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Loki's Lesson: To Thine Own Self Be True I am called the Lie-Smith, and I will play with your devotion

to mere appearance s as if they were my toys, until you can remove them beyond my reach or destroy them entirely. I will teach you that truth is entirely a matter of perspective, and that there is neither fiction nor falsehood that is worth compromising yours elf for. I will make you understand the real nature of the world, beginning with your own heart, mind, and soul. Otherwise, nothing else I have to say to you, f alse or not, will have any meaning at all. I expect nothing less than that you understand yourself utterly, whatever else y ou may choose to show or tell others. If you cannot see your real nature clearly , you cannot lie withount binding yourself in your ownn snares, nor will your ho nesty have any worth when the time comes to be honest. Without self-knowledge, y ou will not be able to wear the form or appearance of another without dimming th e flame at your own center, and you will never realize that these things are onl y masks to be put on or taken off at will or whim, rather than out of habit or w eakness. If there is only one person in all the Nine Worlds to whom you never li e, let that one be yourself. I can teach you to cover your tracks and conceal your destination, but I cannot show you how unless you first come to me stripped bare of all the flattery, abus e, illusion, and fantasy with which you have shielded your real self from yourse lf. There is no way to teach you how to stretch the truth if your whole existenc e is already a lie. You will not learn how to blur the line between falsehood an d reality if you are not certain on which side of the line you already stand ... and I will not be gentle when the time comes for you to discover all this. I will rip the veils of deception from before your eyes and make you look upon t hose parts of your innermost self of which you are most fearful or ashamed. I wi ll hold up a mirror that will show you, in every minute detail, the real shape o f your weaknesses as well as your strengths. I will say to you all the things yo u have never dared to say to yourself, and make you repeat them after me. I will burn away every ounce of self-indulgence or denial from your soul, no matter ho w much it hurts. You may curse me, you may even hate me, but you will not be all owed to say no to me ... and I will wait patiently---oh yes, i can be patient--for you to understand, too, that you must accept yourself as you are before you can change yourself, or other people's minds, or the world. I have done all thre e, and I speak from experience. I may even show you your unwelcome reality, whether you're making an effort or n ot. I have done it when it cost me that which I held most dear, when those I cou nted as friends and kinsmen turned against me and cried that I was forsworn beca use they would not see what had to be done. I have done it knowing all the while that to act otherwise would be to really become the liar I was accused of being . I have been more than honest in my deceit than many have in what they consider complete truthfulness, because no matter how much I may lie to others, I do not lie to myself, and I will not allow you to continue lying to yourself, as long as we are acquainted. I have been other than what I seemed, and seemed other than what I am. I have to ld the truth as if it were a lie, and lied so convincingly that it was mistaken for the truth. I may dazzle and conceal, flatter and omit, but there are no blin ders around my own eyes, no pretty insubstantial words in my own ears. I know wh y I have acted as I have acted and spoken what I have spoken, even when I have t aken pains never to let those reasons become known. In doing this, I have accept ed the punishments as well as the rewards, the pain as well as the satisfaction, and I will demand nothing more of you than I have been willing to endure myself . Otherwise, you will not get very far, and I will laugh when the curtain comes up and your costume is still only half on. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Fenrir's Lesson: Extremity

What would you die for? What would you starve for? What would you crawl across broken glass Rather than give up? For what would you Suffer torture, imprisonment, pain And never entertain the thought of given in? Where is that part of you, Buried deep within the will to survive, That cannot bend and will not break? Where is the part of you that you cannot change And still be yourself, still be Anything worth being? What would you Suffer for that final outpost of self? Have you ever met that Self? For if you have none, if there is No final outpost for you that cannot be Run over, changed, shaped, made safe For others' comfort, then you are Prey. Go back to your herd and huddle. Look admiringly or fearfully at those With that hard core of Self; you are soft And therefore disposable. Remember that When the dogs who guard you From the likes of me and mine Show that they are indeed cousins, Not so far off; their teeth are Very like mine, especially when bared at you. Remember that you are their Prey as well, That they have merely chosen not to eat Today. What would you never give up? If there is nothing, go home and do not Do this work. For when you find that point, If you have it, you find Me there, And all that I am, teeth, slaver, claws, Rivers of blood, lust for flesh, howls of pain, Chains, stone walls, everything. Either I lie At the root of your soul, or no matter what your Fancy words and foolish bluster, You are Prey. Go home and huddle, For if I am not within you, I will one day be At your window, or your door. One or the other, you choose, or be chosen. What would you suffer to be your Self? The chains gall, But there is no compromise, Ever. To be other than who I am ... How could I let a soulless magic With the name of Deceiver Win over me, my will, my magnificent Screaming future? How could you? I lie on my side, drooling scarlet, And await the world's End.

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