We all have demons.
Some we make ourselves.
Built from our errors.
In dark corners dwell.
Endlessly we fight.
To hear victory’s bell.
If we let them win.
In pain ever yell.
We all have demons.
Some we make ourselves.
Built from our errors.
In dark corners dwell.
Endlessly we fight.
To hear victory’s bell.
If we let them win.
In pain ever yell.
A fantasy writer’s metaphor for the conflict in Charlottsville
The charred-wood arena was located in a remote land; far from the regulating eyes of the legionnaires. The fights that were held there were illegal, but also the most fantastic of all, and so many risked arrest and banishment to travel to the hidden site, beyond the woods and carved into a mountain, as legend has it, by dragon’s fire. Indeed the rock jutted inward from the otherwise regular contour of the mountain in jagged edges and teeth-like points. The arena itself appeared somewhat like the snarling mouth of a serpent snapping at its prey. In its throat monsters and men battled to the death.
The arena was run by despicable men. Men who cared nothing about right or wrong, only about money and prestige. They profited off the deaths of heroes and slaves, champions and beasts. They did not value life in the least; only coin and fame. With this goal in their hearts, they captured or lured many types of souls with promises of mercy for their families or wealth for their pockets, yet most promises went broken. Still, the bouts did not go unfilled and the seats did not remain empty. Many gathered for glory, entertainment and wealth.
This particular evening there was a fascinating match. The owners of the arena managed to capture an ogre and pit the foul beast against a troll, and equally disgusting creature. Both were very strong yet also heinous. All were intrigued by the fight which was about to begin.
A pair of men, who placed bets of the opposing beasts sat next to one another with goblets of ale apiece. Each were officials from a nearby kingdom; lofty in position and authority. Though the arena was forbidden, they did not hesitate to participate in such sport, confident that the regulation did not apply to those meant to enforce such social constraints. They delighted in the spectacle and enjoyed seeing the hoi paloi risk their lives for a small purse of coins. Their names were Lords David and Vanne.
Lord David, smile beaming across his face leaned over to Lord Vanne who he was already very familiar with and stated with confidence, “This troll will defeat the ogre easily! I’ve put much gold on that! It will be a glorious battle!”
Lord Vanne grimaced, “I wouldn’t be so sure. The ogre is a savage creature. Deadly. I put my coin on him.”
“You know nothing,” David scoffed, “Trolls are ancient creatures. They’ve roamed the lands murdering and destroying peasants since before civilization. They’ve lasted this long, they’ve learned to survive anything. This orge is no match.”
“You are ignorant in the ways of ogres, clearly,” Vanne countered, “Ogres are stronger and more savage. While the history of them is shrouded in mystery, their results speak for themselves. None can best them. The ogre will tear the troll limb from limb.”
As they debated the virtues of the beasts, the monsters were released from their cages and set loose in the arena. For moments they were confused, each looked about and saw all of the spectators. Each howled at them and roared with stinking breath detectable throughout the circle. All held their breath and coughed trying to escape the stink of the combatants. With attendants pushing the beasts with poles and trying to anger them, they finally noticed the other. They did not hesitate to attack, each recognizing the danger in his opponent.
The foul creatures rushed toward the center and collided as two boulders sending an earthquake throughout the arena and a deafening crack like the snapping of a giant trees. Each monster howled in pain as bones broke in the collision. Undeterred they attacked further through a grapple. They bit and clawed and kicked at one another.
Blood, spit, hair and teeth were flying in all directions as the two hideous creatures battled for their very lives. Meanwhile, the crowd roared in approval.
Lord David was confident his favored monster, the troll, was winning. “You see this Vanne, you fool? The troll is the better beast by far! Surely he will win!”
“You must not be watching the same fight,” Vanne replied, “It appears to me that the ogre is much more powerful. There is conviction in his attacks. The troll will succumb to his savagery any moment.”
“Nonsense!” bellowed Lord David. “Your ogre is done for. Trolls cannot die except by fire. The ogre will never prevail.”
The lords yelled at the top of their lungs at one another trying to convince each that they were correct to back their particular brand of monster. Neither budged but stubbornly held their convictions.
The ogre and troll grappled with equal strength, each unable to manipulate the other into submission. Both monsters dug deep into their pain and anger and battled on. As they struggled for control of their enemy the troll tripped and stumbled backwards. In his fall, however, he pulled the ogre with him and threw the beast with all his might into the side of the arena.
The monster crashed through the wall separating the spectators from the combatants and several who were cheering on the battle were injured. Screams of terrified mortals filled the air as the ogre, confused and blinded by hatred, clawed and punched those near him. One by one he murdered those men who moments earlier cheered him or his opponent on. They were not as gleeful now that they were part of the fray.
Guards with spears sped into the arena, some to block the troll, who regained his footing, from engaging the ogre any longer, others to try to coax the ogre from his attacks on the crowd.
The ogre would no be deterred. He relentlessly attacked those around him and the number of dead rose quickly with blood and limbs spraying from the epicenter of the attack. The heinous monster left a trail of death as he moved through the fleeing crowd.
The troll was mollified for a moment as the spears thrust at him gave him pause, but he was far too angry and hateful to be calmed by a few guards and when he backed against the wall he looked up and decided he could leap upon in. With a roar and a mighty jump, the troll bound to the top of the protective wall and stared down the helpless crowd. He hopped off the wall and into the crowd of people and tore through them like he evil counterpart did on the opposite side of the arena. All were in peril.
Lord David blamed the ogre, “Your stupid ogre caused this mess! Now look at what’s happened! People are being murdered by that dull monster and you were naive enough to support him.”
Naturally Lord Vanne saw the scene very differently, “You imbecile! That hideous troll you so brazenly backed threw the ogre into the crowd. It is the troll’s fault that these people are dead.”
The Lords continued to argue about who’s fault it was and who was misguided in their support of their respective monsters. Meanwhile the evil beasts murdered any they could get their claws on, included the pair of lords who did not have enough sense to flee when danger approached. They were more concerned with blaming one another than saving their own lives. In the end, dozens were murdered and the beasts escaped and fled into the night.
Kings denounced both beasts eventually and passed decrees outlawing such arenas and the beasts they forced to fight therein. But alas, little changed. The charred-wood arena was rebuilt and once again was a place for the hopeless to seek fame and fortune. Others like it thrived across the land. All the while ogres and trolls roamed the countrysides murdering peasants and destroying towns.
From a story I’m finishing up. Hopefully in a couple weeks
When Ted and I finally got up the nerve to head downstairs, after there was plenty of sunlight, we carefully crept down. We had to push all the junk we threw down out of the way first. It turned out it was as effective at preventing us from going downstairs as it was from preventing zombies from getting up. Eventually we crawled down and assessed the damage. It took me a moment to get used to what I was seeing. I hardly recognized the room as the living room I spent hours upon hours watching TV in and playing video games. Apparently my shots with the shotgun were not well aimed. There were holes in the couch and walls. The sliding glass door was shattered and the pictures too were wrecked. The saddest part of the whole thing was that I shot the TV. I nearly cried. Honestly. I loved that TV. 60 inch high def—it was one of my favorite things. Besides the damage, there were tons of zombie body parts around. Guts and blood and parts were scattered around. It looked like a butcher’s shop. I gagged a little but then faked a cough to play it off. Ted too was having trouble with it and held his arm in front of his face to block the smell that rose up from the stinking rotting corpses. We stood staring at it all for a few minutes, just turning our heads from side to side and trying to make sense of it all. At night it didn’t seem nearly as, well, as real. But with the warm sunlight streaming in from the broken windows and door, everything was exposed. I yelled at Anna to stay upstairs until we made sure it was safe and to clean up a bit. Ted echoed my instructions to Erin.
With strategy at all we started tossing stuff out the back into the yard. After a little while I got used to the stench and stopped gagging. Ted and I worked like beasts to quickly clear the way. He was like a super useful and efficient beast, I was more like a fat and slow beast, but we got the job done. I didn’t want the women and kids to see the mess for two reasons. One, because it was gross. They would be grossed out and possibly freak out and I didn’t want to deal with the panic. Two, they would all know how close I came to death the night before and my reputation as a zombie killing master would be threatened. I didn’t want that either so I was glad we got it cleaned up a bit.
When we were finished there was still obvious damage to the room with a lot of broken furniture and glass, not to mention the TV, but we got the bodies out. We couldn’t do much about the blood and all but it was better to see some bloodstains on the carpet than an entire arm and entrails, not to mention a head with the face half blown off. Nothing was ok about all of that. It was hard enough for Ted and I, it might have been traumatizing for the wives and kids. Once everything we could toss into the yard was out I drew the curtains closed to try to prevent anyone from seeing the mess.
We called for the women and they came down the stairs with the kids huddled behind them. They stood in shock for a moment and scanned the room.
Anna broke the silence, “What happened down here?” she whispered.
I answered with authority, “A battle between the living and the dead.” They women and children stepped off the stairs and explored the room a little. I saw them take note of the blood. I knew how they felt. I was dealing with the same feelings. The war between us and zombies invaded our home. It was very, very real. It was difficult to take in. I wasn’t really paying attention well and didn’t notice Junior head over to where the sliding door was and look through the blinds. He stood there staring for a minute I guess. I noticed when he turned and started balling as he ran to his mom and cried into her side—his arms wrapped around her waist. So much for avoiding trauma.
I didn’t know what to do about my son crying. We were all just staring at him while my wife tried to calm him down. I decided to keep pushing forward. “Hey we have a lot of stuff to load. We need to get all the ammo, guns and food we can carry. Come on, we are wasting time, let’s move.”
Long ago five heroes took up a quest
To defend their homeland from invaders
Nobel and just the heroes gave us hope
For honor and clan Battlefate they fought
Thoradin, priest of Moradin, healer
Freyr, swordmage, defender of the weak
Ferdinand the Bull, fighting with his fists
Deisa smashes with ax and hammer both
Guter dark and ugly, mask hides his face
Together they were a group of heroes
Goblins and giants invaded the land
Slaughtering dwarves and spreading wickedness
An affront to everything the dwarves love
They were a scourge to the dwarf homeland
Invaded the mighty Battlefate Hall
And conquered the great dwarven citadel
Enslaving and murdering the proud dwarves
They spread their plague beyond the mountain halls
Assaulted dwarven city Konigsberg
Encircling and besieging the dwarf home
The dwarves tried to find allies to help them
A call to arms went out from Konigsberg
A plea for someone to help in their need
Many seemed willing to help them resist
But few arrived to help defend the wall
More seemed to want to profit from crisis
Take advantage of a chaotic time
Profiting from the dwarven suffering
Even attacking them in their crisis
Clearly the dwarves had few friends in the world
The heroes were selected for a quest
To travel across the mountains so high
To a land long forgotten by the dwarves
In hopes that they could find their lost cousins
Divided after an epic battle
With an evil giant and his minions
Once they were one mighty clan, Gloryfate
Divided now by a mighty mountain
Years of separation they’ve forgotten
Reuniting may be their only hope
The heroes left the city to find them
But first had to travel through a forest
Attacked by trolls, serpents and beasts unkind
Even werewolves picked up their scent and stalked
Attacked the group with blood lust in their heart
Growling and snarling, clawing and biting
The heroes fought them off, bloodied, bitten
Tending to their wounds as they forged ahead
Finding their way through the dark reaching trees
They at last caught sight of the mountain range
The mountain stood dark and foreboding
High and impassible, clouds hid the top
Through the heavy rock they had to travel
Hoards of orcs stood between them and their goal
The heroes tried to find a way around
But the tunnel through the mountain was blocked
Orcs inhabited the path desired
Blood would have to be spilled to gain access
The dwarf heroes were not at all afraid
And charged into the fray with weapons raised.
Stealthy Guter tried to distract the orcs
But managed to draw more into the fight
Thoradin made a run for the cave mouth
Instead thudded to the ground surrounded
The rest rushed down the mountain into war
Into swarms of orcs ugly and evil
Equipped with huge axes sharp and deadly
Raining arrows with deadly precision
Piercing the heroes through armor and shield
Threatening to end their lives and the quest
The heroes slashed and fired at the orcs
With prayers to Moradin lending support
Guter’s bolts pierced the beasts foul flesh
Ferdinand’s fists punished them for their rage
Freyr’s sword flashed and defended his friends
Diesa’s mighty weapons sent orcs to hell
Thoradin’s blessed hammer held high in faith
Together they stood strong against the hoard
Together they fought bravely, skillfully
Together they fell against orcish vile
Only Guter remained and looked to flee
The heroes dying, carried off by orcs
All appeared lost, the quest, the dwarves, the war
When suddenly Ferdinand woke from death
Without hesitation he battled on
And Moradin’s blessing flowed out freely
Both Thoradin and Freyr breathed again
With new vigor they again battled on
Resolved to prevail against all odds
They did not quit until all orcs did fall
Back from the brink of death the heroes lived
They praised Moradin for sustaining them
Orc bodies laid wasted across the land
Sadly Diesa too would not rise again
Her body was burried with last rites read
Remaining heroes could not mourn her long
Instead fought and killed the evil orc lord
And into the deep mountains they traveled
To find a land long lost and forgotten
For glory and honor, for Battlefate
The heroes were feeling good and moving on with their adventure through the mountains in an effort to reach lost kin on the other side. They became somewhat transfixed however on “cleansing” the caves in which they roamed and this may indeed cause their undoing. With nearly half of the mountain tunnels clean and blessed in the name of mighty Moradin the adventurers looked to complete the cleansing and at last reach daylight.
Traveling into yet another troll tunnel they sought to dispatch the foul creatures. While doing so however they began to receive some harassment from drow warriors. Now the drow are not to be trifled with. They are evil creatures that know nothing of loyalty or mercy. They are murderous and violent. Few come into contact with them and survive. Why the heroes have found them in the mountain, they are not sure. Like the confident group that they are however they immediately engaged the drow. Taking damage yet pushing though the pain they chose to follow the drow when they pulled back. This of course revealed more of them and after tripping a rather deadly trap they pushed into the drow territory. The battle was bloody and brutal. The heroes were at last compelled to retreat away from the dark elves after enduring many critical blows.
Even retreat seemed unlikely when the dark elves pursued the group but bravely Ferdinand the Bull, the Minotaur monk who wanted little more than to be free from pursuit of slavers and to meditate the day away, stood in the way in order to afford his allies enough time to escape. Ferdinand fell to the wave of dark elf aggression as his friends fled to find sanctuary and rest.
The heroes hurried to a more secure corner of the caverns in order to rest. They narrowly escaped the wrath of the drow yet were only more determined to overcome their wickedness and also to retrieve their fallen mate and with Moradin’s blessing restore his life.