EPHEMERA: TO FIGHT MONSTERS

PRYOR: After a string of peacekeeping brutality incidents, the Amagium’s famously martial training regimen has come under close scrutiny. Detractors argue that the curriculum is abusive rather than rigorous.

Tonight, we are privileged to host Master Amagia Ermeah Melville, Instructor of Arms at Central California’s San Jose Athenaeum, and Senator Clayer Gabel of Soundland. Thank you both for joining us. Now, Senator, you’ve had some harsh words for the Amagium, and you are running on a staunch anticordance platform. Care to begin?

GABEL: With pleasure, Raciel. Though, I would like to clarify, while my platform is pro-Amagiate reform, I am wary of the term ‘anticordance.’ Most ‘anticordance activists’ are actually moderates who feel the need for reasonable change, but it is also invoked by Amagium abolitionists, and even Unbranded terrorists. I believe that the Amagium is still a necessary institution in modern life, but we have reached a breaking point in terms of the need for governmental oversight. And I think that is most evident with how they handle our children.

The Athenaeum’s curriculum is an indoctrination of brutality. Plain and simple. Children are forced to fight each other, they are trained to channel the very magic the Amagium purports to police, and they justify it with a myth I like to call the “Good Guy with A Fireball.” In brief, it is the notion that a well-aimed piece of pyromancy will save more lives than it will endanger. Establishing asfalis government oversight over the Amagium, and their Athenaeums in particular, is my platform’s core tenet.

PRYOR: Master Amagia, care to respond?

MELVILLE: You are absolutely correct, Senator. The quickdraw hero who saves the day by casting first is a destructive fantasy at best. But it is also popular strawman built by those who believe the world can avoid conflict all together. The truth remains: once bad men start shooting, somebody must shoot back.

GABEL: And who holds those noble shooters accountable? Other amagia. And the same is true of your training methods. We have heard absolute horror stories coming from former amagia and aspirants, and without proper oversight, those abuses will continue. My platform aims to establish reasonable, governmental oversight with democratic input from asfalis citizens. We need to change the narrative surrounding—

MELVILLE: Tell me senator: will your reframed narrative persuade a feral loup garou to halt its rampage? Can it ease the bloodlust of ghouls or jiangshi?

GABEL:  Come now, Master Melville, I know that where fae and monsters are concerned, violence is often the only option. But our children are being conditioned to view the entire world based on that premise. For example, why is it necessary for aspirants pursuing peaceful magical disciplines, say, Arcanistry or Leximancy, to train in pugilism?

MELVILLE: [after a pause]When aspirants arrive at twelve-to-fifteen-years-old, we have them spar. This practice dates back to the Greek civilizations that predated the First Amagium. It is one of the few traditions to survive the destruction of Athens. The belief is that only a trained body can house a trained mind. Exercising one’s wyrd in tense situations makes it stronger and more responsive, regardless of what other purposes it is applied to. But it is also prudent to teach all aspirants self-defense at an early age, as Amagia are often feared and targeted by criminals and asfalis citizens alike, regardless of their chosen discipline.

[Gabel opens his mouth to speak, but Melville holds up her hand and continues, louder:]

Admittedly, these are pretenses. The truth is that we have them fight because we must test their aptitude, and appetite, for combat. If either of those qualities is out of balance, we deny them access to the study of violent magic, and in some cases, expel them outright. Those who are permitted—and only those who are permitted—are subject to the very magics they study, so they may learn the gravity of what they wield and appreciate the fragility that makes us human. To do otherwise would divorce consequence from capability.

It is true, Senator, that violence begets villainy and monsters. But villains and monsters will also arise unbidden. And if we are not protected by people who understand violence—intimately—the villains and monsters will win.

“Gemini 1st, 2343.” NewsHour. Erician Public Programming Service. Broadcast on Gemini 1st, 2343 from WNET studios in Los Angeles, Southern California of the Pacific States of Ericia. Symvision transcript.