Moulder: Well, do you have time for that story I promised?
Vanessa: Certainly, Father.
Moulder: It was over ten years ago, when the prince was just a child. There was a ceremony at the castle, with a trick archer of sorts.
Vanessa: A trick archer?
Moulder: Yes. He was a very famous and undeniably skilled archer from abroad. He was to shoot a tiny target that had been placed in the distance. However, in the middle of the show, someone stopped him from shooting.
Vanessa: Oh, no... It wasn't--
Moulder: Yes, it was young Prince Innes. He said, "That's not far enough! Move the target back farther!" Then, he insisted on trying himself.
Vanessa: That's so like him!
Moulder: Isn't it? King Hayden tried to stop him, but... Well, you know how he is. He doesn't listen to anyone. And so, it became a contest between our prince and this foreign archer.
Vanessa: So, what happened?
Moulder: First, they established the ground rules. Each person was to shoot at the target. If both arrows hit, they increased the range. They simply continued to move the target back until one person missed the mark.
Vanessa: Sounds simple enough.
Moulder: Ah, but the two were evenly matched. Every shot was a perfect bull's-eye. The crowd cheered, and the target moved ever farther back... But then it came to the turning point. The foreign archer said, "This is no test. Let's move the target back more." It seemed like bravado, but the archer actually had a clever tactic in mind.
Vanessa: Clever? How so?
Moulder: They had been shooting for some time, and the archer's arms had grown weary. Precision archery is far more taxing than the battlefield, you see. So even though he was a skilled archer, he was at the limits of his endurance. He was still hitting the mark accurately, but his arm was quivering more and more. Everyone knew that the prince was on the verge of victory.
Vanessa: I don't understand. They were shooting at the same target, shot for shot, right? Why would moving the target make any difference?
Moulder: Yes, they were still shooting at the same target. However, the archer suggested that they move the target much farther away... Much farther than any child Innes's age could hope to loose an arrow to.
Vanessa: Oh, that IS clever!
Moulder: Even the archer, with his trained arms, was firing at his maximum range. In fact, he almost missed the target! Then, it was the prince's turn.
Moulder: It was clearly too far away for the young prince to hit the target. But His Highness was undeterred. He drew his string and fired up into the sky. The arrow did not merely hit the target. No, it was a perfect bull's-eye! You see, the prince arced his shot to extend his range beyond its limits. To hit a target this way requires incredible skill, but the prince did it. And then he turned to the archer and said, "Shall we move the target back farther?" The archer looked so crestfallen. He admitted defeat, and it was settled.
Vanessa: That's amazing...
Moulder: That it is.
Vanessa: Thank you very much, Father Moulder! That's incredible! I'm even more--
Vanessa: Oh... No, nothing.
Moulder: I'm glad you liked the story. Keep up the good work, Vanessa.
Moulder: I'm glad to see you well, Vanessa. You do your fellow pegasus knights proud. We are blessed to have you fighting at our side.
Vanessa: You credit us warriors too much, Father. Without healers, we would all be lost. Nothing I say can tell you how much I value your presence here.
Moulder: We are all doing our part in this war. No need to thank me.
Vanessa: I'm serious! Without your help, we would never survive these skirmishes!
Moulder: I'm gratified by that. Thank you.
Vanessa: Father... Thank you again for the other day.
Moulder: Hmm? Oh, you mean that story?
Moulder: Ah... You know, you remind me of myself, twenty years back.
Moulder: Oh, never mind... ... Good luck to you, Vanessa. I don't know where this will lead, but I'm sure the prince knows your feelings.
Vanessa: Father Moulder, I only aspire to be worthy of his greatness. I expect nothing in return.
Moulder: Are you sure?
Moulder: Well, do what you think is best for you. We all carry many burdens... To country, family, duty, honor... However, we are all ultimately free to embrace or reject those burdens. If you find yourself in need of spiritual guidance, speak to me.
Vanessa: Father Moulder, you're so kind. Thank you. I'm so grateful to have you on the field with me.
Moulder: Vanessa, we fight for the greater good. We fight for our country, for our friends, and...for ourselves.
Colm: Of course, Father Moulder! In fact, I've set aside a little time each night to reflect on my day's deeds!
Moulder: Good. I'm glad to hear you've taken my suggestion to heart. Might I inquire as to what manner of thing you're reflecting on?
Colm: Well, I reflected on how hungry I was, and so I packed some extra salted pork today.
Moulder: Did you say...salted pork?
Colm: Yes. See, on reflection, it had been a while since I'd had salted pork.
Moulder: ... What about the day before?
Colm: Hm... The day before... Oh, yeah! I was reflecting on how much walking we'd done, and I realized I needed new shoes. I figured, next chance I get, I'd go out and steal me a new pair!
Moulder: Colm... I'm not sure you understand what it is I asked you to reflect upon.
Colm: You told me to think about what I'd done during the day and to reflect on it.
Moulder: I told you to think over the things you did and feel sorry for having done. I wasn't talking about what you wanted to eat or whether you needed new shoes! That is not the point of all this!
Colm: Did it ever cross your mind that... maybe I haven't done anything I'm sorry about?
Moulder: Don't be foolish! Think back on the things you've done during the day. Then, think about the troubles you caused and vow not to repeat them! Do you understand me now? This is for your own sake! I'll come back in a few days. Keep thinking!
Colm: ...I thought that whole self-reflection thing was going a little too well. Fine, Father. I'll do it. I'll do it.
Colm: Yawn... Oh. Let me guess. You want to hear what I've been reflecting on.
Moulder: Exactly. Although...I noticed that you look sleepy. Are you well?
Colm: I...was up late last night thinking about everything. I couldn't sleep well.
Moulder: That's unfortunate. Did you have so much that you regretted doing? Hm. Well, let me hear it. Tell me what's on your mind.
Colm: All right, well, here goes.
Moulder: Hmmmmm... That's...
Colm: How's that? I'm doing good, aren't I?
Moulder: I'd say so. You're going over your every action, from waking to sleep.
Colm: Well, that's what you told me to do.
Moulder: Well done, my lad! I've never heard so much thought go into what you've done before! Compared with the salted pork, your transformation is impressive! It's a little extreme, but......
Colm: But the funny thing is... I've started noticing all these things about me I didn't know before. I keep saying, "That was wrong" and "I'll do better next time." So...I'm not repeating the same mistakes over and over.
Moulder: I had noticed that your behavior has significantly improved of late. You look sleepy now, but your face seems far more peaceful as well. It seems that you're finally growing up, thanks to these quiet moments.
Colm: Heh... You know, I think that's the first nice thing you've said to me!
Moulder: You're coming along just fine. But... go easy on yourself, all right?
Colm: How come?
Moulder: If you stay up all night thinking about your day, you'll make yourself sick. You've already mastered the art of learning from your own experiences. I don't want you falling into old habits because of a little illness. I have high expectations of you, my son.
Colm: Thank you, Father Moulder. I'm glad that you do. It's only your expectations that have made me become a better man.
Syrene: Father Moulder, you look tired. We've been asking so much of you lately...
Moulder: Don't worry about me. I'm rather more worried about you, Syrene. You had only just been transferred to this unit when we left Frelia. I'd imagine it must be odd not having any familiar faces around.
Syrene: I've already learned everyone's name and field of specialization. Don't worry about me.
Moulder: Impressive. You've been paying attention.
Syrene: To beat your enemy, know your allies. Without knowing the skills of your own men, you can never win a war. I don't want to die just because I didn't know what to expect from my troops.
Moulder: I was worried about how well you were integrating into our group. You seem to have matters well in hand, though. I'm proud of you, Syrene. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask me anytime.
Syrene: Thank you, Father Moulder. I do appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Moulder: Syrene, you said you'd already learned everything about our little band. Did anyone in Frelia go over the details with you before you left?
Syrene: No, Father. Things were rather hectic in Frelia before we left, as you know. Everything I have learned, I've learned on the job, so to speak. People...confide in me, and I learn by observation.
Moulder: Interesting. So, even though you're new, they know they can confide in you?
Syrene: Yes. The ladies seem most comfortable speaking to me.
Moulder: I understand. Even a man of the cloth is still, at heart, a man. It must reassure them to know that there is another woman to whom they can speak. There are many women among us. If I cannot be "father" to them, please, care for them as a mother.
Syrene: With all respect, Father, I refuse to minister to their needs as a mother would. I am still young and unworthy. I prefer to speak to them as a sister.
Moulder: Ha ha ha ha... Yes, of course. Please excuse me. Help them, then, as a sister would.
Syrene: Yes, Father! Now, may I have a word with you? As their sister?
Moulder: I beg your pardon? Me? What? Has someone...complained about me?
Syrene: Well, I'll let you know the day after next new moon.
Moulder: Must I wait until then? Is it so terrible that I needs must prepare myself for the news?
Syrene: Rest easy, Father! It's only a suggestion, not criticism.
Moulder: So... Last night was a new moon. And that means today is the day. I've been going mad wondering, Syrene. What is your suggestion?
Syrene: Ah, right you are, Father. It is indeed the promised day. Well, then. On behalf of everyone, I have two words for you. Father Moulder?
Syrene: Happy Birthday!
Moulder: What? Birthday? Oh... Oh, yes! Why, today is my birthday, isn't it? But--
Syrene: It is a fine tradition to celebrate one's birthday, Father. In a war, uncertainty surrounds us every moment of every day. Instead of worrying about tomorrow, let us celebrate life today. That should encourage us all to keep going, wouldn't you say?
Moulder: Yes, indeed. To share the joys of life is very important. Thank you, Syrene. In this chaos, I would have forgotten my own birthday.
Syrene: You exhaust yourself caring for others, but you pay no attention to yourself. We are all so grateful to you, Father. So many different people came up to me to ask how we could show that gratitude. You are a man of great virtue, and an inspiration to us all.
Moulder: I am touched... At my age, I thought all my happy birthdays were well behind me. I'm a little embarrassed at that...
Syrene: You must remember to take care of yourself, Father. And thank you.