Judgement, by Elijah:
I could hear it, almost like the gavel coming down on the bench. Their disapproval, mingled with misunderstanding…it was nearly palpable in the air. They looked down on me, calling me names, labeling me as something I most surely was not, their lack of acceptance driving them to shun me, leaving me with those whose ideals I was arguing against.
I hated them for it. I hated their pretentious attitude, I hated the offense they seemed to feel at my words, words I gave trying to convince them of how wrong they were…about me, and so many others. I hated those they lumped me with, for being just as intolerant as they were, fearing they would accept me as one of them, and my lot would be cast with theirs.
I hated myself for arguing past my beliefs, for how I had to have hurt one of them, one I had considered a friend before. For how their misconceptions led me to continue that path of destruction until I couldn’t take it any longer, and neither could they. I frowned, looking about, now.
Was I really any better than them? I hold bias just as they do. I, as well, will refuse to accept opinions based purely on my viewpoint. I feel like I’m no better than them, that I’m made from the same dirt they are, but I don’t want to admit it. They were completely intolerant of any beliefs except their own, unwilling to listen to any possible arguments against them.
I sighed, walking aimlessly down the streets. As I thought back on what had happened, I felt the similar clenching in my gut, tears springing to my eyes. They were at fault, but so was I. I was just as intolerant towards them as they were to me, only contributing to that familiar cycle I had so accurately described. Arguments everywhere.
I turn, looking to my friend who walks beside me. His face holds the same sadness, and the same anger, as mine…but I can tell he wasn’t done arguing. He wants to continue, some misguided hope that they might see how they were wrong.
Maybe he wasn’t so misguided. Still…all things come in their own time. The argument was done, continuing it would lead only to more problems, and yet…I know I wanted to argue as well. I wanted to burst back in, and start kicking ass and taking names. But that would be detrimental.
We walk down the street, coming upon a familiar place to us in recent times-the Ambage Café. Stepping in, we say hello to all our friends within the place, proceeding to relate our story. Of course, our version is flawed due to our own bias against those we fought against, but we tell it anyways.
I’m even more outspoken and critical than I was earlier, I realize. I’m being just like them. Human nature, I suppose. Be derisive towards all those you don’t agree with.
Done with the discussion, I take my drink, moving back to a corner of the building, alone with my thoughts. From a certain viewpoint, as I had said, I was right. From another, I was wrong, and completely illogical. That w as all that could be said.
I stared at my reflection in the shimmering liquid I had carried with me, my eyes baleful and dark. Yes, I knew I wouldn’t forgive them for how they had treated me. For how they had judged me.
But could I forgive myself?
The slender toa sat quietly in the cold chair, his ice blue eyes shut, his hands clasped tightly. Zarayna, former forum leader of Short Stories, now a retired POBZPC, was waiting for his trial.
It was so much different from how he had previously encountered those who would now judge him, but he did not care overly. He was tired of power, and powers extended right into his very life energy; that too, he was tired of.
But anger was also present, and this conflicted with his weariness, negating it.
His armor shifted its shades as he sat, blending in with his surroundings. Although they had chained all his other power, they had not bothered about his chameleon armor.
Zarayna opened his eyes, adjusting them to the glaring white of the walls. He knew where he was by mind, but by sight he could be anywhere.
Short Stories. His old forum, and during the great absence of the Admins, his realm. It was even more ironic, he supposed, since the trial was being held in the high security prison of Short Stories, once the fabled Mage Academy. They had been his main troops in the civil wars, although when the Admins had returned, he had fought against them.
A new forum leader trying to keep a haven of peace, a forum leader getting involved in the various wars. Finally, a forum leader deposed for not keeping neutrality. A lone assassin mercenary, and finally a forum leader under the Admins.
Footsteps sounded outside, and Zarayna unclenched his hands, placing the cuffed wrists on his lap.
The door opened, and the normal personal required for a trial like this filed in. Finally, pacing slowly in, was his judge. An Admin. Zarayna started slightly at the passionless Hau of Black Six as the Toalike being looked at him briefly before proceeding to his throne.
Zarayna’s mind was blurred during the proceedings, but his memory cleared at one point when Black Six listed his crimes. A slow smile spread behind the Noble Matatu. Assassination of an admin, two Global Moderators, and six Forum Mentors. Black Six paused then, and looked at him.
“You’ve returned to assassination. But why? Perhaps you can tell me this, outside of the proceedings,” rang the Admin’s voice inside of his head. Zarayna smiled.
“I assassinated Deevee because he, his troops, and his staff were passibly the worst thing the Admins ever made or had, both in the Great War against the Comic Federation, and after in peace. The others were a simple accidental; the Global Moderators tried to defend him, and the Forum Mentors… The Forum Mentors tried to beat me with their pencils.” His last statement clearly described his double scorn; against the puny foes he had slain, and against him for slaying them. Unlike Black Six, he did not thought-speak. There was no response.
The trial ended, with the verdict he had expected; namely death. As he was led away, he could not but help smile.
A Fire Has Fallen, by Will/Tolkien:
The Fire Has Fallen
Wind whistled a lonely song through the rocks of the blackened headland, and ash trailed after in specks and shreds. A sound creaked sharply as the evening fell. Creak, creak. The sign of the tavern hung listless on its single remaining ring, the sigil it once bore now a burned black plain, much like the blasted fields that spread away smoking, south and west. The beach down below was much the same: a ruin of ash and blackened glass, waterlogged by the sea.
The single ship stood out against the desolation, floating high at anchor on the muddy waves. Its sails were furled, and a single lantern hung from the prow, glowing red in the gathering dark. It cast no reflection on the thick, cinder-coated surface of the waters.
Another light shone out in the gloom, high on the headland. It flickered and danced within the stone walls of the tavern as if searching for an escape. But it could not escape. The hearth was stone, and there was precious little tinder to feed the blaze. Still it raged, hot and angry, and yet only a spark compared to the vast inferno that must have fallen upon this land. Their land.
The figures huddled close around the hearth, warming their hands against the biting wind. The air was full of the smell of smoke, the smell of death. It lay heavy on the scorched fields that stretched to the edge of sight outside, and the walls of the burned-out tavern could not keep it out. The sign creaked on as night moved in from the east, and soon there was only the light of the hearth to fend off the darkness.
A sound of feet scuffling outside, and another figure appeared in the doorway. He coughed, rubbing his hands as he moved into the light. His face was smeared with soot.
“Nothing,” he said at last, his eyes staring into the flames. “Nothing left. The town’s gone, right down to the foundations.”
The figures exchanged glances.
“You’re...you’re sure?” one asked.
“Sure? Do you think I’m a half-wit? Of course I’m sure. The Port is gone, burned. The harbor’s full of sunken hulks, Masts sticking up out of the water, all torched. The houses too. Nothing but piles of ash and—” he stopped, swallowing .
“Ash and bodies. Too many...too many to bury.” The man shook his head.
“Then it’s all true. All the rumors...” another man said. He was tall, with a hard face.
“Captain,” one of the others spoke up, “Surely you don’t think this was...well...“
“What else is there to think?” the captain said. His eyes reflected the fire as he spoke. “The Fire has fallen.”
“I suppose I never believed any of those stories...you know, the Judgment.”
“None of us did,” the man with the soot-stained face broke in again, angry. “No one believed, but now it’s all come true. Don’t you see? The burning...we were away too long. Too long!”
“—No, captain, no! You heard the tales. We all did, even across the seas. They said that there was magic in the world again. Magic! But magic and death go hand in hand. It’s all true.”
The captain put a hand on Harwin’s shoulder, “This is hard for all of us,” he said, and his voice was softer. “It hurts to see your home destroyed. Especially like this, but we have to be strong. Strong.” His grip tightened, and Harwin nodded at last, closing his eyes.
“Now, was there anything else? Anything else that you saw?”
“I...yes, there were tracks, yes.” Harwin wiped his eyes with dirty hands. “Some tracks...so few though. Looked like animals and maybe some carts. They went south. Must have been a few survivors.”
“Good...good.” The captain frowned, stepping away from the fire, hands folded behind his back. The others lapsed into silence, letting him go. Now there was only the crackle of the flames and the whistling wind and the slow creak, creak of the sign outside.
The captain moved to the door, looking out into the night. The fire cast his shadow ahead of him, huge and flickering, and for a moment...for a moment he thought there was another sound, out there in the night. A whisper, a voice. He thought of all the souls that walked the road to judgment this night. Whispering through parched, scorched lips, trailing ash behind them...so many.
No, he would not think of that. His thought must be for the day, not the night. They would seek out those who had survived the doom that had fallen upon the world, upon their home...They had been too long away. Survivors...yes, that was good news, at least.
He turned from the doorway and went back to the fire, leaving behind the whispers of the night and the lonely sign, still swinging.
For a moment, the wind blew harder, and a few flakes of soot broke away from the sign’s surface. Just a few pieces, fluttering away, but they revealed what lay beneath, even after the fire and destruction, carved deep into the hardwood. A word. Ambage.