Round Robin Story Debate - RD. 1, Logic vs. isallannoyyo
This is the second part of the first round of the MIG Round Robin Story Tournament.
"1. Conduct is only reserved for members who choose not to either adhere to the rules imposed by the debater, forfeits, trolls and harangues his opponent, and so forth. Note that this story tournament may include twists or not, depending on the whims of the debaters.
2. Spelling and grammar should only be rewarded to another opponent if one side displays noticeably poor spelling and grammar (in other words a conspicuous difference).
3. Arguments-There is a subjective nature as to who made the better arguments, but both debaters AND voters should beware that this is essentially where one decides on who did the better job in crafting the story--in creating a literary world, imbuing his characters with basic or complicated humanity, geared the story forward, and even entertained the audience. (Note that the latter is contingent on the type of the debate; voters should list whatever factors that colored their perceptions of the debate sides of the stories).
4. Sources-This is where one actually decides on who exhibited the better craftsmanship and writing skills--in other words--the best prose, wording, command of the language and flourish. This skill is not all to be confused with storytelling; surely a member can tell good stories but that does not at all correlate with his writing skills or the maturity of such a skill." - MIG
Four rounds to debate
First round is for acceptance ONLY.
2 week voting period
72 hours to argue
8,000 character limit
Vote comments enabled
I should note that the constraints of 64,000 characters ought to be considered in the scope of the story and it's development. For instance, one of us may love to set up a drawn out story set over many years, but it would likely fall apart given such constraints. In this manner, a degree of restraint ought to be exhibited on the writers part.
I want to thank my opponent ishallannoyyo, and hope that we can craft a truly great story.
I accept the debate. Best of luck to my opponent!
It was when the black rain marred the parchment that Ito looked up. A fine stream of black particles fell through the air. Ito closed his book and looked around, his tranquil surroundings now utterly disrupted. Standing up, Ito gazed out at the coast.
An armada of steamships.
Ito looked closely at the ships. They were undoubtedly made by the Hevellians, as they were called. Imposing and powerful, the steamships were no merchant vessel, and carried no ornament to brighten their appearance. And people were exiting the ships. Vast droves of people.
It was then that a rider appeared.
“Ito, meet Frederick down in the village square!”
“What’s happening?” queried Ito. The rider was gone. Shrugging, Ito felt for his scabbard – his sword was at the ready. With a last look at his parchment and the running stream nearby, Ito turned and began his walk to town. Or rather, his very brisk walk. Seemingly only moments later, Ito scrambled into the village square, as a haggard looking Frederick – a tall man of a muscled build and the military leader of the town - bellowed commands. Ito weaved his way to Frederick.
“Frederick, what’s happening?” Frederick didn’t look at him. The din of the preparations, and masses of people moving perhaps.
“Frederick!” shouted Ito. Frederick turned, and clasped Ito by the shoulder, motioning him aside.
“Ito, it’s good to see you here. Every man who is able will perform his duty.”
“I take it by ‘every man’ that you are evacuating the women and children and that we are at war?”
“Of course. Perceptive as ever Ito.”
“So what’s happening?” Frederick gestured to the sea, and began walking slowly
“You might not be able to tell, but we’ve managed to piece together an advance team to fight at the beach.” Ito abruptly stopped.
“That’s suicide Frederick.”
“Of course it is. They’re merely to delay the Hevellians. We’ll let them think they’ve secured the area and then attack them with all of our strength. Meanwhile, we buy time for those being evacuated to get away.” Ito glanced at Frederick, his face sullen. The plan was suicide but to question the plan, to question Frederick... it wasn’t right.
“So what am I to do?” asked Ito, wary that Frederick’s patience might wear thin – the din of metal, the lives being lost at the coast only kilometres away.
“You are going to lead a unit to recapture the beacon nearby, and the surrounding houses. You will light the beacon and defend it with your lives. It is crucial that you light it, otherwise our forces in Delmar will have no advanced warning, save for the slow moving evacuees, of the Hevellians.” The immensity of Ito’s mission grabbed him.
“You mean that the forces in our capital are going to be outnumbered?” Frederick’s face looked ever more haggard. His town resigned and reluctant.
“Yes. The Hevellians bring a mighty host to bear on us, and our country’s might may not be sufficient, except to hold a defensive position at our capital, Delmar. Now, you’ll be accompanied by your fellow sergeants Alfray and Okubo, as well as a crack squad of people coming to this beacon. You will likely encounter heavy resistance. Be prepared, and light that beacon at any cost. Now go!” With his final imperative command said, Frederick glided into the mill of men now gathering together, preparing an ambush.
Ito couldn’t see the ground for corpses.
He was deafened by screams and clashing steel. Despite the cold air, a glistening sweat coated his face. His body ached, but the adrenalin of battle pushed him on. It had been a vicious, hard assault on the beacon, and they still weren’t there, despite their valour and the casualties suffered. And yet still the Hevellians kept coming – 2 were coming at him as he thought.
It was a strange thing to feel calmness and clarity in such a quagmire, but Ito did.
Ito struck out at the first attacker, engaging his attacker’s blade with a series of furious swipes as Alfray held off the second. The attacker flailed with his broadsword, a weapon ill equipped to fencing. Parry and thrust, Ito could see his attacker tiring. The weight of the broadsword weakening his blows. A minute passed with more duelling. Finally, the man slashed out in desperation. Cut a waft of air near Ito’s face, the blade missed, and the man was suddenly defenceless. Ito pierced his heart with a merciless thrust.
Withdrawing his sword, Ito looked at Alfray, still duelling away. It was time to help Alfray out.
A shield smashed Ito in the head. He fell to the ground, sprawled out like an eagle.
Dimly, Ito saw a glint of steel above his head, seemingly descending upon him. The towering oblivion approaching...
Alfray dispatched him with a side cut. But it was only horror that struck Ito’s face.
“Alfray, behind you!” Alfray turned swiftly, but his former dueling antagonist impaled him through the heart. As if lost for a moment, he stumbled forward before falling. In that instant Ito stabbed Alfray’s killer through the stomach. The man doubled over, and lay on the ground to die. Immediately, another man came into view and Ito raised his sword to deflect a vicious blow. When were they going to stop coming? His men were slowly falling away, and the Hevellians kept coming, their numbers seemingly endless. And from what he had glimpsed of the main fray, it did not go well there either.
Suddenly there appeared a new vigour in the struggle – Hevellian reinforcements.
With a deadening jolt, a crush of people seemed to fall upon Ito. Swiftly, he lashed out at another attacker, drawing blood. Then it was a wicked deflection from a flailing man. And then it was...
The crunch of a shield upon skull. Ito fell to the ground. An unconscious figure amidst the fury of battle, caught beneath a charging horde.
Ito opened his eyes. Where was he?
And then it came – the faint lights of embers, corpses strewn across the ground, buildings mostly crushed. It was his hometown. Frederick and his men had not held the line. He turned to his home in the distance – a charred, desolate place now. What was there left?
The sound of a quiet step caught his eye. Ito turned to see a man facing him, sword tentatively drawn.
“Who goes there?” stated the man, his voice both carrying a forceful, and yet somehow hesitant tone.
“I am Ito, a man who served under this town’s commander, a man named Frederick.”
“Frederick? How are you alive? His men were slaughtered, despite their honourable efforts.”
“I... I don’t know. Slaughtered? Did the women and children escape? Did we hold the Hevellians at Delmar? Did we...” Ito trailed off.
“They escaped. At Delmar our forces came forth with a sweeping assault, and they won a great victory.” Ito’s face lightened.
“A victory? This is great!”
“No, a pyrrhic victory was won. The government later capitulated to the Hevellian forces.” As if struck by a great force, Ito went for his sword, as if to strike the very air before him.
“They, they capitulated? They surrendered, despite the dishonour, despite the Hevellian ways!?” Ito’s anger was visibly palpable.
“Look, the government thinks there might be things to gain from the Hevellians.”
“Gain? They’re mad, wretched demons if they think that!”
“The government thinks the only way to overcome these invaders, to retain our way of life, is to absorb the technology
and ideas of the Hevellians. We can not fight against them as we are, and we will succumb if we stay as we are.”
“It is not right, nor honourable, and shames those who fought here.”
“Ito, you can adapt to imperialism or try and rebel against the Hevellians, maybe form a resistance group. Know that if
you do so though you’ll just endanger the livelihood of all of us.” He looked sternly at Ito’s anguished face.
“Do you expect me to abandon the town of my forefathers?”
“Look around you – your home, your village does not exist as it did days ago. Now, I can’t temper any will for vengeance on your part, but you must understand what we’re doing. Now, are you coming to Delmar?"
“It is my great honour today to present to Delmar, the future generation of our warriors!”
“Geez, does he never shut up?”
“Quiet, this is a great day for the both of us.”
“Yeah, now whenever we walk down the street people can point at us and cry: Look! Those are the people who will one day die for our pathetic and meaningless lives!”
“Shut up, Alfray. Before Frederick comes down here and shuts it for you.”
Sure enough, Sergeant Frederick was glaring down at Alfray in the second row.
“Man, Ito. He gives quite the evil eye doesn’t he?”
“Shut up man!”
“Ahem, as I was saying,” Frederick turned and glared at Alfray. “This is our new generation of soldiers! Fresh from the academy, they will be the ones protecting this countries interests, borders, and people!”
The crowd cheered. Ranks and ranks of men stood shoulder to shoulder in a vast, stone courtyard. Sergeant Frederick stood at the front of the men on a raised podium, addressing the people of Delmar whom sat in bleachers on the sides of the courtyard. Behind Frederick, sat the royal king of Delmar himself, King Lars.
“Now, to begin with the graduation ceremony!”
One by one, the soldiers walked up to the podium where Frederick pinned a medal certifying the bearer as a royal soldier of Delmar, shook his hand, and saluted him. The procession winded down and down, until only Ito and Alfray were left.
“Ahem, now I have left these two to the very end. For passing through the academy with the highest grades ever seen, I award Ito and Alfray two medals each, the standard insignia of the Armed Corp, and the a red stripe on the shoulder, a symbol stating that these two have risen from the rank Private, to Private First Class. The crowd burst into cheers as Ito and Alfray shook hands with Frederick.
“Congratulations, son. You did your country proud.” Frederick whispered into Ito’s ear.
”Ito, come here!” a sharp voice yelled. Ito moved quickly, his master would be very displeased if Ito didn’t answer to his calls.
Ito’s shoes clacked on the hard floors as he ran. He burst into a grand hall, the ceiling 20 feet high and adorned with a crystal chandelier, the floor covered by an exotic rug made of tiger skins, a table adorned with gold, inlaid with stones, and a high chair with a velvet cushion, two bright French doors off to the side leading out to the sunlight, to freedom. And to complete the scene, a fat, dirty man sat in the chair, his grubby hands continually molesting the table in search of its next victim.
“So, Ito. You’re late.”
“Sir, I came as fast as I could.”
“Not, good enough.” the fat man’s sausage hands grabbed an apple, a chicken, a duck leg, bread, enough food to feed a village and thrust them down his gullet.
“Now, what news from the field?”
“Sir, the Hevellians to the north continue to harass our lands; raiding parties are striking our northernmost towns, pillaging and killing your subjects.”
“Hmmm,” the fat man said, his eyes searching a mango in his hand.
“This is very troubling.” the man said, rolling the mango about in his hands. His eyes continued to search the fruit as if it would magically grow a mouth and talk to him.
“I think this is ripe, don’t you?”
“Excus – excuse me sir?”
“Never mind, I know this is ripe.” The man grabbed a small knife and began skinning the mango. Ito felt a sudden desire to gouge his eye out with the knife.
“With all due respect sir, what about the Hevellians?”
“What about them?”
“What do you suggest our course of action be, sir?”
“But nothing Ito, I am your superior, you kissed my ring, and you will serve me! I will not have my country engaging in a war with those brutes to the North! They can kill those peasants, the northerners are always engaged in riots, and protests, and this: we demand rights and liberties! garbage. Bah! Right and liberties, I am the king by divine right! I would be grateful if those Hevellians slaughtered all of them. Be gone, and don’t trouble me again until you have good news.”
Ito’s face grew solid, he straightened his back, clacked his shoes together, and saluted.
“Your wish is my command your majesty.”
Ito and Alfray strolled down centre avenue in Delmar. They walked, looking side to side at the various street vendors, selling tropical fruits, clothes, and other exotic items. There were butcheries, grain stores, bakeries, you name it, this market’s got it.
“So Ito, still kissing the old man’s behind?”
“Shut up Alfray, you don’t want the secret police to hear that kind of talking.”
“No worries Ito, Darren isn’t on patrol today.”
Ito turned to Alfray.
“Darren is secret police?”
“SHHH! You want to go around yelling that out? Then the police police will be after me!”
“They already are, and how did you know whose secret police?”
“True, but I do work in his majesties name! I have my contacts Ito, sorry I can’t tell you though.”
“Hah! Work in the majesties name? You’re a privateer! You work outside the law!”
“In theory, but really the king finances all of our operations.”
Ito grinned and threw a punch at Alfray.
“You scum! I’ll need to arrest you now for soiling the name of our king! He would never support your criminal enterprise!”
Alfray caught Ito’s punch with ease. His expression darkened.
“You have no idea what and what he doesn’t finance. I lost all respect for the monarchy when Lars died, he was a good king.”
“Alfray, that’s traitorous talk. When we graduated from the academy our only duty was to the king! We are to lay our lives down for him! How dare you say that you don’t respect him!”
“Ito, start using that brain of yours and think for a minute. Whup! What’s Darren doing here? I thought he was sick!” Ito glanced to the left and saw the bulky outline of Darren, the capitals bishop. Darren walked through the streets with his Bible, blessing people left and right, his eyes raking their face in an attempt to search out Alfray.
Alfray grabbed Ito’s arm and roughly spun him around and they briskly walked in the other direction. Darren saw them and starting using the mystical and magical power of God to part the sea of people between him and his prey. That’s probably what he thought happened, in reality he shoved people briskly out of the way.
Alfray’s hand strolled onto a fruit vendors fruit. He picked out a particularly ripe apple without breaking stride.
“Hey! You gonna pay for that or not?” the vendor shouted out.
“False information, you owe me!” Alfray shouted, pointing at the very angry Bishop.
Ito broke from his walk into long loping strides. He sprinted down halls and burst into the grand room where the king sat no his lazy behind.
“Hmm, 15 seconds, not good enough.”
“Cut the crap Ito, I’m sending you to that hellhole of northern town, Imante. Some rebellious peasants are clamouring for rights again. Take the mounted 42 squadron and sanitize the area.”
“Uhh, are you that dumb Ito? KILL THEM ALL! When you’re done, come here and supervise the cleaning of these tiger rugs, they’re getting dirty.”
“Your wish is my command, sir.”
The next day the rugs shined as if they were new.
Memories. To view them again, to rekindle a past life, to reminisce...
“Ito, are you going to answer the question? Are you coming to Delmar?” The reminiscing stopped, a flood dammed. How long had he been standing idly for when he should have been thinking? He turned and looked at the man, as if hoping for some sort of guidance or sign. There was none there.
“Ito, Delmar...” came the man again.
“I will come to Delmar, at least for a time. I... I don’t know what or where I want to go, but Delmar is a start. I don’t promise that I’ll stay at Delmar, nor even do I promise that something won’t appear on our trip that changes my mind, but what can I do? Now what was your name?” The man looked solemnly at Ito.
“Is it not a sign of the times that men do not greet each other? Another loss to the traditional ways some might say. I’m Khotar, a messenger from Frodac.”
“A northerner eh? Well, this will make for a good conversation on our trip. Come, let us be off.” Ito began a walking stride, as Khotar seemed to sway.
“You don’t wish to gather anything before we leave?”
“What is there to gather Khotar? My house is burnt to cinders, my friends dead. Would you have me pillage the dead?” Khotar slightly lowered his head; Ito’s force of voice was strong.
“I did not mean it that way. Besides, would you not even take a sword in these dangerous times?” Anguish strained Ito’s features. To be without one’s sword or to pillage a dead man?
“I will take a sword, but no more. Let us be off.”
“As you wish.”
Ito looked at the scene around him – it was not a fond scene to have burned into his mind as his last time at his home. The buildings, bodies... yes, Alfray, lying on the ground among other bodies. Alfray had died saving him, and there was no way he could repay the debt owed, nor could he even ask how to repay it.
Khotar and Ito mounted up and rode on away from the coast to Delmar.
Through the forest, with it’s many trees, still standing despite the great tracks of the Hevellian army, to the road to Delmar on a plain, Khotar and Ito were travelling quite a distance, talking all the while.
“So Khotar, you said you were a northerner.”
“Well then, it should be fascinating to hear your perspective on what the Hevellians will do with our king,” came Ito sardonically. Khotar slowed.
“You... I suppose you wouldn’t.”
“Wouldn’t what? Answer Khotar,” beckoned Ito.
“The King... is dead.” A wave of emotions flooded through Ito. It was the end of a part of his life. The King had not been a just man, unlike his predecessor Lars. He had forced Ito on horrible missions, compelled him to take the lives of innocents. Still though, to discard memories of a past time and have them end; it was a complicated matter. Unsure of what to think, Ito simply inquired.
“How did he die?” said a solemn Ito.
“Well, it’s actually a death quite befitting him. When the Hevellians overcame our forces at Delmar, our generals surrendered. The Hevellians clearly wanted to assume power and take over government, and His Majesty was not willing to comply. The King ordered a defence of his castle. But, as you might be aware, the King’s Castle is not one for sieges – it is more about the ornaments and appearing royal. The Hevellians raided the castle and slew the king. It was not even a bloody skirmish The King left this life as he’d lived – with no friend by his side.” Ito smirked, ever so briefly. The King’s death most certainly was of the life he’d lived.
Finally, they came to a bend in the trail through a patch of forest – the road returned. Ito glanced at the dimming sun, then at the nearby stream. It was time to decide whether to press onto a nearby town or camp the night.
“Do we press on, or shall we watch the sun set?”
“We shall watch the sun set. We must never forget the world’s beauty, even at those times of crisis like the present.” Dismounting, Khotar grabbed a bunch of cloth from the saddle, and set to work. Ito also began to toil, and prepare for a long night. Quietly, he searched for kindling, letting the peace of daybreak flow over him. Then came Khotar’s voice.
“Ito, I just realised... how are you going to sleep? You have no cloth, no gear for a camp, you have nothing. How will you survive the night?” The slightest trace of a smile came to the fore of Ito’s face.
“I will sit by a fire, and I will somehow pass away the hours of the night. Maybe I’ll find somewhere comfortable to lie down. I’ve had many nights without any comfortable gear, but I’ve survived. Besides, should not one of us keep watch?”
“I suppose.” Khotar returned to setting up his camp. Ito returned to gathering kindling, the cold chill of the air becoming more noticeable. It would be a long night, a night for reflection.
A majestic site rose above Ito and Khotar. Delmar.
With it’s seeming radiance in the morning sun, and the bustle of side alleys, it seemed a world away from the usual town. But then, it wasn’t a normal town. A burgeoning city, Delmar had expanded past the city walls out into the blossoming countryside, and close to the country’s water supply, the wonderfully flowing River Dandea. Delmar, also doubled as the centre for all government activities, a flourishing centre of the arts, a place of the sciences. Delmar was a great city, changing as the modern world came to it.
Of course, the Hevellians were now in Delmar, and could be seen in many streets. Their presence, seemingly inescapable.
A group of Hevellian guards stopped their approach, just in front of the city gates. Khotar and Ito stopped and watched as 5 guards approached.
“Steady there friends,” came the reassuring, if pointed voice of a Hevellian guard. “Just show us your weapons, tell us your names and you can go.” Khotar said his name, and revealed nothing; he had no weapon. Ito stopped.
“Well?” said the guard. Finally, Ito gave.
“My weapon, a sword. And you may call me Ito.” The guard’s gaze came close, as if his scrutiny was being redoubled. He jotted Ito’s name down on a piece of paper.
“Ito, I will give you a cautionary warning. Don’t use your sword in Delmar. Those with a sword, such as yourself, will be known to all Hevellian watchmen, and they will not tolerate the use of your sword. Are we clear?” Ito stood still. The guard went for his scabbard. “Are we clear Ito?”
“No need to fear, Ito understands, right Ito?” Khotar stated. Ito nodded his head slightly.
They walked into the city of Delmar.
Khotar and Ito stood near a towering statue of King Lars.
“Well Ito, we are here. I don’t know what you will do, but I wish you the best.” Ito glanced up at the statue.
“You know, I don’t know either! I suppose a hired blade might be worth something. I’ll have to see if I can implore the kindess of some friends in the meantime. Good luck to you as well.”
“Thanks Ito. I’ll be in Delmar awhile, so if you need a contact from the north...”
“I know where to go.” Khotar smiled.
“Be seeing you then Ito.” Khotar walked off into the distance. Ito glanced around, his gaze wandering. Hevellians scattered the streets, walking with an unbridled arrogance in their step. The government house to his left was a pit of activity, Hevellian and his people, the Pireha, mingling, likely in a diplomatic wrangle over the arrangements of power. And then, to the south was a Hevellian restaurant, new and enterprising, and over the top of a demolished Pireha building. Nevertheless, Pireha lined up to sample the cuisine they’d only heard of from the tales of traders.
Where were the traditional values disappearing to? Were people so eager to abandon the ways of the past?
Ito stood and pondered. He did not know where he was going, nor what he was going to do, nor why he’d do anything. Did he have any resolve or purpose?
"No my friend, if someone has an ugly mug it's got to be him!" The crowd roared with laughter. The atmosphere was calm and relaxed, a band played lively music off in the corner while a crowd of Hevellian soldiers sat around a man, laughing at his stories.
"Someone buy Ito another round!"
"Ha ha, no thanks friends, I think I've had enough to drink. I best be going - " Ito lowered a mug onto the table, his eyes crossed and bloodshot. His hair was unkempt and was growing down to his neck. The traces of a beard were appearing around his face. He stank of alcohol. Ito had spent more than a month in this cesspit, drinking away his worries and entertaining the Hevellian guests with his fables.
"Had to much to drink?? Ito?? I thought that would be impossible!" a soldier cried out to the guffaws of his comrads.
"You didn't let me finish my sentance friend. I best be going BACK TO THE BAR, HA HA!!" The crowd cheered as Ito stumbled drunkenly over to the bar. He collapsed onto a bar stool and grasped the bartender by the scruff of his shirt.
"Hey friend! Give me another one, eh?"
The bartender grabbed Ito's hand and removed it from his shirt. He glared down at Ito, his mustache bristling.
"I think you've had enough to drink, son."
"No one, and I mean no one tells Ito what to do!"
"Well I'm telling you now, no more drinks."
"Yeah?? Well I served in the royal Delmar army." Ito blubbered.
"Well then, I suppose you return to the army then."
"You telling me what to do again? I told you I didn't like that! At the academy, we was, we was trained in fighting we were! You best watch out!"
Ito raised his left hand and threw a punch.
"Let go of me! Let go of me I say!" Guards dragged a kicking and screaming Ito down the halls of the palace Ito knew so well. His boots and clothes leaving a trail of grease and dirt on the ground. The guards dragged him right into the grand chamber, where the new king sat upon his thrown, his face hidden by shadows. Ito was roughly pushed in front of him.
"Sir, we found this man created quite a bit of ruckus and havoc at the local bar. He had engaged in a fight with the barman. When we arrived at the sight of the commotion, this man here was on the ground weeping after receiving a thorough thrashing by the barman. We would have arrested the barman, but after questioning witnesses we only arrested this man here for initating the fight."
"Thank you, that will be all."
"Yes, sir." The guards gave a brisk salute and walked out of the room.
"I'm, I'm Ito, Seargeant First Class of the Royal Delmar Army!"
"YEAH!! Now who are you coward??"
The man leaned forward out of the shadows and light threw his face into great relief. His high pointed cheekbones, his elongated nose, his bushy eyebrows and long goatee.
"I am the new King of Delmar and Royal reprisentative of Delmar to the Federation of Hevellian States. You can call me, King Lars II"
Ito paused, his head trying to put two and two together.
"So, you outrank me?"
"By quite a bit."
Ito hurridly placed a hand to his forehead and attempted to blink his drunken state away.
"No fear, Ito. I've heard quite a bit about your career. It seems that you have been in Delmar for quite a while, no?"
"A little over a month, sir."
"Excellent, and you were quite a high rank in the army, weren't you?"
"Yes, sir. Seargeant First Class."
"Perfect! Ito, as it seems that you are lacking employment..." the kings eyes lingered over Ito's unkempt hair, the dirt on his clothes and appearance matching that of a vagrant.
"I have a mission for you!"
"Excellent sire! I will perform it to the best of my ability."
"Excellent Ito. What we are going to do, is we need you to link up with your friends in Delmar. We want you to find information on this alleged rebel group that is forming that plans to remove the crown from my head." The king briskly stood up and began pacing behind his chair.
"I will not stand an insurrection against the crown! We want you to find information on them, their plans, their leaders, where they will meet and the sort. Will you undertake this mission for the crown of Delmar"
"Your own people, plotting against you? My lord, I am deeply shocked and saddened by this news!"
The king chuckled in laughter.
"My people? No, no, Ito. My people are way off to the North. These Delmarians aren't my people, my people are the Hevellians."
"The, the Hevellians?"
"Yes, Ito. We have taken over, your country is finished. Now, will you help or not?"
Ito threw his fists at the king.
"I will never help the destroyers of my home!"
The king chuckled again. He lifted his right hand and waggled the fingers at Ito.
"You see this ruby ring, Ito? And this crown? When you graduated from the academy, you kissed this ring and swore eternal fealty and servituted to the king of Delmar, to me. You will serve, or lose your honour and rank. Now, what will it be?"
A dull thud resounded through Ito’s head, pierced by an intermittent gabble of sounds. Words, words being said to him. Honour and fealty... service... Hevellians.
To make a decision of such magnitude was a matter for a sound mind, not for a muddled mind. How had he come to this? Would he die here and now, or serve the Hevellian monarch, and betray his people? Was there another way? He couldn’t disobey - that would be to forsake his honour. But to obey... that would be to go against all his teachings. Frederick, Alfray, he would be slaughtering such men.
All possibility of weighing anything up was beyond Ito. The room blurred slightly before his eyes. But he had to say something. Finally, a response formed, seemingly intuitively.
“I, I will uphold my loyalty to the crown, to the King of Delmar,” said the deferential Ito. A slight grin, perhaps malicious (although Ito could not tell) passed over the king’s face.
“A good choice Ito. You will be rewarded for your service. Guards, escort Ito to his quarters and let him rest awhile. I want him cleaned up, and given a full briefing before he goes out.” A pair of guards suddenly appeared, their brisk pace barely audible.
“Yes your majesty,” said the guards forming up behind him. Ito turned, and walked out of the hall. Now the corridors approached, and Hevellian activity could be seen. Surprisingly though, there seemed quite a number of Pirehas residing in the balance, apparently at the Hevellian beck and call.
Ito wasn’t bothered to speculate in the slightest. He turned into a corridor, it’s carpet speaking volumes of former Pireha glory. In the distance was a Pireha warrior, a man with a striking appearance – sleek, tall, but well built. And behind the welcoming smile, Ito knew well that he was a man of intelligence and cunning.
“Desco!?” spluttered Ito.
“Ah, Ito. Welcome. It is good to see another Pireha joining the king’s service. The Hevellians can do very well with a few upstanding Pireha as examples. Of course, those who join of their own accord, are well rewarded indeed.”
“Whatever do you mean? And where were you when Delmar fell?”
‘Ito, I’m the King’s Champion now! After the pyrrhic victory of the former crown, I helped the Hevellians break through a side gate and overrun the city. I then helped the Hevellians butcher that former idiot on the throne. He deserved to die. Now, I reap the rewards, and their sweetness is beyond description. I have so many things that I desire – wine, women, wealth and more. And you can have such things Ito, over time.”
“But why, why betray your own people Desco?” Desco chuckled.
“Ito, I served the crown for many years. I rose as high as you, and duelled even better. But should I have laid down my life when the Hevellians came? It was a hopeless defence! And more to the point, foolish. The Hevellians have so much to give. Their technology, their ways... mixed with the best of Pireha, can benefit us so much. Far better than dying Ito.”
“I didn’t die.” Desco chuckled again.
“Yes, I know. Just left to die on a desolate battlefield, before drinking to oblivion for a month. Yeah, you’re doing great Ito.” Drunk and disorderly. How had Ito come to it?
“Where do I rest Desco?”
“This way...” Desco began walking.
Ito felt great.
He had cleaned himself up, had a mission, and was ready to serve. And those benefits Desco spoke of... perhaps they would be very nice indeed.
First though, he had to meet his acquaintances. Likely in their tea shop playing a game of shogi, while discussing important matters. Not exactly a hard task. Gripping his shining sword, Ito stepped out into the bustling streets of Delmar, the gentle sun blinding him temporarily. He hadn’t been outside for a month. The sweet air, the aroma of flowers and the temptation of hot food from a stall. Imprisonment for his country? Could it really be worth losing all of this.
Weaving his way through the busy cobblestone streets, Ito glanced around at every opportunity. It was surprisingly peaceful. Hevellians and the Pireha seemed to be mingling together - no violence, no distrust. Truly, the very centre of Delmar was a great place. He kept walking, until he was near the outer suburbs, which seemed to have a lot of Pirehas, and few Hevellians.
There was a thunderous crash as an armed Pireha swordsmen was thrown into a wall, crushing a stall. The woman at the stall screamed. At that moment 2 groups of swordsmen began hacking away in the middle of the street. One swordsmen threw a knife, which barely missed a fleeing citizen. Pandemonium raged as citizens scrambled to flee the scene.
A squad of Hevellians guards burst in, surrounding the duelling groups. Swiftly, they had the groups restrained, and the citizens had returned. A group of young Pireha women hugged the guards, tears running from their eyes.
“You saved us from the savages,” cried a lady. The guard smiled heartily.
“Please, it’s all in a days work Madam. But it is nice to hear thanks from one such as yourself.” He smiled again. His face then drew serious as he turned to his men. “Men, let’s be off with these hounds!”
Ito was glad to be away, and grateful for the Hevellian intervention. Finally, he was outside a welcoming tea shop, and could glimpse shogi boards inside. He smiled at the doorman.
“Isagi, good to see you!” he beamed. Isagi broke from his impassive face, just a little.
“Ito, to what do we owe the pleasure of your company?”
“I’m just here to reminisce with some friends, remember some good times, and play a game of shogi against Robre.” Isagi’s face retained just the hint of a knowing smile.
“No, I meant where have you been? You were last seen dragged to imprisonment, to that Hevellian monarch. What’s happened Ito?” His face grew colder, sharper. Ito began to get nervous.
“Just a small incident Isagi. Nothing happened.”
“Don’t lie Ito.” Suddenly, a group of people seemed to be glaring at him. The whole world of his former friends eyeing his suspiciously. He couldn’t take it, the destruction of all former trust.
“Alright! The King asked me to quell an assassination plot you’re planning! I would have been killed otherwise! Just, just let me keep up appearance, and I can help you!”
“What? Why not?” He grabbed Isagi’s collar, eyes wide open. Isagi thrust him onto the pavement. Armed swordsmen appeared next to Isagi. Behind Isagi, was a wisened figure, a man of great knowledge – Iroh. He spoke.
“Why not? Because you chose to serve a Hevellian monarch.”
“It was on the fealty of the ring! I would have died otherwise!” Ito’s voice cried out from the rough cobblestone, looking up at the seemingly towering figures above.
“Your death would have been honourable. You might just have slayed the king yourself. And the ring? Only applicable for a Pireha, not a Hevellian. You showed dishonour Ito, and the ways of a traitor when you accepted your mission. Yet another good man corrupted.”
“How many have been corrupted. I saw Desco, the King’s Champion, and a bustling palace...” Iroh looked sternly at him, before his face turned mournful.
“You have no idea, fool!” he shouted, his voice laced with anger. “Do you know what’s been happening in the month you were a drunkard? The Hevellians have been recruiting upstanding Pireha like yourself. They have been young, alluring Pireha ladies to be seen publicly adoring the Hevellians. There’s a great deal of corruption, all to create a false image – manipulation of the mind. Have you seen the centre of Delmar? Seemingly a paradise, and seemingly of the Hevellians. Did you notice violence on your way here? The Hevellians have bought out many Pireha and are paying them to act as savages, who can only be quelled by the ‘wonderful’ Hevellian guards. All of this, all of these illusions are helping destroy all Pireha life, all Pireha traditions in Delmar. We are becoming like them by the minute. And you fell for them.”
“Leave!” shouted Iroh.
Ito scrambled away.
Ito stumbled blindly through the streets, his mind abuzz. Was it true? Had he really been corrupted by the Hevellians? Was he betraying his country? Or was he just fulfilling his duty. Ito stumbled down the alley ways, people on the side of the street watching him as he collapsed in the middle of the road, his conscience fragmented in two.
“Ito, what has happened to you? Iroh was right, you have been corrupted. How dare you serve the Hevellians? The destroyers of your fore-fathers and their fathers lands?”
“Don’t listen to that fool Ito, you must serve the king. No matter his nationality, he is still the king.”
Ito looked to the left and right, to the left a rebellious Ito decked out in battle armour stood, beckoning him forth. To the right, an Imperial Guard Ito stood, his heels together and his arm outreached, beckoning Ito forward.
“Ito, you served the King of Delmar, not the Hevellian puppet Lars II. You see his arrogance Ito? Naming himself after the best king of Delmar, the champion of the people? You see how he takes his name and just drags it through the mud and claims it as his own? How can you serve someone like that? He is nowhere near the king Lars was.”
Rebellious Ito kneeled next to Ito, with an outstretched hand. Suddenly, Imperial Guard Ito smacked the hand away and stood in front of Ito, shielding him from the Rebellious Ito.
“Don’t listen to this rebellious cur, your duty is to the people and the crown! Does it matter who sits on the throne as long as the seat is filled? The people don’t need to know of the Hevellian ploys, they are happy. Do you want to throw them into a war, filling the streets with death and rivers of blood?”
“The streets are already full of blood and you know it Imperial Ito. The streets were flooded with it when the Hevellians first started raiding our lands. They destroyed towns, razed cities, killed our citizens, and stole our women, land, and children. How can you serve people like this? Is this fair?”
Imperial Ito put his hand on his sword and sneered at Rebellious Ito.
“You are as ignorant as you look. Do you not remember Delmar’s roots, our people’s roots? We were the ones who drove the Hevellians to the North and driven them to a barbarism. Was King Lar’s death fair? Was Alfray’s death fair? Was the destruction of our town fair? No, it wasn’t. But fairness is not the decision maker in our universe. Fairness is not an universal law.”
Rebellious Ito pulled out a dagger.
“You are the fool! Fairness may not be a law, but does that mean you should not fight for it? You need to fight for fairness, fight for equality, and fight for the people of Delmar!”
Imperial Ito drew his sword.
“No! You will serve the King, you will serve the crown, you will protect the people, even if it means serving the Hevellians.”
“NO!! You will join the rebels, you cannot just give in to this propagandized fool”
Imperial Ito dashed forward, raising his sword above his head. Rebellious Ito drew a second dagger and rolled to the side. Imperial Ito’s sword clashed into the ground, smacking into cobblestones. He turned his head and saw Rebellious Ito barrel-rolling to the side. Rebellious Ito quickly picked himself up and raised his daggers warily. Imperial Ito raised his sword again, and charged at Rebellious Ito, crying out “For the KING!!”. Rebellious Ito dashed forward, “For DELMAR!!” he cried. Swords clashed over a crumpled Ito, his hands over his ears, his eyes shut tight.
Rebellious Ito feinted with his daggers to the left. Imperial Ito took the bait, and raised his sword to block an attack that never came. Ito’s second dagger came from the right, but the glint of sliver caught Imperial Ito’s eye. He quickly dodged, but not quick enough, a cut appearing on his cheek. He growled at Rebellious Ito and threw himself into the fray once more.
Ito sat on the ground, watching his fractured psych battle a battle to the death. Glints of steel, a clash of iron, sparks and animalistic growling filled Ito’s senses. Whom should he listen to? Should he betray the crown for his people? Or should he stay true to his pledge to the crown?
Rebellious Ito fell to the ground in a grunt of pain. Imperial Ito’s sword had swept upward and had caught Rebellious Ito on the foot. Rebellious Ito was lifted off his feet and collapsed to the ground, his foot bleeding badly. Imperial Ito stood over his limp body, smiling, flecks of blood on his face. Imperial Ito raised his broadsword and was about to strike Rebellious Ito through the heart. He paused and turned to Ito. He smiled and handed his sword to him.
“This decision is your Ito, strike Rebellious Ito down, or strike me down.” Imperial Ito backed away, smiling. Ito looked down at the bloodstained sword in his hand. All of Ito’s life it seemed had revolved around a sword. Ito pushed himself up to his feet and walked over and stood on top of Rebellious Ito. Imperial Ito walked up behind Ito.
“It is time to choose Ito, what will you choose?”
I thank my opponent for an extremely exciting and interesting story debate. I also thank the voters for reading through this story, but VOTE CON!
“What will you choose?”
The apparitions faded away, their poignant touch still fresh in Ito’s mind. It was time to make a decision. But it wasn’t a rational matter. What did he want?
Then, with a flash of inspiration, Ito gripped his sword, unsheathed it, and let it glint in the sun. His blade would make a difference. Ito sheathed the blade, and strode off, a purpose in his step. The city whirled around him.
A moment of peace, of purpose, a moment when life seemed so sharp. To cling to these moments, to provide a purpose to one’s life… Ito tried to, but these moments faded away. Drifted into the recesses of his mind, and lingered as barely a remnant of his life. The overwhelming force of reality rolled in, predictable as the sun’s rise.
And then the moment was over.
But he would cling to that moment. He would not let it become but a charred remnant of some former time.
The world came back. Hevellian and Pireha voices floated through the air, their piercing touch mellowed by flowing water moving round a fountain. Hevellian and Pireha mingled on the fountain edge. A Hevellian male, sitting next to a Pireha lady, leaned over. The lady seemed to hesitate just slightly, and then leaned in as well. Ito looked away. It would not do to drift in thought too long.
A majestic palace loomed above - The king’s castle. Ito approached the guards on duty.
“Ito, how’d the day go?”
“They are senile fools. Did you think I’d fail?” The guards chuckled.
“We never doubted you Ito. Anyhow, go in, don’t let us keep you waiting.” Ito walked in, passing through the courtyard. Above the courtyard was a balcony that extended the entire perimeter of the courtyard. In the courtyard were a group of radiant fountains, all of elegant design. The sight was wonderful. It disappeared as he walked into a corridor. A labyrinthine maze of corridors. Ito navigated through the maze, moving ever closer to the centre. Occasionally a guard or two passed by, lackadaisical in their stride. Ito continued on with purpose. Finally, he approached the central area, and a guard stopped him.
“Ito, why do you come unannounced?” asked the guard, his face stern, the way ahead blocked. Warily, Ito slowly lowered his hand, moving closer to his scabbard.
“The King demands my presence. Go check with him yourself fool.” The guard’s eyes narrowed slightly, and his voice came to a menacing tone.
“The King is not here. He’s strolling the courtyard. He wouldn’t have you come here now.”
There was a second of seeming calm. It was pierced by realisation on both faces.
“Ito you traitor…” Ito leapt forward, his blade with him. The guard rushed for his blade, but he was too slow. In a second, the cream carpet lay stained with crimson blood. Ito withdrew his bloodied blade, and hurried away. He had to get to the courtyard. He began running.
A guard turned into Ito’s corridor, ahead of him. His face seemed to drift into shock, paralysed by the limp body. Ito drew his sword and prepared to run him through. The guard screamed. Then he was impaled.
Blast it. Ito began running. Guards would be coming to tear him asunder, forever. It was time to escape. But he couldn’t just escape and have done nothing. He had to go after the King.
Ito tore through the corridors. Guards approached. He swerved. The guards started crying for help. Within a mere minute he was hopelessly lost and weaving through corridors. Behind him was a merciless group of Hevellian and Pireha swordsmen. There was no way to face the 10 soldiers following him. It was certain death.
Or was it? Was there a way to hold off 10 soldiers?
There was. He had to blockade a corridor wide enough for only one soldier to come at him. Of course, if he were ever pushed out of a corridor… Ito didn’t have time to work out the details as guards chased, but it was an idea. He raced to the courtyard.
Finally he came to a narrow corridor, one that led out to the balcony above the courtyard. Wide enough for only 1, Ito could hold, so long as no solider forced him out onto the balcony, when other soldiers would pour through and slay him. If he dealt with all the soldiers he would jump into the courtyard and slay the king. The first soldier, a Hevellian, entered the corridor.
“Come at me demon!” shouted Ito defiantly.
And then began the flow of battle.
The first soldier came forward, his strokes fierce, but lacking in technique. He fell quickly. A Pireha approached next. And so on and on went the battle, Ito’s fury, determination and skills driving him onto a maddening, continuous set of strokes. Occasionally he was forced back, and sometimes he pressed forward. Ito was like a man standing against the pull of the ocean tide, but he was holding for the time. Then, suddenly, he was at the corridor’s end, a Hevellian pressing hard against him as he tired.
Ito stepped back onto the balcony.
The guard slashed forward simultaneously, stumbling into empty space. Ito slew him and hastily re-entered the corridor. The guards held back. Ito began to catch his breath.
“Enough!” shouted Desco. “You fools, you utter weaklings, can stay back and let me slay Ito.” An almost palpable fear coursed through Ito’s body – Desco was more than a match. Desco began to walk forward.“You can’t do this Desco. You can’t just slay a fellow countryman who’s fighting for you.” Desco chuckled, as he always seemed to.
“Oh, I can Ito, I can…” came his dark voice. He took another step. The flow of fear seemed to increase in Ito.
“Desco, together we can slay these guards and kill the king here and now! But only together. Come, fight for your country and reclaim our lives!”
“Ito, those lives, that existence, is gone, forever. We can’t reclaim it, and I don’t want to. I love the rewards of my work now. I have what I want. And do you know what will happen if we succeed and kill the king Ito? We’ll be surrounded by Hevellians and die. You’re a fool Ito, a fool who doesn’t realise that the past is gone.” Ito’s face, trembling with fear, straightened, as if to a resigned look. He drew into a fighting stance.
“If I can’t convince, then I must slay you.”
“If you can.”
Desco leapt forward, and their blades clashed. Desco rained down a torrent of blows upon Ito, forcing him back. Slowing fractionally, Desco’s halt was enough for Ito to leap into a slash. With terrifying elegance and precision the duellists fought, cut and parry, counter and riposte, all in a narrow corridor. Finally, Desco leapt forward, and cut Ito’s arm lightly, drawing blood.
Then he came with more blows.
Out of position, it was all Ito could do to merely block and retreat. He blocked with all his strength, but he was forced back nonetheless. Desco’s blinding skill with the sword was just too much. Desco struck again, and Ito again parried, the duel resuming again. Ito drew apart a few seconds later.
Both he and Desco were out on the balcony, the sweeping courtyard below, the low balcony railing next to them. Guards began to walk through the corridor. Desco turned.
“Don’t. I want to take care of Ito, personally.” Deferentially, the guards held back. Ito kept his eye firmly on Desco.
“This is the perfect chance Desco. You block the corridor, I slay the king…”
“No Ito. You’re a fool to the end, even if a brave one.”
Ito struck first.
Ito struck forward, his blows furious, determined, a hint of barbaric force behind them. It was everything he had. He struck, and struck again, and again. Desco held. Then Ito faltered. Desco struck, and Ito’s momentum was gone, his force dissipated. Desco began a piercing hail of blows and…
Ito was pressed hard against the balcony rail. His sword interlocking with Desco’s. It was a matter of strength, but Ito had no footing, no place to move. Desco pushed. The flat of Ito’s blade pressed evermore against himself, Desco pushed harder.
And then Ito toppled over the balcony.
Ito tumbled head over heels. The world slowed to a stop. Ito’s sword flew from his hand. Desco peered over the balcony, watching Ito fall. Ito’s hands flailed in the air, his feet swinging as if he was swimming. Ito blinked, and his life flashed before him.
5 years old, Ito lay on the cobblestoned road crying. His knee clutching his knees. His father walked over to him and quietly withdrew Ito’s hands. Ito’s knee had been scraped red raw. His father raised his finger and wiped Ito’s tears from his face.
“Son, real men don’t cry. Don’t worry, this will heal. Your dignity won’t.” Ito sobbed louder.
“But, but it hurts!”
“Shh, I know Ito. You just will have to take it like a man, don’t cry.” His father picked him up and put him on his shoulders. “Let’s take you to your momma, she’ll be able to fix you up.
Ito continued to fall. He flipped in mid-air, his head lifted up to the sky. There were many stars in the sky that night. He blinked again.
10 years old, Ito stands in the doorway of his house, his mother with a hand on his shoulder, his father a hand on his other. Ito was dressed in a beautiful navy blue buttoned up uniform, he wore black dress pants, a white dress shirt, and a black tie. It was his first day at the academy. Ito clutched at his mother’s skirt.
“But mom, I don’t want to go!” his mother gently pulled her skirt from Ito’s hands.
“Ito, you are a man! This is your duty, everybody does this.”
“But I don’t want to leave home!”
“You won’t be leaving home, all your little friends will be going to. Alfray is going!” Ito’s hung head picked up.
“Alfray is going?”
“Of course! He’s a boy, isn’t he?” Ito burst out laughing.
“Of course he is mama!” Ito’s mother patted his hair and pulled him close into a tight hug.
“Then what’s the problem? All your friends will be there, and we’ll be able to see you at the end of the year! We’ll send you letters every week!” Ito pulled his head out of his mother’s grasp.
“Promise every week?” His mother smiled widely.
Ito removed himself from his mother’s grasp and ran to his father. He gave his father a quick hug and dashed out of the house. A carriage stood outside, waiting for him. The horses neighed impatiently. Standing outside of the carriage stood a tall, muscular man.
“Hello Ito, I will be your headmaster, my name if Frederick.”
Ito was rapidly approaching the ground. He couldn’t be more than 10 meters away. He saw the fountain below him, spraying water into the air. It was a beautiful garden, and a beautiful fountain.
Ito was 15 years old. His parents had stayed truthful to their words and had sent letters every week. But one week, the letters stopped coming.
Frederick pulled Ito from his class into his private study. He sat at his desk and solemnly looked at Ito. Frederick spoke. Ito’s shoulders slumped, his eyes died, his smile faded. Frederick’s mouth moved again, Ito unable to hear the words.
Ito sat in the chair in front of Fredericks desk, sobbing uncontrollably. Fredrick tried to console him, a futile effort.
It was a rainy day. Ito stood in front of two stones, Frederick and Alfray next to him. A preacher stood behind them, reading from his bible. Ito’s tears mixed with the rain.
Ito’s body smashed against the fountain. He cracked right through the fountain and smashed into the cobblestone ground. Water started spurting every which way, soaking Ito’s unconscious body.
The crowd gathered, milling around in the town square listening intently to the town crier. In the middle of the square a large wooden platform had been made, rising high above the heads of the crowd. On the platform stood an odd assortment of three men. One had a black hood over his head with holes for his eyes and mouth. He wore a leather shirt, pants, and heavy work boots. The second was the town crier, wearing his silly hat and button up shirt. The third was a muscular man wearing a simple cloth shirt and pants. He had a black hood over his head, hiding his identity to the crowd. The town crier had a large scroll and was reading from it, his voice reaching everyone’s ears.
“For crimes against the crown, this man has been found guilty and has been convicted. Thus, he will face the ultimate penalty for treason, death.” The crowd cheered, another public hanging added some drama to their dull days.
King Lars II watched the hanging from his palace window, a wide smile on his face. The rebels had been betrayed and all the players were arrested and hung in front of the crowds. After this man was hung, the rebellion would be officially over.
The hangman slipped the thick noose over the man’s neck. He guided the man over to the trap door and stood him over it. He slowly plodded back to a lever in the platform, once pulled it would open the trapdoor. The town crier turned to the condemned man.
“Do you have any last words?”
The man raised his head to the direction of the town crier.
The town crier turned to the hangman and nodded. The hangman put his calloused hands over the lever and pulled. The trapdoor suddenly opened, and the man swung, Ito’s feet almost touching the ground. His body was removed as soon as his feet stopped twitching.
King Lars II turned his back and sighed satisfied. The rebellion died with that man. He turned and sat on the throne. He relaxed and leaned back, inspecting the chamber. The tiger rug really was quite clean he remarked. “Desco!!” he cried. Desco ran down the halls of the castle as fast as he could, dashing into the chamber.
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