As Ditty turned away, Eryximachus listlessly pushed his door. It took his cue, swinging shut with ease. The sorcerer closed his eyes, feeling his ribcage shakily expand as he tried to relax. Anxiety has gripped him for some hours now, much to his shame.
He replayed the words he had just spoken, letting his ruminations get the better of him. To his core, he believed what he had said – killing Whiston was a mistake. At the same time, it had to happen – didn’t it?
The borrowed bed creaked as Eryximachus sat down, his face sinking into his hands. If he could only slow his thoughts for a moment. If he could just catch his breath. If he could just have a moment of calm lucidity.
Only now was Eryximachus remembering it was not only the general stupidity of people that drove him to mountains. Not only were their words insufferable, but with people came complications. Always some drama… A scaled arm rose as the man grimaced, his headache only getting worse. He could see it. The crowds of clamoring people who would want to hear of his involvement with the slaying of the wicked dragon. How his cave, once a private bastion, would become an echo chamber for their harassment.
He took a breath, attempting to focus.
I understand this anxiety. Of course I would feel this way. It’s a logical consequence of all the recent activity. It is a great departure from my norm. Dealing with multiple people over an extended amount of time after years of mostly solitude – of course.
The sorcerer took another breath, feeling calmer.
I value my norm. Of course I do. I am human in the end. I will have a proclivity to attachment. I understand this… With a clam hand, Eryximachus straitened his bed, before lying himself down. He continued to control his breathing. I prefer solitude. I am attached to my home. But, in my fear I have lost sight of the truths of this world.
Before Eryximachus could follow his line of thought any longer, a knock at the door roused him. Meloditty stood by her word to send up food. The man lightened slightly, remembering Fellocha for a moment. It was pleasant to have the occasional interaction. One-on-one was easy to handle.
Usually. On the other side of the door Sin held a tray. You can imagine shifting from anxiety, to fond reminding, to being confronted with someone you don’t care for offering good food would be a lot to handle. Well, Eryximachus was especially ungraceful in handling emotion, especially a blur of them. He could only look to the younger man with exhausted, but cold eyes and utter a short acknowledgement. With a grateful, but curt nod, the man took his tray and retreated back into his room, away from the festivities.
Settling down at a desk, the man rolled back his sleeved and prepared to eat. Though the vapors wafting off the bounty reached his nostrils, Eryximachus was too preoccupied to returning to the logical sorting of his issues to notice the smell. For him, the food held little taste.
So, preference. A man can have his preferences, fine. But everything he truly needs comes from within. Temperance, discipline, courage, being just, understanding his place in the nature of this world and universe. Virtue is within my control. Nothing external will truly make me happy. The external is unreliable. I prefer my solitude. But that condition of living is an external factor. Everything I need to live the good life is with me even if I am deprived of my preferences. I cannot make myself dependent on my desires. My desires serve me, not the other way around.
As he ate, the sorcerer became more and more distant from the meal. Methodically, he reemphasized his personal mantras to himself. He tucked his anxiety away by reiterating to himself that the things he cared about didn’t matter. His attachments, his preferences, were just that – preferences. Nothing necessary.
His stoicism had faulted. Which is fine. He reasoned how he was human, and so had inherited faults. He could forgive himself. Inner strength and virtue was an action that had to be repeated ceaselessly. He accepted that. Aspired to it.
And so, later, when he stood at the top of the stairs overlooking the halted party, he could only sigh. It seemed his philosophical rigor would begin being put to the test.