Nin was dragged before the warlord. And as he looked around the war-room, he saw that the walls were adorned with the skulls of many creatures, keepsakes of the lord’s prior victories. And he wondered if his own head would soon be joining this collection.

However, the warlord, mistaking Nin for one of his ilk, launched into a great tirade on the glory and morality of power. He espoused the will of the strong, declared that might makes right, and rebuked the needs of the weak and helpless.

It was clear that no diplomacy or appeal to better judgment would defeat this foe. And so Nin the clever, Nin the swift, Nin the seeker was forced to try something new: rhetoric.

As the warlord began to chide the mentality of the masses, explaining that lesser beings had no right to judge him, that strength was all that mattered, Nin smiled softly and began to laugh. “What a lazy philosophy!” he cried.

“It is the only philosophy!” roared the warlord.

Nin shook his head. “You choose the philosophy that justifies doing whatever you please, without restriction or thought. How silly. Of course the strong will choose a philosophy that indulges strength.”

“No! It is the weak who choose a philosophy that favours the weak!” The warlord began pacing back and forth across the room. “The weak cling to laws and morals because they are weak! They wish to control me! How dare they presume to order me? To tell me what I can and cannot do!?”

The warlord spat in anger. “‘The good of the people!’ ‘The needs of the many!’ Ha! I have moved beyond such stifling concepts!”

“The ideals of the downtrodden—justice, equality, peace—I believe in them as well,” said Nin.

“Then you are a fool! Strong as you are, you should be like me!”

Nin sensed his opportunity. “So, you agree with me then?” he asked, “that even a strong person can be deceived and mislead by their beliefs?”

The warlord stopped in his tracks. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“You say I am strong, but I exhort meekness. Who are you to judge how I use my strength?”

“Or,” asked Nin with a sly grin, “do you admit that there is more to life than the will to power? That strength is a mere tool to temper, not an end in and of itself?”

The warlord dismissed this with a wave of his paw. “Silence! Enough of this. I’m going to kill you now.”

“Ah, ah—doesn’t killing me prove my point though?” pestered Nin. “You’re unwilling to reexamine your beliefs because you are unable to accept the possibility that your exhorting of strength may be wrong. You haven’t chosen a morally consistent philosophy, merely a convenient one.”

“I will use my strength defeat you, you and your little questions,” replied the warlord. “With strength, no debate is necessary.”

“That’s not a defeat though! You’re just avoiding answering the question! Why, you’re practically admitting that my rhetoric is superior to your strength; you can’t defeat it face to face!”

“I’m defeating it with my strength,” cried the warlord.

“No, no—that is, at best, shooting the messenger. The question will remain.”