Kingmaker

Lem vs. Introspection - Round 11

Lem is a Pain

So Journal,

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m a pain in the ass.

Okay, okay, no need to get snarky Mr. Journal. Of course I’m a pain in the ass. A pain in the ass is sort of what I’ve aspired to be my entire life. I’ve always pictured myself as the fun-loving, free-wheeling, uncensored mouthpiece of mischief and adventure. A pain in the ass, but a fun pain in the ass, one you couldn’t live without. I ruffle feathers, sure, but it’s that playful kind of ruffle, that, “Hey kid, you’re doing great,” sort of ruffle. I’m the class clown, the prankster, the village idiot.

Wait wait, village idiot may be going a bit too far. Maybe someday I’ll retire to the village idiot position.

What I don’t want to be is the actual pain in the ass. I don’t want to be the guy that people avoid, or the guy who messes things up for everyone else. I don’t want to be the contrarion, the naysayer, the devil’s advocate. I don’t want to be the guy who disagrees just because everyone else is agreeing. I don’t think I’m that guy, at least I hope I’m not yet. When I speak my mind, I hope it’s because I have something to add, not just because I like hearing my own voice. When I stand up for an ideal, I hope it’s because I believe in it, not just that I need validation that I’m important in the process.

It wasn’t always like this. When I started debating political stuff with Sasha, I’d always rush to put a disclaimer on whatever I said, something like, “This is my opinion, but I’m probably an idiot, so feel free to ignore me.” At that point I was doing it subconsciously, based on many years of knowing I was an idiot and being told as much. Sasha was the first person to treat my opinion as if it had actual worth, in fact, he chastised me greatly for implying otherwise. Maybe I got high on that. Before I knew it, I was spouting all kinds of nonsense to anyone that would listen. And to my great surprise, they did listen. All sorts of people listened to me. When Sasha passed, I felt sort of like it was my duty to carry on his arguments using my new found voice.

Now I’m not so sure. It’s not because I lack faith in the government we’ve set up or the ideals it’s founded on, but more because I might not be doing it service. I worry that when I speak, the tone of my voice serves to turn away those that should be allies. When they turn away, my voice becomes louder to compensate. And the cycle repeats. Pretty soon I’m shouting and everyone else is rolling their eyes. That’s not what I want.

A case in point: Just a day ago we learned that a child named “Tig” had gone missing from Tuskendale’s ad hoc school. We went off to track the boy, and thanks to Katya and a newcomer named Anton, we managed to track Tig to the place of his abduction by a foraging lizardman. We tracked down the lizard by night, and Variel used a spell to entrance him so we could save the boy. Variel used the opportunity to question the lizard, and found out that Vesket, the so-called “King” of the lizardmen, is planning war in short order. The captured boy was meant to be an appetizer before the campaign got underway.

Once we had delivered the boy back to Tuskendale, the discussion turned to the threat the lizardfolk posed. In my mind it was real, but relatively minor. The lizardman said that they had at most a half dozen soldiers among their number. Even if there were ten times that number, the citizens of Tuskendale would outnumber them 5 to 1. Plus, we have a castle. Their ‘war’ would be more of a suicide run.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. It was clear from the lizardman’s description that Vesket is not thinking entirely straight. He is likely to attack, even if it means his people will be destroyed in the process. And I wouldn’t want even one innocent life lost through our inaction. So something must be done, and quickly. This war can not be allowed to start.

To this point I think my fellows and I see eye-to-eye. We all want to see something done. The problem is that the Lizardfolk’s ‘town’ lies on an island in the middle of a river. We can’t simply walk up and demand to see Vesket. Even if we did, given the size and height of the village’s walls, there’s probably no easy way to get him out. That means a fight.

Variel hinted that he would have a way to force them out. What he suggested was some sort of fire attack (he wasn’t all that specific) that would light their palisades on fire and rob them of their defenses. I pointed out that I thought this was a bit much. Setting the lizardmen’s village ablaze would be akin to someone knocking down our castle because they wanted to get at me or Dyimi. Innocents would certainly die…maybe less innocents than if they brought the war to us, but innocents none-the-less. I wanted another way.

When I voiced this opinion, Variel’s response was…well… harsh. He told me that I had opposed every idea of his since our first meeting, and that he was sick of it. Looking back on it, he’s probably right, and maybe right to be upset. He has challenged me to find a diplomatic solution so that we don’t have to resort to violence, but I’m not sure I’m equipped for that. As is evidenced by how badly all this has gone, diplomacy is hardly my strong suit.

The truth is, I value Variel’s opinion, but we approach problems from dramatically different directions. Variel focuses on the ‘best’ answer to any given situation. By contrast, I’ve been looking for the ‘right’ answer. I think this is a bad habit I picked up from Sasha…he never accepted anything less that the high road. But maybe we don’t have that luxury anymore. Maybe I need to learn how to live with a bad taste in my mouth.

So what are my options? Well, I know I’m not running away, and I don’t want things to get any worse. I think my only real option is to trust in my friends and learn to hold my tongue. Dyimi and Katya are both high-minded people. Between them, I trust them to find the right answer. My dad always said that: “If you talk less, you hear more”. Maybe it’s time I give that a shot.

Heh, irony, huh journal? I spend all evening writing in you only to come to the conclusion I need to learn to shut up. Maybe this is what they call an epiphany.

Or maybe it’s just gas. I hope for the former.

P.S. The new half-elf in town—Anton—is an amazing fighter. He put me on my back in no time flat. Plus, he hates kids! I think we’re going to get along great.

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