“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.
We are what we repeatedly do.”
We met with Falco after some convincing to bring him and his tribe on board. He was clearly weary and brought a small army to confront the six of us which seemed to rub Julius the wrong way. But seeing what Witches are capable of has been an eye-opening experience and I believe that if we really were hostile his dozen or so Wolves wouldn’t have been enough. There was some posturing between us and on more than one occasion I was weary of Valko and Julius’ ability to keep their reserve. He wanted to posture and reassert that Wolves weren’t just kindling for the fire which I let him work out of his system. In truth that’s a small thing to ask for what we were wanting of him. Fevrier volunteered to have her blood tasted so Falko could trust what we were telling him and I’m surprised she agreed. I think he might have gleamed more than even she planned which I’m hoping to hear more about at a later time. Despite Falko’s slight hostility toward me he still treated the girls with care which endeared him to me somewhat. I appreciated his caution with the girls and the respect he treated them with which mattered far more to me than listening to him beat his chest. Part of our agreement was returning eight females, all with “cubs”, to his fold from the Ferals that took them. I’ll admit I was surprised by his request. Either he wanted to get something out of our deal and that was next on his list of things to accomplish or he foresees casualties among his own should he take it on himself. Still, the rescue of his own Pack isn’t something I thought he’d entrust to us and in a weird way made me more trusting of him. While I don’t agree with his assessment of what makes a tactical advantage, I did agree to let him scout out where the Witches were held up in hopes of ambushing them before the meeting. I didn’t think he’d move on the Witches without us and I know he wants to keep his own casualties to a minimum so I assumed he’d exercise appropriate caution.
After returning to prep the Family and seeing them all to sleep for the day, we took to the roof to watch the sun come up. I appreciated being present for Julius and Falko’s reactions, I know I’ve never really known what it’s like to miss the day like they do. Even though it doesn’t mean as much to me as it does to them I feel like I can appreciate what I have more through watching how they reacted. A third of the Family can now operate during the day and that’s no small thing. After we spent some time relaxing a bit, or at least as much as we could. I watched Vita destroy Valko as easily as he beat me in chess and tried to help him save a bit of face by pointing out that Vita can see the future even though her and I both know it doesn’t work like that. She really is just that good and why wouldn’t she be? She’s had a lot of time to practice.
I’m still making an effort to build something between us. I know some pretty basic psychology so things like keeping her around in extremely personal situations, times when I’d much rather be alone, are hopefully going to help me make a connection to her. Still, our interactions are verbal sparing matches while we try to feel out what each other is made of. I tried to open up to her about my only qualm with Alexander and how there’s one thing I wanted that’s lacking in our relationship. She made a solid case for why which I hadn’t considered and the fresh perspective helped a bit Ultimately I didn’t want her to do anything other than just listen since I’m trying to help her understand more about who I am. If she knows what’s important to me it puts her in a position to make decisions conscious of my feelings which would go a long way to gaining my trust but the conversation ended abruptly. She made an off-hand comment about Elle and I being “debbie downers” which put me off. Not because I was offended by what she said, I know most of what I talk with her about is rooted in sobering subjects, but because it abruptly occurred to me that Elle and I might have been a better match than I am with Vita. Once more, Julius and Vita probably would’ve been better together than the two of us are. I think that bothers me more than anything else, the diea that we’ll spend the rest of our existence together realizing we could have made a better choice. That line of thought takes me back to the idea that Vita might take it upon herself to make decisions she believes are best for all of us without consulting us. She hasn’t done anything since our first meeting that would lead me to believe she would but I don’t think she quite understands that I’d rather take second place with my own hard work than have someone give me first. Still, I respect her gift for insight and if she consulted me first I’d probably almost always concede. Most of what she’s told me so far is smoke instead of substance, and the only thing I know that’s of any value to me about her is that she doesn’t want to be alone.
I spent the day coming up with contingencies for the battle and I’ll be the first to admit that having the Witches on our side was extremely handy. They were able to negate my most serious concern which could have resulted in one of our deaths had it not been accounted for. With very little ceremony, they crafted a spell to render us immune to Witchfire which was alarmingly effective. Once again I’m reminded of how truly dangerous Witches can be in their own element but there’s no denying that they bring a pretty extreme advantage to the Family. As optimistic as I am about what we can accomplish together, I’m even more weary of what might happen should we have a falling out. Like everything that had happened up until this point, the ceremony made me even more weary of Vita and what she can do. I’m truly unsettled by the idea that the only reason we’re standing on equal footing is because of her self-imposed limitations but the only thing I can think to do is bust my ass until I can stand toe to toe with her. The beast in me isn’t worried, especially after ripping Ereshki to shreds, but this one time I just can’t accept it. There’s too much at stake.
Overall the battle went well. The Alpha’s tribe was more or less one giant deterrent and didn’t have much to do in the fight but the Alpha himself proved capable as expected. Fortunately for him the fight was over quickly because Ereshki used her power to incite infighting among his tribe. Strange that the only casualties suffered for the night were by those that weren’t even involved in the fight. He left pretty shortly after the Witch heads hit the floor to calm his pack, and I’m sure he’ll fault us for the loss of life, but it’s clear to me that Falco’s tribe isn’t nearly as disciplined as the family is. Falco’s weakness in his in pack, while Alexander’s strength comes from his. Still, we expected casualties and I don’t know what more Falco could have expected from us since it was the family, not his pack, that hit the Witches head on when the fighting started. Once more Falko seems to have taken a liking to Fevrier, he seemed humored (aroused maybe?) when she interrupted him to talk over him. Neither strikes me as the type that likes to share, hopefully the Tower of Sass realizes that.
Even after my warning to the family that Witch blood could be extremely toxic, Alexander still sunk his fangs into Deliverance. The side effects were severe but he seems to be making a quick recovery as expected. While all eyes were on him I was more interested in observing how the Family reacted to seeing him vulnerable. It’s pretty clear by their reactions that it’s been some time since anything meaningfully threatened Alexander. Admittedly I was worried about his well-being, I don’t know that I’m even capable of turning that off, but unlike probably everyone else in the family I agree with the call Alexander made. He took the most efficient route to quickly disable his foe even at great cost and prevented what could have been some pretty disastrous fallout had Deliverance even had three more seconds to wreak havoc upon us. Once more he found a very elegant way to only put himself in danger, spare the Family, and secure a decisive and swift victory while dealing with the repercussions after the fight had already concluded. Alexander is every ounce the tactician I’ve read and for the first time in a long time I was impressed by another soldier in the field. I always knew that Alexander was a warrior without peer in body, it’s reassuring to see that his mind is just as sharp as his sword. Not that there was ever any doubt. While I’m sure most of the Family was put off by his decision even though they’d never question him, I feel the exact opposite. It’s the first time I ever felt like I was truly a part of something bigger than myself and I’ll always remember the first time Alexander and I took the field together with both of us acting as extensions of the same person in both body and mind. I’ve been struggling to find my place in the world but after the events that unfolded last night, I’m happy with where I wound up.