He didn’t know why, but long rides were the only time Red ever really sat down and read. Sure, there was the movie, if you were lucky, or a walkman if you weren’t, either was enough to hold his attention, but something about the environment made him feel guilty for all the reading he should have been doing. So he was finally getting some use out of one of his christmas presents, which was good. This was a victory, to be celebrated for sure; but for all the hype, the magic question answering demon had just opened more doors. Red needed something else to think about for awhile.
As it turned out, this was not the right book for that. Every sentence seemed to jump out at him, forcing itself into relevance to the present or the future. By the 3rd chapter, it was too much. In a 2500 year old book, he read exactly why he was screwed.
“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”
The more he tried to put together what he knew, the more some quote he had learned in school came to mind: All I know is that I know nothing. Red had learned more about Tremaine, her tactics, her motivations, and the extents to which she would go for a weapon, enough to know that she was definitely an enemy, but one that had to be tolerated for the time being. Still, he had no idea what inspired such fierce loyalty among her soldiers, or what her weaknesses were.
Red had, finally, learned something about the Freehold and the Eighties. Galt, the queen of Spring in the ultimate city of desire, thought she had the power to reclaim the broken throne and stand against the Gentry. Apparently this was such lunacy that the other courts united against her. Red almost couldn’t picture it, Coyote passing up the greatest weapon the Lost had ever built and sacrificing the power of Summer to do it. Why? If the fight was truly that hopeless, then their court was defunct. And why was this shakeup kept so deathly quiet, a lot of the freehold had lived through the change and yet refused to even mention it. And did the monarchs know Galt was still in the tower?
Even what Red knew abut himself was changing. He had been a soldier since his durance, sometimes the life sucked, but you always knew your place. But now? He had disobeyed direct directives from Baz and strong suggestions from Coyote to strike against Galt if the opportunity presented itself. Hell, he had [[:128609 | Pockets] alone in the hedge and had a friendly conversation with the bastard, all because Red made an independent call that Galt in Spring would be stronger against the Pelts and Sucks than Neon. He had information kept from him, that was part of being a soldier, but this time he was taking it personally. Jess was here for the 80’s, and nothing happened in the hedge without her knowing, and she hadn’t said shit about Galt. More than that, though, Red wasn’t sure he was expendable anymore. He had his family and connections in this town, and couldn’t name a changeling short of the Monarchs he didn’t think he’d have at least a fair chance against in a fight. The first night he felt his mantle, after pledging to Summer, it was hard to distinguish its heat from his own, he thought it was normal, but the more courtiers he met the more he realized only the King’s burned brighter. Even outside the court, the way people treated him was changing. Sure, some of them still treated him like dumb muscle, but there was a tone of respect with it, as if they were speaking to an equal, or even a superior. And more than any of that, Red could feel it. He could feel his power growing, and he knew he wasn’t doing it on purpose. Something in him was changing, maybe not as radical as what had happened to Ondrej, but still significant.
The Order was the next step. That was what Red had resolved to call the organization he was trying to form, it was appropriate enough, and Ondrej had really helped with organizing it. Two brotherhoods, one of the watch, to monitor threats from the other supernaturals, and one of the guard, to stand ready to strike against them, and a Lord of each. Originally, he had just wanted something informal, just a clearing house for relevant intelligence and a coordination point for a possible attach, but now he felt like his eyes had been opened to what it could truly become. If Galt had their own little Satrapy, why couldn’t those whose intentions could actually be called noble? If forged properly, this brotherhood could be a weapon, for Red and for the freehold. And if people kept thinking of him as a grunt for now, he was more than ok with that. After all, “Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.” Maybe things were looking up.
But Red knew he was fooling himself. As much of a threat as they were, the wolves and vamps had never dragged him to Arcadia, never poisoned the dreams and lives of his family, and even if they killed him they could never drag him back. The Keepers were still out there. Red was slowly finding out that, at least for now, he knew neither himself or the army he had joined, and the They were unknowable. “It is the rule in war, if ten times the enemy’s strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, be able to divide them; if equal,engage them; if fewer, be able to evade them; if weaker, be able to avoid them.” Even with the might of The Tower, the belief that the Lost were even able to engage the Keepers was apparently arrogant to the point of insanity, so they were stuck to evasion, at least for now. But Red wasn’t willing to give up hope in his court or his people, their day would come. “If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.” One day, the tower would lead an armada of its ilk at the head of an army of Changelings to blast open the gates of Arcadia and take their vengeance. That day is still far away. But it will come.