Linvin took deep breaths as the bandages were placed. “And now?” he asked in a pained voice.
“Now,” Rander replied, “I am both humbled and frightened. It was easy to not feel fear when I felt we were on a frivolous camping trip, but now that I see there is real danger, my feet move forward more slowly.”
“The dangers out here have not changed cousin,” Linvin pointed out. “Your awareness is simply heightened.”
“I’m not just talking about the dangers out here Linvin. What about the Red Sapphire itself? I mean, what do we really know about it? No one has seen it in generations and the stories I’ve heard make me question whether this is something we even want to find.”
“What stories are these?” asked Linvin.
“Old elves in the village used to tell stories about it. They said it was used to destroy armies and towns. It started fires and killed all who stood before it. Such power is not meant for this world Linvin. Now that I know it is real, I think maybe searching for it is not such a wise move.”
“Those stories are told from a certain point of view,” Linvin pointed out. “Those town’s people had a very narrow view of the world. Varns is a conservative town, with people who distrust what they do not understand and if they do not understand it, then it must be evil.”
“I see the Red Sapphire as a tool. Like other tools, the one who wields it, determines the use. A sword, for example, can be used to bring peace or end peace. Only its bearer can decide which will happen.”
“But that sword,” Rander began, “may be bringing peace by destruction. If you are the one on the receiving end of that sword, you may not find it so peaceful.”
“Peace,” Linvin explained, “can only be found when the threat of force is present. After all, is peace not defined as an absence of force? Without that threat, there can be no reason to seek peace. As long as one person wants to control another, their hand will only be stayed by the threat force provides.”
“Then by your definition Linvin, right and wrong are only determined by what side you are on.”
“Is that not how the world works?” Linvin asked. “Men who go to war always feel that they are in the right. Those who fight them surely feel that their cause is just. If one side of a coin is up, then the other must be down.”
“Then that would prove that the old elves were right,” Rander surmised. “If you were on the receiving end of the Red Sapphire’s power, then it would be an evil thing.”
“That,” Linvin retorted, “is exactly why I must find it before the people who murdered my parents do. In the wrong hands, it could destroy the world as we know it.”
“But does that make yours the right hands?” Rander asked. “What would you use it to do? Perhaps from someone ease’s perspective, you would be the evil one.”
“The staff made the Red Sapphire’s purpose most clear,” said Linvin. “I am to safeguard the helpless and defend those who cannot defend themselves. That is my charge and my destiny. It is no coincidence that my life has trained me for the purpose of standing as one against many. The Red Sapphire has entrusted me to use its power. Now, I must repay that trust by fulfilling the responsibility for which I have been predisposed.”
“Let’s assume that you find the gem before the killers do,” Rander supposed, “what will you use it for? I mean the lofty goals you speak of are fine, but how will you not become what you hate? Power has corrupted many a man Linvin. Would you use that power to seek vengeance against the assassins? If you destroyed them, would you not be just as evil as they are? It is your two sided coin again Linvin. From their perspective, you would be the one in the wrong.”
Linvin paused a moment to collect his thoughts. “We each define morality by what is in our own hearts. If I were to find my parent’s killers, it would be hard for me not to make them pay for their crimes. As for my other deeds, I would rely on my own conscience to guide my hand. If the Red Sapphire chose me to use its power, then it must view morality in the same manner as I.”
“How would that morality embrace vengeance?” asked Rander.
After another pause, Linvin answered most strenuously, “It would be embraced as bringing justice, not revenge.”
“Ah, you see,” Rander said, “those are the two sides of your coin. To you, it is justice, but to them, it is vengeance. In the end, it is really the same. You would use force to gain peace. Can you understand now why I am scared?”
“Every man,” Linvin began, “must draw a line and say the things on one side are right, and the things on the other side are wrong. There will always be those who see it differently than you. When my days are done, I want to be able to say that I defended those principles and the people who believed in them. If I hold to those beliefs, then I will have made a difference worth remembering whether I find the Red Sapphire or not.”
“My question to you, Rander, is whether you will be with me on my side of that line, or will you stand opposed?”
It was Rander’s turn to think over his response. “If I look deep into my heart cousin, I would like to think that I am on your side. That does not mean however, that I will not challenge your views if they conflict with my own.”
Linvin laughed and said, “Why would you stop now?” Rander could not help but laugh along with his stricken cousin.