|Champion of the God:||Arivelle|
|Motto:||I'm not dead yet!|
|Guild:||Blue Feather Guild|
I wasn't a worshipper. I rode from one town to the next, traded my wares, and laughed at the heroes building their temples. It was a simple life, a forgettable one.
That night was dark, darker if not by the sky, by my temperament. I had seen too many villagers harassed by monsters, their meagre possessions of premarital hex's, note's to self, and empty cookie jars, taken. It was that night she found me.
"Paranthelion, do you know who I am?" she asked, her light taking the form of a sphinx as she spoke.
I swallowed hard and lowered my eyes from her gaze. "No, my Lady", I answered, "I can see you are most divine, you are of purest light, but there are many gods of this world and I am ignorant of their names."
"You are both wise and eloquent, dear one, I have chosen well. I am Arivelle, the Lion's Will."
Her voice resonated through my room and into my heart, but it was her words that made me tremble. "Chosen? Am I to be your hero, my Lady?" I was terrified. I had seen the lives of heroes, the deaths of heroes. I would be a shameful champion, surely she knew that. "My mind may be sharp, but it will not cut your foes. My silver-tongue will not make gold bricks for your temple..."
The Sphinx’s smile interrupted my sputtering and forgivingly she said "Paranthelion, your heart is noble, but it is not valiant. You need not fear, I have not chosen you to be my hero."
I was immediately relieved, but found my relief quickly became disappointment. To be her hero would have been a challenging life, a memorable life and in my unworthiness I had lost what I never knew I needed.
Without acknowledging my sense of failure she continued. "In the town of Godville I have created a hero. She will be my vessel to bring my blessings to your world and, in time, to build my temple in my name. Newly born, she is naive and foolish, but her heart has already led her to first quest."
I thought of the life this heroine would lead, I envied her purpose, but lamented the untold suffering and labours she would bear. "My Lady, why have you told me this? Surely you have better ways to announce your creation than house calls to every worthless trader in Tradeburg?"
The room twinkled with a cascade of light and dancing shadows and I realized I had witnessed the laughter of a god. "My dear one, I have a much better way than by house call. I have decided you will be my prophet, writer of the chronicles of my heroine. You are to travel to Godville at once to find her and from there you will shadow her on her quests. She should not know of you, your presence would only distract her from my work."
I was moved by the task my divine Lady had given me and my eyes held back the tears of gratitude and love for my benefactor. Eager to begin I began to pack my few possessions to trade for quills, paper and ink on the road. "How will I find your hero? Does she have a name?"
The Sphinx’s face enigmatic, but she answered anyway, "Her name is Evangelione and in your chronicles you may say it means 'the bearer of the Lion's gospel'."
And in that moment a book appeared before me and emblazoned on its brown leather cover were the words "The Chronicles of Evangelione". Rudely, without thinking I asked, "my Lady, why the 'e' on the end?"
Without malice she patiently answered, "because 'Evangelion' was already taken" and then the Sphinx vanished leaving only her riddle-some answer and a quest to keep me company on my travel to Godville.
The Road to Godville
Inspired by my encounter with the Goddess Arivelle, I set out to find Evangelione immediately, leaving only a note and some coins to compensate the innkeeper. Only a few milestones out of town I was already in trouble. The roads between Tradeburg and Godville are well marked, but treacherous and I was a fool, a distracted, aggrandizing fool to try to traverse them on foot, at night. Before I had even reached the outskirts of town, I found myself eye to navel with the largest Grammatical Terror I had ever seen.
They say that if you are unarmed and run into a monster on the road that you should try to look inedible, act confident and buy your exit with gold or tokens. They say that screaming only encourages monsters to fight you and warns any heroes that might have helped to stay away. They say that pointing and yelling "Look! A gold brick!" and quickly running away has saved many a life. They say, they say...
It growled, rather, its stomach growled.
I screamed again.
I’m not sure if it was luck or divine favour, but a hero stumbled over a root at the top of the nearby hill and tumbled head over heels until he lay in front of me.
The hero and the Grammatical Terror exchanged awkward glances and the battle began! I had never seen a hero fight a monster before and realized how little I understood of combat, why, if I didn’t know better I swear at one point they played rock, paper, scissors! Blow after blow the hero grew weaker, but not as weak as the Grammatical Terror. With a killing blow, the hero ended the fight. Taking the spoils from the battle the hero collected a small coin purse and a coffin nail, a poor compensation for the life he saved and the one he nearly lost.
"You wouldn’t happen to know how a raven is like a writing desk would you?" he asked.
"I...I" I stammered.
"Maybe it’s because there’s a ‘b’ in both and an ‘n’ in neither!"
"Well that’s it then! Quest complete! Time to head back to Godville."
"Godville? Would...would you mind if I travelled with you?"
"Sure, why not! All’s well that ends with two in the bush and all that!" He nodded, knowingly as he said this and, unsure of what to say I nodded as well. He beamed a heroic smile (three teeth missing and a twinkle in his eye) and we headed on our way.
A Hero's Life
I arrived in Godville weary from the road, but I had a hero to find and my Lady to please, so I began my enquiries. Newly created heroes are hard to find; without a temple, guild, or bar tab in their name I could only ask and hope someone had seen her. After trying all my trader contacts and still without any leads, I resigned myself to eat and rest a while before taking to the streets. It was then that I found the words of my Lady burned into some toast.
"Volunteer at the hospital, you will find her there."
Of course! Only the laziest of heroes would return to town from questing without any wounds to heal. I momentarily considered saving the toast as a token from my Lady, but decided to eat it anyway.
Godville General Hospital is one of the most unseemly providers of basic aid a person can find in Godville, which is why it’s patronized almost exclusively by the heroes with nowhere else to go: the guildless, penniless, and newly created heroes. I passed a doctor diluting the healing potions and switching the extra lives with anti-depressants while one of the nurses helped herself to a few coins from the pockets of a hero she was wheeling to the door of the recovery room. I headed for reception.
"Volunteer? You want to volunteer? Here?" the nurse at reception asked, incredulous.
I’m hoping to meet someone... I want to give back... I’m doing a story for the Godville news... "I lost a bet," is what I finally settled on.
"Must have been some wager! Look, if you want to help, you can grab a clip board and start getting the details of the casualties as they come in. Good luck on the ones with BrAiN dAmAge" She handed me a stack of admittance forms, a chewed up pen and pointed in the direction of admitting.
The day wore on in a series of traumatically injured heroes. The worst injuries were to a victim of a Thesaurus Rex whose bites were vicious, savage, ferocious, and barbaric.
"Can you hear me? I was asking for your name, Miss?" I robotically asked the latest casualty wearing only a set of rather hazardous looking prison manacles as a form of armour.
"Evangelione, with an ‘e’. I think it’s Latin for something; languages are all Greek to me."
I smiled; I had finally found my Lady’s vessel. "I think it means ‘the bearer of the Lion's gospel’."
"Wow! Meeting someone that speaks Latin and selling sand to some desert nomads to complete my first quest on the same day, who would have guessed? Of course, it’s my first day, so what would I know? Are all days special like this?" she asked, eyes filled with wonder.
Placing my hand on a part of her shoulder that looked the least bruised, I said "You’re a hero, Evangelione with an ‘e’, so for you they will be."
At that moment a light filled the room and several nurses, patients, and various outdated magazines gained a glow of radiant health while Evangelione remained in tatters.
Unable to follow Evangelione on the road, I had to wait for the stories of her exploits to reach town, carried by the voices of her friends carousing in the taverns.
“...when Evangelione punched the Terracotta Worrier twice for flinching, I nearly started to laugh right there in the middle of the boss monster fight, but when she sneezed so hard it flew, I mean FLEW backwards showering little health bar pixels all over, I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s a good thing the Terracotta Worrier decided to have a nap mid-swing or I’d have had my wits knocked out. We each got golden bricks and enough coins for a night on the town. Next one’s on me, folks!”
"I was lying in a field, quivering, shaking and I’m not sure what I looked like, but it must have been deathly. Evangelione happened to be fleeing from a ManBearPig and found me. She picked me up, dusted me off, and offered me a beer. Afterwards I was good to go."
Occasionally, I’d be fortunate enough to find Evangelione in one of the taverns, freshly patched from the hospital and looking to raise a glass or several to a completed quest.
"...did you know Godville has an offischeel..offical...official sign language? I did not know that. Did you? Anyways, where was I, oh yeah, sign language. Do you know how hard it is to teach a mime sign language? Hard. They keep getting trapped in these invischible...invibbible...invisible boxes instead of paying attention. And monsters, totally unhelpful with this."
I’m not sure if she remembered some of those nights, I can only imagine the hangover the next day. Heroes, townspeople might roll their eyes at the carousing and spending they do, but with death lying just outside of town for them. I don’t begrudge them their in-town revelry.
I was trading Alpha Centaur coats when I saw some strange fiery letters fading out on the horizon "Evangelione has entered the arena, you must go, my scribe". I apologized to my customer for leaving during our bartering and made my way to the arena.
I have attended many fights at the arena over the years, but this one had me feeling like it was my first. My hurried walk became a run as the adrenaline of finally seeing Evangelione fight overtook me. I had no trouble finding the best of seats, because even though I was excited to see the fight, Evangelione and her dueling partner were both first time duellers and had not drawn much of a crowd. Though they were few, they were a charitable audience and offered to take a collection to provide for the winner, knowing that neither fighter would have much of their own gold to offer. Of course pity only goes so far, the greater the spectacle the more ‘charitable’ the audience was going to be.
I was close enough to the field to see how laughable Evangelione’s armour was. She had upgraded from the prisoner’s handcuffs, but her equipment appeared to be more hindrance than protection. Were those wooden wings she was wearing as armour? Her opponent was clad in similarly questionable attire. His fish scale armour did little to intimidate Evangelione and only seemed to succeed in making the audience hold their noses as he circled.
Despite their amateur dress and lack of arena experience, both heroes didn’t reach level 11 without fighting formidable monsters. As they prepared to fight, their burgeoning warrior skills could be seen. Evangelione turned sideways, leaving her opponent with a view of her stunned turtle shield and little else. Her foe, knowing that Evangelione had limited reach with her garden shears, held his knotty stick mid-length, maintaining his superior reach and giving her both ends of his weapon to worry about. The crowd clamoured as the heroes began to fight.
Both heroes, poorly outfitted for the fight, resorted to trickery to strengthen their blows. Evangelione threw a cheap shot while the judge was distracted by someone in the crowd, only to have her challenger’s mouth open so wide she was cut by his fillings. Without missing any time, he pointed behind Evangelione and, distracted, she never saw the knotty stick before it connected with her wooden wings. She teetered in her ranger’s boots and nearly dropped her death rattle talisman.
Light surrounded Evangelione as her Goddess revealed her support. Evangelione’s wounds healed and her strength returned. Bolstered by her Goddess’s presence, Evangelione made a double attack on her adversary, she began to sing, making his ears bleed and then dealt a solid blow. Evangelione began a victory lap while her opponent was reeling. The lap was premature, her opponent’s God had not forsaken him and called out to his champion to heal his wounds. Her adversary found some iodine and applied it to his cuts and scrapes. He regained his footing and fingered the ears necklace he wore as a talisman. Evangelione, undismayed, returned to face her challenger. She threw down one of her mittens of weakness and invited her challenger to attack when he was ready.
The audience continued to add to the collection as Evangelione and her competitor continued their match. Punches and kicks were frantic, with booming voices from both Gods encouraging their vessels to smite the other. Finally, when the dust settled, Evangelione stood battered, but triumphant. The crowd was thrilled with the match and, knowing where my contribution was going, I threw in the profit I had made that morning on coats.
Evangelione was awarded the audience’s collection, a gold brick and the meagre purse from her vanquished opponent. Both heroes needed to be carried off the field of battle to have their wounds dressed by arena doctors. I shook my head at the violence I had just witnessed, consoled by the knowledge that they had gained some experience that would help them on their quests and that the arena hospital would take better care of them then Godville General Hospital ever would. I was glad that Evangelione had won her first arena battle, but I knew it wouldn’t be her last visit to the arena. It was inevitable that one day she would be beaten, the laws of Random so often brought down the mighty, and I would see my Lady’s champion vanquished on the field. Maybe not the next fight, or the one after, but eventually every hero sees defeat.
In Godville, it doesn’t take long for new heroes to realize they need more than friends and drinking partners to succeed in their quests, they need the influence and aid of a guild. Evangelione was no exception. At level 10 she had already started considering her guild options. One night at a favourite tavern of hers, I saw her reading through the guild pages of the Godville times.
"Looking at guilds?" I asked her as I sat down at her table. I signaled the waitress to bring us some fresh drinks.
"There’s so many to choose from, Paranthelion, I’ve been giving this whole guild-thing some serious thought. I could use some advice because while like the badges of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, I also like to say "Ni! Ni!", and then there’s that little guild on the edge of town with only 40 members that keeps sending me flyers..."
"Evangelione, have you asked your Goddess for advice?" I prodded.
"I could do the same thing I saw another hero do; blindfold myself in the main square while holding a pin and then walk towards the guilds' message board. Whatever guild gets the pin, gets me as a new member!" She said, emphatically
"And your Goddess said...?" I prodded again.
"Maybe I should pick one with a really great name, something inspiring with a little ‘strikes fear in the heart of monsters’ kind of ring to it." she said, excitedly.
It was clear from the conversation that Evangelione was aware of guilds, but not yet ready for the responsibility of guild membership and it was little wonder why guilds had restricted membership to level 12 heroes. I briefly imagined a gaggle of level 9 heroes pledging to whichever guild some authoritative tavern owner told them to join. I smiled to myself and then ordered another round of drinks. Arivelle would make her thoughts known on the matter in due time, I suspected, when Evangelione was ready.
Shortly after Evangelione's Level 12 party, I noticed the characteristic blue moonstone pendent hanging from Evangelione’s neck. Indeed, Arivelle had selected wisely, the Blue Feather Guild was well known in this town. Evangelione was not yet convinced.
"I joined Blue Feather and sure I like the free equipment, doctors, coins and prestige that comes with it, but I feel a bit lost amongst all the members. The other day the guild rooms were so full I had to take my nap on the toilet. Lucky for me I found 960 coins, but that’s not the point. I think I might be better off in a smaller, more personal guild, right after I complete my current quest." she said.
"Do you think your Goddess will let you?" I asked, smiling a little as I did.
“She can’t watch me all the time!... She can’t, can she?” she said, looking a trifle worried.
“She probably can.” I replied.
“Oh well, can’t blame a hero for trying!” she said, her brief worry relieved by her naivety.
“That, she definitely can do.” I mused.
I was having a drink with the guild members from Black Market when I saw Evangelione across the room. For a moment I thought she was participating in a strange gesture-based drinking game, but when we made eye contact, I realized she was enthusiastically trying to draw me over. Excusing myself from the table I signaled the barkeep to bring a couple of fresh pints to Evangelione’s table and sat down to see what the latest news was for my protagonist.
Evangelione, suddenly surreptitious, covertly opens her coat to show one of her inside pockets. Inside, barely able to see over the edge of the pocket, was a ninja tortoise.
“His name is Tigger! I met him while questing and, well, I just HAD to keep him. Isn’t he grand? Look at those little webbed toes!” she bubbled.
Tigger, on cue, waved his little toes at me from his pocket vantage point.
“Evangelione, are you ready pet ownership?” I asked, knowing that ninja tortoises, while formidable foes to heroes, aren’t known for their travelling skills. A friend of mine told me he was once chased back to town by a ninja tortoise, he’s certain of it because he waited at each milestone to make sure it was still coming. “They won’t stay pocket-sized forever.”
“Oh Paranthelion, you’ll understand when you find a pet of your own. When you know, you know.” she said, emphatically.
After that initial meeting, I saw Evangelione several more times, usually from a distance, and each time she had developed some new way to haul an increasingly cumbersome ninja tortoise around. I think my personal favourite was the tortoise-bonnet, complete with ribbon around her chin to keep him from falling off
Evangelione was a better pet owner than I had ever expected and Tigger was certainly devoted to her, knocking himself out twice to save her. It was clear to both, in the end, that they weren’t well matched. Evangelione, wanted to be on the road questing and though Tigger loved the temple life, he couldn’t keep up with the rat race for bricks. Their parting was solemn, but respectful, she told me one night over pints in the tavern. I didn’t have the heart to show her the little dust bunny I had in my inside coat pocket that, with great bravado, I had named 'Behemoth'.
Evangelione mourned for many days, but quests are long, Gods are busy, and the corresponding loneliness can make any monster start looking like an admirable companion. I remember to the hour the day Evangelione found her second pet because Arivelle had something to say about it.
“Make her get rid of it.” She said, as she attempted to coax my lap-sized dust bunny into her lap.
“Get rid of it? How am I supposed to make her get rid of it?” I asked.
“Heroes get rid of pets all the time, I’m sure you are more familiar with the mechanics than I am.” she responded, waving a treat at my soon-to-be won over Behemoth.
“My Lady, you aren’t suggesting that Toto should have a nasty ‘accident’ while Evangelione is low on coins, are you?” I gasped.
“No, no! Nothing as crude as that... that’s not possible...is it?” she answered, but I was unable to determine the level of sincerity of her denial given the cutie-pie faces she was exchanging with Behemoth, her now friend-for-life.
“No, it’s not possible to...er...predict when Toto will have an accident. Pets sacrifice themselves for their owners on their own schedule.” I responded. For a moment I thought to ask why Arivelle was so against a ballpoint penguin, but I realized I could already guess the answer. Toto was likely to have the same problems as Tigger, fun at first, when they are pocket-sized, but eventually she would be lugging Toto around in some carry-sack just as she had done with Tigger. I briefly pictured what a ballpoint penguin hat might look like.
“Why couldn’t she have gotten a nice, furry, four-legged pet such as a sun dog or a firefox? I would have been happy with a fuzzy wuzzy dust bunny like you!” She cooed to Behemoth, who had entered some sort of ecstasy-coma from the way she was massaging his ears and was now drooling slightly onto her dress in response to her question. By the look of it, my beloved dust bunny wasn’t going to be having any timely accidents in the near future and I was very relieved. Life without Behemoth wouldn’t be the same, even if he was a traitorous, Goddess-loving suck up.
I don’t think Evangelione ever caught on to how unsupportive her Goddess was to her new found companion. When trying to save coins to revive Toto, she never seemed to question the unusual trips to the arena or the sudden increased instances of coins being melted into bricks. Evangelione always seemed to persevere in resurrecting Toto.
“Paranthelion, you won’t believe it! I was had all this money saved and my inventory was nearly full, but I was worried it wasn’t going to be enough to save poor Toto. Then, like magic, I was whisked away to the arena and they gave me a brick for just getting there! That was exactly what I needed!” she told me one night.
“But, the duel? What happened to the money?” I asked, knowing she had successful resurrected Toto that afternoon and that Arivelle was unlikely to have supported her in the fight.
“Well, I was worried about that too, except I got to the arena and found Ariace had just arrived moments after I did. She was there to make money to resurrect her own pet and so we got chatting about our favourite pet stories and she was telling me about this sweater she knitted once for Buck, her dandy lion, and before we knew it the arena officials were telling us our time was up and we would have to leave without a fight. I sure was happy to be leaving with my heavy purse intact, but I could tell Ariace had hoped she would match with someone with a heavy purse and inattentive god.” she explained.
I’m a writer and even I could not imagine the breadth and depth of curse words Arivelle must have used when she sent Evangelione to match with Ariace and the two of them had timed out instead. I imagine the litany had been repeated when Evangelione’s arena-acquired gold brick secured the funds needed to bring back Toto.
Toto, at 22, was almost as tall as Evangelione and only slightly slower at travelling around Godville than a god voice caught in the lag. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t zag when he should have zagged and the monster’s zig knocked him out again. Evangelione might have gotten lucky all times previous, but this was to be Toto's final knock out. Evangelione’s face was still puffy from saying her goodbyes when she ran into me. Knowing how upset she must be, I took her to the tavern and, well, let’s just say we spent every penny of Toto's healing fund that Arivelle hadn’t managed to squander. I can’t recall much from the conversation, but I do remember Evangelione yelling rather loudly to one of the guild leader’s busts in the Blue Feather lobby that she was “never never never never going to get another pet”.
Evangelione held onto her oath much longer than I thought she would. Whether she delayed out of reverence for Toto, some defiance against Arivelle, or that slow moving monsters were in short supply, I couldn’t say, but when I saw her next she was still without a companion. Seeing her head out on the road, alone, made me feel guilty for recently scolding Behemoth for chewing my Meme catcher. Travelling alone is a good way to season a young hero, but it can harden an experienced one. I hoped Arivelle knew what she was doing.
The Goddess knew more than I did because I never guessed I would see Evangelione ride into town. Her stead was a young, but gallant Trojan horse and though he looked a little uncertain with concept of being ridden, he proudly strode through town. Having spotted me, Evangelione nudged her mount in my direction and the two made their way over too me in fine style, that is until the Trojan horse stopped, gave a little shake like he was irritated by a fly and Evangelione fell off. Even covered in mud and weary from the road, I could tell Evangelione was thrilled with her new pet.
“Isn’t he swell? You should have seen the fight he gave me, nearly did me in! I was about to finish him off and, well, there was just something in those eyes that I couldn’t resist. I think he looks like a 'Stitch', all stitched together with wood and all.” she said, as she reached up and rubbed the knot on Stitch’s forehead tenderly.
Looking at Stitch’s strong back and long legs I knew that Evangelione’s pet-hats and slow travel days were over; Arivelle was probably beaming wherever she happened to be. Smiling knowingly, I said, “I’m sure the two of you are going to get along really well, for a really long time.”
Evangelione is not much of a writer, a quick glance at her diary will confirm her mediocrity at turning a phrase, but she does have a knack for drawing. Pinned into the inside cover of her current diary is a sketch of Stitch, likely drawn when questing, perhaps when resting under a tree. He’s still got a bit of a wild look in his eye and noble tilt to his head. He’s no Behemoth, but I can still see why she adores him.
The party Evangelione held to celebrate the opening of her new temple to Arivelle was epic, what I can remember of it anyway. My memory of the event starts to get foggy around the time people started a pet-wrestling competition. One of the last things I remember is a conversation I had with Evangelione, who was parading around in a pink feather boa she had lifted from Blue Feather Guild’s founder statue.
“I’m jealous,” I yell back, genuinely; I’m thinking about the not-yet-temple-sized pile of gold bricks I have under a tarp on a lovely little patch of grass near a creek. I was making a killing buying heroes’ loot outside of town and then reselling back in town.
“I’ve finally done it! It’s over!” she declares.
“What do you mean, ‘over’,” I ask, sensing an unusual finality in Evangelione’s comments.
“I mean it’s over. Arivelle has her temple, with her picture window, comfy chair and fireplace that she requested. I’m finished now, no more quests, no more duels, no more hoarding gold to buy bricks. I’ve never felt this free!” she explains.
“Evangelione,” I start, my mind racing to find the words to prepare her for what comes next, but I needn’t have bothered because just then the doors of the temple opened and in steps the largest, ugliest, monster I had yet laid eyes on. Armed with a massive piece of wood laying casually on his shoulder it was quite an entrance. The music stops. The dancing stops. The pets, mid-choke hold, stop.
“Is…ahem..is this Arivelle’s temple, built by the heroine Evangelione?” the monster asks. No one responds.
“Uh, is one of you Evangelione?” the monster tries again. This time everyone responds by pointing at the pink boa clad Evangelione, who was doing her best to look like the Blue Feather Founder statue.
“Um, sorry about the confusion, you all look the same to me,” the monster offers as an explanation. Stepping forward he queries, “Look, here’s a gopher wood plank, do you think you could remember me when you build your ark? I enjoy marshmallow roasting, playing horseshoes, and sinking ships, would love to meet a like-minded feminal to settle down with.” He extends the wooden plank towards Evangelione.
Evangelione stands there, motionless, mouth agape. I was only slightly less stunned, but manage to reach over and physically move Evangelione’s arms outwards to accept the plank. The manimal nods in my general direction and places the plank on Evangelione’s arms.
“Right, that’s that then, uh, bye,” the manimal concludes as he turns and heads back out the door.
“Paranthelion? What… what just happened there?” she stammers.
“I think you were just tasked with building an ark.” I tell her while placing a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.
“But…but…I was free!” she protests, still clinging to whatever fantasy life she had imagined would come after building a temple. “I need a drink. Lots of drinks.”
“I can probably help you with that,” I offer, which is the last thing I can remember. What a night!
More chronicles to come. Please rate Evangelione's chronicles.