction is the reason for progress. If everyone were completely satisfied with life, there would be no incentive to improve it, and it is the nature of mankind that even when life is a bed of roses, there will always be some who complain about the thorns. But progress demands payment, and sometimes the price is high. Conflict is sometimes that price, but without it, one cannot truly appreciate peace and harmony. As the poet put it "Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas, ease after war, death after life doth greatly please." (alinea by Peter2)
1.3. The Coin
War is indisputably a game of two halves. However, it is decidedly unique in that there is no such thing as a draw. There is victory, there is defeat, there is surrender and there is annihilation. There are absolutes, but never pure equalities. A War is not a War if not fought to the death. A War is not a War if there is not a pure outcome to confront and accept.
The Coin is symbolic of this. Toss a gold piece into the air around you: watch it twinkle in the sun, see the harsh Soronne winds relinquish it and convey it most swiftly to the earth. What is the outcome? Which face embraces the dark ground, which face looks to the sky and sun? As the Coin spins in mid-flight, does it meet the earth at the same pace, or does the pace change with each throw? Most importantly - cast it into the air a hundred times. Out of all these hundred chances, these hundred throws - does ever it land equally upon its edge?
2. ON THE ACTORS OF WAR
2.1. The Warlord
The Warlord is a craftsman, a sculptor, an artist. Regardless of background, regardless of circumstance, it must possess a strong state of being, a flaming passion. The Warlord lives and breathes for the Conclusion of War, in search of that which War will bring. The Conclusion is a treasure trove, and War is the key. Victory is the hand which turns the key: defeat is the hand which fumbles the key, dropping it into an unseen abyss, never to return.
The Warlord is but one of the five actors of war, the protagonist in this game of skill and deception. The greatest asset and closest friend to the Warlord is the Soldier - the dealer of death. Second comes the Enemy, the antagonist, that which is to be undone. Third are the intricate Resources needed to move steadily towards victory. And finally, the Land - the site upon which War is played out. All these actors play out leading roles in the Theatre of War, the Theatre of Beauty, the place in which all combatants are tested.
2.2. The Soldier (by Ladob)
There are many kinds of soldiers, many kinds of souls, that fight. Their motives are the main tool which enable the Warlord to know where best to use each of them. They also enable the Warlord to know who can be a good general or officer and who is best for the field.
The fearless soldiers, who fight for revenge, hate, religious lust, or such similarly strong motives, are powerful in the field, for their morale will not fail and their bloodlust will spark fear in the enemy. Their self assurance is as a great an asset as a hindrance, for arrogance makes champions, but not leaders. Without the innermost fear which leads one to care for himself and the ones around him, the general won't perceive when a battle should stop, when to retreat, who to help. The Beauty of War lies also in ones feelings, the shades of red vengeance and grey cowardice are keys to the spectrum of victory.
2.3. The Enemy
Enemy, foe, opponent, adversary. These synonyms stand second to the truth: the one and only applicable word for this element of war is the Target - the goal towards which the game of war inevitably hurtles. Twinned sides upon the field strike towards one another, striking their living, breathing targets, akin to children at play.
Such a mindset may seem odd, even ludicrous, but this is the way of things beyond the illusions we conjure while grasping for logic. War is dramatic. To strive towards ending the Target is to strive towards certain victory. Regardless of their identity - whether denizen of Enroth or harbinger of the Underworld, whether spawn of Man or embodiment of nature's essence, the Target, the Enemy, remains the same. This indifference is the Beauty of War in full flow, for Death does not allow room for exception to his culling of life. As Death's dealers, one must abandon all notion of the Enemy as an equal, and look upon it as a Target which must be undone.
2.4. The Resources
Resources are paramount to success in war. Correct utilization of one's assets and tools is vital for victory. The successful Warlord realises the Resources they claim as not merely goods and supplies, products of mining such as ore or precious materials such as crystal, mercury and gemstones.
Resources are not confined only to material, inanimate things. They are also the living, breathing tools which allow the Warlord to achieve their goal. Steeds are Resources, Scholars are Resources, Spies and Seers and even Soldiers are Resources. A Resource is anything which can further the Warlord's journey to success and victory, and as with anything of value, they are not to be squandered. Resources are more than mere things to be expended without a sidewards glance. They are important and essential strands of the great tapestry which forms War and all its Beauty.
2.5. The Land
Land is the fifth actor of War. Though the largest in sheer area and size, it is not as significant as the other four. Nonetheless, it is as important as any other factor in waging a successful battle. Land determines much. The stage upon which War is played out can influence not only the battle itself, but also the eventual outcome.
Consider a multitude of non-abstract examples from history. The Wizard-Kings of Bracaduun, Antagarich's most ancient and glorious of empires, were felled at long last by those who originated from the land they claimed. The rebels did not require finery or arcane powers to overcome their oppressors. They relied only on their knowledge of the wastelands they inhabited. However, take also into account the War of Dove and Crow, a struggle between twin Churches. Though the Warlords of Shadowspire claimed an advantage due to their blighted lands, they could not bear the tide of Derico's overwhelming legions. The Land is always a factor, but rarely a deciding one.
3. ON THE WAGING OF WAR I: THE BIG SCOPE
3.1. The Field
At first glance one may consider the Field and the Land to be one and the same. This is false: the Land is an actor of War, an entity which makes choices and decisions based on those who tread its earth, while the Field takes another form. It is the first of the five components which form the Big Scope of War, the elements which test the Warlord's ability to appreciate the detail within Beauty.
The Field is a massive vault which encloses the Warlord and the Enemy. Both strive for success, both strive to use their assets and Resources to claim the key which offers the ultimate reward: release, conclusion and harmony. This is the Field in its glory, the point upon Enroth's vast and breathtaking landscape where Steel is drawn and Beauty is born. The Field houses the other elements which form the Big Scope of War: it is home to Time, abode of the Weather, dwelling of the crucial Moment and respite of Friction between warrior and leader.
3.2. The Time
A sense of Time alien to simple comprehension is rooted within War. Enroth defines Time as the passing of years within seasons months within days, as though it were a fruit with layers innumerable. War does not take this logical approach of infinite grades of temporal reality. War is eternal, War lasts as long as is necessary.
Within the heat of Battle, Time comes to a standstill. Within the heat of Battle, only four things matter: the Warlord, the Soldier, the Enemy and, most importantly, the Beauty. Death in Battle represents this truth: those whose lives are extinguished remain ever-youthful, ever silent shells of their former selves. Of equal import is the sense of Time a Warlord must appreciate and master when attempting to command successfully. The moment in which Battle commences is crucial - timing can cost much. When the Warlord's timing is inaccurate, they expose weaknesses and dim the Soldier's confidence.
3.3. The Weather
The real, physical, tangible elements of War lie in parallel with the five elements of Nature. First is the blistering Fire which purifies and destroys recklessly. Second is the treacherous Water which grants life and steals it away at will. Third is the dangerous, merciless and foul-tempered Air. Fourth is the Earth, which can both defend and imprison the body.
Fifth is the essence of Thought, which will be examined further. These five primordial elements encircle the core of the Beauty of War, all elements in the Big Scope. Take into consideration Fire's heat, Water's rain, Air's tempests and Earth's debris. Successful Warlords study and comprehend these factors, valuing these details with just as much regard as the livelihood of the Soldier, as the weakness of the Enemy. In doing so, the Warlord is prepared for every eventuality, for even the mightiest of Soldiers will grimace and lose heart if their leader slips upon the damp soil and plunges into mud, having overlooked this most vital of War's elements.
3.4. The Moment
The Moment at which to strike is known to all true Warlords. It comes only once War's reckoning of Time is understood and appreciated, yet when it is within reach - success, victory and harmony will swiftly follow. Accurate study in both mind and body, development of the intricacies of Battle - these trials instill the instinct in the Warlord to detect the Moment with pinpoint accuracy.
Living within the moment, as some say, is an apt application to the quality of the Big Scope. To those who achieve a perfect understanding of War, Time will bend in their favour: they will intercept the Enemy's actions, and strike back with redoubled vitality. The Moment is crucial: it can determine the difference between life and death, between valiance and disgrace, between victory and defeat. It is the most intricate detail of War, and among the most tide-turning. Warlords who fail to master the Moment will fail to master the Enemy.
3.5. The Friction
Friction is an act of War played out between two actors: the Warlord and the Soldier. The Enemy dances in the background, invisible, but present, thriving in the heart of the questioning Soldier and scorching the Warlord's trust. Friction between the actors of War is ever-present. It is a part which must be played out and resolved by both actors before the show can go on.
All good Soldiers ponder and question their leader's actions. All good Soldiers obey, when given good reason and cause to do so. The Warlord who seeks success understands and respects this, for it is a part of the Beauty of War integral. A Soldier will fight harder and perform with skill when given the light of understanding, as opposed to a Soldier who is left in the dark, confused and sightless. The Soldier will generate this Friction with the Warlord when necessary. Without the act of Friction, the Soldier takes no part in the Beauty of War, acting as a two-dimensional character, a Golem with no mind or soul to speak of.
4. ON THE WAGING OF WAR II: THE SMALL SCOPE
4.1. The Battle
The Battle is part of the smaller Scope of War, yet in essence it is the Scope of War incarnate. Battle cannot be done without War. War cannot progress forward without Battle. To the Theatre of War and its actors, Battle is the main event, it is the heart of the action, it is the soul of War itself.
Battle lies not only within the heart of the Land or the Field, but within the mental conflicts and decisions all Warlords are gruellingly forced to make. The Steel is not War's sole tool for conflict: War is also a Battle of wits, a test of will and ability to master the intricate components and elements deep below the surface. There Beauty lies, and there the taste of victory can soothe the Warlord, but this paragon of the act of War must first be played out and concluded. It is the show itself, it is the sacred hub in which passion, spirit and thought collide.
4.2. The Spirit
One must hold true to the Spirit of War. This is neither a rule absolute nor one of my teachings. It is a universal obligation to all who participate in War. Acting outside of the Spirit of War during such times is equivalent to dancing upon the Enemy's grave: to disrespecting the sacred, to disgracing glory and virtue.
The Spirit of War is synonymous with honour. Honour is a simple code. The white flag signifies surrender: consider and abide by it when presented. Innocents who mean no harm are to remain unharmed in turn. Torture and undue brutality are to be shunned and never practised by any Warlord. The Spirit's demands are not unreasonable. There are individuals who heed this Spirit as though it were a beacon of glory. Naturally, there are also those who despise the Spirit and seek specifically to ignore and violate it. They violate honour - they disgrace the Beauty of War itself.
4.3. The Thought
A Warlord's thought is immensely significant in War. Focus and concentration are fundamentals regardless of the Warlord in question. Take into consideration the many different types of Warlord. Physical might, supernatural magic and deadly espionage all require thought in some form or another.
The fierce Krewlish Barbarian relies on the brute strength of his armies in battle, yet even the most mindless of creatures engages in thought. In these cases, it is the reflexes which do the thinking as the Soldier fiercely drives their weapon into the Enemy. In contrast, the proud Sorceress of Noraston will depend upon more careful thought to overcome foes. Magic is an intricate pursuit, and thought is the most essential component of its relentless mystery. Even the Alvarian Longbowman who relies solely on reflex actions must be trained in discipline and focus before letting loose their piercing, life-taking arrow.
5. ON THE END OF WAR
5.1. The Conclusion
Now, bright students, we come at last to the Conclusion - the drawing of the curtain. The end of War. Those who live only for War's sake are blind individuals. They see not the reason for War itself. War is not a way of life, it is not a constant. It is a distraction, an art form, a means of entertainment and nothing more. That which War precedes - harmony - is the real reason to struggle.
Conflict exists so that harmony can follow. This is its reason for being. All Soldiers and Warlords struggle for a cause, a personal satisfaction. This harmony, this Conclusion, takes many forms. A Warlord who holds strong values and virtues wages war in order to protect and secure these beliefs. To a Warlord who revels in bringing about chaos and death, famine and destruction will follow in their victory. This is, to the individual in question, harmony in its true form. Harmony takes its own shape in the eyes of each individual. The Conclusion of War is the path to this harmony, this reason to take up arms.
5.2. The Survivor
Those who despise War, claiming victory at conflict's end yet failing to appreciate the Beauty of War, are mere Survivors. They live in the moment, live only for themselves - Soldiers trapped in the present, looking never towards the future. Survivors crave War, but have no perception of the Conclusion which rightly follows.
They do not believe in anything. They fight with courage and fervor, but for no purpose other than to drag on their lives. These individuals cannot comprehend the Beauty of War. A Survivor is the antithesis of the Soldier. Instead of fighting in the name of passion, they are passionate in the name of fighting. They struggle onwards, scarred by War's darkest aspects, blind to its delicate wonder. The successful Warlord knows to discern a Survivor from a Soldier. A Soldier is an artist, while a Survivor - the sixth actor of War - is merely caught in a perpetual struggle with life, an endless battle with their own demons.
5.3. The Plunder
If these words find you well, if studied at great length and committed to memory, success will follow you in time. The cost of War is great, the sacrifice ever-looming above the heads of those whose conscience grieves the suffering of many. In the eyes of a citizen, a layman, War is not beautiful, it is bitter.
But, in turn, the rewards of victory are equal and opposite in measure. Look upon life not in its true form, but as a tool, an implement with which to grasp and secure greatness. Put loss behind you: act not with sorrow's noose around your neck, but as a true Warlord. The spoils of war are rapturous and abundant: good things come to those blessed by fate. The plunder, the material rewards, are second only to the spiritual gain the seasoned Warlord may hope to achieve. In conflict's wake, peace shall follow - peace shall reign. That which comes before is quickly forgotten, a mere memory.
For this is truly the bittersweet Beauty of War.
The book will contain some hidden hints, to be added later. Other than that, its only function is enjoyment.