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09-23-2011   #51 (permalink)
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Default Finale: An Esoteric Journey

I apologize for being absent for the past weeks: School has killed me, threw me into a wall, crammed me into a sack and tossed me into a river. But I have finished. Your mileage may vary, but I think it ties up the plot well, or well enough.

Finale: An Esoteric Journey

"Even after three years, I still haven't learned my lesson." Heku lamented aloud. "I protect one side, attack the same, then protect, then attack. Neither side wins, they just lose more and more men with every passing day."
"Then what are we to do?" Kalech asked. "Do nothing? Let fate stand on its own?" He asked me, for even he did not know the answer. The past months seemed like utter chaos, with each meticulously planned gambit shattering into a flurry of seemingly detached, random events. All he ever knew was to side with the Vesisians.
"Why not give the Lumisians a chance to fight back?" Erina asked.
They wished for an opportunity to right their wrongs, but so many deaths, so many pointless wastes of precious human life had been stained on their hands that Death seemed to loom amongst them.
Heku could think of nothing, slowly stepping away from the group. With the loudness of a whisper, he said, "Do whatever you need to do. I- I have some unfinished business to see through."
"We'll be there soon." Cerise smiled, trying to hide her insecurity. "We can still stop it."
The four parted ways without another word. Despair loomed above their heads. Without rest nor food, armed only with my chipped, simple sword, Heku wandered back into the forest.
It took him hours to wander back to the ruined mansion. By that time, the sun had already hung high in the sky, but grey clouds obscured the light. The faint sounds of birds whistling filled the tranquil, frigid trees while he entered the looming, broken stone doors to the mansion.
Heku climbed up the mansion, the only sound coming from my heavy breathing. Even though going here was the last thing he wanted to go, something unexplainable called out to him here and commanded him to run up to the remains of the roof.
He reached the roof of the mansion. It looked the same as it did three years ago: a solid, flat roof that overlooked the forest of Außenwelt. A rusted sword had been implanted in the middle of the roof, the blade that Heku used to fell Count Larme. He approached it and lifted the sword, swinging it once. A sense of bitter resentment filled his mind. He had only used the sword only a handful of times back then, and he only killed Count Larme, but not another person more. Now, hundreds of men died for Heku to complete one measly task. Slamming the sword back into the ground, he looked to the direction of Lumisade. Smoke began to rise in the sky. He only wondered what would have happened if Heku went along with them. Would he have defended the Lumisians, or kill every last one of them? Even Heku did not know the answer. He was just a puppet being manipulated by so many other forces that he performed every single task, each one contradicting the result of the other.
He looked to the sky in a mixture of frustration and reflection. To his dismay, Vaughn appeared next to him. Heku glared into his calm eyes; Vaughn's face had been covered in contentment.
"Well now," Vaughn began. "Hekutaa Veles Ranković, you and your friends have completed the task of absolving war within Frostig, but I was certainly surprised on how you executed your plan. You spoke of peace between the two nations, but you ended up destroying one."
His voice made Heku's stomach turn. He clenched my right hand to prevent it from drawing my sword. He wanted to kill him, make him suffer, allow him to know the pain and sorrow he sowed while he reaped the souls of the dead. Vaughn's garbs, dressed with the likeness of a high seraph of lore, only enraged Heku more. Vaughn was a death god, and he knew it. He forced Heku, a once gentile, peace-loving man, to kill. He drove Count Larme, an aristocrat with the knowledge of a scholar and the temperament of a tranquil sky, into a crazed, power-thirsty madman. The term "death god" seemed to high; he appeared more like a child bent on the destruction and torment of his playthings.
"Now for your part of the deal, Vaughn." Heku growled fiercely.
Vaughn nodded in resign. Seeing that Heku performed the task that Vaughn himself could not, he could only repay him with a reward. He stretched his left hand towards Heku.
A blast of light beamed through his hands. Heku experienced a groping, grabbing sensation from within his head, almost like someone searched through his conscience. Wisps swirled around Heku, dancing fervently into the air. They broke through the clouds and let a column of bright light down to where Heku stood. Weak, Heku fell to his knees. He swiftly stood erect, almost like nothing happened. It made him feel uneasy.
"Did it work?" Heku blurted.
"Look at your palm." Vaughn said.
Heku raised his left palm. Vaughn's symbol disappeared. He tried to conjure an icicle by thrusting his hand forward, but nothing happened. All of his shackles have been removes. Every inhibition of his emotion, thought, his otherworldly powers, and his immortality disappeared. He was human again.
But what of his friends? He could only ask mindlessly about the safety of his friends. By that time, they should have already arrived in Lumisade, fighting for one side or the other.
"Bring them here." Vaughn said. "Let whatever loose ends of the deal be sealed up."
Heku turned away and journeyed back to Außenwelt. He seemed more mobile than before; he swiftly sprinted through the snow-covered forest, as if his powers chained him to the ground. Nonetheless, he rushed to Außenwelt, boarding a train to Lumisade.
The train stopped near the borders of Lumisade, and ultimately sent him back to Außenwelt. The Vesisians destroyed the railroads leading to Lumisade, and they occupied the bordering areas to Lumisade. Without his powers, he could not fight his way though. No longer could he mow down a phalanx of soldiers in a single blow, attack with blinding speed, nor strike with the force to split a fortress.
He could only wait. He sat there, sitting on the roof of the ruined building, watching the ambers of war grow into an inferno, a never-ending furnace of battle. Heku suddenly felt no sympathy for who won or who lost; he wailed to save so many lives.
His task was over.
The rotting door opened, making a loud creaking sound. Heku and Vaughn instinctively glanced back, stopping their stagnant exchange of frivolous attempts to discuss how matters came to be.
Kalech and the others appeared on the roof. Sullen faces appeared on all of their faces, their clothes spattered with drops of blood, saturated with dirt and gunpowder. Their disheveled faces told too much of the destruction.
"We were too late." Kalech grimaced.
Kalech dropped his rifle and fell to his knees, laughing.
"All this time I sided with the Vesisians and hoped for Lumisade's destruction." His laugh began to turn into a loud, remorseful sob. "Now that it's happening, I want to stop it."
"We couldn't prevent the onslaught. Not even if we tried." Erina stated, looking remorsefully at the floor.
"Then you have completed your task. Your part, as well as mine, have been completed." Vaughn said. "
Kalech glared fiercely at him. He clenched his fists and approached him, but made a solemn nod in agreement. He threw his rifle to the floor, tears still rolling from his eyes.
"Why did it have to end like this?" He asked.
" For the sake of thousands of lives, thousands of other lives must first be sacrificed. 'Tis the price of order in a world bound to the hands of a god." Vaughn replied. "For three years, you tried to foster peace between the warring lands. In return, you simply propagated the rage that caused the destruction that you tried to prevent."
Heku winced at Vaughn's words.
"Farewell." Vaughn suddenly said, vanishing from the group's view.
The four stood up and exited the manor without another word. Despair gripped them, but they fulfilled their task. Heku stopped at the great, rotting doors to the manor, taking one more glance at the structure. An air of nostalgia wafted through his memories; he was glad that all of the chaos was over. As they closed the rusting metal gates near the manor, the for exchanged slight smiles, acknowledging their past endeavors.
"And thus, by happenstance, four strangers meet to rise to combat a war." Kalech announced, his voice still alight with sadness, "And after such a war, we part, still severed from our lives that were so ruthlessly stolen from us. Our story ends as abruptly as it started; no victory parade, no accolades, not even a pittance of our actions."
"What are we to do now?" Cerise asked.
"Live." Kalech said. "We try to live on."
The four laid down their weapons and into the forests of Außenwelt once more. A journey home awaited their tired bones. The removal of their shackles seemed strange, but welcome.


March 11th, 1932.

One year has passed since I returned home, since all of us separated, since all of us tried to purge those painful memories.
It all seems like a dream, now that I began to think about it. After that day, we all seemed to turn our separate ways: I returned back home, which welcomed me to another day in tranquility, away from war. Since then, I have not been able to speak freely of what occurred in Frostig, for many people have never even heard of such a place existing. I do not know what happened to Kalech and everyone else cursed by Vaughn so long ago, but I can only assume that they have repaired Lumisade to its former glory, despite Vesisian rule.
It was not the happy ending I hoped for. Like Kalech, we returned to Außenwelt, but there were no parades in our honor; we never deserved one, even if we spent three grueling years in a frivolous attempt to amass a solution to our task.
Everything still seems unclear to me: why we killed, why we straddled from one side to another, why we propagated the war. I tried to search for answers, but I could only surmise false justifications for our actions.
Maybe something had sprouted amidst our blindness: I knew nothing of the justifications of war and I ran around in circles until my lungs burst. I felt empty, confused, and angered all at the same times. At times, I felt like I wanted to tear my mind in two, to just cast myself in oblivion, far away from my task.
I emerged tranquil. I still do not understand why.

And thus, it ends.
I hope you all enjoyed that odyssey! I'll be posting a short reflection on my writing by tomorrow~