From the archives of Ivan J. Wrenwold, Head Scholar of Paraph--
An examination of historical figures, dates, and names--
Recorded in a document entitled "The Wonders of a Legend".
Ever since I could understand the human language, I have always been intrigued by the stories passed down by the people, especially those my mother used to tell me before bedtime. She always spoke about heroes and villains and magic and technology, and anything else that would excite a young mind. Years have passed, and that young mind is reaching middle age, but it has never ceased to enjoy hearing those tales, nor has it stopped believing that at least a few of them are real (like most believable stories, the ones I heard usually took place right around Paraph, and involve many people who could easily pass as a resident). I have questioned my mother about the validity of these tales more than once, and she has always let me be the judge of that.
I must thank my mother one day for telling those tales to me. I should also thank her for retelling them to me so I could document them in these archives. I still believe that most of them are false, although I will not say which ones, but I feel that even the most fantastic of these fables must be written down or else lost. So, with my mother's help and blessings, along with gracious permission and funding from the King and Queen (may they live forever), I have finally decided to create a record of these stories, in what I hope to be chronological order. That said, please find somewhere relaxing to read. Grab a drink, grab a seat, grab a friend, and immerse yourself in what I hope will become a life-changing experience.
Head Scholar Ivan J. Wrenwold
Paraph Library, Paraph Kingdom
Prologue: What Makes A Legend?
Before I begin my tales, I must pose a question to you, dear reader--
What makes a legend?
Are legends born? Are they bred? Is heroism genetic? Does a heroic father marry a noble mother and bear legendary offspring? Does the fruit of greatness grow from the seeds of parenthood?
Is it fate? Does a great cosmic being (whom common humans could not comprehend) roll a die, draw a lot, spin a wheel, flip a coin, point a finger, and smile? Does a GOD predetermine greatness? Does a FATE decide who will emerge from the dust of the earth?
Or do legends make themselves?
You be the judge.
For my second legend, I will tell the tale of the Eight Legendary Heroes, and the movement to create a new Legend.
But remember, dear reader, not everything I record is false.
The year is 2018 AD, and the world had grown up out of its youth. With the arrival of the twenty-first century, myths and fairy tales were no longer welcome in the lives of everyday people. Legends and folklore that had been passed down for generations no longer held any significance. The world of science, logic, and technology has killed off the world of dragons, giants, and heroes. The battle between fact and fantasy has long ago been won by what could be determined with the senses. Because of this new revolution, all of the legends of the past had been forgotten, lost, hidden, and forbidden, never to be seen by human eyes again...
It then came as no surprise when there was no longer hope for the future in the world...
The Forbidden Legends
(Retold by Kristopher Maxwell Spencer)
Entry One: Asylum--Flashback...
Drip... drip... drip...
Clonk, clonk, clonk...
Drip... drip... drip...
Clonk, clonk, clonk...
A key. An old, rusted key, hardly ever used. A door opening, slowly. The rusted hinges groaning, as if they don't want to release their prisoner. They stop; he tells somebody, "Be careful, she's kinda crazy". Nobody replies, but two sets of footsteps can be heard. One set walks away from the cell--those are the guard's. He doesn't sound like he's in a hurry. It's in the middle of the afternoon; he probably isn't that hungry since it's lunch time. But another pair of footsteps, a softer kind, slowly approaches the cell. They stop. A quick, quiet rustling sound, and the small cot creaks. The visitor has sat down. Somebody wants to talk to her. She just sits there silently, staring at nothing. She knows why her visitor has come. But she will listen to her anyway.
"You're Cassandra? You don't look so dangerous." The woman said nothing. Her face was still fixed in the same position it was in the morning. She could not move most of her body. "Uhh..." Apparently, the visitor was at a loss for words.
"I know why you're here… Daria," says the girl, and her voice is creaky and weak. She hasn't spoken for three straight months now. She cleared her throat and asked her visitor for a glass of water. Her visitor--a kind young lady named Emelia Daria Irwin-- asked a guard, and he gruffly passed her one.
"Sink's working. She won't mind. It's a miracle she kept quiet all this time, though I don't know which is worse--her keeping silent or her ranting on." The visitor thanked the guard and turned on the sink. She filled the glass up, and lifted it to the other woman's mouth. The other woman, a blind patient at a mental institution named Cassandra Claire Nostrum, could not move most of her body. They had put a straitjacket over her.
"Thank you," said Cassandra, and her voice was much clearer. She moved her head over so that she could face the cot. "I know why you're here, Daria," she repeated.
"So what they said in the papers is true," replied Daria, with a small hint of surprise in her voice. "You really are psychic. At least, that's what I gathered."
"That is what got me in here," replied Cassandra quietly--she had a quiet voice, full of thought and a bit of sorrow. "My ability to, well... see things." Now that, noted Cassandra, was an irony: she has been completely blind from birth. A blindfold covered her eyes, yet...
(You've attained some... near-meaningless, almost spiritual understanding of petty things, things you'll probably forget sometime in the future. I dare say, my dear, that, when it comes down to it, all of your troubles you've faced in getting to this point have been a waste of time.)
"What exactly do you mean by that?" asked Daria, snapping Cassandra from her thoughts.
"Even though I am blind," she said with a touch of drama, "I can see more in the space of ten minutes than you ever will in your life, for I can see the future. The future, the present, sometimes even the past comes to me. I foresaw you coming here, Daria, although I don't know how or why."
"You're not sure how you became psychic?"
"…No. I have had this ability for as long as I can remember; that's not what I meant. I mean… I don't know why exactly you're here, when we do not even know each other." Silently, the clock in her room ticked one-hundred twenty times--two minutes had passed in silence. Daria shifted uncomfortably in her seat during that time.
"I was just…"
"I will tell you my story if you tell me yours," said Cassandra suddenly. Daria paused.
"What do you mean?"
"Why you're here, what you want, your story. And I'll tell you mine."
"I thought you said you were psychic." Cassandra allowed a smile, but a faint one. The movement, to her, was a priceless luxury.
"It's not completely perfect. Things come and go. Besides, I haven't had real human contact since my parents died and I left my foster home. Even if I could tell your story for you, I would very much like to be in the company of another human being." A few more seconds passed. Daria inhaled deeply.
"All right. My visitation here isn't over for quite some time, so..."
It all began when my boyfriend Kristopher and I were taking a walk in the forest. We were enjoying the autumn air, and he was completely enraptured by the beautiful artistry before us. The leaves in autumn always had a beautiful color to them. I didn't say anything to him during that trip--I, too, was enjoying the beauty and smell of the world just before it went into winter. It really was a great day…
Now this forest had a highway running through the center of it, but hardly any cars passed through. However, on that particular day, Kris and I noticed that there were many more cars than usual passing through the forest. We really didn't think much of it; it was probably game day in a nearby city and these people were out of town. Football and basketball season was upon us. I suggested this to Kris, who would know that sort of thing since he had been on track and field for three years, but he said that there were no games scheduled just yet. I shrugged and forgot about the small convoy, and we both ended our walk in the forest and got in our car.
We drove into the city and cruised around aimlessly for an hour or so. Suddenly, I noticed police lights. Nothing very surprising; you got used to them in cities this big. But soon I saw more and more police cars tearing through the city, followed by an ambulance. Normally we would never get involved in anything like that, but the cars were heading in the same direction we were.
Eventually we were stopped by a police officer, who had strung up a barricaded line to prevent anyone from going on. Detour signs were everywhere, and all around me I could see people scrambling here and there. Kristopher, finally unable to bear his curiosity, got out of the car and spoke with a nearby officer. I rolled down the window so I could hear.
"What's going on here, officer?" The officer was kind enough to tell him what he wanted to know.
"We got reports of a woman driven to violent insanity. Nearly strangled a few people to death. She's prostrated on the ground right now, although earlier on she was holding innocent people hostage until she got her demands."
"Yeah, it seems as if she just wanted to be heard, although she wasn't making any sense. We had our hostage negotiators come in, but she broke down in the middle of the talks, and she's been paralyzed on the ground ever since."
"What did she want to say?"
"'Nother one of those 'end-of-the-world' fanatics. You don't see them too much anymore, and the ones you do see really aren't a threat. We're taking her over to the nearest hospital first for possible hyperventilation treatment, then we'll see what to make of her." Kristopher was stunned at first, and took a bit of time to absorb everything. He then asked the guard how to get out of the police barricade, thanked the officer, and we went on our way.
"I didn't stay at that hospital for long," said Cassandra suddenly. Daria looked up at her.
"No. Although I do have occasional respiratory problems, I didn't have very serious injuries then, so they transported me over to here. I've been here for half a year now, and I finally stopped trying to convince people about three months ago. Up until now, I haven't spoken since."
"…Convince? What do you mean?" Cassandra ignored Daria's question, however.
"You did not answer my question. Why are you here? Did you come over here to see for yourself who the crazy woman was?" A weak chuckle came from Daria's direction.
"Sad to say, but yes. I... I wanted to see if you were telling the truth. I was so intrigued about what I heard… and what I saw… There was just something different about you. I admit, it took a long time for me to muster up the courage to come over here all by myself. But what did you mean by 'convince'?" Cassandra paused, her head facing away from her visitor. Her straitjacket made her look more despondent and noble than a person could probably become.
"The world shall soon come to an end," she whispered in a hollow voice, "in the most horrifying way. And there is nothing that can prevent it…" Daria became silent, absorbing what she had heard. A tear somehow made its way through Cassandra's blindfold, and her body shook despite the restraints.
"What do you mean?" asked Daria slowly. She paused, and swallowed.
"In my dreams, I have seen great terror enveloping this planet. In my nightmares, I lay awake screaming as the image of death creeps closer to us. I'm not certain about the details, but... humanity will suffer a thousand years of pain in the span of a day... I saw people being slaughtered like wheat before harvest, and a great black hand covering the land until the planet cracks and shatters, no more. And there is… nothing that will prevent this…" More tears of terror soaked Cassandra's blindfold, and her calm breath increased slightly.
"What's wrong, are you hyperventilating?" asked Daria, inching towards her.
"Nothing is wrong at the moment," said Cassandra, her calm voice trembling. She slowly caught her breath, regained her poise, and shook her head. "I will be fine. I just need to catch my breath. Sometimes I find it difficult to breathe under stress. There should be a clean rag under my pillow on the cot. Will you please wipe my forehead with it?" Daria found it and did as she asked. The cloth was cold and very wet when she finished drying Cassandra's forehead.
"Should I clean your blindfold too?"
"No," she stated, shaking her head. "That is a mask of honor. It holds more tears than you would ever suspect." Daria sat down on the cot, studying the strange woman before her. Cassandra was wrapped up in a straitjacket, perhaps deemed too dangerous to be freed from the device. She had a fair and pretty face, partially covered by the cloth, and long honey-blonde hair that was untied and free. She was beautiful, but gave off a feeling of sadness and unknown misery.
"Besides," noted the other woman, "I am only borrowing this rag here. My glasses are currently in the possession of staff members, at least until I am 'safe' and 'sane' enough to be trusted with glass." An unknown amount of time passed before either of the girls spoke again.
"…What did you mean when you said that nothing would prevent the world's premature end?" asked Daria slowly. Cassandra's face turned towards Daria's suddenly; for a moment, Daria could swear that she really could see through the blindfold...
"I'm not comfortable talking about it. I'd have to trust you first. Do you really believe my prophecy, Daria? So far, I have lived up to my name: I am doomed to know the future, and yet nobody will believe me. Do you?" Daria paused, heavily considering everything. She had heard those end-of-the-world fanatics before, and how they ranted and raved and screamed at everyone around them about a day of doom. She brushed them all off as being mad, but Cassandra spoke calmly and steadily, and didn't seem like the kind of person who would lie. Daria didn't know what to say at first.
"I'm not quite sure. I know I should, but... I still have so many questions. I... I think I believe you. You knew my name--who I was, without me telling you."
"I also know that you and Kristopher have been together for two years, eight months, and eleven days." Daria nodded slowly.
"That's right. There's no way you could have known that unless… Well, I guess I should believe you, after all." Daria touched Cassandra's shoulder, and she smiled with great relief, as if a very heavy burden had been lifted off just then.
"Thank you, Daria. I know that that was a sincere expression. Now... I stated that the world cannot be saved, it will not be saved. You asked why. The answer is simple: in the past, whenever the world was in danger, there was always a legend or a myth or a fairy tale or a prophecy telling of some element that would rid the world of the oppression and give freedom to the people. Although many of these examples are fantasy and not relevant to real life, you would be surprised how many of the old legends actually came true.
"But we live in a world where legends no longer exist. The hopes of the world, the dreams and the optimism, have all been killed away due to the absence of legends. Because there are no longer any legends in the world to prophecy against it, nothing can prevent this planet's inevitable end..." Suddenly, before Daria could reply, the stomping of footsteps could be heard, and soon a guard was peering into the cell.
"Okay ma'am, time's up. ...Hey, aren'tcha gettin' sick of tellin' people your end-of-the-world hash, Cassandra? Or have you decided to give it one more swing? You know, the boys could hear your nonsense all the way down near the break room. Even the other patients are starting to complain."
"My apologies, sir," replied Cassandra with bridled bitterness. "I was merely recapping my thoughts to my visitor." Said visitor looked up at the guard.
"She's not bothering me, sir."
"Yeah, well, your time's up anyway, Miss." Daria nodded obediently, rose, and bade Cassandra a brief farewell. She merely thanked her visitor for believing in her.
"As for you, miss," pointed the guard, "I though you were given instructions to keep the Apocalypse Talk down."
"I have, sir. As you are aware, I have not mentioned anything affiliated with my revelations in three months."
"Yeah, well, you haven't mentioned anything in three months, which might be another good reason to keep you in here. I don't know why you refuse to be quiet all the time--"
"The only thing I have to say, I have already said," stated Cassandra. "I was told to never mention my 'Apocalypse Talk', as you call it, and I have not. But that is all I will ever speak of, until somebody heeds me or else I die." A small pause.
"Whatever. Just be a normal girl for a few more weeks and maybe we'll let you out of that straitjacket and you won't need that blindfold. Few more months of good behavior and you might be relocated to a less strict asylum. A few years down the road, maybe two, and you'll be back outside, rehabilitated. Zat' sound good?" Cassandra did not respond. The guard left her cell, shaking his head. But today Cassandra did not cry out of hopeless despair as she did so many times before, for today she found a single ray of hope in an unexpected friend.
Drip... drip... drip...
Someday,thought Cassandra, I will ask one of the guards to fix the leaky faucet in my cell.