Thursday, March 29, 2018

Page 1638

There arrived a very long silence as Hector deliberated over what to say. He knew that he wanted to say something, and perhaps Garovel could somehow tell, because the reaper was giving him plenty of time to think.

Would more context help, Hector wondered? He wasn’t so sure that it would. And it wasn’t like Garovel hadn’t provided any, already. A culture where bloodshed was common as eating and sleeping, the reaper had said.

Hector was grasping. ‘Was it... like, ah... w-were you following orders? Or I mean, was it, uh, peer pressure or something?

...I suppose I could make those arguments,’ said Garovel very calmly and slowly. ‘And there would even be truth in them. Certainly, if I had refused to follow orders, I would have been flogged and possibly executed. And there was definitely an element of peer pressure to it as well. Every culture has peer pressure, to some extent, else it wouldn’t really function as a culture.

But if I am being entirely honest with both myself and with you, then, no. I believed quite strongly in what I was doing. I truly thought that those innocent people were simply not innocent. I thought they were evil and traitorous.

Hector frowned inside his helmet. ‘I don’t suppose... there’s any chance they actually were evil and traitorous, is there?

The reaper gave a weak laugh. ‘You’re really trying to give me the benefit of the doubt, aren’t you?

I just... I don’t know.

Well. Contrary to what I may have said in the past, I am not omniscient. So maybe they were traitorous in some capacity. Maybe they were even evil, by some strange definition. But the fact of the matter was that I didn’t have any good justification for believing so. And yet I did.

Hector didn’t have anything to say.

Garovel wasn’t done, though. ‘The killings were horrible enough, obviously, but I also don’t want to understate the seriousness of burning down those libraries. These days, the whole world is a library, thanks to technology, so the loss of one is not nearly as much of a tragedy. In those days, though? I’m certain I helped destroy knowledge that could not have been found anywhere else. Probably even knowledge that remains lost even to this day. There’s no way to tell. And when I imagine the potential rippling effect of that lost knowledge throughout history... it makes me wonder how many other innocent people might have been saved.

That’s... that’s unknowable, Garovel. You shouldn’t think like that.

It was the reaper’s turn not to say anything.

And there was more silence. Hector wanted to say something, but this was all a lot to take in, and he didn’t want to say something he didn’t mean. He especially didn’t want to say something that he knew was wrong, because even if it sounded good, it probably wouldn’t help.

Garovel had just bent over backwards to tell him the truth. Hector didn’t want to betray that effort by lying to him.

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