How do you fight an enemy you don’t even know is there?
I do not truck with false humility – I was highly intelligent prior to my Exaltation and, since then, I have become brilliant in ways that challenge the notion that I can truly relate to human beings – one of many reasons I’m researching the concept of Influence without Authority. For all that brilliance, however, it was only when working with someone as brilliant as I, with more than a few starting hints, that I was able to find the ripples of stones thrown in the river of time, when fate itself works to hide the stones.
But we found it. The hidden manipulators. It may well be that Elephant Speaker is simply working to keep Creation intact, but her attitude shows that she does not represent the consensus view, or even a majority view. The Sidereal Exalted took it upon themselves to be Fate’s architects, rather than its servants. Perhaps that is something we can correct. And what hubris is this, Kalanthes? You didn’t even know they were there to look for until one appeared in front of your face. A lifetime of learning and I feel like the picture only now begins to become clear, and I have a handful of puzzle pieces.
If the tapestry of history that I have learned is but a part, and maybe not even the largest part, of the history of mortal civilization…If the technology I am capable of now comprises the building blocks of wonders that lead to moving sidewalks and machines that create reality itself…the implications are exhilarating and terrifying. On the one hand, there’s so much I could do to raise people out of the squalor that the Guild and the Families and the various power structures seem to be content to leave them in. And now I know that goes higher – It is probably that the Sidereal Exalted did not intend for Creation to fall apart like this, but they and their chosen Dragon-Blooded minions were not up to the task. The gods drifted into indolence and humans are left to scratch out a living amongst those who can turn and twist humanity to their whim. Most people know of the corruption amongst the gods – that’s part of why the Immaculate Philosophy appeals, I suspect. But they don’t even know about the Sidereals, and Copper Hound speaks of her own people as mostly dangerous.
Am I any different? I just said at the beginning of this entry that I question my capacity to relate to humans. I’ve broken off my engagement with Sapphire River, and the lies came so easily – I’m so much older. I spoke true when I said I object to arranged marriages. I find I’m objecting to a lot of things that take away choice. But the truth is that the age difference between us is not utterly immaterial. Barring accident or violence, I will outlive her by a preposterous span. No one deserves to be a footnote in the life of another.
Jin thinks I’m soft-hearted, with my frequent refrain to think of those around us as people, rather than pawns, but in all honesty it’s just a hatred of waste and a preference for self-determination. Most of those who died at Mishaka probably had to in order to break the Realm’s will to fight. No doubt, some will die in the battle with Karroth Vlan, and many are at risk if our plan for the Fair Folk goes sideways. But his plan to sacrifice the Order of the Firmament to the war ghosts is raising alarms in the back of my mind. If they become aware that we mean to sacrifice them before the battle, they may turn on us. If they become aware at the battle, we may be providing the kingdom of the dead with a new company of occult-trained warrior ghosts.
Besides, it seems to me that our collective failure to acknowledge those who could not compete with our excellence is likely one of the chief causes of our inability to see the rebellion that ended our reign so many centuries ago.
So it must be Influence without Authority. Let humans run human affairs, but be there to give them space to make their own decisions, and to provide counsel when they ask. I don’t even know if we still bear the Mandate of Heaven, but I suspect that, even if we do, we likely do not deserve it.
To be certain, neither do the Gods or the Sidereal Exalted. We have all had some opportunity to rule over Creation, and what we seem to be best at is making our own lives comfortable and ruining the lives of people who become part of the local fauna. If they cannot rule and we will not, we must make humanity ready to govern itself.