A Cog in the Wheel of His Legacy
Among the people, all know of the man who ensured their existence; a man who came and went with the sun, and whose presence could bleach the stain of gross villainy out from the innocent. That man was known as the Hero.
Where history faded, and the boundary between truths faltered, stood that same man. No one, not of the times back then or of the times present, could describe the absolute righteousness that defined his person. He stood taller than any being, and he held power so humanly unbelievable, that, if it weren’t for the reality of his demise, many would have believed him to not be human at all.
Likewise, no one was inclined to doubt the nature of his existence. Who would?
The ripples of the man’s actions still lingered in the society his posterity created—for the blood he left in his wake showed his tenacity, and the structures which fell and were abandoned amidst his tenure showed, beyond the measure of men, the vast chasm between him and everyone else, bringing forth a single understanding, and a single action: reverence. No man greater, and no man more powerful than he who approached a failing society, and reformed it through such generous mercy.
But, even so, no man was perfect.
And no man could be excused for the new truth that was wrought from his meddling; no man could be forgiven, for the extent his violence re-writ the course of humanity; no man could be allowed respite from the reality that he, himself, stripped away the defining aspect which did define who the populace was. No man could be excused, but, even so, a populace with no history before that man, would still be destined to follow in his lead.
No man was perfect. But who was, when, for all that the people knew, there was no perfect man alive before him? Who would be the standard? And who would take the blame for all the people, all the ideas, all the truths, that died in his wake, just as the villainous ignominy did?
Perhaps no one.
As it were, however, these were the thoughts that plagued the mind of Mai Kobayashi as she approached a decrepit structure in the dense forest behind her home. Each footstep, crumbling and displacing the earth beneath her, continued to lead her to a truth that she desperately wanted; a truth revealing everything she needed revealed, to have the closure that had evaded her for years.
However, just like the shining hero of society’s new dawn eradicated the villains who sought to tarnish it, so too did her wishes seem to be on the verge of extinction.
The structure resembled what she thought was a shrine. It stood not even a foot taller than her, and was built precariously into the side of a solid mound of dirt and rock—which itself was being impaled and overruled by the roots of nearby evergreens. The edifice was constructed atop a stone foundation, and held up by four pillars of antiquated wooden architecture; the tops of the pillars were covered by a meticulously created gable, covered in a coat of chipping and molding red paint. Nailed into the front of the gable and facing out towards the forest was a wooden tablet, which was covered in a sequence of darkly-colored characters and lines—indicating a meaning that, no matter her attempts, Mai could not even begin to understand.
Maybe the shrine was made for the Hero who came at dawn, and her family history, like everyone else’s, was simply another cog in the wheel which turned solely for the purposes of keeping the man’s legacy alive. Maybe the tablet, covered in what appeared as writing, was only a recollection of the divine actions of the Hero, meant to serve as her family’s declaration of their absolute dedication to his ideals.
Mai decided to burn the shrine at that thought.
“It has no meaning,” she would tell herself, as she watched the embers kindle, making sure to contain its spread; “It was just collecting dust,” she’d think, “I’ll forget about it by the end of the week.” But even so, watching the edifice burn and turn to ash ignited a sense of sorrow within the girl, and when the gable fell into the walls of the shrine, she too fell to the ground—crying out for a truth that would never be realized, and cursing the Hero who ripped her family’s identity away.
As the shrine began to smolder, but not burn, Mai rose from the ground, and kept her eyes to the floor, avoiding the sight of the destroyed monument. She turned and walked back to her home through the oppressive forest, passing evergreen after evergreen after evergreen—her only guide back being the light that shined through the leaves, illuminating her path, and the extent to which her vitriol had shamed her own actions.
She regretted setting the shrine aflame.
She regretted finding the shrine in the first place.
But no matter what she thought, she could never find in herself any respect for the Hero who changed the world, who in his disregard ruined what truly defined the world and its people.
She refused to follow his lead.
She refused to ever be like him. She refused to be another piece to his never ending legacy.
But, even then, there, in the thicket, as Mai approached her house, the shrine’s remains would lay barren across the forest floor, the wind carrying away the ash and smoke which had signaled its demise.
Maybe it deserved its fate.
Maybe the Hero deserved his fate.