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Seeking A New Life

In the farming village of Chiyou on the outskirts of Marasura, Emery Parcifal stared at the dark walls of what farmers use to recognize as the sealed cities of their country. The Marasura government had promised them – legally bound the promise with contracts that the young folk in the southern villages signed – to provide work and relief aid to the outer villages that were hurt in the war against Luminomia. They had formed military barracks and began serving them better trading negotiations with much needed clothes, food, medicine, and medical facilities for working under strict government guidelines. They had training practices every week, helped organize the barracks to accommodate the troops, and had become part of an impressive army of new recruits.

For four years, Emery and his younger brother had worked hard during the army training exercises and Emery himself had excelled to a high-ranking position with the expectation of working in the capitol once mission objectives of finding and neutralizing the terrorists were met. He had gained mastery of one of the harder forms of Marasura’s military fighting style during that time. Chiyou village was finally being given enough to jumpstart the weakened economy and having superior purchasing power for a wider array of food and medical supplies for their families. To Emery, the prospects of moving into the inner cities and gaining a better life for himself had bestowed upon him a fiery yearning to pursue more advancements and he had gained glowing recommendations from his commanding officers to be moved into the inside cities. They had worked hard in rooting out the terrorist cells throughout different villages. It was dangerous but satisfying work for Emery, he had felt like he was accomplishing an important task and that he was on his way to becoming a hero for his country. In his elation, he had told his siblings of what he wanted to achieve in life and privately promised to do his best to improve his life. Yet all those prospects fell away after the attack on the southern eastern region of Marasura in the village of Magatsuhi. It was two villages away from Chiyou and the results were an utter massacre. Emery and his troops were sent off to fight; they defended the country on the ground as best as they could from the oncoming invasion of Lumin soldiers. However, the ground war proved to be fruitless, Luminomia’s masterful aerial power proved to be too much for them. In nearly one fell swoop, it was over. Magatsuhi was devastated within one short battle once the aerial bombardment began. Three months of fighting against Lumin soldiers at the southernmost border had proven to be a distraction. After training them to fight and die for the country; the Imperator and the Regency ordered a shutting down of the borders because of the damage and left the villages outside the city-states to their devastated fate. Refugees of Magatsuhi poured into the surrounding villages in massive numbers and conditions declined to far worse levels than Emery had ever recalled. Gradually, riots and then total anarchy had ensued as people fought for food, shelter, and medical supplies. There were no longer any foodstuffs, trading supplies, or even an army to help keep the peace in the region. Militia groups that tried eventually became gangs that demanded bribes to keep their own families fed. Occasionally, the weaker civilians were murdered or raped by the more brutish gang members. Within a few short tumultuous days, Emery’s prospects had shattered and he had fought to keep his family alive during the dissolution. Crime rings abounded and the terrorist group of religious fanatics known as Archonvilet, the very same group that they were ordered to hunt down, had taken advantage by coming to the devastated people and recruiting former soldiers into their terrorist ranks with the promises of food, medical supplies, blankets, and warm beds. In a twist of horrific irony, the very people that the government had trained the youth of the village to fight had become the only means of keeping their own families safe. All that was required was working under the service of the so-called Dark Lord Mithustra. The man was a religious fanatic known for orchestrating terrorist attacks on Marasura’s trading areas, the Western Isles, and Luminomia.

The government is utterly useless! They did nothing when the terrorist group came into our villages, they don’t help us when we’re suffering, and we’re all just going to starve at this rate, thought Emery angrily when he thought back on the government, and all we’ve ever gained were empty promises for our suffering! What are they doing that is more important than helping their own people?! I bet they would aid us if we could transform into those privileged monsters like in the inner cities. They always gain more than the rest of us!

In Marasura’s military culture, soldiers that decided to become therianthropes – dangerous creatures such as vampires, werewolves, and werecats; monsters were regarded more favorably than those that chose not to pursue such a path. A monster was better able to deal with increasingly harsh combat situations and led to a greater degree of success in military operations. Yet, all that power had a steep cost that made therianthropes politically controversial throughout the country’s history . . .

Emery was certain that if he had become a monster then he would have gained privileged status to move into the country’s capitol. Emery had hoped to gain entry by proving his own ability and not by altering his body into a permanent and harmful change. It was common knowledge that the people who underwent those monstrous changes were forced into sealing rituals in case they became a danger to civilians. He wasn’t entirely certain to what extent those seals harmed people who were forced to bear them. They were of an obscure elvencraft that were known only to historians, researchers, and military theorists who studied them thoroughly in Marasura’s prestigious universities or the military. Emery had learned of elf seals during his four years of military service and began studying them as a hobby whenever the boredom became too much. Yet, he acknowledged that his experience with elven seals was intermediary at best. He was no expert and most of what he had scraped was from ancient elven texts that he had purchased at a local pawn shop as a young teenager or from beginner guides that he requested during military training.

Emery took out a flyer that he had kept secret from his family and the other villagers to avoid reprimand. Emery was sure that some of the other villagers would kill him for simply having the particular flyer under the misguided suspicion that he was a spy that sabotaged the military operation.

I can’t blame them for feeling desperate, thought Emery. The government hasn’t done anything to ameliorate our suffering. So many keep dying from famine or exposure to diseases that could be treatable if they just sent help. How many people die every day in our meager hospitals? Our electricity and water have been cut off, making these situations worse than ever before.

The situation went beyond even the lowest expectations. The government refused to help and Luminomia had enough military capabilities to destroy their country. There was nothing that Marasura could do to counteract Luminomia’s aerial bombardments and it was unlikely that Marasura would find an innovative solution in Emery’s lifetime. The entire country was more likely to implode than find a solution against Luminomia’s airpower. The current trend didn’t bode favorably for the denizens of Marasura; the country seemed on the verge of dissolving completely. People in the outskirts were dying, joining terrorist groups, or starting a mass exodus to the war-torn West. Many of the young and desperate had already left to find mercenary jobs in the West, those that wanted revenge or looked to the Dark God for help had joined the terrorist group, and a scant few had left for Luminomia. Emery bitterly recalled being unable to stop his younger brother from joining the crazed terrorist group. A surge of anger and shame overtook him and unwanted thoughts miserably repeated the events of that fateful day. He certainly didn’t wish for that kind of life and felt frustrated by the fact that he failed to stop his brother from leaving. His parents had went so far as blaming him for encouraging his younger brother to go with him to join the military since they never wanted that kind of life for him or his brother. Emery had put so much faith in the government’s promises that he expected his family would have a better shot of moving into the city areas. Everything had gone awry and Emery was left coping with the guilt and shame whenever he saw his parents. In the end, all that was left was incessant feelings of shame, guilt, betrayal, and sense of powerlessness.

I hate being here . . . thought Emery guiltily, And I hate feeling stuck! I want to move on with my life. I shouldn’t be dealing with any of this anyway! I deserve a better life!

Emery scowled as he tried to stop the tirade of thoughts. I hate when I keep going back to these thoughts . . . but I don’t know what to do! Leaving them would be so self-centered of me.

Emery sighed as he thought of the emotionally exhaustive pattern that had become his sordid life. His yearning for more would always keep him hooked on keeping the flyer, as if a better life would come eventually so long as he held onto a wrinkled piece of paper. Whenever he didn’t act on his impulse to just leave his current life behind, he felt angry with himself for not acting upon it. Paradoxically, whenever he honestly considered it, a swell of emotional guilt began to worm itself inside him and he felt shame over the idea of just dropping his own family out of his life for his own sake. These thoughts are far too self-centered. But what else can I do? At this rate, we’ll all starve to death since our rations won’t last for the next month. I can’t bring them with me because they would never survive the trip and I’m not sure what the regulations would be to be admitted into the country. I don’t even have the money to pay for the admittance fee.

A wave of depression began to overtake him. After the socioeconomic collapse and the fighting within his household, Emery had tried to stymie the persistent hopelessness by taking a walk for a breath of fresh air every day to keep himself together. He had eventually realized that he had unknowingly made it a habit after his daily chores. This predicament was the worst that he faced in his young 18 years of life and trying to hold out for a glimmer of hope was becoming too painful. How do I find a future for myself? I can’t just abandon them . . . but that leaves me with nothing . . .

Emery carefully tucked the paper away into his inner pocket and jumped down from the thick tree branch to the ground. He landed gracefully on the ground. He began his slow trek back home. His thoughts and feelings regarding what-if scenarios routinely came unbidden and he tried to keep his silent frustration in check.

I just want to move on with my life . . .

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