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Library: Loss

Books

Author: Yari
Date:Feb 4 1996

   I am cold.  The wind changes direction, blowing bits of something 
at my face.  I squint to protect my eye.  The hill I have come to is a 
favorite place of mine.  Barren, it has the skeletal remains of a 
wind-tortured tree as its only decoration.  Somehow I am pleased even 
by that.  I survey the landscape, it appears to be late fall.  I 
realize with somewhat of a start that I have lost track of the date 
again.  I make a mental note to learn it when I return to 
civilization.  If I return to civilization.
   The loss is what stays with you, after so long.  There were good 
times, else from where would the sense of loss spring, but they are 
more difficult to retain.  I look at my hands, smooth, too smooth, 
unnatural.  Years and years of restorations, I wonder if there is a 
limit.  I feel young, so perhaps not.  Loss.
   I sit and consider what I am about to do.  Years ago, many years, 
when I was truly young, not artificially so, I was much like most 
other people.  I had a goal, I had focus, my ambition was rather 
simple.  I would surpass everyone and be the most powerful man alive.  
The obstacle to overcome had a name.  Gavno.  He was mostly a legend, 
but he had more power than I for a reason that no one could explain.  
Time passed and my strength grew to the point where I was stronger 
than he had ever been, and all that remained was to prove it to the 
world, to surpass Gavno's mighty reputation, as power, true power, as 
I came to learn, is only measured in others' eyes.  In time I 
surpassed even that.  Still, I wanted more.  I drove on, not only to 
be better than Gavno, but to be so much better than he that to compare 
us would be laughable.  That too, I achieved.
   My rise to power was not without drawbacks.  Time and again, 
friends would turn their backs to me, for many reasons.  Jealousy?  
Perhaps.  Righteous anger?  Perhaps too.  Many cases, many causes, no 
two cases quite the same.  The greatest casualty of power is your 
soul, it is said.  Perhaps it is true, I am, at this point, not 
entirely sure that I ever had a soul to begin with.
   So, you begin anew when the loss becomes too great, you build a new 
life.  It is not simple to do, power breeds a certain sort of 
paranoia, that results in an inability to take anyone at face value.  
This paranoia is self-perpetuating, and many individuals who have come 
after me have fallen prey to it without the luck that I had.  My luck, 
like my obstacle, had a name, and that name was Gavno.
   I was deep into the darkness.  I pulled my blade from a corpse, as 
I had so many times before, when I felt another presence at my back.  
I cleaned the blade slowly, allowing whoever it was plenty of time to 
try.  Just try.  I was hoping, almost praying, but by this time, I 
already had very little faith that praying would do any good anyway, 
so it cannot be called that.  With an inward sigh, I turned to face 
whomever it was that had decided not to attack me.  It was, as you 
most likely have surmised, Gavno.
   Gavno was dying.  It was plain to see, his gaunt cheeks, the look 
in his eyes, he was dying, knew it, and did not care.  His smell 
filled my head, it was not unpleasant, but definitely a smell of 
decay.  He looked at me for a long time, simply looking and now and 
again, nodding slightly or half smiling, as if new thoughts were 
entering his head.  I began to speak.  He beat me to it.
   "Yari."
   "Gavno."
   He smiled, revealing slightly yellowed teeth.  "Yes, I suppose that 
is what I would have said too, when I was you.  What is the date?"
   I told him.
   "Hmm, three years longer than I had expected to hear.  At any rate, 
you are the reason I am here.  What do you want of me?"
   "I don't want anything of you, Gavno, not anymore," I said.  
Something about his presence was unsettling to me.
   "Oh, but you do, Yari, and you are only beginning to realize it.  
Did you ever wonder why I am never seen?  Why I have been hiding, or 
for that matter, where?"
   Of course I had often wondered that, I had supposed it was because 
of his fear of me, or shame of not being able to compete with me.  
Before I could reply, he spoke again.
   "I was not hiding from you, though I know that's what you thought," 
he stopped speaking and looked around.  "I know this place.  It is not 
much different from when I was last here.  I digress.  You were asking 
me for something, were you not?  What did you want from me, Yari?"
   "Nothing."
   Gavno's eyebrow arched at this, as if to say 'Oh, come now, we both 
know that you are lying.'  "Nothing!"
   "So you say.  Did you know that I had a Gavno too?  When I was 
younger, there was a man, his name is unimportant now, from whom I 
stole the mantle of power.  He, unlike myself, did not have so lucky 
an usurper...or, I suppose, heir is more accurate.  He did not visit 
me before it was too late, and then only to laugh with me in madness.  
I ask again, What do you want of me?"
   "I told you, I do not want anything more from you, not anymore!"  
As my voice rose, I realized that there was something happening to me, 
I was not in full control of myself.  Gavno had some effect on me, it 
was strange.  "Now leave me or I will kill you, and this is not 
something that either of us truly wants!"  My restraint was failing.  
It was his eyes!  Damn Gavno, he was looking at me, never took his 
eyes off me, nobody does that to me, as if they see me, know me!
   "Try me."
   I could not control myself, I threw my weapons down and rushed him, 
to grab him forcefully, barehanded, throw him down, kill him, 
anything.  His eyes, they were still on me as I grabbed him and 
LOCKED.  Stopped dead.  All my power, and his strength matched mine.  
Matched, not quite.  Surpassed, more likely, vastly.  With a slight 
grin, he threw me back, I rolled to a stop in a cloud of dust.  In a 
flash, he was atop me, pinning me down!  I struggled, but he was, as I 
said, vastly stronger than I.  My anger flashed, burning white hot 
inside me, reaching a new level, filling me completely, and, as 
abruptly as it ignited, it was gone, leaving a vacuum inside me so 
intense that I nearly blacked out from the sense of loss.  I began to 
cry, hoarse, deep sobs that took control of me.  I sensed Gavno pull 
away, more than felt it, for I was embroiled in a battle for my 
sanity, my existence.
   "Yari."
   I moaned.
   "Stop crying, now."
   "I can't!  You made me do this!  I was alone, why didn't you come 
earlier?  You knew, you must have known!  I cannot endure this, 
please, stop this!"  I was in agony, true loss had finally entered me.
   "I knew, but you didn't, just as I didn't.  No one does, not at 
first.  I am dying as the result of my lesson, perhaps you can be 
different."  Gavno moved, and was very near to me, though I did not 
care, I was still in a state of shock, as if part of my life force was 
gone.
   Gavno lifted me up from the ground and carried me to a hill a short 
distance from where we had met.  Setting me gently against a gnarled 
tree, he stepped back and looked at me again, as if waiting for me to 
speak.
   "I know what I want of you now."
   "I know."  He did, too, he knew, had known all along.
   "You cannot give it to me, can you?"
   "No."
   I sighed, and almost cried again.  I knew now, too.  It was clearer 
every moment.  "You must be here for a reason, though, why?"
   "Because I knew, and knew that you cannot have it, but I am here to 
help you, because I feel somewhat responsible.  There is a substitute 
for me, I am going to tell you what it is."
   I nodded, not believing that anything but Gavno, or the idea of a 
Gavno, could fill the hole inside me.
   "There is more around you, Yari, than achievement.  There is more 
than power.  You need to learn what it is, and how to use it to fill 
the void inside your heart.  You will be filled with nothing but loss 
for all of your days if you do not, and it will eventually kill you.  
Look at me," he said, looking down at his tattered clothing, sallow 
skin, and then turning his eyes, eyes of an old man, filled with 
intelligence and newly found wisdom.  "I learned it too late."
   "Power is all I have, Gavno.  All I have."
   "Now, yes.  But you can change, you can adapt, I can feel it in 
you.  I am unable, my sanity left me long ago.
   "Look inside yourself.  Learn to accept loss and learn from it, 
learn to appreciate what you have lost, rather than run from it.  
Learn to find beauty in the world, not only in what it can provide 
you.  Most importantly, learn to rest.  Loss only makes that which we 
have more precious while it lasts."
   Gavno's form wavered.  I looked at him closely, and saw that he was 
becoming translucent!
   "Don't leave me, Gavno!  I love you, I still need you, you cannot 
leave me!"  I reached for him.  "You have not told me where you were!  
Tell me that much, tell me!  I must know where to rest, tell me!
   As I touched him, what was left of him, for he was nearly gone, he 
disappeared, but his eyes flared into full resolution.
   His voice filled my mind.  "I was in the earth, of course."  And, 
with a blink of light, his eyes, too, disappeared, I was alone.
   And the loss came again, more forcefully than ever.  I fell to my 
knees and cried again, harder and harder to the point that I may have 
lost consciousness.  It did not matter, I was helpless against it.  
When I finally calmed down to the point of lucidity, I stood and took 
stock of my surroundings.  A hill, a gnarled tree its only decoration, 
a view of a vast valley below.  The world tasted like ash in my mouth.  
I glanced around and made my decision.
   I began to dig, using all my strength, clawing at the dirt and 
stones with my bare hands.  I dug quickly, deep into the ground, 
ignoring the pain in my hands, digging until the hole fell back on 
itself and covered me, and all was silent and warm.
   
   That was the first time I went into the earth, and by far the 
longest.  It was the only possible way to save my sanity.  Eventually 
my thirst wakes me, and when I dig to the surface, sometimes much is 
changed, sometimes not, but I am always refreshed, ready to take in 
the beauty of the world, my world.  And it is my world, do not be 
fooled, for I know now what Gavno never knew. The acknowledgement
that power is not everything, the very acceptance of this truth,
is the greatest power the world has ever known, for in it is the
secret of neverending mortality.
   And it is here, this hill, to which I return to enter the earth 
when the burden of mortal existence becomes too great.  Even now, as I 
look longingly at the ground and I see the world and love it for 
itself, I can hear people calling my name, calling to me for 
assistance, for love, for me.  Sorrow fills my eye, I cannot help them 
now, I must help myself so that I can come back to them again, 
refreshed.  I must rest.  I must rest in the earth, and so I dig.
   
   


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