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08-20-2011   #49 (permalink)
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Default Chapter 22: Morals

Hey, remember how I was supposed to write the finale to this story?

I got halfway through before I got distracted by three different writing projects: An "Ace Combat" + "M.L.P.: F.i.M." Crossover (don't ask; my "friend" is telling me to do it. I'm exploring the first-person perspective, for the most part), a complete and total rewrite of my original project (this one is next; expect no magic and more story...ness), and a short story on magic realism.

Anyway, have some diabolus ex machina, courtesy of Lumisade, and a deus angst machina, courtesy of the five-man-army.

The ending (still in the works) will be long. Very long.

Chapter 22: Morals

"We can end this with blood or with a unified goal." Heku began.
His voice sounded malevolent, like a demon possessed him. The air around him seemed to emit a chilling atmosphere. His eyes seemed half-open, yet glared at the military officers while his body teetered left and right. A sinister grin covered his face. A feeling of malevolence seemed to emit from the doorway. The light around the room dimmed while the light bulbs above the men flickered wildly.
"Frostig has no need for you soulless monsters." Heku insulted.
"Soulless?!" An officer shouted. "If you think we're the soulless ones, then just reflect upon your actions! You've slaughtered thousands! And for what? Your own freedom?"
"I killed those who forcibly stood in my way. Anyone who does not get in my way is not an enemy." He replied coldly. "Unfortunately, all of you are in my way. Get out of it, or die."
The officers exchanged shrill, frightened looks at one another. They nodded in silence, drawing small pistols from their coat pockets. They stood up from their seats, and pointed their pistols at the group. Fear shook the men into trying to find a resolution to the tension, but their desire to end the war with bloodshed clouded their judgment. Despite a small, short-lived discussion of taking over the Lumisian government through non-violent terms, the men held to their initial idea of killing all Lumisians.
The two sides began to throw insults at one another. Kalech argued that the Lumisians have weakened considerably and a diplomatic takeover would be more viable then the mindless, mass killing of the Lumisians. The officers did not waver. Their adamant belief that total annihilation of their foe seemed welded into their minds. No matter how much the four appealed to the military officers, their efforts flew up in failure. Each pejorative only met a more unwarranted insult from the other side. The two sides were ready to initiate a civil war.
Eventually, Erina and the others grew tired of the bickering. She withdrew her sword while she loudly roared, "Enough." The officers, and even her own comrades, stood down. Despite being unarmed, the sides still appeared volatile; the exchange of glares, their hands poised for a quick brandish of their weapons.
"How do you expect to win the war now?" One of the officers said.
"Before all of us go on a maniacal rampage, let us take the time to consider our… strange circumstances of this meeting." Kalech began.
The two sides knew that prolonging the war would only result in the destruction of both cities. Three long years of fighting wore down both sides, although Vesisade managed to remain in better standing due to Heku and Erina.
"By requesting an armistice." Kalech stated. "We're all tired of this wonderful waste of human life, and it's time that we should learn to coexist." He stepped from the group, recalling all of the screams, all of the innocent civilians desperately clinging to life in a frozen wasteland still alive by the seemingly perpetuating flames of war. "Perhaps we could find something in peace." He said it in doubt.
"And if your plan somehow fails?" An officer inquired.
Kalech continued. "It will not."
The men scoffed, almost like he told a lewd joke. The men's experience with war blinded vision to see other viable and less chaotic options. Disgusted, Kalech turned around and walk out of the door. Cerise and Erina quickly followed suit, yet Heku stayed behind.
The men's laughter began to fade. Heku still stood in front of them. He began to question the morality of the officers. Although Heku lost most of his sanity by reluctantly playing his role as a plaything of death, the men, kindled by their experiences and knowledge of the horrors of war, possessed an even lower respect of life than he did.
Heku emptily gazed at the officers. His stomach turned at the sight of the men. He wished to brandish his sword and simply execute them out of spite, yet refrained by examining them with his glassy eyes. He asked in an empty tone, "Why did the gods interfere with such a trivial war? When did divine intervention occur for humans who treat their lives like ants?"
No one answered. They simply stared at Heku, whose placid gaze seemed to shoot through the men. Minutes passed. Heku kept asking grim, almost insulting philosophical questions the officers. Despite the men's knowledge, they could not answer. Heku, out of another still silence, queried, "Are we no closer to ending the war than when we began three years ago?" Heku desperately yearned for all of the anguish to end. Perhaps that is why he had not abandoned his task; if he could complete his tribulation without the use of macabre killing, even a single hapless soul, he would gladly accept.
The men answered that they should have not vied for war. Anguish enveloped the once strong men, but Heku's almost torturous inquisition about their own values made the war for their very existence into a childish squabble. Speaking, for the officers, seemed physically painful; they stammered with every word, hands shaking and sweat excreting from every orifice, they tried to justify their actions, but every reason for the pointless waste of life sounded of a twisted excuse to slaughter every man and woman in sight.
Heku looked dryly at the men. He felt neither hate nor pity; he felt nothing. His feelings degenerated to either extreme anger, immense sorrow, or inhuman indifference. The many stories that the officers told about sending a young soldier to an assault on the Lumisians, only to be hung violently with his lower jaw ripped so that just one side kept it up (that caused many other soldiers, and even their commanding officers, to retch at the very sight) did not affect Heku in the slightest, yet he still experienced the need to express his concern. Nothing, it seemed, moved Heku. All of the screams, all of the ribbons of flesh and warm blood, seemed to easily pass by his conscience. However, his mind had been relentlessly tormented by his pointless, unjustified killings.
"Heku! We're leaving!" Kalech said, walking up from behind him. He grasped Heku on the shoulder while Heku nodded in compliance. Without looking back on the officers, he turned around and followed Kalech.
The two began to walk to the exit, where Erina and Cerise waited for them. The guards allowed them passage out into the cold, snowing night outside the fortified building. Flakes of snow gently drifted from the starry sky and blanketed the forest with a layer of diamond dust.
The four once more set out to another place. Without any rest and barely a day's forth of provisions, they marched back to the city of Außenwelt through the freezing winter night. Kalech led the way with a small lantern illuminating the snowed-ever forest and gestured where they should travel.
After several moments, the light from Einfall disappeared into the void of night. The wind howled mercilessly while the snow fell relentlessly on the wayfarers. Heku's walk quickly became an exhausted lurch; the once satisfying sound of the snow crunching beneath his feet faded with his loss of energy.
At the back of the row, he collapsed without anyone knowing; the wind grew too strong to hear. His body had been exhausted, his feet and hands frostbitten, yet his eyes remained wide open all the while. His mind did not cease to function, even if he wanted it to stop. His hands extended forward and Heku pushed whatever remained of him up. His mind screamed for him to run away. He felt like he could no longer control his own body, for it had been tantalized by the thought of returning to his normal life.
More than an hour of walking elapsed. The storm dissipated, although the snow still gently rained upon the four. Taking advantage of the reprieve, the four established a small fire with the limbs of leafless trees. They all huddled near the tiny flame to keep the blaze alive amidst the snowstorm.
None of them spoke a word to each other. There was nothing to talk about. Vesisade would send an army to completely destroy Lumisade, and Lumisade would kill the four on sight, even if they warned of the impending doom. The former soldiers guided by the hands of the gods managed to create peace, although much more blood would stain their hands. Even though they slaughtered hundreds in the past, the thought of innocent Lumisians dying by the country that they valiantly defended seemed so twisted, so defiling, that they feared that the gods would be appalled at their choices that they would be subject to a life of damnation.
Kalech stood up, reluctantly commanding his friends to continue traveling to Außenwelt. He tried to brighten the mood by telling them that they would know what to when they arrived.
Their sullen expressions did not change. Battered by failure, drenched in self-loathing, their heads filled with countless regrets and questions. Still, they walked onward.
The blanket of snow impeded their progression through the forest. By the time they reached the outskirts of Außenwelt, the sun began to rise. The four entered the empty village; not a single soul roamed the streets.
"Even though we saved Frostig, it feels that nothing has changed." Cerise lamented.
"It will." Erina added. "For the worse."
Although the four knew that their seemingly impossible task had been completed, they all felt incomplete; they though peace would eventually sprout between the two countries, not a genocide. However, they could not correct their mistakes. Lumisade would kill them immediately if any of its soldiers saw them, and Vesisade would treat them like deserters and kill them.
"This is goodbye." Heku sighed. He walked to the pier, ready to go home back to Da Capo. He had been exhausted from not sleeping for days, and his soul had been weary of the many people that would die by his hand. He wished to leave before any more chaos erupted in Frostig.
He gazed at his left palm. He stared at that hideous mark, the intricate symbol of his otherworldly pact. It was the source of his power, and he found comfort knowing that the mark would someday disappear.
He felt uneasy about leaving Frostig in its time of need, but he did not care; he never had. Neither Cerise, nor Erina, nor Kalech cared for the fate of Frostig. All of them had been pulled into the war out of the god's inability to correct their mistakes. Thoughts of death and despair crept into Heku's mind. He, and everyone else, would return to their lives. Yet he felt that one last task must be completed.
The mere thought of protecting the town that he destroyed made the bile rise in his stomach.