Note: this has characters from current and future volumes of The Golden Lands. That being said, this is not actually from TGL, in spite of how the characters and forms of magic are from TGL.
ALSO: contains violent and suggestive content.
PROTAGONIST: JOHN HEDEKIRA
My vision quivering and blurring, I’m able to make out drops of my own blood striking the stone ground with a dull splat. My shoulders are burning with exhaustion, and so are my lungs. I stand there with my head bowed, chest heaving and arms drooping, knowing that I’ve already lost, but still unwilling to go down. I don’t want this Thing to win, even if I feel as if I’m slowly slipping into submission. That’s what all of this is really about, in fact: submission. Pain and loss of blood don’t matter. This Thing doesn’t want me to die; It wants me to hand over my soul. The scary thing is, I find myself allured by what It’s offering me.
That’s the way Lust always works.
He’s so enticing, so admirable…in all the wrong ways. He looks just like me, but there’s something dark and promiscuous about the way he moves. As if that weren’t disturbing enough, when he speaks, his voice is that of a seductive woman. And, as he is undeniably a minion of the evil one, his voice echoes eerily, as if he is possessed. And he is, I think.
Lust alights in front of me, cocking his head. “What’s the matter?” he says with mock concern, “Aren’t strong enough? It’s okay. You never were. And you knew it. You knew that sooner or later, you’d give in.”
I grit my teeth and tighten my grip on my sword, trying to ignore him, trying to focus on rising, on gathering myself, in preparation for another attack…or another assault. But his voice is so calming, so smooth, and so right—everything he says reverberates through me. And the sad thing is, everything he’s saying is true.
“Sure, you fought,” he goes on. “That’s what you were supposed to do. But in the back of your mind, you had the intention of giving in all along, didn’t you? Admit it, you want this.”
No! I tell myself, closing my eyes, trying with all of my being to block him out. I know he’s wrong. I know he’s wrong. I know that giving in isn’t actually what I want, no matter how much it feels like it. I don’t want lust. I want to be free; I want to be stronger. I want to love.
But…love is so hard. Sometimes it feels like it’s too hard.
The second I open my eyes, his shoulder slams into my face. I tumble across the ground, my face going numb for a moment. But here’s the thing, the thing that’s the most terrible part of this fight: whenever Lust strikes me, it feels good.
There’s nothing fulfilling or even genuinely satisfying about the feeling. It’s pleasure; it courses through me for a moment. But it’s guilty pleasure. And then it goes away. And I hate it.
I land on my back, and Lust lunges after me, shrieking and laughing playfully with his flirtatious, girly voice. “Come on, John,” he says, landing so that he’s standing over me. “Don’t you want to play?”
I hesitate. That, in and of itself, causes my confidence and will-power to plummet. Why am I hesitating? Is it…because I actually want this? Do I want to give in to this thing?
My fist clenches.
But then Lust giggles and runs his sword right into my stomach. I’m pinned against the ground. Blood rising to my mouth, and I gurgle. He won’t stop laughing.
“Come on, John,” he says. “You know you can’t do this. You know it feels good. What’s wrong? Nobody has to find out.”
Then Lust lowers his head, as if to whisper to me, and he says: “Just let it sink in.” And slowly, he increases pressure on his sword, causing it to slide deeper and deeper into my stomach. He smiles gleefully, staring into my eyes, licking his lips. His eyes are gleaming freakishly.
I feel his lust enter into me. It feels good…such passion, such smooth, dirty but delectable sensations rushing over my body. But I still haven’t accepted it yet. I’m still not dead. I’m holding on just barely.
“Just let go…” he whispers.
I start to. What am I doing?
“I’ll hold you,” he whispers.
I let go…a little more.
“I’ll love you…”
I bite my lip, and force my body to go tense, fighting against the lust coursing through me.
The faces of the people I care about flash through my mind. The guys, the girls, the gods. The One. My best friend. The people that are trusting me to make it out alive. To make it out without giving up my soul. They want me to win. They want me to fight. But…how? I can’t do this on my own. I’m too weak. I’m not powerful enough. I can’t do this.
For a moment, I ignore Lust. And with my mind, my soul, I reach out.
Lust grimaces. “What are you doing?” he sneers. “Can’t you see that you’ve already lost. You’ve already accepted too much lust into your body. Just give in. Just give in!”
I raise my head to the sky, reaching out. He has to come. He has to come. I shouldn’t have tried to do this on my own in the first place. But now…is it too late? Will he abandon me?
“It’s over, John!” Lust declares. “If you won’t focus on me, then I’ll make you!” He rips free his sword, laughing so perfectly and sweetly, my eyes flinch in the direction of his eyes, which bore through me with murderous desire. Still laughing, he slashes at me again and again, his blade ripping through my shoulders, my chest, and my arms. I raise my sword to try and block his attacks, but he’s too strong, or I’m too weak. He bats my blade aside, and laughs even louder. “‘Looks like there’s no one to help you, John!” Lust screams. Pleasure and a glorifying sensation rush through me. I falter.
There’s nothing I can do physically against Lust. So I close my eyes, grit my teeth, and lock up my soul as tight as possible.
A whitish blue blur of light zips past Lust. His face goes slack, and a moment later, Logos appears out of the air behind my opponent, his sword outstretched as if he had just finished slicing someone in two. The tip of his blade is already dripping with blood.
Then Lust screams. Blood erupts from his chest, and he staggers backwards.
Logos, using a charia technique called “riding”, flits through the air in the blink of an eye, and suddenly he’s crouched beside me. I stiffen, trying to sit up, but I can’t. I can feel my blood pooling beneath me, and my body is screaming in pain. “Don’t,” Logos tells me. Placing his hand gently on my chest, a blue light illuminates the air around me, and gradually, the pain disappears. I exhale deeply, relief coursing through me. And even as the pain departs, so does my bodily desire to give in to the lust implanted within me…the lust that I had begun giving in to.
I look up appreciatively at Logos, and grab his hand. He hoists me up, and together we both turn in the direction of Lust. “Logos,” I begin to say, knowing that I may not get another chance to say this, “I’m sorry…”
“Don’t worry about that right now,” Logos says, looking sidelong at me. He smiles gently and confidently at me, “Let’s just focus on getting rid of him first.”
I falter, but then grunt and nod my head. Once again, I redirect my attention to Lust.
Lust sputters and whines as he recovers from Logos’s attack, his voice still that of a woman. “Damn you!” he screams. Slowly, with the sound of skin stretching and bones cracking, his wounds commence to heal.
“Don’t give him a chance!” Logos exclaims. In a flash of light, Logos turns nearly invisible, “mounting his horse”, and he rides at Lust. I charge at Lust as fast as my feet can carry me, endeavoring to keep up with my friend.
Lust cries out in pain as Logos reappears in front of him and severs off one of his arms. Then I collide with Lust, slashing my sword through his chest. Lust screams again.
Then Lust rides away from us to my left, placing a distance between us and him of about twenty feet. He’s already regenerated. Reaching out his hand for me, as if he could clutch me and dig his fingernails into me at a distance, he roars, “You might be able to protect him, Logos! But I planted a seed in him, a seed that he took delight in and began to sow. The real enemy lies within himself!”
He’s right. I can still feel the lust inside of me, the lust that I welcomed and entertained.
“Then he shouldn’t have to do battle with you also!” Logos says through clenched teeth. Hastening towards Lust on just his feet, Logos’s sword begins to glow with charia. At the same time, Lust’s weapon emits a dark, mist-like form of power. Raising their blades, they commence exchanging blows, their swords singing through the air and colliding with the sound of lightning. For a moment, it looks like they’re evenly matched, but then I realize that Logos is too fast for Lust; his power is so pristine and precise, and he knows how to use it so perfectly, there’s no way that Lust can counter him. Logos ducks one of Lust’s attacks and spins, gaining momentum, and then his sword flashes upwards, slicing Lust through the face.
“John, come on!” Logos calls. “I can defend you, but only you can defeat him.”
Lust stumbles backwards, his body momentarily rendered dysfunctional, and he trips, falling onto his back.
This is my chance. I can finish this. I can defeat Lust.
But as I rush towards him, I still feel as if there’s something holding me back. There’s still a part of me that wants lust. No matter what, even if I win this battle, lust will always be easier. It will always be easier than remaining true to Logos, true to my friends, and true to the world itself. It will always be easier than love.
And Lust knows that.
“You don’t deserve to kill me!” he screams, his voice piercing the air. “You already gave in to me; you don’t deserve to be free! You already abandoned your friends! You already left your god! You don’t deserve them!”
I stop. What…?
“John,” Logos says, “don’t listen to him.”
He’s right. I stopped caring when I began to give in. I stopped loving my friends. I stopped loving Logos. I already began to choose lust over them. Will winning this fight even matter? Did I already lose?
“John…” I hear Logos suddenly say, his voice soft and hoarse, breaking through my thoughts. “…you know that it’s not true. It does still matter. I still care about you, even if you started to give in. But what’s most important is that you didn’t allow yourself to die. You didn’t allow Lust to take control.” He looks back at me, and smiles sadly but peacefully, “I’m still with you, John. Now finish this.”
“No!” Lust shouts, starting to rise from the ground. He lunges upwards and stabs. Only his blade moves not towards me, but towards Logos. Logos is still looking at me; he’s not ready for the attack. I don’t even consider the fact that Logos is the most powerful Knight in the world; surely, if he’d wanted to, he could’ve escaped. But he doesn’t move. And I act, fearful that Lust will wound him.
Lust’s blade runs me right through the heart. I stiffen, my body going rigid with alarm, and my eyes widen. A moment later, I quiver, and my head bows. Lust seems surprised that he struck me instead of Logos: I got there just in time. But then Lust’s mouth curves into a smile, and he begins chuckling. The chuckle grows into a laugh. “Hah!” he shouts in my face, “Nice job—”
“What are you laughing about?” I cut him off. My voice sounds perfectly normal.
Lust frowns, and his mouth falls open, a look of confusion falling over his face.
“Sacrificing myself for the person I love the most can’t result in subjection to lust,” I say. “Sacrifice is what love is all about.” I raise my head, looking Lust square in the eye. “Love and lust are opposites. You just lost the battle.”
I tighten my grip on my sword. And in a clean, swift, powerful motion, I slash outwards at Lust…
…and cut his head from his body.
There’s a brief pause, and then Lust’s body drops lifelessly to the ground. And then, in a cloud of black smoke, he disappears.
All that’s left is me and Logos. I turn, facing my friend. For a moment, we merely regard each other in silence. And then the words begin pouring from my mouth, “Logos, I’m sorry. I never should’ve tried to fight him without you. I’m sorry…that was stupid. I don’t ever want to come close to giving in to Lust again. I want my soul to stay with you.”
Logos looks at me intently. For a moment, I’m not sure how he will respond. But then he opens his mouth and says simply, “And so it is.” And then he disappears in a flash of light.
Well, what’d you think of that?
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