“Let me tell you a story, Edmund. There was once a young kennel master who served the highest lords of the All Ways. He took care of their dogs, day and night, and he performed his duties diligently, living among them in their filth and squalor. But the dogs were unruly. They would bicker and bite and war amongst themselves, and the lords berated the kennel master, telling him that he was not doing as he should. The kennel master did what he could. He tried everything available to a man of means and method and discipline. He used force and he used persuasion, he used violence and he used bribes, he tried separating the dogs to train each individually and he tried training them as a pack, hoping to make unity of their innate disorder. But none of it could reform the stubborn beasts under his care. The dogs lived as the lords lived: by bark and by bite. The kennel master persisted a long time, abused by both the lords and the dogs and receiving blame for their continual strife and pettiness. In time, he died, lonely and unloved, and when he died the beasts yet worried his bones more, and they pestered his corpse, and they dragged the husk of him through the streets until it dissolved to dust beneath the forgetful rains. Then they pissed upon the memory of him, cursing and blackening his name until the new kennel master came along. Thereupon, they forgot about the old, dead kennel master and turned their fanged attentions to the new scapegoat in their sights.”
“That is a dispiriting story,” Edmund said.
“Because it is a true story, Edmund,” Master Avon said. Sorrow was written into the wrinkles of his face. “Because it will be true…”