Medievia Mudslinger

April 21st, 2002

The Ethics of Opposition - By Shinjimai

"No!" she yelled, "Please don't kill me! Someone has to teach the children!" Shinjimai reached out at her again, grabbing her throat and squeezing, the deep aura surrounding his hand shriveling her skin like potent poison. The woman let loose an ear-piercing scream, one that pained my ears, as she struggled to get free. She failed in her attempt at escape and forfeited her life.

He turned and looked at me now, eyes shining, aura a deeper red than before, and I realized something: this wasn't just serving his dark god. Shinjimai actually derived pleasure from the act of murder.

"Well," he said to me, "that should be about it." He paused, looking at the palm of his glowing hand, small pieces of flesh attached to it from his latest victim. As I watched, it slowly shrank and withered into nothing at all, as the body of the gypsy victim had done before it.

I looked at him, thinking about all the people he had just killed here in the makeshift gypsy village in Enara, wondering about the will of the gods and what separates good and evil. In this day and age, evil and good are powerful forces: the creator of life, and the taker of life. Similar to two other battling forces: science and magic. The emergence of science at this point was believed by some to signal the end of magic and enchantment and herald the apocalypse as well. But of course that made no sense, for magic and potions were science as well. Just why does death exist, I found myself wondering. Was it to eliminate the weaker elements so that the stronger may live comfortably or part of the battle between the gods? Shinjimai had told me this before during an argument, I remembered, but it was a wholly alien ethos. Whatever his justification for causing death, it made me feel sick to watch so many innocent people die for simply not being as physically strong as their attacker. By virtue of the way I was raised and taught to think, his actions seemed so flawed, so wrong, and made no sense to me. Yet I found myself trying to defend him as well from the emotions within my mind and body, the growing hatred of evil and murder. Surely a man who has, since I first found him beaten and dying in Medievia City, befriended me to such a level has more reason that that.

I inhaled sharply, turning my face from his silly grin, pretending to watch a gypsy barge maker pulling materials from his wagon, wondering. If it were simply that he killed in the name of his dark lady Xezadha, why then did he not kill me, a person of a much lighter persuasion? The fact that he chose to befriend me instead of attack me allowed me to theorize several possibilities. Perhaps the dark lady's followers were deceptive and he used me to protect him in battle? Or maybe life is survival of the strongest, of the fittest, and he would rather prey on my friendliness than fall to my strength. It mattered not. I would not fight him in any case.

At least my sacrifices, enemies of my goddess Trell, were generally nonhuman. Even if they were, they had a reason to be slain, a far better reason than lack of strength. But to watch my best friend stand before me and kill off man and woman, child and senior alike with no compunction whatsoever, shocked me deeply. The words of his last victim this night will probably give me nightmares, I realize. It did not really matter, though. If I had trouble sleeping I could just cast a sleep spell on myself. Sleep was not my problem. This waking nightmare known as life was my problem, and there was no escape short of destruction. Even death, as long as I serve my god, is not an escape. I turned back to him and saw him slowly picking through the belongings of his victims, left on the floor along with small pieces of withered flesh.

"Why," I asked him calmly, curiously, "did you ever choose to become a healer if your purpose in life is destruction?" I paused, unsure if I should continue the thought. Shinjimai looked up, quite stunned by my question.

He slowly regained his composure, revealing a light twinkle in his eye as he prepared to explain. "Do you despise me for such acts of what you think to be merciless destruction in serving my lady?" I backed up, caught off guard by his question.

"!" I heard myself saying forcefully. But was it the truth? Could I really call such a man my friend? If he could kill so many without a hint of ethical conflict, could I honestly trust him?

I looked up to see his cold, hard eyes staring into my own. "Kagami," he started. Already his sentence disturbed me: he rarely used my full name. "Just as you find my seemingly random tendencies toward murder and destruction horrible, I find your tendencies to help people without cause rather disturbing. In this world, with a population as large as it is, we need far less people. Far fewer people eating our food, taking our things, and attacking us for what is rightfully ours. And yet people like you try to keep the population going up. I am performing this world a service by removing such people as those, yet you believe I am a horrible person. What makes evil a bad thing, exactly? Without death, the stronger, more intelligent of us, would be overrun by the weak. If all continued to live, there would be no life."

I began to respond to him, but took a moment to reflect upon it instead, considering the validity of such a strange statement. Having been raised by kind, loving people in a world of such hate, I had always thought of life as a precious commodity. Even in his philosophy, life was respected but in a different way. Common ground forged with a single statement. Still, I found his answer very disturbing, deep down inside of me. Could the gods not simply create more land and food for the people should the population grow? Good and evil, balanced? Neither bad, neither almighty? Such a strange thought to one raised as I myself was raised.

I looked around, pretending to check for anyone sneaking up on us, and then turned back to him. "Why not nurture life? Why must the weak be eliminated? Granted, they can be nuisances, but you yourself are weaker than me, yet I do not destroy you. Why then can you not show mercy as I do? If food and land is waning, can we not pray for more? Would the gods not be merciful to their followers if their followers may show mercy unto others?"

Shinjimai didn't even appear to consider and only a brief time elapsed before he answered sharply, "Countering such questions with more of the same will get us nowhere, Kaga. Already the Cities of Medievia and Trellor are becoming overcrowded. Imagine if more people keep coming. It would become impossible to move around! Yet the gods have yet to do anything about it. What makes you think they have any time for us? Surely they are as busy with each other as we are with our own kind. And yes, why do you not attack me? I have wondered that often myself. Strength is the only power in this world. That is a lesson all must learn, a lesson which people like you seem to not understand."

I felt my resolve being pounded down and started to become furious at him. "There are other powers!! Don't be so naive. I do not attack you because of friendship. Even the smallest child understands friendship. Why can't you? People can help each other. There is no need to waste precious life so long as we can understand and help each other! If you are so intent on only the strongest surviving, why not remove yourself from this world? There are many far stronger than you - those who we've cleansed together thanks to our friendship, that you alone could never harm."

Shinjimai glared at me now and I could tell, after years of being around him, that he felt like he was losing. Generally, this was when the argument would begin to get more involved. He turned from me suddenly, and I realized that he was about to take his frustration out on another of the locals. "Shinjimai! Wait a second!!" He paid no heed to my plea and pillars of flame erupted around the barge maker as he screamed in surprised anguish. Twisted, demonic flames spewed forth from my friends mouth, encasing the man in a wall of flame from which he would have a hard time escaping. As I tried to summon the man from the flames into safety, I saw the sneer on Shinjimai's face. An evil grin, the likes of which I had never seen before, a kind which made me want to vomit. I pulled my eyes from his distorted face just in time to hear the mortal cry of the barge maker, and I fell to my knees in frustration. I knew inside that it was for Xezadha that he did this, but how could I ever forgive him? It was my job to be forgiving, even to people like him. Especially people like he who were misled by evil powers.

I saw his hand reach out in front of me, his grin gone and a look of confusion on his face. The flames had left, and with it the corpse. "What's wrong, Shinjimai? Are you okay?" I looked up at him with a newfound understanding of how he thought. He suddenly seemed to me to be like a child with no concept of right or wrong, or, in this case, that he just eliminated a life. But then I must seem the same to him, to not see anything wrong with destroying life as long as that life was against my own values. Therein I could find the strength to forgive him for his murderous ways.

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