The noble man wants to create new things and a new virtue. The good man wants the old things and that the old things shall be preserved.
But that is not the danger for the noble man–that he may become a good man–but that he may become an impudent one, a derider, a destroyer.
Alas, I have known noble men wo lost their highest hope. And henceforth they slandered all high hopes.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

(...I think it's over.)

The dust was a particularly nonglorious place to be lying, but Seifer felt particularly nonglorious at that precise moment. It was a number of things that made him feel this way, his premature fall from grace being one of them, but at the moment he couldn't find the strength to brood over it or even be particularly angry. All he could seem to do was think--think endlessly about it all. He didn't even think about the future, about what he could do to continue his campaign or to make reparations--instead, his thoughts were fixed irretrievably on the past, about everything he had or hadn't done and what might have or did happen. The future simply didn't seem too appealing, for some reason. Maybe it was because he didn't know what he wanted to do, where he was headed. There was nothing left--no ambition, no drive--that could give him any idea about the next step he was supposed to be taking. Nothing at all.

It just wasn't enough, any more, holding on to all those hopes and dreams that had steered him wrong so often in the past. They didn't have any purpose any more--they just lay there--obvious, futile, and smarting--like the good-luck paw that didn't work.

But without them, who the hell was he?

...they were dangerous. Deceptive. Dreams did things to you--they convinced you that anything was possible, that all they needed was a bit of time and trust and everything would be all right. Given enough time they could convince you that black was white and cruelty was kindness, they could trick you into doing all manner of things that you would never have considered doing otherwise. They were addictive, aphrodisiac--they made you depend on them, surrender yourself to them, and convinced you that that was what you really wanted.

...they were all he had. All he had ever had.

In a world where the truth was bleak and nonglorious some chose to accept it, and some chose to fabricate illusions over it. Of those who chose the illusions some were more passive than others--some deluded themselves, while others went out and made their illusions manifest. Or, at least, they tried.

He had been one of those others, and it had ended in disaster. Here he was, after it all, already running from authorities who came after him from all directions; unable to remember quite where it had gone wrong and unable to let go of everything he thought that he had had, unable to relinquish the dreams he now hated more than anything else. Everything had come, gone up in a blaze of glory, and then left him with the ash as the fires burned out far too soon. They had consumed his life in the mean time, and gone quite a way toward scorching his soul.

But without them....

Seifer Almasy was a dreamer, a visionary. How was he supposed to let that go, to accept the meagre, meaningless existence his rival embraced with such ease?It would be like living on ambrosia, then being asked to subsist on dry bread--but if the ambrosia was poisoned, then what choice did one have?

Or maybe--just maybe--the ambrosia was the preferable option, in the end.

To delude oneself unto death, or to accept a life like a shadow of death. It was a decision impossible to make. Wasn't it?

After a while, though, even dreams couldn't cover the futility of it all. There were times when one could use the dreams to cover the actions, to be excuses and inspirations--but soon enough, not even dreams were potent enough to drive back despair. Wasn't that why it had caught up to him here, on the plains of Esthar? What dreams did he have left? Which hadn't been dashed?

Without dreams, the dreamer was nothing.

And that was the most wretched thing of all.

Some people could afford to live forever without dreams. They were the pragmatists, the realists--the ones who expected so little from life that disappointment was an impossibility. Seifer wasn't one. As much as he had liked to play the stonehearted type, he had still believed that at the core of the world was something that allowed things to be better than they were--better for him, even if not for the nameless, faceless majority. The world hadn't quite lived up to his expectations.

And, of course, some people could afford to live with dreams. They were the optimists--the people whose faith bore them through; who didn't have to change anything, didn't have to quest for anything, but who could see what they wanted to see in the world and never be disappointed.

It seemed Seifer wasn't one of those, either.

In another day, another hour, another minute any number of things might happen. Fujin and Raijin might find him here; the authorities of any given nation might, too. Or a Lunar Cry could come and crush him without the world being any the wiser for it. His mind wasn't on any of those things. For once in his life Seifer was taking a quiet moment to look up at the stars, making a concerted effort not to dream.