Monday, 9 February 2015

Pictonaut Feb 2015 one

This month the pictonaut concludeth. An era is coming to an end. A bloody and terrible end.


The Final Stories.

The first.

I hear stories, four stories. They vary infinitely in detail, in character, in scope, but they share heart, four hearts. I do not ask for them, I do not want them, but I do not begrudge them being passed on to me. People want their stories to be known. They want their lives to continue on without them. They want meaning and think they can gain it from other's approval. They all of them, each one, think themselves unique, individual, their tales never before told. But they are always the same, one of no more than four. I row, they speak, I listen, they finish, I leave, they end. This will never change. There will never be anything new. I have heard it all before.

This one gets into my boat and I can see his story before he even begins. He is righteous and he is proud. These are the most difficult, they tend to get emotional, he may even cry. His long blonde hair is caked with blood and mud, honest mess from a worthy cause, I have no doubt. Or rather, he has no doubt. I have no interest. He steps and sits and the boat rocks for a moment. I like to wait for it to settle before I begin. It adds gravitas to the moment, the pathos of the gliding motion across the lake, almost ethereal. He is stoic for the moment. He thinks me beneath his tale, perhaps he thinks all things beneath him. No matter. I shall enjoy the silence while I have it and revere the moment as it deserves. In time, he speaks.

"I am wronged, am I not?" he tells me. It is not a question so I shall not supply him with an answer.
"It is not for me to say," I say with truth. It is all I shall say. I will not interrupt him in his journey again.
"Nevertheless, it is so. What crime have I committed? Murder? I have slain those that would slay me, those that would slay my people. I am a leader, responsible for those I command. Are they guilty? Are they criminals? They did nothing but protect themselves, protect their country and their king.
"People have died, it is true, and it is regrettable. But they did not die in vain and they were not murdered in cold blood. We must all come to our end, and if that end is justified, is purposeful, then so are the means and the time.
"My life has been a good one I am sure. I have stood upon the field of battle, stained in blood not all my own. I saw the slain around me, friend and foe, and it mattered not, the day was lost. But the fight was a good one and had to be fought, must be fought again. I saw a man stretching out his arm, an enemy, alive and in need of help. I was the only able body in sight, so I went to him. He was a brother in the making of history that day, and though he had chosen to murder, to oppress, I helped the man as best I could."

I have met this man already, ferried him as I must. He spoke of my current charge's mercy with fondness.

"I have been able to look my wife and child in the face and say 'I have done my best for you'. She did not see it that way. She could not see the need for killing, she did not understand my part, the necessity that I was at the front line. I risked losing her to continue in my calling. In the end, I have lost her and my child, I have lost everything for I have lost the war. But I treated my family with love and I have begun the work that will hold them above the tides of evil even once I'm passed.
"The heat of war lies still against my cheek. It shall keep me warm through any torment that might be delivered to me here. I have right on my side, and such a man cannot be broken. I have led the life laid out to me, the right and proper path, and if any are at fault it is fate, it is justice and not me."

We have arrived at this man's final destination and he has begun bargaining, pleading in his own way, just as all those who tell his tale do. I can give him nothing he asks for and shortly, his desperation will succumb to anger and he will posture and threaten. It will change nothing. None has power here.

"Know this priest! I shall return from this to complete my work. No box can hold me immemorial. The gods are with me. I asked for rain and they sent a flood, I asked for grain and they filled my ships with wheat. I have asked for victory, and perhaps you think the deities have turned fickle on me and ignored my prayers. But rest assured that to be brought here by the likes of you is only to put me closer to those above. I will pray for my freedom and they will grant it. I will rise from this murky cave triumphant."

He does not understand. He thinks me what I am not. He shall not return from this place and somewhere inside of him, he knows this to be true. Over time the realisation will dawn on him and he will start to let go of justifications, excuses. He will lose his cause, his purpose, his memories will fade until, in time, there is nothing of him left. It is an exquisite torture. I will come to his box then, the one I open now, barely big enough for him to squat inside, the last thing he shall ever know. I shall come to it with another soul and it will be waiting, empty.

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