Peregrine IV

“Justice is not the end of a road, the closing of a tale. One cannot be just, one can only act justly: it is a struggle from cradle to grave, not a prize seized and kept.”
– Daphne of the Homilies, best known for ending hereditary rule in Atalante

“You are not, I think, an evil man,” Tariq pensively said. “I have seen those among your peers who have allowed desire to master all else, and you fall well short of that depravity.”

Prince Alejandro Trastanes of Orense hid his fury well, though it was a paltry effort in the face of the sight the Gods had granted the Grey Pilgrim. Tariq was still learning the subtleties of the aspect despair had led him towards, the answer to his frightened prayer. To behold the truth of someone was not as paging through a manuscript, all to be found laid out in neat calligraphy. It was more akin to exposing a raw nerve, seeing what made it tense and flinch. Deeper natures could be learned from such a thing, the needs and beliefs that drove men like men drove carts, but to grasp truths less primal his own wit was needed. The Prince of Orense, for example, did not feel fury untainted. It was woven along the thread of pride, both arrogant and earned. Alejandro Trastanes was furious, Tariq decided, because a man he considered his inferior was passing judgement over him.

“Yet,” Tariq continued, “it cannot be denied that you have done an evil thing.”

Regret tightened in the man’s soul, but it was threaded too deep with fear to be genuine. It was the regret of one caught and facing consequence, not any true repentance. Pride pushed aside the rest, hand in hand with something more resolute.

“Good things as well,” the Prince of Orense said. “No true judgement, that which ignores all there is to be judged.”

Tariq had thought there would be only rage in him, facing the man who had ordered the murder of his sister. Something burning and righteous, a flame that would only gut out when the blot on Creation was harshly erased. Instead he found himself hesitant, as if on the edge of a precipice tall and windy. Like there should be consideration where before he had believed there would only be verdict. The Choir of Mercy spoke not a whisper, had not since his last brother had gone from traitor to ash. The Ophanim watched, always did, but now they kept their own council. The choices were his to make, the consequences his to discern. Is this disappointment, old friends, he wondered, or is it respect?

“You speak as if justice is a scale,” Tariq said. “The good of a man weighed against the bad, an arithmetic of choices.”

Alejandro Trastanes had set down the sword he had bared in surprise, when finding the intruder in his sanctum, and the Pilgrim had placed the now-empty cup of Praesi tea he’d taken by its side. The fragrance of the dark leaves from faraway Thalassina wafted up still, filling the small study with its scent. A single pot of that tea, Tariq knew, was worth a week of meals for a small family. That was the kind luxury the lean man across the desk was accustomed to, thinking it so natural it was not worthy of acknowledgement. Power held and kept for so long it was no longer questioned. Prince Alejandro thumbed the pendant hanging from his neck, the copper rose that held almost-unreadable inscriptions on the petals. Beware of war, for in waging it to earthly purpose you have lost the war waged within your soul. Famous words, these. Written by the renowned holy woman Sister Salienta in her work ‘The Faith of Crowns’.

“Is it not, Pilgrim?” the dark-eyed prince said. “Why else would the Heavens wait until death to part the wheat from the chaff? The sum of a man cannot be a single act, worthy or wicked.”

Izil Isbili, Holy Seljun of Levant, was eight years old.

The listlessness in the boy’s dark eyes had waned, after he was returned to his father. It took months of kindness and safety, of his uncle standing by his bed as the nightmares of sudden arrows and gasping deaths woke him screaming, until Tariq’s nephew became a child again. And the something more, for the Blood ran true. Tariq had beheld in silence as fire spread where there before had been a hole in the shape of Yasa, grief turning to the burning will to act. To do more than hold a title and officiate the debates of the great of Levant, to set out into the world unbent in the face of fear. Tariq beheld, and knew that in the precise moment where anguish was transmuted to resolve Izil had never more been his mother’s son. It was a second chance, the Pilgrim thought, a mercy bestowed upon him by the Heavens. His sister given back to him in that small, frail body moved by something greater than itself. And so Tariq stayed in Levante, where is heart had died and been born again.

He watched as his nephew sunk his teeth into his lessons with ferocious tenacity. Numbers and letters, every line of Blood and their greatest deeds. The routes of trade by sea and land, the beasts that still roamed the rough countryside of the Dominion or laired in its deep forests. Languages, more than even Tariq himself knew. The Three Sisters – Lunara, Ceseo, Murcadan – but also Tolesian and Chantant, Ashur’s High Tyrian and the tradertongue of the Free Cities. All these Izil Isbili attacked with a fervour that belied his age, and what others at first dismissed as a child’s fancy turned to admiration when the passing of months did nothing to fray it. At the age of nine the lessons of ink and word were portioned to leave room for those of steel, and there Tariq asked favour: in blade and warfare, his nephew’s tutor would be the Lady of Malaga herself. Sintra left her holdings in the hand of her brother and heir, and his heart sang almost as much for her presence at his side as it did for the sight of her teaching Izil how to swing a sword. The trite, mundane evil of mankind had robbed the world of Yasa Isbili, of all that she might have accomplished. Of all that she had to give to the land she had so deeply loved.

The Grey Pilgrim could think of no greater answer to that sin than helping her son do it all in her place.

“You speak of the soul as a ledger to balance,” Tariq said. “Like an evil can be excused, if there is an act of greater good to match it against. But every act matters. Each is judged, each is held up to the teachings of the Heavens. Holding to virtue nine choices out of ten does not make the tenth any less of a sin.”

Alejandro Trastanes laughed, the bark of it quiet but fierce.

“You speak as one of the Chosen,” the prince said. “One in a thousand times a thousand. How many mortals match your exacting standards, I must wonder? I am not exceptional, Pilgrim, in any sense of the word. I have been done ill, and done ill in turn – as those before me have, and those after will.”

“Is the wickedness of others an excuse for our own, then?” Tariq said. “Once upon a time the Empress Triumphant lived, and evils greater than any before her did she enact. Are all we born since that day to live lawless for it? Should our forebears have wallowed in vice and submission, instead of casting down the Tower?”

“You take my meaning to the absurd,” the prince said. “I did not walk under the same skies as the Empress Most Dread, and cannot speak to what I might have done then. I can speak as a prince among princes, born in this day. Did you not say, Chosen, that you have seen those among my peers mastered by desire and made vile for it?”

Tariq nodded, for he had. Crowned heads and those of their blood, having grown to see the span of their authority as a fence to break instead of a boundary to dread. Those who drunk of privilege so deeply they became intoxicated with the exemption of consequence to their actions.

“Why then, Grey Pilgrim, do you sit in my study and not theirs?” the Prince of Orense said.

Izil Isbili, Holy Seljun of Levant, was ten years old.

He’d sprouted like a weed, over the last year, and there was fond jest in the old city that never before had a Seljun needed ceremonial garb so quickly adjusted in size. Not even the almost legendarily fat Jarin Isbili, who by the age of thirty would have broken the back of a horse simply by mounting it. Tariq nephew was also patiently teaching a girl mere months younger than him how to properly place her feet to accurately loose an arrow. The Pilgrim watched it unfold, leaning against the edge of the balcony overlooking the palace’s archery yard, and smiled at the sight. Sintra chuckled, similarly amused.

“Do you think he’s figured out she damn well knows how to shoot a bow, by now?” his lover asked.

Tariq glanced at the woman at his side, and could not help but see more than his lover – there was also the Lady Marave, ruler of Alava, and it was her niece speaking with his nephew below. The daughter of her brother and heir. Now that Izil was growing older, what might have once been children at play held other implications. Sintra’s niece was not the only girl of similar age brought to Levante since the turn of the year, and none of them had been more than two degrees from one of the ruling lines of the Dominion. Word had spread that his sister’s talents had flowered again in her son, and this time few of the mighty in Levant did not want blood tie to the boat they thought would rise with the tide.

“He has,” Tariq said, looking away. “He’ll be seeing how outrageous he can make the lesson before she visibly reacts.”

Sintra snorted approvingly.

“That’ll teach the girl,” she said. “She’s of the Champion’s line, not some delicate flower in need of hand-holding.”

He inclined his head, neither in agreement nor disagreement. Whatever Sintra’s niece might have intended, she was interrupted by a throng of other children. Many of them girls, meant for the same purpose, but there were boys as well. Two Tanja cousins from Malaga, a main line Ifriqui from Vaccei, even the youngest brother of the ruling Osena in Tartessos. Two dozen children, all in all, some from minor Blood but all from an old line. The jostled and the laughed and they argued, but all of them turned towards his nephew like sunflowers following the sun. He could already see it in them, the beginning of true kinship. And now that Sintra’s niece was among the lot, an old path was taking shape. Champion, Binder, Slayer, Brigand, Pilgrim. The founding lines of the Dominion, coalescing around an Isbili.

Izil’s reign would be many things, Tariq suspected, but banal would not be one of them.

“I am here,” the Pilgrim said, “because you ordered the murder of my sister.”

The prince’s surprise was obvious. He had, Tariq saw, expected denial and obfuscation. Or perhaps some sort of justification for twining mortal kinship with an act that would see the powers of a Bestowed put to use. The healer saw no need for any such convolution, for the truth was plain and even if it had been unworthy he would not have balked from it. It was, however, not unworthy in the slightest.

“Then this is vengeance,” Prince Alejandro said. “And not justice, for all your pretence otherwise.”

“You have ordered the murder of another child of the Heavens,” Tariq mildly said. “You are now being put to judgement for this act. Where, prince, is the injustice?”

“You are no impartial judge,” the Prince of Orense said.

“The act is writ in you,” the Pilgrim said. “Confession was given as to the means and motive. The truth is clear as cloudless sky. There is no partiality to be had.”

“That you are here at all is partial,” the other man hissed. “Are there no greater evils to be seen to than a man with blood on his hands? Are there not thousands in Procer alone who have done what I have done, and more of it still?”

“And this,” Tariq said, “excuses your act?”

“You chose me,” Alejandro Trastanes insisted. “Is that just, Pilgrim? That what brought you here is a brother’s wroth, yet you would force on me a Chosen’s fatal decree?”

“I chose the evil that was wrought,” Tariq said. “And that evil brought me to you, demanding reckoning. You are not underserving, Alejandro Trastanes.”

Izil Isbili, Holy Seljun of Levant, was twelve years old.

Too serious for a child, Tariq often thought, but then was this not so often the way for tragedy’s get? Joy did not come easy to Izil, though neither was it unknown to him. Curiosity came more often, and when the line of teacher and pupil did not stand between them his nephew sometimes sought out his company for talk of faraway places. Of the Heavens and the Gods Above they did not speak, for Tariq would not force such harsh truths on one so young. It was not all harshness, the Pilgrim knew. There was kindness and warmth, too, a patience to the grace that was offered to all the souls of Creation. But Good could not be only that, lest Evil triumph over it, and fool he might be but he still he hoped Izil might never have to embrace that axiom. Not if Tariq remained at his side, as he should have Yasa’s. Once the Pilgrim had been blind to the ugliness that cornered his kin even as he journeyed across Calernia to ward off the same taint, but he would not repeat his mistake. The Ophanim had answered that choice with only silence, but he knew they did not disapprove.

They were waiting, patient in the giving of their grace.

The summer night was lazing on towards dawn when his nephew knocked at his door. Tariq’s sleep had long been light, so it was with messy robes with sharp mind that he ushered in Izil. The boy’s eyes were surrounded by dark circles, and the older man wondered if his nephew had not begun to push himself too hard. His mother had been the same, once upon a time, that light in her almost furious that there was so much to learn and so little time to learn it. That hours would need to be wasted on something as empty as sleep. The Pilgrim’s calloused hand tucked back an errant curl of hair on Izil’s brow. They both pretended his nephew did not lean into the touch. The same way they pretended Izil did not sometimes look at him in a way that whispered father, and at Sintra with an even more hesitant mother. There were too many knots unseen to it, too many things unresolved. All grieved Yasa Isbili still, and Izil’s true father still lived. But the boy had grown to resent the man’s powerlessness, Tariq had beheld it unfold. And shameful as it was, neither he nor Sintra had turned away the affection so quietly offered.

They would never have children, the two of them. Yet sometimes, when he watched his lover teach Izil the swordsman’s stance from the balcony, he could almost close his eyes and… It was a shameful thing, but Tariq had not pulled away from it as perhaps he should have.

“Sleep is not without purpose, Izil,” Tariq gently chided. “The books will still be there come morn.”

His nephew’s dark eyes – Yasa’s eyes, Isbili eyes – flicked down, but in the boy he saw the truth that his assumption had been mistaken.

“Nightmares,” Tariq stated, and withdrew his hand. “I will make us tea, then.”

The Ashuran leaves were bitter on the tongue, though he had always been partial to the taste. His nephew was not, and so he now kept a small pot of honey in his rooms. It was not long before the water was boiled and poured into ornate clay cups Tari had been gifted by a grateful merchant in Nicae, what felt like a lifetime ago. While he set himself to the work, his nephew had wandered onto the balcony and the stained glass doors to it lay open. The Pilgrim joined his nephew outside, and pressed the warm cup into the boy’s hands. They stood there for some time, waiting for the tea to cool they watched the distant sea. A storm was brewing, very far away.

“You have been to Procer, uncle,” Izil said.

“I have,” Tariq agreed. “Many a time, when I wandered still. It is a strange land, in many ways. Its people are capable of both great sacrifices and great odiousness, and it is not always a different soul that holds this capacity.”

“They made us slaves, once upon a time,” Izil softly said, eyes on the dawning storm. “Took everything that we were, until we took it back with blood.”

“All those that did the taking are long passed, nephew,” Tariq quietly replied. “We do disservice to the living by warring in the name of the dead.”

“Are they?” Izil said, turning with a hard stare. “Gone, truly?”

The Grey Pilgrim met his eyes, and said nothing.

“It doesn’t matter,” the Holy Seljun of Levant suddenly said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re dead, uncle, because their children are just like them. Blood told. The only difference between the princes that took Levant and those that rule now is that there’s a wall in the way. And walls don’t protect from everything, do they?”

“Someone told you,” Tariq said.

“Of course someone told me,” Izil tiredly replied. “I am to rule, one day. They all curry favour.”

“Mercy,” he said, “can be a cold thing to behold. But it must be offered, nonetheless.”

“Why?” his nephew said. “We might as well be tossing silvers into the sea, uncle. They do not learn. They do not change. They take because they think themselves stronger, that no one will ever call them to account.”

“It’s not about them, Izil,” Tariq said. “It’s about us. Who we are willing to be, when the choice stands before us.”

“They didn’t give Mother a choice,” Izil hissed, eyes reddening. “They just shot her.”

The weeping took him, after that, and Tariq cradled his nephew’s small frame as the sobs made it shake. He would only understand it years later, that you cannot truly look at someone when you hold them so closely.

Tariq’s hand was already raised, when the door flew open. It was not soldiers with swords bared that entered. That would not have seen him release the Light as he did. No, it was laughing children. A girl and boy, neither older than seven, both dark-haired and bearing clever green eyes.

“Papa,” the girl said. “Gorja said that-”

“She’s lying,” the boy insisted.

Neither of them even noticed him sitting across from their father, a bare sword and a pot of tea between them. Their mother – tall and shapely, fair-haired – followed behind, looking as put-upon as amused. Prince Alejandro had gone still as a statue, and Tariq did not need to look to know the terror that had seized him.

Caridon,” the mother began in Tolesian, “It appears that-”

She froze at the sight of them, at the blankness of her husband’s face.

“Children,” she said, voice tight. “Your father is entertaining a guest.”

Their eyes only turned to Tariq then, and he smiled gently. They both looked dubious at his presence, perhaps skeptical that their princely father would entertain one as obviously travel-worn as he. They were mannerly enough not to speak their thoughts.

“I will speak with you all later,” Prince Alejandro said, his tone admirably calm. “But you must leave me to attend to this matter first.”

“Come along,” the Princess of Orense said, tone brisk as she tugged back her children.

The boy protested, and her fingers clenched like claws when she forcefully dragged him out. Tariq rose to close the doors himself, as they had not.

“My family, Pilgrim,” the prince said. “They are not – they did not know.”

A lie, Tariq beheld it immediately. He must have spoken of the matter with his wife.

“I am not the murderer in this room,” the Pilgrim said. “They have nothing to fear from me.”

Prince Alejandro’s answering smile was bleak.

“Not yet, no,” he said.

And that, more than anything else spoken tonight, gave Tariq pause.

“The girl,” he murmured. “She is eldest?”

“My heir,” the prince agreed, just as quietly.

He could see it, Tariq thought, as clearly as if the Ophanim had granted him the vision. The shape of this, sculpted by ineffable hands. In Levante, the son of a slain mother. In Orense, the daughter of a slain father. Between them a wroth that no fear no reason would abate, and the sea of corpses it would lead to. War between Levant and Procer, and how it would pull in all the rest. Ashur, wary of its protectorate again being swallowed by the greatest power of Calernia, would strike out. In the League of Free Cities war would bloom sure as the coming of dawn, from the opportunities or the mere debate over whether they should be taken or allowed to pass. It would spiral outwards, a madness that would make a hundred thousand orphans out of the unbending hatred laying between two. Tariq would not stay his hand because Alejandro Trastanes had a family that loved him. It changed nothing. But neither could he raise his hand in the service of unnecessary suffering.

“You will abdicate,” the Grey Pilgrim said, and soft as the words were they rang with the steel of a decree. “And spend the rest of your life as a lay brother in the House of Light.”

The Prince of Orense shivered.

“That is just,” the man who’d murdered Yasa said.

“No, it isn’t,” Tariq sadly said.

But it was not the Choir of Justice that he was sworn to.

Izil Isbili, Holy Seljun of Levant, was fifteen years old.

With the turn of dawn he would be sixteen and rule the Dominion of Levant in truth. For many years he had prepared for this day, Tariq knew. Promises had been made, both in the realm and beyond it. Grand designs had been patiently awaited, and among them lay the taking of war to the north. Years of argument had done nothing to change this, or change the choice of those who would go to war at the side of Izil Isbili. And so the Grey Pilgrim tread the quiet halls of the palace, in the dark of night, and into his nephew’s rooms did he creep. He wept as he pressed the pillow over the boy’s face, but his hand did not fail. He would despise himself for this, Tariq knew, until the day he died. But he despised unnecessary suffering even more. The Ophanim laid their hand on his shoulder, afterwards, in comfort. Their saddened whispers broke the silence of many years with a chorus of grief.

But none called him wrong.

155 thoughts on “Peregrine IV

  1. Pilgrim … wtf.
    You don’t even try to give your nephew a chance to reconsider? He’s a kid – he’s never had the responsibility of having people die because he gave them orders.

    Also … the kid wasn’t entirely wrong about Procer, even if he didn’t have a perfect answer.

    You traded a short term mercy for leaving the problem unaddressed for the long term.

    Besides … the kid was apparently open about his desires to avenge his mother – Procer’s going to get the blame for his death unless you are openly a kinslayer.

    Liked by 14 people

    1. magesbe

      To be fair to Tariq, he tried for YEARS (3-4 to be exact) to “give him a chance to reconsider.” And he didn’t want to wait for war to actually start and thousands of people to start dying for the chance to come about.

      I’m not saying he did the right think necessarily, but this wasn’t his go-to option. This was his last resort to avoid war (at least the only last resort he could think of).

      Liked by 27 people

        1. magesbe

          I never said that made him a moral person? But let’s put it this way.

          You have a son who you dearly love, but he’s about to be ruler of a nation and he has made it very clear that one of the first things he’s doing to do upon becoming ruler is declare war on a neighboring and larger nation he has a personal grudge against. You are completely unable to convince him to change his mind. War is looming and you can’t see any way to stop it. Except for killing the son who you love. Your son, or the no doubt thousands who will die if he lives.

          It’s a pretty grey situation, but I’d argue that saving thousands is in fact the ‘high path.’ Oh sure said son hasn’t done this YET. But if you see a person in line at a gun store who is telling people that once he gets a gun he’s going to go on a shooting spree and kill as many people who he dislikes as he can before he’s stopped (and you fully believe him)… do you really need to wait for him to actually start shooting people to stop him?

          Liked by 17 people

          1. 1queenofblades1

            Legally speaking yes. It’s one thing to talk, another to do it. Tariq essentially murdered his nephew for a thought crime.

            And it’s not like his son/nephew was forcing Levant into war. It was for his vengeance and many supported him. Rather than use his own political influence to erode his nephew’s support, he just kept quiet then smothered him.

            Liked by 4 people

            1. agumentic

              Come on. It was no more punishing for a thought crime than policeman shooting a man who screamed “I’m going to kill you!” and pointed a gun at a him – the intent was crystal clear.

              Liked by 13 people

            2. magesbe

              Um, see my example again. If you know someone is going to start something that will kill a lot of people, it is not punishing him for a “thought crime” to pre-emptively take them out. By this logic, policeman would be forbidden to attack someone no matter how armed they are or what they’re threatening until they’ve started hurting people.

              You’re saying this like you genuinely believe that this promise of war might have been big talk and a bluff. We’re given no reason to believe that Tariq’s nephew wasn’t 100% serious about this promise of war. Certainly Tariq himself felt it was inevitable if his nephew became ruler. If he waited for war to actually start? Well, that’s too late. At that point the nephew’s death alone wouldn’t end anything.

              And clearly he was forcing Levant into war, seeing as that it didn’t happen without him. Tariq is a smart guy, he wouldn’t have resorted to this if there was any way he could leave his nephew alive and still avoid the war.

              Because I believe that EE is capable of writing intelligent characters, I’m siding with the idea that Tariq attempted all of the non-violent ways he could think of to derail the war.

              Tariq is:
              A. Smart
              B. Loves his Nephew
              C. Politically experienced with politically experienced people as advisors

              Given these three points, it’s only reasonable to conclude he was genuinely out of options.

              Liked by 21 people

              1. RanVor

                It’s honestly very surprising that killing Izil actually managed to stop the war, considering it was stated several times that the Holy Seljun is almost powerless.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. He’s been specifically pointed out to have made friends with the rest of his generation. It’s all about politics and positioning. A random Holy Seljun couldn’t do it, much like a random Callowan orphan couldn’t end up running the country and a random farmer’s son couldn’t institute reforms of higher education. Izil could.

                  Liked by 5 people

                  1. RanVor

                    Still surprising, since for all they’d known their rightful ruler was murdered by a Proceran assassin mere hours before crowning. If that’s not enough of a reason for Levantine nobles to go to war, I honestly wonder how a fifteen-year-old boy managed to convince them.

                    Liked by 3 people

              2. By that logic is usually how domestic abuse cases go. They don’t do shit until the victim has been physically hurt. And sometimes, the first hurt is death.

                So really, it is realistic.


            3. Raidrover

              Its more akin to his nephew planting a bomb at 8 am and saying “I will detonate this at Noon.” Then you plead with him to throw it away until 11:59 am when you shoot him so he doesn’t detonate the bomb.

              Liked by 2 people

          2. Hmmmmm

            If we hadn’t timeskipped over several years we would have seen the pilgrim reasoning, talking, pleading, slowly discovering plots and secret alliances, the growing anger of the common people against Procer, the children burning and parents dying in border skirmishes, the rising tide of war, and we’d probably agree with him.

            Remember that this took place over multiple plot arcs in the pilgrim’s life, years and years. We saw him skip from regent to regicide in about twenty seconds.

            Liked by 10 people

      1. Zach

        Also, Pilgrim has an actual aspect related to “seeing the truth of people,” so if he believes that Izil was completely committed to war I think we can believe him.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. If only Tariq had influence from some kind of title he held, that could be leveraged to impede efforts to ready Levant for war. Oh, Izil would hate Tariq for hindering his vengeance, but he could live.

        Also, you didn’t address the “Levant is going to assume Procer did it and demand war” angle. Though to be fair, neither did the Ophanim.


        1. Jeffery Wells

          This is basically why I think Tariq, and the choirs in general, are just as evil as villains and devils.

          First and foremost, war with Procer was not his decision to make. I’m not a fan of rule by blood, but it was the accepted, legitimate government of the country. It was his nephew’s decisions, and the cost of it was his to bear. Furthermore, the rest of those he shared rule with supported his decision. It can be reasonably inferred that there people who would have been fighting that war would have been doing so willingly. Pilgrim stole their agency, and decided for them.

          Pilgrim decided that if people wouldn’t do what he wanted it was his right to murder them, just because he had the power to do so. He even betrayed the trust of his loved ones to facilitate the murder. That is pretty much the definition of evil.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The only difference between Tariq killing his nephew and Amadeus killing heroes is the banner they stand under. Both kill people who only want to do good because it’s the simplest way to stop them from disrupting the peace.


              1. Just because someone does something bad, even with global consequences, doesn’t make it good to kill them. It might be sufficient to make that murder Good, but anyone conflating the two is reading the wrong story.


                1. Jacob McNeer

                  Except we are not arguing about whether what Tariq did was “good” or “Good” or any other variation.Your initial comment was: “The only difference between Tariq killing his nephew and Amadeus killing heroes is the banner they stand under. Both kill people who only want to do good because it’s the simplest way to stop them from disrupting the peace.”

                  I was pointing out that Tariq’s nephew’s potential war was not “good” nor was he trying to do “good.” Tariq performed a quintessential lesser evil to prevent a greater one.

                  Liked by 3 people

    2. Skaddix

      I mean he solved the problem long term as there was no civil war amongst the sides of Good. Imagine how much easier this would have made things for Black, The Calamities and Malicia if Pilgrim didn’t stop this war. Heck spiraling out maybe no one answers the Crusade call from Procer as the Dead King marches once more much like the Gigantes are sitting it out, although they did provide the two most powerful Heroes of the next generation so they didn’t do nothing.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. A war between Levant and Procer likely would have either short circuited the Proceran Civil War – because even Proceran Princes can recognize that fighting a civil war and an external war at the same time is a bad idea – and/or been a sufficient distraction for Procer that Malicia wouldn’t have needed to stir the pot in Procer to keep them occupied and distracted for the Conquest of Callow.

        I dunno about you, but that’s a big trade off.
        Besides, it’s quite likely that Izil’s anger and hatred would have cooled somewhat after he had to deal with the reality of his own people dying and facing their loved ones. Izil had no real experiences and had little contact with the realities of life outside the palace.
        A punitive war, even conquering or sacking Orense in retaliation for the assassination would have had long term side effects on Procer and its relationship with Levant that would likely have reduced suffering in the long term (Proceran civil war), and clearly made the point that Procer meddling in Levant was not going to be tolerated.

        Cordelia would never have become First Prince and whomever did wouldn’t have been funding Lady Sahelian, the True Bloods, Akua.
        The First Prince likely wouldn’t have called for a Crusade in an attempt to consolidate their domestic hold on Procer and give the mercenaries something to do (there’d be far fewer of them anyways).
        Admittedly, the First Prince probably still would’ve funded Callowan rebels, but likely would have also sent along Proceran troops and commanders.

        There’s no real long term reduction of suffering by stopping Izil from making war on Procer … just a delay.


        1. And Tariq was supposed to know about the goings on in Praes how, exactly?

          At some point you gotta stop and consider the limitations on human beings. He did the best thing he knew to.

          He’s pretty much exactly like Amadeus in mindset. Just luckier with his place of origin.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. Rynjin

            Exactly. “How was he supposed to know?”

            That applies to anything. Tariq is a murderer and a clear sociopath that comes up with ad hoc justifications for his crimes after the fact, claiming the “greater good”, when he has no gift of prophecy, no divine insight (even admitted by himself in this chapter; the Choir is silent during these decisions), and nothing to base that supposed good off of than his own flawed judgment and limited intelligence.

            Tariq is a thug with a big hammer that sees every problem as a nail and invents new nails to beat down when he runs out of existing ones, and calls himself a Hero for it.

            Liked by 1 person

                    1. Rynjin

                      “Good reasons”, maybe. It’s debatable, but all his actions are internally consistent and he definitely BELIEVES he has good reasons for his actions and he’s in the right, which is what matters for this discussion.

                      The problem is murder is always his second solution to any problem. The first being crude and limp-wristed diplomacy where he just tells someone not to do something and expects they’ll obey, which fits with an entitled noble-born who has an inflated sense of his own importance and makes a convenient tool for cosmic horrors to play with.

                      There are any number of things he could have done to stop Izil declaring war on Procer, and none of them involve Izil dying, or anyone for that matter. An obvious one is using his political clout to make the idea of war a non-starter. But Tariq has no patience, or subtlety, or perhaps both. So the next obvious solution for someone with the love of the people and the noblemen backing him and a legitimate blood claim to the throne is to simply take power from Izil and rule Levant directly. It’s clear no mortal leader can stand up to his high moral fiber, so why not take over himself?

                      That much remains unclear. Maybe he doesn’t want the responsibility, maybe he’s afraid of who and what he’ll have to become to effectively rule a country, maybe something else, but the fact of the matter is he took the easiest, most expedient option available to him with barely a second thought and smothered a child in his bed.

                      That’s the kind of man the Pilgrim is.

                      Mind, before we get caught in some roundabout argument, I don’t think the Pilgrim is a poorly written character, and quite like him as an antagonist. All his actions make sense in his own head, which is what matters as I said before. My issue comes from people defending his actions as just, right, or moral and the man as a shining example of what morality should look like. It’s…disturbing to me, that so many would want to base their moral compass off someone who would be, in the modern world, a base political assassin and war criminal.

                      Liked by 5 people

        2. The events of this chapter occurred over forty years before the main story, long before the Proceran civil war.

          When the Pilgrim killed his nephew Malicia would have been in the early years of her reign, more than a decade before the Conquest.

          Liked by 2 people

      2. This comment chain forgets that this is actually years before black and malacia rose
        This is more like during the period of Nefarious.
        The proverbial civil war had only been going on for about ten years, I think k it even started after the Conquest

        So yes, the grey Pilgrim avoided a “world” (more like continental) war for a few decades
        Not just a couple of years.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. usernamesbco

        You’re not wrong, exactly. My issue with many of these arguments is that “Good” and “Evil” aren’t moral absolutes in PGTEverse, they’re political parties. With moderates and extremists and all the internal divisions and diversity of a political party. (In this analogy both sides are annoyed by Cat because she’s founding a third party that appeals to the moderates and will erode their support base.)

        If an assassination or a war or another atrocity is “justifiable” because it leads to a desirable outcome for one side, then it doesn’t matter which party the person acting belongs to. If an assassination or war or atrocity is unjustifiable no matter who does it then both “Good” and “Evil” are morally bankrupt.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Dainpdf

      He waited until the last moment. Had he waited one more day, his nephew would have been Seljun, and his plans would bear the fruit of war.

      As for Procer… as the Pilgrim said, there is good and evil in it. And this was not about them.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Jonnnney

        The problem with that logic is it assumes that murder is the only option open to the most powerful man in the country. He could have just as easily kidnapped his nephew to far off lands so that the child would have more time to learn the costs of war. Hell he could have just taken the kid to see the man who ordered the death of his mother. But I guess it is just too much to ask for the Grey Pilgrim to go on a fucking pilgrimage instead of murdering his only kin. There were dozens of things the Grey Pilgrim could have done and he chose murder.


        1. Dainpdf

          Most of them with the shape of a story that ends with the war happening anyway. As for persuading the boy, he had years to show him the way. Nothing swayed the boy. Do you think showing him an unrepentant murderer would do it?

          Pilgrim spared the man because he considered the cost of war to the people. The boy had had years to be reminded of that and chose to wage it anyways.

          Killing the boy was not just. But it’s not Justice the Pilgrim serves.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. The kid may have been (and should have been) intellectually aware of the costs of war, but the kid wouldn’t have truly understood what the cost of war was.

            And without that true understanding … his emotions are going to be in charge.
            And that assumes that there hasn’t been anyone quietly pushing war with Procer, for vengeance and glory, where Pilgrim didn’t see/hear it.


              1. No, it doesn’t change the problem. Not the elements underlying the problem, anyways.

                It should, however, change how one aproaches the problem, and certainly how one goes about solving the problem.

                It’s in some ways the difference between intentionally committing premeditated cold-blooded murder and manslaughter with mitigating circumstances.


                1. Dainpdf

                  Well, it was posited that the Pilgrim might:
                  1 – take a chance on unrest within the country and a badly shaped story in the hopes that his nephew might, against all evidence, still change his mind.

                  I say unrest because those options would require removing and then replacing (likely against the opposition of whoever administered the place meanwhile) the heir to the throne. That’s an opening for a civil war if I’ve ever seen one

                  2. Assume that there is some outside actor, capable of influencing the prince under the pilgrim’s nose… instead of the boy simply hating those responsible for the death of his mother-an event that plagued him with nightmares for years, perhaps the rest of his life.

                  3. Assume, furthermore, that no outside actors – those interested in a divided Levante, for example – would take advantage of the fracture created by a disappeared, but living, crown prince. Should his fate be known, it probably wouldn’t be hard to stimulate the appearance of factions…

                  Liked by 3 people

      2. grzecho2222

        -Hey kid. If you start war with Procer, Hero is going to kill you, so don’t do it.

        What happened with being straightforward


        1. Dainpdf

          That would just delay the event until his nephew thought he could get away with it. Or not even that, if his hatred were great enough he would die to slake it.

          Liked by 2 people

    4. stevenneiman

      The thing that strikes me is how spectacularly hypocritical he was. He told his nephew that it was important to forgive for one’s own sake, and then if he hadn’t seen the disaster it would lead to he would have killed a person who had already done the damage they were going to do because they messed with his family. And on top of that he had the gall to spew some bastard cousin of the ideals of a different Choir to pretend like he was better than his victim.


      1. You’re mistaking the order of things. That conversation was first, the raising of his nephew was next. Tariq learned from his experience in Orense, that’s not hypocrisy. People are allowed to change their minds.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Dainpdf

          Oof, HPMOR is sadly not my cup of tea. It reads too much like propaganda.

          I also read it years ago and don’t remember lines precisely.

          I was mostly referring to the Pilgrim’s tendency to take the role of wise old mentor.

          Liked by 3 people

            1. I love how everybody keeps using this word in the exact same way. If you’re interested in this conversation, can we please play the taboo game? The word ‘hypocrisy’ and all derivatives are hereby forbidden? And please try to explain what it is about Tariq that’s so infuriating?

              I just… this discussion is super interesting, and I’ve had it up to here with that specific word. It’s like one person said it first, and then everyone else was like ‘ooh yeah that’s it’ even if what they actually think is nowhere near the actual meaning of the word.

              Please =x

              Liked by 4 people

              1. RanVor

                That he’s doing the same things as Cat (and Amadeus, for that matter), and yet he treats them as monsters and himself as merely flawed, because he has the Heavens behind him and they don’t.

                Liked by 2 people

                    1. It’s not about moral fiber to him, though. Mercy, not Judgement. He does not think Catherine needs to die because he thinks she’s a bad person or a monster, he thinks it will serve peace best if she dies.

                      If he even does still think that, which I’m not sure about. Which I suspect he is not sure about.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. RanVor

                      He knows Cat is all about peace and has made it abundantly clear she’s willing to make concessions so far-fetching they almost border on total surrender for the sake of it, and he’s still gunning for her and pushing for further warfare at the cost of thousands of innocent lives because he can’t accept peace that isn’t on his own terms.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. This is NOT about Catherine and her willingness. If her peace cannot be accepted by his own side without another war, then it’s not effectively peace.

                      It’s not about HIS terms. He’s not in charge of the Crusade any more than Cordelia, Saint or Hanno is. He’s not a Tyrant to speak for his entire nation. And if he were to try and make a bid for leadership now, there WOULD be war, and that’s exactly his reason.

                      He’s explained all that to Catherine already.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    4. RanVor

                      Then please, explain to me who is in charge of the Crusade, because you make it sound like nobody is. Also, explain to me why Pilgrim’s peace is to be considered more valid than Catherine’s. Why must Callow pay for it and not Levant? Are Callowan lives worth less than Levantine ones?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. Nobody is!

                      Did I not say that in that post? I was going to, but I guess I edited it out at some point.

                      Nobody’s in charge! That’s the entire problem!

                      The Grand Alliance is a miracle of Cordelia’s diplomacy. She managed to get an unprecedented amount of normally hostile parties to form a consensus, and they’re still squabbling. We’ve seen that much in her interludes and bonus chapters. They agreed on doing the Crusade, and changing that now would be… well, having Catherine join the Grand Alliance would be the most politically smooth way of changing the situation, and even that required Cordelia to wrangle a majority of them to agree to it. Remember when she commented that the Majilis apply veto to any discussion they were not invited to? The Crusade is herding cats.

                      Tariq is one of the respected leaders of the hero part of the Crusade. He is someone all Levantine heroes will listen to. He is someone whose opinion the Majilis will at least consider, as well as non-Levantine heroes.

                      But Ashur and Cordelia’s High Assembly? Hell hell hell hell hell

                      As for the relative worth of lives, keep in mind the calculation of (worth of the result) * (certainity of the result). Tariq knows for a fact that him exerting more influence than he gets by default will end in a bloody mess. Tariq cannot be certain that following Catherine’s plan will avoid a bloody mess on her side – it’s not a question of trusting her intention, it’s a question of trusting her judgement. Which she has demonstrated to be… occasionally impaired.

                      I expect these calculations will have changed by now. The Dead King changes the equation significantly, and so does Catherine’s drow army. I fully expect Tariq to see reason, on this, if and when he gets sufficient information about it.

                      Also, Tariq has already expressed the opinion that he does not consider caring more about his own people to be a sin or a flaw in his reasoning. It’s his job and responsibility to care about them, it’s decidedly less of his job and responsibility to care about Callowans. He’s not pretty pure all-loving and he’s not trying nor pretending to be. He does his best, but if it’s equal exchange Callowans or Levantines he’ll stand with Levantines much like Catherine would stand with Callowans and Amadeus would stand with Praesi, and that’s that. He doesn’t think it wrong of them any more than he thinks it wrong of himself.

                      Tariq has a bit of… Blue and Orange Morality on that point, as loyalty tends to introduce into the equation.

                      But yeah, the main problem IS that nobody’s in charge and nobody’s in control. The Crusade is a fucking mess, just read Cordelia’s extra chapters.

                      Liked by 3 people

                    6. RanVor

                      Ah, that simplifies things. Because, you see, if nobody is in charge, then the ones who are supposed to be in charge are responsible for failing to do their job properly. The full might of a Crusade without reasonable people at the helm to direct it spells doom for everyone involved, and the fact that they’re not doing everything in their power to stop it is all the more damning.

                      Also, it would be very nice if you understood that I’m not trying to convince you that Tariq is an irredeemable monster. I’m trying to explain why I personally hate him.

                      Liked by 3 people

                    7. RanVor

                      If nobody is supposed to be in charge, the entire thing shouldn’t be allowed to exist. It’s been a recipe for disaster from the start.

                      Liked by 4 people

                    8. It’s extremely unfair to Catherine, what he’s doing. Much like how it was extremely unfair to that one little town that he plague’d.

                      Fair is not what he does.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    9. RanVor

                      But the suffering he inflicts is absolutely necessary and he will not flinch while inflicting it. Do you’re still have trouble understanding why I consider him a hypocrite?

                      Liked by 2 people

                    1. Capturing Amadeus was not the primary intention. Do you remember what he was doing? He was burning his way through the country. He was dooming countless towns and villages to starvation and banditry, deliberately and intentionally and strategically.

                      Tariq killed far fewer than he saved.

                      I love Amadeus. That is exactly why I keep in mind exactly what he was doing.

                      Liked by 3 people

                    2. That is so far wrong it is not even funny. The Black Knight was not condemning anyone to starvation and banditry, he was forcing a choice on the Cordelia to make a choice: Pull back all those troops and supplies and thus save your people or continue to attack Callow and thus condemning your own people to starvation and banditry. This is the same choice they had after the Dead King invaded: Keep attacking Callow and let your people die or pull your troops back to save them. Also the Pilgrim was sent specifically to get the Black Knight and capture him, that was the whole point since he was sent by the Bard and by Saint not Hasenbach the First Prince. It is why they overruled Cordelia who would have just had the Black Knight executed or killed right there by the Pilgrim. It was all to get Cat to rush to rescue him and thus keep war going between Callow and Procer and it is working (just not the way they thought it would) thus why the Army of Callow is in Procer fighting the Crusaders. So yes the Pilgrim is a monster sent by two other monsters all to capture the Black Knight in an attempt to get to Cat. Jeez the whole point pf the 10th Crusade as far as the Gods Above and these so called Heroes is to cause mass death on an a scale unseen since Triumphant’s time and it was spelled out very clearly in Fatalism III:

                      “Oh, we’ll bleed,” the Saint mused. “We’ll lose badly, at first. And then we’ll claw our way back up, inch by inch. Evil always wins at the start, but it’s us who owns the conclusion. And from the ruins something better will rise. This empire’s already a corpse, but we’ll send it off with a pyre glorious enough it’ll redeem the old faults.”

                      Hell even Saint admits they are monsters just given the stamp of “Good”:

                      “You just worry about getting the armies marching,” Laurence de Montfort dismissed. “Odds are I won’t survive the scrap, but that’s all right. It’s a good war to die in. It’ll be the crusade that settles it, you see: too many old monsters came crawling out on both sides. Won’t be the kind of losses a side can recover from.”

                      He is a monster doing the work of other monsters all in the name of good.


                    3. Tariq doesn’t have authority over Klaus Papenheim. His choice was ‘help’ or ‘don’t help’.

                      And everyone is responsible for things they are literally doing. Amadeus holding Proceran people hostage against Cordelia doesn’t absolve him from responsibility from their deaths.

                      Like, yeah, he had reasons. That doesn’t change his actual literal immediate actions.

                      Liked by 2 people

    1. Jinzo Primus

      I’m sensing a gap in reason there.
      Are the Choir of Mercy compassionate? Are the Choir of Fortitude of sound judgement? Are the Choir of Endurance contrite?
      I feel like the mild exclusivity and singularity of purpose of the choirs was touched on in a past chapter but this is probably where it gets really important for the story and Catherine finally makes her great escape from inner turmoil: it’s not just the heroes who are hypocrites, but the heavens themselves, playing as holy for the act of chasing a singular virtue like a holy-water cruise-missile, no matter who gets soaked along the way.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. stevenneiman

        Yeah, I’d been wondering about something related to that for a while. The Choirs don’t seem like they fundamentally have to agree, so why do they work together. Some of them make sense as allies, but others don’t. In particular, Mercy seems like it would hate Contrition and Judgment, and might not get on to well with Fortitude either. And yet we don’t hear much about Choir-sworn heroes fighting one another.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. The way I understand it, that’s because Choirs don’t pass final judgements on what’s to be done, the mortals do.

          Even Hanno chooses when to flip his coin, and if anything’s hypocritical about him it’s that he refuses to acknowledge the fact that he still judges.

          Choirs guide and empower (egs shoutout lmao), but they only act to the degree that mortals invite them to. That’s a feature, not a bug. Sure, it’s an iffy system, but it’s what it is. It’s balanced with the fact that mortals they call are still people and are capable of valuing more than just what their Choir says.

          Eldritch beings are not very good at morality. Everyone gasps in surprise, particularly frail dames faint.

          The side of Good is led by the wills of mortals on it 🙂

          Liked by 5 people

        2. Decius

          Where do you see Mercy-aligned forces allied with Contrition or Judgement-aligned forces?

          Only in places where they find common purpose, which isn’t very often. The Lone Swordsman didn’t get a visit from the Grey Pilgrim. If he had, he would have ended up just as dead as Izil, for exactly the same reason.

          Liked by 2 people

            1. RandomFan

              The impression I got is that they *were* murdering each other. I mean, not all the time, but some portion of Good nation vs. Good nation wars involved heroes murdering each other. They are better about it than evil, because when the chips are down Good can work together, but the impression I’ve been getting since book 2 is that Heroes are as likely as Villains to have infighting, they’re just less addicted to it.

              Liked by 1 person

    2. Author Unknown

      Sometimes mercy means severing the limb to keep the rot from spreading. It’s an ugly, gruesome thing. And there are those that would prefer the rot to the dismemberment, but that doesn’t make the amputation any less necessary. Choosing the rot isn’t kindness, it’s fear.

      I look at Tariq’s actions, and I don’t see something appalling. I see a man with the strength to not only choose dismemberment but to sever the limb himself.

      He believes. He may be wrong; he may be right. But he is no puppet. This is a choice he made. And that, I think, makes him all the more terrifying.

      Liked by 10 people

      1. >Sometimes mercy means severing the limb to keep the rot from spreading.

        This wording smells of the rot of Lesser Evil.

        >Choosing the rot isn’t kindness, it’s fear.

        It is a right. And that right is, regretfully, often denied, whether the rot is true or imaginary.

        >I look at Tariq’s actions, and I don’t see something appalling.

        Just like all Heroes of aPGtE, Tariq is self-righteous first and foremost, but he also has power to enact his particular brand of righteousness. If it isn’t appalling, I don’t know what is.

        The setting of aPGtE is apparently constructed to make ALL sides appear unsalvageable jerks.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Skaddx

          Its not Lesser Evil. If Named, Blessed, Chosen (whatever you want to call them) deviate from their Role, then their powers fade. Ala Black losing his name based on decisions he made. Thief starting to fade after she switches sides. Ergo if the Heavens thought Pilgrim erred from his Role, then he would lose his powers gradually. He doesn’t though he goes on to be next to Saint of Swords, the strongest hero of his Generation. Good here is very big on FOR THE GREATER GOOD. The most good for the most people possible when it comes to Heroes.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think EE has specifically said that this is not so. Fallen heroes / redeemed villains are a thing. Thief did not start to fade because she changed sides, she started to fade because she changed her modus operandi.

            Though you do have a point in that some Roles are so specifically tied to a side / pollitical position that you can’t leave that position without leaving the Role, which is what happened to Amadeus (though his Name was already hanging on by a thread, shallow pool and all).

            >- All heroes are considered to have a mandate from the Heavens in theory, though in practice heroes who affect the broader continent are very few. The ‘rules’ will be heavily dependent on how they came into their Name, the moment that crystallized who they are. Hanno, for example, would break down if he started going against what he perceives to be justice. William would have been driven suicidal by ceasing to attempt restoring Callow, since it was heavily tied in to his last source of self-worth. It’s not a paladin class feature where you can fall and the powers disappear or turn dark, it’s more that the further a hero strays from their core ideals the weaker and more prone to catastrophic mistakes they become.

            …yeah, I think the fact that Tariq still has Ophanim talk to him and is still alive signifies that he did not stray from his Role.

            Unfortunately, his Role IS lesser evil.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Skaddix

              I don’t think its lesser evil. Its the train problem or a variant of it. It only looks muddy cause Pilgrim is close to his nephew. Otherwise he killed one and saved hundred thousands. Most Good for the Most People. Good is not Nice.

              Liked by 4 people

            2. RanVor

              I think it’s clear by now that the only real difference between Tariq and Cat (philosophically speaking) is that his lesser evil has a big DIVINE MANDATE sticker on it (and as such, he will never be required to answer for it).

              Liked by 2 people

              1. (Though, I would also say that it’s other mortals that call each other to answer for their bullshit, not Heavens so much. And right now is exactly the time when there are people around who might just call Tariq to answer for his)


  2. Gibborim

    This is a very thorough foundation being laid for the Pilgrim coming down on Cat’s side. At this point, I am starting to think that he will be the one to kill Saint.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ashen Shugar

      He wasn’t there for the same reason that he was in the First Princes chamber rather than in the room of any of those other people he mentioned that were worse.
      If the choir of Mercy isn’t whispering in his ear telling him where to go, then he can only deal with what he himself sees. And you know there’s going to be plenty of work for him to do right in front of himself without worrying about something a long way away in another country.

      Liked by 11 people

  3. Thanatanos

    Good question. Why did Cat try to make a deal with the Dead King that would have completely fucked over Procer and Levant?

    There are differences. Obviously Levant wasn’t being invaded by Callow at the time, but heroes and villains in this story are also people, and they have their own loyalties/areas of focus. This is like asking why you don’t go to the local homeless shelter and donate every penny you own instead if going out to eat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Levant? Why would it have fucked over Levant?

      Don’t forget that Cat’s deal would have only included the northernmost principalities, and she tried to kill Malicia to prevent a wider one from beign struck.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. broadaxe

    the horror, i had to stop and just sit for a moment hand infront of my gaping mouth. that ending was both shocking and brutal. “good” strikes again


        1. >The Ophanim were absolute, in nature and mandate. There were no shades to their perspectives, and while they might fondly tolerate them in one sworn to the Choir of Mercy that indulgence should never be confused for approval. The Grey Pilgrim had first understood this when he’d smothered his young nephew in his sleep, knowing the boy was charismatic enough to unite the Dominion and lead to war against Procer. He’d tried, first, to reason with him. To show him the pursuit of old grudges through blood could not redeem a single thing.

          >The young never listened, he’d learned. And so old fools like him had to smooth out the sharp edges of Creation.

          Liked by 2 people

        1. I just reread, and I saw nothing indicating that. The most judgemental thing there was ‘his murderous designs’ which is nothing but accurate, and also a comment on Amadeus’s limited perspective.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. RanVor

            I’ve just reread it too, and I can’t honestly say you’re wrong, but I can’t agree with you either. I’d say it heavily depends on the interpretation of certain lines.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. RanVor

          The entire concept of “necessary” and “unnecessary” suffering is inherently hypocritical, as it assumes that a) there is an objective way to differentiate between the two and b) that Tariq specifically is able to do so. It is very arrogant of him to assume such a thing. And that’s before we start delving into his personal bias.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. However, in this world there is an “objective” good. And when you question necessary and unnecessary you don’t allow for subjective necessity – if black held the same objective, perhaps Pilgrim would view him differently. That’s not hypocritical, it’s saying that a *specific* end justifies the means. Arrogant I can see, though he does have direct divine confirmation of his worldview.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Grey Madness

    I get whats trying to be told here but the pilgrim is not stupid, he already must have known that the boy intends to wage war. Can’t he ”decree” that no he cannot wage war. Can’t he force the boy to abdicate? I mean he is akin to a god to the people of Levant, they obviously care more about what he says than what a 15 y/o kid.

    I am all for going for the most dramatic outcome possible but not when it doesnt make much sense.


      1. Grey Madness

        You are telling me the direct descendent of the founder of the city and the person these people consider a most holy demi god, The Grey Pilgrim, of the Grey Pilgrims blood, in grey pilgrims city. Holds less say…. than a 15 y/o boy he himself put into power… Single-handedly.

        THAT guy, cannot take the power away from a boy, nor can he decree this war forbidden or unholy. Though he can apparently in a couple of hours make someone else abdicate ,some god knows how many miles away?

        Do you see the problem? You cannot even deus ex machina this because the angels were literally refusing to talk to the guy. Cmon… (sorry if this comes off aggressive i last slept about 30 hours ago)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes he cannot take away power from a boy. He put Izil in power because he WAS the rightful heir. Minimal application of force was needed for that, and minimal disruption of tradition – pretty much no disruption of tradition at all. All he had to overcome was fear of Procerans, not principles and pride.

          He’s not a holy demigod. He’s a very respected Named, but that doesn’t mean everyone just does what he tells them to do, much less in matters such as this. Especially when he himself put the boy into power – he can’t even say that he shouldn’t have been in power in the first place, which is the most standard excuse for removing someone from it.

          He forced Alejandro to abdicate via a threat to his life and in the long run to his family. That would not work the same on a Levantine kid, especially one who IS his family. And if it destabilized the province, it wasn’t Tariq’s problem to handle, while here taking care of the country is the exact motivation in the first place.

          There is a big big difference there.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Except that we know from the earlier Peregrin chapters that Tariq could and would have been made Seljun instead of his sister had he not left and stayed away. Indeed – that’s why he left and didn’t come back – he didn’t want to be the one in charge, the one responsible for making the decisions.


              1. Grey Madness

                Better overthrowing a sitting ruler than a silently assasinate said ruler. Who is the most likely to be blamed in this situation but the people Izil was planning waging war on.


                1. I can agree with you that out-of-universe, this was not handled super well. Erratic failed to outline the situation clearly.

                  In-universe, I think it’s very much clear that Pilgrim did what he could.

                  Liked by 1 person

  6. Novice

    Well, we’ve got a very obvious trolley problem here and of course, Pilgrim picked the greater good. Reminds me so much of Emiya Kiritsugu from Fate/Zero. Tariq killed his own son for the lives of tens of thousands, while Kiritsugu would if given the chance, without hesitation, kill his own wife and daughter for the rest of mankind.
    Freaking utilitarians, man. Such tragic characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Welcome to the world of cause and effect, Tariq! Greeting you there is the fact that the only difference between you and Amadeus is luck and privilege.

    Now to wait for the next interlude 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What I think is fascinating here, is that mercy, as a concept, is inherently opposed to justice, or rather, judgement. One talks about absolving from punishment, everyone, equally, and another is about delivering a punishment, to everyone, equally. So they should be naturally opposed, and the fact that they both live on the same side, and act as though they strive for the common goal is absurd.

    What is also fascinating is that, contrary to what some believe, neither mercy, nor judgement (also very subtle play with words here, for while every instance of our beloved Han and his merry Choir of Judgement talk about justice, they are not called that, in fact, the Choir of Justice is not yet present in the story, iirc, which is very, very interesting thing to have, and in fact both chapters about Hanno and Peregrine talk about more about justice, than about mercy and judgement, respectively), so again, neither mercy, nor judgement have a moral high ground. And, despite talking about common thing, they have different goals, while employing (at extremes, which they are in the story (in fact most of the story is about extremes which is understandable given that this is where things result in the biggest conflict, which is the main core appeal of any story)) fairly infinite and unrestricted field of means. And their goals are as such: mercy is about consequences and the deliverence of the punishmet is irrelevant. Judgement is about delivering the punishment, consequences be damned.

    So how can theh act in accord?

    Liked by 3 people

  9. maartensanders

    Seems a like a failure on grey’s part, 8 years to try to change the mind of kid. All without the guidance from above. Could they not give guidance on a matter where the act has not yet happend, Since a child is innocent?
    Is this a lesson in mercy for the grey pilgrim?


  10. grzecho2222

    I’m reminded of one of my favourite scenes from Unsounded
    D: Bastion’s allowed to kill, because he cries A-BLOO-HOO-HOO one the blood’s dry!
    Bastion: “starts talking”


  11. Silverking

    …So, I’m going to guess that Pilgrim’s not aware of the whole “Crusades are permission slips for the Dead King to come out and play” thing. Otherwise, I’d be VERY confused about how he feels supporting the 10th Crusade would alleviate unnecessary suffering. Funny, though, the Bard and the Saint of Swords would have been able to clear that up for him, but they seem to have…neglected to mention it. Almost as if Above is less invested in Mercy if it gets in the way of keeping the Game going.

    Liked by 1 person

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