Protection doesn't come without a great cost...
Let me tell you a little story.
As you can see, I’m a traveler. I didn’t used to be a traveler. I used to be, believe it or not, a servant.
Oh, no, no. I assure you, my master didn’t treat me badly. He didn’t treat any of us badly. In fact, we all served our king of our own free will. That’s right, the king. You should know that, though. Fellas like me have been around the king for so long, lots of people think that all of us work for him. Or, we did work for him. Things started to get confusing once he came about.
In this world we live in, not everyone is nice. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Sometimes, there are those who pick fights for no real reason. They think it fun. And when they pick a fight with someone who can’t fight back, they don’t care. It’s still fun. Acceptable, even. How many like me have been killed without a hint of remorse? Hundreds? Thousands?
It wasn’t nearly this bad before, of course. It all started with a child. This child… he had power. Power he hadn’t yet discovered. Power he soon learned made him far above anyone else in the land.
Oh, he wasn’t mean. Not in the slightest. He had an untainted innocence. A happy demeanor none could destroy. To his advantage, he was quite durable. Without any real training, he could take much more abuse than normal. He recovered easily, too. But a good defense isn’t impenetrable.
The child soon found himself getting in some tight spots. One family of ne’er-do-wells decided they’d target the little guy. The oldest brother was the strongest of them, and his weapon of choice was explosives.
The young one was pushed to his limits. His happy demeanor was replaced with fierce anger. Now remember, he wasn’t yet used to fighting. He was peaceful enough to fit in with my own brethren. But there was some real natural talent in this kid. Once he entered battle mode, he had no problem sending the bully’s explosives back at him. The attacker was quickly destroyed; with his own hand-crafted weapons, no less.
After this, something changed in the child. He was still a happy, friendly fellow. But now, he had discovered his power. He was strong. Not only could he fight back, he was practically untouchable. At first, he used this power to protect the rest of us from anyone who dared to be a bully.
As time went on, he started getting more rash in his actions. He started acting more impulsive and caring less about what the consequences of his actions were. The child started taking preemptive actions against bullying. Instead of a protector of the innocent, he started to become a force of pure destruction. The progression was gradual - it started with the child seeking and attacking the worst around. As the stronger ones became fewer and fewer, he turned his attention to smaller threats. He started picking off those who only knew one move with a single weapon. Eventually, he would even attack the most harmless of us. The saddest part of this was that he didn’t feel evil. The whole time, the child kept his friendly, cheerful attitude when he wasn’t fighting. He was oblivious to the problem he had become, and no one dared say a word for fear of his wrath.
So what does this have to do with my past? Well, I told you I was a servant to a king. A very gentle king. I don’t think his castle even had a dungeon. It did, however, have a splendid mess hall. After all, he had a lot of loyal servants to feed. The good king was a bit of a gourmet himself.
Being who he was, he once decided to host a massive banquet open to whomever wished to attend. Naturally, he sent us servants to gather extra food for the feast. So we did, along with some others who weren’t as well-known to serve under the king. We gathered food from far and wide. This was going to be a wonderful feast, and our traveling around gathering food was a perfect way to spread the word at the same time.
This is where the stories overlap. Some of us made it to the place where the young champion lived. Our intentions must not have come clear to him. The child grew angry and stormed his way straight to the castle, taking out anyone in his way as he went. Once he arrived, he locked into combat with our king. Needless to say, he won. The food gathered for the banquet was taken and spread back through ought the land. The event was a flop, but it had introduced our king to this new champion. A rivalry spawned between the two; the were nearly equal in power, with the child just strong enough to ensure a victory whenever they battled.
Tales of the champion spread like wildfire across the lands, and it seemed the very world had divided in opinion about this new protector. Was he a hero? Was he a villain? Should he be stopped? Was it even possible to stop him? Many felt that he had gone too far. They chose to oppose this new threat if it costed them their very lives. And for many, it did. The warrior was too strong. Anyone who dared oppose him would be faced with immediate execution, whether with his own talent or with a token he had taken from a previous victim.
And all this time, he was still happy. Still innocent. He had become a monster, and he had no idea. It didn’t take a genius to see him and know he didn’t think anything was wrong. True, he went on to become a hero of the land. He slayed countless horrors that tried to engulf our once-peaceful word. But his protection didn’t come without a heavy cost. For every time he grew upset, he killed countless innocents on his quest to stop what bothered him. And he didn’t seem to care at all.
It was terrifying, but the worst was yet to come.
Our king started studying the child. He started learning the other’s tactics to use for himself. They battled several times through ought the years. The young champion continuously misinterpreted our king’s intentions. Several times our king had even started acting far beyond his usual self. He grew malevolent before their battles. The normally gentle soul would pick up his weapon of choice and start waving it around, prompting some to flee and others to try and calm him down. His fits always stopped after the champion came and defeated him once more.
This started some to believe some crazy things. Was the young champion doing this to him? Was this the consequence for surviving battle with him? No one really knew, although our king assured us that was certainly not the case. But the fear of the child grew with this new thought in mind. There was no winning against him, if those not killed when facing him went on to have fits of ruthlessness. And how could we know what would happen next? This was a king that was struggling with some sort of possession. What would happen to someone smaller? Someone more normal?
Despite the child’s tendency for violence, he still managed to make friends quite easily. Perhaps because they were outsiders who never heard the tales. But that couldn’t be the only way. Because eventually, he befriended one of my own brethren.
That’s right. A servant of the king managed to join up with the young champion in his one of his random quests. This led to something bigger. If the child had some sort of hidden control over those he let live, then this must have been the first time he fully used it. Because he finally asked our king to join in the quest.
He refused at first. The sane answer. After all that had happened, it was not only a terrible thing to think of, but his duty as a royal roll model. If he gave up to the ideal of controlling his subjects through fear and destruction, where would that leave us? The peace of the land would become fabricated… it would be forced. Insincere. The child would surely lead him down a path of corruption. But he saw that one of his servants had already joined. Not wanting to leave the fate of the servant completely to the child’s whim, he reluctantly joined the cause.
It was a terrible mistake.
They did keep their rivalry after that journey ended. Our king still didn’t openly approve of the child’s ways. But they started engaging in much more casual competitions after that. It was clear to anyone that they were starting to get along. Of course we were concerned; this could go either way. The child could become good enough friends with our king to perhaps realize that his actions had gotten out of hand. Our world could gain a true hero, one who banished only the monstrous demons and powerful entities the average Joe couldn’t handle. One who showed kindness and restraint towards the rest of us, and solved conflicts without resorting to killing anyone.
On the other hand, our king could start accepting the child’s ways. The young champion was still the stronger of the two, after all. And he had proven that to him, might makes right. With the power to enforce that, no one really had a choice but to let him. That included our king.
Over time, it seemed the latter was winning out. The great king could do nothing to sway the child’s ways. Things got to the point where active forces against him were required. One of the king’s once-close friends decided to take matters into his own hands. The friend was a warrior himself, and he decided that the king’s lax laws and do-nothing attitude sickened him. The warrior gathered up a legion of followers and actually attempted to usurp the king.
The attempt failed. Not because the king stopped him. Certainly he would have succeeded if that were the case. After all, those of us most loyal to the king were peace-lovers. We didn’t even know how to fight. Sure, there were a few knights who followed him and walked his halls, but they were all knights of sport. They never had the training to stop an invasion.
Instead, the attempt failed because the young champion got word of it. Single-handedly he charged the forces the warrior had gathered. Single-handedly, he wiped them all out. The warrior took on the young champion himself, resulting in only shattered armor and the loss of the lives of all who followed him. A heavy blow was dealt to the warriors’ pride. He held a grudge, and eventually became a greater rival to the young champion than the king. While our king had given up opposing the champion, this warrior would continue to fight it.
Every time resulted in a loss, dealing more and more damage to his pride every time. Eventually, even he had to admit he was no match for the young champion. Rumors spread about this one. Some believe that he set out to train, using rigorous methods no normal citizen would ever resort to. Some say he finally gave up and started helping the child. Others say he became a sort of double agent, or that he just took longer to fall into the champions’ trap of innocence.
No matter what was true or not about the warrior, one thing was for sure. In one of the champions’ more recent travels, something happened that no one expected. Instead of traveling with strangers no one had heard of before, the champion’s path of destruction and chaos was followed by three familiar companions.
Our king, whom had started as a great ruler, now showing no remorse swinging his hammer down on his once-loyal subjects.
The servant, now sporting a look all his own and having trained himself with a javelin, slaughtering his own former kin with ease.
And the warrior, always a bit of a mystery, now clearly alongside the young champion.
Three unlikely allies to one unlikely hero. Oh, there’s no doubt that the young champion is a hero. I’ve told you before; he’s destroyed plenty of large-scale threats to our world. Without him, we may have succumbed to the rule of nightmares long ago.
But the price remains high. Every day, we live in fear of his arrival. For his arrival means the coming of death, and by this point, he just finds it fun to kill those below him in strength. He’s become the greatest threat to the average citizen. He has forced even peace-lovers like me to leave our king’s side in search of a way to oppose him. That’s why I travel with my steed, here. I sure can’t fight on my own.
So now you know our situation. Our land is cursed with a hero that has no problem destroying the ones he protects. Try as we might, we can’t stop him. He can do anything; Beat you down, kill you, corrupt you to follow him. He can casually devour you, taking whatever means of defense you had to kill your friends and family. There are times when he’s completely invincible, when merely touching him is instant death for anyone below the rank of a “Mid-boss”.
The hero’s name, you ask? Well, he’s never really said. Not much of a talker, that one. We just call him “Kirby”.
- Inspired by the storytelling style of XoRax. Granted, I didn't mask the characters quite so heavily, and the general idea behind it is far diferent.
- Feedback questions: At what point(s) did it become obvious who/what the speaker and other characters were? How could this be made better? Thoughts?