Foreword: About Perception
You have always been fascinated with stories, such as tales of heroism, kindness, adventures, and love. Accounts of greatness and social maladies intrigue you, spurning your mind into contemplating events that had happened or would probably happen in the future. And after absorbing all these stories that were not your own, you begin to wonder.
How does one create a story?
You quickly realize that a storyteller needs sight. And you are not only referring to the ability to see, but the aptitude to envision, the capacity to take in scenes and events then compile them in the recesses of your mind until you have a design that could be conceptualized on paper. However, you also realize that imagination has its limits. You can only perceive as much potential as your experiences allowed.
You learn that to be able to write, you must first witness things you have not seen before.
Sadly, this enlightenment spells your own tragedy.
As you look around your world, your own tiny piece of the full circle, you see this shrinking dot, this tunneling vision that grows smaller and smaller the more you learn about life, hardships, and defeats. You learn that the more you know, the less you understand, and it becomes mentally crippling, for you are nothing but an insignificant speck in the whole scheme of reality, a mere fragment that can never become whole.
So what should an aspiring scribe do?
"I'm counting on you, alright?"
"Leave it to me! I'll make sure I have lots and lots of things to tell you when I come back, yeah?"
"I promise. Even if you don't… see me anymore, I'll make you recognize me somehow!"
"Even if I can't, you don't have to worry. There is no way I can forget you."
"You better not."
"Until we see each other again!"
Many glorify self-experiences since primary accounts are more convincing and emotionally driven. But there is nothing wrong about telling another's story, is there? You can never tell your own in any case, for it is rather bland, uneventful, and filled with trivial worries that your readers would not even want to know. You have trouble expressing yourself anyway, so you would instead try to convey another's.
Even if it only served to masquerade your own shortcomings and fears.
As an author, you know that many things are hard to place down in manuscript because the tangible letters on parchment feels so permanent. You are afraid to have a child pick up this book decades after you are gone and see all your insecurities and failures. You can try to hide them the best you can, but no novel is ever written without its writer's voice woven in and around each and every chapter, no matter how silent it may be.
It is the thought of others, who would never know who you were and what you have been through, picking up those quiet whimpers and calls for help, as well as unspeakable distresses that plague your every step.
It is troubling, yes, but that is how one tells a story.
"I never intended to hurt you."
"I am not speaking to a ghost, am I?"
"Heh, you're not."
"For even now, I see your image covered in the blood I have spilled. My blade is still red and I cannot wash it away."
"I killed you, have I not?"
After answering a number of rhetorical questions, you finally understand that the art of perplexity never stops. To create is to see and to share is to embody, but what about the end? Time is never-ending, you have always been fully aware of that, so you ask yourself, how does one end a story?
There are many ways, and one of them is to conclude in a manner you wished for it to end. Who does not want happy endings? It is quite easy to say "happily ever after," when in truth, the "ever after" meant disability, losing loved ones, or even death. Ignoring convolution, or the ceaseless web of ties and interconnecting harnesses of fate, lessens the complexities, which then in turn, fools the reader. But that is not dissimilar to lying so you would not even dare to end a tragedy with a happy ending.
So the question of conclusion then becomes the question of knowing the difference between misfortune and triumph since stories of heroes and epic struggles cannot be told so plainly, in a way in which the hero overcomes his trials, wins the girl, and saves the world. It simply does not happen that way. Things go wrong, friends are lost, and love is sometimes torn into unsalvageable pieces. Cities crumble, ideals shatter, and belief can be washed away by the tides of circumstances. As wise men say, a story of war is a story of catastrophes, of blood spilled and people bravely bearing scars of grave errs.
But it is also a story of individuals who loved so fiercely that they overcome many obstacles.
"F-forgive me, I was not paying attention."
"You ought to be punished for your impudence!"
"Silence. I will have none of this today."
"Y-yes, of course, Your Highness. Wait, you! Do not step any closer. You have no right!"
"What is this…?"
"An offering- no, a gift for your kindness."
"Kindness? Heh… surely you are jesting, woman. I can have your head on a spit if I so utter it."
"No, Sire. You have pulled on your mount's reins when it could have killed me with its hooves."
"That was a mere accident."
"An evil man would have let me die. I know who you are, and what others make of you, but that man is not the one in front of me."
"Who is in front of you then?"
"I see a man with a fiercely guarded compassion in his eyes."
"…what is your name, woman?"
"I am your servant, and you may call me thus."
So you ask your readers not to look at how this story will end. Instead, you ask them to watch the journey itself unfold. In this chronicle is a recording of the uncountable events experienced by many people. You realize that this has become more than just a simple tale about one person because it has morphed into a story that includes the many others involved. It has encompassed numerous other existences and personalities that it cannot just be about this rugged and directionless traveler.
Then again, maybe it still is.
AN: And thus another facet, another tale for The Bell Keeper is about to begin.