History Lesson

From the Story Arc: Grim's Gamble

Previous Story in the Arc: In News Tonight by Astra Kyne Murdock (Tuesday, November 21, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Head Games by Victoria Victrix (Wednesday, November 22, 2006)

(posted Wednesday, November 22, 2006)

((Mostly written by Mandragora, from the RPC Forums))

Mandy knocked at the door to Astra's room, looking to Sera for confirmation that this was, indeed, what the woman wanted. Sorrow marked Sera's face, hurt and anguish for what her daughter had gone through. The angel nodded, naked hope on her face as she faced her friend.

Both Vickie and Sera had asked for any help that could be offered. Mandy had heard several things through the grapevine, though of course the truth was worse than any of it. She wasn't a mind or soul healer, nor could she undo the past. There was really only one thing that Mandy could offer to the young woman on the other side of the door.

When several minutes passed without answer, Mandy looked at Sera again, this time for permission. Once granted, Mandy slipped into the dark room and closed the door quickly behind her. The girl.. no, the young woman, was curled up on her bed, facing the wall. Mandy sat on the floor tailor-fashion, patient, waiting on Astra to make the next move.>

"Those kids died because of us," came the soft voice, dull with sorrow. “We didn't stop him. We couldn't stop him. In fact, nobody stopped him, Aunt Vickie just bought him off and he's still going to murder people, he just won't be murdering kids for a while." Waves of depression came from her. "I wasn't smart enough or strong enough or..." There was smothered sob. "Daddy says trying and doing your best is enough...but...you ask the moms of those kids, I bet they wouldn't say that. How...how do you live with that? That kind of failure?"

Mandy took a deep breath. "Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, in the very distant past, there was a group of beings worshipped as gods. Whether they were gods or not, none can say for certain. But their worshippers believed, and in the end that may be all that matters.

"But this particular group of beings were evil. The word gets used a lot these days, and it seems to have lost its threat, its real meaning. But they were truly dark entities, who gloried in slaughter and atrocities, and encouraged their followers to pursue the same.
Their laughter echoed across the worlds with each fresh horror.

"And there were none with power who stood against them. The excuses were myriad, but ultimately it boiled down to this one thing - 'it does not affect me, therefore it is not my problem'."

Mandy sighed. "One being alone saw the potential for disaster if these beings and their followers spread across the world. But like the prophetess Cassandra, She was ignored time and time again. She fought against their evil, even though She was one and they were many. Villages were saved, only to fall months later. People fled the
beings, only to be captured, put to death and raised again as mindless servants."

Quiet filled the room as Mandy took a deep breath. There were tears streaming down her face.

"I remember that Mandragora never lost hope, never stopped fighting. No matter how many times it seemed as if She'd failed. No matter how empty Her efforts seemed. Because if She stopped fighting, then no one would.

"And eventually, another being took up the fight. Tielekku – a goddess - did what Mandragora could not, and drew other beings of power into the fight." Mandy growled softly and fought for control.

"But that only happened after centuries of failure on Mandragora's part. No one to listen, no one to stand with Her. I cannot tell you how many times She nearly gave up." A faint keen came from the woman. "I can only tell you the one time She did. It was a village,
prosperous and fertile. She came to warn them, and received only mocking laughter in return. 'Dragon, you may be mighty, but our gods are more powerful by far. Go away; you are not wanted.' And for the first and only time, She listened to those words.

"Less than a moon later, the village had been sacrificed to the unholy hunger of a being called Lughebu."

Mandy watched as Astra started.

"It could have been averted had Mandragora stayed and fought. Her grief shook the worlds, but there was no one who would listen to her.”

"I know that She considers this her only failure. Every other time, She fought, even if it did not seem to make a difference. Every time after that, She fought, until decades later Tielekku listened to the story of a Dragon."

Mandy stood and turned to the door.

"And that grief stays with us still. Moreso since the followers of the Banished Pantheon have returned to do their evil work here in Paragon City. Dark Astoria is a constant reminder that Mandragora did not 'succeed' at driving the Banished away forever."

Before Astra could say anything, Mandy said quietly, "It's never a failure if you try. No, it doesn't bring back the dead or comfort the living. And it doesn't make living with the grief and sorrow any easier. But at the end of the day, there is a little comfort in being
able to say, 'I tried to change the world, to make it a better place.'" She paused with her hand on the doorknob. "There are three children in the Isles who are alive now when they probably wouldn't have been. There are victories to be had, even if they are
small ones. It's all in how you look at it, Astra."

She stepped out of the room to give Astra her space, and turned a tear-streaked face to Sera. "I'll be sending something to Astra in a few days - a clay tablet. You may want to read it as well, Sera. It's got a bit of history behind it, and I think it'll help Astra