Cult of the Zenith
Weakness in Body is Death.
The flesh is a vessel. A housing designed to hold ourselves inside, a creation of sand and dust, wood and stone. But without it, we lose our form. Ghosts are those only things that have no physical permeance – even the elementals of wind know substance. Tending to your body does not make you ‘vain’, so long as your spirit is not weakened by it. Flight from battle is not cowardice, it is practical, but only when there is no chance for victory. Flight before that line has been known, however, shows a lack of courage. Death is the result of weakness in the body – when your flesh can no longer sustain you, you will die.
The Body and Mind are One.
In your flesh lies your soul; with your soul comes the life to sustain it. You cannot neglect either; so maintain both. Listen to your body – it will tell you when you do not wish to eat, when you do not need to sleep. If it calls for mating, or rage, listen to it, but do not forget that the mind dictates it, and is the only thing that keeps us from the animals. Do not press these things onto it when they are unneeded, or ignore it when it protests for the lack. Whatever form of weapon you hold, it is your flesh that must wield it.
Likewise, do not fail to heed your soul’s plight if it comes; any man will be overcome by fear or guilt if you ignore such. Take time when you need it, to tend to your mind’s calm; it is here your maps are drawn, your sigils written, and your speeches made. Meditate if you must, but do not fall to inaction. Forgiveness, here, is also a key; if you cannot learn to accept yourself, you have already decided the fate of your battles.
Health is Gained, not Given.
The overweight man who complains of their heart has been poisoning themselves to achieve that goal. If I were to eat the toxin of snakes, and have it in my blood by needles, would you listen when I cry for my agony? Your food, and drink, what you breathe and take into your body is what keeps your body maintained for physical needs. Fatted foods, intoxicating liquors, drugged smokes, needles of substances illicit, these will add their vice to your being. And to enslave yourself to such is to show to others that you care not for your own mastery. Your body will weaken from it.
How else would you expect the flesh to react, than in disgust to your actions?
Rigors and Trials are Welcome.
What is a hero without his challenge to overcome? What is a battle without an opponent? When difficulties arise, it is either by those who fear you, or know not of you. Welcome the chance to overcome both – those that fear you have reason to, and those that know you not will soon hear of you. Even the elements will know your name one day, and tremble.
Strength is Savage Truth.
Might is indeed right. Anything beyond this simple law of nature is whimsy, broken by those who choose to ignore it. Those who ignore this simple truth lack a mind to call on. Those that make a show, however, of breaking social grace, a bluster about their strength, hide that they are weak. And so, in truth, it is only your own strength that keeps your moral code ‘just’. If you cannot defend it, you will fall to the fires of those who were likewise crushed before you. Do not become such, and you will have all you desire.
Pain is an Illusion.
The body may protest when it injures or falls sick, but this is always, and ever, a call of the flesh alone. The mind is what allows wounds to be sewn shut with thread or magic. The spirit is what animates the corpse that we call our flesh. And as with hunger, or fatigue, pain too should be overlooked when it leads only to fear and inaction.
In truth, pain gives fuel to your flesh. Your body seeks to avoid pain, and so will become stronger when suffering. Use it, and allow it to strengthen you. When your muscles scream for the fire in your blood, you will have power beyond your imagining – spells and weapons alike are enhanced when you seek release from your agony.
Know the Goal of Your Flesh.
A man may spend their time in training, but never know what area to train. A weak warrior, not as fast, strong, tough, or agile as his foes, he will be dominated on the field. Your body is your own tool, but a tool has a purpose. Know what you build yours to become, and remain steadfast in it.
So too, does a craftsman have his aim. A blacksmith does not decide half into his work to make a mace instead of a sword. The materials and time before are wasted. When we talk of your flesh, your flesh is the only material involved.
Tenets of the Breath – Ways of the Mind and Wind.
Vanity is a Weakness.
Do not heed the call of your ego; too many have fallen to their thoughts of superiority. Take your measure in honest counts – it is only you who keeps that record, so deception to yourself is utter foolishness. Claim nothing over any; you cannot take the credit for their action, good or bad. Likewise, the trappings of pride should be shunned – gold, fine things, praise of others, and sexual advances – all these weaken you, and distract you from your aims. Do not fail on this, else ruin awaits.
Tradition is a Tool.
Too often, we are told that things are ‘not done’ in this way or another. Ignore the old and the frail who use tradition to limit you. As a club to a mace, and a dagger to a sword, all things evolve. Those that do not will cry loudest about it.
Fear is a Deception.
Only one thing dictates your destiny. That is your goals, ambitions, and will. To be distracted from such is to fall to the machinations of fate, to the plans and aims of others who would prey on you. If something arises that distracts you, it is to be shunned, even if that distraction is fear, or intimidation. Your fear will tell you that there is a challenge you are not yet ready to face. Listen to it, but do not let it rule you, lest you fall prey to what you do indeed wish to avoid.
Battle is for Slaughter.
In the heat of combat, there is only one true ending. One is defeated, the other does not. No other concerns are worthy of this scenario, for they are clouds that hide the map and movement of your foes. Until the blood has cleared, do what is needed to achieve that one true ending, even if such is to pull back and move to another location for recuperation. If there is a retreat, then no ending is achieved. Remember this – for a running foe will only be a foe to return.
Know to Find Allies.
A solitary lion is prey to a band of hyena. A single dragonhawk will be slaughtered by a pack of lynx.
Imagine the strength of a flock of dragonhawk, and remember the potency of a pride of lions. Even the strong know numbers increase their own.
By that measure, beware of those who too readily offer their aid, or ask yours. In any alliance, both should clearly gain from the grouping. If there is no sign for it, then they hide it from you. And no friendly aim is hidden from your sight.
Confusion is Temporary.
If your way is not clear, and the path is hidden, choose a direction and take it. No matter what the circumstances are for your predicament, you will find where you are, and where you need to go, only by moving. Waiting for the confusion to clear is an appointment with a slow death by inaction.
Inaction is Still an Action.
If a man is armed, and prepared for battle, but stands by and watches you fight to your death, then he is also your opponent. Scorn and belittle them, for they are too your enemy.
Advantages are not Everything.
When the winds are favorable, it is just a benefit. No matter the grade of your equipment, what spells and blessings you have for yourself, they will remain benefits. No matter the experience in your limbs, the courage in your heart, they are simply benefits. Location, timing, numbers, size. simple benefits.
When you trust to these benefits to carry you to victory, you allow fate to decide for you, and fate is a fickle mistress eager to devour you. Capture, and hold them. Watch your opponent, and decide your choices as they will have you win. Look for their weaknesses, and use your benefits to their advantage. Look for their benefits, and find how to deny them such. Only then, when you think of your opponent, will you master them. Fate will then prey on another.
Tenets of the Will – Ways of Courage and Fire.
Dedication is Courage.
Even should the will falter, or design otherwise, you should always at least remember your commitments. A man who flees from a promise is both a coward and a liar. Scorn him.
Do Nothing by Small Measure.
If you are to face a single foe, plan to cover a squad. If a platoon is reported, plan for an army. Then, at least, when the numbers change, you are not surprised. In this same advice, if you must climb a hill, find a mountain. If you must steal an orange, take the tree. If you must achieve a goal, do it as big as you can.
Legends are not made of small events.
Perfection Comes with Cost.
You cannot find your own self-mastery by chance. No-one was born immortal, to achieve their penultimate through inheritance. Each day must be devoted to the next, better stage of yourself, without falter. This is the sacrifice you must make; to tend to yourself, and your training.
Be True to Yourself.
A warrior cannot campaign while his keep is divided. If you hesitate, or debate what your actions are to be, you have already given your foe an entrance. Learn to gain your own trust, and to act on that trust without delay. Then, you are true to yourself, and your conscience will forever be your servant.
Know the Fight.
A battle should be drawn when needed, but learn of the time to declare it. When two generals meet, they bluster, and pose, and threaten the other in a mockery of the packs of beasts that roam the land. Do not stoop to that level, to the growling and fluffing of beasts. As an adult, you should be beyond this.
If you face a battle to be found, mock your opponent, but subtlety is key. Watch their ego, and as with the fight to come, find the weaknesses to exploit. They will pose, and threaten, but they expect the same. Their words are as water, let them throw it as children at play. When you take no offense, and do not respond in kind, they will know doubt. Let them carry that into war.
No Unfair Advantage.
An ogre does not hold from throwing dirt at your eyes. A harpy will screech to curse you. Humans will drive blades into your back. In the dust of battle, there is no ‘unclean’ action to those who are dependant on the outcome. Use what you can, and admit so freely. Others may scorn you out of fear, but they will never call you a liar.
Know Your Choices.
You should always be aware of your alliances. Know who you fight with, and where you will take your battles. Do not ever allow that order to be confused. Always assess those same allies with the same eye you judge your enemies. A friend may be loved, and close to the heart, but if they cannot fight, leave them from it, even if it should injure their pride.
You Are Strength.
Never doubt to your own capabilities. You cannot achieve what you have already decided to be unobtainable. A child says “I cannot”. A master says “I already have”.
Wisdom Tempers Will.
Listen to your inner wisdom, however. I cannot leap a thousand-foot chasm and land the other side, without help from another influence – the twisting nether is without weight, and a wyvern may carry me. But my limbs will not suffice the difference.
Control is Eternal.
Do not fall prey to the whimsy of anyone; no master can own you, no chains can bind you, no foe can slay you, unless you fail to master yourself. Your own will shall choose your path, and your fate is prey to your own desires. Likewise, do not fall prey to the whimsy of your dreams; your ambitions, your hatred, your fears will consume you if you let them. Temper them, and make them strengthen you. Do not let them rule you.
You Are Destiny.
If you master your will, then nothing and no-one can claim to put you where you are. A king does not simply inherit his line – he holds it with iron will and tempered judgement. The weak, bitter king will curse his stars as led to the execution in a coup. The strong king knows he holds his post by his own actions.
Failure, or success, those two outcomes are only ever because of you.
Pride and Courage?
Too many ‘warriors’ take the effort to expect that their pride is their biggest ability. They boast, and swagger, and strike at each other. But when an opponent arises to face them, and threat comes to their precious pride, they slink away as wild dogs against the bear. The bear is not full of threat – it warns when and only when it strikes. The dog will bark, and often – but will only have courage in number.
Too often, they forget that bears can also travel in groups.
No matter the process by which you fight, your spells, your steel, your words, your service, you are always to be prepared for the combat that you will face. In everything, a sword is never unprepared for battle. Nor, by that regard, the fighter should be left unwary. Both are weapons always. As a master of your own path, you too are a weapon.
If a man brings a sword to a battle, bring a dagger. If he brings a knife, fight unarmed. Should a foe arise to face you, and you follow these practices, then the humble vanquished will know that you bested him without full effort. The complaint against that is the cry of a foe undefeated. Beat them into place again.
Also in this way, you face not only he, but yourself, for your own fear will tell you that your single disadvantage will cost you the fight.
Tenets of the Soul – Ways of Being and Water.
Honor is Purity.
Only the Ogres ignore the standings of all our people. Hold back from a surrendered foe; they may strengthen you for your mercy. Keep your hand from a foe that is unworthy of you; an apprentice is no challenge, and an infant should grant no tales of glory. Seek instead those of strength to challenge you – If you are great, so shall your actions be.
You are Always Visible.
No matter your method of combat, how you fight, who, and where, is always something at least two people know. Remember that even outside the battlefield, you are always the image you present of yourself. Clean speech, tempered tone, few words, and thoughtful action are always seen as the marks of a powerful man.
Or do you forget how swiftly the dirty, foul-mouthed, loud-mouthed churl is brought to humble position?
You should always remember your image.
Duty is Sacred.
Within everyone, there are many parts – parts which tend to their duty by nature, and through determined loyalty, they maintain that. When you have chosen your duty, do not make yourself false; to do so kills the greater part of you, and you will die with it.
Doubt Not Your Allies.
When you have selected to band with others, they are with you. Nothing else should be given thought to – your friend will not plot to kill you, troops below you will listen to what you say. Paranoia is the path that befalls the dead, and do not race to join them. Until a foe shows that they are no longer your friend in clear terms, then trust that they are still your friend.
To do so, however, you must also act in such a manner. Your comrade will not seek your life if you never give them cause to. If your men cannot trust you, then you cannot trust them. Like a good of barter, trust and respect are exchanged. Listen to this, and know the key to leadership.
Manipulation is an Attack.
Do not try to trick those around you into your aims. If you cannot ask a man to do a thing for you plainly, they must ask why you wish to hide it from them. If you hide your true aims from an ally, you have already made an enemy.
Treachery is reserved for your opponents, and a tool to be utilised to it’s advantage over the weak.
Remember this, and prosper.
Cherish the True Friend.
A mercenary will follow where the gold is led. A soldier will follow where the commander directs. A friend will follow you into the abyss on their own. Cherish such, for they are rare and beyond value.
Failure is Not Weakness.
If you cannot achieve a goal, but survive to attempt again, there is nothing scorned by it. It is nothing worthy of honor, but in a war ground is lost and gained. An army that never retreats is one soon forgotten.
Time to Fight, Time to Enjoy.
A warrior cannot always grace the field. Though his role is in the battle, a warrior’s life requires more than combat. Remember that if your allies are to relax themselves, they are merely releasing what is unneeded for the next fight. As long as they do not weaken themselves, it is only their morals that hold them in line. If they are strong enough to take slaves, then the vanquished is to be enjoyed. If they are strong enough for pillage, or looting, then have them enjoy their baubles. In balance of all things there is nature – there is a time for light, a time for dark. A time for dry, a time for rain. In this method, there is a time to fight, and a time to enjoy.
When the battle is not on your immediate destiny, spend the time to prepare for your next. Crafting, trading, training, learning, all these things do not cease to be when you are a master. Even the gods must make their own weapons.
Remorse is a Weakness.
Guilt will plague those who make a poor choice, and grief will come to them, to claim over them.
Remember that in everything, you must decide to do what is needed then and there. No matter the outcome, you should have done what you can at the time. Hold no remorse for your life so far. Instead, that is better spent time preparing for where you will be. Wasting your energy on guilt is a weakness.
Worry is a Weakness.
In preparation, never wonder for the things that cannot be. If a warrior became one devoted to the art of worry, he would plan for when the opponent is an unkillable god with the power of all elements at his command. Temper your plans, and concerns, with the realism that is likely, for like doubt, worry is a weakness.
Law of Land, Law of Self.
Remember, the only truth is that there is only strength. The law of a land is the one defended by the lives of it’s people. Even these that follow no strength have an army to face. Do not defy them unless you are prepared to face the army that arrives. In this, pay credit to the authorities of the land, even if they earn you no respect. They will always remember you, and your conduct.
Service to Ideals is Not a Weakness.
A man in acceptance of a superior, a knight in vassalage to a lord, these things are not weakness. They are the dedication of one to another they recognise as above them. As an apprentice to a master, not all service is given unwilling. An exchange is always worthy of it’s boon, and an unchallenged mastery is not to be rocked. One receives what the other has as offering.
Protecting Others is Not a Weakness.
A strong man may govern his time to cover his injured partner. A child is shielded by his mother. Those that protect others are dedicating their time and effort to that aim. Scorn them only if they fail.
A Slave is Already Lost.
Do not mourn a slave who never rises against their master. He is given to fear, and accepted their role – no longer do they deserve what a warrior would expect. Treat them as the property they are, for nothing else is what they understand. Their life is already lost.
Injury is Not Weakness.
If you fall in a fight, it is not from a weakness. The injury causes the weakness, but wounds may come even to the best of combatants. Treat them, and allow them to heal, but do not scorn them. Theirs is the role of recovery, during such time they will chastise themselves. Too many options could have been better, and their time to dwell on it will show them.