"Why are you called The Darkbringer?"
The second topic which had a large impact on Elissa’s way of thinking was one that she asked only out of passing curiosity as she was learning to discipline her questions; “Why are you called the Darkbringer?”
“Because the races of creation are fools,” was Dark’s cold response. His voice never betrayed emotion, always sounding like ice water gurgling across a bed of gravel, but his nose wrinkled and the corners of his mouth twitched in an obvious scowl. One of the first signs of visible emotion from him, that she’d thought she’d seen, Elissa just couldn’t let it go.
The next morning, Elissa’s first question was, “Why do you say the races of creation are fools to call you the Darkbringer and not the Darkness?”
“Because they are,” was the only response Dark gave in return, though the brief scowl and curling of his nose did occur a second time.
“How are the races foolish by calling you Darkbringer?” She persisted the next morning, determined at this point to weasel the root of the answer from Dark, no matter how many times it too.
“It is only a foolish title that the idiots bestow, when their desires are fulfilled,” was the cryptic response that Elissa got that morning.
Over the next few weeks, she tried to worm her way around the problem with various different wordings of questions, by changing ‘how’ to ‘why’ to ‘when’ to ‘what’, by simply dropping one method of questioning and trying something completely different.
Eventually, she came to the conclusion that pulling needles from a porcupine would be easier! Dark apparently didn’t want to talk about it, but he never actually refused to answer the questions. He just gave the most unhelpful answers he could, and she had to try and work her way to the heart of the matter.
After about a whole month of worming at the problem, Elissa thought she’d finally came to an understanding about it. Apparently at one time, long ago, in the recesses of history, Dark actually walked among the races and spoke to each as their “Creator”. He was worshiped, revered, and treated with loving respect and honor. The races he visited asked for simple boons to help make their lives a little more bearable, enjoyable, or easier.
Since it required barely any effort upon his part, Dark gave the races what they wanted as he slowly toured his creation. When he returned, eons later, to visit the same races again, they all feared and reviled him, calling him ‘The Darkbringer’. All he’d done was give them what they wanted, but by doing so, he’d became the most hated creature in existence.
A tribe of humans living in the dessert might have asked for a resistance to the heat, an ability to hunt effectively at night, and the ability to feed on all sorts of creatures with no harm befalling them. At first, they thrived with their alterations in their environment. Over time, their natural growth rate as masters of their domain led them to overpopulation. They had to expand or perish, and since the peoples of the neighboring lands no longer resembled them, or had been a part of their culture for so long, they were fair game in the battle for survival.
Gifts given freely, to those that asked, drove the balance of things out of whack. Those that had been weak, and prey for the strong, were now suddenly preying upon the others. By giving to one, another always suffered. Sometimes, even amongst the same race, it led to sudden upheavals and turmoil. The slaves might overpower their lords, or the lords of one land would enslave another. Everywhere, the balance of power was destroyed and all those that had fallen spit upon him and called him The Darkbringer.
So, to right his wrong, Dark traveled creation once again and removed the gifts he had given.
Thinking he had corrected the problem, after eons of wandering, he returned to the first that he had restored and was met with even heavier disdain and hatred. Those that had grown to enjoy the taste of their borrowed power had suddenly had it stripped away from them, leaving them bitter and longing. Those that were now able to rightfully retake their place as rulers over the weaker, remembered that it was The Darkbringer who had cast them down to begin with.
The weak despised him for their flaws and weaknesses. The powerful feared him and despised him, knowing that they couldn’t stop him from overthrowing them again, if the whim crossed his mind. He was no longer their savior; their creator. He was now The Darkbringer, a bane upon existence.
And so, Dark found a quiet corner and simply sat and did nothing. Fulfilling the races’ desires had gained him nothing but anguish. Returning things to how they were before had didn’t nothing more than exasperate the issue. And doing nothing? Doing nothing led to even more hatred and animosity from the races towards him, as they called him ‘cold’, ‘distant’, and ‘uncaring’.
All of which led Elissa down a different road of worries. Give the people what they want, and they hate you. Don’t give it, and they hate you. Do nothing, and they hate you.
“So how do the Gods manage to resist being hated?” Elissa finally asked, thinking about how they were probably the closest beings in creation which could relate to Dark’s existence.
“They think only of themselves,” Dark answered, chuckling coldly.
“But they help the people. The protect them, help feed them, help them grow. How can the gods be selfish?” Elissa asked the next day, struggling to reconcile what she was hearing with her own beliefs.
“They only help those they wish,” Dark reminded her gently. “Follow them. Praise them. Offer them your devotion and do what they tell you, and they will reward you with a treat. Much like a well-trained puppy,” Dark replied, barking his strange laughter for several moments. “Kakakakakakakak!”
Mockingly, Dark asked, “Did you truly think they cared at all about you? Your prayers, your devotions, are like food to them. They simply give you what they must, for their own benefit. Does a God of War aid your people because you are righteous, or because he adores your worship? What happens to those who don’t bow enough, sacrifice enough, appease him enough? Doesn’t he simply turn his back upon them, leaving them to whatever harsh fate the world might have in store for them, until they atone and regain his favor?”
“Even some so called God of Justice only favors the one who offers them the most. If the king of a land sacrifices and teaches his people to follow such a god, that god enforces the morals as set by the king. It may be wrong to rape today, but if a plague hits and the children die, it could become a crime for the women to refuse a man until they had born enough children to repopulate.” Tilting his head back, Dark burst out laughing again, seeing the unhappy expression snaking across Elissa’s face. “Kakakakakakakak!”
“The gods couldn’t care less about justice. About whether helping one group harmed another. They have absolutely no concern for the balance of the world, nor their impact upon it. They only care about themselves and those that will feed their vanity and increase their power,” Dark concluded, darkly.
As a knight of the people, Elissa felt a deep and burning betrayal in her heart at his words. She had been taught to respect and honor the king, the gods, the people in authority who maintained the order. Now, she wasn’t so certain anymore. What was justice anyway? Why did one man hold any authority over another at all? Laws came and laws went. In the long view of a being like Dark, she could see how they’d flip and flop to cater to the whims of the moment. Wasn’t justice and honor supposed to be something more?
Wasn’t she supposed to be something more, as a knight, representing those values?
Somehow, she just didn’t know anymore. She had been shaken to the very core of her beliefs.