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Saving souls

by on March 21, 2011

“I should be the one to go. I am strong, fast and skilled. I can get in and save them, and I can get out. Nothing can stop me. I have faced far worse terrors than this, and always won. This challenge was made for me!”

“These people need moral and spiritual succour and support. I have trained my mind and body for over fifty years in accepting the little surprises and interesting events that life throws at us. I should be there to help these people embrace their circumstances.”

The custodian gazed down at the two men standing before him: the magnificent Nordic soldier and the slight old man. This really was a most bizarre situation. The two great men had argued all night or rather ‘had enlightening discussions’ since brave soldiers did not argue with old men, and wise gurus did not argue with anyone. Each wanted to be the one to give up his life on a desperate quest with no reward except reputation.

The earthquake hit two days ago, causing utter chaos. One of the worst-hit areas was the mountain school of Manxia, which had become a symbol in this tragedy. The earthquake had cut it off from all communications. Now the slightest tremor would bring the mountain down. The chances of anyone having survived were slim, and chances of a rescue party making it in and out were even slimmer.

“Gentlemen, your help is not required. I have recently been informed that a group of concerned relatives snuck into the mountains early this morning to be with their loved ones. We cannot allow another group to go in, so let us pray that they achieve peace and possibly safety without your aid.”

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4 Comments
  1. cbraz permalink

    Sorry its late. Yesterday was not a good day for writing.

  2. Two “heroes” have presented themselves as candidates to be sent into an area that has recently been devastated by an earthquake (very topical). The region is now dangerous, and the heroes both feel that they are the logical choice to the exclusion of the other. However, the person involved with making the decision informs them that they are too late: normal villagers, moved by the plight of their relatives, have themselves gone off to face the dangers in the mountains and to help the people.

    I enjoyed how this plays against the heroes: it is the normal people who go off into danger, without seeking permission or looking for reputation, and the heroes’ bravado become hollow.

    > I have trained my mind and body for over fifty years in accepting
    > the little surprises and interesting events that life throws at us.
    I wasn’t very convinced by this. The situation will clearly involve more than “little surprises and interesting events”.

    > Each wanted to [be the one to] give up his life
    I thought the bracketed text could be removed, to make the sentence pithier.

    The ending is great; it feels like it just stops, and gives no explanation. We’re left to fill that in ourselves, which I like.

  3. I really enjoyed this and thought it hit ‘Vainglory’ brilliantly.

    Loved the way our impressions of the heroes are slowly and deeply changed from heroic to self-serving over the course of the fic. Loved the setting and the foreign ideas like ‘mountain school of ..’ – really works for this kind of abstract story.

    I thought ‘Each wanted to be the one to give up his life on a desperate quest with no reward except reputation.’ was perhaps a bit obvious compared to the rest but it didn’t jar at the time.

    Enjoyed the fact that the others had just gone ahead and done it without talking about it in the end – this too illustrates an element of Vainglory.

  4. parfles permalink

    Hello. I found this peace a little difficult to buy into. What troubled me was the contrived-seeming scenario of only one person being allowed to go into the earthquake zone. Why only one? There can’t be a physical limit, and it doesn’t seem safe. The families snuck in and there seems to be little worry about the fact that lots of people went. Also, letting the heroes argue all night while people are possibly dying seems irresponsible.

    The language used by the heroes seems fairly archaic, like something from a legend. But the earthquake seems current, indeed topical – I wasn’t sure if I should read it as a legend or a contemporary story.

    “brave soldiers did not argue with old men, and wise gurus did not argue with anyone.” was nice and neat phrasing.

    “The two great men had argued all night or rather” – I suggest a comma before “or rather”

    Did not quite work for me, unfortunately, but interesting take on the current earthquakes nevertheless!

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