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HH's Literary Repository

Hyrulian Hero

TheGuyWhoSqeezedOutAHeartPieceInTheStockPotInn
Joined
Oct 6, 2016
Location
PNW
  1. It didn't take but a minute.

    Stopping to chip a bit of discolored stone from the wall, he holds it up to his eye to study it. Odd geometric shapes catch his attention, the jagged edges of the subject showing a bit too perfect in the light. The cleavage divides golden ratio by golden ratio, pleasing to the eye and fantastical to behold. Uncommon shades caught somewhere between a grey-green and a midnight blue and cool to the touch, cooler than expected. And as his vision slips from edge to edge, patterns emerge. Like hieroglyphs in some ancient barbarian crypt. Forms too regular to be natural and too unnatural to be man-made.

    Madness, they had called it, to believe that man could live in such a place. He, against all convention, had taken the writings as truth and led the crusade deep into the earth. Armed with but his fervor, what some had called fanatical zeal, he pushed downward and downward. And his surety is being rewarded. It's not so much that the people of the caverns had etched the walls surrounding him with minuscule workings of tools or implements, in fact, his companions largely fail to acknowledge the disposition of the place as that of artifice. No, it's as if the ancient dwellers of this chamber deep below the earth had influenced their domain by virtue of their presence. The rocks formed in just such a way due to the suggestion of vile practices and dark rites practiced here. Swirls in the sandy ground were as they were in response to the aura of rancor exuded by those who trod here. From the ceiling, even, fall drops of water that plop somehow discordant on the limestone and quartz to the beat of pagan drums and gnashing teeth. Every experience with which he is being provided proves his claims to be more than wild ravings to his peers.

    The very first day in the dark, they had passed through a narrow spot in the tunnel, wherein had once been afixed a portculis. He had been the only one to see how it had once been. The grooves in the ceiling, though not visible to the eye, had certainly been mortared over to mask the intent of its builder. Ridicule followed from his companions who posited that he was grasping at straws.

    But he knows it was there. The same of the hook they had come upon, high on the wall, where these previous denizens had hung robes, or bodies. Natural cave formation they had said. He couldn't expect them to follow his superior intellect with their closed minds.

    From down the tunnel, faint mumbling from the group and shadows cast in their torch light are growing faint. He bids them for another moment to glean what he can from this place.

    Earlier, a pair of columns had risen up above a dry, underground lake bed. Towering into the darkness, they were only just too perfect to have been the work of geologic forces. Strange angles protruded from them, angles that should have turned torchlight outward but instead cast shadows where they shouldn't. Angles that could only have existed beneath, in this place.

    Warm illumination rolls out across the stone as the man moves on, fire capturing each detail of the rock face. Basalt slides coolly by as his fingertips graze across. The light bounces too softly from a depression in a shelf he leans out to avoid. Here in the wall, a lip of rock distends forth, forming a place where one could gather an assortment of one's liking: roses, candles, other, more sinister things...a microcosm of possibilities nestled in the hollow of stone. This being where the light of his torch seems to be collecting and from which, not escape, he draws his hand down to it.

    The scientific curiosity competes with and conquers the apprehension of the unknown. "I've found something!" He cries. His distorted voice echoes him. No other answers forthcoming, he exclaims again into the dark. The light at the end of the tunnel has dimmed to nothing and the footsteps have faded.

    Resignedly, he takes up the guide line at his feet and knots the rope to signify this place. Now, resolving to return, the man continues on, this time, the way he came. Left hand grasping the life line; right hand, the torch. Left brain, ahead; right brain, ahind. Left, earth; right, earth.

    What manner of mystery perplexed him in these corridors? The forms in the bedrock they'd seen an hour earlier, sculpted by human hands or human imagination? Had the plank they unearthed the day before been carried here by a member of an ancient tribe or a seasonal flood? He shakes his head to clear the conflicting thoughts.

    The path rises steadily as the thread leads him on, over a mound that may have contained shattered earthen jars, around outcroppings showing pick marks...or was it natural wear? Surely the expedition would see that the boot tracks in the dust were at least solid evidence of sentient activity in this place. Their constant refusal to credit the proof would finally be squelched when he returned them to the stone basin, showed them the designs in the stones, brought them upon a stone concretion, too hard to be natural.

    Hooked into the edge of his perception, he can just hear an inhumanly quiet voice far ahead. His pace becomes a bit quicker. He recalls his elation earlier upon discovering painted images on a large stone. The others had written them off as lichen, red, orange, white. He stumbles a bit as his foot catches on a human skull. No, its a rock. Perhaps these beings turned remains to stone as well, surely a spectacular find! the skull seems to cry out to him as he hurries on, wheezing with the effort.

    Ahead he hears more voices, now louder and with greater emphasis. His pace quickens further and his lungs burn. He shouts and echoes scoff at him. The rope he follows tears at his hand as it slithers through, taking flecks of skin until his palm is slick and wet. His feet fly as they threaten to outrun his torch.

    "See what I've found!" He runs on, furiously pumping legs, furiously pumping heart. Another minute and two. His legs begin to cramp and moisture rims his eyes and beads on his forehead. The voices ahead are shouts and the tunnel is bright with light that illuminates nothing. Shrieks and moans ricochet from every angle, screams of terror and sadistic lechery tear through his mind. Something was down here. The thought grips his mind like some dark denizen of the underworld. Guttural groans and mad cacklings reach a crescendo. "SOMETHING IS DOWN HERE!" and his hand snags on the rope.

    It's a knot.

    A second passes. His wild eyes grow distant and unfocused for but a moment, then snap back as his mind butchers its way into the present. Cotton invades his mouth and cascades down the back of his neck, causing his hair to prick. Nostrils flair, skin blanches, extremities tingle.

    A minute passes. Cold sweat trickles down between his eyes. The rope drops, the knees go weak. He calls out again and again, the words being chewed up by the darkness and regurgitated back in distorted, unfamiliar syllables. He sinks down to the ground, breathing hard. Tremors overtake him.

    An hour passes. He makes his way down the tunnel, follows the guide line. The fiendish cord proves circuitous and he finds himself returned to the knot. Once, thrice. The torch gutters and goes out. The vile darkness settles about him. He strikes his knife against his flint, revealing a moment frozen time with each strike.

    A day passes. He dreams in the dark. Haunted, morbid dreams. Dreams of grotesque beings with hollow eyes and hearts, breathing darkness, beating drums stretched tight with flesh. He awakes in the dark. His hands search the wall, guiding him up. He feels outlines too straight and groves too intricate. Details of portent. Surly there was a clan that had made this their place worship, had performed their wicked rites here.

    Hunger grips his stomach and thirst parches his lips. Oppressive darkness robs him of sight and he stumbles with every step. There are no sounds, no breeze, no warmth. His thoughts turn continually to despair.

    A week passes. He wanders down corridors and passages he is sure have been seen only by the evil spirits who built this place. He wheezes as he walks and he hears his eye lids close and open again as he blinks. His mouth is dry as the dust he kicks up with each step. His hunger is matched in ferocity only by his rage at having been left here. His hatred burns like the sun, so very far out of reach.

    When the man calls now, there is no echo. His shouts for rescue crack out from his throat like leaves scraping across bare rock. His mind is full of vengeance, retribution for the suffering he's endured.

    A month passes. He no longer weeps. His voice sounds only in vitriolic curses hacked out between bouts of barking coughs and ragged gasps. His eyes remain closed as they have long since dried and become frothy white. Fingers and toes lose their nails and back hunches to accommodate the twisted warrens he wanders.

    A year passes. The infinite emptiness in its stomach becomes a comforting constant. The foul air and crushing silence are its closest companions. Stringy and pale hair swings from a mostly bald head and nails: hooked, black, and piercing jut from its digits now. The jaw, hanging ajar at a disturbing skew, sports ugly fangs like the stalactites and stalagmites of its subterranean domain. Above the jagged entrance to its cavern of a mouth, the once shining orbs have sealed, forever separating it from the truth of its eternal phantasm. What is left of the tunic that had hidden a man's impropriety drags along the floor of its home like intestines drug by the disemboweled. It shambles in the heart of the earth, alone.

    Shreds of humanity, left over from the routines of its previous life, find their way into the creature's manner. It screeches and howls in an unholy tongue to the gods of this place. It cuts its body with shattered stones until it fills the carved depression in sacrifice to its masters. It doesn't remember why it claws reliefs into the walls where it sleeps until its nails are bloody stumps at the ends of raw, pallid phalanges. The beast only remembers that it's always been that way. Under the soles of mankind, the monster beats its skull against the carved monoliths it worships, pounding out a rhythm to chill the spirit.

    Centuries pass.

    And then, as it happens, the pitiful demon experiences the inexplicable as it dashes itself against the rocks, punishing itself for the glory of its lords. A sensation that has been long forgotten like an extant repression from the halcyon years of youth. It sees. The parched spheres beneath layers of scar and skin flare with pain as the light squirms its way into the beast's mind and etches threats and revelation into the inside of its skull. Illumination shines from somewhere far away within the caverns. As it listens, snapping its head away from the searing radiation, it hears footsteps. And voices.

    Men come upon a stone basin spattered with blood, see freshly carved idols chiseled into solid rock. Inhuman footprints cover the ground and evil-looking words scrawled in blood cover the walls, the ceiling. Then comes the pounding. A rhythm to chill the spirit. And then chanting in demonic tongues. And then the nearing of dry footsteps.
 

Hyrulian Hero

TheGuyWhoSqeezedOutAHeartPieceInTheStockPotInn
Joined
Oct 6, 2016
Location
PNW
Remember that I welcome any and all thoughts, praise, criticism, correction, editing, conversation, angry faces, and fan fiction based of my work. Please don't hesitate to interpret anything I have on here, I would love that.
 

Hyrulian Hero

TheGuyWhoSqeezedOutAHeartPieceInTheStockPotInn
Joined
Oct 6, 2016
Location
PNW
The rust stings my eyes.

Surely the salt is a menace.

Don't patronize me! This predicament is your design!

I did not wish this...

That's exactly what you did.

Would that this had not been my wish.

Insincerity. You envied them their youth, their vitality. You were jealous of the squalor into which you plunged your kingdom, and humiliated by it. You could not allow another to purge your domain so you, "Went down with the ship", as it were. *chuckles* Vanity. Pray, has your unparalleled selflessness eased your spirit?

Puns, blackguard? A low stoop for a king, 'fore a king.

You're a shipwreck!

And you, a stone. And now both keep company with the fish and eels. My failings are my own, and you are the worm, calling the lion low. You coveted the fortune of your neighbor and would have robbed the new generation of opportunity! Your craven carcass rotted in a festering citadel as you stole the light from the eyes of the remaining good souls of the world! Curb your accusations, spineless wretch...

Ha ha ha...your shame has weakened you, brought you to your knees, shattered your defenses. You point condemnation in every direction and claim pure intent. You hide behind a straw wall, thinking yourself above question. But your greed robbed her of her heritage, your envy stole her innocence. You are, yourself the theif who snuffed the light.

Circumstance found you and your people plagued by famine and drought. And when at last, only you remained, you were left holding the weight of your regret and burden of your impotence. You misplaced your anguish at your ineptitude and pined for those things which had passed.

...blast this corroded spike and its maker and the wind that brought you blessing! It itches and burns, it writhes through my head and burns through my mind! A thousand ancient curses on you!!!

Your quarrel is as dated as your oaths, fiend.

A quarrel that began in the scorching desert at your cold shoulder. As in life, you shirk responsibility and wield blame as this blade! You witnessed the plight of my kin yet held your nose to the sky. May the wind of guilt score your conscience and topple your self-righteous ego!

And now the heart of the matter, your refusal to accept your gross negligence and failure to lead your pack of cut-throats in a manner befitting the title, "King of Thieves". Once again, you play the martyr, twisting history to your whim and casting aspersions with prejudice. Your world's fate can be credited to none other than yourself.

Our world's fate came about at your hands, Daphnes! Your heart is a hard as...as mine is now!...GAH! Curse the fire of this sacred blade! When finally it dissolves in the salt of this foul sea, I will again rise and you, you will remain restless in the pit of the world forever!

That pain is but a shadow of my agony at my failure to lead Hyrule to prosperity! Blaze with pain forever, swine! May the name Ganondorf be ever reviled! May the tongues of Hyrulians spit the syllables with contempt! May your memory be an indelible strain upon the memories of every generation!

And you, "Deposed King of Hyrule", may your name be forgotten to the ages, may your line end in disgrace and obscurity! May Hyrule languish in paucity and fail utterly as its scattered tribes debase themselves to ruin! Desolation overtake even the echo of your title!

Long live the King of Nothing!
Like most of my writing these days, this one turned out to be a bit esoteric. Unlike most of my writing from the old days, I didn't intend for it to be. I put this bit out for a writing competition here on ZD-i so I was intentionally trying to make it more accessible than some of the things I write. I used two characters who are well-known to the Zelda fanbase and had them interact in a conversational way in an attempt to make it an easy read. I planned for it to be easy to follow, to flow as conversation should, and to be straight forward with little actual substance, as that makes for easier reading and therefore, more enjoyment on the part of the reader.

That style, of course, doesn't fit my literary paradigm. I prefer to struggle line by line to pick out subliminal themes and root out hidden concepts and entendre. As I wrote, I decided that the identities of both characters should be obscured but slowly revealed as the conversation progressed. I mean, I've got to have my cake and eat it as well, right? So that, of course, makes it hard to follow if I'm intending it for an audience who will give it, at best, a single read if not simply skimming through it. Knowing this, I wanted to drop bright neon keywords into the conversation to catch the eye of the casual reader but alas, keywords have a habit of revealing too much in a cryptic piece.

So I come to the end and I say, "This is why I hate writing dialogue, it's a constant stream of 'he said this' and 'she said that'. What can I do to avoid this obvious pitfall?" So I ripped all pretense of quotation away from the intercourse and colored each speaker's voice independently. Honestly, I also figured the color would make up for the slog of comprehension the reader was undertaking as well by removing repetitive phrasing and breaking up the work for the eye.

All in all, I was actually quite pleased with the way it turned out, even if it is a departure from my favored style of writing. I've put together a little breakdown of some key points.

____________

The rust stings my eyes. (Ganondorf: the Master Sword is rusting and the rust is hurting Ganondorf's eyes as it corrodes.)

Surely the salt is a menace. (Daphnes: hinting that they are under the ocean. This shows us a callous and unrefined side of Daphnes.)

Don't patronize me! This predicament is your design! (Ganondorf: An angry response to Daphnes childish taunt. The predicament referred to is the fact that Hyrule is drowned and both kings are dead.)

I did not wish this... (Daphnes: An honest response of regret at having wished for Hyrule to be flooded.)

That's exactly what you did. (Ganondorf: A hint that the other speaker is Daphnes as he literally WISHED on the triforce for Hyrule to be flooded.)

Would that this had not been my wish. (Daphnes: He believes the results of this wish were necessary though not ideal.)

Insincerity. You envied them their youth, their vitality. You were jealous of the squalor into which you plunged your kingdom, and humiliated by it. You could not allow another to purge your domain so you, "Went down with the ship", as it were. *chuckles* Vanity. Pray, has your unparalleled selflessness eased your spirit? (Ganondorf: He doesn't buy that Daphnes is truly torn about sinking Hyrule. He believes Daphnes was jealous of the opportunity that Link and Zelda had before them and didn't want them to have the chance to restore Hyrule where he had failed. He then jabs at Daphnes by accusing him of running away by "going down with the ship", an obvious allusion to Daphnes assumed form on the Great Sea, the King of Red Lions. He wraps up with a sarcastic inquiry about how Daphnes feels about turning tail.)

Puns, blackguard? A low stoop for a king, 'fore a king. (Daphnes: Daphnes takes exception to being taunted about his altered form and calls Ganondorf out on it, telling him that it's beneath a king to slander another king using puns.)

You're a shipwreck! (Ganondorf: Reacting violently to the pithy retort, Ganondorf's cool slips and he flat-out name-calls the king of Hyrule.)

And you, a stone. And now both keep company with the fish and eels. My failings are my own, and you are the worm, calling the lion low. You coveted the fortune of your neighbor and would have robbed the new generation of opportunity! Your craven carcass rotted in a festering citadel as you stole the light from the eyes of the remaining good souls of the world! Curb your accusations, spineless wretch... (Daphnes: Daphnes takes Ganondorf's comment in stride and plays the "turnabout is fair play" card by name-calling Ganondorf a rock, which he now is. He then alludes to them being at the bottom of the sea with fish and eels. He backhands Ganondorf with another name, 'worm', and elevates himself by calling himself a lion, another reference to his boat form. He defends his sinking of Hyrule by reiterating that Ganondorf would have killed Zelda and Link and had been kidnapping little girls and bringing them to his fortress. Twice, here, he impugnes Ganondorf's courage, first by calling him craven, then spineless, both contrasting him with Link's courage.)

Ha ha ha...your shame has weakened you, brought you to your knees, shattered your defenses. You point condemnation in every direction and claim pure intent. You hide behind a straw wall, thinking yourself above question. But your greed robbed her of her heritage, your envy stole her innocence. You are, yourself the theif who snuffed the light. (Ganondorf: Coming back strong, Ganondorf tells Daphnes that he's fooling himself by believing that Ganondorf is the one to blame. He probes deep by implying that Daphnes had not only failed as a king but as a father due to his selfishness. And, of course, the obvious misspelling of the word "thief" which was a bit of a Freudian slip on my part.)

Circumstance found you and your people plagued by famine and drought. And when at last, only you remained, you were left holding the weight of your regret and burden of your impotence. You misplaced your anguish at your ineptitude and pined for those things which had passed. (Taking the high road, Daphnes ignores the direct attack and focuses on the implication that he is to blame for the current status of Hyrule. He asserts that Ganondorf is impotent, inept, and unable to live in the present, captivated by the past.)

...blast this corroded spike and its maker and the wind that brought you blessing! It itches and burns, it writhes through my head and burns through my mind! A thousand ancient curses on you!!! (Ganondorf: Here, Ganondorf is distracted by the Master Sword in his face. He outright curses Daphnes as well as the Master Sword, Hylia, and the wind itself.)

Your quarrel is as dated as your oaths, fiend. (Daphnes: He takes the opportunity to point out that Ganondorf is complaining about things which he had been battling and failing against since time immemorial. He also engages in some harsh name-calling, calling to mind the demon-king as a hint to the reader at who is talking.)

A quarrel that began in the scorching desert at your cold shoulder. As in life, you shirk responsibility and wield blame as this blade! You witnessed the plight of my kin yet held your nose to the sky. May the wind of guilt score your conscience and topple your self-righteous ego! (Ganondorf: Now he finally admits to his quarrel and defends it by blaming Daphnes directly for the downfall of the Gerudo. He again refers to the wind and the Master Sword, this time actually calling it a blade, another escalation toward revealing who the two characters are.)

And now the heart of the matter, your refusal to accept your gross negligence and failure to lead your pack of cut-throats in a manner befitting the title, "King of Thieves". Once again, you play the martyr, twisting history to your whim and casting aspersions with prejudice. Your world's fate can be credited to none other than yourself. (Daphnes: Seeing Ganondorf's accusation for what it is, though ignoring any truth in it, Daphnes berates Ganondorf for avoiding responsibility and calls him the 'King of Thieves', giving away to many readers who the other speaker is. He breaks down that Ganondorf is playing innocent and wallowing in self-pity when he should be taking responsibility as leader of the Gerudo.)

Our world's fate came about at your hands, Daphnes! Your heart is a hard as...as mine is now!...GAH! Curse the fire of this sacred blade! When finally it dissolves in the salt of this foul sea, I will again rise and you, you will remain restless in the pit of the world forever! (Ganondorf: The other speaker is positively identified now, with Ganondorf's final assertion that Daphnes is to blame for the fall of the Gerudo due to his refusal to help the tribe when he saw them in danger. The pain of the Master Sword distracts him once again and he curses the Master Sword again. He warns that when the blade finally rusts away in the salt water, he will again be free to avenge his people but Daphnes will remain a restless ghost, unable to do anything to stop him on the bottom of the ocean.

That pain is but a shadow of my agony at my failure to lead Hyrule to prosperity! Blaze with pain forever, swine! May the name Ganondorf be ever reviled! May the tongues of Hyrulians spit the syllables with contempt! May your memory be an indelible strain upon the memories of every generation! (Daphnes: This is Daphnes' coup de maiter, in which he finally certainly reveals the name of his adversary. First, he compares the pain in Ganondorf's head to a fraction of the guilt he feels at having failed his people. Then he crafts a compound curse which he lavishes heavily on Ganondorf. Each of his curses is an oath that Ganondorf will ever be remembered as a leader, Ganondorf's worst fear.)

And you, "Deposed King of Hyrule", may your name be forgotten to the ages, may your line end in disgrace and obscurity! May Hyrule languish in paucity and fail utterly as its scattered tribes debase themselves to ruin! Desolation overtake even the echo of your title! (Ganondorf: Ganondorf's penultimate verse. He heaps a compound curse upon Daphnes, each of his oaths being a promise that Daphnes memory is so tarnished that it will die out, Daphnes' worst fear. His hope is that Daphnes will forever be forced to go on as a ghost but without the respect or fealty of his people.)

Long live the King of Nothing! (Ganondorf and Daphnes: Finally, though both wish for the opposite fate for the other, they both raise their voices and lob a final insult at each other. The homogenity of their curse contrasting their differences and uniting their similarities as each calls the other the king of nothing. This is evinced by the red and blue colored voices coming together as a violet voice.)
 

Hyrulian Hero

TheGuyWhoSqeezedOutAHeartPieceInTheStockPotInn
Joined
Oct 6, 2016
Location
PNW
I remember vividly the smell of the fetid water. The oily texture, the taste of decay…a boy’s first taste of the world, even before his mother’s milk. I plunged from a world of darkness into a world darker still. My first cries drowned in that tub of viscous slime, as much water as that woman cared to muster for the birth of her only son. Of the only son.

This realm I entered in cool, dark filth; a small pity the woman had taken on me. It was to be the only pity taken on me by her or any other. While the others slept on mats and blankets, my body was covered in sand to hold me in place. The gritty amarillo particles drifted into my nostrils and caked my eyes when I grew exhausted enough to sleep. I don't like sand. It's course and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Each morning was waking in a pile of coals, each evening, a bone-chilling tundra.

This desolation found me learning to crawl. The woman withheld comfort when the cactus' barbs found my infant flesh, showing no sympathy. The sand burned my knees and delicate hands as blisters raised and the skin thickened beneath them. The edible and unpalatable were discovered between bouts of retching, swelling, andpsychedelic trips, sans parental guidance. Before my first steps, my well of tears was spent, leaving but desiccate cisterns filled with skeletal briers growing from the rotting remains of green shoots.

When my eyes had bled their last, I believe that to be the time that the woman deemed me weened as I recall her presence no later than this. An ancient pair overtook the tasks involving my rearing beyond this time. A pair of beings so ancient as to seem mystical to my yet blue eyes, weaving songs of incantation over me and preforming singular rituals on me. Never a kind word, a gentle touch, a caring glance. But never did they fail in teaching and discipline.

I recall the heft of the first scimitar I gripped. Not an implement of sport or game, but a tool of brutality, its leather haft crusted with the crimson spirit of its previous victim. Unimportant was my age by this crucial moment, though I could count still my years with the fingers of a single hand. Where one might have expected anticipation or even excitement, a sense of solemnity pervaded the court. The conscious spectator might have picked up on a hint of ceremony, even sacrifice. As the curved blade danced about, clashing with the other's steel, the women looked on with austere expressions of...disinterest?

Bright sparks lit her soft cheeks and plump lips, her golden skin and russet braids. Her countenance played host to little expression, a lapse in poise would be frowned upon, likely with a cat of nine tails. Graceful was every movement, dangerous and understated. Her svelte form slid like desert shadows over ridges of sand. At last, she allowed her eyes a single candid moment of stark, scintillating emotion. A precious drop of briny moisture rolled from an eye, across the top of her lip to the corner of her mouth where it mingled with her blood as I withdrew the cruel razor from her middle to no discernible approval either from the two crones who raised me or the congregation in general.

On the day a proven adult lay eviscerated at my feet, my hands and feet were shackled to the stone pedestal before the colossus idol and my flesh was drawn open with primitive stone knives. The powdered thorns of our native plants were rubbed into the open wounds, acquainting me with a fresh definition of pain. As the sand scored away the scabrous blood, furious scars rose in their place, tracing across my body with the dark plant matter. Ancient patterns ran over my juvenile muscles and rippled over the veins of my arms. Pride inflated my ego, the closest the tribe would ever come to an act of respect.

When ruddy hair began to appear in certain, predesignated areas of my body, my witch-mothers took me up to the top of the highest mountain, the proven adults of the whole tribe in step behind. In one accord, they spread their arms toward the whole earth, a grand gesture revealing a world for which I only now, at this late day, have words. Verdant plains of grass and flowers, sylvan glades perfumed with sweet pollen and earthy humus, vast spans of cool, coruscating water. Deep within my bosom swelled then a recess, the match of which was only the width and breadth of that heaven beyond. This land which the myths praised, they vowed, was to be my domain.

In that moment, a young lifetime of stifled imagination, squandered potential, and buried love was stripped of its callous scales and a single tongue of flame was ignited within, as if seen from a distance. The stone encasing my undeveloped heart cracked, and a ray of light the color of that land's glory shone upon it. Golden radiance flooded through my life, innocence, peace...hope. For a moment.

The subsequent event divorced a boy entirely from the first and only hope with which he'd ever been provided. Though so very many years have passed, the goddess has yet to expunge the memory from my grotesque and fractured soul. Would that I could take in hand a firebrand forged in the fire of my anguish and burn the obscenity from my mind. It wasn't the bloodletting, the ritual flogging, the clothes stripped from my body. It wasn't the blinding pain that coursed through my body as they implanted the gem of the royal diadem in the front of my skull that night atop the mount.

Sweat beaded on my naked form and slid down the angles and curves of my body, reflecting firelight in the frigid night air. My body heaved spasmodically beneath the weight. I thought in the first hours that I might even find the tears of my youth, but there were none to be found. As the night wore on, each woman came to me and took up the chain that my hag-mothers had latched to the diadem buried in my bloody skull, and mastered me. Each woman in turn took my sex like a robber, stole the innocence of my newly pubescent youth, and soiled it. The crown of my future dynasty that had so recently begraced my bloody brow was the bit by which the steed of my masculinity was broken again and again.

And last to steal my seed, the mothers who had raised me, the two witches in their vile manner. They took me at once, driven by avarice, by envy for their charge. Greedily, madly, they broke my body and my will with zealous fervor. The fetid stink of their breath still curls through my nostrils, my fingers still feel the texture of their oily flesh, my tongue is still thick with the taste of decay...a young man's first taste of manhood, even before his first love.

As the exhausted matriarchs fell prone in rapacious ecstasy, the bloody sun, aloof and unsympathetic, crested the rim of the world, throwing the castle of that land's monarchy into sharp silhouette. In my mind's eye, I saw the inhabitants of that land below dancing in the streets, raising their families, sleeping in warm beds, laughing, loving. A twinge of pain churned in my heart, like a scimitar in a girl's stomach, and for the last time, a tear rolled from an eye, across the top of my lip to the corner of my mouth where it mingled with my scowl. I hated those people. I hated my mothers, I hated the sand, I hated my crown, I hated being the only man, I hated that land below, and I hated their mythical golden power. That land would bow before the name Dragmire.
 

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