There's no point me telling you of the names for me.
They all mean the same anyway: they're all said the same way. With a derisive
spit, with a look of disgust, hating the monster I am. But always, just underneath
the disgust, a tinge of fear too - because that's what the name commands, and
what I order, and you shall obey me, whether you want to or not. No one ever
dares to cross me…well, not twice, at any rate.
But call me what you will -- I am different.
I have something they do not, those blades for hire, those who trade lives in
coin, those who you mock and fear and pity. I have honour. And there you will
spit again and maybe laugh a little. What honour, you'd say. You would mix it
with morals and codes and rules and get it wrong. You do not understand. I do
not have honour; I am…honour-bound.
Hah! To most of you that meant nothing. But if
you came from where I do, from the tiny secluded valley tucked away to the west
of Neopia, you'd gasp. Because honour is everything there. And, perhaps, if
you didn't spit so much or call me a monster, you'd wonder how I came to be
what I am, how I fell, and why I am honour-bound. And maybe I'd tell you.
In Dannen Valley, there are still great clans,
tightly knit families, proud and dominant. We are said to be the remnants of
the packs, that roamed Neopia before a great war split pets apart again. We
were the most loyal packs, the closest, the most trusting -- we stayed together,
and formed our own society, removed from the other pets who now wandered alone.
Or that, at least, is what my father passed down to me: the tangled history
of our family, in all its noble glory. Lies have no doubt twisted the truth
a great deal, but the essence remains -- the honour at the heart of it, holding
us together through the darkest of times.
Do you know who our valley was named after? One
of my great ancestors. What was he? A brave warrior, who saved us from monsters
and floods; a humble healer, who cured the sick; a wise pet who gave sage counsel?
No. He took his daughter's life, because she was losing his family honour, and
he was revered as a hero. I think that one fact tells you more about my homeland
than I ever could. He gave her life, and took it away again -- because he had
honour. Like me. But all I do is take life, on my unerring quest for honour.
So what am I then? Honour-bound too. Honour bound
to avenge my family, to uphold their honour because they no longer can. My father
and mother -- gone. My sister -- sold into slavery, I suspect. And there is
only me left: me and my family's blade. And, always, my honour. What does it
matter now, you might ask? I am free now, to do as I wish, without honour, or
duty. But it goes deeper than that. I could not live with myself if I broke
my honour. It is ingrained in me now -- it has become my passion, my spirit,
my whole self. My blade seeks revenge; I seek honour.
And where have my searches led me?
Look behind you.
I am there.
I watch your eyes flick over me. I am a Krawk,
as you can see, my shadowed body lithe and lean. My frame is muscled and strong,
and I stand just a few inches shorter than you. My stance is casual, relaxed
almost, but my paw is on the hilt of my dagger. I could kill you where you stand,
if I minded to. I carry daggers strapped around my waist, and another two braces
of them loop around my chest. Some are light, throwing daggers; some are intended
for closer work. Do not think of moving, or running - I can nail a fly at 50
paces. You would be no problem at all.
By my side, hangs my family's sword. It lies
in a black and silver sheath, its handle bound in the same colours. It is still
in perfect condition, but I assure you, it has seen much use. Strange how many
seem to wish to stand in my way. Perhaps you will learn the reason for this
soon enough. Perhaps you too will wish to stand in my path. Or perhaps you are
not that much of a fool.
Do you fear me? You should. Do not run; I will
hunt you. Do not scream; for I will silence you. No one else can see me -- you
and I only exist here. The honour-bound are only seen by those they choose to
reveal themselves too. I have cloaked myself in blackness, until even the shadows
do not know I am here.
Look up now. Look into my eyes. See them, like
black holes in my face, boring into you with piercing keenness, reflecting nothing
back, betraying nothing. I have no emotions left -- they were burnt away long
ago. I am wrapped in darkness now. I have dealt in shadows for too long, and
they have stolen my soul away. All that is left are my eyes, and their gaping
emptiness, their eternal black that pierces you to the core.
Why am I here? Why do you care? Can you feel
empathy for me, this hardened killer, long lost its humanity? Do you pity? If
so, you are a fool. I do not deserve your emotions, nor do I care for them.
I lost mine long ago -- why waste your feelings on me? I am here for one reason,
and one alone.
I wish to find my sister…for honour's sake.
I want to find her…and destroy her.
Will you help?
This is what my honour is. This is the noblest
of emotions. The honour that makes us too stupid to run from war; the honour
that makes Neopia so great; the honour that leads us further into death and
decay. This is the choice I put to you. If you will not help me destroy her,
then I will destroy you. You could just help me -- it would be so easy. Or you
could try to destroy me; you could stand in my way. Or you could run or try
to persuade me with silvered words. What will you do?
I hold your eyes for a second then turn away.
It does not matter - this choice will not be
made today, not by you. But, perhaps one day, it will. What will you do then?
You say you would fight me or run, perhaps, or talk me around. But, in your
heart of hearts, would you truly? Or would you sacrifice the life of a stranger,
who is nothing to you, for your own, that is so dear to you?
You fear me without cause, for now at any rate.
I am not reality; I am but a story you thought up. My history is made up, my
honour but a thought to toy with in your mind. But I am also a test: I am the
voice in the back of your head, that whispers the thoughts you don't want to
think. I am not behind you -- I am in you. And while the choice may never be
made, I say to you this:
When we hold humans at arms' length, we strip
humanity from them.
Open your heart and your arms.
And choose right.