“Think logically, will you?” he said. “You’re a philosopher, aren’t you? Look at the crowd!”
Urn looked a the crowd. “Well?”
“They don’t like it.” Simony turned. “Look, Brutha’s going to die anyway. But this way it’ll mean something. People don’t understand, really understand, about the shape of the universe and all that stuff, but they’ll remember what Vorbis did to a man. Right? We can make Brutha’s death a symbol for people, don’t you see?”
Urn stared at the distant figure of Brutha. It was naked, except for a loin-cloth.
“A symbol?” he said. His throat was dry.
“It has to be.”
He remembered Didactylos saying the world was a funny place. And, he thought distantly, it really was. Here people were about to roast someone to death, but they’d left his loin-cloth on, out of respectability. You had to laugh. Otherwise you’d go mad.
“You know,” he said, turning to Simony. “Now I know Vorbis is evil. He burned my city. Well, the Tstorteans do it sometimes, and we burn theirs. It’s just war. It’s all part of history. And he lies and cheats and claws power for himself, and lots of people do that, too. But do you know what’s special? Do you know what it is?”
“Of course,” said Simony. “It’s what he’s doing to–”
“It’s what he’s done to you.”
“He turns other people into copies of himself.”
Simony’s grip was like a vice. “You’re saying I’m like him?”
“Once you said you’d cut him down,” said Urn. “Now you’re thinking like him…”
“So we rush them, then?” said Simony. “I’m sure of – maybe four hundred on our side. So I give the signal and a few hundred of us attack thousands of them? And he dies anyway and we die too? What difference does that make?”