Wednesday, June 14, 2017

#1

“Next!”

Rory was dumbfounded when he saw the queue. Even moreso when he was issued a number by a rather bored looking orc dressed in a suit! A bloody suit!

When he had departed to slay the demon king, he expected bloodshed, and maybe losing a finger or two...but not this. In the square room sat maybe twenty other so-called heroes, mages, archers... all here to slay the cause of all evil.

He did fought his way here, trying to remember all the epic battles he fought to get to this place. His castle. Did he not? Unsheathing his sword, his jaw dropped when he found it to be pristine and unused. Examining his armor, and to his unpleasant surprise, everything was spotless as well.

He rubbed his eyes vigorously, unsure of what he was seeing. This must be a trick by the demon king! He hailed a long-haired figure robed in purple and white, sitting right across him.

“Am I under a spell?” He asked, apprehensive of his own perceptions. His understanding of magic is nominal at best. He’s not even if magic is capable of doing that to a person.

“No, you’re not. In case you’re wondering… yes, I have not used a single crystal myself even though I vividly remember blowing through all of them in getting here.” She replied.

“B-but…”

“Everyone else here experienced more or less the same thing. Unused scrolls, full quiver of immaculate arrows, you name it, they’ve still got it. All of it.” She said, with a sigh.

“How is this possible?” Rory asked, desperation raking in.

“Beats me, and I’m a pretty accomplished mage myself. Order of Ixia, First Class. This is mind-baffling to me.” She said, eyes downcast. “I came to kill the demon king, and what do I find?” She ended with a soft voice, barely a whisper.

“Does that mean I did not slay all of his lieutenants? What did I do for the past year?”

“I. DON’T. KNOW.” She stood up and stomped off in a huff.

Rory sat there, in an apparent daze, trying to find a narrative that fit what he’s going through. Everyone in his village called him a ‘Hero’ for taking up his father’s mantle in embarking on a quest to slay the demon king and bring peace back to the land. To that end he even underwent rigorous training under the tutelage of several grand masters, to prepare himself for the big showdown.

This cannot be it!

“Tell me what’s going on or I will cleave your head right off your shoulders!” He yelled at the sharply dressed orc, who seemed even more bored now if that is possible.

“Another hot headed one… you know I did not sign up for this myself.” He replied, rubbing his eyes.”Go on then, go through the red door and you’ll find out.”

Rory walked warily towards the door, with his sword unsheathed, he was in full combat stance, ready to spring into action at the drop of a feather. Everyone else was looking at him, all too confused to comprehend the situation.

He pushed open the heavy doors adorned with demonic glyphs and carvings and walked into even more absurdness. He was ready to finally face the demon king, and fight to the death if that is what it takes. He walked across a long hallway lit by braziers made up of what seems to be human bones. He was resolved.

“Welcome, Hero!” said a cheery voice.

Horns as long as her auburn hair curved in an arc, like a ram’s. Covered entirely in a red dress, she walked up to Rory nonchalantly. Caught by surprised, he immediately leapt back and sees a beautiful smiling face looking at him.

“Did Henry not explained properly again? It’s been a long day but he’s just so irresponsible sometimes…” She spouted, shoulders slumped. “Anyway, you should relax and put away your big sword in case you hurt yourself.”

“...” Rory swung his blade with all his might, and the air flew along his arc, condensing into a wave which crashes straight into the demon king. The entire hall seems to reverberate as the Rory prepares to swing a second time.

“Oh my… I guess it’s better to confiscate all your weapons before letting you guys in. I should talk to Henry about it.” She said. A wave of her hands, and she cleared the dust filling up the hall, revealing that she was unscathed. “You should really stop, my butler won’t appreciate this, you know.” And a big hole on the wall.

Surprised but unrelenting, Rory let loose another blast. Another. And another. Until he could barely hold the blade straight with one hand anymore. He stood there, the anticipation killing him. Surely, this must be the demon king, right?

Abruptly, his sword was wrested from his hands.

”I’ll take that.” The dust cleared once again, revealing the smothering beauty, whole and unscathed, yet again. “You really should learn to listen carefully, you might have really hurt yourself if you’ve kept swinging.” She said with genuine concern.

“W-wh-what are you?” He asked, fear creeping up and seizing him. His masters always advised him to carry a second weapon, in the scenario that this happened. However, he was confident in his ability to hold unto his weapon. They told him pride will be his undoing.

“Me? Maybe you should’ve asked before you started swinging this huge thing and thrashed my palace, huh?” She replied, indignantly standing among a pile of crumbling rubble.

“You’re the demon king? B-but... “

“I’m a woman? It’s just a title which I inherited from my father. There’s really no point changing it to demon queen now, is there?” She smirked. “Believe me, I’ve tried. You wouldn’t believe the bureaucracy involved in trying to change a title.”

“Kill me then… I’ve failed in my quest to rid the world of you.” Rory steeled himself as he resigned himself to death.

“No-no-no, you’ve got it all wrong! Where are you from?” She asked.

“A small village called Brim in the kingdom of Yevin, what does that have to do with anything?” He asked, getting more confused by the minute.

“Yevin… Yevin… Right! So, you were taught that the demon king is the prime evil in the world?” She asked excitedly.

“Yes.”

“That he waged war against all the countries in all the continents in the world?”

“Correct.”

“That he enjoys slaughtering humans and bathing in their blood to rejuvenate his powers?

“Yes. Where are you going with this?” Rory asked, a little annoyed.

“Tell me, have you ever been enlisted in a war before embarking on this silly quest to vanquish me?” She asked.

“No, I-”

“Why do you think that is?”

“We were a small village far from the frontlines, we were required to provide the supplies to the army. If they recruited everyone to fight in the war, who’s going to farm and provide the food?” Rory replied with confidence.

“How much were you taxed?”
“I-uh… I don’t really know anything about… “ Rory trailed off.

“EIGHTY PERCENT. Yevin taxes their citizens that much and you know why? All to pay back the the debts they owe me! And to be really frank, what they scraped together? It’s barely enough pay the interests.” She replied with a smug smile.

“B-but I… Y-you… What?” Rory was at a total loss for words now.

“... which is the main reason why they paint the demon king as evil. Sure, we might have different aesthetics for architecture and buildings. We looked evil, but that doesn’t mean we are. By making us the enemy of the entire world, they can keep sending naive fools like yourself to try to kill our head of government. To send us into disarray, to get rid of their debt.” She spun around as she explained, hair fluttering. “You’re not a hero, you’re an assassin. Sent here to sow chaos and breed dissonance.”

“Each country has their own made-up nonsense about the demon king… and my father was killed by one of these lies.” She said with a sad tone of voice.”He used to just kill all who came, and in the end… Anyway, now that I’m in charge, I took to rehabilitating all these heroes who come to kill me.”

“I’ve set up this operation to explain everything to them, and offer them a choice.” She went on.

“I remember killing your lieutenants on my way here… Is that your doing as well?” Rory asked, his spirit defeated.

She winked at me.”Maybe. So, now you get to choose, hero.” She handed me a piece of paper.

“T-this is… you want me to become your subject?” Rory asked, surprised.

“Yes, this document is as legally binding as I could make it to be.” She said.”You’ll relinquish your status as a citizen of Yevin and become my loyal subject. It’ll be magically binding too.”

“What about my family? They are still living in fire and brimstone back home.” Rory asked concernedly.

“We’ll extract your immediate family members from Yevin and bring them over. It’s all part of the package, you can read the fine print if you’d like.” She added on.”It’s peaceful and prosperous here, those cowards dare not wage real war against us and so they chose to fight petty battles amongst themselves, masquerading as war against the demon king.”

“What do you get out of this? It sounds too good to be true.” Rory said.

“I get the best that all the countries have to offer, of course! Warriors with relentless tenacity, mages with boundless wisdom… I’m not about to let all that nurtured talent go to waste! You’ll be a part of my kingdom, and I believe that all of you will set out to contribute great things.” She said, matter of factly.

“I accept.”

And that is how he became a general in the demon king’s army, but that is a tale for another time.

#



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Choices.

Life offers us a staggering amount of choices; from something as simple as picking what to eat for breakfast to choosing what to do for the rest of your natural life. It's a convoluted mess of ill-informed turns and steep nooks. Like a small drop in the vast ocean, you'll never see the ripples coming from afar with the possibilities offered to you today. 

Unfortunately, we humans are limited in our foresight, but shallow as they are, it is still often bitter struggle in deliberating options which might have long term effects on our lives. Countless what if's threatened to envelop us with any given choice and it all comes down to this; Is it the best discourse available to me? What if I do it this way instead? It is a conundrum with paradoxical implications; we might end up asking these questions in an infinite loop like a badly programmed feedback loop, in danger of overloading ourselves. 

The choices we made make up the molten crucible hardened from years of hardships and generally stumbling blindly. The fiery liquefied metal, once hardened, becomes an unbreakable foundation for the next pouring, and the next and so on so forth. Therefore, we're molded by our own hands into who we are today. Whatever choice we made, be better wise or foolish, we are bound by our own hands to stand by them; leaning on the tempered metal to support our future choices - be it the next grand adventure or whatever trivial pursuits we devote our time to.

You've made that choice. Time to make the next.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Blue.

Stacks of sun-scorched whitewashed rocks extend outwards, to the endless blue. Wearing a pair of sandals with overly smooth soles, he proceeded cautiously, one small precarious step at a time. The sun hung high, a fiery orb of heat and light tacked unto a canvas of azure with wispy ribbons of white. A black bulky DSLR slung around his shoulders, he continued his efforts with zealous conviction, slowly approaching the edge where the rocks abruptly end.

The entire expanse of the sky melds unto the ocean flawlessly, and the horizon serves to wed the two in an amalgamation of perfection. Amidst the rhythmic beating of the gentle waves hitting the shoreline and the occasional seagulls cawing, he snapped a photograph; a snapshot of a moment frozen and unmarred by time.

Blue.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Angst.

What am I even doing here? I have absolutely no idea.

It's like what they say these days - I don't even.

Quickly, act like your teen angst's in remission.

Cue sighs.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Self.

Once, I thought it would be easy; the minute I finished school, I would be employed and start my adult life as a contributing self-sufficient and responsible member of society.

Now, I'm less optimistic with each passing day; do I hold onto my dwindling aspirations? Endeavors without beginnings are not what dreams are made of.

I must carry on, wayward or otherwise. In the meanwhile, I would commit to self improvement; certain aspects of my life is a mess at the moment, and I seek to remedy exactly that.

How? I'll ride this new year feel-good wave and find out.