Close to the End of the Tale

•June 17, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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The title, is, of course, only a reference to the chronological order of the story.

This is the image given to the Scholars, from the last of the satellites orbiting the Earth.

It was over a thousand years ago. There are no more satellites now; all have perished in the intense heat of Sol’s radiation. None could be protected like Earth was, by the Shields.

Now, even the Shields themselves are overworked. And some die, resulting in more pressure on the remaining ones, as Sol continues to kick-out in her final stand against Death.

There was once a Philosopher, who was kept alive by the Scholars… as one would keep alive the statue of Ozymandias… the Absurdist Albert Camus…

It was a similar, though unexpressed, attitude I found in the Sword Saint; he was determined to make, to ensure, he would not cease to exist. More on this connection at another time.

THE LAST TIME I SAW THE SWORD SAINT

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This is fairly late in our tale; by this time, Sol’s death cries had echoed around the planet to such an extent, there were few Shields, or, sadly, people, left on the Earth. The Nexus Point of the Shields was one of the few safe places left, and, by this time, not for very long.

This is where we implemented the final part of our plan, and this involved a final farewell.

De Carte, who has not been mentioned yet in my chronicles, was preparing his desperate last assault against the Sword Saint and I. My job was ensure he could not take the Base Station of the Nexus Point. Kensai’s role in this was to buy me time. We understood we would never again see each other again. I had no doubt, at the time, Kensai would manage to hold off De Carte – who is, credit given where credit is due, not an imbecile to put it mildly – and his mercenary company.

I, however, doubted my ability to make the most of this time he was buying for me – at great cost. The end result is, well, considering you are receiving this, fairly obvious.

I remember how I felt. My travels with him had been difficult. I had witnessed some of the most disgusting specimens of humanity. I had witnessed what I knew were – originally – good decent people that had become monsters; people such as De Carte, for instance (I apologise, but this will only be elaborated on later in the story).

I also witnessed what appeared to me to be cruel acts by the Sword Saint; merciless acts of… execution. That horrified me. Still. And how do I excuse this, despite the world we live in? How do I find a way to excuse his ability to suddenly cut off his empathy (which he had in great supply) for another human being, and act in such a quick, absolute, manner?

I can only rationalise it thus:

Most of the people, who at the start of the story still lived, remained in decrepit cities, struggling for survival, but in no way would attempt to wander out of the city limits. Few would brave the harshness of the stilted wilderness our planet had become.

A Sword Saint would, but only through sheer strength of character and of will. To face a group of twenty psychopaths, grouped together for mutual survival, takes more than mere confidence in your skills, or courage. It takes an ability to focus so totally on the moment that there is nothing left inside you, except for the flickering of the Flame.

This is also a subject we have not covered yet, but I learnt of it, and of how it allows for one such as a Sword Saint to exist at all. This will be mentioned later.

And so, finally, as the world was her death-throes, as the population across the globe began to disintegrate, and the last few of our species began to engage in the kind of conflict we’ve endured since the dawn of humanity, for the last time, I will always remember how he looked at me, how I tried to find the words to express my emotions at this ending, of our journey, of our world… and he waited, with reasonable patience considering the situation, and finally, he half-smiled, and bowed his head to me, gently, and turned to face De Carte’s last desperate attempt to stay alive.

Last of the Sword Saints

•April 10, 2007 • 3 Comments

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It was during the course of our long journey to the Place of the Ancients that I came to know how truly skilled my companion was. Oh, when I first met him, on the beaches of Duhbain, along the coasts that carry the current of the Indian Ocean… There I recognised the strength in him. Like many in our time, he carried a melee weapon of some sort. But that meant little. Most of those who carried such weapons were simple bandits, or desperate travelers forced to know as much martial skill as their inner person was capable of.

But he was different, even then I noticed it, when we had first met. But the Lunar Incident, where our moon, who had been growing brighter through the centuries, suddenly flared up in such vividness that all in my vicinity were drawn to her, along the beaches of the East Coast. Most knew what this event signified…

But for a time, a quiet mesmorising time, we were hypnotised by it… drawn like moths to fire. Simply staring.

It meant our immenient doom. And not just ours; but our species, our world, all of history.

There were machines; built far after your time was done. These machines were built by Ancients who had sensed Sol’s lifespan was reaching it’s end.

As Sol grew brighter in the sky, they had devised the Shields… based on ancient devices littered throughout Earth. They helped to absorb a vastly increasing heat, an increasing radiation. And they helped to ensure life would continue for some time longer. But even they knew it that it was only a preventative measure. We had lost the chance to become Space-born some time before they utilised the technology that allowed for the shield.

But they had given Humanity a chance to continue for – what was measurable in cosmic terms – a little bit longer. There was hope that somehow, somehow, something or someone would come along to save us.

To that end, they founded a company, known as The Order of Scholars, who had since trained the most intellectually gifted they found, in the hopes of finding another supreme genius, like Gias Hume, who had initially came up with the possibility, on a theoretical level, of how the Shields could be constructed.

But, of course, he came at a time long after yours had already passed.

I digress… It is important, for me, that you know of how the last tale of humanity began:

I had wandered onto the dirty beaches of the East Coast. There was already a huge crowd, all of which were staring into the sky. It was partly fate or luck, I think, that I had ended up standing beside a dark featured man, dressed in an old, but well-kept, off-white suit.

I did not notice him at first, nor the nature of the blade strapped to his right hip, the sabre that only the Kensai ever used…

We all stared at Lunar’s unnatural glow, and in small groups there were those starting to come out of shock, and coming to realise the impact of what we were witnessing. In the distance, the sound of sobbing…
It echoed, and the echo started to ripple, and ripple, and soon all around us there was crying, lamenting, sobbing, shrieks, grown men falling to their knees in despair, their teeth gritting together as tears fell along their cheeks.

I was one of them, my head bowed, my knees sinking into the sand. And then, this stranger in his beige suit slapped me on the back of my head. Not hard, but just hard enough, just precise enough for me to snap out of my despair and turn my face to look at his.

“You. You are a Scholar.”

“Yes,” I replied. “How…”

“Your arm.”

Of course, I replied. I wear a Scholar’s Arm, a computational device from the time of the Ancients who founded our Order, designed to last as long as the machines that shielded us from Sol’s fury. Unlike the Shield, it was not under assault… though it soon would be.

“Get up,” he said. And reached for my arm, pulling me to my feet, though not unkindly.

“Why? It’s over. We’re finished. Why?”

It was then I noticed, though his face was filled with grim determination, there was a single streak, highlighted by Lunar’s light, that ran down from his tearduct, down his cheek to his chin.

“Because I know a way to save us. And for it to succeed I will need your help.”

A Tale at the End of Time…

•April 4, 2007 • 3 Comments

 Lunar, Messenger of Doom

Between the Fall of Global Civilisation and the Death of a Dying Earth was an Age Undreamed…

Lunar, our moon, is bathed in the harsh light of Sol, our sun. For centuries now she has glowed brighter. We, humanity, are nothing. We failed to escape our own world, and now we prepare for the inevitable.

There is no escape now. Old technologies are lost. Wisdom is found in one’s own soul now. Many fear to face the end, but there is one who struggles on, who has found his own way through his own code…

Through the old, almost forgotten code of Bushido, he has become a swordsman without peer. And as he faces the end of not just himself, but all humanity, he journeys to find his own final peace.

This is the Dying Earth Saga, which follows the Adventures of Kensai, Last of the Sword-Saints. And it is a legend that you, from a far distant past, can know only because of a warp in Space-Time, caused by the eminent death of Sol.

And I, the Chronicler of the Kensai, can turn into History a tale that is told at the End of all Time

 
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