VI

I can't make this happen, this is beyond any of us. This is beyond any one mortal being, anything less than a demigod.

I'm no demigod, I hope the Elvenking can be. I hope the Kresc can be. These desperate times are in need of a few great ones with some great skill, some great power. I don't expect I'll be here when that someone arrives. I'll be locked inside the cell that is my mind, or voyaging past my death into whatever waits for me out there…I won't be in this world for long. I don't think I could stand to be in this world very long.

Not after what I've seen—and done. Those Orks…they had lives. They had stories all their own, just like mine. They had friends, families, their very own ups and downs. What's worse, they had potential. No one was ever meant to sweat away inside plate mail cages while they stampeded waving someone else's doom in their hands…no one was ever meant to wield a sword. And swords—weapons—were never meant to exist. I know. I've seen their very presence grow stronger. Every time an Ork falls, I have to just look into his eyes, I have to feel that fleeting story that they own, or at least part of it. I have to see their families mourning the one loss of life among the thousands of losses of lives, and I have to convince myself that I caused it. It takes more convincing every single time, and every time I see that beautiful, horrible vision, my hand squeezes tighter around the hilt of my sword.

A sword. What a beautiful thing it is, truly. Such a paradox, such life put into such a deathly little object. Mine has a name—not many swords left with names. Not many that are still alive. Swords are like animals, they really are. Snarling, inescapable beasts that will ravage you until you are less than alive, and not necessarily dead. They'll rip life away, the way a tiger tears meat from the bone—an all too accurate analogy. In the habitat of these animals, it's eat and be eaten. The more you feed them, the hungrier they get, too.

This animal long ago bit my hand and has never since let go. It has grown inside of me like a fungus, seeped under my fingernails like a parasite. It has dug holes in my lungs, and even controls my tongue from time to time. I can taste it. I can feel mucusy things when I breathe sometimes, in the back of my mouth. It is a slug in my throat, and the slime of it chokes me.

That is my sword. That is the hold it has taken on me.

And there are times…I almost can't admit it, it seems so much like opening the door for some predator that is to come bounding into my house…but there are times when I cannot even remember my name. I am only a knife with a thought in the back of my mind, ever driving my motions forward, forward into the unknown (backward, backward into unavoidable territory).

And do you know, there is something…almost comfortable about it. Like when you fall asleep on a giant feather couch and barely notice the blade poking you in your back….

Something blissful. Like having no blood in your head. Like drowning, maybe.

…And my sword has a name. Something that makes it all too real for me, that gives this weapon a soul. It is an entity, now, one that is capable of taking life away all by itself, one that might even survive without me at this point. I wonder if it will, once I die. I know, I do know that this infection will outlive me—but I wonder how. I wonder what will become of it…whose stories it will end after my own stories are over.

I wonder if anyone will remember me, and look back and say, "There was Sinraed. He was good when he could still control his life. But that beast of a weapon got the better of him. His story is over now."

I am doubtful. No one is so wise. No one knows about this animal taking my place inside my head. No one knows what weapons are capable of doing on their own.

More like: "There was Sinraed. He did not deserve to die, he did such great things with his sword…saved people."

Saved.

I laugh at the thought that I have saved lives.

Destroyed them, really.

I do wonder, though, who will pick up my sword when I drop it…I'm running now, but soon I'll fall. The Orks are far behind, but I'm sure nobody will find me for quite some time. I hope…no I don't.

I'm so confused that I don't know what I should hope for. What is there to hope for? Genocide? The Orks will become victims soon. Peace at this point is nearly out of the question.

Something tells me I should still be hoping for this. But then, there's something else there that is so much more real…it tells me life is hopeless…hope is lifeless. To hope is to pour water down an endless chasm that won't refill.

I was going to say, "I hope Eriath finds me, I hope the Elves find me." But then I thought maybe if the Orks find me, my sword will do no more damage.

That is one thing I hope. I hope for my sword to consume itself, to defeat itself.

Yet that goes against everything I've learned in life: violence begets violence. Not peace, not tolerance, not an affirmation. Violence is what creates more violence, and violence is self-sustaining.

I hope this isn't true. I hope—irrationally. That when my lungs can't take any more of this heavy, stressed and entirely horrified breathing, when I fall, I hope that my sword will put itself out of existence.

Maybe the rules of life we are all governed by really are just lies we make up to cage ourselves because we only want so much familiar ground. Maybe nothing really makes any sense, and consequently nothing matters. So maybe I'm wrong when I tell myself that the world will never see peace.

The ground is rushing up to meet me.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope my sword never hits the ground.