Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Out of Retirement

There's a saying that heroes never die; they just fade away. That's blatantly true, of course, at least the last part. Heroes can't fade away any more than the stories the inhabit do. They're remembered, discussed, remade, re-imagined, and honored long after “the end.” Oh, they're forgotten sometimes, but inevitably they're returned to, either from fresh eyes and mind or when an old fan longs for the tales of their past.

But if heroes never fade away, what do they do when their stories aren't being told. Well, like the people who listen, observer, or participate in the stories, they remember their past and reminisce. So it goes at places like the Onion Knight Home for Semi-Retired Heroes. Well, semi-retired heroes and villains, technically, but they don't put that part in the sign. Not that the heroes particularly care. The battles were fought once and they will be fought again, but in between, there's no point in holding a grudge. Besides, worthy arch-nemeses are one in a million; the other “villains” exist to do little more than get in the hero's way for a few minutes.

“Minutes?” laughed Cyclonic Antipathy, who managed to save the world some 237 times by his last count, but now was content to rest on a park bench in the in the home's park. “Try seconds. Not even that long, if my Ultra-Slay power was active.”

Goblin # 1,620, who once felt the sting of death as often as most people breathed, harrumphed in his chair next to his best friend/regular murderer. “Not all the time,” he pointed out. “We had our moments. Not many, of course. But that time you were returning home from a dungeon, barely alive, and we got the chance to hit first. Oh, I lived for those days. Died for them, too.”

“That didn't count,” Cyclonic grumbled. “We had 90 healing potions to spare, but NOOOO, our storyteller was in such a hurry. I swear that even across the rift between our reality and his, I could hear him uttering the most unpleasant oaths. Considering our adventure was rated everyone 10 and older, so it was highly inappropriate.”

Goblin # 1,620 laughed and added, “Oh, speaking of bad words, remember that time when the storyteller's friend borrowed our story ...”

“Don't you dare,” Cyclonic growled, but the goblin ignored him.

“And when they entered your name, they called you ASSBUTT?” the goblin burst out laughing. “Thirty hours of a destined hero named ASSBUTT saving the world from pure evil. Hell, I bet you won a lot of fights just because we couldn't keep a straight face when fighting you.”

Cyclonic complained, “Storytellers have no respect nowadays. And did they have to put it in all caps? Our story has the lower-case letters for a reason. Anyway, you seem pretty smug for somebody who lost so often.”

Goblin # 1,620 waved a finger at Cyclonic. “Oh, I wouldn't say that. We did the math on that once. Sure, you thwarted our dark lord a bunch of times. But if you compare it to the times you died on the way, we still have a 20:1 win rate over the forces of good.”

“That stupid lava dragon,” Cyclonic muttered.

“Yeah, that was a ridiculously overpowered part of the story,” the goblin agreed. “But enough about that. You up for a game of checkers?”

But it would not be a day for checkers. Somewhere in the reality of the storytellers, perhaps while cleaning the home or just while bored, idle hands find a game, and childhood memories of their adventures with Cyclonic (and decidedly not ASSBUTT,) flooded back. A game system is dusted off, and an afternoon spent telling the story once again. And Goblin # 1,620 didn't even mind when Cyclonic sliced him in half and moved on without a second glance. With enough time, any memories become fond memories.