A Record of Lodoss War story
by D.B. Sommer
Disclaimer: Record of Lodoss War © Ryo Mizuno , Group SNE , Masato Natsumoto , Rei Hyakuyashiki, "Record of Lodoss War" Project / TV Tokyo. Software Sculptors, US Manga Corps.
All comments and criticisms appreciated. You can contact me at email@example.com
This one might be a wee bit different from what you would expect a RoLW fic to be. The idea occurred to me though, and it wouldn’t go away until I wrote it.
The skies were a perfect azure, as they always were.
Pirotessa hated perfect skies.
She could remember a time when clouds would randomly hang in the air. Some large, some small. Some fat, some thin. Some one huge mass, some strung out so far they barely connected with one another. And if she used her imagination, she could sometimes picture the clouds taking on shapes: People. Animals. Objects. Anything. Everything.
Sometimes they would be dark. Sometimes it even rained. Sometimes it just looked like it would. Sometimes it would rain in a downpour, other times it would barely manage a drizzle. Lighting was optional. Weather was deliciously unpredictable.
No longer. Never again.
The weather was controlled now. Rain only came at night, and only in the amounts that were needed. Never was there a flood; floods were bad. Never was there drought; droughts were bad. Getting rained on was bad; it made people wet unless they carried some for of protection, and they never wanted to do that. So it only rained in the darkest of night, and only after everyone had been warned how much would fall and how long it would last. Very considerate, really.
Pirotessa wished people would be less considerate.
That was the problem with the world now; there was no longer unpredictability. It was all planned, all reduced to a simple formula of needs and wants and how to meet them in precise amounts without waste. At first, it seemed a blessing to have so many worries eradicated and needs met. Now it seemed boring and staid, like being a child smothered in a hug by its mother’s love. It was fine when given in small quantities, but became suffocating if left in the embrace too long.
It felt like forever that Pirotessa had been smothered in ‘love’.
She allowed the bright rays of the sun shining through the window to bathe her dark brown skin and warm her worries away. She had more important matters to think about. It was time for the decade meeting with her friend.
Her last true friend.
Pirotessa had acquaintances, perhaps even a handful that could be numbered as friends, but she never got to close to them. It was so silly after all; they always disappeared in what seemed the blink of an eye. Humans always complained how others were like that. Pirotessa thought it an unusually accurate assessment for a race that seemed so inherently stupid most of the time. Centuries of observations had never made her waver in that particular conclusion about the human race; it only served to reinforce it.
She wondered if her friend thought the same way. She would have to ask her at this decade’s meeting.
“Here we are.”
The automated voice made Pirotessa blink her eyes twice and look around. She had been so lost in thought that she had failed to notice that she had reached her destination. How unusual.
She moved forward with three other people and departed the hover vehicle, being certain to make eye contact with the camera above the airbus. It would take a retinal scan of her and the Central Memory, (which she still knew by the long forgotten title of ‘Sylnex Master Control Computer’) in its vast canyons of circuitry, would subtract the appropriate amount of value for the ride from the amount she had tallied from her various jobs over the years since the system was first instituted. All of it was automatic. There were times when she missed the old debit card system. At least with that she had a feeling that she was actually spending her earnings.
It was happening again. Actually, she should have expected it. Every time one of these meetings came around, Pirotessa would reminisce about the past far too much for her liking. That had to be changed before she arrived at her ultimate destination. Concentrating only on the present, she ran her hand through her long blonde locks. It was a habit that always served to help her focus her thoughts. She was no longer sure why that was, but it worked. Usually, in any case.
This time was no exception. She stepped off the airbus and onto the duracrete ‘ground,’ a skyisland where a mesa of buildings floated a mile high. At least a dozen other equally large skyislands were in view from the border at the edge of the floating landmass she currently stood on, but this was the one she wanted.
Walking briskly, it took only moments for her to arrive at the open-air café along the boulevard that also lined the edge of the skyisland. It was something of an anachronism in this age, but every now and then people found the urge to hold onto symbols of the past, if only for a little while; about two blinks of an eye, in Pirotessa’s estimation.
It was at the table closest to the wall surrounding the island that her friend waited. The golden-haired woman was sitting down, relaxed, though obviously waiting for someone. A white cup bearing some liquid substance rested in her hand. Pirotessa took only another couple of steps before the woman’s eyes looked up and at last caught sight of her form. The golden-haired woman delicately put the cup down on the tabletop and waved happily at the approaching figure. The return smile automatically came to Pirotessa’s lips, and she waved back as she approached.
“I was wondering when you’d get here,” Deedlit chided once Pirotessa got to the table, though the effect was lost since she was smiling happily the entire time.
Pirotessa examined the timepiece on the biocomp located in her forearm. “I’m on time, which means you were early.”
Deedlit seemed unmoved by the declaration. “I’m always early for these little get-togethers. They do only come along once in a decade. Now sit down.” She made a gesture to the open chair opposite her.
Pirotessa did as she was bid. It was something of a ritual for her to wait standing until Deedlit offered her a seat. Once the fair-haired elf decided to test Pirotessa’s resolve by starting their conversation without offering her companion a chair. The dark elf had been forced to stand for five minutes before Deedlit conceded defeat and asked if she would like to sit down. Pirotessa considered refusing the offer for several seconds before accepting. To refuse would have hurt Deedlit’s feelings and cast a shadow over their meeting, and Pirotessa did look forward to them, even if she wouldn’t openly admit to it. Though perhaps it was time for a change. Maybe next time she would surprise Deedlit by arriving at their rendezvous first. A little change rarely hurt things.
“I took the liberty of ordering some Sasuasha Juice for you,” Deedlit explained as her companion sat down. “Best thing humans have come up with for decades.” She sloshed the green-orange liquid in her glass for effect.
“Agreed,” Pirotessa said.
A young man still in his early teens, obviously a cook from the style of his uniform, approached the table. He bowed deeply before the duo. “It’s an honor to meet you, Eternal Ones.”
Deedlit and Pirotessa both nodded less formally in his direction. “And it is such to meet you as well,” they greeted in return, their voices becoming a seamless melody of one.
He continued gushing. “I’ve never met one of your kind before, let alone two.”
“We’re very rare,” Deedlit admitted, handling the man’s admiration with a grace and style of one having done such for years.
Lacking the courage to say anything else, the man bowed and left the dining area, obviously still pleased with what had happened. Deedlit gave a girlish giggle at his departure. “I do so love the different names they give us over time. It used to be the ‘Endless,’ and ‘The Ageless Wonders.’
“I was always partial to ‘The Fair Race’ myself,” Pirotessa admitted. The two laughed a bit over that. With the interruption out of the way, the dark elf waited for the ritual to properly begin once again
Her wait was brief. “So how are things going with you?” Deedlit asked, the same question she had led off with as far back as either could remember.
“I’ve been thinking about the past lately.”
Deedlit jerked. The next line was supposed to go: “Not much, and yourself?” She cast a warded glance in Pirotessa’s direction “Have you now?”
Pirotessa watched an aircar fly by, noting they no longer left contrails. When had that happened? One year ago, or ten? “Yes, I have, and not just because of this upcoming meeting. I’ve been doing it for several years now.”
The golden-haired elf took a deep drink. “Why? For what purpose?”
Pirotessa shrugged, a helpless little gesture, especially coming from her. “I don’t know. I just have. And I mean the far off past, not recent events.”
“S’a waste of time,” Deedlit shrugged non-committedly as her companion’s drink finally arrived. “Worry about what’s ahead, not behind.”
“Ahead is always the same,” Pirotessa snorted in disgust. “I think I value the past more than the present. I felt more alive then, even if I was continuously closer to death than I am now.”
“Sounds like you need to get laid,” Deedlit said as she finished her glass and ordered another.
“That’s not it.” There was a helpless tone in the dark elf’s voice. “Don’t you ever think about the past?”
Deedlit shrugged. “Sure, sometimes. I’ve had a lot of exciting adventures and interesting things happen in my life.”
“How about the time you were nearly sacrificed to that God?”
A look of confusion crossed Deedlit’s features. “Bahlasamon?”
“No, he was a demon. I meant a different one, farther back.”
Deedlit’s features scrunched up in frustrated thought.
“When you helped save the world,” Pirotessa prodded.
“Hell, I’ve done that lots. At least five times in the last thousand or so years, and there’s been a lot of other action in-between. You’re going to have to be more specific than that.”
Pirotessa gave out an exasperated sigh. “When we lived on Lodoss,”
“Oh.” Deedlit’s eyes took on a knowing light. “Why didn’t you say so? I remember Lodoss. Sort of. It was an island and there was something odd about it. Cursed or something. Hmm. Nearly sacrificed to a god? Shartnast?”
“No. I don’t remember that one,” Pirotessa reluctantly admitted.
“How long ago was it?”
Pirotessa wracked her mind for several moments before coming up with an answer. “Roughly four thousand years ago, I think”
It was Deedlit’s turn to give off an exasperated sigh. “Well, that explains it. I can barely remember anything past two thousand years. Almost none of our kind does. It’s worse for me, given how much I’ve done in the last couple of thousand years. I’ve got plenty of newer memories to think about.”
Pirotessa stared at the amber-colored liquid in her drink. A moment ago it had been gun metal gray. That was one of the charming things about Sasuasha Juice. It changed colors, and subsequently flavors, every few minutes with no two colors necessarily producing the same flavor. It also changed alcoholic content as well. Some people would play games to see how drunk they could get on the fewest number of drinks. She liked the unpredictability of it.
The dark elf took over half of it in one gulp. Her eyes crossed for a moment; definitely a higher alcohol content. “You don’t remember that man who saved you, then?”
Deedlit snorted. “I don’t even remember who I was being sacrificed to. I sure don’t remember who rescued me. Are you sure you’re not making this up?”
“I’m making nothing up,” Pirotessa assured her. She gave Deedlit a sad look. “I remember you loved him a great deal.”
Deedlit shrugged. “Evidently not enough to remember him.”
That angered Pirotessa for reasons she could not fathom. Had she been interested in the man too? She couldn’t remember. No. She was relatively confident she had not, though she failed to remember the man’s name. There was only one name, one mortal whose name she could recall from that time.
“I remember Ashram,” she said softly before finishing her drink.
“So that was his name?” Deedlit asked.
That angered Pirotessa even more. “No! That was the name of my lover. Yours killed him, I think. I’m pretty sure I nearly died too, though I can’t remember for certain.”
Deedlit remained impassive as she waited for a change in color before taking a sip from her recently delivered glass.
Angrily, her voice full of emotion, Pirotessa said, “I don’t remember anything. Not what he looked like. Not the sound of his voice. Not the color of his hair. All that I remember of him was that name and that he was one of the great loves of my life.”
At last, Deedlit thought she divined what was wrong with her friend, and it wasn’t about who killed this Ashram fellow. She vaguely remembered having a similar crisis a couple thousand years ago. At least she thought she had. In any case, she knew how to at least try to deal with it, and how to help her friend.
“Pirotessa.” The golden-haired elf rarely used her friend’s name, even when they got together, like now. She probably hadn’t said it openly to her face in nearly a millennium. “You’re being ridiculous. No one can remember the past that well, not even our kind. Two thousand, three thousand years maybe for those with good memories, but they always fade into nothingness. Always. We live too much life and accumulate too many new experiences that overwrite the old, even if a lot of the events are just the variations of past ones with new faces attached to them.”
Deedlit leaned forward, becoming more boisterous, almost surly. “And if you think we got it bad, just look at humans. Some of them can barely remember things that happened forty years ago. They forget people and places all the time way worse than us. If you don’t believe me, try asking one about their past and see what they can come up with. I don’t think I can remember anything past two and half thousand years or so myself. I’m stunned that you even remember that Ashram guy’s name, considering how long ago you say it was.”
Pirotessa shot to her feet. The chair was hurled behind her as she slammed her fists on the table, shaking it with the force of the blow. “It’s not fair! His name is all that I can remember. I know I loved him with all of my heart, as much as I can love anyone, and it’s not enough. Even his name is threatening to drift away with each passing year. It was only in the throes of a dream I had last month that I realized I hadn’t thought of him for nearly eighty years. Eight decades!
“I want to remember. Not from recordings, not from mental imagery converted to holographic disc so that I have to stand on the outside and try looking in my mind to recall his name. I want what he was to be mine. I want to be able to remember him on my own, from within; so that I know what we had was real. I don’t want him to be gone as though he had never existed, as though we never did the things we did. I want what we created to last, if not in the real world, then at least within me. I want forever. If I have to live it, I should be allowed to remember it.”
In response to Pirotessa’s heartfelt emotion, Deedlit snickered.
“You sound like a human with those sorts of fancies about romance. That’s one thing they’ve been consistent about over the millennia: a perpetual fascination with love.” Deedlit mused. “But I got news for you, that ‘my love will burn for you forever’ stuff might sound sweet to them, but it sure doesn’t apply to our kind. For us ‘forever’ is a reality, not a concept. If any of them could live for a thousand years, they’d begin to get a grasp of that as well.”
Deedlit took a small drink. “Forgetting, not loving, is what’s really inevitable, even for us. The great beast of Infinity swallows everything that made us what we have become right at this moment. In time, it will devour this experience too. It’s normal, though. Natural. It’s why we forget instead of remembering everything. We were made to live in the present, for the future. Hang on to the past too much or too long, and you’ll be devoured right along with it.
Pirotessa’s shoulders slumped in defeat. She recovered her chair and sat back down, the weight of centuries seeming to drag her down. Her voice was hollow. “What’s the point in living forever if we can’t be allowed to remember it as well?”
Deedlit’s eyes opened wide, and then they closed as she laughed hard. It was impossible for Pirotessa to tell if it was sarcastic, bitter, or one of general amusement; it was just one of those kind of laughs.
Pirotessa’s reaction was almost instantaneous. “How dare you mock me, you unsympathetic bitch! I should kill you for this offense!” Decades of buried power began to awaken within the dark elf as her hands began glowing.
Deedlit, unmindful of the danger, nearly fell out of her chair as she laughed even harder. That curious reaction to the threat mystified Pirotessa even more and made her release her hold on the power.
It took Deedlit a full minute to compose herself. “In the name of the Light, you really do sound like a human. This has got to be the most interesting meeting we’ve ever had. At least it’s the best that I can remember.”
The dark elf looked at her in open bewilderment. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Deedlit finally began to control her outburst. The last of her laughter died as she spoke. “Haven’t you figured it out? Even with only two thousand years or so of knowledge, you should have. Every other elf I know has. I just assumed you had, too.”
“Know what?” Pirotessa asked.
Deedlit went from amused to serious in the blink of an eye. “The answer to your question, of course.”
Pirotessa drew back in surprise. “You mean to tell me you know what the point to our existence is?”
Deedlit’s voice was full of confidence, more than Pirotessa could ever recall her having. Sensing on some primal level that Deedlit was speaking the truth, the dark elf’s heart raced in excitement. “If you know, tell me. I need to know.”
Deedlit rose out of the chair and walked next to Pirotessa, placing her mouth so close to the dark elf’s ear that even the faintest whisper could be heard. Her words were more breathed than spoken. “Remember, you asked for this, so now you’re going to get it. The answer is:
“There is no point to life.
“Never will be.”
Deedlit stood back to observe her friend and watch her deal with the startling revelation. Pirotessa’s reaction was to sit in shock, unmoving and barely breathing. After a full minute of closely resembling a statue, she began to tremble. An aura of hopelessness began to surround her and fill the air. Deedlit was tempted to embrace her friend, but resisted the urge. It would be best for Pirotessa to put the shattered pieces of her world back together on her own.
The dark elf finally looked at Deedlit and began to speak. “There has to be—“
She was silenced by a sad shake of Deedlit’s head.
The last of her energy leaving her, Pirotessa slumped in her chair. She looked at the half filled glass of Sasuasha Juice. When she had first drunk it, she had enjoyed the mysteries it held; now it was just a gray liquid. The words just seemed so… true, once they were spoken aloud. It made terrible, terrible sense. In a way, it explained everything that Pirotessa had questioned over the last several hundred years. She did not want to believe them with all of her heart, but that wouldn’t change anything if Deedlit were correct.
Deedlit returned to her seat across from her friend. “Hard to accept at first, I know. I was the same way.” At least she thought she had been. That particular lesson of life had stuck with her for sometime now, perhaps two thousand years.
With that statement, a bit of life seemed to return to Pirotessa, almost as though she were lashing onto the idea there was hope. “So how do you do it? I mean deal with that sort of knowledge?”
Deedlit examined her oldest friend and shrugged. “Personally? I live life in the fast lane. I’ve helped others fight the good fight and try to hold myself to noble causes and be true to what I believe in. The Gods know, whatever ideals I have are going to outlast most civilizations. I’ve spent most of my time neck deep in humanity. I’ve had more friends in that time than I can remember, and sometimes their actions even surprise me. I’ve had more lovers than I can possibly remember, too. Some I used for sex, others I thought I loved, and some I truly did. That sort of bonding helps a lot too, even when you know they’re going to die. Basically, what I’m trying to say is just because there is no overall point to life, doesn’t mean you should stop living it.”
“But how can you do it?”
“Like they do.” Deedlit pointed to a couple walking by. They seemed to take notice and smiled, bowing to the elves before continuing. Deedlit waved at them before returning to the discussion. “Those two know damn well that after they’ve turned to dust, we’ll still be sitting here, drinking Sasuasha Juice or whatever new beverage their descendants will have come up with. Does it stop them from living, just because they won’t be around as long as others? Of course not. They live life as full as they can, which admittedly isn’t very long for some of them, since it varies from human to human.”
“And you think we’re no different from them? That we should imitate them?” Pirotessa asked.
“Not exactly,” Deedlit admitted. It took a moment to find the right words. “Duplicate their attitudes, is what I mean. Their spirits are like ours, even if their way of thinking isn’t. It’s why we’ve been able to co-exist for so long. We’re enough alike we don’t feel threatened by one another.”
Pirotessa shook her head. “It’s all so much to absorb. And I still don’t know if I can accept it.”
Deedlit shrugged. “You will; it’ll just take time. The Gods know you’ll have plenty of that.”
Pirotessa did not, could not, respond to the statement.
Deedlit frowned at her drink. This meeting hadn’t gone along the way she had hoped it would, not in the least. But it had been lively. She might even remember most of it for over two thousand years. Still, she didn’t want to be depressed, or worse, hang out with someone as depressed as this. Besides, it was her responsibility to look out for another ‘Eternal One’s’ welfare and maintain their healthy mental attitude.
“I know what we can do!” Deedlit declared as she rose from her chair, then grabbed Pirotessa by the arm and hauled her up to a vertical base.
“What are you doing?!” The dark elf snapped, wanting to remain mired in her depression.
“I’m going to make you take my advice.” Deedlit began dragging an only partially resisting Pirotessa along.
Deedlit stopped tugging and grinned. This time Pirotessa recognized the grin. A bit of old fire came back to her voice as she warned, “Oh, no. Whatever it is you‘ve got planned, I want no part of it.”
“Of course you do. It’ll shake you out of your doldrums,” Deedlit insisted.
Sensing she would lose the argument, like she always did when it came to Deedlit, Pirotessa shook her hand free of her companion and straightened out her outfit. The dark elf could at least walk out of the café with some dignity. “What do you have in mind?”
Deedlit continued grinning. “Not much. Just going to some bar where we’ll dance a lot, get really drunk, and pick up a couple of guys and get laid.”
“Oh, no.” Pirotessa turned immediately around. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’m not in the mood.”
“Which is why you need to do it.” Deedlit grabbed Pirotessa’s arm again. She was pleased to note her friend wasn’t struggling very hard. The dark elf was stronger and could overpower her if she wanted to.
Pirotessa quickly gave up under her friend’s persistence. It made her wonder if she really did not want to do this, as she maintained. However, she still needed to put up a token resistance. “Do you really think a night of debauchery is the solution to all these soul-shattering revelations that have forced me to question my whole way of thinking?”
“I know it’s not going to hurt, unless the guy you pick up is into that sort of thing.” Deedlit gave Pirotessa a wink, which caused her companion to roll her eyes in response, like she always did. Deedlit was always getting her into trouble during these get-togethers. The dark elf should have known this was coming. Still, there was something reassuring to her, something that would not have occurred to her had they not had this discussion today.
No matter how much trouble Deedlit got her into, eventually, perhaps in centuries or perhaps over several millennia, Pirotessa would forget everything that was going to happen.
It seemed there were some advantages to forgetting after all.
Author’s notes: Hmm. Haven’t done a ‘mere’ concept piece in a while. Pretty sure the whole concept of dealing with ‘eternal love’ for immortals such as the elves set in Record of the Lodoss War has been done before, just not by me. ^_^ Was sort of hoping the more ‘modernesque’ setting in the opening would help to grab attention, even if the entire concept has been written many times before in many different ways by those better than I.
As much as I tend to be the closet romantic, I also swing towards less idealistic versions of love as well, this being a perfect example. Employing the age old adage of ‘eternal love’ and some of the difficulties (or in this case, impossibility of it) for individuals that might actually have the ability to live forever certainly applied to that line of thinking. I thought the idea of Deedlit being the one to completely forget about things first and being so nonchalant about it would be a bit of a twist. After all, her and Parn’s relationship was the center of RoLW and was pretty much the classic sword and sorcery, knight and maiden tale, and would be the more likely part to be remembered rather than Pirotessa’s own subplot with Ashram.
Well, enough ranting. And whether you agree or disagree with the ideas presented, hope you enjoyed.
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