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Weakness and Power


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[align=center]Law 20, Do Not Commit to Anyone.[/align]



Faye sat upon the padded bench of vanity as she prepared for bed, peering idly into the mirror at her reflection. The dark circles under her eyes, first formed when Val fell ill to the toxins she'd thought long-since cured, while significantly improved, had not yet entirely disappeared. She was beginning to wonder if they ever would.



[align=center]Law 48, Assume Formlessness.[/align]



It was a remarkable feat, that even surrounded by people she could still feel alone. Even now, when the faces around her were actually kind and caring, lending her their support if she so wished to take it. But she couldn't, could she? She was the one who had to be strong, always. She was the one others depended upon--and that meant she couldn't possibly depend on others, not for a moment. She could never show weakness; she knew that well. It had been drilled into her head from an early age. 



[align=center]Law 29, Plan All the Way to the End.[/align]



It was there in her father's lessons. He taught her not to hesitate and not to falter in her ideals. He taught her to be brave and show no fear in the face of danger. He insisted she learn a basic grasp of conjury, to learn spells not just of support, but offense and defense, abilities for both mending and maiming. So that she might protect and heal herself, so that might she be able to make a living for herself if need be. It was there in the way he reminded her to always look someone in the eye when she spoke, or to have a firm handshake when she met someone.



[align=center]Law 5, So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard it with your Life.[/align]



It was there in her mother's lessons, too. It was there when her mother told her to always speak clearly, confidently, concisely. It was there in the way she was taught to stand up straight, shoulders sqaured, head held high. It was there in the way she was taught not to let sorrow nor anger nor desire show, and even in the way she was told to never have a speck of dirt on clothes nor a hair out place on her head. It was there in the way she was taught to always smile, to never raise her voice. She was told to always have a perfect appearance, always have perfect manners.



[align=center]Law 12, Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim.[/align]



She even saw it in those around her and closest to her, others she respected like Zularti and Val. Few knew the truth of Zularti and what had happened in his childhood, and even she did not know the whole truth. But she did know why he ran off so recklessly on his own so often, straight into the mouth of danger. It was because he didn't want anyone else to need to be endangered. He wanted to end the threats before they could hurt anyone else. 



[align=center]Law 26, Keep Your Hands Clean.[/align]



She and others saw the importance of planning and research, of diplomacy and non-violent solutions. But Zularti only how to fight, and so he would. He'd call their careful calculations "boring" and run off to face the enemy head-on. Faye could only imagine how it affected him to have his weakness exploited, his own body and strength used as a means to summon a Primal, to help the cause he so wanted to prevent.



[align=center]Law 30, Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless.[/align]



And then there was Val, always looking for a fight, always by her side. Despite his hatred for Zularti, Faye considered them to be much the same. Both saw themselves good for bloodshed and nothing more. She knew that wasn't the truth, but that didn't mean she could convince them otherwise. And he clung to her so tightly, afraid to lose her, that ironically it often made her distance herself. It always seemed to be in the back of his mind that he was never good enough for her, despite her frequent reassurances otherwise. Few saw past the routine of the tough guy, the ever-loyal lover, and understood that it was based in fear. 


[align=center]Law 32, Play to People’s Fantasies.[/align]



But she knew it, and she saw the same insecurity in most of the other "hot-blooded men" in the company, and some of the more hot-headed woman, too, for that matter. After all, it was undeniable the way Ziuz'a eyes lit up when he was given positive reinforcement rather than punishment. When he acted out, others would only shout at him, punish him, put him down. They seemed unaware they only made matters worse. She'd tried to telll them, but who would listen? People believed only what they wished to believe. However, if there was one thing Faye sure of, it was that she could understand how others ticked and use to produce the result she desired.


[align=center]Law 43, Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others.[/align]



"Have you ever wished you had someone to be able to talk to about absolutely everything and didn't?" R'leytai had asked her one evening in her office. If only she knew; if only anyone could know. Her response was careful, advice to find a few trusted friends to confide in. She had advised a few, because she knew that one could never tell a single other everything. One had to be selective in the information they revealed. Revealing all your secrets, all your inner-most thoughts to one person was a death sentence. 


[align=center]Law 2, Never put too Much Trust in Friends, Learn how to use Enemies.[/align]



After all, even Val did not know her every thought, every feeling. Then again, the link that now bound them had served to almost remedy that. She grimaced, rubbing at her bare wrist where the bracelet had briefly sat. She regretted the bond. She wished she could find some way to destroy it. She wondered if he did, too. He didn't speak to her much anymore. He seemed reluctant to even touch her. She didn't know where he went, or what he did, but she did know that when she slept at night, he was not there with her.


[align=center]Law 11, Learn to Keep People Dependent on You.[/align]



Weakness. Vulnerability. If you showed it for even a moment, life would stomp all over you. The world would chew you up and spit you out. Show a glimpse of weakness, and your enemies might pounce... and who knew when a friend today might end up an enemy tomorrow? It was a lesson the world constantly reminded her of, that anyone could end up her enemy.


[align=center]Law 4, Always Say Less than Necessary.[/align]



 Friends, family, allies... all had the potential of betrayal. She could trust no one, yet she had to keep up the act of being everyone's friend. She was part of the glue that held the company together. Showing weakness would inspire it within those who followed her. It would be an invitation for their enemies--her enemies--to pounce. Besides, if they knew the truth of half of what she'd done, the company would despise her.


[align=center]Law 3, Conceal your Intentions.[/align]



But she was strong, wasn't she? She had been taught to be strong since she was a child. Of course, Val and Lan and those who had followed their lead didn't seem to see that. They followed at her heel with large weapons and angry looks, scaring away anyone who pushed Faye's boundaries. But she was more than capable of defending herself. If they knew half the truth, they'd know that. If only they knew what she remembered.



[align=center]Law 34, Be Royal in your Own Fashion:  Act like a King to be treated like one.[/align]



She remembered fire and gunshots and blood, her home destroyed, the innocent servants of the Covington household and even her own mother slaughtered before her own eyes, she only a young woman. She narrowly escaped with her own life. She remembered learning it was the doing of her own father, the man she'd thought dead and mourned. She remembered nights spent camping out, travelling Eorzea with Zularti, fighting against beastmen and bandits, wild animals and Garleans, and anything else that stood in their way. 


[align=center]Law 15, Crush your Enemy Totally.[/align]



She remembered healing those with wounds that would make a normal lady's stomach turn, and striking down her enemies in holy fire. She remembered being held captive by Garleans, tormented by the masked man and his mistress. She remembered each time she watched what she feared may be Val's last moments, and how each time it never became any less unnerving and upsetting. She remembered facing off against Leviathan, and then one last failed stand-off against the Imperial forces that ended in an armored fist to the face. She remembered a mask clattering to the floor and her papers flying from her desk.



[align=center]Law 22, Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power.[/align]



No, she was not weak. No, she was not a damsel in distress. No, she was not made of glass, ready to shatter at the first sign of roughness. She was strong. Then why was it, right now, that she felt so very weak? Gazing at her reflection, she was even paler than she remembered. Sitting there in her silken nightgown, she wondered if she had always looked so small. Had her shoulders always been so bony? Her eyes narrowed at her own reflection, upper lip curling into a snarl. With no warning, she lashed one hand forward, smashing it into the mirror with a crashing noise. The glass shattered, raining sharp shards down upon the jewelry, makeup, hairbrushes, and bottles of perfume littering the surface of her vanity.



[align=center]Law 27, Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following.[/align]


She cringed and leaped to her feet, cradling her hand close to her chest, knuckles bleeding. She couldn't show her weakness. She had to keep it all bottled up inside, from everyone, at all times. She couldn't be honest. She could have no confidants. She could trust no one. She could never ask for help. She never wanted a shoulder to cry on. 



[align=center]Law 13, When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude.[/align]



She knew the dangers--that with this facade others would ultimately think her unfeeling, inhuman, untrustworthy, untrusting. Silence would inspire their doubt, their doubt would inspire more silence. It was an endless cycle But she knew her intentions were good, they were worthwhile. That was being a leader. That was being in power, in control. If it meant achieving the things she desired, she would suffer in silence.



[align=center]Law 18, Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous.[/align]

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