Part 34: Nerves
Honourable citizens of Kaleila! I want to welcome you to my town of Rhoan!
As you all well know, tomorrow is the day of the grand martial arts tournament! A show of remarkable skill held once a decade!
Participants from every corner of the land join us today for this auspicious event. The leaders of the four great schools, ready to take on all who would challenge them!
All the way from the desert of Samiad, the successor of the Southern Flight school, Nanaida Seer!
The great hero, inventor, and master of the Western Bomb, Haochy!
The guardian of Granatum forest, grand chief of the dwarven tribes, master of Northern Hammer, Rudrud!
And last but far from least, representing the legendary Eastern Sword school, our very own Gustav of the twin blades!
But, my dear countrymen! Who, you ask, is the young man that stands among them? What mere youth would have the nerve, the sheer audacity to step forth and confront one, two, three, FOUR of the greatest warriors alive?
None other than our most gallant soldier returned from the battlefield! The champion of Kaleila himself, YUMIL!
I'm sure that's what everyone thought. Everyone close enough to see my pallor, my shaking hands. It must be nerves. Who wouldn't be nervous, going up against those four?
They were wrong, of course. I had the book, therefore I would win. No need for nerves.
I'd never been lonely since I met Fana. Not that I spent all my time with her, or even much of it lately, but knowing I could come back to her was enough. Perhaps I just never feared being lonely.
I hadn't spoken to her since that day. I hadn't spoken to the spirits either, or rather, they hadn't spoken to me. But that was okay. Once I'd won the tournament, once I had something to cheer her up with, I'd be ready to visit her again. And the spirits, they'd come round. A few more days to let the sting subside and they'd forgive me. Or at least set it aside. I might still need their help, after all. The new world was more important than their feelings.
I'd been telling myself that for some time. I repeated it over and over instead of sleeping. It's what I told myself then, standing on that balcony. Just give it time. Everything will work itself out.
And then the mayor was at my shoulder, saying that the ceremony was over and everyone else had gone home.
Was I sick, he asked? No, I told him. Just nerves.
Do you think it really is easy for us?
Uh, do you remember when you were saying "No, it isn't, and fuck you?" That was you speaking for all of us.
But how bad is it, really? Compared to them?
I'm sure a king thinks his life is hard sometimes. Maybe it is. Or maybe he doesn't realise how much worse the pauper has it.
Or maybe we all have it tough and people just need to learn how to cope and not be bastards. That sounds about right.
How much of it is their fault, though? I mean-
All of it. If you do something wrong, it's your fault. That's the definition of fault.
So logically, everything is our fault for telling people they're going to die, putting them in charge of the world and expecting sane behaviour.
It shouldn't be like this. And you're in no position to criticize.
What? Why me?
Because you don't help. "Oh, you can do this with the book, you can do that, it'll be so awesome!" What do you expect if not selfishness?
Well what am I supposed to do? Question number one is always "What's in it for me?" People don't do a damn thing without some incentive.
So you wouldn't need incentive, if it was you? You'd simply do it?
Yes. I would. It's the fucking world. It's important.
That's from your perspective. You're a spirit. This has been your whole purpose from the beginning.
Imagine you were one of them. What would you do then?
I dunno. I'm not one of them. How am I supposed to answer that?
Exactly. We can sit here and say "I'd do it better" all we want. It doesn't mean anything when we'll never have to prove it.
(Some day, someone will leave the book empty. Either they won't write anything or they'll die before they can. When everything goes, we'll be all that's left.)
You think it'd be up to us, then?
I hope not. I don't know about the rest of you, but being a good person...believing I'm a good person is all that keeps me going anymore. Otherwise I'd have jumped in a lake a long time ago.
I don't ever want to find out what I'd do with that kind of power. What I'd turn into.
Jumping in a lake wouldn't kill you. Would it?
It would. These shackles are heavy.
...yeah. They are.
(Whatever. I told you he'd turn out selfish. At least now I know I was right.)
Maybe you were.
(...then again, it's only been a few days. He might change his mind.)
(I don't want to get all smug now and have to eat it later.)
(And you need to start telling me I'm wrong again. I can't rub it in your faces if you agree with me.)
He'll have a clearer head once he wins the tournament. Maybe he'll come round after that.
Just give it time. Everything will work itself out.
(Not buying it.)