With smoldering anger he spoke to her: Cast out. I was cast out by my people. Cast out by those with whom and for whom I feared and shed blood.
How’d that happen?
I came of age with my kin four years ago. It was to be a day of celebration. But I was sent away on that day. We had set out the week before as a hunting party of five to kill the giant Boar of the forest. You see, for every generation of my people a great Boar is born to challenge us. With tusks longer than my arm, no prey escapes this beast and no animal hunts him save us. It is our custom that the youth of each generation proven worthy to be a hunter bring back his great head. For centuries we have served this balance of Nature. If our hunters do not succeed, the forest would be overrun. But without the culling fierceness of the Boar, weakness would seep into the marrow of my people and the sands of time would bury us. It was four years ago that we speared the wild Boar and took back his head. The one to deal the death blow is to be chief among us, the master hunter. I was to be the master hunter.
Well that’s great. But why all the casting away then?
I was too short… At eight feet, I stood two feet too short of my kin.
Too short? And here you’re too tall, you’re a monster.
Feet dangling over white frothy water lapping stone a hundred feet below, a dull girl with smoky grey eyes and a giant warrior with orange fire for eyes sat over the edge of a cliff. Ahead lay nothing but water, sun, and sky. Behind laid land left behind. Heavy, grey clouds choked the setting sun as it streaked a ray on the ocean surface straight towards them. The sky was dark and dull; the sun’s rays could not penetrate the gloom.
Too short and yet the master hunter-can you imagine my anger? I walk back home with the head of the boar, recalling with shock frightening images of the battle. I was so very scared. Growing up, I was always the little one, the runt of the litter. Weakness is not tolerated by my people. Curse my fate. Yet I did not fail. I never failed, determination made up for it every time. I determined to lead, to show my people that I am not weak, that a runt can rise to rule. Looking into the beast’s eyes, four others with me trying to flank and corner him, I saw him eyeing me as his first kill. He never took his eyes off me. The runt would die first. The beast willed it and my companions believed it. But I would not let that be. I looked back into his eyes, ignored the rising fear in my gut; I looked into the eyes of the best and willed its head on my spear. I don’t know what happened after that. All I have are flashes-a lunge for my throat, a collision into my side, and a bloodlust for murder and death. I was not a hunter when I impaled the Boar. I murdered him for the injustice of Earth spitting out a runt and scorning her own child. I went back to my people with the monster’s head, expecting acceptance, desperately longing for open arms but only disappointment met me. A runt as a master hunter? They did not want that.
He ended his long speech with rising anger, the orange of his eyes brightening as he turned to gaze into the dullness of the girl’s grey.
Such a dramatic story. Mine isn’t like that at all. Apart from if I show you off to my friends, I’ve really got nothing else going for me. I mean, it’s not a sad story or anything like that. I just mean that my parents are well off so I don’t really have to pay attention in school. Some of my friends struggle because their parents don’t have too much. And there’s this one guy who studies even though he doesn’t have to. I don’t get him. His parents own the town mill so I don’t know why he does it. He says there’s some nature in our Nature that we’ve lost along the way. That’s the reason for all the grey in our lives. He’s interested in you and the Big People. That’s what we call you hunting people. Well he’s trying to find this secret to push back the gloom. But I don’t see the point. We’re here because we are and we have to be and it’s just that. So I sort of just drift about from day to day. There aren’t any plans to be made. But today I find myself here and see you.
But what do you breathe for, for what end do you walk this earth, consuming its bread and meat? If you put forth nothing to replace that which you take, you trespass and stagnate its bounty.
Why do you talk like that? So dramatic. You talk like even our dangling feet have something special to say. There’s nothing special to breathing, it doesn’t mean anything. We do it because we have to. But maybe it’s the fire in your eyes. It seems to be burning your eyeballs and filling your head with a lot of fluff.
Fire courses my entire Being child, not just my mind. The master of my tribe told me long ago that every child nurtures an element-fire, earth, wind, or water-and grows with it to learn the secret of Nature when he comes of age. Thus he masters Life as he masters his own spirit. I have not found his meaning as I have lost my way. I chose fire long ago. With this fire I burned my competitors and speared the Boar’s head. I burned too strongly in those days. I suppose the art is a tender flame to warm loved ones but in these past wandering years, my soul has been growing to a blaze. Anger rules my hand. What do I have left to live for? Cast out at the moment of exaltation and hopeful redemption, I have been thrown from my place in Life’s twisting wheel to suffer without a home and a cause. Why have I been born thus thrust into an existence set up on stage as a leper destined for ridicule and scorn and then in a further cruel turn to have salvation rightfully mine by deed, will, and conviction be taken from me for this wrong twist at birth which I can never change? So I have come to this edge to go beyond. A raging fire seeks justice for its creation by burning itself out. I burn for answers. But you, I meet you here at the cliff’s edge, looking out onto the water. You see no life within its depths because there is none within you. Your eyes are smoky grey-an ember extinguished long ago. The earth means nothing to you. I pity you and your meaningless breathing more than my own misbegotten birth. What untapped power hides within you I wonder? But know that each of these will turn to its horrifying opposite without care; tell this to the boy of the mill so that he may drive the gloom from your town. I will plunge into the waters below, join the sun’s rays on the surface, and swim towards the setting sun till I perish. Then, if there is anything beyond the void encapsulating our souls, I will find answers. But if there be nothing, perhaps the justice of this enraged flame extinguished will be your tender kindling. Goodbye to your emptiness.