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Old 06-13-2008
 
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United States Tim-and-Carl
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Default SarenSulen & Adate

I am putting these up for whoever wants to read them. Adate is below, with 3 chapters written, and I'm putting SarenSulen up in a complete .doc. I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors.

Edit: Unfortunately I don't have the full version of SarenSulen on this computer. I'll post it up in the morning when I get on my laptop.

Chapter One: Griswold

“Griswold is coming.”

Lorac paced the room anxiously, while Harnem sat calm in his weathered chair clasping the arms lightly. Griswold was coming.

“So what are you going to do about it?” said Duke Harnem, as calm and placid as a dead man.

“I need your son.”

“Adate?” Harnem raised an eyebrow. “What do you want him for?”

“He is the key to Saren's survival.”

“What?” Harnem was disturbed. “He's only two years old.”

Lorac stopped pacing. “You don't understand. He is Saren's only hope.”

“Are you talking about as a warrior? Diplomacy? Lorac, my bloodline has had no warrior fathers for generations. The king's ancestry is wrought of cowards, it is a dry wasteland of the foulest attributes of mankind—and I come from the same tree. And aside from that—after my abdication--”

“Your abandonment,” Lorac corrected. “Trust me, I know there's no salvation from your doom, for you or your child. You abandoned the Empire, and now there must be blood. Griswold is coming to see it through.”
“So what do you want with my child?”

“I need him!” exclaimed Lorac. “No one knows he exists. I can hide him. I can make sure he lives!”

“But what can you do with him?”

Loric was hesitant. He calmed the urgency in his voice, and talked carefully. “I'm sure you know more than anyone the wave of chaos that now infects the desert.”

“Of course,” Harnem said with weary eyes. “Why else would I have left?”

“The chaos has only yet to begin, Duke. Every kingdom is out for its stake of the desert. Mad kings rise and fall like the winds of the earth, but they always leave a sense of unrecoverable rape where their armies tread. Fanatical clergymen are creating seas of blood with their great purge, all under the name of God. But the truth is God abandoned the desert centuries ago, when the first Darudin rose and entire civilizations were wiped out with each instant.

“Diplomacy is nonexistent. Assassins roam like ants in the thousands in the desert sun, hell-bent to make legends out of themselves no matter what the level of immorality they must achieve. Wars are waged for no reason. All sense of human decency has been obliterated as the worst men humanity has to offer grab hold of everything, including the Saren Empire which now swims in its own corruption three centuries old. The only hope that's left is your son, Harnem.”

“How?”

“Imagine an assassin worse than Griswold.”

“That's impossible!” Harnem was starting to become distressed. “There hasn't been a man deadlier than Griswold in decades—centuries--”

“But there will be.”

“Lorac, that's impossible,” Harnem said once again, still distressed. “You talk about assassins trying to make themselves into a legend, but Griswold is a legend. No one fights like he does. He is a pure nightmare—some believe he's even immortal, because no one in this day and age can even come close to finishing him off. Some say he can even kills Darudin, and that's something I simply cannot fathom.”

“Griswold can't kill Darudin. I know he can't. Adate can,” said Lorac. “I put great weight in my words on this matter.”

“No, you're wrong!” Harnem was actually almost kicking himself up from his chair. “I told you, there's no warrior blood in my ancestry! Where are you getting all these ideas, anyway? Why are you even here? I thought you were the one who was going to finish me off--”

“Fool, I told you!” shouted Lorac. “Griswold is coming!”

“This makes absolutely no sense. You'd have to be some kind of prophet or completely out of your mind to come here risking your life making all these insane notions about my son. The entire desert is doomed, Lorac, face it! No super assassin is going to come along and save it! If anything, a super assassin is going to be the final straw in a long history of pure, absolute human corruption! You are old, son, only a little over a decade from myself. Your time on this earth is almost over. Enjoy your years now and just thank God He is taking you off this planet before you have to witness the end to all things holy.”

“My time is far from over,” said Lorac. “I still have many years on this earth left, and a long life of turmoil ahead of me.”

“Not if you stay here,” said Harnem. “Griswold will execute you right after me if he finds you here. He's probably already seen your footprints in the snow outside. If you want my son, take him,” he waved his hand dismissively, “I had no intention of preserving his life after my own has been taken. Whether he lives or dies is not my concern, but your notions fill me with great unease. I retreated to these mountains for peace, not to have these kind of things follow me from the desert. Not to hear some implausible story of false hope. Have mercy and just kill me.”

“No,” Lorac said. “More than anyone else I believed in the things you said, Duke. No man's words had more reason behind them than your own back in Saren. I was never against you, and I'm not here to bring you false hope now. Trust me, I know more about what I say than any prophet could pretend, as if God Himself had made me a prophet among prophets. Your son will become unlike anything the world has ever seen, and I'm not going to let Griswold seal the gates of destiny tonight.” Lorac's face grew serious. “Tonight, Griswold must die.”

Harnem looked Lorac in the eyes. Slowly, he sank back into his chair, and his eyes became glassy and his expression morbid again. “My son is upstairs. Be done with your lies, I won't hear it anymore. Good luck to you, Lorac, I hope you survive the night. As for me, my time is done.”

That was all Lorac needed to hear. Caring only about the child's fate, he marched quickly up the wooden stairs of the old house to the baby's room. He reached the top, and all that lay in front him was a few carpets on the floor, a crib on the far side of the room, and tons of dust. It was evident that Duke Harnem had lost all pride and emotional attachment for his son. His wife had most likely died not long after giving birth to the child. When Duke Harnem left the Empire three years ago, no one had known his wife had been pregnant. No one on the earth knew he had a son. It had taken the Empire just this long to track him down. And now they had a score to settle.

Lorac had no intention of running away with the child now that he was within his grasp. He came tonight to kill Griswold, something that hundreds before him had set out to do and had all failed miserably. But he wasn't going to lose tonight. He was certain of it. That was no consolation for his heart, however, which was racing harder than he had ever felt. His adrenaline was pumping wildly for what he was about to attempt. His fingertips were tingling, and every hair was on end, listening for the sound of his predator.

Griswold stood a little over six feet tall, nut-brown skin and plain-cut hair as dark as as hell. All his features were beastly, his eyes dark and hopelessly penetrative. His sword was perfect and ominous, a black blade curving inward and out on the sides and dark blue jewels reflecting ghostly hues from the weapon. He had no sign of fear on his face, no sign of cowardly emotion. He was as firm as rock, as unfeeling as death itself.

He let loose a hollow grin at the site of Harnem's house. It wasn't so much the death of the old man that made him smile, but footsteps that already laid in the snow. Harnem had a visitor, some bodyguard to protect him from Griswold. But Griswold was inescapable, he was the plague of darkness that swept all the earth away of opposition to the Saren Empire. He was beyond confident, and he was beyond cogent of it. He was all-powerful. Every step that he left in the snow sank into the imprints of the previous man's steps, leaving only his own massive footprints behind.

He reached the door, and now was the time that even he must be cautious of traps. This was the moment that every professional of his murderous occupation entered into a mode of heightened sense. Every moment counted. Every precise action bore emphasis. One enters this state, and they become superhuman. Time slows and one is wafting in a world of impalpable energy.

He kicked the door in swiftly to be greeted by Duke Harnem slumped in his chair. They met eyes.

“Duke Harnem: Greetings. Where's your visitor?”

“Go ahead and kill me,” said Harnem despairingly.

“Very well,” said Griswold, and with that he walked forward swiftly, reached for his sword and swung right in line with Harnem's neck. He sliced off the top of the couch along with Harnem's head; a clean cut. Perhaps not so much a clean aftermath, however. Griswold had completed his task, but he knew there was another. Was there someone looking for him? He couldn't take the risk. He sheathed his blood-stained weapon and looked upwards and listened carefully for the creaking of floor boards. “People die, and the world keeps turning,” Griswold said to his dead companion. He wasn't going to go upstairs for anything.

He grabbed a candle sitting in a holder on the wall and walked into the kitchen. He reached into his clothing for a flask and placed the candle on the kitchen table, untwisting the cap of his flask and poured the contents of it onto the table. He knocked over the candle, and the alcohol lighted up into a beautiful flame. “All things must eventually return to the soil of the earth,” he whispered. He dragged the table into the room of his dead friend, lifted it over to the stairs and flipped it onto the stairway. A great fire was beginning to erupt.

He then walked outside, cautious but unfazed, making his way to the back of the house to look for any opened windows. He was expecting his prey to have jumped out to escape the fire. He peer around the corner, and his assumption was correct; but there were no tracks in the snow. Suddenly he sensed something behind him.

He looked over his shoulder. “Lorac, fancy seeing you here.”

“Griswold, still spinning haiku's?”

Griswold smiled. Lorac was only a few yards away from him. “I suppose I should be asking what you're doing out here in the mountains. I'm even more intrigued that you're standing outside the house of a man we've been tracking down for three years. I was dead certain this was a personal assassination job for the king. --Now, I suppose this is where you lie to me and tell me it was public knowledge where Duke Harnem now lived, but as much as I know you despise me, I know you don't think me stupid.”

“No, I think you're quite stupid.”

“Oh, how pretentious of you.” Griswold turned and faced Lorac. “You know, I never liked you either. I guess it's my fortune to catch you out here so far away from the Empire with no witnesses. Tell me, are you seeking death tonight?”

“Is that an invite for foreplay?”

Griswold pulled out his sword again and span around three hundred and sixty degrees, shifting forward quickly and covering a great length of ground. But Lorac ducked under him, wrapped his own sword around Griswold's lower leg and sliced open his skin, dashing away before Griswold could swing an arm backwards and swat him away.

“Where the hell did you learn that?” said Griswold, agitated. He grabbed at his leg. “You never moved like that before.”

“You almost sound impressed, Griswold,” said Lorac. “Losing your touch?”

Griswold straightened up again. “Moving faster than I expected is no precedence for trash talk.” He began removing his cloak. “If you want to be treated like you're not a low-class soldier, well—I won't treat you like a low-class soldier. You're bold, but I'm the real thing.”

His cloak dropped to the ground with a thud, revealing a muscular physique covered in a many-layered tough leather bodysuit. They gave it only to the best of Saren, specially crafted for flexibility and tightness to the body. Lorac had gotten him just below where the bodysuit ended. It was a weak cut.

“Come to Griswold, son!” he smiled. He lunged forward, and Lorac tried to dodge but Griswold was already wise to him. He flung a kick upwards to nick Lorac in the face, but once again Lorac dodged and twisted out of Griswold's reach. Griswold saw this, crouched and jabbed at Lorac's spine but narrowly missed. Then he lunged forward once again ready to take Lorac out from under, but Lorac swung at him and he had to hesitate.

“Excellent!” Griswold exclaimed. “Run away from me like a fly! I'll swat you down!” He swung forward with his sword as hard as he could, almost cutting Lorac's nose instantly but missing once again. Lorac breathed in sharply, and Griswold went for his feet once again. Lorac swung once again, and Griswold stopped once more. Then Griswold twirled into a crouch and swung at Lorac's feet . Lorac backed away.

The problem was Griswold's sword was longer, which was proving to be a problem as far as getting near him was concerned—not to mention he was exponentially faster. But Lorac remained unyielding. He would catch Griswold off guard soon enough. It was his only hope, really; he was neither stronger nor faster than Griswold. It had become quite apparent to him the difference between them now.

“Must I stick you like a pig, Lorac?” Griswold panted. “You screw with me and now you just run like a coward! Let's see some blood! I want to see it spurting from your neck!”

Griswold swung upwards again, and as Lorac dodged he went for Griswold's chest, but he merely swiped Lorac's sword away his giant hand. Now his arms were crossed, and ordinarily it would seem that the proper move would be to take advantage of this, but Lorac knew better.

Lorac came upwards, and as he did Griswold uncrossed his arms ready to slice off Lorac's neck, but Lorac protected his head with his sword as he shot upwards and scraped Griswold on the chin. Griswold threw him back forcefully.

He grabbed for his bloody chin. “Damn it! What the hell is this? You never moved like this!”

“God's divine will wants you dead.”

Griswold spat. “There is no God! No more playing!”

He lunged forward again, but instead of swinging he drove his body straight into Lorac right as he swung, and their swords met as their chests as Griswold knocked Lorac to the ground with him. He put all his weight down on the sword, forcing Lorac's to press into his chest. Griswold was determined. The force of his weight was simply too much for Lorac.

The house was blazing at full strength now.

“You want to feel the lightning of my massive power?! I'll bring it!” he screamed in Lorac's face as the blood from his chin dripped down on him. His eyes were wild with fury. “I'm your worst nightmare, kid! I'm the thing that makes the earth quake! I eat sheep like you for meals! The whole world bows to me! I'll bathe you in blood! I'll bend you! I'll break you! I'll rip your head off and make it my personal trophy!”

Lorac struggled for breathing room. “Do you—fear—death--Griswold?”

“Kid, I AM Death!”

Drops of blood were running into Lorac's eyes, and he was losing the fight as his own sword pressed harder into his sternum.

“Nightnight, Lorac!” Griswold took his free hand and brought it over Lorac's face, placing two fingers on each of his eyes ready to plunge into his sockets.

Then a dark flaming mass descended from the sky. It smacked Griswold in the back.

It was a piece of the roof.

He reacted immediately and jumped up from Lorac, who was getting a good lick of the flames himself from under. Griswold threw the flaming mass off him and started yelling madly, running away quickly from Lorac to a puddle of water residing under the house. The fire was burning through his bodysuit.

He flung himself into the water and rolled around frantically. It was too late for his suit, however. Once the flame was extinguished he calmed down—and slowly, he lifted his body away from the freezing water, his back facing Lorac. Lorac just stood and stared at him. The burnt leather was flaking off with his burnt skin. It wasn't just burnt skin, though. He had a giant tattoo engulfing his entire backside.

Lorac was shocked. “That—that tattoo--”

“What about it?” Griswold was shivering madly.

“It's the crest of the Black Leviathans.”

“One for power, one for peace.” Griswold strained to get up. “These leviathans give me strength where God cannot. The world must succumb to the New Truth.” He turned towards Lorac. “I don't know what you're pulling, I don't know how you keep getting lucky—but that incident wasn't a coincidence. You can tell the future, can't you?”

Lorac was silent.

“But your power is limited, because you couldn't see my Leviathans. What can you really see, Lorac? You came here tonight for a reason—what was it? The only reason you would ever fight me is if you were certain you could win. You're going to kill me tonight, aren't you?”

“Yes,” said Lorac.

“This is all on the grounds that I fight you, though.” Griswold was doing his best to control his shivering. “What if I just—run away?”

“Then I'll expose you to Saren as a member of the Black Leviathans.”

“Do it,” said Griswold, “they won't care. Our society has no quarrel with Saren—yet. Our king would never get rid of his greatest asset. Duke Harnem had something that you wanted. You've hidden it somewhere—you're hiding it from me. Is it in your clothes? Is it still in the house?”

A giant beam from the roof slid and crashed next to Griswold, who moved out of its way as it toppled over into the snow.

“Wherever it is, it can't be far. How did you hide your prints in the snow from the window? --You know, you're starting to give me the spooks, Lorac. What are you, exactly? Are you even human?”

“If you run, I'll chase you down to the ends of the earth,” said Lorac, “and unlike you, I'll never get tired.”

“It looks like I've actually messed with the wrong guy tonight.” Griswold licked his lips. “But you're still afraid of something. You're afraid of the Leviathans. You know what we're capable of, then? You can see the future? Are we really that terrifying? I want to know...”

Both of them grew silent. The house was blazing red with great streaks of flame reaching upwards into the dark night. All that could be heard was a great roar.

Griswold bolted at full speed towards Lorac, who refused to lift his sword. Griswold came in contact, and grabbing Lorac by his shoulder he forced his sword all the way into Lorac's gut with the full motion of his charge, and lifted him off the ground as high above as he could hold him.

“You're invincible, aren't you?” He was captivated. “You've found some kind of black magic greater than my own. Well done, soldier.”

Lorac showed no sign of pain. “This is no black magic, Griswold.”

“Of course it is!” Griswold heaved him into the snow, sword and all. “I concede. You asked me if I fear death—well--the answer is no. No, I don't. I fully accept the eternal darkness I'm about to face. It's only been the eternal darkness that has ever been my companion in life. Just tell me—what are you trying to accomplish? Once I'm gone, a wave of chaos will infect the desert unlike anything you've ever known. I was the great unifier, even if it was through terror. What do you want out of life?”

“Me?” Lorac pulled the sword from his abdomen and slowly rose. “I want peace.”

Griswold snorted. “Peace—or power? One Leviathan cannot live without the other. You haven't heard the last of our Society. That's not a lie, I can see it in your eyes. Farewell, Lorac, I was truly not expecting to learn tonight that so much tragedy would thrive long after I'm gone. What a relief it is to find that out.”

“Goodbye,” Lorac said, and he stabbed downwards into Griswold's neck, who remained quiet despite his contorted face and the blood that spurted upwards. He collapsed to the ground, with Lorac looming over him pushing the sword in further and clutching at his wound. It did hurt after all.

Chapter Two: Convictions

It had been three years since the burning down of Duke Harnem's home; a pivotal moment in the history of the Saren Empire, though no one knew that to quite the degree that Lorac did.

And Lorac was lost in a drug-induced high, sitting in a chair with his head tilted backwards..

“Why don't you take the throne?” asked his friend Gregory, sitting across from him staring into his suppressed euphoria.

“Because, that's not how things are supposed to work.”

“The king is dead, his brother's dead, he had no sons—the question of who's going to take the throne is out in the open. It would seem proper that the High Knight take it. After all, you could defend yourself better than anyone in the Empire. I could take over the position.”

“We're not an Empire, Gregory. Not right now, anyway. We lost the right to call ourselves that when we started losing people. I have no right to be king, either; let someone else be. I have to be here, at this post. The bastards who are terrorizing us have proven they can take out our leaders, but they haven't proven they can take out our army. The only man who truly threatens us militarily is Cerused, and he is a long work in the making. I have to stay here, in this position, so that Saren doesn't lose its only pinnacle of strength.”

“To tell you the truth, Lorac, I don't have much hope for Saren anymore. The king is dead, our people are distraught, and the wheels of our kingdom are slowly becoming more stressed. This is how empires fell back three hundred years ago. When the stress starts piling, people panic and nations dissipate. It would seem Saren's time is quickly coming.”

Lorac shook his head lazily. “Those stories of empires falling...the things you read in history books...they're lies. Lies that Saren has perpetrated for so long they might as well be history.”

“Why?” Gregory was perplexed. “What do you mean?”

“You remember the story of the city of Antecedes?”

“Yes. Saren went to war with the city and found it in complete ruins. They believed it was the work of God, or at least the opposing forces that surrounded Antecedes. No one really knows—er--they say no one really knows.”

“You remember Dr. Mallory?”

“Yes. No one can forget Dr. Mallory. He could turn acid into water.”

“Dr. Mallory did a lot more than that. See, they hide these things from everyone except Saren's greatest officials, because they don't want the people knowing the true nature of Saren—our corrupted past. But really, it is quite a beautiful past, one well worth admiring. I think if you told the people, they'd fall in love with our kingdom.”

Lorac brought his head forward. “The city of Antecedes was never called Antecedes. That's just Saren myth. Unfortunately no city stands that could have objected to that myth. Antecedes was really named Darudinia. Darudinia was more than twice the size of Saren three hundred years ago, but Darudinia fell because of Saren. After Darudinia fell, no one questioned the might of the Saren Empire.

“Dr. Mallory was famous for more than his medical work and his supposedly miraculous elixirs, that much is true. It's true that he could turn acid into water, and had the antidote for any poison anyone could possibly imagine. But he also used his body as a human experiment. Dr. Mallory breathed smoke, drank dangerous amounts of alcohol by the hour, consumed arsenic, injected large amounts of morphine and heroin and whatever else he could get his hands on, everything. He created the perfect body within himself, injecting himself with his own miracle medicines that made him perfectly immune to everything that could possibly destroy the human body internally. He was able to turn acid into water because he drank acid like water. Unfortunately, his practices became too severe, and not only did acid become like water, water became like acid to him. His body became malnourished and was unable to support itself without proper hydration and nutrients. Ironically, Mallory died because of his health.

“Back then, Saren knew that Darudinia was a major threat. It was the only existing city that could wipe out Saren whenever it pleased. An impending sense of doom loomed over the kingdom until Mallory devised a solution. One night, an assassin named William was sent out to dispose of Darudinia's leader. Unfortunately he was caught, and to save Saren from being crushed he had to keep silence as they tortured him. But no one messes with a nation as large as Darudinia in those times; they wanted to make an example of William. They wanted to make sure no one ever tried to assassinate their leader again, so they did every possible form of torture they knew to William. They opened him up and played with his insides, dehydrated him, sent him over the deep end. He wouldn't talk. Saren could have been obliterated overnight if it weren't for William.

“Then Darudinia invited everyone to come see the living example they had created, and Mallory volunteered to go for Saren. He came and saw William, and while the guards were absent he gave a homemade cocktail injection of something he knew would send William's biological system into overdrive. Mallory left Darudinia, and within hours William was gone. What replaced William was a self-regenerating, genetic demon that the guards couldn't hold down. He ripped away from his bondage and mutilated his captors, then tore his way through the city killing hundreds. He was absolutely unstoppable. He had become an insane monster with inhuman agility, with hands that tore at human flesh like it were paper. They say his appearance was ghastly, the product of his unholy torture session. An entire city's army failed to eliminate him, and he drug off shattered men into the desert leaving a massacre behind for the city to deal with. It's unknown what they called the demon, but we called it the Darudin, and he was the first of his kind.

“The Darudin returned several hours later just before daylight, and the men he had drug off were now at his sides; two of them, wearing masks of carved human bone concealing their faces. The masks were much like that of the Darudin masks you see today, but the first Darudin—his mask was giant and terrifying. It was the face more horrid than the face of the Devil himself. They returned to the city—and those three alone disposed of over four fifths of its entire population. Two-hundred thousand were slain, a genocide of blood streaked across the city unlike anything the desert had ever seen.

“Unfortunately, the Darudin can only live so long. Darudin are always made and never born, transformed in a surgical procedure that turns humans into anatomical perfection, equaling one hundred soldiers in skill. The cost of this is they can only sustain this physical enlightenment for about two years; after that, their bodies break down from the stress. The first Darudin was even stronger than regular Darudin, and so he died within only a few hours after he was born. He died while in the process of slaughtering the town, unable to finish his work. The other two retreated into the desert again after their master died, dragging away more shattered bodies and beginning the race of the Darudin. When Saren stumbled upon Darudinia two days later, they found the remaining population in shambles. Their talk was frantic and wild, speaking of a monster that came from the heart of their city and singlehandedly decimated it. The only thing that could be found as proof of this was one single Darudin mask: the first Darudin's mask. When Saren tried to show the mask to the Darudinian people, they screamed and cowered. Their fear of the mask was unconditional, irrational and violent. Some literally tried to tear out their eyes at the sight of it. Saren had never seen anything like it—and little did they know they were the ones who created it. Only Mallory knew, and he told his secret to very few. See, Saren has been behind a lot of the history of the desert for six centuries, we just hide all our dark secrets. We created the Darudin, and a lot of other things they're not willing to tell to anyone besides the highest authorities of Saren.”

Gregory sat back up, having been slowly leaning in the entire time. “But Lorac, they told you this story? You've only been a high knight for three years. That's hardly a long time to hold a high position and be told all this information.”

“I killed Griswold. People give me a lot more respect than they should for that.”

“Yes, they do,” said Gregory. “If you hadn't killed Griswold, the things that have been happening for the last three years wouldn't have happened. No offense.”

“I know. I fully appreciate your honesty, and I know the things that have been happening have been because of Griswold's demise. The secessions and the death of the king, the rise of the new assassin generation—but it will all come back to us soon enough.”

Gregory folded his arms. “Till then, you have men like Horseface, Lily and Viremond to deal with. Speaking of which, they believe it was Horseface who assassinated King Leo.”

Lorac nodded. “All signs point to him. The way he handles bodies is very distinct. But don't worry Gregory; an assassin's first mistake is becoming known. Once an assassin's identity is known, the world becomes much harder for that assassin. We just have to find where Horseface is coming from, and once we do that we'll weed him out.”

“If he's with Cerused, then Cerused's kingdom has an ace up its sleeve that we don't.”

“Whoever it is, our people are angry, and they want answers. We have their full cooperation and we need to strike someone quickly while we still have approval. It doesn't matter who, as long as we can destroy them quickly.”

“But Lorac, that makes no sense. We're just going to choose a friendly kingdom at will and destroy it? It's barbaric.”

“This is how Saren has worked for three hundred years. If you want this empire to survive, you're going to have to leave the people in the dark and have some innocent people die. I'm going to do everything—everything—in my power to preserve this kingdom, whatever the price, whatever level of depravity I must sink towards. This isn't my duty, this is my solemn vow. I have great convictions that this Empire will become a single, unified force that the entire world will soon have to fear. Not eventually, but soon—within the next twenty years. The wheels are already turning, I'm going to make sure they continue to turn.”

“You're going to lose a lot of allies this way, Lorac.”

“I don't care!” Lorac shouted. He was completely upright now. “If I'm the only man with enough balls to get what he wants, then so be it! I don't need the aid of anyone else to carry out things!”

“Relax,” said Gregory, “I meant no harm. If I doubted your sanity I would have done it a long time ago. Let's change subjects. Tell me, how is your son?”

Lorac scoffed. “As fine as any kid his age gets.”

“Are you going to enlist him in the army on his twelfth birthday? It'd be the customary thing for a high knight.”

“No,” Lorac shook his head, “that's what our enemies are searching for. After they've taken out the king, they're going to take out me, and it's a lot easier to take out my son than it is to take out me. I have to be on my guard, I have to protect my son. I'm only glad they can't get to my wife.”

“You'd be dooming him to a life without knighthood, though.” Gregory shrugged. “I suppose it's your decision. I'm going to enlist Andrew when he comes of age. I trust you'll take care of him well.”

“I'll take care of him as best as I can, but I have priorities that might distract me from my work.”

“What are those priorities?”

“We need more assassins, Gregory. It's the whole reason behind why we're getting our asses kicked.”

“It's also the whole reason we're not getting our asses kicked,” said Gregory. “We had Griswold, and that was fine because he was so powerful. Griswold held everything together because people were so afraid to invoke his wrath if they seceded. I hate to admit that myself, but this Empire was held together out of fear—and it worked well. It's probably what you're striving for now, but we can't have second-rate assassins going around and tripping up, because everyone's waiting to pounce on us. Our neighbors just need a reason to ally up and wage a full-scale war.”

“Yeah, we're lucky they're too idiotic to figure out they should do that anyway,” Lorac said sarcastically. “Look, I can make an assassin stronger than Griswold ever was. I know I can. I'll make an assassin so perfect, no one will know that he even exists. The problem with the assassins out there now is they're too self-absorbed, too willing to spread their name rather than prove themselves. I can make a new breed of assassin, a new breed of man unrestrained by morals or weakness. He will be a killing machine in every sense of the phrase. He won't sleep, and he won't feel pain—and he'll be completely loyal to Saren. I can make a nightmare as great as Darudin. But I need you to not question me. For the next twenty years, I need you to not question me at all. You can consider our friendship over, because it's not going to last. Just make me this promise.”

There was an awkward silence. Then Gregory laughed nervously. “I'm not sure what you mean, I mean—there's not much you can do as a high knight that would be too over the hill for anyone at this point in time. If you want to pull strings, by all means go ahead and do it. I have a strong sense of humanity in me, but I want to preserve Saren as much as you do, so go ahead and do whatever you wish. If you need my help, you can ask for it.”

“Trust me, you don't want to preserve Saren as much as you think I do, but thank you, and I will ask for your help. Just promise me...”

“Alright, I promise.”

“Sir Lorac,” a messenger poked his head through the door of the room. “There's an emissary waiting in the council hall. He's waiting for you.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?” he leered over at the messenger. “Kill him.”
 
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"He walked into the shreds of flame. But they did not bite into his flesh, they caressed and engulfed him without heat or combustion. With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he too was a mere appearance, dreamt by another." - Borges

"Above all else, to thine own self be true." - Shakespeare
 

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Old 06-13-2008
 
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Chapter Three: Appassianato Fire


The flames were blazing, but they were so docile, and lacked life. They lacked energy. They were fierce and aggressive...but they lacked something. Adate couldn't tell what it was. The night was black and ominous—and lacked life, just like the flames. Was that possible? Could there be a life even in the nothingness? Could nothingness be alive? He couldn't feel any of it. It was all so dead to him. What was fear? Was he supposed to be afraid right now? He reached his hands into the raging inferno, and it was cold. It was like touching an icy mist. The flames burned and dissipated like clouds in his hand. And then a strange desire filled him. It was so intense, but it lacked a name. It struck him with such conviction, he could hardly feel his mind crushing itself with wild oscillations of cathartic freedom.

Then he turned around, and a giant dark figure towered over him, with eyes red as rubies staring into him with lustful fixation. Lustful, lustful for life—and it consumed Adate whole, draining him dry of his soul and ripping his neck from his body. He could feel an intense dislocating force for one moment, and then--

“Adate, I need your help outside.”

He woke up. His father's head was protruding from his bedroom door, looking at him placidly. His bangs were wet and his forehead dripping sweat down to his soft eyebrows, little beads skiing erratically without concern.

“I need help gutting some cacti. I want you to come with me, you could learn something.”

The desert sun was quite unrelenting today, but there was a peace with the world. Out here carving out pieces of cactus, you got a sense of the world that kings and hard-dealing men didn't have the capacity to recognize. It was beautiful, each grain of sand lying still in an endless bed of history—of tranquility. When you chose to, you could be one with the desert. Your body could extend four thousand miles and you could hear the beating of everyone's heart. Some of them were racing, others were as docile as lambs. This was the womb of a mother, and you were part of an inner-webbing of something deeper. You were a part of something beautiful. Nothing could ever change that.

Adate appreciated so much more than he could ever relate to his sister. Somehow, the fact that they were the same age just didn't mean his thoughts of Zen were automatically understood by her. He felt lonely knowing this fact. He loved her so much, but that inability to communicate with her—it left holes in everything he was. That hardly made sense, even to himself, but that's how he felt.

His father looked proud of himself, his rough cloth shirt covered in sweat. He seemed so happy that Adate was even out here. Really, Adate wasn't doing anything; he was just a spectator. His father just wanted him to be there so he could impart his infinite wisdom to him. After all, his was an intelligent man, and Adate deeply respected him.

“Most of the water that maintains the city,” he said, wiggling a knife into a lonely cactus, “it comes from the river. Which is good; the river runs like veins through the desert, it's the universal factor of all human beings who live here. All our friends and our enemies—they have to drink somewhere from it, from a branch of it, we all drink from it. It's the lifeblood of all of us. But the best water—the cleanest, holiest water—it lies in the cacti, which are much older and wiser than even the desert. They're the aged men that look over us, telling us we don't have to accept everything at face value. Do you get it, Adate?”

“No, I'm not sure what you mean.”

His father smiled lightly, and a drop of sweat fell from the corner of his lips. “I'm glad you're so honest, son. It's such an admirable quality, you'll go far with it. Think about this: the river runs and feeds all the kingdoms of the desert, right?”

“Uh-huh.”

“But there are some places out there that the river doesn't run to—dead land where no one can survive. The river has never been in these places, it has no knowledge of anything outside of itself. It's limited, it tells the people where to live and we obey.”

“Uh huh.”

“But the cacti, they're everywhere—they've seen all of it, even the places where man has never stepped. They guide us, telling us to go where we've never gone. They want to help us. They're far wiser than the river, and they have no desire in controlling how we live our lives. They tell us we don't need an entire river to drink from...we just need ourselves. Us and us alone. Do you get it?”

“I suppose I do. I'm not sure.”

His father gave a weak chuckle. “I guess it's stupid to get all that from a cactus when you think about it. I don't know, I just feel there's so much to life we don't see sometimes, you know?”

“Yeah, I do, actually.” Adate's eyes lit up. His dad was admitting something important. But his dad dismissed the conversation as soon as he started it.

“Oh well,” he sighed, and he pulled out a carved square of the cactus and gave it to Adate. “Here, this one's for you. I guess we should head in, your mother probably wouldn't like the fact you're out here so far from home when it's so hot today.”

“You only took one square from this cactus, though.”

His father turned and looked at it. “Oh—it'll be here tomorrow.” He wiped the water off the knife onto his shirt. “I'm sure this cactus doesn't mind. I think it'd understand the beauty of a half-finished job. Anyway, if you could pick up the bucket with the cactus squares, that'd be a big help, Adate.”

“Okay.”

They made it home, and a few hours later the whole family was sitting at the table. His father had changed out of his sweaty clothes, but his hair was still tangled. It was quite the contrast to his mother, whose curled hair was being held up with a clip. His sister sat next to her, and they both had the same color hair. But Adate's hair and his father's were nothing alike, and it was odd both of them sitting at different ends of the table with one side completely vacant. Odd, but strangely complementary.

Their dinner consisted of pork chops and buttered biscuits, both of which Adate's mother prepared. Their meals were always simple, but his mother took great patience with every meal. They were a quiet family, and the quietness unsettling at times but none of the family members seemed too fixated on it, nor had they any feeling they were obligated to force speech. Adate had something important to ask, though.

“Daddy, what is an 'archetype?'”

His father, who had been resting his fork on his pork chop as he chewed, looked up and widened his eyes. “Where did you learn a word like that?” his father asked casually.

“What, is it a bad word?”

“No—of course not. I'm just surprised you've heard it before. Where did you hear it?”

“I dunno. From one of my friends.”

His father placed his fork down. “Well, I could explain it to you.”

His mother interjected. “James, you shouldn't bother putting such things into a little boy's head. He's not going to understand what they mean.”

“There's no harm if I explain it,” his father reached out and placed his hand over his wife's. His wife withdrew slightly. James noticed this, but he didn't leave any pause for it to be significant. He turned back to Adate. “Do you want to know? I swear to you it's interesting.”

“Sure,” said Adate.

“Well, archetypes: they're basically like representations, sort of. They're models—symbols. Like—you know what a king is?”

“Yes.”

“What do you think a king stands for?”

“Um...”

“Royalty,” his father continued. “A king stands for royalty and power, and respect. People respect kings.”

“So the king is an archetype of royalty, power and respect?”

“Yes!” His father as thrilled.

“Oh. Is the sun an archetype?”

“Yes, it is, actually.”

“What of?”

“Well--” James looked over at his wife and daughter. His wife, Sarah, was eating diligently; while his daughter, Laura, gave him a light expression of confusion. He turned back to his son. “I suppose that's up to your imagination. It can stand for a lot of things: holiness, light, happiness, all sorts of things. The moon can be an archetype too, you know.”

“Is fire an archetype?”

“What?” James hesitated at this question. He wasn't sure what his son meant. “I suppose it is, yes. In fact, it is—but not a good archetype, really. There a lot of bad archetypes too, Adate. There's also another kind of archetypes.”

“What kind?” said Adate.

“There was once an old philosopher centuries ago who believed there were certain archetypes that everyone knew, no matter where you came from, and these archetypes were in your dreams. I think his name was Jung. I'm not sure now. He said that some things always represented certain ideas. There was the Anima and Animus, the Trickster, the Shadow,” he counted on his fingers, “the Scapegoat, the Self, the Hero, the Wise man, the Mother...and that's all I can remember off the top of my head.”

Sarah put her fork down, and now she was the one with her hand over her spouse's. “James, really, this is over his head. You two are going to be here all night with cold plates if you don't eat. If he's really interested, you can tell him after dinner. And please, no talking about shadows and trickster and scapegoats. You don't want to give him nightmares.”

James conceded. “You're right, dear. I'm sorry.”

“Daddy, when was Jung born?” Adate persisted.

“I'm afraid we'll have to talk about it afterwards, son. Maybe when I'm tucking you into bed. Okay?”

Adate nodded. The family continued to eat in unison.

When it was finally time for bed, Adate made no delay to finish his nightly rituals so he could ask his father more questions. He was so intrigued by all these ideas behind dreams, especially after last night. He wanted to know the truth. His dad was such an intelligent, interesting man. He wondered why his sister could never see it.

His father came into the room, and Adate was already in bed. With bright eyes locked onto him as he entered the room, Adate immediately dove into his inquiry. “Daddy, can archetypes be anything in dreams?”

James chuckled, slightly taken back at the immediate attack from his son. He came over and sat down lightly at Adate's side on the bed. “Yes, they can be a lot of different things for different people. But you really shouldn't worry about it, Adate. Jung's philosophy was that archetypes only appear to us in dreams when there's something troubling us.”

“I had a bad dream last night, daddy.”

James' eyebrows became furrowed. “Oh? What about?”

“There was fire, but I touched it and it was cold. And there was something standing over me. It had red eyes, and it attacked me. I felt it attack me.”

“Is that why you asked if fire was an archetype at dinner?”

Adate felt slightly embarrassed. He never liked people figuring out what was on his mind, even if it was something obvious. It was a certain sense of privacy he had developed about himself. Nonetheless, he nodded.

“Well, I'll be honest with you, Adate. It could be an archetype, but I doubt it. I mean, there's not much a little boy like you should have on his mind that's troubling you. Nothing about your life's been bothering you, has it, son?”

“No, I guess not. I'm scared I'll have another one though, daddy. How do I make bad dreams go away?”

James inadvertently smiled. He reached out and rubbed his son's shoulder assuringly. “Just don't worry about anything, son. You should never have the weight of the world on your shoulders, and you should know your mother and I will always be there to protect you. Always. So don't ever worry about anything. You're never alone.”

James sighed. “I think we should probably talk about archetypes some other time. I don't want to give you weird dreams. Let me tuck you in.”

Adate got under the covers, and dad pulled up the sheets and tucked the sides in under the mattress. He placed his hand on Adate's head.

“Daddy, I just have one more question.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“When was Jung born?”

“Oh. I told you, centuries ago. I'm not sure exactly when.”

“If the year is 612, has the world only been around for six hundred and twelve years?”

“You know,” James poked his son's nose, “that's more than one question. But that's a good question. No one really knows for sure, Adate. That's just as long as we've been recording history. Now, go to sleep.”

Adate closed his eyes, and James got up from the bed. After he blew out the candles on the dresser, and looked once more into the darkness. “I love you,” he told his son. And he left.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of Adate's night. Two hours later, he woke up in a cold sweat and batting away at something in front of him that wasn't there. It was another bad dream, but he couldn't remember this one. He hated waking up in the middle of the night; it wasn't the darkness or the silence that disturbed him, it was the static underneath everything. He couldn't explain it.

He hopped off the bed and went to the door, unsure of where his destination lied. He had been frightened, but whatever terror that had gripped his heart had been smothered in the wake of reality. Maybe he was cold. Maybe he was hungry. When your heart's beating hard and you're covered in sweat, it's hard to tell what you want.

He left his room and quietly tip-toed down the stairs. At first he thought of maybe getting a slice of bread so he could at least eliminate the possibility of one need his body might be craving, but now what compelled him to descend the wooden steps was the distinct sound of hushed voices. It was either burglars or his parents, but burglars seemed unlikely. No one burglarized on this side of town.

He peaked around the corner of the wall, and all he could see was his father and his mother standing in the dim light of the kitchen, his mother facing away from Adate with her hair falling down her back. His father's countenance was unusually grim.

“I don't know what you want from me, James. You ask so much of me, and honestly I want to give you the patience, but you show no remorse for anything you do. This marriage seems more like a mistake every day. I feel trapped here having to support our two children.”

“I know, I'm sorry. It's my fault, I should pull more weight around the house.” His father's voice was quivering. “You know I still love you--”

“What does that even mean?”

“I love you, I just don't express it right like I used to. Times have changed me, but I never meant to change. I'm not growing dispassionate, I--”

“Well, I am.”

“I—I'm sorry. Please, I don't want you to feel trapped. I feel bad because we're so different from when we first got married. I want the kids to be happy, but I especially want you to be happy. I never intended for you to hate your life.”

“Well, I'm sure that makes up for the last six years of my life I wasted on a bad decision. Everything should be fine now, right, James?”

“Well what do you want me to do!” His father's hands shook. “Do you want me to pull more weight around the house? Do you want me to treat the kids better? Do you want me to bring in more money? What?”

“I don't want anything from you,” she said. “You make me sick just having to share the same bed with you.”

Then his mother walked out his vision with her head turned down to the floor with disgust, while his father stood with his hands frozen in front of him and his mouth gaping, a complete sense of shock evident in his appearance. Then, his hands loosened, and he tightened one into a hard fist as he gritted his teeth into some half-smile, half-contorted expression of anguish, looking downwards into that curled ball of fingers.

Adate had never seen his father like this, but this look—it was devastating. He could see it was overflowing with such passion and hatred, but he couldn't feel it. And he wanted to so badly. This look, it was filled with an inestimably deep sense of overwhelming pain. It was a sickening, nauseating look, filled with regret and loathing—and hope. And life.

He wanted to reach out to his father and comfort him. He wanted to take away his pain and tell him none of it mattered, that he would never be alone, just like he had been told earlier. This feeling of empathy was so strong, but he couldn't act upon it; something restrained him. But he knew there was life in his father, some sense to get rid of all of it and burn everything away in one giant fire—and be transformed. To know that in the destruction of it all, there was still something, some untold phoenix waiting to breathe life back into pure dissolution.

Was the world always burning like this? Were there always people groping in the dark like his father was now? Was there always someone trying to rip an angel from the sky and shake it to death until the meaning behind it all was lost in spiritual translation? Did the world writhe in a chronic paroxysm of torture every night? There was so much Adate wasn't living. He could see it in his father's weakest moment. And he wondered: when the time came to feel his own weakest moment, would God fall from the heavens and tear the universe asunder, so there was not a moment more that he himself might suffer some indefinite despair? Only time would tell.

And so he returned to his bed before anyone could hear him, sliding under his covers and falling fast asleep. Perhaps it was all too much for a little boy to think about.

Indeed, when Adate awoke he didn't have quite the same frame of mind as the night before. He started replaying the scene of his mother and father fighting in the kitchen, and he admittedly depressed now. He couldn't imagine a mother and father not loving each other. His world had gone more awry last night than he realized.

Adate wasn't given any length of sufficient time to cope with any of his parents' crisis, however. He and his sister were drawing things in the sand beside their home, exceptionally bored with the lackluster agenda of the day, along with their father who was taking garments off clotheslines and putting them into a basket. It was this moment that a man decided to come up to their father; a man with a long, unnatural face and dressed in drab leather.

“James.”

Adate's father stopped on a clothespin and look up at him abruptly. “Hey. Who are you?”

“You've never met me. My name is Lorac.”

“Lorac? Lorac?” James let his hands off the clothespin. “The High Knight?”

“Yes,” said Lorac, pulling out a metal badge to prove his authority.

“What are you doing here? Are you enlisting? Adate's only six, he's not old enough yet--”

Lorac returned his badge to the folds of his attire. “That may very well be, but you see, Adate belongs me to anyway.”

“My son doesn't belong to you,” James said with hostility. “I respect you and the Saren Empire but you have no right to come here ordering city people around--”

“No, Adate literally belongs to me. I'm his biological father.”

“Huh?”

That was Adate's reaction as well. Now Lorac had the attention of all of them.

James was suspicious. “You can't be,” he cocked his head, “he looks nothing like you.”

“Wait, I'm adopted?” Adate interjected.

“If I weren't his father, I wouldn't have known he existed, nor would I have known what name I told you to give him when I left that note in the basket four years ago.”

James shook his head. “No, that makes no sense. You're the High Knight. You don't need to give your offspring to strangers, you're too well off.”

“He is my bastard son,” said Lorac. “I couldn't let my wife know, it would have eternally shamed her. She passed away not long ago, however—from a tragic bout of illness. I won't go into details as I'm still sensitive about it, but in the wake of her absence I've come to reclaim Adate as my rightful heir.”

“Okay, this is all much too fast,” James stopped him. “We're going to need to talk about this inside my house. I can't just let you come and take my son away without telling me a few things first.”

Lorac appeared humbled. “By all means, we should. Forgive me, I had no intention of just coming and sweeping away your son. We of course must talk about this in detail and make proper arrangements. It's been a long four years, indeed.”

“Alright, just let me finish unpinning the laundry and we can go inside.”

James quickly removed the last three pieces of clothing from the clothesline and invited Lorac to follow him. He gave his children a glance that told them to come inside, too.

Adate had not been allowed to be present during the discussion between the stranger and his father. He'd been politely asked to go up to his room, and his sister had tagged behind.

“Why did that man say he was your...bilojcal father?” Laura pronounced the word with great strain. She was fiddling with a small wooden box on Adate's shelf.

“I don't know,” said Adate, sitting slumped on his bed. “I've never seen him in my life.”

“Can people have two fathers?”

“No. I think that man was saying I'm adopted.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you and mommy and daddy might not be my real family.”

“What?” she exclaimed. “That's dumb. How can we not be your real family?”

Adate became frustrated. “Laura, I can't explain this to you. Can you leave me alone?”

Laura stopped trying to open the box on Adate's shelf and turned towards him. He looked back with all seriousness in his face. It was then she realized that Adate was unhappy, and she came over to place her tiny hand on his shoulder.

“Don't worry. I'm always going to be your real sister.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“That doesn't make you feel better?”

“It's nice of you, but I don't think I'm going to be here much longer.”

“Adate, you can't go! Who will I play with after you're gone?”

“Play with the neighborhood kids.”

“But I don't have fun with them like you!” she whined. “They're stupid, I hate them!”

He sighed.

“Where are you even going?”

“I don't know.”

“I'll come visit you.”

“You can't leave the house by yourself, Laura.”

“I know...but when I'm old enough, I will.”

Adate was slightly uplifted by this. “Will you?”

“Of course! You're my brother.”

“Thanks, Laura.”

Lorac entered Adate's room a few moments later, smiling like the reaper.
 
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"He walked into the shreds of flame. But they did not bite into his flesh, they caressed and engulfed him without heat or combustion. With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he too was a mere appearance, dreamt by another." - Borges

"Above all else, to thine own self be true." - Shakespeare
 

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Old 07-02-2008
 
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This is the final chapter of my book that I am writing. I skipped ahead and wrote it because I thought it was important that I write it now. I took this from personal experience, I know it is confusing since I haven't written the rest but perhaps you will like it anyway. A lot of words that should be italicized are not italicized on here just because it would take too much time to skim through and redo that, so some parts may seem odd because they do not have their original emphasis. This is also unedited so there may be words or letters placed that should not be there. This is 6,100 words in length.

Chapter ??? - The Inwards Perfection

Gregory burst open the doors of the Great Room. “DRAGON! STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW!”

Dragon froze at the booming of Gregory’s voice. Duranes had frozen as well.

“Dragon, you put down that sword now or so be it I swear upon everything that I stand for that you will suffer a fate worse than what you can even fathom might be in store for you now! You’ve abandoned your master!”

The young fighter lowered his sword, his face quite red. “Gregory, I—“

“Adate was on a mission to destroy our Empire. Why would you aid him? What words could he have possibly said to make you turn against the greatest power in the desert—the people and the kingdom that made you who you are today? It is obvious you have no loyalty to Saren.”

Dragon grew angry. “Gregory, we can’t just give in to these guys! How can such a small cult control a giant empire? It doesn’t make sense! We can’t bow down to these cretins, no matter what it takes!”

“So you were in this to bolster Adate’s pride?” Gregory turned to Duranes. “Good knight, these young men have abandoned the Saren Empire. What they’ve done—is unforgivable. We can only grovel at your feet…”

He removed his belt along with his sheathed sword, knelt on one knee and presented them with outstretched arms in submission. “Please, knight, we beseech you and your leader. The Empire comes in peace.”

“No!” Dragon screamed. “I refuse to bow down to these people! We’re above them! It’s you, Master, who’s abandoned the Empire! What I do today is for all of Saren!”

Dragon swung his sword backwards to engage Duranes once again, but Duranes had easily anticipated it. Dragon swung at dead air, and Duranes grabbed him by the top of his hair and brought him down backwards with tremendous force. Dragon let out a painful holler, but did not fight.

“Listen, you—Gregory,” he said, holding tight to Dragon’s hair and hovering a sword by his neck to stop his resistance. “I can tell you’re indeed from the Saren Empire, since I just did this lad you see on the floor in, and I obviously know who that lad is. –Come closer!”

Gregory hesitated.

“Closer! I don’t want to shout.”

Daniel was peering from behind the door to the balcony. The sun was setting in all its brilliance, with the light shining down on Gregory and the others. He looked at the sun, and saw how those rays seemed so weak as the shadows of the rocks on the great dunes outside threatened to leap out and attack the oncoming night. It was quiet in that room. Adate was still lying flat on the ground with his hands tucked under his stomach. The room was warm, and calm. The massacre that laid outside and the fighting that had just taken place seemed a sharp contrast to the atmosphere that had now took hold. The golden edges of the door for which Daniel stood behind shone the brightest.

Gregory was on edge. Nevertheless, he approached Duranes calmly until he was in speaking distance.

“Good.” Duranes was still holding tight. His voice was much more relaxed. “So, all three of you are from Saren. And this is your apprentice?”

Gregory nodded.

“And it seems your apprentice got away from you. Listen, we can’t have this. The Black Society can’t work with Saren if it can’t keep a hold of its soldiers from going on killing sprees. Your guys got damn close to ruining us. Do you understand how bad that is, for you and your Empire?”

Gregory swallowed. “Yes.”

“I don’t think you made clear to these men that killing our leader means absolutely nothing. We are everywhere, and as soon as our other divisions had caught word Daniel was dead we would have spread the Plague on your Empire in an instant. And see, we’re still going to have to do something, because this situation is bad. Very bad. You know why?”

“Why?”

“Because it looks like all of this was done intentionally. And there’s noooo way I can tell whether you’re really here to stop these two, or if you’re here to finish the job. Nuh uh. We don’t play like that.”

Gregory started to become very nervous. “Duranes, this isn’t a trick. These two are here completely on their own! The Empire didn’t do this!”

“Save it! The Black Society never needed Saren, but apparently we didn’t make that clear. You have a choice: either you kill this man yourself and you return back to Saren to bear the bad news, or I kill you both and send the bad news in a wagon with your corpses in it. Either way, the Saren Empire has come to its end!”

“Adate!”

Dragon struggled from Duranes’ grip, who yanked his hair back to stop him. Alarmed, he looked over to where he had slain Adate only to see that he was running full force at the doors where Daniel stood. Duranes let good, and as Dragon quickly stood up, all three of the warriors began to bolt for the balcony doors.

“He was dead!” Duranes shouted. “He was dead!”

“ADATE, NO!” Gregory screamed. “YOU CAN’T DO THIS! PLEASE, GOD, NO!”

Adate closed the balcony doors on all three of them, and slid the latch closed. Now it was only him and Daniel, and the desert landscape.

“Adate, you don’t want to do this!” cried Daniel. “Please!”

Adate turned around, blood gushing from his chest. His eyes were filled with an unspeakable fire. Without hesitation drew up his sword, his magnificent sword that had been his only steady companion his entire life. He sped towards Daniel in a quick, trembling, almost uncontrolled pace, came within two feet of his quivering victim, lifted him off the ground with one hand, and drove his sword straight into the middle of Daniel’s chest.

And that is when the universe collapsed.

Daniel’s tongue shot out from his skull as his eyes rolled into the back of his head and the colors of fire and blood broke out across his face. His arms opened up and blew apart into wings of burning flame as his chest cracked open into nothing but darkness. Adate’s sword was still stuck in the center, and his arm still holding Daniel, but Daniel had become weightless. The chest crack broke open more. He floated in the air above Adate like an angel from hell. The sun’s flames exploded and ate the entire sky, but everywhere darkness was eminent, rotting away the corners. The pounding of the doors behind drowned into nothingness. He let go of Daniel, and looked down at his wounds. They were still gushing—but they didn’t hurt. In fact, they hadn’t hurt since he had fallen to the ground.

What just happened?

The demon angel hung over him without motion. Its wings moved with the air, and its chest continued to crack open more and more, but it showed no signs of life. Adate swallowed.

You’ve done it.

The latch had vanished, and the balcony doors opened. Adate turned around, and Gregory, Duranes, and Dragon were all standing in front of them. All three of them were placid.

“You did it, Adate,” said Gregory at the forefront. “You tripped the wire.”

Adate smiled. “You mean…?”

Gregory smiled back. They all did. “Yes, it was all a bad dream. All of it.”

The words were in Adate’s mind, but they came out Dragon’s mouth. “You mean all twenty-one years were just a lie?”

“Yes,” Gregory turned to Dragon. “It was all fake. None of it was real.”

“None of it was real!” Adate cried. “I knew it—all the signs pointed—everything that happened in my life—“

Then he really did begin to weep. He fell to his knees. “I’m so happy! Losing my family, losing my lovers—Laura, Bardo, Magdolf, Krista, Maria….All the people I had to kill, all the blood, all the nightmares—I tripped the wire! I’m on the other side!”

“Yes, you’ve broken reality,” said Gregory. “None of it was real.”

“You mean, we’re all just a part of Adate’s dream and everything is a part of his mind?” chimed Duranes. “We’re just a part of him and he’s just a part of everything here and—“

“Yes, this is the reality Adate created in his mind. And now he has finally escaped it.”

“Then it’s just like any of my dreams,” Adate said through his tears, “only I’m in control of it this time. And nothing bad can happen!”

“I think he got it!” said Dragon to Gregory, who both looked each other in the face.

“Wow, I can’t believe he got it,” said Duranes.

“Well, what does that mean?” said Dragon.

Adate got back up to his feet and took a deep sigh. “It means this is the afterlife, and now I’m here to stay eternally in a dream world…the perfect ending,”

He moved past the three of them standing in the doorway and gently sat himself on the stone floor inside. The others gathered around him and sat down.

“Everything will always be perfect,” he said. He had stopped crying. “This is what heaven is supposed to be.”

“What, an eternity with the three of us?” said Dragon.

“No. There’s a whole ‘nother world out there,” Adate tucked his knees in. “Saren is still there, and the entire desert is still there. But it’s changed now, I can feel it.”

“So Saren is still there—but now you control it?”

“Yes, I control everything.”

It grew silent.

“So what happens to the Empire?” Gregory said after a long pause.

Adate smiled. “You would want to know that. Well, what happens to the Empire doesn’t matter. Everyone stops fighting, the military goes away, the king resigns—everyone lives in harmony. And nothing else matters because—“

Adate took in a sharp gasp, and laughed. “Oh God, none of it ever mattered!”

“What?” they said in unison.

Adate laid down on the floor. “You don’t get it? Nothing ever mattered outside of the Empire! This is all my reality! I controlled everything. I never really knew the places outside my home, so really, no place matters except Saren. None of the rest of it exists!”

“Nowhere else exists?”

“Well—it exists, it just doesn’t matter.” Adate stared up at the ceiling. “It’s like when you are in a dream about the house you grew up in. Inside the dream you know that the whole world exists outside of that house—it’s just irrelevant. And so it just sort of falls off into a blur in the shadows of your mind. It’s there, but it’s not there. You get what I mean?”

“No, I don’t,” said Dragon.

Adate smiled again. “No, you don’t. I’m slowly starting to get it, now.”

There was a creaking above them. Adate lifted his head back up, slightly startled. He anticipated another sound to come, but nothing did. The others just stared at him. He laid back down.

“Wow,” he said in marvel. “I’m slowly starting to get it.”

“What?”

“Everything is one and one in me…an infinite explosion exploding within itself infinitely. Everything is converging.”

They waited in silence.

“We’re just one collective mind trying to restore itself. All of our thoughts are the same.”

Adate lifted himself up again and stared at Dragon. Dragon instantly spoke.

“So you mean right now your thoughts are transmitting through my mouth—“ he paused. Then he smiled. “Wow, you’re right.”

Gregory laughed. “You don’t even have to speak anymore. We can speak for you.”

There was a slight creak again.

“Should we go outside and you can explain this more?” said Duranes with rested composure.

Adate did not reply, for he knew that he could transfer his response through their minds. They all got up simultaneously and walked back out on the balcony. The sun was still bleeding with dark orange flames, and the mutilated angel that had hung just over them in the sky had been eaten away by the splitting cracks in it chest. Now there was shards of flesh and rubble suspended in front of them. Slowly, those shards were beginning to disintegrate as well. Adate and the rest sat themselves on the edge of the balcony.

“So what were you going to tell us?” continued Duranes.

Adate glanced at each one of them. “An inwards perfection is happening.”
Gregory took up Adate’s story. “An inwards perfection, where everything in the universe is trying to balance itself back into the perfect medium. Where once we existed as lowly humans, now we exist as a collective mind—and together we are the construction of God, who is also one and the same with the universe. The universe—and we—started out as a simple point, and we exploded outwards. Now we must come back inwards.”

Then it was Dragon’s turn. “Right now, everything that is happening is outside the old reality. All of us talking together right now is only a relay of thoughts shooting back and forth inside the mind of a God in the new reality. And right now we are converging to come back to this new reality. Dimensional constructs which we had to shape our reality by—space, time—they’re slowly collapsing and being done away with. For twenty-one years we suffered, and now time and space are unraveling so that we may come back to our one “point” again, to live in eternal harmony. No longer must we live by the things that allowed such suffering to be made possible. The inwards perfection.”

Adate nodded. “Everything works like a mirror. I had to suffer the ultimate horrors in life so that, on the other side, we could enjoy the ultimate happiness. Things sank lower and lower until it came to the breaking point where the most polar extremes were achieved, and now they are coming together like two magnets, at first which had repelled and now attract. I lost my family. I still don’t have one, but now I don’t need one. I lost my lovers. Now I don’t need them.”

He furrowed his eyebrows. He didn’t think about that. Krista flashed through his mind.

“You won’t ever need them?” asked Duranes.

“Well…it makes sense. If everything is trying to balance back out into the perfect medium, then I guess all the sensations I felt in life—pain and pleasure—they’re counterbalancing one another. I guess if I’m going to become a God, things like love are now above me. So, yes—I don’t need my lovers anymore. I don’t need Maria or Krista. Really, in the end, we were all the same mind anyway. We were all the same person. Yes,” he affirmed to himself, “in a way I was technically all of humanity anyway. The people I lost mean nothing now, they were always just a part of me.”

His body had tightened up while he was talking, but now he relaxed again. For a moment he wasn’t sure how he could remain so content in a world without his former lovers, but it made sense now. Everything was starting to make perfect sense.

Suddenly, Dragon reached over and punched Adate hard in the mouth.

“Hey!” he sputtered. “What the hell was that for!”

Dragon laughed. “Well, if pain and pleasure are trying to balance themselves out, and everything is collapsing inwards in a forwards-backwards mirror motion, then maybe you are going to relive everything you physically felt in life—both the pleasure and the pain.”

Adate’s face changed to a horrified expression. “Don’t say that! The things that happened to me in life were much worse than a punch! I can’t feel that pain again—I won’t! The pain I felt in dying was too strong, I can’t relive it!”

He clutched at his still-present chest wound. It was not bleeding as badly anymore, but it still oozed slightly, as if the wound were quickly starting to close up. Perhaps it would completely disappear soon.

“Well, okay,” said Dragon, slightly alarmed himself, “maybe you won’t relive all those experiences. Yeah—think about it. You had to suffer the ultimate physical agony already—death. By experiencing death, you’re actually experiencing eternal life now. So yeah, you’ve already gone through the suffering. Now it’s just a pleasure cruise. The mirror has already taken place. Everything will be fine from now on.”

“Yeah,” said Adate in agreement, still rubbing his aching jaw.

“But I don’t get something,” said Duranes. “Is it really a pleasure cruise from now on? One would have to assume the mirror effect between these two realities is either pain to pleasure, or just the perfect medium. And wouldn’t the latter make sense, if everything is coming into the perfect medium?”

Adate shook his head. “No, because I felt too much pain in real life. There was not enough good in my life to counter the pain I felt.”

“But are you sure? You did have some pleasure in life. You had a good childhood up until six years, and you had a good family up to that point—“

“No,” said Adate, “I didn’t. My mother and father secretly fought. Their happiness was a lie.”

“But you did have Maria and Krista. Some people go their entire lives without experiencing any love.”

Adate shook his head again. “Maria never fully loved me. In fact, she was put off by me at times. She loved me out of pity. And Miranda—well—I lost her.”

“But you had her for a time. And that’s what mattered.”

“There were so many other things, though,” said Adate. “The fact I was adopted, how evil Lorac was, how evil I became myself, the drugs, the murders, the possessions, killing my own sister, the hideous dreams that plagued me my entire life—“

The wind blew, and startled Adate for a second. It was quite cold. He lost his train of thought.

“I’m sorry, what was the point of what we were talking about?”

“Whether the mirror of this reality is pleasure or some medium.”

“Right. Well—okay, I’m not sure. If this new reality were heaven, then it’d make sense for it to be a place of eternal happiness. But I guess, in a way, it also might make sense if it were just some in-between. I’d never feel pleasure again, but I’d never feel pain either. I guess I could live the rest of eternity like that. That’s not too bad. After all, once I transcend everything else I guess never being able to feel pain or pleasure again will seem unimportant."

“Can you fly?” inquired Dragon.

Adate looked out into the horizon. “No—but I don’t need to. This land…is just an inferior part of my conscious. Once I ascend, the ability to fly on this plane will become trivial.”

He sighed, watching the orange hues eat away at the sky. “I can feel the connection of the body and the mind of a higher being making itself apparent; of a collective spirit forming. I did not realize that the afterlife would seem of the same essence as my dreams. In a dream world everything seems pertinent to you, and it seems the same is true after death. But it’s strange. This place is so calm, it’s not like the incessant nightmares I always suffered. If I weren’t so convinced this was heaven I would almost find it eerie. I wonder whatever happened to that monster…”

“What monster?” asked Gregory.

“There was a monster…it manifested itself in my dreams constantly…and said it was me. That part doesn’t make sense.”

“What doesn’t make sense about it?”

Adate thought about it. “Actually, it makes perfect sense. That monster was just the evil me…and I was always the good me.” His heart became elated. “Just like all polar opposites I was split into polar opposites. My good side is ascending towards heaven while my bad side has been split from my soul—and who knows where it’s destination lies, but it’s gone now. Perhaps there really is a punishment for our sins in the afterlife, but it’s only the evil parts of our spirits that become eternally condemned. Perhaps Hell is just another part one of two polar extremes that ultimately come together to form something beyond the universe.” He sighed. “The inwards perfection. Everything makes perfect sense on this side.

“Things that required reason before don’t need reason on this side—and that’s what makes it so perfect. Answers that once could never be questioned finally have an answer on this side, and that answer is simply there is no answer…which now suddenly has become the perfect answer. When I listen, I hear my own thoughts. When I speak, I convey my thoughts everywhere. Depression and the constant feeling of emptiness seems almost like the ultimate happiness and completion on this side, because now I realize how inferior those feelings are in the sight of the perfect consciousness. The pain and misery of others suddenly becomes irrelevant. The presence of both a good and an evil suddenly make sense, because the whole world is split that way. Death becomes eternal life. The infinite space of heaven is present in the mere space of this temple. All sides are accounted for. Everything comes back to the perfect medium.”

Adate suddenly took in a sharp gasp. “Yes—it all makes sense! The reason why nothing existed past 600 years—it suddenly becomes perfectly answered. There is no beginning or end, it’s irrelevant in the sight of the perfect consciousness!” He laughed and hopped off the ledge. “Wow, I’ll always be infinitely amused by this! It’s so funny!”

They all laughed with him. In a way he felt that he made them laugh. Everything was an infinite reflection of itself. It was so much that Adate fell to his knees and cried, and as he cried the others cried as well. He was one with the universe.

“I’m so happy…you guys don’t understand,” he sobbed. “To be rid of life forever. The ultimate curse. I’ll never feel any of it again. This is so much to take in…”

“We know,” said Gregory, who crouched down and put his arm around him. “We know…we’re sorry it was like that. No one deserves to have to live like you did.”

Gregory’s display of compassion was almost fatherly, and at the same time it was almost a lover’s compassion as well. Adate realized that it was his own mind comforting him, telling him these things—and he soon acknowledged that any emotion of love he ever felt for another human being—for his father, for Maria and Krista, for Magdolf and Dragon—it was all just love for himself. Once again, the inwards perfection had made itself clear. Everything worked as a single mind and as a collective mind at once. Adate looked into Gregory’s face, and envisioned himself looking back saying these things.

“I don’t know how to thank you, Gregory…”

“You already have.”

Gregory smiled, and Adate felt that it was his own smile. He felt he understood himself perfectly, like he had never understood any other human being before.

“All the darkness is locked away forever…”

Gregory cradled him. “Yes, now just close your eyes and drift away…become God forevermore…”

Adate obeyed, closed his eyes and sank his head back. He could still feel Gregory holding him, but he felt himself drifting away, too; becoming weightless. His mind floated in a sea of infinite, of perfect quietness and tranquility. The blackness wrapped around him gently like a cocoon. He was now one with the universe, free from body and mind. He was the universe, a single point, and the universe was Him.

And perhaps he stayed there for only a few seconds, or perhaps a few minutes, or hours, or years or centuries or millennia, perhaps forever, and in that forever came the inwards-outwards of another feeling. In that feeling of perfection, there came a moment of imperfection, that did not shine or make itself apparent—it merely manifested itself within the broken fragments of the old time construct, and when it struck, there was an immediacy that became parasitical to the forever—an instant.

An instant where suddenly something did not make sense. And that instant broke eternity in half, and like an accordion the instant of collision of all reality expanded again.

Adate opened his eyes.

“What happened?”

“What?” asked Gregory.

“Why am I still here? What happened?” Adate sat up out of Gregory’s arms. “I was God—I’d ascended. Why am I back here?”

“Back where? Here? In the desert?”

“What?” Adate shook his head. He looked behind him at the sky, which was still suspended in the rotting death of an evening sun. “No…I don’t understand.”

“Understand what?” said Dragon.

There was a creak again.

“That creak,” Adate whispered. “What is that?”

No one answered him.

“I said, what is that?”

Once again, no one answered him. The silence was eerie. They did not have a confused expression on their faces. They had no expression at all.

Adate got up to his feet. “There’s something out there.”

“Outside the palace?” said Duranes.

“Yeah.”

“There is nothing outside Heaven,” Gregory stated.

“No. There’s something. What was that creak?” Adate was starting to become very alert. “I heard it before, I just didn’t pay attention to it, I shoved it in the back of my mind…I should know what it is. I’m God. I should know everything.”

Once again, there was no answer.

Adate grabbed Gregory by the collar. “You guys got to answer me! You can’t just say nothing!”

“What do you want us to say?” Gregory’s expression was almost melancholy.

“I don’t know, but you guys got to keep talking! I control you, you can’t just suddenly go quiet. Keep talking! Keep me company!”

“Alright, Adate,” Dragon said with a little impatience in his voice, “but we’ve been keeping you company this whole time. There’s nothing wrong.”

“Yes, there is something wrong!” Adate screamed. “Why am I still here? I felt—everything! I was everything! Now I’m back here! This isn’t heaven, this is purgatory—“

He gasped. “No—no. This is something worse than purgatory.”

Dragon stepped forward and placed his hands on Adate’s shoulders. “Look, Adate, maybe you should calm down. There’s nothing wrong. You’re still in Heaven. Maybe you’re just a little confused…but it’s not like we’re all going to suddenly turn into monsters or something. We’re all still here.”

“Wait, is that me speaking, or are you guys speaking for yourselves?” Adate stared into Dragon’s eyes. “I can’t tell.”

“I don’t know, I suppose we’re technically both. That’s how it works, right?”

Adate released himself from Dragon’s arms and moved backwards. “No, there’s something wrong. I don’t control you guys. –Was I ever controlling you? When you punched me in the face…”

“What about it? Adate, the mind works on different levels of consciousness. Just because I punched you and you didn’t expect it doesn’t necessarily mean we aren’t of the same mind. The element and emotion of surprise shouldn’t be absent from Heaven’s spectrum.

Adate’s back was against the balcony. “I still can’t tell if you’re talking or if it’s me talking through you trying to rationalize this out! There’s got to be sign—“

He turned and looked out over the balcony, but he did not focus on the sky. Instead he looked down at the sand below, and to the horizon on each side of him.

There was nothing. Nothing but sand.

What could he possibly do to prove…wait, what was he even trying to prove?

A creak came again, and the shuffling of feet. But the origination of the sound on the balcony didn’t seem to be inside the temple, or above it—it was in the sky. It was hanging over their heads.

Adate began to shed tears. “This can’t be happening,” he said through quivering lips. “We got to close the balcony doors.”

“Why?” Gregory questioned.

As Adate wiped the tears from his cheeks with shaking hands, he walked backwards back into the temple and quickly closed the balcony doors one at a time, sealing away the sky for good. Then he moved to the entrance of the room and closed those doors as well. The other three stood and watched him.

Dragon spoke up. “Adate, what’s going on?”

Adate’s back was against the doors, his eyes darting around. “We got to shut it out.”

“Shut what out?”

There was a tapping of steps again. Adate clutched the sides of his head and fell to his knees.

“It’s everywhere!”

“What’s everywhere?”

“The monster! I can’t get rid of it!”

He could feel everything seeping away from him. The collective mind he shared with his companions was slowly becoming non-existent. They seemed alien, like complete and utter strangers now. He wanted them to leave, but he couldn’t figure out how to get them to exit his dream world.

He slowly brought his hands in front of his face. His mind flashed back to his childhood, and he remembered his father once more. He had only been there for so long. He remember how much he wanted to help him. Now he was gone—and he’d been missing ever since that day fifteen years ago. Was he ever real to begin with? He was in and out so fast from Adate’s life. Was he even supposed to be significant? Why hadn’t Adate paid attention to where he’d gone? Suddenly his existence meant everything in the world. Adate had forgotten his dream of saving his father. Now it all seemed irrelevant—but now, more than ever, he wanted to travel back and save his father. But now it was too late.

It was the same way he felt when he first recognized his sister again after fifteen years. Someone so close to him at one time was suddenly more foreign than most strangers. He remembered his first years in the army when he longed every day for his sister’s company. Now those days were long gone. And what had he replaced those hopes with? What substitution in his life had he now that could rival such childhood desires? It was as if something sacred had suddenly lost all meaning. The significance of his life was slipping through his fingers like sand. He did not even remember his sister. Was he still Adate?

And he thought back to Maria, who carried his son and was mutilated only seven years ago. He had loved her so much, and she was the only comfort he had as Lorac pressed the years onwards stealing every last fragment of his soul, bleeding away his innocence so that an animal remained. She never even loved him as much as he did her, but without her comfort, his passage into becoming a monster would have been complete years earlier. And she was mutilated right in front of him, along with his unborn child, and he replaced her with a new lover years later. He pushed away all his love for her with a new girl, as if she had never existed—and suddenly the mutilated corpse she became, was joined by a mutilated memory. Tainted, forgotten—done away with. What if she had lived to give birth to his child? What road would his life had taken then? Would he have loved her for the remainder of his life? Would he have loved his son equally, and found the strength to become something that wasn’t a monster? Years of love may last forever as they happen, but as a distant memory, all that love, all that person ever was to you, all the intimate moments you shared with that person…it all becomes meaningless. It’s just another memory in the past. And the past sees years only as seconds.

And Miranda…oh God, he loved Miranda with all his heart. He loved Maria, he didn’t want to let her die away in his mind, but he loved Miranda so much. The way her hair smelled, the way her body felt, how she made him feel with her perfect smile, the way she brought perfect comfort to his life, the way her eyes lit up with excitement at the smallest things, like a firecracker, the heated fights that only made his heart swell, her soft body contorting with his monstrous physique, the pain of hardened years coalesced with an equality that sparked with hope and forgiveness, the vulnerability, the redemption, young sweat mixing in euphoria, her beautiful mind in almost complete synthesis with his own—

She was the antithesis to a darkened life, the proof that the chains that bound Adate to his inhumanity were not permanent.

This was not Heaven if she was not here.

He began to weep uncontrollably, looking at each of his companions, knowing what was to come.

“I cannot escape it, ever,” he cried. “The monster in my dreams…it’s me. It’s what’s out there, and it’ll never go away.

He picked himself up and came towards the center of the room where he once lay, and with weak murmurs the others moved to a different part of the room. They were murmuring to each other, as if a violent conversation were being done in whispers too weak for Adate to hear.

He placed his hands on the ground and stared at the floor through his tears, feeling his head drip with heat as the drops doused the grainy stones of the floor.

“I cannot see him…but he is always out there,” he sobbed. “He will always live as long as I live. There’s only one way to escape Him…there’s only one way to escape Him…”

Adate put his head to the floor, and thought about the last fifteen years of his life. Had it all been one horrible dream? Was he now about to wake up? If only he could feel Miranda once more…if only he could apologize…if only he could stop this…”

He put his head down on the ground, and slowly lay flat down, listening to the words of his three companions as the volume of their voices steadily grew.

A golden sunrise lies deep in the heart of man, blazing with the utmost divinity as he marches onwards on an endless journey towards nowhere! And as we go forward our footsteps look backward, and the question becomes whether there really is a beginning or end to anything we see, and if there really lies any significance in humanity. But onwards we strive, and perhaps ignorance is bliss, for if we ever weighed the depths of the hopelessness that lay before us, we would perhaps fall inwards on ourselves, realizing that death may be the only answer.

So we keep going. Because what is hopelessness? And what is hope? Who is to imprison a man with such frivolous concepts when his reality is constructed of a different substance, of something greater than anything the lost could possibly fathom? How do you instill hope or hopelessness in a man that transcends either? The purest freedom comes when one realizes that there are no answers, and the fact that there is no answers creates an untold harmony within the universe. Without reason, there is perfect reason. This is only the beginning of what we must accept.

The human mind is limited and will always be limited, and our eternal punishment and damnation is that we be forever doomed to a life that cannot extend reason outside of its own boundaries. We are enslaved by our emotions, which tell us whether to be happy or unhappy, when really there is nothing to govern what ultimately will decide the fate of our happiness. Saren must not burn, we can’t let that happen, we must make compromise in the sight of the events that have just unfolded. The Black Society, the two leviathans, the mirror and the counter-mirror, it has all done well, and we sit at its mercy, but we beg to see the sun another day. We beg to see the glorious sun. We can work through this, little by little, if only you give us time to assess what’s happened. I’m sure with enough time we can heal the wounds that have been caused, now that we’ve been relieved of this monster. Whatever it is, we’ll extend all hands, we’ll figure this out, just believe in us, just give us this moment to assess what has happened.

Adate. Wake up, Adate! Wake up!


The End
 
Tim-and-Carl has 1,830 Posts


"He walked into the shreds of flame. But they did not bite into his flesh, they caressed and engulfed him without heat or combustion. With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he too was a mere appearance, dreamt by another." - Borges

"Above all else, to thine own self be true." - Shakespeare
 

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Old 07-02-2008
 
#4
BlizzForums Carnage
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I finally got around to reading all this; not an easy task, as I have the attention span of a goldfish.

Boy, what I'd give to have your sheer length and realistic dialogue.

Quote:
"I know you don't think me stupid.”

“No, I think you're quite stupid.”
OH SNAP! XD

Quote:
Lorac struggled for breathing room. “Do you—fear—death--Griswold?”

“Kid, I AM Death!”
C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!

Quote:
“Play with the neighborhood kids.”

“But I don't have fun with them like you!” she whined. “They're stupid, I hate them!”
Nailed how little kids talk.

I loved Darudin origin story.

Like you said, the end is really confusing. Are you saying it was all a dream? Dream endings are a jip. :P

The only thing I didn't like about the story was the beginning. There's no hook/lead/reason to start. I found myself asking who the fuck is Griswold? Who the fuck is this or that? Why should I care? It didn't pull me in until half-way through the first chapter. I know, least I think, that each of the names you drop have meaning and are attached to a character, but it's either slowly or never revealed. :P

And what's this world they're living in? A post-apocalyptic desert where they believe it's the year 612 and there's knights and kings, like medieval times? It's like Mad Max with swords?

When you introduced "Duke" and "desert", the first thing that came to my mind was Dune. XD

It's really good though. I wish my stuff was this long or my dialogue this compelling.
 
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Old 07-02-2008
 
#5
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Thanks for the feedback, I'll fix it up the first chapter a little bit. And yeah, I gotta rewrite it a little bit, along with the 3rd chapter, cause some of the dialogue is bad and I am probably going to get rid of the whole Jungian archetype thing. It's just a little random and unnecessary.

Yeah, for a little background to help explain the ending a little bit, it's a post-apocalyptic world, and it's 600 because it was only 600 years ago people started to write down records again. Whenever the apocalypse happened is hazy, but what's left is an extraordinarily large desert. There are other landtypes around (like the mountains) but this desert engulfs most of the planet, and for the last 300-400 years a bunch of small kingdoms have been fighting each other for land along this river. The Saren Empire has been notorious for the last 300 years for being the dirtiest and most advanced, but they're declining.

So this guy Lorac decides to make a superhuman, but his motives are never made clear, nor is it made clear whether Lorac can 'see into the future" or not, but it's constantly hinted throughout the story that he might be a prophet. He works at this boy named Adate who he turns into the world's greatest killing machine, and the book is a transition of his lifestory from a little boy to his death at age twenty-one.

Along the way Lorac crushes his soul by destroying him internally with drugs and violence and turns him into a masterpiece physically. Throughout the story Adate rises from a nobody to the world's greatest assassin as one by one he takes down the worst assassins the desert has to offer, some unintentionally, some he seeks out, and some who seek out him. And along the way he makes friendships and finds lovers, but ultimately he continuously seems to lose everything, and his reality starts to fall apart because he can't grasp at anything to sustain his happiness.

He eventually kills a Darudin and becomes consumed with pride, and a monster births itself in his dreams and tells him there is no hope for him and his death is near. The monster plagues his dreams and will not leave him alone, and eventually he starts seeing things that are really not there. Filled with a strong pride he goes to fight the world's one and only demon, who tears him apart but admires his guts and lets him free, only if he promises never to return. Adate is obsessed with his loss and feels he must become even stronger, and so returns to Banshu pledging his allegiance to him. Banshu accepts, and tells him he must defeat a monster that lies in his dreams. Adate goes to sleep and fights a great monster, but it's not the same monster as before, and he slays it. He wakes up and Banshu is now in his mind, possessing him.

Banshu's possession gives Adate great sight over everything, and when he gazes on Saren's armies he sees many soldiers marked with a black symbol. Banshu tells him to ask Lorac what they are, and Lorac explains to him that they are members of a society called the Black Society, which for the last twenty years has been working in secret to poison the river and gain a tight fist over all the kingdoms. Saren cannot face the Black Society or else they will trigger the poison and destroy the Empire.

Adate regrets going to Banshu and asks Lorac for help to get rid of him from Adate's body. Lorac gives him a dream herb to help fight him, and Adate goes into his dreams and faces yet two more monsters who are much more powerful than him. He is inevitably beaten, and the original monster he had seen when he had killed the Darudin returns to him and tells him it is time he submitted. Adate surrenders to the monster, and the monster tears apart Banshu's monsters without a problem.

Adate wakes and Lorac is permanently gone. No one can find him. Adate talks to Dragon (Gregory's apprentice) and devises a plan to destroy the Black Society, even though it means the end to the Saren Empire, because Adate would rather destroy it all than become a slave to anyone. They go to the Black Temple, a temple that has stood in the desert for longer than anyone has known, and confront the leader of the Black Society along with his bodyguard Duranes, who next to Adate is the desert's next greatest assassin. They fight and Duranes delivers a fatal wound to Adate, and that's where the final chapter picks up.

Dragon is explain better throughout the story, along with Maria and Miranda (who I'm actually having trouble fitting into the story), and he meets his sister before he leaves for the temple and winds up killing her because he cannot accept what she has become (an assassin just like him). The idea is that Adate suffers great misery throughout his entire life, which rips away at his reality and ultimately brings about a death which even he does not understand.

Whether the final chapter is a hallucination or not is not supposed to be explained. Perhaps Adate hallucinated all of it in the last second before his death, or perhaps it did happen and he was so scared by the presence of his own monster that he decided to truly die than spend eternity with it (at the end he returns to the position where it seemed Duranes had killed him in the first place. He returns to death and hears someone's voice trying to call to him, tell him to wake up before he is forever gone). Or maybe it all really was a dream. Maybe he did not really die. It's an outlook on how the inner workings of reality are so fragile, and an admiration for those who endure great misery in their lives.

Edit: For the record who did you feel was not explained well enough out of the cast at the beginning?
 

Last edited by Tim-and-Carl; 07-02-2008 at 07:39 PM.
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"He walked into the shreds of flame. But they did not bite into his flesh, they caressed and engulfed him without heat or combustion. With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he too was a mere appearance, dreamt by another." - Borges

"Above all else, to thine own self be true." - Shakespeare
 

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Old 07-02-2008
 
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BlizzForums Carnage
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That description sounds like a very interesting read, actually.

I'd say The Duke. Supposedly he abandoned his kingdom and now Griswold wants to kill him? I guess this is all so Lorac can get Adate though. Griswold was explained well, but Lorac and the Duke are like:

Hi, gimme your son.
lol y
Cause i want him. srysly.
ok i guess.
kthx go die now lolz.

:P
 
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