Quote Of The Day
"Well," Rowlands said carefully, turning the Land-Rover into the road. "I am not at all sure what it is that is going on all around us, Will bach, or where it is leading. But those men who know anything at all about the Light also know that there is a fierceness to its power, like the bare sword of the law, or the white burning of the sun." Suddenly his voice sounded to Will very strong, and very Welsh. "At the very heart, that is. Other things, like humanity, and mercy, and charity, that most good men hold more precious than all else, they do not come first for the Light. Oh, sometimes they are there; often, indeed. But in the very long run the concern of you people is with the absolute good, ahead of all else. You are like fanatics. Your masters, at any rate. Like the old Crusaders -- oh, like certain groups in every belief, though this is not a matter of religion, of course. At the centre of the Light there is a cold white flame, just as at the centre of the Dark there is a great black pit bottomless as the Universe."
His warm, deep voice ended, and there was only the roar of the engine. Will looked out over the grey-misted fields, silent.
"There was a great long speech, now," John Rowlands said awkwardly. "But I was only saying, be careful not to forget that there are people in this valley who can be hurt, even in the pursuit of good ends."
Will heard again in his mind Bran's anguished cry as the dog Cafall was shot dead, and heard his cold dismissal: go away, go away... And for a second another image, unexpected, flashed into his mind out of the past: the strong, bony face of Merriman his master, first of the Old Ones, cold in judgment of a much-loved figure who, through the frailty of being no more than a man, had once betrayed the cause of the Light.
He sighed. "I understand what you are saying," he said sadly. "But you misjudge us, because you are a man yourself. For us, there is only the destiny. Like a job to be done. We are here simply to save the world from the Dark. Make no mistake, John, the Dark is rising, and will take the world to itself very soon if nothing stands in its way. And if that should happen, then there would be no question ever, for anyone, either of warm charity or of cold absolute good, because nothing would exist in the world or in the hearts of men except that bottomless black pit. The charity and the mercy and the humanitarianism are for you, they are the only things by which men are able to exist together in peace. But in this hard case that we the Light are in, confronting the Dark, we can make no use of them. We are fighting a war. We are fighting for life or death -- not for our life, remember, since we cannot die. For yours."
He reached his hand behind him, over the back of the seat, and Pen licked it with his floppy wet tongue.
"Sometimes," Will said slowly, "in this sort of a war, it is not possible to pause, to smooth the way for one human being, because even that one small thing could mean an end of the world for all the rest."
A fine rain began to mist the windscreen. John Rowlands turned on the wipers, peering forward at the grey world as he drove. He said, "It is a cold world you live in, bachgen. I do not think so far ahead, myself. I would take the one human being over all the principle, all the time."
Will slumped down low in his seat, curling into a ball, pulling up his knees. "Oh, so would I," he said sadly. "So would I, if I could. It would feel a lot better inside me. But it wouldn't work."
-- Susan Cooper, The Grey King
(Hat tip, Overcoming Bias)