Archive for the ‘lord of the rings’ Category

“You had some real guts out there kid. Everyone else who messed with vengeance met a bloody death.”
Those words were my wakeup call, and I heard them coming from the same unknown voice that had put me to sleep. But now it wasn’t just a voice. It was a man, standing in front of me.
“Greetings, newcomer. I am the Alpha, secret revealer of Happiness, and, her home and creation, the Jungle.”
I sat up straight, making a drowsy groan in doing so, and then beheld the man’s features. He seemed to shimmer as sunlight burst through the still unmoving cascade of water. What struck me the most was that he looked very familiar to me. He was dressed in brown, tribal looking shorts. Adorning his skinny body were many markings of a language I did not know and trinkets of gold and bones pierced into his flesh. He had long, black hair, big green eyes, big ears, and a smear of what seemed like black war paint on the flesh around his eyes. The rest of his skin was pale white. He looked like he had lived wild and free, like an animal, all his life. At the same time, there was a hard look of weariness upon his face. As I looked closer, I could see at least a hundred small scars cut into his face as if by a razor. So much pain, so much anguish, so many things lost. These were the things I felt when looking at him. I also felt a strong connection with him. I knew he could give me answers, and he seemed a lot more intelligent than Steer or the fairies, so I immediately began trusting him. It felt like I was looking at an old friend.
I noticed that Steer was eating a large quantity of hay. “Good morning, Youngling,” he said to me between chews. “Good morning Alpha!”
“Good morning Steer,” Alpha said. “I am very proud of you for getting the boy this far. If you wish to, you can accompany him for a while longer, though at some point you will have to stop, for his destiny is that he must do this on his own. Now, man, I trust you are wondering why you are here, who I am, who you are, and why the water doesn’t move unless life touches it. Which question shall I address first?”
It was very strange that this man knew exactly which questions I was thinking of at that moment. I had a sick, uneasy feeling that he could enter my mind as he wished. This thought made me feel vulnerable and I did not like it one little bit. But for some reason, I really wanted to know why the water was the way it was. “Why isn’t the water normal?” I asked.
“Normal?” he replied. “What’s normal? Why do you think you have pre-assumptions about how things should be? I’ll tell you why. It’s because you’ve gone mad. There is no reason to make assumptions on how a thing should be. The important thing is how a thing is. But yes, I know it must be confusing. You seemed to have just been created. You have no idea why you have these ‘memories‘, if it is fit to call them that. Perhaps you had experienced a vision, perhaps even a vision that lasted a lifetime, before you became conscious in our world. I don’t know if you have had a past, you or any of your predecessors….well, actually, it is more fit to say that I do not know what your past consisted of. You, at least, are a warrior with a true past, as it says in the prophecy. I don’t know about the other ones. Hundreds have appeared, all attempting to complete the destiny that belongs to you alone. Still, not much is known for certain. But I can tell you one thing. There is no such thing as normal. Things change, everything. Nothing is exempt. It may take a while, say, thousands of millennia, but it all eventually changes. Nothing stays the same. Nothing. No “normality”. And to explain our water a little better, I’ll have you know that water is the basis for all life to exist. You are pretty much made out of it. So, naturally, the only thing that can go into the water is life itself, just as water went into life at the creation. And why would it flow or evaporate? It is eternal, always still and always good. Objects with no life, with no water, cannot disturb it. Oh, goodness! What a wonderful morning! I can hear the mountains whispering far off into the distance.”
I was in deep thought about what he had just said to me. No such thing as normal? A world that constantly evolved, never to be trusted? What was he talking about? What did these things mean? And who were my so called predecessors that he mentioned? The water dilemma made perfect sense though. It seemed as though all life was connected in this world, sort of like the group of grotesque but graceful fairies with one directing mind. Everything, in a sense, moved and breathed in unison. What surprised me is that this was not much different than my preconceived notions of what normality was. I somehow knew that water connected all life. All drank it, all were made from it, and some even breathed it. Still, I would have never guessed that water in this world would repel nonliving things.
Did I have a past? A different life in a different world perhaps, memory warped completely by an unnatural transfer from world to world? Or was I simply just created? The latter is how it seemed; but then why did I have preconceived notions of how things should be? And what was this man saying about a prophecy? It was all so difficult to grasp, but unlike with Steer, I had virtually no issues of distrust with this man. He spoke with eloquence, yet at the same time I felt a tone of simplicity in his voice. Not stupid simplicity, but pure simplicity. Untouched. Undefiled. For some reason, I felt like he was perfect. He just had something about him, something familiar, as if a deep, unknown longing of mine had been met by his mere presence.
I decided to ask him about something he had said. “You mentioned creation. Was there such a thing? Or has everything somehow always existed?”
He smiled. “Yes. And no. As I have said, we are all connected, all bound together, by water. Has water had a beginning? You could say so, I suppose; that certain chemical reactions occurred and a composition for water was put together. But, what of the atoms that the chemicals themselves are composed of? And what of still smaller objects of matter that make up the atoms? And could there even have been things put together that weren’t even matter that created matter?”
Once again, I was dumbfounded at how I knew what “matter” and “atoms” were. He continued.
“In a sense, everything has a beginning. But in another sense, everything has existed and will exist forever. I will tell you the tale of what you may call the beginning of this world. And it will answer all of your questions as well. You should be very glad that you found me, because if you hadn’t, you would never know the answers. I am the only creature permitted to tell you the things of your journey and the origin of this world. And I am one of only three creatures who have actually experienced it
Too long ago to even be measured, all that existed was energy. This energy created matter, things such as rocks and soil and mountains, things that didn’t live. No animals, no plants…simply a desolate earth. But the energy decided to do something new, something that was precious, something beautiful beyond all words. Life. But not just any form of life. It created the most important entity that will ever exist. Her name is Happiness. You saw her in your dream. She created all other forms of life, for them to enjoy her, simply out of her conscience. But that’s not all that erupted from her pretty little head. You see, once the energy was breathed into her body, it changed. It had never changed before, and this moment I am speaking of is what you may call ‘the beginning‘. It split itself in half. No one, not even Happiness herself knows why or how. It was as if once there was a mind other than the Energy’s in existence, the Energy could be controlled and shaped as if the creation was creating the creator.
The halves of the Energy were good and evil. Right and wrong. Left or right. Pairs of opposites. Whatever you choose to call it. So, at once, the energy entered a civil war. This all came from the very first thought of the creature Happiness, the second she was conscious. And since they came from her, they were each at a war to eliminate the other for complete ownership of their beautiful maiden creator. One’s desire was to help her, to be consumed by her. The other’s was to consume, control, and use her. To fight this war for the soul of the very first life form, they needed to become life themselves. The evil one possessed a body and called itself Omega. The reason for its name is that it represents death, which could be looked at as the end of all things. His desire is to conquer and enslave all life. He bewitched thousands of simple souls who he had promised to give good things. That is the monster’s greatest strength, that he can disguise himself as good. The real good force possessed the body of the creature standing right in front of you. I am Alpha incarnate, protector of the beginning, destroyer of the end. But the life force is greater than I…it knows all, and will someday give all the knowledge it has to me. So for now, though my knowledge is extensive, it is incomplete. This whole world is. But not for long. You are the chosen one.”

It was very difficult to make out in my mind exactly what he was talking about. And I once again had that queer feeling that I had known bits and pieces of what he had said my whole life…whatever sort of life it was before I came to call this jungle “reality”.
A word, out of nowhere, entered my mind which I believed for some reason to be the definition of his philosophy.
Dualism.
It seemed to me that he was saying there were two independent and opposite powers called Alpha and Omega (or “good and evil”) who were at an eternal war with one another, each being equal in power and ability (although I had a notion that evil currently had the upper hand). I had an objection, so after a few moments of pondering and of watching Steer make a funny looking sort of cow-smile, I returned conversation.
“I disagree.” To this, Alpha smiled, kindly, but also in a challenging sort of way. “I don’t think,” I began, “That good and evil can be equal and independent. For some reason, God only knows why,“ – Alpha bowed his head at the word ‘God‘, but I could tell he was still listening – “I feel like evil is dependent upon good and not eternal.”
“I admire your noble heart and words,” began Alpha in response, “For it is your heart, your very soul that is telling you that this cannot be so, that evil is something temporal that should not have existed. But let us discuss for a moment, ‘existence’. Is it not true that good and evil can only exist once they are perceived by a consciousness other than pure energy, or ‘God’? It is in the very heart of the creation of consciousness that there are two very real, very different paths. Something has to be conscious or rational, to understand evil. Something other than God has to first exist in order to go the completely opposite direction of God. If you like, think of evil as a piece of fruit that began as voluptuous and juicy, but fell off the tree and became rotten and selfish. Or, my personal favorite example, a heavenly being that rebelled and tried to overthrow its creator. Or you could just call evil a nasty damned parasite. As I said before, there are many ways of describing the only real Fact. Please bear with me. For now, your words will be few and mine many. Do you have any questions before I continue?”
“No,” I said without a moment’s consideration. I needed to know about this woman ‘Happiness’. “I want to know everything you know. Then I may ask questions.”
“Very well then,” he continued. “There are many more ways of explaining all of this, but put them all on hold in your mind. A description is not a point. The single point, the single eternal fact if hope prevails, is love and love alone. The creature Happiness…she loves all creations and finds beauty in them even after her conscious has wrecked them and they gain the ability to turn on her. And believe me you; they have done so on innumerable occasions. I cannot even begin to tell you the tortures they put her through…all for their own sick pleasure. They rebelled against her beauty by becoming ugly; she rebelled against their ugliness by shining even brighter. They have not been successful in corrupting her…so they locked her up. She is guarded by the evil beasts and men of this fallen forest, and most fiercely by the Minotaur in her labyrinth. Evil has no personality…all its servants are mindless pawns, once they choose that path. But the Minotaur…it almost has a personality, but only because it is the most evil and corrupted creature of them all. Long ago, it stole someone else’s personality. That’s all evil can do…steal, kill, and destroy. But it cannot create. Good things can, however. And that’s where you come in.
As the ancient prophecy foretells, the savior is the one who lacks selfish pride enough for the helmet to connect to the suit. For the rest of your journey, you will face many tests against your own selfishness. But do remember this: in the Law, rebellion as betrayal will always possess a venomous sting of death. I’m sorry if I am speaking too much. All these words will mean nothing And everything at the same time when you are reduced to wobbly knees and a loss for speech when you at last gaze upon her beautifully formed face, sculpted with the very energy and essence of God.”
I opened my mouth to speak, to inquire further, but he wasn’t finished.
“Only if one’s helmet connects can they begin their quest to free her by love. This is all about love. No one has ever been able to wear the suit you are encased in and still focus on the outside world more than its own prideful mind. You are carrying quite a heavy burden of selfishness, passed down through the suit by your predecessors. But you alone out of the many others before you have a shred of innocence in your heart. These times are rough, in every single conceivable world. The disease itself is so poisonous that it has the capability to turn from even the most beautiful creation of them all. And it has proven itself capable. It is the joy of all who possess good, pure hearts to aid the hero with love. We love the Lady too…but it is for you that she was made. I don’t know why The Creator has allowed so many failed attempts to save her. Why didn’t he send you in the first place? Is it his cruel punishment to her for creating Omega? We can only guess…and some just wither away in doubt. But we must not blame him or her for the way things happen as they do. The only way to persevere is to believe that he has a greater purpose behind the tortures. A seed, after all, must essentially die to become a tree. And that is what your shell represents…the shell of a seed.”
His words surprisingly didn’t inject fear of death into my heart. All I could think of now was the hair of gold, lips of crimson, eyes of ocean, skin of silk that I could only scarcely perceive from my blurred dream. And this filled me with anger, because I was already love struck. I needed to continue this journey to gaze upon her beautiful form in full. I needed to see her…she seemed even more beautiful with every passing second of thought accompanying her. But then I felt a dreadful stab of guilt. Alpha said I was the One, her one. But I had begun the beginning of my quest with moments of fear, cursing, pride, and even revenge, which so far seemed to be the worst demon of them all.
How could Alpha be right? If I was doing such a horribly pathetic job of focusing on her rather than myself (a fact that bewildered me, for she is a thing, no, the thing, the single clear manifestation of beauty, kindness, faithfulness, innocence, gentleness, creativity, and love), then how evil and barbarically selfish the men before me must have been! I took some comfort from this, that this burden of selfishness I carried was passed on to me by those who came before me, and also from the fact that, at the start of my journey, I didn’t know what my purpose was. I didn’t even know about her. But I was still guilty.
Oh the pain! Oh the pain of beauty! Alpha and Steer’s faces grew somber as they watched me fall to my knees. I was feeling what must only be a small proton of her agony. And that proton alone was unbearable.
“In my dream,” I began mumbling with a heavy heart, “She was the true physical embodiment of pure ecstasy. How can she experience so much pain?” At this point I was sobbing uncontrollably. “And…how is she so beautiful?”
“To your first question,” replied Alpha, tears flowing freely down his cheeks, “My answer is: Fix it. That’s all you have time for. Thinking, pondering, analyzing, feeling sorry for yourself…these will get you nowhere.”
He stopped speaking and it seemed that the earth herself did as well, as well as the wind, birds, beetles, and bumblebees. He and Steer faded from my sight for but a second, and I relished what replaced them…a momentary glimpse of the emerald green eyes of happiness herself. Then it all went black, but I could hear Alpha speaking again.
“To the second question…taste and you will see. Think of those eyes at all times. There is a literal ocean within them known as love. Fight for it at all costs. Don’t disappoint her, for I can see now that her eyes are becoming blue,” – and there the beauties appeared to me again, this time crystal blue indeed. “That is her sadness. It is beautiful, but at the same time, evil, undeserved madness. She is on the complete verge of abandoning hope. Make her eyes green again.”
When the last word left his lips, I rose to my feet, head and sword held high. I could do this. I would do this, willingly…for her. Beaming grins appeared on the faces of my newfound companions.
“Now,” I said, “What’s next?”
Alpha looked at Steer, then back to me, and answered with only a single word.
“Ceremony.”
Then he began walking towards me. I thought he was coming straight to me, and he had a look of determination on his face that frightened me. The closer he got, the more frightened I became. He looked angry. But he walked right past me. I looked at Steer, hoping to get some sort of explanation for Alpha from him, but he only smiled. I looked behind me, where Alpha was now at the back of the cavern, facing the shimmering wall of rock. I couldn’t see his eyes, only the back of his head, but I could tell that he was staring intently at the wall. “What could be behind that wall?” I wondered.
“I’ll tell ya,” said Alpha. The mind reading thing still gave me goose bumps. “What’s behind that wall is the place where you are to be trained. You will need it for the dangerous demons that reside in our forest. Omega Drones, Gargoyles, Sprites, Kappas, Rhinocydonts, men, and much, much more that I will explain to you better later. This will all be after the ceremony of course. Come, you and Steer. Stand on each side of me. We need to hold a steady ground in case something happens.”
“What are you doing,” I asked. “What sort of bad thing could happen to us in here? The fall protected us from Vengeance; can’t it protect us from everything else?”
“I am opening up this wall using sensitive magic. The musical incantation I must use has the potential to demolish this whole place, no matter how careful I am. This whole world is unpredictable, even for me. Now stand at my sides brothers.”
I looked at Steer and he replied with a shrug. He then trotted to the left side of Alpha. I, however, was hesitant.
“Come on,” said Steer. “We must make haste!”
“Please don’t say that again,” I spoke with a laugh. “I don’t wanna think about that memory right now.” He laughed, and Alpha beckoned to me. I swallowed my fear and stood at Alpha’s right side. Then he began to sing. It went like this:
This was never their world
They took the angel away
Evil left innocence
Lost, without a way.

With these first four lines, which were being sung in an absolutely beautiful, enchanting, but still altogether somber way, I felt shakes. No, not trembles from Alpha’s endearing falsetto poem, but violent shaking accompanied with dust and crumbled rocks and such. I spun my head around and around scanning the cave, looking for what I was afraid to see. And I did see it.
On every side of the save, enormous cracks were being torn through the rock walls. These cracks kept getting wider and wider in such a fashion that the walls were being broken into sections, rolling and grinding against one another. They were also approaching us. The place was caving in at Alpha’s song. The whole process of it seemed to be more than just a geological disturbance. The cave seemed to be doing it itself, as if it had a mind. And it must have been an evil mind of course, what with trying to crush us and all. I had an intuitive feeling that it didn’t want us to begin the journey. Alpha’s face turned pale, and it was noticeable even under his already pale white face paint. I felt that he and I were thinking the exact same thing – that this was the work of Omega.
Steer was mooing the word “NO!” over and over again. He was almost as bad as he was when we had our encounter with Vengeance. “Damn the Omega!” he hollered. “Damn them, damn them, damn them!” Steer and I seemed to share a less brave outlook than Alpha.
His wailing continued until Alpha, still singing, smacked him in the face with a backhand. Steer stopped fretting immediately and muttered a soft apology. Alpha’s gaze remained fixed upon the wall before us.
Amidst the thundering noise of the cave collapse, Steer’s cursing, and my own bottled up fear that probably showed up very well on my face under the helmet, I still heard every word of Alpha’s song. The walls were rolling closer to us by the second, and I felt that we may die, but I Still held on to every note of the song. Besides, this wasn’t the first time I felt impending death, so why not die to the sound of a peaceful melody being sung by a friend? He didn’t finish until right before we got out, which would end up being around thirty seconds after this whole ordeal began. Altogether, starting after the first four lines, this was what he sang:
She possessed only joy
The joy that you destroyed
You robbed her innocence
Used her like a toy.
But lo
And also behold
The savior from ages old
Every story
Every world
Has men like him
To pierce their swords.
Right into the flesh of bandits.
None of you will be left standin
Here he is, dressed in machine
Through it all his heart still gleams
Open and ready
To strike fear into your hearts
And embrace his love, they’ll never part.
Over the mountains and over the seas.
Only love is forever free.
Our cause will never leave.
Omega drones
Rhinocydont bones
Will never crush us
The hero and his comrades
Will be but forever glad
To fight against your lustful lies
Because in the end, one of us has to die.
The evil or the goodness
That brought forth her, in all her bliss.

When his lips closed for the final time, the mass of rock began crushing us into the wall. I felt immense pain – but just a moment later, all I could see were beautiful lights up in trees. Then I saw nothing but the grassy ground…for my face had landed on it.
The wall had opened up and we had fallen out onto a patch of green, fresh smelling grass. It was now night; and the darkness was for some reason comforting to me. But it was daytime only a moment befofe! How could this be? We all turned around to see that the wall had sealed itself back up.
“Steer,” said Alpha. “Please forgive me for hitting you my friend. But I needed you to just shut up.”
“Oh,” began Steer, “It’s all fine, mate. So the wall of transportation was cursed?”
We all stood to our feet and Alpha continued conversation. “Yes it was. See what I meant by unpredictable? This is terrible news. Much worse than I had thought. Even the most sacred of places can be cursed by that evil Omega. They must all know you are here, warrior.”
It felt very good to be called that. But I knew that pride would be very deadly on this quest, so I swallowed it. “Wall of transportation?” I asked. “You mean we aren’t behind the cave? We’re somewhere else in the Jungle?”
“Yes we are,” said Alpha. “Hundreds of miles away from the cave. And a few hours ahead of it as well. Much time has passed while we were falling out of the cave. It’s a form of future travel…well, at least it used to be. We have used that wall for centuries, using different incantations to get to different places and times, though only spans of hours of time in the future. Now we have no protection against Vengeance. But this is where our journey must begin, with the ceremony, which has been waiting here for you since the dawn of time.”
I looked up ahead. There were tall, slender trees scattered this way and that around a path of red earth that I could see twisting into the distance. This was definitely a different part of the jungle; it didn’t even look like a jungle. The trees were further apart from each other, and the grass looked different than where I had been before being in the Cave. In the highest branches of the trees were bright lights of yellow, orange, and red. Along the path were floating lanterns that emitted a green light. Beneath the lanterns were two ropes strung up by a row of pegs on either side of the path. Somehow, it all looked very familiar to me. The moonlight cast from the sky, along with the many stars, accompanied this beautiful path and made it even more beautiful. Next to my lovely maiden Happiness, this sight was and always will be the most beautiful sight my eyes have taken in.
“It’s all for you Youngling,” said Steer. “Alpha says that it was made specifically for you; all your favorite colors and smells are thrown in.”
He was right. I could smell the fresh grass, the warm air, and the sap of the trees. I felt so strongly that wherever I had been before arriving in this world, these sights and smells were abundant. It felt like home.
“Well,” began Alpha, “We must carry on. At the end of this path is your magical welcoming party. Our words will be few, for this walk will be a walk of contemplation and purification. With every step, vengeance, anger, and all other vices will slowly drop off of you. For instance, you won’t provoke Vengeance as easily as before. It is integral for your journey ahead. But the vices won’t stay gone. They will come back, but not nearly as strongly as before. Without this purification, you will not last one day in this Jungle. Omega has, as I feared, injected its evil into the very air we breathe. We can speak only a little so that we can concentrate, but if necessary, don’t hesitate to talk to me. The right questions to ask will come into your head as we walk. Let us begin.”
We began to walk down the path. As soon as my foot stepped onto the red earth, my feelings of fear dropped immensely. New feelings of confidence and inspiration were surging through me. What surprised me the most was that I didn’t have any pride from being brave either. It seemed as though I was set free from all evil, which felt absolutely incredible.
We ended up walking for what seemed like miles, and I was in such a blissful state that it didn’t even matter. “We’ll get there when we get there” was my general outlook. I truly did feel that the scene before me was made specifically to fill some niche in my soul, with some sort of strong, rather, very strong connection to memories that I must have experienced before I came to the World and set out to free my gorgeous maiden, the ever consumingly beautiful creature Happiness.
As we walked on, my two focal points were the beauty of Happiness and the painting of forgotten memory I was walking in. The beauty and wonder of both of these was all I could think about, so I wasn’t even growing impatient. Alpha and Steer had practically vanished from existence in my mind, as well as the Fairies, the Water Sprites, the cave, Vengeance, and whatever on Earth those Rhinocydont creatures Alpha spoke of were.
After maybe a few hours(my mind could not be subjected to time as I was in such a state of ecstasy), I began to think of much more than just my own joy. More than just the beauty of the things I loved. Happiness didn’t just need to be pondered to suit my fancy, she needed to be rescued. And she herself even seemed connected to my forgotten past; the beauty of which lay before me I was also pondering. The selfishness! I needed to know when we would reach the ceremony, the first step I had to take to free my love. So I asked.
“This is the first question you needed to ask, and you are asking it at the right time, my friend,” said Alpha with a big smile. “You have broken past selfishness, even amongst ecstasy and your own wishes. Even good things consumed you with selfishness because you did not think of them for them; you thought of them for your own blissful imagination. But friend! You have broken passed it with flying colors. We will reach the ceremony soon. Still, there are a few more rites of purification on this stroll, a few more questions you will need to ask.”
Still walking, and just when the last word had parted from his lips, I asked him another question.
“Do you know anything about my memories? About what scenes in time these trees, lanterns, and pathway have come from?”
“The Creator put these things here because they remind you of your strong connection you had with him in your previous life,” answered Alpha. “They are small tastes of eternity’s glory.”
“How do you know this?” I replied.
“The Prophecy reveals many things about you. Including a bit of your past.”
To think it! I had connections with the eternal otherworldly abyss in my previous life. Why did it seem so absent from me in this place?
Something changed. I felt my cheeks under the helmet grow red and pulse with blood, and I could of course feel my living helmet pulsing as well. I felt a scowl form on my face as I realized what I was feeling: burning hatred for Alpha. He had known of my past. How could he not have told me? I stopped in my tracks and raised my sword in fury, ready to cut Alpha in half. I lunged….and stopped.
I looked into Alpha’s eyes and saw sympathy, consideration, and compassion. I remembered who he really was: my friend, my ally, my revealer of truth. I shuddered away from him in shame. Steer’s gaze caught my eye, and I could see the same benevolence in his eyes. He laughed and spoke.
“He has serious anger issues Alpha. But I’m glad he caught himself with you.”
Oh! I still to this day loathe myself for hurting Steer when I met him and for wanting to kill my humanoid guide. I looked away from Steer and just watched the ground. How could I ever have been so selfish and impatient as to do these awful things to my comrades. I could feel tears running down both my metallic and my organic face. Alpha and Steer were simply laughing, in a very merry way. They at least didn’t seem hurt, but I was still feeling horrible guilt. Their laughter sounded victorious and proud. Alpha’s answer showed me why.
“My friend, my friend, my glorious friend! You have broken through anger and malice. Another very wonderfully executed rite of passage! Let’s move forward.”
“Alpha…I’m so…,” I began, but he cut me off.
“Alas! You needn’t worry my friend. You have done beautifully. Now, let’s keep moving, only another four hundred yards to the ceremony.”
I was still feeling guilty for almost attacking him, but both of my friends’ smiles assured me that I should move on from my ghastly mistake of betrayal and press forward. After all, what can one do after a mistake but try to move on? Forgiving yourself, however – now, that’s the trick. For so many of my mistakes, like these for instance, I tried to find solace in excuses. I was a lost, confused, and scared stranger when I met Steer. And I was feeling betrayed and lied to when I lashed out upon Alpha…and yet it is at these very thoughts that I shudder. Excuses, excuses. How one handles himself under pressure is the true mark and revealing of one’s own character. But why wallow in self pity over mistakes when there are better things to accomplish further along the path? And beyond that, Happiness herself. So I decided that all the mistakes I had made so far in this journey, and, unfortunately, the ones I would make in the future, would be reversed by me rescuing my Destiny.
I started paying more attention as we walked. There were shadows of living, walking beings all around us. They may have been there for the whole walk, or they may have only showed up at this point. But one thing was for sure. Their presence was accompanied by a thickness of the air, as if it was caked in smog, and also by a feeling of dread. The moonlight seemed to dim, and I felt uneasy enough about the shadows to ask Alpha about them.
“Oh, those,” he began. “They are nothing to dread. Look closely at them. To your right are good kappas, fierce turtle warriors of who unfortunately most belong to Omega. They are flawless in their battle strategy, using their armor and cannon blasts to obliterate all in their past. Another unfortunate thing, however, is that the Omega ones are tougher. To your left are the princes of the Frog kingdom. They are ALL on our side, because though they are weak physically, their hearts are as strong as the shell of the Kappas. None have been veered to the serving of Omega’s evil purposes. Toads are evil though, which fits for they are putrid.”
The kappas were frightening to look at. As I squinted my eyes in the now fading moonlight, I could see that they were walking with us, the frogs too. The frogs were timid and graceful looking, but the Kappas gave me a feeling of fear. But Alpha said they were on our side, so I tried to get past the glowing orange eyes, spiky skin, terribly tough looking armor, and those razor sharp teeth that showed through the sides of their mouths….
Both sets of creatures were walking forward, following our path at the sides. Every single set of eyes was on me though, and it gave me a weird feeling watching them walk with us with their reptilian heads turned towards me. Still, no creature on the side of Happiness should give one a feeling of dread, so there had to be something else.
“Yes, something else,” Alpha answered my thoughts. “But nothing that walks. Watch out for everything around you, warrior. Looks deceive. Amongst all of this beautiful flora is a monster disguised as grace.”
There were flowers all around us, arranged into sections. The colors, I knew, my world must have lacked, for most other color in this Jungle was familiar to me. I had seen colors I couldn’t recognize earlier in my journey, and those were undoubtedly not from my world either. But these flowers were of a different sort. Through my peripherals I could see the Kappas waving at me wildly, as if they wanted me to stop doing something…as if they didn’t want me to stare at the flowers. But they were so beautiful, so graceful, so….
In the middle of each section was flower with a color that I did recognize. They were green flowers, and I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw them. I stared intently at them, unable to unfix my gaze. Though they weren’t moving, I could somehow feel that they were pulsing with life. Not just life, but joy….ecstasy. I then began to smell them in the air.
At once I bent down and snatched one up. I put it to my face. It smelled divine! I wanted to see what they tasted like, so I took my helmet off. Everything became a blur of sensations. I could hear Steer, the kappas, and the frogs yelling, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Nor did I care. I tore off a small piece and shoved it into my mouth…and my own helmet’s tentacles wrapped around my arms to try to stop me!
More yelling, more struggle with my tentacles, more voices. Much more voices. Voices of singing…singing a downright perfect melody. I punched my tentacles and felt their pain, for they were a part of me, but at even this I didn’t care. I kept throwing punches at them, giving me horrible stabs of pain. But the pain was short lived with every punch, for with every bite of the flower ecstasy flowed into me. Even though it was all a euphoric blur, I was also conscious of hitting Steer back a few times, as well as some frogs. Then I heard a voice that was understandable. It was inside of my head. I need not tell you who it belonged to.
“Warrior,” alpha’s voice said with ferocity, “Stop! STOP!! STOOOOOOPPPPPPP!!!!!”
I looked up. Alpha wasn’t even looking at me. He was looking sort of downward, as if he was ashamed of something. As if he was ashamed of me. Kappas were rushing towards me, but alpha stuck out his hand, which of course made them stop. They, the frogs, and Steer, were all glaring at me with a painfully strong look of sadness on their faces. The euphoria I had experienced moments ago was quickly extinguished. I must have done something wrong. I felt sick.
“I’m sorry warrior,” began Alpha, this time speaking openly. “You did not pass this test. I was afraid of this…”
He must have seen the look of maddening guilt and confusion on his face, for he started talking differently, in a lighter, more assuring tone.
“Its alright. Now we know what your weakness is. We can better equip you against Omega…though this is a very difficult obstacle to overcome. Let us continue walking. I will explain to you what just happened. Put on your helmet.”
I obeyed, and stood up. Steer must have also been able to sympathize with me, for he nuzzled his nose against my hand and looked up at me with deep, understanding eyes, accompanied by a soft, reassuring smile. We all began walking again, and Alpha began to speak.
“You see, youngling, when that vile Omega began his reign of carnage in this Jungle, he did it by inhabiting a body, as did I. His body is the Minotaur. But our views on life and love are not the only things different about us. For some reason, he was able to actually materialize into a new species of flora, a beautiful one. Its colors captivated unsuspecting victims. Once they got just one single bite of it, they craved for it for the rest of their lives. It drew them in, and they could never get out. It would give feelings of pure ecstasy, unmatched by anything else the victims had experienced in their lives besides being created by Happiness. And a lucky few of the victims had even met Happiness in trying to stop the Minotaur from locking her away. Despite these blessed souls’ peaceful assurance that came with meeting Happiness, the weaker ecstasy still prevailed. The flowers are obviously a lie, something omega uses to take souls. The victims crave them so much that they will even follow his orders and worship him. They become mindless savages, all love and beauty replaced by addiction and unfulfillment. Empty is what they are, truly empty.
Many who fell to this illusion were of the Kappa race. The few you see standing around us are all scarred by their family members’ departure into oblivion. They are more depressed than you can comprehend, but not as depressed as Happiness is over her whole jungle being perverted with lies and filth.
And these captive agents of destruction of his are another thing he uses to infiltrate the Jungle. They obey his orders to torture people, making them join him by force. They also can sometimes simply persuade someone to join them. They are very good at deception, as they have done the ultimate deception to themselves; trading the peace of Happiness for a lie. You would be surprised how easy it can be to betray Her.”
I lowered my head in shame, knowing that I had already betrayed her with revenge, despair, anger, and those awful, vile, sickening damned plants.
“Happiness is probably curled up and enticed with pain at this very moment,” I thought to myself. Alpha answered my thought. And as he did, he stopped walking and looked me squarely in the face.
“Friend, don’t fret about the mistakes you have made. Many have done much worse, and still been forgiven and freed. You are much stronger than you see yourself to be. The plants affect you worse than they affect anyone else, and you still haven’t considered joining Omega’s most wicked game. I am very proud of you.”
Beneath my helmet was a smile. Oh, the joy! Not all hope was lost. I was stronger than I had perceived. I really could save her…yes, yes, I really could save Happiness! And Alpha, my glorious friend, was pleased with me.
“Look onward my friend,” he said. “Your ceremony awaits you.”
I looked at the scene before me, and I gasped. There were thousands, no, millions of little golden and little green lights flying speedily in circles over a wide clearing. The earth below them was covered with moss mud, and water, but of a most exquisite sort. The moss and mud was actually very beautiful, both with the way they looked naturally and the way that they reflected the lights. Beneath the water were fish, namely, cat fish. They flopped out of the water every now and then with a splash and during their short time in the air they always looked at me and smiled. Everyone was smiling. Alpha, Steer, the frogs, the kappas, and every new creature before me was smiling. And there were MANY new creatures.
The way they looked and what they were was obviously designed specifically for me, for these must have been my favorite animals in my past life. The names of many I could not make out, and a few of the nameless were reptilian. But they were also birdlike, not ungraceful like a reptile. I could think of one word for them, though I had the strangest feeling that it was not the word I chose to call them by in my past. The word I connected them with is Dragons. They were covered in scaled as well as beautifully colored feathers, and they danced gracefully like little sparrows. Other creatures I saw were birds themselves, of the regular blue jay and eagle sort. I wondered why the eagles didn’t eat the jays, but I realized that this place was a perfect place of harmony and peace between living beings. Predators and prey in peace. Lions and lambs lying together beneath the flying lights; green cheetahs lying beside graceful gazelles; and even sharks and catfish, swimming together in the ponds of the clearing.
What was I to do next but only step forward and welcome this ceremony with open arms…or with one open arm and a sword hand at least.

“I see that you have an intense interest in the dragons,” said Alpha, as his green eyes gleamed in the lantern light.
“They are very beautiful,” I said. “I think they were called something different in my world. Are they dangerous?”
“Many are, yes. But all the ones here are sentient and herbivorous. The carnivores live deep within the jungle in the arenas of the rhinocydonts.”
I asked him what exactly these rhinocydonts beings were.
“They are the strongest and nastiest of all dragons. They are the smartest as well. In fact, their technology is extravagantly complex. They have guns that shoot out a white lot light of many colors that they call laser guns. They are less destructive than the Kappa cannons, but much faster, much more efficient, and much more effective. Their technology is what landed them here. They come from a different world, you see. Like you. But probably not the same world. The dragons you know of from your previous life couldn’t have been these ones. I have had several conversations with their leader, Dienok, trying to persuade him to help us save Happiness. They are a selfish, vile people who only care about getting their race to the world that their religion calls, “heaven”. In attempting to travel there, in using their advanced technology to cross over to other worlds, they ended up here. Because of this, they have a love-hate relationship with their technology. Now they focus on the mythology of their homeworld that was forgotten long before they entered this world. All they do in their city, Dragonopolis, is study mythology, debate on if or how they should use their technology, trade goods with the men of the jungle, and train inside of arenas with gladiator fights. They are not evil, but they are of no help to us. Sometimes, they have even, kidnapped people of all races in this world and make them fight their dragon pets just for their own entertainment. I sincerely hope that you don’t run into them. Don’t seek them out either, for I can see in your mind that you are curious. No, my friend, just focus on these dragons. They left dragonopolis ages ago. They were sick of the confusion and chaos of their rhinocydont superiors. Focus on them, my friend, please. The rhinocydonts may still play a part in your journey, though for good or ill I do not know. But never seek them out.”
As i was pondering this, a frog prince came to me and gave me a silver platter with sweet smelling meat on it. He bowed low to the ground as he offered it. Then, after I took it, he scampered off to join those of his own kind. The meat smelled divine and I was about to remove my helmet to consume it when I noticed something unsettling. It was steak. And as far as I knew, steak was made from cows. Like the one whom I began my journey with and now called friend.
“Steer……”
“Oh calm yourself youngling,” said Steer as he trotted to my side with a smile on his face. “This is not from my kind. It is from horses. This is horse steak, one of the most favored dishes in all the jungle.”
“Are horses sentient?” I asked.
“Yes, a few. There are three species of horse. One is the common horse. I believe I compared myself to one earlier. They are annoying to the utmost degree. I only say they are sentient because they can speak, but to me, their speech is stupid. They ramble on and on as if the day would never end.”
Sure enough, I began to make out a very fast paced conversation between two horses a few yards away from me. Steer looked at them with displeasure.
“But are they what this steak is made from?”
“No, No my friend,” began Alpha. “Remember, there are three separate species. You are about to eat the non-sentient species, the one we breed as livestock. ”
I removed my helmet to eat, but still had a look of confusion on my face, which Alpha noticed.
“You do not suppose it is like this in your world, do you?” he asked.
“No. I feel like the natural thing my world used for livestock was cattle.”
Steer and Alpha roared with laughter.
“Are you kidding me?” Steer said. “Even if that is true, your world must be very strange, for horse meat is much more filling and delicious than the flesh of my kind. You believe that in your world you ate of my kind? To think of it! Its ridiculous!”
As they continued to laugh, I looked for a place to sit and asked Alpha where the silverware was.
“What’s that?” answered Alpha.
“You know,” I said, “Blades and such for dining.”
Steer and Alpha both looked confused. This surprised me. People in this world seeming so wise and intelligent like Alpha and Steer had never used tools for eating.
“Yes,” began Alpha, “We do use blades and such for cutting food into appropriate servings, but everyone eats with their hands, except for Steer’s kind of course. It is the custom of all, Alpha and Omega alike.”
The wild, untamed nature of the people in this world was clear. I began to feel a twinge of animal in me myself. I reached down and then brought a hearty chunk of reddish cooked flesh to my mouth. It was delicious. It was my first true meal in this world, and I could tell within a second that it must have been much better than the food of my home world.
“Here,” said Alpha, “This will wash it down nicely.” He handed me a glass full of red, strong smelling liquid. The glass sparkled with a colorful shimmer that I immediately recognized to have to do with magic.
“Good guess,” continued Alpha. “Sorcerers of long ago figured out a way to make certain minerals into glasses that could harness the still waters. The men of this jungle then found a way of using certain berries to make the water become this enchanting wine. The rhinocydonts trade goods with the men for loads of it. They only have anything to do with the creatures of this world if they can get a deal out of it.”
The wine sent glory down to my stomach, encouraging and strengthening me. This was shaping up to be a wonderful welcoming party.
In the air, fireflies of many colors were moving in groups and changing shape. Clusters of them became trees, lions, dragons – and some other species that greatly aroused my curiosity. Three clusters of green, orange, and blue were now three horses with a magnificently long horn on each of their heads.
“Unicorns,” said Alpha with a smile. “Wisest and most beautiful of all beings And the third species of horse. They rarely fight, but when they do, those horns of those are unmatched. Or….I should say they used to rarely fight.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well…they only fought the rhinocydonts on grounds of self defense. They were the first from our world to speak to them. They tried to welcome them, tried to make them calm down and abandon their overworked and regrettable technology…and they only defended; they never launched an attack outright. But the rhinocydonts struck them on many occasions.”
My heart sank. They were so beautiful.
“Are they all dead?”
“No. A few linger on. But they haven’t been seen in centuries. I believe they will only return if someone can unite all the forces of this world together, rhinocydonts included, for the sake of Happiness. But I don’t think anyone could ever do it. Not even…”
“Me?”
He did not answer.
All of a sudden, everyone began walking away into the darkness beyond the light of the fireflies.
“Time for bed,” said Alpha. “You have a big day ahead of you warrior.”
I was disappointed, but I didn’t object. I had already eaten three plates of the horse meat as we conversed, and I was now beginning to feel tired. Alpha, Steer, and I followed one of the unicorn shapes up a smooth paved slope. Despite the fireflies’ brightness, as well as some torches hanging up on walls, I could only see very faint silhouettes of architecture. We were walking in something like a city.
I was very sleepy indeed. The last thing I remember was hearing Alpha speak to me.
“Doubt is an illusion, my friend. A tricky one. It robs us of our hopes, dismantles our dreams, and can blacken even the purest hearts.”
Nothing after that. I do not even remember going into my bedchamber to sleep that night.

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“You said they were vegetarians.” “Pardon?” “You said they were vegetarians. That isn’t true. I watched them eating their young.” I began this conversation with the cow after I had awoken to find myself being carried on his back. Surprisingly, I felt no pain from the kick he had inflicted earlier. It was very dark. Moonlight stabbed through the branches above, taunting me with its beauty. This caused me to remember that I had been dreaming about a beautiful woman during my cow induced sleep. I loved her hair…silky, golden, and mesmerizing. It was to my enjoyment that I remembered her because she took my mind off of the horrors I had faced previously and that I would probably have to endure again in more dreadful, terrifying ways. Still, the dream was like a blur, for I could not envision her fully upon awakening. I had only caught a fleeting glimpse of what I would later come to find was the most utterly real and beautiful thing in existence. Was she from my past? Did I even HAVE a past before waking up in this world? Could I ever see her face to face? But it was hard to find solace in thinking about her, because the cow I was with knew things, things of this world, and I didn’t, so I just had to talk to him. He hadn’t answered my question, so I asked again. “Cow, they’re not vegetarians. I saw them…” “Address me as STEER, Young creature. Or, if you do prefer, SIR. I am much older and wiser than you. Every creature of this world is older than you. Centuries old. Though, none of us really know how to explain it….oh silly me, I’m rambling on like a common horse. You want me to tell you if the fairies? They are a dreadful annoyance; everytime someone new comes along, they have to frighten them. They are not evil or even formidable in the least bit. That, young man, was the fairies feasting on their own bodies…why so shocked? Your face is sickly pale…well, they don’t like eating anything else with blood filled veins, and their wounds recover instantly when inflicted upon themselves. Their main diet is fruit and leaves, but eating themselves allows them to live forever. Most boring creatures, all controlled by one simple mind and vocabulary…” “Why is nothing here normal?!?!? Cows talking?!?!? Creatures that eat their own flesh?!?!?! A suit of armor that is somehow alive?!?!? Tell me now or I’ll slice you with my sword, I swear…” The cow simply laughed at my interruption. I was in horror, and this creature who acted as if he was my helper didn’t even give me pity. He replied, with a look of self righteous satisfaction on his face. “You cannot harm me, silly one. I am s noble servant of the Alpha, as are you, and I know that each of our brains are too large to permit us such stupidity. And what, exactly, is normal?” I could not answer him. “As I had thought. Cut me with your sword indeed! Even if you truly wanted to, I am much faster than you, and…” I rolled off of his back and kicked him hard in the face. Vengeance was mine. I didn’t care to know how he could help me any longer. His assumed authority over me(that’s how he seemed anyway) was unbearable. I ran off laughing as he howled with pain. Yes, it did sound very much like a MOO and it was hilarious. “COME BACK HERE YOY FILTHY COWARD!!!” He began to chase me with astonishing speed. I continued to race off into the jungle, wanting to look back but not daring to do it….and then I tripped. I could hear him calling for me from behind. I waited for a laugh or another fearsome kick from his hoof, but neither came. As he approached me, I turned to face him and saw a look of what seemed to be fear upon his face. “You have called Vengeance,” he gasped. “You have called it. It will be here shortly. We must make haste! Terrible mistake you have made! Terrible!” If this cow, this Steer, this sole creature I knew who had answers was frightened, I knew I should be as well. He seemed to know this world so well, acting as if he had survived for centuries grazing amongst the place. What on earth could frighten him? “We must make haste, we must make haste,” he said in a terrified whimper. “Vengeance is coming, we must make haste! Get on my back.” I climbed onto his back and held tight. He zoomed off into the jungle even faster than I had done just a few moments before. His strides shook the jungle floor, scattering birds and fairies from the trees and into the night sky. “Where are we going,” I asked. “We are going to the waterfall, the only place that can protect us from Vengeance until you are trained. What a considerable amount of mortal peril you have gotten us into….hold on tight!” We continued our race through the jungle. I had a feeling we were out of harm’s way, for nothing seemed to have been following us or anything, but then that illusion was broken. I heard a bloodcurdling roar that shook us hard enough for Steer to trip over his own feet and fall face first into a puddle. I fell off of his side and rolled down a hill. I heard him yell “Youngling!” As I tried to grab ahold of a branch, a vine, ANYTHING that could keep me from rolling further and further into this unknown called a jungle. I finally gripped a slimy toadstool protruding from the earth that didn’t even break. It held my weight and suspended me over what I now saw was the edge of an immense cliff. I began scrambling up the cliff face, hoping that whatever had produced that roar wasn’t waiting there to face me. As I pulled harder onto the toadstool to lift myself up, I saw that if was not a toadstool at all. It had two big yellow eyes perched atop its head. Slowly, it lifted up out of the ground to reveal a body covered with feathery tentacles. It made a disgusting shriek that was echoed by my own, for I was in deep fright and disgust. An evil mushroom, for pity’s sake! In this moment of fear I made a terrible mistake and let go, falling thousands of feet down, down to certain death below, down to the end of all things…….

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more!

-s.d.