Here and now
"I was placed in a little cell, with only one chair, one table, a closed book, and a poor black candle. They told me I had to find the truth. When they closed the door, a draught blew out the light.
Fortunately, I managed to remember where the furniture was and sat down. Opening the book was probably a mistake, a kind of test, something like “see beyond the evidence” exercise, so I just thought and didn’t move. I tried to figure out what was the truth, what could be the answer. And I found nothing.
There was no truth. I didn’t know for how long I was here, but as I am not patient, I decried “without question, there is no answer here!”. The silence only replied. And I searched again. But I found nothing.
And there was light.
I was no more in a cell but in a large room full of bookshelves, so large that I was not able to see the walls. My table was still there but the book had disappeared. In front of me stood an old but vigorous man.
“Dear student”, he told me with a smile, “it seems that you did fail your examination.
But you know, We anticipated that. It seems to Us that you prefer your sword to your lore, don’t you?”
“I cannot disagree, dear assessor. But above all, I cherish the Truth.”
“That is right, but loving a part is not loving the pack. And we are here to decide if you join all of Us. We cannot accept you if you choose the sword and despise the knowledge.”
“But Elder, the Sword Sages love the sword.”
“The sword sages use their swords for a right purpose -tofind and protect knowledge. A sword is just a tool, not the End. You do not use your sword for knowledge, do you? We know what you are looking for. But you... Do you know what your quest is?”
“I,… I want… I have to… become king.”
“King is just a title, go further.”
I remained silent for a long time. My thoughts did not please me. But to hide the truth was not an option.
“I have to lead people, protect and judge them. I have to build a good society, change unfair rules, chase previous rulers’ deceptions away.”
“Really? What else? What deeper else?”
I was so confused. I felt that the man was not only asking but infiltrating my mind. Annoyed, my voice got louder.
“I do not want anybody to make me do anything. Nobody, neither king, neither priest, not even mother.” Surprised by my own words, I whispered, suppressing a sob “I want to choose my life. I want… I want to be powerful enough to be free forever.”
“POWER, here we go”. The old man surprised me. His face was changing, harder. His size was growing. The shelves shook. As did the ground when I looked around.
I was afraid when I saw no more the man but an enormous face, its skin made of clay, looking me straight in my eyes, with a threatening gaze. His lips were two Stasis runes, his left eye was a closed disk, hiding some secret knowledge, when his right had its pupil fully opened, lighting the world of his wisdom.
Its nose was a Law rune, and I could distinguish its nostrils forming the Truth.
Its mouth started to move and a fearsome and gravelly voice exploded.
“WILL YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF ANTIQUE BATTLES HELP YOU TO LEAD YOUR WARRIORS? WHAT KIND OF WARLORD WILL YOU BE WITHOUT IT?
DO YOUR ANCESTORS CONTINUE TO EXIST IN THE OTHER WORLD? WHAT KIND OF BEING ARE YOU WITHOUT THEIR MEMORY?”
Its mouth, again larger, spat a sword and a truth.
“TELL ME! IS DEATH MORE POWERFUL THAN OBLIVION? IS THE BEARD LESS POWERFUL THAN THE SWORD?”
I was terrified. Its breath was so mighty that I was afraid of falling. Looking at my feet, I saw no more ground, just darkness with what seemed to be stars. I looked left, right, and up. There was only darkness and a few stars. Everywhere.
I did not notice the face had disappeared. The old man was back. He carefully scanned me, without any expression.
“You did not choose me, but you are here.
Should I accept you while you will never serve me?
Should I reject you while you serve my interest?”
“What does the logic choose?
What does a god choose?
What should the god of logic choose? Could I accept among my followers someone who wants to walk on his own?
Give me your words, bold child who dares to come before me rather than to follow me.”
I reverently answered:
“You already know everything. I just thank you, for your lesson. I learnt more than ever before.”
“You are not welcome” and the man disappeared, and the stars went out, and the door opened.
I left without a word, avoiding the staring looks from the initiates. My brain was overheated. Not only because I felt the rage pouring through my whole being, but I was certain that I had something more to understand, so close, and yet so far.
After few days seeking an answer, I understood there was no question. Everything was already done, even before the ritual’s start. I had only one option, and moved towards the taverns, their harlots and, why not, some spoilt kids to skewer.