The Heroes of Rokan-Jin
Zeru's Arguments With Himself
((also known as “Zeru’s Gollum Moments” XD))
Zeru, the self-proclaimed “Ghostwalker of the Great Hare Tribe”, had just fallen asleep when he found himself staring into a gray hazy eternity, through which tiny snowflakes were appearing and falling on him. All was quiet around him, and the air was still, lacking any biting wind. Not that it would have bothered him, of course. He sat up and looked around, but found nothing but flat ground in the surrounding area. The haze was fairly thick and limited how far he could see. He tried to shift into his war form to take advantage of the enhanced senses, but found himself strangely unable to do so. His spirit form was equally uncooperative. He panicked a bit as his got to his feet.
“Hello?!” he called out into the fog, then immediately regretted it, fearing that he might somehow have awoken in the Wyld. Regardless, there was no reply, save for a faint echo. “Is anyone here?” he inquired in a much softer tone. Further silence followed for several uncomfortable minutes. Then, another voice startled him from behind, and he spun around, ready to defend himself, despite apparently lacking any weapons or even clothing.
“Yes,” came a familiar voice from the haze. A dark figure, equally familiar, yet intimidating, emerged from obscurity into plain view before him- his warform. It was like looking in a mirror, but watching his reflection talk back. “You are here. And that’s the problem.”
“You-… but-… how-?!” Zeru stammered, backing away slightly. “This is some kind of fae trick!”
“No, it is not. There is no Wyld here. Only you, me, and the Truth,” the warform said, in a way that somehow made the capital T audible. “You can call me Valdis. I have been watching over you for some time now, Zeru, and you are wavering into weakness. And now that the Truth has been presented to us, I want to make sure that you embrace it for what it is, and not let weakness turn you away.”
“You… you’re talking about that Shining One aren’t you?”
“Yes. He has revealed what we have suspected all along,” Valdis replied, then took several steps closer. “Death is the way. It is not truly about vengeance. You know that. Death is merely a release, from the evil of the Fair Folk. After all, they cannot corrupt what is already there. You must free the Bull and your Icewalker cousins from their vile influence, and then eventually, the world. Truly you should thank them, for removing your family from true harm’s way.”
“No… no, I just… they must be avenged! How do I know you aren’t a fae yourself?!” Zeru snapped.
“If I were one of them as you claim, why would I be trying to free you of your attachments, rather than using them to torture you? The demons of chaos would never want you to abandon their traps,” Valdis went on, then chuckled darkly. “It is ironic, their constant war on creation. For without worldly attachments for creation’s people to cling to, the fae would have no tools with which to torture sustenance out of their victims.”
Zeru stood in deep thought for a minute, slowly relaxing from his battle stance. “That… is true…”
“Indeed.” Valdis walked closer, now directly in front of him. “So let go of your anger, your hatred. And your love and compassion, for that matter. Those are the weapons of your only true enemy- the fae. Instead embrace death and the Shining One’s wisdom. We should sew the seeds of oblivion, for the good of everyone.”
With a clawed hand suddenly resting on his shoulder, Zeru couldn’t help but feel some kind of weight slipping away from him. All of this information did make sense, he had to admit. Still though, he couldn’t help but feel something was wrong, missing even.
Suddenly a white flash knocked the war-form’s arm away. Valdis snarled and glared in the direction the entity had landed in. Zeru turned to see what it was, and saw another familiar creature- his spirit form. “Snowflake?” he found himself saying without even thinking about it.
The fox turned and eyed them both. “Yes. I am Snowflake. As are you, of course,” he confirmed. “And you should not heed the lies you have been told.”
“Silence, whelp!” Valdis snapped. “Scrawny morsels like yourself should stay quiet when there are predators around!” He suddenly lunged at the spirit form, but missed the little white blur as it leaped up and ran along his arm, jumping nimbly off his back.
“Tisk-tisk! Such a display of anger and hatred! Weren’t you just saying something about that?” the fox chided, with a faint smirk as it looked back over its shoulder at Valdis. “Such hypocrisy I would expect from the Bull, but not you,” he taunted, then turned back towards Zeru. “Don’t surrender to oblivion, Zeru. Your parents didn’t. Your tribe didn’t. They stood for life. And when they time came-”
He was interrupted as Valdis lunged at him again. Yet Snowflake dodged easily out of the way again, and ran up his arm once more. The beast spun and clawed at him, but the little fox swung around his arm and pranced up to his head. “-they fought for it!” the fox continued, then jumped up just in time to avoid a swift blow that instead comically struck Valdis between the ears.
“Yes, and you know where that led them!” Valdis snapped angrily, then quickly managed to grab the fox by the tail and hurl him into the fog. Without even an audible thud to precede it, the white blur returned and bit his leg. The warform quickly lifted the assaulted limb and attempted to catch the sailing fox out of the air, but found his hand bitten instead, and his arm yet again used as a bridge to his shoulder. “You’re only leading him back into weakness!”
“The only weakness here is in accepting the easy way out!” the fox scoffed, then attached himself to Valdis’s other claw as it was again swung at him. “There is no strength in forsaking your own life!”
Suddenly the air seemed colder and the warform’s eyes narrowed, glowing slightly. “Perhaps not,” it agreed in a sudden quiet tone, temporarily surprising Snowflake long enough to throw the little fox off its guard. “But then strength is only needed in life, and bringing the peace of death to others has its rewards.”
At that moment, with a flash of movement so quick that time seemed to skip a few beats, the fox had been grabbed by the tail and hurled back into the mist of Zeru’s dream realm at breakneck speed. As Snowflake’s body vanished into the fog, a loud crack, somewhat akin to thunder, shook everything, and black veins of darkness started bleeding out into reality from the direction he’d flown. With a satisfied smirk, Valdis turned his attention back to the bewildered and immensely uncomfortable Zeru. “Just let me out, Zeru. Let me take over for you. You need not suffer any longer. You can at last sleep peacefully, while I deal with the world for you. No more pain, no more guilt, no more bad memories, no more fitful nightmares consuming you. I will be your guardian angel, your savior. I will bring peace to you, and then through you, to everyone else. No more conquerors that prey on innocent little girls. No more helpless mortals dragged off to be tortured at the hands of the fae. No more foolish soft city folk thinking they are better than the beasts they cower from behind their walls. All you have to do… is let me out.”
Zeru felt weaker than ever before- well, save once, of course- and had to admit the offer was extremely tempting. He founds himself shakily reaching towards Valdis, nearly ready to give in. Though he fought hard to hide it in the real world, the truth was, he was just a terrified little boy inside who was incredibly tired of everything the world had flung at him since even before he was a teenager. A strong protector come to take it all away was all he really wanted now…
But just as everything around them had gone black, a massive flash of white light with a silvery-blue edge shattered everything. Grassy terrain reappeared around them, albeit broken into pieces in a swirled gray void that pushed Zeru and Valdis apart. Again, everything shook and a deafening roar of sound erupted from all directions. Valdis howled in pain as three tiny glowing blue scratches appeared over one eye. On another of the floating islands, Snowflake turned around, snarling at his much larger foe.
The two growled fiercely at one another for a few moments, then leaped at one another. Amazingly, the little fox somehow managed to grab Valdis by the arm after dodging a blow mid-air by extending his claws several times their normal length, and, despite the size difference, threw the warform over him onto another island, head-first. “YOU are a LIE! If he embraces death on his own, so be it. But I will NOT allow you to corrupt him from within!!” he snarled as he struck an amusing human-like battle-ready pose.
With a pained groan, Valdis picked himself up. He then started to chuckle lightly. “You paint me as unnatural, but look at you. Such a hypocrite!”
“Shut it!” Snowflake snapped, then bolted at his eye again. Unfortunately, Valdis leaned backward out of the way as if dodging a projectile, and swatted the fox away, unintentionally sending him flying towards Zeru. The little fox struck him in in the chest, sending the bewildered boy scrambling to maintain his purchase on the tiny island he was on the verge of falling from.
Snowflake landed on the ground and spat out a little bit of blood as a large clawed hand roughly grabbed Zeru’s shoulder to catch him. As soon as he was steady, though, Snowflake bit down on Valdis’s shin and tore out a chunk of flesh with his razor-sharp teeth. The beastman howled in pain and anger, releasing his grasp on the boy’s shoulder as he fell backward.
Suddenly the world flashed away and all three fell down to another set of floating islets that appeared beneath them. Now, all visible pieces of land were drifting around slowly. The battle continued around Zeru, who felt helpless and frightened as his two other forms battled eachother. He tried to get away, but every step he took was interrupted by one or the other bumping into him or trying to grab him in some way. As time passed by, the islets began moving around faster and faster.
Zeru found himself crouching down every chance he got, trying to curl into a ball. He whimpered softly, hoping it would all go away. The last thing he remembered was Valdis leaping toward him with his claws outstretched, with Snowflake standing on his head, preparing to strike back. He screamed out, only to have everything go white.
The next thing he knew, he was thrashing around in some large creature’s talons, apparently high up in the sky. He heard the familiar voice of First Gust of Winter trying to calm him. He settled down as he realized it was indeed all just a dream, which was, at least for the moment, finally over. Despite the sleep he got, he felt less rested than ever before. And whereas he’d been hoping some sleep would help ease his mind, he now found himself with even more to think about. Would his poor aching mind and heart ever be allowed to rest?