Mistress!  Mistress!  You said you would teach us about strength today. 

Ah yes I did younglings.  Come now, sit and make yourselves comfortable and I shall teach you the truth about strength.  Now, what is the strongest force in the world?

Fire!  It cleaves through everything to make way for new growth.

Yes, fire! Good!  Fire is strong, it burns fiercely and is essential for new life and rebirth in all things.  But fire cannot touch anything without destroying it, and fire is dependent upon other forces to give it life. So how strong is fire really, if it cannot survive on its own?  What of you sweetling?  What do you think is the strongest force in the world?

Wood!  Wood is stronger than fire.  It is stiff and unyielding, and it gives fire life, something to feed upon.

Ah yes!  Wood!  Proud and unyielding.  But wood breaks when the wind blows too strongly, and wood cannot move from where it is grown.  So really, how strong is wood?

All the forces around us have their own strengths and weaknesses.  Water is strong, determined in its course, unending and unfailing.  It can be diverted and its course changed by other forces just as strong, but in the end water washes away all that opposes it.  Wind is strong, for it feeds the fire and destroys the wood, but wind’s only strength is destruction.  Metal can be strong if treated right.  But treat it poorly and it is brittle and weak.

No younglings, when I speak of the strongest force in this world, I do not speak of wind or wood, fire or water.  I speak of your will.  Your will is the strongest force anything in this word has seen.  For it is your will that decides if fire lives or dies, changes the course of water, chooses the shape of wood and metal, and can harness the destructive strength of the wind into something else.

But mistress, what of death?  You have always told us that death comes to all things, so isn’t death the strongest force in the world?

Death is strong younglings, but you can be stronger.  You will never be able to cheat death, to circumvent it or escape it forever.  But you do have a choice with death.  On the day when death comes for you, you can gather your will, look it straight in the eye and say ‘not today’.  Death will come for you younglings, as it will come for me one day, but if your will is strong enough, death can come for you time and time again before it finally takes you.

So then what is strength mistress?

There is a prayer of the humans that I am rather fond of.  ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’  We are demons, creatures born in blood and brimstone.  Many would think that alone gives us strength and makes us strong.  We are immortal and we have powers beyond the ken of most mortals.  But that alone is not enough.  We need to cultivate serenity, courage, and wisdom.

What do we need those for mistress?  Serenity and wisdom.  Demons don’t need serenity and wisdom!

Our wisdom comes from knowing ourselves.  What good are our powers if we do not know our limits?  If we overtax ourselves, we leave ourselves vulnerable.  Our serenity comes from knowing that no matter what we do, all roads lead to the same end.  And that knowledge frees us in our daily lives.  Why trouble ourselves with the success or failure of our individual adventures when we know the world is going to end in fire and blood?  We live, we fight, we breed and in the end we will die be it at the end of the world or the end of another demon’s sword.

Demons who do not gain wisdom or learn serenity die young and bloody.  Creatures who have no courage never truly live.  When you are able to live, to live without concern and with true knowledge of yourself, only then can you truly be considered strong.