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PostSubject: Contemplations Through An Ironsight   Contemplations Through An Ironsight EmptyMon Jun 12, 2017 5:42 pm

Contemplations Through An Ironsight

The Gunman aims at himself.

Terri once asked me if I knew much about Surna. Its history, its significance. I said I didn't. I was lying.

There's not a soul in the world that doesn't know of Surna. Every child in the world has heard at least one story, be it a hero's tale, or scary story to keep children out of trouble. One way or another, though, everyone knows the town that started the age of heroes. But the age of heroes is dying. It started dying when Aeria entered the age of the gun. Some say it's already dead, me included. There's some hesitation when you're swinging a blade or notching a bow. The power of your weapon. The impending blow you're about to unleash. You can still feel it before it happens. But a gun? No. That part comes after the fact. By the time you've felt the shot go off, you've either shot someone, or you're soon bound to be shot, yourself. No hesitance, no emotion. Just action and reaction, and if you're lucky, some time in between for regret. Or reminiscence.

A Spellshot is different. Being a user of magic, we feel the blow to be before it comes. I know what the poor bastard in my sights is going to feel, and everytime I pull the trigger, I make a choice. I decide who I want to live or die. Do I have that right? I don't know. Never will. That's why I can still feel the hesitance. Why I never shot those goblins. It's why I'm a monster hunter, and not a monster. My only real solace, I guess.

So, having that hesitance, I was one of the few who still hoped the age of heroes lived on in Surna. I'd wished Taria had come here for it. Dreamed of becoming one for her. I may be a selfish bastard, but even I want to be remembered. I guess that's what really killed me in the end. The historians were right. The age of heroes is over, buried in her final resting place of Surna, Sanctimonia. Buried by the hands of her killer, a man Surna loves and idolizes, and looks to for guidance. He is the King clothed as the peasant. The General who eats with his soldiers. The working man who earns his keep.

His name is Vorn Tyrr, and he's just another monster to me.


It seems like everybody thinks he's got something to prove, these days.

Every time I walk through town, another hopeful youth comes up to me and asks me to take him along on our hunts. So willing to risk their lives, I guess they heard the pay rate is a 100 to 1, compared to a mercenary job. I wonder if anyone told them the casualty rate was the same. With that in mind, I often deny them. It's not like me to let many people come. Taric frowns upon it, and to a degree, so do I. A rookie is more a hindrance than anything. You have to look out for them, keep them safe, and all while you're trying to hunt some big ugly motherfucker. If I'm going to bring along a rookie, I either think they can handle themselves, or I think they've got something to prove. If my reasoning is the latter, I let them come for the simple reason that maybe, just maybe, going toe to toe with death will give them a little insight on themselves.

You see, everyone starts out as a coward. If you're a normal, healthy person, and you're mentally sound, then you don't look at the big ugly fucker coming down the mountainside and think 'oh boy.' No, you turn on your heel and run the fuck away. But us? No. Taric and I are a different breed. Or maybe we're just broken people.

See, there's a way to see if someone is meant to be a hunter or not. It takes about three hunts for a hopeful to get the full experience, and within those three hunts, at least one is going to end with the guy being fucked the hell up. That's when the quitters show their faces. Sure, the money is great, but who the hell would risk their lives for this crap? Let the Watch do it. The quitters take their shares and split. They never show up again.

Then, there's the other breed. When I say I take along people that have something to prove, I do it for a reason. You come to realize something in this business: It's not all about the fortune. Everyone here has something to prove, whether they wear it on their sleeve or bottle it up in their hearts. After those three hunts, when a giant bug's pierced your gut and you're rushed to a priest for an emergency... and you live... and you shrug that trauma aside. Yeah, I know your type. You've got something you want to say to the world.

I know. I was the same. No dreams. No ambitions. I'm just some fuck up that ran away from home and couldn't even find what he was looking for. The rules of the world piss me off. The big and strong control the small and weak, and the powerless can never make a difference. If you can't fit in the hole the world gives you, you just fall out of your place, and someone comes along and replaces you. That's how it was in my family, too.

So, yeah, I got something to prove. It's not much, really. It's not deep, or noble, it's definitely not anything to merit getting looked up to. All I know is that every time a monster's trying to cram me into its hole, my gun and I are gonna say otherwise. "Step off, motherfucker. I shoot my own goddamn holes."

Why do I hunt just for that? Why do any of us hunt just for something like that? If I had to guess, it's that desire to be the fuckin' hero. To be remembered for doing something great. Something incredible. It's not much, really, but it's the only comfort we have in the land of dead heroes.


I was walking around town the other day, carrying back my new rifle from a smith's place, since I finally got it working. Half way through the walk, I decided to take a break and sit down in front of this pastry shop. Women and children come and go often, although I noticed the numbers declining after I showed up next to the store. That's fine, I'd feel insulted if I couldn't scare off children at the least. To get my mind on something else, I lifted my rifle and aimed ahead, checking the sights.

Looking down the barrel, I stared across the road. In front of me was a T-junction, and off to my right was this building still under construction. Their weren't any teamsters or construction folk, so the children played in their absence. Seemed like a normal sight to me. Then, I saw one waving around some feathers, only, the feathers were attached to something. The plucked wing of a pigeon. Its bone and slivers of the meat were still visible. The kid was scaring away the others with his little prize. Then, two boys teamed up with him and ganged up on a girl, cornering her and bringing the torn wing up close to her. Finally, a guard on patrol took notice, and he stepped over and split them up, and threw away the wing.

Reminds me of when I was a kid. I've always been on the scrawny side, and that hasn't done much good for me. That's not all. I was never afraid of guns, nope. Grew up with guns. Now, swords, hammers, everything else, that fuckin' scared the shit out of me. If someone pulled a gun on me, I wouldn't totally freak. I'd at least know what to do. But if it was a knife, I would'a pissed myself, because I didn't know shit about knives back then.

A knife and a torn wing, not so different in the eyes of a frightened child. As for the bullies. The faces changed. I got older, made new bullies. Got older still, and made new ones just the same. I don't think it ever occurred to them that I knew how to shoot a gun. Why the hell do people bully others? Boredom? The need to feel superior?

In the end, answering that question would never explain the mystery of what poor bird died to give those kids something to play with, whine about and cry over, only to have it thrown away by a nameless guard. I wonder if the Undertaker would care.

Having had enough of that scene, I slung my rifle and fastened the strap, rose to my feet and got the hell out of there. It's bad enough running into monsters outside of the city.


The cruel reality of the world is that it's a hopeless place where the existence of free will ensures the reality of evil. Evil, as defined by The Imperial Dictionary, 23rd Edition, MoP 783, is "the fact of suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing; something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity." Because we're all given the freedom to have equal opportunity, we can do whatever we want to do. Opportunists will arise, and many will exploit their freedom, subjugating the will of others for their own gain, due to the simple fact that they can. Evil ensures self preservation, which means, Evil is natural. Evil is instinctual. Evil will never die. Pitiful world, ain't it?

But it's not all bad.

Somewhere up in the cosmos, the guy who crafted Aeria had this crazy idea that free will is well and good, but freedom to procreate shouldn't be possible. He put a restriction, a set of rules. The key one: You can't do it alone. The next important one: It requires commitment. You can't get a child with just one gender, and you can't do the job and go your separate ways, expecting everything to work out on its own. You need a partner, and you need to protect your partner and your offspring. So, you can't just think about yourself anymore. You have to consider everyone. Good, as defined by The Imperial Dictionary, 23rd Edition, MoP 783, is "the advancement of prosperity or well-being for all." Because someone had this crazy idea to implement restrictions into the machinations of the universe, Good was born.

Of course, the world is more complicated than that: there's a constant clash of either force, everywhere you look, and it's gotten so confusing, the labels of good and evil get slapped on just about anything these days. I'm sure the label for Mr. Tyrr would be 'Good,' at least, in the public eye, and the Spider-Queen, they'd call her 'Evil.' What's Vorn's argument for fighting the Spider-Queen and her goblin ilk? Why, freedom, of course. Freedom to live peacefully, to trade freely, to prosper without worry of the growing goblin threat.

Evil sure likes to throw around its freedom, doesn't it?

When I joined my first party of monster hunters, the leader was a man named Jack Orvel. Odd fellow. I'll spare the details, for now; his description merits another story. Orvel was nothing like me. I always tell people the shit end of being a monster hunter: You risk your life, you get the shit beat out of you, and you're more likely to die than someone fighting in the front lines of a war. Orvel gave them a different speech, and if I remember it right, it went a little something like this:

"Before you raise up your blades and grin at the thought of taking another life, consider the people beside you. It's quite possible some of them hold more valuables than the creatures you're about to hunt. Why not kill them, instead, and save yourself the effort? You'll probably end up killing people of no value to society, anyway; that's how we seem to the world, at least. So, it's fine, right? As long as you're dealing with scum, right? Wrong. Before you kill your first monster or turn on your comrades, understand this: We are monster hunters. We hunt monsters and only monsters. We hunt them because they are evil. They commit evils. They do not exist just to survive, they exist to dominate. So, when a lion or bear passes, you stay your hand. When a sole goblin or a kobold scurries for safety, you don't cut them down in their tracks. You stay your hand and let them pass. We may not be saints, and we may not be good, but we will certainly not become the creatures we hunt."

I always thought Jack was an idealistic bastard who was going to get himself killed for his beliefs. Turns out I was right, he died on that same hunt. Taric and I were the last two to ever hear that speech. I don't know why I've felt compelled to carry the memory with me. Maybe it's because I know Taric won't ever give something any deep thought. But even so, I hold it close to me. It's another one of those comforts that I use to set me apart from others. After all, no one ever said we couldn't have good guys in the age of dead heroes.


Today, the local paper was all over this incident in town at the Crook and Horns. Some Canis picked a fight he couldn't win. Him and the tavern took a beating; only the latter survived. I took it in stride, probably like everyone else. Monster hunting desensitizes you to death, sure, since plenty of rookies and hot shots die when they get in over their head. But this wasn't that kind of thing.

This is the kind of apathy that comes from a city life. People get pushed close together and they're expected to get along and work in harmony, or whatever, but in the end, urban living only brings you closer to the worst in people. Distrustful neighbors. Jealous husbands. Jealous wives, too. One way or another, people find reasons to hate one another when you crowd a place with tons of people. People learn to mind their own business, because it's easier get through living in the city when two no-names understand that they don't want to deal with each other. It's not selfless reasoning- quite the contrary. That's why people can go dying in the streets or taverns, and no matter how big a fuss the news makes, the public won't care. Maybe it'll be amusing to them: "Rabid dog man attacks mysterious woman, gets put down." Or something more clever.

That's not even the worst of it, though. Every now and then, I get mistaken for a gun for hire, and then, I really get to know the worst in people. It's the same for anyone else that lives in a place like this. What I'd give to shoot half the people that want to hire me. None of them want to get involved with people they don't like. Everybody is looking for a middleman, a pawn, someone to do the dirty work. I'd put a bullet through my own head before turning into one of those. Hell, I bet over half the population is going to be glad to hear of the death of a canis.

And people wonder why I call it the age of dead heroes.


I'm kind of funny in how I handle my work in relation to my companions. See, like I said before, when I'm dealing with rookies, I tell them the basics: They might die, they'll definitely get hurt, blah blah. But when I'm working with my team, the people I see fit to fight alongside me as equals- hell, I don't tell them shit. 'Bring this, stick to my left, don't move past that rock,' they get instructions, sure. But do I tell them just how bad the odds are? Never.

I don't tell them just how badly outnumbered we're going to be, or how we'll get swarmed or beaten to shit. I guess if I had to have one talent, it's the fact that I know how much further a guy can go before he drops. Just like that, I know how far my team can go. Underestimating them, much less, letting them underestimate themselves is something I'll never do.

You don't know how much ass you can kick until you try.



Money is power. Money is freedom. Money is life, and life is money. Apparently, money is something worth risking your existence over. If it wasn't, we wouldn't be camped around this pile of riches right now. The Crafts Guild periodically sends and receives trading caravans, and some wind up traveling through the narrow pass that we've made our abode. Unfortunately, monsters made the place their home, as well, and many of those trading caravans never made it to their destination, or even back home. The merchants and their guards became meals for the hungry gargoyles that made this place their home. Well, that's how it was until we showed up. Now, the gargoyles are dead, and we're sitting on the treasures that those caravans left behind.

The current state of affairs for our group is... improving. I'm mostly dead, and Ganelon's just half dead. Taric's a little bruised and Terri's got a scratch. We're counting up the money and valuables. Taric digs it up, Terri estimates the value, and I decide what goes where while Ganelon keeps inventory. I think, between the four of us, we can just barely carry all of this back. Then, we've got to find someone willing to buy it all, and I just know that'll be a bitch. It'd be nice if monsters went and sold the loot all on their own- then, we could just swoop in and go home with coin, no intermediate selling.

But really, money is a strange thing. It's always been an important part'a culture, but in the past, money was never an issue to go dyin' over. No, the past focused on different things. Fame, glory, and all that. The feelings of accomplishment. The possession of inner strength. Recognition for doing the right thing. Compared to the heroes of the past, everyone in this age is just empty and shallow. Petty things like money, power, and self-preservation, that's all people care about these days. I wish I were different, but I have about as little ambition as anyone else. Doesn't matter if my gun can burn a hole through an Ettin, I don't have any intention of turning the world upside down with it.

I wonder how many times I'll have to look down the barrel of a rifle before I can find a deeper meaning to it all. Maybe that's why people live their repetitive lives without any ambition. Maybe they're like me, looking down the barrel, but never finding an answer beyond the gun-smoke. Sometimes I figure I'm not looking in the right place, or aiming at the right spot. So, I aim for the sky. I stare down the stars, and they stare right back. For the weakling that I am, I've been able to scare some nasty things off, but I don't think anyone's ever won a staring contest against the stars.

When something so simple can make you feel so small, why would anyone ever care about money?


How does the heart turn cold?

When does it begin?

Why do we only notice when it's too late?

I went out to look for hunting opportunities today like I always do when my legs are working. Instead, I ran into three people, and we'll ignore one of them because she deserves a separate rant. The other two, a man and a woman, the latter of which was a tiefling. Mercenaries, they were, and a pair of opportunists. Rude, ruder than I ever could be, and lackin' in forethought. We had a scuffle, no violence, just an exchange'a words, and I left 'em a little present in the end.

Well, turns out, the man was a werewolf, and I don't know what it was, but something set him off. Might've been the grease I left him. Me and Burnie, this Sidan with a burned face, went to check it out, and we run into the Werewolf. It was a close call, for sure. I got off lucky, kept my eyes on it and maintained a space gap. Other guy wasn't so lucky, got a little close for comfort, but he did more harm to himself than the werewolf did. I think we almost killed the werewolf merc- I might've killed it for sure, truth be told, but his partner stopped me. Then, she told me the wolf was her brother.

Y'know, spitting and looking down on a guy, then expecting him to treat you nicely... is a bit of a stretch. Hell, I don't know what kept me from takin' my rifle and finishing it off. Normally, I would. He might be a human on the inside, but that human didn't look worth keeping alive, either. But, fuck if I'm gonna be the one to make a girl cry. I guess it might be Terri. Never would've considered it that much before meetin' her. I definitely wouldn't've become a monster if I killed that merc, he fits the definition of 'scum' loads better than most... but I'd probably make the chick cry, and my heart's not cold enough for that anymore.

Was my heart rekindled?

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Contemplations Through An Ironsight
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