“You are mad,” I told him, when he revealed to me his plan, but even as the words left my mouth, I knew that it was not so, for I had seen the face of madness often enough to be able to recognize it. One could not handle money and not see it, although many pretend otherwise.
Personally, I had seen it in Afghanistan, taken by savages, who had not been content to merely rob me from my life. Seeking to strip me of my sanity, also, they had instead found themselves at the mercy of one entirely unfamiliar with the concept - and I, in turn, had found myself not only still in possession of my rational mind, but indebted to a man I had barely begun to understand. (If indeed he was a man. I had my doubts, on occasion.)
Still, whatever qualities he might or might not possess, I was his, as he was mine.
“If you would define the common mode of thinking as 'sane', then, yes,” said he. “I am mad.”
He was humoring me, I felt, deflating my argument not by puncturing it, but by gently twisting it unto itself. After all, by his definition, was I not mad, too? Were not all the brave men and women supporting the Restorationist movement?
“I meant that it cannot be done.” I let my tone convey to him my annoyance at being treated less like a valued companion and more like an ill-tempered cat, in need of having its fur stroked.
“Certainly, it has never been done before,” he allowed.
“Because it is impossible,” said I, astonished to detect a hint of doubt in my voice. Perhaps I should not have been; hope, as they still say, even now, springs eternal, after all, and while we had found ourselves in some tight spots over the past years, I had never again experienced the despair I had felt in that cave in Afghanistan.
Even the dreams of that place were coming less frequent now, as if his mere presence sufficed to keep them at bay. (My leg still pained me, though, when one of Them was nearby. Once, that hurt had saved our lives; twice, it had nearly cost us them.)
“Unlikely, rather. Or no - “ said he, shaking his head. “ - not even that. Merely very difficult.”
“Difficult,” I echoed. The enormity of what was being discussed here made my heart feel like it might burst. (A figure of speech, only, I trust the reader will infer.) For, while I had heard many people speak of fights and revolutions, never had anyone within my hearing spoken of the thing my friend was speaking of now, and so casually.
In this moment, I realized I loved him more than any other living person in this world. Gladly, I would damn my soul for him; more gladly still, would I surrender my sanity, were he to ask it.
He would not, I knew. Not even if the very fate of the world were to hang in the balance, as it did, for if we were to accomplish this feat, his plan, then how could others not follow the example we had given them, accept for fact that which our actions would have given them irrefutable proof of?
Mere moments ago, he had scoffed at the sanity of our fellow men, dismissed them as no longer in possession of such facilities as reason and logic. On this one matter, though, I felt he might be wrong.
Fear may dull a man's mind and blind his intellect, but show him a recourse, a means to take back control and he will seize upon it as a starving man would a loaf of bread.
It was what I had done myself, after all, and I were not so proud as to think myself a better man than others, although I might well prove myself worse, at least in their eyes.
When a soldier kills, in a war, it is accepted as a part of his duty. But when man kills man outside of war, for mere pleasure or profit or even for reasons that he has convinced himself to be valid, he becomes something less than a man. He becomes nothing more than a criminal. A murderer.
(I have heard it argued we should not degrade ourselves by putting an end to the lives of people such as those. Certainly, some excellent articles have been written on the subject, although most will prove hard to acquire these days, given that justice and law are subjects falling under Their authority and any papers dealing with such things are thus to be considered highly seditionary.)
To serve my country and its Queen, I had been a soldier. I had killed people and been at peace with myself, after, for had I not, then certainly they would have robbed me of my own life. (And worse, although at the time, I had not know it.)
To serve the great cause of the Restoration and, more, to stand by my one remaining friend, could I do any less? Was the Restoration in itself not a war, with us its soldiers and all of the world its battlefield? And was the freedom of all mankind not far more deserving of my loyalty than my country and its Queen?
“What is very difficult for one man alone, may prove a great deal easier to accomplish when undertaken by two,” said I, my gaze conveying to him the things I would not put into words.
Miraculously, for perhaps a fraction of a second, he looked utterly astonished. It may have been a trick of the light, though, for our quarters at that time were not well-illuminated.
“Indeed,” said he and then: “Thank you,” thereby prompting an expression of astonishment to take possession of my own face, lasting a good deal longer than a mere second.
“I would not see you embark upon this perilous journey with anyone other than myself by your side, and I flatter myself to think you could not wish to do so, either,” said I.
“Flattery, my dear?” said he, shaking his head and smiling in spite of the grim course we had just set for ourselves. “It is but simple truth, as you are well-aware.”
I bent my head and cast my mind to people I knew, or had known, who might possess knives of the quality and quantity we would want; many of them, and sharp.