Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sensory Stones - Part I

Once there was a man who simply would not die for good. He would roam around looking for answers and find himself killed, by accident or deliberately. Then he would simply wake up again on a slab in some morgue forgetting everything there is in this world, including himself. But most of all, he always wondered what made him immortal in the first place.

He did not know what previous incarnations have done and how closer they are to the truth. Sometimes he stumbled upon the kindness of his previous self, and sometimes he discovered the horrible deeds his cruel self had done. Nevertheless, he made it his personal quest to find the truth.

One day he came upon the Public Sensorium while exploring the city he always find himself awake in. The Sensorium held 'sensory stones' - magical stones which held specific feelings and experiences of those willing to share them for visitors of the Sensorium to experience. These stones appeared like normal rocks, apart from the familiar glow they emit, and they are set on waist-high pedestals.

The man approached on the stones. They title card on the pedestal read: 'mind-numbing tedium'. He placed his hand on the surface of the stone and closed his eyes.

The experience couldn't be more than a few minutes long, but hours seemed to pass... a long, boring lecture in the driest, dustiest hall in the University of Chalm. I looked about the vast hall, hoping to catch someone's eye to pull a face at - but the other students were either asleep or staring listlessly into space. I dropped my quill pen, picked it up, and dropped again... just for something to do. I considered stabbing myself in the eye with it, just to see if my sense hadn't been wholly numbed by the incredible boredom...

Perhaps there was some benefit in not remembering, an immortal's years must include long stretches of tedium.

The man touched the experience 'bitter loathing'.

Venomous tears of pain brimming in my narrow yellow eyes, I gathered the tattered remains of my small, scaled, red wings off the floor. I humbly backed out of Groba's studyy, gritting my needle-like teeth beneath sealed lips.

Sure, I was only a spinagon - least among devils - but that was no cause for Groba to tear my wings off because he didn't like the message I had brought him! What would my master do, now? He certainly couldn't say anything to Groba, and what use was a spinagon without its wings? I would probably get cast into the Pit of Flame for "incompetence"!

Vengeance out of the question, there was little to do but shake my clawed fist and hate, hate, hate Groba with all the loathing my hard little black devil's heart could muster...

Besides the many the immortal man had killed in his lives, there must have been others, the friends and lovers of those he killed, anyone who stood in his way, who had loathed him.

The experience 'pure glee'.

Dancing and leaping about in a rhythm with the wood elves' bouncing festival music, I and a dozen other dancers spun through the forest clearing like a whirling dervish, smiling and laughing like mad. As the cheering forest dwellers whooped, clapped and danced alongside me, fairies careened through the air above our heads, leaving sparkling trails of coloured light...

The man was in a rare good mood for some minutes after this experience.

The experience 'consuming impatience'.

I stood debating with Amnas the Horribly Slow, who is the keeper of the Lion Key, as to whether or not my quest was important enough for him to relinquish the key into my care. The whole experience was an exercise in sheer torment... each and every one of his words was followed by a significant pause; each and every point he made was reiterated time and again before he let me speak. I presented an argument... then waited, and waited, and waited while he made his counterpoint. To which I shot out a snappy counterpoint of my own... then must wait yet again for another of Amnas's drawling, meandering, seemingly endless counterpoint. It was everything I could do not to simply lop his head off and snatch the key from his corpse...

This reminded the man of his frustration at not being able to read the language in which the journal he found was written.

The experience 'horrible regret'.

I stood on the deck of my flagship, the Divine Hammer, as it floated over the continent of Agarheim, held aloft by the winds. The very landscape roiled and shuddered beneath the bombardment of my fleet, one thousand ships' cannons and bombards hurling their sorcerous fire down like vengeful beings. The shockwaves had begun to hit my ship only minutes ago - a constant vibration that sent shudders through the whole of the ancient craft and moved my very bones - accompanied by a constant, rumbling bass. As the land's mountains began to sink and the seas that surrounded it began to boil off  into the atmosphere, my first officer came to stand beside me.

"My Lord Admiral... permission to speak freely, sir."

I nodded my acquiescence, my stomach sinking as I guessed at his question.

"My lord... forgive me, but how? What gives us the right? A billion lives..."

I spoke without turning to him, unable to take my eyes off Rhumos, the nation's vast capital city, as it vapourised into a cloud of super-heated gasses twelve miles across and growing ever-wider. "If you only knew the full treachery of the Agarites, First Officer Felm, one which is beyond most any man's comprehension... then you would know. You would speak of our right to annihilate them? We've no right to let them live."

"But... sir? Traitors, all of them? Surely, among the hundreds of thousands. How many innocents--"

"Silence! Speak of it no more - our king has spoken, His will be done. The task set to us is a horrible one, not fit for contemplation or questioning. There is no room for pity, no room for remorse - only duty."

The two of us stood silently for a time, watching the last minutes of Agarheim. At long last I sighed... a low, stuttering exhalation that sounded as if something had broken inside me. Beneath the brazen plate that covered the ruined half of my face, my dead eye began to weep...

"Falm... my friend... I would have you understand. I know now, as I look down at what I have wrought here, that were I to think upon what I have done... what I have truly done... I would be struck mad. A deed such as this... the anguish would overwhelm, destroy me. So, First Officer Falm, it must be that there are no innocents in Agarheim... no mothers, no children, no people. Only traitors. Vile, cunning traitors, who deserve no less than the full brunt of our King's wrath. Do you understand this?"

"Y-yes, m'lord."

"Good. Now go... I wish to be alone, here."

"By your command, Lord Admiral." Falm bowed his head and returned below deck, leaving me to stand over the end of a civilisation.

The fact that this experience was here at all in this hall indicated the admiral must later have had second thoughts. The crime committed was horrible, awful, almost inconceivable, yet the man wondered whether he had done worse.

(image credit: Rachel-17 @ deviantART)  

0 echoes:

Post a Comment


Realtime Comments