“Leave ‘Em Laughing” – An Exercise in Myth-Crafting

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I recently did an exercise in which I needed to create a group of powerful characters who marked the history of their world. So I created this small lore-driven narrative with an enthusiastic amount of my imagination. It was tremendous fun, even if I did just throw words at the wall in some spots to see what stuck. Who knows, I might use some of this in the future, ’cause I think it turned out pretty solid.  Hope you enjoy.

We are in the business of playing god.  It pays well.

When first we began, there were only a humble two in our party, those being my brother and I.  We didn’t have much, but perhaps that’s what we needed most.  I’m not sure the Red Father would have given us urchins any mind if we’d been pampered or acquainted with fortune.  He was not one to lust for the weak of will.

The King of All saw the plight of us brothers, how we sacrificed our meat for small triumphs.  I broke my leg once chasing a dog, but we caught him in the end.  I didn’t even care, he tasted as good as a mutt could taste.  Besides, on the deadroads, nobody cared about the life of a curr, even if it belonged to them.  So we killed, we thieved, we learned the dramatic and infinite art of destruction.

My brother in particular was a deity with the craft of arsony, knowing exact measurements, exact tones for the making of brilliant flame.  His skill lead to obsession, and in years, that obsession warped into pathology, something defined by empathizing with the inferno’s anxious craving to eat anything and all.  He could hear the whisper of the embers, see the suffering of their soul.  What’s more, he kept more company with fire than even I, his kin.  Dejian even went so far as to speak with the fire, to prostrate himself before its majesty.  Some say the blaze, untameable and unfettering as we’d always believed it to be, heard his voice and loved him like a son.  So Dejian has been heralded as the second coming of the Pyromath, for his innate knowledge of the Tongue of the Flame and religious commitment to the inferno itself.

It wasn’t until years later, after we’d grown into men, we would meet the others.  Already us brothers had conspired the fall of one of the most powerful economic cities in the Northeastern dominance, we’d set fire to the Chalice of Quickening, and it was by our hands that both the King of Viga and all of his heirs met their passing.  Twice we’d seen the walls of prison, twice we left them in shambles.

Perhaps is was only natural that the Father would see our efforts and show us His love.

To be invited into His pool of world-changers was a dream fulfilled for which I didn’t even know I’d longed.  Back then, it was just about becoming something.  All of the violence, the power, the sex, the narcotics, the revolutions.  They were a coming-of-age prerequisite for what The King of All had forever intended to be our true purpose.  An insidious criteria we’d fulfilled on accident.

We came together all at once.  I’d heard some of their names before, but others operated with so much precaution and covertness that they may as well not have existed.  In total, there were ten, with my brother and I.  A force of unrequited and indomitable power, forged and united under the singular goal of representing our Father.

History has many names for us.  Lately, we’ve been known as The Carnival, but we’ve carried other titles.  The Duke of Chaos, whom we waged war against for thirty-one hundred years, hails us as The Oppression.  For two millennia in the Southern dominance, we were heralded as either The Unkind Hand or Sha’Ju, which was basically their tongue for the same thing.  After we assassinated the Four Corners of Creation, we were forever engraved as The Bastard Children.  Once, a great warrior managed to seal us into the temporal deadzone known as Tiqtokk.  Most records of Tiqtokk were forgotten even before we’d found ourselves in its clutches, and that’s ages past now.  Once we killed that place’s infernal gatekeeper and found our way back to reality, we found we’d taken yet another name.  The Undying.  But still, my personal favorite, and I think most would agree, was the name given to us by a clergyman.

Seeking refuge after our perilous encounter with The Abstraction (an abysmal creature the likes of which even I would rather not recall), we landed in a nowhere village on the Western-most skirt of the mapped world.  There, we bunkered down in the local church, which we’d falsely assumed had been abandoned.  If you’d seen its decadence, you would have understood our reasoning.  Yet, the morning after we’d had time to heal, the head priest found us resting beneath the mural of his lord and savior, its outstretched wings giving us sanctuary.  When his eyes befell us, he toppled over himself in terror.  At first we were stunned and confused, but that man, he must have had something sharp in his spirit, for his perception was better than most under mortal jurisdiction.  His words, they tumbled from his mouth like vomit, but through repetition, we were able to understand.

“Red,” he stuttered, the stink of urine soiling between his thighs, “The Ten Reds.  The Ten Reds.”

Turns out, we were prophesied in their holy book.  We were the ones who would come to be the conclusion of all things outside eternity.  It was appropriate, since our Father, the King of All, whose true name I would not blemish, was red itself.  It was his identity and being.  That there were, in fact, ten of us in his army, was a delicious coincidence.

We promptly killed that man.  More specifically, I ate him.  He tasted better than most.  An incorrigible fate for one so dutiful to their faith.  I feared he’d been praying to the wrong god.

Still, we had identities unto ourselves.  That was bound to happen, even to the most discreet of us.  Time, action, and mortal fascination were doomed to bare names and characters to us eventually.  A century ago, we tallied how many religions we’d been featured in, either as a group, or as separate beings.  Some of those religions formed around us, others crafted themselves specifically to our motives and actions.  As blasphemic as it was, they couldn’t have known better.  They couldn’t have known they worshipped the disciples of god rather than god himself.  For the record, we stopped counting after we hit two-hundred and eighty.

As for our members, I’ll do a brief, and I stress that word, detail of who we are.

I am Yaro, the Scribe, the Cannibal, the Slavekeeper.  I am most notorious for feeding on the Queen of Guile and her family, all of whom are consequently stored in my Book for safekeeping.  There is not much to be said of my accomplishments.  Among my peers, I am perhaps of the least impressionable substance.

My brother as I’ve named him, is Dejian.  He is a mute, save for his Tongue of the Flame affinity.  Mythos herald Dejian as a vengeful, hateful spirit that steals children from their beds and drags them into hell.  That only happened once, and suddenly it’s what he’s best known for, which is a shame.  He’s done far worse things.

Hell isn’t even that bad.  They should see Tiqtokk or Silas’s Chamber.  Those places deserve to be Hell more than Hell does.  Trust me, I’ve spent a fair time in all three.

Quinika the Wing is our youngest member.  When she joined, she was only twelve.  Of course, that was circa five-thousand years ago, so age doesn’t mean much anymore.  Quinika is a centerpiece in many religions as a goddess of beauty, which was a fair assessment, because that’s basically what she has become.  With the exception of her single-handed destruction of the navy of the north kingdom back in the first years (it doesn’t really count for technical reasons), her most renown achievement reflects the time she was publically challenged by the ten-time champion of the Immortal Tournament.  She did not win, but she held her own for over twenty-five minutes, which is five times longer than I lasted.  What’s more, she managed to wound him, a feat that only one other member of our party has ever managed.  She did this at the ripe age of eighty, which basically made her an infant in relative terms.  Her primary title was also granted by that champion, when he reverently dubbed her “The Unyielding Bitch.”

Brand is our team’s muscle.  I mean, we are all pretty bloody strong, but he in particular was set for doing the heavy lifting.  It’s literally what history has given him for a legacy.  I cannot tell you how many statues we have passed where Brand is on a knee, holding up the world with one arm, cradling his famous Starborn Axe in the other.  Brand the Impenetrable.  The Severance.  The One in Seven, which he got according to some old Illiaric folklore.  Though he hates to admit it, he’s probably our most important member, because he’s basically the punching bag in most fights.  He just does not go down.  While we’ve had a hard time figuring out which of his actions has made the deepest scar in history, it’s probably when The King of All tasked him with holding open the Gate of Sirens, so that we might have enough time to arrive and do battle with The Hero’s champions.  That gate, for the record, is heavier than the world, apparently.  Or so Brand has crowed on about endlessly for the last several centuries.

Ori is the second of our three female members and my god is she an animal.  I cannot handle Ori’s energy half the time.  I don’t know how, after all these years, she still manages to be as relentlessly enthusiastic as the day we met.  Believe it or not, Ori’s greatest testament and gift to this world is a sport, one of her own design.  After three-thousand years, she’d managed to become the most mechanically proficient player of nearly any physical activity she put her mind to, even when she limited herself for the sake of competition.  Finding this boring, she created Ori Disking, after being inspired by flinging the Spiked Angel’s shield at him like a disk and rending him in half.  She was the Barefoot Princess, the Lust of the Wild, and many other colorful, decorative names, so many in count that we’ve failed to keep up.  If any of our party were to be loved by the world, it was Ori.  And that’s amazing, because she once cut the sky in half with a kick, incidentally allowing sunlight to burn tens of thousands of people to death.  You’d think that would have killed her good name, but it didn’t.

Damn Ori.  She was one of the most beautiful women precluding eternity.

Our sixth member doesn’t even really have an actual name.  If he does, I still don’t know it.  I call him Tomiro, after the ancient Nigona’s traditional naming process for children.  Each parent takes one suffix from either of their own parents, and they merge the suffix into one new, generational helix. “To” could be transcribed as “thorn” or “nettle,” while “miro” was often meant as a compliment in “warrior,” but could also mean “suffering.”  This is to say, when I explained the name to my contemporaries, I gave it the appropriate fanfare, claiming the name basically summed up to “Thorn warrior” because Tomiro was a pain the sides of our adversaries, but in truth I preferred to think of him as an insufferable nettle in my life.

Tomiro is the only other member of our party to damage the champion of the Immortal Tournament.  It required him to unseal the fifth hydra emblem on his chest though, which he’d been prohibited to do by his clansman father, the one who reared him in the baptism of assassination and merciless abandon.  Doing so caused all living members of Tomiro’s clan to forfeit their lives to provide the power necessary to fight an otherwise insurmountable opponent.  It was a gesture reserved only for killing their longtime nemesis, the Comet.  Well, together we took out that witch only two-hundred years into our pilgrimage, so he didn’t really need it for that anymore.  Because of this action, we’ve unabashedly labelled Tomiro as the most selfish among us, since it shows exactly how far he was willing to go just for a decent fight.  And truly, that’s all he cares about.  Tomiro is a vain, narcissistic, cruel brat who even after so long on our team, still prefers to do everything on his own.  It’s for this that he’s known as the Finger of God, single-handedly crippling both armies during the Battle of Trimerton.  This, after saying he didn’t need our help.  And he didn’t.  Other names include The Breathing Shadow, Prince of Papercuts, and my personal favorite, because it came to pass coincidentally and without my help, the Thorn Child.

In the deepest mines of the South providence is a village forsaken by fortune, a place where the nefarious “Bloodforge” resurrected against the will of the natives.  From this Bloodforge came Mallory, the third daughter of our Red Father.  Mallory scares the most unholy of hells out of me.  The Blood Visage, Her Dreadfulness, Stari’na (named after the occultic sanguine goddess as popular in the Eastern underground), and She Who Is are only a few of the loving titles Mallory has met over the millennias passed.  While she is historically most known for breaking the Six Crystals of the floating kingdom Extormica and bringing the whole thing down, it’s really her little quirks that scare the piss out of people.  Even among our strange and demented company (this is coming from a cannibal, remember), Mallory is fond of pushing the boundaries of convention.  Men, women, children, pregnant women, doesn’t matter, Mallory would indiscriminately drain them of all their life blood, assimilating it into a deep well of…something inside her core.  With the remaining bones, organs, sinew, and god knows what else, she would form clothing and small appliances for herself.

Mallory is the only among us who seems to hold no regard for revering our Red Father.  Instead, she deliberately promotes the sacrilegious worship of herself within many cultures.  She enjoys being a goddess.  How the King of All tolerates such behavior is still beyond me.

Coming in at number eight is Suga.  Suga could be known for many things.  Instead, he is almost uniformly, without fail, regarded as the legend with the idiotically massive sword.  Suga is of arbitrary significance in light of the fact that he wields this weapon, the notorious Vindra Kai, created from the bonemeal of the last demon king of Silas’s Chamber.  He stole the damn thing from Silas himself, which I’ll have you know, is one of the most blatantly retarded and reckless things in our entire history of existing as a species inside and outside of mankind.  For perspective, this is tantamount to making a heist of Satan’s father’s most prized possession.  You’re basically demanding to get dragged into Hell and tormented until time burns away.

If it were not for Silas being trapped in the chamber, I have no doubt he would have already come, ripped out our eyes, and wrung our necks with our own optic nerves.  Suga is actually fairly gentle compared to the rest of our troupe, and prefers diplomatic resolution wherever possible.  Naturally, this makes him one of the only people I can actually stomach.  Not that I’m altruistic, mind you, but after what feels like a million years of violence, it’s nice to have alternatives every once in awhile.  Suga can fight hard, though, when the need arises.  He’s naturally protective, and at a point, even spawned a child in the early years.  Mallory killed both child and mother, so needless to say, those two do not get along well.

Ninth.  Wallace.  He was technically the final installment in our roster of ten, but it wasn’t always like that.  For the longest time, he simply followed us.  He followed and followed.  For some reason, we could not shake him, and when we inevitably tried to kill him, we found we could not.  Apparently he’s cursed to be unable to take intentional harm.  Only accidental damage can hurt Wallace, which is harder to accomplish than you’d think.  Eventually, he blended in with us until the Red Father took a liking to the kid and made him a permanent member.

Wallace is a bit mentally absent, and not in your typical daydreamer’s sort of way.  He mutters a lot to himself, usually chanting about physical features of people he’s killed in the past.  Wallace also seems to possess some degree of precognition, making him that much more difficult to kill.  All of his names seem to stem from his aloofness or psychic admonition and not his inclination for being one of the most powerful men in history.  The Sloth, Drift, the Perfect Harmony, the Eye of Tempari, whatever.  Those people were fools.  Wallace was unbelievably dangerous, as I’ve witnessed first-hand.

I mean, how many people could boast that they’d walked through literal Hell and came out the other side completely unfazed.  Nobody.  Not any of us.  Except Wallace.  Except freaking Wallace.  Damn, he actually made friends while we were there.  Like, what?

Then there’s the tenth member, Asher.  This man is a tempest if ever there was one.  Asher has many names, perhaps more than any other member of our troupe, but there is always one that roots up in every culture, in every religion, in every ghost story.  Perhaps you’ve heard the title, as it echoes with force throughout all histories.  “Yggdrassil.”  It is a name that was specifically given by the Red Father himself.  None of us know where Asher came from.  Asher does not know where he came from.  By birth and nature, he has two sides to his existential coin.  There’s the natural, already immensely powerful man on the surface, who wields a lethal brand of charisma with as much proficiency as his mastery over all material weapons.  Then, should this fail him, he is able to resurrect the “Broken Man,” a transformative ability which dyes his body black and red, fills his eyes with uncured white, and drowns him in strength.  I have never seen Asher lose while in this form, and it is my personal theory that, should he ever face the Immortal Champion with his transformation in full swing, it would likely cripple at least one dimensional plane under the weight of their struggle.

So, yes, we are all strong.  We have done many things and are commissioned to do many more before our time is done.  We are loved, hated, revered, feared, and all else in the spectrums between.  We have fun with it sometimes, but our work is not a joke, even if sometimes our victims are reduced to cackling fools as we cut them down.  What can I say?  It’s what people do.  Take away everything, steal all of their hope, and you can do nothing but chuckle at your own plight.

    We take a sick pride in this.  We love to leave ‘em laughing.

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